Posted by: vikingsinspace | October 31, 2011

VI.30.029. Galbert de Bruges, The Murder of Charles the Good

Date Accomplished: 1 March 2011

Galbert de Bruges, The Muder of Charles the Good

Galbert of Bruges, The Murder of Charles the Good, ed. and trans. By James Bruce Ross (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982)


viii    – Galbert was a notary of Bruges

    – most reliable account of the event, and presented in a day by day reporting

x    – Galbert’s thinking is Flemmish but writing in Latin quickly shows through in the text

xi    – the text, divided into chapters based on one day’s events




8    – Galbert refers to the county as ‘Flanders,’ but only the people of the original coastal county formed in the 9th century are referred to as ‘Flemmings.’ Everyone else in Flanders are simply ‘inhabitants’

9    – by 1100, the Counts of Flanders were able to field a force of one thousand knights – incredible!

    └> n.20 – owed King of France 20 knights in fee – treaty of 1101 got the 1000 knights

10    – Flanders in a position to capitalize on the economic boon of the late 11th c. – had to create the office of chancellor to oversee income from demesne. The person in this office becomes important in Galbert’s narrative.

11-12    – 1066 saw the uneasy truce with William I threatened, and Count Robert II formed an alliance with Canute of Denmark

    └> alliance renewed in 1101 treaty with Henry I

12    – Baldwin VII went back on the Treaty of Dover to support William of Clito’s (son of Curthose) claims to Normandy which Henry I usurped

    – Baldwin, last of the line, died serving the King of France, and his cousin Charles succeeded – Clito was named Charles’ successor by the King

15    – There was already a rebellion when Charles first came to power, but it was easily suppressed

16    – went on several campaigns with the king of France which his advisors thought would lead to trouble

36    – suspects what precipitated the murder was that Bertulf, the provost, feared he would lose his office at the Easter court

47    – The punishment of ‘precipitation’ (throwing a person off a tower) was not a recognized form of punishment in Flanders, but was used in Normandy for traitors (n. 55)

64    – Galbert’s work essentially in 2 parts – the first of the murder of Count Charles which he wrote an introduction for during a temporary peace in may 1127. Second, the civil war which sees the overthrow of William Clito and the succession of Thierry of Alsace.

    – Pirenne points out 3 periods of the work

  1. Chaps. 15-67, 72-85 Mar-May 1127
  2. Intro., Chaps. 1-14, 68-71, genealogy, Chaps. 86-92, epilogue Sept.-Dec. 1127
  3. Chaps. 93-121 Feb – July 1128


Galbert de Bruges


85    – An eclipse of 1124 is said to lead to a famine → Dread portends…

87-8    – The measures Charles took to ease the famine, one of which was ordering a stop to brewing beer so the oats could be made into bread

    – People were hoarding wine – speculators possible

90    – Galbert mentions that Charles was approached as successor to Emperor Henry V

    └> Aside from Galbert, Otto of Freising is the only other source to mention his candidacy

93    – Charles is approached to succeed the captured King of Jerusalem

96    – Charles institutes a ‘census’ of sorts to determine the status of his subjects

97-8    – the Erembald clan attempts to hide their ‘servile’ status

100    – Apparently if a free man took a serf as his wife, after one year he would be in her same status

109    – Galbert has Robert the Young being forced into the plot to kill Charles – giving him an excuse?

115    – Bertulf, the provost and accused murderer is made out to be arrogant and asking who a person is who he should know → translator suggests he is just near-sighted

    – Bertulf accused of Simony

118    – Beginning of Chapter 15 where Galbert begins his daily narrative

118-9    – Very detailed account of the time the murder occurred and exactly what Charles was doing

122    – A named townsman is mentioned as aiding the murderers

139    – The townspeople are insistent on keeping the body of Charles in Bruges – already being thought of as a martyr

139-40    – A cripple (born with his foot attached to his butt!) is healed by Charles’ body

143    – William of Ypres contacts the Provost to offer his friendship

    └> Is this the same William of Ypres the mercenary (siege of Oxford 1141 I think…)?

144    – Bertulf (provost) encourages William of Ypres to take up the mantel of Count

146    – Bertulf orders the townsmen to dig ditches and construct palisades around the town

    └> possibly the first fortifications of Bruges

154    – Some of the horrible punishments Gervaise’s knights inflicted on those protecting the traitors

155    – the traitors fought mostly at night because Galbert says they were trying to leave the besieged castle undetected (and were obviously being detected…)

156    – the castellan of Ghent joins the Siege!

157-8    – More barons join the siege

158    – The barons, after meeting with the townspeople of Bruges swear an oath to do no harm to the town → towns people wielding influence?

159    – The Barons set fire to the castle gates and doors (including postern) – besieged hurl rocks as large as millstones (!) at the besiegers


    – Castellan of Ghent calls the burghers of Gent to attend the siege as ‘technical experts’ (n. 4)

    └> an arrière-ban of sorts? More like arming of free men

    – Burghers seeing a means for profit according to Galbert

161    – The men of Ghent also swear an oath to protect the people and town of Bruges

161-2    – two differing contenders for succession of Charles – 1 by hoping to be elected, the other claiming to be chosen by the King of France

162-3    Canons of St. Donatian in the castle remove the relics of the church with the permission of the besiegers and the besieged

164    – Galbert’s autobiographical interlude – explaining his writing of day-by-day events

    – a description of scaling ladders

166    – Beseiged blocked the inside gates with stones and dirt in case the gates were burned down

170    – Erembalds try to make a deal to be exiled

    └> Provost and others claim innocence → suggestion of the ordeal?

174    – The men of Bruges stealthily gain access to the castle after a failed attempt at gaining entrance through ladders

176    – After scaring off the Erembalds, the besiegers turn to looting!

179    – A fight beginning between the men of Ghent and Bruges as to who would get Charles’ body

186-7    – King Louis VI of France begins his involvement

190    – William of Ypres claims to have the support of Henry I of England to claim the title of count – backed by 300 knights and money

    └> False → William had £500 in English money, possibly the money-fief payment stolen from Charles as part of the English treaty with Flanders

└> money stolen by the traitors and sent to William – proof in Galbert’s eyes that William was involved in the murder

193    – mention of fields next to the city, but ‘within the enclosure’ – within city walls/defenses?

196    – William Clito – son of Robert Curthose of Normandy chosen as Count

– n. 9    – This choice apparently angered Henry I of England who then put his own claim to the countship, causing him to form an alliance with other would-be counts: Baldwin of Hainaut and William of Ypres

└> William Clito grew up in Flanders after Curthose’s imprisonment – seems this was done to piss off Henry I

197    – agreement made in Arras not only to choose Clito, but to give the traitors’ lands away to the present barons

    – King and Clito attempt to bribe citizens of Bruges into accepting him by remitting tolls and ground rent on their houses

197-8    – Citizens of Bruges discuss the choice, seem to believe they have a veto right

n. 19    – speculates the Flemmish were concerned about the pick because it might harm trade with England

203    – The men of Bruges confirm the concessions of Toll and House rent in perpetuity in a charter agreement and demand an oath to this effect of the King and Count

204-5    – Citizens of Aardenburg attempt to gain their own concessions, including exemptions from attending expeditions (i.e. no servicia debita)

205    – Citizens of Aardenburg enforce a scutage! Not called that, but if one does not go on expedition and doesn’t have a good excuse, he must pay 20s. (£1)

206-7    – Classic recording of the act of homage

208    – King of France attempts to make peace with William of Ypres who rejects the king

    – William of Ypres captures Bertulf and suffers a quandary since Bertulf backed Ypres

209    – Bertolf is dragged through Ypres and assaulted

210-11    – Bertulf is hanged, naked, in Ypres

212-13    – Excellent account of a trial by combat

215-16    – Citizens of Bruges go into slight revolt as it seems their newly won right to hold a court of judgement was being usurped

228    – William Clito grants the boys of St. Omer the right to play in the forest…

229n.5    – St. Omer is actually granted a number of concessions – the document recording these still survives

230    – William of Ypres is attacked in one of the many strongholds he seized when trying to claim the title of Count

231    – Chap. 68 begins Galbert’s writings after his initial day-by-day account

241    – The king’s sergeants attempt to undermine the tower the traitors are in (Tower of the Church)

242    – Robert the Younger and 27 other men surrender

244n.9    – A discussion on the weights of cheese

247    – The men of Bruges are ordered to go to Ypres and prepare for a siege there

248    – Ypres castle is overrun by the King and William Ypres is taken captive

251    – The “precipitation” of the captive traitors. One by one, they are thrown to their death from the top of the tower of the Count’s House

252    – A knight named Eric hit wooden stairs on the way down and lived – knights chucked stones down to prevent anyone from helping him

258    – William of Ypres is imprisoned in the castle of Bruges

260    – Clito remits the concession of Tolls to the people of Bruges

263    – First accusation of Paganism against Erembalds by Galbert

264    – Knight dies while blowing a horn – sounds like an aneurism (like in Song of Roland…)

266    – Citizens of differing cities of Flanders begin to rebel against William Clito

268    – An extraordinary proposal! The people of Ghent suggest that the count only rules by the consent of the people!

269    – William of course does not like this and challenges the spokesman to a duel/judicial combat.

    – Ivan (the spokesman) refuses, but wishes to meet peacefully – William gathers an army at Bruges

270    – Towns of Flanders (excepting Bruges) agree to protect one-another from Count William

271    – Thierry of Alsace arrives at Ghent in hopes of becoming Count once Clito is kicked out

    – 2 others, Mons and Arnold also arrive for the same purpose

272    – Now the citizens of Bruges turn on Clito

275-6    – Thierry of Alsace courts Bruges’ support and is accepted

277    – William of Ypres is released from captivity to help Clito – n. 3 confirms my suspicion that he is the mercenary captain aiding Stephen during the English Anarchy

278    – Thierry of Alsace is elected count while Clito is still in Ypres

281    – Gervaise, Castellan of Bruges, and many others do homage to Thierry

284    – Citizens of Bruges complain that the King of France charged William Clito a relief to take the Countship – something the King swore he wouldn’t do.

    – Building up their cause for expelling Clito

        └> Complaint of inability to trade

285    – Citizens saying it is not in the king’s power to elect an heir, but the citizens!

292    – Thierry’s men burn a witch

295-6    – A new man, Walter, is blamed for inciting Botsiard and others to betray the Count

298    – Thierry and Clito finally engage in pitched combat

299    – The men of Bruges attribute Thierry’s loss to them not acting as piously as Clito’s men

307    – William Clito dies from injuries gained in battle

311    – Praising William Clito as a good knight as other sources also do



One of my favorite primary sources. Interesting to see Galbert’s opinion of who had the more just claim to the countship, William Clito or Thierry of Alsace, change from entry to entry. Some excellent descriptions of normal life and sieges.


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