Chapter 44

[ 44 ]

       For indeed king Otto, urged by many persuasive requests, moved his army (so large!) and set out with king Louis for the river Epte which is the separating boundary between the realms of Francia and Normandy. Then Otto summons Arnulf, inciter of the entire evil, and asks for the keys of the town of Rouen to be fetched, just as Arnulf had promised him. But Arnulf began to speak to king Otto, in accordance with a plan hatched in his sharp mind: "Lord king, none of the people of Rouen dares to approach you, for the land from here to Rouen is wooded and those who sojourn in its groves and thickets busy themselves in highway robberies. Nearby there is another water course, called the Andelle, which provides access to meadows and to an abundance of all things; we request you to fix your tents there tomorrow and thither will the magnates of Rouen come, bringing you the keys of the town and presents of precious value." And retreating, constrained by these deprecative words, king Otto thereafter settled in the meadows by the river Andelle.
       But at dawn the count (so sly and cunning!) stood before king Otto, brightly shining and surrounded by a company of bishops and a crowd of dukes and prelates. Moreover [Arnulf], desiring to torment the young man Richard (so youthful and glittering!) and to conduct the kings to the town of Rouen, said to Otto: "The people of Rouen, disturbed by the potential disgrace of future mockery, are ashamed to send you the keys without being overpowered by hostile heinousness. Therefore, surrounded by an army led by two kings and by such great dukes and prelates, they will not hesitate to hand the city over to you, Otto. For that reason, my lord king Louis beseeches you with all his strength to set out in the morning for the town of Rouen. Send before your own majesty your hardiest legion which, attacking, by force of arms will take possession of the city. Let it thrust savagely back to the city, before your arrival, whatever combatants it might find positioned outside the walls and, after this, you may fix your tents, untroubled by them, at the Beauvais gate. Moreover, once you yourself have approached the town, both your army and that of my lord will, together, fill the people of Rouen with apprehension, while we will have already been able to observe through the exertion of actual combat and battle precisely how vigorous and courageous is this town."
       Then a certain nephew of king Otto said in a self-exalting speech: "If it is agreeable, lord king, I will go and, preceding you, pitch your camp. If peradventure an army should assail me, I will crush even thousands of warriors with my sword. I will ascertain both their condition and vigor and courage in battle, and their caution and forethought and practical judgment in war. I have often contended with Dacians and Alans and Goths and Hungarians but I have never gone into combat against Normans. Challenging them with readied battle-lines, I will take the city by assault and I will demolish, scattering them, the populace of that foreign nation." However, he was speaking this way with youthful ostentation, not knowing that the outcome of a battle is changeable and fortuitous. Once he has put his army into motion, king Otto himself immediately marches forward (forced as he is by the most humble admonitions of [king Louis'] requests), sending before him his nephew (so mistakenly self-exalting!) with fully-equipped legions.


Great and venerable king Otto, why do you strive
With an inimical company and malign exertion
Now to mangle and defile
The celebrated and sacred,
Noble and just, upright, modest
Marquis and holy patrician
And magnanimous and strong duke Richard?
And to take away the honor of his dominion?
Indeed, to resist in your thoughts
The mighty command of the supernal and highest king?
For no one can resist the supernal power
Nor, again, turn back the starry will.
This highest count, duke, patrician and
Holy, celebrated, modest marquis,
Will keep the populace within bounds by nourishing laws
And, shrewd, will torment the mangled guilty
And consign worthy rewards to the just.
Flashing with holy habits and merits
He will thus ascend to the brilliant stars of heaven.
You, mighty and vigorous and powerful king,
Will be crushed by the eternal divine will
And will brood over this facetious mockery
And will go back, shamed, to your residence hall,
Condemned by the Normans.

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