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gation of Norman history continue to press upon
us during the early years of William's reign.
An era of confusion has bequeathed to us an in-
heritance of confusion. The enmity which the
boy encountered constitutes the leading and pro-
minent feature of the period, until we find him


1035-1054 firmly settled in his authority. But, though
considerable difficulty may be experienced in
determining the sequence of events, there is none
whatever as to the main course and flow of Wil-
liam's fortunes. It does not appear that any
precise age of majority was denned by the
legal constitution : we know it was not so in
England; and Henry the Sixth, the child,
scarcely more than an infant, affords a very
signal example of the mischief occasioned
thereby. The like in France ; indeed, we may
say, throughout Christendom.

I 13. William may have been cruel, but
never obstinate. His reign, if, at such an early
age, his exercise of sovereignty may be termed
a reign, opened with misfortunes : the dissatis-
faction of the Barons increased and matured
into a combination against him ; and, seeking
the tranquil Henry, they roused him to action
against the rising rival.

There was reason for apprehension. The
Norman settlement cuts into the French terri-
tory, and the descendants of the Danes were
always within a short inarch of the gates of
Paris. We do not possess any particulars con-
cerning the Baronial conspiracy. Guillaume de
Jumieges is our solitary informant, and he whis-
pers in our ears : " That these are the very men
who yet live and now make profession of being
the most faithful, and upon whom our Duke has
conferred the greatest distinctions and favours."


14. Normandy's perennial opponent and
implacable enemy, Henry of France, had, as '
we have seen, fully and solemnly confirmed the
young Duke's reversionary right and title, which
acknowledgment, he, upon Robert's request,
and in Robert's life-time, had ratified by all the
solemnities of law ; but the transaction was con-
strued by the French Court to be void ab initio ;
still were the Normans despised as barbarians,
and dreaded as Pirates. The waters of Jordan
could not wash out the black blood stain, and
Henry, partaking in the general feeling, deter-
mined to unsheathe the sword, and extirpate the
odious usurpers of the land.

15. It is not always easy to determine
satisfactorily the line of demarcation severing


pbical his-

historical biography from biographical history. ior r-
Ought the Hero to rise before us, as the system's
centre, around whom all the events circumvolve,
or should the unity be constituted by the Epos ?
Are we not compelled to elect between Napoleon's
achievements, and the foundation of the French
Empire ? Between Achilles' anger and Ilium's
conflagration ? Between the conquest of Gaul,
and the laurels of Ca3sar ? In our present task,
no such difficulty perplexes us. Hero and Epos !^^ the
are one. Either of the epithets bestowed by j p e r c e t s . en '
history or by tradition upon Arietta's son,
equally pourtrays William's complete mission,
from his joyless cradle to his miserable death-
bed. Whether you designate him as the Bastard,
VOL. in. p


of William's


io3s-io54 or ag the c on q U eror, the effect upon the mind is
^7 complete : the whole history of the Man, and of

his times, unfolds before us.
Magnificence Magnificent was William's destiny. Can

nf William'n " o

we avoid accepting him as the Founder of the
predominating empire now existing in the civil-
ized world ? Never does the sun set upon the
regions where the British banner is unfurled.
Nay, the stripes and stars of the Transatlantic
Republic would never have been hoisted, nor
the Ganges flow as a British stream, but for
the Norman's gauntleted hand.

Elsewhere have I spoken of the Saga-like cha-
racter of the Norman historiographers, resulting
from the general absence of dates, whether in text
or margin, so that, for the most part, we can only
guide ourselves by the synchronisms which we
gather from the Capetian annals or the English
authorities ; as to the case, immediately before
us, we can, with respect to William, roughly
calculate that, whether influenced by policy, or
restrained by apprehension, the young Duke's
swarming enemies, domestic or foreign, had,
after the first hostile explosion, allowed him to
continue unmolested, whilst about twelve circling
years were rolling away ; during which period
the young Sovereign, attaining man's estate,
settled into pacific tranquillity. Sedulously did
he attend to his affairs, though his time was
fully as much employed in his recreations and
amusements. It is related with much zest by


the tonsured Chronicler, how the young Duke , 1035 ~ 1054 .
disturbed the sweet refreshin solitude of the

damp and cool forest glades, by setting apart wmi.

gouement for

Preserves or Parks for sport; that is to say, the chace -
for the purpose of enjoying the anguish and
misery inflicted upon the Creatures whom their
and our Creator has placed under man's su-
premacy. But the political calm was deceptive.
Whatever apparent respect Henry may have
rendered to his Vassal, it was always accom-
panied by the mental reservation that the pact
was binding only so long as convenient,
a principle silently pervading most diplomatic
arrangements : and many domestic ones also.

16. William, as yet only a youth, was
tolerated rather than acknowledged by his Suze-
rain ; and, when the good time of doing evil ar-
rived, Henry poured his forces into the young
Duke's territory. No courtesy displayed, or
feigned ; no, not even fair warning. No mes-
sage delivered ; no gauntlet thrown down ; no
challenge given ; no defiance proclaimed ; no
trumpet sounded. Henry invaded the Evrecin,
accompanying his aggression by demanding the
immediate demolition of the much-contested
Castrum Tegulense, or Tilliers : Tilliers must
be razed to the ground. A harassing warfare
was now waged by both parties ; desultory
skirmishes ; assaults, obscure, inglorious, in-
decisive, yet nevertheless possessing much po-
litical importance, for the quarrel fretted the



sores ; keeping alive all the old
grudges between the Frenchman and the North-
man, so that the two Nations relapsed naturally,
so to speak, into the normal relations of rivals
and of enemies.

T ne fortress had been placed under the charge
of sturdy Gruillaume Crespon, whom we may
designate as Guillaume Crespon the First, thus
distinguishing him from a namesake. A mes-
sage was despatched, instructing him to surrender
the charge of the stronghold; but he acted as
though he could not comprehend the order, and
held out. The young Duke besought his sturdy
guardian to comply ; and the fortress was given
up. Henry repaired to Tilliers, placed a garrison
therein, contrary to his engagement, and having
obtained this grip upon Normandy, he suspended
hostilities, and a pause ensued.

17. Guido of Burgundy now suddenly
asserted his claims, or pretensions. Kindly


re7ou. ; his anc l confidentially had the Donzell been reared
at the Norman Court. From the time he
could cross a horse, he was treated almost
as an heir presumptive. The Youth had been
received in the Halls of Falaise as an enfant de
la maison; and, when he attained the canonical
age, the degree of knighthood was conferred
upon him by his Liege Lord. Moreover, several
important Baronies were granted to him ; and
Alice of Normandy's son occupied a station
scarcely less prominent before the world than


the son of Arietta. He was courted in ac- . 1035 - 105j
cordance with his station and pretensions. To 'i^Ciiw?
him resorted the discontented and the scorner,
the ambitious and the covetous, and all who
hated or despised the Bastard : and the scarcely
concealed enmity soon exploded.

The instigators of rebellion were found in the DUc J*[; tcf
very Danishry of Normandy ; in the Bessin,
where the speech of Scandinavia had been so
long cherished; and in the frowning Cotentin,
crowned by the massy bulwarks whose threaten-
ing image is ever rising before our eyes.

The chief fomenter of discontent was Neel,
or Nisei de Saint Sauveur, the premier Baron


of Normandy, descended from the most distin-
guished amongst Hollo's followers. Neel, whose
progenitor stood as first individual amongst the
Pirates who had received their domains from the
great Northman's grant ; Neel, pre-eminent by
position, wealth, and talent ; Neel, whose pos-
sessions commanded sea-bord and inland-; Neel,
rendered equally formidable by the extent of
his dominions, and the sturdiness of his vassals,
they who won such fair possessions in Eng-
land, and who now combined the Frenchman's
cultivation with the Berserker's savage valour.
-Hamo Dentatus, or " Rattle Jaw," also joined
the insurgents ; he, the founder in England of
the Durdent family : and Grimoald de Plessis,
owning the Barony which, at the present day,
still bears his name, and commemorates his mis-



35 - 1054 fortunes. And all the Confederates bound them-
selves by a great oath to work the intruder's

But, where are we to seek young William, who
now rises before us as Chief of the Norman Com-
monwealth ? Not in powerful Bayeux, where
the speech of the Northmen still lingers as a
living tongue. Not in proud, opulent, rebellious
Eouen. Not at towering Falaise, where his
infant wailings were first heard. But at pleasant
Valognes, where temple and hypocaust, theatre
and amphitheatre, testified how, in the luxurious
Roman days, the locality had been prized.
Here William had established himself, holding

Goiet,the n j g (} our t. Amongst his guests none more im-
portant than Golet, the fool. Half demented,
though acute withal, this Merry-man becomes
conspicuous in the history of Court-jesters ; and
he had gained cognizance of the conspiracy. In
the midst of the night he presented himself at
William's door, in full official costume, his
bauble slung round his neck ; and, knocking
violently, he shrieked out, "Up, up, my lord
Duke ! open ! open ! flee ! flee ! or you are a
lost man ! Delay is death. All are armed ;
all marshalled ; and, if they capture thee, never,
never wilt thou again' see the light of day ! "
William obeyed the warning without even

flight by

night> a thought of hesitation. No questions asked.
No companions to support him. No groom
aiding. Half clad, starting from his couch he


rushed into the stable, saddled his beast, and , 1035 - 1054
made for the ford of Vire. Hard by the river's
mouth stood, and still stands, the Church of Saint
Clement, close upon Isigny. Here, he tarried;
may be, prayed. Bayeux he dared not enter;
therefore, he edged his track between the Saxon
city and the sea, skirting a neighbourhood, whose
name is echoed on our shore of the channel, the
bourgade of " Rye." Doubting the loyalty of
the inhabitants, he sought for the " Manoir,"
the dwelling-place par excellence, a term which,
amongst us, is extended to the whole demesne.
But this signification first obtained in compa-
ratively modern times : and so recently, that I
cannot recollect a single example of the word's
occurrence in an antient English Court roll.
Day was dawning ; but, ere the sun had cleared
the horizon, William had arrived at Hubert's Hubert
door. William's horse, white with foam, bespoke
the urgency of the danger which had driven his
rider thither. The road through which William
escaped still retains the name of la vote du
Due. The local traditions and the Trouveur's
lay agree with singular accuracy, and the whole
of this narrative abounds with particulars so
minutely descriptive, that none but the illustri-
ous fugitive could have told the tale.

North lies Cherbourg, that adamantine, stern,
threatening arsenal, where, instead of the wooden
mallet's dead thud, thud, thud, we are now
startled by the harmonious clink, clank, clink,



1035-1054 O f t h e hammer striking upon the sides of the
7 ' iron-clad vessels, whose terrors are summoning
the willing warriors from their homes to de-
fend our shores.

Hubert's sons conducted the Duke to pala-
tial Falaise, where he bided his time ; his flight
the signal for the baronial rebellion. The u Vice-
comites," the governing nobility of the land,
who appear in England as the " Scireyerefas"
seized the Ducal dominions. A hard trial now
had William to sustain. He sought refuge at
his Suzerain's court. At Poissi, the royal re-
sidence, it was in the character of a Vassal that
the future Conqueror craved his Liege Lord's
re- aid. Gladly the King welcomed the illus-

S* tL Kmg. trious applicant, whose submission purchased


sembles his

the Normans.

protection. Intent upon vengeance, William
told over the chief rebels, man by man. It was
a proud duty which Henry was required to
fulfil, that he should be invoked as William's
protector, the heir of Rollo being as yet only
dubiously invested with the ducal dignity.

2 18. William summoned his Lieges from


of those Baillages in which his authority had been
most cordially acknowledged. Rouen manifested
unusual loyalty, and the whole Rournois assem-
bled in defence of Rollo' s descendant. Caux, and
the sturdy and opulent Cauchois, co-operated
cheerfully and powerfully. Princely Eu and
the Lieuvin poured forth their chivalry: also
antique Evreux and the Ev^in ; and the com-
bined forces assembled on the wide-spreading


undulating hills, which impart their name to i 1035 - 1054
Yal des Dunes, a region whose conformation

displays the original conjunction of these con- 1047

V ill (Jet)

tinental downs with the corresponding tract in c a u e n n e . 8 ' nigh
our island ; the elastic turf, clear of trees, in-
clining towards the rising sun. The topographical
details are given so picturesquely as to convince
us that the Trouveur had studied the scenery
which his verse describes.

Amongst the Barons, there was one who, cunning

" Ralph Tes-

adopting the phrase employed during our civil

the war.

wars, sometimes seriously sometimes sarcas-
tically was distinguished as a " waiter upon
Providence." This individual was Ralph Tesson
or Tasson of the Cinglais, Tesson the Badger,
so skilful in burrowing his way ; equally quali-
fied by cunning and by power.

Tesson' s men were stationed apart, and I e T n ^

A the lead in

their bannerols, waving bright from their lances, amy. aronial
rendered them conspicuous. "Friends or ene-
mies ?" enquired the King. The doubt was
immediately removed. The stubborn, wily
chieftain presents himself first and foremost
in the Baronial ranks, whom the chances of
civil war would entitle to be honoured as libe-
rators of their father-land from the Bastard's
degrading yoke, or branded as rebels. As for J e w. ons
Tesson, he had sworn on the shrine at Bayeux,
that he would open the fight by striking the
first blow upon the helm of the base-born Pre-
tender. But the Barons were divided in opinion ;
many saw in William the rightful heir, and


Tesson fought for his life. Well had he de-
served the vengeance due for treason.

The charge Now ensued the shock of battle ; and loud

of the

Barons. ^ e ra ]iyi n g cl y O f the Harcourts, who were
the most intent in the cause. "Thury!" was
their slogan, still heard in the local name of
" Harcourt Thury." Was it here that they
chose the pleasant and comforting motto which
they bear in the conquered land, "le bon temps
viendra ?" And they expected the good time in
this present conflict. But the Scandinavian
enthusiasm of the modern Normans, tempts
them, to hear in this war-cry the invocation of
Thor, the thunderbolt's wielder.

The Ducai Dauntless William headed the Normans, whilst

troops charge

the enemy. f rom t i ie hostile ranks " Montjoie Saint Denis ! ' :
resounded through the air, to which the rallying
cry " Saint Sauveur," shouted by the Bessiii
troops, headed by Ranulph of the Briquessart,
responded. He, ready to risk his purse, his
treasure, nay, his very life, for the purpose of
crushing the enemy. Fierce the fight ; Henry

?an n | e "? nry " and his squadron faced the Cotentin men. The
King of the French was dismounted, but through
great exertion, his life was preserved ; whilst the
glory of the Cotentin was commemorated by the
popular rhyme which, transmitted to subse-
quent generations, attested the monarch's dis-

De Costentin sortit la lance,
Qui abati le Hoi cle France.


Another war-horse brought up ! Henry
vaults into the saddle, and the conflict is re- ^
newed with increased desperation. Necl de Saint The rebels

_ resisting des-

bauveur maintained the fight until the rebels fled

in dire confusion ; and, so thick fell they, that the
narrow, foaming mill-race of Bourbillon, which
you look down upon as you hang over the
shattered parapet of the one-arched bridge, was
choked with bloody corpses. Hamo slain, and,
borne away upon his shield, the vanquished rebel
was entombed nigh the border of the stream.
Discomfited, dispirited, shamed, the insurgents
sought mercy. William was prudently gracious.
Gifts and promises were followed by pardon.
The forfeitures which the Barons had incurred
were remitted ; but Neel, who did not humble
himself by " seeking grace at a- graceless face,"
found a refuge in his castle of Brionne-sur-

Henry continued to aid the Norman Duke.

" ) Bnonne-

despatching further reinforcements. But so sur '' Ule *
strong was Neel's position, or so imperfect and
desultory the means of attack, that three years
elapsed ere the fortress surrendered. Merciful
were the terms extended to all the Captives, save
one. Grimoald de Plessis was dropped into the S a b f le
dungeon-pit, manacled and fettered, the cankering G
iron eating into his ulcerated flesh ; and, in this
misery, protracted during three years, he expired :
the victor's spite pursued the traitor to the
grave for he was buried in his bonds ; so that


^035-1054 the sad tale of his fate might prove an awful warn-
'lolCioss i n S- As f r the other delinquents, William made
a bridge for the flying enemy. Guido's renun-
ciation of allegiance was accepted ; and, retreat-
ing to Burgundy, he disappears ignominiously
SfeTe" from history. This trial of strength settled all
disputes between William and the recalcitrating
Normans. All who had rebelled against the
Bastard made full acknowledgment of his au-
thority. Fealty and homage rendered, hos-
tages given to secure the plighted troth, the
adulterine castles razed to the ground, a new
field of exertion opens for the Conqueror.
cEon iDg 19. Hitherto, though considerable jealousy
No^andy had subsisted between the powerful lines of

and ADJOU.

Anjou and Normandy, no hostile collision had
yet ensued ; but much rivalry, fair or un-
fair, had been mutually cherished between
William and Geoffrey Martel, Count of Anjou,
the famous son of Fulk Nerra, whose sobriquet
(distinguishing him from his namesake Geoffrey
Grisgohelle) so well designates his heavy hand.
In both these Princes the mental talents and
moral failings of their respective lineages were
signally exemplified. One cause of offence
arose from the conduct pursued by Geoffrey
towards the House of Champagne and Blois,
whose possessions were at this period divided
between Stephen the son of Eudes, and his
brother Thibaut. Fiercely were the passions
of all parties roused. Martel warred steadily


and sturdily against both these princes. Stephen . 1035 - 1054 ,
was defeated and expelled. Nevertheless the
balance of fortune was fairly counterpoised.
Thibaut was captured and kept in duresse, until
he surrendered Tours and Chinon Chinon, after-
wards so gay under Plantagenet ascendency.

The contagious ill-will amongst these nobles
excited much enmit} T against Martel in particular.
Other causes were abundantly found in the
clannish feuds which rise so prominently before
us during this era of Norman history.

2 20. Geoffrey Martel' s conduct was tor-

J Importance

tious ; employing bribery and corruption, he
obtained possession of Alencon. defended by the
site and by the people's valour, and constituting
with Domfront the basis of a line of operations,
which could be equally employed, whether for
the assault or the defence of the Duchy.

From this position, Geoffrey, true to his
epithet, incessantly made Normandy feel the full
weight of his crushing hand, driving all before
him, affronting the Norman pride. Merely to
stand up against an enemy, is, under certain
circumstances, considered an act of boldness ;

whilst William maybe said to have advanced, ntn a 8 MB


bearding his foes ; another expression grounded
upon the same idea.

A very powerful partisan, who occupies a H
special position, was William Fitz-Osborne, son
of honest Osborne ; he who sheltered William
in his earliest childhood, and who had con-



1035-1054 tinued so true and affectionate in the midst of

^r^^ the treacherous crowd.

These men of might were destined to become
Doomsday Barons, and to rule respectively in
England, as Earls of Hereford and Shrews- V

wmiam's William continued to prosecute the cam-
paign with insulting unconcern, savouring of
affectation, hawk on fist, or following the hound,
as though the country did not remain to be
acquired, but had been already gained. Well
nigh had the commencement cost him dear.
His own people grudged the vailing of their
caps to the Tanner's grandson. The disgust
which turned their stomachs against the Bas-
tard, was contagious amongst all the revolters,
and all their party : the very horses shyed
at the stench of the tanyard ; and one in-
dividual, "the traitor of traitors," whose name
is concealed by Guillaurne de Jumieges, nearly
succeeded in betraying our Duke to captivity
or death. Indeed, there could not have been
any other alternative for such a captive, his
prison doors could not have opened except for
the grave.

Such were the feelings actuating all Belesme's
peculiar seigneurie. To fall under the domi-
nation of the Tanner's grandson, the contempt-
ible Bastard, was intolerable. He was loathed
and detested. William made straight towards



Alencon. He found the inhabitants all ready 1035-1054
to greet him : calthrops sown, fosses deep- . - -


ened, walls heightened, - palissades bristling
all around ; whilst the town-folk accumulated
insult upon disloyalty. To spite the Tanner's Hc ia

' * insulted by

grandson, the walls were tapestried with raw 1
hides the filthy gore-besmeared skins hung
out, and as he drew nigh, they whacked them,
and they thwacked them ; " Plenty of work for
the Tanner plenty of work for the Tanner,"
they sang out, shouting and hooting, mocking
their enemies.

They sought to sting William to the quick,
and did. He swore his great oath, that dearly
should they pay for their insolent bravado.
They acted advisedly ; they knew their peril and
had prepared themselves for it, yet scarcely
realizing the extent of their danger. The bridge
was barricadoed, and they made a bold a des-
perate sortie. The outwork was stormed. The
stakes stuck in the ooze were plucked up.
Many of the Alen?on men fell into William's
power, and atrocious his triumph. The pri-
soners were brought before the walls and
there endured the most infernal tortures ; their
fellow-townsmen crowding the battlements, ago-
nized by the appalling spectacle. Eyes spiked
out, hands and feet chopped off, and the man-
gled members and limbs shot into the town,
earnests of the Duke's vengeance. These hor-




courts the

1035 ^ 1054 . rors were intolerable : the Alen^on men, pitifully
craving mercy, were permitted to capitulate ;
and William, having entered on the proper An-
gevine territory, erected a castle at Ambieres,
and returned triumphantly to Rouen.

21. William's renown spread far and near.
The clerks' glozing erudition assured him that he
might appropriate to himself Cesar's alliterative
boast. His Barons renewed their homages ; the

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