Dudo of St. Quentin. Gesta Normannorum. edited and translated by Felice Lifshitz. [ORB Library] Internet Medieval Sourcebook (click to go to Felice Lifshitz' complete translation)
AND WHILE HE LINGERED, sorrowful, at Skania island and, burning under the anxious compulsion of twisting wrath, struggled to avenge himself on his foes, and very many whom royal heinousness (note 1) had chased out of Dacia were returning to him, a divine voice cried out to him, his limbs, wearied by exertion, overpowered by deep sleep, saying: "Arise swiftly, Rollo, going hastily across the deep in navigation, proceed to the Angles, there you will hear that you will return healthy to the fatherland and that in it you will, without defeat, enjoy never-ending peace." When he had recounted this dream to a certain wise and Christian man, he explained it with a speech of this type: "In the opportune course of time to come, you will be purified by sacrosanct baptism and will become an especially worthy Christian and at a future time you will come from the deception of this wavering world all the way to the Angles, that is the angels and with them you will have the glory of everlasting peace." But immediately outfitting ships and equipping them with oars and loading them with grain and wine and heads of swine, swiftly flying across the sail-winged sea, he goes to the Angles and supposes that he will linger there calmly for a while. However, the peasants of that territory, hearing that Rollo the Dacian has arrived, have brought together against him the greatest possible army. And they have tried to chase him from their borders. He has gone to meet them in battle in his accustomed manner, without hesitation, and has overthrown very many of them and has harassed with a spear the backs of the rest, turning in flight. At length many more peasants than before, collecting in a mass, again send out against Rollo the hardiest possible army and try to kill him or cause him to slip away in flight. But he, well versed in the zealous exertions of war and extremely fierce in the exigencies of combat, has proceeded swiftly and without hesitation, enveloped in a helmet wonderfully ornamented with gold and a mail coat, against the armed throngs of those setting out and attacking him. He has savagely overthrown thousands of them with a conquering (note 2) hand and, pursuing fugitives with a swift course and capturing many of the leaders and returning to the place of the battle, he has placed the bodies of the slain in the earth and has carried off the rest, discolored by wounds and bound them captive to the ships. Then he begins to anguish greatly and to be grieved, vacillating among three kinds of wandering, whether he should hit upon Dacia or should proceed to Francia or should, through battle, strike and claim for himself the English land.
APOSTROPHE TO THAT VERY MAN
Why do you tremble, Rollo, wavering, and why, perplexed, do you fear?Why do you torment your spirit, filled with the pestilence of musing?Why do you consume your heart, filled with the squalor of concerns?Why do you mutter in your spirit, why do you meditate by musing now?Why are you stuck, father, with a fixed gaze?Why do you reconsider in your mind, recalling doubts and darkness?And why are you astounded at your malign misfortune in your present lot?According to the fated order, after many perils of warAnd after the marine swellings of the boiling main,You will have power by right, a patrician blossoming with merits, A never-ending Christian, loftier than the Frankish hall,And you will capture the deserved crown as worthy recompenseAnd you will deserve to benefit, in the deity, from the highest good.
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However, while he hesitated, filled with apprehension by passions of this type, and the men of that region subjugated themselves to his authority through an obligation and a bond of fidelity, one night as sleep-inducing Lethean quiet crept slowly through his members, he kept seeming to see himself placed on a certain mountain, loftier even than the most eminent ones of Frankish habitation, and a limpid and fragrant fountain at the apex of that mountain, and himself, polluted by the infection and itching of leprosy, being washed in it and being purified by it. At length, still present at the apex of the mountain, he kept seeming to see many thousands of birds of diverse classes, of varied color but with red left wings, in all directions around the base of the mountain. He was not able, with his circumscribed and penetrating gaze, to apprehend the unexhausted outer edge of their multitude, spread far and wide. For the rest, he kept seeming to see them travel, with harmonious gait and flight, to the fountain on the mount, yielding to each other by turns, and wash themselves with harmonious bathing, as birds are accustomed to do in time of rain and, once all have been anointed with that marvelous wetting, eat by turns, amicably as it were, in a common pasture, in a harmonious assembly without distinction of classes or species, without the strife of any controversy, and build nests from branches carried there through their own hastening exertion. Yea indeed he kept seeming to see them surrender willingly to an empire of his own conception.
Awakened soon afterwards, and recalling the vision which he had seen, he unhesitatingly discussed the whole sequence of this vision with his greatest leaders, summoned to him, and with the leaders taken in battle, called together as well, and he asked them what they felt was the secret meaning of this vision. Then, as all were silent, one of the captives, imbued with the faith of Christian reverence and bedewed with the presentiment of divine inspiration, made clear the secret meaning of that vision, saying: "The mountain of Francia, on which you kept seeming to stand, represents the Church of that land. The fountain, which was at the summit of the mountain, is explained as the baptism of rebirth. Through the leprosy and the itching, you are to understand the accursed deeds and sins of your own perpetration, by which you were corrupted. (note 1) That you were washed in that fountain and purged by it of the sickness of leprosy and itching, that you were being born again through the bath of sacred baptism and cleansed of all sins. Through the flying creatures of diverse classes with crimson left wings, whose most boundless outer edge you were not able to make out with your sight, you are to understand men of diverse provinces with shield-bearing arms, an innumerable multitude of whom you will also see collected together, having become your fideles. Through the winged creatures moistened in the fountain and washed in it by turns and eating in a common act of consumption, a populace polluted by the infection of the ancient fraud, to be washed by symbolic baptism, to be fattened by the nourishment of Christ's sacrosanct body and blood. Through the nests which they were building around the mountain, you are to understand the ravaged town walls which are to be rebuilt. Birds of diverse species were obeying you, men of diverse realms, having reclined at your table, will yield obedience by serving you." Thus, delighted by these marvelous explanations, Rollo released from their bonds both the explainer of his vision and the others whom he had seized in the war and sent them, joyful, back to their homes, endowed with various presents and diverse gifts.
For at that time a most Christian king of the Angles, Alstem by name, adorned with the tokens of every good, especially worthy advocate of the sacrosanct church, most compassionate, guided the reins of the realm of the Angles. To him did Rollo send his ambassadors forthwith, and indeed he first announced, for their ears, what they were to say. Coming to Alstem, they said with a respectful tone of voice, with lowered faces: "Our lord and advocate Rollo, mightiest patrician of all and most distinguished duke of the Dacians, sends faithful service to you and the gift of unshattered friendship to your followers. We having suffered great misfortune, lord king, in the realm of Dacia, and having been, alas, the grief! fraudulently banished from there, the East Wind, entirely hostile to us, has driven us, weakened by the high waves of swelling tempests, stripped of the hope of any aid and safety, to your territory. Moreover, although we kept trying to return to Dacia and avenge ourselves upon our foes, the frozen winter opposed and hindered us and, while icy coldness encrusted the earth and cast down the pliant stalks of grasses and trees, the rivers, held in check by a thick mass of frozen crusts, formed a barrier to us. And the water did not offer us a propitious road. Hearing this, certain warriors abiding in the neighborhood of our arrival, formed against us the greatest possible battle-line and attacked, challenging us. But we, having the power to sail neither below nor above the ice, resisted their temerity and captured many of them, disarmed, in the battle. However, we will not pillage your realm, nor in any way turn plundered booty towards our ships. We are seeking a negotiated peace for the purpose of buying and selling, since we are going to depart for Francia in the impending springtime."
However, having heard these things, the king speaks out, his cheerful coutenance bowed: "No region brings forth extraordinary men, and ones actively instructed in arms, more than does Dacia. Very many men have recounted to us the extended nobility of your lord's kin, and your misfortunes and hardships, and indeed even the fraudulent treachery of the king of Dacia. No one is more just than your lord in deeds, no one greater in arms. Untroubled by arms, avoiding battles, put away your cares about this matter and be free from all ills. You may sell and buy everywhere in the lands under our authority; we pray that, using the integrity of our promise, you compel your lord to deign to come to us, for I desire to look upon him, and to solace him concerning his ills." The messengers moreover, going away, reported to Rollo whatever they had heard. Rollo at once proceeded boldly and unhesitatingly to the king, who was coming to meet him. Once they had embraced and kissed one another, they sat down at a distance from the departing throngs of both armies.
Then king Alstem was the first to speak:
"Let us be joined in a single favorable alliance of faith,
Be always, I beg, a part of my soul and my companion,
Potent in your noble stock, flashing with the light of deeds,
And loftier than all others in character and merits.
And I earnestly beseech you to remain in our territory
And be purified of uncleanness through salvation-giving baptism.
Come, keep whatever you desire in the orbit of our authority.
Always be mindful of me in everything, just as I myself shall be.
And if your wish is to depart for other climes,
If at some time this savage, untamable nation, impudent,
Neither preserving nor keeping the contents of its promise, should fight against me,
Bring such assistance as you are able, saving me with a steadfast effort,
And I will assist you, helping in a similar fashion,
And my shield will cover you in our common struggle."