Chapter 31

[ 31 ]

       When finally an interval of two eras (note 1) had passed, and the little child Richard had grown profusely by marvelous increments, duke William began advantageously to ponder the profit of the realm and a successor for his military leadership, soon desiring to enact what he was meditating in his heart. Thus, so frequently and vehemently stirred up by the anxieties of such thorough consideration, and longing diligently with all his desire, as the age of the boy increased, to contemplate the condition and the health, in fact even the appearace and the stature of his greatly-desired son Richard, he sent residents of his household who were privy to his secret, in order that Richard might be secretly carried off to the villa which is called Quevilly. Thus when the young child had been brought to the aforesaid villa, the duke went to him, having taken with him his three trusty privy counsellors, Bernard, Botho and Anslech. Contemplating rather diligently and understanding him (from the structure of his limbs which he touched with his own hands) to be finely formed in proportion to his age, and taking heed that he was increasingly surpassing the age of infancy, having embraced him lovingly and kissed him sweetly, he began to speak to the above-mentioned three counts, recounting what he had for so long explored in his own heart:
       "With your advice," he said, "have I vigorously ruled this realm till now; the Bretons, like enemies rebellious against me, have I defeated; the pagan invaders of our territory have I confuted; the Flemings and other nations sojourning (note 2) in the neighborhood of our power have I boldly put down; in fact even if I did some good, constrained by your most kind encouragement, I accomplished it softly and gently. But now offer me your approval for this which I am struggling to carry out, since every realm lacking a hereditary lord is deserted and scattered, and very many seditions and unheardof quarrels of unappeasable complaint are engendered in many ways, and for that reason let this little boy, with your favor, be appointed as heir and successor to me in the authority of our military leadership. I want and command that you, having become his fideles by an easily-believable promise, guarantee to that young child his safe holding of the realm, for we are ignorant of what error a future time may spawn."
       Then did they reply to their lord, who was speaking so courteously: "We have, in the course of our life, submitted without delay to your orders and, as long as we shall survive, he will be an appropriate count and hereditary patrician duke for us, and we will obey his instructions in all things. For this determination will indeed be very pleasing to all who sojourn under the safeguard of your protection." Then, carrying out the orders of the most noble marquis, having willingly given their hands in an oath of allegiance of true faith, they commended themselves to the most elegant boy Richard, guaranteeing to him the safe holding of the realm.


O William, (note 3) mighty and upright and pious
Duke and future martyr,
That strong boy, begotten by a sacred mother
To a just lineage,
Will not be an unfitting (note 4) heir, neither before God
Nor before the clergy and the populace,
But will be an appropriate and accordant father
And a just patrician,
A holy marquis and a constant count and a good
Duke for those who worship Christ,
And a flashing sacred extender
Of the true belief,
And he will apportion among the populace, as a pious
Ruler, the reins of equitable laws,
And will equitably pacify the common people,
As does a father keeping his offspring in bounds.
May glory, peace, dignity and the grace
Of Jesus Christ be with that boy.


1. An era seems to be about four or five years.

2. Myself supplying "commorantes" instead of "commemorantes."

3. Preferring the "Willelme" of CC 276. More often than not the proper names in the section of Dudo's work which concerns Richard are confused in the manuscripts; evidently this resulted from the fact that the names were left blank by the original scribe, in order to be filled in at a later date, in red, by a "rubricator" who, not reading the entire text, made frequent errors. I do not indicate in the notes every time that I prefer the proper name readings of manuscripts other than the base manuscript.

4. Preferring the "inopportunus" of CC 276 and Rouen 1173.

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