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tails of the enemy's horses,- -" Lothaire goes
home ; a thousand lances shall he have for his
convoy ! ' Richard girt himself again for the
fight. Another horse was brought him ; his
fresh and spirited Castilian steed. He donned
his helmet, and prepared to start. All about

him. nobles and friends, deemed him foolhardv.


-blamed and rebuked him. Their words he

would not hear, and had crossed his siuldK- when

some clever courtier plucked at the reins, n;

led him off. And now he returned exulthmly Richard's

5 ^ triumphal

to Rouen ; not scath-free, but without having \
received a single wound.

If the Gascons were proverbially considered
as vain boasters, the antient Normans were
possessed by a kindred spirit. However in-
fluential Normandy was becoming, still we can
scarcely believe what they tell us, that every
part of Christendom, from Scandinavia to the
Alps, and beyond the Alps, delighted in Lothaire's
discomfiture ;- -East and West, North and South,
re-echoing Richard's praises.

3 B2


954987 , g 39. But the home importance appertain-
ing to the Battle of the Fords was assuredly very
great. All were angered. Lothaire stung by
his defeat. Richard affronted by the thwarted
treachery. The French Nobles, generally troubled
by the loss they had sustained, and the appre-
hension of further disasters. - Above all, Thibaut
could not rest ; and, for the third time, attempted
to satisfy his ambition, and satiate his vengeance.
The older Thibaut grew, the more intensely


aire to did he become matured in enmity. State-craft,

assert his

fluency of speech, energy, all encreased with age,
and he continued unremittingly the provocations
addressed to Richard's enemies. He reproached
King Lothaire, roused his pride, excited his fears.
Would he, contented to abide in disgrace, allow
Richard's persistence in rebellion, holding the
Norman Monarchy, without even rendering a
formal homage ? Was Lothaire worthy to be
called King of France, he who dared not assert
his Kingdom's integrity ?- -Moreover, was it not
probable that Richard, inviting his Danish kin-
dred, would inflict sorer injuries upon France
than even his grandsire Rollo ?

And now Thibaut disclosed his schemes for
Lothaire's advantage, and his own. Let Lothaire
appear before Evreux, and Evreux would open
her gates. Win Evreux for me, and I will repay
thee.- -Evreux once won, he, Thibaut, would aid
in prosecuting the warfare. Ere the approaching
Pentecost all Normandy would be at Lothaire's

at Laon.


mercy, and Lothaire would regain all that his 1 95 *7 987
luckless grandsire Charles had lost. Joyed and
overjoyed was Lothaire. He had fully learned to
comport himself as King : and, issuing his precepts
under seal, all the Lieges of France and Burgundy
were convened to his Cour Pleniere at Laon.
Lothaire, before the assembly, impeached Richard
as a Felon ; the Duke would neither obey him
as a Liege Lord, nor answer him as a Liege
Lord. He had summoned them to repair the
wrongs of France : let them support their King
and the rights of the Crown, and Normandy
should be as had it been, scarce fifteen years
since, absolutely in their power.

Ce qui a France doit servir
Ne li laisser issi tollir
Ramenez a ce les Normanz
Ou ils erent n'a pas quinze ans.

Commonplace arguments these, trivial modes
of persuasion,- -yet valuable as testifying how
appeals could be made to French national spirit,
and French exertions stimulated by the enhance-
ment of French national glory. The Nobles went
entirely with their King. Lothaire took the
command of the army, and, having summoned a
large force of his own, he was joined by Thibaut.
The opening of the war was singularly suc-
cessful. A sudden assault from without, and
the co-operation of disloyal Gilbert Machel,
or Meschrel, from within, very speedily re-
duced Evreux, and the city was transferred


954-987 into the possession of Thibaut. Imperfect as we
" know the means of intercommunication to have


been in those times, it is often startling to find
how each country was self-contained, and men
unacquainted with the movements, whether pacific
or hostile, of their near neighbours.

Richard had not surmised any practical result

from the Cour Pleniere at Laon, still less was he

prepared to frustrate the expedition against Ev-

reux. His elastic alacrity remedied the negligence.

The Banner of Saint Michael raised, Normans

and Bretons joined him by hundreds and thou-

. sands. Lothaire dared not face the defenders of

962- their country, and retreated. Richard blew the


p^chaf- counterblast. The Normans burst into Thibaut's
dominions, extending themselves over the Pays
Chartrain, mercilessly devastating the country,
plundering and pillaging. No opposition made
by the peasantry, not even in self-defence;
dispersed, they were indiscriminately slaughtered.
The active Normans were pursuing the chase for
their own profit and gain : bevies of prisoners
taken and bound, and more than two hundred
thousand marks did they vaunt as the amount of
ransom money and plunder.- -Hilarious indeed
was the grand settling day at Rouen, and Richard
disbanded his troops, supposing that he had ended
the war.

TWbaut But now it was Thibaut's turn. Richard

retaliates by

n ad shamed him, and he would shame Richard.
The manner in which this warfare was conducted
exhibits a singular contrast between the consis-


tent views of the parties, and their desultory 954-937
modes of action. Richard, however, had now ^


supplied all deficiencies. Seven hundred chosen
Companions constituted the kernel of the garrison.
A rumour had reached Richard that Thibaut was
on his march ; nay, he had entered Normandy,
supported by the power of France. The rumour
became a certainty, though the intelligence did
not define the fulness of the danger.

Anticipating the season of enterprise, Richard
had knighted a young warrior, his namesake, so
young that he was fondly called Richardet
"little Richard." And Richardet, clever and
brave, was sent forward to ascertain the numbers
and intentions of the enemy. The Chartrain army
advanced rapidly, ruining the unprotected country
in their progress, and were drawing very nigh
to Rouen.

Richardet fell in with a hostile party. He
was surrounded and handled so roughly that
though lance and sword delivered him from the as-
sailants, it was with difficulty that he escaped alive.
However, he did escape ; and when he came before
Richard, the battered helmet, the broken sword,
and the blood clotted on his visage told the
story. But Thibaut's movements were masterly Rapid ad.

vance of the

and whilst Richardet was informing Richard of

his adventure, the Chartrain forces, burning and

ville, oppo-

destroying as they pressed onwards, had actually site Rouen -
entered Hermondeville, nay, had come quite close
up to the bridge of Rouen,


Herinondeville, afterwards the great Fau-
bourg of Saint Sever, now studded with the tall
steaming shafts which capitalize the land and
stain the sky, was then a straggling hamlet ; the
scanty dwellings planted here and there amongst
pastures, woodlands, and marshes. No defence
could be made, and the Chartrains encamped in
a position which gave them a commanding station
upon the river bank, covering also a considerable
breadth of country.

So forcible was the impression made by this
invasion upon the Normans, that the particulars


of the exact locality occupied by the enemy, have
been marked out to this day by continued tradi-
tion. But the ruins of the consecrated structures
erected in subsequent ages upon the site, have
been buried so deeply, or eradicated so thorough-
ly, that the diligent archaeological topographer
alone, can designate or dream, where they once
arose, generations of buildings, so to speak,
having risen and fallen upon the ground.

Within the memory of some very few survi-
vors who remember the Cap of liberty, the Monks
of famous Bonnes-nouvelles, founded by the Con-
queror's bounty, and boasting the more than
dubious tomb of the Empress Maude, could point
out to their visitors, how and where the invaders
had pitched their tents on the site of the monas-
tery, and the adjoining grounds.

At the commencement of the present century
the lofty walls surrounding the Convent and vast
gardens of the Emraures, the first recluses ever


beheld at Rouen, were still standing, and the . 954 ~ 987 y
Nuns might beguile their winter evenings by '"^^p
relating to the novices how in the old time
Thibaut's savage soldiery had revelled within
the secluded precinct, and throughout the wide
extent of their Barony.

The small craftsmen, and mean burgesses,
inhabiting the long-shore street, grotesquely
known by the appellation of " Claque-dent," or
" Chatter-grinders," fully knew that their line of
timbered dwellings marked out a portion of the
river frontage occupied by Thibaut's camp.
Whilst " le Clos des Gallees," a Wharf upon the
Seine, adjoining the bridge head, and command-
ing it, constituted the Leaguer's termination.

Such was the very advantageous position speed and

cleverness of

selected by strategic Thibaut. No impediment
could be offered against his Troops, and their
immediate proceedings evidenced their proud
determination. They came as if they intended
to colonise. In the course of the one day, they
raised their bivouacs, pitched their tents and
pavilions, put up their camp kitchens, cooked
their food, and, when evening drew on, they
were ready to settle for the night with entire
comfort. And yet, whilst the business of the
encampment was in progress, they had not de-
sisted from active war, for their parties foraging
and ranging, were ravaging the country and
firing more and more cottages and barns.

A sad humiliation this for Richard, that the
Enemy should thus be bearding him in his own


land. But the greater the insult, the more glorious
niust be the compensation. Nor was he altogether
taken by surprise. Rouen was always in defensi-
ble condition ; the strong walls and towers in good
repair, the look-outs garnished, and the deep cre-
nellations planked and pallisaded. Resolved
to act upon the offensive, he made full show as
though he was providing only for defence :- -the
beacons were flickering and flaring upon the
ramparts, the Warders watching on the topmost
turrets, and the Sentinels walking their constant
rounds, evincing their vigilance by the incessant
blasts of their bugles. - - The seven hundred
Knights, Richard's boon companions in the Hall,
and his Capital's doughty defenders, all ready.
-Abundance of craft in the pool- -Richard
animating the whole meisnee, addressing his
men, explaining his scheme for delivering them-
selves from their foes. Sure might they be that the
enemy would believe themselves secure, and that a
sharp attack that very night would catch them off
their guard. Close must be the conflict, cut,
thrust, stab, let the blood spurt out after every
blow, but the day of battle must commence before
the dawn. A prayer is offered up by Richard in
the Cathedral, his rich mantle cast as an offering
upon the altar ; and then, the embarkation.
The Norman Silently they muster on the river bank :
g ]^ boat, barge, and galley, put in requisition.
Throughout the night the troops were crossing the
water. A brilliant night. The splendid full moon




reflected in each ripple on the broad flowing 954-937
tidal stream. But the rich moonlight was A


saddened by the incendiary glare,- -the ruins
of Hermondeville and the villages far and near,
smouldering and blazing; a scene heightening
Richard's anger and desire of revenge.

Rightly had Richard speculated upon the
over-weening confidence which possessed the
invaders. At the conclusion of their diligent
encampment day, they had retired early to rest ;
but when they were wrapped in their soundest
sleep, just before the day was breaking, the
shrill cornets were pealing, the three divisions of
the Normans, shouting "Diex-aie! 9 ' burst upon
the Camp, and the desperate fray commenced.

Such was the present inequality between the
contending parties, that, though the Normans
gained their advantage by due diligence, and the
Chartrains lost their chance by their own neglect,
the dealings of the assailants appeared almost Total rout of

the Char-

unfair. Thibaut's men were routed whilst they train arm7 '
were rising, or before. This one found his death-
bed in his heather-bed, that one, cloven down
whilst buckling his armour. The battle of Her-
mondeville could hardly be called a fight ; it was
a flight and a massacre. How triumphantly do the
Norman Trouveurs describe the destruction of
the enemy : the Norman cavalry galloping about,
hoof-crushing the fallen, the wounded, the dying,
the corpses, Richard loudly inspiriting them by
his outcry, and they encouraging themselves by
cheering Richard. Thibaut tried to rally his


1 954 ~ 987 , men, could not, and speeded away, and es-
l^^r caping simply by his horse's swiftness, he directed
The count his course to Chartres, ignorant of the sad recep-

runs away.

tion there awaiting him. At that very hour,
Thibaut 's noble city, the inhabitants knowing
nothing of the disasters then consummating on
the banks of the Seine, was resounding with
cries of terror and confusion, whilst the bells
were slowly tolling, urging the bidding prayer
for the soul of the one departing.

Few of Thibaut's troops accompanied him,
more fled in his footsteps helter-skelter, but
a greater number tried to save themselves by
skulking in the woods and swamps. These
mostly became the victims of their own terrors.
Out poured the Burgesses from Rouen, wielding
gisarme and battle-axe ; the peasantry followed
with club and scythe. Very many prisoners were
taken, and magnificent was the booty grabbled
by the Burghers and Clowns stripping the bloody
carcases. Six hundred and forty were counted on
the field. Richard employed the day in exploring
Richard-s Hemiondeville and the vicinities, which afforded


a11 insecure shelter to the fuitives. Bat

his object was a work of mercy. He sought
out all the living. Hurt and wounded were
carefully conveyed in litters to Rouen, whilst
to the dead he gave a Christian burial.

for Thibaut, mournful was his arrival at

Chartres. Little was Thibaut aware, when flee-
ing from the battle field, that the day was a day



of four-fold calamity. He, disgraced his troops 954987
slaughtered- -Cliartres devastated by a dreadful
conflagration,, his noble palace a smoking ruin,-
but, deepest grief of all, his son and namesake
a corpse ; for on that very day had the young
Thibaut died.

g 40. Splendid successes these for Richard,
yet, unconclusive. The alliance formed against
the Pirate continued undissolved, nay, it should
seem that the reverses of the Confederates stimu-
lated them to fiercer hostility. The Normans
though for the most part assimilating themselves
in language, manners, and religion to the French,

-under which term we may include all the popu-
lations between Alps and Atlantic, Mediter-
ranean and North Sea, Bretons only excepted,-
still laboured under social excommunication.
All enchorial Frenchmen, without distinction of
race, hated the Danish lineage, considered them
as intruding barbarians, and yearned to expel
the black-blooded aliens from the land.

Disasters had neither mitigated Thibaut' s en-
mity nor stayed his activity. We are almost
compelled to respect him for his strenuousness and
consistency in wrong. Grisgonnelle was seek-
ing to enlarge his borders. Arnoul-le-Jeune
inherited the domains, as well as the sentiments
of father and grandfather. Lothaire contributed
his contingent, and all, uniting their forces, in-
vaded Normandy. A succession of expeditions
now ensued. Grisgonnelle ravaged the Passoiz.

The Manceaux, and the other confederates,


954-987 taking their share, spoiled and despoiled Dom-
< * . front and Belesme, and all as far as Rotrou. The


Count of Maine pestered Alencon and the Cor-

The three

bad neigh- bonnois. and up into the Lieuvain. The Normans

hours annoy

DoSST were hearty in their defence, but the multiplicity
of the points attacked by the French rendered it
impracticable for Richard to make any decisive
movement. The men of Exmes and Eu guarded
their country against the Count of Perche. The
men of the Avranchin did their duty, so also

tt ea Bretons of those of the Pays-cle-Caux. The Bretons stood

and Normans -, . , , -.-^ . , -.

steadily by Richard.

Very peculiarly, however, did Richard rely
on the Bessin and the Cotentin. Richard's early
training at Bayeux had given him a personal hold
upon that country, abounding more than any
other portion of his dominions with families of
pure Scandinavian blood : and, glancing at a
gayer theme, we may suppose that in this region
he made acquaintance with that lovely Damsel
of Danish race, who became the Ancestress of
the future Dynasty.

Over and above his own subjects, Richard
mustered a considerable number of soldiers-
soldiers in the modern or strict sense of the
word. Brabanters, Hainaulters, Flemings, happy
to receive their solde or pay from any hand ; and
in this case, from their own liege lord's enemy.
They belonged to the people who afterwards as-
sisted Richard's great grandson in effecting the
Conquest of England, and even more extensively
co-operated with the Scoto-Saxon Kings in the
reduction of the regions north of the Tay.


Yet, notwithstanding these aids, and amidst 954-98?
all his prosperity, the conduct of Richard dis- *

J ' 960962

closes the important fact which his biographers Richard
carefully conceal, that he deemed himself in great

o e

peril. On the face of the current affairs we can dan s er
discover only one patent reason, justifying the
anxieties thus troubling him, that is to say, the
detention of Chartres, which still continued in
Thibaut's power. But his own language reveals
the deeply-seated root of his misgivings. He
knew the truth.- -Richard the child, Richard the
youth, Richard the man, like the rest of his
lineage, was extruded from the sphere of French
civilization; always under society's outlawry,
a Coloured man on the Broadway, an Irish
Papist at Bandon during the full orange blaze of
the " Glorious and Immortal Memory," -and, to
his dying day, spoken of and written about only
as " Dux Pirata rum" Chief of the Pirates.- -He
was perfectly cognizant of the universally ac-
cepted doctrine that, when open weapons could
not prevail against the Dane, it was lawful to dig
any pit into which the Wolf could fall.

Under such a weight of trouble, the recollec-
tion of the fraud attempted against Richard by
Archbishop Bruno justified him in assuming that
the Germans participated in the feelings of the
French. The fickle Celtic tribes might turn
against him any day. The seeming firm land
might in fact be quicksand, and except the Cape-
tian party, and they doubtfully, there was not a
soul who could really be trusted by the Chief of
the Pirates. Richard had persevered in keeping


up friendly relations with his kindred in the
pristine home of Gorm and Rollo. To them,
Richard cui- thanks to his rearing he was still as a fellow-

tivates the

f countiynian. The stout ruddy Danish damsel
he could compliment not less intelligibly than if
he had joined her in the Yule-dance. When a
Danish keel came up to Rouen, Richard could
greet the rough Butsekerl in his native speech,
shake his hand, and ask whether " cow-smeer "
sold well in the London South wark, and how
things were going on in the Baltic Islands. And,
if the vessel landed her cargo, Richard, in due
terms of trade, could offer good cheap for the bar-
gain. His heart turned northwards. Harassed
and depressed, he determined again to invoke the
assistance of that Monarch to whom in his early
days he had been indebted for the preservation
of his dominions, perhaps also of his life.
Biaatend-s Supreme, or Over-King of the North, Harold
Blaatand was now ruling most prosperously.
Notwithstanding the multitudes which had gone
forth to England and to Ireland, and to France
and to Flanders, expatriated or slain, colonising
or ravaging, mouldering beneath the turf, or
cultivating the soil, Denmark still teemed with
population. The riches and spoils acquired by
the Danes during their inroads, instead of ener-
vating their vigour, had encreased their martial
efficacy. No people in Christendom better
equipped with helm and hauberk, sword and
shield : and a first-rate navy. In addition to
his own eager swarming subjects, crowds of


adventurers had joined Harold- -Norwegians,

Irish Danes, or Cost-men, and those whom the "^C%T

Chroniclers designate as Alans, probably some opulence

and Popula-

of the Slavo-vendic populations. Was Harold a S^Lk.
Christian ? He is claimed as such. The fact
must be considered as doubtful : Harold certainly
abstained from manifesting that hostility to the
Gospel which had characterized his predecessors,
but we do not possess any proof of his perversion
or conversion. Lukewarm, and taking matters
easily, the Missionary cause obtained no advan-
tage either from Harold's persecution or his fa-
vour, nor did he discourage the old-faith folk, who
adhered to Odin. Consequently the Heathens
were so numerous amongst the Danes, that the
French still considered them generally as Idola-
ters. Heathens or Idolaters they might be, but
any such objection vanished under Richard's
present need. Help must be sought where help
could be found, and what help more trustworthy
than his own antient people.

Forthwith he despatched his messengers to his Richard in.

vokes the aid

dependable friend Harold Blaatand. He besought

Harold as his kinsman, complained of his wrongs,
praying him to abate the pride of France. Joy-
fully did Harold receive the Ambassadors, and
accept their message. High spirited, full armed,
and ea:er for the battle, the best and choicest of ?" 01< J a8 -

<^ ' si5ts~^~tieeti

Harold's warriors mustered in the service. The
Keels were fitted out, and amply manned, and,

VOL. II. 3 C


954-987 amon g s t the many Commanders, incidental cir-
cumstances enable us to distinguish three :-
Guthrun, perhaps the brother of Harold Graafell,
-Askman, whose name emphatically designates
him as the Pirate, and Eyvind Screya. The
fleet sailed from the Baltic during the fine spring
season : their navigation was prosperous, and
they entered the familiar Seine.
or 8 41. It will be recollected that when Sidroc,

the Fossa

SjSdTbySe the Irish Dane, accompanied by Irish Guthrun,
reign s f n B the present Guthrun's name-sake and precursor.

Charles -le-

L h p au 446.) r L niade their grand invasion, they established them-
lectsthis 86 selves at "Jen-fosse" or " Givoldi-fossa," a most

locality as

SstaSS advantageous locality^ which they fortified and
rendered their head quarters : and Eichard, having
settled his own plan of operations, directed that
Harold's land and sea-forces should there unite
with him. No difficulty had the descendants of
the earlier ravagers in reaching their destination.
No need had they of chart or map, or compass
in the binnacle. Experience and tradition con-
curred in guiding them. All the soundings from
the Baltic to Paris, and far beyond Paris were
known to them, all the deeps and all the shoals,
and every bight and every bend. Cheerfully
was the " Heysaa" shouted by the Danes as they
pulled up the stream. Intense was the panic of
the French, the Pagans again covering the inland


The Danes were the Cossacks of mediaeval
France, loathed as filthy barbarians, and dreaded
for their ferocity. Would not all the horrors of


which the remembrance was perpetuated by the . 954 ~ 987
tales repeated round every hearth, recur again,
the branches of the trees bearing the ghastly crop
of swinging corpses.

More than an hundred summers and an

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 49 of 60)