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Title: Sketches of Travel in Normandy and Maine
Author: Freeman, Edward Augustus, 1823-1892
Language: English
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by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at
http://gallica.bnf.fr)



  SKETCHES OF TRAVEL

  IN

  NORMANDY AND MAINE


  [Illustration: Decoration]

  [Illustration: St. Stephens, Caen, E.

  _Frontispiece_]



  SKETCHES OF TRAVEL

  IN

  NORMANDY AND MAINE


  BY

  EDWARD A. FREEMAN

  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR


  AND A PREFACE BY

  W.H. HUTTON, B.D.

  FELLOW AND TUTOR OF S. JOHN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD


  London

  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

  NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

  1897

  _All rights reserved_

  RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED,
  LONDON AND BUNGAY.



EDITOR'S NOTE


The first eight and the last four of these sketches appeared in the
_Saturday Review_, the others in the _Guardian_. They are here reprinted
with a few omissions, but with no other alteration. The permission
courteously given to reproduce them is gratefully acknowledged.

  FLORENCE FREEMAN.



PREFACE


"Beyond doubt the finished historian must be a traveller: he must see
with his own eyes the true look of a wide land; he must see, too, with
his eyes the very spots where great events happened; he must mark the
lie of a city, and take in, as far as a non-technical eye can, all that
is special about a battle-field."

So wrote Mr. Freeman in his _Methods of Historical Study_,[1] and he
possessed to the full the instincts of the traveller as well as of the
historian. His studies and sketches of travels, already published, have
shown him a wanderer in many lands and a keen observer of many peoples
and their cities. He travelled always as a student of history and of
architecture, and probably no man has ever so happily combined the
knowledge of both. Though his thoughts were always set upon principles
and upon the study of great subjects, he delighted in the details of
local history and local building. "I cannot conceive," he wrote, "how
either the study of the general sequence of architectural styles or the
study of the history of particular buildings can be unworthy of the
attention of any man. Besides their deep interest in themselves, such
studies are really no small part of history. The way in which any people
built, the form taken by their houses, their temples, their fortresses,
their public buildings, is a part of their national life fully on a
level with their language and their political institutions. And the
buildings speak to us of the times to which they belong in a more living
and, as it were, personal way than monuments or documents of almost any
other kind."[2]

And no less clearly and decisively did he write of the value of local
history: "There is no district, no town, no parish, whose history is not
worth working out in detail, if only it be borne in mind that the local
work is a contribution to a greater work."[3]

Thus the keenness of his interest in the architecture and the history
that could be studied and learnt in every little town made him to the
last the most untiring and enthusiastic of historical pilgrims. It is
impossible to read his letters, so fresh and natural yet so full of a
rare knowledge and insight, without seeing how thoroughly he had
succeeded in achieving in himself that union of the traveller and the
historian which adds so immeasurably to the powers of each. And that is
what makes his letters from foreign lands so delightful to read, and his
sketches (published and republished from time to time during the last
thirty years) so illuminative. No one, I think, who has seen the places
he writes of in his _Historical and Architectural Sketches_ or in his
_Sketches from French Travel_, with the books in his hand, will deny
that they have added tenfold to his pleasure. Mr. Freeman tells you what
to see and how to see it,--just what you want to know and what you ought
to know. It would be an impertinence in me to point out the breadth or
the accuracy of his knowledge as it appears in these sketches, which can
be read again and again with new pleasure. But I think it may be said
without exaggeration that in all the great work that Mr. Freeman did he
did nothing better than this. He never "writes down" to his readers: he
expects to find in them something of his own interest in the buildings
and their makers; and he supplies the knowledge which only the traveller
who is also a historian has at hand.

The volume that is now published contains sketches written at different
times from 1861 to 1891. It will be seen that they all bear more or less
directly on the great central work of the historian's life, the history
of the Norman Conquest. In his travels he went always to learn, and when
he had learned he could not help teaching. The course of each of these
journeys can be traced in his own letters as published in the _Life_. In
1856 he made his first foreign excursion--to Aquitaine--and after 1860 a
foreign tour was "almost an annual event."[4] In 1861 he paid his first
visit to Normandy, with the best of all companions. In 1867 he went
again, specially for the sake of the "Norman Conquest," with Mr. J.R.
Green and Mr. Sidney Owen; and in the next year he was in Maine with Mr.
Green. In 1875 he was again in Normandy, for a short time, on his way to
Dalmatia. In 1876 he went to Maine also to "look up the places belonging
to"[5] William Rufus, and again in 1879 with Mr. J.T. Fowler and Mr.
James Parker. In 1891 he paid his last visit to the lands which he had
come to know so well. He was then thinking of writing on Henry I., a
work of which he lived to write but little. In this last Norman journey
the articles, published in _The Guardian_ after his death, were written.
His method on each of these expeditions seems to have been the same.
Before he started he read something of the special history of the places
he was to visit. He always, if possible, procured a local historian's
book. He wrote his articles while he was still away. "To many of these
Norman places," says his daughter who has prepared this volume for the
press, "he went several times, and he never wearied of seeing them again
himself or of showing them to others.... In the last Norman journey of
1891 how one feels he was at home there, re-treading the ground so
carefully worked out for the Norman Conquest and William Rufus--the same
enthusiasm with which, often under difficulties of weather or of health,
he 'stepped out' all he could of Sicily."

Not only did he walk, and read, and write, while he was abroad, he drew:
and from the hundreds of characteristic sketches which he has left it
had been easy to select many more than those which now illustrate this
volume. Still, from those that have been reproduced, with the
descriptive studies just as they were written, the reader is in a
position to see the Norman and Cenomannian sites as they were seen by
the great historian himself. More remains from his hand, sketches of
Southern Gaul, of Sicily, Africa, and Spain, which I hope may be
republished; but the present volume has a unity of its own.

I have said thus much because it was the request of those who loved him
best that I should say something here by way of preface, though I have
no claim, historical or personal, that my name should in any way be
linked with his. But the last of his many acts of kindness to me was the
gift of his _Sketches from French Travel_, which had been recently
published in the Tauchnitz edition. And as one of those who have used
his travel-sketches with continued delight, who welcomed him to Oxford
in 1884, and whose privilege it was to attend many of the lectures which
he delivered as Professor, I speak, if without any claim, yet very
gratefully and sincerely. And since his lectures illustrate so well the
work which made his sketches so admirable, I may be suffered to say a
word from my memory of them and of himself.

In his lectures on the text of mediæval historians he did a service to
young students of history which was, in its way, unique. He showed them
a great historian at work. In his comparison of authorities, in his
references to and fro, in his appeal to every source of illustration,
from fable to architecture, from poetry to charters, he made us familiar
not only with his results, but with his methods of working. It was a
priceless experience. Year after year he continued these lectures,
informal, chatty, but always vigorous and direct, eager to give help,
and keen to receive assistance even from the humblest of his hearers,
choosing his subjects sometimes in connection with the historical work
on which he happened to be engaged, sometimes in more definite relation
to the subjects of the Modern History school. In this way he went
through Gregory of Tours, Paul the Deacon--I speak only of those courses
at which I was myself able to be present--and, in the last year of his
life, the historians of the Saxon Emperors, 936-1002--Widukind,
Thietmar, Richer, Liudprand, and the rest. In these and many other
books, such as the Sicilian historians and the authorities for the
Norman Conquest, he made the men and the times live again, and he
seemed to live in them. Whatever the praise which students outside give
to his published lectures, we who have listened to him and worked with
him shall look back with fondness and gratitude most of all to those
hours in his college rooms in Trinity, in the long, high dining-room in
S. Giles's--the Judges' lodgings--and in the quaint low chamber in
Holywell-street, where he fled for refuge when the Judges came to hold
assize.

Much has been heard about Mr. Freeman's want of sympathy with modern
Oxford, much that is mistaken and untrue. It is true that he loved most
the Oxford of his young days, the Oxford of the Movement by which he was
so profoundly influenced, the Oxford of the friends and fellow-scholars
of his youth. But with no one were young students more thoroughly at
home, from no one did they receive more keen sympathy, more generous
recognition, or more friendly help. He did not like a mere smattering of
literary chatter; he did not like to be called a pedant; but he knew, if
any man did, what literature was and what was knowledge. He was eager to
welcome good work in every field, however far it might be from his own.

It is true that Mr. Freeman was distinctly a conservative in academic
matters, but it is quite a mistake to think that he was out of sympathy
with modern Oxford. No man was more keenly alive to the good work of the
younger generation. Certainly no man was more popular among the younger
dons. A few, in Oxford and outside, snarled at him, as they snarl still,
but they were very few who did not recognise the greatness of his
character as well as of his powers. It is not too much to say of those
who had been brought into at all near relations with him that they
learnt not only to respect but to love him. He was--all came to
recognise it--not only a distinguished historian, but, in the fullest
sense of the words, a good man. He leaves behind him a memory of
unswerving devotion to the ideal of learning--which no man placed higher
than he. His remembrance should be an inspiration to every man who
studies history in Oxford.

The kindness which allows me to say these words here is like his own,
which was felt by the humblest of his scholars.

  W.H. HUTTON.



  CONTENTS

                                                         PAGE

  NORMANDY [S.R. 1861]                                      1

  FALAISE [S.R. 1867]                                      10

  THE CATHEDRAL CHURCHES OF BAYEUX, COUTANCES, AND
  DOL [S.R. 1867]                                          21

  OLD NORMAN BATTLE-GROUNDS [S.R. 1867]                    33

  FÉCAMP [S.R. 1868]                                       42

  FOOTSTEPS OF THE CONQUEROR [S.R. 1868]                   51

  THE CÔTENTIN [S.R. 1876]                                 62

  THE AVRANCHIN [S.R. 1876]                                74

  COUTANCES AND SAINT-LO [G. 1891]                         80

  HAUTEVILLE-LA-GUICHARD [G. 1891]                         89

  MORTAIN AND ITS SURROUNDINGS [G. 1892]                  100

  MORTAIN TO ARGENTAN [G. 1892]                           112

  ARGENTAN [G. 1892]                                      125

  EXMES AND ALMENÈCHES [G. 1892]                          139

  LAIGLE AND SAINT-EVROUL [G. 1892]                       154

  TILLIÈRES AND VERNEUIL [G. 1892]                        168

  BEAUMONT-LE-ROGER [G. 1892]                             179

  JUBLAINS [S.R. 1876]                                    189

  THE CHURCHES OF CHARTRES AND LE MANS [S.R. 1868]        200

  LE MANS [S.R. 1876]                                     211

  MAINE [S.R. 1876]                                       224



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                         PAGE

   1. ST. STEPHEN, CAEN, E.                _Frontispiece_

   2. FALAISE CASTLE                                       12

   3. ST. GERVASE, FALAISE, S.W.                           16

   4. COUTANCES CATHEDRAL, CENTRAL TOWER                   24

   5. INTERIOR OF COUTANCES CATHEDRAL                      28

   6. CAPITALS IN BAYEUX CATHEDRAL                         29

   7. ABBEY OF FÉCAMP, N.E.                                43

   8. LIMAY CHURCH, TOWER, S.E.                            53

   9. DOMFRONT CASTLE                                      56

  10. EU CHURCH, S.E.                                      57

  11. VALOGNES CHURCH, N.E.                                69

  12. ABBEY OF LESSAY, S.W.                                72

  13. NOTRE-DAME, SAINT-LO, S.E.                           83

  14. ST. NICOLAS, COUTANCES, INTERIOR                     88

  15. LE MANS CATHEDRAL, N.W.                             205

  16. INTERIOR OF LE MANS CATHEDRAL                       208

  17. ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-VALE, CHARTRES                    210

  18. APSE OF LA COUTURE, LE MANS                         210

  19. NOTRE-DAME-DU-PRÉ, LE MANS, N.E.                    221

  20. SAINTE-SUSANNE, KEEP                                235



SKETCHES OF TRAVEL IN NORMANDY AND MAINE

NORMANDY

1861


Before foreign travelling had become either quite so easy or quite so
fashionable as it is now, the part of France most commonly explored by
English tourists was Normandy. Antiquarian inquirers, in particular,
hardly went anywhere else, and we suspect that with many of them a tour
in France, as Mr. Petit says, still means merely a tour in Normandy.[6]
The mere holiday tourist, on the other hand, now more commonly goes
somewhere else--either to the Pyrenees or to those parts of France which
form the road to Switzerland and Italy. The capital of the province, of
course, is familiar to everybody; two of the chief roads to Paris lie
through it. But Rouen, noble city as it is, does not fairly represent
Normandy. Its buildings are, with small exceptions, later than the
French conquest, and, as having so long been a capital, and now being a
great manufacturing town, its population has always been very mixed.
There are few cities more delightful to examine than Rouen, but for the
true Normandy you must go elsewhere. The true Normandy is to be found
further West. Its capital, we suppose we must say, is Caen; but its
really typical and central city is Bayeux. The difference is more than
nine hundred years old. In the second generation after the province
became Normandy at all, Rouen had again become a French city. William
Longsword, Rollo's son, sent his son to Bayeux to learn Danish. There
the old Northern tongue, and, we fancy, the old Northern religion too,
still flourished, while at Rouen nobody spoke anything but French.

A tour in Normandy has an interest of its own, but the nature of that
interest is of a kind which does not make Normandy a desirable choice
for a first visit to France. We will suppose that a traveller, as a
traveller should, has learned the art of travel in his own land. Let him
go next to some country which will be utterly strange to him--as we are
talking of France, say Aquitaine or Provence. He will there find
everything different from what he is used to--buildings, food, habits,
dress, as unlike England as may be. If he tries to talk to the natives
he will perhaps make them understand his _Langue d'oil_; but he will
find that his Parisian grammar and dictionary will go but a very little
way towards making him understand their _Lingua d'oc_. Now, Normandy and
England, of course, have many points of difference, and doubtless a man
who goes at once into Normandy from England will be mainly struck by the
points of difference. But let a man go through Southern Gaul first, and
visit Normandy afterwards, and he will be struck, not with the points of
difference, but with the points of likeness. Buildings, men, beasts,
everything will at once remind him of his own country. We hold that this
is a very sufficient reason for visiting the more distant province
first. Otherwise the very important phenomenon of the strong likeness
between Normandy and England will not be taken in as it ought to be.

Go from France proper into Normandy and you at once feel that everything
is palpably better. Men, women, horses, cows, all are on a grander and
better scale. If we say that the food, too, is better, we speak it with
fear and trembling, as food is, above all things, a matter of taste.
From the point of view of a fashionable cook, no doubt the Norman diet
is the worse, for whence should the fashionable cook come except from
the land with which Normandy has to be compared? But certain it is that
a man with an old-fashioned Teutonic stomach--a man who would have
liked to dine off roast meat with Charles the Great or to breakfast off
beef-steaks with Queen Elizabeth--will find Norman diet, if not exactly
answering to his ideal, yet coming far nearer to it than the politer
repasts of Paris. Rouen, of course, has been corrupted for nine
centuries, but at Evreux, and in Thor's own city of Bayeux, John Bull
may find good meat and good vegetables, and plenty of them to boot. Then
look at those strong, well-fed horses--what a contrast to the poor,
half-starved, flogged, over-worked beasts which usurp the name further
south! Look at those goodly cows, fed in good pastures, and yielding
milk thrice a day; they claim no sort of sisterhood with the
poverty-stricken animals which, south of the Loire, have to do the
horse's work as well as their own. Look at the land itself. An
Englishman feels quite at home as he looks upon green fields, and, in
the Bessin district, sees those fields actually divided by hedges. If
the visitor chance not only to be an Englishman but a West-Saxon, he
will feel yet more at home at seeing a land where the apple-tree takes
the place of the vine, and where his host asks special payment for wine,
but supplies "zider" for nothing. But above all things, look at the men.
Those broad shoulders and open countenances seem to have got on the
wrong side of the Channel. You are almost surprised at hearing anything
but your own tongue come out of their mouths. It seems strange to hear
such lips talking French; but it is something to think that it is at
least not the French of Louis the Great or of Louis Napoleon, but the
tongue of the men who first dictated the Great Charter, and who wrung
its final confirmation from the greatest of England's later kings.

The truth is, that between the Englishman and the Norman--at least, the
Norman of the Bessin--there can be, in point of blood, very little
difference. One sees that there must be something in ethnological
theories, after all. The good seed planted by the old Saxon and Danish
colonists, and watered in aftertimes by Henry the Fifth and John, Duke
of Bedford, is still there.[7] It has not been altogether choked by the
tares of Paris. The word "Saxon" is so vague that we cannot pretend to
say exactly who the Saxons of Bayeux were; but Saxons of some sort were
there, even before another Teutonic wave came in with Rolf Ganger and
his Northmen. Bayeux, as we have said, was the Scandinavian stronghold.
Men spoke Danish there when not a word of Danish was understood at
Rouen. Men there still ate their horse-steaks, and prayed to Thor and
Odin, while all Rouen bowed piously at the altar of Notre-Dame. The
ethnical elements of a Norman of the Bessin and an Englishman of Norfolk
or Lincolnshire must be as nearly as possible the same. The only
difference is, that one has quite forgotten his Teutonic speech, and the
other only partially. Not that all Teutonic traces have gone even from
the less Norman parts of Normandy. How many of the English travellers
who land at Dieppe stop to think that the name of that port, disguised
as it is by a French spelling, is nothing in the world but "The Deeps?"
If any one, now that there is a railway, prefers to go along the lovely
valley of the Seine, he will come to the little town of Caudebec. Here,
again, the French spelling makes the word meaningless; but only write it
"Cauld beck," and it at once tells its story to a Lowland Scot, and
ought to do so to every "Anglo-Saxon" of any kind. As for the local
dialect, it is French. It is not, like that of Aquitaine and Provence, a
language as distinct as Spanish or Italian. It is French, with merely a
dialectical difference from "French of Paris." But the Normans, in this
resembling the Gascons, have no special objection to a final consonant,
and most vulgarly and perversely still sound divers _s's_ and _t's_ which
the politer tongue of the capital dooms to an existence on paper only.

It is certainly curious that Normandy--which, save during the
comparatively short occupation in the fifteenth century, has always been
politically separate from England, since England became English once
more--should be so much more like England than Aquitaine, which was an
English dependency two hundred and fifty years after Normandy and
England were separated. The cause is clearly that between Englishmen and
Normans there is a real natural kindred which political separation has
not effaced, while between English and Gascons there was no sort of
kindred, but a mere political connexion which chanced to be convenient
for both sides. The Gascons, to this day, have not wholly forgotten the
advantages of English connexion, but neither then nor now is any
likeness to England the result. So, in our own time, we may hold Malta
for ever, but we shall never make Maltese so like Englishmen as our
Danish kinsmen still are without any political connexion more recent
than the days of Earl Waltheof.

For the antiquary, nothing can be more fascinating than a Norman tour.
Less curious, less instructive, because much more like English
buildings, than those of Aquitaine, the architectural remains of the
province are incomparably finer in themselves. Caen is a town well nigh
without a rival. It shares with Oxford the peculiarity of having no one
predominant object. At Amiens, at Peterborough--we may add at
Cambridge--one single gigantic building lords it over everything. Caen
and Oxford throw up a forest of towers and spires, without any one
building being conspicuously predominant. It is a town which never was a
Bishop's see, but which contains four or five churches each fit to have
been a cathedral. There is the stern and massive pile which owes its
being to the Conqueror of England, and where a life which never knew
defeat was followed by a posthumous history which is only a long series
of misfortunes. There is the smaller but richer minster, part of which
at least is the genuine work of the Conqueror's Queen.[8] Around the
town are a group of smaller churches such as not even Somerset or
Northamptonshire can surpass. Then there is Bayeux, with its cathedral,
its tapestry, its exquisite seminary chapel; Cerisy, with its mutilated
but almost unaltered Norman abbey; Bernay, with a minster so shattered
and desecrated that the traveller might pass it by without notice, but
withal retaining the massive piers and arches of the first half of the
eleventh century. There is Evreux, with its Norman naves, its tall
slender Gothic choir, its strange Italian western tower, and almost more
fantastic central spire. All these are noble churches, sharing with
those of our own land a certain sobriety and architectural good sense
which is often wanting in the churches of France proper. In Normandy as
in England, you do not see piles, like Beauvais, begun on too vast a
scale for man's labour ever to finish; you do not see piles like Amiens,
where all external proportion is sacrificed to grandeur of internal
effect.[9] A Norman minster, like an English one, is satisfied with a
comparatively moderate height, but with its three towers and full
cruciform shape, it seems a perfection of outline to which no purely
French building ever attains.



FALAISE

1867


The beginnings of the Norman Conquest, in its more personal and
picturesque point of view, are to be found in the Castle of Falaise.
There, as Sir Francis Palgrave sums up the story, "Arletta's pretty feet
twinkling in the brook made her the mother of William the Bastard." And
certainly, if great events depend upon great men, and if great men are
in any way influenced by the places of their birth, there is no place
which seems more distinctly designed by nature to be the cradle of great
events. The spot is one which history would have dealt with unfairly if
it had not contrived to find its way into her most striking pages. And
certainly in this respect Falaise has nothing to complain of. Except one
or two of the great cities of the province, no place is brought more
constantly under our notice during five centuries of Norman history. And
Norman history, we must not forget, includes in this case some of the
most memorable scenes in the history of England, France, and Scotland.
The siege by Henry the Fourth was in a manner local; it was part of a
warfare within the kingdom of France. But that warfare was one in which
all the Powers of Europe felt themselves to be closely interested; it
was a warfare in which one at least of them directly partook; it was one
in which the two great religions of Western Europe felt that their own
fates were to be in a manner decided. In the earlier warfare of the
fifteenth century Falaise plays a prominent part. Town and castle were
taken and retaken, and the ancient fortress itself received a lasting
and remarkable addition from the hand of one of the greatest of English
captains. The tall round tower of Talbot, a model of the military
masonry of its time, goes far to share the attention of the visitor with
the massive keep of the ancient Dukes. Thence we leap back to the
earliest great historical event which we can connect, with any
certainty, with any part of the existing building. It was here, in a
land beyond the borders of the Isle of Britain, but in a comparatively
neighbouring portion of the wide dominions of the House of Anjou, that
the fullest homage was paid which ever was paid by a King of Scots to a
King of England. Here William the Lion, the captive of Alnwick, became
most effectually the "man" of Henry Fitz-Empress, and burdened his
kingdom with new and onerous engagements from which his next overlord
found it convenient to relieve him. Earlier in the twelfth century, and
in the eleventh, Falaise plays its part in the troubled politics of the
Norman Duchy, in the wars of Henry the First and in the wars of his
father. Still going back through a political and military history spread
over so many ages, the culminating interest of Falaise continues to
centre round its first historic mention. Henry of Navarre, our own
Talbot, William the Lion, Robert of Bellême, all fail to kindle the same
emotions as are aroused by the spot which was the favourite
dwelling-place of the pilgrim of Jerusalem, the birthplace of the
Conqueror of England.

[Illustration: Falaise Castle]

Local tradition of course affirms the existing building to be the scene
of William's birth. The window is shown from which Duke Robert first
beheld the tanner's daughter, and the room in which William first saw
what, if it really be the spot, must certainly have been light of an
artificial kind. A pompous inscription in the modern French style calls
on us to reverence the spot where the "legislator of ancient England"
"fut engendré et naquit." The odd notion of William being the legislator
of England calls forth a passing smile, and another somewhat longer
train of thought is suggested. William, early in his reign, tried to
learn English. He proved no very apt scholar, and he presently gave up
his studies; but we may fairly believe that he learned enough to
understand the simple formulæ of his own English charters. This leads
one to ask the question: Would he not have been as likely to understand
his own praises in the tongue of the conquered English as in what is
supposed to represent his own native speech? Have we, after all,
departed any further from the tongue of the oldest Charter of London
than the Imperial dialect of abstractions and antitheses has departed
from the simple and vigorous speech of the Roman de Rou? And, if he
could spell it out in either tongue, he would find it somewhat faint
praise to be told that, judged by the standard of the nineteenth
century, he was a mere barbarian, but that M.F. Galeron would
condescend so far as to suggest to his contemporaries to judge the local
hero by a less rigid rule. If this is all the credit that the great
William can get from his own people in his own birthplace, we can only
say that, while demurring to his title of legislator of England, we
would give him much better measure than this, even if we were writing on
the site of the choir of Waltham.

Antiquaries have, till lately, generally acquiesced in the local belief
that the existing building is the actual castle of Robert the Devil. The
belief in no way commits us to the details of the local legend. Robert
must have had an astonishingly keen sight if he could, from any window
of the existing keep, judge of the whiteness of a pair of feet and
ankles at the bottom of the rock. Nor does it at all follow that, if
the present keep was standing at the time of William's birth, William
was therefore born in it. The Duke's mistress would be just as likely to
be lodged in some of the other buildings within the circuit of the
castle as in the great square tower of defence. And, if we accept the
belief, which is now becoming more prevalent, that the present keep is
of the twelfth century and not of the eleventh, we are not thereby at
all committed to the dogma that, because Robert the Devil lived before
1066, he could not possibly have had a castle of stone. In the wars of
the eleventh and twelfth centuries many castles in Normandy were
destroyed, not a few of them by William himself after the great revolt
which was put down at Val-ès-dunes. The Norman castle, evidently of the
type used after the Conquest, was introduced into England before the
Conquest by the foreign favourites of Edward the Confessor. They could
have built only in imitation of what they had been used to build in
Normandy, and unless the new fashion, with its new name, had been a
distinct advance on anything in the way of fortification already known
in England, it would not have caused so much amazement as it did.
Englishmen were perfectly familiar with stone walls to a town, but the
Norman keep was something new, something for which there was no English
name, and which therefore retained its French name of "castel." On the
whole, the evidence is in favour of the belief that the present castle
of Falaise is of the twelfth century. But there is no reason to deny,
and there is every reason to believe, that Robert the Devil may have
inhabited a castle of essentially the same type in the eleventh century.

Adjoining the keep is the tall round tower of the great Talbot. The two
towers suggest exactly opposite remembrances. One sets before us the
Norman dominant in England, the other sets before us the Englishman
dominant in Normandy. Or the case may be put in another shape. Talbot,
like so many of his comrades, was probably of Norman descent. Such
returned to the land of their fathers in the character of Englishmen.
And yet after all, when the descendants of Rolf's Danes and of the older
Saxons of Bayeux assumed the character of Englishmen, they were but
casting away the French husk and standing forth once more in the genuine
character of their earlier forefathers. Such changes were doubtless
quite unconscious; long before the fifteenth century the Norman in
England had become thoroughly English, and the Norman in Normandy had
become thoroughly French. French indeed in speech and manners he had
been for ages, but by the time of Henry the Fifth he had become French
in national feeling also. The tower of Talbot was no doubt felt by the
people of Falaise to be a badge of bondage. It stands nobly and
proudly, overtopping the older keep; its genuine masonry as good as on
the day it was built, while the stuff with which its upper part was
mended twenty years back has already crumbled away. Within, a few
details of purely English character tell their tale in most intelligible
language.

[Illustration: St. Gervase, Falaise, S.W.]

The position of the castle is striking beyond measure. It is all the
more so because it comes on the traveller who reaches the place in the
way in which travellers are now most likely to reach it as a thorough
surprise. In the approach by the railway the castle hardly shows at all.
We pass through the streets of the town; the eye is caught by the
splendid church of St. Gervase, but of the castle we get only the
faintest glimpse, nothing at all to suggest the full glory of its
position. We pass on by the fine but very inferior church of the Holy
Trinity; we contemplate the statue of the local hero; we pass through
the castle gate; we pass by a beautiful desecrated chapel of the twelfth
century; we feel by the rise of the ground and by the sight of the walks
below that we are ascending, but it is not till we are close to the keep
itself, till we have reached the very edge of the precipice, that we
fully realise there is a precipice at all. At last we are on the brow;
we see plainly enough the _falaises_, the _felsen_--the honest Teutonic
word still surviving, and giving its name to the town itself, and to its
distinguishing feature. The castle stands on the very edge of the
steep and rugged rock; opposite to it frowns another mass of rocks, not
sharp and peaked, but chaotic, like a mass of huge boulders rolled close
together. From this point the English cannon played successfully on the
ancient keep, which, under the older conditions of warfare, must have
been well nigh impregnable. It is from this opposing height that the
castle is now best surveyed by the peaceful antiquary. Between the two
points tumbles along the same little beck in which the pretty feet are
said to have twinkled, and not far off the trade of the damsel's father
is still plied, perhaps on the very spot where that unsavoury craft, of
old the craft of the demagogue, was so strangely to connect itself with
the mightiest of Norman warriors and princes.

What, it may be asked, is the condition of this most interesting
monument of an age which has utterly passed away? If there is any
building in the world which belongs wholly to the past, towards which
the duty of the present is simply to preserve, to guard every stone, to
prop if need be, but to disturb nothing, to stay from falling as long as
human power can stay it, but to abstain from supplanting one jot or one
tittle of the ancient work by the most perfect of modern copies--it is
surely the donjon-keep of Falaise. But, like every other building in
France, the birthplace of the Conqueror is hopelessly handed over to the
demon of restoration. They who have turned all the ancient monuments of
France upside down have come to Falaise also. They who were revelling
ten years back in the destruction of Périgueux, they who are even now
fresh from effacing all traces of antiquity from the noble minster of
Matilda, they who have thrust their own handiworks even into the gloomy
crypt of Odo, have at last stretched forth their hands to smite the
cradle of the Conqueror himself. The Imperial architect, M. Ruprich
Robert, has surveyed the building, he has drawn up a most clear and
intelligent account of its character and history, and, on this showing,
the work of destruction has begun. Controversy will soon be at an end;
there will be no need to dispute whether any part be of the eleventh or
of the twelfth century; both alike are making room for a spruce
imitation of the nineteenth. We shall no longer see the dwelling-place
either of Robert the Devil or of Henry Fitz-Empress; in its stead we
shall trace the last masterpiece of the reign of Napoleon the Third.
Sham Romanesque is grotesque everywhere, but it is more grotesque than
all when we see newly-cut capitals stuck into the windows of a roofless
castle, when the grey hue of age is wiped away from a building which has
stood at least seven hundred years, and when the venerable fortress is
made to look as spick and span as the last built range of shops at
Paris. Among the endless pranks, at once grotesque and lamentable,
played by the mania for restoration, surely the "restoration" of this
venerable ruin is the most grotesque and lamentable of all. The
municipality of Caen have lately made themselves a spectacle to mankind
by pulling down, seemingly out of sheer wantonness, one half of one of
the most curious churches of their city.[10] We commend them not; but we
do not place even them on a level with the subtler destroyers of
Falaise. The savages of Caen are satisfied with simple, open
destruction; what they cannot understand or appreciate they make away
with. But there is no hypocrisy, no pretence about them; they simply
destroy, they do not presume to replace. But the restorer not only takes
away the work of the men of old, he impudently puts his own work in its
stead. He takes away the truth and puts a lie in its place. Our readers
know very well with what reservations this doctrine must be
taken--reservations which in the case of churches or other buildings
actually applied to appropriate modern uses, are very considerable. But
in the case of a mere monument of antiquity, a building whose only value
is that it has stood so many years, that it exhibits the style of such
an age, that it has beheld such and such great events, there is no
reservation to be made at all. In the castle of Falaise we may adopt,
word for word, the most vehement of Mr. Ruskin's declamations on this
head. The man who turns the ancient reality of the twelfth century into
a sham of the nineteenth deserves no other fame than the fame which
Eratostratus won at Ephesus, and which James Wyatt won in the
chapter-house of Durham.



THE CATHEDRAL CHURCHES OF BAYEUX, COUTANCES, AND DOL

1867


One would rather like to see a map of France, or indeed of Europe,
marking in different degrees of colour the abundance or scarcity of
English visitors and residents. Of course the real traveller, whether he
goes to study politics or history or language or architecture or
anything else, is best pleased when he gets most completely out of the
reach of his own countrymen. The first stage out of the beaten track of
tourists is a moment of rapture. For it is the tourists who do the
mischief; the residents are a comparatively harmless folk. A colony of
English settled down in a town and its neighbourhood do very little to
spoil the natives among whom they live. For the very reason that they
are residents and not tourists, they do not in the same way corrupt
innkeepers, or turn buildings and prospects into vulgar lions. It is
hard to find peace at Rouen, as it is hard to find it at Aachen; but a
few English notices in the windows at Dinan do not seriously disturb
our meditations beneath the spreading apses of St. Sauveur and St. Malo
or the plaster statue of Bertrand du Guesclin. For any grievances
arising from the neighbourhood of our countrymen, we might as well be at
Dortmund or Rostock. But, between residents, tourists, and real
travellers, we may set it down that there is no place which Englishmen
do not visit sometimes, as there certainly are many places in which
Englishmen abound more than enough.

We have wandered into this not very profound or novel speculation
through a sort of wish to know how far three fine French churches of
which we wish to speak a few words are respectively known to Englishmen
in general. These are the Norman cathedrals of Bayeux and Coutances,
both of them still Bishops' sees, and the Breton Cathedral of Dol,
which, in the modern ecclesiastical arrangements, has sunk into a parish
church. Bayeux lies on a great track, and we suppose that all the world
goes there to see the tapestry. Coutances has won a fame among professed
architectural students almost higher than it deserves, but we fancy that
the city lies rather out of the beat of the ordinary tourist. Dol is
surely quite out of the world; we trust that, in joining it with the
other two, we may share somewhat of the honours of discovery. We will
not say that we trust that no one has gone thither from the Greater
Britain since the days of the Armorican migration; but we do trust that
a criticism on the cathedral church of Dol will be somewhat of a novelty
to most people.

We select these three because they have features in common, and because
they all belong to the same general type of church. As cathedrals, they
are all of moderate size; Coutances and Dol, we may distinctly say, are
of small size. They do not range with such miracles of height as France
shows at Amiens and Beauvais, or with such miracles of length as England
shows at Ely and St. Albans. They rank rather with our smaller episcopal
churches, such as Lichfield, Wells, and Hereford. Indeed most of the
great Norman churches come nearer to this type than to that of minsters
of a vaster scale. And the reason is manifest. The great churches of
Normandy, like those of England, are commonly finished with the central
tower. Perhaps they do not always make it a feature of quite the same
importance which it assumes in England, but it gives them a marked
character, as distinguished from the great churches of the rest of
France. Elsewhere, the central tower, not uncommon in churches of the
second and third rank, is altogether unknown among cathedrals and other
great minsters of days later than Romanesque. It is as much the rule for
a French cathedral to have no central tower as it is for an English or
Norman cathedral to have one. The result is that, just as in our
English churches, the enormous height of Amiens and Beauvais cannot be
reached. But, in its stead, the English and Norman churches attained a
certain justness of proportion and variety of outline which the other
type does not admit. No church in Normandy, except St. Ouen's, attains
any remarkable height, and even St. Ouen's is far surpassed by many
other French churches. But perhaps a vain desire to rival the vast
height of their neighbours sometimes set the Norman builders to attempt
something of comparative height by stinting their churches in the
article of breadth. This peculiarity may be seen to an almost painful
extent at Evreux.

[Illustration: Coutances Cathedral, Central Tower]

Our three churches, then--Coutances and Dol certainly--rank with our
smaller English cathedrals, allowing for a greater effect of height,
partly positive, partly produced by narrowness. They are, in fact,
English second-class churches with the height of English first-class
churches. Bayeux, in every way the largest of the three, perhaps just
trembles on the edge of the first-class. Coutances, the smallest, is
distinctly defective in length; the magnificent, though seemingly
unfinished, central tower, plainly wants a longer eastern limb to
support it. Even at Bayeux the eastern limb is short according to
English notions, though not so conspicuously so as Coutances. We suspect
that Dol is really the most justly proportioned of the three, though
in many points its outline is the one which would least commend itself
to popular taste. The central tower is still lower than that at Lisieux;
it is rather like that of St. Canice at Kilkenny, only just rising above
the level of the roof. But, as is always the case with this arrangement,
the effect is solemn and impressive. The low heavy central tower is a
common feature in Normandy, and one to which the eye soon gets
accustomed. The west front of Dol is imperfect and irregular; the
southern has been carried up and finished in a later style, while the
northern one, whose rebuilding had been begun, was left unfinished
altogether. The whole front is mutilated and poor, and the chief
attractions of Dol must be looked for elsewhere. The west front of
Coutances is as famous as the west front of Wells, and both, to our
taste, equally undeservedly. Both are shams; in neither does a good,
real, honest gable stand out between the two towers. The west front of
Coutances also is a mass of meaningless breaks and projections, and the
form of the towers is completely disguised by the huge excrescences in
the shape of turrets. Far finer, to our taste, is the front of Bayeux.
Though it is a composition of various dates, thrown together in a sort
of casual way, and though the details of the two towers do not exactly
agree, yet the different stages are worked together so as to produce a
very striking effect. The later work seems not so much to be stuck upon
the earlier as to grow out of it. One could hardly have thought that
spires, among the most elegant of the elegant spires of the district,
would have looked so thoroughly in place as they do when crowning
towers, the lower parts at least of which are the work of the famous
Odo. There is nothing of that inconsistency which is clearly marked
between the upper and lower parts of the front of St. Stephen's at Caen.
The general external effect of Bayeux can hardly be judged of till the
completion of the new central lantern. This last is a bold experiment,
seemingly a Gothic version of the cupola which it displaces. But as far
as the original work goes, there can be no doubt of Bayeux holding much
the first place among our three churches.

[Illustration: Interior of Coutances Cathedral]

Looked at within, the precedence of Bayeux is less certain. The first
glance at Coutances, within as without, is disappointing, mainly because
the visitor has been led to expect a building on a grander scale. But
the interior soon grows on the spectator, in a way in which the outside
certainly does not. The first impression felt is one of being cramped
for room. The difference between Coutances and Bayeux is plainly shown
by the fact that at Bayeux room is found for a spacious choir east of
the central tower, while at Coutances a smaller choir is driven to annex
the space under the lantern. This is an arrangement which is often
convenient in any case, but which, as a matter of effect, commonly suits
a Romanesque church better than a Gothic one. But when we come more
thoroughly to take in the internal beauties of Coutances, we begin to
feel that Bayeux, with all its superior grandeur, has found a very
formidable rival. Coutances is the more harmonious whole. The choir and
the nave vary considerably, and the choir must be somewhat the later of
the two. But the difference is hardly of a kind to interfere much with
the general effect. The general appearance of the church is thoroughly
consistent throughout, and the octagon lantern, with its arcades,
galleries, and pendentives, all open to the church, forms a magnificent
feature. It is evidently the feature of which Coutances was specially
proud; it is repeated, at a becoming distance, in the other two churches
of the city, as well as elsewhere in the diocese. The nave arcades of
Coutances are exquisite, the triforium is well proportioned and well
designed, except that perhaps the beautiful floriated devices in the
head may be thought to have usurped the place of some more strictly
architectural design. The clerestory is perhaps a little heavy. In the
choir the clerestory and triforium are thrown into one stage of singular
likeness, though in this style the lack of a distinct triforium is
always to be regretted. The mouldings in both parts have, as is so usual
in Normandy, an English look, which is quite unknown in France proper,
and in the choir we find a larger use of the characteristic English
round abacus. But, next to the lantern, the most striking thing in the
interior of Coutances is certainly the sweep of the eastern aisles and
chapels, where the interlacing aisles and pillars produce an effect of
spaciousness which is not to be found in the main portions of the
church.

[Illustration: Capitals in Bayeux Cathedral]

The interior of Bayeux, besides its greater spaciousness and grandeur of
effect, is attractive on other grounds. It is far more interesting than
Coutances to the historical inquirer. Many facts in the history of
Normandy are plainly written in the architectural changes of this noble
church. The most interesting portion indeed does not appear in the
general view of the interior. The church of Odo, the church at whose
dedication William was present, and which must have been rising at the
time of the visit of Harold, now survives only in the crypt of the choir
and in the lower portions of the towers.[11] The rest was destroyed by
fire, like so many other churches in Normandy, during the wars of Henry
the First. Of the church which then replaced it, the arcades of the nave
still remain. No study of Romanesque can be more instructive than a
comparison of the work of these two dates. Odo's work is plain and
simple, with many of the capitals of a form eminently characteristic
of an early stage of the art of floriated enrichment--a form of its own
which grew up alongside of others, and gradually budded into such
splendid capitals of far later work as we see at Lisieux. Will it be
believed that the remorseless demon of restoration has actually
descended the steps of this venerable crypt, and that two of the
capitals are now, not of the eleventh century, but brand-new productions
of the nineteenth? Of course we are told that they are exact copies; but
what then? We do not want copies, but the things themselves, and if they
were a little ragged and jagged, what harm could it do down underground?

A striking contrast to the work of Odo, a contrast as striking as can
easily be found between two things which are, after all, essentially of
the same style, is to be seen in the splendid arcades of the nave, one
of the richest examples to be found anywhere of the later and more
ornamented Romanesque. The arches are of unusual and very irregular
width; the irregularity must be owing to something in the remains or
foundations of the earlier building. They are crowned, however, not by a
triforium and clerestory of their own style, but a single clerestory of
coupled lancets of enormous height, with the faintest approach to
tracery in the head. The effect is striking, but certainly somewhat
incongruous. The choir is one of the most beautiful productions of the
thirteenth-century style of the country, always approaching nearer to
English work than the architecture of any other part of the Continent.
Another church at Bayeux, that which now forms the chapel of the
seminary, is well known as being more English still. It might, as far as
details go, stand unaltered as an English building.

And now for a few words as to the obscure Breton church which we have
ventured to put into competition with such formidable Norman rivals.[12]
Perhaps it derives some of its attractions from its being out of the way
and comparatively unknown. It has that peculiar charm which attaches to
a fine building found where one would hardly expect to find it--a
feeling which reaches its highest point at St. David's. The first
impression which it gives is that there is something Irish about it;
there is certainly no church in Ireland which can be at all compared to
it; still it is something like what one could fancy St. Canice growing
into. One marked characteristic of Dol Cathedral comes from its
material. It is built of the granite of the country, which necessarily
gives it a somewhat stern and weather-beaten look, and hinders any great
exuberance of architectural ornament. Not that we think this any loss;
the simple buttresses and flying buttresses at Dol are really a relief
after the elaborate and unintelligible forests of pinnacles which
surround so many French churches, even of very moderate size. It is only
in the huge porch attached to the south transept that an approach to
anything of this kind is found. But very beautiful work of other sorts
may be seen at Dol. The smaller porch is a gem of early work, and the
range of windows in the north aisle presents some of the most delicate
triumphs of geometrical tracery, too delicate in truth to last, as all
are more or less broken. The flat east end gives the church an English
look, and the flat east end with an apsidal chapel beyond it especially
suggests Wells. Within, the church has a great effect of height and
narrowness, greater certainly than Coutances. Like Coutances, the nave
and choir are of somewhat different dates, the choir being more modern,
but, unlike Coutances, still more unlike Bayeux, they range completely
together in composition. The nave we might fairly call Early English. It
is not quite so characteristic as some of the work at Bayeux, but it
uses the round abacus freely, although not exclusively. But for a few
square abaci which are used, and for the appearance of early tracery in
the side windows, it might pass as a purely Lancet building. The choir
is fully developed geometrical work, of excellent character, with a
beautifully designed triforium and clerestory. Altogether we think Dol
may make good its claim to a high place among churches of the second
order. It is specially curious to see how a building which does not
differ in any essential peculiarity of style from its fellows assumes a
distinct character, and that by no means wholly to its loss, through the
use of a somewhat rugged material.



OLD NORMAN BATTLE-GROUNDS

1867


In the strictly historical aspect, the English inquirer is perhaps
naturally led to think most of those events in which his more recent
countrymen were more immediately concerned--those events of the Hundred
Years' War, on which so much light has lately been thrown by the
researches of M. Puiseux.[13] But he should not forget that, besides
being the scene of these events in the great struggle between England
and France, Normandy, independent Normandy, has also a history of its
own, in which both England and France had a deep interest. It is not
only because Normandy is the cradle of so many families which after
events made English, because so many Norman villages still bear names
illustrious in the English peerage. It is because it is in the earlier
history of Normandy, above all, in the reign of William himself, that
we are to seek for one side of the causes which made a Norman conquest
of England possible, just as it is in the earlier history of England,
above all, in the reign of Eadward, that we are to seek for the other
side of those causes.

No one among those causes was more important than the personal character
of the great Duke of the Normans himself. And the qualities which made
William able to achieve the Conquest of England were, if not formed, at
least trained and developed, by the events of his reign in his own
Duchy. Succeeding with a very doubtful title, at once bastard and minor,
it is wonderful that he contrived to retain his ducal crown at all; it
is not at all wonderful that his earlier years were years of constant
struggle within and without his dominions. He had to contend against
rivals for the Duchy, and against subjects to whom submission to any
sovereign was irksome. He had to contend against a jealous feudal
superior, who dreaded his power, who retained somewhat of national
dislike to the Danish intruders, and who, shut up in his own Paris,
could hardly fail to grudge to any vassal the possession of the valley
and mouth of the Seine. William, in short, before he conquered England,
had to conquer both Normandy and France. And such was his skill, such
was his good luck, that he found out how to conquer Normandy by the help
of France, and how to conquer France by the help of Normandy. The King
of the French acted as his ally against his rebellious vassals, and
those rebellious vassals changed into loyal subjects when it was needful
to withstand the aggressions of the King of the French.

The principal stages in this warfare are marked by two battles, the
sites of which are appropriately placed on the two opposite sides of the
Seine. At Val-ès-dunes William of Normandy and Henry of France overcame
the Norman rebels.[14] Afterwards, when Henry had changed his policy,
the Normans smote the French with a great slaughter at Mortemer, neither
of the contending princes being personally present. Val-ès-dunes, we
must confess the fact, was in truth a victory of the Roman over the
Teuton. It was by the aid of his French overlord that William chastised
into his obedience the sturdy Saxons of the Bessin and the fierce Danes
of the Côtentin. The men of the peninsula boasted, in a rhyme which is
still not forgotten in the neighbourhood of the fight, how

          De Costentin partit la lance
          Qui abastit le roy de France.

For King Henry, successful in the general issue of the day, had his own
personal mishaps in the course of the battle, and to have overthrown the
King of the French was an exploit which supplied the vanquished with
some little consolation.

The scene of this battle is fitly to be found in the true Normandy, but
towards its eastern frontier. It must not be forgotten that the truest
Normandy was not the oldest Normandy. The lands first granted to Rolf,
perhaps for the very reason that they were the lands first granted to
him, became French, while the later acquisitions of Rolf himself still
remained Danish.

The boundary was seemingly marked by the Dive. Val-ès-dunes then, placed
a little to the west of that river, comes within the true Normandy,
though it is near to its outskirts. The Teutonic Norman was beaten on
his own ground, but the Frenchman at least never made his way to the
gates of Bayeux or Coutances. The site of the battle is less attractive
to the eye than many other battle-fields, but the ground is excellently
adapted for what the battle seems really to have been, a sharp encounter
of cavalry, a few gallant charges ending in the headlong flight of the
defeated side. This was the young Duke's first introduction to serious
warfare; but he had tougher work than this to go through before his
career was over. To the east of Caen stretches a somewhat dreary
country, which forms a striking contrast to the rich meadows and
orchards of the Bessin, while it in no way approaches to the wildness of
the sterner portions of the Côtentin. A range of hills of some height
bounds the prospect to the north, and it was from that direction that
William brought his forces to the field. The field itself is a sort of
low plateau, sloping to the east, and bordered by a series of villages
placed in what, if the height of the rising ground were higher, might be
called _combes_ or valleys. The churches of Valmeray, where a ruined
fragment of later date marks the spot where King Henry heard mass before
the fight, Billy, Boneauville, Chicheboville, and Secqueville, all skirt
the hill, if hill we can call it. The actual battle-field lies between
the two last-named villages. To the west a higher ridge, called by the
name of St. Lawrence, marks the furthest point of the battle, the place
where the defeated rebels made their last stand, and which was marked by
a commemorative chapel, now destroyed. From that point the high ground
again stretches westward as far as the village of Haute Allemagne, the
great quarry of Caen stone. Over all the ground in this direction the
rebels were scattered, multitudes of them being carried away, we are
told, by the stream of the Orne.

The spot, as we have said, is not in itself particularly attractive,
though there is something striking in the view both ways from the high
ground of St. Lawrence. It is easy to say how thoroughly well the ground
was chosen for what took place on it, a _mêlée_, of mounted knights, a
tournament in earnest. And it is quite worth the while of any student
of Norman history to walk over the ground, Wace in hand, taking in the
graphic description of the honest rhymer, as clear and accurate as usual
in his topographical details. And it is pleasant to find how well the
events of the day are still remembered by the peasantry of the
neighbourhood. There is no fear, as there is said to be in the
neighbourhood of Worcester, of an inquirer after the field of battle
being taken to see the scene of a battle between some local Sayers and
Heenan. The Norman of every rank, when let alone by Frenchmen, is a born
antiquary, proud of the ancient history of his country, and taking an
intelligent interest in it which in England is seldom to be found except
amongst highly-educated men.

The other site, Mortemer, lies in a region far more attractive to the
eye than Val-ès-dunes, but, as an historical spot, it is chiefly
remarkable from the event of the battle having, so to speak, wiped out
all traces of itself.[15] The spot where the French invaders received so
heavy a blow lies appropriately in the more French part of Normandy, in
the region on the right of the Seine, and it seems to have been almost
wholly by the hands of the men of the surrounding districts that the
blow was struck. The Mortemer of which we speak must not be mistaken for
the Abbey of Mortemer, near Lyons-la-forêt, in that famous wood of
which Sir Francis Palgrave has so much to tell. Both the one and the
other Mortemer happily lie quite out of the beat of ordinary tourists.
The Mortemer of the battle lies on the road between the small towns of
Neufchâtel and Aumale. Neufchâtel-en-Bray, a Neufchâtel without lake or
watches or republic, can nevertheless boast of surrounding hills which,
if not equal to the Jura, are of considerable height for Northern Gaul,
and its cheese is celebrated through a large portion of Normandy. Ascend
and descend one hill, then ascend and descend another, and the journey
is made from Neufchâtel to Aumale. Just out of the road, at the base of
the two hills, the eye is caught by a ruined tower on the right hand.
This is what remains of the castle of Mortemer, a fragment of
considerably later date than the battle. The church is modern and
worthless; the few scattered houses, almost wholly of wood, which form
the hamlet, present nothing remarkable. But it is in this very absence
of anything remarkable that the historic interest of Mortemer consists.
The Mortemer of the eleventh century was a town; the Mortemer of the
nineteenth century is a very small and scattered village. Doubtless a
town of that age might be, in point of population, not beyond a village
now; still a town implies continuous houses, which is just what Mortemer
now does not possess. The French occupied Mortemer because of the
convenient quarters to be had in its hostels. It is now one of the last
places in the world to which one would go for quarters of any kind.
Mortemer was apparently an open town, not defended by walls or a castle,
or the French could hardly have occupied it, as they did, without
resistance. But it must have been a town, as towns then went, or so
large a body could not have been so comfortably quartered in it as they
evidently were. The key to the change is to be found in the event
itself. The Normans of the surrounding country surprised the French on
the morning after they had entered Mortemer, while they were still
engaged in revelry and debauchery. They set fire to the town, and slew
the Frenchmen as they attempted to escape. To all appearance, the town
was never rebuilt, and its change into the mean collection of houses
which now bears its name is a strange but abiding trophy of a great
triumph of Norman craft--in this case we can hardly say of Norman
valour--eight centuries back.

Such are two of the historic spots which are to be found in abundance on
the historic soil of Normandy. They are only two out of many; every
town, almost every village, has its tale to tell. From Eu to Pontorson
there is hardly a spot which does not make some contribution to the
history of those stirring times when Normandy had a life of its own, and
when the Norman name was famous from Scotland to Sicily. After six
hundred years of incorporation with the French monarchy, Normandy is
still Norman; "le Duc Guillaume" is still a familiar name, not only to
professed scholars or antiquaries, but to the people themselves. Without
any political bearing--for the political absorption of Normandy by
France was remarkably speedy--the feelings and memories of the days of
independence have lingered on in a way which is the more remarkable as
there is no palpable distinction of language, such as distinguishes
Bretons, Basques, or even the speakers of the Tongue of Oc. But in
everything but actual speech the old impress remains, and the result is
that in Normandy, above all in Lower Normandy, the English historical
traveller finds himself more thoroughly at home than in any other part
of the Continent except in the lands where the speech once common to
England, to Bayeux, and to Northern Germany is still preserved.



FÉCAMP

1868


It has sometimes struck us that the mediæval founders of towns and
castles and monasteries were not so wholly uninfluenced by
considerations of mere picturesque beauty as we are apt to fancy. We are
apt to think that they had nothing in their minds but mere convenience,
according to their several standards of convenience, convenience for
traffic, convenience for military defence or attack, convenience for the
chase, the convenience of solitude in one class of ecclesiastical
foundations, the convenience of the near neighbourhood of large centres
of men in another class. This may be so; but, if so, these
considerations of various kinds constantly led them, by some sort of
happy accident, to the choice of very attractive sites. And we venture
to think that it was not merely accident, because we often come upon
descriptions of sites in mediæval writers which seem to show that the
men of those times were capable of appreciating the picturesque
position of this or that castle or abbey, as well as its direct
suitableness for military or monastic purposes. Giraldus, for instance,
evidently admired the site of Llanthony, and, if he expressed himself
about it in rather exaggerated language, that is no more than what
naturally happens when any man, especially when Giraldus, expresses
himself in Latin, especially in mediæval Latin. In the like sort, we
have come across one or two descriptions of the Abbey of Fécamp which
clearly show that the writers were struck, as any man of taste would be,
with the position in which that great and famous monastery had arisen.
And, to leap to scenes which far surpass either Fécamp or Llanthony, the
well-known story of Saint Bernard's absorption on the shores of the Lake
of Geneva really tells the other way. We are told that the saint was so
given up to pious contemplation that he travelled for a whole day
through that glorious region without noticing lake, mountains, or
anything else. Now we need hardly stop to show that the fact that
Bernard's absorption was thought worthy of record proves that, if he did
not notice any of these things, there was some one in his company who
did. We suspect that in this, as in a great many things, we have more in
common with our forefathers several centuries back than we have with
those who are nearer to us by many generations.

[Illustration: Abbey of Fécamp, N.E.]

Modern taste might possibly make one objection to the site of Fécamp.
Though near the sea, it is not within sight of the sea. The modern
watering-place of Fécamp is springing up at a considerable distance from
the ancient abbey. But the love of watering-places and sea-bathing is
one which is altogether modern, and, in the days in which our old towns,
castles, and monasteries grew up, a site immediately on the sea would
have been looked on as unsafe. And in truth there are not many places,
and certainly Fécamp is not one of them, where all the various buildings
of a great monastery could have been planned so as to command the modern
attraction of a sea-view. Moreover it is a point not to be forgotten
that people who go to Fécamp or elsewhere for sea-views and sea-bathing
go there during certain months only, while the monks had to live there
all the year round. The monks of Saint Michael's Mount were indeed
privileged with, or condemned to, an everlasting sea-view; but the title
of their house was that of Saint Michael "_in periculo maris_." To be
exposed to the perils of the sea was no part of the intention of the
founders of Fécamp, either of abbey, town or palace.[16] They chose them
a site which gave them the practical advantages of the sea without the
dangers of its immediate neighbourhood. Fécamp then lies a little way
inland. Two parallel ranges of hills run down to the sea, with a
valley and a small stream between them, at the mouth of which the modern
port has been made. On the slope of the hills on the left side lies the
huge mass of the minster rising over the long straggling town which
stretches away to the water. But though the great church thus lies
secluded from the sea, the spiritual welfare of sea-faring men was not
forgotten. The point where the opposite range of hills directly
overhangs the sea is crowned by one of those churches specially devoted
to sailors and their pilgrimages which are so often met with in such
positions. The chapel of Our Lady of Safety, now restored after a season
of ruin and desecration, forms a striking and picturesque object in the
general landscape. And from the chapel itself and from the hill-side
paths which lead up to it, we get the noblest views of the great abbey,
in all the stern simplicity of its age, stretching the huge length of
its nave, one of the very few, even in Normandy, which rival the effect
of Winchester and Saint Albans. A single central tower, of quite
sufficient height, of no elaborate decoration, crowned by no rich spire
or octagon, but with a simple covering of lead, forms the thoroughly
appropriate centre of the whole building. We feel that this tower is
exactly what is wanted; we almost doubt whether the church gained or
lost by the loss of the western towers, which would have taken off from
the effect of boundless length which is the characteristic of the
building. At any rate we think how far more effective is the English and
Norman arrangement, which at all events provides a great church with the
noblest of central crowns, than the fashion of France, which
concentrates all its force on the western front, and leaves the at least
equally important point of crossing to shift for itself.

The church itself is one of the noblest even in Normandy, and it is in
remarkably good preservation. And the two points in which the fabric has
suffered severe damage are not owing either to Huguenots or to Jacobins,
but to its own guardians under two different states of things. The bad
taste of the monks themselves in their later days is chargeable with the
ugly Italian west front, which has displaced the elder front with towers
of which the stumps may still be seen. An Italian front, though it must
be incongruous when attached to a mediæval building, need not be in
itself either ugly or mean, but this front of Fécamp is conspicuously
both. The other loss is that of the _jubé_ or roodloft, which, from the
fragments left, seems to have been a magnificent piece of later Gothic
work, perhaps almost rivalling the famous one at Alby. The destruction
of roodlofts has been so general in France that one is not particularly
struck by each several case of destruction. But there is something
singular about this Fécamp case, as the _jubé_ was pulled down at the
restoration of religion, through the influence of the then curé, in
opposition to the wishes of his more conservative or more ritualistic
parishioners. With these two exceptions Fécamp has lost but little, as
far as regards the church itself. The conventual buildings, like most
French conventual buildings, have been rebuilt in an incongruous style,
and now serve for the various public purposes of the local
administration. In a near view of the north side, they form an ugly
excrescence against the church, but they are lost in the more distant
and general view.

The church itself mainly belongs to the first years of the thirteenth
century, with smaller portions both of earlier and of later date. On
entering the church, we find that the long western limb is not all
strictly nave, the choir, by an arrangement more common in England than
in France, stretching itself west of the central tower. The whole of
this western limb is built in the simplest and severest form of that
earliest French Gothic, which to an English eye seems to be simply an
advanced form of the transition from Romanesque. Even at Amiens, amid
all the splendours of its fully-developed geometrical windows, the
pillars and arches, in their square abaci and even in the sections of
their mouldings, have what an Englishman calls a Romanesque feeling
still hanging about them. At Fécamp this is far stronger. The large
triforium, the untraceried windows, the squareness of everything except
a few English round abaci in some bays of the triforium, the external
heaviness and simplicity, all make the early Gothic of Fécamp little
more than pointed Romanesque. We do not say this in disparagement. This
stage was a necessary stage for architecture to pass through, and the
Transitional period is always one of the most interesting in
architectural history. And when work of that date is carried out with
such excellence both of composition and detail as it is at Fécamp, it is
much more than historically interesting, it is thoroughly satisfactory
in artistic effect. We say nothing against the style, except that, as
being essentially imperfect and not realising the ideal of either of the
two styles between which it comes historically, we cannot look on it as
a proper model for modern imitation. Several diversities of detail may
on minute examination be seen in the different bays of the nave of
Fécamp, just as in the contemporary nave of Wells. Just as at Wells, the
western part--in this case the five western bays--is slightly later than
the rest. And, as at Wells, the distinction between the older and newer
work is easily to be remarked by those who look for it, though it is a
distinction which makes no difference in the general effect and which
might pass unnoticed by any but a very minute observer. In truth it is,
in both cases, a difference not of style but of taste. The eastern limb
of Fécamp--strictly the presbytery and not the choir--is more remarkable
in some ways than the nave. It is here that we find the only remains of
an earlier church, and these are of no very remarkable antiquity. M.
Bouet, in a short account of Fécamp, addressed to the Norman Antiquarian
Society, records his disappointment at finding at Fécamp no traces of
the days of the early Dukes, or even of days earlier still, such as he
found at Jumièges. This oldest part of Fécamp is part of a church begun
so late as 1085. One bay of its presbytery and two adjoining chapels
have been spared. The style is a little singular. There is something not
quite Norman about the very square arches of a single order, and the
capitals are not the usual Norman capitals of the second half of the
eleventh century. Except this bay, the presbytery has been rebuilt in
essentially the same style as the nave, though naturally a little
earlier. But on the south side a singular change took place in the
fourteenth century. As at Waltham, the builders of that day cut away the
triforium and threw the two lower stages into one. But what was done at
Waltham in the most awkward and bungling way in which anything ever was
done anywhere, was at Fécamp at least done very cleverly. Without
meddling with the vaulting or the vaulting-shafts, the pier-arches and
triforium range of the thirteenth century have been changed into arches
of the fourteenth, resting on tall slender pillars, almost recalling the
choir of Le Mans. Whether this change was an improvement or not is a
question of taste, but there can be no question as to the wonderful
skill, æsthetical and mechanical, with which the change was made, and it
is the more striking from the contrast with the wretched "botch" at
Waltham.

The church is finished to the east by a fine Flamboyant Lady Chapel. The
contrast between it and the earlier work suggests the effect of Henry
the Seventh's Chapel at Westminster, though the contrast is not quite so
strong. Altogether there can be no doubt of the claim of the church to a
place in the very first rank of the great minsters of a province
specially rich in such works.

We have dwelt so long on the position and the architecture of Fécamp
that we have no space left to add anything on its history. But the local
history of Fécamp naturally connects itself with several other more
general points at which we shall perhaps have some future opportunity of
glancing.



FOOTSTEPS OF THE CONQUEROR

1868


Many of the great events of Norman history, many of the chief events in
the life of the Great William, happened conveniently in or near to the
great cities of the Duchy. But many others also happened in somewhat out
of the way places, which no one is likely to get to unless he goes there
on purpose. The Conqueror received his death-wound at Mantes, he died in
a suburb of Rouen, he was buried at Caen. All these are places easy to
get at. Perhaps we should except Mantes, which in a certain sense is not
easy to get at. All the world goes by Mantes, but few people stop there.
The reason is manifest. The traveller who goes by Mantes commonly has in
his pocket a ticket for Paris, which enables him to spend a day at
Rouen, but not to spend a day at Mantes. People very anxious to stop at
Mantes, and to muse, so to speak, among its embers, have had great
searchings of heart how to get there, and have not accomplished their
object till after some years of reflection. And the interest of Mantes,
after all, is mainly negative. The town stands well; its river, its
bridges, its islands, suggest the days when Scandinavian pirates sailed
up the Seine and encamped with special delight on such _eys_ or _holms_
as that between Mantes and Limay. A specially prolonged fit of musing
may perhaps lead one to regret the prowess of Count Odo, and to wish
that Paris also had received that wholesome Northern infusion which
still works so healthily between the Epte and the Coesnon. But Mantes,
as regards William, is something like Mortemer as regards William's
rival King Henry. Mantes can show no traces of William or his age, for
the simple reason that William took good care that no such traces should
be left. By perhaps the worst deed of his life, a deed which awakened
special indignation at the time, he gave Mantes to destruction to avenge
a silly jest of its sovereign. At Mantes he held his churching and
lighted his candles, and their blaze burned up houses, churches,
whatever was there. Therefore, because William himself was there in only
too great force, it is that Mantes has no work of man to show on which
William can ever have looked. The church, whose graceful towers every
one has seen from the railway, is a grand fabric a hundred years or more
later than William's time, but to Norman and English eyes it might
seem that, with such a height as it has, the building ought to have
fully doubled its actual length. The third tower, that of a destroyed
church, is worth study as an example of a striking kind of cinque-cento,
the design being purely Gothic and the details being strongly
Italianised. But, after all, the architectural inquirer will be best
pleased with the fine Romanesque tower in the suburb of Limay, and the
lover of picturesque effect will not fail to dwell on the mediæval
bridge which leads thither from the town.

[Illustration: Limay Church, Tower, S.E.]

So much for the spot, beyond the limits of his own Duchy, where William,
in the words of our Chronicles, "did a rueful thing, and more ruefully
it him befel." Of the points within Normandy which his name invests with
their main interest, we have already spoken of his birthplace at
Falaise--where the brutal work of "restoration," _i.e._ of scraping and
destroying, is still going on in full force--of the field of his early
victory at Val-ès-dunes, and of the victory won for him by others at
Mortemer. We may, however, suggest that any one who visits Val-ès-dunes,
will not do amiss if he extends his ramble as far as the churches of
Cintheaux and Quilly. Cintheaux is one of the best of the small but rich
twelfth-century churches which are so common in the district. And its
worthy curé, the historian of Val-ès-dunes, is doing his best to bring
it back to its former state, without subjecting it, like Falaise or
like one of the spires of Saint Stephen's, to the cruel martyrdom of the
apostle Bartholomew. Quilly is more remarkable still, as possessing a
tower containing marked vestiges of that earlier Romanesque style of
which Normandy contains so much fewer examples than either England or
Aquitaine. Cintheaux=Centella, has also a certain historic interest in
the generation after William. There, in 1105, King Henry and Duke
Robert, "_duo germani fratres_," had a conference. We forget who it was
who translated "_duo germani fratres_" by "two German brothers," and
went on to rule that the Henry spoken of must have been the Emperor
Henry the Fourth, and to remark that the conference happened not very
long before his death. Cintheaux, however, has carried us from the age
of William into the age of his sons, and we must retrace our steps
somewhat. The sites connected with William himself will easily fall into
three classes--those which belong to his wars with France and Anjou,
those which figure in the Breton campaign which he waged in company with
Earl Harold, and those which have a direct bearing on the Conquest of
England. The second class we may easily dispose of. Of Dol and Dinan we
have said somewhat already, and Dinan especially is a place familiar to
many Englishmen. But we may remark that, though Dinan contains few
remains of any great antiquity, few places better preserve the general
effect of an ancient town. It still rises grandly above the river,
spanned both by the lowly ancient bridge and the gigantic modern
viaduct; the walls are nearly perfect, and houses, partly through the
necessities of the site, have not spread themselves at all largely
beyond them. We may add that the good sense of the inhabitants has found
out a way to make excellent boulevards without sacrificing the walls to
their creation. Rennes, the furthest point reached by the two comrades
so soon to become enemies, is now wholly a modern city. Saint Michael's
Mount has become a popular lion, which can only be seen under the
vexatious companionship of a guide and a "party." It is therefore
impossible to study the interior with much comfort or profit. Yet one
has still time to wonder at the strange effect produced by crowding the
buildings of a great monastery on the top of the rock, an effect which
reaches its highest point when we go up a staircase and find ourselves
landed in a cloister of singular beauty. But the rock and the
buildings--nowhere better seen than from the Mount of Dol--are still
there, a most striking object from every point of the landscape, Saint
Michael "in peril of the sea" seeming to watch over the bay which bears
his name, as from his height at Glastonbury he seems to watch over the
flats and the hills peopled with the names alike of British and of
West-Saxon heroes. And the vast expanse of sand brings vividly before
us the scene in the Tapestry where the giant strength of the English
Earl is shown lifting with ease the soldiers who found themselves
engulfed in the treacherous stream.

[Illustration: Domfront Castle]

The wars of William with Geoffrey of Anjou and Henry of Paris introduce
us to several points, striking in the way both of nature and of art. Few
among them surpass Domfront, William's first conquest beyond the bounds
of his own Duchy, the fortress which he won by the mere terror of his
name after the fearful vengeance which he had inflicted on the rebels of
Alençon.[17] The spot reminds one in some degree of his own birthplace
at Falaise. That is to say, the castle crowns one rocky hill, and looks
out on another, still wilder and more rugged, with a pass between them,
through which runs the stream of the Varenne, a tributary of the
Mayenne, as that is in its turn of the Loire. But the position of the
two towns is different. Though the castle of Falaise occupies so
commanding a site, the town itself is anything but one of the
hill-towns, while Domfront is one of the best of the class. Not that it
is the least likely to be an ancient hill-fort, like Chartres, Le Mans,
or Angers; both Falaise and Domfront are, beyond all doubt, towns which
have gathered round their respective castles in comparatively modern
times. Both, there can be no doubt, date, in their very beginnings,
from a time later than the Norman settlement. Still Domfront is
practically a hill-town; the walls simply fence in the top of the
height, and the town, never having reached any great size, has not yet
spread itself to the bottom. A more picturesque site can hardly be
found. Of the castle, the chief remnant is a shattered fragment of the
keep, most likely the very fortress which surrendered to William's
youthful energy.[18] As for churches, the only one within the walls is
worthless, but the church of Notre-Dame at the foot of the hill is one
of the best and purest specimens of Norman work on a moderate scale to
be found anywhere. The original work is nearly untouched, except that
the barbarism of modern times has removed about half the nave.

[Illustration: Eu Church, S.E.]

After Domfront had submitted to William and had become permanently
incorporated with Normandy, he himself founded the fortress of Ambrières,
as a border stronghold.[19] A fragment of the castle still overlooks the
lower course of the Varenne, but the ground is no longer Norman. Some
way further on the same road we reach Mayenne, a town whose name
suggests far later warfare, but which was an important conquest of
William's in the days when Maine was the border ground, and the
battle-field, of Norman and Angevin.[20] The site of Mayenne, sloping,
like that of Mantes, down to a large river, has caused quite another
arrangement. The river is here the main point for attack and defence as
well as for traffic. The castle therefore does not crown the highest
point of the town, but flanks the stream with a grand range of bastions,
a miniature of the mighty pile of Philip Augustus at "black Angers."
This lower position of castles, thus returned to in later times, seems
however to have been the usual position for the fortresses of the
earliest Norman time. Before the Scandinavian conquerors were fully
settled in the country, the great point was to occupy sites commanding
the sea and the navigable rivers; it was a sign of quite another state
of things when the lord of the soil perched himself on the crest of an
inland hill. Of the earlier type of fortress we have an example in the
castle of Eu, a name whose associations may seem to be wholly modern,
but which is, in truth, as the border fortress of Normandy towards
Flanders and the doubtful land of Ponthieu between them, one of the most
historic sites in the Duchy. Eu figures prominently in the wars of Rolf;
in its church William espoused his Flemish bride; in its castle he first
received his renowned English guest.[21] The church of William's day has
given way to a superb fabric of the thirteenth century, which needs only
towers, which are strangely lacking, to rank among the finest minsters
in Normandy. The castle where William and Harold met has given way to
that well-known building of the House of Guise which lived to become the
last home of lawful royalty in France. But the site still reminds one of
the days of Rolf rather than of the days of William. It can hardly be
said to command the town; it is itself commanded by higher ground
immediately above it; town, church, castle, all seem from the
surrounding hills to lie together in a hole. But it is admirably placed
for commanding the approaches from the sea and from the low, and in
Rolf's time no doubt marshy, ground lying between the town and the
water. In exact contrast to Eu, stands the noble hill-castle of Arques,
near Dieppe, the work of William's rebellious uncle and namesake, which
he had to win by the slow process of hunger from Norman rebels and
French auxiliaries.[22] The little town, with a church of later date,
but of striking outline, lies low, lower than Eu; but the castle soars
above it, crowning a peninsular height which forms the extremity of a
long range of higher ground. The steep slopes of the hill might have
seemed defence enough, but Count William did not deem his fortress
secure without cutting an enormous fosse immediately within its circuit,
so that any one who climbed the slope of the hill would find a deep gulf
between himself and the fortress, even if he were lucky enough to escape
falling headlong. The building has been greatly enlarged in later
times, but the shell of Count William's keep, a huge massive square
tower, is still here, as perhaps are some portions of his gateway and of
his surrounding walls. The view is a noble one, and it takes in the site
of that later battle of Henry of Navarre to which Arques now owes most
of its renown, and which has gone some way to wipe out the memory of
both Williams, Count and Duke alike.

One point more. Round the lower course of the Dive all sorts of
historical associations centre. The stream divides the older and the
later Normandy, but of these the later is the truer, the land where the
old speech and the old spirit lingered longest. By its banks was fought
the battle in which Harold Blaatand rescued Normandy from the Frank, and
in which the stout Dane took captive with his own hands Lewis King of
the West-Franks, the heir and partial successor of Charles.[23] There,
too, are the causeway and bridge of Varaville, marking the site of the
ford where William's well-timed march enabled him to strike almost as
heavy a blow against the younger royalty of Paris as the Danish ally of
his forefathers had struck against the elder royalty of Laon.[24] The
French invaders of Normandy, King Henry at their head, had gorged
themselves with the plunder of the lands west of the Dive and were now
carelessly advancing towards the high ground of Auge in the direction of
Lisieux. The King with his vanguard had already climbed the hill, when
he looked round, only to behold the mass of his army cut to pieces
before the sudden onslaught of the irresistible Duke. William had
marched up from Falaise and had taken them at the right moment, almost
as Harold took his Norwegian namesake at Stamford bridge. It is one of
those spots where the story is legibly written on the scene. The
causeway is still there, and it is easy to realise the King looking on
the slaughter of his troops, and hardly withheld from rushing down to
give them help which must have proved wholly in vain. The heights from
which he looked down stretched to the sea, by the mouth of the river.
The port of Dive, now nearly choked up with sand, was then a great
haven, and there the fleet of William, assembled for the conquest of
England, lay for a whole month, waiting for the favourable winds which
never came till they had changed their position for the more auspicious
haven of Saint Valery.



THE CÔTENTIN

1876


The "pagus Constantinus," the peninsular land of Coutances, is, or ought
to be, the most Norman part of Normandy. Perhaps however it may be
needful first to explain that the Latin "pagus _Constantinus_" and the
French _Côtentin_ are simply the same word. For we have seen a French
geography-book in which _Côtentin_ was explained to mean the land of
_coasts_; the peninsular shape of the district gave it "trois côtes,"
and so it was called _Côtentin_. We cannot parallel this with the
derivation of Manorbeer from "man or bear";[25] because this last is at
least funny, while to derive Côtentin from _côte_ is simply stupid. But
it is very like a derivation which we once saw in a Swiss
geography-book, according to which the canton of Wallis or Valais was
so called "parce que c'est la plus grande _vallée_ de la Suisse." And,
what is more, a Swiss man of science, eminent in many branches of
knowledge, but not strong in etymology, thought it mere folly to call
the derivation in question. It was no good arguing when the case was as
clear as the sun at noon-day. Now, in the case of Wallis, it is
certainly much easier to say what the etymology of the name is not than
to say what it is; but in the case of the Côtentin one would have
thought that it was as clear as the sun at noon-day the other way. How
did he who derived Côtentin from _côte_ deal with other names of
districts following the same form? The _Bessin_, the land of Bayeux,
might perhaps be twisted into something funny, but the _Avranchin_ could
hardly be anything but the district of Avranches, and this one might
have given the key to the others. But both _Côtentin_ and _Bessin_
illustrate a law of the geographical nomenclature of Gaul, by which,
when a city and its district bear the same name, the name takes two
slightly different forms for the city and for the district. Thus we have
Bourges and Berry, Angers and Anjou, Périgueux and Périgord, Le Mans and
Maine.[26] So _Constantia_ has become Co_u_t_a_nces; but the adjective
_Constantinus_ has become C_ô_t_e_ntin. City and district then bear the
same Imperial name as that other Constantia on the Rhine with which
Coutances is doomed to get so often confounded. How often has one seen
Geoffrey of Mowbray described as "Bishop of Constance." In an older
writer this may be a sign that, in his day, Coutances was spoken of in
England as Constance. In a modern writer this judgment of charity is
hardly possible. It really seems as if some people thought that the
Conqueror was accompanied to England by a Bishop of the city where John
Huss was burned ages afterwards.

We have called the Côtentin a peninsula, and so it is. Sir Francis
Palgrave points out, with a kind of triumph, that the two Danish
peninsulas, the original Jütland and this of the Côtentin, are the only
two in Europe which point northward. And the Côtentin does look on the
map very much as if it were inviting settlers from more northern parts.
But the fact is that the land is not really so peninsular as it looks
and as it feels. The actual projection northward from the coast of the
Bessin or Calvados is not very great. It is the long coast to the west,
the coast which looks out on the Norman islands, the coast which forms a
right angle with the Breton coast by the Mount of Saint Michael, which
really gives the land its peninsular air. We are apt to forget that the
nearest coast due west of the city of Coutances does not lie in Europe.
We are apt further to forget that the whole of that west coast is not
Côtentin. Avranches has its district also, and the modern department of
Manche takes in both, as the modern diocese of Coutances takes in the
older dioceses of Coutances and Avranches.

Part of the Côtentin then is a true peninsula, a peninsula stretching
out a long finger to the north-west in the shape of Cape La Hague; and
this most characteristic part of the land has impressed a kind of
peninsular character on the whole region. But we must not forget that
the land of Coutances is not wholly peninsular, but also partly insular.
The Norman islands, those fragments of the duchy which remained faithful
to their natural Duke when the mainland passed under the yoke of Paris,
are essential parts of the Constantine land, diocese and county. Modern
arrangements have transferred their ecclesiastical allegiance to the
church of Winchester, and their civil allegiance to the Empire of India;
but historically those islands are that part of the land of Coutances
which remained Norman while the rest stooped to become French.[27] The
peninsula pointing northwards, with its neighbouring islands, save that
the islands lie to the west and not to the east, might pass for no inapt
figure of the northern land of the Dane. They formed a land which the
Dane was, by a kind of congruity, called on to make his own. And his
own he made it and thoroughly. Added to the Norman duchy by William
Longsword before Normans had wholly passed into Frenchmen, with the good
seed watered again by a new settlement straight from Denmark under
Harold Blaatand, the Danish land of Coutances, like the Saxon land of
Bayeux, was far slower than the lands beyond the Dive in putting on the
speech and the outward garb of France. And no part of the Norman duchy
sent forth more men or mightier, to put off that garb in the kindred, if
conquered, island, and to come back to their natural selves in the form
of Englishmen. The most Teutonic part of Normandy was the one part which
had a real grievance to avenge on Englishmen; in their land, and in
their land alone, had Englishmen, for a moment in the days of Æthelred,
shown themselves as invaders and ravagers. But before the men of the
Côtentin could show themselves as avengers at Senlac, they had first to
be themselves overthrown at Val-ès-dunes. Before William could conquer
England, he had first to conquer his own duchy by the aid of France.
Bayeux and Coutances were to have no share in the spoil of York and
Winchester till they had been themselves subdued by the joint might of
Rouen and Paris.

It is singular enough that the two most prominent names among those
which connect the Bessin and the Côtentin with England should be those
of their two Bishops, Geoffrey of Mowbray, for a while Earl of
Northumberland, and the more famous Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of
Kent. Geoffrey would deserve a higher fame than he wins by the
possession of endless manors in Domesday and by the suppression of the
West-Saxon revolt at Montacute,[28] if we could believe that, according
to a legend which is even now hardly exploded, the existing church of
Coutances is his work. William of Durham and Roger of Salisbury would
seem feeble workers in the building art beside the man who consecrated
that building in the purest style of the thirteenth century in the year
1056. According to that theory, art must have been at Coutances a
hundred and fifty years in advance of the rest of the world, and, after
about a hundred and twenty years, the rest of the world must have begun
a series of rude attempts at imitating the long-neglected model. But
without attributing to the art of Coutances or the Côtentin so
miraculous a development as this, the district was at all times fertile
in men who could build in the styles of their several ages. A journey
through the peninsula shows its scenery, so varied and in many parts so
rich, adorned by a succession of great buildings worthy of the land in
which they are placed. The great haven of the district is indeed more
favoured by nature than by art. In the name of Cherbourg mediæval
etymologists fondly saw an Imperial name yet older than that which is
borne by the whole district, and the received Latin name is no other
than _Cæsaris Burgus_. Yet it is far more likely that the name of
Cherbourg is simply the same as our own Scarborough, and that it is so
called from the rocky hills, the highest ground in the whole district,
which look down on the fortified harbour, and are themselves condemned
to help in its fortification. The rocks and the valley between them are
worthy of some better office than to watch over an uninteresting town
which has neither ancient houses to show nor yet handsome modern
streets. The chief church, though not insignificant, is French and not
Norman, and so teaches the wrong lesson to an Englishman who begins his
Côtentin studies at this point. But, four miles or so to the west, he
will find a building which is French only if we are to apply that name
to what runs every chance of being præ-Norman, the work of a day when
Rolf and William Longsword had not yet dismembered the French duchy. On
a slight eminence overhanging the sea stands Querqueville, with its
older and its newer, its lesser and its greater, church, the two
standing side by side, and with the outline of the greater--the same
triapsidal form marking both--clearly suggested by the smaller. Of the
smaller, which is very small indeed, one can hardly doubt that parts
at least are primitive Romanesque, as old as any one chooses. It is the
fellow of the little church of Montmajeur near Arles, but far ruder. But
at Querqueville the name is part of the argument; the building gives its
name to the place. The first syllable of Querqueville is plainly the
Teutonic _kirk_; and it suggests that it got the name from this church
having been left standing when most of its neighbours were destroyed in
the Scandinavian inroads which created Normandy. The building has gone
through several changes; the upper part of its very lofty tower is
clearly a late addition, but the ground-plan, and so much of the walls
as show the herring-bone work, are surely remains of a building older
than the settlement of Rolf.

[Illustration: Valognes Church, N.E.]

From the rocks of the Norman _Scarborough_, one of the only two railways
which find their way into the Côtentin will carry the traveller through
a district whose look, like that of so much of this side of Normandy, is
thoroughly English, to Valognes, with its endless fragments of old
domestic architecture, remnants of the days when Valognes was a large
and aristocratic town, and with its church, where the architect has
ventured, not wholly without success, on the bold experiment of giving
its central parts the shape of a Gothic cupola. Is its effect improved
or spoiled--it certainly is made stranger and more striking--by its
grouping with a spire of late date immediately at its side? There is
much to please at Valognes; but when we remember the part which the town
plays in the history of the Conqueror, that it was from hence, one of
his favourite dwelling-places, that he took the headlong ride which
carried him away safely from the rebellious peninsula before
Val-ès-dunes, we are inclined to grumble that all that now shows itself
in the place itself is of far later date. The castle is clean gone; and
the traveller to whom Normandy is chiefly attractive in its Norman
aspect may perhaps sacrifice the Roman remains of Alleaume if the choice
lies between them and a full examination of the castle and abbey of
Saint Saviour on the Douve, _Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte_, the home of the
two Neals, the centre, in the days of the second of the rebellions which
caused William to ride so hard from Valognes to Rye.[29] A
characteristic church or two, among them Colomby, with its long lancets,
may be taken on the way; but the great object of the journey is where
the little town of Saint Saviour lies on its slope, with the castle on
the one hand, the abbey on the other, rising above the river at its
feet. The abbey, Neal's abbey, where his monks supplanted an earlier
foundation of canons, has gone through many ups and downs. Its
Romanesque plan remained untouched through a great reconstruction of its
upper part in the later Gothic. It fell into ruin at the Revolution,
but one side of the nave and the central saddle-backed tower still
stood, and now the ruin is again a perfect church, where Sisters of
Mercy have replaced the monks of Saint Benedict. Here then a great part
of the work of the ancient lords remains; with the castle which should
be their most direct memorial the case is less clear. Besides round
towers--one great one specially which some one surely must have set down
as Phoenician--the great feature is the huge square tower which forms
the main feature of the building, and which has thoroughly the air of a
Norman keep of the eleventh or twelfth century. But when we come nearer,
there is hardly a detail--round arches of course alone prove
nothing--which does not suggest a later time. And the tower is
attributed to Sir John Chandos, who held the castle in Edward the
Third's time. Did he most ingeniously recast every detail of an elder
keep, or did he choose to build exactly according to the type of an age
long before his own? Anyhow, as far as general effect goes, the tower
thoroughly carries us back to the days of the earlier fame of Saint
Saviour. The view from its top stretches far away over the peninsula of
which it was once the citadel to the backs of the hills which look down
on Cherbourg and the sea, the sea which, if we believe the tale, bore
the fleet of Æthelred when the elder Neal drove back English invaders
more than three hundred years before Sir John Chandos.

[Illustration: Abbey of Lessay, S.W.]

The visitor to Saint Saviour may perhaps manage to make his way straight
from that place to Coutances without going back to Valognes. In any case
his main object between Saint Saviour and Coutances will be the great
Romanesque abbey of Lessay; only, by going back to Valognes and taking
the railway to Carentan, he will be able to combine with Lessay the two
very fine churches of Carentan and Periers. Of these, Carentan has
considerable Romanesque portions, the arches of the central lantern and
the pillars of the nave which have been ingeniously lengthened and made
to bear pointed arches. Lessay, we fancy, is very little known. It is
out of the way, and the country round about it, flat and dreary, is
widely different from the generally rich, and often beautiful, scenery
of the district. But few churches of its own class surpass it as an
example of an almost untouched Norman minster, not quite of the first
class in point of scale. We say untouched, because it is so practically,
though a good deal of the vaulting was most ingeniously repaired after
the English wars, just as Saint Stephen at Caen was after the Huguenot
wars. Some miles over the _landes_ bring us again into the hilly region
round the episcopal city, and Coutances is seen on its hill, truly a
city which cannot be hid. Of its lovely minster we once spoke in some
detail;[30] of the city itself we may add that none more truly bespeaks
its origin as a hill-fort. The hill is of no extraordinary height; but
it is thoroughly isolated, not forming part of a range like the hills of
Avranches and Le Mans. And, saving the open place before the
cathedral--perhaps the forum of Constantia--there is not a flat yard of
ground in Coutances. The church itself is on a slope; you walk up the
incline of one street and see the houses sloping down the incline of the
other. In the valley on the west side of the city is a singular
curiosity, several of the arches of a mediæval aqueduct.[31] Pointed
arches, and buttresses against the piers, are what we are not used to in
such buildings. A road by a few small churches leads to Granville on its
peninsula, with its strange church where Flamboyant and _Renaissance_
die away into a kind of Romanesque most unlike that of Ragusa, and the
Côtentin has been gone through from north to south. The modern
department and the modern diocese go on further; but the "pagus
Constantinus" is now done with; the land of Avranches, the march against
the Breton, has a history of its own.



THE AVRANCHIN

1876


The town of Avranches is well known as one of those Continental spots on
which Englishmen have settled down and formed a kind of little colony. A
colony of this kind has two aspects in the eyes of the traveller who
lights upon it. On the one hand, it is a nuisance to find one's self, on
sitting down to a _table-d'hôte_ in a foreign town, in the middle of
ordinary English chatter. Full of the particular part of the world in
which he is, the traveller may hear all parts of the world discussed
from some purely personal or professional aspect, without a single
original observation to add anything to his stock of ideas. On the other
hand, it must be allowed that the presence of an English settlement
anywhere always brings with it a degree of civilisation in many points
such as is not always found in towns of much greater size which our
countrymen do not frequent. But to the historical traveller Avranches is
almost dead. A few stones heaped together are all that remains of the
cathedral, and another stone marks the sight of the north door where
Henry the Second received absolution for his share in the murder of
Thomas. The city which formed the halting-place of Lanfranc on his way
from Pavia to Bec is now chiefly to be noticed for its splendid site,
and as a convenient starting-point for other places where more has been
spared. Avranches, like Coutances, is a hill-city, and, as regards
actual elevation, it is even more of a hill-city than Coutances. But
then the hill of Coutances is an isolated hill, while Avranches stands
on the projecting bluff of a range. Seen from the sands of Saint
Michael's Bay, the site proclaims itself as one which, before the fall
of its chief ornament, must have been glorious beyond words. It might
have been Laon, as it were, with, at favourable tides at least, the
estuary washing the foot of its hill. What the view is from the height
itself is implied in what has just been said. The bay, with the
consecrated Mount and the smaller Tombelaine by its side, the Breton
coast stretching far away, the Mount of Dol coming, perhaps within the
range of sight, certainly within the range of ideas, the goodly land on
either side of the city, the woods, the fields--for in the Avranchin we
are still in a land of pasture and hedgerows--all tell us that it was no
despicable heritage of his own to which Hugh of Avranches added his
palatine earldom of Chester. And if Avranches gave a lord to one great
district of England, England presently gave a lord to Avranches. The
Avranchin formed part of the fief of the Ætheling Henry, the fief so
often lost and won again, but where men had at least some moments of
order under the stern rule of the Lion of Justice, while the rest of
Normandy in the days of Robert was torn in pieces by the feuds of rival
lords and countesses. But musings of this kind would be more to the
point if the city itself had something more to show than a tower or two
of no particular importance--if, in short, the hill of Avranches was
crowned by such a diadem of spires and cupolas as the hill of Coutances.
As it is, Avranches is less attractive in itself than it is as the best
point for several excursions in the Avranchin land. The excursion to the
famous Mount of Saint Michael and its fortified abbey need not here be
dwelled on. No one can walk five minutes in the streets of Avranches
without being reminded that the city is the starting-place for "le mont
Saint-Michel." But no one suggests a visit to Saint James nor even to
Mortain and its waterfalls. Nor should we ourselves suggest a visit to
Saint James, except to those who may be satisfied with a beautiful bit
of natural scenery, heightened by the thought that the spot is directly
connected with the memory of William, indirectly with that of Harold.

When we write "Saint James," we are not translating.[32] The "castrum
sancti Jacobi" appears as "Saint James" in Wace, and it is "Saint James"
to this day alike in speech and in writing. The fact is worthy of some
notice in the puzzling history of the various forms of the apostolic
names Jacobus and Johannes and their diminutives. _Jacques_ and _Jack_
must surely be the same; how then came _Jack_ to be the diminutive of
_John_? Anyhow this Norman fortress bears the name of the Saint of
Compostela in a form chiefly familiar in Britain and Aragon, though it
is not without a cognate in the Italian _Giacomo_. The English forms of
apostolic names are sometimes borne even now by Romance-speaking owners,
as M. James Fazy and M. John Lemoinne bear witness. But here the name is
far too old for any imitative process of this kind. And it is only as
applied to the place itself that the form "James"[33] is used; the inn
is the "Hôtel Saint-Jacques," and "Saint-Jacques" is the acknowledged
patron of the parish. Anyhow the effect is to give the name of the place
an unexpectedly English air. Perhaps such an air is not wholly out of
place in the name of a spot which was fortified against the Breton by a
prince who was to become King of the English, and whose fortification
led to a war in which two future and rival Kings of the English fought
side by side.

For the castle of Saint James was one of the fortresses raised by
William's policy to strengthen the Norman frontier against the
_Bret-Welsh_ of Gaul, just as in after days he and his Earls raised
fortresses on English ground to strengthen the English frontier against
the _Bret-Welsh_ of Britain. It stands very near to the border, and we
can well understand how its building might give offence to the Breton
Count Conan, and so lead to the war in which William and Harold marched
together across the sands which surround the consecrated Mount. In this
way Saint James plays an indirect part in English history, and it plays
another when it was one of the first points of his lost territory to be
won back by Henry the Ætheling after his brothers had driven him out of
the Mount and all else that he had.[34] But the place keeps hardly
anything but its memories and the natural beauty of its site. A steep
peninsular hill looks down on a narrow and wooded valley with a
_beck_--that is the right word in the land which contains Caude_bec_ and
_Bec_ Herlouin--running round its base. The church--a strange modern
building with some ancient portions used up again--stands on the extreme
point of the promontory. This seems the best point for commanding the
whole valley, and we may perhaps guess that a less devout prince than
William would not have scrupled to raise his donjon at least within the
consecrated precinct. But he chose the southern side of the hill, the
side to be sure most directly looking towards the enemy; and church and
castle stood side by side on the hill without interfering with each
other. But the visitor to Saint James--if Saint James should ever get
any visitors--must take care not to ask for the _château_. If he does,
he will be sent to the other side of the valley, to a modern house, on a
lovely site certainly, and working in some portions of mediæval work,
but which has nothing to do with the castle of the Conqueror. The name
for that, so far as it keeps a name, is "le _fort_." The open space by
the church is the "place du Fort," and the inquirer will soon find that
on the south the hill-side is scarped and strengthened by a wall. That
is all that is left of the castle of Saint James; but it is enough to
call up memories of days which, from an English as well as from a local
point of view, are worth remembering.



COUTANCES AND SAINT-LO

1891


Geoffrey of Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances, appears once in Domesday as
Bishop of Saint-Lo, but it must not therefore be thought that he had his
bishopstool in the town so called, or that the great church of Saint-Lo
was ever the spiritual head of the peninsular land of Coutances. There
is indeed every opportunity for confusion on the subject. The Bishops of
Coutances were lords of Saint-Lo in the present department of La Manche;
but, so far as they were Bishops of Saint-Lo at all, it was of quite
another Saint-Lo, namely, of a church so called in the city of Rouen.
There, when the Côtentin was over-run by the still heathen Northmen, the
Bishops of Coutances took refuge, carrying with them Saint-Lo
himself--_Sanctus Laudus_, a predecessor in the bishopric--in the form
of his relics. When heathen Northmen were turned into Christian Normans,
the Bishops of Coutances went home again, but the title which they had
picked up on their travels seems to have stuck to them. As they had to
do with two things, both called Saint-Lo, as well as with their own
city, the error of speech was not wonderful. But, setting aside times of
havoc, when there was nothing left to be head of, Coutances always
remained the formal head, ecclesiastical and civil, of the Côtentin, the
"pagus Constantinus," which took its name from the city. The town of
Saint-Lo has now outstripped Coutances in the matter of temporal honour
as the head of the department of La Manche, though that dignity was not
assigned to it without a good deal of opposition on the part of the
elder seat of rule. The same series of changes gave to ecclesiastical
Coutances, if not a higher dignity, at least a wider jurisdiction. When
the episcopal church of Coutances, after being put to various strange
uses in the revolutionary time, became once more a place of Christian
worship and the head church of the diocese, that diocese was enlarged by
the ecclesiastical territory of Avranches. Avranches and Lisieux have
both vanished from the roll of the six suffragans of the Archbishop of
Rouen, Primate of Normandy. But Avranches has suffered worse things than
Lisieux. The Lexovian bishopstool has passed away; but the church that
held it is still there. From Avranches the church itself has vanished.
It is from its site only that we look down on the wide plain at our
foot, on the Mount of the Archangel in its bay, and the rocks of
Cancale beyond.[35]

There is no need to describe anew a building so well known as the
cathedral church of Coutances. There is no need to argue against, there
is hardly need to wonder at, the strange belief against which Gally
Knight and others had to fight, that this beautiful example of the fully
developed Early Gothic was really the work of that Bishop Geoffrey who
blessed the Norman host on its march from Hastings to Senlac.[36] That
belief was indeed a strange one. It implied that some nameless genius at
Coutances had, in the middle of the eleventh century, suddenly, at a
blow, invented the fully developed style of the thirteenth--that this
great discovery was kept hidden at Coutances till the very end of the
twelfth--that then various people in Normandy, France, England, and
above all Saint Hugh of Burgundy, began to make many, and at first not
very successful, attempts to imitate what the men of one spot in the
Côtentin had known, and must have been proud of, for a century and a
half. The local invention of Perpendicular at Gloucester, and its
spreading abroad by the great Bishops of Winchester forty or fifty years
later, is a remarkable fact; but it is a small matter to this fiction.
So strange a vagary need no longer be discussed; but it is worthy of a
place in the memory among odd delusions. As an honest delusion, it is at
least more respectable than making Alfred found things at Oxford and
Ripon.

[Illustration: Notre-Dame, Saint-Lo, S.E.]

In position, Saint-Lo, town and church, outdoes Coutances. It is, we
believe, a favourite resort of artists, and it deserves to be so. At
Coutances we are on a hill. If we draw near to it by railway, we see the
three towers of the cathedral church soaring far above us, and even the
two towers of Saint Peter are by no means on our own level. The town
stands on a height, at the end of a range of high ground; yet somehow
there is not the same feeling of a hill town about Coutances which there
is in many other places--one thing perhaps is that there is no river.
The hill of Coutances is not a hill simply rising from a plain; there
are valleys on two sides, and we ask for a stream at the bottom of them
as naturally as we do at Edinburgh. At Saint-Lo, the Vire, with the
rocky hill rising high above it, is the chief feature of the landscape.
And as we pass by on the railway and look up, the two graceful spires of
the church of Our Lady seem quite worthy of their position. We feel at
once that the characteristic feature of Normandy and England, the
central tower, is missing. But, accepting a French effect instead of a
Norman one, the impression made by Saint-Lo and its church is a very
striking one. We must go on to Coutances and come back to Saint-Lo, and
then walk along the banks of the Vire if we wish to take in the fact,
that even the spires of Saint-Lo, much less the church as a whole, have
no claim to belong to the same class of buildings as Coutances. In
neither case is the church built, as that of Avranches must have been,
like Durham, on the brow of the hill. There is a considerable space, at
Saint-Lo a busy market, between the west front and the steep. From any
point in this space the effect of the west front of Saint-Lo is striking
beyond its actual size. The towers are of different dates, and do not
altogether match, which has the effect of thrusting the central door
rather out of its place. But the front is a grand one all the same. One
must go down below, and see from how many points the towers, and even
the spires, are lost among the houses, before we find out how
comparatively small they are. And in the body of the church we see a
marked example of an opportunity thrown away. That the church is much
smaller than that of Coutances is a fact of less importance than it
would be in England. A characteristic of French architecture is the
constant reproduction of the designs of great churches on a much smaller
scale. This is a thing which we know nothing of in England, where the
parish church and the minster are buildings of two different types, each
of which may be equally good in its own way. The church of Saint Peter
at Coutances, much smaller than that of Saint-Lo, will illustrate this
position. And there are plenty of instances, from graceful miniatures
like Norrey and Les Petits Andelys up to churches of considerable size.
But at Saint-Lo, whatever little outline the church has apart from its
spires it gets from a series of gables along the aisles, something like
those of Saint Giles at Oxford. Inside we have a not very successful
_hallenkirche_, three bodies without a clerestory, Bristol-fashion. Much
of the work is good enough of its kind, and the late stained glass is
worth studying; but, as soon as we leave the west front behind there is
a strange lack of design in the whole building, inside and out.

But Notre-Dame is not the only church at Saint-Lo. Both De Caumont and
Gally Knight have a good deal to tell us about the church of Saint
Cross, which it seems that some antiquaries had carried back to the days
of Charles the Great. _Distinguendum est._ To carry back a piece of
Romanesque of any date to a date too early, but still within Romanesque
times, is a mistake of quite another kind from attributing finished work
of the thirteenth century to Geoffrey of Mowbray in the eleventh. Gally
Knight himself erred more slightly in the same way. He knew very well
that the work at Saint Cross could not be of the eighth century; but he
took it for the eleventh instead of the twelfth. No one can blame him
for that at the time when he wrote. But both Gally Knight and De Caumont
saw some things at Saint Cross which are not to be seen now, and some
things are to be seen now which they did not see. They saw a
twelfth-century church which had gone through some changes and
additions, and they also saw some considerable monastic buildings, of
part of which, a vault with what seems to be a rather classical column,
De Caumont gives a drawing. Here it is, if anywhere, that one would look
for the earlier date of Romanesque. But all outside the church itself
has perished. The church itself has, since De Caumont's visit, been
greatly enlarged in imitation of the twelfth-century work, and the
twelfth-century work itself has been frightfully scraped and scored
after the manner of restoration. Still several bays of arcade and
triforium are left in such a state that we can see the original design
of round arches with Norman mouldings on piers with shafts with foliated
caps. The church, before it was pulled about, must have been a fine one,
but assuredly of the twelfth century and not of any earlier time.

One bit of detail which Gally Knight saw may still be seen untouched.
"The west entrance," he says, "is barbarously adorned with a grotesque
group, in high relief, which represents the Subjugation of the Evil
Spirit." The power subjugated takes the shape of a creature, said to be
a toad, with his head downwards. The work of subjugation is done by two
men below pulling at his head with ropes.

Though Romanesque is the thing which one wishes most to see, yet a
church in such a case as Saint Cross at Saint-Lo teaches one less than
the smaller churches at Coutances. Both of these, Saint Peter and Saint
Nicolas, aim at reproducing on a smaller scale the most distinctive
feature of the episcopal church. This is the grand central octagon, with
its _quasi_-domical treatment inside. But in both of the smaller
churches it is coupled with a single western tower. This arrangement of
a central and western tower is rare in England, because in most of the
cases where it once existed one or other of the towers has fallen down.
In France it is somewhat more usual, and in Auvergne it is the rule.
Here at Saint Peter's a vast deal of effective and stately outline is
crowded into a wonderfully small space on the ground. The two towers,
tall and massive, rise with a strangely small allowance of nave between
them. Begun in the latest Gothic, carried out in early _Renaissance_,
their outline is rich but fantastic, and in many points of general view
the three towers of the cathedral do not despise the two of Saint
Peter's as fellows in a most effective piece of grouping. The internal
effect, which the height might have made very striking, is not equal to
the external outline. The discontinuous impost, the ugliest invention
of French Flamboyant, may perhaps be endured in some subordinate place;
it is intolerable in the main piers of a church. The treatment of the
central tower within is very curious; the lantern of the cathedral is
here translated into an Italianising style. In short we have here, as we
have seen in many places, specially at Troyes,[37] as we shall see again
in a most marked form at Argentan, that curious process of transition
from mediæval to _Renaissance_ detail which in England we are familiar
with in houses, but which in France is to be largely studied in churches
also. At Saint Nicolas, though the building is later in date and less
striking in design, such work as keeps any style at all is better. Its
nave is free from discontinuous imposts.

Lastly, at Coutances the mediæval aqueduct, a little way out of the
town, must not be forgotten. There are not many such anywhere, save one
or two in Sicily. It is a pity that of late years the ivy has been
allowed to grow over the arches to that degree that a new-comer would
hardly know whether they were round or pointed.

[Illustration: St. Nicolas, Coutances, Interior]



HAUTEVILLE-LA-GUICHARD

1891


The experienced antiquarian traveller is perfectly familiar with the
doctrine that in many cases it is more satisfactory to find a mere site
than to find anything on the site. Suppose one is castle-stalking in
Maine, suppose one is looking for primæval walls in the Volscian or the
Hernican land. If one does not find the exact thing that one wishes, the
second-best luck is to find the place where it once was, and to find
nothing there. Best of all is to find a fortress of the right age on its
mound surrounded by its ditch; next to this is to find the mound
surrounded by its ditch, but supporting nothing at all. If there is
nothing at all, there is nothing that stands in our way, whereas
anything of a later date does stand in our way. But what are we to say
when we cannot even find the site, and when the name seems meant for
some other place than that to which maps and common fame attach it? So
it is with what would be, if we could only find it, one of the most
memorable sites, in its own way of being memorable, to be found in all
Western Normandy. We say in its own way of being memorable, because,
even if we found ditch and mound and tower all as they should be, their
claim to historic reverence would not be that they themselves were the
witnesses of any specially memorable acts. Its sound has gone forth into
all lands; but it is in lands far away from the site that we seek that
the deeds were wrought which made the name of the site famous. We are at
Coutances; we seek for Hauteville. The Hauteville that we seek is not
that which seems to occur most naturally to the mind of Coutances. It is
not Hauteville-_sur-mer_; it is the namesake that bears the speaking
surname of Hauteville-_la-Guichard_. We seek, in short, for the home of
Tancred and his sons. Their statues are now again set up in their niches
on the north side of the church of Coutances. But the artist has surely
given William of the Iron Arm far too mild a look. It is true that he
and all the rest are tricked out as shepherds of the people, in royal,
or at least ducal, apparel. It may be then that even he of the Iron Arm,
when thus attired, ought not to look as one fancies he must have looked
when he sailed into the haven of Syracuse as the brother-in-arms of
George Maniakês and Harold Hardrada.

As an episode in the history of the world, one is tempted to think that
the fellowship of three such warriors as those, each representing the
tongue, the speech, and the mode of warfare of his own folk, is the most
striking scene in the whole story of the house of Hauteville. But it is
naturally the brother whose deeds have had more abiding results who has
made the deepest impression on the minds of men, and who has stamped his
surname on the place of his birth. One might almost have been better
pleased if Hauteville were known as the Hauteville of Tancred himself
rather than by the name of any of his sons. But, if it was to bear the
name of one of his sons, one cannot wonder at the son who was chosen.
Hauteville is Hauteville-_la-Guichard_, the Hauteville of Robert the
_Wiscard_, him whom Palermo knows in one character and Rome in another.
A good deal of local history lies hid in these surnames of places. The
place took the name of its lord to distinguish it from other places of
the same name. But we cannot always say why it took the name of this or
that particular lord, that is, in effect, why it took its name in this
or that particular generation. Old Roger of Beaumont, who stayed to look
after Normandy and its duchess while Duke William went to seek a crown
in England, is so distinctly Roger of Beaumont that it seems only fair
that his Beaumont should be known back again as the Beaumont of
Roger.[38] His sons are of Meulan, of Leicester, of Warwick, rather
than of Beaumont. Beaumont-_le-Roger_ is felt at once to be the becoming
name of his home. Nearer to Hauteville, Saint-Jean, between Avranches
and Granville, cradle of all who have written themselves _de sancto
Iohanne_, is Saint-Jean-_le-Thomas_, after Thomas, its lord in the days
of Henry the First. His name is written in Orderic, but he is hardly so
famous even as the name-father of Beaumont, much less as the name-father
of Hauteville. One needs to know the exact state of things at Saint-Jean
in the days of Thomas, before one can tell why the place took his name
as its surname rather than the name of any other lord before or after.
But mark that it was the Christian name only that Saint-Jean could take;
it could not, like _La Lande-Patry_ and _Longueville-Giffart_, take the
surname of the house which was called after itself. But if Hauteville
had to take the name of a Tancreding, Robert was the obvious one to
choose, and his surname of the _Wiscard_ was the most distinctive name
that the family could show. The fame of Robert, the actual founder of
the Apulian duchy and indirectly of the Sicilian kingdom, the ally of
Gregory the Seventh, the deliverer or the destroyer of Rome, the invader
of Eastern Europe, must have quite overshadowed the fame of his elder
brothers. And, while he lived, it must have overshadowed the fame of
Roger of Sicily also.[39] The Great Count was the younger brother and
the liegeman of the Duke. It was later events which caused the youngest
branch of the house of Hauteville to outstrip all that had gone before
it, to rise in the next generation to the royal crown of Sicily, and in
the female line to the crown of Jerusalem and the crown of Rome.

It is then the Hauteville of Robert Wiscard, Hauteville-la-Guichard,
that we seek for. As far as the map goes, as far as the road goes, there
is no difficulty. But it is a strange thing that in such books as we are
able to carry with us we can find no account of Hauteville whatever.
Joanne does not mention it; Murray does not mention it; it does not come
within the range of De Caumont's _Statistique Routière de la Basse
Normandie_. A little local book on Coutances and its neighbourhood looks
upon Hauteville either as too far off or unworthy of notice. Yet the
distance at least, as the map witnesses, is not frightful, and one would
have thought that the mere fact of the setting up of the new statues
would have awakened the writer of the Coutances guidebook to the fact
that such a spot was not far off. Anyhow, if all refuse to describe, the
place seems to describe itself. _Hauteville_, _Alta Villa_, must surely
be what its name implies. We may have unluckily forgotten the warning of
Geoffrey Malaterra that Hauteville was not so much called from the
height of any hill ("non quidem tantum pro excellentia alicuius montis
in quo sita sit"), but rather prophetically, from the height of power
and glory to which men who went from it should climb ("sed quoniam, ut
credimus, aliquo auspicio ad considerationem praenotantis eventum et
prosperos successus eiusdem villae futurorum haeredum, Dei adiutorio et
sua presenuitate gradatim altioris honoris culmen scandentium"). We look
then for a high place. It might be bold to expect to see the high place
crowned by any actual building of the days of Tancred; but it seems only
reasonable to argue that Hauteville must be _Hauteville_, that it must
stand high. We feel sure of finding, perhaps, if our hopes are very
daring, the eagle's nest on the top of the rock, or perhaps, what in
Norman scenery is far more likely, the mound, natural or artificial,
with its ditches, rivals, it may be, of Arques. And, where there is so
little chance of finding any building of Tancred's own day, we cherish
the hope that the site of his dwelling may stand wholly void, and may
not have been turned to support any other building of later times.

In this fairly hopeful frame of mind, we set forth from Coutances to the
north-east. The path at least is easy enough. After some miles of _route
nationale_, with a fine view of the towers of Coutances for those who
look backwards, we turn off into a _route départementale_. And all who
are used to French roads know well that a _route nationale_ is always
excellent, and that a _route départementale_ is always endurable and
something more. We have one or two gentle ups and downs; but we neither
see nor feel anything to suggest the presence or the neighbourhood of an
_alta villa_. Presently a gentle down rather than a gentle up brings us
to a small village, a church with a good example of the usual
saddle-back tower, and with a few houses around it. We are told, and the
ordnance map confirms the statement, that this is Hauteville,
Hauteville-la-Guichard. Here then is the home of the Norman gentleman of
the twelfth century, whose sons grew into counts and dukes in the
southern lands, and whose remoter descendants wore the crowns of
kingship and of Empire. With this knowledge, we are staggered to find
ourselves, if not actually in a hole, yet in something much nearer to a
hole than to a height, in a spot which, of the two, would seem to be
more fittingly called _Basseville_ than _Haute_. A slightly rising
ground to the east of the church kindles again some faint hopes, the
more so when the bystanders, again confirmed by the map, point out this
direction as the way to the _château_. But _château_, in modern French
use, is a dangerous word, and even the higher ground did not at all
answer our preconceived notion of Hauteville. Still, not to throw away
the faintest chance, we go on in the direction pointed out, trusting to
our natural wits, for we had nothing else to guide us. Our books had
failed us; nor did we, as sometimes happens, light on some intelligent
priest or other person more likely to help us than the ordinary
villager. A short further drive through two or three narrower roads and
their turnings brings us to a spot beyond which there is clearly nothing
"carossable" or even "jackassable." We come to two ranges of buildings
standing among fields, buildings which have greatly gone down in the
world, but which proclaim themselves as the remains of a _château_ in
the later French sense, or perhaps only of its outhouses. The modern
_château_ does indeed often enough stand on the site of the ancient
_castle_; but here were no signs whatever of mound or ditch, though we
ran into several fields to look for them. And, though we were certainly
on higher ground than the church and village, there was nothing at all
to suggest why the name of the place should have been called Hauteville.

The only hope now is to go back to the village, on the chance either of
finding out something more by the light of nature or of lighting on some
one who can tell us something. To the south of the church, as to the
east, there is some ground rather higher than the village itself; but we
see nothing of a mound, nothing to suggest an _alta villa_. But some
farm-buildings to the west of the church attract the eye; they are not
of yesterday; a round tower, seemingly belonging to a gateway, suggests
a _château_ which has taken the place of a _château-fort_. And, hard
by, some of our company are led, perhaps by their noses, to an undoubted
ditch, though not exactly a fellow of Arques, Marsala, or Old Sarum. And
it is more than a common ditch; it is deep; it is four-sided, and it
fences in a distinct plot of ground. Our thoughts have come down so low
from the lofty donjon with the vision of which we set out that we begin
to think of the smaller kind of moated houses in our own land. The
rectory at Slymbridge in Gloucestershire had, some years back at least,
a moat round it. Some traces of a moat were not long ago still to be
seen at the Bishop's court-house at Wookey in Somerset. Is it possible
that this unsavoury ditch really marks out the home precinct of the
father of kings? Can it be that Tancred lived within it, perhaps in a
wooden house, defended by a palisade and by such a ditch? We do not like
the guess, but we have no better, and it really is not so absurd as it
sounds. We must remember that, in Tancred's day, at least in Tancred's
youth, the existence of stone castles is a little problematical. It is
certain that there are few or none left of so early a date; but Normandy
has seen so many seasons of the destruction of castles that it is rash
to say positively that there never were any. In Tancred's day and later
we often hear of the "_domus defensabilis_," as distinguished from the
castle. And, as the famous one at Brionne, which so long defied the arms
of Duke William, is defined as "_aula lapidea_,"[40] it seems implied
that a "_domus defensabilis_" might be only "_lignea_." To be sure the
stone house at Brionne had in the river Rille a ready-made moat in every
way better than the ditch that we have stumbled on at Hauteville. In
England, at the same time, we should have been perfectly satisfied with
a wooden "aula" as the dwelling place of a powerful thegn, but then we
should have looked for it on something of a mound, like the home of
Wiggod at Wallingford. Certainly, a frightfully stinking ditch of no
great width, compassing a square field, is a poor find after the hopes
with which we set out. But, in the absence of all help from books or
men, it is all that we have to offer. We should be glad if anybody would
tell us of something better; but this is all we could make out for
ourselves. The name is hardly a greater difficulty on this lower site
than on the higher ground of the _château_. It may be then--we hope it
is not so, but it may be--that it was within this ditch that Humphrey
and Drogo and William of the Iron Arm were so carefully brought up by
their good stepmother, that it was here that the Wiscard played his
first childish tricks, with the yet smaller Roger as a willing younger
brother. Tancred's estate, we are told, was not large enough to feed his
two batches of children; that was the reason why they went to seek
their fortunes so far off. If they had stayed at home, the estate might
possibly have grown; for we are told by their own biographer that it was
the nature of the sons of Tancred, when they saw that anybody else had
anything, to take it to themselves. Perhaps this dangerous tendency
extended only to misbelievers, schismatics, or at least men of other
tongues. Otherwise such vigorous annexers of other men's lands might
have found more than one chance at home, in days of confusion, of
enlarging the estate of Hauteville. In short we may speculate on many
matters; we can only say what we have seen and what we have not. And at
the last moment a frightful thought comes upon us. We have with us one
book of Gally Knight's, but it is only the Norman book. But he wrote
another book, in which the house of Hauteville plays a great part. What
if he went to Hauteville and found out all about it and put it all in
print, only not in his Norman, but in his Sicilian book.



MORTAIN AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

1892


In the course either of a Norman journey or of any study of Norman
matters, the thought is constantly suggesting itself that there is an
important class of people who are always using the names of the places
through which we go, but who seem to attach no meaning to them. The
whole tribe of genealogists, local antiquaries, and the like, are, in
the nature of things, constantly speaking of Norman places, or at least
of the families which take their names from them. But it never seems to
come into their heads that these places are real places still in being
on the face of the earth. What was the state of mind of the endless
people who have spoken of both King Stephen and King John in earlier
stages of being by the strange title of "Earl of Moreton"? Do they think
they took their title from Moreton-in-the-Marsh, or do they mix those
kings up with the Earl of Moreton in Scotland, who died by the maiden a
good while later? And, if they try to improve their spelling, and to
give it more of a continental look, perhaps he comes out in some such
shape as "Count of Mortaigne." That is to say, no distinction is made
between _Mortain_, _Moretolium_ or _Moretonium_, in the Avranchin, and
_Mortagne_, _Mauritania_, in Perche. Yet the two towns are both there,
each in its old place, though in official speech we have no longer to
speak of the Avranchin, but of the department of La Manche, no longer of
Perche, but of the department of Orne. There are railways, branch
railways certainly, which lead to both; there is no difficulty in
getting to either, and Mortain at least, the one most closely connected
with our own history, is very well worth going to indeed.

The position of Mortain, to say nothing else, is certainly one of the
most beautiful to be found in any region which does not aspire to the
sublimity of mountain scenery. The waterfalls have been famous ever
since Sir Francis Palgrave connected them with the story of the place
and its counts. But the whole position of town, castle, everything about
Mortain, is lovely. The town itself in a strange way suggests Taormina.
It stands in somewhat the same sort on a kind of ledge on a hill-side,
with higher hills rising behind it. But while Taormina looks straight
down on the Ionian Sea, Mortain looks down only on the narrow dale of
the little river Cance, with its steep banks rising on the other side.
Yet there are spots among the limestone rocks which rise about and above
Mortain which call up other Sicilian memories. If the traveller intrusts
himself to the care of a local guide he will certainly be carried to the
little chapel of Saint Michael overhanging the town. From that height he
will be rewarded by a wide view, the most part of which, over the rich
Norman plain, is as unlike Sicily as may be. But, on another side, the
greater Mount of the Archangel may be seen far away floating on its bay,
and the position of the chapel itself--old, but modernised and no great
work of art--called up for a moment that chapel of Saint Blaise on the
Akragantine rocks, which once was the temple of Dêmêtêr and her Child.
And, if one only had the means of finding out, it may be that the
Archangel displaced some Celtic powers, such as those which Gregory of
Tours still knew as abiding on the Puy de Dôme of Auvergne. But the life
of Mortain as Mortain is, or rather as Mortain, with its counts and its
canons, once was, began at a lower point, at a point lower than the town
itself. The Moretolian akropolis, like some others, was not an akropolis
in the literal sense, for the good reason that the point of most value
for military purposes was not the most lofty. The windings of the little
stream allow of the projection of a bold peninsular rock, joined by a
kind of isthmus to the main hill on which the town stands. Here stood
the castle; town and church rise above it, and higher hills rise above
town and church. But no higher point was so well suited for the purposes
of a great and strong fortress. On that spot therefore the castle of
Mortain arose; the town, the church, the suburb on the opposite height
with its smaller church, the house of nuns above the waterfalls, the
Archangel's chapel on the highest point of all, were alike satellites of
the castle. They came into being, because the castle had come into
being. Count Robert, the brother of the Conqueror, founded the great
church of Mortain; but he founded it only because some one before him
had founded the castle.

The castle is gone; a few pieces of wall on the rock are all that
remains. Mortain is now ruled, not by a count, but by a sub-prefect, and
the sub-prefect has made his home on the site of the home of the count.
The sub-prefect of Mortain is therefore in one sort to be envied above
all sub-prefects, and even prefects too. Such functionaries are commonly
quartered in some dull spot in the middle of a town. The sub-prefect of
Mortain dwells, and doubtless goes through the duties of his
sub-prefecture, in a fair house in a fair garden. That house is the
_château_ that is, on the site of the _château-fort_ that was, looking
down on the valley, looking up at the hills, looking across at the
church which marks the hermitage of the Blessed Vital. Whether from any
point he can actually look over on the lesser waterfall, one must be the
sub-prefect or his guest to know. Such is the change, and perhaps one
should not regret it; a sub-prefect is certainly a more peaceful
representative of authority than a mediæval count. But he is less
picturesque and less ancient; and his dwelling follows the pattern of
its inhabitant. Sub-prefects are a fruit of the principles of 1789, and
it would doubtless be easy to find out who was the first of the
sub-prefects of Mortain. Nor is it hard to find out who was the first of
the counts. We came upon him in Malger, son of Duke Richard the
Fearless. But we are tempted to think that the first of the counts of
Mortain need not have been absolutely the first man to make himself a
stronghold on the peninsula rock of Mortain, whether for his own defence
or for the better harrying of his neighbours.

From Count Malger the castle of Mortain, and all that went with the
castle of Mortain, passed to his son William the Warling.[41] Such seems
to be the obvious English shape of _Warlencus_; but we have a natural
curiosity to know what a _Warling_ is, and why William was so called.
The name has an attractive sound, and some have seen in it that same
approach to a _warlock_ which Gibbon saw to a _wiseacre_ in the surname
of Robert Wiscard. We have also a natural curiosity to know whether
Duke William really had any good reason for banishing him, and thereby
giving the Wiscard another comrade in the Apulian wars. We care more for
the reputation of William the Great than for that of William the
Warling: the accuser of the Warling too was the first recorded
Bigod.[42] That is, he was the first who bore that name as a surname;
for Normans in general were scoffed at by Frenchmen as _bigods_,
_bigots_,--never mind the spelling or the meaning--and also as drinkers
of beer. We have that reverence for a much later Bigod that we had
rather not think that any Bigod told lies; but there is an awkward oath
which an intermediate Bigod took at the time of the election of Stephen.
So we will not venture to go beyond the fact that Duke William gave the
lands of the Warling to his half-brother Robert. We know him on Senlac;
we know him in Cornwall; we know him through all the western lands; we
know him most of all on that Montacute of his founding which once was
Leodgaresburh, scene of the Invention of the Holy Cross of Waltham.[43]

The West-Saxon knew Count Robert only as a spoiler, the Norman of
Mortain knew him as a great ecclesiastical founder. In 1082 he founded
the collegiate church of Saint Evroul "in castro Moretonii" for a Dean
and eight Canons, to whom seven more were added by other benefactors. He
also built or rebuilt the church, and, just as in the case of Harold at
Waltham, the language of the charter seems to imply that he built the
church first and then founded the canons to serve in it. There was a
time--it seems not so very long ago--when Gally Knight had to fight
against people who believed that the present church was of Count
Robert's own building. So to believe was indeed one degree less
grotesque than to believe that the far more advanced church of Coutances
was earlier still. Gally Knight easily saw that there was nothing in the
church which could be of Count Robert's time except the fine Romanesque
doorway on the south side. And even that we should now call too advanced
for Count Robert's own work; we should set it down for the last finish
of a building which doubtless took some time to make complete in all its
parts.

It is common enough in England to find a grand doorway of the twelfth
century left in a church where everything else has been rebuilt. Later
builders clearly admired them and spared them. Much more would this be
the case at Mortain, where the building of the new church must have
begun no very long time after the adding of this last finish to the old.
The style of the building is Transition, and advanced Transition; it is
all but early Gothic. The pointed arch alone is used; the only trace of
Romanesque feeling is to be seen in the short columns of the arcade, and
in the extreme simplicity of the triforium and clerestory, a single
unadorned lancet in each. The vaulting is naturally a little later; that
at least, with the English-looking shafts from which it springs, is in
the fully developed Pointed style.

The plan of the church of Saint Evroul, Mortain, is as simple as a
church that has aisles can be. We were going to say that it is a perfect
basilica; but no; the basilica commonly has the transepts and the arch
of triumph. At Mortain the same simple arcade runs round nave, choir,
and apse without break of any kind. Within the building the effect of
this austere and untouched simplicity--no one at Mortain has altered a
window or added a chapel--is perfectly satisfactory. Many buildings are
larger and more enriched; not many can be said to be more perfect
wholes. Save in the matter of multiplied aisles within and flying
buttresses without, Mortain may pass for Bourges in small. And, just as
at Bourges, the external outline is less satisfactory than the internal
effect. A single body of this kind has in itself no outline at all; it
depends on its tower or towers. At Mortain the usual central tower of a
great Norman church could not be; but neither has Saint Evroul the two
Western towers of Saint-Lo and Séez; the arrangement designed was rather
a development of the side towers common in the smaller churches of the
district. A tower on each side was designed and begun. They stand near
the east end; but they are not eastern towers like those of Geneva and
many German churches. They stand outside the aisles, so as not to
interrupt the continuous design within. They therefore do not really
group with the apse; they are detached towers whose lowest stage just
touches that of the church. But we are speaking as if both towers were
there. In truth only the southern one was carried up, and that only to a
height very little above the ridge of the roof, and there furnished with
a saddle-back. Such a tower lends the building hardly any increase of
outline in the distance, and in a near view it is chiefly remarkable for
the oddness of the wonderfully long coupled windows on the west side,
which are not continued all round. Save only the simple and graceful
west front and the general goodness of the design and execution, the
beauties of the church of Mortain are certainly to be sought within.

The castle looks up at the church, which stands on the rather steep
slope of the hill, the effect of which is that the east end can hardly
be seen, except from a considerable distance. Above it is the _hospice_,
with the fragment of a church with a saddle-back to its central tower.
Above again is the chapel of Saint Michael. Of quite another value from
Saint Michael is a church a little way out of Mortain, in the near
neighbourhood of the waterfalls, with rocks above it and rocks below.
This is the church of nuns known as _l'Abbaye Blanche_, a foundation of
Count William of Mortain in 1105. As the next year he was taken at
Tinchebray and kept in prison for the rest of his days, he was not
likely to do much in the way of building. The church described long ago
by Gally Knight and De Caumont is palpably later than his day. It is of
the Transition, and it is a much less advanced example of the Transition
than the church of Mortain. Whatever Count William meant to found, the
actual house was Cistercian, and the church carries Cistercian severity
to its extremest point. One thinks of Kirkstall; but Kirkstall, plain as
it is, drew majesty from its grand and simple outline; the White Abbey
is small; it has, through the lack of a central tower, no outline
without, and its small scale hinders the effect of Kirkstall.[44] One
might even say that, in buildings of this class--not in those of more
elaborate design--something is gained, as with the monuments of Rome, by
being somewhat out of repair. Anyhow, in connexion with Mortain, the
White Abbey does not lack architectural importance. It is very odd if
anybody took the collegiate church to be the older. The White Abbey is a
truly Cistercian building, a simple cross with a flat east end, no
aisles to the nave, but chapels east of the transepts. It follows the
usual law of Transitional buildings. The main constructive arches are
pointed; the windows are round-headed in the eastern part, pointed in
the western. The cloister and chapter-house have round arches; the
remains of the cloister have small single shafts, not the Saracenic
coupling to which we have got used in Italy, Sicily, and Southern Gaul.
In an odd position to the west of the church, forbidding any west front,
is an undercroft with columns with good, but not very rich,
twelfth-century capitals, clearly of a piece with the cloister.

Lastly, on the opposite side of the valley, forming a picturesque object
on the road from Mortain to the White Abbey, is the small plain church
of Neufbourg. The spot marks the solitary dwelling of the Blessed Vital,
him who strove to make peace between the contending brothers at
Tinchebray, and who gave up his prebend at Mortain and all that he had,
to dwell as a hermit amid the woods and rocks.[45] The church, bating a
few later insertions, is a perfect Transitional cross church, with a
flat east end and no aisles. In this part of Normandy the small churches
that one lights on in the villages, though commonly of pleasing
outline, have seldom any remarkable work. In this they are distinguished
in a marked way from the wonderful series of parish churches round Caen
and Bayeux. Those we are tempted to compare with the churches of our own
Holland, Marshland, and Northern Northamptonshire. But the comparison
does not strictly apply. In each case there is a series of notable
churches which never were collegiate or monastic. But in the English
district the churches are, as parish churches, of considerable size,
sometimes indeed very large, though never affecting the character of a
minster. The churches in the Bessin are mainly small, but of singular
excellence of work, largely Romanesque of the twelfth century. We may
come to some of them before we have done.



MORTAIN TO ARGENTAN

1892


One great object in the parts of Mortain is to see the historic site of
Tinchebray, so closely connected with Mortain in its history, though the
two places are, and seem always to have been, in different divisions,
ecclesiastical and civil. We debate whether Tinchebray can be best got
at from Mortain, Vire, or Flers. Mortain would be the best way by
railway, if only trains ran on every part of the line. But between
Sourdeval and Tinchebray no trains now run. We rule then that Tinchebray
will be best got at by road from Flers, and owing to the gap on the
railway, the way by train from Mortain to Flers is by Vire. We thus get
a few hours at Vire. It is the Feast of the Assumption; the great church
is crowded with worshippers. It is therefore impossible to make a study
of its interior. But we can see that it has a grand nave, nearly of the
same style as Mortain, but loftier. There are many additions and changes
in the later styles, and the only tower is at the side and of no great
height. We would fain see more of this church on some less venerated
day. Then there is the gateway with the tower-belfry; there is the
donjon on its mound, crowning another of the peninsular heights on which
castles rose, this time a real peninsula, with the river below from
which the town takes its name. There is a glimpse to be taken of the
famous valley of Vire, and we go back to the station to betake us to
Flers. It is not altogether for the sake of its own merits that we go to
Flers, but because we have ruled that it is on the whole the best place
from whence to make the journey to Tinchebray. Flers, we imagine, is as
old as other places; but there seems to be nothing to say about it. It
has no church of any importance, it has a respectable castle of late
mediæval lines, standing in a real moat. This has become in an odd way a
dependency of a later house, which happily has not swallowed it up.
Flers itself has of late years risen to some importance as a
manufacturing town. And we are bound to say that these French
manufacturing towns look much cleaner and tidier than their fellows in
England. But for historical and antiquarian purposes Flers counts for
very little. And it is, after all, possible that it may not be the best
starting point for Tinchebray. We cannot say till we have made the
attempt from Vire.

We had meant to go by carriage from Flers to Tinchebray, and to take on
the way La Lande-Patry the house of that William Patry who appears in
Wace as having entertained Earl Harold as a guest at the time of his
stay in Normandy. And we did get to La Lande-Patry another day. Strange
to say, while De Caumont spoke of traces of the castle in the past
tense, Joanne, so much later, spoke of them in the present. At any rate,
the thing was worth trying; one might at least muse on the spot. We
found the place a little way from Flers, a church and a few houses,
called distinctively La Lande-patry, as distinguished from a
neighbouring village called by some such name as _La Fontaine de Patry_.
The church is not quite wholly new, though it is mostly so; but there is
nothing that could have been built or looked on by any one who received
Harold. Nor do we distinctly see anything in the way of mounds or
ditches. And yet we flatter ourselves that we have lighted on the site.
He who has read Wace's story of Duke William's ride from Valognes and of
his greeting by Hubert of Rye will remember how Hubert was standing
"entre le moutier et la motte."[46] The "moutier" and the "motte," the
church and the castle, have, in these places, a way of standing near
together. So, having got the church and marked that it stands on a bit
of high ground with a slope to the south-east, we run down a lane and
into a field to the north-west, and there find a charming site for the
"motte." The little hill rises with a fair amount of steepness above a
flat piece of land with a small stream wriggling about in it. Then we go
on and find that there is a near slope to the north-east also, so we
have our "moutier" and the almost certain site of our "motte." They are
fixed, as they should be, on one end of a peninsular hill, though we
must confess that the hill is not very lofty. Here then, we feel fairly
satisfied, it was that William Patry--written, it seems, in Latin
_Patricius_--welcomed as a peaceful guest the Earl whom in after-days he
was to meet in arms as King on the day of the great battle.[47]

But Tinchebray is much more than La Lande-Patry, and the site is much
more certain. There it was, as Englishmen at the time deemed, that the
assize of God's judgment on Senlac was reversed after forty years.[48]
England had been won by the Duke of the Normans; Normandy was now to be
won by a King of the English. To be sure the English King was the son of
the Norman Duke; but he was born in England; he spoke the English
tongue; Englishmen had chosen him to be their king rather than his
purely Norman brother. King Henry's host was most likely far more
largely Norman--specially West-Norman--than English; the chief men above
all were Norman; still there were Englishmen in it, and those
Englishmen looked on the fight as a national struggle and on the result
as a national victory. William of Malmesbury witnesses to the feeling;
it is odd that there is not a word of it in "Ordericus Angligena,"
writing at Saint-Evroul. We read our Orderic; we read the little that
there is in Wace; we read the contemporary account in a letter by a
Norman partisan of Henry. We then go forth to make out what we can of
the site, knowing perfectly well that we shall not find a castle
standing up as at Falaise.

The railway takes us from Flers to Montsecret junction, and from
Montsecret junction to Tinchebray station. We are looking out for a
possible site for the battle, and we soon rule that the ground where the
station itself stands, the flat ground to the north of the town, will do
perfectly well for the purpose; but we do not as yet know whether there
may not be some other site which may do equally well. We walk up from
the station, and we find Tinchebray itself a somewhat larger town than
we had looked for, though still but small. It strikes us almost at once
that it is a town of the same class as Carlisle, Stirling, and
Edinburgh, where a single long street, with more or less of slope, leads
up to a castle at one end. Here at Tinchebray it is the east end, where
the castle hill rises boldly enough over the little stream of the
Noireau, the Norman Blackwater, which gives a surname to that Condé
which became the seat of princes. On the opposite side of the narrow and
grassy valley rise higher hills on which King Henry may well have
planted his _Malvoisin_. To the south, the hills have withdrawn to a
greater distance; the castle hill rises above a meadow which in times
past seems to have been a marsh. On the northern side, the hill slopes
away more gradually to the plain. Here the castle must have trusted
wholly to its own defences. It is on this north side only, where the
railway runs, that the battle could have been fought. For the fight of
Tinchebray really was a battle, one of the very few pitched battles of
the age. The campaign indeed began in an attack on the fortress; but it
grew into something more on both sides. And it is only to the north that
there was room for the operations of two armies of any size; the earlier
besieging could take place from all points, but specially, one would
think, from the east and north. But we have to make out these things as
well as we can from the look of the ground. The contemporary accounts
give us the facts; but they give them without local colouring.

Of the buildings of the castle fairly full accounts have been preserved,
which may be studied in a History of Tinchebray in three volumes by the
Abbé L.V. Dumaine (Paris: 1883). It is a book most praiseworthy for
bringing together all manner of local facts of all manner of dates. And
it is full of plans and plates to illustrate particular subjects. For
historical criticism we do not look; but we should have liked a clear
plan of the castle and town, and, if possible, the reproduction of some
old drawing of the castle, such as one often finds. As things are, we
have to put up with M. Dumaine's description. Towards the river and the
marsh the castle trusted mainly to its natural defences; but at least on
the side towards the town it had a ditch which has now vanished. The
gates are gone, but the likeness survives of a building near the eastern
gate with two pointed arches rising from a pillar, known as _Les
Porches_. Here was the _Champ Belle-Noe_, and on the hill on the
opposite site of the valley was _Beaulieu_. The names were not ill
deserved; the stream and its accompaniments make a pleasant look-out.
But of the buildings of the castle nothing now is left; the utmost that
we can do is to make out, not the eastern gate itself, but its site. No
walls and bulwarks stand up; we must be content with calling up an
imagination what there once was. But that is enough; the castle of
Henry's day standing up would be best of all; a simple empty space would
be next best; but the scattered buildings of the little suburb which
occupies the castle site do not seriously hinder us from understanding
what we want to understand. In other lines all that Tinchebray has to
show is a desecrated fragment of the church of Saint Remigius just
outside the castle. Here is a central tower with a very short eastern
limb. On the eastern face of the tower is a Romanesque arcade, so very
simple and even rude that one is inclined to assign it to a time a good
bit earlier than the day of Tinchebray. But there is no such arcade on
the other sides, and the western arch of the tower is pointed. What are
we to infer when the place is locked and it is hopeless trying to get
the key? We do at least remember that the four lantern-arches at Saint
David's are not all of the same date; and we hope that, whenever the
pointed arch was made, the plain arcade was there on the 28th day of
September, 1106, just forty years after the father of the contending
princes had landed at Pevensey.

Our accounts are not very clear in their topography, and they do not
distinctly point out the site of the battle. The relieving force under
Duke Robert and Count William came from Mortain--that is, from the
south-west. A striking tale is told of their march. In crossing the
forest of _Lande-Pourrie_ to the south of Tinchebray the army heard mass
under a tree from the mouth of Vital, the holy solitary of Neufbourg.
Count William was his lord, if one who had renounced the world could be
said to have an earthly lord, and he was only in his allegiance if he
accompanied the forces of Mortain. The object of the holy man was to
reconcile the brothers, and he made an attempt on the mind of Henry
also. But, according to Orderic, the King of the English was able to
show that the fault rested wholly with Robert, and that he himself had
entered Normandy only from the purest motives. Anyhow arms were to
decide. Only on what spot? The south side of the castle, the natural
approach from Mortain, gave no opportunities for fighting an open
battle, hardly even for an assault on the castle. The ducal army, with
William of Mortain and the terrible Robert of Bellême, must have gone
round to some other point. The name of _Champ Henriet_, borne by a site
to the west of the town, therefore away from the castle, does not seem
to prove much. The north side seems to furnish the best fighting-ground,
and it is the weakest side of the castle. The King's forces would most
likely be on that side, and the Duke would come round to attack them.
But one cannot pretend to certainty.

The combatants, some of them, awaken a more lively interest than the
immediate scene of their exploits. It is hard to throw ourselves into
the feeling of those men of the time who saw in the fight of Tinchebray
a national victory of Englishmen over Normans. In some sort it was so;
from that day no once could say that a Duke of the Normans held England;
it was the King of the English who held Normandy. And the invasion of
Normandy by Englishmen and their King, and the fighting of the
victorious battle on the forty years' anniversary of the Conqueror's
landing, could not have failed to strike men's minds. One strange
turning-about of things indeed there was. The man whom Englishmen had
once chosen as their King, the heir of Alfred, Cerdic, and Woden, fought
at Tinchebray in the following of Duke Robert. Eadgar and Robert had
been comrades in the Crusade, and the two men were not unlike in
character. Neither could ever act for himself; both could sometimes act
for others. And if Eadgar thought at all, he may have seen a rival in
Henry, while he assuredly could not have seen one in Robert. Anyhow the
Ætheling who had marched on York with Waltheof and Mærleswegen now
marched on Tinchebray with William of Mortain and Robert of Bellême.
Englishmen may well have seen a truer countryman in the son of the
Conqueror, born in England, chosen to his crown by Englishmen and
leading Englishmen to battle, than in the grandson of Æthelred, born in
Hungary, and fighting alongside of the foreign oppressors whom England
and her King had cast out. And the best and the worst of the warrior
princes and nobles of the time were there on opposite sides. With Duke
Robert came Robert of Bellême, no longer of Shrewsbury or Arundel. With
King Henry came the Count of Maine, Helias of La Flèche.

Orderic witnesses to the presence of Englishmen in the battle. The
contemporary letter-writer only implies it by mentioning others, of whom
he speaks a little scornfully, as well as the men of Bayeux, Avranches,
and Coutances, and the Breton and Mansel allies. When Robert of Torigny
speaks of the "acies Anglorum," he doubtless simply means, according to
a very common form of speech, the force of the King of the English,
whatever they might be, either "genere" or "natione." But all who were
under the King's immediate command had in some sort to become Englishmen
in the hour of battle. Like Brihtnoth and Harold, King Henry stood and
waited for the enemy on foot. So did Randolf of Bayeux and the younger
William of Warren; so did the wary counsellor who had little love for
Englishmen, Robert of Beaumont, Count of Meulan, and presently to be
Earl of Leicester, forefather in the female line of another Earl who
loved them well. Seven hundred horsemen only kept the two flanks of the
infantry. The main body of the horse, Breton and Mansel, stood apart.
King Henry's footmen, perhaps with some little advantage of the ground,
stood as firm in their ranks as the fathers of some of them had stood
forty years before when the lord of Meulan was foremost in the charge
against them. They bore up against every charge of the ducal force till
Count Helias, with his reserve, chose a happy moment and broke in on
their assailants with his horsemen. The lord of Bellême fled for his
life; the Duke of the Normans and the Count of Mortain became the
prisoners of their conqueror and near kinsman.

The prison of Count William was a strait one. Henry might fairly look on
him as a traitor, and it was the general belief that he paid for his
treason with his eyes. Here we may perhaps see the groundwork for the
foolish story that Duke Robert's fate was equally hard. But Henry was
far too wise to commit so useless a crime. The captive Duke spent the
remaining twenty-eight years of his life in this castle, and that,
treated with all honour, but kept under such restraint as was needful,
specially after he had once tried to get away altogether. He did not
even cease to be Duke of the Normans. His brother administered his duchy
for him; but he never took the ducal title while Robert lived. Robert,
in short, was in much the same case as Henry III. was at the hands of
Earl Simon. To be carefully looked after at Bristol or Cardiff must have
been dull work for one who had scaled the walls of Jerusalem; but in his
brother's keeping Robert assuredly never had to lie in bed for want of
clothes. As for his comrade Eadgar, he was let go free altogether. The
crowned King had no need to fear the momentary King-elect of forty years
before. We only wish to know whether he did himself live to so
preternatural an age as to be a pensioner of Henry II., or whether he
who bears his name in the accounts of that reign is a son of whom
history has no tale to tell.

We go back from Tinchebray to Flers. Next day the main line takes us to
Argentan. The name of _Tenarcebrai_ is written in our own Chronicles; so
is that of _Argentses_; only is that really Argentan or only Argences?



ARGENTAN

1892


A good many of the places which we go through on such a journey as we
are now taking in Western Normandy, full as they are of historic and
local interest on particular grounds, might easily fail to attract, not
only the ordinary tourist, but even the general antiquarian traveller.
No one, for instance, need go to La Lande-Patry, unless he is anxious to
get a better understanding of a single sentence of the _Roman de Rou_.
Even at Tinchebray the strictly historic interest is all. Unless we
except that single arcade on the tower of St. Remigius, there is really
nothing memorable to show in the shape of either church or castle. With
Argentan the case is different. Any one who has a turn for mediæval
antiquities in any shape would surely reckon that town as one of high
interest. With no such single memory as the great fight of Tinchebray,
it plays a certain part in history through many ages; the local history
of the town itself is remarkable, and its existing monuments are of
various kinds and instructive in several ways. And the means of getting
there are as simple as any means well can be; for Argentan is a
principal station on the line from Paris to Granville. It is also a
station on the great cross line from Caen to Le Mans. This position
makes it a good centre for seeing several places in various directions,
to say nothing of others for which none of the many railways of Normandy
has as yet done anything. In the journey now recorded it served as a
centre for Falaise and Séez, and for what will to most people be the
less familiar names of Exmes and Almenèches, and it might easily have
been made a centre for other places.

Argentan is a kind of town to which it would be hard to find an exact
fellow in England. It is not the head of any district; it is not the
seat of any great ecclesiastical foundation; such importance as it has
in history seems to have come from the presence of a castle which not
uncommonly received princely sojourners. Yet it is plainly something
more than one of those towns which have simply sprung up at the gate of
a castle. It has one main characteristic of a class of towns much
greater than its own: the fortress and the great church stand side by
side in its most prominent quarter. That in the general view the church
is far more conspicuous than the fortress is the result of later havoc;
but we are surprised to find that a church of such dignity in itself
and placed in such a position as the chief church of Argentan was never
the seat of abbot or dean. Falaise is now a larger town than Argentan;
but we feel that at Falaise the town has simply grown up at the foot of
the castle hill. Saint Gervase at Falaise is no fellow to the mighty
fortress on the _felsen_, as Saint German of Argentan must have been to
the _donjon_ of Argentan, even when that _donjon_ was better seen than
it is now. The name of Argentan does not at once lead us to some Gaulish
tribe or to some Roman prince; but it does not, like that of Falaise, at
once carry its own meaning with it in the speech of some or other of the
Teutonic conquerors of Gaul. We feel that Falaise, looking up to the
great keep and to the tower of Talbot, is merely a magnificent Dunster
or Richmond--we cannot say Windsor; for the _sainte chapelle_ of Saint
George has no fellow there. But Argentan is a miniature, a very small
miniature certainly, but still a miniature, of Durham and Lincoln and
Angers. That is, church and fortress stand together on the highest point
in the town.

Is Argentan therefore to be set down among the hill-towns? Falaise, of
all places in the world, assuredly is not; the castle is set on a hill,
but not the town. But can we give the name to Argentan? Some scruple may
be felt by one who has come from Saint-Lo, from Coutances, or from
Avranches. Yet the ascent from the Orne to the upper part of the town
is very marked, and as the chief buildings, ecclesiastical and military,
are gathered together on the higher ground, there is a true akropolis.
And there is no doubt that this akropolis had its own circuit of wall,
distinct from that of the lower town. This last took in a large space,
and was of a strangely complicated shape, running out hither and thither
in various directions. According to all our experience of other places,
we would take for granted that the inner circuit was the older. Here, we
should say, was the original settlement; the town, after the usual
manner of towns, outstripped its boundaries; it spread itself in
whatever directions suited its inhabitants; lastly, the suburbs which
thus grew up were taken into the town, and were fenced in by a second
wall. This, one need hardly say, is a thing which has happened over and
over again, in this place and that, till we take it for granted as the
explanation of such a state of things as we see at Argentan. But in a
local book, in which a great deal of information about Argentan is
brought together, _Le Vieil Argentan_, by M. Eugène Vimont, it is
distinctly asserted that the case is the other way. The wider circuit,
he tells us, is the older. In the wars of the early days of William,
King Henry of France burned Argentan. The burning is undoubted; it is
recorded by William of Jumièges. But M. Vimont's inference seems
strange--namely, that after this destruction the town was rebuilt, but
on a smaller scale. The case would be something like one stage in the
history of Périgueux, when only a part of old Vesona was fortified at
the time of the barbarian invasion of 407, and the part outside the new
walls was forsaken.[49] But an ordinary burning of a town in warfare
like that which went on between France and Normandy did not commonly
lead to such great changes as this, and it is very hard to believe that
the town of Argentan can, in the first half of the eleventh century,
have reached this great extent and this irregular shape. We are bound to
suppose that a local writer who shows much local knowledge has some
reason for what he says. But for a thing so hard to believe some direct
authority should be quoted, and M. Vimont quotes none. Till some other
convincing authority is produced, we shall believe that the growth of
Argentan followed the same law as that of other towns.

It is only in a few small pieces here and there that either the wider or
the narrower circuit of wall has left any sign of itself. But we can
believe both on M. Vimont's witness, and indeed they hardly need any
witness. Each circuit has left its stamp behind it in the way that town
walls do leave it, even when, as walls, they have altogether vanished.
We hold, then, that the narrower circuit, taking in only the higher
ground with the church of Saint German, and the two castles, is the
oldest. The church and the _donjon_ doubtless had predecessors before
King Henry came against Argentan. His burning need not have wrought any
more of lasting destruction than a hundred other such burnings. The town
sprang up again; in course of time, when Argentan flourished under
princely favour, it grew beyond its old bounds. The growth of the
inhabited town called for a wider circuit of walls. The new suburbs,
with the church of Saint Martin, were taken within the fortified area.
Argentan no longer merely looked down on the Orne, but was washed by it.

The upper town, then, besides the church of Saint German, contains not
only one, but two castles. On the highest ground of all, in the
north-west corner of the enclosure, are the remains of a large polygonal
keep, which keeps its name of the _donjon_. It makes very little show,
being sadly crowded in by houses. Somewhat lower down is the _château_,
a graceful building of the late French Gothic, now used as the Palace of
Justice. The building itself has hardly any defensive character about
it, but it stands as part of the general line of defence, and it was
also connected with the _donjon_ by an inner wall, parting the two
castles from the town. Some parts of the wall in this neighbourhood,
both inner and outer, are still standing; and near the _château_ is the
desecrated chapel of Saint Nicolas, keeping some good windows.

The _château_ would attract anywhere; the fragment of the _donjon_
simply peeps over houses. The chief thing in Argentan after all is the
great church of Saint German. Both this and the smaller church of Saint
Martin down below give us most instructive lessons in the course by
which the late Gothic of France gradually changed into _Renaissance_. As
we have often said, this transition has in England to be studied almost
wholly in houses, while in France we trace it in churches, and grand
churches also. The church of Saint German at Argentan is undoubtedly a
noble pile. At a distance it suggests the memory of Saint Peter at
Coutances on a larger scale. We seem to look on the same grouping of
central and western towers, though the central tower of Saint German's
is not octagonal, but square. But the western tower at Argentan is not
western in the same sense as the western tower at Coutances. That is, it
does not stand in the same line with the central tower. It is not a
western, but a north-western tower. This allows a greater variety of
outline than can be had at Saint Peter's. But the general effect of the
towers, all of which evidently received their last finish after the days
of pure Gothic had passed away, is essentially the same in the two
cases. In the central tower of Saint German this finish is nothing more
than a cupola of wood and lead on a handsome but not lofty lantern of
late Gothic, wonderfully good, outside at least, for the date of 1555.
But the general effect is not bad. The north-western tower, known as _la
grosse tour_, has a more curious history. The lowest stage is good and
rich Flamboyant, with a highly adorned porch. On this is a much plainer
stage, from which the Gothic feeling has passed, but which has no
distinctly _Renaissance_ detail. It has long narrow windows with
flat-arched heads. This must have been building in 1617, when the
governor of the town forbade the tower to be carried higher, lest it
should overlook the _donjon_. We think of William Rufus bidding
Hildebert of Le Mans to pull down his pair of newly built towers.[50]
The hindrance was afterwards withdrawn, and in 1638 the tower was
finished with its fantastic, but certainly taking, cupola. The nave was
begun in 1421, when Normandy was ruled for a season by the descendants
of its ancient dukes. It was carried on gradually for 220 years, and was
finished in 1641. The changes in style during this time are easily
traced. The nave is late but pure Gothic, a really fine design, though a
good deal spoiled by the loss of tracery in so many of the windows both
in aisles and clerestory. In a large panelled triforium a very keen eye
may possibly detect in the lowest range of ornament a tendency--it is
nothing more--to _Renaissance_ ideas. Or it may only be fancy suggested
by the stages further east. Certainly the nave, if not quite of
first-rate merit, has a really striking effect, and is far better than
most panel work of the time. The transepts are of the same style. They
are finished north and south with apses, which are really graceful,
though we miss the rose-windows which we should otherwise have looked
for in a French church on such a scale as this. The choir too, as seen
out of the nave, is well-proportioned and effective, though we see that
the windows in the apse have flat arches and no tracery. The apse, if we
can call it so, has the strange singularity of ending in a point, and
some odd details have crept into the bosses of the vault. But, in the
general view from the nave, the only thing that mars the general harmony
and good effect is the treatment of the lantern. The four lantern arches
have the flattened shape of the latest Gothic; but, oddly enough, the
variety here chosen is the English four-centred arch, not the usual
French shape, three-centred, elliptic, or actually flat-headed. But both
the English and the French form are quite unsuited for pier-arches, and
for lantern arches yet more. And, though the work of the lantern is
quite good outside, yet within we see that the enemy has begun to take
possession. There is perhaps no actual un-Gothic detail, but the feeling
of the arcade of flat-headed arches which forms the gallery shows the
way in which things are tending.

We go into the choir. There, setting aside the apse windows, the arcade,
triforium, clerestory, are still pure, if very late Gothic; the new
fashion comes in one detail only; the vaulting shafts have an odd
kind of Ionic capital. It is in the latest part of all, the chapels
round the choir, that the new taste comes in most strongly, and even
there it is not altogether dominant. It is very strange outside, where
heavy flying-buttresses are tricked out with little columns. Within,
pairs of such little columns are the chief ornament. But they support no
arches, only scraps of entablature. The arches of the roof, the windows,
and everything else, are still of the elliptic shape, and they still
keep the late Gothic mouldings. No building better shows what a long
fight was waged between the two styles. Saint German at Argentan is not
like Saint Eustace, where we see a grand Gothic conception carried out
without a single correct Gothic detail. Here not only the conception,
but the great mass of the internal detail, is purely Gothic; the new
fashion thrusts itself in only in particular parts.

This last remark is specially true of the smaller church of Argentan,
that of Saint Martin. Here we have not the full cruciform shape. There
is no central tower or lantern, but only lower transepts projecting from
a continuous nave and choir, whose roof-line, within and without, runs
uninterruptedly from east to west. The only tower is a small octagonal
one with a spire at the north-west corner. The peculiarity within is
that, while the arcade and clerestory are still late Gothic, the
triforium between them has run off into _Renaissance_. The reason seems
clear. The new fashion affected details long before it touched the great
lines of the building. The triforium at this date is, as at Saint
German, simply a matter of detail, an arrangement of panelling and the
like. That stage, therefore, was naturally touched by the intruding
foes, while the main features, like the pillars and pier-arches, are as
yet not all affected. At Saint Martin the windows are some of them good
Flamboyant, while some are a kind of very bad Perpendicular. From
others, as at Saint German, the tracery has been cut away altogether.
This church, smaller than Saint German, of a less effective outline, and
standing in the lower part of the town, has nothing like the same grand
effect as the two towers of Saint German on the hill. But it has, with
its tall clerestory, a stately look from some approaches, and it has its
lesson to tell in the history of art.

One is surprised to hear that in the old days Argentan had but a single
_curé_, whose sphere of usefulness took in both Saint German and Saint
Martin. One fully expects to find that such a church as Saint German was
collegiate. But this is one of the characteristic features of French
architecture. We are used in England to great town churches, which never
were more than parish churches, covering a good deal more ground than
Saint German's. But we are not used, save at Shoreham and Bristol, to
see them built, like Saint German, so thoroughly on the type of churches
of higher rank. Boston, Newark, Saint Michael's at Coventry, Trinity
Church at Hull, are as grand in their way as Saint German at Argentan,
only it is in quite another way.

There are a few other things to see at Argentan. On the slope of the
hill is a good late Gothic house, with two arches of street arcade in
front. Add a little more, and we should have the arcade of Carentan; add
a great deal more, and we should have the arcades of Bern. Those who
seek for it will also find a mediæval bridge of two pointed arches over
one of the branches of the Orne. And it is grievous when, after moving
from Argentan to new quarters at Laigle, we take another look at M.
Vimont's book, and find that we have failed to see a small desecrated
Romanesque church called _Notre-Dame de la Place_. We relieve ourselves
by finding fault with M. Vimont, who certainly does not always put
things in those parts of his book where we should most naturally look
for them.

But we have one point to settle with witnesses nearer home. In the war
between William Rufus and Duke Robert, the Duke, with his ally King
Philip of France, took a castle in which Roger the Poitevin, son of Earl
Roger of Shrewsbury and brother of Robert of Bellême, commanded for
William at the head of 700 knights. Strange to say, they all surrendered
without shedding of blood on the first day of the siege. Our chronicle
calls the place _Argentses_, which Florence of Worcester translates by
_Argentinum castrum_.[51] The name looks like Argences, much nearer to
Caen than Argentan. But one doubts whether Argences could ever have been
a fortress of such importance, perhaps whether it was a fortress at all.
And Robert of Torigny, who must have known the country better than
anybody at Peterborough or Worcester, has _Argentomum_, which certainly
means Argentan, and which may perhaps have the force of a correction. If
so, we have a second visit to Argentan by a French king of the eleventh
century, but not one which made any new building needful.

There is a good deal more to say about Argentan in later times, from
Henry the Second of Normandy and England to Henry the Fourth of Navarre
and France. The traveller is most likely to sojourn at the _Hôtel des
Trois Maries_, a resting-place which, in its foundation rather than in
its buildings, goes back to the fourteenth century. It has received many
memorable guests, and its host is said to have purveyed for the last
Henry that we have spoken of. It stands in the main street on the lower
ground. The thought did suggest itself that it might be a trifle too
near the Orne, whose waters at Argentan are not attractively clean, and
that the _Hôtel du Donjon_ on the top of the hill might have a better
air. But we can say nothing as to the further merits or demerits of the
Donjon, and the Three Maries sheltered us well enough by the space of
six days.



EXMES AND ALMENÈCHES

1892


Exmes and Almenèches; one fancies that those names will sound strange to
almost any one save those who have been lately reading the eleventh book
of Orderic the Englishman. Exmes indeed is one of those unlucky places
which, even in the year 1891, remain without the comfort of a railway.
But Almenèches has a station happily placed on two lines; it is visited
by trains between Granville and Paris, and also by trains between Caen
and Le Mans. It thus seems to stand in a closer relation to the world of
modern times than Exmes, to which he who does not care to trust himself
to a Norman omnibus must go on his own account. To Almenèches too one
may go on one's own account; each place makes a pleasant drive from
Argentan. There is nothing very striking on the road to either, but the
road to Almenèches decidedly goes through the prettier country. Each has
a church and a castle to show, or rather each has a church and the site
of a castle. As in so many places, the ecclesiastical building has
outlived the fortress. And this is more to be noticed at Almenèches,
where the church was monastic, and therefore ran greater chances of
destruction in the days of havoc. In general history we cannot venture
to say that either spot has a place. In special Norman history Exmes,
under some or other of the forms of its name, _Oximum_, _Hiesmes_,
anything else, often shows itself; its early importance is noticed by
its giving its name to the large district, _Pagus Oximensis_, _Oixmeiz_,
_Hiesmsis_. And the _Oximenses_ are sometimes spoken of in a special
way, as if they were a distinct people, capable of acting for
themselves. Of Almenèches we hardly hear anything but at one particular
moment, and then we hear of Exmes along with it.

In short, the history of Almenèches, as far as we are concerned with it,
might be summed up under a sensational heading, as "The Sorrows of
Abbess Emma." Her sorrows did not last long, but they were heavy while
they lasted. It was hard for the head of a devout Sisterhood to have
three of the great ones of the earth set upon her at once, one of them
being her own brother. She was daughter of Roger of Montgomery,
afterwards Earl of two shires in England, and of his first wife, Mabel
of Bellême, who bears so evil a reputation for bloodshed and treachery.
She was therefore sister to the heir of her mother's estates and crimes,
to that Robert of Bellême who is charged with a crime from which the
worst Merwing would have shrunk, that of pulling out the eyes of his
little godson, seemingly only for the fun of the thing. But Emma and her
sisters are described as being much better than any of their brothers,
even those who were not so bad as Robert. She may therefore not have
been wholly unfit for the post in which she was set when her father put
her at the head of his newly founded abbey, though she could hardly have
been qualified according to the rule which Gregory the Great laid down
for the monasteries of Sicily, that no abbess should be under sixty
years of age.

The troubles of Abbess Emma began in the year 1102, when her brother
Robert was happily driven out of England, with his brothers and his
whole followings and belongings. It might seem a little hard when King
Henry, in getting rid of the whole stock, seized on the English lands
which Earl Roger had given to his daughter's Norman Abbey. But we
remember that, in so doing, he was forestalling, not the Eighth of his
name, but the Fifth. We did not want alien priories in England. Robert
came back to his native Normandy, began to work every kind of mischief
there, and his brothers Arnulf and Roger helped him for awhile in so
doing. Arnulf is famous at Pembroke.[52] Roger the _Poitevin_, so called
from his marriage, had been lord of that land between Mersey and
Ribble, which afterwards went to patch up the modern shire of Lancaster.
Presently the brothers quarrelled. Robert of Bellême refused to give
Arnulf and Roger any share in their father's inheritance. Then they
forsook him, and Arnulf took an active part against him on behalf of
Duke Robert. We read how, in June, 1103, he seized his brother's
_munitio_ of Almenèches, and how it was occupied for the Duke. This was
dangerous to his sister's abbey, where his followers did not scruple to
occupy the buildings and to stable their horses in the church. Then
Robert of Bellême, looking on the abbey as a hostile fortress, comes
down on Almenèches, burns the church and all the buildings of the
monastery, and leaves his sister and her nuns to find shelter where they
can. The Duke's followers, who fall into his hands, he deals with after
his manner; they are killed, mutilated, or kept in hard bonds. Robert of
Bellême, it must be remembered, is the man of whom it was said that he
refused ransom for his prisoners, despising gain, compared with the
keener pleasure of tormenting them. The Duke then and his following set
forth to do something against the hateful tyrant--"_odibilis tyrannus_"
he is called, a phrase in which we must not forget the ancient sense of
"_tyrannus_."[53] Counts and lords are with him, and the whole force of
the land of Exmes. They hold their councils in the castle of Exmes; they
did what they could against the tyrant; but he was too strong for them.
He defeated the Duke in battle, and got possession of the castle of
Exmes.

Meanwhile Abbess Emma and her Sisterhood had to go whither they could.
"Tener virginum conventus misere dispersus est." Some sought shelter
with kinsfolk and friends. The Abbess herself and three nuns went to
Saint-Evroul, where Orderic, who tells the story, dwelled as the monk
Vital. They found a shelter and a place of worship in an ancient chapel
where Saint Evroul himself had dwelled--"coelesti theoriae intentus
solitarie degebat." There they abode six months, till in the next year
they were able to go back to Almenèches and to begin to set up their
ruined home again. For ten years Abbess Emma laboured at gathering the
sisterhood together and rebuilding the church. Then she died, and, by as
near an approach to hereditary succession as could be in the case of
abbesses, her staff passed to her niece Matilda, daughter of her brother
Philip. She, too, had to rebuild church and monastery after another
fire. We are not told how it was kindled: but by that time her uncle
Robert was safe in prison in England, shorn of all power of burning
anything or of gouging out anybody's eyes.[54]

Our present business is to see the sites of all these events. We hardly
dared to hope that we may see any ecclesiastical work of Abbess Emma or
Abbess Matilda. Still less do we hope to see the castles which Arnulf
and Robert of Bellême seized on standing up as they were in their day.
Both Exmes and Almenèches, in the present state of their military works,
are among the places which most fully bear out the doctrine with which
we started in speaking of Hauteville, that a site is often better when
there is nothing on it. The site of the castle of Exmes is not exactly
in an ideal state. The best case of all would be if it still bore a
castle of the right date; the second best would be if there were only a
green hill and its ditch, with full power of walking freely over them as
one thought good. The castle-hill of Exmes is not in so happy a case as
either of these; but it is much better off than if it were surmounted by
a barrack or a prison. The hill is there; the ditch, as we suppose we
must call it, is there; there is no building on the hill save a small
modern chapel; the only bad thing about it is that the top of the hill
is cut up into small fields with high hedges, and that the ditch is cut
up into gardens. There is therefore no means either of going freely
about, or of taking any connected view of the top of the hill. Still,
the general line of the place can be easily made out, and we soon see
that a site well suited for its purpose has been made the most of. The
actual hill of the castle makes no special show in the distance. No
longer marked by the castle itself, it seems simply part of the general
mass of high ground on which both town and castle stand, and from which
the castle-hill itself stands forward in a peninsular fashion towards
the north. The hill is round, or nearly so; and no small measure of
human skill has been employed in adapting it to purposes of defence. We
spoke of a ditch; but a ditch is hardly the right word. At a good height
above the actual bottom, as one feels very strongly in going up the road
from Argentan, the castle-hill strictly so called is surrounded by the
artificial work which, for want of a better name, we have called a
ditch. But it is safer to say that the hill-side has been cut, leaving
the upper part of the hill with scarped sides rising above a flat piece
of ground all round, which puts on the character of a ditch or not
according as the hill-side at different points supplies a bank on the
other side. It is on the side towards the town that it is most truly a
ditch. The general effect is something like the clerestory of a round
church, the Temple Church or any other, rising above a flat-roofed
surrounding aisle. The ditch is wide, and doubtless has been
deeper--that is, more of a ditch--than it is now; that is, its use for
gardens must have raised its general level. One's thoughts somehow
rather go away to Marsala than to Arques or Old Sarum--perhaps because
in those last we can freely go about, while gardens, houses, what not,
come in the way both at Marsala and at Exmes. If they were away, the
whole thing would be more like some of the ditches on the Malvern hills
than anything else.

Such is all that is to be seen of the castle of Exmes; but, in the
absence of an actual donjon that can have seen the wars of the Conqueror
and his sons, it is quite enough. The look-out is a wide one indeed; but
it is now easier to get it from the road going back to Argentan than
from the top of the hill itself. The eye ranges over a vast space
chiefly to the north-west, over the great forest of Gouffers, over
plains and undulating ground, a wide and striking view, but in which no
remarkable object rises up to catch the eye. We look forth with the
special hope of getting a distant glimpse of Falaise and its donjon.
Perhaps not the donjon itself, but the high ground about it is said to
be seen from the tower of Saint German at Argentan. But we at least
could not see it from Exmes.

The other object in the little town of Exmes, now hardly more than a
village, is the church. This stands on the general mass of high ground
from which the castle hill juts out. It is a building of no small
interest, both from what it has to show and from what it has not. At
first sight it seems utterly shapeless. What first catches the eye is a
very pretty apse of good Flamboyant work, with windows in two ranges, of
which all in the upper and some in the lower are blocked. We see also at
the same glance that something just to the west of the apse has been
destroyed or left unfinished. Beyond this again is a much lower western
body, a nave with its aisles thrown under one roof. This last is not
attractive from without, but when we go in, we find that it is the jewel
of Exmes. There is a nave of five bays, perhaps once of six, of the very
simplest and purest Romanesque, one of the examples which show how that
style, better than any other style, can altogether dispense with
ornament. There are no columns, no capitals, not a moulding of any kind.
Arches of two orders rise from square piers with imposts, and support an
equally plain clerestory. For a clerestory there is, genuine and
untouched, though so strangely hidden outside by the great sloping roof.
This is all; but we ask for no more; the design, plain as it is, leaves
nothing to ask for. One does not rush at a date; it may be twelfth
century; it may be eleventh; but, if so, it is of the second half of the
eleventh. Plain as are the imposts, they show that the work is of the
confirmed Norman variety of Romanesque; there are no Primitive traces
hanging about it, such as we see at Jumièges.

The perfection of the Norman nave seems to have been tampered with in
later days by cutting through a low transepted chapel on each side. The
arches look as if they had supplanted a sixth arch of the nave. But far
greater changes were presently designed. As at Gisors, as at a hundred
other places, the Flamboyant architects thought the elder building too
plain, and above all things too low. In a great number of cases they
rebuilt the choir after their own fashion, but never carried the work on
to the nave. Here at Exmes the work in the eastern part was never
finished. That seems most likely; but it is possible that the work was
finished and has been pulled down. The apse at least was done, and very
pretty it is; but a tall transept on each side with a large chapel to
the east of each, perhaps built, certainly designed, are not there now.
Within, there is no vaulting, and a mean wooden roof has been thrown
across at about half the proper length. The nave, too, is covered with a
wooden roof, a kind of coved roof with tie-beams. A real barrel-vault
would be best of all; but a good flat ceiling, such as was common in
Romanesque times, would do very well. It is one of the differences
between French and English architecture that the French designers always
meant or hoped to have a vault; the wooden roof in a French church is
always a mere shift. It was the builders of English parish churches who
found out that the wooden roof could be made into an equal substitute
for the vault, preferred to it by a deliberate taste.

For one very anxious to work out in detail the curious little bit of
history with which the two places are chiefly concerned, it might be
better, if he could manage it, to take Exmes and Almenèches in a single
round. But it is easier to make them the objects of two separate
excursions from Argentan. We set out then from that town with a twofold
anxiety on the mind. Shall we find any signs of the abbey of the
persecuted Emma? We do not give up all hope till we shall see with our
own eyes. Shall we find any signs of the "_munitio_" occupied by her
brother Arnulf? Signs we may fairly look for, if not for the thing
itself. Our guidebook describes a church of Almenèches, but it does not
distinctly say whether it is the church of the abbey or a separate
parish church. It speaks of a "beau tumulus" in the "environs" of
Almenèches, and says that the neighbourhood is full of "equestrian
memories," whatever those may be. One of them, to be sure, bears the
name of the "Manoir de la Motte," which has a very tempting sound. On
the ordnance map we can find nothing of this manor; but we do find
"Almenèches" and "le Château d'Almenèches" marked as two distinct
_communes_. This is encouraging; we seem to have lighted on what at home
we should call "Abbess Almenèches" and "Castle Almenèches." We see Emma
at the one and Arnulf at the other; but we still do not know what traces
either sister or brother may have left. At last we reach Almenèches,
Abbess Almenèches, and we see the church described in our Joanne. It is
not very tempting in its general look, and there is nothing particular
about its site, except that the ground does slope away from its
east-end. Is this Emma's minster or its successor, or is it merely a
parish church, and have we to look for the abbey elsewhere? Some signs
of the cloister roof on the south side soon settle this question. But we
begin to hope, for the credit of the house of Montgomery, that Emma,
either before or after her troubles, and her niece after her, had a
better church than this to preside over. We find from Joanne that
Almenèches boasts of its church; but it doth falsely boast. Instead of
the nave of Romsey or of Matilda's church at Caen, we have a single body
of late Gothic, with windows like very bad Perpendicular, a form not
uncommon hereabouts. We get its date from an inscription:--

     "Ce temple lequel a esté ruiné par l'antiquité fut commencé à
     reedifier l'a^n de grace 1534 et fut perfaict l'a^n 1550 par
     revere^nde dame Madame Loyse de Silly abbesse de cea^ns. Gloire et
     hon^r. soyt au seigneur."

Louise of Silly's work may be just endured; it is at any rate better
than the choir built by a later Abbess Louise--we have got out of the
age of Emmas and Matildas--in 1674. That is the lowest depth of all; it
is the depth reached by the choir of Saint Wulfram of Abbeville; that
is, it is of no style at all; a decent Italian building would be welcome
by the side of it. But its modern adornments may teach us the history of
Saint Opportuna down to our own day. That may be said, because it
represents her translation in the days of the second Republic in 1849.
What most strikes one is the appearance in stained glass of modern
uniforms and--we were going to say modern bonnets, only we are told that
the bonnets of 1849 are not counted as modern in 1891. Still we are sure
that neither Abbess Emma nor even Abbess Louise ever wore such before
they entered religion. Altogether one never saw so poor an abbey church
anywhere. One is curious to know what it immediately supplanted, and
whether the sisterhood was again in such straits as those which it had
been in the time of Emma of Montgomery. Did the house never recover
from the seizure of its lands by King Henry?

Of the "Manoir de la Motte" nothing can be heard. But the "_munitio_"
must be represented, at least in name, by Le Château d'Almenèches. Our
driver protests that there is no _château_ there, only a _commune_. So
much the better. If there is no _château_ there in his sense, that is,
no intruding modern house, we are more likely to find the site of the
real _château_, the _munitio_. And we presently do find it. We are
going on in some difficulties, amidst a good deal of rain; but we see
something in a field by the roadside, between Almenèches and the church
of Le Château d'Almenèches which is evidently the right thing. There is
a manifest mound and ditch of some kind. We go on to the church, one
about as worthless as may be, but which will serve as a place at least
of shelter. But by that time the rain has stopped, and we are able to
study our mound and ditch without let or hindrance. Here is the castle,
the _munitio_, of Almenèches, whence the Duke's followers first troubled
Abbess Emma. But yet more, here is Joanne's "_beau tumulus_" thrown in
along with it. A plan is almost needed to set forth what we see. Here is
a piece of slightly elevated ground girded by a ditch on all sides
except where the sluggish river Don--how many Dons are there in
Europe?--which in times past clearly supplied the ditch with water,
itself flows. Here then is the castle; at least here are its essential
features. And they are all clearer, because there is no _château_ in the
driver's sense, but only a farmhouse of decent age, which does no harm.
But then the ditch, on one side at least, is prolonged to follow one
side of a much more striking mound, a long mound which is clearly the
"_beau tumulus_." We do not like to be too positive about præ-historic
tumps, but this certainly looks very like one. Indeed it need not be
præ-historic, it may cover the bones or ashes of some invading Northman,
who was cut off too soon to be christened, to learn French, and to
become the founder of a Norman house. The tump must be older than the
_munitio_ proper; but we may be sure that the makers of the _munitio_
did not leave it out of their reckonings. It had to be guarded; it could
not well be lived on. Here then we have found all that we want at Exmes
and Almenèches. We understand the scene of the petty war which drove
Abbess Emma to Saint-Evroul. We have found our two castles, all that we
cared to find of them. We have found our abbey, or at least a successor
on its site. And we have both the tump and the church of Exmes thrown in
[Greek: en parergôô]. It is not at all a bad two days' work that we have
done in the immediate land of the _Oximenses_.



LAIGLE AND SAINT-EVROUL

1892


Our next halting-place is Laigle on the Rille, the Rille that runs out
to flow by Brionne and the Bec of Herlouin. We choose it as a
halting-place less from any merits of its own than because it is the
best centre for some very remarkable places indeed, and because the
place itself calls up certain associations. There is, perhaps, more
interest attaching to the name of Laigle and to the lords of Laigle than
to Laigle itself. Its name supplies us with the crowning instance of the
singular incapacity of so many in England to understand that these
Norman towns and castles are real places. They give surnames to a crowd
of men who figure in the English history of the eleventh and twelfth
centuries; but, as we have said before, hardly anybody seems to
understand that those surnames are taken from places which are still
standing, and to most of which the railway is open. There is the
renowned Bishop William of Durham in the days of the Conqueror and the
Red King, the greatest name in the history of Romanesque art. He is
_Willelmus de Sancto Carilefo_, just like William of Malmesbury or
William of Newburgh, simply because he had been monk and prior in the
monastery of _Sanctus Carilefus_, in modern form, _Saint-Calais_, in the
land of Maine. It is better to say "William of Saint-Calais" than
"William of Saint-Carilef," because the use of the modern form shows
that we know where the place is; but "William of Saint-Carilef" is not
so bad as "Bishop Carilef," as if Carilef were no place at all, and as
if it had been usual in those days to talk of Bishops or anybody else by
their casual surnames. So with Laigle, _Aquila_, a place which must have
somehow taken its name from an eagle, possibly from some incident or
legend, as there is certainly nothing in the look of Laigle to suggest
eagles in a general way. Its lords of course called themselves
"Gilbertus," "Richeras," or anything else "de Aquila," "of Laigle." On
the whole, for the same reason as in the case of Saint-Calais, it is
better to speak in English of the place and its lords by the now
received form _Laigle_ rather than _L'Aigle_, though _L'Aigle_ is not
quite forgotten on the spot. But the events of the Norman Conquest
brought men of the house of Laigle into England, and their presence led
to a possession in Sussex being called "Honor de Aquila." When
South-Saxon antiquaries, or possibly lawyers, of whatever age,
translated this into "the Honour of the Eagle," they plainly did not
know that _Aquila_, _Laigle_, was a real place from which men had taken
their name and brought it into Sussex. And we have heard of an
Englishman being christened "Richard de Aquila," as if it were hopeless
trying to put "de Aquila" into plain English. We have also heard of a
man being christened "Joseph of Arimathæa"; but that was at least in
English, and not in French, Latin, or Hebrew.

"Richard de Aquila" is a form notable on another ground, as implying a
confusion between the two wholly distinct names of _Richard_ and
_Richer_. We do not at this moment remember a Richard of Laigle, but
Richer of Laigle is, perhaps, the man of his house who is best worth
remembering. He lived in the days of the Conqueror, he bears the best
character possible in those times, and his one recorded act bears it
out. He was fighting for William, Duke and king, against that castle of
Sainte-Susanne in Maine which the Conqueror of Le Mans and Exeter could
not take. In a skirmish below the castle a beardless-boy, sheltered
behind a thicket, aimed an arrow which gave Richer a mortal wound. His
comrades would have killed the lad; but Richer bade them spare him; his
own sins deserved death. For want of a priest, he confessed those sins
to his comrades, and died.

The lords of Laigle did plenty of other things besides this; but it is
the thought of the last act of Richer which cleaves most firmly in the
memory, and makes us most wish to see the place where the lords of
Laigle dwelled. And we set out with some vague notion, a notion not
exactly to be fulfilled, that the home of the lords of Laigle--"domini
de Aquila"--must be something of an eagle's nest. But alas, when we
reach Laigle from Argentan, we find that, with all its historic
associations, it is in itself far from being a town of the same interest
as Argentan. The position of the two is quite different. The chief
buildings of Argentan cover a small hill in the midst of scenery in no
way strongly marked. Laigle covers the slope of the hill which forms one
side of the valley of the young Rille, while another height matches it
on the opposite side. At Laigle the chief church, standing out with a
dignity which it hardly keeps when we come near to it, is the one
striking object. Of the castle we see nothing but the surrounding woods,
and in truth there is nothing more to see. The large brick house known
as _le vieux château_, standing a little to the east of the church,
marks, it is to be supposed, the site of the home of Richer and all the
rest of the brood of the eagle. But no site of any castle can well be
further from the eagle's nest which we came in search of. The town, as
distinguished from castle and church, has little or nothing to show;
like Flers, it has risen to some modern importance through manufactures.
The chief church, St Martin, has already struck us on our approach by
its stately tower of late Gothic such as in England we might have looked
to see crowned with battlement and pinnacles, but which here is finished
with a high roof bearing statues on its ridge. Beside the tower there is
something, one hardly knows what, a very high roof and a kind of spire.
When we come near, we find that the church, though very short, has two
western towers. The northern one is the rich piece of Flamboyant work
with which we have already got familiar--or rather not familiar, as its
narrow windows may in the distance be taken for a Romanesque arcade. Its
southern fellow is a real Romanesque tower with pilaster buttresses,
which bears the spire. It is very plain, of the eleventh century rather
than of the twelfth, so that the lord of Laigle, who awakens an interest
above the rest of his house, may have looked at it or even built it. The
same may be said of the apse which ends the central of the three
bodies--they are hardly to be called nave and aisles--which make up the
church of Laigle. But a Romanesque apse, rich or plain, is not improved
by first cutting pointed windows in it and then blocking them up. And
the apse, thus sadly mutilated, is further imprisoned. It barely peeps
out between the east ends of the northern and southern bodies, of which
the northern takes the form of a kind of transept. They are in the
worst style of the late French Gothic, with windows of the same wretched
Perpendicular as those of Almenèches. Whence came this strange taste?
Henry the Fifth and John Duke of Bedford might, somewhat earlier, have
taught their Norman subjects to build good Perpendicular, but not this
kind of stuff.

There is not much more to see in Laigle itself. Of the castle we can
hardly be said to have even seen the site. The house which represents it
has ceased to be a _château_ even in the latter sense. It stands
pleasantly at the end of the town, with fields beyond it, and a good
slope down to the river, if only it could be seen. But the whole way
from the castle to the Rille is blocked with modern buildings. We wish
that the home of Richer was in the same case as the head of the
_Oximenses_, where the gardens in the ditch do comparatively little
harm. Or rather we cherish a hope that the _vieux château_ may not be
the true _castrum de Aquila_. We cannot say that we saw any other castle
anywhere else at Laigle; but we saw one or two sites higher up the hill
where a castle might have stood very fittingly.

But the main object at Laigle is not Laigle. The place may be used, like
Argentan, as a centre for seeing several objects, and in the case of
Laigle the objects to be seen from the centre are certainly of higher
interest than the centre itself. There are the famous border castles of
Verneuil and Tillières, easily to be reached by railway, and there is an
ecclesiastical spot of still higher fame which can in a rather
complicated way be reached by railway, but which it is pleasanter and
certainly more appropriate to take by road. Yet as a means of
approaching Ouche, Aticum, Saint-Evroul, even the road seems too modern.
It is essentially a place of pilgrimage, not a Canterbury pilgrimage,
but a pilgrimage to the cell of a hermit, to the _scriptorium_ of a
chronicler of whom we get more personally fond than of any other.

At Saint-Evroul we ought to think first of all of Saint Evroul; we do
think first of all of Orderic the Englishman, called in religion
Vital.[55] We called him just now a chronicler; but that is assuredly
not his right description. If he were more of a chronicler, that is, if
he told his story in a more orderly way, without so many repetitions and
runnings to and fro, that is, if he were other than the kindly,
gossiping, rambling old monk who has made Saint-Evroul a household word
for all students of English and Norman history in his own day we ought
not to feel so warmly drawn to him as we are. It was the home of Orderic
that we wished to see. But it was very hard to find out whether his home
had anything left to show us. Not a word could we find in any guidebook
to say whether the abbey was living or ruined or desecrated or wholly
swept away. It might be as unlucky as Avranches or as lucky as Saint
Peter-on-Dives. And a monastic site from which everything monastic has
been swept away is not so instructive as a fortified site from which the
fortifications are gone. We should be best pleased to find at
Saint-Evroul a church in which Orderic may have worshipped, but it would
be better to find a later church--we had almost said one with
discontinuous imposts to its pillars--rather than no church at all. We
set forth in faith, not knowing what we are to find, but determined that
we will at least see the place where the Ecclesiastical History of
Normandy was written. One little incident of the journey may be
mentioned. We reached Saint-Evroul; we saw more of Saint-Evroul's Abbey
than we had ventured to hope that we should find there. But before we
reached it our driver stopped near a house and buildings which seemed in
no way attractive. Asked why he stopped there, he said that was where
the landlady at Laigle had told him to stop. There were the great
glass-works for which Saint-Evroul is now best known. And it was the
Saint-Evroul of the glass-work that we were thought to have set forth to
see, not the Saint-Evroul of Orderic or of Saint Evroul himself.

Orderic, son of a French father and an English mother, born by the
banks of the Severn ten years after King William came into England, in
the year of the martyrdom of Waltheof, was before all things Orderic the
Englishman. If we are to take his words literally, English must have
been the only language of his childhood. He was sent in his childhood to
be a monk of Saint-Evroul;[56] one wonders why, as his father might
surely have found him a cell either in the Orleans of his birth or the
Shrewsbury of his adoption. Himself more truly the founder of Shrewsbury
Abbey than his patron, Earl Roger, Odelerius of Ettingsham, the married
priest, preferred Saint-Evroul to any other house of religion as the
home of his son. The Abbey had lately been set up again, after a time of
decay, by the bounty of several members of the houses of Geroy and
Grantmesnil, one of whom, Abbot Robert, who plays also a part in
Calabria and Sicily, was at least as turbulent as bountiful. But nothing
would have more deeply grieved the monastic soul of Orderic than the
thought that any one could think more of him than of the local saint and
first founder. "Father Evroul," "Pater Ebrulfus," the man of the world
who turned hermit in the days of Chlotocher, and around whose cell the
monastery first grew up, lived in the devout memory of his spiritual
children. One asks whether Orderic, "tenellus exsul" in his Norman
monastery, like Joseph in Egypt hearing a strange language, ever
stopped to think of the true meaning of his patron's name, how the
softened _Ebrulfus_ and _Evroul_ disguised the two fierce beasts which
went to make up the name of _Eoforwulf_. Perhaps, indeed, Orderic the
Englishman, and all other Englishmen, had some right to see a kinsman,
however distant, in the saint who bore so terrible a name. For Ebrulfus
came of the city or land of Bayeux, and in Chlotocher's day, and long
after, the land of Bayeux was still the _Otlingua Saxonica_, an abiding
trace of those harryings and settlements of Sidonius's times, which
planted the Saxon on both sides of the Channel. Still, to us Orderic is
more than Evroul, even in the form of Eoforwulf. It is for his sake that
we take our journey through the wood of Ouche till we come to the little
stream of the Charenton, where the hermit chose out his solitary cell,
where the monastery twice arose in his honour, and where now the
glass-works are thought to be a greater attraction than the monastery.

The remains of the abbey soon catch our eye, as we draw near from the
east side, the side of Laigle. They are not placed quite at the bottom
of the valley; they gently climb up the hill to the west, the hill up
which the small low street of Saint-Evroul leads to the highest point,
where we find another sign of our own day in the railway station. The
church of the monastery is a mere ruin; but it at least stands open to
the sky; it is not desecrated and disfigured by being put to any profane
use. Quite enough is left to put together the whole plan of the
building. There is perhaps a slight feeling of disappointment at finding
that here at Saint-Evroul there is nothing directly to remind us of the
man for whose sake we have come thither. We would fain see something
that had met the eyes of the island-born child in the first years of his
coming to his foreign home. We would fain see even the church of Robert
of Grantmesnil, much more the elder church from which the High
Chancellor of Duke Hugh the Great carried away the body of Saint Evroul
himself, as a piece of holy spoil which Normandy had to yield to
France.[57] We would fain see the cloister where in Orderic's day, King
Henry of England, victor of Tinchebray, sat a long time in thought, and
the chapter-house where the Lion of Justice conferred with the brethren,
where he praised their good order and devotion, and was, at his earnest
request, admitted to their spiritual fellowship. And truly nowhere in
kingdom or duchy had he a more loyal subject than the chronicler who
knew so well what a work it was to bring some approach to peace and
order into a land torn in pieces by noble brigands. Hopes of this kind,
hopes of any immediate memory of the days of Orderic or of days before
Orderic are not fated to be gratified; but we have done well to come to
Saint-Evroul none the less.

The ruined church offers us much to see and study. The only thing that
suggests itself as a possible memorial of Orderic's day is the
foundation of the apse. But as it is only a foundation and not a crypt,
there is no need to think that he ever saw it. The apse itself has
fallen; but traces enough are left to show that inside at least it was
polygonal. But it was an apse of the old simple pattern, without
surrounding aisles and chapels. It could not have been there when the
young novice from Shropshire came to Saint-Evroul. It may have been
built in the latter part of his long sojourn. And the stumps of the
great round pillars of the choir are most likely of the same date. The
use of such pillars is a fashion English rather than Norman; but it is
hard to believe that the "tenellus exsul" from Ettingsham brought with
him any architectural tastes. The choir was of some length, and its
length was broken by an apsidal chapel on each side, pointing north and
south, so as to form a kind of small eastern transept. But the greater
part of what is left is very fine work of the thirteenth century,
finished at the west end in the fourteenth. The pillars and arches of
the nave are broken down, leaving only stumps; but enough is left at the
west end and at the crossing to show the design. Clustering shafts
surrounded a central pillar; the mouldings of the arches are, as often
happens in Normandy, as well and deeply cut as they would be in England.
Above the arcade was a tall clerestory, seemingly without any triforium
or with the triforium thrown into the clerestory. Altogether there is
about enough left to suggest the memory of Glastonbury, though
Saint-Evroul is certainly not on the scale of Glastonbury, even without
the western church. The west front must have been very remarkable. The
first impression on approaching from outside is that two western towers
stood out in front of the nave, as at Holyrood, or as the single towers
at Dunkeld and Brechin. A second glance shows that what seemed to be the
lower part of a south-western tower is really a building in advance of
such a tower. That is to say, a large porch, or rather portico, with
three tall arches, stood out in front of the western towers and of the
end of the nave. It must have looked just enough like Peterborough to
suggest Peterborough, but also to suggest the contrast between
Peterborough and itself. At Peterborough the great portico stands
indeed, as here, in advance of a west front with two towers. But it may
be said to have supplanted that front. One tower was never finished; the
other was thrown into insignificance. The portico is of the full height,
and became the real west front. Here at Saint-Evroul the portico was not
the whole of the west front, but only part; the towers must have risen a
long way above it. One would like to be able to judge of the effect of
such a design.

There is little or nothing left of the other buildings of the abbey,
except the gateway by which we enter, with a larger and a smaller
pointed arch. The field to the south of the church, where cloister,
chapter-house, refectory, and the rest must have stood, had a locked
gateway, and the owner had gone off with the key. But there seemed to be
nothing, at least nothing standing up. Yet we should have liked to see
at least the traces of the cloister on the southern wall. But Saint
Evroul is not forgotten in his own place, or even within the walls of
his own abbey. For a little chapel has been made within the buildings of
the gate-house. He has also a cross and fountain, of which the cross, a
modern one, is more visible than the fountain. And in the parish church
on the opposite hill some relics of the abbey, indeed of the saint
himself, are still preserved. There is specially a good fragment of an
ancient triptych. The surviving small church looks down on the relics of
the great one below. And the thought comes, so different from any
suggested by the monastic ruins of England, how short a time it after
all is since the great church of Saint-Evroul was a living thing as well
as the small one. A visitor of no wonderful age could do a sum and find
that his own father was at least able to walk and talk while Robert of
Grantmesnil had still a less famous, but perhaps less unquiet successor.



TILLIÈRES AND VERNEUIL

1892


Our second excursion from Laigle has quite another kind of interest from
that of Saint-Evroul. We go more strictly to see places, and not as it
were to commune with a single man. And the places that we go to see are
primarily military, and not ecclesiastical. We do not go for a great
church, not knowing whether we shall find it perfect or ruined, or
wholly swept away. We go to see two castles or sites of castles, knowing
that we shall find something more than their sites, and with a notion
that we shall also get something ecclesiastical thrown into the balance.
Our object is to see the two border castles of Tillières and Verneuil,
both easily reached by railway from our central point at Laigle, and
which by a more roundabout way, may be reached from Evreux also.
Tillières is famous in the early wars of Normandy and France. Verneuil
is best known in the days when Normandy had become the battle ground of
England and France, and when Scotland threw herself on the French side.
As a matter of fact, we saw Verneuil first; we then went on to
Tillières, and thence back to Laigle, getting of course a second clear
view of Verneuil by the way. But it will be more convenient to speak
first of the place of more ancient fame.

Tillières, Tillières on the Arve, if it were left in its ancient state,
would be an almost ideal border-fortress. It is close indeed on the
border. When Wace describes Alençon, he tells us that one side of the
water was Norman and the other side was Mansel. So here at Tillières one
side of the water was Norman and the other side was French. But the
stream of Arve at Tillières is so much narrower than the stream of
Sarthe at Alençon that French and Norman stood much nearer together at
Tillières than Mansel and Norman stood at Alençon. Alençon again, as far
as its history goes back, has always been a considerable town. Tillières
is now a mere village, except so far as so many of these villages put on
the character of very small towns. But town or village, Tillières is
simply something which has grown up at the foot of the castle, while at
Alençon one might say that one object at least of the castle was to
defend the town. There is high ground on each side of the stream; that
on the north side is Norman soil, that on the south is French. A
projecting point of the Norman height was seized for the building of the
great border-fortress of Normandy. A few dwellings of men, dependants
doubtless of the castle and its lords, arose under its shadow, just
within the Norman border. That this was done while France and Normandy
were still foreign and hostile lands is shown by the western doorway of
the church of Tillières, a piece of plain Romanesque, of late eleventh
or early twelfth century. Meanwhile, it does not appear that the
opposite height was crowned by any French fortress. Tillières must have
been a standing menace to France, without there being any standing
menace to Normandy back again. Here are our topographical facts, very
clear and simple, quite enough to account for the part which Tillières
plays in the history of the Norman duchy.

That part may be told in a few sentences, but it is a striking story
none the less. Tillières, _Tegulense castrum_, bears a name cognate with
the Kerameikos of Athens and with the Tuilleries of Paris. It was first
fortified by Duke Richard the Good, the Duke who would have none but
gentlemen about him, and in whose days the peasants arose against their
masters. He gave his sister Matilda in marriage to Odo, Count of
Chartres; he gave her lands by the Arve as her dowry; but when she died
childless, he held that he had a right to take them back again. To this
doctrine the widower naturally did not agree; disputes arose between the
two princes, and the fortress of Tillières--one would like to know its
exact shape in those days--arose as a bulwark of Normandy, beneath
whose walls the Count of Chartres underwent a defeat at the hands of
Duke Richard's lieutenants. They were Neal of Coutances and Ralph of
Toesny, speaking names in Norman history. We next hear of Tillières in
the young days of William the Great, when King Henry could no longer
endure such a standing menace to France as the castle above the Arve. It
is the Norman writers who tell us, and we have no French tale to set
against this, how the King of the French demanded the castle of
Tillières--how the young duke's guardians found it prudent to yield to
his demand--how its valiant governor, Gilbert Crispin, refused to give
it up--how the united forces of France and Normandy constrained him--how
the border-fortress was burned before all men, while the King swore that
it should not be set again for four years. But they go on to tell us how
the faithless King went on into the land of Exmes, how he burned
Argentan, and came back to fortify Tillières again as a bulwark of
France against Normandy.[58] Time passed on. King Henry fought with Duke
William at Val-ès-dunes, and fled before him at Varaville; and, as a
fruit of the last Norman victory, Tillières passed back again to its old
use as the border defence of Normandy.

With such a history as this, and with a site so well suited to the
history, one could wish that there was more at Tillières to describe
than there actually is. We should be best pleased of all if the castle
hill of Tillières was still crowned with an ancient donjon; next to that
we should like to see it in the same case as Exmes or rather as
Almenèches. But the height is taken possession of by a house of much
more pretension than the harmless farm at Almenèches, and the passing
wayfarer can do little more than follow the outer wall of the castle--a
wall with work of endless dates--round a good part of its compass.
Looking down from the height, looking up from the village, best of all
perhaps from a point of the railway just west of the Tillières station,
the general relations of castle, village, stream, and the once hostile
hills beyond, can be well taken in; but not much more than the general
relations. And the village has little to show beyond its church; and
there the Romanesque doorway is the choicest thing, as being part of our
chain of evidence. But it seems not to be on this ground that the church
of Tillières is counted among "historic monuments," that is, forbidden
to be pulled about by any one else, but destined sooner or later, to be
pulled about by the national powers. Its qualification for admission
into this class seems to be the _Renaissance_ choir. On the outside this
is about as poor a jumble of bad Gothic and bad Italian as can well be
thought of; within it has a somewhat better effect with a vault and rich
pendants. Still they are nothing like so striking as those in Saint
Gervase at Falaise, which do really make us wonder how they are kept up.
More really interesting, perhaps, is the wooden roof of the nave,
evidently as great a feat as a French artist was capable of in the way
of wooden roofs. And an eye from Somerset looks kindly at this
outlandish attempt to make a kind of coved roof, and to paint it withal.
Such a one hopes that the French Republic will not turn diocesan
architect, and try to get rid of it. But he thinks that he could show
better coved roofs at home, and he wonders why, if the coved shaped was
chosen, a system of South-Saxon tie-beams and king-posts was thrust in
as well.

We turn to the other famous border-fortress of Verneuil. Here the
position, as a position, is in no way to be compared to that of
Tillières; but we have one grand military tower; we have a much larger
town, containing several important churches and houses, and one
ecclesiastical tower which may claim a place in the very first rank of
its own class. Verneuil is a border-fortress; but it is not so ideal a
border-fortress as Tillières. It is not so close on the border; for here
Normandy has a small _Peraia_, a certain amount of territory beyond the
river. And, as Verneuil presented no such commanding point for a castle
site as Tillières did, the fortress was not placed on a height at all,
but in the lower part of the town, to guard the stream. There is a
distinct ascent in Verneuil; but nothing like the slope at Tillières
from the Norman castle down to the border-stream and from the
border-stream up again to the French hills. But there is enough rise to
make the grand ecclesiastical tower on the high ground stand out as the
most prominent object in the approach, while the grand military tower
down below makes no show at all. We were a little puzzled by Joanne's
account of Verneuil, in which he said that the castle had been
completely demolished, but that the donjon existed still. It seems that
at Verneuil, as at Argentan, castle and donjon are distinguished; but at
Verneuil castle and donjon are not, as at Argentan, separate buildings
joined only by a long wall; they stand close together and formed part of
one work. Nor is the castle as distinguished from the donjon, completely
demolished; there is a considerable fragment standing very near. The
donjon, called locally _Tourgrise_ from the colour of its stone, is a
round tower, not quite a rival of Coucy, but tall enough and big enough
to have a very striking effect. It has been lately restored or set up
again in some way, perhaps cleared out and roofed in. Anyhow Verneuil is
not a little proud of the fact, and marks its thankfulness by a great
number of rather foolish inscriptions. The tower is proclaimed to be the
work of Henry I., our Henry of Tinchebray, not the developed rebuilder
of Tillières; but this seems out of the question, as the small
doorways--we cannot guarantee the windows--have pointed arches, which
seem to be original. But the ruined fragment of the castle hard by, with
its ruder masonry and a shattered round-headed window seemed certainly
to be as early as Henry's day and very likely a good bit earlier. Hard
by the donjon seems to be a small piece of town walls; otherwise the
walls have vanished, and are, as usual, marked by boulevards. That on
the north side still keeps the character of a rampart, and is a good
place for studying the most visible ornaments of the town.

Verneuil has much to show both in churches and houses. Of the latter,
besides a good many of timber and brick, which are always pleasant to
see, there are two which are more remarkable. One is a singularly good
bit of late Gothic with windows and a graceful _tourelle_. The other has
a _tourelle_ of the same kind, but it runs off into _Renaissance_. Both
have a curious kind of masonry, squares alternately of brick and stone.
The greatest church is that of Saint Mary Magdalen, in the great open
place in the upper part of the town. Here is the grand tower, built
between 1506 and 1530, a noble design, and carried out without any
infection of foreign detail. It is practically detached, standing at the
south-west corner of a low nave. If the nave had ever been rebuilt, as
was doubtless designed, to match the later and loftier choir, the
effect of the tower would have suffered a good deal. As it is, from some
points, where the nave is not seen at all, it reminded one a little of
Limoges Cathedral, as it stood before the rebuilding of the nave was
begun. It rises by two tall stages above the church; then the square
tower changes to an octagon, a very small octagon supporting one still
smaller. It would have been far better to have given the octagon more
importance, as in most of the other great examples, French and English,
starting with Boston stump. It is further complained, and the complaint
is true, that the upper part of the square tower looks top-heavy. It was
just the same with the other Magdalen tower at Taunton till its
rebuilding. Since then, strange to say, though no difference of detail
can be seen in the rebuilt tower, the effect of top-heaviness is gone.
In both cases that effect was, doubtless, due to the piling of stage
upon stage, without making them gradually increase in lightness and
richness towards the top, as at Bishops Lydeard. But it is not a case to
find fault; the vast height, the grandeur of design, the purity of
detail at so late a time, all mark this tower as one of the noblest
works of the late French Gothic. A little way to the west is another
tower, attached to a now desecrated church, we believe of Saint John,
which was clearly built as a rival to the Magdalen tower. It is rather
smaller, and in its lower stages plainer--no fault in that; but a
little higher it begins to Italianise, and then stops altogether. An
ugly modern top is all that answers to the upper stages and octagon of
the Magdalen. The people of the Magdalen parish must have been strongly
tempted to say of their nearest neighbours, "These men began to build,
and were not able to finish."

The church to which this most stately tower is attached is not of any
great interest, beyond a simple Romanesque doorway and window in the
west front, and some very plain arches to match in the transepts. The
choir is rather poor late Gothic, spoiled by a great blank space between
arcade and clerestory. Of the nave we hardly know what to say. As it
stands, it is plainly modern; the great round pillars are hollow; but
the design is one which we can hardly fancy coming into anybody's head,
unless it reproduced something older. It is something like Boxgrove,
something like some German churches, but not exactly. A pair of
pier-arches are grouped under a single arch containing a single
clerestory window, and there is a barrel-vault above all. A church in
the hands of Huguenots, called "La Salle des Conférences," seems to have
a Romanesque shell and keeps three windows in a flat east end. Not far
from the donjon is the Decorated church of Saint Lawrence, where the
usual late Gothic dies off into _Renaissance_ at the west end. But the
other great piece of ecclesiastical work in Verneuil, besides the
Magdalen tower, is the choir of the church of Our Lady, lower down in
the town. There is an east end, such as one hardly sees on so small a
scale out of Auvergne. Here is the apse, the surrounding aisle, the
apses again projecting from the aisle; and the varied outline is made
yet more varied by a round turret of the same date and style thrown in
among the apses. The general air is early, the work plain, the masonry
simple; but the clerestory windows have pointed arches. We gaze with
delight on an outline more thoroughly picturesque than we have seen for
a long while, and which carries back our thoughts to a land of which all
the memories are pleasing. We purpose to look at it once more before we
finally turn away from Verneuil; but good intentions are not always
carried out. Let us dream of another Arvernian journey, so planned as to
take Verneuil on the road.



BEAUMONT-LE-ROGER

1892


The name of Roger of Beaumont must be well known to any who have studied
the details of the Norman Conquest of England, though Roger's own
position with regard to that event is a negative one. His sons play a
part in the Conquest itself, and yet more in the events that followed
the Conquest. In the reign of Henry I. Robert of Meulan, son of Roger of
Beaumont, but called from the French fief of his mother, is the most
prominent person after the King himself and Anselm. But Roger himself,
the old Roger, stayed in Normandy as the counsellor of Duchess Matilda,
while his eldest son followed Duke William to the war. There is interest
enough about the man himself and his belongings to give attraction to
the place which specially bears his name, and which, in truth, was his
own creation. The man and the place are called after one another. Roger
is the Roger of Beaumont; Beaumont is the Beaumont of Roger. He was not
always Roger of Beaumont; he first appears as Roger, son of Humfrey _de
Vetulis_. One learns one's map of Normandy by degrees. The description
of _De Vetulis_ is a little puzzling; it has been turned into French and
English in more ways than are right. But get out at the Beaumont station
of the Paris and Cherbourg Railway--it comes between Evreux and
Bernay--and walk to the little town of Beaumont, and a fresh light is
gained. Perhaps it strikes us for the first time, perhaps it comes up
again as a scrap of knowledge lighted up afresh, when, between the
station and the town, we pass through the _faubourg_ of _Les Vieilles_.
How it came by the name we need not ask; the name was there and is
there, and we see that Humfrey _de Vetulis_ is simply Humfrey of _Les
Vieilles_. We see that here down below was the earliest seat of the
house, till Roger climbed the _Bellus Mons_, to found his castle, to
give it his name, and to take his name from it. It is a pleasant process
when these small facts come out on the spot with a life that they can
never get out of books. A scoffer might ask whether it were worth while
to go to Beaumont-le-Roger simply to get a clearer notion of the meaning
of the words "Humfredus de Vetulis." But it is clearly worth while to go
to Beaumont-le-Roger, both for the association of the place and to see
what Roger made and what others have made since his day. At Hauteville
we could simply guess at the spot which may have witnessed the earliest
wiles of Robert the _Wiscard_: there is no doubt at all as to the scene
of the earliest wiles of one who might have been called Robert the
Wiscard just as truly. Here were spent the early days of Robert, son of
Roger, great in three lands--Lord of Beaumont, Count of Meulan, and Earl
of Leicester, forefather in the female line of the most glorious holder
of his earldom.[59]

We walk from the station with the _Bellus Mons_ plainly before us in a
general way, in the shape of a well-wooded range of high ground. But we
see no castle standing up. An abiding castle of Roger's day we hardly
look for; but we do not even see any special mount rising above the pass
of the hill, or standing out as a promontory in front of it. The most
prominent object is the parish church nestling at the foot of the hill.
We see that it has a rich tower; we presently see that it has also one
of those wonderfully lofty choirs, which seldom get westward as far as
the tower, but which, if they did, would cut down the tower to
insignificance. We are used to these things; we know that the work that
we see must be late; but that does not cut off the hope that the church
may contain something of the age of Roger or his sons. A building of
Roger's youth would be something precious. It would rank with Duchess
Judith's Abbey at Bernay, with the long and massive nave of the church
at Breteuil, in which, notwithstanding modern tamperings, we are tempted
to see a work of William Fitz-Osborn, while he was still only lord of
Breteuil, and not yet Earl of Hereford. But of Roger and his house the
church of Beaumont has no signs; all is late, save the pillars with
Transitional capitals, which peep out. The choir is very late, and in
its details very bad; here, as in a hundred other places, we wonder how
men who had such grand general conceptions could be so unlucky in the
way of carrying them out. The aisles have some good Flamboyant windows,
and the tower, if it had been carried up to its full height, would have
been a fine example of the style. And against it now lean two memorial
stones commemorating founders and foundations, but not of the house of
_De Vetulis_. They are brought from the neighbouring abbey, of which we
shall presently have to speak.

Close above the church we take a road up the hill-side. It is well to
turn presently, to take in the strange grouping of the tower and the
tall choir, as seen from a point a little above them. But our object now
is that which is historically the central, physically the loftiest,
point at Beaumont, the castle on the _Bellus Mons_ itself. We soon begin
to see fragments of masonry rising above us on the left hand. Here,
then, is the castle; and so in a sense it is. That is, it is part of
its works, within its precincts; but it is not the head work of all. We
go on a little further, and we see signs of mound and ditch plainly
enough. But we do not take in their full grandeur, till we are kindly
admitted within the gate of one of the small holdings into which the
site of the fortress of Roger's rearing is now cut up. Then we see,
indeed, why it was that "Rogerius de Vetulis" was changed into "Rogerius
de Bello Monte."

It is, indeed, a "_bellus mons_" in the sense of commanding a wide and
pleasant outlook. The town and church of Beaumont, from some points the
abbey close below, the wide vale of the Rille and the hills beyond, make
up a cheerful landscape. But if by the "_bellus mons_" we were to
understand a fair natural hill, we should be led astray. The actual site
of Roger's keep is neither a natural hill nor an artificial mound. It is
a piece of the natural hill artificially cut off from the general mass.
The founder chose a point of the hill-side which suited his objects. Its
southern face, towards the open country, was steep enough for purposes
of defence; for the rest, he cut off the piece of ground that was to be
fortified by a gigantic ditch in the form of a horse-shoe. It is a ditch
indeed, one that gladdens the eye that is looking out for such things.
There is not so much of it, but what there is seems as grand as anything
at Arques or Old Sarum. Lilybæum stands apart; Roger must have had
plenty of labour at his command; but he had not, like the engineers of
Carthage, to dig through the solid rock. It is a ditch to look down on
from above, and also to walk along in its depth, and to look up on each
side. The ground is not absolutely open all round; some obstructions of
farm-buildings, and the like, hinder one from stepping out the
horse-shoe quite as far as it goes; but the top of the mound--if mound
is the right word--is perfectly free. There are fragments of masonry
left everywhere, _but_ there is no continuous wall anywhere, nor any
scrap of detail by which we could fix a date. Still, enough is left for
all purposes of historical association, enough to show in what kind of a
place Roger of _Les Vieilles_ fixed his home. It is not exactly an
eagle's nest; for that kind of dwelling Normandy supplies fewer
opportunities than some other lands. But it comes much more nearly to an
eagle's nest than the home of any lord of Laigle who dwelled at Laigle.
The exact ground-plan Mr. Clark, and few besides Mr. Clark, could make
out. But without making out the exact ground-plan, we learn enough to
teach us not a little about both Roger's Beaumont and Beaumont's Roger.

Was the lord of Beaumont-le-Roger entitled to a _sainte chapelle_ in his
castle? Perhaps he might seem to be so when he was also Count of Meulan
and Earl of Leicester. Perhaps it might seem so still more when
Beaumont had come into the hands of French kings, and had begun to be
granted out as a _comté-pairie_ for their sons. But, seemingly before
that time, which did not come till the fourteenth century, a building
arose which is not exactly a _sainte chapelle_ within the castle, but
which is very near to the castle, and which has very much the air of a
_sainte chapelle_. When we speak of a _sainte chapelle_ we, of course,
mean a _sainte chapelle_ anywhere, whether at Riom, Paris, or anywhere
else. This building is the abbey church of Beaumont, which stands just
below the castle on the hill-side, a building once evidently of
remarkable beauty. Perhaps the most notable feature about it is the
ascent from the road below to the abbey buildings, a covered passage
lighted by large early Geometrical windows. We make our way up and
presently reach the abbey itself. It is plain that on this narrow ledge
on the hill-side it was no more possible than it was on the steep of
Saint Michael's Mount to put the several buildings of the monastery in
their accustomed relation to the church and to one another. Too much has
perished for any one but a specialist in monastic arrangements to
attempt to spell out the buildings of the monastery in detail; but it
seems that a good deal lay to the westward of the church which in
ordinary cases would have been placed to the north or south. The church
is but a fragment; the north and east walls are there, and from them we
can reconstruct it. "East Wall" is here a phrase that may be used; for
we are a little amazed to find that the church had no apse, but an
English-looking flat end. The large east window has lost its tracery,
which should have been something of the pattern of the Angels' Choir at
Lincoln. The whole of the work that remains is of the best French Early
Gothic. Seen from below, from the bridge across the Rille at no great
distance, there is something wonderfully striking in this single side of
the church, an inside seen from outside, with its sheltered windows and
vaulting-shafts, standing against the side of the castle-hill. How was
it when both abbey and castle were perfect? As it is, the abbey is the
more prominent of the two. We can see at least a piece of it, while we
have to guess at the castle; none of its fragments stand out at any
distance. Yet, even looking thus, the abbey seems something subordinate,
something dependent; it seems crowded into an unnatural position in
order to be an appendage to something else. The parish church stands out
boldly enough. It has a right to do so; it came in the order of nature.
It proclaims the separate being of the town of Beaumont. The town of
Beaumont doubtless sprang up because of the presence of the castle; but
it sprang up by an independent growth; it was not the personal creation
of any of its lords. The abbey, on the other hand, placed on so strange
a site, was clearly the personal device of its own founder, who may have
felt a number of very different feelings gratified, as he saw an abbey
of his own making at his feet.

The result is an abbatial church unlike all other abbatial churches. The
abbey of Beaumont is very beautiful, while the abbey of Almenèches is
very ugly; yet Almenèches comes one degree nearer than Beaumont to one's
ordinary notion of an abbey church. The abbey of Beaumont must have been
a lovely chapel, but only a chapel. If it stood in its perfect state at
Caen, among that wonderful group of noble minsters and great parish
churches, it would strike us as a beautiful, but a small thing. This is
not the usual position of the church of an abbey. It was, in fact, a
pious and artistic fancy; while not, in strictness of description, a
_sainte chapelle_ or other chapel of a castle, it has all the effect of
being such. Or in its position against the hill-side, it may call up the
memory of Brantôme far away in Périgord;[60] it has nothing in common
with a typical abbey church like Saint-Evroul, except the accident of
being much of the same date and style.

One building still remains to be noticed in the Beaumont of Roger. That
is the church of his earliest home at Les Vieilles. It had, or was meant
to have, a pretty thirteenth-century tower. But the church is a mere
fragment, mutilated, desecrated, shut up. A decently kept ruin is far
less offensive than a church in such a state as this. But the thought
again comes, as at Saint-Evroul, how short a time has passed since the
parish church of Les Vieilles and the abbey church of Beaumont were both
living things. No man now alive can remember them such; but not so many
years back many could. In 1861 we talked with one who remembered the
abbey church of Bernay in the full extent of its choir and Lady-chapel.
We go back after thirty years to find the church of the Conqueror's
grandmother in other things much as it was, still desecrated, but with
no more of actual destruction. But we find that the one genuine Roman
shaft that was there, one of the very few such north of Loire, has
either perished or has been so covered up with timber framework as to be
quite out of sight. And one later, but still early capital, had been
knocked away to make a convenient resting-place for a wooden beam. One
would think that such a building as this, even if it cannot be restored
to divine worship, might at least be made _monument historique_ and
taken care of. Only then the State would some day come and take away
every real shaft and every real capital, and put imitation shafts and
capitals in their stead. And that might be even worse than the wooden
beams.



JUBLAINS

1876


We know not how far the name of Silchester may be known among Frenchmen,
but we suspect that the name of Jublains is very little known among
Englishmen. The two places certainly very nearly answer to one another
in the two countries. Both alike are buried Roman towns whose sites had
been forsaken, or occupied only by small villages; both have supplied
modern inquirers with endless stores both of walls and foundations and
of movable relics; and the two spots further agree in this, that both at
Silchester and at Jublains the history of the place has to be made out
from the place itself; all that we can do is to make out the Roman
names; we have no record of the history of either.[61] The names which
the two places now bear respectively illustrate the rules of French and
English nomenclature. Silchester proclaims itself by its English name
to have been a Roman _castrum_, but it keeps no trace of its Roman name
of Calleva. But Næodunum of the Diablintes follows the same rule as
Lutetia of the Parisii. The old name of the town itself is forgotten,
but the name of the tribe still lives. The case is not quite so clear as
that of Paris; some unlucky etymologists have seen in the name Jublains
traces of _Jules_ and of _bains_; but a moment's thought will show that
the name is a natural corruption of _Diablintes_. The name is spelled
several ways, of which _Jublains_ is now the one in vogue; but another
form, _Jublent_, better brings out its origin. As for the two places
themselves, Jublains and Silchester, each of them has its points in
which it surpasses the other. At Silchester there is the town-wall,
nearly perfect throughout the whole of its circuit. Jublains fails here;
but, on the other hand, Silchester has no one object to set against the
magnificent remains of the fortress or citadel, the traditional camp of
Cæsar. Silchester again has the great advantage of being systematically
and skilfully dug out, while Jublains has been examined only piecemeal.
This again illustrates the difference between the state of ownership in
England and in France. Silchester is at the command of a single will,
which happily is in the present generation wisely guided. Jublains must
fare as may seem good to a multitude of separate wills, of which it is
too much to expect that all will at any time be wisely guided. But it
is worth while to remember on the other hand that a single foolish Duke
may easily do more mischief than several wise Dukes can do good, and
that out of the many owners of Jublains, if we cannot expect all at any
time to be wise, there is a fair chance that at no moment will every one
of them be foolish.

At the present moment most certainly several of the owners of Jublains
are the opposite of foolish, and the most important monument of all is
placed beyond the individual caprice of any man. The great fortress is
diligently taken care of under the authority of the local Archæological
Society; the theatre is the property of M. Henri Barbe, a zealous
resident antiquary and the historian of the place; and the other chief
remains are easily accessible, and, as far as we can see, stand in no
danger. But it is of course impossible to dig up the whole place in the
same way as Silchester has been dug up. The modern Diablintes must live
somewhere; no power short of that of an Eastern despot can expel them
all from the sites of their predecessors, even to make the ways and
works of those predecessors more clearly known.

But we have as yet hardly said what and where Jublains is. It lies in
the old county and diocese of Maine, in the modern department of
Mayenne, on the road between the towns of Mayenne and Evron. The site
was, as the local historian well points out, one admirably chosen for
the site of a town, standing as it does at the point of junction of the
roads from various parts of Central and Northern Gaul and from the
Constantine and Armorican peninsulas. It stands on a gently sloping
height, with a wide view over the flatter land to the south, and over
the Cenomannian hills more to the east, the peak of Montaigu, namesake
of our own Montacute, forming a prominent object. The traveller coming
along the road from Mayenne, the most likely point of approach, will
hardly notice anything remarkable till he reaches the parish church, a
building of no special importance, but which has a bell-gable of a type
more familiar in Britain than in Gaul. Here, if he has any eyes at all,
he will see that the church is built on the foundations of some much
larger and earlier building. The masses of Roman masonry are clear
enough, with two round projections near the two western angles of the
church. These are the remains of the _thermæ_ of Næodunum, and the
traveller has in fact passed through the greater part of the ancient
city to reach them. There are plenty of other and far greater remains;
but this is the only one which lies immediately on the road by which the
traveller is likely to come. The enclosed space of the town was an
irregular four-sided figure, with no distinct four streets of a
_chester_, but rather with a greater number of ways meeting together,
like our Godmanchester. The whole eastern side of the town is full of
remains among the fields and gardens; not far from the northern
entrance, a field or two away from the road, are the very distinct
foundations of a temple locally known as that of Fortune. A walk over
two or three more fields, crossed by traces of foundations at almost
every step, brings the traveller to a more singular object, known
locally as _La Tonnelle_, which looks very much like the foundation of a
round temple, such as that of Hercules (late Vesta) at Rome. And
something like the effect of such a temple is accidentally preserved. A
line of trees follows the circular sweep of the foundations, and their
trunks really make no bad representatives of the columns of the temple.
In short, when the traveller is once put upon the scent, he finds scraps
of ancient Næodunum at every step of his walk through Jublains and its
fields.

But the most important remains of all lie in the south-western part of
the old enclosure. To the extreme south of the city lies the theatre.
This is happily the property of M. Barbe, who lives and carries on his
researches within its precinct. Its general plan has been made out, and,
as diggings go on, the rows of seats are gradually becoming visible. It
differs from the shape of most other theatres, as its curved line
occupies more than a semicircle, like the shape of a Saracenic
horse-shoe arch. It seems that no signs of an amphitheatre had been
found at Jublains; so M. Barbe is driven to the conclusion that the
same building must have been used for both purposes. How far this is
archæologically sound we must leave to those who are specially learned
in amphitheatres to determine. But we cannot forget the dissatisfied
audience in Horace who, between the acts, or even during the performance
itself, called for "aut ursum aut pugiles." The position, sloping away
to the south, is indeed a lovely one, and we may congratulate the man
who has found at once his home and his work on such a spot.

But the great sight of all at Jublains, that which gives its special
character to the place, but which has also a history of its own distinct
from the place, has yet to be spoken of. We have kept it for the last,
both because of its special history and because it seems to be the only
thing which is locally recognised as a place of pilgrimage. Tell your
driver to take you to Jublains, and he will at once take you to "le camp
de Jules César." He knows the other objects perfectly well; but, unless
he is specially asked, he assumes that this one point is the object of
the journey. Nor is this wonderful; for the camp, fortress, citadel,
whatever it is to be called, though most assuredly not the work of the
great Dictator, is after all the great object at Jublains, which gives
Jublains its special place among Gaulish and Roman cities. More than
this, it is the one object which stands out before all eyes, and which
must fix on itself the notice of the most careless passer-by. Suddenly,
by the roadside, we come on massive Roman walls, preserved to an unusual
proportion of their height. Their circuit may in everyday speech be
called a square, though strict mathematical accuracy must pronounce it
to be a trapezium. Near the entrance we mark some fragments gathered
together, and the eye is regaled, as it so often is in Italy and so
seldom in Britain and Northern Gaul, with the sight of the Corinthian
acanthus leaf. The wall itself, on the other hand, is of that
construction of which we see so much in Britain and in Northern Gaul,
but which is unknown in Rome itself. Here are the familiar layers of
small stones with the alternate ranges of bricks. We enter where the
eastern gate has been, and find a second line of defence, a wall of
earth, square, or nearly so, but with its angles rounded off, with its
single entrance near the south-east angle carefully kept away from
either of the approaches in the outer wall. Within this again is the
fortress itself, again quadrangular, with projections at the angles. The
more finished parts of its walls, the gateways, and the parts adjoining
them, give us specimens of Roman masonry whose vast stones carry us
back, be it to the wall of _Roma Quadrata_ at one end or to the Black
Gate of Trier at the other, and which specially call back the latter in
the marks of the metal clamps which have been torn away. Details must
be studied on the spot or in the works of M. Barbe, which is nearly the
same thing, as they seem to be had only on the spot. But there are not
many remains of Roman work more striking than this, and it is more
striking still if we try to make out its probable history from the
internal evidence, which is all that we have to guide us.

That this fortress does not belong to any early period of the Roman
occupation is clear from its construction, the alternate layers of brick
and stone, and the bricks with wide joints of masonry between them, as
in all the later Roman work. And again, the fact that among the
materials of the fortress have been found pieces of other buildings used
up again might suggest that it was not built till after some time of
change, perhaps of destruction, had come over the city. But it is the
numismatic evidence which clearly parts off the history of the fortress
from the general history of the city. Jublains has no inscriptions to
show, but its numismatic wealth is great. Among the many coins found,
not many are earlier than the time of Nero, and those which there are
are chiefly coins of Germanicus. From Nero to Constantine coins of all
dates are common. It is M. Barbe's inference that it was in Nero's reign
that the place began to be of importance, and that its great temple was
built. But the numismatic stores of the fortress taken by itself tell
quite another story. There, not a coin has been found earlier than
Domitian, nor one later than Aurelian, saving a chance find of two
Carolingian pieces of Charles the Bald and a modern French piece of
Charles the Sixth. Again, though coins are found from Domitian onwards,
it is only with Valerian and Gallienus that they become at all common,
while the great mass belong to Tetricus and his son. One alone is of
Aurelian. That is to say, of 169 coins found in the fortress, 151 come
in the twenty years from 258 to 273, while 110 belong to the single
reign of the Tetrici. After Aurelian there is nothing earlier than
Charles the Bald. It is clear then that the fortress must have been
deserted in the reign of Aurelian; it is clear that the time of its
chief importance must have been just before, in the time of Tetricus. It
looks as if the fortress had had but a very short life. The conclusion of
the local antiquaries is that it was most likely raised by Postumus, and
that it perished in some revolt or sedition, or merely as the result of
the overthrow of Tetricus by Aurelian. A mere glance at the building
would have tempted us to put it a little later, to have set it down as
part of the defences of Probus, or even of some Emperor much later than
Probus. But the numismatic evidence seems irresistible; it seems
impossible to escape the conclusion that this splendid piece of Roman
military work belongs to the middle of the third century, and that it
was forsaken, most likely slighted, within a very few years after its
first building.

This is as curious and conclusive a piece of internal evidence as we
often light upon; but it must be remembered that all this applies only
to the fortress, and not to the town of Næodunum. That had a much longer
life. It began long before the fortress, and it went on long after. The
diggings at Jublains have brought to light a great number of Christian
Frankish objects, which shows that the place kept on some measure of
importance long after the Teutonic conquest of Gaul. It seems also to be
looked upon as a kind of secondary seat of the Cenomannian bishopric.
But it must either have died out bit by bit, or else have perished in
some later convulsion. The local inquirers seem to incline to attribute
the final destruction of Næodunum, the City of the Diablintes in the
nomenclature of the time, to the incursions of the Northmen in the ninth
century. That they did a great deal of mischief in Maine is certain; and
is a likely enough time for the city to have been finally swept away as
a city, and to have left only the insignificant modern village which has
grown up amongst its ruins.

Jublains then, Diablintes, Næodunum, whatever it is to be called, has a
special place among fallen Roman cities. Aquileia and Salona once ranked
among the great cities of the earth; their destruction is matter of
recorded history. The destruction of Uriconium is so far matter of
recorded history that a reference to it has been detected in the wail of
a British poet. The fall of Anderida was sung by our own gleemen and
recorded by our own chroniclers. But the fall of Calleva and the fall of
Næodunum are alike matters of inference. Geography shows that Calleva
fell in the northern march of Cerdic, and the most speaking of all Roman
relics, the treasured and hidden eagle, abides as a witness of the day
when our fathers overthrew it.[62] Næodunum seems to have undergone no
such overthrow as those wrought by the Hun, the Avar, and the Saxon. But
the evidence of buildings and of coins reveals to us a most important
and singular piece of the internal history of the Roman province of
Gaul. The city of the Diablintes itself may have been finally swept away
by Hasting or Rolf; but the greatest thing in Næodunum, the Roman
fortress, must have been, perhaps broken down, certainly forsaken, by
the hands of men who called themselves Romans, while its bricks and
stones were still in their first freshness. Nowhere is the truth more
strongly brought home to us that there is another kind of evidence
besides chronicles, besides even written documents, the evidence of the
works of the men themselves who did deeds which no one took the trouble
to record with the pen or with the graving tool.



THE CHURCHES OF CHARTRES AND LE MANS

1868


It is sometimes curious to see how far the popular fame of buildings is
from answering either to their architectural merit or to their historic
interest. Take, for instance, the two cathedrals of Chartres and Le
Mans, two cities placed within no very great distance of one another, on
one of the great French lines of railway, that which leads from Paris to
Brest. Chartres is a name which is familiar to every one; its cathedral
is counted among the great churches of Christendom; men speak of it in
the same breath with Amiens and Ely. Le Mans, on the other hand, is
scarcely known; we suspect that many fairly informed persons hardly know
where the city itself is; the cathedral is hardly ever spoken of, and,
we believe, is scarcely at all known, except to professed architectural
students. Yet, except that Chartres is nearer Paris of the two, one is
as accessible as the other; the historical associations of Chartres, as
far at least as Englishmen are concerned, certainly cannot be compared
to those of Le Mans; there is nothing at Chartres to set against the
early military and domestic antiquities of Le Mans; the secondary
churches of Le Mans distinctly surpass those of Chartres; though between
the two cathedral churches the controversy might be more equally waged.
Each has great and diverse merits; but for our own part, we have little
hesitation in preferring Le Mans even as a work of architecture; that it
is a building of higher historic interest there can be no doubt
whatever.

Both cities belong to a class of which we have few or none in England. A
Celtic hill-fort, crowning a height rising steeply from a river-side,
has grown into a Roman city, and the Roman city has remained to our own
times the local capital, alike civil and ecclesiastical. It would be
hardly possible to find a single town in England whose history has run
the same course--a course which is by no means peculiar to Chartres and
Le Mans, but which they share with many other cities in all parts of
Gaul. And Le Mans especially has a local history of unusual interest,
and that history is written with unusual clearness on the site and the
earliest remains of the town. But on that history we shall not at
present enlarge. Our present object is to compare the churches of the
two towns, especially the two great cathedrals, which, as usual, stand
within the earliest enclosure, and therefore upon the highest ground in
their respective cities.

Two or three events connect the cathedral of Chartres with general and
with English history. The first church of which any part survives is
that raised by Fulbert, the famous Bishop of Chartres in the early part
of the eleventh century, and the most diligent letter-writer of the
time. To this work, of which a vast crypt still remains, our great Cnut
was a benefactor. The dignity of the Lord of all Northern Europe has so
deeply impressed the writer of Murray's Handbook that he cuts him into
two, and speaks of the contributions of the Kings of England, France,
and Denmark. In the latter part of the next century, John of Salisbury,
so famous in the great struggle between Henry and Thomas, held the
Bishopric of Chartres. It was the spires of Chartres to which Edward the
Third stretched forth his hands when his heart smote him at the sound of
the thunder, and he vowed to refuse no honourable terms of peace. In was
in this cathedral that Henry of Navarre received the crown of France, a
new holy oil of Marmoutiers being extemporized to supply the place of
the inaccessible holy oil of Rheims. The history of the city and county
in earlier times is closely mixed up with those of France, Normandy,
Anjou, and Champagne. The counts of Chartres and Blois in the tenth,
eleventh, and twelfth centuries were men of importance in their day,
and one of them directly connected himself with England by a memorable
marriage. Chartres was long the dwelling-place of the excellent Adela,
the daughter of the Great William, the mother of King Stephen and of the
famous Bishop Henry of Winchester. But, while Chartres was thus closely,
though indirectly, connected with our history, it never, like Le Mans,
actually formed a part of the dominions of a common sovereign with
England and Normandy.

The cathedrals of Chartres and Le Mans are about as unlike as any two
great mediæval churches well can be. Well nigh the only point of
likeness is that each possesses a magnificent east end of the thirteenth
century, of the usual French plan, with the apse, the surrounding
chapels, the complicated system of flying buttresses. But at Chartres
this east end is part of a whole. The crypt still witnesses to the days
of Fulbert, the lower stages of the western towers to those of Adela and
to those of John of Salisbury; but all the rest of the church, including
of course all the interior, is of an uniform style and design. The
church throughout follows the usual type of great French churches; the
eye accustomed to the buildings of England or Normandy misses the
central towers of Lincoln or of Saint Ouen's, but Chartres is not in
England or in Normandy, but in France, and its church is built
accordingly. A fairer question of taste is raised by the unequal spires
of the west front--a French feature again, but occasionally extending
into Normandy and England, as at Rouen, Llandaff, Lynn, and Canterbury
as it was. But it is only in so long and varied a front as that of Rouen
Cathedral that it is at all satisfactory. At Chartres the great south
spire is modern and of iron, but we believe it very well reproduces the
outline of the elder one of wood, and it certainly comes down heavily
and awkwardly upon the towers and upon the roof of the church. The upper
part of the north tower is frittered away with work of a later style.
Still, allowing for the diversity of the towers, which of course does
not appear inside, Chartres is a whole--a consistent, harmonious whole,
of great, though we cannot think of first-rate, excellence. How does
such a whole stand as compared with a building of strange, and at first
sight, unintelligible outline, formed by the juxtaposition of two parts,
each of admirable merit in itself, but which startle by their absolute
contrast in every way? Chartres was made, Le Mans eminently grew; and
different minds will be differently inclined in the comparison between a
single harmonious work of art and a union of two buildings widely
differing in date, style, and proportion. But, on the other hand, it
must be said that nothing at Chartres equals the parts of Le Mans
taken separately, and that, in the inside at least, the incongruity of
Le Mans is far from being felt in the unpleasant way that might have
been looked for.

[Illustration: Le Mans Cathedral, N.W.]

The general effect of Le Mans Cathedral, as seen from any point but the
east, is certainly perplexing. From the east indeed, from the open place
below the church and the Roman wall, once a marsh, the apse, with its
flying buttresses and surrounding chapels, rises in a grandeur before
which Chartres is absolutely dwarfed, and which gives Amiens itself a
very formidable rival. We here see the main source of our difficulties,
namely that the church has but a single tower, and that at the end of
the south transept. Viewed from any other point--looking up, for
instance, at the old town from the other side of the river--what one
sees is a lofty body with a tower at one end of it, which one is
inclined rashly to assume to be the nave, with a western tower, and a
lower body joining it at right angles. This last is the real nave of the
church, and a magnificent building it is. The truth is that, at Le Mans,
as in various other churches in France, the Gothic builders, from the
thirteenth century onwards, designed a complete rebuilding. They began
at the east, they rebuilt the choir and transepts, but they never got
any further, so that the ancient nave remains. So it is at Bordeaux and
Toulouse; so it is at Beauvais, where the small but precious fragment
of early work, which looks like an excrescence against the gigantic
transept--the _Basse Oeuvre_, as it is locally called--is really the
ancient nave--.[63] So it is in a certain sense at Limoges, where a gap
intervenes between the finished choir and transept and the western tower
of the original design. But in none of these cases, as far as we can
see, can the elder nave have at all approached the grandeur of the noble
work at Le Mans. It is a Romanesque building of the eleventh century,
reconstructed in the gorgeous style which prevailed towards the end of
the twelfth. The outer walls, except in the clerestory, are of the
former date, and the contrast in the masonry is very striking. Within,
the whole has been recast in the later form of Romanesque, but it has
not been wholly rebuilt. Columns with rich and highly classical
capitals, supporting arches which are just pointed, have been inserted
under the massive round arches of the original church, but the arches
are still there and visible. The triforium and clerestory have been
wholly reconstructed, or so thoroughly disguised that the old work does
not appear. This nave is one of those buildings which, in the infancy of
vaulting, their builders found it convenient to vault with one bay of
vaulting over two bays of arcade, as in the choir of Boxgrove in the
next century. The result is that the piers are alternately columnar and
clustered. Setting aside a few of the very grandest buildings of the
style--as one would hardly compare this nave with Peterborough, Ely, or
Saint Stephen's--this Romanesque nave of Le Mans is one of the finest
works of its kind to be found anywhere. And its juxtaposition with the
superb Gothic choir is less incongruous than might have been looked for.
The only fault is that, as it now stands, the nave ends abruptly to the
east with a mere vaulting rib, without any proper choir-arch. But this
fault is fully balanced by the glorious view of the choir thus given to
the whole church. That any one could compare the inside of Chartres with
the inside of Le Mans, thus seen, seems incredible. The height of Le
Mans is said to be a few feet greater than that of Chartres. It looks
half as high again. At Chartres the height is lost through the great
width, and through the use of a low spring for the vaulting arch. At Le
Mans everything soars as only a Gothic building, and pre-eminently a
French Gothic building, can soar. The pillars, of enormous height,
support the clerestory without a triforium. But the effect of the
triforium is there still. The aisles are double, and the inner
range--itself of the height of the nave of Wells and Exeter--is
furnished with a complete triforium and clerestory, which, seen between
the pillars of the apses, allow the sort of break which the triforium
gives to be combined with the grand effect of the full unbroken columns.
Something of the same kind is found at Bourges, and, on a much smaller
scale, at Coutances. The effect of the arrangement comes out in
perfection at Le Mans. Altogether, little as the building seems to be
known, the thirteenth-century work at Le Mans undoubtedly entitles it to
rank among the noblest churches of the middle ages. One point more on
the Romanesque church of Le Mans. The original design embraced two
towers at the end of the transept, like Exeter, Ottery, and seemingly
Saint Martin's at Tours. These towers were destroyed by order of William
Rufus, who charged the Bishop Hildebert with having used them to shoot
at the neighbouring castle.[64] The north tower has never been rebuilt;
its ruins are there to this day. The southern tower was again rebuilt at
the end of the twelfth century and finished in the fifteenth. This is
surely as speaking a bit of architectural history as one often finds.

[Illustration: Interior of Le Mans Cathedral]

The writer in Murray, in his zeal for the cathedral of Chartres, assumes
that no one will care to visit such inferior buildings as the other
churches of that city. Let no man be thus led astray. In the general
view of the city from the walks to the south-east, one of the most
effective views to be had of any city, two other churches stand out very
strikingly, the cathedral crowning all. Of these Saint Anian, we must
confess, is somewhat of a deceiver. The distant effect is good, but
there is little to repay a nearer examination. It is far otherwise with
the Abbey of Saint Peter, whose apse, though on a far smaller scale, is
distinctly more skilfully managed than that of the cathedral. The
disused collegiate church of Saint Andrew has some good Transitional
work, and Saint Martin-in-the-Vale, just outside the town, is a gem of
bold and simple Romanesque. But the secondary churches of Chartres do
not equal those of Le Mans, while Chartres is still further behind Le
Mans in military and domestic remains. At Le Mans the Abbey of La
Couture (_de culturâ Dei_) is a perfect minster with two unfinished
western towers, a nave of Aquitanian width,[65] a fine Romanesque apse,
in which, if later windows have been inserted, some small fragments of
some early work have also been preserved. Beyond the Sarthe is another
fine Romanesque church, also a complete minster, the church of
Notre-Dame-du-Pré. A fine hospital, the work of Henry the Second, is now
perverted to some military purpose, and some military tomfoolery forbids
examination, in marked contrast to the liberal spirit which allows free
access to everything that the antiquary can wish to visit at
Fontevrault and at Saumur. But the ecclesiastical remains of Le Mans are
far from being the whole of its attractions. Its military and civil
antiquities are endless, and they are more characteristic. We have not
the least wish to depreciate Chartres. It is a highly interesting city;
it contains a magnificent cathedral and several other remarkable
buildings. But it cannot compare with Le Mans.

[Illustration: St. Martin-in-the-Vale, Chartres]

[Illustration: Apse of La Couture, Le Mans]



LE MANS

1876


We spoke some years ago of the architectural character of the chief
churches of Le Mans, especially in comparison with those of Chartres.
But the comparison was of a purely architectural kind, and hardly
touched the general history and special position of the Cenomannian city
among the cities of Gaul. That position is one which is almost unique.
The city of the Cenomanni, the modern Le Mans, has never stood in the
first rank of the cities of Europe, or even of Gaul; but there are few
which are the centres of deeper or more varied interests. Le Mans has at
once a princely, an ecclesiastical, and, above all, a municipal history.
It is true that its princely and its ecclesiastical history are spread
over many ages, while its municipal history is a thing of a moment; yet
it is the municipal history which gives Le Mans its special character.
Le Mans, in the course of its long history, has been many things; but it
is before all things the city of the _commune_. Among cities north of
the Loire--it might perhaps be unsafe to say among cities north of the
Alps--Le Mans shares with Exeter the credit of asserting the position of
a civic commonwealth in days when, even in more Southern lands, the
steps taken in that direction were as yet but very imperfect. And it was
against the same enemy that freedom was asserted by the insular and by
the continental city. The freedom of Exeter and the freedom of Le Mans
were alike asserted against the man who appeared in Maine as no less
distinctly the Conqueror than he appeared in England. Exeter, in her
character of commonwealth, checked the progress of William by the most
determined opposition that he met with in the course of his insular
conquest. Le Mans, conquered before William crossed the sea, threw off
his yoke when he was master of the island as well as of the mainland.
Had the men either of the island or of the mainland been capable of any
enlarged political combinations, England and Maine would have done
wisely to unite their forces against the common enemy. And it is just
possible that those obscure dealings of Earl Harold with the powers of
Gaul, which are dimly alluded to by the biographer of Eadward, may have
had some object of this kind. But, if so, nothing practical came of
them. Maine and England did nothing to help one another. In fact, when
Maine was won back to William's obedience, the work was largely done by
English hands, and those the hands of men who, there is some reason to
think, had Hereward himself as their captain. The actual relations
between England and Maine in the eleventh century were thus the exact
opposite of what they ought to have been. Englishmen appeared on the
mainland as the ravagers and conquerors of a district whose people ought
to have been their closest allies. Still even this kind of negative
relation does establish a kind of connexion between Maine and England.
Above all, it establishes a special analogy between the English city
which withstood the Conqueror, and the Gaulish city which revolted
against him, in the name of the same principle which a century later was
to do such great things among the cities of Lombardy.

The moment then of greatest interest in the history of the Cenomannian
city is the moment of its short-lived republican independence. In the
case of Le Mans, as in the case of Exeter, we should be well pleased if
we knew more of the exact form of commonwealth which it was proposed to
establish, and, above all, of the relations which were to be maintained
between the city and the surrounding districts. Most likely nothing of
the kind was ever put into shape. The commonwealth of Le Mans and the
commonwealth of Exeter both sprang into being in a moment of patriotic
enthusiasm, when the city and the surrounding districts were fully
united in a vigorous effort against the common enemy. How the two were
to get on together in more settled times they most likely did not stop
to think. What we do know is that the citizens of Le Mans made a
_commune_, that the people of the country at large zealously supported
them, that the nobles swore to the new commonwealth unwillingly, and, in
some cases, even dishonestly. All that we know about the matter comes
from the historian of the Cenomannian Bishops, who first of all thinks
the _commune_ which the Norman Bishop naturally opposed to be a very
wicked thing, but who afterwards, when it came to actual fighting,
cannot help sympathising with the men of his own city. There was a
_commune_ of Le Mans, a _commune_ in which all Maine shared, a _commune_
which the Bishops and the nobles had to join against their will, and
which one of the nobles betrayed as soon as he could.[66] That is about
all our knowledge; it is just enough to make us wish to know a good deal
more. It is enough to throw over Le Mans and Maine an interest which is
shared by no other city and province of Northern Gaul; and it makes us
feel a kind of disappointment in the inevitable fact that the greatest
moment in the history of the city is exactly the one which has left no
trace in its existing monuments.

Of the times earlier and later than the republican movement of the
eleventh century Le Mans has abundant remains of all kinds. No city is
more distinctly the Gaulish hill-fort which has gradually swelled into
the Roman, the mediæval, and the modern city. Yet the height of Le Mans
is neither so lofty nor so isolated as those of many of its fellows. It
is not a detached hill at all, nor does the city stand on the highest
ground in its own immediate neighbourhood; and on the eastern, the
inland side, the slope of the rising ground is very gradual. Yet the
site of the hill-fort which grew into the city was happily chosen. It
was pitched on the point where the high ground comes close to the river
Sarthe and rises precipitously above it. From the river side then, the
western side, Le Mans has most distinctly the character of a hill city,
which comes out much less strongly in the approach from the east, while
in the approach from the north, where there is an actual descent into
the ancient city, it is altogether lost. It is from the river side then
that those who wish--while there is yet time--to get a notion of what
the Cenomannian city was, either in Roman or in mediæval times, must go
to look for it. The city has extended itself on this side as well as on
the others, but it has extended itself in the form of an outlying
suburb beyond the river. To the west, the north, and the south, the
spread of the modern town has done much to wipe out the ancient
landmarks.

The Roman remains of Le Mans show well how the conquering race in their
distant foundations knew how to adapt themselves to every kind of
position. There was one type of city which was preferred wherever the
ground allowed of it; but that type was freely forsaken whenever
practical necessity commanded that it should be forsaken. The hill of
Vindinum, Suindinum, Subdinnum, whichever form we are to choose, therein
differing from the hill of Isca, was not at all suited for the laying
out of a city according to the familiar type of a Roman _chester_. The
high ground immediately overlooking the river formed a long narrow
ridge, and the space included within the Roman walls--_la Cité_, as
distinguished from the more modern parts of the town--shows no approach
to a square, but forms an irregular figure, which only by a stretch of
courtesy can be called even an oblong. Within this again the chief
ecclesiastical street, the _Rue des Chanoines_, running parallel with
the more secular _Grande Rue_, bears in mediæval documents the strange
title of _Vetus Roma_, which has been held to point to a still earlier
enclosure, that of the primitive Gaulish fort itself. Of the Roman
walls, whose construction, like that of most Roman walls in Gaul and
Britain, shows them to be not earlier than the third century, large
portions still remain; indeed a little time back it might have been said
that the river front of the wall, with its noble range of round
bastions, was all but absolutely perfect. On the other side, towards the
modern town, the wall was less perfect, but even there a great deal
could be made out. But the Roman walls did not take in the whole even of
the mediæval city. In the thirteenth century an outer range of wall was
raised close to the stream, taking in the suburb of _La Tannerie_; an
extension to the south and south-east took in the quarter of Saint
Ben'et, and another suburb called _L'Epéron_. More remarkably still, at
the north-east corner of the Roman inclosure, the growth of the
cathedral of Saint Julian to the east, exactly as in the case of
Lincoln, overleaped the Roman wall and caused a further enlargement at
this corner. It should be noticed that, contrary to the general Gaulish
rule, the church of Le Mans stood in a corner of the original city, so
as to make somewhat of an ecclesiastical quarter after a fashion English
rather than Gaulish. In the Cenomannian state, the Prince, the Bishop,
and the citizens all held their distinct places, and it was reasonable
that their geographical quarters should be marked also. In fact, in the
great days of Cenomannian history the Bishop was a power independent
alike of Count and city. He owed temporal allegiance to neither, but
held directly of the King at Laon or at Paris. Had the development of
things in Gaul followed the same course as the development of things in
Germany, Maine might have seen, like so many German lands, the
ecclesiastical and the temporal principality and the free city, all side
by side, bound together by no tie beyond such degree of dependence as
any of them might have kept on the common centre. But when county,
bishopric, and city all came under the strong hand of the Norman, all
tendencies of this kind were checked. And they perished for ever when
Normandy and Maine, instead of external fiefs, became incorporated
provinces of the French kingdom.

Within and around the walls of the city there arose in different ages a
series of buildings, ecclesiastical, military, and civil, which might
claim for Le Mans a place among the cities of Gaul and Europe next after
those cities which had been the actual seats of imperial or royal
dominion. Above the river rose the double line of walls and towers,
Roman and mediæval, and high above them the vast and wondrous pile of
Saint Julian's minster. On the side away from the river, the side
pointing towards the hostile land of Anjou, built on the Roman wall
itself and seemingly out of Roman materials, stood the palace of the
Counts, well placed indeed for Count Herbert, _Evigilans Canem_, to
sally forth on the nightly raids before which black Angers trembled.[67]
And besides the dwellings of the temporal and spiritual chiefs, the
ancient streets of Le Mans were set thick with houses, the dwellings of
priests and citizens, which showed how well both classes throve, and how
each did something for the adornment of the city in every form of art,
from Romanesque to _Renaissance_. But a little time back the traveller
might have seen at Le Mans more houses of the twelfth century than he
would see anywhere north of Venice. And besides the works of her own
princes, bishops, and citizens, Le Mans had also once to show the
grimmer memorials of her conquerors. But, as not uncommonly happens, the
memorials of the earlier time have outlived those of the later. At the
northern end of the city William thought it needful to strengthen his
greatest continental conquest by two distinct fortresses. Close by Saint
Julian's, just outside the eastern line of the Roman wall, and formed,
we may believe, out of its materials, rose the Castle, the _Regia
turris_. Some way to the north-east, at a greater distance from the
river, rose the fortress of _Mons Barbatus_ or _Mont Barbet_, this last
standing on higher ground than the city and the royal tower. But of the
royal tower itself, and of the fortress into which it grew in later
times, a few fragments only have escaped the politic destruction of the
days of Richelieu. Of Mont Barbet nothing is left but the _motte_ or
_agger_, dating doubtless from far earlier days, but which, as so often
happens, has outlived the buildings which were placed upon and around
it. One would have been well pleased to see the whole line of defence,
the double wall of the city, the double fortress of the Conqueror,
grouping, as they must have done, with the endless towers and spires of
the monastic and parochial churches of the city and its suburbs.

For, besides the great cathedral church within its walls, Le Mans was,
as it were, girded with great ecclesiastical buildings. Two noble
monastic churches, those of La Couture, on the south-eastern side of the
city, and of Le Pré, on the other side of the river, still remain; and
we have spoken of their architectural character in past years.[68] There
were also the Abbeys of Beaulieu, beyond the river, and of St. Vincent
opposite to it beyond Mont Barbet, of which the latter survives in the
shape of a _Renaissance_ rebuilding. And far away in a distant suburb to
the east is the hospital founded by the last native prince of Le Mans,
the great Henry, to whom his native city might seem as a central point
of his vast domain, insular and continental. In him the blood of all the
older rulers and enemies of Le Mans was joined together. The stock of
the old Counts and of the Norman conquerors, the blood of Helias and of
his Angevin representatives, all flowed together in the veins of the
King who was born within the walls of Le Mans, and who, if he did not
die within its walls, at least died of grief at seeing them in the hands
of his enemy.

[Illustration: Notre-Dame-du-Pré, Le Mans, N.E.]

But it is painful for one who remembers Le Mans only eight years back to
speak of what it is now. It is hard to believe that within that time Le
Mans has beheld no slight or unimportant warfare beneath its walls, and
that the city of Herbert and Helias bowed but yesterday to the power of
a third conquering William. Le Mans has lost something through the
foreign occupation, but the traveller needs to have it explained to him
what it has lost. When we hear that the Bishop's palace got burned by
the German invaders, it almost sounds as if Germans and Normans had got
confounded. But the damage wrought by the last conquerors is being
speedily made good on another site. It is the damage which is doing to
the city by the merciless hands of its own people that never can be made
good. One would have thought that the Cenomannian city on its height,
the proud line of its Roman bulwarks, the noble works of later days
which those bulwarks shelter, might have moved the heart of the most
ruthless of destroyers. It might have been a good work to clear away the
mean houses which cling to the Roman wall, and to let the mighty
rampart stand forth in all its majesty; but among those who have the
fate of the ancient city in their hands there is no thought of
preservation--destruction is the only object. We know not who are the
guilty ones. Perhaps there is some stuck-up Mayor or Prefect who would
think himself a great man if he could make Le Mans as ugly and
uninteresting as the dreary modern streets of Rouen or of Paris itself.
It is at all events certain that M. Haussmann was not long ago seen in
Le Mans, and such a presence at such a time is frightfully ominous. At
any rate the facts which can be seen by the traveller's own eyes are
beyond doubt. The later walls close by the river have been broken down
to leave fragments here and there as ornaments in a kind of garden, and,
worse still than this, the ancient wall has been broken through, and the
ancient city itself cleft in twain. By an amount of labour which reminds
one of Trajan cutting through the Quirinal, _la Cité_ has been cut into
two halves with a yawning gulf between them; the Roman wall is broken
through, and the very best of the twelfth-century houses has been
ruthlessly swept away. The excuse for this brutal havoc is to make a
road or street of some kind direct from the modern town to the river. If
the savages could have been persuaded to pay a visit to Devizes, they
might there have learned that the claims of past and present may be
reconciled. There the simple device of a tunnel carries the railway
under the ancient mound without doing the least harm; and a tunnel might
in the same way have connected the modern town with the Sarthe without
doing the least damage either to Roman walls or Romanesque houses. But
there are minds to which mere havoc gives a pleasure for its own sake. A
great part of Saint Julian's is more than seven hundred years old, and
in the eyes either of Bishop or of Prefect it may be ugly. The vast
_menhir_ which rests against one of its walls has seen many more than
seven centuries, and the most devoted antiquary can hardly call it
beautiful. When the Roman walls of Le Mans are not spared, nothing can
be safe. All that can be done is for those in whose eyes antiquity is
not a crime to run to and fro over the world as fast as may be, and see
all that they can while anything is left.



MAINE

1876


We have already spoken of the capital of the Cenomanni, and some mention
of the district naturally follows on that of the capital. In no part of
Gaul, in the days at least when Le Mans and Maine stand out most
prominently in general history, are the city and the district more
closely connected. Maine was not, like Normandy, a large territory,
inhabited to a great extent by a distinct people--a territory which, in
all but name, was a kingdom rather than a duchy--a territory which,
though cumbered by the relations of a nominal vassalage, fairly ranked,
according to the standard of those times, among the great powers of
Europe. Maine was simply one of the states which were cut off from the
great duchy of France, and one over which Anjou, another state cut off
in the like sort, always asserted a superiority. Setting aside the great
though momentary incident of the war of the _Commune_, the history of
Maine during its life as a separate state consists almost wholly of its
tossings to and fro between its northern and its southern neighbours,
Normandy and Anjou. The land of Maine, in short, is that of the district
of a single city, forming a single ecclesiastical diocese. In old times
it contained no considerable town but the capital; and even now, when
the old county forms two modern departments, with Le Mans for the
_chef-lieu_ of Sarthe and Laval for the _chef-lieu_ of Mayenne, the more
modern capital is still far from reaching the size and population of the
ancient one. Normandy, with its seven ancient dioceses, its five modern
departments, cuts quite another figure on the map. With so many local
centres, Rouen never was Normandy in the sense in which Le Mans
certainly was Maine; and the strong feeling of municipal life which, as
the history of the _commune_ shows, must have always gone on at Le Mans,
may have tended to make a greater concentration of the being of the
whole district in the capital than was found in other districts of the
same kind. Add to this, that, though the land of Maine contained but a
single diocese, yet that diocese was of much larger and greater extent
than any of the seven dioceses of Normandy. This is shown by the fact
that, while in the modern ecclesiastical arrangements of France, two of
the Norman dioceses have been united with others, the one Cenomannian
diocese has been divided into two.

In another point also Maine shows itself very distinctly as a Northern
district. This is in its architecture. As Anjou is the architectural
borderland between Northern and Southern Gaul, so Maine is again the
architectural borderland between Normandy and Anjou. But it shows its
character as a borderland, not by possessing an intermediate style, as
the Angevin style is distinctly intermediate between the styles of
Normandy and of Aquitaine, but rather by using the Norman and Angevin
styles side by side. In the nave of St. Julian's itself, an Angevin
clerestory and vault is set upon an arcade and triforium which may be
called Norman. At _La Couture_ the nave has wholly given way to an
Angevin rebuilding, while the choir remains Norman, with a touch of
earlier days about it. In the third great church of Le Mans, that of _Le
Pré_, the Angevin influence does not come in at all. In the department
of military architecture, Sir Francis Palgrave says that the familiar
Norman square keep was borrowed from Maine; but he brings no evidence in
support of this theory, nor have we been able to find any. It seems far
more likely that the fashion was originally Norman, and that it then
spread into the borderland, and it is certain that some of the most
historically famous castles in the land of Maine were the work of Norman
invaders.

Maine is, in one point, one of the parts of France in which an
Englishman is most inclined to feel himself at home. It shares, though
perhaps in not so marked a degree, the same English look which runs
through a large part of Normandy and Brittany. It has hedges and green
pastures, a sight pleasing to the eye after the dreary look of so many
districts of France. The land is also fairly wooded, and the vine, of
which we hear so much in our accounts of ancient Cenomannian warfare,
is, to say the least, not so prominent a feature as it was then. And we
need not say that vines, except either on a hill-side or against a
house, do not add to the picturesqueness of a landscape. The land,
without being strictly hilly, much less mountainous, is far from flat,
and it contains some considerable heights, as the ranges culminating in
the peak of Mont Aigu, which forms a prominent object from the theatre
at Jublains, and the high ground at and near Le Mans itself, some points
of which proved of great importance in the last warfare which Maine has
seen. In short, without containing any very striking elevations, there
are many sites in Maine well suited for military positions in ancient
warfare, sites where the castle has not failed to spring up, and where a
town or village has naturally gathered round the fortress. But since the
city of the Diablintes was swept from the earth, Maine has, at least
till quite modern times, contained no place which can at all set itself
up as a rival to the ancient capital. The hill fort which grew into the
city of the Cenomanni still remains the undoubted queen of the land of
Herbert and Helias.

It is well to enter the Cenomannian county by a point which is
Cenomannian no longer, but which not only plays a great part in the
local history, but gives a view of a very large part of the land from
which it was long ago severed. This is from the hill of Domfront, the
fortress and town which the Conqueror wrested from Maine and added to
Normandy; but which till the changes of modern times kept a sign of its
old allegiance in still forming for ecclesiastical purposes part of the
Cenomannian diocese. Domfront, the conquest of William, the cherished
possession of Henry, is indeed an outpost of the Norman land, placed
like a natural watch-tower, from which we may gaze over well nigh the
whole extent of the land which lay between Normandy and the home of the
enemy at Angers. Like Nottingham, town and castle stand on two heights,
with a slight fall between them, and the town itself is strongly
fortified, with a noble range of walls and towers which are largely
preserved. The shattered donjon rises on the height where the Varenne
runs through a narrow dell between the castle hill and a wild rock on
the other side. Castle and town alike equally look out in the direction
of danger; from either height it needs no strong effort of imagination
to fancy ourselves on the look-out against the hosts of Geoffrey of the
Hammer coming from the South. Yet it is at Domfront that the traveller
coming from the land of Coutances and Avranches finds himself in one
important point brought back to the modern world. After going for many
days by such conveyances as he can find, he is there enabled to make his
journey into the land of Maine by the help of the railway which leads
from Caen to Laval. His first stage will take him to a spot which formed
another of William's early conquests, but which was not, like Domfront,
permanently cut off from the Cenomannian state.

This spot is Ambrières, a town of the smallest class, hardly rising
above a village, but which holds an important place in the wars of
William and Geoffrey. There William built a castle, and the shattered
piece of wall which overhangs the road running on the right bank of the
Varenne may well be a part of his building. The little town climbs up,
as it were, to the castle, and contains more than one house bearing
signs of ancient date. It is clearly one of those towns which grew up
immediately round the fortress. But of the castle itself so little is
left that the most striking object now is the church, which stands apart
on the other side of the river. A large cruciform building of nearly
untouched and rather early Romanesque, it is thoroughly in harmony with
the memories of the place. But the church of Ambrières is more than
this. It tells us in what direction we are travelling; its aisleless
nave, though it would be narrow in Anjou, would be wide in England or
Normandy; and there is another feature which looks as if the men of
Ambrières had got on almost too fast in their tendencies towards a
southern type of architecture. The central tower is indeed low and
massive, but so are many others both in Normandy and England; nor would
the wooden spire with which it is crowned suggest that in the inside the
four plain arches of its lantern support as perfect a cupola as if we
were on the other side of the Loire. But both the arches of the lantern
and the barrelled vault of the choir keep the round arch. Maine was far
off from the land of the Saracen, and the pointed arch would here be a
sign that later forms were not far off. From Ambrières either the
railway or, if the traveller likes it better, a road leading up and down
over a series of low hills, will take him to another scene of William's
victories at Mayenne. Here the town slopes down to the river of its own
name on both sides, and the castle, instead of crowning either height,
rises immediately above the stream. Eight years does much in the way of
building up as well as of pulling down; and we may note that since we
made an almost casual reference to Mayenne in 1868,[69] the eastern
part of the great church, a building remarkable rather for a strange and
picturesque outline than for any strict architectural beauty, has had
its choir rebuilt on a vast scale after the type of a great minster. No
place after the capital has a greater share in the history of the
county.[70] It was the lordship of that Geoffrey of Mayenne who played
so prominent a part in all the wars of William's day, a part which, both
in its good and its bad side, well illustrates the position of the
feudal noble. A faithful vassal to his lord, a patriotic defender of his
country against an external invader, he could stoop to play the part of
a perjured traitor when nobles had been forced to plight oaths against
their will to be faithful to a civic _commune_. To the student of the
twelfth century Mayenne is full of memories; to the student of earlier
times its chief attraction will be that it is the most natural point of
the journey to Jublains.

Further down the stream which gives its name alike to the town of
Mayenne and the modern department, we come to the one place on
Cenomannian ground which, as having become in modern times a seat of
both civil and ecclesiastical rule, can alone pretend to any rivalry
with the ancient capital. Laval, the _chef-lieu_ of the department of
Mayenne and the see of the newly founded bishopric, plays no great part
in the early history of the district; but though still much smaller than
Le Mans, it has fairly grown to the rank of a local capital as
distinguished from a mere country town. It is one of the towns which
have grown up on a hill and around a fortress,[71] yet it is not a hill
city like Le Mans. The old town of Laval, as distinguished from the
later suburb on the other side of the river, does not stand on the hill,
but climbs up its side. While the _Grande Rue_ of Le Mans runs along the
ridge, the _Grande Rue_ of Laval finds its way up the slope. The castle,
as at Mayenne, rises above the river, and still keeps a huge round
donjon, patched somewhat, but still keeping several of its coupled
Romanesque windows. On the height, hard by a grand town-gate, is the now
cathedral church, uncouth enough in the external view, and we may fairly
say unworthy of its new rank, but which reveals one of the most
instructive pieces of architectural history to be found anywhere.
Imbedded in later additions, we still find the choir, transepts, and
lantern of a comparatively small Romanesque church, perhaps hardly on a
level with Ambrières, but its nave has given way to a vast Angevin nave
as wide as the transepts of the original building, and itself furnished
with transepts to the west of them. The antiquary will earnestly pray
that no one may be led by zeal without discretion to rebuild this church
on a scale and style more worthy of its present rank. Let the diocese of
Laval, if anybody chooses, be furnished with a new cathedral; but let
the present building stand untouched, as one that has undergone changes
as instructive as any that can be found.

But the church of the new diocese, though perhaps, by virtue of its
singular changes, the most interesting, is hardly the most attractive
ecclesiastical building in Laval and its immediate neighbourhood. Not
far off in a suburb by the river-side is the church of Our Lady of
Avesnières, not improved certainly by its modern spire, but keeping a
most stately Romanesque apse with surrounding chapels. Inside it
supplies one of the best examples of the transition, the pointed arch
having made its way into the great constructive arcades, but not into
any of the smaller arches. But the taste of those who designed its
capitals must have been singular. Any kind of man, beast, or bird, it
has been said, can put himself into such a posture as to make an Ionic
volute. When the volutes are made by the heads of eagles, well and good;
but it is certainly strange to make them out of the heads of cranes, who
are holding down their long necks to peck each one at a human skull
which he firmly holds down with one of his feet. And on the other side
of Laval will also be found the church of Price, an almost untouched
Romanesque building the masonry of which seems to carry it back to days
before the growth of either Angevin or Norman taste. And the land of
Maine too is full of other spots at which we can barely glance, many of
which are famous in the history of the district. On the railway between
Laval and Le Mans, Evron has its abbey, with portions both of the
earlier Romanesque and of the later Gothic, but where one little
transitional chapel on the north side is undoubtedly the most attractive
feature of the church. Evron too opens the way to St. Susanne, the one
castle which the Conqueror himself could never take, and where the
shattered shell of the unconquered donjon, with its foundations raised
on a vitrified fort of primitive times, rises on a rocky height, with
the stream of the Arne winding in a narrow dell beneath it. Somewhat
nearer to the capital, Sillé-le-Guillaume, a spot famous in the war of
the _commune_, has a castle and church which should not be passed by,
though it is only the under-story of the church which keeps any portions
which can belong to the days when Sillé was besieged by the armed
citizens of the Cenomannian commonwealth. North of Le Mans, on the upper
source of the Sarthe, Beaumont-le-Vicomte keeps the shell of its castle,
a castle which long withstood the Conqueror, rising in a lovely position
over the river Beaumont, too, has seen warfare in later days, and he
who looks down from the castle which withstood the Conqueror may hear
the tale of the stout fighting which went on by the banks of the Sarthe,
when Maine was invaded by the armies of a later William. The church too
with some genuine Romanesque portions, is more curious for a kind of
rude _Renaissance_ which really reproduces a simple kind of Romanesque.
In short, there is hardly a spot in the historic land of Maine which has
not its attractions for those who can stoop to scenery which, though
always pleasing, is never sublime, to buildings of which perhaps one
only in the whole province reaches the first rank, and to a history
which, though in itself it is mainly local, has not been without its
influence on the destines both of England and of France.

[Illustration: Sainte-Susanne, Keep]



INDEX


A

Abbaye Blanche, near Mortain, 109, 110

Almenèches, 139 _et seq._;
  its church, 150, 151;
  site of the castle, 152

Ambrières, fortress of, 57, 229;
  architectural significance of its church, 230

Amiens, 8, 9, 23, 24, 47

Architecture in Normandy, its points of likeness with that of England,
23, 27, 28, 31, 46;
  Romanesque, at Bayeux, 28, 29;
  at Exmes, 147; at Le Mans, 206, 207, 209;
  transitional period well marked in Fécamp Abbey, 48

Argentan, 125-138

Arletta [Herleva], mother of William the Conqueror, 10

Arnulf of Montgomery, 141, 142

Arques, fortress of Count William at, 59, 60;
  battle of, 60

Avranches, historical associations of, 75;
  its position, _ib._, 81, 82;
  its ecclesiastical territory merged in the diocese of Coutances, 81


B

Barbe, M. Henri, quoted, 191, 194, 196

Bayeux, retention of the Danish tongue and religion at, 2, 6;
  Richard the Fearless educated at, _ib._;
  Saxon and Danish colonies at, 5, 6;
  its cathedral church, 8, 22-30;
  the seminary chapel, 8, 30;
  compared with Coutances, 25-28;
  Bishop Odo's work at, 26, 28;
  later Romanesque at, 29;
  its English character, 30

Beaumont-le-Roger, 179 _et seq._

Beaumont-le-Vicomte, castle and church, 234, 235

Beauvais, 9, 23, 24

Bernay, Judith's Abbey at, 8, 182, 188

Bigod, use of the name, 105

Brionne, character of the building, 97, 98


C

Caen, 2;
  its ecclesiastical buildings, 8;
  destruction of churches at, 19;
  burial-place of William the Conqueror, 51

Cæsaris Burgus, 67. _See_ Cherbourg

Calleva, its fall, 199. _See_ Silchester

Carentan, 72

Castles, beginning of in England, 14;
  in Normandy, earlier and later sites of, 58;
  question as to the earliest date of stone castles in Normandy, 97

Caudebec, Teutonic origin of the name, 6

Cerisy, 8

Chandos, Sir John, building of the keep of St. Saviour attributed to, 71

Channel Islands, their relation to England, 65

Chartres, contrasted with Le Mans, 200 _et seq._;
  its historical associations, 202, 203;
  architectural features of its cathedral church, 203, 204;
  why it differs from Le Mans, 204;
  its height, 207;
  its secondary churches, 209

Cherbourg, name probably cognate with Scarborough, 68

Churches, Norman, French and English, compared, 9, 23, 24, 46, 111

Cintheaux, 53, 54

Colomby, 70

Côtentin, derivation of the name, 62;
  its peninsular character, 64, 65;
  acquired by William Longsword, 66

Coutances, cathedral church of, 22 _et seq._, 82;
  its sham west front compared with that of Wells, 25;
  its internal architecture compared with that of Bayeux, 26, 27;
  men of, at Senlac, 66;
  its position, 72, 73, 75, 83;
  aqueduct at, 73, 88;
  its diocese enlarged, 81


D

Diablintes, tribal name survives in Jublains, 190

Dieppe, meaning of the name, 6

Dinan, 22, 54, 55

Dive, river, battle by, 60

Dol, church of, 22, _et seq._;
  compared with S. Canice at Kilkenny, 25, 30;
  its position suggests St. David's, 30;
  east end compared with Wells, 31

Domfront, fortress of, won by William, 56, 228;
  compared with Falaise, _ib._

Dumaine, l'Abbé L.V., his history of Tinchebray, 117, 118


E

Eadgar the Ætheling, at Tinchebray, 121;
  taken prisoner and released, 123

Ecclesiastical foundations, choice of sites for, 42, 43

Emma, Abbess of Almenèches, sister of Robert of Bellême, 140-143

England, likeness of Normandy to, how accounted for, 5-7

Eu, its historical associations, 58, 59

Evreux, 4, 8, 24

Evron, abbey at, 234

Exeter, commonwealth of, compared with Le Mans, 212, 213

Exmes, 139 _et seq._;
  site of the castle, 144, 145;
  its church, 146-149


F

Falaise, birthplace of William the Conqueror, 10, 12;
  its historical associations, 11, 12;
  probable date of the castle, 15;
  its position, 16, 17;
  origin of the name, 16;
  spoiled by so-called restoration, 18-20, 53;
  compared with Domfront, 56

Fécamp, abbey of, 43 _et seq._;
  transitional period well marked at, 47, 48;
  its fourteenth century alteration compared with Waltham, 49, 50

Flers, 113


G

Gally Knight, Mr., quoted, 82, 86, 106

Geoffrey of Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances, 67, 80

Geoffrey, Count of Mayenne, his betrayal of the Commune of Le Mans,
214, 231

Geoffrey Malaterra, quoted, 93, 94

Granville, 73


H

Harold, son of Godwine, received by William at Eu, 58;
  the guest of William Patey, 114, 115

Harold Blaatand, his settlement in the Côtentin, 5, 66;
  delivers the Norman Duchy, 60

Hauteville-la-Guichard, 90 _et seq._

Helias of La Flèche, Count of Maine, at Tinchebray, 121, 122

Henry I. of England, 54;
  Avranchin held by, 76;
  wins back Saint James, 78;
  victorious at Tinchebray, 115, 120, 123;
  his treatment of Robert, 123;
  at Saint-Evroul, 164

Henry II. of England, homage paid him at Falaise by William the Lion, 11;
  his hospital at Le Mans, 209, 220

Henry I. of France, helps William against his rebellious vassals, 35;
  his personal experiences at Val-ès-dunes, _ib._;
  sees the slaughter at Varaville, 61;
  burns Argentan, 128, 130, 171;
  fortress of Tillières burned by, 171;
  re-fortifies Tillières, _ib._

Henry of Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, 91

Herbert Wake-Dog, Count of Maine, 218

Herlwin, Abbot of Saint Peter's, Orleans, pillages Abbey of
Saint-Evroul, 164

Hildebert, Bishop of Le Mans, ordered to pull down the towers of Saint
Julian's, 132, 208

Holy Trinity, Abbey church of, at Beaumont-le-Roger, 185-187

Hubert of Rye receives William on his escape from Valognes, 114

Humfrey _de Vetulis_, father of Roger of Beaumont, 180

Hundred Years' War, personal nomenclature in Normandy, affected by, 5


J

Jublains and Silchester compared, 189-191;
  origin of the name, 190;
  its position, 191, 192;
  its Roman remains, 192, _et seq._;
  numismatic evidence for date of fortress, 196-199


L

La Lande-Patry, 114, 115

Laigle, surname misunderstood, 154-156

Langlois, significance of the name, 5

Laval, 231, 232

Le Mans, contrasted with Chartres, 200, _et seq._;
  Saint Julian's keeps its ancient nave, 205-207;
  its thirteenth century choir, 207, 208;
  destruction of its towers ordered by William Rufus, 208;
  its secondary churches, 209, 220;
  Henry the Second's hospital at, 220;
  owes its special character to its municipal history, 210-214;
  its analogy with Exeter, 212, 213;
  no existing monuments of the time of the _Commune_, 215;
  its position, _ib._;
  Roman and mediæval walls, 216, 217, 218;
  position of Saint Julian's, 217, 218;
  early greatness of its ecclesiastical and civil rulers, 217;
  its buildings, 218, 219;
  William's fortresses at, 219, 220;
  birthplace of Henry the Second, 220;
  German occupation of, 221;
  ruthless destruction at, 222;
  _menhir_ at, 223

Les Vieilles, faubourg of, at Roger-le-Beaumont, 180;
  church of, 187, 188

Lessay, 72

Lewis-from-beyond-Sea, King of the West-Franks, taken captive by Harold
Blaatand, 60

Limay, 52, 53

Louise of Silly, Abbess of Almenèches, 150


M

Maine, its history, 224 _et seq._;
  its modern division, 225;
  architectural borderland between Normandy and Anjou, 226

Malger, Count of Mortain, 104

Mantes, 51, 53

Matilda of Flanders, Queen, her church of the Holy Trinity at Caen, 8;
  married to William at Eu, 58

Matilda, daughter of Richard the Fearless, marries Odo of Chartres, 170;
  dispute about her dowry, _ib._

Matilda, Abbess of Almenèches, 143

Mayenne, 57, 58, 225, 230, 231

Montacute, siege of, raised by Geoffrey of Mowbray, 67;
  Norman name of Leodgaresburh (Lutgaresburg), 105

Mortagne, 101

Mortain, its position, 101, 102;
  site of the castle, 103;
  its history, 104;
  foundation of Saint-Evroul at, 105

Mortemer, battle of, 35;
  its position, 38, 39;
  reason for its historic interest, _ib._;
  surprise of the French at, 40


N

Næodunum, 190, 198. _See_ Jublains

Neufbourg, 110

Neufchâtel-en-Bray, its hills and cheeses, 39

Names, confusion of, 100, 101, 154, 155

Nomenclature, personal, in Normandy, affected by Hundred Years' War, 5;
  local traces of Danish, in Normandy, 6;
  in Gaul, 63

Normandy, its points of likeness with England, 3, 4, 41;
  compared with France proper, 3;
  Teutonic elements in, 5, 6;
  traces of Danish local nomenclature in, 6;
  its ecclesiastical buildings, 8;
  compared with those of France proper, 9, 23, 24;
  restoration and destruction in, 17-20, 29;
  importance of its early history, 33;
  its political absorption by France, 41, 218

Normans and English, original kindred of, 5-7;
  in England, English fusion of, 15;
  in Normandy, French fusion of, _ib._

Notre-Dame, Avesnières, 233

Notre-Dame, Domfront, 57

Notre-Dame, Saint-Lo, 83-85

Notre-Dame, Verneuil, 178

Notre-Dame de La Couture, Abbey of, Le Mans, 209, 220, 226

Notre-Dame de la Place, Argentan, 136

Notre-Dame-du-Pré, Le Mans, 209, 220, 226


O

Odelerius, sends his son Orderic to Saint-Evroul, 162

Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, his work at Bayeux, 26, 28

Odo II., Count of Chartres, refuses to give up his wife's dowry, 170;
  defeated, 171

Orderic (Vital), at Neufbourg, 110, 119;
  at Saint-Evroul, 143, 160, 162

_Oximenses_, use of the name, 140


P

Palgrave, Sir Francis, quoted, 39, 64, 101, 226

Periers, 72

Petit, Mr., quoted, 1

Puiseux, M.L., quoted, 33


Q

Querqueville, church of, 68, 69;
  origin of the name, 69

Quilly, 53, 54


R

Rennes, 55

Richard the Fearless, Duke of the Normans, educated at Bayeux, 2

Richard the Good, Duke of the Normans, fortifies Tillières, 170;
  his dispute with Odo of Chartres, _ib._

Richer of Laigle, his character and death, 156

Robert the Magnificent (the "Devil"), Duke of the Normans, castle of
Falaise attributed to, 13-15

Robert, Duke of the Normans, eldest son of William, 54;
  his march to Tinchebray, 119;
  his captivity, 123;
  defeated by Robert of Bellême, 143

Robert, Count of Meulan, son of Roger of Beaumont, 91, 179, 181, 184;
  at Tinchebray, 122

Robert, Count of Mortain, 103, 105, 106

Robert of Bellême, at Tinchebray, 120, 121;
  banished by Henry, 141;
  his treatment of Almenèches, 142;
  defeats Robert, 143;
  his imprisonment, _ib._

Robert of Grantmesnil, Abbot of Saint-Evroul, 162

Robert of Torigny, quoted, 122, 137

Robert the Bigod, accuses William of Mortain of treason, 105

Robert Wiscard, 91, 92, 98, 181

Roger I., Count of Sicily, 92, 98

Roger of Beaumont, 91, 179, 180

Roger of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, 140, 141

Roger of Poitou son of Earl Roger, 137, 141, 142

Rolf, his settlement, 5, 36

Rouen, its French character, 2, 6;
  death of William the Conqueror at, 51


S

Saint Andrew, Chartres, 209

Saint Canice, Kilkenny, central tower of, compared with that of Dol, 25

Saint Cross, Saint-Lo, 85-87

Saint-Evroul, 143; his story, 162;
  his name, 163;
  memorials and relics of, 167

Saint Evroul Abbey, home of Orderic, 143, 160, _et seq._;
  restored by families of Geroy and Grantmesnil, 162;
  pillaged by order of Hugh the Great, 164;
  its architectural remains, 165-167

Saint-Evroul, Mortain, its foundation, 106;
  its architectural features, 106-108

Saint German, Argentan, 127, 131-136

Saint Gervase, Falaise, 16, 173

Saint James, topographical use of the name, 77;
  fortified by William the Conqueror, _ib._, 78;
  won back by Henry the Ætheling, _ib._;
  its position, _ib._;
  site of William's castle, 79

Saint John, Verneuil, its tower, 176, 177

Saint Julian's, Le Mans, contrasted with cathedral church of Chartres,
200 _et seq._;
  Romanesque work at, 206, 207;
  Angevin style in, 226. _See_ also Le Mans.

Saint-Lo (Manche), town and church of, 83-87

Saint-Lo, Rouen, 80

Saint Martin, Argentan, 131, 134-136

Saint Martin, Laigle, 157, 158

Saint Martin-in-the-Vale, Chartres, 209

Saint Mary Magdalen, Verneuil, its fine tower, 175, 176

Saint Michael in Peril of the Sea, 44, 55

Saint Nicolas, Beaumont-le-Roger, 181, 182

Saint Nicolas, Coutances, 87, 88

Saint Peter, Abbey, Chartres, 209

Saint Peter, Coutances, 85, 87, 88;
  compared with Saint German, Argentan, 131

Saint Price, near Laval, 234

Saint Ouen, Rouen, 24

Saint Remigius, Tinchebray, 119

Saint Saviour, castle and abbey of, 70, 71

Saint Stephen's, Caen, 8, 26

Sainte-Susanne, 156, 234

Saxons, settlement of, at Bayeux, 5

Silchester and Jublains, compared, 189-191

Sillé-le-Guillaume, 234

Surnames of places, 91, 92;
  misunderstood, 100, 101, 154-156


T

Talbot, John, Earl of Shrewsbury, his tower at Falaise, 11, 15, 16

Tancred of Hauteville, his home, 90, 95, 97, 98

Tillières, its position and history, 169-171;
  church at, 172, 173

Tinchebray, battle of, an English victory, 115, 116, 120;
  site of the battle, 117


V

Val-ès-dunes, battle of, a victory of the Roman over the Teuton, 35;
  site of the battle-field, 36, 37

Valognes, 69, 70

Varaville, battle of, 60

Verneuil, its position, 173;
  castle and donjon at, 174, 175;
  churches at, 175-178

Vimont, M. Eugène, his book on Argentan, 128, 136

Vire, 112


W

Wace, value of his description of the battle of Val-ès-dunes, 37, 38;
  quoted, 114, 169

Wells, west front of cathedral church compared with that of Coutances, 25;
  east end compared with Dol, 31

William Longsword, Duke of the Normans, Danish education of his son, 2;
  wins the Côtentin, 66

William the Conqueror, his church of S. Stephen at Caen, 8;
  his birthplace, 10, 12;
  his attempt at learning English, 12;
  modern estimate of in Falaise, 13;
  present at the dedication of Odo's church at Bayeux, 28;
  results of his personal qualities, 34;
  seeks help of Henry I. of France, 34, 35;
  burns Mantes, 52;
  his marriage to Matilda at Eu, 58;
  Domfront submits to, 56;
  fortifies Ambrières, 57;
  his conquest of Mayenne, _ib._, 230;
  takes Arques, 59;
  his surprise of the French at Varaville, 61;
  his escape from Valognes, 70, 114;
  fortifies Saint James, 77-79;
  gives the lands of William of Mortain to his half-brother Robert, 105;
  opposition of Le Mans to, 212

William Rufus, bids Bishop Hildebert pull down the towers of Saint
  Julian's, 132, 208

William, Count of Arques, his fortress, 59

William, Count of Mortain, 104;
  his lands given to Robert, 105;
  founds l'Abbaye Blanche, 109;
  with Duke Robert at Tinchebray, 119, 120, 121;
  taken prisoner, 123;
  his alleged blinding, _ib._

William of Saint-Calais, use of the surname, 155

William Patry, receives Harold at La Lande, 115

William the Lion, King of Scots, does homage to Henry II. at Falaise, 11


THE END.

RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BUNGAY


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Lecture viii. p. 314.

[2] _Methods of Hist. Study_, Lecture vi. p. 235.

[3] _Crewkerne Inaugural Address_, 1871.

[4] _Life of E.A. Freeman_, vol. i. p. 293.

[5] _Ibid._, vol. ii. p. 137.

[6] See Petit's _Architectural Studies in France_, p. 2.

[7] Cf. the following passage in Mr. Freeman's article in _The Saturday
Review_, August 3, 1867: "The primitive Saxons of Bayeux, the Danes of
Rolf and of Harold Blaatand, the English colonists who remained in the
fifteenth century, have among them left a marked stamp on the people.
This last cause cannot have been an unimportant one, when we hear that
in the town of Caen alone there are twenty-four families bearing the
name of Langlois. French and Norman are not very uncommon names in
England, but they are hardly found in the same proportion."

[8] On the foundation of the abbeys of St. Stephen and of the Holy
Trinity, see _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii. (2nd ed.), p. 106, _et seq._

[9] See Mr. Freeman's article on "Beauvais and Amiens" in _Sketches from
French Travel_ (Tauchnitz edition), and _History of the Cathedral Church
of Wells_, p. 116.

[10] See Mr. Freeman's article on "Restoration and Destruction in
France," _Saturday Review_, June 8, 1861.

[11] On Odo's work see also _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 209, and
note, p. 210.

[12] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii. pp. 235, 236.

[13] Mr. Freeman alludes to M.L. Puiseux's _Siège et Prise de Rouen par
les Anglais_, &c., which was reviewed by him in _The Saturday Review_,
June 8, 1867.

[14] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 249, _et seq._

[15] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii. 154, _et seq._

[16] On the foundation of Fécamp, see _Norman Conquest_, vol. i. p. 253.

[17] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 286.

[18] See also p. 228.

[19] See also p. 229.

[20] See also p. 230.

[21] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii. p. 226.

[22] _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii., p. 122, _et seq._

[23] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. i. pp. 216, 217.

[24] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii., p. 175.

[25] For the story of this derivation see Mr. Freeman's article on
"South Pembrokeshire Castles" in _English Towns and Districts_, p. 46.

[26] On French nomenclature see also Mr. Freeman's article on "French
and English Towns," pp. 35, 36, in _Historical Essays_, fourth series,
and _Sketches from French Travel_, p. 99.

[27] On the relation of the Channel Islands to England, see _Norman
Conquest_, vol. i. p. 187.

[28] On the relief of Montacute by Bishop Geoffrey, see _Norman
Conquest_, vol. iv. p. 278.

[29] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. pp. 242, 243.

[30] See above, p. 21.

[31] See also p. 88.

[32] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii. p. 233, note.

[33] Cf. S. James, near Taillebourg. (_Sketches from French Travel_, p.
296.)

[34] See _The Reign of William Rufus_, vol. i. p. 321.

[35] See above, p. 75.

[36] See above, p. 67.

[37] See _Sketches from French Travel_, p. 35.

[38] See p. 179.

[39] _Historical Essays_, third series, pp. 446-451.

[40] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. pp. 261, 607.

[41] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 287.

[42] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 288.

[43] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iv. pp. 170, 272. For the legend of the
Holy Rood see _Old English History_, p. 271, and Mr. Freeman's article
on "Montacute" in _The Saturday Review_, September 9, 1871.

[44] See Mr. Freeman's account of Kirkstall in _English Towns and
Districts_, p. 294.

[45] See p. 119.

[46] _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 246.

[47] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iii. p. 466.

[48] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. v. p. 175.

[49] See _Historical Essays_, Fourth Series, pp. 139, 140.

[50] See p. 208.

[51] See _The Reign of William Rufus_, vol. i. pp. 463, 464.

[52] See _The Reign of William Rufus_, vol. ii. p. 96.

[53] On the force of the word _tyrant_ see _History of Sicily_, vol. ii.
p. 50.

[54] See above, p. 123.

[55] See above, pp. 110, 119.

[56] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. iv. p. 496

[57] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 227.

[58] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. pp. 201-203.

[59] See _The Reign of William Rufus_, vol. i. p. 184.

[60] See _Sketches from French Travel_, p. 266.

[61] See Mr. Freeman's article on "Silchester" in _English Towns and
Districts_, p. 159.

[62] See _English Towns and Districts_, p. 163.

[63] See article on "Beauvais and Amiens" in _Sketches from French
Travel_, p. 87.

[64] See _The Reign of William Rufus_, vol. ii, pp. 297, 298, 654.

[65] See _Sketches from French Travel_, pp. 114, 117.

[66] On the foundation of the _commune_ of Le Mans and the treachery of
Geoffrey of Mayenne, see _Norman Conquest_, vol. iv. p. 551, _et seq._

[67] See _Norman Conquest_, iii. p. 192.

[68] See above, p. 209.

[69] See above, p. 57.

[70] See _Norman Conquest_, vol. ii. p. 209, _et seq._

[71] See comparison of Laval with Guildford in Mr. Freeman's article on
"Some Early Buildings in Sussex and Surrey" in _The Guardian_, August
22, 1883.


TRANSCRIBERS NOTE:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
possible, including obsolete and variant spellings. Obvious typographical
errors in punctuation have been fixed. Corrections [in brackets] in the
text are noted below:

  Page 14 Val-des-dunes [Val-ès-dunes]
  Page 15 Bayeaux [Bayeux]
  Page 57 Ambières [Ambrières]
  Page 64 Cotentin [Côtentin]
  Page 238 Edgar [Eadgar]
  Page 240 Alminèches [Almenèches]





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