Deeds of the seventh year of king Phillip of France
51. It happened in the seventh year of Phillip's reign, the twenty-second of his age (the year of the Lord's incarnation 1187) that king Phillip collected an innumerable army "in pago Bituricensi", and entered in strength the territory of Aquitaine, wasted that land took the castle called "Eisenoldum" and "Crazzacum" and destroyed many other fortifications and lands right up to Châteauroux. When they heard of this, Henry king of England and Richard count of Poitou collected a large army and dared to bring it to Châteauroux against the king of France their lord. For they wished if they could to chase away king Phillip and his army forcibly from the siege of Châteauroux. But instead they witnessed the constancy and great-heartedness of the Franks and found the castles prepared against them. King Phillip was indignant and had all his warriors set up a battle-line of fighting men against them. So in fear of the great-heartedness of king Phillip and the usual bravery of the Franks, they sent diligent and pious men with legates of the holy Roman church who had been sent to king Phillip at that time to restore peace to the parts of France. The messengers presented security and confirmed on behalf of the king of England and Richard his son that they would make full amends in all things concerning the whole dispute by judgement of the king of France's court. And when that was done and a truce declared, each went back to his own lands. [A two-year truce was concluded on June 23 1187. Richard broke this later.]
On the mercenary who struck an image of the Blessed Virgin
52. While the king was still besieging Châteauroux, there occurred another incident worth relating. One day Richard count of Poitou sent a multitude of mercenaries ["Coterellorum" can mean brigands] to aid Châteauroux. While there, they were deployed in front of the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and began to play dice with chips of mosaic. One of them, a son of iniquity full of the devil, burst out into blasphemies against the Blessed Virgin and God, because he was losing in an evil way the coins he had acquired by evil ways. He then raised his eyes in furious anger and and saw on the church porch an image of the most blessed virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms, in the way you often find sculpted in stone on churches to stir the memory and devotion of lay people (pro excitanda memoria seu devotione laicorum). When his eyes saw this, his grim look lightened, and (alas!) he redoubled his words of blasphemy at Our Lady and at God and then, this unhappy Judas in the sight of all threw at the image a stone which most vilely broke off the arm of the image of the child Jesus so that it fell to the ground. From the fracture point, as we have heard from many people who were present at the siege, blood flowed abundantly onto the ground; many bystanders collected this and with it earned cures from various sicknesses. John known as Lackland, the king of England's younger son, who had arrived there by chance sent by his father, carried off this bloody arm from the image in honor and reverence as a relic. But the unfortunate mercenary who had struck the image of the Blessed Virgin in so ignominious a fashion ended his life most wretchedly that very day, snatched by the demon who had previously been troubling him. The other mercenaries seing what had happened and crushed in fear, gave out praises to God who lets no crime go unpunished, and extolled the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, with immense praises, then left Châteauroux. The local monks saw miracles done there daily by God's power and so formally translated the image with hymns and prayers of praise inside the church, where many miracles are done to the present day to the honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On the messengers sent by the people of Jerusalem to the king of France
53. While these things were going on, messengers came from Outremer (de transmarinis partibus) to king Phillip and announced to him with groans and sighs that Saladin, king of Syria and Egypt, had because of the sins of the Christians invaded the Christian lands of Outremer, killed many thousand Christians in misery, cruelly put to the sword many Templars and Hospitallers with the bishops and barons of the land, taken the Holy Cross with the king of Jerusalem and within a few days of growing iniquity conquered the holy city of Jerusalem and the whole Promised Land, except for Tyre, Tripoli and Antioch and a few very strong castles which they could never have.
On the birth of Louis (VIII) son of Phillip Augustus
54. In the year of the Lord's incarnation 1187, on the fourth day of September, at the third hour, there was a partial solar eclipse in the eighteenth degree of the virgin that lasted two hours. On the next day, the fifth of September, Louis son of Phillip Augustus the renowned king of the Franks was born, on a Monday [actually Saturday!], at the eleventh hour of the day. The city of Paris where he was born was filled with such great joy by his birth that for seven days (and each night by the light of wax torches) the whole population of the city paying did not cease singing and dancing due praises to their creator. From the very hour of his birth, they sent out couriers through all the provinces to announce the joys of so great a king to strangers. They took immense pleasure in rejoicing and blessed with their praises the God who had deigned to raise up such a fine heir for the kingdom of the Franks.
On the frequent changes of popes
55. That same year, on the feast of St. Luke in October, pope Urban III migrated to the Lord after a year and a half on the papal throne. Gregory VIII succeeded him for a month and a half, and then in that same year there succeeded to him Clement III, a Roman by birth. [These details are not quite accurate. Urban's pontificate ran from November 25 1185 to October 20 1187, and Gergory VIII was elected October 21 and died December 17 1187.] And note that so frequent a change of popes could happen for no reason other than because of their sins and the disobedience of subjects unwilling to return through the grace of God. For concerning Babylon, i.e. the confusion of sinners, nobody comes back by his own strength or knowledge unless more is bestowed upon him to help him leave. (De Babylone enim, id est, de confusione peccatorum, nemo suis viribus aut scientia revertitur, nisi exeundi gratia desuper ei largiatur.) For the world grows old, it grows old with the whole exercise of its government (regiminis usus) and it declines into old age, and it slips back as if in a repeat of childhood, so that the flow (profluvium) of its will flows forth in everything. Note too that from the same year of the Lord when the Lord's Cross was captured by that same Saladin in Outremer, babies born from that time had only 22 teeth or even 20 when they used to have 30 or 32.
That at the prompting of God king Phillip and Henry king of England took crosses
56. At the celebration of the feast of St. Hilary on January 13th a conference was held between the king of France Phillip and Henry king of England, between "Tria" [Trie-Château, Oise or Triel-sur-Seine, Seine et Oise?] and Gisors, where it came about, by the Lord's miraculous workings and against everyone's expectations, those two kings by the secret inspiration of the Holy Spirit assumed the sign of the holy cross in the same place for the liberation of the Lord's holy sepulcher and of the holy city of Jerusalem, and many archbishops, bishops and counts, dukes and barons with them. Among them were Walter, archbishop of Rouen, Baldwin archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of Beauvais and Chartres, the duke of Burgundy, Richard count of Poitou, Phillip count of Flanders, Thibault count of Blois, Rotrou count of La Perhce, Guillaume des Barres count of Rochefort, Henry count of Champagne, Robert count of Dreux, the counts of Clermont Beaumont, Soissons, Bar, Bernard of St. Valèry, Jacques d'Avesne, the count of Nevers, Guillaume de Merlot and many others inflamed with God 's zeal whose names would be too long to list here. And the two kings piously erected in the same place a stone cross in memory of this deed and founded a church there, striking a perpetual alliance between them and calling the place "The Holy Field" because they were signed with the holy crosses there. And they assigned adequate rents for two priests to serve the Lord there, as we have learnt by the report of many, and granted the church with everything belonging to it to the nuns of Fontevrault to hold in perpetuity.
[Oeuvres de Rigord et de Guillaume le Breton, ed. H. Francoise Delaborde, I (Libr. Renouard: Paris, 1882).
Translation © Paul R. Hyams 1998]