19 November 2009

Contradictions of Norman writer William of Poitiers...

Let me introduce you to 'William of Poitiers' desperate world of hagiography and propaganda ...!

Odd how the widely-read chaplain to William of Normandy, a former soldier, praised the English/Harold in one breath, then denigrated them/him in the next?
Was he writing these things after and before 1066, when some uncomfortable truths had become unpalatable?

The Anglo-Saxon army.

= They were "the fiercest of men...always by nature ready to take up the sword"
= They had "easily defeated the King of the Norwegians" (only three weeks before Hastings, over 250m to the north, near York, at Stamford Bridge)
= They had "resisted bravely" at Hastings and the Norman/Bretons were "terrified by their ferocity"

But soon after in Poitiers' Gesta Guillame, they were "never famed for their feats of arms"???

Earl/King Harold.

= He had "honour, wealth and power", but then, ever after he was "greedy"(?) and a "usurper"

Usurping whom? Being lawfully elected King by the ruling powers- and the KING HIMSELF- makes it "legal"...
So, was Harold no longer "such a man as poems liken him to Hector or Turnus"?

And did Poitiers no longer feel the need to have to boost William's image to 'match up' to Harold's strength and martial prowess by stating insecurely "William, his equal and in no way inferior in standing"

William "subjugated all the cities of the English in a single day"...

So what of Hereward's revolt of 1071 (amongst many other large, serious and threatening revolts against the invaders post-1066- at Exeter, Dover, York, etc - not just by William's OWN Norman kinsmen either!), deemed by William to be so serious and Hereward so effective a military leader that he showed up to lead his troops against him in person?

Contradictions and expedient excuse-making from a former soldier and intelligent scholar of the classics, who secretly knew better...

"They [the Normans] produced little in art or learning and nothing in literature that could be set beside the work of Englishmen..."(Prof. Frank Stenton)