Deeds of the ninth year of Phillip king of the Franks
66. In the year of the Lord 1189, in the month of May, king Phillip "semper Augustus" marched his army to Nogent and there captured La Ferté-Bernard [Sarthe] with four other very strong castles and took with a mighty hand the very strong city of Le Mans, out of which he chased with a fair degree of disgrace Henry king of England with 700 armed knights.n1 He then turned in pursuit with a select group of warriors to the castle of Chinon, a very powerful and well fortified keep, which he took with much labor thanks to the miners he had brought with him undermining the wall. A few days later, he led his army off towards the city of Tours and pitched tents there on the banks of the Loire. The king on his own then examined the river and, by prodding the waters with a lance, something unheard of by laymen (a seculis), found a ford, placed markers in the river on left and right so that the whole army could ford it between the two lines of markers after him, and was himself first to cross the Loire before anyone else. The whole army seeing the diminution of the waters (which happened miraculously in a moment) at once pulled up their stakes, struck their tents, and all from the least to the greatest followed the king across the ford. When all had gathered with their equipment and utensils, the waters of the river reverted to their previous state! The citizens of Tours were afraid of the king when they saw this. And this happened on the eve of St. John the Baptist [June 23].While the king was surveying the city's fortifications, his camp-followers (ribaldi) accustomed to be the first to charge battlements, seeing what he was doing, mounted an improvised assault, scaled the walls with ladders and took the city. When the king heard of this, he and the whole army received the city complete, placed a garrison (custodes) over it, and gave solemn thanks to God for several days there.
Of the death of Henry king of England
67. Twelve days later, on the octave of the apostles Peter and Paul, Henry king of England died at Chinon. [July 6 1189] He had been quite successful up to the times of Phillip king of the Franks, whom the Lord placed in his mouth as a bridle (or curb)n2 in vengeance for the blood of the blessed Thomas of Canterbury, so that through this harassment He should give him understanding and bring him back into the bosom of Mother Church. He was buried at Fontevrault in the nunnery. He was succeeded by his son, Richard count of the Poitevins. At Richard's first entry into Gisors the same year the whole castle burnt down; on his departure from that castle the next day the wooden bridge broke under his feet, so that, though all his companions crossed safely, Richard fell with his horse into the moat. A few days later [July 22 at Gisors] the peace which had been negotiated between king Phillip and king Henry (now taken from our midst) was perfected and completed. King Phillip then for the good of peace returned to Richard king of England the city of Tours and Le Mans and even Châteauroux with its whole fee. For this, king Richard renounced (quitavit) in perpetuity to Phillip king of the Franks the whole fee attached to "Crazzacum" and all the fees attached to "Eisenoldum" and all those which he had in Auvergne.
Of the death of the queen, wife to king Phillip
68. In that same year 1189, the tenth of Phillip's reign, on the ides of March, , queen Elizabeth, wife of Phillip king of the Franks died [March 15 1190, in childbirth]and was buried in the church of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in Paris [Notre Dame]. Maurice the venerable bishop of Paris erected an altar in the same church to her memory, and the most Christian king "semper Augustus" at the urging of his piety established there in perpetuity for the remedy of her soul and those of all her predecessors two priests, to each of whom he assigned each year for ever fifteen pounds Parisn3 for their food.
That king Phillip received in the church of Saint-Denis the staff and scrip (sporta) of pilgrimage
69. In the year of the Lord 1190, on the feast of St. John the Baptist, came to the church of the blessed martyr Denis with the greatest company to receive license. For the kings of the Franks had been accustomed of old that, whenever they took up arms against their enemies, they carried with them the banner from the altar of the Blessed Denis for their safety and protection and placed it in the first rank of the fighting.n4 Oftentimes, when their opponents saw this and recognized it, they were terrified and turned tail. The most Christian king therefore humbly prostrated himself in prayer on the marble pavement before the bodies of the holy martyrs Denis, Rusticus and Eleutherius, and commended himself to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy martyrs and all the saints. When at length he arose tearfully from his prayers, he received with great devotion the pilgrim's scrip and staffn5 from the hand of William, archbishop of Rheims, his uncle and legate of the apostolic see. He then accepted with own hands standing on the bodies of the saints (?) two exceedingly fine silk battle standards and two great banners properly embroidered with orphrey crossesn6 Finally commending himself to the prayers of the monks, he accepted the benediction of the key and the Crown of Thorns and the arm of St. Simeon, and left reaching Vezelay with king Richard on the Wednesday after the octave of St. John the Baptist. [July 4] There he received the license of all his barons, he entrusted the custody of the whole kingdom of the Franks along with his most beloved son Louis to his very dear mother Adela and his uncle William, archbishop of Rheims. A few days later he came to Genoa where he had ships and all the necessary supplies and utensils most carefully prepared. Richard king of England set sail from Marseille with all his men. Thus the said catholic kings committed themselves to the winds and sea to defend holy Christianity and for love of our Lord Jesus Christ and came to Messina despite many and great dangers.
[Phillip's testament and regency arrangements]
70. Before king Phillip left the kingdom of the Franks, however, he summoned his friends and intimates to Paris and drew up a testament and ordinance for the whole realm in the following words:
- In the name of the holy and individual Trinity, amen. Phillip by the grace of God, king of the Franks. The royal office exists to provide for the needs of subjects by all means and to place the public before (the king's) private interest. Since, therefore, we have embraced with deep desire a vow for our pilgrimage to aid the Holy Land with all our strength, we have decided on the counsel of the Most High to set down how the necessary business of the kingdom should be managed in our absence and to make final dispositions for our life in case we should we end it on the way.
- In the first place, we order that our baillis through the prévôts in our (potestatibus) place four prudent men, lawful and of good reputation, without whose counsel (or as a minimum that of two of them) the business of each town is not to be carried on, except that we appoint six trustworthy and lawful men for Paris whose names are these, T[hibaud le Riche], A[thon de la Grève], E[brouin le Changeur], R[obert de Chartres], B[audoin Bruneau?] and N[icolas Boisseau].
- And we have placed in our lands which are specified by name baillis, who are to fix each month in their bailliage [bailiwick] one day to be called an assize, on which all those who put forward a complaint (clamorem) are to receive their right through them (the baillis) and to get justice without delay, and we too are to get our rights and our justice. The fines (forefacta) which are our own are to be registered (scribentur) there.
- In addition we will and command that our most dear mother, queen A., with our dearest uncle and faithful vassal William, archbishop of Rheims shall fix a day once every four months, on which they will hear the complaints of the men of our realm in Paris and determine them to the honor of God and in the interests of the realm.
- We command too that on that day there be before them from each of our vills the baillis who will hold the assizes, so that they may report in their presence on the business of our land.
- If, moreover, any of our baillis should err (deliquerit), otherwise than by murder or rape or homicide or treason, and this is established as fact by the archbishop and queen and by the others who are present to hear the misdeeds (forefacta) of our baillis, we command them to inform us by letters each year and three times a year which bailli has so erred, what he did, what he received and from whom, whether money or gift or service, on account of which our men lost their right or we lost ours.
- Our baillis shall similarly inform us concerning our prévôts.
- The queen and the archbishop may only remove our baillis from their bailliages for murder or rape or homicide or treason. Nor can the baillis remove the prévôts except for one of those offenses. But we shall by God's counsel take on them such retribution, after the aforesaid men have reported to us the truth of the matter, as should reasonably deter others.
- The queen and the archbishop shall similarly inform us on the state of our realm and its business three times a year.
- Should any royal episcopal see or abbey chance to fall vacant, we will that the canons of the vacant church or the monks of the vacant monastery come before the queen and the archbishop, as they might have come before us, and seek from them a free election, and we sill that they grant them this without argument (sine contradictione). But we warn the both canons and monks to choose the kind of shepherd who will please God and be helpful (utilis) to the realm. The queen and the archbishop are to hold the regalia in their hand in the meantime, until the elect is consecrated or receives benediction and the regalia are then to be rendered up to him without argument.
- We command in addition that should any prebends or ecclesiastical benefice fall vacant when the regalia come into our hand, the queen and archbishop should confer them on decent and literate men, as they best and most decently can on the advice of Brother Bernard, saving however any grants of ours which we have made to anyone by our letters patent.
- We also prohibit all prelates of churches and our men from giving any taille or other arbitrary exaction (toltam) while we are on God's service. And if the Lord God should do his will on us and we happen to die, we most strictly prohibit all the men of our land, both clergy and laity, from giving any taille or other arbitrary exaction until our son (whom may God deign to keep safe and sound for His service!) reaches by the grace of the Holy Spirit an age when he is capable of ruling the realm.
- Moreover, if anyone wishes to make war on our son and the rents that he has are inadequate, then all our men are to aid him with their bodies and goods (averis), and the churches are to give such aid to him as they were accustomed to give to us.
- In addition we prohibit our prévôts and baillis from arresting any man or his movable goods, so long as he is willing to give good sureties (fidejussores) that he will pursue justice in our court, except for homicide or rape or treason.
- We command besides that all our rents and services and offerings (obventiones) are to be carried to Paris at three dates: first on the feast of St. Rémi, secondly on the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, thirdly at Ascension. And all is to be handed over to our aforesaid burgesses and to P. the marshal. If any of them happen to die, G. de Garlande will substitute another in his place.
- Adam our clerk is to be present at receptions of movable goods (averi) and to register them. And each [of the ministers named earlier?] is to have every key for each chest in which our treasure (averum) is placed in the Temple, and one (to the) Temple (itself).From this treasure as much is to be sent to us as we order in our letters.
- If we happen to die on the road, we command that the queen and the archbishop and the bishop of Paris and the abbots of Saint-Victorn7 and Vaux-de-Cernay and Brother B.n8 should divide our treasure (thesaurum) into two parts. They should distribute one half to repair those churches which have been destroyed through our wars (guerras), so that God's service may be done in them. From the same half, they are to give to those who were ruined by our taxes (tallias) and give what remains to whomever they wish, those whom they believe to have done the most for the remedy of our soul and that of our father king Louis and of our ancestors. Concerning the other half, we command the keepers of our treasure (averi) and the all the men of Paris that they keep it for the use of our son until he come of an age when with God's counsel and his own good sense (sensus suo) he is capable of ruling the realm.
- But if both we and our son happen to die, we then command that our treasure (averum) be distributed by the hand of aforesaid seven men at their judgement for our soul and that of our son. We wish that, as soon as there is certainty about our death, our treasure (averum) be carried to the bishop of Paris' house and kept there and that what we have disposed be later carried out on it.
- We also command the queen and archbishop to retain all vacant honors in our gift, such as our abbeys and deaneries and certain other dignities, which they can decently do, and hold them in their hand until we return from God's service. And they should grant and assign those they cannot retain according to God and by the counsel of Brother B. and do this to the honor of God and the utility of the realm. If, however, we die on the road, we wish that they give the honors and dignities to those who seem more worthy.
- We have commanded that the present document be confirmed with the authority of our seal and the monogram (karactere) of the royal name appended below.n9 Done at Paris in the year of the incarnate word 1190, the eleventh of our reign, in the presence of those whose names are placed below, and with the seals of count Thibault our seneschal (dapiferi), Guy the butler, Matthew the chancellor, Raoul the constable. While the chancery was vacant ...
[Oeuvres de Rigord et de Guillaume le Breton, ed. H. Francoise Delaborde, I (Libr. Renouard: Paris, 1882).
Translation © Paul R. Hyams 1998]
1. June 12 1189.
2. It has been suggested that this phrase of Rigord's was the source of a later tradition in France that Henry II died by being strangled with his own hands and his bridle!
3. The pound (livre) was, like other units of money, in origin a measure of weight, usually the weight of silver pennies. The standard differed from one area to the next. The diffusion and influence of the pound of Paris is not to be under-estimated as a symbol of Capetian prestige. England, by contrast, had long enjoyed a single standard, the pound sterling.
4. This is the famous Oriflamme".
5. The scrip is a traveler's wallet or purse, which was, along with the staff and the badge of the target shrine, at the time an instantly recognizable symbol of pilgrimage.
6. Orphrey is embroidery with gold thread as used mostly to decorate ecclesiastical vestments.
7. This is the famous Brother Guérin.
8. This was Bernard de Bré (or Boschiac or Coudray), a monk of Grandmont, Corrector of the Bonshommes of Vincennes, mentioned more than once above, and one of Phillip's most influential advisers.
9. Rigord appears to have added a facsimile of this monogram to his text, copied into our manuscript.