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Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (2 of 6): England (4 of 12) Stephan Earle Of Bullongne online

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[Sidenote: 1135 An. Reg. 1.] Stephan earle of Bullongne, the sonne of
Stephan erle of Blois, by his wife Adela, daughter to William
Conquerour, came ouer with all speed after the death of his vncle, and
tooke vpon him the gouernement of the realme of England, partlie through
confidence which he had in the puissance and strength of his brother
Theobald earle of Blois, and partlie by the aid of his brother Henrie
bishop of Winchester and abbat of Glastenburie, although that he with
other of the Nobles had sworne afore to be true vnto the empresse and
hir issue as lawfull heires of king Henrie latelie deceased.

[Sidenote: A tempest. _Matth. West._] The same daie that he arriued in
England, there chanced a mightie great tempest of thunder, horrible to
heare, and lightning dreadfull to behold. Now bicause this happened in
the winter time, it séemed against nature, and therefore it was the more
noted as a foreshewing of some trouble and calamitie to come.

This Stephan began his reigne ouer the realme of England the second day
of December, in the yere of our Lord 1135. in the eleuenth yeare of the
emperour Lothair, the sixt of pope Innocentius the second, and about the
xxvii. of Lewes the seuenth, surnamed Crassus king of France, Dauid the
first of that name then reigning in Scotland, & entring into the twelfe
of his regiment. [Sidenote: _Matth. Paris._ _Wil. Mal._ _Simon Dun._] He
was crowned at Westminster vpon S. Stephans day, by William archbishop
of Canturburie, the most part of the Nobles of the realme being present,
and swearing fealtie vnto him, as to their true and lawfull souereigne.

Howbeit, there were diuerse of the wiser sort of all estates, which
regarding their former oth, could haue béene contented that the empresse
should haue gouerned till hir sonne had come to lawfull age;
notwithstanding they held their peace as yet, and consented vnto
Stephan. [Sidenote: Periurie punished.] But this breach of their othes
was worthilie punished afterward, insomuch that as well the bishops as
the other Nobles either died an euill death, or were afflicted with
diuerse kinds of calamities and mischances, and that euen here in this
life, of which some of them as occasion serueth shall be remembred
hereafter. [Sidenote: _Wil. Malm._ The bishop of Salisburies
protestation.] Yet there were of them (and namelie the bishop of
Salisburie) which protested that they were frée from their oth of
allegiance made to the said empresse, bicause that without the consent
of the lords of the land she was maried out of the realme, whereas they
tooke their oth to receiue hir for queene, vpon that condition, that
without their assent she should not marrie with any person out of the

[Sidenote: The bishops think to please God in breaking their oth.]
Moreouer (as some writers thinke) the bishops tooke it, that they should
doo God good seruice in prouiding for the wealth of the realme, and the
aduancement of the church by their periurie. For whereas the late
deceassed king vsed himselfe not altogither for their purpose, they
thought that if they might set vp and creat a king chéeflie by their
especiall meanes and authoritie, he would follow their counsell better,
and reforme such things as they iudged to be amisse. But a great cause
that mooued manie of the lords vnto the violating thus of their oth,
[Sidenote: _Matth. Paris._ Hugh Bigot.] was (as some authors rehearse)
for that Hugh Bigot, sometime steward to king Henrie the first,
immediatlie after the decease of king Henrie, came into England, and as
well before the archbishop of Canturburie, as diuers other lords of the
land, tooke a voluntarie oth (although most men thinke that he was hired
so to doo bicause of great promotion) declaring vpon the same that he
was present a little before king Henries death, when the same king
adopted and chose his nepheue Stephan to be his heire and successour,
bicause his daughter, the empresse had gréeuouslie displeased him. But
vnto this mans oth the archbishop and the other lords were so hastie in
giuing of credit. Now the said Hugh for his periurie, by the iust
iudgment of God, came shortlie after to a miserable end.

[Sidenote: _Simon Dun._] [Sidenote: 1136.] [Sidenote: _Polydor._ _Simon
Dun._ _Matth. Paris._] But to our purpose. King Stephan (by what title
soeuer he obteined the crowne) immediatlie after his coronation, went
first to Reading to the buriall of the bodie of his vncle Henrie, the
same being now brought ouer from Normandie, from whence after the
buriall he repaired to Oxenford, and there calling a councell of the
lords & other estates of his realme; [Sidenote: The faire promises of
king Stephan.] amongst other things he promised before the whole
assemblie (to win the harts of the people) that he would put downe and
quite abolish that tribute which oftentimes was accustomed to be
gathered after the rate of their acres of hides or land, commonlie
called Danegilt, which was two shillings of euerie hide of land. Also,
that he would so prouide, that no bishop sees nor other benefices should
remaine void, but immediatlie after vpon their first vacation, they
should be againe bestowed vpon some conuenient person meet to supplie
the roome. Further he promised not to seize vpon any mans woods as
forfeit, though any priuate man had hunted and killed his déere in the
same woods, as the maner of his predecessour was. ¶ For a kind of
forfeiture was deuised by king Henrie, that those should lose their
right inheritance in their woods, that chanced to kill any of the kings
déere within the same.

[Sidenote: _Polydor._ _Ran. Higd._ Licence to build castels.] Moreouer,
he granted licence to all men, to build either castell, tower, or other
hold for defense of themselues vpon their owne grounds. Al this did he
chieflie in hope that the same might be a safegard for him in time to
come, if the empresse should inuade the land, as he doubted she shortlie
would. Moreouer he aduanced manie yoong & lustie gentlemen to great
liuings. [Sidenote: _Wil. Malm._ In nouella historia.] For such as were
of any noble familie, and thereto through a certeine stoutnesse of
stomach sought preferment, easilie obteined of him the possession of
castels and great lordships, diuerse of whom he honored with titles of
dignitie, creating some of them earles and some lords. Now, such was
their importunate sute in demanding, that when he had little more to
bestow amongst them, hauing[1] alreadie giuen sundrie portions that
belonged to the crowne, they ceassed not to be in hand with him for
more, and being denied with reasonable excuses on his behalfe, they
thought themselues ill dealt withall, and so turning from him, fortified
their castels and holds, making open warre against him: as hereafter
shall appeare.

[Sidenote: The resort of strangers to serue king Stephan.] There came
ouer vnto him also a great number of Flemings and Britons to serue him
as souldiers, whom he reteined, to be the stronger and better able to
defend himselfe against the malice of the empresse, by whom he looked to
be molested he wist not how soone. Wherefore he shewed himselfe verie
liberall, courteous, and gentle towards all maner of persons at the
first, and (to saie truth) more liberall, familiar, and free harted than
stood with the maiestie of a king: which was afterward a cause that he
grew into contempt. ¶ But to such meanes are princes driuen, that
atteine to their estates more through fauour and support of others, than
by any good right or title which they may pretend of themselues. Thus
the gouernement of this prince at the beginning was nothing bitter or
heauie to his subiects, but full of gentlenesse, lenitie, courtesie, and

[Sidenote: _Polydor._] Howbeit whilest these things were a dooing,
certeine of the English Nobilitie, abhorring both the king and the
present state of his gouernment, went priuilie out of the realme into
Scotland to king Dauid, declaring vnto him what a detestable act was
committed by the lords of England, in that (contrarie to their oth made
vnto the empresse Maud, and hir issue) they had now crowned Stephan.
Wherefore they besought the said king to take in hand to reuenge such a
vile iniurie practised against hir, and to restore the kingdome vnto the
said empresse, which if he did, it should be a thing most acceptable
both to God and man.

[Sidenote: The king of Scots inuadeth the English marshes. _Sim. Dunel._
_Matt. Paris._ _Polydor._] King Dauid hauing heard and well weied the
effect of their request, foorthwith was so mooued at their words, that
in all possible hast he assembled an armie, and entring into England,
first tooke the citie and castell of Carleil: afterward comming into
Northumberland, he tooke Newcastell and manie other places vpon the
borders there. Whereof king Stephan being aduertised, streightwaies
assembled a power, and foorthwith hasted into Cumberland, meaning to
recouer that againe by force of armes, which the enimie had stolen from
him by craft and subtiltie. [Sidenote: K. Stephan encamped néere to his
enimie the K. of Scots.] At his approch néere to Carleil, he pitched
downe his field in the euening, thinking there to staie till the
morning, that he might vnderstand of what power the enimie was, whome he
knew to be at hand.

King Dauid also was of a fierce courage, and redie inough to haue giuen
him battell, but yet when he beheld the English standards in the field,
and diligentlie viewed their order and behauiour, [Sidenote: An accord
made betwixt the two kings Stephan and Dauid.] he was at the last
contented to giue care to such as intreated for peace on both sides.
Wherevpon comming to king Stephan, he entred a fréendlie peace with him,
wherein he made a surrender of Newcastell, with condition that he should
reteine Cumberland by the frée grant of king Stephan, who hoped thereby
to find king Dauid the more faithfull vnto him in time of need: but yet
he was deceiued, as afterwards manifestlie appéered. For when king
Stephan required of him an oth of allegiance, he answered that he was
once sworne alreadie vnto Maud the empresse. Howbeit to[2] gratifie him,
he commanded his son Henrie to receiue that oth, for the which the king
gaue him the earledome of Huntington to hold of him for euer.

[Sidenote: _Hec. Boetius._] ¶ The Scotish chronicles set out the matter
in other order, but yet all agrée that Henrie sweare fealtie to king
Stephan, as in the said historie of Scotland you may sée more at large.
[Sidenote: _Simon Dun._ _Matth. Paris._ _Simon Dun._ King Stephan
sicke.] Now after that king Stephan had concluded a peace with king
Dauid, he returned to London, and there kept his Easter with great ioy
and triumphes: who whilest he was yet in the middest of all his pastime,
about Rogation wéeke, he chanced to fall sicke of a litargie, by reason
whereof a rumor was spred ouer all the realme that he was dead. Which
though it was but a vaine tale, and of no importance at the first, yet
was it after the occasion of much euill. [Sidenote: False rumors what
hurt they oftentimes doo.] For vpon that report great sedition was
raised by the kings enimies amongst the people, the minds of his fréends
were alienated from him, & manie of the Normans (which were well
practised in periuries & treasons) thought they might boldlie attempt
all mischéefes that came to hand, and hervpon some of them vndertooke to
defend one place, and some another. [Sidenote: Hugh Bigot. Baldwin
Reduers. Robert Quisquere.] Hugh Bigot erle of Norfolke a valiant
chieftein entered into Norwhich, Baldwin Reduers tooke Excester, &
Robert Quisquere got certeine castels also into his hands.

King Stephan hearing what his enimies had doone, though he was somewhat
mooued with this alteration of things, yet as one nothing afraid of the
matter, he said merilie to those that stood about him: "We are aliue yet
God be thanked, and that shall be knowne to our enimies yer it be long."
Neither doubted he any thing but some secret practise of treason, and
therefore vsing all diligence, he made the more hast to go against his
enimies, whose attempts though streightwaies for the more part he
repressed, yet could he not recouer the places (without much adoo) that,
they had gotten, as Excester, and others: which when he had obteined, he
contented himselfe for a time and followed not the victorie any further
in pursuing of his enemies. Wherevpon they became more bold afterward
than before; in somuch that soone after they practised diuerse things
against him, whereof (God willing) some in places conuenient shall
appeare: howbeit they permitted him to remaine in quiet for a time.
[Sidenote: _Polydor._] But whilest he studied to take order in things at
home (perceiuing how no small number of his subiects did dailie shew
themselues to beare him no hartie good will) he began by little and
little to take awaie those liberties from the people, which in the
beginning of his reigne he had granted vnto them, and to denie those
promises which he had made, according to the saieng, "That which I haue
giuen, I would I had not giuen, and that which remaineth I will kéepe
still." This sudden alteration and new kind of rough dealing purchased
him great enuie amongst all men in the end. [Sidenote: Geffrey earle of
Aniou.] About the same time, great commotions were raised in Normandie
by meanes of the lord Geffrey earle of Aniou, husband to Maud the
empresse, setting the whole countrie in trouble: but yer any newes
thereof came into England, king Stephan went against Baldwin Reduers,
who being latelie (though not without great and long siege expelled out
of Excester) got him into the Isle of Wight, [Sidenote: _Simon Dunel._
_Wil. Paruus._ _Polydor._] and there began to deuise a new conspiracie.
Howbeit the king comming suddenlie into the Isle, tooke it at the first
assault, and exiled Baldwin out of the realme.

[Sidenote: An. Reg. 2. 1137] [Sidenote: K. Stephan passeth into
Normandie.] Having thus with good successe finished this enterprise, and
being now aduertised of the businesse in Normandie, he sailed thither
with a great armie: and being come within two daies iournie of his
enimie the earle of Aniou, he sent foorth his whole power of horssemen,
diuided into three parts, which were not gone past a daies iournie
forward, but they encountred the earle, finding him with no great force
about him. [Sidenote: The earle of Aniou put to flight.] Wherevpon
giuing the charge vpon him, they put him to flight, and slue manie of
his people. Which enterprise in this maner valientlie atchiued, euen
according to the mind of king Stephan, [Sidenote: Lewes king of France.
Eustace son to king Stephan.] he ioined in freendship with Lewes the
seuenth king of France: and hauing latelie created his sonne Eustace
duke of Normandie, he presentlie appointed him to doo his homage vnto
the said Lewes for the same.

[Sidenote: _Matth. Paris._ Theobald erle of Blois.] Now whereas his
elder brother Theobald earle of Blois at that time in Normandie, found
himselfe greeued, that Stephan the yoonger brother had vsurped the lands
that belonged to their vncle king Henrie, rather than himselfe, Stephan
to stop this iust complaint of his brother, [Sidenote: K. Stephan
agréeth with the earle of Aniou.] and to allaie his mood, agréed with
him, couenanting to paie him yearelie two thousand marks of such current
monie as was then in vse. Furthermore, wheras Geffrey the earle of Aniou
demanded in right of his wife the empresse, the whole kingdome of
England, to be at an end with him, king Stephan was contented to
satisfie him with a yearelie pension of fiue thousand marks, which
composition he willinglie receiued.

[Sidenote: _Polydor._] Thus when he had prouided for the suertie of
Normandie, he returned againe into England, where he was no sooner
arriued, but aduertisement was giuen him of a warre newlie begon with
the Scots, whose king vnder a colour of obseruing the oth to the
empresse, [Sidenote: The Scots inuade the English borders.] made dailie
insurrections and inuasions into England, to the great disturbance of
king Stephan and the annoiance of his people. Wherwith being somewhat
mooued, he went streightwaies toward the north parts, and determined
first to besiege Bedford by the waie, which apperteined to the earledome
of Huntington, by gift made vnto Henrie the sonne of king Dauid, and
therevpon at that present kept with a garison of Scotish men.

[Sidenote: _Simon Dun._.] This place did the king besiege by the space
of 30. daies togither, giuing thereto euerie daie an assault or alarme,
in somuch that cōming thither on Christmasse daie, he spared not on the
morow to assaile them, and so at length wan the towne from them by méere
force and strength. [Sidenote: An. Reg. 3. 1138.] [Sidenote: King Dauid
inuaded Northumberland. _Matth. West._ _Polydor._ _Matt. Paris._ _Simon
Dun._] King Dauid hearing those newes, and being alreadie in armour in
the field, entered into Northumberland, and licensed his men of warre to
spoile and rob the countrie thereabout at their pleasure. Herevpon
followed such crueltie, that their rage stretched vnto old and yoong,
vnto preest and clearke, yea women with child escaped not their hands,
they hanged, headed, and slue all that came in their waie: houses were
burnt, cattell driuen awaie, and all put to fire and sword that serued
to any vse for reléefe, either of man or beast.

¶ Here we see what a band of calamities doo accompanie and waite vpon
warre, wherein also we haue to consider what a traine of felicities doo
attend vpon peace, by an equall comparing of which twaine togither, we
may easilie perceiue in how heauenlie an estate those people be that
liue vnder the scepter of tranquillitie, and contrariwise what a hellish
course of life they lead that haue sworne their seruice to the sword. We
may consider also the inordinat outrages of princes, & their frantike
fiersenes, who esteeme not the losse of their subiects liues, the
effusion of innocent bloud, the population of countries, the ruinating
of ample regions, &c.: so their will may be satisfied, there desire
serued. [Sidenote: M. Pal. in suo Capric.] And therefore it was aptlie
spoken by a late poet, not beside this purpose:
Reges atque duces dira impelluntur in arma,
Imperiúmque sibi miserorum cæde lucrantur.
O cæci, ô miseri, quid? bellum pace putatis
Dignius aut melius? nempe hôc nil terpius, & nil
Quod magis humanâ procul à ratione recedat.
[Sidenote: _Ouid._]
Candida pax homines, trux decet ira feras.

[Sidenote: K. Stephan maketh hast to rescue the north parts.] But to our
storie. King Stephan hearing of this pitifull spoile, hasted forward
with great iournies to the rescue of the countrie. [Sidenote: The Scots
retire.] The Scots put in feare of spéedie comming to encounter them,
drew backe into Scotland: [Sidenote: K. Stephan burnt the south parts of
Scotland.] but he pursued them, and entring into their countrie burned
and destroied the south parts of that realme in most miserable maner.
Whilest king Stephan was thus about to beat backe the forren enimies,
and reuenge himselfe on them, he was assailed by other at home, & not
without the iust vengeance of almightie God, who meant to punish him for
his periurie committed in taking vpon him the crowne, contrarie to his
oth made vnto the empresse and hir children. [Sidenote: Robert earle of
Glocester.] For Robert erle of Glocester, base brother vnto the
empresse, and of hir priuie councell, sought by all meanes how to bring
king Stephan into hatred, both of the Nobles and commons, that by their
helpe he might be expelled the realme, and the gouernment restored to
the empresse and hir sonne.

Such earnest trauell was made by this earle of Glocester, that manie of
his freends which fauoured his cause, now that king Stephan was occupied
in the north parts, ioined with him in conspiracie against their
souereigne. [Sidenote: Bristow taken.] First the said earle himselfe
tooke Bristowe; and after this diuerse other townes and castels there in
that countrie were taken by him and others, with full purpose to kéepe
the same to the behoofe of the empresse and hir sonne. [Sidenote: _Sim.
Dun._ Talbot.] Amongst other William Talbot tooke vpon him to defend
Hereford in Wales: [Sidenote: _Matt. Paris._ Louell. Painell. Fitz-John.
Fitz-Alain.] William Louell held the castell of Gary: Paganell or
Painell kept the castell of Ludlow: William de Moun the castell of
Dunestor: Robert de Nicholl, the castle of Warram: Eustace Fitz-John,
the castle of Walton; and William Fitz-Alain, the castle of

When word hereof came to king Stephan, he was maruellouslie vexed: for
being determined to haue pursued the Scots euen to the vttermost limits
of their countrie, he was now driuen to change his mind, and thought it
good at the first to stop the proceedings of his enimies at home, least
in giuing them space to increase their force, they might in processe of
time growe so strong, that it would be an hard matter to resist them at
the last. [Sidenote: _Simon Dun._ _Matth. Paris._ The castle of Douer
deliuered to the quéene. _Polydor._] Herevpon therefore he returned
southward, and comming vpon his enimies, recouered out of their hands
diuers of those places which they held, as Hereford, and the castle of
Shrewesburie. About the same time one Walkeline yéelded the castle of
Douer vnto the quéene, who had besieged him within the same.

Now king Stephan knowing that the Scots were not like long to continue
in quiet, returned northwards againe; [Sidenote: Thurstan archbishop of
Yorke made lieutenant of the north ports.] and comming to Thurstan the
archbishop of Yorke, he committed the kéeping of the countrie vnto his
charge, commanding him to be in a redinesse to defend the borders vpon
any sudden inuasion. Which thing the couragious archbishop willinglie
vndertooke. By this meanes king Stephan being eased of a great part of
his care, fell in hand to besiege the residue of those places which the
rebels kept: but they fearing to abide the danger of an assault, fled
away, some into one part, and some into another; whom the kings power of
horssemen still pursuing and ouertaking by the way, slue, and tooke no
small number of them prisoners in the chase. Thus was the victorie in
maner wholie atchiued, and all those places recouered, which the enimies
had fortified.

[Sidenote: The Scots eftsoones inuade Northumberland.] In like maner
when king Dauid heard that the king was thus vexed with ciuill warre at
home, he entred England againe in most forceable wise: and sending his
horssemen abroad into the countrie, commanded them to waste and spoile
the same after their accustomed maner. But in the meane time he purposed
with himselfe to besiege Yorke: which citie if he might haue woone, he
determined to haue made it the frontier hold against king Stephan, and
the rest that tooke part with him. Herevpon calling in his horssemen
from straieng further abroad, he marched thitherwards, and comming neere
to the citie, pitched downe his tents.

[Sidenote: Archbishop Thurstan raiseth a power to fight with the Scots.]
In this meane while the archbishop Thurstan, to whom the charge of
defending the countrie cheefelie in the kings absence apperteined,
called togither the Nobles and gentlemen of the shire and parties
adioining, whom with so pithie and effectuall words he exhorted to
resist the attempts of the Scots (whose cruell dooings could kéepe no
measure) that incontinentlie all the power of the northparts was raised,
[Sidenote: _Sim. Dunel._ Capteines of the armie.] and (vnder the leading
of William earle of Albermarle, Walter Espeke, William Peuerell of
Nottingham, and two of the Lacies, Walter and Gilbert) offered euen with
perill of life and limme to trie the matter against the Scots in a pight
field, and either to driue them out of the countrie, or else to loose
their liues in the quarel of their prince.

It chanced at this time, that archbishop Thurstan was sicke, and
therefore could not come into the field himselfe, [Sidenote: Rafe bish.
of Durham supplieth the roome of the archbishop.] but yet he sent Rafe
bishop of Durham to supplie his roome, who though he saw and perceiued
that euerie man was readie enough to encounter with their enimies; yet
he thought good to vse some exhortation vnto them the better to
encourage them, in maner as here ensueth.

[Sidenote: _Matth. Paris._ _Sim. Dun._] "Most noble Englishmen, and ye
right valient Normans, of whose courage the Frenchman is afraid, by you

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