The History of The Kings of England 27

William of Malmesbury

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

At this time three sees in England were transferred from their ancient situations; Wells to Bath, by John; Chester to Coventry, by Robert; Thetford to Norwich, by Herbert; all through greater ambition, than ought to have influenced men of such eminence. Finally, to speak of the last first: Herbert, from his skill in adulation, surnamed Losinga, was first abbot of Ramsey, and then purchased the bishopric of Thetford, while his father, Robert, surnamed as himself, was intruded on the abbey of Winchester. This man, then, was the great source of simony in England; having craftily procured by means of his wealth, both an abbey and a bishopric. For he hood-winked the king’s solicitude for the church by his money, and whispered great promises to secure the favour of the nobility: whence a poet of those times admirably observes,

”A monster in the church from Losing rose,
Base Simon’s sect, the canons to oppose.
Peter, thou’rt slow; see Simon soars on high;
If present, soon thouedest hmeI him from the sky.
Oh grief, the church is let to sordid hire,
The son a bishop, abbot is the sire.
All may be hoped from gold’s prevailing sway.
Which governs all things; gives and takes away;
Makes bishops, abbots, basely in a day.”

Future repentance, however, atoned for the errors of his youth: he went to Rome, when he was of a more serious age, and there resigning the staff and ring which he had acquired by simony, had them restored through the indulgence of that most merciful see; for the Romans regard it both as more holy and more fitting, that the dues from each church should rather come into their own purse, than be subservient to the use of any king whatever. Herbert thus returning home, removed the episcopal see, which had formerly been at Helmham, and was then at Thetford, to a town, celebrated for its trade and populousness, called Norwich. Here he settled a congregation of monks, famous for their numbers and their morals; purchasing everything for them out of his private fortune. For, having an eye to the probable complaints of his successors, he gave none of the episcopal lands to the monastery, lest they should deprive the servants of God of their subsistence, if they found any thing given to them which pertained to their see. At Thetford, too, he settled Clugniac monks, because the members of that order, dispersed throughout the world, are rich in worldly possessions, and of distinguished piety towards God. Thus, by the great and extensive merit of his virtues, he shrouded the multitude of his former failings; and by his abundant eloquence and learning, as well as by his knowledge in secular affairs, he became worthy even of the Roman pontificate. Herbert thus changed, as Lucan observes of Curio, became the changer and mover of all things; and, as in the times of this king, he had been a pleader in behalf of simony, so was he, afterwards, its most strenuous opposer; nor did he suffer that to be done by others, which he lamented he had ever himself done through the presumption of juvenile ardour: ever having in his mouth, as they relate, the saying of St. Jerome, “We have erred when young; let us amend now we are old.” Finally, who can sufficiently extol his conduct, who, though not a very rich bishop, yet built so noble a monastery; in which nothing appears defective, either in the beauty of the lofty edifice, the elegance of its ornaments, or in the piety and universal charity of its monks. These things soothed him with joyful hope while he lived, and when dead, if repentance be not in vain, conducted him to heaven had been admitted, he conducted himself with more mildness; and gave a small portion of land to the prior, by which he might, in some measure, support himself and his inmates. And although he had begun austerely, yet many things were there by him both nobly begun and completed, in decorations and in books; and more especially, in a selection of monks, equally notable for their learning and kind offices. But still he could not, even at his death, be softened far enough totally to exonerate the lands from bondage; leaving, in this respect, an example not to be followed by his successors.

There was in the diocese of Chester, a monastery, called Coventry, which, as I have before related, the most noble earl Leofric, with his lady Godiva, had built; so splendid for its gold and silver, that the very walls of the church seemed too scanty to receive the treasures, to the great astonishment of the beholders. This, Robert bishop of the diocese eagerly seized on, in a manner by no means episcopal; stealing from the very treasures of the church wherewith he might fill the hand of the king, beguile the vigilance of the pope, and gratify the covetousness of the Romans. Continuing there many years, he gave no proof of worth whatever: for, so far from rescuing the nodding roofs from ruin, he wasted the sacred treasures, and became guilty of peculation; and a bishop might have been convicted of illegal exactions, had an accuser been at hand. He fed the monks on miserable fare, made no attempts to excite in them a love for their profession, and suffered them to reach only a very common degree of learning; lest he should make them delicate by sumptuous living, or strictness of rule and depth of learning should spirit them up to oppose him. Contented therefore with rustic fare, and humble literary attainments, they deemed it enough, if they could only live in peace. Moreover, at his death, paying little attention to the dictates of the canons, by which it is enacted, that bishops ought to be buried in their cathedrals, he commanded himself to be interred, not at Chester, but at Coventry; leaving to his successors by such a decision, the task, not of claiming what was not due to them, but as it were, of vindicating their proper right.

Here, while speaking of the times of William, I should be induced to relate the translation of the most excellent Augustine, the apostle of the English and of his companions, had not the talents of the learned Joscelyn, anticipated me: of Joscelyn, who being a monk of St. Bertin, formerly came to England with Herman bishop of Salisbury, skilled equally in literature and music. For a considerable time he visited the cathedrals and abbeys, and left proofs of uncommon learning in many places; he was second to none after Bede in the celebration of the English saints; next to Osbernef too, he bore away the palm in music. Moreover he wrote innumerable lives of modern saints, and restored, in an elegant manner, such of those of the ancients as had been lost through the confusion of the times, or had been carelessly edited. He also so exquisitely wrought the process of this translation, that he may be said to have realized it to the present race, and given a view of it to posterity. Happy that tongue, which ministered to so many saints ! happy that voice, which poured forth such melody ! more especially as in his life, his probity equalled his learning. But, as I have hitherto recorded disgraceful transactions of certain bishops, I will introduce others of different lives and dispositions, who were in being at the same time; that our age may not be said to have grown so negligent as not to produce one single saint. Such as are desirous, may find this promise completed in a subsequent book, after the narrative of king Henry’s transactions.

I shall now describe the expedition to Jerusalem, relating in my own words what was seen and endured by others. Besides too, as opportunity offers, I shall select from ancient writers, accounts of the situation and riches of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem; in order that he who is unacquainted with these matters, and meets with this work, may have something to communicate to others. But for such a relation there needs a more fervent spirit, my order to complete effectually, what I begin with such pleasure. Invoking, therefore, the Divinity, as is usual, I begin as follows.

In the year of the incarnation 1095, pope Urban the second, who then filled the papal throne, passing the Alps, came into France. The ostensible cause of his journey, was, that, being driven from home by the violence of Guibert, he might prevail on the churches on this side of the mountains to acknowledge him. His more secret intention was not so well known; this was, by Boamund’s advice, to excite almost the whole of Europe to undertake an expedition into Asia; that in such a general commotion of all countries, auxiliaries might easily be engaged, by whose means both Urban might obtain Rome; and Boamund, Illyria and Macedonia. For Guiscard, his father, had conquered those countries from Alexius, and also all the territory extending from Durazzo to Thessalonica; wherefore Boamund claimed them as his due, since he obtained not the inheritance of Apulia, which his father had given to his younger son, Roger. Still nevertheless, whatever might be the cause of Urban’s journey, it turned out of great and singular advantage to the Christian world. A council, therefore, was assembled at Clermont, which is the ++++ noted city of Auvergne. The number of bishops and abbots was three hundred and ten. Here at first, during several days, a long discussion was carried on concerning the catholic faith, and the establishing peace among contending parties. For, in addition to those crimes in which every one indulged, all, on this side of the Alps, had arrived at such a calamitous state, as to take each other captive on little or no pretence; nor were they suffered to go free, unless ransomed at an enormous price. Again too, the snake of simony had so reared her slippery crest, and cherished, with poisonous warmth, her deadly eggs, that the whole world became infected with her mortal hissing, and tainted the honours of the church. At that time, I will not say bishops to their sees merely, but none aspired even to any ecclesiastical degree, except by the influence of money. Then too, many persons putting away their lawful wives, procured divorces, and invaded the marriage- couch of others. Wherefore, as in both these cases, there was a mixed multitude of offenders, the names of some powerful persons were singled out for punishment. Not to be tedious, I will subjoin the result of the whole council, abbreviating some parts, in my own language.

In a council at Clermont, in the presence of pope Urban, these articles were enacted. “That the catholic church shall be pure in faith; free from all servitude: that bishops, or abbots, or clergy of any rank, shall receive no ecclesiastical dignity from the hand of princes, or of any of the laity: that clergymen shall not hold prebends in two churches or cities: that no one shall be bishop and abbot at the same time: that ecclesiastical dignities shall be bought and sold by no one: that no person in holy orders shall be guilty of carnal intercourse: that such as not knowing the canonical prohibition had purchased canonries, should be pardoned; but that they should be taken from such as knew they possessed them by their own purchase, or that of their parents: that no layman from Ash-Wednesday, no clergyman from Quadragesima, to Easter, shall eat flesh: that, at all times, the first fast of the Ember Weeks, should be in the first week of Lent: that orders should be conferred, at all times, on the evening of Saturday, or on a Sunday, continuing fasting: that on Easter-eve, service should not be celebrated till after the ninth hour: that the second fast should be observed in the week of Pentecost: that from our Lord’s Advent, to the octave of the Epiphany; from Septuagesima to the octaves of Easter; from the first day of the Rogations to the octaves of Pentecost; and from the fourth day of the week at sunset, at all times, to the second day in the following week at sunrise, the Truce of God be observed: that whoever laid violent hands on a bishop should be excommunicated: that whoever laid violent hands on clergymen or their servants should be accursed: that whoever seized the goods of bishops or clergymen at their deaths, should be accursed: that whoever married a relation, even in the sixth degree of consanguinity, should be accursed: that none should be chosen bishop, except a priest, deacon, or subdeacon who was of noble descent, unless under pressing necessity, and licence from the pope: that the sons of priests and concubines should not be advanced to the priesthood, unless they first made their vow: that whosoever fled to the church, or the cross, should, being insured from loss of limb, be delivered up to justice; or if innocent, be released: that every church should enjoy its own tithes, nor pass them away to another: that laymen should neither buy nor sell tithes; that no fee should be demanded for the burial of the dead. In this council the pope excommunicated Philip, king of France, and all who called him king or lord, and obeyed or spoke to him, unless for the purpose of correcting him: in like manner too his accursed consort, and all who called her queen or lady, till they so far reformed as to separate from each other; and also Guibert of Ravenna, who calls himself pope: and Henry, emperor of Germany, who supports him.”

Afterwards, a clear and forcible discourse, such as should come from a priest, was addressed to the people, on the subject of an expedition of the Christians, against the Turks. This I have thought fit to transmit to posterity, as I have learned it from those who were present, preserving its sense Unimpaired. For who can preserve the force of that eloquence ? We shall be fortunate, if, treading an adjacent path, we come even by a circuitous route to its meaning.

“You recollect,” said he, “my dearest brethren, many things which have been decreed for you, at this time; some matters, in our council, commanded; others inhibited. A rude and confused chaos of crimes required the deliberation of many days; an inveterate malady demanded a sharp remedy. For while we give unbounded scope to our clemency, our papal office finds numberless matters to proscribe; none to spare. But it has hitherto arisen from human frailty, that you have erred, and that, deceived by the speciousness of vice, you have exasperated the long suffering of God, by too lightly regarding his forbearance. It has arisen too from human wantonness, that, disregarding lawful wedlock, you have not duly considered the heinousness of adultery. From too great covetousness also, it has arisen, that, as opportunity offered, making captive your brethren, bought by the same great price, you have outrageously extorted from them their wealth. To you, however, now suffering this perilous shipwreck of sin, a secure haven of rest is offered, unless you neglect it. A station of perpetual safety will be awarded you, for the exertion of a trifling labour against the Turks. Compare, now, the labours which you underwent in the practice of wickedness, and those which you will encounter in the undertaking I advise. The intention of committing adultery, or murder, begets many fears; for, as Soloman says, ‘There is nothing more timid than guilt:‘ many labours; for what is more toilsome than wickedness ? But, ‘He who walks uprightly, walks securely.’ Of these labours, of these fears, the end was sin; the wages of sin is death; the death of sinners is most dreadful. Now the same labours and apprehensions are required from you, for a better consideration. The cause of these labours, will be charity; if thus warned by the command of God, you lay down your lives for the brethren: the wages of charity will be the grace of God; the grace of God is followed by eternal life. Go then prosperously: Go, then, with confidence, to attack the enemies of God. For they long since, oh sad reproach to mans, as contrary to their privileges. The Truce of God was first established in Aquitaine, 1032.

Christians ! have seized Syria, Armenia, and lastly, all Asia Minor, the provinces of which are Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lydia, Caria, Pamphylia, Isauria, Lycia, Cilicia; and, now they insolently domineer over Illyricum, and all the hither countries, even to the sea which is called the Straits of St. George. Nay, they usurp even the sepulchre of our Lord, that singular assurance of our faith; and sell to our pilgrims admissions to that city, which ought, had they a trace of their ancient courage left, to be open to Christians only. This alone might be enough to cloud our brows; but now, who except the most abandoned, or the most envious of Christian reputation, can endure that we do not divide the world equally with them ? They inhabit Asia, the third portion of the world, as their native soil, which was justly esteemed by our ancestors equal, by the extent of its tracts and greatness of its provinces, to the two remaining parts. There, formerly, sprang up the first germs of our faith; there, all the apostles, except two, consecrated their deaths; there, at the present day, the Christians, if any survive, sustaining life by a wretched kind of agriculture, pay these miscreants tribute, and even with stifled sighs, long for the participation of your liberty, since they have lost their own. They hold Africa also, another quarter of the world, already possessed by their arms for more than two hundred years; which on this account I pronounce derogatory to Christian honour, because that country was anciently the nurse of celebrated geniuses, who, by their divine writings, will mock the rust of antiquity as long as there shall be a person who can relish Roman literature: the learned know the truth of what I say. Europe, the third portion of the world remains; of which, how small a part do we Christians inhabit ? for who can call all those barbarians who dwell in remote islands of the Frozen Ocean, Christians, since they live after a savage manner ? Even this small portion of the world, belonging to us, is oppressed by the Turks and Saracens. Thus for three hundred years, Spain and the Balearic isles have been subjugated to them, and the possession of the remainder is eagerly anticipated by feeble men, who, not having courage to engage in close encounter, love a flying mode of warfare. For the Turk never ventures upon close figlit; but, when driven from his station, bends his bow at a distance, and trusts the winds with his meditated wound; and as he has poisoned arrows, venom, and not valour, inflicts the death on the man he strikes. Whatever he effects, then, I attribute to fortune, not to courage, because he wars by flight, and by poison. It is apparent too, that every race, born in that region, being scorched with the intense heat of the sun, abounds more in reflexion, than in blood; and, therefore, they avoid coming to close quarters, because they are aware how little blood they possess. Whereas the people who are born amid the polar frosts, and distant from the sun’s heat, are less cautious indeed; but, elate from their copious and luxuriant flow of blood, they fight with the greatest alacrity. You are a nation born in the more temperate regions of the world; who may be both prodigal of blood, in defiance of death and wounds; and are not deficient in prudence. For you equally preserve good conduct in camp, and are considerate in battle. Thus endued with skill and with valour, you undertake a memorable expedition. You will be extolled throughout all ages, if you rescue your brethren from danger. To those present, in God’s name, I command this; to the absent I enjoin it. Let such as are going to fight for Christianity, put the form of the cross upon their garments, that they may, outwardly, demonstrate the love arising from their inward faith; enjoying by the gift of God, and the privilege of St. Peter, absolution from all their crimes: let this in the meantime soothe the labour of their journey; satisfied that they shall obtain, after death, the advantages of a blessed martyrdom. Putting an end to your crimes then, that Christians may at least Have peaceably in these countries, go, and employ in nobler warfare, that valour, and that sagacity, which you used to waste in civil broils: Go, soldiers every where renowned in fame, go, and subdue these dastardly nations. Let the noted valour of the French advance, which, accompanied by its adjoining nations, shall affright the whole world by the single terror of its name. But why do I delay you longer by detracting from the courage of the gentiles ? Rather bring to your recollection the saying of God, ‘Narrow is the way which leadeth to life.’ Be it so then: the track to be followed is narrow, replete with death. and terrible with dangers; still this path will lead to your lost country. No doubt you must, ‘by much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.’ Place then, before your imagination, if you shall be made captive, torments and chains; nay, every possible suffering that can be inflicted. Expect, for the firmness of your faith, even horrible punishments; that so, if it be necessary, you may redeem your souls at the expense of your bodies. Do you fear death ? you men of exemplary courage and intrepidity. Surely human wickedness can devise nothing against you, worthy to be put in competition with heavenly glory: for the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared ‘to the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Know ye not, that for men to live is wretchedness, and happiness to die ? “This doctrine, if you remember, you imbibed with your mother’s milk, through the preaching of the clergy: and this doctrine your ancestors, the martyrs, held out by example. Death sets free from its filthy prison the human soul, which then takes flight for the mansions fitted to its virtues. Death accelerates their country to the good: death cuts short the wickedness of the ungodly. By means of death, then, the soul, made free, is either soothed with joyful hope, or is punished without farther apprehension of worse. So long as it is fettered to the body, it derives from it earthly contagion; or to say more truly, is dead. For, earthly with heavenly, and divine with mortal, ill agree. The soul, indeed, even now, in its state of union with the body, is capable of great efforts; it gives life to its instrument, secretly moving and animating it to exertions almost beyond mortal nature. But when, freed from the clog which drags it to the earth, it regains its proper station, it partakes of a blessed and perfect energy, communicating after some measure with the invisibility of the divine nature. Discharging a double office, therefore, it ministers life to the body when it is present, and the cause of its change, when it departs. You must observe how pleasantly the soul wakes in the sleeping body, and, apart from the senses, sees many future events, from the principle of its relationship to the Deity. Why then do ye fear death, who love the repose of sleep, which resembles death ? Surely it must be madness, through lust of a transitory life, to deny yourselves that which is eternal. Rather, my dearest brethren, should it so happen, lay down your lives for the brotherhood. Rid God’s sanctuary of the wicked: expel the robbers: bring in the pious. Let no love of relations detain you; for man’s chiefest love is towards God. Let no attachment to your native soil be an impediment; because, in different points of view, all the world is exile to the Christian, and all the world his country. Thus exile is his country, and his country exile. Let none be restrained from going by the largeness of his patrimony, for a still larger is promised him; not of such things as soothe the miserable with vain expectation, or flatter the indolent disposition with the mean advantages of wealth, but of such as are shown by perpetual example and approved by daily experience. Yet these too are pleasant, but vain, and which, to such as despise them, produce reward a hundred-fold. These things I publish, these I command: and for their execution I fix the end of the ensuing spring. God will be gracious to those who undertake this expedition, that they may have a favourable year, both in abundance of produce, and in serenity of season. Those who may die will enter the mansions of heaven; while the living shall behold the sepulchre of the Lord. And what can be greater happiness, than for a man, in his life-lime, to see those places, where the Lord of heaven was conversant as a man ? Blessed are they, who, called to these occupations, shall inherit such a recompense: fortunate are those who are led to such a conflict, that they may partake of such rewards.”

I have adhered to the tenor of this address, retaining some few things unaltered, on account of the truth of the remarks, but omitting many. The bulk of the auditors were extremely excited, and attested their sentiments by a shout; pleased with the speech, and inclined to the pilgrimage. And immediately, in presence of the council, some of the nobility, falling down at the knees of the pope, consecrated themselves and their property to the service of God. Among these was Aimar, the very powerful bishop of Puy, who afterwards ruled the army by his prudence, and augmented it through his eloquence. In the month of November, then, in which this council was held, each departed to his home: and the report of this good resolution soon becoming general, it gently wafted a cheering gale over the minds of the Christians: which being universally diffused, there was no nation so remote, no people so retired, as not to contribute its portion. This ardent love not only inspired the continental provinces, but even all who had heard the name of Christ, whether in the most distant islands, or savage countries. The Welshman left his hunting; the Scot his fellowship with lice; the Dane his drinking party; the Norwegian his raw fish. Lands were deserted of their husbandmen; houses of their inhabitants; even whole cities migrated. There was no regard to relationship; affection to their country was held in little esteem; God alone was placed before their eyes. Whatever was stored in granaries, or hoarded in chambers, to answer the hopes of the avaricious husbandman, or the covetousness of the miser, all, all was deserted; they hungered and thirsted after Jerusalem alone. Joy attended such as proceeded; while grief oppressed those who remained. But why do I say remained ? You might see the husband departing with his wife, indeed, with all his family; you would smile to see the whole household laden on a carriage, about to proceed on their journey. The road was too narrow for the passengers, the path too confined for the travellers, so thickly were they thronged with endless multitudes. The number surpassed all human imagination, though the itinerants were estimated at six millions: Doubtless, never did so many nations unite in one opinion; never did so immense a population subject their unruly passions to one, and almost to no, direction. For the strangest wonder to behold was, that such a countless multitude marched gradually through various Christian countries without plundering, though there was none to restrain them. Mutual regard blazed forth in all; so that if any one found in his possession what he knew did not belong to him, he exposed it everywhere for several days to be owned; and the desire of the finder was suspended, till perchance the wants of the loser might be repaired.

The long-looked for month of March was now at hand, when, the hoary garb of winter being laid aside, the world, clad in vernal bloom, invited the pilgrims to the confines of the east; nor, such was the ardour of their minds, did they seek delay. Godfrey, duke of Lorraine, proceeded by way of Hungary: second to none in military virtue, and, descended from the ancient lineage of Charles the Great, he inherited much of Charles both in blood and in mind. He was followed by the Frisons, Lorrainers, Saxons, and all the people who dwell between the Rhine and the Garonne. Raimund, earl of St. Giles, and Aimar, bishop of Puy, nobly matched in valour, and alike noted for spirit against the enemy and piety to God, took the route of Dalmatia. Under their standard marched the Goths and Gascons, and all the people scattered throughout the Pyrenees and the Alps. Before them, by a shorter route, went Boamund, an Apulian by residence, but a Norman by descent. For embarking at Brindisi, and landing at Durazzo, he marched to Constantinople by roads with which he was well acquainted. Under his command, Italy, and the whole adjacent province, from the Tuscan sea to the Adriatic, joined in the war. All these assembling at the same time at Constantinople, partook somewhat of mutual joy. Here, too, they found Hugh the Great, brother of Philip, king of France: for having inconsiderately, and with a few soldiers, entered the territories of the emperor, he was taken by his troops, and detained in free custody. But Alexius, emperor of Constantinople, alarmed at the arrival of these chiefs, willingly, but, as it were, induced by their entreaties, released him. Alexius was a man famed for his duplicity, and never attempted any thing of importance, unless by stratagem. He had taken off Guiscard, as I before related, by poison, and had corrupted his wife by gold; falsely promising by his emissaries to marry her. Again, too, he allowed William, earl of Poitou, to be led into an ambush of the Turks, and, after losing sixty thousand soldiers, to escape almost unattended; being incensed at his reply, when he refused homage to the Greek. In after time, he laid repeated snares for Boamund, who was marching against him to avenge the injuries of the crusaders; and when these failed he bereaved him of his brother Guido, and of almost all his array; making use of his usual arts either in poisoning the rivers, or their garments: but of this hereafter. Now, however, removing the army from the city, and mildly addressing the chiefs, his Grecian eloquence proved so powerful, that he obtained from them all homage, and an oath, that they would form no plot against him; and that if they could subdue the cities pertaining to his empire, they would restore them to him, thus purchasing another’s advantage at the expense of their own blood. The credit of maintaining his liberty appeared more estimable to Raimund alone; so that he neither did homage to him, nor took the oath. Collecting, then, all their forces, they made an attack on Nicea, a city of Bithynia: for they chose to assault this first, both as it was an obstacle to the crusaders, and as they were eager to revenge the death of those pilgrims who had recently been slain there. For one Walter, a distinguished soldier, but precipitate, (for you will scarcely see prudence and valour united in the same person, as one retards what the other advances,) incautiously roaming around the walls, had perished with a numerous party, which Peter the hermit had allured, by his preaching, from their country.

William of Malmesbury

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

29 January, 2015

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

All images and written works by David Forward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License