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BISHOP ODO-EARL OF KENT.
by a subtile distinction as Earle of Kent, and not as Bishop of Bayeux, in regard of his holie orders; and afterwards, by a most dangerous rebellion which he raised, he was, by his nephew King William Rufus, deprived of his places of dignity, lost all his goods in England, and abjured the realme."
The rebellion in which he was concerned, and which proved fatal to this ambitious and intriguing prelate, is matter of local history. He was a formidable partisan, a man formed to be the leader of a conspiracy: he had many friends among the most powerful of the barons; and when Duke Robert promised to come over with an army to wrest the sceptre from his brother Rufus, Odo engaged to do the rest. At the Easter festival, Rufus kept his court at Winchester, and there he invited all the great lords to attend him.* Odo and his friends were also there, and took that opportunity of arranging his plans. From the festival he departed to raise the standard of Robert in his old earldom of Kent; while Hugh de Grantmesnil, Roger Bigod, Robert de Mowbray, Roger de Montgomery, William Bishop of Durham, and Geoffrey of Coutance, repaired to do the same in their respective fiefs and governments. Thus a sudden and dangerous rising took place in many parts of England. But the insurgents lost time; while the army from Normandy, which Odo was instructed to provide for, was slow in making its appearance.t Rufus, in the meantime, on hearing that warlike preparations were going forward in the very heart of his kingdom, permitted his subjects to fit out cruisers, which rendered him very important services; for the Normans calculated that there was no royal navy to oppose them, and that they would be received on landing by their confederates. The followers of Odo and his party began to cross the Channel in small companies, and so many were intercepted and destroyed by the English cruisers, that the attempted invasion was abandoned. The bishop, however, had fortified the castles of Rochester and Pevensey, and, fearful that no assistance might reach him from Normandy, prepared to stand a siege. Rufus now issued the proclamation already quoted-namely, “Let every man who is not a nithing† (cipher)
* History of England, Civil and Military.
him, Frencisce and Englisce, of porte and of upplande." # Ibid. - Pictor. Hist.-Paris.
Literally, “ordered that every man who is not a 1 In Anglo-Saxon, a niddering, or un-nithing, mere nothing, be he French or English, in town or “one of the strongest terms of contempt,” says country, should repair to him." Hist. of Eng. Civil Camden. The original expressions are, “Baed that and Military Transact. vol. i. 394. Nithing, -quod aelc man that waere un-nithing, sceolde cuman to Latinè nequam sonat : Paris, f. 15.
With this power
in the martial catalogue of his country, quit home and hearth, and hasten to join the standard of his sovereign!” To this appeal thirty thousand men responded,-men of the old Saxon blood, whom the conciliatory measures recently adopted by Rufus had brought over to his cause. ful army he marched against the bishop, who having delegated the command of Rochester Castle to Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, lay in the strong fortress of Pevensey, in expectation that Duke Robert and his Normans might still make good their landing on that part of the coast.
After a siege of seven weeks, Odo was obliged to surrender; and on taking an oath that he would place Rochester Castle in the king's hands, Rufus pardoned this act of rebellion, and dismissed him, with an escort of Norman horse, to Rochester, there to fulfil his engagement.* By a preconcerted plan, however, between Eustace and himself, means were taken to evade the performance of his oath; for while reciting the set form of words by which he demanded the surrender of the castle, Eustace, pretending great indignation at the proposal, arrested the bishop and his guards on the spot, as traitors to Robert, and carried them into the castle. The scene was well acted; and Odo, trusting to be screened from the accusation of perjury by the compulsory means employed against him, remained in the fortress as a witness, and, no doubt, an active partisan in the cause.t
Exasperated by such treachery, Rufus soon environed the castle with powerful army of infantry and horsemen. The castle, however, was strong and well garrisoned : five hundred Norman knights, without counting the meaner sort, fought on its battlements; and after a long siege the place was not taken by assault, but forced to surrender either by pestilential disease, by famine, or probably by both. The English, who had shown great ardour during the siege, would have granted no terms of capitulation; but the Norman portion of the king's army, who had friends and relations in the castle, entertained very different sentiments, and at their earnest entreaty, though not without difficulty, Rufus allowed the besieged to march out with their arms and horses, and freely depart the land. The unconscionable bishop, however, would have included in the capitulation a proviso that the king's army
Episcopum vero in posteriori castello Pevensey muro prospicientis, vultum episcopo cum militum interceptum, vinculis mancipavit. Milites autem verbis non convenire percipientes, ocyus apertis valvis regii ad castrum Roffenso illum ducentes, ab illis qui exeuntes, omnes cum episcopo milites vinctos reducastro præerant, ingressum postulant: hoc enim domi cunt . .. Obsessi autem longiorem obsidionem ferre num suum velle, hoc regem absentem jubere dicunt. non valentes, castellum regi reddiderunt. Par. Histo Erant autem tune in castro illo omnis fere juventutis Angl. fol. 15. Anglix et Normanniæ nobilitas, tres scilicet filii | History of England-Civil and Military Transacto comitis Rogeri, et Eustachius comes Bononie, junior, vol. i. cum multis aliis Illi vero qui in castro erant ex 1 Ibid. p. 395,
SECOND SIEGE OF THE CASTLE.
not cause their bands to play in sign of triumph as the garrison marched out; but to this the king replied, in great anger, that he would not make such a concession for a thousand marks of gold. The partisans of Robert then came forward with colours lowered, and the king's music playing the while. When Odo appeared, there was a louder crash; the trumpets screamed; and the English, scarcely able to keep their hands from his person, shouted as he passed—“Oh for a halter to hang this perjured murderous bishop !"* Such was Odo's last appearance in the earldom of Kent.
The next important epoch in the history of this fortress is the Siege, which carries us forward to the reign of King John—a reign of tumult and civil distraction, but relieved in its darker features by events which laid the foundation of British freedom. But the barons, as Hume has justly observed, having once obtained the Great Charter, seem to have been lulled into a fatal security. They took no rational measures, in case of the introduction of a foreign force, for reassembling their armies. The king was from the first master of the field, and immediately laid siege to the Castle of Rochester,
History of Eng. Civ. and Milit. Transact. vol. i. 395, quoting the authority of Thierry, Chron. Sax. Oderic.
Vitalis, &c. Also, Selecta Monum. 203–280. Paris, f. 15. 8.
of which, at the head of a hundred and forty knights with their retainers, William de Albini held the command. A few of the particulars are thus recorded by Holinshed :-"King John having recovered strength about him, and being advertised that William de Albiney was entered into the castle of Rochester with a great number of knights, men at arms, and other souldiers, hasted thither with his whole armie and besieged them within, enforcing himselfe by all waies possible to win the castell, as well by battering the walles with engines as by giving thereunto many assaults.' But the garrison within, consisting of ninety-and-foure knights, beside demilances and other souldiers, defended the place verie manfullie in hope of rescue from the Barons, which laie then at London; but they coming forward one daies journie unto Dartford, when they heard that the king was comming forward in good arraie for battel to meet them, upon consideration had of their own forces—for they were not able to match him with footemen—they returned backe again to the citie, breaking that assured promise which they had made and also confirmed by their solemn oaths; which was, that if the castell of Rochester should chance to be besieged, they would not faile but raise the siege.'
“At length they within for want of vittels were constrained to yield it up unto the king after it had been besieged the space of three-score daies ; during which time they had beaten back their enemies at sundrie assaults with great slaughter and losse. But the king having now got the possession of that hold, upon grief conceived for the losse of so manie men, and also because he had lien so long about it yer he could winne it to his inestimable cost of charges, was determined to have put them all to death that had kept it. But Sauveric de Mauleon advised him otherwise, lest, by such crueltie, the barons in any like case should be occasioned to use the same extremitie towards such of his people as by chance might fall into their hands. Thus
* Holinshed, fol. 188.
à vobis, ne contingat : quia tali conditione nullus in † The following passage illustrates the preceding vestro obsequio militaret. Tunc Rex, licèt invitus, facts:- Duraverat autem obsidio tribus ferè mensi- consilio ejus et aliorum virorum prudentum adquiesbus : unde Rex tum propter multitudinem interfec- cens, Willielmum de Albineto, W. de Lancastre, torum, tum propter infinitam pecuniæ summam, W. de Emeford, Thomam de Muletun, Osbertum quam in obsidione consumpserat, nimio furore suc- Giffard, Osbertum de Bonbi, Odinellum de Albineto, census, universos nobiles illos, sine misericordiæ et alios nobiliores misit ad Castrum de Corf, sub arcta consideratione, patibulo suspendi præcepit. Sed vir custodia deputandos. Robertum verò de Chaurna, nobilis Savaricus de Malloleone, in faciem Regi et Richardum Giffart, cum Thoma de Lincoln, apud resistens, ait : Domine Rex, guerra nostra nondum Castrum de Nothingham; aliosque per loca diversa finita est, unde vobis diligenter considerandum est, carcerali custodiæ mancipandos direxit. quàm varios eventus bello sortiantur. Nempe si “Servientes vero omnes, prætor balistarios, qui nobis istos nunc suspendio tradatis, Barones adver- multos in obsidione milites et servientes interfecesarii nostri, vel me fortè vel alios de exercitu vestro rant, patibulo suspendi præcepit. His ita gestis, pars nobiles intercipere potuerunt; et consimili casu in Baronum non erat mediocriter infirinata.”—Matt. Par. brevi et exemplo vestri suspendio tradere, quod absit Hist. Angl. fol. 268, et seqq.
CLOSE OF THE SIEGE-ALBINI.
the king spared William de Albiney and the other nobles and gentlemen, and sent them to Corfe Castle, and other places, to be kept as prisoners.
“Neverthelesse-as the booke that belonged to Bernewell Abbie saiththere was not any of them hanged, saving one arcubalister onlie, whome the king had brought up of a child. But, howsoever the king dealt with them after they were yielded, true it is (as by the same booke it appeareth) there had been no siege in those daies more earnestlie inforced, nor more obstinatlie defended : for after that all the limmes of the castelle had beene reuersed and throune downe, they kept the maister tower, till halfe thereof was also overthrowne, and after kept the other halfe, till through famine they were constreined to yeeld, having nothing but horsse-flesh and water to susteine their liues withall.”+
Of William de Albini, who had command of the castle garrison, and was the best officer among the confederated barons, the following anecdote is recorded : 1-Early one morning, after the fortunes of the besieged had become nearly desperate, and when Albini was making his usual round of the battlements, to see that all was in good order and every man at his post, he
The names here enumerated as the friends and ment to have expelled the old inhabitants, and to abettors of Albini were — William de Lancaster, have peopled it with strangers. But whether this was William de Emeford, Thomas de Muleton, Osbert so or not, sure it is that he was verie sorrowfull for Gifford, Osbert de Bobie, Odinell de Albiney, Robert the losse of this succor and aid which thus perished in Charnie, Richard Gifford, and Thomas de Lincoln— the seas, though it happened very well for his subnames which are variously spelt in the different chro- jects of England, that should have been sore oppressed nicles. - See the preceding note.
by such multitude of strangers, which for the most The following occurrence, as mentioned by the part must needs have lived upon the countrie, to the same historian, shows the force upon which King John utter undooing of the inhabitants wheresoever they had calculated, in addition to the powerful army with should have come.” which he actually beleaguered the castle :—“Here is I Una dierum dum obsidio castri Roffensis duraret, to be remembered, that whilest the siege laie thus at Rex et Savaricus circumibant castrum, ut infirmiora Rochester, Hugh de Boues, a valiant knight, but full ejus considerarent. Quos cùm cognovisset quidam of pride and arrogancie, a Frenchman borne, but optimus arcubalistarius Willielmi de Albineto, ait banished out of his countrie, came down to Calice illi: Placeat tibi, domine mi, ut occidam Regem with an huge number of men of warre and souldiers hostem nostrum cruentissimum spiculo hoc, quod to come to the aid of King John. But as he was habeo promptum? Cui ille: Non, non, absit gluto upon the sea with all his people, meaning to land at pessime, ut in sanctum Domini mortem procuremus. Dover, by a sudden tempest which rose at that in Et ille : Non parceret tibi in consimili casu. Turn stant, the said Hugh with all his companie was Willielmus: Fiat Domini beneplacitum: Dominus drowned by shipwracke. Soone after the bodie of the disponet, non ille. In hoc similis erat David parsame Hugh, with the carcases of other innumerable centis Saul, cùm occidisse potuit. Hoc posteà non both of men, women, and children, were found not latuit Regem, nec ob hoc voluit parcere capto, quin farre from Yermouth, and along that coast. There ipsum suspendisset, si permissum ei fuisset.—Matth. were of them in alle fortie thousand, as saith Matthew Paris. Hist. Angl. 270. Paris; for of all those which he brought with him, The above anecdote is also related in the “Adthere was (as it is said) not one man left alive. mirable Curiosities of Englande, 1682," with some
“The king (as the same went, but how true I know little difference in the expression. It is honourabig not) had given by charter vnto the said Hugh de to Albini, of whose character notice has already apBoues the whole countrie of Northfolke, so that he peared in this work.