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either chronicler or poet (and which confirms Wace's narrative remarkably) in the celebrated Bayeux tapestry which represents the principal scenes of Duke William's expedition, and of the circumstances connected with it, in minute, though occasionally grotesque details, and which was undoubtedly the production of the same age in which the battle took place, whether we admit or reject the legend that Queen Matilda and the ladies of her court wrought it with her own hands in honor of the royal conqueror.'
Let us therefore suffer the old Norman chronicler to transport our imaginations to the fair Sussex scenery northwest of Hastings, as it appeared on the morning of the fourteenth of October, seven hundred and eighty-five years ago. The Norman host is pouring forth from its tents, and each troop and each company is forming fast under the banner of its leader. The masses have been sung, which were finished betimes in the morning; the barons have all assembled round Duke William; and the duke has ordered that the army shall be formed in three divisions, so as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in three places. The duke stood on a hill where he could best see his men; the barons surrounded him, and he spake to them proudly. He told them how he trusted them, and how all that he gained should be theirs, and how sure he felt of conquest, for in all the world there was not so brave an army, or such good men and true as were then forming around him. Then they
11. The celebrated Bayeux tapestry is a piece of embroidery 230 feet long and about 20 inches wide. It contains over 1500 figures with Latin inscriptions. It was found in the cathedral at Bayeux, and is still preserved in the library in that city.
cheered him in turn, and cried out, " You will not see one coward; none here will fear to die for love of you, if need be.' And he answered them, 'I thank you well. For God's sake, spare not; strike hard at the beginning; stay not to take spoil; all the booty shall be in common, and there will be plenty for every one. There will be no safety in asking quarter or in flight; the English will never love or spare a Norman. Felons they were, and felons they are; false they were, and false they will be. Show no weakness toward them, for they will have no pity on you; neither the coward for running well, nor the bold man for smiting well, will be the better liked by the English, nor will any be the more spared on either account. You may fly to the sea, but you can fly no farther; you will find neither ships nor bridge there; there will be no sailors to receive you; and the English will overtake you there, and slay you in your shame. More of you will die in flight than in battle. Then, as flight will not secure you, fight, and you will conquer. I have no doubt of the victory; we are come for glory; the victory is in our hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we so please.' As the duke was speaking thus and would yet have spoken more William Fitz Osber rode up with his horse all coated with iron: 'Sire,' said he, 'we tarry here too long; let us all arm ourselves. Allons! allons!'12
"Then all went to their tents, and armed themselves as they best might; and the duke was very busy, giving every one his orders; and he was courteous to all the vassals, giving away many arms and horses to them. When he prepared to
12. Allons! means Forward!
arm himself, he called first for his hauberk, and a man brought it on his arm, and placed it before him, but in putting his head in, to get it on, he unawares turned it the wrong way, with the back part in front. He soon changed it; but when he saw that those who stood by were sorely alarmed, he said: 'I have seen many a man who, if such a thing had happened to him, would not have borne arms, or entered the field the same day; but I never believed in omens, and I never will. I trust in God, for he does in all things his pleasure, and ordains what is to come to pass according to his will. I have never liked fortune-tellers, nor believed in diviners; but I commend myself to Our Lady. Let not this mischance give you trouble. The hauberk which was turned wrong, and then set right by me, signifies that a change will arise out of the matter which we are now stirring. You shall see the name of duke changed into king. Yea, a king shall I be, who hitherto have been but duke.' Then he crossed himself, and straightway took his hauberk, stooped his head, and put it on aright; and laced his helmet, and girt on his sword, which a varlet brought him. Then the duke called for his good horse-a better could not be found. It had been sent him by a king of Spain, out of very great friendship. Neither arms nor the press of fighting men did it fear, if its lord spurred it on. Walter Giffard brought it. The duke stretched out his hand, took the reins, put foot in stirrup, and mounted; and the good horse pawed, pranced, reared himself up, and curveted. The Viscount of Toarz saw how the duke bore himself in arms, and said to his people that were around him, 'Never
have I seen a man so fairly armed, nor one who rode so gallantly, or bore his arms, or became his hauberk so well; neither any one who bore his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse and managed him so nobly. There is no such knight under heaven! a fair count he is, and fair king he will be. Let him fight, and he shall overcome; shame be to the man who shall fail him.'
"Then the duke called for the standard which the pope had sent him, and he who bore it having unfolded it, the duke took it and called to Raol de Conches. 'Bear my standard,' said he, 'for I would not but do you right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard-bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.' But Raol said that he would serve the duke that day in other guise, and would fight the English with his hand as long as life should last. Then the duke bade Galtier Giffart bear the standard. But he was old and white-headed, and bade the duke give the standard to some younger and stronger man to carry. Then the duke said fiercely, 'By the splendor of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need.' 'Sire,' said Giffart, 'not so! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony toward you; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both hired men and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have; and, if God please, I will serve you; if need be, I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.
"By my faith,' quoth the duke, 'I always loved thee, and now I love thee more; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days.'
Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To him he delivered the standard; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance on this account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance forever.
"William sat on his war-horse, and called out Rogier, whom they call De Montgomeri. 'I rely much on you,' said he; 'lead your men thitherward, and attack them from that side. William, the son of Osber, the seneschal, a right good vassal, shall go with you and help in the attack, and you shall have the men of Boilogne and Poix, and all my soldiers. Alain Fergert and Ameri shall attack on the other side; they shall lead the Poitevins and the Bretons, and all the barons of Maine; and I, with my own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in the middle throng, where. the battle shall be the hottest.'
"The barons, and knights, and men-at-arms were all now armed; the foot-soldiers were well equipped, each bearing bow and sword; on their heads were caps, and to their feet were bound buskins. Some had good hides which they had bound round their bodies; and many were clad in frocks, and had quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights had hauberks and swords, boots of steel, and shining helmets; shields at their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their cognizances, so that each might know his fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman, nor Frenchman