The Anglo-Saxon Monk casts his eye over new translations of documents relating to William the Conqueror and William Rufus
It is my pleasure to announce that the other Monk has just completed a translation of two eleventh-century texts from Textus Roffensis, that wonderful medieval compilation, which I so often talk about, of laws and charters which date from 600 to the twelfth century. Along with his other translations thereof, it is published by Rochester Cathedral Research Guild.
The first of the texts is known as Articles of William I, and contains edicts issued by William the Conqueror.* Amongst these you will find rulings concerning murder, the selling of goods, trial by combat, and the preservation of the system of Anglo-Saxon hundred and shire courts.
For some inexplicable reason, Dr Monk's favourite, he tells me, is the forbidding of the penalty of hanging for crimes, though with the proviso that one may have instead one's eyes or testicles removed. Marvellous wisdom, I suppose.
*Scholars are not sure all the edicts can be directly attributed to William I.
The second text on offer is a remarkable story of royal sophistry. Going by the rather long title of William II grants the manor of Haddenham to Bishop Gundulf for which, in return, Gundulf builds Rochester Castle, it tells of the disobliging William Rufus (the Conqueror's third son and successor to his throne) who refuses to confirm a grant of land by Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, to abbot-bishop Gundulf and his poor monks at Rochester, unless he gets a hundred pound of silver in return.
Well, the cheek of it! I wouldn't mind so much if it were not for the fact, as the text observes, that this particular land, the manor at Haddenham, was in reality already in the possession of Gundulf, for the king's father had given it to Lanfranc after the conquest of England (best not dwell on that too long), and, as it was up to Lanfranc to do with it as he pleased, he had generously granted it to Gundulf and the monks. May they be blessed, blessed ones.
Now, I wouldn't want to spoil the rest of the story but I will just add that the king gets a spanking brand new stone castle out of all this willful chicanery. What a snake!
Now, if you have any questions about the two Williams and their various rulings, please feel free to post a comment. Don't expect me to reply, however; I shall forward them to the other Monk. May you all be blessed!