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shrine of the saint, and performed their devotions.

William, Lord Baynard, of Norfolk, rebelling against Henry I,, forfeited
his estates in that county, and one of them, at Bexwell, in the Hundred of
Clackclose, was granted by the King to Robert, a younger son of Richard
FitzGilbert, ancestor to the Earls of Clare. From this Robert the noble
family of Eitz Walter, barons of the realm, descended. In the time of
Henry IIL, John de Aula, or Hall, held the fourth part of a fee in Bexwell
(Nether Hall) of Robert, Lord Fitz Walter ; and in the reign of Edward
III. it was in the same family.

Henry I. built a country seat at Thetford, and often resided there. It
was the only town in eastern England which could boast of a royal palace,
which remained till the reign of James L, when it was pulled down and a
more magnificent house built in its place. Thetford, under the Norman
Kings, was a town of large extent and great importance, containing
many churches and monasteries, the remains of which may be traced at
the present day.

The early history of the industry of the eastern counties, and indeed
of all others in England, was almost entirely agricultural. Down to a
comparatively recent period. East Anglia was a great grazing district, and
wool was its principal production. Matthew Paris wrote, " The ribs of
all nations throughout the world are kept warm by the fleeces of English
wool.'' The people being as yet unskilled in the arts of manufacture, the
wool was bought up by foreign merchants, and exported abroad in large
quantities, chiefly to Flanders and France, where it was spun and woven
into cloth, and partly returned in that form for sale in the English mar-
kets. The wool and its growers were on the English side of the sea, and
the skilled workmen who made it into cloth on the other. When wars
broke out, and intercourse between the two shores was interrupted, as


mucli distress was occasioned in Flanders as in England. In the reign of
Henry !._, tlie Flemings began to emigrate from tlieir own country to Eng-
land in consequence of tlie severity of the regulations enforced by the
guilds or trades^ unions in various towns. Many of them came into
Norfolk^ and first settled at Worstead, then at Norwich, where they intro-
duced the manufacture of worsted stuffs, which soon gave rise to a great
trade in the city and county.

King Henry I. granted the manor of Diss, with the advowson and
Hundred of Diss, to Sir Richard de Lucy, a Norman knight, a man of great
renown in those days, for his services to the crown. This knight was
governor of Falaise, in Normandy, the third year of King Stephen, which
place he manfully defended against Jeffery, Earl of Anjou, who had
besieged it. The Tower of London and Castle of Winchester were put
into his hands on condition that he should deliver them up on King
Stephen^s death to King Henry IL, and this he did, and it so far advanced
him in royal favour that the King made him Chief Justice of England,
and in his absence he was appointed Governor of the Realm.

During the time he was Governor, in 1173, he encountered an army of
Flemings near Fornham, in Suffolk, and in a pitched battle he took
prisoner Robert, Earl of Leicester, together with his Amazonian proud
Countess Petronell, and routed 10,000 Flemings which the Earl of
Leicester had brought into Suffolk. Most part of these Flemings were
buried in or about Fornham in 1173. Their sepulchres are to be seen in
mounds near a place called Rymer House, on the right hand of the road
leading from Watford to Bury St. Edmund^s, and are now called the Seven
Hills, though there are many more, but seven of them being much larger
than the rest are more particularly noticed by those who pass that way.

In 1179 Richard de Lucy, Chief Justice of England, died and was
buried in the choir of the Abbey Church at Lisnes in Kent, which he had
founded, and where he had taken upon him the habit of a canon regular
in the previous year. From this Richard de Lucy the manor of Diss
passed to Sir Walter FitzRobert, son of Robert de Tonebrigge, the fifth
son of Richard FitzGilbert, surnamed de Tonebrigge, who came in with
the Conqueror, of whose gift he had the castle and town of Clare, in
Suffolk, and Tunbridge, in Kent, and other lordships in England. He
was Justice Itinerant in Norfolk and Suffolk, and died in 1198, being
buried in the midst of the choir of the priory church of Little Dunmowe,
in Essex, of which Robert de Tonebrigge, his father was the first founder.
He left Robert the Valiant his heir. This Sir Robert Fitz Walter, called
Robert the Valiant, was leader of those barons who rose against King
John, and Mr. Weaver in his book on Dunmow, states the cause of the
revolt of the barons.


REIGN OF STEPHEN, A.D 1135 tO 1154.

King Henry I. died in 1135 in Normandy, thinking that he had left a
crown undisputed to his daughter and his grandson ; but it happened far
otherwise, for on the first news of the King's death, Stephen of Blois, his
nephew, sailed for England, where he was elected King by the prelates,
earls, and barons who had sworn to give the kingdom to Matilda. The
Bishop of Salisbury declared that this oath was void because the King had
married his daughter without the consent of the lords ; others said it
would be shameful for so many knights to be under the orders of a woman.
Stephen of Blois was very popular for some time -svith the Anglo-Normans
on account of his tried valour and his affable and generous disposition.
The first portion of his reign was peaceful and happy, at least for the
Norman race. Geofiroy of Anjou, the husband of ]\Iatilda, agreed to
remain at peace with him for a pension of 5000 marks, and Eobert of
Gloucester, natural son of the late King, who at first intended to vindicate
the rights of his sister, took the oath of allegiance to Stephen. But this
calm did not last long. Towards the year 1137 many young barons and
knights, who had fruitlessly demanded of the new King a portion of his
demesne lands and castles, proceeded to take forcible possession of them.
Hugh Bigod seized Norwich Castle ; one Robert, that of Badington ; the
King recovered both, but the spirit of opposition went on gaining strength
from the first moment of its manifestation. The bastard son of King
Henry I. suddenly broke the peace he had sworn to Stephen, and sent a
message from Normandy defying him and renouncing his homage. The
malcontents, encouraged by the defection of the late King's son, were in
movement throughout the eastern counties and indeed all England, pre-
paring for the contest. ''^They have made me King," said Stephen, '^and
now they abandon me ; but by the birth of God, they shall never call me
a deposed King.'' In order to secure an army on which he could depend,
he collected mercenaries from all parts of Gaul. As he promised good
pay, the soldiers hastened to enrol themselves ; horsemen and light
infantry, especially Flemish and Bretons.

The Normans in England were thus divided into two hostile factions,
but the English stood apart. In the quarrel between Stephen and the
partisans of Matilda they were neither for the King nor the princess.
They resolved to act for themselves and formed a consjjiracy for the
freedom of the country. On an appointed day all the Normans in Norfolk,
Suffolk, and all other counties, were to be killed. The enterprise failed
because a disclosure of it reached the Norman Richard Lenoir, Bishop of
Ely, under tbe seal of confession. He soon communicated his discovery
to the other Bishops, but notwithstanding the promptitude of their
measures many of the conspirators had time to fly. The numbers


who were taken perislied on tlie gibbet or by otliei' means. This event
took place sixty-six years after the last defeat of the insurgents of Ely
and seventy -two after the battle of Hastings. Whether the old chroniclers
have not told us all, or whether after this time the tie which bound Saxon
to Saxon could not be renewed, it certainly appears that no further pro-
jects of deliverance formed by common accord among all classes of the
oppressed people occurred in the succeeding ages.

But the Norman inhabitants of Bast Angiia did not tamely submit to
King Stephen. While engaged in a troublesome war, an insurrection
broke out in the eastern district. Again the marshy lands of Ely which
had served as a refuge to the last of the free Saxons, became a camp for
the Normans of the Angevin faction. Baldwin de Eiviers, or Eedvers,
Earl of Devonshire, and Lenoir, Bishop of Ely, raised against the King
intrenchments of brick and mortar in the very place where Hereward had
erected a fortress of wood. It was not out of personal zeal for King
Stephen that Lenoir served the King against the Saxons, but from
patriotism as a Norman, and as soon as the Normans had declared against
Stephen, Lenoir joined them, and undertook to make the islands of his
watery diocese a rendezvous for the friends of Matilda, Stephen attacked
his adversaries in this camp successfully. He constructed bridges of boats
over which his cavalry passed and completely routed the troops of Bald-
win and Lenoir. The Bishop then fled to Gloucester.

During the reign of the usurper Stephen, eastern England lay in the
sullen quietude of despotism. There are few events on record, but there
is no doubt that the whole district suffered in the wild struggle for the
throne, and was scourged by the feudal system, then at its height. The
family of Suene, the hereditary Earl of Essex, appear to have embraced the
cause of Matilda, as we find tlie monarch conferred that title which carried
with it the rule of the county of Essex upon the Geoffrey de Mandeville
who ruled in baronial state at Saffron Walden. This nobleman, however,
soon deserted him. Lured by the winning smiles and more substantial
offers of the princess, which included ample grants of land, he prepared
to go over to her standard. The King being informed of this, seized him
at St. Alban^s, stripped him of his honours, and extorted from him the
surrender of the castles of Walden and Fleshy, The proud earl, thus
deprived of his fortresses, and with them of the power he had plotted to
carry over to the rival of Stephen, became the chieftain of a band of
political outlaws, was excommunicated for plundering Eamsay Abbey, and
was at length killed by an arrow before Burwell Castle, in Cambridgeshire.
It is related that a party of Knights Templars, who were accidentally
passing, took his body, enclosed it in a leaden coffin, and carrying it with
them, hung it upon a tree in the orchard of the old Temple, London. So


fearful was tlie sentence of excumnranicatiou in those days, that they durst
not bury it.

At this time eastern England was desolated by the fierce wars which
the barons, freed from the control of government, carried on with each
other to such an extent that the land was left unfilled, the instruments of
husbandry were abandoned or destroyed, and a grievous famine was the
result. These feuds clothed by the cliaracter of the reign of Stephen in
the garb of a pubhc cause, devastcd the villages in the eastern counties.
T'he knights and vassals of the nobles mustered against each other, fought
battles, and the victors carried away captives, but there are no records of
the strife, hke that of so many kites and crows.

In the reign of King Stephen the citizens of Norwich used all the interest
they could with that monarch to have a new charter, and to be governed by
coroners and baihfis instead of their provost, but the affair took a
contrary turn to what they expected, for before the end of the year 1135,
the King fell into a lethargy which caused a report that he was dead.
Then Hugh Bigod refused to render up the custody of the castle because
he found that William de Blois, natural son of the King, wanted to
supplant him, but the King seized the liberties of the city and granted it
to his natural son William. In 1140 the liberties were restored to the

In this reign more Flemish weavers came over the seas to the eastern
counties ; and these successive migrations hither were a real blessing to
the land. England hitherto had not been a country of manufactures till the
arrival of the foreigners, who introduced the arts of the preparation,
spinning, weaving, and dying of wool, so that in process of time not only
the home market was abundantly suppHed with woollen cloth, but a large
surplus was made for exportation.

King Stephen created Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk, which was again
confirmed to him by King Henry II., together with the stewardship of
that King's household. Yet notwithstanding all these favours he took
part with the Earl of Leicester in his rebellion, adhering to young Henry
in his rebellious practices, but meeting with no success he was forced to
make his peace with the King for a fine of 1000 marks. Not long after
he went into the Holy Land with the Earl of Flanders and there died in
1177, upon vrhich the King seized all his treasure and kept possession of it.

King Stephen, by letters patent, granted the Hundi-eds of East and
West Flegg in East Norfolk to Henry, his nephew, then abbot, and the
monks of St. Bennet, in that Hundred. In the 18th of Henry IIL, the
year 1294, a composition was made between the Abbot of St. Bennet and
the Prior of Norwich about wi'eck at sea between PaUing Cross and
Yarmouth Cross, two parts of the wreck beiug assigned to the abbot and

496 HISTORY or eastern ENGLAND.

the third part to the prior. The two Hundreds with the Hundred of
Happing were valued in 1250 at £18, and farmed by William de Brugh
for that sum in 1266.

In 1163 Ipswich and Bungay were besieged by Bang Stephen ; and his
son Eustace committed great ravages at the same time in the neighbour-
hood of Bury St. Edmund^s. Soou after the treaty concluded by King
Stephen with Henry, son of the Empress Maud, by which the latter was
acknowledged his successor, Eustace came to Bury and demanded of the
abbey and convent considerable supplies of money and provisions to
enable him to assert his claim to the throne. On the refusal of the abbot
to comply with the requisition that prince ordered the granaries of the
monastery to be plundered, and many of the farms belonging to it to be
ravaged. In the midst of this violent proceeding he was seized with a
fever, and expired at Bury on St. Lawrence Day, 1153, in the eighteenth
year of his age.

The condition of the eastern counties, and indeed of all England, during
Stephen^s reign was the worst in our entire history. Both the competitors
connived at the excesses of their adherents, and both parties were eager to
retaliate. Baronial castles, as at Normch, Bungay, Framlingham, covered
the country ; even abbeys and other religious buildings were converted
into fortresses, and the occuj)iers, secure within their walls and moats, set
the restraints of law and justice at defiance. They plundered the country,
maltreated the people, and imprisoned those who had property.

REIGN OP HENRY II., A.D. 1154 to 1189.

Henry 11., the first King of the House of Plantagenet, was the son of
Geoffrey Plantagenet, Earl of Anjou, by his wife Maud or Matilda
the Empress, daughter and heir of Henry I. Matilda was the
daughter of Malcolm III., King of Scots, by Margaret his wife, the
daughter of Edward, the son of Edmund, surnamed Ironside, King of
England of the Saxon race. Thus in him the blood of the Saxon race
was restored, greatly to the joy of the English, who detested the Normans
and cherished with veneration the memory of their former sovereigns.

As soon as Henry II. was crowned in 1155 he prevailed with Hugh
Bigod to yield up all his castles to him, which he did acccordingly, by
which the whole right was vested in the Crown, and the King governed
the city of Norwich by the sheriff for some time, and he paid the profits
accruing from it into the Exchequer. About 1163, Hugh Bigod came
again into favour with the King by means of Henry, the King^s son, who
did him what service he could in order to draw him over to his party,
whenever he, (the Prince Henry) should attempt to wrest the crown from
his father.


Prince Henry, the second son of Henry II., Avas crowned King in the
hfetime of his indulgent father. The prince married Margaret, Princess
of Franco. Lewis, King of France, persuaded his son-in-law, that by the
coronation ceremony, he had acquired a title to sovereignty. Young Henry
on his return from France to his father's court,, desired the King to resign to
him either the Crown of England or the Duchy of Normandy, and in con-
sequence of the King's refusal, went to Paris, and he, with his brothers,
united against their father, being aided by many poAverful barons in
England, including several in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Prince Henry rebelling against his father the King, promised to Hugh
Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, amongst other things, that he and his heirs should
have the custody of Norwich Castle, in order to keep the earl in his'
interest. The prince was also joined by Robert Bellemont, the Earl of
Leicester, in conjunction Avith Mowbray, Robert Ferrars, Earl of Derby,
and others. Robert Bellemont, or Blanchmains, as he was otherwise
called, assembled an army at Leicester, and made war in favour of the
prince ; but being defeated by the friends of the King, he was so closely
pressed that he was obliged to fly to France. He soon collected an army
of 3000 Flemings and passed over to England, and attempted to laud at
Dunwich, then a fortified city, but failing to land there he disembarked
his troops at Walton, on September 2l8t, 1173. After ravaging the
county of Suffolk he besieged Dunwich, but Walter dc Valeins the
governor, forced him to raise the siege. He then retired to the castle of
Framlingham, held by Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. Mr. Bird the
Suflfolk poet, has admirably depicted the scene of the siege : —

(J'er Albiun'.s realm the voice of faction rose •
From Henry's rude and iliscontented foes ;
The kind indulgent father with his son,
Shared the bright croAvn his Avisdoni valour won,
"NVliile the proud youth by envious barons swayed,
Against the King an aHen host arrayed,
And haughty Leicester who in arms had shone,
First of the brave defied him and his throne.
And leagued with fearless spirits spread afar
The flame of discord and the rage of war !
Hound Leicester's banner many a warrior pressed,
Earl Ferrars — Bigod — braver than the rest
The youthfid ^loAvbray, who in hall and boAvcr,
In joust and tournament, in war's rough hour.
Was all the gentle and the brave slioidd be,
The pride of dames the floAver of chivalry.
Alliu-ed with these were Flemisli warriors bold,
Tempted by Leicester's glory and his gold ;
Beneath his standard on the swelling main,
Embarked for love of tmuult and of gain,


Equipped for warlike deeds the Flemish host
Had plied their galiots to East Anglia's coasts ;
And now in secret lurked the desperate band,
And Avatch like wolves to seize this happy land,
On which its foes, however strong their trust,
May rush to mingle with the meanest dust.
Hark ! loud, far louder than the ocean spray
A shout came echoing from the distant bay,
While, from the rampart on the night wind borne,
Eang the deep warning of the warrior's horn.
That wildly breathed a dread portentous blast.
And sudden teiTor o'er the city cast.
Quick ceased the mirth Avhich there had ruled the fea
IJpsprang the warrior and uprose the priest.
While monks affrighted sought theu" lonely cells,
As clashed the arms of rousing sentinels ;
And hasty watchwords told of dangers nigh,
, And distant shouts soared mingling to the sky
From the rough shore, beneath whose lofty cliif
Light on the wave lay many a gallant skiff.
Who bounding comes in breathless haste along,
From yon high rock to join the city throng %
Who down the the ramparts speeds so swiftly now,
As speeds the ibex from the mountain's broAV ?
He gains St. Michael's Tower, and down the hill.
With heart wild beating bounds he faster still ;
Dark plumes are nodding on his hehn and pale
Gleam flickering moonbeans o'er his burnished mail^
On, on, he springs, beneath liis feet are crashing
Eough broom and brun, and from his eye is flashing
A living flame in which a spirit dwells.
That all the ardour of his bosom tells ;
His sword glares brightly in his hand while loud
His voice is heard among the trembling crowd,
Whose coward blood seems stagnate in their veins.
Till Avarned to life by Walter de Valeins.
Ann ! arm ! the foe is near ! a Flemish band.
Swift from their barks, are gathering on our strand ;
Strike now, or never ! strike ye ere too late
Foes tread our shore, and treason mars our state !
Courage, brave hearts ! each bold, each valiant one
Will guard his King against that faithless son.
Whose wild ambition and Avhose desperate hand
Urged by the restless barons of the land,
Would pluck the croAvn from that most Kingly brow
Which long hath borne and bears it wisely now !
Haste to the rampart ! let the boAAonen ply
From Avail and toAver their deadly archery !
And thou bold Edric of the Clifl" aAvay !
Lead on some chosen spearmen to the fray,
Speed to the beacon hill and nobly dare.
But Avait my signal for the onset there.
Quick from their barks on DunAvic's sounding shore,
Bold men had leaped ; the mighty billoAvs' roar


Was lost amid that droad aud reckless strife,

Wliich laughs at death aud ouly sports with life I

Brave Walter's haud had uiet the foeman's shock,

As waves are uiet by adauaautiue rock ;

They nobly dared, led ou by hiui Avho knew

Of fear as little as the sword he dre^v !

Short was the strife of clattering mail and spear ;

Forced to the beach, the Flemish host in fear

Fled to their barks, tliough some more madly brave,

F'ought till their heart's blood mingled with the waves !

That siege left traces at Dunwich which might be seen even in this
century, according to Gardner the local historian. On the east and west
of the city, a rampart was raised of earth fortified upon the summit with
palisades, and the base with a deep fosse, part of which with the bank
terminating at the north end of the Sea Fields. This rampart, it is said,
was erected as a fortification against the attack of Robert Bellemont,
Earl of Leicester. After raising the siege as before stated, he retired to
the castle at Framlingham, then in the possession of Hugh Bigod who
was favourable to the cause. The castle was a spacious and noble
structure, the surrounding walls including an area of nearly an acre and
a-half. The walls were forty-four feet in height aud eight feet in thick-
ness, defended by thirteen square towers of considerably greater elevation,
two being watch towers. The whole was surrounded by a double moat,
over the inner of which Avas a drawbridge. After some days spent in
this fortre-s in refreshing his troops, he was joined by another force of
Flemings and proceeded to the castle of Haughley, commanded by Ralph
Broc who espoused the cause of the old King.

The excursion was made for the purpose of showing the immense body of
Flemings brought over by Leicester, to aid the rebel princes, the country
in which they were to do battle. The siege was bloody. Large numbers
of the foreign forces bit the dust, and the dead were gathered into heaps
and buried near the scene of slaughter. The rebels were, however,
successful, and the old castle was demolished. The victor after this
success retired to the Castle of Framlingham, where he refreshed his men.
Soon after he marched to the north, and on his way to Leicestershire, and
while passing Fornham St. Genevieve on October 27th, 1173, was attacked
by the King's troops, then lying at Bury St. Edmund's. The King having
assembled a large army at this place to oppose his rebellious sons, caused
the sacred standard of St. Edmund to be borne in front of his army, and
the victory was then ascribed to its influence on the minds of the soldiers.
The battle soon became general, and the result of the encounter was that
the rebel earl was completely routed, and 10,000 Flemings were slain upon
the field, and were buried in heaps where they fell. They He beneath the
mounds of earth which stand up like solitary monuments of a far earlier


age. The traveller passes these louely tombs^ heedless of the story of

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 57 of 70)