Chapter 58

[ 58 ]

       For, with Francia now cleansed (as recounted) of the poison of this baleful enmity, and with all accusations and losses of evil assailants now denied, and with the condition of the state of Francia (preceeded by the victory of desired peace) now everywhere embellished and established as favorable, most blessed duke Richard's shining fame, renowned as a result of his publicized merits, would grow vast, and the merit of his blessedness would be profusely spread abroad through the every realm. But in the course of that time, his wife, that is the daughter of duke Hugh the Great, passes away and, sorrowful over this desolating loss, he has sent to Hugh, his deceased wife's brother, for some household servants who would disburse to the sacrosanct church and to the poor whatever his sister possessed by feminine right. Truly duke Hugh has sent back to Richard, duke and patrician, to distribute everything abundantly and abundantly according to his own will. Then Richard, that mightiest duke of copious bounty, has divided that great treasure of gifts among all the churches (note 1) of all Francia and Normandy, yea indeed he has copiously disbursed very many of his own possessions to the poor for the sake of her soul.
       And then, conquered by the needling frailty of pleasure-seeking humanity, he has sired by his concubines two sons (and as many daughters), one of whom is named Godfrey, the other William. (note 2) Finally, he has joined himself to a maiden (note 3) of shining majesty, descended from an extremely famed family of noble Dacians and the most beautiful of all Norman maidens and the most circumspect concerning the constantly-changing results of public and civil affairs and well versed in the talents of feminine artistry and discreetly strong in richly fertile eloquence and profusely endowed with the treasure of a capacious memory and power of recollection and fortified by an abundance of all goods, and he has amicably alloted her to himself in an alliance of forbidden union.
       But, knowing her to be descended from the well-known stock of an extremely noble seed, the Norman magnates, very much planning both for a successor and an heir and an offspring who would be salvation-giving for the populace, have spoken to the mightiest duke Richard with soft voices and downturned (note 4) faces: "Although you, mightiest lord duke, may be as judicious as is possible in your wisely-musing scrutiny of all the Franks, and the Normans, and the Burgundians, and of all realms, we wonder why you still have not devised who shall rule the populace, now subordinated to your extremely mighty authority, after your lamentable and obligatory death? (note 5) For, becoming very much frightened at the possible downfall of a future defeat, we fear lest, lacking an advocate and heir after the mournful loss of your death-day, foreign nations tread us under foot." Then Richard: "I have until now presided over and benefitted this state, as I have been able, with the aid of your extremely advantageous advice; will you make clear to me what you have decided in your hearts about this matter?"
       And they: "In our opinion, the providence of the highest divinity has joined to you this Dacian woman whom you now cherish, so that an heir might be born for this land from a Dacian father and mother, an heir who will be its hardiest defender and advocate. For she is descended from a domineering race, beautiful and elegant in her appearance, circumspect and prudent in her deliberations, of devout mind, disciplined heart, discreet speech, gentle comportment, diligent and wise in every matter. We request that she be joined to you by the inextricable alliance of matrimonial prerogative so that, as the final lot of your death draws near to hand, the land of your duchy might be ruled advantageously and steadily by her salvation-giving offspring." Thus has the extremely holy duke Richard, applauding this advice with pleasure, betrothed her to himself according to matrimonial law, in the presence of a gathering of bishops (with the clergy) and rulers (note 6) (with the laity), and in the course of time he has sired by her five male progeny and three female.
       Thus, he would walk along the straight path of good deeds and actively rule the populace with the just reins of the law. Rebuilding the churches of the Norman region at his own expense, he furnished them with religious things and, as a gift of his own treasury, he wonderfully constructed very many sanctuaries in the Frankish land. Indeed, in the town of Rouen he enlarged the marvelous monastery in honor of the Mother of God, honorably extended by an augmentation of its length, width and height. In the maritime mount, surrounded on all sides (according to lunar direction) by a whirlpool of refluent inundation, he constructed a shrine of wondrous size and a spacious mansion of monastic habitation, (note 7) and there he assembled monks, obliged by the celebrated method of regular ordinances, to serve Christ in the wretched (note 8) wrestling-place of the contemplative life.
       Since, moreover, he was rich in innumerable increments of overflowing goodness, having one day approached the walls of his residence at F‚camp and, standing in the raised place before the entrance to his own house and observing that very house to be higher and more ornamented than the basilica dedicated in honor of the sacred Trinity, he said to a worker in stone, skilled in the architectural art, who had been called there: "It is fitting and needful that this house of God and of prayer tower over all the dwellings of the city by the special beauty and elegant altitude of its superlative summit because, in his gracious mercy, the maker and redeemer of the human race selected it for himself, and because it is the mother of marvelous rebirth by virtue of its bath of symbolic cleansing, and because in it we must hear the words of divine erudition and bewail our own sins. For this hall, which heaven-dwellers inhabit and of which they have charge, is called and is the gate of heaven. For this house, as the psalm-writer said, is God's mountain, a fertile mountain, a mountain in which the one who is pleasing to God is to live, for the Lord will forever inhabit it. (note 9) For this is the mountain on which my grandfather, by an oracle of divine vision, observed himself standing and being cleansed in the salvation-giving font, and in that dream he kept perceiving himself being purified of the leprosy of sins by which he had been corrupted. Wherefore, since it is meet that God's house be distinguished from the house in which we live by the more magnificent summit of its higher shape, ascertain whether you may perhaps be able to find, in the slopes and hills of the nearby mountains, some stone materials with which you might have the power to build a sanctuary of God that is higher than the house of our frequent abode."
       But he immediately went, taking a grub-axe, first to the slopes of the mountains, and tore away at their edges with a light hoe and, finding no stone material suitable to use for a wall, he made for the slopes of the mountains lying between the two little streams near F‚camp and there discovered a lump of gypsum, (note 10) and hewed out a single stone of gypsum in the shape of a cube and brought it before duke Richard. Then the great duke Richard: "Will you be able to find enough of such stone?" He answered: "Enough, lord." But he: "Lay this stone aside in a secure place, and send many workers to hew out the rocks, and construct many furnaces for the unslaked limestone for, once all the necessary preparations have been made, I will place that first stone as the beginning of the foundation in token of the erecting (note 11) of God's house."
       When the limestone had been prepared, and the stones hewed and collected, and the bricks artfully made up (how marvelous to see and to tell!), that most famed marquis finally constructed, according to the model of a marvelous shape, a shrine in honor of the holy Trinity, girded on every side with towers and marvelously doubly arched and artfully covered with linked-together bricks. After this he whitewashed it on the outside, however on the inside he painted a narrative history, and he graced the altars with gold and with gems obtained as great tribute, he constructed crosses of marvelous magnitude out of the very purest gold, to which he joined chalices both of great weight in gold and of great value, and he set before the sanctuary golden lampstands larger than the human figure. He made over to it golden censers of unheard-of size and value, and garments embellished by the Phrygian art of weaving with gold thread, not simply scalded in purples dyes, and he even added linens embroidered even more densely with gold and emeralds, and snow-white and purple ones covered with gold, and added pure silk embroideries of marvelous handicraft and, to serve Christ, he assembled a numerous multitude of clergy, daily receiving their prepared food and sweating in the wrestling-place of the active life.
       Indeed, with that sanctuary filled full with a plenteous abundance of religious stores and solemnly dedicated by episcopal benediction, he would remake at his own expense all the smashed churches situated in Norman or Frankish land. He would glitter with marvelous deeds, ones equitable and good, and the report of his liberality would spread profusely to far-flung regions. His mien, crowned with the ornament of astonishing beauty, would pour forth from his countenance a brightness like unto the brightness of the sun. Wherever his name would be heard, the highest esteem would be his, and all Gaul would wonder at his bountiful goodness. A vigorous cultivator of justice, he would flash with a love of compassion, and would both carefully conceal the lawsuits of all men within his own breast and defend rights for the sake of the pious repose (note 12) of the populace. He was most handsome in appearance, supplied with the very whitest hoary brows, the keenest glittering eyes and magnificent cheeks and nose, honored with a long and white (note 13) beard, tall in stature, polished in speech, filled with strength of soul and body, prolix in his goodness, extremely wise in his mind, fortified by God's grace and the sole assistance for everyone. For, raising up his friends, he would tread his arrogant enemies under foot and, cherishing his subordinates, he would crush those who were fierce and rebellious; no storm of wrath or discord would enter his heart in any bustling dissension, since the fixed anchor of his extremely wise mind would always be at hand for him in the salvation-giving steadfastness of its justice and judgment and charity and hope and faith. No breeze of adversity would fan his constant soul with any uproar, nor undermine his soul through the plenteousness of copiously-flowing and plentiful success. Moreover, when any seditious situations would spread in his realm by some variegated murmuring, he would calm them with his legal ordinances and his salvation-giving power. Indeed, his promise would be held firm by so vigorous a foundation of truth that a mountain would sooner withdraw or depart than his words be fruitless. Whatever he promised would abide, true, damaged by no action; likewise whatever he offered would endure, unbroken.

                            Apostophe to Robert

Beloved prelate, do you see
The enormous surplus of this patrician's goodness?
Beloved prelate, do you see
Him who deservedly grows in the eight signs of uprightness?
Beloved prelate, do you see
What the Evangelist writes concerning those twice twice-two                                                  blessed ones? (note 14)
Blessed prelate, do you see
Whatever your sire completed with his splendid deeds?
Blessed prelate, do you see
That there was no one better in words than he?
Beloved prelate, do you see
That there was certainly no one mightier in actions than he?
Beloved prelate, do you see
That there is no man more hallowed in thoughts?
Beloved prelate, do you see
That we have reached this point with sluggish and cheap writing?
Beloved prelate, do you see
The extremely beautiful subject matter and motive of these words?
Beloved prelate, do you see
That the statement of the subject is trifling, rustic, cheap?
Now hail, beloved prelate, now
Wrest his sweet deeds from this cheap statement!


1. Preferring the "ecclesias" of Rouen 1173.

2. Both, in turn, held the title of count of Eu.

3. According to other Norman historians, her name was Gunnor.

4. Preferring the "proclivo" of Bongars 390.

5. Preferring the "excessum" of Bongars 390.

6. Satrapes.

7. The monastery of Mont-St.-Michel.

8. Preferring the "aerumnosa" of Bongars 390 and others.

9. Psalm __________.

10. White lime.

11. Preferring the "erectionis" of Bongars 390 and others.

12. Preferring the "requie" of Rouen 1173 and others.

13. Canifera.

14. Gospel reference: _____________________.

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