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 The Death of William Rufus - Part 2

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PostSubject: The Death of William Rufus - Part 2   Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:47 am

The Death of William Rufus

There was, however, one man whom none have suspected despite his deep and well publicized hatred of Rufus. Who was this man, none other than Anselm of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest prelate in England!

The Case Against Anselm:

What exactly was the “relationship” between the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Well, let’s begin with a couple of interesting facts about Anselm:
(1) Anselm and Rufus clashed famously and furiously over the question of jurisdiction over the Church. This would be an alarmingly familiar scenario to the Pope, who was battling the German King, Henry IV, over the question of ecclesiastic investitures; and would later reverberate in the clash between King Henry II of England and his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett.

But at the heart of this battle of wills was the fact that Rufus had, for the past five years, kept the See of Canterbury deliberately vacant for the sole purpose of collecting and keeping those revenues for himself. Only, when the cold hand of death stretched toward him did Rufus finally concede and appoint to the vacant See, Anselm. When he recovered, Rufus found that Anselm, far from being malleable was proving himself a constant thorn in the royal side. It became Rufus’ chief desire to be rid of the Archbishop ....... “He could elevate him, but not remove him; he could make, but not unmake.” In fact, “…… political troubles came so thick and heavy on the King, some of his powerful nobles being in open rebellion, that he felt it necessary to dissemble and defer the gratification of his vengeance on the man he hated more than any personage in England.” (Source: Beacon Lights of History, Volume III, Part 1 - Saint Anselm A.D. 1033 - 1109).

Such was the “professional” relationship between King and Archbishop - one was a gentle, God-fearing man, devoted to the interests of the Church; the other was a hard, unscrupulous, cunning despot. Or so it would seem.


(2) Anselm (d.1109), along with a number of other well-known clerics, including St.Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred of Rievaulx (110 -1167), Ivo of Chartres (c.1040 - 1115), Bishop Baudri of Bourgeuil (1046 - 1130) and his friend, Marbod of Rennes (1035-1123), all wrote “homo-erotic” poems and prose.

To whom were these poems written or dedicated - typically, young men; though in the case of Baudri and Marbod, it was also to each other, where there was “an emphasis on pederasty”. (Source: John Boswell “Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality” Pub: University of Chicago Press, 1980).

Anselm wrote many letters to monks, male relatives and others that contained passionate expressions of attachment and affection. These letters were typically addressed "dilecto dilectori," sometimes translated as "to the beloved lover." As such, these letters have been characterised as having “homosexual” tendancies by later chroniclers and historians.


So, what has this to do with William Rufus, King of England, whose own sexuality was questionable, and the cause of so much gossip?

Many labels have been attributed to William Rufus and his sexuality. He has invariably been labeled “bisexual” and “homosexual” but there we must stop. These labels are modern day inventions - or rather, 19th century inventions.

There were other labels used when describing a man who succumbed to the “unnatural vice”. In fact, Henry I, brother and successor of William Rufus, attempted to clean up the court of the "unnatural vice" and laid down a series of penalties for "those who commit the shameful sin of sodomy". Later, Thomas Aquinas in his "Summa Theologica" refers to homosexuality as "peccata contra naturam" or “the sin against nature”.


Theory:
We all know that William opposed the appointment of Anselm and that their animosity was the cause of much conflict between church and state. But could it be much more personal than that.

Anselm himself was one of the proponents of the medieval "homo-erotic" poetry - could his "advances" (ie: poetry / letters of love) have been directed at Rufus. Could these “advances” have not only been unwanted but ridiculed (especially amongst the court favourites) and spurned - which was the true cause of the deep hatred between Anselm and William. Was Anselm merely the scorned "potential" lover??

Was Anselm hoping to take advantage of what we in modern terms would label as William's homosexuality on a personal level, and use his role as potential lover to enhance his own clerical position. Anselm, as we know, was just as manipulative as the next cleric - afterall he saw himself as another Lanfranc. Could his sudden hatred and vilification of William have been used to disguise his own earthly failings as a mortal man.

Yes, this is speculative in the extreme and there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that there was or wasn’t some form of more “personal” or possibly “homosexual” relationship between these two antagonists.

And so to the “ecclesiastical” version of Rufus’ death.
“It was remarked in that age, that Richard, an elder brother of William’s, perished by an accident in the new forest; Richard, his nephew, natural son of duke Robert, lost his life in the same place, after the same manner: And all men, upon the king’s fate, exclaimed, that, as the Conqueror had been guilty of extreme violence, in expelling all the inhabitants of that large district, to make room for his game, the just vengeance of heaven was signalized, in the same place, by the slaughter of his posterity.”

This I have previously documented above - death by “hunting accident” was not an uncommon event.

“See the just hand of God upon kings usurping wrongfully upon other men's grounds, as did William the Conqueror, their father, in making this New Forest, plucking down divers churches and townships the compass of thirty miles about. Here therefore appeareth, that although men cannot revenge, yet God revengeth either in them, or in their posterity, &c. This king, as he always used concubines, so left he no issue legitimate behind him. His life was such, that it is hard for a story, that should tell the truth, to say whether he was more to be commended or reproved. Among other vices in him, especially is to be rebuked in him unmeasurable and unreasonable covetousness; insomuch that he coveted (if he might) to be every man's heir.” (Source: Foxe’s "Book of Martyrs")

To clerical chroniclers, such an "Act of God" was a just end for a wicked king.

These clerics referred to Rufus as “… a man much pitied .... [who] had a soul which they could not save...” Rufus’ quarrel with the saintly Anselm ensured that “it [was] no wonder his memory should be blackened by the historians of that order.” (Source: David Hume "The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688" (Foreword by William B. Todd, 6 vols. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1983). Vol. 1.)

Could the saintly Anselm have seen Tyrell as an instrument of God with which to strike down this faithless enemy of the Church (and of himself). Anselm certainly had the motive, but as for the opportunity - could Anselm have been assured that Tyrell would act on behalf of the “Church”. In fact, the question to be asked is: could Anselm stoop to murder to rid himself of this most despotic enemy. Tempting … but unlikely. With the benefit of hindsight we know that Rufus’ death did not end the quarrel between the Crown and the Church in England.


So then, who else not only had a beef with Rufus, but was also in a position to utilize Tyrell without Tyrell giving the game away. The only reasonable “suspects” would have to be exceedingly close to Tyrell. His own family: no motive or opportunity there. What about his in-laws: motive - yes; opportunity - yes; weapon - yes.



End of Part Two

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