The Coronation

At the holy season in which it was ordained that the king should be consecrated, the high men of the land and a multitude of the people, the dignity of the episcopate and the venerable Witan, assembled from all sides for the royal rite. From these was chosen one most renowned bishop, peerless in character and famed for righteousness, who would consecrate the king, and in consecrating also crown him and dignify the royal head with the diadem; both dedicated together to the glory of God by his authority, in the manner customary with those of yore. The monastic order, the clergy with the episcopal nobility, sought the blessed church of Peter. Crosses borne on before, the procession of the clergy followed; after the clergy proceeded the dignity of the episcopate. Last, to the shouts of the people, the king advanced, surrounded by a great troop of counts and captains. A metropolitan supported his right hand; at his left walked the other of equal rank. In this manner, to the chanting of the Laudes, the king sought the church and was conducted to the royal chair. The Laudes ended and the chanting throng hushed, a precentor enjoined silence and bade them remain quiet. The clergy ceased utterance, the Witan did not speak; not a sound was heard from any mouth. Thereupon a certain Norman bishop, mounting the dais, addressed such words as these to the renowned men of France: "If the king presented please you, declare it to us, for it is fitting that this be done by your free choice." The people thus addressed consented; the clergy and also the Witan applauded, intimating by their hands what they were unable to say. Afterwards a speech was delivered by the metropolitan; this set forth the same thing in the English tongue. On both sides the throng drew breath, hailed William, vowed to be his subjects, promised with a whole heart to be obedient to him. Turning himself towards the holy altar, the archbishop made the king stand facing it. He gathered to him all the bishops who had been summoned, and together with the king they prostrated themselves upon the ground. Standing upright, the precentor began the Kyrie eleison and also invoked the intercession of the saints. But after the Litany of the Saints was completed, the episcopal order rose with the archbishop, the king alone being left prostrate. The precentor had ceased chanting; every order was silent. The archbishop bade the people pray and forthwith began the rite itself. He said the collect and raised the king from the dust. Then, with the chrism poured forth, he himself anointed the king's head, and consecrated him king in the royal manner . -- Carmen de Hastingae

Return to Main Index