M. (Paul) Rapin de Thoyras.

The history of England : written in French (Volume 1) online

. (page 75 of 360)
Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 75 of 360)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


land, his youngeft Son Henry took care of his Funeral. Mdlm,b -
The Corps was but meanly attended for fo great a Prince,
his principal Officers having abandoned him before he
expired, fome to make their Court to Robert, others to
William (15). An extraordinary Adventure rendered the o r i. Vital.
Funeral of this Monarch very remarkable. Juft as they "*■ ?'"*■
were going to lay him in his Grave, [Anfelm Fitz- Arthur] {^S*""
a Norman Gentleman, ftands up and forbids the Burial in
that Place, claiming the Ground as his Inheritance, and
alledging, the deceafed had built the Church upon it,
without paying him for it. Whereupon, they Were forced
to flop, according to the Laws of the Country, in order
to examine this Pretenlion ; which proving well ground-
ed, Henry was obliged to make the Gentleman Satisfac-
tion ( 1 6), and then the Corps was interred ( 1 7).

Thus lived and died William I. firnamed the Eajlard Retails en
and Conqueror, if this laft Title may bejuftly afcribed to 'i' *"■"""*
him, which all Hiftorians are not agreed in. They that """

maintain this Title perfectly fuits with him, ground their
Opinion upon his having no Right to the Crown, and
the Severity of his Government, which was all along
Arbitrary. Others affirm, his Election entirely cancelled
his Right of Conqueft. This uncertainty gives occafion to
compare him to the Emperor Auguflus, of whom it is faid,
that he came to the Empire neither by Conqueft nor Ufur-
pation, nor Inheritance, nor Election, but by a ftrange
mixture of thefe Rights. However this be, or in what
manner foever King William may be accufed or juftified
upon this head, he kept Poffeffion of the Throne, by fuch
Politick Methods as are practifed by the molt able Princes,
but which are feldom conlbnant to the Maxims of Juftice
and Equity.

This Prince's Character is varioufly drawn by the Hi- CbaraBer ,f
ftorians, according to the different Faces, under which William the
they were pleafed to view him. Some confidering him S^JUJJ"'
only as a Conqueror of a great Kingdom, extoll him to the Sax. Am,
skies for his Valour and Prudence, and (lightly pafs over
the reft of his Actions. Others confidering the fame Con-
queft as a real Ufurpation, and reflecting chiefly on the
Means he made ufe of to preferve it, fcruple not to re-
prefent him as a real Tyrant. It is certain, they may be
all in the right, fince there was in this Monarch a great
mixture of good and bad Qualities. He was reckoned
one of the wifeft Princes of his time. Ever vigilant and
active, he fhewed as great Refolution in executing, as
Boldnefs in forming his Defigns. He faw Danger at a
diftance, and generally endeavoured to prevent it. But
when that could not be done, no Man faced it with
greater Intrepidity. On the other hand, his extreme
covetous Temper, and Partiality to his Countrymen, led
him to the commiffion of many things, which can hardly
be juftified.



(1) He wuuld have been, long before, revenged of the Ring of France, for afiifting his Son Robert, zni exciting him to frequent Revolts ; if he had not been
afraid of a Civil War in Normandy, which might have been attended with another in England; both which would have found him mure Work than he Could
well have diipatched. But at lair, in the Year 1087, they came to Blows. Robert was the occafion of it j for he revolted again, and retired to the King d!
France', who turnillied him with Troops, wherewith he ravaged Normandy. W. Gemeticen. 1. 7. c. 43. P. Daniel, Vol. 111. p. 115.

(2) Swearing by the RefurrcBim and Splendor of God, his ulual Oath. Malmjb. p. 112.

< 3) Alluding to the Cuflom of lying-in Women in thole Days, who were wont to offer lighted Candles at their Churching.
(4.) In Auguji. Malmjb. p. 112. Sax. Ann.

(5) The Engiijb Hiftorians fay two Nuns. Hunlingd. p. 370. Sax. Ann. S. Dunelm. Ice..

(6) And Rtger and Simard, firnamed Barn. S. Dunelm. p. 213.

(7) Particularly of his Brother Riba t Earl of Mortaigne. Ord Vitalis.

(S) And which is extant in Order, Vitalis, as alio among Camdeni Anglica, Normannlea, tee.

(9) Malm/bury fays, that he did it much againft his Will, invitus & aacJus Malmjb. p. 112. M. Wejim. See Ord. Vitalis.

(10) Vitalis lays, he left him only 5000 Marks in Money.

(11) He had his Mother's Poficmons, •ana the County of Maine, and Money and Jewels which amounted to a very great Sum. Br:mpt. p. oS;. Ingvlpb.
p. 94. Malmjb. p. 112. M. li'eflm.

(12) He left part of his Treafure to fome poor Englifi, and to feveral Churches and Monasteries in England. Prompt, p. 9S0.

(13) Epiftolam de conftituendo Rcge kcit. Ord. Vital.

(14.) He reigned twenty Years ten Months, and twenty fix Days, reckoning from the Battle uf Hajlings. R. de Dierto, p. 48S. M. IVJIm.
(15J And the inferior Officers fell a plundering whatever ftood in their way, fo that the King's Corple was left almoft naked. Ord. Vitalis.

(16) He paid himlixty Shillings for the Place where the Crave was, and promiled to lee him farther latisfied for the reft of theCtound. Ord. Vitalis. Malmfb.
p. 133. and M. Paris, p. 11. fay, he paid him a hundred Pounds of Silver.

(17) William Rufus caufed a mod ftatcly Monument to be erected for his Father, before the High- Altar of St. Stephen's Monaftery, which was adorned with
Gold, Silver, and precious Stones. This Irately Monument ftood till the Year 1562, and then CbaJlilLn taking the City of Caen, certain Soldiers opening it.
and not rinding the Treafure they expected, broke it to pieces, and threw about Williams. Bones ; fome whereof were afterwards brotlght int'"- E-glard. Buc
the Monks in the Year 1642, in the Place thereof caufed a ulain Altai-Tomb to be built. See the Figure of it in Satnlfrd, p. -,

1 In



Book

1087.



VI.



i. WILLIAM the Conaueror 1 .



Sax. Ann.
Malm lb.



In his voungcr years, he was handfome and well pro-
portioned. He had rather a Hern and majeltick, than a
mild and taking countenance ; however, he could foffie-
times put on fuch fweetnefs and gentlcnefs in his looks, as
were hardly to be refitted. We may guefs his great
ftrcngth and vigour from Hiltorians alluring us, none but
himlelf could bend his Bow. The fame Hiltorians are
very much divided concerning his chaftity. Some fay,
he was very much addicted to Women in his youth :
Others tell us, his little inclination that way, gave occa-
sion to call his manhood in queftion. Some affirm, after
he was married, he never gave his Queen caufe to be jea-
lous. Others allure us, he kept for his miftrefs a Clergy-
man's daughter, whom Matilda ordered to be ham-ftring-
ed. Be this as it will, after he was on the throne of
England, Hunting was obferved to be his fole diverfion.
His houfhold was perfectly well regulated ; but his expell-
ees were not anl'werable to his greatnefs and riches. Ne-
verthelefs, upon folemn occafions, he loved magnificence,
and took a pleafure in appearing in all his grandeur. Sel-
dom did he fail of being crowned every year (1), at the
three great feafts of Chrijhnas, E after, and lVhitfuntide,
which he generally fpent at Gloucejler, Winchejter, and
JVeJiniinJhr. During thefe feftivals he kept a fplendid
court, was much more eafy of accefs and liberal of his fa-
vours. The great Men of the kingdom (2) were ufually
about him whillt thefe folemnities lafted ; but one can
hardly believe it was in order to hold a JVittcna-Gcmot or
Parliament, as fome do pretend (3). And indeed, there
is no likelihood, that after depriving the Englijh of their
eftates, he fhould leave them in poileffion of the greateft
of their privileges. It is (till lefs probable he would trans-
fer this right to foreigners, fince he was at liberty to grant
them the Englijh eftates on what terms he plealed. Now
it is certain, his temper was fuch, that he would never
voluntarily render himlelf dependant on his own Subjects.
However this be, if the Saxon IVittcna-Gemot fubfifted in
his reign, it may at lealt be affirmed, its authority was
very limited, and its nature very different from what it
had been.

There are Hiltorians who greatly commend this Prince's
clemency, on account of his being very often Satisfied
with punching the Englijh rebels, by the confifcation of



l8t



i637



their eftates. It cannot be denied, vvl.at they fay is true,
with regard to perfons of the firlt rank. Indeed, except
Earl It '■ alth'Jf', who was public kly beheaded, and Egelvuin
Bifhop of Durham) who was ftarved in prifon, We don'r
find any of the principal Englijh Lords put to death in
this reign. But his clemency with refpe<3 to perfons of a ^ x ' Aafl<
lower rank cannot be juftly exfetju!. It is certain lie pu-
nifhed great numbers with deatl«Jkit out the eyes or cut
off the hands of many others, and* 'condemned multitudes
to perpetual imprifonment for very (light crimes. All the
Hiltorians unanimoufly upbraid him with the death of
Earl Walthoff, as an action the moft heinous; fincc he
beheaded him for what he had already pardoned. But this
feverity was in (bme meafure balanced by his moderation
to Prince Edgar, who had furnifhed him with Sufficient
pretences to facrifice him to his jealoufy. Perhaps, the
little merit of this Prince was the Sole motive of this mo-
deration ; Since the King never confidered him as a very
formidable rival. However, I think he ought to be prai-
fed for his clemency in this refpect, Since the motive is
unknown. How little formidable loever Edgar might be,
with regard to his perfonal qualities, he can't be denied to
be fo on account of his birth. He was the only furviving
Prince of the royal family of the Saxons, and as he lervcd
for a cloak to feveTal infurrechons, the King could not be
entirely allured of him.

King William had by Matilda, daughter to the Earl of^" W"'
Flanders, four Sons and five Daughters. Robert was Duke
of Normandy. Richard was killed by a Stag in the new M
Foreft, or, as others fay, by a diitemper caught in hunt-
ing, of which he died in his Father's life-time (4). Wil-
liam mounted the throne of England, and was lucceeded
by Henry his Brother. Cicely his elded daughter was Ab-
befs of the Holy-Trinity at Caen. Con/lance was married
to Alan Feigeant Duke of Brelagne. Adela was wife to
Stephen Earl of Blois, and by him had a Son of the lame
name, whom we Shall fee King of England. Adeliza,
promifed to Harold, died young (j). Alphonjo King of
Gallicia married the fifth, whole name was Agatha (6).
She is faid to remain a Virgin after marriage, and, being
entirely devoted to the fervice of God, fpent her da) s in
die conftant exercife of Prayer (7).

2. WILLIAM



(1) He wore his Crown; that is, kept his Court, or Great Councils then.

(2) The great Men of the whole Kingdom, namely, the Archbifhops, Bifliops, Abbots, Earls, Thanet, and Knights. Sax. jinn. Malmjb. p. 112,
Knighton, p. 2354.

(3) And yet this is what Brady , who was no great Friend to thofe Aflcmblics, thinks fit to own. The Conqueror, Cys he, commonly kept
the Eajler at W 'i itchier, &c. as above, p. 178. Note (6), at which time were pre lent in Court, all the temporal Nobility, Bifhops, ALl-oti, ciY.
through all England- So that at thole Festivals he could call a Great Council, or Syncd, at a Day's warning, and at thole times were commonly
held the Great Councils for all publick Affair*. Brady, Vol- II. p. 214. Note (o). The lame is alio confirmed by the late learned Mi- Madox.
At his Court, and more especially at fome folemn times in the year, the King held his Great Councils, and ordinarily tranfadtcd fuch Affairs ac
were of grext Importance, or required Pomp and Solemnity, according to the CuStom ot the Times. Sec p. 178. Note (6). The Baronage at-
tending on his royal Perfon made a confidence part of his Court. They were his Homagers; they held their Baronies of him ; he was their
Sovereign or chief Lord, and they were his Men, as to Life, Limb, and earthly Honour. With them the King consulted in weighty Affairs,

and did many folemn A£ts in their prcfence, and with their concurrence. Madox, Hifi. of the Exchequer, p. 2. 6. The Places at which King

William is recording to have held his Court, are as follow: In the year 1069, at York. (Ord. VifalaJ) In 1072, at Winchejter, at Eafler • ani
the Wbitfuntidc following at Windfor. In 1074, at Wefimnfter. [S. Dur.clm. p. 209.) In 1084, at Chnjlmas, he held it (de more) at Gloucejler.
In 1085, at ii'inchejler at Eafler ; at Wbitjuntide at London. {Hunttngd. p. 370.) And at Chrijlmas {de more) at Glouccfier, for five days, where
he was attended by 'his great Men ; and the Clergy afterwards held a Synod for three days. [Sax. Ann. Brompt. p. 979.) In 1086, at Wwcbe-
Jler at Eafler ; and at Whitsuntide at Wefiminfter. {Sax, Ann.) See Madox'k Htft. oj Excbeq. p. 5,6.

(4) W. Malmjb. p. ur, fays, he was a very promifing Youth. He was buried on the South-fide of the Choir of the Cathedral Church of
Winchcfler. His Epitaph is, Hie jacet Ricardus Willi. Senioris Regis Fill. c5" Bcom. Dux. i. e. Duke o£ Bcrnay m Normandy. See the Figure cf
bis Tomb in Saiulford, p. 8.

(5) Rapin, milled by Baker, or other modern Authors, calls her Margaret, reckoning her the ninth, whereas fhe was the third daughter. Sec
W. Gemiticen. p. 685, and Sandford, p. jo.

(6) Agatha, falfely called by Rapin, Eleanor, was the fixth daughter. She was affianced to Alphonfo, but died in her Journey to Spain. Her
Body being brought back into her native Country, was buried at Baycux. Sandford, p. 12. The fifth was Gundred Countefs of Surrey, married-
to William Warren, made Earl of Surrey by King William Rvfus. She died in Childbed at Cafile- Acre in Norfolk. io8f.

(7) I. The Jufliciarii Regis, during the Reign of William I. were; 1. Odo Bifhop of Bay tux % 2. William FttZ'OJbern. 3. Goisfrid Bifhop of
Coutance. Madox's Hifi. Excbeq. p. 743.

II. The moft remarkable Occurrences not mentioned by Mr. Rapin, arc thefe : 1. King William brought the Jctvs from Roan to inhabit in
England. Stow^sCbren. p. 103. 2. In his Reign, or much about that time, Simames came firft to be ufed. 3. 'Tnal by Battail was introduced
into this Kingdom. 4. The Normans brought in a new way of creating Knights ; and alio the Ufe of Seals and Witvejjes in all D^eds and In-
struments. Before that time, or at leaft before the Reign of Ediuard the ConfeJJcr, the Perfons concerned, only fet down their Names, with a

Crofs before them. Ingulpb. p. 70, 71. Laftly, the Normans brought in the mocking Vice of common Swearing. In the Year 1076, there was

an Earthquake in England ; and a Froft from the beginning of November, 'till the middle ot April. In 1077. Aug. 14. there was a very great
Fire in London. Sax. Ann. And again in 10S7, the greateft part of that City was burnt down (with St. Paul's Cathedral;) as were alio moil
of the chief Towns in England. Sax. Ann. Brompt. p, 982. .6'. Dunelm. p. 213.




*If.Z.



III. As the Tranflator Intends to give a Short account of the Coin in every Reign, he begins with obferving, That, probably, the Britons never coined 2l\f
Money, but in Cafars time ufed only Iron Rings and fhapelefs pieces ot Brafs, and that even their Tribute-Money afterwards was the ordinary current Coin
brought in or minted here by the Romans, as long as this llland continued a Province. For among the many thoufand Roman Coins, there was never one
undoubted Britijh Coin yet produced; thofe of Cunobelth be liable to unanfwerable Objections- After the Saxcns were fettled in Englard, their Silv-r
Coins were generally all of a fize and ill-minted, which they called Pennies, worth about Three-pence of our Money. They had alio Half- Pennies and
Farthings, (as appears from the Saxon GofpelsJ and Half-farthings, called Sticks. Of which kind Bifhop Nkoljoh takes thofe Brafs Pieces to be that
were found fome Years fince at Rippon in 7'orkjhire, and communicated by Sir Ediuard Blacket the Owner to Several curious Antiquaries. After the
Norman Conquefl, a Pound of Gold being divided into twenty-four Carats, {or half Ounces) and every Carat into four Grains, the old Sterling, (as it was
afterwards called) or Right Standard of Gold, confined of twenty-three Carats, and three Grains and a half of fine Gold, and half a Grain of Aliay of
Copper or Silver. Again; a Pound of Silver being divided into twelve Ounces, and every Ounce into twenty Penny-weights, and every Penny- weight
into twenty-four Grains, a Pound weight of Old Staling confifted then (as it does now) of eleven Ounces two Penny' weights of fine Silver, and eighteen
Penny-weights of Allay. The firft eight Kings after the Ccnqueft continued to coin Money much like their Scxor. PredecefTors, (-nlya little lighter; for Ot
the Saxon Pennies there are Some at this day that weigh more than a Penny-weight, whereas few of thofe of the Nurman Kings reach twenty- two Grain*
'till Ediuard I, when the Englijh Pennies were to weigh a Penny-weight. The Normans alfo continued the like Method with the Saxtns as to InfcnptioM,
having round the King's Head his Name and Stile; which was very Snort, only REX or REX ANCL. and on the ReverSe, the Name of the M.n:-

N* X. Vol. I, %% Mafl»



S2



77:e HISTORY of ENGLAND,



Vol t.



2. WILLIAMW. Sir named Rufus.



Willi .m

II.

1087.



Brempt.



Sax. Aniu
Huntingd.

Ingulph.



Eldmer.
Daniel.
M. Weft.



Brompt.



WHILST the Conqueror was taken Up in Nor-
mandy with the thoughts of dying, WilliamMs
Son was concerting in England all neccflary
meafures to fecure the crown, purfuant to his Father's in-
tent! -n. Difpatch was fo much the more neceliary on
this occafion, as he had reafon to fear, in cafe his Bro-
ther Robert could come in time, he would gain the people
to his fide. His bufinefs therefore was to fecure, before-
hand, the Normans to his intereft, who being poffefTed of
all the Fiefs and Places in the kingdom, were properly
to difpofe of the future eledion. However, the Englijh
were by no means to be neglefted, left joining to Rolen's
friends, they might turn the Scale to his fide. Mean
while, young William was beloved by neither. The
Eliglifh thought him too like the King his father, and the
Norman;, wlio knew him ftill better, dreaded his rough
temper. On the other hand, Robert had birthright to
plead in his favour ; whereas William could fupport his
pretenfions only by his Father's bare defire of ^having him
for lucceflbr. But this bare indication of his Will, with-
out an exprefs nomination, was very infufficient. Nay,
in all likelihood it would never have produced the effect,
the dvinsr King promifed himfelf, if, before the news of

his death reached England, care had not been taken to However, in the beginning of
difpofe Men to a compliance. It was with this view, he
fent over his Son with all fpeed (1), to endeavour, with



S. Dunelm
Hoved.



William
criywned.
Eadmer.
Ord. Vital,



crown'd the 27th of September, eighteen days after his jog/,
father's death (+).

This Prince, firnamed Rufus from being red-haired (5 ), Hh Cbarac
was thirty years of age when he afcended the throne. '"
Probably, he was indebted for his good fortune to Robert's
difobliging the King his father, who never forgave his re-
volt. And indeed, the younger had nothing to give him
the preference to the elder. The only good quality re-
markable in him, was his great courage, which however
was hardly to be diftinguifhed from a brutifh fiercenefs.
He was of a very ill difpofition, which being never cor-
rected by education, frequently led him to adtions unwor-
thy of a Prince. Bred up to arms from his youth, and
at a court, where he continually beheld inffances of feve-
rity and abfolute power, he became a perfect Brute in his
behaviour and manners. To thefe ill qualities he joined a
great indifferency for religion, and his whole conduct
ihewed him to be regardlels of honour or honefty. He
was as greedy of money as his father, but with this diffe-
rence, the Father heaped up money purely for the fake of
hoarding, and very unwillingly parted with it ; whereas
the Son loved it only to fquander it away in vain expell-
ees, wherein he was guided more by caprice than reafon.






Lanfrane, and fome other Lords, to accomplifh this pro-
ject. Elide High-Treafurer (2), and Lanfrane Archbi-
fhop of Canterbury were very ferviceable to young William
on this occafion. The firft had fecured Dover, h'incbejier,
Peven/cy, Ha/lings, and other places un the South-coaft.
Moreover, he delivered to him the late King's treafures,
which amounted to fixty thoufand pounds in money, be-
fides plate and jewels of a much greater value. Lanfrane,
who was eiteemed and beloved as well by the EngUJh as
Normans, ufed ail his credit in his favour. His pains were
crowned with fo good fuccefs, that in a little time he
drew to his party die leading Lords of both Nations. To
thefe were added other means, which helped to incline
people to William's fide. It was rumour'd among the
Englijh, that this Prince had made a firm refolution to go-
vern in a very different manner from the King his father;
that he would hearken to their juft complaints, and abo-
jifh the too rigorous laws enacted fince the revolution,
particularly the laws relating to the Game. In ihort, it
was promifed in his name, that they mould be reftored to
a part of their eftates, and to their ancient privileges. On
the other hand, the Normans were told, the belt way to
preferve their poffcffions, was to confirm the Conqueror's
choice; that the young Prince, being placed on the
throne, would be led by his own intereft to fupport
them, fince his and their rights would ftand on the fame
foundation, namely, the Will of the late King. Robeit,
beino- abfent, had but few friends to fpeak for him. As
it was uncertain how he would behave after his return,
thofe that would have been inclined to favour him, did
not dare to declare for him openly. They forefaw the ill
confequences of fuch a proceeding, in cafe he fhould not
think fit to fupport them. Befides, this party had no head.
William had taken care to keep Ulnoth and Morear in
prifon (3), notwithftanding his Father's orders to the con-
trary, for fear they fhould head the Englijh, whom he did
not take for his friends. All thefe Circumftances well
managed by Lanfrane and other adherents to Prince Wil-
liam, concurring to pave his way to the throne, he was



tereft to hide his inclinations for fear of alarming his fub-
je£ts, he put on a mask for fome time. It was even ob-
ferved with pleafure, that he affected to be guided by the
counfels of Lanfrane, who was univerfally eiteemed and
beloved. It was chiefly the refpect he at firft paid this 3 Dunelm.
wife Councilor, that filled the Enghjh with hopes of a Hoved.
happy change in their fortune, and prevented them from
giving ear to the follicitations of thole that would have en-
gaged them in Robert's caufe.

But whilft the confidence he placed in this Prelate 1088.
was ferviceable to him, with regard to the Englijh, it occa- Confpiracy
fioned fuch troubles from another quarter, as fiiook him "Z"'"] 1 Wil-
in his throne. Odo his Uncle, Bifhop of Bayeux, who Mahnfc.
was lately releafed out of prifon, could not bear to fee Hoved.
Lanfrane in fo great favour (6). He had harboured a s - Dunel ' n '
fecret animofity againft the Archbifhop, ever fince his M r a ' ti p* ri ' Sl
advifing the King to ieize him, as he was imbarking for
Rome. This private enmity, joined to a defire of ruling
again as he had done formerly, threw him upon the project
of dethroning the King, and fetting the crown on the
head of Robert, who was lately returned to Normandy. He
did not want a pretence to countenance his enterpri/e.
Robert's birthright furnifned him with a very plaufihle
one. As foon as he had taken this refolution, he drew
into his Plot fome of the principal Norman Lords. It was
ncceffary to begin with them, fince, without their aid,
the Englijh were able to do nothing. Thefe Normans be-
ing gained with many others, by their means, it was not
very difficult to perfuade the E/igliJh to join with them.
As the greateft part were difpoficfled of their eftates,
they expected fome relief from the troubles that 'were
going to be raifed in the kingdom, by the diilention be-
tween the two Brothers. In order to confirm both Eng-
lijh and Normans in their late refolution, Odo reprefented
to them, there was no living happily under the govern-
ment of a capricious and brutifh Prince, without religion
or honeffy : That they had reafon to dread the worft,
if they gave him time to eftablifh himfelf in the throne,
and therefore, fhould they delay to take proper meafures to
fcreen themfelves from the impending Evils, it would per-



Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 75 of 360)