Chapter 45

[ 45 ]

       However, when king Otto's nephew has approached the city gate which is called the Beauvais gate, with a well-equipped army he has struck at the Normans with the foaming wave of a glittering riding and the warlike combat of a hostile attack, but the Normans themselves, skillful at such wrestlings, would swiftly return to the protection of the town, shamming flight as though overcome by their foes. But the Saxons, merry because of this artifice of feigned flight and steeled by the success of these events, would pursue them by force of arms. Truly the king's nephew kept reckoning that the armed assembly would at length take the walled town by an assault upon the drawbridge of the Beauvais gate. But the Normans, assembling fully armed on that very spot and springing upon them as do lions on each beast in a herd, overthrowing them, have begun to tear them to pieces and kill them with glittering spears and swords, and to mangle them with hatchets, as wolves do sheep. Truly when many Saxons have been killed and very many exhausted and wounded, the king's nephew passes away, among swords and lances, upon the drawbridge.
       At length the Normans, having obtained the victory, comprehend that many of the leaders are now in the contest of the combat of death. But the rest of the Saxons, perceiving that the king's nephew lies dead upon the drawbridge and seizing him with great vehemence and rough impulse, would be carrying him back to the rest of the host while the Normans were leading very many of the others away, as prisoners, to the walled town. After the strife of the rough and extended battle has been in this way disjoined, Saxons and Franks would stand on one side and Normans on the other, nor would the Transrhenish nation strive any longer to mingle with the latter.
       Meanwhile a death-bringing report, announcing the cruel death of his nephew, has struck king Otto with consternation, and hearsay about so great a defeat has deranged the entire army. After shared deliberation, they have immediately attacked the city by force of arms, desiring to avenge the blood of the young man (so awesome!). But the Saxons and the Franks, accomplishing nothing around the town but wailing greatly over the very many killed from their armies, would return to the camps carrying the corpses of the deceased. Truly king Otto, sorrowful at the death of his nephew and at these new unseemly events, and seeing the countryfolk of the land approaching the town from the other side, has said to his leaders: "Can this town be surrounded by our army so that those who are conveyed by ship not pass through?" They have replied: "Not at all, for the simple and solitary Seine strikes the walls of the city with its tempests, nay rather, increased and restrained by the billows of the sea, it continuously attacks the gates and walls of the town with its foaming flood, with a seven-fold increase prescribed by the course of the waxing and waning moon."
       Then king Otto has sent to Richard to permit him to make for St. Ouen for prayer. Truly, having been given permission to pray there, the king comes with his bishops and dukes, who have set down their arms, to the monastery dedicated in honor and worship of St. Peter and St. Audoenus, which is in a suburb of the city. There indeed he himself and his followers have bountifully given many votive offerings and, still abiding in the monastery, he has said to the gathered magnates: "Resolve in your souls on what we ought now to do and let each one announce what seems right to him in this affair. At the prayer of king Louis and ensnared by the sly sophism of count Arnulf, we have come here where we are basely suffering shame and a blemish on our honor, and are not recovering our honor but instead suffering greater loss. By no hostile effort might we have been able to prevail in anything against the Normans, for all good fortune is furnished to them through the bed of the Seine. Thus am I afflicted by unbearable sadness and stung by extremely great wrath. For I do not know what ought to be done in the case of such a baleful crushing and such sad misfortunes. You who are greater in age and understanding and with whose advice I determine for everyone what things ought to be carried out, explore with the deep musing of sagacious thought what it would behoove us to do in order to act in a praiseworthy manner. If it please you, I will capture that wicked sophist Arnulf and I will send him, bound in chains, to count Richard so that he might avenge his father on him, because Arnulf compelled us and king Louis to hasten here fraudulently, desiring to kill duke Richard, just as he once killed his father."
       Then the prelates and magnates have replied to king Otto, saying: "If he is captured and if he is sent to Richard for punishment, it will be detestable to all and blameworthy before everyone. The shame and disgrace of filthy blemish and loss, which you are suffering in recompense of a fitting retribution, will not be obliterated, because your army, taking Richard and his followers by surprise in an unbecoming seige, remains here unjustly; but strive after advantageous advice concerning our retreating departure and take heed, with all purpose, that nothing even worse or baser befall you. Justly have you lost, in the strife of this seige, your nephew and your counts and your retinue and so very many warriors because, attacking this city, unjustly did you beseige it. For indeed you hastened here, without advice, at the prompting of crafty Arnulf; take precautions not to retreat without advice. All the inhabitants from the sea to the Seine are being massed and, after these past two years, are longing to attack you with prepared armies. It is not in the interest of our good health nor of our resolution or wealth to remain here for a long period of time. King Louis very much rues that he came here, for he knows that he accomplished nothing in the prolongation of this seige. But, keeping out of the way now that his inclination for mendacity has been published abroad, Arnulf, entangled by the tergiversations of very many sophisms, no longer strives to have discussions with you. And therefore, reconsidering with the musing of deep thought, weigh carefully what we from beyond the Rhine ought to do about this seige. The town will not be captured, hostages will not be given but, for us, the unavoidable damage will swiftly increase. Would to heaven that, by the mere injunction of your order, each one of us might be in that place where he sought out the earth at the commencement of his own birth! But since wishes have been availing us very little thus far, we pray, turn the soles of our feet in propitious retreat so that they will fall again upon the land of our birth."
       Thus king Otto, given a hint by this discussion and fearing the baleful danger of future misfortunes, musing for a long time, begins to speak to the leaders as though to himself, withdrawn into his own mind: "Lest we possibly suffer worse misfortunes than before, and lest our foes revel any further in the happy results of our defeat, tomorrow let us return to the road of our retreat, if it please you all." Then the men from beyond the Rhine, praising every aspect of this advice very much indeed, return merry to their tents, having poured forth a prayer in the basilica of St. Peter and St. Audoenus. But, informed by the report of certain people to take precautions not to be captured, count Arnulf, departing at night silently and cautiously and privately, was returning as swiftly as possible to the Flemish fields, having awakened his army in the first part of the dark night, secretly folded up their encampments and tents, and loaded their horses and wagons with all their household furnishings.

Otto, arise swiftly, and flee now speedily,
Make for your natal soil,
For the supernal avenger affrights your hosts!
Withdraw speedily now, arising,
Your sly general has vanished, come,
Rescue yourself now, nimble, by flight!
Why are you reclining still, against God's will?
Flee, now, go, now, flee, now, now,
And, although the Norman hosts hinder you,
You will go, alas! alas! even more dishonourable.
Now direct your step, now flee, now take to the road,
Compel your trusty followers to withdraw,
Now king, flee, withdraw, melt away, lest you perish,
Lest you be ruined, hedged in by that company.
The upright (note 1) and compassionate and good youth Richard
Highest marquis and duke, patrician count,
Already puts his prodigious host into quick motion,
He also longs for you to withdraw.
Whether you like it or not, he is the
Opulent, good and sagacious ruler of this region.
An equitable judge, he will distribute reins of law
And of governance among the populace
And, after the mournful debt of his lamentable loss,
He will worthily ascend to heaven.

                     Apostrophe to Louis
Why do you, who boast the royal dignity
And an exceptional authority, glittering everywhere,
Whom a royal lineage has put forth
From the royal pedigree of both parents,
Whom it is fitting to exalt, with the highest effort,
When you accomplish royal things,
And whose great-grandfathers are said to have made
Twice thrice three realms friendly to themselves,
Long to throw to the ground, through such misfortunes,
That most celebrated youth Richard?
Having surrendered yourself to treachery,
You will indeed attempt the above-mentioned things in vain.
This decision is now preferable, let you rather flee
On a nimble and winged horse.
At one time you desired to lash out (note 2) against the Normans,
You are mindful of what came to pass.
For, captured in the effort of the war, you surrendered
To innumerable misfortunes.
Now flee, withdraw, fall back, take to the road with nimble step,
Should you desire to live.
Let you not recommence strife against him whom the right hand
Of the ethereal judge has hallowed,
Whom the judgment of omnipotent God predestines
To such manners and merits
Whereby he might build, might found, churches,
Exalting them to the high summits and,
Strengthened by the sevenfold nectar of the celestial spirit,
Might protect, might defend,
Might rescue from enemies,
And, supporting, might help, might raise high the populace,
And might supply, adorn, bind together and increase
The religious acts of each order and each rank
And, urging, might force them to live according to a regular law
In service to the one enthroned on high,
And so, gaining the fellowship of the supernal flower-garland,
He will live at the pinnacle of heaven.

                     Apostrophe to Richard
Good, worshipful Richard,
Venerable, worthily beloved
Marquis, duke and bountiful count,
Let you no longer dread, anxious,
For lo! alarm before the omnipotent Lord
Has now rushed upon these kings,
Making them extremely faint-hearted
And, struck with consternation in their souls by God's dart,
Very many will be captured by your bands,
Very many will die by the sword,
Thus, they will barely get back to their fatherland,
By fleeing now, swift.
And you, the judge, will again tame the souls
Of the people through laws.
And by the founding of churches
You will compel, you will drive and you will trouble
This host of the threefold order
To concern itself
With the Deity of the sacred Trinity,
Through active and contemplative obedience.

               Apostrophe to Arnulf (note 3)
Betrayed by your plots and your wide-gaping clefts
And all your evils,
Hated exceedingly, like a putrid beast,
A hateful, hated scourge,
And a harmful mischievous person, nay rather a traitor,
A plague injurious to all,
Harmful to all,
Guilty in word and deed and thought,
You will, in the future, renew strife only with difficulty, (note 4)
You will put no one into quick motion with your quarrels.
Leave Richard alone, that upright youth,
Predestined already for God.
A marquis, patrician, (note 5) duke and count,
Elect, bountiful, extremely mighty,
Illustrious, equitable, compassionate and upright,
Holy and modest, blameless,
Both a famed summit of sacred religion
And a very celebrated model of organization,
This shining man's highest idea (note 6) of good
Enfolds the Norman populace.


1. Preferring the "probus" of CC 276.

2. Preferring the "feritare" of CC 276.

3. Preferring the "ad Arnulfum" of CC 276.

4. Preferring the "haud" of CC 276.

5. Preferring the "patricius" of CC 276.

6. In Greek.

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