ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE (1087)

The Rule and Way of William the Conqueror in England

If any person desires to know what kind of man he was, or what worship he had, or of how many lands he was lord, then will we write about him so as we understood him, who have often looked upon him, and at another time sojourned in his court. The King William about whom we speak was a very wise man, and very powerful, more dignified and strong than any of his predecessors were. He was mild to the good men who loved God, and over all measure severe to the men that gainsayed his will. On that same stead where God granted him that he might subdue England, he reared a noble monastery, and there placed monks, and well endowed it. In his days was the noble monastery in Canterbury built, and also very many others over all England. This land was also plentifully supplied with monks, and they lived their lives after the rule of St. Benedict. . . .

So also was he a very rigid and cruel man, so that no one durst do anything against his will. He had earls in his bonds, who had acted against his will; bishops he cast from their bishoprics, and abbots from their abbacies, and thanes into prison; and at last he spared not his own brother Odo. . . .

Amongst other things is not to be forgotten the good peace that he made in this land; so that a man who had any confidence in himself might go over his realm, with his bosom full of gold unhurt. Nor durst any man slay another man, had he done ever so great evil to the other. And if any common man lay with a woman against her will, he forthwith lost the members that he had sinned with. He truly reigned over England, and by his capacity so thoroughly surveyed it, that there was not a hide of land within England that he knew not who had it, or what it was worth, and afterwards set it down in his Writ. . . .

Certainly in his time men had great hardship, and very many injuries. Castles caused he to be made, poor men to be greatly oppressed. The king was so very rigid, and took from his subjects many a mark of gold, and more hundred pounds of silver, which he took by right and with great unright from his people, for little need. He had fallen into covetousness, and altogether loved greediness. . . . Alas! that any man should be so proud, to so raise himself up, and account himself above all men. May the Al-mighty God show mercy to his soul, and grant him forgiveness of his sins! These things we have written concerning him, both good and evil, that good men may imitate their goodness, and wholly flee from the evil, and go in the way that leads us to the kingdom of heaven.