The next leg sees my lord Robert and his army move north into hostile territory. I’m afraid the inhabitants were still resentful after his father’s ‘scorched earth’ devastation of the area – this in response to rebellion against what those Saxons saw as Norman invasion. Our lord William, of course, had it both ways: he insisted the old king Edward had meant to grant him the English throne – but he also claimed it by right of conquest when Harold and the Saxon nobles saw things differently.
Rebellion north of the Humber did neither side much good. In 1069/70, William slaughtered the inhabitants without discrimination, burnt crops and killed the animals. In later years, we called this the Harrying of the North, which sounds a bit of an understatement to modern ears. It led to economic failure in the region, with no income from there for at least ten years. Nor did it entirely quell rebellion; those persistent Danes landed again and received support from those surviving, and in 1080 the locals murdered the bishop, William Walcher, who King William appointed in 1071. (I’ve heard say our bishop rather asked for it with arrogant high-handedness when dealing with the natives but of course we’re not allowed to whisper such a thing.) Anyway, King William sent his half brother, Bishop Odo to teach the northerners another lesson, and while he was there a-harrying Odo also managed to appropriate a lot of the Church’s treasures. So when we turned up only a matter of months later we knew not to expect a friendly welcome.
From here on my lord Robert’s army is on full alert; the columns tightened, mail cotes kept handy and a ring of mounted archers acting as scouts keeping a sharp lookout for any locals foolish enough to try an attack.
Upon reaching York, my lord Robert doesn’t find much of the former Viking and Saxon town standing after his father’s demolition work. There is a lot under construction though, especially in the peninsular formed by the rivers Foss and Ouse; here two motte and bailey castles were built to establish the king’s authority.