Chapter 27

[ 27 ]

     But Arnulf, discolored with the malice of execrable deceit, has came upon the river (note 1) at Corbie with all his followers, and sent a go-between to duke William, praying that he come to meet him at Picquigny, where the currents of the Somme would be an obstacle between the two armies, so that the unhappy one would not be impeded from committing the deceit on which he was resolved by the arrival of a Norman army. But then duke William, believing this embassy of corrupt deceit and favoring the prayers of that fraudulent one, compelled the the legions of his army to go there. But Arnulf, glad and merry over the reports made to him, has settled, deceitful and treasonous, on the far bank of the river Somme, the one about to be martyred on the near side.
     For there is also an island there, surrounded on all sides by the blue whirlpool of the foaming Somme, towards which Arnulf is moving in a boat with four treasonous followers, pretending that the most holy duke William is to be united with him. And with peace-making words, he has in deceit sent for duke William to come there with twelve of his warriors. Arnulf, limping and leaning on two of his followers, encounters William as he crosses in the boat with his twelve followers and begins to speak to him, shamming, and to ensnare him with most humble proposals: "I come to you, suppliant, for you to bring together your and my followers and to be a helper for me against those who are faithless to me for, conquered by infirmity, I am unable to dominate and subdue the rebels of this land. You indeed dominate the entire monarchy of Gaul with your advantageous measures, and therefore I desire to have you as duke and marquis over me and my followers. Be my defender and advocate against king Louis and the leader Herbert and Hugh, that mightiest duke, and, for as long as I live, I will be subject to pay tribute to you and my followers will serve you, as servants do a lord. After my death, you will hold authority over my realm. I will willingly forgive Herluin, your count, who has displeased me. And I will at all times be benevolent and peace-making towards him." But duke William, believing that Arnulf is speaking with a benevolent heart and in perfect and irreproachable trustworthiness, not in treachery, has made peace between Herluin and the treasonous Arnulf with all his followers.
     When almost the whole day has been spent in capricious tergiversations and a peace has finally been agreed upon by the leaders on both sides, in good faith by William but with treasonous hearts by Arnulf and the other leaders, William, having kissed Arnulf, retreats with his twelve followers and enters a ship alone with only a rower, his twelve counts having preceded him on another ship. Then the treasonous Eric and Balzo and Robert and Ridulf have begun to speak deceitfully to duke William, saying with sly voices, echoing each other: "Lord, lord, turn the boat back for a little while for we, having forgotten to mentio an even better plan, want you now for a few moments. Our lord is not able to come to you for, as you know, he is kept back by the infirmity of gout, but there is something marvelous that he forgot to tell you." Then, without his followers, William (irreproachably trustworthy!), compelled by the repeated prayers of those treasonous men, swiftly turns his boat and comes, heedless of arms, to the bank of the river to speak with them. But they, inflamed by the frenzy of a monstrous fury and stirred by a diabolical spirit, having now swiftly drawn forth four swords which had been carefully concealed under a covering of pelts, pierce through and kill, in the sight of all, blameless William (alas, what grief!) and after this, having sailed with their lord (that most vile man of all!) across the river on a swift ship and connected up with their army, riding nimbly, the slip away in flight. But the Normans and the Bretons, greatly mournful at the death of their lord William, much desiring to take revenge, running swiftly here and there, no shallows anywhere...
     Thus is the precious marquis and most glorious martyr of Christ, William, dedicated to a happy martyrdom. And having thus reached the kingdom of heaven, which he has coveted for so long, he is crowned, living happily in Christ. Certainly the body of that blessed man lies lifeless, drenched in the moisture of his own blood, but the soul, escorted to heaven by angels, has been invaluably stationed among the troops of the angels. A certain band of warriors of the ensnared and martyred William has immediately run to him and, with great wailing, has carried him by boat across to the opposite bank of the river Somme. However, examining his wounds with prodigiously sighing hearts and greatly weeping eyes and wailing as they unwind his bloody garments, they have discovered a very small silver key hanging from a belt around his loins. (note 2) With his household retinue having been asked why the key was hanging from his girdle, a certain chamberlain, (note 3) privy to his secrets, has replied: "Our lord William vowed that he would leave behind this praiseworthy world and become, after this lamentable conference, a monk at JumiŠges, and this key guards and confines, within a certain chest, a monkish habit (namely a woolen garment and cowl)."
     Truly, they have immediately honorably interred his sacrosanct body, placed swiftly on a bier and bourne (with great wailing) to the city of Rouen, in the church of the blessed Mary, mother of God. In fact, almost the entire sorrowful province has come together, mourning with unutterable sorrow and sending deep sighs up to heaven, indeed also bringing with them his son, Richard by name. Before the body is stored in the tomb, Berengar and Alan and the rest of the Bretons and the leaders of the Normans, seeing him, have said (greatly wailing): "Ah, the grief, we have lost a lord; of one mind, let us make a lord." Immediately enthroning the boy named Richard (of holy memory!) and willingly become his fideles, of one mind they have made him their duke. Thus did William, most sacred duke and most glorious martyr of Christ, complete the course of his combat in the nine hundred and forty third year after the incarnation of the Lord, sixteen days before the kalends of January, (note 4) with king Louis holding the realm of Francia and the living and true God ruling in the fullness of trinity and the majesty of unity.


A potter bearing, alas, vessels of fragile material, I have been bourne,
Snatched from the watery swelling of the growing tides
And from harmful sandbanks, from sucking Charybdis likewise
And from a profuse heap of numerous whirlpools,
From a mixture of wind and turning sand as well,
To a harbor free from any tempest.
What a way, a life, a salvation, a deserved summit, the hope of faith,
Where a crown is given, and the reward of respectable sweat,
Where the worthy are presented with the gifts of heaven
And where the natal conditions of octave fortune are renewed.
But since the miry vases are of mean production,
I suppose I will hardly be able to sell or give them to anyone
But, crushed, they will lie on the seashore.
Elsewhere there is a harbor filled with a different recompense,
Where the worthy purchase their expenses by different proceeds,
Where a fiery profit of the struggle is given,
Where lifeless limbs are vivified by Christ.
I will proceed there, in a vessel filled with different wares;
In this way, those things already related in order will be received,
And (note 5) I, the potter, will not by accident suffer
Some facetious mocking grimace, the defeat of our work and labor.


1. The river Bresle.

2. Strophium lumborum eius.

3. Camerarius.

4. December 17.

5. Preferring the "atque" of CC 276.

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