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1066 and all that

(4 Posts)
JellySlice Tue 27-Nov-18 20:54:17

But not the book grin

I am sure that I have read about a violent, bloodthirsty bishop, possibly related to William of Normandy, who travelled with the invading army, nominally to be responsible for spiritual matters, actually because he wanted to fight. But because he was a priest he was not allowed to draw blood with a sword, so instead he wielded a mace to crush people's heads.

Did this character exist, or an I conflating different bits of history, or even fiction with fact?

JellySlice Thu 29-Nov-18 17:47:22

Any history buffs around this evening?

PrincessFiorimonde Fri 30-Nov-18 14:23:21

You're thinking of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, later Earl of Kent, who was William's half-brother. I don't know if he joined in the Battle of Hastings because he specially wanted to crush a few heads grin, but the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says:

'His role in the battle of Hastings is known mainly from the Bayeux tapestry, of which Odo was beyond any reasonable doubt the patron and on which his importance has probably been inflated. He and [his brother] Count Robert are portrayed in council with William immediately before the battle, with Odo speaking animatedly to an attentive duke, as if laying out the battle plan. During the battle he appears in a quasi-military role, arrayed in a haubergon (but without the full protection afforded by a hauberk), carrying a mace-like instrument and rallying troops at a strategically significant moment in the battle. This portrayal is not necessarily in conflict with [the chronicler] William of Poitiers's statement that Odo was not personally responsible for the shedding of blood at Hastings, but it does suggest that his opinion that Odo and Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, were there to help with their prayers was less than the truth.'

JellySlice Fri 30-Nov-18 20:38:11

Aha! Thank you.

History is, after all, written by the victors.

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