Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 


ROBERT, Earl of Moreton, in Normandy,--who always carried the standard of St Michael before him in battle,--was made Earl of Cornwall by William the Conqueror. He was remarkable for his valour and for his virtue, for the exercise of his power, and his benevolence to the priests. This was the Earl of Cornwall who gave the Mount in Cornwall to the monks of Mont St Michel in Normandy. He seized upon the priory of St Petroc at Bodmin, and converted all the lands to his own use.

This Earl of Cornwall was an especial friend of William Rufus. It happened that Robert, the earl, was hunting in the extensive woods around Bodmin--of which some remains are still to be found in the Glyn Valley. The chase had been a severe one; a fine old red deer had baffled the huntsmen, and they were dispersed through the intricacies of the forest, the Earl of Cornwall being left alone. He advanced beyond the shades of the woods on to the moors above them, and he was surprised to see a very large black goat advancing over the plain. As it approached him, which it did rapidly, he saw that it bore on its back "King Rufus," all black and naked, and wounded through in the midst of his breast. Robert adjured the goat, in the name of the Holy Trinity, to tell what it was he carried so strangely. He answered, "I am carrying your king to judgment; yea, that tyrant William Rufus, for I am an evil spirit, and the revenger of his malice which he bore to the Church of God. It was I that did cause this slaughter; the protomartyr of England, St Albyn, commanding me so to do, who complained to God of him, for his grievous oppression in this Isle of Britain, which he first hallowed." Having so spoken, the spectre vanished. Robert, the earl, related the circumstance to his followers, and they shortly after learned that at that very hour William Rufus had been slain in the New Forest by the arrow of Walter Tirell.

Next: Sir John Arundell