Chapter 13

[ 13 ]

       In the nine hundred and twelfth year from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, archbishop Franco has baptized Rollo, imbued with the catholic faith of the sacrosanct Trinity, and Robert, duke of the Franks, has taken him up from the font of the Savior and given his own name to him and endowed him honorably with great presents and gifts. Moreover Robert, that is Rollo, has caused his own counts and warriors and his entire armed band to be baptized and instructed through preaching in the faith of the Christian religion. After this, calling bishop Franco to him, he asks which churches in his own land are considered particularly venerable and which are said to be particularly mighty due to the merit and patronage of their saints. Then Franco: "The churches of Rouen and Bayeux and Evreux, dedicated in honor of the sacrosanct Mary, virgin and mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. The church placed on the mountain in peril of the sea, called by the name of the Archangel Michael, the prior of Paradise. In the suburb of this city, there is the monastery consecrated in the name of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, in which there used to recline a venerable archbishop of this town, Audoenus by name, glittering greatly with miracles and virtues. For fear of your arrival, he has been carried off to Francia. The sanctuary at JumiŠauml;ges, which you approached earlier, is supported by the merits of St. Peter, keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (note 1) There are many churches placed under your authority, but these are extraordinary." Then Robert: "In the region bordering our power, which saint is considered particularly mighty due to his merits?" Franco: "St. Dionysius. By nation a Greek, converted to the catholic faith by St. Paul then sent to preach in Francia by blessed Clement, successor of the apostle Peter, long suffering and lashed by the many whips of the pagans, at the last he suffered the punishment of death by blunted hatchets for the sake of God's love."
       Then Robert: "Before the land is distributed among my leaders, I desire to give a part of this land to God and to St. Mary and to the designated saints, that they might deign to come to my assistance." Franco: "You are executing a measure inspired by divine communication, and it is fitting that you do this during the seven days when you are attired in the white vestments of the chrism and the oil." And so, on the first day of his baptism Robert gave the very greatest amount of land, to be held in perpetuity, to God and the canons of the church of St. Mary at Rouen. On the second day, to the church of St. Mary at Bayeux. On the third, to the church of St. Mary at Evreux. On the fourth, to the church of the archangel Michael, periodically surrounded by the flooding tempests of the sea, according to the phase of the moon, every two weeks. (note 2) On the fifth, to the church of St. Peter and St. Audoenus. On the sixth, to St. Peter and St. Aichardus of the church of JumiŠauml;ges. On the seventh, he gave Berneval, with all its appurtenances, to St. Dionysius. Thus, on the eighth day of his purification, divested of his chrismal and baptismal garments, he began to mete out land to the counts in his own name, and to give bountifully to his fideles.
       At last, having made wedding preparations of great splendor, he took to wife the king's daughter Gisla, for whose sake he had made peace by reconciling himself with the Franks. He gave a guarantee of safety to all the nations desiring to abide in his land. He apportioned that land among his fideles and rebuilt it all, foresaken for so long, and he restored it, crammed with his own warriors and with foreign nations, he enjoined upon the populace rights and eternal laws, ratified and ordained by the will of the leaders, and likewise compelled them to abide in peaceful intercourse. He erected churches that had been utterly cast to the ground, restored sanctuaries that had been torn down by the crowd of pagans, remade and increased the walls and towers of cities, he subjugated the rebellious Bretons to himself and tread down upon the whole Breton realm, affluently granted to him as a source of victuals. And then he sent out a ban, that is an interdict, in the land under his authority, that is he prohibited anyone to be a thief or a bandit or to be an accessory to any person of ill will. Finally, he forbade anyone to carry home plough implements, but rather leave them in the field with the plough, and he forbade anyone to send a guard after a horse or donkey or cow so as not to lose it.
       In dread of this interdiction, a certain farmer residing on the villa at Longpaon (note 3) left his plough utensils in a field and, as midday approached, came home to eat. His wife began to rebuke him, with rough words and a resolute heart, because he had left behind the plough attachments in his place of labor. Vexed and rebuking her husband all the while, she gave him something to eat. Wanting nevertheless to make her husband anxious about the matter so that he would never again leave his tools in the field, she secretly made for the field as quickly as she could and took the reins of the yoke and the ploughshare and the plough-coulter and, taking them away by stealth so that her husband would not see, she returned home as though coming from another direction. Her husband, sated, arising and proceeding to his field of labor, did not find his plough fittings; thereupon, returning home sad, he disclosed the situation to his complaining wife. Rebuking him, she began to say with scolding and sarcasm in her voice: "Useless man, now go to duke Robert and let him turn you into a ploughman himself."
       He ran speedily to Robert and recounted to the duke how he had been defrauded of his plough fittings. Immediately calling for a certain manorial agent, Robert said to him: "Give this farmer five solidi (note 4) with which to replace what he has lost. You make for the villa as quickly as possible and, through trial by fire, search out the author of the theft." But the estate steward tried all the inhabitants of that villa with the fire and, finding none of them guilty of theft, reported back to duke Rollo. Rollo, calling for archbishop Franco, said: "If the God of the Christians, in whose name I am baptized, is privy to events, it is marvelous to me that the one guilty of the theft did not become known to us when tried by fire in his name." Franco: "The fire has not yet touched the culpable one." And Robert to the manorial agent: "Go back and in the name of Jesus Christ test the inhabitants of the neighboring villas with the ordeal by fire." Fulfilling the duke's orders, he announced that he had found no one culpable.
       Robert immediately called for the ploughman and asked him to whom he had said that the plough utensils remained behind in the field. The farmer replied: "To my wife." She came when called and the duke said to her: "What did you do with your husband's ploughshare and plough-coulter?" She denied that she had them. After being soundly cudgled with a broom, she confessed to the theft before everyone. Then Robert to her husband: "Did you know that your wife was the thief?" He to Robert: "I knew." And Robert: "You will deservedly die under two ordinances. The one, that you are the head of the woman and you ought to have chastised her. The other, that you were an accessory to the theft and were unwilling to disclose it." He immediately had them both hung by a noose and finished off by a cruel death. This judgment terrified the inhabitants of the land. And no one afterwards dared to steal or to rob on the highway. And thus was the land at rest, without thieves and bandits, and it was still, stripped of all seditions.
       Consequently all men, safe under Robert's authority, were rejoicing in uninterrupted peace and long-lasting rest and were opulent in all goods, not fearing any hostile army. For, indeed, king Charles once sent two warriors to his daughter Gisla, who had been joined in sexual union (note 5) with duke Robert. However, when Gisla saw her father's warriors, she sequestered them in a certain house so that they would not be seen by her consort Robert and caused them to linger there for a very long time, bountifully giving them all goods. Robert's counts, marvelling that warriors of king Charles would dally at Rouen and not enjoy duke Robert's company, came to him and said: "Why have you not informed us what Charles' men said to you?" Robert said: "Where are my father-in-law's ambassadors?" They replied: "You are uxorious and womanish for, avoiding your presence, they are with your consort." And so they were saying that Robert had not known her according to conjugal law. And immediately, moved by wrath, the duke caused the young recruits, carefully concealed in their house, to be apprehended and led to the public marketplace and slaughtered there by the assembled populace.
       However Robert, duke of the Franks, hearing that the chains of peace that bound the king and duke Robert of the Normans had been released and broken as a result of the violent death of the two warriors, began to oppose Charles and to bring him to nothing and to plunder his lands. And he sent an ambassador to Robert at Rouen, saying: "With your advice and aid, I wish to take the kingship from Charles and chase him from Francia." Then Robert of Rouen replied to the ambassador of the duke of the Franks: "Now your lord is wishing to ride and pass far beyond the law. Simply destroy the king's holdings, I do not want him to take on the rule." Indeed his consort Gisla, the king's daughter, had already died. What happened between Charles and Robert will not be related here, for it can be read elsewhere.
       Robert, patrician of the Normans, devoured by old age and the very great labor of battles, having called together the leaders of the Dacians and the Bretons, gave all the land under his authority to his son William, Poppa's son. And as the leaders placed their hands within the hands of the young man William, Robert bound them to him by a sworn oath of fidelity. Living after that for one year, unable to ride a horse due to his failing age and exhausted body yet keeping the realm pacified, safe and calm, after undergoing the payment of mournful loss and the misfortune of inevitable death, he migrated full of days to Christ, to whom is the honor for all eternity.

An inexperienced sailor, setting sail for the deep open sea,
I am carried along on a small ship filled with cracks and holes
With a battered stern and a prow shattered by the swollen sea,
With a shattered helm and fractured oars,
And with all its sails rent by a violent storm.
Ship-wrecked, astonished, senseless, dull, (note 6) anxious, undecided,
Entangled in quicksand, O! (note 7) I do not know what is to be done now.
Ah, no way out lies open to me, ever wretched,
Blocked by the greatest waves and encircled by violent winds,
Ah, there is sky everywhere, there is open sea everywhere around me!
I have barely managed to swim this far, traversing the middle of the sea.
I would have preferred not to have entered the high seas, than to have perished here.
The sea murmurs through the cracks beneath the inadequate stern
While waves threaten in the foaming storm of the open sea.
Hostile seas lap the keep, peacefully now
But they are about to injure it in a baleful embrace with horrifying gusts of wind.
I am held in bitter ravishment by the irate forces of the sea, And the tide batters the curved coasts.
I cling now to the shivering tides, a rash eyewitness,
But let you, whom truth-telling men call mobile when still, and stable when moved,
Because you are both moved and stable,
Pacify the swollen seas of my wave-driven mind,
Dissolve the baleful quicksands of my wandering heart
And support the keel of my stormy talent
So that, once the oars and helm and sails
Of my puny intellect, understanding and talent have been remade
And the boiling open sea of this work safely crossed,
I, the seaman, might be able to disembark at a tranquil port,
One flowing with the blood and ornamented with the glory of a martyr,
Lavish and glittering with the crown of all goods.


1. Preferring the reading "regni coelorum clavigeri" as part of a single sentence "Gimegias - suffragatum" of Rouen 1173.

2. The text is obscure, and reads literally " at the disposition of the augmented number seven." Dudo can hardly be referring to anything other than the twice-monthly high tides, at the new and full moon, that inundate the coastal island on which the church of St. Michael is perched.

3. Today, Darn‚tal.

4. A solidus was a gold coin in the Roman and the Carolingian systems of currency.

5. Connubium.

6. Preferring the "hebes" of CC 276.

7. Preferring the "proh" of CC 276.

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