I was married to Erik of Fairhall, whose mother was a Dane and whose father was English. He died 10 years ago.
Three days before we were wed, which is to say Easter of 1095, many stars were seen to fall from heaven. Not just one or two, but so many that no one could count. We thought the world would end but it did not, so we judged it good to marry anyway.
We found out later that King William II, called William Rufus, at Easter held court in Winchester, and Earl Robert of Northumberland – who did not trust the king — refused to come to court. The king was very angry and bid him stay where he was at his peril. The earl still would not come, perhaps he saw the fall of stars and in them predicted his own fall? The Earl was at Tinemouth castle and the king took it, but Robert escaped to Bamborough. When the king could not take that castle by siege, he built another castle within its sight! He called that castle “Malveisin” or “Evil Neighbor”. Robert tried to escape from Bamborough but was captured, and King William threatened to put out his eyes unless his wife and steward who held the castle would forfeit it. And so they did. Robert’s family, friends and allies all surrendered as well, including both laity and clergy. William warned them all to come to him when he said to come, or forfeit their land grants even as Robert had done. Robert was held in Windsor.
We were too far north to be impacted much by these events, but we were always leery of a new lord over Northumberland. I hold to the saying “Better the devil you know then the devil you do not.” Indeed, after currying the favor of our local Norman lords, if they replaced by a new master then it all starts over again!
Our southern counties did not fare nearly as well as the far north. In 1097, William’s court and their retainers did great and terrible damage to the surrounding counties while waiting for fair weather to take them to Normandy. Many also died in work upon walls and halls in London, built for the king. So praise be to God, in 1100 a well was said to flow free with blood, and but a few days later the king was pierced by an accidental arrow fired by his own men while hunting, and he was laid to rest. Or rather went to hell. This man, this king, was the bane of the common folk, and of the nobles, and of the churchmen all alike! Even his bloody father was not as bloody as the son!
And so William’s brother Henry took the throne. He wed Maud who may have been Malcolm of Scotland’s daughter (they are a bloody crew!) but was also daughter to our own great lady Queen Margaret, of the old English nobility and blessed King Edward’s own sister. Archbishop Anselm returned from his self-imposed exile across the sea now that William was dead, and so did our own Earl Robert. He stayed in enmity with the royal castles that had been set to check him, but his own people accepted him well enough. Norman though he was, we remembered that he had protected our lands from Malcolm of Scotland’s attack in 1093.