Chapter 38

[ 38 ]

       Surrounded by a most judicious and excellent retinue, he began immediately, by divine influence, to glitter with the good work of worthy deeds. He would bountifully point out to all the rewards of emulous virtuousness, and he would force monks and clerics and the laity to devote themselves to divine obeisance. He, moreover, would flash magnificently with splendid habits and merits, and with equitable reins would actively govern the clergy and the people. Moreover, he would be an avenger of accursed deeds but a true and bountiful distributor of goods. For indeed a prodigious, abundant supply of diverse wild animals would afford him woody banquets since, after some discussion of legitimate judgment and equity, he would surrender himself to hunting. Glorified by merited successes, the young man would grow, effacing all vices through the cumulation of increasing moral virtues. He would strive, well-disposed (note 1) and sequacious, for perfect goodness so as to be able to rejoice with the saints in the time of future rest.
       At that time there was a certain Rodulf (surnamed Torta) who, after the death of William, would claim for himself, above and beyond his peers, the honor of all Normandy and, unbecomingly, would unlawfully appropriate for himself goods which were his lord's by right. Each day he would apportion to the graceful boy Richard a daily pay approaching twice thrice three denarii, (note 2) just as he paid his own young recruits. The residents of [Richard's] household would be vilely reduced, fettered by want and hunger. Wherefore does the youth Richard (so knowledgeably diligent!), having gathered together the leaders of the Norman region, ask them what to do about the scarcity resulting from this scanty apportionment. And the leaders have then reported the wrath of their angry lord to Rodulf, surnamed Torta, for they are bound to serve him by the true promise of their oath of allegiance and are even endowed with his beneficia. He, however, has sent his own comrades back to the boy Richard (so sagaciously upright!), begging to be permitted to come before him and to purify himself of whatever he had done to displease him.
       Then, having considered this request, the boy (so memorable!) is said to have replied: "You do understand that my grandfather claimed this town for himself through very many battles." They have replied: "We do understand that." And he: "Did my father hold this town by hereditary lot? Ought I not to hold this town by hereditary right after the death of my grandfather and father? Have you ever seen his father, or grandfather, or greatgrandfather hold this town as he is now holding it? Let us explore who is the grieved party here, I or he." Moreover, while the messengers stood silent, astounded by these words, it is said that he cautiously added: "If he wishes to deserve our grace in any respect whatsoever, let him and all his household withdraw from the city as quickly as possible and, having moved at least one mile from the town, let him stay in a villa until he sends ambassadors to me and hears what I shall reply to him. But if he should take lightly our judicious injunction, we will reject him in every way and send for the Franks to give us advantageous counsel concerning this matter."
       Then the messengers have reported what they heard to Rodulf Torta. He, in fact, reckoning that his lord would be appeased by his own withdrawal and that of his followers, nay rather, fearing that an army of the Frankish nation was about to arrive, has departed from the city with all his household, staying instead in the meadows of some rustics. Meanwhile the boy Richard (so diligent!) confirms any inconstant warriors to himself by the true promise of an oath of allegiance, ratifying as well the tie of fidelity binding citizens of the whole town to himself. And indeed the following day, Rodulf Torta has sent many of his comrades to the boy (so moderate!) asking that Richard, by accepting the token due to an offended party, (note 3) permit him to come before him to be judged and forgiven.
       On his guard then, the boy has said, moved by the spirit of an acute mind: "Do you understand that he at one time did unheard-of damage to me?" They have replied: "We do understand that." "Does he not still act with foolhardy rashness? He crops the meadows of my rustics with his scythes, consumes them with his horses, wears them down with his heels, he kills and eats their cows and rams, bulls and pigs. If he does not go away, banished from our territory, he will speedily incur his due destruction. You have spoken on his behalf in the past, and you are still speaking in his favor now, but in no way will it benefit him." They however, marvelling at such words, have fallen on their faces, saying: "Lord, we pray that your fury neither rage nor rave furiously against us, for we are your fideles in all things, nor will we ever cleave to him."
       Moreover, going away, they report what they have heard to Rodulf Torta. Despairing, he has in fact swiftly foresaken those meadows and come quickly to Paris with all his household. However his son, the bishop of the Parisian town, seeing his unexpected arrival, has stiffened and, yes indeed drawing sighs from his breast, said "Why, father, have you hastened here with all your household of both sexes?" Truly, he has recounted his misfortunes for the bishop, both his defeat and his disastrous destruction. The bishop and his father have again and again sent ambassadors to the boy (so courageous!), but it has done them no good. Moreover the lords of Normandy, seeing that he had so judiciously banished a military leader, greatly feared him.
       Moreover since he shone brightly with such great and remarkable signs of present and future good works, and since reports concerning the young man (so great! so sagacious!) struck with consternation the minds of those living in Gaul, and since, shining profusely with plentiful augmentations of all four virtues at once, he managed the realm of Normandy with the judgment of equitable rule, disposing all affairs as does a king subjected to no one but God, duke Hugh the Great, perceiving Richard to be stout and distinguished in all his deeds, commanded count Bernard, sojourning in the town of Senlis, to come to him, having likewise summoned Bernard of Rouen. To them he said, "I have been receiving ambassadors from many who lie in wait to ambush that young man, count Richard, persons who are again undertaking to attack the Norman region in a hostile attack. Richard wages war for neither king nor duke, he does not offer obedience to anyone but God, he holds the monarchy of the Norman region like a king, and he has no friends who are joined to him by any inextricable alliance of help and fellowship. His father fell by count Arnulf's treachery; see that he be not ensnared by the treasonous cunning of that same man's malice. Moreover the king, not unmindful of earlier evils, still ruminates wrathfully upon his own defeat and captivity, and is now uniting very many persons to himself as he plans to bring about your ruin. Therefore look earnestly for advice advantageous to you so that, untroubled by plots and deceptions, you shall not have to fear some deadly outcome from the changeableness of worldly affairs." However, duke Hugh the Great was in reality setting all this before them as part of his own cautious plan, desiring and hoping to unite his daughter to duke Richard by the bond of a sexual (note 4) alliance.
       Then both Bernards replied: "We do not know, lord, how to dig up any sound advice about all this but won't you, your Grace, give us some propitious help? We have thus far conducted ourselves according to your propitious counsel, holding to the straight and narrow road; we will henceforth conduct ourselves, with you as our duke, advocate, yea indeed as our councillor (saving the promise which we have made to count Richard), rejecting entirely any thought of digressing along some slanting road." But Hugh began to make openly known the secret of his benevolent design: "Have you yet sought a wife for Richard, duke of the Normans, a wife appropriate and suitable for his delightful gentleness and dignity?" They replied: "In no wise have we done this." Yet he replied: "Are you now considering turning your attention in some particular direction, or will you subjugate to Richard just anyone's daughter, simply by purchasing her?" In fact Bernard of Senlis, realizing his lord's intention from the latter's proposing such an intimate admission, replied to this assertion (which had revealed the richer depths of Hugh's mind): "Lord, we do not know whose daughter would be appropriate except yours."
       Truly Hugh the Great, understanding that they had both realized what he benevolently desired, is said to have replied, having uncovered his heart's intention: "Indeed it is not the custom of Francia that any prince or duke, surrounded in such great profusion by such a warband, in this way continue steadfastly all his days in his own authoritative lordship and not devote himself to a higher power, to emperor or king or duke, either as a result of voluntary obeisance or compelled by force and power. And if peradventure someone does continue steadfastly in such foolhardy rashness, so that he does not willingly attend upon any lord because of the extremely plentiful richness of his own affluence, quarrels and dissensions and the incalculable misfortunes of defeat are frequently wont to befall him. Wherefore if it would please duke Richard, your nephew, to bend himself to waging war for me, with your most advantageous advice, I would of my own accord join my daughter to him in marriage and I would be his uninterrupted defender and helper against all others in his struggle to keep that land which he now occupies by hereditary right." Then it is said that count Bernard of Senlis said: "Because, indeed, the treacherous king Louis has wished to ruin my nephew the young duke Richard, whom he has even in the past held prisoner (along with all the Normans), I would prefer it if you were to give your daughter to him as a wife, so that he may wage war for you, rather than for the deceitful king." Thus did duke Hugh the Great, with the prop of an oath, give his daughter to the most noble young man Richard, not, however, according to the law which governs a nuptual purchase, but in accordance with all the designated and sworn requirements of a marital bond. (note 5)
       However, the truthful report having struck king Louis' heart with consternation and disturbed count Arnulf (who deeply feared the ruin of future vengeance), namely the common talk that Richard duke of the Normans had bound himself in matrimonial marriage, for the sake of offspring and of the succession, to the daughter of duke Hugh the Great and that Richard had bound himself to Hugh in an indissoluble alliance, devoting himself to Hugh's service in return for both his future wife and Hugh's complete support, and would be waging war for Hugh according to an agreement of united friendship, they began, terrified by the trembling fear that they would be crushed, conquered by the crowds of warriors of two such dukes, to explore what to do about the two dukes' baleful partnership of sworn union, meeting each other (after an exchange of embassies) in the district of Vermandois.
       Moreover, count Arnulf, desiring with all his might to annihilate and ruin duke Richard (that youthful flower of adolescence!), said to king Louis: "Duke Hugh the Great's father Robert unjustly took upon himself the ruling authority in opposition to your father Charles, with the approval of duke Richard's grandfather Rollo, and he perversely subjugated almost all of Francia to himself. Since, however, there afterwards grew up a harsh dispute of immense divisiveness and lamentable Francia, foresaken during the baleful conflict of the two kings, had to endure the destestable strife of accidental damage, your father Charles, deprived entirely of the hope of Frankish support and needful of assisting aid in everything, swiftly sought the Transrhenish king Henry and promised that he would give him, of his own accord, the Lotharingian realm, if he would deal blows against king Robert, who had been established in preference to Charles by the detestable rashness of the Franks and if, coming with him into Francia with an amassed army, he would boldly finish off the war against Robert. Moreover, how these combative circumstances eventually turned out is not unknown to any of our people. Robert deservedly died in battle and your father, king Charles, justly gained the reins of the realm. (note 6) However his son Hugh, corrupted by the poison of that very same audacious rashness, is trying to usurp your authority over that realm, and to ruin both you and me, your fidelis, by procuring for himself the favor of the duke of the Normans. Thus is it meet, mightiest king, to explore how you might uphold and rule the realm of Francia. For the leaders of this land cleave obediently to Hugh and attend him with pleasure."
       In response to these words, the king replied to count Arnulf: "Advise me how to resist the presumption of the insolent Hugh, how to uphold and protect myself and my realm." But the deceitful count Arnulf, desiring to ruin and annihilate duke Richard (with all his followers) so that he would not be able in days to come to avenge the undeserved death of his father, began to soothe the king with these fraudulent words: "I will give you advantageous and propitious advice whereby you will be able to crush and overthrow Hugh and Richard. Give the Lotharingian realm, which your father in fact promised to [Otto's] father the Transrhenish king, to your wife's brother Otto himself, so that he might besiege and capture Rouen for you, laying waste the land of Hugh, who now resists you, all the way to Paris. Thus, profusely enriched by the affluence of that land and surrounded by a greater crowd of magnates and marvelously augmented by the garissons of such great towns, you will be able to battle, yourself secure, against duke Hugh. For the Norman land is indeed more abundantly filled than all the rest with an affluence of all things, copiously filled with game, wild boars and stags, bears and roebucks, and is further increased by the manifold young of all the winged creatures of the forests and of the fattened domestic birds, and plentifully furnished diverse species of fish, indeed the Norman land is a liberal giver of all the goods which an inhabitant needs. It behooves you to possess a land of such plenteousness, for your grandfathers and greatgrandfathers and the rest of your predecessors held it precisely because of those riches. Be mindful of the evils and wrongs which the Normans have fraudulently brought upon you. You will easily be able to obliterate the multitude of them from that land, for they are full of fear and are only foreigners and are wont to busy themselves with piracy on the sea. The Norman land is more valuable, important, meaningful and abundant than is the Lotharingian land."
       Thus king Louis, persuaded by these arguments, is said to have replied to count Arnulf: "It behooves a count of such great nobility and a leader of such great understanding and practical judgment, such as yourself, himself to bring faithfully to completion what he, advising sagaciously, suggests to his lord. Thus, because you are better known and more credible and more powerful than all my followers, I pray you to furnish king Otto with a charming recital of what you have just unfolded before me so that, through your active intervention, he might come with his entire bellicose seditious band and pillage whatever belongs to Hugh all the way to the walls of the Parisian town. May he compel him to return to his senses by throwing him down to his baleful ruin and may he crush him completely, tearing him to pieces through constant plundering and burning. In exchange for the Lotharingian realm, may he obtain for us the Norman one, and expell its inhabitants, rebels against us. Let the Norman land experience Saxon strength, and let it prove whether it is able to wrestle against that strength with its own forces. May he besiege and capture Rouen for us and, in capturing it, may he account the young man Richard (so arrogant!) of slight value."
       In fact count Arnulf, much desiring completely to ruin Richard (of blessed memory!), lest he avenge his father's innocent blood, hastens speedily to the Transrhenish king Otto and, coming before him, has said to him the following most humble words: "King Louis of the Franks sends you the present of affectionate and inextricable friendship. Not having the strength to bear the haughtiness and rashness of the baleful contentiousness of duke Hugh and count Richard of the Normans, he sends me to you so that you, your compassionate Grace, might offer him some relief. Hugh is joining his daughter to the young man Richard in a matrimonial and sexual alliance; in fact [Richard], become Hugh's warrior, now obeys him in all things, just as one does a lord, in order to gain the daughter's love. Endowed with Richard's military army, [Hugh] strives to attack the realm of Francia and he hastens to possess its reins and royal staff, as his father did in time past. We pray, with your manly power, check the presumption of their audacious will and, with your influence, deflate the ostentation of their corrupt self-exaltation. Were you to answer our prayer completely and, besieging Rouen, obtain for us the Norman realm, we would give you in perpetuity the Lotharingian realm which was promised to your father in return for his participation in the battle of Soissons."
       Now Otto, rejoycing at this much-hoped-for embassy, and having made a covenant concerning the Lotharingian realm, swiftly comes to Paris with a gathered and collected band of easterners, laying everything to waste, as king Louis comes to meet him with a great army. When all Hugh's lands had been devoured and laid to waste, count Arnulf said to king Otto: "This town flourishes, encircled on all sides by an arm of the everlasting Seine, untakeable through assault by any nation. Thus we pray, turn your armed legions instead towards the territory (note 7) of the town of Rouen for, before you even reach the limits of the Norman countryside, the keys of that city will be carried out to you."

                      Apostrophe to Arnulf

Why does God's power of support,
He who even foreknows all things,
Whose will endures as action
And whose vital warmth embraces all things,
Favor violent,
Contumacious, shameful,
Arrogant and evil kings?
But even though, oh woe, your sharp sword
Has already stung a very worthy duke
(The father of that sacred boy),
Behold, in order that the latter might himself become
An even holier bountiful witness of God,
An even more bountiful count,
A wealthier marquis
And a duke holier than all the rest,
Noble, celebrated, pious,
Equitable, bountiful, upright,
Holy, innocent, good,
Who will establish every good
And crush every evil,
Your wishes, frivolous,
Will not procure your desire.


1. Preferring the "solers" of Rouen 1173 and other manuscripts.

2. The denarius was a basic silver unit of currency.

3. Recipiendo pignus offensionis debitum.

4. Connubialis.

5. Emma, daughter of duke Hugh the Great, was betrothed to Richard I in 945. The marriage was celebrated in 960.

6. Robert was killed at the battle of Soissons in 923.

7. Pagus.

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