Monday, July 4

William the Conqueror

When Duke William himself landed, as he stepped on the shore he slipped and fell forward upon his two hands. Many of his men raised a loud cry of distress. "An evil sign," they said, "is here." But he cried out lustily: "See, my lords, by the splendour of God, I have taken possession of England with both my hands. It is now mine, and what is mine is yours." (Duke William's customary oath). This quick thinking and the ability to turn a negative event into a positive one was a major quality that Duke William possessed.
Harold sent some spies, who spoke French, to examine the number and preparations of the enemy, who, on their return, related with astonishment that there were more priests in William's camp than there were fighting men in the English army! It was customary in England that only priests had short cropped hair and shaven faces. They had mistaken for priests all the Norman soldiers who had short hair and shaven chins! Harold, who had firsthand knowledge of  the Norman Customs, smiled at their words, and replied, "Those whom you have seen in such numbers are not priests, but stout soldiers, as they will soon make us feel."


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