Chapter 59

[ 59 ]


       Having briefly summed up his deeds, we accordingly say with merit and equity and credibility that Richard, duke of the Norman region, is blessed and holy: all the gifts associated with the evangelical beatitudes (note 1) are certainly found in him.
       The first of these is "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." This is something which appears, clearer than daylight, to have been present in this confessor who, with the effort of all his heart and the emotion of all his mind, gave himself over to the imitable poverty of Christ, only retaining the monarchy of the Norman region lest the condition of the sacrosanct church be imperilled by attacking pagans, and not for the sake of any transient esteem. Whatever humans, of wordly creation, hold fast as being of great value, in his own mind: dangerous; whatever as being great, in his heart: fleeting; whatever as being delightful, to him: not everlasting. Veraciously foresaking all those things in his own mind and wholly spurning them in his own heart, through Christ's generosity he reached the kingdom of heaven, which he long desired. Since He has chosen that the kingdom of heaven be composed of the poor in spirit, we believe that he has been assigned to it.
       The subsequent words of the Gospel promise the following: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Whoever reads this brief sequence of his life will have been able to become thoroughly acquainted with something of his agreeableness: how agreeable, how meek, how benevolent, how extremely kind he was! He restrained count Tetbold in part through arms, in part through piety. He subdued king Lothar through humility. He regulated the Dacians through the agreeableness of his words and through gifts. He gathered together Franks and other nations, calling them to himself through extremely humble words and through presents. He protected the inhabitants of the Norman region through his extreme piety. As a devoted head of the family, he cherished the residents of his household. He was benevolent in every pursuit, he uttered agreeable words in every affair and deed. For he has indeed deserved to abide in the land of the living, he who watched over the land of his fleshly life with such gentle kindness.
       There follows the third beatitude, in which it is said: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be consoled." For he was indeed rich in treasures and tributes and warriors and household servants, wherefore would he mourn that he was so involved in, and trapped by, worldly affairs. Moreover, he would mourn the perversities of monks whom, by means of the deceitful goods of this duping world, inconstant error would draw away from the abandoned straight and narrow into an execrable headlong fall. He would mourn the mistakes of canons who fell away from religious injunctions. He would mourn the ignorance and delights of his own youth, and would lie humbly prostrate on the ground, weeping greatly.
       It goes on: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be sated." No one who precisely weighs his peace-making acts doubts that duke Richard truly had this hunger and thirst. For he would flash with earnestness for equity, he would incessantly seek the road to a court of justice. He would overpower with the abominable yoke of the law those who neglected equity, he would correct with a stern word those who rejected it. For, while he lived, as the Psalmist reports, in his realm mercy and truth met one another, justice and peace kissed one another. Thirsting, he would hunger to gain for Christ both himself and his followers so that, on judgment day, he might be able to share eternally with God. This was his most urgent and inexhaustible desire, this his most lasting hunger, and this his unfailing thirst: that he cause everyone to convert.
       It goes on: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God." Who doubts that the heart of that duke and patrician and confessor (so great!) was a sanctuary of the lord and a hall of the eternal king? The pureness of his heart would shine far and wide, and his most serene face would clearly disclose the purity of his mind. Even as a layman, he would carry out with a pure heart the commands of the divine law: with his benevolent mind, he would nourish the rich, the middling and the poor. It is evident from the churches of the Norman region, so wonderfully furnished with religious objects, what sort of heart and mind and will he possessed.
       It goes on: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God." However, the reward of the peacemakers is that they both be called and be children of God. That they be in perfect love what they are called in worthiness. That duke flourished with the gift of that boon, (note 2) for he pacified whomever he could. Moreover, he would work at that most fully on Sundays and on the festivals of the saints: truly he would, carefully and gently, procure the favor of rebels and sowers of discord. The count of Flanders, Arnulf by name, (note 3) at one time refused to serve and wage war for king Lothar. Thus king Lothar, in his wrath over this matter, having gathered in his enmity a band of Frankish people and Burgundians, beseiged and captured Arras and subjugated to himself other ramparted towns all the way to the river Lys. Mournful at the grief of this misfortune, a suppliant and devout count Arnulf begged duke Richard to reconcile him with the king and the leaders of the Frankish people. Truly Richard, mighty because of his accustomed habit of benevolent peace-making and proceeding to a conference with the king concerning the matter of this loss, reconciled count Arnulf with the king and, through the extraordinary emotion of his beseeching, forced the latter to return Arras to the former! Nor should it be skipped over how, after king Lothar's death, duke Hugh, enthroned in the kingship, (note 4) wished to ride against count Albert (note 5) with an amassed hostile army. Thus Albert, fearing the future arrival of the raging king, sent a certain cleric named Dudo, a canon of Quintinus the precious martyr of Christ, to the said Richard, that patrician of highest forbearance, to intercede for him before the king, filled with baleful wrath, so that, by his active intervention, the district of Vermandois would not be ravaged by armed heinousness. Truly, duke Richard received the cleric with a respect of the highest reverence, and went to the king who wished to ride on Albert with a gathered enemy army. And, restraining the wrathful king through the pursuit of various kinds of requests, once sureties had been given, he reconciled Albert with the king. Therefore, that duke was profusely distinguished by the token of this particular beatitude, for he would reconcile whomever he heard to be in disagreement, either by himself or through ambassadors. For he pacified Frankish people and Lotharingians, Burgundians and Flemings, Angles and Irish, Normans and Bretons. For he knew that there was no sacrifice or offering so acceptable to God as the increase of peace. Therefore, that duke is reverently numbered among those who are, both through faith and through imitation, called children of God, for he fulfilled with every faithful effort whatever he understood to be suitable for one of that dignity, knowing that God does not prohibit as many people as possible from becoming gods through their participation in the Godhead.
       Thus, let us look at the following part of the Gospel, where it is said: "Blessed are those who suffer persecution because of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." If the cause of the persecution of this duke is sought, without a doubt, none other will be found than the justice of Christ, that is, of him whom he would love with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength; whom he would venerate and adore with complete faith, with the utmost piety; for whose sake he would construct churches for monks and canons and would apportion whatever was needful, would force them to hold to the veneration of the monastic way of life; he would drive pagans to believe in Christ and would himself bear the burden of their assault so that they would not ravage Francia. Although persecuted in those evil-doers' manner by king Lothar and count Tetbold, he did not cease his praise of Christ, attending closely to religious things. Persecuted, indeed, in many ways, he has entered the kingdom of heaven which, we believe, he sought. He has been soothed by the saying of our savior, where it is said: "Blessed are you when, because of me, they curse you and persecute you and, lying, speak every evil against you. Rejoice and exult, for your reward is plentiful in heaven." (note 6) None of us has the power even to enumerate which and how many abuses and blasphemies that duke suffered for the sake of reaching the kingdom of heaven. For he sustained abuses for the sake of the catholic faith, for the sake of safeguarding realm, for the sake of most harshly crushing pagans, for the sake of a most holy contrition on the part of monks who disregarded the rule, for the sake of harmony among canons who disagreed amongst themselves, for the sake of the peace so often broken amongst the laity. But Christ was on the side of that duke, therefore the threats of evil-doers could not prevail against him. For, having overthrown the vileness of his enemies and of those who envied him, he would indeed rejoyce and exult in his promised heavenly reward.

                            Apostrophe

Although I am released from cheap topics
Through the wonderful and eminent
And celebrated (among all worshippers of Christ)
Actions of the distinguished and honorable
Count and patrician and duke Richard,
The section of his deeds already treated seems better,
For what has not yet been disclosed
Brings stinging disaster, ah!, to stupid me,
And the shining sequence now grows groggy.
Most excellent reader, you will be greatly defrauded
Of the reward of very great enjoyment
Because the muse has hardly touched the greatest hardship:
Alas, alas! my mind, shuddering, prophetic
Of death and grief, dreads defining
Funereal and extremely mournful ends.
A sorrowful thing deserves to be kept silent,
A sorrowful thing, full of grief.
Yet, however much it may be sad and menacing
To say this thing, both complaining and strange to everyone,
However much it may be doleful to write, I will write.
Moaning (because I grieve, because I weep), I will write
How that duke and patrician, that highest marquis
Approached life
Through the required threshold of the death of the flesh,
Joined to Christ the never-ending lord
And, gratified (may you be even more astounded!),
Both experienced God and is God. (note 7)        


Notes:


1. The Beatitudes are described in Christ's Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 3 - 10).

2. Beneficium.

3. Arnulf II, count of Flanders (+ 988).

4. Hugh Capet, son of Hugh the Great count of Paris and duke of France, was elected king of the Western Franks in 987, and died on 24 October 996.

5. Albert I, count of Vermandois circa 949 - 987.

6. Luke 6: 22 - 23.

7. In Greek.


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