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won them wooers, aye, and successful wooers,
from amongst the flourishing garrison. We
can readily imagine how the King's gallant
knights discreetly exulted or merrily complained
that they had been the tempted as well as the



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 473

in the very presence of a wily and audacious 942954
enemy, had not thought of adopting any of the ,
ordinary precautions which ought to be almost
intuitive in a soldier : he had completely ne-
glected the examination of the country. The
French heeded not the vicinity of the rueful
ford. No outposts were stationed, no scouts sent
out, no sentinels set to make the rounds ; but, as
soon as the eve came on, the tables were spread,
and the French prepared by their usual jollities
for whatever the morrow the feast of Saint
Eugenius might bring forth, whether for good,
whether for evil. Such was not the bearing of
their keen enemies. With them, "boot and vigilance

the Danes.

saddle* had sounded ere the faint twilight had
begun to peer in the verge of the clear and
placid horizon. At the hour of tierce, whilst
Louis and his merry men were still deadened by
the potency of their wine, Harold and his forces
had long since crossed the Dive. Old Bernard
also, awaiting the deliverers of the Land, had he
not been watching to greet the bright dawning
of the glorious summer-day ?

Firmly and briskly were the Danes ad- 13 July,
vancing, battalion following battalion. No check The Dan

cross the

offered, no obstacle opposed, no challenge given,
no alarm sounded. The dank margins, the rushy
plashes and the dewy meadows, were silent before
them. And Bernard's heart beat high with joy,
when in the distance he first saw the armour of



474 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

9-12954 the Cotentin Vanguard, glistening and flashing
' ^ with the marching men's tread, as they met the
slothful horizontal rays of the rising sun, The heedless



French, overpowered by debauch for otherwise
such a sottish sluggishness is inexplicable- -were
totally unprepared. Not a soul was stirring.
Louis was droning in his bed, and Bernard let
him enjoy his slumber : but when the Danes
were fast approaching, he roused the King with
malicious pleasure.- -Sleep on, Sir King, if you
choose to sleep, but seven hundred bright hel-
mets are drawing nigh to attend you at your
levee. A hasty gathering of the army ensued,
their royal Commander, sorely dispirited. How
ill had he begun the day ! Sure he was that
a battle would ensue, arid he had a presentiment
of impending calamity.

But the die was cast. - And Louis with fated
imprudence advanced to the tryst, Harold on
the spot near the ford, thoroughly prepared,
eagerly expecting him. Great was the following
on either part ; Louis, accompanied by Herlouin,
Harold's choicest troops surrounding him. The
men of the Cotentin stood closest to the Danner-
konge as his body-guard, armed to the very
teeth, their shields braced, their lances planted,
hardly able to restrain their impatience for
the quarrel, or for seizing any opportunity of
making a quarrel with the enemy.

In nowise had the Monarchs abated their



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 461

ately ensued had not the fermentation been 942954
checked by old Bernard. " Le Ion temps , * ^
viendra." -The good time for casting off



yoke was no longer coming. The good time

\ i * TI , i , rise against

had come. As is usually the case, not exactly the French.
such a good time as the expectants could have
wished, yet sufficiently opportune for accom-
plishing the work of liberation, provided the
resources possessed by the Normans could be
brought to bear effectually upon the enemy.
Bernard's influence tranquillized the Nobles,
and they curbed the impatience of the villainage,
preventing any premature explosion.

30. The key of Bernard's operations, mili- Bernard
tary and political, was Harold Blaatand's camp, organizes

I. i r^ -IT 11 ^' s I^ ans

wherever that Camp might be; and a plot was tor bring-

ing Louis iu

now organized by the confederate accomplices conflict

J t with the

for the purpose of entangling the King in a Danes -
direct conflict with the Danes. In these machi-
nations, Bernard the Dane, and the Normans
generally,- -Bernard de Senlis, and the Verman-
dois interest, Thibaut le Tricheur and Liut-
garda, and Hugh - le - Grand, all concurred.
Hugh-le-Grand entered heartily into the Nor-
man cause, convinced that it would be best for
him to renounce all pretensions to Normandy
beyond the Seine, and to win the cordial alliance
of the Normans, by supporting the House of
Rollo. The Normans might have contented
themselves with the complete extrusion of the



462 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 French, accompanied by a solemn renunciation
, A ^ of all the onerous rights in and over Normandy

944 945

which Louis had usurped or claimed ; but Hugh-
le-Grand was peculiarly anxious to make a cap-
ture of the King's person. He was labouring for
the attainment of a great object which he could
not otherwise expect to accomplish, and the lan-
guage he employed when the design was brought
to a satisfactory conclusion, was such, as to shew
that he felt himself under obligations to the
Normans for the help they gave. And in truth
he deserved it.

Sullen tranquillity prevailed. Louis how-
ever, well convinced that, like Thurmod the
type of the nation, - the crouching Norman
would make a spring upon him, should he
ever be found off his guard, continued stationed
at Rouen watching the state of affairs so jealously,
that when Gerberga for the tenth or twelfth
time was again en gesine at Laon, he, pay-
ing a hasty visit to the bedside, returned to
Rouen as soon as the poor feeble baby " Car-
loman ' had been christened. Notwithstand-
ing the briefness of the span of life allotted to
the infant Prince, he was destined to be com-
memorated in an important passage of his
father's history.

Inasmuch as the success of the whole scheme
depended upon the coup de main to be accom-
plished by Harold Blaatand, it was needful, that



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 463

whilst preparing for the invasion of Normandy, 942954
Louis should be furnished with occupation else- , * ,

944945

where, so that he might be compelled to divide his
forces, and withdraw from the Norman Capital. -
Hugh-le-Grand threw off all reserve. Joined by
Bernard de Senlis, the assailants suddenly burst
into the ever-harassed Diocese of Rheims. Mori-
tigny, that recent reacquisition so much prized
by Louis, was insufficiently guarded ; Compiegne, Compiegne
tempting and pleasant, wholly undefended ;- - dered -
and these were the points against which the
Confederates first directed their annoying hos-
tilities. The better day, the better deed. On 6 April,

f 945.

Easter Sunday, Montienv was occupied and J? ugll ,~ le ",

J * Grand and

burnt. They then dashed at Compiegne, break- ^J|f^
ing open the Treasure -chamber and clearing M0ntigny<
out the regalia. In a literal sense therefore,
Louis was now sceptreless and crownless.
Severe was the loss, yet even more mortifying
another insult which he experienced immediately
afterwards. When Bernard enjoyed himself at
Compiegne, he fancied the King's hounds, and
the King's horses, and the King's sporting gear.
So Compiegne had to mourn another raid, for
Bernard emptied the King's mews, the King's
kennels, and the King's stables.

This was insufferable. Louis could not pos- Louis quits

Rouen, and

sibly sit quiet at Rouen : and having, as it marches

J / t &< against

appears, dismantled certain portions of the forti- t, he confe -

1 A derates.

fications which would assist the Normans in



464 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 making fight if they ventured to become re-
, A , bellious during his absence, he collected his

944945

forces and entered the Vermandois, which he
ravaged cruelly. Archbishop Hugh, whom,
through our long acquaintance with him since
his boyhood, we shall hardly be able to help
calling the "Parvulus' to the end of his days,
was in possession of Rheims, Artaldus being
expelled from See and City. Louis again took
up the old quarrel, and having summoned Count
Arnoul and Herlouin, he laid siege to Rheims, pil-
laging Champagne, which, though Saint Remy's
Patrimony, was not indulged with any immunity.
Harold 31. Whilst Louis, thus enticed away, was

begins the compelled to waste his strength in an un-



-

iterance, profitable expedition, Harold Blaatand began the

A M v un

tagesre- war of deliverance. Had Guillaume Longue-

sulting to

him from epee granted the bold and massy peninsula of

his posi-

tion in the Cornouaille to Blaatand with the express intent

Cotentm.

that the Danish settlement should command all

Normandy, he could not have selected a posi-

Haroid tion better calculated to answer that object. The

head- tradition assigning the foundation of " Csesaris



Cher- Burgus" to the Roman Hero may be doubtful,

hourg. P . J

but though the opinion that he there prepared
for the conquest of Britain cannot be accepted
as an historical fact, it evidences the popular
appreciation of the importance possessed by a
position, giving the mastery over all the ad-
joining coasts, whether by land or sea.



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 465

At Cherbourg, therefore, Harold fixed his 942954
head-quarters, whilst a squadron of the Danish , ,

1 944945

fleet assembled at Barfleur, which, during the The es -
mediaeval period, was one of the most fre- the hive

entered by

quented ports of Normandy. The vessels then a Danish

squadron.

sailed round to the estuary of the Dive, the
stream which divides the Lieuvin from the
Bessin, the latter being the district immediately
adjoining the Baillage of Caen.

The whole of this coast has sustained great
alterations. To the west of the Dive, pirogues
and semi-fossilized human bones have been ex-
cavated at a depth of more than twenty feet;
and, above them, the ploughshare discloses the
memorials of comparatively recent generations,
coins of the Antonines, and other relics, dating
from the Empire. It has been calculated Groat al -

terations

that the alluvial soil deposited by the agency
of the adjoining rivers, raises the surface of
the coarse meadows under which these objects
have been discovered, at the rate of about
half a foot in each hundred years. The river
Dive, now sluggish and narrow, and flowing to
the east of the salt-marshes of Corbon, the
latter almost desiccated at present, then fell
into the open sea at Bavent, near Troarn, above
Warville. It was up to Bavent that the Danish
vessels sailed. The shore has advanced more
than ten English miles beyond the points which
marked the mouth of the river, so late as the

VOL. II. H H



466 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 twelfth century. These local details, not unim-
, ( portant to the geologist, acquire considerable

944-945 f . . 1 A f^

historical value as evidencing the accuracy ol the

narrative whence they are collected or deduced.

Position of At Corbon, on the left or western bank of

the Danish

army near the Dive, in 3. situation protected by the salt-

the salt- J

marshes of ing;s, but nigh to a convenient ford, the Danish

I or DOB.

Standard was raised. Bayeux had already re-
ceived Harold as a Commander, perhaps as a
Sovereign. His advent had been hailed as a
general jubilee. No need to kindle the beacons
General or send round the summons. From every

rising of , . . , . i i n i TVT

theinha- district and region beyond the beme the rsor-

bitants of . .

the Basse mans crowded in. High and low, gentle and

Norman

the simple, peasant and burgess, rich and poor,

? clerk and clown. Most profusely were provi-
i i j

Innykf sions supplied for the welcome deliverers : bread
and flesh meat, fish, salt and fresh, brought and
carried by skiff and boat, pack-horse and wain.

How accurate were the statements made by
Bernard when worrying the perplexed Louis
by descanting upon the advantages he had
so imprudently cast away ! From the whole
of these territories did the inhabitancy rise
and rally, from Mortaigne and the Passeis, from
the Avranchin, and the wide forest-land of
Cinglais, the cradle of so many noble families :
but, excelling all the rest, the men of the Cotentin
and the Bessin, arrayed in the brightest armour,
girt with the sharpest steel. In after times the



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 467

Normans boasted that amongst the ancestors of 942954
their Baronage, you would not have found three, , ^
who failed to aid the Danish Harold. Indeed
the conflict was national. They were combating
for their despoiled Monarch, their lands, their
liberties, their honour. Thronging round Harold,
they besought him to rescue them from de-
grading servitude. Their enthusiasm became
contagious. Danes and Normans exulted in
the expectation, not merely of regaining Nor-
mandy, but subjugating the adverse Realm.

32. Thoroughly master of himself, deep Bernard
in dissimulation, Bernard the Dane, during the works upon



Louis.



whole of these transactions had not manifested
any discontent or anger. A good subject to
Louis had he been, and a good subject would he
be, to the very last. He acted as though he were
the only man in Normandy ignorant of the
ignominy preparing for him. Feigning great
alarm at Harold's approach whilst chuckling with
joy, Bernard despatched messengers to Louis,
earnestly exhorting him forthwith to furnish
succour, or else Normandy would be lost.

Common fame had prevented the message.
All France was shaken. The greatest panic was
excited by the invasion of the Pagan army, re-
ported to exceed twenty thousand men ; but the
sudden burst of patriotism which contributed so
potently to the success of the Battle of the
Rescue, far from subsiding, had become an

H H 2



468 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 active sentiment. The French accepted the
, > Danish challenge, and were enthusiastically

944? ~ 945 1 *l. T ' *U

Energy seeking to engage in the war. Louis, the con-
b/Loms queror of Sithric and Thormod, again glowed with
French, desire to wield his sword against the barbarian
enemy. He exulted in the assured expectation
of winning another triumph. He marvelled at
their ignorant insolence. Better would it have
been for Harold to have attempted to sue for
terms when skulking behind the swamps of Hun-
gary, than thus to beard the son of Charlemagne
in his own land. No pardon for the Pirate
should he be caught: rope and gallows would
be ready for him, his fitting reward.

The French fully participated in their Sove-
reign's ardour. Never had the summons for the
arrire-ban been more cheerfully obeyed. In
the lost Latin chronicle which the Trouveur care-
fully quotes, ten thousand knights were recorded
as having been assembled. Count Herlouin and
his brother Count Lambert were the chief com-
manding officers under the King. And if we
assume the number of nobles whom the catas-
trophe left stiff and cold upon the field, as
Powerful affording reasonable data for calculating the
amount who, bright and hearty, joined the



army, it should seem that the whole earldom
of France obeyed their Sovereign's call.

33. Louis went forth to the battle as to
a festival. The campaign opened when the



Louis en-
near



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 469

weather was of the finest. He marched to 942954

Rouen, but he made no stay, and, without , ^

entering the City, he advanced rapidly against
the enemy, taking his position opposite the
Corbon marshes.

So formidable was the front presented by Louis
the French, that, if the Normans be^an to doubt against

Harold.

whether they might not perish through their
own device, their transient timidity would have
been excusable. Fair play and an open field,
granted to the French, might be Harold's ruin,
and there are circumstances slightly indicative of
a desire, on his part, for a pause. Neither was
Louis quite so bold as he seemed. And, whether
seeking to make a shew of magnanimity, or
perhaps weighing the consequences which might
attend a conflict with the combined forces as-
sembled under Harold, he would not have been
quite unwilling to retard actual hostilities. The
simple diplomacy of the Middle Ages does not
offer the refinements, which, in modern times,
characterize that great science of equivocation
and tergiversation. But their negotiations were
conducted on the same principles ; and we may
harmonize the somewhat inconsistent and not
always probable narratives, by adopting the
conviction that either party was trying to over-
reach the other. So far however as the affairs
of Normandy were concerned, it is sufficient
for us to ascertain that the plot concocted



470 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942964 between Harold and Hugh-le-Grand and the
/ ^ Normans had been most considerately planned

944945 m / J

and fully answered its end, the desired result
being obtained, though not by the exact pro-
cess which the Parties had proposed.

We will not therefore examine whether the
proposition for a conference originated with
Louis or with Harold. When accepted, each
Sovereign maintained his station, and it was
therefore agreed that the discussions should,
according to the ancient and almost invariable
custom, be conducted upon the borders of the
The French stream . The French encampment might be

encamp-
ment on seen spreading and stretching along the eastern

bank of the Dive. In their rear, was that fine
and fertile mixture of hill and plain extending
to the pleasant vicinity wherein the abbey of
Valricher was subsequently founded by the de-
votion of Archbishop Harcourt, old Bernard's
descendant. Magnificent was the spectacle ex-
hibited, the tents and pavilions, their stuff fresh
from the loom, unfrayed by use, undimmed by
rain, their bright colours unfaded by the rays
of the Sun in whose light they were for the first
time shining. Amidst these thousand tents,
snow-white and azure and scarlet, the golden
pavilion of Louis, emulating Oriental splendour,
arose conspicuous, surmounted by the radiant
eagle, the heir-loom of Charlemagne's Empire.
An hundred heavy bezaunts counted out on the



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 471

table would not have equalled the worth of that 942954
precious ensign. Never had there been seen a , ^ ,

m m 944945

more unsparing display of noble armour, spirited
horses, and a more brilliant and imposing army.

The gorgeousness of the Court was conjoined
to martial dignity. The Camp was furnished
with all the appliances of luxury. Rich tapestry ;
silken hangings and chests filled with robes of
estate; salvers and beakers, and drinking-horns
mounted in gold and silver. The banquets
were continued, as usual, until late in the night ;
and the French were exalted to the highest
state of ominous enthusiasm by this last and
fatal flash of the expiring Carlovingian glories.

Very different was the sober aspect of their
opponents assembled on the opposite bank,
around or nigh the salt-marshes of Corbon.
No movements had taken place on the part of
Harold. There were the mixed hosts of Pagan
Danes and Norman Danes, and all the levies
of the " Oultre-Seine." Their tranquillity might
inspire greater dread than any cry of war.

The French exulted loudly, yet it may be i2jui y ,
doubted if their hopes were really so sanguine Conference
as the anticipations entertained by the gravely the Danes

J J and the

taciturn Danes. Our trusty Trouveur terms French on

' the hanks

the conference a "Parliament;" and the Danes of the Dive.
fully expected that this same Parliament, com-
mencing with a debate, would terminate in a
battle. Assuredly, the flowing river severed the



472 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 antagonistic Hosts, and it had been agreed that
A N each Monarch should abide on his own border;

944945 _ _ , , -p. l

but we may be certain that the Danes who
courted the conflict and knew the country well,
had fully ascertained the points and positions
where they might most easily cross over.

The transactions between the Powers were
opened by the intervention of their respective
representatives. Messages were transmitted and
answers returned, but conveyed in language so
intemperate, that the proceedings can hardly be
termed negotiations. The Monarchs mutually
exchanged volleys of vituperation. Harold up-
braided Louis with all his treacheries ; neither
faith nor covenant had Louis kept, never had
any King dared to commit so foul a wrong or
perpetrate such an outrage as Louis, against
his sworn and faithful liegeman, the murdered
Guillaume Longue-epee. The proud French
Monarch retorted by angry threats: Harold,
even if he escaped from Normandy, would have
reason to repent him of his audacity. However,
after these silly scoldings it was agreed that
the conference should be adjourned unto the
following day, the Kings again to meet on the
eastern side of the Dive ; Harold apparently
repairing to Louis as his superior.
Want of So confident, or rather foolhardy, were the

military

precaution French, that Louis, a General, renowned, and

on the side

French J ust ty> ^ or vigilance and strategic skill, though



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 473

in the very presence of a wily and audacious 942954
enemy, had not thought of adopting any of the ,- -^
ordinary precautions which ought to be almost
intuitive in a soldier : he had completely ne-
glected the examination of the country. The
French heeded not the vicinity of the rueful
ford. No outposts were stationed, no scouts sent
out, no sentinels set to make the rounds; but, as
soon as the eve came on, the tables were spread,
and the French prepared by their usual jollities
for whatever the morrow that the feast of Saint
Eugenius might bring forth, whether for good,
whether for evil. Such was not the bearing of
their keen enemies. With them, "boot and Vigilance of

the Danes.

saddle ' had sounded ere the faint twilight had
begun to peer in the verge of the clear and
placid horizon. At the hour of tierce, whilst
Louis and his merry men were still deadened by
the potency of their wine, Harold and his forces
had long since crossed the Dive. Old Bernard
also, awaiting the deliverers of the Land, had he
not been watching to greet the bright dawning
of the glorious summer-day ?

Firmly and briskly were the Danes ad- isjuiy,

945

vancing, battalion following oattalion. No check The Danes

cross tli6

offered, no obstacle opposed, no challenge given, Dive.
no alarm sounded. The dank margins, the rushy
plashes and the dewy meadows, were silent before
them. And Bernard's heart beat high with joy,
when in the distance he first saw the armour of



474 LOUIS D'OUTREMER, LOTHAIRE, &c.

942954 the Cotentin Vanguard, glistening and flashing
( * , with the marching men's tread, as they met the

944945 . .

slothful horizontal rays of the rising sun, The heedless
offhT 1 French, overpowered by debauch for otherwise
such a sottish sluggishness is inexplicable were
totally unprepared. Not a soul was stirring.
Louis was droning in his bed, and Bernard let
him enjoy his slumber : but when the Danes
were fast approaching, he roused the King with
malicious pleasure. Sleep on, Sir King, if you
choose to sleep, but seven hundred bright hel-
mets are drawing nigh to attend you at your
levee. A hasty gathering of the army ensued,
their royal Commander sorely dispirited. How
ill had he begun the day ! Sure he was that
a battle would ensue, arid he had a presentiment
of impending calamity.

But the die was cast. - And Louis with fated
imprudence advanced to the tryst, Harold on
the spot near the ford, thoroughly prepared,
eagerly expecting him. Great was the following
on either part ; Louis, accompanied by Herlouin,
Harold's choicest troops surrounding him. The
men of the Cotentin stood closest to the Danner-
konge as his body-guard, armed to the very
teeth, their shields braced, their lances planted,
hardly able to restrain their impatience for
the quarrel, or for seizing any opportunity of
making a quarrel with the enemy.

In nowise had the Monarchs abated their



RICHARD SANS PEUR. 475

ire, not a word spoken of peaceful import, no 942954
semblance even of friendship : they faced each ,
other as the fiercest foes. Harold re-iterated
his accusations against Louis the assassin ; whilst
Louis, on his part, expressed his determination
that he never would quit Normandy until
Richard should have surrendered all claim to Heriouin's'

imprudence

the Duchy. Herlouin interfered, and most un- ljri t? son



Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 60)