Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas in the Time of William the Conqueror

From The Coffee Pot Book Club:
The ceremony was unusual; a blend of English and Norman rituals in an attempt to appease both sides. It took place at the Confessor’s grave and the words were read out both in English by Aeldred, Archbishop of York, and in French by Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances. The ancient English rite of Saint Dunstan was enacted, but also a rite known to the Kings of France—the anointing of the king with the holy Chrism.

Since rebellion from the English was still a possibility, William had made sure the Abbey was ringed by a band of metal-clad Norman knights, watching for any trouble. And trouble came—although, as it happened, it was the over-suspicious knights who cause it. Not English rebels. As the crown about to be settled on William’s Chrism-slick brow, the attendees inside the church began giving out great shouts of acclaim for the new monarch. Their cries shook the vast stone dome, echoing between the pillars. To the Norman knights stationed outside, this shouting sounded like an out-and-out riot, an attack upon their lord from within the church. Without waiting to find out what was really happening, the Norman knights swarmed into the streets around the Abbey, putting the nearby houses to the torch. Flames leapt into the cold December air. (Read more.)

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