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In all William's conduct towards the English,
Royai whilst going to the very verge of rigour, he had
avoided all measures which could be construed
into an affront to the feelings of the higher
classes. To the late royal family he paid, con-
sistently, great respect and honour. Winches-
ter was occupied by him like London ; but
Editha remained there so long as she lived, in
tranquillity and honour. Githa, Godwin's widow,
continued as yet to enjoy her great possessions.
Agatha, the widow of Edward the Outlaw, and
mother of the Atheling, remained under William's
protection with her daughters, Margaret and
Cristina ; foreign names, and bespeaking the
place of their nativity the eldest being even
then as remarkable for her beauty as she was
afterwards for her talents and her piety. It was
commonly reported that her kinsman, Edward
the Confessor, had promised her in marriage to
Malcolm Canmore, king of the Picts and Scots ;
and that he had covenanted to give or confirm
the Lothians as her dowry. If such a betrothal
really had taken place, May Margaret must
have been in her earliest infancy. This circurn-


stance in itself would not render tlie story in- . J 1 " 67
credible ; but no heed was taken of it by
William ; and the Hungarian mother and her
daughters resided probably at Romsey in
Hampshire, where Cristina afterwards professed.

In order to supply his place by an effective E
government, William appointed Odo his brother
and Fitz-Osbern, regents of the kingdom during
his absence, associating also Grandmesnil in
some of the powers of administration. They would.
watch, and vigilantly, against all who were to be
coerced by the sword ; but those who were to
be dealt with more gently, William gradually
and quietly brought closer and closer about his
court and person ; as well those who might be-
come the unwilling agents, as the active causes
of resistance. Of these, the first was the Athel-
ing, always treated by him with kindness
and affection. Notwithstanding the slur which s
had been cast upon Stigand's character, William
continued to treat the primate and metropolitan
of the British Islands with all the outward
veneration appertaining to his high dignity,
though inwardly there was none whose " perfidy '
the king more feared. Agelnoth, the " Satrap "
of Canterbury, was also under suspicion. Every
effort was made by William to conciliate Edwin
and Morcar ; they had fully yielded, and
William had promised his daughter, probably
Constance, in marriage to the elder of these
brothers, as the reward of having obtained


the apparently cordial submission of the
younger. Waltheof also was much courted by
William, and the subsequent marriage of the
Anglo-Danish chieftain with Judith, the Con-
queror's niece, shews how intimate was the
alliance which had been formed. Yet, notwith-
standing this, all were more or less dreaded by
William ; and when he took them with him, and
embarked at Pevensey, although they ostensibly
appeared as his visitors, they probably were
themselves aware that they were taken as
hostages, if not as prisoners. Thus they pro-
ceeded through Kent, indignantly pacified: thus
through Sussex, wasted and desolated, a deso-
lation from which the country did not recover
even till the conclusion of William's reign. Thus
they passed the lake of blood, and the rising
walls of the expiatory monastery ; thus they
reached Pevensey, where William had landed as
the Duke of Normandy, where he had defied the
adverse omen, and where he now embarked to
return to his own land as a triumphant king.

2. William's progress in Normandy,
through town and burgh, and more particularly
his entry into Rouen, was celebrated by the
people, animated by all the contagion of en-
thusiasm. They compare him to those Roman
Emperors whom they idealized as the types of
human grandeur. Beloved as Vespasian, admired
as Pompey ; but above all they paralleled him
to the hero, who, in the romantic traditions of the


country, emphatically Romantic, was deemed to
be the paragon of nobility and valour. The popu-
lar veneration which had been rendered to Caesar,
was transferred to William : he now even shares
with Caesar in the lingering local traditions, tes-
tifying the impression made upon the popular 1 *
mind ; and whilst the peasant tells you that every
grass-grown rampart is Cesar's camp, so does
he point out every stately Abbey as the founda-
tion of the " Due Guillaume," the monument of
his piety and power. And those who more
extolled him declared how prouder than the
triumphal train of Cresar was that which followed
their sovereign. Caesar only brought forth his

v O

prisoners in chains ; but our Duke is followed by
the most venerated of the priesthood, the best
blood of the nobility of England.

But it was during the Paschal Feast at?Sf rt
Fecamp that the great display was made. Here
were exhibited the choicest treasures of the
English kings : the results of foreign commerce
and national industry, which had rendered
England so flourishing amidst every calamity.
William had invited to this feast a host of the
nobles of France, who, mingled with Normans,
and Bretons, and Flemings, were the spectators
of his honour and glory. The guests raised with
wonder as they quaffed from them the huge
buffalo horns, tipped with gold and silver, English

' spoils.

often emptied before at the carouses at West-
minster and Winchester. Lamps and coronals,


1067 . which Bagdad and Byzantium might have
prized, bespoke the skill of the craftsmen of
London or Canterbury. Curtains and tapestries
which had decked the halls of the Confessor or
the bower of his Queen ; robes and garments
heavy with embroidery, worked by those who
were now weeping for the husband or the son.
" More wealth has the Duke brought over from
England" was the general exclamation, "than
could be found in thrice the extent of Gaul;"
and the learned priest declared how England
might be called another Araby for gold, and the
very granary of Ceres for fertility. But the
wealth of England scarcely excited so much
general interest as the aspect of the more youthful
among the strangers : their race still retaining
that personal beauty, the long tresses of flowing
auburn hair, which first led the great Gregory
to seek their conversion.

3. This era was certainly the culminating
point of William's worldly prosperity. He was
enjoying all the first fresh pleasure of success,
as yet unalloyed by its inevitable chastening or
punishment. Without being ostentatious, William
was fully aware of the importance of extending his
reputation, and the means which he employed
were connected with what were considered as
duties. To the Pope he sent the banner of
Harold. Most ample gifts were bestowed upon
the churches of Normandy, and the solemn dedi-
cation of the Abbey [s] of Dive and Jumieges


prolonged the joyful solemnities. Furthermore, 1067
William continued and encreased his patronage
of those who might well encrease his fame. His
court had been long the resort of the learned.
Here was Lanfranc, the great ornament of
European literature. We collect also, that
amongst those who filled the high and confiden-
tial station of his chaplains, were many of dis-
tinguished talent, and he employed that talent
for the celebration of his fame. William of
Poitiers may perhaps be reckoned among the
first ; the narrative of the deeds of his patron
exhibits an attempt, not unsuccessful, [to imitate]
the authors of classic Rome. Another was William
of Jumieges, whose pages preserve many portions
of the composition of his companion, which are
lost in the original. A third was G-uido, Bishop
of Amiens, (especially retained by Matilda, who
now was called Queen,) whose poem upon the
battle of Hastings, a composition so long lost and
so strangely recovered, furnishes some of the
most remarkable details on the occupation of

A poem, written under these circumstances,
possesses as much authenticity, considered as an
historical composition, as any poem can possess.
Addressed to Lanfranc, Guido, in his own gene-
ration, acquired the highest reputation : he was
another Virgil in the opinion of his contempora-
ries. To us, plain prose would have been more
satisfactory : yet, as a literary monument, and



. as evidencing the current and course of opinion,
the verse is most interesting and instructive.
It was not by reviving the fading reminiscences
of Scandinavia, or recurring to the deeds of the
sea kings, that the eulogist now sought to win
his Sovereign's favour : it was by the example
of Rome's warriors -and Rome's heroes that the

instructor sought to form the character of the
Norrnan warrior, and to exalt his praise. The
encouragement thus given by William to learned
men, his patronage, judiciously and liberally
bestowed, produced lasting effects. Through
these men he became known to us : a school of
historians was formed, for whom no parallel can
be found in that period of mediaeval Europe, and
from whom we derive those most abundant
materials which enable us to pursue the history
of the Conqueror and his times with so much
comparative accuracy and facility.
sn m8 William continued in Normandy for upwards

nd7 ' of nine months, attending closely to the adminis-
tration of the country ; well aware, without
doubt, that his presence would soon be required
again in England, for as yet the Normans had
only military occupation : moreover, he was
extremely desirous that Matilda should partici-
pate in his honour, and possess the real dignity
as well as the name of Queen.

4. In the meanwhile, his affairs were not so
prosperous as at first ; and the country had
very rapidly passed from a state of apparent


but deceitful quiescence, to declared insurrec- ,_
tion. With the exception of London and some

few of the adjoining shires, there was hardly a
district which did not display either manifest
discontent or actual resistance to the Norman
power. Whilst William was present, his heavy
hand restrained his own Normans as well as his
newly acquired subjects, but no longer. The
English had been stunned by the blow : they
now began to feel the smart. Fitz-Osbern and
Odo, proud, sullen, and violent, invested as The Regents.
Regents with royal authority, indulged in all
the license of royal power, freed from royal re-
sponsibility. Even in the best settled states, it
is usually the character of a Regency, as great
an internal calamity, short of civil war, as can
befal a nation, to exaggerate the vices and faults
of the monarchy. It is a mode of government
which has the smallest proportion of political
conscience ; and William's justiciars imbued
themselves with his harshness and rigour, with-
out acquiring his countervailing prudence, and
his sense of the utility derived from the sem-
blance at least of moderation and justice.

Their situation was certainly one of great
difficulty. William, waiting his opportunity, had
purposely abstained from exercising any direct
authority in Northumbria. English Northumbria,
Danish Northumbria, British Northumbria,
Scottish Northumbria, none of which can be
marked out by any very precise boundaries, but



i067 . all possessing very different interests, would re-
quire great management, and he seems to have
left it doubtful whether the country was or was
in no ^ to continue under the government of Eng-

lish or Anglo-Danish Earls, ruling as Suzerains
under his supremacy. The very ambiguous
term of Procurator applied to Copsi, leaves us
in doubt as to the authority which he was to
possess. William, however, had obtained con-
siderable influence. Archbishop Aldred, the
northern Primate, whose spiritual authority ex-
tended, if they would allow him to exercise it,
up to the furthest verge of the Orkneys, strenu-
ously supported William ; so did some powerful
Thanes ; but against Copsi there existed the
strongest antipathy. On first entering York-
shire, he expelled Oswulf, who wandered for a

Deaa of short time in the forest like an outlaw, but
friends and followers joined him, and Copsi was
slain by a sudden and general insurrection of
the people. Northumbria reverted to his com-
petitor, and as far as it extended, this was
entirely an anti-Norman revolution ; and fore-
boded the greatest evil from the assistance it
would render to the Danes.

The west. j^ i ess threatening, though more tranquil,
was the situation of the West of England. Wil-
liam was here partially acknowledged by some
of the great English land-holders, and cordially :
amongst others by Eaclnoth, the standard-bearer
or marshal of the host of the Anglo-Saxon kings,


a dignity attached to bis possessions. Eudo, . ._ 1 C7 _,
Count of Porthoet, one of the co-regents of
Brittany, seems to have entered warmly into Wil-
liam's interests ; and one of his sons, Brian, com-
monly called Fitz-Oount, seems to have passed
over and occupied some position on the coast
of Somerset or Devon. But Exeter would by independenc

J of Exeter.

no means accept the Norman domination other-
wise than upon conditions, even if the city would
go so far ; but we infer from subsequent transac-
tions that the men of Exeter and others had much
more extensive plans, and that they were seeking
to form a general league amongst the English
Burghs against the common enemy. But a little
more, and England might have become the first
Federal Commonwealth in Christendom.

5. Yet all these dangers were of small im- ^ h c e onducb
port, when compared with the mischief resulting Regents '
to William's cause from the bad government of
his deputies. He had, without doubt, wise cap-
tain as he was, given instruction to them to
follow up his plans of occupation, and to direct
their efforts against the remaining portions of
Harold' s Earldoms. These were particularly the
districts which had belonged to his brother
Sweyn : Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and the
adjoining parts, much mixed up with the half
independent and half subdued dominions of the
British princes, and also not very accurately dis-
tinguished from the dominions of the sons of Algar.
Fitz-Osbern stretched across the country, and


, occupied Hereford, being assisted by Richard
Fit /-Scroop. who, a:3 it will bo recollected, was
or settled there in the (\>n lessor' s (lavs. At Here-

Normans in

"* ford, a strong castle was built and a garrison
placed therein ; and at this period many other
castles were commenced, at least, by Fit/-0sbern,
all rivetting the Norman power. In these opera-
tions, much warfare, much bloodshed, much
desolation was inevitable; yet, divided as the
English were, any incursion or injury olVered in
the way of war to any particular Thane, would
not have been considered as a national injury.
But Odo, so unworthy of the name of a Bishop,
and Fitz-Osbern, were carried awav bv excessive


pride : all justice was entirely denied. All the
wise coercion of evil, of needless crime, which
had been enforced bv William, was entirely

* V

thrown aside. William had caused peace to be
injustice observed and the dwellings to be protected : the

the Keguts.

Regents gave them up to robbery. William had
ensured safe conduct to the wayfarer : the Re-
gents gave up the highways to robbery and
rapine. Above all, William had most carefully
and inexorably protected the honour of the
female : the Regents encouraged and supported
their followers in sin and violence. It seemed
as if the Normans, released from all authority,
all restraint, all fear of retaliation, were now
determined to reduce the English nation into
bodily servitude, and to drive them to despair.
This subversion of all discipline, this universal


anarchy, was on the point of becoming fatal to
the Norman power.

We possess very curious, and, it appears to
me, conclusive evidence that William was kept
in ignorance of these transactions, and that he
was deceived by the reports transmitted to him
by his brother and Fitz-Osbern. But, as through-
out the whole of this stage of the conflict, the
Normans were settled and confirmed in their
authority, not so much by their own valour or
their own prudence as by the moral visitation
which had fallen upon the English. If the Eng-
lish could have been united under any one com-
mander, or if they could have been united
amongst themselves, they might yet have recovered
their independence ; but the spirit of the race was
broken : emigration began. Very many of the
younger abandoned their country and all thought
of it, and proceeding to the South, entered the
service of the Byzantine Emperor, where they
became a mercenary band, fighting battles not
their own, and enjoying the luxuries of the East,
as the price of their venal fidelity. Some went
back to the land of their forefathers, the antient
seats of the " old Saxons " on the Elbe, and are
dimly traced in the recollections of German his-
tory. All these were for ever lost to England.

6. But there were others who at least were
more consistent, and who left the country, not in
despair, not dreading the yoke of the Normans,
and determined to make one effort more. Egel-


. 1067 . sine had returned from Denmark, leaving his
see ante, gifts ; but many of the English, including

p* 396.

Harold's sons, had supplied his place at the
Court of Sweno ; and urged him to revenge his
injuries and their own. The Danes were impa-
tient for action : his brother, Jarl Osbern, his
Bishops, were all ready for the war, and a ready
and joyful assent was given to the English en-
treaties. A second body of Englishmen resorted
to Malcolm Canmore. Egelric, the Bishop of
Durham, Malcolm's Diocesan, probably was on
their side, and Malcolm on his part raised large
forces for the foray. Lastly the men of Kent
sought a liberator in the person of one who had
been the Conqueror's compeer, his ally in the
battle of Hastings, and a fellow vassal of the

TO Eustace. Frankish king. This was Eustace, brother-in-
law of the Confessor, Count of Boulogne, of
Guisnes, of Terouenne Terouenne which had
withstood the power of Caesar, both courted and
distrusted by William, who, keeping the son of
Eustace as an hostage, had nevertheless bestowed
upon him large Kentish domains.

RiHngin Notwithstanding the injuries which the men

of Kent had, in the preceding reign, received
from Eustace, they nevertheless much respected
this Sovereign, destined to become the grand-
father of an English king ; and they invited him
as a liberator. The great object was to gain pos-
session of Dover, strongly fortified and strongly
manned, and usually commanded by the Bishop


and Hugh cle Montfort in person. Watching the .
opportunity, when they were absent beyond the
Thames, the confederates gave notice of the
favourable moment. A Kentish vessel bore
Eustace across the narrow channel, and having
quitted the Roman Pharos which crowned his
own white cliffs, he landed at the foot of the
tower from which signal, in the times of the Em-
perors, had answered to signal in Britain. The
Kentish barks, which had been sent over for the
service of Eustace, conveyed over his chosen
band of knights.

The whole country around was in a state of And -mv


insurrection. He began the siege of Dover
Castle : more and more of the English joined
him, and could he have continued the siege for
two days more, the fortress would have been
compelled to surrender ; and the chief access to
England might have been closed against the
Conqueror. But the news of the invasion had
reached De Montfort and the Bishop, and they
marched all their forces against Eustace. The
garrison, however, had defended themselves
valiantly : Eustace had begun to be discouraged,
and, as it is said, had already given the signal of But is

J & defeated.

retreat. At this moment, the Bishop of Bayeux
appeared at the head of his troops. Eustace
and his men fled. Many were thrown down the
cliffs, and he escaped with great difficulty.

7. In the meanwhile, the Normans were
encountering a great and formidable opposition on


the marches. The Cymri were tasting the bitter-
ness of the Norman sword : the hereditary
antipathy between them and the English had
been fast diminishing : the common sympathy
f suffering now united them. Edric the Wild
threw off his enforced obedience, and refused to
submit to the conquerors ; probably they were
attempting to dispossess him altogether. Fitz-
Scroop, and the garrison of Hereford, ravaged
his lauds. Blethyn and Rhywallon, the princes
of Dehubarth, joined their forces to Edric, and,
entering Herefordshire, devastated the country,
and returned in triumph, loaded with booty, the
incentive and the reward of their hostility.

William continued in Normandy,, and evil
news thickened upon him ; and worse was to be
apprehended the invasion of the Danes. Yet
he lingered in his Duchy, not ineffectually, but
providing for its good government ; reducing it
into perfect peace. At last he could stay no
longer. He again confided the government to
Matilda, not daring yet to fulfil his purpose of
placing her as a crowned queen by his side, but
directing that she should rule in the name of
Robert an act of which he did not foresee the
future grief it would bring upon him. William
embarked at Dieppe in the depth of winter.
Dec. e, io67. The day of sailing was the feast of St. Nicholas
of Myra, a saint peculiarly invoked as the patron
of sea-farers : the weather was extremely stormy ;
but he arrived in England safely, though he had

And places
him near


well nigh perished in the tempest which lashed . _1 67
the dark and stormy sea.

8. William was received with apparent
gladness ; and with his accustomed prudence and
firmness, he held his Christmas court at West-
minster with all due solemnity. He had brought
with him a wise adviser, Roger de Montgomery,
for whom he had appointed the Earldom of
Arundel, and upon whom he also bestowed the
Earldom of Shrewsbury. He thus placed one
who would become the most formidable enemy
against the Cymri on their borders, not, how-
ever, without some invasion of the rights of the
Mercian Earls ; but Edwin was still considered
as William's future son-in-law ; and the chro-
nicler, though seldom adverting to such details
of passion, gives us to understand that a sin-
cere and encreasing affection subsisted between
Edwin, whose personal beauty is always noticed
with remarkable emphasis, and his future bride.
The others, whom William had taken over with
him to Normandy, either returned now, or in
the course of the year ; Stigand, it should seem,
resuming his functions, though still under that
species of cloud resulting from accusations
publicly announced, and yet continuing unde-

In his conduct, William shewed more than
usual benignity, receiving all who resorted to
him, listening to all suggestions, and employing
himself, amongst other plans, in means of dis-


. J 1 " 68 , , uniting the Welsh and the English, whose union
might well cause him great apprehension. As
he proceeded cautiously from place to place, the
English were awed into submission, and wherever
he appeared, he fully regained that dominion
which was beginning to escape from his grasp.

wmiama n t to Not so when he reached Exeter : here a spirit
of resistance existed, far more dangerous than
the turbulence of the wilder regions of the north.
Should this one city be able to defy him, how
soon would all the other communities of the
same nature despise his power? The citizens
hated the Normans ; their river opened an easy
access to the Irish Danes ; their Roman walls
and defences, then the noblest in England, gave
them more than the usual means of resistance ;
and they probably knew, that dreaded as the
Normans were in the open field, they were com-
paratively deficient when operating against the
walls of a fortress. The patriotism of the men
of Exeter invited those who shared the same
feelings ; their opulence enabled them to pur-
chase the doubtful though formidable aid of
mercenaries from the north ; foreign countries
had stored their city with the means of defence ;

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 27 of 41)