Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. I
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
from the town and castle of Argenton, Berry, held in 1080 by Geoffroi, Sire d'Argenton, whose descendants continued there for twelve generations. David d'Argenton (perhaps his brother) held lands de capite in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire (Domesday). He is there styled David de Argentomago or Argentomo; but the name gradually lapsed into Argentein or Argentine. His manor of Wymondley in Cambridgeshire was held by grand serjeanty, "to serve the King on his coronation day with a silver cup"; and the English Argentines consequently substituted three covered silver cups to the torteauxes that had been borne by their ancestors in France. The notices of the first generations of his posterity are very scanty. Richard de Argentine founded Wymondley Priory; Peverel de Argentine witnessed a deed of Richard de Redvers, in favour of St. Mary's Quarr, in 1147; William de Argentine another granted by his successor Baldwin. Reginald (the son of another Reginald) was Sheriff of Cambridge and Huntingdon, 5, 6, 7, & 8 Richard I., and took part with the barons against John; but "made his own composition" with Henry III. on his accession, and got back the whole of his lands. His son Richard, Constable of Hertford, Sheriff of Essex and Herts in 1223, and one of the Stewards of the King's household, "being a Noble Knight and Valiant in Arms," went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and died in 1246. Contemporary with him was Reginald de Argentine, a Knight Templar, "who, in 21 Henry III., was Standard-bearer of the Christian Army in a great Battel against the Turks, near Antioch, in the Holy Land, and carried it till his Hands and Leggs being broke, he was there slain."
Sir Richard's son, Giles (or Egidius), "a knight also of great valour," was with Henry III. in the Welsh wars, when he was taken prisoner in a sharp fight near Montgomery; afterwards followed him to Gascony, and was named castellan of the royal castle of Windsor. Soon after this, however, he joined the rebellious barons, and was one of the Council of Nine elected to govern the realm after the King's defeat and capture at Lewes. He married the heiress of Sir R. de Aguillon, and was the father of Reginald, a baron by writ in 1297. Reginald's wife, Lora de Vere (a daughter of the Earl of Oxford), brought him an only son, Sir John, who, at his death in 1318, left a little boy, then only six months old, that was destined to be the last heir of this gallant race. Neither of these two Sir Johns were ever summoned to parliament. The last died in I382, leaving three daughters; Maud, married to Sir Ivo Fitz Warren; Joan, married to Sir Bartholomew Naunton; and Elizabeth, married to Sir Baldwin St. George. He had in addition a son born out of wedlock, to whom he gave his name, with the manor of Wymondley, Horseheath, Argentines, and the greater part of his Cambridgeshire estates. But this son's posterity only held them for a single generation; as Elizabeth, daughter and sole heir of the next Sir John de Argentine, carried all his possessions to her husband, William Alington (son of the Sir William who was Treasurer of Normandy in the time of Henry V. and Henry VI.); and her descendant, Lord Alington, presented the first silver cup to James II. at his coronation as Lord of the manor of Wymondley. The Lords Alington in their turn became extinct in 1722.
A branch of the Argentines was seated in Yorkshire, where William, the son of Robert, held one knight's fee of Percy early in the reign of Henry I. Walter de Argentoun was the first husband of Aaliza de Percy; and their son Roger left three co-heiresses; Agnes, Asmota, and Elizabeth. Several others of the name are mentioned; "but the entire question of the mutual relationship of these Argentines, and of their connection with the more famous family, of which Sir Giles was so conspicuous a member, is utterly obscure."
The chief glory of the house rests on this famous Sir Giles, a knight of Rhodes, who was slain on the fatal field of Bannockburn, where
"Twa hundre payr of spuris redd
War tane of knichtis that war deid."
He was probably a younger son of the elder Sir Giles, one of the governing council in the baronial war who had received a writ of military summons in 1243. He bore a high reputation as a soldier, having served with great renown in the Holy Land, where he encountered and overthrew two Saracen foemen single-handed ("Forsooth, a small matter, quoth he, for a Christian knight to slay two Paynim dogs"); and when summoned to join the great army that invaded Scotland in 1313, had only lately come from the wars of the Emperor Henry de Luzemburgh. Throughout the calamitous day of Bruce's triumph, when the pride and power of England were trodden in the dust, he remained in attendance on the King, and did all that mortal man might do to avert or retrieve the disaster. The unhappy Edward himself showed a spirit not unworthy of his great father or greater son. When he saw the wreck and ruin of his splendid array, and the best and noblest of his realm falling around him, he threw himself among the spears with all the courage of despair, in the vain effort to arrest the rout. He would listen to no counsel, and take no thought for his safety, till the Earl of Pembroke, seizing his bridle rein, peremptorily forced him away from the field, and hurried him along the road to Stirling. De Argentine kept close by his side, till he saw him out of danger; then, with the parting words, "God be with you, Sire; it is not my wont to fly," turned his horse's head, and rode back to meet a soldier's death in the battle-field. Once more he laid his trusty lance in rest; once more, rising in his stirrups, shouted the dreaded war-cry, "An Argentine!" then, charging the advancing foe, he unhorsed his first four assailants, and bore down upon the Lord of Colonsay, who was leading the pursuit. He was already wounded; his crest had been razed by a battle-axe, and a spear had pierced one of the joints of his harness. But his arm was none the less steady, and his aim true; the lance-thrust struck straight home, and Colonsay, reeling from his saddle, lay pinned to the ground as he fell. The stricken chieftain would not, however, die unavenged. By one mighty effort he swung his broadsword round, and, with a last furious stroke, dealt De Argentine his death-blow. Then, falling back, he died laughing—like the grim Norsemen of old—having paid his debt, and laid low his great adversary beside him.
The loss of De Argentine was mourned by friend and foe, and by none more heartily than by Bruce, who had been his comrade in the days gone by:
"'And, O farewell!' the victor cried,
'Of chivalry the flower and pride,
The arm in battle bold,
The courteous mien, the noble race,
The stainless faith, the manly face!
Bid Ninian's convent light their shrine
For late-wake of De Argentine.
O'er better knight on death-bier laid,
Torch never gleam'd nor Mass was said!'"
—The Lord of the Isles. Canto vi.
- ↑ A knight's fee—called in Normandy fief d'haubert—is said to have been equal to 600 acres. "In the time of Henry I. it was termed a Knyghtes-meteshom, a knight's place or 'home' of 'meat' or maintenance. We have retained this term as applicable to ecclesiastical benefices, and in Hampshire the people call any holding a Living."—Sir Francis Palgrave.