United to the duchy, Lisieux enjoyed a short respite from the calamities of war; nor does it appear to have borne any prominent part in the transactions of the times. The name, indeed, of the city occurs as the seat of the council held for the purpose of degrading Malgerius from the primacy of Normandy; but, except on this occasion, Lisieux is scarcely mentioned till the first year of the twelfth century, when it was the seat of rebellion. Ralph Flambart, bishop of Durham, a prelate of unbounded arrogance, had fled from England, and joined Duke Robert, then in arms against his brother. Raising the standard of insurrection, he fixed himself at Lisieux, took forcible possession of the town, and invested his son, only twelve years old, with the mitre, while he himself exercised despotic authority over the inhabitants. At length, he purchased peace and forgiveness, by opening the gates to his lawful sovereign, after the battle of Tinchbray.—In the middle of October, in the same year, Henry returned to Lisieux, and there held an assembly of the Norman nobility and prelates, who proclaimed peace throughout the duchy, enacted sundry strict regulations to prevent any infringement of the laws, and decreed that Robert, the captive duke, should be consigned to an English prison.—Two years subsequently, another council was also assembled at Lisieux, by the same sovereign, and for nearly the same objects; and again, in 1119, Henry convened his nobles a third time at Lisieux, when this parliament ratified the peace concluded at Gisors, six years previously, and witnessed the marriage of the king’s son, William Adelin, with Matilda, daughter of Fulk, earl of Anjou.
Historical distinction is seldom enviable:—in the wars occasioned by the usurpation of Stephen, Lisieux once more obtained an unfortunate celebrity. The town was attacked in 1136, by the forces of Anjou, under the command of Geoffrey Plantagenet, husband of the Empress Maud, joined by those of William, Duke of Poitiers; and the garrison, consisting of Bretons, seeing no hope of effectual resistance or of rescue, set fire to the place to the extreme mortification of the invaders, who, in the language of the chronicles of the times, “when they beheld the city and all its wealth a prey to the flames, waxed exceedingly wroth, at being deprived of the spoil; and grieved sorely for the loss of the booty which perished in the conflagration.”—The town, however, was not so effectually ruined, but that, during the following year, it served King Stephen as a rallying point, at which to collect his army to march against his antagonist.—In 1169, it was distinguished by being selected by Thomas a Becket, as the place of his retirement during his temporary disgrace.