Francis Palgrave.

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

. (page 4 of 41)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

this delicate point and determined how he could
provide for them without dismembering the
Ducky, was prepared to answer the question.

The doctrine of " Commendation," so impres-
sively taught by Hugh le-Grand, was fully
accepted in his son-in-law's great Province,
destined to become the thorn in the side of
the Capets. Let them take the oaths of fealty,
said the dying man, addressing Count Raoul,
acknowledge Richard as their superior : and,
placing their hands in their brother's hands,
receive from him those domains which I shall
name to thee.

Richard's worldly affairs thus settled, his
sufferings became sharper, yet he rose from his

u "


987-996 bed, and clothing himself in sackcloth, crept
to the Church, and kneeling before the Altar,
placed his gifts thereon : and then Count Eaoul
instanced him to give directions for his funeral.
Richard had long bethought himself con-
cerning the deposit of his corpse. In many of
the ecclesiastical provinces of Western Chris-
tendom, the very antient canons still generally
enforced among the Eastern Churches, for-
bidding that the House of God should be
denied by decay and foulness a law dictated
equally by good sense and reverence were not
obsolete. The awful cemetery of "Aril sul


fnth p e r eariy d Rodano" the Aliscamps, that solemn field of
c s h c uck' he the dead, manifests at the present day, though
defaced and degraded, how strictly the prohibi-
tion was obeyed in Southern Gaul. Cospatrick's
tomb, lying without the walls of Saint Cuthbert's
Minster, dimmed by the humid atmosphere, em-
bedded in the damp lush turf, and curtained by
the grey sky's canopy, attests the same feeling.
But the practice of rendering a mistaken honour
to mouldering bones and corruption was rapidly
becoming prevalent. Prelates were interred with-
in the walls Sovereigns as frequently. Geoffrey
Plantagenet is deposited in his Cathedral.-
Rollo rests in Rouen Choir, Guillaume Longue-
epee, nigh his father, not so Guillaurne's son.
People might have perhaps already formed
shrewd conjectures concerning the ultimate
destination of that huge monolith, the receptacle
of the weekly dole, standing so strangely athwart


the lichgate ; and now all doubts were solved. 996-1003
Richard's last instructions were that the chest
should contain his corpse, lying where the foot

should tread and the dew should descend, and Sana-pent.
the waters of heaven should fall. He died on
the feast of Saint Maxentia.

13. RICHARD LE-BON came to the Duchy
with a good name, inherited from his popular
father. With him, commences a new era, of
which he was equally the fashioner and the
fashioned, signalized by the thorough assimila-
tion of Normandy to the French community,

Robert reigning in France, Richard perform- Assimilation


ed homage by "Parage," of which more hereafter. and France .

*> commenced




First amongst the lay Peers, his precedency S of t

J J Richard II.,

was never contested, and he welcomed the Kino; or " lc - Bon -"


of France, not simply as a Suzerain, but as an
ally and friend. The influences were operating
which produced a new state of society ; new
constitutional doctrines, new institutions, and
new social feelings, and peculiarly so with respect
to the civil hierarchy. No one who possesses the
distinction of antient descent, a pre-eminence be-
yond the power of man to grant, imparted alone
by the Creator, can forget the inherent prerogative
given by the ancestral blood which flows in his
veins. Yet, hitherto, the Danish conquerors or
their offspring, do not seem to have insisted
stringently or offensively upon the political or
social privileges of nobility. The deck is a
great leveller of distinctions : they are in abey-
ance amidst the howling of the wind and the


996-1003 tossing of the waves : and, to a great extent,
the Danes continued seamen upon the land.
During the twenty years that Eichard le-

Bon ruled Eollo's sovereignty, a new combina-
tion of elements ensued. Henceforward, the
Norman annals abound with those historical
Names, rendered illustrious by the illusions


of time, and the blazonry which imagination
imparts. With few exceptions, the principal
Baronial families of Normandy arose during
this reign. The fading reminiscences of Scan-
dinavia became fainter. And, in the next
generation, those relationships were established
between young Normandy and decrepid Eng-
land, destined to accomplish the renovation of
the latter community, through the accession
of Eichard' s conquering grandson to the Anglo-
Saxon throne.

Apanages of Eichard fully and fairly executed or con-

Richard * J

children?' 8 formed to his father's testamentary dispensations
in favour of his brothers, nay encreased ' their
endowments by his bounty. We find them all
EU. i 11 high estate. Geoffrey acquired the County
of Eu, the Marchland between Ponthieu and
the Rouennois, and the noble Seigueurie of Bri-
onne, which afterwards was reckoned amongst
the strongest fortresses of this northern frontier.

Mauger, much distinguished by his policy
and valour, was invested with the extensive
County of Mortaigne as an inheritance, whilst,
through marriage, he obtained Corbeil.

William, whose course was much chequered,


was in the first instance guerdoned with the 990-1003
opulent territory of Hiesmes ; that lost, he
received another endowment from Richard's

Robert, the clever Archbishop of Rouen, had Robert -


already a good provision : He espoused, accord- count ue o" al
ing to the Danish fashion, for assuredly no
priest would give the benediction, a damsel
named Her leva, by whom he had many chil-
dren. It is not clearly ascertained whether he
obtained the County of Evreux during the life-
time of Richard Sans-peur his father, or whether
his brother, Richard le-Bon, bestowed this en-
dowment, causing him to be styled the Count
Archbishop. A great-grandaughter ultimately
brought this County into the Montfort Family.

Three sons had Archbishop Robert. Rich- son. of the


ard, the eldest, became Count of Evreux, and 1?*?..

Robert Dev-

was enrolled amongst the Conqueror's followers ; ' eux ' Ral ? h

' Gaceorlete-

from him originated the baronial branch of S

Ralph Wace or Grace, the Count Arch-
bishop's second son, colloquially designated
Tete-d'etoupe, or Tete-d'ane, was invested with
the high hereditary dignity of Grand Conuetable,
and became the ancestor of a very powerful
and truculent family.

The third son of the Archbishop was Guil-
laume, the companion of Robert Guiscard,-
whose veritable portrait should display him as
armed with bowie knife and revolver : he is
prominent amongst the Apulian Baronage.



996-1003 Guenora's kindred were much favoured by
open-hearted Richard le-Bon. Richard's uncle,
Herfastus, Guenora's brother, was enriched with
those ample possessions, which, through his son,
established the renowned family of Fitz Osborne.

14. Adelina and Gueva, Richard le-Bon' s
maternal aunts, respectively espoused Osmond
de Bolbec, and Thorold the son of Torf, grandson
of Bernard the Dane ; but the lineage was now
thoroughly Romanized. Thorold became Baron
of Pout-audemer. Employing the Herald's
scientific phraseology, his descendants "gave"
a very clever " canting coat," a bridge, crossing
a conventional similitude of water, which we
must accept as suggesting the sea, over which
same bridge a bold Lion is pacing ; and there is
some other clench about the local name.

These " canting coats," phonographic hiero-
glyphics as they may be called, are excellent
aids to the memory : and the historical student,
bewildered in the labyrinths of genealogy,
might wish that the fancy had been more pre-
valent. - The Beaumonts, Counts of Mellent,
and numerous other illustrious branches started
from this ramification of old Bernard's progeny.
prosperity of Guenora should be pourtrayed in full length

the families

by the side of the branching stem, whence

ne u x ion? '" sprung the best families in noble Normandy.
All the Houses founded by her own progeny, or
her father's progeny, or her mother's progeny.
Brothers and sisters, Brothers-in-law and sis-
ters-in-law; Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law;





Uncles genuine and uncles a la mode de w-ioo3
Bretagne, or as we should say "Welsh uncles ;"
asked and got, and spread themselves over
the lands at the Duke's disposal. Giffords
and Tankervilles, Gourneys and Baskervillcs,
Limesay and Lindsay, Saint Sidoine and Cent-
villes, Warrene and Tillieres, Moubray and Mor-
timer, were branches, or suckers, or seedlings,
who sprung or were raised from the Forest of

Indeed, all the principal Baronial families, 5 iseo ? the

? Baronial

originated, or made themselves, or put them-

1 . .

selves in evidence, during the reign of Richard
le-Bon. Never was any region more peopled
with men of known names, known deeds, known
passions, known crimes, than antient Nor-
mandy. You can hardly meet a man whom
you do not recognize as an acquaintance when
he mentions his name. He needs no other in-
troduction. You are constantly en ptiis de
connoissance, constantly at home, and this
knowledge of the dramatis persons compensates
in a very considerable degree for the scantuess
of information concerning the early Norman
laws and institutions, a scantness contrasting

' O

singularly with the abundance of our English
constitutional knowledge.

15. From Ethelbert's days, Dooms and
Documents, Laws and Land books exist, enabling
us to recognize distinctly the main features of the
English Commonwealth, and the ranks, attributes,
and duties appertaining to the various ranks and


996-ioo3 orders of Anglo-Saxon society. High or low, laic
or cleric, churl or earl, who they were and what
they were, and their relations towards each other,
and towards their Sovereign. The very apices
of our antient laws can be deduced from the old
times, notwithstanding all their mutations and
expansions, whether by positive legislation, or
influential custom. If we ascribe Trial by jury
to Alfred's wisdom, and derive the Constitution
of the Commons from the Witenagemot, we are
fairly correct in our general reasoning, though
we begin by accepting ideal representations and
apocryphal traditions.

Quite otherwise in the antient Terra Norman-
- norum. There we know nothing concerning the
Normandy. ^ aws ^ the ^Kd, the Courts of justice, or the mode
69o?) V( ' of procedure, save an Oriental tradition a
Horror, and a Hurrah. The three legal Le-
gends concerning Kollo, the lawgiver, contain all
the information transmitted relating the primeval
legislation of Normandy. Yet naught have we
seen or heard besides the bracelets glittering in
the sun, suspended from the branches of the trees
on the brink of the Eoumare, and the gallows
forks between which the thievish Churl of Long-
paon and his vicious wife are hung, whilst the
" Clameur de Haro" alone breaks the silence.

The Norman antiquary delves for the re-
cords of his country anterior to the reign of
Philip Augustus, but none are found in the
Tresor des Chartes of Paris, or the Hotel de
Ville at Rouen, whilst the English Custos

dence of


stumbles upon the earliest muniments of the . 996 - 1003 .
Duchy, in the days of Henry-Fitz-Emprcss : the
dusty, musty, cobwebed membranes the Rolls
preserved in the autieut English Treasury of the
Exchequer at Westminster, though recording the
Norman revenue.

Strange and singular indeed is the fact, that, information


save and except some very trivial breathings, we *<*

, ill/- XT Normandy

scarcely possess any knowledge ot Norman juris- untium-r
prudence, until Normandy is lost to the Anglo- ^
Norman line. The proverbially litigious Pro-
vince cannot produce any substantive evidence
of her laws until she becomes a portion of
France, when a popular belief arises that the
elements of her Code have been previously sup-
plied from vanquished England.

The " tres ancienne Coutume de Normandie"
is venerated by the monks of Saint Evroul as
dictated by the Confessor's wisdom. Ask the
Norman archaeologist for the muniments of his
Constitution, and he might proffer, as their foun-
dation, not the Charte Normande of Louis Hu-
tin, but a Norman exemplar of Magna Charta :
an exemplar, mutatis mutandis, word for word
with our own, securing to the Church of Nor-
mandy the liberties of the Church of England, and
adapted to the Rouen meridian, by substituting
the name of Rollo's Capital for London.

At length, in the age of Montesquieu and
Mably, a learned advocate of the Norman Par-
liament, he who rejoices in the noble name
of " Howard," proclaims the recovery of the long



996-1003 lost national legislation in the venerable volumes
which we inherit from Bracton, and Britton, and
Fleta, and Littleton. He dreams that he discovers
the Northman's code in our English standard au-
thorities in the forms of English procedure
in the decisions of English Judges and Jus-
ticiaries, in the relics of the Anglo-Saxon laws,
and in the tenures, purely English, as the forms
and practices were settled and altered by the
English Parliament, or the doctrines matured
by the wisdom of Westminster Hall.

16. The engulfment of all legal memorials,
nay, of all information, during a period com-
paratively so recent as the reigns of the natural
and kindly Norman Dukes, from Eollo to John
Lackland, is an unparalleled historical phe-
nomenon. Yet the history of Normandy offers
a living revelation of her institutions as they

d u ence ru worked in YQStl Norman times. Textually, the laws

reflected in

of e the ndition have disappeared, but we can attain to their
general character by social and moral induction.
The atmosphere refracts the image of the objects
which are below the horizon. The general state
of the Country comes to our aid, and discloses the
constitutional principles employing the term
constitutional in the widest sense which then
were ruling. The Hotel de Yille charter-chest
is empty, but the traditions of the Municipalities
sufficiently declare, that the Roman organization

TheBour- wa s impressed upon these communities, and

geoisie of

g U j ( j e( j their internal government. The existence
of the opulence, which, displayed by the Rouen


Burghers, tantalized Louis cl'Outremer's greedy . 99C ~ 1003 .
soldiery, and teazed them the more when he
denied them the licence of plunder, enables us to
pronounce that the machinery which promoted
such an acquisition of wealth, must have been
wisely planned, and effectually worked. Lastly,
the military strength acquired by the Burghers,
whilst cultivating the industrial arts, affords
full evidence of the freedom they enjoyed. Stout
their grateful hearts, and earnest the affection for
their Fatherland, which strengthened the warriors
who manned the ramparts, when Flanders, France,
and Germany combined against the Norman

Annual Mercantile Fairs were accustomed om n T- r t c J a ' f


in Normandy. Established by usage and utility, B
ere recognised by the law, their origin bespake
a healthy energy. Foreign manufacturers were
welcomed as settlers in the Burghs, the richer
the better. No grudge entertained against the
Fleming ; and the material prosperity of the
country and the briskness of commerce carried
on in all the great towns, proves that the pack
horses could tramp along the old Eoman roads
with facility. Indeed, amongst the Normans,
commercial spirit was indigenous. The Danes
and the folk of Danish blood were diligent
traders. The greed of gain unites readily with
desperate bravery. When occasion served, gal-
lant Drake would deal like a Dutchman. Any
mode of making money enters into facile com-
bination with the bold rapacity of the Flibusteer.

D 2


996-ioo3 17. No direct information has been trans-
mitted concerning the customs regulating the
occupation of the glebe. Yet, pursuing this de-
duction of the unknown from the known, we
may assert that the tenures and usages under
which the successors of the Roman Coloni en-
joyed their lands, were easy and unoppressive.
Well to do, and thriving, were the Norman
peasantry, bearing themselves as freemen in all
which constitutes the Freeman's pride. No other
condition could have created those bold and stal-
wart rustics, sturdy and loyal, who swung their
flails, and flashed their scythe blades, and wielded
their clubs, when they hacked and mashed and
battered the Germans, in the green lanes of
Bihorel and Maromme ; or, joyfully obeying
their Sovereign's call, plunging with him into
the splashing fords of the Dieppe water, and
conducting him triumphantly to his Palace at

of 18. Such was the state of the population
over whom Richard was called to reign. Fair
was the good report inherited by Richard from his
father, and he encreased it. As evidence of cha-
racter royal epithets do not stand for much, but if
" Sans-peur" sounds heroic, " le-Bon" is sweeter.
He suited his people, and pleased their taste.
A merry Duke ; a liberal Duke ; and who did not
in any wise make himself a disagreeable example.
Vive Henri quatre ! Vive ce rot galant ! The
darling hero of France won his subjects' good-will
quite as much by his failings as by his bravery ;

not neces-


and between him, and the Norman Dukes gene- 990-1003
rally, there was much in common. In one re-
spect, however, Richard le-Bon departed widely
from the doctrines by which his ancestors had
been guided. Hitherto, whilst the principles of
aristocracy were accepted as the foundation of ''"""'
politic society, yet, in no part of Western Chris-
tendom, had these principles degenerated into
any invidious distinctions between free-man and
free-man, more worrying and teasing than ab-
solute tyranny. All were " Jwf-fiehig 9 " thank
you Vienna, thank yon Berlin, for the term,
no English tongue could have compounded it !

Nobility did not yet constitute a closed
Caste, requiring to be bred in and in : and the
determined repudiation of such a doctrine, has
been the most influential amongst the moral causes
of British prosperity. That the father should
ennoble, and the mother enfranchise, is an intel-
ligible dogma, not involving any degradation.
Assuredly, low birth and coarse manners might
combine to render a favourite unpopular, as in
Hagano's case : and when can such favouritism
be otherwise? Yet, the necessity of absolute
purity of blood an aristocracy of the aristocracy
was not admitted as a normal principle in Nor-
mandy. No one had been excluded from the
Ducal presence or from the Ducal favour by the
absence of this qualification, nor can we trace any
approximation to its existence, until this period,
when the landscape begins to be rendered gay
by the bursting blossoms of chivalry.


19. Kichard le-Bon, however, departing
fromancestorial precedents, would admit none but
BJ> c n h fa r you e rs pure Gentlemen into the Court circle. No office
of Heraldic 6 was to be enioved otherwise than by a Gentleman.

gentility. J

About the Duke's person, none but gentlemen
must figure ; not some gentlemen, but none other
than gentlemen. A gentleman, the Chaplain who
mumbles the early morning mass ; a gentleman,
the clerk, who drives the pen in the Chancery ;
a gentleman, the High Seneschal, who bears the
first dish ; a gentleman, the chief Butler, who
fills the Duke's mazer ; a gentleman, the Mar-
shal, who rules kennel and stable ; a gentleman
the Chamberlain, who stands by the Duke's
bed-side ; and a gentleman, the Usher, who
holds the latch of the door, and kicks away every
intruder. Every member of the Household was
fed and clad by the Duke, drawing his rations,
receiving his robes. And, at every great Feast,
the garments (the " Livery," par excellence] were
delivered out; their materials of the best quality.
The workings of this ungracious principle
were neutralized amongst the higher and more
substantial ranks, by the general institutions
of the country. The Clergy possessed an inde-
feasible position ; nor had the rights of Christian
equality been affronted by that miserable jea-
lousy which became embodied in the heraldic
doctrine of the " sixteen quarters ;" the absence
of which condition incapacitated Louis Quatorze
from becoming a Canon of Strasbourg, by


reason of the defilement bis blood had received . 90G ~ 1003 .
through his plebeian grandmother, Marie de
Medicis, and her mercantile ancestry.

The Bourgeois had a pride of his own, which **"";." ,,i

enabled him to snub the Courtier's monrue. He lalls i- "-

liarly oppres-

clapped his hands upon his well filled pouch, S'nu'y! 1 "
and was clad with the importance appertaining
to the member of a powerful community ; but
the bad feelings generated by this exclusiveness
operated with unmitigated potency upon the
tillers of the land.

20. At this era, the larger portion of
the Terra Normannormn may be mapped as Bush
and Back-wood; so wide and broad were the
Forests which covered the face of the country.
Forest-land either under your feet, or included
within your horizon : though you would not
always recognize it as such, according to the
conversational notions conveyed by the familiar
term of Forest-land,

Amongst the infinite varieties of word- Forest-


delusion, rendering speech so often the means
of confusing our ideas, perhaps there is none
more extensive, or detrimental to clearness of
conception than when the connotation of
thought, denoted by a written word, remaining
unaltered, is either contracted or expanded
through usage, so as no longer to fit the original
meaning. Such is the term " Forest : " -a Forest,
during the mediaeval era implied, not simply
wood-land, but marsh and moor, and rough land


996-1003 and heath, excluded from the speeding of the

Forests and ^oY the most part, the Norman Forests were

f Ol'GSt IHW. J-

Ducal domains. Previously to the Danish set-
tlement, the forests were probably communal
lands ; the Roman legislation having combined
with the agricultural systems of the Gauls.

But, even amongst the heathens, no attempt
had ever yet been made to restrain the enjoy-
ment of the gifts of God, which no human law
can really invest with the attributes of indi-
Limitation of visual property. Rights must be denned by

the rights of >

vSSSSF law, yet all human legislation should be con-
sonant to the great truth, that the Earth, and
the fulness of the Earth, is the Lord's. Man is
never otherwise than an accountable usufruc-
tuary. In this high sense, no human being
whatever has a right to do what he will with his

Game laws. own. And, whenever human laws are such as to
provoke our fellow creatures to sin, that sin lies
at the Legislator's door.

Hard indeed is it to establish the proposi-
tion that the wild Deer, which flees from the
face of man, can be any man's property, like the
Ox who knows his master's crib. Or that the
possessors of the soil can exclusively demand as
theirs, the fowls of the air, who are fed by their
and our Father ; or the fishes in the teeming
stream, the creatures who never hear man's voice,
who dwell in an element where man cannot dwell,
and are yet bestowed by Providence for the
sustenance of mankind. But the claims of


property had recently become more stringent, 990-1003
more encroaching* upon man's natural rights ;
the water ways were closed, the vert and venison
appropriated, pecuniary impositions exacted, and
unprecedented services imposed.

From Rollo downwards, to the reign of
Richard le-Bon, the Forests seem to have been
principally crown lands. Latterly, the numerous
apanages, newly created, and the copious grants
made to the great families who were winning
the Sovereign's favour, multiplied the number
of Landlords, and brought them into closer
contact with the peasantry. Tolls and dues and 6 ( S? e 7 ns

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 41)