Chapter 36

[ 36 ]

       However, the most sagacious tutor and foster-father of the boy Richard (so celebrated!) was a certain young recruit, Osmund by name. One day when the king is absent, he has brought it to pass that the boy, imprisoned undeservedly, rides out fowling in order to learn to capture winged creatures with his own hawk. But when the king has returned and learned from the words of queen Gerberga that the boy Richard (so knowledgeable!) had travelled outside of Laon in his zeal for boyish delight, he has asked the boy's instructor Osmund to come to him. As Osmund stands before him, the king, enraged by shrill madness, begins to speak, revealing the long-hidden secret of that execrable imprisonment: "Whither did you, more vile than anyone, escort your lord the day before yesterday? If you should ever take him anyplace again I will put out your eyes, once I have boiled your lord's knees." Then he has confided the boy to other young recruits in addition to Osmund, so that they will guard him diligently, and take precautions that he not be able to slip away in flight.
       Osmund, however, realizing that the boy Richard (so sweet!) is a prisoner, has sent someone to the people of Rouen to report the great deception. Truly the people of Rouen, astounded at the faithless king's altered design, supplicantly seek God's help for the boy (so wise!) (note 1) . Therefore they send to every church of the Norman and Breton region in order that together the priests devotedly celebrate masses for him. The clergy busies itself with psalms and the populace fasts, barefooted and wearing sackcloth. But hearing the report of this sad embassy, the Norman and Breton prelates, enjoining on the people a three-day fast in each and every month, supplicatingly deprecate the lord God by pouring forth prayers and giving alms to the poor, to return to them the boy Richard (so desireable!). Together the suppliant clergy of canons and monks sing psalms for his sake, and the devout populace, encircling the churches, sends out deprecative groans.
       Meanwhile the boy Richard (so dignified!), born of a notable family and celebrated for his respectability, was being, even in captivity, adequately versed in all fields of knowledge. He was spending this portion of his life in accumulating new strength, and yet he was being useful and beneficial to all as if he were already of mature age. Whatever was unlawful, he would censure, as much as he could at his age; whatever threatened to disturb his spirit, he would account of slight value. He would copiously arm his tongue with lively charm and engrave it with plentiful eloquence. In order that those things which were obscure to him not remain secret, he would search through and reconsider with zeal those things of which he was ignorant. He would dedicate his tender boyhood to Jesus Christ and, although he was still of tender age, would give himself up completely to divine injunctions. For this indeed could only have happened by divine permission that the boy (so striking in appearance!) was being raised, glittering beyond all the rest, in the palace of the king. With pleasure would the courtiers (note 2) engrave him with many types of discussions and polish him with the mellifluous sweetness of palatine disputation.
       But the Lord, the King of kings, appeased in the course of time by the uninterrupted prayers and fasts of the Normans and Bretons, which have been so devotedly pursued over several months, has, in the following way, snatched the boy Richard (now so grown!) from the hands of the king. For the aforesaid young recruit Osmund, a most respectable caretaker, seeing that his lord would still be kept in the palace and, what is more, would be surrounded both day and night so that he could not be carried off by stealth from among the young recruits, has begun to muse over how he might snatch him away from such guards. Thus, in order to do this, on a certain day he has forced the boy (so well guarded!) to lie down and act uncomfortable, even to wail frequently, having counterfeited indisposition and almost disguised the true healthiness of his body. The city is filled with this false rumor, and the falsehood is made public, reported in common talk in place of the truth. And on the third day his guards have gone away, going here and there according to their own needs, judging that the boy (so diligent!) is on his deathbed. Therefore while the king and the citizens are dining and the streets are emptied of men, Osmund and the boy (delivered!), dressed in a rain cloak, have speedily left Laon on fast horses and rapidly moved toward the fortress (note 3) of Coucy-le-ChÉteau. There, [Osmund] has entrusted the boy (so upright!) to the occupants of the fortress, and has travelled that same night to count Bernard, Richard's maternal uncle, who was residing in the walled town of Senlis.


Prelates of Normandy,
And likewise leaders of that realm
Who triumph in every war,
And the clergy of every order,
Even the deplorable populace ,
Boys, old men and virgins,
Youths and all women
And the common people, now brought together as one,
Let go of mournful weeping,
And refrain from sorrowful ways,
For this joy is given to you:
Released from royal chains,
And having escaped his guards,
Richard, a bountiful, innocent,
Judicious, most holy boy,
Fair, handsome, magnificent,
Free of gripping fetters,
Will be your very mighty duke.
Render thanks now to God
For the liberated hostage.


1. I have added "boy;" frequent errors of omission are made in all the manuscripts around the naming of the various Norman dukes.

2. I have supplied "courtiers" as a subject for the sentence.

3. Castrum.

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