Bourne Archive: FNQ: Hereward XIII                       Latest edit 12 Aug 2009.   

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De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis.


Ubi Herwardus equam nimiæ velocitatis et pullum spectabilis formæ acceperit, vel quid in illa via pertulerit.

Interea quippe nunciatur Herwardo insigne armenti genus esse velocissimorum equorum in quadam terræ insula, ubi cum paucis commilitonibus et cum aliquibus bene difficultates viarum cognoscentibus perrexit, et exinde equam nimiæ velocitatis et pullum spectabilis formæ conduxit, quen Levipes cognominavit,et matrem Anglice Hirundo vocavit. Ex illo autem loco reversus, in turbas latronum incidit, in quodam loco vallis et montibus et silva constricto, ubi duos dies insidias eorum valde sustinuit, ac illis pene tertia die fractis nimis ex fame, et vi latronum confusi, sexta die valde accelerantes ad suos perveniunt, in sequenti die majoribus terræ ipsius in prædicta et rogata pace et quomodo patriæ esse responsuros. In Herwardo quippe magis quam in cunctis pendebat responsionis gratiam et omnem sui dispositionis exitum. Statuto autem die Scaldemarienses cum optimis quibusque terræ illius et præclaris donis venerunt, pristina fœdera et servitia renovare magis quam prius in temporibus patrum suorum confirmare, multum exorantes et deprecantes firmissimo pacto a modo in perpetuum servituros, servituri ; susceperunt quidem eos, muneribus et ex optimis terræ valde ab eis ditati ac reduplicato censu terræ et tributo discesserunt et ad propria sunt reversi, gaudentes quidem ex palma virtutis et victoriæ. Sed suo domino qui ibi eos miserat non invento nec filio ejus, successorum [sucessorem] regni gravissimo dolore et tristitia affici, carissimum dominum nimis mortuum plangentes. Tandem vero post dolorem consolati, interrogabant majores patriæ et tribuni, si pro maximo labore ullum beneficium ex parte illorum domini illi eis impertirent subactam terram ad quam missi erant renunciantes, et obsides et dona tunc eis esse præbituros, atque reduplicatum terræ tributum mercedem laboris tum exsolventes. Alioquin dixerunt sibi se ex his pro quibus laboraverant remunerari debere. Qui dum nullam recompensationem dati et accepti ab eis tandem perciperent, innuente Herwardo milites omnia quæ a Scaldemariland attulerant sibi partiri. Quod factum erga filium domini sui inimicitias postea persolvit Herwardus.

The Exploits of Hereward the Saxon.


Where Hereward got a mare of very great speed, and a colt of conspicuous beauty, and what he underwent on the road.

Meanwhile as it was reported to Hereward that there was a remarkable breed of very swift horses in an island of he country, he proceeded thither with a few fellow-soldiers, and with some who were well acquainted with the difficulties of the route, and he got from the place a mare of very great speed, and a colt of conspicuous beauty, which he named Lightfoot, and the dam in English he called Swallow1. But as he was returning from that place, he fell among a band of robbers, in a certain secluded spot among the valleys, and hills2, and woods, where for two days he vigorously withstood their ambushes, and being on the third day much weakened by hunger, and confused by the violence of the robbers, on the sixth day, by making great speed, they arrive at their company, who had to make answer the next day to the chiefs of that land concerning the peace aforesaid for which they had prayed. For on Hereward more than on all the rest depended the favourable nature of the reply and all the result of the arrangement.

 And so on the appointed day, the men of Scaldemariland came with all the most important men, and with noble gifts, offering their service ; earnestly begging and entreating for a renewal of the ancient treaties and services, more than a confirmation of them as before in their father’s time, protesting that they would do service under a most secure covenant from this time for ever. And they accepted them ; and greatly enriched by presents from the most important men of the country, and with the rating of the land and the tribute doubled, they departed and returned to their own land, in great delight at the reward of their valour and victory. But neither their lord, who had sent them there nor his son3, was found (on their return), but a successor in the kingdom, and they bewailed the death of their most beloved lord, affected with the deepest grief and sadness. But at length, being consoled after their grief, they asked the chiefs of the country, and the tribunes, if for their great trouble they would bestow upon them any benefit on behalf of their lord, since they had brought back the subjection of the land to which they had been sent, and then could shew them hostages and gifts, and they were paying a double tribute from the land as the price of their labour. And besides they said they ought to be remunerated by them for the labour they had had. And when they at last perceived that they were presented with no recompensation then, at Hereward’s suggestion, the soldiers shared among themselves everything they had brought from Scaldemariland. Which act afterwards caused ill feeling between Hereward and the son of his lord4


1.     She is a major participant in Chapter XXIV.

2.     Zeeland is not normally noted for its hills though, according to the German Wikipedia, it attains an altitude of 47 metres. The high points lie among the dunes on the North Sea coast and the Euromap corroborates this up to 45 metres. There are three possibilities for explaining the text’s hills and valleys: Hereward went much further afield than we are told, Hugh is trying to add a little invented colour to his narrative or Swallow came from the western end of Walcheren and Hereward was travelling back through the dunes towards Flushing. Following Occam, this last seems the most likely. It fits the stated time scale; it is in the dunes that modern Zeeland’s woods tend to lie (Euromap) and the small-scale, scrub-covered hills of the dunes would make an excellent terrain in which to lay ambushes. This story did not come from someone with a half idea of what the geography of Zeeland was like. Either it was completely invented or it came from someone like Hereward, who had been there. The details of Flemish politics fall clearly into the latter category. Here, Leofric may not have fully understood the implications of each detail but he had heard about what had been going on, from someone who did.

3.     The count of Flanders they had left was Baldwin V. His younger son was the Robert of Chapter XII. On their return, they found that Baldwin V had died and his elder son Baldwin VI had succeeded and apparently, Robert was keeping himself out of the way. This succession happened in 1067 so, while Hereward had been campaigning in Zeeland, the Battle of Hastings had taken place in October 1066. Baldwin VI was Robert’s elder brother whom Robert ultimately succeeded as Count of Flanders. By marriage, he also had claims in Holland as well as the claim in Zeeland, pursued by his father. His French Wikipedia page gives more detail of his life.

4.     It looks as though ‘their lord’ and ‘Hereward’s lord’ referred to here was Baldwin V and rather than Baldwin VI, the man referred to as his ‘son’ was Robert, who may have had the booty in mind for himself. He was after all, the man who in 1063, had married the claim to the lands across the border. Baldwin VI’s refusal to pay Hereward appears to have arisen from a disagreement between Baldwin and Robert. The cross-border interests were Robert’s and they would tend to disturb diplomatic relations between other states and Baldwin’s interest, Flanders.


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