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came the only source of real happiness which
the weary Conqueror enjoyed.

24. About this time good King Robert Death 3 */
was gathered to his fathers, a sexagenarian. His -*tew f '

regal sue-

death marked a great crisis. Two generations 5SS5wk
only of the royal Capetian line had reigned.
Time is the essential element of regal authority.
Never can the right of succession be firmly es-
tablished in any Dynasty, until three gene-
rations and four have been permitted to occupy
the throne.


Hereditary right, so far as politic society is
concerned, involves two conditions primogeni-
ture or seniority, and the principle of repre-
sentation from heir to heir. But whether,
employing the antient Anglo-Saxon formula, -
this right subsists only on the " Sword side" or
male line, and fails altogether on the "Spindle
side" or female line, as in France and most of the
German Sovereignties; or whether it may subsist
on the spindle side, but pass to the daughter's
male heir, ascending to and descending from the
stirps however distant, is a question which each
nation's ethos and traditions must determine.
Capetian France was still a kingdom of the first


1024-1035 impression, and therefore comparatively feeble.
Monarchy lives upon recollections, and, until
they have accrued by effluxion of time, her
path is staggering the irrevocable past is the
gift of God's Eternal Providence ; nor can any
human contrivance compensate for the irre-

canon of Constitutional principles were as yet un-

descent as

fnlheT/ei'ch matured in the Capetian Monarchy. The ex-

hy ' elusion of females, and of all heirs claiming

through a female, was the only French canon of

descent which we can consider entirely free from

cavil. Primogeniture or seniority was not inde-

feasible ; the will of the reigning Sovereign

determined whether, as amongst the sons, an

elder or a younger should be his successor.

Dta^wtoM 7 Exerting, therefore, his prerogative of selec-

reason n o c f e the tion, King Robert had caused his son Hugh, who


does not appear to have been the eldest, though
there is some obscurity on this point, to be ac-
cepted as King, and crowned. The confusion of
early Capetian history conies out in strong contrast
with the comparative lucidity of the Carloviugiau
era. Hugh's disposition was excellent; but can-
kered Constance crossed him : and, provoked by
his mother's harshness, he revolted against
f against authority. He died prematurely; and Henry,

s e Mother. his brother's puisne, was by the father's ap-
pointment also crowned as the associate King.
But Constance hated Henry, and laboured inces-
santly that Robert of Burgundy, the Cadet next


the country




in order, should be preferred. Henry inherited 1024-1035
his amiable father's character, Robert took after
his mother ; Constance, therefore, insisted that
Henry was a poor creature, incompetent to ex-
ercise the royal functions. His spirited brother
was the one entitled to the preference.

Upon King Robert's demise, the Realm
devolved upon Henry, who had been already
installed. Forthwith, a most bitter civil war
arose ; and a powerful faction amongst the baron-
age, including Elides le-Chanipenois, and Fulk of
Anjou, sided with the Queen. Thus supported,
the Virago's party prospered. The principal
Places in the very heart of the kingdom, com-
prising the Duchy of France Proper, the antient Bu pp rt
Capetian patrimony Senlis and Sens Sens then
so strong in her Roman walls, alas ! most re-
cently eradicated by modern vandalism much
contested Melun, Dammartin, Poissi, honoured
Couci, and Puiseaux, opened their gates to
Constance, and closed them in the face of the
unfortunate Henry, who fled the country ; and,
on the eve of the joyful Paschal feast, Pascha
florida Paques fleurie, so unfortunately dis-
guised amongst us by its Heathen name, he pre-
sented himself as a suppliant before Duke Robert
at Fecamp : small and mean was his Royal
train Duodecim dientuli Twelve Vavasours.

Henri fti moult epouvante
Que il ne fait cl6serite,


10241035 A Robert vint en Normandie

Un jour clevant Pasches fleurie,
O clouze Serjants seulement
Vint le Roi ch.etivem.ent.

Mournfully, by this transaction, was France
humiliated before Normandy. The circumstances
attending the receipt of the parage-homage were
sufficiently mortifying. Grievous must have been
the vexation on those occasions, when the King
of France was compelled, for the purpose of
receiving the jealous submission due to the
successor of Charlemagne, from the successor of
Rollo, to go forth, and meet his inferior, half way
down the border : but harder that he should
now, as a suppliant, be seen a suitor of the
Norman Duke, beseeching the great Vassal by
his faith and fealty, to grant protection against
his own mother and his own brother.
Bute Robert Duke Kobert enhaunced his own conse-

supports the

quence, by receiving the illustrious petitioner
with great respect and honour ; and he worked
effectually for his Suzerain's restoration. In
the first place, Eudes le-Champenois had to be
brought over or bought over. Eudes knew his
own price, and stipulated that one moiety of
splendid Sens, the key of Champagne on the
royal frontier, should be surrendered to him.
Heartily did Duke Eobert support King Henry's
rightful cause against his unnatural mother,
pouring in troops, burning, destroying, no mercy
shewn, no quarter granted to the insurgents ;


they were dealt with, not as enemies, but as 1024-1035
rebels. Well, too well, are we taught by the old
thrummed proverbs and popular saws, the out-
speakings equally of human depravity and of
human sagacity, that success constitutes the
sole distinction between patriotism and rebellion.
" Treason doth never prosper. What is the
reason ? That when it prospers, none dare call
it treason."

Under our chivalrous Edward, Scotland's ST' the
Champion was vituperated as an infamous thief.
Illefamosus Latro, Willielmns Wayleys, quoth
our true born Englishman. Surely, it was
a gaudy day for the burly London Citizens,
when, crowding to enjoy the delicious spec-
tacle, they beheld the Scottish Hero dragged
on a hurdle through their filthy flinty streets,
hanged and cut down, all quick and breathing,
his writhing bowels plucked out from the quiver-
ing carcass by the Executioner, whose infernal
skill prolongs all the powers of action, intellect,
and sensation, during a paroxysm of inconceivable
agony ; and then that ghastly head and those
mangled limbs, rotting upon the Gate-towers !

Was there ever any consistent justice in the
sentiments entertained against a Rebel ? How
many a swarthy Zemindar, whose parched
skeleton, picked clean by kites and vultures,
and now swinging from the gallows, may, in
the eyes of posterity, earn an historic reputation
proud as that enjoyed by William Tell and the
VOL. in M


exertions on


1024-1035 Confederates of Grutli. Nay, were the Novelist
of Certaldo living amongst us to publish a six-
teenth edition of his once popular essay, De
Claris Mulieribus, would not the devoted Rannee
of Jansee rank with Boadicea?

uke" 1033 Robert's campaign on behalf of royalty was
judiciously conducted : he placed large detach-

. .

of nieiits in all the strongholds and frontier positions.
Mauger, Count of Corbeil, fierce and crafty, acted
as his nephew's Lieutenant, and displayed an
energy corresponding with the confidence he had
earned. Fully does King Henry appear self-
vindicated from the stigma of inertness, the
failing assigned by his vixen Mother as justifying
her schemes for aggrandizing her darling at the
expence of her warling. Eudes le-Chainpenois,
under the stress of the Norman power, was
compelled to restore the domains he had usurped.
Constance's schemes being no longer favoured
by fortune, public opinion ceased to favour her.
Fulk of Anjou objurgated the dowa,ger Queen,
rebuking her harshness towards her children ;
she fell ill and died, and was buried at Saint
Denis, beside her husband.

25. The services rendered by Robert
to King Henry, were so valuable, that he
might have made heavy demands upon his
Sovereign's gratitude, but Henry anticipated
any such request.

Interposed between Normandy, as ceded to
Rollo, and the Regnum Francorum, was a portion

rst known


of the Pagus Veliocassinus, the Vexin Franqais, 1024-1035
constituting a species of abnormal sovereignty 875
under the Capets and their predecessors : held N


by a line of Counts who trace their descent from
Charlemagne, whilst a rival genealogical scheme
deduces their stem from the Merovingian Childe-
bert. The name of " Nivelong," he who appears
as the first of these Counts, connects us with the
mythic age. No Child of the Mist, however, no
cloudy Niebelung was Nivelong, but a vene-
rable off-shoot from the* Merovingian race ; son
of the second Childebrand ; and satisfactory
evidence exists, affording full proof of his solid

The dominion having escheated to Hugh
le-Grand, passed into another line ; we know
not how ; but in the same year that Robert le-
Magnifique became Duke of Normandy, Drogo,
the son of Gautier le-Blanc, had succeeded to
the Yexin. He was Duke Eobert's intimate,
and their dispositions harmonized.

The Counts of the Vexin held a unique sta-
tion between the Baronage and the Hierarchy ;
equally Vassals and Patrons of Saint Denis.
The Advowson or Advocatio of that regal Abbey
belonged to them. The Count of the Vexin
was privileged to bear the Auriflamme. When
War arose, he raised the consecrated banner
from the Altar of the Martyrs : and, after the
County had lapsed to the Crown, the Standard
displaying the bright incarnadine commingled

M 2

164 THE VEX1N.

1024-1035 with the glistening Orfray, became the Sacred
insignia of the Monarchy. In his style, the
Count of the Vexin asserted complete inde-
pendence ; repudiating every earthly superior,
Superni Regis nutu Comes . . . nutu solummodo
Dominorum Creatoris Comes. Despite this out-
break of magniloquence, which might almost
lead to the supposition that he was crazed by
vanity, Count Drogo was wise and strenuous,
the true friend of Duke Eobert, who, in conse-
quence of a cession made by Henry, became
his Suzerain. He was also Lord of precipitous
Mantes and the Mantois, either a dismember-
ment or an enclavure of the Yexin.

We include this same Drogo in our English

riage with

historical gallery by reason of the matrimonial
connexion he contracted with Goda, Ethelred's
daughter, and the Confessor's sister ; and who,
after his decease, espoused Eustace, Count of
Boulogne. A second Goda, and perhaps a third,
is noticed in the Chronicles, which multiplicity
may lead to the supposition that Goda was an
epithet equivalent to " Good wife" or " Goody"
Normandy gained by this transaction all the
Border country, heretofore a debatable country.
Trie became absolutely a part of Normandy.
The celebrated Oak of tryst now grew on Nor-
man soil, and the Norman frontier was extended
as far as Versailles and Saint Germains ; in
fact, to the very gates of Paris. But, had
Robert been cursed by an insight into futurity,




lished by the


how deeply would lie have deplored an acquisi- 1024-1035
tioii which, through the mysterious links of
causation, brought his conquering Son to an
untimely and inglorious death.

29. Brittany, the source to Normandy
equally of peril and of power ; a bulwark of No


strength, a breach in the wall, was now acquiring
encreasing influence and importance in and over
Norman affairs. Armorica had hitherto been
ruled by Chieftains, Counts as they were de-
nominated according to the Carlo vingiau usage,
From Conan Meriadec. Prince of Albania, es-
tablished in this region, as it is supposed, by the

TT( -. - , -i -i , se y

Emperor Maximin, a continued dynastic series Emperor


is extant, truth and fable blended ; but the
spectral forms of these " Mactierns," -Erech,
Daniel, Budic, Hoel, Judicael, Rivod, Jaruithan,
Morvan, Yiomarch, flit before us merely as
shadows. Their mutual jealousies, the snare
and bane of Gomer's descendants, consumed the
country's resources, and, attracting the perse-
cution of the Danes, wasted the energies and
power of the Race. And yet the fiery valour
of the antient Bretons enabled them to assert
and re-assert their national individuality against
their numerous foes.

After the death of Solomon, the sou of
Rivalon, of whom we have heard in the preceding
era, all these districts or territories merged in
the three dominations of Nantes, Rennes, and counties of


Cornouaille. Amongst the Celts concord was ini- J


1024-1035 possible. In early times Nomenoe, the Euler of
Cornouaille, had assumed, by Papal authority, the
royal style, but the Counts of Rennes acquired
the pre-eminence over the other Chieftains.
Regality vanished. Geoffrey, son of Conan,

sonofConan. i-i i i 11

ma mes with whom we made acquaintance when he

the Norinan

sued for and won the wise Hawisa, Normandy's
daughter, must be distinguished as the first
Duke of Brittany. He constituted himself
Duke simply by taking the title. This assump-
tion may possibly have been sanctioned by the
successor of Saint Peter ; and, by degrees, his
rank in the civil hierarchy became ultimately

Let Geoffrey, therefore, be honoured as the
Founder of the Duchy, symbolized by her er-
mine, even as France by her fleur-de-lis, a
crowned Duke, reigning with regal pretensions
and almost regal power. The Counts of Brit-
tany, and the Dukes in like manner, in later
times, rendered homage en parage to Nor-
mandy in the first instance, and that same
homage was afterwards demanded by the Crown
1213-1237 of France. But the Capetian monarchs refused
to acknowledge the " Duke," until the time of
Peter Mauclerc, son of Robert, Count of Dreux,
Earl of Richmond. An interesting memorial of
this powerful vassal still exists in the Borough.
Mauclerc' s chequered shield, Or and Azure,
floats before our eyes as when we beheld it in
the east window of Richmond Chancel. But

Peter Mau-

of e L c re


this title did not confer any additional power 1024-1035
upon the feudal Sovereign of Brittany.

2 27. Armorica no longer included the full ^ nt *


length and breadth of territory which she had S
possessed in the brilliant days of Nomenoe
and Hcrispoe, and Solomon, when Brittany
expanded even unto the centre arch of the
bridge of Angers. Geoffrey, however, claimed
to exercise his supremacy, from the tall
rugged monolith of Ingrande, the Petra de In-
grand, a monument, which, according to the
spurious nomenclature whereby all Celtic his-
tory has been mystified, would be termed
Druidical, as far as the Archangel's guarded
mount, St. Michael in the peril of the sea.

First among the Armorican Sovereigns who F eofi ? oi th ?

first Armori-

struck white money was Geoffrey : sols of silver


did Geoffrey coin rarest of the rare in the
numismatic cabinet of France ; small black
money also in greater plenty, base enough with-
out question.

Many and brilliant were the battles which
Geoffrey fought against the recalcitrating Count
of Nantes, Judicael ; but the memorials pre-
served concerning these Princes are meagre and
confused, and shrink into a narrow compass.
Two children were born to Geoffrey by faithful
Hawisa, the sister of Richard le-Bon, that is to
say, Alain, third or fifth of the name, who suc-
ceeded Geoffrey and Eudes Count of Penthievre.

28. About ten years after Geoffrey's mar-


1024-1035 riage, he visited Rome, rather as a pleasure
traveller than a Pilgrim, leaving his wife Ha-
wisa under Duke Richard's fraternal protection.
Merrily did Geoffrey make his journey, and in
such guise as beseemed his quality; hawk on fist
and sword by side. But a mean misadventure
shortened his days. On his returning route, safe
and sound, his unhooded bird flew at ignoble
game, at a hen belonging to the good wife who
kept the hostelry where the Duke pilgrim we

Deaths can scarcely call him, had been lodging. The
angry Crone flung a potsherd at his head which
fractured his skull. Thus did the doughty
warrior die at the hands of a crabbed old
loos Alain. Geoffrey's son, commenced his reign

Alain III.,

or DukeT* under the guardianship of his energetic mother
Hawisa, and her tutelage and guidance enabled
the young man to vindicate his authority. Well
did he need sound counsel, for now ensued a
perilous period. The revolutionary example of
the Norman peasantry became contagious. In
Normandy, the discontent may have been embit-
tered by the effects of the Scandinavian occu-
1010 pation or conquest. But the Breizad cultivators

Revolt of

can pS- wei>e oppressed by Lords of their own blood ;
and the fire continued smouldering for nearly
twenty years, until, at last, the conflagration
blazed out with direful fury. The accounts of
the Breton insurrection remind us of the Ger-
man Baurenkrieg. If the ferocity exhibited by


the revolters may be construed as affording any 1024-1035
measure of the hardships they avenged, galling
indeed must have been the yoke they endeavoured
to cast off.

29. The Nobles were appalled. Not so
brave Hawisa. Obeying her advice, the Boy
leapt into his saddle. Forth he rode, leading
on his Nobles, and the insurgents were com-
pletely subdued.

Time wore away ; Duke Alain grew up from
boyhood to manhood, when dissensions arose
between him and another Alain. Alain Caig-
nard, Count of Eennes. Many Alains recur in
Armorican history. The Breton onomasticon
was singularly scanty, a circumstance adding
to the confusion of their perplexed annals.
Their examination becomes a puzzling task ;
and, whilst endeavouring to harmonize these
records, I may have nodded now and then.

Alain Caignard's grudges were not without ^^^1
justification, inasmuch as, during his nonage, a 01
considerable portion of his inheritance had been
usurped by Duke Geoffrey. The gallants were
congenial spirits. Duke Alain had wooed Bertha,

daughter of Eudes le-Champenois, the son of the of e Eudefie e - r


Comes Ditissinms, who succeeded to the noble
territories of Champagne and Brie. Eudes re-
fused. This denial was a personal affront, as
well as a cross in love. Was there ever a re-
jection of a matrimonial offer which did not
partake more or less of this double character ?


1024-1035 Alain was a fine young man, folly the equal
of the Champenois, whether in power or in sta-
tion ; but, however courteous the terms in which
the French nay-say was conveyed, he could
discern a sneer. Indeed the Celts were un-
willingly admitted by their fellow Christians
into the civilized commonwealth. An equivalent
antipathy was entertained by the Teutonic races ;
equally the crime and curse of both popu-
lations. Spurcitia Britonum was the popular
dictum throughout the Langue d'oil, one of
those national floutings which contribute so
detrimentally to the exaltation of national
vanity, and the perpetuation of envy, malice,
and all uncharitableness ; and yet, nothing like
so poisonous as the correlative, national self-
praise ; each individual gulping the flattery
for which he credits himself on his private ac-
count, through the agency of the Community
whereunto he appertains. How many of the
faults, the defects, the sins, which stain the
English character, have been fostered by the
self-laudations of "John Bull." You and I, and
every one of us, appropriating to myself or our-
selves the whole tribute of our own self-bestowed

30. In early times, abduction, nay all the
natural consequences of abduction, must, rude as
the process may appear, be regarded as a phase
of Chivalry. This feeling is not wholly extinct,
even in our age. Assuredly a plea put in by the


Traverser in the dock, that, when carrying off 1024-1035
the coy object of his affections, he has merely
followed the brilliant example afforded by Amadis
of G-aul, would scarcely be received by the
Judge of Assize in County Tipperary : although,
on the other hand, the Jury might be much
inclined to overrule his Lordship's ruling, that
the offence is a grievous misdemeanour, ap-
proaching to a felony.

Such was the state of feeling in Armorica E ? ^ e

of Alain

when Alain Caignard, anxious to serve his- Liege-

obtains the

Lord, and probably not sorry to spite the French,
made a forcible seizure of the Damsel, and con-
ducted his prize triumphantly to Rennes, where
she was espoused to young Duke Alain, " more
Britannico" This expression is somewhat
ambiguous. We cannot doubt, however, but
that the young couple duly received the bene-
diction of the altar.

All the Nobles were convened ; rich gifts and
guerdons copiously bestowed by Alain's own hand.
Gauds or garments however could not satisfy
Alain Caignard, the disappointed Count of Cor-
nouaille ; he claimed his inheritance. Alain pro- k e r
mised the restoration of the usurped territory.



island of

all the Nobles assenting and applauding this act, Belle Isle -
certainly of grace, and possibly of justice. The
chief parcel consisted of well known Belle Isle,
also called Guedel, a Celtic name, which became
obsolete at an early period. Belle Isle, lying
just over against Quiberon, is the largest amongst


1024-1035 the islands appertaining to the Continent of
France. The English reader will recollect the
locality as figuring, though not very gloriously,
in our naval annals.

Hawisa's son and the Norman Duke were
, mutually jealous ; the former assumed a proud
position, the like of which was scarcely paralleled
by the traditions floating concerning his semi-
mythic ancestors. Alain acquired the name of
Ruivriz, signifying, as we collect from master
Wace's interpretation, the Roi Bret., the Breton

Thanks to the fervid fancy of the Celtic
litterateurs, a morbid enthusiasm has infested
the romantic French writers of the modern pic-
turesque school, teaching them to gild and illumi-
nate their historical delineations in the style of
a mediaeval missal ; and in consequence of this
affection or affectation, the traditions of Brittany
have acquired an Ossianic character, compelling
distrust where the enquirer would gladly yield
credence. But the ascription of regal state to
the earlier Breton Dynasts was probably not
entirely groundless, and Duke Alain chafed
against the Norman superiority.

Le Due Eobert tint bien sa terre,
Par tout vouloit son droit conquerre.
Entrer veult par force en Bretagne,
Ne veult k' Alain en paiz reinaigne,
Ki a sa Cort ne veult venir
Ne a lui ne deigne obeir


Comme ses ancessurs fescient, 10211035

Gil qui Bretaigne ancci/ tcncrcnt.

Cosins esteient moult prochrin,

Chescun filz cle uncle et d'antein ;

Pur ceo k'il erent cl'im parage,

D'une hautesse e d'un lignage,

Alain, Robert servir ne deigne

Ainsi monta entre eux 1'cngaignc,

Alain ne se deigne abaisser

Et Eobert ne lui en voult laisser.

The Respondent Alain, when repudiating ^ KPU-
the homage claimed by Rollo's representative,


conducted his argument with a Special Pleader's
astuteness. Tacitly admitting the antient sub-
mission, he argued, that he and duke Robert were
of equal rank, by reason of their consanguinity,
Sword-side and Spindle-side counterchanged ; one
the son of an Aunt, the other the son of an Uncle.
Hostilities arose. The war was popular in Nor-

i i n i i Cotentin

inanely, being waged against a near neighbour ; invade Brit-

and joyfully did the fretting fighting men of the
crowded Cotentin, now let loose, expand over
the enemy's territory. Vicinity and kindred,
as usual, encreased mutual animosity, and the
quarrel was envenomed by the very circum-
stances that ought to have dictated friendship
and goodwill. Only a streamlet separates the
countries, and again the moral philosophy of
words is illustrated by the disputes which
" rivality ' engenders.

31. The two dominions are separated by
the river Coesnon, meandering amongst the rich


1024-1035 pasturages, source of Armorica's agricultural

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 12 of 41)