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THE MEMORY OF 1066 IN WRITTEN AND ORAL TRADITIONS

by

Elisabeth van Houts

Anglo-Norman Studies XIX
Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1996

The Boydell Press, pp167-179 ©

The anonymous author of the Battle Abbey Chronicle, writing in the 1170's (1), records that on his deathbed the Conqueror bequeathed the amulets he used to wear to Battle Abbey (2). He does not explicitly say that these were the amulets which William had had with him at Hastings and which, according to William of Poitiers (3), the duke had worn around his neck, but I assume that this was the case. Since he founded Battle in atonement for the bloodshed and out of gratitude for God's victory it seems reasonable to assume that that is where the relics he had worn on that very day ended up (4). No precise description of the objects has survived, but we know that they were of metal, that they were precious, and that they joined others hanging round a larger relic shrine. Within a decade of the bequest, however, the monks of Battle parted with this souvenir and the chain of events which then unfolded illuminates the way in which medieval traditions, oral and written, emerged.

As part of a fund raising expedition aimed at rich post-Conquest England the monks of Saint-Germer at Fly, a small Benedictine house just a few miles across the border of the French Vexin, pursued King William Rufus through England and Wales in their quest for money to buy a new chasuble for their church. After several attempts to shake them off, Rufus became fed up and directed them to Battle Abbey with an order for Abbot Henry (1096-1102) to pay them. Henry protested poverty to the king but in vain, whereupon he felt obliged to convert the Conqueror's amulets into cash. With the money thus acquired the monks of Fly purchased purple cloth out of which the chasuble was made. About one year later lightning destroyed it, but not the one lying on top nor the one underneath it. The miraculous loss of the garment was seen, both at Fly and at Battle, as an act of punishment by God. A written account of the misfortune was published apparently at Fly, and about two decades later during the abbacy of Abbot Warner (1125-38) but before 1133 (5), Abbot Odo of Fly and his monk Richard, who was the man who had originally approached William Rufus, came to Battle to offer a public apology (6). It was witnessed by the Battle Abbey chronicler, as a young monk, who wrote in his account that he relied upon what he heard on that occasion rather than on the earlier Fly text.7 Sceptics may argue that the amulets had disappeared for other reasons and the chronicler's story was invented to explain the loss, but it was confirmed at the time by the French historian Guibert of Nogent, a former monk of Fly, in his autobiography. (5)

We do not know who orchestrated the public apology and it is possible that it was motivated on the French side by political considerations. It took place after the defeat of King lows VI of France at the battle of Bremule in 1119 and it may represent an attempt to achieve reconciliation, by bringing monks from a French house to a prestigious royal monastery in England. It is, however, on the attitude of the Battle community that I wish to focus here. I link the apology with the death in 1124, at the age of eighty-four, of perhaps the last survivor within the community of the generation of monks who had experienced the Conquest themselves, Abbot Ralph of Caen.' I link it with the efforts to collect and record 1066 memorabilia which followed Abbot Ralph's death - efforts which resulted in the copying of the Ship List of William the Conqueror, the earliest surviving copy of the Brevis Retano and the first version of a foundation history of Battle Abbey. (10) The monks of that time, it seems to me, were acutely aware that fifty or sixty years after the Conquest they were losing touch with the past. In that climate the loss of a relic dating from the Conquest seemed a much more serious matter than it had seemed to Abbot Henry in the late 1090s. There is a pattern here, or so I maintain, which can be traced elsewhere. First comes the epic event, a moment of triumph, or disaster, according to one's point of view. About two generations later comes the realisation that aspects of the event which were once common knowledge are common knowledge no longer; hence the urge to collect information and pass it on, usually by oral communication to younger people, but sometimes in writing. About two generations later still come the first attempts at detached historical analysis, such as the account which the Battle chronicler set down in the 1170s.

Likewise at Waltham Abbey, about a century elapsed before crucial information about the true burial place of its one time patron, King Harold, was written down, though that information had been collected orally about fifty years previously. In this case the writer was an elderly canon, who composed his history of the abbey in about 1177 in order to ensure that the memories of his community would not be forgotten if Henry II carried out his threat to close it down. Almost incidentally, he included a number of stories going back to the Norman Conquest, some of which had been told to him in the 1 120s by the sacristan Turketil, then about eighty years old. Turketil had witnessed King Harold's visit to Waltham on his way back from his victory at Stamford Bridge after he had been told of the Norman invasion, (11) and he was probably the source of the story, undoubtedly true, that King Harold's remains had been buried in a proper tomb in Waltham by two canons who had brought them back from the battlefield. (12) The anonymous author who recorded these stories c.1177 was probably unaware of the Norman accounts which claimed that Harold had been buried on a hilltop in Sussex, but he evidently knew of other rumours in circulation to the effect: 'that Harold dwelt in a cave at Canterbury and that later, when he died, was buried at Chester'. (13) It was to kill off such unfounded speculation that the Waltham canon put the record straight in writing.

At Westminster, meanwhile, in the late 1130s, Osbert of Clare took up the cause of King Edward's sanctity as yet another means of preserving in a positive and very personal way the memory of 1066. On evidence which was distinctly meagre, as Frank Barlow has pointed out, he waged a tireless campaign for almost thirty years. Like the chroniclers of Battle and Waltham, Osbert claims to be using oral information from people who witnessed, shortly after Edward's death in 1066, miraculous events attributed to his holiness. Edward's canonisation was granted in 1161 and was followed two years later by his solemn translation to a new tomb in Westminster Abbey. King Edward's death, an event which had led to the Norman challenge to the English throne and hence, indirectly, to the bloodbath of 1066, was thereby transformed: having been a fateful tragedy for the English in 1066 it became for Osbert and the Westminster community in the 1160s a triumph of saintly commemoration. (14)

In Normandy, the main fourth generation contribution to the analysis of 1066 took place in the form of Wace's Roman de Rou. (15) Wace was a canon of Bayeux Cathedral, and had been educated at Caen. In the 1150s and 1160s he began to translate and adapt the already considerable body of Latin historiography into Anglo-Norman verse. He collected oral stories for the pre- and post-Conquest history of Normandy and built these around the centrepiece of his work, the longest narrative account of the Conquest. I have argued elsewhere that although several stories are clearly anachronistic and of little historical value, his list of the Conqueror's companions is based on what we now would call an oral history project. Most of the people he lists had connections with Bayeux Cathedral or the abbeys at Caen. I believe Wace to have combed through the archives of those institutions and supplemented. This material with stories collected orally from his contemporaries, both men and women, about their grandfathers and great grandfathers. The most striking of them is the story of William Patric, who shortly before the Conquest witnessed Duke William in the company of Earl Harold riding through his village of La Lande Patry on his way to Brittany. (16) The duke's expedition is well recorded in contemporary chronicles but without the charming eye witness account passed on by William Patric's grandson and name-sake to Wace. (17) Abbot Ralph and Sacristan Turketil, on whom the chroniclers of Battle and Waltham relied, were exceptionally old in the 1120s, and had been grown men at the time of the Conquest. There must, however, have been others still alive at the same period who had been teenagers in 1066. Among those who undoubtedly had stories to tell would have been, on the Norman side, Robert of Beaumont and William of Evreux, who died in their late sixties in 1118, and, on the English side, Edgar the Aetheling, who died in about 1125.18 But from, say, 1130 onwards it was up to the children of the 1066 generation to pass on the stories. Robert of Beaumont's twin sons Waleran and Robert, for example, who died respectively in 1165/66 and 1168, may well have informed Wace about their father's deeds.19 William the Conqueror himself died in 1087, but several of his children survived and may, as pensioners, have told their stories to third-generation historians. (20) Such details concerning age and longevity should be borne continuously in mind when we discuss the transfer of stories from one generation to the next. We need to tread carefully, however, because although the reconstruction of a chain of informants may help to assess how memories are formed, it cannot guarantee that particular memories are accurate.

So far I have concentrated on stories of 1066 which were passed on two generations later by oral means and not written down until the fourth generation. Some stories, however, were written down in the second generation. The first accounts of the Conquest to be written down in England, all of them brief and all of them written by monks, took the form of additions to the Ang1o-S~on Chronicle: the contributions made by Eadmer of Canterbury, John of Worcester, Simeon of Durham and William of Malmesbury are the most significant In recent years Richard Southern, James Campbell and Antonia Gransden have argued that one effect of the Conquest was to turn English monks back to their Anglo-Saxon past in an attempt to salvage what they could of it. (21) They sought to link that past with the present by interpreting the defeat of the English by the Normans as God's punishment for English sins. In effect, they presented a theological rationalisation of the collective national shame, a common enough literary reaction to defeat in battle: historians on the losers' side reacted in much the same way after the battle of Fontenoy in 841. (22) The English monks who first attempted to chronicle the events of 1066 pay some attention to King Harold and his brothers, who were all three killed at Hastings, and also to members from the English resistance such as Eadric the Wild, Hereward and Earl Waltheof, but on the whole they are surprisingly silent about individual disasters. In an age of liturgical commemoration, when monasteries were normally scrupulous in recording deaths in memorial books, obituaries or other documents, why did no English monk write down the names of the victims of 1066? (23) All we have is a handful of names preserved by accident in Domesday Book, in charters, or in later cartulary chronicles.24 Perhaps, this is due to the fact that monks were writing history. Janet Coleman, in her study on ancient and medieval memories, has argued that the rule of St Benedict aimed at brainwashing monks into forgetting their families and personal histories and that they were thus conditioned to disregard individuals (24) However, complete disassociation from one's own family is impossible for most of us. In my view, English monks in the two generations which followed the Conquest experienced a very deep sense of loss and shame, which had a national dimension, an institutional dimension and a personal dimension as well; it comes through in their brief accounts, which unsurprisingly are all pervaded by gloom. However, by introducing the theme of national sin and divine punishment, and by depersonalising their subject matter, they contrived to anaesthetise to some extent the trauma from which they were suffering.

A few fragmentary remarks about 1066 are to be found in sources which predate the monastic versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which I have been discussing, and those which reflect the English point of view, are bleaker still. The earliest such source is the Life of King Edward, written at the request of his wife Queen Edith in the years 106~7. The queen lost three of her brothers in the battle of Hastings and her mother Gytha and other relatives were obliged to flee to Flanders to escape the wrath of the Normans, (26) yet the battle is only hinted at in the Life. The catastrophe was too appalling and too recent, I suggest, for an author to face it. The various entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, all condemning the invasion, are equally brief. Version 'D' may have been written as contemporary comment on events immediately after the Conquest, but due to interpolations it is difficult to distinguish what was written when in the only copy available, written after 1100. Version 'E' copied at Peterborough is based on Canterbury material up to 1120 and, here too, it is impossible to tell what the annalist wrote in 1066. In both versions, therefore, revisions date from a time when England was firmly under Norman control. (27) Amongst this meagre harvest, the E-version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is unique in expressing the anguish and frustration of the English; it seems to have been focussed on the Aetheling, who pops up here, there and everywhere without being able to rally effective groups of resistance fighters around him. (28) The most evocative expression of grief comes in a poem written by the skald Thorkill Skallason for his master Earl Waltheof, after he had been executed fdr treason in 1076. It is written in Old Norse but may have been based on an Old English version used much later by William of Malmesbury. (29) The most intriguing aspect of this poem is its theme of Waltheof's betrayal by William the Conqueror, which neatly reverses the official Norman charge of treason against the earl: 'William crossed the cold channel / and reddened the bright swords, / and now he has betrayed /i noble Earl Waltheof. It is true that killing in England / will be a long time ending.' Thorkill may here be revenging Waltheof's death by hinting at the fact that it was Waltheof's wife Judith, William's niece, who betrayed her husband. (30)

The shortage of information about the Conquest in English sources which date from the decades immediately following it, a shortage which I have attributed to the traumatic effects of shock, can to some extent be made good by looking, as I have done elsewhere, at Continental sources. Most of them express horror and moral indignation at the bloodbath and loss of life. English authors would surely have expressed the same sentiments had they been less stunned?1

There is, however, one exception to the rule of the tabula rasa of post-Conquest personal commemoration in England, and that is the Gesta Henewardi, a story which has been unfairly neglected by modern historians. (32) The Latin text, as we have it now as part of the Peterborough cartulary, was written between 1109 and 1131 by a clerk at Ely, probably called Richard. He used a now lost Old English biography by Hereward '5 chaplain Leofric which he claims to have combined with the reminiscences of several of Hereward's companions, two of whom he names as Siward of Bury St Edmunds and Leofric the Black. (33) Bearing in mind that 1066 veterans survived well into the twelfth century, as I stressed, I have absolutely no doubt that Richard of Ely consulted' these elderly eyewitnesses. Hereward's adventures cover two distinct phases. During the first, which lasted from c.1062 to 1067, he fought as an exiled mercenary for a variety of masters in Cornwall, Ireland and Flanders. The stories of his adventures in this period, and particularly the Flemish ones, generally interpreted as fiction, may have more historical content than has been supposed. (34) During the second phase, Hereward led the uprising in the Fenland and the siege of Ely in 1071, and his Gesta contains the fullest account we have of these events: the kernel of it is substantially corroborated by details from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, John of Worcester and documentary texts. (35) Hereward's biography is based on a series of eyewitness reports which Richard of Ely linked together as best as he could. The linking is clumsy, but I take that to be a sign of authenticity, for no forger would have produced something So full of 'contradictions'. I see the Gesta Herewardi very much as an attempt to cope with the trauma of defeat, not by theological rationalisation and depersonalisation, but by romanticising heroic behaviour and honourable surrender, through the medium of epic narrative. Its personal nature may be partly due to the original version having been written in the vernacular, the language in which most of the oral stories must have been told, and by a secular priest, Richard, the author of the Latin text, must have been bi-lingual if he was able to translate the original Old English into Latin and supplement it with vernacular reports. (36) He may himself have been a member of the secular clergy attached to Ely rather than a monk and have felt freer on that account to tell the story of an Anglo-Saxon defeat in personal terms.

If he were a secular clerk, Richard may be compared profitably with two other secular clerks who were responsible for later off-shoots of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Archdeacon Henry of Huntingdon extended the chronicle into the 1150's, rewriting and revising his text continuously. (37) His struggle to reconcile the demands of a military society full of worldly vanity with God's plan pervades his brief account of the Norman Conquest. Yet, I am convinced that his secular background enabled him to be much more forthcoming about the actual organisation of the Conquest. His views on the vital role of William fitz-Osbern as the brain behind the logistics of the invasion and battle predate the same opinion of Canon Wace of Bayeux. The archdeacon is, however, the first historian to focus his thoughts on the military aspects and achievements of the Conquest. He too thought that moral lessons needed to be learnt, but not in the form of one nation repenting its sinful past, but, as John Gillingham recently argued, by soldiers and other groups of the population each contemplating their own past. Henry of Huntingdon's contemporary was Gaimar, who in 1137~ translated the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, not like the others into Latin, but into Old French. (38) Though he does not contribute much new material to the topic of the Norman Conquest, he includes the longest account of Hereward outside the Gesta Herewardi, albeit in a slightly different version. (39) Both Ian Short and Ann Williams have pointed to the irony of the fact that a French clerk appropriated the language of the conquerors in order to present them with a history grafted upon the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. This, they feel, is a sign that by the third generation some grandchildren of the Conquest were prepared to learn the history of their new country from an English perspective. Henry's and Gaimar's place in society as secular clerks meant a much more intimate contact with the people in England and the effects of the Conquest on the common population than, I believe, the monk historians had. It also meant closer contact with women and their view of the past. Gaimar wrote in response to a request from a lay woman, Constance, wife of Ralph fitz Gilbert, who may have had access to members of Hereward's family. Henry of Huntingdon was almost certainly married, and one just wonders to what extent his wife's views influenced his account of the Conquest. The down to earth tone, attention to the practical side of life and the willingness to move away from the abstract theological moralisations are surely due to a non-monastic environment.

Thus far I have concentrated my analysis on England and the historians writing in that country and I have shown how initial shocked silence was followed by two parallel perceptions df the past: oral stories which were more personal and emotional, but circulating at the same time as abstract writings theorising about national guilt. But what was the historiographical development like in Normandy? How did historians writing in the duchy perceive the past during the first four generations? The literature generated by contemporaries, that is the first generation of the Norman Conquest, is not surprisingly dominated by the Norman view. William of Jumieges added a brief account of the Norman Conquest to his history of the dukes of Normandy but firmly declined the possibility of writing about England after 1070; instead he promised a future sequel about William the Conqueror's son Robert Curthose. (40) William of Poitiers wrote a biography of the victorious duke which contains the Norman story of the Conquest, concentrating on the invasion, battle and subsequent campaigns in England. (41) He highlights the careers of the Conqueror's eleven main advisers, but is silent on the 3000 to 5000 participants in the Conquest. His account of the raids in Northern England shows a particular degree of detail not easily matched elsewhere. Although his story has survived incomplete we can reconstruct its last chapters through the Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, who copied the end but supplemented it with his own comments. (42) Some aspects of this mixture, normally attributed to Orderic, may in fact have come from William of Poitiers. One of the central characters of the immediate post-Conquest period was Earl Morcar. He had been captured in 1071 during the siege of Ely and brought to Normandy where he was entrusted to the care of Roger of Beaumont. (43) The following fifteen years were spent in Normandy, where in 1086 he witnessed one of Roger's charters for Saint-Wandrille. (44) In 1087 he was set free as part of a general amnesty issued by William Rufus. (45) William of Poitiers himself knew the Beaumont family intimately and his sister was the abbess of the Beaumont foundation of Saint-Leger at Preaux, (46) so it is not at all improbable that he had access to Earl Morcar's memories, in particular for information about his family and the military campaigns in which Morcar and his brother had been involved. An exchange of some sort between the English Morcar and the Norman William may have generated a certain understanding of the English victims and led to William's surprisingly well informed account with its mild and empathetic flavour. (47) Thus we cannot exclude an oral exchange between Normans and Englishmen for the specific purpose of historical writing in the immediate post-Conquest period. (47) Even Bishop Guy of Amiens in his celebratory poem on the Conquest, which is our most detailed but not necessarily most trustworthy account of the battle, may have consulted some English informants for his intriguing story about the English negotiators before their surrender.(49) Like William of Poitiers, his occasional empathy for the English position could emerge alongside vituperations against the English leader Harold. The passionately negative terms in which he denounces him have recently been characterised by Giovanni Orlandi as typical of an immediate victorious response in writing to a battle. (50) The other contemporary source for the Norman Conquest is the Bayeux Tapestry, which alone gives a glimpse of a more positive portrait of Harold, before he acceded to the throne, carrying one of his men on his shoulders during the Breton campaign. But this may simply be an artistic trick to emphasise his later arrogance and fall in terms of sharp contrast. The overwhelming reaction of the first generation Nor-mans was one of legitimisation and justification, which were in fact abstract moral assertions to bury any sense of guilt or shame.

This tendency to moralisation did not stop with the death of the survivors of 1066. If anything the theorising and moralising became much stronger. The most important representative of the next generation was Orderic Vitalis, a monk of mixed Anglo-Norman background who worked in Normandy. He interpolated William of Jumieges' Gesia Normannorum Ducum with details of King Harold's brothers Tostig and Gyrth, the battle and in general a revision of William's text aimed at toning down some of the more explicit pro-Norman sentiments. (51) Orderic not only fitted the account of 1066 more firmly into a Norman context but he also expressed empathy with the English losses. At the same time he began his Historia Ecclestastica, in which he transformed a local history of his monastery into a large scale chronicle of western Europe. For his account of the Norman Conquest he used William of Poitiers' biography and some passages from his own interpolated version of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum. (52) He also wove the famous condemnation of William the Conqueror's harrowing expeditions in the North into this account. (53) Even at an early stage of Orderic's career, in 1114-15, he bears witness from England on the grounds that they had been gained at the expense of too much bloodshed. He puts into the mouth of Guitmund of la Croix-Saint-Laufroi words to this effect. (54) It has long been thought that Orderic put forward these sobering thoughts because of his English origin. But some pure blooded Normans certainly shared his ideas. Canon John of Coutances, the author of the biography of Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances written at about the same time, defended his father Peter, who had been Geoffrey's chamberlain, against implicit accusations of greed for English spoils. Having set out Peter's acquisitions for the new cathedral of Coutances he assures his readers: 'that the venerable bishop had not, as some people think, acquired all this from the copious abundance of England's bounty, which he denounces him have recently been characterised by Giovanni Orlandi as typical of an immediate victorious response in writing to a battle. (50) The other contemporary source for the Norman Conquest is the Bayeux Tapestry, which alone gives a glimpse of a more positive portrait of Harold, before he acceded to the throne, carrying one of his men on his shoulders during the Breton campaign. But this may simply be an artistic trick to emphasise his later arrogance and fall in terms of sharp contrast. The overwhelming reaction of the first generation Nor-mans was one of legitimisation and justification, which were in fact abstract moral assertions to bury any sense of guilt or shame.

This tendency to moralisation did not stop with the death of the survivors of 1066. If anything the theorising and moralising became much stronger. The most important representative of the next generation was Orderic Vitalis, a monk of mixed Anglo-Norman background who worked in Normandy. He interpolated William of Jumieges Gesia Normannorum Ducum with details of King Harold's brothers Tostig and Gyrth, the battle and in general a revision of William's text aimed at toning down some of the more explicit pro-Norman sentiments. (51) Orderic not only fitted the account of 1066 more firmly into a Norman context but he also expressed empathy with the English losses. At the same time he began his Historia Ecclestastica, in which he transformed a local history of his monastery into a large scale chronicle of western Europe. For his account of the Norman Conquest he used William of Poitiers' biography and some passages from his own interpolated version of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum. (52) He also wove the famous condemnation of William the Conqueror's harrowing expeditions in the North into this account. (53) Even at an early stage of Orderic's career, in 1114-15, he bears witness from England on the grounds that they had been gained at the expense of too much bloodshed. He puts into the mouth of Guitmund of la Croix-Saint-Laufroi words to this effect. (54) It has long been thought that Orderic put forward these sobering thoughts because of his English origin. But some pure blooded Normans certainly shared his ideas. Canon John of Coutances, the author of the biography of Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances written at about the same time, defended his father Peter, who had been Geoffrey's chamberlain, against implicit accusations of greed for English spoils. Having set out Peter's acquisitions for the new cathedral of Coutances he assures his readers: 'that the venerable bishop had not, as some people think, acquired all this from the copious abundance of England's bounty, but that most of the above mentioned lands had been acquired before the English war. (55) As a good historian he then proceeds to give evidence by pointing out that the cathedral was dedicated in 1056 and that the English war did not take place until nine years later. However, John's indignation that some thought the bishop enriched himself at the expense of the English sounds a little hollow if we read the next paragraph where he lists the 'precious ornaments, embroideries and gold-work with smaragds and gems' which the bishop had brought over from England after the Conquest. (56) Like the young Orderic and John of Coutances, the anonymous Norman author of the Brevis Relaito, written probably at Battle between c.l114 and 1120, makes moral comments with regard to that English war. He contrasts the haughty Harold, who did not recognise that God is on the side of the humble, with William, a paragon of humility, by developing the bible quotation 'ante ruinam exultatur cor'. (57) The author also develops William of Poitiers' story of the Conqueror inadvertently putting on his hauberk back to front and laughing the matter off, saying it was not a bad omen. Here he has Duke William say: 'if I believed in magic I would not today engage in battle. But I have never put faith in magicians nor loved witches. In all I have ever undertaken I have always commended myself to my Creator.' (58) This emphasis on God's predisposition as opposed to the workings of magic may well be an attempt of the Battle monks -mourning at that very moment the loss of William's amulets - to temper the thought that the relics did swing the outcome of a battle in favour of the Normans. (59) These three Norman historians all wrote within a decade after the Battle of Tinchebrai, fought on Norman soil in 1106 almost forty years to the day after the battle of Hastings. (60) The theme of God and not military prowess or magic deciding the outcome of battles had a curiously topical value.

An entirely different approach to the story of the Conquest can be found in the so-called 'Hyde chronicle', written probably in Normandy towards the end of the reign of Henry I by someone, perhaps a chaplain, attached to the Warenne family. (61)

Although there is no doubt about the author's Norman point of view, he is remarkably well informed about the family of King Harold, much more than was Orderic, with the result that the account of 1066 is set in a much more 'English' context than any of the other Norman chronicles. The author clearly knew a great number of sources, including English ones, considering his frequent references to oral and written testimonies which he, unfortunately, does not identify. His sources require further investigation but suggest Flemish or a northern French link with the community of Saint-Omer, which offered shelter to King Harold's mother Gytha, and which was the home of Gundreda of Warenne. The details on the two families of Harold and Warenne introduce a personal element in an account that is far less moral ising than that of Orderic or the author of the Brevis Relatio. The chronicler's exceptional military information on the battles of Eu and Bremule suggests that he might have been William of Warenne's chaplain. His Latin style is poor and suggests that it came from the pen of someone who was better versed in vernacular French. As such his work prepares us for the writings of Wace, another secular clerk, to whom I briefly referred above.

Wace single-handedly transformed the writing on the Norman Conquest from a series of moralisations to a triumphant account of the achievements of the Norman soldiers. He used the Latin sources with great ingenuity but left out all moralising justifications and legitimisations. Like Henry of Huntingdon, he paid attention to the logistical organisation of the Conquest, and in the process he unwittingly introduced certain anachronisms, and like the author of the Gesta Herewardi, he commemorated the names of those who took part in the Conquest. Not only did he list William the Conqueror and his twelve leaders, whom William of Poitiers had compared with Caesar and his senate; he added more than 130 names of local Norman lords, whose achievements had not yet been recorded in writing. Their deeds had survived in oral tradition, which was the single most important source for Wace's reconstruction of the actual Conquest. (62) Wace was not interested in the Norman nation or the collective Norman memory; he was a local historian writing the history of the Cotentin soldiers based on interviews and historical archival research. In fact he put into practice what two English chroniclers described as the task of an historian. The Waltham chronicler and Walter Map stipulated that memories handed down from father to son and from son to grandson constitute valid alternatives in cases where primary eyewitness accounts had been lost. (63) Any information handed down along a recognisable chain of informants within a period of one hundred years, so Walter Map says, is admissible evidence for 'our own time. (64) Thus, according to this rule, the historians of the fourth generation were the last to be able to record the memories of 1066 and employ them as substitute eyewitness accounts. At the same time, Henry II's lawyers, for the same reasons, stopped people pursuing land claims going back beyond the Conquest. Officially no one could go back beyond the reign of Henry I. In fact, as Paul Brand has shown, some people ignored this order and put in claims well into the thirteenth century. (65)

My study of the formation of oral and written memories of 1066 clearly shows the circulation of stories about the Conquest through several generations into the reign of Henry II. The stories were local, centred on specific aspects of the Conquest and were quite personal. This oral tradition for a time ran parallel to a written tradition, which attempted to cope with the past by seeing the defeat of 1066 in terms of God's punishment for the sins of the English nation. By the reign of Henry II the theme of 'national guilt' had evaporated and made place for more discussion of military matters. Tales of military defeat and resistance survived. But what strikes the modern historian most is the almost total amnesia in the long term of individual loss and grief. The psychological reason of trauma is as likely an explanation for the complete lack of a memorial to the English dead of 1066 (66) as other explanations, which blame the fear of abbots of association with the memory of rebels 6r the lack of patronage for literary activity in general. In Normandy the situation was different. The written memories concentrated first on the victorious leader, his legitimisation of the use of force and the justification of military action. The second and third generation continued and expanded the moral justification of their actions. Meanwhile oral tradition kept alive the memories of fighters lower down the social scale. These were rescued by Wace and incorporated in his vernacular Roman de Rou, which became a memorial for those who had fought at Hastings. What my study also shows is that it is not enough to study the history of the Norman Conquest purely in terms of questions about the continuity of Anglo-Saxon customs. The modem emphasis on the long-term survival of Old English modes of justice and administration after 1066 could easily create the impression that the Conquest was just a mere hiccup in the course of English history. (67) The very fact that the English were so traumatised that they could not bring themselves to write down their memories proves how deeply shocked they remained for a very long time.

 


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1 The Chronicle of Battle Abbey, ed. E. Seale, Oxford 1981, consists of two separate chronicles whose interdependence has been explained in different ways. Searle agues that both were written after 1155, that the first one (London BL MS Cotton Domitian A ii, fos 8-21v, ed. Seale, 32-66) was the earlier text, while the second and longer chronicle (fos 22r-130, ed. Searle, 66-334) was written in the late l170's. Other scholars (A. Gransden, Historical Writing in England c550 to c1307, London 1974, 272, 277-9, and M. Brett in his review of E. Searle's addition in Medium Aevum 1, 1981, 319-22), however, prefer a reversed order of origin. To establish their date two other points have to he taken into account. Martin Brett (p. 322) and I (cf. van Houts, ANS x, 1987, 165) have pointed out the existence of a now lost text entitled 'De constructione ecclesiac Belli', which may well lie behind either or both chronicles. Secondly, the palaeography of the manuscript suggests that the text of the first chronicle may have been copied earlier in the twelfth century (C. Kaufnann in English Romanesque Art 1066-1200, London, 1984, p.91, no.13, and illustration of the initial on p.17) than Searle (pp. 26-7) suggests when she argues in favour of a date in the late twelfth century and a thirteenth century hand; see also below notes 57-9.

2 Battle Chronicle 90, 102-6, 128.

3 Gesta Guillelmi, 180-2: 'Appendix etiam humili collo suo reliquias, quarum favorem Heraldus abalienaverat sibi, violate fide quam super eas jurando sanxerat.'

4 Battle, 90, states that most of the relics hanging on the Battle shrine had come from King William's predecessors, the Anglo-Saxon kings.

5 In that year Abbot Odo of Saint-Germer at Fly became abbot of Beauvais (Brett, 321).

6 There may have been a political reason for the public apology, which followed not very long after the defeat of King Louis VI of France at the hands of Henry I at Brimule in 1119. Saint Germer at Fly lies only a few kilometres into the French Vexin and its monks may have wished to renew ties with a potentially rich English abbey, and through it, perhaps, with King Henry I.

7 Battle Chronicle 106.

8 Guibert de Nogent, Autobiographie, ed. E-.R. Labande, Paris 1981, 188-91, who says that the aura of money involved was 15 marks but that the value of the garment had been only half of that. Brett, 321, suggests that the earlier Fly text may have been Guibert of Nogent's autobiography. I think it more likely that Guibert himself used that text.

9 Battle Chronicle, 130-2, and R.W. Southern, Saint Anslem: a Portrait in a Landscape, Cambridge 1990, 372-6.

10 E.M.C. van Houts, 'The Ship list of William the Conqueror', ANS x, 1987, 159-83. With regard to the Brevis ReIatio it is significant to point out that its author elaborates William of Poitiers' story of William the Conqueror denying his belief in magic: see below, nn. 57-8.

11 Waltham Chronicle ed. L Watkiss and M. Chibnall, Oxford 1994.

12 Waltham Chronicle, 45-6 and 56-7. The two versions regarding Harold's burial need not be

mutually exclusive It is quite possible that after the battle Harold was buried temporarily by William Malet .Gesta Guillelmi, 204, and Carmen; lines 583-96, pp36-9) before his remains were collected by the Waltham canons for a proper burial. William of Malmesbury records gossip suggesting that both stories already circulated in his lime (De gestis regum, 306-7).

13 Waltham Chronicle, 56-7.

14 Vita Eadwardi, 150-63.

15 Wace and E.M.C. van Houts, 'Wace as Historian', Family Trees and the Root: of Politics: the Prospography of Britain and France from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century, ed. KS.B. Keats-Rohan, Woodbridge 1997, 103-32.

16 Wace ii, 205-6 (lines 8585-8602); van Houts, 'Wace as Historian', 103-32

17 The expedition is mentioned by William of Poitiers (Gesta Guillelmi, 106-115) and The Bayeux Tapestry, ed. D. Wilson, London 1985, plates 18-24.

18 Gesta Guillelmi, 192,260, D. Crouch, The Beaumont Twins: the Roots and Branches of Power in the Twelfth Century, Cambridge 1986, 3; Jumieges ii, 98; Orderic vi, 146-8, 180; N. Hooper, 'Edgar the Aetheling: Anglo-Saxon Prince, Rebel and Crusader', Anglo-Saxon England xiv, 1985, 197-214.

19 The Beaumont Twins, 78-9, 95-6.

20 F. Barlow, William Rufus, London 1983, 441-5.

21 R.W. Southern, 'Aspects of the European Tradition of Historical Writing', 4. The Sense of the Past', TRHS, 5th ser. xxiii, 1973, 243-63; J. Campbell, 'Some Twelfth-Century Views of the

Anglo-Saxon Past', Essays in Anglo-Saxon History, London 1986, 209-28; A. Granslen, Historical Writing In England c550 to 1307, London 1974, 1054, 136, 1678.

22 J. Nelson, Charles the Bold, London 1992, 117-20; I am grateful to Stuart Airlie for pointing out this parallel.

23 For a recent study on commemoration, see PJ. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium, Princeton 1994. More than a decade ago Cecily Clark (ANS vii, 1984, 5O-65 at 55) already pointed out that in England only Thorney Abbey, Durham Cathedral and Hyde Abbey at Winchester possessed memorial books, a relatively small number compared with other European countries.

24 During the discussion after my paper Robin Fleming suggested, plausibly, that after 1066 some monasteries, instead of commemorating fallen Anglo-Saxon friends, 'forgot' about them for purely political reasons: if they acknowledged the existence of the fighters at Hastings as their tenants, they risked loosing their lands on the charge of treason. In fact, as George Garnett in his 'Coronation and Propaganda: Some Implications of the Norman Claim to the Throne of England in 1066', TRHS, 5th ser. xxxvi, 1986, 90-116 at 104-5, has pointed out, the Normans were ambivalent in their accusations of treason and used them as pragmatic means to acquire land. On the one hand, William as the new king promised security of tenure for the English, while at the same time he confiscated monastic lands of, e.g. Abingdon and Bury St Edmunds on the grounds that their tenants had fought at Hastings. The surviving documentation does not distinguish between those who fought, stayed alive and subjected themselves to the Normans, those who fought but remained rebellious, and those who were killed, as different categories of 1066 veterans.

25 J. Coleman, Ancient and Medieval Memories: Studies in the Reconstruction of the Past, Cambridge 1992, 155-91.

26 Vita Eadwardi, 88; see also 110 for a section that was probably written in 1067 (1'. xxxii). Countess Gytha fled the country after the fall of Exeter in 1067 (ASC 'D').

27 On the different versions of the ASC, See English Historical Documents ii: 1042-1189, 107-9 (introduction) and 110-203 (text of all versions).

28 See entries under the years 1066-69, 1074, 1085 (1080), 1086(1087), 1091, 1093, 1097.1 am grateful to David Bates for discussing Edgar's role with me.

29 Two sections of this poem have survived in Old Norse as part of the saga of Harold Hardrada

(King Harald's Saga: Harold Hardrada of Norway from Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, trans. M. Magnusson and H. Palsson, Harmondsworth 1966, 157-8); cf. De gestis regum ii, 311: 'Siquidem Weldeofus in Eboracensi pugna plures Normannorum solus obtrucavenat, unos per portam egredientes decapitans.' The suggestion of an underlying verse was first launched by F.S. Scott, 'Earl Waltheof of Northumbria', Archaelogia Aeliana, 1952 159-213 at 179.

30 Orderic Vitalis, who used information from the monks of Crowland, is the sole source for Judith's role: ... et per delationem Iudith uxoris suac accusatus est' (Orderic ii, 320).

31 E.M.C. van Houts, 'The Norman Conquest through European Eyes', EHR cx' 1995, 832-53.

32 Ed. T.D. Hardy and CT. Martin in Gaimar, Lestorie des Engles, London 1888, ii, 339-404; it

was translated by M. Swanton, The Last of the Englishmen, New York 1984,45-88.

33 Ed. Hardy, 339-41.

34 See my forthcoming article on 'Hereward in Flanders c.1062-1067', Anglo-Saxon England.

35 For recent evaluations of Hereward's role in the Fenland, see the uncritical study by J. Hayward, 'Hereward the Outlaw', Journal of Medieval History xiv, 1988, 293-304, and the much more stimulating discussions in C. Hart, 'Hereward 'he Wake and his Companions', The Danelaw, London 1992, 625-48, D. Roffe, 'Hereward the Wake and the Barony of Boume: a Reassessment of a Fenland legend', Lincolnshire History and Archaeology xxix, 1994,7-10, and A. Williams, The EngIish and the Norman Conquest , Woodbridge 1995, 49-50.

36 Particularly instructive is the insertion in two places of almost identical lists of Hereward's

companions. The author presumably had two lists which he gave integrally rather than amalgamating them. Some of the individuals have been identified by Hart and Williams. It seems to me that all are Historical persons of whom only the most important as landholders can now be traced and identified.

37 The Archdeacon Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Ecclesiastica, ed. D.E. Greenway, Oxford 1996; N. Partner, Serious Entertainments: the Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England, Chicago and London 1977, 11-48; D. Greenway, 'Henry of Huntingdon and the Manuscripts of his Historia Anglorum', ANS ix, 1987, 103-26 and 'Authority, Convention and Observation in Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Anglorum', ANS xviii, 1995, 105-22; Williams, The English and the Norman Conquest. 177-80

38 Gaimar, Lestoire des Engleis, ed. A. Bell, Oxford 1960; A.D. Legge, Anglo-Norman Literature and its Background, Oxford 1963,27-36, 276-8; Williams, The English and the Norman Conquest,181-2

39 I. Short, 'Patrons and Polyglots: French Literature in Twelfth-Century England', ANS xiv, 1991, 229-50 at 243-4.

40 Juntieges ii, 104-73, 182-5.

41 Gesta Guillelmi.

42 Orderic ii, pp. xvii~xxi and 208-58.

43 Orderic ii, 258

44 F. Lot, Etudes critques sur l'abbaye de Saint-Wandrille, Paris 1913, no.41 and p.2()7.

45 ASC 'E' s.a. 1087; Barlow, William Rufus, 65.

46 Gesta Guillelmi vii.

47 Gesta Guillelmi 256-8. Details on the background of Edwin and Morcar could come either from William or Orderic. In Orderic ii, 258, the author, in the first person, refers back to his earlier remarks on the brothers' parents (p. 216). Since this is the last but one sentence of the section which Orderic specifically attributes to William of Poitiers, I take it that William is the author. If this is the case the discrepancy between his account of Edwin's death (nearly six months after Morcar was taken to Normandy) and that as told by the ASC and 'Florence' of Worcester (that Edwin's death occurred either before Ely or at an early stage of the Ely siege) must be due to another informant than Morcar.

48 In this context we have to be reminded that in 1067 several aristocratic Englishmen were in

Normandy as the Conqueror's hostages, and they presumably exchanged views with their Norman 'hosts' (Gesta Guillelmi, 244: Archbishop Stigand, Edgar the Aetheling, Earls Edwin, Morcar and Waltheof. Orderic (ii, 198) and 'Florence' of Worcester (s.a. 1067) add Aethelnoth of Canterbury).

49 Carmen, lines 653-752, pp. 42-9.

50 G. Orlandi, 'Some Afterthoughts on the Carmen & Hasnagae Proeto', Media Lannuas: a Collection of Essays to Mark the Occasion of the Retirement of LJ. Engets, ed. R. Nip, H. van Dijk and E.M.C. van Houts, Turnhout 1996,117-28.

51 Jumieges ii, 158-72, and i, pp. Lxxii-lxxv, where the suggestion is made that some of the interpolations are based on William of Poitiers' biography.

52 Orderic ii, p. xvii.

53 Orderic ii, 232.

54 Orderic ii, 272-8, esp. 272: 'After carefully examining the matter I cannot see what right I have to govern a body of men whose strange customs and barbarous speech are unknown to me, whose beloved ancestors and friends you have either put to the sword, driven into bitter exile, or unjustly imprisoned or enslaved. Read the Scriptures, and see if there is any law to justify the forcible imposition on a people of God of a shepherd chosen from among their enemies.' It is interesting to note that neither Guitmund, nor for that matter Orderic, minded Guitmund's acceptance in c.1088 of the bishopric of Aversa in Norman occupied Italy!

55 De status hujus ecclestae ab anno 836 ad 1093, ed. Gallia Chisttiana, ix Instr, cols 217-24 at

220: 'Venerabilis quidem et memorandus episcopas non, ut aliqui putant, de copiosa abundantia

Anglice superfluitatis omnia haec operabatur . . . terrasque praescriptas ex maxima parte ante

bellum Anglicum acquisivit.' For the authorship, see L Delisle, 'Notice sur un traite inedit du

douzieme siecle intitule: miracula ecclesiae Constantiniensis', Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Chartes, 2e ser. iv, Paris 1847-48, 339-52 at 368: 'ego Johannes, praedicti Petri camerarii filius'; M. Chibnall, 'La Carriere de Geoffroi de Montbray', Les Eveques normands du Xle siecle, ed. P. Bouet and F. Neveux, Caen 1995, 279-93 at 282.

56 De statu', ed. Galla Christiania, col. 220:'... illic ornaments pretiosa, et brodaturas, et aurifrisas cum smaragdis et gemmis pararabat'.

57 Anonymi autorts Brevis relatio de origine Willielmi Conquestoris, ed. J. Giles, Scriptores rerum Gesta Willielmi Conquestoris, Publications of the Caxton Society iii, London 1845, 1-21 at 6.

58 Anonymi autorts Brevis relatio, 'Si ego in sortem crederem, hodie amplius in bellum non introirem. Sed ego nunquam sortibus crettidi, nec sortilegos amavi. In omni enim negotio quicquid agere debui, creatori meo me semper commendavi.'

59 My new edition of the Brevis Relatio (forthcoming in the Camden Miscellany of the Royal Historical Society, xxxi,' (1998) argues in favour of a Norman author writing at Battle Abbey.

60 None of the Norman historians draws the parallel, but William of Malmesbury did, De gestis

regum ii, 475: 'Idem dies ante quadraginta circiter annos fuerat, cum Willelmus Hastingas primus

appulit; provido forsitan Dei judicio, ut eo die subderetur Angliae Normannia, quo ad cam subjugandam olim venerat Normannorum copia.'

61 Chronica monasterii de Hida juxta Wintoniam ab anno 1035 ad annum 1121, Liber monasterii de Hyde, ed. E. Edwards, RS XLV, 1866, 284-321; C.P. Lewis, 'The Earldom of Surrey and the Date of Domesday Book', Historical Research lxhi, 1990, 329-36; J. Gillingham, 'Henry of

Huntingdon and the Twelfth-Century Revival of the English Nation', Concepts of National Identity in the Middle Ages, ed. S. Forde, L Johnson and A.V. Murray, Leeds 1995, 75-101, esp. Appx 'The Hyde chronicle' on 90-91.

62 For Wace's critical attitude to oral sources, see Peter Damian-Grint, 'Truth, Trust and Evidence in the Anglo-Norman Estoire, ANS xviii, 1995, 63-78 at 71-2.

63 Waltham Chronicle, 18: 'Nam ut primi patres qui afuerunt flilis suis reliquerunt . . ab illis

didicimus.'

64 Walter Map, De nugis curialium. Courtiers' Trifles, ed. M.R. James, C.N.L Brooke and RA.B. Mynors, Oxford 1983,122-4: 'Nostra dico tempora modemitatem hanc horum scilicet centum annorum curriculum, cuius adhuc nunc ultime partes extant, cuius tocius in his notabilia sunt satis est recens et manifesta memoria, cum adhuc aliqui supersint centennes, et infiniti filii qui ex patrum et suorum relacionbus certissime teneant que non viderunt.'

65 P. Brand, 'Time Out of Mind: the Knowledge and the Use of the Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Past in Thirteenth-Century Litigation', ANS xvi, 1994,37-54.

66 E.M.C. van Houts, 'The Trauma of 1066', History Today xlvi, no.10 (October), 1996, 9-15.

67 See N. Vincent's review of Ann Williams's book in the Times Literary Supplement, 10 November 1995, p.31.

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