Chapter 12

[ 12 ]

       One of the pagan battle-lines, escaping perchance the peril of the battle, has come to LŠauml;ves and stealthily approached the higher reaches of the hill. Thus, after such and so great a warring combat has ceased, Ebalus arrives in the evening with his followers. And he is cursing the Franks and the Burgundians: "When you began the battle without me, you held me entirely of no account. I will be reviled by all nations who hear of these events. Ah, grief! I would have preferred to die with that host than to miss the battle." Then the Franks and Burgundians have said to Ebalus, complaining without cause: "Something of the combat still awaits you, wherein you may quickly test yourself and your followers. Think of the Normans put to flight in the battle, gone to the top of that hill for protection. Therefore, cast them down headlong from the mountain, and dash their arrogance to pieces. Avenge the blood of the Franks and Burgundians lying, alas, the grief! on this field. Let them feel that you have now arrived, they who boast that they have escaped the peril of death." At these words, Ebalus thus attacks the Normans, exceedingly terrified, on the hill.
       However, Ebalus would climb the hill with his followers, but the Dacians would resist him with darts. (note 1) Ebalus would cast missiles (note 2) thither, but the Dacians would injure his men with darts. Ebalus' men would attempt to climb the hilltop, Rollo's men would cast them headlong to the base of the hill. Ebalus' men would carry to the hill the walls and fences which the Dacians had made to try to capture the city. But the Dacians would carry off from them those very walls and fences and would defend themselves by surrounding themselves with them. Meanwhile, the crowd of Franks has been waiting for the end of the strife. Thus Ebalus, seeing that the commenced combat would not profit him, has come to duke Richard, who had pitched his camp in the battle-field. Then the army has surrounded the hill, so that no one would be able to slip away.
       However the Dacians, seeing themselves surrounded by the populace, have said to one another: "If perchance we were to wait until tomorrow, we would all be slain by the sword." One man, born of the Frisian nation, who has been trusted by them unconditionally, has said to those dreading death: "I am going to give advice that will benefit you. In the silence of the dead of night, some of us will descend stealthily from the hilltop and sound trumpet-blasts outside around their tents. For, once the sound of the war-trumpets is heard, they will flee, fearful and struck senseless and quaking, and scattered here and there, believing that our duke Rollo is at hand. But we, descending from the hill, will rush upon the encampments of the leaders and, roughly vanquishing them, will pass through their midst and hasten to go to our lord, and in this way we will escape the peril of death." They have replied: "You give advice that is appropriate and advantageous, in accordance with what has befallen us. It is better for us to act thus, namely either to slip away or to die, than to linger here, and be apprehended alive and distressed by diverse punishments."
       In the silence of the dark night, some of them have at once descended from the hill and, crossing stealthily through the tents and coming to the other side, have begun to sound war-trumpets outside the tents and to strike sudden terror thereby. But the rest, slipping fleetly from the hill, with great uproar and great crashing of shields, have attacked Richard, sleeping deeply in his tent. And so, battling savagely and crossing through the center of the army, they proceed, delivered, with quickened pace along the way which Rollo controls and, coming upon the Eure, wearied, they halt at a high place surrounded by a marsh. But the greatly terrified army has begun to move to and fro, thinking Rollo at hand. In terror of that, Ebalus has even sought out the house of a certain fuller and has hid away in it for a while.
       However as daybreak begins to shine, the army, seeing the mountain empty of foes, pursues them to where they have been lingering. But the Normans have immediately killed the innumerable animals which they brought there with them and, snatching and skinning the halved hides of the animals, have made a fortress around themselves out of those very cadavers and have torn off the bloody skins, piling one hide on top of another on the outside of the fortress, so that neither senseless horses nor marvelling horsemen would approach. Truly when the Franks and Burgundians who pursued them have arrived and seen the citadel hedged in by the bodies of horses, oxen, asses, goats and sheep, and have seen the bloody skins hanging on the outside, they have said to one another: "Who will attack those men? Whoever wishes to lose his life, let him approach that marvelous fortress made of flesh." That said, everyone has gone back to his dwelling, and the Dacians to their ships. Moreover Rollo, seeing his warriors, has said to them with joy: "Oh men most strong and fierce in arms, how did you escape from those battles?" Then they have recounted for Rollo everything that happened.
       But Rollo, stirred up by wrath, enraged by a most stinging madness, has begun to lay waste and obliterate and burn with fire the whole land. Instantly, all safety is bewailed as lost and no confidence in life is to be found, the state is brought to nothing and the churches are foresaken. But the Franks, not having the strength to resist the pagans and seeing all Francia coming to nothing, have come of one mind to the king and said: "Why do you not aid the realm which you ought to rule and profit with your authority? Why is a peace, which we are unable to acquire either by war or by any obstacle of diligent defense, not being obtained through conciliation? Royal official dignity and power are being put down, the haughtiness of the pagans raised up, the land in the Frankish region is almost a desert, for its populace is either dying by famine or sword, or perhaps taken captive. Protect the realm, if not by arms, then by conciliation."
       Then king Charles, filled with prophetic inspiration, has said to them: "Give me some advice, that may be appropriate and advantageous to the realm and to us." Then the Franks: "If you would trust us, we will give you advice that is both worthy and salvation-giving for the realm. In order that the populace, exceedingly reduced by scarcity, might rest in peace, let the land from the river Andelle to the sea be given to the pagan nations and join your daughter to Rollo in sexual union (note 3) and as a result of this you will be able to prevail against those nations opposing you, for Rollo, born of the arrogant blood of kings and dukes, most beautiful in body, fiery at arms, prudent in deliberation, of handsome countenance, mild towards his followers, a trusty friend to whomever he has engaged himself, a cruel foe to whomever he opposes, a servant (note 4) of sagacious mind, constant and gentle, as the circumstance demands, in all things, yea indeed he is abundantly supplied with every goodness, versed in speech, easily taught about affairs, benevolent in his actions, respectable for his eloquence, filled full with manly virtue, humble in conversations, and most discreet in public affairs, just in judgment, circumspect concerning secrets, most rich in gold and silver, unremittingly surrounded by the thickest crowd of warriors."
       Advised by them, Charles has without delay sent archbishop Franco of Rouen to Rollo, duke of the pagans. Coming to him, he has begun to address him with these flattering words: "Superior to every duke, and more distinguished than all of them, will you strive all your life, count, against the Franks, will you always do battle against them? What will happen to you, were you to fall prey to death? Whose creation are you? Do you think there is a God? Moulded from the mud, are you not a man? Are you not food for worms, and ashes, and dust? Be mindful of what you are and what you will be, and by whose judgment you will be condemned. You will, I suppose, enjoy the Lower World, nor will challenge anyone in battle again. If you wish to become a Christian, you will be able to enjoy both present and future peace and to be extremely rich on this earth. The most forbearing king Charles, persuaded by the advice of his followers, wishes to give you this maritime land, exceedingly ravaged by Anstign and by you, and he will also give you in wedlock (note 5) his daughter, Gisla by name, as your wife, from which bond you may be delighted by offspring, so that the peace and concord and friendship between you and him might endure forever, constant and steadfast and uninterrupted. And you will hold this realm in perpetuity." Hearing this, he calls together the older Dacians and sets forth for their ears what the bishop has recounted to him.
       Then the Dacians, recalling the explanations of the dream, have said to Rollo: "This completely deserted land, deprived of warriors, not worked by the plough, crammed in places with trees, cut by rivers filled with diverse classes of fish, rich in game, not unacquainted with vines, plentifully furnished with soils worked by the plough-coulter, surrounded on one side by a sea that will provide an abundance of diverse things, on the other by downward courses of waters that carry all goods by navigation, as distinguished as the realm of Francia, if a crowd of men were in the habit of using it, it would be intensely fertile and fruitful. And it would be adequate and appropriate for us to dwell in! The daughter whom he betroths to you, come forth royally from the seed of both lineages, suitable for her tall stature, most elegant, as we have heard, in appearance, is a maiden most chaste, prudent in deliberation! Circumspect in the business of public affairs, most easy in conversation, most courteous in speech, most skilful in handicrafts, indeed more distinguished than all maidens, it is fitting that she be bound to you in sexual alliance (note 6) and, because of the fact that you will have the king's daughter in an alliance of wedlock, (note 7) this advice seems to us even more advantageous, beneficial and unshattered by the strife of any deception. Be mindful of the explanations of your dream and of its mystical meanings. In our opinion, it will come true in this territory. Enough have we battled and vanquished the Franks; to us it seems according to reason that we should rest and patiently enjoy the fruits of the land. Send the bishop back to the king to say that you are ready at his service, if he should give you what he has promised. Send word to him guaranteeing the safety of a three-month peace, and to come to meet you at a conference, (note 8) if he wishes, during that interval of negotiated peace and, through his own words and engagements, to put you at ease about everything." Immediately Rollo has announced the aforesaid to the bishop and has sent him back to the king to say these things to him.
       Coming to the king, he has said to the assembled company of bishops, counts and abbots: "Rollo, duke of the Normans, sends you a pact of love and inextricable friendship, indeed even of service. If you were to give him your daughter, as you said, as his consort, and that maritime land as an eternal holding from generation to generation, he will give you his hands, subjugating himself for the sake of fidelity, and he will incessantly fulfill your service. And, greatly strengthened through him, you will be able to grow strong and to check the commotions of those opposing you and and causing strife against you." The Franks are rejoycing at what the bishop has reported and, of one mind, are prompting the king to give his daughter and the land to Rollo. Truly the king, constrained by the prayers of the Franks, has given his daughter as a gage to the bishop in Rollo's stead, through the tie of an oath and of sworn unity. Once these fitting things have been done, settled and confirmed, with a time and place settled and a negotiated peace enacted, each one has returned home. Archbishop Franco of Rouen has gone to Rollo and expounded for him all that he did, setting it forth in order. Thus Rollo and his followers, exceedingly delighted by these reports, are recalling the symbolic meaning of his vision.
       However when duke Robert heard that king Charles had given his daughter to Rollo and they had been reconciled with each another and peace made for the whole world, with peace-making words he sent a messenger to say the following words to Rollo. And when he had arrived, he said to Rollo with these entreating words: "Robert, duke of the Franks, sends you faithful service. He has heard of the concord between you and the king, and he is greatly delighted by it. He says that it is appropriate for you and your followers to rest and rebuild the land given to you. Restore towns and walls, and live in perpetual peace. Enough have you busied yourself in battles. Enough have you shown your manful arms. Enough have you proven your prowess. Enough have you brooded over your many many perils. Enough, enough have you been praised, a deserving vessel, by the whole world. Praying on bended knees, the duke even sends word for you to allow him to be your godparent when you are called to witness in the name of Christ and bathed in the fountain by salvation-giving baptism. If it please you, the two of you will henceforth be inseparably trusty friends, and no one will be able to stand against the two of you, and he will incessantly do service for the both of you and make the king benevolent towards you for all time." On the advice of bishop Franco and of his counts, he said to all that: "I wish to accord with the king and with the Franks, so let him come to the designated conference and redeem me, immersed in the fountain. Let him be as a father to me through paternal love, I will be as a son to him through filial love. Let him assist me, if need be, as a father does a son, I him, as a son does a father. Let him rejoice in my prosperity, let him be saddened by my adversity. Let whatever is in my power be his by right, and whatever is mine by right be in his power." The go-between accordingly reported to duke Robert what he had heard.
       So they came at the established time to the prescribed place, which is called St. Clair. (note 9) However, Rollo's army settled down on this side of the river Epte, but the army of the king and Robert on the other side. Immediately Rollo sent the archbishop to say the following words to the king of the Franks: "Rollo cannot make peace with you, for the land which you wish to give him is untilled by the ploughshare, entirely stripped of flocks of sheep and cattle, and deprived of the presence of men. There is nothing in it whereby he might live except by rapine and booty-taking. Give him some realm where he might collect food and clothing for himself, until the land you are giving him is filled with a mass of wealth and imparts the timely fruits of victuals, men and animals. Furthermore, he will not be reconciled to you unless you have sworn by the land you are about to give, with an oath of the Christian religion, you and the archbishops and bishops, the counts and abbots of the whole realm, that he himself and his successors may occupy the land from the river Epte to the sea as their estate (note 10) and as their heritable estate (note 11) for eternity." Then Robert, duke of the Franks, and the counts and bishops and abbots who were there, said to the king: "You will not keep this duke, so honorable!, unless you give him what he covets. If you do not surrender what he repeatedly demands from you for the sake of service, then at least give it to him for the sake of the worship of the Christian religion, so that so great a populace, caught in a net by diabolical deception, might be obtained for Christ. And let not the pillar of your whole realm and of the church, whose most constant advocate and king you ought to be, discharging advocating patronage in Christ's stead, be annihilated by the assault of an inimical army." Then the king wished to give him the Flemish land to live from but he was unwilling to accept it due to the hindrance of its extreme marshiness. And so the king pledges to give him Brittany, which bordered the land already promised.
       At once, Robert and bishop Franco have reported all this to Rollo and, having given hostages on the integrity of their Christian faith, they have brought him to king Charles. Truly the Franks, admiring Rollo, attacker of all Francia, have said to one another: "That is the duke, so powerful! so valorous! so resolute and discreet! so hard-working! who has prosecuted such great battles against the counts of this realm." Immediately, constrained by the words of the Franks, he has placed his hands in the king's hands, something which neither his father nor his grandfather nor his great-grandfather had ever done for anyone. And so the king has given him his daughter, Gisla by name, as his wife, as well as the prescribed land from the river Epte to the sea, as a heritable estate (note 12) and as an estate, (note 13) and all of Brittany to live from. The bishops have said to Rollo, who is unwilling to kiss the king's foot: "Whoever receives such a gift, ought to kiss the king's foot." And he: "I will never kneel before the knees of another, nor will I kiss anyone's foot." Thus, urged by the prayers of the Franks, he has ordered a certain warrior to kiss the king's foot. The warrior, at once laying hold of the king's foot, has brought it to his own mouth and has planted a kiss on it while standing upright, and has caused the king to topple backwards. And so great laughter and great uproar is occasioned among the people.
       For the rest, king Charles and duke Robert and the counts and chief prelates and abbots have sworn to patrician Rollo, with an oath of the catholic faith on their life and limbs and the honor of the entire realm, that he would have and hold the designated land, and bequeath it to his heirs, and that the succession of his descendants from generation to generation would have and tend it throughout the course of all time. That completed just as was said, king Charles returned home. Robert and Franco remained with Rollo.
                      Apostrophe to Rollo

Come, Rollo, embrace the mystical teachings of your vision.
You will stand at the highest apex of the mountain of the church.
You will be purged in the salvation-giving font of the leprosy of accursed deeds.
And now men, in place of birds, ascending the mountain of the church
Will cleanse themselves in the font, bearing shields for you,
Nor will you ever be able to see the farthest away of these men with your power of sight.
Free now from accursed deeds, they will taste the mystical sacred rites
And make homes instead of nests around the ridges of the mount
And build churches sustained by diverse tribute.
Good duke, pious duke and always reverend patrician,
Everything your spirit saw in the dream is now at hand for you.
Preserve through nourishing baptism what you have already been promised,
Leave behind Satan's damnable work, yeah, his toxic sacred rites,
Always seek the true God with suppliant vow and prayer,
Observe the precepts of his mandates,
Give laws to the people, and sanctioned rights to the learned.
Always enjoying peace, the fortunate populace residing and living
Under your authority, will in time take pleasure in everyone else,
And every brigand and thief will be broken to pieces by your snares.
Highest defender of the church and helper of the indigent,
Peace-making protector and aider and defender,
Governor, guide and founder of the realm,
You will flourish with lively merits for all eternity.


1. Jacula.

2. Missilia.

3. "Conubium," the same word used for Rollo's relationship with Popa (see above p. ___) and for the sexual wantonness of the Dacian youths.

4. uassallus.

5. Conjugium.

6. Connubialis amicitia.

7. Conjugium.

8. Placitum.

9. The terms of the agreement traditionally, following Dudo, said to have been made at St. Clair-sur-Epte have been much disputed by scholars. Some of the debate turns on the interpretation of particular words whose legal connotations in the late ninth and early tenth centuries are not clear.

10. Fundus.

11. Alodus.

12. Alodus.

13. Fundus.

Go to next chapter( English and Latin )
Go to next chapter( English )
Go to next chapter( Latin )
Go to the Index