- Written by Seán Ó Séaghdha Seán Ó Séaghdha
- Published: 12 September 2017 12 September 2017
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m·c·xxxvii·Ðis gære for þe king Stephne ofer sæ to normandi ⁊ther ƿes underfangen, forþi ðat hi ƿenden ðat he sculde ben alsuic alse the eom ƿes, ⁊ for he hadde get his treſor· ac he todeld it ⁊ scatered sotlice. Micel hadde Henri king gadered gold ⁊ syluer, ⁊ na god ne dide me for his saule tharof. Þa þe king Stephne to Englaland com, þa macod he his gadering æt Oxeneford. ⁊ þar he nam þe biscop Roger of Serebyri ⁊ Alexander biscop of Lincol ⁊ te canceler Roger hise neues, ⁊ dide ælle in prisun til hi iafen up here castles. Þa the suikes undergæton ðat he milde man ƿas ⁊ softe ⁊ god, ⁊ na iustise ne dide, þa diden hi alle ƿunder. Hi hadden him manred maked ⁊ athes suoren, ac hi nan treuthe ne heolden. Alle he ƿæron forsƿoren ⁊ here treothes forloren, for æuric rice man his castles makede ⁊ agænes him heolden. ⁊ fylden þe land ful of castles. Hi suencten suyðe þe uurecce men of þe land mid castelƿeorces. þa þe castles uuaren maked, þa fylden hi mid deoules ⁊ yuele men. Þa namen hi þa men þe hi ƿenden ðat ani god hefden, bathe be nihtes ⁊ be dæies, carlmen ⁊ ƿimmen, ⁊ diden heom in prisun ⁊ pined heom efter gold ⁊ syluer untellendlice pining· for ne uuæren næure nan martyrs sƿa pined alse hi ƿæron. Me henged up bi the fet ⁊ smoked heom mid ful smoke. Me henged bi the þumbes other bi the hefed ⁊ hengen bryniges on her fet. Me dide cnotted strenges abuton here hæued ⁊ uurythen it ðat it gæde to þe hærnes. Hi diden heom in quarterne þar nadres ⁊ snakes ⁊ pades ƿæron inne, ⁊ drapen heom sƿa. Sume hi diden in crucethus ðat is in an cæste þat ƿas scort ⁊ nareu ⁊ undep· ⁊ dide scærpe stanes þærinne· ⁊ þrengde þe man þærinne ðat him bræcon alle þe limes. In mani of þe castles ƿæron lof ⁊ grin· ðat ƿæron rachenteges ðat tƿa oþer thre men hadden onoh to bæron onne· þat ƿas sua maced· ðat is fæstned to an beom· ⁊ diden an scærp iren abuton þa mannes throte ⁊ his hals· ðat he ne myhte noƿiderƿardes· ne sitten ne lien ne slepen· oc bæron al ðat iren. Mani þusen hi drapen mid hungær. I ne can ne i ne mai tellen alle þe ƿunder ne alle þe pines ðat hi diden ƿrecce men on þis land· ⁊ ðat lastede þa ·xix· ƿintre ƿile Stephne ƿas king ⁊ æure it ƿas uuerse ⁊ uuerse. Hi læiden gæildes on the tunes æure um ƿile ⁊ clepeden it tenserie. Þa þe uurecce men ne hadden nammore to gyuen· þa ræueden hi ⁊ brendon alle the tunes· ðat ƿel þu myhtes faren al a dæis fare sculdest thu neure finden man in tune sittende· ne land tiled. Þa ƿas corn dære, ⁊ fle[s]c ⁊ cæse ⁊ butere· for nan ne ƿæs o þe land. Ƿrecce men sturuen of hungær. Sume ieden on ælmes þe ƿaren sum ƿile rice men. Sume flugen ut of lande. Ƿes næure gæt mare ƿreccehed on land ne næure hethen men ƿerse ne diden þan hi diden· for ouer sithon ne forbaren hi nouther circe ne cyrceiærd· oc namen al þe god ðat þarinne ƿas ⁊ brenden sythen þe cyrce ⁊ al tegædere. Ne hi ne forbaren biscopes land ne abbotes ne preostes· ac ræueden munekes ⁊ clerekes· ⁊ æuric man other þe ouermyhte. Gif tƿa men oþer ·iii· coman ridend to an tun· al þe tunscipe flugæn for heom· ƿenden ðat hi ƿæron ræueres. Þe biscopes ⁊ lered men heom cursede æure· oc ƿas heom naht þarof· for hi uueron al forcursæd ⁊ forsuoren ⁊ forloren. Ƿar sæ me tilede· þe erthe ne bar nan corn· for þe land ƿas al fordon mid suilce dædes. ⁊ hi sæden openlice ðat Crist slep· ⁊ his halechen. Suilc ⁊ mare þanne ƿe cunnen sæin· ƿe þolenden ·xix· ƿintre for ure sinnes.
1137·This year the king Stephen went across the sea to Normandy, and was received there because they imagined that he would be just like the uncle was, and because he still had his treasury; but he distributed and scattered it stupidly. King Henry had gathered gold and silver and no good was done for his soul thereby. When the king Stephen came to England he held his council at Oxford, and there he seized the bishop Roger of Salisbury and his nephews, Alexander bishop of Lincoln and the chancellor Roger ⁜ , and put all in prison until they gave up their castles. Then when the traitors realised that Stephen was a mild man, gentle and good, and imposed no penalty, they committed every enormity. They had done him homage and sworn oaths, but they held to no pledge. They were all forsworn and their pledges lost because every powerful man made his castles and held them against him, and filled the land full of castles. They greatly oppressed the wretched men of the land with castle-work; then when the castles were made, they filled them with devils and evil men. Then both by night and by day they seized those men whom they imagined had any wealth, common men and women, and put them in prison to get their gold and silver, and tortured them with unspeakable tortures, for no martyrs were ever tortured as they were. They hung them up by the feet and smoked them with foul smoke. They hung them by the thumbs, or by the head, and hung mail-coats on their feet. They put knotted strings round their heads and twisted till it went to the brains. They put them in dungeons where there were adders and snakes and toads, and destroyed them thus. Some they put into a ‘crucet-hus’, that is, into a chest that was short and narrow and shallow, and put sharp stones in there and crushed the man in there, so that he had all the limbs broken. In many of the castles was a ‘lof and grin’, that were chains such that two or three men had enough to do to carry one. It was made thus: it is fastened to a beam, and a sharp iron put around the man's throat and his neck so that he could not move in any direction, neither sit nor lie nor sleep, but carry all that iron. Many thousands they destroyed with hunger. I do not know nor can I tell all the horrors nor all the tortures that they did to wretched men in this land. And it lasted the 19 years while Stephen was king, and it always grew worse and worse. They laid a tax upon the villages time and again, and called it tenserie. Then when the wretched men had no more to give, they robbed and burned all the villages, so that you could well go a whole day’s journey and never find anyone occupying a village or land tilled. Then corn was dear, and flesh and cheese and butter, because there was none in the land. Wretched men starved with hunger; some who were once powerful men went on alms; some fled out of the land. Never before was there more wretchedness in the land, nor ever did heathen men worse than they did. Too many times they spared neither church nor churchyard, but took everything of value that was in it, and afterwards burned the church and everything together. They did not spare the land of bishops nor of abbots nor of priests, but robbed monks and clerks; and every man overpowered the other. If two or three men came riding to a village, all the villagers fled because of them, imagining that they were robbers. The bishops and the clergy always cursed them but that was nothing to them, because they were all accursed and forsworn and lost. Wherever men tilled, the earth bore no corn because the land was all done for with such deeds; and they said openly that Christ and His saints slept. Such things, and more than we know how to tell, we suffered 19 years for our sins.
⁜ Yale, Viking Sources in Translation: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Peterborough MS