I see Lincoln walled in by savage soldiery and two men shut up in it, one of whom escapes to return with a savage tribe and their chief to the walls to conquer the cruel soldiers after capturing their leader.
This directly relates the Battle of Lincoln of 2 February 1141 in which Stephen blockaded William de Roumare Earl of Lincoln and Randolf of Chester in Lincoln castle. Randolf of Chester managing to escape and return with the Welsh under Robert of Gloucester and capture Stephen. William of Malmesbury in his Historia Novella gives a good account of what transpired:
King Stephen had gone away in peace from Lincolnshire before Christmas and had conferred distinctions on the Earl of Chester and his brother. That Earl had married the Earl of Gloucester’s daughter long since in King Henry’s time. Meanwhile the burgesses of Lincoln, wishing to lay the King under great obligation informed him by messengers when he was staying at London that the two brothers had settled unsuspiciously in the city’s Castle, that they could easily be surrounded, and that they themselves would see to it that the King got possession of the Castle with the greatest secrecy. He, unwilling to miss any chance of increasing his power, hastened thither joyfully; so, the brothers were surrounded and besieged actually during the Christmas Festival.
This seemed unfair to many because, as I have said he had left them before the festival without any suspicion of ill will and had not, in the traditional way renounced his friendship with them, what they call ‘defiance’. But the Earl of Chester, though involved in critical danger, yet made good his escape from the close siege of the Castle, by what device I do not determine, whether by the collusion of some of the besiegers or because Valour, when caught in a snare, is want to seek a plan in many ways and commonly to find it. Then, not satisfied with his own freedom, anxious about the safety of his brother and wife, whom he had left in the Castle, he turned his mind in every direction. It seemed the wisest policy to beg aid from his father-in-law, though he had long since offended him for various reasons, chiefly because he seemed faithful to neither side. So he sent to him promising by the messengers a lasting fidelity to the Empress if, from motives of pity rather than any deserts of his own, he would rescue from wrong and those who were in danger and on the very brink of captivity.
The Earl of Gloucester was not hard to persuade since he could not bear the shame of the thing; and at the same time, loathing delay because his noble country for the sake of two persons, was being tormented by the plunder and slaughter of civil war, he preferred if God should allow it, to hazard a final decision. He also hoped for the divine approval in his enterprise because the King had wronged his son-in-law who was in no wise at fault, was besieging his daughter and had turned into a Castle the church of the blessed mother of God at Lincoln. How greatly these things must have influenced the Prince’s mind! Would it not be better to die and fall with glory rather than their so signal an affront? So to avenge God and his sister and to free his relatives he took the risk. The adherents of his party, most of them disinherited men inflamed to war by grief for what they have lost and consciousness of valour, followed him eagerly, though he cunningly concealed his purpose all the way from Gloucester to Lincoln, keeping the whole army in uncertainty, except for a very few, by taking an indirect route. The time of decision came on the very day of the purification of most blessed Mary, by the river that flows between the two armies, named Trent, which was then so much swollen by a heavy fall of rain as well as water from its source that there was no possibility of fording it. Only then did the Earl disclose his intention to his son-in-law, who had met him with a strong body of troops, and the rest of his followers adding that he had long since made up his mind that nothing should ever compel him to retreat; he would die or be captured if he did not win the victory. Then, as all filled him with good hope, he resolved to risk a battle at once, and strange to hear, swam across the racing current of the River mentioned above with all his men.
Eager was the Earl to make an end of the troubles that he would sooner face the final danger than have the Kingdom’s misfortune prolonged; for the King on his side had broken off the siege and offered battle with spirit, accompanied by a great number of earls and no backward body of knights. The royalists first attempted that prelude to the fight which is called jousting, for in this they were accomplished, but when they saw that the ‘earlists’, if the expression may be allowed, were fighting not with lances at a distance but with swords at close quarters and, charging with their banners in the van, were breaking through the King’s line, then all the earls to a man, sought safety in flight (six of them had entered the battle on the King’s side), but a number of barons of notable loyalty and courage thinking they should not abandon the King even at this desperate moment, were taken prisoners. The King himself, though he did not lack spirit in self-defence, was at length attacked on all sides by the Earl of Gloucester’s Knights and fell to the ground on being struck by a stone….940
The Gesta Stephani has it that: the Count of Meulan and the famous William of Ypres fled shamefully before coming to close quarters. So, the Earl of Gloucester took the King with him and that Gloucester brought him before his sister the Countess of Anjou and then, by agreement between the two of them, put him under guard in the tower of Bristol to be kept there until the last breath of life, in this showing himself blind and entirely ignorant of the secret purpose of God.
So, as we have already covered: the Earl of Chester Robert Earl of Gloucester, Miles also, and all who had armed themselves against the King, and likewise brought with him a dreadful and unendurable mass of Welsh, all in agreement, in complete harmony, together to overthrow the King.
Does the reader not think it strange that Ganieda is so capable of seeing affairs pertinent to Henry Blois’ life? How is it that Ganieda sees a person escaping and returning with the Welsh, who we know Henry Blois thinks are savages? I see Lincoln walled in by savage soldiery and two men shut up in it, one of whom escapes to return with a savage tribe and their chief to the walls to conquer the cruel soldiers after capturing their leader.
It is impossible to think that this applies to any other instance than the capture of King Stephen, yet even though it is Ganieda providing the images in the prophecies it is still Geoffrey of Monmouth in VM supposedly writing, who is in fact Henry Blois. It is quite clear that Henry Blois…. writing as ‘Geoffrey’, who supposedly has translated and inserted (by request of Alexander) the Merlin prophecies in HRB…. is recounting more recent history as prophecy (readily recognised by his audience). It is worth also taking note of Orderic’s account of the battle of Lincoln and how he quite unequivocally states that Henry Blois changed allegiance to the Empress. The only reason this should concern us in uncovering Henry Blois is because, if it were so widely known…. how is it that our anonymous author of GS is so bent on having his audience think otherwise? This is purely because of vanity…. because Henry wished to go down well in History.
In the year of our Lord 1141, the fourth indiction, there were grievous troubles in England, and great changes occurred, to the serious loss of many persons. Then it was that Ranulf, earl of Chester, and his half-brother “William de Roumare, revolted against King Stephen, and surprised the fortress which he had at Lincoln for the defence of the city. Cautiously choosing a time when the garrison of the tower were dispersed abroad and engaged in sports, they sent their wives before them to the castle, under pretence of their taking some amusement.’ While, however, the two countesses stayed there talking and joking with the wife of the knight whose duty it was to defend the tower, the earl of Chester came in, without his armour or even his mantle, apparently to fetch back his wife, attended by three soldiers, no one suspecting any fraud. Having thus gained an entrance, they quickly laid hold of the bars and such weapons as were at hand, and forcibly ejected the King’s guard. They then let in Earl William and his men-at-arms, as it had been planned before, and in this way the two brothers got possession of the tower and the whole city.
Bishop Alexander and the citizens sent intelligence of this occurrence to the King, who became greatly enraged at it, and was much astonished that two of his dearest friends, on whom he had lavished honours and dignities, should have acted so basely. In consequence, after Christmas, he assembled an army, and marching directly to Lincoln, took by a night surprise about seventeen men-at-arms who lay in the town, the citizens giving him their help. The two earls had shut themselves up in the castle, with their wives and most intimate friends; and finding the place suddenly invested on all sides, became very anxious, not knowing what to do. At last, Ranulf, who being the youngest was the most active and venturesome, crept out by night with a few horsemen, and made for the county of Chester, among his own vassals.
He then announced his quarrel with the King to Robert, earl of Gloucester, his father-in-law, and others his friends and relations, and raising the Welsh, with the disinherited and many others, in arms against the King, gathered forces in every quarter to enable him to bring relief to the besieged. He also sought a special interview with Matilda, countess of Anjou, and pledging his fealty to her, earnestly entreated her aid, -which was most graciously granted. The two earls, having assembled a vast body of men under arms, marched towards the besieged place, and were prepared to give battle if any resistance was offered. But the King slighted the reports which he daily received of the enemy’s advance, and could not be persuaded that they were capable of, or would venture on, such an enterprise.
Meanwhile, he constructed engines and prepared for the assault of the besieged, who implored his mercy. At length, on Sexagesima Sunday, while they were celebrating the feast of the Purification, the King in person having ascertained that the enemy was near, he ordered together his great lords and asked for their counsel under present circumstances. Some were of opinion that he should leave a large body of troops with the loyal citizens to defend the town, while he should march out with all honour and levy an army from every part of England; with which he should return, when opportunity offered, and reduce the castle by storm with royal severity.
Others recommended him to show due reverence to the feast of the Purification of St. Mary, mother of God, and by an exchange of messages with a view to terms of peace defer the engagement; that through this delay neither party might be utterly prostrated, and human blood might not be shed to the sorrow of multitudes.
However, the obstinate prince disdained to listen to these prudent counsels, and thought it dishonourable to defer the engagement for any considerations: he therefore, gave orders for his troops to arm for battle. The armies met near the city, and being drawn up in order on both sides, battle was joined. The King divided his army into three bodies, and the same order was observed on the other side. The front rank of the royal army was composed of Flemings and Bretons, under the command of William d’Ypres and Alain de Dinan.
Opposed to them were a wild band of Welshmen, under their chiefs Meredith and Kaladrius. The King himself with some of his men-at-arms, dismounted, and fought on foot with great resolution for his life and Kingdom. In like manner, Ranulf, earl of Chester, with his cavalry, also dismounted, and encouraged the bold infantry of Chester to the work of slaughter.
As for Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who bore the most distinguished part in this expedition, he commanded that the men of Bath, and other disinherited gentlemen, should have the honour of striking the first blow for the recovery of their inheritances. At first, the battle was fought on both sides with great desperation, and there was much effusion of human blood. The best knights and men-at-arms were in the King’s army; but the enemy outnumbered them in infantry and the Welsh levies. It is certain that William d’ Ypres with his Flemings, and Alain with his Bretons, were the first to give way; thereby emboldening the enemy, and spreading panic in the ranks of their confederates.
This engagement was disgracefully distinguished by the most scandalous treachery: for some of the great lords, with a few of their retainers, accompanied the King, while they sent the great body of their vassals to secure the victory to his adversaries. Thus they deceived their lord, and may justly be considered as perjured men and traitors. Count Waleran and his brother “William de Warrenne, with Gilbert de Clare, and other knights of high renown, both Norman and English, as soon as they saw the first rank routed, turned their backs and fled in alarm for their own safety. On the other hand, Baldwin de Clare, Richard Fitz-Urse and Gilbert de Lacy, stuck closely to the King during the battle, and fought stoutly by his side till the day was lost.
As for King Stephen, mindful of the brave deeds of his ancestors, he fought with great courage; and as long as three of his soldiers stood by him, he never ceased dealing heavy blows with his sword and a Norwegian battle-axe, with which some youth had supplied him. At last, worn out with fatigue and deserted by all, he surrendered to Earl Robert, his cousin; and being made prisoner, was by him soon afterwards presented to the Countess Matilda. Thus, by a turn of the wheel of fortune, King Stephen was hurled from his throne, and, alas! Incarcerated in the important fortress of Bristol in anguish and misery. Baldwin de Clare and the other brave young soldiers, who dismounted with the King and fought gallantly, as I have just said, were made prisoners.
The night before, while the people of God were keeping the eve of the feast dedicated to the honour of the Virgin Mother, and waited for matins, when a high mass was to be celebrated according to the rites of the church, a great storm of hail and rain fell in the western parts, that is, in France and Britain, and terrible claps of thunder were heard, accompanied by vivid flashes of lightning.
On the very day of the battle, while the King was hearing mass before the engagement, and his mind was agitated, if I mistake not, by anxious care and thought, the consecrated wax-taper broke in his hand, and fell thrice to the ground in the presence of many witnesses. This was remarked by some judicious persons to be a manifest token of evil to come; and the fall of the prince on the same day clearly explained the omen. The King’s disaster filled with grief the clergy and monks and the common people; because he was condescending and courteous to those who were good and quiet, and, if his treacherous nobles had allowed it, he would have put an end to their nefarious enterprises, and been a generous protector and benevolent friend of the country.
The townsmen of Lincoln who had taken the King’s side, as they were bound to do, he being also the lord of the place, finding that the enemy had obtained a complete victory, abandoned their wives and houses and all that they possessed, and fled to the neighbouring river, intending to save themselves by becoming exiles.’ Rushing in great crowds to the boats, in their haste they so overcrowded them with their numbers, losing all order and self-possession in the imminent fear of death, and those who came latest jumping in upon those who were first, that the boats were upset in a moment, and nearly all who were embarked (some say as many as five hundred of the principal citizens) perished. William, a famous soldier and nephew of Geoffrey, archbishop of Rouen, fell on the King’s side.
Of the others, as those report who were present, not more than a hundred were slain. Count Ranulf and his victorious comrades entered the city, and pillaged every quarter of it like barbarians. As for the citizens who remained, they butchered like cattle all whom they found and could lay hands on, putting them to death in various ways without the slightest pity.
After this battle and the capture of the King, a great division arose in England. Henry, bishop of Winchester, immediately joined the party of the Angevins; and receiving the countess with respect in the royal city, entirely deserted his brother the King and all who were on his side. Earl Waleran, William de Warrenne, Simon, and several other lords adhered to the queen, and pledged themselves to fight resolutely for the King and his heirs. Thus, the mischief spread on all sides, and England, which formerly overflowed with wealth, was now miserably desolated, and abandoned to rapine, fire, and slaughter.
We have the same events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle if any reader still doubts that the prophecy relates to the battle of Lincoln: After this waxed a very great war betwixt the King and Randolph, Earl of Chester; not because he did not give him all that he could ask him, as he did to all others; but ever the more he gave them, the worse they were to him. The Earl held Lincoln against the King, and took away from him all that he ought to have. And the King went thither, and beset him and his brother William de Romare in the castle. And the earl stole out, and went after Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and brought him thither with a large army. And they fought strenuously on Candlemas day against their lord, and took him; for his men forsook him and fled. And they led him to Bristol, and there put him into prison in close quarters.