Privat Breviarie of Roger de Lascy


17 May 1196

Ich arryved to dai at þe glorious Château Gaillard, þe care of which han been me entrusted by my lord Kyng Richard wilest he is away on þe Crusaydes. Nor ſhal I consydere þis no ſmall honour, as my lord regardes þis 'saucye castel' as his daughter and oonly child. Þough, amittenlee, I ne woot wheþer me cleþe 'Constabel' or 'Nanee'.

I arrived today at the glorious Chateau Gaillard, the care of which has been entrusted me by my lord King Richard while he is away on the Crusades. Nor shall I consider this no small honor, as my lord regards this 'saucy castle' as his daughter and only child. Although, admittedly, I don't know whether to call myself 'Constable' or 'Nanny'.

Þis magnyfycent castel ſette hehye atop a rigge of þe Les Andelys montaignes, lokenge doun dyfensiveliche over Normandies Seine Rivere Valey. Heere it ſtande bifor God and al, a constant tauntynge remynder to Philippe Auguste of his loses to our mooste valiant 'Coer de Leon'. And þough þe castels hastily-bilt walles aren mayde of butere, me ne þynkeþ þat Philippe wol ſtrike at þe taunte. He woot better þan to taketrye to take Richards mooste cherished possessioun. Naþeless, I ſhal carie out my duete wiþ al ceremonie.

This magnificent castle sits high atop a ridge of Les Andelys mountains, looking down defensively over Normandy's Seine River Valley. Here it stands before God and all, a constant taunting reminder to Philip Augustus of his losses to our most valiant 'Coeur de Leon'. And though the castle's hastily-built walls are made of butter, I do not believe that Philip will strike at the taunt. He knows better than to try to take King Richard's most cherished possession. Nevertheless, I shall carry out my duty with all due ceremony.
7 April 1199

Ich lerned to dai of þe passynge of a greet werreour. Þe leonhert bete namoore. Long lyve þe Kyng. He ſhal be greetly mþssed. Alas, being ſo ſodeyn and vnforseyne, Kyng Richards deeþ han left Engelond wiþoute a Kynge and Château Gaillard in a prycarious position. Sholde Philippe Auguste lerne of Kyng Richards demyse, and I ne doute he ſhal, he ſhant tary in attemptynge to regayne þose landes lost to my lord - bigynnyng wiþ þe ſaucye castel. Sooþ to ſeyn, he han been waytyng ſomme tyme for þis opportunitye. Vntyl a new Kyng is chesen - wheþer it be Richards broþer or his yong nevey Arþure - I can oonly act accordynge to my beste juggement. Now, as alwey, preparenness is a ſoudieres beste defense. Þous, I han encrysed þe Seine, and bilt a palissade rounde þe ilond fort. I han even had a lokke mayde for þe entraunce to þe hyden ſtorage chambre, þe kei for which I hyde ma ſecret compartemeynt of þe armaire in þe Kynges bedchambre.

I learned today of the passing of a great warrior. The Lion Heart beats no more. Long live the King. He shall be greatly missed. Alas, being so sudden and unforseen, King Richard's death has left England without a King and Chateau Gaillard in a precarious position. Should Philip Augustus learn of King Richard's demise, and I don't doubt he shall, he won't waste time in attempting to retake those lands lost to my lord - beginning with the saucy castle. To tell the truth, he has been waiting some time for this opportunity. Until a new King is chosen - whether it be Richard's brother or his young nephew Arthur - I can only act according to my best judgement. Now, as always, preparedness is a solder's best defense. Thus, I have fortified the Seine and built a palisade around the island fort. I have even had a lock made for the entrance to the hidden storage chamber, the key for which I hid in a secret compartment of the armoire in the King's bedchamber.
1 June 1200

Sadly oure ſituacioun at Château Gaillard naþ improwed ſyunes Kyng John assumed þe trone. Þe termes of þe tretee of Le Goulet ar an insult to þe Engelish peple, and to þe memorie of Kyng Richards þe Leon Herte. In addicioun to 20,000 marks releevynge, oure noble Kyng alswa haþ retourned þe Vexin to Philippe Auguste! It ne makes ſense! Yif releevynge was payed Philippe bi cause of þat þe Normans holden þe avauntage, þe avauntage is oonly þat niuchel greeter now. How coude he who ones foughte at his broþeres ſyde gyve bak ſo esilich þe ſpoyles of hire efforts? Spoyles for which Engelish blod was ſpilled! It nys my posicioun to questioun þe Kynges acts, but anger me consumeþ. John had, in dede, erned þe neke name 'Softeswerde'.

Sadly our situation at Château Gaillard has not improved since King John assumed the throne. The terms of the treaty of Le Goulet are an insult to the English people and to the memory of King Richard the Lion Heart. In addition to 20000 marks relief, our noble King also has returned the Vexin to Philip Augustus! It makes no sense! If relief was paid Philip because the Normans held the advantage, the advantage is only that much greater now. How could he who once fought at his borther's side give back so easily the spoils of their efforts? Spoils for which English blood was spilled! It is not my position to question the King's actions, but anger consumes me. John indeed earned the name 'Softsword'.

And yet miraclousliche, Château Gaillard remaynes under Angevin reule. Perhap John coude nat bere þe þougt of gyvyng aweye Kyng Richards oonly progenie. Alas, wiþ Richard goon and 20,000 marks of Engelish curraunci e to fynaunce his tropes, Philippe ſhal ſhurely trye to chaynge þe þat. God woot he haþ nevere been one to honor a tretee!

And yet miraculously, Château Gaillard remains under Angevin rule. Perhaps John could not bear the thought of giving away King Richard's only progeny. However, with Richard gone and 20000 marks of English currency to finance his troops, Philip shall surely try to change that. God knows he has never been one to honor a treaty!
16 April 1202

It tooke lenger þan I þoght, but Philippes obsessioun haþ finaly bycome moore þan he can bere. Tþe traitours feined ſupport of þe Lusignans hashaþ given hym þe excuse for which he was lookyng to declare werre vppon þe roial hous of Engelond. And ſe he hasþ bigonne his queste to restore þe Norman empyre and his name.

It took longer than I thought, but Philip's obsession has finally become more than he can bear. The traitor's feigned support of the Lusignans has given him the excuse he was looking to declare war uppon the royal house of England. And so he has begun his quest to restore the Norman empire and his name.


22 May, 1203

Tþe werre nys goinge weet. Philippe tropes han taken Gournay and Conches and han ſetten up campe on þe Bernieres Penynsula. Wiþ ſwich victoryes vnder his belt, it ſhant be long biforn he geþeres þe confydence to assaut Chateau Gaillard. To be honeste, Kyng John is leese of a ſtratygeste þan ever Richard was, and I fere þat he ſhal not be able to halt Philippes avauncemente. It me ſaddeneþ to ſeye territorye wan by þe Leon Herte in ferce blody bataylle lost ſo qykeliche at þe hondes of a wowker man.

The war is not going well. Philip's troops have taken Gournay and Conches and have set up camp on the Bernieres Peninsula. With such victories under his belt, it shall not be long before he gathers the confidence to attack Chateau Gaillard. To be honest, King John is less of a strategist that Richard ever was, and I fear that he shall not be able to halt Philip's advancement. It saddens me to see territory won by Lion Heart in fierce, bloody battle lost so quickly at the hands of a weaker man.
11 August, 1203

Ich was awook þis balmee August morn by þe ſoun of clashynge armure and men yscremynge. Tþe ynevytable haþ come to passe. Philippe Augustes tropes han ataken þe garisons along þe Seine. He haþ alredy gayned muchel grounde, ſo ſodeyn and fierse was þe assaut. As oure defenses were ywykened in þe on ſlaughte, it is likly þat þe ilond fort ſhal falle biforn releevynge arryves. Yif ſo, Philippe wol lye in for þe ſeege. FFortunatelich, oure ſupplyes arn ampel and we con holden oute for many moneþs wiþouten releevynge if necessarie. I ſent a leter to Kyng John to enfourme hym of þe ſituacioun.

I was awakened this balmy August morning by the sound of clashing armour and men screaming. The inevitable has come to pass. Philip Augustus' troops have attacked the garissons along the Seine. He has already gained much ground, so sudden and fierce was the assault. As our defenses were weakened in the onslaught, it is likely that the island fort shall fall before relief arrives. If so, Philip will lay in for the siege. Fortunately, our supplies are ample and we can hold out for many months without relief if necessary. I sent a latter to King John to inform him of the situation.
27 Octobre, 1203

A heroyc ſheue of fors was mownted be þe Kynges forses þis morn. 300 knyghtes, 3000 prikasours, and 4000 fote ſoudiers vnder þe erl of Pembroke converged on þe entreynched Normans, who dyfended her posiciouns tenaciouselich. At o poynt, þe ſeegers appered redy to fle vnder þe dryve of þe assauting forses. But, alas, it nas ynogh. Philippes men helden her grounde, and Pembrokes men weren forsed to retret. Yif 7,000 ſaudiers ne koude forse þe Normans from þe trenches, þe beste we can hope to do is holden hem at bay.

A heroic show of force was mounted by the King's forces this morning. 300 knights, 3000 horsemen and 4000 footsoldiers under the earl of Pembroke converged on the entrenched Normans, who defended their positions tenaciously. At one point, the siegers appeared ready to flee under the drive of the assaulting forces. But, alas, it was not enough. Philip's men held their ground, and Pembroke's men were forced to retreat. If 7000 soldiers can't force the Normans from the trenches, the best we can hope to do is hold them at bay.
12 Januarie, 1204

Oon of my advysores just toolde me þat he haþ discovered þe perpatraitor bihinde ſevral robberies at þe castel. He ſayde þat his investygacioun hym requered to ſpekeþ wiþ þe ſmyþ, who nas hym avaylebel. But þe ſmyþs apprentis was avaylabel. Tþe apprentis leet on þat whan þe ſmyþ is hyred to make a lokke and kai, he ofte kepes þe molde used to caste þe kai. Il-biyeten godes and ſevral kai moldes It was þen þat my advysore realysed he hadde ſtumbled vppon þe perpatraitor. He immediately ſerched þe premisses, whenne he discovered þe il-biyeten godes and ſevral kai moldes. Ich am destressed þat in þis tyme whan þat oure verray ſurvyval dependeþ vppon þe cowperatif effortes of echon of þe groupe, þis gredi oppertunyst ſholde be þenkynge oonly of hym. It me peyneþ þat me ne konne maken an example of him but it wolde oonly wersen þe alredy wanynge morale ad vs leven in þe middel of a ſeege wiþouten a ſmyþe. In ſted, I han chesen to gave þe ſmyþ a ſtierne warninge for now. His reale punyssement ſhal have to wayte.

One of my advisors just told me that he has discovered the perpetrator behind several robberies at the castle. He said that his investigation required him to speak with the blacksmith, who was not himself available. But the smith's apprentice was avail. The apprentice let on that when the smith is hired to make lock and key, he often keeps the mold used to cast the key. It was then that my advisor realized that he had stumbled upon the perpetrator. He immediately searched the premises, whereupon he discovered the ill-gotten goods and several key molds. I am distressed that in this time when our very survival depends upon the cooperative efforts of every member of the group, this greedy opportunist is thinking only of hiself. It pains me not to be able to make an example of him but it would only worsen the already waning morale and leave us in the middle of a siege without a blacksmith. Instead, I have chosen to give the smith a stern warning for now. His real punishment shall have to wait.
15 Februarie, 1204

Tþe castel fode ſupplyes arn gettynge despeiratly lowe. Al oure hopes lyen in a releef efforte devysed by Kyng John. Whil þat tropes leden by William Marshal occupie þe ſeegers fram þe landward ſyde, ſypplyes arn to be ſnyked vp to þe castel from þe Seine. Tþit þe plan ne werke, oure ſypplyes ſhal be goon wyþynne a fourtenight, and þe castel ſhal yfalle ſone after. Tþe outward bailey alredy haþ been ſeveerely wowkened.

The castle food supplies are getting desperately low. All our hopes lie in a relief effort devised by King John. While troops lead by William Marshal occupy the siegers from the landward side, supplies are to be snuck up to the castle from the Seine. If the plan doesn't work, our sipplies shall be gone within two weeks, and the castle shall fall soon after. The outer bailey already has been severely weakened.
6 March, 1204

It haþ become encresyngely difficult to fynde tyme to write in myne breviary. In fact, Ich am oonly writynge now bi cause þis may be þe last chaunce I gete to do ſo. Despit a valiant efforte, Kyng Johns releef efforte fayled. And right on þe heles of þis tragedie comeþ on oþer - þe outward bailey haþ fallen. Tþer ſeems to be lite we konne do to ſtoppe Philippes forses. Tþe fewe me þat ar ſtille alyve arn alredy ſtervynge, and ſit we wol now han to cut bak rashonynge to o coppe of greyne per man on everiche pridde dai. Yif we ne gette releef ſone, þe castel is domed. Ich han taken þe precaucioun of ſeguestrynge everydei of valeu in þe hyden ſtoorage chambre, as Kyng John requered in his last leter to me, and destroynge þe kai. Tþe leter itselfe alswa hadde to be destroyed as it contened enformacioun on the whereaboutes of the hahyden ſtoorage chambre.

It has become increasingly difficult to find time to write in my journal. In fact, I am writing now because this may be the last chance I get to do so. Despite a valiant effort, King John's relief effort failed. And right on the heels of this tragedy comes another - the outer bailey has fallen. There seems to be little we can do to stop Philip's forces. The few men that are still alive are already starving, and yet we will now have to cut back rationing to one cup of grain per man on every third day. If we don't get relief soon, the castle is doomed. We have taken the precaution of sequestering everything of value in the hidden storage chamber, as King John requested in his last letter to me, and destroy the key. The letter itself also had to be destroyed as it contained information on the whereabouts of the hidden storage chamber.


27 Februarie, 1204 (burnt letter)

Ich am greved to han lerned þat my releef plan ne ſucceeded. Philippes tropes hadde preeven to be moore formydabel þan I hadde anticypated. Naþelees, it is ymperatif dostow everydei in yoore power to hoold Chateau Gaillard, as I am alredy in þe proces of organys(yng)e on oþer assaut to dyslogge þe invader(s) ... Duewe to þe ymprovydence of my la(te br)oþer Richard, it koude take ſom tyme to locayte þe necessarie ſupplyes, but rest (a)ssured, Constabel, relyvynge ſhal come ſoone.

In þe yvent þat þe castel ſhalde falle biforn relyvynge arryves, I axestow putte everydel of valeu in þe ... hyden ſtoorage chambre which lyes ... secryt panel ... dores of þe asseged castel ... burneþ þis leter.

I am grieved to have learned that my relief plan has not succeeded. Philip's troops have proven to be more formidable than I had anticipated. Nevertheless, it is imperative that you do everything in your power to hold Chateau Gaillard, as I am already in the process of organizing another assault to dislodge the invaders. Due to the improvidence of my late brother Richard, it could take some time to locate the necessary supplies, but rest assured, Constable, relief shall come soon.
In the event that the castle should fall before relief arrives, I ask that you put everything of value in the hidden storage chambre which lies ... secret panel ... dors of the besieged castle ... burn this letter.