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and when William approached, and required the
expected submission, the citizens peremptorily
refused, closed the gates, manned the battle-

ciaimsofthe m ents, and defied the alien king. No oath of


allegiance would they take ; no entry should he
make within their walls ; but they were willing


to make the same recognition of his supremacy
over their Commonwealth which they had ren-
dered to his predecessor in the empire : one half
mark of gold, when London should pay its
tribute, but no less and no more.

William had respected the qualified privileges
of London; but without doubt, he foresaw that
if he permitted a community so powerful, pos-
sessing such moral as well as material strength,
to retain those rights, the same emancipation
would extend itself to the other cities. Imperial
York, the birthplace of Constantino ; Derby,
filled with her Danish population ; Lincoln, se-
cretly acknowledging the northern king ; Chester,
like Exeter, still defended by the Roman ram-
parts, the last shadow of the Empire ; Winches-
ter, ennobled by the recollections of the fabled
Arthur ; and even London herself, though bound
down by the fortresses planted within her pre-
cincts all would rally, and like the Lombard
cities, like that Pavia which had given a Lan-
franc to England, would league themselves,
and defy him, as those in Italy were now begin-
ning to assert their liberty against the successors
of the Cresars. William therefore would listen
to no terms.

9. The men of Exeter were divided. The Sic g* of


rulers, the senate, who had much to lose, dreaded
the effects of resistance to their personal comforts ;
they came forth, they knelt before the foreign
sovereign they promised implicit obedience,


. and gave hostages to secure their dishonourable
submission. But when the wealthy citizens re-
entered the walls, they were no longer the senate ;
the indignant people would not confess them-
selves bound by the act of the selfish few : they
guarded the gates, and refused to hear of sur-
render. William, after reconnoitering the city,
advanced, and approaching the gate, brought
forth one of his hostages and put out his eyes.
But the embittered inhabitants still would not
hear of surrender ; and having no pity for their
own unfortunate townsmen in William's hands,
abandoned them to his cruelty. The siege was
continued till resistance was hopeless ; the bat-
tlements were beaten down, and the lofty white

Exeter walls fell shattered upon the ground, the foun-
dations being burrowed through by the miners.
Clergy and laity came forth soliciting pardon.
William displayed a politic clemency : he ac-
cepted the proffered allegiance of the citizens, and
protected their property from spoil, preventing
his soldiers from entering the city, whilst the
fury and storm of victory was raging. He
profited by this forbearance : the soldiery would
have plundered on their own account, not his ;
and at this juncture his object was not to punish
but to secure : he surveyed his conquest, and
marked out the place for a very strong citadel :

A castie buiit. Roiigemont, for such it was called, rose with the
usual rapidity. Baldwin de Moeles was placed
in command : a large garrison prevented the


citizens from being tempted any more to assert 1068
their independence. From a republic, Exeter


became a municipality ; and William's forces
extending along the peninsula, his dominion was
established even to the Land's End.

10. William allowed his army to return to
their homes, and celebrated a peaceful and joyful
Easter at Winchester. He could now fulfil his
heart's desire : he sent a stately train to Nor-
mandy to bring over Matilda. She passed over
with her court and courtiers, noble dames, pre-
lates and barons ; but none amongst these was
more distinguished than Guido of Amiens, he
by whom the victory of William had been so
lately praised and sung, a grateful theme to
Matilda, whose hands had just assisted in com-
pleting the tapestry in which she had laboured
to commemorate her husband's deeds : that roll
so frail and yet so enduring, which has outlasted
many a castle, town and tower.

The coronation was now to take place; but i* crowned
Stigand was again repelled from his office, and
the solemn rite was fulfilled by Aldred on the n Ma 7 .
festival of Pentecost. Within the year, Matilda
was delivered of her youngest son, who received
the name of Henry, and who became the pecu-
liar object of his father's care. William had not
neglected the education of any of his children ; E
but with Henry, there may have been more
opportunity for improvement. Lanfranc was
his instructor, and Henry received that instruc-


1068 . tion so willingly, that, at no period of his life
did he neglect or lose his pleasure in the culti-
vation he had received. Beauclerc the boy was
called, a name as appropriate to his form as to
his mind, and though youngest in age, the
English considered him highest in honour. He
alone of all the Conqueror's children was the
Porphyrogenitus, the son of a crowned king
and a crowned queen ; the son of a father and
of a mother ordained to royalty, the only one
upon whom, according to popular opinion, re-
gality could descend : and many a prophecy of
the British Merlin, now adopted by the English,
testified the gladness with which they would
view the accession of one whom they might con-
sider as a national sovereign.











g 1. BY the reduction of Exeter, William 1068
established tranquillity in Wessex : a temporary
tranquillity, but which fully enabled him to peace 1
mature his plans of government. He might well
expect the attacks of the Danes. Abbot Elsi
had returned, and from him he might learn that
Sweno, fully engaged in warfare with the Nor-
wegians and the Swedes, could not then resume
his plans of English invasion.

In the meanwhile the country prospered : Assimilation

of English

William's stern authority ensured the peace, and

more amity began to prevail amongst the English

and the Normans. The partiality for French

manners and customs, so encouraged by the

Confessor, continued to encrease ; and in dress

and habits, and even in language, the natives

more and more turned to their recent invaders.

2. The tranquillity of the country was dis-

VOL. in. F F




inTades the

Finds no


More lands

turbed, however, by Harold's son, Godwin, who
had been assembling large forces in Ireland.
The Somersetshire coast, where he expected co-
operation, invited him. His fleet, in which with-
out doubt, the larger portion of the crews con-
sisted of Danes or Ostmen, entered the mouth of
the Avon, ravaging the country. They advanced,
and laid siege to Bristol. But the inhabitants
of that great and opulent town withstood the
marauders for their own sakes. They fought
for goods and warehouses, wives and families,
and beat the enemy off. However, much plun-
der had been gained, even in this expedition,
which they secured on board their ships, and
then spread themselves over the whole shire,
doing great harm. Eadnoth, the standard-bearer
of England : he who had been King Harold's
standard-bearer, had no sympathy with Harold's
sons : he raised the forces of the country and
gave them battle. He himself was slain, but
they were beat off with great loss, and com-
pelled to re-embark, and the English said that
Godwin was not entirely dissatisfied with the
results, as he was thus released from a portion
of the exorbitant demands which he expected
they would make for their equipment and pay.
3. The settlement of the country, mean-,
while, was not intermitted. More and more
lands, more and more domains, passed to Norman
superiority. Geoffrey de Mowbray, Bishop of
Coutances, he who had been so efficient in pro-
moting the assumption of the royal authority,


Iiad abandoned his See, for the purpose of be- 1003
coming one of the largest proprietors in Eng-
land ; and his possessions extended through Berk-
shire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, besides
many shires to the north of the Thames. Robert,
Earl of Mortaigue, was now also possessed of
lordships as far as the Land's End ; and he
erected the strong Castle to which he gave the
name of Mont-aigu from the abrupt and pointed
hill upon which it was raised.

"William's favourite residence was at Wm-JSS 11
Chester : a preference given not merely from its
political importance, but from the facilities which
it offered for those pleasures which the Norman
kings pursued with such inveteracy. The weald of
Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire, still constituted an
extensive and tangled forest, though interspersed
with many a pleasant village and many an open
glade ; for the continuance of land as forest was
not by any means incompatible with husbandry
and cultivation ; and the district, especially in
Hampshire, was fully settled, abounding, even
then, with parish churches, round which the
people were congregated : the rights of pasture
which they possessed in the commonland, afford-
ing the means of subsistence to the herds of
beasts and cattle, but more especially of swine, J h r e e ew
which constituted so large a proportion of their
sustenance. Here William committed that great
act of injustice which brought the most lasting
opprobrium upon his name. He seized a com-
pass of territory not less than fifty miles in

F F 2


1069 circuit, which was henceforth to be appropriated
to no other purpose than the chase. The in-
habitants were expelled : the sacred structures
destroyed, and the New Forest became the last-
ing monument of the Conqueror's tyranny.

4. As yet, William had never been seen in
the northern parts of England. Two of the great
Earldoms were still only partially placed under
his authority, Mercia and Northurnbria. It might
have been William's intention to preserve to the
sons of Algar the dominion which they possessed
in the first of these great principalities, for
such they were, and which their father had
ruled with almost regal power. Chester, where
Edgar had triumphed over the British kings,
had encreased both in moral and military in-
fluence, during Algar's prosperous arid benefi-
cent authority. William had wisely planned to
bring this Earldom into his family, by giving his
Edwin.. daughter in marriage to Edwin. None so popu-
lar was there as Edwin in England : none so
beautiful, none so bold ; nor could any plan
have been more considerately formed ; not merely
for promoting the political influence of the new
dynasty, than for conciliating the affections of
the people. But the jealousy of William's Nor-
man counsellors, and we may infer that of
Montgomery in particular, defeated the plan.
William lingered to fulfil his promise ; then
refused, and Edwin, hot and irascible, quitted
the court and rose in rebellion.

The influence of the two brothers, Edwin


rnd Morcar for the one is never mentioned ^ ioe9
without the other until they were separated by
death was exceedingly extensive. The North-
umbrians had wished for Edwin as their Earl :
the great Earldom of Chester belonged to the
sons ; they were closely connected with the
Oymri, and they were loved and respected and
honoured by Blethyn, their nephew, the British
king. Waltheof returned to his Earldom, or at
least to his domain. A simultaneous insur-
rection was organized : the optimates of the
northern English and the Britons assembled,
and instigated the inhabitants of all Albion to
join in liberating themselves from their common

5. The war broke out most fiercely in
Northumbria ; moor and wood, marsh and glen,
became the strongholds of the English. Large
bodies encamped in the forests, and the name of
wild men was contemptuously bestowed upon
them by the invaders. They availed themselves
equally of the fortification of the Burghs : the
Scots assisted, as well as the Danish population,
and Aldred endeavoured to restrain the hostility
of the northern metropolis, but in vain ; battle
was the cry ; and to rid themselves of oppres-
sion, they threw off all government.

This was not the mode to resist an experi-
enced and wary foe ; and William recommenced
his operations with the same prudence and com-
prehensive view which he had already displayed.
Fenced cities the English possessed. The men


iocs of York could be proud and confident in the
great, many- angular tower, upon which the
Labarum of Constantine had been displayed.

iam's Others were tolerably well protected by earthen

thorough >

ramparts and stockades ; but they did not pos-
sess any compact points of defence, in which,
instead of covering a large and motley popula-
tion, useless for war, you could victual a well-
chosen garrison of efficient soldiers ; and the
irregular bravery of the English therefore con-
tributed not to the protection of the country,
but to its devastation and destruction. Wil-
liam's policy, therefore, consisted in establish-
ing regular lines of citadels as he advanced.
Every station was marked by a new fortress,
placed under an experienced commander. War-
wick was occupied ; and upon the site of the
tower illustrated by the traditions of the hero
Guy, the great opponent of the Danes, the castle
was built, granted to Henry de Beaumont, who
was created Earl of that large dismemberment
of the Mercian territory.

The saxons This demonstration at once shewed to Edwin


and Morcar what they had to expect, and that
their resistance to William's authority would
end in their total ruin. They came forward,
therefore, and requested William's grace and
favour : it was granted to them in appearance ;
but Warwick and its Earldom were not restored,
and they parted from the King entirely alienated,
whether in affection or in loyalty.


Nottingham was the next station ; here a
castle was built, and granted to William Peverel,
represented by a doubtful tradition as an illegiti-
mate son of the Conqueror.

6. Shortly afterwards, the forces of Wil-
liam were seen before imperial York. Terror had
preceded him, and no thought of resistance was
entertained. The citizens came forth with the
keys, and offered them to the Sovereign on the
bended knee, proffering obedience and soliciting
mercy. Archil, the great Thane, whose posses-
sions were spread over Leicestershire and War-
wick, and Lincolnshire, and the British Mercia,
and South Northumbria, surrendered also to
William's authority, and gave his son as an
hostage. All this was well, but William imme-
diately began to lay the foundations of a strong
castle within the city walls ; and as soon as the
works were in anywise defensible, they were York Castle
powerfully garrisoned, under the command of
Robert Fitz-Richard. This tower gave a suf-
ficient token of the citizens' submission, and the
doubts entertained of their sincerity.

Probably the resistance of the Northum-
brians at this juncture would have been more
determined, had not their cause been weakened
by the unexpected defection of that near ally
upon whose support they most reckoned.
Malcolm had fully prepared to wage a despe-
rate warfare against the Normans ; but Egelric,
Bishop of Durham, terrified at William's ap-


1069 proach, now sought to conciliate his favour, and
meditated a peace. The original character of the
Celtic Gael, as described by Bede, when speak-

ing of the first invasion of Ireland by the English,
was distinguished by mildness, resulting, per-
haps, in some measure, from indolence, but ren-
dering them averse, except under strong provo-
cation, from offensive war. The ferocity which
the "Irishry," as the Highlanders were also
called until the last century, exhibited in Erin,
when worn and torn by the unmitigated spoil
and oppression of successive centuries, is a fear-
ful proof of the manner in which the temper of
nations, as of individuals, may be maddened by
despair, and the dispositions most susceptible
of love and affection turned to exacerbated
vengeance. A strong desire for religious con-
templation and domestic tranquillity existed
Maicoim amongst the Gael of Albania. Malcolm's deter-


mination of submitting to William was received
by the clans with the greatest joy as a boon,
and not an humiliation. His embassadors, ac-
companied by the Bishop of Durham, appeared
before the Conqueror, and the oath of fealty,
taken by proxy, renewed the bond of dependence
between the Kings of the Scots and the Basileus
of the British islands.

7. William's first campaign was thus even
more successful than he could have anticipated : he
gained his object without any sacrifice of strength.
He now, therefore, returned to his capital of


Winchester, taking another route, but equally
with the same intention towards providing for the
defence of the country. Lincoln, strong in its ituMdnj
Roman walls, had a castle erected, emulating
that of York. Another was raised at Cam- Cambridge ;
bridge, to keep in check the dangerous Marsh-
lands, possessing stronger natural defences than
any which the hand of man could raise : an-
other at Huntingdon. With respect to Norfolk
and Suffolk, these had been erected into an earl-
dom, and granted to Ralph Guader, a Breton by
birth, and therefore no favourite amongst the
Normans, but supported by his powerful alliance
with Fitz-Osbern, whose daughter he had
espoused. Other castles were judiciously raised
about this time, as it should seem, in the dis-
memberments of Mercia ; Stafford, Shrewsbury, InMercia -
and many more : some upon defensible points,
but the greater number in and within the towns.

Moral effect

These fortresses did not merely furnish im- Soils'?


portant points of defence : they inspired terror.
Each tall, square dungeon tower, with its fresh
walls, harshly and coldly glittering in the sun,
standing upon the ground of the habitations
which had been demolished, and the gardens and
homesteads which had been wasted, to give a
site to the fortress in the midst of the people,
bespoke the stern determination of the Sovereign.
They were the trophies of the Conquest in the
strictest sense of the term ; warning, threatening
the native race. England, wherever William or



1069 his Earls and Barons had settled themselves,
was planted with these citadels, of which the
ruins are seen here and there, some degraded to
mean uses, others still more degraded, as mere
curiosities : some, and the proudest of them, the
prison of the vagrant and the felon ; others, open
to the whistling winds. Then were they all new
and strong, and cruel in their strength. How

Aspect of a

ow'tuTSi its the Englishman must have loathed the damp
smell of the fresh mortar, and the sight of the
heaps of rubble, and the drippings of the stone,
and the blurring of the lime upon the green sward,
as he passed by the Norman castle ; and how
hopeless must he have felt when the great gates
opened and the wains were drawn in, heavily
laden with the salted beeves, and the sacks of
corn and meal furnished by the royal demesnes,
the manors which had belonged to Edward the
Confessor, now the spoil of the stranger : and,
when he looked into the castle court, thronged
with the soldiers in bright mail, and heard the
carpenters working upon the ordnance, every
blow and stroke, even of the hammer or mallet,
speaking the language of defiance.

8. Future events fully manifested the wis-
dom of William's system ; but he had yet many
more struggles to make. England was not won,
though three years had nearly elapsed since he
had worn the royal crown. The English began
to feel most acutely that they were conquered :
and many a wild and desperate scheme did they
form for their deliverance. It is said that a


plot, or conspiracy was organized for a general ^
massacre of the Normans ; and that the time

fixed for carrying it into effect was Ash- Wed- ^mLon of
nesday, the day of penitence and prayer. Con-
cerning this plot, the English writers are entirely
silent, but during this period, thCy are remark-
ably succinct and broken, betraying, by their
fragmentary and incomplete notices, the con-
fusion which prevailed.

Whether true or not, this alleged conspiracy
furnished the reason, or the pretence for great
severity. Many English of distinction were cast Further

seizures of

into prison : others put to death, and far more land -
extensive seizures of land without doubt ensued.
We have a remarkable proof indeed that William
had now abandoned his former just and equit-
able policy. If any could claim [possession for]
his heirs, or next of kin, supposing they were
not strictly heirs, [it should have been] Eadnoth
the standard-bearer, who had lost his life for see P . 432.
William's cause ; yet all the domains of this
great Thane were divided amongst the Con-
queror's Norman followers. With Waltheof,
Merlesweyn, and Gospatric, William had been
afraid or unable to meddle, and these last re-
lics of the English nobility now were in dread,
lest the same fate should befal them which had
visited their compeers, captivity or death ; and
they determined to seek refuge under the pro-
tection of the Scottish king. But they contem-
plated more than their own safety. They con-
templated rescuing the deposed royal family


1069 ^ from the invader: nay more, the preservation of
the royal authority, and its actual restoration in
the antient right royal line. They therefore
embarked with Edgar, the widowed Agatha,


Margaret, and Cristina; and St. Margaret's
Hope, on the banks of the Tweed, preserves
by its traditionary name the memory of the
spot where the fugitives touched the Scottish

KoyaV 116 I 9 - No fact in tne history of the island is
more prominent, for perhaps the event is even of
more importance in the Scottish annals than in
our own, than the flight of the Atheling, and the
marriage of Margaret with the Scottish king ;
yet there are none in which the details are en-
veloped in greater uncertainty ; but, when it is
recollected that none of those who relate the
event could have witnessed it, and that probably
much precaution and some artifice may have
been needed, to enable the children of England
to escape from the Norman Conqueror, there
will be less reason to be perplexed by discrepan-
cies, which rather confirm than invalidate the
general narrative. It is therefore not at all
improbable, that there may be some foundation
for the tale, that the Atheling, or rather his
mother Agatha, for he must certainly have been
too young to form any plan for himself, first
spread the report that they intended to retire to
Hungary, to a distance which would put an end
to all suspicion of future rivalry ; and the pic-


ture preserved of Malcolm meeting the maiden ,
on the shore, was that species of embellishment
which imagination gives to love in every age.

It is very credible that the royal family of
England may have been received in the palatial
abbey of Dumferline ; and still more, that,
whether betrothed or not by her kinsman the


Confessor, Margaret may have hesitated to
accept the hand of the Scottish king. It is quite
consistent with her character to believe that she
would far more willingly have dedicated herself
as a virgin to the service of the Lord. But it
was destined that she should perform that ser-
vice more effectually as a wife and as a mother.
The assent of Edgar, young as he was, was
required. Upon the urgent request of Malcolm,
Margaret assented, unwillingly and reluctantly ;
but the extreme affection of which she was the
object soon dispelled this, and she entered on
that high and dignified station, which rendered
her, in the truest sense of the word, a blessing
to the realm.

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 28 of 41)