Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Garnier: Becket's Flight into Exile

Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence) (1922). Emanuel Wahlberg, ed. La vie de saint Thomas Becket. C.W.K. Gleerup. p. 68-
Stanzas 398-447


398 Before he [Thomas] had finished dinner, night had become pitch-dark. In the sight of all his bed was carried into the church, and set up and made ready behind the main altar; and his lambswool cap [monk's cowl?] was carefully positioned on the pillow and the bed cover folded a little over it.

399 When the monks came to sing Compline, they really believed that our hero was asleep there, and they chanted in a lowered voice so as not to disturb him. And they communicated between one another in sign language telling each other to stay away, making it clear that he was tired and that they had to leave him be.

400 He set one of his men to stand guard by his bed. And whenever anyone came there he was made to turn round, and was told to let his lord rest. I cannot find anyone who would want to take a look after this, for they thought that they would still find him there in the morning.

401 Meanwhile he had everything made ready for his journey, but there were only some of his men to whom he wanted to reveal a little. He didn't even want to take his own horses, but instead had four strong chargers [destriers] brought to him outside as if they were for guests who were just about to leave.

402 At that time most of the people were sat down having their supper; then the man of God well knew that he must go. And it was raining quite hard, and it did not want to stop. That night his cape became a burden to him; it needed to be cut back. It was difficult to wear on account of its weight.

403 After dusk, when night had fallen, archbishop Thomas got ready to leave secretly, telling no one, neither his personal advisors  nor cleric, nor relation nor friend, but only three [persons] who had previously been in his service.

404 The good man took with him two brothers in white habits [Gilbertine lay canons]. One of the two was called Robert de Cave, so I have heard, and brother Scaiman was the other one. And he did not wish to forget one of his squires, Roger de Bray, a brown haired, worthy young man.

405 He made known his plan to these two brothers who had come to him from Sempringham. And to his squire who was [also] in his confidence. They went out [of Northampton] at night via the north gate. They did not encounter anyone there; neither were they seen by anyone else.

406 But a watch had been ordered to be kept on all the gates of the town. I cannot acquaint you with the reason why this was done: nonetheless, given the circumstances, we can well form an opinion on this. But our noble hero had sent men to check the gates. This [gate] alone was found to be without guard and without gatekeeper.

407 Archbishop Thomas had no care to delay. Well he had been acquainted, that if he waited till morning he would be put in prison; and he feared this. Under the stars and in the darkness they set off, and they commended themselves to God our Lord.

408 They travelled by night until dawn and during the day they hid themselves until the evening, concealing themselves amongst monks, amongst nuns, [and] in woods. Rather they did not want to take the direct road, continuing in this manner till they finally came to the sea.

409 The day after, the king's messenger came to him [Becket/to where Becket was supposed to be] three times before terce [ca 9 am/third hour of the morning after dawn] to urge him [Becket], to direct him [Becket] to attend  the court. But he who was guarding him [Becket's bed] would not let him [the messenger] enter, telling him before that he [the messenger] should let him [Becket] still rest. However, [the messenger] was so insistent with him [the guard] that he [the guard] could no longer hide [the truth]any more.

410 Then his [Becket's] marshal, Master William de Capes went to king Henry. to beg for mercy for the retainers of the archbishop, for them not to be mistreated, because the de Brocs were to him [Becket] the fiercest of enemies, and nearly all [his retainers] had gone and fled from them.

411 King Henry then made Randulph de Broc declare throughout Northampton that his men must let the archbishop's own vassals freely leave [the town] in broad daylight. No one would be so foolhardy as he who would dare to harm them. Much against his will Randulph did this; he did not dare to forbid this.

412 But the first night they slipped away with stealth;  on the second day. they entered Lincoln via the direct route where he found lodgings with his men at Master Jacob's. There Thomas donned the grey habit of a [Cistercian] brother  in order to disguise himself better. Afterwards he changed his name from Thomas: from now on he was to be called Christian.

[Note: Nicole was the Norman name for Lincoln]

413 Thomas boarded a small boat before dawn. He secretly took Robert de Cave with him. They passed straight under Lincoln Bridge. And towards Sempringham to its Hermitage they went. Here he stayed in a bed chamber [monk's cell] for eight days or more.

414 Scaiman and Roger proceeded over dry land, And to Sempringham they came and stayed. And secretly they made ready for the journey of the archbishop. Neither to high nor to low did they reveal.their plan. When they saw their opportunity,  it was by night they set off along the road.  

415 Anyone who saw the holy man sat down to eat when Robert was away, would have seen that he was alone, with neither clerk nor knight, neither stranger nor dear friend, nor steward, nor groom [boy], nor cook, nor butler. All one could do would be to take pity of him with one's face dampened by tears. 

416 They stayed at the Hermitage for a long time, long enough for the king to think that they had crossed over the sea. They set off along the road.towards the sea by night. Everywhere they went their lodgings had been prepared beforehand. They even passed by Canterbury at night.

417 Our hero [the noble man] reached the sea, at Sandwich, where he boarded a ship. He was set down between Gravelines and Marck late in the evening. He could not proceed on by foot because he would have become tired quite quickly. He was lent a pair leather soled boots, which one of the brothers had, ones which he laced up and tied around the whole of his ankles. 

418 He fell over on the gravel [beach]  when he tried to hurry.  He got up and took a look at his hands. Then they hired a beast of burden for him which did not have a saddle because they could not find anything else at that moment in time. Even the bridling that its master had provided for it was made of straw.

419 They had found a servant [valet] on the seashore from whom they had rented a horse for eight pence. And when he went for this, he was away for a long time. Then just time when they were imagining they would all be seized or had been denounced  it was then he brought this beast of burden, and Christian was mounted.

[note:vadlet = vadelet/varlet/groom/servnat who looks after horses
William Shakespeare; Samuel Weller Singer; Edmond Malone; Charles Symmons (1826). The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Richard III. Henry VIII. Troilus and Cressida. C. Whittingham. pp. 317–.]

420 They then made him ride two leagues on horseback with no more of a saddle than a cape which they had folded and placed under him.  Then together they travelled by boat [rowed] to Clarmarais. Then they went onto St. Omer, They did not want to delay. Wherever they lodged they concealed their identity.

421 It so happened that lord Richard de Lucy had come to St Omer on his way back from [his pilgrimage to] Santiago de Compostela via Flanders. He approached the archbishop, when he heard they were talking about him.  He would try to reach an accord in everything, he said, with king Henry,

422 if he would come back with him. But he failed [to persuade Becket] to accept this. The archbishop replied that he did not want to return; because he could not in any sense agree to do this. Neither also did he want to surrender up his person. He said he wanted to go.straight to the Pope whose counsel he would follow in everything..

423 Richard replied to him in an angry and disdainful manner "When you do not want to come together with me to the king, I repudiate my allegiance to you  both for my lands and for my men."
The archbishop replied without anger and without arrogance "Richard, you are my man [vassal], so you must render fealty to me."
424 Richard replied to him, "I give back my homage to you."
"I did not lend it to you," he [Thomas] replied promptly to him.
"I am truly not giving anything back to you," he [Richard] said to him [Thomas], "neither fiefs nor tenements. But now be assured you will not get any of these from me, nothing!"

425 Then our hero sent two abbots to the count [of Flanders] who were to ask from him for [a letter of] safe conduct, that he may cross beyond through [the lands of] Flanders, to where he had travelled and landed. He had come from England secretly because he was in dispute with his lord the king..

[Note the Count of Flanders at this time was Thierry of Alsace,_Count_of_Flanders

426 The Count replied to him he would agree to his plan,  but he also said that so great a person as he was in a rich land which was his that he could [easily afford] to retain an archbishop. When Thomas heard this, he spoke to the Bishop of Thérouanne, who been brought to him that night.

427 Because he had great fear for his person when he heard the [count's] response. He took much note of the words that the count had used in his reply and also [the fact] that the count and king Henry were cousins, and they were like-minded and were strong friends. To bishop Milo he divulged his plan. 2135

428 "Put out those candles which are lit," he said to them, "Let God guide us." Thus he escaped. They departed, and he [Thomas] was mounted on a large white horse which had been brought to him from this bishop's [Milo's] own manor. Thus they went on their way. 

430 By night he stole away from his men guided by bishop Milo. They left [the territory of] Flanders; and went on to Soissons.The day after he sent back a message to his own men, whom he had left behind, that he was going to Soissons and that they were to come to him there.

431 But then at this time it so happened something which was to bring him good fortune. And many men have come to consider this to be a miracle. This was because lord Henry of Pisa, who was a cardinal, and king Louis [VII of France] who had come from another direction happened to meet him in the streets of Soissons,

432 [Thomas] explained to them his trial and his exile. The good king Louis [the VII] took pity upon him. And wanted to retain their very great friendship and lord Henry of Pisa promised to help him in everything, and he made no pretence about this.

433 Then messengers were sent by the king Henry all the way to Compiègne, to the king of France, Louis. They referred to the concord which had namely been drawn up when they [the two kings] had made peace with each other. The accord granted and promised to each other

434 That if any one of their vassals was to leave their land, and if in the other's land he was in any place recognised, that he should forthwith be arrested and detained, and should be rendered to his overlord without obstruction. And behold it had now happened: the most important person in the whole [of his (king Henry's] kingdom had fled!

435 And with these messengers came Gilbert Foliot, he was well read, yet he served Astaroth [the Great Duke of Hell] (But then the day came when he knew he had been completely foolish to have one word in conflict with the holy man, when he had fled from Sodom and followed in the footsteps of Lot.)

[Note: Astaroth = the Great Duke of Hell]

436 And Richard of Ilchester was one of the messengers. who was for king Henry [one of] his privy councillors and both minister and justiciar of the whole country. And he brought two sparrow hawks for king Louis. He now follows the straight path having left the [crooked] ways [behind].)

437 William, the good earl of Arundel was one of them; wise, brave and courteous and without any evil to call of. But then he too now had cast the [Golden] Calf, and had done wrong, when he had wanted to put Daniel into the pit [with the lions]. (He was [later] to come to find mercy from the saint at his tomb). 2185

438 Their message was well said and their words well appointed.
"I do not know of whom you speak," said king Louis.
"Sire," they said, "king Henry complains to you about one of the highest men in all of his land, who has gone and fled from England by night." 2190

439 "Archbishop Thomas has done wrong against the king [Henry]. He had power over the whole kingdom. And collected rents from all for days and years. Neither will he render account for all which he had taken. Nor will he suffer the judgement [passed against him]. He has become [a person] of ill repute. 2195

440 "And when [he now] does not render his account to his overlord, [for all] which he has taken possession of, and escapes from justice, it seems to us that he has acted very treacherously [like a felon]. And the king [Henry] now asks you very amiably not to give him refuge in any place in your land. 2200

441 "The archbishop Thomas," said the king [Louis], "indeed I have seen him, the chancellor who served the king Henry well. He has chased him away from [his] kingdom: he has fled from so much hate, that he could not find refuge neither there [in England] nor here [in France].  much has he well rendered that so well he has served. 2205

442 "The archbishop Thomas, definitely, I know him well. Because this is France of the free, by the saints where I have been, that those which monasteries have [the relics] and for those who have come to seek refuge: Much I know he indeed has come [and] here he can have my support. And I would go to meet him if I knew where to find him. 2210

443 Said the earl of Arundel: " Sire, king Louis, well do you know what king Henry has commanded us to tell you,  that he has been your mortal enemy: he has wasted your land and captured your castles. This man constantly forced the king to act badly towards you." 2215

445 "Sire," they said to the king, "ask the Pope, for the love of our king, that if he holds any great affection for him that Thomas the archbishop, who has secretly stolen away from him, neither should he listen to him, nor give him support nor show him any  [kind of] friendship; neither should he believe nor listen to his deceitful lies. 2225

446 Then the king called for brother Franc the almoner. "Go immediately to the Pope. Do not delay. Tell him, if he wants to receive any help from me that  he should both defend the archbishop [his cause] and give him cheer, that he should not let anything in the world divert him from this." 2230

447 Brother Franco was very close [privy] to the Pope. And he was assigned to his almonry. He was ready to be in his service day and/or night: for this he was greatly renowned by all. He had at that time come to see king Louis. 2235

Ainceis fu neire nuit que il eüst supé.
Sun lit unt, veant tuz, enz el mustier porté,
Detriés le grant autel e fait e aturné,
E sun chapel d'aigneaus sur l'oreillier levé,
1990 Le covertur un poi par desus reversé.

E quant li moinie vindrent lur complie chanter,
Quidierent il pur veir que se dormist li ber ;
E chanterent en bas, car nel voldrent quivrer.
E li uns roveit l'autre par signes a tagler :
1995 Mustreient qu'il ert las, c'um le laissast ester. [p. 62]

Un suen humme i out mis pur le lit [ a ]guarder.
E quant nul i veneit, sil faiseit returner,
E diseit qu'um lessast sun seignur reposer ;
Ja puis n'en trovast un quil volsist reguarder ;
2000 Encore l'endemain l'i quidierent trover.

Endementres ad fait tut sun eire aprester.
Mais poi i eut des suens qu'il le volsist mustrer.
N'unkes n'en volt un sul de ses chevals mener,
Mais quatre forz destriers fist la fors amener,
2005 Cum s'il fussent as ostes qui deüssent errer.

Dunc seeient les genz le plus a lur super.
Dunc vit bien li huem Deu qu'il s'en deveit aler.
E il pluveit tant fort qu'il ne voleit cesser.
La nuit fist il sa chape une feiz recouper :
2010 A enviz la poeit - issi pesout - porter.

Quant il fu anuitié e tut fu aseri,
L'arcevesque Thomas s'est apresté einsi
D'errer celeement qu'a nului nel gehi,
N'a privé ne a clerc, n'a parent n'a ami,
2015 Fors sulement a treis qui l'orent ainz servi.

Dous freres blancs mena ovec sei li buens ber :
Robert de Cave oï l'un des dous apeler,
E frere Scaïman oï l'autre numer.
E un suen escuier n'i volt il ublïer :
2020 Rogier de Brai, un brun, un prode bacheler.

A ces dous freres a sun conseil coneü,
Qui de Sempingeham furent a lui venu,
E a sun escuier, qui privez de lui fu.
Par la porte del nort s'en sunt nuitantre eissu :
2025 N'i furent encontré, nul d'els, n'aparceü.

Mais um faiseit les portes del burc tutes guaitier ;
E pur quei um le fist, nel vus sai acuintier.
Purquant sulunc le tens en poum bien jugier.
Mais li ber enveiad pur les portes cerchier :
2030 Cele sule trova senz guaite e senz portier.

L'arcevesque Thomas n'out cure de sujur.
Bien li fu acuintié, s'il atendist le jur,
Il fust mis en prisun ; e de ç'aveit poür.
As esteilles s'en vunt e a la tenebrur,
2035 E se sunt comandé a Deu nostre seignur.

Tute la nuit erreient entresqu'a l'ajurner,
E le jur se muçowent d'ici qu'a l'avesprer
Od muines, od noneins, en bois, pur els celer.
Mais ne voleient pas le dreit chemin errer,
2040 Tant que a la parfin sunt venu a la mer. -

Einz tierce l'endemain l'ala treis feiz haster
Li messagiers le rei, rova l'a curt aler.
Mais cil qui guarda l'uis ne l'i laissa entrer,
Ainz dist qu'il le laissast uncore reposer,
2045 Tant qu'um le hasta mult, k'um nel pout plus celer.

Dunc est li mareschals alez al rei Henri,
Danz Willames de Capes, si li cria merci
Des hummes l'arcevesque, que ne fussent leidi.
Kar li Brocheis li erent durement enemi,
2050 E tuit s'en erent pres alé e departi.

Dunc fist li reis Henris Randulf del Broc crïer
Par tute Norhantune que l'um laissast aler
Les hummes l'arcevesque quitement de jur cler ;
Nuls ne fust si hardi quis osast adeser.
2055 Enviz le fist Randuls, mais ne l'osa veer. -

Mais la premiere nuit qu'il s'en fu si emblez,
Le secunt jur, tut dreit est en Nicole entrez.
Chiés dan Jacob s'esteit od les suens ostelez.
Gris dras d'un frere ad pris, k'il puisse estre celez :
2060 Or est Thomas changiez, Cristïens est numez.

En un batel ainz jur saint Thomas s'en entra ;
Robert de Cave od sei priveement mena.
Dreit par desuz le punt de Nicole passa,
E vers Sempingeham a l'Ermitorie ala.
2065 Uit jurs en une chambre, u plus, i demura.

Scaïmans e Rogiers par secche terre alerent,
E a Sempingeham furent e sujurnerent
E l'eire l'arcevesque a celee aturnerent ;
Ne a haut ne a bas lur conseil ne mustrerent.
2070 Quant il virent lur aise, par nuit s'acheminerent.

Qui veïst le saint humme seeir a sun mangier,
Que il n'aveit od lui ne clerc ne chevalier,
Quant Roberz s'en eissi, ne estrange ne chier,
Senescal ne garçun ne cou ne buteillier,
2075 De pitié l'en poüst trestut le vis muillier.

Quant a l'Ermitorie orent lungement sujorné,
Que li reis quida bien qu'il fussent mer passé,
Envers la mer se sunt nuitantre acheminé.
Mais par tut furent ainz li ostel apresté ;

2080 Nis parmi Cantorbire en sunt nuitantre alé.

A la mer vint li ber, a Sandwiz eschipa.
Entre Gravnige e Merc tart al seir ariva.
Ne pout aler a pié, car mult tost s'alassa.
Uns granz sollers aveit, k'uns freres li presta ;
2085 Entur le col del pié a nuals les laça.

Chaüz est el gravier, quant se hasta d'aler.
Leva s'en, si a pris ses mains a reguarder.
Dunc li unt un jument senz sele fait luer,
Car ne porent nul autre a cele feiz trover ;
2090 Nis de fain l'aveit fait sis maistre enchevestrer.

Il orent un vadlet en la greve trové,
A cui un cheval unt pur uit deniers lué.
E quant puroec ala, mult aveit demuré ; 
Idunc quiderent estre tuit pris u encusé.
2095 Cel jument amena ; Cristïen unt munté.

Tut a as li unt fait dous liwes chevalchier,
Ne mais que d'une chape qu'unt fait suz li pleier.
Dunc se firent ensemble a Clermareis nagier ;
Puis vunt a Saint Omer, ne s'i volent targier.
2100 Mais par tut se feseient repundre al herbergier.

Dunc vint a Saint Omer danz Richarz de Luci.
De Saint Jame par Flandres sun chemin acuilli.
A l'arcevesque vint, quant parler en oï.
Del tut l'acordereit, ço dit, al rei Henri,
2105 Se returnout od lui. Mais il i ad failli.

L'arcevesque respunt : ne volt pas returner ;
Car il nel purreit pas en nul sens acorder,
N'a lui ne volt il pas einsi sun cors livrer.
A l'apostolie volt, ço dit, tut dreit aler,
2110 Par ki conseil voldra del tut en tut errer.

Richarz li respundi par ire e par buffei :
" Quant ne volez venir ensemble od mei al rei,
Or vus desfi ge dunc e des miens e de mei. "
L'arcevesque respunt senz ire e senz desrei :
2115 " Richarz, tu es mis huem, si me deis porter fei. "

Richarz li respundi : " Mun humage vus rent.
- Jo nel te prestai pas, fait li il erramment ;
Mais de mei ne tendras ja mais veraiement.
- Ne vus rent, fait li il, ne fiu ne tenement ;
2120 Mais ne vus afïez des ore en mei neent. "

Dunc enveia li bers al cunte dous abez,
Qu'il li doinse conduit, qu'il seit ultre passez
Par Flandres, u il est venuz e arivez ;
Car d'Engleterre esteit priveement turnez
2125 Pur le rei sun seignur, ve rs qui il ert medlez.

Li quens li respundi : sun conseil en prendra ;
E tant est riches huem qu'en la terre qu'il a,
Ço dit, qu'un arcevesque retenir bien purra.
Quant l'arcevesque l'ot, a l'evesque en parla,
2130 Celui de Terewane, qui la nuit l'en mena.

Car mult cremi de sei, quant le respuns oï.
Mult nota les paroles que li quens respundi,
Pur ço que li quens ert cusins le rei Henri,
E erent d'un conseil e durement ami.
2135 A l'evesque Milun sun conseil en gehi.

Il ert le jur venuz l'arcevesque veeir.
E quant il s'en ala la nuit en l'oscur seir,
L'arcevesque Thomas, ki mult out grant saveir,
Le conveia la fors. Pur desaparceveir
2140 Fist estaindre les cirges, qu'um nel peüst veeir.

" Esteigniez, fait lur il, ces cirges alumez.
Laissiez l'aler a Deu. " Ensi s'est delivrez.
Il se trestrent ariere, e il esteit muntez
Sur un grant cheval blanc, qui li fu amenez
2145 De la curt cel evesque. Einsi s'en est turnez.

De ses hummes einsi nuitantre s'en embla.
Par l'evesque Milun, qui la nuit l'en mena,
De Flandres est eissuz ; a Seissuns s'en ala.
L'endemain a ses hummes ariere remanda
2150 Qu'il alout a Seissuns ; a lui venissent la.

Mais mult li esteit bien a cel'ure avenu
E maint humme l'unt puis a miracle tenu :
Car danz Henris de Pise, qui des chardenaus fu,
E li reis Loëwis sunt d'autre part venu ;
2155 Es rues de Seissuns sunt entreconeü.

Sa cause e sun eissil lur aveit denuntié.
Li buens reis Loëwis en ad eü pitié,
E sil volt retenir par mult grant amistié.
Et danz Henris de Pise li ad covenantié [p. 67]
2160 Par tut li aidera. Si fist il senz faintié.

Dunc a li reis Henris ses messagiers tramis
Tresqu'a Conpeigne al rei de France, Loëwis.
E dit qu'en la cuncorde, quant hum les fist amis,
Que l'un d'els a l'autre out otrïé e pramis,
2165 E que numeement fu en l'acorde mis

See also

'Roger of Pontigny', MTB iv 52-.
Michael Staunton (2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. 24. The flight from Northampton (October 1166): Manchester University Press. pp. 116–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.


Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence); tr. Jacques Thomas (2002). La vie de Saint Thomas de Canterbury. Peeters. ISBN 978-90-429-1188-8.

Guernes de Pont-Sainte-Maxence (1838). Immanuel Bekker, ed. Leben des h. Thomas von Canterbury, Altfranzösisch ; herausgegeben von Immanuel Bekker. Nicolai. pp. 31–.


John Morris; Saint Thomas (à Becket) (1859). The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Etc. pp. 147–.

Mrs. Anne Hope; Bernard Dalgairns (1868). The Life of S. Thomas À Becket ... (With a Preface by Father Dalgairns). pp. 137–. 

William Holden Hutton (8 May 2014). Thomas Becket. Cambridge University Press. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-1-107-66171-4.

Rose Graham (1901). S. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines: a history of the only English monastic order. E. Stock. pp 17-

St. Gilbert of Sempringham: 1089-1189. Sands. 1913. pp. 148–.

Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 115–6. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.

Pierre Aubé (1988). Thomas Becket. Chapitre IV - Le Rebelle: Fayard. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-2-213-64899-6.

Sharla Race (2011). Aelred of Rievaulx: Cistercian Monk and Medieval Man: A Twelfth Century Life. Sharla Race. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-1-907119-02-6.

"Houses of the Gilbertine order: The priory of Sempringham," in A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London: Victoria County History, 1906), 179-187. British History Online,

Settlement and Society. CUP Archive. pp. 69–
Hermitage of Hoyland  Coordinates 53.042535N,0.129946W

Here beginneth the flight of archbishop Thomas. (2012). In E. Magnússon (Ed.), Thómas Saga Erkibyskups: A Life of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Icelandic (Cambridge Library Collection - Rolls, pp. 240-254). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139226172.041

Eiríkr Magnússon (1875). Thómas Saga Erkibyskups: A Life of Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Icelandic, with English Translation, Notes and Glossary. Longman & Company. pp. 240–.

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