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

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ber, and with tenfold vigour. Hitherto, Guil-
laume Longue-epee had been striving to extin-
guish the Danish nationality, and to naturalize
the French nationality, but now he would throw
himself upon the Norskmen, trust to their loy-
alty, and bring them out as a people.

Guillaume's previous jealousy of the Danes
had made him well acquainted with all their
strength. Where he had watched them as enemies,
there he now knew to seek them out as friends.
Open or concealed, they abounded far and near.
Even amongst the Citizens of Rouen, immedi-
ately exposed to the influences radiating from
Palace and Cathedral, the semi-Romanized Danes,
always ready to shew themselves as thorough
Danes, constituted a powerful party. In Bayeux
and the Bessin, when the Danish growth began
to be altered by the new climate : repeated


immigrations had renewed the old Gothic popu- 936912
lation. Whilst the old stocks were wearing out, XZXIZ^
new saplings had been planted.

All Denmark yielded obedience to mighty Harold
Harold, whose grim visage has already glanced

1 n TT 1 1 -Tk 1 11 TT t 1 ,

before our view. " Harold Blaatand Harold and settles

. in Cher-

with the blue tooth, or Harold with the black bour s-
tooth, choose which version vou will son of


Gorm, the antient Gorm, "Gorm-hin-gamle"
and the sagacious and much-renowned Thyra
Dannebod, the wise Thyra, "Thyra Denmark's
adviser," that Queen Thyra whose deeds are still
sweetly sung in Danish ballad, her memory fondly
endeared to national feeling. It was Thyra whose
energy completed the great fortification, the
"Danewirk:" the fosse and the rampart, which,
combining with hill and stream and dividing
Danish Holstein from German Schleswig, shoots
across the Peninsula from sea to sea.

All competitors subdued or extirpated, Harold
reigned as sole and supreme Monarch, the "Over-
king" of Denmark : Harold's crews had repeatedly
annoyed the Northern Gauls, but now, far more
terrifically than erewhile, his Dragons of the
Sea were descried from the Channel Shores.
If Harold's approach excited great uneasiness,
far greater was the public astonishment, when it
was found that Guillaume Longue-epee, instead
of testifying alarm or offering resistance, greeted
the Dane as an ally and a friend. Harold was


936-942 cordially welcomed, sixty vessels disembarked
~^ their sturdy soldiery, with whom Harold occupied
41942 Cherbourg. Reinforcements flocked in from the
Danish bailliwicks, keels were laid down, and, thus
preparing for further operations, Harold flourished
singularly in the Norman Territory. Either by
the grant or the permission of Guillaume Longue-
epee, Harold possessed himself of the Cotentin.
He ruled in the Bessin where his Dansker-men
coalesced with their kinsmen, and Harold's in-
fluence was extending itself throughout the
Avranchin, the Cinglais, and indeed the greater
part of the Basse Normandie, according to the
nomenclature of more recent times.
'sper- A perilous venture it might seem for Guil-
7 P a o S - laume Longue-epee, to permit these genuine
onni s Norskmen, these men of the old sterling kith and
kin, the natural enemies of the men of the
Romane tongue, thus to flesh themselves in the
opulent country, and fill her ports and harbours.
Had Guillaume Longue-epee counted the cost
of the aid he now sought to obtain ? His present
system could not be considered as a mere half
measure ; a modification of the policy he had been
pursuing since his accession : it amounted vir-
tually to the total abandonment of such policy.
By consorting so heartily with the native Danes,
Guillaume Longue-epee was endeavouring to
undo all that Guillaume Longue-epee had hitherto
done. Previously, he had been governing entirely


as a Frenchman, assimilating himself to the French 936-942
in all respects ; but now he was reverting to a < ,
hostile nation, an antagonistic nation ; not merely
antagonistic as political enemies, but in language,
religion, manners, customs, and all the usages of
social life. By their instrumentality, he was seek-
ing to support his power, the terrible Huscarls to
be henceforward the Duke of Normandy's battle-
axe guard. Had he not therefore irrevocably
declared himself as the Frenchman's deadly foe ?
27. Still no comfort, no inward peace,


no rest. Accused by his own conscience, worn epee fan-

cies he will

and worried by his divided mind, dimly yet pain- |^ ec e a
fully impressed by the perception of abiding con-
tumely, perplexed by his increasing dangers,
Guiiiaume Longue-e'pee's spirit collapsed. The
dreams of early childhood, his youthful imagi-
nations of monastic life revived and became a
passion, moodily nourished until he pictured to
himself that he would flee the conflict, and pur-
chase tranquillity by the sacrifice of his Sove-
reignty. No longer Lord of Britanny and the
Armorican Marches, Seigneur, Duke, and Patri-
cian of Rouen and of the Terra Normannorum,
but a poor and humble recluse, he would cast
off the splendid shame of the purple chlamys,
hide his face in the cowl, and, wrapping himself
round in the coarse serge gown, which perhaps
might veil his obloquy, retreat for the rest of his
days to secluded Jumieges, the Sanctuary raised


936942 and provided by his own bounty, the ready har-
bour of refuge open for the Dux Piratarum.

941942 rj^ ye remarkable conference which ensued

The con- . ' . .

ference be- when, having repaired thither, he opened his mind


Guiiiaume to Abbot Martin, has been minutely recorded


The Historian, when such cases occur, may, if he
thinks fit, crave permission to excuse himself
from enquiring who was the Reporter listening
behind the arras ; in the present example, how-
ever, we need not avail ourselves of this indul-
gence, inasmuch as we are able to ascertain with-
out difficulty the channel transmitting the tints
and lines of thought which gleam through the
murky text indited by the Dean of Saint Quentin.
The discussion, so memorable in its results,
must have been a great event in the Abbot's mo-
notonous life, the story to tell and to tell again
and again with increasing particularity, years
after Guiiiaume Longue-epee had departed. Nor
could even the Saint for according to pro-
vincial traditions Martin was canonized have
avoided recollecting with some degree of com-
placency how cleverly he had managed his argu-
ment. Naturally would Dudo, when collecting
the family traditions, resort to Jumieges for the
reminiscences of the transactions which decided
Guillaume's destiny. And therefore we believe
that the Abbot's own report is the foundation of
the existing redaction, curiously exhibiting many
features marking the individuality of each Inter-


locutor, the Prelate's quaint erudition, and the 936942
combination of subtlety and vehemence charac- ^T^ '
terizing Guillaume Longue-epee.

Guillaume, when he prepared to meet the
Abbot, was bent upon carrying out his determi-
nation, and yet he was only half in earnest. Insin-
cere to others, Guillaume was insincere to himself;
nor could he avoid the apprehension that his
abandonment of the Ducal Power might be fatal
to the interests of the State and the ruin of his
infant child. Distracted by the difficulties which
enveloped him, Guillaume shrunk from facing
the perils which he had aggravated by his double
dealing, dreading equally the biting tongue and
the trenchant blade.

" Ask your own conscience," is the Preacher's
common-place, whether in the pulpit or out of
the pulpit. Alas for the result ! Ask, but who
gives the answer ? When Man interrogates him-
self concerning himself, how rarely does he con-
duct the examination otherwise than on behalf
of his Client : and, by putting leading questions,
he makes the Witness reply in the manner which
best pleases him. When you profess to doubt
whether you are right, you most usually practise
to wheedle yourself into a certainty it is right to
do the wrong. If you commit your course to the
lot, and play cross and pile with yourself, you
fillip the coin to the intent that it should fall
flat on the negative side and turn up the affirm-


936912 ative. The friendly confidant is rarely consulted

r*, otherwise than with the same ingenuity, so, that

142 whilst timorously disclosing the scruples which

restrain us from the determination we wish to

adopt, it seldom happens otherwise but that

when we place ourselves with our selected guide

in the thick of the wood, we contrive to make him

see our way out of the tangle.

Amidst the eulogies which Dudo has bestowed
upon his hero, we have no difficulty in disco-
vering that such was the adroit perverseness of
Guillaume Longue-epee. By the management of
his own cause he sought to obtain the Abbot's
sanction for his pusillanimity, to the intent that
he might cast the responsibility upon his Adviser,
the first and original deceit, upon which the con-
duct of Mankind affords a perpetual commentary.
Guillaume Longue-epee approached the grave

Abbot under cover. He manoeuvred to satisfv


his own desires without subjecting himself to
responsibility. And his artifice displays much
cleverness ; he concealed himself, as it were, in
the crowd, and merged his individuality in the
collective destiny of human society.
Iii e "thp ee ^ e me di9eval system of Social Polity recog-
n i ze d three Orders as constituting the perfect
" Commonwealth the Priest, the Soldier, and the
Husbandman the Triad, tersely and sonorously
described by the Teuton, as the " Lehrstand,"
the " Wehrstand," and the "Xaehrstand :' : the


Three who respectively offer the prayer, wield 936942
the sword, speed the plough. ^"^

In our days, this triple organization is not 941 - 942
implicitly accepted as the normal scheme of
society. Calmly is the first Order tolerated by the
esoteric doctrines of civilization, a temporary
concession to the weaknesses of the yet unen-
lightened multitude, which may be kindly per-
mitted to endure, until Positive Philosophy shall
have superseded the last lingering supernaturalism
of mankind. A pietism, scarcely less antagonistic
to Faith, indulges in the happy vision, that the
progress of intelligence, rational religion, and
humanity, will equally extinguish the second
Order. And, to this effect, do the Orators of the
platform pour out their bland eloquence, undis-
turbed by the reports of the messages of peace
and good-will towards all men, despatched to the
Kaffirs from the Crystal Palace through the
Christian agency of the five-barrelled revolver.
Coerced to admit the need of the third Order,
the Political Economist grudges to confess the
Divinely appointed sentence which condemns man
to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, and the
ardent machinist announces his steam-plough as
the harbinger of the good time coming, when all
arduous manual toil will absolutely cease under
the sun.

But, in the simple organization of Mediaeval
Christendom all the Three Orders were deemed
to be mutually supporting; all Three equally


936-942 essential for the security of the State and the
^HZH^ happiness of the people the Three Pillars which
1942 support the Throne. This Theory was universally
adopted, no reasoner opposed it ; no nation re-
jected it ; King Canute promulgates the doctrine
as the canon of all good government ; and, even
now, under the homely denomination of " The
Three Alls," the "ragione di stato" of our an-
cestors may not unfrequently be seen symbolized
in the rude imagery of the weather-beaten sign,
swinging and creaking over the village ale-house

Diverse, yet not discrepant, all the Three Orders
were equally honest, Holy Church embraced them
all. All therefore were unquestionably indispen-
sable; but, did each mode of life possess equal
merit and deserve equal reward ?

Chevaliers, Clercs et Villains;
Chacun est droit et bon et sains,
Si Tun de 1'autre se devise,
Si les receit tous Sainte Eglise.
Li uns Ordres 1'autre soutient,
Et Tuns Ordres 1'autre maintient.

Trois Ordres sont, cbascun pour soi,

Ceux qui vivent si diversement

Auront ils egalement

Un merite e un loier,

Dites le moi, ceo vous requier?

Such was the doubt submitted by Guillaume
Longue-epee to Abbot Martin, as the means of
suggesting the very direction which he wished
to receive, shaping his course warily, and with
a fair share of forensic subtilty, scarcely anti-


cipating that he could fail to gain a satisfactory 936942
result. Was it likely that the Priest could do r v ^T"""^
otherwise, than point out the abandonment of 941 ~ 942
worldly joys and temptations as the most assured
path which the Christian could pursue ?

A well-meaning and pious Confessor, but one
not gifted with much insight into human nature,
would assuredly have felt his heart melted by
the gallant Prince's contrition and humility;
the splendid Warrior indifferent to the delights
of the court and the glories of war, devoting
his young and vigorous life to penitence, priva-
tion, and seclusion. The excusable desire of
securing such an ornament for the House of
Jumieges in particular, and Saint Benedict's
religion at large, might have led the most honest
Superior to hail the illustrious Convert. Had
Abbot Martin been a character of the ordinary
stamp, Guillaume Longue-epee would assuredly
have added one to the ninety-three Royal Per-
sonages who appear as fruits amidst the branches
of the oft-delineated tree, figuring the spiritual
developement of the Benedictine Order: but,
would this fruit have ripened ? or rather, would
it not, worm-stricken within, have perished off
the bough ?

Our Abbot, however, though taken by sur-
prize, was not thrown off his guard. Fore-warned
for the discussion by his knowledge of the Guest,
he was prepared, at once, to grapple with the exi-


936942 gency to him, the device was transparent as the

^ZHZ^ air. Treating therefore the subject very respeet-

1942 f u }}y ? dissecting the proposition with scholastic

ingenuity, and adorning his disquisition with

many a Greek vocable, he speedily arrived at the

conclusion, that Heaven was equally accessible to

all men, provided they duly performed the duties

allotted to them during their progress through

this world of trial.

Guillaume Longue-epee was indignant when
the Abbot administered this baffling consolation ;
he would not abide it : he declared he could not
possibly lead a righteous life amidst the allure-
ments, distractions, and seductions of his station.
The Norman Duchy had been thrust upon him
in his youth no fault of his he had not courted
the perilous dignity. His Father and the Chief-
tains of the Land had compelled him to accept
the supreme authority when a boy, and now
when he was of full age and competent to act for
himself, he would cast off the grievous burden :
he would be a monk a monk Longue-epee

would be !

Martin's Abbot Martin answered as though he were

appalled by the very possibility of Guillaume's
accomplishing his plan ; Martin was evidently
convinced that Guillaume Longue-epee would
become a scandal and a disgrace to the Church,
incapable of perseverance, one unconscious that
such principles as truth and fidelity existed ;


therefore, with the deepest sorrow, the Abbot 936942
gave a denial, respectful, discreet, but peremp- , _ ^
tory. His answer was to the following import
such conduct would be a culpable abandonment
of the charge imposed upon Guillaume Longue-
epee by Providence : let him abide worthily in
his vocation so long as life should last, protect his
people, ministering law and justice. Should
Guillaume Longue-epee force himself as a Monk
into the Monastery, he, Abbot Martin, would
flee the country, never to return.

But Guillaume Longue-epee would not take

any refusal ; he asserted with vehement passion, e pe v s

. anger at

that he would not continue Duke of Normandy, he the abbot's


would abdicate in favour of his son ; the vow he refusa i-
had made, he would perform. And, let it be here
remarked, that this very last assertion convicts
him of deceit. The vow, what vow? had he made
any vow when he came before Abbot Martin, there
would not have been any questions to ask. The
Abbot broke up the conference by preparing to
depart, but Guillaume, the angry Penitent, literally
clung to his companion's skirts, casting himself
at the Abbot's feet : nor, would he let the Abbot
go, until his angry yet pitiable importunities
extorted one concession from Martin's prudent
compassion. Just as you give a play-thing to
pacify a pettish child, Abbot Martin presented the
Duke with the outward garments of the Monk
the gown and the cowl. Having gained these


936942 toys, the provoked and embittered Guillaume
<- * . returned to Rouen. Frock and cowl he deposited
in a precious shrine, the lock was locked by a
silver key ; Guillaume appended the key to his
girdle which he always wore about his body;
never did he part with the key, the key was
always ready for use should occasion arise.
Lo^ue 6 $ ^' Angered and grieved, his mental ex-
comes b dan- citement increased upon him ; bodily illness en-
ft e Kouen. lU sued, and Guillaume fell sick of a raging fever,
so that his life was endangered. His constitu-
tional vigour, however, resisted the disease, the
fever left him ; his head became more clear ; and,
lying on his bed, he matured his plans for the
government of the Land during the interval which
might elapse between the Father's demise and the
full establishment of the Ducal authority under
his son.

During all these troubles, the anxiety con-
cerning the child pressed heavily on that father's
mind and possibly, his distress in this behalf,
though blended with other motives, even un-
worthy timidity, induced him to resolve upon
the measure of abdication, in order that he might
settle a firm and responsible Regency, competent
to protect the infant heir. Guillaume Longue-
epee's conduct, viewed as an entirety, discloses
the warning he had received. His ill-regulated
plans for resigning his Dominion were evidently
commingled with anticipations of his own death,


and also with the dread that the young and help- 936942
less Richard, never seen by his Father since the ZIXZ^
Stepmother came, might fall into the power of
his enemies. The current phrase, that pre-
sentiments, like prophecies, work their own ac-
complishment, is simply one of the devices
whereby we vainly strive to effect our escape
from the unseen World surrounding us. The
thought, and the events which the thought fore-
bodes, proceed from the same eternal treasury of

Languishing, yet convalescent, Guillaume re-

cent TIG I*G -

moved from the Palace to the Park of Chevillv, moves to

/ ' Chevilly :

the place of disport, now sought by the pallid see P- 12Q -
invalid for the enjoyment of tranquillity and fresh
air. Much recommended also was the Lodge of


Chevilly by its sylvan seclusion : untracked and
unobserved, and secured from the Stepmother's
jealous espial, there might the troubled father be-
hold his boy. To Chevilly was the young Richard The boy

_ _, x Richard

warily conducted from r ecamp by trusty messen- produced
gers, and received by Guillaume Longue-epee, sur- father to

J Botho, Os-

rounded by the hoary Counsellors whom he hadfe c an< i

* Bernard

inherited from his father, the men who guarded the Dane -


him in his own childhood, Botho and Oslac, and
Bernard the Dane. To them he exhibited the boy,
calling upon the three aged Veterans to admire
the pretty Richard's ruddy cheeks and flaxen hair.
Guillaume kissed the child's eyelids, stript off his
garments, and displayed Richard's tender, yet



936942 sturdy limbs, coaxing them all the while. Ad-
^HXH^ dressing the three Nobles, not only as his friends,
941942 re p resen tatives of the Community,

he poured forth his earnest solicitations that they
would take order and preserve the Duchy for
Espriota's child, so worthy to become their

Guillaume Longue-epee appealed to them,
whether he had not striven hard to secure Nor-
mandy's prosperity ; but his work was almost
done. Solemnly did Bernard, Oslac, and Botho,
Same's" make their responsive promises ; faithfully had
they obeyed Guillaume Longue-epee whilst he

mlge. h< lived, faithfully would they guard and obey that
young child when his father should be called away.
Richard Sans peur should be their Count, their
Duke, their hereditary Patrician. And the three
Old Men, kneeling before the lovely child, swore
the oath of fealty, performing homage in solemn
form, placing their great wrinkled hands between
his tender palms.

Guiiiaume Yet there was one parental duty still to be

Longue- /

o?ler ta for S performed, even more transcendant. The Child
was to be trained in the way he had to go. By no
mediaeval dynasty was this precept more consis-
tently received than amongst Hollo and his pro-
geny, even until the extinction of his line. Tho-
roughly had Guillaume Longue-epee thought over
the education fitting for his Heir, and he declared
his wishes with a minuteness which testified that


the subject had been anxiously weighed and con- 935942

sidered by him, and that he had formed a distinct .
conception of the ultimate results. Not to Bishop
or Priest, to Monk or to Abbot, would Guillaume
entrust the fearless Richard. For all we can tell,
never did his father wish that a shaveling should
draw nigh him - Botho had been Guillaume's
teacher, and to Botho, the wise and courteous,
the book-instructed warrior, the skilful huntsman,
did he commit his son.

How must the young Duke of Normandy be
trained ? Dignified as the Noble, lettered as the
Clerk, firm in the saddle, fleet in the field,
perch the falcon on his fist, know the waters and
the wealds cast the net dart the javelin,
slip the hound break the deer.

Every branch of learning, every elegance of
demeanour, might be acquired at Rouen. But in
Romane Rouen, only half the work of tuition
could be performed : to perfect Richard for the
Dukedom, he must be reared elsewhere. Rouen's
indwellers shunned the barbaric dialect of the
Sea-Kings. The French, and the best French of
France, therefore became current in the antient
City ; but the schooling of Rouen, however good
of its kind, would not suffice for the Monarch of
the Terra Normannorum ; he must be a French-
man amongst the French, a Danskerman amongst Richard is
the Danes. No other language could reach the

T\ i TN i i Danish

Danish heart except the Danish mother-tongue ; tongue.

u 2


936-942 and Guillaume, who could only discourse in
^HHI^ French, must often have felt the grievous disad-
142 vantage to which his ignorance exposed him. Not
merely must the young Rudo Jarl comprehend the
Norsk, but he must speak it as if inborn ; and
nothing of the sort could be gained at Rouen.
The Norsk might be read from the Rune-stave,
but you could not learn the lore from the book ;
the hearing ear must listen to the opening lips ;
and therefore did Guillaume Longue-epee insist
that the young Richard should fix his residence at
Bayeux, where the very children lisped in Danish
syllables. All these behests did Botho promise
to perform. As the apple of his eye, would he
care for the precious child.
942 It was the usual custom during the middle

May 29.

inaugura- ages not yet entirely obsolete amongst the
chard at Churches of the Roman obedience that the


opening of National Councils or Assemblies, should
be hallowed by celebrating the Mass of the Holy
Ghost, or held on the Pentecostal Day : and on
that high festival, at Danish Bayeux, a City se-
lected with a very marked intent, was the young
Richard inaugurated, the ceremony being per-
formed with unprecedented solemnity. Conjoined
to Botho and Oslac and Bernard the Dane, seven
other Nobles appointed by Guillaume Longue-
epee constituted the Regency. Their names are
not recorded, but, judging from the important parts

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 60)