I stumbled in wikipedia upon a lovely story about a man called Asselin FitzArthur who stopped the burial proceedings of William the Conqueror in Caen, claiming that the church stood on land that had been illegaly seized by the late king from his family. His claims won support and the burial was resumed only after he was properly reimbursed.

What is the origin of the story? Some googling only led me a poem and a boys' novel, both from Victorian England. I'd like to know from which chronicle the story came.

  • Very interesting indeed, was not able to find anything more online either. A professor said that there are indeed many people in history that we know very little about.
    – grayQuant
    Feb 19, 2013 at 3:01
  • Smart professor, that one :)
    – Drux
    Feb 19, 2013 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


The original chronicle was The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy by Ordericus Vitalis (or Orderic Vitalis), volume III, translated by Thomas Forester. It can be found here. William of Malmesbury is also mentioned the story in his Gesta regum Anglorum, found here

The accounts by Vitalis and Malmesbury are basically the same as you described: Ascelin, son of Arthur, breaks through the crowd at the funeral claiming that the land on which the abbey is built (where William is about to be buried) originally belonged to Arthur, and was stolen by William... After questioning a few locals, the bishop pays Ascelin 60 shillings for the burial plot, and William's son, Henry, pays him 100 pounds of silver for the rest of his claim.


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