WILLIAM PATRY DE LA LANDE
"William Patrie de la Lande called aloud for King Harold, saying that if he could see him lie would appeal him of perjury. He had seen him at La Lande, and Harold had rested there on his way through, when he was taken, to the Duke, then at Avranches, on his road to Brittany. The Duke made him a knight there, and gave him and his companions arms and garments, and sent him against the Bretons. Patric stood armed by the Duke's side, and was much esteemed by him." (Rom. de Rou, 1. 13,723) Thus far Wace: but the correctness of his account has been questioned by Le Prévost, who considers it contradictory to the evidence of Guillaume de Poitiers, who says the Duke received Harold at Eu, and also of the Bayeux Tapestry, which represents Harold being surrendered to the Duke of Normandy by the Count of Ponthieu in person, observing also that the Duke did not send Harold against the Bretons, but took him with him. This is rather hypercritical, and the whole story of this campaign is one of the most confused in the annals of Normandy, no light being thrown upon it by those of Brittany. Duke William, contemplating the war with Conan, might have been at Avranches, on the borders of Brittany, when the news of Harold's captivity reached him; and the demand for his release despatched thence to Count Wido, William, with his usual rapidity of action, following almost on the heels of his messenger to Eu, on the frontier of Ponthieu, to receive the Saxon prince, or enforce his demand if not promptly complied with.
La Lande Patry is in the arrondissement of Domfront, not far from Avranches, and its lord may have first seen Harold when passing with the Duke to Avranches, on their road to Brittany, instead of on his journey from Beaurain. There is no point of importance involved in this little discrepancy.
The time and place of William's bestowal of knighthood, and giving arms to Harold, is a question of more interest, as the fact represented in the Bayeux Tapestry is distinctly stated by Wace in the passage I have quoted to have occurred at Avranches previous to the setting out of the expedition; and I am inclined, with all due deference to the contrary opinion of Mr. Freeman, to believe such was the case. Harold, when embarking with hawk and hounds on a pleasurable excursion, was not dreaming of warfare, and was consequently unprovided with armour. It was a positive necessity to present him with helm and hauberk, shield and lance, before he entered the enemy's country, and simultaneously with the bestowal of that Norman knighthood, which, while ostensibly an honour, was one of the toils in which the artful Duke entangled his captive guest.* William Patry de la Lande, one of the Duke's vassals whose fief was nearest to the enemy's frontier, would naturally have been summoned to join his suzerain with whatever
power he was bound to bring, and was most probably a witness of the ceremony when, according to the usual formula, Harold must have taken the oaths of chivalry. It is equally probable, as we are assured, that Patry was particularly a favourite with his Duke, and that he was also a witness to the oath said to have been taken by Harold somewhere or other, for no two authorities are agreed, by which he bound himself to be "William's Man," and to acknowledge his right to the crown of England on the death of King Edward the Confessor. Who then so likely to accuse Harold of perjury as the Lord of La Lande Patry?
His name may be indicated by "De la Lande" in the Roll of Battle, and another catalogue, but history is silent respecting him or his descendants subsequent to the Conquest, and I have nothing to add to the brief but suggestive notice of him by the Canon of Bayeux.
* The position the representation of this incident occupies in the Bayeux Tapestry cannot be used as an argument in favour of the opinion expressed by Mr. Freeman, as chronological order is not invariably observed in that valuable relic. For instance, the funeral of Edward the Confessor precedes his death; and I have also to observe that the figure of Duke William giving arms to Harold appears to have been squeezed, if I may so express myself, into that portion of the Tapestry, as though the insertion had been an after-thought — the correction of an omission in the nearest place available.
Added to the site through the courtesy of Fred L. Curry, who provided a photocopy of the chapter.