Francis Palgrave.

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

. (page 12 of 60)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

where the forest-courts were held.

The monks of Saint-Denis, who had obtained
some grants of land in the vicinity, then pro-
vided a Church, which they dedicated to their
patron Saint. Subsequently, the Ducal lodge
was replaced by a very stately castle : each of
the four gates entrusted to a baronial Warder.
Versailles arose nearly in the same manner. All
the Norman dukes were fond of this pleasant
residence, emphatically called Lions-la-foret ; and
here Henry Beauclerc died.

Further utilizations ensued. Within the Origin of

the Abbey

forest circuit and purlieus were many rough but of Morte-

J mer.(1130).

fertile glades and heathlands, fringed with bush
and straggling trees. These were depastured by
the cattle of the terre-tenants, or mown for hay :
and the exploitations continued. Three hermits
seeking hardship, toil and seclusion, Tascio,Guiard,
and the noble Guillaume de Fresquiennes, built
their huts near the Morte-mer, and tilled and
cropped the ground. Through this colonization
originated the famous monastery of Mortemer.
Strenuously did the diligent monks of the new
establishment apply themselves to the reclama-
tion of the desert. Woods were essarted, granges



927942 built, and a fresh impulse given to the clearances,
, * , which have proceeded so steadily during seven
centuries, that, although the "forest of Lions"
still exists, the character of the antient sylvan
region is quite obliterated, and the continuity of
the forest destroyed. Portions have acquired
distinct and individual names the forests of
Brai, Andelys, Gournay, Vernon, Longboel, and
others, are all dismemberments of the Forest of
Lions: and near or far in the variegated land-
scape the traveller now only observes woods and
copses, interspersed amongst the flourishing farms.
The Meet But we must now return to Guillaume's leafy

in the

forest- lodge, as we shall find it decked for a noble


gathering, the hard-stamped earth strewn with
the sweet-smelling rush, silken tapestries de-
pendant from the roof-beams and living flowers
adorning the embowered recesses, the long-bladed
iris, the yellow glayeul from the marshy lake, con-
tending with the flora of the loom. Congenial
was this gallant theme to the fathers of Norman
minstrelsy : many a floating tradition, melodious
ballad, and family story, was embodied in their
verse, elucidating the text of the solemn historian :

En la grande forest de Lions
Od ses Princes, od ses Barons,

Voult aller chacer au ruit.

* * * *

Hommes sous ciel, ne rien qui vive,
Ne vit forest plus pleintive,
Qu'ele est de cerfs et de senglers*


Besides his own Chieftains and Lieges, three were 027912
the Princes of France specially invited to the , - ,
Meet by Guillaume Longue-epee, and welcomed
in the Forest-chamber. Hugh-le-Grand, whom
the Northmen honoured as Duke and Prince
of France, asserted an unchallenged precedence.
Many reasons had the Normans to yield Hugh
great respect, and some to fear him. Hugh was
accompanied by Herbert of Vcrmandois, so cor-
dially claimed by Guillaume as his kinsman. Hugh
and Herbert burnt with inward rivalry, but the
competitors were now transiently inclined to
mutual forbearance,- -a pause for plans and
schemes whereby each might contrive to further
his own power.

Herbert was joyous. Hermengarda, resting
from martial exploits, had returned with her
daughters, Alicia and Liutgarda, to Rheims, and
the lingering engagement between the eldest and
the Flemish Arnoul was concluded by their mar- Marriage

of Arnoul

riaee. Alicia had been betrothed when she was Count of


but a little child : during the protracted wooing and Aiida

o ofVerman-

she had grown up to blooming girlhood, whilst dois>
the astute Arnoul had attained a full sober age,
nearer sixty than fifty. Moreover, Count Arnoul
w r as gouty, but in other respects he was sound
and vigorous. His life and reign received such
unusual prolongation, that he is specially distin-
guished in the Flemish fasti as Arnoid-le-meux
and, to the end of his days, old Arnoul exhibited

K 2


927-942 and retained remarkable clearness of judgment,

- * , cleverness, and talent.

$ 23. State policy had unquestionably dic-
tated and perfected the incongruous, though not
unhappy, union between Arnoul and the Verman-
dois Atheliza. Such political alliances are of no
great practical use in securing concord, but they
gave and give plausible reasons for co-operation
or interference : territorial accessions were also
occasionally gained by them. Moreover, amongst
the "great Feudatories'' 1 a feeling, analogous to
that which now subsists amongst royal families,
was receiving a marked development. A match
implies equality. The Counts and Dukes and
Nobles of the Gauls would acknowledge no equals
except among themselves : nobility began to be
more sensitive to mesalliance : and the acquisition
of a distinguished bride, was the object sought by
the third of this noble party.

Tdte-d^ e ^ m 's as pi ran t was the young Count Palatine,

count of son f Ebles the Mamzer, and the English Athe-
li za > Gruillaume Tete-d'etoupe, who, upon his
father's decease, had recently succeeded to Poitou.
His profusion of flaxen locks suggested the
homely epithet which has become his dynastic
appellation. These queer and quaint designations
were, in a manner, the result of necessity: the
prevailing practice of distinguishing homonymous
sovereigns by ordinal numbers, is of compara-
tively late introduction ; first employed with re-


spect to the Roman Pontiffs by those who wrote 027942
or spoke of them, but never, even at the present ^H^CZ^
day, by the Popes themselves. The odd old usage
recommends itself as a help to the imagination :
cyphers are unsuggestive ; few numerals have
had the good fortune to be amalgamated with
individuality, as in the examples of Charles-
Quint and Louis-Quatorze.

Merrily the Meisnee enjoyed the Chase ; and
each day, after their pleasurable fatigue, did our
Duke Guillaume entertain his guests with royal
splendour. A fitting opportunity w 7 as soon found The count

i n PT* i i

by the Count ol Poitou to open his mind. Loth solicits the

hand of

to entrust any messenger with such a secret, Gerioc,

* ' Hollo's

Guillaume Tete-d'etoupe had, as he declared, daughter.
visited Duke Guillaume with a humble hope of
obtaining the hand of Guillaume's sister, discreet
and pious Gerloc, Hollo's daughter. But, indeed,
could he do otherwise than proffer his request
in person to so great a Prince as Guillaume, ex-
alted above all the sovereigns in the world ?

The cap-in-hand lowliness of the lover may
have provoked Duke Guillaume's humour; but
pride had nestled in Guillaume's heart. Cour-
teous Longue-epee was thrown off his guard by
the delirium of prosperity, and he answered in
words breathing insolence and scorn. The flight
of the skulker Ebles before the Northmen had
become a popular jest. Guillaume mocked the
Poitevins cowards and faint-hearted even from
father to son, fickle and untrue : upon none such


927-942 could his noble sister be bestowed. Tete-d'etoupe
. < . would take no offence. Perhaps the lover's anxiety
933934 res t ra j ne( j the indignation of the young warrior.

His countenance reddened (as the Romaunt tells
us) ; but he said nothing. His tranquillity sub-
dued the scoffing Norman : Longue-epee sobered
into his usual decency of manners, and soliciting
a brief and decorous delay until the morrow, for
consultation with his lieges, he then explained
his conduct, and solicited pardon. It was a silly
joke, he said, yet such as might be excused
amongst good friends, and nothing more.

If there was much levity in Guillaume's reply,
there was far more arrogance, and above all, a
great deficiency in common sense. Was not his
own father liable to the imputation cast upon the
Poitevin ? Ought not any allusion to the name
of Chartres have made him blush also ? Had not
the panic which turned back Rollo and the
Northmen from the Pre des Recules disgraced
the Jaii's memory, as much as the Count's con-
cealment in the workshop of the fuller ? And when
had young Guillaume Tete-d'etoupe exhibited such
a collapse of courage as Guillaume Longue-epee
himself, on the yesterday (so to speak), quailing
before Riulph and the insurgent bands? Tete-
d'etoupe's gentle discretion, however, led all par-
ties right. After a consultation with Hugh-le-
Grand and Herbert of Vermandois, the assent was
granted. Gerloc, well worth the pains of seek-
ing, was espoused to Guillaume the son of Ebles.


Splendid were the nuptial gifts bestowed upon 927942
her, the release of the Danegeld imposed upon ^HXZ^
Poitou was an additional and more grateful

The bride was escorted with great pomp to The count
Poitiers; and as she pursued her lengthened married to

. . Gerloc,

journey, the accompanying trains of sumpter- who takes
horses laden with bales of silken stuffs and ward- of Adela -
robe gear, announced the Norman Duke's munifi-
cence to all beholders. Gerloc proved a worthy
and good woman, pious and beneficent, leading
a life so tranquil, that very few things are re-
collected concerning her except the best, her
works and her piety. Gerloc, after her marriage,
received the appellation of Adela, vaguely em-
ployed as an epithet or a title, and which still
designated the dignity of a royal Princess, though
passing into a proper name. Adela is the name
by which, to the exclusion of her original bar-
baric name, Gerloc is styled in all her husband's
charters. Tete-d'etoupe probably wished to ex-
tinguish the recollection of her heathen ancestry.
Thus originated the first connexion between the
illustrious houses of Normandy and of Poitou.
Tete-d'etoupe's son by Adela was Guillaume Eleanor of
Fierabras, Count of Poitiers and Duke of Aqui- descendant

1 1 IT 1 TV 1 ^ * n * S

tame, in whose direct male lineage the Duchy marriage.
continued, till it fell to the spindle-side, when his
remote descendant, the wanton Eleanor, brought
the great inheritance to Henry Plant agenet.


927-942 J 24. " So long as thou doest good unto thy-

self, men will speak well of thee." How ample
Guiiiai ne m ^^* ^ e ^ ne exposition of this text, the World's
^peVs 6 " invitation to go and do likewise, tenthly, could
popularity. no ^. ex | iaus ^ j^. We would fain pelt the Preacher

whose hollow cheeks and thready voice testify
his practice of the Lenten self-denial he incul-
cates : whilst we parade with humble thanks-
giving the smallest erumblings of edification
dispensed by the sleek Divine whose dignified
table displays three courses and champagne.

Guillaume Longue-epe'e fully reaped the be-
nefit inseparable from such conformity. With
a smack of devotion, he threw himself thoroughly
into all the enjoyments of life, pomp and mag-
nificence, luxury and splendour; and therefore
the good people of his time descanted the more
earnestly upon his piety.

Guillaume, always considering himself first,
and postponing the rights and feelings of every-
body else to his own, has been lauded to the skies
for his chivalrous magnanimity. Without the
least suspicion of his own motives he was essen-
tially selfish. In all doubtful circumstances, his
choice was decided by the attractions of self-
interest or the impulses of self-gratification ; yet
his renown never failed during his life-time : his
defects were excused by his prosperity, and his
reputation was sustained with encreased affection
after his death. He was very bright ; and there


is perhaps no quality which more generally en- 027942

X^MV ^ ^^

sures a pleasant remembrance beyond the grave. , >^_
Certainly he possessed some excellent qualities;
yet many more than he possessed were ascribed to
him. Powerful and rich, people gratified them-
selves by magnifying his riches and power.

But amidst his popularity Guillaume had a
secret grief. He was Hollo's son. Guillaume
could not fail to suspect the thoughts nourished
by the Prankish nobles in the depths of their
hearts. He was not entirely one with them, nor
one amongst them. The Normans were not yet
adopted by the national family into which they
had forced themselves. Cordial as the French ap-
peared, Guillaume might guess, from some unfor-
tunate slip of the Frenchman's tongue, that, though
invested with the Patrician robe, he was still
reckoned as a Buccanier, by those who prudently
made the best of a bad bargain. Guillaume
doated on Espriota, yet his love could not blind
him to the fact that his home was not honour-
able, whether morally or politically. The humble
damsel, the Christian woman, married to Guil-
laume, (if married she were), according to the
Heathen fashion, could not be considered a help-
mate meet for the Seigneur of Rouen, an equal
by his side beneath the Ducal canopy.

Of a surety, such sentiments had been discerned,
perhaps encouraged, by his kinsman of Verman-
dois Could Herbert otherwise have possibly


927942 formed any expectation, that Guillaume might be
. * . induced to cast off his ardently loved consort for
the purpose of espousing Liutgarda ? Guillaume
had always prided himself in claiming consan-
guinity with this house. Had the noble science
of blazonry then existed, Guillaume Longue-
pee's coat of arms, as it hung over his mail,
would have displayed the golden Leopards of
Normandy quartering Vermandois " checkee or
and azure, a chief of the second, three fleurs-de-
lys of ihejfirst" and no Pursuivant, who valued
his ears, would have dared add the defacement
of a brisure, or to challenge the bearing. With-
out any delay, or misgiving, did Guillaume
Longue-epee either make or accept the flattering
offer. He had an encouraging, and home ex-
ample. As Guillaume's own mother had been
dealt with by his own father Rollo, so did
Guillaume deal with the mother of his own
child. Not a thought was given by any one to
Espriota, the damsel of low degree, the mean
hustrue, who pretended to be wedded by a
Danish marriage ; no divorce was sought ; no
difficulties honoured by discussions ; no con-
Guiiiaume scientious scruple raised, needing the decency of

Longue- i i

epe his a ghostly adviser to remove it : none of the


of Espriota, parties, principals or accessories, concerned in

and mar- * "

negotiating or completing the forthcoming grand
espousals, considered it worth while to take notice
of Espriota's existence. Liutgarda was conducted



to the Palace of Rouen, and the marriage be- 927-9*2

x.^ ^^ v -^^^^^

tween Guillaume Longue-epee and his noble , - .
bride, the true daughter of Vermandois, was cele-
brated with marvellous magnificence.

Never is Espriota named again during the
remainder, brief in time, yet lengthened by the
abundantly succeeding incidents, of Guillaume's
life and reign. Yet equally are we destitute of
any information concerning that brilliant Liut-Liut-
garda, of whom nothing further is known until hatred of
after Guillaume's death, when she re-appears as
the hardened widow, rushing into the embraces
of a graceless lover the childless stepmother,
pursuing the son of her deceased husband with
direful hatred; and yet without being able to
offer the wretched excuse which might be fur-
nished by jealousy for the promotion of her own

In the hope that an heir would be granted
to him, had Guillaume taken Espriota. The hope
was fulfilled ; but the concubine's child could not
be endured in the Palace when the step-mother
passed under the Portal. That once-welcomed
babe was now removed far away. Nor did the
noble boy ever again gaze on the father's face
until the shadow of death was spreading over
him. Nevertheless, the silent march of history
affords cogent reasons for an humiliating sur-
mise. Combining positive and negative evidence;
filling up the blanks evidently occasioned by the


927-942 suppression of facts, with the collateral circum-
, " , stances, which, though retained, are only imper-

Qoo QQ^i

fectly explained or left without explanation, it is
scarcely possible to doubt but that Guillaume,
seduced away from Espriota by the pride of the
Prince or the policy of the Statesman, continued
nevertheless secretly to cohabit with her whom he
had put to shame before the world. We cannot
repel the conjecture that Guillaume's heartless-
ness thus involved him in complicated culpa-
bility: faithful in heart to the true-love whom
he deserted, faithless in conduct to the princess
whom he had taken in her stead.
intentional The history of Guillaume Longue-^pee, as it

obscurity .

ofDudo has been transmitted to us, was mainly founded

de Saint

Quentin on the information given to Dudo de Saint Quentin

upon the

connected ^J ^at child Richard when he grew up to man's

priota E and estate, and by Richard's brother, another son of

tgara. Espriota, not proclaiming Guillaume Longue-epde
as his father, but who nevertheless acquired high
importance and dignity, the famous Raoul Count
of Ivry. Dudo, composing under such dictation,
enjoyed great advantages. The primary sources
of information concerning the events were open
to him, no one could bear record more fully or
truly if he chose. But the very patronage which
encouraged or rather urged him to the task, would
inspire discreet reserve. In all those portions of
the narrative whether relating to Espriota or
to Liutgarda, the writer appears to amplify for


the purpose of concealment. If, after expatiating 927942
upon the splendour of Liutgarda's nuptials, the ^ * ,
Dean of Saint Quentin felt inclined to speak
more clearly about her or the deserted one,
Hush !- -was whispered in his ear.

25. During these Norman transactions and 934935
adventures, the aspect of French affairs became affSUL
increasingly perplexed and dreary. A swarm
of untowardnesses, distresses and misfortunes ;
portents, and visitations, serpent-like streams of
fire darting across the welkin ; and, concurrently
with these tokens, a devouring pestilence the
symptoms described, being similar to those which
accompany the Plague. Queen Emma, Hugh-le-
Grand's sister, Raoul's faithful and energetic 934

' Death of

consort, died : and the widowed king, his health


declining, was wearing himself out. Aquitaine
required Raoul's presence: an inconsiderable
Burgundian Castellan rebelled. Raoul was com-
pelled to hasten thither : he no longer had his
Emma to help him. The furious Magyars spread
all over Burgundy, tormenting the country with
fire and sword. Raoul marched against the
Tartars. They evaded the collision retreating
rapidly before him as he advanced, and the
fugitives, repeating their mischiefs elsewhere, com-
pensated themselves beyond the Alps by the
plunder of the Lombard plains.

Raoul's own brother Boso took advantage
of his distresses, and seized Dijon ; but Raoul


927942 marched against him and recovered the city.

r > I"~I Other vexations ensued : most doleful was the

935936 p asc h a i tide at Laon; a riot broke out in the
King's very presence, a scuffle between his
soldiers and the cathedral clergy, an affront
to the royal dignity as well as a scandal. The
clerks may have been indiscreet, but the sol-
diers were savage, and their blades cleft many
935 a shaven crown. Though stricken by a sore
disease which rendered locomotion very irksome,
Raoul could not obtain any respite : the urgencies
of the State compelled him to convene a council at
Soissons. Apprehensions of trouble forced Raoul
to perform a painful journey for the purpose
of obtaining an interview with King Henry the
Fowler, he also dying. Pagan Northmen ravaged
Bourges. The quarter from whence they came
is not exactly ascertained. A learned Dane con-
jectures that they started from Armorica; Ha-
rold Blaatand was cruising, and they may have
disembarked from his ships in the Loire. Raoul
could give no aid, and the citizens had to help
themselves, which they did bravely.

sept. Oct. During the autumn Raoul's malady encreased :


malady hi s bodv was covered with loathsome sores and


ulcers, swarming with vermin. He attempted to
journey towards Sens. In the outskirts of that
city stood the celebrated Abbey of Saint Columba
that noble Gaulish Virgin who, as legends tell,
suffered martyrdom by Aurelian's special com-


mand " Saint e Colombe-lez-Sens" founded by 9279*2
King Dagobert, a monastery, a palace and a castle. X^^!
Richard-le-Justicier had caused the consecrated
precinct to be surrounded by walls and towers,
for the purpose of protection against the Danes.
The Sanctuary was much venerated by the fa-
mily ; and Richard-le- Just icier was buried there,
in the chapel of Saint Simphorien. When Raoul
had been borne as far as Auxerre, he could not
be conveyed further. The childless King had no
commands to give respecting the succession, no
bequests to make of crown or sceptre, or royal
robe, designating by the delivery of these symbols
the future Sovereign. The regalia are left un-
touched in the tall Tower of Laon there let
them remain until an occupant is found for the
Throne, dying Raoul has no care about them.
As to this world's concerns, Raoul thought
only of his grave, and he directed that his bones
should rest nigh his father's.- Evil-doers were
encouraged by the abeyance of the Sovereign
authority : a great riot, accompanied by incen-
diarism, ensued at Sens, the city was partly
burnt; nor did the fortifications of Saint Columba
protect the monastery from the revolters ; and on Jan. 15,
the morrow of Saint Hilary, King Raoul died. Death of

During Raoul's illness the nobles had been
gathering in the vicinity, and they immediately
came together for his funeral. Within eight and
forty hours after King Raoul's death the corpse


927942 was conveyed from Auxerre to Sens, probably

^^^ ^-_ .- .^^_-'

, . floated down the placid Yonne, and deposited,
according to his wishes, by his father's side, in
the fire-scathed sanctuary. A plain stone table ?
inscribed Rodolphus Rex, marked his place of

state of 26. During the latter years of Raoul's life,

ing at the when there was no longer any probability of his
Raoui's leaving a lineal heir, all parties prepared them-

death. & L J

selves for action, as soon as the throne should
become vacant by his demise. Raoul's lingering
malady afforded full opportunity for machination
or deliberation : his death brought on the crisis ;
but not before opinions had been deliberately
steady ad- About the form of government there was

herence to

the mon- no doubt or question i the Gauls must be ruled


principle. j^y one Sovereign, invested with imperial rights,
a crowned and anointed Sovereign. All were
immutably convinced that they were bound to
maintain the unity of the State an imperial fede-
ration, if you choose yet one body politic. The
fury for division, which raged during the revolu-
tions of the Eight hundred eighty and eight, had
subsided no more repartitions of the Gauls. This
was their unshaken resolution they prostrated
themselves before the principle of Monarchy.

They withstood all the temptations of oppor-
tunity. Who could have gainsayed the Patrician
of Rouen, a monarch in his people's estimation,


had he demanded his autocracy ? Until Raymond 927942
thought fit to become Raoul's liegeman, he
reigned in the Capitol of Toulouse, without bow-
ing before any superior : Raymond might altoge-
ther have refused rendering that acknowledgment.
Hermengaud at Rhodez was beyond the long-
est stretch of Raoul's sceptre ; it was his own
choice, if he came within that sceptre's reach.
The Vascons would have answered with en-
thusiasm to Lope Aznar's summons, had he
required their aid for the vindication of their na-
tionality. Thirty or more " Grand Feudatories,"
as they were afterwards called, are reckoned at
this era, who, whether the throne was deserted, Adherence

i i

or whether the throne was filled, might, had they Franks to

the mo-

ehosen, have decreed the suppression of Royalty narchwai

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 60)