Copyright
Francis Palgrave.

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

. (page 23 of 60)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 23 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


less Guillaume and his companions. The sailor and slain -
and the boys were desperately wounded, Guil-
laume slain: Balzo, the avenger of Riulph's
blood, gave the mortal blow.

It is scarcely possible to doubt but that Guil-
laume fell by Balzo's sword ; for it was in conse-
quence of the act that he, ere long, sustained the
retribution inflicted by the savage sorrow of
Herlouin. Nevertheless, so strongly did the evil
repute cling to the Tricheur's name, that, in the
following century, he was still execrated as the
real criminal : and we can distinctly trace the
opinion subsisting in that Treasure-house of his-
torical reminiscences, the Monastery of Fecamp.

31. The locality is well ascertained by tra-
dition ; the Pre au trois Cornets being the pre-
sent name of the field, The deed was committed
in full view of Guillaume Longue-epee's army,
assembled on the opposite bank. But the river
was much broader than it is at present, corre-



310 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE,

936-942 spending to the pristine spread of the estuary.
The course of the stream has also been much
changed; and the branch which separated the
mainland from the little island has been choked
by alluvion.

The carefully devised complot had fully suc-
ceeded. The "Pirates" were utterly baulked. To
have rescued the victim was impossible; but
Guillaume's troops could not even obtain the
unsatisfactory satisfaction of vengeance. Arnoul
and his party escaped, long before the Normans
and Bretons could reach the island. The river
was Arnoul's ; he had cleared away the craft. At
length, means were found for conveying the
Corpse to the left bank of the Somme. They
washed the body, stripping off the bloody gar-
ments, and found the silver key attached to
his girdle. What treasure is thereby secured?
His Chamberlain gave the explanation. It was
the key of the silver casket in the palace of Rouen,
containing the cowl and robe wrung from Abbot
Martin : and with plaint and wail, the Corpse,

Longue-

P ee's wrapt in a silken shroud, was slowly conveyed

corpse re- * *

Sou e en. to t<> Rouen.

state of 32. Normandy, when the appalling fate of

the Sovereign had been announced, continued



imraedi- . ...-.

ateiy after steady in gloomy tranquillity. I he sympathy 01
laume's grief and the apprehension of danger, the com-

deatn.

mon affection entertained towards the young
Child and the common peril, produced quiescence
amongst all parties, and silenced all contentions.



AND RICHARD SANS PEUR. 311

Not even did the impatient Armoricans endea- 936-943
vour to insurge against the Regency, which Guil- ^HdT
laume Longue-epee had so considerately provided
for the government of the country during the
minority of his son. True did his friends con-
tinue to their trust. Bernard the Dane adhered
religiously to his promise ; he watched the child
as the apple of his eye.

Bernard, the valiant companion of Hollo when Bernard

the Dane.

the Terra Normannorum was first won, retained
his pre-eminence, universally acknowledged as
the President of the Land, Commander of the
Norman forces, the Leader and the Councillor
of the State. Bernard's great bodily vigour was
scarcely diminished ; his mental powers w r ere
in full vigour. Bernard was equally adequate
to the cares of the cabinet, or the strain of the
chevauchee, not such another in Normandy for
his years. Veritably did he exemplify the true
Norman type according to the repute w r hich
the Norman race popularly acquired ; the half-
savage Danish cunning subtilized by civiliza-
tion, quick, clever, astute, full of devices and
wiles, and enjoying the artifices by which he
gained his ends. Bernard's aspect bespoke his
character. The Minstrels celebrate his long
flowing grey beard, which equally certified and
symbolized his age and sapience :

La barbe aveit blanche e florie,

N'aveit en toute Normandie

Un Chevalier de son aage

Qui mieux semblast prodome e sage.



312 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE,

936-913 Yet whilst the observers admired the rough-
, * , barked antient, they would smile when they be-
held his delicate young wife by his side, and
express their doubts whether, in one respect, it
might not be thought that the wrinkled Sage
had lacked discretion. An octogenarian, he had
married a tender damsel of high degree, and the
Minstrels who describe Bernard's long flowing
grey beard, were equally fluent in the praises of
the varied charms and attractions which adorned
the lovely Lady :

Gente Dame de haut parage
Bele, corteise, e proz e sage.

Her name is unknown, though like many other
beauties, she was doomed to attain an unlucky
poetical celebrity.
Botho, Some other of the principal personages are

Osmond de .

centviiies, also brought before us. Botho, occupied by the

Raoul L J

affairs of government, transferred the actual
charge of the young Richard his god-son, to the
anxious and affectionate Osmond de Centviiies.

The ungain character of Raoul Torta (after-
wards the unpopular minister of the young Duke)
has been clearly chronicled, but we do not know
much concerning his personal history. Possibly
he may have been connected with Hugh-le-Grand,
inasmuch as his son Gautier, Bishop of Paris, had
previously been one of the Duke-abbot's flock
a Monk in his Monastery of Saint Denis. Raoul
Torta was opulent and influential, enjoying large
possessions, and supported by numerous friends



AND RICHARD SANS PEUR. 313

and retainers in the vicinity of Rouen. But though 935-943
the before-mentioned nobles enjoyed the highest ,^^ '
political station, yet the head of the Baronage
for we may now fairly begin to employ this term
was Yvo, the " Veteranus" or the " Fortis Mar-
chio" or the " Formargis? or the " Normannus
Normannorum" the founder of five great families,
Belesme, Ponthieu, Perche, Alen9on, and, through
the female line, Montgomery.

Proud Liutgarda, amply endowed by Guil-



marriages.



laume Longue-epee, and retaining her endow- ota their
ment, very speedily departed ; and within a short
time after Guillaume Longue-epee's murder, she
became the congenial consort of Thibault Count
of Blois. According to the Fecamp version of the
sad story, the Tricheur, hasting away from the
eyot of Picquigny, was the first who conveyed the
intelligence of the happy riddance to Herbert of
Vermandois,Guillaume's father-in-law: and, attri-
buting to himself, whether truly or untruly,
the merit of the misdeed, solicited and obtained
the Widow's hand. Be this as it may, the mar-
riage operated much to the annoyance of Nor-
mandy. As long as she lived, Liutgarda enter-
tained the most direful antipathy against the
young Richard, whether she disliked the son
for the sake of his father, or whether she had
been provoked by Guillaume's attachment to
Richard's mother, the Concubine.

With that much defamed but really honest



314 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE,

936943 woman our group must be terminated. Espriota
. . seems to have continued for some time near her
son; but when he had passed from captivity
into exile, and the troubles came on possibly at
the juncture when the shameful conduct of the
French garrison of Rouen towards the Norman
women occasioned so much distress she, like
her Vermandois rival, took a husband, but hers
was a worthy and substantial man, Asperling,
or Sperling, the rich Miller of Vaudreuil. The
fruit of this marriage was the renowned Raoul,
Count of Yvri.

Divine 33. " The right divine of kings to govern

kings not wrong," had not been promulgated in the mediaeval

recognized

during the era. Wrong enough was done, but not sacrilegiously

mediaeval J

periods, sanctioned by any attribution of Divinity. Kings
and beggars, fellow- subjects to the same autho-
rity, fellow-sinners, none were permitted, ac-
cording to the teaching of the mediaeval ethos, to
break God's laws, or exonerate themselves from
their duty towards man. Not that all men were
amenable to the same tribunals, or liable to the
same temporal law, yet the Sovereign was encir-
cled by a boundary, which, if he overpassed, shut
him out as a transgressor ; there was a Code to
which he must conform. Men's base passions were
as rife as they ever were and always will be. Poets
flattered, Courtiers crouched, and Prelates cringed,
but no grave, cassocked Homilists had dared to
utter the sycophantic blasphemy that the Eternal



AND RICHARD SANS PEUR. 315

had communicated his name to a mortal king 930943

Render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. ^~^ '
Render due submission, so far as submission is
due ; but nothing more. Fear God first, then
honour the King.

Assuredly, in one sense, regal dominion is really



ac-






a divine right, inasmuch as through Him kings the
reign. The first King placed over the People of as the type
God, albeit the people sinned in demanding him,
received his kingdom through the Prophet's
ordination, sealing him to be the secular Chief
of the Lord's inheritance. Therefore it was
appointed by the mediaeval Church that the So-
vereign should be hallowed in his dignity; the
Christian Minister ruling the Christian People ;
governing the Holy Nation by Priestly Royalty,
such was the theory of Mediaeval society. The
King appertained to the Clerisy ; a principle most
plainly affirmed by our antient English common
law. Even as the Priest was set apart to perform
his office, so was the King. Even as the Bishop
vowed and promised before the altar, duly to per-
form his functions, so did the King. And the
covenant which the King, upon the demand of
the Church, then entered into with his people,
summed up, in three brief clauses, (hereafter
to be noticed), every essential obligation of a
Sovereign.

Le Roi est mort ! Vive le Roi ! was the pro-
clamation made by the gorgeous Herald to the



316 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE,

936-943 trumpet's sound, when the surcoat was embla-
* . zoned, and the helmet crested, and the em-
broidered banner dropped ponderously pendant,
shadowing the foliated ogive-canopy of the sepul-
chre. But the maxim, Le mort saisit le vif, was
not undeniable law if applied to the Sovereign
during the subsistence of the Carlovingian race,
nay not even during the early generations of the
Third Dynasty. Firmly as the principle of an
hereditary right, vested in any given lineage,
may have obtained, it was not a right absolutely
inherent in the person. The son did not enter
upon the royal authority, as a matter of course,
after his father's demise. Amongst Subjects, the
Benefice, Fief, Feud, or Lehn, was not brought
into the heir's legal possession until he had been
acknowledged by his Superior, neither could the
Sovereign-apparent consider himself as clothed
with royalty until sanctioned by the recognition
of the Commonwealth. A father might, for the
ensuring the transmission of the Kingdom to the
Son, associate that Son to himself in the exercise
Hereditary of the regal office ; nevertheless in some guise or

right re-
quiring the another the affirmation of the State was required;

ratification

nor could the right, though indefeasibly apper-
taming to the lineage, be perfected, until such
acceptance could be testified : upon each muta-
tion of occupancy, a pause ensued.

Therefore, however solemn had been young
Hichard's inauguration at Danish Bayeux, Nor-



AND RICHARD SANS PEUR. 317

mancly must ratify the compact, and that assent 936943
must be given which it was needful to solicit, ^HXZX
though no one could anticipate a refusal.. The
same principle is still exemplified in England
when, the right to the throne having been

previously acknowledged by those who accord-
ing to antient custom speak on behalf of the
Community, the yet uncrowned Sovereign is
presented before the shrine of the Confessor to
the Lieges of the Realm.

It was a great advantage to Bernard the interment

. of Guil-

Dane and the Council of Regency, that the slow laume

Longue-

progress of the funereal train from the banks of^ ei "

* Kouen Ca-

the Somme, had afforded them full leisure forgS
opportune consideration. The time was em- i" a n l . gura
ployed in devising the measures best calculated
to ensure the country's safety, and the future sta-
bility of the young Richard's dignity. He was
forthwith brought away from Danish Bayeux,
and lodged in Rollo's palace in Romane Rouen,
and Bernard the Dane for we can scarcely
question but that he suggested the proceedings
effected the young Duke's inauguration shrewdly
and sagaciously, appealing not merely to the
political opinions and affections of the people,
but also to their imaginative feelings. Nor is
it any disparagement to the good sense of those
who directed the solemn ceremony that there
was a marked attention to dramatic effect,



318 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE,

936943 an impressive contrast exhibited between grief
,+ , and gladness, a striking transition from mourning
to joy. This tendency to poetize the affairs
of human life seems to have been innate amongst
the French, and it is one of the elements which
potently contributed to the developement of
chivalry.

In the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Chieftains
and Nobles, Priesthood and Laity, Normans and
Bretons, were crowded a vast commixed as-
sembly. Guillaume Longue-epee's deep-dug rest-
ing-place had been prepared opposite to his
father's tomb. By the side of the yawning grave
stood the bier, bearing the swathed cere-clothed
corpse.

The still existing effigy which transmits Guil-
laume's portraiture, may, though the tomb be of
later date, be readily accepted as recording the
traditions of the antient times. The long-bladed
sword, sheathed in the gemmed scabbard, was
lying as on the dead man's breast. All was ready
yet the obsequies were stayed. No movement
was made for the dark descent into the pit, and
the untouched corpse remained a weight upon
the bier. Then was the young Richard suddenly
brought forth, the pleasant and fearless child.
You would have known Richard Sans Peur any-
where as Guillaume's child, -the child displaying
the characteristics of the antient Danish race, the



AND RICHARD SANS PEUR. 319

bright tints, the fair complexion, the golden hair, 936943
and the brilliant eyes ; the features which, to the ^HCH!
last, were hereditary in Rollo's gifted progeny.
One universal shout arose when the Boy was
presented before the multitude. With one ac-
claim they acknowledged the heir of Guillaume
Longue-epee and of Rollo ; they would serve
him, they would defend him, they would live
and die for him, their natural Sovereign.

The proceedings were opened by the Armo- Recogm-
ricans, Count Juhel Berenger took up the speech, chTrd on 1
an honour possibly rendered to his Comitial dig-



nity, as if he and Alain were the chief Peers of
the Northman's Monarchy. Moreover the increase
of the Danish forces in the Cotentin, and the fear
entertained by the Bretons lest the Pagan Danes
might renew their devastations, compelled them
to draw closer to the Christianized Northmen.
But in whatever manner the pre-eminence thus
ceded to the Count of Rennes may have been
construed or taken, any way it manifested that
Bretons and Normans were equally determined to
co-operate in maintaining the dignity of the Ducal
Realm. Juhel Berenger insisted upon Richard's
right, echoing the popular postulation, The boy
must be their Duke, their Patrician, their Sove-
reign. Guillaume's shield had fallen, Richard's
shield must be raised. And, continuing his im-
passioned argument, the Count of Rennes de-
manded how otherwise than mustered under one



320 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE,

936-943 standard, could they protect themselves against
^~^ the invasion of the enemy ? Again, a thunder-
ing shout declared the universal consent ; and
now the young Richard became qualified to re-
ceive the consecrated investiture.

Only to a crowned King did the sacramental
unction appertain, and not to every crowned King-
was that ordinance extended. The Duke's exalted
rank entitled him to the benediction of the altar,
and that benediction was bestowed. So to speak,
he was in minor orders. In all respects, save am-
pulla and diadem, did the Ducal inauguration and
the royal coronation correspond, and the three
promises which the young Richard made to the
people, binding himself to their observance in the
Saviour's name that he would preserve Peace
to Church and people, prohibit all oppression
and violence and in all his judgments observe
justice and mercy were those exacted from
every Sovereign. Peculiar reference was made
in the Collects to Richard's youth. He received
the ring and was girt with the sword sym-
bolizing his espousal to the dominion whereof
he was to be the natural defender.

The Lieges now perfected the compact. Again
were the Armorican Chieftains foremost in tes-
tifying their obedience, placing their hands within
the hands of Richard : and the other Nobles and
Chieftains followed their example. The shrines
were brought forth, and the Gospel book and the



AND RICHARD SANS PEUR. 321

Holy Rood ranged in awful array before them, and, 936943
the oath of fidelity being taken, the young son T^ '
of Guillaume Longue-epee was full Sovereign.

But the young Richard inherited more from Loyalty of
Guillaume Lomme-epee than his dominions, he mans to -

wards Ri-

enjoyed a better defence than the trenchant chard -
sword a more potent safeguard than any po-
litical theory he commanded his people's loyalty.
This unreasoning sentiment, resulting from a
higher source than human reason, is as much a
gift as any other natural affection, a free gift of
the heart, uncoercible as love, and, like love, in
no wise depending upon the worth of the object
to whom the affection is rendered : and we are
constrained to say it ought not.

However deficient in principle, Guillaume
Longue-epee's character was very winning. Not
are the wisest the most regretted after death,
because their wisdom rebukes our folly; nor
the pious, inasmuch as their example shames
us ; nay, humiliating as the confession may be,
not always even the truly loving ; their very
tenderness being oft-times a trouble to our per-
verse hearts. Most generally are those lamented
who are most agreeable, whose geniality puts us
in good humour with ourselves. Vive Henri
Quatre! Scarcely would the vert-galant lover
of la belle Galrielle have been so deplored, had it
not been for his sunny bonhommie superadded to
the primal charm of his libertinism.

VOL. II. Y



322 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, GUILLAUME LONGUE-EPEE.

936943 Guillaume Longue-epee's redeeming virtue
. ' , was his firm and merciful administration of jus-
tice. Endeared to his subjects by the protection
he afforded, his brightness fascinated them, and
the resentment excited by the cruel treachery of
his enemies, exalted the popular grief to a strain
of indignant enthusiasm. All the affection for
Guillaume Lougue-epee was transferred to the
young Richard. All the Norman parties, the
fully Romanized, the settled Danishry, even the
Pagan Northmen, entertained the same ardent
feeling. Richard was a most precious pledge to
whoever was interested in the affairs of Normandy,
whether as a friend or as an enemy.

Richard's right was unassailable and indubit-
able. No ambitious intruder from amongst the
Northmen would be allowed to rise up as his
rival. No stranger from without, should dare to
challenge his dominion. All conjoined in rever-
ing their infant Chief as the representative of the
Commonwealth. Adverse as the parties were in
interest and opinions, all were consentaneous in
their determination. Under one Ruler, Nor-
mandy should continue one State, one undivided
Monarchy. They never swerved from this normal
doctrine, the boundaries of Normandy never re-
ceded, and the Dukes of Normandy became as
independent as the Kings of France, whose supe-
riority they acknowledged, but whose behests
they never held themselves bound to obey.



CHAPTER IV.

LOUIS D^OUTREMER LOTHAIRE AND LOUIS LE FAINEANT-
RICHARD SANS TEUR ACCESSION OF THE CAPETS.



888987.
942987.
fi 1- HIC DEFECERUNT REGES DE ^-

*

STIRPE KAROLL Inscribed in uncial ca-
pitals, this sentence, or its equivalent, rouses the '



reader as he labours through the manuscript The last

. . era of the

commemorating the fates and narrating the for- Cariovin-

gian dy-

tunes of antient France. It is the usual practice nasty

accelerated

of the French monastic chronographers thus to [
bear record of the great event The parchment
rises up before you as a sepulchral memorial,
the words startle you as the epitaph of the
doomed race. The sand is running out rapidly.
The thrice-repeated Eight, the Eight hundred
Eighty and Eight, dissolved the Carlovingian
Empire ; and the Ninety and Nine circling years
which ensued, and through which we are now
passing, are fast conducting us to the last of
these remarkable secular numbers, the Nine,
the Eight, the Seven, when the knell of Charle-
magne's dynasty was rung.

All the devices whereby Man seeks to delay
the dread sentence which decrees that he shall

Y2



024 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 return unto the dust from whence he was taken,
all his endeavours to cast a veil over the hide-
ousness of death, either enhance the loathsomeness
of corruption, or sharpen the rebuke of mundane
vanity. Charlemagne's embalmed corpse, then and
still abiding in the ghastly tomb-chamber of Aix-
la-Chapelle mocked and mocks the decay, the dis-
grace, and the ruin of the glorious Empire which
he had founded. Nevertheless, whilst the Mo-



of the mo- iiarchy was failing in the persons of the perplexed
principle. Rulers, the monarchical spirit continued to wax in
strength. More firmly was the abstract doctrine of
hereditary right protected by law, and far more
forcibly advocated by public opinion, than when
the Pontiff placed the diadem on the brows of
Pepin's son.

Never indeed, under any circumstances, had
the Monarchical principle been contravened by
the populations within the ambit of the Empire
no other form of government was known by
them. The exceptions, when examined, prove
to be no exceptions, or exceptions proving the
rule. Regality was the organic element of the
Commonwealth, the Commonwealth could not
otherwise exist : an acephalous body politic was
inconceivable. One supreme Pontiff, Head of
the Christian Church; one Emperor,| Temporal
Head of the Christian Commonwealth ; one King
in each Kingdom. No, not even when the rem-
nants of the Carlovingian Empire had been rent



ACCESSION OF THE CAPETS. 325

asunder, was the dream of founding a Republic 912954
entertained. Each King whose Kingdom had at ^~^
any time been fashioned out of the ruins of the
Carlovingian Empire ruled his realm with im-
perial right; every King, receiving the regal
benediction, was as an Emperor within his king-
dom.

Louis d'Outremer acted on the full con- character

of Louis.

viction that this position was irrefragable. Well
versed in the arts of government ; bold without
rashness ; happily unincumbered by any inconve-
nient scruples of political morality; retaining the
undiminished consciousness of his exalted dignity
despite of his mortifications and misfortunes :
all these qualities invigorated him during the hard
conflict he had to wage he fought the good
fight of royalty with the spirit of a King. During
his whole life Louis was, to use the common
expression, under female influence, and, for a man
of his rank, in a singular manner ; that influence
having been only exercised by Mistresses who
might legitimately demand it.

During childhood and adolescence the ener- influence

of Og-iva,

cretic Osiva, who had rescued him from perpetual who he

A appoints



imprisonment or death, continued to act as
wise and sagacious guardian. After his marriage * at
with Gerberga, the closer claims of the wife
superseded parental authority; yet the dutiful
affection which Louis entertained for his mother
was not diminished. He loved her and he



326 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 honoured her, testifying his sentiments by prac-
, ^_, tical kindness and liberality. So completely
had Louis been despoiled of his domains, that
Gerberga, on her second marriage, does not ap-
pear to have received any dowry, whilst she lost
a part (some say the whole) of that which, as
the relict of Gilbert the bold swimmer, she
ought to have held in Lorraine. Louis, there-
fore, not having any proper means of his own,



Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 23 of 60)