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their mouldering tenants. Even the villagers living close to their green
precincts are ignorant of the history of the great fight^ whose victims lie
beneath the heaped up turf.

The immense number of Flemings brought over from their own country
to assist in the war against Henry II. may be inferred from the circum-
stance that after the disastrous issue of the battle of Fornham to the
rebels, permission was given to the foreign forces to pass back to their
own country, and no less than 14,000 Flemings marched through the
middle of Suffolk on their way to the coast, where they embarked for
their own land.

After this victory the royal general marched against the Earl of Norfolk,
who withdrew to France, but returning soon afterwards with an army of
Flemings, he took the city of Norwich, which he plundered and burned.
He also fortified the castle, and put in it a large garrison of Flemings.
The King, who was in Normandy, being informed of these proceedings,
hastened back to England, and assembling his troops on all sides, ordered
their rendezvous at Bury. With this army, Henry marched to chastise
tlae earl, and having demolished his castles at Ipswich and Walton,
advanced towards his other places of strength at Framlingham and
Bungay ; but the earl finding that any further opposition would be
unavailing, submitted to the King, and thus terminated the contest. The
citizens of Norwich behaved bravely on the occasion, and on Bigod^s
surrendering the castle, the King was so much pleased with the people
that he granted them a new charter, which is still extant in their guildhall.

During the reign of Henry II. the barons were virtually the masters of
the country, oppressing the people and controlling the sovereign. To
counteract this tyranny, the King adopted the policy of raising and
strengthening the commercial classes, while he depressed the power of the
barons. He chartered and largely extended the privileges of many towns
in the eastern and other counties, amongst them those of Colchester,
and Maldon in Essex, Ipswich in Suffolk, Norwich, Yarmouth, and
Lynn in Norfolk. In order to reduce the power of the barons the King*
set about the dangerous task of demolishing all their recently-erected
castles j but in this he did not succeed.

The owners of all the castles murmured, some resisted. Hugh Mortimer
resolved to hold his castle of Brignorth in Essex, and at the siege
which followed an affecting instance occurred of loyal devotion. In an
affray before the walls, a brawny warrior aimed a death blow at the person
of the King ; Hubert, the governor of Colchester, perceived the blow
descending, and flinging himself before the monarch, received it, sacri-
ficing his own life in saving that of the sovereign. Royal gratitude for


the noble deed was shown in the care and protection of Hubert's only
daughter, for whom the King found a meet husband in William de Lang-
vale, who succeeded her father in the rule of the burgh.

Richard de Lucy of Diss was the Lord Cliiof Justice of England, who,
liaving the command of a division of the army, fought victoriously in
support of the cause of his sovereign, Henry II., against the rebel force led
by Earl Robert, at the sanguinary battle of Fornham St. Genevieve, on
October 2 7tli, 1 1 73. In those feudal days, judges, bishops, and archbishops
were all warriors ; neither law nor divinity was any bar to their taking up
arms as liege subjects at one time or as rebels at another time.

The reign of Henry II. is of much interest in our ecclesiastical history,
on account of the contest between the sovereign and the clergy. The
latter, since the time of the separation of the ecclesiastical from the civil
jurisdictions, had endeavoured to introduce into their courts causes which
really appertained to the secular judges ; and further maintained that
members of their body, when charged with the most heinous offences,
could only be tried before ecclesiastics, who never inflicted heavy punish-
ments on clerical delinquents. It was to check this aggressive spirit that
Becket was appointed archbishop, but he resolved to extend rather than
to limit the privileges of his order.

It is worthy of notice, as a proof of the good administration of justice
even in those troublous times, that at a council which was summoned in
the bishop's garden in Norwich, at which the King's steward sat as a
judge, assisted by the Bishops of Norwich and Ely, the Abbots of St.
Edmund and Holm, and most of the barons of the two counties. Sir
Robert FitzGilbert and Sir Adam de Hornyngesheth being charged
with conspiracy to seize the King, claimed these two knights as men of
the blessed martyr of St. Edmund and demanded respite of judgment
till he could have conference with the King. This being granted, the
abbot was told that all justice originally belonged to the county
court there ; they must therefore return back to the county and council
whence they came ; and whatever they did the King would abide by. On
producing their charters and liberties to the county court, it was observed
that a similar question had arisen in the time of Henry I. concerning the
liberties of St. Edmund, when it was allowed that all pleas, suits and
actions whatever, concerning any person in those liberties, excepting the
pleas of murder and treasure found, belonged to the court of St. Edmund,
and were to be tried by the abbot, his steward, or some officer appointed
by him. On this the liberties were returned and presented to the King's
steward as good, and the King confirmed by presentment. Soon after
the King went to Bury, where, by the mediation of the barons, he
pardoned the two knights. Thus, it appears, that in those days the


authority of the sliire or county courts was very great, for in them sat the
principal persons in the county to administer justice.

William Turbas, a Norman by birth, was appointed Bishop of Norwich
in 1146. He was chiefly concerned in the foundation of Buckenham
Priory. He was a warm defender of ecclesiastical rights and privileges,
and he espoused the cause of Thomas a Becket against Henry II. He
openly excommunicated Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, in the cathedral,
for which he was obliged to retire in order to escape from the wrath of
the King. He died in 11 74, and was buried in the north side of the choir.

John of Oxford, Dean of Salisbury, succeeded as Bishop of Norwich
in 1175. He was a man of great learning, one of the judges, and he wrote
several poetical works. He built the parish church of the Holy Trinity at
Ipswich. He died June 2nd, 1200, and was buried on the north side of
the choir in Norwich Cathedral.

During the Norman period, when prelates and abbots were appointed
to their dignities, they were required to pass through ceremonies before
they were ftilly recognised. They first received from the hands of the
King the ring and crosier (the emblems of their spiritual oflice), and this
ceremony was called their investiture ; they also, like all territorial
proprietors who held their estates from the crown, did homage by
kneeling before the King, putting their hands in liis hands, and in that
posture swearing fealty to him. Hence, it is apparent that as the
sovereign might refuse to grant investiture and to receive homage, his
assent became essential to the enjoyment of the profits of the higher
benefices. The sovereign, in fact, appointed the archbishops and bishops
who were his nominees for the time.

Henry II. granted the lordship of Bawdeswell, in Norfolk, to the Mont-
chesnys, and so it came to the Valences and Hastings, Earls of Pembroke,
and the Greys of Kent. In 1437, John Euderby Thomas Boughton
released this manor to J. Grey, Esq., of Ruthyn, and Sir Thomas
Wornton. From the Greys it came to the Somersets, Winwoods, Pilfields,
and Lombes.

An old Chronicle of Norwich, date of 1728, states that in 1165 "there
was a great earthquake in Norfolk, Suffolk, and the Isle of Ely, which
made the bells to ring in the steeples." The same authority records some
subsequent earthquakes in Norfolk, but whether they were really such
terrestrial disturbances is doubtful. In 1445, a general earthquake is
recorded to have taken place all over England, but little damage is
stated, so that it must have been only a slight shake of the island, or per-
haps only a tremble.

Soon after the Norman conquest many Jews settled in different towns
of the eastern counties, at Norwich, Yarmouth, Lynn, Bury St.


Edmund's, and other places, where they became very numerous. In 1179,
the Jews of Bury were accused of having murdered a boy, named Robert,
in derision of Christ's crucifixion, and of having committed the like
offences in other parts of England. They were banished the kingdom, but
they probably found means to make their peace in some places, for it ap-
pears that within ten years afterwards they had by their excessive usury
rendered themselves so odious to the nation, that the people rose with one
accord to destroy them. Among the rest many of those who lived in
Bury were surprised and put to death ; and such as escaped by the assis-
tance of the abbot Sampson, were expelled the town, and were never per-
mitted to return.

In the reign of Henry II., about 1100, Hubert Walter, then Dean of
York, founded West Dereham Abbey, having bought the land on which
it was built of Geffrey Fitz Geffrey, and belonging to his own fee or lord-
ship. It was dedicated to God and the Virgin Mary for regular canons
of the Premonstratensian Order, who were to pray for his own soul, the
souls of his father and mother, Ralph de Glanville, Justiciary of England
(who had the care of his education), and of Berta his wife. The founder was
a native of West Dereham, son of Hervey Walter, and brother of Theobald
Walter, Chief Butler of Ireland, from whom the noble family of Butler,
Dukes of Ormond, were descended. The first preferment in the church
tli,at we find him possessed of was a fourth part of the church of Felming-
ham, in Norfolk. After that he was Dean of York, one of the Barons of
the Exchequer, Bishop of Salisbury, and Archbishop of Canterbury, Legate
to the Pope, Lord Chancellor, and Chief Justice of England. No clergyman
before or after him had so great power and authority, and no man
ever used it with greater prudence and moderation, being the Prime
Minister of Richard I. and King John.

REIGN OF RICHARD I., 1189 to 1199.

Henry II. was succeeded by his second son, Richard L, whose exces-
sive bravery gained him the title of Coeur de Lion. He was well-informed,
his eyes were blue but full of fire, and his hair rather red. After having
concluded a peace with Philip Augustus, who gave him back Mans, and
the rest of the cities he had taken from Henry, Richard went to Rouen,
where the ducal sword was put into his hand on July 20th, 1189. He set
at liberty his mother. Queen Eleanor, who had been imprisoned sixteen
years ; crossed into England, and was crowned at Westminster on
September 3rd, in the same year. The rest of his reign belongs to the
history of the crusades. He exhausted his treasury by engaging in a
crusade, and to raise supplies, sold his claim to the sovereignty of Scotland
for 10,000 marks, then a very large sum.


He raised an army of 35,000 men in order to go to the wars in the
Holy Land, and invested his brother John with the government of six
counties, left the government of England to William Longchamp, Bishop
of Ely, his Chancellor, the Pope's Legate, in conjunction with the Bishop
of Durham ; crossed again into France ; had an interview with Philip at
Vezelai, June 25th, 1190; proceeded to Marseilles, and from thence to
Sicily, where he spent the winter with Philip who had also joined in
the crusade. A quarrel broke out between the two monarchs in that
country, for Tancred, King of Sicily, being disgusted at Richard,
endeavoured to engage the King of France in his quarrel, but Philip
being a wise prince, prevented so fatal a circumstance by marching to
Acre, then besieged by the Chi'istians.

Richard embarked some days after, when a storm arising, part of his
fleet was cast upon the coast of Cyprus, on which Isaac, King of that
island, imprisoned all who engaged in that shipwreck, and would not
permit either Princess Berengera of Navarre (betrothed to Eichard), or
the Queen Dowager of Sicily to shelter themselves in the harbour. This
cruelty was fatal to Isaac, for Richard defeated his troops, dispossessed
him of his cities, loaded him with silver chains, seized upon Cyprus where
he left strong garrisons, and after having consummated his marriage with
Berengera of Navarre in the city of Limisso in Cyprus, he went to the
camp before Acre, which city was taken. Then the quarrel between
Richard and Philip broke out afresh, for Richard having acquired a
superiority by his mihtary achievements, which greatly mortified the King
of France, his jealousy broke out on every occasion. Acre having been
taken in 1191, Philip falling extremely sick quitted the camp, and leaving
the command of his army to the Duke of Burgundy, sailed for France,
where he landed. King Richard continued to signalise himself, and sus-
tained his great reputation. On September 7th, 1191, he entirely
defeated the army of Saladin and killed 40,000 of his forces. He
repaired the cities of Ascalon, Joppa, and Cfesarea, which Saladin had
abandoned, after demolishing their fortifications. Soon after Richard
concluded a truce with Saladin, being abandoned by the Christian princes,
and set sail for England. In his voyage he was wrecked on the coast of
Istria, after which he attempted to travel through Germany in disguise.
He fell into the hands of Leopold, Duke of Austria, whom he had affronted
at the siege of Acre. The Duke kept him a close prisoner, and then
delivered him to the Emperor Henry VI., his sworn enemy, who kept him
in confinement till the English barons paid a ransom of 100,000 marks in
silver. King Richard being then set at liberty, after fifteen months
imprisonment, embarked at Antwerp for England, and arrived at Sand-
wich on March 13th, 1194, and was received by his people with great


rejoicings. In his absence for fonr years the King of France had
instigated his brother John to rebel, but the King on his retuni soon
resumed his authority.

Richard then passed over into France, where Philip was invading his
dominions. Eichard met his brother John at Rouen, where they were
reconciled, and the war was followed by a truce, and this was concluded
by a treaty of peace for five years. The treaty was ill observed on both
sides. Richard beseiged Chaluz in Limousin in order to obtain a treasure
which a gentleman of that province had discovered in his grounds. At
this siege the King was wounded by an arrow, and he died from the
wound on April 6th, 1199, in the tenth year of his reign, and the
forty-third of his age. He was buried at Fontevraud.

Richard being no friend of the Jews, commanded that none of them
should presume to be present at his coronation, but some of them dis-
obeyed the order, and this caused a disturbance. Many of the people fell
upon the Jews and chased thism to their houses, and killed some of them.
It being rumoured everywhere that the King did not favour the despised
Jews, the populace at Norwich, Lynn, and Bury rose against them and
robbed many of them.

Richard I. created Roger Bigod, son of Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk on
November 27th, 1189, and by this earl's influence the citizens of Norwich
obtained as ample a charter as the city of London then had. Before the
King went to the Holy War, as it was called, the citizens presented him
with a large sum of money, for which he granted them many privileges,
and ordained that they should be ruled by two head officers called bailiffs,
whom they should elect from among themselves every year.

The King paid a devotional visit to the shrine of St. Edmund at Bury
before he went to the Holy Land, and on his return he offered up the rich
standard of Isaac, King of Cyprus, at the shrine of St. Edmund.

In the reign of Richard I. in 1189, Roger, son of Hugh Bigod, was
created Earl of Norfolk. He added such strength to the fortifications of
the castle at Norwich that it was deemed impregnable. In 1193 he
obtained a new charter from the King, in which the people of Norwich
were first styled citizens, and empowered to choose provosts every year
out of their own body. In the next reign in 1199, John de Grey, after-
wards Bishop of Norwich, on the promise of 300 marks to be paid by the
citizens, obtained a confirmation of their liberties.

During the reign it is supposed that, though the trade of the country
generally did not increase, yet some of the artisan soldiers who returned
from the crusades, brought back a knowledge of some of the useful arts
in eastern Europe. The improvements introduced in England were of
little worth, owing to the troubles of the succeeding reigns. Yet it is


clear that owing to the influx of foreign artisans in Norwich the
manufactures there had been all along prosperous.

The Hundred of Eynesford^ in Norfolk, belonged to the crown till
Richard I., on his return from the Holy Land, granted it to Sir Baldwin de
Retun, Earl of Albemarle and Holderness, with the lordship of Foulsham,
from whom it came to William Mareschal, Earl of Pembroke ; from the
Marshals to Sir Robert de Morley, and from the Morleys to the Lovells,
and Parkers, Lords Morley. In 1852, Edward Parker, Lord Morley, sold
it to Thomas Hunt.


The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 led to a mighty change, and
entire revolution in the whole system of the country. William I. claimed
all the land, reserved 1400 manors and most of the towns for his own
share of the spoil, and divided the rest among his followers, who
expelled the Saxon thanes and took possession of the soil. Nearly all
the estates in the eastern counties changed hands without any payment
or compensation.

Earl Morton became possessed of 793 manors; Hugh de Albrincis
obtained the whole palatinate of Chester ; Allen, Earl of Brittany, 442
manors; Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, 493 manors, besides twenty -eight
towns or hamlets in Yorkshire ; and the large county of Norfolk was
divided amongst only sixty-six Norman warriors. The holders of these
large estates usually resided on them, except when engaged in war.

The feudal system was established in England by chapters 52 and 58
of William^ 3 laws. By it the ultimate proprietorship of the whole
countiy was vested in the King. He granted out, however, large estates
to his followers, as before stated. These fiefs consisted, in some cases, of
one, in others of a large number of knights^ fees. Each fee comprised
twelve plough lands, and was valued in the reign of Edward II. at £20 per
anniim. It was such an amount of land as was deemed sufficient to
provide an armed knight in time of war. The entire number of knights'
fees in England was 60,215. The King was called the lord paramount or
suzerain, and those who held their estates of the crown tenants in capite
or tenants in chief, so that they were only occupiers or holders and not
owners of land.

Landed property was now chiefly held in four ways, which depended on
the services that the tenants were required to perform. These services
were either free or base ; free, if they were deemed honourable, such as
serving in war, or paying a sum of money ; base, if they were only suited
to persons of a servile condition, such as ploughing land and so on.
Hence we find the following : — 1 . Lands held by services free and nncer-


tain, known as knight service. 2. Lands liokl by service free and certain,
known as tenure or free socage. 3. Lands hekl by tenure, base and
certain, known as tenure in villenage socage. 4. Lands hekl by services
base and uncertain, as tenure in pure villenage.

The first kind of service was that which formed the most essential
element of the feudal system. Besides the ceremonies in connection with
the transfer of a fief, there were several services incident to the holding
of these estates. 1. Military aen-ice. — The knight was bound to attend
his lord to the wars for forty days in every year if required. 2. Aids. —
These were sums of money demanded on three occasions (a) , to make the
eldest son of a lord a knight ; (hj to marry his eldest daughter ; (cj to
ransom his person if taken prisoner. 3. Belief. — This was considered one
of the greatest grievances of the feudal system. It was a payment of
one hundred shillings for every knight's fee in case the heir had attained
the age of twenty- one.

The landholders in all the counties held their lands by feudal tenure
and military service. All the land in the country was liable to castle
guard service and many other kinds of service. The rights of landholders
were in many cases limited by rights of common enjoyed by the neigh-
bouring inhabitants ; but these rights the landholders began to absorb
gradually, sometimes by downright usurpation. While this process of
absorption w^as going on laws made by the landholders were put in force
intended to make sure that all the land they once got within their grip
should never get out of it.

War and the chase, the two ancient and deadliest foes to agriculture,
occupy too prominent a place in the history of the Norman Kings who
succeeded the Conqueror to afford much scope for industrial progress ;
and the story of the New Forest in Hampshire, with other instances of
tyrannical devastation in the northern parts of this island, assure us that
this was not an age of improvement. But it should be remembered
that the whole country was then like a waste wilderness with few enclosed
lands, while whole counties like Essex were covered with forests. Norfolk
was all a vast common like Roudham Heath, and few roads crossed the



That the conquest of Britain by the Normans contributed to the im-
provement of agriculture is undeniable. Ingulphus in his history says,
" For by that event many thousands of husbandmen, from the fertile and
well-cultivated plains of Flanders, France, and Normandy settled in this
island, obtained estates or farms, and employed the same methods in the
cultivation of them that they had used in their native countries. Some
of the Norman barons were great improvers of their lands, and are
celebrated in history for their skill in agriculture."

During the Norman period East Anglia was a wild uncultivated region
of heaths, bogs, and swamps. Thick woods, desolate wastes, expansive
sheets of water and rivers, which often overflowed their banks, formed
the physical aspect of the country. The Norman monks and some of the
nobility devoted much attention to agriculture. One of the latter,
Richard de Rules, chamberlain to William I., and lord of Brune and
Deeping, enclosed and drained a great extent of country, embanked the
Welland, and on the reclaimed tract planted orchards and cultivated
meadows and pastures. But notwithstanding all the improvements, we
have ample proof of the limited area to which operations were long

After the Norman conquest till the end of the twelfth century, the
inhabitants of most of the villages in Norfolk and Suffolk were either
customary tentints, and so bound to perform all their customary services
to their lords, or else villains, in plain English slaves, to their several
lords, who had so absolute a power that they could grant their wives
and children, born or to be born, together with all their household goods,
cattle, and chattels whatever, to whomsoever they pleased, and indeed
nothing is more common than to meet with grants of this nature in
former ages from one lord to another, or to whoever he would ; nay, so
absolute was the lord^s jurisdiction over them that they could not live out
of the precincts of the manor without their lord\s leave, nor marry their
children to another lord's tenant without their lord's license j but in all
ages men were naturally desirous of liberty, for these villains continually
endeavoured to procure their freedom, either by pleasing their lord so
much as to obtain a manumission, or by getting some friend or relation to
purchase it for them.

During the whole of the Norman period for a hundred years the whole
population of England did not exceed three millions, and of the eastern

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 58 of 70)