Appendix 25
Others rise up and attack the fourth
fiercely and savagely but not one of
them prevails, for he stands firm and moves his shield and fights back with
his weapons and as victor straightway defeats his enemy thrice. Twice he
drives him across the frozen regions of the north and a third (time) he (still)
grants the mercy that he asks, so that the stars flee through all portions of the
While writing the prophecies, at the end of the VM, Henry gets very
specific about some of the incidents in the Anarchy and to certain people.
No account of the Anarchy would be complete without hearing the account
of the Scots and the part King David played as Empress Matilda’s uncle and
ally during the troubles. Unfortunately the copy of the Gesta Stephani is
missing several pages and most importantly….one part is about the two
defeats of the Scots which are referred to in the Vita Merlini prophecy as the
‘Twice’. Fortunately Henry refers to them later in the GS so that we can be
sure that this is what the above prophecy refers to.
Henry Blois does not like the Welsh and he does not like the Scots either.
Both, he considers to be savages and were the cause of much strife to the
Kingdom during the Anarchy. Henry Blois does not like David, King of
Scotland; but during the time when Stephen was imprisoned, Henry had
spent time with David as he followed Matilda around as part of her retinue.
In this Vita prophecy, the ‘others’ who rise up and attack the fourth
(Stephen) are the Scots, but the reference is to King David himself.
Stephen had defeated him twice and made a deal with King David; but
after the rout of Winchester King David was caught a third time, at which,
he begged to be set free and paid a bribe for his freedom. This is part of the
extract from the GS we saw in appendix 22:
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
William the Conqueror was accounted the first, William II, was the third son of William the conqueror of
England, called William Rufus. He was the second. The third was Henry 1st and the fourth was King Stephen.
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 time as 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.
It is not coincidence that the author of GS who opines that King David is
set free a third time is the person writing the prophecy. Again, in the section
below from the account concerning the rout of Winchester, we hear that the
other defeats (the two earlier) have already been covered by Henry in the
section of folio’s missing from the GS manuscript:
…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.
However, it is worth covering the early passage in the Gesta Stephani
concerning the Scots until the point at which it breaks off at the missing
In Scotland, which borders on England, with a river fixing the boundary
between the two Kingdoms, there was a King of gentle heart, is born of
religious parents and equal to them in his just way of living. Since he had in
the presence of King Henry, together with other magnets of Kingdom, or
rather first of all of them, found himself with an oath that on King Henry's
death he would recognise no one as his successor except his daughter or her
See Chapter: Henry Blois and the Gesta Stephani.
heir, he was greatly vexed that Stephen had come to take the tiller of the
Kingdom of the English.
But because it had been planned and carried out by the barons
themselves without consulting him, he wisely pondered the ultimate result
and waited quietly
for some time to see to what end the enterprise would
come. And last King Henry's daughter sent him a letter, stating that she had
been denied her father’s will and deprived of the Kingdom promised to her on
oath, that the laws had been made of no account, justice trampled underfoot,
the fealty of the barons of England and the compact to which they had sworn
broken and utterly disregarded, and therefore she humbly and mournfully
besought him to aid her as a relation, since she was abandoned, and assist
her as one bound to her by oath, since she was in distress.
At this the King groaned deeply, and inflamed by zeal for justice, both on
account of the ties of kinship and because he owed the woman the fealty he
had promised, he determined to set the Kingdom of England in confusion, that
when rebellion had been raised up everywhere against its King he might be
compelled with God's help to leave to one more just than himself what he had
seized, as the King of Scots thought, unjustly. To spur him on with frequent
urging to create disorder the King had with him on the one side the son of
Robert of Bampton and his kinsman, who had been banished from England,
as has been said, and had fled to him in the hope of recovering their
Country, on the other Eustace Fitz John, a great and influential friend of King
Henry, and very many others, who were cultivating strife either for their own
profit or on account of defending what they regarded as justice. So King
David, for that was his name, sent out a decree through Scotland and
summoned all the arms, and giving them free license he commanded them to
commit against the English, without pity, the most Savage and cruel deeds
they could invent.
Scotland, which is also called Albany, is a land hemmed in by marshy
places, well supplied with productive forests, milk, and herds, encircled by
safe harbours and rich islands, but it has inhabitants that are barbarous
and filthy, neither overcome by excess of cold nor enfeebled by severe
hunger, putting their trust in swiftness of foot and light equipment; in their
Henry of Huntingdon relates the eruption of the Scots into Northumbria, in the first month of Stephen's
usurpation, and the two occurrences at Durham.
own country they care nothing for the awful moment of the bitterness of
death, among foreigners they surpass all in cruelty. From this people then
and from the nearer parts of Scotland the King collected a mass of rebels
into an incredible army and leading towards England, and after crossing the
boundary between the two Kingdoms into the region of Northumbria, which
was wide and populous and filled with supplies of all things needful, he there
encamped. Then, organising squadrons and battalions against all the land,
which was large and rich……
The GS breaks off for the loss of folio. It is in this section that I believe we
would have found the corroborative evidence to match several of the
following prophesies. As we have seen throughout the VM, everything can
be related directly back to information in the Gesta Stephani, both written
by the same person.
Since the history is missing from the GS, I will briefly recap here to cover
the known history which probably would have been covered in the missing
folios. David was the brother-in-law of Henry Ist. David was probably an
important figure at the English court and was the Kings protégé. At the
death King Henry Ist, David supported the claims of Henry's daughter
Matilda, and so came into conflict with King Stephen as the Gesta Stephani
makes clear. However David's support for Matilda was used as a pretext for
land-grabbing; but David made it look like a sincere quest for justice since
he had been the first to take the oath in 1127 to uphold the succession of
Matilda. When Stephen was crowned on 22 December 1135, David went to
war against Stephen straight away. Even though the later allusion in the VM
a few lines down, that it all started with the Welsh; this is in reference to the
era starting with William the Conqueror.
David marched into northern England just after Stephen was crowned
and by the end of January he had occupied the castles of Carlisle, Wark,
Alnwick, Norham and Newcastle. By February David was at Durham, where
Stephen met him. Rather than fight a pitched battle, a treaty was agreed
and this is what Henry Blois refers to as the first part of the ‘twice’ as seen
in the prophecy.
Henry was annoyed that his brother, whose forces could have
overpowered David, rather than fight, made a deal with David. As Stephen
was to learn, (and it would surely have been written in the missing pages of
the Gesta Stephani, Henry Blois would have advised against such a deal)….
Stephen was to regret not removing David’s power first time. A deal was
struck. On Stephen's side…. he received back some castles and David would
do no homage to Stephen. Stephen was to receive the homage of Henry,
David’s son, for both Carlisle and the other English territories already
Stephen also promised that if in the future he was to resurrect the
defunct earldom of Northumberland, David’s son would be considered.
However the issue of Matilda was not part of the deal which indicates David
was just using the whole affair as a land grab exercise using the affront to
his niece as an excuse.
The first Durham treaty fell apart quickly after King David took
umbrage at the treatment of his son Henry at Stephen's court. King David
massed an army on Northumberland's border, to which the English
responded by gathering an army at Newcastle.Once more, a pitched battle
was avoided, and instead, a truce was agreed again. The treaty at Durham
was broken for a second time when David demanded that Stephen hand
over the whole of the old earldom of Northumberland. Stephen's refusal
after many comings and goings led to the Battle of Standard in January
1138. Henry Blois is not alone in his revulsion for the Scots as Richard of
Hexham called it: "an execrable army, savager than any race of heathen
yielding honour to neither God nor man" and that it "harried the whole
province and slaughtered everywhere folk of either sex, of every age and
condition, destroying, pillaging and burning the vills, churches and houses".
King Stephen had in effect let David off the hook twice as both accords
were broken. Stephen, however, was not at the battle of Standard, so it is
not until the ‘third time’ at Winchester that Stephen (once released) lets him
off the hook with another deal. Henry, writing as Geoffrey posing as
Merlin’s sister Ganieda implies that the deal is brokered with a ‘bribe’, but
what Henry is most annoyed at is setting David free one more time (thrice).
Henry believes having broken his word twice why believe he will keep it a
third time. Will you never learn he implies…. and writes So the stars flee
throughout the field.