Francis Palgrave.

The history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) online

. (page 3 of 41)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 3 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cestor, have received that blessing which has
enabled them to preserve their identity and
vitality even to the present day.

The most recent amongst our archaeological
travellers, encountering the children of Jonadab

7 by Loftus.

the son of Rechab, as faithful now, as in the $ji.
days of the Prophet, bears testimony to their a
prosperity in the Marches, where they were
settled by the Babylonian Sovereign. And,
whatever may be the individual crimes which
stain that mysterious Race, who have adopted


9*7-996 a tne first Commandment with promise," as the
foundation of their Commonwealth, this simple
obedience has multiplied the numbers and pro-
longed the existence of the most numerous
amongst the children of Noah; one-third (as
it is reckoned) of the Human race, beyond that
of any other people on the face of the earth.
5. How the medieval Missionaries acted

ding retained . .

by the W1 th respect to anv ethnic custom, innocent and

Church of "

of good report, is still evidenced in the Church

of England. When the Bridegroom presents

jpy^^T* the golden ring, which, -until comparatively

the English .

common- recent times, was always accompanied by the

wealth, Vol. * *

silver coin, as the symbol of the Bride's par-
ticipation in his worldly goods, he follows the
example of Clovis and Clotilda. Even in the
simple and affecting wedding words : " I take
thee Mary to my wedded wife, to have and to
hold, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse,"
we listen to the echo of the rythmical flow


and alliterative resonance of the earliest age.
This complete incorporation of an autieut and
impressive form with the offices of religion, is
peculiar to the Anglo-Saxon Church. We may
discern in the practice the living kindness of
Gregory the Great, fructifying through Saint
Augustine's wisdom. The Blessing hallowed
the legal form, which thus became binding upon
the Christian's conscience, testifying at the
same time, his respect for his forefathers.

A course, somewhat less satisfactory, was
pursued in the other Latin Churches. Four


Carlovingian Capitularies direct, that the mar- . 987 7" 6
riage should receive the Bcnedictio Sacerdotis ;
but, it is very probable, that, in many cases, the
Avcdding parties contented themselves with the
betrothal according to the Teutonic tradition,
without requiring the sanction of the altar. The
Church might frown, but the civil marriage
satisfied their conscience ; and we apprehend
that many children who are termed illegitimate
by historians, were not thus stigmatized by the
opinion of society. This was peculiarly remark-
able in Normandy, where the espousal, more
Danico, was generally accepted by the Laity,
as not needing further corroboration.

6. Richard conducted himself kindly and ? ichard ,

%j o<in8-pe

respectfully to the childless and solitary Emma ; g"
and, when she departed, he notified the event to
her father, Duke Hugh, requesting the despatch
of some of the Damsels and Matrons of the
French Court, to aid him in distributing her
charities. But, whilst Emma's life, since her
unhappy espousals, had been wearing away in
solitude, Richard ran riot, and a plurality of
unknown paramours presented him with a
goodly progeny.

Richard's fluttering affections were ultimately
fixed on the celebrated G-uenora, a damsel
of pure Danish descent ; and Dudo's rhetorical
language, happily ambiguous, may be construed
into an assertion, that her lineage was distin-
guished by nobility. The details of Richard's
adventures with Gruenora are such as delight


. 987 -" 6 . the free spoken merry Trouveur ; but it is
more seemly that they should be elided by the

he U r e pare a At- historian. Guenora's father's name is not re-
corded, though we know all about her. She
had a brother, Herfastus, and three sisters,
Sainfrida, Gueva, and Adelina. The eldest of
these damsels, distinguished by her beauty,
became the wife of Richard's Forester, who
dwelt at Secheville near Arques. The report of
her loveliness reached the Court : and Eichard
visited the Forester's lodge with a dishonest in-
tent. Sainfrida, wise and chaste, escaped the
snare, and the adventure terminated by the lusty
Duke taking to G-uenora, not less attractive than
her sister.

We receive the narrative of Eichard' s amours
with Guenora from two informants. The one


preSentS us with a tale of intrigue more credible
than creditable the second and graver narra-
tive, we owe to the Dean of Saint Quentin, who
is discreetly silent concerning any incidents
which might offend the family. When Guenora
was first introduced as the sharer of Eichard's
affections, he reserved the privilege of fickle-
ness, avoiding any permanent engagement
which might be binding, whether according to
the municipal jurisprudence, or the precepts of
the Church. But his Nobles were mindful of
the national interests. Eichard must neither
live heiiiess, nor die so; and this was one of
the rare cases when a state marriage can be
sweetened by affection. The Normans were


proud of their progenitors. The adoption of . 87 -" 6 ,
French manners and French customs did not
diminish the worship due to ancestry ; and
they urged the Duke to contract a legitimate
marriage, which tie he had hitherto avoided.
They therefore earnestly exhorted him to espouse ^ r b d y hia
the Damsel, as a measure tending to popularity,


Guenora would give him children of pure Danish
blood father and mother belonging to the con-
quering race. Thus would he gratify the popu-
lar appetite for pleasant illusions ; a policy
constituting an essential element in the science
of government. When the Monarch is inclined
to be gracious, a very small tincture of conces-
sion accomplishes the end. George the Third
declared to his Parliament, that he gloried in
being a Briton : an assertion, poetically admis-
sible in the clays when Britannia ruled the waves.
And, if at Hanover, the " Churfurst Georg" had
gloried in being the descendant of Arminius,
the effect amongst the Germans would have been
the same.

7. Guenora' s first born received, at his S? d n of

mother's request, his father's name. This Rich-
ard is known, dynastically, as Eichard le-Bon,
or Richard the Second.

Robert, Guenora's second son, died young ;
his curious memorial was discovered at Fecamp,
towards the beginning of the last century. The
tomb has been since destroyed ; but if admitted
as coeval, we have to lament the loss, since the
Revolution, of the earliest certificated sepulchral


987-996 monument in Normandy, the more interesting as

it exhibited a Lion, apparently employed as a
device or bearing.
Further Robert thus prematurely cut off, another

account of

the cwidrcn. Robert was in due time nursed upon Guenora's
knee. Long did he live, and in common lan-
guage, prosperously ; but he would have left a
better report, had he, like his brother, died an

Richard's immediate descendants were nume-
rous, but the antient authorities and the modern
genealogists are at variance amongst themselves
and contradictory to each other. The status of
adventurous William, the bastard of Normandy,
is disclosed by his epithet. G-eoffrey, said to be
the ancestor of the Earls of Clare, falls in the
same category. Mauger, who acquired much im-
portance in French affairs, was assuredly legiti-
rs e o d f aush " mate. Richard's daughters contributed as much
ndy ' as their brothers to the brilliancy of the family.
The fine well-grown Norman women of Rollo's
lineage, wooed by grandees and sovereigns, were
renowned for their comeliness. It became a
species of proverb that the race of Rollo gained
as much by the fascinations of the damsels as
by the prowess of the sons. The daughters of
Gruenora inherited their mother's bright charms ;
Maude, Countess of Tours Blois and Champagne ;
Havisa, Duchess of Brittany ; and the brisk,
buxom, commanding Emma, the " Alfgiva Emma"
-twice the Regnant Queen, and twice the Dow-
ager of England.

Royal heirs, heirs apparent, are not


always comforts to their parents ; Richard's . 987 ~ 9im
father and grandfather had each in their turn
much cause for anxiety.- -Troubled was Rollo
when he resigned his authority to the blooming
son, the only son, Gruillaume Longiie-epee.
Sorrowfully, and with many cankering cares, did
G-uillaunie Longue-epee provide for securing
the succession to his only son Richard : and
Richard Sans-peur, in his turn, might anticipate
a troubled and clouded future. The right of claimsof


Primogeniture, though admitted, was not inde-
feasible, even in the Royal Family. A bevy of
stout and growing youths might contest the Coro-
nal ; and, like the Carlovingian Empire, the House
of Rollo be distracted by fraternal enmity. It
was a difficult problem how to satisfy the ex-
pectations of the brothers. But a way opened
through which Richard's uneasiness might re-
ceive a partial sedative, if not a cure : one son,
at least, could obtain a competent provision,
without impairing the integrity of the Duchy.
8. The Norman Church, at this period, pre-



sented a most unedifymg aspect. The disturb- thereof -
ances of the country, the Danish devastations,
the irregularities of a mixed and floating popula-
tion, and the absence of any moral restraint, had
disordered the whole system. Provincial Coun-
cils or Synods, had wholly ceased ; nor were any
held in Normandy until the Conqueror's reign.
Had they assembled, they would have been
mischievous. The forms of ecclesiastical go-
vernment, when they have lost their hold on
the national conscience, are mere delusions ;


987 ~ 996 . nor can the principles or the practice of any
Church ever acquire stability, except when
she firmly demands obedience from her mem-
bers. When she hesitates, she is next to
lost. Her gentlest persuasions should be
accepted as commands. Unless the Priest
can lay down the law like the Judge, he had
better let the law alone. The Monks, with few
exceptions, were destitute of discipline, the
regular Canons, worse. Tosspots they would
have been called in old Latimer's language, con-
stantly lapsing into drunkenness and disorder.
^ All observance of canonical election had dis-
Rouen. of appeared. It did not tell for much any where ;
but in isolated Normandy the principle was
wholly ignored. The rights of the Regale were
rampant ; and whether by management, but
oftener by direct and absolute power, it was
the Duke's Clerk who ascended the episcopal
throne. Hugh, who, placed in the See of Rouen
by Gruillaume Longue-epee, held the dignity till
nearly the close of Richard's reign, wasted and
dissipated the property of the Church, and
surrendered himself wholly to gross sensuality.
Richard acted as patrons are accustomed, and
therefore he, the Sovereign, determined to pro-
vide for his son Robert in the Church. Yet he
had some regard for decency. At an early age
the lad was put to book, and trained for his
future vocation as carefully as his father's oppor-
upon Hugh's tunities would afford. At length Hugh's expected
Richard death ensued, and Richard presented his sou


to the dignity. He possessed as much authority w-

as any King of France; nay, greater. Time

presents his

had not yet matured those usages and practices, on Ruben to

> ' tin; Arch-

which, enshrined in an antient Monarchy, convert b
the exercise of prerogative into an institution,
modified or restrained by precedent, at the same
time that they strengthen the hands of the
King. The Norman Duke was a constitutional
Despot. No need had Richard to consult his
Nobles in this affair of patronage : nor does it ap-
pear that the Citizens of Rouen retained any pre-
scriptive right of participating in the nomination
of their spiritual Chief, approximating to the in-
fluence enjoyed by the antient Municipality, who
guarded the Shrine of Saint Reniy. Yet, in this objections

taken to the

case, an exception was taken by the Clergy. Not Srfon *
that they contested the Patron's power, nor were bis bastardy.
they scandalized by the Candidate's nonage, but
they denied his eligibility, on the ground that he
was incapacitated by bastardy.

9. According to the Civil law, the injury f S-f
inflicted upon the innocent offspring by the Sequent e

marriage of

erring parents who gave them birth, is not

irreparable. A subsequent marriage legitimates
all the previous concubinary issue. Such is the
subsisting law in Scotland, England being the
only portion of the Western Church, where this
charitable doctrine never did prevail. - The pro-
posal made, in the reign of the third Henry, for
catholicising our common-law jurisprudence, was
repudiated under circumstances which rendered
VOL. in. c


987-996 the sturdy resistance of the Temporality to the

dictation of the Clergy, an era in our Constitu-

2 oHe 2 n 35 iii tional history. For when the Archbishop of

fnaSolf ' Canterbury, and his Bishops and Suffragans, and

iiame e nto r f the Earls and Baronage of England, were as-


chan e g e to the sembled in the famous Parliament of Merton,
an d the law was settled upon various important
points requiring amendment, all the Bishops
thereupon instanced the Earls and Barons, that
they would consent that all such as were born
afore matrimony, should be legitimate, as well
as they that be born after matrimony, as to the
succession of inheritance, forasmuch as the
Church accepted their legitimation. And then
did all the Earls and Barons reply with one
thundering voice, they would not change the
laws of England, which hitherto had been used
and approved. "Nolumus leyes Anglice mutare,
qucB usitatce sunt et approbates"
and j> u f i n Normandy, the way was open for
removing the canonical difficulties in this par-
ticular case. Richard forthwith assented to the
legitimated. g u gg e gti n made by the Priesthood. A mar-
riage between him and G-uenora was celebrated
before the altar : and, according to a symbolical
usage which still obtains in Scotland, all the
children of the hitherto unsanctified union were
sheltered beneath the flowing mantle of the
matronly bride. Robert, the- disqualification
thus removed, was forthwith seated on the
Archiepiscopal throne. Hugh, Robert's prede-
cessor, was so far decent as to be a Priest in


dren are


garb. Robert did not make even any pretence 9*7-990
to the clerical character. He married a wife,
and obtained in due iime the County of Evreux :
-and from him, as after mentioned, came the
Devrcux family.

S 10. Great were Richard Sans-peur's na- Rfcham

u 8ans-pcur s

tural gifts, manifest and manifold his pleasant natura
qualities ; urbane, and fairly right-minded as a
Sovereign, or seeking to be so. Happy with
the hawk on his wrist, or the leash in his fist ;
kind, though his kindness did not always restrain
him from cruelty. Jovial with the Jougleur,
popular with the Priest, singularly had the
education bestowed by his father's forethought
profited to him, adapting him for the peculiar
condition, presented by the political as well as
the social state of Normandy. Richard Sans-
peur, first of the name, must be contemplated as
the last Duke of Danish Normandy, whilst his
son Richard, the second bearing that name, is
the first Duke of Norman Normandy ; the State
holding the highest position in the political
Hierarchy of the French Monarchy.

A man is as many times a man as he
knows many languages, quoth Charles -le-
Quint, speaking to us in the old books of
moral apophthegms and wise saws, now dis-
carded from the educational series, perhaps
not much for the better. There are, at all events,
those who begin privately to suspect, for they
dare not speak out, that the lessons upon stocks
and stones are not quite so fruitful as the study

c 2


987-996 ^ of mankind and man. The saying of Charles-le-
Quiiit is, however, true or untrue, according to
the recipient's capacity. , If the student be
wise, linguistic knowledge becomes a sure en-
crease of wisdom to him ; if unwise, he is ren-
dered a polyglot of folly.

Equally was the second Richard versed in
L Romance the venerable dialect of his ancestors, and in

language in

Normandy, j-jjg R oma ne speech, now vernacular, though the
need of the first qualification had become less
urgent. Men could speak Norsk, but Norsk was
not much spoken ; and the pleasant language em-
phatically called "French" or the Langue d'oc,
developed in various idioms, had ripened into
consistency. The primitial specimens of the
Norman Langue cl'oil, eldest amongst the Ronaane
modes of speech applied to literary purposes, are,
as is almost invariable in similar examples, ver-
sions of the Holy Scriptures. The Cambridge
Psalter, and the Parisian Codex of the Book of
Kings, both in the Norman dialect, contend
for antiquity. Textually, these curious relics can-
not date before the eleventh century, but the regu-
larity of their grammatical construction testifies
a lengthened antecedent period of cultivation.
betweentue Very powerfully did this diffusion of the
cape s t e andof French ethos co-operate in consolidating Nor-
mandy with the other regions of Franco-
G-allia. The new dynasties of Rollo and of
the Beccajo had become thoroughly allied.
The grudges of the Carlovingian era were sent

Dukes who




to sleep, and the entente cordiah between the
two Houses, which had subsisted since the duy
when the young Richard " commended" himself
to Hugh le-G-rand, and submitted to his marriage
with Emma, continued undisturbc'd.

Richard Sans-peur, the prosperous Sovereign
of a prosperous land, was the first among the
Norman Dukes who struck money ; and the ^ d

*/ MlMIM 1 V.

" Sol Rouennois," ranks amongst the rarest of
the tiny treasures coveted by the French Nu-
mismatist. Rapidly did the hammered coin
circulate. No rigid Raoul Torta stood by the
Duke's side to check the expenditure. Each of
Richard's Esquires received, day by day, nine
of these sweetly ringing pieces of silver.

11. Richard Sans-peur being profuse in all
ways, he bestowed a large portion of his wealth in
re-endowing the decayed and dilapidated Monas-
tic foundations, which, for the most part, had
sunk into a miserable state of degradation,
poverty, and dissoluteness. But a healthier spirit
was reviving, and Fecamp, Richard's birthplace,
became peculiarly the object of his care.

It chanced, that when standing on the Lofty
perron of the tall Ducal Palace, he looked down
upon the mean, decayed, and neglected Church,
the memorial of his poor father's pitiful vacilla-
tions : and it seemed to him a scandal, that
the proud Mansion which Griiillaume Longue-
epee had reared, should affront the lowly
House of Prayer. And he bethought himself



987-996 that he would rebuild the Church with decent

magnificence. The details of the transaction
are reported by Dudo de Saint Quentin with
much particularity. The terms employed in
the original text are remarkable, as shewing
the distinctness of the Masonic calling, and the
talent and skill which the Craft demanded. The
diligent inquiry for a competent architect, made
by the Duke's directions, proves that qualified
masters of the science were rare. The selected
Brother carefully surveyed the surrounding
country ; nor did he commence his work until
he had ascertained that the hills furnished quar-
ries of gypsum and good limestone also.

Precious are these first explicit notices elu-
cidating Neustrian architecture in Norman times.
The only information we possess concerning the
raising of a building in Normandy before the
Normans came there, relates to Saint Ouen, in
the old, old days of the Merovingian Clothaire.
We are told that the edifice was constructed
of well squared masonry, and by a Gothic hand
" miro opere, quadris lapidibus, Gothica manu"
the "Goth" being unquestionably a Master
mason from Lombardy or the Exarchate.

The existing Abbatial Church of Fecamp,
erected subsequently to Richard's age, still
stands conspicuous as the most extensive in
Normandy ; and, towards the east end, the fabric
probably retraces the lines of the original struc-
ture. The costly new Basilica was splendid ;
adorned by lofty towers, beautifully finished

v;itiou of


without, and richly ornamented within. But the
moral re-edification was far more important than aM(J1 ,,,
the material. The regular Canons, who had Fecamp.'
sadly degenerated into sloth and sin, were ejected,
and a Colony of Benedictines from Clugriy,
under the guidance of Saint Mayolus, rendered
the renovated Fecamp pre-eminent for sanctity
and learning.

There was one object however, which ex-
cited much speculation. It was a large block '
of stone, placed right across the path which
led to the transept door-way, so close to the
portal, as to be beneath the drip of the eaves ;
or, at all events, within the splash of the stream
gushing on rainy days from the queer wide
mouth of the projecting gurgoil, stretching out
his long neck. Fashioned and located by Duke
Richard's order, the stone was hollowed out so
as to form a huge, strong, chest ; which might be
used either as a coffin or a sarcophagus. Its pre-
sent employment, however, was for the living, not
the dead. On the eve of every Lord's day, the
chest, or whatever it might be called, was filled
to the brim with the finest wheat-corn ; then a
cate, or luxury, as it is now considered in many
parts of France. To this receptacle, the poor re-
sorted, and each filled his measure of grain, and
into each open hand were dropped five dulcet-
chinking pennies : whilst the lame and the bed-
ridden were visited by the Almoner as he made
his rounds through Fecamp town, and by each
was the dole received.


987-996 g 12. Some few years subsequent to this re-
foundation of Fecamp, Richard's health declined.
His constitution broke up. Painful disease en-
sued : he retired to a Ducal residence in the
neighbourhood of Bayeux, according to tradi-
tion in the pleasant village of Noron, a neigh-
bourhood consecrated by the reminiscences of
early youth. Worse and worse did the sinking
' old uisiQ. become. More pain, more debility ;


.Fecamp. anc [ ^g requested to be conveyed to Fecamp
Palace, close to the Abbey, he suggesting this
removal for the purpose of avoiding, as he de-
clared, the agitation which would be occasioned
in a populous town, by the Sovereign's demise,
and the trouble and disturbance attending the
funeral. Yet these reasons are scarcely ade-
quate, and we suspect he was actuated by a
political motive ; namely, to guard against the
possibility that the important proceedings for
effecting the settlement of the Ducal succession
might be troubled by any factious party gathered
in the Capital of the Danishry.

At Fecamp, Richard's strength failed ra-
pidly, and his brother Raoul of Ivri, and his
other Nobles assembled. No parallel case had
yet occurred. When Rollo was dying, there
could be no doubt who should succeed him,
GTuillaume Longue-epee was his only son.-
When Guillaume Longue-epee departed, he left
no other heir except the fearless boy, between
whose tender hands, the three Chief Nobles
had performed the act of fealty but many


were the sons by more than one mother, who 9.97-090

might contest all or part of Richard Sans-peur's
Duchy. The order of succession was considered
as depending upon the father's will and pleasure :
the right of primogeniture not being acknow-
ledged as indefeasible.

The Nobles, therefore, sought that the depart-
ing Prince should declare his will. Counsellors
and friends congregated round the bed-side.
Eaoul of Ivri spake for the rest, and humbly
and kindly supplicated that Richard would be
pleased to nominate the one amongst his sons
who should inherit the " Monarchy?" "HeggjjJ 1 * 1
who bears my name, let him be your Duke

Richard II.,
VOUl' Ruler ' his successor.

Another question ensued and, as to the
brothers ? Richard having fully considered

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