Francis Palgrave.

The history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) online

. (page 11 of 60)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

which never entered Guillaume's thoughts.
During the progress of the building, the work-
men, exploring the neighbourhood, discovered
certain ruins which offered hewn stone applicable
to the new constructions the remains of Saint
Eulalia's dilapidated Basilica.


The dread of profanation restrained the 927912
labourers from such a use of the consecrated
materials. When the circumstances became
known to their noble employer, he lamented the
abandonment of the antient fane : and, having ex-
pressed great contrition for the negligence which
left his palace without an altar, Guillaume (casting
all the blame upon the architect) directed that
an oratory should be built on the hallowed ground.
But the devotion which warmed him in the first
instance, suddenly cooled: an endowment could
not be spared ; and the expenditure, lavished on

his own house, was withheld from the House conduct

with re-

of God. " Let it be such as may remind me or s ?ect to

the chapel

my successors," quoth Guillaume, "to do some- 11 ^-

* mised to

thing better." Guillaume kept his word he made build -
the memorandum according to his promise, but
he had promised nothing save the memorandum,
and he gave nothing more. The scattered frag-
ments and worthless rubbish were employed in
raising a small mean chapel, over which his Ducal
palace frowned. From this settlement originated
the town of Fecamp, where the Abbey, testifying
the piety of Guillaume's son and grandson, who
compensated for their ancestor's neglect, became
afterwards so conspicuous in the civil and eccle-
siastical annals of the Duchy.

18. Socially, morally and politically, Guil- gj* ^
laume Longue-epee now connected himself more

intimately with the Frenchmen and with France, re



927-942 adopting the terms "Frenchmen" and "France"
^__d^ according to their widest modern meaning. The
932933 difF erence O f languages and the severance of the
dynasties had estranged Germany : Italy, always
least congenial, despised the Tramontanes, herself
despised by them : the antient unity which once
pervaded the Carlovingian Empire was feebly
recognized: yet all Carlovingian France was
animated by a consentaneousness of feeling, of
sentiment, and of nationality, in the aggregate,
however chequered in the detail. Counties and
Duchies and Populations, and Counts and Dukes
and People, quarrelled amongst themselves. Gibes
and taunts were exchanged : they waged mutual
wars, and wars against the Sovereign; yet no
one absolutely repudiated the other as an alien.
Guillaume Longue-epee acknowledged this prin-
ciple of comprehension to the fullest extent : he
opened his dominions to all who sought him.
Gracious to his inferiors and cultivating the
acquaintance of his compeers he w r as peculiarly
proud of his alliance with Hugh-le-Grand, though
he equally courted the friendship of Count Her-
bert, Hugh-le-Grand's formidable rival. Was not
Count Herbert Guillaume's kinsman? Did not
Guillaume also belong to Herbert's illustrious
Favour lineage, noble, royal, imperial Vermandois ?

Guillaume's views, thus far, were prudent and

man e e or sagacious i what statesman could have judged


party. otherwise ? That the Northmen should assimilate


themselves to the French was essential for their 927912
prosperity. Moreover this mode of action was XlXZI^
prompted by his taste ; and here lurked the 932 ~ 933
danger. Sorely are we seduced to imprudence,
error, or iniquity, when any line of conduct, being
in itself justifiable nay, meritorious is also con-
formable to our natural inclinations, agreeable
to our imagination, attractive to our fancy, and
above all, conducive to our own worldly interests.
We are mastered by the united impulses, and hur-
ried on to danger or destruction.

Guillaume Longue-e'peVs policy was wise,
but he overdid it. He seemed bewitched by the
French, gave so much encouragement to those
of the Romane tongue, was so profusely boun-
tiful to his mother's kinsmen and connexions,
that the Danish party were provoked to exceeding

iealousy. French ascendancy would surely en- Discontent

. . of the Da-

gender Danish subjugation: their Duke, becoming JjfjjiJ^'

more and more uncongenial and alienated, would !? ad . er of

tne insur-

oust them from power and deprive them of their rection -
lands. These apprehensions spread widely a-
niongst all who set themselves against the French,
all who were Danish Northmen, or were allied to
them, all who, though not of Danish blood, were
attracted to the Danish party. Such was Count
Riulph, who suddenly appears as the leader of the
anti-Gallican insurrection. Some scanty scattered
particulars may be recovered concerning this
Count of the Cotentin border, just sufficient to



927942 enable us to guess his position in the Frankish

] C^ community. His son, " Anquetil-le-Preux," ac-

932-933 com p an i ec i hi m i n the fatal war. Riulph's


nephew, who afterwards obtained direful cele-
brity, is variously named or described as " Balzo,"
"Bauces," "Fauces," "Balduinus," or "Balduinus
Curtus," and is said to have been the son of a
Count of Cambrai. Therefore Riulph was either
the brother-in-law, or the brother of that Count :
but Balzo, as we ascertain from the most incon-
testable evidence, a royal charter, was related in
blood equally to the family of Charles-le-Simple
and to Arnoul, Count of Flanders, in whose
household he held the office of Chamberlain, so
that Riulph, Balzo's father, must have been con-
nected with both of them. The consequences
resulting from the insurrection are so deeply
important, that even these imperfect notices are
very valuable, as tending to elucidate future por-
tions of Norman history, as obscure as they are

Convening the discontented Captains and No-
bles of the Danishry, Riulph expatiated upon
their approaching peril What rescue could be
found? Unity of purpose and suddenness of
action; nothing else could save them from
spoliation, nay, absolute servitude. Guillaume
Longue-epeVs maternal ancestry, his relationship
with noble Vermandois, his intimacy with France,
his Romane cultivation, manners and fluent


speech, the results of Hollo's care, the reasons 027942
which had operated so forcibly in his favour "T^ '
when he was called to the succession, now 932 ~~ 93a
afforded the arguments for his rejection. All his
advantages told against him. . Guillaume ruled
as a Frenchman : and therefore the insurgents
declared that his authority must, in the first in-
stance, be maimed by compelling him to cede the
whole Terra Normannorum westward of the river
Rile. If he agreed, military service would be
rendered to him, if he refused war. This was
the tenor of the threatening message conveyed
to him. The conditions propounded would have
created an independent Norman State, probably
under Count Riulph. The territory required by
the insurgents constituted two-thirds (or more)
of Guillaume's dominions. Had the Confederates
effected this dismemberment, they would soon
have obtained the remainder : indeed, it was the
expectation of attaining this result which prompt-
ed their demand.

Guillaume Longue-epee was unable to meet Gun.
this exigency. Like his bold father before the terror.
walls of Chartres, he was suddenly stricken by
panic fear. Palsied by terror, his powers of judg-
ment seemed wholly lost his faculties sustained
a thorough collapse ; he acted as if resistance
were impossible. The Insurgents were yet dis-
tant, beyond the Seine. His Capital was skilfully
fortified, walls and towers tall and strong. His


927942 three most influential chieftains, Oslac, courteous

^ ^ _ - _ *

__ * . Botho Count of Bayeux, and Bernard the grey-
bearded Dane, continued faithful ; good men and
true were they, trusty, affectionate and sage.
Moreover, a chosen body of soldiery, three hun-
dred of the elite, held to him loyally ; thus sup-
ported, he might surely have defied the enemy.
But he persisted in his bewilderment; no pre-
cautions were adopted to obstruct or impede the
advance of the Insurgents, no outposts stationed,
no council held, no means of defence employed.
Upon one object only could Guillaume collect his
thoughts. Espriota great with child Espriota's
safety. The burthened consort was sent by her
anxious and affectionate husband to the newly-
erected Palace of Fecamp, so that she might
speedily cross over to England, and dwell there
with the royal exiles, the young Louis and Ogiva,
sheltered by magnanimous Athelstane's friendship
and hospitality. His own Norman sovereignty
Guillaume deemed to be lost.

19. Guillaume Longue-epee retreated into
Rouen with his adherents, and, offering terms,
vainly attempted to effect a pacification. Terri-
tory he could not consent to surrender ; but his

treasure and stores, his armoury's contents, should
all be theirs ; baldricks and bracelets, helms and
hauberks, battle-axes and swords, decked and
adorned with gems and gold. His opponents
should enjoy his highest confidence and exclusive


favour. Whatever they, his perpetual Councillors, 927942
enjoined, he would obey : raise up or cast down _/v_,
according to their desire : their advice should
govern the country ; and his authority be in all
respects subordinate to theirs Normandy would
become a Commonwealth, in which the Duke
might enjoy an honorary precedence, but their
power would be pre-excellent above his own.

Again, Guillaume Longue-epee, if sincere
and could he be sincere ?- -did overmuch. Instead His offers
of inspiring gratitude, the extravagant liberality
of this constitutional charter excited vehement
suspicion. The Insurgents could not believe him
a French device to cheat us, said they. He
wishes to gain time, and then he will come down
upon us with all the power of his French friends
and French allies. No impediment was offered.
Onwards the revolters marched, the people join-
ing them. They crossed the broad and flowing The in-


Seine ; and, directing their route along the North- ma?ch to

T-I Rouen, and

ern bank, stationed themselves opposite Kollo s station


castle, Guillaume's palace, the citadel of Rouen, fore the
The position they occupied was then an open
mead, now covered with avenues, buildings and

The actual presence of the Insurgents en-
creased Guillaume's dismay. Another despairing
attempt was made by the trembling Sovereign
they should have all they asked all the country
as far as the Rile, and more all the territory


927942 between the Rile and the Seine to be theirs also.

Nothing would remain to him except the rem-
132933 nan t between Seine and Epte, that is to say
the Pays de Caux, portions of the Vexin and the
Rouennois, and his city of Rouen. The suspi-
cions, the distrust, and also the boldness of the
Insurgents, encreased in proportion to the widen-
Further i n g extent of Guillaume's concessions. If not

concessions -\ i ,'r* -i ,

proposed despised as an artmce, his proposition must be
construed as amounting to a virtual abdication.

also re- The land he offers to give us, said they, is not his


to give we have got it, he is a stranger to us,
our natural enemy, he shall no longer rule over
us in anywise, let him, if he thinks fit, take refuge
amongst his French kinsmen and French friends,
the sooner the better : we will have none of
him. Guillaume Longue-epee might be per-
mitted to evacuate the city. Thus far they would
respect the son of Rollo. But if he rejected the
offer, no further amnesty would be granted to
him the City stormed, and he and all his ad-
herents put to the sword.

Guiiiaume Distracted Guillaume assembled his Chief-
abandon 3 ' tains and soldiery, and sallied forth from Rouen,

Normandy. . . .

marshalling his troops upon a rising ground, the
Mont Riboudet, whence he could observe the
enemy's forces. His sight confused by terror, the
insurgent Host appeared to him overwhelming:
he would make any sacrifice by which he might
purchase a respite from the impending danger.


Addressing Bernard the Dane, he declared his 927942
determination of abandoning Normandy, and ^IZXZ^
taking refuge with his good uncle Bernard de
Senlis, now, thanks to Count Herbert, Lord of
Coucy he would dwell under his uncle's protec-
tion until, through that powerful kinsman's help
and advice, he could obtain the assistance of the
French armies, and exterminate the rebels.

20. To Bernard the Dane, though so Bernard

faithful and affectionate, this craven cowardice i
was intolerable. The proud and antient warrior
spurned the allegiance he had rendered to the
degenerate son of Hollo : he bitterly upbraided
Guillaume his intention was equally disgraceful
and perilous if Guillaume the refugee, and any
who adhered to him, entered France, they would
assuredly be cut off by the inimical people, still
smarting from the Danish ravages ; mourning
over the extorted Dane-geld.

As far as the Epte, he, Bernard, and the
soldiery would escort Guillaume, and then, desti-
tute of Leader and Chieftain, embark in a body for
Denmark their distant fatherland, and abandon
Normandy for ever. These stinging reproaches
aroused Guillaume Longue-epee as from a trance.
His courage rose as suddenly as it had sunk he
himself would at once lead his forces on to battle,
literally lead them, foremost in the charge, the
bearer of the Standard. His three hundred good
men, trusty and true, came forward, swore they


927942 would live or die with their Duke, and, according

"l^^M^^Kk. f^^^^K^t

, ^_, to the most antient Teutonic usage, the con-
current clashes of battle-axes and swords, the
ftarditm, the wappentak, testified their solemn

Defeat of The insurgents were completely routed. We

the insur- _ , _ _ __^ -i i i i i i ini

gents. The lose sight oi Rmlph in the woods, whither he tied,

"Predela .

bataiiie." and, in the first instance, escaped the pursuit of
the infuriated soldiery; but he afterwards fell
into Guillaume's hands, and perished miserably.
It is most probable that Riulph, blinded by Guil-
laume's orders, died under the horrible opera-
tion; for his death excited among his kinsmen
an implacable hatred of the instigator of the
deed. One, at least, never rested till Riulph's
blood was avenged. His son Anquetil the brave
was reported to have been slain, not fairly, but
by device or fraud ? Brave Guillaume had been
unmanned by fear, fear instigated the gracious-
mannered Guillaume to cruelty: and Dudo, the
family eulogist, rejoices in recording the punish-
ment and destruction of the enemy.

Long afterwards was the triumph celebrated
by Norman minstrelsy.

Li pre de la bataille, fu 11 lieux apele
Encor dure li nom, ne fu puiz remuez.

The Poet of the Plantagenets lays much emphasis
upon the continuance of the traditional name
until his own time, but he did not anticipate the
long endurance which would be possessed by the


appellation commemorating a conflict, a memorial 927942
equally of Guillaume Longue-epee's faint-hearted- ^ZXII^
ness and valour. The Pre de la Bataille existed
as a green field within recollection. The natural
features of the site have been partially obliterated
by the structures which encircle the antient Nor-
man capital. Yet the locality, though more than
nine centuries have elapsed, is still recognizable,
and the antient designation well-known ; and this
is one of the examples of an unbroken tra-
dition confirming an almost legendary event in

Joy upon joy: very shortly afterwards, a
knight galloping through the Porte Cauchoise
rode into the Castle of Rouen, Fulcard, the jolly
messenger from Fecamp. On the very day when Birth of
the battle was fought and won, Espriota had been "Sana-

safely delivered of a male child, a noble babe,
an heir and successor. Guillaume Longue-epee
was filled with delight, and he immediately des-
patched the faithful Botho to take charge of the
Ducal household at Fecamp. Henry, Bishop of
Bayeux, accompanied the Count of Bayeux ; and
the child, Botho being sponsor, was baptized
" Richard ;" a name unsuggested by any known
family or social connexion, and to which tradition
afterwards added the epithet, " Sans-peur"

21. The suppression of this desperate re- conse-


bellion decided -for the present the great ques- suiting
tion whether Normandy should exist as Normandy, suppression

of the re-

or become extinct as a State. No Danish conquest


927942 in the Gauls had acquired stability so long as the
,_^__ > Northmen preserved their national identity ; and
the terra Normannorum, its occupants being
unable to maintain their ground, as a people,
would have merged in Hugh-le-Grand's Duchy.
The son of Duke Robert maintained a dormant,
but unrenounced claim, to the territory usurped
by Hollo-Robert ; and, that the Norman State
should be organized as a member of Carlovingian
France, was the condition of her vitality the
Normans must live as Frenchmen or disappear.
Guillaume, fully feeling this necessity, now de-
termined to remove, as far as was practicable,
the ambiguity of his political position. Do all
he would, the French had not really acknowledged
him as a Frenchman. In their hearts, they did
not own him, however fluently he spake the
language of France, however gay his garb, however
splendid his array, or whatever may have been
the civility he displayed. They grudged at the
son of Rollo, they were accustomed to call him
the Dux piratarum an expression much more
than contemptuous, inasmuch as the idea which
the denomination conveyed, absolutely excluded
the marked man from the social community.
Every Christian was entitled to retaliate upon
the cut-throat Pirate.

Guillaume Longue-epee had, however, become
the homager of King Charles, the dethroned
King, the deceased King. Death had dissolved
the bond; and Guillaume holding himself free,


had stood aloof from any further recognition of 927-942
the French Crown ; but Raoul would be glad ^~T]
enough to have him. He therefore spontaneously 932 33
imitated the example then so recently afforded by
the Princes of Aquitaine, thus again connecting
his dominion with the venerated monarchy. Un-
coerced, unsolicited, unassailed, Guillaume re-
paired to King Raoul, placed his hands between
the King's hands, and became his liegeman.

Raoul not merely accepted the homage, but

extended the advantages resulting from the com- e P ee e be"

1111 comes the

pact. Guillaume had subdued the Armoncans, Liegeman

of Raoul,

yet it might be doubted whether his dominion and re-
ceives in-

was legalized until the acquisition was confirmed
by the successor of Charlemagne, the protection
of whose name had been so confidently invoked
by the vanquished ? The question was now set
at rest. Raoul granted to the Duke of Normandy
those provinces of "Maritime Britanny' which
his prowess had conquered, provinces never
afterwards severed from the Duchy, or entitled
to deny that the Duke of Normandy was their
immediate Suzerain. This transaction was very
advantageous to both parties. Raoul, acknow-
ledged as Seigneur by the " Patrician of Rouen,"
was more truly King of France than he had been
during any antecedent period of his reign ; and,
although Guillaume Longue-epee cannot in strict-
ness be styled the premier Peer of France, yet he
possessed an equivalent rank in station, honour,
and power.


927-942 The Danish party being apparently broken up,

^ j

, > the affection entertained by Guillaume Longue-
epee to the French glowed even more ardently
than before. He encouraged the French in every
way, cultivating every opportunity of drawing
closer to the French princes and nobles, identify-
ing himself with their interests and feelings. They
equally courted his advances, anxious to avert
his enmity and profit by his munificence.

22. Thick woods and forests surrounded
Rouen. When the Giant Rothornagus and his
companions, or who ever may have been the
archaic founders of Rouen, selected their site,
they were unquestionably mindful of the protec-
tion these ambushments afforded. To Rollo and
his descendants they became constant scenes of
recreation, habitual hunting-grounds. The fabled
Roumare Forest extended almost to the City-
walls. Beyond the Seine, yet so near as to be
reckoned the palace-park, was shady Chevilly,
where the Conqueror received intelligence of his
cousin's demise, and heard how perjured Harold
had occupied the English throne.

Sta"de" Most memorable, however, amongst these

character wilds was the awe-inspiring Foresta de Leonibus,

locality, the Nemus de Leonibus, the Sylva Leonum. The

Roumois and the Vexin were overspread by this

forest, expanding from Rouen's vicinity to the

Epte, the furthest border of the Norman territory.

As a natural fortification, the importance be-


longing to the Foresta de Leonibus became very 927942

^^^^^^fc ^-^^^^B^X

apparent after the establishment of the Duchy. ,^-*_
Hollo's descendants speedily learned to appre-
ciate the keen foresight of the municipal pa-
triarchs. If hostilities were threatened from
France or Flanders, the dense forest curving
around the Capital, and traversable only by a
narrow road, greatly aided the Normans in re-
sisting the advance of an invading enemy.

The European forests, during this period, still
retained many primaeval features. The last in-
dividuals of various animal species, which have
since become extinct in our geographical climates,
lingered in their original haunts. The bear,
for example, was not uncommon in Normandy.
Even in the tenth century, the " Foresta de Leo-
nibus ' was considered unusually formidable. It
w r as not doubted but that strange and monstrous
creatures, whose ferocity might be dreaded even
by the armed warrior, lurked in the umbrageous
coverts : whilst innumerable beasts of chase, the
deer and the boar, constituted the huntsman's
marvel and delight.

A small and tranquil marshy-margined lake,
darkly gleaming at the bottom of a solitary valley,
marked the natural centre of the forest; and,
about a mile's distance from that melancholy,
silent lake, the Morte-mer as it was called, The Roman

station in

the Romans had whilome founded an important the Forest.
station. Truncated shafts and mutilated capitals,



, basso-relievos, tesselated pavements, and sculp-
x tured walls, the testimonies of departed splen-
dour, have been abundantly disclosed through
modern excavations. Medals exhibiting the im-
press of Nerva and of Trajan indicate, in some
measure, the period when temples and villas,
baths and hypocausts, were cheered by a flourish-
ing inhabitancy. But none of the antient itine-
raries or geographers make mention of this Cas-
trum or Municipium, no inscription bears record
of the name. This settlement seems to have been
abandoned under the later Caesars, though some
French antiquaries suppose that the complete
subversion did not ensue until the Barbarian in-
vasions, anyhow the whole locality had relapsed
into desolate solitude.

The further history of the Foresta Leonum,
were the theme diligently and intelligently ela-
borated, would furnish a monograph equally
interesting and important, by exemplifying the
agencies and proceedings which reclaimed the
Norman wastes, and conducted the Province to
its present state of agricultural prosperity. The
aptness of the site, judiciously selected by the
Romans, perhaps some remarkable ruins, may
have attracted the notice of Rollo when he ran
origin of the deer. His son, so ardent in the chase, cer-
tainly affected the locality. Here had Guillaume

"Lions la i i -i i 11 .-,..

timbered and thatched a rustic habitation ;
a forest-lodge where the Hunt might merrily


assemble. At a later period, and by degrees, 927942

foresters and their families settled round the , ,

seat of Ducal disport, and a small bourgade was
founded, which, adopting the old English phrase,
may be designated as the " forest -chamber,"

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 60)