Chapter 54

[ 54 ]


       Thus the mightiest duke Richard, sad and sorrowful at the sudden misfortune of these events, called together the hardiest legions of the Norman army and, trusting to that innumerable military band, marched on Tetbold and, pillaging and setting fire to the Chartrain and the county of Dunes, returned home undaunted. After duke Richard the great's armies (note 1) had scattered and returned to their own homes, count Tetbold stole secretly into Norman territory with his own amassed his army. When, however, duke Richard the great had learned by the report of certain people that Tetbold, approaching Norman territory, had arrived, he sent a certain Richardulus to report swiftly on the size of the army. Truly he, riding rapidly towards the place where Tetbold was staying, slew several men whom he encountered separated from their army and, darkened by the blood of the slain, reported to duke Richard that count Tetbold was at hand.
       However duke Richard the great, seeing him covered with blood and his weapons drenched with gore, said to those present: "This man has indeed taken part in a struggle with Tetbold's followers," then said to him: "How many thousands are in his army? On what side of the Seine is he approaching our borders?" He replied: "Three thousand. And he is, by force of arms, rushing upon us from the left side, that is near Evreux." The great duke replied to him: "If he strove to give battle against us or to beseige the town of Rouen, he would hasten to strike us from the other side, where the town is conspicuously located. But because the deep main of the Seine stands as an obstacle between us and them, and he lacks the boats to cross it, in no way is he trying to challenge us in war, but cruelly resolves to disgrace us by creating disorder, pillaging and consuming by fire the fatherland under our authority. But let us, for whom boats are available, cross towards them with our gathered leaders, and let us ascertain which of us is more pleasing to God." Having said these things, he took refuge in the beneficial aid of efficacious prayer, making for the hall of the sacrosanct mother of God and placing the precious present of a corporal upon her altar. Truly God, who resists the arrogant, exalts and raises up the humble, hearkened to the most humble wish of his devout prayer.
       But count Tetbold, in the malevolent aim of his Norman plan, would act fiercely, maliciously in that land and would travel, surrounded by an iron-clad army, all the way to the houses of Ementrudeville, (note 2) situated in the harbor on the other side of the Seine river from Rouen. But that hardiest marquis Richard has sought another harbor for navigation and, crossing the bed of the Seine throughout the night, has initiated (with a few followers) the war against Tetbold, rushing upon him at dawn. Indeed in the first combat encounter they would do battle with mutilated spears and lances. But in the second with glittering swords. For at that time a hardy band of Normans, approaching as a battle-line of glittering swords, their brazen shields joined and strapped together, has attacked those of the Franks who are armed and opposing them and, mangling and overthrowing and smashing right and left the wedge-shaped battle-formations of their enemies, has cut through the thick host of opponents, riding over the corpses of the slain. And in that very spot the tide of battle is turned against the wedged-shaped formations of the remaining enemy.
       Hereupon a great carnage of Franks is brought to pass in that place, and the varied company is tormented and slain. For the warlike and fierce nation of the Normans, running to and fro, traverses the hazardous battle like wolves through sheepfolds, harshly killing and overthrowing the enemy hosts. Indeed, as the great duke Richard's followers cry out, of one mind, that the field of battle is his, the confidence to do battle has departed from all of Tetbold's men, and the very assurance of life itself is bewailed as lost. No one even recognizes where he turns in trying to deliver himself, or where he conceals himself, trying to keep out of the way. In order not to be killed by the Normans, some preserve themselves in thickets dense with grown-together shrubs, others in marshes thickly rooted with alders and poplars.

                             Apostrophe


If peradventure you had been there, you would have seen
Fields and woods, lying open, boil with a new carnage
And foaming streams turn red with sacred blood,
And lukewarm gore steam upon the grass,
Bodies lie prostrate, of the deceased and the mutilated,
Bodies whose garments the fierce rustic nation would utterly despoil,
Each one picturing (note 3) for himself the critical moments of variable                      death,
And duke Richard congratulate the glad warriors, the carnage finished.


Notes:


1. Preferring the "exercitibus" of Bongars 390 and others.

2. Today Saint-Sever, a suburb of Rouen.

3. Conjecturing "pingere" where the ms. is blank.


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