Chapter 19

[ 19 ]

       This most blessed athlete of Christ, shining in the aforewritten ways and in other similar ways, would be publicized in all the territories of the earth by a report of his goodness, going everywhere before him, would be affluently enriched by an abundance of transient things, would be profusely endowed with an increase of divine grace. Indeed, he was beloved by all the inhabitants of the earth, but more beloved still by God and the inhabitants of heaven. Thus at that time he joined himself by mutual will and agreement to the friendship of duke Hugh, in an alliance that was not to endure. Afterwards, he was also bound by the covenant of a transient friendship to the viceroy (note 1) Herbert.
       However a certain Riulf, violently filled with the vileness of treachery, seeing that duke William, that is, his lord, was so very much strengthened and was gaining strength through the assistance of such friends, announced in his deceitful voice to very many of the Norman leaders, whom he had called together: "Our lord William, scion of a most noble stock of the Frankish race, obtains for himself Frankish friends. Truly, he is trying to drive us entirely out of the realm and roughly subdue the necks of those who remain with the yoke of servitude. Moreover, he will give the land which we hold to his own relatives to be held by their heirs, and he will endow them copiously with our tribute. Let us therefore sagely plan for ourselves some advantageous measure against the mere thought of such an attempt, and let us make among ourselves the covenant of an eternal alliance, and let us keep it, unshattered, with the anchor of a tenacious will. Let each one of us, should he see any of us overpowered by him, succor and protect that one, as he would his very self, with perpetual help. Indeed, should he wish to ruin us all at one time, let us resist his temerity by force of arms. What that sly one is incessantly attempting with crafty cunning to do to us, let us unexpectedly do to him as speedily as we are able. Let us send some go-between to ask him that, if he wishes to have us ready to serve him, he bountifully give us the land all the way to the river Risle; we will be endowed, should he give it to us, with a crowd of warriors. He, deprived of an army, will be brought to nothing, nor will he try any longer to extend the force of his displeasure against us. And hereafter we will be mightier than he in prosperity and power, he mightier than us in name alone."
       Having devised this fraudulent measure, they sent messengers to William, who would say the abominable things which they had devised. And as the go-between, having fulfilled the obligation of his embassy, stood before William, the latter was utterly astounded at those words of singular audacity. Therefore, having summoned his leaders in order to take counsel concerning such messages, with peace-making words he sent an ambassador back to Riulf to say the following things: "The land which you all seek from me I am not able to give to you, only all the household furniture which I hold will I grant you all with pleasure, namely armlets, and girdles, leather cuirasses and leather helmets, and also battle-horses, horses, hatchets, and extraordinary swords marvelously adorned with gold. You will enjoy my uninterrupted grace, and the glory of warfare in my household, if you should voluntarily devote yourselves to my service. I will transmit my authoritative resolutions through your mouths and I will fulfill, upon your orders, whatever you wish. Whomever you wish to subdue, I will vehemently subdue, and whomever you wish to humble, I will completely humble. Whomever you instruct me to raise high, I will mightily raise high, and whomever you instruct me to abase, I will cruelly abase. This fatherland will be ruled and mastered with your advice, and thus will your power surpass all others. Let how I live and what I know be henceforth in your power."
       And when the messenger of this man's humility had come to Riulf (so audacious!) and had set forth for him that embassy (so humble and mild!), he, allured by the rashness of his own presumption and caring little for the messages of duke William's most humble prayer, recounted with his own fraudulently cunning mouth everything he had heard the ambassador say, from beginning to end, to those leaders who, following his own audacious will, had been called together for that purpose. Then, imbued with the poison of treachery and swollen by his own insolent mind, with his rash mouth he prated thus in those leaders' ears: "He foresees that we will become quiet and be stilled by words (so humble!) such as you have just heard, and in this way does he intend that the noble breed of his widely extensive Frankish kin shall be collected together above us, once their leaders have been called together and united by an oath. Let us therefore take heed, lest we be ensnared, and crushed by the Frankish nations. Let him tread us under foot no longer with his cunning argumentation, but let us go to him at the town of Rouen with a speedily-amassed army, so that both he himself and his counsellors be thrust from Rouen. And we will guard this town with even greater hope and confidence, and we will be safe, without regard for seditions."

                      Apostrophe to Riulf

Why, proud Riulf, do you rage in vain, why do you treasonably
Vent your rage, as your vicious guilt grows ever thicker,
Ah! you whom the bitter plague of treachery and envy pollutes
With harmful force and abominable thoughts?
Infected by vices, why do you display yourself, drained of strength,
In the ornamented war-chariot of goodness of mind?
Why do you swell with pride in your overly-inflated ostentatious haughtiness?
And why do you try, sweating with empty effort,
To resist the will of that Lord who abides above the stars?
Prithee, enemy of God, say to what end you are hastening,
To what end you plunder fortresses and to what end you speed up your pace,
And to what end you, enraged by bitter madness,
Instruct a whole host, seduced by your crafty sophism, to go ahead?
But I suppose that you, prodigious mischievous one,
Suffering through many unfortunate events
And smitten by God's judgment,
Hasten your rushing pace, with your arrogant gait,
Towards a precipice and whirlpool of moist ruin.
For it is especially proper to those who have exalted themselves
To be raised up and hereupon to be greatly afflicted by sudden misfortune.
The proudly elevated forehead is rubbed blank, the brow having also been emptied,
But the humble forehead, wreathed, bears a glittering crown.


1. Satraps. Herbert was the castellan of Vermandois.

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