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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

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Richard of Devizes
page 4

are given up for the restoring of the hostages. William, bishop of Worcester, who succeeded next to Baldwin, went the way of all flesh.

Sect. 16. The lord bishop of Winchester, at length recovering in Neustria, and also desiring to receive back the things taken from him, recrossed with all the speed he could, and found the chancellor besieging the castle of Gloucester. Whose arrival being known, the chancellor goes forth to meet him as he comes, and having heartily embraced and kissed him, says, "You have come at a most desirable time, dear friend are we to prosecute the siege or desist?" To whom the bishop replies, "If you desire peace, lay down arms." He, quick of apprehension, perceived the force of the words, and commanded the heralds to sound the retreat; he also restored to the bishop his patrimony without dispute, but that only. All the others, who had crossed the sea against the chancellor, profited less than nothing. William, legate of the Apostolic See, held a council at Westminster, in which, lest there should be nothing done to be reported of him hereafter, he sentenced all religion to be expelled from Coventry cathedral, and prebendary clerks to be substituted in place of the monks.

Sect. 17. William, the wonderful bishop of Ely, chancellor of the king, justiciary of the kingdom, of threefold charge and threefold title, that he might use both hands as the right, and that the sword of Peter might succour the sword of the ruler, took upon himself the office of legate of all England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, which he obtained from the pope at the instance of the king, who would not otherwise set out, by Reginald, bishop of Bath. Therefore successful in every office which he craved, he passed to and fro through the kingdom with the rapidity of a flash of lightning. The King of Darkness, that old incendiary, having added fresh fuel, fanned the ancient spark between the church of Salisbury and the monastery of Malmesbury into renewed flames. The abbot is roused not now to make the profession of pontiff, but to disavow the very title of the bishop as well as his crosier. Royal letters to the chancellor were obtained, by which the abbot should be compelled to respond at law to the motions of the bishop. Nor did the man whose affairs were at stake forget himself; no peril could ever overtake him unprovided, who never knew the loss of any thing through sloth. He repelled one nail by another, being presented by the king with letters invalidating the former letters. The chancellor having perceived the shameful contrariety of the mandates of his prince, lest the king's fame should be injured by the fact, if he proceeded in the cause, deferred all process of both the one party and the other till the king's return.

Sect. 18. King Richard exacted an oath from his two brothers, John, his own brother, and Geoffrey, a bastard, that they would not enter England within three years from his departure, the three years to be reckoned from the day of his starting from Tours; through the entreaties of his mother, however, dispensing so far concerning John, that passing into England with the chancellor's approbation, he should abide his judgment, and at his pleasure he should either remain in the kingdom, or live in exile. Queen Eleanor's dowry was recognized throughout the king's territories by a solemn act, and delivered up to her, so that she who had before lived on the Exchequer might thenceforward live on her own. The king's fleet, having left its own shores, sailed round Spain, and from the ocean having entered the Mediterranean, which further on is called the Grecian Sea, by the Straits of Africa, steered on to Marseilles, there to await the king. The king of France and the king of England, having held a council at Tours and again at Vezelay, and confirmed the treaty between themselves and their kingdoms, and having settled and disposed of all things on both sides according to their pleasure, depart from each other with their respective armies. The Frenchman, being subject to sickness at sea, marches by land to Sicily; the Englishman, on the contrary, about to proceed by sea, comes to Marseilles to his ships. Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, and Hubert Walter, bishop of Salisbury, being the only bishops of all England who accomplished their vows, follow the king to Sicily, and arrive first in the land of Juda.

Sect. 19. The monks of the order of Cluni were not wont to supplant one another in their priories and government either by entreaty or bribes, and although some of them have sometimes attempted something of that sort, that however we have seen visited with condign punishment. There was a certain venerable man elected prior of Montacute solely on account of his worth, Josceline by name, in whom you could discern nothing but what was praiseworthy. To supplant this so good a man there came a certain one, whose name it is not necessary to mention, one of his false brethren, with letters, obtained by great cunning from the abbot of Cluni, by which it was commanded that the prior should resign to the bearer of the present letters, and the congregation receive him for their prelate. The prior by some means foreknew what commodity the dealer had come to seek, wherefore, without awaiting the mandate, he vacated his seat in the chapter, and the congregation being present, addressed him, "Friend, for what art thou come?" He, having tarried long that he might appear unwillingly to receive that which he had come to take by violence, at length betook himself to his seat, and anon imprecated himself, saying, "O thou, who with unalterable purpose governest the world, whose power takes its pastime in human affairs, who puttest down the mighty and exaltest the humble O thou just judge Jesu Christ, if wrongfully I here preside, without delay and manifestly do thou vouchsafe to shew " Behold the miracle. On that same day he lost his speech; on the next, his life; on the third, being consigned to the earth, he learnt by experience, and taught by example, that sordid plunder is never followed by prosperous results. A certain monk of Glastonbury, in hopes of promotion, courted Earl John with many presents; but just as he should have come to receive it, a certain beam having suddenly given way, fell in his face, so that, bruised and wholly disfigured, he lost both his eggs (i.e. expectations) and his money together.

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