Appendix 22
…and men shall admire the shepherd’s tower reared on high, and he shall be
forced to open it to no purpose and to his own injury. Or translated slightly
differently: and men shall admire the shepherd’s high battlements of his
castle and he will be forced to unlock it without advantage and to his own
This follows immediately the prophecy concerning the arrest of the three
bishops. It could just refer to the castle at Devises which we know through
Henry Blois as author of GS….that he is very impressed with its
construction. It could also be a prophetical allusion to Winchester.
The Shepherds tower may be at Winchester and this could be a
reference to Henry himself being forced by Matilda to surrender it. It seems
the architectural reference is not to Bishop Henry’s castle, Wolvesey Palace
at Winchester which had a fortified tower but to another tower he had built
in the place where the old Anglo Saxon royal palace once stood (in the
centre of the town).
The old Anglo Saxon royal Palace was immediately
North West of the cathedral. Wolvesey Palace is in the south east corner of
Winchester, not in the middle of the city.
The royal palace which Matilda had occupied was built at the time of the
Norman Conquest and was in the south west corner of the city and was not
built by Henry but could be the building with Tower to which he refers.
Henry had a passion for architecture and he engineered hundreds of
projects, including villages and canals, abbeys and smaller churches
throughout his life. His greatest project was at Glastonbury Abbey before
the destructive fire of 1184 which destroyed his creation.
Henry also designed and built additions to many palaces and large
houses including the castle of Farnham and began the construction of the
Hospital of St Cross at Winchester before he died. In London he built
Winchester Palace as a residence for the bishops of Winchester. He built the
final additions to Winchester Cathedral and Wolvesey Castle within
See appendix 10
Winchester’s medieval walls including a tourist tunnel under the cathedral
to make it easier for pilgrims to view relics.
It might be suggested he had greater plans in mind when he wrote the
prophecies of Merlin in the Libellus, where Merlin prophesy’s about
Winchester: say unto Winchester: 'The earth shall swallow thee: transfer the
see of the shepherd thither where ships do come to haven, and let the rest of
the members follow the head.'
He refers to himself as the hedgehog amongst other things as we have
covered: The Hedgehog that is loaden with apples shall rebuild her….. He
shall add thereunto a mighty palace, and wall it around with six hundred
towers…. Within her shall the Hedgehog hide his apples and shall devise ways
underground. The last sentence referring to the tunnel under the Cathedral
that Henry Blois constructed. It is unclear where Henry Blois wanted to
establish his own Metropolitan…. either in London or Winchester as both in
the squewing of the prophecy are mentioned.
Henry Blois was a keen observer of architecture. Building fortifications
and structure are frequently commented upon sub-consciously in the GS
even though it betrays his authorship unknowingly. He even refers to it
himself in the Gesta Stephani as the bishops castle, which he had built in very
elegant style in the middle of the town and of his palace, which he had
fortified strongly and impregnably just like a castle. Henry refers to this
structure which appears to have disappeared in Winchester. It must have
been irreparably damaged or burnt in the fire in the siege as he himself as
the author of the GS distinguishes it from his own fortified palace.
It is used as one of his rationales at his speech at Winchester
when he
was noting the state of affairs of which the bishops were culpable (and
himself included) when he said: that they had built castles of great renown,
raised up towers and buildings of great strength, and not put the King in
possession of his Kingdom.
Earlier in the VM in another prophecy he makes the very same
observation as those in his speech to the bishops, except this time it is
through the mouth of Merlin: Bishops will then bear arms, will then follow
the military life, will set up towers and walls on sacred ground and give to
soldiers what should go to the poor.
See appendix 10
Adam of Damerham writing about Glastonbury says that Henry Blois
was a wonderful builder. He built a palatial residence, which was called a
However, the prophetic excerpt above specifically recalls events at what
is commonly known as the Rout or siege of Winchester in 1141, where
Matilda’s forces had attempted to attack Henry Blois. There could be no
better example while on the subject of the rout of Winchester, than hear it
in the words of Henry Blois from the Gesta Stephani.
The GS is an apologist’s gloss as we have maintained before, especially
where Henry plays down his involvement in the burning of Winchester. It
was he who had made the citizens of Winchester swear allegiance to the
Empress Matilda as their ‘lady’, but when Henry had been affronted by
Matilda in London, he had organised her demise by the Londoners who had
chased her from the city, just before she was about to be crowned. The
citizens of Winchester suffered for keeping their word and their city was
burnt. Henry even accuses them of perjury for having done so in not
following Henry Blois’ change of allegiance back to his brother.
The ramifications of this in reality were huge after the Monks of Hyde
complained to the pope about Henry…. but this account as so many in the
GS, tend to soften his manipulative involvement and deny his change of
sides. It should be noted the third person, distanced prose of an author
practised in deception.
So when they had thus been frightened away from London, all who
favoured the King and were in deep depression from his capture joyously
congratulated each other, as though they used in the light of a new dawn, and
taking up arms with spirit attacked the Countess' adherents on every side. The
Queen was admitted into the city by the Londoners and forgetting the
weakness of her sex and the woman's softness she bore herself with the
valour of a man; everywhere by prayer or price she won over invincible allies;
the King’s lieges, wherever they were scattered throughout England, she
urged persistently to demand their Lord back with her; and now she humbly
besought the Bishop of Winchester, legate of all England, to take pity on his
imprisoned brother and exert himself for his freedom, that uniting all his
efforts with hers he might gain her a husband, the people a King, the Kingdom
a champion.
And the Bishop moved both by the woman's tearful supplications, which
she pressed on him with great earnestness, and by dutiful compassion for a
brother of his own blood that he felt very strongly, often turned over in his
own mind how he could rescue his brother from the ignominy of bondage
and most skilfully restored him to his Kingdom. But the Countess of Anjou,
cunningly anticipating his craft, arrived at Winchester with a highly equipped
force to catch the Bishop if she could; and when she, surrounded by a very
large retinue, had entered one gate before the citizens knew anything of her
coming, the Bishop mounted a swift horse, went out by another gate, and
made off to his castles at full speed.
Then she, sending out a summons on every side, gathered into a vast army
the whole array of those who were bade her throughout England, and gave
orders for most rigourous investment both of the bishops castle, which he had
built in very elegant style in the middle of the town, and of his palace, which
he had fortified strongly and impregnably just like a castle. I have thought it
convenient to mention briefly the names and the importance of those who
collected their forces there and were present to help her in carrying on the
siege, in order that with this knowledge the reader may perceive that it was
not through the power of man, but rather the wondrous omnipotence of the
divine virtue, that so strong and numerous swarm of warriors was as
suddenly conquered and scattered, captured and annihilated as I shall show
more fully in what follows.
King David of Scotland was there, he who, as has already been said, had
twice been chased in shameful flight from England and was, with countless
others, to be disgracefully chased from it a third time, not without
information to himself and very great danger to his men. Robert Earl of
Gloucester was there, Ranulph Earl of Chester, Baldwin Earl of Exeter,
Reginald son of King Henry, but a bastard, Earl of Cornwall, miles of
Gloucester, whom to the pleasure and satisfaction of all she then made Earl of
Hereford, Roger Earl of Warwick, William de Mohun, whom she then made
Earl of Dorset, and a certain count Boterel Brittany.
Of barons who yet were in no wise inferior to the earls in loyalty and
deserts, valour and distinction, there were Brien, whom I have mentioned
earlier, John surnamed the Marshal, Roger de Oilli, Roger de Nunant, William
Fitz Alan, and likewise a good many others, to name whom individually
would be a long and wearisome task. All of them with a wonderful
concentration of large forces from every quarter devoted themselves alike
to the siege of the bishop’s castle with one mind and the same unflagging
The Bishop, sending all over England for the barons who had paid the
King, and also hiring ordinary Knights at very great expense, devoted all his
efforts to harassing them outside the town. The Queen likewise, with a
splendid body of troops and an invincible band of Londoners, who had
assembled to the number of almost 1000, magnificently equipped with helmets
and coats of mail, besieged the inner reign of besiegers from outside with the
greatest energy and spirit.
The King had also intimate councillors, very closely bound to him in
personal friendship, not men endowed with large estates but plain soldiers, of
whom the most eminent work Roger de Chesney and his brother William, men
of war and inferior to none in military merit or any good quality, who, when
the King was captured, yet kept their faith to him unbroken and always and
everywhere maintained a bitter struggle with his opponents.
And when the Kings of other supporters flocked to Winchester to
overthrow his enemies they too, with the body of knights and archers very
ready for action, did them most effectual harm on one side of the city. This
was a remarkable siege, nothing like it was ever heard of in our times.
The whole of England, together with an extraordinary number of
foreigners, had assembled from every quarter and was there in arms, and the
roles of the combatants were reversed in so far as the inner besiegers of the
bishops castle were themselves very closely besieged on the outside by
the King's forces never without danger to men, never without the heaviest loss
to both parties. To say nothing of the Knights on one side or the other who
were being taken in the daily fighting all were drawn by different fates to meet
different deaths, some other misfortunes occurred; while the one side strove
with skill and ingenuity to gain the bishops castle the besieged flung out
firebrands and completely reduced to ashes the greater part of the town,
including two abbeys.
Also, while the Kings forces, with pickets of armed men posted
everywhere, watched the by road round the town very carefully to prevent
any food being brought, a severe famine most egregiously tormented all the
inhabitants of the city. So it was arranged, and what seemed a wise measure
was taken by general agreement, that they should build a castle for a garrison
of 300 knights at the Abbey of Wherwell, 6 miles from Winchester, that
thereby the Kings forces might more easily be held in check and supplies
brought into the city in more adequate quantities.
But the Kings forces perceiving that this plan was devised for their hurt
suddenly and unexpectedly arrived at Wherwell in an irresistible host, and
attacking them vigorously on every side they captured and killed a great
many, and at length compelled the rest to give way and take refuge in the
church, and when they used the church for defence like a castle the other side
through wind torches from every quarter and made them leave the church,
singed as they were and surrender at discretion.
It was indeed a dreadful and wretched site, how impiously and savagely
bodies of armed men were ranging about in the church, a house of religion
and prayer, especially as in one place mutual slaughter was going on, in
another prisoners were being dragged off with thongs, here the conflagration
was fearfully ravaging the roofs of the church and the houses, there cries and
shrieks rang piercingly out from the virgins dedicated to God who had left
their cloisters with reluctance under the stress of the fire.
Then Robert Earl of Gloucester and the other supporters of his party, on
hearing that the grievous calamity just mentioned had come to pass,
despaired entirely of continuing the siege, and bethought themselves of
seeking safety in flight as soon as they could. For it did not suit their welfare
or advantage to stay there any longer after the lamentable loss of their men,
it's been clear that the town had been burnt in a frightful conflagration by the
bishops troops and that the people were suffering very severely from the
wasting hunger and lack of food, and that the same dreadful calamity
immediately threatened them sell if they did not escape with all speed.
So they assembled their baggage and were emerging from the gates
together (as a precaution for the withdrawal they were in close column, all
retreating as one body) when behold, the Kings Army in numbers beyond
expression surrounded them on every side, charge them heavily and
unflinchingly, scattered in different directions the whole opposing host, and at
length cut-off and captured, with almost all his force, the Earl of Gloucester,
who was commanding and supervising the rear-guard.
Then it spread out all over the surrounding country to attack those of less
account, and not only made prisoners any knights it caught but gained
plunder of incalculable value which was scattered everywhere for the taking.
You could have seen chargers finely shaped and goodly to look upon, here
straying about after throwing their riders, there fainting from weariness and
at their last gasp; sometimes shields and coats of mail and arms of every kind
lying everywhere strewn on the ground; sometimes tempting cloaks and
vessels of precious metal, with other valuables, flung in heaps, offering
themselves to the finder on every side.
What am I to say about the Knights, nay, the greatest barons who cast
away all the emblems of their knighthood and going on foot, in sorry plight,
gave false names and denied that they were fugitives. Some fell into the hands
of peasants and were most terribly beaten; some concealed themselves in
sordid hiding places, pale and full of dread, and lurked there until they either
had a chance to escape all were found at last by their enemies and dragged
out in shameful and unseemly fashion. And what am I to say of the King of
Scotland who was taken for a third timeas the story goes, but let go as
always, on consideration of a bribe and in grief and weariness could hardly
get away to his own country with a few followers? What of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, with some bishops and others of the most distinguished men in
all England, who when their comrades were scattered and horses and
clothing captured from some and viley stolen from others could scarcely
escape the safe hiding places from this rout? The Countess of Anjou herself,
who was always superior to feminine softness and had a mind steeled and
unbroken in adversity, was the first to fly, going to Devizes with only Brien
and a few others to accompany her. But she and Brien gained by this a title to
boundless fame, since as their affection for each other had before been
unbroken, so even in adversity, great though the obstacle that danger might
be, they were in no wise divided. Then while this flight and rout were taking
different forms in different places, as has been explained, the Londoners
together with a very large part of the King's troops, sacked the city of
Winchester in a very terrible manner, and after they had broken open and
pillaged houses and stores, and likewise a number of churches, they went
away in great joy each to his home with many spoils and countless captives.
Such was the rout of Winchester, so terrible and wonderful in the eyes of all
that even the oldest man can hardly remember one like it in our age.
Then when the Earl of Gloucester had just been taken prisoner and a short
period of time had elapsed an agreement was made and ratified between the
partisans of each side that the King and the Earl should be exchanged for each
other and they should return to the earlier position of the Civil War. These
indeed were harsh and ill-judged terms and bound to do harm to the entire
country, but because there could be no other pact of the and friendship
between them for the moment, since the two parties were hotly at variance
while negotiations were going on, this arrangement was made at last and
gladly accepted by both sides.
Then, when the King was restored a superb and magnificent procession of
barons went to meet him and accompanied him as an escort, and tenderness,
wondrously intermingled with joy, heightened the festal celebrations of all,
some shedding tears of compassion from friendship and religious feeling,
because of God is gracious mercy vouchsafed to him with marvellous power,
others breaking happily into cries of rejoicing and exultation that he was
restored to them unharmed.
How, we should ask, does the author know that Henry often turned over
in his own mind how he could rescue his brother? This is persuasive
apologia.It is clear, even though Henry insists on referring to himself in the
third person….. that the author is a strategist, (which Henry certainly was),
but the author is an involved eye witness. He divulges such detail of their
withdrawal by stating that as a precaution for the withdrawal they were in
close column, all retreating as one body.
Most informed barons blamed Henry for much of what had transpired in
the Anarchy, but both William of Malmesbury’s account and his own GS
account show that he was able to reinstate or oust King as he thought fit.
William of Malmesbury is in not taken in by Henry and witnessed his
manipulations since they first met at Glastonbury. Malmesbury states:
that the legate himself tried to diminish by great efforts of eloquence his
unpopularity for what he had done. He said he had received the Empress not
of his own will but under compulsion, because, when his brother had just
suffered disaster and all the earls had either been put to flight or were waiting
in a doubtful frame of mind to see how things would turn out, she and her
men had surrounded Winchester with the noise of arms; that she herself had
persistently broken all her pledges relating to the freedom of the churches.
Moreover, he said, he had been informed on reliable authority that she and
her men had plotted not only against his position but against his life;
however, God in his mercy had given affairs at different course from what she
hoped, that he might avoid destruction himself and rescue his brother from
Henry was the power broker for both sides throughout the Anarchy and
these events Henry recorded as if Merlin had seen them in the VM and were
portrayed as prophecy as we can witness in appendix 23.