Revolt of the Earls

In August 1072, King William invaded Scotland. He doesn't appear to have met with any significant resistance, and he received the submission of, the Scots’ king, Malcolm Canmore at Abernethy (on the south bank of the Tay).

William returning thence deprived Gospatric of the dignity of his earldom [northern Northumbria], charging him with having afforded counsel and aid to those who had murdered the earl [Robert Cumin] and his men at Durham [in January 1069[*]], although he had not been present in person; and that he had been on the side of the enemy when the Normans were slain at York.
Symeon of Durham Historia Regum
Gospatric being cast down from his dignity, Waltheof was raised to the earldom, which was his right by his father’s and mother’s descent[*] … At that time (namely, when the king had returned from Scotland) he built a castle in Durham, where the bishop might keep himself and his people safe from the attacks of assailants. —


The king appointed Walcher bishop of the church of Durham, from a clerk of the church of Liège, (for he had come over on the invitation of the king himself), illustrious in birth, upright in character, endowed with the grace of sacred and secular learning. Eilaf, the housecarl, held in especial honour by the king, with many other leading men conducted him to York, where, by the king's direction, Earl Gospatric met and received the prelate, to accompany him as far as Durham; and he came to the church of his see at Mid-Lent [27th March 1071].
Symeon of Durham Historia Regum (s.a. 1071)
Some time after this [in 1072], the king of whom we have been speaking [i.e. William] came into Durham, along with his army, upon their return from Scotland, and made strict inquiry whether the body of the blessed Cuthbert rested there; and although all exclaimed aloud, and with oaths, that such was the case, yet he would not believe the statement. He determined therefore to bring the matter to an ocular demonstration, for he had in his retinue certain bishops and abbots who, at his command, would settle the question. He had already come to the resolution, that if the body were not discovered there, he would order all the chief of the nobility and of the elder people to be beheaded. So while all were in great consternation, and were imploring God’s mercy through the merits of St Cuthbert, the aforesaid bishop [Walcher] having celebrated mass upon the festival of All Saints [1st November], the king, just as he was on the eve of carrying into execution the intention which he had formed in his mind, was suddenly seized with an excessive heat, the intensity of which so oppressed him that he could scarcely endure it. He hastened therefore to leave the church, and paying no attention to a magnificent entertainment which had been provided for him, he hurriedly mounted his horse, and did not bridle until he had reached the river Tees. Hence it is evident that St Cuthbert, one of God’s great confessors, rests there, and that the king was not permitted by God to injure the people.
Symeon of Durham LDE (III, 19)
This was not the only miraculous occurrence reported during King William’s journey from Scotland. An anonymous, 12th century, Vita Oswini (Life of St Oswin) says (§8) that the army was detained at Monkchester (soon to be Newcastle) by the swollen river Tyne. A foraging party took provisions from the monastery at Tynemouth (where St Oswin’s remains were housed). The offended saint got revenge by causing the horses which had been fed with the stolen fodder to fall ill. One of the Norman knights, called Robert, saved the life of his favourite warhorse by offering his best cloak at St Oswin’s tomb.
— Bishop Walcher and earl Waltheof were very friendly and accommodating to each other; so that he, sitting together with the bishop in the synod of priests, humbly and obediently carried out whatever the bishop decreed for the reformation of Christianity in his earldom.
Symeon of Durham Historia Regum

The charges made against Gospatric might be thought to apply just as well to Waltheof. However, Waltheof was clearly a favourite of King William. Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 221) calls him “one of the greatest of the English”, and notes that the king “married him to his own niece Judith to strengthen the bonds of friendship between them”.

Meanwhile, the happy political situation (from the Norman point of view) on the other side of the Channel – giving William the domestic security which enabled him to successfully conquer England – had deteriorated. William’s father-in-law, Count Baldwin V of Flanders, died in 1067. (Since 1060, Baldwin had acted as regent for his young nephew, King Philip I of France.[*]) Baldwin V’s successor, his son, Baldwin VI, died in 1070, and was succeeded by his fifteen-year-old son, Arnulf III. Arnulf’s mother, Richildis of Hainaut, served as regent. Baldwin VI’s brother, Robert the Frisian, however, invaded and took possession of Flanders. Richildis and Arnulf sought assistance from King Philip I. Now, Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 234) reports that, at this time, King William sent his right-hand man, William fitz Osbern, earl of Hereford, to Normandy, to act, alongside Queen Matilda (daughter of Baldwin V), as his regent. King Philip:

… mustered an army of Frenchmen to aid Arnulf, and summoned Earl William as regent of Normandy to accompany him.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 235)

Taking only ten knights with him, Earl William:

… rode off gaily to Flanders as though he were going to a tournament.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 235)
But there came Robert, and slew Arnulf his kinsman and the earl William, and put the king to flight and slew many thousands of his men.

This battle took place at Cassel, Flanders, in February 1071.[*] The upshot was that King Philip made peace with Robert – Robert became count of Flanders (Robert I), and Philip married Robert’s step-daughter, Bertha:

But mutual and lasting hostility arose between the Normans and Flemings … chiefly because of the fate of Earl William.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 237)

The death of Geoffrey Martel (Geoffrey II), count of Anjou, in 1060 was followed by a protracted dispute between his nephews (he had died childless), Geoffrey the Bearded (Geoffrey III) and, his younger brother, Fulk Rechin. William the Bastard (William II), duke of Normandy (and future king of England), took advantage of Anjou’s preoccupation, and, c.1063, conquered Maine (which acted as a buffer-zone between Normandy and Anjou). In 1068, Fulk (Fulk IV) finally threw his brother into prison. The following year there was a nationalist rebellion in Maine – Norman rule there collapsed. The resulting government, headed by one Geoffrey de Mayenne, however, was unstable. In 1072, the citizens of Le Mans invited Count Fulk’s intervention on their behalf. Fulk obliged, and assisted them to drive out Geoffrey de Mayenne. And so:

In this year [1073] King William led an English and French army over sea, and won the land of Maine. And the Englishmen greatly wasted it; they ruined vineyards and burned towns and greatly wasted the land, and reduced it all into the hand of King William; and they afterwards went home to England.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscripts D and E[*]

The following year, as reported in some detail by Chronicle Manuscript D:

In this year [1074] King William went over sea to Normandy; and Edgar Cild [i.e. Edgar Ætheling] came from the Flemings’ land to Scotland on St Grimbald’s mass-day [8th July]; —
— and King Malcolm and his sister [i.e. Edgar’s sister, Malcolm’s wife] Margaret received him with great worship. At the same time Philip king of France wrote to him, and bade him come to him, and he would give him the castle of Montreuil, that he might then daily do harm to his enemies [i.e. the Normans]. Well, King Malcolm and his sister Margaret gave him and all his men great gifts and many treasures, in skins decked with purple, and in pelisses of marten-skin and miniver-skin and ermine-skin; and in costly robes, and in golden and silver vessels; and led him and all his shipmen with great worship from his dominion. But on the voyage evil befell them, when they were out at sea; so that there came on them very rough weather, and the raging sea and the strong wind cast them on the land so that all their ships burst asunder, and they themselves with difficulty came to land [evidently on the English coast], and almost all their treasures were lost. And some of his men also were seized by the Frenchmen [i.e. Normans]; but he himself and his best men went back again to Scotland – some ruefully going on foot, and some miserably riding. Then King Malcolm advised him that he should send to King William over sea, and pray his peace; and he did so, and the king granted it to him, and sent after him. And King Malcolm and his sister again gave him and all his men innumerable treasures, and very worthily again sent him from their dominion. And the sheriff of York came to meet him at Durham, and went all the way with him, and enabled him to find food and fodder at every castle which they came to, until they came over sea to the king. And King William then received him with great worship; and he was there in his court, and took such rights as he allowed him.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript D

Whilst King William was absent in Normandy, however, a plot was hatched against him in England. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says:

In this year [1075] King William gave to Earl Ralph the daughter of William fitz Osbern [in marriage].
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscripts D and E

Florence of Worcester, though, maintains that:

Roger, earl of Hereford, son of William, earl of the same province, gave his sister in marriage to Ralph, earl of the East Angles, against the command of King William …

Anyway, at the wedding celebrations[*]:

There were Earl Roger and Earl Waltheof, and bishops and abbots; and they there resolved that they would drive their royal lord from his kingdom … Earl Ralph and Earl Roger were ringleaders in this evil design; and they enticed the Bretons to them, and sent also to Denmark for a ship-army.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript D phraseology
… they compelled Earl Waltheof, who had been entrapped by their wiles, to join them in the plot.[*]
Florence of Worcester

Roger returned to Herefordshire, and Ralph, with his new wife (whose name, incidentally, was Emma), went to Norwich. Waltheof, however:

As soon as he was able … went to Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, and accepting penance for his compulsory oath, by his advice proceeded to King William, who was then in Normandy, and having related the affair from beginning to end, voluntarily threw himself upon the royal clemency.[*] But the chiefs of the conspiracy … began by every exertion, with the aid of their supporters, to excite the rebellion.
Florence of Worcester


The first letter would appear to have been written when Lanfranc had got his first inkling of Roger's disaffection:
Our lord the king of the English greets you and all of us as his faithful subjects in whom he places great trust, commanding us to do all in our power to prevent his castles from being handed over to his enemies: may God avert such a disaster. I urge you then, as I must urge the dearest of my sons – whom God knows I love wholeheartedly and long to serve, whose father too I loved like my own soul – to be so scrupulous in this matter and in all your duty as a vassal of our lord the king that you may have praise of God and the king and all good men. Never forget your father’s distinguished career: the faithful service he gave his lord, his zeal in winning great possessions and how honourably he held what he had won.[*]
Lanfranc urges Roger to arrange a meeting with him, to “discuss both your affairs and the interests of the king”.  In his next letter, Lanfranc greets Roger, like he had in the earlier letter, as his “dearest son and friend”, and continues:
I grieve more than I can say at the unwelcome news I hear of you. It would not be right that a son of Earl William – a man whose sagacity and loyalty to his lord and all his friends is renowned in many lands – should be called faithless and be exposed to the slur of perjury or any kind of deceit. On the contrary, the son of such a great man should follow his father’s example, and be for others a pattern of integrity and loyalty in all respects. I therefore beg you, as a son whom I cherish and the dearest of friends, for the sake of God and your own good name, if you are guilty of such conduct to return to your senses; and if you are not, to demonstrate this by the clearest possible evidence.
Once again, Lanfranc urges Roger to meet with him – guaranteeing his safe passage. Once again, Roger declined the invitation:
Lanfranc, by the grace of God archbishop, to his one-time dearest son and friend earl Roger: may he have sound judgement and some concern for his soul’s welfare.
I grieve for you inexpressibly, for God knows I loved you and desired with all my heart to love and serve you. But because the Devil’s prompting and the advice of evil men have led you into an enterprise which under no circumstances should you have attempted, necessity has forced me to change my attitude and turn my affection not so much into hate as bitterness and the severity of justice. I have sent messengers, I have sent letters not once but a second time inviting you to come to me: to receive counsel for your soul from me your father in God and true friend, and on better advice to abandon the foolish undertaking which you had planned. You would not do so. Therefore I have cursed and excommunicated you and all your adherents by my authority as archbishop; I have cut you off from the holy precincts of the Church and the assembly of the faithful, and by my pastoral authority I have commanded this to take effect throughout the whole land of England.
The above extracts are from Letters 31, 32 and 33A in The Letters of Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, edited and translated by Helen Clover and Margaret Gibson (1979).
William de Warenne and Richard de Bienfaite, son of Count Gilbert [of Brionne, murdered in 1040], whom the king had appointed among his chief ministers for all business in England, summoned the rebels to the king’s court. They however, scorned the summons, preferring to continue in their evil ways, and joined battle with the king’s men.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 262)
… Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, with a great military force, Æthelwig, abbot of Evesham, with his followers, and having procured the assistance of Urse, sheriff of Worcester, and Walter de Lacy, with their forces, and a large number of the people, prepared to prevent the earl of Hereford from crossing the Severn and joining Earl Ralph and his army at the appointed place. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, the king’s brother, and Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, with a great force, both of English and Normans, ready for action, met Earl Ralph encamped near Cambridge. But he, perceiving that his plan was frustrated, and moreover fearing the superior numbers of his opponents, escaped secretly to Norwich, and leaving his castle to the care of his wife and his knights, embarked from England for Brittany; his adversaries pursuing him, and killing or maiming in various ways those of his followers whom they were able to capture. Then the leaders laid siege to his castle …
Florence of Worcester

Orderic doesn't mention that Bishop Wulfstan et al. held Earl Roger in check, and he says it was William de Warenne and Richard de Bienfaite who:

… mustered the English army and engaged in a hard-fought battle with the rebels in a plain called Fagaduna.[*] Holding their ground they won the field by God’s help, and left their mark on all prisoners of whatever rank by cutting off their right foot. They pursued Ralph the Breton to his castle, but could not capture him. —
— Then concentrating their forces they [William de Warenne and Richard de Bienfaite] besieged and attacked Norwich, encouraging their friends by their bravery and military skill, and harrying their besieged foes by continual assault with every kind of engine of war.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 262–3)

After a siege of three months (according to Orderic), the defenders of Norwich capitulated.

To his most glorious lord William, king of the English, Lanfranc his loyal subject sends loyal service and prayers.
Glory be to God on high, by whose mercy your kingdom has been purged of its Breton dung. Norwich Castle has been surrendered and those Bretons in it who held lands in England have been granted their lives and spared mutilation; they have sworn for their part to leave your kingdom within forty days and never to enter it again without your permission. The landless mercenaries who served Ralph the traitor and his associates begged for and were granted the same terms within the limit of one month. Bishop Geoffrey, William de Warenne and Robert Malet have remained in the castle itself with three hundred heavily-armed soldiers, supported by a large force of slingers and siege engineers. By God’s mercy all the clamour of warfare has fallen silent in the land of England.
The Lord almighty bless you.
Letter from Lanfranc to King William[*]
These things being done, the king returned in the autumn from Normandy, and put Earl Roger in confinement, and delivered Earl Waltheof to custody, though he had implored his mercy.
Florence of Worcester
Earl Roger … was judged by the laws of the Normans, and condemned to perpetual imprisonment after forfeiting all his earthly goods.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 264)
Earl Waltheof was summoned before the king and accused, on the deposition of his wife Judith, of being a party to the conspiracy and proving unfaithful to his lord. He, however, fearlessly and openly admitted that he had learned from the traitors of their infamous intention, but had refused to give them any support in such a shameful affair. Judgement was demanded on the grounds of this confession: but as the judges could not agree among themselves a decision was postponed several times and delayed a year [actually, several months, but not a year]. During this time the brave earl was kept in the king’s prison at Winchester …
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 265)
And soon after this came two hundred ships from Denmark; wherein the chiefs were Cnut, son of King Swein,[*] and Earl Hakon; and they durst not maintain a battle against King William, but …
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript D phraseology

At this point in the story Manuscript E simply says the Danes “proceeded over sea to Flanders”, but Manuscript D reports that they:

… went to York, and broke into St Peter’s minster, and therein took much property, and so went away; but all perished who were in that plan; that was the son of Earl Hakon, and many others with him.
The king was that Midwinter at Westminster; there were all the Bretons condemned who were at the marriage-feast at Norwich:
Some were blinded, and some banished from the land,
and some punished ignominiously.[*]
So were the king’s traitors crushed."
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript D phraseology
And in this year [1076] Earl Waltheof was beheaded at Winchester, on St Petronella’s mass-day [31st May]; and his body was conveyed to Crowland [8 miles northeast of Peterborough], and he is there buried.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript D[*]

It is evident that Waltheof had a skald, Thorkell Skallason, in his entourage. Two stanzas of a poem that Thorkell composed about his employer (Valþjófsflokkr) appear in Heimskringla. The first tells how Waltheof caused a hundred of King William’s ‘Frenchmen’ to burn to death.[*] The second laments his death:

It is certain that William, the reddener of weapons, he who from the south clove the foamy sea, has kept bad faith with valiant Waltheof. Truly it will be long before slaying of men ceases in England – but my lord was gallant! There will not die a more famous chief than he.
Valþjófsflokkr (Heimskringla, ‘Saga of Harald Sigurdsson’ Chapter 97)
This man [Waltheof], while yet in the enjoyment of life, being placed in close confinement, lamented without ceasing and with extreme bitterness the unrighteous actions of his past life. He earnestly sought to appease his God by vigils, prayers, fastings, and almsgiving. Men desired to blot the remembrance of him on earth; but we firmly believe that he is now rejoicing with the saints in heaven, on the testimony of Archbishop Lanfranc of pious memory, from whom he received the sacrament of penance after his confession, who declared that not only was he guiltless of the crime laid to his charge, the conspiracy mentioned above, but that, like a true Christian, he had lamented with tears of penitence the other sins which he had committed; and he added that he himself should esteem himself happy could he enjoy, after his own departure, the blessed repose of the earl.
… some assert that he joined the league of treachery more through necessity than inclination. This is the excuse the English make for him, and those, of the greater credit, for the Normans affirm the contrary, to whose decision the Divinity itself appears to assent, showing many and very great miracles at his tomb; for they declare that during his captivity, he wiped away his transgressions by daily sorrow.
His body they [the monks of Crowland] cherished well.
Afterwards it was often seen in the place
That God did by it many works.
Geffrei Gaimar (5734–5736)

Orderic Vitalis spent five weeks at Crowland, where the cult of Waltheof was fostered. Consequently, his narrative (HE IV: ii, 266–7) becomes more hagiography than history. Waltheof (“a handsome man of splendid physique”) had been taken to his place of execution – St Giles’ Hill, outside Winchester – very early in the morning, whilst people were still asleep. Once there, Waltheof gave away his rich garments to the few clergy and poor who were present, and prostrated himself in prayer. After some considerable time, his executioners, anxious to get the job over before the citizens awoke and intervened to prevent the sentence being carried out, told him to get up. He asked to be allowed to say the Lord’s prayer:

As they agreed he rose, and kneeling with his eyes raised to heaven and his hands stretched out he began to say aloud, “Our Father, which art in Heaven”. But when he reached the last sentence and said, “And lead us not into temptation,” such tears and lamentations broke from him that he could not finish his prayer. The executioner refused to wait any longer, but straightway drawing his sword struck off the earl’s head with a mighty blow. Then the severed head was heard by all present to say in a clear voice, “But deliver us from evil. Amen.”[*]
HE IV: ii, 267)

Waltheof’s body was flung into a ditch and covered with turf. A fortnight later, “at the request of Judith and with the king’s permission”, the abbot of Crowland dug up the body (“which still remained incorrupt with the blood as fresh as if he had just died”), transported it to Crowland and buried it in the chapter-house.

At this point, Orderic includes his abridgement of Felix’s ‘Life’ of St Guthlac (produced at the request of the prior of Crowland), followed by a history of Crowland Abbey (based on information told to him by the subprior and other senior monks). Orderic says (HE IV: ii, 286) that when Waltheof’s body had been interred for almost sixteen years, the then abbot, Ingulf, had it moved into the church. When the coffin lid was opened, the corpse was “found as incorrupt as on the day of its burial, and moreover the head was joined to the body”.  Orderic’s visit to Crowland took place during the tenure of Ingulf’s successor, Abbot Geoffrey, i.e. between 1109 and 1124. It is said (HE IV: ii, 288) to have been in “the third year” of Abbot Geoffrey’s term of office, that miracles first began to occur at Waltheof’s tomb: “the news of them gladdened the hearts of the English and the populace came flocking in great numbers to the tomb of their compatriot”.[*]  Orderic himself (“the Englishman Vitalis”) was asked to compose an epitaph for Waltheof:

Beneath this stone a man of highest virtue –
The valiant son of Siward, earl and Dane –
Waltheof, most glorious earl, lies nobly buried.
Honoured in war, revered by all, he flourished;
Yet knowing worldly wealth and fame are shadows
He gave his love to Christ, and sought to please him,
Cherished his Church, and humbly loved his clergy,
Cherishing most the faithful monks of Crowland.
Sentenced to die by cruel Norman judgement,
At the last dawn of May he fell, beheaded.
The marshy soil of Crowland which, while living,
He had so deeply loved received his body.
God grant his soul eternal rest in Heaven.
(HE IV: ii, 289–90)

Waltheof’s widow inherited many of the land-holdings associated with his Midlands earldom – in the Domesday Book she appears as Countess Judith. Waltheof’s Northern earldom was handed to Walcher, bishop of Durham.

Still in 1076:

And King William went over sea, and led a force to Brittany, and besieged the castle of Dol; —
— but the Bretons held it, until the king [Philip I] came from France; and King William went from there, and there lost both men and horses, and innumerable treasures.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript D phraseology
In this year [1077] the king of the French and William king of England were reconciled; though it lasted but a little while.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Manuscript E[*]
See Rebellion and Retribution.
Dorsal or Dossal: an ornamental hanging, typically suspended behind a church altar.
After the above entry, Historia Regum s.a. 1072, Symeon launches into a lengthy digression on the earls of Northumbria, which includes the following material.
Whilst Symeon of Durham’s digression on the earls of Northumbria is slotted into the entries s.a. 1072, in Roger of Howden’s work a slightly augmented version of the material appears s.a. 953.
Gospatric’s earldom was Northumbria beyond the Tees – for more on the 11th century Northumbrian earls and their areas of jurisdiction see: The Battle of Carham.
Waltheof’s maternal grandfather, Ealdred, was a previous incumbent of that earldom. Ealdred was the victim of a blood-feud c.1038. Waltheof perpetuated the feud in 1073 (‘Historia Regum)’: “Earl Waltheof sending a strong band of Northumbrians, cruelly avenged the death of his grandfather Earl Ealdred, inasmuch as the sword of treachery destroyed the sons of Carl, who had put him to death, while they were feasting at Settrington.” (See: Ironside.)
King Cnut had appointed Waltheof’s father, Siward (a Dane), earl of southern Northumbria by 1033. In 1041, Siward killed Earl Eadwulf (brother and successor of Earl Ealdred), thus becoming earl of the whole of Northumbria (see: End of the Line). He married Earl Ealdred’s daughter, Ælfflæd.
Siward died in 1055, at which time Waltheof was still a child, and Tostig Godwinesson was appointed earl of Northumbria.
Waltheof features in the witness-list of a charter of King Edward the Confessor as earl (dux) in 1061 (S1033), and he also appears in a charter of Earl Ælfgar which is apparently of the same date (S1237) – but there is, of course, no indication of his jurisdiction.
Baldwin was married to Adela, sister of Philip I’s father, King Henry I. Philip I was only eight-years-old in 1060.
Orderic Vitalis (HE IV: ii, 235) gives the date as “Septuagesima Sunday, 10th of the Kalends of March”, i.e. 20th February. However, the foundation charter of St Peter’s, Cassel, suggests that the 22nd February, i.e. the feast of St Peter, was when the battle was fought.
Manuscript E’s version of this entry is phraseologically, but not materially, different. In fact, this battle (the battle of Cassel), which took place in late-February 1071, is the last event mentioned for 1070 in both manuscripts (as would be the case if the convention of starting the year on the following 25th March was being used – see Anno Domini), but since Manuscript D is one year in advance of the true date (the events of 1070 appearing s.a. 1071), the battle appears, correctly (by the modern convention of starting the year on 1st January), s.a. 1071 by accident.
The two words highlighted are omitted in Manuscript D. The above is the whole entry for the year 1073 in both manuscripts (though in Manuscript D it is incorrectly dated 1074).
Though wrongly assigned to 1075 in Manuscript D.
The events of 1075 are correctly dated in Manuscript E of the Chronicle. Manuscript D, still one year ahead, places them s.a. 1076. For the most part, the story is told very similarly in the two Chronicle manuscripts. Florence of Worcester, having combined material from both 1073 and 1074 into his entry for 1073, has slipped a year behind, assigning his account to 1074.
Frank Stenton* writes: “The later development of the Old English royal household is obscured by the indiscriminate use of a word staller, apparently borrowed from the Norse stallari, as a term which could be applied to anyone with a permanent and recognized position in the King's company.”
* Sir Frank Stenton Anglo-Saxon England, Third Edition (1971), Chapter 17.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that the wedding-feast (‘bride-ale’ – from which the modern word ‘bridal’) took place at Norwich: “There was that bride-ale, that was many men’s bale [i.e. destruction].” (Rhyme as rendered in Manuscript D.)  Florence, though, says that the nuptials were celebrated “with much magnificence, along with a great multitude of nobles, at a place called Exning, in the province of Cambridge [now in Suffolk]”.
William of Malmesbury (GR III §255) lays blame for the plot firmly with Earl Ralph: “a man of a disposition foreign to every good thing. This man, in consequence of being betrothed to the king’s relation, the daughter of William fitz Osbern, conceived a most unjust design, and meditated an attack on the sovereignty. Wherefore, on the very day of his nuptials, whilst splendidly banqueting (for the luxury of the English had now been adopted by the Normans), and when the guests had become intoxicated and heated with wine, he disclosed his intention in a copious harangue. As their reason was entirely clouded by drunkenness, they loudly applauded the orator. Here Roger, earl of Hereford, brother to the wife of Ralph, and here Waltheof, together with many others, conspired the death of the king.”
Ralph the Staller’s mother would appear to have been English. Ralph is not an English name, but entries in the Domesday Book indicate that his brother had the English name Godwine. See: Ann Williams The English and the Norman Conquest (1995), Chapter 3.
It may be recalled that William of Malmesbury (GR III §255) had said that Earl Roger’s wedding guests had agreed to his plan whilst under the influence of alcohol: “Next day, however, when the fumes of the wine had evaporated, and cooler thoughts influenced the minds of some of the party, the majority, repenting of their conduct, retired from the meeting. One of them, (said to have been Waltheof), at the recommendation of Archbishop Lanfranc, sailing to Normandy, related the matter to the king; concealing merely his own share of the business.”
According to Bruce Dickins*: “Fagaduna was the elevation now crowned by Whaddon church [about 10 miles southwest of Cambridge]; its name, ‘the pied hill’, refers to bare patches which at one time exposed the underlying chalk.”
* ‘Fagaduna in Orderic (A.D. 1075)’, in Otium et Negotium: studies in onomatology and library science presented to Olof von Feilitzen (1973).
Letter 34 in The Letters of Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, edited and translated by Helen Clover and Margaret Gibson (1979).
Letter 35 in The Letters of Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, edited and translated by Helen Clover and Margaret Gibson (1979).
Letter 33B in The Letters of Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, edited and translated by Helen Clover and Margaret Gibson (1979).
Letter 36 in The Letters of Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, edited and translated by Helen Clover and Margaret Gibson (1979).
Both manuscripts of the Chronicle record the death of King Swein (Swein Estrithsson, Swein II) in the year following these events, i.e. in 1076 (though Manuscript D, being one year ahead, places it s.a. 1077). Florence of Worcester makes no mention of the arrival of these Danish ships in 1075, but does report King Swein’s death s.a. 1076. There is though an area of doubt – Danish sources apparently date Swein’s death to 1074. However, Pope Gregory VII wrote to Swein in 1075, so, clearly, if Swein had died the previous year Gregory was not aware of it. Anyway, Swein’s son Harald (Harald Hén, Harald III) was the first of five sons to succeed him as king of Denmark.
fordemde = ‘condemned’, in Manuscript D.
fordyde = ‘destroyed’, in Manuscript E.
Florence of Worcester: “some he banished from England, and some he disgraced by gouging out their eyes or cutting off their hands”.
Dated correctly by Chronicle Manuscript E. Wrongly placed s.a. 1077 by Manuscript D, and s.a. 1075 by Florence of Worcester.
The phrases highlighted above are omitted in Manuscript E’s rendition of this entry.
“The warrior caused a hundred of the king’s retainers to burn in the heat of the fire; that was a night of roasting for men! It is told that the warriors had to lie beneath the wolf’s claw; from Frenchmen's corpses food was got for the dusky wolf.”
Snorri (Heimskringla, ‘Saga of Harald Sigurdsson’ Chapter 96) presents this stanza as pertaining to a somewhat implausible incident set in the aftermath of the battle of Hastings (where Earl Waltheof is said to have fought alongside his brother, King Harold!) – a hundred of William’s men take flight from Earl Waltheof’s men, who are themselves fleeing from the battle-site, and take refuge in an oak wood. Waltheof burns down the wood and the men hiding therein. Of course, Waltheof was not Harold’s brother, and there is no evidence to suggest he was at at Hastings. It is generally suspected that Thorkell is actually referencing some incident relating to the events at York in 1069.
(See Rebellion and Retribution.)
Orderic then states that the date of the execution was the ‘2nd of the Kalends of May’, i.e. 30th April. This is clearly just a slip-up – the ‘2nd of the Kalends of June’, i.e. 31st May (the correct date), being intended. Orderic later (HE IV: ii, 285 & 289) gives the date correctly.
William of Malmesbury also visited Crowland Abbey, no later than 1125. In his Gesta Pontificum Anglorum (IV §182) he writes: “The prior of Crowland has told me that, impressed by the miracles, he touched the noble body, which was free from all corruption, and saw that the head had been fixed back on to the rest of the body, with only a sort of red line showing the sign of the beheading. In consequence he said he had no hesitation in calling him a saint on all occasions, and offering in his name the prayers and other monastic services that people asked for.”
The very close resemblance of entries in Manuscripts D and E, evident since 1070, has now ended. The above is unique to Manuscript E.
Lanfranc continues: “On another point, the king has ordered his sheriffs not to hold any courts within your lands until he himself returns to England and can hear personally the matters in dispute between you and those sheriffs.”  The implication would seem to be that the royal sheriffs were exercising powers in Roger’s territory that they had not previously had. It is widely conjectured that all three earls, Roger, Ralph and Waltheof, were disgruntled because they wielded less authority than their father’s had.
See King Æthelbald of Mercia.
Roger of Howden’s Chronica begins with the year 732, and ends, somewhat abruptly, in 1201 – presumably Roger died at this time. Howden (East Riding of Yorkshire) belonged to the see of Durham. The first part of the Chronica, extending to 1148, is more or less a copy of an unpublished Durham compilation, known as the Historia post Bedam, which is a mix of material also found in the Historia Regum, traditionally attributed to Symeon of Durham, and material taken from the Historia Anglorum of Henry of Huntingdon.
Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon, first produced his Historia Anglorum (History of the English) about 1130. He later revisited the work – revising and extending – several times. The final version concludes with the accession of Henry II in 1154.
Libellus de Exordio atque Procursu istius hoc est Dunhelmensis Ecclesie (Tract on the Origins and Progress of this the Church of Durham).
Volume and page of Augustus Le Prevost’s five volume edition of the Historia Ecclesiastica (1838–1855).
Charters are referred to by their number in Sawyer's catalogue. Available online: The Electronic Sawyer.
Gesta Regum Anglorum (Deeds of the Kings of England).
Volume and page of Frédéric Pluquet's two volume edition of the Roman de Rou (1827).
Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla – a collection of sagas chronicling the kings of Norway, written in Old Norse – was composed about 1230. The work begins with the statement: “In this book I have had written old stories about those rulers who have held power in the Northern lands and have spoken the Scandinavian language, as I have heard them told by learned men, and some of their genealogies according to what I have been taught, some of which is found in the records of paternal descent in which kings and other men of high rank have traced their ancestry, and some is written according to old poems or narrative songs which people used to use for their entertainment. And although we do not know how true they are, we know of cases where learned men of old have taken such things to be true.”
Anglo-Norman chronicler Geffrei Gaimar wrote his Estoire des Engleis (History of the English), for a Lincolnshire patroness, round-about 1140. It is the earliest known historical work to have been written in the French language, and is in verse (actually, octosyllabic rhymed couplets). In fact, the Estoire des Engleis is the latter part of a longer work, but the earlier part has not survived. The existing work covers the period from the arrival in Britain of Cerdic (495) to the death of William Rufus (1100). Up to 959, it is based on a lost version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.