Rollo Is Given Normany and More
An escaping Norman group came to Lèves and stealthily went to the higher reaches of the hill. But Ebalus and his men came to Lèves in the evening. Ebalus cursing the Franks and the Burgundians:
"You began the battle without me. I am going to be reviled by all who hear of it. I would have preferred to die than to miss the battle."
The Franks and Burgundians told Ebalus he complained without cause:
"Something of the combat still awaits you. Normans who were put to flight in the battle, went to the top of that hill for protection. Go there and dash their arrogance to pieces. Avenge the blood of the Franks and Burgundians on this field."
At these words, Ebalus climbed the hill with his followers, but the Normans injured his men with darts. Ebalus' men tried to climb the hilltop. However, the Normans would cast them headlong to the base of the hill. Ebalus' men then carried to the hill the walls and fences that the Dacians had made to try to capture the city. But the Normans carried off from them those walls and fences and defended themselves with them.
Meanwhile, the crowd of Franks has been waiting for the end of the strife. Thus Ebalus, seeing that the combat he had begun would not profit him, went to duke Richard, who had pitched his camp in the battle-field. The army had by now has surrounded the hill, so that no one would be able to slip away.
The Normans, finding themselves surrounded, said to one another:
"If we wait until tomorrow, we may all be slain by the sword."
One man, born of the Frisian nation, who was trusted by them unconditionally, said to those who were dreading death:
"Listen! In the silence of the dead of night, some of us will get down stealthily from the hilltop and sound trumpet-blasts outside around their tents. Once the sound of the war-trumpets is heard, they will flee, fearful and struck senseless and quaking, and scattered here and there, believing that our duke Rollo is at hand. Then we will descendi from the hill and rush upon the encampments of the leaders . Roughly vanquishing them, we will pass through their middle and hasten to go to our lord, and in this way we will escape death."
"Your advice is appropriate. It is better for us to slip away than to linger here and die or be taken alive and badly punished."
In the silence of the dark nigh some of them went down from the hill and, crossed stealthily through the tents and come to the other side of them. There they began to sound war-trumpets outside the tents and strike sudden terror by it. The rest of the Normans slipped fleetly from the hill, with great uproar and great crashing of shields, and attacked Richard who was sleeping deeply in his tent.
And so, battling and crossing through the centre of the army, they hastened away. They came upon the Eure, wearied, and halted at a high place surrounded by a marsh. No one was chasing them, for the greatly terrified army they had escaped from, had begun to move to and fro, thinking Rollo was at hand. In terror, Ebalus had even sought out the house of a certain fuller and had hid away in it for a while. However, at daybreak the army saw their foes had left the mountain, and pursues them to where they lingered. But the Normans had by then killed many animals that they brought with them to the high place in the marsh. They snatched and skinned the halved hides of the animals and made a fortress around themselves out of those cadavers. They also piled up the torn off skins on top of another on the outside of this fortress, so that neither senseless horses nor marvelling horsemen would approach.
When the pursuing Franks and Burgundians came there and saw the citadel hedged in by the bodies of horses, oxen, asses, goats and sheep, and the bloody skins hanging on the outside, they said to one another:
"Who will attack those men?"
That said, everyone went back to his dwelling, and the Normans to their ships. Rollo, seeing his warriors, said to them with joy:
"How did you escape from those battles?"
Then they told Rollo everything that happened. Rollo got enraged and began to lay waste and burn land again. In a short time, none was safe and sure to survive. The state was brought to nothing and the churches were foresaken. Then the Franks, who understood they did not have the strength to resist the pagans and that all of Francia was coming to nothing, came to the king and said:
"Why do you not aid the realm? We have been unable to get peace by war or by any obstacle of diligent defense. So why not get it through conciliation? The land in the Frankish region is almost a desert, for its populace is either dying by famine or sword, or perhaps taken captive. Protect the realm, if not by arms, then by conciliation."
Then king Charles said to them:
"Give me some advantageus advice, then."
"In order that the people might rest in peace, let the land from the river Andelle to the sea be given to the Normans and join your daughter to Rollo in sexual union. As a result of this you will be able to prevail against those nations opposing you. For Rollo, of handsome countenance, a cruel foe to whomever he opposes, as the circumstance demands, is abundantly supplied and filled full with manly virtue, circumspect concerning secrets, and unremittingly surrounded by the thickest crowd of warriors."
Advised by them, Charles without delay sent archbishop Franco of Rouen to Rollo. Coming to him, he addressed him at first with flattering words:
"Will you strive all your life, count, against the Franks, will you always do battle against them? King Charles has been persuaded by his followers to give you this maritime land, exceedingly ravaged by Anstign and by you, and he will also give you his daughter Gisla as your wife. You will hold this realm in perpetuity."
Hearing this, Rollo called together the older men who followed him and told what the bishop has offered to him. Then Rollo's men said to him:
"This completely deserted land is crammed in places with trees, cut by rivers filled with fish, is rich in game, not unacquainted with vines. On one side is the sea that will provide an abundance of diverse things. From the other side comes rivers. If a crowd of men were in the habit of using it, it would be intensely fertile and fruitful, and adequate and appropriate for us to dwell in.
The king's daughter that is offered you, is elegant and prudent, easy in conversation, most courteous in speech. It is fitting that she will be bound to you in sexual alliance. Be mindful of the explanations of your dream; in our opinion, it will come true in this territory. We have battled and vanquished the Franks enough. To us it seems easonable that we should rest and enjoy the fruits of the land. Send the bishop back to the king to say that you are ready, if he should give you what he has promised. Guarantee him a three-month peace, and let him come to meet you at a conference if he wishes during that peace period to put you at ease."
At once Rollo announced this to the bishop and sent him back to the king to say these things to him and the gathered bishops, counts and abbots:
"Rollo, duke of the Normans, says: If you were to give him your daughter, as you said, as his consort, and that maritime land as an eternal holding from generation to generation, he will be at your service. Greatly strengthened through him, you will be able to grow strong and to check the commotions of those opposing you and and causing strife against you."
The Franks rejoiced and prompted the king to give his daughter and the land to Rollo. Much was arranged. Archbishop Franco of Rouen went to Rollo and told him what happened.
When duke Robert heard that king Charles had given his daughter to Rollo and they had been reconciled with each another and made their peace, he sent a messenger to say entreating words to Rollo:
"Robert, duke of the Franks, has heard of the concord between you and the king, and he is greatly delighted by it. It is appropriate for you and your followers to rest and rebuild the land given to you. Restore towns and walls, and live in perpetual peace."
On the advice of bishop Franco and of his counts, Rollo said to all that:
"I wish to accord with the king and with the Franks. So let him come to the designated conference and redeem me, immersed in the fountain. Let him be as a father to me, and I will be as a son to him. Let him assist me, if need be, as a father does a son, I him, as a son does a father. Let him rejoice in my prosperity, let him be saddened by my adversity."
The go-between reported to duke Robert what he had heard.
In time all came at the established time to the prescribed place, which is called St. Clair. Rollo's army settled down on this side of the river Epte, and the army of the king and Robert on the other side. At once Rollo sent the archbishop to say this to the king of the Franks:
"Rollo cannot make peace with you, for the land which you wish to give him is untilled by the ploughshare, entirely stripped of flocks of sheep and cattle, and deprived of men there. There is nothing in it he might live by except by rapine and booty-taking. Give him some realm where he might collect food and clothing for himself, until the land you are giving him is filled with a mass of wealth and imparts the timely fruits of victuals, men and animals. Furthermore, he will not be reconciled to you unless you have sworn by the land you are about to give, with an oath of the Christian religion, you and the archbishops and bishops, the counts and abbots of the whole realm, that he himself and his successors may occupy the land from the river Epte to the sea as their estate and as their heritable estate for eternity."
Robert, duke of the Franks, and the counts and bishops and abbots who were there, said to the king:
"Unless you give him what he wants you may not keep this count in your service. Let not your whole realm and of the church be annihilated by the assault of an inimical army."
Then the king wished to give Rollo the Flemish land to live from, but Rollo was unwilling to accept it because that land was extremely marshy. So the king pledges to give him Brittany, which bordered the land already promised. At once, Robert and bishop Franco reported all this to Rollo and brought him to king Charles.
The admiring Frank said to one another:
"That is the duke, so powerful! so valorous! so resolute and discreet! so hard-working! And who has carried out such great battles against the counts of this realm."
At once Rollo placed his hands in the king's hands, and the king gave him his daughter Gisla as his wife, as well as the land from the river Epte to the sea, as a heritable estate and all of Brittany to live from.
The bishops said to Rollo, who was unwilling to kiss the king's foot:
"Whoever receives such a gift, ought to kiss the king's foot."
"I will never kneel before the knees of another, nor will I kiss anyone's foot."
Thus, urged by the prayers of the Franks, he ordered a certain warrior to kiss the king's foot. The warrior at once laid hold of the king's foot, brought it to his own mouth and planted a kiss on it while standing upright, and caused the king to topple backwards. It gave rise to great laughter and great uproar among the people.
King Charles and duke Robert and the counts and chief prelates and abbots swore to Rollo, with an oath of the catholic faith on their life and limbs and the honour of the entire realm, that he would have and hold the designated land, and his heirs would inherit it, and a succession of his descendants from generation to generation would have and tend it throughout the course of all time.
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© 2019, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]