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From The Annals of Roger de Hoveden, Comprising the History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from A.D. 732 to A.D. 1201, Translated from the Latin with Notes and Illustrations by Henry T. Riley, Esq., Volume I, London: H.G. Bohn, 1853; pp. 169-181.

Volume I.

[Part 17: 1087-1094 A.D.]



On this, his son, William, repaired to England with all haste, taking with him Morcar and Wulnoth, but, shortly after his arrival at Winchester, he consigned them to the same strict confinement as before; after which, on the sixth day before the calends of October, being the Lord’s day, he was consecrated king at Westminster, by Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury. Then, returning to Winchester, he distributed the treasures of his father, as he himself had commanded, throughout England; that is to say, to some of the principal churches ten golden marks, to some six, and to some less. To each of the churches situate in country places1 he ordered five shillings to be given, and crosses, altars, shrines, text-books,2 candlesticks, chalices, pipes,3 and various ornaments, embellished with gold, silver,
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170 and precious stones, to be distributed among the most deserving churches and the monasteries.

His brother Robert, also, on his return to Normandy, bounteously divided among the monasteries, churches, and the poor the treasures which he found, in behalf of the soul of his father; and, after having knighted them, allowed Dunecald,4 the son of Malcolm, king of the Scots, and Ulph, the son of Harold, the former king of the English, whom he had released from confinement, to depart.

In the year 1088, a great dissension arose among the nobles of England. For a portion of the Norman nobility was in favour of king William; but the other, and larger part espoused the cause of Robert duke of Normandy, and desired to invite him to govern the kingdoms, and either deliver up William alive to his brother, or, putting him to death, deprive him of his kingdom. The chiefs in this execrable affair were Odo, bishop of Bayeux, who was also earl of Kent, Geoffrey, bishop of Constance, Robert, earl of Mortaigne,5 Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, and the chief men of eminence throughout the whole kingdom, with the exception of archbishop Lanfranc. This abominable deed they privately discussed during Lent, and, immediately after Easter, began to ravage the country each in his own neighbourhood, and plunder and pillage it, at the same time providing their castles with fortifications and provisions. Geoffrey, bishop of Constance, and Robert de Mowbray repaired to Bristol, where they had a very strong castle, and laid waste all the country as far as the place which is called Bathan.6

The nobles also of Hereford, and Shrewsbury, with a multitude of people from Wales, proceeded as far as Worcester, laying waste and destroying with fire everything before them. They intended, also, to have taken the church and the castle, which latter was at that period entrusted to the charge of the venerable bishop Wulstan. When the bishop heard of this he was greatly distressed, and, considering what plan he should adopt, had recourse to his God, and entreated Him to look down upon His church and His people, thus oppressed by their enemies. While he was meditating upon these things, his household sallied forth from the castle, and took and slew five hundred of them, and put the rest to flight.
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171 Roger Bigot entered the castle of Norwich, and spread devastation throughout the country.7 Bishop Odo, through whom these evils had arisen, proceeded into Kent, and laid waste the royal vills, and ravaged the lands of all those who preserved their fealty to the king and gained possession of the castle of Rochester.

On hearing of these things, the king caused the English to be assembled together, and, pointing out to them the treachery of the Normans, entreated them to give him their assistance, on condition that, if they should prove faithful to him in this emergency, he would grant them better laws, such as they should make choice of; he also forbade all unjust taxes, and returned to all their woods and right of venison; but, whatever he promised, he soon withdrew. The English however, then assisted him faithfully. Accordingly, the king assembled his army for marching on Rochester, where he supposed his uncle, bishop Odo, was; but, when they came to Tunbridge, they found the castle closely shut against the king. However, the English, boldly storming it, destroyed the whole castle, and those who were in it surrendered to the king. After this, the king with his army directed his course towards the castle of Pevensey; for bishop Odo had withdrawn from Rochester and fled to that castle, whither the king, with a large army, followed him, and besieged the castle for six entire weeks.

While these things were going on in England, Robert, duke of Normandy, had assembled a considerable force, and was preparing to send it to England, intending shortly to follow, as though making sure of England through the agency of bishop Odo and the others, who were his partisans there. But William the Younger had now taken measures of defence by sea with his cruisers, which slew many of them on their passage to England, and sank others at sea; so much so, that no man can tell the number of those who perished.

During the period of these transactions at sea, bishop Odo, and those who were with him, being compelled by hunger, surrendered the castle of Pevensey, and promised, on oath, that they would leave England and not enter it again, except
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172 with the leave of king William; they also engaged that they would first deliver up the castle of Rochester. But, when Odo had come to Rochester with the king’s men, who, on the king’s behalf, were to receive possession of the castle, he was immediately placed in confinement together with them, by those who were in the castle. Some persons assert that this was done by the cunning contrivance of the bishop. However, in this castle there were some valiant knights, and almost all the nobility of Normandy. There was also there, Eustace the Younger, earl of Boulogne, and many of the nobles of Flanders. When the king heard of this, he came with his army to Rochester, and laid siege to the city; upon which, after a short time, those who were in it surrendered; and thus the bishop, who was almost a second king of England, irrecoverably lost his dignity. But, on arriving in Normandy, he immediately received charge of the whole province8 from duke Robert. William, bishop of Durham, and many others also, took their departure from England.

In the year 1089, Lanfranc, the archbishop of Canterbury, departed this life, on the ninth day before the calends of July, being the fifth day of the week. In the same year, on the third day before the ides of August, being Saturday, about the third hour of the day, there was a very great earthquake throughout England.

In the year 1090, William the Younger, king of England, with the intention of taking Normandy from his brother Robert and subjecting it to his own dominions, first took the castle of Walter de Saint Valery, and the castle which has the name of Albemarle, and, afterwards several other castles, and placed knights in them, who committed ravages throughout Normandy. On seeing this, and discovering the faithlessness of his own people, duke Robert sent ambassadors to Philip, king of the Franks, his liege lord, who thereupon came into Normandy, and the king and the duke laid siege to one of the castles which was garrisoned by his brother’s troops. On this being told to king William, he secretly sent a considerable sum of money to king Philip, and, entreating him to desist from besieging it, succeeded in his object.

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In the year 1091, king William the Younger went over to Normandy in the month of February, with the design of taking it from his brother Robert; but, while he was there, peace was made between them by treaty, on condition that the duke should with good faith deliver up to the king the earldom of Eu,9 Feschamp, the abbey of Mount Saint Michael, and Keresburg,10 with the castles which had revolted from him, and that the king should reduce to subjection to the duke the province of Maine and the castles of Normandy, which were then making resistance to him. It was also agreed that the king should restore their lands in England to all the Normans who had lost them by reason of their fidelity to the duke, and should also give to the duke as much land in England as was then arranged between them. In addition to this, they came to an understanding that if the duke should die without a son lawfully born in wedlock, the king should be his heir; and, in like manner, if the king should happen to die, the duke should be his heir. Twelve barons on the king’s side and twelve on the duke’s guaranteed this treaty by oath.

In the meantime, while these matters were being treated of, their brother Henry,11 having raised all the troops he could, with the aid of some of the monks in the place, took possession of Mount Saint Michael, laid waste the king’s lands, and took prisoners some of his men, and spoiled others. In consequence of this, the king and the duke, assembling an army, besieged the Mount, during the whole of Lent, and had frequent skirmishes, and lost some men and horses. But the king, growing wearied of the protracted siege, retired without coming to terms, and, shortly after, dispossessed the Clito Edgar of all the honors which the duke had conferred upon him, and banished him from Normandy.

In the meantime, in the month of May, Malcolm, king of the Scots, invaded Northumbria with a large army. If he could only find provisions, his object was to make further inroads and commit acts of violence upon the people of England. But God ordained it otherwise; and therefore, he was impeded in his designs. The king, on hearing of this,
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174 returned to England with his brother Robert in the month of August, and shortly after, set out for Scotland with a considerable fleet and an army of horse, with the object of waging war against Malcolm; on coming to Durham, he restored bishop William to his see, three years on that very day after he had left it; that is to say, on the third day before the ides of September.

But before the king had reached Scotland, a short time previous to the feast of Saint Michael, nearly the whole of his fleet was lost, and many of his horse perished through hunger and cold; after which, king Malcolm met him with his army in the province of Loidis.12 On seeing this, duke Robert sent for the Clito Edgar, whom the king had banished from Normandy, and who was then staying with the king of the Scots, and, by his assistance, made peace between the two kings, upon the understanding that Malcolm should pay homage to him, as he had paid homage to his father, and that king William should restore to Malcolm the twelve towns which he had possessed in England under his father, and pay yearly twelve golden marks. But the peace that was made between them lasted only a short time. The duke also reconciled the king to Edgar.

On the ides of October, being the fourth day of the week, a violent flash of lightning struck the tower of the church of Winchelcomb, and made a wide opening in the wall, close to the roof; it split asunder one of the beams, and giving a severe blow to the image of Christ,13 hurled the head to the ground, and broke the right thigh. The image, also, of Saint Mary, which stood near the cross, was struck by the flash, and fell to the ground; after which, there followed a great smoke, with an excessive stench, which filled the whole church and lasted until the monks of the place, chaunting psalms, had gone round the buildings of the monastery with holy water and incense, and relics of the Saints.

In addition to this, on the sixteenth day before the calends of November, being the sixth day of the week, a violent whirlwind, coming from the south, blew down more than six hundred houses in London, and a considerable number of churches. It attacked the church which is called Saint Mary at Arches, and killing two men there, lifted the roof with the rafters aloft, and after carrying it to and fro in the air, at length fixed six of
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175 the rafters in the same order in which they had been originally inserted in the roof, so deep in the ground, that of some of them only the seventh, of some the eighth part, was visible; and yet they were seven or eight and twenty feet in length.

After this, the king returned from Northumbria through Mercia into Wessex, and kept the duke with him till nearly the Nativity of our Lord, but was not willing to fulfil the treaty that had been made between them. The duke being greatly annoyed at this, on the tenth day before the calends of January, returned to Normandy with the Clito Edgar.

At this period, according to the reports in England, there were two so-called popes of Rome, who, disagreeing as to their right to the title, divided the church of God into two parties; these were Urban, who was formerly called Odo, bishop of Ostia, and Clement, whose former name was Wibert, archbishop of Ravenna; this matter, not to speak of other parts of the world, had so greatly occupied the attention of the church of England for many years, that from the time that Gregory, also called Hildebrand, departed this life, up to the present period, it had refused to pay obedience or make submission to any pope; Italy and France, however, acknowledged Urban as the vicar of Saint Peter.

In the year 1092, the greater part of the city of London was destroyed by fire. On the nones of April, being the second day of the week, Osmund, bishop of Salisbury, with the assistance of Valcelline, bishop of Winchester, and of John, bishop of Bath, dedicated the church which he had built within the castle of Salisbury. Bishop Remigius also, who, with the sanction of king William the Elder, had changed the seat of his bishopric from Dorchester14 to Lincoln, wished to dedicate the church which he had built there, and which was well worthy of the bishop’s chair, as he perceived that the day of his death was close at hand. But Thomas, the archbishop of York, firmly opposed him, and asserted that the church was built in his province. King William the Younger, however, in consideration of a sum of money which Remigius gave him, gave orders to the bishops of nearly the whole of England to meet together on the seventh day before the ides of May and consecrate the church; but, two days before the time appointed,
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176 by the secret dispensation of God, bishop Remigius departed from this world, and the dedication of the church stood over for the present. After this, the king set out for the province of Northumbria, and rebuilt the city which in the British language is called Carleil,15 and in Latin, Lugubalia, and erected a castle there; for this city, with some others in those parts, had been destroyed two hundred years before, by the pagan Danes, and had remained desolate from that time until the present period.

In the year 1093, king William the Younger was attacked by a severe illness at a royal town which is called Alvestan, on which he repaired with all haste to Gloucester, and there lay ill throughout the whole of Lent. Thinking that he should shortly die, at the suggestion of the barons, he promised the Almighty to correct his mode of living, no longer to sell churches or put them up for sale, but to protect them with his kingly power, to destroy unrighteous laws, and to enact righteous ones. The archbishopric of Canterbury, which he had kept in his own hands, he gave to Anselm, the abbat of Bec, who was then in England, and the bishopric of Lincoln to his chancellor, Robert, surnamed Bloet.

A new church was commenced to be built at Durham, on the third day before the calends of August, being the fifth day of the week, bishop William, and Malcolm, the king of the Scots, and the prior Turgot, on that day laying the first stone of the foundation. On the day of the feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle,16 Malcolm, the king of the Scots, came to Gloucester, to meet king William the Younger, as had been previously arranged between their ambassadors, in order that, according
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177 to the wish of some of the chief men of England, peace might be renewed and there might exist a lasting friendship between them; they separated, however, without coming to terms. For William, in his excessive haughtiness and pride, contemptuously refused to see Malcolm or to treat with him. In addition to this, he also wished to force him to make redress in his own court solely according to the judgment of his own barons, but Malcolm utterly declined to do so, unless the conference were held upon the confines of the two kingdoms, where the kings of the Scots had been in the habit of making redress to the kings of England, and in conformity with the opinion of the nobles of both kingdoms. Shortly after these events, a very wonderful sign appeared in the sun.

In the same year, Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, Guido, abbat of Saint Augustine’s, and Paulinus, abbat of the church of Saint Alban, departed this life. This Paulinus, having by means of the violent conduct of earl Robert,17 effected an entrance into the church of Tynemouth, in spite of the prohibition of the monks of Durham, who had been the possessors of it, was there attacked with an illness, and died on his way home at Seteringtun.18 On the day of the feast of Saint Brice,19 Malcolm, king of the Scots, and Edward, his eldest son, were slain in Northumbria with their men, by the soldiers of Robert earl of Northumbria; in whose death the judgment of God is distinctly visible, from the fact that he and his men perished in the same province which he had been in the habit, at the dictation of avarice, of laying waste.

For, on five occasions he had afflicted it with dreadful ravages, and had carried off its wretched inhabitants in slavery; the first time in the reign of king Edward, when Egelwin was bishop of Durham, at the period when Tosti, the earl of Northumbria, had gone to Rome; the second time in the reign of king William, the above-named Egelwin being still bishop, on which occasion, Cleveland was laid waste; the third time, in the reign of the same king William, when Walcher was bishop of Durham, at which period he proceeded as far as the river Tyne, and after having slaughtered multitudes of men and burned many places, returned with a large amount of booty;
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178 the fourth time, in the reign of king William the Younger, when William was bishop of Durham, on which occasion, with an innumerable army, he came as far as Chester,20 with the full intention of proceeding further; but a small body of troops uniting against him, he returned with all speed from very fear.

The fifth time, having collected all the troops he possibly could, he invaded Northumbria, with the intention of reducing it to utter desolation, but was slain near the river Alne,21 by Morell,22 a most valiant knight, together with his eldest son, Edward, whom he had appointed his successor in the kingdom. A portion of his army died by the sword of the enemy, and those who escaped the sword were drowned in the inundations of the rivers, which were at that time unusually swollen by the winter rains. The body of this king and most blood-thirsty butcher, there being none of his own people to cover it with earth, two of the country-people placed in a cart, and buried it at Tynemouth; and thus it came to pass that in the very place where he had deprived multitudes of life, liberty, and possessions, by the judgment of God, he himself lost his life and possessions.

On hearing of his death, Margaret, queen of the Scots, was affected with such violent grief, that she suddenly fell extremely ill; immediately upon which, sending for the priests, she entered a church, and having confessed to them her sins, caused herself to be anointed with oil and to be provided with the heavenly viaticum, entreating the Lord with most urgent and repeated prayers, that he would not allow her any longer to remain in this world of misery. Her prayers were heard, for on the third day after the king’s death, she was released from the bonds of the flesh, and, as we have reason to believe, passed to the joys of everlasting salvation. For, during her life, she shewed herself a most devoted follower of piety, justice, peace, and charity; assiduous in her prayers, she mortified her body by watching and fasting, enriched churches and monasteries, and loved and honored the servants and handmaids of God; she broke bread to the hungry, clothed the naked, gave lodging,
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179 food, and raiment to all strangers who came to her, and loved God with all her heart.

After her death, the Scots chose23 as their king, Dufenald, the brother of king Malcolm, and expelled from Scotland all the English who belonged to the royal court. On hearing of this, Duncan, the son of king Malcolm, who was at that time in the service24 of king William, requested him to give him his father’s kingdom; and, on his prayer being granted, swore fealty to him, and immediately repaired with all haste to Scotland, accompanied by a multitude of English and Normans, and, expelling his uncle, Dufenald,25 from the kingdom, reigned in his stead. Shortly after, some of the Scots meeting together, cut off nearly the whole of his men; on which, with a few others, he made his escape. However, they afterwards allowed him to reign over them, on condition that he should no more introduce Englishmen or Normans into Scotland, or allow them to serve under him.

At this period, a meeting was held of nearly all the bishops of England, among whom Thomas, the archbishop of York, held the chief place; and on the second day before the nones of December they consecrated Anselm, abbat of Bec, archbishop of Canterbury. In the same year, William, earl of Eu, being overcome by his inordinate greediness for money, and allured by the magnitude of the honors promised him, revolted from his natural lord, Robert, duke of Normandy, to whom he had sworn fealty, and, coming to England, after acting the part of a guilty seducer,26 acknowledged himself a subject of king William.

In the year 1094, Robert, duke of Normandy, by ambassadors, informed king William that he should renounce the treaty
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180 which they had made; he also called him a perjured and perfidious man, if he should refuse to observe the compact which had been made between them in Normandy. In consequence of this, about the calends of February, the king went to Hastings, and while staying there, caused the church of Battle27 to be dedicated in honor of Saint Martin; there he also deprived Herebert,28 bishop of Thetford, of his pastoral staff; for he had secretly intended to go to pope Urban, to seek absolution from him, on account of the bishopric which he had purchased for himself, and the abbey he had bought for his father, Robert,29 from king William, for a thousand pounds. After this, at mid-Lent, the king went over to Normandy, and, a truce being agreed on, held a conference with his brother, but parted from him without coming to terms.

After this, they again met in the field of Mars; when those who, on oath, were to effect a reconciliation between them, laid all the blame on the king; on which he would neither admit his fault, nor observe the treaty. Being greatly enraged in consequence, they separated without coming to terms. The duke took his departure for Rouen, but the king returned to Eu, and there took up his quarters, and levied soldiers on every side; to some of the Norman nobles he gave gold, silver, and lands, and to some he promised them, in order that they might revolt from his brother Robert, and subject themselves, together with their castles, to his sway. Having accomplished all these matters to his wish, he distributed his soldiers among the castles which he had either previously held, or had then gained possession of.

In the meantime, he took the castle which is called Bures, and of the duke’s knights which he found therein, some he sent in captivity to England, and some he kept in confinement in
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181 Normandy; and, harassing his brother in every way, used his utmost exertions to deprive him of his patrimony. Accordingly, Robert, being compelled by necessity, brought his liege lord, Philip, king of the Franks, into Normandy with an army; on which the king laid siege to the castle of Argenton, and on the very same day, without any bloodshed, took seven hundred of the king’s knights, together with twice as many esquires,30 together with all the garrison of the castle, and ordered them to be kept in close confinement, until each should ransom himself, after which, he returned to France.

Duke Robert, however, besieged a castle which is called Holm, until William Peverel and eight hundred men who defended it surrendered to him. When this became known to the king, he sent messengers to England, and ordered twenty thousand foot soldiers to be sent to Normandy to his assistance; who being assembled at Hastings, for the purpose of crossing the sea, by the king’s orders, Ranulph took from them the money that had been given them to purchase provisions, namely, ten shillings from each man, and, ordering them to return home, sent the money to the king. In the meantime, the whole of England was afflicted with oppressive and unceasing taxes, and a great mortality of the people both in this and the following year.

In addition to this, first the people of North Wales, and then those of South Wales, throwing off the yoke of servitude by which they had been long oppressed, and lifting up their necks, struggled to regain their liberty. Accordingly, a great multitude having assembled together, they stormed the castles that had been founded in West Wales, and, in the provinces of Chester, Shrewsbury, and Hereford, burned the towns on every side, carried off plunder, and slew multitudes of English and Normans. They also stormed the castle in the Isle of Anglesey, and reduced it to subjection.

In the meantime, the Scots treacherously slew their king, Duncan, and some other persons, by the advice and entreaty of Dufenald, and then chose him again for their king. Shortly after, king William returned to England, on the fourth day before the calends of January, to wage war against the Welch, and immediately proceeded with his army into Wales, where he lost many men and horses.


 1   The words are “in villis sitis.” The allusion is to the parish churches throughout the country.

 2  This seems the best translation for “textos,” which means the book of the Gospels, which was generally adorned with gold and jewels, and kept in the treasury of the monastery, and laid on the altar on Saints’-days and Sundays.

 3  “Fistulas.” Allusion is made to the pipes which (in the early centuries of the church, when the Holy Eucharist was administered to the laity in both kinds,) were used by the communicants for the purpose of sucking the wine out of the cup. The object of this seems to have been that, by the use of several pipes, more than one might partake of it at the same time.

 4  V. r. Duncan.

 5  Half-brother of William the First.

 6  Bath.

 7  The words after “Norwich” here are adopted from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; as the text has “et omnes vicit in malum,” words which admit of no sense whatever, and are clearly erroneous.

 8  These words are succeeded by the following detached sentence, “cujus ordinem causæ libellus in hoc descriptus ostendit.” It is evidently corrupt, and capable of no exact translation; though it probably means, “the reasons for which will appear from what is previously stated.”

 9  Called “Owe” in the text.

10  Cherbourg.

11  Of course he would naturally be displeased at the little regard paid to his interests in the compact then being made.

12  Leeds.

13  On a crucifix.

14  In Oxfordshire.

15  Carlisle. Holinshed has the following remark upon a passage in Matthew of Westminster, “Here have I thought good to advertise you of an error in Matthew of Westminster, crept in either through misplacing the matter by means of some exemplifier, either else by the author’s mistaking his account of years, as 1072 for 1092, referring the repairing of Carlisle unto William the Conqueror, at what time he made a journey against the Scots in the said year 1072. And yet not thus contented; to bewray the error more manifestly, he affirmeth that the king exchanged the earldom of Chester with Rafe or Ranulf de Micenis, alias Meschines, for the earldom of Carlisle, which the said Meschines held before, and had begun then to build and fortify that town; whereas it is certain that Ranulf de Meschines came to enjoy the earldom of Chester by way of inheritance.”

16  V. r. The ides.

17  De Mowbray.

18  Called Colewich by Roger of Wendover, who calls the abbat Paul.

19  Thirteenth of November.

20  Chester-le-Street, in Durham.

21  In the vicinity of Alnwick, in Northumberland.

22  V. r. Merkell. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that he was steward to earl Robert.

23  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also mentions this election. Upon the passage, Mr. Ingram, the Translator, observes, “From this expression, it is evident that, though preference was naturally and properly given to hereditary claims, the monarchy of Scotland, as well as of England, was in principle elective. The doctrine of hereditary, of divine, of indefeasible right, is of modern growth.”

24  “Militabat.” The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that he had been given by his father as a hostage to king William.

25  The name which we call “Donald.”

26  “Ut seductor maximus.” He had probably seduced others from their loyalty to duke Robert; if, indeed, the reading here is correct, which is very doubtful.

27  Battle Abbey, which had been commenced by William the Conqueror.

28  This was Herbert de Losinga; whose letters, which were supposed to be lost, have recently been discovered. Roger of Wendover gives a different version of this story; he says, “In 1094, Herebert, surnamed Losinga, was abbot of Ramsey, but he now by purchase procured himself to be made bishop of Thetford; but afterwards, in penitence for his crime he went to Rome, where he resigned his simoniacal staff and ring into the hands of the pope; but by the indulgence of the Holy See, he received the same back again, and returning home, transferred his see to Norwich, where he established a congregation of monks.”

29  His father was, probably, one of the secular clergy.

30  “Scutariis.”


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