In an enormously entertaining essay, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING AMBIGUOUS: INNUENDO AND LEGERDEMAIN IN WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY’S GESTA REGUM AND GESTA PONTIFICUM ANGLORUM, printed in Anglo-Norman Studies XXXIII. Proceedings of The Battle Conference 2010, ed. C.P. Lewis, Paul Antony Hayward writes:
” . . . [William of Malmesbury] says of Baldwin, the physician whom Edward the Confessor made abbot of Bury St Edmunds (1065-1097×1098), that he obtained a papal privilege for his monastery ‘with much labor and perhaps also with bribes.‘”
Incidentally––but not relevant here––William goes on to say something about pretty young women in form-fitting clothes that we’ll come to in a subsequent blog.
A central allegation in support of Harold Godwinson’s claim to the English crown was, of course, that on his deathbed Edward the Confessor had said what he could, in effect to bequeath it to him.
What, if anything, did Abbot Baldwin have to say about this? He had been the Confessor’s physician; we want his testimony, and we want to know the extent to which we can rely on it. Perhaps the alleged dispenser of bribes was also in receipt of bribes? Or otherwise morally suspect? Might he have told an untruth–or withheld a fact––if the price was right? To be continued.