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:


[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.