The History of The Kings of England 28

William of Malmesbury

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Now, too, in the month of September, Robert earl of Normandy, brother of king William whose name is prefixed to this book, earnestly desiring to enter on the expedition, had as his companions Robert of Flanders, and Stephen of Blois who had married his sister. They were earls of noble lineage and corresponding valour. Under their command were the English and Normans, the Western Franks and people of Flanders, and all the tribes which occupy the continental tract from the British Ocean to the Alps. Proceeding on their journey, at Lucca they found pope Urban, who being enraged at Guibert, as I have said, was, by the assistance of Matilda, carrying war into Italy and around the city of Rome. He had now so far succeeded that the Roman people, inclining to his party, were harassing that of Guibert, both by words and blows; nor did the one faction spare the other, either in the churches or in the streets, until Guibert, being weakest, left the see vacant for Urban, and fled to Germany.

Of Rome, formerly the mistress of the globe, but which now, in comparison of its ancient state, appears a small town; and of the Romans, once “Sovereigns over all and the gowned nation,” who are now the most fickle of men, bartering justice for gold, and dispensing with the canons for money; of this city and its inhabitants, I say, whatever I might attempt to write, has been anticipated by the verses of Hildebert, first, bishop of Mans, and afterwards archbishop of Tours.” Which I insert, not to assume the honour acquired by another man’s labour, but rather as a proof of a liberal mind, while not envying his fame, I give testimony to his charming poetry.

Rome, still thy ruins grand beyond compare,
Thy former greatness mournfully declare,
Though time thy stately palaces around
Hath strewed, and cast thy temples to the ground.
Fallen is the power, the power Araxes dire
Regiets now gone, and dreaded when entire;
Which arms and laws, and even the gods on high
Bade o’er the world assume the mastery;
Which guilty Caesar rather had enjoyed
Alone, than e’er a fostering hand employed.
Which gave to foes, to vice, to friends its care,
Subdued, restrained, or bade its kindness share
This growing power the holy fathers reared.
Where near the stream the favouring spot appeared
From either pole, materials, artists meet,
And rising wails their proper station greet;
Kings gave their treasures, favouring too was fate.
And arts and riches on the structure wait.
Fallen is that city, whose proud fame to reach,
I merely say, “Rome was,” there fails my speech.
Still neither time’s decay, nor sword, nor fire,
Shall cause its beauty wholly to expire.
Human exertions raised that splendid Rome,
Which gods in vain shall strive to overcome.
Bid wealth, bid marble, and bid fate attend,
And watchful artists o’er the labour bend.
Still shall the matchless ruin art defy
The old to rival, or its loss supply.
Here gods themselves their sculptured forms admire,
And only to reflect those forms aspire;
Nature unable such like gods to form,
Left them to man’s creative genius warm;
Life breathes within them, and the suppliant falls.
Not to the God, but statues in the walls.
City thrice blessed ! were tyrants but away.
Or shame compelled them justice to obey.

Are not these sufficient to point out in such a city, both the dignity of its former advantages, and the majesty of its present ruin ? But that nothing may be wanting to its honour, I will add the number of its gates, and the multitude of its sacred relics; and that no person may complain of his being deprived of any knowledge by the obscurity of the narrative, the description shall run in an easy and familiar style.

The first is the Cornelian gate, which is now called the gate of St. Peter, and the Cornelian way. Near it is situated the church of St. Peter, in which his body lies, decked with gold and silver, and precious stones: and no one knows the number of the holy martyrs who rest in that church. On the same way is another church, in which lie the holy virgins Rufina and Secunda. In a third church, are Marius and Martha, and Audifax and Abacuc, their sons.

The second is the Flaminian gate, which is now called the gate of St. Valentine,! and the Flaminian way, and when it arrives at the Milvian bridge, it takes the name of the Ras’ennanian way, because it leads to Ravenna; and there, at the first stone without the gate, St. Valentine rests in his church.

The third is called the Porcinian gate, and the way the same; but where it joins the Salarian, it loses its name, and there, nearly in the spot which is called Cucumeris, lie the martyrs, Festus, Johannes, Liberalis, Diogenes, Blastus, Lucina, and in one sepulchre, the Two Hundred and Sixty, in another, the Thirty.

The fourth is the Salarian gate and way; now called St. Silvester’s. Here, near the road, lie St. Hermes, and St. Vasella, and Prothus, and Jacinctus, Maxilian, Herculan, Crispus; and, in another place, hard by, rest the holy martyrs Pamphilus and Quirinus, seventy steps beneath the surface. Next is the church of St. Felicity, where she rests, and Silanus her son; and not far distant, Boniface the martyr. In another church, there are Crisantus, and Daria, and Saturninus, and Maurus, and Jason, and their mother Hilaria, and others innumerable. And in another church, St. Alexander, Vitalis, Martiahs, sons of St. Felicity; and seven holy virgins, Saturnina, Hilarina, Duranda, Rogantina, Serotina, Paulina, Donata. Next the church of St. Silvester, where he lies under a marble tomb; and the martyrs, Celestinus, Philippus, and Felix; and there too, the Three Hundred and Sixty-five martyrs rest in one sepulchre; and near them lie Paulus and Crescentianus, Prisca and Semetrius, Praxides and Potentiana.

The fifth is called the Numentan gate. There lies St. Nicomede, priest and martyr; the way too is called by the same name. Near the road are the church and body of St. Agnes; in another church, St. Ermerenciana, and the martyrs, Alexander, Felix, Papias; at the seventh stone on this road rests the holy pope Alexander, with Euentius and Theodolus.

The sixth is the Tiburtine gate and way, which is now called St. Lawrence’s: near this way lies St. Lawrence in his church, and Habundius the martyr: and near this, in another church, rest these martyrs, Ciriaca, Romanus, Justinus, Crescentianus; and not far from hence the church of St. Hyppolitus, where he himself rests, and his family, eighteen in number; there too repose, St. Trifonia, the wife of Decius, and his daughter Cirilla, and her nurse Concordia. And in another part of this way is the church of Agapit the martyr.

The seventh is called, at present, the Greater gate, formerly the Seracusan, and the way the Lavicanian, which leads to St. Helena. Near this are Peter, Marcellinus, Tyburtius, Geminus, Gorgonius, and the Forty Soldiers,! and others without number; and a little farther the Four Coronati.

The eighth is the gate of St. John, which by the ancients was called Assenarica. The ninth gate is called Metrosa; and in front of both these runs the Latin way. The tenth is called the Latin gate, and way. Near this, in one church, lie the martyrs, Gordianus and Epimachus, Sulpicius, Servilianus, Quintinus, Quartus, Sophia, Triphenus. Near this too, in another spot, Tertullinus, and not far distant, the church of St. Eugenia, in which she lies, and her mother Claudia, and pope Stephen, with nineteen of his clergy, and Nemesius the deacon.

The eleventh is called the Appian gate and way. There lie St. Sebastian, and Quirinus, and originally the bodies of the apostles rested there. A little nearer Rome, are the martyrs, Januarius, Urbanus, Xenon, Quirinus, Agapetus, Felicissimus; and in another church, Tyburtius, Valerianus, Maximus. Not far distant is the church of the martyr Cecilia; and there are buried Stephanus, Sixtus, Zeiferinus, Eusebius, Melchiades, Marcellus, Eutychianus, Dionysius, Antheros, Pontianus, pope Lucius, Optacius, Julianus, Calocerus, Parthenius, Tharsicius, Politanus, martyrs: there too is the church and body of St. Cornelius: and in another church, St. Sotheris: and not far off, rest the martyrs, Hippolytus, Adrianus, Eusebius, Maria, Martha, Paulina, Valeria, Marcellus, and near, pope Marcus in his church.

Between the Appian and Ostiensian way, is the Ardeatine way, where are St. Marcus, and Marcellianus. And there lies pope Damasus in his church; and near him St. Petronilla, and Nereus, and Achilleus, and many more.

The twelfth gate and way is called the Ostiensian, but, at present, St. Paul’s, because he lies near it in his church. There too is the martyr Timotheus: and near, in the church of St. Tecla, are the martyrs Felix, Audactus, and Nemesius. At the Three Fountains is the head of the martyr St. Anastasius.

The thirteenth is called the Portuan gate and way; near which in a church are the martyrs, Felix, Alexander, Abdon and Sennes, Symeon, Anastasius, PoKon, Vincentius, Milex, Candida, and Innocentia.

The fourteenth is the Aurelian gate and way, which now is called the gate of St. Pancras, because he lies near it in his church, and the other martyrs, Paulinus, Arthemius, St. Sapientia, with her three daughters. Faith, Hope, and Charity. In another church. Processus and Martinianus; and, in a third, two Felixes; in a fourth Calixtus, and Calepodius; in a fifth St. Basilides. At the twelfth milliary within the city, on Mount Celius, are the martyrs Johannes, and Paulus, in their dwelling, which was made a church after their martyrdom: and Crispin and Crispinianus, and St. Benedicta. On the same mount, is the church of St. Stephen, the first martyr; and there are buried the martynrs Primus, and Felicianus; on Mount Aventine St. Boniface; and on Mount Nola, St. Tatiana rests.

Such are the Roman sanctuaries; such the sacred pledges upon earth: and yet in the midst of this heavenly treasure, as it Avere, a people drunk with senseless fury, even at the very time the crusaders arrived, were disturbing everything with wild ambition, and, when unable to satisfy their lust of money, pouring out the blood of their fellow citizens over the very bodies of the saints. The earls, confiding then in Urban’s benediction, having passed tbrough Tuscany and Campania, came by Apulia to Calabria, and would have embarked immediately had not the seamen, on being consulted, forbade them, on account of the violence of the southerly winds. In consequence, the earls of Normandy and Blois passed the winter there; sojourning each among their friends, as convenient. The earl of Flanders, alone, ventured to sea, experiencing a prosperous issue to a rash attempt: wherefore part of this assembled multitude returned home through want; and part of them died from the unwholesomeness of the climate. The earls who remained however, when by the vernal sun’s return they saw the sea sufficiently calm for the expedition, committed themselves to the ocean, and, by Christ’s assistance, landed safely at two ports. Thence, through Thessaly, the metropolis of which is Thessalonica, and Thracia, they came to Constantinople. Many of the lower order perished on the march through disease and want; many lost their lives at the Devil’s Ford, as it is called from its rapidity; and more indeed would have perished, had not the advanced cavalry been stationed in the river, to break the violence of the current; by which means the lives of some were saved, and the rest passed over on horseback. The whole multitude then, to solace themselves for their past labours, indulged in rest for fifteen days, pitching their camp in the suburbs of the city; of which, as the opportunity has presented itself, I shall briefly speak.

Constantinople was first called Byzantium: which name is still preserved by the imperial money called Bezants. St. Aldhelm, in his book On Virginity, relates that it changed its appellation by divine suggestion: his words are as follow. As Constantine was sleeping in this city, he imagined that there stood before him an old woman, whose forehead was furrowed with age; but, that presently, clad in an imperial robe, she became transformed into a beautiful girl, and so fascinated his eyes, by the elegance of her youthful charms, that he could not refrain from kissing her: that Helena, his mother, being present, then said, “She shall be yours for ever; nor shall she die, till the end of time.” The solution of this dream, when he awoke, the emperor extorted from heaven, by fasting and almsgiving. And behold, within eight days, being cast again into a deep sleep, he thought he saw pope Silvester, who died some little time before, regarding his convert with complacency, and saying, “You have acted with your customary prudence, in waiting for a solution, from God, of that enigma which was beyond the comprehension of man. The old woman you saw, is this city, worn down by age, whose time-struck walls, menacing approaching ruin, require a restorer. But you, renewing its walls, and its affluence, shall signalize it also with your name; and here shall the imperial progeny reign for ever. You shall not, however, lay the foundations at your own pleasure; but mounting the horse on which, when in the novitiate of your faith, you rode round the churches of the apostles at Rome, you shall give him the rein, and liberty to go whither he please: you shall have, too, in your hand, your royal spear, whose point shall describe the circuit of the wall on the ground. You will be regulated, therefore, in what manner to dispose the foundations of the wall by the track of the spear on the earth.”

The emperor eagerly obeyed the vision, and built a city equal to Rome; alleging that the emperor ought not to reign in Rome, where the martyred apostles, from the time of Christ, held dominion. He built in it two churches, one of which was dedicated to peace; the other to the apostles; bringing thither numerous bodies of saints, who might conciliate the assistance of God against the incursions of its enemies. He placed in the circus, for the admiration and ornament of the city, the statues of triumphal heroes, brought from Rome, and the tripods from Delphi; and the images of heathen deities to excite the contempt of the beholders. They relate that it was highly gratifying to the mind of the emperor, to receive a mandate from heaven, to found a city in that place, where the fruitfulness of the soil, and the temperature of the atmosphere conduced to the health of its inhabitants: for as he was bom in Britain, he could not endure the burning heat of the sun. But Thracia is a province Europe, as the poets observe, extremely cool, “From Hebrus’ ice, and the Bistonian north;” and near to Mcesia, where, as Virgil remarks, “With wonder Gargara the harvest sees.” Constantinople, then, washed by the sea, obtains the mingled temperature both of Europe and of Asia; because, from a short distance, the Asiatic east tempers the severity of the northern blast. The city is surrounded by a vast extent of walls, yet the influx of strangers is so great, as to make it crowded. In consequence they form a mole in the sea, by throwing in masses of rock, and loads of sand; and the space obtained by this new device, straitens the ancient waters. The sea wonders to see fields unknown before, amid its glassy waves; and surrounds and supplies its city with all the conveniences of the earth. The town is encompassed on every side, except the north, by the ocean, and is full of angles in the circuit of its walls, where it corresponds with the-windings of the sea; which walls contain a space of twenty miles in circumference. The Danube, which is likewise called the Ister, flows in hidden channels under ground, into the city; and on certain days being let out by the removal of a plug, it carries off the filth of the streets into the sea. All vied with the emperor in noble zeal to give splendour to this city, each thinking he was bound to advance the work in hand: one contributing holy relics, another riches, Constantine all things.

After Constantine the Great, the following emperors reigned here. Constantine his son; Julian the Apostate; Jovinian, Valens, Theodosius the Great; Arcadius, Theodosius the Younger; Marchianus, Leo the First; Zeno, Anastasius, Justin the Great; Justinian, who, famed for his literature and his wars, built a church in Constantinople to Divine Wisdom; that is, to the Lord Jesus Christ, which he called Hagia Sophia; a work, as they report, surpassing every other edifice in the world, and where ocular inspection proves it superior to its most pompous descriptions: Justin the Younger; Tiberius, Mauricius, the first Greek; Focas, Heraclius, Heracleonas, Constans, Constantine, the son of Heraclius; who, coming to Rome, and purloining all the remains of ancient decoration, stripped the churches even of their brazen tiles, anxiously wishing for triumphal honours, at Constantinople, even from such spoils as these; his covetousness, however, turned out unfortunately for him, for being shortly after killed at Syracuse, he left all these honourable spoils to be conveyed to Alexandria by the Saracens; Constantine, Leo the Second; Justinian, again Justinian, Tiberius, Anastasius, Philippicus, Theodosius, Leo the Third; all these reigned both at Constantinople and at Rome: the following in Constantinople only; Constantine, Leo, Constantine, Nicephorus, Stauratius, Michael, Theophilus, Michael, Basilius, Leo, Alexander, Constantine, two Eomanuses, Nicephorus, Focas, Johannes, Basilius, Romanus, Michael, Constantine, Theodora the empress, Michael, Sachius, Constantine, Romanus, Diogenes, Nicephorus, Buthanus, Michael; who, driven from the empire by Alexius, secretly fled to Guiscard in Apulia, and surrendering to him his power, imagined he had done something prejudicial to Alexius: hence Guiscard’s ambition conceived greater designs; falsely persuading himself that he might acquire by industry, what the other had lost by inactivity: how far he succeeded, the preceding book hath explained. In the same city is the cross of our Saviour, brought by Helena from Jerusalem. There too rest the apostles, Andrew, James the brother of our Lord; Matthias: the prophets Elizeus, Daniel, Samuel, and many others: Luke the Evangelist: martyrs innumerable: confessors, Johannes Chrysostom, Basilius, Gregorious Nazianzen, Spiridion: virgins, Agatha, Lucia; and lastly all the saints whose bodies the emperors were able to collect thither out of every country.

The earls, then, of Normandy and Blois, did homage to the Greek. For the earl of Flanders had already passed on, disdaining to perform this ceremony, from the recollection that he was freely born and educated. The others, giving and receiving promises of fidelity, proceeded in the first week of June to Nice, which the rest had already besieged from the middle of May. Uniting, therefore, their forces, much carnage ensued on either side; since every kind of weapon could easily be hurled by the townsmen on those who were beneath them; and the arm even of the weakest had effect on persons crowded together. Moreover the Turks dragged up, with iron hooks, numberless dead bodies of our people, to mangle them in mockery; or to cast them down again when stripped of their raiment. The Franks were grieved at this: nor did they cease venting their rage by slaughter, till the Turks, wearied by extremity of suffering, on the day of the summer solstice, surrendered themselves to the emperor by means of secret messengers. He, who knew only how to consult his own advantage, gave orders to the Franks to depart: choosing rather, that the city should be reserved for the undisguised disloyalty of the Turks, than the distrusted power of the Franks. He ordered, however, silver and gold to be distributed to the chiefs, and copper coin to those of inferior rank, lest they should complain of being unrewarded. Thus the Turks, who, passing the Euphrates, had now for the space of fifty years been possessed of Bithynia, which is a part of Asia Minor that is called Romania, betook themselves to flight to the eastward. Nevertheless, when the siege was ended, they attempted, at the instigation of Solomon, who had been sovereign of all Romania, to harass the army on its advance. This man collecting, as is computed, three hundred and sixty thousand archers, attacked our people, expecting anything rather than hostility, with such violence, that overwhelmed with an iron shower of arrows, they were terrified and turned their backs. At that time, by chance, duke Godfrey and Hugh the Great, and Raimund, had taken another route, that they might plunder the enemies’ country to a wider extent, and obtain forage with more facility. But the Norman, sensible of his extreme danger, by means of expeditious messengers on a safe track, acquainted Godfrey and the rest of the approach of the Turks. They without a moment’s delay, turned against the enemy, and delivered their associates from danger. For these were now indiscriminately slaughtered in their tents, unprepared for resistance, and filling the air with prayers and lamentations. Nor did the enemy take any particular aim, but trusting his arrows to the wind, he never, from the thickness of the ranks, drew his bow in vain. What alone retarded destruction was, that the attack took place near a thicket of canes, which prevented the Turks from riding full speed. At length, however, perceiving the advanced guard of the approaching chiefs, the Christians left the thicket, and shouting the military watch-word, “It is the will of God,” they attack the scattered ranks of the enemy, making a signal to their companions, at the same time to assail them in the rear. Thus the Turks, pressed on either side, forthwith fled, shrieking with a dreadful cry, and raising a yell which reached the clouds. Nor had they recourse to their customary practice of a flying battle, but throwing down their bows, they manifested, by a flight of three successive days, something greater than mere human apprehension. Nor was there, indeed, any person to follow them; for our horses, scarce able to support life on the barren turf, were unequal to a vigorous pursuit: showing immediately their want of strength by their panting sides. Asia was formerly, it is true, a land most fruitful in corn; but, both in distant and in recent times, it had been so plundered by the savage Turks, that it could scarcely suffice for the maintenance of a small army, much less of a multitude, so vast as to threaten devouring whole harvests and drinking rivers dry. For, when they departed from Nice, they were still estimated at seven hundred thousand: of the remainder, part had been wasted by the sword, part by sickness, and still more had deserted to their homes.

Thence, then, they arrived at Heraclea by the route of Antioch and Iconium, cities of Pisidia. Here they beheld in the sky a portent fashioned like a flaming sword; the point of which extended towards the east. All the period from the kalends of July, when they left Nice, till the nones of October, had elapsed when they arrived at Antioch in Syria. The situation of this city, I should describe, had not my wish in this respect been anticipated by the eloquence of Ambrosius in Hegesippus: were I not also fearful, that I may be blamed for the perpetual digressions of my narrative. Still, however, I will relate so much as the labour I have undertaken seems to require.

Antioch, which was named after his father, Antiochus, by Seleucus, king of Asia, is surrounded with a vast wall, which even contains a mountain within it. Next to Rome, and Constantinople, and Alexandria, it obtains precedence over the cities of the world. It is secure by its walls, lofty from its situation; and if ever taken, must be gained more by ingenuity than force. The nearest river to it, which I learn is now called Fervus, though originally Orontes, falls into the sea twelve miles from the city; its tide impetuous, and growing colder from its violence, ministers to the health of the inhabitants by its effect on the atmosphere. Capable too of receiving supplies by shipping for the service of its citizens, it can at all times mock the perseverance of its besiegers. Here the venerable title of Christian was first conceived: hence, first St. Paul, the spring and spur of this religion, went forth to preach; here the first pontific seat was filled by St. Peter; in honour to whom the church there founded remained uninjured through the whole domination of the Turks: and equally also did another, consecrated in honour of St. Mary, strike the eyes of beholders with its beauty, exciting wonder that they should reverence the church of him whose faith they persecuted.

William of Malmesbury

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29 January, 2015
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