Chapter 35

[ 35 ]


       But count Arnulf, polluted by the unheardof stain of his fraudulent homicide, and dreading the future arrival of the king who might (if he were to act properly) take revenge upon him, has sent to him ambassadors, with great presents, to say the following things: "Most pious lord king, our lord, put down by very great infirmity, sends you his faithful service, if it please you to receive it. You have heard by the publicized report of a false rumor that our lord Arnulf favored the undeserved death of duke William, a fault from which he wishes to purify and free himself by the ordeal of fire, undertaken in your presence and according to the judgment of your followers. Truly, he will banish those warriors, upon whom William brought so many evils, and who in fact steered him to his death, if by such acts he might be able to deserve your grace. In order that you might, benevolent, favor his request with your assent, he is sending you twice five pounds of the purest gold. He will also release to you, each year for as long as he shall live, the tribute of his entire region. His followers will serve you in all things, and wherever you proceed with military intent, they also will proceed. He was unable to approach you himself, for you know that he is immobilized by gout. May our prayers encourage your compassionate indulgence, having mercy on one reduced by such a wounding infirmity and faulted, without cause, for such a crime. May deserved mercy block your fury, so that you do not foresake your servant, whom you hate without cause. You have the might, and the realm is yours; do not ruin what has been intrusted to you. You can more easily ruin all the Flemings than crush glass vessels with a mallet."
       Then the king's advisors, blinded by the gifts, have said to him: "There is no need for you to harm someone who bustles about to such an extent in order to justify himself to you. He sends word that he is innocent of the deceitful accursed deed, and that he is determined to justify himself or banish his followers. You must not ruin this man who is at present your supporter, not in any way deprive yourself of him, for in exchange you shall not revive that other one of whom you now stand in need. It is not your right to avenge all who are killed, but to pacify those who are left behind, quarreling because of some death. Recall the evils and the shame which the Normans visited upon you in Rouen, and take precautions lest, bestowing even worse things upon you, they take the Norman realm away from you completely."
       Then the Flemings: "Beyond these things, our lord sends you a most especial advice concerning this matter. Keep William's son, and the usufruct of his realm, in your power forever. Subdue the inhabitants of that land with service and with the dreadful yoke of your law, and compel them to serve you obediently." Blinded and deceived both by the presents and by the encouragement of this perverse advice, the king kept the boy Richard (so valuable!) in his custody and forgave Arnulf what he had fraudulently done to William.

                             Apostrophe

Oh Louis,
If, in your heart,
You had kept the vows
Which you consecrated,
Your would then have governed,
A venerable king,
Ruling well,
Everywhere where now Belgic
And also Celtic
And also Aquitanian
Gaul extends
Its multiplied tracts,
While Richard's father,
The God-fearing
And innocent
Martyr of Christ,
Munificent
In his simplicity
And uprightness,
Aided you
And gave advantageous
Assistance,
So great a protector.
Why do you cast aside what
You have obtained by right
Through an oath of allegiance
Of the religion
Of the Christians?
Why, enfeebled
By a brutal and
Abominable law
And by presents
Do you forsake the respectable
Uninterrupted course
Of credibility,
Now that peace has already been violated
By the cunning of treachery?
And why does malicious greed,
Bound by no law,
Moved by the perverse
Stimulus
Of this impious thong,
Keep back the offspring
Of that bountiful one
From being invigorated
By his desired lot?
Cease this perverse thing
And scorn possession of those
Goods which ought to be abominated.
Let go, I ask,
The youth Richard,
That he might discharge
His own bountiful rights.
In the same way as you capture him,
You too will be captured,
And you will retreat
Before a fitting retaliation.


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