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Title: Cameos from English History, from Rollo to Edward II

Author: Charlotte Mary Yonge


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CAMEOS FROM ENGLISH HISTORY

FROM ROLLO TO EDWARD II.


By Charlotte Mary Yonge

1873








PREFACE.

The “Cameos” here put together are intended as a book for young people just beyond the elementary histories of England, and able to enter in some degree into the real spirit of events, and to be struck with characters and scenes presented in some relief.

The endeavor has not been to chronicle facts, but to put together a series of pictures of persons and events, so as to arrest the attention and give some individuality and distinctness to the recollection, by gathering together details at the most memorable moments. Begun many years since, as the historical portion of a magazine, the earlier ones of these Cameos have been collected and revised to serve for school-room reading, and it is hoped that, if these are found useful, they may ere long be followed up by a second volume, comprising the wars in France, and those of the Roses.

February 28th, 1868.






CONTENTS

PREFACE.

CAMEOS

INTRODUCTION.


CAMEO I. ROLF GANGER. (900-932.)

CAMEO II. WILLIAM LONGSWORD AND RICHARD THE FEARLESS. (932-996.)

CAMEO III. YOUTH OF THE CONQUEROR. (1036-1066.)

CAMEO IV. EARL GODWIN. (1012-1052.)

CAMEO V. THE TWO HAROLDS. (1060-1066.)

CAMEO VI. THE NORMAN INVASION. (1066.)

CAMEO VII. THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS. (1066.)

CAMEO VIII. THE CAMP OF REFUGE. (1067-1072.)

CAMEO IX. THE LAST SAXON BISHOP. (1008-1095.)

CAMEO X. THE CONQUEROR. (1066-1087.)

CAMEO XI. THE CONQUEROR’S CHILDREN. (1050-1087.)

CAMEO XII. THE CROWN AND THE MITRE.

CAMEO XIII. THE FIRST CRUSADE. (1095-1100.)

CAMEO XIV. THE ETHELING FAMILY. (1010-1159.)

CAMEO XV. THE COUNTS OF ANJOU. (888-1142.)

CAMEO XVI. VISITORS OF HENRY I. (1120-1134.)

CAMEO XVII. THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD. (1135-1138.)

CAMEO XVIII. THE SNOWS OF OXFORD. (1138-1154.)

CAMEO XIX. YOUTH OF BECKET. (1154-1162)

CAMEO XX. THE CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON. (1163-1172.)

CAMEO XXI. DEATH OF BECKET. (1166-1172.)

CAMEO XXII. THE CONQUEST OF IRELAND. (1172)

CAMEO XXIII. THE REBELLIOUS EAGLETS. (1149-1189.)

CAMEO XXIV. THE THIRD CRUSADE. (1189-1193)

CAMEO XXV. ARTHUR OF BRITTANY. (1187-1206.)

CAMEO XXVI. THE INTERDICT. (1207-1214.)

CAMEO XXVII. MAGNA CHARTA. (1214-1217.)

CAMEO XXVIII. THE FIEF OF ROME. (1217-1254.)

CAMEO XXIX. THE LONGESPÉES IN THE EGYPTIAN CRUSADES. (1219-1254.)

CAMEO XXX. SIMON DE MONTFORT. (1232-1266.)

CAMEO XXXI. THE LAST OF THE CRUSADERS. (1267-1291.)

CAMEO XXXII. The CYMRY. (B.C. 66 A.D. 1269.)

CAMEO XXXIII. THE ENGLISH JUSTINIAN. (1272-1292.)

CAMEO XXXIV. THE HAMMER OF THE SCOTS. (1292-1305.)

CAMEO XXXV. THE EVIL TOLL. (1294-1305.)

CAMEO XXXVI. ROBERT THE BRUCE (1305-1308.)

CAMEO XXXVII. THE VICTIM OF BLACKLOW HILL.

CAMEO XXXVIII. BANNOCKBURN. (1307-1313.)

CAMEO XXXIX. THE KNIGHTS OF THE TEMPLE. (1292-1316.)

CAMEO XL. THE BARONS’ WARS. (1310-1327.)

CAMEO XLI. GOOD KING ROBERT’S TESTAMENT. (1314-1329.)

INDEX.








CAMEOS

OF

THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND





INTRODUCTION.

Young people learn the history of England by reading small books which connect some memorable event that they can understand, and remember, with the name of each king—such as Tyrrell’s arrow-shot with William Rufus, or the wreck of the White Ship with Henry I. But when they begin to grow a little beyond these stories, it becomes difficult to find a history that will give details and enlarge their knowledge, without being too lengthy. They can hardly be expected to remember or take an interest in personages or events left, as it were, in the block. It was the sense of this want that prompted the writing of the series that here follows, in which the endeavor has been to take either individual characters, or events bearing on our history, and work them out as fully as materials permitted, so that each, taken by itself, might form an individual Cameo, or gem in full relief, and thus become impressed upon the mind.

The undertaking was first begun sixteen years ago, for a periodical for young people. At that time, the view was to make the Cameos hang, as it were, on the thread furnished by ordinary childish histories, so as to leave out what might be considered as too well-known. However, as the work made progress, this was found to be a mistake; the omissions prevented the finished parts from fitting together, and the characters were incomplete, without being shown in action. Thus, in preparing the Cameos for separate publication, it has been found better to supply what had previously been omitted, as well as to try to correct and alter the other Cameos by the light of increasing information.

None of them lay claim to being put together from original documents; they are only the attempt at collecting, from large and often not easily accessible histories, the more interesting or important scenes and facts, and at arranging them so that they may best impress the imagination and memory of the young, so as to prepare them for fuller and deeper reading.

Our commencement is with the Dukes of Normandy. The elder England has been so fully written of, and in such an engaging manner for youthful readers, in the late Sir Francis Palgrave’s “History of the Anglo-Saxons,” that it would have been superfluous to expand the very scanty Cameos of that portion of our history. The present volume, then, includes the history of the Norman race of sovereigns, from Rollo to Edward of Carnarvon, with whose fate we shall pause, hoping in a second volume to go through the French wars and the wars of the Roses. Nor have we excluded the mythical or semi-romantic tales of our early history. It is as needful to a person of education to be acquainted with them, as if they were certain facts, and we shall content ourselves with marking what come to us on doubtful authority.








CAMEO I. ROLF GANGER. (900-932.)

  Kings of England.
   901. Edward the Elder.
   924. Athelstan.

  Kings of France.
   898. Charles
          the Simple.
   923. Rudolf.

  Emperors of Germany.
   899. Ludwig IV.
   912. Konrad.

If we try to look back at history nine hundred years, we shall see a world very unlike that in which we are now moving. Midway from the birth of our Lord to the present era, the great struggle between the new and old had not subsided, and the great European world of civilized nations had not yet settled into their homes and characters.

Christianity had been accepted by the Roman Emperor six hundred years previously, but the Empire was by that time too weak and corrupt to be renewed, even by the fresh spirit infused into it; and, from the 4th century onward, it had been breaking up under the force of the fierce currents of nations that rushed from the north-east of Europe. The Greek half of the Empire prolonged its existence in the Levant, but the Latin, or Western portion, became a wreck before the 5th century was far advanced. However, each conquering tribe that poured into the southern dominions had been already so far impressed with the wisdom and dignity of Rome, and the holiness of her religion, that they paused in their violence, and gradually allowed themselves to be taught by her doctrine, tamed by her manners, and governed by her laws. The Patriarch of Rome—Papa, or Father—was acknowledged by them, as by the subjects of Rome of old; they accepted the clergy, who had already formed dioceses and parishes, and though much of horrible savagery remained to be subdued in the general mass, yet there was a gradual work of amelioration in progress.

This was especially the case with the Franks, who had overspread the northern half of Gaul. Their first race of kings had become Christians simultaneously with their conquest; and though these soon dwindled away between crime and luxury, there had grown up under them a brave and ambitious family, whose earlier members were among the most distinguished persons in history.

Charles Martel turned back the Saracens at Tours, and saved Europe from Mahometanism, and his grandson, Charles the Great, rescued the Pope from the Lombards, and received from him in return the crown of a new Empire of the West—the Holy Roman Empire, which was supposed to be the great temporal power. As the Pope, or Patriarch, was deemed the head of all bishops, so the Emperor was to be deemed the head of all kings of the West, from the Danube and Baltic to the Atlantic Ocean—the whole country that had once been held by Rome, and then had been wrested from her by the various German or Teutonic races. The island of Great Britain was a sort of exception to the general rule. Like Gaul, it had once been wholly Keltic, but it had not been as entirely subdued by the Romans, and the overflow of Teutons came very early thither, and while they were yet so thoroughly Pagan that the old Keltic Church failed to convert them, and the mission of St. Augustine was necessary from Rome.

A little later, when Charles the Great formed his empire of Franks, Germans, Saxons, and Gauls, Egbert gathered, in like manner, the various petty kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons under the one dominant realm of Wessex, and thus became a sort of island Emperor.

It seems, however, to be a rule, that nations and families recently emerged from barbarism soon fade and decay under the influence of high civilization; and just as the first race of Frankish kings had withered away on the throne, so the line of Charles the Great, though not inactive, became less powerful and judicious, grew feeble in the very next generation, and were little able to hold together the multitude of nations that had formed the empire.

Soon the kingdom of France split away from the Empire; and while a fresh and more able Emperor became the head of the West, the descendants of the great Charles still struggled on, at their royal cities of Laon and Soissons, with the terrible difficulties brought upon them by restless subjects, and by the last and most vigorous swarm of all the Teutonic invaders.

The wild rugged hills and coasts of Scandinavia, with their keen climate, long nights, and many gulfs and bays, had contributed to nurse the Teuton race in a vigor and perfection scarcely found elsewhere—or not at least since the more southern races had yielded to the enervating influences of their settled life. Some of these had indeed been tamed, but more had been degraded. The English were degenerating into clownishness, the Franks into effeminacy; and though Christianity continually raised up most brilliant lights—now on the throne, now in the cathedral, now in the cloister—yet the mass of the people lay sluggish, dull, inert, selfish, and half savage.

They were in this state when the Norseman and the Dane fitted out their long ships, and burst upon their coasts. By a peculiar law, common once to all the Teuton nations, though by that time altered in the southern ones, the land of a family was not divided among its members, but all possessed an equal right in it; and thus, as it was seldom adequate to maintain them all, the more enterprising used their right in it only to fell trees enough to build a ship, and to demand corn enough to victual their crew, which was formed of other young men whose family inheritance could not furnish more than a sword or spear.

Kings and princes—of whom there were many—were exactly in the same position as their subjects, and they too were wont to seek their fortunes upon the high seas. Fleets coalesced under the command of some chieftain of birth or note, and the Vikings, or pirates, sailed fearlessly forth, to plunder the tempting regions to the south of them.

Fierce worshippers were they of the old gods, Odin, Frey, Thor; of the third above all others, and their lengthy nights had led to their working up those myths that had always been common to the whole race into a beauty, poetry, and force, probably not found elsewhere; and that nerved them both to fight vehemently for an entrance to Valhalla, the hall of heroes, and to revenge the defection of the Christians who had fallen from Odin. They plundered, they burnt, they slew; they specially devastated churches and monasteries, and no coast was safe from them from the Adriatic to the furthest north—even Rome saw their long ships, and, “From the fury of the Northmen, good Lord deliver us,” was the prayer in every Litany of the West.

England had been well-nigh undone by them, when the spirit of her greatest king awoke, and by Alfred they were overcome: some were permitted to settle down and were taught Christianity and civilization, and the fresh invaders were driven from the coast. Alfred’s gallant son and grandson held the same course, guarded their coasts, and made their faith and themselves respected throughout the North. But in France, the much-harassed house of Charles the Great, and the ill-compacted bond of different nations, were little able to oppose their fierce assaults, and ravage and devastation reigned from one end of the country to another.

However, the Vikings, on returning to their native homes, sometimes found their place filled up, and the family inheritance incapable of supporting so many. Thus they began to think of winning not merely gold and cattle, but lands and houses, on the coasts that they had pillaged. In Scotland, the Hebrides, and Ireland, they settled by leave of nothing but their swords; in England, by treaty with Alfred; and in France, half by conquest, half by treaty, always, however, accepting Christianity as a needful obligation when they accepted southern lands. Probably they thought that Thor was only the god of the North, and that the “White Christ,” as they called Him who was made known to them in these new countries, was to be adored in what they deemed alone His territories.

Of all the sea-robbers who sailed from their rocky dwelling-places by the fiords of Norway, none enjoyed higher renown than Rolf, called the ganger, or walker, as tradition relates, because his stature was so gigantic that, when clad in full armor, no horse could support his weight, and he therefore always fought on foot.

Rolf’s lot had, however, fallen in what he doubtless considered as evil days. No such burnings and plunderings as had hitherto wasted England, and enriched Norway, fell to his share; for Alfred had made the bravest Northman feel that his fleet and army were more than a match for theirs. Ireland was exhausted by the former depredations of the pirates, and, from a fertile and flourishing country, had become a scene of desolation; Scotland and its isles were too barren to afford prey to the spoiler; and worse than all, the King of Norway, Harald Harfagre, desirous of being included among the civilized sovereigns of Europe, strictly forbade his subjects to exercise their old trade of piracy on his own coasts, or on those of his allies. Rolf, perhaps, considered himself above this new law. His father, Earl Rognwald, as the chief friend of the King, had been chosen to cut and comb the hair which Harald had kept for ten years untrimmed, in fulfilment of a vow, that his locks should never be clipped until the whole of Norway was under his dominion. He had also been invested with the government of the great Earldom of Möre, where the sons of Harald, jealous of the favor with which he was regarded by their father, burnt him and sixty of his men, in his own house. The vengeance taken by his sons had been signal, and the King had replaced Thorer the Silent, one of their number, in his father’s earldom.

Rolf, presuming on the favor shown to his family, while returning from an expedition on the Baltic, made a descent on the coast of Viken, a part of Norway, and carried off the cattle wanted by his crew. The King, who happened at that time to be in that district, was highly displeased, and, assembling a council, declared Rolf Ganger an outlaw. His mother, Hilda, a dame of high lineage, in vain interceded for him, and closed her entreaty with a warning in the wild extemporary poetry of the North:

  “Bethink thee, monarch, it is ill
  With such a wolf, at wolf to play,
  Who, driven to the wild woods away,
  May make the king’s best deer his prey.”
 

Harald listened not, and it was well; for through the marvellous dealings of Providence, the outlawry of this “wolf” of Norway led to the establishment of our royal line, and to that infusion of new spirit into England to which her greatness appears to be chiefly owing.

The banished Rolf found a great number of companions, who, like himself, were unwilling to submit to the strict rule of Harald Harfagre, and setting sail with them, he first plundered and devastated the coast of Flanders, and afterward turned toward France. In the spring of 896, the citizens of Rouen, scarcely yet recovered from the miseries inflicted upon them by the fierce Danish rover, Hasting, were dismayed by the sight of a fleet of long low vessels with spreading sails, heads carved like that of a serpent, and sterns finished like the tail of the reptile, such as they well knew to be the keels of the dreaded Northmen, the harbingers of destruction and desolation. Little hope of succor or protection was there from King Charles the Simple; and, indeed, had the sovereign been ever so warlike and energetic, it would little have availed Rouen, which might have been destroyed twice over before a messenger could reach Laon.

In this emergency, Franco, the Archbishop, proposed to go forth to meet the Northmen, and attempt to make terms for his flock. The offer was gladly accepted by the trembling citizens, and the good Archbishop went, bearing the keys of the town, to visit the camp which the Northmen had begun to erect upon the bank of the river. They offered him no violence, and he performed his errand safely. Rolf, the rude generosity of whose character was touched by his fearless conduct, readily agreed to spare the lives and property of the citizens, on condition that Rouen was surrendered to him without resistance.

Entering the town, he there established his head-quarters, and spent a whole year there and in the adjacent parts of the country, during which time the Northmen so faithfully observed their promise, that they were regarded by the Rouennais rather as friends than as conquerors; and Rolf, or Rollo, as the French called him, was far more popular among them than their real sovereign. Wherever he met with resistance, he showed, indeed, the relentless cruelty of the heathen pirate; but where he found submission, he was a kind master, and these qualities contributed to gain for him an easy and rapid conquest of Neustria, as the district of which Rouen was the capital was then called.

In the course of the following year, he advanced along the banks of the Seine as far as its junction with the Eure. On the opposite side of the river, there were visible a number of tents, where slept a numerous army which Charles had at length collected to oppose this formidable enemy. The Northmen also set up their camp, in expectation of a battle, and darkness had just closed in on them when a shout was heard on the opposite side of the river, and to their surprise a voice was heard speaking in their own language, “Brave warriors, why come ye hither, and what do ye seek?”

“We are Northmen, come hither to conquer France,” replied Rollo. “But who art thou who speakest our tongue so well?”

“Heard ye never of Hasting?” was the reply.

Hasting was one of the most celebrated of the Sea-Kings. He had fought with Alfred in England, had cruelly wasted France, and had even sailed into the Mediterranean and made himself dreaded in Italy; but with him it had been as with the old pirate in the poem:

  “Time will rust the sharpest sword,
  Time will consume the strongest cord;
  That which moulders hemp and steel,
  Mortal arm and nerve must feel.
  Of the Danish band, whom ‘Earl Hasting’ led,
  Many wax’d aged, and many were dead;
  Himself found his armor full weighty to bear,
  Wrinkled his brows grew, and hoary his hair;
  He leaned on a staff when his step went abroad,
  And patient his palfrey, when steed he bestrode.
  As he grew feebler, his wildness ceased,
  He made himself peace with prelate and priest;
  He made himself peace, and stooping his head,
  Patiently listen’d the counsel they said.

  “‘Thou hast murder’d, robb’d, and spoil’d,
  Time it is thy poor soul were assoil’d;
  Priests didst thou slay and churches burn,
  Time it is now to repentance to turn;
  Fiends hast thou worshipp’d with fiendish rite,
  Leave now the darkness and wend into light;
  Oh, while life and space are given,
  Turn thee yet, and think of heaven.’ 

  “That stern old heathen, his head he raised,
  And on the good prelate he steadfastly gazed,
  ‘Give me broad lands on the “Eure and the Seine,”
   My faith I will leave, and I’ll cleave unto thine.’ 
  Broad lands he gave him on ‘Seine and on Eure,’ 
  To be held of the king by bridle and spear,

  “For the ‘Frankish’ King was a sire in age,
  Weak in battle, in council sage;
  Peace of that heathen leader he sought,
  Gifts he gave and quiet he bought;
  And the Earl took upon him the peaceful renown,
  Of a vassal and liegeman for ‘Chartres’ good town:
  He abjured the gods of heathen race,
  And he bent his head at the font of grace;
  But such was the grizzly old proselyte’s look,
  That the priest who baptized him grew pale and shook.”
 

Such had been the history of Hasting, now Count of Chartres, who without doubt expected that his name and example would have a great effect upon his countrymen; but the answer to his question, “Heard ye never of Hasting?” met with no such answer as he anticipated.

“Yes,” returned Rollo; “he began well, but ended badly.”

“Will ye not, then,” continued the old pirate, “submit to my lord the King? Will ye not hold of him lands and honors?”

“No!” replied the Northmen, disdainfully, “we will own no lord; we will take no gift; but we will have what we ourselves can conquer by force.” Here Hasting took his departure, and returning to the French camp, strongly advised the commander not to hazard a battle; but his counsel was overruled by a young standard-bearer, who, significantly observing, “Wolves make not war on wolves,” so offended the old sea-king, that he quitted the army that night, and never again appeared in France. The wisdom of his advice was the next morning made evident, by the total defeat of the French, and the advance of the Northmen, who in a short space after appeared beneath the walls of Paris.

Failing in their attempt to take the city, they returned to Rouen, where they fortified themselves, making it the capital of the territory they had conquered.

Fifteen years passed away, the summers of which were spent in ravaging the dominions of Charles the Simple, and the winters in the city of Rouen, and in the meantime a change had come over their leader. He had been insensibly softened and civilized by his intercourse with the good Archbishop Franco; and finding, perhaps, that it was not quite so easy as he had expected to conquer the whole kingdom of France, he declared himself willing to follow the example which he had once despised, and to become a vassal of the French crown for the duchy of Neustria.

Charles, greatly rejoiced to find himself thus able to put a stop to the dreadful devastations of the Northmen, readily agreed to the terms proposed by Rollo, appointing the village of St. Clair-sur-Epte, on the borders of Neustria, as the place of meeting for the purpose of receiving his homage and oath of fealty. It was a strange meeting which there took place between the degenerate and almost imbecile descendant of the great Charles, with his array of courtly followers and his splendor and luxury, and the gigantic warrior of the North, the founder of a line of kings, in all the vigor of the uncivilized native of a cold climate, and the unbending pride of a conqueror, surrounded by his tall warriors, over whom his chieftainship had hitherto depended only on their own consent, gained by his acknowledged superiority in wisdom in council and prowess in battle.

The greatest difficulty to be overcome in this conference, was the repugnance felt by the proud Northman to perform the customary act of homage before any living man, especially one whom he held so cheap as Charles the Simple. He consented, indeed, to swear allegiance, and declare himself the “King’s man,” with his hands clasped between those of Charles; but the remaining part of the ceremony, the kneeling to kiss the foot of his liege lord, he absolutely refused, and was with difficulty persuaded to permit one of his followers to perform it in his name. The proxy, as proud as his master, instead of kneeling, took the King’s foot in his hand, and lifted it to his mouth, while he stood upright, thus overturning both monarch and throne, amid the rude laughter of his companions, while the miserable Charles and his courtiers felt such a dread of these new vassals that they did not dare to resent the insult.

On his return to Rouen, Rollo was baptized, and, on leaving the cathedral, celebrated his conversion by large grants to the different churches and convents in his new duchy, making a fresh gift on each of the days during which he wore the white robes of the newly baptized. All of his warriors who chose to follow his example, and embrace the Christian faith, received from him grants of land, to be held of him on the same terms as those by which he held the dukedom from the King; and the country, thus peopled by the Northmen, gradually assumed the appellation of Normandy.

Applying themselves with all the ardor of their temper to their new way of life, the Northmen quickly adopted the manners, language, and habits which were recommended to them as connected with the holy faith which they had just embraced, but without losing their own bold and vigorous spirit. Soon the gallant and accomplished Norman knight could scarcely have been recognized as the savage sea-robber, once too ferocious and turbulent even for his own wild country in the far North, while, at the same time, he bore as little resemblance to the cruel and voluptuous French noble, at once violent and indolent. The new war-cry of Dieu aide was as triumphant as that of Thor Hulfe had been of old, and the Red Cross led to as many victories as the Raven standard.

It is said that the word “Exchequer” is derived from the court of justice established by Rollo, so called from the word “Schicken” signifying, in his native tongue, to send, because from it judges were sent to try causes throughout the dukedom. It is also said that the appeal from them to the Duke himself, made in these terms, “J’appelle a Rou,” is the origin of the cry “Haro” by which, for centuries after his descendants had passed away from Normandy, the injured always called for justice. This was for many centuries believed in Normandy, but in fact the word Haro is only the same as our own “hurrah,” the beginning of a shout. There is no doubt, however, that the keen, unsophisticated vigor of Rollo, directed by his new religion, did great good in Normandy, and that his justice was sharp, his discipline impartial, so that of him is told the famous old story bestowed upon other just princes, that a gold bracelet was left for three years untouched upon a tree in a forest.

He had been married, as part of the treaty, to Gisèle, daughter of King Charles the Simple, but he was an old grizzly warrior, and neither cared for the other. A wife whom he had long before taken from Vermandois had borne him a son, named William, to whom he left his dukedom in 932.

All this history of Rolf, or Rollo, is, however, very doubtful; and nothing can be considered as absolutely established but that Neustria, or Normandy, was by him and his Northmen settled under a grant from the Frank king, Charles the Simple, and the French duke, Robert, Count of Paris.





CAMEO II. WILLIAM LONGSWORD AND RICHARD THE FEARLESS. (932-996.)

  Kings of England.
   927. Athelstan.
   940. Edmund I.
   947. Edwy.
   959. Edward.
   959. Ethelred II.

  Kings of France.
   936. Louis IV.
   954. Lothaire III.
   986. Louis V.
   987 Hugh Capet.

  Emperors of Germany.
   936. Otho I.
   973. Otho II.
   983. Otho III.

The Norman character was strongly marked. Their whole nature was strong and keen, full of energy, and with none of the sluggish dulness that was always growing over the faculties of the Frank and Saxon; and even to this day the same energy prevails among their descendants, a certain portion of the English nobility, and the population of Normandy and of Yorkshire.

There was a deep sense of religion, always showing itself in action, though not always consistently, and therewith a grand sense of honor and generosity, coupled, however, with a curious shrewd astuteness. The high-minded Norman was the flower of chivalry and honor, the low-minded Norman the most successful of villains—and there has often been a curious compound of both elements in the character of some of the most distinguished Normans whom history has to show.

Old Rollo caused his only son to be highly educated, and William of the Long Sword grew up a prince to be proud of. His height was majestic, his features beautiful, his complexion as pure and delicate as a maiden’s, his strength gigantic, his prowess with all the weapons on foot and on horseback unrivalled, and his wit and capacity of the brightest and most powerful. Born since his father’s arrival in France, the tales of Thor and Odin, the old giants, and the future Valhalla, wore things of the dark old past to him, and he threw himself with his whole heart into the new faith. So intensely devout was he, so fond of prayer and of the rites of the Church, that Rollo called him fitter for a cloister than a dukedom; but the choice was not open to him, an only son, with the welfare of the Normans dependent on him; and while living in the world, his saintly aspirations did not preserve him from a self-indulgent life at home, or from unjust dealing abroad. But he had many fits of devotion. Once when hunting on the banks of the Seine, he came on the ruins of the Abbey of Jumièges; which had, many years before, been destroyed by Hasting. Two old monks, who still survived, came forth to meet him, told him their history, and invited him to partake of some of their best fare. It was coarse barley bread, and the young duke, turning from it in disgust, carelessly bestowed a rich alms upon them, and eagerly pursued his sport. He had not ridden far before he roused a huge wild boar, and, in the encounter with it, he broke his sword, was thrown from his horse, and so severely injured, that his servants, on coming up, found him stretched insensible upon the ground. Believing this accident to be the just punishment of Heaven for his contempt for the old brethren, William, as soon as he recovered his senses, desired to be carried to Jumièges, and there humbly confessed his sinful feelings, and entreated their pardon.

His first care, when his health was re-established, was for the restoration of Jumièges, which he built with great splendor, and often visited. His chief desire was to enter the abbey as a brother of the order, but his wish was opposed by the excellent Abbot Martin, who pointed out to him that he ought not to desert the station to which he had been called by Heaven, nor quit the government till his son was old enough to take the charge upon himself, and at the same time encouraged him by the example of many a saint, whose heavenward road had lain through the toils and cares of a secular life.

William yielded to the arguments of the good father, but his heart was still in the peaceful abbey, and he practised in secret the devotions and austerities of the cloister to the utmost of his power, longing earnestly for the time when he might lay aside the weary load of cares of war and of government, and retire to that holy brotherhood.

In Normandy, his strict, keen justice made him greatly honored and loved, but the French greatly hated and abhorred him, and his transactions with them were sometimes cunning, sometimes violent. He had much of the old Northman about him, and had not entered into the Church’s teachings of the sanctity of marriage. Like his father, he had had a half-acknowledged wife, Espriota, who was the mother of his only child, Richard, but he put her away in order to ally himself with one of the great French families, and he had his child brought up at Bayeux, among Norse-speaking nobles, as if he would rather see him a Norseman than a, French prince.

The bold and devout but inconsistent William was the dread of all his neighbors, and especially of Arnulf, Count of Flanders. William was in alliance with Herluin, Count of Montreuil, against Arnulf; when, in 942, he was invited to a conference on a small island in the Somme, and there, having contrived to separate him from his followers, at a given signal one of the Flemings struck him down with an oar, and a number of daggers were instantly plunged into his breast.

The Flemings made their escape in safety, leaving the bleeding corpse upon the island, where the Normans, who had seen the murder, without being able to prevent or revenge it, reverently took it up, and brought it back to Rouen. Beneath the robes of state they found it dressed in a hair-cloth shirt, and round the neck was a chain sustaining a golden key, which was rightly judged to belong to the chest where he kept his choicest treasure; but few would have guessed what was the treasure so valued by the knightly duke of the martial name, and doubtless there were many looks of wonder among the Norman barons, when the chest was opened, and disclosed, instead of gold and jewels, the gown and hood, the sandals and rosary, of a brother of the Benedictine order.

He was buried beside his father, in the cathedral of Rouen, amid the universal lamentations of his vassals; and his greatest friend and counsellor, Bernard the Dane, Count of Harcourt, fetched from Bayeux his only child, Richard, only eight years old, to be solemnly invested with the ducal sword and mantle, and to receive the homage of the Normans. [Footnote: This is the Norman legend. The French Chronicles point to Norman treachery.] The bitter hatred of the French to the Normans could not but break out in the minority.

To the surprise of the Normans, Louis IV., king of France, suddenly arrived at Rouen, to claim, as he said, the homage of his young vassal. On the following day, Richard did not, as usual, appear beyond the walls of the castle, and there were rumors that he was detained there by order of the king. Assembling in great numbers, the Rouennais came before the castle, shouting loudly for “Richard! Richard! our little Duke!” nor could they be pacified till Louis appeared at the window, lifting young Richard in his arms, and made them a speech upon the gratitude and admiration which he pretended to feel for Duke William, to whom he said he owed his restoration to the throne of his fathers, and whose son he promised to regard as his own child.

On leaving Rouen, Louis claimed the right of taking Richard with him, as the guardian of all crown vassals in their minority; and Bernard de Harcourt, finding it impossible to resist, only stipulated that the young Duke should never be separated from his Norman esquire, Osmond de Centeville, who on his side promised to keep a careful watch over him. Richard was accordingly conducted to Montleon, and made the companion of the two young princes, Lothaire and Carloman, and for some time no more was heard respecting him in Normandy. At last arrived a message from Osmond de Centeville, sent in secret with considerable difficulty, telling the Normans to pray that their young duke might be delivered out of the hands of his enemies, for that he was convinced that evil was intended, since he was closely watched; and one day when he had gone down to the river to bathe, the queen had threatened him with cruel punishments if he again left the place. Bernard immediately ordered a three days’ fast, during which prayers for the safety of the little duke were offered in every church in Normandy, and further tidings were anxiously awaited.

In the meantime the faithful squire was devising a plan of escape. He caused the young Richard to feign illness, and thus obtained a slight relaxation of the vigilance with which his movements, were watched, which enabled him to carry to the duke’s apartments a great bundle of hay. At nightfall he rolled Richard up in the midst of it, and laying it across his shoulders, he crossed the castle court to the stable, as if he was going to feed his horse, and as soon as it was dark he mounted, placing the boy before him, and galloped off to a castle on the borders of Normandy, where the rescued prince was greeted with the greatest joy.

The escape of his ward was followed by an open declaration of war on the part of Louis IV., upon which the Count de Harcourt sent to Denmark to ask succor from King Harald Blue-tooth, who, mindful of Duke William’s kindness, himself led a numerous force to Normandy. Bernard, pretending to consider this as a piratical invasion, sent to ask Louis to assist him in expelling the heathens. Louis entered Normandy, and came in sight of the Danish host on the banks of the river Dives, where Harald summoned him to leave the dukedom to its rightful owner. Louis desired a conference, and a tent was pitched between the armies, where the two kings met.

Bernard advised the King of France not to bring Herluin de Montreuil to this meeting, since the Normans considered him as the occasion of their duke’s death; but the French replied that no Dane should hinder their king from taking with him whomsoever he pleased. While the two kings were in the tent, Herluin, seeing a knight from the Cotentin, with whom he was acquainted, went up to him and inquired after his health.

The Danes asked who he was, and the knight replied, “Count Herluin, who caused Duke William’s death;” whereupon the wild Danes rushed upon him, and killed him with their battle-axes.

A general conflict ensued; the French were put to flight, and by the time the kings came out of the tent, the battle was decided. Louis mounted his horse in order to rejoin his troops, but the animal ran with him into the midst of the enemy, where Harald caught his bridle, made him prisoner, and delivered him to four knights to keep. While, however, they were engaged in plundering, he made his escape, and had ridden four leagues when he met a soldier of Rouen, whom he bribed to hide him in an island in the Seine, until he could find a fit opportunity of quitting Normandy. Harald and Bernard, however, by making strict inquiries, discovered that the soldier knew where he was, and seizing the man’s wife and children, threatened to put them to death if he did not put the king into their hands. Louis was accordingly delivered to them, but they shortly after released him on receiving his two sons as hostages.

The younger of the two princes died shortly after his arrival in Normandy; and anxiety for Lothaire, the remaining son, induced his father to come to terms with the Normans; and, at St. Clair-sur-Epte, Louis swore to leave Richard in undisturbed possession of his lands, and to extend the limits of the duchy as far as the banks of the Epte, after which the young duke paid him homage, and restored his son to him.

Richard then returned to Rouen, which he had not visited since he had been carried to the French court, and was greeted with great joy by the citizens, who were much delighted by his appearance, the height of his figure, and the beauty of his countenance. The King of Denmark was also received by them with great enthusiasm, who, after spending some time at Rouen, returned home.

At the age of fourteen, Richard was betrothed to Emma, daughter of Hugh the White, Count of Paris, a nobleman whose increasing power had long been a subject of jealousy both to the court of Flanders and to the King of France. On hearing of the intended connection between these two mighty vassals, they united their forces to prevent it, and called in the aid of Otho, Emperor of Germany, and Conrad, King of Burgundy.

While Louis and Conrad attacked the Count, Otho and Arnulf entered Normandy, and laid siege to Rouen, but on the way thither were attacked by an ambuscade under the command of the young Richard himself, who now for the first time bore arms, and greatly signalized himself, putting the Germans to flight, and killing the Emperor’s nephew with his own hand.

Otho still advanced and invested Rouen. Wishing to know what resources the city contained, he sent to ask Richard’s permission to enter it, in order to pay his devotions at the shrine of St. Ouen. His request was granted, and in passing through the streets he perceived that the city was so well defended that he could not hope to take it. On his return to the camp, he told his council that he intended to make his peace with the Duke of Normandy, by delivering up to him the Count of Flanders, the author of the expedition. His council, however, persuaded him that this would be a disgraceful action; and Arnulf, receiving some hint of his proposal, in the middle of the night quitted the camp with all his men, and returned to Flanders. The noise of his departure awoke the Germans, who, imagining themselves to be attacked by the besieged, armed themselves in haste, and there was great confusion till morning, when, perceiving The departure of the Flemings, they set fire to their camp, and took the road to Germany. The Normans, sallying out of the town, harassed the rear, killed a number of them, and took many prisoners, and a great quantity of baggage.

In 954, Louis was killed by a fall from his horse, and was succeeded by his son Lothaire, who inherited all his dislike to the Normans, and especially hated the young duke, the companion of his boyhood, whose fame had so far exceeded his own, both in feats of arms and skill in government, and who, though only twenty-three, had been chosen by the wise and great Count of Paris as the guardian of his children, and the model on which his sons were to form themselves.

Twice did Lothaire, in conjunction with Count Thibaut de Chartres, a young nobleman who envied the fame of Richard, attempt to assassinate him at a conference; and the former, despairing of ridding himself of him by treachery, assembled an army of fifty thousand men, entered Normandy, and besieged Rouen. Here Richard, in a sudden night-attack on his camp, dispersed his forces, and took a great number of prisoners, all of whom he released without a ransom. Then, pursuing his advantage, he entered the county of Chartres, but he was obliged to return to his duchy, to defend it against a powerful league of all the neighboring princes, formed by the king.

Fearing to be crushed by so mighty a force, he sent to ask succor from his old friend, the king of Denmark, who, though too aged and infirm to come himself to Normandy, equipped a numerous fleet, and sent his best warriors to Richard.

The ravages which they committed compelled the king to send the Bishop of Chartres to sue for peace, but he would not venture into the camp without an escort from the duke, lest, as he said, “the Danish wolves should devour him on the way.”

On his arrival, he implored Richard to have compassion on the French, who suffered dreadful miseries from the Danes; and the duke, always desirous of peace, willingly engaged to treat with the king, and withdrew his forces into Normandy, to the great disappointment of the Danes, who had expected to dethrone Lothaire, and to place the gallant Richard on his throne. They were much surprised at the moderation of the demands which he, a conqueror, made to the humiliated Lothaire, only desiring to be left in quiet possession of his inheritance, and that a pardon should be granted for all injuries committed on either side during the war.

Lothaire gladly agreed to these terms, and the remainder of Richard’s life was spent in peace. Such of the latter’s subjects as had been trained to arms in the constant wars during his minority, found employment in combats with the Greeks and Saracens in Italy, where the twelve sons of a Norman knight, named Tancred de Hauteville, laid the foundation of the kingdoms of the Two Sicilies. Their place was supplied by the Danish allies, who, full of admiration for the Fearless Duke, were desirous of embracing his religion, and living under his government. Thibaut de Chartres came to Normandy to implore his pardon, and was received with such kindness that he was overcome with shame at his former conduct.

Richard was a stern but honorable man, and the courage and ability which he displayed throughout these wars made a great impression on his Danish allies, who were induced, in great numbers, to adopt the religion of the Fearless Duke, and to live under his government.

How the truly great man takes his revenge, was indeed shown by Richard the Fearless, the last time he took any part in the affairs of the nation. It was when Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, once his ward, had been raised to the throne of France by the authority of the Pope, and having received the homage of every crown vassal excepting Arnulf of Flanders, proceeded to ravage his county and seize his towns. Arnulf, completely reduced, saw no hope for himself except in throwing himself on the mercy of Duke Richard, the very man whose father he had murdered, and whom he had pursued with the most unrelenting hatred from his earliest childhood. Richard had but to allow royal justice to take its course, and he would have been fully avenged; but he who daily knelt before the altar of the Church of Fescamp, had learnt far other lessons. He went to Hugh Capet, and so pleaded with him, that he not only obtained the pardon of Arnulf, but the restoration of the whole of his county, and of both his cities. Thus, without doubt, would the saintly William Longsword have desired to be revenged by his only son.

Richard Sans Peur lived nine years after this, spending his time, for the most part, in the Abbey of Fescamp, in devotion and works of charity, and leaving the government to his eldest son, Richard the Good. He is thus described by a Norman chronicler who knew him well in his old age: “He was tall and well-proportioned, his countenance was noble, his beard was long, and his head covered with white hair. He was a pious benefactor to the monks, supplied the wants of the clergy, despised the proud, loved the humble, aided the poor, the widow and the orphan, and delighted in ransoming prisoners.”

He caused a stone coffin to be made for himself in his lifetime, and placed in the Church of Fescamp, where, every Friday, he filled it with wheat, which was afterwards distributed among the poor. In this Abbey he died in 996, desiring to be buried outside the church, close beneath the eaves, “where,” said he, “the droppings of water from the roof may fall on me, and wear away the stains of earthly corruption.”

His daughter Emma is often mentioned in English history as the wife of Ethelred the Unready, and afterward of Knut. She has often been much blamed for this second marriage with the enemy of her country, but it should be remembered how nearly the Northmen and Danes were connected, and that Knut was the grandson of her father’s ally, Harald Blue-tooth.

The great event of Richard’s time was the above-mentioned recognition of Hugh Capet as King of France. The Caroline race were Franks, chiefly German in blood, and had never fully amalgamated with the race called French, a mixture of Roman and Gallic, with only an upper stratum of the true Frank. When the Counts of Paris obtained the throne, and the line of Charlemagne retired into the little German county of Lotharingia, or Lorraine, then France became really France, and a nation with a national sovereign. Still it was a very small domain. Provence was part of the German Empire, so was Burgundy; Anjou, Normandy, and Brittany were almost independent, though owning a sort of allegiance to the king who reigned at Paris.





CAMEO III. YOUTH OF THE CONQUEROR. (1036-1066.)

  Kings of England.
   1016. Knut.
   1036. Harold I.
   1039. Harthaknut.
   1041. Edward the
             Confessor.

  Kings of France.
   1031. Henry IV.
   1039. Philip I.

 Emperors of Germany.
   1021. Conrad II.
   1039. Henry III.
   1055. Henry IV.

Richard, called the Good, son of Richard Sans Peur, does not seem to have been in all respects equal to his father, nor did much that is worthy of note occur in his time.

He died in 1026, leaving two sons, Richard and Robert, both violent and turbulent young men, the younger of whom was called, from his fiery temper, Robert the Devil. After a fierce dispute respecting Robert’s appanage, the two brothers were suddenly reconciled, and, immediately afterward, Richard died, not without suspicion, on the part of the French, that he had been poisoned by his brother.

The Normans gave little heed to the calumny, and, in fact, the open, generous temper of Robert was by no means likely to belong to a secret murderer. The splendor of his court, and munificence of his gifts, acquired for him the name of Robert the Magnificent, and the following, among other instances, is recorded of his liberality:

When attending mass at the Abbey of Cerizy, his own foundation, he one day remarked a stranger knight, when asked for his alms at the offertory, reply sadly, that he had nothing to give. He beckoned to a squire, and sent him to present the poor stranger with a purse containing a hundred pounds, which the knight immediately offered on the altar. After the mass was over, the sacristan came to ask him if he knew bow large the sum was, or if he had given it by mistake, to which he replied, that he had offered it wittingly, since it was for no other end that the Duke had sent it to him. His answer was reported by the sacristan to the Duke, who instantly sent the high-minded stranger a second purse, containing the same sum for his own use.

Robert founded nine monasteries, and made large gifts to all the churches in his duchy, entreating the prayers of the clergy and of the poor, for the pardon of the sins of his youth; but his conscience was ill at ease, and in the sixth year of his dukedom he resolved to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a journey which was then even more perilous than in subsequent years, when the Crusades had, in some degree, secured the safety of the pilgrims, and he seems to have been fully persuaded that he should never return alive.

His chief care was for the welfare of his son, William, a boy of seven years old, whose situation was the more precarious, because there was a stain on his birth, his mother being the daughter of a tanner of Falaise, so that it was more than probable that his right to the succession would be disputed by the numerous descendants of Richard Sans Peur. Robert did his best to secure his safety by calling together the vassals to do homage to him, and placing him under the especial protection of Henry I. of France, at whose court at Paris he left him.

Robert then set out on his pilgrimage, with a few companions, all wearing the coarse garb of pilgrims, with staves in their hands, and their feet bare. As they were passing the gates of a small town in Franche Comté, Robert walking last, an insolent warder, tired of holding the gate open, struck him such a blow on the shoulders with a halbert that he reeled under it, but so changed was his once violent temper, that, seeing his friends about to revenge the insult, he called out, “Let him alone; pilgrims ought to suffer for the love of God. I love his blow better than my city of Rouen.”

The next time Robert was heard of, was in humble guise, with staff and wallet, when he received the blessing of the Pope at Rome; but afterward, when he entered Constantinople, he appeared in all his wonted magnificence. He rode to the palace of the Greek Emperor on a mule, shod with golden shoes, so slightly fastened on as to be shaken off amongst the crowds who surrounded him.

He travelled onward through Asia Minor, though attacked by a fever, which obliged him to be carried in a litter by Moorish slaves—as he himself expressed it to a Norman pilgrim whom he met returning, “to be carried by devils to Paradise.” Safely arriving at Jerusalem, he there paid the entrance-money for a multitude of poor pilgrims, whom he found shut out because they were unable to pay the large toll demanded by the Saracens; and after performing the accustomed devotions at the different consecrated spots in the Holy City, he set out on his return to Normandy. His health was already impaired by the fatigues of the journey, and he died at the city of Nicaea, in the year 1035. There, in the now profaned sanctuary, where was held the first general Council of the Church, rests, in his nameless and forgotten grave, the last of the high-spirited and devout Dukes of Normandy.

From the time of the departure of Duke Robert, dangers crowded round the ducal throne of his child; nor were they, as in the stormy minority of Richard Sans Peur, perils chiefly from enemies without, met by a band of vassals, strong in attachment to their lord. The foes who threatened the young William were of his own family, and his own subjects, and there was none of that generous temper, even amongst his chief supporters, which, in the case of his great-grandfather, had made the scenes of war and bloodshed in which he was brought up, a school not of valor alone, but of the higher virtues of chivalry.

The Norman barons, greatly altered from what they had been in the days when the justice of Rollo prevailed, lived shut up in their strong castles, making war on each other, like independent princes plundering the poor, and committing horrible cruelties, entirely unrestrained by the guardians of the Duke. These, indeed, seemed to be the especial mark for the attacks of the traitors, for his tutor and seneschal were both murdered; the latter, Osborn, Count de Breteuil, while sleeping in the same room with him. Osborn left a son, William, called from his name Fils, or Fitz Osborn, who grew up with the young Duke, and became his chief companion and friend.

It is wonderful that William himself should have escaped death, when so completely unprotected; but he was preserved through all these dangers for the task which was prepared for him; and at a very early age, his numerous troubles had formed his character in the mould fittest for him, who was to be the scourge of England, and yet the founder of its greatness.

He was not sixteen when he first showed of what temper he was. His great-uncle, the Count d’Arques, had set up a claim to the duchy, and was besieged in his castle at Arques by Walter Gifford, Count de Longueville, when the King of France succeeded in sending him such considerable reinforcements and supplies, that Longueville sent information that he should be obliged to raise the siege. The tidings reached the Duke, at his hunting-lodge of Valognes. He stood for a few moments in deep thought, and then called for his horse, only saying to his knights these few words, “Qui m’aime, me suive!” “Let him who loves me, follow me!” and rode off at full speed. He distanced all his followers, rode all night, only stopping to take a fresh horse, and in the evening of the next day arrived quite alone at the camp before Arques, swearing never to leave it till the castle was in his hands. The siege was continued with vigor, and, in a short time, it was surrendered, the Count taking refuge in France.

From this time William took the direction of affairs into his own hands, and, by his firmness and ability, succeeded in restraining the excesses of his lawless vassals, though their turbulence, and the severity of his own silent and haughty disposition, made their submission very unwilling. When he was about twenty, a dangerous conspiracy was formed against him by his cousin, Guy of Burgundy, and a number of his chief vassals, who intended to seize him at his hunting-lodge at Valognes, put him to death, and raise Guy to the dukedom.

The conspirators met at Bayeux, the day before their intended treachery, and, whilst dining there, called in to amuse them a half-witted man named Gillos, and the plot was, inadvertently, mentioned in his presence. The duke, when passing through the town, had shown the poor man some kindness, and no sooner did he understand the intended treachery, than he left the hall, and set off for Valognes, where he arrived just before midnight, and, finding all gone to rest, began to batter the door with a stick, shouting for the Duke. At first, William could not believe the story, but Gillos seemed so much in earnest, that he deemed it advisable to go and see what had given rise to the report, and, muffling himself in a cloak, ran down stairs, himself saddled his horse, and rode toward Bayeux. Before he had gone far, he heard the trampling of horses and clanking of weapons, and, concealing himself among the trees, saw that the poor fool’s information was perfectly correct, for the whole band of traitors passed by exactly as they had been described. Upon this, he changed his course, and turned toward the coast in the direction of Falaise, his birthplace, and the town most devoted to his interests. The dawn of morning found him with his horse so weary that it could hardly stand, at the entrance of a small village, still at a considerable distance from Falaise, and ignorant of the road. At that moment a gentleman came out of the principal house, and the instant he beheld the young horseman, travel-stained and covered with dust as he was, he exclaimed, “St. Mary, my Lord, what can have brought you here in such a condition?”

“Who are you, who know me so well?” asked William, in reply.

“By my faith,” was the answer, “I am called Hubert de Ryes. I hold this village of you under the Count de Bessin. Tell me, boldly, what you need; I will help you as I would help myself.”

Accordingly, Hubert de Byes took him into his house, gave him some refreshment, and provided him with a fresh horse, sending his three sons with him as guides, whilst he himself remained to misdirect the pursuers, William safely arrived at Falaise, and, in memory of his escape, is said to have caused his path to be traced out by a raised bank of earth, part of which is still in existence.

Rallying his faithful subjects around him at Falaise, and obtaining aid from the king, William met the rebels at Val des Demes. One of them came over to his side before the battle, and, having previously sworn that the Duke should be the first man whom he would strike, he began by giving his armor a slight blow with the point of his lance, considering it necessary thus to fulfil his rash oath to the letter. The rebels were totally defeated, and either submitted to William’s mercy, or went to join their countrymen, who were engaged in the conquest of Sicily.

This was the last attempt made by the Normans to resist their Duke, whose authority was now fully established; but it was not long before a war broke out with his powerful neighbor Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, which, however, would scarcely deserve mention, but for the curious terms in which a challenge was sent by the Duke to the Count, who had come to raise the siege of Domfront.

“Tell the Count of Anjou,” said he to William Fitz Osborn and Roger Montgomery, his messengers, “that if he attempts to carry victuals into Domfront, he will find me before the gates, mounted on a bay horse, and with a red shield. And that he may know me the better, I shall have at the point of my lance a streamer of taffety, to wipe his face withal.”

In the battle which followed, a few days after, William fulfilled his threat, by overthrowing the Count, who escaped with difficulty, with the loss of part of an ear, and was soon after obliged to conclude a peace.

William married Matilda, daughter of the Count of Flanders, and of a sister of Duke Robert the Magnificent; and having omitted to ask the dispensation from the Pope, which was required on the marriage of such near relations, his uncle, the Archbishop of Rouen, laid them both under sentence of excommunication. William sought for an advocate to send to Rome to plead for their absolution, and his choice fell upon Lanfranc, a native of Lombardy, who had been bred as a lawyer, and was possessed of great learning and talent, but had chosen to embrace the monastic life, and had selected the Norman abbey of Bee as the place of his profession, because the monks there were very poor, and very strict in the observance of their rule. Lanfranc, at the Duke’s desire, travelled to Rome, and there succeeded in obtaining the confirmation of the marriage, and the absolution of the bride and bridegroom, on condition of their each founding an abbey, and jointly building a hospital for the blind.

In accordance with this command, Matilda built the beautiful Abbaye aux Dames at Caen, where her eldest daughter, Cecile, afterward took the veil, and William founded, at the same place, the Abbey of St. Stephen, of which Lanfranc was the first abbot. But fair as were the proportions of that exquisite building, noble as were its clustered columns, and rich as were the zigzag mouldings of its deep arches, its foundation was insecure, for it was on iniquity. It stood on ground violently taken from a number of poor people; and where could the blessing of Heaven have been?

Twenty-three years afterward a grave was dug in the noble choir of St. Stephen’s Church, and William’s corpse was carried through the porch, followed by a long train of nobles, knights, and clergy, but by not one of his numerous children. The requiem was chanted, and orations were made in praise of the Duke of Normandy, the King and Conqueror of England, the founder of abbeys, the builder of churches, when suddenly the cry of “Ha Ro!”—the Norman appeal for justice—was heard, and a man in mean garments stood forth, and spoke thus: “Clerks and Bishops, this ground is mine. Here was my father’s hearth. The man whom you praise wrested it from me to build this church. I sold it not. I made no grant of it. It is my right, and I claim it. In the name of Rollo, the founder of his family, and of our laws, I forbid you to lay the body of the spoiler therein, or to cover it with my earth.”

The Bishops were obliged to promise satisfaction to the man, and to pay him on the spot sixty pence as the price of the Conqueror’s grave. But, even then, his bones were not permitted to rest in peace. In the course of the civil wars of France, his tomb was twice broken open by the Huguenots, the first time rifled of the royal ornaments in which he had been arrayed, and the second, the spoilers, disappointed of their expected prize, cast out the mouldering bones, and dispersed them.





CAMEO IV. EARL GODWIN. (1012-1052.)

  Kings of England.
   1013. Swein.
   1014. Knut.
   1015. Ethelred the Unready (restored).
   1016. Edmund Ironside.
   1018. Knut.
   1036. Harold I.
   1039. Harthaknut.
   1041. Edward the Confessor.

The Danish conquest of England, although the power of the kings of that nation continued but a short time, made great changes in the condition of the country. The customs and laws that had hitherto been observed only in the lands granted by Alfred to the Danes, spread into almost all the kingdom, and the civilization which the great king had striven so hard to introduce was well-nigh swept away.

England might be considered to be in three divisions—the West Saxon, subject to the laws of Alfred; the Mercian, which had a law of its own; and the East Anglian and Northern portion, where the population was chiefly Danish, and which was therefore more under the immediate power of the Danish kings. Under them, London became the royal residence, instead of Winchester, and several words in our language still attest their influence upon our customs. Of these is the word Hustings, for a place of public assembly; and the title of Earl, for which the English language afforded no feminine, till it borrowed the word Countess from the French, reminds us that the Northern Jarls were only governors during the king’s pleasure, and that their dignity conferred no rank on their families.

Under the Danish kings, the other divisions of England fell under the rule of three great Earls. The Danish Northumbria was ruled by the great Northman Siward Bjorn; Mercia was governed by the house of Leofric, an old noble family connected with the ancient line of Mercian kings.

There were many of this family named Leofric, and it is probably of the one living at this time that the curious old tradition of Coventry belongs, which related how his wife, the Lady Godiva, rode through the town with no covering but her abundant hair, to obtain from him the remission of the townspeople from his oppressive exactions—a story of which the memory is kept up at Coventry by a holiday, and the procession of the Lady Godiva.

Wessex had become the portion of Godwin, son of Ulfnoth, and great-nephew to the traitor, Edric Streona, the murderer of Edmund Ironside. There is a story, probably a mere fiction, that this family was of mean origin, that Ulfnoth was a herdsman of the south of Warwickshire, and that Godwin first rose to distinction in the following manner: Ulf, a Danish Jarl, who had married a sister of Knut, was separated from the army after one of the battles with Edmund Ironside, and after wandering all night, met in the morning with a youth driving a herd of cattle. He asked his name, and the reply was, “I am Godwin, the son of Ulfnoth; and you, I think, are a Dane.”

Ulf confessed that he was, and begged the young man to show him the way to the Severn, where he expected to find the fleet.

“The Dane would be a fool who trusted to a Saxon,” answered Godwin; and when Ulf continued his entreaties, he explained that the way was not long, but that the serfs were all in arms against the Danes, and would kill both him and any one whom they found guiding him. Ulf offered the young herdsman a golden ring for his reward. He looked at it a moment, then said, “I will take nothing from you, but I will be your guide,” and led him home to his father’s cottage, where he was hidden through the whole day. At night, when he prepared to set forth, Ulfnoth told him that Godwin would not be able to return, since the peasants would kill him for having protected a Dane, and therefore begged that the Jarl would keep him among his own people, and present him to the King.

Ulf promised, and this, it is said, was the foundation of Godwin’s greatness; but there is great reason to doubt the tale, and it is far more probable that the family was anciently noble. Godwin married Gyda, the sister of Ulf, and thus was brought into near connection with Knut; but Ulf, his patron and brother-in-law, soon after was killed in one of those outbursts of violence and cruelty to which Knut seemed to return whenever he went back to his own savage North.

Knut had been defeated by the Swedes at Helge, and was at Roskild, when he was playing at chess in the evening with Ulf, and, making an oversight, lost a knight. He took the piece back again, changed his move, and desired his opponent to go on playing; but the Jarl, choosing to play chess on equal terms or not at all, threw down the board, and went away.

“Run away, Ulf the Fearful!” said Knut.

Ulf turned back, and answered, “Thou wouldst have run further at Helge river! Thou didst not call me Ulf the Fearful when I came to thy help while the Swedes were beating thee like a dog.”

Knut brooded on the offence all night, and in the morning sent his page to kill the Jarl. The page found him at his prayers in church, and therefore refrained; but Knut sent another of his followers, who slew him as he knelt.

Godwin had, before this, gained too much favor to be likely to fall with his brother-in-law. He was with the king on an expedition against the Wends, and on the night before an intended battle, made a sudden attack without Knut’s knowledge, and completely routed them. His talents were so much appreciated, that he received the great Earldom of Wessex, the portion of England least under the power of the Danes, and where the old line of Alfred was most loved and regretted, since it was their hereditary kingdom.

For this reason Godwin was desirous to maintain the Danes in England after Knut’s death, and to keep the scattered royal line at a distance. Harthaknut, whom the will of his father had called to the succession, was absent in Denmark, and Godwin caused his brother, Harold Harefoot, to be crowned in haste, though the Archbishop would not sanction the usurpation, placed the crown and sceptre on the altar, and forbade the bishops to give him their blessing.

Alfred and Edward, the two sons of Ethelred the Unready, had in the meantime been brought up under the protection of their uncle, Richard the Good, of Normandy, dwelling for the most part in those beautiful Abbeys of Fescamp and Jumièges, which had been endowed by the piety of the Dukes, and where they grew up in godliness and virtue, with gentle manners and civilized tastes, far unlike to those which prevailed in their native land. Robert the Magnificent was a great friend to them, and his death on his pilgrimage made their abode in Normandy far less peaceful and secure.

Soon after the coronation of Harold Harefoot, they received a letter purporting to come from their mother, Emma, widow of Knut, inviting them to assert their claim to their father’s throne. Edward, with a band of Normans, met his mother at Winchester, but he could not keep his followers from plundering the country; and finding little hope of success, gave up the attempt, and returned to Normandy. Alfred landed at Sandwich, in Kent, and was so well received by the Archbishop and people, that Godwin, becoming alarmed, had recourse to treachery, pretended to own him as king, and conducted him to Guilford. Thither King Harold sent his Danes, who seized the prince’s followers, after Godwin’s men had dispersed them through the town and stupefied them with drink. Every tenth man was killed, the rest were sold for slaves, and Alfred himself was carried to Ely, where his eyes were torn out, and he died of the injury. His mother, Emma, fled to Bruges, and this makes it probable that either she never sent the letter at all, or was only the innocent instrument of Godwin’s desire to rid himself of the royal family; but her son Edward believed her to have been knowingly concerned in this horrible transaction, and never regarded her as guiltless of his brother’s death. It is possible that Godwin may also have been free from treachery, and have meant well by the prince.

Her other son, Harthaknut, left Denmark to join her at Bruges, intending in the spring to drive Harold from the throne; but death was beforehand with him. Harold died in 1040, and Harthaknut had only to come to England to take possession of the crown. Both these young men were, at heart, savage Danes; and the first deed of Harthaknut, on his arrival, was to satisfy his vengeance for the usurpation of his throne and the murder of Alfred, by causing Harold’s corpse to be taken from its grave, the head cut off, and the body thrown into a marsh. He threatened to punish Godwin, but the Earl averted his wrath by the present of one of the long serpent-like keels prized by the Danes, the prow gilded, and the crew of eighty men, each fully equipped, and with a gold bracelet on the left arm.

Harthaknut was pacified by this gift, and contented himself with sending for his surviving half-brother Edward from Normandy, and treating him as became the Atheling. The wild, half-heathen court of Harthaknut was a strange and bewildering change for the gentle Edward, whose habits and tastes were only suited to the convent where he had spent his early days, and who found in the rough affection of his Danish brother his only protection from the fierce spirits around. His grief and dismay were great when, after he had spent a few months in England, he heard that Harthaknut, at the wedding-feast of the daughter of the Dane, Osgood Clapa, from whom Clapham is named, had died suddenly, immediately after an excessive draught of wine.

Edward found himself left without protection in the hands of the fierce men who had murdered his brother. He was forty years old, and of an inactive, timid disposition, which unfitted him for taking any bold measures in this emergency; his affections were in the convents of Normandy, and with the young son of his friend, Duke Robert, and he earnestly entreated Godwin to allow him to return in safety thither.

The Earl, however, saw that neither Saxons nor Danes would submit to the authority of one who was not of royal blood, and that the best hope of preserving the power he had acquired in the latter reigns, was by setting up a weak king, and governing in his name. He therefore replied by tendering his submission to Edward, and promising to support him on the throne, on condition that he would marry Edith, his daughter, so fair, so gentle, and pious a lady, that it was a saying, “Even as the rose springs from the thorn, so springs Edith from Godwin.” She was very learned, and Ingulf, who afterward was the secretary of the Conqueror, and Abbot of Croyland, loved to remember how, when he was a boy come from his convent-school to visit his father at the court, the Lady Edith would send for him, examine him in his studies, and end by causing her maiden to count out three or four coins into his hand, and sending him to the royal larder for refreshment.

Edward was thus placed upon the throne, and every act performed of his own free will showed his gentleness and desire for his people’s good. At the request of Edith, he abolished the Danegeld, or money raised first to bribe the Danes, and then as their tribute; indeed, it was said that he had seen a vision of an evil spirit dancing on the gold thus collected. He made new laws in hopes of preventing crime, and set so strict an example of attention to every rule of the Church, and giving alms so largely, that he gained the love of his people, and fixed his memory in their hearts so strongly, that he was revered as a Saint, and the title of Confessor was given to him, though it properly only applies to one who has suffered everything short of martyrdom, for the sake of the Christian faith.

The times were too rude and violent for a king of so soft a mould: crimes were committed which he had no power to restrain, and, weak-handed and bewildered, he seems to have acted in great matters much as he did in the following adventure: He was lying on his bed, when a person came into the apartment, and, thinking him asleep, stole some money out of a chest. The King let this pass; but when the thief returned for a second handful, he quietly said, “Sirrah, you had better take care, for if Hugolin, my chamberlain, catches you, he will give you a sound beating.” Hugolin soon came in, and was much concerned at the loss. “Never mind,” said the King; “the poor man wants it more than we do.”

The sons of Godwin were growing up rude, high-spirited young men, who presumed on their connection with the King to hold him cheap, and laugh at him to his face. Sweyn, the eldest, was the worst, and at last caused himself to be banished from the realm by the crime of carrying off the Abbess from the Convent of Leominster. He then spent the life of a pirate, in the course of which he visited the coast, and, while pretending to attempt to be reconciled to his family, treacherously murdered his cousin Biorn. After six years he repented, went barefoot on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and died while returning. The other brothers were stained with no such enormities, but they were dreaded and disliked by the King, who naturally turned to the friends of his youth, the Normans.

Norman dresses and customs were introduced, the King’s own handwriting was in the foreign character, and he expressed his assent to the laws by appending to them an impression of his seal, after the fashion of the kings of France. He likewise invited many of his old friends from Normandy, gave some of them lands in England, where they built fortified castles, and bestowed the bishopries and abbeys upon Norman ecclesiastics. Great discontent arose upon this, and Godwin and his sons took advantage of them to gain popularity, by strenuously opposing everything Norman, and maintaining, as they said, the old English customs.

Eustace als Gernons (the Whiskered), Count de Mantes, who had married the King’s sister, came to visit Edward. At Dover a squabble took place between his followers and the townspeople, in which several persons on both sides were killed. Edward ordered Godwin to chastise the townspeople, but, instead of this, the Earl collected an army, and marched upon the King himself. They would have made him prisoner but for Leofric of Mercia, and Siward, Earl of Northumbria, who both came to his rescue, and drove Godwin and his family into exile.

Edward now felt himself truly King of England, and was able to enjoy a short visit from the Duke of Normandy, who came to see him, and probably then first conceived the hope of obtaining the crown of the ill-governed and divided country that seemed ready to fall a prey to the first vigorous enemy.

Earl Godwin was not long in assembling his friends, and making a descent on the coast. All Kent and London rose in his favor, and Edward was obliged to permit his return, and be reconciled to him.

Very shortly after his return, he was struck with a fit of apoplexy, while feasting with the King at Easter. He was borne from the table by his two eldest surviving sons, Harold and Tostig, and died five days after, in the year 1052. The Norman chroniclers give the following account of his death: One of the cup-bearers, while serving the King, happened to make a false step, but saved himself from falling by the foot, at which Godwin observed, “See how one brother helps another!”

“Yes,” said the king, “so would my brother have helped me, had he lived.”

“I know you suspect me of his death,” replied Godwin, “but may God, who is true and just, cause this morsel of bread to choke me, if I am guilty of his murder.”

Scarcely had he spoken the words before he fell back, struck by the hand of Heaven, and never uttered another word. Much doubt has been cast upon this story, since it comes to us through Normans, who were great enemies of his house. There is, however, nothing incredible in it; and other instances have been known of persons who thus defied and brought upon themselves the judgment of Heaven, in the full course of their crimes.

There is a propensity in these days to exalt the character of Godwin, as if he had been an honest supporter of the old English habits against foreign innovations. It is an entirely mistaken view, since Godwin climbed into power by the favor of the enemies and destroyers of his country, murdered the prince of the ancient line, and throughout the reign of the lawful successor disturbed his peace, and attempts at civilization, by factious opposition. Norman customs would have done far less harm to England than the Danish invaders among whom Godwin had contentedly spent the best years of his life. He seems throughout to have listened only to his own ambition, and to have scrupled at nothing that could promote his interest. Eloquence, and attention to the humors of the nation, won for him wealth and power that rendered him formidable to the King, and he built up a great name and fortune for himself, but brief and fleeting was the inheritance that he bequeathed to his sons. In fourteen years from his death only one of his brave band of sons survived, and he was a miserable captive, who spent his whole existence in the dungeons of his chief enemy. It seemed as if nothing that Godwin had acquired could be enduring, for the very lands he left behind him no longer exist, his chief estate on the coast of Kent was swallowed by the sea, and now forms the dangerous shoal called the Goodwin Sands.

“Wise men also die and perish together, as well as the ignorant and foolish, and leave their riches for other.

“And yet they think their houses shall continue forever; and that their dwelling-places shall endure from one generation to another, and call the lands after their own names.”

Far more enduring have been the memorials left by the meek Edward the Confessor, though he had no son to carry on his name. He had vowed, during his exile, to go on pilgrimage to Rome, but the Witenagemot refused to consent to his leaving England, and he sent the Archbishop of York to ask the advice of the Pope, Leo IX., who recommended him to perform some work of piety at home.

This was the foundation of the Church of St. Peter’s, in the open country, at the west end of London, and therefore called Westminster. It was built with all the skill of Norman architects, and occupied several years. Edward’s last illness prevented him from being present at its consecration, and he was represented there by his wife, but he soon found his rest there. It was dedicated on the Holy Innocents’ day, 1065, and he was buried there on the 5th of January following. His memory seemed to give an additional sacredness to the spot in the eyes of the loving English, and the pavement round his tomb was worn away by their knees.





CAMEO V. THE TWO HAROLDS. (1060-1066.)

  Kings of England.
   1041. Edward the
            Confessor.
   1066. Harold.

  Kings of France.
   1059. Philippe I.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1055. Heinrich IV.

The death of Godwin did not at first seem likely to diminish the power of his family. Harold, his eldest surviving son, was highly endowed with mental powers and personal beauty and prowess, and was much preferred by Edward the Confessor to the old Earl himself. He obtained all his father’s lands, and, shortly after, distinguished himself in a war with the Welsh, showing, however, that vainglory was his characteristic; for he set up mounds of stones along the course of his march, bearing the inscription, “Here Harold conquered.”

The earls who had hitherto balanced the power of the Godwin family, were, about this time, removed by death. Leofric, of Mercia, and his son Algar, died within a few years of each other; and Algar’s sons, Edwin and Morkar, were as yet young and timid. Old Earl Siward Biorn fought his last battle when he assisted Malcolm Canmore in overthrowing the murderous usurper, Macbeth, in Scotland. In the battle, Siward’s eldest-son, of the same name as himself, was killed. The father only asked if his death-wound was in front, and when he heard it was, “I heartily rejoice,” said he; “no other death is worthy of my son.”

He himself was obliged, much against his will, to die in peace. “I am ashamed,” he said, “after so many battles, to die like a cow; case me in my armor, gird on my sword, put on my helmet, give me my shield and battle-axe, lift me to my feet, that I may die like a man!”

The fierce old Earl’s younger son, Waltheof, was a mere child, and the earldom of Northumbria was therefore given to Tostig, the son of Godwin, but he so misgoverned it that he was, by command of the King, sent into exile by his brother Harold, whom he thenceforth regarded with the utmost hatred.

Harold stood so high in favor, both with King and people, that his views began to take a still loftier flight, especially after the death of Edward the Stranger, the only grown-up person excepting the King who inherited the blood of Alfred. The stranger had indeed left an infant son, but his rights were entirely overlooked. The King wished to leave his crown to his cousin William, Duke of Normandy; and Harold, trusting to the general hatred of the Norman race, hoped to secure it for himself, much in the same way as Hugh Capet had lately dethroned the line of Charles le Magne in France.

Edward the Confessor, desirous of a affording William some means of curbing Harold’s ambition, sent to him as hostages Ulfnoth and Hako, a son and grandson of Godwin. Harold, however, contrived to extort permission to go to Rouen, and request their liberation, and set out from Bosham, in Sussex. A storm wrecked him in Ponthieu; he was taken captive by the count of that district, who gave him up to William in exchange for a considerable manor, and thus, though he entered Rouen in state, he found himself, instead of the ambassador of the King of England, in effect the prisoner of the Duke of Normandy.

He was treated with great courtesy, accompanied William on an expedition against the Duke of Brittany, and gave great help to the Normans by his personal strength, when some of them were in danger, in crossing a river, and, apparently, was in high honor; but William was determined not to miss the advantage chance had thrown in his way; and when Harold, alter spending some months at Rouen, proposed to return, he, in the first place, insisted on drawing up a treaty of alliance and friendship with his good friend the Earl of Wessex, to be sworn to on both sides. Very distasteful must this promise of friendship have been to Harold, since the first article required him to assist the Duke with all his power in obtaining the crown of England upon Edward’s death; but he found it impossible to resist, and declared himself perfectly willing to engage himself as required.

An oath taken on the relics of the Saints was, at that time, considered as more binding than one taken on the Holy Scriptures; and William commanded that the most honored of these remains should be collected from various churches and placed in a chest, covered with cloth of gold on which a copy of the Gospels was laid. Harold, laying his hand on the book, swore to observe the treaty faithfully; and when he had so done, William removed the cloth and showed him the relics, at the sight of which he turned pale and trembled—a sure sign, as was thought by the Normans who stood round, that his conscience would not allow him to break an oath which was believed to have thus acquired double force and sanctity. Yet Harold soon proved that no oaths can bind a man who will not be bound by his simple word.

A few months after his return from Normandy, he was standing by the bedside of the dying Edward the Confessor, importuning his last moments with entreaties to him to declare his successor.

“Ye know, full well,” said the poor old King, “that I have bequeathed my kingdom to the Duke of Normandy; nay, some be here who have sworn oaths to him.”

Harold pressed him for some other answer, and he replied, “Take it, Harold, if such be thy will, but the gift will be thy ruin. Against the Duke and his barons no might of thine will avail thee.”

“Fear not for me,” replied Harold, joyfully; “I fear neither Norman, nor aught else.”

“May it fall to the most worthy!” was the faint answer of Edward. His thoughts began to wander, and he uttered many passages of Scripture speaking of desolation and destruction, which were afterward regarded by his subjects as the last prophecies of their saintly king. He died two days afterward, and, on the feast of Epiphany, 1066, Harold assumed the crown. The coronation was solemnized by Alfred, Archbishop of York; but whether the absence of the Primate Stigand was occasioned by his dislike to the usurpation, or by the sentence of excommunication under which he had been laid by the Pope, is not known. Be that as it may, there was little joy to welcome the accession of Harold; the people were full of melancholy forebodings, excited by the predictions of King Edward, as well as by the appearance of a comet, then supposed to denote the approach of misfortune; the great earls, Edwin and Morkar, were his enemies, the nobles envied him, and stood aloof, significantly relating a story of his boyhood, when he is said to have met with a severe fall in a foolish attempt to fly from the top of a tower with wings of his own contrivance. There is a Spanish proverb which, in truth, suited Harold well: “The ant found wings for her destruction.” The bitterest of all his enemies was his own brother, Tostig, who, having been banished partly by his means, on account of his misgovernment of Northumbria, was living in Flanders, whence, the instant he heard of Harold’s coronation, he hastened with the tidings to Normandy; and not thinking William’s preparations speedy enough to satisfy the impatience of his hatred, he went to Norway, where he found a willing ally in Harald Hardrada, the last sea-king.

A curious story is told of the childhood of this Harald Hardrada, who was the half-brother of the kingly St. Olaf, being the son of the haughty Aasta and the peaceful Sigurd Syr. When Harald was about three years old, St. Olaf was on a visit to his mother, and calling to his little brothers, took the two eldest, Guttorm and Halfdan, one on each knee, and looked at them, with a fierce countenance, at which both the little boys were frightened, and ran away to hide themselves. He then took Harald on his knee, and put on the same fierce look at him, but the child looked boldly up in his face in return. As a further trial of his courage, the king pulled his hair, upon which the little fellow undauntedly pulled the king’s whiskers, and Olaf said, “Thou wilt be revengeful, some day, my friend.”

The next day, Olaf found his little brothers at play; the two eldest building little barns and enclosing cornfields, and Harald lying by the side of a pool of water, in which he was floating small chips of wood.

“What are these?” asked the king.

“My ships of war,” said little Harald.

“Ha! my friend,” said the King, “the time may come when thou wilt command ships.”

He then called the other two, and asked Guttorm what he would like best to have.

“Corn land,” said he.

“And how great wouldst thou like thy corn land to be?”

“I would have the whole ness (peninsula) that goes out into the lake sown with corn every summer.”

“And what wouldst thou like best?” he asked of Halfdan.

“Cows,” said the boy.

“How many wouldst thou like to have?”

“So many, that when they went to the lake to drink, they should stand as tight round the lake as they could stand.”

“That would be a great house-keeping!” said the king; “and now, Harald, what wouldst thou have?” “Followers.”

“And how many of them?”

“Oh, so many as would eat up all Halfdan’s cows at a single meal!”

Olaf laughed, and said, “Here, mother, thou art bringing up a king.”

In fact, Guttorm and Halfdan followed the quiet life of their father, but Harald was of far different temper. When Olaf returned from his exile in Russia, young Harald, who was scarcely fifteen, joined him with all the followers he could muster, and insisted on taking part in the battle of Stiklestad.

Olaf told him he was too young; but Harald boldly answered, “I am not so weak but I can handle the sword; and as to that, I have a notion of tying the sword to my hand;” and then the brave boy sung out some verses, composed on the spur of the moment, according to a talent often found among the Northmen, and highly valued:

  “Our army’s wing, where I shall stand,
  I will hold good with heart and hand;
  My mother’s eye shall joy to see,
  A batter’d, blood-stain’d shield from me.
  The brave young skald should gaily go
  Into the fray, change blow for blow;
  Cheer on his men, gain inch by inch,
  And from the spear-point never flinch.”
 

Olaf saw plainly that his high-spirited mother had infused her own temper into her youngest son as entirely as into himself, and yielded his consent that Harald should take part in the battle. It was a mournful beginning for a young warrior. Harald beheld the fall of his noble brother, and was himself severely wounded. He was led from the field by a faithful bonder, who hid him in his house; but the spirit of the young minstrel warrior was undaunted, and, during his recovery, he sung thus:

  “My wounds were bleeding as I rode,
  And down the hill the bonders strode,
  Killing the wounded with the sword,
  The followers of their rightful lord.
  From wood to wood I crept along,
  Unnoticed by the bonder throng;
  ‘Who knows,’ I thought, ‘a day may come,
  My name may yet be great at home.’”
 

As soon as his wounds were healed, Harald took refuge in Russia, and thence travelled to Constantinople, where he became one of the renowned guards of the Greek Emperor, composed of hired Northmen and Saxons, and called Vaeringer, or Varangians, from the word Wehr, a defence. He went from Constantinople to the Holy Land, bathed in the Jordan, paid his devotions at Jerusalem, and killed the robbers on the way. Strange stories were told of his adventures at Constantinople, of the Empress Zoe having fallen in love with him, and of his refusal to return her affection; upon which she raised an accusation against him, that he had misapplied the pay of the Vaeringers, and threw him into prison, whence, as the story related, he was freed by a lady, who was commissioned to rescue him by St. Olaf, his brother, who appeared to her in a dream. She brought him a rope ladder, and he escaped to his ship, broke through the chains that guarded the harbor, and sailed northward through the Black Sea, composing on his voyage sixteen songs in honor of Elisif, the Russian king’s daughter, whom he married on his arrival at Novogorod. He obtained with her great riches, which he added to the treasures he had brought from Constantinople.

St. Olaf’s son, Magnus, was reigning in Norway, and Harald Hardrada designed to obtain from him a portion of the kingdom, to winch, by the old Norwegian law, every descendant of Harald Harfagre had an equal claim. Harald united with his cousin Swend, who had been dispossessed of an earldom by Magnus, and they advanced together; but Harald was inclined, if possible, rather to decide the matter by a treaty, than by force of arms; while Swend, on the other hand, wished for war and revenge.

One evening, as the two allies were sitting together, Swend asked Harald what he valued most of all his property.

“My banner, Land-Waster,” answered Harald.

“And wherefore?”

“It has always been said that this banner carries victory with it, and so I have ever found it.”

“I will believe in that when thou hast borne it in three battles with thy nephew Magnus, and won them all.”

“I know my kindred with king Magnus,” answered Harald, “without thy recalling it; and though we are now in arms against him, our meeting may be of another sort.”

They came to high words, Swend reproaching his ally with breaking his agreement. Harald distrusted his intentions, and, at night, did not, as usual, sleep in a tent on the deck of his ship, but left a billet of wood in his place. At midnight a man rowed silently up to the side of the ship, crept up to the tent, and struck so violent a blow with his axe, that it remained sticking in the wood, while the murderer retired to his boat, and rowed away in the dark.

Harald, convinced of this treachery, deserted Swend, and went to join Magnus, who met him in a friendly manner, and invited him, with sixty of his men, to a banquet.

After the feast, Magnus went round the table, distributing gifts of robes and weapons to the sixty men; but when he came to Harald, he held up two sticks, and asked which of them he would choose. Harald took the nearest, and Magnus declared that therewith he gave up to him half his power and land in Norway, making him of equal right with himself, and only reserving the first seat when they should be together at any time.

Harald sent for all the treasure he had brought home, declaring that they would likewise divide their riches; and the gold was weighed out, and placed in two equal heaps, each on an ox-hide. But Magnus had no riches to contribute, for he said that the turmoils in the country had so impoverished him, that all the gold he possessed was the ring on his finger, which his father, St. Olaf, had given him at their last parting. Even this, Harald said, smiling, perhaps belonged rightfully to him, since it was, at first, the property of his father, Sigurd Syr. However, the two kings parted amicably, and reigned together without disagreements of any consequence, for the remembrance of St. Olaf seemed always to be a link between his son and brother. Magnus, the more gentle of the two, died just as his uncle had led him to enter on a war of ambition with Swend, King of Denmark.

Norwegian traditions relate that he dreamt that his father, St. Olaf, appeared to him, saying, “Wilt thou choose, my son, to follow me, or to become a long-lived and powerful king, at the cost of a crime that can never be expiated?”

“Do thou choose for me, father,” he answered.

“Then follow me,” replied the spirit.

Magnus awoke, told the dream, sickened, and died, leaving the whole of Norway to Harald Hardrada, and declaring that it would be just not to molest Swend in his possession of Denmark.

Harald reigned prosperously, until, in an evil hour, he received Tostig, the son of Godwin, and listened to his invitation to come and invade England, and revenge him on his brother Harold. He fitted out a great armament, sailed up the Humber, plundered and burnt Scarborough, defeated the young earls of Mercia and Northumberland, and summoned York to surrender.

The citizens, dreading an assault, promised to yield the next day; and, accordingly, early in the morning, Hardrada, Tostig and a small band of followers, set out from their camp at Stamford Bridge, on the banks of the Ouse, to receive the keys. The day was bright and warm, though late in September, and the Northmen had left behind them their shirts of mail, and only bore sword, shield, and helmet; even Harald himself had left behind his hawberk Emma, and only wore a blue robe embroidered with gold, and a rich helmet.

As they were approaching the city, they suddenly beheld a cloud of dust, and beneath it the glitter of armor, glancing, as the Norwegians said, like sparkling ice. As they came nearer, they could distinguish the red dragon standard of Wessex, proving that there was the king whom they had supposed to be far away on the south coast, watching to prevent the landing of William of Normandy.

Though taken by surprise, outnumbered, and half-armed, Hardrada did not lose courage. He sent messengers to summon the rest of his men, and planting in the midst his banner, Land-Waster, ranged his troops round it in a circle, with the ends of their spears resting on the ground, and the points turned outward.

Twenty horsemen, in full armor, advanced from the Saxon army, and one of them, riding close up to the circle, called out, “Where is Earl Tostig, the son of Godwin?”

“He is here!” replied Tostig.

“Thy brother salutes thee, offers thee peace, his friendship, and the Earldom of Northumbria; nay, rather than not be friends with thee, he would give thee the third of his kingdom.”

“If he had held this language a year ago,” replied Tostig, who knew the speaker but too well, “he would have saved the lives of many men. But what will he offer my noble ally, King Harold Sigurdson?”

“Seven feet of English earth,” answered the horseman, proudly scanning the gigantic figure of the Sea-King, “or maybe a little more.”

“Then,” said Tostig, “King Harold, my brother, may prepare for battle. Never shall it be said that the son of Godwin forsook the son of Sigurd.” It must have been a strange look that passed between those two brothers, thus on the verge of a deadly strife, each surrounded with dangers that could scarcely be averted, and but of late actuated with bitter hate, but, at the decisive moment, that hatred giving way, and their hearts yearning to each other, with the memories of long-past days, yet both too proud to show how they were mutually touched, too far pledged to their separate parties to follow the impulse that would have drawn them once together in love. It was too late; the battle must be fought—the brothers’ deeds had decided their lot.

The Saxon horseman rode off, and the Norwegian King asked, who was the man who had been speaking so well.

“It was King Harold Godwinson,” said Tostig.

“Why did I not learn this sooner?” said Hardrada. “He should never have had to boast of the slaughter of our men.”

“It may have been imprudent,” said Tostig, “but he was willing to grant me peace and a great dominion. If one of us must die, I had rather he should slay me, than I slay him.”

So spoke Tostig, who had, of late, been rushing from country to country to stir up foes against his brother. Surely he would have given worlds to check the ruin he had wrought, though his sense of honor would not allow him to forsake his ally.

“He is but a little man, but he sits firmly in his stirrups,” returned Harald Hardrada; and then, to cheer his men in their desperate case, he chanted aloud one of his impromptu war-songs:

  “Advance, advance,
  The helmets glance;
  But blue swords play
  In our array.

  “Advance, advance,
  No hawberks glance—
  But hearts are here
  That know no fear.”
 

“These verses sound but ill,” said the Sea-King, interrupting himself; “we will make some better;” and, careful of his verses as a Skald in his last battle, as well as in his first, he sung:

  “In battle morn we seek no lee,
  With skulking head and bending knee,
  Behind the hollow shield;
  With eye and hand we guard the head,
  Courage and promptness stand instead,
  Of hawberk, on this field.”
 

It was his death-song. Early in the battle his throat was pierced by an arrow; and learning his death, Harold Godwinson sent once more to offer Tostig pardon, and leave to the Northmen to return home; but they refused quarter, and Tostig would not forsake them. The other Northmen from the ships joined them, and the fight raged with more fury than ever in the “death-ring,” as the Skalds termed it, round the banner Land-Waster. Tostig fell there, and only a few fled to their ships, protected by a brave Norseman, who stood alone to guard Stamford bridge, then only consisting of a few planks, till an Englishman crept under, thrust up his spear, and slew him from below.

However, Harold’s condition was too critical to allow of his wasting his strength on a defeated foe; he allowed Hardrada’s son to return unmolested to Norway with his fleet and the remains of his army, and he gave great offence to his men by not sharing the plunder of the camp with them.

So died the last of the Sea-Kings, by the last Anglo-Saxon victory.





CAMEO VI. THE NORMAN INVASION. (1066.)

The Duke of Normandy seems to have considered himself secure of the fair realm of England, by the well-known choice of Edward the Confessor, and was reckoning on the prospects of ruling there, where the language and habits of his race were already making great progress.

On a winter day, however, early in 1066, as William, cross-bow in hand, was hunting in the forests near Rouen, a horseman galloped up to him and gave him, in a low voice, the information that his cousin, King Edward of England, was dead, and that Earl Harold of Kent had been crowned in his stead.

With fierce rage were these tidings given, for the bearer of them was no other than Tostig, who attempted to bring the Normans against his brother, before seeking the aid of Harald Hardrada in the north.

No less was the ire of the Norman Duke excited, but he was of too stern and reserved a nature to allow his wrath to break out at once into words. Sport, however, was at an end for him; he threw down his cross-bow, and walked out of the forest, his fine but hard features bearing so dark and gloomy an expression, that no one dared to ask what had disturbed him.

Without a word, he entered the castle, and there strode up and down the hall, his hands playing with the fastenings of his cloak, until suddenly throwing himself on a bench, he drew his mantle over his face, turned it to the wall, and became lost in deep musings.

His knights stood round, silent and perplexed, till a voice was heard humming a tune at a little distance, and the person entered who, more than any other, shared the counsels of Duke William, namely, William Fitzosborn, Count de Breteuil, son of that Osborn the seneschal who had been murdered in the Duke’s chamber.

The two Williams were of the same age, had been brought up together, and Fitzosborn now enjoyed the office of seneschal, and was on a more intimate footing with his lord than any other was admitted to by the dark and reserved prince. All the knights gathered round him to ask what ailed the Duke.

“Ah!” said he, “you will soon hear news that will not please you;” and as William, roused by his voice, sat up on the bench, he continued: “Sir, why hide what troubles you? It is rumored in the town that the King of England is dead, and that Harold has broken his faith, and seized the realm.”

“You are right,” replied the Duke. “I am grieved at the death of King Edward, and at the wrong Harold has done me.”

Fitzosborn answered with such counsels as his master would best be pleased to hear. “Sir, no one should grieve over what cannot be undone, far less over what may be mended. There is no cure for King Edward’s death, but there is a remedy for Harold’s evil deeds. You have warlike vassals; he has an unjust cause. What needs there, save a good heart? for what is well begun, is half done.”

William’s wishes lay in the direction his friend pointed out, but he was wary, and weighed his means before undertaking the expedition against so powerful and wealthy a state as England. His resources seemed as nothing in comparison with those of England; his dukedom was but a petty state, himself a mere vassal; and though he had reason to hope that the English were disaffected toward Harold, yet, on the other hand, he was not confident of the support of his own vassals—wild, turbulent men, only kept in cheek by his iron rule, without much personal attachment to one so unbending and harsh, and likely to be unwilling to assist in his personal aggrandizement.

He paused and calculated, waiting so long that Tostig, in his impatience, went to Norway, and tried to find a prompter for Harold. Messages in the meantime passed between Normandy and England without effect. William claimed the performance of the oaths at Rouen, and Harold denied any obligation to him, offering to be his ally if he would renounce the throne, but otherwise defying him as an enemy.

Having at length decided, William summoned his vassals to meet at Lillebonne, and requested their aid in asserting his right to the English Crown.

When he left them to deliberate, all with one consent agreed that they would have nothing to do with foreign expeditions. What should they gain? The Duke had no right to ask their feudal service for aught but guarding their own frontier. Fitzosborn should he the spokesman, and explain the result of their parliament.

In came the Duke, and Fitzosborn, standing forth, spoke thus: “Never, my lord, were men so zealous as those you see here. They will serve you as truly beyond sea as in Normandy. Push forward, and spare them not. He who has hitherto furnished one man-at-arms, will equip two; he who has led twenty knights, will bring forty. I myself offer you sixty ships well filled with fighting men.”

Fitzosborn was stopped by a general outcry of indignation and dissent, and the assembly tumultuously dispersed; but not one of the vassals was allowed to quit Lillebonne till after a private conference with William, and determined as they might be when altogether, yet not a count or baron of them all could withstand the Duke when alone with him; and it ended in their separately engaging to do just as Fitzosborn had promised for them; and going home to build ships from their woods, choose out the most stalwart villains on their estates to be equipped as men-at-arms and archers, to cause their armorers to head the cloth-yard shafts, repair the hawberks of linked chains of steel, and the high-pointed helmets, as yet without visors, and the face only guarded by a projection over the nose. Every one had some hope of advantage to be gained in England; barons expected additional fiefs, peasants intended to become nobles, and throughout the spring preparations went on merrily; the Duchess Matilda taking part in them, by causing a vessel to be built for the Duke himself, on the figure-head of which was carved a likeness of their youngest son William, blowing an ivory horn.

William, in the meantime, sought for allies in every quarter, beginning with writing to beg the sanction of the Pope, Alexander II., as Harold’s perjury might be considered an ecclesiastical offence.

The Saxons were then in no favor at Rome; they had refused to accept a Norman Primate appointed by Edward; and Stigand, their chosen Archbishop, was at present suspended by the Court of Rome, for having obtained his office by simony: the whole Anglo-Saxon Church was reported to be in a very bad and corrupt state, and besides, Rome had never enjoyed the power and influence there that the Normans had permitted her. Lanfranc, Abbot, of St. Stephens, at Caen, and one of the persons most highly esteemed by William, was an Italian of great repute at Rome, and thus everything conspired to make the Pope willing to favor the attempt upon England.

He therefore returned him a Bull (a letter so called from the golden bull, or bulla, appended to it), appointing him, as the champion of the Church, to chastise the impious perjurer Harold, and sent him a consecrated banner, and a gold ring containing a relic of St. Peter.

Thus sanctioned, William applied to his liege lord Philippe I. of France, offering to pay homage for England as well as Normandy; but Philippe, a dull, heavy, indolent man, with no love for his great vassal, refused him any aid; and William, though he made the application for form’s sake, was well pleased to have it so.

“If I succeed,” he said, “I shall be under the fewer obligations.”

When he requested aid from Matilda’s brother Baldwin, Count of Flanders, the answer he received was a query, how much land in England he would allot as a recompense. He sent, in return, a piece of blank parchment; but others say, that instead of being an absolute blank, it contained his signature, and was filled up by Baldwin, with the promise of a pension of three hundred marks.

Everything was at length in readiness; nine hundred ships, or rather large open boats, were assembled at the mouth of the Dive; lesser barks came in continually, and counts, barons, and knights, led in their trains of horsemen and archers.

All William’s friends were round him, and his two half-brothers, the sons of Arlette, Robert, Count of Eu, and Odo, the warlike Bishop of Bayeux. Matilda was to govern in his absence, and his eldest son, Robert, a boy of thirteen, was brought forward, and received the homage of the vassals, in order that he might be owned as heir of Normandy, in case any mishap should befall his father on the expedition.

Nothing delayed the enterprise but adverse winds, and these prevailed so long that the feudal army had nearly exhausted their forty days’ stock of provisions; knight and man-at-arms murmured, and the Duke was continually going to pray in the Church of St. Valery, looking up at the weathercock every time he came out.

On the eve of St. Michael, the Duke’s anxious face became cheerful, for a favorable wind had set in, and the word was given to embark. Horses were led into the ships, the shields hung round the gunwale, and the warriors crowded in, the Duke, in his own Mora, leading the way, the Pope’s banner at his mast’s head, and a lantern at the stern to guide the rest.

By morning, however, he outstripped all the fleet, and the sailor at the mast-head could see not one; but gradually first one sail, then another, came in sight, and by the evening of Michaelmas-day, 1066, the whole nine hundred were bearing, down upon Pevensey.

Those adverse winds had done Willium more favor than he guessed, for they had delayed him till Harold had been obliged to quit his post of observation in Sussex, and go to oppose the Northmen at York, and thus there was no one to interfere with the landing of the Normans, who disembarked as peacefully at Pevensey as if it had been Rouen itself.

William was almost the first to leap on shore; but as he did so, his foot slipped, and he fell. Rising, with his hands full of mud, he called out, “Here have I taken possession of the land which by God’s help I hope to win!” Catching his humor, one of his knights tore a handful of thatch from a neighboring cottage, and put it into his hand, saying, “Sir, I give you seizin of this place, and promise that I shall see you lord of it before a month is past.”

The troops were landed first, then the horses, and lastly the carpenters, who set up at once three wooden forts, which had been brought in the ships prepared to be put together. After dinner, William ordered all the ships to be burnt, to cut off all hope of return. He continued for several days at Pevensey, exercising the troops: and viewing the country. In one of these expeditions, he gave, what was thought, a remarkable proof of strength; for on a hot day, as they were mounting a steep hill, Fitzosborn grew faint and exhausted by the weight of his ponderous iron hawberk. The Duke bade him take it off, and putting it on over his own, climbed the hill and returned to his camp wearing both at once.

His landing, though he saw no one, had in reality been watched by a South-Saxon Thane, who, having counted Ins ships and seen his array, mounted, and, without resting day or night, rode to York, where, as Harold was dining, two days after the battle of Stamford Bridge, he rushed into the hall, crying out, “The Normans are come! they have built a fort at Pevensey!”

No time was to be lost, and at the dawn Harold and all his army were marching southward, sending a summons to the thanes and franklins of each county as he passed, to gather to the defence of the country.

His speed was too great, however, for the great mass of the people to be able to join him, even if they had been so minded, and they were for the most part disposed to take no part in the struggle, following the example of the young Earls of Mercia, Edwin and Morkar, who held aloof, unwilling alike to join Harold or the Normans.

When Harold reached London, his army was so much lessened by fatigue and desertion, that his mother, Gytha, and his two youngest brothers, Gyrtha and Leofwyn, advised him not to risk a battle, but to lay the country waste before the Normans, and starve them out of England. Harold answered, with the generous spirit that had been defaced and clouded by his ambition, “Would you have me ruin my kingdom? By my faith, it were treason. I will rather try the chances of a battle with such men as I have, and trust to my own valor and the goodness of my cause.”

“Yet,” said Gyrtha, “if it be so, forbear thyself to fight. Either willingly or under force, thou art sworn to Duke William. Thine oath will weigh down thine arm in battle, but we, who are all unpledged, are free to fight in defence of our realm. Thou wilt aid us if we are defeated, avenge us if we are slain.”

Harold disregarded this advice, and was resolved to lead the host himself; he gathered his followers from Kent and Wessex, and marched southward.





CAMEO VII. THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS. (1066.)

The first night after leaving London, Harold slept at Waltham Abbey, and had much conference with the Abbot, who was his friend, and appointed two Monks, named Osgood and Ailric, to attend him closely in the coming battle.

On the 12th of October, Harold found himself seven miles from the enemy, and halted his men on Heathfield-hill, near Hastings, the most advantageous ground he could find.

On the highest point he planted his standard bearing the figure of a man in armor, and marshalling his Saxons round it, commanded them to entrench themselves within a rampart and ditch, and to plant within them a sort of poles, on the upper part of which, nearly the height of a man from the ground, they interwove a fence of wattled branches, so that while the front rank might pass under to man the rampart, the rear might be sheltered from the arrows of the enemy.

These orders given, Harold and Gyrtha rode together to a hill, whence they beheld the Norman camp, when for a moment Harold was so alarmed at the number of their tents that he spoke of returning to London and acting as his mother had advised; but Gyrtha showed him that it was too late; he could not turn back from the very face of the enemy, without being supposed to fly, and thus yielding his kingdom at once.

Three Saxons presently came to the brothers who had been seized as spies by the Normans, and, by order of William, led throughout his camp, and then sent away to report what they had seen. Their story was that the Norman soldiers were all Priests, at which Harold laughed, since they had been deceived by the short-cut locks and smooth chins of the Normans, such as in England were only worn by ecclesiastics, warriors always wearing flowing locks and thick moustaches.

Several messages passed between the two camps, William sending offers of honors and wealth to Harold and Gyrtha if they would cease their resistance; but when all were rejected, he sent another herald to defy Harold as a perjured traitor under the ban of the Church;—a declaration which so startled the Saxons, that it took strong efforts on the part of the gallant Gyrtha to inspirit them to stand by his brother.

This over, William addressed his soldiers from a little hillock, and put on his armor, hanging-round his neck, as a witness of Harold’s falsehood, one of the relics on which the oath had been taken. He chanced to put on his hawberk with the wrong side before, and seeing some of his men disconcerted, fancying this a token of ill, he told them that it boded that his dukedom should be turned to a kingdom.

His horse was a beautiful Spanish barb sent him by the King of Castile; and so gallantly did he ride, that there was a shout of delight from his men, and a cry, “Never was such a Knight under Heaven! A fair Count he is, and a fair king he will be! Shame on him who fails him!”

William held in his hand the Pope’s banner, and called for the standard-bearer of Normandy; but no one liked to take the charge, fearful of being hindered from gaining distinction by feats of personal prowess. Each elder knight of fame begged to be excused, and at last it was committed to Tunstan the White, a young man probably so called because he had yet to win an achievement for his spotless shield.

The army was in three troops, each drawn up in the form of a wedge, the archers forming the point; and the reserve of horse was committed to Bishop Odo, who rode up and down among the men, a hawberk over his rochet and a club in his hand.

On went the Normans in the light of the rising sun of the 13th of October, Taillefer, a minstrel-knight, riding first, playing on his harp and singing the war-song of Roland the Paladin. At seven o’clock they were before the Saxon camp, and Fitzosborn and the body under his command dashed up the hill, under a cloud of arrows, shouting, “Notre Dame! Dieu aide!” while the Saxons within, crying out, “Holy Rood!” cut down with their battle-axes all who gained the rampart, and at length drove them back again.

A second onset was equally unsuccessful, and William, observing that the wattled fence protected the Saxons from the arrows, ordered the archers to shoot their arrows no longer point blank, but into the sky, so that they might fall on the heads of the Saxons. Thus directed, these shafts harassed the defenders grievously; and Harold himself was pierced in the left eye, and almost disabled from further exertion in the command.

Yet at noon, the Normans had been baffled at every quarter, and William, growing desperate, led a party to attack the entrance of the camp. Again he was repulsed, and driven back on some rough ground, where many horses fell, and among them his own Spanish charger. A cry arose that the Duke was slain; the Normans fled, the Saxons broke out of their camp in pursuit, when William, throwing off his helmet and striking with his lance, recalled his troops, shouting, “Look at me! I live, and by Gods grace I will conquer.” All the Saxons who had left the camp were slain, their short battle-axes being unfit to cope with the heavy swords and long lances of their enemies; and taught by this success, William caused some of his troops to feign a flight, draw them beyond the rampart, turn on them, and cut them down. The manoeuvre was repeated at different parts of the camp till the rampart was stripped of defenders, and the Normans forced their way into it, cut down the wattled fence, and gave admittance to the host of horse and foot who rushed over the outworks.

Yet still the standard floated in the midst of a brave band who—

  “Though thick the shafts as snow.
  Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
  Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
  Still fought around their King.”
 

All who came near that close-serried ring of steadfast Saxon strength were cut down, and the piles of dead Normans round them were becoming ramparts, when twenty knights bound themselves by an oath that the standard should be taken, spurred their horses against the ranks, and by main force, with the loss of ten of their number, forced an opening. Ere the ranks could close, William and his whole force were charging into the gap made for a moment, trampling down the brave men, slaughtering on all sides, yet still unable to break through to the standard.

  “Till utter darkness closed her wing
  O’er their thin host and wounded King.”
 

Man by man the noble Saxons were hewn down as the Normans cut their way through them, no more able to drive them back than if they had been the trees of the forest. Gyrtha, the true-hearted and noble, fell under the sword of a Norman knight, Leofwyn lay near him in his blood, yet still Harold’s voice was heard cheering on his men, and still his standard streamed above their heads.

At sunset, that well-known voice was no longer heard, and the setting sun beheld Tunstan the White perform the crowning achievement of the day, uproot the standard banner of Normandy that the morning beams had seen committed to his charge. Not an earl or thane of Wessex was living; and heaps of slain lay thick on Heathfield hill, and the valley round a very lake of blood. Senlac, or Sanglac, was its old name, and sounded but too appropriate to the French ears of the Conqueror, as, in a moment of sorrow for the fearful loss of life he beheld, he vowed that here should stand an Abbey where prayer should be made for pardon for his sins and for the repose of the souls of the slaughtered. Darkness came on; but the Saxons, retreating under its cover, were still so undaunted that the Normans could hardly venture to move about the field except in considerable parties, and Eustace of Boulogne, while speaking to the Duke, was felled to the earth by a sudden blow.

In the morning, Gytha, the widow of Godwin, who had lost four children by the perjury and ambition of one of them, came to entreat permission to bury. Gyrtha and Leofwyn lay near together at the foot of the banner. Harold was sought in vain, till Edith of the Swan neck, a lady he had loved, was brought to help in the melancholy quest.

She declared a defaced and mangled corpse to be that of Harold, and it was carried, with those of the two brothers, to the Abbey of Waltham, where it was placed beneath a stone bearing the two sorrowful words, “Infelix Harold.”

Years passed on, and the people had long become accustomed to the Norman yoke, when there was much talk among them of a hermit, who dwelt in a cell not far from the town, in the utmost penitence and humility. He was seldom seen, his face was deeply scarred, and he had lost his left eye, and nothing was known of his name or history; but he was deeply revered for his sanctity, and when Henry Beauclerc once visited Chester, he sought a private interview with the mysterious penitent.

It is said, that when the hermit lay on his death-bed, he owned himself to be Harold, son of Godwin, once King of England for seven months. He had been borne from the bloody hill, between life and death, in the darkness of the evening, by the two faithful monks, Osgood and Ailric, and tended in secret till he recovered from his wounds.

Since that time he had been living in penitence and contrition, unknown to and apart from the world, and died at length, trusting that his forty years’ repentance might be accepted.

If this tale be true, what a warning might not he have bestowed on the young prince Henry, destined to run a like course of perjury and ambition, and to feel it turn back upon him in the dreariness of desolate old age, when “he never smiled again.” Had not the penitent Harold more peace at the last than the king Henry?

The same story is told of almost every king missed in a lost battle.

Arthur, borne away to die at Avalon, and believed to be among the fairies; Rodrigo, the last of the Goths, whose steed Orelio and horned helmet lay on the banks of the river, and whose name was found centuries after on a rude gravestone, near a hermitage; James IV., whom the Scots by turns hoped to see return from pilgrimage, and pitied as they looked at Lord Home’s border tower; the gallant Don Sebastian, the last of the glorious race of Portuguese Kings, never seen after his shout of “Let us die!” in the tumult of Alcaçer, yet long looked for by his loving people—of each in turn the belief has arisen among the subjects who clung to the hope of seeing the beloved prince, and dwelt on the doubt whether his corpse was identified. In the cases of Harold and Rodrigo—generous men tempted into fearful and ruinous crimes—one would hope the tale was true, and that the time for repentance was vouchsafed to them; nor are their stories entirely without authority.

Harold had three young children, who wandered about under the care of their grandmother, Gytha, at one time finding a shelter in the Holms, those two islets in the British Channel, at another taking refuge in Ireland, whence they at length escaped to Norway, and the daughter married one of the Kings of Novgorod, the beginning of the Empire of Russia. Ulfnoth, the only remaining son of the bold Godwinsons, was the hostage that Edward the Confessor had placed in the hands of the Duke of Normandy; he was seized upon once more by William Rufus, and remained in captivity till his death. The Conqueror kept his vow, and erected the splendid Battle Abbey on the field that gave him a kingdom. The high altar stood where Harold’s banner had been planted, and the enclosures surrounded every spot where the conflict had raged.

They were measured out by the corpses of Normans and Saxons. The Battle-roll, a list of every Norman who had borne arms there, was lodged in the keeping of the Abbot, and contains the names of many a good old English family which has held the same land generation after generation, English now, though then called the Norman spoiler, but it is to be feared, that the roll was much tampered with to gratify family vanity. Battle Abbey was one of the greatest and richest foundations. The Abbot was a friar, and, according to the unfortunate habit of exempting monasteries from the Bishop’s jurisdiction, was subject to no government but the Pope’s; and this led to frequent disputes between the Abbot and the see of Winchester.

It was overthrown in the Reformation, and is now a mere ruin; but its beautiful arches still remain to show that, better than any other conqueror, William knew how to honor a battle-field. There is but one other Battle Abbey in the world—Batalha in Portugal—which covers the plain of Aljubarota, where Joao I. won his kingdom from Castile; and as his wife was a daughter of John of Gaunt, a most noble and high-minded princess, it is most probable that she suggested the work after the example of her great ancestor; nay, when the visitor enters the nave, and is reminded by the architecture of Winchester, it seems as if Philippa of Lancaster might have both proposed the foundation, and sent to England for the plan, to the Architect and Bishop, William of Wykeham.

Nor is Battle Abbey the only remaining monument of Hastings. Matilda’s own handiwork prepared her thank offering of tapestry, recording her husband’s victory; and this work, done as it was for a gift to Heaven, not a vainglorious record, still endures in the very cathedral to which she gave it, one of the choicest historical witnesses that have come down to our times. We might be apt to regret that she did not present her work to Battle Abbey, where it would have been most appropriate; but as the Puritans would most likely have called it a Popish vestment savoring of idolatry, we are consoled by thinking it probably owes its preservation to her having chosen to give it as a hanging on festival days to the Cathedral at Bayeux, the see of her husband’s half-brother, Odo, who shared in all the toils and dangers of the expedition, and whom she has taken especial care to represent for the benefit of the townspeople of Bayeux; for wherever we find his broad face, large person, shaven crown, and the chequered red and green suit by which she expressed his wadded garment, his name is always found in large letters; and he is evidently in his full glory when we find him, club in hand, at the beginning of the battle, and these words worked round him: Odo Eps. (episcopus) baculum tenens, confortat pueros. He was one of the bad, warlike Bishops of those irregular times, and brought many disasters on himself by his turbulence and haughtiness.

Matilda’s tapestry is a long narrow strip, little more than half a yard in breadth. It begins with Harold’s journey to Normandy, and ends unfinished in the midst of the battle; and most curious it is. The drawing is of course rude, and the coloring very droll, the horses being red and green, or blue, and, invariably, the off-leg of a different color from the other three, while the ways in which both horses and men fall at Hastings make the scene very diverting.

Her castles, houses, and more especially Westminster Abbey, are of all the colors in the rainbow, and much smaller than the persons entering them, and yet in every figure there is spirit, in every face expression, and throughout, William, Harold, and Odo, bear countenances which are not to be mistaken. Harold has moustaches, which none of the Normans wore. There we find Harold taking his extorted oath; the death of King Edward, the Saxons gazing with horror at the three-tailed comet; the ship-building of yellow, green, and red boards, cut out of trees with most ludicrous foliage; the moon just as it is described; the disembarkation, where a bare-legged mariner wades out, anchor in hand; the very comical foraging party; the repast upon landing, where Odo is saying grace with two fingers raised in benediction, while the meat is served on shields, and fowls carried round spitted upon arrows. Then follows the battle, where William is seen raising his helmet by its nose-guard, and looking exceedingly fierce as he rallies his men; where horses and men tumble head over heels, and where, finally, Matilda broke off with a pattern of hawberks traced out, and no heads or legs put to them. What stayed her hand? Was it her grief at the conduct of her first-born that took from her all heart to proceed with her memorial, or was it only the hand of death that closed her toil, her womanly record of her husband’s achievements?

The border must not be forgotten. It is a narrow edge above and below. At first it is worked with subjects from Phaedrus’s fables (on having translated which was rested the fame of Henry’s scholarship), and very cleverly are they chosen; for, as if in comment on Harold’s visit to Rouen, we find in near neighborhood the stork with her head in the wolf’s mouth, and the crow letting fall her cheese into the fox’s jaws.

Matilda did not upbraid the Normans by working the Parliament of Lillebonne, but she or her designer surely had it in mind when a herd of frightened beasts was drawn, an ape in front of them making an oration to what may be a lion, as it is much bigger than the rest; but as Matilda never saw a lion, the likeness is not remarkable.

Further on are representations of agriculture, sowing, reaping, &c. Wherever there is a voyage, fishes swim above and below, and in the battle there is a border plentiful in dead men.

The Bayeux tapestry—the “Toile de St. Jean,” as it is there called, from the feast-day when the cathedral was hung with it—remained unknown and forgotten, till it was brought to light by one of the last people that could have been expected—Napoleon. He was then full of his plan for invading England, and called general attention to the toile de St. Jean, to bring to mind the Norman Invasion, and show that England had once been conquered.

So she had, but he had to deal with the sons of both victors, and of those who were slain. Now vanquished, Norman and Saxon were one, and by the great mercy of Heaven upon their offspring, the English, not one battle has been fought, since Hastings, with a Continental foe upon English ground.

May that mercy be still vouchsafed us!





CAMEO VIII. THE CAMP OF REFUGE. (1067-1072.)

  King of England.
   1066. William I.

In the fen country of Lincolnshire, there lived, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, a wealthy Saxon franklin named Leofric, Lord of Bourn. He was related to the great Earls of Mercia, and his brother Brand was Abbot of Peterborough, so that he, and his wife Ediva, were persons of consideration in their own neighborhood. They had a son named Hereward, and called, for some unknown, reason, Le Wake, a youth of great height and personal strength, and of so fierce and violent a disposition, that he disturbed the peace of the neighborhood to such a degree that he was banished from the realm. His high spirit found fit occupation in the armies of foreign princes: and pilgrims and minstrels brought home such reports of his prowess, that the people of Bourn no longer regarded him as a turbulent young scapegrace, but considered him as their pride and glory.

After a brilliant career abroad, Hereward married a Flemish lady, and was settled on her estates when the tidings reached him that his father was dead, and that his aged mother had been despoiled of her property, and cruelly treated, by a Norman to whom William the Conqueror had presented the estate of Bourn. No sooner did he receive this intelligence, than he set off with his wife, and, arriving in Lincolnshire, communicated in secret with his old friends at Bourn, collected a small band, attacked the Norman, drove him away, and re-instated Ediva in his paternal home.

But this exploit only exposed him to further perils. Normans were in possession of every castle around; his cousins, the young Earls Edwin find Morkar, had submitted to the Conqueror; Edwin was betrothed to Agatha, William’s daughter; and their sister Lucy was married to an Angevin named Ivo Taillebois bringing him a portion of their lands, in right of which he called himself Viscount of Spalding. Their submission had availed them little; they, as well as Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon (son of Siward, and husband of the Conqueror’s niece, Judith), were feeling that a hand of iron was over them, and regretting every day that he had not made common cause against the enemy before he had fully established his power. Selfishness, jealousy, and wavering, had overthrown and ruined the Saxons. Each had sought to secure his own lands and life, careless of his neighbors. No one had the spirit of Frithric, Abbot of St. Alban’s, who blocked up the Conqueror’s march with trunks of trees, and when asked by William why he had injured his woods for the sake of making an unavailing resistance, replied, “I did my duty. If every one had done as much, you would not be here.” According to their own tradition, the men of Kent, coming forward, each carrying a branch of a tree, so that they advanced unperceived, “a moving wood,” so encumbered William’s passage that he could not proceed till he had taken an oath to respect their privileges. London, too, preserved its rights, owing to the management of a burgess, called Ansgard, who conducted the treaty with the Normans and would not admit them into the city till its liberties were secured.

William himself was anxious to be regarded not as a conqueror, but as reigning by inheritence from the Confessor. For this cause, when Matilda was crowned, he caused a Norman baron, Marmion of Fontenaye, to ride into the midst of Westminster Hall, and, throwing down his gauntlet, defy any man to single combat who denied the rights of William and Matilda. He himself took the old coronation oath drawn up by St. Dunstan, and pledged himself to execute justice according to the old laws of Alfred and Edward.

But William, whatever might be his own good intentions, was pressed by circumstances. He had lured his Normans across the channel with hopes of rich plunder in England, and knight and squire, man-at-arms and archer, were eager for their reward. Norman, Breton, Angevin, clamored for possession: families of peasants crossed the sea, expecting, in right of their French tongue, to be gentry at once, and lords of the churl Saxons; while the Saxons, fully conscious of their own nobility, and possessors of the soil for five hundred years, derided them in such rhymes as these:

  “William de Coningsby
  Came out of Brittany
  With his wife Tiffany,
  And his maid Manfas,
  And his dog Hardigras.”
 

But the laugh proved to be on the side of the new comers, and the Saxon, whether Earl, Thane, Franklin, or Ceorl, though he could trace his line up to Odin, and had held his land since Hengist first won Thanet, must give place to Hardigras and his master. And though our sympathies are all with the dispossessed Saxons, and the Normans appear as needy and rapacious spoilers, there is no cause for us to lament their coming. Without the Norman aristocracy, and the high spirit of chivalry and adventure thus infused, England could scarcely have attained her greatness; for, though many great men had existed among the unmixed Anglo-Saxon race, they had never been able to rouse the nation from the heavy, dull, stolid sensuality into which, to this day, an uncultivated Englishman is liable to fall.

One Norman, the gallant Gilbert Fitz-Richard, deserves to be remembered as an exception to the grasping temper of his countrymen. He would accept neither gold nor lands for the services he had rendered at Hastings. He said he had come in obedience to the summons of his feudal chief, and not for spoil, and, now his term of service was at an end, he would go back to his own inheritance, with which he was content, without the plunder of the widow and orphan.

For it was thus that William first strove to satisfy his followers. Every rich Saxon widow or heiress who could be found was compelled to marry a Norman baron or knight; but when there proved to be not a sufficiency of these unfortunate ladies, he was obliged to find other pretexts less apparently honorable. Every noble who had fought in the cause of Harold was declared a traitor, and his lands adjudged to be forfeited, and this filled the Earldoms of Wessex and Sussex with great numbers of Normans, who counted their wealth at so many Englishmen apiece, and made no scruple of putting their own immediate followers into the manors whence they thrust the ancient owners. As to the great nobles, they were treated so harshly that they were all longing, if possible, to throw off the yoke, and make the stand which they should have made a year ago, when William had won nothing but the single, hard-fought battle of Hastings.

Some of the Norman adventurers took great state on them, all the more, probably, because they had been nobodies in their own country. One of the most haughty of all was the Spalding Viscount, Ivo, whose surname of Taillebois seems to betray somewhat of his origin in Anjou. He was noted for his pompous language and insolent bearing; he insisted on his vassals kneeling on one knee when they addressed him, and he and his men-at-arms took every opportunity of tormenting the Saxons. He set his dogs at their flocks, lamed or drowned their cattle, killed their poultry, and, above all, harassed a few brethren of the Abbey of Croyland, who inhabited a grange not far from Spalding, to such a degree, that he obliged them at last to retreat to the Abbey, and then filled the house with monks from Anjou; and though the Abbot Ingulf was William’s secretary, he could obtain no redress.

Such a neighbor as this was not likely to allow the re-instated Ediva to remain at Bourn in peace, and Hereward found that he must continue in arms, for her protection and his own. He placed his wife, Torfrida, in a convent, and, collecting his friends around him, kept up a constant warfare with the Normans, until at length he succeeded in fortifying the Isle of Ely, and establishing there what he called the Camp of Refuge, as it gave shelter to any Saxon who had suffered from the violence of the Normans, or would not adopt the new habits they tried to enforce.

The weak, helpless, and aged, were sheltered by the monastery and its buildings; the strong, enrolled in Hereward’s gallant band. Some of them were of higher rank than himself, and in order that he might be on a par with them, as well as with his Norman enemies, he sought the order of knighthood from his uncle, Abbot Brand.

The Normans in general were knighted by lay nobles, and though their prince, William Rufus, received the order from Lanfranc, they would not acknowledge Hereward as a knight, though they could not help respecting his truth, honor, and courage; and it was a common saying among them, that if there had been only four men like him in England, they should never have gained a footing there. No wonder, when he never hesitated to fight singly with seven Normans at once, and each of his five principal followers was a match for three. They were Ibe Winter, his brother-in-arms; Eghelric, his cousin; Ital; Alfric; and Sexwald.

Many fugitives of high rank did Hereward receive in his Camp of Refuge. He had nearly been honored by the presence of his hereditary sovereign, Edgar the Etheling, but the plan failed. He did, however, shelter his two cousins, Morkar and Edwin. They had suffered much from the insolence of the Normans, and experienced the futility of the promises in which they had trusted, until at length they had been driven to join a rising in the North. It had been quickly suppressed, and the worst of all the cruelties of the Normans had avenged it, while the two earls, now become outlaws, fled to the Camp of Refuge. Thence Edwin was sent on a mission to Scotland, but on the way he was attacked by a party of his enemies and slain, after a gallant resistance. He was the handsomest man of his time, and his betrothed, Agatha, was devotedly attached to him; it is even said that the stern William himself wept when the bloody head of his daughter’s lover was presented to him. A curious gold ornament has been of late years found in the field where Edwin was killed, and antiquaries allow us to imagine that it might have been a love-token from the Norman princess to the Saxon earl.

Another fugitive in Hereward’s camp was the high-spirited Abbot Frithric, whose steady opposition to the illegal encroachments of the Normans had given great offence to William. Once Frithric had combined with other influential ecclesiastics to require of the Conqueror another oath to abide by the old English laws, and thus brought on himself an accusation of rebellion and sentence of banishment. He assembled his monks, and told them the time was come when, according to the words of Holy Scripture, they must flee from city to city, bade them, farewell, and, taking nothing with him but a few books, safely reached the Camp of Refuge, where he soon after died.

Thorold, the new Norman Abbot of Malmesbury, kept a body of archers in his pay, and whenever his monks resisted any of his improper measures, he used to call out, “Here, my men-at-arms!” At length the Conqueror heard of his proceedings. “I’ll find him his match!” cried William. “I will send him to Peterborough, ‘where Hereward will give him as much fighting as he likes.”

To Peterborough, then, Thorold was appointed on the death of Hereward’s uncle, Abbot Brand, while the poor monks of Malmesbury received for their new superior a certain Guerin de Lire, who disinterred and threw away the bones of his Saxon predecessors, and took all the treasure in the coffers of the convent, in order that he might display his riches in the eyes of those who had seen him poor.

Yet all the Norman clergy were not such as these, and never should be forgotten the beautiful answer of Guimond, a monk of St. Leufroi, such a priest as Fitz-Richard was a knight. William had summoned him to England, and he came without delay; but when he was told it was for the purpose of raising him to high dignity, he spoke thus: “Many causes forbid me to seek dignity and power; I will not mention all. I will only say that I see not how I could ever properly be the head of men whose manners and language I do not understand, and whose fathers, brothers, and friends, have been slain by your sword, disinherited, exiled, imprisoned, or harshly enslaved by you. Search the Holy Scriptures whether any law permits that the shepherd should be forced on the flock by their enemy. Can you divide what you have won by war and bloodshed, with one who has laid aside his own goods for the sake of Christ? All priests are forbidden to meddle with rapine, or to take any share of the prey, even as an offering at the altar; for, as the Scriptures say, ‘He that bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor, is as one that slayeth the son before the father’s eyes.’ When I remember these commands of God, I am filled with terror; I look on England as one great prey, and dread to touch it or its treasures, as I should a red-hot iron.”

Guimond then returned to Normandy, uninjured by the Conqueror, who, with all his faults, never took offence at such rebukes; but the worldly-minded clergy were excessively affronted at his censure of their rapacity, and raised such a persecution against him that he was obliged to take refuge in Italy.

As soon as the news arrived at the Camp of Refuge that the warlike Thorold had been appointed to Peterborough, Hereward and his hand hastened to the Abbey, and, probably with the consent of the Saxon monks, carried off all the treasures into the midst of the fens. Thorold, with one hundred and sixty men-at-arms, soon made his appearance, was installed as Abbot, and quickly made friends with his Norman neighbor, Ivo Taillebois.

They agreed to make an expedition against the robber Saxons, and united their forces, but Thorold appears to have been not quite as willing to face Hereward as to threaten his monks, and let Ivo advance into the midst of an extensive wood of alders, while he remained in the rear with some other Normans of distinction. Ivo sought through the whole wood without meeting a Saxon, and returning to the spot where he had left the Abbot, found no one there, for Hereward had quitted the wood on the opposite side, made a circuit, and falling suddenly on Thorold and his party, carried them off to the fens, and kept them there till they had paid a heavy ransom.

In 1072, the fifth year of the Camp of Refuge, it had assumed so formidable an aspect, that William thought it necessary to take vigorous measures against it, more especially as there had been lately a commencement of correspondence with the Danes. The difficulty was to reach it, for the treacherous ground of the fens afforded no firm footing for an army; there was not water enough for boats, no station for archers, no space for a charge of the ponderous knights, amongst the reedy pools. William decided on constructing a causeway, and employed workmen to cut trenches to drain off the water, and raise the bank of stones and turf, under the superintendence of Ivo Taillebois. However, Hereward was on the alert, harassing them perpetually, breaking on them sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, in such strange, unexpected ways, that at last the viscount came to the conclusion that he must have magic arts to aid him, and persuaded the king to let him send for a witch to work against him by counter spells. Accordingly, she was installed in a wooden tower raised at the end of the part of the causeway which was completed, and the workmen were beginning to advance boldly under her protection, when suddenly smoke and flame came driving upon them. Hereward had set fire to the dry reeds, and, spreading quickly, the flame cut off their retreat, and the unhappy woman perished, with many of the Normans.

Again and again were the Norman attacks disconcerted, and all that they could attempt was a blockade, which lasted many months, and might probably have been sustained many more by the hardy warriors, if some of the monks of Ely, growing weary of the privations they endured, had not gone in secret to the king, and offered to show him a way across the Marches, on condition that the wealth of the Abbey was secured.

Accordingly, a band of Normans crossed the fens, took the Saxons by surprise, killed a thousand men, and forced the camp. Hereward and his five comrades still fought on, crossed bogs where the enemy did not dare to follow them, and at length escaped into the low lands of Lincoln, where they met with some Saxon fishermen, who were in the habit of supplying a Norman station of soldiers. These Saxons willingly received the warriors into their boats, and hid them under heaps of straw, while they carried their fish as usual to the Normans. While the Normans were in full security, Hereward and his men suddenly attacked them, killed some, put the rest to flight, and seized their horses.

Collecting others of his scattered followers, Hereward kept up his warfare from his own house at Bourn, continually harassing the Normans, until at length he took prisoner his old enemy, Ivo Taillebois, and, as the price of his liberty, required him to make his peace with the Conqueror. This was good news to William, who highly esteemed his valor and constancy, and could accuse him of no breach of faith, since he had made no engagements to him. Hereward was therefore received as a subject of King William, retained his own estate, and died there at a good old age, respected by both Saxons and Normans.

There is, indeed, an old Norman-French poem, that declares it was for the love of a noble Saxon lady, named Alftrude, that Hereward ceased to struggle with the victors. According to this story, Alftrude, an heiress of great wealth, was so charmed by the report of Hereward’s fame, that she offered him her hand, and persuaded him to make peace with William. It is further said, that one afternoon, as he lay asleep under a tree, a band of armed men, among whom were several Bretons, surrounded and murdered him, though not till he had slain fifteen of them.

But this story is not likely to be true, since we know that Hereward was already married, and the testimony of more than one ancient English chronicler declares that he spent his latter years in peace and honor. He was the only one of the Saxon chieftains who thus closed his days in his native home—the only one who had not sought to preserve his own possessions at the expense of his country, and who had broken no oaths nor engagements. His exploits are told in old ballads and half-romantic histories, and it is not safe to believe them implicitly, but his existence and his gallant resistance are certain.

Many years after, the remains of a wooden fort, the citadel, so to speak of the Camp of Refuge, still existed in the Isle of Ely, and was called by the peasantry Hereward’s Castle. The treacherous monks of Ely were well punished by having forty men-at-arms quartered on their Abbey.

Of the captives taken in the camp, many were most cruelly treated, their eyes put out, and their hands cut off; others were imprisoned, and many slain. Morkar, who was here taken, spent the rest of his life in the same captivity as Ulfnoth, Stigand, and many other Saxons of distinction, with the one gleam of hope when liberated at William’s death, and then the bitter disappointment of renewed seizure and captivity. If it could be any consolation to them, these Saxons were not William’s only captives. Bishop Odo, of Bayeux, whom William had made Earl of Kent, after giving a great deal of trouble to his brother the king, and to Archbishop Lanfranc, by his avarice and violence, heard a prediction that the next Pope should be named Odo, and set off to try to bring about its fulfilment in his own person, carrying with him an immense quantity of ill-gotten treasure, and a large number of troops, commanded by Hugh the Wolf, Earl of Chester.

However, Odo had reckoned without King William, and he had but just set sail, when William, setting off from Normandy, met him in the Channel, took his ships, and making him land in the Isle of Wight, and convoking an assembly of knights, declared his offences, and asked them what such a brother deserved.

Between fear of the king and fear of the Bishop, no one ventured to answer, upon which William sentenced him to imprisonment; and when he declared that no one but the Pope had a right to judge him, answered, “I do not try you, the Bishop of Bayeux, but the Earl of Kent,” and sent him closely guarded to Normandy.

Another Norman state-prisoner was Roger Fitzosborn, the son of William’s early friend, who had died soon after the Conquest. Roger’s offence was the bestowing his sister Emma in marriage without the consent of the king, and in addition, much seditious language was used at the wedding banquet, where, unhappily, was present Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon, the last Saxon noble.

Roger, finding himself in danger, broke out into open rebellion, but was soon made prisoner. Still the king would have pardoned him for the sake of his father, whom William seems to have regarded with much more affection that he be stowed on any one else, and, as a mark of kindness, sent him a costly robe. The proud and passionate Roger, disdaining the gift, kindled a fire, and burnt the garment on the dungeon floor; and William, deeply affronted, swore in return that he should never pass the threshold of his prison.

Waltheof, who was innocent of all save being present at the unfortunate feast, might have been spared but for the wickedness of his wife, Judith, William’s niece, who had been married to him when it was her uncle’s policy to conciliate the Saxons. She hated and despised the Saxon churl given her for a lord, kind, generous, and pious though he was; and having set her affections on a young Norman, herself became the accuser of her husband. Waltheof succeeded in disproving the calumnies, and the best and wisest Normans spoke in his favor; but the spite of Ivo Taillebois, and the hatred of his wife, prevailed, and he was sentenced to die.

He was executed at Winchester, where, lest the inhabitants should attempt a rescue, he was led out, early in the morning, to St. Giles’s hill, outside the walls. He wore the robes of an earl, and gave them to the priests who attended him, and to the poor people who followed him. When he came to the spot he knelt down to pray, begging the soldiers to wait till he had said the Lord’s Prayer; but he had only come to “Lead us not into temptation,” when one of them severed his head from his body with one blow of a sword.

His body was hastily thrown into a hole; but the Saxons, who loved him greatly, disinterred it in secret, and contrived to carry it all the way to Croyland, where it was buried with due honors, and we may think of Hereward le Wake attending the funeral of the son of the stalwart old Siward Biorn.

As to the perfidious Judith, she reaped the reward of her crimes; she was not permitted to marry her Norman lover, and he was stripped of all the wealth she expected as the widow of Waltbeof. This was secured to her infant daughter, and was so considerable, that at one time William thought the little Matilda of Huntingdon a fit match for his son Robert; but Robert despised the Saxon blood, and made this project an excuse for one of his rebellions. Matilda was, however, a royal bride, since her hand was given to David I. of Scotland, the representative of the old race of Cerdic, and a most excellent prince, with whom she was much happier than she could well have: been with the unstable Robert Courtheuse.





CAMEO IX. THE LAST SAXON BISHOP. (1008-1095.)

  Kings of England.
   1066. William I.
   1087. William II.

The last saint of the Anglo-Saxon Church, the Bishop who lived from the days of Edward the Confessor, to the evil times of the Red King, was Wulstan of Worcester, a homely old man, of plain English character, and of great piety. The quiet, even tenor of his life is truly like a “soft green isle” in the midst of the turbulent storms and tempests of the Norman Conquest.

Wulstan was born at Long Itchington, a village in Warwickshire, in the time of Ethelred the Unready. He was the son of the Thane Athelstan, and was educated in the monasteries of Evesham and Peterborough. When he had been trained in such learning as these could afford, he came home for a few years, and entered into the sports and occupations of the noble youths of the time, without parting with the piety and purity of his conventual life, and steadily resisting temptation.

His parents were grown old, and having become impoverished, perhaps by the exactions perpetrated either by the Danes, or to bribe them away, retired from the world, and entered convents at Worcester. Wulstan, wishing to devote himself to the Church, sought the service of the Bishop, who ordained him to the priesthood.

He lived, though a secular priest, with monastic strictness, and in time obtained permission from the Bishop to become a monk in the convent, where he continued for twenty-five years, and at length became Prior of the Convent. The Prior was the person next in office to the Abbot, and governed the monastery in his absence; and in some religious orders, where there was no Abbot, the Prior was the superior.

Wulstan’s habits in the convent show us what the devotional life of that time was. Each day he bent the knee at each verse of the seven Penitential Psalms, and the same at the 119th Psalm at night. He would lock himself into the church, and pray aloud with tears and cries, and at night he would often retire into some solitary spot, the graveyard, or lonely village church, to pray and meditate. His bed was the church floor, or a narrow board, and stern were his habits of fasting and mortification; but all the time he was full of activity in the cause of the poor, and, finishing his devotions early in the morning, gave up the whole day to attend to the common people, sitting at the church door to listen to, and redress, as far as in him lay, the grievances that they brought him—at any rate, to console and advise. The rude, secular country clergy, at that time, it may be feared, a corrupt, untaught race, had in great measure ceased to instruct or exhort their flocks, and even refund baptism without payment. He did his best to remedy these abuses, and from all parts of the country children were brought to the good Prior for baptism. Every Sunday, too, he preached, and the Worcestershire people flocked from all sides to hear his plain, forcible language, though he never failed to rebuke them sharply for their most prevalent sins.

The fame of the holy Prior of Worcester began to spread, and on one occasion Earl Harold himself came thirty miles out of his way to confess his sins to him and desire his prayers.

About the year 1062, two Roman Cardinals came to Worcester with Aldred, who had just been translated from that see to the Archbishopric of York. They spent the whole of Lent in Wulstan’s monastery; and when, at Easter, they returned to the court of Edward the Confessor, they recommended him for the Bishop to succeed Aldred; and Aldred himself, Archbishop Stigand, and Harold, all concurred in the same advice. The people and clergy of Worcester with one voice chose the good Prior Wulstan; his election was confirmed by the king, and he received the appointment. He long struggled against it, protesting that he would rather lose his head than be made a Bishop; but he was persuaded at last by an old hermit, who rebuked him for his resistance as for a sin. He received the pastoral staff from King Edward, and was consecrated by his former Bishop, Aldred.

As a Bishop he was more active than ever, constantly riding from place to place to visit the different towns and villages; and, as he went, repeating the Psalms and Litany, his attendant priests making the responses; while his chamberlain carried a purse, from which every one who asked alms was sure to be supplied. He never passed a church without praying in it, and never reached his resting-place for the night without paying his first visit to the church. Wherever he went, crowds of every rank poured out to meet him, and he never sent them away without the full Church service, and a sermon; nay, more—each poor serf might come to him, pour out his troubles, whether temporal, or whether his heart had been touched by the good words he had heard. Above all, Wulstan delighted in giving his blessing in Confirmation, and would go on from morning till night without food, till all his clergy were worn out, though he seemed to know no weariness.

His clergy seem to have had much of the sluggishness of the Saxon, and were often impatient of a temper, both of devotion and energy, so much beyond them. If one was absent from the night service, the Bishop would take no notice till it was over; but when all the others were gone back to bed, he would wake the defaulter, and make him go through the service with no companion but himself, making the responses. They did not like him to put them out, as he often did on their journeys, while going through the Psalms, by dwelling on the “prayer-verses;” and most especially did they dislike his leading them to church, whatever season or weather it might be, to chant matins before it was light. Once, at Marlow, when it was a long way to church, very muddy, and with a cold rain falling, one of his clergy, in hopes of making him turn back, led him into the worst part of the swamp, where he sunk up to his knees in mud, and lost his shoe; but he took no notice until, after the service was over, he had returned to his lodgings, half dead with cold, and then, instead of expressing any anger, he only ordered search to be made for the shoe.

Wulstan took no part in what we should call politics; he thought it his duty to render his submission to the King whom the people had chosen, and to strive only to amend the life of the men of the country. He was in high favor with Harold during his short reign, and was for some time at court, where the fine Saxon gentlemen learnt to dread the neighborhood of the old Bishop; for Wulstan considered their luxury as worthy of blame, and especially attacked their long flowing hair. If any of them placed their heads within, his reach, he would crop off “the first-fruits of their curls” with his own little knife, enjoining them to have the rest cut off; and yet, if Wulstan saw the children of the choir with their dress disordered, he would smooth it with his own hands, and when told the condescension did not become a Bishop, made answer, “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Aldred, Wulstan’s former Bishop, now Archbishop of York, was the anointer of both Harold and William the Conqueror. He kept fair with the Normans as long as he could, but at last, driven to extremity by the miseries they inflicted on his unhappy diocese, he went to William arrayed in his full episcopal robes, solemnly revoked his coronation blessing, denounced a curse on him and his race, and then, returning to York, there died of grief.

Eghelwin, Bishop of Durham, gave good advice to Comyn, the Norman Earl, but it was unheeded, and the townsmen rose in the night and burnt Comyn to death, with all his followers, as they lay overcome with wine and sleep in the plundered houses. The rising of the northern counties followed, and Eghelwin was so far involved in it, that he was obliged to fly. He took shelter in the Camp of Refuge, was made prisoner when it was betrayed, and spent the rest of his life in one of William’s prisons.

Our good Wulstan had a happier lot, and spent his time in his own round of quiet duties in his diocese, binding up the wounds inflicted by the cruel oppressors, but exhorting the Saxons to bear them patiently, and see in them the chastisement of their own crimes. “It is the scourge of God that ye are suffering,” he said; and when they replied that they had never been half so bad as the Normans, he said, “God is using their wickedness to punish your evil deserts, as the devil, of his own evil will, yet by God’s righteous will, punishes those with whom he suffers. Do ye, when ye are angry, care what becomes of the staff wherewith ye strike?”

He had his own share of troubles and anxieties, but he met them in his trustful spirit, and straight-forward way. At Easter, 1070, a council was held at Winchester, at which he was summoned to attend. He was one of the five last Saxon Bishops; Stigand, who held both at once the primacy and the see of Winchester; his brother, Eghelmar, Bishop of Elmham; Eghelsie, of Selsey; and the Bishop of Durham, Eghelwin, who was in the Camp of Refuge.

Two cardinals were present to represent the Pope, and on account of his simony, Stigand was deposed and imprisoned, while Eghelric and Eghelmar were also degraded. Yet Wulstan, clear of conscience, and certain of the validity of his own election, was not affrighted; so far from it, he boldly called on the King to restore some lands that Aldred of York had kept back from the see of Worcester.

Thomas, Aldred’s successor, claimed them by a pretended jurisdiction over Worcester, and the decision was put off for a court of the great men of the realm, which did not take place till several fresh appointments had been made. Lanfranc, the Italian, Abbot of Bec, had become Archbishop of Canterbury, and was, of course, interested in guarding the jurisdiction of the Archiepiscopal see.

Wulstan, in this critical time, was exactly like himself. He fell asleep while Thomas was arguing, and when time was given him to think of his answer, he spent it in singing the service of the hour, though his priests were in terror lest they should be ridiculed for it. “Know you not,” he answered, “that the Lord hath said, ‘When ye stand before king and rulers, take no thought what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak.’ Our Lord can give me speech to-day to defend my right, and overthrow their might.” Accordingly, his honest statement prevailed, and he gained his cause.

There is a beautiful legend that Lanfranc, thinking the simple old Saxon too rude and ignorant for his office, summoned him to a synod at Westminster, and there called on him to deliver up his pastoral staff and ring. Wulstan rose, and said he had known from the first that he was not worthy of his dignity, and had taken it only at the bidding of his master, King Edward. To him, therefore, who gave the staff, he would resign it. Advancing to the Confessor’s tomb, he said, “Master, thou knowest how unwillingly I took this office, forced to it by thee. Behold a new king—a new law—a new primate; they decree new rights, and promulgate new statutes. Thee they accuse of error in having so commanded—me of presumption, in having obeyed. Then, indeed, thou wast liable to err, being mortal—now, being with God, thou canst not err. Not to these who require what they did not give, but to thee, who hast given, I render up my staff. Take this, my master, and deliver it to whom thou wilt.”

He laid it on the tomb, took off his episcopal robes, and sat down among the monks. The legend goes on to say, that the staff remained embedded in the stone, and no hand could wrench it away, till Wulstan himself again took it up, when it yielded without effort. The King and Archbishop fell down at his feet, and entreated his pardon and blessing.

Such is the story told a century after; and surely we may believe that, without the miracle, the old man’s touching appeal to his dead King, and his humility, convinced Lanfranc that it had been foul shame to think of deposing such a man because his learning was not extensive, nor his manners like those of the courtly Norman. Be that as it may, thenceforth Lanfranc and Wulstan worked hand in hand, and we find the Archbishop begging him to undertake the visitation of the diocese of Chester, which was unsafe for the Norman prelates. One great work accomplished by the help of Wulstan was, the putting an end to a horrible slave-trade with Ireland, whither Saxon serfs were sold, not by Normans, but by their own country people, who had long carried it on before the Conquest. Lanfranc persuaded William to abolish it, but the rude Saxon slave-merchants cared nothing for his edicts, until the Bishop of Worcester came to Bristol, and preached against the traffic, staying a month or two at a time, every year, till the minds of the people of Bristol were so altered, that they not only gave up the trade, but acquired such a horror of it that they tore out the eyes of the last person who persisted in it.

The favor and esteem with which Wulstan was regarded did not cease, but he was obliged to spend a life of constraint. The Archbishop made him keep a band of armed retainers to preserve the peace of the country, and they were new and strange companions for the old monk; but as he thought his presence kept them from evil, he did not remain aloof, dining with them each day in the public hall, and even while they sat long over the wine, remaining with them, pledging them good-humoredly in a little cup, which he pretended to taste, and ruminating on the Psalms in the midst of their noisy mirth.

These were the days of church-building—the days of the circular arch, round column, and zigzag moulding; of doorways whose round arch, adorned with border after border of rich or quaint device, almost bewilder us with the multiplicity of detail; of low square towers, and solid walls; of that kind of architecture called Norman, but more properly a branch of the Romanesque of Italy.

Each new Roman Bishop or Abbot thought it his business to renew his clumsy old Saxon minster, and we have few cathedrals whose present structure does not date from the days of the Conqueror or his sons. Walkelyn, Bishop of Winchester, obtained a grant from William of as much timber from Hempage Wood as could be cut in four days and nights; whereupon Walkelyn assembled a huge company of workmen, and made such good use of the time, that when the king passed that way, he cried out, “Am I bewitched, or have I taken leave of my senses? Had I not a most delectable wood in this spot?” where now only stumps were to be seen.

Wulstan had always been a church-builder, and he renewed his cathedral after the Norman fashion; but when it was finished, and the workmen began to pull down the old one, which had been built by St. Oswald, he stood watching them in silence, till at last he shed tears. “Poor creatures that we are,” said he, “we destroy the work of the saints, and think in our pride that we improve upon it. Those blessed men knew not how to build fine churches, but they knew how to sacrifice themselves to God, whatever roof might be over them, and to draw their flocks after them. Now, all we think of is to rear up piles of stones, while we care not for souls.”

Wulstan lived to a great age, survived William and Lanfrane, and assisted to consecrate Anselm. In the last year of his life he kept each festival with still greater solemnity than ever, and his feast for the poor overflowed more than ever before; his stores were exhausted, though he had collected an unusual quantity, and his clergy begged him to shut the gates against the crowds still gathering; but he refused, saying none should go empty away, and some gifts from his rich friends arrived opportunely to supply the need. The Bishop sat in the midst as feasting with them, now grown too feeble to wait on them, as he had always done hitherto.

At Whitsuntide, 1094, he was taken ill, and lingered under a slow fever till the new year, when he died in peace and joy on the 19th of January. His greatest friend, Robert, the Bishop of Hereford, a learned man, understanding all the science of the time, a judge, and a courtly Lorrainer, yet who loved to spend whole days with the unlettered Saxon, came to lay him in his grave. He received, as a gift from the convent, the lambskin cloak that Wulstan used to wear, in spite of the laughter of the gay prelates arrayed in costly furs, keeping his ground by saying, that “the furs of cunning animals did not befit a plain man.” He went home to Hereford, and soon after died, having, it is said, been warned in a vision by St. Wulstan that he must soon prepare to follow him.





CAMEO X. THE CONQUEROR. (1066-1087.)

In speaking of William, the Norman Conqueror, we are speaking of a really great man; and great men are always hard to understand or deal with in history, for, as their minds are above common understandings, their contemporary historians generally enter into their views less than any one else, and it is only the result that proves their wisdom and far-sight. Moreover, their temptations and their sins are on a larger scale than those of other men, and some of the actions that they perform make a disproportionate impression by the cry that they occasion—the evil is remembered, not the good that their main policy effected.

William was a high-minded man, of mighty and wide purposes, one of the very few who understood what it was to be a king. He had the Norman qualities in their fullest perfection. He was devoutly religious, and in his private character was irreproachable, being the first Norman Duke unstained by licence, the first whose sons were all born of his princess wife. He was devout in his habits, full of alms-deeds; and strong and resolute as was his will, he kept it so upright and so truly desirous of the Divine glory and the Church’s welfare, that he had no serious misunderstanding with the clergy, and lived on the most friendly terms with his great Archbishop, Lanfranc.

He was one of those mighty men who, in personal intercourse, have a force of nature that not merely renders opposition impossible, but absolutely masters the will and intention, so that there is not even the secret contradiction of mind. We have seen this in his dealings with both his own Normans and the Saxons who came in contact with him. His presence was so irresistible that men yielded to it unconsciously, but when absent from him they became themselves again, and in the reaction they committed treason against the pledges they seemed to have voluntarily given to him.

He was stern, fiercely stern. His standard and ideal were very high, such as, perhaps, only the saintly could attain to. The men who never quarrelled with him were Lanfranc, Edgar Atheling, and William Fitzosborn. The first was saintly and strong; the second, honest, upright, and simple; the third was endeared by boyish memories, and to these, perhaps, may be added Edward the Confessor and good Bishop Wulstan.

Many others William tried to love and trust—his uncle Odo, his own son, Earls Edwin and Morkar, Waltheof, the sons of Fitzosborn; but they all failed, grieved, and disappointed him. None was strong, noble, or disinterested enough not at one time or other to be a traitor; and, perhaps, his really honest, open enemy, Hereward le Wake, was the person whom he most valued and honored after the above mentioned.

And though his affection was hearty, his wrath when he was disappointed was tremendous. And his disappointments were many, partly because his standard was in every respect far above that of the men around him, and partly because his presence so far lifted them to his level, that, when they fell to their own, he was totally unprepared for the treachery and deceit such a fall involved.

Then down he came on them with implacable vengeance, he was so very “stark,” as the old chronicle has it. Battle, devastation, plunder, lifelong imprisonment, confiscation, requited him who had drawn on himself the terrible wrath of William of Normandy. There were few soft places in that mighty heart; it could love, but it could not pity, and it could not forgive. He was of the true nature to be a Scourge of God.

Hardened and embittered by the selfish treasons that had beset his early boyhood, and which had forced him into manhood before his time, he came to England as one called thither by the late king’s designation, and, therefore, the lawful heir. The Norman law, a confusion of the old Frank and Roman codes, and of the Norwegian pirate customs, he seems to have been glad to leave behind. His native Normans must be ruled by it, but he was an English king by inheritance, and English laws he would observe; Englishmen should have their national share in the royal favor, and in their native land.

But the design proved impracticable. The English had been split into fierce parties long before he came, and the West Saxon, the Mercian Angle, and Northumbrian Dane hated one another still, and all hated the Norman alike; and his Norman, French, and Breton importations lost no love among themselves, and viewed the English natives as conquered beings, whose spoil was unjustly withheld from them by the Duke King.

Rebellion began: by ones, twos, and threes, the nobles revolted, and were stamped out by William’s iron heel, suffering his fierce, unrelenting justice—that highest justice that according to the Latin proverb becomes, in man’s mind at least, the highest injustice. So England lay, trampled, bleeding, indignant, and raising a loud cry of misery; but, in real truth, the sufferers were in the first place the actual rebels, Saxon and Norman alike; next, those districts which had risen against his authority, and were barbarously devastated with fire and sword; and lastly, the places which, by the death or forfeiture of native lords, or by the enforced marriage of heiresses, fell into the hands of rapacious Norman adventurers, who treated their serfs with the brutal violence common in France.

Otherwise, things were left much as they were. The towns had little or no cause of complaint, and the lesser Saxon gentry, with the Franklins and the Earls, were unmolested, unless they happened to have vicious neighbors. The Curfew bell, about which so great a clamor was raised, was a universal regulation in Europe; it was a call to prayers, an intimation that it was bedtime, and a means of guarding against fire, when streets were often nothing but wooden booths thatched. The intense hatred that its introduction caused was only the true English dislike to anything like domiciliary interference.

The King has left us an undoubted testimony to the condition of the country, and the number of Saxons still holding tenures. Nineteen years after his Conquest, he held a council at Gloucester, the result of which was a great “numbering of the people”—a general census. To every city or town, commissioners were sent forth, who collected together the Shire reeve or Sheriff—the Viscount, as the Normans called him—the thegus, the parish priests, the reeves, and franklins, who were examined upon oath of the numbers, names, and holdings of the men of their place, both as they were in King Edward’s days, and at that time. The lands had to be de scribed, whether plough lands or pasture, wood or waste; the mills and fisheries wore recorded, and each farmer’s stock of oxen, cows, sheep, or swine. The English grumbled at the inquiry, called it tyranny, and expected worse to come of it, but there was no real cause for complaint. The primary object of the survey was the land-tax, the Danegeld, as it was called, because it was first raised to provide defences against the Danes, and every portion of arable land was assessed at a fair rate, according to ancient custom, but not that which lay waste. The entire record, including all England save London and the four northern counties, was preserved at Winchester, and called the Winchester Roll, or Domesday Book. It is one of the most interesting records in existence, showing, as it does, the exceeding antiquity of our existing divisions of townships, parishes and estates, and even of the families inhabiting them, of whom a fair proportion, chiefly of the lesser gentry, can point to evidence that they live on soil that was tilled by their fathers before the days of the Norman. It is far more satisfactory than the Battle Roll, which was much tampered with by the monks to gratify the ancestral vanity of gentlemen who were so persuaded that their ancestors ought to be found there, that they caused them to be inserted if they were missing. Of Domesday Book, however, there is no doubt, as the original copy is still extant in its fair old handwriting, showing the wonderful work that the French-speaking scribes made with English names of people and places. Queen Edith, the Confessor’s widow, who was a large landholder, appears as Eddeve, Adeve, Adiva—by anything but her true old English name of Eadgyth. But it was much that the subdued English folk appeared there at all.

The most real grievance that the English had to complain of was the Forest Laws. The Dukes of Normandy had had many a quarrel in their Neustrian home with their subjects, on the vexed question of the chase, their greatest passion; and when William came into England as a victor, he was determined to rule all his own way in the waste and woodland. All the forests he took into his own hands, and the saying was that “the king loved the high deer as if he was their father;” any trespass was severely punched, and if he slaughter of any kind of game was a more serious thing than murder itself.

Chief of all, however, in people’s minds, was his appropriation of the tract of Jettenwald, or the Giant’s Wood, Ytene, in South Hants. A tempting hunting-ground extended nearly all the way from his royal city of Winchester, broad, bare chalk down, passing into heathy common, and forest waste, covered with holly and yew, and with noble oak and beech in its dells, fit covert for the mighty boar, the high deer, and an infinity of game beside.

With William’s paternal feelings toward the deer, he thought the cotters and squatters, the churls and the serfs, on the borders of the wood, or in little clearings in the midst, mischievous interlopers, and at one swoop he expelled them all, and kept the Giant’s Wood solely for himself and his deer, by the still remaining name of the New Forest.

Chroniclers talk of twenty-two mother churches and fifty-two parishes laid waste, but there is no doubt that this was a monstrous exaggeration, and that the population could not have been so dense. At any rate, whatever their numbers, the inhabitants were expelled, the animals were left unmolested for seven years, and then the Norman king enjoyed his sports there among his fierce nobility, little recking that all the English, and many of the Normans, longed that a curse should there light upon his head, or on that of his proud sons.





CAMEO XI. THE CONQUEROR’S CHILDREN. (1050-1087.)

The wife of William of Normandy was, as has been said, Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders. The wife of such a man as William has not much opportunity of showing her natural character, and we do not know much of hers. It appears, however, that she was strong-willed and vindictive, and, very little disposed to accept him. She had set her affections upon one Brihtric Meau, called Snow, from his fair complexion, a young English lord who had visited her father’s court on a mission from Edward the Confessor, but who does not appear to have equally admired the lady. For seven years Matilda is said to have held out against William, until one twilight evening, when she was going home from church, in the streets of Bruges he rode up to her, beat her severely, and threw her into the gutter!

Wonderful to relate, the high-spirited demoiselle was subdued by this rough courtship, and gave her hand to her determined cousin without further resistance; nor do we hear that he ever beat her again. Indeed, if he did, he was not likely to let their good vassals be aware of it; and, in very truth, they seem to have been considered as models of peace and happiness. But it is much to be suspected that her nature remained proud and vindictive; for no sooner had her husband become master of England, than she caused the unfortunate Brihtric, who had disdained her love, to be stripped of all his manors in Gloucestershire, including Fairford, Tewkesbury, and the rich meadows around, and threw him into Winchester Castle, where he died; while Domesday Book witnesses to her revenge, by showing that the lands once his belonged to Queen Matilda.

The indication of character in a woman who had so little opportunity of independent action, is worth noting, as it serves to mark the spirit in which her children would be reared, and to explain why the sons so entirely fell short of all that was greatest and noblest in their father. The devotion, honor, and generosity, that made the iron of his composition bright as well as hard, was utterly wanting in them, or merely appeared in passing inconsistencies, and it is but too likely that they derived no gentler training from their mother. There were ten children, four sons and six daughters, but the names of these latter, are very difficult to distinguish, as Adela, Atheliza, Adelheid, or Alix, was a sort of feminine of Atheling, a Princess-Royal title, and was applied to most of the eldest daughters of the French and German-princes, or, when the senior was dead, or married, to the surviving eldest.

Cecily, Matilda’s eldest daughter, was, even before her birth, decreed to be no Adela for whom contending potentates might struggle. She was to be the atonement for the parents’ hasty, unlicensed marriage, in addition to their two beautiful abbeys at Caen. When the Abbaye aux Dames was consecrated, the little girl was led by her father to the foot of the altar, and there presented as his offering. She was educated with great care by a very learned though somewhat dissipated priest, took the veil, and, becoming abbess, ruled her nuns for many years, well contented and much respected.

The next sister was the Atheliza of the family, but her name was either Elfgiva or Agatha. She enjoys the distinction of being the only female portrait in her mother’s tapestry—except a poor woman escaping from a sacked town. She stands under a gateway, while Harold is riding forth with her father, in witness, perhaps, of her having been betrothed to Harold; or perhaps Matilda felt a mother’s yearning to commemorate the first of her flock who had been laid in the grave, for Elfgiva died a short time after the contract, which Harold would hardly have fulfilled, since he had at least one wife already at home.

Her sister, Matilda, promoted to be Adeliza, was betrothed to another Saxon, the graceful and beautiful Edwin, whom she loved with great ardor, through all his weak conduct toward her father. After his untimely end, she was promised to Alfonso I. of Castile, but she could not endure to give her heart to another; she wept and prayed continually, but in vain as far as her father was concerned. She was sent off on her journey, but died on the way; and then it was that the poor girl’s knees were found to be hardened by her constant kneeling to implore the pity that assuredly was granted to her.

Constance married Alain Fergeant, a brother of the Duke of Brittany, and an adventurer in the Norman invasion. He was presented with the Earldom of Richmond, in Yorkshire; and as his son became afterward Duke of Brittany, this appanage frequently gave title to younger brothers in the old Armorican Duchy. That son was not born of Constance; she fell into a languishing state of health, and died, four years after her marriage. Report said that her husband’s vassals found her so harsh and rigorous, that they poisoned her; and considering what her brothers were, it is not unlikely.

Of the Adela who married that accomplished prince, Stephen, Count de Blois, there will be more to say; and as to Gundred, the wife of Earl Warenne, it is a doubtful question whether she was a daughter of William and Matilda. Her tomb was lately found in Isfield Church, Sussex; but though it has an inscription praising her virtues, it says nothing of her royal birth.

The sons of William left far more distinct and undesirable traces of themselves than their sisters. Robert was probably the eldest of the whole family, and he was his mother’s favorite, like most eldest sons. He did not inherit the stately height of the Norman princes, and, from his short, sturdy form, early acquired the nickname of Courtheuse, by which he was distinguished among the swarms of other Roberts. Much pains was bestowed on his instruction, and that of his brothers, Richard and William, by the excellent Lanfranc, and they all had great abilities; but there were influences at work among the fierce Norman lads that rendered the holy training of the good abbot wholly ineffectual. Their father, conscious of his own defective right to the ducal rank, lost no opportunity of binding his vassals to swear fealty not only to himself, but his eldest son; and from Robert’s infancy he had learnt to hold out his hand, and hear the barons declare themselves his men. When the Duke set out on his conquest of England, he caused the oath to be renewed to Robert, and he at the same time showed his love for William, then the youngest, by having him, with his long red hair floating, carved, blowing a horn, at the figure-head of the Mora.

Soon after the Conquest, when Matilda had lately been crowned Queen of England, the fourth son, Henry, was born. He had much more personal beauty and height than the other brothers, and there was always an idea floating that the son born when his father was king had a right over his elder brethren, and thus Henry was always an object of jealousy to his brothers. Passionately fond of the few books he could obtain, he was called Beauclerc, or the fine scholar; and whilst as little restrained by real principle as his brothers, he was able to preserve a decorum and self-command that kept him in better reputation.

The second brother, Richard, however, had no opportunity of showing his character. He died in the New Forest, either from a blow on the head from a branch of a tree, or from a fever caught in the marshes, and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. Perhaps the doom came on him in innocent youth, “because there was some good thing in him.”

In 1075, when Robert must have been a man some years over twenty, Henry a boy of nine, and William probably twelve or fourteen, they all three accompanied their father into Normandy, and were there in the fortress of Aquila, or Aigle, so called because there had been an eagle’s nest in the oak-tree close to the site of the castle. Robert was in a discontented mood. The numerous occasions on which he had received the homage of the Normans made him fancy he ought to have the rule in the duchy; his mother’s favoritism had fostered his ill-feeling, and he was becoming very jealous of red-haired William, who from his quickness, daring, and readiness had become his father’s favorite; and though under restraint in the Conqueror’s presence, was no doubt outrageously boisterous, insolent, and presuming in his absence; and Henry, the fine scholar, his companion and following his lead, secretly despised both his elders.

Robert’s lodging was suddenly invaded by the two wild lads and their attendants. Finding themselves no better welcomed or amused than rude boys are wont to be by young men, they betook themselves to an upper room, the floor of which was formed by ill-laid, gaping planks, which were the ceiling of that below. Here they began to play at dice; they soon grew even more intolerably uproarious, and in the coarse of their quarrelsome, boisterous tricks, overthrew a vessel of dirty water, which began to drip through the interstices of the planks on their brother and his friends below—an accident sure to be welcomed by a hoarse laugh by the rough boys, but appearing to the victims beneath a deliberate insult. “Are you a man not to avenge this shameful insolence?” cried Robert’s friends, Alberic and Ivo de Grantmesnil. In a fury of passion, Robert rushed after the lads with his sword drawn, and King William was roused from his sleep to hear that Lord Robert was murdering his brothers.

The passion and violence of the elder son had the natural effect of making the father take the part of the younger ones, and Robert was so much incensed, that he rode off with his friends, and, collecting partisans as he went, attacked Rouen.

He was of course repulsed, and many of his followers were made prisoners. He held out in the border counties for a little while, but all his supporters were gained from him by his father, and he at length came back to court, and appeared reconciled. There, however, he had nothing to do, and all the licentious and disaffected congregated round him; he idled away half his time, and revelled the rest, and his pretensions magnified themselves all the time in his fancy, till at last he was stimulated to demand of his father the cession of Normandy, as a right confirmed to him by the French king.

William replied by a lecture on disobedience, citing as examples of warning all the Absaloms of history; but Robert fiercely answered, that he had not come to listen to a sermon; he was sick of hearing all this from his teachers, and he would have his answer touching his claim to Normandy.

The answer he got was, “It is not my custom to lay aside my clothes till I go to bed.”

It sent him off in a rage, with all his crew of dissolute followers. He went first to his uncle in Flanders, then to Germany and Italy, always penniless from his lavish habits, though his mother often sent him supplies of money by a trusty messenger, called Samson le Breton. However, the King found him out, and reproached Matilda angrily; but she made answer, “If Robert, my son, were buried seven feet under ground, and I could bring him to life again by my heart’s blood, how gladly would I give it!” The implacable William commanded Samson to be blinded, but he escaped to the monastery of St. Everard, and there became a monk.

Returning, Robert presented himself to King Philippe of France, who was glad to annoy his overgrown vassal by patronizing the rebellious son, and accordingly placed Robert in the Castle of Gerberoi, where he might best be a thorn in his father’s side. There William besieged him, bringing the two younger sons with him, though Henry was but twelve years old. For three weeks there was sharp fighting; and, finally, a battle, in which the younger William was wounded, and the elder, cased in his full armor of chain mail, encountered unknowingly with Robert, in the like disguising hawberk. The Conqueror’s horse was killed; his esquire, an Englishman, in bringing him another, was slain; and he himself received a blow which caused such agony that he could not repress a shriek of pain. Robert knew his voice, and, struck with remorse, immediately lifted him up, offered him his own horse, and assured him of his ignorance of his person; but William, smarting and indignant, vouchsafed no answer, and while the son returned to his castle, the father went back to his camp, which he broke up the next day, and returned to Rouen.

Robert seems to have been a favorite with the lawless Normans, who writhed under the mighty hand of his father, and on their interference, backed by that of the French king and the Pope, brought about a reconciliation in name. The succession of Normandy was again secured to Robert, but therewith he was laid under a curse by his angry father, whose face he never saw again.

Other troubles thickened on William. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, the bold, rough, jovial half-brother, whom he had trusted and loved, was reported to be full of mischievous plots. He seems to have been told by diviners that the next Pope was to be named Odo, and, to secure the fulfilment of the augury, he was sending bribes to Rome, and at the same time collecting a great body of troops with whom to fight his way thither. He was in the Isle of Wight, preparing to carry his forces to Normandy, when William pounced, on him, and ordered him back again. It is not clear whether he wished to prevent the scandal to the Church, or whether he suspected this army of Odo’s of being intended to support Robert against himself; but, at any rate, he made bitter complaint before the council of the way he had been treated by son, brother, and peer, and sentenced Odo to imprisonment. No one would touch the Bishop, and William was obliged to seize him himself, answering, to Odo’s appeal to his inviolable orders, “I judge not the Bishop, but my Earl and Treasurer.”

Another grief befell him in 1083, in the death of Matilda, who, it was currently believed, pined away with grief at his fury against her beloved first-born—anger that his affection for her could not mitigate, though he loved her so tenderly that his great heart almost broke at her death, and he never was the same man during the four years that he survived her.

His health began to break; he had grown large and unwieldy, but his spirit was as fiery as ever, and wherever there was war, there was he. At last, in 1087, there was an insurrection at Mantes, supported by King Philippe. William complained, but received no redress. Rude, scornful jests were reported to him, and the savage part of his nature was aroused.

Always, hitherto, he had shown great forbearance in abstaining from direct warfare on his suzerain, much as Philippe had often provoked him, but his patience was exhausted, and he armed himself for a deadly vengeance.

His own revolted town of Mantes was the first object of his fury. It was harvest-time, and the crops and vineyards were mercilessly trodden down. The inhabitants sallied out, hoping to save their corn; but the ruthless king made his way into the city, and there caused house, convent, and church alike to suffer plunder and fire, riding about himself directing the work of destruction. The air was flame above, the ground was burning hot beneath. His horse stumbled with pain and fright; and the large, heavy body of the king fell forward on the high steel front of the saddle, so as to be painfully and internally injured. He was carried back to Rouen, but the noise, bustle, and heat of the city were intolerable to him, and, with the restlessness of a dying man, he caused himself to be carried to the convent of St. Gervais, on a hill above the town; but he there found no relief. He felt his time was come, and sent for his sons, William and Henry.

The mighty man’s agony was a terrible one. “No tongue can tell,” said he, “the deeds of wickedness I have wrought during my weary pilgrimage of toil and care.” He tried to weigh against these his good actions, his churches and convents, his well-chosen bishops, his endeavors to act uprightly and justly; but finding little comfort in these, he bewailed his own destiny, and how his very birth had forced him into bloodshed, and driven him to violence, even in his youth.

The presence of his sons brought back his mind from the thought of his condition, to that of the disposal of the lands which had become to him merely a load of thick clay smeared with blood. Normandy, he said, must be Robert’s; but he groaned at the thought of the misery preparing for his native land. “Wretched,” he said, “must be the country under Robert’s rule; but he has received the homage of the barons, and the grant once made can never be revoked. To England I dare appoint no heir. Let Him in whose hands are all things, provide according to His will.”

This was his first feeling, but when he saw William’s disappointment, he added, that he hoped the choice of the English might fall on his obedient son.

“And what do you give me, father?” broke in Henry.

“A treasure of 5,000 pounds of silver,” was the answer.

“What good will the treasure do me,” cried Henry, “if I have neither land, nor house, nor home?”

“Take comfort, my son,” said his father; “it may be that one day thou shalt be greater than all.”

These words he spoke in the spirit of foreboding, no doubt perceiving in Henry a sagacity and self-command which in the struggle of life was certain to give him the advantage of his elder brothers; but then, alarmed lest what he had said might be construed as acknowledging Henry’s superior claim as having been born a king’s son, he felt it needful to back up Rufus’s claim, and bade a writ be prepared commanding Lanfranc to crown William King of England. Affixing his signet, he kissed and blessed his favorite, and sent him off at once to secure the English throne. Henry, too, hurried away to secure his 5,000 pounds, and the dying man was left alone, struggling between terror and hope.

He left sums of money for alms, masses, and prayers; and as an act of forgiveness, released his captives—Earl Morcar, Ulfnoth, the unfortunate hostage, Siward, and Roger de Breteuil, and all the rest; but he long excepted his brother Odo, and only granted his liberation on the earnest persuasion of the other brother, the Count of Mortagne.

He slept uneasily at night, awoke when the bells were ringing for lauds, lifted up his hands in prayer, and breathed his last on the 8th of September, 1087.

His sons were gone, his attendants took care of themselves, his servants plundered the chamber and bed, and cast on the floor uncovered the mortal remnant of their once dreaded master. And though the clergy soon recollected themselves, and attended to the obsequies of their benefactor, carrying the corpse to his own Abbey at Caen, yet even there, as has already been said, the cry of the despoiled refused to the Conqueror even the poor boon of a grave.





CAMEO XII. THE CROWN AND THE MITRE.

  Kings of England.
   1087. William II.
   1100. Henry I.

  King of France.
   1059. Philippe I.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1080. Heinrich IV.
   1105. Heinrich V.

  Popes of Rome.
   1066. Victor III.
   1073. Gregory VII.
   1088. Urban II.
  1099. Paschal II.

Great struggles took place in the eleventh century, between the spiritual and temporal powers. England was the field of one branch of the combat, between Bishop and King; but this cannot be properly understood without reference to the main conflict in Italy, between Pope and Emperor.

The Pope, which word signifies Father, or Patriarch, of Rome, had from the Apostolic times been always elected, like all other bishops, by the general consent of the flock, both clergy and people; and, after the conversion of Constantine, the Emperor, as first lay member of the Church, of course had a powerful voice in the election, could reject any person of whom he disapproved, or nominate one whom he desired to see chosen, though still subject to the approval of clergy and people.

This power was, however, seldom exercised by the emperors at Rome, after the seat of empire had been transferred to Constantinople, and their power over Italy was diminishing through their own weakness and the German conquests. The election continued in the hands of the Romans, and in general, at this time, their choice was well-bestowed; the popes were, many of them, saintly men, and, by their wisdom and authority, often guarded Rome from the devastations with which it was threatened by the many barbarous nations who invaded Italy. So it continued until Pope Zaccaria quarrelled with Astolfo, King of Lombardy, and summoned the Carlovingian princes from France to protect him. These Italian wars resulted in Charles-le-Magne taking for himself the crown of Lombardy, and in his being chosen Roman Emperor of the West, by the citizens of Rome, under the influence of the Pope; while he, on his side, conferred on the pope temporal powers such as none of his predecessors had enjoyed.

From thenceforth the theory was, that the Pope was head of the Western Church, with archbishops, bishops, clergy, and laity, in regular gradations under him; while the Emperor was in like manner head of the State, kings, counts, barons, and peasants, in different orders below him; the Church ruling the souls, the State the bodies of men, and the two chieftains working hand in hand, each bearing a mission from above; the Emperor, as a layman, owning himself inferior to the Pope, yet the Pope acknowledging the temporal power of the crowned monarch.

This was a grand theory, but it fell grievously short in the practice. The city of Rome, with its worn-out civilization, was a most corrupt place; and now that the Papacy conferred the highest dignity and influence, it began to be sought by very different men, and by very different means, from those that had heretofore prevailed. Bribery and every atrocious influence swayed the elections, and the wickedness of some of the popes is almost incredible. At last the emperors interfered to check the dreadful crimes and profanity at Rome, and thus the nomination of the Pope fell absolutely into their hands, and was taken from the Romans, to whom it belonged.

In the earlier part of the eleventh century, a deacon of Rome, named Hildebrand, formed the design of freeing the See of St. Peter from the subjection of the emperors, and at the same time of saving it from the disgraceful power of the populace. The time was favorable, for the Emperor, Henry IV., was a child, and the Pope, Stephen II., was ready to forward all Hildebrand’s views.

In the year 1059 was held the famous Lateran Council [Footnote: So called from being convoked in the Church at the Lateran gate, on the spot where St. John was miraculously preserved from the boiling oil.] of the Roman clergy, in which it was enacted, that no benefice should be received from the hands of any layman, but that all bishops should be chosen by the clergy of the diocese; and though they in many cases held part of the royal lands, they were by no means to receive investiture from the sovereign, nor to pay homage. The tokens of investiture were the pastoral staff, fashioned like a shepherd’s crook, and the ring by which the Bishop was wedded to his See, and these were to be no longer taken from the monarch’s hands. The choice of the popes was given to the seventy cardinal or principal clergy of the diocese, who were chiefly the ministers of the different parish churches, and in their hands it has remained ever since.

Hildebrand himself was elected Pope in 1073, and took the name of Gregory VII. He bore the brunt of the battle by which it was necessary to secure the privileges he had asserted for the clergy. Henry IV. of Germany was a violent man, and a furious struggle took place. The Emperor took it on himself to depose the Pope, the Pope at the same time sentenced the Emperor to abstain from the exercise of his power, and his subject; elected another prince in his stead.

At one time Gregory compelled Henry to come barefooted to implore absolution; at another, Henry besieged Rome, and Gregory was only rescued from him by the Normans of Apulia, and was obliged to leave Rome, and retire under their protection to Apulia, where he died in 1085, after having devoted his whole life to the fulfilment of his great project of making the powers of this world visibly submit themselves to the dominion of the Church.

The strife did not end with Gregory’s death. Henry IV. was indeed dethroned by his wicked son, but no sooner did this very son, Henry V., come to the crown, than he struggled with the Pope as fiercely as his father had done.

It was not till after this great war in Germany that the question began in any great degree to affect England. Archbishop Lanfranc, as an Italian, thought and felt with Gregory VII.; and the Normans, both here and in Italy, were in general the Pope’s best friends; so that, though William the Conqueror refused to make oath to become the warrior of the Pope, Church affairs in general made no great stir in his lifetime, and the question was not brought to issue.

The face of affairs was, however, greatly changed by the death of the Conqueror in 1087. William Rufus was a fierce, hot-tempered man, without respect for religion, delighting in revelry, and in being surrounded with boisterous, hardy soldiers, whom he paid lavishly, though at the same time he was excessively avaricious.

He had made large promises of privileges to the Saxons, in order to obtain their support in case his elder brother Robert had striven to assert his claims; but all these were violated, and when Lanfranc remonstrated, he scoffingly asked whether the Archbishop fancied a king could keep all his promises.

Lanfranc had been his tutor, had conferred on him the order of knighthood and had hitherto exercised some degree of salutary influence over him; but seeing all his efforts in vain, he retired to Canterbury, and there died on the 24th of May, 1089.

Then, indeed, began evil days for the Church of England. William seized all the revenues of the See of Canterbury, and kept them in his own hands, instead of appointing a successor to Lanfranc, and he did the same with almost every other benefice that fell vacant, so that at one period he thus was despoiling all at once—the archbishopric, four bishops’ sees, and thirteen abbeys. At the same time, the miseries he inflicted on the country were dreadful; his father’s cruel forest laws were enforced with double rigor, and the oppression of the Saxons was terrible, for they were absolutely without the least protection from any barbarities his lawless soldiery chose to inflict upon them. Every oppressive baron wreaked his spite against his neighbors with impunity, and Ivo Taillebois [Footnote: See “The Camp of Refuge.”] was not long in showing his malice, as usual, against Croyland Abbey.

A fire had accidentally broken out which consumed all the charters, except some which were fortunately in another place, where they had been set aside by Abbot Ingulf, that the younger monks might learn to read the old Saxon character, and among these was happily the original grant of the lands of Turketyl, signed by King Edred, and further confirmed by the great seal of William I.

Ivo Taillebois, hearing of the fire, and trusting that all the parchments had been lost together, sent a summons to the brethren to produce the deeds by which they held their lands. They despatched a lay brother called Trig to Spalding, with Turketyl’s grant under his charge. The Normans glanced over it, and derided it. “Such barbarous writings,” they said, “could do nothing;” but when Trig produced the huge seal, with William the Conqueror’s effigy, still more “stark” and rigid than Sir Ivo had known him in his lifetime, there was no disputing its validity, and the court of Spalding was baffled. However, Taillebois sent some of his men to waylay the poor monk, and rob him of his precious parchment, intending then again to require the brotherhood to prove their rights by its production; but brother Trig seems to have been a wary man, and, returning by a by-path, avoided pursuit, and brought the charter safely home. A short time after, Ivo offended the king, and was banished, much to the joy of the Fen country.

Rapine and oppression were in every corner of England and Normandy, the two brothers Robert and William setting the example by stripping their youngest brother, Henry, of the castle he had purchased with his father’s legacy. One knight, two squires, and a faithful chaplain, alone would abide by the fortunes of the landless prince. The chaplain, Roger le Poer, had been chosen by Henry, for a reason from which no one could have expected the fidelity he showed his prince in his misfortunes, nor his excellent conduct afterward when sharing the prosperity of his master. He was at first a poor parish priest of Normandy, and Henry, chancing to enter his church, found him saying mass so quickly, that, quite delighted, the prince exclaimed, “Here’s a priest for me!” and immediately took him into his service. Nevertheless, Roger le Poer was an excellent adviser, an upright judge, and a good bishop. It was he who commenced the Cathedral of Salisbury, where it now stands, removing it from the now deserted site of Old Sarum.

Robert had not added much to the tranquillity of the country by releasing his uncle, the turbulent old Bishop Odo, who was continually raising quarrels between him and William. Odo’s old friend, Earl Hugh the Wolf, of Chester, [Footnote: See the “Camp of Refuge.”] was at this time better employed than most of the Norman nobles. He was guarding the frontier against the Welsh, and at the same time building the heavy red stone pile which is now the Cathedral of Chester, and which he intended as the Church of a monastery of Benedictines. Fierce old Hugh was a religious man, and had great reverence and affection for one of the persons in all the world most unlike himself—Anselm, the Abbot of Bec.

Anselm was born at Aosta, in Piedmont, of noble parents, and was well brought up by his pious mother, Ermengarde, under whose influence he applied himself to holy learning, and was anxious to embrace a religious life. She died when he was fifteen years of age, and his father was careless and harsh. Anselm lost his love for study, and fell into youthful excesses, but in a short time her good lessons returned upon him, and he repented earnestly. His father, however, continued so unkind, and even cruel, that he was obliged to leave the country, and took refuge, first in Burgundy and then in Normandy, where he sought the instruction of his countryman, Lanfranc, then Abbot of Bec.

He learnt, at Bec, that his father was dead, and decided on taking the vows in that convent. There he remained for many years, highly revered for his piety and wisdom, and, in fact, regarded as almost a saint. In 1092, Hugh the Wolf was taken ill, and, believing he should never recover, sent to entreat the holy Abbot to come and give him comfort on his death-bed. Anselm came, but on his arrival found the old Earl restored, and only intent on the affairs of his new monastery, the regulation of which he gladly submitted to Anselm. The first Abbot was one of the monks of Bec, and Earl Hugh himself afterward gave up his country to his son Richard, and assumed the monastic habit there.

Whilst Anselm was on his visit to the Earl of Chester, there was some conversation about him at Court, and some one said that the good Abbot was so humble that he had no desire for any promotion or dignity. “Not for the Archbishopric?” shouted the King, with a laugh of derision; “but”—and he swore an oath—“other Archbishop than me there shall be none.”

Some of the clergy about this time requested William to permit prayers to be offered in the churches, that he might be directed to make a fit choice of a Primate. He laughed, and said the Church might ask what she pleased; she would not hinder him from doing what he pleased.

He knew not what Power he was defying. That power, in the following spring, stretched him on a bed of sickness, despairing of life, and in an agony of remorse at his many fearful sins, especially filled with terror at his sacrilege, and longing to free himself from that patrimony of the Church which seemed to be weighing down his soul.

Anselm was still with Hugh the Wolf, probably at Gloucester, where the King’s illness took place. A message came to summon him without delay to the royal chamber, there to receive the pastoral staff of Canterbury. He would not hear of it; he declared he was unfit, he was an old man, and knew nothing of business, he was weak, unable to govern the Church in such times. “The plough should be drawn by animals of equal strength,” said he to the bishops and other friends who stood round, combatting his scruples, and exulting that the king’s heart was at length touched. “Would you yoke a feeble old sheep with a wild young bull?”

Without heeding his objections, the Norman clergy by main force dragged him into the room where lay the Red King, in truth like to a wild bull in a net, suffering from violent fever, and half mad with impatience and anguish of mind. He would not hear Anselm’s repeated refusals, and besought him to save him. “You will ruin me,” he said. “My salvation is in your hands. I know God will never have mercy on me if Canterbury is not filled.”

Still Anselm wept, imploring him to make another choice; but the bishops carried him up to the bedside, and actually forced open his clenched hand to receive the pastoral staff which William held out to him. Then, half fainting, he was carried away to the Cathedral, where they chanted the Te Deum, and might well have also sung, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water.”

But though William had thus been shown how little his will availed when he openly defied the force of prayer, his stubborn disposition was unchanged, and he recovered only to become more profane than ever. Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, when congratulating him on his restoration, expressed a hope that he would henceforth show more regard to the Most High. “Bishop,” he returned, as usual with an oath, “I will pay no honor to Him who has brought so much evil on me.”

A war at this time broke out between William and his brother Robert, and the King ordered all his bishops to pay him large sums to maintain his forces. Canterbury had been so wasted with his extortions that Anselm could hardly raise 500 marks, which he brought the King, warning him that this was the last exaction with which he meant to comply. “Keep your money and your foul tongue to yourself,” answered William; and Anselm gave the money to the poor.

Shortly after, Anselm expostulated with William on the wretched state of the country, where the Christian religion had almost perished; but the King only said he would do what he would with his own, and that his father had never met with such language from Lanfranc. Anselm was advised to offer him treasure to make his peace, but this he would not do; and William, on hearing of his refusal, broke out thus: “Tell him that as I hated him yesterday, I hate him more to day, and will hate him daily more and more. Let him keep his blessings to himself; I will have none of them.”

The next collision was respecting the Pallium, the scarf of black wool with white crosses; woven from the wool of the lambs blessed by the Pope on St. Agnes’ day, which, since the time of St. Augustine, had always been given by the Pope to the English Primate. Anselm, who had now been Archbishop for two years, asked permission to go and receive it; but as it was in the midst of the dispute between Emperor and Pope, there was an Antipope, as pretenders to that dignity were called—one Guibert, appointed by Henry IV. of Germany, besides Urban II., who had been chosen by the Cardinals, and whose original Christian name was really Odo. William went into a great fury on hearing that Anselm regarded Urban as the true Pope, without having referred to himself, convoked the clergy and laity at Rockingham, and called on them to depose the Archbishop. The bishops, all but Gundulf of Rochester, were in favor of the King, and renounced their obedience to the Primate; but the nobles showed themselves resolved to protect him, whereupon William adjourned the council, and sent privately to ask what might be gained by acknowledging Urban as Pope.

Urban sent a legate to England with the Pallium. The King first tried to make him depose Anselm, and then to give him the Pallium instead of investing the Archbishop with it; but the legate, by way of compromise, laid it on the altar at Canterbury, whence Anselm took it up.

Two years more passed, and Anselm came to beg permission to go to Rome to consult with the Pope on the miserable state of the Church. William said he might go, but if he did, he himself should take all the manors of Canterbury again, and the bishops warned him they should be on the king’s side.

“You have answered well,” said Anselm; “go to your lord; I will hold to my God.”

William banished him for life; but just before he departed, he came to the King, saying, “I know not when I shall see you again, and if you will take it, I would fain give you my blessing—the blessing of a father to his son.”

For one moment the Red King was touched; he bowed his head, and the old man made the sign of the cross on his brow; but no sooner was Anselm gone forth from his presence, than his heart was again hardened, and he so interfered with his departure, that he was forced to leave England in the dress of a pilgrim, with only his staff and wallet.

In Italy, Anselm was able to live in quiet study, write and pray in peace. He longed to resign his archbishopric, but the Pope would not consent; and when Urban was about to excommunicate the King, he prevailed to prevent the sentence from being pronounced.

William was left to his own courses, and to his chosen friend Ralph, a low-born Norman priest, beloved by the King partly for his qualities as a boon companion, partly for his ingenuity as an extortioner. He was universally known by the nickname of Flambard, or the Torch, and was bitterly hated by men of every class. He was once very nearly murdered by some sailors, who kidnapped him, and carried him on board a large ship. Some of them quarrelled about the division of his robes, a storm arose, and he so worked on their fears that they at length set him on shore, where William was so delighted to see him that he gave him the bishopric of Durham, the richest of all, because the bishop was also an earl, and was charged to defend the frontier against the Scots.

He had promised to relax the forest laws, but this was only one of his promises made to be broken; and he became so much more strict in his enforcement of them than even the Conqueror, that he acquired the nickname of Ranger of the Woods and Keeper of the Deer. Dogs in the neighborhood of his forests were deprived of their claws, and there was a scale of punishments for poachers of any rank, extending from the loss of a hand, or eye, to that of life itself. In 1099, another Richard, an illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was killed in the New Forest by striking his head against the branch of a tree; and a belief in a family fate began to prevail, so much so that Bishop Gundulf warned the King against hunting there; but William, as usual, laughed him to scorn, and in the summer of 1100 took up his residence in his lodge of Malwood, attended by his brother Henry, and many other nobles.

On the last night of July a strange sound was heard—the King calling aloud on St. Mary; and when his attendants came into his chamber, they found him crossing himself, in terror from a frightful dream. He bade them bring lights, and make merry, that he might not fall asleep again; but there were other dreamers. With morning a monk arrived to tell that he had had a vision presaging the King’s death; but William brayed his own misgivings, and laughed, saying the man dreamt like a monk. “Give him a hundred pence, and bid him dream better luck next time.”

Yet his spirits were subdued all the morning, and it was not till wine had excited him that he returned to his vein of coarse, reckless mirth. He called his hunters round him, ordered the horses, and asked for his new arrows—long, firm, ashen shafts. Three he stuck in his belt, the other three he held out to a favorite comrade, Walter Tyrrel, Lord de Poix, saying, “Take them, Wat, for a good marskman should have good arrows.”

Some one ventured to remind him of his dream, but his laugh was ready. “Do they take me for a Saxon, to be frighted because an old woman dreams or sneezes?”

The hunters rode off, Walter Tyrrel alone with the King. By-and-by a cry rang through the forest that the King was slain. There was an eager gathering into the beech-shaded dell round the knoll of Stoney Cross, where, beneath an oak tree, lay the bleeding corpse of the Red William, an arrow in his heart. Terror fell on some, the hope of self-aggrandizement actuated others. Walter Tyrrel never drew rein till he came to the coast, and there took ship for France, whence he went to the holy wars. Prince Henry rode as fast in the opposite direction. William de Breteuil (eldest son of Fitz-Osborn) galloped off to secure his charge, the treasury at Winchester, and; when he arrived, found the prince before him, trying to force the keepers to give him the keys, which they refused to do except at their master’s bidding.

Breteuil, who, as well as Henry, had sworn that Robert should reign if William died childless, tried to defend his rights, but was overpowered by some friends of Henry, who now came up to the forest; and the next morning the prince set off to London, taking with him the crown, and caused the Bishop of London to anoint and crown him four days after his brother’s death.

No one cared for the corpse beneath the oak, and there it lay till evening, when one Purkiss, a charcoal-burner of the forest hamlet of Minestead, came by, lifted it up, and carried it on his rude cart, which dripped with the blood flowing from the wound, to Winchester.

There the cathedral clergy buried it in a black stone coffin, ridged like the roof of a house, beneath the tower of the cathedral, many people looking on, but few grieving, and some deeming it shame that so wicked a man should be allowed to lie within a church. These thought it a judgment, when, next year, the tower fell down over the grave, and it was rebuilt a little further westward with some of the treasure Bishop Walkelyn had left. Never did any man’s history more awfully show a hardened, impenitent heart, going back again to sin after a great warning, then cut off by an instantaneous death, in the full tide of prosperity, in the very height of health and strength—for he was but in his fortieth year.

A spur of William Rufus is still preserved at the forest town of Lyndhurst; Purkiss’s descendant still dwells at Minestead; part of the way by which he travelled is called the King’s Lane, and the oak long remained at Stoney Cross to mark the spot where the King fell; and when, in 1745, the remains of the wood mouldered away, a stone was set up in its place; but the last of the posterity of William the Conqueror’s “high deer” were condemned in the course of the year 1831.

  A Minestead churl, whose wonted trade
  Was burning charcoal in the glade,
  Outstretched amid the gorse
  The monarch found: and in his wain
  He raised, and to St. Swithin’s fane
  Conveyed the bleeding corse.

  And still—so runs our forest creed—
  Flourish the pious woodman’s seed,
  Even in the self-same spot:
  One horse and cart, their little store,
  Like their forefather’s, neither more
  Nor less, their children’s lot.

  And still in merry Tyndhurst hall
  Red William’s stirrup decks the wall;
  Who lists, the sight may see.
  And a fair stone in green Mai wood,
  Informs the traveller where stood
  The memorable tree.

  Thus in those fields the Red King died,
  His father wasted in his pride,
  For it is God’s command
  Who doth another’s birthright rive,
  The curse unto his blood shall cleave,
  And God’s own word shall stand.

Who killed William Rufus? is a question to which the answer becomes more doubtful in proportion to our knowledge of history. Suspicion attached of course to Tyrrel, but he never owned that the shaft, either by design or accident, came from his bow, and no one was there to bear witness. Some think Henry Beauclerc might be guilty of the murder, and he was both unscrupulous enough and prompt enough in taking advantage of the circumstance, to give rise to the belief. Anselm was in Auvergne when he heard of the King’s death, and he is said to have wept at the tidings. He soon received a message from Henry inviting him to return to England, where he was received with due respect, and found that, outwardly at least, order and regularity were restored in Church matters, and the clergy possessed their proper influence. Great promises were made to them and to the Saxons; and the hated favorite of William, Ralph Flambard, was in prison in the Tower. However, he contrived to make his escape by the help of two barrels, one containing wine, with which he intoxicated his keepers, the other a rope, by which he let himself down from the window. He went to Robert of Normandy, remained with him some time, but at last made his peace with Henry, and in his old age was a tolerably respectable Bishop of Durham.

Anselm was in favor at court, owing to the influence of the “good Queen Maude,” and he tried to bring about a reformation of the luxuries then prevalent especially long curls, which had come into fashion with the Normans of late. Like St. Wulstan, he carried a knife to clip them, but without making much impression on the gay youths, till one of them happened to dream that the devil was strangling him with his own long hair, waked in a fright, cut it all off, and made all his friends do so too.

As long as Henry was afraid of having his crown disputed by Robert, he took care to remain on excellent terms with the Church, and Anselm supported him with all his influence when Robert actually asserted his rights; but when the danger was over, the strife between Church and State began again. In 1103, Henry appointed four bishops, and required Anselm to consecrate them, but as they all had received the staff and ring from the King, and paid homage for their lands, he considered that he could not do so, conformably with the decree of the Lateran Council against lay investiture. Henry was much displeased, and ordered the Archbishop of York to consecrate them; but two of them, convinced by Anselm, returned the staff and ring, and would not be consecrated by any one but their true primate.

Henry said that one archbishop must consecrate all or none, and the whole Church was in confusion. Anselm, though now very old, offered to go and consult the Pope, Paschal II., and the King consented; but when Paschal decided that lay investiture was unlawful, Henry was so much displeased that he forbade the archbishop to return to England.

The old man returned to his former Abbey of Bec, and thus remained in exile till 1107, when a general adjustment of the whole question took place. The bishops were to take from the altar the ring and staff, emblems of spiritual power, and to pay homage to the king for their temporal possessions. The election was to belong to the cathedral clergy, subject to the King’s approval. The usual course became that the King should send to the chapter a congé d’élire, that is, permission to elect, but accompanied by a recommendation of some particular person; and this nominee of the crown was so constantly chosen, that the custom of sending a congé d’élire has become only a form, which, however, is an assertion of the rights of the Church.

A similar arrangement with regard to the presentation of bishops was accepted in 1122 by Henry V. of Germany, who married Matilda, the daughter of Henry I.

After the arrangement in 1107, Anselm returned to England, and good Queen Maude came to meet him and show him every honor. His last year was spent at Canterbury, in a state of weakness and infirmity, terminated by his death on the 21st of April, 1109.

A gentle, studious man was the pious Anselm, our second Italian archbishop, thrust into the rude combat of the world against his will, and maintaining his cause and the cause of the Church with untiring meekness and quiet resolution.





CAMEO XIII. THE FIRST CRUSADE. (1095-1100.)

  King of England.
   William II.

  King of France.
   Philippe II.

  Emperor of Germany.
   Heinrich IV.

  Pope.
   Urban II.

In the November of 1095 was seen such a sight as the world never afforded before nor since. The great plain of La Limagne, in Auvergne, shut in by lofty volcanic mountains of every fantastic and rugged form, with the mighty Puy de Dome rising royally above them, was scattered from one boundary to the other with white tents, and each little village was crowded with visitants. The town of Clermont, standing on an elevation commanding the whole extent of the plain, was filled to overflowing, and contained a guest before whom all bowed in reverence—the Pope himself—Urban II., whom the nations of the West were taught to call the Father of Christendom. Four hundred Bishops and Abbots had met him there, other clergy to the amount of 4,000, and princes, nobles, knights, and peasants, in numbers estimated at 30,000. Every one’s eye was, however, chiefly turned on a spare and sunburnt man, of small stature, and rude, mean appearance, wearing a plain, dark serge garment, girt by a cord round his waist, his head and feet bare, and a crucifix in his hand. All looked on his austere face with the veneration they would have shown to a saint, and with the curiosity with which those are regarded who have dared many strange perils. He was Peter the Hermit, of Picardy, who had travelled on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; had there witnessed the dreadful profanities of the infidels, and the sufferings they inflicted on the faithful; had conversed with the venerable Patriarch Simeon; nay, it was said, while worshipping at the Holy Sepulchre, had heard a voice calling on him to summon the nations to the rescue of these holy spots. It was the tenth day of the council at Clermont, and in spite of the severe cold, the clergy assembled in the open air on the wide space in front of the dark stone cathedral, then, as now, unfinished. There was need that all should hear, and no building could contain the multitudes gathered at their summons. A lofty seat had been raised for the Pope, and Peter the Hermit stood by his side.

All was silence as the Hermit stood forth, and, crucifix in hand, poured forth his description of the blasphemy of the infidels, the desolation of the sacred places, and the misery of the Christians. He had seen the very ministers of God insulted, beaten, even put to, death: he had seen sacrilege, profanation, cruelty; and as he described them, his voice became stifle, and his eyes streamed with tears.

When he ceased, Urban arose, and strengthened each word he had spoken, till the whole assembly were weeping bitterly. “Yes, brethren,” said the Pope, “let us weep for our sins, which have provoked the anger of heaven; let us weep for the captivity of Zion. But woe to us if our barren pity leaves the inheritance of the Lord any longer in the hands of his foes.”

Then he called on them to take up arms for the deliverance of the Holy Land. “If you live,” said he, “you will possess the kingdoms of the East; if you die, you will be owned in heaven as the soldiers of the Lord; Let no love of home detain you; behold only the shame and sufferings of the Christians, hear only the groans of Jerusalem, and remember that the Lord has said, ‘He that loveth his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoso shall leave house, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, and all that he has, for My sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and in the world to come eternal life.’”

Deus vult; Deus vult;”—It is God’s will—broke as with one voice from the assembly, echoing from the hills around, and pealing with a voice like thunder.

“Yes, it is God’s will,” again spoke Urban, “Let these words be your war-cry, and keep you ever in mind that the Lord of Hosts is with you.” Then holding on high the Cross—“Our Lord himself presents you His own Cross, the sign raised aloft to gather the dispersed of Israel. Bear it on your shoulders and your breast; let it shine on your weapons and your standards. It will be the pledge of victory or the palm of martyrdom, and remind you, that, as your Saviour died for you, so you ought to die for Him.” Outcries of different kinds broke out, but all were for the holy war. Adhemar de Monteil, Bishop of Puy, a neighboring See, first asked for the Cross, and thousands pressed after him, till the numbers of Crosses failed that had been provided, and the cardinals and other principal persons tore up their robes to furnish more.

The crusading spirit spread like circles from a stone thrown into the water, as the clergy of the council carried their own excitement to their homes, and the hosts who took the Cross were beyond all reckoning. On the right or wrong of the Crusades, it is useless as well as impossible to attempt to decide. It was doubtless a spirit of religion, and not of self-interest, that prompted them; they were positively the best way of checking the progress of Mahometanism and the incursions of its professors, and they were undertaken with far purer intentions than those with which they were carried on. That they afterward turned to great wickedness, is not to be denied; some of the degenerate Crusaders of the latter days were among the wickedest of mankind, and the misuse of the influence they gave the Popes became a source of some of the worst practices of the Papacy. Already Pope Urban was taking on him to declare that a man who perished in the Crusade was sure of salvation, and his doctrine was still further perverted and falsified till it occasioned endless evils.

Yet, in these early days, joined with many a germ of evil, was a grandeur of thought, a self-devotion, and truly religious spirit, which will hardly allow us to call the first Crusade other than a glorious and a Holy War.

It was time, politically speaking, to carry the war into the enemy’s quarters, and repress the second wave of Mahometan conquest. Islam [Footnote: Islam, meaning “the faith;” it is a barbarism to speak of the faith of Islam.] has often been called the religion of the sword, and Mahomet and his Arabic successors, under the first impulse, conquered Syria, Persia, Northern Africa, and Spain, and met their first check at Tours from Charles Martel. These, the Saracen Arabs, were a generous race, no persecutors, and almost friendly to the Christians, contenting themselves with placing them under restrictions, and exacting from them a small tribute. After the first great overflow, the tide had somewhat ebbed, and though a brave and cultivated people, they were everywhere somewhat giving way on their orders before the steady resistance of the Christians. Probably, if they had continued in Palestine, there would have been no Crusades.

But some little time before the eleventh century, a second flood began to rush from the East. A tribe of Tartars, called Turcomans, or Turks, embraced Mahometanism, and its precepts of aggression, joining with the warrior-spirit of the Tartar, impelled them forward.

They subdued and slaughtered the Saracens of Syria, made wide conquests in Asia Minor, winning towns of the Greek Empire beyond where the Saracens had ever penetrated, and began to threaten the borders of Christendom. They were very different masters from the Arabs. Active in body, but sluggish in mind, ignorant and cruel, they destroyed and overthrew what the Saracens had spared, disregarded law, and capriciously ill-treated and slaughtered their Christian subjects and the pilgrims who fell into their hands. It was against these savage Turks that the first Crusade was directed.

Peter the Hermit soon gathered together a confused multitude of peasants, women, and children, with whom he set out, together with a German knight named Walter, and called by his countrymen by the expressive name Habe Nichts, translated into French, Sans avoir, and less happily rendered in English, The Penniless. They were a poor, ignorant, half-armed set, who so little knew what they were undertaking, that at every town they came to they would ask if that was Jerusalem. Peter must either have been beyond measure thoughtless, or have expected a miracle to help him, for he set out to lead these poor creatures the whole length of Europe without provisions. They marauded on the inhabitants of the countries through which they passed; the inhabitants revenged themselves and killed them, and the whole wretched host were cut off, chiefly in Hungary and Bulgaria, and Peter himself seems to have been the only man who escaped.

A better-appointed army, consisting of the very flower of chivalry of Europe, had in the meantime assembled to follow the same path, though in a different manner.

First in name and honor was Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, one of the most noble characters whom history records. He was pure in life, devotedly pious, merciful, gentle, and a perfect observer of his word, at the same time that his talents and wisdom were very considerable; he was a finished warrior, expert in every exercise of chivalry, of gigantic strength, and highly renowned as a leader. He had been loyal to the Emperor Henry IV. through the war which had taken place in consequence of his excommunication by Gregory VII. He had killed in battle the rebellious competitor for the imperial crown, who, when dying from a wound by which he had lost his right hand, exclaimed, “With this hand I swore fealty to Henry; cursed be they who led me to break my oath.” Godfrey had likewise been the first to scale the walls of Rome, when Henry IV. besieged Gregory there; but he, in common with many others of the besieging force, soon after suffered severely from malaria fever—the surest way in which modern Rome chastises her invaders; and thinking his illness a judgment for having taken part against the Pope, he vowed to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Soon after, the Crusade was preached, and Godfrey was glad to fulfil his vow with his good sword in his hand, while Pope and princes wisely agreed that such a chieftain was the best they could choose for their expedition.

Many another great name was there: Raymond, the wise Count of Toulouse; the crafty Boemond, one of the Normans of Sicily; his gallant cousin, Tancred, a mirror of chivalry, the Achilles of the Crusade; but our limits will only allow us to dwell on those through whom the Crusade is connected with English history.

The Anglo-Normans had not been so forward in the Crusade as their enterprising nature would have rendered probable, but the fact was, that, with such a master as William Rufus, no one felt that he could leave his home in anything like security. Helie de la Flèche, Count de Maine, [Footnote: Robert of Normandy had been betrothed in his childhood to the heiress of Maine, but she died before she was old enough for the marriage to take place. In right of this intended marriage, the Norman Kings claimed Maine, though Helie was the next heir.] took the Cross, and asked William for some guarantee that his lands should not be molested. “You may go where you like,” said William; “I mean to have your city. What my father had, I will have.”

“It is mine by right,” said Helie; “I will plead it with you.”

“I will plead, too.” said William; “but my lawyers will be spears and arrows.”

“I have taken the Cross; my land is under Christ’s own protection.”

“I only warn you,” said William, “that if you go, I shall pay the good town of Mans a visit, with a thousand lances at my heel.”

So Helie stayed at home, and in two years’ time was made a prisoner when in a wood with only seven knights. Mans was seized, and he was brought before the King. “I have you now, my master,” said William.

“By chance,” said Helie; “but if I were free, I know what I would do.”

“What would you do, you knave?” said William. “Hence, go, fly, I give you leave to do all you can; and if you catch me, I ask nothing in return.”

Helie was set at liberty, and the next year, while William was absent in England, managed to retake Mans. The Red King was hunting in the New Forest when he heard the tidings; he turned his horse’s head and galloped away, as his father had once done, with the words, “He who loves me, will follow.” He threw himself into a ship, and ordered the sails to be set, though the wind was so boisterous that the sailors begged him to wait. “Fools,” he said, “did you ever hear of a drowned king?” He cruelly ravaged Maine, but could not take the city, and, having been slightly wounded, returned to meet his fate in the New Forest.

After this story, no one could wonder that it required a great deal of enthusiasm to persuade a man to leave his inheritance exposed to the grasp of the Red King, who, unlike other princes, set at nought the anathemas by which the Pope guarded the lands of absent Crusaders. Stephen, Count de Blois, the husband of William’s sister Adela, took the Cross. He was wise in counsel, and learned, and a letter which he wrote to his wife is one of the chief authorities for the early part of the expedition; but his health was delicate, and it was also said that his personal courage was not unimpeachable; at any rate, he soon returned home.

One of the foremost of the Crusaders was, however, our own Norman Prince, Robert Courtheuse. Every one knows the deep stain of disobedience on Robert’s early life; and yet so superior was he to his brothers in every point of character, that it is impossible not to regard him with a sort of affection, though the motto of his whole career might be, “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”

Never was man more completely the tool of every villain who gained his ready ear. It was the whisper of evil counsellors that fired his jealousy of his young brothers, and drove him into rebellion against his father; the evil counsel of William led him to persecute Henry, loving him all the time: and when in possession of his dukedom, his careless, profuse habits kept him in constant poverty, while his idle good-nature left unpunished the enormities of the barons who made his country miserable.

But in generosity he never failed; he heartily loved his brothers, while duped and injured by them again and again; he always meant to be true and faithful, and never failed, except from hastiness and weakness; and while William was infidel, and Henry hypocritical, he was devout and sincere in faith, though miserably defective in practice.

The Crusade was the happiest and most respectable period of his life, and no doubt he never was more light-hearted than when he delivered over to William the mortgage of his dukedom, with all its load of care, and received in return the sum of money squeezed by his brother from all the unfortunate convents in England, but which Robert used to equip his brave knights and men-at-arms, assisted by some of the treasures of his uncle, Bishop Odo, who had taken the Cross, but was too feeble and infirm to commence the expedition.

The Crusaders were not sufficiently advanced in the knowledge of navigation to attempt to enter Palestine by sea, and they therefore traversed Germany, Hungary, and the Greek Empire, trusting to the Emperor Alexis Comnenus to give them the means of crossing the Hellespont. Alexis was in great dread of his warlike guests; the schism between the Greek and Roman Churches caused continual heart-burnings; and at the same time he considered, very naturally, that all the lands in the East at present occupied by the Mahometans were his right. He would not, therefore, ferry over the Crusaders to Asia till they had sworn allegiance to him for all that they might conquer, and it was a long time before Godfrey would comply. At last, however, on condition that the Greeks would furnish them with guides and reinforcements, they took the oaths; but as Alexis did not fulfil his part of the engagement, they did not consider themselves bound to him.

At Nicea, the Crusading army, of nineteen different nations, of whom 100,000 were horse and 500,000 infantry, came in sight of the Turks, and, after a long siege and several hotly-contested battles, won the town. They continued their march, but with much suffering and difficulty; Raymond of Toulouse had an illness which almost brought him to the grave, and Godfrey himself was seriously injured by a bear, which he had attacked to save the life of a poor soldier who was in danger from its hug. He killed the bear, but his thigh was much torn, and he was a long time recovering from the effects of his encounter.

At the siege of Antioch were their chief disasters; they suffered from hunger, disease, inundations of the Orontes, attacks of the enemy, until the living were hardly enough to bury the dead. The courage of many gave way; Robert of Normandy retired to Laodicea, and did not return till he had been three times summoned in the name of the Christian Faith; and Peter the Hermit himself, a man of more enthusiasm than steadiness, began to despair, and secretly fled from the camp in the night. As his defection would have done infinite harm to the cause, Tancred pursued him and brought him back to the camp, and Godfrey obliged him to swear that he would not again leave them. In the spring of 1098 a great battle took place, in which Godfrey, Robert, and Tancred each performed feats of the highest prowess. In the midst of the battle, Tancred made his esquire swear never to reveal his exploits, probably as a mortification of his own vanity in hearing them extolled. After a siege of more than seven months, Boemond effected an entrance by means of an understanding with some of the Eastern Christians within the town. It was taken, with great slaughter, and became a principality ruled by the Sicilian Norman.

Another great victory opened the way to Palestine, and the Crusaders advanced, though still very slowly. During the march, one of the knights, named Geoffroi de la Tour, is said to have had a curious adventure. He was hunting in a forest, when he came upon a lion struggling in the folds of a huge serpent; he killed the serpent, and released the lion, which immediately fawned upon him and caressed him. It followed him affectionately throughout the Crusade, but when he embarked to return to Europe, the sailors refused to admit the lion into their vessel. The faithful creature plunged into the sea to follow its master, swam till its strength was exhausted, and then sank and was drowned. [Footnote: Michaud’s Histoire des Croisades gives this story from two authorities.]

It was on a glowing morning of June, 1098, that the Crusading host, Tancred first of all, came in sight of the object of all their toils—the City set upon a Hill.

There it stood, four-square, on the steep, solid, fortification-like rocks, rising from the rugged ravines, Kedron, Siloam, Jehoshaphat, Gehenna, that form, as it were, a deep moat round the walls, and natural defences, bulwarks planted by the Lord’s own hand around His own City, while He was still her Tower of Salvation, and had not left her to the spoiler. There stood the double walls, the low-built, flat-roofed, windowless houses, like so many great square blocks, here and there interspersed with a few cypresses and aloes, the mighty Tower of David, the Cross of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and far above it, alas! the dome of the Mosque of Omar, with its marble gates and porphyry pillars, on the flat space on Mount Moriah, where the Temple had once flashed back the sunlight from its golden roof.

Jerusalem, enslaved and profaned, but Jerusalem still; the Holy City, the mountain whither all nations should turn to worship, the sacred name that had been spoken with reverence in every holiest lesson, the term of all the toils they had undergone. “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” cried the foremost ranks. Down fell on their knees—nay, even prostrate on their faces—each cross-bearing warrior, prince and knight, page and soldier. Some shouted for joy, some kissed the very ground as a sacred thing, some wept aloud at the thought of the sins they had brought with them, and the sight of the tokens of Zion’s captivity—the Dome and the Crescent. Then once more their war-cry rose as with one voice, and Mount Zion and Mount Olivet echoed it back to them, “Deus vult! Deus vult!” as to answer that the time was come.

But Jerusalem was only in sight—not yet won; and the Crusaders had much to suffer, encamped on the soil of iron, beneath the sky of brass, which is part of the doom of Judea. The vineyards, cornfields, and olive-trees of ancient times had given place to aridity and desolation; and the Christian host endured much from heat, thirst, and hunger, while their assaults on the walls were again and again repelled. They pressed forward their attacks as much as possible, since they could not long exist where they were.

Three great wooden towers were erected, consisting of different stages or stories, where the warriors stood, while they were wheeled up to the walls. Godfrey, Raymond, and Tancred each had the direction of one of these towers, and on the fourteenth of July the general assault began. The Turks, on their side, showered on them arrows, heavy stones, and Greek fire—an invention consisting of naphtha and other inflammable materials, which, when once ignited, could not be quenched by water, but only by vinegar. It was cast from hollow tubes, and penetrating the armor of the Christians, caused frightful agonies.

Raymond’s tower was broken down or burnt; Godfrey and Tancred fought on, almost overpowered, their warriors falling round them, the enemy shouting with joy and deriding them. At the moment when the Crusaders were all but giving way, a horseman was seen on the Mount of Olives, his radiant armor glittering in the sun, and raising on high a white shield marked with the red Cross. “St. George! St. George!” cried Godfrey’s soldiers; “the Saints fight for us! Deus vult! Deus vult!” and on they rushed again in an ecstasy of enthusiasm that nothing could resist. Some broke through a half-opened breach, some dashed from the wooden towers, some scaled the fortifications by their ladders, the crowd came over the walls like a flood, and swept all before them with the fury of that impulse.

There was a frightful slaughter; the Crusaders, brought up in a pitiless age, looked on the Saracens as devoted to the sword, like the Canaanite nations, and spared not woman or child. The streets streamed with blood, and the more merciful chieftains had not power to restrain the carnage. Raymond did indeed save those who had taken refuge in the Tower of David, and Tancred sent three hundred in the Mosque of Omar his own good pennon to protect them, but in vain; some of the other Crusaders massacred them, to his extreme indignation, as he declared his knightly word was compromised.

Godfrey had fought on as long as resistance lasted, then he threw himself from his horse, laid aside his helmet and gauntlets, bared his feet, and ascended the hill of Calvary. It was Friday, and the ninth hour of the day, when the Christian chief entered the circular-vaulted church, and descended, weeping at once for joy and for sorrow, into the subterranean crypt, lighted with silver lamps—the Holy Sepulchre itself, where his Lord had lain, and which he had delivered. Far from the sound of tumult and carnage, there he knelt in humility and thankfulness, and in time the rest of the chieftains gathered thither also—Tancred guided by the chant of the Greek Christians who had taken refuge in the church. Peter the Hermit sang mass at the altar, and thus night sunk down on Jerusalem and the victorious Christians.

The following days confirmed the conquest, and councils began to be held on the means of securing it. A King was to be elected, and it is said that the crown was offered to Robert of Normandy, and declined by him. Afterward, by universal consent, Godfrey de Bouillon was chosen to be King of Jerusalem.

He accepted the office, with all its toils and perils, but he would neither bear the title nor crown. He chose to leave the title of King of Jerusalem to Him to whom alone it belonged; he would not wear a crown of gold where that King had Worn a crown of thorns, and he kept only his knightly helmet, with the title of Defender and Baron of the Holy Sepulchre.

Well did he fulfil his trust, ever active, and meeting the infidels with increasing energy wherever they attacked him; but it was only for one year. The climate undermined his health; he fell sick of a fever, and died in July, 1100, just one year from the taking of Jerusalem. He lies buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, beneath a stone bearing these words: “Here lieth the victorious Duke Godfrey de Bouillon, who won all this land to the Christian faith. May whose soul reign with Christ.” His good sword is also still kept in the same church, and was long used to dub the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.





CAMEO XIV. THE ETHELING FAMILY. (1010-1159.)

  Kings of England.
   Knute and his sons.
   Edward.
   Harold.
   William I.
   William II.
   Henry I.

  Kings of France.
   Henry I.
   Philippe I.
   Louis VI.

When, in 1016, the stout-hearted Edmund Ironside was murdered by Edric Streona, he left two infant sons, Edmund and Edward, who fell into the power of Knute.

These children were placed, soon after, under the care of Olaf Scotkonung, King of Sweden, who had been an ally of their grandfather’s, and had sent to England to request that teachers of the Gospel might come to him. By these English clergy he had been baptized, and his country converted, so that they probably induced him to intercede with Knute for the orphan princes. Shortly after, a war broke out between Denmark and Sweden, and Olaf, believing, perhaps, that the boys were unsafe in the North, where Knute’s power was so great, transferred them to Buda, to the care of Stephen, King of Hungary.

It was a happy home for them. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, was a most noble character, a conqueror and founder of a kingdom, humble, devout, pious, and so charitable that he would go about in disguise, seeking for distressed persons. He was a great lawgiver, and drew up an admirable code, in which he was assisted by his equally excellent son Emeric, and was the first person who in any degree civilized the Magyar race. His son Emeric died before him, leaving no children; and, after three years of illness, Stephen himself expired in 1038. His name has ever since been held in high honor, and his arched crown, half-Roman, half-Byzantine, was to the Hungarians what St. Edward’s crown is to us. After Hungary was joined to the German Empire, there was still a separate coronation for it, and it was preserved in the castle of Buda, under a guard of sixty-four soldiers, until the rebellion of 1848, when it was stolen by the insurgents, and has never since been recovered.

After Stephen’s death, there was a civil war between the heathen Magyars and the Christians, ending in the victory of the latter, and the establishment of Andrew in the kingdom. This was in 1051, and it was probably the sister-in-law of this Andrew whom the Saxon prince Edward married. All we are told about her is, that her name was Agatha, and that she was learned and virtuous.

In 1058, Edward, the only survivor of the brothers, was invited by his cousin, the childless Confessor, to return to England, and there be owned as Etheling, or heir to the crown. He came, but after his forty years’ absence from his native country, his language, habits, and manners were so unlike those of the English, that he was always known by the name of Edward the Stranger.

After two years, both the Stranger and his wife Agatha died, leaving three young children, Christina, Margaret, and Edgar, of whom the boy was the youngest. His only inheritance, poor child, was his title of Etheling, declaring a claim which was likely to be his greatest peril. Edward the Confessor passed him entirely over in disposing of his kingdom; and as he was but six, or, as some say, ten years old, Harold seems to have feared no danger from him, but left him at liberty within the city of London.

There he remained while the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings were fought, and there, when the tidings came that the Normans had conquered, the little child was led forth, while a proclamation was made before him that Edgar was King of England. But it was only a few faithful citizens that thus upheld the young descendant of Alfred. Some were faint-hearted, others were ambitious; Edwin and Morkar said they would support him if the bishops would; the bishops declared that the Pope favored the Normans. The Conqueror was advancing, and from the walls of London the glare of flame might be seen, as he burnt the villages of Hertfordshire and Surrey, and soon the camp was set up without the walls, and the Conqueror lodging in King Edward’s own palace of Westminster. The lame Alderman Ansgard was carried in his litter to hold secret conference with him, and returned with promises of security for lives and liberties, if the citizens would admit and acknowledge King William. They dreaded the dangers of a seige, and gladly accepted his proposal, threw open their gates, and came forth in procession to Westminster to present him with the keys, basely carrying with them the helpless boy whom they had a few weeks before owned as their king.

Edgar was a fair child, of the old Saxon stamp of beauty, with flaxen hair and blue eyes; and the Duke of Normandy, harsh as he usually was, received him affectionately. Perhaps he thought of his own orphanhood at the same age, and the many perils through which he had been preserved, and pitied the boy deprived of his kingdom, without one faithful hand raised to protect him, and betrayed to his enemies. He took him in his arms, kissed him, promised him favors and kindness, and never broke the promise.

For the next two years Edgar remained at the court of William, until the general spirit of hatred of the Normans began to incite the Saxons to rise against them. Cospatric, Earl of Durham, thought it best to secure the safety of the royal children, and, secretly withdrawing Edgar and his two sisters from the court, he embarked with them for the Continent, intending to take them to their mother’s home in Hungary.

Contrary winds drove the ship to Scotland, and there the orphans were brought to King Malcolm III. Never had an apparent misfortune been in truth a greater blessing. Malcolm had but seven years before been himself a wandering exile, sheltered in the court of Edward the Confessor, after his father, the gracious Duncan, was murdered, and the usurper Macbeth on the throne. He had venerated the saintly Confessor, and remembered the untimely death of the Stranger, which had left these children friendless in what was to them a foreign land; and he owed his restoration to his throne to the Saxon army under old Siward Bjorn. Glad to repay his obligations, he conducted the poor wanderers to his castle of Dumfermline, treated them according to their rank, and promised to assert Edgar’s claim to the crown.

He accordingly advanced into England, where, in many places, partial risings were being made on behalf of “England’s darling,” as the Saxon ballads called young Edgar, after his ancestor Alfred. It was, however, all in vain: Malcolm did not arrive till the English had been defeated on the banks of the Tyne, and the Normans avenging their insurrection by such cruel devastation, that nine years after the commissioners of Domesday Book found no inhabitants nor cultivation to record between York and Durham.

There is some confusion in both the English and Scottish histories respecting Malcom’s exertions in Edgar’s cause; indeed, the Border warfare was always going on, and now and then the King took part in it. At length William and Malcolm, each at the head of an army, met in Galloway, and after standing at bay for some days, entered into a treaty. Malcolm paid homage to the English King for the two Lothians and Cumberland, and at the same time secured the safety of Edgar Etheling. The boy solemnly renounced all claim to the English crown, engaging never to molest the Conqueror or his children in their possession of it; while, on the other hand, he was endowed with estates in England, and a pension of a mark of silver a day was settled upon him. He could not at this time have been more than fourteen—there is more reason to think he was but ten years old—but the oath that he then took he kept with the most unshaken fidelity, in the midst of temptations, and of examples of successful perjury.

He returned with his friend to Scotland, where, the next year, his beautiful sister Margaret consented to become the wife of their host, the King Malcolm; but Christina, the other sister, preferred a conventual life, though she seems for the present to have continued with Margaret at Dumfermline.

Gentle Margaret, bred in some quiet English convent; taught by her mother to remember the Greek cultivation and holy learning of good King Stephen’s court; perhaps blessed by the tender hand of pious Edward the Confessor, and trained by the sweet rose, Edith, sprung from the thorn, Godwin; she must have felt desolate and astray among the rude, savage Scots, wild chiefs of clans, owning no law, full of brawling crime and violence, too strong to be kept in order by force, and their wives almost as untamed and rude as themselves. Her husband was a rough, untutored warrior, ruling by the main force of a strong hand, and asking counsel of his own honest heart and ready wit, but perfectly ignorant, and probably uncouth in his appearance, as his appellation of Cean Mohr means Great-head.

But Margaret was a true daughter of Alfred, and the traditions of the Alfred of Hungary were fresh upon her, and, instead of sitting down to cower alarmed amid the turmoils round her, she set herself to conquer the evils in her own feminine way, by her performance of her queenly duties. She was happy in her husband: Malcolm revered her saintly purity even more than he loved her sweet, sunny, cheerful manner, or admired her surpassing loveliness of person. He looked on her as something too precious and tender for his wild, rugged court, and attended to her slightest bidding with reverence, kissing her holy books which he could not read, and interpreting her Saxon-spoken advice to his rude Celts. She even made him help her to wash the feet of the poor, and aid her in disgusting offices to the diseased, and his royal treasury was open to her to take all that she desired for alms. Sometimes she would pretend to take it by stealth, and Malcolm would catch her by the wrists and carry her to her confessor, to ask if she was not a little thief who deserved to be well punished. In his turn he would steal away her books, and bring them back after a time, gilt and adorned with beautiful illuminations.

The love and reverence with which so bold a warrior treated her, together with her own grace and dignity, had its effect on the unruly Scottish chieftains, and not one of them ventured to use a profane word, or make an unseemly jest before her. They had a rude, ungodly practice of starting away from table without waiting for grace, and this the gentle queen reformed by sending, as an especial gift from herself, a cup of wine to all who remained. In after times the last cup was called, after her, St. Margaret’s cup, or the grace-cup.

To improve the manners of the ladies, she gathered round her a number of young girls, whom she brought up under her own eye, and she used to sit in the midst of them, embroidering rich vestments for the service of the Church, and permitting cheerful talk with the nobles whom she admitted—all men of whose character she had a good opinion. She endeavored to reform the Scottish Church which had become very sluggish, and did little to contend with Highland savagery. There were only three Bishops and those not with fixed sees. Margaret and her husband convened a synod, when Margaret herself explained her views, and Malcolm interpreted. It was not a usual order of things, but to themselves quite satisfactory, and thenceforth the Scottish Church became assimilated to the rest of the Western communion. It was a Saxon immigration: the Lowlands became more English than England then was, and Scotch is still more like Saxon than the tongue we speak. But the Celts bitterly hated the change; and thenceforth the land was divided.

She was gay and playful; but her fasts and mortifications in secret were very great. She cut off unnecessary food and sleep, and spent half the night in prayer. She daily washed the feet of six poor people, and washed, clothed, and fed nine orphan babes, besides relieving all who came to ask her bounty, attending to the sick, and sending to ransom captives, especially her own countrymen the English, lodging her rescued prisoners in a hospital which she had founded, till they could be sent to their own homes.

Leading this happy and holy life, Edgar left his sister about two years after her marriage, upon an invitation from Philippe I. of France; but he was shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, and coming to Rouen, was kindly received by William, and remained with him. A close friendship sprung up between the disinherited Etheling and Robert the heir of Normandy, who was only a year or two older. Both were brave, open-hearted, and generous, and their love for each other endured, on Edgar’s side, through many a trial and trouble. Happy would it have been for Robert had all his friends been like Edgar Adeling, as the Normans called him. A few years more made Edgar a fine young man, expert in the exercises of chivalry, and full of the spirit of enterprise: but he did not join his friend in rebellion against his father; and after Robert had quitted Rouen, never to return thither in his father’s lifetime, he obtained permission from William to go on pilgrimage, gave his pension for a fine horse, and set off for Italy with two hundred knights, fought there, or in Sicily, against the Saracens, for some time, and then continued his pilgrimage.

He returned through Constantinople, where many of the English fugitives were serving in the Varangian guard. The Emperor Alexius Comnenus was much pleased with him, and offered him high preferment if he would remain with him; but Edgar loved his own country too well, and proceeded homeward.

He found a changed state of affairs on his arrival in Normandy. William the Conqueror was dead, and Robert, with the aid of Henry Beauclerc, just preparing to assert his right to the English crown against Red William. Edgar Etheling offered his sword to assist his friend; but he was shamefully treated. William came to Normandy, sought a conference with Robert, cajoled or outwitted him into a treaty in which one of the conditions was that he should withdraw his protection from both Edgar and Henry, and deprive the former of all the lands in Normandy which their father had given him.

Edgar retired to Scotland to his sister Margaret, whom he found the mother of nine children, continuing the same peaceful, active life in which he had left her, and her holy influence telling more and more upon her court. Many Saxons had come to live in the lowlands of Scotland, and the habits and manners of the court of Dumfermline were being fast modelled on those of Westminster in the time of Edward and Edith.

Malcolm and William Rufus were at war, and Edgar accompanied his brother-in-law to the banks of the Tyne, where they were met by William and Robert. No battle took place; but Edgar and Robert, meeting on behalf of the two kings, arranged a treaty of peace. In return for this service, William permitted Edgar to return to England, being perhaps persuaded by Robert and Malcolm that the English prince was a man of his word, though to his own hindrance.

The peace, thus effected did not last long, most unhappily for Scotland. Malcolm, with his two eldest sons, Edward and Edmund, invaded England, and laid siege to Alnwick Castle, leaving the Queen at Edinburgh, seriously ill. At Alnwick the Scottish army was routed, and Malcolm and Edward were slain. The tradition is, that one of the garrison pretended to surrender the castle, by giving the keys, through a window, on the point of a lance; [Footnote: Curiously in accordance with this story we find, in the Bayeux tapestry, the surrender of Dinan represented by the delivery of the keys in this manner to William the Conqueror.] but that he treacherously thrust the weapon into the eye of Malcolm, and thus killed him. The story adds that thus the soldier acquired the name of Pierce-eye, or Percy; which is evidently incorrect, since the Percys of Alnwick trace their origin to William de Albini, who married Henry Beauclerc’s second queen, Alice of Louvain.

An instant disturbance prevailed on the King’s death. His army fled in dismay; his corpse was left on the ground, till a peasant carried it to Tynemouth; his men were dispersed, slain, or drowned in their flight; his young son Edmund, a stripling of eighteen or nineteen, just contrived to escape to Edinburgh Castle. The first tidings that met him there were, that his mother was dying; that she lay on her bed in great anxiety for her husband and sons, and finding no solace except in holding a fragment of the true Cross pressed to her lips, and repeating the fifty-first Psalm.

The poor youth, escaped from a lost battle, and bearing such dreadful tidings, was led to her presence at once.

“How fares it with your father and brother?” said she.

He feared to tell her all, and tried to answer, “Well;” but she perceived how it was too plainly, and holding out the Holy Cross, commanded him to speak the truth. “They are slain, mother—both slain!”

Margaret’s thoughts must have rushed back to the twenty-three years of uninterrupted affection she had enjoyed with her lord, to her gallant son, slain in his first battle, and onward to the unprotected state of the seven orphans she left in the wild kingdom. Agony indeed it was; but she blessed Him who sent it. “All praise be to Thee, everlasting God, who hast made me to suffer such anguish in my death.”

She lingered on a few hours longer, while storms raged around. The wild Celts hated Malcolm’s improvements and Saxon arts of peace, and his brother Donald was placing himself at their head to deprive his lawful brothers of their heritage. A troop of Highlanders were on their way to besiege Edinburgh Castle, even when the holy Queen drew her last breath; and her friends had barely time to admire the sweet peacefulness that had spread over her wasted features, before they were forced to carry her remains away in haste and secrecy, attended by her weeping, trembling children, to Dumfermline Abbey, where she was buried.

Her children, seven in number (for Ethelred, the eldest, had died in infancy), were left unprotected. Edmund was only eighteen, and timid and gentle. Donald seized the crown; and the orphans remained in great danger, till their brave uncle, Edgar Etheling, learnt the fatal tidings, and, coming from England, fetched them all home with him, giving the two girls, Edith and Mary, into the care of their aunt Christina, who was now Abbess of Wilton. It was at some danger to himself that he took the desolate children under his protection. A man named Orgar accused him to William Rufus of intending to raise his nephews to the English crown. A knight, named Goodwin, no doubt of Saxon blood, no sooner heard the aspersion, than he answered by avowing the honor and faithfulness of his Etheling, threw down his glove, and defied Orgar to single combat—“God show the right.” It was shown; Orgar fell, and Saxons and Normans both rejoiced, for the Etheling had made himself much beloved.

The Crusade was preached, and Robert invited Edgar to join in it; but he could not forsake the charge of his sister’s children, and was forced to remain at home. Revolutions, however, continued in Scotland. Donald was overthrown by Duncan, a son of Malcolm, born long before his marriage; and the Lowland Scots were impatient of the return to barbarism. Duncan was killed, and Donald restored. Edgar hoped that his nephews might be restored. Edmund had chosen to renounce the throne and embrace a religious life; but the next in age, Edgar and Alexander, were spirited princes, and eager to assert their right.

The Etheling had never shed blood to regain his own lost kingdom; but he was a true knight-errant and redresser of wrongs. He asked leave from William to raise a Saxon army to restore his nephew to the Scottish throne; and such was the reliance that even the scoffer William had learnt to place on his word, that it was granted. The English flocked with joy round their “darling,” wishing, without doubt, that it was for the restoration of the Saxon, instead of the Scottish Edgar, that they took up arms.

At Durham the monks of St. Cuthbert intrusted to the Etheling their sacred standard—a curious two-winged ensign, with a cross, that was carried on a car. It was believed always to bring victory, and at the first sight of it Donald’s men abandoned him, and went over to Edgar. Donald was made prisoner, and soon after died. Young Edgar assumed the crown, sent for the rest of his family, and had a happy and prosperous reign.

Had Edgar Etheling been selfish and ambitious, he might now, at the head of his victorious Saxons, have had a fair chance of dethroning the tyrant William; but instead of this, his thoughts were fixed on the Holy Land; and embarking with his willing army, he came up with the Crusaders just in time for the siege of Jerusalem, where the English, under “Edgar Adeling,” fought gallantly in the assault in the portion of the army assigned to Robert of Normandy.

Edgar and Robert returned together, and visited the Normans of Apulia, where Edgar had been some years before. Robert here fell in love with Sybilla, the beautiful daughter of the Count of Conversana, and soon after married her. It was in the midst of the wedding festivities that Ralph Flambard, lately the wicked minister of William Rufus, arrived from England, having escaped from prison, bringing the news that his master, the Red King, was slain, and Henry Beauclerc wore the crown. The hasty wrath of Duke Robert was quickly fanned by Ralph Flambard, and he set off at once to attack his brother, and gain the kingdom which Henry had sworn should be his.

However, on his arrival, he at first only amused himself with conducting his bride through his dukedom, and being feasted at every castle. When two knights of Maine came to tell him that Helie de la Flèche was besieging their castles, he carelessly thanked them for their fidelity, but told them he had rather gain a kingdom, than a county, and so that they should make the best terms they could.

Sybilla’s dowry enabled Robert to raise a considerable army, and he had likewise the support of most of the barons whose estates lay both in Normandy and England, and who therefore preferred that the two states should be united; whereas those who had only domains in England held with Henry, wishing to be free from the elder and more powerful nobility of Normandy. The Anglo-Saxons were for Henry, who had relieved them from some of their sufferings, and had won their favor by his marriage, which connected him with the Etheling. Edith, the eldest daughter of the good Queen Margaret, had remained with her aunt Christina in the Abbey of Wilton, after her brother had been made King of Scotland. She was like her mother in many respects; and her aunt wished to devote her to the cloister, and secure her from the cruel sorrows her mother had endured, under the black veil that she already wore, like the professed nuns, to shield her from the insults of the Norman knights, or their attempts to secure a princess as a bride. But Edith remembered that her father had once said that he destined her to be a queen, and not a nun. She recollected how her mother had moulded her court, and been loved and honored there, and her temper rebelled against the secluded life in the convent, so much that, in a girlish fit of impatience, she would, when her aunt was out of sight, tear off her veil and trample upon it.

At length the tidings came that Henry, the new King of England, wooed the Princess of Scotland for his bride.

A marriage of policy it evidently was; for, unlike the generous love that had caused Malcolm to espouse the friendless exile Margaret, Henry was a perjured usurper, and dark stories were told of his conduct in Normandy. Christina strongly and vehemently opposed the marriage, as the greatest calamity that could befall her niece: she predicted that, if Edith persisted in it, only misery could arise from it; and when she found her determined, tried to prove her to be already bound by the promises of a nun.

Here Christina went too far: a court was held by Archbishop Anselm, and it was fully proved that the Lady Edith was under no vows. She was declared free to marry, and in a short time became the wife of Henry, changing her own Saxon name to the Norman Matilda, or Maude. In the first year of her marriage, when Henry was anxious to win the favor of the English, he conformed so much to their ways that the scornful Normans used to call him and his young wife by the Saxon names of Godric and Godiva. The Saxons thus were willing to stand by King Henry, all excepting the sailors, who were won by Robert’s spirit of enterprise, and deserting, with their whole fleet, went to Normandy, and brought Robert and his army safe to Portsmouth.

This happened just as Edith Maude had given birth to her first child, at Winchester. Robert was urged to assault the city; but he refrained, declaring such would be an unknightly action toward his sister-in-law and her babe. Henry soon came up with his forces, the brothers held a conference, and, as usual, Robert was persuaded to give up his rights, and to make peace.

For the next four years Robert continued in Normandy, leading a gay and careless life at first with his beautiful Sybilla; but she soon died, leaving an infant son, and thenceforward his affairs grew worse and worse, as he followed only the impulse of the moment. From riot and drunkenness he fell into fits of devotion, fasting, weeping, and praying; his poverty so great that he was at one time obliged to lie in bed for want of garments to wear; and his dukedom entirely uncared for, fields left uncultivated, and castles which were dens of robbers.

The Normans begged that some measures might be taken for their relief, and King Henry came, and, with Robert’s consent, set things on a better footing; but meanwhile he was secretly making arrangements with the barons for the overthrow of his brother. In two years’ time he had tempted over almost every baron to desert the cause of their master, and in 1106 prepared to wrest the dukedom from him. The unfortunate Robert came to him at Northampton, almost alone, forced himself into his presence, and told him he would submit everything to him, if he would only leave him the state and honor due to his birth. Henry turned his back on him, muttering some answer which Robert could not hear, and which he would not repeat. In a passion, Robert reproached him with his ill faith and cruel, grasping temper, left him hastily, and returned to Rouen, to make a last sad struggle for his inheritance.

He placed his child in the Castle of Falaise, obtaining a promise from the garrison that they would give up their trust to no summons but his own, or that of a trusty knight called William de Ferrières. Hardly a vassal would rally round him in his dire distress; his only supporters were two outlawed barons, whom Henry had driven out of England for their violence, and besides these there were two faithful friends of his youth, whose swords had always been ready in his cause, except in the unhappy war against his father. One was Helie de St. Saen, the other was Edgar Etheling, who quitted his peaceful home, and all the favor he enjoyed in England as uncle to the Queen, to bear arms for his despoiled and injured friend.

Henry invaded Normandy, and all the nobles came over to his side. Robert met him before the Castle of Tenchebray, and the two armies prepared for battle the next day. In the evening a hermit came to the English camp; his head strewn with ashes, and a cord about his waist. He conjured Henry to cease from his unnatural war with a brother who had been a soldier of the Cross, “his brow still shining with traces of the crown of Jerusalem,” and prevailed so far as to gain permission to go and propose terms of peace to the Duke of Normandy. On coming into his presence, the hermit begged to kiss the feet which had trodden the pavement of the Holy Sepulchre, and then exhorted Robert to be contented with the kingdom reserved for him in heaven. He declared Henry’s terms very hard ones; but the Duke would have accepted them, but that he was required to own himself vanquished; and against this his haughty spirit revolted. He cast aside all offers of accommodation, and prepared for battle.

The fight of Tenchebray took place on St. Michael’s Eve, 1106, the day forty years since the Battle of Hastings; and when the Saxons in Henry’s army turned Robert’s Normans to flight, they rejoiced as if they were wiping out the memory of the defeat of Harold. Yet in the vanquished army was their own Etheling, the darling of England, who was made prisoner together with the unfortunate Robert, and led before Henry. It was the last battle in which the two friends fought side by side; the disinherited prince had fought for the son of the despoiler for the last time, and soon they were to part, to spend the many remaining years of their lives in a far different manner.

Robert was made to summon the surrender of Rouen, and Ferrières was sent to receive Falaise, and the little William, heir of Normandy; but the faithful garrison would not yield till Henry had conducted thither the Duke himself, who called on them to surrender, lest the castle should be taken by the wicked outlaw De Belesme. Little William was brought to the King, and his tears and caresses for a moment touched Henry’s heart so far that he gave the child into the charge of Helie de St. Saen, Robert’s faithful friend, and husband of his illegitimate daughter.

It was the last time Robert of Normandy saw the face of his only child. The boy went to Arques with the faithful Helie, while Robert was sent to England, and imprisoned in Cardiff Castle. At first he was honorably treated, and allowed to indulge in hunting and other amusements; but he made an attempt to escape, and was only recaptured in consequence of his horse having plunged into a bog, whence he could not extricate himself. After this he was more closely guarded, and it is said that his eyes were put out; but there is reason to hope that this may not be true. He was under the charge of Robert, an illegitimate son of Henry, who had married Amabel Fitzaymon, heiress of Gloucester, and who was a noble, high-minded, chivalrous person, likely to do all in his power to cheer his uncle’s captivity.

Here Robert from time to time heard of his son: first, how Henry had sent messengers to seize him when St. Saen was absent from Arques; but happily they came on a Sunday morning, when the child was at church, and the servants, warned in time, carried him off to meet their brave master. Then Helie chose to forfeit lands and castle rather than give up his trust, and conducted his little brother-in-law from court to court, wherever he could hope for security, till young William was grown up, and raised an army, with the aid of Louis of France and Foulques of Anjou, to recover his inheritance and rescue his father. But Foulques was detached from the alliance by the betrothal of his daughter to Henry’s son William, and the battle of Brenville ruined the hopes of William of Normandy. Next, Robert learnt that the male line of the Counts of Flanders had failed, and his son, as the representative of Matilda, the Conqueror’s wife, had been owned as the heir of that rich country. Shortly after, the captive Duke was one morning found weeping. He had had a dream, he said, in which he had seen his son dying of a wound in the hand. The tidings came in due time that William had been accidentally pierced by the point of a lance in the hand, the wound had mortified, and he expired at the end of a week. The prisoner still lived on, till, in the twenty-eighth year of his captivity, death at length released him. There is a story of his having starved himself to death in a fit of anger, because Henry had sent him a robe after wearing it once; but this is very improbable. Robert had reached a great age, and his was a character which was likely to be much improved when absent from temptation and with time for thought. He lies buried in Gloucester Cathedral, under an effigy carved in bog oak, with the legs crossed, in memory of his crusade, but unfortunately painted in such a manner as to entirely to spoil its effect.

Edgar Etheling was soon allowed to ransom himself, and retiring to his own estates, lived there in peace. His niece, the good Queen Maude, lived on in the English Court, trying to imitate her mother in her charities, and being, like her, much beloved by the poor, to whose wants she ministered with her own hands; while her youngest brother David, then a gay-tempered youth, used to laugh at her for such mean toils, as he called them. No help, such as her father had given St. Margaret, did Maude receive from her husband; she had only the pain of watching his harshness, cruelty, and hypocrisy, during the eighteen years of her marriage. She died in 1118, leaving three children—Maude, already married to the Emperor of Germany, and William and Richard. William Etheling is reported to have been as proud as his sister Maude, and to have talked of using the churl Saxons as beasts of burden. But there are stories more in his favor. He seemed generously disposed toward his cousin, the son of Robert; and he met his death in an attempt to save life, so that it may be hoped that he was not entirely unworthy of the good old name of Etheling, which he bore as heir to the throne.

Our Etheling Edgar lived on in peace through all the troublous times of Stephen, without again appearing in history, till his death is noted in 1159, ninety-three years after the Norman Conquest.

It has been the fashion to call him a fool and a coward; and no doubt the ambitious men who broke oath after oath, and scrupled at no violence, so esteemed one whose right was the inheritance over which they quarrelled. Whether he was a fool, may be answered by showing that, after he was fourteen, his name was never once brought forward by factious men for their own purposes; that he conducted a treaty with Scotland, and restored his nephew to the throne: and whether he was a coward, no one can ask who has heard of him hastening to attack the Saracens of Apulia, invading warlike Scotland, leading the English to scale the walls of Jerusalem, and, lastly, fighting in a cause that could only be desperate, in a battle that must be lost, where he had no personal interest, and only came to aid a distressed and injured friend. No one can inquire into the history of the last of the race of Alfred without acknowledging in him one of the most perfect examples of true chivalry, in inviolate adherence to his word, and in redressing of grievances, for which his good sword was ever ready, though for his own rights it was never drawn, nor was one drop of English blood shed that Edgar Etheling might reign.





CAMEO XV. THE COUNTS OF ANJOU. (888-1142.)

Having traced the ancestry of our Norman kings from the rocks of Norway and the plains of Neustria, let us, before entering on the new race which succeeded them, turn back to the woodland birthplace of the house of Plantagenet, on the banks of the Loire.

The first ancestor to whom this branch of our royal line can be traced is Torquatus, a native of Rennes in Brittany, and keeper of the forest of Nid de Merle in Anjou, for the Emperor Charles the Bald. Of Roman Gallic blood, and of honest, faithful temper, he was more trusted by his sovereign than the fierce Frank warriors, who scarcely owned their prince to be their superior; and in after times the counts and kings his descendants were proud of deriving their lineage from the stout Woodman of the Blackbird’s Nest.

His son Tertullus distinguished himself in battle, and died early, leaving an only son, named Ingelger, who was godson to the Countess de Gastinois, and was brought up in her castle, the school of chivalry and “courtoisie” to the young vassals of the county.

The lady was heiress of Gastinois in her own right, and as the monarch had the power of disposing of his wards in marriage, she had been obliged to give her hand to the seneschal of Charles the Bald, a person whom she much disliked. One morning her husband was found dead in his bed; and his nearest relation, whose name was Gontran, accusing her of having murdered him, laid claim to her whole inheritance.

The cause was brought before Charles the Bald, at Chateau Landon; and Gontran offered to prove his words by the ordeal of battle, taking off his gauntlet and throwing it down before the Emperor. Unless the countess could find a champion to maintain her innocence, or unless Gontran was overthrown in single combat, she would be completely ruined, adjudged a murderess, and forced to hide her disgrace in a convent. None of the knights present would undertake her cause; and after gazing round at them in despair, she fainted away.

Her godson Ingelger, who attended her as a page, could not bear the sight of her distress, and, as a last hope, threw himself on his knees before the Emperor, entreating that, though he was only sixteen, and in the last grade of chivalry, he might be allowed to take up the gauntlet, and assert the innocence of his godmother.

Permission was granted; and Ingelger, trusting to the goodness of his cause, spent the night in prayer, went in early morning with the countess to hear mass, and afterward joined her in giving alms to the poor; then she hung a reliquary round his neck, and sent him to arm for the decisive combat.

The whole court were spectators; the Emperor Charles on his throne, and the accused widow in a litter curtained with black. Prayers were offered that God would show the right; the trumpets sounded, and the champions rode in full career against each other. At the first onset Gontran’s lance pierced his adversary’s shield, so that he could not disengage it, and Ingelger was thus enabled to close with him, hurl him to the ground, and dispatch turn with a dagger. Then, while the lists rung with applause, the brave boy rushed up to his godmother, and threw himself into her arms in a transport of joy.

The countess, thus cleared, only desired to retire from the world, and besought the Emperor’s consent to her bestowing all her lands on her young defender. It was readily granted; and shortly after Charles gave him, in addition, the government of the city of Angers, and the adjoining county of Anjou, whence he derives his title. [Footnote: Many similar tales of championship will occur to every one, in romance and ballad. The Ginevra of Ariosto, our own beautiful English ballad of Sir Aldingar, where it is an angel in the form of a “tinye boy,” who appears to vindicate the good fame of the slandered and desolate queen, the “Sir Hugh le Blond of Arbuthnot, in Scotland.” Perhaps this story may be the root of all the rest. It is recorded in the “Gesta Andegavorum,” in the compilation of which a descendant of Ingelger had a considerable share.]

Little more is known of the first Count of Anjou, except that he bravely resisted the Northern pirates; and for his defence of the clergy of St. Martin of Tours was rewarded by a canonry, and the charge of the treasure of the chapter. He died in 888, and was succeeded by his son Count Foulques le Roux, or the Red. From this time the house of Anjou began to acquire that character of violence, ambition, and turbulence, which distinguished the whole family, till, six hundred years after, the last of the race shed her blood on the scaffold of the Tower of London. It therefore seems appropriate here to give the strange, wild story to which they were wont to attribute their family temper, though it is generally told of one who came later in the line. It was said that the count observed that his wife seldom went to church, and never at the celebration of mass; and believing that she had some unholy dealings to cause this reluctance, he put her to the proof, by causing her to be forcibly held throughout the service by four knights. At the moment of consecration, however, the knights found the mantle alone in their hands; the lady had flown through the window, leaving nothing behind her but the robe, and a fearful smell of brimstone!

From the witch-countess, as she was called, her sons were thought to derive the wild energy and fierce mutual hatred which raged for so many centuries, and at last caused the extinction of the line. Foulques le Roux was certainly not exempt, for he was believed to be the murderer of his own brother. His eldest son, Geoffrey, called the Beloved of Ladies, died before him; and Foulques, who succeeded him, though termed “le bon,” had little claim to such a title, unless it was derived from his love of learning and his friendship with the monks of Tours.

He composed several Latin hymns for the use of the Cathedral, and always took part in the service on high festivals in his canonical dress, as hereditary treasurer.

Once, when King Louis IV. was present, he and his courtiers irreverently amused themselves during the service by making jests on the clerical count. A few days after, Louis received the following letter:

  “The Count of Anjou to the King of France. Hail. Learn, my liege
  Lord, that an unlettered King is no better than a donkey with
                                                      a crown on.”
 

In spite of his devotion, to St. Martin, Foulques sacrilegiously robbed the treasury of two golden vessels, and did not restore them till a severe illness brought him to the point of death. The Bretons accuse him of a horrible crime. He married the widow of Duke Alan barbe torte, who brought with her to Angers her infant son, the little Duke Drogo. The child died, and the Bretons believed that, for the sake of retaining the treasure brought by his subjects, his stepfather had murdered him, by pouring boiling water on his head while his body was in a cold bath, so that, the two streams mingling, it might appear that he had been only placed in tepid water.

However this might be, a war broke out between the Angevins and Bretons, and there was bitter hatred between the two races, which is scarcely yet at an end. Indeed, an Angevin Count could hardly in these days be a peaceable man, bordering on such neighbors as Brittany, Normandy, and Poitou. The Angevins were much more French than any of these neighbors; and their domain being smaller, they generally held by the King. They were his hereditary grand seneschals, carving before him on great occasions; and Geoffrey Grise gonnelle, who succeeded Foulques le Bon in 958, was on the side of the crown in all the war with Richard the Fearless of Normandy. His ogre-like surname of Grise gonnelle simply means gray gown, and is ascribed by the chronicle of Anjou to the following chivalrous adventure:

In the course of the war with Normandy, when Harald Bluetooth’s Norwegians were ravaging France, and were encamped before the walls of Paris, a gigantic Berserk daily advanced to the gate of the city, challenging the French knights to single combat. Several who accepted it fell by his hand; and King Lothaire forbade any further attempts to attack him. Count Geoffrey was at this time collecting his vassals to come to the King’s assistance; and no sooner did he hear of the defiance of the Northman, than, carried away by the spirit of knight-errantry, he bade his forces wait for him at Chateau Landon; and, without divulging his purpose, rode off, with only three attendants, to seek the encounter. He came to the bank of the Seine in early morning, caused a miller to ferry him and his horse across the river, leaving his squires on the other side, and reached the open space before the walls in time to hear and answer the Northman’s daily challenge. The duel ended in the death of the giant, and was witnessed by the French on the walls; but they did not recognize their champion, and before they could come down to open the gates, and thank him, he was gone. He had cut off the enemy’s head, and, bidding the miller carry it to the King, crossed the Seine again, met his squires at the mill, and rejoined his vassals at Landon, without letting any one know what had happened.

Lothaire was very anxious to know who the champion was; but all the miller could tell him was, that it had been a man of short stature, and slight, active figure, a capital horseman, whom he was sure he should know again anywhere. In due time the nobles collected with their troops, and Geoffrey among them. When they were in full assembly, Lothaire introduced the miller, bidding him say whether the knight-errant was present. The man fixed his eyes on the Count of Anjou, who wore a cassock of coarse gray wool over his armor. “Yes,” he said, “‘tis he—à la grise gonnelle.”

It is also said that Geoffrey took his name from his frequent pilgrimages to Rome, in which he wore the gray “palmer’s amice.” He was a favorable specimen of the Angevin character, the knight-errant element predominating over its other points, and rendering him honorable and devout, and not more turbulent than could be helped by a feudal chief of the tenth century. He died near Saumur, while besieging the castle of a refractory vassal, in the year 987.

His son Foulques was surnamed Nerra, an old form of Le Noir, or The Black. The name was derived from his complexion; but he merited it by his disposition, for he was the most wicked of all the counts of Anjou. He was very able, and, though little in stature, and lame, usually made his wars turn out much to his advantage. In personal prowess he by no means equalled his father; indeed, there was a Danish warrior, who guarded the town of Saumur for the Count de Blois, that he dreaded so much as always to gallop at full speed through the neighborhood, whenever he was obliged to pass that way. However, he was not backward to risk his person on occasion, and in a battle with the Count de Blois at Amboise was severely wounded, his standard taken, and his troops forced to retreat, when his vassal, the alert Herbert Eveille chiens, of Mans, came up with fresh troops, fell on the men of Blois as they were bathing and resting after the battle, cried the Angevin war-cry, “Rallie! rallie!” [Footnote: “Go at then again!” evidently the origin of “to rally.”] and taking them by surprise, turned the fortune of the day. This victory extended Foulques’ domain to the bank of the Loire, and enabled him to lay siege to Saumur. The citizens were too few to defend both gates, and, by the advice of the monks of St. Florent, resolved to commit the defence of one to the relics of St. Doucelin, which had the reputation of working miracles. The reliquary was placed full before the eastern gate, in the hope that either the Augevins would be afraid to break through, or that some evil consequence might ensue on their attempting it, and the Saumurois went to protect their western gate. However, Foulques Nerra seldom let scruples interfere, and marched in without regard to the saint. He was very cruel to his prisoners, and with his own hand thrust out the eye of one who reproached him with his unworthy treatment. He built new walls round Saumur, for which he was obliged to destroy some buildings belonging to the monastery of St. Florent, and as he set fire to them with his own hand, he called out to the saint to beg his pardon, swearing to build him a much finer house.

It was the practice of Foulques Nerra to commit frightful crimes, and then to expect to atone for them by vehemence in penance and devotion. He was recklessly barbarous in his wars, and a cruel tyrant to his people, filling his castle with miserable prisoners. He married a lady named Hildegarde, a pious and gentle dame, whose influence had some effect in calming his fierce passions and lessening his cruelty; but their son Geoffrey Martel was as wild and violent as himself, though with more generosity. A quarrel broke out, Geoffrey rebelled, was conquered, and his father obliged him to come and ask pardon, crawling on all fours, with a saddle on his back.

“So, sir, you’re tamed!” said the count, putting his foot on his neck.

“True! but by no one but my father,” the proud youth made answer. And Foulques was so pleased, that he took him into favor again.

Foulques Nerra was a great founder of churches and convents, and made no less than four pilgrimages to the Holy Land, in the third of which he travelled part of the way with another ancestor of our kings, Robert the Magnificent of Normandy. In the last, his penance exceeded all that had yet been seen at Jerusalem. He stripped himself to his waist, and went barefoot to the Holy Sepulchre, followed by two servants, whom he obliged to beat him with rods, while at each step he exclaimed, “O Lord, have pity on the wretched, perjured traitor Foulques!”

Such violent penances are repugnant to all our ideas, and if these rude warriors believed that by them their crimes could be atoned, they were grievously mistaken: but at the same time it must be remembered that they were intended as tokens of repentance; and that, as we have seen in the humiliation of the rebellious son of the count himself, it was the fashion to punish the body, because the mind was too little cultivated to be alone addressed.

Foulques III. died at Metz, in the course of his return from this pilgrimage, in the year 1039. His son Geoffrey, called Martel, or the Hammer, was a great warrior. William the Conqueror was his chief enemy, and the curious challenge that once passed between them has been related. Indeed, Henry I. of France, who was in dread of both, promoted their quarrels by making a grant to William of all that he might be able to win from Anjou; and the Angevins had given bitter offence to the Duke of Normandy when he was besieging the town of Hambrières, by hanging up hides over the walls, and shouting, “A la pel! à la pel!” (The hide! the hide!) in allusion to his mother being the daughter of a tanner.

Their chief dispute was about the county of Maine—a name of evil omen to their descendants. The only daughter of Count Herbert Eveille chiens (Wake-dog) was betrothed to Robert Courtheuse; and though she died before the marriage took place, William claimed the county for his son on Herbert’s death. Geoffrey, who was the feudal lord of Maine, took the part of the next heir, and invaded Normandy. On the river Dive, Geoffrey, with his chief followers, was imprudent enough to cross by a narrow bridge, leaving the main body of the troops on the other side, where they were attacked by William. The bridge gave way, and the Angevin army was destroyed in the sight of its lord.

This disaster broke the spirit of Geoffrey Martel. He was still a young man, but he was worn out with disappointment. He had been twice married—the second time to a very learned lady, named Grecia, who is famous for having bought a book of homilies for two hundred sheep, twelve measures of cheese, as much barley and millet, besides eight marks of silver and some marten skins. Neither wife brought him any children: and at Whitsuntide, 1060, he sent for his two nephews, the sons of his sister Ermengarde, and divided his lands between them; giving Touraine and Landon to the eldest, Geoffrey the Bearded, and Anjou to Foulques, called Le Réchin, or The Quarrelsome, then only seventeen, whom he knighted. He died the next Martinmas, in the robes of a monk; and thenceforth Foulques proved his right to his surname by his perpetual wars and disputes with his brother. Geoffrey le Barbu is famed for nothing but his misfortunes, and for a curious suit which he had with the monks of St. Florent respecting some woods on the banks of the Loire, which they declared to have been granted them by Foulques Nerra. They brought witnesses to support their claim, as they had no title-deeds; and Geoffrey agreed to have recourse to the judgment of Heaven, as a proof whether the testimony was true or false. The ordeal was to be by hot water. A great fire was lighted in the Church of St. Maurice, at St. Angers, and a cauldron of water placed on it, into which was plunged an old forester who had borne witness for the convent. Without appearing to suffer inconvenience from the heat, he repeated what he had formerly said and Geoffrey was obliged to abide by the result of the ordeal. The monks proceeded to cut down the woods, and supplied their place by the vineyards which have ever since been the pride of the Loire.

The strife respecting lay investiture was the ruin of the bearded Geoffrey; he claimed the investiture of the Abbot of Marmoutiers as a temporal baron, and thus caused himself to be excommunicated. His vassals fell from him and he became an easy prey to his brother Foulques, who threw him into the castle of Chinon, and kept him prisoner for thirty years.

Foulques IV., le Réchin, was a scholar, and wrote a Latin history of Anjou, of which, however, only a fragment is preserved. He was as wicked as most of the race, fierce, violent, and voluptuous. He was no longer a young man, and had been twice married and once divorced (one tradition says that he was the husband of the demon-countess), when, in 1089, he cast his eyes on the beautiful young Bertrade, daughter of the Count de Montfort, and promised Duke Robert of Normandy to make over to him the county of Maine, if he would use his influence with her parents to obtain her for him.

The Count de Montfort would not give up his daughter to the wicked old Angevin, till Robert, in his usual weak, good-natured fashion, had yielded up a number of his own frontier castles as her purchase. Foulques did indeed put Maine into his hands; but he did not keep it long, for Helie de la Flèche set up his claim, and maintained it as we have seen. Nor did Foulques gain much by his bargain; for Bertrade had no perfection but her beauty, and, in the fourth year of her marriage, abandoned him and her infant son, and went to the court of Philippe I. of France, who had lately grown weary of his queen Bertha, the mother of his four children, and had shut her up in the castle of Montreuil.

Philippe found some pretext for declaring that his first marriage and Bertrade’s were both null and void; but not one French bishop could be found to solemnize the disgraceful union he desired. He was obliged to look beyond his own dominion, and it is said that it was the brother of the Conqueror, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who consented to pronounce a blessing over their marriage.

They were not, however, allowed to sin unmolested. Bertrade’s husband made war on them on one side, Bertha’s brother on the other. Philippe’s son Louis fled to the protection of the English; and the Pope laid them under excommunication. For nine years, however, they persisted in their crime; but at last they made a show of penitence; the King pretended to renounce Bertrade, and they were absolved.

Bertrade had forsaken her child; but she was very anxious that he should succeed his father, instead of his elder brother Geoffrey, a high-spirited youth, whom the peasantry of Anjou regarded as their friend and protector. She contrived to sow dissension between him and his father, and at last caused him to be assassinated.

Then she chose to come to Angers to see her son heir of Anjou, and actually brought the King with her; made Philippe and her husband behave in the most friendly manner, eat at the same table, sleep on the same couch; and Foulques was even base enough to sit on a footstool at the feet of this woman, who could scarcely have been better than the witch-lady herself.

After the death of Philippe she returned to Anjou, and went into the Abbey of Fontevraud, where she practised such rigorous penances that her health sank under them.

Her son, Foulques V., succeeded to the county in 1109, and was a much better man than could have been expected from the son of such parents. His wife was Sybil, daughter of Helie de la Flèche, an excellent, gentle, and pious lady, whom he loved devotedly.

His eldest daughter, the Alix, or noble maid of Anjou, whose name seems to have been Matilda, was betrothed to William the Etheling, son of Henry I., in order to detach her father from the cause of the unfortunate William Clito of Normandy.

Their marriage took place in the autumn of 1120, when the bridegroom was seventeen and the bride twelve. It was celebrated with great splendor, and all the Norman barons did homage to young William as their future Duke. Afterward the English court repaired to Barfleur, there to embark for their own island; but there was considerable delay in collecting shipping enough for so numerous a party, and it was not possible to set sail till the 25th of November. Just as the King was about to embark, a mariner, named Thomas Fitzstephen, addressed him, with the offering of a golden mark, saying that his father had had the honor of carrying King William to the conquest of England, and entreating that his beautiful new vessel, the Blanche Nef, or White Ship, with fifty good oarsmen, might transport the present King.

Henry, always courteous, answered that his own arrangements were made, but that no doubt his son, the Etheling, and his companions, would gladly make the passage with him. The King then sailed, taking with him the little bride, but leaving behind no less than eighteen ladies of the highest rank—among them his niece, Lucy de Blois, Countess of Chester, and his illegitimate daughter, Marie, Countess de Perche—also another illegitimate son, named Richard, and all the gayest young nobles, who were in attendance on the prince. Including the crew, the Blanche Nef was expected to carry full three hundred persons across the Channel. All were in high spirits, in that reckless state of mirth which the grave Scots deem as the absolute presage of a fearful catastrophe, as well as often its cause; and the young Etheling, with open-hearted, imprudent good-nature, presented the crew with three casks of wine to drink to his health and the success of the voyage. Such feasting took place, that all the rest of the fleet had sailed; but Fitzstephen boasted that he would overtake and outstrip every ship before they reached England. Some prudent persons—among them young Stephen de Blois—left the ship; but no one else had any fears; and though the night came on, there was a bright moon, and the water was calm. Every sail was set; the rowers plied their utmost strength, and thus it was with great violence that the ship ran foul of the rocks called the Ras de Catte. A lamentable cry reached the ships of the King’s fleet; but no one guessed the cause. A boat was lowered; Fitzstephen handed in the prince and a few rowers, and bade them make for the shore; but just as they had pushed off, William heard the agonized calls of his sister, the Countess de Perche, and commanded the rowers to put back and save her. The masterless, terrified multitude no sooner saw the boat approach, than they all flung themselves headlong into it; down it went under them, and the whole freight perished. The ship itself soon likewise foundered, and there only remained, clinging to the mast, a young baron, named Godfrey de l’Aigle, and a butcher of Rouen. Fitzstephen, however, swam up, and called out to ask if the King’s son had got off safe. When he heard their answer, he cried aloud, “Woe is me!” and sank like a stone. It was a cold night, and, after some hours, young Godfrey became benumbed, lost his hold, and likewise sank; but the butcher, in his sheepskin coat, held on till daylight, when he was picked up by some fishermen, and told his piteous tale.

Next day the news came to England, and every one knew it but the King. For some days no one could summon up resolution to inform him of this surpassing calamity; but at last a little boy was sent to fall at his feet, and, weeping bitterly, to tell him all. The stern heart was wrung: Henry fell senseless on the ground; and he, whose gayety had once almost hidden his hard, selfish nature, never smiled again.

The Count of Anjou sent for his daughter and her dowry. The daughter came, and afterward became a nun at Fontevraud; but no dowry was sent with her: and Foulques returned to the cause he had deserted, gave her sister Sybil to William Clito, and held with him till his early death.

On the death of his countess, Foulques vowed to go on a crusade. His eldest son Geoffrey was but seven years old, and before setting out, he solemnly placed the boy on the altar of St. Julian at Angers, saying, “Great Saint, I offer thee my son and my lands; be the protector of both!”

Foulques maintained a hundred men-at-arms in Palestine for a year, at his own expense, and signalized himself greatly. Baldwin I., King of Jerusalem, the brother of Godfrey, had survived his brother eighteen years, when, in 1118, the crown passed to Baldwin du Bourg, Count of Essex, who, according to the usual fate of the Defenders of the Holy Sepulchre, felt his health fast giving way under the influence of toil, anxiety, and climate. He had been twice a prisoner, and had spent seven years in captivity among the Infidels; but his kingdom had been bravely defended by the knights of the Temple and Hospital, aided by Crusaders from the West. Of these armed pilgrims the Count of Anjou was so much the most distinguished, that, after his return, a knight was sent to him by King Baldwin, to propose to give him the hand of Melisende, the eldest princess of Jerusalem, and with it that crown of care and toil.

The crusading spirit was, however, strong in the house of Anjou, and so continued for full three hundred years: and though Foulques was considerably past forty, he accepted the offer, gave up his country to his son Geoffrey, and set forth in 1127, married Melisende, and, four years after, became King of Jerusalem. It was an unloving marriage; but he was much respected and beloved, and his biographer observes that, though he had red hair, he had not the faults common in men of that complexion. He was continually in the field at the head of his knights, and won several victories, one of which gained the town of Caesarea Philippi. He was killed by a fall from his horse, near Acre, in 1142; and left two sons by Melisende—Baldwin and Amaury, who afterward both reigned at Jerusalem.





CAMEO XVI. VISITORS OF HENRY I. (1120-1134.)

Henry Beauclerc was really a great King. His abilities were high even for one of the acute Normans, and he studied at every leisure moment. He translated Aesop’s fables, not from Latin into French—which would not have been wonderful—but from Greek to English. He seems to have had a real attachment to the English, feeling that, in their sturdy independence, he had the best preservative from the “outre cuidance” of the Normans. Indeed, the English mind viewed Brenville as making up for Hastings. He wrote a book of maxims, even on etiquette; and though his heart was almost as hard as those of his brothers, his demeanor was far more gracious: moreover, he felt remorse, as his brothers never did, nor his father till his death. After he lost his son he had many a night of anguish; when all the men of his kingdom seemed to come and reproach him with their sufferings. But his reign, on the whole, was a breathing-time, when he carried out his father’s policy, restrained the barons, and raised the condition of the English. He was also greatly respected in other countries, and had many royal visitors, among the chief of whom may be reckoned his brother-in-law, David of Scotland, and Louis l’éveillé, the prince of France. In the Conqueror’s lifetime Henry and Louis had met at the court of France, where they had quarrelled at chess, and Henry, in a passion, had struck Louis a violent blow. His elder brother, Robert, then in exile in Paris, came in at the moment, and was so alarmed for the consequences, that he dragged Henry down stairs, called for their horses, and galloped away, never resting till he had seen the youth safely on the bounds of Normandy, where Robert himself might not enter. King Philippe’s anger is said to have been one of the causes of the war in which William I. met with his death.

Now, however, Louis was a fugitive from the persecution of the wicked Bertrade, and found shelter and protection in England till his father became reconciled to him.

Another royal visitor was Sigurd the Crusader, king of part of Norway. Eystein, Sigurd, and Olaf had been left orphans by the death of their father, King Magnus, when Eystein, the eldest, was only fifteen. According to the law of Norway, they all possessed an equal right to the kingdom; but this led to no disputes, and they lived together on the most friendly terms. Eystein was peaceably disposed and thoughtful, though lively; Sigurd, though enterprising and spirited, had a strain of melancholy which affected him when he was not actively employed: and one morning, Eystein, observing that his looks were gloomy, drew from him that he had had a dream. “I thought,” he said, “that we brothers were all sitting on a bench in front of Christ Church in Drontheim, and our kinsman, Olaf the Saint, came out in royal robes, glancing and splendid, and his face bright and joyous. He took our brother Olaf by the hand, saying, ‘Come with me, friend,’ and led him into the Church. Soon after, King Olaf the Saint came forth again, but not so bright as before. He came to thee, brother, and led thee with him into the church. Then I looked for him to come to me and meet me; but it was not so: and I was seized with great sorrow, and was altogether without strength; so that I awoke.”

Eystein interpreted the dream to mean that Olaf would die young and innocent; that the Saint was less radiant in coming for himself, because of his sins; and that Sigurd would be the longest-lived of the three. It fell out much as the dream had presaged, for Olaf died in early youth.

Sigurd had the restless spirit of the Sea-kings, and became a Crusader. He spent the first winter in England, the second in aiding the Christians of Spain against the Moors: he visited the Normans in Sicily, and, as the King of the whole Northern race, conferred on Count Roger de Hauteville the title of King of Sicily, and then proceeded to Jerusalem.

Baldwin I. received him splendidly, and availed himself of his aid to capture the town of Zidon. He left the Holy Land, taking as his reward a piece of the wood of the True Cross, and returned through Constantinople. There Alexius Comnenus gave him a magnificent reception, which he tried to requite by equal Ostentation, repeating Robert of Normandy’s invention of the golden horse-shoes. He was entertained with grand games in the Hippodrome, where the ancient Greek statues were much admired by his followers and their Vaeringer brethren, who took them for their own ancient Asagods. On his departure, he gave Alexius all his ships, the figure-heads of which were made ornaments for one of the churches at Constantinople; and some of the presents which he brought away are still extant in Norway. In one little remote church there has lately been found a curious Byzantine picture, representing the rescue of the True Cross from the Persians by the Emperor Heraclius.

In the meantime, Eystein was leading a wise, beneficent, peaceable, and pious life in Norway. But their different dispositions are best shown in a discussion that the old Norwegian chronicle has recorded as taking place soon after Sigurd’s return. The two brothers were, in the ancient fashion, sojourning in the house of one of their bonders, and keeping open table, when, one evening the ale was not good, Sigurd fell into one of his moods of gloomy depression, and the guests sat round silent.

The good-natured Eystein said, “Let us fall on some jest to amuse people; for surely, brother Sigurd, all people are well pleased when we converse cheerfully.”

“Do you talk as much as you please, but let me be silent,” returned Sigurd.

“Nay,” said Eystein, “let us follow the old custom over the ale-table of making comparisons. I will soon make it appear that, different as we are, we are both equal, and one has no advantage over the other.”

He succeeded in drawing his brother into the game; and Sigurd, who was the taller and stronger, answered, “Do you remember that I was always able to break your back, if I had pleased, though you are a year older?”

“Yes,” said Eystein; “but you were not so good at games that need agility.”

“Do you remember that I could drag you under water, when we swam together, as often as I pleased?”

“Yes,” returned Eystein; “but I could swim as far as you, and dive as well; and I could run on snow skates so well that no one could beat me, and you could no more do it than an ox.”

“I think,” said Sigurd, “you could hardly draw my bow, even if you took your foot to help.”

“I am not so strong at the bow, but there is less difference in our shooting near.”

“Beside,” continued the tall Sigurd, “a chief ought to be taller than other men, easily seen and distinguished.”

“Nay,” said Eystein, who was the handsomest man in Norway, “good looks may be an equal distinction. Besides, I am more knowing in the law, and my words flow more easily.”

“Well, you may know more law quirks. I have had something else to do,” said the rough warrior. “No one can deny you a smooth tongue; and some say you do not keep to what you promise—which is not kingly.”

“Yes, I promise satisfaction to one party before I have heard the other, and then am forced to take something back. It would be easy to do like you—promise evil to all. I never hear any complaint of your not keeping this promise to them.”

“Ay, and while I made a princely voyage, you sat at home like my father’s daughter.”

“There you take up the cudgel,” said Eystein, merrily; “but I know how to answer. If I did sit at home, like my father’s daughter, you cannot deny that, like a sister, I furnished you forth.”

Sigurd continued: “I was in many a battle in the Saracens’ land, and always came off conqueror; I won many precious goods, the like of which were never seen here before; and I was always the most highly esteemed where brave men met: while yours is but a home-bred renown. I went to Palestine, I came to Apulia; but I did not see you there, brother. I gave Roger the Great the title of King. I won seven battles; but you were in none of them. I was at our Lord’s grave; but I did not see you there, brother. I went to Jordan, where our Lord was baptized. I swam across the river; but I did not see you there. A willow grew on the bank, and I twisted the boughs into a knot, which is waiting there for you; for I said that you should untie it, and fulfil the vow that is bound up in it.”

“I have little to set against this,” said Eystein; “but if you fought abroad, I strove to be of use at home. In the north of Vaage I built fish-houses, so as to enable the poor people there to earn a livelihood. I built a priest’s house, and endowed a Church, where before all the people were heathen; and therefore I think they will recollect that Eystein was once King of Norway. The road from Drontheim goes over the Dofrefield, and often travellers had to sleep in the open air; but I built inns, and supported them with money, and thus wayfarers may remember that Eystein has been King of Norway. Agdaness was a bare waste, and no harbor, and many a ship was lost. Now, there is a good harbor, and a Church. I raised beacons on the high ground; I built a royal hall in Bergen, and the Church of the Apostles; I built Michael’s Church, and a Convent beside. I settled the laws, so that all may obtain justice. The Jemteland people are again joined to our realm, and more by kind words than by war. Now, though all these are but small doings, yet I am not sure if the people of our land have not been better served by them than by your killing blue men in the land of the Saracens. Your deeds were great; yet I hope what I have done for the servants of God may serve me no less for my soul’s salvation. So, if you did tie a knot for me, I will not go to untie it; and if I had been tying a knot for you, you would not have been King of Norway, when with a single ship you came into my fleet.”

Eystein conferred many more benefits on his country, and on individuals many acts of kindness—such as his undertaking by his conversation to cheer and console one of his friends who had been disappointed in love. This excellent King died at thirty-five, and it was said that there was never so much mourning in Norway. Sigurd’s fate was sad; the shadow predicted in his dream fell on him. His moodiness increased to distraction, and nothing could be more wretched in those early times than the condition of an insane king or of his country. He grew extremely violent, and often did fearful mischief; but he still preserved his generous spirit, and could always, even at the worst, be tamed by any one who would boldly resist his fury. Happily, this only lasted six years, for he died in 1330, at the age of forty.

This has been a long digression; but as Sigurd was the last of our Northern visitors, we hope it may be pardoned for the sake of its interest.

Henry I. gave his only daughter Maude in marriage to Henry V., Emperor of Germany, a rebellious son, who had taken advantage of the sentence of excommunication on his father, to strip him of his domains, and absolutely reduce him to beggary. Maude was married to Henry V. at eleven years old, when she was so small that she could not stand under the weight of her robes, and the Archbishop of Cologne was obliged to hold her in his arms during the celebration of the wedding. The principal favorites of the King of England were at this time the sons of his sister Adela, three in number: Theobald, Count de Blois and Champagne; Stephen, Count de Mortagne, whom the King married to Matilda, heiress, of Boulogne, the niece of good Queen Maude, and Henry, whom he made Bishop of Winchester.

Henry was persuaded to marry again, and his queen was the beautiful and gracious Alice of Louvaine, a fair young girl of eighteen. His daughter Maude returned from Germany in 1125; but there were strange stories that her husband, the Emperor, was not dead, but had fled in secret from his court, to dwell as a hermit in penance for his crimes. His funeral had, however, been performed with full solemnity. King Henry regarded her as in truth a widow, and was very anxious to bestow her a second time in marriage. He caused his vassals to take an oath of fealty to her as his heiress, and foremost in making this promise were David, King of Scotland—as Earl of Huntingdon, in right of his wife, Waltheof’s daughter—and Stephen de Blois, Count de Mortagne and Boulogne; while Henry engaged at the same time that she should not be married without the consent of the Barons.

Very soon, however, he broke his word, with the desire of conciliating those troublesome neighbors of Normandy, the counts of Anjou. Foulques V. showed himself so much inclined to befriend the son of Robert, that Henry resolved to attach him to his own party, and proposed to him to give Maude to his son Geoffrey, whom he desired should be sent at once to Rouen, that he might see him, and confer on him the order of knighthood.

Young Geoffrey was only fifteen, but, unlike his ancestors, was very tall, and had also inherited the beauty and grace of his grandmother Bertrade. King Henry was delighted with him, and after examining him closely on all the rules of chivalry, as well as on other points, to which Geoffrey replied with much acuteness, showing himself a good scholar even in Latin, resolved to make him his son-in-law. His knighthood was conferred with the greatest splendor and all the formalities of the time. The first day he entered the bath, the emblem of purity, and then was arrayed in fine linen, a robe woven with gold, and a purple mantle. A Spanish horse was presented to him, and he was armed in polished steel, and with a helmet covered with precious stones; his gilded spurs were buckled on, and his sword and lance given to him. He sprung on horseback without putting his foot in the stirrup, and six days were spent in jousting with twenty-nine young nobles, who were knighted at the same time. At the close of the tourney, Henry conferred on him the accolade, or sword-blow, which was the chief part of the ceremony.

Henry had great difficulty in making his daughter consent to the marriage. Whether she believed her husband to be alive, or whether it was from pride, or dislike to take so mere a boy as her bridegroom, her resistance was long; and it was not till 1127 that she was brought by her father to Mans, where the wedding took place, just before Geoffrey’s father departed for Palestine.

Maude was proud and disdainful, and treated her young husband in the most contemptuous way; and Geoffrey avoided her in return, spending most of his time in hunting in the woods, where he used to wear the spray of broom that became the cognizance of his house, and caused their surname of Plantagenet. Perhaps it was in contrast to his wife’s haughtiness that he chose to adopt this plant, considered as the emblem of humility, and reminding her that she had married the descendant of the woodman Torquatus.

Geoffrey seems to have been of a gay, lively temper, associating freely with all who came in his way, and often doing kind actions. Once, as on Christmas-day he was entering the Church of St. Julian at Mans, he met a poor priest, meanly clad.

“What tidings?” said the Count.

“Glad tidings,” returned the priest.

“What are they?”

“‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given,’” the clerk made answer; and Geoffrey was so struck with his appropriate manner, that he gave him a valuable canonry.

Geoffrey was hunting in a forest, when he lost his way, and was benighted; and, meeting a charcoal-burner, asked the road to Loches. The man offered to become his guide, and accordingly the Count took him up on his horse, talking gayly, and asking what people said of the Count. The peasant answered that the Count himself was said to be friendly and free-spoken, but his provost committed terrible exactions, of which he gave a full account. Geoffrey listened, and in the morning rode into the town of Loches with the charcoal-burner still en croupe (if his haughty empress was there, he must have enjoyed provoking her), and there he summoned all his provosts, himself examined their accounts, put an end to their exactions, and ended by making the charcoal-burner a free man instead of a serf.

There is a report that Maude’s first husband came to Angers in his penance-garb, and on his death-bed told his confessor who he was; that the confessor fetched the empress; and that she attended him in secret till his death; but the truth of this tale is very uncertain. Maude had been six years married to Geoffrey when her first child was born, Henry, called by the Normans Fitz-Empress.

This event in some degree cheered the latter years of his grandfather, King Henry, whose sin had found him out, in bitter remorse and fearful dreams. Nobles, peasants, and clergy seemed in turn to be standing round his bed, calling him to account for his misdeeds toward them. Many other victims of his ambition might have been conjured up by his remorse—such as the citizen of Rouen, spared by Robert, whom Henry threw from the top of a high tower, whither he had treacherously invited him; the Norman barons, with whom he had broken his faith; his gallant, generous brother, so cruelly betrayed and imprisoned; his persecuted nephew, William Clito; the unhappy troubadour, Lucas de Barré, whom he had blinded, for writing a satire on him, and who dashed out his brains in despair on the prison wall; and—almost the worst of all—the poor children of his illegitimate daughter Juliana, left to the ferocious revenge of Raoul de Harenc, by whom their eyes were put out and their noses cut off. With such recollections as these to haunt his later years, no wonder Henry’s nights were times of agony and wakefulness.

He tried to lose the thought of these horrors in activity, and was constantly passing between England and Normandy. It was in the latter country that he made his fatal supper of lampreys, after he had been fatigued with hunting all day. A violent fever came on at night, and he died on the 1st of December, 1135.

The court of Scotland presented a far different scene. David, the youngest of the children of St. Margaret, inherited the crown in 1124, on the death of his brother Alexander, and was treading in the same course as his mother, his sister Maude, and his brethren. He belonged, indeed, to a family of saints, and brought piety, firmness, cultivation, and a merciful temper to improve his rugged country. He was a brave warrior: but he loved the arts of peace, and one of his favorite amusements was gardening, budding and grafting trees.

He administered strict justice, but shed tears as he ordered an execution; and was so tender-hearted and ready to hear the poor, that he would take his foot out of the stirrup when just ready for the chase, to listen to the humblest complaint. Though lively and social in temper, he spent some hours every evening alone, in prayer and meditation.

His wife was Matilda, daughter of that Earl Waltheof who was executed by William I. She had previously been married to a Norman knight, Simon de St. Liz, who died on pilgrimage, leaving her with two sons, Simon and Waltheof. Two sons were likewise born to David; but the eldest was killed in his infancy by an accident: and shortly after David took home as a companion to the little Henry, Aelred, the son of a Saxon priest at Hexham.

These four boys were brought up “in the nurture of good learning,” and in godliness; but their different tempers soon showed themselves. Simon, the little Earl of Northampton, while a child, was always playing at building castles, and bestriding the “truncheon of a spear,” as a war-horse. Waltheof was a builder, too, but his were churches, and his delight was in making the sign of the Cross and singing chants. It was still the same as they grew older; Waltheof ever drew more apart, and spent more time in reading and prayer. His stepfather, the King, would take him to the chase, and tell him to bear his bow; but he often found his bow in the hands of another, and, after a search, discovered Waltheof reading or praying in a secret glade, or under a tree. “Your boy,” he said to the Queen, “will either die young, or leave us for the cloister.”

Aelred was Waltheof’s chief friend; but, though very pious, he was more of a scholar, and read both romances of King Arthur and such works of Cicero as had found their way to Scotland. He was lively in conversation; David was fond of him, and used to tell him stories of his own younger days; and Aelred became the loving chronicler of this happy court.

Prince Henry had the same holy temper, coupled with a bold spirit, that was needed by the heir of Scotland, and showed himself full of the noble qualities of his father and uncles. He was the true knight of the party, as bold as a lion, yet as strict and devout as a monk, even in the camp. Simon was no more than a rough, bold, tyrannical earl, and soon took up his abode in England.

Ere long Aelred became a monk, and Waltheof was not slow in following his example. Both entered the Cistercian order, and led holy lives, avoiding all preferment—a difficult matter for Waltheof, stepson to one king and cousin to another. His brother Simon took such offence at his lowliness, that he actually threatened to burn down the convent of Waldon, where Waltheof was living, because he thought it shame to see a descendant of Siward a common monk in a poor monastery.

However, in time, promotion was thrust on them. Aelred became Abbot of Rivaux, and Waltheof Abbot of Melrose.

Of the King and his son, more will be said in the next chapter.





CAMEO XVII. THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD. (1135-1138.)

  King of England.
   1135. Stephen.
   1137. Louis VII.

  King of Scotland.
   1124. David I.

  Kings of France.
   1107. Louis VI.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1125. Lothar II.
   1138.  Konrad II.

Earl Egbert of Gloucester was the son of Henry Beauclerc and of a beautiful Welsh princess named Nesta, who had fallen into his hands in the course of the war which he maintained for his brother William Rufus, on the borders of Wales. Henry was much attached to the boy, and gave him a princely education, by which he profited so as to become not only learned, but of a far purer and more chivalrous character than was often to be found among the great men of his time.

Henry I. provided for him, by giving to him the hand of the Lady Amabel Fitzaymon, heiress of Glamorgan, and a ward at the disposal of the crown, in whose right he became Earl of Gloucester.

Robert and his cousin, Stephen de Blois, both attended the death-bed of Henry I., and heard his dying words: “I leave to my children whatever I have gained. Let them do justice to those I have injured.”

No sooner had the King expired, than Stephen set off for England, where he was already very popular, partly on account of his courteous manners and goodly person, partly for the sake of his wife, Matilda of Boulogne, who was treading in the steps of her aunt, the good Queen Maude. He landed at Dover in the midst of a frightful thunder-storm, and though he found that city and Canterbury closed against him, he met with a joyful reception in London and Winchester. He bribed Hugh Bigod, the late King’s seneschal, to swear that Henry had on his deathbed disinherited Maude, and left the kingdom to him; and the Archbishop, William de Corboil, was credulous enough to believe the tale, and crown the usurper; but discovery of the falsehood hastened the old man’s death.

While this was passing, Robert of Gloucester was conducting the funeral of his father; causing his body to be salted, instead of embalmed, and bringing it to England to be buried at Reading, an abbey that Henry had built and endowed for his burial-place. It is now completely ruined, and few vestiges remain to show what the buildings were, far less any trace of the tomb of the scholarly and cruel son of the Conqueror.

The Empress Maude was at the same time attending her husband, Geoffrey Plantagenet, in a dangerous illness; and thus Stephen was enabled to obtain possession of both England and Normandy, and received the submission of all the nobles. The Earl of Gloucester, thinking resistance vain, took the oath of fealty; reserving, however, the right of recalling it if any injury was offered to him or to his property.

The next year Geoffrey de Bel raised an army, and entered Normandy; but was met there by Stephen, wounded, and forced to retreat, leaving only a few castles still holding out for the Empress. Stephen was besieging that of Bertran, with an army composed partly of Normans and partly of natives of his wife’s county of Boulogne, when, while he was taking his mid-day sleep, a quarrel arose between the two brothers. Waking in haste, and alarmed for his Boulognais, he took part against the Normans, calling out, “Down with the traitors!” The Normans were greatly offended, and, having retired to their tents, they held a council together, and ended by making him the following plain-spoken address:

“Sir, a folly is better ended than continued. By ill advice, we took you for our lord for a little while. If you blame us for it, you will not be wrong. You have beaten our men, and called us traitors. Certes, we were traitors when we left our rightful lady for a stranger. We have held with you against our lady the Empress, and we repent, for we have sinned against God and man: but we will no longer continue in the sin; and therefore we bid you mount, and leave this host, for we will not suffer you to remain in this country, unless it be the will of our lady the Empress.”

Stephen begged them to let him remain till the next day but they swore that, if he did, it should be the worse for him, and immediately escorted him beyond the bounds of Normandy. They then brought back Maude, with her husband and children; and the dukedom continued in the hands of Geoffrey as long as he lived.

At the same time David, King of Scotland, recollecting the oath to Maude, which he and Stephen had together sworn, took up arms in her cause, and invaded England, forcing the inhabitants to take the oath of allegiance. His troops were a fearfully wild, untamed race, undisciplined and cruel, and it was a dreadful thing to let loose such a host of savage marauders without any possibility of restraining them. The Galwegians, Picts by race, were the worst; but the Highlanders and Borderers were also dreadfully cruel: and the English armed to protect themselves against the inroad of their ancient foes.

The clergy of the North even deemed it a sacred war, and, by the authority of Thurstan, Archbishop of York, gathered their flocks, and came, each priest at the head of his parishioners, to the place of assembly at York, where three days were spent in prayer and fasting; and then the old Archbishop administered to them an oath never to desert each other, and dismissed them with his blessing. Raoul, Bishop of Durham, was deputed by him to take the lead, and to have the charge of the consecrated standards of St. Cuthbert of Durham, St. Peter of York, St. John of Beverley, and St. Wilfred of Ripon. These were all suspended from one pole, like the mast of a vessel, surmounted by a cross, in the centre of which was fixed a silver casket, containing the consecrated wafer of the Holy Sacrament. The pole was fixed into a four-wheeled car, on which the Bishop stood. Such cars were much used in Italy, where each city had its own consecrated Gonfalone, on its caroccio, hung with scarlet cloth and drawn by oxen. The English collected under this sacred standard were the stout peasants of the North, the bowmen of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire; each with a bow of his own height, and a sheaf of arrows two cubits long; and there were also many barons of Norman birth, of whom Walter L’Espee was the leader. Some of these barons held their lands under David of Scotland, as Earl of Cumberland, and two of them, Bernard Baliol and Robert Bruce, the last an old friend of the King, went to the Scottish camp, to remonstrate with him. Bruce begged him to retreat, described the horrors committed by his wild Scots, told him of the strength of the English force, and ended by declaring with tears that it would now become his duty to renounce his allegiance, and array himself against his beloved prince. Good King David shed tears, but William Macdonochie, the fierce lord of Galloway, burst out with the exclamation, “Bruce, thou art a false traitor!” and the insulted baron renounced all he held in Scotland, gave up his allegiance, and rode back to the English army, at Northampton, bringing tidings that the Scots were coming.

The host arrayed itself around their car, where the sacred standard waved above their head, and the Bishop of Durham addressed them from beneath it, reminding them of former victories. Walter L’Espee was the first to respond. Grasping the hand of the Earl of Albemarle, he exclaimed, “I pledge thee my troth that to-day I will overcome the Scots, or die!” “So swear we all,” cried the other barons; and the whole host knelt down, the Bishop pronounced over them the words of absolution, they replied with one mighty sound of united voices, “Amen!” and arose. The knights and squires sat with gathered reins and knees in rest, the yeomen stood each with his good yew bow ready strung, awaiting the onslaught.

Less union was there in the hostile army, where it might be said that there was no authority, for David was unable to restrain his wild subjects from the North and West. The men of Galloway insisted on beginning the attack; but as they wore no defensive armor, and had no weapons but long, thin pikes, besides being more fierce than steady, the king hesitated. “Why trust to a plate of steel or rings of iron?” exclaimed Malise of Strathern. “I, who wear no armor, will go as far as any one with breastplate of mail.” “You brag of what you dare not do!” said the Norman Alan de Percy. But the King found himself obliged to yield the precedence to the Galwegians, trusting far more to the lowland knights and men-at-arms, whom he arrayed under his gallant son, Prince Henry, while he himself commanded the reserve of Northern Scots.

The fierce Kelts of Galloway, guided by a tall spear, wreathed with heather blossom, and shouting, “Albin! Albin!” with harsh, dissonant cries like the roar of a tempest, fell headlong on the English ranks, and at first their fury carried them on so that they burst through them as if they had been a spider’s web. But the Norman chivalry round the standard stood firm, and hewed down the undefended Galwegians, nor could the long claymores of the Highland clans, who next attacked them, break through their steel armor. The charge of Prince Henry’s horsemen had more effect, and at one time the youth had almost won his way to the standard, when some traitor in the rear raised a bloody head on the point of a lance, shouting that the King was slain. In consternation the Scots gave back; the English saw their advantage, and pressed upon them: and though David rode forward and displayed the dragon standard which marked his presence (inherited from the Saxon kings), he could not rally them, and but just succeeded in protecting their flight to Carlisle, which then belonged to him as Earl of Cumberland.

This first of the long series of Scottish defeats was called the Battle of the Standard, from the banner of St. Cuthbert, which was always thought to bring success. It came forth at the battle of Nevil’s Cross, and was again victorious, and it was preserved with great reverence till the Reformation, when, in 1549, Catherine Whittingham, the wife of the Dean of Durham, burnt it, out of zeal against Popery. It is some comfort that she was a Frenchwoman.

Stephen had left his Northern subjects to take care of themselves, because he was full of perplexities in the South. He had tried to please all parties, and by no means succeeded. He was a humane, kind-hearted man, and really wished to befriend the unfortunate Saxons; but, on the other hand, he was afraid to affront their Norman oppressors, whom he had allowed to build castles, and strengthen themselves in the very way which it had been Henry Beauclerc’s policy to prevent. Almost every spot where green mounds and blocks of massive masonry remain within an ancient moat, is said by tradition to have been “a castle in Stephen’s time,” and we wonder, considering that he reigned but nine years, how such immense works could have been effected. Dens of thieves they seem to have been, and misery and destruction reigned round them; while the least attempt on the King’s part to restrain the ferocity of their owners was requited by a threat of bringing in our lady the Empress.

Her party became continually stronger, and Stephen, living in constant mistrust, added to it by offending several Bishops, even his own brother, Henry de Blois, by trying, to deprive them of their fortified castles. Next he made an attack on the Earl of Gloucester, who, being thus freed from his engagement to keep the peace, after repulsing Stephen, went to Normandy to fetch the Empress, and inform her that this was the time for establishing her right.

Maude, gladly accepted his invitation, but her husband Geoffrey seems to have been glad to be rid of her ungracious company, and chose to remain in Anjou. She landed in safety, for Stephen was at this time extremely ill, and her brother placed her in Arundel Castle, which belonged to her father’s widow, Queen Alice, lately married to William de Albini, the ancestor of the noble line of Howard. Here Maude remained, while her brother went to his own estates to raise troops; but in the meantime Stephen recovered, and advanced on Arundel Castle. Queen Alice sent to tell him that her stepdaughter had come to seek her protection, and beg him not to make her do anything disloyal; and Stephen, who had many of the qualities of a courteous knight, forbore to make any personal attack on the ladies, but allowed the Empress to depart unmolested to meet Earl Robert.

He brought her to his castle at Bristol, where she remained two years, while the warfare was carried on in a desultory manner, chiefly by the siege of castles. At last Stephen laid siege to Lincoln, where Robert’s daughter was, with her husband Ralf, Earl of Chester. Her father came to her relief with an army of 10,000 men. Stephen was advised to retreat; but he thought his honor concerned, and gave battle. His forces were soon overwhelmed; but he fought on desperately at the foot of his standard, so fiercely that no one dared to approach him, though his sword and battle-axe were both broken. At last a stone brought him to the ground, and a knight, named William Kames, grappled with him and held him fast; but even then he refused to yield the fragment of his sword to any but the Earl of Gloucester, who came up at the moment and prevented any further violence.

Stephen was given into the keeping of Countess Amabel, and Maude was conducted in state to Winchester, where Stephen’s own brother, the Bishop, proclaimed her Queen, standing on the steps of the altar. Her uncle, King David, came to visit her, and she held her court with great splendor. It was here that she disgusted every one by her disdainful manners, and treated her cousin, Stephen’s queen, with such harshness as to drive her to take up arms again. London had always been favorable to Stephen, and two months of negotiation were necessary before David and Robert could prevail on the citizens to receive her. At midsummer, however, they consented to admit her, and she came to Westminster; but as soon as a deputation of citizens were in her presence, she showed her pride and hostile spirit. They asked for charters; she replied by ordering them to bring money, and telling them they were very bold to talk of their privileges, when they had just been aiding her enemies. Robert made speeches to try to soften matters, and David reasoned with her in vain, till she was convinced of her folly in a way for which he was little prepared. It is said that she actually flew at him and struck him; and if she could thus treat a royal uncle, how must not men inferior in rank have sped?

It was noon, and the deputies went home, as Maude thought, to dinner; but presently all the bells began to ring, and burghers, armed with bows and bills, began to swarm in the streets. The followers of the Empress were too few to resist; so, after a brief council, David galloped off to the North, and Robert rode with his sister to Oxford, while the Londoners opened their gates to Matilda, Stephen’s wife, and her son Eustace.

Robert went to raise more forces, and Maude, hearing that Bishop Henry de Blois was conferring with his sister-in-law, sharply summoned him to her presence. He quietly made answer, “Parabo me”—I prepare myself; and Maude, in a passion, set out, intending to surprise him at Wolvesley, his palace at Winchester. She found it well fortified, and laid siege to it from the castle at Winchester, where she was joined by her uncle and brother; and the town was in a miserable state, burnt by both parties in turn. Twenty churches and two convents were destroyed, and the Bishop took Knut’s crown out of the Cathedral—to save it from the enemy, as was said, but it was never seen again. At last Eustace de Blois and his mother brought such a force that the Empress was besieged in her turn, and completely starved out. Her garrison resolved to break through the enemy at all risks, and on Sunday they set forth, Maude riding first with her uncle David, and Robert following with a band of knights, under a vow to die rather than let her be taken.

At Stourbridge the pursuers came up with them, many of the knights fell, and Robert was captured. So closely were the royal fugitives pursued, that David at one time was in the enemy’s hands, and only escaped by the stratagem of his godson, David Olifant. Maude and one faithful knight, by the speed of their horses, reached Devizes, whence she was carried in a coffin to Gloucester.

Maude could not make up her mind to release her foe, Stephen, even for the sake of recovering her brother; but the Countess of Gloucester, considering the King as her own property, acted for herself, and exchanged him for her husband. Queen Matilda tried to make Robert promise to bring about peace, to secure England to Stephen, and Normandy to Maude; but he would make no engagements which he knew she would not observe, and matters continued in the same state.





CAMEO XVIII. THE SNOWS OF OXFORD. (1138-1154.)

  King of England.
   1135. Stephen.

  Kings of Scotland.
   1124. David I.
   1153. Malcolm V.

  King of France.
   1137. Louis VII.

  Emperor Of Germany.
   1139. Konrad II.

  Popes.
   1130. Innocent II.
   1143. Celestine II.
   1144. Lucius II.
   1145. Anastasius II.
   1154. Adrian IV.

On the 1st of November, 1138, Stephen was set at liberty, and Robert of Gloucester, being exchanged for him, rejoined his sister the Empress at Gloucester; and during this time of quiet her fierce nature seems to have somewhat softened.

Stephen, meanwhile, had one of his terrible attacks of illness, in which he lay for hours, if not days, in a death-like lethargy, and, of course, his followers did nothing but build castles whenever the frost would let them work, prey on their neighbors, and make the state of the country far worse than it had been under any of the Normans of hated memory. Maude’s domain was in better order, as Robert’s rule was modelled on that of his father’s, in its best points. It is wonderful that Robert, whose mother was a princess by birth, and had been treated as a wife till the Etheling marriage had become a matter of policy, should have put forward no pretensions to the crown, but have uniformly given his staunch support to his proud and ungrateful sister. In a council held at Devizes in the course of the winter, it was decided that he should go to Normandy to entreat the Count of Anjou to bring succors to his wife. Geoffrey, however, had no desire to return to her haughty companionship, and represented that there were still many castles in Normandy unsubdued. Robert gave efficient aid in taking these; but Geoffrey still could not persuade himself to meet his wife, though, at Robert’s persuasion, he consented to give into his charge Henry, his eldest son, a boy of ten years old, with a large body of troops.

Maude had, in the meanwhile, been placed in the strong fortress at Oxford; but no sooner had Stephen recovered from his illness, than he collected his army, and marched southward. In the end of September he besieged her at Oxford, where at first she thought herself safe; but he crossed the river, set fire to the city in several places, and blockaded her in the castle.

Her nobles collected at Wallingford, and sent defiances to Stephen to fight a pitched battle with them; but he knew his own advantage too well, and took no notice. Earl Robert, landing near Wareham, tried to create a diversion by besieging that seaport; but he could not draw the enemy off from Oxford. Famine prevailed in the castle, and, after much suffering, it became impossible for the garrison to hold out any longer. The depth of winter had come, the ground was covered with snow, and the Isis was frozen over. Maude, whose courage never failed, caused herself and three of her knights to be dressed in white, and let down from the battlements upon the snow, where they were met by one of Stephen’s men, whom they had gained over, and by him were led, unseen and unheard, through the camp of the enemy, hearing the call of the sentinels, and trembling with anxiety. For six miles they crept over the snow, and at last arrived at Abingdon, nearly frozen, for their garments had been far too scanty for the piercing weather; but they could not remain a moment for rest or warmth, but took horse, and never paused till they reached Wallingford Castle. Thither, so soon as the news reached Earl Robert, he brought her young son, and her troubles were forgotten in her joy.

Thence she repaired with her son to Bristol Castle, where the boy remained under the care of a learned tutor named Matthew, who instructed him under the superintendence of Earl Robert.

This great Earl deserved the name of Beauclerc almost as well as his father; he was well read, and two histories were dedicated to him, William of Malmesbury’s, and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s wonderful chronicle of the old British kings, whose blood flowed in Robert’s veins; that chronicle—wrought out of queer Welsh stories—that served as a foundation for Edward’s claims on Scotland, and whence came our Lear and Cymbeline.

All that knightly training could do for young Henry was done by Earl Robert, and the boy so far answered to his care as to have that mixture of scholarliness and high spirit that was inherent in the Norman and Angevin princes. But the shrewd unscrupulousness and hard selfishness of the Norman were there, too—the qualities from which noble Gloucester himself was free. It may be, however, that the good Earl did not see these less promising characteristics of his ward; for, after five years of the boy’s residence at Bristol, and the old desultory warfare between the partisans of King and Empress, Count Geoffrey sent for his son, to take leave of him before going on a crusade; and while Henry was absent, Earl Robert died, in 1147. It speaks much for Henry Beauclerc’s court that such men should have grown up in it as Robert of Gloucester and David of Scotland.

Geoffrey, in the meantime, paid a visit to his younger brother, Baldwin III. of Jerusalem, a very gallant prince. On his return, Maude came back to him, and after their eight years’ absence, they met with affection they never had shown to one another before. She did not attempt to take the government of Normandy, but left it wholly in Geoffrey’s hands.

Stephen, meanwhile, was unmolested in England till 1149, when Henry sailed for Scotland, there to be knighted by his uncle, King David; while, curiously enough, his younger brother Geoffrey was at the very same time knighted by Stephen’s elder brother, Theobald, Count de Blois.

It was a year of grief to that excellent King, who suffered a great affliction in the death of the chivalrous Henry, his only son, and the father of a numerous infant family. His barons feared he would sink under his sorrow, and came to comfort him; but they found him cheerful. “I ought not to lament my son’s being taken away from me,” he said, “since he is gone to enjoy the fellowship of my parents and my brethren, of whose souls the world was no longer worthy. Should I mourn, it would be to arraign the goodness and justice of God for removing him to the mansions of bliss before me. I should rather be thankful, and rejoice that the Almighty endowed my son with so much grace to behave himself in a manner to be so beloved and lamented. Soon do I hope to follow, and, being delivered from temporal miseries, to enjoy a blessed eternity with the saints in light.”

It was shortly after this that Aelred, the good Abbot of Rivaux, came to Dunfermline, on the affairs of his order; and in the presence of this holy man, the adopted brother of his beloved Henry, one of the four promising boys who had gladdened the early days of his reign, the King’s grief broke freely forth, though still it was not the sorrow of one who had no hope. He told Aelred he saw in this calamity a punishment for the devastation he had caused in his invasion of England, and would fain have laid down his royalty, and spent the rest of his days in penitence in a convent; but he was persuaded to relinquish the design, and guard the crown for his grandsons. He shed tears as he tenderly embraced Aelred, and both felt it was their last meeting.

David did not long survive his son. He appointed his eldest grandchild, Malcolm, to succeed him, and set his affairs in order, redoubling all his pious and charitable acts. One of the last things he was heard to say, was, “Lord, I restore Thee the kingdom wherewith Thou didst entrust me. Put me in possession of that whereof the inhabitants are all kings.” He was soon after found dead, in the attitude of devotion. His body was buried at Dunfermline, and his name added to the list of Scottish saints.

His grandsons, Malcolm, William, and David, were all good and valiant men.

Waltheof, his stepson, lived peaceably at Melrose, strict in rule, gentle in manners, and peculiarly humble in demeanor, and poor in dress. He once had occasion to meet King Stephen, and rode in among the barons in their armor, only clad in his coarse serge frock, and mounted, on an old gray horse. His brother Simon, who stood by the King, was displeased, and said, “See, my lord, how my brother and thy kinsman does honor to his lineage.” He met with a reply he little expected. “If thou and I had only the grace to see it,” said Stephen, “he is an honor indeed to us. He adorns our race, as the gem does the gold in which it is set!” And when he had parted with the meek abbot, Stephen exclaimed, with tears, “This man has put all worldly things under his feet; but we are presuming after this fleeting world, and losing both body and soul in the chase.”

This must indeed have, been brought home soon after to Stephen, by the fate of his wretched son Eustace. This fiery youth had desired to be crowned in his father’s lifetime; but Archbishop Theobald, and all his suffragans, perceiving that this would prevent the only hope of peace on Stephen’s death, steadily refused, though the King shut them all up in his hall, and threatened them violently. The next year, when the treaty was made by which Henry of Anjou was to reign after Stephen, Eustace was so enraged at finding himself excluded from the succession, that he rushed off, accompanied by a party of lawless young men, and ravaged all Cambridgeshire, committing dreadful excesses. It is to be hoped that he was already under the influence of the brain-fever which came on in a few days’ time, immediately after he had pillaged Bury St. Edmund’s, and of which he died; leaving a belief among the country people, that, like King Sweyn, he had been struck by the avenging hand of the Saint himself. His father, King Stephen, only lived a few months after, worn out by the toils and troubles which he had brought on himself by his own ambition. His son William, who would have opposed Henry’s accession, was prevented, by breaking his leg by a fall from his horse, and Henry peaceably gained the throne. His mother, Empress Maude, had in the meantime retired to Anjou, where she led a quiet life, giving up her rights to her son, and apparently profiting by the lesson she had been taught when her prosperity was turned at its full tide by her own pride and presumption.

Of the boys bred up in the good household of Dunfermline, Aelred was the last survivor. Waltheof had the happiness, before his death, of seeing his brother, the proud Earl Simon of Northampton, repent heartily, leave his evil courses, found churches, and endow the convent of Waldon, which he had once persecuted for sheltering his brother. Waltheof was elected to be Bishop of St. Andrews, and Aelred, as head of the Cistercians in Britain, came to Melrose, to order him, on his canonical obedience, to accept the see. But Waltheof was weak in health, and knew that another call had gone forth. He pointed to a stone slab on the floor of the chapter-house. “There,” said he, “is the place of my rest. Here will be my habitation, among my children.”

And in a short time he died, in the year 1159. Aelred lived seven or eight years longer, and was highly honored and trusted by the young Malcolm of Scotland. On his behalf the old Abbot undertook a journey, to treat with the wild men of Galloway, whom Malcolm had three times defeated in battle, and now wished to bring to terms. He succeeded in persuading their chief to submit, and even to become a canon at Holyrood.

He afterward attended a chapter of his order at Pavia, and died at Rivaux, after a long illness, about 1166.





CAMEO XIX. YOUTH OF BECKET. (1154-1162)

  King of England.
   1154. Henry II.

  King Of Scotland.
   1153. Malcolm V.

  King of France.
   1137. Louis VII.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1138. Konrad II.
   1152. Friedrich II.

  Popes.
   1154. Adrian IV.
   1159. Alexander III.

Henry of Anjou showed, in his journey to England, both courage and moderation. He remained there for some little time, and then returned home to join his father in a war against the Count de Montreuil, who was befriended by both Pope and King of France. The Pope excommunicated Geoffrey, but he fought on, and made his enemy prisoner; then, at the command of the King of France, released him. When the Pope would have absolved Geoffrey, he refused, saying he had only done justice, and had not deserved the sentence. A few months after, in 1151, a cold bath, when he was heated with riding, brought on a fever that caused his death.

He left his son Henry his county of Anjou, to be resigned to Geoffrey if he should become King of England, and commanded that his body should not be interred till Henry had taken an oath to that effect. From this oath Henry was absolved by Adrian IV, properly Nicholas Brakespeare, the only English Pope, and stripped his brother of all his possessions. It was no good omen for his own relations with his sons. His mother lived many years in retirement, and used her influence chiefly for good. She died in 1167.

Henry, meantime, had come to the throne in 1154, and was the mightiest King who had yet reigned in England. More than half France was his—partly by inheritance, and partly by marriage with Eleanor, heiress of Aquitaine; and he was quite able to rule his vast dominions. His alertness and activity were the wonder of every one. He made journeys with great rapidity, was always busy, and hardly ever sat down. He had a face like a lion, well-knit limbs, and a hardy temperament. He was heedless what he ate or wore, and was an embodiment of vehemence and activity. He threw himself eagerly into the work of reducing to order the dreadful state of things allowed by Stephen.

Down came the castles—once more the nobles found they had a strong hand over them—no more dens of robbers were permitted—the King was here, there, and everywhere. He had English to tame Anglo-Normans, Angevins to set on French Normans, Poitevins to turn loose on both. He knew what order was, and kept it; and the counsellor who aided him most must now be described.

Here is the romantic ballad-tale of that counsellor’s origin, though it is much to be feared that the fact cannot be established.

In the reign of Henry I. the citizens of London were amazed by the sight of a maiden in an Eastern dress, wandering along the streets, plaintively uttering the word “Gilbert!” Certain seafaring men declared that she had prevailed on them to take her on board their vessel and bring her to England, by constantly repeating the name “London!”—the only other word in the language that she knew.

Poor lady! The mob of London were less compassionate than the sailors had been. They hooted and hunted her, till she came to Southwark, in front of a house belonging to Gilbert à Becket, a rich and prosperous merchant, who, with his faithful serving-man, Richard, had lately returned from pilgrimage. Richard, who had come out on hearing the noise, hurried back into the house as soon as he perceived its cause; then, hastening out again, went up to the poor, persecuted maiden, who fainted away at the sight of him. He carried her to the house of an honorable widow lady, desiring her, in his master’s name to take care of the desolate stranger, with whom, on her revival, he held converse in her own tongue, and seemed to cheer her greatly.

Meanwhile, Gilbert à Becket was on his way to St. Paul’s, to consult the Bishop of London. He related how, in the East, he and his man Richard had been taken captive by the Saracens, and become slaves to a wealthy Emir. In the course of their services to their master, Gilbert had attracted the notice of his daughter, who had more than once asked him questions about his faith and country, and had at last offered to contrive his escape, if he would take her for his wife, and bring her to his own land. Gilbert, who did not trust her, effected his escape with Richard without her assistance, and returned to England, little thinking they should ever see her again. But she followed him, leaving her home, her riches, and her father, and seeking him through his long and dangerous journey, ignorant of all save his name, and the name of his city.

Five other prelates were present when he told the story, and one, the Bishop of Chichester, exclaimed, that Heaven itself most have conducted the damsel, and advised that Gilbert should at once marry her. The next day she was brought to St. Paul’s, and was there baptized by the name of Matilda, Richard acting as interpreter; and shortly after the wedding took place.

This romantic story was the origin of several old English ballads, one of which celebrates the Saracen lady by the extraordinary title of Susy Pye, perhaps a vulgarism of her original Eastern name.

In the first year of his marriage, Gilbert went on pilgrimage again, leaving his wife under the care of his man Richard. Soon after his departure she gave birth to a son, to whom she gave the name of Thomas, and who was three years old by the time his father returned from the Holy Land. They afterward had two daughters, named Mary and Agnes, and lived in great piety and happiness, until the time of Matilda’s death, at the end of twenty-two years.

Thomas received a clerkly education from the Canons of Merton, and showed such rare ability that his whole family deemed him destined for great things. He was very tall and handsome, and his aquiline nose, quick eyes, and long, slender, beautiful hands, accorded with the story of his Eastern ancestry; and he was very vigorous and athletic, delighting in the manly sports of the young men of his time. In his boyhood, while he was out hawking with a knight who used to lodge in his father’s house when he came to London, he was exposed to a serious danger. They came to a narrow bridge, fit only for foot-passengers, with a mill-wheel just below. The knight nevertheless rode across the bridge, and Thomas was following, when his horse, making a false step, fell into the river. The boy could swim, but would not make for the bank, without rescuing the hawk, that had shared his fall, and thus was drawn by the current under the wheel, and in another moment would have been torn to pieces, had not the miller stopped the machinery, and pulled him out of the water, more dead than alive.

It seems that it was the practice for wealthy merchants to lodge their customers when brought to London by business, and thus young Thomas became known to several persons of high estimation in their several stations. A rich merchant called Osborn gave him big accounts to keep; knights noticed his riding, and clerks his learning and religious life.

Some of the clergy of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who were among those guests, were desirous of presenting him to their master. He at first held back, but they at length prevailed with him: he became a member of the Archbishop’s household, and, after he had improved himself in learning, was ordained deacon, and presented with the Archdeaconry of Canterbury, an office which was then by no means similar to what we at present call by that name. It really then meant being chief of the deacons, and involved the being counsellor, and, in a manner, treasurer to the Bishop of the diocese; and thus, to be Archdeacon of Canterbury, was the highest ecclesiastical dignity in the kingdom, next to that of the prelates and great mitred abbots.

Thomas à Becket was a secular clerk, bound by none of the vows of monastic orders; and therefore, though he led a strictly pure and self-denying life, he did hot consider himself obliged to abstain from worldly business or amusements, and in the year 1150 he was appointed Chancellor by Henry II. He was then in his thirty-eighth year, of great ability and cultivation, graceful in demeanor, ready of speech, clear in mind, and his tall frame (reported to have been no less than six feet two in height) fitting him for martial exercise and bodily exertion. The King, a youth of little past twenty, delighting in ability wherever he found it, became much attached to his gallant Chancellor, and not only sought his advice in the regulation of England after its long troubles, but, when business was done, they used to play together like two schoolboys.

It must have been a curious scene in the hall of Chancellor Becket, when, at the daily meal, earls and barons sat round his table, and knights and nobles crowded, so thickly at the others, that the benches were not sufficient, and the floor was daily strewn with hay or straw in winter, or in summer with green boughs, that those who sat on it might not soil their robes. Gold and silver dishes, and goblets, and the richest wines, were provided, and the choicest, most costly viands were purchased at any price by his servants for these entertainments: they once gave a hundred shillings for a dish of eels. But the Chancellor seldom touched these delicacies, living on the plainest fare, as he sat in his place as the host, answering the pledges of his guests, amusing them with his converse, and providing minstrelsy and sports of all kinds for their recreation. Often the King would ride into the hall, in the midst of the gay crowd seated on the floor, throw himself off his horse, leap over the table, and join in the mirth.

These rich feasts afforded afterward plentiful alms for the poor, who were never forgotten in the height of Becket’s magnificence, and the widow and the oppressed never failed to find a protector in the Chancellor.

His house was full of young squires and pages, the sons of the nobility, who placed them there as the best school of knighthood; and among them was the King’s own son Henry, who had been made his pupil.

The King seems to have been apt to laugh at Becket for his strict life and overflowing charity. One very cold day, as they were riding, they met an old man in a thin, ragged coat.

“Poor old man!” said Henry, “would it not be a charity to give him a good, warm cloak?”

“It would, indeed.” said Becket: “you had better keep the matter in mind.”

“No, no; it is you that shall have the credit of this great act of charity,” said Henry, laughing. “Ha! old man, should you not like this nice, warm cloak?” and, with those words, he began to pull at the scarlet and gray mantle which the Chancellor wore. Becket struggled for it, and in this rough sport they were both nearly pulled off their horses, till the clasp gave way, and the King triumphantly tossed his prize to the astonished old man.

The Chancellor was in the habit of daily giving more costly gifts than these, both to rich and poor; gold and silver, robes and jewels, fine armor and horses, hawks and hounds—even fine new ships, were bestowed by him, from the wealth of the old merchant Gilbert, as well as from the revenues of his archdeaconry, and of several other benefices, which the lax opinions of his time caused him to think no shame to keep in his own hands.

We cannot call Thomas à Becket by any means a perfect character; but thoroughly conscientious he must ever have been, and very self-denying, keeping himself pure from every stain in the midst of the court, and guarding himself by strict discipline. He was found to be in the habit of sleeping on the bare boards beside his rich bed, and in secret he wore sackcloth, and submitted to the lash of penance. His uprightness and incorruptibility as a judge, his wisdom in administering the affairs of state, and his skill in restoring peace to England, made the reign of Henry Plantagenet a relief indeed to his subjects.

In almost every respect he lived like a layman. He hunted and hawked, and was found fault with by the Prior of Leicester for wearing a cape with sleeves, which it seems was an unclerical garment. The prior said it was more unsuitable in one who held so many ecclesiastical preferments, and was likely to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

To this Thomas answered: “I know three poor priests, each of whom I would rather see Archbishop than myself. If I had that rank, I know full well I must either lose the King’s favor, or set aside my duty to God.”

When Henry went to war with France respecting the inheritance of Eleanor of Aquitaine, his wife, his Chancellor brought to his aid seven hundred knights of his own household, besides twelve hundred in his pay, and four thousand foot soldiers. He fed the knights themselves at his own table, and paid them each three shillings a day for the support of their squires and horses; and he himself commanded them, wearing armor, and riding at their head. He kept them together by the sound of a long, slender trumpet, such as was then used only by his own band; and in combat he showed himself strong and dexterous in the use of lance and sword, winning great admiration and respect even from the enemy.

Henry resolved to come to a treaty, and to seal it by asking the King of France, Louis le Jeune, to give his daughter Margaret in marriage to Henry, the heir of England. Becket was sent on this embassy, and the splendor of his equipment was such as might become its importance.

Two hundred men on horseback, in armor or gay robes, were his immediate followers, and with them came eight waggons, each drawn by five horses, a groom walking beside each horse, and a driver and guard to every waggon, besides a large, fierce dog chained beneath each. The waggons carried provisions and garments, and furniture for the night: two were filled with ale for the French, who much admired that English liquor; another was fitted up as a kitchen, and another for a chapel. There were twelve sumpter horses carrying small articles, and on the back of each of these sat a long-tailed ape!

Dogs and hawks, with their attendants, accompanied the procession, the whole marshalled in regular order, and the men singing as they went; and the impression on the minds of all beholders was, “If such was the Chancellor, what must be the King?”

At Paris all these riches were given away, and so resolved was Becket to keep up his character for munificence, that he did not choose to be maintained at the expense of the French King; and when Louis, wishing to force him into being his guest, sent orders to the markets round to sell nothing to the English Chancellor, his attendants disguised themselves, and bought up all the provisions in the neighborhood. King Louis acquired a great esteem and admiration for the Chancellor, and willingly granted his request, betrothing Margaret, who was only seven years old, to Prince Henry. She, as well as her little husband, became Becket’s pupils, by desire of King Henry, and she, at least, never seems to have lost her attachment to him.

The time Becket dreaded came. The good, old, peaceable Archbishop Theobald died in 1162, and Henry, who was then at Falaise, ordered his Chancellor to England, ostensibly to settle a disturbance in the western counties, but in reality, as he declared in a private interview, that he might be elected to the primacy.

Becket smiled, and, pointing to his gay robes, said, “You are choosing a pretty dress to figure at the head of your monks of Canterbury. If you do as you say, my lord, you will soon hate me as much as you love me now, for you assume an authority in Church affairs to which I shall not consent, and there will be plenty of persons to stir up strife between us.”

Henry did not heed the warning, and King, Bishops, and the Chapter of Canterbury unanimously chose Becket as Archbishop, with only one reluctant voice, that of Gilbert Folliot, Bishop of London, who expected the same promotion himself. On Whit-Sunday Thomas received priest’s orders, and shortly after was consecrated Bishop by Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen. John of Salisbury, a priest of Becket’s household, and his intimate friend, was sent to Rome to ask for the pallium; and, bringing it home, laid it on the altar of Canterbury Cathedral, whence the Archbishop took it up.

The magnificent Archdeacon was expected by King Henry to lead the same life when Archbishop, and thus to secularize the Church. But Henry had mistaken his man. Clever and clear-sighted as the King was, seven years of transacting business together, and of familiar intercourse with the frank-hearted, free-spoken Thomas à Becket, had failed to make him conscious of the inner life and deep devotion, the mortification and uncompromising sense of duty, that was the true spring of his actions. It was no secret; Becket avowed it from the first; the King only did not see it, because he could not understand it.

Becket had too high an idea of the office of a bishop to unite the care of state affairs with it, and he at once resigned the chancellorship. Outwardly there was not much difference—he still kept a magnificent table, and entertained nobles and knights at his banquets; but his self-discipline was secretly carried to a far greater extent than before. He touched the wine-cup with his lips, to do honor to his guests, but his drink was water in which hay had been boiled; and though costly meats were placed before him, he hardly tasted them, and his chief food was bread. He doubled all the gifts that Archbishop Theobald had been wont to make to the poor convents and hospitals, and gave very large alms. Every day he washed the feet of thirteen beggars, then fed them, and gave them each four shillings. This was, in fact, considered as a religious duty, almost an obligation on certain occasions. It is a ceremony still performed by the Pope at Passion-tide; and Queen Elizabeth herself used to do so on Maundy Thursday. The gifts now distributed by the Queen on that day are a relic of the custom.

Archbishop Becket, when at Canterbury, often visited the cloisters, where he sat reading among the monks; and he often went to see and console the sick or infirm brethren, who were unable to leave their cells. He was much loved and respected by those who knew him best; but the nobles, who had usurped lands belonging to his see, dreaded his maintenance of his rights, and hoped for disagreements between him and the King—especially one Randolf de Broc, who wrongfully held the Castle of Saltwood, near Canterbury.

However, at the first meeting all was smooth. On the return of the court the Archbishop brought his pupil, Prince Henry, to meet his father at Southampton, and was received with great affection. The King embraced him eagerly, and spent much time apart with him, discussing all that had taken place in his absence.





CAMEO XX. THE CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON. (1163-1172.)

  King of England.
   1151. Henry II.

  King of Scotland.
   1165. William.

  King of France.
   1137. Louis VII.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1152. Friedrich II.

  Pope.
   1159. Alexander III.

The strife between the Crown and the Mitre was not long in breaking out again. The former strife had been on the matter of investiture; the strife of the twelfth century was respecting jurisdiction.

We sometimes hear the expression, “Without benefit of clergy,” and the readers of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel” cannot have forgotten William of Deloraine’s declaration,

  “Letter or line know I never a one,
  Were’t my neck-verse at Harribee.”
 

These are witnesses of the combat between Henry II. and Thomas à Becket. The Church, as bearing the message of peace, claimed to be exempt from the sword of the State. Her sacred buildings protected the criminal, the inhabitants of her lands were spared in war, and offences committed either by an ecclesiastic or against one, were not liable to be punished by the temporal power. This protection was extended not only over actually ordained clergymen, but all who held any office in connection with ecclesiastical affairs—all students, nay, all who were clerks enough to read and write. Thus the wild borderers, when made prisoners, escaped the halter by pretending to read a verse of the Miserere, which they had learnt by heart in case of such an emergency, and called their neck-verse; and “without benefit of clergy” was added to new laws, to prevent education from exempting persons from their power.

But this arose long after the battle had been fought and won; and it is not to be supposed, that the Church left offenders unpunished. Imprisonment, loss of rank, and penance, fell heavily on them, and it was only very hardened and desperate men who would die under excommunication rather than endure all that was required before they could be reconciled to the Church.

Henry II. had found the course of justice seriously impeded by these privileges of the clergy, and convoking a council at Westminster, in 1163, called on the bishops to consent that, as soon as a clerk should be proved guilty of a crime, he should be deprived of his orders, and handed over to receive punishment as a layman, at the hands of the King’s officer.

According to our views in the present day, this demand was just, but to the Church of the twelfth century it seemed an attempt to deprive her of powers committed to her trust; and considering the uncertainty of justice, and the lawless tyranny and cruelty often exercised by the sovereigns and nobles, the resistance made to Henry II. cannot be wondered at.

The bishops, however, first took the King’s view, and argued that a crime was worse in a clerk than in another, so that he deserved no immunity. To this Becket answered, that the loss of his orders was one penalty, and it was not right that he should be punished twice for the same offence. They said that the King would be displeased, and it would be better to give up their liberties than to perish themselves. This cowardly plea Becket treated no better than it deserved, and brought them over to his side, so that they all answered the King, that their duty forbade them to comply with his demand; Henry put the question in another form, asking them whether they would in all things observe the royal Constitutions of his ancestors. Becket replied, “We will in all things, saving the privileges of our order;” and so, one by one, said they all, except Hilary of Chichester, who was afraid, and left out the important restriction. But by this cowardice all he gained was the King’s contempt. Henry chose him as the one on whom to vent his passion, abused him violently, and quitted the council, in one of his furious fits of rage.

Thenceforth Henry was at war with Becket. One of his first acts of spite, was exiling the Archbishop’s friend, John of Salisbury, a faithful priest, and an excellent scholar, as his correspondence with his master remains to testify. It is curious to read his account of Paris. “The people here seem to enjoy abundance of everything; the Church ceremonies are performed with great splendor, and I thought, with Jacob, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not;’ also, in the words of the poet,

“‘Blessed is the banish’d man who liveth here.’

“The French are much afraid of our King Henry, and hate him most intensely; but this between ourselves.”

The Archbishop wrote to the Pope for counsel, but the King had strong influence at Rome, and the Pope only advised Becket to preserve peace; owning that what the King demanded was wrong, but recommending Becket to give way, and make friends, so that England might be once more at his beck and call.

For this policy Becket was far too straight-forward, and his perplexity was great, especially when the Archbishop of York, who had always been his enemy, the jealous and disappointed Gilbert Folliot of London, and the time-serving Hilary of Chichester, all declared themselves of the King’s party.

The Pope and his legate prevailed with Becket to consent to the Constitutions of the realm, without making any exception; the King said this must be done in public, and in January, 1164, convoked a council for the purpose at Clarendon, in Wiltshire.

The Constitutions were read, and proved to contain much that was contrary to the canons of the Church; they were discussed and commented on for three days, and then, to Becket’s surprise and dismay, he was required not only to agree to them by word of mouth, as he had already done, but to set his archiepiscopal seal to them. He rose, and exclaimed, much agitated, “I declare by God Almighty, that no seal of mine shall ever be set to such Constitutions as these.”

The King left the room in a fury, and great confusion ensued, of which we have no clear account. The nobles broke in on the bishops, and threatened them in the King’s name; the Grand Master of the Templars persuaded Becket, and it seems that his firmness in some degree gave way, though whether what he repented of was the sealing the Constitutions, or merely the promise he had given, we cannot tell. The assembly broke up, the King and each of the Archbishops taking a copy of the Constitutions.

Becket, as he rode away, lamented over what had passed, as his faithful friend and biographer, Herbert of Bosham, has recorded. “My sins are the cause why the Church of England is reduced to bondage,” he said. “I was taken from the court to fill this station, a proud and vain man; not from the cloister, nor from a school of the Saviour, but from the palace of Caesar. I was a feeder of birds, and I was suddenly made a feeder of men; I was a patron of players, and a follower of hounds, and I became a shepherd over many souls. I neglected my own vineyard, and yet was intrusted with the care of others.”

He fasted, and abstained from ministering at the altar, till he had received from the Pope a letter of absolution for his act of weakness; and as the Pope gave no ratification of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he did not consider them binding.

Henry shifted his ground, and, calling another Council at Northampton in 1164, brought various petty charges against the Archbishop. The first was, that a man named John Marshall had failed to obtain justice in his court. The truth was, that the man had been caught making oaths on a jest-book, instead of on the Gospels; and Becket, instead of coming himself to state this, sent four knights with letters explaining it.

For this neglect, as it was said, of the King’s summons, Becket was condemned to forfeit the whole of his personal property; and to this he submitted, but without appeasing the King, who went on to accuse him of taking the public money while Chancellor, when, as every one knew, he had spent far more largely than ever he had received in the King’s service. Not a person was there who did not know that his character stood far above such base charges; besides, an appointment to an ecclesiastical dignity was always supposed to clear from all former charges.

Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, brother of King Stephen, went to the King, and offered to pay the whole sum required of Becket; but he was not listened to, and the Bishops of Chichester and London plainly told the Archbishop, that what was aimed at was to force him to resign. The plain, blunt Bishop of Lincoln said, “The man’s life is in danger; he will lose it, or his bishopric; and what good his bishopric will do him without his life, I do not see.”

On the decisive day on which he was expected to submit to judgment, Archbishop Thomas rose early and celebrated mass; after which, arrayed in his pontifical dress, except his mitre and pall, he set out for the place of meeting, attended by his faithful clerks. He wished to have gone thither barefoot, and, bearing his cross, to have thrown himself at the feet of the King, and intercede with him for the liberties of the Church; but his clergy and the Templars persuaded him to relinquish this design, contrary to his own judgment. He returned to it again so far, that, on dismounting in the Castle court, he took his cross from Alexander Llewellyn, its bearer, and carried it himself into the hall. The Bishop of Hereford ran up to him, saying, “Suffer me, my lord, to carry the cross; it is better than that you should carry it yourself.”

“Nay, my son,” he answered, “suffer me to retain it, as the banner under which I fight.”

A French archdeacon, who was present, said to the Bishop of London, “My lord, do you allow the Archbishop to carry his own cross?”

“My good friend,” was Folliot’s rude reply, “he always was a fool, and will continue so to the end.”

But when all gave way before the majestic figure of the Archbishop, with the cross in his hand, Gilbert went up to him, and tried to snatch it away, telling him he was disturbing the peace; for the King would take the sword, and then the King and Archbishop would be matched against each other.

“So be it,” said Becket; “my cross is the sign of peace; the King’s sword is an instrument of war.”

He sat down to wait, while the other prelates were called to a consultation with the King in another apartment. His clerks sat round, and Herbert de Bosham said, “If they lay violent hands on you, you can excommunicate them all.”

“Far be that from our lord,” rejoined Fitzstephen, his secretary; “let him rather follow the pattern of the ancient confessors and martyrs, and pray for his enemies and persecutors.”

One of the King’s marshals touched Fitzstephen on the shoulder, telling him it was forbidden to speak to the Archbishop; upon which he glanced at his master, and pointed to the cross, to express what he was forbidden to say.

The King sat in his own chamber, and the bishops and barons were sent in turn with messages from him to the Archbishop. Becket appealed to the Pope, and the bishops, on their side, appealed against the Archbishop; and then the Earls of Leicester and Cornwall were sent to pronounce sentence on him; but instead of allowing them to proceed, he declared that the King had no right to call him to account for what had happened before he was Archbishop; for it had been expressly declared, when he was appointed, that he was freed from all former claims.

This was a point of view in which the Earls had not seen the case, and they said they must go back to the King. “One word more,” said Becket: “as the soul is more worthy than the body, so you are bound to obey God rather than the King. Can the son judge his father? I can receive no judgment from you or the King; the Pope alone, under God, is my judge. I place myself and my Church under his protection. I call the bishops, who have obeyed their King rather than God, to answer before his tribunal; and so, protected by the Holy Catholic Church and the power of the Apostolic See, I leave this court.”

He rose, followed by his clerks. Cries of abuse followed him; Ranulf de Broc shot straws at him, and a relation of the King reproached him with sneaking away like a traitor. “If I were a knight,” said the Archbishop, “my sword should answer that foul speech.”

It was only the King’s immediate followers that thus reviled him; the poor crowded after him in multitudes, so that he could hardly hold in his horse, carry the cross, which he still retained, and give his blessing to those who sought it. “See,” he said to his clerks, “what a glorious train escorts me home! These are the poor of whom Christ spake, partakers of my distress: open the door, and let us feast together!”

On coming to the monastery, they first went to the chapel, where he prayed, and laid down the cross; then went to the refectory to take food. In talking over the events of the day, he bade his clerks beware of retorting on their enemies the abuse that was poured on them. “To rail,” he said “is the mark of an inferior; to bear it, of a superior. If we would teach them to control their tongues, let us show that we control our ears.”

In the reading that evening, at supper, the text occurred, “If they persecute you in one city, flee to another.” This Becket took as direction for his course, and sent to ask the King for a safe-conduct to return to Canterbury. The King said he should have an answer to-morrow, which Becket and his clerks considered as a sign that his life was not safe. That night, therefore, he, with three of his clergy, mounted at the postern of the monastery, and rode off, in such torrents of rain, that four times he was obliged to cut off a portion of his long cloak to relieve himself of the weight. He made for Kent, travelling by night and hiding by day, for twenty days, till he reached the coast, and at Estrey was hidden for several days in a little secret chamber opening into the parish church, whence, at mass, he gave the blessing to the congregation, though they knew it not. At last a small open boat was procured, and, embarking on the 2d of November, 1164, he safely landed near Gravelines.

The county of Boulogne belonged to Mary de Blois, Stephen’s daughter. She had taken the veil at Romsey, when a girl; but on the death of her brothers, Eustace and William, became the heiress of her mother’s county of Boulogne, and had been stolen away and married, for the sake of her inheritance, by Matthew of Flanders. The Archbishop had opposed this marriage, and the count was therefore his enemy, so that he was obliged to pass through his territory in the disguise of a Cistercian monk, calling himself Brother Christian.

Twice he was in danger of discovery. The first time was when they met a party of young men hawking. Becket, who had never lost his admiration for the noble birds (for one of whom he had so nearly lost his life), showed so much interest in the falcons, that their owner, surprised at seeing so much sportsmanship in a monk, exclaimed, “You must be the Archbishop of Canterbury!” “What!” said another of the hawking party, “do you think the Archbishop travels in this sort?” And thus Becket was saved from being obliged to make answer. The next time was at supper, when they had reached the inn at Gravelines, where his great height and beautiful hands attracted attention; and the host, further remarking that he bestowed all the choicest morsels on the children, was convinced that this must be the English Archbishop, whose escape was already known on the Continent, and falling down at his feet, blessed the saints for bringing such a guest under his roof. Becket was much afraid the good man might unintentionally betray him, and left Gravelines early the next morning, on his way to the monastery of St. Bertin’s, at St. Omer. It is amusing to find Becket’s faithful clerks, on the Friday when they were to arrive at that hospitable convent, trying to coax their master to grant them leave, after their journey, to eat a little meat: “for, suppose there should be a scarcity of fish.” Here they were joined by Herbert de Bosham, who had been sent to Canterbury to collect such money and valuables as he could bring away.

Henry had in the meantime sent an embassy to desire the King of France not to shelter “the late Archbishop;” but it met with no favorable reception from Louis. “He is a noble-minded man,” said he; “if I knew where to find him, I would go with my whole court to meet him.”

“But he did much harm to France,” said the Earl of Arundel, “at the head of the English army.”

“That was his duty,” said Louis; “I admire him the more. If he had been my servant, he would have done the same for me.”

Nor did the embassy meet with much better success on going to Sens, where Pope Alexander III. then was. The Bishop of London began to abuse the Archbishop virulently, saying that he had fled, “as the Scripture saith. ‘The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth.’”

“Nay,” interrupted the Pope, “spare. I entreat you, spare—”

“I will spare him, holy father,” said Gilbert

“Not him, but yourself, brother,” said Alexander; and Gilbert was silenced.

Finding how favorably both Pope and King were disposed toward him, Becket left his retreat at St. Omer, and was received with much respect by Louis at Soissons, after which he proceeded to Sens. There he was treated with high honor by Alexander, and almost his first measure was to confess, with deep grief, that he considered his election uncanonical, “the handiwork of men, and not of God,” and that therefore these troubles had fallen on his Church. He therefore gave up his see; but the Pope would not accept his resignation, and assigned to him the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny as his dwelling-place. Here he remained two years, while the King persecuted his adherents and banished his kindred. Four hundred poor creatures were stripped of their goods, and turned adrift in Flanders, where they must have perished, had not the Count and the Empress Maude taken pity on them.





CAMEO XXI. DEATH OF BECKET. (1166-1172.)

  King of England.
   1154. Henry II.

  King of Scotland.
   1165. William.

  King of France.
   1137. Louis VII.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1152. Friedrich II.

  Pope.
   1159. Alexander III.

In 1166, Pope Alexander III. returned to Rome, after many vain attempts to reconcile the King and Archbishop, and it was determined that Becket should pronounce sentence of excommunication on the King and his chief followers in his uncanonical proceedings. Henry was at this time seriously ill, and Becket therefore did not include him under the sentence; the others were excommunicated, and this so exasperated Henry, that he intimated to the monks at Pontigny that he should seize all the possessions of the Cistercians in England, if they continued to harbor his enemy.

The poor monks were much distressed, and laid the letter before their guest, who could, of course, do no other than depart. “He who feeds the birds of the air, and clothes the lilies of the field, will provide for me and my fellow-exiles,” said he; and he soon after received an invitation from the King of France to choose any castle or convent in his dominions for his abode. He selected the Abbey of St. Columba, a little beyond the walls of Sens, and took leave of the brethren at Pontigny, with such a burst of tears that the abbot remarked them with surprise, and begged to know their cause. “I feel that my days are numbered,” said Becket; “I dreamt, last night, that I was put to death.”

“Do you think you are going to be a martyr?” said the abbot. “You eat and drink too much for that.”

“I know that I am too self-indulgent,” said the Arch bishop; “but God is merciful, albeit I am unworthy of His favor.”

Legates were sent by the Pope to negotiate, and many letters were written on either side, but without effect. The difference was said to lie in a nutshell; but where the liberties of the Church were concerned, Becket was inflexible. At the Epiphany, 1169, he was put to a severe trial; Henry himself, who had long been at war with Louis le Jeune, came to Montmirail, to hold a conference and sign a treaty, and he was summoned to attend it. By the advice of the legates and other clergy, Becket had agreed to give up the phrase which had formerly given the King so much offence at Clarendon, “Saving the privileges of my order,” but not without inserting in its stead an equivalent, “Saving the honor of God,” which, as being concerned in that of the Church, meant the same thing.

Yet on this the clergy of France, who were always extremely submissive to the crown, were by no means of Becket’s opinion, and tried so hard to persuade him, for the sake of peace, to suppress this clause altogether, and make no reservation, that the bold and faithful Herbert de Bosham began to fear he might give way, and, pressing through the crowd as the Archbishop was advancing to the presence of the two kings, he whispered in his ear, “Take heed, my lord—walk warily. I tell you truly, if you leave out the words, ‘Saving God’s honor,’ as you suppressed the other phrase, saving your own order, your sorrow will be renewed, and the more bitterly.”

The throng was so dense, that Becket could only answer him by a look, and he remained in great anxiety as he watched his master advance and throw himself at the feet of King Henry; then, when raised up by the King, begin to speak, accusing himself of being by his unworthiness, the cause of the troubles of the English Church. “Therefore,” said he, “I throw myself on your mercy and pleasure, my lord, on the whole matter that lies between us, only saving the honor of my God.

Henry burst out in rage and fury, heaping on Becket a load of abuse; declaring, to the King of France that this was all a pretence and that he himself was willing, to leave the Archbishop to the full as much power as any of his predecessors, but that he knew that, whatever the Archbishop disapproved, he would say was contrary to God’s honor. “Now,” said Henry, “there have been many kings of England before me, some of greater power than I am, some of less; and there have been many archbishops of Canterbury before him. Now let him behave to me as the holiest of his predecessors behaved to the least of mine, and I am satisfied.”

There was apparent reason in this, that brought over Louis to Henry’s side, and he said, rather insultingly, “My lord Archbishop, do you wish to be more than a saint?”

But Becket stood firm. He said there had indeed been holier and greater archbishops before him, each one of whom had corrected some abuse of the Church; and had they corrected all, he should not have been exposed to this fiery trial. Besides, the point was, that Henry was not leaving the Church as it had been under them, but seeking to bind a yoke on her that they had never borne. Almost all the French clergy and nobles were now against him; they called him obstinate and proud; the two kings mounted their horses and rode away together, without bidding him farewell; and some of the last words his clerks heard from the French nobles were, “He has been cast out by England; let him find no support in France.”

Dreading what might come next, and grievously disappointed in their hopes of returning to their homes, even his clerks were out of humor, and blamed his determination. As they rode back in the gloom toward St. Columba, the horse of one happened to stumble, and in his vexation he exclaimed, “Come up, saving the honor of the Church and my order.”

The Archbishop looked grieved, but was silent, and Herbert took this moment for riding up to him, and saying, “Heaven be praised, my lord, that through all to-day’s tribulation you have been sustained by the Lord, and have not suffered that slippery member to betray you into anything against the honor of God.”

The great ground of anxiety was the displeasure of Louis, who had hitherto not only allowed the exiles to take shelter in his dominions, but absolutely maintained them; and if he was won over by their persecutors, what was to become of them?

Their alarm increased as they heard nothing from him of his usual messages of kindness and friendship, and they were consulting together on their plans if they should be turned out of St. Columba.

“Never fear,” said the Archbishop; “I am the only person King Henry wishes to injure: if I go away, no one will molest you.”

“It is for you we are anxious,” they said; “we do not see where you can find refuge.”

“Care not for me,” he said: “my God can protect me. Though England and France are closed against me, I shall not be undone. I will not apply to those Roman robbers, who do nothing but plunder the needy. I have heard that the people who dwell on the banks of the Arar, in Burgundy, are open-handed. I will go among them, on foot, with one comrade, and they will surely have compassion on me.”

Just then a messenger came to desire the Archbishop to come to the lodgings of the French King.

“There! it is to drive us out of his kingdom,” said one of the clerks.

“Do not forebode evil,” returned Becket. “You are not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet.”

Becket could hardly have been prepared for the manner of his reception. Louis threw himself on his knees, crying out, “My father, forgive me; you were the only wise man among us. We were all blinded and besotted, and advised you to make God’s honor give way to a man’s will! I repent of it, my father, and entreat you to bestow on me absolution!”

Louis had been brought to this change of mind by a breach of promise on Henry’s part, but he never again wavered in his confidence and support of Becket.

In the November of the same year there was another interview between the two kings and Becket, at Montmartre, near Paris.

By this time, the Bishops of London and Salisbury had been excommunicated for disobedience to their primate; and Henry, expecting the same stroke to fall on himself, was resolved to put an end to the quarrel, and, bringing back Becket to his kingdom, to deal with him there as best he might.

Becket did not, by any means, trust the King’s intentions, and had written to ask the Pope what pledge for his security he had better require. Alexander answered, that it was not accordant with the character of an ecclesiastic to stipulate for such pledges, but that he had better content himself with obtaining from the King a kiss of peace.

Now this kiss Henry would not give. He said he had sworn an oath never to kiss the Archbishop, and this refusal immediately convinced every one that evil was intended. Louis and all the Archbishop’s friends concurred in advising him never to come to any terms without this seal of friend ship, and entirely on this ground the treaty was broken off. One of Becket’s clergy remarked, that the meeting had taken place on the spot where St. Denys was put to death, adding, “It is my belief that nothing but your martyrdom will insure peace to the Church.”

“Be it so,” said Becket; “God grant that she may be redeemed, even at the sacrifice of my life.”

He began to make up his mind that, since the King had given up the point at issue, he ought to allow no regard for his personal safety to keep him away from his flock; but just at this point the quarrel became further complicated. Henry, in dread of excommunication, resolved to have his son Henry crowned, to reign jointly with him, and the difficulty arose that no one could lawfully perform the coronation but the primate. Letters prohibiting the bishops from taking part in the coronation were sent by Becket, but, in the meantime, Gilbert Folliot had been appealing to Rome against his own excommunication. The Pope, who had been shuffling throughout, would not absolve him himself, but gave him letters to the Archbishops of Rouen and Nevers, and they granted him absolution; on which he returned triumphant to England, and joined with Roger of York and Hilary of Chichester in setting the crown on the head of young Henry. It was a measure which every person concerned in it had bitterly to rue—king, prince, bishops, every one, except Margaret, young Henry’s wife, who steadily avoided receiving the crown from any one but her old tutor and friend, the primate.

Pope and Archbishop both agreed that this contempt of prohibition must be visited by excommunication; and as Alexander had about this time effectually humbled the pride of the Emperor Frederick, Henry thought it time to submit, at least in appearance, lest his realm should be laid under an interdict. At Freitval, therefore, he met the Archbishop in the autumn of 1170, and all was arranged. He consented to the excommunication of those concerned in the coronation; he held Becket’s stirrup; he did everything but give the kiss of peace, but that he constantly avoided. Even when they went to church together at Tours, when, in the course of the communion service, Henry must have received the kiss from the Archbishop, he contrived to change the service to the mass for the dead, in which the kiss did not occur. The last time the King and Archbishop met was at Chaumont, near Blois, and here they had a return of old feelings, talked cheerfully and in a friendly manner, and Henry was so much touched by his remembrance of his happiest and best days, when his noble Chancellor was his friend and counsellor, that he exclaimed, “Why will you not do as I wish you? I would put all my affairs into your hands.”

But Becket told his clerks that he recollected, “All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

They parted for the last time, and Becket prepared for his return, after his seven years’ exile, sending before him letters from the Pope, suspending the Archbishop of York, and excommunicating the other bishops who had assisted at the coronation. At every step warnings met him that the English coast was beset with his foes, lying in wait to murder him; but he was resolved to proceed, and bold Herbert helped to strengthen his resolution by his arguments. On the 3d of December he set sail from the Boulogne coast. “There is England, my lord!” cried the rejoicing clerks.

“You are glad to go,” he said; “but, before forty days, you will wish yourself anywhere else.”

With extreme joy did the people of Sandwich see, for the first time for seven years, the archepiscopal cross, as it stood high above the prow of the ship. They thronged to receive their pastor and ask his blessing, and in every village through which he passed the parish priest came forth, with cross or banner, his flock in procession behind him, and the bells pealing merrily, while the road was strewed with garlands.

At Canterbury the joy was extreme; anthems were sung in all the churches, and the streets resounded with trumpets and the shouts of the people in their holiday robes. The Archbishop rode through the midst, saluted each of the monks of Christ Church on the cheek, and then went straight to his own cathedral, where his greeting to his flock was a sermon on the text, “Here we have no abiding city.”

After taking possession of his palace, Becket set out to London to visit his pupil, the young King, taking him a present of a fine horse; but he was not allowed to see him, and the courtiers threatened him severely, because of the rejoicings of the citizens of London. At home he was much annoyed by his old enemy, Ranulf de Broc, who from Saltwood Castle made forays on all that were going to the archiepiscopal palace, stole his baggage, and cut off the tail of one of the poor horses that carried it.

The bishops who had been placed under the censures of the Church were, meanwhile, in violent anger. Roger of York said he had 8,000 crowns in his coffers, and would spend every one of them in beating down Thomas’s insolence: and together they all set out to make their complaints to the King, who was at Falaise.

It would seem that Henry either forgot, or did not choose to tell them, of the permission he had given Becket at Freital, and he went into a passion, saying, if all who were concerned in the coronation were to be excommunicated, he ought to be one. The Archbishop of York talked of patience and good contrivance. “What would you have me do?” said Henry.

“Your barons must advise you,” said one of the bishops (which, is not known); “but as long as Thomas lives, you will never be at peace.”

Henry’s eyes flashed. “A curse,” cried he, “on all the false varlets I have maintained, who have left me so long subject to the insolence of a priest, without attempting to rid me of him!”

A council of the barons was called, and Henry found them willing enough to advise him as he wished. “The only way to deal with such a fellow,” said one, “is to plait a few withe in a rope, and have him up to a gallows.” In the midst of the council, however, it was observed that four of the King’s knights were missing—Reginald Fitzurse, William Tracy, Hugh Morville, and William Brito. It was remembered that they had heard the King’s words about the insolent priest, and, becoming alarmed for the consequences, Henry sent off the Earl of Mandeville, and some others, with orders to overtake them, and arrest the Archbishop.

The four knights had held a hasty council, after which they set out separately, agreeing to meet in Saltwood Castle, where they were sure of assistance in their designs from Randolf de Broc. They reached it on Innocents’ day, and the next day set out for Canterbury, accompanied by several of the Broc family and their armed retainers. In the meantime, Becket had been keeping Christmas, and preaching his last sermon on the text, “Peace on earth, good-will to men.” He had sent away his cross-bearer, Alexander Llewellyn, and his high-minded friend, Herbert de Bosham, with letters to the Pope—perhaps because he was afraid that Herbert’s boldness might bring him into peril; and he was sitting in his own chamber writing, when the four knights arrived, and desired to speak with him.

He received them with his clergy about him, and they began to threaten him in the name of the King, and order him to leave the kingdom. He must fully have understood the meaning of all this; but he stood firm, and quietly answered all their railing. They then told him his doings should recoil on his own head; and on his replying that he was ready to suffer martyrdom, they noisily left the room, Fiturse shouting out, “Ho! clerks and monks, in the King’s name seize that man, and keep him till justice is done.”

“You will find me here,” answered Becket, standing by the door.

The knights had gone back to arm themselves and join their retainers. In the meantime the terrified clergy fastened all the doors of the monastery, and besought the Archbishop to take shelter in the church; but he seemed the only person present who had no fear, and replied that he would not flee—he would remain where he was. At last he was persuaded to come into church, as it was the hour for vespers, and set off, with the cross borne before him.

“My lord! my lord! they are arming!” cried one frightened monk; and another brought word that they were upon them—Robert de Broc having shown them the way through the orchard. Still Becket was calm; and as the monks tried to drag him into the church, he stood at the door, saying, “Go on with the holy service. As long as you are afraid of death, I will not enter.”

They proceeded, and he advanced up the aisle. As he was going up the steps to the altar, there was a rush of monks into the church; for Reginald Fitzurse, with a drawn sword, had just come through the cloister door, the other murderers following. Becket turned, on seeing the monks trying to bolt and bar the church doors. “It is not right,” said he; “to make a fortress of the house of prayer. It can protect its own, even if its doors are open. We shall conquer our enemies by suffering, not by fighting.”

The vespers ceased; the clergy threw themselves on the altars for protection; the Archbishop stood alone with one canon, with Fitzstephen and Edward Grim, a priest who had come to visit him. In rushed the band of armed men, crying out, “Where is the traitor, Thomas Becket?” To this he made no answer; but when the cry was, “Where is the Archbishop?” he came down the steps, saying, “Here I am; no traitor, but a priest of the Lord. What would you of me?”

“Absolve those you have excommunicated.”

“They have not repented, and I will not.”

“Then you shall die.”

“I am ready, for the Lord’s sake; but, in the name of Almighty God, I forbid you to harm these, whether priests or laymen.”

“Flee, or you are a dead man!” cried one, striking him with the back of his sword, and unwilling, apparently, to slay him in the church. They tried to push him away from the pillar against which he was standing, but in vain. Becket was a tall, powerful man, expert in the use of weapons. Had he snatched a sword from one of these, he might have saved his life; but temporal arms he had long since laid aside, and he only stood still, clasped his hands in prayer, and commended his soul to his God. Reginald Fitzurse began to fear the people might break in to his rescue, and struck a blow which wounded his head, as well as the arm of Edward Grim, who fled to the altar; but Becket did not move hand or foot—only, as the blood flowed from his face, he said, “In the name of Christ, and for the defence of the Church, I am ready to die.” Tracy struck him again twice on the head: he staggered, and, as he was falling, the fourth stroke, given by Brito, cleft off the top of his skull with such violence, that the sword broke against the pavement.

The murderers, after making sure of his death, left the church; the monks took up his corpse, unwounded, save the crown of his head, which was shattered to pieces above his tonsure, and laid it out on the high altar, deeming that he had indeed been a sacrifice, and weeping as they beheld the beauty of his peaceful expression, as if he had calmly fallen asleep. They folded outward the haircloth shirt he had always worn secretly; and as the blood still trickled from the wound, it was caught in a dish.

The threats of Randolf de Broc obliged them to bury him in haste the next morning; and they were strictly forbidden to place his coffin among those of the former archbishops—a command which they obeyed, from the dread that otherwise his remains might be insulted. They had not long to fear. Europe rang with horror at the crime, and admiration, rather than compassion, for the victim. No one was more shocked than the King himself, who was at Bure, in Normandy, when the news reached him. For three days he remained shut; up in his room, taking no food, and seeing no one, in an agony of grief and dismay at the consequence of his hasty words, and dwelling on those days of early friendship which he had passed with the murdered Becket. Not till these first paroxysms of grief were over was he even able to think of the danger he was in; and he then sent off an embassy to explain to the Pope how far he was from intending the bloody deed, and to entreat forgiveness.

He was at a loss how to treat the murderers. He could not punish what his own words had been supposed to authorize, and he dared not let them escape, lest he should be supposed to be their defender. He therefore let them reap the benefit of the liberties for which Becket had died: their crime was done on the person of a clerk; therefore it was left to the censures of the Church.

They had, in the meantime, fled to Morville’s Castle, in Cumberland, where they found themselves regarded with universal execration; their servants shrank from their presence, and, in the exaggerations of tradition, it was said that the very dogs would not approach them.

Overwhelmed with remorse, they set out for Italy, and dreaded and avoided, as if they bore a mark like the first “murderer and vagabond,” they threw themselves at the feet of the Pope, and entreated to know what they should do to obtain mercy. He ordered them to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; and they all went except Tracy, who, lingering behind, was seized with a dreadful illness, and died at Cosenza. The others all died within three years, with deep marks of penitence, and were buried before the door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Henry obtained pardon from the Pope on giving up all attempts at subjecting the Church to the law of the State, and on giving a large sum of money to maintain 200 knights for three years in the Holy Land. He also largely endowed Mary and Agnes Becket, the Archbishop’s sisters, with possessions in his newly-conquered domain in Ireland; and one of them became the ancestress of the noble family of Butler, Earls of Ormonde.

The cathedral at Canterbury had, in the meantime, been sprinkled with holy water, to purify it from the crime of sacrilege and murder there committed, and for which it had been a whole year left neglected, and without the celebration of Divine service. On its reopening, gifts poured in from all quarters, in honor of the Archbishop, and it was repaired and beautified to a great degree. The beautiful circular chapel at the east end was named Becket’s Crown, and the spot by the north transept, where he fell, was termed The Martyrdom. Reports of miracles having been performed at his intercession were carried to Rome, and Pope Alexander canonized him as St. Thomas of Canterbury. The next year, 1174, Henry II., who was broken down with grief at the rebellion of his sons, rode from Southampton to Canterbury without resting, taking no food but bread and water, entered the city, and walked through the streets barefoot to the cathedral, and into the crypt, where he threw himself prostrate on the ground, while Gilbert Folliot preached to the people.

In the chapter-house Henry caused each of the clergy present, to the number of eighty, to strike him over the shoulders with a knotted cord, and afterward spent the whole night beside the tomb. He heard mass the next morning, and returned to London.

A few years after, Louis VII. came to pray at the tomb of his friend for the recovery of his son Philippe Auguste, who was ill of a fever. He made splendid gifts to the cathedral, and in especial a very large diamond, and a golden cup. In Italy Thomas was equally honored. William the Good, of Sicily, who married Joan, daughter to Henry II., placed a colossal statue of St. Thomas of Canterbury in his new foundation, the Church of Monreale; and at Agnani there is still preserved a richly-embroidered cope, presented by Pope Innocent III., bearing thirty-six different scenes in delicate needlework, and among them the death of the English Archbishop. There are also many German and French representations of the subject; the murderers, in the more ancient ones, carefully distinguished by their shields: Morville, fretty fleur-de-lis; Tracy, two bars gules; Brito, three bears, heads muzzled; Fitzurse, three bears passant.

In Henry III.‘s reign a new shrine was built at Canterbury, and the Archbishop’s relics were thither translated. No saint in England was more popular than St. Thomas of Canterbury, and frequent pilgrimages were made to his shrine. The Canterbury Pilgrims of Chaucer are thither journeying, and Simon of Sudbury, the archbishop killed by Wat Tyler’s mob, is said to have made himself unpopular by rebuking the superstition that made the ignorant believe in the efficacy of these pilgrimages.

Then came the reaction. Henry VIII., little able to endure such a saint as Becket, sent the spoilers to Canterbury. Lord Cromwell burnt his relics, and carried off the treasures of gold and jewels, which filled two chests, so heavy that six or eight men were wanted to carry each of them. Henry wore Louis VII.‘s diamond in a ring. The costly shrine was destroyed, and the pavement, worn by the knees of the pilgrims, alone remained to show where Becket’s tomb had been. In London, the house of Gilbert à Becket, in Southwark, where the Saracen lady had ended her toilsome journey, and where Thomas had been born, had, in Henry III.‘s reign, been made a hospital; Edward VI. granted it for the same use; and thus it still remains, by its old name of St. Thomas’s Hospital, which perhaps would not so generally be given it, if it were known after what saint it was so called. His likeness was destroyed in every church and public building, so that but one head of St. Thomas à Becket is known to exist in England—namely, one in stained glass, at the village of Horton, in Ribblesdale—and even in missals and breviaries it was defaced.

No one has met with more abuse than Becket, ever since the Reformation. Proud, ostentatious, hypocritical, and rebellious—these are the terms usually bestowed on him. How far he deserves them, may be judged from a life detailed with unusual minuteness by three intimate companions, none of them treating him as faultless. Of the rights of the struggle we will not speak. No one can doubt that Becket gave his life for the cause which, in all sincerity, he deemed that of the Church against the World.

The fate of the murderers has been questioned in later times. It is said that they died at home, in peace and fair prosperity; but the evidence on either side is nearly balanced.





CAMEO XXII. THE CONQUEST OF IRELAND. (1172)

Few histories are more strange and confused than the Irish. The inhabitants of Ierne, or Erin, as far as anything credible can be discovered about them, were of three different nations, who had in turn subdued the island before the beginning of history. These were the Tuath de Dunans, the Firbolg, and the Scots, or Milesians. Who the two first were, we will not attempt to say, though Irish traditions declare that some of them were there before the Flood, and that one Fintan was saved by being transformed into a salmon, and so swimming about till the water subsided, after which he resumed the human form, and lived so long that the saying was, “I could tell you much, if I was as old as Fintan.”

The Milesians are not much behind their predecessors in their claim, for they say they are descended from a son of Japhet, and first discovered writing, and all the arts commonly said to have been derived from Egypt, but which they assert were carried thither by one Neill, who gave his name to the river Nile, as well as to his sons, all the O’Neills of Ireland.

It is more certain that these Milesians were Kelts, and were in early times called Scots. A colony of them conquered the Picts; drove the Caledonians into Galway, and gave North Britain, or Albin the name of Lesser Scotland, while their own country, or Greater Scotia, returned to its former name of Erin, called by the Romans Hibernia, and by the English, Ireland.

The Erse tongue is nearly the same as the Gaelic, and there was much in the Irish and Highland institutions showing their common origin. The clan system prevailed in Ireland, the clans being called Septs, and all having, as a surname, the name of the common ancestor. His representative, the chief, was known as the Carfinny; but the succession was not determined by the rules of primogeniture. It was always in one family, but the choice was made by election of the next heir. When a Carfinny died, another came into office who had been chosen on his accession as heir, or Tanist, and at the same time another Tanist was chosen to succeed him as Carfinny at his death. The land was the property of the tribe, divided into holdings; and whenever the death of a considerable proprietor took place, there was a fresh allotment of the whole, which, of course, as well as the choice of a Tanist, set the whole population at war.

There were four kingdoms—Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught—to which the chiefs succeeded by tanistry, besides Meath, another kingdom which always belonged to the principal king, or Toparch, who was in like manner elected as Tanist on each new accession; and the number of battles and murders among these wild Irish princes is beyond all estimate. Out of 178 kings, 71 were slain in battle, and 60 murdered.

Christianity was brought to Ireland about the year 400, by St. Colman and St. Patrick. It does not seem to have materially softened the manners of the people at large, whose wars went on as fiercely as ever; but the churches were seats of peace and learning, whence teachers went forth in numbers into Gaul, and among the heathen Saxons of England. The Roman calender shows so many names of Irish hermits, priests, and nuns, that we do not wonder Erin once was known as the Isle of Saints.

The Northmen made their cruel inroads on Ireland, and swept away much of the beginnings of civilization. Turges, a Danish chief, was, in 815, King of all Ireland; and having forced Melachlin, or Malachy, King of Meath, to give up his daughter to him, Melachlin sent with her, in the disguise of female attendants, sixteen young men armed with skeynes, or long knives. They killed Turges, and brought the princess back to her father, who was waiting in ambush at no great distance with his armed men, set upon the Danes, defeated them, and, being joined by the other Irish princes, destroyed them all.

It is said that shortly before, Melachlin, when at the court of Turges, had told him that Ireland was full of a kind of foul, ravenous bird, and asked his advice how to get rid of them; to which Turges answered, that he had better destroy the nests—eggs, nestlings, and all—counsel which the Irish hardly needed; and the massacre of the Danish raven’s brood was frightful.

During the lull brought about by Alfred’s conquests, the Irish enjoyed the halcyon days remembered as those of Malachy with the collar of gold (which he had torn from the neck of a conquered Dane), and those of Brien Boromhe, or Boru, the great Brien, in whose reign a maiden, though

  “Rich and rare were the gems she wore,”
    travelled safely round the Green Isle unprotected,
   save by “Erin’s honor and Erin’s pride.”
 

But when England suffered again, Ireland shared its fate, and, in 1004, Brien Boru, at the age of eighty-eight, perished in the great battle of Clontarf, with his eldest son Morogh, and the Danes gained a permanent settlement, besides making endless forays on the coast. King Olaf Trygvesson, of Norway, conducted one of these descents; and while driving off a large herd of cattle, a peasant so piteously entreated to have his own cows restored, that the king told him he might take them, if he could tell at once which they were, but that he must not delay the march. The peasant said his dog knew them, and sent the animal into the midst of the herd, which consisted of several hundreds, when he drove out just the number his master had asked, and all bearing the same mark. The King desired to purchase the intelligent animal, but the man begged that he would take it as a gift; on which Olaf presented him with a gold ring, and kept and valued the faithful Vige as “the best of dogs” for many years after.

Turlogh, the contemporary of the Conqueror, seems to have been prosperous, since his subjects were rich enough to buy the unfortunate English, who were sold for slaves, till St. Wulstan put a stop to the traffic.

Morogh O’Brien, of Leinster, sent to William Rufus bog oak from the green of Oxmanton, on the Liffey, to serve for the timber of the roof of Westminster Hall; and this wood, enjoying the universal Irish exemption from vermin, is said never to harbor a spider. Morogh was once told that William Rufus intended to make a bridge of his ships, and conquer Ireland. After some musing, Morogh asked, “Hath the King, in his great threatening, said, ‘If it please God?’” “No!” “Then, seeing he putteth his trust only in man, and not in God, I fear not his coming.”

Morogh was a peaceable man. Magnus, the Norse King of Man, by way of defiance, sent him his shoes, ordering him to hang them on his shoulders on Christmas-day, as he passed through his hall. The Irish were, of course, much enraged at the insult offered to their master, but Morogh only laughed at the folly of the conceit, saying, “I will not only bear his shoes, but I had rather eat them, than that he should destroy one province in Ireland.” Magnus did not, however, give up his purpose of invasion, but was killed in reconnoitring the coast. Morogh was murdered at Dublin about 1130, and thenceforward all was dire confusion.

The Irish Church had never been decidedly under the dominion of Rome, and the Popes, in the divided state of the country, obtained neither money nor obedience from it. They thought much advantage might be gained if it were under the rule of England; and in 1154, Adrian IV., assuming that all islands were at the disposal of the Church, gave Henry II. a bull, authorizing him to become Lord of Ireland, provided he would establish the Pope’s authority there. However, the Irish, not being likely readily to receive their new Lord, and Henry having full occupation at home, allowed his grant to rest in oblivion till circumstances arose to enable him to avail himself of it.

Dermod MacMorogh, King of Leinster, a cruel savage, who had barbarously revenged the death of his father, the good Morogh, had, in the year 1152, stolen away Devorghal, the wife of Tigheirnach O’Rourke, Prince of Breffny. The toparch, Turlogh O’Connor, was the friend of O’Rourke, and forced Dermod to make restitution, but the husband and lover, of course, remained bitter enemies; and when O’Connor died, the new chieftain, O’Lachlan, being on the side of Dermod, O’Rourke was severely oppressed, till the tables were turned by O’Lachlan being killed, and Roderick O’Connor, the son of Turlogh, becoming toparch. Thereupon Leinster was invaded in 1167, and Dermod was obliged to flee, setting fire to his capital at Ferns. He hastened to Henry II. in Normandy, and offered his allegiance, provided the King would restore him. But Henry was too much engaged in his disputes with France to attend to the matter, and all Dermod could obtain was a letter permitting the English knights to take up his cause, if they were so inclined.

With these letters Dermod sought the fierce Normans whose estates bordered on Wales. The first who attended to him was Richard de Clare, son of the Earl of Pembroke, and surnamed Strongbow—a bold, adventurous man, ruined by his extravagance, and kept at a distance by the King on account of his ambition. To him Dermod offered the hand of his daughter Eva, and the succession of Leinster, provided he would recover for him the kingdom. Richard accepted, but thought it prudent to obtain the King’s special permission; and in the meantime, Dermod, by his promises, further engaged in his cause a small band of other knights—Robert Fitzstephen, Maurice Fitzgerald, Milo Fitzhenry, Hervé de Montmarais, and some others. In May, 1169, thirty knights, sixty men-at-arms, and three hundred archers, landed at the Creek of Bann, near Wexford, to conquer Ireland.

They first besieged Wexford, and took it; then attacked the Prince of Ossory, and gained a great victory; after which they had full opportunity of seeing of what a savage they had undertaken the defence, for Dermod mangled with his teeth the face of his chief foe among the slain, to gratify his revenge.

However, they fought not for the right, but for the spoil; and when Roderick O’Connor sent to declare war against them, and inform them of the true character of their ally, they returned a scornful answer; and, with their heavy armor and good discipline, made such progress against the half-armed Irish kernes, that Richard Strongbow saw the speculation was a good one, and was in haste for his share. He went to the King, to beg him either to give him his inheritance, or to grant him leave to seek his fortune in other lands. “Go where thou wilt, for what I care,” said Henry. “Take Daedalus’s wings, and fly away.”

Taking this as sufficient consent, Strongbow sent before him 3,000 men under his friend Raymond le Gros, and, landing on St. Bartholomew’s day, joined his forces with Dermod, took Waterford, and in a few days was married to Eva. The successes of the English continued, and on the death of Dermod, which took place shortly after, he declared Earl Richard his heir. However, the vassals would not submit to the Englishman, and the invaders were for a time hard beset, and found it difficult to keep the enemy at bay, while the King in great displeasure peremptorily summoned Strongbow to return, and forbade men, horses, or arms to be sent to his aid. On this Richard found himself obliged to make his peace with the King, sending Raymond le Gros and Hervé de Montmarais before him. The King was at Newnham, in Gloucestershire, and at first refused to see him, but soon relented; and Richard, on entering his presence, threw himself on his knees, and gave up to him the city of Dublin, and all other towns and castles on the coast, after which Henry confirmed him in the possession of the rest of Leinster, and made him Seneschal of Ireland, though at the same time confiscating his castles in Pembrokeshire, because his expedition had been unsanctioned. In October of the next year, 1172, Henry himself came to Ireland, with 500 knights and 4,000 men-at-arms. The Irish princes felt that it was needful to submit to such power, nor was it with much reluctance on the part of the toparchs, who had some pride in being under the sway of the mighty Henry Fitzempress, rather than that of the petty chieftain of Meath.

Henry professed not to come as a conqueror, but in consequence of the Pope’s grant, and soon received the submission of all the toparchs of Leinster and Munster. Roderick O’Connor himself did not hold out, though he would not come to the King, and only met Hugo de Lacy and William Fitz Adhelm on the Shannon, where he swore allegiance, but, as appeared afterward, with a mental reservation—Connaught he was willing to hold under Henry, but Ireland he neither could nor did yield up.

Henry invited all these new subjects of his to keep Christmas with him at Dublin, where he entertained them in a temporary structure of wicker-work, outside the gates; and after receiving their homage, he gave them a banquet of every kind of Norman delicacy, among which were especially noticed roasted cranes—a food hitherto held in abhorrence by them, so that partaking of it was a sort of pledge that they were about to forsake their peculiar and barbarous habits. They are said to have been much impressed by the splendor of Henry’s gold and jewels, the rich robes of his court, and the chivalrous exercises of the knights and nobles. Afterward he held a synod of the Irish clergy at Cashel, where he caused the bull of Adrian to be read, and regulations were made for the Church, requiring the priests to catechize children and baptize them, enforcing the payment of tithes, and the performance of Divine service, as well as that corpses should receive Christian burial. Henry had intended to subject Ireland to English law, but the danger in which he had been involved by the murder of Becket obliged him to return at Easter, before his arrangements were completed. The lands settled by the Normans around Dublin, which were called the English pale, were alone under English laws; besides five septs—the O’Neills, the O’Connors, the O’Briens, the O’Lachlans, and the MacMoroghs—all the rest were under the Brehon, or Irish law; and an injury, or even murder done by an Englishman on one of the Irish, was to be atoned for by a fine according to this code.

Hugo de Lacy, [Footnote: The readers of “The Betrothed” will here recognise a friend.] constable of Chester, an old, experienced warrior, much trusted by the King, was made governor of Ireland with a grant of the county of Meath. Shortly after, Oraric, a chieftain of that territory, invited De Lacy to a conference on the hill of Tara, whither each party was to come unarmed. The night before the meeting young Griffith, the nephew of Maurice Fitzgerald, dreamt that he saw a herd of wild boars rush upon his uncle and Hugo de Lacy, and tear them to pieces with their tusks. Treating this dream as a warning, he chose seven tall men of his own kindred, armed them well, and, leading them near the place of conference, began to career about with them as if in chivalrous exercises, always watching the assembly on the hill.

After a time Oraric retired a few steps from the rest, and made a sign, on which an Irishman came forward and gave him his weapons. He instantly fell upon Hugo de Lacy, and would have cloven his skull, if the interpreter had not thrown himself between, and saved his master, with the loss of his own arm. Oraric’s men sprung from their ambush, but at the same moment the eight Fitzgeralds rushed to the rescue; the traitor fled, pursued by Griffith, who overtook him, thrust him through with a lance, cut off his head, and sent it to King Henry.

Hugo de Lacy kept tolerable order until the King recalled him in the troubles occasioned by the rebellion of the young princes, when trusty friends were scarce. Earl Strongbow became governor, and was at once more violent and less firm in the restraint of English and Irish. He quarrelled with Raymond le Gros for presuming to gain the affections of his sister Basilia, and took from him the command, conferring it on Hervé de Montmarais, a person much disliked. Raymond went home to Wales, to receive his inheritance, on his father’s death; and the Irish, as old Campion’s history says, rose “tagge and ragge;” headed by Roderick O’Connor. They be sieged Waterford and Dublin; and Strongbow, in distress, wrote to Raymond: “As soon as you read this, make all the haste you can, bring all the help you can raise, and you shall have what you have so long desired.” No further summons was needed; and just as Waterford was on the point of being taken, and the wild Irish were about to massacre the English, Raymond, with twenty ships, sailed into the harbor, dispersed the Irish, relieved Dublin, and in his full armor wedded the Lady Basilia. The very next morning he pursued the Irish; he took Limerick, and reduced Roderick to come to a final peace with the King, to whom that prince sent messengers, disdaining to treat with Strongbow.

Montmarais, being displaced, went in revenge to the King, and maligned Raymond, so that Henry empowered commissioners to inquire into his conduct, and send him home. Just as he was departing, the O’Briens of Thomond broke out in insurrection, and besieged Limerick; the troops refused to march unless under Raymond, and the commissioners were obliged to send him to chastise the rebels. He pushed his conquests into Desmond, and established his good fame. During his absence Earl Strongbow died, leaving, by Eva, one daughter named Isabel, who, being of tender age, became the ward of the Crown. It is said that he also had a son by a former wife, and that this youth, being seized with a panic in a battle with the Irish, was afterward stricken through with a sword by his command, though given with streaming tears. He was buried at Dublin, with an epitaph recording his cowardice.

The friends of Montmarais were resolved to let no tidings of Strongbow’s death reach Raymond, that so they might first gain the ear of the King, and prevent him being made governor. They turned back all the servants, and intercepted all the letters sent to him with the news, till they were outwitted by Lady Basilia. She wrote a letter to her husband, with no word of her brother, but full of household matters; among others, that she had lost the “master tooth which had been so long ailing, and she sent it to him for a token.” The tooth was “tipped with gold and burnished featly,” but Raymond knew it was none of his lady’s; and gathering her meaning, hurried home, and was made Protector of Ireland till the King’s pleasure should be known. Henry sent as governor William Fitz Adhelm, a selfish voluptuary, under whose command all went ill; and, indeed, the English rule never prospered except when in the hands of good old Hugo de Lacy, under whom “the priest kept his church, the soldier his garrison, and the ploughman followed his plough.” But Henry, who was constantly tormented by jealousies of his Anglo-Irish nobles, was perpetually recalling him on suspicion, and then finding it necessary to send him back again. He built many castles, and, while fortifying that of Dernwath, was entreated by some of the Irish to allow them to work for hire. Glad to encourage any commencement of industry, he took a pickaxe to show them how to work; when one of them, seizing the moment when he bent forward to strike with it, cleft his head with an axe, and killed him on the spot. His less worthy nephew and namesake succeeded to his Irish estates, and at times held the government.

King Henry intended Ireland as the inheritance of his son John, and in 1185 wrote to request the Pope to grant him the investiture. Urban returned a favorable answer, and with it a crown of peacock’s feathers set in gold—a more appropriate present than he intended for the feather-pated prince, who was then sixteen years of age, and who, having been knighted by his father, set off for Dublin, accompanied by a train of youths of his own age, whom the steadier heads of the good knight Philip Barry, and his clerkly relative Gerald, were unable to keep in order. This Gerald Barry was the historian commonly known as Giraldus Cambrensis, to whom we are chiefly indebted for the account of the conquest of Ireland. The Irish chiefs of Leinster flocked to pay their respects, but were most improperly received by John and his friends, who could not restrain their mirth at their homely garb, and soon proceeded to gibes and practical jokes; pricking them with pins, and rapping them on the head with a stick as they bent to pay homage, tweaking their ample mantles, and pulling their long beards and moustaches, all as if they had studied to enrage this proud and sensitive people. These were the Irish of the friendly country; and when those of more distant and unsubdued regions heard what treatment they had met, they turned back, and soon broke out in insurrection. John and his gay companions did not stay to meet the storm they had raised, but hastily fled to England, and the King wrote to Sir John de Courcy to take the government, and do his best to restore obedience.

It is round this De Courcy that the interest of the Irish wars chiefly centres. [Footnote: This history of De Courcy is derived from an old life of him by an Irish priest, which is disputed by many historical authorities] In his youth, while serving the King in Normandy, he had made friends with Sir Almeric Tristrem, and, in true chivalrous style, the two knights plighted their faith in the Church of our Lady at Rouen, to be sworn brethren-in-arms, to live and die for each other, and to divide equally whatever they might gain in war. Their friendship was never broken till death, and their whole career was one of perfect chivalry. Almeric became the husband of his friend’s sister, and in honor of this closer alliance changed his surname to De St. Laurence, their wedding-day being the feast of that Saint. The two brethren-in-arms came into Ireland with Henry in 1172, and De Courcy received a grant of Ulster, when he could conquer it. Sir Almeric at once landed at Howth, and fought a bloody battle, in which he gained the victory, but with the loss of seven of his kindred, and for that reason Howth was made his portion, and long remained in his family. At the battle of Daud, fought with Roderick O’Connor, the two friends, with seven hundred men, were again victorious, owing to a timely charge of Almeric’s with his reserve of forty horse. The next midsummer another battle took place, with the same result, though Sir Almeric was so sorely wounded that he was found lying, faint and bleeding, under a hedge, eating honeysuckles by way of cure, and his son Nicholas received nine wounds, and was left for dead. These successes made the Irish submit, and De Courcy was acknowledged as their feudal chief. He proceeded to build castles, and granted two of them to one MacMahon, who had made every promise of fidelity. Within a month, De Courcy heard that the castles were pulled down, and, on his calling his refractory vassal to account, received a truly Irish answer: MacMahon said he had not promised to hold stones, but land, and it was contrary to his nature to couch within cold stones, when the warm woods were so nigh.

De Courcy proceeded to foray his land, and was driving off a great herd of cattle, when a host of Irish set on him, and by their shouts so frightened the cows, that they ran on the English, and more were killed by being trodden down by them than were slain by the Irish; and De Courcy and De St. Laurence with difficulty collected the remnant in a little fort. At night Almeric went out to survey the enemy, and reported that there were five thousand feasting and drinking at no great distance. If they should fall on the wearied, hungry, and wounded English the next day, they would make them an easy prey, and he therefore advised a night-attack, to take them by surprise. The English sat silent, looking at each other, til Sir John de Courcy spoke: “I looked all this while for some of these young gallants to deliver their courage; but, Sir Almeric, where are their horses bestowed?”

“Your white horse and my black,” said Sir Almeric, “I have cunningly conveyed away, and the rest I can point out to you with my finger.”

“Then,” said Sir John, “let two men ride these two horses, gather their horses together, and drive them in on the enemy; then, all who can bear arms shall follow, and we will serve them with their horses as they did us with our kine.”

The stratagem was completely successful; the Irish were entirely routed with great slaughter, while the English lost only two—though the preceding day had lost them four hundred men.

By six battles, altogether, Sir John established his power, and he then received from Henry the rank of Earl of Ulster. He governed Ireland from the time of Prince John’s flight till the accession of Richard Coeur de Lion, with great prosperity; and during this time Roderick O’Connor was dethroned by his sons, and forced to retire to a convent, where he died.

King Richard left the management of Irish affairs to his brother, who took the government from De Courcy, and gave it to Hugo de Lacy, the nephew. He, comporting himself as a favorite, of John was likely to do, of course occasioned another war, and Cathal O’Connor, the Bloody-handed, of Connaught, began to threaten Ulster. De Courcy summoned Almeric to his aid, and the good knight set out with two hundred foot and thirty horse; but, while passing through the enemy’s country, he suddenly found himself beset by Cathal, at the head of an enormous host. The horsemen might easily have saved themselves by their speed; but though death was certain if he remained, this true knight would not forsake the foot in their extremity.

In Hanmer’s affecting words, “Sir Almeric turned him to the foot company, and hardly gathering breath with the sorrow of his heart, resolved himself thus: ‘I have no power to fly, and leave my friends, my flesh and blood, in this extreme distress. I will live with them who for my sake came hither, if it so please God; or I will die with them, if it be His pleasure, that, ending here, we shall meet again, bodies and souls, at the last day. God and the world bear witness that we do as Christian knights ought to do. I yield my soul into God’s hands; my body to return whence it came; my service to my natural prince; my heart to my wife, and brother Sir John de Courcy; my might, my force, my bloody sweat, to the aid of you all that are in the field.’ He alighted, kneeled on his knees, kissed the cross of his sword, ran his horse through, saying, ‘Thou shalt never serve against me, that so worthily hast served with me.’ All the horses were then killed but two, on which he mounted two of the youngest of his followers, bidding them watch the fight from the next hill, then make all speed to bear his greetings to his brother De Courcy, and report that day’s service.”

When the Irish saw the devoted band so firmly awaiting their attack, they fancied that succor must be near, and did not venture their onset till the whole country had been reconnoitred. Every Englishman was slain, but one thousand Irish also fell, and the death of these brave men was not in vain. Cathal was so impressed by their courage, that he sued for peace, and never ventured another pitched battle. He afterward told Sir Hugo de Lacy that he thought verily there never was the like seen on earth; for, when the Englishmen could not stand, they set themselves back to back, and fought on till the last man was slain.

De Courcy long survived his faithful brother-in-arms, and stood so high in all men’s estimation, that De Lacy in jealousy sent information to King John, soon after the death of Arthur, that the Earl of Ulster was sowing disaffection by accusing him of his nephew’s murder. This was the very thing for which John had lately starved to death the Lady de Braose and her children, and he sent orders to De Lacy to attack the person of De Courcy. Every means of open force failed, and De Lacy was reduced to tamper with his servants, two of whom at length informed him that it was vain to think of seizing their master when he had his armor on, as he was of immense strength and skill, nor did he ever lay aside his weapons, except on Good Friday, when he was wont to walk up and down the churchyard of Downe, alone and unarmed.

Accordingly, De Lacy sent a band of horsemen, who fell upon the betrayed knight. He caught up a wooden cross, and made brave resistance, and so did his two nephews, sons of Sir Almeric, who were with him; but they had no weapon, and were both slain, while De Courcy was overpowered, and carried a prisoner to London. The two traitors begged De Lacy to give them passports to go to England; on which he gave them a sealed paper, on condition of their not opening it themselves, nor returning on pain of death. Now, the paper set forth that they were traitors no better than Judas, and exhorted every true man to spit in their faces, and drive them away. However, these letters were never delivered; for the wretched men were driven, by stress of weather, back on the coast of Ireland, and De Lacy had them hanged.

De Courcy continued in captivity till one of the many disputes between John and Philippe Auguste was to be decided by the ordeal of battle. The most stalwart of all John’s subjects was his prisoner, and he immediately sent to release him from the Tower, offering him immense rewards if he would become his champion. The old knight answered that King John himself was not worthy to have one drop of blood shed for him; and as to rewards, he could never requite the wrongs he had done him, nor restore the heart’s ease he had robbed him of. For John Lackland he would never fight, nor for such as him, but for the honor of the Crown, and of England, he undertook the cause. The old warrior, wasted with imprisonment, was prepared by good feeding, and received his weapons: the Frenchman fled at once, and De Courcy prepared to return to Ireland. He made fifteen attempts to cross, and each time was forced to put back. At length, as old chronicles relate, he was warned in a dream to make the trial no more: for, said the voice, “Thou hast done ill: thou hast pulled down the master, and set up the servant.”

This was thought to refer to his having newly dedicated the cathedral of Downe in the name of St. Patrick, whereas before it had been the Church of the Holy Trinity. He took blame to himself, submitted, and going to France, there died at an advanced age. For his championship, the right of wearing the head covered in the presence of royalty was granted to him and his heirs, and it is still the privilege of his descendants, the Earls of Kinsale;

  “For when every head is unbonneted
  They walk in cap and plume.”
 





CAMEO XXIII. THE REBELLIOUS EAGLETS. (1149-1189.)

  King of England.
   1154. Henry II.

  King of Scotland.
   1165. William.

  Kings of France.
   1137. Louis VII.
   1180. Philippe II.
  Emperor of Germany.
   1152. Friedrich I.

  Popes of Rome.
   1154. Adrian IV.
   1159. Alexander III.
   1181. Lucius III.
   1185. Urban III.
   1187. Gregory VIII.

“The gods are just, and of our pleasant sins make whips to scourge us.” This saying tells the history of the reign of Henry of the Court Mantle.

Ambition and ill faith were the crimes of Henry from his youth upward, and he was a man of sufficiently warm affections to suffer severely from the retribution they brought on him, when, through his children, they recoiled upon his head. “When once he loveth, scarcely will he ever hate; when once he hateth, scarcely ever receiveth he into grace,” was written of him by his tutor, Peter of Blois, and his life proved that it was a true estimate of his character.

The root of his misfortunes may be traced to his ambitious marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine, twelve years older than himself, and divorced by Louis VII. of France on account of her flagrant misconduct in Palestine, in the course of the miserable expedition called the Second Crusade. For her broad lands, he deserted the woman whom he loved, and who had left her home and duty for his sake, and on his promise of marriage.

Fair Rosamond Clifford was the daughter of a Herefordshire baron, with whom Henry became acquainted in his seventeenth year, when he came to England, in 1149, to dispute the crown with Stephen. He lodged her at Woodstock, in the tower built, according to ballad lore, “most curiously of stone and timber strong,” and with such a labyrinth leading to it that “none, but with a clue of thread, could enter in or out.” There Rosamond remained while he returned to France to receive Normandy and Anjou, on the death of his father, and on going to pay homage to Louis VII., ingratiated himself with Queen Eleanor, whose divorce was then impending. Eleanor and her sister Petronella were joint heiresses of the great duchy of Aquitaine, their father having died on pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostella, and the desire of the fairest and wealthiest provinces of the south of France led the young prince to forget his ties to Rosamond and her infant son William, and never take into consideration what the woman must be of whom her present husband was resolved to rid himself at the risk of seeing half his kingdom in the hands of his most formidable enemy.

For some time Rosamond seems to have been kept in ignorance of Henry’s unfaithfulness; but in 1152, the year of his coronation, and of the birth of her second child, Geoffrey, she quitted Woodstock, and retired into the nunnery of Godstow, which the King richly endowed. It has been one of the favorite legends of English history, that the Queen traced her out in her retreat by a ball of silk that had entangled itself in Henry’s spurs, and that she offered her the choice of death by the dagger or by poison; but this tale has been refuted by sober proof; there is no reason to believe that Eleanor was a murderess; and it is certain that Rosamond, on learning how she had been deceived, took refuge in the nunnery, where she ended her days twenty years after, in penitence and peace, far happier than her betrayer. Her sons, William and Geoffrey, were honorably brought up, and her remains were placed in the choir, under a silken canopy, with tapers burning round, while the Sisters of the convent prayed for mercy on her soul and King Henry’s. Even King John paid the costs of this supposed expiation; but St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, not thinking it well that her history should be before the minds of the nuns, ordered the corpse to be interred in the ordinary burial-place of the convent.

During most of these twenty years of Rosamond’s repentance, all apparently prospered with Henry. The rigorous justice administered by his excellent chancellor, Ranulf de Glanville, had restored order to England; the only man bold enough to gainsay him had been driven from the kingdom. Ireland was in course of conquest, and his astute policy was continually overreaching the simple-minded Louis VI., who, having derived the surname of le jeune from his age at his accession, was so boyish a character all his life as never to lose it.

Four sons and three daughters were born to Henry and Eleanor, and in their infancy he arranged such alliances as might obtain a still wider power for them—nay, even the kingdom of France. Louis VI. had married again, but his second wife died, leaving two infant girls, named Margaret and Alice, and to them Henry betrothed his two eldest sons, Henry and Richard. It was to ask the hand of Margaret for the prince that Becket took his celebrated journey to Paris, and the young pair, Henry and Margaret, were committed to his care for education; but the disputes with the King prevented their being sufficiently long in his hands for the correction of the evil spirit of the Angevin princes.

By threats of war, Henry obtained for Geoffrey, his third son, Constance, the only child of Conan, Duke of Brittany; though the Bretons, who hated Normans, Angevins, and English with equal bitterness, were extremely angry at finding themselves thus connected with all three. On Conan’s death, Geoffrey, then ten years old, was called Duke of Brittany, but his father took the whole government into his hands, and made it a heavy yoke.

John, Count of Mortagne, for whom no heiress had been obtained, was gayly called by his father Lackland—a name which his after-life fitted to him but too well. Richard was intended to be the inheritor of his mother’s beautiful duchy of Aquitaine, where he spent most of his early years. It was a strange country, where the ordinary events of life partook so much of romance that we can hardly believe them real.

It had never been so peopled by the Franks as to lose either the language or the cultivation left by the Romans. The langue d’oc had much resemblance to the Latin, and was beautifully soft and adapted to poetry; and when the nobles adopted chivalry, they ornamented it with all the graces of their superior education. The talent of improvising verses was common among them; and to be a minstrel, or, as they called it, a troubadour (a finder of verses), was essential to the character of a complete gentleman.

Courts of beauty and love took place, where arguments were held on cases of allegiance of a knight to his lady-love, and competitions in poetry, in which the reward was a golden violet. Each troubadour thought it needful to be dedicated to the service of some lady, in whose honor all his exploits in arms or achievements in minstrelsy were performed. To what an extravagant length this devotion was carried, is shown in the story of Jauffred Rudel, Lord of Blieux, who, having heard from some Crusaders a glowing account of the beauty and courtesy of the Countess of Tripoli, on their report made her the object of his affections, and wrote poem after poem upon her, of which one has come down to our times:

  “No other love shall e’er be mine,
  None save my love so far away;
  For one more fair I’ll never know,
  In region near, or far away.”
 

Thus his last verse may be translated, and his “amour luench,” or love far away, occurs in every other line. He embarked for Palestine for the sole purpose of seeing his amour luench, but fell sick on the voyage, and was speechless when he arrived. The countess, hearing to what a condition his admiration had brought him, came on board the vessel to see him; the sight of her so charmed him, that he was able to say a few words to her before he expired. She caused him to be buried with great splendor, and erected a porphyry tomb over him, with an Arabic inscription.

The romance of the Languedoçians was unhappily not accompanied by purity of manners, and much of Queen Eleanor’s misconduct may be ascribed to the tone prevalent in her native duchy, to which she was much attached. Her brave son, Richard, growing up in this land of minstrelsy, became a thorough troubadour, and loved no portion of his father’s domains as well as the sunny south; and his two brothers, Henry and Geoffrey, likewise fell much under the influence of the poetical knights of Aquitaine, especially Bertrand de Born, Viscount de Hautefort, an accomplished noble, who was the intimate friend of all the princes.

The King’s first disappointment was when, at length, a son was born to Louis VI., who had hitherto, to use his own words, “been afflicted with a multitude of daughters.” This son of his old age was christened “Philippe Dieu donné,” and the servant who brought the welcome tidings of his birth was rewarded with a grant of three measures of wheat yearly from the royal farm of Gonesse. Soon after, Louis dreamt that he saw his son holding a goblet of blood in his hand, from which his valor was predicted, and he did indeed seem born to visit the offences of the Plantagenets on their own heads. Even while quite a child, when present at a conference between the two kings under the Elm of Gisors, he was shrewd enough to perceive that Henry was unjustly overreaching his father, and surprised all present by exclaiming, “Sir, you do my father wrong. I perceive that you always gain the advantage over him. I cannot hinder you now, but I give you notice that, when I am grown up, I will take back all of which you now deprive us.” And, by fair means and foul, he kept his word.

Next Henry began to find that the Church would not allow him to remain in peace while he kept the Archbishop in exile, and the dread of excommunication caused him to obviate the danger of his subjects being released from their oaths of allegiance, by causing his eldest son to be crowned, and receive their homage. The Princess Margaret was in Aquitaine with Queen Eleanor; and when she found that the rights of her former tutor, Becket, were neglected, and the ceremony to be performed by the Archbishop of York, she refused to come to England, and her husband was crowned alone. It was then that his father carved at his banquet, and he made the arrogant speech respecting the son of a count and the son of a king.

That year was marked by the murder of the Archbishop, and soon after the storm began to burst. Young Henry, now nineteen years of age, went with his wife to pay a visit to her father at Paris, and returned full of discontent, complaining that he was a king only in name, since he had not even a house to himself, and insisting on his father’s giving up to him at once either England, Normandy, or Anjou.

His complaints were echoed by Richard and Geoffrey, who were with their mother in Aquitaine. Richard had received investiture of the county of Poitiers, but the entire authority was in the hands of Castellanes, appointed by his father, and the proud natives were stirring up the young prince to shake off the bondage in which he, like them, was held. Geoffrey, though only fifteen, thought himself aggrieved by not having yet received his wife’s duchy of Brittany, and positively refused to pay homage for it to his eldest brother, when newly crowned to repair the irregularity of his first coronation, and for this opposition the high-spirited Bretons forgave his Angevin blood, and looked on him as their champion. The boys’ discontents were aggravated by their mother, and the state of feeling was so well known in the South, that when Henry and his eldest son came to Limoges to receive the homage of Count Raymond of Toulouse, that noble, on coming to the part of the oath of fealty where he was engaged to counsel his lord against his enemies, added, “I should warn you to secure your castles of Poitou and Aquitaine, and to mistrust your wife and sons.”

Henry, who was aware of the danger, under pretext of hunting, visited his principal fortresses, and, to guard against the evil designs of his son Henry, caused him to sleep in his own bedroom. At Chinon, however, the youth contrived to elude his vigilance, stole away, and escaped to Paris, where he was received in a manner that reflects great discredit on the French monarch.

When the elder Henry sent to Paris to desire the restoration of the fugitive, the messengers found him royally robed, and seated by the side of the French King, who received them, asking from whom they came.

“From Henry, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou and Maine.”

“That is not true. Here sits Henry, King of England, who has no message to send me by you. But if you mean his father, the late King of England, he has been dead ever since his son has worn the crown; and if he still pretends to be a king, I will soon find a cure.”

Young Henry adopted a great seal, and wrote letters to the Pope, his mother, and brothers, exciting them against his father, and putting forth a manifesto declaring that he could not leave unpunished the death of “his foster-father, the glorious martyr St. Thomas of Canterbury, whose blood was crying out for vengeance.”

On receiving these letters, Richard and Geoffrey hurried to meet him at Paris, and Queen Eleanor was following in male attire, when she was seized and made prisoner. Louis caused the two boys to swear that they would never conclude a peace with their father without his consent, and they were joined by great numbers of the Norman and Poitevin nobility, even from among the King’s immediate attendants. Each morning some one was missed from his court, and known to be gone over to the enemy, but still Henry outwardly kept up his spirits, conversed gaily, and hunted as usual.

Only once did he give way. Geoffrey, the son of Rosamond, was devotedly attached to him, and had at his own expense raised an army of Brabançons, or mercenary soldiers, and defeated an inroad of the Scots, and he now brought his victorious force to the aid of his father. Rosamond was just dead in her nunnery, and at his first meeting with her son, Henry embraced him with tears, exclaiming, “Thou art my true and lawful son!” The bishopric of Lincoln was destined to Geoffrey, but he was only twenty, and was unwilling to take orders, thinking himself better able to help his father as a layman.

The Brabançons were the only troops on whom the King could rely, and with them he marched against the Bretons, who had been encouraged by Louis and their young Duke to rebel. They were defeated, and Louis, not wishing to run further risks, brought the three youths to the Elm of Gisors, and held a conference with them, where Henry showed himself far more ready to forgive than his sons to ask pardon.

Afterward young Henry and Geoffrey returned to Paris, and Richard to Poitou, whence he soon came to the French court, to receive the order of knighthood from Louis—another insult to his father. The two queens, Eleanor and Margaret, were in the old King’s hands, and kept in close captivity; the younger, who seems to have been a gentle and innocent lady, was soon allowed to join her husband, but Eleanor was retained in confinement at Winchester. As long as his mother, whom he tenderly loved, was imprisoned, Richard thought his resistance justified, and Aquitaine echoed with laments for the Lady of the South in the dungeon of her cruel husband. Bertrand de Born, who had chosen her daughter Eleanor, Queen of Castile, as the object of his songs, was especially ardent in his lamentations.

The elder King’s grief at the continued misconduct of his sons led him to humble himself at the tomb of Becket, and the penance he underwent brought on a fever. He thought, however, that he had received a token of pardon, when news was brought that his faithful son Geoffrey of Lincoln, and his chancellor, Ranulf de Glanville, had defeated the King of Scots, William the Lion, and made him prisoner at Prudhoe Castle. But King Henry had far more to suffer!

His eldest son was invading Normandy, and he was forced to march against him. After a battle at Rouen, the princes were reduced to obedience; Richard was the last of all to be reconciled, believing, as he did, that his cause was his mother’s, but he kept his oaths better than either of the others.

A time of greater quiet succeeded, during which young Henry set out as a knight-errant, going from one country to another in search of opportunities of performing deeds of arms. He came, in 1180, to attend the coronation of young Philippe II., who had just succeeded his father, in his fifteenth year, and had, or pretended to have, a great friendship for Geoffrey of Brittany.

Richard had in the meantime affronted Bertrand de Born, by assisting his brother Constantine, whom he had deprived of his inheritance. Bertrand rebelled with other Poitevins, proceeded to lash up, by verses, young Henry, to join them against Richard, rousing him to be no more a mere king of cowards, who had no lands, and never would have any.

Henry was worked upon to go to his father, and insist on receiving Richard’s homage; and as he threatened to take the Cross and go to Palestine, the old King, who doted on him, consented. Richard declared this would be giving up the rights of his mother; and though he consented, at his father’s entreaty, for the sake of peace, Henry was now affronted, would not receive it, and, with Geoffrey, placed himself at the head of the rebels of Poitou, and a fresh war broke out, and their father was obliged to come to Richard’s aid. It seems to have been about this time that the unhappy King caused a picture to be painted of four eaglets tearing their father’s breast. “It is an emblem of my children,” he said. “If John has not yet acted like his brethren, it is only because he is not yet old enough!”

Henry and Geoffrey invited their father to a conference in Limoges, which he was besieging; but as he entered the town, a flight of arrows was discharged from the battlements, some of which rattled against his armor, and one pierced his horse’s neck. The King held one of them up, saying, “Ah, Geoffrey! what has thine unhappy father done that thou shouldest make him a mark for thine arrows?”

Geoffrey treated the matter lightly. His brother was, however, so much shocked, that for a little while he joined his father, swearing he would never again rebel.

Only a few days had passed, before, on some trifling dispute, he again quitted his father, and, vowing he would take the Cross, joined Geoffrey and the rebel Poitevins. But this was indeed his last rebellion. He had scarcely entered the town of Limoges, before a violent fever came on, and in terror of death he sent to entreat his father to come and give his blessing and forgiveness. It was too late. After that last treason, the King could not trust himself in the rebel camp, and only sent the Archbishop of Bordeaux to carry his signet ring, and assure his son of his pardon. He found the unhappy young man in the agonies of death, lying on a bed of ashes, accusing himself of having been a “wicked, undutiful son, and bitterly disappointed at not seeing his father, to receive the blessing he had once cast from him, and which in vain he now sought earnestly and with tears.” He died, fervently pressing the ring to his lips. Surely his remorse might have served for a warning to his brothers; but when the sorrowful father sent a priest to entreat Geoffrey to make peace over his grave, the fierce youth only answered that it was vain. “Our grandmother, the Witch, has left us a doom that none of us shall ever love the rest. It is our heirloom, and the only one of which we can never be deprived!”

However, Limoges was taken, and in it Bertrand de Born, who was led before the King to receive the punishment he deserved, and there he stood silent and dejected. “Hast thou nothing to say for thyself?” said the King. “Where is all thy ready flow of fine words? I think thou hast lost thy wits!”

“Ah, sire!” said Bertrand, “I lost them the day the brave young King died!”

The father burst into tears, and exclaimed, “Sir Bertrand, thou mightest well lose thy senses with grief for my son. He loved thee more than any man on earth; and I, for love of him, give thee back thy castles and lands.”

Geoffrey still held aloof, and spent his time with his friend Philippe of France. At Paris, in 1186, he who called hatred his inheritance, and spurned his father’s forgiveness, died without space for asking it, leaving, indeed, his chosen heirloom to his innocent children. He was in his twenty-fifth year, and the handsomest and the most expert in chivalrous exercises of all his brothers; but in the midst of a great tournament he was thrown from his horse, and trampled to death in the throng before his squires could extricate him.

Richard, the second son, inheriting the “lyonnous visage” that Peter de Blois ascribes to King Henry, and with it the Lion-heart, that gained him his surname, had far more feeling and generosity than his brothers, and, but for King Henry’s own crimes, he might have been his blessing and glory. When Henry had provoked him, by desiring him, as being now heir of Normandy and England, to yield up Poitou to his brother John, Richard had refused; but on the King bringing his mother to Aquitaine, and reinstating her in her duchy, he instantly laid down his arms, joyfully came to her, and continued perfectly peaceable and dutiful whilst she still held her rights.

But after all these warnings, Henry was sinning grievously against his wife and son. Richard had been, in his infancy, betrothed to Alice of France, who had been placed in his father’s keeping; but he had reached his twenty-seventh year without having been allowed to see her, and there was but too much reason to believe that the old King had wickedly betrayed his trust, and corrupted her innocence. Richard had, in the meantime, become attached to a modest, gentle maiden, Berengaria, sister to King Sancho of Navarre, and was anxious to know on what ground he stood with Alice; but the consequence of his first demonstration was, that Henry sent Eleanor back to her prison at Winchester.

This broke the tie that held him to obedience, and he went to Paris to consult with Philippe, Alice’s brother, on the best measures for breaking off his unfortunate engagement, as well as on securing the succession to the crown, which he suspected his father of wishing to leave to his brother John. Philippe received him most affectionately; so that it is said they shared the same cup, the same plate, and the same bed.

Just at this time, Archbishop William of Tyre came to preach a new Crusade, and the description of the miseries of the Christians in Palestine so affected the two kings and Richard, that they took the Cross, and agreed to lay aside their disputes, to unite in the rescue of Jerusalem. However, the concord did not last long; Richard quarrelled with the Count of Toulouse, and a petty war took place, which the kings agreed to conclude by a conference, as usual, under the Elm of Gisors. This noble tree had so large a trunk, that the arms of four men could not together encircle it; the branches had, partly by Nature, partly by art, been made to bend downward, so as to form a sort of bower, and there were seats on the smooth extent of grass which they shaded. King Henry first arrived at this pleasant spot, and his train stretched themselves on the lawn, rejoicing in being thus sheltered from the burning heat of the summer sun; and when the French came up, laughed at them, left beyond the shade, to be broiled in the sunbeams. This gave offence, a sharp skirmish took place, the English drew off to Vernon, and Philippe, mindful of the indignation he had felt in his boyhood under that tree, swore that no more parleys should be held under it, and his knights hewed it down with their battle-axes.

The war continued, and Richard fought gallantly on his father’s side; but as winter drew on, it was resolved that a meeting should be held at Bonmoulins to re-establish peace. Richard thought this a fit opportunity, in the presence of Alice’s brother, for endeavoring to have his rights confirmed, and to clear up the miserable question of his betrothal. In the midst of the meeting he called on his father to promise him, in the presence of the King of France, that he would no longer delay his marriage, and declaration as his heir.

Henry prevaricated, and talked of bestowing Alice on John.

“This,” cried Richard, “forces me to believe what I would fain have thought impossible! Comrades, you shall see a sight you did not expect.”

And ungirding his sword, he knelt down before Philippe, and did homage to him, asking his assistance to re-establish his rights. Henry withdrew, followed by a very small number of knights. They mostly held with the young prince, won by his brilliant talents, great courage, and liberal manners; and the King found the grief renewed that his son Henry had caused him, while he himself, aged by cares rather than years, was less able to cope with them: moreover, Richard was far more formidable than his elder brother; Philippe a more subtle enemy than Louis; and above all, the King’s own faults were the immediate cause of the rebellion. He took no active measures; he only caused his castellanes in Normandy to swear that they would yield their keys up to no one but to Prince John, on whom he had concentrated his affections. He awaited the coming of the Cardinal of Anagni, who was sent by the Pope to pacify these Crusaders, and remind them of their vows.

Again the parties met, and the legate, with four archbishops, began to speak of peace.

“I consent,” said Philippe, “for the love of Heaven and of the Holy Sepulchre, to restore to King Henry what I have taken from him, provided he will immediately wed my sister Alice to his son Richard, and secure to him the succession of the crown, I also demand that his son John should go to Palestine with his brother, or he will disturb the peace of the kingdom.”

“That he will!” exclaimed Richard.

“No,” said Henry; “this is more than I can grant. Let your sister marry John; let me dispose of my own kingdom.”

“Then the truce is broken,” answered the French King. The Cardinal interfered, threatening to lay France under an interdict, and excommunicate Philippe and Richard if they would not consent to Henry’s conditions. Their answers were characteristic.

“I do not fear your curses,” said Philippe. “You have no right, to pronounce them on the realm of France. Your words smell of English sterlings.”

“I’ll kill the madman who dares to excommunicate two royal princes in one breath!” cried Coeur de Lion, drawing his sword; but his friends threw themselves between, and the Cardinal escaped, mounted his mule, and rode off in haste.

The French took Mans, and pillaged it cruelly, while Richard looked on in shame and grief at the desolation of his own inheritance. His father, weak and unwell, resolved to make peace, and for the last time appointed a meeting with Philippe on the plain between Tours and Amboise. There it was arranged that Richard should be acknowledged as heir, and Alice put into the hands of the Archbishop either of Canterbury or Rouen, as he should prefer, until he should return from the Crusade. The conference was interrupted by a vivid flash of lightning and a tremendous burst of thunder. To the evil conscience of the elder King it was the voice of avenging Heaven: he reeled in his saddle, and his attendants were forced to support him in their arms and carry him away. He travelled in a litter to Chinon, where his first son had deserted him, and there, while he lay dangerously ill, the treaty was sent to him to receive his signature, and the conditions read over to him. By one of them, those who had engaged in Richard’s party were to transfer their allegiance to him.

“Who are they—the ungrateful traitors?” he asked. “Let me hear their names.”

His secretary began the list: “John, Count of Mortagne.”

“John!”—and the miserable father started up in his bed. “John! It cannot be true!—my heart, my beloved son! He whom I cherished beyond the rest—he for whose sake I have suffered all this—can he also have deserted me?” He was told it was too true. “Well,” said he, falling back on his bed, and turning his face from the light, “let the rest go as it will! I care not what becomes of me, or of the world!”

He was roused in a few moments by the entrance of Richard, come, as a matter of form, to ratify the treaty by the kiss of peace. The King, without speaking, gave it with rigid sternness of countenance; but Richard, as he turned away, heard him mutter, “May I but live to be revenged on thee!” and when he was gone, the King burst out into such horrible imprecations against his two sons, that the faithful Geoffrey of Lincoln and the clergy of Canterbury, who attended him, were shocked, and one of the monks reminded him that such hasty words had occasioned the death of Becket. But he gnashed his teeth at them with fury. “I have been and I am your lord, traitors that ye are!” he cried. “Away with you! I’ll have none but trusty ones here.”

The monks left him; but one, turning round, said boldly, “If the life and sufferings of the martyr Thomas were acceptable with God. He will do prompt justice on thy body.”

The King threw himself out of bed, with his dagger in his hand; but was carried back again, and continued to rave, though growing weaker. In an interval of calm he was taken into the church, and absolution was pronounced over him; but no persuasion would induce him to revoke his curses against his sons: the delirium returned, and the last words that were heard from his dying lips were, “Shame, shame on a conquered King! Cursed be the day I was born! Cursed be the sons I leave!”

In his fifty-fifth year he thus miserably expired, and his son Geoffrey of Lincoln with difficulty found any one to attend to his funeral; the attendants had all fled away, with everything valuable that they could lay their hands on. A piece of gold fringe was made to serve for a crown, and an old sceptre and ring were brought from the treasury at Chinon; horses were hired, and the corpse was carried, as he had desired, to be interred in the beautiful Abbey of Fontevraud. In the midst of the service a hurried step was heard. It was Richard, who, while laughing with his false friend Philippe over his ungracious reception at Chinon, had been horror-struck by the news that his father was dead, and that there was no more forgiveness to be looked for.

He had hastily left the French, and now stood beside the coffin, looking at the fine but worn and prematurely aged face, which bore the stamp of rage and agony. A drop of blood oozed from the nostril—a token, according to the belief of those times, that the murderer was present. Richard hid his face in his hands in the misery of remorse, and groaned aloud, “Yes, it was I who killed him.” He threw himself on his knees before the altar, so remained “about as long as it would take to say a Pater” and then, rising up in silence, dashed out of the church.

Ten years later, his corpse was, by his own desire, laid in humility at his father’s feet.





CAMEO XXIV. THE THIRD CRUSADE. (1189-1193)

  King of England.
   1189. Richard I.

  King of Scotland.
   1165. William.

  King of France.
   1180. Philippe II.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1152. Friedrich I.
   1191. Henry VI.

  Popes.
   1183. Clement III
   1191. Celestine III

The vices of the Christians of Palestine brought their punishment. Sybilla of Anjou, Queen of Jerusalem, had married the handsome but feeble-minded Guy de Lusignan, who was no match for the Kurdish chieftain, Joseph Salah-ed-deen, usually called Saladin, who had risen to the supreme power in Egypt and Damascus. The battle of Tiberias ruined the kingdom, and the fall of Jerusalem followed in a few weeks, filling Christendom with grief.

The archbishop and historian, William of Tyre, preached a Crusade in Europe, and among the first to take the Cross were the Plantagenet princes and Philippe Auguste of France.

The unhappy discord between Henry II. and Coeur de Lion hindered the enterprise until the death of the father, which left the son a prey to the bitterest remorse; and in the hope to expiate his crimes, he hurried on the preparations with all the vehemence of his impetuous nature.

He hastened his coronation, and began to raise money by the most unscrupulous means, declaring he would even have sold London itself could he have found a bidder. He made his half-brother, Geoffrey, pay £3,000 for the possession of the temporalities of the see of York, and sold the earldom of Northumberland to the aged Bishop of Durham, Hugh Pudsey, saying, laughing, that it had been a clever stroke to make a young earl of an old bishop. William the Lion of Scotland was also allowed to purchase exemption from his engagements to Henry II., by the payment of a large sum of money and the supply of a body of troops under the command of his brother David, Earl of Huntingdon.

These arrangements made, Richard marched to meet Philippe Auguste at Vezelai, and agree on the regulations for the discipline of their host. If rules could have kept men in order, these were strict enough, forbidding all gaming, all foul language, all disputing, and all approach to licence, and ordering all acquisitions to be equally divided; but with a prince whose violent temper broke through all restraint, there was little hope of their observance. The English wore white crosses, the French red, the Flemings green, to distinguish the different nations.

They marched together to Lyons, whence Philippe proceeded across the Alps to embark at Genoa in the vessels he had hired, and Richard went to Marseilles, where his own fleet was appointed to meet him and transport him to Messina, the place where the whole crusading army was to winter. He waited for his ships till his patience failed, and, hiring those which he found in the harbor, he sailed to Pisa, whence he rode to Salerno, and there learning that his fleet had touched at Marseilles, and arrived at Messina, he set out for the coast, attended by only one knight. On the way he saw a fine hawk, kept at a cottage in a small village, and forgetting that there were no such forest laws as in his own domains, he was enraged to see the bird in the keeping of mean “villeins” seized upon it, and bore it off on his wrist. This was no treatment for Italian peasants, who, in general, were members of small, self-ruling republics, and they swarmed out of their houses to recover the bird. One man attacked the King with a long knife, and though Richard beat him off with the flat of his sword, the assault with sticks and stones was severe enough to drive the King off the field, and force him to ride at full speed to a convent.

He thence went to Bagnata, where he found his own ship Trenc-la-Mer awaiting him. In full state he sailed into the harbor of Messina at the head of his fleet, streamers flying from the masts, and music playing upon the decks. He was received by the King of Sicily, Tancred, Count of Lecce, who without much right had assumed the crown on the recent death of William the Good, the last of the direct Norman line.

This William, had been married to Joan Plantagenet, Richard’s youngest sister, who now came to join him, making complaints that Tancred was withholding from her the treasures bequeathed to her by her husband; and these were indeed of noted value, for she specified among them a golden table twelve feet long, and a tent of silk large enough to contain two hundred knights.

Tancred, who had lodged his royal guests, the one in a palace within the town, the other in a pleasant house among the vineyards, was confounded at these claims, and on his declaring that he had duly paid the Queen’s dowry, Richard seized upon two of his castles, and, on a slight quarrel with the inhabitants, upon the city of Messina itself.

Philippe Auguste interfered, not on behalf of the unfortunate Sicilian, but to obtain a share of the spoil; requiring that the French standard should be placed beside the English one on the walls, and that half the plunder should be his. It was, however, agreed that the keeping of the city should be committed to the Knights Templars until the three kings should come to an agreement.

It was at this time that Richard again showed his violent nature. A peasant happening to pass with an ass loaded with long reeds, or canes, the knights began in sport to tilt at each other with them, and Richard was thus opposed to a certain Guillaume des Barres, who had once placed him in great danger in a battle in Normandy. Both reeds were broken, and Richard’s mantle was torn; his jest turned to earnest, and he dashed his horse against Des Barres, meaning to throw him from the saddle; but he swerved aside, and the King’s horse stumbled, and fell. He took another, and returned to the charge, but in vain; however, when the Earl of Leicester was coming to his aid, he ordered him off. “It is between him and me alone,” he said. At length repeated failures so inflamed his anger, that he shouted, “Away with thee! Never dare appear in my presence again! I am a mortal foe to thee and thine!” and it was only on the threat of excommunication that he could be prevailed on to consent to the knight remaining with the army.

In March, a meeting took place between the Kings of England and Sicily, in which Tancred agreed to pay Richard and his sister 20,000 ounces of gold; and Richard remitted his share as a portion for Tancred’s infant daughter, whom he asked in marriage for his nephew, Arthur of Brittany. The two Kings were much pleased with each other, and an exchange of presents was made.

Tancred disclosed that the French monarch had falsely sent him a warning that it was useless to trust the King of England, who only intended to break his treaties; and when Richard refused to believe that his former friend would so slander him, showed him the very letters in which Philippe offered to assist in expelling him from the island.

Unwisely, Richard called his rival to account for his treachery; on which Philippe retorted with the old engagement to his sister Alice, declaring that this was only an excuse, for casting her off. Richard answered, that her conduct made no excuse necessary for not marrying her, and proved it so entirely, that Philippe was glad to hush the matter up, and rest satisfied with a promise that she should be restored to her own count with a sufficient pension.

It was time indeed for Richard to be free from his bonds to Alice, for he had already sent his mother to conduct to him his own chosen and long-loved lady, Berengaria of Navarre, a gentle, delicate, fair-haired, retiring maiden, to whom he had devoted his Lion-heart in his days of poetry and song in his beloved Aquitaine, and who was now willing to share the toils and perils of his crusade.

She arrived on the 29th of March; but the season of Lent prevented the celebration of their wedding, and Queen Eleanor, placing her under the charge of Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily, returned to England to watch over her son’s interests there. The next day the fleet set sail, Richard in his royal vessel, the ladies in another called the Lion; but a tempest arose and scattered the ships, and though a lantern was hung from the mast of Trenc-la-Mer as a guide to the others, she was almost alone when she put into the harbor of Rhodes.

The King had suffered so much from sea-sickness, that he was forced to remain there ten days, in much anxiety, and there his vessels gradually joined him, and he heard tidings of the rest. Philippe Auguste, with six vessels, was safe at Acre, and the Lion had been driven to the coast of Cyprus. Isaac Comnenus, a Greek, who called himself Emperor of the island, had behaved with great discourtesy, forbidding the poor princesses to land, and maltreating the crews of the vessels that had been cast ashore.

All Coeur de Lion’s chivalry was on fire at this insult to his bride. He sailed at once to Cyprus, made a rapid conquest of the whole island, and took prisoners both the Emperor and his daughter. The only request Comnenus made was, that he might not be put into iron chains; and he was gratified by wearing silver ones, until his death, four years after. His daughter became an attendant on Berengaria, and as the feast of Easter had now arrived, Richard no longer deferred his marriage, which was celebrated in the church of Limasol by the Bishop of Evreux. It is certainly one of the strangest stories in our history, that one of our Kings should have been married in that distant isle of Cyprus, after conquering it, as a sort of episode in his crusade.

It was a victory not without great benefit to the Crusaders, for the island was extremely fertile, and Richard appointed a knight, named Robert de Turnham, to send constant supplies of provisions to the army in the Holy Land; after which he set sail.

Guy de Lusignan had already laid siege to St. Jean d’Acre, or Ptolemais, a city on the bay formed by the projection of the promontory of Mount Carmel, admirably adapted as a stronghold, in which succor from Europe might be received. Leopold of Austria brought the first instalment of Crusaders; next followed Philippe of France; but the increase of the number of besiegers only caused famine, until the conquest of Cyprus insured supplies. Richard had sailed first for Tyre; but Conrade, Marquis of Montferrat, Prince of Tyre, who was related to the Comneni, had given orders that he should be excluded from the city; and he continued his course to Acre, capturing, on his way, a large galley filled with troops and provisions sent from Egypt to the relief of the besieged.

On his arrival, Richard at once resigned to Philippe half the booty, whereupon the French King claimed half the island of Cyprus: this Coeur de Lion replied he might have, if he was willing likewise to divide the county of Flanders, which had just fallen to his wife by the death of her brother. The siege was pressed on with the greatest ardor on the arrival of the English, and Philippe was extremely jealous of the reputation acquired by the brilliant deeds of daring in which Richard delighted, while he himself was left completely in the shade. Cool, wary, and prudent, he contemned the boisterous manners, animal strength, and passionate nature of his rival, and nothing could be more galling than to find himself disregarded, while all the “talk was of Richard the King,” and all the independent bands from Europe clustered round the banner of the Plantagenet. Philippe tried to win the hearts of the army by liberality, and offered two pieces of gold a week to any knight who might be distressed; Richard instantly promised four, adding a reward of high value to any soldier who should bring him a stone from the walls of the city; and such allurements led many to leave the French service for the English.

The heat of the climate soon brought on fevers, and both the kings were attacked. Richard, when unable to mount his horse, was carried on a mattress to the front of the army, to superintend the machines and military engines, often himself aiming a ballista at the walls. He thus slew a Saracen whom he beheld parading on the ramparts in the armor of a Christian knight who had lately fallen. Saladin was hovering around with his army, attempting to relieve the town; but the Christian army enclosed it, said the Arab writers, close as the eyelid does the eye, and he could only obtain intelligence from the inhabitants by means of carrier-pigeons; while at the same time some friend to the Christians within the town used to shoot arrows into the camp, with letters attached, containing information of all the plans of the besieged. The name of this secret ally was never discovered, but his tidings often proved of the greatest service..

A curious interview took place, between Saladin’s brother, Malek-el-Afdal (Just King), and a deputy sent by Richard, to arrange for a conference on his recovery. The meeting was held in Saladin’s camp. “It is the custom of our kings to make each other presents, even in time of war,” said the deputy, “My master wishes to offer some worthy of the Sultan.”

“The present shall be well received,” said Malek-el-Afdal, “so that we offer others in return.”

“We have falcons, and other birds of prey, which have suffered much from the voyage, and are dying of hunger. Would it please you to give us some poultry to feed them with? When recovered, they shall be a gift to the Sultan.”

“Say rather,” returned Malek, “that your master is ill, and wishes for poultry. He shall have what he will.”

Richard restored a Mussulman prisoner, and thereupon Saladin gave the deputy a robe of honor, and sent an emir to the camp with presents of Damascus pears, Syrian grapes, and mountain snow, which much conduced to the convalescence of the Malek Rik, as the Saracens, who much admired and feared King Richard, were wont to call him.

On his recovery, the siege was pressed on, fierce battles daily taking place, though the heat was such that the burning rays of the sun had their share of the slain. At last Saladin, much to his grief, was obliged to send permission to the inhabitants to surrender; which they did, on condition of being allowed to ransom themselves for a fixed sum of money and the release of 2,600 Christian captives. Thus ended the three years’ siege of Acre. The Kings of France and England set up their standards on the chief towers, and it was here that Richard insulted the banner of Austria, which had been planted beside them. He caused it to be torn down and thrown into the moat, demanding how a Duke dared assume the rights of a King. Leopold maintained a sullen silence, brooding over the indignity.

This overbearing conduct of Richard alienated the chief Crusaders, and Philippe Auguste, whose health was really much impaired, resolved to return home, and sent a deputation to acquaint Richard with his intention. They were so much grieved at their King abandoning the enterprise, that, when admitted into Richard’s presence, they could not utter a word for tears. “It will be an eternal disgrace to himself and his kingdom,” said Coeur de Lion; “but let him go, since he is dying for want of his fair court of Paris.” He accordingly parted, after taking an oath to offer no injury to the English possessions in Richard’s absence, and leaving Hugh, Duke of Burgundy, with the portion of his army which remained in Palestine. There was a dispute, too, on the succession to the crown of Jerusalem. Sybilla’s death transferred her rights to her sister, Isabel, the wife of Conrade of Montferrat; but Guy de Lusignan refused to give up the title of King, and the Christians’ camp was rent with disputes.

At the end of August, Richard led his crusading troops from Acre into the midst of the wilderness of Mount Carmel, where their sufferings were terrible; the rocky, sandy, and uneven ground was covered with bushes full of long, sharp prickles, and swarms of noxious insects buzzed in the air, fevering the Europeans with their stings; and in addition to these natural obstacles, multitudes of Arab horsemen harassed them on every side, slaughtering every straggler who dropped behind from fatigue, and attacking them so unceasingly, that it was remarked that throughout their day’s track there was not one space of four feet without an arrow sticking in the ground.

Richard fought indefatigably, always in the van, and always ready to reward the gallant exploits of his knights. It was now that Guillaume des Barres so signalized himself, that the King offered him his friendship, and forgot the quarrel at Messina. Here, too, a young knight, who bore a white shield in hopes of gaining some honorable bearing, so distinguished himself, that Richard thus greeted him at the close of the day: “Maiden knight, you have borne yourself as a lion, and done the deeds of six croisés” and granted him a lion between six crosses on a red field, with the motto “Tinctus cruore Saraceno” tinted with Saracen blood, whence he assumed the name of Tynte.

At Arsoof, on the 7th of September, a great battle was fought. Saladin and his brother had almost defeated the two Religious Orders, and the gallant French knight, Jacques d’Avesne, after losing his leg by a stroke from a scimitar, fought bravely on, calling on the English King, until he fell overpowered by numbers. Coeur de Lion and Guillaume des Barres retrieved the day, hewed down the enemy on all sides, and remained masters of the field. It is even said that Richard and Saladin met hand to hand, but this is uncertain.

This victory opened the way to Joppa, where the Crusaders spent the next month in the repair of the fortifications, while the Saracen forces lay at Ascalon. While here, Richard often amused himself with hawking, and, one day, was asleep under a tree, when he was aroused by the approach of a party of Saracens, and springing on his horse Frannelle, which had been taken at Cyprus, he rashly pursued them, and fell into an ambush. Four knights were slain, and he would have been seized, had not a Gascon knight, named Guillaume des Porcelets, called out that he himself was the Malek Rik, and allowed himself to be taken. Richard offered ten noble Saracens in exchange for this generous knight, whom Saladin restored, together with a valuable horse that had been captured at the same time. A present of another Arab steed accompanied them; but Richard’s half-brother, William Longsword, insisted on trying the creature before the King should mount it. No sooner was he on his back, than it dashed at once across the country, and before he could stop it, he found himself in the midst of the enemy’s camp. The two Saracen princes were extremely shocked and distressed lest this should be supposed a trick, and instantly escorted Longsword back, with gifts of three chargers which proved to be more manageable.

Malek-el-Afdal was always the foremost in intercourse with the Christians; Richard knighted his son, and at one time had hopes that this youth might become a Christian, marry his sister Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily, and be established as a sort of neutral King of Jerusalem; but this project was disconcerted in consequence of his refusal to forsake the religion of his Prophet. [Footnote: This is the groundwork of the mysterious negotiations in the “Talisman” and of Madame Cottin’s romance of “Matilde.”]

From Joppa the Crusaders marched to Ramla, and thence, on New-Year’s Day, 1192, set out for Jerusalem through a country full of greater obstacles than they had yet encountered. They were too full of spirit to be discouraged, until they came to Bethany, where the two Grand Masters represented to Richard the imprudence of laying siege to such fortifications as those of Jerusalem at such a season of the year, while Ascalon was ready in his rear for a post whence the enemy would attack him.

He yielded, and retreated to Ascalon, which Saladin had ruined and abandoned, and began eagerly to repair the fortifications, so as to be able to leave a garrison there. The soldiers grumbled, saying they had not come to Palestine to build Ascalon, but to conquer Jerusalem; whereupon Richard set the example of himself carrying stones, and called on Leopold to do the same. The sulky reply, “He was not the son of a mason,” so irritated Richard, that he struck him a blow. Leopold straightway quitted the army, and returned to Austria.

The reports from home made Richard anxious to return, and he tried to bring the Eastern affairs to a settlement. He adjudged the crown of Jerusalem to Conrade of Montferrat, giving the island of Cyprus and its princess as a compensation to Lusignan; but Conrade had hardly assumed the title of King, before his murder, by two assassins from the Old Man of the Mountain, threw everything into fresh confusion; and the barons of Palestine chose in his place Henry of Champagne, a nephew of Richard’s, a brave knight, whom Queen Isabel was induced to accept as her third husband.

It was not without great grief and many struggles that Coeur de Lion finally gave up his hopes of taking Jerusalem. He again advanced as far as Bethany; but a quarrel with Hugh of Burgundy, and the defection of the Austrians, made it impossible for him to proceed, and he turned back to Ramla.

While riding out with a party of knights, one of them called out, “This way, my lord, and you will see Jerusalem.”

“Alas!” said Richard, hiding his face with his mantle, “those who are not worthy to win the Holy City, are not worthy to behold it!”

He returned to Acre; but there, hearing that Saladin was besieging Joppa, he embarked his troops, and sailed to its aid. The Crescent shone on its walls as he entered the harbor; but while he looked on in dismay, he was hailed by a priest, who had leapt into the sea, and swam out to inform him that there was yet time to rescue the garrison, though the town was in the hands of the enemy.

He hurried his vessel forward, leapt into the water breast-high, dashed upward on the shore, ordered his immediate followers to raise a bulwark of casks and beams to protect the landing of the rest, and, rushing up a flight of steps, entered the city alone. “St. George! St. George!” That cry dismayed the Infidels; and those in the town, to the number of three thousand, fled in the utmost confusion, and were pursued for two miles by three knights who had been fortunate enough to find horses.

Richard pitched his tent outside the walls, and remained there, with so few troops that all were contained in ten tents. Very early one morning, before the King was out of bed, a man rushed into his tent, crying out, “O King! we are all dead men!”

Springing up, Richard fiercely silenced him. “Peace! or thou diest by my hand!” Then, while hastily donning his suit of mail, he heard that the glitter of arms had been seen in the distance, and in another moment the enemy were upon them, 7,000 in number!

Richard had neither helmet nor shield, and only seventeen of his knights had horses; but undaunted, he drew up his little force in a compact body, the knights kneeling on one knee, covered by their shields, their lances pointing outward, and between each pair an archer, with an assistant to load his cross-bow; and he stood in the midst, encouraging them with his voice, and threatening to cut off the head of the first who turned to fly. In vain did the Saracens charge that mass of brave men, not one-seventh of their number; the shields and lances were impenetrable: and without one forward step, or one bolt from the crossbows, their passive steadiness turned back wave after wave of the enemy. At last the King gave the word for the crossbowmen to advance, while he, with seventeen mounted knights, charged lance in rest. His curtal axe bore down all before it, and he dashed like lightning from one part of the plain to another, with not a moment to smile at the opportune gift from the polite Malek-el-Afdal, who, in the hottest of the fight, sent him two fine horses, desiring him to use them in escaping from this dreadful peril. Little did the Saracen prince imagine that they would find him victorious, and that they would mount two more pursuers! Next came a terrified fugitive, with news that 3,000 Saracens had entered Joppa! He summoned a few knights, and, without a word to the rest, galloped back into the city. The panic inspired by his presence instantly cleared the streets, and, riding back, he again led his troops to the charge; but such were the swarms of Saracens, that it was not till evening that the Christians could give themselves a moment’s rest, or look round and feel that they had gained one of the most wonderful of victories. Since daybreak Richard had not laid aside his sword or axe, and his hand was all one blister.

No wonder the terror of his name endured for centuries in Palestine, and that the Arab chided his starting horse with, “Dost think that yonder is the Malek Rik?” while the mother stilled her crying child by threats that the Malek Rik should take it.

These violent exertions seriously injured Richard’s health, and a low fever placed him in great danger, as well as several of his best knights. No command or persuasion could induce the rest to commence any enterprise without him, and the tidings from Europe induced him to conclude a peace, and return home. Malek-el-Afdal came to visit him, and a truce was signed for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, three hours, and three minutes—thus so quaintly arranged in accordance with some astrological views of the Saracens. Ascalon was to be demolished, on condition free access to Jerusalem was allowed to the pilgrims; but Saladin would not restore the piece of the True Cross, as he was resolved not to conduce to what he considered idolatry. Richard sent notice that he was coming back with double his present force to effect the conquest; and the Sultan answered, that if the Holy City was to pass into Frank hands, none could be nobler than those of the Malek Rik. Fever and debility detained Richard a month longer at Joppa, during which time he sent the Bishop of Salisbury to carry his offerings to Jerusalem. The prelate was invited to the presence of Saladin, who spoke in high terms of Richard’s courage, but censured his rash exposure of his own life.

On October 9th, 1193, Coeur de Lion took leave of Palestine, watching with tears its receding shores, as he exclaimed, “O Holy Land! I commend thee and thy people unto God. May He grant me yet to return to aid thee!”

The return from this Crusade was as disastrous as that from the siege of Troy. David, Earl of Huntingdon, the Scottish King’s brother (the Sir Kenneth of the Talisman), who had shared in all Richard’s toils and glories, embarked at the same time, but was driven by contrary winds to Alexandria, and there seized and sold as a slave. Some Venetian merchants, discovering his rank, bought him, and brought him to their own city, where he was ransomed by some English merchants, and conducted by them to Flanders; but while sailing for Scotland, another storm wrecked him near the mouth of the Tay, near the town of Dundee, the name of which one tradition declares to be derived from his thankfulness—Donum Dei, the Gift of God. He founded a monastery in commemoration of his deliverance.

The two queens, Berengaria and Joan, were driven by the storm to Sicily, and thence travelled through Italy. At Rome, to their horror, they recognized the jewelled baldric of King Richard exposed for sale; but they could obtain no clue to its history, and great was their dread that he had either perished in the Mediterranean waves, or been cut off by the many foes who beset its coasts.

His ship had been driven out of its course into the Adriatic, where the pirates of the Dalmatian coast attacked it. He beat them off, and then prevailed on them to take him into their vessel and land him on the coast of Istria, whence he hoped to find his way to his nephew Otho, Count of Saxony, elder brother of Henry, King of Jerusalem. This was the only course that offered much hope of safety, since Italy, France, Austria, and Germany were all hostile, and the rounding Spain was a course seldom attempted; so that it was but a choice of dangers for him to attempt to penetrate to his own domains. Another shipwreck threw him on the coast between Venice and Aquileia; he assumed a disguise, and, calling himself Hugh the Merchant, set out as if in the train of one of his own knights, named Baldwin de Bethune, through the lands of the mountaineers of the Tyrol. The noblesse here were mostly relatives of Conrade of Montferrat; and Philippe Auguste having spread a report that Richard had instigated his murder, it was no safe neighborhood. He sent one of his men to Count Meinhard von Gorby, the first of these, asking for a safe-conduct, and accompanying the request with a gift of a ruby ring. Meinhard, on seeing the ring, exclaimed, “Your master is no merchant. He is Richard of England: but since he is willing to honor me with his gifts, I will leave him to depart in peace.”

However, Meinhard sent intelligence to Frederic of Montferrat, Conrade’s brother, through whose domains Richard had next to pass. He sent a Norman knight, called Roger d’Argenton, who was in his service, to seek out the English King; but d’Argenton would not betray his native prince, warned Richard, and told Frederic that it was only Baldwin de Bethune. Not crediting him, the Marquis passed on the intelligence to the Duke of Austria; and Richard, who had left Bethune’s suite, and was only accompanied by a page, found every inhabited place unsafe, and wandered about for three days, till hunger, fatigue, and illness drove him to a little village inn at Eedburg.

Thence he sent his servant to Vienna, a distance of a few miles, to change some gold bezants for the coin of the country. This attracted notice, and the page was carried before a magistrate, and interrogated. He professed to be in the service of a rich merchant who would arrive in a day or two, and, thus escaping, returned to his master, and advised him to hasten away; but Richard was too unwell to proceed, and remained at the inn, doing all in his power to avert suspicion—even attending to the horses, and turning the spit in the kitchen. His precautions were disconcerted; the page, going again to Vienna, imprudently carried in his belt an embroidered hawking-glove, which betrayed its owner to be of high rank; and being again seized and tortured, confessed his master’s name and present hiding-place.

Armed men were immediately sent to surround the inn, and the Mayor of Vienna, entering, found the worn-out pilgrim lying asleep upon his bed, and aroused him with the words, “Hail, King of England! In vain thou disguisest thyself; thy face betrays thee.”

Awakening, the Lion-heart grasped his sword, declaring he would yield it to none but the Duke. The Mayor told him it was well for him that he had fallen into their hands, rather than into those of the Montferrat family; and Leopold, arriving, reproached him for the insult to the Austrian banner, which indeed was far more dishonored by its lord’s foul treatment of a crusading pilgrim, than by its fall into the moat of Acre. He was conducted to Vienna, and thence to the lonely Castle of Tierenstein, where he was watched day and night by guards with drawn swords. Leopold sent information of his capture to the Emperor, Henry VI., who bore a grudge to Richard for his alliance with Tancred, who had usurped Sicily from the Empress Constance; he therefore offered a price for the illustrious prisoner, and placed him in the strong Castle of Triefels. Months passed away, and no tidings reached him from without. He deemed himself forgotten in his captivity, and composed an indignant sirvente in his favorite Provençal tongue. The second verse we give in the original, for the sake of being brought so near to the royal troubadour:

 “Or sachen ben, mici hom e mici baron,
  Angles, Norman, Peytavin, et Gascon,
  Qu’yeu non hai ja si pauore compagnon
  Que per ave, lou laissesse en prison.
  Faire reproche, certes yeu voli. Non;
  Mais souis dos hivers prez.”
 

Or, as it may be rendered in modern French:

  “Or sachent bien, mes hommes, mes barons,
  Anglais, Normands, Poitevins, Gascons,
  Que je n’ai point si pauvre compagnon
  Que pour argent, je le laisse en prison.
  Faire reproche, certes, je ne le veux. Non;
  Mais suis deux hivers pris.”
 

This melancholy line, “Two winters am I bound,” is the burden of the song, closing the recurring rhymes of each stanza. In the next he complains that a captive is without friends or relations, and asks where will be the honor of his people if he dies in captivity. He laments over the French King ravaging his lands and breaking the oaths they had together sworn while he is “deux hivers pris,” and speaks of two of his beloved troubadour companions by name, as certain to stir up his friends in his cause, and to mourn for his loss while he is “deux hivers pris.”

He was right; the troubadours were his most devoted friends; Bertram de Born was bewailing him, and Blondel de Nesle, guided by his faithful heart, sang his King’s own favorite lays before each keep and fortress, until the unfinished song was taken up and answered from the windows of the Castle of Triefels.

The clue was found: Queen Eleanor wrote instantly to the Pope, calling on him to redress the injury offered to a returning pilgrim, yet signed with the Cross, and sent two abbots and the Bishop of Ely to visit him. From them he learnt that his brother John and Philippe of France were using every means to prevent his return; but this gave him the less concern, as he said, “My brother John was never made for conquering kingdoms.”

His ex-chancellor, William Longchamp, who had been expelled from England for tyrannical government, thought to serve his cause by a forgery of a letter in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, purporting to be from the Old Man of the Mountain, exculpating Richard from the murder of Conrade. It ran thus: “To Leopold, Duke of Austria, and to all princes and people of the Christian faith, Greeting. Whereas many kings in countries beyond the seas impute to Richard, King and Lord of England, the death of the Marquis, I swear by Him who reigns eternally, and by the law which we follow, that King Richard had no participation in this murder. Done at our Castle of Shellia, and sealed with our seal, Midseptember, in the year 1503 after Alexander.”

No one thought of inquiring what brought this confession from the father of assassins, or why he chose Alexander for his errand, the letter was deemed conclusive, gave great encouragement to Richard’s partisans, and caused many of the French to refuse to take up arms against him.

Now that his captivity was public, Henry VI. sent for him to Hagenau, where he pleaded his cause before the diet, was allowed more liberty, and promised permission to ransom himself, after performing homage to the Emperor, which probably was required of him to show the subordination of the Royal to the Imperial rank.

Philippe and John tempted the avarice of Henry by the offer of twice the sum if he would give them the captive, or 20,000 marks for every month that he was detained. However, the free princes of Germany, stirred up by Richard’s nephew, the Count of Saxony, were so indignant at their master’s conduct, that he could not venture to accept the tempting offer, and on the 28th of February, 1194, he indited this note to his ally, the King of France: “Take care of yourself! The devil is unchained; but I could not help it.”

Philippe forwarded the warning to his accomplice, John, who tried to raise the English to prevent his brother from landing; but they were rejoicing at the return of their own King, and even before his arrival had adjudged John guilty of treason, and sentenced him to lose his manors.

March 20th, Richard landed at Sandwich, and two days after entered London, among the acclamations of his subjects, who displayed all their wealth to do him honor, and caused the Germans who accompanied him to say that, if their Emperor had guessed at half the riches of England, his ransom would have been doubled.

John was soon brought to sue for the pardon so generously given, and all ranks vied with each other in raising the ransom. William the Lion of Scotland presented the King with 2,000 marks, and the first instalment was sent to Germany; but before it arrived, Henry VI. was dead, and the Germans were so much ashamed of the transaction, that they returned the money.

Thus ended the expedition, in which Richard had gained all the glory that valor and generosity could attain, conquered a kingdom and given it away, fought battles with desperate courage and excellent skill, and shown much fortitude and perseverance, but had marred all by his unbridled temper.





CAMEO XXV. ARTHUR OF BRITTANY. (1187-1206.)

  Kings of England.
   1154. Henry II.
   1189. Richard I.
   1199. John.

  Kings of Scotland.
   1158. Malcolm IV.
   1165. William.

  King of France.
   1180. Philippe II.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1152. Friedrich I.
   1191. Henry VI.

  Popes.
   1183. Clement IV.
   1189. Celestine III.
   1193. Innocent III.

The son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Constance, Duchess of Brittany, was born at Nantes, on Easter-day, 1187, six months after the death of his father. He was the first grandson of Henry II., for the graceless young King Henry had died childless. Richard was still unmarried, and the elder child of Geoffrey was a daughter named Eleanor; his birth was, therefore, the subject of universal joy. There was a prophecy of Merlin, that King Arthur should reappear from the realm of the fairy Morgana, who had borne him away in his death-like trance after the battle of Camelford, and, returning in the form of a child, should conquer England from the Saxon race, and restore the splendors of the British Pendragons.

The Bretons, resolved to see in their infant duke this champion of their glories, overlooked the hated Angevin and Norman blood that flowed in his veins, and insisted on his receiving their beloved name of Arthur. Thanksgivings were poured forth in all the churches in Brittany, and the altars and shrines at the sacred fountains were adorned with wreaths of flowers.

At the same a time a Welsh bard directed King Henry to cause search to be made at Glastonbury, the true Avallon, for the ancient hero’s corpse, which, as old traditions declared, had been buried between two pyramids within the abbey. There, in fact some distance beneath the surface, was found a leaden cross, inscribed with the words, “Hic jacet sepultus inclytus Rex Arthurus in insula Avallonia” (Here lies buried the unconquered King Arthur in the isle of Avallon). A little deeper was a coffin, hollowed out of an oak tree, and within lay the bones of the renowned Arthur and his fair Queen Guenever. His form was of gigantic size; there were the marks of ten wounds upon his skull, and by his side was a sword, the mighty Caliburn, or Excalibar, so often celebrated in romances. Guenever’s hair was still perfect, to all appearance, and of a beautiful golden color, but it crumbled into dust on exposure to the air. The Bretons greatly resented this discovery, which they chose to term an imposture of Henry’s, in order to cast discredit on Merlin’s prediction.

They were, however, in no condition to oppose the grasping monarch; Henry entered Brittany, assembled the States at Nantes, and claimed the guardianship of his grandson’s person and domains. They were at first intimidated by his threats, but Constance showed so much spirit, that she obtained the keeping of her son, and the immediate government, though she was not to act without the advice and consent of the King of England, who received the oaths of the barons present. The widowed heiress suffered much persecution from the different suitors for her hand, among whom figured her brother-in-law, John Lackland; and Henry, fearing her marriage with some powerful prince, so tormented her by threats of removing her son from her charge, that he forced her into a marriage with Ranulf de Blondeville, Count of Chester, grandson to an illegitimate son of Henry I., a man of violent, and ambitious temper, and of mean and ungraceful appearance. In a dispute which took place between him and the Count de Perche, in Lincoln Cathedral, the latter contemptuously called him a dwarf. “Sayest thou so?” cried Ranulf; “ere long I shall seem to thee as high as that steeple!”—and his words were fulfilled, when, as Duke of Brittany, he claimed the allegiance of the Count.

He made himself extremely hated in Brittany by his cruelty and injustice; and no sooner had the news arrived of the death of Henry II., than the people rose with one consent, drove him away, and restored the power to Constance. Richard I. did not interfere in his behalf, and appeared favorable to his nephew Arthur, acknowledging him as heir-presumptive of England, and, when at Messina, betrothing him to the daughter of Tancred, King of Sicily. It was probably in honor of this intended alliance that Richard presented Tancred with the sword Excalibar, which certainly should never have passed out of the possession of the British.

Constance remained at peace for the present, though Richard’s absence left the other territories over which he asserted his power exposed to much disturbance. He had left the government of England in the hands of Hugh, Bishop of Durham (the young Earl), and William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely—a native of Beauvais, who had risen to high favor in the employ first of Geoffrey, the son of Rosamond, Archbishop of York, and was now chancellor, and afterward of Richard. He was an arrogant man, and broke through all restraint, imprisoned his colleague, deprived him of his offices, and forced him to resign his earldom; then, when Richard despatched orders that he should be re-instated, declared that he knew what were the King’s private intentions, and should obey no public instructions. He sealed public acts with his own seal instead of the King’s, kept a guard of fifteen hundred rapacious and disorderly mercenaries, plundered men of every rank, so that it was said “the knight could not keep his silver belt, the noble his ring, the lady her necklace, nor the Jew his merchandise.” He travelled in great state, with a train of minstrels and jesters, who drowned the outcries of the injured people by songs in his praise. Again Richard sent orders to restrain him, but in vain; he only declared them a forgery, and pursued his careless course.

Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, had sworn not to enter the kingdom for three years, but he now returned; whereupon the chancellor seized him while at mass, and kept him prisoner. John had no love for his half-brother: but this was a good opportunity of overthrowing the chancellor, after such an outrage on the person of an archbishop; and, at the head of the barons and bishops, he forced Longchamp to resign the chancellorship, and promise to give up the keys of the King’s castles.

To avoid yielding the castles, he attempted to escape from England in disguise, and arrived at the seashore of Kent in the dress of an old woman—a gown with large sleeves, a thick veil, and a bundle of linen and ell-wand in his hand. The tide did not serve, and he was forced to seat himself on a stone to wait for his vessel. Here the fisherwomen came up and began to examine his wares, and ask their price; but the English chancellor and bishop understood no English, and only shook his head. Thinking him a crazy woman, they peeped under his veil, and, “spying a great beard under his muffler,” raised a shout which brought their husbands to the spot, who, while he vainly tried to explain himself, dragged him in derision through the mud, and shut him up in a cellar. He was, however, released, gave up the keys, and left England.

Geoffrey became chancellor in his stead, and took possession of the see of York. The next disturbance was caused by the return of Philippe of France, begging Pope Celestine III. to absolve him of his oath to respect Richard’s dominions. Celestine refused, and no one was found to second his plans but Richard’s own brother John, whom he brought over by promises of securing to him the succession, and bestowing on him the continental fiefs. The English, and with them William the Lion of Scotland and his brother David, maintained the rights of the young Arthur, and matters continued in suspense till Richard’s release from his captivity.

Easily subduing and more easily pardoning his traitor brother, Richard carried his arms into France, gained a victory at Vendome, and took the great seal of France; then entered Guienne, where the turbulent nobility had revolted, and reducing them, enjoyed a short space of tranquillity and minstrelsy, and kept on a poetical correspondence with Count Guy of Auvergne.

Arthur, who was now nine years old, was, in 1196, introduced by his mother to the assembly of the States of Brittany, and associated with her in the duchy. His uncle at the same time claimed the charge of him as his heir, and invited Constance to a conference at Pontorson. On her way—it is much to be feared with his connivance—she was seized by a body of troops under her husband, the Earl of Chester, and carried a prisoner to the castle of St. James de Beuvron.

Her nobles met at St. Malo, and deputed the seneschal of Rennes to inquire of her how they should act, and to assure her of their fidelity. She thanked them earnestly, but her whole entreaty was that they would guard her son, watch him like friends, servants, and parents, and save him from the English. “As for me,” wrote she, “that will be as God wills; but whatever may befall me, do your best for Arthur my son. I shall always be well, provided he is well, and in the care of good subjects.”

The vassals wept at this letter, full of maternal love; they swore to devote themselves to their young lord, even to the death, and obtained from him a promise never to treat with the English without their consent. They placed him under the charge of the Sieur de Vitré, who conducted him from castle to castle with so much secrecy, that Richard continually failed in his attempts to seize on him. Treaties were attempted, but failed, with mutual accusations of perfidy, and while Constance continued a prisoner, a most desolating war raged in the unfortunate duchy. The dislike and distrust that existed between Constance and her mother-in-law, Queen Eleanor, seem to have been the root of many of these troubles; Eleanor was all-powerful with her son, and contrived to inspire him with distrust of Constance—a suspicion naturally augmented by her refusal to allow him the care of her son, his own heir, whom she placed in the hands of the foe of the English.

Richard’s troops were chiefly Brabançon mercenaries, or free-companions—a lawless soldiery, deservedly execrated; and their captain, Mercadet, was a favorite of the King on account of his dauntless courage and enterprise. In a skirmish, Mercadot took prisoner the Bishop of Beauvais, one of the warlike prelates who forgot their proper office. The Pope demanded his liberation, and Richard returned the suit of armor in which the bishop had been taken, with the message, “See if this be thy son’s coat, or no.”

“No, indeed,” said Celestine; “this is the coat of a son of Mars; I will leave it to Mars to deliver him.”

Vitré succeeded in lodging young Arthur, his charge, in the hands of the King of France, who espoused his cause as an excuse for attacking Richard. Several battles took place, and at length another treaty of peace was made, by which Constance was liberated, after eighteen months’ captivity. Doubtless this would soon have proved as hollow as every other agreement between the French King and the Plantagenet; but it was Coeur de Lion’s last.

The Vicomte de Limoges, in Poitou, sent him two mule-burdens of silver, part of a treasure found in his hands. Richard rapaciously claimed the whole. “No,” said the Vicomte, “only treasure in gold belongs to the suzerain; treasure in silver is halved.”

Richard, in anger, marched to Poitou with his Brabançons, and besieged the Castle of Chaluz, where he believed the rest of the riches to be concealed. In the course of the assault his shoulder was pierced by an arrow shot from the walls by an archer named Bertrand de Gourdon, and though the wound at first appeared slight, the surgeons, in attempting to extract the head of the arrow, so mangled the shoulder, that fever came on, and his life was despaired of. Mercadet, in the meantime, pushed on the attack, took the castle, and brought Gourdon a prisoner to the King’s tent.

“Villain, wherefore hast thou slain me?” said Richard.

“Because,” replied Gourdon, “thou hast with thine own hand killed my father and my two brothers. Torture me as thou wilt; I shall rejoice in having freed the world of a tyrant.”

The dying King ordered that the archer should be released, and have a sum of money given to him; but the Brabançons, in their rage and grief, flayed the unhappy man alive. Richard’s favorite sister Joan, Queen of Sicily, had married Raymond, Count of Toulouse, who was at this juncture in great distress from having taken the part of the persecuted Albigenses. She travelled to her brother’s camp to ask his aid, but arriving to find him expiring, she was taken ill, and, after giving birth to a dead child, died a few hours after her brother. They were buried together, at their father’s feet, at Fontevraud. Queen Berengaria survived him thirty years, living peacefully in a convent at Mans, where she was buried in the church of St. Julien, an English Queen who never set foot in England.

Loud were the lamentations of the troubadours of Aquitaine over their minstrel King, Bertrand de Born especially, bewailing him as “le roi des courtois, l’empereur des preux,” and declaring that barons, troubadours, jongleurs, had lost their all. This strange, contradictory character, the ardent friend yet the turbulent enemy of the Plantagenet princes, ended his life of rebellion and gallantry as a penitent in the Abbey of Citeaux. Dante nevertheless introduces him in his Inferno, his head severed from his body, and explaining his doom thus:

  “Sappi ch’i’son Bertram dal Bornio, quelli
  Che diedi al re Giovanni i ma’ comforti
  I’ feci’l padre e’l figlio in se ribelli
  Achitofel non fè pir d’Absalone
  E di David co’ malvagi pungelli
  Perch’ i’ parti cosi giunte persone
  Partito porto il mio cerebro, lasso
  Dal suo principio ch’é n questo troncone
  cosi s’osserva in me lo contrapasso.”
 

Queen Eleanor’s influence and Richard’s own displeasure at the Duchess of Brittany so prevailed, that Arthur was not even named by the dying Coeur de Lion; but he directed his barons to swear fealty to his brother John, and the wish was universally complied with.

Philippe Auguste’s voice was the only one uplifted in favor of Arthur, but it was merely as a means of obtaining a bribe, which John administered in the shape of the county of Evreux, as a marriage-portion for his niece, Blanche, the eldest daughter of Eleanor Plantagenet, Queen of Castile. John, though half-married to various ladies, had no recognized wife, and to give her to Louis, the eldest son of the King of France, would therefore, as John hoped, separate France from the interests of the Breton prince. He little thought what effect that claim would have on himself! Queen Eleanor, though in her seventieth year, travelled to Castile to fetch her granddaughter, a beautiful and noble lady, innocent of all the intrigues that hinged on her espousal, and in whom France received a blessing.

Philippe Auguste brought young Arthur to this betrothal, and caused him to swear fealty to his uncle for Brittany as a fief of Normandy. Arthur was now thirteen, and had newly received the order of knighthood, adopting as his device the lion, unicorn, and griffin, which tradition declared to have been borne by his namesake, and this homage must have been sorely against his will. He was betrothed to Marie, one of the French King’s daughters, and continued to reside at his court, never venturing into the power of his uncle.

His mother, Constance, had taken advantage of this tranquillity to obtain a divorce from the hated Earl of Chester, and to give her hand to the Vicomte Guy de Thouars; but the Bretons appear to have disapproved of the step, as they never allowed him to bear the title of Duke. She survived her marriage little more than two years, in the course of which she gave birth to three daughters, Alix, Catherine, and Marguerite, and died in the end of 1201.

Arthur set off to take possession of his dukedom, and was soon delighted to hear of a fresh disturbance between his uncle and the King of France, hoping that he might thus come to his rights.

John had long ago fallen in love with Avice, granddaughter of Earl Robert of Gloucester, and had been espoused to her at his brother’s coronation; but the Church had interposed, and refused to permit their union, as they were second cousins. He was now in the south of France, where he beheld the beautiful Isabelle, daughter of the Count of Angoulême, only waiting till her age was sufficient for her to fulfill the engagement made in her infancy, and become the wife of Hugh de Lusignan, called le brun, Count de la Marche, namely, the borders of English and French Poitou. Regardless of their former ties, John at once obtained the damsel from her faithless parents, and made her his queen; while her lover, who was ardently attached to her, called upon the King of France, as suzerain, to do him justice.

Philippe was glad to establish the supremacy of his court, and summoned John to appear. John promised compensation, and offered as a pledge two of his castles; then broke his word, and refused; whereupon Philippe took up arms, besieged the castles, and had just destroyed them both, when Arthur arrived, with all the Breton knights he could collect, and burning with the eagerness of his sixteen years.

At once Philippe offered to receive his homage for the county of Anjou, and to send him to conquer it with any knights who would volunteer to follow him. Hugh de Lusignan was the first to bring him fifteen, and other Poitevin barons joined him; but, in all, he could muster but one hundred knights and four or five hundred other troops, and the wiser heads advised him to wait for reinforcements from Brittany. The fiery young men, however, asked, “When was it our fashion to count our foes?” and their rashness prevailed. Arthur marched to besiege the town of Mirabeau, where there resided one whom he should never have attacked—his aged grandmother; but Constance had taught him no sentiment toward her but hatred, and with this ill-omened beginning to his chivalry he commenced his expedition.

The town was soon taken: but Eleanor’s high spirit had not deserted her; she shut herself up in the castle, and contrived to send intelligence to her son. John was for once roused, and marched to Mirabeau with such speed, that Arthur soon found himself surrounded in his turn. The Queen was in the citadel, the prince in the town, besieging her, and himself besieged by the King on the outside; but the town wall was strong, and John could not easily injure his nephew, nor send succor to his mother.

He recollected a knight named Guillaume dos Roches, who had once been attached to Arthur’s service, but was now in his camp; and sending for him, the wily King thus addressed him: “It is hard that persons who should be friendly kindred should so disturb each other for want of meeting and coming to an understanding. Here is Eleanor, my honored mother, discourteously shut up in a tower in danger of being broken down by engines of war, and sending forth nothing but cries and tears. Here is Arthur, my fair nephew, who some day will be an honor to chivalry, going straight forward, fancying nothing can hurt him, looking on battles as feasts and sports. And here am I, John, his lord and King, who could easily take from him at a blow all the rest of his life; I am waiting, and endeavoring to spare him, though his men-at-arms may come and catch me like a fox in the toils. Cannot you find some expedient? Can you remember no friend of my fair nephew who could help you to restore peace, and obtain a guerdon from me?”

“The only guerdon I desire,” replied Des Roches, “is the honor of serving my lord; but one gift I entreat.”

“I grant it, by the soul of my father,” said John.

“To-morrow, then,” said Des Roches, “the young Duke and all his young lords shall be at your disposal; but I claim the gift you granted me. It is, that none of the besieged shall be imprisoned or put to death, and that Duke Arthur be treated by you as your good and honorable nephew, and that you leave him such of his lands as rightfully pertain to him.”

John promised, and even swore that, if he violated his word, he released his subjects from their oaths. Arthur’s stepfather, Guy de Thouars, witnessed the agreement, and, thus satisfied, Des Roches introduced his troops into the town at midnight, and Arthur and his followers were seized in their sleep. But for John’s promise, he regarded it no more than the wind; he sent twenty-two knights at once to Corfe Castle, chained two and two together in carts drawn by oxen, where all but Hugh de Lusignan were starved to death by his orders. He threw the rest into different prisons, and closely confined his nephew at Falaise. Des Roches remonstrated, upon which John attempted to arrest both him and De Thouars, but they escaped from his dominions; and Des Roches was so grieved at the fatal consequence of his treachery, that he became a hermit, and ended his life in penance.

The old Queen, whose disposition had softened with her years, charged John, on pain of her curses, not to hurt his nephew, and exerted herself to save the victims from barbarity. She prevailed so far as to obtain the life of Lusignan; but he was shut up at Bristol Castle, where John likewise imprisoned the elder sister of Arthur, Eleanor, a girl of eighteen, of such peerless beauty that she was called the Pearl of Brittany. John held a parley with his nephew at Falaise, when the following dialogue took place; [Footnote: These particulars are from old chronicles of slight authority.]

“Give up your false pretentions,” said John, “to crowns you will never wear. Am I not your uncle? I will give you a share of my inheritance as your lord, and grant you my friendship.”

“Better the hatred of the King of France!” exclaimed the high-spirited boy; “he has not broken his faith, and with a noble knight there is always a resource in generosity.”

“Folly to trust him!” sneered John. “French kings are the born enemies of Plantagenets.”

“Philippe has placed the crown on my brow—he was my godfather in chivalry—he has granted me his daughter,” said Arthur.

“And you will never marry her, fair nephew! My towers are strong; none here resist my will.”

The boy burst out proudly: “Neither towers nor swords shall make me cowardly enough to deny the right I hold from my father and from God. He was your elder brother, now before the Saviour of men. England, Touraine, Anjou, Guienne, are mine in his right, and Brittany through my mother. Never will I renounce them, but by death.”

“So be it, fair nephew,” were John’s words, and with them he left his captive alone, to dwell on the horrors thus implied.

Soon after, John secretly sent a party of men into Arthur’s dungeon, with orders to put out his eyes. The youth caught up a wooden bench, and defended himself with it, calling so loudly for help as to bring to the spot the excellent governor of the castle, Hubert de Burgh, who had been in ignorance of their horrible design. He sent away the assassins, and, as the only means of saving the poor prince, he caused the chapel bell to be tolled, and let it be supposed that he had perished under their hands. All the world believed it, and Brittany and Normandy began to rise, to call the murderer to account. Hubert thought he was doing a service in divulging the safety of the prisoner, but the effect was, that John transferred the poor boy to Rouen, and to the keeping of William Bruce.

He was an old man, and dreaded the iniquity that he saw would soon be practised; and, coming to the King, gave up his charge in these words: “I know not what Fate intends for your nephew, whom I have hitherto faithfully kept. I give him up to you, in full health, and sound in limb; but I will guard him no longer; I must return to my own affairs.”

John’s eyes flashed fury; but the baron retired to his own fiefs, which he put in a state of defence. A few days after, John and his wicked squire, Pierre de Maulac, left the court, giving notice that he was going to Cherbourg, and, after wandering for three days in the woods of Moulineau, came late at night in a little boat to the foot of the tower where Arthur was confined. Horses were ready there, and he sent Maulac to bring him his nephew.

“Fair nephew,” said he, “come and see the day you have so long desired. I will make you free as air: you shall even have a kingdom to govern.”

Arthur began to ask explanations, but John cut him short, telling him there would be time for questions and thanks; and Maulac helped him to his horse, for he was so much weakened by his imprisonment that he could hardly mount. They rode on, Arthur in front, till they came to a spot where the river flowed beneath a precipitous bank. It was John’s chosen spot; and he spurred his horse against his nephew’s, striking him down with his sword. The poor boy cried aloud for mercy, promising to yield all he required.

“All is mine henceforth,” said John, “and here is the kingdom I promised you.”

Then striking him again, by the help of Maulac he dragged him to the edge of the rock, and threw him headlong into the Seine, whose waters closed over the brave young Plantagenet, in his eighteenth year, ending all the hopes of the Bretons. The deed of darkness was guessed at, though it was long before its manner became known; and John himself marked out its consummation by causing himself to be publicly crowned over again, and by rewarding his partner in the crime with the hand of the heiress of Mulgrave. His mother, Queen Eleanor, is said to have died of grief at the horror he had perpetrated. She had retired, after the siege of Mirabeau, to the convent of Fontevraud, where she assumed the veil, and now shared the same fate as her husband, King Henry—like him, dying broken-hearted for the crimes of their son. She was buried beside him and her beloved Coeur de Lion.

The Bretons mourned and raged at the loss of their young duke. His sister Eleanor was wasting her youth and loveliness in a prison, which she only left, after her oppressor’s death, to become a nun at Ambresbury; and they therefore proclaimed as their duchess her little half-sister, Alix de Thouars, who was, at four years old, presented to the States in her father’s arms, and shortly after married to an efficient protector, Pierre de Dreux, called, from his quarrels with the clergy, Mauclerc.

Never had the enemy of the Plantagenets been so well served as by King John. Such was the indignation and grief of the whole French noblesse, that, when Pope Innocent III sent out a legate to mediate between the two kings, the barons bound themselves by a charter, “to second their lord, King Philippe, in his war against King John, notwithstanding the will of the Pope, exhorting him to contrive it without being dismayed by vain words, and agreeing to give him all assistance, and enter into no treaty with the Pope save with his consent.”

Finding his nobles in this disposition, Philippe ventured on an unprecedented step, namely, that of summoning the King of England, as his vassal for Normandy and Anjou, to answer for the crime done on the person of his nephew, before his peers, namely, the other great crown vassals and barons holding fiefs directly from the King.

John did not deny the competence of the court of peers, and sent Hubert de Burgh, and Eustace, Bishop of Ely, to declare that he would willingly appear, provided a safe-conduct was sent to him. Philippe declared that he certainly might come in safety; but when they asked if he guaranteed his security, supposing he was condemned, he replied, “By all the saints of France, no! That must be decided by the peers.” The bishop declared that a crowned head could not be tried for murder; the English barons would not permit it. “What is that to me?” said Philippe. “The Dukes of Normandy have certainly conquered England; but because a vassal augments his domain, is the suzerain to lose his rights?”

Two months were allowed for John’s appearance in person; and on the appointed day the assembly was held in the Louvre: the nobles in ermine robes, and the heralds paraded the public places, calling on King John to appear and answer for his felony; then, as no reply was made, judgment was pronounced that his fiefs of Normandy, Anjou, and Poitou, were forfeited to the Crown, Guienne alone being excepted, as its heiress, his mother, was not at that time dead.

The execution followed upon the sentence: Philippe instantly marched into Normandy, and seized upon towns, his flatterers said, as if he caught them in a net. Chateau Gaillard, however, held out for more than a year, and Philippe was forced to blockade it. It had been fortified to perfection by Richard, who termed it his beautiful Castle on the Rock, and pertinaciously defended by Roger de Lacy. All the non-combatants were driven out; but the French would not allow them to pass through their lines, and they lived miserably among the rocks, trying to satisfy their hunger with the refuse of the camp. One wretched man was found gnawing a piece of the leg of a dog, and when some compassionate French tried to take it from him, he resisted, declaring he would not part with it till he was satisfied with bread. They fed him, but he could hardly masticate, though swallowing his food ravenously.

One tower was at last overthrown, and another was gained by a bold “varlet,” named Bogis, who was lifted on the shoulders of his comrades, till he could climb in at an undefended window, where he drew up sixty more with ropes. They burnt down the doors, and entered the castle, where only one hundred and fifty knights remained alive. Keeping them at bay, Bogis lowered the drawbridge, and admitted the rest of the army; the remains of the garrison retreated into the keep, still resolved not to surrender, though battering-rams, catapults, and every engine of war was brought to bear on them. A huge piece of wall fell down, still there was no surrender; but with night, all resistance ceased, and the French, entering in the morning, found every one of the garrison lying dead in the dust and ruins, all their wounds in the face and breast—not one behind, “to the great honor and praise of chivalry,” said their assailants, who rejoiced in their valor.

Only one feeble attempt had been made by John to succor these noble and constant men, though no further distant than Rouen, where he was feasting with his new queen. All his reply to messages of Philippe’s advance was, “Let him alone; I will regain more in a day than he can take in a year.”

Chinon was taken after a gallant defence, and in it Hubert de Burgh, for whom John seems to have had an unusual regard. For a moment it grieved him, and he awoke from his festivities to say to his queen:

“There, dame, do you hear what I have lost for your sake?”

“Sire,” said Isabella, who had learnt by this time at how dear a price she had purchased her crown, “on my part, I lost the best knight in the world for your sake!”

“By the faith I owe you, in ten years’ time we shall have no corner safe from the King of France and his power!”

“Certes! sir,” she answered, “I believe you are very desirous of being a king checkmated in a corner.”

She seems to have taken every occasion of showing her contempt for the mean-spirited wretch to whom she had given her hand: but at present her treatment only incited the King’s ardor of affection: he formed more schemes of pleasure for her, and turned a deaf ear to all complaints from his deserted subjects, until Falaise had surrendered, Mont St. Michael was burnt, and Rouen itself was threatened. Then he took flight, and returned to England, where he made his Norman war a pretext for taxes; but when the Rouennais citizens, who still had a love for the line of Rollo, came to tell him that they must surrender in thirty days unless they were succored, he would not interrupt his game at chess to listen to them; and, when it was finished, only said, “Do as you can: I have no aid to give you.”

They were therefore forced to surrender, Philippe swearing to respect their rights and liberties; and thus, after three hundred years, did the dukedom that first raised the Norman line to the rank of princes pass from the race of Rollo, disgracefully forfeited by a cowardly murder. The four little isles of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, are the only remnant of the duchy won by the Northman. They still belong to the Queen, as Duchess of Normandy, are ruled by peculiar Norman laws, and bear on their coinage only the three lions, without the bearings of her other domains.

Anjou, Maine, and Touraine, were won by the French, without one blow struck in their defence by Ingelger’s degenerate descendant, “whose sinful heart made feeble hand.” The recovery of his continental dominions served as a pretext for a tax of every tenth shilling; but this being illegal, Geoffrey, the Archbishop of York, refused to consent to, and threatened excommunication to all in his diocese who should pay it. John vowed vengeance, and placed his life in such danger that he was forced to flee from the country, and his death abroad saved the King from the guilt of the murder of a brother.

With the money John had raised, he levied a force of Brabançons and free-companions, entered Anjou, burnt Angers, and besieged Nantes; but on hearing of Philippe’s advance, retreated, and thus ended all hopes of his regaining his inheritance. The Norman barons, whose lands had passed to the French, told him that, if their bodies served him, their hearts would be with the French, and, for the most part, transferred their allegiance, and he remained with his disgrace. Thus was Arthur avenged.





CAMEO XXVI. THE INTERDICT. (1207-1214.)

   King of England. 1199. John.

   King of Scotland 1163. William.

   King of France 1180. Philippe II.

   Emperors of Germany.
        1208. Otho IV.
        1209. Friedrich III.

   Pope. 1198. Innocent III.

The election of bishops still remained a subject of dispute in the Church, in spite of the settlement apparently effected in the time of Archbishop Anselm, when it was determined that, on the vacancy of a see, the King should send a Congé d’élire (permission to elect) to the chapter of the cathedral, generally accompanied with a recommendation, and that the prelate should receive investiture from the Crown of the temporalities of his see. However, in the case of archbishoprics, the matter was complicated by the right of the bishops to have a voice in the choice of their primate, and by the custom of the Pope’s presenting him with a pall, which the grasping pontiffs of the thirteenth century would fain have converted into a power of rejection. At each election to Canterbury the debate broke out, enhanced by the jealousies between the secular clergy, who often formed the majority of the bishops, and who usually held with the sovereign, and the regular monks of St. Augustine, who were the canons of the cathedral, and looked to the Pope.

Richard, who succeeded Thomas à Becket, was a monastic priest, mild, and somewhat time-serving, conniving at irregularities, and never apparently provoked out of his meekness, except by the perpetual struggle for precedence with the see of York—and no wonder, when, at a synod at Westminster, Roger, Archbishop of York, fairly sat down in his lap on finding him occupying the seat of honor next to the legate. Upon this the Pope interfered, pronouncing the Archbishop of York, Primate of England, and him of Canterbury, Primate of all England; but the jealousy as to the right of having the cross carried before them in each other’s provinces continued for centuries to a lamentable and shameful degree.

Baldwin, who succeeded him, seems to have been secular, but little is known of him. He, with the consent of Richard Coeur de Lion, laid the foundation of a convent at Lambeth, which he intended as a residence for the primate, in order to lessen the preponderance of the canons of St. Augustine; he then accompanied the King on the Crusade, and died of fever before the walls of Acre.

Walter Hubert, Bishop of Salisbury, was also a Crusader, and a great friend of Richard, who, from his imprisonment, wrote letters to point him out as archbishop—a favor which he returned by great exertions in raising the King’s ransom. He was a completely worldly and secular priest, continually giving umbrage to his chapter, who used to complain of him to the Pope, and obtain censures, of which he took no heed. When Richard made him Grand Justiciary, they declared that it was contrary to all rule for him to be judge in causes of blood; whereupon the Pope ordered the King to remove him from the office, but without much effect. Sharing Richard’s councils, he had the same dislike to Constance and her son, and willingly crowned John, making a dangerous and disloyal speech, in which he pronounced the kingdom elective, and to be conferred on the most worthy of the royal family. He accepted the chancellorship from John, and was so fond of boasting of its riches and dignities, that he drew on himself a rebuke from Hugh Bardolfe, one of the rude barons. “My Lord, with your leave, if you would consider the power and dignity of your spiritual calling, you would not undertake the yoke of lay servitude.” But, unchecked by this rebuke, he gave offence to John by foolishly trying to vie with the King in the richness of the raiment given at Christmas to his retainers—an affront to John which a sumptuous feast at Easter could not efface.

The chief grievance to the Augustine chapter at Canterbury was the new foundation at Lambeth; they dreaded that Becket’s relics might be translated thither, and they never ceased appealing to Pope Innocent III. till they had obtained an order for its demolition. This dispute made them more than ever bent on an archbishop of their own choice.

Hubert died at Canterbury, July 18th, 1205, and the younger monks were misled by party-spirit into the attempt to steal a march on the rest. They assembled on the night of his death, and elected their sub-prior Reginald, conducted him to the cathedral, placed him on the archiepiscopal throne, and hurried him off in secret to Rome, with strict injunctions not to divulge his election till he had obtained confirmation of it from the Pope.

Reginald was as imprudent as might have been expected from his acceptance of a dignity thus conferred; he had no sooner crossed the sea, than he began to boast of his rank as archbishop-elect. These tidings coming back to England, his own supporters were ashamed of him, and, willing to have their transaction forgotten, joined with their elders, the bishops, and the King, in appointing John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich, a man apparently of the same stamp as Hubert, as he was one of the Justiciaries, and little attentive to the affairs of his diocese. Twelve of the canons of St. Augustine were despatched to Rome to explain the affair to the Pope, offer him a present of 12,000 marks, and obtain the pall for Gray.

The Pope examined into the subject, and pronounced, of course, Reginald’s election null, and Gray’s also null, because made before the former claim had been disposed of. The twelve canons were therefore to make a fresh election, and as this had been foreseen before they left home, the King had bound them by oath to choose no one but Gray. Innocent might justifiably object to such a person, but his proceedings were in accordance with the violent and domineering spirit which actuated him. His nominee was an Englishman named Stephen Langton, a learned man, who had taught in the University of Paris, of which he was now chancellor; he had been recommended from thence to Innocent, who had given him high office at Rome, and made him a cardinal. His life was irreproachable, and he was deeply learned in the Scriptures, which it is said he was the first to divide into verses. To so distinguished and excellent a person Innocent hoped no objection could arise; and when the canons of St. Augustine demurred as to their oath, and the King and chapter’s right, he silenced their scruples by threats of excommunication, and they all, excepting one named Elias de Braintefeld, concurred in appointing Langton and enthroning him, singing Te Deum while Elias stood at the door.

Innocent wrote to John two letters. The first was merely complimentary, and contained four rings, with explanations of their emblematic meaning. Their circular form signified eternity; their number, constancy; the emerald was for faith; the sapphire for hope; the red granite for charity; the topaz for good works. In his other letter, he recommended Langton to the King, dwelling on his many high qualities, on which John himself had previously complimented him.

A good archbishop was the last thing John desired, especially a man of high spirit and ability, who would act as a restraint on him, and he refused to receive the letters. The chapter of Canterbury, however, confirmed the election, and the Pope, after waiting in vain for an answer from the King, consecrated Stephen Langton at Viterbo, June 17th.

John certainly so far had the advantage that his opponents had placed themselves in the wrong, but as no one could outdo him in that respect, he instantly fell on the unfortunate monks of Canterbury, and declaring them guilty of high treason, sent two of his most lawless men-at-arms and their followers to drive them out of the country. At the same time he wrote to the Pope that he was astonished at his thus treating a country that contributed so largely to the papal revenues; that he was resolved to support Gray’s election, and that he was determined that Langton should never set foot in England.

Innocent remonstrated in vain, declaring that this should never be made a precedent for interference with future appointments. John held out, and at length the Pope availed himself of the power ascribed to him, to force the King to compliance, by declaring his country under the ban of the Church.

It is said that, in the midst of the horrible confusion that followed the death of Charlemagne, the idea of such an expedient had first arisen. In the Synod of Limoges, the Abbot Odolric had proposed that, till the nobles should cease from their ravages, the churches should be stripped of their ornaments, the mass not be celebrated, no marriages take place, and the abstinence of Lent be observed. This universal mourning had brought the ferocious nobles to a sense of their guilt, and more peaceful times had succeeded, so that an interdict was considered as one of the mightiest weapons in the armory of the Church.

Only a few years before, Innocent had, by an interdict on the kingdom of France, forced Philippe Auguste to put away Agnes de Meranie, whom he had married in the lifetime of his lawful wife Ingeberge. Then (if ever) it was properly employed, to enforce morality; but it was a different thing to lay a whole nation under the ban of the Church merely for a dispute respecting an appointment.

Innocent sent orders to the bishops of London, Ely, and Worcester, to publish the interdict on the Monday of Passion week, 1208 (the second before Easter). They went to the King, and besought him to be reconciled with the Pope, and avert this dreadful edict. He grew pale with rage, foamed at the mouth, and threatened them furiously; swore at the clergy, drove them from his presence, and issued orders that his officers should seize, the property of every man who paid any attention to the interdict. “If you, or any of your body, dare to lay my states under interdict, I will send you to Rome, and seize your goods; and if I catch one Roman priest in my realms, I will cut off his nose and put out his eyes, that all may know he is a Roman!”

Nevertheless, on the appointed day it was pronounced by the three prelates, according to the appointed form.

At night the clergy assembled, each bearing a torch, and with one voice chanted the Miserere, and other penitential psalms and prayers, while the church-bells rang out the ‘broken funeral-knell. Veils were hung over the crucifixes, the consecrated Wafer of the Host was consumed by fire, the relics and images of the saints were carried into the crypts, and then the bishops, in the violet robes of mourning used on Good Friday, announced to the frightened multitude, in the name of Heaven, that the domains of John, King of England, were laid under the ban of the Church until he should have rendered submission to the Holy See. Every torch was then at once extinguished, in token that the light of the Gospel was denied them!

Thenceforth every church was closed; no bell pealed forth, no mass was offered, no matins nor vespers were sung. Only the dying were permitted to communicate, but their corpses were laid in the ground with maimed rites; infants were baptized, but their mothers were churched only in the churchyard, where on Sunday a sermon was preached, and on Good Friday the cross was carried out and exposed for the veneration of the people.

The monasteries were allowed to carry on their services, on condition that they did so with closed doors, admitting no one from without; and the Cistercian order considered it as their privilege to be exempt, and to open their churches for worship as usual. Neither did the King’s favorite, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, nor De Gray himself, choose to acknowledge the interdict, so that the services continued as usual in their sees, and in many single parishes. These were the only two bishops in England; for the three who proclaimed the interdict had at once to flee for their lives, and the others, few in number at present, soon followed them. De Gray being soon after sent as deputy to Ireland, Des Roches was the sole bishop left to all England.

The King made light of it; and when, in the chase, he killed an unusually fat buck, he said, laughing, “Here is a fellow who has prospered well enough without ever hearing matins or vespers.” But he was much enraged; he imprisoned the relatives of the fugitive bishops, and announced himself ready to drive every priest who should obey the interdict out of the kingdom, to be maintained, as he said, by the Pope. The Archdeacon of Norwich experienced his cruelty for consulting with his brethren on enforcing it. The Angevin soldiers seized him, and soldered on his neck a cope of lead, so that he perished in prison under its weight, and from hunger.

Afterward, however, some terror seized on John, and he ordered his officers to allow the bishops enough to provide them two dishes of meat each day, while the secular clergy were to receive as much as should be adjudged needful for their support by four sworn men of their parish. Moreover, the man who, by word or deed, abused any of the clergy, should forthwith be hanged upon an oak!

The Pope followed up his interdict by excommunicating John, and absolving his subjects from their oaths of allegiance, but a strict watch was kept on the ports, and no one seems ever to have dared to lay the bull before the King. However, its existence was well known, and rendered John very uneasy. He wished to hear what his fate was to be, and his half-brother, William Longsword, brought him a hermit, named Peter of Wakefield, who told him he would wear his crown no longer than next Ascension Day. John flew into a rage, and called him idiot-knave; declared that, as idiot, he pardoned him, but, as knave, he imprisoned him in Corfe Castle, till he should see whether his tale came true.

The King, to preserve the obedience of the nobles, demanded their children to be kept as hostages. One of those to whom the order came was William de Braose, Lord of Bramber, in Sussex, and of a wide district in Ireland. Herds of the wild white cattle with red ears roamed about his estate, and his wife is said to have boasted that she could victual a besieged castle for a month with her cheeses, and yet have some to spare. When John’s squire, Pierre de Maulac, the hated governor of Corfe, who was accused of having aided in the murder of Arthur, came to demand her children, the high-spirited lady answered that the King had not taken such care of his own nephew as to make her entrust her son to his keeping. Her husband was alarmed for the consequences of her bold speech, sent four hundred of the oxen as a present to the Queen, and fled with his wife to Ireland; but in his absence, two years after, John made a progress thither, seized upon her and her children, and sent them back to Corfe, where Maulac, by his orders, starved them all to death in the dungeons. The eldest son escaped, being with his father in France, where the unhappy Lord of Bramber died of grief on hearing of their horrible fate, the most barbarous action which has ever stained the pages of English history.

Innocent now put forth a bull addressed to the King of France, saying that the prelates of Canterbury, London, and Ely, having declared to him the cruel persecution of the English Church, he had, in presence of his cardinals, solemnly deposed King John; and in order that a greater and more noble prince might be summoned to the throne, he granted it to Philippe Auguste, assuring him that all his efforts to conquer it should be reckoned for the remission of his sins, and that he might transmit his conquests to his descendants. He wrote other letters, desiring the French nobles to second their King in their enterprise; and there were many English who, grieved by the censures of the Church, and suffering personal injuries from their tyrant, were ready to seek aid in a new dynasty. Walter Hubert’s doctrine of the most worthy was an unfortunate one for such a king as John, and he began to reap the fruits of it when placed in comparison with Louis the Lion, whom, by the marriage with his niece, Blanche of Castille, he had placed next in succession to his own infant children.

Louis collected a fleet and army, and put forth a proclamation; while John forced money from his subjects, robbed the monasteries, and tortured the Jews. One of them, refusing to pay an exorbitant demand of 10,000 marks, was seized, and condemned daily to lose a tooth until he should consent. He held out seven days, and did not yield up the sum till he had lost all his double teeth. Scotland and Wales were also stirred up against him; and though he made a treaty with William the Lion, and defeated Llewellyn of Wales, his danger was pressing, and John de Gray, the chosen archbishop, is said to have done his best, to put the Pope in the right, by advising his master to seek the alliance of the Emir of Cordova, Mahomet of Nesser, one of the brave, generous, and learned Moors of Spain, who had it in his power seriously to damage France on the southern frontier, and thus make a diversion in his favor.

Two knights and a clerk, it is alleged, were sent on this mission, proposing to Mahomet to take John under his protection on receiving a tribute from him, and he even offered himself and De Gray to become Mahometans, so as to be rid of Pope and cardinals together.

The bearers of this base proposal were admitted to the palace. At the first door they found soldiers with drawn swords, in the second a band of nobles, in the third a species of couch guarded by ferocious-looking warriors, who opened their ranks and let them approach the Saracen prince. They explained their mission, and gave him the King’s letters, which were translated by an interpreter, while they studied the grave and majestic but gentle expression of his countenance. After some minutes’ reflection, he thus spoke: “A few moments ago I was reading a book by a Greek sage; who was a Christian, by name Paul, whose words and acts please me exceedingly. One thing alone in him displeases me, namely, that, born under the Jewish law, he forsook the faith of his fathers to adopt a new one. It is the same with your King of England, who, renouncing the religion to which he was born, is bent and moulded like wax. I know the Almighty is ignorant of nothing; and, had I been born with no religion, I might have chosen the Christian. But tell me, what is the King of England—what are the strength and riches of his realm?”

The clerk then spoke: “Our King is born of illustrious ancestors, his domains are rich in fertile pastures, forests, and mines; his people are mighty and handsome, possessed of sciences, and ruling over three tongues—Welsh, Latin, and French. The English understand all arts, especially mechanics and navigation, and they have gained the title of Island Kings.”

“Ah, ha!” said the Moor, smiling; “but how can the prince of so fair a kingdom condescend, to offer to give up his freedom, pay tribute, and put himself under subjection? He must be sick. What is his age?”

“Between forty and fifty—strong and healthy.”

“I see how it is! He is losing his youthful spirit!” Then, after a silence, “Your King is nothing; he is only a kinglet growing enfeebled and old. I care not for him; he is unworthy to be united to me. Away with you! Your master’s infamy stinks in my nostrils!”

The envoys retired in confusion; but the Emir had been struck by the appearance of the clerk, a small, deformed man, with a dark, Jewish face, one arm longer than the other, misshapen fingers, wearing the tonsure and clerical habit; and thinking there must be superior intelligence to counterbalance so unprepossessing an aspect, he sent for him in private, and asked him on oath respecting the morals and character of his master. He was obliged to confess the whole truth; and Mahomet asked, in surprise, “How can the English allow this cowardly tyrant to misuse them? Are they effeminate and servile?”

“No, indeed,” was the answer, “but they are very patient, until driven to extremity; then, like the wounded lion or elephant, they rise against their oppressor.”

“I blame their weakness,” said the Emir: “they should put an end to the wretch.”

So, obtaining nothing for their master by his plan of apostasy, the envoys were dismissed, the clerk alone having received a present from the Saracen prince, who had been pleased with his ability. While buoyed up by these hopes, John had shown some spirit; he had fitted out a fleet, which suddenly crossed the Channel and burnt the French ships at Dieppe, and he was at the head of an army of 60,000 men in Kent. But he did not trust his own forces, and, on hearing there was no aid to be looked for from Spain, his courage failed, and he was ready, after all his threats, to make any concession.

Hubert, Abbot of Beaulieu, the monastery founded by John in expiation of Arthur’s murder, was secretly sent with offers of submission, and two Knights of the Temple arrived at the camp with a message that Cardinal Pandulfo, the Pope’s legate, would fain see the King in private. John consented, and Pandulfo, coming to him at Dover, terrified him dreadfully with the description of the French armament, and then skilfully talked of the Pope’s clemency and forgiveness. This took the more effect that Ascension Day was approaching, and the prediction of Peter of Wakefield way preying on his mind.

On the 13th of May, John consented, in the presence of four of his nobles—the Earls of Salisbury, Boulogne, Warenne, and Ferrars—to a treaty such as had been previously offered to him, receiving Langton, recalling the exiled clergy, and making restitution for the injuries they had suffered. This deed was sealed by the King and the four earls, and it seemed as if all were arranged.

Next day, however, the legate was closeted with the King; and on the following, the eve of the Ascension, 1213, the English were amazed by the proceedings of the King.

He repaired to the church of the Temple early in the morning, and there an instrument was read aloud: “Ye know,” it said, in the name of John to his subjects, “that we have deeply offended our Holy Mother the Church, and that it will be hard to draw on us the mercy of Heaven. Therefore we would humble ourselves, and without constraint, of our own free will, by the consent of our barons and high justiciaries, we give and confer on God, on the holy Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, on our Mother the Church, and on Pope Innocent III. and his Catholic successors, the whole kingdom of England and of Ireland, with all their rights and dependencies, for the remission of our sins; henceforth we hold them as a fief, and in, token thereof we swear allegiance and pay homage in presence of Pandulfo, Legate of the Holy See.”

John seems to have found no chancellor who would seal the charter of his shame, but to have had to set the great seal to it himself; thus giving to the Pope, “for the remission of his sins,” the crown which the Saracen had disdained! The cardinal legate seated himself on the vacated throne, John knelt at his feet, laid down the crown, and spoke the words of allegiance as a vassal, offering money as the earnest of the tribute. Pandulfo indignantly trampled on the coin, in token that the Church scorned earthly riches; but earthly honors Rome did not scorn, and for five days the crown remained in the cardinal’s keeping. So John was discrowned on Ascension Day, and Peter of Wakefield’s prediction was verified; but it did not save the poor prophet. The vindictive wretch, who pretended to have yielded his throne for the pardon of his sins, caused him and his son to be drawn at the tails of horses, and hanged on gibbets.

The excommunication was removed, and the hateful John was declared a favored son of the Church, while Pandulfo went to put a stop to the French expedition. This was not quite so easy; Philippe Auguste had been at great expense, and he could not endure to let his enemy escape him; he was the Pope’s friend only when it suited him, and he swore that, Pope or no Pope, he would invade England. Ferrand, Count of Flanders, remonstrated and Philippe drove him away in a fury, “By all the saints, France shall belong to Flanders, or Flanders to France!”

So he burst into Flanders, and besieged Ghent. Ferrand sent to John for aid, and the fleet under the command of the earls of Holland and Salisbury utterly destroyed the French fleet at Bruges, on which Philippe depended for provisions, so that he was forced to retreat to his own country. The following year, as he was still in opposition to the Pope, a league was formed for the invasion of France, between John, his nephew Otho, Emperor of Germany, and many other friends of Innocent, but it only resulted in a shameful defeat at Bouvines, where Philippe signalized his courage and generalship, and John and Otho fled in disgrace. In this battle the Bishop of Beauvais again fought, but thought to obviate the danger of being disavowed by his spiritual father by using no weapon save a club.

In the meantime, Stephen Langton arrived in England, took possession of his see, and at Winchester received a reluctant kiss from the King, who bitterly hated the cause of his shame. The Cardinal Archbishop publicly absolved the King, and relieved the country from the interdict under which it had groaned for five years.

It is a melancholy history of the encroachments of Rome, and of the atrocious wickedness of the English King; and perhaps the worst feature in the case was that his crimes went unreproved, and that it was only his resistance to the Pope that was punished. The love of temporal dominion was ruining the Church of Rome.





CAMEO XXVII. MAGNA CHARTA. (1214-1217.)

  Kings of England.
   1199. John.
   1216. Henry III.

  King of Scotland.
   1214. Alexander II.

  King of France.
   1180. Philippe II.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1209. Friedrich II.

  Popes.
   1198. Innocent III.
   1216. Honorius III.

The first table of English laws were those of Ina, King of Wessex. Alfred the Great published a fuller code, commencing with the Ten Commandments, as the foundation of all law. Ethelstane and St. Dunstan, in the name of Edgar the Peaceable, added many other enactments, by which the lives, liberties, and property of Englishmen were secured as soundly as the wisdom of the times could devise.

These were the laws of Alfred and Edward the Confessor, which William the Conqueror bound himself to observe at his coronation, but which he entirely set at nought, bringing in with him the feudal system, according to his own harsh interpretation. The Norman barons who owned estates in England found themselves more entirely subject to the King, who brought them in by right of conquest, than they had been by ancient custom to their duke in Normandy; and Saxons and Normans alike were new to the strict Forest Laws introduced by William.

Every king of doubtful right tried to win the favor of the Saxons, a sturdy and formidable race, though still in subjection, by engaging to give them the laws of their own dynasty. With this promise William Rufus was crowned, and likewise Henry I., who even distributed copies of the charter to be kept in the archives of all the chief abbeys, but afterward caused them, it seems, to be privately destroyed. Stephen made the same futile promise, failing perhaps, more from inability than from design; and after his death the nation was so glad of repose on any terms, that there were no special stipulations made on the accession of Henry II. He and his Grand Justiciary, Ranulf de Glanville, governed according to law, but it was partly the law of Normandy, partly of their own device; the Norman parlement of barons, and the Saxon Wittenagemot, were alike ignored. The King obtained sufficient supplies from his own immense estates, and from the fines which he had the power to demand at certain times as feudal superior, and did in fact obtain at will, and exact even for doing men justice in courts of law.

As long as there was an orderly sovereign, such as Henry II. the unlimited power of the Crown was tolerable; under a reckless, impetuous prince like Coeur de Lion, it was a grievance; and, in a tyrant such as John Lackland, it became past endurance. His fines were outrageous extortion, and here and there the entries in the accounts show the base, wanton bribery in his court. The Bishop of Winchester paid a tun of good wine for not reminding the King to give a girdle to the Countess of Albemarle; Robert de Vaux gave five of his best palfreys that the King might hold his tongue about Henry Pinel’s wife; while a third paid four marks for permission to eat. Moreover, no man’s family was safe, even of the highest rank: the death of the Lady of Bramber was fresh in the memory of all; and Matilda the Fair, the daughter of Robert Lord Fitzwalter, was seized, carried from her home, and, because she refused to listen to the suit of the tyrant, her father was banished, his castles destroyed, and the maiden, after enduring with constancy two years’ imprisonment in a turret of the White Tower of London, was poisoned with an egg.

The person of whom John stood most in awe, was his Grand Justiciary, Geoffrey Fitzpiers, who, though of low birth, had married the Countess of Essex, and was highly respected for his character and situation.

One day the King, with his usual imprudence, pointed him out to the Provost of St. Omer. “Seest thou him yonder? Never did one man watch another as he watches me, lest I should get some of his goods; but as much pains as he takes to watch me, so much do I take to gain them.”

Fitzpiers was not out of earshot, and his comment was, “Sir Provost, well did I hear what the King said to thee; and since he is so set on my wealth, he will surely get it; but thou knowest; and he knows, that I can raise such a storm as he will feel many a day after my death.”

John’s fears did not prevent him from imposing a fine of 12,000 marks on Geoffrey, which ended his patience. He entered into an understanding with the barons, who had just been summoned by John to attend him on his expedition against France. They joined him, but sailed no further than Jersey, where they declared that the forty days they were bound to serve by feudal tenure were passed; and all, turning back, met Archbishop Langton and the Grand Justiciary at St. Albans, where Fitzpiers commenced his retaliation, by proclaiming, in the King’s name, the old Saxon charter of Alfred and Edward, renewed by Henry I., as well as the repeal of the Forest Laws.

Back came John in rage and fury, and let loose his free-companions on the estates of the confederates. At Northampton, Stephen Langton met him, and forbade his violence. “These measures are contrary to your oaths,” he said. “Your vassals have a right to be judged only by their peers.”

John reviled him. “Rule you the Church,” he said; “leave me to govern the State.”

Langton left him, but met him again at Nottingham, assuring him the barons would come to have their cause tried, and threatening excommunication to every one who should execute the King’s barbarous orders. This brought John to terms, and all parties met in London, where the Archbishop had a previous conference with the barons, to which he brought a copy of the Charter, with great difficulty procured from one of the monasteries. He read it to them, commented on its provisions, and they ended by mutually engaging to conquer, or die in defence of their rights as Englishmen. The Norman barons were glad enough so to term themselves, and to take shelter under English laws.

But it was the Pope’s kingdom now, not that of craven John; and Innocent sent a legate, Nicholas, Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum, to settle the affair. John debased himself by repeating the homage and oath of fealty, and by giving a fresh charter of submission, sealed not with wax, but with gold, as if to make it more binding.

The injuries done to the barons by the free-companions were beyond the King’s power of restitution, but the Pope adjudged him to pay 15,000 marks for the present, after which John set off on his disastrous journey to Bouvines. In his absence, Fitzpiers died, and this quite consoled him for his defeat. “It’s well,” he cried; “he is gone to shake hands in hell with our primate Hubert! Now am I first truly a King!”

But Geoffrey’s storm was near its bursting, precipitated perhaps by the loss of this last curb on the lawless King. Langton was seriously displeased with the legate, who had taken all the Church patronage into his hands, and was giving it away to Italians, foreigners, children—nay, even promising it for the unborn. The Archbishop sent his brother Simon to appeal to the Pope, but could get no redress. Innocent was displeased with him for opposing the protégé of the papal see; and certainly he had no right to complain of the Roman patronage while he held the see of Canterbury.

However, he was too much of an Englishman to see his Church or his country trampled down; and at Christmas, 1214, there was another assembly of the barons at Bury St. Edmund’s. The plans were arranged, and an oath taken by each singly, kneeling before the high altar in the church of the royal Saxon saint, that if the laws were rejected, they would withdraw their oaths of allegiance.

They set out for Worcester to present their charter to the King, but he got intelligence of their design, hastened to London, and put himself under the protection of the Knights of the Temple. They followed him, and on Twelfth Day laid the charter before him. He took a high tone, and only insisted on their declaring by hand and seal that they would never so act again; but finding this was not the way to treat such men, promised, on the security of the Archbishop, the Bishop of Ely, and Earl of Pembroke, to grant what they asked at Easter.

He used the space thus gained in taking the Cross, that he might enjoy the immunities of a Crusader, fortifying his castles, and sending for free-companions, while both parties wrote explanations to the Pope. John obtained encouragement, Langton was severely reprehended; Innocent declared all the confederacies of the barons null and void, and forbade them for the future, under pain of excommunication.

In Easter-week the barons met at Stamford, with 2,000 knights and their squires. Their charter was carried to the King at Oxford by the Archbishop and the Earls of Pembroke and Warenne. They were received with fury. “Why do not they ask my crown at once?” cried John. “Do they think I will grant them liberties that would make me a slave?”

Then, with more moderation, he proposed to appeal to the Pope, and to redress all grievances that had arisen in his own time or in that of his brothers; but they still adhered to their demands, and when Pandulfo called on the Primate to excommunicate the insurgent barons, Langton made answer that he was better instructed in the Pope’s views, and unless the King dismissed his foreign soldiers, he should be obliged to excommunicate them.

John offered to refer the matter to nine umpires—namely, Innocent, four chosen by himself, and four by the barons; but this also was rejected: the barons would have no terms short of their Great Charter; and electing the most injured of all, Robert Fitzwalter, as their general, they marched against Northampton. It was garrisoned by the King’s foreign mercenaries, who refused all attempts to corrupt them; and as the want of machines made it impossible to take it, the barons proceeded to Bedford after fifteen days, their spirits somewhat damped.

However, Bedford opened its gates, and tidings reached them that London was favorably disposed. They therefore proceeded thither, and arrived on the first Sunday in June, early in the morning, when the gates were opened, and the burghers all at mass in the churches. They entered in excellent order, took possession of the Tower, and thence sent forth proclamations, terming themselves the Army of God and of Holy Church, and calling on every one to join them, under pain of being used as traitors and rebels.

The whole country responded; scarcely a man, Saxon or Norman, who was not with them in spirit; and John, then at Odiham, in Hampshire, found himself deserted by all his knights save seven. He was at first in deadly terror; but soon rallying his spirits, he resolved to cajole the barons, pronounced that what his lieges had done was well done, and despatched the Earl of Pembroke to assure them of his readiness and satisfaction in granting their desires: all that was needed was a day and place for the meeting.

“The day, the 15th of June; the place, Runnymede,” returned his loving subjects.

The broad, smooth, green meadow of Runnymede, on the bank of the Thames, spreading out fair and fertile beneath the heights of Windsor, became a watchword of English rights.

The stalwart barony of England, Norman in name and rank, but with Saxon blood infused in their veins, and strength consisting of stout Saxon yeomen and peasantry, there arrayed themselves, with Robert Fitzwalter for their spokesman and leader; and thither, on the other hand, came, from Windsor Castle, King John, accompanied by Cardinal Pandulfo, Amaury, Grand Master of the Temple, Langton, and seven other bishops, and Pembroke with twelve nobles, but scarcely one of these, except the two first, whose heart was not with the barons on the other side.

The charter was spread forth—the Great Charter, which, in the first place, asserted the liberty of the Church of England, and then of its people. It forbade the King to exact arbitrary sums from his subjects without the consent of a council of the great crown vassals; it required that no man should be made an officer of justice without knowledge of the law; and forced from the King the promise not to sell, refuse, or defer right or justice to any man; neither to seize the person or goods of any free man without the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. The same privileges were extended to the cities, but the serfs or villeins had no part in them; the nobility of England had not yet learnt to consider them worthy of regard. Much, however, was done by the recognition of the law, and Magna Charta has been the foundation of all subsequent legislation in England. A lesser charter was added on the oppressive Forest Laws, which it in some degree mitigated by lessening the number of royal forests, and appointing nobles in each county to keep in check the violence of the King’s keepers.

The original Charter itself, creased with age and injured by fire, but with John’s great seal still appended to it, remains extant in the British Museum, a copy beside it, bearing in beautiful old writing in Latin the clear, sharp, lawyer-like terms with which the barons, who, rough and turbulent as they were, must have had among them men of great legal ability, sought to bind their tyrant to respect their lives and lands.

Four-and-twenty of their number, and with them the Mayor of London, were appointed to enforce the observance of the Charter, which was sent out to the sheriffs in all the counties to be proclaimed by them with sounds of trumpet at the market-crosses and in the churches; while twelve men, learned in the law, were to be chosen to inquire into and re dress all grievances since the accession. Moreover, every Poitevin, Brabançon, and other free-companion in the King’s service was to be immediately dismissed, and the barons were to hold the city of London, and Langton the Tower, for the next two months.

The Charter was thus sealed, June 15th, 1215; and John, as long as he was in the presence of the barons, put a restraint on himself, and acted as if it was granted, as it professed to be, of his own free will and pleasure, speaking courteously to all who approached, and treating the matter in hand with his usual gay levity, signing the Charter with so little heed to its contents that the wiser heads must have gathered that he had no intention of being bound by them. However, they had achieved a great victory, and, after parting with him, amused themselves by arranging for a tournament to be held at Stamford; while John, when within the walls of Windsor, gave vent to his rage, threw himself on the ground, rolled about gnawing sticks and straws, uttering maledictions upon the barons, and denouncing vengeance against the nation that had made him an underling to twenty-five kings.

On recovering, he ordered his horse, and secretly withdrew to the Isle of Wight, where he saw no one but the piratical fishermen of the place, whose manners he imitated, and even, it is said, joined in some of their lawless expeditions. At the same time he despatched letters to the Brabançons and Gascons, inviting them to the conquest of England, and promising them the castles and manors of his present subjects.

The barons gained some tidings of his proceedings, and were on their guard. Robert Fitzwalter wrote letters appointing the tournament to be held, not at Stamford, but on Hounslow Heath, summoning the knights to it with their arms and horses, and promising, as the prize of the tournay, a she-bear, which the young lady of a castle had sent them.

To what brave knight the she-bear was awarded, history says not; for in the midst came the tidings that the Pope had been greatly enraged, had annulled the Charter as prejudicial to the power of the Church, and had commanded the Archbishop of Canterbury to dissolve all leagues among the vassals under pain of excommunication. The barons, having the Archbishop on their side, thought little of the thunders of the Pope; but John was emboldened to come forth, offer a conference at Oxford, which he did not attend, and then go to Dover to receive the free-companions, who flocked from all quarters.

The barons sent Stephen Langton to Rome to plead their cause, and found themselves obliged to take up arms. William de Albini, one of the twenty-five sureties, was sent to possess himself of the Castle of Rochester; but before he could bring in sufficient stores, he was invested by John, with Savary de Mauléon, called the Bloody, and a band of free-companions, whose noms de guerre were equally truculent—namely, the Merciless, the Murderer, the Iron-hearted. One of the archers within the walls bent his bow at the King’s breast, and said to the castellane, “Shall I deliver you from yonder mortal foe?” “No; hold thy hand,” said Albini; “strike not the evil beast; shouldst thou fail, thy doom would be certain.” “Then, betide what God will, I hold my hand!” said the archer.

For two months these brave men held out, but by St. Andrew’s Day they had eaten all their horses, and the walls were battered down, so that Albini was forced to surrender. John was for hanging the whole garrison, but Mauléon said, “Sir, the war is not over; the chances are beyond reckoning. If we begin by hanging your barons, your barons may end by hanging us.” So Albini and the nobles were spared, but the archers and men-at-arms were hung in halters to every tree in the forest.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop had failed at Rome, and partly by his own fault, for he had tried to make his brother Simon, a man generally detested, Archbishop of York, and thus had given Innocent good reason for again interfering. He was placed under sentence of suspension; the barons, beginning with Fitzwalter, were excommunicated as rebels against a Church vassal and Crusader, and termed as wicked as Saracens; and the city of London was laid under an interdict.

The Londoners boldly declared that the Pope had no power to meddle in their case, kept their churches open, and celebrated their Christmas as usual; but beyond their walls it was less easy to be secure.

John now had two great armies of foreigners, and had been joined by several of the barons’ party; and he marched with one of them for the North, where young King Alexander of Scotland had laid siege to Norham, and had received the homage of the neighboring nobility.

As John advanced, the barons burnt their houses and corn before him, while he and his marauders ruined all they approached; he every morning, with his own hands, set fire to his night’s lodgings, and in eight days five principal towns were consumed, and the course of his army was like the bed of a torrent.

Vowing he would unkennel the young fox, as he called Alexander, on account of his red hair, John sent his troops into Scotland, where they laid the whole country waste up to Edinburgh, and then, returning, reduced the castles and ravaged the lands of the barons in Yorkshire, and the same dreadful atrocities were perpetrated by his other army in the south of England, till the country people called the free-companions by no other name than Satan’s Guards, and the Devil’s Servants.

The barons had no stronghold left them but London, and saw their rank, their families, and estates, at the mercy of the remorseless tyrant and his savage banditti, backed by the support of their spiritual superiors. In this condition they deemed all ties between them and their sovereign dissolved, and, as their last resource, resolved to offer the crown to Louis, the son of Philippe Auguste, and the husband of Blanche of Castile, the marriage made to separate France from the cause of Arthur. It was a step which even their extremity could not justify, passing over, as it did, the rights of the captive Pearl of Brittany, of John’s own innocent children, and of those of his eldest sister. But men have seldom been harder pressed than were these barons; and they were further tempted by the hope that all the mercenaries who were French subjects might be detached from the enemy by seeing their own prince’s standard unfurled against him.

Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, and Robert Fitzwalter, were deputed to carry letters to Prince Louis, who was then at war with the Albigenses of Languedoc. The wary old King Philippe dissembled his joy at the promised triumph over the hated Plantagenet, and at first declared that he could not trust his son’s person in England, unless twenty-four nobles were first given up to him as hostages; but he permitted Louis to send a favorable reply to England, and the barons were so delighted at its reception, accompanied by a few French volunteers, that they held another tournament in its honor, but this was closed by the death of Geoffrey Mandeville, who was accidentally killed by the lance of a Frenchman.

Innocent was much incensed at the enterprise of the French prince, forgetting that he had already shown him the way to England. He sent his legate, Gualo, with letters to forbid Philippe’s interference with a fief of the Holy See, and these were laid before the court in full council. Philippe, who always tried to have the law apparently on his side, began by saying he was the devoted subject of the Pope, and it was by no counsel or advice of his that his son disobeyed the court of Rome; but as he declared that he had some rights to the English crown, it was fair to hear him.

A knight then arose, and declared that John had been attainted and condemned by Philippe’s own court on account of Arthur’s murder; that he had since given his crown away without the consent of his barons; and as no sovereign had any such right, the throne was vacant by his own act, and his barons had full power to elect, and Louis to accept.

The legate declared John to be a Crusader, and therefore under the Church’s peace for four years. He was answered, that John had himself violated that peace; and then Louis, rising, and turning to his father, said, “Sir, if I am your liegeman for the lands you have given me here, you have no right to England, which is offered to me: you can decree nothing on that head. I appeal to the judgment of my peers, whether I ought to follow your commands or my rights. I beg you not to hinder my designs, for my cause is just, and I will fight to the death for my wife’s inheritance.” Then, red with anger, Louis the Lion left the assembly, while the legate asked the King for a safe-conduct to England; and Philippe replied, that on the French territory he was safe enough; but if, on the coast, he fell into the hands of King Louis’s men, he could not be responsible for his safety.

Gualo, however, came safely to England, and joined John at Dover, where he promised him the succor of the Church; and Innocent, as an earnest, excommunicated Louis, and preached to his cardinals on Ezekiel xxi. 28: “The sword, the sword is drawn.” But this was one of the last public acts of his life; he died at Perugia on the 8th of July, 1216, without having been able to send any support to his obedient vassal.

Meanwhile, Louis collected a great force, and embarked with it in 680 vessels, under the command of Eustace the Monk, a recreant who had become a pirate, and was reckoned the best mariner of his time. John fled from Dover, leaving it to the trusty and loyal Hubert de Burgh, while Louis disembarked at Sandwich, and was received by the barons, who were charmed with his chivalrous and affable demeanor. They conducted him to London, where, in St. Paul’s, he received their homage, and made oath to govern them by good laws, after which he appointed Simon Langton his chancellor. Nearly the whole country gave in their adhesion, Alexander of Scotland paid him homage, the North rose in his favor, and the chief strongholds that remained to John were Windsor Castle; Corfe, where, under the care of his wicked follower, Pierre de Maulae, were his queen and little children; and Dover, gallantly defended by Hubert de Burgh.

Nearly four months were spent by Louis in a vain attempt to take this place; his supplies were cut off by the sailors of the Cinque Ports, who were in John’s interest; and though Louis’s father sent him a battering machine, called Malvoisine, or “Bad Neighbor,” he could make no impression on the walls. Meantime, the estates of the barons were devastated by John and his free-companions; and if ever the French prince retook any of the castles, he retained them in his own hands, or gave them to his French followers, instead of restoring them to their owners. They began to suspect that they were in evil case, more especially when the Vicomte de Melun, being suddenly seized by a mortal sickness, sent for all the nobles then in London, and thus spoke: “I grieve for your fate. I, with the prince and fifteen others, have sworn an oath, that, when the realm is his, ye shall all be beggared, or exterminated as traitors whom he can never trust. Look to yourselves!”

Suspicion thus excited, William Longsword and several other barons returned to their allegiance, and forty more offered to do the same on the promise of pardon. Louis was forced to raise the siege of Dover, and John’s prospects improved; he took Lincoln, and marched to Lynn, whence he wont to Wisbech, intending to proceed by the Wash from Cross-keys to Foss-dyke, across the sands—a safe passage at low water, but covered suddenly by the tide, which there forms a considerable eddy on meeting the current of the Welland.

His troops were nearly all on the other side, when the tide began to rush in. They gained the higher ground in safety; but the long train of wagons, carrying his crown, his treasure, his stores of provision, were suddenly engulfed, and the whole was lost. Some years since, one of the gold circlets worn over the helmet was found by a laborer in the sand, but, in ignorance of its value, he sold it to a Jew, and it has thus been lost to the antiquary.

King John went into one of his paroxysms of despair at the ruin he beheld, and, feverish with passion, arrived at the Cistercian convent of Swineshead, where he seems to have tried to forget his disaster in a carouse upon peaches and new ale, and in the morning found himself extremely ill; but fancying the monks had poisoned him, he insisted on being carried in a litter to Sleaford, whence the next day he proceeded to Newark, where it became evident that death was at hand. A confessor was sent for, and he bequeathed his kingdom to his son Henry. As far as it appears from the records of his deathbed, no compunction visited him; probably, he thought himself secure as a favored vassal of the Holy See. When asked where he would be buried, he replied that he committed himself to God and to the body of St. Wulstan (who had been canonized by Innocent III. in 1203). He dictated a letter to the new Pope, Honorius III., and died October 19, 1216, in the forty-ninth year of his age, the last and worst of the four rebellious sons of Henry II., all cut off in the prime of life.

His death made a great difference in the aspect of affairs. His innocent sons had forfeited no claim to the affection of the English, and their weakness was their most powerful claim.

The Earl of Pembroke at once marched to Corfe Castle, and brought the two boys, nine and seven years old, to Gloucester, where young Henry’s melancholy coronation took place. In lieu of his father’s lost and dishonored crown, a golden bracelet of his mother’s was placed upon his head by the papal legate, instead of his own primate, and he bent his knee in homage to the see of Rome. The few vassals who attended him held their coronation banquet, and afterward bound a white fillet around their heads, in token of their vow of fidelity to their little, helpless king. Magna Charta was revised a few days after at Bristol; Henry was made to swear to agree to it, and the Earl of Pembroke appointed as his protector.

Meantime, Louis had received the news of his rival’s death while again besieging Dover, the capture of which was most important to him, as securing his communications with his own country. He sent tidings of it to the garrison by two English barons, one of them Hubert’s own brother, Thomas de Burgh. On their approach the sentinels sounded their horns, and, without opening the gates, the governor came to speak to them, with five archers, their crossbows bent. They told him of the King’s decease, and reminded him of the oath Louis had made to hang him and all his garrison if the town were taken by assault instead of surrender. His brother said he was ruining himself and all his family, and the other knight offered him, in the prince’s name, the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. But Hubert would hear no more. “Traitors that you are,” he cried, “if King John is dead, he leaves children! Say no more; if you open your lips again, I will have you shot with a hundred arrows, not sparing even my brother.”

Louis was obliged to draw off his forces, returned to London, and took Hertford; Robert Fitzwalter claimed the keeping of the castle as a family right, but Louis forgot the necessity of conciliating the barons, and replied that he could not trust a man who had betrayed his King. This, of course, led to further desertions on the part of the English, and the truce which prevailed through Lent added greater numbers to the young King’s party than Blanche of Castile was able to collect in France for her lord.

After Easter the Earl of Pembroke besieged Mountsorrel, in Leicestershire. The Count de Perche came to its relief, and, after forcing him to retreat, attacked Lincoln Castle, which was bravely held by the late castellane’s widow, Nicolette de Camville. She contrived to send the Earl tidings of her distress, and he set out from Newark with four hundred knights and their squires, two hundred and fifty crossbowmen and other infantry, all wearing white crosses sewn on their breasts, and sent forth by the legate as to a holy war. The crossbowmen, under one of John’s free-companions, were a mile in advance, and entered the castle by a postern, while the French, taking the baggage for a second army, retreated into the town; but there the garrison made a sally, and a battle was fought in the streets, which ended in the total discomfiture of the French. The Count de Perche was offered his life, but swearing that he would yield to no English traitor, he was instantly slain, and the Fair of Lincoln, as it was called, completely broke the strength of Louis.

He wrote word to his wife and father of his perilous situation, shut up within the walls of London, and the whole country in possession of Henry, and entreated them to send him reinforcements. Fear of the Pope prevented Philippe from putting himself forward, but he connived at Blanche’s exertions, and she succeeded in collecting three hundred knights, who were to embark in eighty large ships, under the command of Eustace the Monk.

Hubert de Burgh, landsman as he was, resolved to oppose them to the utmost, and with much difficulty collected a fleet of forty ships of all sizes. Several of the knights, believing his attempt hopeless, declared that they knew nothing of sea fights, and refused to share his peril; and he himself was so persuaded that he was sacrificing himself, that he received the last rites of the Church as a dying man, and left orders that, in case of his being made prisoner, Dover should on no account be surrendered, even as the price of his life.

Midway in the strait he met the French fleet; his archers showered their arrows and quarrels, and, being on the windward, threw clouds of quicklime, which blinded the eyes of the enemy; then, bearing down on them, grappled the ships with iron hooks, and boarded them so gallantly, that the French, little accustomed to this mode of warfare, soon gave over resistance: many of the ships were sunk, and the rest completely dispersed; the pirate monk Eustace was taken, and, being considered as a traitor and apostate, was put to death, and his head carried on a pole to Dover in triumph.

This defeat completely broke the hopes of Louis, and he sent to demand a safe-conduct for messengers to Henry, or rather to the Earl of Pembroke, offered to leave England, and concluded a peace, restoring the allegiance of the barons, and even engaging to give up Normandy and Anjou on his accession to the crown of France. He then returned to his own country, where his father received him affectionately, blaming him, however, for the want of skill and judgment with which he had conducted his affairs. His departure took place in the end of 1217, and thus closed the wars which established the Great Charter as the foundation of English law.





CAMEO XXVIII. THE FIEF OF ROME. (1217-1254.)

  King of England.
   1216. Henry III.

  Kings of Scotland.
   1214. Alexander II.
   1249. Alexander III.
  Kings of France.
   1180. Philip III.
   1223. Louis VIII.
   1226. Louis IX.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1209. Friedrich II.
   1250. Conrad IV.

  Popes
   1198. Innocent III.
   1216. Honorius III.
   1227. Gregory IX.
   1241. Celestin. IV.
   1242. Innocent IV.

The Fief of Rome! For many years of the reign of Henry III. England could hardly be regarded in any other light.

Henry’s life was one long minority; the guardians of his childhood were replaced by the favorites of his manhood, and he had neither power nor will to defend his subjects from the bondage imposed on them by his father’s homage to Innocent III.

The legates, Gualo and Pandulfo, undertook the protection of the desolate child, and nominated to the government the excellent William, Earl of Pembroke, Earl Marshal; but on his death, shortly after, the administration was divided between the justiciaries, Hubert de Burgh, and John’s favorite, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. The latter was a violent, ambitious, and intriguing prelate, and it was well for England and the King when he engaged in a Crusade, and left the field to the loyal Hubert.

Under the care of this good knight Henry grew up devoid of the vices of his father, with more of the Southern troubadour than of the Northern warrior in his composition, gentle in temper, devout of spirit, tender of heart, well-read in history and romance, skilled in music and poetry, and of exquisite taste in sculpture, painting, and architecture, Hubert must have watched his orphan charge with earnest hope and solicitude.

Gradually, however, there was a sense of disappointment; years went by, and Henry of Winchester was a full-grown man, tall and well proportioned, his only blemish a droop of the left eyelid; but no warlike, no royal spirit seemed to stir within him; he thought not of affairs; he left all in the hands of his justiciaries, and, so long as means were given him of indulging his love of splendor, he recked not of the extortions by which the Italian clergy ruined his country, and had no idea of taking on him the cares and duties of royalty.

His young Queen encouraged all his natural failings. She was one of the four daughters of Beranger, last Count of Provence, highly accomplished young heiresses. One of them already was wedded to Louis IX., the son of Louis the Lion, who, by the death of his father and grandfather, had been placed on the throne of France nearly at the same age and time as Henry in England. Marguerite, whose device, the daisy, Louis wore entwined with his own lily, was a meek, peaceful lady, submitting quietly to the dominion exercised over her by Queen Blanche, her mother-in-law. Eleanor, the next sister, was the beauty and genius of the family; she was called La Belle, and, at fourteen, composed a romance in rhyme on the adventures of one Blandin, Prince of Cornwall, which was presented to King Henry’s brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, when, on returning from pilgrimage, he passed through Provence.

Richard was struck with her beauty, and spoke of it to his brother, who, against the wishes of De Burgh, offered her his hand. Richard soon after married Sancha, another of the sisters, and Beatrix, the fourth, was the wife of Charles, Count of Anjou, brother of Louis IX. The two queens seem to have been proud of their dignity, for they used to make their countess sisters sit on low stools, while they sat on high chairs. Sancha and Beatrix pined to see their husbands kings, and in time had their wish. Four uncles followed Queen Eleanor, young brothers of her mother, a princess of Savoy. They were gay and courtly youths, and the King instantly attached himself to them, and lavished gifts and honors upon them, among others, the palace in London still called the Savoy.

Another tribe of his own relations soon followed. His mother’s first love, Hugh de Lusignan, Count de la Marche, had been released from durance at Corfe Castle in 1206, and had offered his aid to John, on condition of the infant Joan, the child of his faithless Isabelle, being at once betrothed to him and placed in his own hands. Lodging her in one of his castles in Poitou, he went on a crusade, and, on his return, found her but seven years old, but her mother a widow, beautiful as ever, and still attached to him. They were at once married, and Joan was sent home to England, where she became the wife of Alexander II. of Scotland, and his sister, the Princess Margaret, was at the same time wedded to Hubert de Burgh.

The Lusignans were an old family, who had given a King to Jerusalem and a dynasty to Cyprus; but they were a wild race, and a fairy legend accounted for their family character.

Raymond de Lusignan, a remote ancestor, met, while wandering in a forest, a maiden of more than mortal beauty, named Melusine, and, falling at once in love, obtained her hand, on condition that he should never ask to behold her on a Saturday. Their marriage was happy, excepting that all their children had some deformity; but at last, in a fit of curiosity, Raymond hid himself, in order to penetrate into his lady’s secret, and, to his dismay, perceived that from the waist downward she was transformed into a blue-and-white serpent, an enchantment she underwent every Saturday. For years, however, he never divulged that he had seen her in this condition; but at length, when his eldest son, Geoffrey (who had a tusk like a wild boar), had murdered his brother, he forgot himself in a transport of grief, and called her an odious serpent, who had contaminated his race. Melusine fainted at the words, lamented bitterly, and vanished, never appearing again except as a phantom, which flits round the Castle of Lusignan whenever any of her descendants are about to die.

In this haunted castle the Queen contrived to gain a reputation for sorcery and poisoning, and the connection brought no good on her royal son, for she involved him in a war with France on behalf of her husband. He met with no success, and his French domains were at the mercy of Louis IX.; but that excellent prince would not pursue his advantage. “Our children are first cousins,” he said; “we will leave no seeds of discord between them.” He even took into consideration the justice of restoring Normandy and Anjou, but concluded that they had been justly forfeited by King John.

Four young Lusignans, or, as they were generally called, De Valence, were sent by Isabelle to seek their fortune at the court of their half-brother, who bestowed on them all the wealth and honors at his disposal; and gave much offence to the English, who beheld eight needy foreigners preying, as they said, upon the revenues.

Feasts and frolics, songs, dancing, and pageantry, were the order of the day; romances were dedicated to the King, histories of strange feats of chivalry recited, the curious old lays of Bretagne were translated and presented to him by the antiquarian dame, Marie. Italian, Provençal, Gascon, Latin, French, and English, were spoken at the court, which the English barons termed a Babel, and minstrels of all descriptions stood in high favor. There was Richard, the King’s harper, who had forty shillings a year and a tun of wine; there was Henry of Avranches, the “archipoeta,” who wrote a song on the rusticity of the Cornishmen, to which a valiant Cornishman, Michael Blampayne, replied in a Latin satire, politely describing the arch-poet as having “the legs of a sparrow, the mouth of a hare, the nose of a dog, the teeth of a mule, the brow of a calf, the head of a bull, the color of a Moor!” There was poor Ribault the troubadour, whose sudden madness had nearly been fatal to Henry. Imagining himself the rightful King, he rushed at midnight into a chamber he supposed to be the King’s, and was tearing the bed to pieces with his sword, when Margaret Bisset, one of the Queen’s ladies, who was sitting up reading a book of devotions, heard the noise; roused the guard, and he was secured. There, too, was the half-witted jester, who, we are sorry to say, was a chaplain, with whom the King and his brother Aymer were seen playing like boys, pelting each other with apples and sods of turf.

The King was fond of ornamenting his palaces with curious tapestry and jewelry, worthy of the wedding-gift his wife had received from her sister, Queen Marguerite, namely, a silver ewer for perfumes, in the shape of a peacock, the tail set with precious stones. He adorned the walls with paintings; there were Scripture subjects in his palace at Westminster; and at Winchester, his birthplace, were pictures of the Saxon kings, a map of the world, and King Arthur’s round table, inscribed with the names of the knights, and Arthur’s full-length figure in his own place. It has survived all changes; it was admired by a Spanish attendant at the marriage of Philip II. and Queen Mary; it was riddled by the balls of the Roundheads, and now, duly refreshed with paint, hangs in its old place, over the Judge’s head in the County Hall.

To do Henry justice, he spent as freely on others as on himself; he clothed and fed destitute children; and when in his pride, at the goodly height of his five-year-old boy, he caused him and his little sisters to be weighed, the counterpoise was coined silver, which was scattered in largesse among his lieges.

Henry’s special devotion was to a Saxon saint, the mild Confessor, to whom his own character had much likeness, and whose name he bestowed on his eldest child, while he presented a shrine of pure gold to contain his relics, and devoted £2,000 a year to complete the little West-Minster of St. Peter’s, the foundation and last work of St. Edward. He rendered it a perfect specimen of that most elegant of all styles, the early-pointed, and fit indeed for the coronation church and burial-place of English kings.

There was soon an end of Henry’s treasure, however; and no wonder, when, besides his own improvidence, the Pope was sucking out the revenues of the country. Talliages, of one tenth or one-twentieth of their property, were demanded of the clergy; the tax of a penny, usually called Peter-pence, was paid to him by every family on St. Peter’s Day, and generally collected by the two orders of begging friars, who rode about on this errand in boots and spurs, and owning the rule of no one but the Pope, were great hindrances to the bishops and parish clergy. Still worse was the power the Pope assumed to himself of seizing on Church patronage, and thrusting in Italian clergy, often children or incapable persons, and perfectly ignorant of the language. At one time 7,000 marks a year were in possession of these foreigners, one of whom held seven hundred places of preferment at once!

Innocent IV., who was chiefly guilty of these proceedings, was engaged in a long struggle with Frederick II. of Germany, respecting the kingdom of the two Sicilies, and the Guelf and Ghibelline struggle forever raging in Italy, and it was this apparently remote quarrel which was in reality the cause of the oppression and simony that so cruelly affected England.

The English bitterly hated the foreign clergy, and quarrels were forever breaking out. When Otho, the legate, was passing through Oxford, and lodging at Osney Abbey, a terrible fray occurred. The students, a strange, wild set, came to pay him their respects; but his porter, being afraid of them, kept them out, and an Irish priest, pressing forward to beg for food, had some scalding water thrown in his face by the clerk of the kitchen, the brother of the legate, who, used to Italian treachery, entrusted to no one the care of his food. A fiery Welsh scholar shot the legate’s brother dead with an arrow, and a great riot ensued. Otho locked, himself up in the church-tower till night, then fled, through floods of rain, hunted by the students, all yelling abuse, and getting before him to the fords, so that the poor man had to swim the river five times, and came half dead to the King at Abingdon. Next morning the scene was changed. Earl Warenne and his bowmen came down upon Oxford, forty of the rioters were carried off in carts like felons, interdicts and excommunications fell on the university, and only when doctors, scholars, and all came barefoot to ask the legate’s pardon, was the anger of the Pope appeased.

Moreover, there was a widespread confederation among the gentry against these Italians, and rioters arose and plundered their barns, distributing the corn to the poor.

Walter do Cantilupe, the young Norman Bishop of Worcester, was thought to be among those in the secret, and the outrages grew more serious when an Italian canon of St. Paul’s was seized and impressed by five men in masks. Des Roches, the Bishop of Winchester, who had returned home, and was very jealous of Hubert de Burgh, thought this a fit time for overthrowing him, and publicly accused him of being in the plot. A young knight, Sir Robert Twenge, came forward and confessed that he had been the leader of the rioters under the name of Will Wither, and that the good old justiciary had nothing to do with them. He was sent to do penance at Rome, and Hubert’s enemies continued their machinations.

Henry and his Queen were tired of the sage counsels of the brave knight, and open to all Des Roches’ insinuations, forgetting the wise though punning warning of the wonderful Franciscan friar, Roger Bacon, who told Henry there was nothing so dangerous in a voyage as “les Pierres et les Roches.” At Christmas, the Bishop invited them to Winchester, and there his sumptuous banquets and splendid amusements won the King’s frivolous heart, and obtained his consent to dismiss Hubert from all his offices, even from the government of Dover, which he had saved. Soon after orders were sent forth for his arrest, that he might be tried for the disturbances against the Italians, and likewise for having seduced the King’s affections by sorcery and witchcraft.

Hubert placed his wealth in the care of the Templars, and took sanctuary in the church of Merton, in Surrey; but the Mayor of London was ordered to dislodge him, and the whole rabble of the city were setting forth, when the Archbishop and Earl of Chester represented the scandal to the King, and obtained letters of protection for him until the time for his trial, January, 1233. Trusting to these letters, he set out to visit his wife at Bury, but at Brentwood was waylaid by a set of ruffians called the Black Band, and sent by the Bishop of Winchester. He retreated into the church, but they dragged him from the very steps of the altar, and called a blacksmith to chain his feet together.

“No, indeed,” said the brave peasant, “never will I forge fetters for the deliverer of my country.”

However, he was led into London with his feet chained under his horse. There the Bishop of London, threatening excommunication for the sacrilege, forced his enemies to return him to Brentwood church, which, however, they closely blockaded till hunger forced him to deliver himself up to them.

He bought his life by giving up his treasures, and was imprisoned at Devizes. Shortly this castle was given to Des Roches; and De Burgh, who knew by experience how the change of castellane often brought death to the captive, sought to escape. He gained over two of his guards, who carried him to the parish church, for he was too heavily ironed to walk, and there laid him down before the altar. They could take him no further, and the warden of the castle cruelly beat him, and brought him back; but, as before, the Bishop maintained the privileges of the sanctuary, and forced the persecutors to restore him, and though he was again hemmed in there by the sheriff, before he was starved out a party of his friends came to his rescue, and he was carried off to the Welsh hills, there remaining till recalled by the influence of the Archbishop. He was restored to his honors, and though he once again had to suffer from Henry’s fickleness and the rapacity of his court, his old age was peaceful and honored, as befitted his unsullied fame.

This Archbishop was Edmund Rich, who had been elected in 1232, after two short-lived primates had succeeded Langton. He was of a wealthy family at Abingdon, and had been brought up entirely by an excellent mother, his father having retired into a monastery. His whole childhood had been a preparation for holy orders, and when he went to study at Oxford, he led a life of the strictest self-denial, inflicting on himself all the rigorous discipline which he hoped would conduce to a saintly life. When he had become a teacher in his turn, such was his contempt for money, that, when his pupils paid him, he would sprinkle it with dust, and say, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and would let it lie in the window, without heeding whether any was stolen. When, shortly after, made treasurer of Salisbury, he kept an empty dish by his side at meals, and put into it what he denied himself, sending it afterward by his almoner to the sick poor. He was a constant reader of the Scriptures day and night, always kissing the holy volume before commencing, and thus he derived the judgment and firmness which enabled him to battle with the evils of his day.

Gifts were especially held in scorn and contempt by him. He was wont to say, that between prendre and pendre there was but one letter’s difference; and in a court so full of corrupt and grasping clergy, this gave him untold power.

Peter des Roches was the head of these, representing King John’s former policy, and uniting himself with the young Gascon relations of the King, who were wont to say, “What are English laws to us?”

The family of Pembroke, Earls Marshal of England, were especially obnoxious to this party, as resolute supporters of Magna Charta, and of much power and influence. William, the eldest son of the late Protector, was married to Eleanor, the King’s sister. He died early, and this party tried to deprive his brother Richard of his inheritance; then, when this did not succeed, Des Roches wrote letters in the King’s name to some of the Norman-Irish nobles, offering them all his lands in that island, provided they would murder him, ratifying these promises with the great seal.

The assassins stirred up the Irish to attack Pembroke’s castles, so as to bring him to Ireland; they then pretended to join with him in putting down the rebellion, and, in the midst, waylaid him, and attacked him while riding with a few attendants. Some of these he ordered at once to convey his young brother to a place of safety, and gallantly defended himself, but his horse was killed, and he was stabbed in the back; his servants, returning, carried him home to his castle, but there the letter purporting to be from the King was shown him, and his grief was so great that he would not permit his wounds to be dressed, and died in a few hours.

Archbishop Edmund procured letters exposing this black treachery, and read them before the whole court. Henry and all present burst into tears, and the poor careless King confessed with bitter grief that he had often allowed Des Roches to attach his seal to letters without knowing their contents, and that this must have been one of them. Des Roches was dismissed, and sent to his own diocese, where he soon after died at his castle of Farnham. He was the founder of many convents, several in Palestine, and others in his own diocese, among which was Netley, or Letley (Laeto Loco), near Southampton, a beautiful specimen of the pointed style.

Edmund could not prevent the King from intruding on the see of Winchester the giddy young Aymar de Valence, already Bishop-designate of Durham. “If my brother is too young, I will hold the see myself,” said the King.

Every attempt Edmund made to repress the grievous evils that prevailed was frustrated by the authority of Rome.

The imperial family of Hohenstaufen were held in the utmost hatred by the Popes; and Frederick II., being likewise King of Naples and Sicily, was an object of great dread and defiance. Fierce passions on either side were raging, and Innocent IV. regarded his spiritual powers rather as weapons to be used against his foe the Emperor, than as given him for the salvation of men’s souls.

As a warrior, he needed money: it was raised by exactions on the clergy, going sometimes as far as demanding half their year’s income; as head of a party, he needed rewards for his friends, and bestowed benefices without regard to the age, the character, or the fitness of the nominee; moreover, he trusted to the religious orders, especially those called Mendicant, for spreading his influence, and he did not dare to restrain or reform their disorders.

Archbishop Edmund, with his two friends, Robert Grosteste, Bishop of Lincoln, and Richard Wych, Chancellor of Canterbury, did their best. Robert’s history is striking. He was a nameless peasant of Suffolk, of the meanest parentage, and only called Grosteste from the size of his head, needing plenty of stowage (says Fuller) for his store of brains. How he obtained education is not known, but he worked upward until he became a noted teacher at Oxford, and afterward at Paris, where he lectured on all the chief authors then known in Greek and Latin. He wrote two hundred books, many on sacred subjects, and several poems in Latin and French; for he was a great lover of minstrelsy, and his contemporary translator tells us that

  “Next his chamber, besyde hys study
  Hys harper’s chamber was thereby.”
 

This poet and scholar was a most active, thorough-going, practical man, and, when chosen as Bishop of Lincoln, showed his gratitude for the benefits of his education by maintaining a number of poor students at the University. He set himself earnestly to reform abuses in his diocese, forcing the monasteries which held the tithes of parishes to provide properly for their spiritual care, and making a strict inquiry into the condition of the religious houses. They, however, appealed to Rome; and Innocent, who had at first sanctioned his proceedings, was afraid of losing their support, and ordered Grosteste to desist. The resolute Bishop set off to Rome, and laid the Pope’s own letters before his face.

“Well,” said Innocent, “be content; you have delivered your own soul. If I choose to show grace to these persons, what is that to you?”

Robert was anything but content, but he went home, and manfully struggled with the evils that were rife, sometimes prevailing, sometimes disappointed, always honest and steadfast. The more gentle Archbishop gave up the contest, worn out by the vain attempt to preserve purity and order between the fickle King, the oppressive Pope, the turbulent nobles, and the avaricious clergy. Orders to him, to Robert, and to the Bishop of Salisbury, to appoint no one to a benefice till three hundred Italians were provided for, seemed finally to overpower him; he, with Richard Wych, secretly left London, and arrived at Pontigny, where, three years after, he died, in 1142, and has been revered as a saint.

Canterbury remained vacant for several years, the revenues being absorbed by the King, and the refractory chapter tailing upon them to quarrel with Grosteste, and going so for as to excommunicate him; whereupon the sturdy Bishop trod the letter under foot, saying, “Such curses are the only prayers I ask of such as you.”

After three years the King appointed to Canterbury the Queen’s uncle, Boniface of Savoy, a man of no clerical habits; but the Queen wrote a persuasive letter, by which she obtained the consent of Innocent.

So many monstrous demands had been made by the Pope, that, in 1245, the nobles sent orders to the wardens of the seaports to seize every despatch coming from Rome, and they soon made prize of a great number of orders to intrude Italians into Church patronage. Martin, the legate, complained to the King, who ordered the letters to be produced, but the barons took the opportunity of laying before the King a statement of the grievances of the Church of England, 60,000 marks a year being in the hands of foreigners, while the whole of the royal revenue was but 20,000. Henry could only make helpless lamentations, and, under pretext of a tournament, the Barons met at Dunstable, and sent a knight to expostulate with the legate. This envoy threatened him, that if he remained three days longer in England, his life would not be safe—an intimation which drove him speedily from the country.

The barons, hearing that the Pope was holding a council at Lyons, sent deputies thither, with a letter drawn up by the Bishop of Lincoln, so powerfully enforced by William de Powerie, their spokesman, that the exposure of the enormities permitted in England called up a deep blush on the face of Innocent, and he allowed that he had been wrong in thrusting in these incompetent Italians. There was one good effected at this council, namely, the appointment of Richard Wych to the see of Chichester.

Richard was the son of a Worcestershire yeoman, and was early, with his elder brother, left an orphan. He was a studious, holy, clerkly boy, looked on as fit for the cloister: but when his brother came of age, it was found that the guardians had so wasted their goods, that their inheritance lay desolate. The brother was in despair, but young Richard comforted him, bade him trust in God, and himself laying aside the studies he delighted in, look up the spade and axe, and worked unceasingly till the affairs of the homestead were in a flourishing state. Then, when prosperity dawned on the elder brother, the younger obtained his wish, and went to study at Oxford, where he was so poor that he and two other scholars had but one gown between them, lived hard, and allowed themselves few pleasures; but this he was wont to call the happiest time in his life.

Afterward he went to Bologna, and, after seven years there, returned, and was made Chancellor, first of Oxford, and afterward of Canterbury. There was a most earnest attachment between him and St. Edmund, whom he followed into his exile. The Bishop whom the King had appointed to Chichester was examined by Grosteste, and found deficient in theology, and the chapter and Pope agreed in choosing Richard Wych, who was consecrated by Innocent himself. Henry, in displeasure, took all the temporalities of the see into his hands, and for a year Richard lived at the expense of a poor parish priest named Simon, whom he strove to requite by working in his garden, budding, grafting, and digging, as he had once done for his brother.

He went about his diocese visiting each parish, and doing his work like the early bishops of poorer days, and all the time making his suit to the King to do him justice; but whenever he went to Westminster, meeting only with jests and gibes from the courtiers.

The Pope was too busy to attend to him. That council at Lyons had ended in sentence of deposition upon Frederick, and the combat raged in Italy till his death, when Innocent, claiming Sicily as a fief of the Church, offered it, if he could get it, to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had too much sense to accept such a crown.

It then was offered to Henry for his son Edmund, whom he arrayed in the robes of a Sicilian prince, and presented to the barons of England, asking for men and money to win the kingdom. Not a man of them, however, would march, or give a penny in aid of the cause, and therefore Innocent raised money from the Lombard merchants in the name of the King of England.

No wonder Henry could not pay. His own household had neither wages, clothes, nor food, except what they obtained by purveying—in their case only a license to rob, since no payment was ever given for the goods they carried off. His pages were gay banditti, and the merchants, farmers, and fishers fled as from an enemy when the court approached; yet, at each little transient gleam of prosperity, the King squandered all that came into his hands in feasting and splendor, then grasped at Church revenues, tormented the Jews, laid unjust fines on the Londoners, or took bribes for administering justice, and all that he did was imitated with exaggeration by his half-brothers, uncles, and favorites.

His chancellor, Mansel, held seven hundred benefices at once, and so corrupted the laws, that one of the judges pronounced the source poisoned from the fountain. Another chancellor was expelled from the court for refusing to set the great seal to a grant to one of the Queen’s uncles of four-pence on every sack of wool, and at one time Eleanor herself actually had the keeping of the seal, and when the Londoners resisted one of her unjust demands, she summarily sent the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs to the Tower.

Isabel Warenne, the King’s cousin, and widow of the Earl of Arundel, an excellent and charitable lady, still young, came to the King’s court to seek justice respecting a wardship of which she had been deprived. She spoke boldly to Henry: “My Lord, why do you turn your face from justice? Nobody can obtain right. You are placed between God and us, but you govern neither yourself nor us. Are you not ashamed thus to trample on the Church, and disquiet your nobles?”

“What do you mean, lady?” said the King. “Have the great men of England chosen you for their advocate?”

“No, sir,” said the spirited lady; “they have given me no such charter, though you have broken that which you and your father have granted and sworn to observe. Where are the liberties of England, so often granted? We appeal from you to the Judge in heaven!”

All Henry could say, was, “Did you not ask me a favor because you were my cousin?”

“You deny my right; I expect no favor,” and, so saying, Isabel left him.

After two years, Richard of Chichester was permitted to assume the temporalities of his see, and most admirably he used them, doing every kindness to the poor in his diocese, and always maintaining the right, though more gently than his friend at Lincoln. Those were evil days, and men’s sense of obedience and sense of right were often sorely divided. Richard died in the year 1253, after a short illness, in which he was attended by his friend Simon, leaving the memory of his peaceful, charitable life, much beloved in his diocese, and was shortly after canonized. “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” were among his last words.

The champion Robert Grosteste had one more battle to fight ere following his two saintly brethren.

He was wont always to compare each bull which he received with the Gospels and the canon law, and if he found anything in it that would not stand this test, he tore it in pieces. In 1254, one of these letters commanded him to institute to a benefice a nephew of the Pope, a mere child, besides containing what was called the clause “non obstante” (namely, in spite of), by which the Pope claimed, as having power to bind and loose, to set aside and dispense with existing statutes and oaths, at his pleasure.

Grosteste wrote an admirable letter in reply. He said most truly, “Once allowed, this clause would let in a flood of promise-breaking, bold injustice, wanton insult, deceit, and mutual distrust, to the defilement of true religion, shaking the very foundations of trust and security;” and he also declared that nothing could be more opposed to the precepts of our Lord and His apostles, than to destroy men’s souls by depriving them of the benefits of the pastoral office by giving unfit persons the care of souls. He therefore absolutely refused to publish the bull, or to admit the young Italian to the benefice.

Innocent flew into a passion on reading the letter. “What meaneth this old dotard, surd and absurd, thus to control our actions? Did not our innate generosity restrain us, I would confound him, and make him a prodigy to all the world!”

One of the Spanish cardinals, however, spoke thus: “We cannot deal harshly with such a man as this. We must confess that he speaketh truth. He is a holy man, of more religious life than any of us; yea, Christendom hath not his equal. He is a great philosopher, skilled in Greek and Latin, a constant reader in the schools, preacher in the pulpit, lover of chastity, and hater of simony.”

Authorities are divided as to whether the Pope was persuaded to lay aside his anger, or not. Some say that he sent off sentence of suspension and excommunication; others, that he owned the justice of Grosteste’s letter. It made little difference to the good Bishop, who lay on his deathbed long before the answer arrived. He spoke much of the troubles and bondage of the Church, which he feared would never be ended but by the edge of a blood-stained sword, and grieved over the falsehood, perfidy, and extortion, that were soiling his beloved Church; and thus he expired, uplifting his honest testimony both in word and deed, untouched by the crimes of his age.

Innocent IV. did not long survive him, and there is a remarkable story of the commencement of his last illness. He dreamt that the spirit of Robert Grosteste had appeared, and given him a severe beating. The delusion hung about him, and he finally died in the belief that he was killed by the blows of the English Bishop.

Sewel, Archbishop of York, had the same contest with Rome. Three Italians walked into York cathedral, asked which was the Dean’s seat, and installed one of their number there; and when the Archbishop refused to permit his appointment, an interdict was laid on his see, and he died under excommunication, bearing it meekly and patiently, and his flock following his funeral in weeping multitudes, though it was apparently unblest by the Church.

These good men had fallen on days of evil shepherds, and lamentable was the state of Europe, when men’s religious feelings were perverted to be engines for exalting the temporal power of the popedom, and their ministers, mistaking their true calling, were struggling for an absolute and open dominion, for which purity, truth, meekness, and every attribute of charity were sacrificed.





CAMEO XXIX. THE LONGESPÉES IN THE EGYPTIAN CRUSADES. (1219-1254.)

  King of England.
   1216. Henry III.

  Kings of Scotland.
   1214. Alexander II.
   1249. Alexander III.

  Kings of France.
   1180. Philip III.
   1223. Louis VIII.
   1226. Louis IX.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1209. Friedrich II.
   1259. Conrad IV.

  Popes.
   1216. Innocent III.
   1227. Honorius III.
   1241. Gregory IX.
   1241. Celestin IV.
   1242. Innocent IV.

The crusading spirit had not yet died away, but it was often diverted by the Popes, who sent the champions of the Cross to make war on European heretics instead of the Moslems of Palestine.

William Longespée, the son of Fair Rosamond, was, however, a zealous crusador in the East itself. He had been with Coeur de Lion in the Holy Land, and in 1219 again took the Cross, and shared an expedition led by the titular King of Jerusalem, a French knight, named Jean de Brienne, who had married Marie, the daughter of that Isabelle whom Richard I. had placed on the throne of Jerusalem. Under him, an attempt was made to carry the war into the enemy’s quarters, by attacking the Saracens in Egypt, and with a large force of crusaders he laid siege to Damietta. The reigning Sultan, Malek el Kamel, marched to its relief, and encamping at Mansourah, in the delta of the Nile, fought two severe battles with doubtful success, but could not assist the garrison, who, after holding out for fifteen months, at length surrendered. The unhappy city was in such a state from the effects of hunger and disease, that the Christians themselves, suffering from severe sickness, did not dare to enter it, till the prisoners, as the price of their liberty, had encountered the risk of cleansing it and burying the dead.

Even then they remained, encamped outside, and Kamel continued to watch them from Mansourah, where he built permanent houses, and formed his camp into a town, while awaiting the aid of the natural defender of Egypt, the Nile, which, in due time arising, inundated the whole Christian camp, and washed away the stores. The troops, already reduced by sickness, were living in a swamp, the water and mud ankle-deep, and with currents of deeper water rushing in all directions, drowning the incautious; while want and disease preyed upon the rest, till Jean de Brienne was obliged to go and treat with the Sultan. When received courteously in the commodious, royal tent at Mansourah, the contrast to the miseries which his friends were enduring so affected him, that he burst into a fit of weeping, that moved the generous Kamel at once, without conditions, to send as a free gift a supply of provisions to his distressed enemies. A treaty was then concluded, by which the crusaders restored Damiotta, after having held it for eight months, and were allowed every facility for their departure.

Though hardy, patient and enterprising as a crusader, Longespée was lawless and unscrupulous, and paid no respect to the ordinances of religion, neither confessing himself nor being a communicant; while his wife, the lady Ella, Countess of Salisbury in her own right, continued a devout observer of her duties.

Soon after his return from Egypt, Longespée, in sailing from Gascony to England, was in great danger, from a storm in the Bay of Biscay of many days’ continuance, and so violent, that all the jewels, treasure, and other freight, were thrown overboard to lighten the vessel. In the height of the peril, the mast was illuminated, no doubt by that strange electric brightness called by sailors “St. Elmo’s Light,” but which, to the conscience-stricken earl, was a heavenly messenger, sent to convert and save him. It was even reported that it was a wax-light, sheltered from the wind by a female form of marvellous radiance and beauty, at whose appearance the tempest lulled, and the ship came safely to land.

The Countess Ella availed herself of the impression thus made upon her husband to persuade him to seek the ghostly counsel of St. Edmund Rich, then a canon of Salisbury; and the first sight of the countenance of the holy man at once subdued him, so that he forsook his evil ways, devoutly received the rites so long neglected, and spent his few remaining years in trying to atone for his past sins.

In 1226, he was taken suddenly ill at a banquet given by Hubert de Burgh, and being carried home, sent for the Bishop of Salisbury, Richard Poer, who found him in a high fever; but he at once threw himself from his bed upon the floor, weeping, and crying out that he was a traitor to the Most High: nor would he allow himself to be raised till he had made his confession, and received the Holy Eucharist.

He died a few days subsequently, and was buried at Old Sarum, whence his tomb was afterward removed to the cathedral at Salisbury, where his effigy lies in the nave, in chain armor, with his legs crossed as a crusader. The Countess Ella founded a monastery at Laycock, where she took the veil. Her eldest son, William Longespée, succeeded to the Castle of Sarum, but afterward offended the King by quitting the realm without the royal license, for which breach of rule Henry III. seized his possessions, and he remained a knight adventurer. In this capacity he followed his cousin, Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall, who took the Cross in 1240.

By this time, Yolande, the daughter of Jean de Brienne, had carried her rights to her husband, Frederick II., Emperor of Germany, the object of the bitter hatred of the Popes, who had thwarted him in every way, when he himself led an expedition to Palestine, and now, since the conquests of the crusaders would go to augment his power, would willingly have checked them. Gregory IX. strove to induce the English party to commute their vow for treasure, but they indignantly repelled the proposal, and set forth, under the solemn blessing of their own bishops. In France, they were received with great affection by Louis IX., and with much enthusiasm by the people; so that their progress was a triumph, till they came to Marseilles, where they embarked, disregarding a prohibition from the Pope which here met them.

At Acre, they were received by the clergy and people in solemn procession, chanting, “Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord;” and high were the hopes entertained that their deeds would rival those of the last Richard Plantagenet and William Longespée. But Richard, though brave and kindly-tempered, was no general; Palestine was in too miserable a condition for his succor to avail it, and all he could do was to make a treaty, and use his wealth to purchase free ingress to the holy places for the pilgrims; and, without himself entering Jerusalem, he returned home. He took with him as curiosities two Saracen damsels, trained to perform a dance with each foot, on a globe of crystal rolling on a smooth pavement, while they made various graceful gestures with their bodies, and struck together a couple of cymbals with their hands.

This was the whole result of the Crusade, for the treaty was set at naught by the Templars and Hospitallers, who called him a boy, and refused to be bound by his compact. In 1245, William Longespée again took the Cross under a very different leader.

In the previous year, Louis IX., King of France, had been attacked by an illness of such severity that his life was despaired of; and at one time a lady, who was watching by his bed, thought him actually dead, and was about to cover his face. He soon opened his eyes, and, stretching out his arms, said, “The light of the East hath shined on me, and called me back from the dead,” and he demanded the Cross, and at once took the vow for the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre. To part with so just and excellent a monarch on an expedition of such peril was grief and misery to his subjects, and, above all, to his mother, Queen Blanche, and every means was taken to dissuade him; but he would neither eat nor drink till the sign was given to him; and as soon as he had strength to explain himself, declared that he had, while in his trance, heard a voice from the East, calling on him, as the appointed messenger of Heaven, to avenge the insults offered to the Holy City. His mother mourned as for his death, his counsellors remonstrated, his people entreated; but nothing could outweigh such a summons, and his resolution was fixed. The Bishop of Paris saying that the vow was made while he was not fully master of his senses, he laid the Cross aside, but only to resume it, so as to be beyond all such suspicion.

The Crusade was preached, but it had now become a frequent practice, of which Henry III. was a lamentable example, lightly and hastily to assume the Cross in a moment of excitement, or even as a means of being disembarrassed from troublesome claims by the privileges of a Crusader, and then to purchase from the Pope absolution from the vow. It had become such an actual matter of traffic, that Richard of Cornwall positively obtained from Gregory IX. a grant of the money thus raised from recreant Crusaders. The landless William of Salisbury, going to the Pope, who was then at Lyons, thus addressed him: “Your Holiness sees that I am signed with the Cross. My name is great and well known: it is William Longespée. But my fortune does not match it. The King of England has bereft me of my earldom, but as this was done judicially, not out of personal ill-will, I blame him not. Yet, poor as I am, I have undertaken the pilgrimage. Now, since Prince Richard, the King’s brother, who has not taken the Cross, has obtained from you a grant to take money from such as lay it aside, surely I may beg for the like—I, who am signed, and yet without resource.”

He obtained the grant, and thus raised 1,000 marks, while Richard of Cornwall actually gained from one archdeacon £600, and in proportion from others.

Louis, for three years, was detained by the necessity of arranging matters for the tranquillity of his own kingdom, and not till the Friday in Whitsun-week, 1248, was he solemnly invested at St. Denis with the pilgrim’s staff and wallet, and presented with the oriflamme, the standard of the convent, which he bore as Count of Paris. His two brothers, Robert Comté d’Artois, and Charles Comte d’Anjou, and his wife Marguerite of Provence, accompanied him, together with a great number of the nobility, among whom the most interesting was the faithful and attached Sieur de Joinville, Seneschal of Champagne, who has left us a minute record of his master’s adventures.

They sailed from Aigues Mortes, August 25th, 1248, and Joinville reflected that he could not imagine how a man in a state of mortal sin could ever put to sea, since he knew not, when he fell asleep at night, whether morning would not find him at the bottom of the sea. On coming near the coast of Barbary, Joinville’s ship seems to have been becalmed, for it continued for three whole days in view of the same round mountain, to the great dismay of the crew, until a preux d’homme priest suggested, that in his parish, in cases of distress, such as dearth, or flood, or pestilence, processions chanting the Litany were made on three Saturdays following. The day was Saturday, and the crew acted on his advice, making the procession round the masts, even the sick being carried by their friends. The next day they were out of sight of the mountain, and on the third Saturday safely landed at Cyprus. Here the Crusaders remained for eight months, since Egypt was the intended point of attack, and they wished to allow the inundation of the Nile to subside. At length, in the summer of 1249, they arrived before Damietta, which was even better fortified than when it had previously held out for fifteen months; but it now surrendered, after Fakreddin, the Mameluke commander, had suffered one defeat under its walls, and the Christians entered in triumph. Here Louis made an unfortunate delay, while waiting for reinforcements brought by his brother Alfonse, Comte de Poitiers.

To the rude and superstitious noblesse, a Crusade appeared a certain means of securing salvation, as indeed the clergy led them to believe; and this belief seemed to remove all restraint of morality from the ill-disposed, so that the pure and pious King was bitterly grieved by the license which he found himself unable to restrain. Much harm was done by the excess in which the troops indulged while revelling in the plunder of Damietta. The prudent would have reserved the stores there laid up for time of need, but old crusaders insisted on “the good old custom of the Holy Land,” as they called it, namely, the distribution of two-thirds among the army; and though the King ransomed some portion, the money did as much harm in promoting revelry as the provisions themselves.

Longespée arrived, with 200 English knights; but the small band of English and their landless leader met with nothing but contumely from their allies, especially the King’s brother, Robert Comte d’Artois, a haughty and impetuous youth. The English took a small castle on the road to Alexandria, where one of the Saracen Emirs had placed his harem. It was reported that Longespée had acquired a huge treasure there, and Robert insulted him to his face, and deprived him of his just share of the spoil. Longespée, complained to the King; but Louis could give him no redress. “You are no King, if you cannot do justice,” said William.

Louis meekly suffered the reproach. He had, in his submission, made over his judgment and authority to the papal legates—men far less fit than he to exercise power—and matters went chiefly as they and his fiery brothers chose to direct. Wiser counsellors recommended securing the other seaport, Alexandria; but Prince Alfonse declared, that the only way to kill a snake, was to strike the head, and persuaded the council that the move should be upon Grand Cairo, or, as the Crusaders chose to call it, Babylon.

On November 25th, 1249, the army advanced, and the conjuncture should have been favorable, for the Sultan was just dead, and his son absent at Damascus; but nothing could have been worse concerted than the expedition—ill-provisioned, without boats to cross the canals, without engines of war, the soldiery disorganized; while the Mameluke force were picked soldiers, recruited from the handsomest Circassian children, bred up for arms alone, and with an esprit de corps that rendered them a terror to friend and foe almost down to our own times. They harassed the Christians at every step, and destroyed their machines, and terrified them excessively by showers of Greek fire, a compound of naphtha and other combustibles launched from hollow engines, which ignited as it traversed the air, and was very hard to extinguish.

The Franks regarded it with a superstitious horror, as a fiendish mystery, and compared it to a fiery dragon with a tail as long as a lance; but it did not actually cause many deaths, and they met with no serious disaster till they came to the canal of Aschmoum, which flowed between them and Mansourah. They tried to build a causeway across it, but their commencement was destroyed by the Greek fire, and a Bedouin offered, for 500 bezants, to show them a ford on the Shrove Tuesday of 1250. Robert d’Artois begged to lead the vanguard, and secure the passage of the rest; and when the King hesitated to confide so important a charge to one so rash and impetuous, he swore on the Gospels that, when he should have gained the bank on the other side, nothing should induce him to leave it till the whole army should have crossed. The King consented, but placed the command in the hands of the wise Guillaume de Sonnac, Grand Master of the Templars, who, with his knights, the Hospitallers, Longespée and the English, and Robert’s own band, formed a body of 1,400.

The Saracens who guarded the ford were taken by surprise, and fled in confusion; and the Christians, mounting the bank, beheld the inhabitants and garrison of Mansourah hurrying away in terror.

The temptation made the impetuous prince forget his promises, and he was dashing forward in pursuit, when the Grand Master tried to check him, by representing that, though the enemy were at present under the influence of panic terror, they would soon rally, and that the only safety for the I,400 was to wait, with the canal in their rear, until the rest of the army should have crossed; otherwise, as soon as their small number should be perceived, they would infallibly be surrounded and cut off.

The fiery youth listened with scorn and impatience. “I see,” cried he, “that it is well said, that the Orders have an understanding with the Infidel! They love power, they love money, and so will not see the war ended. This is the way that so many crusading princes have been served by them.”

“Noble Count,” said Pierre de Villebride, the Grand Master of St. John, trying to calm him, “why do you think we gave up our homes and took these vows? Was it to overthrow the Church and lose our own souls? Such things be far, far from us, or from any Christian.”

But De Sonnac would not parley; he called to his esquire, “Spread wide the Beauséant banner. Arms and death must decide our honor and fate. We might be invincible, united; but division is our ruin.”

Longespée interposed. “Lord Count,” said he, “you cannot err in following the counsel of a holy man like the Grand Master, well tried in arms. Young men are never dishonored by hearkening to their elders.”

“The tail! that smacks of the tail!” exclaimed the headstrong Robert.

[Footnote: On Thomas á Becket’s last journey to Canterbury, Raoul de Broc’s followers had cut off the tails of his pack-horses. It was a vulgar reproach to the men of Kent that the outrage had been punished by the growth of the same appendage on the whole of the inhabitants of the county; and, whereas the English populace applied the accusation to the Kentishmen, foreigners extended it to the whole nation when in a humor for insult and abuse, such as that of this unhappy prince.]

“Count Robert,” rejoined William, “I shall be so forward in peril to-day, that you will not even come near the tail of my horse.”

With these words they all set out at full gallop, Robert’s old deaf tutor, Sir Foucault de Nesle, who had not heard one word of the remonstrance, holding his bridle, and shouting, “Ores à eux! ores à, eux!” They burst into the town, and began to pillage, killing the Saracen Emir Fakreddin, as he left his bath; but in the meantime, Bendocdar, another Mameluke chief, had rallied his forces, threw a troop between them and the ford, and thus, cutting them off, attacked them in the streets, while the inhabitants hurled stones, boiling water, and burning brands from above.

Separated and surprised as they were, the little band sold their lives dearly, forgot their fatal quarrels, and fought as one man from ten o’clock till three. Robert entrenched himself in a house, defended himself there for a long time, and finally perished in its ruins. Longespée was killed at the head of his knights, who almost all fell with him; and his esquire, Robert de Vere, was found with his banner wrapped around his dead body. Only thirty-five prisoners were made, among them Pierre de Villebride. Sonnac, after having lost a hundred and eighty of his knights, fought his way through with the loss of an eye.

The King had, in the meantime, crossed the canal, and grievous was his disappointment on finding that the Saracens were between him and his brother. Every effort was made to break through to the rescue, but in vain; and at one moment Louis himself was in the utmost danger, finding himself singly opposed to six Saracens, whom, however, he succeeded in putting to flight. With difficulty could his forces even maintain their footing on the Mansourah side of the canal, and it was not till after a long and desperate conflict that there was time to inquire for the missing. The Prior de Rosnay came to the royal tent, to ask whether there were any tidings of the Count, “Only that he is in Paradise,” said the King. “God be praised for what He sends to us.” And he lifted up his eyes, while the tears flowed down his cheeks.

It was believed, in England, that the Countess Ella of Salisbury had on that day a vision of her son received into Paradise.

The bon Sieur de Joinville had his part in the brave deeds of the day: he, with the Comte de Soissons and four other knights, guarded a bridge against a mighty force of Saracens. “Seneschal,” cried the Count, “let this canaille roar and howl; you and I will yet talk of this day in our lady’s chamber.”

And Joinville fought on cheerfully, though twice dismounted, and in great danger. But he kept up his heart, crying out, “Beau Sire, St. James, help me, and succor me in my need!” and he came off safely, though pierced with five arrows, and his horse with fifteen wounds.

The following day was a doubly sorrowful Ash-Wednesday in the Christian camp; while the Mussulmans triumphed, calling the battle of Mansourah the key of joy to true believers; and fancying, from the fleur-de-lys on the surcoat, that the corpse of Robert was that of Louis himself, they proclaimed throughout their camp, “The Christian army is a trunk without life or head!”

They learnt their error on the Friday, when they made a furious attack on the Crusaders, and Louis’s valor made itself felt, as he dashed through showers of arrows and of Greek fire, and drove back the enemy as they were surrounding his brother Charles. His other brother, Alfonse, was for a moment made prisoner, but being much beloved, the butchers, women, and servants belonging to the army, suddenly rushed forward and rescued him. The Grand Master of the Templars lost his other eye, and was soon after killed; and though the Christians claimed the victory, their loss was so severe, especially in horses, that it was impossible to advance to Cairo, and they therefore remained encamped before Mansourah.

Nothing more fatal could have been done: the marshy ground, the number of dead bodies that choked the stream, the feeding on fish that had preyed upon them—for the Lenten fast prevented recourse to solid food—occasioned disease to break out—fever, dysentery, and a horrible disorder which turned the skin as black and dry (says Joinville) as an old boot, and caused great swelling and inflammation of the gums, so that the barbers cut them away piecemeal.

The Saracens let them alone, only now and then launching volleys of Greek fire. The King, on seeing these coming, would kneel down, and cry, “Lord, spare my people!” But worse enemies were at work. Warrior after warrior succumbed to his sufferings, and the clergy, going about among the dying, caught the infection, till there were hardly sufficient to perform the daily offices of religion. Joinville rose from his bed to lift up his chaplain, who, while singing mass, fainted on the step of the altar. Supported in his arms, he finished the mass, but, says the Seneschal, “he never chanted more.”

Patiently and steadfastly all was borne: the Christians repented of their late license, and suffered without murmurs, desertion, or submission, encouraged by their good King, who spent his time in going from one bed to another to encourage the sick, attend to their wants, and offer his prayers with them. He was vainly entreated not to expose himself to the infection. But love and duty equally led him among his people, and his sad, resigned face never failed to cheer the sufferers, till he too was laid on a bed of sickness.

Easter came, but famine was added to their miseries, and those who were recovering from illness died of hunger. The new Sultan, Touran Chah, or Almoadan, had at length arrived, and Louis tried to negotiate with him, offering to surrender the town of Damietta, provided Jerusalem were placed in his hands. The Sultan would have agreed, but required hostages, and, when Louis offered his two brothers, refused any guarantee but the person of the King himself. With one voice the French knights vowed that they would all be killed rather than make a pledge of their King, and the project was ineffectual.

Louis now resolved to attempt to retreat in secret, and on the 5th of April he collected as many boats as possible upon the canal, there by night to embark the sick, that they might ascend the Nile to Damietta. Those who yet had strength to fight were to go by land; and he, though very ill, refused to desert his army, and resolved to accompany them. In the midst of the embarkation the Saracens discovered what was going on, and fell upon them, shooting arrows at the sick as they were carried on board. They hurried the vessels off, notwithstanding loud cries from the land army of “Wait for the King! wait for the King!”—for the French soldiery only longed to see their King in safety; but he came not, and they pushed off. Before long the Sultan’s galleys met them with such showers of Greek fire, that Joinville, one of those unfortunate sick, declares that it seemed as if all the stars were falling. Soon they were boarded by the enemy; Joinville gave himself up for lost, threw overboard all his relics, lest they should be profaned, and prayed aloud; but a Saracen renegade who knew him, came up to him, and by calling out, “The King’s cousin!” saved his life, and that of a little boy in his company. All who seemed capable of paying a ransom were made prisoners; the rest had the choice of death or apostasy, and too many chose the last.

The rest of the army fared no better by land. Louis had mounted his horse, though so weak that he could not wear his armor, and rode among the knights, who strove to cut their way through the foe. The two good knights, Geoffroi de Sargines and Gautier de Chatillon rode on each side of him, and, as he afterward said, guarded, him from the Saracens as a good servant guards his master’s cup from flies. They were obliged to support him in his saddle after a time, so faint and exhausted did he become; and at last, on arriving at a little village named Minieh, Sargines look him from his horse, and laid him down just within a house, his head on the lap of a Frenchwoman whom he found there, and watched over him, expecting each breath to be the last.

Chatillon defended the entrance, rushing each moment on the Saracens, and only resting to draw out the arrows with which he was covered. At last he was overcome by numbers, and slaughtered; and another knight, Philippe de Montfort, making his way to the King, who had somewhat revived, told him that five hundred knights remained in full force, and, with his permission, he could make good terms. Louis consented, and the Saracen Emir was in the act of concluding a truce, when a traitor cried out, “Sir French knights, surrender! the King bids you! Do not cause him to be slain!” They instantly laid down their arms unconditionally, and the Emir, whose ring had been already off his finger, looking round, said, “We make no truce with prisoners.”

All was thus lost. The Saracens entered the village, and finding the King, loaded him with chains, and placed him on board a vessel. His brothers were likewise taken, and even the knights who were far advanced on the way to Damietta, on hearing of their monarch’s captivity, dropped their arms, and became an easy prey. The crosses and images of the Saints were trodden under foot and reviled by the Mussulmans, and the prisoners, when all those of importance had been selected, were placed in an enclosure, and each man who would not deny his faith was beheaded.

The news of the ruin of the army and the captivity of her husband reached Queen Marguerite at Damietta, where she was daily awaiting the birth of an infant. Her despair and terror were such, that her life was in the utmost danger, and nothing soothed her except holding the hand of an old knight, aged eighty years, who did his utmost to calm her. If she slept for a few moments, she awoke starting, and fancying the room was full of Saracens, and the old knight had to assure her that he was there, and she need fear nothing. Once she sent every one else out of the room, and, kneeling down, insisted that he should make oath to do what she should require of him. It was, that, should the enemy take the city, he would sweep off her head with his sword, rather than let her fall into their hands. “Willingly,” said the old knight. “Had you not asked it of me, I had thought of doing so.”

The morning after, a son was born to her, and named Jean Tristan, on account of the sadness that reigned around. On that very day word was brought to her that the Genoese and Pisans, who garrisoned the town, were preparing their vessels to depart. The poor Queen sent for their leaders, and as they stood round her bed, she held up her new-born babe, and conjured them not to desert the town and destroy all hopes for the King. They told her that they had no provisions: on which she sent to buy up all in the town, and promised to maintain them at her own expense; thus awakening sufficient compassion and honor to make them promise at least to await her recovery. Her first pledge of hope was a bulbous root, on which, with a knife, had been cut out the word “Espérance,” the only greeting the captive King could send to her. No wonder that plant has ever since borne the well-omened name.

Louis, meanwhile, was carried by water to Mansourah, where he lay very ill, and only attended by one servant and two priests. A book of Psalms and the cloak that covered him were the sole possessions that remained to him; but with unfailing patience he lay, feebly chanting the Psalms, never uttering one word of complaint, and showing such honor to the office of the priests, that he would not endure that they should perform for him any of the services that his helplessness required. Nor did he make one request from his enemies for his own comfort; though Touran Chah, struck with his endurance, sent to him a present of fifty robes for himself and his nobles; but Louis refused them, considering that to wear the robes of the Saracen would compromise the dignity of his crown. The Sultan next sent his physician, under whose care his health began to return, and negotiations were commenced. The King offered as his ransom, and that of his troops, the town of Damietta and a million of bezants; but the Sultan would not be contented without the cities of the Crusaders in Palestine, Louis replied that these were not his own; and when Touran Chah threatened him with torture or lifelong captivity, his only reply was, “I am his prisoner; he can do as he will with me.”

His firmness prevailed, and the Sultan agreed to take what he offered. Louis promised the town and the treasure, provided the Queen consented; and when the Mahometans expressed their amazement at a woman being brought forward, “Yes,” he said, “the Queen is my lady; I can do nothing without her consent.”

The King ransomed all his companions at his own expense, and there was general rejoicing at the hopes of freedom; but, alas! the Sultan, Touran Chan, was murdered by his own Mamelukes, who hunted him into the river, and killed him close to the ship where Joinville had embarked. They then rushed into the vessels of the Christians, who, expecting a massacre to follow, knelt down and confessed their sins to each other. “I absolve you, as far as God has given me power,” replied each warrior to his brother. Joinville, seeing a Saracen with a battle-axe lifted over him, made the sign of the Cross, and said, “Thus died St. Agnes.” However, they were only driven down into the hold, without receiving any hurt.

Louis was in his tent with his brothers, unable to account for the cries he heard, and fearing that Damietta had been seized, and that the prisoners were being slain. At last there rushed in a Mameluke with a bloody sword, crying, “What wilt thou give me for delivering thee from an enemy who intended thy ruin and mine?”

Louis made no answer.

“Dost thou not know,” said the furious Mameluke, “that I am master of thy life? Make me a knight, or thou art a dead man.”

“Make thyself a Christian,” said the undaunted King, “and I will make thee a knight.”

His calm dignity overawed the assassin; and though several others came in, brandishing their swords and using violent language, the sight of the majestic captive made them at once change their demeanor; they spoke respectfully, and tried to excuse the murder; then, putting their hands to their brow, and salaaming down to the ground, retired. They sounded their drums and trumpets outside the tent, and it is even said they deliberated whether to offer their crown—since the race of Saladin was now extinct—to the noble Frank prince. Louis had decided that he would accept it, in hopes of converting them, but the proposal was never made.

The Mamelukes returned to the former conditions of the treaty with the King, but, when the time came for making oaths on either side for its observance, a new difficulty arose. The Emirs, as their most solemn denunciation, declared that, “if they violated their promises, they would be as base as the pilgrim who journeys bareheaded to Mecca, or as the man who takes back his wives after having put them away.”

In return, they required the King to say that, if he broke his oath, he should be as one who denied his religion; but the words in which this was couched seemed to Louis so profane, that he utterly refused to pronounce them.

The Mahometans threatened.

“You are masters of my body,” he said, “but you have no power over my will.” His brothers and the clergy entreated in vain, though the Mamelukes, fancying that his resistance was inspired by the latter, seized the Patriarch of Jerusalem, an old man of eighty, and tied him up to a stake, drawing the cords so tight round his hands that the blood started.

“Sire, sire, take the oath!” he cried; “I take the sin upon myself.”

But Louis was immovable, and the Emirs at last contented themselves with his word, and retired, saying that this was the proudest Christian that had ever been seen in the East.

They knew not that his pride was for the honor of his God.

On the 6th of May, Geoffroi de Sargines came to Damietta, placed the Queen and her ladies on board the Genoese vessels, and gave up the keys to the Emirs.

The King was, on this, set free, but his brother Alfonso was to remain as a hostage till the bezants were paid. The royal coffers at Damielta could not supply the whole, and the rest was borrowed of the Templars, somewhat by force; for Joinville, going to their treasurer in his worn-out garments and his face haggard from illness, was refused the keys, till he said “he should use the royal key,” on which, with a protest, the chests were opened.

Philippe de Montfort managed to cheat the Mamelukes of 10,000 bezants, and came boasting of it to the King; but Louis, much displeased, sent him back with the remaining sum.

The King then embarked, still in much anxiety whether the Emirs would fulfil their engagements and liberate his brother; but, late at night, Montfort came alongside of the vessel, and called out, “Sire, speak to your brother, who is in the other ship!”

In great joy Louis cried, “Light up! light up!” and the signals of the two princes joyfully answered each other in the darkness.

The King sailed for Acre, and after some stay there, finding that his weakened force could effect nothing, and hearing that the death of his mother, Queen Blanche, had left France without a regent, he returned home, and landed 5th of September, 1254, six years after his departure.

The Countess Ella and her son Nicholas, Bishop of Salisbury, raised an effigy to William like that of his father, and the figures of the father and son lie opposite to each other in the new cathedral founded by Bishop Poore.





CAMEO XXX. SIMON DE MONTFORT. (1232-1266.)

  King of England.
  1216. Henry III.

  Kings of Scotland.
  1214. Alexander II.
  1249. Alexander III.

  Kings of France.
  1226. Louis IX.

  Emperor of Germany.
  1209. Friedrich II.
  1249. Conrad IV.
  1255. William.

  Popes.
  1227. Gregory IX.
  1241. Celestin IV.
  1242. Innocent IV.
  1254. Alexander IV.
  1261. Urban IV.

The lawlessness of John Lackland led to the enactment of Magna Charta; the extravagance of Henry of Winchester established the power of Parliament, and the man who did most in effecting this purpose was a foreigner by birth.

Amicia, the heiress of the earldom of Leicester, was the wife of Simon, Count de Montfort, an austere warrior, on whom fell the choice of Innocent III. to be leader of the so-called crusade against the unfortunate Albigenses. Heretics indeed they were; but never before had the sword of persecution been employed by the Church, and their fate is a grievous disgrace to Rome, and to the Dominican order. Strict in life, but of cruel temper, Count Simon was a fit instrument for the massacres committed; and being a leader of great skill, he gained complete victories over the native princes of the heretics, who, though not holding their opinions, were unwilling to let them perish without protection. Raymond de St. Gilles Count de Toulouse, Gaston Count de Béarn, and all the most famous names of the south of France, took up arms in their defence; and even Pedro, King of Aragon, joined, the confederacy; but at the battle of Muret all were totally defeated, and Pedro lost his life.

The nobles were imprisoned, the peasants murdered by wholesale, villages burnt down and the inhabitants slain, with out distinction of Catholic or heretic, and all the time the followers of Montfort deemed themselves religious men. The Lateran Council actually invested Simon with the sovereignty of the counties of Toulouse and Carcassonne; but he was extremely hated there, and Count Raymond, recovering his liberty, attacked him, and regained great part of his own dominions. Montfort was besieging the town of Toulouse, when, while hearing mass, intelligence was brought to him that the garrison were setting fire to his machines. He rose from his knees, repeating the first verse of the Song of Simeon, and rushing out to the battle, was struck on the head by a stone from a mangonel on the walls, and killed on the spot, June 25, 1218. He was a remarkable type of that character fostered by the system of the Middle Ages, where ambition and cruelty existed side by side with austere devotion, and were encouraged as if they did service to Heaven.

His second son, Simon, had the same strong sense of religion, together with equal talents, and unusual beauty of person, skill in arms, and winning grace of deportment. The elder son, Amaury, was the heir of the county of Montfort, and for some time Simon remained landless, the earldom of Leicester having been forfeited on account of the adherence of the family to the party of Louis the Lion in the wars that followed the signing of Magna Charta.

In 1232, however, young Simon came to England to attempt the recovery of his mother’s inheritance, and his graceful manners and Southern tongue at once delighted Henry III. Another heart was at the same time gained; the King’s sister, Eleanor, who had been left a widow at sixteen by the death of the brave Earl of Pembroke, had, in her first despair, made a vow of perpetual widowhood, and received the ring of dedication from the Archbishop; but at the end of six years all this was forgotten; she fell in love with the handsome Provençal, and prevailed on the King to sanction with his presence a hasty private wedding in St. Stephen’s Chapel.

For some time the marriage remained a secret, and when it became known, great was the indignation alike of clergy and laity. The Barons even collected troops, and headed by Richard, the King’s brother, whom they called the Staff of Fortitude, assembled at Southwark, and dreadfully alarmed the poor King; but Montfort, who always possessed a great power over men’s minds, managed to reconcile himself to Prince Richard, and to disperse the other nobles. Still, the Archbishop termed it no marriage at all, and Simon therefore set out at once for Rome, carrying letters from Henry, and raising money by every means in his power, till he was able to offer a sufficient bribe to obtain from the Pope a dispensation, with which he returned to England a few days before the birth of his eldest child, Henry.

Simon was now in high favor; the Barons, who at first looked on him as one of the hated Southern adventurers, were gained over by his address and adoption of their manners; and when, by the royal favor and the formal cession by his brother Amaury, he obtained the earldom of Leicester, they readily identified him with themselves. At court he was highly beloved; his children were constantly at the palace; and in 1239, when Edward, heir of the crown, was baptized, he was one of the nine godfathers—an honor, perhaps, chiefly owing to his wealth, for this was at one of the times when Henry’s finances were at so low an ebb that he, or his messengers, made the birth of the child an excuse for their rapacity. Each noble to whom the tidings were sent was obliged to make a costly gift; and if he did not offer enough, his present was returned on his hands with intimation that it must be increased. “God has given us this child,” said a jester; “the King sells him to us.”

Montfort’s English popularity seems suddenly to have rendered the fickle King jealous; for, to his great surprise, on the day of the churching of the Queen, Henry suddenly met him, and forbade him to join in the service, reviling him furiously for the circumstances of his marriage, and ordering him at once to leave his dominions. Returning with his wife to his lodgings, he was at once followed by messengers, ordering them both away; and before sunset he was obliged to embark with Eleanor in a small vessel, leaving behind them their infant son.

He placed his wife in safety in France, and proceeded to the Holy Land, where he highly distinguished himself, and, as usual, gained every one’s affection, so that the Barons of Palestine would fain have had him for their leader in the absence of their young Queen Yolande and her husband, Friedrich II. of Germany.

King Henry had forgotten his displeasure by the time he returned, and the next ten years were spent in peace by the Earl and Countess, at their castles of Kenilworth and Odiham, and the government of Gascony. Their five sons were brought up as the playfellows of their royal cousins, and were under the tutorship of the great Robert Grosteste, while the noble and magnificent earl stood equally well with sovereign and people. His chaplain, Adam de Marisco, seems to have been an admirable man, who never failed to administer suitable reproofs to the Countess for love of dress and other failings, all which she seems to have taken in good part.

Meantime Henry was plunging deeper in debt and difficulty. Every time his council met they charged him with breaches of the Great Charter, and refusing, in spite of his promises and pleas, to grant him any money, left him to devise means of obtaining it by extortion. The Jews had always been considered a sort of lawful property of the sovereign, who plundered them without remorse; but even this resource was not inexhaustible, and he looked with covetous eyes on the prosperous citizens of London. Once, when he was in great distress, and it was suggested to him to pawn to them his plate and jewels, he broke out passionately: “If the treasures of Augustus were put up to sale, these clowns would buy them. Is it for them to assume the style of Barons, and live sumptuously, while we are in want of the necessaries of life?” Thenceforth he made still more unscrupulous demands of the citizens, under the name of New-Year’s gifts, loans, &c.; and Queen Eleanor had even less consideration, so that their Majesties became the objects of the utmost hatred in the city.

In 1252 the Earl of Leicester was summoned from Gascony to answer various charges of maladministration. His brother-in-law, Prince Richard, took his part, with the two great Earls of Gloucester and Hereford, and it was reported that he had pledged the Gascons by a solemn oath not to make any complaint of his government. At any rate, they declared their intention of withdrawing their allegiance if he were superseded, and he himself refused to resign his post unless he were repaid the sums he had expended.

“I am not bound to keep my word with a traitor,” said Henry—words which put Simon into a passion, and he replied:

“It is a lie! and whoever said so, I will compel to eat his words. Who can believe you to be a Christian prince? Do you ever go to confession?”

“A Christian I am; I have often been to confession.”

“Vain confession, without repentance and reparation!”

“I repent of nothing so much,” cried the King, “as having fattened one who has so little gratitude and so much ill manners.”

The friends of Simon checked further reply. Henry’s wrath was like straw on fire; but he forgot that by it he lighted a flame more enduring, though at first less visible; and he was vexed when the offended Montfort removed his eldest son, Henry, from court. However, Gascony was wanted as a government for Prince Edward, who was only thirteen years old, and therefore Leicester was forced to resign, though he would not do so without full compensation, such as Henry was ill able to afford. Yet, affronted as he was, when the office of high steward of France was offered to him, he would not accept it, by the advice of Grosteste, lest he should seem unfaithful to his master.

To carry Prince Edward to Guienne was at present Henry’s favorite scheme, and for this end every means of raising money was resorted to. The King met the parliament, as he had done often before, with entreaties for a grant to enable him to go and redeem the Holy Sepulchre; but this had been far too frequently tried, and was unnoticed; so he next tried the bribe of confirmation of the charters. All the assembly went to Westminster Abbey, the bishops and abbots carrying tapers, and there the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounced sentence of excommunication against whosoever should infringe these charters. As he spoke, the tapers were dashed at once on the ground, with the words, “May his soul who incurs this sentence be thus extinguished for ever!” while Henry added, “So help me God! I will keep these charters, as I am a man, as I am a Christian, as I am a knight, as I am a king crowned and anointed.”

Yet a few days after, when the parliament was dismissed and the money in his hands, the temptation to transgress the charter again occurred. His conscience was still overawed, and he hesitated; but his uncles and half-brothers bade him remember that, while he kept his oath, he was but the shadow of a King, and that, should he scruple, three hundred marks sent to the Pope would purchase his dispensation and discharge him of guilt.

There was real need in Guienne; for Alfonso, King of Castile, had set up a claim to that county, and threatened to invade it. Arriving there, Henry gained some advantages, and concluded a peace, which was to be sealed by a marriage between Edward of England and Dona Leonor of Castile, Alfonso’s sister. Young as they were—Edward only fourteen and Leonor still younger—they were at once brought to Burgos and there united; after which a tournament was held, and the prince received knighthood from the sword of Alfonso. Bringing his bride back to his father at Bordeaux, Edward was received with a full display of luxury; all Henry’s money, and more too, having been laid out on the banquetting, so that the King himself stood aghast, and dismally answered one of his English guests, “Say no more! What would they think of it in England?”

The young bride, Eleanor, as the English called her, was brought to England, while Edward remained in Guienne, sometimes visiting the French court, and going wherever tournaments or knightly exercises invited him. He was far better thus employed, and in intercourse with St. Louis, than in the miserable quarrels, expedients, and perplexities, at home; and thus he grew up generous, chivalrous, and devout, his whole character strongly influenced by the example he had seen at Paris. His features were fair, and of the noblest cast, perfectly regular, and only blemished by a slight trace of his father’s drooping eyelid; the expression full of fire and sweetness, though at times somewhat stern. His height exceeded that of any man in England, and his strength was in proportion; he was perfectly skilled in all martial exercises, and we are told that he could leap into the saddle when in full armor without putting his hand on it.

All the wealth in the family had always been in the hands of Prince Richard, Earl of Cornwall, whose tin mines yielded such a revenue that he was esteemed the richest prince in Europe. He had wisely refused the Pope’s offer of the crown of Sicily; but at this time, the death of Friedrich II., and of his son Conrad, leaving vacant the imperial crown, he was so far allured by it, that he set off to offer himself as a candidate, carrying with him thirty-two wagons, each drawn by eight horses, and laden with a hogshead of gold. Judiciously distributed, it purchased his election by the Archbishop of Mainz and some of the electors, while others gave their votes to Alfonso of Castile, whose offers had been also considerable.

Alfonso thenceforth was called El Emperador, and Richard was generally known as King of the Romans, and his son as Henry d’Almayne, or of Germany; but the Germans took no notice of either claimant beyond taking their presents, and the only consequence was, that Richard was a poorer man, and that his brother, the King, was ruined.

It was in 1258, while Richard was gone to be crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle, that the long-gathering peril began to burst. There had been a severe famine, which added to the general discontent; and though Richard sent home forty vessels laden with corn, his absence was severely felt, and his mediation was missed. The King saw Simon de Montfort in conference with the nobles, and feared the consequences. Once, when overtaken by a sudden storm on his way to the Tower, Henry was forced to take refuge at Durham House, then the abode of the Earl, who came down to meet him, bidding him not to be alarmed, as the storm was over.

“Much as I dread thunder and lightning, I fear thee more than all,” said the poor King.

“My Lord,” said Montfort, “you have no need to dread your only true friend, who would save you from the destruction your false councillors are preparing for you.”

These words were better understood when, on the 2d of May, Henry, on going to meet his parliament at Westminster, found all his Barons sheathed in full armor, and their swords drawn. These they laid aside on his entrance, but when he demanded, “What means this? Am I your prisoner?” Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, a proud, violent man, who had once before given the lie to the King, answered:

“Not so, sir; but your love of foreigners, and your own extravagance, have brought great misery on the realm. We therefore demand that the powers of government be entrusted to a committee of Barons and Prelates, who may correct abuses and enact sound laws.”

William de Valence, one of Henry’s half-brothers, took upon him to reply, and high words passed between him and the Earl of Leicester; but the royal party were overmatched, and were obliged to consent to give a commission to reform the state to twenty-four persons, half from the King’s council, and half to be chosen by the Barons themselves, in a parliament to be held at Oxford.

This meeting, noted in history as the Mad Parliament, commenced on the 11th of June, and the Barons brought to it their bands of armed retainers, so as to overpower all resistance. The regulations were made entirely at their will, and the chief were thus: That parliaments should assemble thrice a year, that four knights from each county should lay before them every grievance, and that they should overlook all the accounts of the Chancellor and Treasurer. For the next twelve years this committee were to take to themselves the power of disposing of the government of the royal castles, of revoking any grant made without their consent, and of forbidding the great seal to be affixed to any charter—the same species of restraint as that under which King John had been placed at Runnymede.

The King’s half-brothers would not yield up the castles in their possession, but Montfort told William de Valence that he would have them, or his head, and brought charges against them before the council, which so alarmed them, that they all fled to Wolvesham Castle, belonging to Aymar, as intended Bishop of Winchester. Thither the Barons pursued them, and, making them prisoners, sent them out of the realm, with only six thousand marks in their possession.

Their defeat proved how vain was resistance, and the whole royal family were obliged to swear to observe the Acts of Oxford, as they were called. The King’s nephew, Henry d’Almayne, protested that they were of no force in the absence of his father, the King of the Romans. “Let your father look to himself,” said Leicester. “If he refuse to act with the Barons of England, not a foot of land shall he have in the whole realm.”

And accordingly, on his return, Richard was not allowed to land till he had promised to take the oath, which he did at Dover, in the presence of the King and Barons.

Queen Eleanor expressed herself petulantly as to the oath, and Prince Edward was scarcely persuaded to take it; but at length he was forced to yield, and having done so, retired from the kingdom in grief and vexation; for, having sworn it, he meant to abide by it, not being as well accustomed to oaths and dispensations as his father, who, of course, quickly sent to Rome for absolution.

On the other hand, when the twenty-four had to swear to it, the most backward to do so was Simon de Montfort himself, who probably discerned that the pledge was likely to be a mere mockery. When he at length consented, it was with the words, “By the arm of St. James, though I take this oath, the last, and by compulsion, yet I will so observe it that none shall be able to impeach me.”

Prince Edward might have said the same; he even incurred the displeasure of his mother for refusing to elude or transgress his oath, and was for a time accused of having joined the Barons’ party. Meanwhile, the King and Queen were constantly and needlessly affronting their subjects. “What! are you so bold with me, Sir Earl?” said the King to Roger Bigod. “Do you not know I could issue my royal warrant for threshing out all your corn?”

“Ay,” returned the Earl; “and could not I send you the heads of the threshers?”

The hot-tempered, light-minded Queen Eleanor’s open contempt of the English drew upon her such hatred, that vituperative ballads were made on her, some of which have come down to our times. One attacks even her virtue as a wife, and another is entitled a “Warning against Pride, being the Fall of Queen Eleanor, who for her pride sank into the earth at Charing Cross, and rose again at Queenhithe, after killing the Lady Mayoress.” Unfortunately, popular inaccuracy has imputed her errors to the gentle Eleanor of Castile, her daughter-in-law, and thus the ballad calls her wife to Edward I., instead of Henry III. “A Spanish dame,” was a term that might fairly be applied to the Provençal Eleanor, whose language was nearly akin to Spanish, and whose luxury was sufficient to lead to the accusation of

  “Bringing in fashions strange and new,
  With golden garments bright;”
 

And that

  “The wheat, that daily made her bread
  Was bolted twenty times:
  The food that fed this stately dame
  Was boiled in costly wines.
  The water that did spring from ground
  She would not touch at all,
  But washed her hands with dew of heaven
  That on sweet roses fall.
  She bathed her body many a time
  In fountains filled with milk,
  And every day did change attire
  In costly Median silk.”
 
Eleanor of Provence, when “drest in her brief authority” as Lady
Chancellor, had arbitrarily imprisoned the Lord Mayor, and this the
ballad converts into a persecution of the unfortunate Lady Mayoress,
  whom she sent”—into Wales with speed,
  And kept her secret there,
  And used her still more cruelly
  Than ever man did bear.
  She mude her wash, she made her starch,
  She made her drudge alway,
  She made her nurse up children small,
  And labor night and day,”
 and in conclusion slew her by means of two snakes.

Afterward her coach stood still in London, and could not move, when she was accused of the crime, and, denying it, sunk into the ground, and rose again at Queenhithe; after which she languished for twenty days, and made full confession of her sins!

The real disaster that befell Queen Eleanor in London was an attack by the mob as she was going down the Thames in her barge. She was pelted with rotten eggs, sheeps’ bones, and all kinds of offal, with loud cries of “Drown the witch!” and at length even stones and beams from some houses building on the bank assailed her, and she was forced, to return in speed to the Tower.

Prince Edward was not always blameless. He had been employed against the Welsh, and after the campaign, not knowing whither to turn for means of paying his troops, he broke into the chests of the Knights Templars, to whom his mother’s jewels had been pledged, and carried off not only these, but much property besides that had been committed to the keeping of the order by other parties.

As to the unfortunate Jews, each party considered them fair game; and there were frequent attacks upon them, and frightful massacres, when the choice of death or of Christianity was offered to them, and the Barons seized their treasures. The curses of Deuteronomy, of the trembling heart, and the uncertainty of life and possession, were indeed fulfilled on the unhappy race.

For four years the committee of twenty-four held their power with few fluctuations, until matters were driven to extremity by a proposal to render the present state of things permanent, and at the same time by an attack on the property of the moderate and popular King of the Romans on the part of the Barons.

On this the royal party determined to submit the dispute to the arbitration of the King of France, whose wise and fair judgments were so universally famed that the Barons readily consented, with the exception of Leicester, who was convinced that Louis would incline to the side of Henry, both as fellow-king and as brother-in-law, and therefore refused to attend the conference, or to consider himself bound by its decisions.

The judgment of Louis IX, was perfectly just and moderate. He declared that Magna Charta was indeed binding on the King of England, and that he had no right to transgress it; but that the coercion in which he had been placed by the Mad Parliament was illegal, and that the Acts of Oxford were null, since no subjects had a right to deprive their sovereign of the custody of his castles, nor of the choice of his ministers.

As Montfort had foreseen, the Barons would not accept this decision, and its sole effect was to release Prince Edward’s conscience, and open the way to civil war. The two Eleanors, of Provence and Castile, were left under the charge of St. Louis; and their namesakes of the other party, the Countess of Leicester and her daughter, the Damoiselle de Montfort, fortified themselves in their castle of Kenilworth, while arms were taken up on either side.

Leicester, who held that the guilt of perjury rested with the other party, and who had with him the clergy opposed to the Italian usurpation, deemed it a holy war, and marked the breasts of his soldiers with white crosses, imagining himself the champion of the truth, as he had been taught to think himself, when bearing his first arms under his father in what was esteemed the Provençal Crusade. Alas, when honorable and devout minds have the fine edge of conscience blunted! Thus did the gallant and beloved “Sir Simon the Righteous” become a traitor and a rebel.

The scholars of Oxford, who had not at all forgotten their quarrel with king and legate, came out en masse under the banner of the University (for once disloyal), to join Leicester’s second son, Simon, who was collecting a body of troops to lead to his father in London.

Prince Edward, however, attacked them at Northampton, and effected a breach in the wall. Young Montfort attempted a desperate sally, but was defeated, and his life only saved by his cousin, the Prince, who extricated him from beneath his fallen steed, and made him prisoner.

The King and Prince next marched to seize the Cinque Ports, and, while in Sussex, Leicester followed them, and came up with them in a hollow valley near Lewes. Here, with a sort of satire, the Barons sent to offer the King 30,000 marks if he would make peace, and a like sum to the King of the Romans if he would bring him to terms. The proposals were angrily repelled by Edward, who, with accusations of his godfather as traitor and “foi menti,” sent him a personal challenge.

Leicester spent the night in prayer, and in early morning knighted Gilbert de Clare, the young Earl of Gloucester, who was at this time enthusiastically attached to him. The battle then began, each army being arrayed in three divisions. Prince Edward and Henry d’Almayne were opposed to their two cousins, Henry and Guy de Montfort, with the bands from London. Mindful of the outrage that his mother had sustained from the citizens, Edward charged them furiously, and pursued them with great slaughter, never drawing rein till he reached Croydon.

But, as they rode back to Lewes, the impetuous young soldiers beheld a sight very different from their triumphant anticipations. The field was scattered with the corpses of the Royalists, and the white-crossed troops of the Barons were closely gathered round the castle and priory of Lewes. In dismay, William and Guy de Lusignan turned their horses, and rode off to embark at Pevensey. Seven hundred men followed them, and Edward and Henry were left with the sole support of Roger Mortimer, a Welsh-border friend of the former, with his followers.

The hot pursuit of the fugitive plunderers had ruined the day. Montfort had concentrated his forces, and had totally routed the two kings; Richard was already his prisoner, and Henry had no chance of holding out in the priory. The princes undauntedly strove to collect their shattered forces, and break through to his rescue, but were forced to desist by a message that, on their first attack, the head of the King of the Romans should be struck off.

To save his life, the two cousins therefore agreed to a treaty called the Mise of Lewes, May 15th, 1264, by which they gave themselves up to the Barons as hostages for their fathers, stipulating that the matter at issue should be decided by deputies from the King of France, and that the prisoners on either side should be set free.

Now began the great trial of Simon de Montfort—that of power and prosperity—and he failed under it. Whatever might have been his first intentions in taking up arms, he now proved himself unwilling to lay aside the authority placed in his hands, even though he violated his oaths in maintaining it, and incurred the sentence of excommunication which the Pope launched against him. But when the most saintly English bishops of their own time had died under it, it lost its power on the conscience.

No measures were taken for the French arbitration, nor were the prisoners set free. The King of the Romans was confined at Kenilworth, and the two young princes at Dover, the custody of which castle was committed to one of their cousins, the Montforts, who allowed them no amusement but the companionship of Thomas de Clare, the young brother of the Earl of Gloucester. King Henry was indeed nominally at liberty, but watched perpetually by Leicester’s guards, and not allowed to take a step or to write a letter without his superintendence; and when the Mayor of London swore fealty to him, it was with the words, “As long as he was good to them.” Edward was made, on promise of liberation, to swear to terms far harder than even the Acts of Oxford, and when the bitter oath had been taken, he was pronounced at full liberty, and then carried off, under as close a guard as ever, to Wallingford Castle.

Queen Eleanor was acting with great spirit abroad, gathering money and collecting troops in hopes of better times, and seven knights still held out Bristol for the King. They made a sudden expedition to Wallingford, in hopes of rescuing the Prince; but the garrison were on the alert, and called out to them that, if they wanted the prince, they might have him, but only tied hand and foot, and shot from a mangonel; and Edward himself, appearing on the walls, declared that, if they wished to save his life, they must retreat.

This violent threat went beyond the instructions of Leicester, who removed his nephew from the keeping of this garrison, and placed him at Kenilworth.

But Simon was made to feel that he had little control over his followers, and especially over his wild sons, who had learnt no respect to authority at all, and outran in their violence even the doings of the Lusignan family. Henry de Montfort seized all the wool in England, which was sold for his profit, while Simon and Guy fitted out a fleet and plundered the vessels in the Channel, without distinction of English or foreigners, and thus turned aside the popularity which Leicester had hitherto enjoyed in London. The Barons, too, already discontented at having only changed their masters, so as to have the mighty Montfort over them instead of the weak Plantagenet, could not bear with the additional lawlessness of sons who made themselves vile without restraint. A violent quarrel arose between these youths and Earl Gilbert de Clare, who challenged them to a joust at Dunstable; but their father, dreading fatal consequences, forbade it, and Gloucester retired to his estates in high displeasure.

Here he was joined by his brother Thomas, who came full of descriptions of the princely courtesy and sweetness of manner of the royal Edward, which contrasted so strongly with the presumption of his upstart cousins that the young Earl was brought over to concert measures with the Prince’s friend, Roger Mortimer.

In order to overawe the Welsh borderers, who were much attached to Edward, Simon had carried his captive to Hereford Castle, whither Thomas de Clare now returned as his attendant, taking with him a noble steed, provided by Mortimer, with a message that his friends would be on the alert to receive him at a certain spot.

Edward mounted his horse, rode out with his guard, set them to race, and looked on as umpire, till, their steeds being duly tired, he galloped off, and the last they saw of him was far in advance meeting with a party of spears, beneath the pennon of Mortimer. And now the Earl of Leicester experienced that “success but signifies vicissitude.” After his reign of one year, his fall was rapid.

The Earl of Gloucester had at once joined Edward, and in vain did Leicester use the King’s name in calling on the military tenants of the Crown; only a small proportion of his old partisans came to his aid, and he remained on the banks of the Severn, waiting to be joined by his son Simon, who had been besieging Pevensey, but now marched to his aid.

On his way, young Simon summoned Winchester, but was refused admittance. However, the treacherous monks of St. Swithin’s let in his forces through a window of their convent on the wall, and the city was horribly sacked, especially the Jewry. Afterward he went to the family castle of Kenilworth, where he awaited orders from his father. A woman named Margot informed the Prince that it was the habit of Simon and his knights to sleep outside the walls, for the convenience of bathing in the summer mornings; and Edward, suddenly making a night-march, fell upon them while in the very act, and took most of them prisoners, Simon just escaping into the castle with his pages in their shirts and drawers, all his baggage and treasures being taken.

Ignorant of this disaster, the Earl of Leicester proceeded, in hopes of effecting a junction with his son, and had just arrived at Evesham when banners were seen in the distance. Nicholas, his barber, who pretended to have some knowledge of heraldry, declared that they belonged to Sir Simon’s troops; but the Earl, not fully satisfied, bade him mount the church-steeple and look from thence. The affrighted barber recognized the Lions of England, the red chevrons of De Clare, the azure bars of Mortimer, waving over a forest of lances.

“We are dead men, my Lord,” he said, as he descended.

And truly, when the Earl beheld the marshalling of the hostile array, he could not help exclaiming, “They have learnt this style from me! Now God have mercy on our souls, for our bodies are the Prince’s!”

Henry, the only son who was with him, exhorted him not to despair.

“I do not, my son,” replied the Earl; “but your presumption, and the pride of your brothers, have brought me to this pass. I firmly believe I shall die for the cause of God and justice.”

He prayed, and received the sacrament, as he always did before going into battle; then arrayed his troops, bringing out the poor old King, in order to make his followers imagine themselves the Royalists. He tried in vain to force the road to Kenilworth; then drew his troops into a compact circle, that last resource of gallant men in extremity, such as those of Hastings and Flodden. Their ranks were hewn down little by little, and the Prince’s troops were pressing on, when a lamentable cry was heard, “Save me! save me! I am Henry of Winchester!”

Edward knew the voice, and, springing to the rescue, drew out a wounded warrior, whom he bore away to a place of safety. In his absence, Leicester’s voice asked if quarter was given.

“No quarter for traitors,” said some revengeful Royalist; and at the same moment Henry de Montfort fell, slain, at his father’s feet.

“By the arm of St. James, it is time for me to die!” cried the Earl; and, grasping his sword in both hands, he rushed into the thickest of the foe, and, after doing wonders, was struck down and slain. Terrible slaughter was done on the “desperate ring;” one hundred and sixty knights, with all their followers, were slain, and scarcely twelve gentlemen survived. The savage followers of Mortimer cut off the head and hands of Leicester, and carried the former as a present to their lady; but this was beyond the bounds of the orders of Prince Edward, who caused the corpses of his godfather and cousin to be brought into the abbey church of Evesham, wept over the playfellow of his childhood, and honored the burial with his presence.

The battle of Evesham was fought on the 4th of August, 1265, fourteen months after the misused victory of Lewes.

So died the Earl of Leicester, termed, by the loving people of England, “Sir Simon the Righteous”—a man of high endowments and principles of rectitude unusual in his age. His devotion was sincere, his charities extensive, his conduct always merciful—no slight merit in one bred up among the savage devastators of Provence—and his household accounts prove the order and religious principle that he enforced. His friends were among the staunch supporters of the English Church, and, unlike his father, who thought to merit salvation as the instrument of the iniquities of Rome, he disregarded such injunctions and threats of hers as disagreed with the plain dictates of conscience. Thinking for himself at length led to contempt of lawful authority; but it was an age when the shepherds were fouling the springs, and making their own profit of the flock; and what marvel was it if the sheep went astray?

He was enthusiastically loved by the English, especially the commonalty, who, excommunicate as he was, believed him a saint, imputed many miracles to his remains, and murmured greatly that he was not canonized. After-times may judge him as a noble character, wrecked upon great temptations, and dying as befitted a brave and resigned man drawn into fatal error.

  “If ever, in temptation strong,
  Thou left’st the right path for the wrong,
  If every devious step thus trode
  Still led thee further from the road,
  Dread thou to speak presumptuous doom
  On noble ‘Montfort’s’ lowly tomb;
  But say, ‘he died a gallant knight,
  With sword in hand, for England’s right.’”
 

For, though the rebellion cannot be justified, it was by the efforts and strife of this reign that Magna Charta was fixed, not as the concession wrung for a time by force from a reluctant monarch, but as the basis of English law.

Prince Edward, in the plenitude of his victory, did not attempt to repeal it; but, at a parliament held at Marlborough, 1267, led his father to accept not this only, but such of the regulations of the Barons as were reasonable, and consistent with the rigid maintenance of the authority of the Crown.

Evesham was the overthrow of the Montfort family. Henry was there slain with his father—though, according to ballad lore, he had another fate—the blow only depriving him of sight, and he being found on the field by a “baron’s faire daughter,” she conveyed him to a place of safety, tended him, and finally became his wife, and made him “glad father of pretty Bessee.” For years he lived and throve (as it appears) as the blind beggar of Bethnal Green, till his daughter, who had been brought up as a noble lady, was courted by various suitors. On her making known, however, that she was a beggar’s daughter,

  “‘Nay, then,’ quoth the merchant, ‘thou art not for me.’ 
  ‘Nor,’ quoth the inn-holder, ‘my wiffe shalt thou be.’ 
  ‘I lothe,’ said the gentle, ‘a beggar’s degree;
  And therefore adewe, my pretty Bessee.’”
 

However, there was a gentle knight whose love for “pretty Bessee” was proof against the discovery of her father’s condition and the entreaties of his friends; and after he had satisfied her by promises not to despise her parents, the blind beggar counted out so large a portion, that he could not double it, and on the wedding-day the beggar revealed his own high birth, to the general joy.

Unfortunately, it does not appear as if Henry de Montfort might not have prospered without his disguise. His mother was generously treated by the King and Prince, and retired beyond sea with her sons Amaury and Richard; and her daughter Eleanor, and his brother Simon, a desperate and violent man, held out Kenilworth for some months, which was with difficulty reduced; afterward he joined his brother Guy, and wandered about the Continent, brooding on revenge for his father’s death.

The last rebel to be overcome was the brave outlaw, Adam de Gourdon, who, haunting Alton Wood as a robber after the death of Leicester, was sought out by Prince Edward, subdued by his personal prowess, and led to the feet of the King.

The brave and dutiful Prince became the real ruler of the kingdom, and England at length reposed.





CAMEO XXXI. THE LAST OF THE CRUSADERS. (1267-1291.)

  Kings of England.
   1216. Henry III.
   1272. Edward I.

  Kings of Scotland.
   1249. Alexander III.
   1285. Margaret.
   (Interregnum.)

  Kings of France.
   1226. Louis IX.
   1270. Philippe III.
   1285. Philippe IV.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1273. Rodolph I.

  Popes.
   1265. Clement IV.
   1271. Gregory X.
   1276. Innocent V.
   1277. John XXI.
   1277. Nicholas III.
   1281. Martin IV.
   1285. Honorius IV.
   1288. Nicholas IV.

A hundred and seventy years had elapsed since the hills of Auvergne had re-echoed the cry of Dieu le veult, and the Cross had been signed on the shoulders of Godfrey and Tancred. Jerusalem had been held by the Franks for a short space; but their crimes and their indolence had led to their ruin, and the Holy City itself was lost, while only a few fortresses, detached and isolated, remained to bear the name of the Kingdom of Palestine. The languishing Royal Line was even lost, becoming extinct in Conradine, the grandson of Friedrich II. and of Yolande of Jerusalem, that last member of the house of Hohenstaufen on whom the Pope and Charles of Anjou wreaked their vengeance for the crimes of his fore-fathers. Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis, but of utterly dissimilar character, had seized Conradine’s kingdom of the two Sicilies, and likewise assumed his title to that of Jerusalem, thus acquiring a personal interest in urging on another Crusade for the recovery of Palestine.

Less and less of that kingdom existed. Bibars, or Bendocdar Elbondukdari, one of the Mameluke emirs, who had become Sultan of Egypt during the confusion that followed the death of Touran Chah, was so great a warrior that he was surnamed the Pillar of the Mussulman Religion and the Father of Victories—titles which he was resolved to merit by exterminating the Franks. Cesarea, Antioch, Joppa, fell into his hands in succession, and Tripoli and Acre alone remained in the possession of the Templars and Hospitallers, who appealed to their brethren in Europe for assistance.

The hope of a more effective crusade than his first had never been absent from the mind of Louis IX.; he had carried it with him through court and camp, dwelt on it while framing wise laws for his people, instructing his nobles, or sitting to do justice beneath the spreading oak-tree of Vincennes. Since his return from Damietta, he had always lived as one devoted, never wearing gold on his spurs nor in his robes, and spending each moment that he could take from affairs of state in prayer and reading of the Scripture; and though his health was still extremely frail and feeble, his resolution was taken.

On the 23d of March, 1267, he convoked his barons in the great hall of the Louvre, and entered the assembly, holding in his hand that sacred relic, the Crown of Thorns, which had been found by the Empress Helena with the True Cross. He then addressed them, describing the needs of their Eastern brethren, and expressing his own intention of at once taking the Cross. There was a deep and mournful silence among his hearers, who too well remembered the sufferings of their last campaign, and who looked with despair at their beloved King’s worn and wasted form, so weak that he could hardly bear the motion of a horse, and yet bent on encountering the climate and the labors that had well-nigh proved fatal to him before.

The legate, the Cardinal Ottoboni, then made an exhortation, after which Louis assumed the Cross, and was imitated by his three sons, Philippe, Tristan, and Pierre, and his son-in-law, Thibault, King of Navarre, with other knights, but in no great numbers, for the barons were saying to each other, that it was one of the saddest days that France had ever seen. “If we take the Cross,” they said, “we lose our King; if we take it not, we lose our God, since we will not take the Cross for Him.” The Sire de Joinville absolutely refused on account of his vassals, and openly pronounced it a mortal sin to counsel the King to undertake such an expedition in his present state of health; but Louis’ determination was fixed, and in the course of the next three years he collected a number of gallant young Crusaders.

He had always had a strong influence over his nephew, Edward of England, and the conclusion of the war with Montfort, as well as a personal escape of his own, had at this period strongly disposed the Prince to acts of devotion. While engaged in a game at chess with a knight at Windsor Castle, a sudden impulse seized him to rise from his seat. He had scarcely done so, when a stone, becoming detached from the groined roof over his head, fell down on the very spot where he had been sitting. His preservation was attributed by him to Our Lady of Walsingham, and the beautiful church still existing there attests the veneration paid to her in consequence, while he further believed himself marked out for some especial object, and eagerly embraced the proposal of accompanying the French King on his intended voyage.

Ottoboni preached the Crusade at Northampton on the 25th of June, 1269, after which he gave the Cross to King Henry, to the Princes Edward and Edmund, to their cousin Henry of Almayne, son to Richard of Cornwall, and to about one hundred and fifty knights. The King intended as little to go on the expedition as on any of the former ones, and he soon made over his Cross to his son. Edward, who was fully in earnest, made every arrangement for the safety of the realm in his absence, taking with him the turbulent Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and appointing guardians for his two infant sons, John and Henry, in case the old King should die during his absence. His wife, Eleanor of Castile, insisted on accompanying him; and when the perils of the expedition were represented to her, she replied, “Nothing ought to part those whom God hath joined together. The way to heaven is as near, if not nearer, from Syria as from England or my native Spain.”

The last solemnity in which Edward assisted before his departure was the translation of the remains of Edward the Confessor to their new tomb in Westminster Abbey, the shrine of gold and precious stones being borne upon the shoulders of King Henry himself, after which the princes took leave of their father, and commenced their expedition, meeting on the way their uncle, the King of the Romans, who was bringing home a young German wife, Beatrice von Falkmart. Embarking at Dover on the 20th of August, 1270, the princes made all speed to hasten across France, so as to come up with Louis, who had set sail from Aigues Mortes on the 1st of July, with his three sons, his daughter Isabelle, and her husband the King of Navarre, and Isabelle the wife of his eldest son Philippe, as well as a gallant host of Crusaders. He had appointed Cagliari as the place of meeting with Edward of England, and with his brother Charles, King of Sicily; but he found his sojourn there inconvenient; the Pisans, who held Sardinia, were unfriendly, provisions were scarce, and the water unwholesome, and he became desirous of changing his quarters.

The reasons which conduced to his fatal resolution have never been clearly ascertained: whether he was influenced by his brother, the King of Sicily, who might reasonably wish to see the Moors of Tunis, his near neighbors, overpowered; or whether he was drawn along by the impatience of his forces, who were weary of inaction, and thought the plunder of any Mahometan praiseworthy; or whether he had any hope of converting the King of Tunis, Omar, with whom he had at one time been in correspondence. When some ambassadors from Tunis were at his court, a converted Jew had been baptized in their presence, and he had said to them, “Tell your master that I am so desirous of the salvation of his soul, that I would spend the rest of my life in a Saracen prison, and never see the light of day, if I could render your King and his people Christians like that man.” It does not seem improbable that Louis might have hoped that his arrival might encourage Omar to declare himself a Christian. But be this as it might, he sailed from Cagliari, and on the 17th of June appeared upon the coast of Africa, close to the ruins of ancient Carthage.

All the inhabitants fled to the mountains, and the shore was deserted, so that the French might have disembarked at once; but Louis hesitated, and waited till the next morning, when they found the coast covered with Moors. However, the landing proceeded, the Moors all taking flight—happily for the Christians, for their disorder was so great, that a hundred men might have prevented their disembarkation. A proclamation was then read, taking possession of the territory in the name of our Lord, and of Louis, King of France. His servant.

The spot where the army had landed was a sandy island, a league in length, and very narrow, separated from the mainland by a channel fordable at low water, without any green thing growing on it, and with only one spring of fresh water, which was guarded by a tower filled with Moorish soldiers. A hundred men would have been sufficient to dislodge them; but few horses had been landed, and those were injured by their voyage, and the knights could do nothing without them. The men who went in search of water were killed by the Moorish guard, and thirst, together with the burning heat of the sun reflected by the arid sand, caused the Christians to suffer terribly.

As to the King of Tunis, far from fulfilling Louis’ hopes, he sent him word that he was coming to seek him at the head of 100,000 men, and that he would only seek baptism on the field of battle; and at the same time he seized and imprisoned every Christian in his dominions, threatening to cut off all their heads the instant the French should attack Tunis.

After three days’ misery in the island, the Christians advanced across the canal, and entered a beautiful green valley, where Carthage once had stood, full of rich gardens, watered by springs arranged for irrigation. The Moors buzzed round them, throwing their darts, but galloping off on their advance without doing any harm. There was a garrison in the citadel, which was all that remained of the once mighty town; and the Genoese mariners, supported by the cavalry, undertook to dislodge them. This was effected, and the ruinous city was in the hands of the French. A number of the inhabitants had hidden themselves, with their riches, in the extensive vaults and catacombs, and, to the shame of the Crusaders, their employment was to search these wretches out and kill them, often by filling the vaults with smoke.

Louis had promised his brother Charles to wait for him before marching against Tunis, and messengers daily arrived with intelligence that the Sicilian troops were embarking; but, as the days passed on, the malaria of the ruined city and the heat of the climate were more fatal to the French army than would have been a lost battle. The desert winds which swept over them were hot as flame, and brought with them clouds of sand, which blinded the men and choked up the wells, while the water of the springs swarmed with insects, and all vegetable food failed. Disease could not be long wanting in such a situation, and a week after the taking of Carthage the whole camp was full of fever and dysentery, till the living had not strength to bury the dead, but heaped them up in the vaults and the trenches round the camp, where their decay added to the infection of the air. The Moors charged up to the lines, and killed the soldiers at their posts every day; and a poet within Tunis made the menacing verses: “Frank, knowest thou not that Tunis is the sister of Cairo? Thou wilt find before this town thy tomb, instead of the house of Lokman; and the two terrible angels, Munkir and Nekir, will take the place of the eunuch Sahil.”

Lokman and Sahil had been Louis’ guards in his Egyptian captivity, and the Moorish poet contrasts them with the two angels whom the Mahometans believed received and interrogated the dead.

As long as his strength lasted, Louis went about among the tents, encouraging and succoring the sufferers; but nearly at the same time himself and his two sons, Philippe and Tristan, were attacked by the malady. On Tristan, a boy of sixteen, born in the last Crusade, the illness made rapid progress, and the physicians judged it right to carry him from his father’s tent and place him on board ship. His strength rapidly gave way, and he expired soon after the transit. Louis constantly inquired for his son, but was met by a mournful silence until the eighth day, when he was plainly told of his death, and shed many tears, though he trusted soon to rejoin his young champion of the Cross in a better world. The Cardinal of Alba, the papal legate, was the next to die; and Louis’ fever increasing, so that he could no longer attend to the government of the army, he sent for his surviving children, Philippe and Isabelle, and addressed to them a few words of advice, giving them each a letter written with his own hand, in which the same instructions were more developed. They were beautiful lessons in holy living, piety, and justice, such as his descendant, the Dauphin, son of Louis XV., might well call his most precious inheritance. He bids his daughter to “have one desire that should never part from you—that is to say, how you may most please our Lord; and set your heart on this, that, though you should be sure of receiving no guerdon for any good you may do, nor any punishment for doing evil, you should still keep from doing what might displease God, and seek to do what may please Him, purely for love of Him.” He desires her, in adornment, to incline “to the less rather than the more,” and not to have too great increase of robes and jewels, but rather to make of them her alms, and to remember that she was an example to others. His parting blessing is, “May our Lord make you as good in all things as I desire, and even more than I know how to desire. Amen.”

To her he gave two ivory boxes, containing the scourge and hair-cloth which he used in self-discipline, and which she afterward employed for the same purpose, though unknown even to her confessor, until she mentioned it at her death.

To Philippe he said much of justice and mercy, desiring him always to take part against himself, and to give the preference to the weak over the strong. He exhorted him to be careful in bestowing the benefices of the Church, and to keep a careful watch over his nobles and governors, lest they should injure the clergy or the poor. To reverence in church, and to guarded language, he also exhorted him. Indeed, Joinville records, that in all the years that he knew the King, he never heard from him one careless mention of the name of God, or of the saints, nor did he hear him ever lightly speak of the devil; and in this the Seneschal so followed his example, that a blow was given in the Castle of Joinville for every profane word, so that he hoped the ill habit was there checked.

The good King thus concludes: “Dear son, I give thee all the blessing that father can and ought to give to son. May God of His mercy guard and defend thee from doing aught against His will; may He give thee grace to do His will; so that He may be honored and served by thee; and this may our Lord grant to me and thee by His great largesse, in such manner that, after this mortal life, we may see and laud and love Him without end.”

His children then took leave of him, and he remained with his confessors, after which he received the last rites of the Church, and was so fully conscious, that he made all the responses in the penitential Psalms. When the Host was brought in, he threw himself out of bed, and received it kneeling on the ground, after which he refused to be replaced in bed, but lay upon a hair-cloth strewn with ashes. This was on Sunday, at three o’clock, and from that time, while voice lasted, he never ceased praising God aloud, and praying for his people. “Lord God,” he often said, “give us grace to despise earthly things, and to forget the things of this world, so that we may fear no evil;” or, “Make Thy people holy, and watch over them.” On Monday he became speechless; but he often looked around him débonnairement, and fixed his eyes on the cross planted at the foot of his bed, while sometimes his attendants caught a faint whisper of “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!”

It was the heavenly Jerusalem that was before him now; and after lying as if asleep for half an hour, he joined his hands, saying, “Good Lord, have mercy on the people that remain here, and bring them back to their own land, that they may not fall into the hands of their enemies, nor be forced to deny Thy holy name!” Soon after, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” and, looking up to heaven, “I will enter into Thy house, and worship in Thy tabernacle.”

It was three o’clock in the afternoon of the 25th of August, when Louis drew his last breath, and his chaplains were still standing round his bed of ashes, when, the sound of trumpets fell on their ears. The Sicilian fleet had anchored, and the troops had landed while all the French were hanging in suspense on each report of the failing strength of their King, and had not even watched for that long-delayed arrival. The dead silence that met the newcomers was their first intimation of the calamity; and when Charles of Anjou reached his brother’s tent, and saw his calm features fixed in death, he threw himself on his knees, and bitterly reproached himself for his tardiness in coming to his aid.

The Sicilian troops gained some advantages over the Moors, and it was proposed to finish the enterprise St. Louis had begun; but sickness still made great ravages in the army, and the new King, Philippe III., was so ill, that a speedy departure could alone save his life: a peace was therefore concluded with the Tunisians, which was hardly signed when Edward, with his English force, arrived upon the coast. He accompanied the melancholy remains of the French army to Trapani in Sicily, whither misfortunes still followed them. The young wife of Philippe III. was thrown from her horse, and died in consequence; and his sister Isabelle, and her husband the King of Navarre, both sank under the disorders brought from Carthage. Broken in health and spirit, Philippe resolved to desist from the Crusade, and both he and his uncle would have persuaded the English to do the same, since their small force alone could effect nothing; but Edward was undaunted. “I would go,” said he, “if I had no one with me but Fowen, my groom.”

Philippe set out on his return to France, carrying with him five coffins—those of his father, his brother, his wife, his sister, and brother-in-law. Henry d’Almayne took the opportunity of his escort to return to England, since the failing health of Henry III., and of his brother Richard, made his presence desirable. He had arrived at Viterbo, when he entered a church to hear mass. The Host had just been elevated, when a loud voice broke on the solemnity of the service, “Henry, thou traitor, thou shalt not escape!”

Henry turned, and beheld his cousins, Simon and Guy de Montfort, the latter of whom had married the daughter of the Italian Count Aldobrandini, and was living in the neighborhood. Their daggers were raised, and Henry was unarmed. He sprang to the altar, and the two officiating priests interposed; but the sacrilegious Montforts killed one, and left the other for dead, and, piercing Henry again and again, slew him at the foot of the altar. Then going to the church-door, where their horses awaited them, one of them said, “I have satisfied my vengeance.”

“What!” said an attendant, “was not your father dragged through the streets of Evesham?”

At these words the savages returned, and dragged the corpse by the hair to the door of the church, after which they rode safely off.

Henry’s body was carried home, and buried in the Abbey of Hales. His father probably never was aware of his death, for his own took place a few months after.

The murderers were never traced out, and the remissness on the part of Philippe and Charles left an impression on Edward’s mind that they had connived at the murder. Of this Philippe at least may be acquitted; he completed his sad journey, and buried his father at St. Denis, amid the mourning of the whole nation, and yet their exultation, for miracles were thought to be wrought at his tomb, and the Papal authority enrolled him among the Saints. Old Joinville was cheered by a dream, in which he beheld him resplendent with glory, and telling him that he would not quickly depart from him, whereupon he placed an altar in the castle chapel to his honor, and caused a mass to be said there every day.

St. Louis’ wisdom should be judged of rather by his admirable conduct in daily life, and in the government of his people, than by his actions in his unfortunate Crusades, when he seemed to give up all guidance and common sense. At home he was so prudent, just, and wise, that few kings have ever equalled him, and even the enemies of the faith that prompted him cannot withhold their testimony that “virtue could be pushed no further.”

In the spring, Edward, with 300 knights, sailed for Acre, and, on arriving here [Footnote: Edward at Acre, 1271], made an expedition to Nazareth, where he put all the garrison to the sword. He spent the winter in Cyprus, and returned again to Syria in the spring; but he could never collect more than 7,000 men under his standard, and an advance on Jerusalem was impossible. He therefore remained in his camp before Acre, while his knights went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and, while there, he narrowly escaped becoming a seventh royal victim, to the Crusade.

The heat of the weather had affected his health, and he was lying on his couch, only covered with a single garment, when a messenger approached with letters purporting to be from the Emir of Joppa. While he was reading them, the man suddenly drew out a poniard, and was striking at his side, when Edward, perceiving his intention, caught the blow on his arm, and threw him to the ground by a kick on the breast. The murderer arose, and took aim again, but had only grazed his; forehead, when the Prince dashed out his brains with a wooden stool. The attendants rushed in, and were beginning to make up for their negligence by blows on the corpse, when Edward stopped them, by sternly demanding what was the use of striking a dead man.

It is on the authority of a Spanish chronicle that we hear that Eleanor, apprehending that the weapon had been poisoned, at once sucked the blood from her husband’s wounds. The fear was too well founded, and Edward was in great danger; so that his men, in their first rage, were about to put to death all their Saracen captives, when he roused himself to prevent them, by urging, that not only were these men innocent, but that the enemy would retaliate upon the many Christian pilgrims absent from the army.

The Grand Master of the Templars brought a surgeon, who gave hopes of saving the gallant English prince by cutting out the flesh around the wound. Edward replied by bidding him work boldly, and spare not; but Eleanor could not restrain her lamentations, till he desired his brother Edmund to lead her from the tent, when she was carried away, struggling and sobbing, while Edmund roughly told her that it was better she should scream and cry, than all England mourn and lament.

The operation was safely performed, but Edward made his will, and resigned himself to die. In fifteen days, however, he was able to mount his horse, and nearly at the same time Eleanor gave birth to her eldest daughter, Joan, called of Acre, whose wild, headstrong temper was little fitted to the child of a Crusade.

The army was weakened by sickness, and Edward decided on prolonging his stay no longer; therefore, as soon as Eleanor had recovered, he left the Holy Land, with keen regret, and many vows to return with a greater force. These vows were never fulfilled, nor was it well they should have been. Acre was a nest of corruption, filled with the scum of the European nations, and a standing proof that the Latin Christians were unworthy to hold a foot of the hallowed ground; and in 1291, eighteen years after the conclusion of the seventh Crusade, it was taken by the Sultan Keladun, after a brave defence by the Templars and Hospitallers; and since that time Palestine has remained under the Mahometan, dominion.

Louis and Edward were the last princely Crusaders, though the idea lived on in almost every high-souled man through the Middle Ages. Henry V. and Philip le Bon of Burgundy both schemed the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre; and the hope that chiefly impelled the voyage of Columbus was, that his Western discoveries might open a way to the redemption of the Holy Land. “Remember the Holy Sepulchre!” is a cry that can never pass from the ears of men.

Death had been busy in England as in the crusading host, and the tidings met Edward in Sicily that his home was desolate. His kind and generous uncle, Richard, his gentle, affectionate father, and his two young children, had all died during his absence. The grief that the stern Edward showed for his father’s death was so overpowering, that Charles of Sicily, who probably had little esteem for Henry, and thought the kingdom a sufficient consolation, marvelled that he could grieve more for an aged father than for two promising sons. “The Lord, who gave me these, can give me other children,” said Edward; “but a father can never be restored!”

Before his return to England, Edward obtained from Pope Gregory X. justice upon the murderers of Henry d’Almayne. Simon was dead, but Guy was declared incapable of inheriting or possessing property, or of filling any office of trust, and was excommunicated and outlawed. After Edward had left Italy, the unhappy man ventured to meet the Pope at Florence in his shirt, with a halter round his neck, and implored that his sentence might be changed to imprisonment. The Pope had pity on him, and, after a confinement of eleven years, he was liberated, and returned to his wife’s estates. He afterward was taken prisoner in the wars in Sicily, but his subsequent fate does not appear.

The history of the last of the Crusaders must not be quitted without mentioning that the scene of St. Louis’ death is now in the hands of the French, and that the spot has been marked by a chapel erected by his descendant, Louis Philippe; and that our own Edward sleeps in his father’s church of Westminster, beneath a huge block, unornamented indeed, but of the same rock as the hills of Palestine; nay, it is believed that it is probably one of those great stones whereof it was said; that not one should remain on another.





CAMEO XXXII. The CYMRY. (B.C. 66 A.D. 1269.)

In ancient times the whole of Europe seems to have been inhabited by the Keltic nation, until they were dispossessed by the more resolute tribes of Teuton origin, and driven to the extreme West, where the barrier of rugged hills that guards the continent from the Atlantic waves has likewise protected this primitive race from extinction.

Cym, or Cyn, denoting in their language “first,” was the root of their name of Cymry, applied to the original tribe, and of which we find traces across the whole map of Europe, beginning from the Cimmerian Bosphorus, going on to the Cimbri, conquered by Marius, while in our own country we still possess Cumberland and Cambria, the land inhabited by the Cymry.

The Gael, another pure Keltic tribe, who followed the Cymry, have bestowed more names, as living more near to the civilized world, and being better known to history. Even in Asia Minor, a settlement of them had been called Galatians, and the whole tract from the north of Italy to the Atlantic was, to the Romans, Gallia. The name still survives in the Cornouailles of Brittany and the Cornwall of England (both meaning the horn of Gallia), in Gaul, in Galles, in the Austrian and Spanish Galicias, in the Irish Galway and the Scottish Galloway, while the Gael themselves are still a people in the Highlands.

Mingling with the Teutons, though receding before them, there was a third tribe, called usually by the Teuton word “Welsh” meaning strange; and these, being the first to come in contact with the Romans, were termed by them Belgae. The relics of this appellation are found in the German “Welschland,” the name given to Italy, because the northern part of that peninsula had a Keltic population, in Wallachia, in the Walloons of the Netherlands, who have lately assumed the old Latinized name of Belgians, and in the Welsh of our own Wales.

This last was the region, scarcely subdued by the Romans, where the Cymry succeeded in maintaining their independence, whilst the Angles and Saxons gained a footing in the whole of the eastern portion of Britain. The Britons were for the most part Christian, and partly civilized by the Romans; but there was a wild element in their composition, and about the time of the departure of the Roman legions there had been a reaction toward the ancient Druidical religion, as if the old national faith was to revive with the national independence. The princes were extremely savage and violent, and their contemporary historian, Gildas, gives a melancholy account of their wickedness, not even excepting the great Pendragon, Arthur, in spite of his twelve successful battles with the Saxons. Merlin, the old, wild soothsayer of romance, seems to have existed at this period under the name of Merddyn-wilt, or the Wild, and bequeathed dark sayings ever since deemed prophetic, and often curiously verified.

Out of the attempt to blend the Druid philosophy with Christianity arose the Pelagian heresy, first taught by Morgan, or Pelagius, a monk of Bangor, and which made great progress in Wales even after its refutation by St. Jerome. It was on this account that St. Germain preached in Wales, and produced great effect. The Pelagians gave up their errors, and many new converts were collected to receive the rite of baptism at Mold, in Flintshire, when a troop of marauding enemies burst, on them. The neophytes were unarmed and in their white robes, but, borne up by the sense of their new life, they had no fears for their body, and with one loud cry of “Hallelujah!” turned, with the Bishop at their head, to meet the foe. The enemy retreated in terror; and the name of Maes Garman still marks the scene of this bloodless victory.

After this the heresy died away, but the more innocent customs of the Druids continued, and the system of bards was carried on, setting apart the clergy, the men of wisdom, and the poets, by rites derived from ancient times. Be it observed, that a Christian priest was not necessarily of one of the Druidical or Bardic orders, although this was generally preferred. Almost all instructions were still oral, and, for convenience of memory, were drawn up in triads, or verses of three—a mystic number highly esteemed. Many of these convey a very deep philosophy. For instance, the three unsuitable judgments in any person whatsoever: The thinking himself wise—the thinking every other person unwise—the thinking all he likes becoming in him. Or the three requisites of poetry: An eye that can see Nature—a heart that can feel Nature—a resolution that dares to follow Nature. And the three objects of poetry: Increase of goodness—increase of understanding—increase of delight.

Such maxims were committed to the keeping of the Bards, who were admitted to their office after a severe probation and trying initiatory rites, among which the chief was, that they should paddle alone, in a little coracle, to a shoal at some distance from the coast of Caernarvonshire—a most perilous voyage, supposed to be emblematic both of the trials of Noah and of the troubles of life. Afterward the Bard wore sky-blue robes, and was universally honored, serving as the counsellor, the herald, and the minstrel of his patron. The domestic Bard and the chief of song had their office at the King’s court, with many curious perquisites, among which was a chessboard from the King. The fine for insulting the Bard was 6 cows and 120 pence; for slaying him, 126 cows. With so much general respect, and great powers of extemporizing, the Bards were well able to sway the passions of the nation, and greatly contributed to keep up the fiery spirit of independence which the Cymry cherished in their mountains.

When the Saxons began to embrace Christianity, and Augustine came on his mission from Rome, the Welsh clergy, who had made no attempts at converting their enemies, looked on him with no friendly eyes. He brought claims, sanctioned by Gregory the Great, to an authority over them inconsistent with that of the Archbishop of Caerleon; and the period for observing Easter was, with them, derived from the East, and differed by some weeks from that ordained by the Roman Church. An old hermit advised the British clergy, who went to meet Augustine, to try him by the test of humility, and according as he should rise to greet them, or remain seated, to listen to his proposals favorably or otherwise. Unfortunately, Augustine retained his seat: they rejected his plans of union; and he told them that, because they would not preach to the Angles the way of life, they would surely at their hands suffer death.

Shortly after, the heathen king, Ethelfrith, attacked Brocmail, the Welsh prince of Powys, who brought to the field 1,200 monks of Bangor to pray for his success. The heathens fell at once on the priests, and, before they could be protected, slew all except fifty; and this, though the Welsh gained the victory, was regarded by the Saxon Church as a judgment, and by the Welsh, unhappily, as a consequence of Augustine’s throat. The hatred became more bitter than ever, and the Welsh would not even enter the same church with the Saxons, nor eat of a meal of which they had partaken.

Cadwallader, the last of the Pendragons, was a terrible enemy to the kings of Mercia and Northumbria, and with him the Cymry consider that their glory ended. Looking on themselves for generation after generation as the lawful owners of the soil, and on the Saxons as robbers, they showed no mercy in their forays, and inflicted frightful cruelties on their neighbors on the Marches. Offa’s curious dyke, still existing in Shropshire, was a bulwark raised in the hope of confining them within their own bounds:

“That Offa (when he saw his countries go to wrack), From bick’ring with his folk, to keep the Britons back, Cast up that mightly mound of eighty miles in length, Athwart from sea to sea.”

The Danish invasions, by ruining the Saxons, favored the Welsh; and contemporary with Alfred lived Roderic Mawr, or the Great, who had his domains in so peaceful a state, that Alfred turned thither for aid in his revival of learning, and invited thence to his court his bosom friend Asser, the excellent monk and bard. Roderic divided his dominions—Aberfraw, or North Wales, Dinasvawr, or South Wales, and Powys, or Shropshire—between his three sons; but they became united again under his grandson, Howell Dha, the lawgiver of Wales.

Actuated perhaps by the example of Alfred, Howell collected his clergy and bards at his hunting-lodge at Tenby, a palace built of peeled rods, and there, after fasting and praying for inspiration, the collective wisdom of the kingdom compiled a body of laws, which the King afterward carried in person to Rome to receive the confirmation of the Pope; and much edified must the Romans have been if they chanced to glance over the code, since, besides many wise and good laws, it regulated the minute etiquettes and perquisites of the royal household. If any one should insult the King, the fine was to be, among other valuables, a golden dish as broad as the royal face, and as thick as the nail of a husbandman who has been a husbandman, seven years. Each officer’s distance from the royal fire was regulated, and even the precedence of each officer’s horse in the stable—proving plainly the old saying, that the poorer and more fiery is a nation, the more precise is their point of honor. It seems to have been in his time, as a more enlightened prince, that the Welsh conformed their time of keeping Easter to that of the rest of the Western Church. But Howell was no longer independent of the English: he had begun to pay a yearly tribute of dogs, horses, and hawks, to Ethelstane, and the disputes that followed his death brought the Welsh so much lower, that Edgar the Peaceable easily exacted his toll of wolves’ heads; and Howell of North Wales was one of the eight royal oarsmen who rowed the Emperor of Britain to the Minster of St. John, on the river Dee.

The Welsh had destroyed all their wolves before the close of Dunstan’s regency, and Ethelred the Unready not being likely to obtain much respect, the tribute was discontinued, until the marauding Danes again exacted it under another form and title of “Tribute of the Black Army.”

Fierce quarrels of their own prevented the Welsh from often taking advantage of the disturbances of England. As in Ireland, the right of gavelkind was recognized; yet primogeniture was also so far regarded as to make both claims uncertain; and the three divisions of Wales were constantly being first partitioned, and then united, by some prince who ruled by the right of the strongest, till dethroned by another, who, to prove his right of birth, carried half his genealogy in his patronymic.

Thus Llewellyn ap Sithfylht, under whom “the earth brought forth double, the cattle increased in great number, and there was neither beggar nor poor man from the South to the North Sea,” was slain in battle, in 1021, by Howell ap Edwin ap Eneon ap Owayn ap Howell Dha, who reigned over South Wales till the son of Llewellyn, or, rather, Gryflyth ap Llewellyn ap Sithfylht ap, &c., coming to age, dispossessed him, and gained all Wales. It was this Gryffyth who received and sheltered Fleance, the son of Banquo, when flying from Macbeth, and gave him in marriage his daughter Nesta, who became the mother of Walter, the ancestor of the line of kings shadowed in Macbeth’s mirror.

In the early part of Gryffyth’s reign, the Welsh flourished greatly. Earl Godwin, in his banishment, made friends with him, and, favored by Saxon treachery, he overran Herefordshire, and pillaged the cathedral. But, after Godwin’s death, Harold, as Earl of Wessex, deemed it time to repress these inroads, and, training his men to habits of diet and methods of warfare that rendered them as light and dexterous as the wild mountaineers, he pursued them into their own country, and burnt the palace and ships at Rhuddlan, while Gryffyth was forced to take refuge in one of his vessels.

Harold set up a pillar with the inscription, “Here Harold conquered;” and the Welsh gave hostages, and promised to pay tribute, while Harold erected a hunting-seat in Monmouthshire, and made an ordinance that any Welshman seen bearing weapons beyond Offa’s dyke should lose his right hand. Welshwomen might marry Englishmen, but none of the highborn Cymry might aspire to wed an Englishwoman. Hating the prince under whom they had come to so much disgrace, the Welsh themselves captured poor Gryffyth, and sent his head, his hands, and the beak of his ship, to Edward the Confessor, from whom they accepted the appointment of three of their native princes to the three provinces.

Thus the strength of Wales was so far broken, that William the Conqueror had only to bring a force with him, under pretext of a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. David, to obtain the submission of the princes; and, in fact, the Cymry found the Norman nobles far more aggressive neighbors than the Angles had been since their first arrival in Britain.

The mark, or frontier, once the kingdom of Mercia, was now called the March of Wales, where the Norman knights began to effect settlements, by the right of the strongest, setting up their impregnable castles, round which the utmost efforts of the Welsh were lost. Martin de Tours was one of the first, and his glittering host of mail-clad men so overawed the inhabitants of Whitchurch that they readily submitted, and he quietly established himself in their bounds, treating them, as it appears, with more fairness and friendliness than was then usual. He was a great chess-player, and the sport descended from father to son, even among the peasantry of Whitchurch, who long after were most skilful in the game.

Hugh Lupus, the fierce old Earl of Chester, was likewise a Lord Marcher, and had, like the Bishop of Durham, the almost royal powers of a Count Palatine, because, dwelling on the frontier, it was necessary that the executive power should be prompt and absolute. Indeed, the Lords Marchers, as these border barons were called, lived necessarily in a state of warfare, which made it needful to entrust them with greater powers than their neighbors, around whom they formed a sort of cordon, to protect them from the forays of the half-savage Welsh.

Twenty-one baronies were formed in this manner along the March of Wales, which constantly travelled toward the west. Robert Fitzaymon, by an alliance with one Welsh chief, dispossessed another of Glamorgan, which he left to his daughter Amabel, the wife of Earl Robert of Gloucester; and Gilbert de Clare, commonly called Strongbow (the father of the Irish Conqueror), obtained a grant from Henry I. of Chepstow and Pembroke, but had to fight hard for the lands which had more lawful owners. In and out among these Lords Marchers, and making common cause with them, were settlements of Flemings. Flanders, that commercial state where cloth-weaving first flourished as a manufacture, had suffered greatly from the inundations of the sea, and the near connection subsisting between the native princes and the sons of the Conqueror had led to an intercourse, which ended in the weavers, who had lost their all, being invited by Henry I. to take up their abode in Pembrokeshire, where they carried on their trade while defending themselves against the Welsh, and thus first commenced the manufactures of England. Resolute in resistance, though not rash nor aggressive, and of industrious habits, they acted as a great protection to the English counties, and down even to the time of Charles I. they had a language of their own.

Owayn ap Gwynned, King of Aberfraw, or North Wales, had many wars with Henry II.; and, uniting with the bard king, Owayn Cyvelioc, of Powysland, did fearful damage to the English, which Henry attempted to revenge by an incursion into Merionethshire; but though he gained a battle at Ceiroc, he was forced to retreat through the inhospitable country, his troops harassed by the weather, and cut off by the Welsh, who swarmed on the mountains, so that his army arrived at Chester in a miserable state. He had many unfortunate hostages in his hands, the children of the noblest families, and on these he wreaked a cowardly vengeance, cutting off the noses and ears of the maidens, and putting out the eyes of the boys.

Well might Becket, in his banishment, exclaim, on hearing such tidings, “His wise men are become fools; England reels and stagers like a drunken man.”

“You will never subdue Wales, unless Heaven be against them,” said an old hermit to the King.

However, Henry had been carried by a frightened horse over a ford, of which the old prophecies declared that, when it should be crossed by a freckled king, the power of the Cymry should fall, and this superstition took away greatly from satisfaction in the victory. The Welsh princes were becoming habituated to the tribute, and in 1188, under pretext of preaching a Crusade, Archbishop Baldwin came into Wales, and asserted the long-disputed supremacy of Canterbury over the Welsh bishopries. He was attended by Gerald Barry, or Giraldus Cambrensis, a half-Norman half-Welsh ecclesiastic, who was one of the chief historians of the period, and had the ungracious office of tutor to Prince John.

When Owayn ap Gwynned died, in 1169, the kingdom of Aberfraw, or North Wales, was reduced to the isle of Anglesea and the counties of Merioneth and Caernarvon, with parts of Denbigh and Cardigan. A great dispute broke out for the succession. Jorwarth, the oldest son, was set aside because he had a broken nose; and Davydd, the eldest son by a second wife, seized the inheritance, and slew all the brethren save one, named Madoc, who sailed away to the West in search of new regions. Several years after, he again made his appearance in Aberfraw, declaring that he had found a pleasant country, and was come to collect colonists, with whom, accordingly, he departed, and returned no more. Many have believed that his Western Land was no other than America, and on this supposition Drayton speaks of him, in the “Polyolbion,” as having reached the great continent “Ere the Iberian powers had found her long-sought bay, or any western ear had heard the sound of Florida.”

Southey has, in his poem, made Madoc combine with the Aztecs in the settlement of Mexico, but traces were said to be found of habits and countenances resembling those of the Welsh among the Indians of the Missouri; and, in our own days, the traveller Mr. Buxton was struck by finding the Indians of the Rocky Mountains weaving a fabric resembling the old Welsh blanket. If this be so, Christianity and civilization must have died out among Madoc’s descendants: but the story is one of the exciting riddles of history, such as the similar one of the early Norwegian discovery of America.





CAMEO XXXIII. THE ENGLISH JUSTINIAN. (1272-1292.)

  King of England.
   1272. Edward I.

  Kings of Scotland.
   1249. Alexander III.
   1285. Margaret.

  Kings of France.
   1270. Philippe III.
   1235. Philippe IV.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1273. Rodolph I.

  Popes.
   1271. Gregory X.
   1276. Innocent V.
   1277. John XXI.
   1277. Nicholas III.
   1281. Martin IV.
   1288. Nicholas IV.

Never was coronation attended by more outward splendor or more heartfelt joy than was that of Edward I. and Eleanor of Castile, when, fresh from the glory of their Crusade, they returned to their kingdom.

Edward was the restorer of peace after a lengthened civil strife; his prowess was a just subject of national pride, and the affection of his subjects was further excited by the perils he had encountered. Not only had he narrowly escaped the dagger of the Eastern assassin, but while at Bordeaux, during his return, while the royal pair were sitting on the same couch, a flash of lightning had passed between them, leaving them uninjured, but killing two attendants who stood behind them. At Châlons-sur-Marne he had likewise been placed in great danger by treachery. The Count de Châlons had invited him to a tournament, and he had accepted, contrary to the advice of the Pope, who warned him of evil designs; but he declared that no king ever refused such a challenge, and arrived at Châlons with a gallant following. The Pope’s suspicions were verified; the Count, after breaking a lance with the King, made a sudden, unchivalrous attack on him, throwing his arms round his body, and striving to hurl him from the saddle; but Edward sat firm as a rock, and, touching his horse with his spur, caused it to bound forward, dragging the Count to the ground, where he lay, encumbered with his heavy armor; and Edward, after harmlessly ringing on the steel with his sword, forced him to surrender to an archer, as one unworthy to be reckoned a knight. A fight had, in the meantime, taken place between the attendants on either side, and so many of the men of the French party were killed, that the fray was termed the Little Battle of Châlons.

Two years had elapsed since the death of King Henry, when, on the 18th of August, 1274, the city of London welcomed their gallant, crusading King. The rejoicings attested both his popularity and the prosperity which his government had restored, for each house along the streets was decked with silk and tapestry hangings, the aldermen showered handfuls of gold and silver from their windows, and the fountains flowed with white and red wine. The King rode along the streets, in the pride of manhood, accompanied by his beautiful and beloved Eleanor; by his brother Edmund and his young wife, Eveline of Lancaster; his sister Margaret and her husband, Alexander II., the excellent King of Scotland; the young Princess Eleanor, a girl of eleven, who alone survived of the children left in England, and her infant brother Alfonso, who had been born at Maine, and was looked on as heir to the throne. The Princess, Joan of Acre, was left with her grandmother, the Queen of Castile.

The two kings, the princes, and nobles, on arriving at Westminster Abbey, released their gallant steeds to run loose among the people, a free gift to whoever should be able to catch them; for Edward had learnt from his kindly father that the poor should have a plenteous share in all his festivities.

There stood the West Minster on the bank of the Thames, rising amid green fields and trees, at a considerable distance from the walled city, and only connected with it by here and there a convent or church. Still incomplete, the two fair towers showed the fresh creaminess of new stonework, their chiselings and mouldings as yet untouched by time, unsoiled by smoke, when Edward and his five hundred bold vassals sprang from their steeds before the gates.

Among the train came a captive. Gaston de Monçda, Count de Béarn, one of his Gascon vassals, had offended against him, and appealing to the suzerain, the King of France, had been by him delivered up to Edward’s justice, and was forced to ride in the gorgeous procession with a halter round his neck.

As soon as Archbishop Kilwardby had anointed and crowned the King and Queen, and the barons offered their homage, the unfortunate culprit came forward on his knees to implore pardon, and Edward graced his coronation by an act of clemency, restoring Gaston fully to his lands and honors, and winning him thus to be his friend forever.

The royal banquet was held in Westminster Hall, and far beyond it. Wooden buildings had been erected with openings at the top to let out the smoke, and here, for a whole fortnight, cooking and feasting went on without intermission. Every comer, of every degree, was made welcome, and enjoyed the cheer, the pageantries, and the religious ceremonies of the coronation. Three hundred and eighty head of cattle, four hundred and thirty sheep, four hundred and fifty swine, besides eighteen wild boars, and two hundred and seventy-eight flitches of bacon, with poultry to the number of 19,660, were only a part of the provisions consumed.

However, the country still felt the effects of the lawless reign of Henry III., and Edward’s first care was to set affairs on a more regular footing. He sent commissioners to inquire into the title-deeds by which all landed proprietors held their estates, and, wherever these were defective, exacted, a fee for freshly granting them. The inquisition might be expedient, considering the late condition of the nation, but the King’s own impoverished exchequer caused it to be carried on ungraciously, and great offence was given. When called on to prove his claims, the Earl Warrenne drew his sword, saying, “This is the instrument by which I hold my lands, and by the same I mean to defend them. Our forefathers, who came in with William, the Bastard, acquired their lands by their good swords. He did not conquer alone; they were helpers and sharers with him.” The stout Earl’s title was truly found amply sufficient!’

Not so was it with the Jews, who inhabited England in great numbers, and were found through purchase, usury, or mortgage, to have become possessors of various estates, which conferred on them the power of appearing on juries, of, in some cases, presenting to church benefices, and of the wardship of vassals. This was a serious grievance; and the King interfered by decreeing that, in every instance, the lands should be restored either to the original heirs on repayment of the original loan, or disposed of to other Christians on the same terms. The King was, by long custom of the realm, considered the absolute master of the life and property of every Jew in his dominions, so that he was thought to be only taking his own when he exacted sums from them, or forced them to pay him a yearly rate for permission to live in his country and to act as money-lenders. Edward thus believed himself to be making a sacrifice for the general good when he forbade the Jews ever to lend money on usury, and in compensation granted them permission to trade without paying toll; and he further took the best means he could discover for procuring the conversion of this people. The Friars Preachers were commanded to instruct them, and the royal bailiffs to compel their attendance on this teaching; every favor was shown to proselytes, and a hospital was built for the support of the poorer among them, and maintained by the poll-tax obtained from their race by the King. Should a Jew be converted, the King at once gave up his claim to his property, only stipulating that half should go to support this foundation. One young maiden, child of a wealthy Jew of London, on being converted, became a godchild of Edward’s eldest daughter, Eleanor, whose name she received; and she was shortly after married to the Count de la Marcho, the King’s cousin, and one of the noble line of Lusignan—a plain proof that in the royal family there was not the loathing for the Israelite race that existed in Spain.

The Jews were obliged to wear a distinctive mark on their dress—a yellow fold of cloth cut in the form of the two tables of the Law; and, thus distinguished, often became a mark for popular odium, which fastened every accusation upon them, from the secret murder of Christian children to the defacing of the King’s coin. There was, in fact, a great quantity of light money in circulation, and as halfpence and farthings were literally what their name declares—silver pennies cut into halves and quarters—it was easy for a thief to help himself to a portion of the edge. However, Edward called in these mutilated pieces, and issued a coinage of halfpence and farthings—that which raised the delusive hopes of the Welsh. The clipping became more evident than ever, and the result was an order, that all suspected of the felony should be arrested on the same day. Jews, as well as Christians were seized; the possession of the mutilated coin was taken as a proof of guilt; and in 1279, after a trial that occupied some months, and in which popular prejudice would doubtless make the case strong against the Jews, two hundred and eighty persons, male and female, were hanged on the same day; after which a pardon was proclaimed.

The English nation continued to hold the Jews in detestation, which was regarded as a religious duty, and, year after year, petitioned the King to drive them out of his dominions; but his patience was sustained by continual gifts from the persecuted race until the year 1287, when, for some unknown offence, he threw into prison the whole of them in his dominions, up to the number of 15,000; and though their release was purchased by a gift of £12,000, in 1290, their sentence of banishment was pronounced. He permitted them to carry away their property with them, and sent his officers to protect them from injury or insult in their embarkation; but in some instances the sailors, who hated their freight, threw them overboard, and seized their treasures. These murders, when proved, were punished with death; but it was hard to gain justice for a Jew against a Christian: and the edict of banishment was regarded by the nation as such a favor, that the King was rewarded by a grant of a tenth from the clergy and a fifteenth from the laity.

The merchants had earlier given him a large subsidy as a return for the treaty which he had made in their favor with Flanders, which derived its wool from England. Edward was very anxious to promote manufactures here, and had striven to do so by forbidding the importation of foreign cloth; but this not succeeding, the mutual traffic was placed on a friendly footing. There was violent jealousy of foreigners among the English, and it was only in Edward’s time that merchants of other countries were allowed to settle in England, and then only under heavy restrictions.

Edward I. was the sovereign who, more than any other since Alfred, contributed to bring the internal condition of England into a state of security for life and limb. Robberies and murders had become frightfully common; so much so, that the Statute of Winton, in 1285, enacted that no ditch, bush, or tree, capable of hiding a man, should be left within two hundred feet of any highway. If anything like this had been previously in force, it was no wonder that Davydd of Wales objected to having a road made through his forest.

In all walled towns the gates were to be kept shut from sunset to sunrise, and any stranger found at large after dark was liable to be seized by the watch; nor could he find lodging at night unless his host would be his surety. Thieves seem to have gone about in bands, so that their capture was a matter of danger and difficulty, and therefore, on the alarm of a felony, every man was to issue forth with armor according to his degree, and raise the hue and cry from town to town till the criminal was seized and delivered to the sheriff. The whole hundred was answerable for his capture—a remnant of the old Saxon law, and a most wise regulation, since it rendered justice the business of every man, and also accustomed the peasantry to the use of arms, the great cause of the English victories. Judges were first appointed to go on circuit in the year 1285, when they were sent into every shire two or three times a year to hold a general jail delivery. But Edward had to form his judges as well as his constitution, for, in 1289, he discovered that the whole bench were in the habit of receiving bribes, from the Grand Justiciary downward: whereupon he threw them all into the Tower, banished the chief offenders, degraded and fined the rest, and caused future judges to be sworn to take neither gift nor fee, only to accept as much as a breakfast, provided there was no excess.

Still, the jurymen, [Footnote: On Thomas á Becket’s last journey to Canterbury, Raoul de Broc’s followers had cut off the tails of his pack-horses. It was a vulgar reproach to the men of Kent that the outrage had been punished by the growth of the same appendage on the whole of the inhabitants of the county; and, whereas the English populace applied the accusation to the Kentishmen, foreigners extended it to the whole nation when in a humor for insult and abuse, such as that of this unhappy prince.] who were as much witnesses as what we now call jurors, were often liable to be beaten and maltreated in revenge, and officers, called “justices of trailebaston” were sent to search out the like offences, which they did with success and good-will; and in, order that speedy justice might be done in cases of minor importance, local magistrates were appointed, the commencement of our present justices of the peace. They were at first chosen by the votes of the freeholders, but in Edward III.‘s time began to be nominated by the Crown.

Robert Burnel, the Chancellor, Bishop of Bath and Wells, probably had a great share in these enactments. He was a better Chancellor than Bishop, but he left to his see the beautiful episcopal palace still in existence at Wells. He also built a splendid castle at his native place, Acton Burnel, where some of the early Parliaments were held.

These Parliaments were only summoned by Edward I. when in great want of money, for in general he raised the needful sums by gifts and talliages, and only in cases of unusual pressure did he call on his subjects for further aid. Four knights were chosen from each shire, and two burgesses [Footnote: For a lively picture of a trial of the thirteenth century, see Sir F. Palgrave’s “Merchant and Friar.”] from every town, of consequence; and, besides, bishops and the barons, who had their seats by their rank; but the two houses were not always divided:—except, indeed, that sometimes the Northern representatives met at York, the Southern at Northampton, and the county palatine of Durham had a little parliament to itself. Serving in Parliament was expensive and unpopular, and the sheriff of the county had not only to preside over the election of the member, but to send him safe to the place of meeting; and often the Commons broke up as soon as they had granted the required sum, leaving the Lords to deliberate on the laws, or to bring grievances before the King, such things being quite beyond their reach.

It was a time of great prosperity to the whole country, and such internal tranquillity had scarcely prevailed since the time of Henry II., when the difference between Saxon and Norman was far less smoothed down than at present, and the feudal system weighed far more heavily.

Splendid castles were built, the King setting the example, and making more arrangements for comfort in the interior than had yet been ventured upon; and sacred architecture came to the highest perfection it has ever attained.

Wherever we find a portion of our cathedrals with deep mouldings in massive walls, slender columns of darker marble standing detached from freestone piers, sharply-pointed arches, capitals of rich foliage folding over the hollow formed by their curve, and windows either narrow lancet, or with the flowing lines of flamboyant tracery, there we are certain to hear that this part was added in the thirteenth century.

Edward gave liberally to the Church, especially to the order of Dominican, or Preaching Friars; but it was found that in some instances the clergy had worked on men’s consciences to obtain from them the bequest of lands to the injury of their heirs, and a statute was therefore passed to prevent such legacies from being valid unless they received the sanction of the Crown. This was called the Statute of Mortmain, or Dead Hands, because the framers of the act considered the hands of the monastic orders as dead and unprofitable.

Even the world itself could hardly award the meed of unprofitable to the studies of Roger Bacon, a native of Ilchester, born in 1214, who, after studying at Oxford and at Paris, became a member of the Franciscan, or Minorite Friars, and settled again at Oxford, where he pursued his studies under the patronage of Bishop Robert Grostête. He made himself a perfect master of Greek in order to understand Aristotle in the original, and working on by himself he proceeded far beyond any chemist of his time in discoveries in natural philosophy. Grostête and the more enlightened men of the university provided him with means to carry on his experiments, and, in twenty years he had expended no less than £2,000: but not without mighty results; for he ascertained the true length of the solar year, made many useful discoveries in chemistry and medicine, and anticipated many of the modern uses of glass, learning the powers of convex and concave lenses for the telescope, microscope, burning-glasses, and the camera obscura.

Above all, he was the inventor of gunpowder, the compound which was destined to change the whole character of warfare and the destiny of nations. But he was too much in advance of his time to be understood, and the friars of his order, becoming terrified by his experiments, decided that he was a magician, and after the death of his friend Grostête, kept him in close confinement, and only permitted one copy of his works to pass out of the monastery, and this, which was sent to the Pope, Clement IV., procured his liberation. A few years after, the General of the Franciscans, again taking fright, imprisoned him once more, and this lasted eleven or twelve years; but Pope Nicholas IV. again released him, and neither age nor imprisonment could break down his energy; he continued steadily to pursue his discoveries, and add a further polish to his various works, till his death, in 1292. Little as he was appreciated, he left a strong impression on the popular mind.

Tradition declares that he constructed a huge head of brass, which uttered the words, “Time is! Time was! Time will be!” and has connected this with Brazen-Nose College, which, not having been founded till one hundred years after, must in that case, as Fuller says, make time to be again.

He is a hero of the popular chap-books of old times, where he and his associate, Friar Bungay, are represented as playing tricks on his servant Miles, and as summoning the spirits of Julius Caesar and Hercules for the edification of the kings of France and England, from whom, however, he would accept no reward. Legends vary between his being flown away with bodily by demons, and his making a grand repentance, when he confessed that knowledge had been a heavy burden, that kept down good thoughts, burnt his books, parted with his goods, and caused himself to be walled up in a cell in the church and fed through a hole, and finally dug his grave with his own nails! Thus, probably, has ignorant tradition perverted the sense that coming death would surely bring, that earthly knowledge is but vanity.

Still worse has fared his friend, Michael Scott of Balwirie, called by the learned the Mathematician, by the unlearned, the Wizard. After the usual course of university learning at Oxford and Paris, he went to Italy, where he gained the patronage of the Emperor Friedrich II. He was learned in Greek and in Arabic, and an excellent mathematician, but he bewildered himself with alchemy and astrology; and, though he died unmolested in his own country, in 1290 his fame remained in no good odor. Dante describes him among those whose faces were turned backward, because they had refused to turn the right way:

  “Michele Scotto fu, che veramente
  De le magiche frode seppe il gioco.”
 

In Scotland marvellous tales were current of him, and his own clansman, Sir Walter, in his lay, has spread the mysterious tale of the Wizard and his mighty book far and wide.

It was a period of very considerable learning among the studious among the clergy in all countries, and every art of peace was making rapid progress in England, under the fostering care of the King and Queen. No sovereign was more respected in Europe than Edward; his contemporary, Dante, cites him as an instance of a gallant son of a feeble parent: and he was often called on as the arbiter of disputes, as when the kings of Arragon and France defied each other to a wager of battle, to take place in his dominions in Southern France, which combat, however, never took place. He was a most faithful and affectionate husband and indulgent father, and the household rolls afford evidences of the kindly intercourse between him and his numerous daughters, judging by the interchange of gifts between them. Eleanor, the eldest, who as princess could only give a gold ring, when Duchesse de Bar brought as a Christmas-gift a leathern dressing-case, containing a comb, a mirror silver-gilt, and a silver bodkin, so much valued by the King that he kept them with him as long as he lived.

Joan of Acre, a wilful, lively girl, was wedded when very young to her father’s turbulent friend, Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester; Margaret was married, at fifteen, to the Duke of Brabant; and Mary was devoted to the cloister. She became a nun of Fontevraud at the priory Ambresbury, in accordance with the exhortations of the clergy to her parents; but there was not much vocation to the cloister in her disposition, and she was as often present at court pageants as her secular sisters. The Abbess of Fontevraud would fain have had the princess among her own nuns, but Mary resisted, and remained in the branch establishment, probably by exerting her influence over her father, who seems seldom to have refused anything to his children.

Stern in executing his duty, gentle to the distressed, most devout in religious exercises, pure in life, true to his word, a wise lawgiver, and steady in putting down vice, Edward seemed to be well deserving of the honor of being the nephew of St. Louis, and to be walking in his footsteps, but with greater force of character and good sense. The Holy Land was still the object of his thoughts, and he had serious intentions of attempting to rescue it, with forces now more complete and better trained than those which he had drawn together in his younger days. His views of this kind were strengthened by a serious illness, and he announced his determination to take the Cross.

But in the twentieth year of Edward’s reign came his great temptation. Ambition was the latent fault of his character, and a decision was brought before him that placed a flattering prize within his grasp. He yielded, and seized the prey; injustice, violence, anger, and cruelty followed, promises were violated, his subjects oppressed, his honor forfeited, and his name stained. From the time that Edward I. gave way to the lust of conquest, his history is one of painful deterioration.

It was unfortunate for him that, at the very time that the lure was held out to him, he was deprived of the gentle wife whose influence had always turned him to the better course. Eleanor of Castile was on her way to join him on his first expedition to the Scottish border, when she fell sick at Grantham, in Lincolnshire; and though he travelled day and night to see her, she died before his arrival, on the 29th of November, 1292. In overwhelming grief Edward accompanied her funeral to Westminster, a journey of thirteen days. Each evening the bier rested in the market-place of the town, where the procession halted, till the clergy came to convey it with solemn chantings to the chief church, where it was placed before the high altar. At each of these resting-places Edward raised a richly-carved market cross in memory of his queen; but, of the whole thirteen, Northampton and Waltham are the only towns that have retained these beautiful monuments to the gracious Eleanor, one of the best-beloved names of our English history.





CAMEO XXXIV. THE HAMMER OF THE SCOTS. (1292-1305.)

  King of England.
   1272. Edward I.

  King of Scotland.
   1292. John Balliol.

  King of France.
   1285. Philippe IV.

  Emperors of Germany.
   1292. Adolph.
   1298. Albert I.

  Popes.
   1287. Nicholas IV.
   1291. Boniface VIII.
   1294. Celestine V.
   1303. Benedict XI.

The gallant line of Scottish kings descended from “the gracious Duncan” suddenly decayed and dwindled away in the latter part of the thirteenth century. They had generally been on friendly terms with the English, to whom Malcolm Ceanmore and Edgar both owed their crown; they had usually married ladies of English birth; and holding the earldom of Huntingdon, the county of Cumberland, and the three Lothians, under the English crown, they stood in nearly the same relation to our Anglo-Norman sovereigns as did these to the kings of France. If France were esteemed a more polished country, and her language and manners were adopted by the Plantagenet kings, who were French nobles as well as independent sovereigns of the ruder Saxons, so, again, England was the model of courtesy and refinement to the earlier Scottish kings, who, in the right of inheritance from St. David’s queen, Earl Waltheof’s heiress, were barons of the civilized court of England, where they learnt modes of taming their own savage Highland and island domains.

Thus, with few exceptions, the terms of alliance were well understood, and many of the Cumbrian barons were liegemen to both the English and Scottish kings. Scotland was in a flourishing and fast-improving condition, and there was no mutual enmity or jealousy between the two nations.

Alexander III. was the husband of Margaret, the eldest sister of Edward I., and frequently was present at the pageants of the English court. He was a brave and beloved monarch, and his wife was much honored and loved in Scotland; but, while still a young man, a succession of misfortunes befell him. His queen died in 1275, and his only son a year or two after; his only other child, Margaret, who had been married to Eric, Prince of Norway, likewise died, leaving an infant daughter named Margaret.

Finding himself left childless, Alexander contracted a second marriage with Yolande, daughter of the Count de Dreux; and a splendid bridal took place at Jedburgh, with every kind of amusements, especially mumming and masquing. In the midst, some reckless reveller glided in arrayed in ghastly vestments, so as to personate death, and after making fearful gestures, vanished away, leaving an impression of terror among the guests that they did not quickly shake off—the jest was too earnest.

Less than a year subsequently, Alexander gave a great feast to his nobles at Edinburgh, on the 15th of March, 1286. It was a most unsuitable day for banquetting, for it was Lent; and, moreover, popular imagination, always trying to guess the times and seasons only known to the Most High, had fixed on tins as destined to be the Last Day.

But the Scottish nobles feasted and revelled, mocking at the delusion of the populace, till, when at a late hour they broke up, the night was discovered to be intensely dark and stormy. King Alexander was, however, bent on joining his queen, who was at Kinghorn—perhaps he had promised to come to calm her alarms—and all the objections urged by his servants could not deter him. He bade one of his servants remain at home, since he seemed to fear the storm. “No, my lord,” said the man, “it would ill become me to refuse to die for your father’s son.”

At Inverkeithing the storm became more violent, and again the royal followers remonstrated; but the King laughed at them, and only desired to have two runners to show him the way, when they might all remain in shelter.

He was thought to have been “fey”—namely, in high spirits—recklessly hastening to a violent death; for as he rode along the crags close above Kinghorn, his horse suddenly stumbled, and he was thrown over its head to the bottom of a frightful precipice, where he lay dead. The spot is still called the King’s Crag.

Truly it was the last day of Scotland’s peace and prosperity. Thomas of Ereildoune, called the Rymour, who was believed to possess second sight, had declared that on the 16th of March the greatest wind should blow before noon that Scotland had ever known. The morning, however, rose fair and calm, and he was reproached for his prediction. “Noon is not yet gone!” he answered; and ere long came a messenger to the gate, with tidings that the King was killed. “Gone is the wind that shall blow to the great calamity and trouble of all Scotland,” said Thomas the Rymour—a saying that needed no powers of prophecy, when the only remaining scion of the royal line was a girl of two years old, the child of a foreign prince, himself only eighteen years of age.

The oldest poem in the Scottish tongue that has been preserved is a lament over the last son of St. David.

  “When Alysander, our king, was dead,
  That Scotland led in love and lee,
  Away was sons of ale and bread,
  Of wine and wax, of game and glee;
  Our gold was changed into lead.
  Christ, born in to virginity,
  Succour Scotland, and remede
  That stead is in perplexity.”
 

The perplexity began at once, for the realm of Scotland had never yet descended to the “spindle,” and the rights of the little “Maid of Norway” were contested by her cousins, Robert Bruce and John Balliol, two of the Cumbrian barons, half-Scottish and half-English, who, though their claims were only through females, thought themselves fitter to rule than the infant Margaret.

Young Eric of Norway sent to entreat counsel from Edward of England, and thus first kindled his hopes of uniting the whole island under his sway. “Now,” he said, “the time is come when Scotland and her petty kings shall be reduced under my power.” The Scottish nobles came at the same time to request his decision, which was readily given in favor of the little heiress, whom he further proposed to betroth to his only son, Edward of Caernarvon; and as the children were first cousins once removed, he sent to Rome for a dispensation, while Margaret sailed from Norway to be placed in his keeping. Thus would the young Prince have peaceably succeeded to the whole British dominions; but the will of Heaven was otherwise, and three hundred years of war were to elapse before the crowns were placed on the same brow.

The stormy passage from Norway was injurious to the tender frame of the little Queen: she was landed in the Orkney Isles, in the hope of saving her life, but in vain; she died, after having scarcely touched her dominions, happy in being spared so wild a kingdom and so helpless a husband as were awaiting her.

Twelve claimants for the vacant throne at once arose, all so distant that it was a nice matter to weigh their several rights, since the very nearest were descendants of Henry, son of St. David, five generations back.

The Scots agreed to refer the question to the arbitration of one hitherto so noted for wisdom and justice as Edward I. They little knew that their realm was the very temptation that was most liable to draw him aside from the strict probity he had hitherto observed.

He called on the competitors and the states of Scotland to meet him at Norham Castle on the 10th of May, 1291, and the conference was opened by his justiciary, Robert Brabazon, who, in a speech of some length, called on the assembly to begin by owning the King as Lord Paramount of Scotland.

It had never been fully understood for how much of their domains the Scottish kings did homage to the English, and the more prudent princes had avoided opening the question, so that there might honestly be two opinions on the subject. Still Edward was acting as the King of France would have done had he claimed to be Paramount of England, because Edward paid homage for Gascony, and he ought to have known that he was taking an ungenerous advantage of the kingless state of his neighbors.

They made answer that they were incapable of making such an acknowledgment; but Edward answered, “Tell them that by the holy St. Edward, whose crown I wear, I will either have my rights recognized, or die in the vindication of them.”

He gave them three weeks to consider his challenge, but in the meantime issued writs for assembling his army; and thus left the more quietly-disposed to expect an invasion, without any leader to oppose it; while each of the twelve claimants could not but conceive the hope of being raised to the throne, if he would consent to make the required acknowledgment.

Accordingly, they all yielded; and when the next meeting took place at Hollywell Haugh, a green plain close to “Norham’s castled height,” the whole body owned Edward as their feudal superior; after which the kingdom of Scotland was delivered over to him, and the great seal placed in the joint keeping of the Scottish and English chancellors.

In the following year, on the 17th of November, the final decision was made. Nine of the claimants had such frivolous claims, that no attention was paid to them, and the only ones worth consideration were those derived from David, Earl of Huntingdon, the crusading comrade of Coeur de Lion, and son of Henry, son of St. David. This Earl had left three daughters, Margaret, Isabel, and Ada. Margaret had married Allan of Galloway, and John Balliol was the son of her only daughter Devorgoil. Isabel married Robert Bruce, and her son, Robert, Earl of Carrick, was the claimant; and Ada had left a grandson, Florence Hastings, Earl of Holland.

A baron leaving daughters alone would divide his heritage equally among them, and this was what Hastings desired; but Scotland was pronounced indivisible, and he retired from the field. Bruce contended that, as son of one sister, he was nearer the throne than the grandson of the other, although the elder; but this was completely untenable, and Balliol, having been adjudged the rightful heir, was declared King of Scotland, was crowned, and paid homage to Edward.

He soon found that the fealty he had sworn was not, as he had hoped, to be a mere dead letter, as with the former kings. Edward used to the utmost the suzerain’s privilege of hearing appeals from the vassal-prince—a practice never put in force by his predecessors, and excessively galling to the new Scottish King, who found himself fettered in all his measures, and degraded in the eyes of his rude and savage subjects, who regarded him as having given away the honor of their crown. Whenever there was an appeal, he was cited to appear in person at the English court, and was treated, in fact, like a mere feudal noble, instead of the King of a brave and ancient kingdom. Indeed, the Scots called him the “toom tabard,” or empty herald’s coat—a name not unsuited to such a king of vain show.

By and by a war broke out between England and France, and Edward sent summonses to the Scottish barons to attend him with their vassals. It was no concern of theirs, and many flatly refused to come, whereupon he declared them to have forfeited their fiefs, and thus pushed his interference beyond their endurance. John Balliol, their unfortunate King, who was personally attached to Edward, and at the same time greatly in dread of his fierce vassals, was utterly confused and distressed; and finding no help in him, his subjects seized him, placed him in a fortress, under the keeping of a council of twelve, and in his name declared war against England.

Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, to whom his father’s claims had descended, remained faithful to King Edward, who, to punish the rebellion of the Scots, collected an army of 30,000 foot and 4,000 horse, and, with the sacred standards of Durham at their head, marched them into Scotland. Berwick, then a considerable merchant-town, closed her gates against him, and further provoked him by the plunder of some English merchant-ships. He offered terms of surrender, but these were refused; and he led his men to the assault of the dyke, that was the only defence of the town. He was the first to leap the dyke on his horse Bayard, and the place was won after a brave resistance, sufficient to arouse the passions of the soldiery, who made a most shocking massacre, without respect to age or sex.

The report of these horrors so shocked John Balliol, that he sent to renounce his allegiance to Edward, and to defy his power. “Felon and fool!” cried Edward, “if he will not come to us, we must go to him.”

So frightful ravages were carried on by the English on one side and the Scots on the other, till a battle took place at Dunbar, which so utterly ruined the Scots, that they were forced to make submission, and Balliol sued for peace. But Edward would not treat with him as a king, and only sent Anthony Beck, the Bishop of Durham, to meet him at Brechin. He was forced to appear, and was declared a rebel, stripped of his crown and robes, and made to stand with a white rod in his hand, confessing that he had acted rebelliously, and that Edward had justly invaded his realm. After this humiliation, he resigned all his rights to Scotland, declaring himself worn out with the malice and fraud of the nation, which was probably quite true. He was sent at first to the Tower, but afterward was released, lived peaceably on his estates in France, and founded the college at Oxford that bears his name and arms.

The misfortunes endured by this puppet did not deter the Earl of Carrick from aspiring to his seat; but Edward harshly answered, “Have I nothing to do but to conquer kingdoms for you?” and sent him away with his eldest son, a third Robert Bruce, to pacify their own territories of Carrick and Annandale. Edward did nothing without law enough to make him believe himself in the right, and poor Balliol’s forfeiture gave him, as he imagined, the power to assume Scotland as a fief of his own. He caused himself to be acknowledged as King of Scotland, destroyed the old Scottish charters, and transported to Westminster the Scottish crown and sceptre, together with the stone from Scone Abbey, on which, from time immemorial, the Kings of Scotland had been placed when crowned and anointed. All the castles were delivered up into his hands, and every noble in his dominions gave him the oath of allegiance, excepting one, William, Lord Douglas, who steadily refused, and was therefore carried off a prisoner to England, where he remained to the day of his death.

Edward did not come in as a severe or cruel conqueror; he gave privileges to the Scottish clergy, and re-instated the families of the barons killed in the war. Doubtless he hoped to do great good to the wild population, and bring them into the same order as the English; but the flaw in his title made this impossible; the Scots regarded his soldiery as their enemies and oppressors, and though the nobles had given in a self-interested adhesion to the new government, they abhorred it all the time, and the mutual hatred between the English garrisons and Scottish inhabitants led to outrages in which neither party was free from blame.

As Hereward the Saxon had been stirred up against the Norman invaders, so a champion arose who kept alive the memory of Scottish independence.

William Wallace was the younger son of Sir Malcolm Wallace of Ellerslie, near Paisley, one of the lesser gentry, not sufficiently high in rank to be required to take oaths to the English King. William was a youth of unusual stature, noble countenance, and great personal strength and skill in the use of arms, and he grew up with a violent hatred to the English usurpers, which various circumstances combined to foster. While very young, he had been fishing in the river Irvine, attended by a boy who carried his basket, when some English soldiers, belonging to the garrison of Ayr meeting him, insisted on seizing his trout. A fray took place, and Wallace killed the foremost Englishman with a blow from the butt of his fishing-rod, took his sword, and put the rest to flight.

This obliged him to fly to the hills. But in those lawless times such adventures soon blew over, and, a year or two after, he was walking in the market-place of Lanark, dressed in green, and with, a dagger by his side, when an Englishman, coming up, insulted him on account of his gay attire, and his passionate temper, thus inflamed, led to a fray, in which the Englishman was killed. He then fled to the house where he was lodging, and while the sheriff and his force were endeavoring to break in, the lady of the house contrived his escape by a back way to a rocky glen called the Crags, where he hid himself in a cave. The disappointed sheriff wreaked his vengeance on the unfortunate lady, slew her, and burnt the house.

Thenceforth Wallace was an outlaw, and the most implacable foe to the English. In his wild retreat he quickly gathered round him other men ill-used, or discontented, or patriotic, or lovers of the wild life which he led, and at their head he not only cut off the parties sent to seize him, but watched his opportunity for marauding on the English or their allies. There is a horrible story that the English governor of Ayr, treacherously inviting the Scottish gentry to a feast, hung them all as they entered, and that Wallace revenged the slaughter with equal cruelty by burning the English alive in their sleep in the very buildings where the murder took place, the Barns of Ayr, as they were called. The history is unauthenticated, but it is believed in the neighborhood of Ayr, and has been handed down by Wallace’s Homer, Blind Harry, whose poem on the exploits of the Knight of Ellerslie was published sixty years from this time.

The fame of Wallace’s prowess swelled his party, and many knights and nobles began to join him. He raised his banner in the name of King John of Scotland, and, with the help of another outlaw chief, Sir William Douglas, pounced on the English justiciary, Ormesby, while holding his court at Scone, put him to flight, and seized a large booty and many prisoners.

His forays were the more successful because the King was absent in England, and the Chancellor, Hugh Cressingham, was not well agreed with the lay-governor, John de Warrenne, Earl of Surrey. Many of the higher nobility took his side, among them the younger Robert Bruce; but as the English force began to be marshalled against him, they took flight for their estates, and returned to the stronger party. It may have been that they found that Wallace was not a suitable chief for more than a mere partisan camp; brave as he was, he could not keep men of higher rank in obedience. He lived by plunder, and horrible atrocities were constantly committed by his men, especially against such English clergy as had received Scottish preferment. Whenever one of these fell into their hands, his sacred character could not save him; his arms were tied behind his back, and he was thrown from a high bridge into a river, while the merciless Scots derided his agony.

Warrene and Cressingham drew together a mighty force, and marched to the relief of Stirling, which Wallace had threatened. The Scots had come together to the number of 40,000, but they had only 180 horse; and Warrenne had 50,000 foot and 1,000 horse. The Scots were, however, in a far more favorable position, encamped on the higher ground on the bank of the river Forth; and Warrenne, wishing to avoid a battle, sent two friars to propose terms. “Return to your friends,” said Wallace; “tell them we came with no peaceful intent, but determined to avenge ourselves and set our country free. Let them come and attack us; we are ready to meet them beard to beard.”

On hearing this answer, the English shouted to be led against the bold rebel; but the more prudent leaders thought it folly to attempt to cross the bridge, exposed as it, was to the enemy, but that a chosen body should cross a ford, attack them in the flank, and clear the way. Cressingham thought this policy timid. “Why,” said he to Warrenne, “should we protract the war, and spend the King’s money? Let us pass on, and do our duty!”

Warrenne weakly gave way, and the English troops began to cross the bridge, the Scots retaining their post on the high ground until Sir Marmaduke Twenge, an English knight, impetuously spurred up the hill, when about half the army had crossed, and charged the Scottish ranks. In the meantime, Wallace had sent a chosen force to march down the side of the hill and cut off the troops who had crossed from the foot of the bridge, and he himself, rushing down on the advancing horsemen, entirely, broke them, and made a fearful slaughter of all on that side of the river, seizing on the bridge, so that there was no escape. One of the knights proposed to swim their horses across the river. “What!” said Sir Marmaduke Twenge, “drown myself, when I can cut my way through the midst of them by the bridge? Never let such foul slander fall on me!” He then set spurs to his horse, and, with his nephew and armor-bearer, forced his way back to his friends, across the bridge, by weight of man and horse, through the far more slightly-armed Scots. Warrenne was obliged to march off, with, the loss of half his army, and of Cressingham, whose corpse was found lying on the plain, and was barbarously, mangled by the Scots. They cut the skin into pieces, and used it for saddle-girths; even Wallace himself being said to have had a sword-belt made of it.

This decisive victory threw the greater part of Scotland into Wallace’s hands; and though most of the great earls still held with the English, the towns and castles were given up to him, and the mass of the people was with him. He plundered without mercy the lands of such as would not join him, and pushed his forays into England, where he frightfully ravaged Cumberland and Northumberland; and from St. Luke’s to St. Martin’s-day all was terror and dismay, not a priest remaining between Newcastle and Carlisle to say mass. At last the winter drove him back, and on his return he went to Hexham, a rich convent, which had been plundered on the advance, but to which three of the monks had just returned, hoping the danger was over. Seeing the enemy entering, they fled into a little chapel; but the Scots had seen them, and, rushing on them, demanded their treasures. “Alas!” said they, “you yourselves best know where they are!” Wallace, coming in, silenced his men, and bade the priests say mass; but in one moment, while he turned aside to take off his helmet, his fierce soldiery snatched away the chalice from the altar, and tore off the ornaments and sacred vestments. He ordered that the perpetrators should be put to death, and said to the priests, “My presence alone can secure you. My men are evil-disposed. I cannot justify, I dare not punish them.”

On returning to Scotland, he assumed the title of Governor, and strove to bring matters into a more regular state, but without success; the great nobles either feared to offend the English, or would not submit to his authority.

In 1298, Edward, having freed himself from his difficulties in England and France, hurried to the North to put down in person what in his eyes was not patriotism, but rebellion. How violently enraged he was, was shown by his speech to Sir John Marmaduke, who was sent by Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham, to ask his pleasure respecting Dirleton Castle and two other fortresses to which he had laid siege. “Tell Anthony,” he said, “that he is right to be pacific when he is acting the bishop, but that, in his present business, he must forget his calling. As for yourself, you are a relentless soldier, and I have too often had to reprove you for too cruel an exultation over the death of your enemies. But, now, return whence you came, and be as relentless as you choose; you will have my thanks, not my censure; and, look you, do not see my face again till those three castles be razed to the ground.”

The castles were taken and overthrown, but the difficulties of the English continued to be great; the fleet was detained by contrary winds, and this delay of supplies caused a famine in the camp. Edward was obliged to command a retreat; but at that juncture, just as the country was so nearly rescued by the wise dispositions of Wallace, two Scottish nobles, the Earls of Dunbar and Angus, were led by a mean jealousy to betray him to the English, disclosing the place where he was encamped in the forest of Falkirk, and his intention of making a night-attack upon the English.

Edward was greatly rejoiced at the intelligence. “Thanks be to God,” he exclaimed, “who has saved me from every danger! They need not come after me, since I will go to meet them.”

He immediately put on his armor, and rode through the camp, calling on his soldiers to march immediately, and at three o’clock in the afternoon all were on their way to Falkirk. They halted for the night on a heath, where they lay down to sleep in their armor, with their horses picketed beside them In the course of the night the King’s horse trod upon him, breaking two of his ribs; and a cry arose among those around him that he was slain, and the enemy were upon them. But Edward, regardless of the pain, made the alarm serve as a reveillè, mounted his horse, rallied his troops, and, as it was near morning, gave orders to march. The light of the rising sun showed, on the top of the opposite hill, the lances of the Scottish advanced guard; but when they reached the summit, they found it deserted, and in the distance could see the enemy preparing for battle, the foot drawn up in four compact bodies of pikemen, the foremost rank kneeling, so that the spears of those behind rested on their shoulders. “I have brought you to the ring; hop if ye can,” was the brief exhortation of the outlawed patriot to his men; and grim was the dance prepared for them.

Edward heard mass in a tent set up on the hill, and afterward held a council on the manner of attack. An immediate advance was determined on, and they charged the Scots with great fury. The horse, consisting of the time-serving and cowardly nobility, fled without a blow, leaving Wallace and his archers unsupported, to be overwhelmed by the numbers of the English. Wallace, after a long resistance, was compelled to retreat into the woods, with a loss of 15,000, while on the English side the slain were very few.

Edward pushed on, carrying all before him, and wasting the country with fire and sword; but, as has happened in every invasion of Scotland, famine proved his chief enemy, and he was obliged to return to England, leaving unsubdued all the lands north of the Forth. But his determination was sternly fixed, and he made everything else give way to his Scottish wars.

The last stronghold which held out against him was Stirling Castle, under Sir William Oliphant, who, with only one hundred and forty men, for ninety days resisted with the most desperate valor; when the walls were broken down, taking shelter in caverns hewn out of the rock on which their fortress was founded. Edward, who led the attack, was often exposed to great danger; his horse was thrown down by a stone, and his armor pierced by an arrow; but he would not consent to use greater precautions, saying that he fought in a just war, and Heaven would protect him. At last the brave garrison were reduced to surrender, and came down from their castle in a miserable, dejected state, to implore his mercy. The tenderness of his nature revived as he saw brave men in such a condition. He could not restrain his tears, and he received them to his favor, sending them in safety to England.

Scotland was now completely tranquil, and entirely reduced. Every noble had sworn allegiance, every castle was garrisoned by English. Balliol was in Normandy, Bruce in the English army, and at last, in August, 1305, the brave outlaw, Sir William Wallace, was, by his former friend, Monteith, betrayed into the hands of the English. He was brought to Westminster, tried as a traitor to King Edward, and sentenced to die. He had never sworn fealty to Edward, but this could not save him; and on the 23d of August, 1305, he was dragged on a hurdle to Smithfield, and suffered the frightful death that the English laws allotted to a traitor. His head was placed on a pole on London Bridge, and his several limbs sent to the different towns in Scotland, where they were regarded far more as relics than as tokens of disgrace.

Had Edward appreciated and pardoned the gallant Scot, it would have been a noble deed. But his death should not be regarded as an act of personal, revenge. Wallace had disregarded many a proclamation of mercy, and had carried on a most savage warfare upon the Scots who had submitted to the English with every circumstance of cruelty. Edward, who believed himself the rightful King, was not likely to regard him as otherwise than a pertinacious bandit, with whom the law might properly take its course. More mercy might have been hoped from the prince who fought hand to hand with Adam de Gourdon; but ambition had greatly warped and changed Edward since those days, and the fifteen years of effort to retain his usurpation had hardened his whole nature.

Wallace himself, half a robber, half a knight, has won for himself a place in the affections of his countrymen, and has lived ever since in story and song. To the last century it was regarded as rude to turn a loaf in the presence of a Monteith, because that was the signal for the admission of the soldiers who seized Wallace; and there can be little doubt that this constant recollection was well deserved, since assuredly it was the spirit of resistance maintained by Wallace, though unsuccessful, that lived to flourish again after his death.

He was one of those men whose self-devotion bears visible fruits.





CAMEO XXXV. THE EVIL TOLL. (1294-1305.)

  King of England.
  1272. Edward I.

  King of Scotland.
  1296. Edward I.

  King of France.
  1285. Philippe IV.

  Emperors of Germany.
  1292. Adolf.
  1298. Albert I.

  Popes.
  1294. Boniface VIII.
  1303. Benedict XI.

Unlike the former Plantagenets, Edward I. was a thorough Englishman; his schemes, both for good and evil, were entirely insular; and as he became more engrossed in the Scottish war, he almost neglected his relations with the Continent.

One of the most wily and unscrupulous men who ever wore a crown was seated on the throne of France—the fair-faced and false-hearted Philippe IV., the “pest of France,” the oppressor of the Church, and the murderer of the Templars; and eagerly did he watch to take any advantage of the needs of his mighty vassal in Aquitaine.

Edward had made alliances to strengthen himself. He had married his daughter Eleanor to the Count of Bar, and Margaret to the heir of Brabant, and betrothed his son Edward to the only daughter of Guy Dampierre, Count of Flanders, thus hoping to restrain Philippe without breaking the peace.

Unluckily, in 1294, a sailors’ quarrel took place between the crews of an English and a Norman ship upon the French coast. They had both landed to replenish their stock of water, and disputed which had the right first to fill their casks. In the fray, a Norman was killed, and his shipmates, escaping, took their revenge by boarding another English vessel, and hanging a poor, innocent Bayonne merchant from the masthead, with a dog fastened to his feet. Retaliation followed upon revenge; and while the two kings professed to be at peace, every ship from their ports went armed, and fierce struggles took place wherever there was an encounter. Slaughter and plunder fell upon the defeated, for the sailors were little better than savage pirates, and were unrestrained by authority. Edward, who had a right to a share in all captures made by his subjects, refused to accept of any portion of these, though he did not put a stop to them. The Irish and Dutch vessels took part with the English, the Genoese with the French. At last, upward of two hundred French ships met at St. Mahé in Brittany, and their crews rejoiced over the captures which they had obtained, and held a great carousal. Eighty well-manned English vessels had, however, sailed from the Cinque Ports, and, surrounding St. Mahé, sent a challenge to their enemies. It was accepted; a ship was moored in the midst, as a point round which the two fleets might assemble, and a hot contest took place, fiercely fought upon either side; but English seamanship prevailed over superior numbers, every French ship was sunk or taken, and, horrible to relate, not one of their crews was spared.

Such destruction provoked Philippe, and he summoned Edward, as Duke of Aquitaine, to deliver up to him such Gascons as had taken part in the battle. This Edward neglected, whereupon Philippe sent to seize the lands of Perigord, and, on being repulsed by the seneschal, called on Edward to appear at his court within twenty days, to answer for his misdeeds, on pain of forfeiting the province of Gascony. Edward sent first the Bishop of London, and afterward his brother Edmund Crouchback, to represent him. Edmund’s second wife was the mother of Philippe’s queen, and it was therefore expected that he would the more easily come to terms, especially as he was commissioned to offer the hand of his royal brother to Blanche, the sister of Philippe, a maiden who inherited the unusual beauty of her family. Apparently all was easily arranged: Philippe promised Edmund that if, as a matter of form, Gascony were put into his hands by way of forfeit, it should be restored at the end of forty days on the intercession of the two ladies, and Blanche should be betrothed to the King.

All was thus arranged. But at the end of the forty days it proved that what Philippe had once grasped he had no notion of releasing; and, moreover, that Blanche la Belle was promised to Albert of Hapsburg! If Edward chose to marry any French princess at all, he was welcome to her little sister Marguerite, a child of eleven, while Edward was fifty-five. The excuse offered was, that Edward, had not obeyed the summons in person, and that another outrage had been perpetrated on the coast. After another summons, he was adjudged to lose not only Gascony, but all Aquitaine.

On discovering how he had been duped, Edward’s first impulse was to send out his writs to collect his vassals to recover Gascony, chastise the insolent ill faith of Philippe, and to stir up his foreign connections to support him. He collected his troops at Portsmouth, hoping to augment his army by a general release of prisoners, Scottish, Welsh, and malefactors alike; but while he was detained seven weeks by contrary winds, all these men, after taking his pay, made their escape, and either returned to their countries, or marauded in the woods. A great insurrection broke out in Wales, and he was forced to hasten thither, and from thence was called away to quell the rising of the Scottish barons against Balliol.

Meanwhile, it fared ill with his foreign allies. The Duke of Brabant, father-in-law to his daughter Margaret, was killed in a tournament at the court of her sister Eleanor; and when Eleanor’s husband, Henri of Bar, took up arms in the English cause, and marched into Champagne, he was defeated, and made prisoner by the Queen of France. The poor old Count of Flanders and his Countess were invited to Paris by Philippe, who insisted that they should bring his godchild and namesake, the betrothed of young Edward, to visit him. When they arrived, they were all thrown into the prison of the Louvre, on the plea that Guy had no right to bestow his daughter in marriage without permission from his suzerain.

Edward’s head was so full of Scotland, that he was shamefully indifferent to the sufferings of his friends in his behalf. Poor Eleanor of Bar, after striving hard to gain her husband’s freedom, died of grief, after a few months; and Guy of Flanders contrived to obtain his own release by promising to renounce the English alliance; but Philippe would not set free the poor young Philippa, whom he kept in his hands as a hostage.

One cause of the King’s neglect was his great distress for money. He had learnt to have recourse to his father’s disgraceful plea of a sham Crusade, and thus, for six years, gained a tenth of the Church revenues; but in 1294, requiring a further supply, he made a demand of half the year’s income of the clergy. The new Archbishop, Robert Winchelsea, was gone to Rome to receive his pall; the Dean of St. Paul’s, who was sent to remonstrate with the King, died suddenly in his presence; but Edward was not touched, and sent a knight to address the assembled clergy, telling them that any reverend father who dared to oppose the royal will would be considered to have broken the King’s peace. In terror they yielded for that time; but they sent a petition to the Pope, who, in return, granted a bull forbidding any subsidies to be paid by church lands to the King without his permission.

Little did Edward reck of this decree. He knew that Boniface VIII. had his hands full of his quarrels with the Romans and with Philippe le Bel, and his own ambition was fast searing the conscience once so generous and tender. Again he convened the clergy to grant his exactions, but Archbishop Winchelsea replied that they had two lords, spiritual and temporal; they owed the superior obedience to the spiritual lord, and would therefore grant nothing till the Pope should have ratified the demand; for which purpose they would send messengers to Rome.

The lay barons backed Edward in making a declaration of outlawry against the clergy, and seizing all the ecclesiastical property, both lands and treasures, except what was within churches or burying-grounds, declaring that, if not redeemed by submission before Easter, all should be forfeited forever. The Archbishop of York came to terms; but the Archbishop of Canterbury held out, and was deprived of everything, retiring to a country village, where he acted as parish priest, and lived upon the alms of the parishioners. He held a synod, where excommunication was denounced on those who seized church property; but the censures of the Church had lost their terrors, and the clergy gradually made their peace with the King, Winchelsea himself among the last.

The laity had looked on quietly at the oppression of the clergy, and indeed had borne their share of exactions; but these came at last to a point beyond endurance, and Edward’s need, and their obstinate resistance, led to another step in the formation of our constitution.

In 1297 he made a new alliance with Guy of Flanders, and was fitting out three armies, against Scotland, Guienne, and Flanders. To raise the means, he exacted five marks as a duty on each sack of wool exported to Flanders, and made ruinous requisitions for wheat on the landowners. Merchants and burghers, barons and clergy, took counsel together, and finding each other all of one mind, resolved to make a stand against this tax on wool, which was called the “Evil Toll,” and to establish what Magna Carta had already declared, that the nation would not be taxed against its own consent.

The King’s brother, Edmund of Lancaster, had lately died while commanding in Guienne, and Edward, meeting his vassals at Salisbury, gave the command of the army, thus left without a head, to Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk—the one Constable, the other Marshal of England. To his great wrath, they answered that their offices only bound them to attend the King’s person in war, and that they would not go. Edward swore a fierce oath that they should either go, or hang. Bigod coolly repeated the same oath, that he would neither go nor hang, and back to their own estates they went, and after them thirty bannerets, and 1,500 knights, who, by main force, hindered the King’s officers from making any further levies on their barns and storehouses.

Nothing was left Edward, but to speak them fair. He summoned his vassals to meet him in London, reconciled himself to Archbishop Winchelsea, and on the 14th of July, 1297, when all were assembled at Westminster, he stood forth on a platform, attended by his son, the Primate, and the Earl of Warwick, and harangued the people. He told them that he grieved at the burthens which he was forced to impose on them, but it was for their defence; for that the Scots, Welsh, and French thirsted for their blood, and it was better to lose a part, than the whole. “I am going to risk my life for your sake,” he said. “If I return, receive me; and I will make you amends. If I fall, here is my son: he will reward you, if faithful.”

His voice was broken by tears; and his people, remembering what he once had been rather than what he was now, broke into loud shouts of loyal affection. He appointed his son as regent, and set out for Flanders, but not in time to prevent poor Guy from again falling into captivity, and pursued by requisitions, to which he promised to attend on his return. All the nobles who held with him accompanied him, and Bohun and Bigod were left to act in their own way.

They rode to London with a large train, lodged complaints of the illegal exaction before the Exchequer, and then, going to the Guildhall, worked up the citizens to be ready to assert their rights, and compel the King to revoke the evil toll, and to observe the charter. They had scrupulously kept within the law, and, though accompanied by so many armed followers, neither murder nor pillage was permitted; and thus they obtained the sympathies of the whole country.

Young Edward of Caernarvon was but thirteen, and could only submit; and a Parliament was convoked by his authority, when the present taxes were repealed, the important clause was added to the Great Charter which declared that no talliage or aid should thenceforth be levied without the consent of the bishops, peers, burgesses, and freemen of the realm, nor should any goods be taken for the King without consent of the owners.

Further, it was enacted that Magna Charta should be rehearsed twice a year in all the cathedrals, with a sentence of excommunication on all who should infringe it. The Archbishop enforced this order strictly, adding another sentence of excommunication to be rehearsed in each church on every Sunday against any who should beat or imprison clergymen, desiring it to be done with tolling of bell and putting out of candle, because these solemnities had the greater effect on the laity. This statute is a sad proof how much too cheaply sacred things were held, and how habit was leading even the clergy to debase them by over-frequent and frivolous use of the most awful emblems.

Young Edward and his council signed the acts, and they were sent to the King for ratification, with a promise that his barons would thereupon join him in Flanders, or march to Scotland, at his pleasure. He was three days in coming to his resolution, but finally agreed, though it was suspected that he might set aside his signature as invalid, because made in a foreign country.

Wallace’s proceedings in Scotland made Edward anxious to hasten thither and rid himself of the French war. He therefore accepted the mediation of Boniface VIII., and consented to sacrifice his unfortunate ally, Guy of Flanders, whom he left in his captivity, as well as his poor young daughter. Both died in the prison to which the daughter had been consigned at twelve years old. The Prince of Wales, for whose sake her bloom wasted in prison, was contracted to Isabelle, the daughter of her persecutor, Philippe le Bel; and old King Edward himself received the hand of the Princess Marguerite, now about seventeen, fair and good. Aquitaine was restored, though not Gascony; but Edward only wanted to be free, that he might hasten to Scotland. And, curiously enough, the outlaw Wallace, whatever he did for his own land, unconsciously fought the battles of his foes, the English nation; for it was his resistance that weakened Edward’s power, and made necessity extort compliance with the demands of the Barons.

At York, Bigod and Bohun claimed a formal ratification of the charter of Westminster. He put them off by pleading the urgency of affairs in Scotland, and hastened on; but when he returned, in 1299, the staunch Barons again beset him, and he confirmed the charter, but added the phrase, “Saving the rights of the Crown,” which annulled the whole force of the decree. The two barons instantly went off in high displeasure, with a large number of their friends; and Edward, to try the temper of the people, ordered the charter to be rehearsed at St. Paul’s Cross; but when the rights of the Crown were mentioned, such a storm of hootings and curses arose, that Edward, taught by the storms of his youth not to push matters to extremity, summoned a new parliament, and granted the right of his subjects to tax themselves.

This right has often since been proved to be the main strength of the Parliament, by preventing the King from acting against their opinion, and by rendering it the interest of all classes of men to attend to the proceedings of the sovereign: it has not only kept kings in check, but it has saved the nobles and commonalty from sinking into that indifference to public affairs which has been the bane of foreign nations. For, unfortunately, the mass of men are more easily kept on the alert when wealth is affected, than by any deeper or higher consideration.

When we yearly hear of Parliament granting the supplies ere the close of the session, they are exercising the right first claimed at Runnymede, striven for by Simon de Montfort, and won by Humphrey Bohun, who succeeded through the careful self-command and forbearance which hindered him from ever putting his party in the wrong by violence or transgression of the laws. He should be honored as a steadfast bulwark to the freedom of his country, teaching the might of steady resolution, even against the boldest and ablest of all our kings. In spite of rough words, Edward and Bohun respected each other, and the heir of Hereford, likewise named Humphrey, married Elizabeth, the youngest surviving daughter left by good Queen Eleanor. Another of Edward’s daughters had been married to an English earl. Joan of Acre, the high-spirited, wilful girl, who was born in the last Crusade, had been given as a wife to her father’s stout old comrade, Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester. He died when she was only twenty-three, and before the end of a year she secretly married her squire, Ralph de Monthermer, and her father only discovered the union when he had promised her to the Count of Savoy. Monthermer was imprisoned; but Edward, always a fond father, listened to Joan’s pleading, that, as an Earl could ennoble a woman of mean birth, it was hard that she might not raise a gallant youth to rank. Ralph was released, and bore for the rest of his life the title of Earl of Gloucester, which properly belonged only to Joan’s young son, Gilbert. Joan was a pleasure-loving lady, expensive in her habits, and neglectful of her children; but her father’s indulgence for her never failed: he lent her money, pardoned her faults, and took on himself the education of her son Gilbert, who was the companion of his own two young sons by his second marriage, Thomas of Brotherton and Edmund of Woodstock.

Their mother, Margaret of France, was a fair and gentle lady, who lived on the best terms with her stepdaughters, many of whom were her elders; and she followed the King on his campaigns, as her predecessor Eleanor had done. Mary, the princess who had taken the veil, was almost always with her, and contrived to spend a far larger income than any of her sisters, though without the same excuse of royal apparel; but she was luxurious in diet, fond of pomp and display; never moving without twenty-four horses, and so devoted to amusement that she lost large sums at dice. She must have been an unedifying abbess at Ambresbury, though not devoid of kindness of heart.

Archbishop Winchelsea held a synod at Mertoun in 1305, where various decrees were made respecting the books and furniture which each parish was bound to provide for the Divine service. The books were to be “a legend” containing the lessons for reading, with others containing the Psalms and Services. The vestments were “two copes, a chasuble, a dalmatic, three surplices, and a frontal for the altar.” And, besides these, a chalice of silver, a pyx of ivory or silver, a censer, two crosses, a font with lock and key, a vessel for holy water, a great candlestick, and a lantern and bell, which were carried before the Host when taken to the dying, a board with a picture to receive the kiss of peace, and all the images of the Church. The nave, then as now, was the charge of the parish; the chancel, of the rector.

This synod was Archbishop Winchelsea’s last act before the King took vengeance on him for his past resistance. His friend and supporter, Boniface VIII., was dead, harassed to death by the persecutions of Philippe IV.; and Clement V., the new Pope, was a miserable time-server, raised to the papal chair by the machinations of the French King, and ready to serve as the tool of any injustice.

Edward disliked the Archbishop for having withstood him in the matter of the tithe, as well as for having cited him in the name of the Pope to leave Scotland in peace. The King now induced Clement to summon him to answer for insubordination. Winchelsea was very unwilling to go to Rome; but Edward seized his temporalities, banished eighty monks for giving him support, and finally exiled him. He died in indigence at Rome.

He was a prelate of the same busy class as Langton, not fulfilling the highest standard of his sacred office, but spirited, uncompromising, and an ardent though unsuccessful champion of the rights of the nation.

If Langton be honored for his part in Magna Charta, Winchelsea merits a place by his side, for it was the resistance of his party to the “Evil Toll” that placed taxation in the power of the English nation, and in the wondrous ways of Providence caused the Scottish and French wars to work for the good of our constitution.





CAMEO XXXVI. ROBERT THE BRUCE (1305-1308.)

  King of England.
  1272. Edward I.

  King of Scotland.
   1306. Robert I.

  King of France.
   1285 Philippe IV.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1298. Albert I.

  Pope.
   1305. Clement V.

The state of Scotland had, ever since the death of the good King Alexander, been such that even honest men could scarcely retain their integrity, nor see with whom to hold. The realm had been seized by a foreign power, with a perplexing show of justice, the rightful King had been first set up and then put down by external force, and the only authority predominant in the land was unacknowledged by the heart of any, though terror had obtained submission from the lips.

The strict justice which was loved and honored in orderly England, was loathed in barbarous Scotland. It would have been hated from a native sovereign; how much more so from a conqueror, and, above all, from a hostile race, exasperated by resistance! Whether Edward I. were an intentional tyrant or not, his deputies in Scotland were harsh rulers, and the troops scattered throughout the castles in the kingdom used such cruel license and exaction as could not but make the yoke intolerable, and the enmity irreconcilable, especially in a race who never forgot nor forgave.

The higher nobility were in a most difficult situation, since to them it fell to judge between the contending parties, and to act for themselves. Few preserved either consistency or good faith; they wavered between fear of Edward and love of independence; and among the lowland baronage there seems to have been only William Douglas, of Douglasdale, who never committed himself by taking oaths of fealty to the English king. Some families, who were vassals at once of the English and Scottish crowns, were in still greater straits; and among these there was the line of Bruce. Robert de Brus had come from Normandy with William the Conqueror, and obtained from him large grants in Yorkshire, as well as the lordship of Annandale from one of the Scottish kings; and thus a Bruce stood between both parties, and strove to mediate at the battle of the Standard. His grandson married Isabel of Huntingdon, the daughter of the crusader, David of Scotland, and thus acquired still larger estates and influence in both countries. His son Robert made another English marriage with Isabel de Clare, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester. The eldest son, Robert Bruce, had gone as a crusader to Palestine, in company with his friend Adam de Kilcontack, who was Earl of Carrick in right of his wife Martha. Kilcontack died at the siege of Acre, and Bruce, returning, married the young countess, and had a large family.

There were three Robert Bruces living at the time of the judgment at Norham—the father, Lord of Annandale; the son, Earl of Carrick; and the grandson, still a child. As he grew up, he was sent to serve in the English army, and for some time did so without apparent misgivings; and the connection was drawn closer by his marriage with Joan de Valence, one of the cousins of Edward I. In order to secure a part of the property at all events, the father gave up his Scottish fiefs to his son, and returned to England, there to live in unbroken allegiance to Edward.

When Balliol was driven to declare against Edward, he confiscated the estates of all who adhered to the English, and gave Annandale to John Comyn of Badenoch, the son of his sister Marjory. The Red Comyn, as he was called, seized Bruce’s Castle of Lochmaben, and sowed seeds of deadly hatred; but on the downfall of Balliol he shared the captivity of the unfortunate “toom tabard,” and did not return to Scotland for some years. When Wallace’s revolt broke out, young Bruce, who was only twenty-three, at first followed his instinct of obedience to Edward, and took an oath to support him against all his enemies, and in pursuance of it ravaged the lands of the brave Douglas, and carried his wife and children into captivity. Some sense either of ambition or patriotism, however, stirred within him, and assembling his men of Annandale, he told them that he had taken a foolish oath, but that he deeply repented of it, and would be absolved from it, inviting them to join him in maintaining the cause of their country. They took alarm, and all disappeared in the course of the night, and he joined the patriots alone, but not with all his heart, for he soon made his peace with Edward, and gave his only child, Marjory, as a hostage. Thenceforward he vacillated, sometimes inclining to the King, sometimes to the Scottish party, and apparently endeavoring to discover how far he could be secure of the Scots giving him their crown, provided he took their part. He showed a lamentable contempt for his word; for, on his father’s death, he again did homage, and swore fealty to Edward, both for his lands in England and Scotland, and at the same time he was making secret treaties with Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrew’s, and with Comyn. Balliol having resigned the crown, and being in prison with all his family, was considered to be set aside, and Bruce proposed to Comyn, that whichever of them should claim the kingdom, should purchase the support of the other by resigning to him his own inheritance. Comyn appeared to agree, and, to prevent suspicion, Bruce attended the court in London; but while he was there, Comyn wrote to betray his proposal to Edward, who took measures for seizing the conspirator; but these becoming known to his cousin, young Gilbert de Clare, the King’s grandson, he contrived to give Bruce warning by sending him a pair of spurs and some pieces of gold.

Bruce understood the hint, and galloped off with his horse’s shoes turned backward, so as to baffle pursuit. He came safely, on the fifth day, to his own border castle of Lochmaben, where he found his brother Edward. Keeping watch, they seized a messenger on his way to the English court, bearing letters from Comyn, which explained to Bruce what the peril had been, and who the traitor. Still he was forced to dissemble, and went as usual to the court of the English justiciary at Dumfries, which he was bound to attend. Comyn was likewise present, and there were deadly glances between the two. Bruce called Comyn to hold a private interview with him in the church of the Minorite friars, and, while their words waxed fierce, Bruce reproached Comyn with treachery. The answer was, “You lie!” and Bruce, enraged, struck with his dagger at his enemy; then, horror-struck at seeing him fall, rushed out of the church, and called, “To horse!” Two of his attendants, Lindsay and Kirkpatrick, struck by his pale looks and wild eyes, asked what had befallen him.

“I doubt,” he said, “that I have slain the Red Comyn!”

“You doubt!” cried Kirkpatrick; “I’ll mak sicker”—or sure: and, so saying, hurried back into the church, and slew not only the wounded man, but his uncle, Sir Robert Comyn, who tried to defend him. The “bloody dirk” and the words “mak sicker” were adopted as crest and motto by the Kirkpatrick family. Strange instance of barbarism, that the dastardly, sacrilegious murder of a helpless man on the steps of the altar should be regarded as an achievement worthy of pride!

Still, the fruits of that deed were the deliverance of Scotland. The man who had hitherto wavered, cast about by circumstances, and swayed by family interest, assumed a new character, and became the patient, undaunted champion of his country.

In utter desperation, Bruce’s first measure was to defend himself against the English justiciaries, and, rallying his friends, he took possession of the castle of Dumfries, where they were holding their court in a hall. They barricaded themselves within, but the fierce Scots set fire to the doors, and they surrendered, whereupon Bruce permitted them to depart in safety.

Nothing was left for Bruce, blood-stained and branded with treachery and impiety, but to set up his standard and fight to the last; since he had offended too deeply ever to find mercy, and the lot of Davydd or of Wallace were samples of what he had to expect. He was handsome, well educated, of great personal strength and prowess, and frank, winning address, and the Scots had suffered so much under their oppressors, that they were ready to rally round the first leader who offered himself.

Going to his castle of Lochmaben, he mustered his adherents. They amounted only to three bishops, two earls, and fourteen barons, with their followers, and his own four brothers, Edward, Nigel, Thomas, and Alexander. With his little force he get out for Scone, where the Scottish kings were crowned, and on his way met a young knight, riding alone, but well mounted and well armed. As he raised his visor to do his homage to the King Robert of Scotland, and showed his dark hair and complexion, he was recognized as James, the eldest son of that William, Baron Douglas, of Douglasdale, who alone had withheld his allegiance from Edward, and whose lands, after Bruce himself had ravaged them, had been given to the English Lord Clifford. The youth had been educated in France, and brought the graces of a gentler school of chivalry when he cast in his lot with his ill-used country men. Thus began the lifelong friendship of Bruce and “good Sir James Douglas,” who was, “wise, wight, and worthy,”

  “Was never over-glad in winning, nor over-sad in tyneing.”
 

From Scone, the crown, royal stone, and robes had been carried off to England; and the Earl of Fife, who, since the days of Macduff, had had the right of placing the King upon his throne, was in the hands of the English: but the Bishop of Glasgow provided rich raiment; a little circlet of gold was borrowed of an English goldsmith; and Isabel, Countess of Buchan, the sister of the Earl of Fife, rode to Scone, bringing her husband’s war-horses, and herself enthroned King Robert. The coronation took place on the Feast of the Annunciation, 1306, and thus began a dynasty whose fate was remarkably similar to the sacrilege and murder in which their rise was founded. Never was royal line of whom it could so truly be said, that the sword never departed from them, and there was not an old man in their house for ever. High endowments and honest purposes could not redeem them, and Scotland never rested nor was purified from deadly hate and the shedding of innocent blood till the last of them was dying, a childless exile, and her sceptre was in the hands of that power against which Bruce arose.

The news of Brace’s coronation filled Edward I. with rage. Fourteen years’ work, at the cost of honor, mercy, and the love of his people, all was undone, and the spirit of independence still uncrushed.

Edward regarded Bruce as so sacrilegious a traitor, that a war with him was almost sacred; he swore to revenge Red Comyn’s death, and prepared for the war in the most solemn manner. His son Edward was in his 22d year, and had not yet been knighted, and the King convoked all the young nobles to share in the solemnity.

On Whitsun-eve three hundred tents were erected in the Temple gardens, and in each was a young esquire of noble blood, clad in white linen and scarlet cloth, from the King’s own wardrobe. Around the circular church of the Temple they watched their armor, and in the early morning the Prince received knighthood in private from the hands of his father, who had become too unwell to encounter the whole fatigue of the day. The Prince conferred the order on his companions, and a magnificent banquet took place in Westminster Hall, where the old King himself presided. In the midst a golden net was brought in containing two swans, the emblems of constancy and truth; and laying his hand on these, the King vowed that he would never sleep two nights in the same place till he should have chastised the Scots, and that he then would embark for Palestine, and die in the holy war. All the young knights made the same vow; and Edward made them swear that, if he should die in the course of the war, they would keep his body above ground till the conquest should be completed.

In the meantime, Clement V. had visited Bruce’s crime with excommunication; and though the primate, Lamberton, would not receive the letters bearing the sentence, it was less easy to be inattentive to the enormous force that Edward I. had despatched under his viceroy, Aymar de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, while he followed with mind only bent on revenge.

Bruce ravaged Galloway, and marching on Perth, where De Valence was in garrison, challenged him to come out to battle. Aymar answered that it was too late in the day, and he must wait till morning; and the Scots settled themselves in the wood of Methven, where they were cooking their suppers, when Valence ungenerously took them by surprise, falling on them with a far superior force. Robert was on the alert, and killed Aymar’s horse; but three times he was himself unhorsed: and once Philippe Mowbray was crying out that he had the new-made King, when Christopher Seton came to the rescue, and killed the Englishman. Robert, with about five hundred men, retreated safely into the rugged country of Athol; but he lost many of his best friends, who were slain or made prisoners, the latter being for the most part hung as rebels, except his sister’s son, Thomas Randolph, who made his peace by renouncing his uncle.

King Edward had advanced as far as Carlisle. But he was now in his 67th year, and though his blue eye was not dim, nor his tall form bent, age was beginning to tell on him, and he was detained by sickness. His armies advanced, and while their cruelties shocked even his stern heart, he set them a fatal example by the unsparing manner in which he ordered the execution of all whom he considered as accomplices in rebellion.

The King and his small band of followers lived a wild, outlaw life, in the hills, hunting and fishing; and his English wife, Joan de Valence, with his two sisters, Mary and Christian, and the Countess of Buchan, came, under the escort of young Nigel Bruce, to join them. A few weeks ensued in the wilds of Bredalbane which had all the grace of “As You Like It.” The Queen and ladies were lodged in bowers of the branches of trees, slept on the skins of deer and roe, and the King and his young knights hunted, fished, or gathered the cranberry or the whortleberry for their food; while the French courtliness of James Douglas, and the gracious beauty of young Nigel, threw a romance over the whole of the sufferings so faithfully and affectionately endured.

But advancing autumn forced them to think of providing shelter, and as they advanced toward the Tay, they came into the country of John Macdougal, Lord of Lorn, a son-in-law of the Red Comyn, and therefore at deadly feud with the Bruces. He collected his Highland vassals, and set upon the little band in a narrow pass between a lake and a precipice, where they could not use their horses: and the Highlanders did dreadful execution with their Lochaber axes; James Douglas was wounded, and so many of the horses destroyed, that Bruce ordered a retreat, and set himself to cover it, almost alone. Lorn himself was reminded of the heroes of Highland romance, as he saw the knightly figure riding calmly along the shore of the lake, guarding his flying army by the might of his presence, and the Archdeacon of Aberdeen found a simile for him in the romances of Alexander; but three men named M’Androsser, a father and two sons, all of great strength, sprang forward, vowing to slay the champion, or make him prisoner. One seized his rein, and at the same moment Bruce’s sword sheared off the detaining hand, but not before the other brother had grasped his leg to hurl him from the saddle. With a touch of the spur the horse leaped forward, and as the man fell, his head was cleft by the King’s sword. The grapple with the father was more severe; he grasped the King’s mantle, and when Bruce dashed out his brains with his mace, the death-clutch was so fast, that Bruce was forced to undo the brooch at his throat to free himself from the dead man. The brooch was brought as a trophy to Lorn, whose party could not help breaking out into expressions of admiration, which began to anger him.

“It seems to give you pleasure,” he said, “to see such havoc made among us.” “Not so,” answered one; “but be he friend or foe who achieves high deeds of knighthood, men should do faithful witness to his valor.”

When the King had safely conducted his friends from this danger, he decided that the ladies should be placed in Kildrummie Castle, in Mar, under the keeping of young Nigel, while his followers dispersed for the winter, and he would shelter in the Hebrides. It was a sad and long parting, for Kildrummie Castle was soon taken, and Edward sternly condemned Nigel to be hung, in spite of his youth and innocence; and Christopher Seton, the King’s dearest friend, was soon after taken, and shared the same fate. The bishops were carried in chains to England, and Queen Joan also was sent home as a prisoner with her little daughter Marjory. Mary Bruce and Isabel of Buchan were still more harshly treated, being each shut up in an open cage of latticed wood, exposed to the weather and to the public gaze, the one at Berwick, the other at Roxburgh Castle. Christian had the better fate of being placed in a convent.

In the meantime, Bruce and his few friends had wandered on to the banks of Loch Lomond, where they could only find one leaky boat, unable to hold more than three. Bruce, Douglas, and one other were the first to cross, and the third then rowed back for another freight, while throughout this tedious waiting the King made his friends forget their troubles by reciting poems and tales of chivalry. He spent part of the winter in Kentire, and the rest at the little island of Rachrin, so entirely lost to the knowledge of his enemies, that derisive proclamation was made for Robert Bruce, lost, stolen, or strayed. The Pope’s legate solemnly excommunicated him at Carlisle, with bell, book, and candle; and Annandale was given to the Earl of Hereford, and Carrick to Henry Percy, whilst the executions of his relatives and adherents were both savage and cruel.

It was while depressed by such dreadful tidings that Bruce, as he lay on his bed at Rachrin, drew counsel and encouragement from the persevering spider, resolved to stake his fortunes on another cast, and, if unsuccessful, to die as a warrior in the Holy Land. The spring of 1307 was coming on, and he had found a friend in Christina, the Lady of the Isles, who furnished him with some vessels, in which Douglas descended upon the Isle of Arran, and surprised Brodick Castle, which was full of supplies.

Bruce was not long in following them, and, landing secretly, blew his bugle horn.

“The King!” cried James Douglas; “I know his manner of blowing!”

“The King!” cried Robert Boyd; “let us make speed to join him!”.

Bruce had brought with him thirty-three galleys, and, meditating a landing in his own county of Carrick, just opposite, he sent a trusty friend, named Cuthbert, to feel his way; agreeing that, if he found the people favorably disposed, he should light a fire as a signal on Turnberry Head. The flame burst out at night, and Bruce and his little band embarked; but, on landing, he found no welcome on the shore, only Cuthbert, who knelt in dismay to assure the King that he knew not what hand had kindled the blaze; it was none of his, for the people were terror-stricken, Turnberry Castle was full of English, and he feared that it was the work of treachery. Nor has that strange beacon ever been accounted for; it is still believed to have been lit by no mortal hand, and the spot where it shone forth is called the Bogle’s Brae. Whether meteor or watch-fire, it lit the way to Robert Bruce’s throne.

He took counsel whether to return, or not; but his fiery brother, Edward, vowed that, for his part, he would never return to the sea, but would seek his adventures by land, and Bruce decided on being led by his strange destiny. Percy’s horses and men were quartered in the villages round, and falling on them by surprise, he made a rich booty, and drove the remainder to take refuge in the castle.

A lady of Bruce’s kindred brought him forty men and a supply of money and provisions, but, on the other hand, she told him the sad news of the loss of Kildrummie and the death of Nigel; and nearly at the same time, his two youngest brothers, who had been to collect forces in Ireland, were met as they landed by the Macdowalls of Galloway, routed, wounded, and made prisoners. They were taken to King Edward at Carlisle, and at once hanged without mercy. Bruce vowed a deadly vengeance, but he was again put to dreadful straits. He had four hundred men with him at Ammock, in Ayrshire, when Aymar de Valence and John of Lorn pursued him with eight hundred Highlanders and men-at-arms, setting on his traces a bloodhound, once a favorite of his own, and whose instinct they basely employed against his master.

Bruce, hoping to confuse them, divided his followers into three bands, appointing them a place of meeting; but the hound was not to be thus baffled, and followed up his master’s footsteps. Again the royal party broke up, the King keeping with him only his foster-brother; but again the hound singled out his traces, and followed him closely. Lorn sent on five of his fleetest Highlanders to outstrip the dog, believing them able to cope with the two whose footmarks he saw. Bruce soon saw them dashing alter him, and asked his foster-brother, “What aid wilt them make?”

“The best I can,” he said; and the King undertook to deal with three, leaving the other two to his foster-brother; but he had to turn aside from his own combat to rescue his companion, and four out of the five fell by his hand; yet he thanked his foster-brother for his aid in the encounter. The baying of the hound came near enough to be heard, revealing why the enemy had so well distinguished his tread: and Bruce, who had been sitting under a tree, spent with fatigue, sprang up, exclaiming that he had heard that to wade a bow-shot through a stream would make any dog lose scent, and he would put it to proof by walking down the little stream that crossed the wood. This device succeeded, the running water effaced the scent, the hound was at fault, and Lorn gave up the attempt.

Still the hunted pair were in evil case; they had lost their way, and were spent with fatigue, and they could not extricate themselves from the forest. By and by they met three wild, vagabond-looking men coming with swords and axes, and one with a sheep thrown over his shoulders. The King accosted them, and asked whither they were bound. They said they sought Robert Bruce, since, wherever he was, there would be fighting.

“Come with me,” he said; “I will take you to him.”

At this they changed countenance, so that he suspected them, and insisted that they should walk on before him in front, without the two parties mingling together. At nightfall they came to an empty shed, where they killed the sheep; but Bruce, still on his guard, chose to have a separate fire, and to eat and sleep apart beside it, himself and his foster-brother taking turns to watch. The foster-brother, heavy and exhausted, dropped off to sleep on his watch, and almost at the same moment the three robbers fell upon them. Bruce, who slept lightly, was on the alert in a moment, and slew the whole three, but not in time to save his foster-brother, who died under a blow from the marauders. The King then went mournfully on his way to the place of rendezvous, and by and by came to a farm, where he was welcomed by a loyal goodwife, who declared that she wished well to all travellers for the sake of one—King Robert. Here he was joined by one hundred and fifty men, with his brother Edward, and James Douglas; and the first remedy thought of for all their fatigues was to fall on their pursuers, who were carousing in the villages. Attacking them suddenly, they inflicted far more injury than had been suffered through this day of pursuit.

Bruce was gathering men so fast, that he ventured to give battle to Aymar de Valence at London Hill, and defeated him chiefly by using the long spears of the Scottish infantry against the horse of the English. Aymar went to explain the state of affairs to King Edward at Carlisle. Such tidings lashed the old monarch to more vehement action; he prepared to set forth at once against the enemy; but it was not to be. Wars were over with him forever. The sudden death of his daughter, Joan, strongly affected him, and at only one day’s march from Carlisle he became so ill, that he was forced to rest at Burgh on the Sands, where he speedily declined. His last injunctions to his son were, to be kind to his little brothers, and to maintain three hundred knights for three years in the Holy Land. The report went, that he further desired that his flesh might be boiled off his bones, and these wrapped in a bull’s hide to serve as a standard to the army; but Edward’s hatred never was so mad as this would have been, and there is no reason to believe in so absurd a story.

There could perhaps be found no more appropriate monument than that in Westminster Abbey, contrasting, as it does, its stern simplicity with the gorgeous grace of his father’s inlaid shrine, and typifying well the whole story of the fallen though still devout crusader—the dark-gray slab of Purbeck marble, with the inscription:

  Edwardus Primus. Malleus Scotorum, 1308. Pactum Serva.
  Edward the First. The Hammer of the Scots. Keep covenants.





CAMEO XXXVII. THE VICTIM OF BLACKLOW HILL.

   King of England.
   1307. Edward II.

  King of Scotland.
   1306. Robert I.

  King of France.
   1385. Philippe IV.

  Emperor of Germany.
   1308. Henry VII.

  Pope.
   1305. Clement V.

“The foolishness of the people” is a title that might be given to many a son of a wise father. The very energy and prudence of the parent, especially when employed on ambitious or worldly objects, seems to cause distaste, and even opposition, in the youth on whom his father’s pursuits have been prematurely forced. Seeing the evil, and weary of the good, it often requires a strong sense of duty to prevent him from flying to the contrary extreme, or from becoming wayward, indifferent, and dissipated.

This has been the history of many an heir-apparent, and of none more decidedly than of Edward of Carnarvon. The Plantagenet weakness, instead of the stern strength of the house of Anjou, had descended to him; and though he had what Fuller calls “a handsome man-case,” his fair and beautiful face was devoid of the resolute and fiery expression of his father, and showed somewhat of the inanity of regular features, without a spirit to illuminate them. Gentle, fond of music, dancing, and every kind of sport, he had little turn for state affairs; and like his grandfather, Henry III., but with more constancy, he clung to any one who had been able to gain his affections, and had neither will nor judgment save that of the friend who had won his heart.

His first friend—and it was a friendship till death—was Piers Gaveston, the son of a knight of Guienne. Piers was a few years older than the Prince, and so graceful, handsome, ready of tongue, and complete in every courtly accomplishment, that Edward I. highly approved of him as his son’s companion in early boyhood; and Piers shared in the education of the young Prince of Wales and of his favorite sister, Elizabeth. Edward I. was a fond father, and granted his son’s friend various distinguished marks of favor, among others the wardship of Roger, the son and heir of the deceased Edmund Mortimer, warden of the Marches of Wales. Whatever were the intentions of Gaveston, Roger Mortimer did little credit to his education. The guardian had a license to use his ward’s property like his own till his majority, in order that he might levy the retainers for the King’s service, and he obtained a handsome gratuity from the relatives of the lady to whom he gave the youth in marriage, and this, probably, was the extent of the obligations to which Gaveston considered himself as bound.

Both he and his Prince were strongly sensitive to all that was tasteful and beautiful; they were profuse in their expenditure in dress, in ornament, and in all kinds of elegances, and delighted in magnificent entertainments. They gave one in the Tower of London to the princesses, on which occasion an immense expenditure was incurred, when the Prince of Wales was only fifteen; and his presents were always on the grandest scale to his sisters, who seem to have loved him as sisters love an only brother.

By and by, however, generosity became profusion, and love of pleasure ran into dissipation. Grave men grew uneasy at the idle levity of the Prince, and were seriously offended by the gibes and jests in which the tongue of Gaveston abounded, and at which he was always ready to laugh. In 1305, the Prince made application to Walter Langley, Bishop of Litchfield, the King’s treasurer, to supply him with money, but was refused, and spoke improperly in his anger. It is even said that he joined Gaveston in the wild frolic of breaking into Langley’s park, and stealing his deer. At any rate, at Midhurst, on the 13th of June, the Bishop seriously reproved him for his idle life and love of low company; and the Prince replied with such angry words, that the King, in extreme displeasure, sent him in a sort of captivity to Windsor Castle, with only two servants.

All his sisters rose up to take their brother’s part, and assure him of their sympathy. The eager, high-spirited Joan, Countess of Gloucester, sent him her seal, that he might procure whatever he pleased at her cost; and Elizabeth, who was married to Humphrey de Bohun, the great Earl of Hereford, wrote a letter of warm indignation, to which he replied by begging her not to believe anything, save that his father was acting quite rightly by him; but a few weeks after, he wrote to beg her to intercede that his “two valets,” Gilbert de Clare and Perot de Gaveston, “might be restored to him, as they would alleviate much of his anguish.” He addressed a letter with the like petition to his stepmother, Queen Margaret, and continued to evince his submission by refusing his sister Mary’s invitations to visit her at her convent at Ambresbury. At the meeting of parliament, Edward met his father again, and received his forgiveness. All went well for some time, and he gracefully played his part in the pageantry of his knighthood and the vow of the Swans.

Gaveston still continued about his person, and accompanied him to the north of England. At the parliament of Carlisle, in 1307, the Prince besought his father to grant his friend the earldom of Cornwall, the richest appanage in the kingdom, just now vacant by the death of his cousin, Edmund d’Almaine, son of the King of the Romans. Whether this presumptuous request opened the King’s eyes to the inordinate power that Gaveston exercised over his son, or whether he was exasperated against him by the complaints of the nobles, his reply was, to decree that, after a tournament fixed for the 9th of April, Gaveston must quit the kingdom forever; and he further required an oath from both the friends, that they would never meet, again, even after his death. Oaths were lightly taken in those days, and neither of the gay youths was likely to resist the will of the stern old monarch; so the pledge was taken, and the Prince of Wales remained lonely and dispirited, while Piers hovered on the outskirts of the English dominions, watching for tidings that could hardly be long in coming.

So much did Edward I. dread his influence, that, on his deathbed, he obliged his son to renew his abjuration of Gaveston’s company, and laid him under his paternal malediction should he attempt to recall him. It does not appear that Gaveston waited for a summons. He hurried to present himself before his royal friend, who had, in pursuance of his father’s orders, advanced as far as Cumnock, in Ayrshire.

Both had bitterly to rue their broken faith, and heavily did the father’s curse weigh upon them; but at first there was nothing but transport in their meeting. The merry Piers renewed his jests and gayeties; he set himself to devise frolics and pageantries for his young master, and speedily persuaded him to cease from the toils of war in dreary Scotland, and turn his face homeward to the more congenial delights of his coronation, and his marriage with the fairest maiden in Europe. To have made peace with Bruce because the war was an unjust aggression, would have been noble; but it was base neither to fight nor to treat, and to leave unsupported the brave men who held castles in his name in the heart of the enemy’s country. But Edward was only twenty-two, Gaveston little older, and sport was their thought, instead of honor or principle. Piers even mocked at the last commands of the great Edward, and not only persuaded the new King to let the funeral take place without waiting for the conquest of Scotland, but to bestow on him even the bequest set apart for the maintenance of the knights in Palestine. At Dumfries, on his first arrival, the coveted earldom of Cornwall was granted to him; and, on his return, he was married to the King’s niece, Margaret de Clare, daughter to Joan of Acre. He held his head higher than ever, and showed great discourtesy to the nobility. He had announced a tournament at Wallingford in honor of his wedding, and hearing that a party of knights were coming to the assistance of the barons who had accepted his encounter, he sallied out privately with his followers, and attacked and dispersed the allies, so as to have the advantage in his own hands in the melée. Such a dishonorable trick was never forgotten, though probably the root was chiefly vanity, which seems to have been the origin of all his crimes, and of his ruin.

The chancellor and all the late King’s tried ministers were displaced, and some, among whom was the good Bishop of Litchfield, were imprisoned for two years. Gaveston, without any regular appointment, took the great seal into his own keeping, and set it to charters which he filled up after his fancy. In the meantime, the King set off for France, to celebrate his marriage with Isabel, the daughter of Philippe le Bel, the princess for whose sake the Flemish maiden was pining to death in captivity. The seal of this most wretched of unions was, that Philippe took this opportunity of persuading the gentle, reluctant Edward II, to withdraw his protection from the Templars in his dominions, and give them up to the horrible cruelty and rapacity of their exterminator. Isabel’s dowry was furnished from their spoils. The wedding took place on St. Paul’s Day, 1308, in the presence of four kings and queens, and the festivities lasted a fortnight; after which the young bride and bridegroom set off on their return to Dover, where Edward’s favorite sister, Elizabeth, was already come to greet the little Queen, a beautiful girl of thirteen, proud, high-spirited, and exacting, very unwilling to be treated as a child. Her two uncles came with her, and a splendid train of nobles; and two days after their landing, Gaveston arrived at Dover, when, at first sight of him, Edward rushed into his arms, calling him brother, and disregarding every one else. Almost at the same time the King gave his favorite the whole of the rich jewelry and other gifts which had been bestowed on him by his father-in-law, Philippe le Bel; and this was regarded as a great affront by the young Queen and her uncles. Gavest