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hundred winters had rolled round, since Sidroc
and Godfrey first raised the Raven standard at
the Fossa Givoldi. But the lofty ramparts and
the precipitous dykes were ready to shelter the
great-grand-children of the earlier devourers.
Well chosen, and well re-chosen was this posi-
tion, for fixing the Danes in the very heart of
Northern France, offering them the most avail-
able means for defending themselves, and, at the
same time annoying the surrounding country.
To the East the station was protected by the Seine,
and on the West by the Eure, for the streams of
Seine and Eure, converging at Pont de PArche,
.form a species of peninsula, in which Jeu-fosse is
included. Yet we must speak cautiously. The
topography of this spot has been carefully inves-
tigated by those unparalleled archaeologists, the
French academicians ; and, it should seem from
their researches, that many channels have been
filled up, and the face of the country otherwise

Whilst the Danes were advancing, Richard,

" marches to

heading his Norman and Breton cavalry, marched
concurrently to meet them and greet them : and,
in the army's train, good store of provisions
followed, such as would encourage his guests.



954 ~ 987 , Plenty of fish, (without doubt salted,) wine and
venison, and when and as soon as the Keels had

anchored, Richard and his allies held a Council
of war. The visions of misery which had haunt-
ed the French were speedily realized and amply
fulfilled. Jeu-fosse, the key of the Danish opera-
tions, was strengthened, and thence they sallied,
desolating all around with fire and flame. As
heavily fell the scourge on the enemy as the Nor-
man heart could wish, or the Danish eye could see.

committed J

b,the Danes. Upland md Townland equally devastated. Char-
tres alone was spared. The inhabitants concealed
themselves in the woods and the wilds, or fled.
Cultivation ceased. For the purpose of starving
out the inhabitants, all the stores of provisions
which the Invaders could not consume they des-

troved. The Danes staved the casks, and burnt

/ f

the corn ; an audacious dealing with the gifts of
God, condemned even by man's natural conscience,
and confessed as a sacrilege by Infidel and Pagan.
Nevertheless, the Danes proceeded methodi-
cally. They wasted, but they wanted not : fierce
warriors, they were also merchant pirates ; wild
Buccaneers, yet prudent and provident. If abroad
they scattered, they nevertheless hoarded for their
own land. Their booty, such articles of value as
they seized, rich robes and burly garments, cups
and flagons of gold or silver, they warehoused at
Sha trading Jeu-fosse. Th e antient Camp became an empo-
rium to which the Normans and Bretons resorted
and drove their bargains ; and at Jeu-fosse also
the barbarians detained many a douce damsel and


uncomplaining matron whom they had captured 954 ~ 987
or carried off during their forays.

Their inroads extended far to the west. Gris-
gonnelle had full reason to repent his attacks upon
Kichard, which conducted the Northman into
Maine and Anjou. Well might he deplore the day
when he provoked the enemy. But Thibaut's do-
minions suffered most severely. Herbert Eveille-
chien would have lost his occupation there. So
great was the desolation, that, as men said with
doleful pleasantry, not a dog was left to bark
in the Pays Chartrain.

g 42. Upwards of twelve months did the fury
of the Danish desolation continue raging. The
countries thus infested, became completely dis-
organized. Such was the panic, that the whole
of France was considered as lost ;- -those vile
Northmen will subdue our whole realm even to
the Alpine borders !

The discontent excited in France exaggerated mongst the

at Laon.

the terror. Utterly despairing of finding the
means of resistance, the French cast the whole
blame upon Lothaire. The Prelates assembled GreatCoun -

cils held by

in council in Melun. Thibaut appeared before
them, representing himself as a martyr to his
principles. Was it not by his fidelity to France,
and to the King of France, that he had drawn
down upon himself the Norman vengeance. It
was resolved by the Synod, that an appeal should
be made to Richard's clemency. Another Con-
vention was held at Laon, Prelates and Nobles


. 954 7 987 , joining. The Bishops took the lead; Lothaire
'"octCoeT was compelled again to listen to their reproaches.
Negotiations The proposition for negotiations was entertained


as advisable, and Wolfaldus, recently Abbot of
Fleury, but now Bishop of Chartres,- -firm and
wise,- -was requested to undertake the task of
wolfaidus, Wolfaldus, accepting the office, warily des-

Bishop of 7

, patched a Monk to feel the way. It is probable
that this same Monk belonged to the Monastery
of Saint Peter at Chartres, a House specially
patronized by the Norman Dukes ; if so, he, an
individual belonging to a friendly community,
was therefore more likely to be kindly received.
From the brief report, it is difficult to ascertain
whether, when the clever tonsured Nuncio ap-
peared before Richard, he addressed the Duke
in dread, or in drollery. A proper escort was
requested as a preliminary favour, lest the Bishop
should be devoured by Richard's " wolves ' :
and " devils ; ' and Richard, smilingly assented,
promising that due precaution should be adopted
for protecting such a good morsel as the Bishop,
Wolfaldus, when he arrived at Rouen, spake
sternly and solemnly, rebuking Richard for his
treason against the whole Christian Common-
wealth, by inviting the Pagans to pester the land,
and he earnestly supplicated Richard to arrest
the torrent of eviL

Recrimination is not always an illogical
mode of defence. Richard could perorate by


recapitulating his own personal history, from . 954 ~ 987
the days when he, a boy, beguiled by the I^C^T
artifices of Louis d'Outrenier, had been im-
prisoned in the dungeon of Laon. He vehemently
burst out into complaints of the treachery and
treason which had been continually employed
against him. Archbishop Bruno shame to
his calling- -plotting against Richard's life:
Thibaut never ceasing his devices : Lothaire's
faithless proffers, which had decoyed him to the
ambuscade of the Eaulne ; and now, could not
Richard most truly assert, that Thibaut, insulting
him up to the very walls of Rouen, had planned
Normandy's complete partition and subjugation ?
As befitted a loyal subject, Wolfaldus avoided
concurring in any censure passed upon his own
Sovereign, but insisted upon the crime which
Richard had committed by inviting the Danes,
and thus renewing the miseries of the Kingdom.
Richard began to relax : his natural disposition
inclined him peace-ward. Could he avoid feeling
that he had contracted a most perilous alliance ?
He proposed a conference with Lothaire, and S e a n r t d s to
the French Prelates and Nobles. Let them meet *
him amicably in the genial month of May, and he
would endeavour to mollify the Pagans. Lothaire
concurred in the proposition. The Assembly was
convened at Laon. No Thibaut repaired thither.
Some cause of distrust had arisen, and the jailor c
of Louis d'Outrenier was excluded from JKing
Lothaire's counsels. But the intended proceed-

cluded from



fl ings could not be concealed; and Thibaut's anxie-
ty betrays his apprehension, that he, so long an
intriguer, might, at last, be sold by his own

He therefore began to treat independently.
s;ain was the Monk employed as a messenger.
The Heraldic office had not yet been instituted,
but the clergy had a constant mission as peace-
makers. Like the tabard in subsequent times,
the rochet or the cowl, bespoke neutrality, and
commanded respect from all. The Monk, speak-
ing in Thibaut's name, addressed the Duke as
the wielder of the Danish power.- -The Count
of Blois and Chartres, deceived by the French
evil advice, but now repentant, was the suf-
ferer ; his country thoroughly ruined, nor could
he be rescued otherwise than by Richard's
aid. Thibaut would appear before him, re-
store Evreux, praying Richard, on his knees,
to grant that he might be honoured by claiming
Richard as his Lord and Suzerain. Could this
exaggeration of humility be considered as sincere
by Richard ? But it did not offend him. Indeed,
what mattered sincerity ? No man of the
world, when he receives the tribute of adulation,
rings the money, or even grumbles, though
a few base pieces be passed amongst the
sterling. Richard began to be uneasy in the
Danish hug, and longed to be free from their
embiilces, and therefore he closed at once with
Thibaut's offer. Let Thibaut himself visit Rouen
within three days, and proffer his submission.


Thibaut sought no guarantee, no pledge for
safety. Gulping the humiliation, he repaired to
Kicharcl. Entering the City by night, he stole Thibaut

silently through the dark crooked streets, some Richard

secretly at

few of Kichard's confidential friends guiding and

guarding him. Thibaut was tired out, Kicharcl


apprehensive, each equally eager for a reconcilia-
tion. When Thibaut entered the Presence cham-
ber, they ran to meet each other, embraced and
exchanged mutual kisses, a ceremony, to both
of them either a farce or a loathing. It is how-
ever somewhat mournful to think of the " Yieux
Chartrain" craving young Richard's clemency ;
but he had brought himself to this pass. Not
only did he engage forthwith to restore Evreux,
city, and castle, but covenanted to hold all his
dominions as a Benefice under Richard. Richard
may, as his encomiasts tell us, have been van-
quished by Thibaut 's lowliness, but unquestion-
ably far more by the concession ; and, on his part
he promised a cordial peace. That self-same night
did Thibaut set off for Chartres ; and the eva-
cuation of Evreux by Thibaut' s troops, and the
consequent restoration of the betrayed City to
the lawful owner, attested his sincerity.

43. This weighty transaction concluded, now
remained to Richard the equally important concern
of completing his negotiations with his enemies the
French, and the more difficult task of saving him-
self from the Danes, his dubious friends. Richard
conducted the transaction characteristically, and
in consistent conformity with the gay and gallant


character of the Norman Court:- -a character
which, since Guillaume Longue-epee's accession,
had become traditional. Many of Richard's do-
mestic circle must have fully recollected the
merry hunting meet in the romantic " Forest of
Lions ; ' when the courtship between Guillaume
Tete-d'Etoupe and the Norman Emma, began so
joyous P re- uiitowardly. and ended so happily. On the


R?chard y for present occasion, the enjoyments of that sylvan
of tie 06 ' festival were re-presented with increased bril-


liancy. By Richard's command, the tr ell iced
lodges were raised, and the lengthened bowers
prepared, astonishing the beholders equally by
their size and their magnificence.- -Green rushes
and sweet smelling herbs overspread the hard-
trodden, smooth, foot-worn, embrowned turf
within : whilst the rich curtains dependent from
the entwined branches composing the roof, im-
parted to the rustic edifice the courtly character
of palatial splendour.

It was during the brightest season of the
year ; the Sun in Gemini, radiating upon Mother
Earth from the culminating point of vernal loveli-
ness, about to ripen into full summer scorch. As
usual, or rather as inevitable, where Richard
fixed his quarters, an avalanche of good cheer
continued descending man and beast equally
cared for, sacks of oats and trusses of pro-
vender,- -wains laden with venison and pipes of
good wine.

Lothaire absent, his Bishops, Counts, Knights,


and Nobles, appeared as petitioners before the 1 954 ~ 987 ,
Norman Duke, tendering their services, and en- "~^C^T
treating his mercy. Urgently did they beseech 7 he French

* / t/ implore

him on behalf of the French King, the French J
knighthood, and the French people, that Richard
would restrain the ferocity of the Danes, and
rescue France from their fangs. Lothaire was
guiltless. Thibaut, the seducer, had been par-
doned, and, as a perfect guarantee for peace,
Lothaire and the Optimates of all France would
by their hand-fast compact secure to Richard
and his heirs the "Regnum Northinannicum "
for ever.

Fully willing was Richard,- -but now came
the pinch. How was Richard to free himself
from his allies ; now not merely needless, but
dangerous ? ' -The mythic Richard-sans-peur,
who figures in the Minstrel song or the Old
wife's tale, is as reckless of bogles as Tarn
o'Shanter. But the flesh and blood Richard never
displayed any extravagant venturesomeness when
imminent peril was impending.

44. Manifesting his accustomed gracious-

n i -i -t i T~ i T the pressure

ness equally inbred and acquired, Richard cor- of danger

from the

dially accepted the proposition. Yet, even at this Danes -
juncture he could not refrain from recapitulating
his grievances, and recurring to the treasons
which had been effected or contemplated against
his liberty authority life. Bruno's machina-
tions most of all.

We feel that Richard was conscience stung.


In this last desperate scheme of invoking the
Danes he had fully justified all the obloquy
attached to the leader of the Pirates, and which,
in the opinion of the French, dictated the course
they had pursued, not repudiating the possibility,
or rather the hope, of ending his life without
judicial formality or war declared.

Richard, however, was now as much appalled
as the French could be. There were the Danes,
and they would not go. His management was
skilful, and a friendly negotiation was commenced
by him. He knew the Danish strength, and the
Danish weakness ;- -the weight of the Danish bat-
tie-axe, and the fault of the Danish armour. Con-

meets the

Danes, and sorting, he addressed them conjointly and seve-


rally ; Chieftains and subordinates, each had his
compliment and good word. The old were vene-
rable ; the middle aged mighty ; and the young
so fine and brave. He had not thanks enow for
the hearty friendship they had displayed in leav-
ing their native country. But they had secured
his safety, and vindicated their own renown. The
King of the French, his Nobles, his people, now
worn out by hostilities, earnestly sought quiet,
and solicited peace. Richard therefore prayed
that they would discuss the proposition, and
tti h e e propo. ct grant at least a truce.- -No, noble Duke, was the
unanimous shout of the Northmen. Thou art
gibing and jeering us. No. Neither now nor
ever.- -No. Not for a day ! They would have
their will. France was theirs, and the abandon-


rnent of their conquest would bring them to . 954 - 987 ,
shame, Danishmen and Irishmen, Alans and I^C^T
Norskmen, before the whole Northern world.

Go with us, and we will win all France for
ourselves, and for thee. Keep aloof, and we
shall win all France for ourselves, but not for
thee.- -Choose ! Richard, however, continued
self-possessed. Loud was the outcry, but Eichard
knew that strength of lungs is not always accom-
panied by corresponding stoutness of heart.
Hostilities being stayed, let two days, he soli-
cited, be allowed him for deliberation. Two davs


were granted. Then two days more.- -Four days
ended, he then asked eight days further time,
and at the end of the eight, he craved eight
days again.

Much perplexed were the French Bishops and Truce

granted for

Nobles by this delay. But Richard was well
acquainted with the Danish character. He had
begun his manoeuvres, for his qualifications as a
Statesman would be unfairly appreciated, if we
rejected the supposition that the proposal which
he intended to make, had not been ventilated
between him and the more leading men of the
Danishry. Having fully matured his scheme,
grounded upon his thorough knowledge of the
Danish character, he explained his plans to the
French. The Danish sword would slip easily
into the sheath, if the full purse opened suf-
ficiently wide. To deal successfully with the
Danish Chieftains, he must select not only


i, those who would have most powers of per-
suasion, but also the most persuadable. The
best tools are such as do your work, and
their own.

The meeting with the Danes was appointed

D J- -l

to be held in a meadow, nidi the Seine, at that

secret meet-



dead hour of the night when slumber falls the
heaviest on the eyelids and the prescient cock
heralds the unseen dawn. The full Moon was
shinino; brightly, the breeze was lulled, and the

. 7 /

green tints of the trees, and the green tint of the
grass, were distinguishable from each other, per-
ceptibly though obscurely, by the conjoint opera-
tion of eve and mind.


Richard had put himself in communication
with the most useful men amongst the Danes, the
proudest born, the boldest, and the wisest : but
not manv. It was essential for the success of


the scheme, that the conference should be con-
cealed from the vulgar ; and the end was attained.
The proceedings are related amply. Richard
opened the conference bv delivering a " ser-

the Danes. "

mon": a laborious and didactic exhortation,
inviting them to accept Christianity. The Dean
of Saint Quentin and the diligent Benoit give a
full, and apparently faithful, report of the dis-
course, nor can any adequate arguments be raised
against their general accuracy. But Master
Wace, reciting his composition before Henry
Plantagenet and Adelisa of Lorraine, and their
gay Court, he expecting a handsome guerdon, and


also fully aware that the preachment and certain 1
matters alluded to therein, would not be pleasant
to ears polite, discreetly elides the Homily; and
I shall follow his example. But the fact is, that
such a proceeding was in conformity to the spirit
of the age, and the address was probably
composed by some of the French clergy, who
sought to improve the opportunity, say Wol-


A full assent was given by the Chieftains to

-r-v -i -i , i i P to Richard's

Richard s promises, perhaps to his performances, proposals.
The Danes, whom he had called to council, were
few in number. A bracelet of gold was easily
portable, and we should not be inclined to reject
the supposition, that some earnest was given by
Richard to their leaders pending the discussion.

The locality was far away from the Danish
vessels, and the Danish camp. Richard's various
arguments were plausibly and discreetly urged.
Were not the Danes as his own people after
all ?- -He would suggest plans for their benefit ;
and those whom he consulted being really friends,
or having been made so, closed with his offer.
The conference was prolonged till the night had
concluded, and the dew drops had begun to fall
from the damp-heavy leaves.

45. Stealthily they met; silently they de-
parted ; and conforming to Richard's directions,
the docile Chieftains summoned a general muster
of the Dansker men, which was held in a mead,
adjoining the Seine. Richard appeared before

Ses ad the

Danish Host.


954-937 the Danish army and recommended a pacifi-
cation ; a proposal received, as before, by a
universal burst of indignation from the mul-
titude They reproached Eicharcl with his
folly. No talk of peace, or concord with the
Frenchmen, would they tolerate. The work
they had begun they would conclude; never
desisting until they had made the whole coun-
try their own. A schism immediately ensued.
The Chieftains whom Richard had conciliated
urged compliance with the Norman proposals.
The Heathen section, for as such, we must de-
signate the dissidents, were enraged. The dis-
pute became more violent. Richard prudently
avoided mixing himself up in the matter, whether
by opposition or argument, and stole away, al-
lowing the Danes to continue the dispute amongst

During three successive days did the dis-
cussions endure, each party vituperating the
other ; yet the debate was merely a hammering
of words. Nothing could be gained by either
side wasting its strength upon the other.

The Danes At last the dissidents proposed a very rea-

propose a

compromise, gobble compromise. They had embarked in
Richard's service, and at Richard's call ; he
invited them- -he must pay them.- -Money, or
money's worth they must have. If Richard
would defray their expenses or suggest some
other compensation, well and good ; they would
depart ; if not, they would abide and compensate


themselves. Amongst the Danes, there were 954 ~ 98
many, who, converted to Christianity, accepted
the largesse, and settled in Normandy. Ample
Benefices were granted to them by Richard,
and they merged in the general population,
yielding to that social influence, which, in the
next generation obliterated all difference of


46. It was now needful to deal with the
Heathenry. The ensuing passage becomes an
incident of European interest, inasmuch as it
throws much light on the subsequent extension
of Norman power. The conquests of Apulia and
Sicily, are inaugurated by the events to which
the Jeu-fosse Armada gave rise. Richard pos-
sessed a large naval force, and he had no diffi- iSn <,?'

the Danes

culty in supplying ships and stores sufficient for ;gpt e rt to for
an expedition suggested by him to the Northmen : *
a bold adventure, which, relieving him from their
alliance, promised great advantages to the greedy

Harold had tacitly abandoned all claim to
the Cotentin, yet, in a manner, the Pagus was a
Danish dependency. The almost insular peninsula
abounded with excellent Mariners : and the prede-
cessors, or, perhaps, we ought rather to say,
the progenitors, of Tancred de Hauteville and his
companions, were familiarized with the Atlantic
navigation. Their " Esturemenz ' ' ( as the word
" Steersmen ' : was naturalized in the Anglo-
Norman dialect- -) were accustomed to frequent
the coasts of Spain, and guided the fortune-

VOL. IT. 3 D


95 * 987 seekers, who were content to repay themselves for
the service rendered to Richard, by the plunder
of a distant nation, which these marauders anti-
cipated would be defenceless against their power.
The Danish traditions concerning the achieve-
ments of Ogier-le-Danois, or " Holger-danske," in
Charlemagne's days, have been adapted or adopted
by imaginative Scandinavia in many a sweet Bal-
lad and romantic Saga. But their own Historians,
properly so called, are silent as to any more
recent communications, whether hostile or pacific,
with the trans-pyreneean realms, and we gain
our knowledge of the present transactions
Danish de. wholly from Norman and Spanish sources. King

vast at ions nn v O

vastations on
the shores of

Frlnce or U nder Guthrun, or Guthred, figures on the deck as
the most prominent personage in the arma-
ment. Three hundred keels composed the
fleet, eighteen opulent Cities are said to have
been destroyed by the Flibusteers during their
course, and a considerable length of time
elapsed ere they discerned the Galician hills.

This was a season of great national tribulation.
Upon the death of Sancho el Gordo, the Kingdom
of Leon had descended to his son Don Ramiro,
then only five years of age. No regular regency
had been appointed. The powers of government
were, however, exercised by the renowned Fernan
of Gonzales, and, upon his death, Garci Fernandez
, became the successor of his Sire. The young
Chieftain avoided the conflict. Sisnando, the
martial Bishop of Compostella, was alone em-
boldened to attempt any adequate defensive


measures, and, through his exertions, the
Shrine of Saint lago was surrounded by '
wa ll s> But the invaders stormed Compos-
tella ; the City, plundered ; Sisnando, slain ;
and, during two years, did the descendants
of the Visigoths groan under the Danish do-
mination. The Danes, despising the Galicians,
treated the country as their own: and, without

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 50 of 60)