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Title: Cassell's History of England, Vol. I (of 9) - From the Roman Invasion to the Wars of the Roses
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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[Illustration: _From the painting by W. H. Margetson._



From the Roman Invasion to the Wars of the Roses

With Numerous Illustrations, Including Coloured and Rembrandt Plates


The King's Edition

Cassell and Company, Limited
London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne




     THE ROMAN RULE IN BRITAIN.                                     PAGE

     Earliest Notices of the British Isles--The Celts--Their
     Settlement in Britain--Their Character and Customs--Druidism--Its
     Organisation and Authority--Its Tenets--Stonehenge and other
     Remains--Cæsar's Preparations--The First Invasion--Peril of
     the Romans and their Retirement--The Second Invasion--Cæsar's
     Battles with Cassivelaunus--Claudius in Britain--The
     Resistance of Caractacus--His Defeat and Capture--His Speech
     before Claudius--The Conquest of Anglesea--Boadicea's
     Rebellion--The Capture of Camulodunum and London--Her Defeat and
     Death--Agricola in Britain--His Campaigns and Administration--His
     Campaign against the Caledonians--His Recall--The Walls of
     Hadrian and Severus--Rivals to the Emperor--Constantine's
     Accession--Christianity in Britain--Invasions of the Picts and
     Scots--Dismemberment of the Roman Empire and Departure of the
     Romans--Divisions and Administration of Britain under the Romans  2



     Two Varieties of Masonry--Dover Castle--Richborough
     Castle--Newport Gate, Lincoln--Hadrian's Wall--Its Direction and
     Construction--Outworks--Ornamental Detail--Roman Roads and Camps 19



     The Jutes, Angles, and Saxons--Their Village Communities--Larger
     Combinations, Gradations of Rank--Morality and Religion--Hengist
     and Horsa found the Kingdom of Kent--The Kingdoms of Sussex,
     Wessex, and Essex--The Anglian Kingdoms--Mercia--The
     Welsh--Gregory and St. Augustine--Augustine and Kent--Conversion
     of Northumbria--England becomes Christian--The Greatness of
     Mercia--King Offa                                                25



     Ceawlin and his Successors--Cedwalla--Ina--Subjection to
     Mercia--Accession of Egbert--He subdues his Rivals--His Wars with
     the Welsh and Danes--Land-owning System--Local Assemblies--The
     Hundred Moot--The Shire Moot and its Business--Methods of Trial
     and Punishments--The Wergild--The Witena-gemot--Its Powers--The
     King--Class Distinctions--The Church                             31



     Character of the Invaders--Reign of Ethelwulf--Reigns of
     Ethelbald and Ethelbert--The Conquest of East Anglia--Battles
     near Reading--The Accession of Alfred--The Extinction of the
     Kingdom of Mercia--The Invasion of Wessex--The Year 878--Alfred
     at Athelney--Death of Hubba--Victory of Alfred and the Treaty
     of Wedmore--Renewal of the War--Alfred's fleet--Expeditions of
     Hastings--Remainder of the Reign--Character of Alfred--His Rules
     of Life--His Legislation--Encouragement of Learning              38



     Settlement of the Danes--Edward the Elder and his
     Cousin--Reconquest of the Danelagh--Edward becomes King of
     all England--Conspiracy of Alfred against Athelstan--Wars in
     Northumbria--The Death of Edwin--The Battle of Brunanburgh--The
     Power of Athelstan--Edmund's Wars with the Danes--Their
     Submission to Edmund--Rebellion and Reconquest--The Conquest of
     Cumberland--Death of Edmund--Final Conquest of Northumberland--The
     Rise of Dunstan--His Banishment--Edgar's Rebellion--His Accession
     to the Throne--Wars with the Welsh--Dunstan Archbishop of
     Canterbury--His Ecclesiastical Policy--The Reign of Edward the
     Martyr--Dunstan's Struggles with the Opposition--Death of the King



     The Retirement of Dunstan--Character of Ethelred--Sweyn in
     Denmark--Character of the Invasions and the Resistance--The
     Danegeld--The Arrival of Sweyn--Ethelred's Expedition--The
     Massacre of St. Brice's Day--Return of Sweyn--Defeats of the
     English--Edric Streona--Failure of the English Fleet--Treacheries
     of Edric--Death of St. Alphege--Sweyn's Conquest of
     England and his Death--Return of Ethelred and Departure of
     Canute--Misgovernment of the King--Canute's Return and the Death
     of Ethelred                                                      57



     A Double Election--Battles of Pen Selwood and
     Sherstone--Treacheries of Edric--Division of the Kingdom--Death
     of Edmund--Election of Canute--His Treatment of his Rivals--The
     four Earldoms--Canute's Marriage with Emma--His Popular
     Government--His Expeditions to Northern Europe--Submission of the
     King of Scots--Canute at Rome--The Story of his Rebuke to his
     Courtiers--His Death                                             63



     Harold and Harthacanute--The Murder of Alfred--Accession of
     Harthacanute--His Reconciliation with Godwin--The Punishment
     of Worcester--Edward the Confessor--His Election--Influx of
     Normans--The Family of Godwin--Conduct of Sweyn--The Outbreak at
     Dover--Godwin's Rebellion and Outlawry--William of Normandy's
     Visit to England--Godwin's Attempt to Return--His Appearance
     in the Thames--His Restoration to Power--Death of Godwin--His
     Place taken by Harold--Siward's Invasion of Scotland and his
     Death--Death of Leofric and Punishment of Ælfgar--Church Building
     of Harold and Edward--Harold's Conquest of Wales--Turbulence of
     Tostig--Death of the Atheling Edward--Candidature of Harold      66



     The Normans--Their Settlement in France--Their Gradual
     Civilization--Richard the Good--Robert the Devil--William's
     earlier years--His Consolidation of Power--Harold's Adventures
     in Normandy and the Story of his Oath to William--Death and
     Character of Edward--Election of Harold--William's Claims--He
     Obtains the Sanction of the Church--His Preparations--Proceedings
     of Tostig--Harold's Forces dwindle--Invasion of Tostig and Harold
     Hardrada--Battle of Stamford Bridge--Landing of William--Harold in
     London--Desertion of Edwin and Morcar--Negotiations--Harold at
     Senlac--Account of the Battle--Death of Harold and Discomfiture of
     the English--His Burial--Legend of his Escape                    75



     Saxon Architecture; Theories about it--Documentary
     Evidence--Ancient Churches--Characters of the Saxon
     Style--Illustrations from an Anglo-Saxon Calendar--Old
     Manuscripts--English Scholarship--Music and the Minstrels--Musical
     Instruments--Games and Sports--Costume--The Table--Household
     Furniture--Material Condition of the People--Norman
     Costumes--Condition of Learning and the Arts--Refinement of the
     Normans--The Bayeux Tapestry                                     83



     After Hastings--Election of Edgar Atheling--Submission of London
     and Accession of William--Tumult during his Coronation--Character
     of his Government--Return to Normandy--Affairs during his
     Absence--Suppression of the First English Rebellion--Rebellion in
     the North--The Last National Effort--The Reform of the Church--The
     Erection of Castles--Plan of a Norman Castle--End of Edwin and
     Morcar--"The Last of the Saxons"--Affairs in Maine--Conspiracy of
     the Norman Nobles--The Execution of Waltheof--Punishment of Ralph
     the Wader--The Story of Walcher of Durham--Expeditions to Scotland
     and Wales--Quarrels between William and his Sons--Domesday
     Book--The Creation of the New Forest--Punishment of Odo of
     Bayeux--The Death of William--Incidents at his Burial--Character
     of William                                                      107



     William's Surname--How he obtained the Throne--Rising in favour
     of his Brother Robert--Bishop Odo's Ill-fortune--Surrender of
     Rochester Castle--Flight of Odo--Failure of the Conspiracy--Death
     of Lanfranc--William's Misrule--Randolf the Firebrand--Appointment
     of Anselm to Canterbury--Rufus Invades Normandy--Treaty between
     the Brothers--Siege of Mount St. Michael--Malcolm Canmore's
     Inroad into England--Building of Castle at Carlisle--Death of
     Malcolm--Illness of William--His Treachery towards Robert--Welsh
     Marauders--Earl Mowbray's Hard Fortune--The King's Exactions--He
     obtains possession of Normandy--The Hunt in the New Forest--Death
     of the Red King                                                 123



     The Institution of Chivalry--Affairs in the Holy
     Land--Pilgrimages--Persecution of Christians--Peter the
     Hermit--Crusade Decided on--Progress of Peter's Mission--The
     Council of Clermont--Attitude of Pope Urban--The Truce of
     God--Expedition of Walter the Penniless--Excesses of the
     Crusaders--Defeat of the Christians by the Turks--Conduct
     of the Emperor Alexius--Disaster in Hungary--Geoffrey de
     Bouillon--March of his Army--Robert of Normandy and his
     Troops--Imprisonment of Hugh of Vermandois--Arrival of Godfrey
     before Constantinople--The Byzantine Court--The Church of Santa
     Sophia--Scenes of Magnificence--Reception of Godfrey by the
     Emperor--Tancred's Army leaves Italy--Bohemond's Submission--Count
     Raymond at Constantinople--Arrival of Robert of Normandy--Siege
     of Nicæa--Treachery of the Emperor--Severe Struggle with the
     Turks--Bravery of Robert--Flight of the Turks--Crusaders'
     Sufferings on their March--Siege and fall of Antioch--Defeat
     of the Persians--Pestilence at Antioch--Arrival of the
     Crusaders before Jerusalem--Fall of the City--Vengeance of the
     Crusaders--Godfrey elected King of Jerusalem--Hospitallers and
     Templars--Close of the First Crusade                            132



     Accession of Henry I.--Robert's Delay in Italy--The Charter
     of Liberties--Henry's Popularity--Offers his Hand to
     Matilda--Her Lineage--Obstacles to the Marriage--The Church
     decides in Favour of it--London at this Period--Coronation
     of Matilda--Roger of Salisbury--The Marriage--Punishment of
     William's Favourites--Arrival of Robert in Normandy--Prepares
     to Attack Henry--Anselm's Services to Henry--Peace effected
     between the Brothers--Henry's Dispute with Anselm--Strange Policy
     of the Pope--The Dispute Settled--Death of Anselm--The Earl of
     Shrewsbury Outlawed--Visit of Robert to England--Campaigns in
     Normandy--Robert and Edgar Atheling taken Prisoners--Fate of
     Edgar--Captivity and Death of Robert--Normandy in Possession of
     Henry--The English King and his Nephew--Return of the King to
     England--Betrothal of Henry's Daughter Matilda to the Emperor
     of Germany--War with the Welsh--Death of the Queen--Renewed
     War in Normandy--Henry before the Council of Rheims--Battle of
     Brenneville--Treaty of Peace--Shipwreck and Death of the King's
     Son--Henry's Grief--Character of Prince William--More Trouble
     in Normandy--The Empress Matilda declared Successor to the
     Throne--Her Marriage with the Count of Anjou--Death of William of
     Normandy--Last Years of the King's Life--Death of Henry          152



     Stephen of Blois--Arrival in England--His Coronation--Pope
     Innocent's Letter--Claims of Matilda--The Earl of Gloucester's
     Policy--Revolt of the Barons--The King of Scotland Invades
     England--The Battle of Northallerton--Outrage on the Bishops of
     Salisbury, Lincoln, and Ely--The Synod of Winchester--Landing
     of the Empress Matilda--Outbreak of Civil War--Battle at
     Lincoln--Defeat and Capture of Stephen--Matilda's Arrogant
     Behaviour--Rising of the Londoners and Flight of Matilda--London
     Re-occupied by the King's Adherents--Matilda Besieged in
     Winchester--Exchange of the Earl of Gloucester for the
     King--Stephen Resumes the Crown--Reign of Terror--Siege of
     Oxford--Flight of Matilda--Desultory Warfare--Death of the
     Earl of Gloucester--Stephen's Quarrel with the Church--The
     Interdict Removed--Further Dangers from Normandy--Divorce of
     Eleanor--Her Marriage with Prince Henry--Landing of Henry
     in England--Unpopularity of the War--Violence and Death of
     Eustace--Treaty Arranged between Henry and the King--Death of
     Stephen                                                         167



     Accession of Henry Plantagenet--Royal Entry into
     Winchester--Expulsion of the Flemings--Henry's Dealings with
     the Barons--Siege of Bridgenorth Castle--The King's Quarrel
     with Geoffrey--Henry's Magnificence--War with, and Submission
     of, the Welsh--The King in Brittany--Alarm of the King of
     France at Henry's Schemes of Aggrandisement--Henry's Designs
     on Toulouse--Origin of _Scutage_--Peace with Louis--The People
     of Languedoc--Louis' Third Marriage--Fresh Rupture between the
     Two Kings--Marriage of Henry's Son and Louis' Daughter--The Two
     Popes--Renewed Reconciliation                                   180



     Early Life of Becket--Rapid Advance in the King's
     Service--Magnificence of his Embassy to Paris--The King, the
     Chancellor, and the Beggar--Depravity of the Clergy--Becket's
     Reforming Zeal--Appointed Archbishop of Canterbury--Extraordinary
     Change in his Habits--At Frequent Issue with the King--The
     Council of Clarendon--Becket Defies the King--Popularity
     with the People--His Flight from Northampton--Arrival at St.
     Omer--Obtains the Support of Louis and the Pope--Henry's Edict
     of Banishment--Defeat of the English by the Welsh--Insurrection
     in Brittany--Becket Excommunicates his Opponents--Henry's
     Anger--The Pope's Action against Becket--Interview between
     Becket and the King--The Two Reconciled--Return of Becket
     to England--His Christmas Sermon--The King's Fury--The Vow
     of the Conspirators--Scene in Becket's House--Murder of the
     Archbishop--Henry's Grief--Review of Becket's Career            187


     THE REIGN OF HENRY II. (_concluded_).

     Events in Ireland--The Irish People--Henry's Designs in
     Ireland--Nicholas Breakspeare (Pope Adrian IV.)--The King of
     Leinster's Outrage--Dermot obtains Henry's Patronage--Siege of
     Wexford--Strongbow in Ireland--Siege of Waterford--Henry and the
     Norman Successes in Ireland--Arrival of Henry near Waterford--His
     Court in Dublin--The King Returns to England--His Eldest Son
     Rebels--The Younger Henry at the French Court--The English King's
     Measures of Defence--Defeat of the Insurgent Princes--Success of
     the King's Cause in England--Henry's Penance--Capture of King
     William of Scotland--Revival of Henry's Popularity--The King
     Forgives his Rebellious Sons--Period of Tranquillity--Fresh
     Family Feuds--The King at Limoges--Death of Princes Henry and
     Geoffrey--Affairs in Palestine--The Pope's Call to Arms for the
     Cross--The Saladin Tithe--Richard's Quarrel with his Father--Henry
     Sues for Peace--The Conference at Colombières--Death of the
     King--Richard before his Father's Corpse--Character of Henry
     II.--The Story of Fair Rosamond                                 199



     Introduction of Norman Architecture--Remains of
     Saxon Work--Canterbury Cathedral--St. Albans and
     other Edifices--Periods of Norman Architecture--Its
     and Pillars--Capitals--Mouldings and Ornaments                  212



     Richard's Show of Penitence--His Coronation--Massacre of the
     Jews--Results of the Second Crusade--Richard raises Money
     for the Third Crusade--The Regency--Departure for the Holy
     Land--The Sicilian Succession--The Quarrel concerning Joan's
     Dower--Richard's Prodigality--His Interview with the Monk,
     Joachim--Treachery of Philip, and Richard's Repudiation of
     Alice--Richard's Betrothal to Berengaria--Adventures on the
     Coast of Cyprus, and the Conquest of the Island--The Siege of
     Acre and its Fall--Dissension between Richard and Philip, and
     Return of the Latter to France--Massacre of Prisoners on Both
     Sides--The Battle of Azotus--Occupation of Jaffa--The Advance
     towards Jerusalem--Quarrels among the Crusaders, and Negotiations
     with Saladin--Chivalry of Saladin--Death of Conrad, and Charges
     brought against Richard--Last Advance upon Jerusalem--Battle of
     Jaffa--Truce with Saladin                                       217


     REIGN OF RICHARD I. (_concluded_).

     Shipwreck of Richard--His Arrival in Austria--His Capture
     by the Archduke Leopold--He is surrendered to the Emperor
     of Germany--Events in England--Renewed Persecution of the
     Jews--The Massacre at York--Quarrel between Longchamp and
     Pudsey--Stories about Longchamp--His Rupture with John,
     and Temporary Compromise--Imprisonment of Geoffrey of
     York--Longchamp takes Refuge in the Tower--His Deposition and
     Flight to France--Intrigues between John and Philip--Rumours of
     Richard's Imprisonment--The Story of Blondel--Richard before
     the Diet--Loyalty of Richard's Subjects, and Collection of
     the Ransom--Richard's Reception in England--His Expedition
     to France--Administration of Hubert Walter--William
     Fitz-Osbert--Recommencement of Hostilities with France--The Bishop
     of Beauvais--Defeat of Philip--Death of Richard before Chaluz--His
     Character                                                       235



     Accession of John--His Position--Arthur of Brittany--Peace
     between John and Philip of France--John's Marriage with
     Isabella of La Marche--Rupture with France--The Struggle
     Begins--Capture of Arthur--The Stories of his Death--The Loss
     of Normandy--Peace with Philip--Quarrel with the Pope--The
     Kingdom Laid under an Interdict, and Excommunication of
     John--John's Desperate Measures--Expedition to Ireland--John
     is deposed--Arrival of Pandulph in England--Surrender of the
     Kingdom to the Pope--Successes of John--Langton Arrives in
     England--He Becomes Leader of the Baronial Party--The Battle of
     Bouvines--Insurrection in England--The Barons Confront John--His
     Intrigues--Meeting at Brackley--Occupation of London--The
     Meeting at Runnymede--Greatness of the Occasion--Provisions of
     the Charter--Duplicity of John--Siege of Rochester--John in the
     North--His Cause Supported by the Church--The Crown offered
     to Louis of France--He Enters London--Sieges of Dover and
     Windsor--Reported Conspiracy--John's Disaster at the Wash--His
     Death and Character                                             251



     Accession of the King--Renewal of the Great Charter--Messages
     of Conciliation--Battle of Lincoln--Destruction of the French
     Fleet--Departure of Louis--Reduction of Albemarle--Resumption
     of the Royal Castles--War with France--Characters of Richard
     of Cornwall and Henry III.--Fall of Hubert de Burgh--Peter des
     Roches--Henry is his own Minister--The House of Provence--The
     King's Marriage Articles--The Marriage and Entry into
     London--Influx of Foreigners--Papal Aggressions--Persecution of
     the Jews--Oppression of the Londoners--A Religious Ceremony     277


     THE REIGN OF HENRY III. (_concluded_).

     The King's Misfortunes Abroad and Exactions at Home--Ambition
     and Rapacity of the Church of Rome--The Council of Lyons--The
     Kingdom of Sicily--Henry Accepts the Crown for his Son--Consequent
     Extortions--Richard becomes King of the Romans--Disputes between
     the King and the Barons--Simon de Montfort--He becomes Leader
     of the National Party--The Mad Parliament and the Provisions of
     Oxford--Banishment of Aliens--Government of the Barons--Peace
     with France--Henry is Absolved from the Provisions of Oxford--The
     Barons Oppose Him--Outbreak of Hostilities--The Award of
     Amiens--The Battle of Lewes--The Mise of Lewes--Supremacy of
     Leicester--The Exiles Assemble at Damme--The Parliament of
     1265--Escape of Prince Edward--Battle of Evesham and Death
     of De Montfort--Continuance of the Rebellion--The Dictum de
     Kenilworth--Parliament of Marlborough--Prince Edward goes on
     Crusade--Deaths of Henry D'Almaine, Richard of Cornwall, and the
     King--Character of Henry                                        290



     Transition from Norman to Gothic Architecture--The Period of
     Change--The Early English Style--Examples and Characteristics
     of the Style--Towers--Windows--Doorways--Porches--Buttresses
     --Pillars--Arches--Mouldings and Ornaments--Fronts            314



     Accession of Edward--His Adventures while on Crusade--Death of
     St. Louis--Arrival of Edward at Acre--Fall of Nazareth--Events
     at Acre--Departure from Palestine--Edward in Italy--The
     "Little Battle of Châlons"--Dealings with the Flemings--Edward
     lands at Dover--Persecution of the Jews--Edward's Designs on
     Wales--Character of the Welsh--Rupture with Llewelyn--Submission
     of the Welsh--Conduct of David--Second Welsh Rising--Death
     of Llewelyn--Execution of David--Annexation of Wales--Edward
     on the Continent--Sketch of Scottish History--Attack of
     the Norwegians--Deaths in the Royal Family--Death of
     Alexander--Candidature of Robert Bruce--Death of the Maid of
     Norway--Candidates for the Throne--Meeting at Norham--Edward's
     Supremacy Acknowledged--He Decides in Favour of Balliol         319


     REIGN OF EDWARD I. (_concluded_).

     Banishment of the Jews--Edward's Restorative Measures--Edward's
     Continental Policy--Quarrel with France--Undeclared War--Edward
     Outwitted by Philip--Re-conquest of Wales--The War with
     France--Position of Balliol--He is placed under Restraint--Edward
     Marches Northwards--Fall of Berwick--Battle of Dunbar--Submission
     of Balliol and Scotland--Settlement of Scotland--Sir William
     Wallace--He heads the National Rising--Robert Bruce joins
     him--Submission of the Insurgents--Battle of Stirling
     Bridge--Invasion of England--Edward Defeats Wallace at
     Falkirk--Regency in Scotland--Oppression of the Clergy--The
     Barons refuse to help Edward--The Expedition to Flanders--A
     Constitutional Struggle--Peace with France--The Pope claims
     Scotland--Defeat of the English--Edward's Vengeance--Capture
     and Death of Wallace--Bruce takes his place--Death of
     Comyn--Defeats of the Scots--Death of Edward--His Character and
     Legislation--Sketch of the growth of the English Parliament     335



     Character of the new King--Piers Gaveston--The King's
     Marriage--Gaveston is Dismissed to Ireland--His
     Return--Appointment of the Lords Ordainers--Their
     Reforms--Gaveston Banished--His Reappearance--Rebellion of
     the Nobles and Death of Gaveston--Successes of Bruce in
     Scotland--The Battle of Bannockburn--The Establishment of
     Scottish Independence--Edward Bruce in Ireland--Power of
     Lancaster--The Despensers--They are Banished--Sudden Activity of
     the King--Battle of Boroughbridge--The King's Vengeance--Peace
     with Scotland--Conspiracies against Edward--Machinations
     of the Queen--She Lands in England--Edward is Deserted and
     taken Prisoner--Dethronement of Edward--Indignation against
     Isabella--Murder of Edward--The Lessons of the Reign--Abolition of
     the Templars                                                    363



     The Regency--War with Scotland--Edward is Baffled--Peace with
     Scotland, and Death of Bruce--Kent's Conspiracy--Overthrow
     of Mortimer--Edward assumes Authority--Relations with
     Scotland--Balliol Invades Scotland--Battle of Dupplin
     Moor--Edward supports Balliol--Battle of Halidon Hill--Scottish
     Heroines--Preparations for War with France--The Claims
     of Edward--Real Causes of the Quarrel--Alliances and
     Counter-Alliances--Edward Lands in Flanders--Is Deserted by
     his Allies and Returns to England--Battle of Sluys--Dispute
     with Stratford--The Breton Succession Question--Renewal of the
     War--Derby in Guienne--Edward Lands in Normandy--Battle of Creçy


     EDWARD III. (_concluded_).

     Siege of Calais--Battle of Neville's Cross--Capture of
     the Scottish King--Institution of the Garter--The Black
     Death--Disturbances in France excited by the King of
     Navarre--Battle of Poitiers--The King of France taken Prisoner
     and brought to England--Disorders in France--Affairs in
     Scotland--Fresh Invasion of France--The Peace of Bretigny--Return
     of King John to France--Disorders of that Kingdom--The Free
     Companies--Expedition of the Black Prince into Castile--Fresh
     Campaign in France--Decline of the English Power there--Death of
     the Black Prince--Death of Edward III.--Character of his Reign and
     State of the Kingdom                                            420



     Accession of the King--Attitude of John of Gaunt--Patriotic
     Government--Insurrection of the Peasantry--John Ball--The
     Poll-tax--Wat Tyler--The Attack on London--The Meeting
     at Mile End--Death of Wat Tyler, and Dispersion of the
     Insurgents--Marriage of the King--Expedition of the Bishop of
     Norwich--Death of Wycliffe--Unpopularity of Lancaster--He Retires
     to Spain--Gloucester Attacks the Royal Favourites--Committee of
     Reform--The Lords Appellant--The Wonderful Parliament--Richard
     sets Himself Free--His Good Government--Expedition to
     Ireland--Marriage with Isabella of France--The King's
     Vengeance--Banishment of Hereford and Norfolk--Arbitrary
     Rule of the King--His Second Visit to Ireland--Return of
     Hereford--Deposition and Murder of Richard                      449



     Power of the Church--Ecclesiastical Legislation--Rapacity
     of the Papacy--Resistance of the Clergy--The Bull "Clericis
     Laicos"--Contests between the Civil and Ecclesiastical
     Power--The Scottish Church--Literature, Science and Art--State
     of Learning--The Nominalists and Realists--Medicine--The
     Universities--Men of Learning and Science--Roger Bacon
     and his Contemporaries--Historians--Growth of the English
     Language--Poetry--Architecture--The Early Decorated Style
     and its Characteristics--Domestic Buildings--Sculpture and
     Painting--Music--Commerce, Coinage, and Shipping--Manners,
     Customs, Dress, and Diversions                                  486



     His Coronation--The Insecurity of his Position--He courts the
     Clergy and the People--Sends an Embassy to France--Conspiracy
     to Assassinate him--Death of King Richard--Rumours of his
     Escape to Scotland--Expedition into Scotland--Revolt of
     Owen Glendower--Battle of Homildon Hill--The Conspiracy
     of the Percies--The Battle of Shrewsbury, where they are
     Defeated--Northumberland Pardoned--Accumulating Dangers--Second
     Rebellion of the Percies with the Archbishop of York--The
     North Reduced--The War in Wales--Earl of Northumberland flies
     thither--The Plague--Battle of Bramham Moor--Reduction of the
     Welsh--Expedition into France--Death of Henry                   515



     Character of the King--Oldcastle's Rebellion--Attempts
     to Reform the Church--Henry's Reasons for the French
     War--Distracted Condition of France--Henry's Claims on the French
     Throne--Conspiracy of Cambridge--Fall of Harfleur--The March to
     Calais--The Battle-field of Agincourt--Events of the Battle--Visit
     of Sigismund to England--French Attack on Harfleur--Anarchy in
     France--Alliance between the Queen and the Burgundians--Henry's
     Second Invasion--Final Rebellion and Death of Oldcastle--Reduction
     of Lower Normandy--Siege and Capture of Rouen--Negotiations for
     Peace--Henry Advances on Paris--Murder of Burgundy--His Son Joins
     Henry--Treaty of Troyes--Defeat of the English at Beaugé--Henry in
     Paris--His Death                                                545


     HENRY VI.

     Arrangements during the Minority--Condition of France--Death of
     Charles VI.--Bedford's Marriage--Battle of Crévant--Release of
     the Scottish King--Battle of Verneuil--Gloucester's Marriage
     and its Consequences--Rivalry of Gloucester and Beaufort--Siege
     of Orleans--Battle of the Herrings--Joan of Arc--The March to
     Orleans--Relief of the Town--March to Rheims--Coronation of
     Charles--The Repulse from Paris--Capture of the Maid--Her Trial
     and Death--Coronation of Henry--Bedford Marries again--Congress
     of Arras--Death of Bedford--The Tudors--Contests between Beaufort
     and Gloucester--Henry's Marriage--Deaths of Gloucester and
     Beaufort--Disasters in France--Fall and Death of Suffolk        576

[Illustration: IONA CATHEDRAL.]



    Landing of the Romans on the Coast of Kent                         1

    Stonehenge                                                         4

    Stonehenge (restored)                                              4

    Druids inciting the Britons to oppose the Landing of the Romans    5

    Julius Cæsar                                                       8

    Caractacus before Claudius                                         9

    Britons with Coracle                                              12

    Roman Soldiers passing over a Bridge of Boats                     13

    Roman Soldiers leaving Britain                                    17

    Coins of the Roman Republic and the Empire                        20

    Newport Gate, Lincoln                                             21

    Transverse Section of the Roman Wall                              22

    Longitudinal View of the Roman Wall                               22

    Cornice from Vendalana (Chesterholm)                              22

    Capital from Cilurnum (Walwick Chesters)                          23

    Doorway from Bird-Oswald                                          23

    Roman Masonry at Colchester                                       23

    Basement of Station on the Roman Wall                             23

    Roman Urns                                                        24

    Glastonbury Abbey                                                 25

    Treaty of Hengist and Horsa with Vortigern                        28

    Edwin of Northumbria and the Christian Missionaries               32

    Meeting of the Shire-Moot                                         33

    Map of England showing the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms and
      Danish Districts                                                37

    Danish Ships                                                      40

    Alfred in the Neat-Herd's Hut                                     41

    The "Lady of the Mercians" Fighting the Welsh                     45

    Ethelwulf's Ring                                                  48

    Anlaff entering the Humber                                        49

    Dunstan rebuking Edwy in the Presence of Elgiva                   52

    Edgar the Peaceable being rowed Down the Dee by eight
      Tributary Princes                                               53

    Assassination of Edward the Martyr                                56

    Crucifixion of St. Peter and Martyrdom of other Saints            57

    Martyrdom of Alphege                                              61

    Meeting of Edmund Ironside and Canute on the Island of Olney      64

    The Riot at Dover                                                 69

    The Death of Siward                                               72

    Taking Sanctuary                                                  73

    Harold taken Prisoner by the Count of Ponthieu                    76

    Pevensey Castle                                                   77

    William I., surnamed the Conqueror                                80

    Death of Harold at the Battle of Hastings                         81

    Gateway of Battle Abbey                                           84

    Building of the Tower of Babel                                    85

    Tower of Sompting Church                                          86

    Window (Saxon) of Deerhurst Church, Gloucester                    87

    Window (Saxon) of Jarrow Church, Durham                           87

    Doorway (Saxon) of Barnack Church, Northamptonshire               87

    Anglo-Saxon Calendar                                              88

    Anglo-Saxon Calendar                                              89

    Anglo-Saxon Calendar                                              90

    Saxon Calendar                                                    91

    Fragment of Copy of the Evangelists, in Latin                     91

    First Two Lines of Horace's Ode to Mæcenas                        92

    English Writing of the Sixth Century                              92

    English Dinner Party                                              92

    Gleemen Juggling                                                  93

    Balancing                                                         93

    Musical Instruments                                               93

    Dance with Lyre and Double Flute                                  93

    Grand Organ, with Bellows and Double Keyboard                     94

    Harp of the Ninth Century                                         94

    English Game of Bowls                                             95

    Ladies Hunting                                                    95

    Norman Costumes of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries             96

    Hawking Party in the Eleventh Century                             97

    Hawking                                                           98

    Harold                                                            98

    Umbrella for Hawks                                                98

    The Lure                                                          99

    Sword Play                                                        99

    Ancient Quintain                                                  99

    Bob Apple                                                        100

    Saxon Costumes                                                   100

    Saxon Costumes                                                   100

    English Crowns                                                   100

    English Shoes                                                    101

    English Dinner Party                                             101

    Cloak-pin, Buckle, and Pouch of the Twelfth Century              101

    Early English Candlestick                                        102

    English Bed                                                      102

    Chairs                                                           102

    Saxon Comb and Comb-Case                                         102

    Norman Vessel of the Twelfth Century                             103

    Norman Soldiers                                                  103

    Norman Bowmen of the Eleventh Century                            103

    Woman Spinning                                                   104

    Sacramental Wafer Box of the Twelfth Century                     104

    Incidents copied from the Bayeux Tapestry                        105

    Incidents copied from the Bayeux Tapestry                        106

    Great Seal of William I.                                         109

    Plan of a Norman Castle                                          112

    Norman and Saxon Arms                                            114

    Waltheof's Confession                                            116

    Robert asking His Father's Pardon                                120

    Fitz-Arthur forbidding the Burial of William                     121

    Departure of Bishop Odo from Rochester                           124

    William II., surnamed Rufus                                      125

    Great Seal of William II.                                        128

    Surrender of Bamborough Castle                                   129

    St. Helena discovering the True Cross                            132

    Initiation into the Order of Knighthood                          133

    Pope Urban II. preaching the First Crusade in the Market-Place
      of Clermont                                                    136

    The Mosque of Santa Sophia, Constantinople                       137

    Bird's-Eye View of Christian Constantinople                      140

    Circus and Hippodrome of Christian Constantinople                141

    Statue of Godfrey de Bouillon, Brussels                          144

    Robert of Normandy rallying the Crusaders                        145

    Throne of the Emperor of Constantinople                          147

    Costume of Empress of Constantinople                             147

    Procession of the Crusaders round the Walls of Jerusalem         148

    Pilgrim, Palmer, Hospitaller, Templar Knight, and Conventual
      Templar                                                        149

    Great Seal of Henry I.                                           153

    Robert of Normandy paying Court to the Lady Sibylla              156

    Marriage of Henry I. and Matilda                                 157

    Duke Robert's Son before King Henry                              161

    Shipwreck of Prince William                                      164

    Henry I.                                                         165

    Stephen                                                          168

    Great Seal of Stephen                                            169

    Silver Penny of Stephen                                          172

    Interview between the Empress Matilda and Queen Maud             173

    Flight of Matilda from Oxford Castle                             176

    Great Seal of Henry II.                                          177

    English Costumes in the Time of Henry II.                        181

    Silver Penny of Henry II.                                        183

    Heroism of St. Clair at the Siege of Bridgenorth Castle          184

    Becket before his Enemies in the Council Hall at Northampton     185

    Henry II.                                                        189

    Repulse of the English at Corwen                                 192

    Interview between Becket and King Henry                          193

    The Murder of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral                     197

    The Siege of Waterford                                           200

    Henry on His Way to Becket's Tomb                                205

    Henry receiving the News of John's Treachery                     209

    Crown of the Twelfth Century                                     211

    St. Clement's, Sandwich, showing the Norman Tower                212

    The Chapel in the White Tower, Tower of London                   213

    Portion of Doorway, Durham Cathedral                             215

    Castle Rising, Norfolk                                           216

    Richard I.                                                       217

    Coronation of Richard in Westminster Abbey: the Procession
      along the Aisle                                                220

    View in Genoa: the Dogana                                        221

    Isaac of Cyprus begging for the Release of His Daughter          225

    Richard at the Battle of Azotus                                  228

    Fountain near Jaffa                                              229

    Jaffa, from the Sands                                            232

    Richard landing at Jaffa                                         233

    Richard assailed by the Austrian Soldiers                        237

    Arrest of Archbishop Geoffrey in a Monastery at Dover            240

    South-West View of Old St. Paul's, showing the Chapter-House,
      &c.                                                            241

    Great Seal of Richard I.                                         244

    Reception of Richard on His Return from the Continent            245

    Map of the English Possessions in France                         248

    Bertrand in Presence of Richard                                  249

    John                                                             253

    Great Seal of John                                               256

    Murder of Prince Arthur                                          257

    Interior of Rouen Cathedral                                      261

    John doing Homage to the Pope's Legate                           264

    St. Peter's Church, Northampton                                  265

    John refusing to sign the Articles of the Barons                 269

    Runnymede, from Cooper's Hill                                    272

    Specimen of the Writing of the Great Charter                     273

    The Disaster to John's Army at the Wash                          276

    Winchester Cathedral                                             277

    Defeat of the French Fleet in the English Channel                281

    Great Seal of Henry III.                                         284

    Banquet at the Marriage of Henry and Eleanor of Provence         285

    Henry III.                                                       288

    Silver Penny of Henry III.                                       292

    Gold Penny of Henry III.                                         292

    View in Sicily: the Amphitheatre, Syracuse                       293

    Henry's Quarrel with De Montfort                                 296

    The Barons submitting their Demands to Henry                     297

    Oxford Castle                                                    301

    Flight of Queen Eleanor: the Scene at London Bridge              304

    Lewes (Sussex)                                                   305

    Battle of Evesham: King Henry in Danger                          309

    Prince Edward introducing Adam Gourdon to the Queen              312

    Interior of the Temple Church, London                            313

    The Choir of Lincoln Cathedral                                   317

    Capital from Salisbury Cathedral                                 318

    Capital from Lincoln Cathedral                                   318

    Tooth Ornament from Lincoln Cathedral                            318

    View in Tunis                                                    321

    Great Seal of Edward I.                                          324

    Edward I.                                                        325

    Llewelyn's Last Fight                                            328

    Edward presenting his Infant Son to the Welsh                    329

    Norham Castle                                                    333

    Earl Warrenne showing his Title to his Estates                   336

    The Sailors' Quarrel near Bayonne                                337

    The Coronation Chair and "Stone of Destiny," Westminster Abbey   341

    The Abbot of Arbroath before King Edward                         344

    The Abbey Craig and Wallace Monument, near Stirling, with the
      Ochil Hills                                                    345

    Revolt of the Barons against the King                            349

    Penny of Edward I. Groat of Edward I. Halfpenny of Edward I.     352

    Dunfermline Abbey and Church                                     353

    Wallace on his Way to Westminster Hall                           356

    Capture of Bruce's Wife and Daughter at Tain                     357

    South Transept, Westminster Abbey                                361

    Great Seal of Edward II.                                         364

    Edward II.                                                       365

    Piers Gaveston and the Barons                                    368

    Piers Gaveston before the Earl of Warwick                        369

    The Bore-Stone, Bannockburn, in which Bruce planted his
      Standard                                                       372

    Bannockburn: Bruce reviewing his Troops before the Battle        373

    The Auld Brig, Stirling                                          376

    Halfpenny of Edward II. Penny of Edward II.                      377

    Escape of Roger Mortimer from the Tower                          381

    Berkeley Castle                                                  385

    Great Seal of Edward III.                                        388

    Robert Bruce's last Orders to Douglas                            392

    Melrose Abbey                                                    393

    Edward III.                                                      396

    Interrupting Balliol's Christmas Dinner                          397

    Black Agnes at the Siege of Dunbar Castle                        401

    Porch of the Golden Virgin: Amiens Cathedral                     404

    The Countess De Montfort inciting the People of Rennes to
      resist the French King                                         409

    The Church of St. Etienne: Caen                                  413

    Edward the Black Prince                                          416

    The Black Prince at the Battle of Creçy                          417

    View in Calais: Rue de la Citadelle showing the Belfry           421

    Queen Philippa interceding for the Burgesses of Calais           425

    Edward receiving King John of France                             429

    Coins of the Reign of Edward III.                                432

    The Church of Notre Dame, Calais                                 433

    The Cathedral, Coutances                                         436

    Marcel and the Dauphin of France                                 437

    The Black Prince and the French King's Herald                    441

    John Wycliffe appearing in St. Paul's Cathedral to answer the
      Charge of Heresy                                               445

    Alice Perrers at the Death-bed of Edward III.                    448

    John Wycliffe                                                    453

    Great Seal of Richard II.                                        456

    One of Wycliffe's "Poor Priests" preaching to the People         457

    Coins of the Reign of Richard II.                                461

    John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster                                 465

    Betrothal of the Princess Isabella to Richard                    469

    Arrest of the Duke of Gloucester                                 473

    The Tower of London: the White Tower                             480

    Conway Castle                                                    481

    Arrest of King Richard                                           485

    Costume of Bishop of the Fourteenth Century                      488

    Facsimile of part of the First Chapter of St. John's Gospel in
      Wycliffe's Bible                                               489

    The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Colleges of Oxford
      University                                                     493

    Geoffrey Chaucer                                                 497

    Queen Eleanor's Cross, Northampton                               499

    Window from Meopham                                              500

    Window from St. Mary's, Beverley                                 500

    Decorated Capital, from Selby                                    501

    Ball Flower, with Roll Moulding and Hollow                       502

    Four-leaved Flower, with Filleted, Round, and Hollow moulding    502

    Minstrels at a Banquet in the Fourteenth Century                 504

    Fair at Westminster in the Fourteenth Century                    505

    English Ships of the Fourteenth Century                          509

    Costumes of the Fourteenth Century                               512

    English Merrymaking in the Fourteenth Century: riding at the
      Quintain                                                       513

    Henry IV.                                                        517

    Great Seal of Henry IV.                                          520

    Arrest of the Conspirators at Cirencester                        521

    Charge of the Scots at Homildon Hill                             525

    Warkworth Castle                                                 529

    Shilling of Henry IV.                                            532

    The French Fleet arriving at Milford Haven                       533

    The Dukes of Orleans and Burgundy, at the Church of the
      Augustines                                                     537

    Prince Henry before Judge Gascoigne                              541

    King at Table (Fourteenth Century)                               544

    Great Seal of Henry V.                                           545

    Henry V.                                                         549

    The English before Harfleur                                      553

    The Thanksgiving Service on the Field of Agincourt               557

    Reception of the Emperor Sigismund                               561

    Rouen from St. Catherine's Hill                                  564

    Cardinal Orsini's Visit to Henry                                 565

    Henry's Wooing of the Princess Catherine                         569

    Monmouth Castle (Birthplace of Henry V.)                         573

    Henry VI.                                                        577

    Rothesay Castle                                                  581

    Great Seal of Henry VI.                                          584

    Escape of Jacqueline                                             585

    Joan of Arc before Charles                                       589

    The Cathedral, Rheims                                            593

    Trial of Joan of Arc                                             596

    Place de la Pucelle, Rouen                                       597

    Denbigh                                                          601

    Angel of Henry VI.                                               604

    Arrest of the Duke of Suffolk                                    605



    KING JOHN GRANTING MAGNA CHARTA. (_By Ernest Normand_) _Frontispiece_

      (_By Lord Leighton_)                               _To face p._ 2

      OF THE SOUTH." (_By W. Bell Scott, R.H.A._)            "        15

     (_By Herbert A. Bone_)                                  "        41

      OF LONDON. (_By J. Seymour Lucas, R.A._)               "        118

      (_By James Archer, R.S.A._)                            "        135

      (_By Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S._)                "        150

      (_By Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S._)                "        177


      (_By James Archer, R.S.A._)                            "        219

    PRINCE ARTHUR AND HUBERT. (_By W.F. Yeames, R.A._)       "        257

      (_By Daniel Maclise, R.A._)                            "        354

      (_By J.D. Penrose_)                                    "        426

      (_From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum_)       "        449

      (_From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum_)       "        465

      (_By Henrietta Rue--Mrs. Normand_)                     "        478

      (_From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum_)       "        515

      (_By Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S._)                "        554

[Illustration: _From the Design for the Cartoon in the Royal Exchange._





[Illustration: LANDING OF THE ROMANS ON THE COAST OF KENT. (_See p._ 6.)]



     Earliest Notices of the British Isles--The Celts--Their
     Settlement in Britain--Their Character and Customs--Druidism--Its
     Organisation and Authority--Its Tenets--Stonehenge and other
     Remains--Cæsar's Preparations--The First Invasion--Peril of
     the Romans and their Retirement--The Second Invasion--Cæsar's
     Battles with Cassivelaunus--Claudius in Britain--The
     Resistance of Caractacus--His Defeat and Capture--His Speech
     before Claudius--The Conquest of Anglesea--Boadicea's
     Rebellion--The Capture of Camulodunum and London--Her Defeat and
     Death--Agricola in Britain--His Campaigns and Administration--His
     Campaign against the Caledonians--His Recall--The Walls of
     Hadrian and Severus--Rivals to the Emperor--Constantine's
     Accession--Christianity in Britain--Invasions of the Picts and
     Scots--Dismemberment of the Roman Empire and Departure of the
     Romans--Divisions and Administration of Britain under the Romans.

Separated from the continent of Europe by the sea, the British isles
were not known to the nations of antiquity until a somewhat late date.
Herodotus was ignorant of their existence; but Strabo, a contemporary of
Cæsar, tells us that the Carthaginians had for a long period carried on
a considerable commerce with the Cassiterides, or tin-islands, which are
usually identified with the Scilly islands, and doubtless included also
part of the Cornish coast. Again, Pytheas, a merchant of Marseilles, who
lived about 332 B.C., visited this country in the course of his life, and
fragments of his diary are still extant. He seems to have coasted round a
considerable portion of what is now England, and his observations on the
inhabitants are singularly acute. About two centuries later, Posidonius,
another Greek traveller, visited Belerion, as he called it--that is,
Cornwall; but, until the invasion of Cæsar, the extent of these islands,
their main geographical features, and the tribes that inhabited them,
were practically a matter of more or less complete ignorance to the
civilised world that dwelt round the shores of the Mediterranean.

From the narrative of Cæsar, we gather that the bulk of the population of
England, Scotland, and Wales at the time of his invasion was of Celtic
origin; that is, it belonged to one of the branches of the great family
of nations which is commonly known as the Indo-European, or Aryan, and
which includes the Celts, the Greeks and Italians, the Germans, the
Lithuanians and Slavs in Europe; and in Asia the Armenians, Persians,
and the chief peoples of Hindustan. Of the Aryan nations, the Celts were
probably the first to arrive in Europe from the East, though the date
of their migration is purely conjectural. They pushed across the great
central plateau, until the vanguard reached the ocean; and at first
probably occupied a very large portion of Europe, but, being driven
out by the stronger Germans, were gradually confined to the Iberian
peninsula, France, Switzerland, and the British isles.

As it is impossible to fix the date of the Celtic migration into Europe,
so it is equally impossible to conjecture the when and why of the Celtic
invasion of Britain. It is pretty certain that they found other races
here on their arrival; and that they did not succeed by any means in
thoroughly exterminating them. It has been surmised, indeed, that the
Silures, who played a prominent part in the resistance to the Romans, and
who inhabited the south of Wales and Monmouthshire, belonged to some more
primitive race than the Celts. After the Celts, in the same way came the
Belgæ, who were of German origin, and who settled on the southern coast.
But the mass of the population was, as we have said, purely Celtic, and
was composed of two large divisions--the Gaels, who dwelt on the northern
and western coasts of what are now called England and Scotland, and over
the great part of Ireland; and the Britons, who occupied the country
south of the Friths of Forth and Clyde, with the exception of what is now
Hampshire and Sussex, where dwelt the Belgæ.

It was with the Britons, therefore, that the Romans were chiefly
concerned, and we would fain have some information of their manners and
customs other than that derived from the enemy, impartial though Cæsar
and Tacitus were. But there was no British historian to chronicle the
mighty deeds of the Celtic warriors, or to describe the home-life of
the people. The picture we are able to construct, therefore, is derived
almost entirely from the Romans; nevertheless, it is a fairly complete
one. They describe a tall and finely built race, recklessly brave,
strikingly patriotic, and faithful to the family tie; courteous also in
manner, and eloquent of speech, and very fond of novelty, especially
when it took the form of the arrival of a stranger in the village. At the
same time the Britons were an unpractical race, never constant to any one
object, quarrelsome amongst themselves, and utterly unable to combine
against a common enemy.



Such was the moral character of the Britons. They dwelt in villages, in
which the cottages were wattled and thatched with straw, and in time of
danger repaired to a fortified and entrenched stronghold, or _dun_. The
name of London records the site of one of these ancient places of refuge.
They had large quantities of cattle, and grew corn, which they stored,
in some districts at any rate, underground. Their breed of hunting dogs
was also celebrated. Pytheas informs us that they made a drink of mixed
wheat and honey, which is still drunk in part of Wales under the name of
mead; while other writers, probably deriving their information from him,
tell us that they drank another liquor made of barley, which is also not
unknown in these days. They fought under their kings and chiefs, and were
well armed with sword, spear, axe, and shield. The chiefs also fought
from chariots, which they managed with great skill, and the onslaught of
the British host was accompanied by loud cries and the blowing of horns,
with which each man was provided.

Religion was in the hands of the Druids, who combined the character of
prophet and priest. It was dark and mysterious as the gloomy forests in
which it first drew birth, and in whose deepest recesses they celebrated
their cruel rites. Its ministers built no covered temples, deeming it an
insult to their gods to attempt to enclose their emblems in an edifice
surrounded by walls, and erected by mortal hands; the forest was their
temple, and a rough unhewn stone their altar. They worshipped a god of
the sky and thunder, whom they identified with Jupiter; a sun-god, whom,
when they were Romanised, they called Apollo; a god of war, afterwards
called Mars; and a goddess who presided over births, like the Latin
Lucina; and Andate, the goddess of victory. Besides these, who may be
regarded as their superior deities, they had a great number of inferior
ones. Each wood, fountain, lake, and mountain had its tutelary genius,
whom they were accustomed to invoke with sacrifice and prayer.

The Druids were ruled by a chief whom they elected; they were the
interpreters of the laws, which they never permitted to be committed
to writing, the instructors of youth, and the judges of the people--a
tremendous power to be lodged in the hands of any peculiar class. There
were also Bards, whose duty it was to preserve in verse the memory of any
remarkable event; to celebrate the triumph of their heroes; and, by their
exhortation and songs, excite the chiefs and people to deeds of courage
and daring on the day of battle.

It is impossible not to be struck by the profound cunning which presided
over the organisation of this terrible priesthood, and concentrated all
authority in its hands. Its ministers placed themselves between man
and the altar, permitting his approach only in mystery and gloom. They
wrought upon his imagination by the sacrifice of human life, and the most
terrible denunciations of the anger of their gods on all who opposed
them. As the instructors of youth, they moulded the pliant mind, and
fashioned it to their purpose; as the judges of the people, there was no
appeal against their decisions, for none but the Druids could pronounce
authoritatively what was the law, there being no written code to refer
to; they alone possessed the right to recompense or punish: thus the
present and future welfare of their followers alike depended upon them.

The severest penalty inflicted by the Druids was the interdiction of the
sacrifice to those who had offended them. Woe to the unhappy wretch on
whom the awful sentence fell! He ceased to be considered a human being.
Like the beast of the forest, his life was at the mercy of any one who
chose to take it. He lost all civil rights, and could neither inherit
land nor sue for the recovery of debts; every one was at liberty to spoil
his property; even his nearest kindred fled from him in horror. They were
also accustomed to sacrifice human victims on their altars, or burnt them
as offerings to the gods, in wicker baskets.

It is now time to give some account of the dogmas of this extinct
religion, once the general faith of Britain. Like the monks of the
Middle Ages, the Druids of the higher orders lived in community in the
remote depths of the vast gloomy forests, where they celebrated their
rites. In these retreats they initiated the youthful aspirants for the
priesthood, who frequently passed a novitiate of twenty years before
being admitted. Disciples of all ranks flocked to them, despite the
severity of the probation, tempted, no doubt, by the honours and great
privileges attached to the order, amongst which exemption from taxation
and servitude was not the least. The mistletoe is said by Pliny to have
been a peculiarly sacred plant in their rites.

The Druids taught the immortality of the soul, and its transmigration
from one body to another, till, by some extraordinary act of virtue
or courage, it merited to be received into the assembly of the gods.
Cæsar, in his "Commentaries," also informs us that they instructed their
pupils in the movements of the heavenly bodies, and the grandeur of the
universe. Their knowledge of mathematics must have been considerable,
since we find it applied to the measurement of the earth and stars. In
mechanics they were equally advanced, judging from the monuments which
remain to us. Of these, the most remarkable in England are Stonehenge,
consisting of 139 enormous stones, ranged in a circle; and that of
Avebury, in Wiltshire, which covers a space of twenty-eight acres of
land. But the largest of all the Druid temples is situated at Carnac,
in the department of Morbihan, in France. It is formed of 400 stones,
varying from five to twenty-seven feet in height, and ranged in eleven
concentric lines. It should be mentioned, however, that some authorities
consider these erections to belong to a period anterior to the arrival of
the Celts in Europe, though they were probably utilised by them.

[Illustration: STONEHENGE FROM THE NORTH-WEST. (_From a Photograph by
Frith & Co, Reigate._)]


(_From the Model in the Blackmore Museum, Salisbury, after the
Restoration by Dr. Stukeley._)]

Such was the country and such the condition of its inhabitants when in
55 B.C. Cæsar undertook its invasion, to which he was led not so much
by the thirst of dominion as by the necessity he found himself under of
doing something to acquire a great name at Rome. He had already partially
subdued the Gauls, and determined on striking a blow at Britain. Having
decided on the expedition, the victorious general commenced his
preparations with his accustomed energy. His first care was to obtain
hostages from the Gauls: he questioned the merchants and others who
had visited Britain as to its resources and extent, the natives which
inhabited it, their manners, customs, and religion, and sent Commius,
whom he had created King of the Atrabates in Gaul, to demand the
submission of the islanders.

ROMANS. (_See p._ 6.)]

On the first news of the intended descent, the Britons, excited by the
Druids and Bards, assembled in arms, in order to defend their coasts, but
at the same time did not neglect other means of warding off the danger
which threatened their independence, and despatched ambassadors to Cæsar
with offers of alliance. They were received courteously, although the
wily Roman knew that, incited by their priests, they had arrested his
messenger, and kept him in chains. Meanwhile Cæsar prepared his fleet,
and assembled his soldiers for the expedition. He embarked the infantry
of two of his legions in eighty vessels, which he assembled at Itius
Portus, supposed by some writers to be Calais, by others the village of
Wissant, between that place and Boulogne. He divided the vessels amongst
his principal officers, and set sail with a favourable wind during the
night. Eighteen galleys at a distant part of the coast had received his
cavalry, and sailed about the same time. At ten the following morning
the expedition appeared off the coast, where the inhabitants were seen
in arms, ready to receive it. The spot, it would seem, was unfavourable
for landing, and Cæsar hesitated, and dropped anchor till three in the
afternoon, hoping for the arrival of his other galleys. Disappointed
in this expectation, he sailed along the coast, and finally decided
on disembarking at Deal, where the shore was comparatively level,
and presented less difficulty for such an enterprise. But here, too,
the Britons were prepared, a considerable force being collected to
oppose him. The galleys drew too much water to permit the invaders to
land at once upon the beach, and the soldiers hesitated. There was a
momentary confusion amongst them. "Follow me, comrades!" exclaimed the
standard-bearer, "if you would not see the eagle in the hands of the
enemy. For myself, if I perish, I shall have done my duty to Rome and to
my general." At these words he plunged into the waves, and was followed
by the men, who leaped tumultuously after him, ashamed, most likely, of
their previous cowardice and hesitation. On reaching the shore, they fell
with the utmost fury on the enemy, whose undisciplined ranks could ill
sustain the shock of the Roman legion; still, they fought desperately,
incited by their bards and priests, who sang the songs of victory, and
exhorted them to renew the combat each time they seemed to waver. At last
they were compelled to give way, and retreat to the shelter of the woods,
with their chariots and broken ranks. Cæsar himself informs us that he
was prevented from pursuing the victory by the absence of his cavalry,
a circumstance which he bitterly laments, since its presence alone was
wanting to crown his fortune.

Although he did not venture to follow the fugitives, they sent
ambassadors, accompanied by Commius, whom the Britons released from
prison and chains, to sue for peace. The victor complained, and with some
show of justice, of the reception he had met with, after they had sent
envoys to him in Gaul with offers of submission, and also of the arrest
of his ambassador; and lamented the blood that had been shed. To this
harangue the Britons artfully replied that they had imprisoned Commius in
order to preserve him from the fury of the people, and with this excuse
Cæsar either was, or affected to be, content. He granted the peace they
came to solicit, and demanded hostages, which were promised, for the

A storm dispersed the eighteen galleys which were to transport the
cavalry of Cæsar, and drove them back upon the coast of Gaul. This was
not the only misfortune the Romans endured. That same night the moon
was at its full; it was the season of the equinox, and the tide rose to
an unusual height, filling the vessels which Cæsar had drawn out of the
reach of danger, as he imagined, on the sands. The larger ships, which
had served him as a means of transport, were driven from their anchors,
and many of them wrecked.

Although perfectly aware of the perils which menaced their invaders,
the Britons appear to have proceeded with the utmost caution. Whilst
a league was secretly being formed to crush the Romans, their chiefs
appeared daily in their camp, professing unbroken friendship. Suddenly
they fell upon the seventh legion, which had been sent to a distance
to forage. The plan was well contrived to defeat the enemy in detail.
Many of their leaders remained in camp, in order to lull suspicion,
whilst their confederates surprised the Romans, who, having laid aside
their arms, were soon surrounded, and must have been cut off but for the
timely arrival of Cæsar, who, warned by his outposts that a cloud of dust
thicker than usual had been seen at a distance, guessed immediately what
had occurred. With a portion of his army he fell upon the assailants,
and, after a desperate struggle, disengaged the threatened legion, and
returned with it to the camp in safety. The lesson was a sharp one, and
the rains soon afterwards setting in, the invader did not attempt to
renew the battle.

The islanders, meanwhile, had not been idle: messengers had been
despatched in every direction, calling on the various nations to take
arms; the Druids preached war to the death; and a sufficient force was
soon assembled to attack the Romans in their camp. Discipline, however,
again prevailed against the courage of the barbarians, as Tacitus
contemptuously calls them; although he admits at the same time their
bravery, and adds that it was a fortunate thing for Cæsar that the
country was so divided into petty states that the jealousies of their
respective rulers prevented the unity of action which alone could ensure
success. Had the Britons been united, they might have bid defiance to
the legions of Rome. Once more the islanders demanded peace, which Cæsar
granted them; in fact, he was scarcely in a position to do otherwise,
for he already meditated a retreat. He embarked the army suddenly in the
night, and retired to Gaul, taking the hostages he had received with him.
Although the senate of Rome ordered a thanksgiving of twenty days for the
triumph of the Roman arms, the first expedition against the island cannot
be regarded as other than a failure.

For the second invasion, which took place in the following year,
preparations were made commensurate with the importance of the task
proposed. Cæsar having assembled 800 vessels, on board of which were five
legions, and 2,000 horsemen of the noblest families in Gaul, set sail,
and landed without opposition at Ryde. This time there was no enemy to
oppose him; for the Britons, terrified at the appearance of this immense
armament, had retreated to their natural fastnesses, the forests. Leaving
ten cohorts and 300 horsemen to guard the camp and fleet, under the
orders of Quintus Atrius, Cæsar set forward in search of the enemy, whom
he discovered, after a march of twelve miles, on the banks of a river,
where they had drawn up their chariots and horsemen. Profiting by their
elevated position, they accepted, or rather engaged, the combat, and when
repulsed withdrew into an admirably fortified camp, which was not taken
without much difficulty. The Britons, as usual after a defeat, retreated
once more to their woods, where it was impossible for the legions of Rome
to follow, or the cavalry to act against them.

On the following morning, just as the victorious leader was about to
re-commence his march, news arrived from the camp that a violent tempest
had seriously damaged the fleet. Many of his vessels were wrecked, and
others rendered unfit for service. Like a prudent general, Cæsar at once
returned to the camp, to assure himself of the extent of the injury done
to his fleet, and found it more considerable than he imagined. Forty
vessels were lost; the rest could be repaired, though not without great
labour and time. Every artificer in his army was set to work; others were
sent for from the continent; and instructions written to Labienus in Gaul
to construct new galleys to replace those which were lost. The next step
was worthy the genius and reputation of Cæsar. After having repaired his
ships, he caused his legions to draw them out of reach of the tide, high
up on the shore, and enclosed the whole of them in a fortified camp--an
immense work, when we consider that it was executed in an enemy's
country, and the scanty means at his command for such an undertaking.

Meanwhile the Britons had united under Cassivelaunus, head-king of the
tribes north of the Thames, and Cæsar advanced to meet him. The king
proved a doughty opponent, seldom venturing upon a pitched battle, but
harassing the Romans by sudden attacks, in which the chariots proved
particularly formidable. At length Cæsar managed, with difficulty,
to cross the Thames somewhere above London, and ravaged the king's
territory. Fortunately the powerful tribe of the Trinobantes, who
inhabited part of Middlesex and Essex, came over to him at this juncture,
having old scores to pay off against Cassivelaunus, and they were
followed by other tribes. Cæsar was therefore able to storm Verulam,
the stronghold of the British king, and then, finding that his camp on
the coast was being besieged by the four kings of Kent, that his troops
were being wearied out by the constant alarms, and having, in addition,
received unpleasant news from Gaul, he accepted the offers of peace made
by Cassivelaunus, and departed. So ended Cæsar's invasions of Britain.

For nearly a century, that is, until A.D. 43, Britain remained
undisturbed by the Romans; but at length the Emperor Claudius determined
that the island should be thoroughly conquered. Accordingly his general,
Aulus Plautius, landed with an army, and, after gaining considerable
successes, wrote to Claudius inviting him to pass over to the island and
conclude the war himself. The emperor accepted the invitation, and took
the command of his legions in Britain. He crossed the Thames, and seized
upon the fortress of Camulodunum (Colchester or Malden, authorities
are divided as to which), receiving in his progress the submission of
a number of petty kings and chiefs. This had been the stronghold of
Cunobelinus, the Cymbeline of Shakespeare. Having reduced a part of the
country to the condition of a Roman province, Claudius returned to enjoy
the honours of a triumph in Rome. It was celebrated with a degree of
unusual magnificence, splendid games, and rejoicings.

[Illustration: JULIUS CÆSAR.

(_From the Bust in the British Museum._)]

After passing four years on the island, Plautius was recalled to Rome,
where the jealousy of the emperor limited the honours decreed to the
victorious general to a simple ovation. He was succeeded by Ostorius
Scapula, who found, on his arrival, the affairs of his countrymen in the
greatest disorder. The Britons, trusting that a general newly arrived in
the island would not enter on a campaign in the beginning of winter, had
divided their forces, to plunder and lay waste the territories of such
persons as were in alliance with Rome. Ostorius, however, contrary to
their expectations, pursued the war with vigour, gave the dispersed bands
no time to unite or rally, and commanded the people whom he suspected of
disaffection to give up their arms. As a further precaution, he erected
forts on the banks of the Avon and the Severn.

[Illustration: CARACTACUS BEFORE CLAUDIUS. (_See p._ 10.)]

The moment appeared favourable to the victorious general to subdue the
Silures, a fierce and warlike nation, who, under their king, Caractacus,
still held out against the Roman arms (A.D. 50). Hitherto clemency and
force had alike proved unavailing to reduce them to submission, and
Ostorius prepared his expedition with a prudence and foresight worthy of
the struggle on which the establishment of the supremacy of Rome in the
island, in a great measure, depended. He first settled a strong colony of
his veteran soldiers at Camulodunum, on the conquered lands, to keep in
check the neighbouring tribes, and spread by their example a knowledge
of the useful arts. He then set forth at the head of his bravest legions
in search of Caractacus, who had retreated from his own states, and
transported the war into the country of the Ordovices, in the middle
of Wales. The warlike Briton had assembled under his command all who
had vowed an eternal resistance to the invaders, and fortified his
position by entrenchments of earth, in imitation of the Roman military
works. In Shropshire, where the great struggle is supposed to have taken
place, there is a hill which the inhabitants still call Caer Caradoc.
It corresponds exactly with the description which Tacitus has given of
the fortifications erected by Caractacus, and answers to the Latin words
_Castra Caractaci_. This warrior, whose devotion to the liberties of his
country merited a better fate, did all that a patriot and a soldier could
do to excite the spirit of his countrymen. He reminded the chiefs under
his command that the day of battle would be the day of deliverance from a
degrading bondage, and at the same time appealed to their patriotism, by
reminding them that their ancestors had defeated the attempts of Cæsar.
The address was received with acclamation, and the excited Britons bound
themselves by oaths not to shrink from the darts of their enemies.

The cries of rage with which the invaders were received, the resolute
bearing of the Silures, astonished the Roman general, who examined with
disquietude the river which defended the rude entrenchment on one side,
the ramparts of earth and stone, not unskilfully thrown up, and the
rugged rock, which towered above them, crowned with numberless defenders.
His soldiers demanded to be led on, urging that nothing was impossible
to true courage; the tribunes held the same language, and Ostorius led
on his army to the attack. Under a shower of arrows it crossed the
river, and arrived at the foot of the rude entrenchment, but not without
suffering severely. Then was seen the advantage of discipline over
untrained courage. The Roman soldiers serried their ranks, and raising
their bucklers over their heads, formed with them an impenetrable roof,
which securely sheltered them whilst they demolished the earthworks. That
once accomplished, the victory was assured. The half-naked Britons, with
their clubs and arrows, were no match against the well-armed legions of
Rome; but from the summit of the rocks still poured death upon their
enemies, till the light troops succeeded in slaying or dispersing
them. The victory of the Romans was complete. The wife and daughter
of Caractacus were taken prisoners, and the illustrious chief of the
Silures soon afterwards shared a similar destiny. His mother-in-law,
Cartismandua, Queen of the Brigantes, to whom he had fled for shelter,
delivered him in chains to his enemies. Ostorius sent him and his family
to Rome, as the noblest trophies of his conquest.

The fame of Caractacus had penetrated even to Italy. The Roman citizens
were anxious to behold the barbarian who had so long braved their power.
Although defeated and a captive, the natural greatness of his soul did
not abandon him. Tacitus relates that his first remark on beholding the
imperial city was surprise that those who possessed such magnificent
palaces at home should envy him a poor hovel in Britain. He was conducted
before the Emperor Claudius, who received him seated on his throne, with
the Empress Agrippina by his side. The prætorian guard were drawn up in
line of battle on either side. First came the servants of the captive
prince; then were borne the spoils of the vanquished Britons; these were
followed by the brothers, the wife, and daughter of Caractacus, and last
of all by Caractacus himself, calm and unsubdued by his misfortune.

Advancing to the throne, he pronounced the following remarkable
discourse, which Tacitus has preserved for us:--"If I had had, O Cæsar,
in prosperity, a prudence equal to my birth and fortune, I should have
entered this city as a friend, and not as a captive; and possibly
thou wouldest not have disdained the alliance of a man descended from
illustrious ancestors, who gave laws to several nations. My fate this
day appears as sad for me as it is glorious for thee. I had horses,
soldiers, arms, and treasures; is it surprising that I should regret the
loss of them? If it is thy will to command the universe, is it a reason
we should voluntarily accept slavery? Had I yielded sooner, thy fortune
and my glory would have been less, and oblivion would soon have followed
my execution. If thou sparest my life, I shall be an eternal monument of
thy clemency." To the honour of Claudius, he not only spared the life
of his captive, but the lives of his brothers, wife, and daughter, and
treated them with respect. Their chains were removed, and they expressed
their thanks, not only to the emperor, but to Agrippina, whose influence
is supposed, not without reason, to have been exerted in their favour.

The public life of Caractacus ended with his captivity; for the tradition
that he afterwards returned to Britain, and ruled over a portion of the
island, rests on so uncertain a foundation as to be unworthy of belief.
The senate, in its pompous harangues, compared the subjection of this
formidable chief to that of Syphax by Scipio, and decreed the honours
of a triumph to his conqueror, Ostorius, who died, however, shortly
afterwards, worn out by the perpetual attacks of the Silures.

Ostorius was succeeded in the government of Britain by Avitus Didius
Gallus, who, unlike his warlike predecessor, sought to establish the
Roman dominion in the island by fomenting internal dissension. He made an
alliance with the perfidious mother-in-law of Caractacus, Cartismandua,
Queen of the Brigantes, whose subjects had revolted. His government
lasted but four years, during which period the armies of Rome made but
little progress on the isle. Nero assigned the government of Britain to
Veranius, who died a year afterwards, in a campaign he had undertaken
against the Silures.

Suetonius Paulinus, who was despatched to Britain by Nero in 58, proved
himself fully equal to the task he had undertaken. Hitherto the Britons
had been excited to revolt by the exhortations of the Druids, whose
principal sanctuary was in the island of Anglesea, which, up to the
period of his government, had preserved its independence, and served
as a refuge to the malcontents and vanquished. Of this important spot
Suetonius resolved to obtain possession, as the most effectual means of
crushing the spirit of resistance still existing amongst the people. By
means of a number of flat-bottomed boats, which he had constructed for
the purpose, he crossed the arm of the sea which separates Anglesea from
Britain. Tacitus has left a vivid description of the effect produced
upon the Romans on approaching the island: the army of the enemy drawn
up like a living rampart on the shore, to oppose their landing; the
women, in mournful robes of a sombre colour, rushing wildly along the
sands, brandishing their torches and muttering imprecations; the Druids,
with their arms extended in malediction. The invaders were appalled;
and, but for the exhortations of their leaders, the expedition, in all
probability, must have suffered a defeat. Excited by their reproaches,
the standard-bearers advanced, and the army, ashamed to desert their
eagles, followed them, striking madly with their swords, and crushing all
who opposed them. Finally, they succeeded in surrounding the Britons, who
perished, with their wives and children, in the fires which the Druids
had commanded to be kindled for their hideous sacrifices. The victory
was a terrible blow to the influence of the Druids, who never recovered
their power in the island; and its consequences would have been even more
severely felt, but for an insurrection which shortly afterwards broke out
in that portion of Britain which had been reduced to the condition of a
Roman colony.

The imposts were excessive, and exacted with rigour. Hundreds of
distinguished families saw themselves reduced to indigence, and,
consequently, to servitude. Their sons were torn from their hearths, and
compelled to serve on the continent in the auxiliary cohorts. All these
evils, great as they were, might have been borne, had not an outrage
been added more infamous than any the insolent invaders had yet ventured
to perpetrate: an outrage which filled the hearts of the Britons with
fury, and drove them once more to rebellion. Prasutagus, a king of the
nation of the Iceni, had for many years been the faithful ally of Rome;
on his death, the better to ensure a portion of his inheritance to his
family, he named the emperor and his daughters as his joint heirs. The
Roman procurator, however, took possession of the whole in the name of
his imperial master, a proceeding which naturally aroused the indignation
of Boadicea, the widow of the deceased prince. Being a woman of resolute
character, she complained bitterly of the spoliation, and for redress
was not only beaten with rods like a slave, but her daughters were
dishonoured before her eyes. On hearing of these indignities, the Iceni
flew to arms; the Trinobantes and several other tribes followed their
example, and a league was formed between them to recover their lost

The first object of their attack was the colony of veterans established
at Camulodunum, where a temple, dedicated to Claudius, had been raised,
the priests of which committed infamous exactions, under the pretence of
thus honouring religion. It was affirmed, as is generally the case on the
eve of any great event, that numerous omens preceded the catastrophe.
The statue of Victory fell in the temple with its face upon the ground;
fearful howlings were heard in the theatre; and it is even pretended that
a picture of the colony in ruins had been seen floating in the waters of
the Thames. The report of all these prodigies, which, if they really took
place, were doubtless the contrivances of the Druids, froze the veterans
with terror, and raised the courage of the Britons to the highest pitch.
In the absence of Suetonius, the colonists demanded succour of the
procurator, who sent them only 200 men, and those badly armed; and with
this feeble reinforcement, the garrison shut themselves up in the temple.

With the cunning which seems peculiar to all semi-barbarous nations, the
Britons continued to reassure their enemy of their pacific intentions.
The consequence was that instead of raising a rampart and digging a
ditch round the building, which they might easily have done, the Romans
remained in a state of fancied security, neglecting even to send away
their women and children, and such as from age and sickness were unable
to bear arms. Suddenly the mask was thrown off. The insurgents, who had
gained sufficient time to collect their forces and mature their plans,
fell upon the colony, destroying everything before them, and sparing
neither sex nor age. After a siege of several days, the temple was taken
by assault, and the garrison put to the sword.


Emboldened by their success, the victors marched to meet Petillius
Cerealis, who, at the head of the ninth legion, was hastening to the
assistance of his countrymen. After a bloody battle, in which the Britons
massacred all his infantry, the Roman lieutenant was compelled to seek
refuge with his cavalry in the camp. Terrified at the disaster which his
avarice and cruelty had caused, the procurator, Cato Decianus, fled to
Gaul, followed by the maledictions of the inhabitants of the province on
which he had brought so many evils.

Whilst engaged in the subjugation of the natives of Anglesea, Suetonius
Paulinus received intelligence of the revolt of the Britons against
the colonies of the eastern parts of the island. Immediately he set
out on his march for London. This is the first mention which we have
in history of this city by the title of Londinium--a city destined, in
after years, to become the chief centre of political power and commercial
enterprise in Europe; to rival, if not to eclipse, the most famous cities
of antiquity in splendour and in influence. But the small force under
his command was unable successfully to govern it against the fury of
the native enemies, who eagerly panted for the destruction of a town
which was at once the monument of Roman triumph and the stronghold of
Roman tyranny. Anxious that his small army should not be destroyed in
an attempt to defend what was hopeless, Suetonius resolved to retreat
and give up the city to the plunder of the Britons. All such as were
willing to leave it were taken into his army, and, amid the cries and
lamentations of the inhabitants, the city was abandoned by the Roman
troops. It was not long before the storm burst upon the wretched
inhabitants, whom the insurgents massacred without pity or remorse,
although the majority of them consisted of their own countrymen, against
whom their rage appeared quite as much excited as against the Romans,
on account of their submission to the common enemy. Seventy thousand
are computed to have perished in the slaughter. Never before had such
an indiscriminate destruction been witnessed in the island. Tacitus, in
speaking of the Britons, says:--"They would neither take the vanquished
prisoners, sell them, nor ransom their lives and liberties; but hastened
to massacre, torture, and crucify them, as if to avenge themselves
beforehand for the cruel punishments which the future had in store for

Trajan Column._)]

Suetonius, uniting the fourteenth legion, the auxiliaries of the
twenty-first, and the garrisons of the neighbouring towns, soon found
himself at the head of 10,000 men; and with such an army no longer
hesitated to meet the enemy, before whom he had hitherto deemed it
advisable to retreat. With great skill he took up his position at the
entrance of a narrow defile, his infantry in the centre, the cavalry
forming the wings. The Britons, a countless multitude, advanced to battle
without order or discipline, animated by the desire of vengeance and
the hope of recovering their liberty. Before the struggle commenced, a
chariot was seen, drawn slowly through their ranks; in it was a female
of tall stature and dignified bearing, enveloped in the folds of a long
mantle, a chain of gold round her waist, and her long hair floating
to the ground. It was the outraged Boadicea, who, accompanied by her
daughters, appealed to the courage of her countrymen. "The Britons,"
she cried, "are accustomed to fight under the command of a woman; there
is no question now of avenging my illustrious ancestors from whom I am
descended, my kingdom, or my plundered treasures. Avenge me as a simple
woman, as one of your own class. Avenge my outraged liberty; my body torn
by the scourge; and the dishonoured innocence of my daughters! The Romans
respect neither the age of our old men nor the chastity of our children;
their avarice is insatiable. Are not our persons taxed? do we not pay
even for the permission to bear our heads? Nor is that all; the tax must
be paid for those who cease to live. It was reserved for the execrable
tyranny of the Romans," she added, "to raise a revenue from the dead. But
there are just gods, avenging gods. A legion that dared oppose us has
perished; the rest of the Romans conceal themselves, or already think of
flight. They cannot hear without trembling the cries of so many thousand
men; how, then, will they support the shock of your blows? Consider your
countless battalions, reflect on the motives of this war, and you will
understand that the day has arrived on which we must vanquish or die.
Such will be, such shall be the fate of one woman; let men live slaves if
they will."

Animated by these inspiring words, the recollection of their injuries,
and the blood they had already shed, the Britons commenced the combat.
The legion, with their eyes fixed upon their chief, waited the signal. It
was given, and they advanced in a triangular battalion; the auxiliaries
followed the impetuous movement, and the squadrons charged with their
lances in rest. Nothing could resist that fearful shock. The immense
multitude was put to flight, but the chariots containing their wives and
children, who had followed to be spectators of their victory, barred the
way. The victors spared neither women, children, nor animals. The carnage
was fearful: 80,000 Britons remained dead upon the plain. Boadicea, the
witness and victim of this sad defeat, kept the promise she had made, not
to fall into the power of the Romans, but ended her life by poison. This
victory re-established the reputation of the Roman arms; but it was not
permitted to Suetonius to complete the task he had begun; he was shortly
afterwards recalled to Rome, to answer charges brought against him by his
enemies, and, although acquitted, he lost the favour of a prince in whose
reign no man of celebrity was spared.

In the reign of Vespasian, his general, Cerealis, reduced the Brigantes
in the years A.D. 69 and 70, and his successor, Julius Frontinus,
conquered the Silures. But it was reserved to another general to achieve
the conquest of a proud and warlike nation, and to render it durable by
the qualities of justice and moderation. The great man who gave this
useful lesson to the world was Agricola, named governor of Britain in the
year 78 of the Christian era. He had already visited the island, having
served in the army as tribune under the command of Suetonius Paulinus,
who esteemed and treated him as a friend. His first step was to repress
the revolt of the Ordovices, whom he punished with rigour; he next
renewed the attack on the island of Anglesea, which he took, owing to
the courage of his German auxiliaries, who, not having vessels at their
command, swam over the arm of the sea which divides it from Britain. In
the following campaign he extended the limits of the Roman government to
the Tay, leaving strong garrisons at all the important points. In his
fourth campaign Agricola crossed the Forth to the southern frontier
of Caledonia, or the Scottish Highlands, and erected, to repress the
invasion of the warlike inhabitants, a line of fortifications between the
Forth and the Clyde.

But it is as an administrator or civil governor that Agricola chiefly
merits our praise. He lessened, as much as possible, the tribute levied
on the vanquished Britons by an equitable adjustment, suppressed the most
onerous monopolies, and multiplied the means of transport and commerce.
Having succeeded in gaining the good opinion of the people he was called
to rule over by his valour and equity, the governor next tried to keep
them peaceable by inculcating a taste for the arts and pleasures. He
encouraged the erection of temples and forums, aided all public works by
grants from the treasury, and caused the sons of the principal chiefs
and princes to be instructed in the sciences. Gradually those who had
disdained the language of the conquerors devoted themselves to its
attainment. They assumed the toga, and affected the tastes, and in too
many instances the vices, of their masters.

Titus, who had succeeded to the throne of his father, Vespasian, reigned
but two years, and left the empire to Domitian, who, like most men of
suspicious nature, felt jealous lest any other name should become greater
than his own. He did not venture, however, to recall Agricola, who was
permitted to pursue his career of glory, and, in the fifth year of his
government, advanced with his legions to the west, as far as the coast
opposite to Ireland. A statesman, administrator, and soldier, like the
illustrious pupil of Suetonius, must have comprehended the advantage of
conquering the sister island; the facilities which it would afford to
the increasing commerce between Spain, Gaul, and Britain: he renounced,
however, the enterprise from some unknown reason, and Ireland, for nearly
a thousand years longer, preserved her independence.

He now turned his attention to the people north of the Forth, whom
Tacitus calls the Caledonians. In his first campaign against them, which
commenced in the sixth year of his government, the Romans experienced
a severe check, as the enemy nearly forced their camp, and were only
repulsed after causing considerable damage. In the seventh and last year
of his residence on the island, Agricola made his great attempt to subdue
these ferocious nations, and his preparations were worthy his great
military reputation and the magnitude of the task he had undertaken. He
joined to his legions and auxiliaries from the continent cohorts of
Britons, drawn from the southern portion of the island; and supplied his
army by means of a numerous fleet, which sailed along the coast.




The Romans advanced without encountering any serious obstacle as far
as the Grampians, where the Caledonians, under the celebrated chief
Galgacus, were drawn up to oppose them, 30,000 strong. The first ranks,
consisting of the bravest of the tribes, occupied the level plain;
the next and secondary ones covered the sides of the mountain, rising
in half-circles one above another, as in a vast amphitheatre. At the
sight of the Caledonians, it became difficult to keep the Romans in the
entrenchments, and Agricola, seeing their impatience for battle, exhorted
them to conquest. "Defeat itself," he said, "will not be without glory;
but you will not yield. The bravest of the Britons have been already
overcome; those who remain are cowardly and timid, as you behold on the
heights which you will illustrate by a memorable victory. Put an end,"
he concluded, "to so many expeditions, and add another great day to
fifty years of triumph!" At these words the ardour of his soldiers could
no longer be repressed. They quitted the camp, and their brave leader
ranged them in order of battle: the auxiliaries on foot, to the number
of 8,000, in the centre; 3,000 horsemen formed the wings; the legions
being held in reserve. The first line of the Caledonians descended to the
plain, which trembled beneath the galloping of the horses and the rolling
of the war-chariots. Agricola, seeing the superiority of the enemy in
point of numbers, deployed his ranks, resolved neither to fly nor yield.
Favoured by their position, the barbarians had the advantage as long as
they fought at a distance with javelins and arrows; which became useless,
however, when, the Roman general having commanded the auxiliaries to
engage man to man, they rushed to the encounter with their long sharp
swords; another body assailed the rocks, which they carried by assault,
and the Caledonians retreated behind their horsemen and chariots; whilst
the Roman cavalry, falling on the confused mass, completed the rout. The
plain soon became one wide scene of carnage; 10,000 Caledonians perished;
whilst their enemy lost only 360 men. The victors passed the night in
drunkenness and pillage, whilst the vanquished, men and women, wandered
about the country, yielding to despair. In their rage they destroyed
their habitations, to prevent them from being plundered by the Romans.

Agricola rendered an account of his victory to the emperor, in terms
remarkable for their modesty and simplicity. The jealous Domitian
received his letter with apparent joy, but secret wrath: with his usual
cunning, however, he dissembled his real sentiments till time had
weakened the enthusiasm of the people and the favour of the army for
the man he hated. Gradually a report gained ground that the victorious
general was to be recalled from the scene of his triumphs, to take the
command in Syria, and Domitian demanded for him the honours of a triumph.
The victor dared not, however, present himself to the acclamations of
the people, for fear of exciting the jealousy of his imperial master. He
entered Rome privately, and by night, and presented himself before the
tyrant, who received him coldly and in silence. He soon became confounded
with the crowd of courtiers, and only escaped from the peril of his glory
by appearing himself to forget it.

Little is known of the state of Britain from Domitian to Hadrian, when
many of the nations who had been subject to the yoke of Rome began to
show signs of impatience, and all the cares of the new emperor were to
confirm the peace of the world. He re-established the system of Augustus,
abandoned the conquests of Trajan, and limited the empire in the east
to the Euphrates. He visited the provinces, and arrived at last in
Britain, where he corrected many abuses, and built, in order to repress
the incursions of the Caledonians, the celebrated wall (a description
of which will be found in the following chapter) which bore his name.
It extended upwards of eighty miles, from the north of the Tyne to the
Solway (A.D. 120). Rome thus abandoned without a struggle the country
included between the wall of Hadrian and that of Agricola, an extent of
about 100 miles; a portion of it, however, was regained under Antoninus
Pius, the adopted son and successor of Hadrian, in 139, when a rampart
was constructed between the Forth and the Clyde; it was subsequently
strengthened by the Emperor Severus, in 208, and hence is generally
called by his name.

During the third century the empire was agitated by numerous competitions
for the purple, but it was somewhat appeased on the accession of
Diocletian. The legions in Britain now adopted the practice of setting
up emperors of their own. One of them, Carausius, reigned from 287 to
294, and was only got rid of by assassination. The murderer, Allectus,
attempted to succeed him, and maintained himself in the island till
defeated by Constantius, who was created a sub-emperor, with the title of
Cæsar; thus Britain was once more united to the empire. The victor made
himself loved by the Britons, by his equitable and wise administration,
and continued to reside amongst them till the abdication of Diocletian.
At his death, which occurred in York in 306, he recommended to the army,
who were devoted to him, his son, the celebrated Constantine, who was
immediately saluted emperor and Augustus. He was beloved by the Britons,
being the son of a British mother, the "fair Helena of York."

Constantine was a Christian, but, before his accession, had been
compelled to execute the imperial commands against the followers of
that faith. Many of the Romans, who had received the new religion,
and fled from the persecutions of Claudius and Nero, found refuge in
Britain, where the imperial edicts were less rigorously obeyed, till the
persecution of Diocletian, when the churches throughout the empire were
ordered to be closed, and the refusal of the new sect to offer sacrifice
to the gods of Rome was punished with death. Much as Constantine
condemned, he dared not annul the impious mandate he had received.
Ascending his tribunal, before which the principal officers of his army
and household had been summoned, he read aloud the edict, and added
that those who professed the new faith must decide on abandoning either
their faith or their employments. Many, doubtless, chose the former
alternative; since we are told that the prince, in great indignation,
dismissed the apostates from his service, observing that it was
impossible for him to trust those who had denied their convictions. His
lieutenants, however, were less scrupulous, and Christian blood was shed
to maintain the State religion of the empire. Alban, the protomartyr,
as the latter designation implies, was the first who suffered; and the
names of Julius and Aaron, citizens of Caerleon, upon the Usk, have
also been handed down to posterity as two of the earliest victims. But
on the accession of Constantine to the throne, religious toleration was
restored throughout the empire. Christianity now made rapid progress
in the island. A hierarchy became established, and at the Council of
Arles, in 314, three English bishops assisted--those of York, London, and

After the death of Constantine the Caledonians disappear and are replaced
by the Picts. There is every reason to believe, however, that these are
only two names for the same race, the Picts (_picti_) being the "painted"
or "tattooed" men. The Scots, another race of northern invaders, were
of different origin: they originally came over from Ireland, where
they inhabited the eastern coasts, settled in the neighbourhood of Loch
Lomond, and made an alliance with the nearest tribes, for the purpose
of ravaging the possessions of the Britons. Both these peoples were
of Celtic origin, and the Scots, or Milesians (from Lat. _miles_, a
soldier), were the dominant race in Ireland. Other plunderers also
attacked the weakened empire, of whom the most important were the Saxons,
of whom we shall read more later on.

They were severely chastised by Theodosius, who visited Britain in 343.
He succeeded in expelling them from the Roman provinces and driving them
back to their wild retreats.

Maximus, who afterwards assumed the title of Augustus, while in Britain,
carried on the war against the Picts and Scots with unrelenting severity;
his ambition, however, led him to attempt the conquest of the whole
western empire, in which he failed, and was beheaded at Aquileia.
His army, comprising a large majority of Britons, never returned to
their native country, which consequently was left in a great measure
defenceless. So favourable an opportunity did not escape the vigilance
of the Picts and Scots, who made successive inroads in the island, and
returned to their mountain fastnesses laden with plunder.

The power of Rome was now shaken by the irruption of barbarians of
various denominations, who, issuing from the east and north, depopulated
her fairest provinces. Assailed at so many points at once, it seemed as
if the nations of the earth had been let loose to uproot her supremacy,
and break the shackles which for so many ages had fettered the greater
part of the world. The Goths, led by Alaric, crossing the Julian Alps,
swept like a torrent over the fertile plains of Italy. Other German
tribes devastated Gaul, and the Roman legions in Britain, deprived of all
communication with the Emperor Honorius, fell back upon their custom of
electing an emperor for themselves.

The first whom they selected for the purple was Marcus, whom his
soldiers, very soon after elevating him to the imperial dignity, put to
death; after him came an adventurer named Constantine, who paid for his
short-lived dignity with his life. A third usurper arose in Gerontius.

[Illustration: ROMAN SOLDIERS LEAVING BRITAIN. (_See p._ 18.)]

When the Emperor Honorius heard of this revolution, he wrote to the
states of Britain, to say that they must provide for their safety, and
govern themselves; by which concession the rule of Rome in the island
was looked on as at an end. The Britons, in despair, rose and drove out
their civil governors. About 367 years after the landing of Plautius,
the evacuation of Britain was complete. No doubt to a large number of
the Imperial soldiers this withdrawal meant the severance of many tender
ties, and some of the leave-takings must have been painful enough.

How frequently do we read, in the history of the world, of a nation
urged by an irresistible, though unknown, impulse, to pursue the path of
conquest, not for their own advantage, but for the ultimate benefit of
the people whom they subject! Such was the result of the Roman invasion
of Britain, which proved neither profitable nor advantageous to the
conquerors. Appianus of Alexandria, who flourished A.D. 123, wrote a
history of all the nations which Rome had subdued, in twenty-four books.
In this work he says: "The Romans have penetrated into Britain, and
taken possession of the greater and better part of the island; but they
do not desire the rest, because that which they already possess is not
of the slightest benefit to them." The historian was right, for despite
the taxes, the produce of the mines, and the exportation of corn, the
island could never have been a source of great profit to the victors;
notwithstanding which, we trace them, urged by a resistless combination
of events, progressing step by step, till the greater part of the country
was subdued.

For nearly a century, the portion of Britain which had submitted to their
yoke formed but a single province; it was first separated into two during
the reign of the Emperor Severus. This division was afterwards extended
to five, the positions of which are not very accurately determined.

1st. _Flavia Cæsariensis_, which is thought to have consisted of the
western portion of the island.

2nd. _Britannia Prima_, the country between the Thames and the Humber.

3rd. _Britannia Secunda_, lying between the Severn and the sea, now known
by the name of Wales.

4th. _Maxima Cæsariensis_, lying to the north of the two preceding ones,
extending to the Wall of Hadrian, between the Tyne and the Solway.

5th. _Valentia_, comprising the lands from the Wall of Hadrian to the
Forth and Clyde.

Each of these provinces, before the period when anarchy set in, had a
separate ruler, subject to the governor-general of Britain, who was named
by the emperor under the title of vicar. He exercised all but sovereign
authority, and united in his hands both the military and judicial
power. Under him was a procurator, or quæstor, who levied the taxes,
and administered the revenues of the island. The principal sources of
revenue were a poll tax, a tax on funerals and inheritances, on slaves,
on all public sales, and an impost upon cattle and agricultural produce.
The tax upon cattle, which was called _scriptura_, from the collectors
visiting the pastures and writing down lists of the number and kind which
each estate nourished, was particularly oppressive to the Britons, and
one of the most frequent causes of revolt. In addition to these burdens,
the Romans levied imposts upon merchandise, either imported or exported,
which formed a considerable item in their revenue, the commerce between
the empire and Britain having been greatly extended. Agriculture also
made immense progress in the island, in which cities of considerable
importance were built. Of these the most important, in a commercial point
of view, were Clausentum and London. In the second century, Britain
contained upwards of a hundred cities; the principal were London,
Colchester, Bath, Gloucester, York, Chester, Lincoln, and Chesterfield;
most of them were built upon lands which the emperors had bestowed upon
the veterans of those legions whose descendants formed the greater part
of the population. The larger cities, about ten in number, enjoyed the
_jus Latii_, which conferred, amongst other privileges, the right of
electing their magistrates. The inferior ones, called stipendiaries, paid
tribute to the emperor, and were governed by officers under the authority
of the prefect. It is extremely improbable, however, that any real
amalgamation of the two races ever took place, or that Roman civilisation
left any permanent effects upon the British character. The Romans were in
fact, from first to last, an army of occupation among a hostile people.



Two Varieties of Masonry--Dover Castle--Richborough
Castle--Newport Gate, Lincoln--Hadrian's Wall--Its Direction and
Construction--Outworks--Ornamental Detail--Roman Roads and Camps.

The remains of Roman architecture in Britain, though numerous, do not
exhibit any perfect buildings, and the workmanship in general is not
equal to that of the Continental remains. The buildings seem to have
been inferior and of smaller dimensions, and there is very little of
ornamental detail to be found, except the tesselated pavements, of
which many fine examples yet remain in the Roman villas which have been
discovered from time to time in various parts of the kingdom.

The principal places where Roman remains are now to be seen are Lincoln,
Dover Castle, St. Albans, Richborough Castle, Porchester, York,
Cirencester, Leicester, and Colchester. But in all these there is little
ornamentation or detail left, the remains consisting chiefly of plain
walls, the masonry of which has peculiarities of character which mark
its date. Of the masonry there are two principal varieties; the first,
and that which is most readily recognised, consists of alternate layers
or bands of pebbles, or small stones embedded in mortar, and tiles or
flat stones. These bands consisted of three or four courses of tiles
or stones laid through the wall, and were placed at two or three feet
from each other, the intermediate spaces being raised with a sort of
cement composed of mortar and pebbles, or sometimes rag-stones, or such
materials as the country afforded. In this manner are built the Mint
wall at Lincoln, the Jewry wall at Leicester, and the walls at Verulam
(St. Albans), Porchester, Richborough, York, Pevensey, Chesterford,
Colchester, Wroxeter, and Silchester.

The other variety consists of walls formed of square stones or ashlar, as
the Roman wall in Northumberland. These are sometimes very large, as in
the north gate (or Newport gate), Lincoln. Smaller kinds of ashlar, of
almost cubical blocks, occur in the multangular tower and other buildings
at York. The mortar used in all these walls is in general mixed with
pounded brick.

It will not be necessary here to go into a description of all these
buildings, but a few of the most remarkable may be mentioned; one of
the most curious and interesting of these is the Pharos in the Castle
of Dover, though it has undergone much alteration, particularly in the
fifteenth century. "Wherever the outer casing is worn away, or has been
removed by violence, the walls exhibit the usual mode of Roman building
with the material of the districts; in this case with tufa or stalactite,
brought perhaps from the opposite coast of France, and flint, with layers
of large flat Roman bricks, some of them two feet long, each layer two
courses deep, placed regularly and horizontally in the walls at equal
intervals, or nearly so. No less than eight of these layers of brickwork
are visible on the south-east side; other layers are apparently concealed
by the external and subsequent casing of flint and stone, and where the
casing of flint is perfect, quoins of stone appear at the angles. This
tower is externally octagonal in form; internally the space enclosed
forms a square. The doorway, recently blocked, is on the south side,
and the arch, turned and faced with a single row of large Roman bricks,
springs from a kind of rude impost moulding, somewhat resembling that
of the Roman gateway at Lincoln; but this is not now visible. In the
interior, the constructive features of the original Roman work were,
before the entrance was closed up, far more visible and perfect than on
the exterior, and the facing of the bricks was quite smooth; yet the
effect of the alterations is here also plainly apparent, and the original
windows, the arches of which are turned with Roman brick, have been
filled up with flint masonry. Both the external as well as the internal
facings of the entrance doorway on the south side were, a few years back,
when the interior could be readily examined, far from perfect. Over
this doorway were two windows, one above the other, each arched with
brickwork. On the east side of the tower is a rather lofty arch faced
with stone, the soffit of which, however, appears to have been turned
with brick; this probably communicated with some building adjoining. Over
this arch is a window now blocked up."

Richborough Castle, in Kent, is another of the most important of the
Roman remains in England. It is a large parallelogram, including within
it an area of five acres. The walls to the height of six feet are more
than eleven feet thick, and above that ten feet eight inches; and the
masonry is thus described by the Rev. C. H. Hartshorne:--"At Richborough,
commencing at the ground, there are on the north side, where the masonry
is displayed in its most perfect state, first of all, four courses of
flint in their natural form, then three courses dressed; to these succeed
two courses of binding tile, and then they rise above each other in the
following order: seven courses of ashlar and two of tile; seven courses
of ashlar and two of tile; seven courses of ashlar and two of tile;
again, seven courses of ashlar and two of tile; eight courses of ashlar
and two of tile; nine courses of ashlar. The extreme height of this wall
is twenty-three feet two inches, and its thickness ten feet eight inches."


One of the most perfect and most interesting of Roman remains is the
archway at Lincoln, called Newport Gate, and styled by Dr. Stukely "the
noblest remnant of this sort in Britain." It was the north gate of
the Roman city of Lindum, and from it a military way, called the High
Street, leading to Winteringham, on the Humber, may now be traced. This
still forms the principal entrance into the city from the north. It is
supposed to have had a large central arch, and two smaller ones at the
sides, that on the west having been destroyed, the larger being about
fifteen feet, and the lesser ones seven feet in width. It is built of
squared stone, out as far as the top of the arch, of remarkably large
size. It is without ornament of any kind, but is said by Rickman to have
had architrave and impost mouldings. That of the architrave, if it ever
existed, has entirely disappeared; but there is, or was lately, a small
portion of the impost moulding remaining, on the west side of the large
arch. The masonry, which exhibits none of the usual binds of tiles so
frequent in other buildings, will be best understood by reference to the
engraving on page 21.

There is another piece of Roman work in the neighbourhood of Newport
Gate, which is a piece of wall built with ashlar and binding courses of
tile. It is known as the Mint Wall.

But perhaps the most interesting of all the Roman remains in Britain
is the Roman Wall, which reaches across the narrow part of the island
in Northumberland and Cumberland, commencing at Wallsend, on the Tyne,
running through Newcastle and Carlisle, and terminating at Bowness, in
Cumberland. A most interesting and fully illustrated account of this wall
has been given to the world by the Rev. J. Collingwood Bruce, from whose
work we have (by permission) copied the two illustrations on p. 22.

[Illustration: NEWPORT GATE, LINCOLN. (_From a Photograph by Skill,

Arguments have been brought forward by some antiquaries to show that the
wall and the vallum by which it is accompanied belong to two different
periods; but Dr. Bruce contends that they are both to be considered
as forming part of the great engineering work of Hadrian. It consists
of a stone wall, or _murus_, and a wall of earth, or _vallum_. These
two run always near together, but not always parallel. The vallum is
likewise rather the shorter, terminating at Newcastle on the east, and at
Drumburgh, about three miles from Bowness, the western extremity of the

"The most striking feature in the plan, both of the murus and the vallum,
is the determinate manner in which they pursue their straightforward
course. The vallum makes fewer deviations from a right line than the
stone wall; but as the wall traverses higher ground, this remarkable
tendency is more easily detected in it than in the other. Shooting over
the country, in its onward course, it only swerves from a straight line
to take in its route the boldest elevations. So far from declining a
hill, it uniformly selects one.

"For nineteen miles out of Newcastle the road to Carlisle runs upon the
foundations of the wall, and during the summer months its dusty surface
contrasts well with the surrounding verdure. Often will the traveller,
after attaining some of the steep acclivities of his path, observe the
road stretching for miles in an undeviating course to the east and the
west of him, resembling, as Hutton expresses it, a white ribbon on a
green ground. But if it never moves from a right line, except to occupy
the highest points, it never fails to seize them as they occur, no matter
how often it is compelled, with this view, to change its direction. It
never bends in a curve, but always at an angle. Hence, along the craggy
precipices between Sewingshields and Thirlwall, it is obliged to pursue
a remarkably zigzag course; for it takes in its range, with the utmost
pertinacity, every projecting rock."


Though no part of the wall now retains its full height, it has been
calculated that when entire it was about eighteen or nineteen feet,
including the parapet. Its general thickness is about eight feet, though
it varies in different parts from six feet to ten and a half feet. It is
"throughout the whole of its length accompanied on its northern margin by
a broad and deep fosse, which, by increasing the comparative height of
the wall, added greatly to its strength. This portion of the barrier may
yet be traced, with trifling interruptions, from sea to sea."


The masonry of the wall is somewhat peculiar; it has none of the binding
courses of tile which are, in many parts of England and on the Continent,
so characteristic of Roman work. No tiles are used in the construction.
The outer face of the wall on both sides is formed of squared blocks of
stone, usually called ashlar, and the interior of rubble, embedded in
mortar. These blocks are about eight or nine inches thick, and ten or
eleven wide; their length is considerably more, sometimes as much as
twenty-two inches, and tapering to the opposite end, which was firmly
bedded into the rubble. The whole rested on a course of large foundation

On or near the wall were placed, at tolerably regular intervals,
stationary camps, or "stations," about seventeen or eighteen in number;
and at still shorter intervals, that is, about a Roman mile from each
other, were placed smaller towers, called, from this circumstance, "mile
castles." These are in general placed against the south side of the wall,
and had mostly only one entrance, which was from the south; but in the
most perfect of those at Gawfields there are two entrances, one on the
south, and another through the main wall on the north.


More of ornamental detail seems to have been bestowed on the architecture
of these stations and mile castles than on the wall, which was intended
for defence. The walls have moulded basements and cornices, of which
there are woodcuts on this page and the next; the one from Vendalana
(Chesterholm) exhibits also the peculiar ornamentation of the surface of
the stone work, which is produced by cutting lines in various directions,
either lozenge-wise or parallel, horizontal, upright, oblique, or
zigzag-wise, thus producing considerable variety. In the extremely
interesting Saxon crypt at Hexham, which was built out of the ruins of
the Roman Wall, many varieties of this peculiar tooling, or "broaching,"
occur, along with ornamental mouldings, &c., and inscribed slabs, one
of which has been cut to form the semicircular head of a doorway. The
beautiful fragment of a capital also given was found in the station of
Cilurnum (now Walwick Chesters). It has probably belonged to the portico
of a temple. It appears to be a late variety of Corinthian or composite.
It serves to show that there must have been considerable expense bestowed
on these stations, which were, in fact, military cities, in which the
commanders resided. The doorway from the station of Bird-Oswald is
valuable as showing a peculiar form of door-head, cut out of a solid
stone. It forms the entrance to the guard-chamber from the gateway of
the station.



The Roman altars, sculptured fragments, inscribed stones, coins,
implements of war, articles of personal ornament, and utensils for
domestic use, which have been found along the line of the wall, are
extremely numerous. But far more striking memorials of Agricola and
his great successors in Britain are the Roman roads. Easy means of
communication were, of course, a necessity for the Romans, dwelling,
as they did, as a military garrison among a people notorious for their
propensity to break into wild rebellion at a moment's notice; and hence
the country was traversed by a complete system of roads leading from
station to station. The method of their construction varied, but they
were invariably raised above the surface of the country, and ran in an
almost straight line regardless of hill and valley. The more important
roads were very elaborately constructed with a foundation of hard earth,
a bed of large stones, sometimes two more layers of stones and mortar,
and above all the causeway paved with stones. The four most important
roads were Watling Street, the Foss, Icknield Street, and Ermine Street.
Of these, Watling Street ran from London to Wroxeter (Uriconium), and
thence was continued into Wales, while part of the same system connected
London with Dover. The Foss ran from the sea-coast, at Seaton in
Devonshire, to Lincoln, with a continuation known as the High Street to
the Humber. The Icknield way started from near Bury and ran to Wantage,
and thence to Cirencester and Gloucester. Ermine Street ran through the
Fens from London to Lincoln. These by no means exhaust the Roman roads,
traces of which are to be found in almost every neighbourhood of England,
but they are the "four Roman roads" so frequently mentioned in the
legislation of the Middle Ages.



Equally numerous are the remains of Roman camps, constructed with great
engineering skill. Even when it was necessary to remain stationary for
a very brief period, the Romans were accustomed to surround the space
to be occupied by the soldiers' tents by an earthen rampart with stakes
at the top (_agger_ or _vallum_), which was in turn surrounded by a
fosse or trench (_fossa_), usually nine feet deep and twelve broad. The
spot selected was always one that commended itself from its defensive
capacities, and therefore could not be overlooked, and had a command of
water. The streets were sometimes as much as a hundred feet broad, with
a public meeting-place or _forum_ near the general's tent, which was
usually pitched on the highest ground. There was a vacant space of two
hundred feet between the tents and the ramparts called the _intervallum_.
The shape of the camp in later times varied according to the nature of
the ground, although in the days of the Roman republic it was as a rule
rectangular. Of these temporary camps the most perfect is that situated
near Kirkboddo, five miles to the south-east of Forfar. It was probably
constructed by Agricola; all its six gates exist, and the entrenchment,
even now, seems to have lost but little of its original height. It
is about two thousand two hundred and eighty feet in length, and one
thousand and eighty in breadth; and, apparently because it was necessary
to find lodging for more men than the camp was originally intended to
hold, there is a _procestrium_ or enclosure without the south-east angle
of about one hundred thousand square feet. Permanent camps, which were
smaller than the temporary camps, soon lost their original features and
grew into towns.

The establishment of an infirmary (_valetudinarium_), a farriery
(_veterinarium_), and a forge (_fabrica_) within the rampart were quickly
followed by the settlement of a civilian population, and the birth
of trades and industries. In many of the English towns, which by the
termination _cester_ or _chester_ or the prefix _caer_ betray their Roman
origin, hardly a trace of the original Roman camp is to be found, but
during the period of the Roman occupation of Britain the military element
in them was probably in the ascendant.

[Illustration: ROMAN URNS FOUND IN ENGLAND. (_From the British Museum._)

1. Urn of yellow pottery--height, 12½ in.; greatest diameter, 13
in. 2. Urn of grey pottery found at Colchester--11½ x 9. 3. Urn of
red and grey pottery, found at Littleton Farm--13 x 12. 4. Urn of grey
pottery, found in Huntingdonshire--height, 11½ in.; width at mouth
4¾ in. 5. Urn of yellow pottery, found in the Lea--height, 10½;
greatest diameter, 10.]

[Illustration: GLASTONBURY ABBEY. (_See p._ 31.)]



     The Jutes, Angles, and Saxons--Their Village Communities--Larger
     Combinations, Gradations of Rank--Morality and Religion--Hengist
     and Horsa found the Kingdom of Kent--The Kingdoms of
     Sussex, Wessex and Essex--The Anglian Kingdoms--Mercia--The
     Welsh--Gregory and St. Augustine--Augustine and Kent--Conversion
     of Northumbria--England becomes Christian--The Greatness of
     Mercia--King Offa.

After the departure of the Romans, the Britons were left to contend as
best they could against the hordes of invaders who pressed upon them from
the north, and on the eastern coast from overseas. The Saxons reappeared,
and were accompanied by the kindred nations known as the Jutes and
Angles. It is from this last nation that England takes her name, the land
of the Angles, or English, and we shall soon cease to talk of Britain.

The Angles, Jutes, and Saxons formed a confederacy of tribes dwelling
at the mouth of the Elbe, in the district known now-a-days as
Schleswig-Holstein. They were of German race, so that the well-known
description of that country and people given by Tacitus in the _Germania_
applies to them, and is, moreover, confirmed in a remarkable way by
what we know of their institutions and customs after they had conquered
Britain. Perhaps the most striking feature of the society of our
forefathers is that they had no towns. They dwelt in village communities,
as the rural inhabitants of India do at the present day, and we are
able from other sources to form a very exact idea of the way in which
these communities were constituted. The land belonged to the whole of
the little society, and the district occupied by it was known as the
Mark. In the centre was the village. Beyond the village lay the arable
land, in which each member of the village had a share, but this he could
only cultivate in the same way as his neighbours. These shares were
frequently redistributed, so that no man might permanently hold a more
fertile portion than his neighbour, and the right to leave property by
will was strictly limited. The head man of the village was elected by the
community. Beyond the village came the common pasture land, into which
the cattle of the community were turned to feed as they pleased; and
farther still came the waste or belt of woodland or moor which separated
one village from the next.

The village, called the _vicus_ by Tacitus, was the administrative unit;
but, for purposes of common defence, a neighbourhood of villages was
combined into a district, or _pagus_, corresponding to what, after the
English had settled in Britain, was known as the _hundred_, that is,
the territory occupied by a hundred heads of families. Its chief is
called by Tacitus the _princeps_, who is known in later times as the
_alderman_, that is, the "older," and therefore more reverenced, man. A
union of _pagi_ formed a tribe, but our forefathers had not yet advanced
to the formation of a nation. In war the hosts were led by generals,
called _duces_ by Tacitus, and probably elected by the _principes_ of
the different districts. The confederacy had as yet no kings; kingship
was the result of the conquest of the foreign country of Britain, the
victorious general deriving an immense accession of authority from the
vast quantities of land which fell to his disposal.

Free as were their institutions, our forefathers recognised nevertheless
gradations of rank. There was the _eorl_ (earl), or man of noble birth.
Then came the _ceorl_, or churl, a term which has now become one of
contempt, but which then signified the freeman who was entitled to his
share of the common land. Lowest in the social scale came the _laet_,
or landless man, who cultivated the soil for his lord. It is improbable
that slavery existed to any considerable extent before the conquest of
Britain, when the conquered, if not exterminated, sank into a position to
which death must have been preferable. Every man above the rank of _laet_
was free in theory; but the origins of dependent relationship are seen
in the institution called by Tacitus the Comitatus, and by the English
the _Gefolge_ or _Gesith_. This was the bodyguard of the _princeps_, who
fought round him in battle, and over whose interests he watched, probably
rewarding them with grants of land whenever a permanent conquest or
occupation was effected.

The morality of the Germans is said by Tacitus to have been very high.
"They are almost the only barbarians who are content with one wife; there
being, however, a few exceptions among them who contract more than one
marriage, not from motives of passion, but on account of their nobility
of birth." "Good customs," he says in another place, "are of greater
influence there than good laws elsewhere;" and much respect was paid to
women. Justice was rude, as might be expected, every man being his own
avenger; but, even in the earliest times, murder might be atoned for by
the payment of a money fine called by the English the _wergild_, which
was graduated according to the rank of the person slain.

Our ancestors were heathens, and worshipped gods whose names are
preserved in some of the days of the week. _Woden_, the god of wars, has
given his name to Wednesday; _Thor_, the god of thunder, to Thursday;
_Friga_, the goddess (and wife of Odin), to Friday. Tuesday is called
after _Tew_, the god of night; the attributes of _Sætern_, after whom
Saturday is named, are not clearly known. Sunday and Monday are the days,
of course, of the sun and moon. Another deity of our forefathers is
perpetuated in Easter, the day of _Eostre_, the deity of the dawn. Our
ancestors believed in a future abode called the Walhalla, where the brave
warrior, after death, would sit at the feast, quaffing from the skulls of
his slaughtered enemies.

Of the conquest of Britain by the Angles and the other members of the
confederacy, little can be asserted as proven, for our chief authority,
the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," was not written until more than two hundred
years later. The familiar story is that in the year 449, the chiefs
of Britain were holding a council as to the most efficient means of
repelling the invasion of the Picts and Scots, when intelligence was
brought of the landing of a body of Jutish pirates under Hengist and
Horsa, on the neighbouring coasts. Vortigern, one of the most powerful
princes, proposed that the strangers should be invited to assist them
against the common enemy, which proposal was adopted. In consequence of
this arrangement, a negotiation with the strangers was entered into; the
Jutes were promised money and supplies in exchange for their swords and
arms. The offers were acceded to, and the Picts and Scots driven back
to their own country. Although the Jutes were far from being numerous,
Vortigern became anxious to secure their services for the future, and
a treaty was accordingly concluded between him and the two brothers,
Hengist and Horsa, by which the latter bound themselves to return with
a much larger number of their countrymen, on condition of receiving a
tract of land and subsidies of various kinds. The island of Thanet was
devoted to them for their abode. Faithful to their promise, the allies
returned with considerable reinforcements, and landed on the coast of
Kent. For some time the Jutes remained faithful to their engagement;
but becoming tired of fighting for others, their pride increased with
their success, and they demanded a large increase of territory, which
was indignantly refused. That which they could not obtain by concession
they resolved to gain by conquest, to which end they treacherously
entered into an alliance with the Picts and Scots, whom they had hitherto
combated. This fatal treaty made the Britons comprehend at last the error
they had fallen into. Instead of allies, they had made for themselves
masters. Indignation at the treachery, however, did not permit them at
once to succumb; the struggle was a fierce and protracted one. Several
British chiefs immortalised themselves in the battle which was fought
at Aylesford by deeds worthy of the heroic age; amongst others the son
of Vortigern, who, being pressed in battle, tore up a young tree by its
roots, with which he killed Horsa, and the Jutes were put to flight. It
is evident that the writer of the "Chronicle" imagines that the Britons
obtained several victories, for Hengist and the rest of his companions
re-embarked, and for five years the island was free from their presence.
The Jutes once more returned under the leadership of the surviving
brother, Hengist, in formidable numbers, and soon afterwards gained the
battle of Crayford, the result of which was the cession of the greater
part of Kent to the conquerors in 473. Eight years later they obtained a
second victory, which assured Hengist in his new possessions, from that
date called the kingdom of East Kent, to which was afterwards added West
Kent and the Isle of Wight.

Twenty-eight years after the first landing of the Jutes, Ælla, a chief of
Saxon race, who boasted himself the descendant of Odin, arrived with his
three sons in the same number of vessels, on the coast of Kent, and took
the old Roman fortress of Anderida (Pevensey). He eventually founded the
kingdom of Sussex.

The third kingdom founded by the invaders was that of Wessex, which in
time became the mightiest of them all. This, too, was created by Saxons,
who, settling to the west of the people of Sussex (South-Saxons), called
themselves West-Saxons. It began by an invasion of what is now Hampshire
by Cerdic and his son Cymric in 495, who, like the other victorious
chiefs, soon assumed the title of king. From them are descended the
royal family of the present day. They gradually conquered the country
up to the Severn, and as far as the limits of what are now called
Oxfordshire and Berkshire. From the Britons, or _Welsh_ as they called
them, "the speakers," that is, "of a strange tongue," they met a vigorous
resistance, and the war was doubtless carried on with hideous ferocity.
From the few Welsh words in the English language it is clear that little
or no admixture of races took place. The men were exterminated or driven
into the mountains; the women were probably kept as slaves. The hero
of the Welsh resistance in the west was the famous Arthur, whom legend
has so entirely taken for her own that very little positively can be
asserted about him. It is certain, however, that he won a great battle
over the Saxons at Mons Badonicus, identified by Professor Freeman with
Badbury in Dorsetshire. Ceawlin, however, the grandson of Cerdic, rallied
the Saxons, and after a long and protracted struggle, the resistance of
the Welsh was broken for the time being in 577 by the great victory of
Deorham, near Gloucester.

The third Saxon kingdom was that of Essex (the East Saxons), which
included the greater part of Middlesex, and with it London. No record,
however, remains to tell us of the exact process or time of this invasion.

The greater part of England and Scotland was, however, possessed by
the Angles; but of these migrations we know far less than those of the
Jutes and Saxons. East Anglia is said to have been founded in the fourth
century by a chief named Uffa, and there were two settlements formed,
Norfolk and Suffolk (the folk of the north and south).


Northumbria was also an Anglian settlement, with an admixture of
Frisians, on the banks of the Forth. We know little, however, of the
manner in which the two great divisions grew up--Bernicia, including
the whole of the country from the Forth to the Tees, with Edinburgh
as its capital; and Deira, founded by Ida in 547, answering, roughly
speaking, to Yorkshire, with York as its chief town. These two kingdoms
were sometimes united under one king; sometimes separate. The first king
over all Northumbria was Ethelfrith (600). It is important to notice
that the Lowland Scots are as purely English as the people of London;
and, curiously enough, we are in ignorance of the date when the present
boundary line between the two kingdoms became in any way fixed. The
separation probably did not occur before the time of Canute the Dane.

The last of the English kingdoms to be formed was that of Mercia,
the march or border-land. It probably owed its origin to the gradual
combination of a number of smaller kingdoms, and extended over the
greater part of the midlands.

Thus was founded what is sometimes called the Heptarchy; but wrongly so:
in the first place, because the word does not mean "seven kingdoms," but
"the rule of seven persons;" and in the second, because the number of
kingdoms in England was never fixed, but was sometimes fewer than seven,
sometimes more. It will be noticed that the Britons, or Welsh, still had
possession of an unbroken territory, extending over the whole of the west
of England and Scotland. It included Devon, Cornwall, and the greater
part of Somerset, the whole of the country west of the Severn, part of
Chester, Lancashire, Westmoreland, and Cumberland, and the whole of the
south-west of Scotland, which was called the kingdom of Strathclyde. The
Celtic inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands were also unsubdued; and for
many years the English fought against the Welsh and between themselves.

The first of the Anglo-Saxon or English kingdoms (to give them the
more generally accepted title) to acquire a definite superiority was
that of Kent; but it soon gave way to the rising power of Northumbria.
Nevertheless, the period of Kentish ascendency is one of great
importance, for it witnessed the conversion of England to Christianity.
Ethelbert, who reigned from 560 to 616, was the first prominent English
king after the various sovereignties had taken shape and consistency. He
married a Christian princess, Bertha, the daughter of Charibert, king of
the Franks. But although she was allowed to exercise her religion, it
does not appear that the new faith made any sensible progress until, in
the year 597, Pope Gregory the Great determined to send a monk, named
Augustine, to preach the Gospel in the land of the heathen English. The
beautiful story of the means by which Gregory's attention was called to
this distant land is well known. Before he became Pope, it chanced one
day that he was walking in the market-place at Rome and saw some fair
boys exposed for sale as slaves. His curiosity aroused, he asked of what
nation they came. "They are _Angles_," was the reply. "_Non Angli sed
Angeli_" ("They are not Angles, but angels"), said Gregory, "and should
be the co-heirs of the angels in heaven. But of what tribe are they?"
"Of Deira." "Then must they be delivered _de ira Dei_ (from the wrath
of God). And who is their king?" "Ella," was the answer. "Then," said
Gregory, "shall _Alleluia_ be sung in his land."

When Gregory became Pope he was not long in making good the promise, as
far as in him lay.

Augustine's task was easy; Ethelbert permitted him and his comrades to
dwell at Canterbury and preach to the people. After a while he went back
to the Continent to be consecrated bishop; and on his return, made the
church at Canterbury the cathedral of his diocese, whence Canterbury is
still the metropolitan see of all England. Although Christianity had been
exterminated by the invaders, its dying embers were rekindled among the
Welsh by missionaries from the Continent, and an attempt was now made
to agree upon a basis of union for the two churches. For this purpose a
meeting was arranged between Augustine and the Welsh bishops at a spot
on the banks of the Severn, and a conference was held. But although the
points of difference were slight, neither side would yield; and so the
two churches remained separate.

The greatness of Kent did not endure long after the landing of Augustine,
for in 616 Ethelbert, who had been over-king of the whole of England as
far north as the Humber, died; and his son Eadbald proved an inferior
ruler, and even relapsed into paganism. It was to the north that the
balance of power now inclined, where Edwin of Deira became King of
Northumbria, having overthrown his rival, Ethelfrith of Bernicia, in
a great battle, on the banks of the Idle (617). His marriage with
Ethelberga, the daughter of Ethelbert of Kent, led to the conversion
of Northumbria to Christianity. She brought with her a priest named
Paulinus, and he rapidly succeeded in persuading the people to adopt
Christianity. The story of the king taking counsel with his aldermen and
wise men concerning the new faith which was preached in their midst, and
the fine speech made by one of the thegns, in which he compared the life
of man to the flight of a sparrow from the darkness into a warm room at
wintertime, and thence out into the darkness and storm again, is told us
by Bede in his _Ecclesiastical History of the Nation of the English_.
"So it is," said the noble, "with the life of man; it endures but for a
moment, and we know not at all of what goeth before it and what cometh
after it. Therefore, if these strangers can tell us anything that we may
know whence a man cometh, and whither he goeth, let us hear them and
follow their law." So Northumbria became Christian for the time being,
and a church was built at York with Paulinus as its bishop. But in 633
Edwin was defeated and slain at Heathfield by the King of the Welsh,
and Penda the heathen king of Mercia, and the country relapsed for a
time into heathendom, until Oswald, Edwin's nephew, known as St. Oswald,
brought St. Aidan, a Scottish bishop, to Northumbria, and founded the see
of Lindisfarne, in Holy Island, off the Northumbrian coast. There the
holy St. Cuthbert lived, until his death in 687, and, going forth over
all Northumbria, converted vast numbers of men and women.

Concerning the conversion of the remaining kingdoms, we know
comparatively little. Mercia became Christian on the death of Penda, who
was overthrown by Oswy of Northumbria, in 655, at the battle of Winwood.
Wessex was converted by a bishop called Birinus, who was sent from Rome
by Pope Honorius; and though the first bishopric was fixed at Dorchester,
in Oxfordshire, the episcopal seat of Wessex was eventually fixed at
Winchester, and Dorchester became that of the Mercians. The last part
of England to become Christian was East Anglia, which was converted by
Wilfrith, who had been driven from Northumberland by King Egfrith, Oswy's
son and successor.

In less than a hundred years after the arrival of St. Augustine, England
became Christian, and the conversion had been in many cases accomplished
by missionaries from Rome. But many of the kingdoms also had been brought
to the new faith by bishops from Scotland; Mercia, for instance, and
Northumbria finally. These bishops came in many cases from the island of
Iona, and they did not acknowledge or follow the customs of the Church of
Rome. The great question as to which of the two rituals should prevail
was settled at a synod held at Whitby, when Northumbria adopted the Roman
use, and from that time ecclesiastical unity prevailed.

The organisation of the Church of England was effected by Theodore of
Tarsus, who was sent over to England as Archbishop of Canterbury in 668.
He proceeded to organise the various sees, usually following the limits
of the old English kingdoms; and though changes were occasionally made,
much of his work was permanent, and exists at the present day. So England
was one kingdom as far as its religious constitution was concerned, and
this unity led in turn, as we shall see, to a civil unity under the kings
of Wessex.

By the beginning of the eighth century it had become evident that the
struggle for supremacy would eventually be between Wessex and Mercia, for
Northumbria, a turbulent state, harassed by succession questions, had
already ceased to hold the pride of place. At first Mercia appeared to
have the advantage of the struggle. It soon recovered from the overthrow
of Penda, and from the years 716 to 819, with one or two intervals of
temporary prostration, it was extremely powerful. Ethelbald, the nephew
of Penda, reigned from 716 to 755, and built up a great power. Taking
advantage of the anarchy in Northumbria, and of the abdication of Ina of
Wessex, he subdued his neighbours in a series of successful wars, and
claimed to be king "not only of the Mercians, but of all the people who
are called by the common name of South-Angles." He was, however, in 754,
confronted by a general rebellion, and utterly defeated in a battle at

In the following year Ethelbald died, and after a year's anarchy
was succeeded by Offa. He was not only a great warrior, but a great
statesman, and combined a series of conquests with a series of judicious
marriage alliances, until he had almost succeeded in making himself king
over all England. His most glorious wars were those against the Welsh,
whom he drove back from the Severn to the Wye. He built a large dyke from
the mouth of the Wye to the mouth of the Dee to keep them back, called
Offa's dyke. Offa was reverenced on the Continent almost as much as in
England, and we even find him corresponding on terms of equality with
the Emperor Charles the Great, known to romance as Charlemagne. Offa was
a warm friend of the Church; he created a temporary archbishopric at
Lichfield as a rival to York and Canterbury, and founded the Abbey of St.
Albans. The power of Mercia, however, depended almost entirely on the
personal abilities of her kings, and ended with Cenwulf, who reigned from
796 to 815. After his death it speedily collapsed, partly owing to the
failure of the royal line, partly owing to the rising power of Wessex,
and partly also owing to devastating raids of the Danes, who had already
begun to make their appearance in Britain.



     Ceawlin and his Successors--Cedwalla--Ina--Subjection to
     Mercia--Accession of Egbert--He subdues his Rivals--His Wars with
     the Welsh and Danes--Land-owning System--Local Assemblies--The
     Hundred Moot--The Shire Moot and its Business--Methods of Trial
     and Punishments--The Wergild--The Witena-gemot--Its Powers--The
     King--Class Distinctions--The Church.

Hitherto the rise of the kingdom of Wessex has been left out of sight
in these pages; but as we are approaching the reign of the great king
Egbert, it is necessary to trace the steps by which a great power had
been slowly consolidated in the West under a series of able kings. We
have already mentioned Ceawlin, the third of the sovereigns of the West
Saxons. This prince greatly added to his authority and possessions.
Besides defeating the Welsh in numerous battles, and conquering a large
district north of the Thames, he seized upon the kingdom of Sussex after
the death of Cissa, defeated the King of Kent, and was suspected of
entertaining the ambitious project of reducing all England under his
sceptre. But his subjects, headed by his nephew, Ceolric, rose against
him, and met him in battle at Wodensbury. Being defeated, Ceawlin ended
his days in exile. This collapse lost to the kingdom of Wessex all the
country which had been annexed to the north of the Thames.

Ceolric, his nephew, succeeded him; he died in 597.

This last-named prince was followed by his brother, Ceolwulf, who
defeated the South Saxons, and died in 611.

Cynegils, the son of Ceolric, succeeded him, and divided the kingdom with
his brother Quicelm. The two last-named princes obtained a great victory
over the Britons in 614. Before the death of Quicelm, which took place
in 635, he became a Christian: after his decease the kingdom was again
united under Cynegils, also a Christian, who henceforth reigned alone.

Cenwealh, his son, had to carry on a succession of wars with the kings of
Mercia. Penda, whose sister he had divorced, drove him from his kingdom,
and he remained in exile several years, but was afterwards restored,
dying in 672. His widow, Sexburh, was chosen as his successor.

This princess reigned little more than a year, when she died. Some
historians say that she was deposed by her subjects, who disliked the
idea of being commanded by a woman.

Cedwalla became king in 688. During the life of his predecessor, who
was jealous of the affection which the people bore him, he had been
compelled to fly. He carried on severe contests with the kings of Kent.
He afterwards conquered the Isle of Wight; and would have rooted out all
the inhabitants, but for the remonstrances of Wilfrith, Bishop of Selsey.
In 688 he undertook a journey to Rome, to receive baptism at the hands
of the Pope; for although he was a Christian and a great zealot, he had
never been baptised. As he travelled through France and Lombardy, he was
everywhere very honourably received; and Cunibert, King of the Lombards,
was particularly remarkable for the noble entertainment he gave him.
When he came to Rome, he was baptised by Pope Sergius II., who gave him
the name of Peter. He had always expressed a wish to die soon after his
baptism, and his desire was gratified, for he died a few weeks after,
at Rome, and was buried at St. Peter's Church, where a stately tomb was
erected to his memory, with an epitaph showing his name, quality, age,
and time of his death. His two sons being too young to succeed him, his
cousin Ina mounted the throne.

Ina was a king of much ability, and reigned no less than thirty-eight
years, _i.e._ from 688 to 726. He was a man of war, a legislator, and a
saint. By arms he succeeded in reducing Kent, Sussex, and East Anglia
to obedience, and fought many battles against the Welsh, building the
fortress of Taunton to protect his new frontier. As a legislator he made
a collection of laws seventy-six in number, which is the earliest English
code still in existence with the exception of some fragments of a legal
system drawn up by the kings of Kent. His holiness was seen in his large
benefactions to the Church. Wessex was divided into two dioceses, the new
bishop being placed at Sherborne, in Dorsetshire; he founded and endowed,
moreover, several monasteries, and rebuilt the abbey of Glastonbury, the
burial place of the famous king Arthur. But towards the end of his reign
it did not fare well with Ina. In 714 he fought a great battle with the
Mercians, in which so many were slain on either side that the issue was
held to be doubtful, and this large loss of life perhaps was the cause of
his subsequent defeats by the Welsh. Moreover, the members of the royal
house proved rebellious, and their leader Aldbert was not defeated by
Ina until a wearying contest had been waged between the two parties. In
726, therefore, Ina, tired of the world, and wishing to provide for the
safety of his soul, resigned his kingdom, and went to Rome, where he was
received by Pope Gregory the Second, and ended his days as a common man.

p._ 29.)]

The abdication of Ina was not productive of good consequences to Wessex;
and for nineteen years, from 733 to 752, the country was subject, as
has already been mentioned, to the yoke of Mercia until, led by their
king Cuthred, the second in succession to Ina, the people won freedom at
the battle of Burford. This stage of the history of Wessex is not very
important, and closes in 802, when the great king Egbert ascended the

Egbert had laid claim to the throne on the death of Cynewulf, which took
place in 784, but without success. Bertric was elected. Fear of the
vengeance of his more successful rival caused him to take refuge at the
court of Offa of Mercia, but still pursued by the jealousy of Bertric he
eventually withdrew to the court of Charles the Great. A close friendship
arose between the two, and Egbert modelled his after-career on that of
his benefactor. On the death of Bertric he was elected in his absence by
the Witena-gemot, or assembly of the wise men, in due form, and reigned
until 836. At once he set himself to win a superiority over the island,
as Charles had established a dominion on the continent. In the cases
of the southern kingdoms his task was easy, and they submitted without
a blow; East Anglia being allowed to retain her line of sovereigns as
subordinate kings, Kent, Essex and Sussex being practically annexed to
Wessex. But with Mercia the task was not so easy. However, in 823 he
defeated the Mercians so completely at the great battle of Ellandune that
their subject kingdoms, the names and extent of which are not exactly
known, were at once annexed to Wessex; and four years later Mercia itself
owned his supremacy, the king becoming his subordinate. In the following
year Northumbria, torn to pieces by internal dissensions, submitted on
similar terms. He thus became ruler over all England, and is deservedly
honoured by the "Chronicle" with the title of Bretwalda, or "Wealder of
Britain," which is bestowed on some of his predecessors with far more
questionable propriety.

[Illustration: MEETING OF THE SHIRE-MOOT. (_See p._ 34.)]

Not only did Egbert set himself the task of mastering all the English;
but he determined to conquer territory from the Welsh as well. During the
greater part of the reign the struggle went on with varying fortunes,
the general result being that Devonshire became English, that after the
subjection of Mercia the whole of Wales proper submitted (828), but that
he failed to make any impression upon the Celtic peoples north of the
Dee. In 835, the year before he died, the West Welsh, or Cornish, rose
in arms, and were reinforced by the Danes, who now began to scourge the
English coasts. Egbert, however, won a victory over them at Hengestesdun.
At the time of his death this great king ruled over the whole country
south of the Forth, with the exception of Cornwall and the south-west of
Scotland and north-west corner of England. Evidently he must have been a
man of first-rate ability; but of his personal character and disposition
singularly little is known.

Before coming to the period when the Danish invasions (which, however,
had already begun) became a matter of annual occurrence, it may be
well to see what changes had been effected in the social system of our
ancestors since their migration from the banks of the Elbe.

The system of land-owning was much changed, and private property in land
became the rule rather than the exception. At first land was allotted
to each village, and every family had a portion, known as a _hide_, as
its share. The dimensions of the hide appear to have varied according to
locality; as a rule it comprised from thirty to forty acres, but in later
times it covered as much as a hundred and twenty. The remainder of the
land was theoretically public property, and hence was called _folkland_;
but it was in the hands of the king, who, with the assent of the
Witena-gemot, made grants of it from time to time to his thegns, or to the
great monasteries, when it was known as _bookland_, land that is granted
out on copyhold tenure--to use a modern legal equivalent, which is fairly
exact. _Ethel_, or _alod_, was land held by undisputed possession from
the first settlement, and which could be transmitted from father to son.
The owners of _Ethel_ had no title-deeds to show, but based their claim
to ownership on tradition. Later on, however, the distinction between
_Ethel_ and _bookland_ disappears, the owners of the former finding it a
safer course to get a charter for their property.

As to the administration of the English kingdoms, the important point to
notice is that it was not entirely in the hands of a central authority,
but each local community had its own affairs in its hands to a very
considerable extent. In viewing the social organism, it will be well to
start, as before, from the village community, whether in the form of
_vicus_ or rural township, _town_ or group of houses surrounded by a
quickset hedge or _tun_, and _borough_ the dwellings round the fortified
house (_burh_) of a great noble. In each of these there was a _moot_,
or local assembly, presided over by a magistrate or _reeve_, who was
at first elected by the general body of the inhabitants, but later on
appointed by the neighbouring nobility. So, too, the judicial functions
of these petty assemblies were rapidly taken from them, and cases were
tried instead at the manor-courts of the great lords.

A union of villages and towns formed the _hundred_, and to the court of
the hundred each township sent the reeve and four men. Cases which lay
outside their jurisdiction were sent up from the town-moots, but here,
too, the nobility began to encroach upon the rights of their weaker
neighbours; and in cases where landowners had privileges known as _sac_
and _soc_, the decision in their courts was final, and was not subject
to the court of the hundred. The police of the hundred was provided by
the system known as _frankpledge_ (peace pledge), by which freemen were
grouped into bodies of ten, in which each man had to go bail for any one
of the other nine, and produce him before the court if he had done wrong.
The landless man in the same way was compelled to find a lord who would
be answerable for him.

The division above the hundred was the _shire_, usually formed on
the lines of the old kingdoms, as in the case of Kent and Sussex; or
sub-kingdoms as in the case of most of the midland shires. The boundaries
of each shire were co-extensive with those of each bishopric. The court
of the shire, or shire-moot, was presided over by the _sheriff_ or reeve
of the shire, who was appointed by the king. By his side sat the alderman
or chief military officer of the shire, and the bishop. The shire-moot
met twice a year, and any freeman was entitled to attend it, and to have
a voice in its decisions.

Its business was two-fold, taxation and justice. Taxation was a very
simple affair, being practically non-existent until the period of the
Danish invasion, when, as we shall see, the obnoxious burden known as
Danegeld was introduced. Its necessity was obviated by the obligation
which lay upon every freeman known as the "three-fold necessity"
(_trinoda necessitas_), by which he was bound to attend the host or
_fyrd_ in time of war, to repair the public roads, and to keep the
fortifications in good order. Thus no imposts were necessary for what are
some of the principal sources of modern rating; while the king lived and
kept up his court upon the proceeds of the royal domains.

In the matter of justice the shire-moot acted as a court of appeal from
the inferior courts. The influence of the great landowners over it must
have been considerable, for the verdict was given by the twelve senior
thegns. The methods of trial in this and the other courts of old England
in criminal cases were three in number, a statement of innocence on oath,
_compurgation_ and _ordeal_. Compurgation was a mode of defence by which
a man was held to have established his innocence if he could get twelve
men to swear that he was not guilty of the crime in question. Ordeal
was allowed as an alternative to those who failed in or shrank from the
process of compurgation or of taking an oath themselves. It was practised
either by boiling water or red-hot iron. The water, or iron, was
consecrated by many prayers, masses, fastings, and exorcisms; after which
the person accused either took up a stone sunk in the water to a certain
depth, or carried the iron to a certain distance; and his hand being
wrapped up, and the covering sealed for three days, if there appeared,
on examining it, no marks of burning, he was pronounced innocent; if
otherwise, guilty. There were other and less credible methods of trial by
ordeal. The trial by cold water was one of them. The person was thrown
into consecrated water; if he swam he was guilty, if he sank, innocent.
It is difficult for us to conceive how any innocent person could ever
escape by the one trial, or any criminal be convicted by the other. But
there was another usage admirably calculated for allowing every criminal
to escape who had confidence enough to try it. A consecrated cake, called
a _corsned_, was produced; if the person could swallow and digest it, he
was pronounced innocent. Walking on burning ploughshares also appears as
an ordeal, but seldom, or never, except in stories that are evidently

The punishments amongst the English seem to have been exceedingly mild
for some offences, since even murder might be atoned for by the payment
of a fine.

The laws of Alfred enjoin that if any one know that his enemy or
aggressor, after doing him an injury, resolves to keep within his
own house and his own lands, he shall not fight him till he require
compensation for the injury. If he be strong enough to besiege him in
his house, he may do it for seven days without attacking him; and if the
aggressor be willing during that time to surrender himself and his arms,
his adversary may detain him thirty days; but is afterwards obliged to
restore him safe to his kindred, and be content with the compensation.
If the criminal fly to the church, that sanctuary must not be violated.
Where the assailant has not force sufficient to besiege the criminal
in his house, he must apply to the alderman for assistance; and if the
alderman refuse aid, the assailant must have recourse to the king; and he
is not allowed to assault the house till after this supreme magistrate
has refused assistance. If any one meet with his enemy, and be ignorant
that he was resolved to keep within his own lands, he must, before he
attack him, require him to surrender himself prisoner, and deliver up his
arms, in which case he may detain him thirty days; but if he refuse to
deliver up his arms, it is then lawful to fight him. A slave may fight in
his master's quarrel, and a father in his son's, with any one except his

Ina enacted that no man should take revenge till he had first demanded
compensation, and it had been refused him.

King Edmund decreed that if a man committed a murder, he might, within
a year, pay the fine, with the assistance of his relatives and friends;
but if they refused to aid him, he should alone sustain the feud with the
kindred of the murdered person.

There is, indeed, a law of Alfred, which makes wilful murder capital;
but this seems only to have been an attempt of that great legislator
towards establishing a better police in the kingdom, and probably it
was not often carried into execution. By the laws of the same prince, a
conspiracy against the life of the king might be redeemed by a fine.

The fine to be paid for the murder of a king, or his wergild--a word
signifying the legal value of any one,--was by law 30,000 thrismas,
nearly 1,300 pounds of present money. The price of the head of one of
royal blood (Atheling), was 15,000 thrismas; that of a bishop's, or
alderman's, 8,000; a sheriff's, 4,000; a thegn's, or clergyman's, 2,000;
a ceorl's, 266. These prices were fixed by the laws of the Angles. By the
Mercian law, the price of a ceorl's head was 200 shillings; that of a
thegn's six times as much; that of a king's, six times more. By the laws
of Kent, the price of the archbishop's head was higher than that of the
king. It must be understood that where a person was unable or unwilling
to pay the fine, he was put out of the protection of the law, and the
kindred of the deceased had liberty to punish him as they thought proper.

The price of all kinds of wounds was likewise fixed by the English law:
a wound of an inch long under the hair was paid with one shilling; one
of a like size in the face, with two shillings; thirty shillings were
the compensation for the loss of an ear; and so forth. There seems not
to have been any difference made according to the dignity of the person.
By the laws of Ethelbert, any one who committed adultery with his
neighbour's wife was obliged to pay him a fine, and buy him another wife.

The court of the nation was known as the _witena-gemot_, or assembly of
the wise men. Originally, no doubt, it was a far more popular institution
than it became in later times. In theory every freeman was entitled to be
present; but it was gradually confined to a small body of men, and the
average number of those who attended it was about thirty. They consisted
of royal officials and heads of the church, the bishops, aldermen, and
personal attendants of the king spoken of in the laws and chronicles as
_ministri_. Such a body, although it had in theory great powers, was,
as Bishop Stubbs points out, practically very much under the control of
a strong king.

Its powers were as follows:

(1) All laws, whether national or ecclesiastical, were made with its
counsel and consent.

(2) It supervised grants of land, especially the conversion of _folkland_
into _bookland_.

(3) It was a court of justice in the last resort.

(4) It laid on especial taxes, such as the Danegeld.

(5) It discussed questions of foreign policy.

(6) It elected the aldermen in conjunction with the king, and the bishops
in the more important sees. Bishops were, as a rule, however, elected by
the clergy.

(7) It could elect and depose kings. Deposition was frequent in some
kingdoms, notably in turbulent Northumbria. As to election, "the choice,"
says Bishop Stubbs, "was limited to the best qualified person standing in
close connection to the last sovereign."

Thus we see that the English kings were elected by the assembly of the
nation; and they went through some form of election, perfunctory though
it was no doubt, even in times subsequent to the Norman conquest. We have
already mentioned that the institution of kingship was subsequent to
the invasion of Britain, and was due to the immense amount of territory
that fell to the disposal of the victorious general and the accession
of importance he assumed thereby. The king was the chief magistrate
in peace, and the leader of the national host (_fyrd_) in war; and
the introduction of Christianity invested him with new attributes of
sanctity. Still, it is important to notice that the idea of treason, and
the penalty of death attached to it, was of late development. The penalty
for killing a king is only a higher _wergild_ than in the case of an
ordinary individual.

The difference between class and class becomes more sharply defined
after the invasion of Britain than before it. The bodyguard of the king
(_comitatus_ or _gesith_) is more distinctly dependent upon him. They are
known as his servants, or _thegns_. As regards the bulk of the people
they form, however, a noble class. There were king's thegns and lesser
thegns; the distinction being apparently regulated by the amount of land
which they possessed.

It was possible, however, for men who were not owners of land, to rise to
the rank of thegn. Thus Athelstan decreed that a merchant who made three
long sea voyages on his own account should be entitled to the quality of
thegn. The classes of _ceorls_, or freedmen, and _laets_, landless men
who cultivated the soil for their lords, continued to exist; but there
was also a class of absolute slaves usually occupied in household labour,
whose position must have been most unenviable. The power of the master
over his slave, however, was not unlimited, for if he beat his eyes or
his teeth out, the latter might claim his liberty; and if he killed him,
he paid a fine to the king, provided the slave died within a day after
receiving his wound.

The English Church was on the best of relations with the various kingdoms
with which its dioceses coincided. The bishop sat with the sheriff and
alderman in the shire-moot, and was a member of the witena-gemot. The
kings and aldermen in the same way took part in the ecclesiastical
councils which were convened after the organisation of the ecclesiastical
system by Theodore of Tarsus. According to his scheme of reform, a
general council of the whole Church was to assemble every August, and
he himself presided over two great councils at Hertford and Hatfield.
The idea was not carried out after his death with perfect regularity,
especially after Archbishop Egbert had successfully asserted the
independence of the see of York; still such assemblies were occasionally
held, and were of the greatest assistance in developing the idea of
national unity. They met at some border town such as Clovesho, an
unknown spot near London, where the hostile kings of Mercia, Wessex,
Kent, and Essex associating with the bishops, abbots, and occasionally
diocesan clergy, learnt to sink their differences, and to realise the
greatness of their common interests. Even after the national assemblies
had practically resolved themselves into the two provincial synods
of Canterbury and York, the comparative unimportance of the northern
province frequently invested the proceedings of the southern with a
national character. Assemblies of each diocese were also occasionally
summoned, which were largely attended by the parish priests, the parish
coinciding with the townships in the same way that the diocese coincided
with the kingdom or subkingdom.

[Illustration: _Typo. Etchin. Co. del. et. sc._


The English Church was notably a learned Church, and numbered among its
dignitaries Bede, the historian of the Church. Despite the intimate
connection between Church and State, it was not a distinctly political
Church. The sees were often set up at a distance from the great towns;
and the bishops made their ecclesiastical duties the chief interest
of their lives, seldom degenerating, as on the Continent, into great
territorial princes. The Church was also a popular institution. It was
supported by voluntary tithes which were not made imperative by law
earlier than the year 787. Its main fault was a certain desultoriness
of effort, which is to be traced in the failure to carry out Theodore's
plans in their integrity. Learning had almost died out at the time of the
accession of Alfred, and the invasions of the Danes can only be adduced
as a partial excuse. We find that king complaining that very few of his
clergy could translate a letter from Latin. The Church was, moreover,
excessively monastic. Pious kings founded and liberally endowed numerous
monasteries, which rapidly became luxurious and corrupt, until some were
religious societies only in name. The system, however, had its advantages
when it was necessary to furnish missionaries gratuitously to poor



     Character of the Invaders--Reign of Ethelwulf--Reigns of
     Ethelbald and Ethelbert--The Conquest of East Anglia--Battles
     near Reading--The Accession of Alfred--The Extinction of the
     Kingdom of Mercia--The Invasion of Wessex--The Year 878--Alfred
     at Athelney--Death of Hubba--Victory of Alfred and the Treaty
     of Wedmore--Renewal of the War--Alfred's fleet--Expeditions of
     Hastings--Remainder of the Reign--Character of Alfred--His Rules
     of Life--His Legislation--Encouragement of Learning.

We have arrived at the period of the Danish invasions, which has been
divided by Professor Freeman into three parts:

    (1) When the Danes came to plunder.
    (2) When they came to settle.
    (3) When they came to conquer England.

Of the first division little is to be said, and in part it has already
been dealt with incidentally while tracing the rise of the kingdom of
Wessex. The first descent upon the English coast seems to have been made
upon Northumbria in 787.

The Danes were a brave and unscrupulous race, inhabiting not only
Denmark, but also Norway. Bound by a limited territory, in a climate
where population rapidly increases, it is not to be wondered at that
Denmark and Norway were overstocked with inhabitants, and, consequently,
forced to send away large colonies. Their natural inclination to a sea
life made these exiles readily abandon their country; and the great booty
the first adventurers gained tempted the richest and most powerful of
their countrymen to urge their fortune in the same manner; to which end
they entered into associations, and fitted out large fleets to seek and
ravage foreign countries. These associations were much of the same nature
with those formed in later times by the corsairs of Barbary; and they
became so entirely devoted to this mode of life, that very considerable
fleets were put to sea. They had the authority and example of their
highest leaders, who occasionally commanded them in person, for what they
did. These leaders were known by the name of Sea-kings. Their fleets
made much devastation in several parts of Europe, particularly France,
England, and the Low Countries. In France they were called Normans--that
is, men of the north; but in England they were generally styled Danes.
There is no doubt that the Swedes very often joined with the Danes in
their piratical expeditions; and it appears that the Frieslanders also
were concerned with them in ravaging the coasts of France and England.

Egbert died in 839, after having reigned thirty-seven years, during
the last ten as sole monarch of England. He was succeeded by his son
Ethelwulf, in whose reign the ravages of the Danes became yet more
frequent. In a great battle fought at Charmouth the English were once
more defeated by their fierce enemy, who retired to their own country
again with the spoils they had collected, without attempting any

The Danes now seldom failed to visit England yearly for the sake of
plunder. In 845, the Aldermen Enulph and Osric, aided by Bishop Alstan,
obtained a considerable victory over them. In 851, the barbarians landed
again on the coast of Wessex, where they plundered the country, but were
met by Ethelwulf's general, the Alderman Ceorl, who defeated them at
Wembury with great slaughter. Shortly afterwards, Athelstan, the King of
Kent, encountered them upon their own element, and succeeded in capturing
nine of their ships. Next year the Danes sailed up the Thames with 300
vessels, and pillaged London, after which they marched into Mercia, and
would have overrun all England if the preparations of Ethelwulf had not
deterred them. They re-passed the Thames, and were defeated at Okely, in
Surrey. The year 855 is an important one, for the Danes then wintered in
England for the first time, selecting the Isle of Sheppey for their camp.

Ethelwulf appears to have been in some respects a weak, but by no means
a cruel prince. He was very religiously minded, and was led for years,
in all religious matters, by Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, and Alstan,
Bishop of London. By the advice of the former, he is said to have
granted to the Church the tithe of all his dominions. He also sent his
youngest son, Alfred, when a mere boy, to Rome, and in 855 visited the
Eternal City himself. On his return, he passed through France, where he
married Judith, or Leatheta, as she is named in the Saxon Chronicles, the
daughter of Charles the Bald, a princess only twelve years of age. During
his absence, his son Ethelbald and Bishop Alstan plotted against him,
and on his arrival in England he was compelled to resign the kingdom of
Wessex to the former to prevent a civil war. The aged monarch survived
this partition but two years.

Ethelwulf, by his will, disposed of the kingdom of Kent to his second
son, Ethelbert, and the kingdom of Wessex to Ethelbald, Ethelred, and
Alfred, in order of seniority, and directed his heirs to maintain one
poor person for every tithing in his hereditary lands. He died in 857,
having reigned eighteen years, leaving behind him four sons and one
daughter, who was married to Burhred, King of Mercia, and died at Pavia
in 888. Ethelbald, the eldest son, was already in possession of the
kingdom of Wessex; and Ethelbert, his brother, succeeded to Kent, Essex,
Surrey, and Sussex, comprised under the name of the kingdom of Kent.

Ethelbald, a prince of but little capacity, reigned not quite three years
after his father's death, his brother Ethelbert succeeding him. In the
reign of the last-named king, the Danes once more renewed their ravages
in England, and penetrated as far as Winchester, from which city they
were beaten back to their ships at Southampton by the Aldermen Osric and

On their landing, in the autumn of the same year, in the Isle of Thanet,
Ethelbert offered them a large sum of money to retire, which they
promised to do, but broke faith with him, and commenced ravaging the
kingdom of Kent, and carried off their booty in safety. In 866 Ethelbert
died, and was succeeded by his brother, Ethelred I.

In this reign the Danish invasions assume a more terrible aspect; and
the second period, the transition to which was marked by the wintering
in Sheppey, may be considered to have fully begun. During his short
reign, Ethelred, who was a brave warrior, was engaged in almost incessant
conflict with these savage heathens. The struggle began in 867, when the
brothers Ingvar and Hubba, thirsting, according to a not very probable
legend, to avenge their father, who had been put to death by Ella, the
sub-king of Northumbria, landed in East Anglia, and took York. In the
following year they marched upon Mercia. Nottingham fell; but Ethelred
and his brother Alfred came to the assistance of the Mercian king,
Burhred, and drove the enemy back into Northumberland. This success
was, however, only temporary, for, advancing from York in 870, under
a leader named Guthrum, they conquered East Anglia, and it became a
Danish kingdom. The under-king of East Anglia was named Edmund; he was
defeated near Thetford, and taken prisoner. For his refusal to abjure
Christianity, the barbarians shot at him with arrows while he was bound
to a tree, and at last beheaded him; wherefore Edmund was deservedly
honoured as a saint. Over the whole of East Anglia and Mercia hardly a
church or monastery was left standing. All were committed to the flames.

With East Anglia as a basis of operations, the Danes extended their
advance over parts of England which had as yet escaped. In 871 they
penetrated into Wessex; but here their task was not so easy. Nine great
battles were fought round Reading; some of them being won by the English,
some by the Danes. Of these, the most famous was that of Ashdown, in
which Alfred bore the brunt of the fray, while his brother was praying
for success. At Easter, King Ethelred died, probably from the effects of
a wound. His valour and piety gained for him the title of saint.

The general outlook, when Alfred was chosen king of the English in
succession to his brother, must have been terrible indeed. The Danes,
already masters of Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia, were in the very
heart of the kingdom of Wessex; and, notwithstanding the many battles
Ethelred had fought with them, they were in possession of several towns;
and not only maintained their position in the island, but had reason to
hope they should soon complete the conquest of it. The new monarch had
only been a month on the throne, when he found himself obliged to take
the field against these formidable enemies, who had advanced as far as
Wilton, whither he marched to attack them. Victory for some time inclined
to his side, then suddenly changed in favour of the Danes; but Alfred's
loss was not so considerable as to make him despair, though the victory
certainly belonged to the enemy. He laboured incessantly to put his army
in condition to give them battle again, before they should be reinforced;
they were astonished at his expedition, and, though victorious, sued for
peace, finding themselves unable to continue the war. As they offered to
march out of his dominions, on condition he would not molest them in any
other part of England, Alfred accepted their offer, and gained by this
treaty time to prepare against a new invasion.

The Danes, quitting Wessex, retired to London, which they had taken
during the late war. Ingvar was gone back to Denmark, having left the
command of the army to his brother Hubba, who, being prevented from
attacking Wessex, turned his arms against Mercia. Burhred, its king,
knowing he was unable to resist, since Alfred was bound not to send him
any succours, thought it his wisest course to buy off the Danes with a
sum of money, and save his country from their depredations. Upon the
receipt of the money, they marched towards Northumbria, designing to take
up their quarters with their countrymen; but their provisions running
short, in consequence of the devastations they themselves had made there,
they were under the necessity of returning into Mercia.

Before they had left Northumbria, they deposed Egbert, whom they had
placed on the throne, and put Recsige, a Danish earl, in his room.
Burhred, finding they were come again into his dominions, complained
of their breach of faith; but without regarding his complaints, they
obliged him to give them another considerable sum to save his country
from the destruction it was threatened with; and no sooner was the money
paid, than they fell to plundering and ravaging, and Burhred found
that even his own person was in danger. The fear of falling into their
hands obliged him to abandon his kingdom, and retire to Rome, where he
spent the rest of his days in the English college. Mercia being thus
left without a king, and Alfred being prevented by his own treaty from
lending any assistance, the Danes without difficulty became masters of
that kingdom, and raised Ceolwulf, a servant of Burhred, to the throne,
till they could otherwise dispose of it. Aware of the slight tenure
of his office, the new ruler resolved to make the utmost of his time,
and so oppressed the unhappy Mercians that they suffered more from the
tyranny of their own countryman than from the rapacity of the conquerors.
Meanwhile the Danes were beginning to settle in Northumbria, and Alfred
was employing himself in winning victories over them by sea.

[Illustration: DANISH SHIPS.]

Whilst Alfred flattered himself with the hope of enjoying comparative
peace, new calamities were preparing for his unhappy country. A large
party of Danes, under Guthrum, landed in England, and surprised Wareham
Castle, the strongest fortress in Wessex. The king was obliged to
purchase his retreat. The invaders swore on the holy relics never again
to set foot in Wessex, an oath which they quickly violated. From the very
nature of their government, no treaty could bind the Danes as a nation,
seeing that it was composed of a variety of chiefs and petty powers, who
entered into associations independent of each other. The successful
return of one expedition merely proved an incentive to others of their
countrymen to follow in their track.



[Illustration: ALFRED IN THE NEAT-HERD'S HUT. (_See p._ 42.)]

Alfred, finding it was in vain to conclude treaties with such a
perfidious race of people, resolved to take more effectual measures to
secure himself from their treachery. For this purpose he convened a
general assembly. He represented to them that they had nothing to trust
to but their own valour and courage, to deliver them from their miseries,
and urged upon them the absolute necessity of venturing their lives in
defence of their country, and of sacrificing part of their estates to
preserve the remainder. His eloquent remonstrances having produced the
effect he expected, a force was levied, with which he went after the
enemy, who had taken Exeter. Finding that they could not be dislodged
from the castle, he was once more constrained to treat with the invaders;
and though he could place no great dependence upon their promises, it was
the only way by which he could put an end to a disastrous war. The new
treaty, in which the Danes undertook not to return any more into Wessex,
was somewhat better kept than the former one.

The respite, however, was an exceedingly brief one, and in the year 878
Alfred's fortunes were at their lowest ebb. In the beginning of the
year the Danes fitted out an expedition with great secrecy, the object
of which was to overwhelm Wessex. The attack took place so suddenly
that Alfred was ill prepared to meet it. Chippenham was taken, and the
dispirited English no longer felt courage to prosecute the war. Many
fled, whilst others (and of them not a few) leagued themselves with the
Danes, swearing allegiance to them.

So general was the defection, that the unhappy monarch found himself
deserted by all but a few domestics and faithful friends, who still
adhered to his fallen fortunes. In this extremity, he showed himself
greater, perhaps, than when on the throne, and acted with a prudence
and wisdom which few princes would have found courage to imitate. He
dismissed them all; and, with no other support than his courage and
patriotism, set forth a wanderer, alone, and on foot, in the kingdom he
had so lately reigned over.

Such was his poverty that the uncrowned king was compelled to solicit
shelter in the hut of a neat-herd in the island of Athelney, in
Somersetshire, a remote spot, surrounded by a dangerous marsh, wild and
desolate as his own fortunes, and only to be approached by a single
path, and that but little known. Here the fugitive had time to repair
his shattered health, collect his thoughts, and meditate on plans for
the future delivery of his oppressed and outraged country. Savage and
uninviting as was his retreat, it afforded that which he had most need
of, safety.

It is recorded that, whilst Alfred was an inmate of this abode, the
neat-herd's wife, who did not know him, having occasion to quit the
cottage for a time, set him the task of watching the cakes of rye-bread
which were baking on the fire. The king, whose mind was distracted by far
more important subjects, neglected his instructions, and when the woman
returned she found the cakes blackened and burnt. If tradition speaks
truly, the virago chid him soundly, reproaching him that he was more
ready to eat than to work.

In this miserable concealment the fugitive remained six months, when
fortune, tired of persecuting him, appeared to relent, and once more
smiled upon the efforts of the brave, but hitherto unlucky, English.

Hubba, who had been entrusted by his brother Ingvar with the command of
his troops, had invaded Wales, laying the country in flames, ravaging,
and destroying. He afterwards penetrated into Devonshire, in the kingdom
of Wessex, with a similar intent. At his approach the Alderman of Devon
retreated with a body of determined men to Kenworth Castle, on the river
Taw, in order to withstand them. The Danish chief not long before had
decided on attacking the fortress, believing that the scanty garrison
would surrender at his first summons; in which opinion, however, he
was doomed to find himself mistaken, for the earl, seeing that it was
impossible to defend the place with so few men, however devoted, told
them frankly that one only course was left for them, to conquer and
live free men, or die beneath the swords of their relentless enemy. His
harangue had the desired effect: the English, animated by his words,
sallied forth, and fell upon the Danes so unexpectedly, that before they
could recover from their panic their leader was slain; on seeing which,
his followers fled in all directions. The spot where Hubba fell was
afterwards called Hubblestain, or Hubblelaw, from the monument raised
over his remains by his countrymen.

On hearing the joyful intelligence of this victory, Alfred left his
concealment, and called his friends once more to arms. They assembled
in separate bodies in various parts of the kingdom, establishing such
means of communication as might enable them to join their forces together
at the shortest notice; and here a somewhat mythical story is told. It
is said that the great difficulty was to ascertain the position of the
enemy, which dangerous task the patriot king undertook himself. The
story runs that, disguised as a harper, he made his way into the Danish
camp, and stayed there several days, secretly noting the disposition of
their forces all the while. Having acquainted himself with all he wished
to learn, Alfred returned to his countrymen, and named Selwood Forest
for the general place of meeting. His directions were carried out so
expeditiously, that in a comparatively brief space of time the English
monarch was enabled to attack his enemy at the head of a powerful army,
consisting of the inhabitants of Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Hampshire.
The Danes, though unexpectedly assailed, defended themselves with their
usual bravery, but at last were entirely routed. They attributed their
defeat to the loss of the raven standard, which had been taken when Hubba
fell, and to which they superstitiously attached magical powers--that it
indicated victory and defeat by clapping or depressing its wings. This
battle was fought at Edington, not far from Trowbridge, in 878.

The consequence of this victory for the English was the Treaty of
Wedmore. By it England was divided between Alfred and Guthrum, the Danish
king of East Anglia, the latter receiving by far the larger part of
England, but the former keeping London. The boundary line ran along the
Thames to the mouth of the Lea, thence to Bedford and the Ouse to Watling
Street. Thus Alfred retained Wessex and the south-west of Mercia, where
he established an alderman, called Ethelred, who married his daughter,
Ethelflæd, shortly to become famous as the "Lady of the Mercians."
Guthrum at this time became a convert to Christianity, and was baptised
under the name of Athelstan. It was not a glorious peace; but the terms
were as good as could be expected, and England was at peace for several

The war was renewed in 893. Shortly before this a body of Danes, headed
by Hastings, earnestly solicited Guthrum to renew the war in Wessex,
but not prevailing, they put to sea, and ravaged the coast of Flanders;
and shortly after, another, and no less numerous troop, informed of
the great booty the first expedition had met with in Kent, embarked to
join them. These two bands, thus united, overran Brabant, Hainault,
Flanders, Picardy, and Artois, perpetrating unheard-of cruelties; after
which, having again divided into two bodies, one of them sailed back to
England, in hopes of plundering the country, where they imagined they
should come unexpected. Having landed in Kent, they marched towards
Rochester, intending to surprise that city; but Alfred, who, contrary
to their expectation, had his army in readiness, hastened to meet them
upon the first notice of their arrival, and his approach was sufficient
to make them fly to their ships with such precipitation that they left
their plunder behind them. His vigilance having prevented their designs
upon England, they returned to France, and, rejoining their companions,
continued their devastations in that kingdom.

Hitherto the English had acted only on the defensive. Exposed to the
continual invasions of the Danes, and uncertain where the enemy would
land, they were generally surprised before it was in their power to
defend themselves; and the sea-coast being uninhabited, there was nothing
to prevent the piratical marauders from landing unopposed. Alfred's first
care, therefore, was to equip a considerable fleet, the advantage of
which he had already experienced, with which he determined to cruise
along the coasts, and attack all Danish ships laden with booty. Sixteen
were surprised in the port of Harwich, in East Anglia, part of which
were captured and the remainder sunk, and a considerable booty was also

In 894, the fighting over the south of England was renewed. The Danes,
who, under the conduct of their chief, the celebrated Hastings, had
ravaged France and the Low Countries, where they acquired immense booty,
decided on returning to England, not with the intention of settling
there, but led by the thirst of plunder. Dividing their forces into equal
parts, they set sail for the island. The first expedition reached the
coast of Kent, where they landed, and committed dreadful depredations.
The second, under the command of Hastings, entered the Thames, and landed
at Middleton, making their way to the Severn, where they were defeated by
Alfred's aldermen.

Alfred, who appears to have been in East Anglia at the time of this new
invasion, no sooner received the intelligence than he drew together what
troops he could; and, after receiving the oaths of the Anglian Danes,
marched against the new comers, and defeated another body of the enemy
who were laying siege to Exeter. We have no very distinct accounts of the
wars which ensued. The Danes, under the command of Hastings, returned
to France, perhaps on account of the plague which, about this time, was
committing great ravages in the island. The terror which the name of this
chief inspired had armed all the sea-coasts of France against him; on
discovering which, he resolved to change his course, and steer for the
Mediterranean, where he contrived, by an act of sacrilege and deceit, to
become master of the town of Luna, on the coast of Tuscany. He pretended
that he had merely visited the place in order to gratify his desire of
becoming a Christian, and actually received baptism from the bishop. Some
little time after he caused the simple prelate to be informed that he was
dead, and had left a large sum of money, on condition of his being buried
in the church of Luna. By this stratagem Hastings and a considerable
number of his followers obtained entrance into the town, under pretence
of conducting the funeral, and immediately began to massacre and pillage
the inhabitants. The adventurer ultimately settled in the city of
Chartres, which Charles the Simple, King of France, assigned to him as
the price of peace.

The last battles between Alfred and the Danes occurred in 897, and took
place chiefly by sea, but of their details we know very little. On one
occasion the Danes having penetrated up the river Lea, Alfred diverted
it, and so their ships were stranded. In this year he built a number of
large ships, which were a great improvement on his old navy, both in size
and swiftness, and they doubtless turned the scale in his favour, for the
short remainder of his reign was spent in peace. He was only fifty-two
when he died, in 901, but he had lived a life of almost perpetual strife,
except during the two brief periods of repose after the peace of Wedmore,
and just before his death.

Alfred is one of the most perfect characters in history; not that the
information concerning him is very precise, but that the stories all
point in the same direction, and embody for us the attributes of a brave,
upright, and pious man. He has been accused, but probably unjustly, of
not having sufficient insight into the future, and he was, to a certain
extent, devoid of originality. A characteristic story told of him is that
while he lay concealed in the Isle of Athelney, he made a vow to dedicate
to God the third part of his time, as soon as he should be restored to a
state of tranquillity. He performed his promise, and allotted eight hours
every day to acts of devotion, eight hours to public affairs, and as many
to sleep, study, and necessary refreshment. As the use of clocks and
hour-glasses was not yet introduced into England, he measured the time by
means of wax-candles, marked with circular lines of different colours,
which served as so many hour-lines; and to prevent the wind from making
them burn unsteadily, it is said he invented the expedient of enclosing
them in lanterns.

He also divided his revenues in two parts, one of which was wholly
assigned for charitable uses, and subdivided into four portions: the
first for alms to the poor; the second for the maintenance of the
monasteries he had founded; the third for the subsistence of the teachers
and scholars at Oxford; the fourth for poor monks, foreigners as well as
English. The other half was divided into three parts: one was expended on
his family; another in paying his architects, and other skilled workmen;
and the rest was bestowed in pensions upon strangers invited to his court
for the encouragement and instruction of his subjects.

As a legislator, Alfred by no means accomplished all that has been
attributed to him; indeed, when the facts of his life are considered,
the marvel is that he effected as much as he did towards the improvement
of the moral condition of his subjects. The statements that he divided
England into counties, or that he instituted trial by jury, have long
ago been proved to be baseless. What he actually did was to collect and
codify the laws of that part of England which was under his sway--Kent,
Mercia, and Wessex--preserving on the whole the customs established by
previous legislators, like Ethelbert, Offa, and Ina. "I kept," he says,
"those that seemed to me good, and rejected those that were not good."
Throughout these laws may easily be observed an ardent zeal for justice,
and a sincere desire of rooting out oppression and violence. They were
indeed mild, if compared with those of later ages, seeing they punished
most offences by fines; but the strictness wherewith Alfred caused them
to be observed counterbalanced their lenity. If with respect to private
persons the rigour of the law was somewhat abated, it was not so with
regard to unjust magistrates, for to such Alfred was ever inexorable;
and history informs us that he executed four-and-forty judges within the
space of one year for corruption.

Alfred was, moreover, himself a scholar, and a lover of learned men. As
a scholar, he translated several books from Latin into English, for the
benefit of his subjects. As Professor Freeman observes, his choice was
limited by the fact that heathen authors were held in great dislike,
and he, therefore, did not attempt to acquaint the English people with
the beauties of Horace or Virgil. He translated, however, the _History_
of Orosius, the _Ecclesiastical History_ of Bede, the monk of Jarrow,
which is our main authority for the century and a half that followed the
conversion of England to Christianity, some of the works of Gregory the
Great and Boethius' _Consolations of Philosophy_. This last was a work
written by a Roman while under sentence of death, but there is nothing
in the work to show that he was a Christian, although every one believed
that he was one at the time when Alfred wrote. It is also supposed that
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was put into its present shape in Alfred's
time, in which case we owe him a great debt of gratitude. To regenerate
religion and letters, he drew learned men from other lands, by whose
aid the services of the Church were reanimated, schools were founded,
and English prose, which Alfred, it should be observed, was the first
to write, encouraged. Such men were Asser, who came from Wales, and
who afterwards wrote Alfred's life, Grimbald, and John the Old-Saxon,
who crossed over from the Continent; while nearer home, in Mercia, he
discovered Werfrith and Plegmund who became Archbishop of Canterbury.




     Settlement of the Danes--Edward the Elder and his
     Cousin--Reconquest of the Danelagh--Edward becomes King of
     all England--Conspiracy of Alfred against Athelstan--Wars in
     Northumbria--The Death of Edwin--The Battle of Brunanburgh--The
     Power of Athelstan--Edwin's Wars with the Danes--Their
     Submission to Edmund--Rebellion and Reconquest--The Conquest of
     Cumberland--Death of Edmund--Final Conquest of Northumberland--The
     Rise of Dunstan--His Banishment--Edgar's Rebellion--His Accession
     to the Throne--Wars with the Welsh--Dunstan Archbishop of
     Canterbury--His Ecclesiastical Policy--The Reign of Edward the
     Martyr--Dunstan's Struggles with the Opposition--Death of the King.

By this time the settlement of the Danes in England was complete, and
exhausting though the process had been by which it was accomplished,
in the end it strengthened the nation through the infusion of a new
and more vigorous element. Practically speaking, they occupied, as we
have seen, the whole of the district north of the Thames, but in some
parts the new colonists must have been exceedingly few in numbers. The
Danish population lay thickest round what were called the "five Danish
boroughs," _i.e._ Lincoln, Derby, Leicester, Stamford, and Nottingham.
After the first storm of their fury was spent, the Danes mixed readily
with the English population, and became converts to Christianity. The
fusion was easy, because the language and customs of the two races were
very similar. The title, _Earl,_ which at this period is introduced
into our language, is of Danish origin; so are the local divisions of
Yorkshire, known as _Ridings_ and _Wapentakes_; so also the names of
towns ending in "by" and "holm."

Both parties were weary of war--of mutually destroying each other--and
a brief repose was welcome. To the new settlers the retreat of their
piratical countrymen was as acceptable as to the English; for the hordes
who invaded the island with no other object than obtaining plunder cared
very little whose possessions they ravaged; and the consequence was that
the Danes suffered at times as much as the earlier possessors of the soil.

Alfred was succeeded by his son, Edward the Elder, who had not long
obtained possession of the crown before a civil war broke out, which
ultimately strengthened the English as a nation. Alfred's elder brother,
Ethelred, left two sons, the eldest of whom, Ethelwald, having arrived
at man's estate, claimed the throne, on the plea that his grandfather,
Ethelwulf, had no right to make a will leaving the succession to his
three sons, according to their seniority, to the exclusion of their
issue--a claim which in these days would undoubtedly be looked upon as
valid, but was worthless when the monarchy was elective. A numerous party
supported his pretensions, and Edward was compelled to draw the sword to
maintain himself in his inheritance.

Defeated in his first attempt, the pretender fled to the Danes, who
received him hospitably, and, seeing the use which such an instrument
might be made of in their hands, at once proclaimed him King of

In this crisis Edward proved himself worthy of his illustrious father,
and acted with a promptitude and decision which ultimately secured to
him his crown. Immediately after the battle of Wimborne, in which he had
defeated his rival, he marched against him and his new allies, his army
increasing daily. The Danes, unable to resist the overwhelming forces
led against them, dismissed the pretender from amongst them, and ceded
several strongholds as the price of peace.

In 910 the war between the two races broke out once more, and lasted,
with brief intermission, for ten years; when the Danes, finding they
were losing ground, sued for peace. Those who inhabited Mercia were
the first to submit; the East Anglians followed their example, and the
Northumbrians were the last.

Edward was materially assisted in these struggles by his warlike sister
Ethelflæd, the widow of the Alderman of Mercia, who, despite her sex,
appears to have delighted in arms. Aided by her brother's troops, she
attacked the Welsh, who had sided with the Danes, and obliged them to
pay tribute to her. Nothing, indeed, is more remarkable in the history
of this time than the ease and rapidity with which Edward and his sister
reconquered the Danelagh, as the district inhabited by the Danes was
called. The reason of this prompt submission was that the two warriors,
as we may fairly call them, were not content with merely winning battles,
but took care to fortify and garrison the towns that fell into their
hands. At the time of her death, in 918, the Lady of the Mercians had
reconquered the country as far north as York, and was actually treating
for the surrender of that city. She had, moreover, built a strong
fortress at Chester, which held down the turbulent Welsh. On her death,
however, Edward took the administration of Mercia into his own hands,
instead of leaving it to be governed by a separate alderman. This is an
important step in the consolidation of the kingdom.

There was something like a general rising in 921, but it was easily
suppressed, and soon the various states of England and Scotland submitted
in succession. The kings of the Welsh submitted in 922; they were
followed by the king of the Scots, by Northumbria and Strathclyde. So
Edward became lord of all England. The Danish invasion had indirectly
helped towards this end, for by it several of the lines of under-kings
had been exterminated. The kings of England from this time forward
regarded themselves as emperors, and showed their independence of the
Emperor of Germany by assuming the titles of _Imperator_ and _Basileus_.
Edward did not do so as far as we know, probably because he had no time,
for in the year which followed his great success he died (925).

Edward was a great man; in statecraft and war certainly his father's
equal. He was held in high regard on the Continent; five of his daughters
married foreign princes, of whom Otho afterwards became Emperor of
Germany. But in learning and in purity of life he compares indifferently
with Alfred, and it has been thought that Athelstan, who succeeded him,
was illegitimate.

Concerning Athelstan's mother, the chronicler, William of Malmesbury,
relates that she was the daughter of a shepherd, and, whilst watching
her father's flock, fell asleep in the fields, and had an extraordinary
dream. She dreamt that a globe of light, resembling the moon, shone out
from her body, and that all England was illuminated by it. This she
related to Edward's nurse, who was so struck by it that she adopted her,
gave her a good education, and purposely threw her in the way of the
king, by whom she had three children.

On the death of Edward, the Mercians and West Saxons chose Athelstan
for king, to the secret discontent of many of the nobility and clergy.
Concerning this conspiracy, which was headed by a member of the royal
house, named Alfred, William of Malmesbury tells a story which, even
though we find it repeated several times in old English history, can
hardly be accepted as genuine.

Alfred, he says, had even taken private measures to seize Athelstan
at Winchester, and put out his eyes. The plot being discovered, he
was apprehended by the king's order, but would confess nothing; he
obstinately persisted in protesting his innocence, and offered to purge
himself by oath in the presence of the Pope, an ordeal looked upon in
that age as infallible in discovering the truth, since he who was rash
or wicked enough to forswear himself was certain, according to the
superstition of the time, to meet with a signal punishment. Athelstan
agreed to this, and sent him to Rome, to take the oath before Pope John.
Shortly after the arrival of the accused in Rome, word was sent that
Alfred, having sworn to his innocence before the Pope, suddenly fell
into a fainting fit, which, lasting three days, ended with his life; and
that the Pope, convinced by his death that he had committed perjury,
had ordered his body to remain in the English college till the king's
pleasure should be known; upon which Athelstan, pleased with being thus
rid of his enemy, consented he should have Christian burial. His lands
were, however, confiscated, and given to Malmesbury monastery, and the
king had inserted in the grant an account of the whole conspiracy, "to
testify to the world that he dedicated to God what was His own."

The death of Edward, and the troubles which succeeded, affording the
Danes, as they imagined, a favourable opportunity to revolt, they had
begun to take such measures as obliged Athelstan to march into their
country; but as they had not yet drawn their forces together, they were
so surprised by the arrival of the king on their frontiers, that, without
endeavouring to defend themselves, they returned to their allegiance; and
Sithric of Northumberland sued for peace upon whatever terms the king
might be pleased to impose. Athelstan being desirous to live in peace
with the Danes, in order that he might have time to establish himself on
the throne, not only pardoned his revolt, but gave him his sister Edith
in marriage, on condition that he would receive baptism.

The dissensions in the north being appeased, he returned to Wessex,
where he soon afterwards heard of the death of Sithric, who left two
sons, Anlaff and Godfrid, by a former marriage. Athelstan, instead of
disbanding his army, instantly retraced his march, and the two princes
avoided falling into his hands only by a hasty flight, which gave him
an opportunity of making himself master of all Northumbria, except the
castle of York, which alone held out against him.

Although he had taken the precaution of placing garrisons in most of
the cities, the conqueror was far from feeling himself secure in his
new possessions. The sons of Sithric were still at liberty, as well as
Reginald, another Danish prince, who had fled with them. It was not
known what had become of the latter. Anlaff had fled to Ireland, whilst
his brother, Godfrid, had found an asylum with the King of Scotland,
Constantine, whom Athelstan immediately summoned to deliver him into his
hands. Constantine being perfectly aware that he was not in a position to
refuse anything to the victor at the head of a powerful army, promised
to deliver the prince into his hands; but whilst he was preparing for
his journey, Godfrid made his escape, either through the negligence or
connivance of Constantine, who, however, met Athelstan, accompanied
by Owen, King of Cumberland. Athelstan admitted Constantine's excuses
for the Danish prince's escape, but, if English historians are to be
credited, obliged both the kings to do homage for their kingdoms.

[Illustration: ETHELWULF'S RING.]

Before Athelstan quitted the north, Godfrid made an attempt upon York, by
means of the castle, where he had still some friends; but failing in the
attempt, he surrendered himself to the King of England, who received him
kindly, and allowed him a handsome pension; but in a few days he wearied
of that way of life and escaped to sea, where he lived the life of a

For the next few years Athelstan was occupied in wars against the Welsh,
whom he drove back behind the Wye, and caused to pay tribute. The western
Welsh also gave him trouble; Athelstan therefore expelled those who
inhabited Exeter, and extended the boundaries of his kingdom as far as
the Parret.

In 933 Athelstan lost his brother Edwin, who was apparently drowned
at sea. William of Malmesbury, however, relates the following story
concerning his death:--

One of those fawning flatterers who are the curse of courts persuaded the
king that his brother Edwin had connived at the conspiracy of Alfred.
This accusation Athelstan unhappily gave ear to, and affected to believe
the charge, whether he did or not. The prince was arrested by his
unnatural brother, who, fearing to put him to death publicly, had him
conveyed on board a vessel without sails or rudder, which he ordered
to be let drift away to sea. Edwin, to avoid perishing by hunger, cast
himself into the waves, and was drowned.

No sooner was the object of his terror removed for ever, than remorse
seized upon the murderer, who, to quiet his conscience, founded the Abbey
of Middleton, in Dorsetshire, where masses were daily offered for the
repose of the victim's soul, and Athelstan did penance for seven years.

Edwin's accuser had not reason long to rejoice at the success of his
malicious calumnies; for one day, as he waited at table with the king's
cup, one of his feet slipping, he would have fallen, had he not, by the
nimbleness of the other leg, recovered himself. Whereupon he jokingly
said, "See how one brother helps another!" which silly jest cost him
his life; as Athelstan, who overheard it, and considered it as a covert
reproach addressed to himself, ordered him to be immediately executed;
and thus, says the old chronicler, revenged his brother's death by that
of his false accuser.

The whole story, however, is a mass of contradictions, and is demolished
by Professor Freeman, who points out that tales about people being
exposed in boats are very numerous; that the story about brother helping
brother is related again in the history of Earl Godwin; and, further,
that the story evidently belongs to the first years of the reign, whereas
we know from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that Edwin died in 933, and that
it is improbable that Athelstan would have been doing penance at the time
when he was winning his greatest victories.

For in the year 937 Athelstan was engaged in war against a formidable
combination, and won immortal renown. The Danes by this time had formed
settlements in Ireland as well as England, and we are told that one of
their kings, named Anlaff, whom some think to be identical with Anlaff,
the son of Sithric, others a different person, arrived from Ireland
with many ships, and was joined by Owen of Cumberland, and Constantine,
the king of the Scots. According to a late, and not very trustworthy,
account of the campaign, it would appear that it was arranged so secretly
that Anlaff entered the Humber with a fleet of six hundred sail, and
invaded Northumbria before Athelstan had any intelligence of his landing;
and with such forces, and the assistance of the Danes settled there,
he easily became master of several small ill-guarded towns. But the
fortified places that were well garrisoned by the English stopped his
progress, and gave Athelstan time to draw his army together. He used such
expedition, that he surprised the two confederate princes upon their
march towards Bernicia. It had been agreed that this small kingdom, if
conquered, should be apportioned to the King of Scotland; but the prompt
measures of Athelstan, by surprising the invaders, totally defeated their

[Illustration: ANLAFF ENTERING THE HUMBER. (_See p._ 48.)]

This much is certain; that a great battle was fought at Brunanburgh,
probably near Beverley in Yorkshire, an account of which is preserved
in the famous song of the battle of Brunanburgh, in the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle. In this battle Athelstan's brother Edmund distinguished
himself, and the slaughter was immense.

Of the enemy, five Danish kings, seven earls, and the son of the King
of Scots were slain; but Anlaff and Constantine made good their escape.
Various stories have gathered round this campaign, in one of which
Olaf is represented as going into the English camp in the guise of a
minstrel just before the battle, to discover what he could concerning the
resources of the enemy, which is evidently a duplicate of the tale told
concerning Alfred.

Three years afterwards Athelstan died, after a brief but glorious
reign. The marriage connections between his sisters and foreign princes
had caused his influence throughout western Europe to be very great;
for instance, we find that it was through his influence that Louis
d'Outremer, the son of Charles the Simple, was restored to the throne
of the Franks. He was also a benefactor of religious foundations,
particularly of the abbey of Malmesbury. Further, he was a lawgiver of
considerable originality, and added a number of excellent statutes to
those of his grandfather. His ordinances are particularly directed to
the enforcement of the system of mutual assurance and association, which
forms a distinctive feature of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence.

Athelstan was succeeded by his brother, who had covered himself with so
much renown at the battle of Brunanburgh.

Edmund was only eighteen years of age when, in A.D. 940, he succeeded
to the crown of his brother, whose activity and vigour had secured to
England for a few years before his death a profound repose. The Welsh
paid their tribute with the utmost regularity; the Danes, who had so
frequently experienced his prowess, desired no better than to remain at
peace; and the unfortunate Anlaff, who, after the defeat of his hopes,
had once more retired to Ireland during the reign of his conqueror, did
not renew his attempts.

No sooner was it known, however, that Athelstan was dead, and a mere
youth upon the throne, than the Danes prepared to revolt. Several years
of fighting followed, but the accounts are so conflicting that it is
almost impossible to harmonise them. According to one version, Anlaff,
who was informed of all that passed, deemed that the time was come for
the prosecution of his claims, and entered into a treaty with Olaf, King
of Norway, for assistance, which being liberally granted, he once more
appeared in his father's kingdom of Northumbria, and obtained possession
of York, the inhabitants opening the gates to him.

This example being followed by most of the neighbouring towns, the
long-exiled prince soon found himself in a position to carry the war into
Mercia, where his countrymen received him as a deliverer, and by their
united efforts many strong places were recovered which Edward had taken
from them.

Edmund, though both young and inexperienced, appears to have inherited
the courage of his race. The success of the enemy, instead of depressing
him, rendered him more eager for battle; he marched at once to the north,
and Anlaff, with equal confidence, advanced to meet him.

A battle was fought between these rival princes near Chester, in which
success was so equally balanced, that it was impossible to say on which
side it preponderated. Then, according to the chronicler Simeon, the
Archbishops of York and Canterbury, to avoid any further effusion of
blood, prevailed upon the parties to make peace. Anlaff was permitted to
retain possession of the kingdom of Northumbria, and the whole country
north of Watling Street.

The Northumbrians had not reason long to rejoice at the restoration of
Anlaff, which they had so ardently desired; for this prince, having
contracted a large debt with the King of Norway for the troops he had
lent him, was anxious to pay it; and to this end laid heavy taxes on the
people, by which he forfeited their affection. The inhabitants of the
ancient kingdom of Deira were the first that revolted, and having sent
for Reginald, his brother Godfrid's son, crowned him king at York.

Reginald was no sooner on the throne, than he armed against his uncle,
who was also preparing to dispossess him. The quarrel between these
two kings incited Edmund to march towards the north at the head of an
army, to appease the troubles there, being apprehensive they might give
occasion to the foreign Danes to return into England. He arrived upon
the borders of Northumbria, when the uncle and nephew, wholly intent
upon their private quarrel, thought of nothing less than repulsing
the English. He probably might with ease have made himself master of
that kingdom; but he was contented with procuring peace between the
two kings, in such a manner that Reginald was to keep the crown he had
lately received; but at the same time, Edmund obliged them both to swear
allegiance to him, and be baptised, himself standing godfather.

This forced peace did not last long, and Edmund had hardly returned into
Wessex, when the two Danish princes took up arms to free themselves from
his yoke, having engaged the Mercian Danes and the King of Cumberland
to espouse their quarrel. Whereupon Edmund immediately marched into
Mercia, and before the Danes there could be joined by the Northumbrians,
took from them the five boroughs, _i.e._ Leicester, Stamford, Derby,
Nottingham, and Lincoln; and then, advancing with the same expedition
towards Northumbria, he surprised the two kings before they had drawn
their forces together. This sudden attack threw the Northumbrians into
such disorder, that their rulers, fearing to fall into the hands of
Edmund, believed it their only refuge to abandon the island, where they
could not possibly remain in safety, so closely were they pursued; and
as their flight deprived the Danes of all hope of withstanding Edmund,
they threw down their arms, and gave him allegiance. According to other
accounts, the attack upon the Mercian Danes is placed earlier in the

Before he returned to Wessex, Edmund resolved to punish the King of
Cumberland, who, without cause, had taken part with the Danes; and he
easily subdued that petty kingdom, whose forces bore no proportion to his
own, and presented it to the King of Scotland, in order to attach him to
his interest, and prevent him from again assisting the Northumbrians;
reserving, however, the sovereignty of it, and obliging that king to do
him homage, and appear at the court of England at the time of the solemn
festivals, if summoned.

Edmund was not wholly employed in military affairs; and some of his
laws still exist which demonstrate how desirous he was of the people's
welfare and happiness. Having observed that pecuniary punishments were
not sufficient to put a stop to robberies, which were generally committed
by people who had nothing to lose, he ordered that, in gangs of robbers,
the oldest of them should be condemned to be hanged.

Probably this prince would have rendered his people happy, had his
reign been longer; but a fatal accident robbed him of his life. On
May 26th, 946, as he was solemnising a festival at Pucklechurch, in
Gloucestershire, Liofa, a notorious robber, though banished the kingdom
for his crimes, had the effrontery to enter and seat himself at one of
the tables in the hall where the king was at dinner. Edmund, enraged at
his insolence, commanded him to be apprehended; but perceiving he was
drawing his dagger to defend himself, leaped up in fury, and, catching
hold of him by the hair, threw him on the ground. Liofa stabbed him in
the breast with his dagger, and the King immediately expired upon the
body of his murderer. Thus died Edmund in 946, in the twenty-fourth year
of his age, and the sixth of his reign. By Elgiva, his wife, he had
two sons, Edwy and Edgar, who did not succeed him, on account of their
minority; Edred, his brother, being placed on the throne by the unanimous
election of the Witena-gemot. His glorious deeds had deservedly gained
for Edmund the title of "Magnificent."

Edred was a mere youth when he succeeded to the crown, a circumstance
which the Northumbrians were not slow to take advantage of, and instantly
attempted to throw off their allegiance; but after a variety of contests
they were ultimately subdued, and Earl Oswulf appointed to govern them.
The last-mentioned personage, who was an Englishman, appears to have
acted with no less vigour than prudence, erecting many strongholds, and
placing efficient garrisons within them, to keep the natives of the
newly-conquered province in subjection. These methods were so efficacious
that Northumbria remained, for a long time tranquil, and the descendants
of Oswulf were earls there for quite a hundred years.

The young king, perfectly master of his own kingdom, and respected by the
Scots, had now time to direct his attention to religious affairs, and
during his brief reign contributed largely to churches and monasteries.
To this course of action he was led by the powerful influence of Dunstan,
one of the most remarkable personages in old English history, and the
first of those great ecclesiastical statesmen who have played a leading
part in the annals of Britain.

Dunstan was born in the year 925, and being of aristocratic family,
rapidly obtained advancement in the Church. By the age of eighteen he had
become abbot of Glastonbury, and from the first proved an extremely able
administrator, restoring the discipline of the monastery, and rebuilding
the great church. His personal character appears to have been morbid and
eccentric, but the stories told concerning him come for the most part
from his enemies, and it is extremely difficult to know what to make of
them. He had been an old playmate of Edred's, and the weak and sickly
king was entirely in his hands. Dunstan by no means confined his activity
to ecclesiastical matters, but took an active part in the war against the
Northumbrian Danes. It was probably on his advice that the country was
bestowed as an earldom on Oswulf. His object here, as elsewhere, was to
allow the smaller kingdoms to maintain their individuality, their own
laws and customs, subject to the leadership of Wessex. Such a policy was
naturally not popular in Wessex, and when Edred, "the Chosen," as he was
called, died in 955, Dunstan was doomed to a period of eclipse.


In 955 the Witena-gemot chose Edwy, the son of Edmund, for their king,
and within a short while Dunstan was banished from the kingdom. As to the
facts of his fall very little is accurately known; indeed, the annals
of the time are so completely under the influence of party spirit,
that it is impossible to make out what is true and what is false. The
partisans of Dunstan represent Edwy as being exceedingly depraved. About
the time of his election he married Ælfgifu, or Elgiva, as the Latin
form of the name was written. It appears that she was within the degrees
prohibited by the church of Rome, and Dunstan's party not only tried to
prevent the marriage, but afterwards spoke of the queen as if she were
Edwy's mistress. According to a well-known story, Edwy on the day of his
coronation retired from the feast at which all the notabilities of the
realm were present to enjoy the society of his bride. Dunstan, angry at
what he considered a slight upon the company, rushed into the apartment
and dragged the king from her. Such conduct is quite possible in the case
of an overbearing man like the abbot, and fully explains any dislike that
the king and queen may have entertained towards him. His fall took place
about 956; and, as far as we can gather, it was effected through his
enemies at Glastonbury, who were angry at the zeal with which he pushed
his reforms.

TRIBUTARY PRINCES. (_See p._ 54.)]

Edwy's triumph was, however, exceedingly brief. In the year 957 all
England north of the Thames rebelled against him, and chose Edgar,
his brother, to be their king. Dunstan, who probably was by no means
unacquainted with what was going on, was immediately recalled, and in a
very short space of time made Bishop of Rochester and of London. In the
following year the Archbishop of Canterbury compelled Edwy to put away
his wife, and in 959 Edwy died. There is a story that the unhappy Ælfgifu
was branded on the forehead, and banished to Ireland; from which place
of exile when she ventured to return, she was seized by her priestly
persecutor and hamstrung, of which outrage she died at Gloucester. This
repellent tale, however, rests on indifferent authority, and can be at
once rejected.

Edwy dying without issue, his brother Edgar was elected as his successor,
and thus united the two kingdoms once more. He was known as the
"Peaceable," and the kingdom enjoyed under him a tranquillity to which
it had long been unaccustomed. Acting with wise foresight he kept up a
large fleet, so that the Danes were not able to land, and we read that he
punished malefactors with great severity.

His chief war was with the Welsh, who refused to pay tribute, and it was
completely successful. William of Malmesbury tells us that Edgar, in
order to free the country from the wolves which infested it, commuted
the tribute of the Welsh into three hundred wolves' heads, and granted
a pardon to criminals on condition that each one within a given time
brought in a certain number. In three years, he continues, the tribute
was remitted because no more wolves were to be found; a statement which
it is impossible to believe, as wolves were plentiful in England and
Wales for many a year afterwards. He also broke up Northumberland into
the old divisions of Bernicia and Deira, and granted Lothian to Kenneth,
King of the Scots, to be held by him in homage. It was after this that
the Scottish kings came to live in the south of their kingdom, and made
Edinburgh its capital.

For some reason Edgar was not crowned until he had reigned thirteen
years. Shortly after the ceremony he visited Chester, and it is
said--though the incident is possibly of a legendary character--that he
was rowed on the Dee from the city to the minster of St. John by his
eight vassal kings, Kenneth of Scotland, Malcolm of Cumberland, Maccus of
the Isles, and five Welsh princes.

Edgar continued to give Dunstan fresh marks of esteem, and his regard for
him was strengthened by the miracles attributed to him. After the death
of Athelm, who held the see of Canterbury, Odo, by birth a Dane, was made
archbishop; and to him succeeded Elfsige, who died as he was going to
Rome for his pall, in the beginning of Edgar's reign. Brithelm, Bishop
of Bath, was elected to the vacant see; but Edgar, being desirous of
making Dunstan archbishop, called a general council, where he represented
Brithelm as unqualified for so great a station; whereupon he was ordered
to return to his old diocese, and Dunstan was chosen in his place. This
election not being perfectly canonical, it was deemed necessary that
Dunstan should go to Rome, on pretence of receiving his pall, and at the
same time justify these proceedings. The Pope, who was perfectly aware
how extensive the influence of Dunstan was at the court of England, and
who was gratified by the zeal with which he had espoused the interest
of the Church of Rome and of the monks, readily confirmed his election,
constituting him at the same time his legate in England, with most
extensive powers.

In justification of this remarkable man's favourite project of removing
the secular clergy from their benefices and supplying their places by
the monks, it is enough to say that the former, as a body, had become
fearfully corrupt; that luxury, gluttony, avarice, and lust reigned
amongst them. Dunstan caused a council of the Church to be held, at which
Edgar assisted in person, and made a remarkable oration, which is both
curious and interesting as a picture of the corruptions of the clergy of
the time, and his subserviency to the views of Dunstan. This harangue,
which was most probably written by Dunstan himself, had the desired
effect. The three bishops, Dunstan, Ethelwald of Winchester, and Oswald
of York, expelled the secular priests, and gave their benefices to the
monks, the objects of the king's and archbishop's favour. In many cases,
however, expulsion was unnecessary, so depopulated were all the livings
through the Danish massacres; and though the celibacy of the clergy which
Dunstan enforced was not altogether a step in the right direction, there
can be no doubt that the times called for drastic remedies. Nor was the
restoration of monasticism the only reform that Dunstan had at heart.
"He was," says Bishop Stubbs, "the prime minister, perhaps the inspirer
of the consolidating policy of Edgar; he restored through the monastic
revival the intercourse between the English church and that of France,
and established a more intimate communication with the Apostolic See;
in so doing he did what could be done to restore piety and learning.
Under his influence the Mercian bishoprics again lift up their heads:
the archbishops henceforth go to Rome for their palls: the Frank writers
begin to record the lives of the English saints."

The monks were bound in gratitude to make a suitable return for the
service Edgar had done them; and, accordingly, their historians have
endeavoured, by their excessive commendations, to make him pass for a
real saint. But whether from want of attention, or some other reason,
they have related some particulars of his life which certainly do not
tend to sustain that idea of him. If, indeed, his political actions are
only considered, it must be confessed he was a great prince; but a great
king and a great saint are two very different characters.

Edgar died in 975, in the thirty-second year of his age. He was
afterwards canonised, and miracles are said to have been worked at his

He left two sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Edward, was the son
of Elfleda, surnamed "The Fair," and he was supported by Dunstan; his
opponent, who had a large following, was his half-brother Ethelred,
the son of Edgar's second wife, Elfrida. The Archbishop, however, in
the Witena-gemot promptly and bravely took Edward by the hand, led him
towards the church, attended by the other bishops and a crowd of people,
and anointed the young prince king, without regarding the opposition of
the party against him. The nobles deplored their falling once more under
the government of that imperious prelate; but, seeing the people ready to
support him, they were compelled to submit.

Edward was but fourteen years old when he began to reign under the
guardianship of Dunstan, who immediately took all the power into his
hands; and, as soon as he was fixed in the regency, exerted every
possible means to maintain the monks in possession of the benefices they
had acquired in the last reign, and made use of the king's authority
to that end. But he met with more opposition than he contemplated, for
as the king was but a minor, the orders given in his name were not
so readily complied with. Dunstan assembled several councils about
this affair; but most probably all his endeavours would have proved
ineffectual, if, by means of several miracles, which were never wanting
when requisite, he had not brought the people to believe that Heaven
interposed on his behalf.

In one of these councils held at Winchester, the majority being against
the monks, they would have infallibly lost their cause, if, on a sudden,
a crucifix that hung aloft in the room had not pronounced these words
with an audible voice: "It shall not be done; it shall not be done. You
have decided the matter well hitherto, and would be to blame to change."
Astonished at this oracle, the most obstinate immediately voted for
the monks. It is likely that this trick was accomplished by a skilled

The dispute between the regular and secular clergy gave rise to keen
contentions in the kingdom, many of the nobility bitterly resenting the
induction of the monks into the benefices. At last a synod was called at
Calne, at which Archbishop Dunstan presided. The assembly had not long
been met before the floor of the apartment gave way--the only portion
which remained intact being the beams which supported the chair of the
primate, whose preservation was regarded as a miracle by the common
people and the party who acted with him. After such a manifestation of
the divine will, for such it was considered, all further opposition
ceased; the principal opponents of the measure having perished. A shrewd
suspicion has been entertained that Dunstan knew beforehand what was
about to occur, even if he had not secretly prepared the catastrophe,
seeing that he had warned the king not to be present at the meeting.

The most remarkable circumstance attending Edward was his death, which
took place on the 18th of March, 978, after a reign of three years. He
had been hunting in the neighbourhood of Corfe Castle, the residence
of his step-mother Elfrida, and resolved to pay her a visit. The queen
hastened to receive him, and pressed him earnestly to alight; this the
prince, who most probably had good reasons to suspect her feelings
towards him, declined, observing that he had merely time to accept a
draught of wine. In the act of drinking it, he was stabbed in the back
by an assassin whom Elfrida had bribed to commit the crime which was to
elevate her son Ethelred to the throne.

[Illustration: ASSASSINATION OF EDWARD THE MARTYR. (_See p._ 56.)]

Finding himself wounded, the youthful monarch set spurs to his horse and
fled; but, fainting from loss of blood, fell, and perished miserably. The
parties sent after him by the murderess easily traced the route he had
taken by the track of blood. The body was brought back to Corfe Castle
and thrown into a well, where it was afterwards found, and removed first
to Wareham and afterwards to Shaftesbury, where it was interred in a
church founded by King Alfred.

Shortly after his death the monks spread the report that miracles were
worked at his tomb; the blind were said to have received their sight, the
lame to have recovered the use of their limbs. Elfrida, to atone for her
crime, founded two convents, to one of which, at Andover, she retired,
and passed the rest of her days in penitence. Edward was canonised by the
Roman Church, and is generally known as St. Edward the Martyr.

(_From Harleian MSS._ 603.)]



     The Retirement of Dunstan--Character of Ethelred--Sweyn in
     Denmark--Character of the Invasions and the Resistance--The
     Danegeld--The Arrival of Sweyn--Ethelred's Expedition--The
     Massacre of St. Brice's Day--Return of Sweyn--Defeats of the
     English--Edric Streona--Failure of the English Fleet--Treacheries
     of Edric--Death of St. Alphege--Sweyn's Conquest of
     England and his Death--Return of Ethelred and Departure of
     Canute--Misgovernment of the King--Canute's Return and the Death
     of Ethelred.

On the death of Edward, his half-brother Ethelred was elected by the
Witena-gemot, much to the dislike of Dunstan, who, it is said, foretold
how disastrous the new reign would be. And now the great prelate's
active career came to an end. His enemies had of late years been rapidly
growing in strength, and it only needed the accession of a king who was
unfriendly towards him to cause him to retire to his diocese. There he
spent the remainder of his life (he died in 988), occupying his time in
administering its affairs, and in cultivating literature and art. Faults
he may have had of disposition and temper; but a careful investigation
of the facts of his life would appear to prove that, although he
made mistakes more than once, his career as a whole was eminent for
statesmanship, and resulted in benefit to his country.

Bereft of his guiding hand, the kingdom was soon in a miserable plight.
Even Dunstan would have found it difficult to keep the ship from sinking,
and Ethelred was utterly unfit for such a task. His character shows no
redeeming features; he was weak, cowardly, and revengeful; whenever he
made an effort it was too late or in the wrong direction. He surrounded
himself with foreign favourites on whose advice he trusted, and sought
to oppose the Danish invaders, not by organising armies, but by marriage
alliances and diplomacy.

The third period of the Danish invasions begins in this reign; when the
Danes proceed to conquer England for their own. The reason why the old
enemy now became particularly formidable is to be sought in the changes
which were taking place in the north of Europe. There Denmark had become
a formidable monarchy in close alliance with Norway and Sweden. For the
first ten years of Ethelred's reign, however, it was not in a position
to become aggressive, owing to the struggle that was going on between
Harold Bluetooth and his son Sweyn. This terminated in the triumph of the
latter, who drove out his father and re-established idolatry throughout
the land. Having made himself supreme in Denmark, Sweyn determined to add
England to his dominions.

It was owing to the fact that Denmark was divided by a struggle for the
throne, that for the first ten years of the reign the descents upon
England were of an intermittent character; nevertheless, they were
extremely harassing, seeing that the English had not only an enormous
extent of coast to guard, but never knew the exact spot at which their
enemies would land.

Frequently when their army was in one part of the kingdom the invaders
would debark at another, and before it could march to the place
threatened, the barbarians would collect their booty and retire to their
ships. The only efficient remedy for these misfortunes would have been
to equip a powerful fleet, so as to have encountered the Danes at sea;
but the youth and inexperience of the king prevented such a step, and the
island was exposed, in consequence, to outrage, murder, and pillage.

Ethelred's efforts to stop these raids seem to have been inadequate,
and he made matters worse by quarrelling with his great men. He had
some dispute with the Bishop of Rochester, and proceeded to ravage his
lands, oblivious of the fact that a disunited realm would fall an easy
prey to a determined invader. All the English, however, were not equally
unpatriotic; for when, in 991, the Danes, headed by two brothers, Justin
and Guthmund, with whom was Olaf, the king of the Norwegians, invaded the
country and plundered Ipswich, and then went into Essex, they were met at
Maldon by Byrhtnoth, the alderman of the East Saxons. In the battle which
followed, the alderman was slain, after a very brave resistance, and a
fine old-English song was written about the fight, the greater part of
which is still extant.

In spite of this bold, spirited conduct on the part of the English hosts,
which showed that the nation had plenty of valour left in it, Ethelred
began in this year the craven and short-sighted practice of buying off
the Danes. For this purpose a tax, called the Danegeld, was levied,
probably on cultivated lands, and was continued on one pretext or another
long after the occasion for it had passed away. The first bribe paid to
the Danes amounted to ten thousand pounds, and it obviously acted only as
a further incentive to the rapacious hordes.

Gradually the hopes of the English grew very faint indeed, and we begin
to hear of treachery and of battles converted into defeats by desertions
to the enemy. At last, in 994, Sweyn himself appeared, accompanied by
Olaf of Norway. The two kings, with a powerful fleet, sailed up the
Thames, with the intention of making themselves masters of London. The
courageous resistance of the inhabitants, however, obliged them to retire
without obtaining possession of the city.

Determined not to be disappointed in the chief object of their
expedition, which was plunder, the two Danish kings directed their troops
into the interior of the island, levying contributions in Kent, Sussex,
and Hampshire. The sufferings of the inhabitants became intolerable.

Ethelred once more had recourse to money, and promised the enemy a
large sum, on condition that they ceased their cruelties and quitted the
kingdom: the offer was accepted. The weak, cowardly monarch afterwards
received the King of Norway as a friend and ally. Olaf quitted the
country after taking an oath, which he kept, never to come back any more.

His colleague, Sweyn, had formed far different projects. When he returned
home, he left his fleet at Southampton to keep the English in awe; and
also to receive the payment of the money promised. No sooner had he taken
his departure than his admiral became impatient for the tribute.

So matters went on until the year 1000, the Danes making descents upon
all parts of the coast, and defeating such bodies of Englishmen as
ventured in the field against them. Ethelred meanwhile did nothing to
help his unfortunate subjects. He even allowed his forces to harry and
oppress them. And as if the Danes were not enough to occupy him, he
actually made an abortive expedition against the King of Cumberland,
because he refused to pay the Danegeld, and even sent a fleet to harry
the lands of Richard the Good of Normandy because he received Danish
ships in his ports. The English were driven away ignominiously, and
Ethelred shortly afterwards made peace with Richard, and in 1002 married
his sister Emma, called the Pearl of Normandy on account of her beauty.

In 1001 the Danes invaded Devonshire, but were driven off from Exeter,
and defeated at Pinhoe; nevertheless, they gained much booty, and ravaged
the southern coast until they were bought off once more with a large sum
of money. Suddenly Ethelred bethought himself of a device by which he
might, at one blow, rid himself of a great portion of his opponents. As
might be expected of a weak prince, his project was a cruel one, being
neither more nor less than the massacre of all the Danes who had remained
behind in England. To carry out this barbarous as well as useless policy,
a vast conspiracy was entered into; and on the 13th of November, St.
Brice's day, 1002, all the invaders were put to death, with circumstances
of the most shocking barbarity.

The sister of Sweyn was not spared. Her name was Gunilda, and she is said
to have been married to a noble Dane settled in England, named Pallig.
Being a Christian, she had exerted all her influence with her brother to
bring about the peace. Her children were first murdered in her presence,
and their unhappy mother was afterwards slain.

Sweyn received the news of this massacre from some Danes, who succeeded
in getting on board a vessel ready to sail for Denmark. Their relation
of the cruelties of the English to those of his nation would have been
sufficient to arouse him; but when informed of his sister's barbarous
murder, he was seized with all the rage that such a crime was likely to
excite in a vindictive nature. He solemnly swore he would never rest till
he had revenged the atrocious outrage. It was not, therefore, with intent
to plunder that he made a second expedition into England, but to destroy
the whole country with fire and sword. However, as he did not doubt that
Ethelred would take precautions to oppose his entrance, he would not sail
without securing a place where he might safely land his troops. Exeter
was then governed by a Norman, Hugh, placed in that important trust by
the influence of the queen, in full confidence that, as her countryman,
her husband might rely on his devotion and fidelity.

To this man Sweyn secretly despatched an emissary, with the offer of a
great reward, provided he would assist him in his enterprise. The traitor
yielded to the temptation, and allowed not only the fleet of the invader
to enter his ports, but the Danes to land without offering the least

After debarking his forces, Sweyn marched them to Exeter, and as the
first-fruits of his vengeance not only massacred the inhabitants, but
after plundering the city broke down its wall. Wherever the furious
monarch led his army the same cruelties were repeated; submission was
useless, for he knew not the meaning of the word "mercy."

He then appeared in Wiltshire, where the people were prepared to meet
him. But they had a traitor in command, who pretended to be ill, and so
the English levies dispersed. Sweyn, therefore, burnt some of the chief
towns, and then sailed homewards for the winter.

Early the next year, however, he returned, landing, it is supposed, at
Yarmouth, and took the city of Norwich, which he burned to the ground.
Ulfcytel, the alderman of the East Angles, gave him an immense sum of
money to induce him to spare that part of the country from any further
ravages. Regardless of his promises, the invader had no sooner received
the tribute than he attacked Thetford, and destroyed it; which breach of
faith so incensed Ulfcytel, that he collected as many troops as possible,
and posted himself between the invaders and the fleet, in the hope of
cutting them off. The Danish king marched back to give him battle,
and the English were beaten, after a severe contest. The Danes were
afterwards driven from England by famine.

At the termination of the scarcity, another expedition of the enemy
landed at Sandwich, in Kent, and Ethelred levied an army to oppose them;
on hearing which, the Danes retreated to the Isle of Thanet, well knowing
that the English, who served at their own expense, would soon disperse.
The event proved that their calculation was a just one; tired of waiting
for an enemy who refused to come from their stronghold, the soldiers of
Ethelred quickly melted away, and the unlucky king procured a peace only
upon the payment of £36,000.

Ethelred, on their departure, gave one of his daughters in marriage to
Edric, surnamed Streona (the gainer), the instigator of the massacre of
St. Brice's Day, whom he had lately created Alderman of Mercia; but his
new son-in-law, instead of assisting him, as he had a right to expect,
leagued with the Danes, and betrayed the kingdom on every occasion. The
year after the treaty, the Danish king demanded a similar sum of £36,000,
pretending that it was a yearly tribute which the English had agreed
to pay. Ethelred, by the advice of his council, employed the money in
fitting out a powerful fleet, the command of which was given to Brihric,
the brother of the new Alderman of Mercia. This measure obliged the enemy
to retire.

Brihric was no sooner in command than he used his authority to ruin
Wulfnoth, a noble who was his enemy, and began to accuse him of crimes to
the king, who lent but too willing an ear to his rival. Finding his ruin
determined upon, Wulfnoth persuaded nine of the captains of the fleet to
put to sea with him, which they did, plundering the English coasts and
committing fearful ravages. The admiral, incensed at his escape, set out
with eighty ships to give him chase; but a terrible storm arising, he
lost a great part of them, and the rest fell into the hands of Wulfnoth.
Thus was the fleet which should have been the safeguard of the kingdom
lost and destroyed.

Taking advantage of this state of affairs, the Danes, who had their spies
both in the court and country of England, prepared another expedition.
Two fleets arrived in the kingdom--one in East Anglia, under Thurkill;
and the second in the Isle of Thanet, commanded by two leaders, Heming
and Eglaf. They attacked the city of Canterbury, and would, doubtless,
have destroyed it, had not the inhabitants ransomed it at an enormous

Whilst the Danes were pillaging Kent, Ethelred drew an army together to
oppose their ravages; and as soon as he was ready, he posted himself
between them and their ships to prevent them from embarking and carrying
off their booty. Probably he might have executed his project, and
gained much advantage, considering the superiority of his forces, if
Edric had not found means to relieve the Danes. The traitor, perceiving
their danger, represented to the king, his father-in-law, that it would
be more prudent to let them retire, than hazard a battle, which might
prove fatal to him; and this pernicious advice made such impression on
the weak-minded monarch, that he suffered the Danes to depart with all
their plunder, unmolested. But instead of sailing for Denmark, as it was
expected, they threw themselves into the Isle of Thanet; from which,
during the whole winter, they made incursions into the neighbouring
counties, and even made several attempts upon London; in which, however,
they were always repulsed. During this period, Ulfcytel of East Anglia,
willing once more to try the fortune of a battle in the defence of his
territory, had the misfortune to be overthrown.

Hitherto the Danes had wanted cavalry, on account of the difficulty of
transporting horses from Denmark; but as soon as they were in possession
of East Anglia, which abounded with horses, they mounted part of their
troops, and by that means extended their conquests. Shortly after, they
subdued Essex, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire,
Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire, Kent,
Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Devonshire, whilst Ethelred,
who had scarce anything left, kept himself shut up in London, not daring
to take the field and stop their progress. In all the above-named
counties, London and Canterbury were the only places in the king's power.
But at length the last was attacked so vigorously that it was captured,
plundered, and reduced to ashes; and Alphege, the archbishop, being taken
prisoner, was afterwards murdered by these barbarians at Greenwich, to
which place, the station of their ships, they had brought him.

In the old church of Greenwich, on the top of the partition wall between
the nave and the chancel, was formerly the following inscription: "This
church was erected and dedicated to the glory of God, and the memory
of St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, here slain by the Danes,
because he would not ransom his life by an unreasonable sum of money,
An. 1012." He was first buried at St. Paul's in London, and afterwards
removed to Canterbury. He was honoured as a martyr, and stands in the
Roman Martyrology on the 19th of April. The money, £8,000, being paid,
the greater part of the Danish fleet dispersed.

In 1013, however, Sweyn returned, and proceeded to conquer the whole of
England. He began from the north-east, and soon the Danish settlements
had submitted to him, and their example was followed by all the English
to the north of Watling Street. Mercia was forced to yield after it
had been cruelly ravaged, and then the Danish warrior took Oxford and
Winchester, the chief towns of the old kingdom of Wessex. Leaving his
son Canute with the fleet, he on a sudden laid siege to London, where
Ethelred was shut up. Though he was but ill provided with necessaries
to besiege in form a place of such importance, he imagined the citizens
would be terrified at his menaces; but finding they were not moved by
them he desisted from his enterprise, and passed on and ravaged the
western parts of Wessex, where he found no opposition to his arms.
However, as he could not be satisfied whilst London was out of his power,
he resolved to besiege it once more; but whilst he was preparing for
the siege with greater precaution than before, he had information of
Ethelred's departure from thence. This worthless prince, ever dreading to
fall into the hands of an enemy he had so cruelly injured, and perceiving
himself unsafe in England, retired into Normandy with all his family,
upon which the Londoners resolved to submit to the King of Denmark, to
whom all the rest of the kingdom was now subject; and now Sweyn was
looked upon as King of England without any opposition, no one in the
kingdom daring to dispute his title.

It does not appear that Sweyn was ever crowned. His first act of
sovereignty was to levy a heavy tax to pay his Danish troops, by whose
assistance he had conquered England. But at any rate his reign was
exceedingly brief, for he died in 1014. Some writers say that he was
poisoned, others that he died of a cold, while a third set declare that
he was killed by the apparition of St. Edmund, formerly King of East
Anglia, armed with a lance, in order to save the town and monastery in
which his canonised bones lay from being plundered by the invaders. This
is only a legendary version of what was probably a fact, that shortly
before his death Sweyn had contemplated an attack on the town of Bury St.

[Illustration: MARTYRDOM OF ALPHEGE. (_See p._ 60.)]

On the death of Sweyn, Canute, his son, was proclaimed king; but their
common danger had given something like energy and combination to the
councils of the English. They recalled Ethelred from his exile in
Normandy, and pledged themselves to support him on the throne against the
Danes, whose government was arbitrary, cruel, and oppressive.

Ethelred at first was unwilling to trust to their promises, being
apprehensive of a design to deliver him into the hands of his enemies;
but being encouraged by the reception met with by his son, whom he had
sent before to sound the people's inclinations, he returned to England,
and was welcomed with every demonstration of joy; and his subjects
swore allegiance to him again, as if he had begun a new reign, his
flight being considered as a sort of abdication of the crown. He, on
his part, promised to reform whatever was amiss; and the eagerness of
the English to throw off a foreign yoke, made them flock to the king
with such zeal and haste that he soon found himself at the head of a
powerful army. His first expedition plainly showed his misfortunes had
made no alteration in him; for instead of marching against the Danes,
he employed his forces to be revenged on the men of Lindsey--one of the
three divisions of Lincolnshire; the other two being named Holland and
Kesteven. The inhabitants of the first-named division, it appeared, had
provided the Danes with horses, and had also offered to join them. After
Ethelred had punished these traitors, he prepared to march and fight the
enemy, who little expected so sudden a revolution. Although Canute was
undoubtedly a great prince, and had the same forces his father Sweyn had
conquered England with, he did not think fit to hazard a battle; but, on
the contrary, before Ethelred was advanced near enough to oblige him to
fight, he led his troops to the sea-side, and embarking them, set sail
for Denmark. Before his departure, he ordered the hands, noses, and ears
of the hostages he had in his power to be cut off, leaving them thus
mangled on the shore.

As soon as Ethelred found himself freed from the Danes, he took no heed
of his promise to his subjects, but on the contrary resumed his old
maxims, and imposed, on various pretences, excessive taxes, which raised
much murmuring among the nobles and people. To these causes for public
discontent he added others of a more private nature, which destroyed all
the hopes entertained of his amendment. Morkar and Sifforth, the chief
men of the five Danish boroughs, were sacrificed to his avarice. To
draw these two earls into his power, the king convened the Witena-gemot
at Oxford, where he caused them to be murdered, and then seized their
estates, as if they had been condemned by the common forms of justice.
Algitha, widow of Sifforth, was shut up in a monastery, to which
circumstance she was indebted for her later good fortune; for Edmund, the
king's eldest son, passing that way some time after, was desirous to see
one so renowned for her beauty, and fell so desperately in love with her,
that he married her even against his father's consent.

The calm enjoyed by England lasted only a year, for in 1015 Canute came
again. Edward being sick, his brave son Edmund, called Ironside for his
deeds of valour, and Edric Streona were sent against the enemy with two
armies gathered from the north and south of England. Edric, however, true
to his previous villainies, first attempted to murder the gallant youth,
and then went over to Canute with a considerable body of troops and forty
ships of war. Edmund retired northward, leaving Canute in possession of

The next year was the last of this disastrous reign. There was much
resultless fighting in which Ethelred refused to support his son, because
there were traitors in the English camp. Gradually the area of war moved
northwards, and Canute entered York, placing his own earl, Eric the Dane,
over the Northumbrians. (We find that the Danish title of earl now begins
to supplant that of alderman, which had been used by the English for
the military governor of a shire.) Edmund thereupon gave up the useless
struggle, and joined his father in London. He had not long been there
when the king died, in 1016, at the early age of forty-eight, having done
all that a false and incapable man could, during the reign, to bring the
nation to ruin.



     A Double Election--Battles of Pen Selwood and
     Sherstone--Treacheries of Edric--Division of the Kingdom--Death
     of Edmund--Election of Canute--His Treatment of his Rivals--The
     Four Earldoms--Canute's Marriage with Emma--His Popular
     Government--His Expeditions to Northern Europe--Submission of the
     King of Scots--Canute at Rome--The Story of his Rebuke to his
     Courtiers--His Death.

Immediately on the death of Ethelred, his son Edmund, who had given so
many proofs of courage and devotion to this unhappy country, was elected
king by the citizens of London. But most of the chief men of the kingdom,
weary of the war, elected Canute, and joined him at Southampton, where
they swore allegiance to him. Thus there were two kings in England, and
of the two Edmund had a great advantage in being the holder of London.

This city the Danish monarch felt it necessary to possess; and in the
absence of the new king, who was gathering troops in Wessex, he laid
siege to it with a very considerable force; but the citizens defended
themselves so well, that Canute broke up the siege and went back into
Wessex in search of Edmund.

Both parties were impatient to decide their claims by battle. The armies
met at Pen Selwood, where the English gained a victory. After which a
second battle took place at Sherstone, in Wiltshire, and so obstinately
was it contested that neither side could claim the victory, although the
English, it is recorded, were nearly being defeated by the cunning of
Edric Streona, who fought on the side of the Danes. Perceiving that the
English troops fought with such desperate courage, he cut off the head of
Osmer, a soldier who so resembled Edmund that he might easily have been
mistaken for him. Placing the bleeding head upon his lance, he advanced
with it to the front of the English army, and exclaimed, "Fly, English,
fly! Edmund is dead." This stratagem had nearly succeeded; the soldiers
of Edmund began to waver, on seeing which the king threw aside his helmet
and rode bareheaded through the ranks, when he was received with cheers
of delight.

The battle lasted till night, without any decisive advantage on either
side. In the morning Edmund intended to renew the battle, but Canute, who
had other intentions, retired to his ships and set sail, hastily landed
his forces, and besieged London a second time with no better success than
the first.

As soon as Edric saw that Canute's fortunes were on the decline, he
changed sides again, and Edmund, yielding to the extraordinary influence
which this villain appears to have possessed, admitted him into his
confidence. He soon had to rue his folly, for after winning three battles
against the Danes, and freeing London of their presence, Edmund would
have utterly overthrown them at Otford had not the advice of Edric
dissuaded him from continuing the pursuit. His pretext was that, if
hardly pressed, despair might cause them to rally, and convert defeat
into victory. Perhaps his idea was to weary out both sides, and so
establish himself upon the ruins of their power.

A fifth battle was accordingly fought at Ashdon, in Essex, and here Edric
once more acted the part of a traitor, for perceiving that the Danes
were being put to flight, he drew off his men, and Canute finally won
a crushing victory, slaying many of the chief men on the side of the
English. It is hard to believe that his conduct on this occasion can
have been as openly base as the chroniclers represent it, for we find
that he is still trusted by the king, who, undaunted by his previous
disasters, prepared to renew the conflict yet a sixth time. The two
armies, therefore, confronted one another yet again, but no battle took
place. A famous story is told concerning the two kings on this occasion,
but it is not found in the more trustworthy accounts. It is said that
Edmund proposed that they should decide their claims to the crown in
single combat; an offer which his rival declined, under the plea that he
was small of stature and of a sickly constitution; but added that, if the
English king wished to avoid the effusion of blood, he was quite willing
to consent to a division of the kingdom.

The more probable account of what occurred is that Edric Streona
persuaded Edmund that it would be unwise to risk another battle, and that
he had better agree to a partition of the kingdom. Anyhow, no battle was
fought, and the two kings met on the island of Olney, in the Severn,
and agreed that Edmund should be over-king, and should possess Wessex,
Essex, and East Anglia, with London, while Canute should have Mercia and
Northumberland. As Professor Freeman points out, the division differed
from that made between Alfred and Guthrum, for Edmund gave to Canute all
that part of Mercia which Alfred had kept, while he retained East Anglia
and Essex, which by the old partition had belonged to Guthrum.

OLNEY. (_See p._ 63.)]

Edmund did not live to enjoy the rest he had won so dearly for many
weeks, for on St. Andrew's Day, 1017, he died, and his death, like other
unexpected events of the period, was attributed to Edric Streona. Upon
this point, however, nothing can be asserted with safety, despite the
circumstantial accounts of the chroniclers. Edmund had reigned only seven
months, but in that brief space he had proved himself a very different
man to his father.

On the death of Edmund Ironside, Canute's position in England was
naturally much stronger than when he was maintaining an obstinate contest
with the brave English king. Edmund's children were very young, and their
claims were not to be entertained when it was of the utmost importance
to have a man of courage and resource at the head of affairs. There
was, however, a formidable competitor in Edwy, the late king's brother,
who was much beloved by the people. But the Witena-gemot, weary of the
contest for the kingdom, was convened at London, and Canute was chosen
king over all England. It is said that in order to weaken the claims of
his rivals he exacted from the assembly a promise that none of Edmund's
sons or brothers should be king, and they even advised that Edwy should
be outlawed. The pretext for this exclusion was that no mention had been
made of the members of the line of Wessex in the treaty between Canute
and Edmund.

Edwy was outlawed in 1017, and shortly afterwards died, murdered
apparently by order of Canute, although there is another story that
an unsuccessful attempt at his assassination was made shortly before
his outlawry. In any case he disappears from history. The children of
Ethelred and Emma were in Normandy with their mother. Edmund's two sons,
Edward and Edmund, were sent to the King of Sweden, with secret orders,
it is said, that they should be put to death. But Olaf, though placed
in an embarrassing position by this infamous request, resolved to spare
them. However, to avoid being drawn into war with his powerful neighbour
he in his turn sent them to Stephen, King of Hungary, to be educated at
his court. There Edmund died young; but Edward lived and married Agatha,
the niece of Stephen's queen. She bore him Edgar Atheling, of whom we
shall hear again, and Margaret, who afterwards became Queen of the Scots.

Canute, having rid himself of his rivals, divided England into four
parts, keeping Wessex under his immediate rule, making Danes the Earls of
East Anglia and Northumberland, and giving Mercia to Edric Streona. But
he speedily caused Edric to be put to death, "and very rightly too," says
the Chronicle, because no doubt he feared to have such a perfidious man
among his chief men and Edric's body was thrown into the Thames. These
earldoms continued until the Conquest, and their holders played a great
part in the history of the subsequent reigns. It is remarkable that this
arrangement of the government of the kingdom was very much in agreement
with the policy of Dunstan.

In the same year Canute put away his Danish wife and contracted an
alliance of a very wise character if regarded as a measure of precaution.
Alfred and Edward, Ethelred's sons, were still a source of anxiety to
him, and a quarrel was, above all things, to be avoided with Richard
Duke of Normandy. In order to acquire the friendship of the duke, he
paid addresses to Queen Emma, the widow of Ethelred, and the curious
marriage was concluded. It is said, but the story is probably without
foundation, that she made him promise that the crown of England should go
to the issue of her second marriage, to the exclusion of her children by
Ethelred and of Canute's two sons.

Canute was an admirable ruler, although we find him, in 1018, laying a
very heavy tax upon the kingdom, especially in London, which, it will be
remembered, had held out so bravely for Ethelred. The money, however,
which amounted to £83,000, was used for a good purpose, namely, to
pay off the Danish fleet. With the fleet departed the larger part of
the Danish army, a bodyguard remaining which was known as the King's
_House-carls_, and which formed a little standing army. Canute had
doubtless seen that the English national levies were not to be relied
upon at a pinch, and wished to have a trusty force with which to oppose
a sudden invasion.

Having thus established himself upon the throne, he proceeded to rule
England by the English and for the English. The chief Danes were banished
from the kingdom, or put to death one by one, and their places were
taken by Englishmen. Leofric became Earl of Mercia in the room of Edric
Streona, and the famous Godwin was made Earl of Wessex, which the king no
longer kept under his special care. He also renewed the English laws and
customs, King Edgar's laws, as they were called, and made no distinction
between Dane and Englishman in the administration of justice. He sought
also to gain the favour of the people by religious foundations, by gifts
to monasteries and churches, by doing reverence to the saints and holy
places they revered, by preferring the churchmen they honoured, and by
many other gracious acts. A very politic proceeding was his translation
of the bones of St. Alphege from Greenwich to Canterbury, by which he
sought to bury the bitter memories of the past.

But though Canute spent most of his time in England, and valued his
English possessions more than any other of his lands, he was during
the greater part of his reign occupied in foreign wars with the object
of building up a grand empire in northern Europe. It was in the first
of these wars that Earl Godwin gained his confidence. In 1019, Canute
having settled his power beyond all danger of a revolution, made a voyage
to Denmark, in order to make a campaign against the King of Sweden;
and he carried along with him a large body of the English, under the
command of Earl Godwin. The Earl was stationed next the Swedish camp;
and observing a favourable opportunity, which he was obliged suddenly
to seize, he attacked the enemy in the night, drove them from their
trenches, threw them into disorder, pursued his advantage, and obtained
a decisive victory over them. Next morning, Canute, seeing the English
camp abandoned, imagined that those disaffected troops had deserted to
the enemy: he was agreeably surprised to find that they were at that time
engaged in pursuit of the discomfited Swedes. He was so pleased with this
success, and with the manner of obtaining it, that he bestowed his niece
in marriage on Godwin, and treated him ever after with entire confidence
and regard.

The wars with Sweden terminated in the submission of that kingdom to
Canute as over-king, and in 1028 he attacked Norway, and drove the just,
but unwarlike Olaf from the land. Canute was thus ruler over Denmark,
Sweden, and Norway, and none of the English kings, either before or since
his time, have ever been rulers over so large a portion of Europe.

It was not likely that so powerful a monarch would tolerate the existence
of an independent kingdom to the north of England, and Malcolm of
Scotland forced an issue by invading Northumberland at the beginning of
the reign. In 1031, therefore, Canute found occasion to approach the
Scottish frontier with a powerful army. The King of Scots had no choice
but to submit, and acknowledge Canute as his lord, and his nephew,
Duncan, did homage for Cumberland at the same time. Duncan is well known
to us through Shakespeare's play, and it is remarkable that among the
under-kings who did homage to Canute was a certain Mælboethe, who is
doubtless identical with Macbeth.

Meanwhile England was at peace, in spite of a threatened invasion from
Normandy in 1028, which was driven back by storms in the Channel. Canute,
despite the crimes which had stained his earlier career, was developing
more and more into an admirable monarch and good man. In 1027 he made a
pilgrimage to Rome, and wrote from thence a letter to the English people
full of penitence for his past misdeeds, promises for the future, and
much elevated moral sentiment.

In particular he ordered the royal officers to do justice to all men
of whatever estate, and not to exact money wrongfully under pretext of
the royal necessities. "I have no need," he says, "of money gathered
by unrighteousness." There is also a famous story told of him by Henry
of Huntingdon, which shows that he was not blinded by the greatness of
his position, but estimated his authority at its true value. He was
at Southampton; and there, in answer probably to some over-charged
flatteries from his courtiers, bade a chair be placed at the water's
edge, challenging the sea at the same time to wet the feet of him whose
ships sailed over it, and against whose land it dashed. The tide came
rushing in, and soon it had wetted the feet and clothes of the king. Then
he turned to his followers and said, "Behold how feeble is the power of
kings and of men, for the waves will not hear my voice. Honour the Lord
only, and serve him, for to him all things give obedience."

Men lived hard in those days, and the span of life was short, for when
Canute died, in 1035, he was only forty years old.



     Harold and Harthacanute--The Murder of Alfred--Accession of
     Harthacanute--His Reconciliation with Godwin--The Punishment
     of Worcester--Edward the Confessor--His Election--Influx of
     Normans--The Family of Godwin--Conduct of Sweyn--The Outbreak at
     Dover--Godwin's Rebellion and Outlawry--William of Normandy's
     Visit to England--Godwin's Attempt to Return--His Appearance
     in the Thames--His Restoration to Power--Death of Godwin--His
     Place taken by Harold--Siward's Invasion of Scotland and his
     Death--Death of Leofric and Punishment of Ælfgar--Church Building
     of Harold and Edward--Harold's Conquest of Wales--Turbulence of
     Tostig--Death of the Atheling Edward--Candidature of Harold.

By the death of Canute the prospect of a disputed succession was
opened up once more. By his second marriage he had issue one son,
named Harthacanute; by the first, two, named Sweyn and Harold; but
the parentage of these two was considered to be very doubtful. Sweyn
nevertheless succeeded to Norway, and Harthacanute to Denmark, but
the question was not settled so easily in England. There was a double
election, in which the Northerners, under the leadership of Leofric of
Mercia, chose Harold; and the Southerners, among whom Godwin was the
most influential, chose Harthacanute. Having, however, learnt wisdom by
misfortune, the Witena-gemot agreed that the kingdom should be peacefully
divided; and as Harthacanute did not come over from Denmark, Earl
Godwin, despite his obscure origin, for he appears to have been the son
of a wealthy ceorl, was practically King of Wessex. But in 1037, when
Harthacanute showed no signs of visiting England, Harold was elected
by the Witena-gemot king over all England, and ruled during two years
and some months (1037-1040). Of his reign we know absolutely nothing
of importance, but he appears to have resembled very little his great
father, being in fact more or less of a barbarian.

During the period in which Godwin was administering Wessex for
Harthacanute, Alfred, the son of Emma and Ethelred, came over from
Normandy, apparently with some designs on the crown. He met Earl Godwin
at Guildford, and shortly afterwards was seized by Harold's servants
and taken to Ely, where he was blinded, and soon afterwards died. At
the time, Godwin was universally held to have had the chief hand in the
deed; although it is not easy to see why he should have been leader in
a crime which was committed to further the interests of Harold, whose
election he had opposed. The feeling nevertheless was very strong against
him, and perhaps he may have used the betrayal to make his peace with
Harold. Queen Emma was soon afterwards driven from England, but found a
hospitable abode at Bruges, where she was received by Count Baldwin of
Flanders. She was believed to have been privy to the death of Alfred, in
order that the crown might pass to Harthacanute.

Harthacanute, or Canute the Strong, had never resigned his pretensions
to the crown of England; and the country was spared the horrors of a
civil war only by the death of Harold. Under pretence of visiting the
widowed queen in Flanders, he had assembled a fleet of sixty ships, his
real intention being to make a descent upon England. The news of Harold's
death induced him at once to set sail. He shortly afterwards entered
London in triumph, and was acknowledged king without opposition.

The first act of Harthacanute's government promised badly for his future
conduct. He was so enraged at Harold for depriving him of his share of
the kingdom, and for the cruel treatment of his half-brother Alfred, that
in an impotent desire of revenge against the dead, he ordered his body to
be dug up and to be thrown into the Thames; and when it was found by some
fishermen, and buried in London, he ordered it again to be dug up, and to
be thrown once more into the river; but it was fished up a second time,
and then interred with great secrecy. Godwin and the Archbishop of York
submitted to be his instruments in this unnatural and brutal action.

The earl knew that he was universally believed to have been an accomplice
in the barbarity exercised on Alfred, and that he was on that account
obnoxious to Harthacanute; and perhaps he hoped, by displaying this rage
against Harold's memory, to free himself from the suspicion of having had
any participation in his counsels; but the king preferred an accusation
against Godwin for the murder of Alfred, and compelled him to clear
himself. Godwin, in order to appease the king, made him a magnificent
present of a galley with a gilt stern, rowed by four-score men, who
wore each of them a gold bracelet on his arm, weighing sixteen ounces,
and were armed and clothed in the most sumptuous manner. Harthacanute,
pleased with the splendour of this spectacle, quickly forgot his
brother's murder; and on Godwin's proving his innocence by compurgation,
he allowed him to be acquitted.

Though Harthacanute, before his accession, had been called over by the
vows of the English, he soon lost the affections of the nation by his
misconduct; but nothing appeared more grievous to them than his renewing
the imposition of Danegeld, and obliging the nation to pay a great sum of
money to the fleet which brought him from Denmark. The discontents ran
high in many places. In Worcester the populace rose, and put to death two
of the collectors (1041). The king, enraged at this opposition, swore
vengeance against the city, and ordered three noblemen--Godwin, Earl of
Wessex, Siward, Earl of Northumberland, and Leofric, Earl of Mercia--to
execute his orders with the utmost rigour. They were obliged to set fire
to the city, and deliver it up to be plundered by their soldiers; but
they saved the lives of the inhabitants, whom they allowed to fly to a
small island on the Severn, called Beverly, till by their intercession
they were enabled to appease the anger of the tyrant. This violent reign
was of short duration. Harthacanute died three years after his accession,
in consequence of his excesses in drinking. This event took place at the
marriage feast of a Danish nobleman at Lambeth, on June 8, 1042.

The English, on the death of Harthacanute, saw that a favourable
opportunity had occurred for recovering their ancient independence and
shaking off the Danish yoke, which was insufferably galling to a proud
and spirited people.

Prince Edward was in Normandy at the time of his brother's death; but
though the true English heir was the descendant of Edmund Ironside,
the absence of that prince in Hungary appeared a sufficient reason for
his exclusion. Delays might be dangerous; the occasion might not again
present itself, and must be eagerly embraced before the Danes, now left
in the island without a leader, had time to recover from the confusion
into which the death of their king had thrown them.

But this concurrence of circumstances in favour of Edward might have
failed of its effect, had his succession been opposed by Godwin, whose
power, alliances, and abilities gave him great influence at all times,
especially amidst those sudden opportunities which always attend a
revolution of government, and of which advantage can be taken only by
great promptitude. There were opposite reasons which divided men's
hopes and fears with regard to Godwin's conduct. On the one hand, the
credit of that nobleman lay chiefly in Wessex, which was almost entirely
inhabited by English. It was therefore presumed that he would second the
wishes of that people in restoring the English line, and in humbling the
Danes, from whom he, as well as they, had reason to dread, as they had
already felt, the most grievous oppression. On the other hand, there
was strong reason for animosity between Edward and Godwin, on account
of Alfred's murder, which the latter might deem so deep an offence that
it could never, on account of subsequent merits, be sincerely pardoned.
Nevertheless, in those turbulent days men's memories were short; a strong
union of interests was sufficient to cause the temporary burial of past
wrongs. At the Witena-gemot, which was summoned at Gillingham, every
measure was taken for securing the election of Edward. The English were
unanimous and zealous; the Danes, who were in favour of Canute's nephew,
Sweyn, were divided and dispirited, and Godwin's eloquence easily won
the day. Two years afterwards the friendship was cemented by a marriage
between the king and Godwin's daughter, Edith. It was thought advisable
also to depress the Danish element by exile and confiscation of property
in several instances.

The new king also treated his mother, who had returned to England, not
only with coldness, but some degree of severity, on account of her having
neglected him in his adversity. He accused her of preferring her son by
Canute to his brother and himself--which, when the characters of her
first and second husbands are compared, appears by no means improbable.
He stripped her of the great wealth she had amassed, and compelled her
to live in seclusion at Winchester. The accusation of her having been a
party to the murder of her son Alfred, and of her criminal intercourse
with the Bishop of Winchester, from which she is said to have cleared
herself by walking barefoot over nine red-hot ploughshares, must be
regarded as tradition merely.

The English fondly believed that by the accession of Edward they had
delivered themselves for ever from the dominion of foreigners, but
they soon found out that they were in error; for the king, who had
been educated at the court of his uncle in Normandy, had contracted so
strong an affection for the natives of that country that his court
was speedily filled by them. This partiality will be considered by no
means an unnatural one, when it is remembered that the natives of that
populous and wealthy state were far more polished than the comparatively
rude, unlettered English, and that their culture was much superior.
The example of the monarch had its influence; the courtiers imitated
the Normans both in dress and manners. French became the language not
only of the court, but of the law; even the Church felt its influence,
Edward creating Robert of Jumièges (1044), and Ulf (1049), two Norman
priests, respectively Bishops of London and Dorchester. In 1051 Robert
was made Archbishop of Canterbury. Similar appointments were made in
secular affairs, and the whole country was filled with a swarm of
Norman strangers. All these changes gradually excited the jealousy of
the English nation; although it may be justly doubted whether the most
far-sighted amongst them foresaw that they were preparing the way for a
fresh conquest of the country.

The natural result of this unwise partiality for foreigners was the
growth of a strongly national party, and with it Earl Godwin was not slow
to identify himself. By a process of deliberate family aggrandisement,
he had succeeded in making the influence of his house nearly paramount
in England; and this was based not only on immense possessions and
administrative authority, but on the great personal talents of himself
and his sons, which were wedded to dispositions of a more than ordinarily
ambitious nature. Their power was, indeed, most formidable. Godwin, as
has been already mentioned, was Earl of Wessex; his eldest son, Sweyn,
was Earl of a district partly in Wessex and partly in Mercia; his second
son, Harold, was Earl of the East Angles; and his nephew, Beorn, was
Earl of the Middle Angles, a district which included Bedfordshire and

It was inevitable that a trial of strength should occur between the
two parties sooner or later, and the unruly conduct of Godwin's family
was, unfortunately, by no means a source of credit to his cause. In
1046, Sweyn, his eldest son, carried off the Abbess of Leominster, and
in consequence had to leave the kingdom, his possessions being divided
between Harold and Beorn. After futile attempts to gain pardon and
restitution, he decoyed Beorn on to one of his ships and foully murdered
him. He was thereupon outlawed, but soon afterwards the king weakly
allowed him to return, and his earldom was restored to him.

[Illustration: THE RIOT AT DOVER. (_See p._ 69.)]

Meanwhile, the feeling of animosity between the Norman and English
parties at court, and in the country generally, was becoming terribly
strong. Robert of Jumièges lost no opportunity of setting the king
against Earl Godwin, and the English people were very angry when they
saw the Norman favourites beginning to build castles, as strongholds
of oppression, over the face of the land. It was not long before this
animosity broke into action. Eustace, Count of Boulogne, who had married
Edward's sister, having paid a visit to the king, passed by Dover in his
return. One of his train being refused entrance to a lodging which had
been assigned him, attempted to make his way by force, and in the contest
he wounded the master of the house. The inhabitants revenged this insult
by the death of the stranger; the count and his train took arms, and
murdered the wounded townsman; a tumult ensued; nearly twenty persons
were killed on each side; and Eustace, being overpowered by numbers,
was obliged to save his life by flight from the fury of the populace.
He hurried immediately to court, and complained of the usage he had
met with. The king entered zealously into the quarrel, and was highly
displeased that a stranger of such distinction, whom he had invited over
to his court, should, without any just cause, as he believed, have been
exposed to such insult and danger. Edward felt so sensibly the insolence
of his people that he gave orders to Godwin, in whose government Dover
lay, to repair immediately to the place, and to punish the inhabitants
for the crime; but Godwin, who desired rather to encourage than repress
the popular discontents against foreigners, refused obedience, and
endeavoured to throw the whole blame of the riot on the Count of Boulogne
and his retinue; he declared also that no man in his earldom should be
put to death without trial. Edward, touched in so sensible a point, saw
the necessity of exerting the royal authority; and he threatened Godwin,
if he persisted in his disobedience, to make him feel the utmost effects
of his resentment.

The earl, perceiving a rupture to be unavoidable, and pleased to embark
in a cause where it was likely he should be supported by his countrymen,
made preparations for his own defence, or rather for an attack on Edward.
He assembled a great army, and was approaching the king, who, on his
side, had collected his Norman favourites about him at Gloucester.
Edward applied for protection to Siward, Earl of Northumberland, and
Leofric, Earl of Mercia, two powerful noblemen, whose jealousy of
Godwin's greatness on the one hand, and their hatred of the Normans on
the other, caused them to adopt a policy of watchful neutrality. They
hastened to him with such of their followers as they could assemble on a
sudden; and finding the danger of a collision much greater than they had
at first apprehended, they issued orders for mustering all the forces
within their respective governments, and for marching them without delay
to the defence of the king's person and authority. Edward, meanwhile,
endeavoured to gain time by negotiation; while Godwin, who thought the
king entirely in his power, and was willing to save appearances, fell
into the snare; and not perceiving that he ought to have no further
reserve after he had proceeded so far, lost the favourable opportunity of
rendering himself master of the government.

The English, though they had no idea of Edward's vigour and capacity,
bore him much affection on account of his humanity, justice, and
piety, as well as the long race of their native kings from whom he was
descended; and they hastened from all quarters to defend him from the
present danger. His army was now so considerable that he ventured to
take the field; and, marching to London, he summoned the Witena-gemot to
judge the rebellion of Godwin and his sons. These nobles, angry at being
treated as criminals, demanded hostages for their safety, which were
refused. Soon afterwards, finding themselves deserted by the majority
of their adherents, they disbanded their remaining forces, and fled the
country. Baldwin, Count of Flanders, gave shelter and protection to
the earl and three of his sons, Sweyn, Gurth, and Tostig. Harold and
Leofwine, two other brothers, took refuge in Ireland.

Godwin and his sons were outlawed in 1051, and shortly afterwards
occurred a most important event, namely, the visit of Duke William of
Normandy to England. He was the king's cousin, through the marriage of
Ethelred and Emma of Normandy, and the two had been thrown together in
their boyhood. It may fairly be conjectured that the absence of Godwin
from England and the visit of William of Normandy were two events
which were not unconnected, and that the latter was invited over at
the instigation of the French party, in order to pave the way to his
accession to the throne. In after days William based his claims to a
great extent on the promise which he declared that Edward had made to
him at this time. It is more than probable, therefore, that some such
stipulation was made by the weak king, but it should be observed that
it was perfectly unconstitutional and illegal, because the English
monarchy being purely elective, and the election lying in the hands of
the Witena-gemot, the sovereign of England had no power to bequeath the
kingdom to any successor, whether he were Englishman or foreigner.

Godwin and his sons were hardly the men to submit supinely to banishment
without making an attempt to regain the position from which they had been
thrust through an unwise confidence in the impotence of their enemy.
Diplomacy having been exhausted, they resolved to use force, and in
1052, Baldwin of Flanders allowed Godwin to fit out an expedition in his
harbours, while Harold made a descent from Ireland. The first attempt
failed; Harold made a descent upon the coast of Somersetshire, and fought
a battle with the inhabitants, who opposed his landing for provisions,
but failed to effect a junction with Godwin, who had to retreat before
the royal fleet, which was stationed at Sandwich in greater numbers than
his own.

The exile, however, appears to have been more politic and more
clear-sighted than the king, who, satisfied with his success, and deeming
his enemy completely crushed, disbanded his men and neglected his ships,
whilst Godwin kept his in readiness. Deeming the time at last had come,
he put to sea once more, and sailed for Portland, where he was joined
by his son Harold, with his Irish contingent. Being now master of the
sea, he sailed along the southern coast, plundering where he could
obtain no ready gifts of provisions, and called upon his followers in
those counties which owned his authority to take arms in his cause. The
appeal was not made in vain; such numbers flocked to his standard that he
entered the Thames, where he found the king ready to meet him with forty

Edward, it is said, desired to fight, but could find no one to support
him, so hated were his Norman favourites, and the national party was
accordingly completely triumphant. Godwin and his sons were recalled
and restored to their former positions, and the Normans, with a few
exceptions, were driven from the land, although a few of the better
ones were afterwards allowed to come back. Among the outlaws was Robert
of Jumièges, and the vacant archbishopric of Canterbury was given to
Stigand, the Bishop of Winchester, who had effected the reconciliation
between the king and Earl Godwin. So the family of Godwin was once more
established in England, with the exception of Sweyn, who, smitten with
remorse for his sins, went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and died abroad.

Godwin's new tenure of power did not last long, for in 1053 he died.
At Easter he was dining with the king, at Winchester, and fell down in
a fit. The superstition of the times did not fail to discover in this
sudden death the direct intervention of God, and stories were told how
the Earl, on being accused by the king of the murder of Alfred, had
impiously taken a morsel of bread from the table, and had desired that
it might choke him if he had had a hand in that crime. No sooner had
he swallowed it, ran the legend, than he fell backwards and died. The
tale is obviously one that was published by Godwin's Norman opponents
to blacken his memory; but, apart from its inherent improbabilities,
it is one that might easily be circulated concerning anyone that had
suddenly died at table. Godwin was sincerely lamented by the English,
and with justice, for though he may have been ambitious, and have made
the aggrandisement of his family the first object of his concerns, he
was none the less a true patriot, and strove, at considerable personal
sacrifice, for the welfare of his country. His influence, and that of
his son Harold after him, for the time beat back the Norman influx and
secured for the English a further brief span of independence from Norman

Godwin's place was taken by his son Harold, who succeeded him as Earl
of Wessex. Being of a more courtly disposition than his father, Harold
managed to keep on excellent terms with the king. At the same time, the
earldom of East Anglia was not at once given to a member of the Godwin
family, but to Ælfgar, the son of Leofric of Mercia, who seems to have
been put forward by the weak king as in some sort a rival to Harold. In
1055, however, Ælfgar was outlawed, whether with or without justice it
is impossible to say, and Harold was thus freed for the time being of a
dangerous opponent. The earldom, moreover, was given to his brother Gurth.

The death of Siward, Earl of Northumberland, in 1055, opened the
way still more to the ambition of Harold. Siward, besides his other
merits, had added new honours to England by his successful conduct
of an expedition against Scotland, where Macbeth was king. According
to the well-known version of the story which Shakespeare has made
immortal, Duncan, the former king, was a prince of gentle disposition,
but possessed not the genius requisite for governing a country so
turbulent, and so much infested by the intrigues and animosities of the
great. Macbeth, a powerful nobleman, and nearly allied to the crown,
not content with curbing the king's authority, carried still further
his pestilent ambition. He put his sovereign to death, chased Malcolm
Canmore, Duncan's son and heir, into England, and usurped the crown. It
would appear, however, that the murder of Duncan is really a fiction,
that he was killed while flying from a battle between the two parties,
and that Macbeth, so far from being a tyrant, was really a very able and
worthy ruler. Be that as it may, Siward, whose cousin was married to
Duncan, undertook, by Edward's orders, the protection of this distressed
family. He marched an army into Scotland; and having defeated and killed
Macbeth in battle, he restored Malcolm to the throne of his ancestors.
This service, added to his former connections with the royal family of
Scotland, brought a great accession to the authority of Siward in the
north; but as he had lost his eldest son, Osberne, in the action with
Macbeth, it proved in the issue fatal to his family. His second son,
Waltheof, appeared, on his father's death, too young to be entrusted with
the government of Northumberland; and Harold's influence obtained that
earldom for his own brother, Tostig.

There are two circumstances related of Siward which discover his high
sense of honour and his martial disposition. When intelligence was
brought to him of his son Osberne's death, he was inconsolable, till
he heard that the wound was received in the breast, and that he had
behaved with great gallantry in the action. When he found his own death
approaching, he ordered his servants to clothe him in a complete suit
of armour; and sitting erect on the couch, with a spear in his hand,
declared that in that posture, the only one worthy of a warrior, he would
patiently await the fatal moment.

Harold now found his path to the throne obstructed only by the family of
Leofric. In 1057, however, death removed Leofric, that great earl of whom
we would fain know more; for, from the meagre information we are able to
gather concerning him, he would appear to have been anxious to bring to
a close the quarrels that distracted and weakened the nation. He and his
wife, the Lady Godiva of legend, founded many churches and monasteries,
of which the most important was the church at Coventry.

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF SIWARD. (_See p._ 71.)]

Ælfgar was still a source of uneasiness to Harold. On being outlawed, he
made a compact with Griffith, the king of the Welsh, and the two agreed
to invade England. Ralph the Norman, Edward's nephew, was disgracefully
defeated by the enemy, who took possession of Hereford, but on the
arrival of Harold at the head of the English they retired into Wales
and made peace, Ælfgar being restored to his earldom for a few months,
probably through the influence of his father, who was still alive at the
time. Soon after the death of Leofric, Ælfgar was outlawed again, but,
pursuing his former tactics, was made Earl of Mercia, succeeding his
father, through the armed intervention of Griffith, whose daughter he
married. During the brief remainder of his life he plays no prominent
part in events, having probably discovered by painful experience that
Harold was an antagonist whom it was dangerous to provoke. The power of
the house of Godwin was completed by the formation of Essex and Kent into
an earldom for Leofwine, Harold's remaining brother.

The influence obtained by Harold's strength of character over the amiable
but feeble king was increased by their common sympathies. Both were of
considerably higher culture than the average Englishman, and they both
had leanings towards the superior civilisation of France, a country to
which Harold had paid a visit. Moreover, both of them were genuinely
pious men, and their piety took the outward form of the building and
endowment of churches. The Confessor's chief edifice was the Abbey of
Westminster, and parts of the building which still stands there are his
work. Harold, in a kindred spirit, founded an abbey at Waltham in 1060,
and established a college there, inviting learned men from the Continent
to teach the scholars. Unlike Dunstan, he befriended the secular priests,
but he was in every respect rigidly orthodox, and refusing to acknowledge
Stigand, because he had been consecrated by the anti-Pope Benedict,
caused the abbey at Waltham to be hallowed by the Archbishop of York.

[Illustration: TAKING SANCTUARY.]

Harold was not only pious, but a great warrior, and in 1063 he put a
stop to the incursions of Griffith of Wales by completely conquering
that country. Despite the lesson they had previously received from
Harold, the Welsh continued the terror of the West of England, which
they systematically plundered, retreating with their booty to their
mountain strongholds. Harold found he could do nothing more acceptable
to the public, and more honourable to himself, than the suppressing
of so dangerous an enemy. He formed the plan of an expedition against
Wales; and having prepared some light-armed foot to pursue the natives
into their fastnesses, some cavalry to scour the open country, and a
squadron of ships to attack the sea-coast, he employed at once all these
forces against the Welsh, prosecuted his advantages with vigour, made
no intermission in his assaults, and at last reduced the enemy to such
distress that, in order to prevent their total destruction, they made a
sacrifice of their prince, whose head they cut off and sent to Harold;
and they were content to receive as their sovereigns two brothers of
Griffith appointed by Edward to rule over them. The new princes swore
oaths to Harold and Edward, and thus the monarchy over united Wales came
to an end, although the country was not annexed to England until long
years afterwards.

Another prominent feature in Harold's character besides his valour, was
his sense of justice, of which he gave very favourable indication in the
year 1065, when his brother Tostig, the Earl of Northumberland, being of
a violent, tyrannical temper, acted with such cruelty and injustice that
the inhabitants rose in rebellion, and chased him from his government.
Morcar and Edwin, two brothers, who were the sons of Ælfgar, Edwin the
elder of the two having succeeded him in the earldom of Mercia, concurred
in the insurrection; and the former, being elected earl, advanced with
an army to oppose Harold, who was commissioned by the king to reduce and
chastise the Northumbrians. Before the armies came to action, Morcar,
well acquainted with the generous disposition of the English commander,
endeavoured to justify his own conduct. This was a bold step, but the
event fully proved the wisdom of adopting it. He represented to Harold
that Tostig had behaved in a manner unworthy of the station to which he
was advanced; that no one, not even a brother, could support such tyranny
without participating in some degree in the infamy attending it; that
the Northumbrians, accustomed to a legal administration, and regarding
it as their birthright, were willing to submit to the king, but required
a governor who would pay regard to their rights and privileges; that
they had been taught by their ancestors that death was preferable to
servitude, and had taken the field, determined to perish rather than
suffer a renewal of the indignities to which they had long been exposed;
and they trusted that Harold, on reflection, would not defend in another
the violence he had repressed in his own government. This remonstrance,
sustained as it was by the arguments that have just been summarised, was
accompanied by such proofs of the justice of the complaints that Harold
felt himself compelled to abandon his brother's cause; and, returning to
Edward, persuaded the king to pardon the Northumbrians, and to confirm
Morcar in the government. He afterwards married the sister of that
nobleman. Tostig, in a rage, quitted England, and took refuge at Bruges
with his father-in-law, Baldwin of Flanders.

But meanwhile the question of the succession to the throne was becoming
daily more pressing. Edward was evidently rapidly sinking into the grave.
He had never loved his wife, Harold's sister, and had no children by
her. The natural choice of the Witena-gemot would have been Edward, the
son of Edward's elder brother, who had been sent to Hungary by the King
of Sweden. Accordingly, an embassy was sent to Hungary, and in 1057 the
Atheling, or member of the royal line, arrived with his children, Edgar,
Margaret, and Christina. But the prospect of his one day becoming King of
England, which would have solved a most difficult problem, was speedily
cut short by his death within a few days. Of the royal family, Edgar,
his son, was now the only direct male representative, and he, as being a
mere boy, was hardly a candidate on whom the choice of the Witena-gemot
would fall. It should be observed that Harold appears to have placed no
obstacle in the way of the advent of the members of the house of Cerdic
to England, and throughout he seems honestly to have acted for the best.

To look upon the election of Harold to the throne as in any sense a
usurpation is to import purely modern ideas about royalty into days
when hereditary descent was never for a moment recognised as giving an
indefeasible right. To pass over the members of the royal line was no
doubt an unusual measure, because there were as a rule some members
of that line who were fully competent to succeed, but, failing such a
candidate, the Witena-gemot were quite within their right in electing
any one whom they believed to combine the necessary qualities of valour
and statesmanship. And of all men in England, it could hardly be doubted
that Harold was pre-eminently the possessor of the attributes that went
in those days to make a good king. He was therefore tacitly designated
as Edward's successor by universal consent; but in William of Normandy
he had a dangerous and unscrupulous opponent who would hesitate to use
no means that force or fraud might throw in his way. One effective
instrument he had already acquired during his visit to England, and
chance speedily placed a second in his path, of which he availed himself
with equal dexterity.



     The Normans--Their Settlement in France--Their gradual
     Civilization--Richard the Good--Robert the Devil--William's
     earlier years--His Consolidation of Power--Harold's Adventures
     in Normandy and the Story of his Oath to William--Death and
     Character of Edward--Election of Harold--William's Claims--He
     obtains the Sanction of the Church--His Preparations--Proceedings
     of Tostig--Harold's Forces dwindle--Invasion of Tostig and Harold
     Hardrada--Battle of Stamford Bridge--Landing of William--Harold in
     London--Desertion of Edwin and Morcar--Negotiations--Harold at
     Senlac--Account of the Battle--Death of Harold and Discomfiture of
     the English--His Burial--Legend of his Escape.

Before narrating Harold's adventures in Normandy, and the oath which he
is said to have sworn to William there, it may be well to give an account
of the rise of the formidable power of which William was now the ruler.
The Normans, or Northmen, were, when they first come within the ken of
history, bands of piratical adventurers, and were practically identical
with the Danes, the term being loosely used for the inhabitants of what
we now call the Scandinavian kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. In
the previous chapters, a description has been given of the invasions and
settlements of these barbarians in England; but England was by no means
the only country which they vexed by their depredations, and the northern
coast of France afforded an equally suitable place of debarkation for
their hordes.

Upon the French, as upon the English, the enemy at first contented
themselves with inflicting yearly raids, without any intention of
occupying the land; but in 912, Rollo the Ganger, or Walker, so called
because he was too tall to ride, a leader after the stamp of Guthrum,
seized from Charles the Simple, king of the West Franks--for France
was not as yet a united kingdom--land on both sides of the Seine, with
Rouen for its capital, and an arrangement was made between the two at
Clair-sur-Epte, which has been compared to the treaty of Wedmore. By it
Rollo promised to embrace Christianity, and to do homage to Charles. The
well-known story has it that he was too proud to go through the ceremony,
which consisted in kissing the king's feet, but deputed it to one of
his soldiers, who, by raising the royal foot to his mouth, instead of
stooping towards it, well-nigh upset his Frankish majesty. Despite his
promise, Rollo speedily relapsed into heathendom, and, together with his
son, William Longsword, proceeded to add to his territories. A large
district passed into the hands of the Normans by conquest, including
Avranches, Lisieux, and Caen.

It was some time before the Normans became French, but they were
gradually assimilated to the people round them, even as the Danes had
been in England. The change was accomplished in the reign of the third
duke, Richard the Fearless (943-996), when the whole race embraced
Christianity, and adopted the French language, Norse being the speech,
however, of the people who dwelt round Bayeux. The Normans were a very
receptive race, and wherever they wandered throughout Europe they adopted
whatever customs were best in the people with whom they came in contact.
They learned new modes of fighting; they acquired new weapons, the
shield, the hauberk, the lance, and the long-bow; they became masterly
horsemen. Further, they developed that impressive style of architecture
which is still called by their name, and built churches and monasteries,
important among which is the Abbey of Bec, whence came both Lanfranc
and St. Anselm in aftertimes; they founded bishoprics. In a word,
they transformed themselves with remarkable swiftness from a race of
depredators into one of the most cultivated of the peoples of Europe.
It was during the reign of Richard the Fearless that Hugh Capet, on the
death of the last of the descendants of Charles the Great, founded the
French monarchy by a process of conquest, and made Paris his capital. In
this great achievement he would never have succeeded had it not been for
the assistance of Richard, who was his brother-in-law. In return, the
Duke of Normandy ceased to be called by his neighbours "Dux Piratarum"
("the Duke of the Pirates"), and became the loyal vassal of the King of
the French. Normandy formed one of the noblest territories dependent on
the Capetian dynasty, but its dukes took care that their liberties were
in no degree infringed.

The next duke, Richard the Good, Ethelred's contemporary, has been
already mentioned in this work (_see p._ 58). His reign is chiefly
remarkable for the fact that in it we begin to hear of those noble
families which afterwards played so great a part in English history. The
marriage between Emma and Ethelred was the first link in the chain of
events which led to the conquest of England, and it was at the Norman
court that Edward the Confessor acquired his foreign sympathies. After a
reign of about thirty years, Richard died in 1026.


On his death the kingdom was distributed between the rival brothers,
Richard the Third and Robert. Richard, however, was regarded as duke
during the two ensuing years, and on his death, in 1028, was succeeded
by Robert. He is known to history as "the Devil," though it is very
difficult to tell why, and after a somewhat brief reign he died, in 1035,
on his way back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

On the death of Robert, his son William was about eight years old;
moreover, of illegitimate birth, his mother being the daughter of a
tanner at Falaise. But Robert, before his departure, had caused his
nobles to swear allegiance to William, and the law of hereditary descent
was far more strictly regarded in France than in England. These facts,
joined to the consideration that possible successors of the line of
Rollo were not easily to be found, caused William's accession to be
undisputed. Nevertheless, the period of his minority was one of much
confusion, during which the boy-duke's life was in perpetual danger, and
his position was the more precarious because the King of the French began
to show signs of animosity towards the great semi-independent state to
the north of his dominions. In 1047 William began to act for himself, and
when an attempt was made by the nobles to wrest the western part of his
dominions from him, he overthrew the rebels, with the grudgingly offered
aid of Henry of France, at Val-ès-Dunes. After this crushing triumph, his
power was secure. He surrounded himself with a splendid nobility, of whom
William Fitz-Osbern and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, his two half-brothers by
his mother's marriage with Baldwin of Conteville, and Robert of Mortain,
were to make themselves feared on the other side of the channel. The
Church was munificently rewarded for its support, and among his most
magnificent buildings was the Abbé aux Hommes at Caen. Not only did he
recover all the dominions that the Norman dukes had ever held, but he
twice defeated the French king, Henry, when he invaded his dominions, and
in 1063 made his great Continental acquisition in the conquest of Maine.
Despite the Papal inhibition, he took to wife Matilda, the daughter of
Count Baldwin of Flanders, in 1052, and endured the ban without much
inconvenience until 1060. His visit to England, and the claim, worthless
though it was, that he built upon it, have already been mentioned (_see
p._ 70). In the last years of the reign of the Confessor (the exact date
is unknown) the hazard of fortune placed his rival, Harold, in his power
for the time being, and he made excellent use of the opportunity.

[Illustration: PEVENSEY CASTLE.]

One day Harold, while sailing in the channel, was driven by tempest on
the territory of Guy, Count of Ponthieu, who, being informed of his
quality, immediately detained him prisoner, and demanded an exorbitant
sum for his ransom. Harold found means to convey intelligence of his
situation to the Duke of Normandy; and represented that he had met with
extremely harsh treatment from the mercenary disposition of the Count of
Ponthieu, who was William's vassal.

William was immediately sensible of the importance of the incident: he
foresaw that if he could once gain Harold, either by favours or menaces,
his way to the throne of England would be open, and Edward would meet
with no further obstacle in executing the favourable intentions which
he had entertained on his behalf. He sent, therefore, a messenger to
Guy, in order to demand the liberty of his prisoner; and that nobleman,
not daring to refuse so great a prince, put Harold into the hands of
the Norman, who conducted him to Rouen. William received him with every
demonstration of respect and friendship; and even persuaded him to take
part in a campaign which he was waging with Count Conan of Brittany, in
which Harold highly distinguished himself, and was rewarded with the
compliment of knighthood. In his anxiety to be allowed to return home,
Harold appears to have compromised himself by taking some sort of oath,
which William attempted to make additionally binding by a curious trick.
He caused Harold, when he swore, to place his hand on a chest, and then,
withdrawing the cover, showed the Englishman the relics of the saints,
which had been collected from all parts of Normandy. This device is quite
in keeping with the ideas of that time, and any breach of the engagement
would have been considered a most wicked act of perjury, even though the
taker of the oath was not aware of the solemnity of the promises he had

The terms of the oath are quite uncertain. Harold remained, so far as
we know, absolutely silent on the subject, and his silence naturally
conduces to the belief that he must have made some stipulations that he
had no right to make. Professor Freeman strives hard to prove that he
only promised to marry William's daughter, and that he did homage to
him as his future father-in-law. The Norman chroniclers assert that he
did homage to William as his future king, and promised in the meantime
to deliver to him the castle of Dover, and to marry his daughter. It is
hardly credible that Harold, though his position was a very difficult
one, can have compromised himself in this manner; but it is possible that
he may have thought that no price was too heavy to pay for freedom, and
may have consoled himself by reflecting that to pledge himself to William
as his future king was perfectly illegal, inasmuch as the election lay
in the hands of the Witena-gemot. In any case, whatever understanding
was concluded, Harold made no attempt on his return to carry it out, but
continued in that line of conduct by which he accustomed the people of
England to regard him as their future sovereign; and broke one of the
conditions, at any rate, by marrying the daughter of Ælfgar, the widow of
Griffith of Wales. He was so completely successful that the Confessor, on
his death-bed (he died on January 5th, 1066) requested the Witena-gemot
to choose Harold as his successor, and said nothing concerning William of
Normandy, or any promises that had been made to him at the time of his
visit to England.

Edward, to whom the Church has given the title of Saint and Confessor,
was the last of the direct line of the West Saxon kings that ruled in
England. Though his reign was peaceable and fortunate, he owed his
prosperity less to his own abilities than to the conjunctures of the
times. The Danes, employed in other enterprises, did not attempt those
incursions which had been so troublesome to his predecessors, and fatal
to some of them. The facility of his disposition made him acquiesce in
the government of Godwin and his son Harold; and the abilities, as well
as the power of these noblemen, enabled them, while they were entrusted
with authority, to preserve domestic peace and tranquillity. The most
commendable circumstance of Edward's government was his attention to the
administration of justice; and he is said to have compiled, for that
purpose, a body of laws, which he collected from the laws of Ethelbert,
Ina, and Alfred. This compilation, if it ever existed, is now lost (for
the laws that pass under Edward's name were composed afterwards), and
it is thought that when we find the English in after-times asking for a
renewal of King Edward's laws, they do not allude to any definite code,
but simply to the old customs generally. But, while praising Edward for
his rectitude of conduct, we ought not to forget that his weak dependence
upon Norman favourites in the earlier part of the reign was the cause of
infinite disaster to the nation in the years that followed his death.
He was, in fact, as it has been often said, more fitted for a Norman
cloister than for the English throne.

The election of Harold by the Witena-gemot was duly effected on the Feast
of the Epiphany, the claims of the Atheling, Edgar, apparently not having
been taken into serious consideration, so important was it felt to be
that a capable man should have command in times when an invasion might
be expected at any moment. William, as may be imagined, was not long
in putting in his claim to the throne; and, having summoned Harold to
fulfil the promises that he had made in Normandy (to which summons answer
was returned that the promises were such as Harold could not possibly
perform), he proceeded to set out a most ingenious statement of the
rights which he asserted were his. They were absolutely worthless, but
probably produced the desired effect on the Continent--an impression that
William was the victim of fraud. In the first place, he based his claim
to the crown on his descent; he was, he declared, Edward's next-of-kin
through Edward's mother, Emma. This, of course, was not true, Edgar being
considerably nearer in relationship; and even so, it would only entitle
him to a certain amount of preference. Secondly, he declared that Edward
had left him the crown, but such a bequeathal was, as we have seen, quite
beyond the power of an English king, even if it was ever definitely made,
of which no written proof was produced. Thirdly, he told the story of
Harold's oath, which the latter had no right to take. Very few men among
the English appear to have been won over by these specious arguments, but
upon the Continent, and especially in France, where men were probably
in ignorance of English customs, it is not improbable that they carried
considerable weight, especially when backed by the authority of the
Church. For William was careful to obtain this powerful sanction, and
thereby he invested the invasion with the character of a war of religion.

To the shallow arguments about the perjury of Harold, he was cunning
enough to add others of more solid worth, namely, that he would bring
the Church of England more thoroughly under the control of Rome than
it had hitherto been, and especially would cause the Papal dues to
be more regularly paid. These last considerations could not but have
much influence with the Pope, Alexander II., and William's envoys were
fortunate to gain over the man who had the entire ascendency in the Papal
counsels, the famous Hildebrand, who afterwards became Pope Gregory the
Seventh. The Pope, therefore, announced his cordial sanction of the
enterprise, and despatched to the Norman Duke a consecrated banner, and
a ring containing some of St. Peter's hair.

William now set himself seriously to work to gain allies, and to get
an army ready. He applied in the first instance to the King of France;
but William was already too powerful a vassal, and his overtures were
rejected from policy. Nothing daunted, he next addressed himself to his
father-in-law, Count Baldwin of Flanders. Baldwin listened to him, and
helped him to the utmost of his power. His own subjects were at first
unwilling to take part in the undertaking, but William won them over
by his cajoleries. By the middle of August, 1066, the Duke of Normandy
had collected or built upwards of 900 large vessels, without counting
those destined to serve as means of transport, and had under his command
50,000 horsemen and 10,000 foot soldiers. However, he did not hurry his
preparations, for everything was turning out in his favour.

For William was not the only enemy against whom the unfortunate
Harold had to contend. His unscrupulous and selfish brother, Tostig,
also determined to make a dash for the crown, hopes of which he had
entertained previously to his banishment, since he was a favourite
with the Confessor, and the king had been very unwilling to part with
him. Early in the year he applied for assistance to William, but the
duke, although eager enough to profit by his folly, would give him no
assistance. Thereupon, having collected some ships from the ports of
Flanders, Tostig made a wild descent upon the south of England, and
plundered the coast from the Isle of Wight to Sandwich. Driven away by
the approach of Harold, he directed his forces to the Humber, but was
beaten off by Edwin and Morcar, and forced to take refuge in Scotland.

All this while Harold had been watching the south coast, daily expecting
to see the ships of William in the channel. But William never came, and
the English churls were longing for their homes and harvests, so that the
forces began to dwindle away. The English army, it should be remembered,
was a militia, serving without pay and under compulsion. Such a force was
particularly unwieldy, and particularly hard to keep together. At last,
on September the 8th, the provisions failed, and Harold was compelled to
disband his forces, leaving the southern coast bare.

Hardly had he done so, when he received tidings of a most formidable
invasion of the north. The restless Tostig, undismayed by the utter
miscarriage of his previous ventures, went in quest of allies to the
courts of the North, and after an unsuccessful visit to the King of
Sweden, obtained the powerful assistance of the King of Norway, Harold
Hardrada, one of the greatest warriors of his time. The Norwegian king
made his appearance with a powerful fleet at the mouth of the Tyne, and
there Tostig joined him with the remnants of his former expedition.

They sailed some way up the Ouse, and then struck inland towards York,
but at Fulford were met by the Earls Edwin and Morcar, at the head of a
numerous host. The earls, however, were defeated with heavy loss, and
the city of York, after a mutual exchange of hostages with the invaders,
agreed to open its gates to receive Harold Hardrada as their king, and to
join him in a war against Harold of England.

Harold Hardrada thereupon withdrew to Stamford Bridge, and it was there
that Harold found him and the traitor Tostig. He had hastily gathered
together an army consisting of his house-carls, thegns, and such men as
could be collected on the spur of the moment, and advanced northwards
by forced marches. On September the 25th he was in York, and, passing
rapidly through it, fell upon the Northmen at Stamford Bridge, before
they were aware that he was in the neighbourhood. The battle was fiercely
contested, nevertheless, and though the Northmen, on the nearer side
of the river Derwent, were driven into it and drowned, those on the
farther side put themselves in battle array, and, by the time the English
were over the bridge, were ready to meet them. After a tough contest,
however, Harold Hardrada and Tostig were slain, and the enemy completely
dispersed. According to the spirited account of Henry of Huntingdon,
there was a parley between the two hosts before the battle, in which
Harold offered Northumberland to Tostig, but to Harold Hardrada "six
feet of the ground of England, or perchance more, seeing that he is
taller than other men." This version of the story is, however, rejected
by Professor Freeman, because of its inaccuracies of detail, though the
conversation is consistent with what we know of the characters of Harold
and Tostig. Harold was no less humane than brave. Instead of putting to
death Olaf, the son of Hardrada, and the other captives who had fallen
into his hands, he allowed them to go in peace. William of Malmesbury
also relates that he offended a portion of his army by refusing them a
share of the plunder, and that many in consequence abandoned his standard.


Had it not been for the impossibility of keeping the English host
together, and for the absence of Harold in the north, it is difficult to
see how William could ever have effected a landing. As it was, however,
his course was perfectly unopposed upon the sea, and a landing was safely
effected at Pevensey on September 29th, four days after the battle of
Stamford Bridge. It is said that as William stepped on shore he fell, and
rose with a morsel of earth in his hand, whereupon one of his followers
happily remarked that he had taken seisin of the land. The investment,
or seisin, in landed property was accomplished in those days by the lord
presenting a clod of earth to his vassal, hence the remark was very

[Illustration: DEATH OF HAROLD AT THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS. (_See p._ 82.)]

From Pevensey, William marched to Hastings, and ravaged the country for
provisions, constructing at the same time a wooden fort as a secure basis
of operations. Harold was at York when he received the intelligence of
the landing of the Norman host, and he made hot haste to London, whence
he issued a summons to all the men of England to come to his aid against
the invader.

But in the supreme hour of the fortunes of the English kingdom, it
was found that the old disunion which the kings of Wessex had in vain
attempted to overcome, was still as potent a factor for evil as in the
days of the Danish invasions. From Wessex, and from the earldoms of
Harold's brothers, men readily came to defend the fatherland; but Edwin
and Morcar, with a short-sightedness and ingratitude which are almost
incredible, kept back the men of the North, under the expectation that
William, if he overcame, would be content with Wessex and the South, and
that so the house of Leofric would profit by the overthrow of the house
of Godwin.

Harold abode in London for six days, gathering his host together, and
entered into negotiations with Duke William. That there was any sincerity
on either side may be doubted, and probably the first proposal, which was
sent apparently by Harold, was only made to gain time. It is said that
William was offered a sum of money to depart. To this William replied
by a series of clever propositions, of which the first was that Harold
should give up the kingdom in exchange for the earldom of Northumberland,
an offer which, if made, shows that the Norman duke by no means felt the
ground to be safe under his feet. Then he is related to have appealed
to the mediation of the Pope, a tolerably safe proposal, considering
his previous dealings with the Holy See. Lastly, he is said to have
challenged Harold to single combat, an offer which the king likewise
declined, on the ground that this was not a mere personal quarrel, but a
matter in which the whole English nation was concerned.

By the end of six days, Harold had collected a considerable force, and
determined to risk a battle, and a consideration which influenced him
not a little was the difficulty of provisioning so large a host without
causing annoyance to the people. Here, as on previous occasions in his
career, Harold was actuated by motives of humanity; but it may be doubted
whether it would not have been wise to wait for more levies, and then
overwhelm the Normans, who, man for man, were far better warriors than
the English, by sheer numbers. He advanced, however, southwards, and
halted on a hill called Senlac, to the north-west of Hastings.

The position was a very strong one, and Harold, with great military
skill, fortified it with a palisade, thereby making a most formidable
barrier against the Norman cavalry. The battle of Senlac, or Hastings,
as it is popularly called, was fought on the 14th of October, and the
evening before it was spent, it is said, by the Normans in prayer, and by
the English in drinking and the singing of songs.

The battle began about nine o'clock. The English host was marshalled
behind the palisade, all on foot, for they, unlike the Normans, were
never fond of fighting on horseback, and Harold, with his brothers Gurth
and Leofwine, stood under the royal standard. Against them the Normans
advanced in three divisions, of which William commanded the centre. On
the left was Alan of Brittany, with a force of Bretons, and troops from
Maine and Poitou; on the right was Roger of Montgomery, at the head of
the mercenary troops, whom William had hired from wherever they could be
collected. The first attack failed completely, and the Normans, after a
vain attempt to break down the palisade, were driven back in confusion,
the Bretons being the first to fly. Unfortunately, in their excitement,
some of the English soldiers pursued beyond the palisade, and were easily
cut down in the plain. In the second attack, William of Normandy was
unhorsed by Earl Gurth, but went against him on foot and cut him down;
about the same time Leofwine was also slain.

Still, the English barrier was intact, and it seemed as if the Normans
must withdraw in discomfiture. But William's generalship was equal to the
occasion. He had seen how helpless the English were upon the open plain,
and he resolved, therefore, to lure them from behind their defences by a
feigned flight. The ruse was successful, and a considerable portion of
the English army suffered for disobedience of Harold's orders by being
compelled to make their escape as best they could to the broken ground to
the back of the hill.

Still Harold fought on, and as evening was coming on, it seemed as if
he might even yet be able to hold the field. Then William bethought him
of another plan, and ordered his archers to shoot into the air, whereby
the English were seriously incommoded. One of the falling shafts pierced
Harold through the eye, and he was mortally wounded. The battle was to
all intents ended when he died; his house-carls were killed at their
posts, the light-armed troops fled into the rocks and swamps, inflicting
severe losses upon such of their enemies as ventured to pursue them.

Thus did William of Normandy win the great battle of Hastings, which
lasted from sunrise to sunset, and which, for the valour displayed by
both armies and their leaders, was worthy to decide a contest for a
crown. William, in the course of the battle, had three horses killed
under him, and lost nearly fifteen thousand men; the loss of the English
was probably considerably more.

William, at the height of his success, gave orders for the whole army to
fall on their knees, and return God thanks for so signal a victory; after
which he caused his tent to be pitched on the field of battle, and spent
the residue of the night among the slain. Not less perhaps in gratitude
for the past, than in the hope that such a work would procure him
heavenly favour for the future, he solemnly vowed that he would erect a
splendid abbey on the scene of this his first victory; and when this vow
was accomplished, the altar of the abbey church stood on the spot where
the standard of Harold had been planted. The holy house thus founded was
called Battle Abbey.

On the morrow, he ordered his own dead to be buried, and gave the English
peasants leave to do the same office for the others; but William refused
to give up Harold's body to his mother, Gytha. An ancient manuscript
in the Cottonian library, apparently written at Waltham Abbey about a
hundred years after the battle, relates that two monks were deputed
by William to search for the body of the king. Unable to distinguish
it among the nameless dead by which it was surrounded, they sent for
Harold's mistress, Edith, called "The Swan-necked," whose eye of
affection was not to be deceived. It was buried under a heap of stones,
whence William afterwards permitted it to be removed to Waltham.

There is a story related by Giraldus Cambrensis, that Harold, after
receiving his wound, escaped from the field, and lived several years an
anchorite in a cell near St. John's Church, in Chester. This account
is, however, in the highest degree improbable, and there is no reason
to doubt that the last of the Saxon kings died a soldier's death on the
field of Hastings.



     Saxon Architecture; Theories about it--Documentary
     Evidence--Ancient Churches--Characters of the Saxon
     Style--Illustrations from an Anglo-Saxon Calendar--Old
     Manuscripts--English Scholarship--Music and the Minstrels--Musical
     Instruments--Games and Sports--Costume--The Table--Household
     Furniture--Material Condition of the People--Norman
     Costumes--Condition of Learning and the Arts--Refinement of the
     Normans--The Bayeux Tapestry.

Few subjects in mediæval art have led to so much controversy as that
of English architecture; one party of writers claiming for it a place
as a distinct and separate style, and another totally denying its very

It was usual for writers on architecture before Rickman's time to
denominate all buildings in which the semicircular arch or the zigzag
moulding prevailed as "Saxon," no matter how highly finished or how
richly carved they might be; and, consequently, all our fine Norman
churches are in their works described as Saxon.

When this designation was proved to be incorrect, a reaction took place,
and some of our writers went so far as to deny the existence of any
building of a date anterior to the Conquest. It was argued by these
writers that the English built with wood only, and that, consequently,
all their erections had long since perished. But though it is true there
is evidence to show that the usual material for building was wood, and
that it was sometimes overlaid with lead and other metals, yet we find,
on the other hand, in the works of early writers, indubitable proofs to
show that stone was also used, particularly in rebuilding the churches
and monasteries which had been destroyed by the Danes. Alfred set aside a
sixth part of his income for this purpose, and we are told by Asser that
"he built the houses majestic and good, beyond all the precedents of his
ancestors, by his new mechanical contrivances."


It was first pointed out by Rickman that there were a number of churches
in different parts of the kingdom which could be proved to be of very
early date, while they did not agree in character either with the Roman
remains, or with the earliest of the Norman churches; and that, in some
instances, early Norman work had been built upon portions of these early
buildings, thus affording conclusive evidence that these edifices must
be of a prior date to that of the earliest Norman buildings.

Strong confirmatory evidence is also offered when we find it stated, in
a contemporary manuscript, that a church was built on a certain spot by
some well-known ecclesiastic at a given time, and still find standing
on this spot a building, or portions of a building, of a style which
cannot be referred to that of any subsequent period. We are justified in
considering this the building so mentioned; and when we find all these
buildings agreeing in certain general features, we are also justified in
considering these as constituting the style of the period.

Of this documentary evidence, the following are examples. The venerable
Bede, mentions the building of a monastery at Jarrow by Benedict
Biscop in 681, and we now find standing on the spot a church, of which
the chancel is of the rudest construction, and evidently of earlier
date than the tower, which, from its style, cannot be much subsequent
to the Conquest, and in which portions of the earlier building are
built into the walls. The east window is of later date, but the side
windows of the church (now blocked up) are of the rudest possible
construction--round-headed, with the heads formed of a single stone.
These are undoubtedly the work of Benedict.

The church of Monkwearmouth is also mentioned by Bede as having been
built by the same Benedict, in 676. This church still stands, and
bears indubitable proofs of its early date. The windows are divided by
balusters, and have other features peculiar to the period.

A convent existed at Repton, in Derbyshire, in the seventh century, and
was destroyed by the Danes in 875. The church was afterwards rebuilt, and
such portions as had not perished were built into the new erection, and
they may still be distinguished by the peculiarities of their style.
The original crypt under the church still remains in a tolerably perfect
state, and is a very remarkable specimen of the style.

[Illustration: BUILDING OF THE TOWER OF BABEL. (_From a Saxon MS._)]

Curious crypts of this date also exist under the Cathedral of Ripon, and
at Hexham. The latter is particularly interesting, from its having been
constructed of materials taken from the Roman road, which passes within a
short distance of the place, and Roman inscribed slabs have been used in
forming its roof.

In the Old English MSS. in the British Museum and the library of
Salisbury Cathedral, and particularly in the paraphrase of Cædmon, in the
Bodleian Library at Oxford, buildings of stone are distinctly shown in
the illuminations, and these buildings exhibit "the long and short work"
and other distinctive features of existing remains. This, therefore,
may be taken as conclusive evidence that these buildings are of English

The characteristics of this style are as follow:--

TOWERS.--These are without buttresses, generally of the same dimensions
from the foundation to the top, but sometimes diminishing by stages.
They are usually built of rubble, the stones being very irregular in
size, with quoins at the angles, which are formed of long stones set
perpendicularly, and shorter ones laid horizontally alternately with
them. This is termed "long and short work". They are sometimes divided
into stages, and the surface is intersected by upright projecting ribs of
stone, as if the builder had before him for a model a tower constructed
of timber and plaster, and had endeavoured to imitate this in stone.
The finest example which we have of this kind of ornament is the tower
of Earl's Barton Church, Northamptonshire; other examples also occur at
Barton-on-Humber, and at Barnack.

These towers seem always to have been coated with plaster between the
ribs of stone, and this gives them a still more timber-like appearance.


Some towers have not this ornament, and are quite plain. The kind of
masonry called "herringbone" is frequently used, and Roman bricks taken
from the ruins of earlier buildings are of frequent occurrence.

The upper portion of these Saxon towers has been destroyed, and replaced
by later parapets; so that it is not easy to say in what manner they
terminated. But the very remarkable tower of Sompting, in Sussex, offers
a valuable solution of the difficulty. In this tower each side terminates
in an acutely pointed gable, from which the roof is carried up, and,
meeting in a point, forms a sort of short square spire, such as we still
see in some of the churches in Germany. All these towers are without
staircases, the different storeys being only to be reached by ladders.
The circular or newel stair turret seems not to have been introduced till
the twelfth century.

WINDOWS.--These are either round-headed or triangular-headed, and are
frequently surrounded by a sort of framework of projecting stone. They
are usually--but not always--deeply recessed on the outside as well as in
the inside, the narrowest part of the window being in the centre of the
wall. When the window is of two lights, it is divided by a small baluster
or shaft, set in the middle of the wall; this supports an impost, which
is generally one stone reaching through the entire thickness of the wall.
Sometimes the heads of both single and double-light windows, instead of
being arched, are made of two straight stones, meeting at the point, and
forming a triangular head. The single lights are often little more than
mere openings in the wall, frequently without ornament of any kind, the
whole window being cut out of a single stone, as at Caversfield, and
the jambs are often inclined, making the opening wider at the bottom
than at the top. Ornament is seldom attempted, but at Deerhurst the
shaft and jambs are adorned with a rude kind of fluting, and the imposts
are cut into a series of simple square-edged mouldings. Roman bricks
are sometimes used both for the jambs and for turning the arch, as at
Brixworth. All these varieties of windows are very characteristic, and
are not to be found in the later styles.

DOORWAYS.--These, like the windows, are either round or
triangular-headed. The arches are generally turned of plain stones,
without any moulding or ornament whatever--sometimes simple, and
sometimes recessed; but the projecting framework of plain stone is not
unfrequent, as may be seen at Earl's Barton, Stanton Lacy, &c. The
imposts are as a rule plain, but sometimes ornamented with a series
of singular mouldings, usually square-edged and plain, as at Barnack,
or with a kind of fluting, as at Earl's Barton. At Sompting it is
ornamented with a kind of scroll-work, though sculpture is seldom
attempted. A cross is sometimes introduced above the door, as at Stanton
Lacy, and it is remarkable that whenever the cross is used it is of the
Greek form--that is, with the limbs of equal length in contradistinction
to the Latin type, in which the lower member is the longest. The
triangular heads of the doorways are formed either by two stones placed
diagonally, and resting one upon the other, or partly by horizontal
stones cut obliquely. Both these varieties may be seen at Barnack.
Doorways are also sometimes built of tiles, taken from Roman buildings,
as at Brixworth.


(_From a Photograph by F. R. Turner, Tewkesbury._)]

MOULDINGS AND SCULPTURES.--There are very few mouldings belonging to this
style, the strings and other members being mostly square-edged and plain,
though, as at Dunham Magna, they are sometimes alternately notched on the
edges. The capitals and bases of the shafts and balusters, which divide
the windows, are moulded chiefly with round and square moulding. The
sculptures are few, and very rude, as at St. Benet's, Cambridge, where
two lions are sculptured at the spring of the tower arch.


CAPITALS.--The abacus seems in all cases to be a plain, square-edged,
flat member, without chamfer (in which it differs from the Norman). The
bell of the capital is either globular, as at Jarrow, or moulded, as
before mentioned, or cut into a rude imitation of foliage, or of the
Corinthian volute, as at Sompting.

It is curious to observe the evident imitation of Roman work in these
capitals. The beautiful capital of the Corinthian order appears to have
attracted the attention of the rude English workman, and his first
attempt at sculpture seems to have been to copy it. Its delicate and
complicated foliage was too difficult for his hand, but he could make an
imitation of its more prominent feature, the volute. This partiality for
the volute was continued in the next century, through the early and late
Norman, until, in the transition to the Early English, it produced those
magnificent capitals of which we have a few examples in England, and so
many on the Continent.


It must not be expected that all these peculiarities will be found in one
building; but wherever any of them occur, there is reasonable presumption
that the building is of early date and deserving of further investigation.

Illustrations drawn from ancient calendars are among the best documents
one can consult for obtaining a knowledge of former manners and customs.
The twelve designs which follow, and which may conveniently serve as
an introduction to an account of English customs, are taken from an
Anglo-Saxon calendar composed some time before the Norman Conquest, and
preserved in the Cottonian Library. Some explanatory notes are added.

Anglo-Saxon Calendar.


JANUARY.--The heathen English called this month "Wolf-monath," because
the wolves were then most ravenous. It was also called "Aefter-Yula,"
that is, After-Christmas. In the woodcut, four oxen are laboriously
drawing the plough. At that time they did not use horses for field
labour; and oxen are employed, even at the present day, in some


FEBRUARY.--Here they are cutting down trees for firewood. The English
called February "Sprout-kele." Kele meant "kelewurt," and was most
extensively used at this time for making broth. The well-known custom of
making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday is a remnant of an old superstition,
and certainly one of the most pleasing that has come down to us.


MARCH was dedicated by the English to the goddess Rhoeda, and hence
called "Rhede-monath." It was called also "Illyd-monath," or the
stormy-month. In the woodcut they are digging, hoeing, and sowing with
much ardour. After the introduction of Christianity, March was held in
great reverence, as the month in which Lent began.


APRIL was "Oster-monath" because the wind generally blew from the
east during this month. The woodcut appears to represent three thegns
celebrating a feast by quaffing ale from their drinking-horns. On the
right is an armed guard with a long spear, and on the left are two
servitors. The bench on which the three worthy thegns are seated is
adorned with two sculptures of formidable-looking animals. The use of
chairs or sofas was then entirely unknown. They called the benches placed
in the festal halls "mede benc," or "eale benc"--mead or ale benches.


MAY was called "Trimilki," because then they began to milk the kine three
times in the day. In this woodcut shepherds are watching over the ewes
and lambs. May-day was the great rural festival of the English, and was
celebrated with pomp and rejoicing. This festival will soon be numbered
amongst the things that were.


JUNE.--To June different names were given: "Weyd-monath," according to
some, "because then the cattle began to weyd"--that is, feed in the
meadows, which at that time were usually marshes. According to others,
it was called "Midsummer month." This was the time of the year at which
the English commenced their long voyages, and they are represented in the
woodcut in the act of cutting down and dressing trees, in order to fit
out their ships.


JULY was called by the English "Heu-monath," or foliage-month; also
"Hey-monath," or hay-month, being the month in which they mowed and made
hay, in which operations they are represented in the woodcut as being
engaged. They also called it "Lida-aftera." meaning the second lida, or
second month after the sun's descent.


AUGUST was by the English called "Arn-monath," or "Barn-monath," meaning
harvest-month. The instruments which appear in the woodcut do not seem
to differ much from those used at the present day. To the left appears
a man sounding a horn, with a spear in his right hand. Whether he is
superintending the labourers, or is one of a hunting party entering the
field, it is hard to decide. The sheaves are being lifted by a fork into
a cart, or wagon, of tolerably good construction.


SEPTEMBER was called "Gerst-monath"--barley-month; so named from the
liquor called "beerlegh" made in that month, and hence "barley." The
subject of the woodcut is a boar-hunt.


OCTOBER was called the "Cold-monath," or "Wyn-monath"--wine-month. The
vine was extensively cultivated in England in olden times. The woodcut
represents a hawking scene.


NOVEMBER was called "Wint-monath," or wind-month, as this was the
season of the year when the cold storms commenced, which were generally
considered to last till March. It was the custom to light great fires in
the open air in honour of the gods, and as a means of driving away evil
spirits. The men are here seen approaching one of these fires to warm


DECEMBER was called "Aerra Geola," because the sun then "turns
his glorious course;" and after the introduction of Christianity,
"Heilig-monath," or holy-month. December was, among the English,
above all things, a month of festivity. Before the introduction of
Christianity, Christmas was the feast of Thor, and the wassail bowl
circulated as briskly in honour of the heathen god as it has done since
at the Christian festival. The figures in the woodcut are engaged in
threshing the corn, winnowing it with a fan, and carrying it away.

The foregoing designs afford, probably, as good an idea as can now be
obtained of the occupations and amusements of our English forefathers,
and of their daily life in time of peace.

The monasteries were the schools of the Middle Ages, in which all secular
knowledge, as well as religious doctrine, was cultivated. Previous to
the invention of printing, books were transcribed with great pains and
labour. Not only was the mere task of copying a book by hand a work of
considerable time, but the illuminations or embellishments with which
the more valuable manuscripts were adorned, were executed with a degree
of care and finish demanding infinite skill and industry. The annexed
engravings are copied with scrupulous fidelity from various MSS. still
extant, and serve to show some of the different kinds of writing which
are found in those documents. Many of the MSS. also contain on each page
paintings representing scenes either connected with the narrative in
the text or otherwise. Sometimes they are ornamented with portraits of
saints, kings, or other great men. These figures, as well as the other
ornamental portions of the work, are brilliantly coloured, and are often
represented on a gold ground.

[Illustration: SAXON CALENDAR.]

The parchment used was of various kinds; that which was the finest and
whitest being employed for the most valuable manuscripts. For gilding
upon parchment, our ancestors employed both gold powder and leaf gold,
which was fixed upon a white embossment, generally supposed to be a
calcareous preparation. The subjects of the paintings were taken from
sacred or profane history, but the artist invariably represented the
costume and customs of his own time, and to these illuminations we owe
most of the knowledge we possess of those customs. The English displayed
proficiency in this branch of painting at an early period; and though it
is not easy to trace the rise and progress of the art, there is evidence
of its flourishing condition from the eighth to the eleventh centuries,
in the numerous manuscripts of that date, which fortunately still remain
both in England and in the collections on the Continent.


(_English MS. of the Tenth Century, with Illuminated Initial Letter, in
the National Library, Paris._)

[Reduced to half the original size.]]

Previous to the introduction of Christianity, the English possessed no
literature worthy of the name. It is not, however, to be supposed that
the people were destitute of intellectual power; for when our forefathers
began to apply themselves to the pursuit of knowledge, the progress of
literature was remarkably rapid. Within one hundred years after the light
of knowledge dawned upon the English, Bede appeared, with other men,
whose abilities and teaching exerted a marked influence upon the spread
of English learning.

The English scholars, though defective in actual knowledge, had just
conceptions of the objects of philosophy. Alcuin defines it to be the
study of natural things, and the knowledge of divine and human affairs.
All the subjects comprised by Alcuin in physics are arithmetic, geometry,
music, and astronomy. That larger field of science to which we now give
the name of physics had not yet been discovered, nor had chemistry,
mineralogy, and the other analogous sciences.


(_From MS. of Horace's Works of the Tenth Century in the National
Library, Paris._)]


A fair idea of the condition of mental and moral science previous to the
Norman conquest, may be obtained from an extant dialogue between Alcuin
and Pepin, the son of Charles the Great. Some of the questions, with the
answers, are subjoined:--

"What is life?--The gladness of the blessed; the sorrow of the wretched;
the expectation of death.

"What is death?--The inevitable event; the uncertain pilgrimage; the
tears of the living; the confirmation of our testament; the thief of man.

"What is sleep?--The image of death.

"What is man's liberty?--Innocence.

"What is the brain?--The preserver of the memory.

"What is the sun?--The splendour of the world; the beauty of heaven; the
honour of day; the distributor of the hours.

"What is the moon?--The eye of night; the giver of dew; the prophetess of
the weather.

"What is rain?--The earth's conception; the mother of corn.

"What is the earth?--The nurse of the living; the store-house of life;
the devourer of all things.

"What is the sea?--The path of audacity; the divider of regions; the
fountain of showers.

"What is a ship?--A wandering house; a perpetual inn; a traveller without

"What makes bitter things sweet?--Hunger.

"What makes men never weary?--Gain.

"What gives sleep to the watching?--Hope.

"Who is he that will rise higher if you take away his head?--Look in your
bed, and you will find him there."

[Illustration: ENGLISH DINNER PARTY. (_From Cotton MS., Claud., B._ 4.)]

The following account, taken from William of Malmesbury, of the social
condition of the English people at the time of the Conquest, indicates
a decline of literature and the arts at that period. The picture may
probably be overdrawn, but the main facts are correct. "In process of
time, the desire after literature and religion had decayed, for several
years before the arrival of the Normans. The clergy, contented with a
very slight degree of learning, could scarcely stammer out the words
of the sacraments, and a person who understood grammar was an object
of wonder and astonishment. The nobility were given up to luxury and
wantonness. The commonalty, left unprotected, became a prey to the most
powerful, who amassed fortunes, either by seizing on their property or by
selling their persons into foreign countries; although it be an innate
quality of this people to be more inclined to revelling than to the
accumulation of wealth. Drinking was a universal practice, in which they
passed entire nights, as well as days. They consumed their substance in
mean and despicable houses, unlike the Normans and French, who, in noble
and splendid mansions, lived with frugality."

[Illustration: GLEEMEN JUGGLING. (_From the Cotton MS., Tib. C._ 6.)]

[Illustration: BALANCING. (_From MS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford._)]

Music was cultivated by our ancestors from a very remote period. Among
the English the music on which most attention was bestowed was that
employed in the services of religion. Singing in churches is said to have
been introduced into England in the fourth century.

Among the northern nations the Scalds were at once the poets and
musicians. Like the bards of the Britons, they celebrated the deeds of
the great and brave in heroic poems, which were sung to the sounds of the
lyre or the harp. After the conquest of Britain by the English, these
minstrels remained in high favour among the people, and were received
with respect and veneration in the courts of kings and the halls of the
nobles. In the English language they were known by two appellations, the
one equivalent to the English word gleemen, or merry-makers, and the
other harpers, derived from the instrument on which they usually played.

[Illustration: MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. (_From the Cædmon MS., Oxford._)]

The gleemen were jugglers and pantomimists, as well as minstrels,
and they were accustomed to associate themselves in companies, and
amuse the spectators with feats of strength and agility, dancing, and
sleight-of-hand tricks.


(_From "The Psychomachia," or "Battle of the Soul," of Aurelius
Prudentius, MS. of Eleventh Century._)]

Among the minstrels who came into England with William the Conqueror was
one named Taillefer, of whom it is related that he was present at the
battle of Hastings, and took his place at the head of the Norman army,
inspiriting the soldiers by his songs. Before the battle commenced he
advanced on horseback towards the English lines, and casting his spear
three times into the air, he caught it each time by the iron head and
threw it among his enemies, one of whom he wounded. He then drew his
sword and threw it into the air, catching it, as he had done the spear,
with such dexterity, that the English who saw him believed that he was
gifted with the power of enchantment.


(_From a Drawing in a Ninth Century Psalter illustrating Psalm CL._)]

The term minstrel, or, in Norman-French, _ministraulx_, came into use
in England soon after the Conquest, at which time it is believed that
the class of minstrels and jesters grew much more numerous. The general
language of France in the ninth century was the _langue d'Oc_, which
closely resembled the dialects of the Catalonian. The language of the
north, or _langue d'Oil_, varied but little from it. At this period the
flowing accents of the southern tongue were wedded to music by minstrels,
who were called troubadours in the southern provinces, and trouveres in
the north.


(_From MS. of St. Blaise._)]

These poets became known throughout Europe for their songs of love and
war, in which they celebrated the beauty of women and the achievements
of the brave. The minstrels enjoyed many privileges, and travelled from
place to place, in time of war as well as of peace, in perfect safety.
Their persons were held sacred, and they were received wherever they
went with the warmest welcome and hospitality.

In England the professors of the minstrel's art were of various classes,
which were distinguished by the several names of singers, relaters of
heroic actions, jesters, balancers, jugglers, and story-tellers. At
this period every great baron kept a jester as a part of his household

The word jester, in its original sense, did not necessarily mean joker,
or buffoon, but teller of tales, which might be of a kind to excite
either laughter or pity. The jesters, however, were usually employed at
feasts and in the hours of conviviality, and they found the tales of
merriment so much more popular at such times, that it is probable the
more serious part of their vocation fell into disuse. In later times the
jesters and japers became mere merry-andrews, whose business it was to
excite mirth by jokes and ludicrous gesticulations.

In olden times the number of musical instruments was considerable, but
their names were still more numerous, because they were derived from the
form and character of instruments which varied according to the caprice
of the maker or the musician. Each nation had its peculiar instruments of
music, and as these were described in each language by names appropriate
to their qualities, the same instrument was frequently known by many
names, while the same names sometimes applied to several instruments. The
Romans, after their conquests, were in the habit of carrying back with
them the music and the instruments which they found among the conquered
nations, and thus it happened that, at a certain epoch, all the musical
instruments of the known world were collected in the capital of the
empire. At the fall of Rome, many of these fell into disuse and were
forgotten; they were no longer needed to celebrate the festivals of pagan
deities, or to add gaiety to the ovations to the emperors in the capitol.
A letter of St. Jerome to Dardanus (_de diversis generibus musicorum
instrumentorum_) gives an account of those instruments which remained in
existence in the fifth century. St. Jerome enumerates the organ, various
kinds of trumpets, the cithara, in the form of a Greek delta ([Greek:
D]), with twenty-four strings; the _psalterium_, a small harp of a square
form, with ten strings; the _tympanum_, or hand-drum, and several others.

These seem to have been almost the only musical instruments in use in
the fifth century. A nomenclature of a similar kind appears in the
ninth century, in a manuscript life of Charles the Great, by Aymeric
de Peyra,[1] from which we find the number of instruments to have been
nearly doubled in the course of four centuries, and their forms during
this period had continually varied.

The flute is the most ancient of all instruments of music, and in the
Middle Ages was found in many varieties. Among these was the double flute
of the classic form, having two stems. The stem held in the left hand
(_sinistra_) was for the high notes, and that held in the right hand
(_dextra_) for the low notes. The two stems were sometimes held together,
sometimes separate.

About the year 951, there was made for the church at Winchester an organ
which, in size and construction, surpassed any that had hitherto been
seen. This organ was divided into two parts, each having its bellows,
its key-board, and its player; twelve bellows above and fourteen below
were set in motion by sixty-six strong men, and the wind was passed
along forty valves into four hundred pipes, arranged in groups of ten,
and to each of these groups corresponded one of the twenty-four keys of
each key-board. In spite of the great size of this organ, we can hardly
believe that its sound was heard over the whole town (_undique per
urbem_), as we are told by a contemporary poet.

The syrinx, which was, in fact, the Pandean pipe, was composed usually of
seven tubes of unequal length, forming a straight line at the top for the
mouth of the player.

Trumpets were much in use among the English, and were employed in the
chase and in the tourney, as well as in sounding the charge in battle.
They were also used at feasts, public assemblies, and as signals by which
one man could communicate with another at a distance beyond the reach of
the voice.

The lyre, which was the principal stringed instrument of the Greeks and
the Romans, preserved its primitive form until the tenth century. The
number of cords varied from three to eight. The lyre of the North--which
was unquestionably the origin of the violin, and which already presented
the shape of that instrument--had a bridge in the middle of the

[Illustration: ENGLISH GAME OF BOWLS. (_From Royal MS._, 20, _D_ 4.)]

The _psalterium_, which must not be confounded with the _psalterion_
of the thirteenth century, was a little portable harp, played either
with one or both hands. After the fifth century its shape varied, and
was sometimes square or triangular, and sometimes round. In the tenth
century the psalterium gave place to the cithara, a name by which various
stringed instruments had at first been vaguely described.

[Illustration: LADIES HUNTING. (_From Royal MS._, 2 _B._ 7.)]

The English harp was at first only a triangular cithara, but that of the
ninth century appears to have differed little from the modern instrument
of that name, and the simplicity and elegance of its form had arrived
nearly at perfection. The English gleemen usually sang to the harp, and
this instrument was also in common use among persons who did not follow
the profession of minstrels. Bede tells us that, as early as the seventh
century, it was customary at convivial meetings to hand a harp from one
person to another; and that every one present played upon it in turn,
singing a song to the music. This may be presumed to have been the case
when the professional harper, whose business it was to amuse the company,
was not present.


1. Bishops and Barons (11_th Century_). 2. Noble Ladies and Citizens
(11_th Century_). 3. Prince, Princess, and Cross-Bowman (11_th Century_).

4. Artisans and Artificers (11_th Century_). 5. Military Costumes of the
12th Century. 6. Noble Ladies of Normandy (12_th Century_).]

Games and exercises of strength and agility were common among the
Anglo-Saxons. St. Cuthbert is stated by Bede to have excelled in running,
wrestling, and other athletic sports. Feats of juggling were performed
by the gleemen, who were the most important characters in the festivals
and other popular gatherings. Some of the gleemen seem to have performed
tricks, gambols, and feats of all kinds, while others were harpers, or
bards, and ballad-singers.

The in-door sports were various, and suitable to different ranks. The
games of chess and backgammon were both known, or at least games very
similar to them. Backgammon is said to have been invented in the tenth

The English and other German nations, as well as the Normans, were
strongly attached to the sports of the field. At an early period we find
that hunting was considered a necessary part of the education of every
man of gentle blood. Alfred the Great, before he was twelve years of age,
is represented to have "excelled in all the branches of that most noble
art, to which he applied with incessant labour." We are told also that
Edward the Confessor, though unlike his illustrious ancestor in most
respects, delighted to follow a pack of hounds.


Hawking was a recreation in high favour among the nobles of the Middle
Ages, and was practised also by the clergy and by ladies. In the Bayeux
tapestry Harold is represented with his hounds by his side, and a hawk
in his hand, when brought before William of Normandy. Such a mode of
travelling was common among the noblemen of this period. Persons of high
rank rarely appeared without their hawks, and sometimes even carried them
into battle. These birds were considered as the symbols of nobility, and
a man who gave up his hawk was regarded as disgraced and dishonoured. The
birds were trained and tended with the greatest care. To prevent them
from seeing, their heads were covered with a little cap fastened behind
with straps, and adorned with a plume. The falcons of princes and great
nobles were known by these plumes, being of the feathers of the bird of
paradise. Thus armed, the birds were carried to the chase in a cage, and
when it rained were covered with an umbrella, similar to that represented
in the illustration.

[Illustration: UMBRELLA FOR HAWKS.]

When the falcon became accustomed to his master, it was necessary to
familiarise him to the noise of dogs and men; and to prevent the risk
of his flying away, he was trained by means of the lure, which was an
imitation of a bird. On the lure was placed a small piece of warm flesh
of fowl, and the falcon was taught to come and eat at the voice of the
falconer. A cord was attached to the bird's leg, and the person holding
the cord retired to some paces' distance, while another lifted the bird's
cap, and set him at liberty. The falconer then called the bird, showing
the lure.

[Illustration: HAROLD. (_From the Bayeux Tapestry._)]

These details, with the accompanying engravings, are taken from the
"_Livre du Roy Modus_," the most ancient of all the works on Hawking.

The tournament, which was the principal amusement of the Norman nobility
at the time of the Conquest, was not introduced into England until the
reign of Stephen. Various military exercises were, however, in existence,
among which was the quintain. A staff, from which a shield was hung, was
fixed in the ground, and the performer, on horseback, rode full tilt at
the mark, endeavouring to strike the shield with his lance. Sometimes
the quintain was the figure of a Turk or Saracen, which was placed on a
pivot in such a manner that, if the horseman failed to strike it in the
face, he received a severe blow from the other end of the quintain, which
turned round with great velocity.

[Illustration: HAWKING. (_Royal MS._, 2 _B._ 7, _fol._ 75 _b._)]

Some military sports are described by Strutt as peculiar to the young
men of London in the twelfth century. At this period, also, he tells us
that it was common for the young men and maidens of the city to meet for
dancing and merry-making after the labours of the day, and that the city
damsels played on the citherns, and kept up the dance by the light of the
moon (_usque imminente lunâ_).

Many other sports were also common at this period, among which may be
noticed sword and buckler play, and various games of ball.

The leisure hours of the English women were spent in spinning, or in
similar employments; and the lady of the house did not disdain to be
among her maids, encouraging and assisting them in their duties. Strutt
relates the following account, given by Ingulphus, of Edith, queen to
Edward the Confessor:--"I have often seen her," he says, "while I was
yet a boy, when my father was at the king's palace; and as I came from
school, when I have met her, she would examine me in my learning, and
from grammar she would proceed to logic (which she also understood),
concluding with me in the most subtle argument; then causing one of her
attendant maids to present me with three or four pieces of money, I
was dismissed, being sent to the larder, where I was sure to get some
eatables." The simplicity of manners here described soon disappeared when
the throne of England was occupied by the Norman king.

[Illustration: THE LURE.]

The English appear to have been exceedingly fond of dress. Ladies of rank
wore necklaces, bracelets, and rings, set with precious stones. Mantles,
kirtles, and gowns were also in general use; and rouge was not unknown to

[Illustration: SWORD PLAY.

(_From Strutt's "Manners, Customs, etc., of the English People."_)]

In the men this taste for finery degenerated into effeminacy. They wore
golden collars, and not unfrequently precious stones round the neck;
and the wealthy wore costly bracelets and rings. They had silk, linen,
and woollen garments. Silk, from its costliness, was used only by the
wealthy. The fashion of their garments of course varied. They had large
mantles, which were ornamented with gold and gems; close coats or tunics,
girded with a belt, which Strutt represents as having been put on over
the head like a shirt. Many Englishmen are not aware that the smockfrock
of the husbandmen of our own day is a pure piece of old-English costume;
and if it were well made, tightened with a broad belt, and worn by a man
of good carriage, it would form a much handsomer dress than the unmeaning
stiff-cut coats of our time. Socks and stockings, and other covering for
the legs, are mentioned by English writers.

The articles of costume were of great variety. A taste for gorgeous
finery appears in the dress of the male sex. We read of a king's
coronation garment being made of silk woven with gold flowers; and of a
cloak studded with gold and gems. The dress of the soldiers and civilians
usually consisted of a close coat or tunic, reaching only to the knee,
and a short cloak over the left shoulder, which buckled on the right.
This cloak was often trimmed with an edging of gold. The kings and nobles
also commonly wore a dress very similar to this, only richer and more
elegant. In the paintings of the MSS. the women are usually represented
in a long loose robe, reaching to the ground, and with loose sleeves, the
latter sometimes hanging a yard in length. Upon the head is a hood or
veil, which falls down before, and is gathered into folds round the neck
and breast. The robe is often ornamented with broad borders of different

Both men and women wore shoes, or rather slippers; the legs of the
men being covered half way up with a kind of bandage wound round, or
else a straight stocking reaching above the knee. Up to the period of
the Conquest, the taste for gold ornaments had increased; and massive
bracelets for the arms and neck, rings for the fingers, and chains of
gold were common. Among the nobility circlets of gold set with jewels
were worn on the head; and belts and girdles were much admired, and were
often richly ornamented.

[Illustration: QUINTAIN.]

From the paintings of some of the English MSS. a knowledge may be
gathered of their customs at table. In the engraving of "The English
Dinner Party" given on page 101, the table is of an oval form, and
covered with a cloth. Upon it, besides a knife and spoon, there are a
bowl with a fish, two other dishes, and some loaves of bread. At each
end of the table are two attendants upon their knees, with a dish in one
hand, and in the other a spit holding a piece of meat, which they are
presenting to the guests. In other drawings of the MSS. the table is of
a different form; ladies are shown as present, and the two sexes are
arranged apparently without any precise order.

[Illustration: BOB APPLE. (_From Royal MS._, 2 _B._ 7, _fol._ 166 _b._)]

Cups of gold and silver were used, and also of bone and wood. Horns were
much in vogue at table. A curiously carved horn of the Old English times
is still preserved in York Cathedral. Glass vessels were little known in
this country previous to the Norman Conquest. A disciple of Bede applied
to Lullus in France, to know if there was any man in that neighbourhood,
who could make glass vessels well; "for," said he, "we are ignorant and
helpless in this art."

[Illustration: SAXON COSTUMES. (_From Strutt._)]

Of the furniture in use among the English little information has come
down to us. Mention may, however, be made of hangings to be suspended
on the walls of rooms, and adorned with figures of golden birds in
needlework. The love of gaudy colours which prevailed at that day was
apparent in the furniture as well as in the dresses of the people; and
the hangings and curtains were stained with purple and various other
colours. Among the benches and chairs in use, some are represented as
having animals' heads at the extremities.

[Illustration: SAXON COSTUMES. (_Cott. MS. Claud. B._ 4.)]

Candles have probably been in use from a period of high antiquity,
and were certainly known in the tenth century. The English word
for candlestick--_candelsticca_--seems to denote that the earlier
candlesticks were made of wood. At this period the candle was not placed
in a socket, as at present, but fixed on a long spike.

We find mention made of a curtain, sheets, and other clothes
appertaining. A pillow of straw is also mentioned. Bear-skins were
sometimes used as a part of bed furniture.

[Illustration: ENGLISH CROWNS.]

The English seem to have practised great personal cleanliness. The use
of warm baths was common, for mention is made of a nun, who, as an act
of voluntary penance, washed in them only on festivals. It was also
enjoined by the canons as a charitable duty to give to the poor meal,
fire, fodder, bathing, bed and clothes.

At the time of the Conquest the condition of the people in France and
Normandy differed little from what it was in our own country, though
superior refinement reigned at the courts. The nobles and higher
ecclesiastics, all who possessed wealth, or who were in a position to
seize it by force, inhabited their castles and country houses, where
they collected about them whatever the age could afford of objects of
luxury and elegance. Solitude and discouragement reigned around their
dwellings. Industry and the arts languished obscurely in the towns, and
commerce, restrained in its developments, was often conducted in secrecy
and danger. The merchant was compelled to travel with his goods from
the castle of one baron to that of another, and, living without a fixed
residence or depôt for them, he could by this means escape the exactions
of the nobles, who, in fact, were to some extent dependent upon his
services. Frequently the baron would cause some of his serfs to learn
the mechanical arts, so that the several labours of the carpenter, the
armourer, the tailor, &c., might be available at once when required.

[Illustration: ENGLISH SHOES.]

[Illustration: ENGLISH DINNER PARTY. (_From Cotton MS. Tib. C._ 6, _fol._ 5

From an early period the Franks of noble race wore long hair and beards,
and the custom of Christian priests was the same until the third and
fourth centuries. In the time of Charles the Great the costume was still
simple. The Franks piqued themselves upon their elegance; of which an
example may be found in the journey of Rigonda, daughter of Childeric, to
visit the king of the Spanish Goths, to whom she was betrothed. "Rigonda,
daughter of Childeric, arrived at Tours with her treasures. Seeing that
she had reached the frontier of the Goths, she began to retard her march,
and so much the more because those about her said it was necessary for
her to stop in that neighbourhood, because they were fatigued with the
journey; their clothes were dirty, their shoes worn out, and the harness
of their horses and chariots in a bad condition. They insisted that it
was necessary, first, to place these things in good order, so as to
continue the journey, and appear with elegance before their lady's future
husband, lest, if they arrived badly equipped among the Goths, they
should be laughed at."[2]


(_A and C from the effigy of Berengaria of Navarre on her tomb at
Fontevrault; B from the effigy of Isabella d'Angoulême at Fontevrault.
From Stothard's "Monumental Effigies."_)]

The Normans, who arrived with their short dresses and coats of mail,
adopted the costume of the Franks, which they followed in all its phases;
and in the following century they began to introduce the fashions of the
Continent into England. At the time of the Conquest, however, the custom
generally prevailed among the Normans of shaving not only the beard, but
the back of the head, as appears from the figures in the Bayeux tapestry.

In the tenth and eleventh centuries the costume of the higher classes
usually consisted of a long tunic, confined by a girdle, over which was a
large cloak. The soldiers wore a short coat of mail over a tunic, which
descended to the knees; their arms comprised the long-bow, the crossbow,
the sword, lance, buckler, and gisarme. The gisarme is said to be the
weapon called the brown bill by Chaucer. It was in general use in the
twelfth century, and was retained as late as the battle of Flodden.

The costume of the women of Normandy consisted of a simple head-dress,
with long robes girded about the waist. In paintings of this period
the hair is seldom seen, but the manner in which it was worn appears
to have varied. Sometimes it is represented as gathered tightly about
the head, and sometimes it descends in long plaits upon the shoulders.
Princesses and ladies of rank wore a robe of ermine, or a tunic either
with or without sleeves; a veil was also added, which covered the head,
and descended in folds over the bosom.


After the death of Charles the Great literature and the arts in France
experienced a gradual decline until the tenth century, when a new and
remarkable impetus was given to learning by the Moors in Spain. English
learning, which had flourished during the reigns of Alfred and his
immediate successors, began rapidly to decay during the stormy period
of the Danish invasions; and from the time of the accession of Canute
to that of the Norman Conquest little or no revival of letters appears
to have taken place. During the period which intervened between these
two events the country enjoyed a considerable degree of repose, and it
can hardly be doubted that some of the schools and religious houses were
re-established; but the long period of peace was marked by the growth of
indolence and sensuality among the people, rather than by the spread of

[Illustration: ENGLISH BED. (_Cotton MS. Claud. B._ 4, _fol._ 27 _b._)]

William the Conqueror, says a modern writer, "patronised and loved
letters. He filled the bishoprics and abbacies of England with the most
learned of his countrymen, who had been educated at the University
of Paris, at that time the most flourishing school in Europe. Many of
the Norman prelates preferred in England by the Conqueror were polite
scholars. Godfrey, Prior of St. Swithin's, at Winchester, a native of
Cambray, was an elegant Latin epigrammatist, and wrote with the smartness
and ease of Martial; a circumstance which, by the way, shows that the
literature of the monks at this period was of a more liberal cast than
that which we commonly annex to their character and profession."

[Illustration: CHAIRS. (_Cotton MS. Tib. C._ 6.)]

William founded the abbeys of Battle and Selby, with other religious
houses, and endowed them with ample revenues. Many of his nobles were
incited by his example to the erection of monasteries upon their estates.
These institutions, which afforded leisure and protection to men of
letters, acted as powerful incentives to the pursuit of learning, and
promoted in no small degree the interest of literature.

INCHES. (_British Museum._)]

The art of the sculptor had made little progress in Europe previous
to the tenth century. Two centuries later, the Burgundian school was
in its zenith, and enriched the churches and monasteries of France
with many admirable specimens of sculpture. Bernard II., Abbé of
Montier-Saint-Jean, in rebuilding the door of his church, caused it to
be adorned with representations of the Saviour and the twelve apostles;
and in other instances the arts were applied to decorate the religious
houses, or the graves of the illustrious dead.

In Normandy we find at this period the names of several sculptors
celebrated for their works. Among these was Otho, the sculptor of the
tomb of William the Conqueror, in 1087, and other monuments of a similar
kind; Azo, builder of the cathedral of Sens, and of several others.
The masons and sculptors of Normandy formed at this epoch an important

[Illustration: NORMAN VESSEL. (_From Strutt._)]

At the beginning of the twelfth century, when the Normans became securely
established in their conquests, they displayed the utmost activity in the
erection of magnificent buildings both in England and Normandy. According
to William of Malmesbury,[3] churches rose up in every village, and
monasteries in the towns and cities, built in a style unknown before.
"You might behold ancient buildings restored upon their sites throughout
the country, so that each wealthy man considered that day as lost to him,
on which he neglected to perform some magnificent action."

The Anglo-Norman barons who engaged in these works obtained from their
own country and from France the assistance of the best architects and
sculptors. William of Sens, one of these artists, reconstructed the
cathedral of Canterbury in 1176; and other foreign artists were employed
to restore the abbeys of Croyland, of York, of Monkwearmouth, and others.

[Illustration: NORMAN SOLDIERS. (_From the Bayeux Tapestry._)]

While it is evident that results highly favourable to the progress of
literature and the arts in this country were produced by the Norman
conquest, there is also every reason to believe that the tendency to
sensuality, which was so strong among the English people, experienced
a salutary check from the introduction of Norman manners. The foreign
invasion entailed immediate sufferings upon the conquered race, but its
results were favourable to the progress of civilisation, and tended in no
small degree to the advance of the nation in power and greatness.


The Normans are understood to have introduced into England many
elegancies and refinements in the habits of common life and the customs
of the table. It has been already stated that the English were a people
of gross appetite, who were accustomed to spend many hours of the day
at feasts. The Normans, on the other hand, appear, on their arrival
in England, to have distinguished themselves by the moderation and
refinement of their mode of living. Among the dainties held in the
highest esteem by the Normans were the peacock and the crane. The boar's
head was considered a regal dish, and it was brought in at great feasts
in a kind of procession, preceded by musicians.

[Illustration: WOMAN SPINNING. (_Royal MS._, 10 _E._ 4, _fol._ 187.)]

It would appear that the improvements thus introduced were rather moral
than material, as we find no mention made of new articles of furniture
or other conveniences as having appeared at the time of the Conquest.
Our information on this subject, is, however, scanty, and it is probable
that the improvement of taste and increased wealth were soon manifested
in the application of the useful and decorative arts to the conveniences
of domestic life.

A most faithful and valuable record of costumes and manners at the time
of the Conquest is to be found in the remarkable work known as the
Bayeux Tapestry, which tradition has, probably with justice, ascribed to
Matilda, the wife of the Conqueror.

The Bayeux tapestry is a chronicle of the conquest of England by the
Normans, opening with the mission of Harold to Duke William, and
terminating with the battle of Hastings. The designs, which were probably
the work of an Italian artist, are represented in worsted work, the
colours of which, notwithstanding the great age of the tapestry, are
still bright and distinct. The tapestry was placed at an early period
in a side chapel of the cathedral of Bayeux, where it was regarded with
veneration by the people. During the consulate of Napoleon, the ancient
relic was removed from Bayeux to Paris, where it remained for several
months, and was visited by the First Consul himself. At the present time
the tapestry is preserved in the library of the town of Bayeux, and is
exposed to view in glass cases.

This remarkable monument of skill and industry originally formed one
piece; and, according to a learned authority,[4] measures two hundred
and twenty-seven feet in length, by about twenty inches in breadth. The
groundwork of it is a strip of rather fine linen cloth, which, through
age, has assumed the tinge of brown holland. The stitches consist of
lines of coloured worsted laid side by side, and bound down at intervals
by cross fastenings. The colours chiefly used are dark and light blue,
red, pink, yellow, buff, and dark and light green.

The central portion of the tapestry is occupied with the delineation of
the narrative, and there is also an ornamental border at the top and
bottom of the field, which contains figures of birds and beasts. Many
of these are of fantastic shapes, and are, probably, meant to represent
the dragons, griffins, and other fabulous creatures which are so often
referred to in the romances of that period.


The two upper lines of the engraving of the tapestry on page 105 are
consecutive. They have been chosen for illustration as affording a
favourable view of the character of the design. The story is taken up
at the part where Harold, after swearing fealty to William of Normandy
on the relics of the saints, returns to England, and presents himself
to King Edward. The first words which occur over the figures at the top
of the page are, "_Anglicam terram_." The complete sentence, the former
part of which is omitted in the engraving, reads thus:--"_Hic Harold
dux reversus est Anglicam terram_" ("Here the Lord Harold returned
to England"). The horsemen of Harold's train are represented on their
way to the court; "_Et venit ad Edwardum regem_" ("And came to Edward
the king"). Farther on we see Edward seated on his throne, and Harold
receiving audience and communicating the ill success of his adventure.


The tapestry proceeds to depict Harold's unfortunate descent upon the
Norman coast, his capture by Guy of Ponthieu, his release by William the
Conqueror, the expedition into Brittany, and the ceremony of the fateful
oath. "_Hic Willelmus venit Bagias ubi Haroldus sacramentum fecit_"
("Here William comes to Bayeux, where Harold takes an oath") is all the
information we have on this most important event.

Worn down by anxiety, and by the anticipation of evils which he foresaw,
but was unable to prevent, Edward the Confessor soon afterwards died,
and was buried at Westminster, in the church which he had himself built
in a new and costly style of architecture. The tapestry shows us the
church of St. Peter, at Westminster, and the funeral procession of the
king. It will be observed that the church, which was built in the Early
Norman style, is provided at one end with a weathercock, which a workman
is represented in the act of putting up. "By this," says the authority
already quoted, "the designer of the tapestry means to show that the
work was but just completed, when the interment of the Confessor took
place. A hand appears over the western end of the church to denote the
finger of Providence, and to indicate that it was the will of God that
the remains of the deceased king should be deposited in that building."
The arrangements of the funeral procession are simple--a boy appears at
each side of the bier ringing bells, and various attendants and priests
are following. The words written above are: "_Hic portatur corpus Edwardi
regis ad ecclesiam sancti Petri Apostoli_" ("Here the body of King Edward
is carried to the church of St. Peter the Apostle").

Then the artist represents to us the election of Harold; the appearance
of the comet at Eastertide which filled men's mind with fear, and the
anger of Duke William when he heard of the choice of the English.
Then follows a series of most spirited representations of the Norman
preparations; the working men felling trees, preparing planks, and
dragging the ships to the shore. Presently the great armament is observed
in full sail across the Channel, and a little farther on the horses
disembark. Then comes a series of tableaux representing the movements of
William and his comrades until Harold comes southwards. "_Hic milites
exierunt de Hestengâ et venerunt ad prelium contra Haroldum regem_"
("Here the soldiers have departed from Hastings and march to battle
against Harold the king").


The engraving on this page is taken from another portion of the tapestry,
and represents the battle of Hastings. The thick of the combat is here
delineated, according to the inscription, "_Hic ceciderunt simul Angli et
Franci in prelio_" ("Here at the same time English and French fell in the
battle"). Horses and men are tumbling about in the agonies of death. The
mailed coats and pointed helmets of the Normans are easily distinguished
from the English costume. Farther on we find a party of English posted on
the hill, who are making a desperate stand against the enemy with their
lances. At a time when the fortune of the day seemed turning against
the Normans, Odo of Bayeux galloped among the soldiers, and restored
their drooping courage. He is represented in the tapestry with a staff,
probably a badge of authority, and the inscription above is: "_Hic Odo
episcopus, tenens baculum, confortat pueros_" ("Here Bishop Odo, holding
a staff, encourages the soldiers").

The last figure in the engraving is that of the Duke of Normandy, who is
represented at the head of his troops waving his sword. The inscription
runs: "_Hic est Dux Wilhelm_" ("This is Duke William").

The tapestry itself goes on to delineate other details of the battle,
describes the place where Harold fell, and ends with the flight of the
English before the conquering troops of Normandy.



     After Hastings---Election of Edgar Atheling--Submission of London
     and Accession of William--Tumult during his Coronation--Character
     of his Government--Return to Normandy---Affairs during his
     Absence--Suppression of the First English Rebellion--Rebellion in
     the North--The Last National Effort--The Reform of the Church--The
     Erection of Castles--Plan of a Norman Castle--End of Edwin and
     Morcar--"The Last of the Saxons"--Affairs in Maine--Conspiracy of
     the Norman Nobles--The Execution of Waltheof--Punishment of Ralph
     the Wader--The Story of Walcher of Durham--Expeditions to Scotland
     and Wales--Quarrels between William and his Sons--Domesday
     Book--The Creation of the New Forest--Punishment of Odo of
     Bayeux--The Death of William--Incidents at his Burial--Character
     of William.

Great as were the disasters of Hastings, the English were still in a
position to offer a powerful resistance, had they been united and firm.
The population of London took up arms, and were further strengthened by
the arrival of the Earls Edwin and Morcar within their walls, who now
saw how foolish their previous treachery had been. The Witena-gemot was
convened, in which, as the brothers of Harold were both slain, and his
sons too young to govern, Edgar Atheling, the grand-nephew of Edward
the Confessor, the only descendant of Cerdic, was elected king, chiefly
through the influence of the primate Stigand, and Aldred, Archbishop of

Although dear to the people on account of his birth, Edgar possessed
no one quality necessary for the crisis which menaced his kingdom. So
weak was his character, that it would have been difficult for him, under
the most favourable circumstances, to have maintained himself upon the
throne; and he was totally unfitted to cope with an adversary, who was
not only the most warlike, but one of the ablest princes of his time.

William remained for some days quietly at Hastings after his victory, not
doubting that the terrified inhabitants of London would send a deputation
to his camp with offers of submission. This inactivity, however, was
but of short duration. Finding that no one came to him with offers from
the English, and learning that several vessels which his wife Matilda
had sent to him with reinforcements from Normandy had been attacked and
driven from the coast at Romney, the duke felt that it was time to act,
but tempered his ardour with prudence.

His first care was to assure his communications with the continent, and
establish a post to which he could retreat in case of reverse. With this
intention, he followed with his army the line of coast between Hastings
and Dover, stopping by the way at Romney, which he pillaged and burnt.
The garrison of Dover Castle, a fortress at that time deemed impregnable,
yielded without a blow, vanquished by the terror of his name; and was
replaced by a force of Normans. Here William remained till he received
fresh troops and supplies from Normandy; after which, he advanced with
the flower of his army to London.

Finding the approaches to the city well defended, the Conqueror made
no attempt to carry it by assault, but dispersed his troops in the
neighbourhood, with orders to burn and plunder the villages, and to
intercept all supplies to the capital. The two earls, Morcar and
Edwin--refusing to yield obedience to the phantom of a king whom the
ambitious prelates, who hoped to govern in his name, had caused to
be elected--had retired to their respective governments. After their
departure the military authority fell into the hands of Esegar. Although
deprived of the use of his limbs, he caused himself to be borne on his
litter to every point of the city, examined the defences, and exercised
the utmost vigilance and zeal for the general safety.

But the earls and people gradually withdrew their allegiance from
the feeble Edgar, and resolved to take the oath of fidelity to a new
sovereign in the camp of the Normans. The primate Stigand was the first
who went over to William, whom he encountered at Wallingford, and who
received him with hollow marks of affection and respect, addressing him
by the titles of "Archbishop" and "Father" in exchange for those of
"King" and "Son." The example of Stigand was quickly followed by his
brother of York, and the principal nobles and prelates who had assembled
in London. At length Edgar Atheling himself came and resigned into the
hands of the Conqueror the crown he had so lately received. William
accepted it with affected modesty, invited the barons to express their
wishes, and, on finally ascending the throne, made it appear that he did
so in obedience to their desire.

Christmas Day was the day fixed for the coronation of the new king,
and the church of Westminster the place appointed; but before trusting
himself within the walls of London, the wily Norman caused some of the
strongest entrenchments to be destroyed, and commenced strengthening the
fortress which has since grown into the Tower of London.

William decided on receiving the crown from the hands of Aldred,
Archbishop of York, and he also resolved that the ceremony should take
place with the same formalities which marked the accession of the Saxon
kings, wishing to appear to hold his crown, not as conqueror, but as the
elect of the English people.

A serious tumult took place during the ceremony. When the archbishop
demanded of the assembled nobles whether they would have William for
their king, the reply was given with acclamations so loud as to startle
the Norman soldiers stationed outside the church. Supposing that an
attack was being made upon their duke, the troops rushed to the English
houses adjoining the abbey, and set them on fire. Both Norman and Saxon
nobles rushed from the sacred edifice, leaving their new sovereign and
a few churchmen alone within the walls. Keeping his self-possession,
William commanded that the ceremony should be concluded; and in the midst
of the cries of his new subjects, who were being massacred on all sides,
the flames of the burning houses, the pillage and devastation, he took
the oath to govern according to the laws of the kings his predecessors.
Directly after his coronation, William, not deeming himself in perfect
safety in London, whose inhabitants bitterly resented the outrage they
had been subjected to, removed to Barking, where he received the homage
of many of the great earls, churchmen, and thanes.

The conduct of William at this period appears to have been most prudent;
he respected the rights of his new subjects and the laws of property,
though it was impossible for him to restrain the rapacious disposition of
his followers. The treasures of Harold and the donations of the nobility,
which were supposed to be voluntary, furnished the first largess, which
he distributed amongst his companions in arms. He granted at least
nominal privileges to the citizens of London, in the hope of reconciling
them to his government, and took strong measures to secure the future
tranquillity of the capital. It is true that he disarmed the inhabitants;
but at the same time, in order to establish a favourable impression of
his justice, he punished with rigour various acts of outrage that had
been committed. He introduced into England that strict execution of
justice for which his administration had been celebrated in Normandy;
and even during this violent revolution, disorder and oppression met
with rigorous punishment. His army in particular was governed with
severe discipline; and, notwithstanding the insolence of victory, care
was taken to give as little offence as possible to the jealousy of the
vanquished. The king seemed solicitous to unite, in an amicable manner,
the Normans and the English, by intermarriages and alliances; and all
his new subjects who approached his person were received with affability
and regard. No signs of suspicion appeared, not even towards Edgar
Atheling, the heir of the ancient royal family, whom William confirmed in
the honours of Earl of Oxford, conferred on him by Harold, and whom he
affected to treat with the highest kindness, as nephew to the Confessor,
his great friend and benefactor. Though he confiscated the estates of
Harold, and of those who had fought in the battle of Hastings on the side
of that prince, whom he represented as a usurper, he seemed willing to
admit of every plausible excuse for past opposition to his pretensions,
and received many into favour who had carried arms against him.

William set sail from England in the month of May, 1067, to return to
Normandy, accompanied by the most considerable nobility of England,
who, while they served to grace his court by their presence and
magnificent retinues, were in reality hostages for the fidelity of
the nation. Among these were Edgar Atheling, Stigand the primate, the
Earls Edwin and Morcar, Waltheof, the son of the brave Earl Siward,
with others eminent for the greatness of their fortunes and families,
or for their ecclesiastical and civil dignities. During his absence,
William had entrusted the government of his newly-acquired country to
his half-brother and most trusted companion, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux,
and William Fitz-Osborn. The affection of the king had elevated Odo
at a very early age to the see of Bayeux, where he displayed great
ability, not only in the administration of the affairs of his diocese,
but in the councils of his sovereign. In obedience to the canon of the
Church, which strictly forbids the shedding of blood by a priest, he
never carried arms, although he constantly attended his brother in all
his battles, assisting him with his advice and resources, which were
large. He was, says a contemporary historian, "a prelate of such rare
and noble qualities, that the English, barbarians as they were, could
not but admire him." To Odo had been assigned the government of Kent
and the South, the remainder of the kingdom being committed to the care
of Fitz-Osborn. This noble was the steadfast friend of the Conqueror,
whom he invariably supported in his disputes with his own turbulent
Norman subjects, and to his influence was attributed the resolution of
William to make good his claims to the crown of England by the invasion
of the country. Fitz-Osborn was looked upon by the Normans as one of
the greatest warriors of the age; and by the subjugated and suffering
English as the powerful instrument of the Conqueror in oppressing their
unhappy country, which he ruled with a rod of iron.

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF WILLIAM I.]

Discontents and complaints multiplied rapidly during the absence
of William, and secret conspiracies were entered into against the
government. The Norman historians throw the blame of these proceedings on
the fickle, turbulent spirit of the English, who, doubtless, when they
began to recover from their panic and surprise, felt ashamed of having
yielded so tamely to the enemy. The inhabitants of Kent, who had been
the first to acknowledge him, were also the first to attempt to shake
off the yoke, and, assisted by Eustace, Count of Boulogne, endeavoured
to surprise the castle of Dover, but failed. Edric the Forester, being
pressed by the ravages committed by the Normans on his lands, entered
into an alliance with two Welsh princes to repel force by force. A secret
conspiracy was gradually formed throughout England to get rid of the
Normans by a general massacre, like that perpetrated on the Danes. So
strong were the feelings of the Saxons, that the vassals of Earl Copsige,
on the refusal of that noble to lead them against the invaders, put him
to death as a traitor to his country.

The king, informed of these proceedings, hastened over to England,
and by his sudden appearance disconcerted the machinations of his
new subjects. Those who were most compromised in these transactions
betrayed their fears by flight, and William confiscated their estates,
which he bestowed upon his Norman followers. The inhabitants of Exeter,
however, instigated by Gytha, mother to King Harold, refused to admit
a Norman garrison; and betaking themselves to arms, were strengthened
by the assistance of the neighbouring inhabitants of Devonshire and
Cornwall. The king hastened with his forces to chastise this revolt;
and on his approach, the wiser and more considerable citizens, sensible
of the unequal contest, persuaded the people to submit, and to deliver
hostages for their obedience. A sudden mutiny of the populace broke this
agreement; and William, appearing before the walls, ordered the eyes
of one of the hostages to be put out, as an earnest of the severity
which the rebels might expect if they persevered in their revolt. The
inhabitants, undaunted by this savage act, refused to surrender, and
sustained the attack of the king's forces for eighteen days, during which
the besiegers suffered heavy loss. When the city at length was taken, the
brave men of Exeter obtained terms by which their lives and property were
secured to them. William then proceeded to conquer Gloucestershire and

Although Fortune appeared to lavish her smiles upon the Conqueror, bitter
discontent was brooding in the hearts of the English, who saw themselves
stripped one by one of their liberties and privileges, and whenever they
met with the Normans in small parties the people set on them and slew
them without mercy. An insurrection at last broke out in the north of
England, headed by the Earls Morcar and Edwin, who bitterly regretted
their short-sighted policy in not having supported Edgar Atheling on the
throne. Before appealing to arms, these powerful nobles had secured the
assistance of the Welsh; of Malcolm, King of Scotland; and of Sweyn,
King of Denmark. Edwin was opposing the King because the latter, who had
promised his daughter to the earl in marriage, would not keep his word.

William knew the importance of celerity in quelling a revolt, especially
when supported by such powerful leaders. He advanced, therefore, with
rapid marches towards the north. On his way he gave orders to fortify
Warwick Castle, which he committed to the government of Henry de
Beaumont, one of his nobles; while Nottingham Castle was entrusted to
William Peverell, another Norman leader. Using the utmost expedition, the
Conqueror reached York before the promised succour had arrived or the
English were prepared for resistance; the city threw open its gates to
the Conqueror. "Their submission was received," as Lingard says, "with a
promise of forgiveness, and a resolution of vengeance." The king at this
time fortified several castles in different parts of the country, and
thus securing possession of the military power, left Edwin and Morcar,
whom he pretended to spare, destitute of all support, and the two earls
had no other resource than to appeal to William's clemency. A peace
which he made with Malcolm, who did him homage for Cumberland, seemed
at the same time to deprive them of all prospect of foreign assistance.
Edgar Atheling, dreading the unscrupulous policy of William, yielded to
the advice of Cospatrick, a powerful Northumbrian noble, and fled with
him, accompanied by his mother Agatha and his two sisters Margaret and
Christina, to Scotland, where they were hospitably received by Malcolm,
who soon afterwards espoused the former princess--the latter became a nun.

In 1069 the English made their final effort of resistance. Godwin,
Edmund, and Magnus, three sons of Harold, had, immediately after the
defeat at Hastings, sought a retreat in Ireland, where, having met with
a kind reception from Dermot and other princes of that country, they
projected an invasion of England; and they hoped that all the exiles
from Denmark, Scotland, and Wales, assisted by forces from these several
countries, would at once commence hostilities, and rouse the English
against their haughty conquerors. They landed in Devonshire, but found
Count Brian of Brittany, at the head of some foreign troops, ready to
oppose them, and, being defeated in several actions, they were obliged to
retreat to their ships, and return to Ireland.

The efforts of William, however, were now directed to the north, where
affairs had fallen into the utmost confusion. Robert de Comines, the
newly-appointed Earl of Durham, was surprised in the town by the
exasperated people, and put to death, with the whole of his followers.
This success animated the inhabitants of York, who, rising in arms,
besieged in the castle William Malet, their governor. William, however,
soon put down the rebellion, built a second castle, and then retired
southwards. In September the Danish troops landed from 240 vessels;
Osberne, brother of King Sweyn, was entrusted with the command of these
forces, and he was accompanied by Harold and Canute, two sons of that
monarch; Edgar Atheling appeared from Scotland, and brought along with
him Cospatrick, Waltheof, Siward, and other leaders, who, partly from
the hopes which they gave of Scottish succours, and partly from their
authority in those parts, easily persuaded the warlike and discontented
Northumbrians to join the insurrection. Malet, that he might better
provide for the defence of the citadel of York, set fire to some houses
which lay contiguous; but this expedient proved the immediate cause of
his destruction. The flames, spreading into the neighbouring streets,
reduced the whole city to ashes. The enraged inhabitants, aided by the
Danes, took advantage of the confusion to attack the castle, which they
carried by assault, and put the garrison, consisting of three thousand
men, to the sword. This success gave the signal for the inhabitants
of many other parts of England to show their hatred of the Normans.
Hereward, a noble of East Anglia, assembled a considerable force, and
taking a position on the island of Ely, made successful incursions in the
country round him. The English, in the counties of Somerset and Dorset,
rose in arms and assaulted the castle of Montacute, while the warlike
inhabitants of Cornwall and Devon laid siege to Exeter, which, from a
grateful recollection of the clemency William had shown them, remained
faithful to his interests. Edric the Forester laid siege to Shrewsbury,
and made head against Count Brian and Fitz-Osborn. In short, the whole
nation rose, like a man suddenly awakened from a dream, and seemed
resolved to atone for the abjectness of its previous submission by a
vigorous and well-organised resistance to its oppressors.

William, however, appeared undismayed by the storm lowering on every
side around him. Calling his army together, he marched rapidly towards
the north, where the rebellion appeared the most formidable, knowing
that a defeat there would strike terror into the rest of the insurgents.
Joining policy with force, he made a separate treaty with the Danes,
offering them, as the price of their withdrawal into Denmark, permission
to plunder and ravage the sea-coasts. Cospatrick also, despairing of
success, paid to the Conqueror a large sum to be received once more into
favour; he was afterwards invested with the earldom of Northumberland as
the price of his submission. The King of Scotland arrived too late with
his succours, and found himself obliged to retire; and all the insurgents
in various parts of the country either dispersed or laid down their
arms, with the exception of the East Anglian noble Hereward, who still
kept possession of the island of Ely. Edgar Atheling, finding himself
unsupported, withdrew with his followers and friends once more into
Scotland; and the kingdom, without any great battle being fought, once
more submitted to the iron yoke of the Normans. Sensible of the restless
disposition of the Northumbrians, William determined to incapacitate
them ever after from giving disturbance; and he issued orders for laying
entirely waste that fertile country, which for the extent of sixty miles
lies between the Humber and the Tees. The houses were reduced to ashes by
the merciless Normans; the cattle seized and driven away; the instruments
of husbandry destroyed; and the inhabitants were compelled either to seek
for subsistence in the southern parts of Scotland, or, if they lingered
in England from a reluctance to abandon their ancient habitations,
perished miserably in the woods from cold and hunger. The lives of
100,000 persons are computed to have been sacrificed to this stroke of
barbarous policy, which, by seeking a remedy for a temporary evil, thus
inflicted a lasting wound on the power and opulence of the nation. The
subjugation of the English was completed by the conquest of Chester.

William next proceeded to replace Englishmen in the church by Normans.
Amongst the English churchmen was Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, a
man who by the greatness of his birth, the extent of his possessions, and
the dignity of his office, was marked out as the first victim.

Not deeming it safe to violate the respect due to the primate, William
waited the arrival of the Bishop of Sion, the legate of the Pope in
England. It was not deference to the see of Rome alone which induced
William to receive the Papal envoy, but the desire of using him for a
political purpose which he had long meditated; and the legate consented
to become the supporter of his tyranny. He summoned, therefore, a council
of the prelates and abbots at Winchester; and being assisted by two
cardinals, Peter and John, he cited before him Stigand, Archbishop of
Canterbury, to answer for his conduct. The primate was accused of three
crimes: the holding of the see of Winchester, together with that of
Canterbury; the officiating in the pall of Robert, his predecessor; and
the having received his own pall from Benedict IX., who was afterwards
deposed for simony, and for intrusion into the Papacy. These crimes of
Stigand were mere pretences, since the first had been a practice not
unusual in England, and was never anywhere subjected to a higher penalty
than a resignation of one of the sees; the second was a pure ceremonial;
and as Benedict was the only pope who then officiated, and his acts were
never repealed, all the prelates of the Church, especially those who
lived at a distance, were excusable for making their applications to him.
Stigand's ruin, however, was resolved on, and was prosecuted with great
severity. The legate degraded him from his dignity; the king confiscated
his estate, and cast him into prison, where he continued in poverty and
want during the remainder of his life.

[Illustration: PLAN OF A NORMAN CASTLE. (_J. C. Dudley._)]

Like rigour was exercised against the other English prelates. Ethelric,
Bishop of Selsey, and Ethelmer, of East Anglia, were deposed by the
legate, and imprisoned by the king. Many considerable abbots shared
the same fate: Ethelwine, Bishop of Durham, fled the kingdom. Wulstan,
of Worcester, a man of inoffensive character, was the only English
prelate that escaped this general proscription. Brompton relates that
the last-named bishop was also deprived of his dignities by the synod;
but refusing to deliver his pastoral staff and ring to any but the
person from whom he first received it, he went immediately to King
Edward's tomb, and struck the staff so deeply into the stone that none
but himself was able to pull it out; on which he was allowed to retain
possession of his dignity. Aldred, Archbishop of York, who had crowned
the Conqueror, died about the same time. He left his malediction, it
is said, to William, on account of the wrongs he had inflicted on the
people. The deposing of Stigand gave the king an opportunity of paying
a long debt of gratitude to Lanfranc, a Lombard priest, by raising him
to the vacant dignity. This abbot had been sent by him shortly after
his marriage with Matilda to the court of Rome, to obtain the Papal
dispensation for their union, it having been discovered, after the
ceremony had taken place, that they were related within the prohibited
degrees. The new archbishop showed himself exceedingly unbending where
the prerogatives of the primacy were in question. After a long contest
before the Pope, he compelled Thomas, a Norman monk, who had been
appointed to the see of York, to acknowledge his superiority, a point
which had hitherto been warmly contested between the occupants of the
rival sees. The zeal of the new primate in supporting the interests of
Rome met with great success. It is true that William, during his reign,
rarely felt inconvenience from it, for with his strong hand and iron
will he kept the Church in subjection to the Crown, and would allow none
to dispute his sovereign will and pleasure. He prohibited his subjects
from acknowledging any one for Pope whom he himself had not previously
received: he required that all the ecclesiastical canons, voted in any
synod, should first be laid before him, and be ratified by his authority;
even bulls, or letters from Rome, could not legally be produced, till
they received the same sanction; and none of his ministers or barons,
whatever offences they were guilty of, could be subjected to spiritual
censures till he himself had given his consent to their excommunication;
also, while agreeing that the tax on every house, known as Peter's pence,
should be paid to the Pope, William proudly refused to do him homage.

In order to secure the subjection of his new subjects, the Conqueror
did not neglect the important means which the erection of castles or
fortresses presented. Amongst others, he either built, or caused his
chief vassals to build, those of Pevensey, Hastings, and the White Tower
of London. The castles, or stone-built fortresses of England, previous to
the Conquest, were few and inconsiderable. Those erected by the Romans
had fallen into ruin; and although Alfred the Great had strengthened
the defences of the country by upwards of fifty towers of defence, they
had not been kept up by his successors; and to this neglect the speedy
reduction of the country to the Norman yoke may, in a large measure, be
attributed. There were no long and wearisome sieges to undertake; no
position capable of holding an army in check for any length of time: all
was left to the chance of an open battle.

At the period previous to the Conquest, the castles and places of
strength were chiefly of wood. William determined to alter this, and
speedily commenced the erection of his strongholds, and in process of
time the great feudal barons followed his example.

In order to afford an idea of these structures, we shall, as briefly
as possible, give a general idea of a Norman fortress or castle. It
consisted of an enclosure, varying, according to the importance of its
position, of from five to ten acres of land, and, where circumstances
rendered it possible, was surrounded by a moat or artificial canal, on
the edge of which was a strong wall enclosing a second wall. Between
these was the first ballium, or outer court. Within the second wall,
which surrounded the keep, or great tower, were storehouses for the
garrison, and other offices, as well as lodgings for the troops. In the
centre of the interior space stood the citadel, keep, or master tower,
in which resided the governor, or feudal possessor; in his absence, the
castellan inhabited it, exercising the same authority as his chief. This
last edifice was generally erected on an artificial or natural mound.
It contained the state apartments, together with the domestic offices,
and, in the centre, below the foundations, the dungeons for prisoners
of war and other captives, such as felons, who had fallen under the
jurisdiction of the lord or governor. In many instances there were
secret means of access to these prisons by narrow passages contrived
in the walls. In advance of the moat stood the barbican, or outward
defence, with a watch-tower, communicating with the interior by means of
a drawbridge, which drew up from within, so as to be under the direction
of the sentinel or guard. The entrance to the ballium, or outward court,
was still further secured by a strong gate, defended by a portcullis,
to be raised or lowered as occasion required, by means of strong iron
chains and pulleys. The walls were further protected by battlements,
perforated by loopholes, through which arrows could be discharged, and
towers were planted at various distances. The outward walls were seldom
less than seven feet in thickness, and those of the keep frequently as
many as fifteen. Before the discovery of gunpowder and the invention
of artillery, these strongholds might be considered impregnable; and
when taken it was generally by famine, or through the treachery of some
portion of the garrison. Figuratively speaking, they were so many Norman
bridles to check the impatience of the half-broken English steed. The
English had now the mortification to find that as William's authority
increased it was employed in their oppression; that the scheme of
subjection had been craftily planned, and was being relentlessly carried
out, attended by every circumstance of indignity and insult calculated to
wound the pride of a susceptible people.

The position of the two Earls Morcar and Edwin soon became intolerable;
for, notwithstanding that they had stood aloof during the last
insurrection of their countrymen, and maintained their allegiance,
William treated them with disrespect; and the hungry adventurers who
surrounded his court, while they envied the possessions of the English
nobles, thought themselves entitled to despise them as slaves and
barbarians. Sensible that with the loss of their dignity they had no
longer any hope of safety, they determined, though too late, to assert
the independence of their country. With this intention Edwin fled, but
was killed while so doing; whilst his brother Morcar took refuge with
the gallant Hereward, who still maintained himself in the Isle of Ely.
The king, with his usual vigour, determined to subdue their stronghold;
and for this purpose he caused a large number of flat-bottomed boats
to be constructed, on which he placed his men, and surrounded it. He
next caused a road to be made through the morass, two miles in length,
and after a desperate attack obliged the English to surrender in 1071.
Hereward, however, contrived to escape, by cutting his way, sword in
hand, through the enemy, and carried on the war by sea against the
Normans with such success, that William was glad to compromise with
him by giving him back his estate and honours. The memory of Hereward,
"England's darling," as he was called by his countrymen, long remained
cherished in their hearts, and the exploits of the last hero of English
independence were for many years a favourite theme of tradition and

The King of Scotland, in hopes of profiting by these convulsions, had
fallen on the northern counties, but on the approach of William he
retired; and when Malcolm re-entered his country he was glad to make
peace, and to pay the usual homage to the English crown. To complete
the Norman king's prosperity, Edgar Atheling himself, despairing of the
success of his cause, and weary of a fugitive life, submitted to his
enemy; and, receiving a decent pension for his subsistence, was permitted
to live in England unmolested. But these acts of generosity towards
the leaders were contrasted, as usual, by William's rigour against the
inferior malcontents. He ordered the hands to be lopped off, and the eyes
to be put out, of many of the prisoners whom he had taken in the Isle of
Ely, and he dispersed them in that miserable condition throughout the
country as monuments of his severity.

His attention was then turned to France. Herbert, the last count or chief
of the province of Maine, bordering on Normandy, had bequeathed his lands
to William, who had taken possession of them several years before the
invasion of England. In 1073, the people of Maine, instigated by Fulk,
Count of Anjou, rose in rebellion against William, and expelled the
magistrates he had placed over them. The settled aspect of affairs in
England afforded him leisure to punish this insult to his authority; but
being unwilling to remove his Norman forces from the island, he carried
over a considerable army, composed almost entirely of English; and
joining them to some troops levied in Normandy, he entered the revolted
province. The national valour, which had been so long opposed to him, was
now exerted in his favour. Signal success attended the expedition. The
men of Maine were beaten by the English, many towns and villages were
destroyed, and the inhabitants tendered their submission to the Conqueror.

[Illustration: NORMAN AND SAXON ARMS.]

But during these transactions (1074) the government of England was
greatly disturbed, and that too by those very foreigners who owed
everything to the king's bounty, and whose rapacious disposition he had
tried in vain to satisfy. The Norman barons who had engaged with their
duke in the conquest of England were men of independent spirit and
strong will; and however implicit the obedience which they yielded to
their leader in the field, it is possible that in more peaceful times
they found it difficult to brook the imperious character and overbearing
temper of the king. The discontent became general. Roger, Earl of
Hereford, the son and heir of Fitz-Osborn, so long the intimate friend
and counsellor of the king, had negotiated the marriage of his sister
with Ralph the Wader, Earl of Norfolk. For some reason, now unknown, the
alliance was displeasing to the king, who sent from Normandy to forbid
it. The two earls, despite the prohibition, proceeded to solemnise the
union; and, foreseeing the resentment of William, prepared for a revolt.

It was during the festivities of the nuptials that they broached their
design to their numerous friends and allies assembled on the occasion,
by complaining of the tyranny of the king; his oppressive conduct to the
unfortunate English, whom they affected to pity; his insolence to men of
noble blood; and the indignity of submitting any longer to be governed by
a prince of illegitimate birth. All present, inflamed with resentment,
shared in the indignation of the speakers, and a solemn compact was
entered into to shake off the royal yoke. Even Earl Waltheof, who was
present, expressed his approval of the conspiracy, and promised to assist

This noble was the last of the English who possessed any great power
or influence in the kingdom. After his capitulation at York, he was
received into favour by the Conqueror; had even married Judith, his
niece; and had been promoted to the earldom of Nottingham. Cospatrick,
Earl of Northumberland, having, on some new disgust from William, retired
into Scotland--where he received the earldom of Dunbar from the bounty
of Malcolm--Waltheof was appointed his successor in that important
command, and seemed still to possess the confidence and friendship of
his sovereign; but as he was a man of generous principles, and loved his
country, it is probable that the tyranny exercised over the English lay
heavy on his mind, and destroyed all the satisfaction which he could
reap from his own grandeur and advancement. When a prospect, therefore,
was opened of retrieving their liberty, he hastily embraced it; but
after his cool judgment returned, he foresaw that the conspiracy of
those discontented barons was not likely to prove successful against the
established power of William; or, if it did, that the slavery of the
English, instead of being alleviated by that event, would become more
grievous under a multitude of foreign leaders, factious and ambitious,
whose union or discord would be equally oppressive. Tormented with these
reflections, he disclosed the plans of the conspirators to his wife
Judith, of whose fidelity he entertained no suspicion; but who took this
opportunity of ruining her confiding husband. She conveyed intelligence
of the conspiracy to the king, and aggravated every circumstance which
she believed would tend to incense him against Waltheof, and render him
absolutely implacable. Meanwhile the earl, still dubious with regard to
the part which he should act, discovered the secret in confession to
Lanfranc, on whose probity and judgment he placed great reliance. He was
persuaded by that prelate that he owed no fidelity to those rebellious
barons, who had by surprise gained his consent to a crime; that his
first duty was to his sovereign and benefactor, his next to himself
and his family; and that, if he seized not the opportunity of making
atonement for his guilt by revealing it, the temerity of the conspirators
was so great, that they might give some other person the means of
acquiring the merit of the discovery.

Waltheof, convinced by these arguments, went at once to Normandy, where
William was then residing, and confessed everything to the king, who,
dissembling his resentment, thanked him for his loyalty and love, but in
his heart gave the earl no thanks for a confidence which came so late.

The conspirators, hearing of Waltheof's departure from England, concluded
at once that they were betrayed, and instantly assembled in arms before
their plans were ripe for execution, and before the arrival of the
Danes, with whom they had secretly entered into an alliance. The Earl of
Hereford was defeated by Walter de Lacy, who, supported by the Bishop
of Worcester and the Abbot of Evesham, prevented him from passing the
Severn, and penetrating into the heart of the kingdom. The Earl of
Norfolk was defeated by Odo, the warlike Bishop of Bayeux, who sullied
his victory by commanding the right foot of his prisoners to be cut off
as a punishment for their treason. Their leader escaped to Norwich, and
from thence to Denmark.

William, on his arrival in England, found that he had nothing left to
do but punish the instigators and leaders of the revolt, which he did
with rigour. Many were hanged; some had their eyes put out; others had
their hands cut off, or were otherwise horribly mutilated. The only
indulgence he showed was to the Earl of Hereford, who was condemned to
lose his estate, and to be kept a prisoner during pleasure. The king
appeared willing to remit the last part of the sentence, probably from
the recollection of his father's services, and the dread of increasing
the discontent of the Norman barons; but the haughty and unbending spirit
of the earl provoked William to extend the sentence to a perpetual

Waltheof, being an Englishman, was not treated with so much humanity;
though his guilt, always much inferior to that of the other conspirators,
was atoned for by an early repentance. William, instigated by his
niece Judith, as well as by his rapacious courtiers, who longed for
the forfeiture of so rich an estate, ordered the thane to be tried,
condemned, and executed. The English, who considered Waltheof as the last
hope of their nation, grievously lamented his fate, and fancied that
miracles were wrought by his relics, as a testimony of his innocence and

Nothing remained to complete William's satisfaction but the punishment of
Ralph the Wader and he hastened over to Normandy in order to gratify his
vengeance on that criminal; but though the contest seemed very unequal
between a private nobleman and the King of England, Ralph was so well
supported both by the Count of Brittany and the King of France, that
William, after besieging him for some time in Dol, was obliged to abandon
the enterprise, and make with those powerful princes a peace in which
Ralph himself was included. England, during his absence, remained in
tranquillity, and nothing remarkable occurred, except two ecclesiastical
synods, which were summoned, one at London, another at Winchester. In
one of these the precedency among the episcopal sees was settled, and
the seat of some of them was removed from small villages to the most
considerable town within the diocese.

William to the end of his reign no longer had any serious difficulties
to contend with from the English, the national spirit being broken and
subdued beneath his iron yoke. The conspiracies which ensued were now
those of the Normans, and the partial insurrections that took place were
instigated chiefly by private vengeance against some local oppressor.

In one of these insurrections perished Walcher, Bishop of Durham, a
prelate originally from Lorraine, and elevated by the new king to the
see of St. Cuthbert. Historians who have written of this remarkable man
agree in describing him as no less distinguished for his attainments than
for the excellence of his moral character: he was good but feeble, and
lacked the energy necessary to restrain the evil-doers in the troublesome
times in which he lived. His tragic death is said to have been predicted
by the widow of Edward the Confessor, who resided at Winchester, where
the bishop was consecrated. When she saw him conducted in pomp to the
cathedral, struck by his venerable air and majestic demeanour, she
exclaimed to those around her, "Behold a noble martyr!"

On the death of Waltheof, the government of Northumberland was confided
by William to this venerable prelate, who thus united in his hands the
temporal as well as the spiritual power. He promptly devoted himself to
the restoration of monasteries throughout the diocese.

His own disposition being good, he suspected no ill in others; and giving
much time to study, delegated a large share of his authority to one
Gilbert, a relation, an ecclesiastic of ardent character, who committed
great crimes and exactions, and permitted the soldiers to pillage and
slay the inhabitants of the diocese without listening to their prayers
for redress. It was in vain that the good bishop tried to temper the
harshness of this man by associating with him his archdeacon, one
Leobwine, who sided with Gilbert in all his exactions; or took to his
councils a noble Englishman, Ligulf, uncle to the deceased Waltheof. The
two tyrants disregarded the remonstrances of Ligulf, and continued their
career of crime and oppression. At length Leobwine, enraged at Ligulf's
expostulations, demanded his life of his confederate Gilbert, who entered
the house of the Saxon, and slew him with most of his followers.

[Illustration: WALTHEOF'S CONFESSION. (_See p._ 115.)]

The murdered man not only held vast possessions, but was highly esteemed
on account of the justness of his character; and the crime aroused
such unusual indignation that the people, excited by his relatives
and friends, flew to arms, demanding vengeance on the criminals. The
bishop, in an agony of fear, sent messengers to say that justice should
be done; that he should place out of the pale of the law Gilbert and
his accomplices; that he himself was innocent of the death of Ligulf,
and offered to purge himself by oath of all suspicion of the deed. This
offer was accepted, and the two parties met at a church near Durham,
a ferocious and armed multitude on one side, frantic for vengeance.
They had seen, they said, the assassins received and sheltered in the
episcopal palace directly after the commission of the crime.

Walcher, alarmed by their cries, refused to trust himself amongst them,
but offered to take the oath in the church, where he was surrounded,
together with the actual murderers. In the midst of the tumult, the Saxon
cry of "Short rede--good rede," signifying "Short words--good words," was
raised, and their leader called out, "Slay the bishop!" The multitude,
delighted with the order, rushed to the sacred edifice, and attempted
to set it on fire. In this peril the prelate commanded Gilbert, who had
actually committed the offence, to quit the church, lest, as he said,
the innocent should perish with the guilty; he obeyed, and was speedily
torn in pieces by the English. Leobwine refused to quit the place, which
he vainly hoped would shelter him, although the flames had begun to
penetrate in every part. Then it was the bishop took the resolution of
quitting the building, in the hope that the lives of his companions might
be spared. Covering his face with his mantle, he advanced amongst the
crowd, but soon fell, pierced by a hundred wounds. Leobwine, and those
who were with him, perished in the flames.

Excited by this success, the insurgents returned to Durham, and
attempted to become masters of the citadel of the murdered bishop; but
the garrison, which was composed of Normans, beat them off, and they
dispersed themselves in the neighbouring country.

No sooner did the report of this insurrection reach the ears of Odo, the
grand justiciary of the kingdom, than he marched towards Durham with a
strong body of men to restore order. Incensed at the death of his brother
prelate, he gave licence to his soldiery to ravage and destroy. The
horrors that ensued were fearful. Whenever an Englishman was met with he
was put to death, with circumstances of appalling barbarity. This scene
of horrors took place in 1080, and fell with double hardship on the
inhabitants, who had not yet recovered from the incursion which Malcolm,
King of Scotland, had made a short time previously in the province.

William resolved to chastise the Scots once more, and for that purpose
entrusted the command of an expedition to his eldest son Robert. But on
the arrival of the prince in Northumbria, he no longer found an enemy to
oppose him, Malcolm and his troops having retired into their own country.
The only result, therefore, of the enterprise was the founding of the
town of Newcastle upon the banks of the river Tyne.

The following year the king marched into Wales in person, with numerous
forces, and overran a considerable portion of the country, delivering, in
the course of his progress, upwards of 300 English, whom the Welsh had
enslaved. From this excursion he was speedily recalled by a confederacy
entered into against him by the Danes, whose king, Canute the Younger,
laid claim to the crown of England, and with this intention entered
into an alliance with Olaf, King of Norway, and with his brother-in-law
Robert, Count of Flanders, who promised him a succour of 600 vessels.
William felt the utmost alarm at this alliance, which seriously menaced
his throne, and he enlisted under his banners a crowd of mercenaries
from every part of Europe, whom he paid by the enormous contributions
wrung from his English subjects. The Danish invasion, however, never
took place, through the death of Canute and dissensions among the other

Although released from external menaces, it was not permitted to the
Conqueror to enjoy repose in the last years of his eventful reign.
Ordericus Vitalis, in speaking of him, says, "He was afflicted by the
just judgment of God. Since the death of Waltheof, whom he had so
unjustly punished, he had neither repose nor peace, and the astonishing
course of his success was poisoned by the troubles which those related to
him occasioned."

When William first received the submission of the province of Maine,
he had promised the inhabitants that his eldest son Robert should be
their prince, and before he undertook the expedition against England he
had, on the application of the French court, declared him his successor
in Normandy, and had obliged the barons of that duchy to do him homage
as their future sovereign. By this artifice, he had endeavoured to
appease the jealousy of his neighbours, as affording them a prospect
of separating England from his dominions on the Continent; but when
Robert demanded of him the execution of those engagements, he gave him
an absolute refusal, and told him, according to the homely saying, that
he never intended to throw off his clothes till he went to bed. Robert
openly declared his discontent; and was suspected of secretly instigating
the King of France and the Count of Brittany to the opposition which they
made to William, and which had formerly frustrated his attempts on the
town of Dol; and, as the quarrel still augmented, Robert proceeded to
entertain a strong jealousy of his two surviving brothers, William and
Henry (for Richard was killed in 1081, while hunting, by a stag), who by
greater submission and complaisance had acquired the affections of their
father. In this disposition on both sides, a small matter sufficed to
produce a rupture between them.

The three princes residing with their father in the castle of l'Aigle in
Normandy, were one day engaged in sport together; and after some mirth
and jollity, the two younger threw some water over Robert, as he passed
through the court on leaving their apartment--a frolic which he would
naturally have regarded as innocent, had it not been for the suggestions
of Alberic de Græntmesnil. This young man persuaded the prince that
the act was meant as a public affront, which it behoved him in honour
to resent; and the choleric Robert, drawing his sword, ran upstairs,
with an intention of taking revenge on his brothers. The whole castle
was filled with tumult, which the king himself, who hastened from his
apartment, found some difficulty in appeasing. He could by no means
calm the resentment of his eldest son, who, complaining of his father's
partiality, and fancying that no proper atonement had been made for the
insult, left the court that very evening, and hastened to Rouen with the
intention of seizing the citadel of that place. Disappointed in this
attempt by the precaution and vigilance of Roger of Ivry, the governor,
he fled to Hugh of Neufchâtel, a powerful Norman baron, who gave him
protection in his castles; and he levied war openly against his father.
The popular character of the prince, and a similarity of manners, engaged
all the young nobility of Normandy and Maine, as well as of Anjou and
Brittany, to take part with him; and it was suspected that Matilda, his
mother, whose favourite he was, supported him in his rebellion by secret
remittances of money, which so enraged her husband that, despite the
affection he is known to have borne her, he is said to have beaten her
with his own hand.

All the hereditary provinces of William were convulsed by this war, and
he was at last compelled to draw an army from England to assist him.
These forces, led by his ancient captains, soon enabled him to drive
Robert and his adherents from their strongholds, and re-establish his
authority; the rebellious son himself being driven to seek a retreat
in the castle of Gerberoi, which the King of France, who had secretly
fomented these dissensions, placed at his disposal. In this fortress he
was closely besieged by his angry father, and many encounters took place
in the sorties made by the garrison. In one of these Robert engaged the
king without knowing him, wounded him in the arm, and unhorsed him. On
William calling out for assistance, his son recognised his voice, and,
filled with horror at the idea of having so nearly become a parricide,
threw himself at his feet, and asked pardon for his offences. So says
Florence of Worcester, while other accounts represent William as having
been rescued by his attendants. The entreaties of the queen, and other
influences, soon afterwards brought about a reconciliation; but it is
thought the Conqueror in his heart never forgave his son, although
he afterwards took Robert to England. This occurred previous to the
expedition recorded on the preceding page, in which he sent his son to
oppose the King of Scotland.

The tranquillity which now ensued gave William leisure to begin an
undertaking which proves the comprehensive nature of his talents. This
was a general survey of all the lands in the kingdom in 1081; their
extent in each district; their proprietors, tenures, value; the quantity
of meadow, pasture, wood, and arable land which they contained; and
in some counties the number of tenants, cottagers, and slaves of all
denominations who lived on them. He appointed commissioners for this
purpose, who entered every particular in their register by the verdict
of juries, and after a labour of six years (for the work was so long in
finishing), brought him an exact account of all the landed property in
England. This monument, called Domesday Book--the most valuable piece of
antiquity possessed by any nation--is still preserved in the Exchequer.
It was followed by a great Witena-gemot at Salisbury, attended, it is
said, by some sixty thousand men, who all swore obedience to the king
"against all other men."

William, in common with all the great men of the time, was passionately
addicted to the chase; a pastime he indulged in at the expense of his
unhappy subjects. Not content with the royal domains, he resolved to
make a new forest near Winchester, his usual place of abode, and for
this purpose laid waste a tract of country extending above thirty miles,
expelling the inhabitants from their houses, and seizing on their
property, without affording them the least compensation; neither did he
respect the churches and convents--the possessions of the clergy as well
as laity being alike confiscated to his pleasures. At the same time he
enacted penalties more severe than had hitherto been known in England,
against hunting in any of the royal forests. The killing of a deer, wild
boar, or hare, was punished by the loss of the offender's eyes--and
that at a time when the slaying of a fellow-creature might be atoned by
the payment of a fine. The death of William's son Richard there, and
afterwards of William Rufus, were regarded as judgments from heaven for
the sacrilege committed in the making of the forest.

The transactions recorded during the remainder of this reign may be
considered more as domestic occurrences which concern the prince, than
as national events which regard England. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, the
king's uterine brother, whom he had created Earl of Kent, and entrusted
with a great share of power during his whole reign, had amassed immense
riches; and, agreeably to the usual progress of human wishes, he began
to regard his present acquisitions as but a step to further grandeur.
He had formed the chimerical project of buying the papacy; and though
Gregory, the reigning pope, was not of advanced years, the prelate
had confided so much in the predictions of an astrologer, that he
reckoned on the pontiff's death, and on attaining, by his own intrigues
and money, that envied state of greatness. Resolving, therefore, to go
to Italy with something like an army, he had persuaded many barons, and
among the rest Hugh, Earl of Chester, to take the same course, in hopes
that when he should mount the Papal throne, he would bestow on them more
considerable establishments in that country. The king, from whom all
these projects had been carefully concealed, at last got intelligence of
the design, and ordered Odo to be arrested. His officers, from respect
to the immunities which the ecclesiastics now assumed, scrupled to
execute the command, till the king himself was obliged in person to seize
him; and when Odo insisted that he was a prelate, and exempt from all
temporal jurisdiction, William replied that he arrested him not as Bishop
of Bayeux, but as Earl of Kent. He was sent prisoner to Normandy, and,
notwithstanding the remonstrances and menaces of Gregory, was kept in
confinement during the remainder of William's reign.



William was detained upon the Continent some time after this affair by a
quarrel which, in 1087, broke out between himself and his suzerain the
King of France, concerning the possession of the border district called
the Vexin. His displeasure was also increased by some railleries which
had been thrown out against his person. The king had grown remarkably
stout, and been detained for some time on a bed of sickness. Philip,
hearing of this, expressed his surprise that his brother of England
should be so long at his lying-in, but that no doubt there would be a
fine churching when he was delivered. The Conqueror, enraged at the
insulting jest, sent him word that, as soon as he was up, he would be
churched in Notre Dame, and present so many lights--alluding to the
Catholic custom--as would give little pleasure to the King of France.
Immediately on his recovery he kept his word; for, gathering an army, he
led his forces into L'Isle de France, laying everything waste with fire
and sword in his passage, and took the town of Mantes, which he reduced
to ashes.

This career of conquest, however, was cut short by an accident which
afterwards cost William his life. His horse starting on a sudden, caused
him to bruise his stomach severely against the pommel of his saddle.
Being advanced in years, he began to apprehend the consequences, and
ordered himself to be conveyed to the monastery of St. Gervais in
Rouen. Finding his end approaching, he perceived the vanity of all human
greatness, and began to feel the most bitter remorse of conscience for
the cruelties he had practised, the desolation he had caused, and the
innocent blood he had shed during his reign in England; and by way of
atonement gave great gifts to various monasteries. He also commanded that
Earl Morcar and other English prisoners should be set at liberty. He was
now prevailed upon, though not without reluctance, to release his brother
Odo, against whom he was terribly incensed.

He left Normandy and Maine to his eldest son Robert, whom he had never
forgiven for his rebellion against him. He wrote to Lanfranc, the
primate, desiring him to crown William King of England, and bequeathed to
his son Henry five thousand pounds of silver, foretelling, it is said,
that he would one day surpass both his brothers in greatness.

He died at Rouen, on the 9th of September, 1087, in the sixty-first year
of his age, the twenty-first of his reign over England, and fifty-second
over Normandy. Early in the morning the king heard the sound of a bell,
and eagerly demanded what it meant. He was told that it sounded the hour
of prime in the church of St. Mary. "Then," said he, "I commend my soul
to my Lady, the mother of God, that by her holy prayers she may reconcile
me to her son, my Lord Jesus Christ," and immediately expired.

From the events which followed the reader may judge of the unsettled
nature of the time. The knights and prelates hastened to their respective
homes to secure their property; the citizens of Rouen began to conceal
their most valuable effects; the servants rifled the palace, and hurried
away with the booty; and the royal corpse for three hours lay almost in
a state of nudity on the ground. At length the archbishop ordered the
body to be interred at Caen; and Herlwin, a neighbouring knight, out of
compassion, conveyed it at his own expense to that city.

At the day appointed for the interment, Prince Henry, the Norman
prelates, and a multitude of clergy and people, assembled in the church
of St. Stephen, which the Conqueror had founded. The mass had been
performed, the corpse was placed on the bier, and the Bishop of Evreux
had pronounced the panegyric of the deceased, when a voice from the
crowd exclaimed, "He whom you have praised was a robber. The very land
on which you stand is mine. By violence he took it from my father; and
in the name of God I forbid you to bury him in it." The speaker was
Ascelin Fitz-Arthur, who had often, but fruitlessly, sought reparation
from the justice of William. After some debate the prelates called him to
them, paid him sixty shillings for the grave, and promised that he should
receive the full value of his land. The ceremony was then continued, and
the body of the king deposited in a coffin of stone.

[Illustration: ROBERT ASKING HIS FATHER'S PARDON. (_See p._ 118.)]

William's character has been drawn with apparent impartiality in the
Saxon Chronicle by a contemporary and an Englishman. That the reader may
learn the opinion of one who possessed the means of forming an accurate
judgment, we have transcribed the passage, retaining, as far as it may
be intelligible, the phraseology of the original:--


"If any one wish to know what manner of man he was, or what worship he
had, or of how many lands he were the lord, we will describe him as we
have known him; for we looked on him, and some time lived in his herd.
King William was a very wise man, and very rich, more worshipful and
strong than any of his fore-gangers. He was mild to good men who loved
God, and stark [stiff] beyond all bounds to those who withstaid his
will. On the very stede [place] where God gave him to win England, he
reared a noble monastery and set monks therein, and endowed it well.
He was very worshipful. Thrice he bore his king-helmet every year when
he was in England; at Easter he bore it at Winchester, at Pentecost at
Westminster, and in mid-winter at Gloucester: and there were with him all
the rich men all over England, archbishops and diocesan bishops, abbots
and earls, thanes and knights. Moreover, he was a very stark man, and
very savage; so that no man durst do anything against his will. He had
earls in his bonds, who had done against his will; bishops he set off
their bishoprics, abbots off their abbotries, and thanes in prison; and
at last he did not spare his own brother Odo. Him he set in prison. Yet,
among other things, we must not forget the good frith [peace] which he
made in this land, so that a man that was good for aught might travel
over the kingdom with his bosom full of gold without molestation; and
no man durst slay another man, though he had suffered never so mickle
evil from the other. He ruled over England; and by his cunning he was
so thoroughly acquainted with it, that there is not a hide [a measure
varying from 60 to 120 acres] of land of which he did not know both who
had it, and what was its worth, and that he set down in his writings.
Wales was under his wield, and therein he wrought castles: and he wielded
the Isle of Man withal: and moreover, he subdued Scotland by his mickle
strength. Normandy was his by kinn: and over the earldom called Mans
he ruled; and if he might have lived yet two years, he would have won
Ireland by the fame of his power, and without any armament. Yet, truly,
in his time men had mickle suffering, and very many hardships. Castles
he caused to be wrought, and poor men to be oppressed. He was so very
stark. He took from his subjects many marks of gold, and many hundred
pounds of silver; and that he took, some by right, and some by mickle
might, for very little need. He had fallen into avarice, and greediness
he loved withal. He let his lands to fine [money payment] as dear as he
could; then came some other and bade more than the first had given, and
the king let it to him who bade more. Then came a third and bid yet more,
and the king let it into the hands of the man who bade the most. Nor did
he reck how sinfully his reeves [bailiffs] got money of poor men, or how
many unlawful things they did. For the more men talked of right law, the
more they did against the law. He also set many deer friths [forests];
and he made laws therewith, that whosoever should slay hart or hind, him
man should blind. As he forbade the slaying of harts, so also did he of
boars. So much he loved the high deer, as if he had been their father. He
also decreed about hares, that they should go free. His rich men moaned,
and the poor men murmured; but he was so hard that he recked not the
hatred of them all. For it was need they should follow the king's will
withal, if they wished to live, or have lands or goods, or his favour.
Alas, that any man should be so moody, and should so puff up himself, and
think himself above all other men! May Almighty God have mercy on his
soul, and grant him forgiveness of his sins!"

The king was of ordinary stature, but inclined to corpulency. His
countenance wore an air of ferocity, which, when he was agitated by
passion, struck terror into every beholder. The story told of his
strength at one period of his life almost exceeds belief. It is said
that, sitting on horseback, he could draw the string of a bow which no
other man could bend even on foot.

Harsh and repulsive in its main features though the government of
William was, it was of great service to England, in that it was firm
and equal. The Conqueror would allow no one to oppress but himself; and
so the country was spared the establishment of petty baronial tyrants
throughout the land, with the necessary accompaniments of private warfare
and constant rebellion. The English, on the other hand, were taught by
the great Witena-gemot at Salisbury to look to the sovereign, not to any
local potentate, for redress of wrongs; it was upon them that William
relied when it was necessary to chastise the rebellious adventurers
who had accompanied him across the channel. His rules of law were not
inequitably fitted to the wants of a mixed population, and beneath their
iron discipline the nation educated itself by suffering, and learnt to
become united and self-reliant. The Church also gained considerably by
his reforms. Its provincialism was corrected, and it was brought in
contact with western Christendom. The establishment of the supremacy of
Canterbury over York was also a great step in the direction of ordered
ecclesiastical government. At the same time, as we have seen, both papal
and ecclesiastical pretentions were carefully kept in check, and during
the Conqueror's reign no collisions between Church and State disturbed
the peace of the realm. His establishment of separate ecclesiastical
courts to try ecclesiastical cases threw open the door to many abuses,
which, however, did not come to a head until the time of Henry II. It
may be mentioned, by the way, that the word Conqueror was not used in
those times in its present acceptance, but meant "The Gainer." William
invariably professed to regard himself not as a usurper, but as a lawful
heir to the English throne.

King William had issue, besides his three sons who survived him,
five daughters, namely--1. Cicely, a nun in the monastery of Fécamp,
afterwards abbess in the Holy Trinity at Caen, where she died in 1127. 2.
Constantia, married to Alan Fergent, Count of Brittany: she died without
issue. 3. Alice, contracted to Harold. 4. Adela, married to Stephen,
Earl of Blois, by whom she had four sons--William, Theobald, Henry, and
Stephen--of whom the eldest was neglected on account of the imbecility of
his understanding. 5. Agatha, who died a virgin, but was betrothed to the
King of Galicia: she died on her journey thither, before she joined her



     William's Surname--How he obtained the Throne--Rising in favour
     of his Brother, Robert--Bishop Odo's Ill-fortune--Surrender of
     Rochester Castle--Flight of Odo--Failure of the Conspiracy--Death
     of Lanfranc--William's Misrule--Randolf the Firebrand--Appointment
     of Anselm to Canterbury--Rufus invades Normandy--Treaty between
     the Brothers--Siege of Mount St. Michael--Malcolm Canmore's
     Inroad into England--Building of Castle at Carlisle--Death of
     Malcolm--Illness of William--His Treachery towards Robert--Welsh
     Marauders--Earl Mowbray's Hard Fortune--The King's Exactions--He
     obtains possession of Normandy--The Hunt in the New Forest--Death
     of the Red King.

William, whose surname of Rufus was derived from the ruddiness of his
countenance, no sooner found himself in possession of his father's letter
to the primate Lanfranc, than he fled from the monastery of St. Gervais,
where William was dying, and hastened to England, in order to secure
possession of the crown.

Sensible that an act so opposed to the laws of primogeniture and the
feudal rights might meet with great opposition from the nobles, he
trusted to his celerity for success, and reached the kingdom before
the news of the king's death arrived. Pretending orders from the dead
monarch, he secured the strong fortresses of Dover, Pevensey, and
Hastings. On his arrival a council of prelates and barons was summoned
to proceed to the election of a sovereign. Robert, who would naturally
be chosen, and his partisans, were in Normandy, while William and his
adherents were on the spot. Besides, Archbishop Lanfranc, who felt
himself bound to obey the last injunction of his benefactor William,
exerted the whole influence of the Church in his favour. Three weeks
after his father's death William II. was proclaimed king, and crowned
with the usual formalities.

As we before stated, the Conqueror on his death-bed commanded the
liberation of his half-brother, Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux. That warlike
prelate, who had recovered some portion of his possessions in Kent, had
long been the enemy of Lanfranc. The prompt compliance of the archbishop
with the letter of the deceased king led William at first to yield
himself entirely to his directions. Odo therefore extended his hatred to
his nephew, and he set himself accordingly to form a party in favour of
the eldest brother, Robert, who was already in possession of the duchy of
Normandy, as well as the county of Maine.

The great point he urged upon the nobles whom he enlisted in the cause of
the last-named prince, was the fact that they held possessions in both
countries, and that it would be much more prudent to hold their lands of
one sovereign only. These representations were not without effect; and
whilst the newly-crowned king held the festival of Easter, the barons,
who had matured their plans, departed to raise the standard of revolt in
various parts of the kingdom--Odo, in Kent; William, Bishop of Durham,
in Northumberland; Geoffrey of Coutances, in Somerset; Roger Montgomery,
in Shropshire; Hugh de Bigod, in Norfolk; and Hugh de Grantmesnil, in

The rising which thus took place might have been formidable if the
movements of the insurgents had been seconded by energetic action on the
part of Robert. That pleasure-loving prince, who had promised to bring
over an army from Normandy, once more sacrificed the prospect of a throne
to his habitual indolence: and Odo waited in vain for the assistance
which was to come across the channel. When at length single ships, with
detachments of the invading forces, ventured from the Norman coast, they
were intercepted and destroyed by English cruisers. The Norman attempt at
invasion was abandoned, and the English insurgents were left to sustain
the shock of the king's forces as best they might.

The first attacks of Rufus were directed against his uncle Odo of Bayeux.
That fierce and turbulent bishop waited his coming at Pevensey, which he
had fortified and garrisoned. This stronghold was taken after a siege
of a few weeks, and Odo fell into the hands of Rufus, who set him at
liberty, on condition of his taking a solemn oath to deliver up Rochester
Castle into the king's possession, and to quit the country immediately

[Illustration: DEPARTURE OF BISHOP ODO FROM ROCHESTER. (_See p._ 126.)]

Rochester Castle was held by Eustace, Count of Boulogne, one of the
warmest partisans of Robert. When Odo arrived before the gates with the
king's escort, and demanded in set form that the keys should be given
up, the count took him prisoner with his guards. This was a stratagem by
which Odo hoped to escape the accusation of perjury, while he continued
his rebellious course of action against the king. As the real commander
of the garrison, this truculent bishop sustained for many weeks the
attacks of his royal nephew, who, with his united forces of English and
Normans, laid siege to the castle. Defied by his own countrymen, the
Red King turned for counsel and assistance to the English. He adopted a
policy of conciliation towards those nobles of English blood who still
retained any influence; he made liberal promises, which afterwards were
only partially fulfilled, and he obtained their adherence to his cause.
The king proclaimed the old English call to battle, "Let every man who is
not a man of nothing,[5] whether he live in burgh or out of burgh, leave
his house and come," and many Englishmen flocked to his standard.


At length the besieged were subdued by disease and famine, and compelled
to capitulate. They sent to William, informing him of their desire, and
demanding that they should be allowed to retain their lands and titles
under his sovereignty. Rufus at first refused to grant such a permission;
but the Norman troops in his army, who could not forget that the garrison
of the castle were their countrymen, and many of whom may have had
relatives or friends within the walls, made appeals to the mercy of the
king. "We," they said, "who have been with thee in great dangers, entreat
thee to spare our countrymen, who are thine also, and who have fought
with thy father."[6]

After much entreaty, the king permitted the besieged to leave the town
with their arms and horses. Not satisfied with this concession, Odo had
the arrogance to demand that when the garrison quitted the castle the
bugles of the king's troops should not sound in token of triumph, as was
the custom in those days. Rufus replied angrily that he would not grant
such a request for a thousand marks of gold.

The Norman adherents of Robert then passed out of the gates with ensigns
lowered, and amidst the sounds of exultation from the king's troops.
At the sight of Odo, a great clamour arose among the English soldiers.
They remembered the thousand crimes of the soldier-bishop, and cried out
that he was unfit to live. "Ropes! bring ropes!" they shouted; "hang the
traitor bishop and his friends!" Such sounds as these from every side
thundered in the ears of the prelate, and thus, pursued by curses, he
left the country for ever.

Meanwhile the conspirators in another part of the kingdom had met with
ill success. The Earl of Shrewsbury, and with him other Norman nobles,
had collected an army, which was occupied in laying waste the surrounding
country. The earl with his troops set out from Shrewsbury, plundering and
burning towns and villages, and putting many of the inhabitants to the
sword. The progress of this marauding force was stopped on its arrival
before Worcester. The citizens, excited by a deep hatred of their Norman
oppressors, closed the gates, and, conveying their wives and children
into the castle, prepared for a desperate resistance. Headed by their
bishop, who refused to go into the castle, but took the post of danger
on the walls, they gave battle to the besiegers, and having watched
their opportunity when part of the Norman forces were absent on one
of their plundering expeditions, the citizens sallied forth upon the
remainder, and cut many of them to pieces. These reverses proved fatal
to the success of the conspiracy, and Rufus found little difficulty in
dealing with the rest of the insurgent chiefs. Some he won to his side by
promises; others, who still defied him, were quickly subdued, and were
visited with various degrees of punishment, or made their escape into
Normandy, with the loss of their estates. As soon as the insurrection was
quelled, and all danger from that source was at an end, Rufus revoked
the concessions he had made to his English subjects, and before long the
English population were reduced to their previous condition of servitude
and misery.

In the following year (1089) Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, died. If
we compare the acts of his life with those of his contemporaries, and
judge of his character with a due regard to the times in which he lived,
we shall find his memory entitled to our respect. It is said of him that
he was "a wise, politic, and learned prelate, who, whilst he lived,
mollified the furious and cruel nature of King William Rufus, instructing
to forbear such wild and outrageous behaviour as his youth was inclined
unto."[7] The archbishop built various hospitals and almshouses, and
recovered twenty-five manors which had been wrested from the see of
Canterbury. One of these was a large estate which had been seized by Odo,
and which that rapacious bishop was compelled to restore. Removed from
the influence of Lanfranc, the king gave the rein to his debaucheries,
and showed himself "very cruel and inconstant in all his doings, so that
he became a heavy burden unto his people." He appointed no successor to
the primacy, but kept the see of Canterbury vacant four years, seizing
the revenues, and applying them to his own vicious purposes.

Rufus elevated to the offices of royal chaplain and chief minister of
state a Norman priest, named Randolf, who had received the surname of
Le Flambard, or the Firebrand. This man, who was of humble origin, was
of bad character, ambitious, ready-witted, and a willing pander to the
vices of the king. To raise money for his royal master's pleasures, he
increased the burdens of the people; inflicted heavy fines in punishment
of trifling offences; and caused a second survey of the kingdom to
be made, raising the estimated value of estates, and increasing the
royal revenues, at the expense of great suffering throughout the
country. Contentions were continually occurring between the English and
their oppressors. Everywhere the Normans showed themselves cruel and
avaricious, trampling down the conquered race, and treating them as
inferior beings. Flambard, who was Bishop of Lincoln, ruled his diocese
with such tyranny that, as we read in an old chronicle, the inhabitants
wished rather to die than live under his authority.

At length William, seized with remorse after an attack of illness,
appointed Anselm, the Abbot of Bec, to the vacant archbishopric. Anselm
was sorely unwilling. "You would yoke me," said he, "a poor feeble old
sheep, with the savage bull." But he withstood the king with saintly
patience, constantly inveighing against the corruption of the court,
until, in 1097, he was forced to retire from the royal persecution to

Meanwhile the Norman fortresses of Albemarle, St. Valery, and others,
were obtained possession of by various means, and were held in the name
of King William; and Conan, a powerful burgess of Rouen, had entered
into the conspiracy, and engaged to betray the capital into the hands of
a lieutenant of Rufus. Robert at length was roused to the dangers which
surrounded him, but finding himself without money to raise troops, he
applied to Philip I., of France, for assistance. Philip responded to the
call, and advanced with an army to the borders of Normandy: but Rufus
sent him a sum of money as a bribe, and the French king returned at once
to his own country.

Robert appealed to his brother Henry, whom he had placed some time before
in possession of a portion of the Norman duchy, in return for a sum of
£3,000 which Henry had advanced. Since that time frequent quarrels had
occurred between them, and it is related that, on one occasion, Henry
was arrested by the duke's orders, and kept for a short time in prison.
However, on receiving Robert's request for succour, Henry came to Rouen,
and rendered his brother important assistance. Reginald de Warrenne,
the lieutenant of Rufus, was driven back and compelled to retreat: the
burgess Conan was taken prisoner, and pushed by Prince Henry, with
deliberate cruelty, through the window of a high tower in the cathedral.

Early in the year 1091, the Red King landed an English army in Normandy,
and advanced into the country. Robert again applied to Philip of France
who exerted himself to arrange a treaty of peace between the two
brothers. By the provisions of this treaty, which was signed at Caen, the
lands of Eu, Albemarle, Fécamp, and others, were assigned to Rufus; and
it was agreed that no further attempt should be made by Robert upon the
English throne. Robert was to be aided to conquer the districts of Maine
and portions of Henry's territory in place of those which he resigned in
Normandy, and William engaged to pardon those barons who had defended
his brother's cause, and to restore to them their titles and lands. The
barons of the two factions agreed that if the king survived the duke, he
was to have possession of Normandy; and if the duke outlived the king, he
should receive the English crown. This treaty was signed by twelve barons
on each side, who swore to maintain its provisions.

Peace had been concluded between the two elder sons of the Conqueror;
but it only produced war between Robert and Rufus, on the one side, and
Henry on the other. Finding that his brothers were combining to despoil
him, Henry seized St. Michael's Mount, a solitary rock on the coast of
Normandy, and in this strong position he sustained a long siege from
the combined armies of his kinsmen. An incident of the siege is related
by some of the old chroniclers to the following effect:--The supply of
water in the castle fell short, and the garrison were reduced to great
distress from thirst. Robert, having been informed of this circumstance,
sent a supply of wine to his brother Henry, and also permitted some of
the people of the castle to fetch water. This conduct incensed William,
who expressed his indignation at such generosity; but Robert replied
that he could not suffer his brother to die of thirst. "Where," said
he, "shall we get another brother when he is gone?" There is another
story told of the same siege, from which it appears that on one occasion
Rufus had a narrow escape from death. The king had ridden out alone to
take a survey of the fortress, when he was suddenly attacked by two of
Henry's soldiers, who struck him from his horse. One of the men was about
to dispatch him, when Rufus called out, "Hold, knave! I am the King of
England!" The soldier threw down his dagger, and raised him from the
ground with professions of respect. It is related that Rufus rewarded the
man with presents, and took him into his service.

According to some accounts, the besieging forces retired without having
obtained possession of the fortress; but the more probable story, and
that which rests on the better authority, is that Prince Henry was
at length obliged to capitulate, and that he was deprived of all his
estates. For two years he wandered about the Continent with a scanty
escort and in great poverty. At length he obtained the government of the
city of Domfront, and in that position he displayed much ability, and
obtained considerable power in the surrounding country.

Meanwhile (1091) Malcolm Canmore had invaded England, and had penetrated
"even to Chester." William sent an army to oppose him, and, according
to some authorities, also fitted out a naval force, which was overtaken
by a storm on the Scottish coast and destroyed.[8] The two armies met
somewhere on the borders of Scotland, but the impending conflict was
prevented by the efforts of Robert of Normandy, who had returned with
William to England, and Edgar Atheling. A treaty of peace was concluded,
by which Malcolm rendered homage to Rufus, as he had done to William the
Conqueror, and was permitted to retain certain lands in Northumberland,
of which he had become possessed.

Soon after (1093) Rufus gave directions for the building of a fortress
at Carlisle, and having sent a number of English to inhabit the town,
he bestowed on them many valuable privileges. This act, if not an
infringement of the recent treaty with Malcolm, was at least a violation
of the rights of that monarch. The earldom of Cumberland had been for
centuries attached to the Scottish crown, and Malcolm demanded its
restitution. A conference took place between the two kings, and Rufus
having refused redress for the injury, Malcolm returned in haste to
Scotland, and carried an army into Northumberland, burning and laying
waste the country. Before Rufus could advance to meet him, the Scottish
monarch had fallen into an ambush, and was killed, together with his
eldest son, at Alnwick. It is related that when the news of the death of
her husband and son was brought to Margaret, the Queen of Scotland, she
bowed her head beneath the stroke, and died within four days afterwards.


William, after his return from Carlisle, fell sick at Gloucester; and
being oppressed with the recollection of his many crimes, and probably
deriving little comfort from the ghostly ministrations of Flambard, he
gave signs of repentance, and promised on his recovery to amend his
life. The repentance, however, passed away with the danger, and he is
represented as having become from this time more cruel and debauched than

The king still withholding from his brother Robert the possessions which
were his right, the duke returned to Normandy, and sent heralds to
William, according to the usage of chivalry, denouncing him as a false
and perjured knight, who held possession of lands which he had resigned
by treaty. William went to Normandy to answer the charge, and agreed to
submit to the decision of a court composed of the high Norman nobility.
The award, however, being in favour of Robert, the Red King refused to
abide by the decision, and, leading an army into Normandy, he defeated
the adherents of the duke in several engagements.

Events followed each other closely resembling those which took place
on William's previous expedition against his brother (1094). Robert,
as before, made an appeal to Philip. The disputes between the sons of
the Conqueror would seem to have been a source of considerable profit
to the King of France, and his ready response to the call of Robert was
probably less from a regard for his neighbour's welfare than from a view
to his own interest. Rufus determined to buy him off as he had done
before, and to obtain money for this purpose he devised a scheme in which
he had the assistance of Randolf Flambard. He ordered a levy of 20,000
men in England, and when the troops arrived at Hastings to embark, it
was announced to them that the king was willing to excuse them from the
dangers of the campaign, and that each man would be permitted to return
to his home on payment of ten shillings towards the expenses of the
war. The money raised by this means was paid to Philip, who marched his
forces back to France. The small and ill-appointed army of Robert would
probably now have been overcome, had not affairs in England compelled
Rufus to relinquish the contest.

[Illustration: SURRENDER OF BAMBOROUGH CASTLE. (_See p._ 130.)]

The Welsh had taken advantage of the king's difficulties to invade the
adjoining counties, and "after their accustomed manner,"[9] carried off
the cattle, and plundered and murdered the inhabitants, many of whom they
also made prisoners. They laid siege to the castle of Montgomery, and
took it by assault, slaying all the garrison. William in 1095 marched
hastily into Wales, but found it impossible to reach the marauders, who
kept to the cover of the woods and marshes, and among the mountains,
watching their opportunity to slay any of the English and Norman troops
whom they could reach unawares. Rufus pursued them over the hills; but
his march was attended with heavy loss to his army, and he was at length
compelled to retreat, "not without some note of dishonour." Two other
expeditions met with no better success. Thereupon he left the conquest
of Wales to his nobles, whose eagerness was whetted by grants of land
in the unconquered districts. An army was despatched under the command
of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and the Earl of Chester, who re-took the
isle of Anglesea, of which the Welsh had obtained possession.[10] The
inhabitants were maltreated or put to the sword; but, having received
some reinforcements, a battle ensued, in which the Earl of Shrewsbury was
slain. The victory, however, was on the side of the Earl of Chester, who
remained for some time in Wales, desolating the country.

While the Welsh were still unsubdued, Rufus received information of a
powerful confederacy which had been formed against him in the north
of England. The king had reason to suspect some of his nobles of
disaffection, and especially Robert Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, a
powerful noble, whose long absence from court had excited suspicion. A
royal proclamation was issued, calling upon every baron in the kingdom
to appear at court at the approaching festival of Whitsuntide, on pain
of outlawry. The Earl of Northumberland neglected to obey the summons,
and the king immediately marched an army to Newcastle, where he surprised
some of the earl's accomplices. He next besieged and took the castle of
Tynemouth, and thence proceeded to Bamborough, an impregnable fortress,
to which the Earl had retreated with his family.

After various unsuccessful attempts to take this castle by storm,
Rufus, who seems to have inherited much of the military talent of
his father, adopted another plan of attack. He built a wooden fort
opposite Bamborough, calling it _Malvoisin_, or "bad neighbour"; and,
having placed a garrison in it, he withdrew the rest of his army. His
lieutenants were directed to use every opportunity of inflicting damage
upon the adherents of Earl Mowbray, or of gaining possession of his

One night the earl quitted his castle with an escort of only thirty
horsemen. The object with which he did so is variously stated; but the
most probable account is that he was betrayed by some followers of Rufus,
who offered to give up the town of Newcastle into his possession. The
earl was surprised by a body of Norman troops, and while many of his
retinue were cut to pieces, he escaped from his assailants, and took
sanctuary at St. Oswin's monastery, Tynemouth. By the laws of chivalry,
the blackest criminal was safe under the shadow of the Cross; but the
soldiers of William were deterred neither by those laws, nor by any
respect for the sacredness of the place. They pursued the earl to his
sanctuary, and after a desperate resistance made him prisoner.

Having carried Earl Mowbray to Bamborough, and placed him before the
gates of his castle, they demanded a parley with the Countess Matilda.
On her appearance, they exhibited her husband as a prisoner, and told
her that they would put out his eyes before her face unless she at once
gave up the castle into their hands. Matilda is described as having been
remarkable for her beauty; she was young, and had been married to the
earl only a few months before. She did not long hesitate, but ordered the
gates to be thrown open. Among the followers of Mowbray was one through
whom Rufus gained a knowledge of the extent of the conspiracy, and of
the persons implicated in it. The subsequent fate of Mowbray was that of
a living death. His young wife had indeed saved him from blindness, but
he was not the less deprived of the light of day. Condemned to perpetual
imprisonment, he was confined in a dungeon at Windsor Castle, where we
read that he dragged on existence for thirty years afterwards. Another
account, however, has it that he ended his life as a monk.

The property of the banished nobles was plundered by the adherents of
the king, and then left for some time uncultivated, and without owners.
Nevertheless, the people of the town or hundred in which such estates
lay, were compelled to pay the full amount of land tax as before. The
king, also, forcibly raised troops of men to build a wall encircling the
Conqueror's Tower at London, a bridge over the Thames, and, near the West
Minster, a hall or palace of audiences, for the stated assemblies or
assizes of the great barons.[11]

The money which William Rufus paid to his brother for the possession
of Normandy was obtained by inflicting new burdens and exactions upon
his people. "All this," says Holinshed, "was grievous and intolerable,
as well to the spirituality as temporality, so that divers bishops and
abbesses, who had already made away with some of their chalices and
church jewels to pay the king, made now plain answer that they were not
able to help him with any more; unto whom, on the other side, as the
report went, the king said again, 'Have you not, I beseech you, coffins
of gold and silver, full of dead men's bones?' meaning the shrines in
which the relics of saints were enclosed."

The king also argued that there was no sacrilege in taking money obtained
from such a source, for the purpose of prosecuting a holy war, and
delivering the sepulchre of Christ from the hands of the infidel. He
did not choose to remember that the expedition to the Holy Land was one
in which he had no part, and that he required the money, not for that
purpose, but to obtain a worldly possession. If the argument carried
little weight, the force by which it was backed was not to be resisted,
and the spoils of the altar, as well as the hoards of civilians, were
seized in the king's name.

Robert, having resigned his dukedom, and set out for the Holy Land,
William passed over into Normandy to take possession. He was received
with welcome by the Norman nobles, who, if not well disposed towards
their new sovereign were overawed by his power or bought by his gold. The
people of Maine, however, rose in revolt, and, headed by Helie, the Lord
of La Flèche, the insurrection assumed an importance which rendered it
necessary for Rufus to take energetic measures for its repression. He
entered Maine at the head of a large force, but on the interference of
the Count of Anjou and Philip of France, he consented to a truce with the
insurgents, and Helie, having been taken prisoner, was set at liberty, on
tendering his submission, and giving up of Le Mans into the king's hands.
(A.D. 1099.)

The people, however, remained disaffected towards the English king. A
year passed away without any change in this state of things, when one
day, as William was hunting in the New Forest, a messenger came to him
with the intelligence that Helie had obtained possession of the town of
Le Mans, that the inhabitants had joined him, and were besieging the
castle, containing the Norman garrison. Rufus immediately set off for the
sea-coast without waiting for an escort; and when some of his lords came
up with him, as he was about to embark, they counselled him to wait until
troops could be summoned to accompany him. William replied, "Such as love
me, I know well, will follow me," and went at once on shipboard. A storm
was blowing so violently that even the sailors hesitated to set sail; but
the king was determined to proceed, and cried out to the master to weigh
anchor, asking him if he had ever heard of a king that was drowned?

Rufus escaped the storm, and landed next day at Harfleur. When the news
of his advance reached Le Mans the insurgents were struck with dismay.
Helie, forgetting his knightly fame, and the safety of the people,
disbanded his troops and fled at the mere sound of the enemy's approach,
while William passed through the country, dealing ruin and desolation
around him.

On his return to England, the king began, "after his old manner, to spoil
and waste the country by unreasonable exactions," assisted by Randolf
Flambard. Various public buildings, which were erected by Rufus, served
as pretexts for demands of money, most of which was applied to satisfy
his own private extravagance.

In the month of August, 1100, there was held, in the New Forest, a
hunting meeting, at which the king was present. This district, where the
blackened ruins of villages still remained, where the ground had been
watered by the tears and the blood of the miserable inhabitants, murdered
or driven from their homes, where the trees grew thickly in commemoration
of a deed of cruelty which has but few parallels in history--this gloomy
solitude was destined to be the death-scene of Rufus, as it had already
been of two other persons of the Conqueror's blood. In the year 1081,
Richard, the eldest son of William I., had been accidentally killed in
the New Forest; and in May, 1100, Richard, son of Duke Robert and nephew
of Rufus, was killed there accidentally by an arrow. In these successive
calamities, the people thought they saw a retribution for the crime which
had been committed in that place.

On August 2, the king and his court were assembled at Malwood Keep
or Castle, preparing to go a-hunting. A large and noble company were
there making merry, and at the side of the King sat Prince Henry--the
two brothers having become reconciled some time before. Among the
party was a Norman knight, whose name was Sir Walter Tyrrel, Lord of
Poix. The company separated on arriving in the forest, as the custom
was in hunting; the only person who remained near to the king being
Sir Walter Tyrrel. As it drew towards evening a hart suddenly bounding
from a thicket, crossed the path of the king. Rufus drew his bow, but
the shot missed its mark. Tyrrel was placed at some little distance in
the underwood, and the hart, being attacked on both sides, stood for a
moment at bay. Then the king, who had spent all his arrows, called out
to his companion, "Shoot! shoot! in the devil's name!" Tyrrel obeyed,
and the arrow, glancing from a tree, struck the king in the breast,
piercing him to the heart. Rufus fell beside his startled horse, and died
instantaneously. Such is the story most commonly related of the death of
the Red King, but the account is not to be received without reservation.
The facts which may be considered fully authenticated are, that Rufus met
with a violent death in the New Forest, having been shot in the breast
by an arrow. Whether the bow was drawn "at a venture," or by the hand
of a murderer--whether the hand was that of Tyrrel, or of another--are
questions to which no positive answer can be given. Tyrrel, however,
was suspected from the first of having killed the king. He immediately
galloped away to the sea-coast, and took ship for Normandy, whence he
proceeded to seek the protection of the King of France. On arriving there
he swore he had no part in the death of King William; but in those days
few men hesitated either to make or break an oath for a powerful motive,
and, therefore, this circumstance of itself would not be sufficient to
throw discredit on the account already related. The body of the king was
discovered by a poor charcoal burner, by whom it was carried in a cart to
Winchester Cathedral, where it was buried. He died without issue.


(_From a Greek MS. of the Ninth Century in the National Library,
Paris._) [_See p._ 135.]]



     The Institution of Chivalry--Affairs in the Holy
     Land--Pilgrimages--Persecution of Christians--Peter the
     Hermit--Crusade Decided on--Progress of Peter's Mission--The
     Council of Clermont--Attitude of Pope Urban--The Truce of
     God--Expedition of Walter the Penniless--Excesses of the
     Crusaders--Defeat of the Christians by the Turks--Conduct
     of the Emperor Alexius--Disaster in Hungary--Geoffrey de
     Bouillon--March of his Army--Robert of Normandy and his
     Troops--Imprisonment of Hugh of Vermandois--Arrival of Godfrey
     before Constantinople--The Byzantine Court--The Church of Santa
     Sophia--Scenes of Magnificence--Reception of Godfrey by the
     Emperor--Tancred's Army leaves Italy--Bohemond's Submission--Count
     Raymond at Constantinople--Arrival of Robert of Normandy--Siege
     of Nicæa--Treachery of the Emperor--Severe Struggle with the
     Turks--Bravery of Robert--Flight of the Turks--Crusaders'
     Sufferings on their March--Siege and Fall of Antioch--Defeat
     of the Persians--Pestilence at Antioch--Arrival of the
     Crusaders before Jerusalem--Fall of the City--Vengeance of the
     Crusaders--Godfrey elected King of Jerusalem--Hospitallers and
     Templars--Close of the First Crusade.

In the year 1096 Robert determined to join a crusade then about to set
out for the Holy Land, and to enable him to do so, he agreed to pledge
his duchy of Normandy into the hands of Rufus for a sum of £6,666. This
transaction is described by the historians as having been a mortgage for
three years; but it must have been evident, even to the uncalculating
mind of Robert, that he had little chance of regaining possession of his
property at the end of that time.

To enable us to understand this extraordinary proceeding on the part
of Robert, it will be necessary to examine the causes which led to
those expeditions which are called the Crusades. These causes, which
had been in operation for hundreds of years, were two, of very opposite
nature--namely, in the East, the spread of Mahometan power; and in the
West, the institution of chivalry, preceded by the introduction of

The institution of chivalry had for its object the cultivation of those
virtues which may be classed under the word _manhood_, in its best and
widest sense. The true knight was supposed to be pious, truthful, and
brave; a generous friend, a gallant warrior, a devoted lover. It was
necessary for him to add great strength of body, and skill in all manly
exercises, to gentleness of manner and culture of mind. Terrible in
battle, it was his duty to wield the sword of justice, to strike down the
oppressor; but to help the weak, and give his life, if need be, for the

[Illustration: INITIATION INTO THE ORDER OF KNIGHTHOOD. (_See p._ 134.)]

The youth who aspired to knighthood began his career as a page in some
noble house, where, under the gentle influence of women, he was taught
various accomplishments, and imbued with that beautiful though fantastic
dream of honour which he hoped to realise in his future life. At the age
of fourteen the page became an esquire, and was permitted to wear a
sword. He now began a regular course of training for arms, and usually
sought to attach himself to some knight of fame, whom he attended in
hall or field, and supported in battle. The young aspirant was admitted
to the honours of knighthood at the age of twenty-one, unless he had
previously won his spurs by some gallant feat of arms. This honour was
of rare occurrence, as, by the laws of chivalry, the duties of esquire
were limited to attendance upon his lord, and he was permitted few
opportunities of personal distinction.

The original spirit of chivalry was essentially religious. The initiation
into the order of knighthood was a religious ceremony, and usually took
place on one of the feasts of the Church, as Easter day, the day of
Pentecost, or Christmas day. The aspirant prepared himself for his new
dignity by long vigils, fasts, and prayer; and on the night before the
ceremony took place, he repaired alone to the church, where he passed the
hours in watching beside his armour.

On the day appointed, high mass was performed in the presence of the
nobles and bishops and an assembly of the people; and after the sword
of the novice had been consecrated to the service of heaven, he took
a solemn vow, according to the laws of chivalry, "to speak the truth,
to succour the helpless and oppressed, and never to turn back from an
enemy." The bishop then dubbed him a knight, and the other knights, and
often the ladies present, advanced and armed the youth. The spurs were
usually buckled on first, and thus came to be regarded as the symbol of

Such was the form by which a young man was admitted to the highest
dignity of chivalry. Chivalry recognised nothing higher or nobler than
the condition of a knight, and the fame of every man, instead of being
tied to his name by a title, was borne by the mouths of minstrels and

Various writers have attempted to fix the date at which chivalry first
took its rise; but on this point there is no certain information.
Probably the idea of chivalry was the growth of centuries, and made its
way gradually through the corruptions of the times in which it was born.
Whatever may have been its origin, the institution was in its infancy
in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and received no marked development
until the time of the first Crusade. The stories of King Arthur and his
Knights of the Round Table[12] are as fabulous as the wonders of Merlin
or the tales of the Arabian Nights. In the days of Charles the Great,
chivalry, in the general sense of the word, was yet unborn; and though in
the time of Alfred its spirit undoubtedly existed in our own country, it
had yet assumed no name or distinctive form.

According to Tacitus, customs bearing a resemblance to those of chivalry
existed among the German nations in the institution known as the
_comitatus_. On the fall of Rome, these tribes subdued and colonised the
country now called France, and it is probable that they planted there the
germ of the institution of chivalry. The first traces of its existence
in France appear soon after the time of Charles the Great. It originated
with a few knights, who endeavoured to introduce among their licentious
companions a love of virtue and honour. However small may have been the
early success of their efforts, the principle of chivalry to which they
gave expression shines like a star in those dark ages.

The laws of chivalry gradually became recognised and enforced, and were
submitted to by every man who desired to win either the smiles of women
or honourable fame among men. Refined and mystical as were the doctrines
of chivalry, its laws were practical and severe, demanding mortification
and self-denial. In later times the simple and austere habits of the
knights were exchanged for luxury and licentiousness, and the spirit of
chivalry decayed with the growth of those arts of life which conduce to
ease and refinement.

Towards the end of the eleventh century, the attention of Europe was
attracted to the state of affairs in the Holy Land, and chivalry, which
had hitherto been rather a name than a reality, received from this cause
a sudden and powerful impulse.

From the period of the destruction of the second temple, the history of
Jerusalem had been a record of strife and bloodshed. During the early
occupation of the city by the Romans, the holy places were profaned by
pagan rites, and the spots venerated alike by Jew and Christian became
the scene of sacrifices to heathen deities.

In the fourth century, when Rome herself acknowledged the doctrines of
Christianity, churches were erected on the ruins of the temples of Venus
and Jove, and Jerusalem was again regarded as the seat of the true faith.
When Mahomet appeared and spread his new doctrines throughout the East,
the aspect of affairs was once more changed, and the Holy City fell
into the hands of the Arabians. In the year 969, the dominion of the
caliphs of Egypt was established over the whole of Palestine.



In the following century a multitude of rude and savage races from the
shores of the Caspian Sea invaded the lands of the people of the south.
These hordes, called in history the Seljuk Turks, gradually extended
their conquests, and between 1038 and 1092 obtained possession of Persia,
Arabia, and the greater part of Syria. The invaders embraced the religion
of Mahomet, and in many cases a fusion took place between them and the
conquered nations. After various vicissitudes, Jerusalem, in 1076, fell
into the hands of the Turkish supporters of the Caliph of Cairo.

In every age the Holy Land had been held in the highest veneration by
the Christian nations. Pilgrims proceeded thither from the most distant
parts of Europe, in the faith that the long and toilsome journey would
secure for them some spiritual benefit. Dressed in the costume mentioned
in the Bible, and carrying with him only a staff in his hand and a
scrip at his side, the pilgrim trusted entirely to charity for support.
Wherever the Christian religion prevailed among the people, that charity
was exhibited; his character was held in veneration, and food and lodging
were provided for him as a religious duty. At rare intervals along his
way, he came to an hospital or almshouse, built for the reception of
pilgrims by some Christian prince. On his return he placed in the church
of his native town the branch of the sacred palm-tree[13] (which he had
brought from Jerusalem), in proof of the accomplishment of his vow.

During the time that Palestine remained under Christian rule, these
pilgrimages were performed without much danger, and devotees from all
parts of Europe flocked to the Holy City. The coffers of the Church were
enriched by the sale of relics, which each traveller eagerly desired to

Under the sway of the Caliphs the pilgrimages continued, but the
Christians were treated with indignity by the Turks, and various
persecutions took place. In the tenth century a belief was entertained
that the end of the world was at hand, and people of all classes hurried
to Jerusalem in hope of a purification from their sins. In the eleventh
century the persecutions of the Christians increased, and their condition
became wretched in the extreme. They were, indeed, tolerated in the Holy
City on payment of a tribute of two pieces of gold yearly, but their
religious ceremonies were prohibited, their property was frequently
plundered, and the honour of their daughters violated.

Since the fourth century it was generally believed that the very cross
on which Christ suffered had been discovered at Jerusalem, and a curious
drawing of this subject occurs in a Greek manuscript of the ninth
century. This belief afforded an additional stimulus to the piety of
devotees, and a piece of the sacred wood was regarded as of inestimable
value. Pilgrims, therefore, still made their way to Jerusalem, but
were not permitted to enter the city except on payment of a piece of
gold--a large sum at that day. Few of the pilgrims possessed enough to
satisfy this demand, and they were driven from the gates, with their
long-deferred hope turned to utter despair. Many of them died from famine
before the walls of the city; many more perished by the roadside, as they
pursued their weary journey homewards; and but few survived to tell the
tale to Europe, and to kindle the flame which was soon to burn up with

The Christian emperors of the East are reported to have sent letters from
time to time to the princes of Europe, detailing the sufferings of the
Christians in Judea, and soliciting assistance. These appeals, together
with the accounts of Turkish cruelties given by the returned pilgrims,
caused a feeling of deep indignation throughout Europe, and aroused the
spirit of chivalry.

At this time there appeared on the scene a remarkable man, who is known
by the name of Peter the Hermit. In his youth he had been a soldier, and
had been married, but subsequently he became a priest. He is described
as having been small and mean in person, but with eyes powerful in
expression, and an eloquent voice. He had long been noted for the
austerity of his life, and it is said of him that he found pleasure in
the greatest abstinence.

This man formed the determination of visiting Jerusalem, and having
performed the journey in safety, he paid the piece of gold demanded,
and was admitted into the city. Here he was a witness of the cruelties
perpetrated upon the Christians, and was seized with horror and
indignation at the sight. He held a conference with the Greek patriarch,
who, at the suggestion of Peter, determined to write to the Pope and the
princes of the West, describing the misery of the Christians, and praying
for protection.


Furnished with his credentials, Peter returned to Italy and laid his
complaint before Urban II. The tale told by the hermit was received with
the deepest attention, and the Pope warmly espoused his cause. Urban gave
his authority to the scheme of the Crusade, and with the promise of
his co-operation, Peter set out to preach the delivery of the Holy Land
throughout Europe.

[Illustration: _Photo: Abdullah Frères, Constantinople._


The story of his progress is told by various writers of that age.
"He set out," says Guibert Nogent, "from whence I know not, nor with
what design; but we saw him at that time passing through the towns
and villages, preaching everywhere, and the people surrounding him in
crowds, loading him with presents, and celebrating his sanctity with such
high eulogiums, that I never remember to have seen such honours paid
to any other person. He showed himself very generous, however, in the
distribution of the things given to him. He brought back to their homes
the women that had abandoned their husbands, not without adding gifts
of his own, and re-established peace between those who lived unhappily,
with wonderful authority. In everything he said or did, it seemed as if
there was something divine; so much so, that people went to pluck some
of the hairs from his mule, which they kept afterwards as relics; which
I mention here, not that they really were so, but only served to satisfy
the public love of anything extraordinary. While out of doors he wore a
woollen tunic with a brown mantle, which fell down to his heels. He had
his arms and his feet bare, ate little or no bread, and lived upon fish
and wine."

Such was the appearance of the man whose eloquence drew after him the
whole of Europe. The records of history afford no other instance of
events so stupendous, arising from a cause apparently so insignificant.
The position of Peter, however, is not to be measured by his woollen
garb and low estate. The fame of the anchorite had gone before him; he
carried with him the Pope's authority; he was a palmer from Jerusalem,
who had himself seen the things he described. The age was enthusiastic,
and religious sentiment, as well as knightly ambition, was enlisted in
the cause which he preached.

While Peter journeyed on from city to city, Urban called together a
council at Placentia, at which deputies were present from the Emperor of
Constantinople. The meeting being unanimous in favour of the Crusade,
Urban determined to venture across the Alps. A Council was held in 1095
at Clermont, in Auvergne, at which were assembled bishops and princes,
both of France and Germany, and a vast concourse of people. After the
less important business of the meeting had been transacted, Urban came
forth from the church in which the Council was held, and addressed the
multitude in the market-place. He recounted the long catalogue of wrongs
suffered by the Christians in the Holy Land from the pagan[14] race.
With an eloquence for which he was remarkable, he appealed to the most
powerful passions which animate the breast of mankind; and the assembly
rose up and cried with one voice--"It is the will of God! it is the will
of God!" The news of this Council spread with wonderful rapidity over
the world; and, in the words of an old historian, "throughout the earth
the Christians glorified themselves and were filled with joy; while the
Gentiles of Arabia and Persia trembled, and were seized with sadness; the
souls of the one race were exalted, those of the others stricken with
fear and stupor." Some modern historians, in speaking of the influence
possessed by Urban over the people, have reproached his memory for the
use to which he applied his eloquence, and for having incited the people
to the wild and bloodthirsty expeditions of the Crusades, with a view to
his own interest. Such an accusation cannot be regarded as just. It is
the part of wisdom, as of charity, to judge of a man's acts, not by a
standard of pure and abstract right, but rather with regard to the times
in which he lived and the influences by which he was surrounded. The
spirit of the age was warlike and enthusiastic, and such a spirit may be
traced through the conduct of Pope Urban; but there is no reason to doubt
that he was sincere, and that he upheld the cause of the Crusades at the
cost of great personal sacrifices.

At the Council of Clermont a universal peace was proclaimed, called
the _Truce of God_, and its observance was some time afterwards sworn
throughout the country. Europe had long been in a disturbed condition;
the weak were liable to be plundered by the strong without redress:
and wars and feuds between rival princes were continued with little
intermission. It is related that at the Truce of God these evils
disappeared, and for a short time there was a profound peace.

Thieves and murderers--criminals of every dye, were tempted by the
prospect of boundless licence, and joined the Crusade. Every man wore
the sign of the Cross upon his shoulder, cut in red cloth, and many
adventurers assumed that sacred emblem in the belief that it would
afford a perpetual absolution for any crime they might commit. But
while preparing for the departure of the various expeditions, the
Crusaders--even those of the most reckless character--abstained for a
while from violence, and kept the Truce of God. This cessation of civil
warfare must have endured some time, for among the wild spirits who
joined the first body of the Crusade few, if any, lived to return, and
the removal of so many plunderers and marauders must have produced a
beneficial effect on the state of society in Europe.

People of every degree and of various nations were animated with the
same ardent enthusiasm. Nobles sold or mortgaged their lands to raise
money for the enterprise; poor men abandoned their homesteads and their
families, and flocked to the standard of the Cross. The old writers
describe the sufferings occasioned by the parting of husbands from their
wives, parents from their children. They tell us, however, of exceptions
to these scenes of misery. Some wives and mothers there were who, in
their fanatic zeal, incited their husbands to the journey, and parted
from them without a tear.

In the year 1096, the first body of the Crusaders set out for the
Holy Land under the command of Walter the Penniless, a nobleman of
Burgundy. This man was a soldier of fortune, noted for his poverty,
but also possessed of some degree of military fame. The army which he
led was a mixed rabble without order or discipline, who committed many
excesses, and plundered the towns and villages which lay on their road.
Passing through Germany, Walter entered Hungary, which country had been
converted to Christianity several centuries before. At Semlin some
stragglers of Walter's army were attacked and plundered by a portion
of the inhabitants, and the arms and crosses of the men who had thus
been despoiled were placed as trophies upon the walls of the city. The
Crusaders called for vengeance; but Walter restrained their impetuosity,
and passed on into Bulgaria. Here he found himself among a nation
altogether hostile; the gates of the cities were shut against him, and
his troops were unable to obtain food. Urged by hunger, they seized the
flocks and herds of the natives, who attacked the invaders, and defeated
them with great slaughter. Walter succeeded with difficulty in collecting
the remnant of his scattered multitude, and led them on the way to
Constantinople. Here, after many privations, he at length arrived and
obtained permission from the emperor to await the coming of Peter the
Hermit, who at length appeared with a following reduced to 7,000.

The discordant elements of which the combined forces were composed soon
appeared in a defiance of all authority; and between the various nations
a spirit of animosity arose, which found vent in repeated quarrels and
disturbances. The thirst for plunder, also, was not restrained by any
gratitude for the hospitality of the emperor. Alexius had sent both
money and provisions in abundance to the camp of the Crusaders, who,
nevertheless, seized whatever booty came within their reach, entering
houses and palaces, and stripping the lead from the roofs of the
churches, and selling it to the people from whom it had been stolen.

These lawless acts continuing on the increase, the emperor found means
to convey his dangerous allies across the Bosphorus, advising them not
to quit their new encampment till the arrival of other divisions of
the Crusade. The troops, however, continued their ravages throughout
Bithynia; a stronger hand than that of a palmer was necessary to control
them; and Peter, wearied with excesses which he was unable to prevent,
proceeded to Constantinople for the purpose of holding a council with the

During his absence the Lombards and Germans separated from the French,
and chose for their leader a man named Renault, or Rinaldo. Under his
command, they resumed their march, and took possession of the fortress of
Xerigord. Here they were attacked by Sultan Soliman, who cut to pieces
a detachment placed in ambuscade, and then invested the fortress. The
besieged possessed no supply of water within the walls, and they endured
the most dreadful agonies from thirst. At the end of eight days, the
leader, Rinaldo, with his chief companions, went over to the Turks, and
betrayed the fortress into their hands. The remainder of the garrison
were put to death without mercy.

The news of this disaster reached the French camp, and with it came a
false report of the fall of Nicæa. The troops demanded to be led towards
the Turkish territory, and Walter the Penniless, having in vain attempted
to restrain their impatience, placed himself at their head. Before the
army had advanced many leagues into the country, it was encountered
by the Turks, who attacked the Crusaders in overwhelming numbers. An
obstinate resistance only served to make the carnage more complete.
Walter himself, after performing many feats of valour, fell covered with
wounds, and the Christian army was routed so completely that only 3,000
men escaped the sword. The fugitives entrenched themselves at Civitot,
where they were again attacked by a large force. The Turks surrounded
the fortress with piles of wood, with the intention of destroying the
garrison by fire, but the Crusaders, seizing a moment when the wind blew
towards the Turkish camp, set fire to the wood themselves, and many of
their enemies perished in the flames.

Meanwhile a soldier had made his escape from the town, and having reached
Constantinople, told the news of these disasters to Peter the Hermit.
At the prayer of Peter, the Emperor Alexius sent forces to rescue the
garrison of Civitot, and the remnant of the army of the Cross was brought
in safety to Constantinople. On their arrival, however, Alexius commanded
them to disperse and return to their own country, and he bought from
each man his arms; thus at once depriving him of the means of violence,
and supplying him with money for the journey. This policy on the part
of the emperor has given rise to an accusation against him of having
betrayed the Crusaders, and entered into an alliance with the Turks. No
such motive is required to account for the conduct of Alexius. He would
necessarily be glad to purge his dominions from a number of lawless
vagabonds, who committed every species of iniquity in the name of a holy
cause, and who, as his allies, were more to be dreaded than the Turks his

While the expedition of Peter the Hermit thus came to an end, other bands
of fanatics and adventurers were following in his steps, without being
destined to reach Constantinople. The accounts of these expeditions are
inevitably obscure; but the information we possess on the subject is not
of a kind to induce a desire for further details. It is related that
a multitude of 200,000 persons, without even a nominal leader, passed
through Germany towards the south of Europe. Their course was marked by
excesses of every kind; men and women lived in a state of debauchery,
and indulged in drunken orgies, obtaining supplies by plundering the
surrounding country. Every Jew who fell into their hands was put to
death, and the fanatic multitude declared it to be the will of heaven
that they should exterminate the nation who had rejected the Saviour.
A terrible retribution, however, was at hand, and the sacred emblem of
the Cross was purified from the stains with which it had been covered by
the perpetrators of these enormities. At Merseburg, a large Hungarian
force opposed the advancing multitude, who attacked that city with fury.
A breach had been made in the walls, and the fall of Merseburg seemed
inevitable, when some strange and sudden terror, which has never been
accounted for, seized the besieging army, and they gave up the attack,
and fled in dismay over the country. The Hungarians pursued them on every
side, and mowed them down by hundreds. Day after day the slaughter went
on, until the fields were strewn with corpses and the Danube was red
with blood. Such was the fate of the first bands of Crusaders who set
out towards the Holy Land. More than a quarter of a million persons had
already perished by famine or disease, or by the swords of the Turks
or Hungarians, whose vengeance they had excited by acts of violence
and plunder. Meanwhile many powerful princes of the West were occupied
in collecting troops and preparing to take the field. Among these were
Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine; Hugh, Count of Vermandois, and
brother of Philip, King of France; Robert, Duke of Normandy; Bohemond,
Prince of Tarentum; Robert, Count of Flanders; and Raymond, Count of
Toulouse; each of whom conducted an army towards Constantinople.


(_From an Engraving in Anselm Banduri's "Imperium, Orientale," Paris,_

Among the leaders of the first Crusade, the most distinguished was
Godfrey VI., Lord of Bouillon, Marquis of Anvers, and Duke of Lorraine.
Inferior in political power to some of his companions, he was superior
to them all in that influence which depends upon personal character.
Although still young in years, he had earned fame in many a well-fought
field; and his name was known throughout Europe in connection with
acts of private virtue no less than with gallant feats of arms. Amidst
the cruelty and licentiousness so commonly attributed to the men of
that age, the character of Godfrey is presented to us almost without
blemish; and if we make some reservation for the partiality of monkish
chroniclers towards the great leader of the Crusade, there will still
remain evidence of facts which entitle the memory of the Lord of Bouillon
to the highest honour. Robert the Monk, one of his contemporaries, who
was present at the siege of Jerusalem, speaks of Godfrey in the following
terms:--"He was of beautiful countenance, tall of stature, agreeable in
his discourse, of excellent morals, and at the same time so gentle that
he seemed better fitted for the monk than for the knight; but when his
enemies appeared before him, and the combat was at hand, his soul became
filled with a mighty daring: like a lion, he feared not for his own
person; and what shield, what buckler, could withstand the fall of his
sword?" Long before the Crusade had been preached at Clermont, Godfrey
had heard the tales of the sufferings of the Christians in Palestine,
and had said that he desired to travel to Jerusalem, not with scrip and
staff, but with spear and shield. At the time when the standard of the
Cross was raised throughout Europe, he was suffering from a bad fever,
but "immediately he shook disease from his limbs, and rising, as it
were, with expanded breast, from years of decrepitude he shone with
renovated vigour."[15] In order to furnish money for the expedition he
had undertaken, he sold to the Church of Liège his beautiful domain and
castle of Bouillon; and the standard which he raised was joined by his
brother Baldwin, his relation, Baldwin de Bourg, and many other knights
of fame.

The army of Godfrey commenced its march from the Moselle in August, 1096,
and followed the course previously taken by Peter the Hermit. The order
and moderation which distinguished the disciplined troops of Godfrey
was as remarkable as the violence and excesses committed by the rabble
which had preceded them. The march was conducted peaceably, and without
incident, to the frontiers of Hungary, where the army came in sight of
the unburied corpses of the multitude slain near Merseburg.

Godfrey called a halt, and proceeded to investigate the causes of the
spectacle which lay before him. He wrote a firm but temperate letter to
the King of Hungary, demanding an account of the carnage, and Carloman
sent envoys with a reply which proved satisfactory. An interview
subsequently took place between the duke and the king, at the fortress of
Posen. Godfrey went towards this place, accompanied by an escort of 300
knights, and conversed with the Hungarian monarch on the reconciliation
of the Christians. The rights of hospitality, which were respected among
the most savage nations, were also enforced by the laws of chivalry; and
therefore, at the invitation of Carloman, Godfrey dismissed his retinue
without hesitation, and, accompanied by a few of his knights, entered the
capital. After some difficulty, he obtained the right of passage through

an Engraving in the "Imperium Orientale."_)]

While Godfrey was pursuing his course through Hungary, another body of
Crusaders, headed by Hugh, Count of Vermandois, were proceeding towards
Constantinople by way of Italy. Joined to this expedition, though
probably not marching in the same body, were the troops of Robert, Duke
of Normandy, and Stephen, Count of Blois.

Robert of Normandy was not altogether destitute of chivalrous qualities;
and therefore it is no matter for surprise that this man, whose reckless
and licentious character was notorious, should take up the cause of the
Cross. The most irreligious men are often superstitious. The crusade was
a pilgrimage, with all the pomp of war, and the temptation of earthly
aggrandisement was mingled with the hope of a recompense beyond the
grave. Fame in this world and happiness in the next were the prizes
for which the nobles forsook their feasts and dances, and the poor
their homes and their children. Robert was eloquent in speech, and,
when his indolence was overcome, skilful and energetic in action; but
his deeds were the result of impulse rather than of principle, and
were unrestrained by prudence or good sense. He, however, possessed
the popular virtue of lavish generosity, and large bands of troops,
both Norman and English, attached themselves to his standard. Several
independent lords also accompanied him, among whom were Eustace of
Boulogne, Stephen of Albemarle, and Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux.

The army of Hugh of Vermandois crossed the Alps with the intention of
proceeding by sea to the Holy Land. The old chroniclers describe in
glowing terms the brilliant appearance of the troops--the splendour of
their equipments--the multitude of knights with shining armour, and
banners glistening in the sun. Such a sight had never before been seen in
Europe, and it seemed as though this gorgeous array had been destined
for pleasure rather than for war. Robert of Normandy and Stephen of
Chartres dispersed their forces among the towns of Barri and Otranto, and
passed the autumn in gaiety and dissipation. Hugh of Vermandois, however,
determined to embark without delay, and he wrote to the Emperor Alexius,
demanding haughtily that preparations should be made for his reception.
But his vessels were scattered in a storm, and Hugh himself, having
landed at Durazzo, was detained in captivity, and sent to Constantinople.
Here he was received with great civility by Alexius, who exerted himself
by flatteries and attentions to gain the goodwill of his prisoner.

The news of the imprisonment of Hugh reached the army of Godfrey at
Philippopolis, and Godfrey sent messengers to the emperor, demanding that
the Count of Vermandois should be immediately liberated. Alexius refused
to comply with the request, and Godfrey commenced hostilities by giving
up to pillage the beautiful province of Thrace. This course of action
had its effect, and the emperor found himself compelled to liberate the
prisoners. Godfrey then, at once, repressed further acts of violence
among his soldiers, and marched peaceably to Constantinople, where he
arrived two days before Christmas.

The Count of Vermandois advanced from the city to meet his friend, and at
that moment a messenger from the emperor approached Godfrey and invited
him to visit the palace. The Lord of Bouillon, however, had been warned
against the treachery probably intended by Alexius, and therefore refused
to enter the walls. The inhabitants of the city were then prohibited
from traffic with the Crusaders, and the army of Godfrey laid waste the
surrounding country. During the festival of Christmas these offensive
measures were suspended, and at the end of that time the emperor recalled
his edict.

Once more Alexius sent deputies to induce Godfrey to enter the city,
and his refusal was followed by a second prohibition of traffic, and
by further acts of retaliation on the part of the Crusaders. A body of
troops then issued from the town, and attacked the camp of the Latins.
The Greeks from the walls hurled darts and shot arrows upon the soldiers
below, but the Crusaders, who were protected by their coats of mail,
inflicted great damage upon their assailants before night closed in and
put an end to the combat. Alexius was compelled, by the sufferings of
his people, to give up all thoughts of hostile measures, and traffic
and intercourse were resumed between the inhabitants and the Army of the
Cross. Hugh of Vermandois, upon whom the blandishments of Alexius had
produced their impressions, exerted himself to establish peace, and to
prevail upon Godfrey to take the oath of fealty to the emperor. The Lord
of Lorraine at first refused to bend the knee before this treacherous
prince, but at length the arguments of Hugh produced their effect, and a
son of Alexius having been sent to the Latin camp as a hostage, Godfrey
entered Constantinople with his friends.

Since the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity (A.D.
323), a city of spacious squares, gorgeous palaces, and churches had
been gradually growing up upon the site of the little town of Byzantium.
This place was selected by Constantine as the seat of his empire, and
the removal may be regarded as one of the causes which hastened the fall
of Rome. After the death of Constantine, the vast empire over which his
sway had extended was separated into distinct sovereignties for his sons
and nephews. That portion of the Roman territory of which Constantinople
was the capital gradually acquired strength and importance, and became
an empire which has since been known as the _Greek_, _Eastern_, or
_Byzantine_ empire.

Of those splendours of the Byzantine court which had exerted so marked an
influence upon the mind of the Count of Vermandois, and were now employed
to dazzle the eyes of his companions in arms, we have full records in the
writings of that period. Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jew, who travelled
through the East in the twelfth century (1159 or 1160), has given a
description of what he saw at Constantinople, and speaks in glowing terms
of the magnificence of the buildings and the wealth and luxury of the

"The King Emanuel,"[16] says he, "has built a grand palace for the
throne or the seat of his empire, on the borders of the sea, in addition
to those which were built by his ancestors. In this palace the columns
and their capitals are covered with pure gold and silver, and he has
caused to be graven on them all the wars which he and his ancestors have
made.[17] There also has been erected a throne of gold and precious
stones, above which hangs, by a golden chain, a crown of gold, which
comes exactly upon his head when he is seated. In this crown are stones
of such great price as cannot be estimated. In the night there is no
need of candles, for every one is able to see by the sparkling of these
jewels. There are also many other wonders, which no man could recount.

"Thither are carried every year the tributes of all Greece, whose castles
are filled with dresses of silk, of purple, and gold. Nowhere else in the
world do we see such buildings and such great riches. It is said that the
tribute of Constantinople alone amounts to twenty thousand pieces of gold
a day,[18] derived from imposts upon the shops, markets, and taverns,
as well as that paid by merchants who repair thither from all quarters,
both by land and sea. The Greek inhabitants of the country are very rich
in gold and jewels. They go about in dresses of silk, fringed with gold
and embroidery. To see them in this attire, mounted on their horses, one
would say that they are like the sons of kings."[19]

In spite of the luxury which prevailed, the subjects of the Byzantine
empire were the most dexterous and laborious of nations. Their country
was blessed by nature with every advantage of soil, climate, and
situation; and in the support and restoration of the arts their patient
and peaceful temper produced results which were not to be attained amidst
the warlike spirit and feudal anarchy of Europe. In the preparation of
those costly dresses described by the Jewish traveller, the colours most
in use were the Tyrian purple, the brilliant scarlet, and the softer
lustre of the green. These colours were also used to adorn the buildings.

"There is also at Constantinople," continues Benjamin of Tudela, "the
temple of St. Sophia; and the Pope of the Greeks, who are not subject
to the Pope of Rome. You may count as many altars in the Temple of St.
Sophia as there are days in the year. Thither are gathered immense
riches from the isles, country houses, and towns of the country. There
is no temple in the universe where we find such riches as are there.
In the midst of this temple there are columns of gold and silver, and
chandeliers of the same metals, in such numbers that we cannot count

A church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom (Santa Sophia) was built by
Constantine in the twentieth year of his reign. This building was burnt
down in the year 404, and having been rebuilt by Theodosius, was again
destroyed by fire. The vast pile, which still remains one of the chief
ornaments of Constantinople, and which is now used as a Mahometan mosque,
dates from the reign of Justinian. That magnificent prince determined
to build "the grandest monument ever erected by the hand of man." Seven
years were occupied in collecting materials from every part of the world,
and nine were employed in the actual building. Columns of marble from the
Temples of the Sun at Palmyra and of Diana at Ephesus, bricks of perfect
form and remarkable durability from the island of Rhodes, were brought at
immense cost to complete the edifice. Gold and mosaics were spread over
the surface, and paintings on gold and costly marbles covered the walls.

The church of St. Sophia, which once contained so many splendours, now
retains within it but few traces of its former glory. The imposing
proportions of the building still remain, but the walls are bare, and
upon the dome the Crescent has replaced the Cross.

The narrative of Benjamin of Tudela goes on to describe a "place where
the king diverts himself, called the hippodrome near to the wall of the
palace.[20] There it is that every year, on the day of the birth of Jesus
the Nazarene, the king gives a grand entertainment. There are represented
by magic arts before the king and queen, figures of all kinds of men that
exist in the world; thither also are taken lions, bears, tigers, and wild
asses, which are made to fight together, as well as birds. There is no
such a sight to be seen in all the world."[21]


(_From a Photograph by Alexandre, Brussels._)]

According to Gibbon, the great palace, the centre of the imperial
residence, was situated between the hippodrome and the church of St.
Sophia; and the gardens descended by many a terrace to the shores of the
Propontis. The new palace, erected in the ninth century by the Emperor
Theophilus, was accompanied with five churches, one of which was
conspicuous for size and beauty. The square before the portico of the
church contained a fountain, the basin of which was lined and encompassed
with plates of silver. In the beginning of each season the basin was
replenished, instead of water, with the most exquisite fruits, which were
abandoned to the populace for the entertainment of the prince. He enjoyed
this tumultuous spectacle from a throne resplendent with gold and gems,
which was raised by a marble staircase to the height of a lofty terrace.
Below the throne were seated the officers of the guards, the magistrates,
and the chiefs of the factions of the circus; the inferior steps were
occupied by the people; the space below was covered with troops of
singers, dancers, and pantomimists. The fanciful magnificence of the
emperor employed, in various fantastic designs, the skill and patience
of such artists as the times could afford; but the taste of Athens would
have despised their frivolous and costly labours--a golden tree with its
leaves and branches, which sheltered a multitude of birds warbling their
artificial notes, and two lions of massy gold, and of natural size, which
looked and roared like their brethren of the forest.


Such were the scenes of magnificence which were presented to the view of
Godfrey and his companions as they entered the Greek capital. The emperor
received the great leader of the Crusade with the highest distinction,
clothed him with imperial robes, and called him his son.[22] The
character of Godfrey is shown to us in so high and noble an aspect, that
it is not probable he was much affected by these flatteries; but whatever
may have been his motives, he consented to do homage to the emperor,
according to the feudal laws of France. Alexius now made costly presents
to the Crusaders, and gave them honourable conduct from the city. After
having refreshed themselves for several days, the army passed the
Hellespont and encamped at Chalcedon, there to await the other divisions
of the Crusade.

Soon after the departure of Godfrey from Lorraine, Bohemond, Prince of
Tarentum, and his relation Tancred had quitted Italy with an immense
body of troops, including 10,000 horse. While the character of Bohemond
was ambitious, grasping, and unprincipled, the virtues of Tancred
were unanimously extolled by the historians of the day, and have been
celebrated in undying verse from the pen of Tasso.

The army under these leaders landed at Durazzo and passed through Epirus
to Adrianople. Although Alexius had communicated with Bohemond, promising
him assistance, the Greek troops harassed the advancing forces, and
various engagements took place, with considerable loss on both sides;
Bohemond then, at the invitation of the emperor, visited Constantinople,
leaving his army behind under Tancred. Influenced by large gifts of money
and lands, Bohemond did homage to the emperor, and became one of his
firmest allies.

Impressed with a sense of the humiliation of a concession which had been
bought with gold, Tancred determined not to submit to similar demands. On
receiving the news the young knight immediately marched his army towards
Constantinople, and, crossing the Hellespont--without giving any notice
of his intention--joined the forces of Godfrey at Chalcedon. Alexius made
many efforts to bring back Tancred to Constantinople, and to induce him
to do homage, but without success; and the attention of the emperor was
presently drawn in another direction, by the arrival of Raymond of St.
Gilles, Count of Toulouse, with an army of Crusaders from Languedoc.

Raymond, who is represented as being revengeful and avaricious, but
possessing some moral firmness, in conjunction with pride, refused to pay
his allegiance to the emperor. The troops of the Count of Toulouse were
at a considerable distance from the army of his friends, and Alexius did
not hesitate to order a night attack to be made from the city upon the
French camp. The Languedocians, however, repulsed their assailants with
great loss, and further negotiations, which afterwards took place, only
resulted in a second refusal on the part of Raymond to pay the required
homage. He, however, consented to take a vow that he would make no
attempt against the life or honour of the emperor.

Alexius then changed his conduct, and invited the count to the palace,
where the luxury and magnificence which surrounded him produced its
effect, and Raymond remained for some time amidst the pleasures of the
court. Bohemond and Godfrey, however, had already marched from Chalcedon
towards Nicæa, the capital of the Turkish kingdom of Roum. On receiving
the news of their departure, the Count of Toulouse quitted Constantinople
and hastened to follow the main body of the army.

Another army, forming the last division of the first Crusade, soon
afterwards appeared before Constantinople. Robert of Normandy had at
length torn himself away from the pleasures of Italy, and had brought
with him a well-appointed army, though fewer in numbers than those which
had preceded him. Robert took the oath of allegiance, satisfied with the
assurance that the other leaders had already done so, and his army having
received supplies from the emperor, passed the Hellespont, and marched
towards Nicæa, in the path of their companions.

During the successive visits of the Crusaders to Constantinople,
the Greek emperor had lost no opportunity of sowing jealousies and
dissensions among them. Nevertheless, during the siege of Nicæa, which
was the first combined undertaking of the Army of the Cross, there seems
to have been no want of harmony among the various leaders. This city,
which was occupied by the Seljuk Turks, was strongly fortified by a solid
wall, from which rose 350 towers.

When the Christian leaders had united their forces, and been joined by
Peter the Hermit with the remnant of his multitude, their army is said
to have numbered 600,000 men, exclusive of those who did not carry arms.
The number of knights is estimated as having been 200,000. The Seljukian
Sultan, David, had quitted his capital on the approach of the Crusaders,
and having collected throughout the country a large body of horse, he
made a sudden attack upon the Christian forces, but was defeated with
heavy loss.

The siege of Nicæa was now pressed with vigour, but the town was
obstinately defended, and many of the assailants were shot down by the
arrows of the Turkish bowmen. One Turk in particular was seen to present
himself repeatedly on the walls, and to deal death wherever his aim was
directed. The best-aimed arrows having failed to touch him, the Christian
soldiers were seized with superstitious terror, and attributed to him the
possession of some supernatural power. It is related by Albert of Aix
that Godfrey of Bouillon at length took a crossbow himself, though that
weapon was considered as fit only for a yeoman, and having directed it
against the Turkish archer, sent an arrow to his heart.

The supplies of the town were obtained from Lake Ascanius (Isnik), which
lay beneath its walls, and when this circumstance was discovered by the
Crusaders, they established a blockade. Alexius meanwhile had privately
communicated with the Turks, who agreed to surrender the city into his
hands on condition of receiving immunity and protection. When, therefore,
the besieging forces expected the submission of the garrison, the
imperial ensign suddenly appeared upon the walls. It had been previously
determined between the emperor and the Christian leaders that on the fall
of the city it should be given up to Alexius, and that the riches it
contained should be distributed among the troops. The treachery of the
emperor, in having forestalled this arrangement, excited the greatest
indignation among the soldiers of the Crusade, and their leaders had the
utmost difficulty in restraining them from that vengeance which they


(_From a Greek MS. of the Ninth Century in the National Library, Paris._)]

The army having resumed its march, the divisions headed by Bohemond and
Robert of Normandy became separated from the main body. After crossing
arid plains and barren hills, they encamped for the night near Dorylæum,
in a pleasant valley watered by a running stream. On the following
morning they were suddenly attacked by an army of 200,000 men, who rushed
down upon them from the mountains with shouts that shook the air. The
Crusaders made a gallant resistance, but they had to deal with an enemy
whose superiority lay not less in numbers, than in the fleetness of their
steeds and the position of the ground. The Christian soldiers were mown
down by flights of arrows and by the charges of the Turkish cavalry;
and on being attacked simultaneously in front and rear, they gave way,
and fell into confusion. The Turks forced their way into the camp of
Bohemond, where they massacred the old, the women, and the helpless. At
this juncture the stout heart of Robert of Normandy saved his companions
from the disgrace of utter defeat. Spurring his horse among the flying
troops, he uncovered his head, and through the din and confusion of
the fray sounded his battle-cry of "Normandy!" "Bohemond!" he shouted,
"whither fly you? Your Apulia is afar! Where go you, Tancred? Otranto is
not near you! Turn upon the enemy! God wills it! God wills it!" And with
these words he rallied the troops, drove back the Turks, and maintained
a firm line of defence. The battle raged during many hours with great
slaughter on both sides, and the Christian troops were gradually giving
way before overwhelming numbers, when the Red Cross banner appeared upon
the hills, and the army of Godfrey of Bouillon advanced to change the
fortune of the day. The Paynim host were compelled to fly in disorder,
and their camp, containing much booty of food, fell into the hands of the

[Illustration: COSTUME OF EMPRESS OF CONSTANTINOPLE. (_From a Greek MS._)]

In the subsequent march through Phrygia, the Christians had to pass over
a large tract of country which had been completely ravaged by the enemy.
Their provisions soon became exhausted, and under the burning rays of
a southern sun they found themselves without water. The accounts given
by the chroniclers of the sufferings of the troops are too dreadful to
be repeated. Men, women, and horses fell by thousands on the way, and
perished by a lingering and painful death.

(_See p._ 150.)]

At length water was found, and the host of the Crusade reached the city
of Antioch in Pisidia. Here, surrounded by a fertile district, the
main body of the troops rested for a while from their fatigues, while
detachments under the command of Tancred and Baldwin, brother of Godfrey
Bouillon, made incursions through the country, and became possessed
of the towns of Tarsus and Mamistra. Subsequently Baldwin crossed the
Euphrates, and was elected King of Edessa, in which city he remained
until the conquest of the Holy Land was completed.

(D), AND CONVENTUAL TEMPLAR (E). (_See p._ 151.)

(_a, Pilgrim's wallet; b, Pilgrim's staff._)]

The great army of the Crusade continued its march through uninhabited
wilds and barren mountains, and having taken possession of Artesia,
advanced towards the Syrian Antioch. Situated on the hills above the
river Orontes, the town of Antioch was so strongly fortified by nature as
well as by art, that all efforts to take it by assault proved fruitless,
and the movable towers, mangonels, battering-rams, and other engines,
which were brought to bear by the besieging army, were used without
effect (October 21, 1097). Meanwhile famine and disease spread their
ravages in the camp without the walls, and the storms of winter proved
more fatal to the troops than the arrows of the enemy. Rendered reckless
by their sufferings, the soldiers cast aside all the obligations of
morality; crimes of the worst description became common, and even the
ties of nature were forgotten. We are told by William of Malmesbury, that
such was the extremity to which the Crusaders were reduced, that many of
them fed upon the dead bodies of their companions. Some of the inferior
leaders deserted the army, and among these was Peter the Hermit, whose
impulsive enthusiasm gave way before continued misfortunes. He, however,
was brought back by Tancred, and was compelled to take a vow that he
would not again abandon the enterprise until the army had reached
Jerusalem. After various encounters had taken place before the walls,
during which the knights of the Crusades performed extraordinary feats of
valour, the town of Antioch was betrayed in 1098 to the crafty Bohemond,
and the Turkish inhabitants were slaughtered indiscriminately. But the
victors found their condition very little improved by the conquest. The
city was rich in booty of various kinds, but contained only a scanty
store of provisions, of which the Crusaders stood most in need.

Reduced to a state of famine within the walls, the Christians found
themselves attacked from without by the forces of the Persian Sultan,
who had advanced to rid the country of the invaders. The army of Godfrey
had the choice of giving battle to their assailants, or of perishing
miserably in the city. Various means having been resorted to of arousing
the superstitious feelings of the soldiers, the Christian host marched
out from the gates, and began the attack. The ghastly faces of men
worn down by famine and misery were lighted once more by the flame of
fanaticism, and the wild multitude threw themselves with desperate vigour
upon the splendidly appointed host of the Moslem.

In the midst of the contest the Crusaders saw, or thought they saw,
some figures clothed in white raiment, and mounted upon white horses,
advancing to their aid over the mountains. A cry was raised that the
saints were coming to fight on their side; and so powerful was the effect
of the enthusiasm thus produced, so terrible was the charge of the
Christians upon their enemies, that the Persian host was utterly routed,
and dispersed over the hills. Nearly 70,000 Turks are said to have died
in the battle of Antioch, while the loss on the part of their opponents
did not exceed 10,000. The Crusaders re-entered the city laden with the
rich booty of the Turkish camp, in which were found provisions of all
kinds, with stores of gold and arms.

While the Christian army was reposing in the midst of plenty, Hugh of
Vermandois and Baldwin of Hainault were dispatched to Constantinople on
a mission to the Emperor Alexius. Baldwin fell into a Turkish ambuscade,
and his fate is not known; but Hugh of Vermandois arrived safely at the
Byzantine court. Alexius, careless of his plighted faith, refused to send
the reinforcements which were demanded, and suffered events to take their
course. The Count of Vermandois having tasted once more the pleasures
of ease and luxury, and wearied with the fatigues and privations of the
Crusade, abandoned the cause which he had sworn to maintain, and leaving
his companions in arms to their fate, returned to his estates in France.

Meanwhile a pestilence broke out in Antioch, and compelled the chiefs
to separate and distribute their men in cantonments over the country. A
desultory but successful warfare continued to be waged against the Turks,
and many towns and fortresses fell into the hands of the Crusaders. At
length, after further sufferings and much hard fighting, the remnant of
the Army of the Cross arrived before Jerusalem. Of those immense armies,
the flower of European chivalry, which had passed in splendid array under
the walls of Constantinople, only about 50,000 men were left to reach the
Holy City.

An attack was begun on the 7th of June, 1099, headed by Godfrey, Tancred,
Robert of Normandy, and Robert of Flanders. The barbicans were carried,
and a portion of the wall was thrown down; but such was the strength of
the fortifications, and so obstinate the defence of the Turks, that it
became necessary to construct engines of assault similar to those which
had been used in the siege of Nicæa. Catapults and movable towers were
prepared, and to these was added a machine called the "sow," made of
wood, and covered with raw hides to protect it from fire. The hollow
space within was filled with soldiers, who, with this protection, were
occupied in undermining the walls.

To secure success in the final effort of the enterprise, the leaders
exerted themselves to heal the dissensions which had hitherto existed
in the army, and Tancred set an example of conciliation by embracing
his foe, Raymond of Toulouse, in sight of the troops. An expiatory
procession, headed by the chiefs and the clergy, was made round the
walls of the city, and prayers were offered up at some of the holy
places in the neighbourhood for the success of the Christian arms. These
demonstrations were treated by the Turks with contempt. They mocked at
the procession as it passed before them, and having raised the Cross
upon the walls, they threw dirt upon the sacred symbol. The anger of the
Crusaders was excited to the utmost, and their interpretation of the
religion of peace permitted them to mingle oaths of vengeance with the
prayers for victory.


(_From the Painting by Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S., in the Victoria
and Albert Museum._)]

The preparations having been completed, the towers were rolled up to
the walls, and the attack commenced. The chiefs of the Christian army
appeared on the higher stages of the towers, and Godfrey of Bouillon
himself was seen with a crossbow in his hand directing his shafts within
the town. The Turks replied by pouring out sheets of flame[23] and
flights of arrows upon their assailants. The assault had continued for
ten days without result, when the Crusaders redoubled their efforts. Some
soldiers from the tower of Godfrey effected a lodgment on the walls, and
were followed by the Lord of Lorraine, with Baldwin de Bourg, and other
chiefs. Robert of Normandy and Tancred forced one of the gates, and the
standard of the Cross was raised upon the walls of Jerusalem on the 15th
of July, 1099.

The details of the massacre that ensued form one of the bloodiest pages
of history. The Turks, after a vain attempt to dispute the advance of the
Crusaders, fled to the mosques, and were slain before the altars. The
inhabitants of the city were put to the sword without distinction, women
and children sharing the fate of their husbands and their fathers. Ten
thousand men are said to have been butchered in the Mosque of Omar, where
they had attempted to defend themselves. Streams of blood flowed down the
streets of the city, and few of the infidel race escaped the carnage.
Such was the vengeance taken by the Crusaders for the persecutions
suffered by the Christians in Jerusalem; such were the deeds of horror
perpetrated in the name of the Saviour of mankind, as though the Majesty
of Heaven could be propitiated by a libation of human blood.

It became necessary to place the safety of the Holy City in the care of
one powerful chief, and Godfrey of Bouillon was elected the first King of
Jerusalem. He was invested with his new dignity in the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre, but refused to be crowned, saying that it was not fitting that
he should wear a crown of gold in the city where the Saviour had been
crowned with thorns. His reign lasted barely a year, and on his death his
brother Baldwin was chosen to succeed him.

It does not fall within the scope of this history to trace the progress
of events at Jerusalem under its Latin kings. Some account may, however,
be given of the origin of two powerful orders of knighthood, which
indirectly owed their origin to the First Crusade.

In the year 1048, some merchants from Amalfi obtained permission from
the caliph to build a hospital at Jerusalem for the protection of
pilgrims. A piece of ground near to the site of the Holy Sepulchre was
assigned to them for this purpose, and a chapel and hospital were built
there, the first being dedicated to St. Mary, and the second to St.
John the Baptist. During the siege of Jerusalem many of the sick and
wounded Crusaders were brought into the hospital; and, in gratitude for
the benefits they received there, they determined to dedicate their
lives to charitable acts, and to enter the Monastery of St. John. They
assumed as a dress a black robe, with the figure of a white cross with
eight points. Pope Pascal II. bestowed many valuable privileges upon the
order, and the Poor Brothers of the Hospital of St. John became a wealthy
community, famed throughout Europe. During the reign of Baldwin III. of
Jerusalem, the Hospitallers resumed the sword, binding themselves by a
vow to draw it only against the enemies of Christ. The order of St. John
was then divided into the several classes of knights, clergy, and serving
brothers. The knights were highest in rank, and commanded in battle or
in the hospital; the serving brothers filled the offices of esquires, or
assisted the clergy in attendance upon the sick. The vows, which were
taken by all without distinction, included the duties of chastity, of
obedience, and of a renunciation individually of all worldly possessions.

The order of the Red Cross Knights, or Templars, is to be referred to a
different origin, though the object for which it was instituted was of a
similar kind, namely, the protection of pilgrims. The military order of
Knights Templars was founded by Baldwin II., King of Jerusalem, in 1118,
and they first came to England in 1185. They took vows of obedience to a
Grand Master whom they had appointed, and also bound themselves to purity
of life, to mutual assistance, and to fight continually against the
infidel, never turning back from less than four adversaries. The order
was known as that of the Temple of Jerusalem. They wore a white robe,
to which was attached a red cross. In addition to their great standard,
which also displayed these colours, they carried in battle a banner
with black and white stripes, which was intended to signify charity
and kindness to their friends, and destruction to their enemies. The
Knights Templars, whose rules, like those of the Hospitallers, enjoined
humility and poverty, soon became the proudest and wealthiest order in
Christendom; and while the Knights of St. John remained during several
centuries honoured and respected for acts of benevolence, the Templars
became hated and feared for their vices and their cruelty. Much of the
chivalry of Europe afterwards became merged in these two orders.



     Accession of Henry I.--Robert's Delay in Italy--The Charter
     of Liberties--Henry's Popularity--Offers his Hand to
     Matilda--Her Lineage--Obstacles to the Marriage--The Church
     decides in Favour of it--London at this Period--Coronation
     of Matilda--Roger of Salisbury--The Marriage--Punishment of
     William's Favourites--Arrival of Robert in Normandy--Prepares
     to Attack Henry--Anselm's Services to Henry--Peace effected
     between the Brothers--Henry's Dispute with Anselm--Strange Policy
     of the Pope--The Dispute Settled--Death of Anselm--The Earl of
     Shrewsbury Outlawed--Visit of Robert to England--Campaigns in
     Normandy--Robert and Edgar Atheling taken Prisoners--Fate of
     Edgar--Captivity and Death of Robert--Normandy in Possession of
     Henry--The English King and his Nephew--Return of the King to
     England--Betrothal of Henry's Daughter Matilda to the Emperor
     of Germany--War with the Welsh--Death of the Queen--Renewed
     War in Normandy--Henry before the Council of Rheims--Battle of
     Brenneville--Treaty of Peace--Shipwreck and Death of the King's
     Son--Henry's Grief--Character of Prince William--More Trouble
     in Normandy--The Empress Matilda declared Successor to the
     Throne--Her Marriage with the Count of Anjou--Death of William of
     Normandy--Last Years of the King's Life--Death of Henry.

When the news of the death of William Rufus was brought to his brother
Henry in the New Forest, the prince immediately set spurs to his horse
and galloped to Winchester. Presenting himself before the officers in
charge of the treasures of the crown, he demanded the keys; but before
he had obtained them, William de Breteuil, the royal treasurer, who had
followed Henry from the New Forest, arrived on the spot, and interposed
his authority. De Breteuil reminded the prince of the oath of allegiance
which they had both taken to Robert of Normandy, to whom also, as the
eldest son of the Conqueror, the throne as well as the treasure by right
belonged. A violent altercation took place, and Henry drew his sword and
threatened De Breteuil with instant death unless the treasure were given
up. Several nobles of the late king's court supported the demand, and the
treasurer found himself compelled to abandon an opposition which proved

Henry, whose abilities had procured him the surname of Beauclerk, or the
"fine scholar," showed himself as prompt in action as skilful in design.
He immediately distributed some of the jewels and money of the crown
among his adherents and the clergy of Winchester, and with these gifts,
and promises still more lavishly bestowed, he secured a certain degree of
popularity in the city. Having been elected king by the barons who were
present, he hastened to London, when he again distributed large gifts
among those whose adhesion was necessary. So rapidly was all this done,
that on the 5th of August, three days after his brother's death, Henry
was proclaimed king, and was crowned in Westminster Abbey by Maurice,
Bishop of London.

It will be remembered that, by the treaty signed at Caen between Robert
of Normandy and William Rufus, the crown of England devolved upon
the survivor; but while Henry was obtaining possession of the throne,
Robert was not yet returned from the Holy Land. Soon after the fall of
Jerusalem, the Duke of Normandy had quitted Palestine and landed in
Italy. Here he was received with high honour and welcome by the Norman
barons who had conquered large possessions in that southern land.
Passing through Apulia, he was entertained at the castle of the Count of
Conversane, who was a relation of Robert Guiscard. The count received his
guest with the utmost hospitality, and all the resources of a princely
establishment were placed at his command. It is not surprising that these
pleasures should attract a man like the Duke of Normandy, who had just
escaped from the protracted hardships of the Crusade. But the Count of
Conversane had a daughter; she was young, accomplished, and of great
beauty. Robert fell in love with the Lady Sibylla, and obtained her hand
in marriage. Ignorant of the critical position of affairs in England, and
probably troubling himself little about the future, the Duke of Normandy
lingered in Italy, while his more ambitious brother was securing himself
in the sovereignty he had usurped.

The English people are said to have been inclined in favour of Henry,
from the circumstance of his having been born and educated in England.
The advantage he thus possessed was improved to the utmost, and the
new king exerted himself to obtain the goodwill of that portion of his
subjects who, however trodden down and oppressed by the arrogant Norman
barons, were, in fact, the strength and sinew of the nation. A charter of
liberties was passed, in which Henry bound himself to restore the laws
of Edward the Confessor--that is, the old customs of the country--and
promised to restrict himself to his just claims over his tenants, making
the same agreement binding in turn upon his tenants towards their
vassals. This charter was the cause of great rejoicing among the people,
and though the effects produced by it were less advantageous than was
expected, it is remarkable as having supplied the groundwork for that
more important concession which was afterwards obtained from King John.

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF HENRY I.]

These measures gave to Henry a greater popularity than had been enjoyed
by either of his predecessors. The nation had no fears of foreign
invasion. Some of the most pressing grievances had been redressed,
and hopes were given of the removal of others; and although several
generations had to pass away before the distinction of Norman and Saxon
was entirely to merge into the general name of Englishman, the process
had already commenced--a process which, rousing the slumbering English
from the lethargy of years, and stimulating the energetic principles
of the Norman character to their highest development, ultimately gave
birth to a series of events which placed England foremost in the rank of

Such was the state of affairs when the new king, rejecting all thoughts
of an alliance with any of the princely families of the Continent, as
the crowning act of reconciliation with his English subjects, offered
his hand to the exiled and portionless daughter of Malcolm Canmore, a
humble novice in the Abbey of Romsey, but the representative of a long
and illustrious line of English princes.

We have seen how, on the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold obtained
possession of the crown, and have recorded his defeat and death, and
the flight of Edgar--"the noble child," as the English chroniclers
fondly term him--with his mother and sisters to Scotland. The results
of his voyage, and the marriage of his sister Margaret with the King of
Scotland, have been already related.

Six children arrived at years of maturity. Edward, who was slain with
his father at Alnwick; Edgar, Alexander, and David, who each in turn
succeeded to the crown. The daughters were named Mary, who married
Eustace, Count of Boulogne; and Matilda, or Maud, afterwards queen of
Henry I.

The death of Malcolm and his eldest son, which occurred in 1093, was soon
followed by that of Margaret. The brother of Malcolm assumed the crown,
to the exclusion of his three nephews; and to this cause we may doubtless
attribute the sending of Matilda, together with her sister, to the care
of their aunt Christina, who had taken the veil in 1086.

As Matilda grew towards womanhood, more than one Norman chieftain had
endeavoured to obtain her hand in marriage; but on preferring their
request to William Rufus, that politic monarch had refused his consent.
He did not wish to see an English princess, a lineal descendant of Alfred
the Great, allied to any man whose power or abilities might enable him
to aspire to the throne. Matilda, therefore, remained in the seclusion
of the cloister until King Henry sent to her his proposals of marriage.
It is related that the young princess received the offer with dislike if
not with disdain. She was not ignorant of the sufferings which the Norman
invasion had brought upon her countrymen, and her sympathy with their
sorrows induced a hatred of their oppressors. Her friends and attendants,
however, combated these scruples, and argued that, by her consent, she
might restore, in some degree, the safety and happiness of the people,
while her refusal would certainly tend to increase the enmity between the
Norman and English races. It is one of the penalties attached to royalty
that those connections which, in a lower and happier sphere of life, are
matters of choice and affection, become among princes mere questions of
State policy. Matilda felt herself unable to resist the arguments brought
forward in favour of the match, and she gave an unwilling consent. An
opposition on the other side, meanwhile, arose among the Norman adherents
of Henry, who were ill-disposed to have an English queen to reign over
them, and were probably jealous of the effect such a marriage would
produce among the people in the king's favour.

It was asserted that the chosen wife of the king was already the bride of
Heaven; that she had been seen to wear the veil of a nun, which shut her
out for ever from the world.

In this difficulty it was necessary for Henry to procure the assistance
of the clergy, and, wishing to obtain the support of the Church against
Robert, he sent messengers to Anselm entreating him to return to England,
and resume the see of Canterbury. The king promised to restore the
privileges of the Church, and to submit to its authority. Anselm acceded
to the request, and agreed to perform the marriage ceremony; but when
he heard the reports in circulation that Matilda had taken the veil, he
declared that the matter required to be investigated, and that he would
himself examine the princess on the subject.

On the question being put to her, Matilda denied that she had ever been
dedicated to a religious life, or had worn the veil of her own consent.
The reason she gave for having been made to do so at particular times
gives a striking picture of the lawlessness and brutality of the Norman
soldiery. "I confess," she said, "that I have sometimes appeared veiled,
but the cause was this:--In my youth I was under the care of my aunt
Christina. She, in order to preserve me from the Normans, by whose
licentiousness the honour of all women was threatened, was accustomed to
throw a piece of black stuff over my head; and when I refused to wear it,
she treated me with great harshness. In her presence, therefore, I wore
that veil, but when she was away, I used to throw it on the ground, and
trample upon it in childish anger."[24]

Anselm convoked a council of nobles and ecclesiastics, who assembled in
the city of Rochester, and to whom the evidence given by Matilda was
submitted. Witnesses were examined in support of her assertions, and the
assembly decided that the princess was free to dispose of her person in
marriage. They cited, as an authority for this decision, the judgment of
Archbishop Lanfranc, who, at a time when some English women had taken
refuge in a convent from fear of the soldiers of the Conqueror, permitted
them to regain their liberty.

At the time of the coronation of Matilda, the city of London could not
have presented much to attract the eye. The convents were few, and the
churches humble. The tall spire, rising like an aspiration towards
heaven; the richly traceried window; the carved portal, did not yet
exist to form a picturesque contrast with the rude, low houses built in
irregular lines.

The Thames, crossed by one poor wooden bridge, was not then, as now,
crowded by a fleet of merchantmen. At the Tower, the Vintry, and
Edred's-hithe, a few small vessels, indeed, might be anchored; and from
time to time some tall Norman galley might glide over its silvery waters.

On either side of the city, and close to the water's edge, stood the
important fortresses of the Tower and Castle Baynard, whilst a rude
collection of huts, of the poorest description, formed that general
receptacle of thieves and outlaws, the Borough. Close to them stood the
convent and church of St. Mary, and far beyond, on the same side of the
river, rising above the marshes which surrounded it, might be seen the
towers of the palace of Lambeth.

As the procession moved on, the eyes of the princess encountered a fairer
spectacle; for, on quitting the village of Charing, she entered the broad
but irregular road which led to the palace of Westminster, the residence
of the sovereign of England. There the hand of improvement, guided by
art, had lavished enormous sums of money both on church and hall. The
abbey, which had been raised by the pious exertions of the Confessor, was
probably no ignoble edifice.

Beside the primate was a churchman of a very different character, Roger,
the king's chancellor, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury. The history of
his progress under royal favour is strikingly characteristic of the
man and the times in which he flourished. At the period when Henry was
fighting under the banner of his brother, William Rufus, with a troop
of mercenaries whom he headed, they entered a church near Caen, and
requested the priest whom they found there to say a mass as quickly
as possible. This priest was Roger, who promptly complied with their
request, and hurried over the service in so rapid a manner that they
unanimously declared that it would be impossible to find a priest more
suitable for a soldier's chaplain. In this new office Roger acquitted
himself so well, that Henry, on his accession, advanced him to the
chancellorship, and in 1107 to the see of Salisbury. He became one of the
ablest financiers of the age, and a great builder of churches and castles.

Of the principal nobles of England and Normandy, it is probable that
only a few were present. Some were in the Holy Land with Robert; others,
dissatisfied at the usurpation of his younger brother, remained in their
respective castles, silently preparing to assert the right of the lawful
heir to the throne. Amongst those, however, who adhered to Henry, was the
famous Roger de Bigod, who had obtained vast possessions both in Norfolk
and Suffolk; whilst another devoted friend of the king was the powerful
Earl of Chester, lord of the Welsh marches, and commonly called Hugh
Lupus, on account of his turbulent disposition.

The marriage was celebrated on the 12th of November, 1100, and the queen
was crowned amidst the acclamations of the people. Previous to the
ceremony, Anselm, who wished to leave no room for slanderous reports,
and to remove all doubts of the lawfulness of the marriage, mounted a
platform before the church door, and explained the question which had
been disputed, and the decision of the council, to the assembled people.

The Normans, however, who had raised the opposition to the marriage,
and many of whom were secret adherents of Duke Robert, vented their
ill-humour in bitter railleries and jests. They gave Henry the nickname
of Godric, and his queen they called Godiva--names which were English,
and were applied in derision. It is related by an old historian that
Henry heard all these things, but that he dissembled his anger, and
pretended to laugh heartily at the jests.

Soon after his marriage the king commenced proceedings against several
of the most vicious of his brother's favourites, whom he despoiled of
their ill-gotten possessions, and either expelled from the country, or
threw promptly into prison. During the time he had been attached to his
brother's court, Henry had taken part in the debaucheries which prevailed
there; and it is probable that the punishment of his former associates
was dictated, not by any regard for the interests of virtue, but rather
from a deference to the wishes of the people; while, at the same time, he
was enabled to fill the royal coffers with the treasures of the banished
lords. Foremost among the proscribed was Randolf Flambard, the minister
of Rufus, who had been made Bishop of Durham, and had amassed large
possessions by extortion, and by selling justice. Flambard was seized and
thrown into the Tower, whence he effected his escape, by means of a rope
which was conveyed to him by some of his friends in a flagon of wine.
Having made his way to the coast, he crossed the Channel, and entered the
service of Robert of Normandy.

When Robert at length returned to his dukedom with his bride Sibylla,
he was received with acclamation by the inhabitants, and soon expressed
the intention of enforcing his claim to the crown of England; but, with
his accustomed procrastination, he took no immediate steps to that end,
but occupied his time with feasts and tournaments. When at length he was
aroused to enter upon the expedition he had planned, he was supported not
only by the resident Norman barons, but also by many of those who had
settled in England, and who agreed to join their forces to his standard.
Among these were the Earl of Surrey William de Warrenne, Robert de
Pontefract, Hugh de Grantmesnil, Robert de Malet, and Robert de Belesme,
Earl of Shrewsbury.

On the other hand, Henry was strong in the support of the English people,
and a party of the Norman nobility. Archbishop Anselm, with other
prelates, rendered the king important service, and secured to Henry
the support of the Pope. There is no doubt whatever that Anselm was a
conscientious man, and that if he adhered to the cause of the younger
brother, he did so from a sincere desire to establish the liberties of
the people, and from a conviction that the rule of Henry, who had pledged
himself to promote the welfare of his subjects, was preferable to that of
the weak and luxurious Duke of Normandy.

Henry fitted out a fleet for the purpose of intercepting the duke in his
voyage across the Channel; but the English sailors, from some cause which
has not been entirely explained, deserted from their allegiance, and
carried the ships over to the service of Robert.

p._ 152.)]

Robert landed with his army at Portsmouth (1101), and was immediately
joined by many barons and knights of Norman birth; the clergy, however,
and the populace remained faithful to the cause of the king. Several days
elapsed before the rival forces came within sight of each other; and in
the meanwhile some of the Norman barons acted as mediators between the
two brothers, and succeeded in arranging terms of peace. Robert agreed
to resign his claim to the crown of England for a yearly pension of two
thousand pounds of silver; and it was decided that the adherents of
either side should be pardoned, and that their possessions, confiscated
by the king or the duke, should be at once restored. A clause was also
added, to the effect that whichever of the two brothers might survive the
other, should succeed to his title and dominions. The effusion of blood
was thus stayed for the moment, and Robert returned with his army to
Normandy (1102).

[Illustration: MARRIAGE OF HENRY I. AND MATILDA. (_See p._ 155.)]

Finding himself securely in possession of the throne, Henry was disposed
to revoke some of the concessions which he had made to Anselm for the
purpose of securing the support of that prelate. The king demanded that
he should do homage for the archbishopric of Canterbury; and Anselm
having returned a decided refusal, a dispute arose which lasted over
several years. In the first instance, the question was referred to the
Pope, Pascal II., who decided that all ecclesiastics should enter the
Church without the authority of laymen, of however high degree. Henry
persisted in maintaining his prerogative, and required Anselm either
to do homage or once more to quit the kingdom. The archbishop remained
firm; and the king, who did not desire an open rupture with the Church,
sent three bishops to Rome to negotiate with the Pope. Anselm, at the
same time, sent two monks as messengers of his own. It is stated by
Eadmer, the biographer of Anselm, that the Pope had recourse to a strange
expedient to evade the difficulty in which he found himself. He refused
to communicate with the three bishops in writing, but informed them
verbally that he ceded the right of investiture to the king; while he
gave letters to the two monks, in which he supported the opposition of
Anselm, and desired him to continue that course of action.

On the return of the messengers to London, an assembly was convened, at
which they delivered the report of their journey. The word of the three
bishops was accepted by the king in preference to the written testimony
produced by the monks; and though the Pope affirmed that the evidence of
the bishops was false, and, moreover, excommunicated them as liars, Henry
stoutly pursued his own line of policy, and invested new bishops with the
sees of Hereford and Salisbury. Anselm obtained permission to proceed
himself to Rome for the purpose of terminating the dispute (1103).

The archbishop remained abroad several years, during which negotiations
were carried on. In 1106 a compromise was agreed to, by the terms of
which the more important parts of the investiture--the oaths of fealty
and homage--were retained by the king; while the Pope was content with
the merely symbolic presentation of the ring and crozier. Upon these
lines the question, which had long agitated Europe, was afterwards
settled at Worms between Calixtus II. and the Emperor Henry V.

After the return of Anselm, a number of canons were passed by a council
of the Church, enforcing upon the clergy the obligation of celibacy.
Lanfranc had previously exerted himself to promote this object, though
with only partial success; and Anselm now undertook to enforce the same
measures. Those priests who were married were commanded to separate from
their wives, whom they were never again to see, except in the presence of
witnesses. Any who should refuse compliance were to be excommunicated and
deposed from the order.

In the year 1109 Anselm died at the age of seventy-six. He was a man of
very great ability and erudition, the evidences of which may be found in
his writings, which are still extant. He exerted himself to establish
schools, and to promote the spread of knowledge throughout the country,
and the news of his death was received with general regret among the
people. He represented in saintliness, administrative powers, and
political foresight the highest ideals of mediæval Christendom.

The treaty which had been signed between Henry and Robert in no degree
affected the policy of the king, who showed himself as unscrupulous and
careless of his plighted faith as had been his brother Rufus. Determined
to punish those barons who had supported the Duke of Normandy, and
whose power and position rendered their disaffection a matter to be
dreaded, Henry took measures calculated to excite them to some overt act
of rebellion, which should enable him to proceed against them without
the shame of a direct violation of the treaty. The first who became the
object of attack was Robert de Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury, who held
large possessions in Normandy as well as in England. De Belesme was
summoned before the general assembly held in the king's palace, to answer
forty-five charges which were brought against him. On appearing before
the council, the earl, according to the custom of the time, demanded
leave to go and consult with his friends respecting his accusation and
the conduct of his defence. The permission having been granted, the earl
immediately quitted the court, took horse, and galloped off to one of his
fortified castles.

The king and the council having waited in vain for his answer to the
charges, made proclamation of outlawry against him, and declared him a
public enemy unless he returned and appeared before the court at its next
sitting. Robert de Belesme made no answer to the summons, but prepared
energetically for war, and collected large stores of provisions in
his castles of Arundel, Shrewsbury, and Tickhill. Bridgenorth, on the
frontier of Wales, was also strongly fortified.

Henry advanced against his rebellious vassal with an army, a great part
of which was composed of English troops, who marched with alacrity to
punish the proud Norman baron. After having obtained possession of the
castle of Arundel, Henry marched against Bridgenorth, where the earl had
entrenched himself. For several weeks the king besieged the town without
result, when some of the Norman barons undertook to arrange terms of
peace, as they had already done in the case of Robert of Normandy.

Many of the barons waited upon King Henry, and demanded a conference,
or _parlement_, for the purpose of preparing terms of peace. The plain
on which the assembly met was bounded by hills, on which were posted a
large body of English troops. These, who had been informed of the object
of the conference, called out loudly to the king, "Place no faith in
them, King Henry, they want to lay a snare for you: we will give thee
our assistance, and will follow thee to the assault. Make no peace with
the traitor until he falls into thy hands." The warning appears to have
produced its effect, and no reconciliation took place between the
belligerents. The fortress of Bridgenorth at length capitulated, and
the king's forces marched through a densely-wooded country to attack
the earl in his stronghold of Shrewsbury. A short interval elapsed,
and then this fortress also was taken; and Earl Robert, who was made a
prisoner was banished from the country, with the forfeiture of the whole
of his estates. Other nobles, who had adhered to the cause of Robert of
Normandy, were afterwards prosecuted, and met with a similar fate to that
of the Earl of Shrewsbury.

The English troops of Henry had long sought for an opportunity of
vengeance upon the oppressors of their country, and they might not
unreasonably feel elated at the victories they had obtained over the
Norman insurgents. It does not appear, however, that the nation at large
derived any benefit from the suppression of the rebellion. Although Henry
was bred in England, and had married an English wife, his sympathies were
not with the people whom he governed. The old historians tell us that the
good Queen Matilda used all the influence she possessed to advance the
happiness and secure the liberties of her countrymen; but her counsel and
entreaties do not seem to have produced any effect upon the conduct of
the king. The condition of the people soon after the marriage of Henry
with Matilda is thus described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:--"It is no
easy matter to relate all the miseries with which the land was at this
time afflicted, by unjust and continual exactions. Wherever the king
went, those in his train oppressed the people, and were guilty of murder
and incendiary fires in many places."

Alarmed for the safety of his adherents, Robert, without hesitation, came
over to England, accompanied only by a small escort, and placed himself
unreservedly in his brother's power for the purpose of pleading the cause
of the proscribed nobles.

At this time Robert resigned his pension of two thousand pounds.
According to some historians, he was detained by Henry as a prisoner, and
the pension was the price paid by the duke for his liberty; while another
account states that the sum was given as a present to the Queen Matilda.
It is, however, certain that Robert soon returned to Normandy without
having succeeded in the object of his visit.

The Duke of Normandy was ill-fitted to restrain the excesses of his
turbulent barons, or to hold with a firm hand the reins of government.
Many disorders sprang up in his duchy, and were left unnoticed or
unpunished by the sovereign. The fair Sibylla died in 1102, and since
that time the duke had resumed his irregular way of life, and had shown
more completely than ever his utter incapacity for the management of
public affairs.

King Henry took advantage of this state of things to interfere in the
disputes of the Norman barons; and, after appearing for a time in the
character of a mediator, he at length threw off the mask, and declared
himself the protector of the duchy against the maladministration of his
brother. He summoned Robert to give up possession of the duchy in return
for an annual payment of money. The duke indignantly refused to comply
with the demand, and Henry prepared to dispossess his brother by force.

In the year 1105 the king entered Normandy with an army, and captured
several castles and fortified places. Robert, however, was not without
means of defence; some few nobles of power and influence still remained
attached to his cause, and Henry returned to England, having added Caen
and Bayeux to his possessions.

A second campaign was opened in the following year, and Henry crossed the
Channel with a more formidable armament than before. He appeared before
Tenchebrai, an important stronghold, situated at a few leagues' distance
from Mortain. Having in vain attempted to corrupt the garrison with gold,
the king laid siege to the castle with his whole army. Messengers came
to Robert with the news that his troops were hard pressed by the enemy,
and the duke promised that, in defiance of every obstacle, he would come
on a certain day to their assistance. The promise was redeemed; and, at
the time appointed, the duke, with a small but gallant band of troops,
attacked the army of his brother. Placing himself at the head of his
knights he dashed in upon the English infantry, which gave way before him
in disorder. So impetuous was the charge, that the fortune of the day
seemed likely to be in favour of Robert, when the cowardice or treachery
of the Earl of Shrewsbury turned the tide of affairs. De Belesme, whose
troops formed an important division of the army of the duke, suddenly
fled from the field. A panic ensued among the Normans, and the brilliant
deeds of valour performed by their leader failed to restore their courage
or to secure the victory. After a desperate resistance, Robert was taken
prisoner, with many of the chief nobles who had fought under his banner.

Edgar Atheling, who was serving in the Norman army, also fell into the
hands of Henry. At the instance of the queen, his niece, a pension was
granted to him, and he is related to have passed the rest of his days on
a small farm in England, where he lived in obscurity, and no historian
has noted the time of his death or the place of his burial.

In 1106 a harder fate was reserved for the Duke of Normandy. He was
confined in Cardiff Castle, which stood near to that of Gloucester, and
had recently been conquered from the Welsh. At first some degree of
liberty was permitted to him, and he was allowed to take exercise among
the fields and woods of the neighbourhood. On one occasion, however, he
made an attempt to escape on horseback, but was pursued and taken in a
marsh, which he had attempted to cross in his flight. It is related by
some historians that, to prevent the possibility of another attempt of
the same kind, the king ordered his brother's sight to be destroyed by a
painful operation. In this miserable condition, with light and liberty
alike shut out, the once gay and gallant Duke of Normandy lingered on for
twenty-eight years, without quitting his prison. He died in 1135.

After the victory of Tenchebrai the whole of Normandy fell into the
hands of Henry. Rouen, the capital, submitted without resistance to the
conqueror, and the town of Falaise capitulated after a siege of short
duration. Among the prisoners taken at Falaise was William, the son of
Robert and Sibylla. Some feeling of pity seems to have entered the breast
of the king when his nephew, then a child of five years old, was brought
before him. He committed the prince to the care of Hélie de St. Saen, a
Norman nobleman of high character, who had married a natural daughter of
Robert. Soon afterwards, however, Henry attempted to secure the person of
his nephew, and sent a body of troops to the castle of St. Saen for that
purpose. Hélie, who feared some evil intention on the part of the king,
effected his escape, and carried his young charge to the court of Louis
VI., King of France. On the way Hélie passed some time at the courts of
the most powerful Norman barons, and at that of Fulk, Count of Anjou,
by whom, as well as by Louis, the prince was received with kindness and
protection. He was brought up in the palace of the French king, who, as
he grew up, presented him with horses and the harness of a knight, while
Fulk promised to give him his daughter Sibylla in marriage.

Louis, who dreaded the power of the King of England, saw the advantage
he might obtain by supporting the legitimate claims of William Clito,
or William of Normandy, as he was afterwards called. In the name of
the young prince, he entered into a league with the chiefs of some of
the neighbouring states, among whom was the Count of Flanders. Henry
was attacked at various points along the frontiers of Normandy, and
some of his fortresses and towns were taken. At the same time, many
Norman barons, who were secretly attached to the cause of Duke Robert,
engaged in a conspiracy against Henry. At length the king succeeded by
policy in dissolving the league against him. A treaty was signed, by
which the estates of Hélie de St. Saen were given to Fulk of Anjou, to
whose daughter, Matilda, Henry agreed to marry his own son, William. The
contract of marriage between Sibylla and the son of Robert was broken
off, and the cause of the latter was no longer to be supported by the
Count of Anjou. William of Normandy retired to the court of Baldwin,
Count of Flanders, who was one of the warmest supporters of his cause.

Having brought these negotiations satisfactorily to an end--for which
purpose he had spent two years in Normandy--Henry returned to England.
The sums expended by the king in procuring the submission of the friends
of William were obtained by heavy burdens and exactions from the people
of England. Each year is described as being attended with its peculiar
calamity, and in the year 1110 the sufferings of the people were heavy,
"caused by the failure of the crops and the taxes demanded by the king
for the dowry of his daughter."[25]

This daughter, who bore her mother's name of Matilda, was then only seven
years old. By the feudal laws the king was entitled to levy a tax on the
marriage of his eldest daughter, and Matilda was betrothed to Henry V.,
Emperor of Germany, who had sent ambassadors to demand her hand. The
nominal rank of the German emperor was high, but the country over which
he ruled was poor, and the prince himself not unfrequently kept state
with empty coffers. He demanded a large dowry, which, after some delay,
was seized rather than collected from the English people, and the young
princess was committed to the hands of the ambassadors, who conducted her
"with all honour" to Germany, where she was to receive her education.
Her embarkation was a splendid sight, and is described in glowing terms
by contemporary historians, but the people could not forget "how dear
all this had cost the English nation,"[26] and Matilda's unpopularity in
after years might in some degree be traced to the circumstances which
had attended her marriage.

[Illustration: DUKE ROBERT'S SON BEFORE KING HENRY. (_See p._ 160.)]

About the year 1111 the Welsh made incursions into the English counties
on their borders, and overran the whole of Cheshire, causing great
distress and damage to the inhabitants. Henry advanced against them,
and as they retreated before him he followed them to the fastnesses of
the mountains, defeating them whenever he could find an opportunity
of engaging them in battle. As had been the case with his father, the
Conqueror, and his brother Rufus, Henry found himself unable to subdue a
people whose home was among trackless mountains and dangerous morasses,
and he contented himself with building a chain of forts or castles a
little farther into the country than those erected by his predecessors.
He also brought over a number of Flemings, to whom he gave a district of
Pembrokeshire, with the town of Haverfordwest. These people were at once
industrious and warlike, and they maintained themselves in prosperity
in their new colony, in spite of repeated attacks made upon them by the

On May 1, 1118, Queen Matilda died, "with the sad reflection that she
had sacrificed herself for her race in vain."[27] Of this unhappy lady
the historians of the time record no acts which were not gentle and
womanly; and she appears to have merited the affection of the people,
and that title of "the Good" which they conferred upon her. For the
last twelve years of her life she was neglected by her husband, and
lived in the palace of Westminster, surrounded by the pomp and state of
royalty, but not the less friendless and alone. She passed much of her
time engaged in exercises of devotion, and it is related of her that her
chief recreation consisted in listening to the songs and the stories of
minstrels, whom the spirit of chivalry prompted to offer their tribute to
her virtues and misfortunes.

Meanwhile, a dangerous confederacy was forming on the Continent among
the adherents of William of Normandy. Henry had neglected, in almost
every instance, to perform the promises which he had made to the Norman
barons; and he had refused to conclude the match which had been agreed
upon between his son William and the daughter of Fulk, Count of Anjou.
Louis of France, who still extended his favour and support to the son
of Robert, entered into a league with Fulk of Anjou and Baldwin of
Flanders, for the purpose of wresting the dukedom of Normandy from the
possession of Henry. The first campaign was favourable to the arms of
the English king, who successfully defended his territory against the
attacks of the allies. Louis then determined to demand the assistance of
the ecclesiastical power. A council of the clergy was convoked at Rheims,
at which the Pope, Calixtus II., was present; and thither the King of
France carried the young prince, and presenting him to the council,
craved its assistance on his behalf. Louis addressed an eloquent speech
to the Pope, in which he dwelt upon the unjust and merciless character of
the King of England, who not only refused to his nephew those possessions
which belonged to him of right, but also retained his brother, the Duke
of Normandy, in solitary and endless imprisonment. Henry, who had been
apprised of the purpose of the council, sent costly presents to the Pope
and the clergy, and subsequently had an interview with Calixtus, at which
similar inducements were employed with success. The council looked coldly
on the suit of Louis, and refused him the assistance he demanded.

The friends of William of Normandy continued the war with vigour, and
Henry experienced several reverses. At the siege of Eu, Baldwin, Count
of Flanders, the most energetic and determined of the allies, was killed;
and finding himself thus freed from one formidable foe, Henry determined
to get rid of another by means which, on a former occasion, had proved
efficacious. He sent messengers to the Count of Anjou, proposing that
the marriage between his son and the count's daughter should take place
immediately; a bribe of money was also added. The count accepted the
terms, withdrew his forces from those of the King of France, and the
marriage was soon afterwards celebrated.

The cause of the allies now rapidly lost ground. The less powerful
barons, wearied with the ill success of their arms, or induced by
presents, which were distributed with a lavish hand by Henry, deserted
one after the other, until the French king was left to sustain the
struggle almost alone. During the desultory warfare which was carried
on between the opposing forces, an engagement took place which has been
honoured with the title of the battle of Brenneville, and which has been
cited as a curious example of the mode of warfare common at that time.

Louis having laid a scheme for surprising the town of Noyon, Henry
marched to the relief of the place, and encountered a portion of the
French army at Brenneville (1119). On the side of the French were four
hundred knights, while King Henry was attended by somewhat more than that
number. William of Normandy, at the head of a body of the French, made
a gallant charge upon his opponents, and penetrated through their ranks
to the place where Henry was standing. The English king was struck on
the head by Crispin, a Norman soldier, who had followed the fortunes of
William. Henry, however, was rather excited than injured by the blow,
and he struck his adversary to the ground, following up his advantage
with other feats of gallantry. By this means he encouraged his troops,
and after an obstinate conflict, the French were beaten off, with the
loss of their standard and one hundred and forty knights, who were
taken prisoners. The number of dead in this engagement amounted only to
two, or, as some say, to three knights. At this period the cavalry were
encased in heavy armour, which almost secured the wearers from blows of
sword or lance, while, according to the usages of chivalry, all knights,
on whichever side they fought, were regarded as one brotherhood, and the
object aimed at in battle was not to despatch an adversary, but to take
him prisoner. These circumstances account for the number of dead being
unusually small as compared with the number engaged; though in the battle
of Brenneville the proportion of the former seems to be less than in any
other engagement on record.

The battle of Brenneville was followed by a treaty of peace, which was
arranged by the intervention of the Pope Calixtus, between Louis and
Henry. By this treaty, the interests of William Fitz-Robert were entirely
set aside, and the whole of the duchy of Normandy was to remain in the
hands of Henry, whose son William was to render homage to Louis for the
possession of the duchy. By this means the King of England evaded the
declaring of himself a vassal of the King of France--an act which, as
Duke of Normandy, he was called upon to perform.

Henry carried his son William into Normandy, where he received his first
arms, and was acknowledged as King Henry's successor by the barons. He
also obtained the hand of the daughter of Fulk of Anjou. The bride was
a child of twelve years old, and the prince had but just passed his
eighteenth year. These various matters being accomplished, and peace
established on a tolerably secure footing, King Henry prepared to return
to England (1120).

The fleet was assembled at Barfleur, and at the moment when the king
was about to embark, a man named Thomas Fitz-Stephen advanced to speak
with him, and offering a mark of gold, said, "Stephen, the son of Erard,
my father, served all his life thy father by sea, and he steered the
vessel which carried the duke to the conquest of England. My lord the
king, I pray thee to appoint me to the same office. I have a ship called
_La Blanche Nef_,[28] which is well rigged and fully manned." The king
answered that, as regarded himself, the choice of a ship was already
made, but that he would entrust the petitioner with the care of his two
sons and his daughter, with the nobles and attendants of their train.
The vessel in which Henry embarked then set sail with a fair wind, and
reached the English coast in safety on the following morning. On board
the _Blanche Nef_ were the prince, his half-brother Richard, and their
sister the Lady Marie, or Adela, Countess of Perche, with other nobles
of England and Normandy, to the number of 140 persons, besides fifty
sailors. Before setting sail three casks of wine were distributed among
the crew by the prince's order; and several hours were spent carousing,
during which many of the crew drank themselves "out of their wits."
After nightfall, and when the moon had risen brightly, the vessel left
her moorings, and proceeded with a soft and favourable breeze along the
coast. Fifty skilful rowers propelled her on her way, and the helm was
held by Fitz-Stephen. The sailors, excited by wine, pulled stoutly, so as
to overtake the vessel of the king, when suddenly they found themselves
entangled among some rocks off Barfleur, then called the Ras de Catte,
and now known as the Ras de Catteville. The _Blanche Nef_ struck on one
of the rocks, and immediately began to fill. The cry of terror which
broke from the startled revellers passed through the calm night air,
and reached the king's ship at a distance of several miles. Those who
heard it, however, little suspected its meaning, and passed on their way
unconscious of the catastrophe which had taken place so near to them.

As the ship struck, the stout-hearted captain hastily lowered a boat,
and placing the prince with a few of his friends therein, entreated him
to make for the shore without delay. The devotion of Fitz-Stephen was,
however, without avail. William heard the screams of his sister Marie,
who had been left on board the vessel, and he commanded the boat to be
put back to save her. When the order was obeyed, the terrified passengers
threw themselves into the boat in such numbers that the frail bark was
immediately upset, and all who were in it perished. In a few moments
more the ship was also engulfed beneath the waters. The only trace which
remained of the wreck was the main-yard, to which two men clung with the
tenacity of despair; one of these was a butcher of Rouen, named Berauld,
and the other a young man of higher birth, named Godfrey, the son of
Gilbert de l'Aigle.

Fitz-Stephen, the captain, after falling into the water, rose to the
surface, and swam towards the two men who were clinging to the spar.
"The king's son!" he cried, "what has become of him?" "We have seen
nothing of him," was the reply; "neither he nor any of his companions
have appeared above water." "Woe is me!" the captain exclaimed, and sank
to rise no more. It was in the month of November, and the coldness of
the water fast numbed the limbs of the younger of the two survivors, who
at length let go his hold, and committing his companion to the mercy of
Heaven, disappeared beneath the waves. Berauld, the butcher, the poorest
of all those who had set sail in the _Blanche Nef_, was the only one who
survived to tell the story of the shipwreck. Wrapped in his sheepskin
coat, he supported himself until daybreak, when he was seen by some
fishermen, who rescued him from his perilous situation. This occurred on
the 26th of November, 1120.

[Illustration: SHIPWRECK OF PRINCE WILLIAM. (_See p._ 163.)]

The news reached England on the following day, but no man dared tell the
king of his bereavement. At length the courtiers tutored the young son of
Count Theobald of Blois, who was sent in to the king, and, falling at his
feet, told him of the loss of the _Blanche Nef_, with all on board. Henry
is said to have fainted at the news, and the historians agree in dwelling
upon the grief he felt--a grief so rooted that he was never afterwards
seen to smile.

The English people appear to have regarded the shipwreck as a judgment
of Heaven upon the vices of the prince and the cruelties of his father.
This view was strengthened by the circumstance that the disaster took
place, not in a storm, but on a calm sea and under a tranquil sky. The
character of Prince William is represented by the chroniclers as that
of a tyrannical and licentious youth. He is said to have detested the
people from whom his own mother was descended, and to have declared that
when he became king he would bend the necks of the English to the plough,
and treat them like beasts of burden. "The proud youth!" says Henry of
Huntingdon, a contemporary writer; "he was anticipating his future reign;
but God said, 'Not so, thou impious one; it shall not be.' And thus it
happened that his brow, instead of being encircled with a crown of gold,
was dashed against the rocks of the ocean." It is possible, however, that
the historians gave too much importance to the light words of a heedless
youth, and we may well be cautious in covering with infamy the name of
one of whose life the last and best authenticated act at least was noble
and generous.

On the death of Prince William, the Count of Anjou sent messengers to
Henry, demanding back his daughter Matilda, together with the dowry which
had been given to the king on her marriage. Henry willingly consented to
the return of the princess to her father, but refused to give up any part
of the money. Fulk was thus furnished with a pretext for renewing his
former connection with William of Normandy, on whose future prospects
the death of his cousin might exercise considerable influence. The son of
Duke Robert was placed by Fulk in possession of the earldom of Le Mans,
and was again betrothed to Sibylla, the younger daughter of the Count
Henry, who was apprised of these proceedings, passed over into Normandy,
and after a year of desultory warfare, made prisoners of several of the
Norman barons, and detached Fulk of Anjou once more from the cause of

[Illustration: HENRY I.]

In 1126 Henry's daughter Matilda became a widow, by the death of her
husband, Henry V. of Germany, and the king then determined to appoint
her his successor to the throne of England and the dukedom of Normandy.
The native English, as well as the Normans, were altogether opposed to a
scheme whose object was to place them under the government of a woman.
The power of Henry was, however, so firmly established that the barons
who murmured in secret did not dare openly to resist his will. Those
among them who had the greatest influence were conciliated by grants of
land; the assistance of the clergy was already secured; and on Christmas
Day, 1126, a general assembly of the nobles and higher ecclesiastics of
the kingdom was convened at Windsor Castle for the purpose of declaring
the Empress Matilda (as she was still called) the legitimate successor
to the throne. The clergy and the Norman barons of both countries
unanimously swore allegiance to her, in the event of the king's death.
Several disputes as to precedence took place on the occasion, and one of
these was remarkable as having an importance beyond the mere question of
court etiquette. Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who was an illegitimate son
of the king, demanded to take the oath before Stephen, Count of Blois,
who was the son of Adela, daughter of the Conqueror, and therefore nephew
to Henry. It is probable that both of these men aspired to the throne,
and that, while in the act of taking vows which they had no intention of
performing, each was anxious to have his rank and standing determined.
The legitimate birth of Stephen prevailed over the nearer relationship of
Robert, and the Count of Boulogne first took the oaths to maintain the
succession of Matilda.

In the same year (1126) Fulk, Count of Anjou, departed for the Holy
Land, having first placed the government of his country in the hands
of his son Geoffrey, surnamed Plante Genest, or Plantagenet, from his
custom of wearing on his helmet a sprig of yellow broom instead of a
feather. The young Count of Anjou is described as possessing elegant and
courtly manners, a noble person, and a reputation for gallantry in the
field. These qualities recommended him to the favour of King Henry, who
personally invested him with the order of knighthood. The ceremony took
place at Rouen with great pomp, and the king, according to the custom of
chivalry, presented his son-in-arms with a horse and a splendid suit of

The English king had frequently had cause to dread the opposition of the
House of Anjou, and therefore he was induced, not less by motives of
policy than by his regard for Geoffrey, to form an alliance with that
powerful family. He determined that his daughter Matilda should wed the
Count of Anjou. The marriage was concluded without the knowledge of the
barons, who afterwards declared their disapproval of it, and many of them
made it a pretext for breaking the oath of allegiance which they had
taken to the ex-empress.

The marriage was celebrated in Rouen on August 26, 1127, and the
festival, which was marked with all the splendour which the wealth of
Henry could command, was prolonged during three weeks. On the first day
heralds went about the streets, commanding in the king's name that all
men whatsoever should take part in the festivities, and that any man
neglecting to make merry on the joyful occasion should be considered
guilty of an offence against the king.

Meanwhile, William of Normandy had obtained a position of power and
influence which gave Henry much uneasiness. When Fulk of Anjou abandoned
his connection with the son of Robert, the cause of the latter was still
upheld by Louis, King of France. Charles the Good, Count of Flanders, the
successor of Baldwin, was murdered by his own people while attending a
service of the church in Bruges, and Louis gave that county to William.
The Flemings, who at first received their new earl without opposition,
broke out into revolt after the departure of the French king, and
sent to ask the support of Henry. William, however, was not without
supporters, and his personal gallantry, joined to high military talents,
gave him the victory over the insurgents in various encounters. His
career, however, was destined to be short; in an engagement under the
walls of Alost, in which he completely defeated his opponents, the son of
Robert received a wound on the head, which proved fatal within a few days
afterwards. He died on the 27th of July, 1128, at the age of twenty-six.

Henry was thus relieved from any dread of the pretensions of his nephew,
and he passed over into Normandy. In 1133 Matilda gave birth to a son,
who was named Henry, and who afterwards reigned in England with the title
of Henry II. Subsequently two other sons, named Geoffrey and William,
were the fruit of this marriage. On the birth of his grandson, the king
again endeavoured to secure to his race the succession to the throne
by causing the barons once more to swear fealty to Matilda and to her
children. During Henry's stay in Normandy, various quarrels took place
between the ex-empress and her husband, and the king had great difficulty
in keeping the peace between them. It would appear that Matilda seized
every opportunity of prejudicing her father against her husband, who was
exasperated at the king's refusal to place him in immediate possession of

The last years of Henry's life were embittered by these dissensions in
his family, and his health rapidly declined. In the year 1135 he received
news of an incursion of the Welsh, and while preparations were making
for his return to England he was seized with a sudden illness. Having
passed a day in hunting at Lions-la-Forêt, in Normandy, he supped late
in the evening upon a dish of lampreys, of which he was remarkably fond.
An indigestion, which resulted in a fever, was the consequence of this
indulgence, and three days afterwards he expired (December 1, 1135).
His body was afterwards conveyed to Reading Abbey, which he had himself
founded, and was there buried.

In spite of the misery endured by the English during this reign, their
condition was better than it would have been had a weak king been at the
head of affairs. As far as in him lay, Henry maintained order throughout
the kingdom. He could do but little to ameliorate the evils of famine,
pestilence, and floods; but he could, and did, check the exactions and
cruelties of the barons, whether lay or ecclesiastical; he put a stop to
the excessive contributions in kind levied by the followers of the court
under the name of _purveyance_. Although the people suffered fearfully
from taxation, they were better off than if they had been subject to
the extortions of every petty landowner. The issuers of false coin were
hanged without mercy, and all crimes of violence were punished with equal
severity. "He made peace," says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "for man and
beast. Whoso bare his burden of gold and silver, no man durst do him
aught but good."

In order to carry out the maintenance of order, Henry strengthened the
administrative machinery throughout the kingdoms. The best features
in the old English system had been the local assemblies, which were
remarkably representative, and did their work efficiently. These
institutions, which had been allowed to lapse into decay, Henry
restored in their integrity, and renewed at the same time the system of
_Frank-pledge_, or mutual responsibility. But he was not content with
mere restoration; it was necessary that the local courts should keep in
touch with a powerful central authority, otherwise they would undoubtedly
be too weak to withstand the courts of the land-owning nobility. He
therefore organised his ordinary council into a great court, which
became known as the _Curia Regis_, or king's court. It was composed of
a selection of barons, the chief officers of the royal household, and
those who were best qualified for judicial matters. Its president was
the _Justiciar_, who was the king's representative. The business of the
court was twofold--financial and judicial. When employed in financial
business the court sat in the exchequer chamber--so called because its
table was covered with a cloth resembling a chess-board--and was spoken
of as the court of the barons of the exchequer. The organisation of this
court was the great work of Roger of Salisbury. From it proceeded men who
were sent to traverse the country, first in the capacity of officers of
finance, afterwards as officers of justice. These judicial visitations
were developed by Henry II. into a permanent part of the system of the



     Stephen of Blois--Arrival in England--His Coronation--Pope
     Innocent's Letter--Claims of Matilda--The Earl of Gloucester's
     Policy--Revolt of the Barons--The King of Scotland Invades
     England--The Battle of Northallerton--Outrage on the Bishops of
     Salisbury, Lincoln, and Ely--The Synod of Winchester--Landing
     of the Empress Matilda--Outbreak of Civil War--Battle at
     Lincoln--Defeat and Capture of Stephen--Matilda's Arrogant
     Behaviour--Rising of the Londoners and Flight of Matilda--London
     Re-occupied by the King's Adherents--Matilda Besieged in
     Winchester--Exchange of the Earl of Gloucester for the
     King--Stephen Resumes the Crown--Reign of Terror--Siege of
     Oxford--Flight of Matilda--Desultory Warfare--Death of the
     Earl of Gloucester--Stephen's Quarrel with the Church--The
     Interdict Removed--Further Dangers from Normandy--Divorce of
     Eleanor--Her Marriage with Prince Henry--Landing of Henry
     in England--Unpopularity of the War--Violence and Death of
     Eustace--Treaty Arranged between Henry and the King--Death of

The exertions made by Henry to preserve to his daughter the succession to
the throne proved altogether fruitless, and those solemn vows which he
had exacted from the barons, and with which he had endeavoured to fence
about the cause of Matilda, were of no avail. No sooner did the news of
the king's death reach Stephen of Blois than he instantly took measures
for seizing upon the English crown. Allusion has already been made to
this ambitious noble, who, on taking the oaths of fealty to Matilda, had
caused himself to be recognised as the first prince of the blood.

Stephen, Count of Blois, to whom William the Conqueror gave his daughter
Adela in marriage, had several sons. Two of these, Henry and Stephen,
had been invited to England by the late king, who had bestowed great
favour and preferment upon them. Henry, cruel towards his enemies, was
a firm and generous friend to those who happened to obtain his goodwill.
Young Henry, who had been educated for the Church, was made Abbot of
Glastonbury, and subsequently appointed to the see of Winchester. Stephen
received the hand of Maud, daughter and heiress of Eustace, the Count
of Boulogne. The connection was in the highest degree advantageous to
Stephen. Immense estates in England, as well as the earldom of Boulogne,
came to him in right of his wife, who moreover possessed a hold upon the
sympathies of the English in consequence of her descent. Mary, his wife's
mother, was the sister of David, King of Scotland, and of Matilda the
Good, first wife of Henry I. and mother of the empress.

[Illustration: STEPHEN.]

At the time of the dispute with Robert of Gloucester on the subject of
precedence, Stephen professed that his gratitude to the king impelled him
to be the first to offer allegiance to Matilda; but his whole course of
action at this period shows that his designs upon the English crown were
fully matured. He exerted himself to attain popularity among the people,
as well as among the barons. His daring and gallantry secured him the
admiration of the Normans, while his affable and familiar manners, joined
to a generosity without stint, obtained the affections of the people.

On the death of Henry, Stephen landed in England before the news could
reach Matilda; and though the gates of Dover and Canterbury were shut
against him, he passed on without hesitation to London, where a majority
of the people saluted him king with acclamations. By the assistance of
his brother, the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen obtained possession of
the royal treasure in that city, amounting to £100,000 in money, besides
considerable stores of plate and jewels. The next step was to secure the
goodwill and co-operation of the clergy; and in this respect his brother,
the bishop, again rendered aid. Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, chief
functionary of the kingdom, was secured by bribes and promises, and these
two ecclesiastics endeavoured to prevail upon William, Archbishop of
Canterbury, to administer the royal unction to the usurper. The primate,
who was a conscientious man, refused consent, and a dishonourable
expedient was then resorted to to overcome his opposition. Hugh Bigod,
steward of the royal household, presented himself before the archbishop,
and swore that King Henry, on his death-bed, had disinherited his
daughter Matilda, who had offended him, and that he had appointed his
nephew Stephen to succeed him as the inheritor of his kingdom.

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF STEPHEN.]

These oaths--common in the Middle Ages, and of little real security when
opposed to personal interests--were nevertheless regarded nominally as
of considerable weight; and a pretext, therefore, was necessary for
absolving the clergy and the barons from their vows of allegiance to
Matilda. This was supplied by Roger of Salisbury, who declared that those
vows were null and void, because the empress had been married out of the
country without the consent of the lords, who had expressly stipulated
that their opinion should be consulted in the disposal of the hand of
their future queen.

The several obstacles being thus overcome or set aside, the Archbishop of
Canterbury crowned Stephen (December 26, 1135) at Westminster. Very few
nobles attended the ceremony, but there was no show of opposition. The
first act of the new king was to proceed to Reading to attend the burial
of his uncle, and from thence he passed on to Oxford, where he held
court, and summoned thither a council of the prelates and clergy of the
kingdom, whom he required to swear allegiance to him. He permitted the
clergy to annex to their oaths an important condition, to the effect that
they swore to support his government only so long as he should maintain
the rights and liberties of the Church. The barons also obtained the
right of fortifying castles upon their estates.

These concessions to the Church secured the favour of the Pope, Innocent
II., who soon afterwards sent letters to Stephen, confirming his title
to the throne. The words of the Pontiff were as follows:--"We have heard
that thou hast been chosen by the common voice and will of the people and
of the lords, and that thou hast received a blessing from the ministers
of the Church. Considering that the choice of so large a number of men
must have been directed by Divine grace, and that, moreover, thou art
closely related to the deceased king, we are well pleased with the course
taken in thy behalf; and we receive thee with paternal affection as a son
of the blessed Apostle Peter, and of the holy Roman Church."

Still further to secure his position, Stephen passed a charter closely
resembling that issued under similar circumstances by his predecessor.
He endeavoured to conciliate all the estates of the realm: to the clergy
he promised that vacant benefices should immediately be filled up, and
that their revenues should in no case be applied to the purposes of the
crown; to the nobility he pledged his word that the royal forests, which
Henry had appropriated to himself, should be restored to their ancient
boundaries; and to the people he engaged to remit the tax of Danegeld,
and to restore the laws of King Edward. Stephen also made lavish gifts
of money and lands to those about him, and during the first year of his
reign the land rejoiced once more in plenty and prosperity.

Matilda and her husband Geoffrey experienced no better fortune in
Normandy than in England. The Norman nobility were influenced by the
same reasons as formerly, in desiring a continuance of their union with
the crown of England; while, at the same time, an hereditary animosity
existed between them and the people of Anjou. When Geoffrey Plantagenet
entered Normandy for the purpose of enforcing the rights of his wife
Matilda, the Normans applied for assistance to Theobald of Blois, eldest
brother of Stephen (1136). As soon as Stephen obtained possession of
the English throne, they transferred their allegiance to him, and put
him in possession of the government of the duchy. The homage which, as
feudal sovereign, was due to Louis VII., King of France, he accepted from
Eustace, Stephen's eldest son, instead of from the English king himself;
and Louis also betrothed his sister Constantia to the young prince. The
Count of Blois consented to resign his claim for a yearly pension of
2,000 marks, and Geoffrey of Anjou was compelled to conclude a truce of
two years with Stephen, receiving also a pension of 5,000 marks.

Robert of Gloucester, the natural son of Henry, entertained the strongest
feelings of hostility to Stephen. He appears, however, to have directed
his efforts against the usurper rather in support of the claims of his
sister Matilda, than of any pretensions of his own. On the elevation of
Stephen to the throne, Robert found it necessary to take the oath of
allegiance, since a refusal to do so would have resulted in the loss of
his estates in England, and of that power which he proposed to use in
his sister's behalf. He therefore offered to do homage on condition that
the king fulfilled all his promises, and never invaded any of the rights
of Robert. Thus a pretext was afforded for revolt at any moment, and the
Earl of Gloucester, who was a man of considerable abilities and military
reputation, occupied himself in promoting a spirit of disaffection among
the nobles. The right which the English barons had obtained of erecting
fortified castles was exercised to the utmost. Strong fortresses rapidly
arose in all parts of the kingdom, and were garrisoned with licentious
soldiery, native and foreign.

In proportion as the privileges of the nobles were extended, the
condition of the people became once more one of oppression and misery.
Petty wars broke out among the rival barons, who made incursions into
each others' territories, and practised unbounded rapine on the towns and
villages. Some of the more powerful chiefs declared that the promises
made to them by Stephen on his accession had not been fulfilled; and they
seized various parts of the royal estates, which they asserted were their
due. Among these was Hugh Bigod, whose act of perjury had secured the
coronation of Stephen, and who now revolted openly against the king, and
took possession of Norwich Castle.

The insurgents had not yet learned to act in concert, and Stephen soon
recovered the estates which had been seized. The spirit of sedition,
however, was not repressed; new disturbances were continually taking
place, and the country remained in a state of anarchy.

In the year 1137, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, having organised an
extensive confederacy, quitted his estates, and having crossed the
Channel, sent to the king a formal letter of defiance. Other great
barons also, on the ground that the promises made to them had not been
fulfilled, renounced their homage, and retired to their strongholds. A
desultory warfare took place between the king and his disaffected nobles.

In March, 1138, David, King of Scotland, crossed the Tweed at the head
of an army which he had collected from every part of his kingdom, to
defend the title of his niece, Matilda. The chroniclers describe the
Scottish army as a barbarous multitude, many of whom, gathered from the
recesses of the Highlands, were fierce and untutored, half clad, and with
only the rudest weapons of war. This undisciplined host passed through
Northumberland into Yorkshire, devastating the country, and committing
unheard of barbarities upon the miserable inhabitants. It is related
of them that they behaved after the manner of wild beasts, slaying all
who came in their way, sparing neither old age in its helplessness, nor
beauty in its spring, nor the infant in the womb.

The fury of these massacres exasperated the northern nobility, who might
otherwise have been disposed to join the King of Scotland. Thurstan,
Archbishop of York, an aged man, seemed to derive new youth from the
crisis which demanded the exertion of his energies. He shook off the
weight of years and, organising an army, he earnestly exhorted the
barons and the soldiers to defend their countrymen from the ravages
of the invaders. William, Earl of Albemarle, Roger Mowbray, Robert
de Ferrers, William Piercy, Walter L'Espec, and others of their
compeers, assembled their troops, and encamped at Elfer-tun, now called
Northallerton, about half-way between York and Durham, and there awaited
the arrival of the enemy. The advance of the Scots had been so rapid that
Stephen, who was occupied with repressing the rebellion in the south, had
no time to reach the scene of action.

The Scottish army, the first division of which was led by Prince Henry,
son of David, crossed the Tees in several divisions, bearing as a
standard a lance, to which was fixed a bunch of "blooming heather." They
did not form, as was the case with more disciplined armies, distinct
bodies of horse and foot, but each man brought to the field of battle
such arms as he could obtain. With the exception of the French or Norman
knights, whom the King of Scotland brought with him, and who were armed
_cap-à-pie_ with complete suits of mail, the mass of his soldiers
displayed a disorderly equipment. The men of Galloway and other parts of
the west wore no defensive armour, and bore long sharp pikes or javelins
as their only weapon. The inhabitants of the lowlands, who formed the
chief part of the infantry, were armed with spears and breastplates;
while the Highlanders, who wore a bonnet adorned with plumes, and a plaid
cloak fastened at the waist by a leathern belt, appeared in the fight
with a small wooden shield on the left arm, while in the right hand they
bore the claymore or broadsword. The chiefs wore the same armour as their
soldiers, from whom they were distinguished only by the length of their

The Anglo-Norman barons, anxious to invoke on their behalf the ancient
superstitions of the English, caused the banners of St. Peter of York,
St. John of Beverley, and St. Wilfrid of Ripon, to be brought from the
churches in which they had remained since the time of the Conqueror, and
erected them in the midst of the camp. The mast of a ship was set up in
a car with four wheels; at the top of the mast was fixed a crucifix,
attached to which was a silver box, containing the sacramental wafer, or
eucharist, and round it were hung the banners of the three English saints.

This standard, from which the battle has taken its name, was erected in
the centre of the position. The knights of the English army were ranged
beside it, having first sworn to remain united, and to defend the
sacred symbol to the death. The Archbishop of York, who was prevented by
illness from appearing in the field, sent a representative in the person
of Ranulph, Bishop of Durham, who, as the Scots were heard approaching,
placed himself at the foot of the standard and read the prayer of
absolution, the whole army kneeling before him. The attack was made by
the men of Galloway, who rushed impetuously on the English infantry
and broke their ranks; the cavalry, however, remained firm round their
standard, and repulsed the charges of the Scots with great slaughter.
Meanwhile the bowmen of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire rallied from their
confusion, and poured in flights of arrows upon the enemy, while the
Norman knights, protected by their heavy armour, were receiving the
attacks of the brave but undisciplined natives of the north. The Scots
maintained the contest for two hours, but at length they were thrown
into confusion by a charge of the Norman cavalry, and were compelled to
retreat as far as the Tyne. At the battle of Northallerton, which was
fought on the 22nd of August, 1138, the loss of the Scots is stated to
have been 12,000 men.

Three days after this defeat, the King of Scotland arrived at Carlisle,
where he rallied his scattered forces, and subsequently laid siege to
Wark Castle, which fell into his hands. Notwithstanding the result of the
Battle of the Standard, the counties of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and
Northumberland remained for many years free from Norman dominion, and
attached to the kingdom of Scotland.

Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the story of whose elevation to the favour
of Henry I. has been already related, was at this time possessed of vast
wealth and influence in the kingdom. He was a munificent patron of the
arts, and expended large sums in the erection of magnificent churches and
other public works. Architects, artists, and men of letters were secure
of his favour, and the wealth, which was often obtained by not the most
honest means, was at least bestowed in a manner beneficial to the age in
which he lived. Roger had rendered good service to Stephen at the time of
his accession to the throne, and the king had rewarded him with repeated
and valuable gifts. It would appear, however, that these possessions were
heaped upon the bishop, less for his own use than with the view of being
available for the royal purposes whenever the king might choose to seize
upon them.

The nobles of the court had not witnessed without envy the increasing
power and magnificence of the Bishop of Salisbury; and at the time when
Stephen was menaced by an invasion from the Continent they circulated a
report that the bishop was in league with the conspirators. The king,
who wanted money, was glad of a pretext for seizing the possessions of
Roger, and ordered him to be arrested, together with his two nephews,
Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, and Nigel, Bishop of Ely. Nigel made his
escape, and took refuge in the castle of Devizes, but Roger and Alexander
were captured, and confined in separate dungeons. A quarrel which had
previously taken place between some of the bishop's retainers and those
of the Count of Brittany formed the ground of the chief accusation, which
was that the bishops had violated the peace of the king within the limits
of his court. Stephen demanded the surrender of all their castles as an
atonement for the offence; and, after considerable opposition on the part
of the two bishops, the demand was generally complied with. The Bishop
of Ely, however, still refused to surrender the castle of Devizes; and
Stephen commanded that Roger and the Bishop of Lincoln should receive no
food until the castle was given up. By the king's order Roger appeared,
wasted with fasting, before the gates of Devizes, and implored his nephew
to surrender, and after a delay of three days the Bishop of Ely at length
yielded, to save the lives of his relatives.

These proceedings excited the utmost indignation among the prelates and
clergy of the kingdom, and Henry, Bishop of Winchester, who had been
appointed legate of the Pope, cited his brother, the king, to appear
before an ecclesiastical synod at Winchester to answer for his conduct.
Alberic de Vere attended before the council as the substitute of Stephen,
and the bishops having persisted in demanding reparation for the insult
to the Church, De Vere appealed in the king's name to the Pope, and,
drawing his sword, declared the assembly to be dissolved. A series of
disasters, which soon after endangered the life and crown of Stephen,
were, in a great measure, to be referred to this determined opposition
to the clergy. The synod at Winchester was held in September 1139, and
three months afterwards, Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, died at an advanced
age, his end having probably been accelerated by the mortifications he
had suffered.

On the 22nd of September, in the same year, the Empress Matilda landed
in England, accompanied by Robert, Earl of Gloucester. The latter
immediately proceeded with a small escort to the castle of Bristol, where
he occupied himself in collecting his followers. Matilda joined him
after a short stay in Arundel Castle.

Civil war now raged throughout the country. The Norman race in England
was immediately split up into two factions, and each man looked with
distrust upon his neighbour, uncertain whether to regard him as a friend
or an enemy. Many of the barons of the west and north declared for
Matilda, and recalled the oaths they had taken to Stephen; while many
of the more rapacious lords, to whom the public good was a matter of
no concern, kept aloof from both parties, and occupied themselves with
seizing the property of farmers and citizens. The chronicles of the time
are filled with accounts of the atrocities which were committed at this
period throughout the length and breadth of the land, which was desolated
in every direction by violence and rapine.


Stephen having failed in an attempt to take the town of Bristol, which
was strongly fortified, turned his forces to the east, where a formidable
insurrection had broken out, headed by the Bishop of Ely. On the very
spot where Hereward, the Saxon, had erected his fort of wood, a camp was
formed by the Norman adherents of Matilda, who entrenched themselves
behind ramparts of stone and wood. Stephen conducted his attack in the
same manner as had been done by William the Conqueror. He built bridges
of boats, by which his soldiers passed over, and put to flight the troops
of Nigel.

The bishop fled to Gloucester, where Matilda had assembled the greater
number of her adherents. During the absence of Stephen in the east, the
flames of revolt were raging throughout the west, and churches as well
as castles were fortified by the insurgents for the purposes of defence.
The bishops are said not to have scrupled to take part in these military
operations: they were seen, as in the time of the Conqueror, mounted on
chargers, and clad in suits of mail, bearing a lance or a truncheon in
their hands, directing the attacks of the soldiers, and drawing lots for
a share of the booty.

(_See p._ 174.)]

In 1141 Stephen displayed the utmost activity in marching against his
enemies. After having crossed and recrossed the country, he appeared
before the castle of Lincoln, which was in the hands of the adherents of
Matilda. The townspeople, however, favoured the king's cause, and, in
opposition to the garrison, assisted him to lay siege to the fortress.
Meanwhile the Earl of Gloucester had collected an army of 10,000 men,
and in the hope of effecting a surprise, marched rapidly to Lincoln, and
appeared before the besieging troops. Stephen, however, had been apprised
of his coming, and having drawn up his forces in battle array, placed
himself at their head. The contest was unequal; most of the royal cavalry
deserted to the enemy, and many of the other troops wavered in their
allegiance. In such a case defeat was inevitable. Stephen fought with
valour, but after having broken his sword and battle-axe, he was made
prisoner by the Earl of Gloucester.

This defeat was disastrous to the royal cause. Many of the Norman nobles
and of the clergy, among whom was Henry of Winchester, the king's own
brother, gave in their adhesion to the cause of Matilda. The support of
the bishop is said to have been gained by a promise on the part of the
empress that he should be placed in the position of her chief minister,
and should have the disposal of all the vacant benefices of the Church.
On the day after this bargain was concluded, the granddaughter of the
Conqueror made her triumphal entry into Winchester. She was received at
the gates by Bishop Henry, at the head of the clergy, who conducted her
to the cathedral; and the brother of Stephen pronounced a blessing upon
all who should follow her cause, and a curse on those who should oppose

Having taken possession of the royal treasure which remained at
Winchester, Matilda, after some delay, proceeded to London, where she
arrived at midsummer. She was of English descent, and the unhappy
citizens, ground down by taxation, hoped to obtain from her some release
of the burdens with which they were oppressed. But Matilda's good
fortune soon rendered her disdainful and arrogant; and it is said by an
old historian that when those men to whom she owed her elevation bowed
down before her, she did not rise from her throne, and their requests
were frequently met by a refusal. It is, therefore, scarcely matter for
surprise that, when the citizens of London entreated her to take pity on
them, she answered with a frown, and one of her first acts was to impose
a heavy tax, or tallage, in addition to the burdens with which they
were already afflicted. The empress seems to have possessed a malignant
nature, which found vent in injuries inflicted equally on friends and
enemies. Henry of Winchester, who may have felt some compunction at the
part he had acted towards his brother, desired that his nephew Eustace,
the son of Stephen, might be put in possession of his hereditary foreign
rights. Matilda, instead of trying to make a compact, replied to the
request with an insulting denial. Many other acts of arrogance, as
impolitic in a queen as they were disgraceful in a woman, were exhibited
towards her best friends; and when Maud, the wife of Stephen, who was
Matilda's own cousin, appeared in her presence and begged that her
husband might be restored to liberty, the empress drove the sorrowing
wife away in tears.

Matilda was making ready for her coronation in perfect security, when a
rising of the people, as sudden as it was unanimous, resulted in driving
her from London in the utmost haste, and without even so much as a change
of raiment. An alarm sounded from all the steeples of the city, and
immediately every street was filled with an excited multitude of people.
From the doors of every house men came forth, armed with such weapons
as they could procure. The empress and her Angevins (that is, people of
Anjou), startled by the suddenness of the attack, and not daring to risk
a conflict where the numbers were so greatly against them, and which
would have to be carried on in narrow streets, where every advantage
would be on the side of their enemies--made no resistance, but hastily
seized horses and galloped off at full speed. Matilda had scarcely
quitted the town, when the enraged populace forced their way into her
apartments, and seized or destroyed whatever they found there.

As the ex-empress sped on her way, the barons and knights who accompanied
her one by one detached themselves from the escort, and, consulting their
own safety, fled across the country or along cross-roads towards their
strongholds. She arrived at Oxford with the Earl of Gloucester and a
few followers, whom motives of policy, or a regard for their knightly
honour, still held attached to her fortunes. The citizens of London
attempted no pursuit of the fugitives. Their revolt appears to have been
a sudden outbreak of popular indignation rather than the result of any
preconcerted arrangement, and was not followed by any further measures
of a similar kind. The Norman adherents of King Stephen soon afterwards
re-entered London, and having obtained the consent of the citizens, by
the promise of an alliance with them, garrisoned the city with troops.
The only privileges obtained by the citizens in consequence of the
insurrection were the permission of enlistment to the number of one
thousand men, and of fighting in the cause of the king, wearing a helmet
and hauberk. Queen Maud, the wife of Stephen, proceeded to London, and
there held court. She was a woman of gentle and amiable character; but
her lot was cast in evil times, and she displayed the energy and courage
of a man in her efforts to obtain her husband's liberation.

The Bishop of Winchester, whom Matilda, in her short day of power,
had so grievously offended, no sooner perceived the tide of fortune
turning against the empress, than he deserted her cause, and once more
declared himself in favour of his brother. He hoisted the banner of
Stephen on the walls of Winchester Castle, and on his palace, which had
been fortified with all the engineering skill of the age. Other castles
within his diocese, including those of Waltham and Farnham, were strongly
garrisoned. An interview took place at Guildford between the bishop and
his sister-in-law, Queen Maud, whose entreaties probably removed any
hesitation he might feel as to his course of action.

Matilda, having become aware of these transactions, sent the bishop a
haughty message to appear immediately in her presence. The prelate sent
back the messenger with the answer that he was "making himself ready for
her"--an expression which had a double meaning. Matilda marched with her
followers to Winchester; but the bishop, leaving his palace defended by
a strong garrison, quitted the town as she entered it, and proceeded to
place himself at the head of his vassals, and of the knights who had
agreed to fight under his standard. The castle of Winchester was given up
to Matilda, and she summoned around her those barons who still adhered to
her cause. Among these were Robert of Gloucester, the Earl of Chester,
the Earl of Hereford, and David, King of Scotland, uncle to the empress.

The troops under these leaders laid siege to the episcopal palace, which
stood in the heart of the city. The bishop's garrison having set fire
to the adjoining houses, which might have served as places of defence
to the assailants, retired into their fortress, and waited for succour.
Meanwhile the Bishop of Winchester had received an accession of strength
from the troops of Queen Maud, among whom were the citizens of London,
to the number, as already mentioned, of one thousand. Marching rapidly
to Winchester, the bishop surprised the troops of the empress, who were
compelled to entrench themselves in the churches, while Matilda herself,
with her chief nobles, took refuge in the castle. Thus besiegers were
in turn besieged; the sanctuary was not respected by the warlike Bishop
of Winchester, and the churches were burnt down in order to force the
occupants from their places of refuge. The unhappy inhabitants suffered
extreme misery while this murderous warfare was going on in their
streets; they were plundered by both of the opposing factions, their
goods seized without redress, and their homes burnt down or ransacked.

The castle, which was completely surrounded by the troops of the bishop,
sustained a siege of six weeks, by which time the provisions of the
garrison were exhausted. A daring expedient was determined upon by the
empress as the alternative of an unconditional surrender. The 14th of
September, 1141, was the feast of the Holy Rood or Cross, on which, as
on other festivals of the church, it was the custom for antagonists in
the field to desist from hostilities. At daybreak on that day, when the
besieging troops were asleep or engaged in preparing for their devotions,
Matilda stole out from the castle, accompanied by her brother, the
Earl of Gloucester, and a small but chosen escort. Mounted on fleet
horses they made their way through the troops of the bishop, and fled
at full speed along the road to Devizes. A hot pursuit was immediately
set on foot, and the fugitives were overtaken in the neighbourhood of
Stourbridge. Finding escape impossible, the Earl of Gloucester and the
knights who were with him turned upon their pursuers and kept them
at bay, while the empress urged on her horse and arrived in safety
at Devizes. After a gallant resistance the earl and several of his
companions were taken prisoners.

About a month after the capture of the Earl of Gloucester, a treaty was
concluded between the belligerents, by the terms of which the king was
exchanged for the earl, and thus the leaders of both armies regained
their liberty. Stephen resumed his title and the exercise of the royal
authority over the eastern and midland counties, which were the parts
of the country in the possession of his adherents. Normandy no longer
acknowledged the rule of the English king. During his imprisonment the
duchy had submitted to Geoffrey of Anjou, who soon afterwards resigned it
in favour of his eldest son Henry.

During this time the country wore an aspect of woe and desolation. All
kinds of depredations were committed by the soldiers of Brabant, the
Flemings, and other foreigners, with whom the land was overrun; while the
Anglo-Norman nobles raised funds for the expenses of the civil war by
selling their English estates together with the miserable inhabitants. So
great was the terror excited among the people by this state of things,
that we are told that a considerable body of them would take to flight
at the sight of three or four horsemen. Stories dark and dread were
currently reported of cruelties practised by the Normans upon those who
fell into their power. Those prisoners who were suspected to possess
property of any kind were subjected to unheard of tortures to compel them
to give up their hoards. Some were suspended by the feet, while fumes of
smoke were made to ascend about their heads; others were tied at some
distance from the ground by the thumbs, while their feet were scorched by
fire; or were thrown into pits filled with reptiles of different kinds;
sometimes they suffered the dislocation of their limbs in what was called
the _chambre à crucir_:[29] this was a chest lined with sharp-pointed
stones, in which the victim was fastened up.[30] Many of the castles
contained a room or dungeon specially set apart for these purposes, and
filled with instruments of torture, and with iron chains so heavy that it
required two or three men to lift them. "You might have journeyed," says
the authority already quoted, "a whole day without seeing a living person
in the towns, or in the country one field in a state of tillage. The poor
perished with hunger, and many who once possessed property now begged
food from door to door. Every man who had the power quitted England.
Never were greater sorrows poured upon this land."

Alarmed at the increasing power of Stephen, Matilda sent the Earl of
Gloucester to her husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, entreating him to bring his
forces to her aid. The earl replied that his presence was necessary in
his own dominions, but expressed his willingness to send his son, Prince
Henry, in his stead. Some months' delay ensued, and then Henry, with
the earl, his uncle, quitted Normandy with an inconsiderable force, and
effected a landing in England.

[Illustration: FLIGHT OF MATILDA FROM OXFORD CASTLE. (_See p._ 176.)]

Meanwhile, Stephen, having recovered from his illness, collected an
army and laid siege to the city of Oxford, where Matilda had assembled
her followers (1142). The town fell into his hands almost immediately,
and was set on fire by the royal troops. The empress had retreated into
the castle, which was a place of great strength; but it proved to be
insufficiently victualled. The fortress was surrounded and cut off from
all supplies from without, and after a siege of three months the empress
found herself compelled to make her escape in the same manner as before.

One night in December, when the ground was covered with snow, Matilda
quitted the castle at midnight, attended by four knights, who, as well
as herself, were clothed in white. The party passed through the lines
of their enemies entirely unobserved, and crossed the Thames, which was
frozen over. The adventurous daughter of Henry I. then pursued her way,
sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, to Wallingford, where she
joined the army of her son and the Earl of Gloucester.

[Illustration: _From the Picture by Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S._



After having taken Oxford Castle, Stephen encountered the forces of the
Earl of Gloucester at Wilton, and was defeated, the king himself having
a narrow escape of a second imprisonment. A desultory warfare ensued,
which lasted during three years, without any important advantage to
either side. Prince Henry remained during this time at Bristol Castle, in
the company of his uncle, the Earl of Gloucester, and in 1147 returned
to Normandy. Soon after his departure, Robert of Gloucester died of an
illness resulting from alternate excesses and privations. Deprived of
the aid of her half-brother, who had governed her affairs with undoubted
ability, Matilda found her position become every day less secure. One
by one her most faithful partisans fell away, stricken down by disease,
or weary of the contest; and among those who died was the Earl of
Hereford, one of the ablest and most powerful defenders of her cause.
At length the ex-empress determined to pass over into Normandy, there
to concert with her husband and her son fresh measures for renewing the
struggle. Emboldened by her absence, Stephen made vigorous attempts
to re-establish his power upon a firm basis; and for this purpose he
endeavoured by stratagem, as well as by force, to obtain possession of
various strongholds which had been seized and fortified by the barons.
The efforts thus made to reduce these haughty chiefs to submission met
with little success, and the king's own adherents were ill-disposed
to support a policy which they foresaw might one day be extended to

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF HENRY II.]

On the death of Innocent II. (September 24, 1144), the office of Legate
of the Holy See was transferred from the Bishop of Winchester to
Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop, having proceeded to
the Council of Rheims in opposition to the royal command, was banished
from the court.

This impolitic act of Stephen was attended by consequences which show the
extraordinary power possessed by the clergy over the rude and licentious
men of that age. Hugh Bigod, the Earl of Norfolk, one of the adherents of
Matilda, received the exiled prelate under his protection; and Theobald
issued a sentence of excommunication against all the followers of the
king, and the royal domain was declared without the pale of the Church.

While it is probable that the interdict of the Archbishop of Canterbury
did not interfere materially with the offices of charity and mercy
which, in addition to those of religion, were performed by the monks, it
is, nevertheless, easy to understand why such a proclamation might be
attended with serious inconvenience even to that part of the laity which
cared nothing for the services of religion. The discontent throughout
the country became so loud that Stephen was compelled to make overtures
to the archbishop for a reconciliation. After some delay, the primate
accepted the terms, and the ban of the church was removed from the royal
domains. The king, who in the interval had learnt the expediency of
securing the favour and adhesion of the clergy, made large donations to
the churches and monasteries, and promised to extend these gifts, and add
to them certain important privileges as soon as the kingdom should be
placed in a condition of peace and security.

Two years after the reconciliation with the archbishop, Stephen convened
at London a general assembly of the higher ecclesiastics, and demanded
that his eldest son, Eustace, should with their authority be acknowledged
as successor to the throne. The bishops, headed by the Archbishop of
Canterbury, refused positively to comply with this demand. As the legate
of Rome, the archbishop had communicated with the Pope on the subject,
and had received for answer that Stephen was a usurper, and had not the
right possessed by legitimate sovereigns of transmitting the crown to
a successor. Exasperated by a refusal which followed his efforts at
conciliation, Stephen ordered the bishops to be placed under arrest,
and their benefices to be seized. This, however, was only a temporary
outburst of anger, and appears to have been to some extent justified by
the open defiance given by the prelates to the sovereign to whom they had
sworn allegiance.

The king soon found himself menaced by further dangers from Normandy. In
1149, Prince Henry, the son of Matilda, had landed in Scotland attended
by a retinue of knights and nobles, for the purpose of receiving the
order of knighthood from his relative the King of Scotland. David, at
that time, held his court at Carlisle; and Henry, who had just attained
his sixteenth year, received his spurs at that place in the presence of a
vast assemblage of barons from various parts of England, as well as from
Scotland and Normandy. The gallant bearing and character of the young
prince produced the most favourable effect upon those who witnessed the
ceremony, and was afterwards contrasted with that of the son of Stephen,
to the disadvantage of the latter. Henry, having returned to Normandy in
the year 1150, was placed in possession of the government of that duchy,
and on the death of his father, Geoffrey Plantagenet, which took place
immediately afterwards, the prince received the earldom of Anjou. This
province was said to be conferred upon him with the stipulation that he
should resign it in favour of his younger brother on the day when he
should become king; but the legality of the will was doubtful.

In 1152 Henry married Eleanor, the divorced wife of Louis VII. of France
and daughter of William, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou. According
to the laws of these provinces, Eleanor succeeded her father in the
exercise of sovereignty, and her husband, though a foreigner, shared the
same rights. Eleanor was married, in 1137, to Louis, King of France,
who exercised control over her domains so long as he remained united to
her, and he garrisoned the towns of Aquitaine with soldiers and officers
of his own. The queen had given birth to two daughters, and the union
had lasted several years without interruption, when Louis determined to
make a pilgrimage to Palestine, and his wife, whose uncle Raymond was
Duke of Antioch, accompanied him on the journey. In the account already
given of the First Crusade, allusion has been made to the low state of
morality which prevailed in the camps, and it would appear that even the
Queen of France was not exempt from the evil influences by which she was
surrounded. Eleanor, who was possessed of remarkable beauty, displayed
great freedom of manners, and she was accused, justly or otherwise, of an
improper connection with a young Saracen knight, named Saladin. On the
return of the court from the Holy Land, in the year 1152, Louis called a
council of the clergy at Beaugency-sur-Loire, and demanded a divorce from
his wife. The cause of the king was pleaded by the Bishop of Langres, who
offered evidence of the offences committed by the queen. The Archbishop
of Bordeaux, however, while assenting to the king's request, proposed
that the separation should take place in a manner less fatal to the
reputation of Eleanor--namely, on the ground of consanguinity between
the parties. It was discovered by the prelates--rather late--that the
queen was the cousin of her husband within the prohibited degrees. This,
however, was the sole ground on which the laws of the Church permitted a
divorce, which, under any circumstances, was only granted to princes.

Eleanor, who regarded her husband as "more a monk than a king," assented
readily to a separation; and on the marriage being annulled, she set out
for her own domains, and remained for a while in the town of Blois. The
repudiated wife seems to have had no want of suitors, and rather found
a difficulty in protecting herself from their importunities. Theobald,
Count of Blois, the brother of King Stephen, offered her his hand, and
having met with a refusal, he detained the duchess a prisoner in his
castle, with the determination of marrying her by force. Suspecting his
design, Eleanor escaped from the castle by night, descended the Loire in
a boat, and reached the city of Tours, which then belonged to the duchy
of Anjou.

Geoffrey of Anjou, the second son of Matilda, hearing of the arrival of
the duchess, and tempted, probably, by her vast possessions, determined
also to make her his wife, and placed himself in ambush at the Port de
Piles on the Loire, to intercept her as she passed, and carry her off.
Eleanor, however, "warned by her good angel," turned aside and took the
road to Poitiers. Here Henry, with more courtesy than his brother or the
Count of Blois, presented himself to her, and the offer of his hand being
accepted, married her within a few weeks after her divorce (May 18). The
conduct of the young prince in this transaction does not appear in a very
delicate or chivalrous light; and it is evident that motives of policy
alone could have induced him to marry a woman who, however beautiful,
was considerably older than himself, and whose reputation was certainly
not without stain.

By this alliance Henry received the titles of Duke of Aquitaine and
Count of Poitou, in addition to those which he had previously possessed.
His domains now nearly equalled in extent those of the French king; and
Louis, alarmed at the increase of the Norman power, forbade Henry--who,
as Duke of Normandy, was his vassal--to contract the marriage with
Eleanor. Henry, however, paid no regard to the prohibition, and the
French king was compelled to accept the new vows of homage which the
prince now offered him for the territories of Aquitaine and Poitou. These
oaths--which were, in fact, little else than matters of form--had been
for many years the only bond which remained between the ancient Capetian
kings and the lords of those provinces which extended between the Loire
and the two seas.

The great and rapid increase of power thus attained by Henry Plantagenet
necessarily excited the hopes of his mother, and of her adherents in
England, who were gratified by the prospect of renewing the contest with
Stephen in favour of a young prince whose gallantry and abilities offered
the best prospect of success. The English king foresaw the approaching
danger, and had no difficulty in perceiving that Henry would command
many more supporters in England than would have ranged themselves under
the standard of the haughty Matilda. Stephen, therefore, concluded an
alliance with Louis of France, as well as with the Count of Blois, and
with Geoffrey of Anjou, Henry's younger brother. The two latter willingly
took up arms against one who occupied to both of them the position of a
successful rival, and they joined the army which the French king marched
into Normandy. Henry, however, made a vigorous defence, and having
repulsed the attacks of the French with success, he obtained a truce.
Meanwhile the Earl of Chester had arrived in the duchy from England,
bearing with him a message from a number of chiefs of the Plantagenet
party, who invited Henry to take possession of the throne in his own
right. The earl declared this to be the unanimous will of the people;
and the prince responded to the call, and, without waiting to organise
a large force, immediately set sail for England. The army with which he
landed numbered about 140 knights, and 3,000 infantry; it was composed,
however, of picked men, and was well disciplined. Many of the barons
of the kingdom immediately joined his standard, bringing with them
considerable reinforcements; and Henry marched his forces to Wallingford
for the purpose of giving battle to the king. Meanwhile Stephen had made
great exertions to oppose his adversary, and endeavoured, by bribes and
other means, to detach the barons from his cause. Some of the latter who
had declared for Henry, no sooner heard with what a small force he had
ventured into England, than they returned to the side of the king. The
war between the opposing factions was carried on in the same manner as
before--castles were besieged and taken, and towns carried by assault,
plundered, and burnt. The English, driven from their homes, or flying
from them in terror, built huts under the walls of the churches, in the
hope that the sacredness of the place would protect them from outrage and
plunder. No such considerations, however, restrained the belligerents,
who expelled the people from their sanctuary, and turned the churches
into fortresses. On the steeples, whence the sweet sounds of bells were
wont to give the call to prayer, were now placed the frowning engines of

The army of Stephen, which had marched from London, occupied the left
bank of the Thames at Wallingford, opposite to the troops of Henry.
The opposing forces remained in this position during two whole days
without coming to an engagement, and during the pause which thus took
place negotiations were entered into between the two princes. It would
appear that even the Norman nobles had become tired of the horrors of a
civil war which had lasted fifteen years, and the Earl of Arundel did
not hesitate to say that it was unreasonable that the calamities of the
nation should be continued further through the ambition of two princes.
Other lords on both sides expressed the same sentiments, and entreated
the king and the prince to meet together for the purpose of arranging
terms of peace.

An interview took place between the two chiefs, who conversed with
each other across a narrow part of the river Thames, and ultimately
agreed to desist from hostilities, pending the conclusion of a treaty
which was to be arranged at a general council of the kingdom. Prince
Eustace, the only son of Stephen, was seized with indignation at the
prospect of an arrangement which would probably exclude him from the
throne, and, instantly quitting his father's presence, he proceeded
into Cambridgeshire, recklessly determining to maintain his right
by arms. Having gathered together a band of lawless followers, he
seized possession of the abbey of St. Edmund, ejected the monks, and
placed there his headquarters. He occupied himself in plundering the
neighbourhood, and the property so obtained was expended in rioting and
other excesses. This state of things, however, was of short duration.
One day, when the prince was seated at a banquet, he was seized with a
sudden and violent illness, or frenzy, of which he died. The memory of
St. Edmund, king and martyr, was held in the highest veneration by the
English people, and the death of the prince was attributed by them to the
vengeance of Heaven, provoked by the outrage he had committed upon the
sanctuary of the saint.

Stephen now had less difficulty in agreeing to terms which would be
acceptable to Henry. The king had, indeed, one son remaining, but he
was too young to be aware of how much his interests were concerned in
the arrangements about to be made. The council of the kingdom was held
at Winchester, November 7th, 1153, and it was finally determined that
Stephen should retain the throne during his life, and that after his
death the succession should devolve upon Henry and his heirs. This treaty
was sworn to by the clergy, nobles, and knights of both parties, and is
described by different writers in different points of view. It is worthy
of remark that we find the various boroughs regarded in connection with
this treaty as of some importance, and that they were called upon to take
the oaths of allegiance in the same manner as the barons. The officers of
the most important of the royal castles gave hostages to Henry for the
surrender of those strongholds to him when the king's death should take

The treaty having been concluded, Henry and Stephen made a progress
together through the country, visiting the cities of London, Winchester,
and Oxford. Everywhere they were received with unfeigned joy by the
people, who, whatever might have been their sentiments with respect to
either prince, welcomed the chance which placed them side by side with
sheathed swords.

Henry proceeded to the Continent at the time of Lent, 1154, and in the
month of October in the same year Stephen died at Dover, in the fiftieth
year of his age, and the nineteenth of his reign. He was buried at the
monastery of Faversham, in Kent, and his tomb was afterwards destroyed
when the monasteries were suppressed by the command of Henry VIII.



     Accession of Henry Plantagenet--Royal Entry into
     Winchester--Expulsion of the Flemings--Henry's Dealings with
     the Baron--Siege of Bridgenorth Castle--The King's Quarrel
     with Geoffrey--Henry's Magnificence--War with, and Submission
     of, the Welsh--The King in Brittany--Alarm of the King of
     France at Henry's Schemes of Aggrandisement--Henry's Designs
     on Toulouse--Origin of _Scutage_--Peace with Louis--The People
     of Languedoc--Louis' Third Marriage--Fresh Rupture between the
     Two Kings--Marriage of Henry's Son and Louis' Daughter--The Two
     Popes--Renewed Reconciliation.

At the time of the death of Stephen, Henry was engaged in a desultory
warfare against some of his rebellious vassals in Guienne. Secure in
the strength of his party in England, and in the certainty that his
succession would not be disputed, he remained in France to bring the
affairs in which he was engaged to a successful termination, and then
proceeded to take possession of the vacant throne. The news of his
arrival, which took place six weeks after the death of Stephen, was
received with general gratification by the people, who were induced to
hope, from the lineage as well as from the character of the new king,
that his rule would be just and impartial.

The English race, faithful to their old traditions, dwelt with
satisfaction upon the English blood which had been transmitted to
Henry by his mother, Matilda. They forgot the haughty character of the
empress-queen, and remembered only that she and, through her, their new
sovereign were descended from Alfred the Great. Writers of the time, who
either believed sincerely what they wrote, or were paid to influence the
people in favour of their monarch, affirmed that England now once more
possessed a king of English race; that already there were many bishops
and abbots of the same race, while of chiefs and nobles not a few had
sprung from the admixture of Norman and English blood. They therefore
held that the hatred hitherto existing between the two races would
henceforth rapidly disappear. The opinions thus hopefully expressed were
not justified by the actual circumstances, nor were they realised for a
considerable time afterwards.

[Illustration: _Noble Churchman Yeoman Peasants Soldiers_


Henry II., however, was fully aware of the support which the Norman
dynasty would receive from the intermixture of the two races. He
encouraged the popular feeling with regard to his English birth, and
evinced no displeasure when the English monks, in describing his
genealogy, avoided all allusion to his descent on the father's side.
"Thou art a son," they said, "of the most glorious Empress Matilda,
whose mother was Matilda, daughter of Margaret, Queen of Scotland, whose
father was Edward, son of King Edmund Ironside, who was great grandson of
the noble King Alfred." Predictions also were discovered, or invented,
tending to raise still further the hopes of the people in the prosperity
which would attend the new reign--hopes not destined to be realised.
One of these prophecies, couched in the allegorical form in which such
dark sayings were usually put forth, was attributed to King Edward the
Confessor on his death-bed. That such stories produced their effect upon
the minds of men may serve to show the superstitious tendencies of the
age. It is related that one of the old chroniclers, in his attempt to
reconcile the two races, reproduced a statement copied from a writer
still more ancient, to the effect that William the Conqueror was himself
descended from Edmund Ironside. "Edmund," said the chronicle, "had,
in addition to his two sons, an only daughter, who was banished the
country for her licentious conduct, and whose beauty having attracted the
attention of Duke Robert of Normandy, she became his mistress, and gave
birth to William, surnamed the Bastard."

It was evident that the people had every desire to separate Henry from
that hatred which they still cherished towards the Norman race; and they
designated him as the corner-stone which was to unite the two walls of
the state. On the other hand, the Norman nobles saw their king in his
true character as the descendant of the Conqueror, and they knew that
their own position was secure in the possession of wealth, power, and
civil privileges.

When Henry landed in England, attended by a splendid escort, the people
flocked to meet him, and tendered their congratulations. The cavalcade
entered the royal city of Winchester, amidst the acclamations of the
crowd, Queen Eleanor riding at the king's side. Having received the
homage of the barons, the royal party proceeded to London, and on the
19th of December the coronation took place at Westminster.

The first act of the new king was to assemble a council, at which a
royal decree was issued promising to the people of London those rights
which they had enjoyed under the reign of Henry I., and the laws which
that king had restored. Stephen was declared to have been a usurper, and
all the institutions originated by him were at once abolished. Measures
were taken to suppress the practice of false coining, which had become
very common during the late reign, and the general currency having
deteriorated, a new coinage was issued of standard weight and purity.

The Brabançons and other foreign mercenaries, who had become established
in England during the civil war, had in many cases obtained possession of
the castles and domains of the Norman adherents of Matilda, and had been
confirmed in their titles by Stephen. The Norman nobles found themselves
driven out, and their mansions fortified against them in the same manner
that they themselves had seized the dwellings of the Saxons. When,
therefore, the Brabançons and the Flemings were expelled by Henry, the
whole of the Anglo-Normans experienced great exultation.

"We saw them," says Ralph de Diceto, a contemporary writer, "re-cross the
sea, called back from the camp to the field, and from the sword to the
plough; and those who had been lords were compelled to return to their
old condition of serfs." The Normans who thus made a jest of the humble
origin of the Flemings, conveniently enough forgot that their own fathers
had quitted occupations of a similar kind to follow the fortunes of the
Conqueror not a hundred years before. The men of the dominant race, who
had acquired titles and estates in England, had driven from their minds
all recollection of their former condition, and of the means by which
their present eminence was obtained, although few of them could bear a
favourable comparison in these respects with the later usurpers whom they
delighted to revile. The English, however, did not forget the humble
origin of their oppressors, and, according to Roger of Hoveden, they were
accustomed to say of an arrogant earl or bishop of Norman origin, "He
torments and goads us in the same manner that his grandfather used to
beat the oxen at the plough."

The grants of land which had been made during the reign of Stephen
had impoverished the state to such an extent that the revenues were
inadequate to the support of the crown. Various gifts also had been made
during the brief reign of Matilda, who found it necessary to reward her
followers in the same manner as had been done by Stephen. Soon after
the truce between Henry and the late king, a treaty had been signed at
Winchester, according to which Stephen agreed to resume possession of
the royal domains, which had been given to the nobles or taken by them
forcibly; the only exceptions being grants of land to the Church and to
Prince William, the surviving son of the king.

The provisions of this treaty had, however, not been carried out; and
Henry, who had pressing need of money, and, at the same time, was
determined to curb the growing power of the barons, called a council,
and demanded the right to resume the domains of the crown. The council,
on receiving the representations made to them of the king's necessities,
gave their consent to the measure, and Henry placed himself at the head
of a considerable force, for the purpose of expelling those barons who
might refuse obedience to the order of the council. In this manner he
passed through the country, reducing the fortresses one by one and, as
fast as they came into his hands, causing them to be levelled with the
ground. The castle of Bridgenorth, which was in the possession of Hugh
de Mortimer, was stoutly defended by that chieftain; and during the
siege, which lasted for some weeks, the king's life was saved by the
self-devotion of one of his vassals. Henry was directing the attack in
person, and had incautiously ventured under the castle walls, when an
archer was observed taking aim at him. Hubert de St. Clair, one of his
followers, immediately threw himself before the king, and received the
arrow in his own breast. Henry supported him in his arms, and St. Clair
expired in a few moments, entreating the king's protection for his only
daughter, a child of tender years. The charge was accepted, and in after
years was honourably fulfilled.

After considerable labour and many delays, Henry fully accomplished his
designs. He destroyed the castles of Henry of Winchester, the brother of
Stephen, who was compelled to quit the country. Other powerful chiefs,
including the Earls of Albemarle and Nottingham, were also deprived of
their estates; and the King of Scotland resigned his territories in the
north of England in return for the earldom of Huntingdon, which was
conferred upon him by Henry. It is related that more than 110 castles
and strongholds, many of which were in the hands of men who grievously
oppressed the people, or of licentious soldiers who lived by plunder,
were destroyed in the course of this expedition. This act alone must
have been of incalculable benefit to the country, and justified, to some
extent, the expectations which had been formed from the character of the
new monarch.


In 1156 Geoffrey Plantagenet, the brother of Henry, having called upon
him to relinquish the county of Anjou, received a refusal. Henry crossed
the Channel with a considerable force, and having done homage to the
French king, persuaded him to resign the cause of Geoffrey. The English
army, composed of men of English descent, rejoiced at the opportunity of
indulging in their long-desired vengeance against the Normans; and they
engaged in the war with so much vigour and success that the cause of
Geoffrey rapidly lost ground, and he was compelled to sue for terms of
peace. A treaty was concluded, by which the younger brother resigned all
claim to his lands and the title of the Count of Anjou, in return for a
pension of 1,000 English or 2,000 Angevin pounds. In the following year
(1157) he was elected to the government of Nantes.

Having reduced his brother to submission, Henry made a progress through
his Continental provinces, attended by a splendid retinue, and was
received everywhere with acclamations. He surrounded himself with the
pomp and magnificence of royalty, in a manner which had never before been
witnessed in his dominions, and which was equalled by no other monarch of
his time.

Having returned to England in 1157, the king marched an army into
Flintshire for the purpose of reducing the Welsh, who still fought
bravely for independence, to permanent submission. No opposition was made
to his advance until he reached the mountainous district about Coleshill
Forest. Here the English troops were suddenly attacked by a large force,
while passing through a narrow defile, where it was impossible to form in
order of defence. The slaughter was very great. Several wealthy Norman
nobles and knights of fame were dragged from their horses, and put to
the sword; the Earl of Essex, the royal standard-bearer, threw down the
standard and took to flight. Had the king not displayed those military
talents which were hereditary in the family of the Conqueror, he would
probably have shared the fate of his nobles, and the whole army would
have been lost. Henry, however, drew his sword, and rushing into the
midst of his flying troops, forced them to turn upon their assailants.
Ultimately he fought his way through the pass, and collected his forces
together in the open country. Owen Gwynned, a chief of the mountaineers,
attempted to decoy him once more among the mountains; but Henry took
his way to the sea-coast, and passed along the shore, building castles
wherever an opportunity presented itself, and clearing portions of the
country from the dense forests with which it was covered.

After a campaign of a few months, the Welsh gave in their submission to
the king, and did homage for their territory. On the departure of the
invaders, however, the mountaineers resumed their attitude of hostility,
and made incursions into the surrounding country, at intervals, for
many years afterwards. In consequence of his flight at the battle
of Coleshill, the Earl of Essex was publicly accused of treason and
cowardice by Robert de Montfort. The question was referred to a trial by
arms, or a duel, between the accuser and the accused, in the presence of
the king and his court. The Earl of Essex was defeated in the combat;
but the king, instead of sentencing him to death, as was customary in
such cases, contented himself with seizing the estates of Essex, and
condemning him to pass the rest of his life as a monk in Reading Abbey.

On the death of Geoffrey (1158) the city of Nantes fell under the
authority of Conan, the hereditary Count of Brittany, who also possessed
estates in Yorkshire, with the title of Earl of Richmond. Henry then set
up a claim to the free city of Nantes, as a portion of the inheritance
to which, as the heir of his brother, he was entitled. Actuated by the
prospect of getting possession of the whole of Brittany, and affecting
to regard Conan as a usurper, Henry confiscated his estate and title of
Richmond. Then crossing the Channel with a large army, the king appeared
before the walls of Nantes, and compelled the citizens to expel Conan,
and to pay allegiance to himself. Henry then garrisoned the town with
a body of his troops, and took possession of the rest of the country
between the Loire and the Vilaine.

(_See p._ 182.)]

Anticipating the alarm this great increase of his territory would cause
in the French court, Henry sent there as ambassador Thomas Becket, and
afterwards followed in person, and a treaty was concluded, by which
the French king undertook to maintain his neutrality. Louis, after his
divorce from Eleanor, had married Constance of Castile, who had borne to
him a daughter. Henry affianced his eldest son to the young princess, who
was delivered up to one of the Anglo-Norman barons, and her dower was
confided to the custody of the knights of the Temple, to be restored on
the celebration of the marriage.

Henry then proceeded to secure the possession of the whole of Brittany by
an alliance with Conan, to whose daughter, then but five years old, he
affianced his youngest son, Geoffrey, who was only eight years of age.
By this treaty Conan was to keep Brittany for his life, on condition
that at his death the future husband of his daughter was made heir to
his power. The fears of the French king were aroused once more by this
alliance, which it was evident would one day place the whole of western
France under the power of the Anglo-Normans. Louis attempted to procure
the Pope's interdict of the marriage, on the ground that Conan was the
descendant of a bastard daughter of the grandfather of Henry II. The Pope
Alexander III., however, refused to recognise such consanguinity, and the
marriage was celebrated in the year 1166.


Not satisfied with the success which had hitherto attended his schemes
of aggrandisement, Henry took proceedings to obtain Toulouse, preferring
a claim in right of his wife, which certainly was without any just
foundation. William, Duke of Aquitaine, the grandfather of Eleanor, had
married Philippa, the only daughter of William, Count of Toulouse. That
portion of the Salic law which precluded a female succession being in
operation in the country, the father of Philippa sold the province to
his brother, Raymond of St. Gilles, whose posterity subsequently held
possession of it. At the time of Eleanor's marriage with Louis, she had
insisted upon her right to the county of Toulouse, and her husband had
marched an army to defend the claim. The count, however, concluded an
alliance with Constance, sister of the King of France, and by this means
retained possession of his power.

Henry now proclaimed his right to the county on the same ground that
Louis had previously preferred. Raymond of St. Gilles, grandson of the
contemporary of the Conqueror, prepared to defend his patrimony, and
applied for assistance to his brother-in-law, the King of France. While
Louis was making ready to take the field, Henry adopted a measure, to
which may probably be traced the decline of the feudal system in England.
According to the laws, the service of a vassal to his sovereign in the
field was limited to forty days--a period which would have been nearly
consumed in transporting the English troops to the scene of action.
Henry, therefore, determined to levy a sum of money in lieu of the
services of his vassals, both in England and Normandy, and to apply the
sum so raised to organising a body of troops, which would be free from
all authority but his own, and would be ready to follow him without any
limit of time. This tax was called the _scutage_, and amounted to three
pounds English, or forty Angevin shillings, for each knight's fee. There
are stated to have been 60,000 of these fees in England, which would,
therefore, yield £180,000, an immense sum in those days.

The army thus raised by Henry was composed, for the most part, of the
infantry of the Low Countries, who were already distinguished for their
stubborn resolution and gallantry in combat. The king was accompanied by
Thomas Becket, who had lately been made Chancellor of England, and also
by Malcolm, King of Scotland, and Raymond, King of Aragon, with whom
Henry had formed an alliance. The town of Cahors was quickly reduced,
and the English army marched upon Toulouse, which was defended by the
citizens under Raymond, in conjunction with a small body of troops which
the King of France had marched to their assistance.

Becket, who, although in holy orders, marched in warlike equipments at
the head of 700 knights and men-at-arms, displayed great energy in the
field. He advised the king to take advantage of the weakness of the
garrison, to make an immediate attack upon the place; but Henry, whose
audacity was tempered by profound calculation, hesitated to commit an act
in direct defiance of those feudal laws in whose support he had himself
the strongest interest. As Count of Anjou, Henry was the hereditary
Seneschal of France, and he asserted that he could not make an attack
upon the troops of his feudal suzerain.

A second French army advancing to the defence of Toulouse, Henry raised
the siege, and committing the command of his forces to Becket, returned
with a small body of troops into Normandy. Thither the chancellor soon
afterwards followed him, having taken possession of a few castles on the
banks of the river Garonne. A campaign ensued, which lasted for a few
months, on the frontiers of Normandy; and was brought to a conclusion in
1160 by a treaty, according to the terms of which the eldest son of Henry
did homage to Louis for the dukedom of Normandy.

The condition of the people of Languedoc and the surrounding country,
from this time, began rapidly to decline. Placed between two great powers
whose rivalry resulted in frequent acts of hostility, the inhabitants
attached themselves first to the cause of one and then to that of
another, according to circumstances, and were by each alternately
protected and deserted, betrayed and sold. From the time of the twelfth
century, the people of the south enjoyed no tranquillity, except when
the kings of France and England were at war. "We rejoice," said the
troubadours in their songs, "when peace is broken between the Easterlings
and Tornes," under which names they described the French and English.
They possessed an early civilisation; but they appear to have been too
much devoted to the pursuits of pleasure and the dreams of romance to be
fitted for self-government. In addition to the disturbances which they
suffered from without, they were engaged in perpetual quarrels amongst
themselves. They were fond of war, but rather for the excitements it
afforded than for the purposes of ambition. They loved the pomp and
splendour of the tented field--the armour flashing in the sun--the
turmoil and the struggle, the honour and reward. At a word from a fair
lady, they were ready to fly off to Palestine, to engage in a quarrel
about which they cared little, or were equally willing to risk their
lives in hazardous and foolhardy achievements at home. They were a
people in whom the gifts of imagination, and a taste for the beautiful in
art and nature, were not restrained by prudence. Actuated by no spirit of
union or foresight, they were content to bask carelessly in the passing
sunshine, regardless of the future.

The peace between Henry and the King of France lasted only one month.
The queen, Constance, died without leaving a son, and Louis, anxious
to obtain an inheritor of his throne, contracted a union within three
weeks afterwards with Adelais, niece of King Stephen and sister of the
Count of Blois. By this alliance with his enemies, Henry perceived that
his own connection with the French king was endangered, and having
secretly obtained the authority of the Pope, he caused the marriage of
his son Henry, who was seven years old, and the daughter of Louis, to
be immediately solemnised. Henry, then, according to the terms of the
treaty, obtained the dowry of the princess from the knights Templars, who
were not prepared to resist at once the authority of the Pope and the
power of the English king. Louis immediately declared war, and banished
the Templars from his kingdom. Henry contented himself with defending his
territories from the attacks made upon them until peace was once more
concluded, through the intervention of the Pope.

At this period (1162), as had already been the case on a previous
occasion, there were two Popes. One of these, Victor IV., occupied the
papal chair at Rome, under the protection of the Emperor Frederick
Barbarossa of Germany; and the other, Alexander III., was living in exile
in France. The latter was generally regarded in that country and in
England as the legitimate pontiff, and Henry and Louis alike acknowledged
his authority, vying with each other in offers of protection and in
reverence. It is related by the Norman chronicler that when the two kings
met Pope Alexander at the town of Courcy-sur-Loire, they dismounted from
their horses, and each taking hold of one of the bridle reins of his
mule, walked at his side on foot, and so conducted him to the castle.

The reconciliation thus effected was followed by a brief period of
tranquillity, both in England and Normandy, and when the flame of war
again broke out, its origin was to be referred to no foreign enemy, but
to a man whom Henry had raised to the height of power and dignity.



     Early Life of Becket--Rapid Advance in the King's
     Service--Magnificence of his Embassy to Paris--The King, the
     Chancellor, and the Beggar--Depravity of the Clergy--Becket's
     Reforming Zeal--Appointed Archbishop of Canterbury--Extraordinary
     Change in his Habits--At Frequent Issue with the King--The
     Council of Clarendon--Becket Defies the King--Popularity
     with the People--His Flight from Northampton--Arrival at St.
     Omer--Obtains the Support of Louis and the Pope--Henry's Edict
     of Banishment--Defeat of the English by the Welsh--Insurrection
     in Brittany--Becket Excommunicates his Opponents--Henry's
     Anger--The Pope's Action against Becket--Interview between
     Becket and the King--The Two Reconciled--Return of Becket
     to England--His Christmas Sermon--The King's Fury--The Vow
     of the Conspirators--Scene in Becket's House--Murder of the
     Archbishop--Henry's Grief--Review of Becket's Career.

Thomas Becket, who was born in 1118, was the son of Gilbert Becket, a
native of Rouen, a merchant, and at one time port-reeve of London. The
youth was ambitious, and he quickly found means to turn his talents
to account. He obtained the favour of one of the Norman barons who
lived near London, and he joined in all the amusements of his patron.
In this position his abilities acquired him a great reputation among
the courtiers, to whom his ready wit recommended him, no less than the
obsequious demeanour which he sedulously cultivated.

Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, having heard of the young Englishman,
desired to see him, and having been pleased with the interview, took
Becket into his service. He caused him to take deacon's orders, gave him
the appointment of archdeacon of his church, and employed him in various
negotiations with the Holy See. In the reign of Stephen, Becket was
employed by the partisans of Matilda to procure the Pope's prohibition
of the intended coronation of the king's son. The mission was attended
with complete success, and on the accession of Henry II., Becket was
presented to him as one who had done his cause good service. Henry
extended his favour to the young archdeacon, and Theobald, the primate,
who exercised the functions of first minister to the kingdom, finding
his growing infirmities rendered him unfit for the duties of his office,
delegated to Becket a great part of his power. A few years afterwards the
archdeacon was raised to the office of Chancellor of England, or Keeper
of the Seal of the Three Lions, which was the symbol of the Anglo-Norman
power. The king also gave him the wardenship of the Tower of London
and the castle of Berkhampstead, and placed in his hands the care and
education of the heir to the throne.

These various appointments yielded large revenues, which were spent by
Becket in the greatest luxury and magnificence. He kept in his house,
which was furnished with great splendour, a numerous retinue; and it is
related that there were in his pay 700 men-at-arms, well mounted and
equipped. His tables were covered with choice viands, served upon costly
plate; and the trappings of his horses were adorned with gold and silver.
The haughtiest nobles of the court regarded it as an honour to visit this
magnificent man; the foreigners who enjoyed his hospitality were never
suffered to depart without some costly present.

It is related by Fitz-Stephen, who was Becket's secretary, that when the
chancellor proceeded on his embassy to Paris, he was attended by many
barons and lords, and a large body of knights, besides a great number
of attendants and serving-men. His passage through France resembled
a triumphal procession, and the train of sumpter-horses and wagons,
the hounds and hawks, the falconers and pages, seemed worthy of some
powerful king. When he entered a town 250 boys went before him singing
songs; these were followed by huntsmen leading their hounds in couples;
then came eight wagons, each drawn by five horses, and attended by five
drivers; and these were succeeded by twelve sumpter-horses, on each
of which rode a monkey with a groom behind on his knees. Next to the
sumpter-horses came the esquires, each carrying the shield and leading
the horse of his master; then the youths of gentle birth, who were also
esquires, but were exempted from the more menial services of that office;
then the knights, priests, and officers of the household; and, lastly,
the chancellor himself, attended by his friends. As this procession
passed through the towns, the people looked on with wonder, asking each
other what manner of man the King of England must be when his chancellor
travelled in such magnificence.

At this period Henry lived on the most intimate terms with the
chancellor, who was skilled in the sports of the field, and whose wit and
vivacity fitted him for a boon companion. The chancellor was not deterred
by his sacred calling from sharing in the pleasures of the king. Henry,
who could well support the royal dignity when occasion required, appears,
according to a story of doubtful authenticity, to have had a natural
tendency to gaiety and frolic. On one occasion, when the chancellor was
riding at his side through the streets of London in stormy weather, there
came towards the royal party a poor old man in tattered clothes. "Would
it not be well," the king asked, "to give that poor man a warm cloak?"
The chancellor replied with proper gravity, "It would, sir; and you do
well to turn your eyes and thoughts to such objects." The king then
immediately rejoined, "You shall have the merit of this act of charity;"
and turning towards the chancellor, he seized hold of the new cloak
which he wore, lined with ermine, and endeavoured to pull it from his
back. Becket resisted for some time, and in the struggle both had nearly
fallen from their horses to the ground; but at last the chancellor wisely
let go the cloak, and the king gave it to the beggar, who went on his way
wondering and rejoicing.

A man entirely delivered up to ambition is necessarily, to some extent,
unscrupulous; and there is no doubt that Becket was content to sacrifice
principle whenever it stood in the way of his advancement. He, however,
possessed many good and great qualities; and during the period of his
chancellorship, his influence with the king was used in promoting reforms
and instituting measures which were calculated to promote, in a high
degree, the welfare of the people. To his exertions may be attributed
the restoration of tranquillity throughout the country, the revival of
commerce, the reforms in the administration of the law, and the decline
of the power of the barons. Although himself a churchman, Becket did not
hesitate to attack the extravagant privileges of the bishops. At the time
of the war against the Count of Toulouse, the clergy refused to pay the
tax of scutage, which, as already related, was levied by Henry, giving
as their reason that the Church forbade them to shed blood.[31] Becket,
however, resolved to compel them to pay the tax; and while by so doing
he exasperated his own order against him, he secured the goodwill of the

[Illustration: HENRY II.]

Not long after the Conquest the Norman clergy in England began to display
great moral depravity. Murders, rapes, and robberies were frequently
committed by them; and, according to the laws passed by the Conqueror
on the institution of episcopal courts, the offenders could only be
brought to justice by men of their own order. Thus it happened that the
crimes committed by licentious priests were seldom punished, and they
increased to a frightful extent in consequence of this immunity. It is
related that from the time of the accession of Henry II. to the year
1161, not less than 100 homicides had been committed by priests who
still remained securely in possession of their benefices. To put an end
to these disorders, the only course which appeared feasible was to take
away from the clerical order those privileges which had been conferred by
the Conqueror, and Henry determined to execute this measure. The primacy
of Canterbury had long carried with it an authority second only to that
of the Pope himself, and it was impossible to carry out the intended
reform unless a man devoted to the royal authority, and careless of the
interests of the Church, were seated in the archiepiscopal chair. It was
evident that for this purpose no fitter man could be found than Becket;
and on the death of Theobald, the Archbishop of Canterbury (1161), the
king recommended his chancellor to the bishops as the person to succeed
to the primacy.

The chancellor was ordained priest, and on the following day was
consecrated archbishop, and appointed to the vacant see. Immediately a
change took place in him so remarkable that those who saw him found a
difficulty in recognising him as the same man. He threw off his gorgeous
apparel, removed the splendid furniture from his house, gave up the
intimacy with the gay nobles, who had been his friends, and became the
friend of the poor, the beggars, and the English. He even affected
poverty, and amidst unbounded wealth, and in the possession of power
second only to that of the throne, lived the life of an anchorite. He
was clothed in a coarse gown, allowed himself only herbs and water for
sustenance, and assumed a deportment of the utmost gravity and humility.
Thus Becket at once kicked down from him the ladder by which he had
risen, and now, no longer obsequious towards his sovereign, he determined
to maintain to the utmost the privileges of the Church. Never was there
a change of life more sudden, or one that excited so much indignation,
on the one hand, or so much admiration on the other. The new archbishop
became the idol of the poor, and especially of his own countrymen, while
the king and his favourites regarded him with the deepest anger and

Under these circumstances it was evident that a rupture must soon
take place. Becket began the struggle; he claimed a number of estates
and castles, including that of Rochester, from the king, and that of
Tunbridge from the Earl of Clare, on the ground that they had originally
belonged to the see of Canterbury. Had such restitution been given it
would have tended to overthrow the legal claim of many of the barons
to their estates; great alarm was, therefore, excited, and the demand
met with a determined resistance. The barons urged their prescriptive
rights, but Becket replied briefly that there could be no prescription
for injustice, and that the estates wrongly obtained must be restored.

The archbishop proceeded to follow up his attack by appointing a priest
to a benefice on the lands of a Norman baron, named William de Eynsford.
William, like the rest of the Normans, assumed the right of disposing
of the churches on his manor, and he expelled the priest sent by
Becket. The baron was immediately excommunicated by the archbishop in
defiance of a law passed by Henry, that no vassal of the crown should be
excommunicated without the royal consent. The king ordered the sentence
to be remitted, and after some delay Becket yielded, though with evident
reluctance. The king's animosity was rather increased than appeased by a
consent so reluctantly given.

In the year 1164, Henry proceeded to mature his plans for placing the
clergy under civil jurisdiction; and at a general assembly of lords, lay
and spiritual, he demanded the consent of the prelates to the proposed
revival of ancient customs, now called the constitutions of Clarendon,
by which the criminous clerks were to be made amenable to the secular
courts. The reply made by Becket and his coadjutors was that they
assented, "saving the rights of their order." The king angrily broke up
the council, and deprived the archbishop of the castles of Berkhampstead
and Eye. A few days afterwards Becket expressed his readiness to assent
to the king's demands, and a great council was convened at Clarendon
in Wiltshire (March, 1164), for the purpose of receiving the assent
formally. When the moment came for Becket's signature to be given, he
refused it; accusing himself of folly for having promised to observe the
king's laws, whatever they might be. The entreaties of the barons were
without effect, and the enactments were completed without his signature.

The king now proceeded to more severe measures against his former
favourite. Another council was called at Northampton, before which
Becket was summoned to appear, and was charged with contempt of the
king's authority. He was called upon to pay various heavy fines, and
to give an account of his receipts from different benefices during his
chancellorship--the balance due to the crown, which he had kept back,
being stated to be 44,000 marks. Becket was now convinced that his ruin
had been determined on, and for several days he was confined to his bed
by illness, brought on by these anxieties, and was unable to determine on
the course he ought to pursue. At length his indomitable mind recovered
its ordinary tone, and he determined to resist the decision of the king
and the council. Having celebrated mass, he proceeded to the court
dressed in his robes, and holding in his right hand the archiepiscopal
cross. As he entered the hall, the king, indignant at seeing him in
the robes of authority, rose up and passed into an inner room, leaving
the archbishop standing in the hall. Becket, who remained calm and
undaunted, seated himself on a bench, holding his cross erect. Presently
the Bishop of Exeter entered, and, in the name of his colleagues,
entreated the primate to obey the king's commands. A refusal was followed
by the entrance of the rest of the bishops, who renounced him as their
primate, and appealed to the authority of the Pope. Becket sternly
answered, "I hear;" and made no other reply.

According to one of the chroniclers, the archbishop was accused before
the council of magic arts, and the Earl of Leicester advanced into the
hall to read his sentence; but Becket, interrupting him, refused to
recognise the authority of a lay tribunal, and himself appealed to the
Pope's decision. With these words he rose from his seat, and carrying the
cross in his hand, strode slowly through the crowd towards the door of
the hall. A murmur arose as he passed, and some of the courtiers, whose
mean spirit derived satisfaction from striking a falling man, accused
him of perjury and treason, and catching up straw from the floor, threw
it in his face. Becket stopped short, and facing his assailants, said,
in cold and haughty tones, but with high spirit, "If the sacredness of
my order did not forbid it, I would answer with arms those who call me
perjurer and traitor." He then mounted his horse, and proceeded to the
house where he lodged, followed by a crowd of the inferior clergy and the
people, among whom he was exceedingly popular, and who received him with

Rejected by the rich, the archbishop opened his house to the poor. That
same night he caused a bountiful supper to be laid out in the hall, and
in all the chambers of the house. The doors were then thrown open, and
the beggar by the wayside, the outcast, and the hungry, were invited
to enter freely. All who came were made welcome, so that the house
was filled with guests--the archbishop himself supping with them, and
presiding at the repast.

In the dead of night, when the visitors at this strange banquet had
taken their fill, and departed, Becket disguised himself in the dress
of a monk, and, accompanied by two friars, escaped from the town of
Northampton. A hasty journey of three days brought him to the fens of
Lincolnshire, where he remained a little while concealed in a hermit's
hut. On resuming his journey he passed without suspicion to the coast. It
was at the end of November, and the weather was cold and stormy; but the
archbishop preferred the risks of the sea to those which awaited him on
shore, and, embarking in a small boat, reached the harbour of Gravelines
in safety. Thence he resumed his journey, as before, on foot. After
encountering many privations, the primate and his companions at length
reached the monastery of St. Bertin, in the town of St. Omer.

Here Becket waited the result of the applications he had made to Louis of
France, and to Pope Alexander III. It was not long before replies were
returned entirely in his favour. Louis was glad of an opportunity of
annoying and injuring Henry by extending protection to the archbishop,
and Alexander supported his cause, as being that of the Church and of
justice. He was desired to retain the archiepiscopal dignity, which he
had resigned into the hands of the Pope, and the abbey of Pontigny, in
Burgundy, was given to him as a place of residence.

On the news of Becket's flight, the king immediately proclaimed a
sentence of banishment against all the kindred of the archbishop, young
and old, women and children. It is even said that these unhappy exiles
were made to swear they would present themselves before Becket, so that
he might see the misery of which he had been the cause. Thus it happened
that his retirement at Pontigny was disturbed by the visits of these
poor people, who vainly implored him to obtain the remission of their
sentence. Becket relieved their wants as far as he could and obtained for
many of them the protection of the Pope and the King of France.

The banished prelate appears to have supported with contentment his
sudden loss of power and return to the condition of poverty. His life
at this period was, however, far from being an idle one. Much of his
time was occupied in writing; and he received frequent letters both
from friends and enemies. The English bishops sent him epistles full of
reproaches, for no other reason than to add to the weight of misfortune
and humiliation which pressed heavily upon him. The lower ranks of the
people, however, retained their attachment to him, and secret prayers
were offered up for his success in his undertakings, and for his safe

[Illustration: REPULSE OF THE ENGLISH AT CORWEN. (_See p._ 193.)]

Meanwhile Henry had conducted an expedition into Wales, which resulted in
a complete defeat of the royal forces. In 1164, a young man, nephew of
Rees-ap-Gryffith, King of South Wales, was found dead under suspicious
circumstances; and it was believed that he had been murdered by persons
in the employ of a Norman baron of the neighbourhood. To avenge his
death, Rees-ap-Gryffith collected troops from all parts of the Welsh
mountains, and made successful inroads upon the neighbouring counties.
The king, quitting for a time his quarrel with Becket, gathered a
considerable army, and in 1165 passed into Wales. The rebels gave way
before him, retreating, as their custom was, to the shelter of the
mountains. Henry, however, overtook them before they had gained their
fastnesses, and defeated them in an engagement. Pursuing them still
farther, the English troops reached Corwen, where they pitched their
encampment. A violent storm arose, and the streams which poured down
from the hills deluged the camp and flooded the valley. The mountaineers
took advantage of this circumstance, and, collecting on the ridges
near Corwen, attacked the disordered forces of the king, and defeated
them with considerable loss. Henry, who on ordinary occasions was less
addicted to acts of cruelty than had been the case with his ancestors,
was subject to fits of ungovernable passion; and he now determined to
revenge himself upon the persons of the hostages who had been placed in
his hands in 1158 by the Welsh chiefs. The men had their eyes torn out,
and the faces of the women were mutilated by having their noses and ears
cut off. It is related that the unhappy victims of these barbarities were
the sons and daughters of the noblest families in Wales.

[Illustration: INTERVIEW BETWEEN BECKET AND KING HENRY. (_See p._ 194.)]

Soon after the return of Henry from this expedition, an insurrection
broke out in 1166 in Brittany, which compelled his presence in that
province. The government of Conan dissatisfied the people, who were
oppressed by the Breton nobles, and could obtain no redress from their
prince. Henry entered Brittany with a large body of troops, and was
met by a deputation of the priests and the people, who placed the
redress of their grievances in his hands. Conan was compelled to resign
his authority, and the government passed into the hands of Henry,
under the name of his son Geoffrey, who, as we have seen, was married
to the daughter of Conan. The country, however, was not restored to
tranquillity. Other disturbances took place in various places, and
were put down one after the other by Henry, who at length succeeded
in overcoming all opposition to his government. He instituted various
reforms, and encouraged trade, and, under his rule, the land once more
enjoyed prosperity.

When the news of the king's arrival on the Continent reached Thomas
Becket, he left Pontigny, and proceeded to Vezelay, near Auxerre. At the
festival of the Ascension, Becket addressed the crowd assembled in the
great church, and while the bells were solemnly tolled, and the candles
burnt at the altar, the archbishop pronounced sentence of excommunication
against all who held to the Constitutions of Clarendon, or kept
possession of the property of the see of Canterbury. He mentioned by name
several of the Norman favourites of the king, and among others Richard de
Lucy, Ranulph de Broc, and Jocelyn of Balliol.

When Henry heard of this new act of hostility on the part of Becket, he
was at Chinon, in Anjou. Allusion has already been made to the fits of
passion with which he was sometimes seized, and on this occasion his
fury was altogether ungovernable. He exclaimed that it was attempted to
kill him body and soul; that he was surrounded by none but traitors, who
would not attempt to relieve him from the persecutions inflicted upon
him by one man. He threw his cap from his head, flung off his clothes,
and rolling himself in the coverlet of his bed, began to tear it to
pieces with his teeth. When his passion had in some degree subsided, he
wrote letters to the King of France and to the Pope, demanding that the
sentences of excommunication should be annulled, and threatening that if
Becket continued to receive shelter from the Cistercians at Pontigny,
all the estates in the king's dominions belonging to that order should
be confiscated. The Pope promised the king the satisfaction he required,
and Becket, driven from his asylum at Pontigny, removed to Sens, where he
remained under the protection of the King of France.

A series of petty wars now took place between Louis and Henry, and
were concluded by a peace in 1169. The matrimonial alliance previously
agreed upon between Louis and the King of Aragon was broken off, and
the Princess Alice of France was betrothed to Richard, second son of
Henry. At the time when this treaty was concluded, efforts were made by
the Pope and the King of France to effect a reconciliation between Henry
and Becket. A meeting took place between the two kings at Montmirail,
and thither Becket, having consented to give in his submission to
his sovereign, was conducted. When the archbishop arrived in the
king's presence, he expressed his willingness to submit to him in all
things; but he introduced the qualifying clause which he had formerly
used--"saving our order." The king angrily rejected such obedience,
saying that whatever displeased Becket would be declared to be contrary
to the honour of God, and that these few words would take away all the
royal authority. The archbishop insisting on such a reservation, the
nobles present accused him of inordinate pride, and the two kings rode
away from the spot without giving him any salutation.

Another conference which took place was also broken off suddenly, and
resulted in a quarrel between Louis and Henry. Peace was, however, once
more established between them, and Henry, fearing that the Pope might
sanction Becket's proceedings, and permit him to lay all England under
interdict, reluctantly promised to conclude final terms of reconciliation
with the archbishop. On the 22nd of July, 1170, a solemn congress was
held in a meadow between Freteval and La Ferte-Bernard, in Touraine.
After terms of peace had been arranged between the two kings, a private
conference took place between Henry and Becket. They rode together to
a distant part of the field, and conversed with something of their old
familiarity. The king promised to redress the grievances of which Becket
complained, and the usual forms of reconciliation took place, with the
exception of the kiss of peace, which the king now, as on a previous
occasion, refused to give. "We shall meet in our own country," said the
king, "and then we will embrace." Becket undertook to render to the king
all due and loyal service, while Henry promised to restore the privileges
and estates of the see of Canterbury. It is related that, to the
astonishment of all present, when Becket bended the knee on parting from
his sovereign, the king returned the courtesy by holding the stirrups of
the man whom he had refused to kiss.

Some delay took place on the king's part in the fulfilment of these
conditions, and Becket, who was compelled to borrow money to make the
journey, remained for awhile on the coast of France. Sinister rumours
reached him there; he was told that enemies were lying in wait for him
in England, and that if he again set foot in that country it would be
at the risk of his life. The lands of the Church could be restored only
by driving out the possessors, who were haughty barons, not unlikely to
seek vengeance on the man to whom they owed their ruin. Deadly enemies
of Becket were found also among men of his own order. He carried with
him the Pope's letter of excommunication against the Archbishop of
York and the Bishop of London, who would probably accept any means of
escaping the impending disgrace. Considerations such as these, however,
had never deterred Becket in the execution of his plans, and did not in
the least affect him now. With a spirit untamed by reverses he declared
that he would go back to England though he were sure of losing his life
on touching the shore. The letters of excommunication he forwarded before
him by a trusty messenger, who delivered them in public to the prelates
whom they concerned.

A vessel having been sent by Henry to convey him to England, he landed
at Sandwich, December 1, 1170, and was received with great rejoicings
by the people, who flocked from all parts of the neighbourhood to meet
him. The nobles, however, held aloof, and the few whom he saw did not
attempt to conceal their hostility. Three barons, who met him on his way
to Canterbury, are said to have drawn their swords and threatened his
life, and were only restrained from violence by the entreaties of John of
Oxford, the king's chaplain, who had accompanied Becket from France.

Proceeding on his way, the archbishop passed through Canterbury to
Woodstock, where he endeavoured to obtain an interview with Prince
Henry, the eldest son of the king. The interview was forbidden by the
royal command, and Becket was ordered to proceed at once to his diocese,
and there to remain. The time of Christmas was approaching, and the
archbishop retraced his steps, escorted on the way by the poor people,
armed with such coarse weapons as they could obtain. Various insults were
offered to the prelate by persons of the opposite party, who were anxious
to provoke his followers to a quarrel, which would afford a pretext for
attacking and murdering him. His faithful guard, however, contented
themselves with protecting the person of the archbishop, and received
these insults with imperturbable coolness.

The royal order which confined the primate to his diocese was published
in the towns, and with it another edict was made known, which declared
that whoever looked upon him with favour should be regarded as an enemy
of the king and the country. Signs like these were not to be mistaken;
and it scarcely needed the acute intellect and foresight of Becket to
perceive that his end was approaching. On Christmas day he preached to
the assembled crowd in Canterbury Cathedral, choosing as his text the
solemn words, "I have come to die among you." He told the people that
whereas one of their archbishops had already been a martyr, another would
soon be so also; but he declared that before he died he would avenge some
of the wrongs which had been inflicted upon the Church. He then proceeded
to excommunicate several of those persons from whom he had received
insults since his return to England.

The prediction of Becket was soon followed by its fulfilment. The three
bishops who had been excommunicated by the Pope's letters immediately
hastened to cross the Channel, and presenting themselves before Henry in
Normandy, demanded redress. "We entreat you," they said, "in the name
of your kingdom and its prelates. This man is setting England in flames.
He marches with a number of armed men, both horse and foot, going about
the fortresses, and endeavouring to obtain admission into them." Henry
heard this statement, and burst out into a violent fit of rage. "What!"
he cried; "a man who has eaten my bread--a beggar who first came to my
court riding a lame pack-horse, with his baggage at his back--shall he
insult the king, the royal family, and the whole kingdom, and not one of
the cowards who eat at my table will deliver me from such a turbulent

These words proved to be the death-warrant of the archbishop. Four
knights who were present, Richard Brito, Hugh de Morville, William Tracy,
and Reginald Fitzurse, bound themselves by an oath to support each other
to the death, and suddenly departed from the palace. There is no evidence
that the king was acquainted with their design, or anticipated that his
hasty words would be so speedily acted upon. On the contrary, it is
recorded that, while the knights were hastening towards the coast, a
council of the barons of Normandy, assembled by the king, was engaged in
appointing three commissioners to seize the person of Thomas Becket, and
place him in prison on a charge of high treason.

The conspirators had departed, and, if their absence was perceived, its
cause was not suspected. On the 29th of December they arrived in the
neighbourhood of Canterbury, and having collected a number of armed men,
to overcome any resistance that might be offered, they first summoned
the mayor, and called upon him to march the citizens who were armed for
the king's service to the house of the archbishop. On his refusal they
proceeded thither without more delay, and the four conspirators, with
twelve men, abruptly entered the archbishop's apartment. Becket was
at the dinner-table, with his servants in attendance. He saluted the
Normans, and desired to know what they wanted. They made no reply, but
sat down gazing at him intently for some minutes. At length Reginald
Fitzurse rose up and said that they were come from the king to demand
that the persons excommunicated should be absolved, the suspended bishops
restored to their benefices, and that Becket himself should answer the
charge of treason against the throne. The archbishop replied that not
he, but the Pope, had excommunicated the bishops, and that he only
could absolve them. "From whom, then, do you hold your bishopric?"
Fitzurse demanded. "The spiritual rights I hold from God and the Pope,
and the temporal rights from the king." "What, then, the king did not
give you all?" "By no means." This reply was received with murmurs by
the knights, who twirled their gauntlets impatiently. "I perceive that
you threaten me," the archbishop said; "but it is in vain. If all the
swords in England were hanging over my head, they would not alter my
determination." "We do indeed dare to threaten," said Fitzurse; "and we
will do more." With these words he moved to the door, followed by the
others, and gave the call to arms.

The door of the room was instantly closed, and the attendants of Becket
entreated him to take refuge in the church, which communicated with the
house by a cloister. He, however, retained his place, although the blows
of an axe, which Fitzurse had obtained outside, resounded against the
door. At this moment the sound of the vesper bell was heard, and Becket
then rose up, and said that, since the hour of his duty had arrived, he
would go into the church. Directing his cross to be carried before him,
he passed slowly through the cloisters, and advanced to the choir, which
was enclosed by a railing. While he was ascending the steps leading to
the choir, Reginald Fitzurse entered the door of the church clad in
complete armour, and, waving his sword, cried, "Come hither, servants of
the king!" The other conspirators immediately followed him armed to the
teeth, and brandishing their swords.

It was already twilight, which, within the walls of the dimly-lighted
church, had deepened into blackest obscurity. Becket's attendants
entreated him to fly to the winding staircase which led to the roof of
the building, or to seek refuge in the vaults underground. He rejected
both of these expedients, and stood still to meet his assailants. "Where
is the traitor?" cried a voice. There was no answer. "Where is the
archbishop?" "Here I am," Becket replied; "but here is no traitor. What
do ye in the house of God in warlike equipment?" One of the knights
seized him by the sleeve, telling him that he was a prisoner. He pulled
back his arm violently. It is related that they then advised him to
fly or to go with them, as though they repented of their evil design.
The time and the scene, the sacred office of Becket, and his calm
courage, were well calculated to make an impression upon men peculiarly
susceptible to such influences, and if they hesitated we must attribute
it to these causes rather than doubt the ruthless intention with which
they came.

Once more they called upon him to absolve the bishops; once more he
refused, and Fitzurse, drawing his sword, struck at his head. The blow
was intercepted by the arm of one of the prelate's servants, who stepped
forward to protect his master, but in vain. A second blow descended, and
while the blood was streaming from his face, some one of his assailants
whispered him to fly and save himself. Becket paid no heed to the
speaker, but clasped his hands and bowed his head, commending his soul
to God and the saints. The conspirators now fell upon him with their
swords, and quickly despatched him. One of them is said to have kicked
the prostrate body, saying, "So perishes a traitor."

The deed thus accomplished, the conspirators passed out of the town
without hindrance, but no sooner had they done so than the news spread
throughout the town, and the inhabitants, in the utmost excitement and
indignation, assembled in crowds in the streets, and ran towards the
cathedral. Seeing the body of their archbishop stretched before the
altar, men and women began to weep, and while some kissed his feet and
hands, others dipped linen in the blood with which the pavement was
covered. It was declared by the people that Becket was a martyr, and
though a royal edict was published forbidding any one to express such
an opinion, the popular feeling still manifested itself. The Archbishop
of York returned to his pulpit, and announced the violent death of the
archbishop to be a judgment from heaven, and that he had perished in his
pride, like Pharaoh. It was preached by other bishops that the body of
the traitor ought not to be laid in holy ground, but that it should be
left to rot on the highway, or hung from a gibbet. It was even attempted
by some soldiers to seize the corpse; but the monks, who had received an
intimation of the design, buried it hastily in the crypt of the cathedral.

Louis, King of France, seconded the feeling of the English people with
regard to this cowardly murder. He wrote to the Pope, entreating him to
punish with all the power of the Church that persecutor of God; a Nero in
cruelty, a Julian in apostacy, and a Judas in treachery.

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF BECKET.]

The opinion of the French court was that Henry was guilty of the murder,
having known or directed the designs of the conspirators. When the
intelligence was first conveyed to him, he displayed extreme grief,
shutting himself up within a private room, and refusing either to see his
friends or to taste food for three days. He immediately sent legates to
Rome, to offer assurances of his innocence to the Pope Alexander, who
threatened to place the whole kingdom under an interdict, as a punishment
for the outrage upon Heaven and the Church. Some time elapsed before
Alexander changed his purpose and was prevailed upon to confine his
anathema to the actual murderers and their abettors.

In the year 1172 a council was held at Avranches, at which the king and
the legates of the Pope were present, and which was attended by a great
multitude, both of the clergy and of the people. Here Henry voluntarily
swore, in what was considered the most solemn manner--that is to say,
over the sacred relics--that he had no concern in the murder of the
archbishop, and that he had not desired his death.

On reviewing the remarkable career of Thomas Becket, it appears extremely
difficult to form a just estimate of his character. That he frequently
acted independently of principle, and displayed qualities better
suited to a soldier than a priest, is beyond question. That his sudden
conversion was mere hypocrisy, his piety assumed, and his aims altogether
selfish--accusations which have frequently been brought against him--is
much less certain. When the religious habit was first assumed by Becket,
he accepted it as a step to power, and with little regard for the sacred
functions it conferred upon him; but when he was called to a higher
office, and he felt that the dignity of his order was placed in his
keeping, he determined to support that dignity. What was the precise
character of the motives which actuated him it is vain to inquire; but
it is at least possible that he was sincere in the course he pursued,
and that he believed the interests of religion to be identified with
the power of the Church. Allusion has already been made to the benefits
conferred upon the nation by the reforms which he introduced, and to
the veneration with which the people regarded him. The popular regard
is not always to be taken as a criterion of excellence, for men are apt
to be attracted by a showy and noisy benevolence rather than by silent
and unobtrusive virtue; but in process of time the true is distinguished
from the false, and the instincts of the people are rarely long deceived.
Neither the mitre which he wore, nor the English blood which flowed in
his veins, could have placed the archbishop so high in the affections of
the nation, unless there had been also high and sterling qualities in the
man. Well-authenticated accounts have reached us of his conduct at the
time of his death--that hour when the mask of the hypocrite usually falls
away, and something of his true character seldom fails to show itself. At
this time, then, we find Thomas Becket presented to us in an aspect which
must command the respect even of those who take the worst view of his
previous life. With far more courage than his knightly assassins, we see
him refusing to attempt a flight, which might have shown a consciousness
of guilt; preserving, in the face of death, a calm and undaunted brow;
and, as we are told by one of the chroniclers, employing his last words
in securing the safety of his friends and servants.[32]


THE REIGN OF HENRY II. (_concluded_).

     Events in Ireland--The Irish People--Henry's Designs in
     Ireland--Nicholas Breakspeare (Pope Adrian IV.)--The King of
     Leinster's Outrage--Dermot obtains Henry's Patronage--Siege of
     Wexford--Strongbow in Ireland--Siege of Waterford--Henry and the
     Norman Successes in Ireland--Arrival of Henry near Waterford--His
     Court in Dublin--The King Returns to England--His Eldest Son
     Rebels--The Younger Henry at the French Court--The English King's
     Measures of Defence--Defeat of the Insurgent Princes--Success of
     the King's Cause in England--Henry's Penance--Capture of King
     William of Scotland--Revival of Henry's Popularity--The King
     Forgives his Rebellious Sons--Period of Tranquillity--Fresh
     Family Feuds--The King at Limoges--Death of Princes Henry and
     Geoffrey--Affairs in Palestine--The Pope's Call to Arms for the
     Cross--The Saladin Tithe--Richard's Quarrel with his Father--Henry
     Sues for Peace--The Conference at Colombières--Death of the
     King--Richard before his Father's Corpse--Character of Henry
     II.--The Story of Fair Rosamond.

While the life of Thomas Becket was drawing to a close, events were
taking place in Ireland which led to the submission of that country to
the English crown. It does not fall within the scope of this history to
relate in detail the various internal quarrels and disturbances which
ultimately placed the island at the mercy of a small invading force; it
is sufficient to glance briefly at the condition of the people, and the
position of affairs at the time to which we are now referring.

The inhabitants of the island, called in ancient tongues Ibernia, or
Erin, were undoubtedly of Celtic origin, as the language still spoken
by a majority of the people serves to prove. The dominant race were
known as the Scots or Milesians (horsemen), and from them came the
settlers who gave Scotland its name. The Irish were distinguished from
the Germanic races by their strong passions--either of love or hate--and
their enthusiastic temper. Previous to the introduction of Christianity
their condition appears to have been entirely uncivilised; those old
fragments of Irish history which would lead us to a different conclusion
being little else than fables and bardic traditions. When Christianity
was carried into the country, the people embraced it readily. Poetry and
literature were cultivated to a greater extent than in any other part
of western Europe, and remained in a flourishing condition, while the
learning of the Continent was on a decline. This advance of civilisation
is to be referred to the labours of the celebrated St. Patrick, who
was born at Bonavem Taberniæ, probably identical with Kilpatrick in
Dumbartonshire. He entered upon his apostolic mission in 425, and died,
at an advanced age, in 458. The immediate results of his teaching
were seen in the erection of many churches and monasteries, in which
literature was cultivated with so much success, that students repaired
to the Irish schools from all parts of Europe. This state of things
endured for several centuries, until a permanent check was given to the
progress of learning by the incursions of the Northmen, who, from the
year 748 to the middle of the tenth century, continually visited the

At the period of the English invasion, the people of Ireland are
described as being of tall and elegant forms, and having a ruddy
complexion. Their clothing was of the simplest kind, and was spun from
the wool of their sheep. The art of war had made little progress among
them; and their arms consisted of a short lance, or javelin, a sword
about fifteen inches in length, and a hatchet of steel. Their houses were
built of wood, interlaced with wicker-work, in a manner which displayed
considerable ingenuity. They were extremely fond of music, and in the use
of their favourite instrument, the harp, they excelled the neighbouring
nations. Giraldus Cambrensis,[33] who has left us an account of the
conquest of Ireland, admits their superiority in this respect.

When Henry ascended the English throne, he entertained the project
of taking possession of Ireland; and, following the example of the
Conqueror, he first took measures to obtain the sanction and assistance
of the Pope to his enterprise. The papal chair was at that time occupied
by Nicholas Breakspeare, called Adrian IV., the only Englishman who
ever wore the tiara. He was a man of obscure birth, but of considerable
intelligence, who had quitted his native land at an early age, and
travelled through France to Italy, where he entered an abbey as
secretary. Unaided by wealth or connections, his abilities gradually
raised him to the dignity of abbot, from which he rose to be bishop,
and ultimately Pope. Adrian assented to the request of Henry, and
issued a bull, authorising him to undertake the conquest of Ireland.
The king, however, was deterred, by the advice of his counsellors, and
by the urgency of other affairs, from entering upon the expedition at
that time, and the papal bull was deposited in the royal treasury at
Winchester, without being promulgated.

[Illustration: THE SIEGE OF WATERFORD. (_See p._ 201.)]

Fourteen years later, some Norman and Flemish adventurers, who had
previously settled in Wales, were invited to Ireland by one of the native
princes. Dervorgilla, a lady of remarkable beauty, wife of Tiernan
O'Rourke, a powerful chief, was carried off by Dermot MacMurrogh, King
of Leinster. Dermot, who was a man of cruel and arrogant temper, had
many enemies, and he now found himself attacked on different sides
by O'Rourke, and those who supported his cause. Ultimately a general
combination was formed against the King of Leinster, and he was compelled
to quit the country.

He proceeded to ask the support of King Henry, who was then in Aquitaine.
Henry, occupied at that time with other affairs of importance, received
him graciously, and gave him letters, authorising the subjects of the
English crown to take up arms in his favour. Furnished with these, Dermot
returned to England, and, after some delay, he obtained the assistance
of Richard de Clare, surnamed Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, to whom he
promised his daughter Eva in marriage. Subsequently he made arrangements
with Robert Fitz-Stephen and Maurice Fitz-Gerald, to whom he agreed to
give the town of Wexford, with other rewards, in return for the services
they were to render him.

In the year 1169, Fitz-Stephen, with his companions, accompanied by 140
knights and 300 men-at-arms, crossed over to Ireland, and landed at
Bannock Bay. MacMurrogh, who had previously returned to the country, and
had remained in concealment, advanced to meet his friends. The combined
forces having attacked and reduced Wexford, advanced against the Prince
of Ossory, whom they defeated with great slaughter. The Normans slew
their adversaries, who possessed no defensive armour, and cut off their
heads with their battle-axes. It is related that three hundred bleeding
heads were brought and laid before MacMurrogh, and that he turned them
over to see which of his enemies had been slain. On coming to the head of
one against whom he had a mortal hatred, he took it up by the hair, and,
"horribly and cruelly, tore away the nose and lips with his teeth." This
savage chieftain, however, had a regard for his plighted word, and he
fulfilled his promise of placing Fitz-Stephen in possession of Wexford,
while districts on the coast between Waterford and Wexford were given
to others of his allies. These gifts of territory to foreigners called
forth the utmost indignation among the Irish confederate chiefs, who, at
a council held at the royal seat of Tara, in Meath, declared the King
of Leinster to be a national enemy, and prepared to make common cause
against him.

Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, did not set sail for Ireland until 1170.
He landed near to Waterford, with a force of two hundred knights and
two thousand men, and was immediately joined by the Normans who had
preceded him. The combined forces, having been arranged in battle array,
and with banners flying, advanced to attack the city. The citizens made
a gallant resistance, and were probably excited to desperation by the
ruthless character of MacMurrogh, and the fate which they expected would
await those who might fall into his hands. The Earl of Pembroke, who was
well skilled in the art of war, had command of the forces, and led the
assault. A little house of timber, standing half upon posts, was observed
without the walls, and the assailants having hewn down the posts, the
house fell, together with a piece of the wall. The troops poured through
the breach thus made, and captured the city, killing the inhabitants
without mercy.

Leaving a strong garrison, the Normans marched to Dublin, which town,
as well as that of Waterford, had been founded by the Danes. Supported
by reinforcements raised by MacMurrogh, the invaders took the city of
Dublin with little resistance, and, elated by a course of uninterrupted
successes, made incursions upon the surrounding country. King Henry,
however, received the news of these events, and his jealousy being
excited at such an important conquest being attained by his vassals, he
issued a proclamation forbidding any vessel to leave his dominions for
Ireland, and ordered all his subjects then in that country to return
to England by the next Easter, on pain of the forfeiture of all their
estates, and of perpetual banishment from the realm. A consultation was
held among the Normans, and Raymond Fitz-William, surnamed Le Gros,
nephew of Fitz-Gerald and Fitz-Stephen, was dispatched on a mission to
Henry, to prevail upon him to recall the proclamation, and to remind him
of the letters he had given to MacMurrogh, authorising Englishmen to
take up arms in his cause. Henry received the message without returning
any answer, or, according to some of the chroniclers, he replied by
confiscating the estates of Strongbow in Wales.

While the earl thus found himself cut off from all reinforcements of men
and arms, the Normans in Leinster were suddenly attacked by the men of
Danish race who were settled on the north-east coast of Ireland, and who
now allied themselves with the natives against the new invaders. They
attacked Dublin, but without success. The Normans, however, dreading
the formidable league against them, made a second application to Henry
through Hervey Fitz-Maurice. Strongbow himself was then ordered to
proceed to the court, and after some delay he obtained an audience. The
earl agreed to surrender to the king the town of Dublin, with the larger
of the other towns on the coast; in return, Strongbow was permitted
to retain his other acquisitions in Ireland, and was restored to the
possession of his estates in Wales.

MacMurrogh having died previously to this interview, Strongbow had
assumed the title of King of Leinster, in right of his wife Eva; and he
now found himself reduced from the condition of a sovereign prince to
that of steward of the English crown. In the year 1171, Henry set sail
from Milford to take possession of his new territories. The royal force
consisted of 400 vessels, containing about 5,000 men, among whom were
500 knights. Henry landed at the Crook, near Waterford, October 18th,
and was received by the Norman chiefs, who tendered him their homage.
The army commenced its march, by way of Cashel, to Dublin, meeting with
no resistance. The inhabitants, overawed by the numbers and the martial
equipment of their enemies, fled in dismay before the advancing troops,
and the native kings of the south had no other alternative than to
surrender at the summons of the conqueror, and offer their allegiance to

Having established his court at Dublin, Henry styled himself King of all
Hibernia, and summoned the whole of the Irish chiefs to his presence.
Many obeyed; but the Kings of Connaught and Ulster, entrenched in
their native mountains, refused to acknowledge his authority, and the
sovereignty of Henry was limited by a line drawn across the island,
from the mouth of the Shannon to that of the Boyne. All the pomp which
distinguished the Plantagenet court was displayed in Dublin, and the
Irish people--lively, impressible, and fond of novelty--derived pleasure
from contemplating the splendid appearance of the Norman arms, horses,
and accoutrements of war. The majority of the clergy also gave their
support to the invader, and welcomed him as one bearing the authority
of the Church. Henry promulgated the bull of Pope Adrian; and various
reforms and observances of canonical discipline were introduced into the
Irish Church.

Henry's former haughtiness towards the clergy, and his resistance to
the encroachments of the papal see upon the rights of the crown, had
now disappeared. Not only did he require the support of the bishops to
secure his new conquest, but the popular feeling excited throughout
his dominions by the death of Becket rendered it necessary for him to
conciliate where he had formerly threatened. This course of action met
with temporary success, and Pope Alexander III. issued a bull confirming
that of his predecessor, Adrian, and ratifying the king's title to the
possession of Ireland.

After he had remained in the country for a few months longer, Henry
received news which compelled his immediate return to England. Having
appointed officers to the chief places of power in the island, he sailed
from Wexford on the 17th of April, 1172, and landed at Portfinnan, in

At this time the king had four legitimate sons living--Henry, Richard,
Geoffrey, and John, of whom Henry, the eldest, was eighteen years of
age. Equitable provision had been made for each of them, it being
intended that Henry should succeed to the English throne, as well as
to the territories of Normandy, Anjou, and Maine. Richard, who was the
favourite of his mother, was to receive her estates of Aquitaine and
Poitou; Geoffrey, who had married the daughter of the Duke of Brittany,
was to succeed to that province; and John was to be made King of Ireland.
During the archbishopric of Thomas Becket, the king had taken measures to
show his authority by causing his eldest son to be crowned king by the
Archbishop of York. The political enemies of Henry exerted themselves
to turn this impolitic measure to their own advantage, by exciting the
son to rebellion against the father, who was now called the elder king.
In these attempts they were seconded by Queen Eleanor, whose affections
had been alienated from the king by his numerous infidelities. She was
a woman of strong passions, and determined to make her children the
instruments of her vengeance. Through her efforts the people of Aquitaine
and Poitou attached themselves to the cause of the younger king, and many
of the nobles of those provinces became his counsellors and confidants.
They spared no pains to excite the ambition of the youth, and persuade
him that his father had abdicated the throne in his favour, and was no
longer entitled to hold the sovereign authority. At the coronation of
Prince Henry, his wife Margaret, the daughter of Louis of France, was
not permitted to receive the crown with her husband, and this omission
was resented by the French king, to whom it afforded a pretext for
embracing the cause of his son-in-law. A peace having been concluded
by the intervention of the Pope, the wrong was repaired, and Margaret
was crowned queen. Henry then permitted the young couple to visit the
French court, and during their stay, Louis continued to foment the
dissatisfaction of the son, and to excite him to rebellion against his

On his return to England, the younger king did not hesitate to demand
that his father should resign to him either the throne of England or
one of the two duchies of Normandy and Anjou. Henry advised him to have
patience until the time when all these possessions would become his. The
son quitted his father's presence in anger, and from that day, in the
language of an old historian, no word of peace ever more passed between

In 1174 young Henry sought refuge with Louis VII. at St. Denis. On the
news of this escape being brought to the old king, he displayed all the
energy of former years, and, mounting on horseback, he proceeded along
the frontier of Normandy, inspecting the defences, and preparing against
attacks. Messengers, with a similar object, were also dispatched to
the captains of the royal garrisons in Anjou, Aquitaine, and Brittany.
Meanwhile the two princes, Richard and Geoffrey, followed their brother
to the French court. Henry now sent envoys to the French court, demanding
his son, and also requiring to know the intentions of the King of France.
The ambassadors were received in full court, in the presence of young
Henry and his brothers. When, according to the usual form, they commenced
their message by enumerating the titles of their royal master, they
were interrupted by Louis, who declared that there was but one King of
England--namely, the young prince now standing before them.

Young Henry was recognised by a general assembly of the barons and
bishops of France as having the only lawful right to the English throne.
Louis VII. made oath to this effect, and after him the brothers of Henry
and the barons of the kingdom. A great seal was made with the arms of
the King of England, in order that Henry might affix that sign of royalty
to his documents of state.

His first acts were grants of land and estates to the barons of France
and the enemies of his father who were willing to join the confederacy.
Among these were William, King of Scotland, who was to receive the
territories of Northumberland and Cumberland, conquered by his
predecessors; Philip, Count of Flanders, to whom was promised the earldom
of Kent, and the castles of Dover and Rochester; and the Count of Blois,
who was to have Amboise, Château-Renault, and five hundred pounds of
silver from the revenues of Anjou. Other donations were made of a similar
kind, and the young king sent messengers to Rome to obtain the sanction
of the Pope. Meanwhile the cause of the rebellious son was embraced by
many powerful chiefs, even among the vassals of the English king. Not a
few recalled former acts of arrogance or oppression for which the present
occasion offered the prospect of vengeance; others, who were young in
arms, and of turbulent and adventurous spirit, were easily induced to
take up arms in favour of the gay young prince. In England the Earls of
Leicester and Chester were the principal supporters of his cause.

Henry, who was then in Normandy, found himself deserted by many of the
lords of his court, and it is said that even the guards of his chamber,
those who were entrusted with the care of his person and his life, went
over to his enemies. In circumstances such as these, with dangers and
anxieties thickening around him, the indomitable character and powerful
mind of the king--now in his prime--were displayed to their full extent.
He possessed in a high degree those political and military talents which
were hereditary in the family of the Conqueror, and although the loss of
his followers was to him a cause of the greatest grief and despair, yet
he preserved a calm and cheerful countenance and an admirable temper,
pursuing his usual amusements of hunting and hawking, and showing himself
more than usually gay and affable towards those who came into his

Allusion has already been made to the animosities existing between the
different races inhabiting the Continental territories of Henry II. The
rebellion of the princes fomented this national hatred, and opposing
nations took part in the contest, and having once drawn the sword, were
not easily induced to lay it aside. While the King of France and Henry
the younger were marching an army into Normandy, Richard had gone to
Poitou, where most of the barons entered the field in his cause. Geoffrey
met with similar success among the people of Brittany, who, with their
former readiness for revolt, entered into a confederation for the purpose
of securing their own interests, while ostensibly supporting the cause of
their duke. The old king thus found himself attacked at several points
simultaneously, while the troops whom he had at command were chiefly
the Brabançon mercenaries, who, though valiant men-at-arms, were in
fact little better than banditti. With a division of these troops Henry
opposed the advance of the King of France, and ultimately compelled
him to make a rapid retreat. Another division, which had been sent
into Brittany, met with equal success against the insurgents, and the
adherents of the princes were defeated wherever they showed themselves.
King Louis, who possessed little persistence of character, soon grew
weary of this war, as he had done on former occasions, and advised
the rebellious sons to seek a reconciliation with their father. Henry
consented to a conference, and the two kings met in a wide plain near to
Gisors, where there was a venerable elm, whose branches descended to the
ground. In this spot from time immemorial all conferences had been held
between the dukes of Normandy and the kings of France. It had, however,
no result; and a desultory war, in which no engagement of importance took
place, was continued during the rest of the year.

The Scots, who had begun to make forays upon the lands in their
neighbourhood, were now assuming a dangerous attitude; but were repulsed
by Richard de Lucy, the king's high justiciary, who burnt their town
of Berwick, and drove them back with considerable slaughter. On his
return to the south De Lucy defeated the Earl of Leicester, and took him
prisoner. The peasantry of England appear to have been indifferent to
these disputes, and, therefore, remained quiet. The people of Normandy,
also, were generally faithful to their sovereign, and it was among the
recent conquests of Henry--in the provinces of Poitou and Aquitaine,
Maine and Anjou--that the rebellion gained ground. Two of the natural
sons of the king, who were at that time in England, exerted themselves
strenuously in the cause of their father, and one of these--Geoffrey,
Bishop of Lincoln--distinguished himself by various successes against the
insurgent barons.

Meanwhile, Richard, having fortified a number of castles of Poitou
and Aquitaine, headed a general insurrection of the people of those
provinces. Against him, in the year 1174, the king marched his Brabançon
troops, having placed garrisons in Normandy to repel the attacks of the
King of France. Henry took possession of the town of Saintes, and also
of the fortress of Taillebourg, and in his return from Anjou, devastated
the frontier of Poitou, destroying the growing crops as well as the
dwellings of the people. On his arrival in Normandy he received news that
his eldest son, with Philip, Count of Flanders, had prepared a great
armament, with which they were about to make a descent upon the English
coast. The king, whose movements on such occasions were unsurpassed
for rapidity and energy, immediately took horse, and proceeded to the
nearest seaport. A storm was raging as he reached the coast, but Henry
immediately embarked; carrying with him as prisoners his wife Eleanor,
and Margaret, the wife of his eldest son, who had not succeeded in
following her husband to the court of her father.

Henry landed at Southampton, whence he proceeded to Canterbury, for
the purpose of undergoing that extraordinary penance, to which some
allusion has already been made. It is related that he rode all night
without resting by the way, and that when, at the dawn of day, he came
in sight of Canterbury cathedral, he immediately dismounted from his
horse, threw from him his shoes and royal robes, and walked the rest
of the way barefoot, along a stony road. On arriving at the cathedral,
the king, accompanied by a great number of bishops, abbots, and monks,
including all those of Canterbury, descended to the crypt, in which the
corpse of Thomas Becket was laid. He knelt upon the stone of the tomb,
and, stripping off part of his clothes, exposed his back to the scourge.
Each of the bishops then took one of the whips with several lashes,
used in the monasteries for penance, and each, in turn, struck the king
several times on the shoulders, saying, "As Christ was scourged for our
sins, so be thou for thine own." The scourging did not end the acts
of humiliation. Henry remained a day and a night prostrate before the
tomb, during which time he took no food, and did not quit the place. The
fatigue which he thus underwent brought on a fever, which confined him
during several days to his chamber. The display of repentance, whether
real or assumed, produced a reaction in the king's favour among the
people, and he at once recovered the popularity he had lost. It happened
that on the day when Henry was thus humbling himself before the tomb
of Becket, one of his most powerful enemies had been taken prisoner.
William the Lion, of Scotland, had made a hostile incursion into the
lands of the English; and on the 12th of July, when he was amusing
himself by tilting in a meadow with some of his nobles, he was surprised
by Ranulph de Glanville, and captured, together with those who were with
him. The English people, deeply imbued with the superstition of the
time, attributed this success to the favour of the martyred archbishop,
and they flocked to the standard of the king. Henry was not long in
recovering his strength; and, taking the field once more, he advanced
against the rebellious barons, who gave way and fled at the sound of his
approach. Many of their castles were carried by storm, and many were
surprised before the inmates had time to escape. So many prisoners were
taken that, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, there were hardly cords
enough to bind them, or prisons enough to hold them.

[Illustration: HENRY ON HIS WAY TO BECKET'S TOMB. (_See p._ 204)]

Having effectually repressed the revolt in England, Henry passed over
with his army into Normandy. The inhabitants of Poitou and Brittany rose
again in rebellion. Meanwhile the Count of Flanders had resigned his
project of invading England as soon as Henry's return thither, and the
various successes which attended him, were made known. The earl turned
his forces in another direction, and having been joined by Henry, the
younger king, and by Louis of France, laid siege to the city of Rouen.
The attacking forces had scarcely sat down before the place, when Henry,
who had returned in haste to the Continent, appeared on the scene of
action, and obtained possession of the stores of the French army. Louis
and his allies made but a brief resistance, and in a few days raised the
siege. Their numerous army retreated hastily before the forces of the
English king, who pursued his advantage, and compelled his adversaries
once more to come to terms. Louis was again the first to withdraw from
the contest, and proposed a conference for arranging terms of peace, to
which the princes Henry and Geoffrey reluctantly assented.

Richard at first refused to be included in the truce, but receiving no
succour from his allies, he was unable to maintain a defence, and after
the loss of many fortresses, he was compelled to return to his father,
and implore his pardon. The king, stern and unrelenting towards ordinary
offenders, acted with remarkable indulgence towards his rebellious
children. An act of reconciliation was agreed upon, by which estates
and revenues were assigned to each of the princes; and Henry made peace
with the French king and the Count of Flanders, on condition that they
restored the territories which they had occupied since the commencement
of the war. On the other hand, Henry agreed to give up those lands which
he had conquered, and to liberate all his prisoners, with the exception
of the King of Scotland, who had been confined in the castle of Falaise.
In the following month of December (1174), the Scottish king obtained
his freedom by doing homage to Henry, and acknowledging himself as his
vassal--thus sacrificing nominally the independence of his kingdom.

The three princes assented to the terms offered by their father, and
promised future honour and obedience to him, the two younger taking the
oath of fealty. In 1175 Henry returned to England with his eldest son,
and the reconciliation between them was now so complete, that it is
related that they ate at the same table and slept in the same bed.

At length the country enjoyed a short period of tranquillity, and eight
years elapsed, during which there was peace at home and abroad, and the
energies of the king were engaged in promoting reforms in the internal
government of the kingdom. His reputation for wisdom and power at this
time stood so high that the Kings of Navarre and Castile, who had been
engaged in a prolonged warfare upon a question of territory, agreed to
refer their dispute to the decision of the English monarch, and it is
related that he delivered a wise and impartial judgment between them.

In 1182 fresh disputes arose between Henry and his sons. Richard having
been called upon to do homage to his elder brother Henry for the
provinces of Aquitaine and Poitou, positively refused, and immediately
proceeded to put his fortresses in a condition of defence. In the
beginning of the following year, Henry the younger and Geoffrey marched
an army, part of which was composed of the Brabançon troops, against
their brother, and several furious engagements took place between them.
The king, alarmed at the grave appearance of the quarrel, recalled his
two sons, and on their refusal took up arms in support of Richard. The
family war was thus renewed under a new aspect, one of the sons fighting
with his father against his two brothers. Contemporary historians speak
with a fitting horror of these unnatural contests, and attribute their
recurrence to an evil destiny which hung over the race of Plantagenet,
as the result of some great crime which remained unexpiated. Revolting
stories were related of the origin of the family, and of the deeds of its
descendants--stories, of which some are evidently fabulous, and others,
probably, had little or no foundation in fact. One of these, which occurs
in the chronicles of Johannes Brompton, may be given as an instance:--An
ancient countess of Anjou, from whom King Henry was descended, was
observed by her husband to evince great reluctance to entering a church,
and when she did visit one, she invariably quitted the edifice before
the celebration of the sacrament. The husband, whose suspicions were
excited, caused her one day to be forcibly detained by four esquires;
but, at the moment of the consecration, the countess threw off the cloak
by which she was held, flew out of the church window, and was never seen
afterwards. It is related that Prince Richard was accustomed to refer to
this anecdote, and to say it was no matter of surprise that he and his
family, who had sprung from such a stock, should be on bad terms with
each other.

Henry and his son Richard marched against Limoges, which was in the
possession of Henry the younger and Geoffrey. Within a few weeks the
eldest brother deserted the cause of the men of Aquitaine, and gave in
his submission once more to his father. Geoffrey, however, remained firm,
and, supported by the people, continued his opposition. Prince Henry
communicated with his brother through Bertrand de Born, and arranged that
a meeting should take place between his father and Geoffrey, for the
purpose of arranging terms of peace. When the king arrived at Limoges to
attend this conference, he was surprised to find the gates of the town
shut against him; and on presenting himself with a small escort before
the walls, and demanding admittance, he was answered by a flight of
arrows, one of which pierced his armour. An explanation ensued, when
this occurrence was declared to be a mistake, and the king entered the
town, and was met by Geoffrey in an open place, where they began the
conference. During the interview a second flight of arrows was discharged
from the walls of the castle adjoining, one of which struck the king's
horse on the head. Henry ordered one of his esquires to pick up the
arrow, and, taking it in his hand, he presented it to Geoffrey, with
words of sorrow and reproach.

[Illustration: The PLANTAGENET DOMINIONS in FRANCE, A.D. 1185.]

Henry the younger, finding his attempts at mediation frustrated, declared
that the men of Aquitaine were obstinate rebels, with whom he would never
more make peace or truce, but that he would remain true to his father at
all times. And yet a month had scarcely elapsed before he again quitted
his father, and entered into a league with his adversaries. The Pope
now interposed, and by his command the Norman clergy excommunicated
the disobedient son--a penalty which the perjuries of the prince had
once before called down upon him. It seems improbable that Henry the
younger was in the least disturbed by being under the ban of the Church;
but he was induced by some cause to return to his father, who received
him once more with forgiveness. The prince promised, in the name of
the insurgents, to surrender the town of Limoges; but if he had their
warranty for doing so, they soon repented of their determination. The
envoys of the king, who were sent to take possession of the town, were
butchered within the walls, and the people, whose national spirit was
thoroughly aroused, showed themselves resolved to put down all measures
of reconciliation.

Not long after these events, Henry received a message that his son,
having fallen dangerously ill at Château-Martel, near Limoges, was
anxious to see him. The king, who remembered the former dastardly
attempts upon his own life, as well as the recent assassination of his
soldiers, feared to trust himself again among these conspirators. He took
a ring from his finger, and giving it to the Archbishop of Bordeaux,
desired him to convey it immediately to the prince, with the assurance
of his father's love. The archbishop executed his mission, and Prince
Henry died with his father's ring pressed to his lips, confessing his
undutiful conduct, and showing every sign of contrition. The younger king
was twenty-seven years of age at the time of his death, which took place
on the 11th of June, 1183.

The death of the younger king caused a reconciliation between the several
members of this dissevered family. Even the Queen Eleanor was once more
taken for a while into favour; and in her presence, the Princes Geoffrey
and Richard, as well as their younger brother, Prince John, swore to a
solemn bond of final peace and concord (1184). The king, distrusting the
untamed disposition of his elder sons, appears to have extended his chief
favour and affection towards John. In a few months more the peace of
the family was again disturbed by Geoffrey, who demanded the earldom of
Anjou, and, on being refused, he went over to the French court. Here he
passed his time in amusement and dissipation, waiting an opportunity for
pursuing his schemes of ambition. One day, when engaged in a tournament,
his horse was thrown down, and the prince himself was trampled to death
by the horses of the combatants (1186).

Six years before the death of Geoffrey, Louis VII. of France had died,
and the throne became occupied by his son, Philip II., a young and
warlike prince. He it was who had welcomed Geoffrey to the French court,
and who now invited his brother Richard to enjoy the same honours. The
invitation was accepted, and a great friendship--which, however, was not
destined to endure in after years--sprang up between the two princes.
This state of things displeased Henry, who sent repeated messages to his
son, desiring him to return to England. After various excuses and delays,
Richard set out, apparently for that purpose; but on reaching Chinon,
where one of the royal treasuries was placed, he carried off the contents
by force. The money thus obtained was spent in fortifying castles in
Aquitaine, whither he immediately proceeded. The people of that province,
disgusted with the result of their previous rebellion, offered him no
support, and after a short time he was compelled to return to his father.
Henry, who had learnt to distrust the efficacy of the most solemn oaths,
collected a great assembly of the clergy and the barons to bear witness
to his son's new vows of good faith and duty.

In the following year (1187) the state of affairs in the Holy Land again
attracted the attention of the princes of the west. Jerusalem, with its
sacred treasures and relics, had again fallen into the hands of the
Mahometans, who were headed by a young and warlike prince, Saleh-ed-Deen,
commonly called Saladin. The Christian conquerors of the Holy Land were
suffering repeated defeats and misfortunes, and the Pope sent messages
to the princes of Europe, calling upon them to arouse themselves,
and take up arms in the cause of the Cross. Henry of England at once
responded to the call, and Philip having determined on a similar course
of action, a conference was determined upon between the two kings for
the purpose of arranging a permanent peace. The meeting took place, as
before, in the field beside the elm-tree between Trie and Gisors. Several
envoys of the Pope were present, among whom was the celebrated William,
Archbishop of Tyre. The eloquence of this man is said to have tended
greatly to the success of the negotiations. Suspending the settlement of
their differences, the two kings swore to take up arms as brothers in
the holy cause, and, in token of their pledge, each received from the
archbishop a cross, which he attached to his dress, the cross of the King
of England being white, and that of the King of France red.

Having held a council at Le Mans to deliberate upon the measures to be
pursued for taking the field, Henry returned to England; and a similar
council, composed of the barons of the whole kingdom, was held at
Geddington, in Northamptonshire. The lords determined that a tenth of
all property in the kingdom should be levied to meet the expenses of
the crusade; the tax was known as the Saladin tithe. The men of landed
property who accompanied the royal army were to receive the sum levied
on their lands, to enable them to take the field, the impost upon the
other parts of the country being applied to the use of the Crown. The
sum of £70,000, which was raised by this means, proving insufficient,
Henry extorted large sums of money from the Jews, and the people of that
unhappy race were compelled, by imprisonment and other severe measures,
to yield up their hoards. One-fourth of their whole property was thus
extorted from the Jews, and probably, in many cases, a much larger sum.

Notwithstanding all these preparations, and the solemn oath of the
two kings, the money thus obtained was not applied to the conquest of
Jerusalem. A quarrel took place between Prince Richard and Raymond of
Toulouse, and the people of Aquitaine, once more roused to rebellion,
profited by the dispute to form new leagues against the Plantagenet
government. The King of France joined the insurgents, and attacked
various castles and towns in the occupation of Henry. At length, after
a profitless contest of several months, the two kings met once more
under the old elm-tree, resolved to arrange a peace. No mockery of solemn
engagements took place on this occasion, and Henry and Philip separated
in anger, without having been able to come to an agreement. The young
King of France, enraged at the failure of the conference, cut down the
elm-tree, swearing by the saints that never more should a parley be held
under it.

This latter revolt, on the part of Richard, however unjustifiable it
might be, was not without some pretext. According to an agreement, made
in former years, between Henry II. and Louis VII., it had been determined
that Richard should marry Alice, King Louis's daughter, and the young
princess was placed in the hands of Henry, until she should arrive at a
marriageable age. The war, having broken out afresh, and the princes of
England being separated from their father, the marriage was deferred,
and it was currently reported that Henry had grown enamoured of her, and
even that she had become his mistress. It is related that, at the time
when his sons were at war against him, the king had determined to make
Alice his wife, and that an attempt which he made to procure a divorce
from the Queen Eleanor was to be attributed to this partiality. The court
of Rome, however, rejected his entreaties and presents, and refused the

What degree of truth may have existed in these reports cannot now be
determined, but it is certain that Henry detained the princess for a
number of years, resisting the demands of Philip, and even the order of
the Pope, that the marriage between her and Richard should take place.
Another plea urged by Richard in justification of his rebellion, was
his belief that his brother John was intended to succeed to the English
throne. No circumstances, however, are related by the historians giving
reasonable grounds for such an opinion. In November, 1188, another
conference took place, and this time at Bonmoulins, in Normandy. Philip
demanded that his sister should be immediately delivered up to her
affianced husband, and that Richard should be declared heir to the
English throne in the presence of all the barons of the two countries.
Henry, remembering the events which had followed the recognition of
the claims of his eldest son, refused to repeat an act which might be
attended with similar disturbances. Richard, enraged at this refusal,
turned from his father, and placing his hands in those of the King of
France, declared himself his vassal, and said that he committed the
protection of his hereditary rights into his hands. Philip accepted his
oath of fealty, and, in return, presented him with some towns conquered
by the French troops from his father. Henry quitted the spot in violent
agitation, and, mounting his horse, he rode to Saumur, there to make his
preparations for continuing the war.


At the news of this fresh rupture, the Bretons, who had been quiet for
two years, rose once more in revolt, and the men of Poitou declared for
Richard so soon as they perceived him to be finally separated from his
father. Many of the nobles and knights of Henry began to desert him, as
they had done before, and the party of his son, supported by the King of
France, increased in strength daily. On the other hand, the greater part
of the Normans remained faithful to their sovereign, and the Pope granted
Henry his assistance, causing sentence of excommunication to be declared
against all the adherents of the rebellious son. But Henry was no longer
young. The repeated vexations and misfortunes he had undergone--the
wounds he had received from the disobedience of his children--at length
produced their effect, and he resigned himself to sorrow, leaving to the
legate of the Pope and to the priests the care of his defence.

The French king attacked his territories in Anjou, while the Poitevins
and Bretons, headed by Richard, seized the royal towns and castles in
the south. The old king, whom grief and failing health had reft of all
his former energy, was compelled once more to sue for peace, and offered
to grant whatever terms might be demanded. Philip and Henry met, for the
last time, on the plain of Colombières, Richard remaining at a distance,
waiting the result of the interview. Philip demanded that the English
king should give in his allegiance to him, and place himself at his
mercy; that Alice should be committed to the care of persons appointed
by Richard, until his return from the Holy Land, whither he intended to
proceed immediately; that Henry should give his son the kiss of peace,
in token of entire forgiveness of the past, and should pay to the King
of France twenty thousand marks of silver, for the restitution of the
provinces which he had conquered.

According to Roger of Hoveden, a contemporary historian, the two kings
were talking in the open field, when suddenly, although the sky was
without a cloud, a loud clap of thunder was heard, and a flash of
lightning descended between them. They immediately separated in affright,
and when, after a short interval, they met again, a second clap, louder
than the first, was heard almost on the instant. The conference was
broken off, and Henry, whose weak state of health rendered him liable to
be seriously affected by any violent emotion, retired to his quarters,
where the articles of the treaty, reduced to writing, were sent to him.
Thus the historian would have us believe that Heaven itself interposed
to prevent the dishonour of the English king, and his submission to the
crown of France.

The envoys of Philip found the old king in bed, and while he lay there
they began to read out to him the articles of the treaty. When they came
to the part which referred to the persons engaged secretly or avowedly
in the cause of Richard, the king desired to know their names, that he
might at least learn who they were who had been his enemies. The first
name read to him was that of his youngest son, John, whom he had so long
believed to be loyal and dutiful. On hearing this name, the old man was
seized with a violent agitation or convulsion of the whole frame. Raising
himself half up, he exclaimed, "Is it, then, true that John, the joy of
my heart, the son of my love, he whom I have cherished more than all the
rest, and for love of whom I have brought upon myself these troubles, has
also deserted me?" Then falling back on the bed, and turning his face to
the wall, he said, in words of despair, "So be it, then; let everything
go as it will. I care no more for myself, nor for the world!"

Feeling that he grew rapidly worse, Henry caused himself to be conveyed
to Chinon, where he arrived in a dying state. In his last moments he
was heard to utter maledictions on himself as a conquered king, and to
curse also the sons he was leaving behind him. The bishops and lords who
surrounded him exerted themselves in vain to induce him to retract these
words, and he continued repeating them until death laid its finger on his
lips (July 6, 1189).

No sooner had this great king breathed his last, than his servants and
attendants, one and all, deserted his corpse, as had happened a century
before to his ancestor, William the Conqueror. It is related that these
hirelings stripped the body of their royal master of the very clothes
which covered him, and carried off everything of value from the chamber.
King Henry had desired to be buried at the abbey of Fontevrault, a few
leagues to the south of Chinon; but it was not until after considerable
delay that people could be found to wrap the body in a shroud, and convey
it thither with horses. The corpse was lying in the great church of the
abbey, waiting the time of sepulture, when Richard, who had received the
news of his father's death, arrived at Fontevrault. Entering the church,
he commanded the face of the dead king to be uncovered, that he might
look upon it for the last time. The features were still contracted, and
bore upon them the impress of prolonged agony. The son gazed upon the
sight in silence, and with a sudden impulse, he knelt down for a few
moments before the altar; then, rising up, he quitted the church, not to
return. An old superstition of the North, which had descended alike to
Normans and Saxons, was to the effect that the body of a murdered man
would bleed in the presence of the murderer; and some of the chronicles
relate that from the moment when Richard entered the church, until he
had again passed the threshold, blood flowed without ceasing from the
nostrils of the dead king. Thus it is evident that contemporary writers
regarded the conduct of the sons as having accelerated, if indeed it did
not cause, the death of their father.

Henry II. died on the 6th of July, 1189, at the age of fifty-six, having
reigned nearly thirty-five years. Of the king's personal character, very
different estimates have been formed by different historians. Those who
look at a many-sided character from their own narrow standpoint, will,
necessarily, paint that side only which is presented to them, leaving
the rest in shadow; and thus we find Henry II. described on the one hand
as a man almost without blemish, and, on the other, as utterly destitute
of public or private virtue. It appears probable that he had little
abstract regard for the welfare of the people, but he was fully alive to
his own interests, and he perceived those interests to be bound up in
the national prosperity. He therefore laboured to promote the well-being
of his subjects, as absolute monarchs, in later times, have done from a
similar motive. He was inordinately ambitious, and was heard to say, in
moments of triumph, that the whole world was a portion little enough for
a great man. He was skilled in the arts of diplomacy, and accustomed to
use dissimulation and falsehood whenever an advantage was to be gained

Instances have been given of the ungovernable fits of passion to which
Henry in his younger days was subject; these appear to have been much
less frequent as he grew past middle age. Without any self-control in
moments of anger, he was at other times remarkable for acting with calm
judgment and calculation. In his relations with women he was extremely
licentious. Among his mistresses was one who has been celebrated in
various romantic tales, most of which are without any foundation in
truth. "Fair Rosamond" was the daughter of Walter Clifford, a baron
of Herefordshire, whose castle was situated on one of the heights
overlooking the valley of the Wye, between the Welsh Hay and Hereford.
Henry fell in love with her before he ascended the throne, and she
bore to him two sons, who have been already mentioned as aiding their
father at the time of the partial rebellion in England. One of these was
William, called Longsword, from the size of the weapon which he carried,
who married the daughter of the Earl of Salisbury, and succeeded to his
estates; the other was Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln, and subsequently
Archbishop of York. While Henry was still a young man, Rosamond retired
to the convent of Godstow, near to Oxford, where, after a few years, she
died. During her residence there, Henry bestowed many valuable presents
upon the convent for her sake, and the nuns, who seem to have been
actuated by a personal regard for her, as well as by a recollection of
the benefits she had conferred upon them, buried her in their choir,
burning tapers round her tomb, and showing to her remains other marks
of honour. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, twenty years afterwards, gave the
nuns to understand that one who had led an impure life, even though
the mistress of a king, was not worthy to lie in the sacred edifice.
The repentance of Rosamond, which appears to have been sincere, was
not permitted to wipe away the shame of the past, and her body was
removed and buried in the common cemetery. The nuns, however, feared
no contamination from the poor remains of their frail sister, and they
secretly collected her bones, strewed perfumes over them, and buried
them once more in the church. The story of the bower of Rosamond, and
of the poisoned bowl forced upon her by the jealousy of Eleanor, cannot
be traced to any contemporary source, and must be rejected as devoid of

Whatever may be the view we take of the character of Henry as a man,
there can be no doubt that, as a king, he deserves a high place in
English history. In the stormy times of the Middle Ages, better were the
wrongs inflicted by an ambitious monarch, than the national corruption
and decay which attended the reign of a weak one. Under the rule of Henry
Plantagenet, the country made rapid strides in power and influence, and
reached that high position among the nations of Europe which it was
destined to maintain in later times.

[Illustration: CROWN OF THE TWELFTH CENTURY (_From the Tomb of Richard I.
at Fontevrault._)]




     Introduction of Norman Architecture--Remains of
     Saxon Work--Canterbury Cathedral--St. Albans and
     other Edifices--Periods of Norman Architecture--Its
     and Pillars--Capitals--Mouldings and Ornaments.

Edward the Confessor, who was more Norman than English, and more a
churchman than a king, had been brought up at the Norman court, where his
ideas and tastes had been formed. On his accession to the English throne
he introduced the Norman fashions and manners, filled his court with
Norman ecclesiastics, and adopted the Norman style of architecture for
his ecclesiastical buildings. Shortly before his death he built the abbey
church of Westminster, which is described by William of Malmesbury[34] as
being constructed in a "new style," and he also says that it served for a
model for many subsequent buildings. This edifice, which has long since
disappeared, was doubtless in the style he had imported from abroad,
and, though built by an English monarch, was, there can be no doubt,
a genuine Norman building. Numerous churches and monasteries, founded
on this model, are said to have sprung up in towns and villages in all
directions, and thus we see that the Norman style was established even
before the Norman conquest. That great event confirmed the changes which
the Confessor had begun, and the rude English churches were swept away
and replaced by the more finished Norman edifices.

The Normans were essentially a building people, and no building seems
to have been good enough for them, if they had the means of erecting
a better. Hence we see a continued change--a constant pulling down
and rebuilding on a larger scale, and to this must be ascribed the
disappearance of the buildings which had been erected before the
Conquest. It is chiefly in remote places, which were too poor to enlarge
their churches, that we still find remains of the original Saxon work. In
many of the smaller churches, which were erected soon after the Conquest,
the Saxon ideas still linger; the towers have the same proportions, and
the same general appearance prevails, but the workmanship is better;
the baluster disappears, and is replaced by a shaft, and the capitals
assume more of the Norman form. This lingering love for the old form
was, doubtless, owing to the necessary employment of Saxon workmen, who
naturally still clung to their national style; but in large buildings,
where foreign architects and workmen would be employed, the new style
would be exhibited in its purity.

Canterbury, St. Albans, Rochester, and Ely were built in the reign of
the Conqueror, but of these Canterbury is the most interesting, as it so
fully illustrates the history of architecture in this kingdom. There was
a Saxon cathedral on the spot at the time of the Conquest, but having
been destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt on an enlarged scale by the Norman
archbishop, Lanfranc, in 1070; but, within about twenty years, this
church was pulled down by his successor, as not being large enough, and
another erected on a more magnificent scale. This was again partially
destroyed by fire, and was again rebuilt in 1175 and the following
years. The history of the fire, and the subsequent rebuilding, has been
minutely given by Gervase, a monk of Canterbury, who was an eye-witness
of the whole; and his account is peculiarly valuable, as it enables
us to compare the style of the remains of the old building with that
erected under his own eyes; and we are by this means enabled to point
out the differences between the early and the late Norman buildings. His
narrative is clear and interesting, and his description of the present
building wonderfully correct.


St. Albans Abbey was built in the reign of the Conqueror, and in the
construction of the building the materials of the Roman city of Verulam
were freely used; so that a great part of it is built of Roman bricks.

The following cathedrals also were built in the Norman period, and
still retain portions of the original work:--Lincoln, Rochester, Ely,
Worcester, Gloucester, Durham, Norwich, Winchester, Peterborough, and
Oxford. Castles were erected in various parts of the kingdom, to restrain
the rebellious people, who could ill brook the tyranny of the Conqueror.
Of these the Tower of London is one of the most important, and the chapel
in the White Tower is one of the best examples (dated 1081) we possess
of early Norman, though, from its situation in a military building, it
has less of ornament than might otherwise have been expected. Of Norman
castles, the chief parts which remain are the keeps or principal towers,
and these have ordinarily one prevailing character. They are square
masses, not having much height in proportion to their breadth, and merely
relieved at the angles by slightly projecting turrets. The windows are in
general comparatively small, and the walls exceedingly thick--sometimes,
as at Carlisle, reaching to sixteen feet. Norwich, from its immense size,
is an excellent sample of this kind of tower, and Castle Hedingham is

Of the houses of this period many yet exist, though not in an entire
state; and of these some fine specimens are found in Lincoln,[35] where
they are said to have belonged to the Jews, but whose riches at that time
only led to their destruction.

Many rich and magnificent examples of monastic buildings of this date
occur in various parts of the kingdom.

Norman architecture may be divided into three periods--namely, Early,
Middle, or fully-developed, and Transition; the first extending from the
Conquest, or a few years previous, to the end of the reign of Henry I.,
1135; the second from the commencement of Stephen to nearly the end of
Henry II., 1180; after which date the Transition commences, and the style
gradually loses its characteristics until it merges in the succeeding, or
Early English style of the thirteenth century. Of the first period, the
chapel in the Tower of London has been already mentioned as an example;
the second includes most of our rich Norman buildings; and of the third,
the Temple Church is a good specimen.

The great characteristics of Norman architecture are solidity and
strength. Walls of an enormous thickness, huge masses of masonry for
piers, windows comparatively small, and a profusion of peculiar ornament,
seem to be essential to the full development of the style; and there is a
gloomy magnificence in a fine Norman building which is highly impressive;
its walls seem as firmly fixed in the earth as the iron foot of the
Conqueror was on the neck of a prostrate nation.

The distinctive features of Norman architecture may be thus summarised:--

TOWERS.--These are in general rather low for their breadth. They are more
massive than the Saxon ones which preceded them, and this is particularly
the case with the later buildings. Many of the church towers which were
built soon after the Conquest have very much of the Saxon character
remaining, and are proportionally taller than those of later date, but
the workmanship is better. A large belfry window, divided by a shaft, in
the upper storey, is a common feature; and the surface of the tower is
frequently ornamented with stages of intersecting or plain arcades, and
sometimes the whole surface is covered with ornament. The angles of the
tower are strengthened by flat buttresses having but little projection,
which sometimes reach to the top of the building, and sometimes only
to the first or second storey. The parapets of most Norman towers are
destroyed, and it is consequently difficult to say what they were
originally; but it seems probable that the towers terminated in a pointed
roof. Staircases were of common occurrence, and are frequently made very
ornamental features. St. James's Tower, Bury St. Edmunds, is an example
of an early Norman tower, exhibiting the flat, pilaster-like buttresses,
so characteristic of Norman work, and secondly, a porch flanked by two
pedimented buttresses, ornamented with corbel-tables and intersecting
arcades. The arch is plainer than it would have been at a later period,
but it shows the billet moulding which is also used on the buttresses.
The capitals are of the plain cushion form, and the pediment of the porch
exhibits the scalework surface ornament alluded to in p. 216.

WINDOWS.--These are universally round-headed, except in the Transition
period. The simplest form is a narrow round-headed opening, with a plain
dripstone; but they are frequently wider, and divided into two lights by
a shaft, and richly ornamented with the zigzag and other mouldings.

DOORWAYS.--These are the features on which the most elaborate workmanship
was bestowed by the Norman architects, and it is perhaps to be attributed
to this that so many of them have been preserved; the Norman doorway
having frequently been retained when the church was rebuilt. They are
always, except in the Transition period, semicircular, and are very
deeply moulded. They are frequently three or four times recessed, and are
richly ornamented with the peculiar decorations of the style, the most
characteristic of which is the zigzag or chevron moulding. A peculiar
head, having a bird's beak, and called a "beak-head," is frequently
used, and medallions of the signs of the zodiac are not uncommon. The
jambs of the door are ornamented with shafts which are sometimes richly
adorned, and have elaborately sculptured capitals. The doorway itself
is frequently square-headed, and the tympanum or space between this and
the arch is filled with sculpture representing the Trinity, the Saviour,
saints, or some symbolical design or monstrous animal, and sometimes
merely foliage. There are a few doorways which are trefoil-headed instead
of circular.


PORCHES.--The Norman porch is in general not much more than a doorway,
the little projection it has from the wall being intended chiefly to give
greater depth to the doorway, which is very deeply recessed, and it is in
these porches that we find the richest doorways, the arches and shafts
being overlaid with the utmost profusion of ornament, which, though
sometimes rude, always produces a fine effect, and there is scarcely any
architectural feature which has been so universally admired; other styles
may be more chaste and more finished, but there is a grandeur about a
rich Norman doorway which is peculiarly its own.

ARCHES.--The semicircular is the characteristic form of the Norman arch,
but there are a few early examples in which the pointed arch was used,
supported by massive piers; they are not likely to be mistaken for those
of the next style. In the Transition the pointed arch is very frequently
used. Sometimes the arch is brought in a little at the impost, when it is
called a horse-shoe arch; and sometimes the spring of the arch is above
the impost, and is carried down by straight lines. It is then said to be

PIERS AND PILLARS.--The piers in early buildings were very massive,
consisting frequently merely of heavy square masses of masonry, with
nothing but the impost moulding to relieve their plainness. Sometimes
they were recessed at the angles, and sometimes they were circular,
with capitals and bases, but still of very large diameter. As the style
advanced they were reduced in thickness, and had richly sculptured
capitals and bases, frequently ornamented with sculpture at the angles.
In the Transition period the pillars become slender and clustered, with
little to distinguish them from the next style. The Galilee at Durham
is an excellent example of late Norman; the round arch and the zigzag
mouldings are still retained, but the pillars are as slender as those of
Early English.

CAPITALS.--The capital is the member by which the styles are more easily
distinguished than by any other. In the Saxon style we have seen that
the Corinthian capital was rudely imitated; and we find in the Early
Norman this imitation continued, but with more resemblance to the
original, and this imitation was more and more complete as the style
advanced. The general form of the plain capital is that of a hemisphere
cut into four plain faces; this form is called a cushion capital. This
may be considered as the fundamental form from which other varieties
have been worked. It is sometimes doubled or multiplied, and sometimes
highly ornamented. The abacus, or upper member of the capital, will at
once distinguish the Norman from all other styles, and throughout Gothic
architecture it is the feature most to be depended on in distinguishing
one style from another. In the Norman it is square in section, with the
corner edge sloped or chamfered off. It is commonly quite plain, but
sometimes it is moulded, and sometimes highly ornamented; but in all
cases it retains its primitive and distinctive form. The capitals of the
Chapel in the Tower of London are excellent examples of Early Norman,
showing the volutes at the angles and the plain block in the centre,
in room of the caulicoli, and surrounded by a peculiar stiff kind of
foliage, the whole being an evident but rude imitation of the Corinthian
capital. The volutes and the centre block are common features of Early
Norman capitals, but the foliage is rare.

MOULDINGS AND ORNAMENTS.--These are extremely numerous; the ornamented
mouldings are almost endless in variety, but the most general is the
zigzag, which is used for decoration in all places, both simple and in
every variety of combination, sparingly in the early buildings, but
profusely in the later ones. The billet is much used in early work, as
is also a peculiar kind of shallow lozenge, and other ornaments which
required little skill in the execution.

[Illustration: CASTLE RISING, NORFOLK. (_After a Photograph by Poulton &

When large and otherwise blank spaces of walls, either on fronts or
towers, have to be relieved, it is frequently done by introducing stages
of intersecting arcades--a fine example of which occurs at Castle Rising,
in Norfolk.

There is a peculiar kind of ornament which is used to relieve surfaces
of blank spaces, either over the arches or the interior, or in the heads
of window-porches, &c. This is frequently called _diaper work_, and
consists either of lines cut in the stone in the form of a trellis, or in
imitation of scale-work, arches, &c.

A portion of a doorway from Durham Cathedral is engraved (_see p._ 215)
as an example of rich Norman, and exhibits the peculiar mouldings and
ornaments of the style. The dripstone shows a rude kind of foliage, on
which are placed at intervals medallions containing animals, &c. It is
not unusual for these to be occupied with the signs of the zodiac. The
arch exhibits a rich series of zigzags; the abacus of the capitals is
of the usual Norman form, but has its upright face ornamented with what
is an imitation of a classical form, generally known as the Grecian
honeysuckle. The capitals are of cushion shape, but overlaid with foliage
and monstrous animals. The shapes exhibit two varieties of ornamentation,
much used in very rich doorways. The first two are fluted spirally in
opposite directions, and the third displays a kind of diaper work, being
a modification of the zigzag, in which the interstices are filled with

[Illustration: RICHARD I.]



     Richard's Show of Penitence--His Coronation--Massacre of the
     Jews--Results of the Second Crusade--Richard raises Money
     for the Third Crusade--The Regency--Departure for the Holy
     Land--The Sicilian Succession--The Quarrel concerning Joan's
     Dower--Richard's Prodigality--His Interview with the Monk,
     Joachim--Treachery of Philip, and Richard's Repudiation of
     Alice--Richard's Betrothal to Berengaria--Adventures on the
     Coast of Cyprus, and the Conquest of the Island--The Siege of
     Acre and its Fall--Dissension between Richard and Philip, and
     Return of the Latter to France--Massacre of Prisoners on Both
     Sides--The Battle of Azotus--Occupation of Jaffa--The Advance
     towards Jerusalem--Quarrels among the Crusaders, and Negotiations
     with Saladin--Chivalry of Saladin--Death of Conrad, and Charges
     brought against Richard--Last Advance upon Jerusalem--Battle of
     Jaffa--Truce with Saladin.

No sooner had the monks of Fontevrault committed the body of Henry to
the grave, than Richard assumed the sovereign authority, and his first
acts were marked with all that energy and determination which afterwards
distinguished him. He at once gave orders that the person of Stephen of
Tours, seneschal of Anjou, and treasurer of Henry, should be seized. This
functionary was thrown into a dungeon, where he was confined with irons
on his feet and hands, until he had given up to the new king, not only
all the treasures of the crown, but also his own property. Richard then
called to his councils the advisers of his father, with the exception
of Ranulph de Glanville, and discarded those men who had supported his
own rebellion, not excepting even his most familiar friends. This
policy, which has been attributed by some historians to the repentance of
Richard, was more probably the result of profound calculation, and was
based upon sound reasoning. The men who were ready to plot against one
monarch, would not hesitate to do the same towards another, when occasion
served, or offence was given; while those who had supported the reigning
dynasty were the men upon whom the new king might most safely depend.

Messengers were immediately sent to England commanding the release of
the Queen Eleanor from the confinement into which she had been thrown
by Henry. On quitting her prison she was temporarily invested with the
office of regent, and during the short period of authority which she
thus obtained, she occupied herself in works of mercy and benevolence.
The long imprisonment she had undergone appeared to have softened her
imperious temper; she listened readily to those who had complaints
to lay before her, and pardoned many offenders against the crown.
Having proceeded to Winchester, where she took possession of the royal
treasures, she summoned a great assembly of the barons and ecclesiastics
of the country to receive the new monarch, and tender him their
allegiance. After a delay of two months, Richard crossed the channel,
accompanied by his brother John, and landed at Portsmouth. On his arrival
at Winchester he caused the gold and jewels of the crown to be weighed
in his presence, and an inventory made of them. A similar course was
pursued in the cities in which treasures of the late king had been
deposited. Richard was absorbed in the project of a grand expedition to
the Holy Land, which should reduce the infidel to permanent submission,
and place himself on the highest pinnacle of military renown. To this
circumstance we may in some degree attribute the fact that the ambitious
John permitted his brother to succeed to the throne without any attempt
to dispute his right. John probably calculated that in the king's absence
the actual sovereignty would devolve upon himself, and that the impetuous
Richard might never return from the dangers of the holy war. Apart from
these considerations, however, it is doubtful whether the weak temper of
John would have permitted him to rebel openly against his powerful and
energetic brother.

On the 3rd of September, Richard was crowned at Westminster, and the
ceremonial was conducted with great pomp and splendour. The procession
along the aisles of the cathedral was headed by the Earl of Albemarle,
who carried the crown. Over the head of Richard was a silken canopy,
supported by four lances, each of which was held by one of the great
barons of the kingdom. The Bishops of Bath and Durham walked beside the
king, whose path to the altar was spread with a rich carpet of Tyrian
purple. The ceremony was performed by Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury,
and Richard took the customary oath to fear God and execute justice. The
cloak, or upper clothing, of the king, was then taken off, sandals of
gold were placed upon his feet, and he was anointed with oil upon the
head, breast, and shoulders; afterwards receiving the insignia of his
rank from the state officers in attendance. Richard was then led to the
altar, where he renewed the vows he had taken; and, lifting with his
own hands the crown from off the altar--which he did in token that he
received it from God alone--he gave it to the archbishop, who placed it
upon his head.

The day of the new king's coronation was marked by an event which
resulted in an attack upon all the Jews assembled in the city, who were
barbarously murdered with their wives and children. In the Middle Ages,
while the science of finance was in its infancy, and men had not yet
learned to associate together for purposes of trade, the Jews were the
principal, if not the only, bankers of Christendom. There were no laws
in existence to regulate the interest of money, and their profits were
frequently enormous. The wealth which they thus obtained, no less than
the obnoxious faith to which they firmly adhered, caused them to become
objects of hatred to the people; and this feeling was increased at the
date of the new crusade, in consequence of the increased rate of interest
they demanded from men who were about to risk their lives in that
dangerous journey. During the reign of Henry II. the Jews had enjoyed
some degree of protection, and had, accordingly, increased in numbers and
wealth. In France they were less fortunate. On the accession of Philip
II. he had issued an edict ordering the banishment of all the Jews from
the kingdom, and the confiscation of their property. Hated by the people,
the persecuted race had no other hope than in the favour of the prince,
and, fearing that Richard might be disposed to follow the example of his
ally, the King of France, they determined to secure his protection by
presents of great value.



At the coronation of Richard, the chief men of the Jewish race proceeded
to Westminster to lay their offerings at his feet. Being apprised
of their intention, Richard, who is said to have feared some evil
influence[36] from their presence, issued a proclamation, forbidding
Jews and women to be present at Westminster on that day, either in the
church, where he was to receive the crown, or in the hall, where he was
to take dinner. Some of the Jews, however, trusting that the object of
their errand would excuse the breach of the royal command, attempted to
enter the church among the crowd, and were attacked and beaten by the
king's servants. A report was then rapidly circulated among the multitude
outside, that the king had delivered up the unbelievers to the vengeance
of the people. Headed by some of the lower class of knights and nobles,
who were not sorry to get rid of men to whom they owed large sums of
money, the crowd surrounded the unhappy Jews, and drove them along
the streets with staves and stones, killing many of them before they
could reach the doors of their houses. At night the excitement spread
throughout the town, and the populace attacked the dwellings of the hated
race in every direction. These being strongly barricaded from within,
were set on fire by the mob, and all the inmates who were not destroyed
in the flames, and who attempted to escape by the doors, were received on
the swords of their adversaries.

Preparations were now about to be made for the Third Crusade. The Second
Crusade, headed by Louis VII. of France and the Emperor Conrad of
Germany, had been a total failure. Although 200,000 persons perished in
it, it is not to be ranked in importance with those which preceded and
followed it. It was preached in 1146 with all the zeal of the celebrated
St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, who was noted equally for eloquence and
piety, but its acceptance was confined to France and Germany, and it took
the character of a great military expedition rather than of a popular
movement. The result of the expedition was disastrous, and the princes
returned in 1149 to Europe with only the scattered remnants of their
noble army. The events of this crusade being comparatively unimportant,
and having only an indirect connection with English history, it has not
been considered necessary to relate them in detail. The state of affairs
in the East, which induced the kings of France and England to determine
upon a third crusade, has been briefly referred to in a preceding
chapter. (_See pp._ 207-8).

To raise money for the expedition to Palestine, Richard adopted a policy
similar to that which, in the reign of Stephen, had so greatly reduced
the revenues of the state. He publicly sold the estates of the crown to
the highest bidder--towns, castles, and domains. Many rich Normans of low
birth thus became possessed of lands which, at the time of the Conquest,
had been distributed among the immediate followers of William; and many
men of English race availed themselves of the opportunity to recover the
houses of their fathers, and, under a quit rent, became the lawful owners
of their places of abode. The towns which concluded these bargains became
corporations, and were organised under a municipal government. Many of
these charters were made in the reigns of Richard I. and his successors.
In these transactions Richard appears to have been influenced solely
by his determination to obtain money, and when some of his courtiers
ventured to remonstrate with him, he said that he would sell London
itself, if he could find a buyer.

Titles and offices of state were sold without scruple. Hugh Pudsey,
Bishop of Durham, purchased the earldom of Northumberland, and also
obtained, for a payment of 1,000 marks, the chief justiciarship of the
kingdom. It has been already related that, at the time of Richard's
accession, this office was held by Ranulph de Glanville, a man of great
ability and undoubted probity. One account tells us that Glanville
resigned the office for the purpose of joining the crusade; but other
historians relate that he was driven from it by the king, who was willing
to obtain money even by the disgrace of an old and valuable servant
of the crown. Vacant ecclesiastical benefices were filled up by the
appointment of those who could best afford to pay for them. In addition
to the sums raised by these measures, Richard obtained 20,000 marks from
the King of Scotland, who in return was released from homage to the
English crown.

ALONG THE AISLE (_See p._ 218.)]

While Richard thus appeared to be making every preparation for the
expedition to the Holy Land, he showed no hurry to leave his new kingdom;
and Philip of France, with whom he had engaged to join his forces, sent
ambassadors to England to announce his intention to depart at the ensuing
Easter. Richard then convoked an assembly of the nobles of the kingdom,
and declared his intention to proceed to the Holy Land in company with
his brother of France. He placed the regency in the hands of William
Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, and Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham; the former
of whom succeeded, not long afterwards, in securing the entire authority
into his own hands. Prince John was thus deprived of the position
which he had calculated would fall to him, and he received by way of
compensation, a pension of 4,000 marks, the territory of Mortaigne in
Normandy, and the earldoms of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset. He
possessed, besides, Derbyshire, for his wife was the heiress of the Earl
of Gloucester.

[Illustration: VIEW IN GENOA: THE DOGANA.]

Early in the following year (1190) Richard crossed the Channel into
Normandy, and soon afterwards a meeting took place between the two kings
of France and England, at which they bound themselves to a compact of
brotherhood and alliance, each swearing to maintain the life and honour
of the other as he would his own. The death of the young Queen of France
caused a delay in the departure of the expedition, and it was not until
midsummer that the armies of the two kings assembled for that purpose.
The allied forces are said to have numbered 100,000, and having been
united on the plains of Vézelai, they marched in company to Lyons. At
this point the two kings separated. Philip, who possessed no ships or
seaport town on the Mediterranean, proceeded by land to Genoa, that
powerful republic having agreed to furnish a fleet of transports for the
convoy of his troops. Richard was in possession of the powerful fleet
built by his father for the voyage to Palestine, as well as of trading
vessels, which he had himself selected from different seaports, and he,
therefore, had no need to make the journey across the Alps. He proceeded
from Lyons to Marseilles, where he embarked.

Richard landed on the shore of the narrow strait which divides Sicily
from Calabria, whence he was conveyed to the harbour of Messina. The
French king had already arrived, and soon afterwards set sail with
the view of continuing his voyage to the East. His ships, however,
experienced bad weather, which compelled them to return to the port, and
the two kings then arranged to remain there during the winter.

The island of Sicily, which in the preceding century had been conquered
by the Norman lords of Apulia and Calabria, then formed, together with
a part of lower Italy, a kingdom which was under the control of the
Holy See. Not many years before, under the reign of William I., the
country had been in a prosperous condition, but now it was weakened by
internal dissensions, and in no position to offer a successful defence
to attacks from without. William II., surnamed the Good, had married
Richard's sister Joan, who bore to him no children. Anxious to preserve
the succession to his family, he caused his aunt, the Princess Constance,
who was the only legitimate member of the family, to be married to
Henry, son and heir of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. By securing to
her a powerful husband, able to support her claims, the king trusted to
overcome that opposition to a female sovereign which was likely to be
even greater in Sicily than in other countries of Europe. Constance,
at the age of thirty-two, was considerably older than her husband; but
her dower was rich, and this, joined to the prospect of the succession,
proved attraction sufficient for the young prince. He married her in the
year 1186, at Milan. In November, 1189, William the Good died, appointing
by his will that his aunt Constance should be his successor. The barons
of the kingdom had previously taken an oath of fealty to the princess,
but that oath, as well as the will of the king, was entirely disregarded.
The nobles were necessarily indisposed to submit to the rule of a foreign
prince, and the aggressions of the German emperors in the north of Italy
had given good cause for dread of any further increase of their power.
Constance and Henry were also out of the country at this critical moment,
and the barons, after various disputes among themselves, conferred
the crown upon Tancred, nephew to William the Good, though reputed to
be illegitimate by birth. The new king was hailed by the people with
acclamation, and was acknowledged by the Pope, Clement III., who sent him
the customary benediction. His reign, however, had no sooner commenced,
than various conspiracies were formed against him by the barons who had
been competitors for the throne, and though he had succeeded in reducing
these to submission, he was threatened by Henry, who had now become
emperor, and who was preparing a powerful army to support the claims of
his wife Constance.

Such was the position of affairs in Sicily at the time of the arrival
of the kings of England and of France. Both monarchs were received
by Tancred with every token of honour and hospitality; Philip was
entertained within the city of Messina, and Richard took up his quarters
in a house without the walls, situated in the midst of a vineyard. After
having remained for a very brief period in tranquillity, Richard found
in the position of his sister Joan a cause of quarrel with the King of
Sicily. At the time of the marriage of that princess with William the
Good, a splendid dower had been given to her by her husband, including
many towns and cities, and territory of considerable extent. When Tancred
ascended the throne, he withheld these broad lands, part of which,
however, were occupied by nobles who were in rebellion, and which,
therefore, it would not have been easy to deliver up. Richard first
demanded that his sister should be sent to him, and when the request
was complied with, he sent other messengers requiring the whole of her
dower. Without waiting for an answer the impetuous prince passed over
to the Calabrian shore, and seized possession of the castle of Bagnara.
Here he left his sister defended by a body of troops, and returned to
Messina. On the borders of the strait, overlooking the English camp,
there was a convent of Greek monks, having a strong natural position,
and capable of being easily fortified. Richard drove out the monks, and
placed in their stead a strong garrison, who turned the monastery into
a fortress, and issued thence on licentious excursions through the town
and the neighbourhood. The disorders of the foreigners at length aroused
the indignation of the Sicilians, who, jealous of the honour of their
wives and daughters, suddenly attacked the English, who were in the
city, and at the same time closed the gates of the town. The whole camp
speedily took to arms, and assembled without the walls, making a reckless
and unorganised assault upon them. Richard having received news of the
tumult, mounted his horse and rode hastily among his soldiers, beating
them back with a truncheon which he carried in his hand. By exertions
of this kind, joined to the influence of his character, he succeeded in
restraining his troops, not, however, before some animosities which had
arisen between them and the French soldiers had found vent in several
partial combats. The kings of France and England held a solemn meeting,
at which to arrange against future differences of this kind, as well as
to determine upon a peace with the Sicilians. On the hill overlooking
the Norman camp a number of the natives were assembled, and during the
conference they attacked a few stragglers from the camp. Having learnt
the cause of the uproar, Richard called his men to arms, drove the
Sicilians from the hill, and followed them to the walls of the city,
which the English now attacked under the direction of their prince.
The troops of Tancred made little resistance against their impetuous
assailants; the town was carried by storm, and Richard raised his banner
on the walls as though the town had become exclusively his. The jealousy
of Philip was excited, and a rupture took place between the two princes,
which was appeased only by the town being given into the hands of the
Knights Hospitallers and Knights Templars, who were to hold possession of
it until the claims of Richard against Tancred had been finally adjusted.

In addition to the territories assigned to Joan as a dowry, she was
entitled, as Queen of Sicily, to a golden table, twelve feet long, and a
foot and a half broad; a golden chair; two golden trestles for supporting
the tables: twenty-four silver cups, and as many silver dishes. William
the Good had left in his will to Henry II. a contribution towards the
Holy War, in which that prince was proposing to engage. This legacy
consisted of a tent of silk to accommodate 200 persons seated, 60,000
measures of wheat and 60,000 of barley, with 100 armed galleys, equipped
and provisioned for two years. Henry II. died before his son-in-law,
and, therefore, Richard could prefer no legal claim in right of his
father. He, nevertheless, demanded that all these things should be given
up to him, as well as the treasures to which his sister was entitled.
An agreement was ultimately entered into, by which a sum of 20,000 gold
ounces was paid to Joan, and a further sum of 20,000 ounces to Richard,
in satisfaction of their several demands. The legality of Richard's claim
was not acknowledged, but the money was paid to him ostensibly on a
treaty of marriage, which was concluded between his young nephew Arthur
and an infant daughter of Tancred. The payment thus took the form of a
dower, and was to be returned in case either of the children died before
they reached a marriageable age.

The money of which Richard thus became possessed was lavished with the
utmost prodigality. His tastes were magnificent; and the extraordinary
fame which he had acquired throughout Europe was due no less to his own
gigantic strength and brilliant valour than to the glittering halo of
romance which surrounded him, and the splendour with which he dazzled
the eyes of his followers. Soldiers of fortune of every country came to
offer their swords to Cœur-de-Lion, and were received with welcome
and entertainment. Tournaments and spectacles of various kinds succeeded
each other; the sounds of mirth and music resounded through the camps;
troubadours and jongleurs offered their feats of skill, or songs of war
and beauty, secure of a liberal reward. Relying upon his strong arm to
replenish his coffers, Richard showered gifts and largesses upon all
comers; and at a great banquet which he gave to the knights of both
armies, he sent away each of his guests with a large present of money.
Thus, throughout the winter the soldiers of the North gave themselves up
to luxury and pleasure under the sunny sky of Sicily. But Cœur-de-Lion
was no mere voluptuary. If, in many respects, he bore a resemblance
to the gallant but ill-fated Robert of Normandy, he possessed, at the
same time, a degree of intellectual power and energy little inferior to
that of William the Conqueror. Amidst the glare of rich banquets and
gorgeous spectacles, amidst the tinkling of harps whose strings were
attuned to flattery, and the glances of bright eyes, which brought their
tribute of admiration to the young prince of the Lion Heart, his ardent
nature languished and longed for activity. There was a strong impulsive
force within the men of those days, which rendered exertion the only
pleasure--ease and rest a punishment not to be endured. Cut off for a
time from the excitements of battle, Richard sought occupation in the
field of theological controversy and the exercises of religion.

At this time a certain Calabrian monk, named Joachim, Abbot of Curacio,
had made himself famous throughout Europe by his writings and preachings
against the abuses of the court of Rome. We have already seen how at
intervals, during the Middle Ages, some sandalled monk would rise up
from obscurity, and, by the mere force of intellect, with no advantages
of outward circumstances, would obtain a power over the minds of men,
compared with which that of princes was as nothing. This influence was
of a purely personal nature, and was attained by the gift of eloquence.
The books which Joachim had written would have availed little--they
appealed only to the few who could read them, and to posterity--but the
_man_ could speak his thought in the ear of the present. We know little,
in these later times, of the meaning of the word eloquence--we apply it
to what is written, to thoughts expressed upon inanimate paper--dull and
lifeless, as words from the mouth of a statue. The growth of civilisation
is unfavourable to eloquence, for civilisation is built up of laws and
customs, and the language of the heart defies all law, and pays no
deference to expediency. The modern teacher dare not trust his heart.
Sermons are written, speeches are prepared, periods carefully rounded,
sentiments weighed in the nicest balance--even the tone of the voice
and the motion of the arm--are studied beforehand under a master. The
influence attained is exactly commensurate with the means employed, and
the listeners find themselves on a level of caution, equally removed from
danger on the one hand, or from excellence on the other. But such a level
is not the normal condition of the human mind. When, at rare intervals,
the torch of enthusiasm is lighted by some earnest man, thousands will
burst away to follow the flame, though it lead them to utter destruction.

Richard Cœur-de-Lion, like his ancestors, recognised that subtle force
of intellect whose influence among men surpassed that of laws or armies.
He heard of the fame of the Abbot Joachim, and desired to see him. The
king and the monk met together at Messina, where a long theological
discussion took place between these strange disputants. Joachim, like all
the other clergy of the age, gave his authority in favour of the Crusade.
He assumed the gift of inspiration, and, like a prophet of old, told the
king to go forth and conquer: the infidel should be scattered before the
Christian host, and the banner of the Cross be raised once more over the
walls of Jerusalem. These were but the ravings of fanaticism, and were
utterly falsified by the event; but their influence, meanwhile, was none
the less upon those who listened and regarded the speaker as a prophet.
Richard's mind was of higher order, and he is said to have called the
monk a vain babbler, whose words were unworthy of attention. It is not
probable, however, that he expressed such an opinion publicly, for he
could not be insensible to the effect of such predictions upon the minds
of his soldiers.

Not long after this discussion, Richard rode to the town of Catania,
where he had appointed to meet Tancred for the first time. With all the
state and magnificence suited to the occasion, the two kings walked in
procession to the church, where, forgetting all former differences, they
took vows of mutual friendship, and performed their devotions together
before the shrine of St. Agatha. On the return of Cœur-de-Lion to
Messina, the Sicilian king accompanied him for many miles, and at the
moment of parting gave into his hands a letter written by Philip of
France, in which Philip proposed to ally himself with Tancred, and to
drive the English monarch out of the country.

Some days elapsed before Richard made any use of this communication;
but he met Philip with haughtiness and reserve, and frequent disputes
took place between them. At length, during one of these altercations,
Cœur-de-Lion suddenly produced the letter, and asked whether he knew
the handwriting. Philip indignantly declared it to be a forgery, and
accused Richard of seeking a cause of quarrel, by which means he might
break off his contract of marriage with the Princess Alice, Philip's
sister. Richard replied calmly that he could not marry the lady Alice,
since it was well known that she had borne a son to his father, King
Henry. This circumstance, if true, was well known to Richard during his
father's lifetime, when he had so frequently demanded that his bride
should be given up to him--a request which, it is evident, had merely
been made as a pretext for rebellion. Richard now offered proofs of what
he had alleged, and, whatever may have been the force of these proofs,
Philip consented to give up the contest. In the days of chivalry, as
now, money was accepted in compensation for breaches of such contracts,
and Philip sold the honour of his sister for an annual pension of 2,000
marks for five years. For this sum he gave Richard permission to marry
whomsoever he pleased.

Cœur-de-Lion had already chosen his bride. Some three years before,
while staying at the court of Navarre, he had fallen in love with
Berengaria, daughter of the king of that country. The young princess
is described as having been very beautiful, of extremely youthful and
delicate appearance, presenting in every respect the most striking
contrast to the robust frame and gigantic presence of her lover. Their
passion seems to have been more romantic and sincere than usually happens
in similar cases. It is certain that Richard asked for no dowry with his
bride, sought for no political advantages, but merely dispatched his
mother, Queen Eleanor, to ask the lady's hand. Such conduct alone might
have won the heart of Berengaria, even though she had not been already
interested in his favour. Undeterred by the dangers and difficulties of
the journey across the Alps, she at once set out to join her intended
husband. The queen and the princess travelled with a suitable escort, and
reached Naples in safety. Thence they passed on to the city of Brindisi,
where they waited until the French king should have departed to the Holy
Land. Philip set sail for Acre on the 30th of March, 1191; and Richard,
at the same time, proceeded to Reggio, on the coast of Calabria, where he
took on board his bride, with Queen Eleanor, and carried them to Messina.
The season of Lent being not yet over, the marriage was deferred; and
Eleanor, having confided her charge to her own daughter, Joan, returned
to England.

(_See p._ 226.)]

Within a few days afterwards the English fleet was ready for sea, and
passed with a stiff breeze through the straits of Messina. More than 200
vessels were there, some of large size, with three masts, and all well
appointed, and gaily decked with the banners of the crusaders. Never
before had so gallant an armament been seen in those waters; and as the
brilliant pageant moved away, the Sicilians gathered in multitudes on
the shore with cries of admiration. In those days war was, with half
the world, the business of life; women did not hesitate to share the
dangers of those whom they loved, and the smile of beauty was at once the
incentive and the reward of valour. Joan and Berengaria accompanied the
expedition, and Richard, with a delicacy which belonged to his chivalrous
character, fitted up a splendid galley, which was allotted to their
separate use.

The fleet was not destined to proceed far in such gallant trim. Within
a very few hours a heavy storm arose, and many of the ships, dismasted
and at the mercy of the waves, were cast ashore and broken to pieces.
Richard himself narrowly escaped shipwreck, and was compelled to put into
the island of Rhodes, not knowing what had become of the vessel of his
bride. While he lay there in the greatest anxiety of mind, he learnt that
two of his ships had been wrecked on the coast of Cyprus, and that his
people had been plundered and cast into prison by the natives. Vowing
vengeance, Richard collected all the vessels which had arrived at Rhodes,
and immediately proceeded to the succour of the captives. On approaching
the harbour of Limasol in Cyprus, he fell in with the galley of Joan
and Berengaria who, like himself, had escaped from the storm, but had
hesitated to trust themselves nearer to the shore.

The island of Cyprus was at that time colonised by the Greeks, under the
rule of a prince of the race of the Comneni, named Isaac, who called
himself "Emperor of Cyprus." This mighty monarch of a score of square
miles seems to have known little of the character of the English king,
for when Richard demanded satisfaction for the injuries done to the
crusaders, he returned an arrogant refusal, and drew up his soldiers in
battle array upon the shore. Cœur-de-Lion immediately landed a body
of troops, who put to flight the half-naked men of Cyprus, and took
possession of the city.

Isaac now sent in his submission to the conqueror, and on a plain near
Limasol a conference took place between them. Richard demanded, not only
an indemnity in money, but also that the "Emperor of Cyprus" should do
homage to him, and should accompany him to Palestine with a thousand of
his best warriors. The daughter and heiress of Isaac was to be placed
in Richard's hands as a hostage for the good faith of her father. The
Greek, with that mixture of shrewdness and deceit characteristic of his
race, consented to these terms, and on the same night he escaped from the
guards placed over him by Richard, and organised new plans, which proved
as vain as before, to resist the invaders.

Leaving a garrison at Limasol, Richard sailed round the island, capturing
all the ships of the Cypriotes, and taking possession of their towns.
Nicosia, the capital, surrendered with little resistance, and among the
prisoners who fell into his hands was the young princess, the daughter
of Isaac. The "Emperor" loved his child, and when he heard of her
capture he made no further resistance; but quitting a monastery in
which he had fortified himself, he placed himself at once in the power
of Richard, fell at his feet, and prayed that his daughter might be
restored to him. Cœur-de-Lion refused the request, and committed him
to prison, directing that, in consideration of the rank he assumed, he
should be bound with chains of silver instead of iron. It is difficult to
understand how any rational being should have derived satisfaction from
such a distinction; but it appears that the "Emperor of Cyprus" did so,
and expressed himself much gratified by the honour done him.

At Limasol there were great stores of provisions of all kinds, and a
splendid festival was prepared to celebrate the landing of the Princess
Berengaria. Here, at length, Cœur-de-Lion claimed his bride, and the
marriage ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Evreux. For a few days
the accoutrements of war were put aside, the songs of the minstrels were
again heard through the camp, and the sweet wine of Cyprus lent its
intoxicating influence to the scene of revelry. Richard, however, was
pre-eminently a soldier; martial glory was his true mistress, and he did
not long delay the expedition on which he was engaged. In a little more
than a month after his arrival at Cyprus the fleet set sail for Acre, and
arrived there on the 8th of June.

All the chivalry of Europe was collected before this city, which was
regarded as the key to the Holy Land. Hospitallers and Templars, priests
and princes, knights of high and low degree, from every Christian
country, had flocked to lay down their lives in a cause which they
believed to be sacred. For two years before the arrival of Richard
the siege had been carried on with all the military skill of the age;
but, while thousands[37] of the besiegers fell victims to disease and
privation, or to their own desperate valour, the city still held out, and
its massive walls defied the force of the mightiest engines of war. Each
month brought new reinforcements to the banner of the Cross, and thus
an army, to which Europe could find no equal, maintained its numerical
strength while the work of death went on.

Saladin, one of the greatest names in Eastern history, had posted
his immense forces upon the heights about Mount Carmel, whence he
watched the great armament of Richard, still numbering more than one
hundred sail, as it advanced into the roadstead of Acre. The fame of
Cœur-de-Lion had gone before him, and the crusaders hailed his
approach with shouts of rejoicing. Gay banners flashed in the sun,
and trumpets and drums sounded their loudest note of welcome. Philip,
however, could not witness without envy the power and splendour of his
ally. Not many days elapsed before a quarrel took place between them; and
each refusing to act in concert with the other, made separate attacks
upon the town, in the hope of obtaining the exclusive honour of the
capture. Both of these ill-judged attempts were unsuccessful, and were
attended with heavy loss.

At length the brave garrison of Acre, cut off from all supplies, were
compelled to offer terms of capitulation. They agreed to surrender
possession of the city, together with all the Christian prisoners it
contained, and the wood of the true cross. A sum of 200,000 pieces of
gold was to be paid by Saladin within forty days, as a ransom for the
lives of the inhabitants, several thousands of whom were retained as
hostages for the performance of these conditions.

The Army of the Cross entered Acre on the 12th of June, 1191, and at
the same time Saladin withdrew from the neighbouring heights, and
proceeded a short distance into the interior to concentrate his forces.
Soon afterwards Philip of France expressed his intention to return to
Europe. The reason he gave for doing so was the bad state of his health;
and it is not improbable that this prince, who seems to have possessed
neither the occasional religious impulses nor the warlike spirit of
Cœur-de-Lion, should have found the first approaches of disease
sufficient to deter him from the toils and dangers of a journey to the
Holy Sepulchre. Other causes were, however, at work. The title of King of
Jerusalem was still a subject of dispute among the crusaders, although
the city itself was now in the hands of the infidel. The crown had been
assumed by Guy of Lusignan, in right of his wife Sybilla, a descendant
of Godfrey of Bouillon. During the siege of Acre, Sybilla died; and her
sister Isabella, who had married Conrad of Montferrat, Prince of Tyre,
put in her claim to confer the title on her husband. While Philip had
declared in favour of Conrad, Richard--who seems to have acted merely
from the desire of opposing his ally--supported the cause of Lusignan,
and acknowledged him King of Jerusalem. In this, as in every other
dispute between the two monarchs, Philip was compelled to yield; but
he did so with an ill grace, and it was hardly to be expected that the
King of France could long submit to such a course of humiliation. He
determined to return to his own country, where his will was law, and his
power absolute; and where, too, he might have opportunity, during the
absence of the English king, to seize upon some portion of the latter's
territories, and extend the rather circumscribed limits of the French

Richard at first received the news of Philip's intended departure with
a malediction, calling down shame upon his head for deserting the holy
cause in which he was engaged. The feeling of anger seems soon to have
given place to something like contempt, for Cœur-de-Lion added, "Let
him go, if his health needs it, and he cannot live away from Paris." But
the probable designs of the French king were not overlooked; and he was
compelled to take an oath that he would make no aggression upon English
territories during the absence of Richard in Palestine. He also agreed to
leave at Acre 10,000 men, commanded by the Duke of Burgundy, but under
the control of Cœur-de-Lion.

Soon after Philip quitted Acre, the term of forty days appointed for the
ransom of the Saracen captives expired. No ransom had been received.
The messengers of Richard, who made their way into the presence of the
soldan, were received with the highest courtesy, and were dismissed with
costly presents to their master; but to the demand for money Saladin
returned no answer. It was reported among the crusaders that he had
massacred the Christian prisoners in his power; and a great excitement
arose among the troops at Acre, who called loudly for vengeance. And now
took place one of the worst of those atrocious deeds which stain the
history of the crusades. On the forty-first day, under the orders of
Richard and the Duke of Burgundy, the unhappy Saracen captives were led
out beyond the camps, and were there butchered without mercy, some few
rich men only being spared, in the hope that large sums would be obtained
for their ransom.[38] So blinded were the crusaders by their fanatic
zeal, that this massacre in cold blood was regarded by the perpetrators
as a righteous deed, acceptable to Heaven.

On receiving the news of the massacre, Saladin put to death all the
Christian prisoners in his hands. Such an act of retaliation, however
it may now be regarded, was in accordance with the usages of the time;
and it is hardly to be expected that the Moslem should display more
mercy than the Christian. With hands reeking with the blood of their
victims, the crusaders returned to the city, where they gave themselves
up to debauchery and excess. Many of them would probably have been
well disposed to go no farther; but Richard roused them once more into
activity, and his will was not to be resisted. He left his young wife
and his sister behind him, defended by a strong garrison, and strictly
forbade women of all ranks from accompanying the army. He quitted Acre
on the 22nd of August, with about 30,000 men, of all the nations of
Christendom, and took his way along the sea shore towards Ascalon.
Saladin, whose scouts were everywhere, was speedily apprised of the
march of the crusaders; and he appeared at a distance with a great army,
hovering about them, and keeping them continually in expectation of
attack. The troops of Richard, however, marched fearlessly on; and when,
after a day's march across those burning plains, exhausted by the weight
of their heavy armour, they reached a halting-place, a herald stood forth
from each camp, and cried aloud three times, "Save the Holy Sepulchre!"
and the whole army knelt down, and said, "Amen!" Human nature displays
the most striking contrasts where the fortunes of men are subject to
extremes of vicissitude; and thus the soldiers who one day were engaged
in acts of brutal cruelty or sensuality, on the next might be seen
marching to the death with a devotion which, if mistaken, was not the
less sublime.

[Illustration: RICHARD AT THE BATTLE OF AZOTUS. (_See p._ 229.)]

When Richard had advanced as far as Azotus he was opposed by the Saracen
forces, ranged in order of battle. Saladin, whose skill as a general
was scarcely inferior to that of Cœur-de-Lion himself, conducted the
attack in person; and for a time the Christian troops gave way before
him. Richard, who commanded the centre of the army, waited with great
coolness until the Saracens had exhausted their arrows; then placing
himself at the head of his knights, and brandishing the formidable
battle-axe which was his favourite weapon, he rushed upon the enemy,
slaying with his own hand all who fell within his reach. Many of
the feats of valour attributed to him by the chroniclers are wholly
incredible; but after making all reasonable deduction for exaggeration,
enough remains to prove that Cœur-de-Lion deserved the proud surname
which he bore, and that his strength and valour were alike without
parallel. The Saracen army, numerous as it was, could not withstand the
charge of the mail-clad warriors of Europe; and Saladin was compelled to
beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind him seven thousand dead upon the

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN NEAR JAFFA.]

Richard advanced to Jaffa--the Joppa of the Bible--of which city he
obtained possession without opposition; but here a delay took place,
which proved fatal to the success of the expedition. Some of the chief
men of the army alleged that it would be necessary to repair the
fortifications of Jaffa, for the purpose of placing it in a condition
of defence. The soldiers, remembering the pleasures of Acre, willingly
adopted a pretext which afforded a new opportunity of rest and enjoyment;
and Richard himself, attracted by the field-sports to be obtained in
the neighbourhood, appears to have laid aside for a time his customary
energy. Saladin, who had recovered from his defeat, and was intent upon
vengeance, was known to be in the neighbourhood, with an army even larger
than before; but Cœur-de-Lion, undisturbed by this circumstance, rode
about the country with a small escort. Many strange adventures are told
in connection with these expeditions; and it would appear that Richard
was often in imminent danger of being captured--a fate from which his
courage or good fortune invariably saved him.

Various negotiations now ensued, which appear to have led to nothing,
and were probably devised by the Saracens merely to gain time. The envoy
who passed between the two camps on these occasions was Saif-ed-Deen, or
Saphadin, the brother of Saladin, who was a man of great ability, and
who conducted his missions in such a manner as to gain the favour of
Cœur-de-Lion. At length, in the month of November, the fortifications
of Jaffa were completed, negotiations were broken off, and the crusaders
resumed their march. The sky was black with tempest, and as they crossed
the plain of Sharon, where now the rose and lily of the valley bloomed no
longer, a violent wind arose, and thick rain began to fall. The heaviest
storms are found in those countries where the sun shines brightest,
and it was now the commencement of the rainy season. The soldiers of
the Cross, ill provided with protection against such weather, pitched
their camp at Ramula, the Arimathea of Scripture; but the streams which
descended from the mountains inundated the encampment, and the winds
tore up the tents which were their only shelter. Struggling on wearily,
they reached Bethany, which was within twelve miles of Jerusalem, but
here they found it impossible to proceed farther. Famine and disease had
decimated the troops, and those who were still able to bear arms were ill
suited to cope with an enemy. Richard was therefore compelled to retrace
his steps, and he marched back rapidly to Ascalon, there to recruit his

The fortifications of Ascalon had been dismantled by Saladin; but
Cœur-de-Lion, whose energetic spirit no reverses could subdue, set
himself immediately to restore the defences, and appeared among his men
doing the work of a mason. Novelist or romancer never imagined more
striking contrasts than are presented to us in the sober records of
the Middle Ages, and thus we find the king who lately was the centre
of unexampled pomp and splendour at Messina, now wielding the trowel
and the pickaxe upon the walls of Ascalon. The example set by Richard
was attended with the best effects; princes and nobles, bishops and
their clergy, worked beside him as masons and carpenters, thinking it
no shame to do what the King of England had done. The only exception
was the Archduke of Austria, and on his refusal, it is related that
Cœur-de-Lion kicked or struck that prince, and turned him and his
retainers out of the town.

Having placed Ascalon in a condition of defence, Richard restored other
fortifications destroyed by Saladin along the coast. These works,
however, were attended with a vast expense, and Richard's generosity,
which appears to have been without stint, whether much or little was at
his command, hastened the exhaustion of his finances. The French and
other foreign troops attached to his army were kept together by the
largesses he gave them; but as the treasury became empty they relaxed in
their obedience, and their national animosities found vent in repeated
quarrels and disturbances. The dispute between Conrad of Montferrat
and Guy of Lusignan for the crown of Jerusalem was renewed. Conrad,
whose character was vacillating and treacherous, was nevertheless a man
of considerable ability and of high military renown. Having secured
the assistance of the Genoese, he defied the power of the King of
England, and a civil war appeared to be imminent among the Christians
of Palestine. The Pisans, whose old hatred against the Genoese led them
to take the opposite side, declared for Lusignan, and frequent combats
took place in the very streets of Acre between the opposing factions.
Richard quitted Ascalon, and succeeded in repressing these tumults. He
endeavoured to restore unanimity to the army, and to conciliate the
Marquis of Montferrat; but that haughty chief rejected his offers, and
entrenched himself in the town of Tyre, with a number of disaffected
soldiers of different nations who had joined his standard.

Saladin soon became aware of the dissensions in the Christian army, and
he made preparations for striking what he hoped would be a decisive
and successful blow. But in the meanwhile he was unexpectedly met by
proposals for peace from Cœur-de-Lion, who sent him word that he
demanded only the possession of Jerusalem and the wood of the true Cross.
The soldan returned for answer that the blessed city[39] was as dear to
the Moslem as to the Christian, and would never be delivered up except by

The unusual course pursued by Richard was not to be attributed to such
an inadequate cause as the disaffection of a part of his troops. He had
lately received letters from his mother, Queen Eleanor, and from William
Longchamp, whom he had appointed chancellor in his absence, detailing
various conspiracies which were fraught with the greatest danger to the
throne. It is not necessary to interrupt the narrative for the purpose of
relating the particulars of these matters; they will be given in detail
when the history returns to the consideration of events in England.
It is enough to say that they were of a nature to cause the greatest
disquietude, even to the strong mind of Cœur-de-Lion. It is reported
that he set on foot new negotiations with Saladin, which continued
for some time, and that he even proposed that the contest should be
terminated by the marriage of his own sister Joan with Saphadin, the
brother of the Sultan. This extraordinary scheme, if it ever really was
entertained, was defeated by religious obstacles; the clergy launching
the thunders of the Church against all those who should sanction the
union between a Christian princess and a chief of the infidels.

Saladin had abilities of a very high order, joined to bodily strength
little inferior to that of Cœur-de-Lion himself. He was skilled in
the learning of the East, and he possessed that refinement of manners
which was induced by the usages of chivalry. The virtues of a warlike
age appeared in him pre-eminently; he was brave, generous, and true to
his word, preserving his plighted faith with a degree of scrupulousness
not often observed even by the princes of Christendom. Descended from
the race of the Seljuks, he had embraced the religion of Mahomet, whose
doctrines taught him to pursue to utter destruction all the enemies of
the Prophet. But Saladin was no bigoted Mussulman, and when the foes he
had conquered appeared before him as suppliants, he seldom failed to
grant the mercy they implored. It is needless to say that this picture
has its reverse, and that the character of the great soldan was not
altogether blameless. He was in the highest degree ambitious, and his
elevation to the throne was obtained by the unscrupulous shedding of
blood. He trampled down all who stood in his way; but having attained
that elevation, he proved himself a wise and just monarch, and his rule,
of the whole, was free from tyranny.

The soldan and the Christian king, both on whom stood far above their
contemporaries in military prowess and ability, had learnt mutual
respect, and not all the injuries which each had inflicted on the other
had power to subdue this feeling. Great minds can afford to be generous,
and the depreciation of the merits of a rival seldom arises from any
other cause than a consciousness of inferiority. Saladin and Richard met
together many times with interchanges of courtesy, and the soldiers of
both armies mingled in the tournament and in other martial exercises.
Where the laws of chivalry prevailed, the warrior sheathed his enmity
with his sword, and would have regarded it as a foul stain upon his
knighthood to doubt for a moment the faith pledged to him by a foeman.

Pilgrims were continually arriving in the Holy Land from Europe, and from
each traveller who appeared in the presence of Richard, he learnt news
which compelled him to hasten his return to England, although he had
sworn never to abandon the expedition so long as he had a war-horse to
eat. In the hope of establishing peace among all parties, he consented
that Conrad of Montferrat should be crowned King of Jerusalem, and gave
to Lusignan, by way of compensation, the island of Cyprus. It is probable
that the energetic character of Conrad might ultimately have enabled him
to obtain possession of Jerusalem, but at the time when he was preparing
for his coronation he was murdered in the streets of Tyre, by two men
of the sect of the Assassins. This name, then quite new to the languages
of Europe, was applied to those fanatical Moslems who devoted themselves
to assassinating the enemies of their faith by surprise, in the belief
that they should thus secure admission into paradise. In the mountain
defiles of Lebanon there lived a whole tribe of these enthusiasts, under
the rule of the Old Man[40] of the Mountain, a mysterious chief, whose
name became a sound of terror throughout Europe. They were called in
Arabic "Haschischin," from an intoxicating plant (_haschisch_, Chang)
well known in the East, which they made use of to stupefy the brain and
excite themselves to their desperate deeds of blood.

[Illustration: JAFFA, FROM THE SANDS.]

It would appear that Conrad was murdered in revenge for certain injuries
which he had inflicted upon this extraordinary people. An Arabic writer
relates that when the two Assassins were seized and put to the torture,
they confessed that they had been employed by the King of England; but
this account differs from others, and is so completely at variance with
all we know of the Assassins, as well as of the character of Richard,
that it may be at once rejected as fabulous. Apart from the arguments
which may be adduced to show, from the previous arrangements of the king,
that he had no anticipation of the death of Conrad, the whole tenor of
the life of Cœur-de-Lion serves to prove that he was not the man to
strike a foe in secret. The French and German factions, however, at once
spread a report that he had instigated the murder, and letters were sent
to Philip of France containing the same news. Philip, who contemplated
a descent upon the English territory, eagerly seized a pretext for his
treason. He applied to the Pope to release him from his oath of peace,
and declared that he had received a caution that the King of England had
sent some of those dreaded Assassins of the East to murder him.

During the tumult which followed the death of Conrad, Count Henry of
Champagne, the nephew of Richard, appeared on the scene, and the people
of Tyre placed him in possession of the town, as well as of the other
territories held by their late prince. Soon afterwards Henry married the
young widow of Conrad, receiving with her hand the title to the imaginary
crown, and he was generally acknowledged by the crusaders as King of

[Illustration: RICHARD LANDING AT JAFFA. (_See p._ 234.)]

With each succeeding month the need for the presence of Richard in
England appeared the greater; but he concealed his uneasiness, and, with
the view of repressing the growing discontent in his army, he publicly
proclaimed his intention to remain for another year in Palestine.
Laying aside for a time all considerations connected with affairs at
home, he determined to give his whole energies to bring to a successful
termination the expedition in which he was engaged. Having at length
restored something like unanimity to his troops, and brought them into an
efficient state, he once more led them on the way to Jerusalem. The army
resumed its march in the month of May, and reached the valley of Hebron,
which was destined to be the extent of its journey. The circumstances
which induced Richard to relinquish his long-cherished enterprise cannot
now be known with certainty. Various versions are given by the different
historians; but we find no occurrence which appears of sufficient
importance to have changed the purpose of Cœur-de-Lion. It is certain,
however, that a council assembled by the king decided upon the propriety
of attacking Cairo, which was the main store-house of Saladin, rather
than of marching upon Jerusalem. No sooner was it known among the troops
that a counter-march was intended, than they threw aside all discipline:
great numbers of them deserted, and Richard was compelled to return to
Acre, as the only means of regaining the authority he had lost.

Saladin, who kept watch from the mountains upon all the movements of the
crusaders, perceived the disorganised condition of the army, and chose
that moment for an attack upon Jaffa, which he captured with little
resistance. On learning the news, Richard at once dispatched by land the
troops who remained with him, while he, with a small body of knights,
proceeded by sea to the relief of the town. Cœur-de-Lion never showed
his splendid military talents more strikingly than on this occasion.
On arriving opposite the town, he found a vast host of the Saracens
drawn up on the shore to receive him. His companions counselled him to
turn back, saying that it was little else than madness to attack such
overwhelming numbers; but Cœur-de-Lion knew that to dare is to reach
half-way to victory, and he had learned to despise the nice calculation
of probabilities. He leaped into the water, and cried, "Cursed for ever
be he who follows me not!" At such a call no knight who desired to keep
his spurs would dare to hang back, and one and all followed their leader
to the shore, threw themselves upon the thick ranks of the enemy, and put
them to flight. The gallant band of Richard then entered Jaffa, where
they were joined by the troops who had marched by land.

On the following day the main body of the Saracen army, with Saladin at
their head, advanced upon the town. Richard went forth to meet them on
the plain, and a pitched battle ensued, in which, after many hours of
hard fighting, he defeated them with great slaughter. It is scarcely too
much to say that this success against a vastly superior force was due, in
a large measure, to the extraordinary prowess of Cœur-de-Lion himself.
Wherever he stretched out his ponderous battle-axe, horse and man went
down before him; and it is said that such was the terror he inspired that
whole bodies of the Saracen troops would turn and fly at his approach.
Although the expedition to the Holy Land was not destined to attain its
object, the fame of its leader was raised both in the East and in the
West to a height which has never been equalled. For hundreds of years the
name of Richard Cœur-de-Lion was employed by Syrian mothers to silence
their infants; and if a horse suddenly started from the way, his rider
was wont to exclaim, "Dost thou think King Richard is in that bush?"

The battle of Jaffa was Cœur-de-Lion's last victory in the Holy Land.
His exertions on that day brought on a violent fever, and the state of
his health, as well as the necessity of a return to England, induced him
to conclude a treaty with his gallant enemy on terms which Saladin was
glad to accept. A truce was proclaimed for three years, three months,
three days, and three hours; the towns of Jaffa and Tyre were to remain
in the hands of the Christians, and they were to be permitted at all
times to visit Jerusalem as pilgrims without persecution or injury. To
the French, who had refused to take part in the battle of Jaffa, Richard
denied the benefits of this treaty, and told them that since they had
held back from the fight, they were not worthy to enter the Holy City.
The remaining portions of the army, casting aside their weapons of war,
made the pilgrimage in safety, protected from all molestation by the
pledge of Saladin. And yet the massacre of Acre was fresh in the memory
of the Moslems, and many of the kinsmen of those who had perished there
threw themselves at the feet of their chief, and implored him to take
vengeance for the ruthless deed upon the Christians now in his power. But
the soldan refused to listen to their entreaties, and replied that he had
passed his word, which was sacred and unchangeable.

The third body of pilgrims which entered Jerusalem was headed by the
Bishop of Salisbury, who was received with great honour, and was admitted
to a long interview with Saladin. Many questions were put to him by
his royal entertainer, who, among other matters, desired to know in
what light he was regarded among the Christians. "What do they say,"
he asked, "of your king, and what of me?" The bishop answered boldly,
"My king stands unrivalled among all men for deeds of might and gifts
of generosity; but your fame also is high, and were you but converted
to the true faith, there would not be two such princes as you and he in
all the world." Saladin replied in a speech as wise as it was generous.
He readily gave his tribute of admiration to the brilliant valour of
Richard, but said that he was too rash and impetuous, and that, for his
own part, he would rather be famed for skill and prudence than for mere
audacity. At the request of the bishop, Saladin granted his permission
that the Latin clergy should be allowed to have separate establishments
at Jerusalem, as had previously been the case with the eastern churches.


REIGN OF RICHARD I. (_concluded_).

     Shipwreck of Richard--His Arrival in Austria--His Capture
     by the Archduke Leopold--He is Surrendered to the Emperor
     of Germany--Events in England--Renewed Persecution of the
     Jews--The Massacre at York--Quarrel between Longchamp and
     Pudsey--Stories about Longchamp--His Rupture with John,
     and Temporary Compromise--Imprisonment of Geoffrey of
     York--Longchamp takes Refuge in the Tower--His Deposition and
     Flight to France--Intrigues between John and Philip--Rumours of
     Richard's Imprisonment--The Story of Blondel--Richard before
     the Diet--Loyalty of Richard's Subjects, and Collection of
     the Ransom--Richard's Reception in England--His Expedition
     to France--Administration of Hubert Walter--William
     Fitz-Robert--Recommencement of Hostilities with France--The Bishop
     of Beauvais--Defeat of Philip--Death of Richard before Chaluz--His

Richard set sail from Acre in October, 1192, with the queen Berengaria,
his sister Joan, and all the knights and prelates who held fealty to the
English crown. The proud heart of Cœur-de-Lion would not permit him to
visit Jerusalem in the lowly guise of a pilgrim, but he quitted Palestine
with feelings of the deepest regret; and he is reported to have stretched
out his arms towards the hills, exclaiming, "Most holy land, I commend
thee unto God's keeping. May He grant me life and health to return and
rescue thee from the infidel!"

A heavy storm--attributed by the sailors to the displeasure of
Heaven--overtook the returning fleet, scattering the ships, and casting
many of them ashore on the coasts of Barbary and Egypt. The vessel which
carried Joan and Berengaria arrived in safety at a port in Sicily.
Richard had followed in the same direction, with the intention of landing
in southern France; but he suddenly remembered that he had many bitter
enemies in that country, in whose power it would be dangerous to trust
himself, and he turned back to the Adriatic, dismissing the greater part
of his followers, and intending to take his way homeward in disguise
through Styria and Germany.

His vessel was attacked by Greek pirates; but he not only succeeded in
repelling the attack, but in commanding their services to convey him
to shore. Possibly his name may have had an influence, even with these
robbers of the sea; but whatever were the means employed, it is certain
that they placed themselves under his orders, and that he quitted
his own ship for one of theirs, in which--the better to secure his
disguise--he proceeded to Zara in Dalmatia, and there landed. He was
attended by a Norman baron, named Baldwin of Bethune, two chaplains,
a few Templars, and some servants. Richard had assumed the dress of a
palmer, and, having suffered his hair and beard to grow long, went by the
name of Hugh the Merchant. He had, however, not yet learned prudence, and
those who were with him seemed to have been as deficient in this quality
as himself. Cœur-de-Lion then hastened on his way through Germany,
attended only by a single knight, and by a boy who spoke the English
language, then very similar to the Saxon dialect of the Continent. For
three days and nights they travelled without food among mountains covered
with snow, not knowing in which direction they were going. They entered
the province which had formed the eastern boundary of the old empire of
the Franks, and was called Œsterreich, which means the East Country.
This country, known to us by the name of Austria, was subject to the
Emperor of Germany, and was governed by an Archduke, whose capital was
Vienna, on the Danube. This duke was the same Leopold whom Richard
had insulted at Ascalon, and with whom also, on a former occasion, he
had a serious quarrel. This occurrence took place at Acre, where the
duke having presumed to raise his standard on a portion of the walls,
Cœur-de-Lion seized the flag and trampled it under foot.

Richard and his companions arrived at a small town near Vienna, exhausted
with fatigue and fasting. It is not probable that the king could have
proceeded so near the city without knowing where he was, but his
immediate necessities were too pressing to leave any room for hesitation.
Having taken a lodging, he sent the boy into the market-place to buy
provisions. The boy was dressed in costly clothes, and these, together
with the large sums of money which he exhibited, excited the suspicions
of the citizens; but he made excuse that he was the servant of a rich
merchant who was to arrive within three days at Vienna. When he returned
to the king, he related what had happened, and begged him to escape while
there was yet time. Richard, however, little accustomed to anticipate
danger, and fatigued with his journey, determined to remain some days

Meanwhile Leopold heard the rumour of the landing of his enemy at
Zara, and, incited at once by feelings of revenge and by the hope of
the large ransom which such a prisoner would command, sent out spies
and armed men in all directions to search for him. As the duke was
scarcely likely to anticipate the presence of the fugitive so near
the capital, the search was made without success, and Cœur-de-Lion
would doubtless have escaped undiscovered if another strange act of
carelessness had not drawn suspicion upon him. One day, when the same
boy who had before been arrested was again in the market-place, he was
observed to carry in his girdle some embroidered gloves, such as were
worn only by princes and great nobles on occasions of ceremony. He was
again seized, and the torture was employed to bring him to confession.
He revealed the truth, and pointed out the house in which King Richard
was lodging. Cœur-de-Lion was in a deep sleep when the room in which
he lay was entered by Austrian soldiers. He immediately sprang up and,
seizing his sword, which lay beside him, kept them at bay, vowing that he
would surrender to none but their chief. The soldiers, superior as their
numbers were, hesitated to undertake the task of disarming him, and the
Archduke of Austria having been sent for, Cœur-de-Lion gave up the
sword into his hands.

No sooner did the Emperor Henry VI. of Germany learn the news of the
arrest of Cœur, de-Lion than he sent to the Archduke of Austria, his
vassal, commanding him to give up his prisoner. "A duke," said he, "has
no right to imprison a king; that is the privilege only of an emperor."
This strange proposition does not seem to have been denied by Leopold,
who resigned the custody of the English king, on condition of receiving
a portion of his ransom. The agreement having been concluded, Richard
was removed from Vienna at Easter, 1193, and was confined in one of the
imperial castles in Worms.

Before we follow further the fortunes of this adventurous king, it is
necessary to go back to the period of his departure for the Holy Land,
and to trace the course of events in England during his absence. The
popular feeling which had been excited against the Jews at the time
of Richard's coronation, and which he had done so little to repress,
found vent in persecutions and massacres throughout the country. In
those turbulent times there were among the people a certain number of
lawless characters, who, ever eager for plunder, were doubly so when
they could obtain it by means which were encouraged by their superiors,
and permitted secretly, if not openly, by the clergy. To kill a Jew was
regarded not only as no crime, but as a deed acceptable to God; and
in England, as in Palestine, the pure and holy religion of peace was
believed to give its sanction to acts of merciless bloodshed and plunder.
In February, 1190, a number of Jews were butchered in the streets of
Lynn, in Norfolk, and immediately afterwards, as though by a preconcerted
movement, similar bloody scenes were enacted at Norwich, Lincoln, St.
Edmundsbury, Stamford, and York.


The massacre of York, which took place in March, 1190, was remarkable
no less for the number of victims who were sacrificed than for the
circumstances of horror which attended it. At nightfall, on the 16th of
the month, a company of strangers, armed to the teeth, entered the city,
and attacked the house of a rich Jew who had been killed in London at
the coronation. His widow and children, however, still remained, and
these the ruffians put to the sword, carrying off whatever property the
house contained. On the following day the rest of the Jews in York,
anticipating the fate which awaited them, appeared before the governor,
and entreated permission to seek safety for themselves and their families
within the walls of the castle. The request was granted, and the people
of the persecuted race, to the number of not less than 1,000 men, women,
and children, were received into the fortress, within whose strong walls
they might hope to find shelter from their enemies. But for some reason
or other the governor passed outside the gates, and returned attended by
a great number of the populace. The Jews, whose misfortunes had made them
suspicious, feared that they had been permitted to enter the castle only
as into a slaughter-house, and refused to admit the governor, excusing
their disobedience by their dread of the mob, who, it was evident, would
enter with him if the drawbridge were lowered. The governor refused to
listen to such an argument, reasonable as it was; and, whatever may
have been his original intention, he now gave orders to the rabble to
attack the rebellious Israelites. The command was willingly obeyed,
and the populace, whose numbers were continually increased by all the
vagabonds and ruffians of the neighbourhood, laid siege to the castle,
and made preparations for taking it by assault. It is related that the
governor became alarmed at the tumult he had raised, and that he recalled
his order, and endeavoured to calm the excitement of the people; if
so, his efforts were unsuccessful. Few things are easier than to rouse
the passions of men--nothing more difficult than to quell them. The
unhappy Jews heard the loud shouts of vengeance without the walls, and,
foreseeing that they could make little or no defence against the force
brought against them, set the place on fire, slew first their wives and
children, and afterwards, with a few exceptions, themselves.

It has been already related that, before the departure of Richard for
the Holy Land, he had sold the chief justiciarship of the kingdom to
Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, whose authority he subsequently curtailed
by appointing as rival justiciary William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely.
Longchamp, who also held the chancellorship, and the custody of the Tower
of London, was the favourite of Richard, and he soon secured into his
own hands the entire government of the country. The king, who had the
greatest confidence in his loyalty and ability, issued letters-patent,
directing the people to obey him as their sovereign; and, by the
authority of the Pope, the chancellor was also appointed legate of
England and Ireland. Thus doubly armed with spiritual and temporal power,
the rule of Longchamp was absolute throughout the kingdom.

Pudsey, however, had paid for the justiciarship, and was by no means
disposed to see his privileges swept away without making an effort at
resistance. He accordingly laid his complaint before the king, and
Richard, in reply, sent him letters, authorising him to share with
Longchamp the authority which was his due. Armed with these, Pudsey made
his appearance in London with great ceremony, but the barons of the
kingdom assembled there refused to permit him to take his seat among
them. After having in vain insisted upon the king's authority which he
carried with him, the discomfited bishop proceeded in search of the
chancellor. When the two prelates met, Longchamp approached his brother
of Durham with a smiling countenance and courteous demeanour, expressed
himself ready to obey the commands of the king, and invited Pudsey to
an entertainment on that day se'nnight in the castle of Tickhill. The
Bishop of Durham, who possessed either more good faith or less shrewdness
than is usual with statesmen in that or any other age, accepted the
invitation; and as soon as he had passed the gates of the castle,
Longchamp placed his hand on his shoulder and arrested him, saying, that
as sure as the king lived, the bishop should not leave that place until
he had surrendered, not only his claim to power, but all the castles in
his possession. "This," said he, "is not bishop arresting bishop, but
chancellor arresting chancellor." Pudsey was accordingly imprisoned, and
was not released until he had fulfilled the required conditions.

The power of Longchamp was now employed to the utmost to raise money for
the king's necessities, and to further his own schemes of aggrandisement.
Among the chroniclers are several who speak in strong terms of his
avarice and tyranny, while Peter of Blois alone has a good word to say
for him. He, however, was an impartial witness, and an authority whose
words carry considerable weight. Matthew Paris says that such was the
rapacity of the chancellor that not a knight could keep his baldrick, not
a woman her bracelet, not a noble his ring, not a Jew his hoards of gold
or merchandise. He used his power to enrich his relations and friends,
placing them in the highest and most profitable posts under government,
and entrusting to them the custody of towns and castles, which he took
from those who had previously held them. He passed through the country
with all the pomp and parade of royalty, attended by more than a thousand
horsemen; and it is related that whenever he stopped to lodge for the
night, a three years' income was not enough to defray the expenses of his
train for a single day. His taste for luxury was further ministered to by
minstrels and jugglers, whom he invited from France, and who sang their
strains of flattery in the public places, proclaiming that the chancellor
had not his like in the world.

There is an evident air of exaggeration about these statements, and
many of them were to be referred to men as disaffected towards the king
as towards his chancellor. If Longchamp reduced the country to poverty
by his exactions, it is most likely that he was impelled to obtain the
money by the demands of Richard: we shall presently see, however, that
the national wealth was by no means exhausted by the burdens--heavy
as they were--which it sustained. The loyalty of Longchamp has never
been doubted, and there is no reason to believe that his government was
generally tyrannous or unjust.

The nobles viewed the increasing power of the chancellor with feelings
of envy; and Earl John, the brother of Richard, who had long entertained
designs upon the throne, perceived that his chances of success were
small indeed so long as a man devoted to the king retained the supreme
power in the realm. Some of the turbulent barons, to whom Longchamp had
given cause of offence, attached themselves to John, and encouraged
him in his ambitious schemes. While Richard was in Sicily he received
letters from his brother, containing various accusations against the
chancellor of tyranny and misgovernment. It appears that these letters
produced their effect, and that the king sent a reply directing that,
if the accusations were proved to be true, Walter, Archbishop of Rouen,
with Geoffrey Fitz-Peter and William Marshal, should be appointed to the
chief justiciarships, and that in any case they should be associated with
Longchamp in the direction of affairs. Richard, however, was well aware
of the treacherous disposition of his brother, and reflection satisfied
him that the chancellor was more worthy of confidence than those who
accused him. Before the departure of the fleet from Messina, the king
sent letters to his subjects confirming the authority of Longchamp, and
directing that implicit obedience should be rendered to him.

When John learnt that his brother was on his way to Acre, he took active
measures for bringing his schemes into operation. Various disputes
took place between him and the chancellor, and before long an incident
occurred which led to an open rupture between them. Gerald of Camville,
a Norman baron, and one of the adherents of John, held the custody of
Lincoln Castle, which he had purchased from the king. Longchamp--who,
it is said, desired to give this office to one of his friends--summoned
Camville to surrender the keys of the castle; but the baron refused
compliance, saying that he was Earl John's liegeman, and that he would
not relinquish his possessions except at the command of his lord.
Longchamp then appeared before Lincoln with an army, and drove out
Camville, who appealed to John for justice. The prince, who desired
nothing better than such an opportunity, attacked the royal fortresses
of Nottingham and Tickhill, carried them with little or no opposition,
and, planting his standard on the walls, sent a messenger to Longchamp
to the effect that, unless immediate restitution were made for the
injury to Gerald of Camville, he would revenge it with a rod of iron.
The chancellor, who possessed little courage or military talent, entered
into a negotiation, by the terms of which the castles of Nottingham and
Tickhill remained in the hands of John, and that of Lincoln was restored
to Camville. Others of the royal castles, which had hitherto remained
exclusively in the power of the chancellor, were committed into the
custody of different barons, to be retained until the return of Richard
from the Holy Land, or, in the event of his death, to be delivered up to

These important concessions satisfied John only for a short time, and
an opportunity soon presented itself for pushing his demands further.
Geoffrey, son of Henry II. by Fair Rosamond, had been appointed to the
archbishopric of York during his father's lifetime, but his consecration
had been delayed until the year 1191, when the necessary permission was
received from the court of Rome, and he was consecrated by the Archbishop
of Tours. As soon as the ceremony was concluded, he prepared to take
possession of his benefice, notwithstanding the oath which had been
exacted from him that he would not return to England. The chancellor
having been apprised of his intention, sent a message to him forbidding
him to cross the Channel, and at the same time directed the sheriffs to
arrest him should he attempt to land. Geoffrey despised the prohibition;
and, having landed at Dover in disguise, took shelter in a monastery.
His retreat was soon discovered, and the soldiers of the king broke into
the church, and seized the archbishop at the foot of the altar, while he
was engaged in the celebration of the mass. A good deal of unnecessary
violence seems to have been used, and Geoffrey was dragged through the
streets to Dover Castle, where he was imprisoned.

(_See p._ 239.)]

The peculiar circumstances of this arrest, and the indignity thus
inflicted upon a prelate of the Church, excited the popular feeling
strongly against the government, and John, satisfied that he would be
supported by the people, openly espoused the cause of his half-brother,
and peremptorily ordered the chancellor to release him. Longchamp dared
not resist the popular voice; he asserted that he had given no orders
for the violence which had been used, and directed that the archbishop
should be set at liberty, and suffered to go to London. An alliance,
whose basis seems to have been self-interest rather than mutual esteem,
was formed between the two half-brothers, and John, supported by the
Archbishop of Rouen, who had been sent by Richard to England, boldly
proceeded to London, summoned the great council of the barons of the
kingdom, and called upon the chancellor to appear before it and defend
his conduct. Longchamp not only refused to do so, but forbade the
barons to assemble, declaring that the object of John was to usurp the
crown. The council, however, was held at London Bridge, on the Thames,
and the barons summoned Longchamp, who was then at Windsor Castle, to
appear before them. The chancellor, on the contrary, collected all the
men-at-arms who were with him, and marched from Windsor to London; but
the adherents of John, who met him at the gates, attacked and defeated
his escort; and finding himself also opposed by the citizens, he was
compelled to take refuge in the Tower.


Immediately afterwards John entered the city; and, on his promising to
remain faithful to the king, was received with welcome. The people,
though they were willing to join in deposing the chancellor, retained,
almost without exception, the utmost loyalty to their brave sovereign,
and showed clearly they would permit of no treason against his authority.
The act contemplated by the barons involved very important consequences,
and John, with the craft and caution peculiar to his character,
determined to obtain the assent of the citizens of London, and thus to
involve them in a portion of its responsibility. The suffrages of the
people were taken in a manner which shows at once the rudeness of the
times and the unusual nature of such a proceeding. On the day fixed
for the great assembly of the barons, the tocsin, or alarm bell, was
rung, and when the citizens poured forth from their houses, they found
heralds posted in the streets, who directed them to St. Paul's Church.
When the people arrived there in a crowd, they found the chief men
of the realm--barons and prelates--seated in council. These haughty
nobles, chiefly of Norman descent, whose usual custom had been to treat
the native English as mere serfs and inferior beings, now received the
people with extraordinary courtesy, and invited them to take part in the
proceedings. The debate which followed, being conducted in Norman-French,
must have been unintelligible to the majority of the citizens; but
they were shown the king's seal affixed to a letter, which was said to
authorise the deposition of the chancellor in case he failed to conduct
properly the duties of his office. When this letter had been read, the
votes of the whole assembly were taken, and it was decreed by the voice
of "the bishops, earls, and barons of the kingdom, and of the citizens of
London," that the chancellor should be deprived of his office, and that
John, the brother of the king, should be proclaimed "chief governor of
the whole kingdom."

On the news of these transactions being conveyed to Longchamp, it is
reported that he fell upon the floor insensible. It was evident that he
had no longer any power to resist the pretensions of John: resistance,
to have been of any avail, should have come sooner. The troops of his
opponents having surrounded the Tower, the chancellor came out from the
gates, and offered to surrender. John, who thought it worth while to buy
his adhesion or submission to the new authority, proposed to leave him in
possession of the bishopric of Ely, and to give him the custody of three
castles belonging to the crown. To the honour of Longchamp, he refused to
accept gifts from such a source, or to resign of his own free will any
of the powers entrusted to him by his sovereign. "I submit," he said,
"only to the superior force which is brought against me." And with these
words he gave the keys of the Tower into the hands of John. The barons,
however, compelled him to take an oath that he would surrender the keys
of the other royal fortresses, and his two brothers were detained as
hostages for the performance of these conditions.

The ex-chancellor himself was permitted to go at large; and it appears
that he determined, rather than resign possession of the castles, to
leave his brothers in danger, and to escape to Normandy. Having reached
Canterbury, he stayed there for a few days, and then quitted the town in
the disguise of a hawking woman, having a bale of linen under his arm and
a yard-measure in his hand. In this strange costume, the ex-chancellor,
who had been accustomed to travel with a retinue of 1,000 men-at-arms,
took his way on foot to the sea-shore. Having to wait a while for a
vessel in which to embark, he sat down upon a stone with his veil, or
hood, drawn over his face. Some fishermen's wives who were passing
by stopped and asked him the price of his cloth, but as he did not
understand a word of English, he made no answer, much to the surprise
of his questioners. Presently some other women came up to him, who also
took an interest in his merchandise, and desired to know how he sold it.
The prelate, who was keenly alive to the ludicrousness of his situation,
burst out into a loud laugh, which stimulated the curiosity of the women,
and they suddenly lifted his veil. Seeing under it, as Roger of Hoveden
hath it, "the dark and newly-shaven face of a man," they ran away in
alarm, and soon brought back with them a number of men and women, who
amused themselves by pulling the clothes of this strange person, and
rolling him in the shingle. At length, after the ex-chancellor had tried
in vain to make them understand who he was, they shut him up in a cellar,
and he was compelled to make himself known to the authorities as the
only way of regaining his liberty. He then gave up the keys of the royal
castles, and was permitted to proceed to the Continent.

Immediately on his arrival in Normandy, Longchamp wrote those letters
to Richard which reached him in the Holy Land, and apprised him of
the unsettled condition of affairs in England, and of the dangerous
assumption of power on the part of John. This prince had appointed the
Archbishop of Rouen to the chief justiciarship of the kingdom; but it
would appear that the new justiciary was too honest a man to assent to
all the views of his unprincipled master; and John being in want of
money, entered into a negotiation with Longchamp to replace him in his
office for a payment of £700. The chief ministers, however, dreading the
consequences which might follow the return of the ex-chancellor to power,
agreed to lend John a sum of £500 from the treasury, to induce him to
withdraw his proposal. The mercenary prince consented to do so, and the
negotiation was broken off.

In defiance of the solemn oath which Philip had taken before leaving the
Holy Land, he no sooner returned to France than he prepared to invade
Normandy. Some of the nobles of his kingdom, however, had more regard
for their knightly faith, and they refused to join in the expedition;
while the Pope, determined to defend the cause of a king who was so nobly
fighting the battle of the faith, threatened Philip with the ban of the
Church if he persisted in his treacherous intention. Compelled to abandon
this expedition, the French king by no means gave up his designs against
Richard, and he entered into a treaty with John, by which he promised to
secure to him the possession of Normandy, Aquitaine, and Anjou, and to
assist him in his attempts upon the English throne. In return he merely
asked that John should marry the Princess Alice, Philip's sister.

To this match John, who probably might have been willing to promise
anything that was required of him, did not hesitate to give his consent,
in spite of the sinister rumours which were current about the princess,
and the fact that she had been affianced to his brother.

As time passed on, and the king still remained absent, strange stories
began to get abroad. It was affirmed that he had been driven on the
coast of Barbary, and taken prisoner by the Moors; that, like Robert of
Normandy, he had been tempted to stay for a while among the groves of
Italy; that the ship which carried him had foundered at sea with all on
board. The last story, however, found few believers, for the people,
imbued with a tinge of that romance which taught the immortality of the
hero, were fully convinced that their king was still alive, and would
some day return to take possession of the throne. At length it became
known that Cœur-de-Lion was in imprisonment in one of the castles of
Germany. The news was first conveyed in a letter from the Emperor Henry
to King Philip, and quickly travelled over Europe. To the revengeful and
ungenerous King of France that letter brought more joy than a present
of gold and topaz; but the other nations of Christendom received the
tidings with indignation and disgust. The Pope instantly excommunicated
the Archduke of Austria, and sent a message to the Emperor Henry, to
the effect that he too should be placed under the curse of Rome unless
the royal prisoner were instantly released. The Archbishop of Rouen
proved his loyalty by summoning the council of the kingdom, and sending
two abbots into Germany to visit the king, and confer with him on the
measures to be taken for his liberation. Longchamp, however, had already
departed in search of his master, and was the first who obtained an
interview with him.

There is a beautiful legend, much better known than the authenticated
facts, which tells of a minstrel, named Blondel, who had been attached
to the person of Richard, and whose love for his master induced him
to travel through Germany for the purpose of discovering the place
of his confinement. Whenever he came to a castle the minstrel placed
himself under the walls, and sang a song which had been a favourite with
Cœur-de-Lion. One day when the king was whiling away the dreary hours
in solitude, he heard the sound of a harp beneath his window, and when
the well-known strains floated up to his ears, he joined in the air, and
sang the concluding verse of the song. Blondel immediately recognised
the voice, and thus the place of Cœur-de-Lion's imprisonment became
known to his countrymen. Such is the story, which has been generally
rejected by the historians for want of evidence. There is considerable
improbability in the legend, but, at the same time, it is not impossible
that it may have had a foundation in fact. It has been argued that
Richard's imprisonment was related in the letter of the emperor to
Philip, and that therefore there was no need for the journey of Blondel;
but although the locality of the king's prison was indicated in this
letter, it by no means follows that it was known to Longchamp and others
who first took steps to visit him. When at length Longchamp obtained
admission into his prison, Richard received him as a friend, and appears
to have entirely forgiven that weakness and lack of energy on the part of
the chancellor which had proved so favourable to the traitorous designs
of Prince John.

Longchamp exerted himself in his master's favour with the Emperor Henry,
and that prince at length consented that Richard should appear before
the Diet at Hagenau. When the king was on his way thither he was met by
the two abbots who had been sent by the Archbishop of Rouen. "Unbroken
by distress," Cœur-de-Lion received them with a smiling countenance,
and the admiration of all the bystanders was attracted by his undaunted
bearing, which was rather that of a conqueror than a prisoner. Within
a few days afterwards he appeared before the Diet of the Empire, where
he was permitted to offer his defence against the accusations of Henry.
These were: that he had entered into an alliance with Tancred, the
usurper of the crown of Sicily; that he had unjustly imprisoned the
Christian ruler of Cyprus; that he had insulted the Duke of Austria; and
that he was guilty of the murder of Conrad of Montferrat. It was also
alleged that the truce he had entered into with Saladin was disgraceful,
and that he had left Jerusalem in the hands of the infidels. The speech
of Richard in reply to these charges has not been preserved, but
contemporary writers describe it as having been full of manly eloquence,
and assert that its effect on the assembly was entirely to establish
in their minds the conviction of his innocence. The emperor, however,
was by no means disposed to set his prisoner at liberty, and insisted
upon a heavy ransom, which was subsequently raised to the large sum of
100,000 marks. It was also stipulated that Richard should give hostages
to the emperor and the Duke of Austria for the further payment of 50,000
marks, which was to be made under certain conditions; and that Eleanor,
the maid of Brittany, sister to Prince Arthur, and niece of Richard,
should be affianced to the son of Leopold. It is related by Hoveden that
Richard did homage to the emperor for the crown of England. This act of
vassalage, if it really took place, was but an acknowledgment of the
pretensions of the ancient emperors of Germany to the feudal superiority
of Europe as heirs of the Roman Cæsars.

When the first news of Richard's imprisonment reached England, John
collected a body of troops, and took possession of the castles of
Windsor and Wallingford. Thence he marched to London, causing it to be
proclaimed wherever he went that the king his brother had died in prison.
The people refused to believe this report, and when John required the
barons of England and Normandy to acknowledge him as their sovereign,
they answered by raising the standard of Cœur-de-Lion. The troops
of John were attacked and put to flight, and the prince himself passed
across the Channel, and joined his ally, Philip of France. Philip then
entered Normandy with a large army, but there, as in England, the people
remained loyal to their sovereign, and the French king was compelled to
retreat with heavy loss.

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF RICHARD I.]

The ransom of Richard, which was obtained almost wholly in England,
appears to have been raised with great difficulty. The officers of
the crown went through the country, compelling men of all ranks to
contribute, making no distinction between clergy and laity, Saxons or
Normans. The plate of the churches and monasteries was melted down into
coin and bullion, and the Cistercian monks, whose poverty had usually
exempted them from such exactions, were forced to give up the wool of
their sheep. Frauds were practised to a considerable extent by the
officers, who exacted money for their own use under the pretence of
applying it to the king's ransom; and thus the already grievous burdens
of the people increased to such an extent, that they were said to be in
dire distress from sea to sea.

At length, after much delay, the sum of 70,000 marks was raised and sent
to the emperor, who paid over one-third of the sum to the Archduke of
Austria as his share of the booty. It was then agreed that Richard should
be set at liberty, on condition of his leaving hostages for the payment
of the sum in arrear. The king, whose captivity had now endured for
thirteen months, was disposed to agree to almost any terms that might be
demanded of him; and the hostages having been obtained, he was released
about the end of January, 1194.

Attended by a few followers, Richard left Antwerp in a small vessel,
and landed at Sandwich on the 13th of March, 1194. The English people
had paid heavily for his freedom, but he seemed to have become more
endeared to them on that account. Impulsive and enthusiastic then as
now, they crowded about him with uproarious welcome, and accompanied him
on his way to London with shouts of rejoicing. The injuries inflicted
by the Norman conquest were beginning to disappear from their minds;
and though Cœur-de-Lion could not speak their language, he was their
king, and his exploits were a national honour. London, at least, was not
impoverished by the sums raised for his ransom. So magnificent was the
reception given by the citizens--such stores of plate, and jewels, and
cloth of gold were displayed, to do honour to the occasion--that one
of the German barons who went with him expressed his astonishment at
the sight, and said that if the emperor his master had known the wealth
of the country, he would not have let his prisoner off so easily.
At the moment when Richard entered London, bells were ringing at the
churches, tapers were lit, and at every altar in the city sentence of
excommunication was pronounced, by order of the bishops, against Prince
John and his adherents.

(_See p._ 244.)]

John himself had received timely notice of the release of Richard by a
letter which reached him from Philip, containing the significant words,
"Take care of yourself--the devil is broken loose"; and the Prince
immediately sought safety in flight. At a council held at Nottingham,
the barons summoned him to appear within forty days, on pain of the
forfeiture of all his estates; they also determined that Richard should
be crowned a second time, and though the king was opposed to this
extraordinary proceeding, he submitted to a decision which was evidently
dictated by loyalty. The ceremony was performed at Winchester on Easter
Day following.

On the return of King Richard to London, and immediately after his second
coronation, he commenced preparations for a war in France, which he
proposed to undertake in revenge for the injuries he had sustained at the
hands of Philip. For this purpose, as well as for his own necessities,
money was required, and Richard showed no scruple as to the means by
which it was obtained. He at once annulled the sales of royal estates
which he had made before his departure for the Holy Land, declaring that
they had not been sold, but mortgaged, and that the crown was entitled
to their restitution; many important appointments were also resumed in
the same manner, and these, as well as the lands, were again sold to the
highest bidder.

Impatient to take the field, Richard collected as many troops as could be
got together, and passed over into Normandy in May, 1194. He landed at
Harfleur, and as soon as he had set foot upon the beach he was met by his
cowardly brother John, who crouched at his feet and begged forgiveness.
His mother, Queen Eleanor, seconded the request with her prayers; and
Richard on this occasion showed a magnanimity which was rare indeed in
those days. He granted his brother's pardon, and said, "I forgive him;
and I hope to forget his injuries as easily as he will forget my pardon."
The prince who thus knelt trembling on the beach at Harfleur, had just
been guilty of a most foul and treacherous murder. Regardless of the oath
he had taken, he determined to desert the cause of Philip, whom he feared
less than his brother; before doing so he invited the officers of the
garrison placed by the French king at Evreux to an entertainment, and
massacred them all without mercy.

The expedition of Richard, hastily undertaken, was attended with only
partial success. The French troops were beaten in several engagements,
and several towns and castles of Normandy which had been occupied by them
were retaken by Cœur-de-Lion; but his finances were soon exhausted,
and the people of Aquitaine broke out into insurrection against him. The
campaign came to an end in July by a truce for one year.

While Richard was absent on the Continent the government of England was
confided to Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was appointed
chief justiciary of the kingdom (1195). As Bishop of Salisbury he had
accompanied the king to Palestine, and had there shown great courage
and ability, as well in the field of battle as in his interview with
Saladin. Cœur-de-Lion knew both how to appreciate and reward the
ability shown in his service; great men seldom choose bad instruments,
and the new justiciary proved himself fully worthy of the trust reposed
in him. Under his administration the country began to recover from its
depressed condition, although the constant demands for money made by the
king rendered it difficult to relax, in any great degree, the burdens of
the people. Hubert, however, appears to have promoted their well-being to
the utmost of his power; the taxes were raised with as little violence as
possible; commerce was fostered, and justice equitably administered in
the courts of law.

Before the truce between Richard and Philip had expired, war again
broke out, and continued without any important advantage to either
side, until the end of the year, when a temporary peace was once more
concluded. The citizens of London had for some time complained of the
unequal manner in which the taxes were levied, the poor being made
to pay much more in proportion to their means than the rich. In the
year 1195 the movement took a new form, headed by a man named William
Fitz-Osbert, called "Longbeard," from the length of the beard which he
wore to make himself look like a true Englishman. His first act, which
showed no sign of disloyalty, was to visit Richard in Normandy, and lay
before him the grievance of which the people complained. The king made a
courteous reply, and promised that the matter should be inquired into.
Months passed away, however, without any redress being obtained, and in
1196 Longbeard formed a secret association, which was said to number
52,000 persons, all of whom swore to obey the "Saviour of the Poor," as
he was called. Frequent assemblies of the citizens took place at St.
Paul's Cross, where their leader delivered political orations, couched
in obscure language, and usually prefaced by some text from Scripture.
The passions of the people were becoming daily more excited, and it was
evident that these meetings could not go on without danger to the public
peace. Longbeard was summoned to appear before a council composed of the
barons and higher ecclesiastics, where the strange accusation was brought
against him that he had excited among the lower classes of the people the
love of liberty and happiness. He attended the council, but so large a
concourse of his adherents escorted him there, that it was not considered
prudent to take proceedings against him. Great efforts were made to
counteract the effects of his teaching, and the Archbishop of Canterbury,
whose virtues were recognised and respected by all classes, went
personally among the poorest of the citizens, and prevailed upon many
of them to give their promise to keep the peace, and to deliver their
children into his hands as hostages for their good faith. Two citizens
now presented themselves to the council, and since it was dangerous to
arrest Longbeard openly, offered to take him by surprise. The offer was
accepted, and these men were employed to dog his footsteps, and watch
an opportunity of seizing him. At length they found him with only a few
companions, and having called to their assistance some armed men whom
they had in readiness, they advanced and laid hands upon him. Longbeard
immediately drew a knife and stabbed one of them to the heart; then with
his companions he effected his escape to the Church of St. Mary-le-Bow,
in the tower of which he barricaded himself. Here for several days he
maintained his position, but at length the tower was set on fire, and
Longbeard and his friends were driven out by the flames. They were
immediately seized and bound, but at that moment a youth, the son of the
citizen who was killed, approached Longbeard, and plunged a knife into
his bowels. The wound did not cause death, and the soldiers--to whom pity
would seem to have been unknown--tied the wounded man to the tail of a
horse, and dragged him in this manner to the Tower of London, whence, by
sentence of the chief justiciary, he was taken to West Smithfield, and
was there hanged, together with his companions.

During this cruel torture of their leader the citizens remained passive,
making no attempt to rescue him; and yet no sooner was he dead than they
proclaimed him to be a saint and a martyr, and cut up the gibbet on
which he was hanged into relics, which were preserved with a religious
veneration. The fame of the "Saviour of the Poor" had travelled far
and wide, and the peasantry from remote parts of the kingdom made
pilgrimages to Smithfield, in the belief that miracles would be wrought
on the spot where he fell. So great was the popular enthusiasm that it
became necessary to maintain a guard of soldiers on the spot, and some
of the more troublesome pilgrims were imprisoned and scourged. Even
these severe measures were only successful after a considerable lapse of
time, so enthusiastic were the people in their attachment to the memory
of one whom they believed to have died in their cause, but whom in his
death-agony they raised no arm to save.

In the year 1197 hostilities again commenced between Richard and Philip,
the latter of whom derived support from the disaffection of the English
king's Continental subjects. The people of Brittany--ever impetuous and
eager for liberty--joined the standard of Philip, or fought separately
against his enemy, without reflecting that their efforts, if successful,
would tend only to a change of masters, and not to establishing their
independence. The men of Aquitaine had risen in insurrection. The Count
of Flanders in the north, and the Count of Toulouse in the south,
simultaneously declared war against Richard, and raised large bodies
of troops in their territories. The war continued in a desultory
manner, fortune leaning now to this side, now to that; but wherever
Cœur-de-Lion showed himself in person he maintained his reputation,
and overcame his opponents. The king ultimately secured the adherence of
the Count of Toulouse, by giving him the hand of his sister Joan, the
Queen Dowager of Sicily, who, with the Queen Berengaria, had returned to


In this campaign the Bishop of Beauvais, a powerful prelate, who had
evinced great enmity to Richard, was captured by Mercadi, a captain
of the Brabanters in the king's service. He was taken in complete
armour, fighting sword in hand, contrary to the canons of the Church.
By direction of Richard he was consigned to a dungeon in the castle of
Rouen. Two of his priests presented themselves before the king to beg
that their bishop might no longer be subjected to such harsh treatment.
Richard replied that they themselves should judge if he deserved it.
"This man," said he, "has done me many wrongs, one of which is not to
be forgotten. When I was a prisoner, in the hands of the emperor, and
when, in consideration of my royal birth, they began to treat me with
some little respect, your master arrived, and used his influence to my
injury. He spoke to the emperor over-night, and the next morning I was
made to wear a chain such as a horse could hardly bear. Say, now, what
he merits at my hands, and answer justly." The priests are said to have
made no reply, and quitted the royal presence. Efforts were then made
in a more influential quarter on behalf of the bishop. He appealed to
Pope Celestine, who replied that in such a case he could not use his
pontifical authority, but would address his request to Richard as a
friend. He did so, and sent the king a letter, in which he implored mercy
for his "dear son, the Bishop of Beauvais." Richard replied by sending
to the Pope the bishop's coat of mail, which was covered with blood, and
attaching to it a scroll containing the following verse from the Old
Testament--"This have we found; know now whether it be thy son's coat or
no?" Celestine, who appears to have relished the joke, replied, "No; it
is the coat of a son of Mars. Let Mars deliver him if he can." On this
occasion Richard proved implacable; he refused the large sum of 10,000
marks which was offered as a ransom; and until the king's death the
Bishop of Beauvais remained in the dungeon in chains.

[Illustration: BERTRAND IN PRESENCE OF RICHARD. (_See p._ 250.)]

In the following year (1198) the truce again expired, and war broke out
once more, and for the last time between the two kings. The prolonged
contest seemed to have increased their hatred, and led them to wreak
their vengeance upon the unhappy prisoners who fell into their hands.
Great cruelties were practised by both armies, who, as they passed
through their enemy's territory, burned up the homesteads of the
people, and laid waste the fields. A pitched battle took place near
Gisors, in which Richard obtained a complete victory, and Philip, in
his retreat, had a narrow escape from drowning in the river Epte, the
bridge over which he crossed breaking down under the weight of his
troops. Richard then exclaimed exultingly that he had made the French
king drink deeply of the waters of the Epte. During the engagement
Cœur-de-Lion exhibited all his old prowess. It is related that he
rode unattended against three knights, whom he struck down one after
the other and made prisoners. This was Cœur-de-Lion's last exploit
in the field. A truce was declared between the obstinate belligerents,
and was solemnly ratified for the term of five years. In those times an
oath of truce or a kingly pledge was little else than a ceremony, and
passion or self-interest continually broke down the most solemn vows and
attestations. Thus the truce for five years was infringed in as many
weeks; but the difference was a trivial one, and was concluded without
further hostilities. Richard then marched a body of troops against the
insurgents of Aquitaine.

For some time previously the minstrels of the south had been heard to
introduce among their love-songs a ballad of more gloomy portent. This
ballad contained a prophecy that in Limousin an arrow was making by which
the tyrant King of England should die. Such proved to be, indeed, the
manner of Richard's death, and the previous existence of the prophecy
would appear to indicate a conspiracy to assassinate him. These were the
men who, as already related, had attempted the life of Henry II., by
shooting arrows at him; and it is not improbable that they should have
determined among themselves to get rid of his son in the same manner. The
circumstances of Richard's death, however, seem to have had no connection
with such a conspiracy; it was provoked by his own spirit of revenge, and
by the reckless indifference with which he exposed himself to danger.
The story most commonly received is to the following effect:--Vidomar,
the Count of Limoges, had found a considerable treasure, which Richard,
as his feudal lord, demanded. The count offered one-half, and no more;
and the king, who wanted money, and seldom listened to argument in such
cases, besieged the rebellious noble in his castle of Chaluz. Famine
soon appeared among the garrison, and they sent to the king to tender
their submission, on the condition only that their lives might be spared.
Richard refused the request, and swore he would storm the castle and hang
the whole garrison on the battlements. The unhappy men of Chaluz had
received this reply, which seemed to cut them off from hope, and they
were consulting together with despairing looks when they observed the
king, attended by Mercadi, approaching the castle walls to reconnoitre
and determine where the attack should be made. A youth named Bertrand
de Gourdon, who stood upon the ramparts, then took a bow, and directing
an arrow at the king, lodged it in his left shoulder. The castle was
then carried by assault, and the whole of the garrison were massacred,
except Bertrand, who was led into the presence of Richard, to learn the
more horrible fate which it was supposed would await him. Meanwhile,
the arrow-head had been extracted with great difficulty by the surgeon,
and it was evident that the wound would prove mortal. In the presence
of death none but the most depraved minds retain their animosities; and
the dying king looked calmly on his murderer, while the youth, for his
part, bore an undaunted brow. "What have I done to thee," Cœur-de-Lion
said, "that thou shouldst seek my life?" The youth answered, "Thou hast
killed with thine own hand my father and my two brothers, and myself
thou wouldst hang. Let me die in torture, if thou wilt; I care not, so
that thou, the tyrant, diest with me." Such a speech found an echo in
the breast of him of the Lion-Heart: "Youth," he said, "I forgive thee.
Let him go free, and give him a hundred shillings." The command was
not obeyed, for it is related that Mercadi retained the prisoner, and
after the king's death caused him to be flayed alive, and then to be
hanged. Like others of the princes, his contemporaries, Richard expressed
contrition and remorse at the prospect of death, and in his last moments
courted the offices of the Church. He died on the 6th of April, 1199,
at the age of forty-two, having reigned, or rather worn the crown, for
nearly ten years; during which, with the exception of a few months, he
was absent from England. He had no children to succeed to the throne, and
he left a will, in which he appointed his successor, and gave directions
as to the disposal of his remains. "Take my heart," he said, "to Rouen,
and let my body lie at my father's feet in the abbey of Fontevrault."

Richard Cœur-de-Lion appears to us as the type of manhood unfettered
by a high civilisation--a strong, passionate heart, with great capacities
for good or evil, placed above the control of ordinary circumstances,
little influenced by the power of religion, and therefore left in a large
measure to its own native impulses. Richard was revengeful, but not
implacable; passionate, but not vindictive. The story of his life, like
that of other kings of the Plantagenet race, cannot be written without
the record of many acts of cruelty, which there is little to excuse or
palliate. If he wanted money he seized it wherever it was to be had, with
or without pretext; if a man opposed him, he crushed him down or hanged
him without scruple. When, on his return from captivity, the garrison
of Nottingham held out against his troops, doubting the report of his
return, it was not until the prisoners taken by the besiegers were hung
up before the castle walls that the rebels became convinced of their
error, and realised that the king was there. Absolute power is unfitted
for human nature; and since the beginning of the world no man has ever
wielded it without blame. But if Cœur-de-Lion was not free from the
crimes belonging to his age and kingly position, he surpassed his
contemporaries as much in nobility of character, as in bodily strength
and valour. His courage was of the highest order; for it combined not
only the dash and gallantry common to men whose physical organisation
is perfect, and who are incited by the love of military fame, but also
that calmer, but not less admirable, quality of fortitude, which sustains
the heart of the prisoner in chains, or of the soldier in time of famine
and disease. The business of his life was war, and its recreation the
tournament or the chase. Then, if ever, were the days of chivalry as they
are depicted by the poets--stormy and perilous days, when the pulse of
life beat high, and there was enough of intellectual culture to show men
how to use their passions, but not to restrain them.

It has been said by a modern historian that the character of Richard
was described by the Normans in one word, when they called him
_Cœur-de-Lion_, or the Lion-Heart, but that the tiger might with
more fitness have been taken as his prototype. Such an opinion does not
appear to be warranted by the facts. To say that Richard was guilty of
acts which we now stamp as cruel and tyrannous, is but to say that he was
possessed of power, and lived in the twelfth century; but to intimate
that his whole life was a course of such acts, is to violate historical
justice. This terrible warrior-king had his moments of gentleness,
and more than once displayed a magnanimity which, under all the
circumstances, must excite our high admiration. If he was false to his
wife, as appears to have been the case, his vices of that kind were less
conspicuous than those of his predecessors. If he struck down his enemies
without pity, he at least used no treachery for that purpose. Whatever
he did he dared to do openly, and would have disdained to use intrigues
like those which disgraced the sovereigns of France and Germany. Without
searching the records of his reign for isolated instances of virtue, we
may believe that many noble qualities must have been possessed by the
man who could attach his friends and attendants so warmly to himself,
and excite in the breasts of his people--ground down as they were by his
exactions--such strong sentiments of loyalty and admiration. The great
fault in his character is his complete indifference to England and the
welfare of his subjects.



     Accession of John--His Position--Arthur of Brittany--Peace
     between John and Philip of France--John's Marriage with
     Isabella of La Marche--Rupture with France--The Struggle
     Begins--Capture of Arthur--The Stories of his Death--The Loss
     of Normandy--Peace with Philip--Quarrel with the Pope--The
     Kingdom Laid Under an Interdict, and Excommunication of
     John--John's Desperate Measures--Expedition to Ireland--John
     is Deposed--Arrival of Pandulph in England--Surrender of the
     Kingdom to the Pope--Successes of John--Langton Arrives in
     England--He Becomes Leader of the Baronial Party--The Battle of
     Bouvines--Insurrection in England--The Barons Confront John--His
     Intrigues--Meeting at Brackley--Occupation of London---The
     Meeting at Runnymede--Greatness of the Occasion--Provisions of
     the Charter--Duplicity of John--Siege of Rochester--John in the
     North--His Cause Supported by the Church--The Crown offered
     to Louis of France--He Enters London--Sieges of Dover and
     Windsor--Reported Conspiracy--John's Disaster at the Wash--His
     Death and Character.

When the news of the death of Richard I. was conveyed to his brother
John, he immediately took measures for obtaining possession of the
throne. This degenerate son of the house of Plantagenet recovered his
courage when he had only a child to oppose his ambitious schemes--for
the young Arthur, son of his elder brother Geoffrey, was not yet twelve
years old. John, who knew well how little popularity he possessed in
England, sent to secure the services of the foreign mercenaries who had
been in the army of Richard, offering them a greatly increased rate
of pay, and promising to their leaders profitable appointments. Being
then in Normandy, he dispatched William Marshal and Hubert Walter, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, whose adherence he had obtained, into England,
to further his claims, and prepare the way for his coming. Meanwhile, he
presented himself before the castle of Chinon, and demanded possession
of his brother's treasure, which was there deposited. No opposition was
made to him in that neighbourhood, and the Governor of Chinon, as well
as the Governors of other strongholds, opened their gates at his bidding.
Not so the Lords of Touraine, Anjou, and Maine, who joined the Bretons
in supporting the claims of their young prince Arthur, and raised the
standard of revolt. John caused himself to be crowned at Rouen as Duke of
Normandy, and having wreaked his vengeance on the citizens of Le Mans for
having refused him their allegiance, he crossed the Channel, and landed
at Shoreham on the 25th of May, 1199, six weeks after his brother's death.

When Hubert of Canterbury and William Marshal arrived in England, they
caused proclamation to be made throughout the kingdom, calling upon all
the earls, barons, and owners of land to render fealty to John, Duke of
Normandy, son of King Henry, son of the Empress Matilda. Whatever may
have been the motives which first induced Hubert to espouse the cause of
John, it will scarcely be denied that the archbishop was justified in
putting an end to the state of uncertainty by any means in his power.
It has been already stated that Hubert Walter was a man of very high
abilities, and these he now exerted to the utmost, and with remarkable
success. Having summoned a council of the barons and prelates at
Nottingham, he used all his eloquence to overcome the disaffection of the
assembly, while to arguments were added secret gifts and lavish promises
in the name of John. These inducements prevailed, and the barons there
present took the oath of allegiance.

Immediately after the landing of John, he proceeded to the church of St.
Peter, at Westminster, there to prefer formally his claim to the crown.
He carried with him a document, signed by Richard on his death-bed,
in which no allusion was made to the claims of Arthur, but John was
appointed unreservedly as the successor to the throne. Archbishop Hubert
was well aware that, according to the laws of primogeniture, Arthur,
as the only son of an elder brother, had an undoubted right to the
succession; the prelate, therefore, in addressing the people assembled
in the church, is said to have insisted upon the elective character of
the monarchy, and that no man could be entitled to the crown unless he
were chosen by the nation. He asserted that John had already been so
chosen at the council held at Nottingham, and that there was no one of
the family of the dead king better fitted to assume the regal dignity.
He declared that John possessed those meritorious qualities which had
belonged to King Richard--a statement which it would have been difficult
to prove--and that for these reasons, as well as for having the same
lineage, he was elected king. Whatever may have been the real temper of
the assembly, no opposition was made to these statements, and the English
crown was conferred upon the most vicious and worthless prince who ever
wore it.

The new king began his reign amidst the disaffection, if not the hatred,
of the people, while he was menaced on every side by the attacks of
enemies from without. In the north, William the Lion, King of Scotland,
was preparing to invade his territories; while on the Continent, all
his vassals, except those of Normandy, were in insurrection, and the
French king, his former ally, had declared war against him. The aspect
of affairs was highly favourable to the designs of Philip, who, to
further his own ends, declared himself in favour of the cause of the
young Arthur. John, having sent an army under the command of William
de Stuteville to oppose the Scottish king, passed over into Normandy.
Negotiations were then entered into by Philip, who demanded that all the
Continental provinces subject to England, with the exception of Normandy,
should be given up to Arthur, and that a large portion of Normandy should
be resigned to the French crown. Such terms could not be accepted, and
the war continued.

The young prince, whose claims to the English throne gave rise to so much
bloodshed and revolution, appeared to have been marked for misfortune
from his birth. He was a posthumous child, his father, Geoffrey, Duke of
Brittany, second son of Henry II., having been killed in a tournament
several months before Arthur came into the world. The Bretons, who were
perpetually struggling for independence against the overwhelming force
of France on the one hand, and of England on the other, hailed the birth
of their native prince with enthusiastic joy, and when his grandfather
desired to give him the name of Henry, they one and all insisted that
he should be called Arthur--a name which was held in as much honour by
them as among their kindred, the Bretons of Wales. The latter people, who
held tenaciously by their ancient traditions handed down by the bards
from generation to generation, believed firmly that they were destined
once more to possess the whole island of Britain. The confidence they
expressed in this wild hope, opposed as it was to all probability, caused
them to be regarded both in England and France as having the gift of
prophecy. The songs of their ancient poets, imaginative and obscure, were
supposed to possess a hidden meaning which was traced in the political
events occurring many years afterwards. Hence arose the strange stories
related of Myrddin, a Cambrian bard of the seventh century, who, after
a lapse of five hundred years, had become celebrated under the name of
the enchanter Merlin. To this source, also, is to be attributed the
extraordinary fame of King Arthur, of whose existence no authentic
records remain, but to whom the glowing imaginations of the Welsh poets
attributed superhuman valour and virtues. The writings of that people,
when translated into the languages of the Continent, were read with
avidity. The troubadours of Provence completed the picture drawn by the
Welsh, and from the shadowy outline furnished by tradition, produced
that vigorous portraiture of a perfect knight, which became celebrated
throughout Europe. The Welsh placed the most entire confidence in the
prediction of Merlin, that King Arthur would return to them and restore
their ancient glory; and this belief was shared by the Bretons of the
Continent. These were the reasons which induced the latter people to
call their young chief by the name of Arthur; and as the child grew in
strength and beauty, they hoped to see the day when their independence
should be restored through him, and he should rule them without the
control of French or English.

[Illustration: JOHN.]

While the Bretons were fighting against Richard I., Constance, the
mother of Arthur, relinquished their support, and carried her son first
to the court of Richard, and then to that of the King of France. When
John ascended the throne, Arthur was placed under the protection of
Philip, to whom the boy-prince was made to surrender the independence
of Brittany, Maine, Touraine, and Anjou, by acknowledging him as feudal
suzerain of those provinces. Constance was a woman of little virtue,
and seems to have cared more about the prosecution of her own intrigues
than the welfare and safety of her child. The Bretons, headed by William
Desroches, firmly maintained the attitude they had assumed; while John,
with his army of mercenaries, advanced upon their lands, spreading
ruin and devastation around him--burning the villages, and selling the
inhabitants as slaves. Philip marched a body of troops to the assistance
of Desroches, took possession of several towns of Brittany, and seized
some castles on the frontiers belonging to the English.

He, by way of securing Arthur for the future, conferred upon him the
honour of knighthood, and even promised him the hand of his daughter
Mary in marriage. This friendly attitude, however, did not exist long.
Philip soon perceived that it was impossible to retain possession of his
new territories, so long as he was opposed by the inhabitants themselves
on the one hand, and the arms of the King of England on the other. He
therefore determined to arrange a peace with John, and for that purpose
he completely sacrificed the interests of the young prince, to whom he
had so lately promised an alliance with himself. By a treaty concluded in
the following year (1200) between the two kings, it was agreed that John
should retain possession of all the provinces held by his father, and
Arthur was compelled to do homage to his uncle for Anjou, Brittany, and
Maine. In return John did homage to Philip for his French possessions.
The treaty was cemented by a marriage alliance; John promising to young
Louis, the French king's heir, the hand of his niece, Blanche of Castille.

In spite of the act which thus deprived young Arthur of his inheritance,
he remained at the French court, where Philip retained him, to be brought
forward in case of any new cause of offence on the part of John. It was
not long before such an occurrence took place. With the exception of
Normandy, the only province under the Anglo-Norman rule which refrained
from open rebellion against John was that of Aquitaine. Peace had been
maintained there chiefly by the influence of Queen Eleanor, who was the
representative of the ancient lords of the province, and to whose person
the people had always shown great attachment. In the summer of the year
1200 John made a progress through this part of his dominions, and, by the
pomp and parade with which he appeared, had a favourable effect upon the
lively and impressible children of the south. On this occasion John, who
was a tolerably good actor, exerted all his powers to obtain popularity,
and strove to hide his naturally tyrannical and vindictive temper under
a smiling face and affable manner. It appears that he was only partially
successful. He had not sufficient patience or self-control to continue
long this kind of deceit, and on some trifling provocation his real
character would display itself. He was already married, and had been so
for ten years, to Hadwisa, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester, a gentle
and amiable woman; but John was as remarkable for licentiousness as for
cruelty, and his passions were under no restraint, except from his fears.
At the time of his visit to Aquitaine he saw a lady whose beauty was
celebrated throughout the French provinces, and who immediately attracted
his lawless admiration. This was Isabella, the daughter of the Count of
Angoulême, lately betrothed to Hugh, Count of La Marche. Regardless of
the ties by which both she and himself were bound, John seized possession
of her person and took her to Angoulême, where the ceremony of marriage
was performed between them by the Archbishop of Bordeaux. A few months
later he returned to England, carrying with him his new wife, who was
crowned at Westminster by the Archbishop of Canterbury. John himself
was recrowned on that occasion. He then gave himself up to indolence
and luxury, not knowing or caring how the kingdom was governed; heeding
little the disaffection of his people at home, or the indignation which
his tyranny had excited throughout France.

The Count of La Marche was a young and powerful chief, who was not likely
to endure without resistance the grievous wrong he had suffered. The
barons, his neighbours, made his cause their own; and when he raised the
standard of rebellion they armed their retainers in his service. John,
apprised of the storm which was gathering in the south, summoned his
lords to attend him with their troops. Many of them at once refused,
and said openly that they would not unsheathe their swords in such a
paltry and dishonourable war. There were some high-minded men among
the Anglo-Norman barons; but the majority of them were not apt to be
so scrupulous, and their refusal was dictated by no other reason than
their hatred to the king. They afterwards proposed to accompany him
on condition of all their rights and liberties being restored. John's
rage on this occasion gave him energy; and for a time he asserted his
authority by compelling the barons to pay the tax of scutage, and to give
hostages in place of their personal service. He then crossed over into
Normandy, accompanied by Isabella, and proceeded to Paris, where he was
received by Philip--a much abler hypocrite--with great show of courtesy.
On his refusal, however, to answer the charges brought against him by
the Poitevins, Louis declared his French provinces forfeited. The French
king had already entered into an alliance with the Count of La Marche,
and was at that moment engaged in organising a formidable insurrection in
Brittany. A part of Aquitaine still remained quiet under the influence
of Eleanor; and through this district John passed in state after he had
quitted Paris. He, however, did not go for the purpose of fighting, and
soon marched back again, having produced no other effect than to inspire
the insurgents with contempt for so aimless a demonstration.

In the year 1202 the struggle at length commenced, which was destined
to give a fatal blow to the Plantagenet power in France. It has been
considered probable that had the successors of Henry II. possessed the
abilities which distinguished that monarch, they would ultimately have
extended their authority over the whole of France; but if we regard the
relative geographical positions of the two countries, and the turbulent
and warlike character of the French people, it will appear unlikely that
such a condition of affairs could have been long maintained, and that,
on the contrary, it was almost a matter of certainty that the French
provinces would sooner or later become separated from the English crown;
but that separation took place at a much earlier period than it otherwise
would have done, in consequence of the indolence and pusillanimity of
John. Philip, who had waited only to arrange certain differences in
which he had been engaged with the Pope, now openly declared himself in
favour of the claims of Arthur, and of the cause of the men of Aquitaine.
He proclaimed the young prince Count of Brittany, Anjou, and Poitou,
and gave him 200 knights, with whom he directed him to march and take
possession of those provinces, and to conquer the towns of Poitou, which
were in the hands of the English king. Arthur entered into a treaty, by
which he resigned to Philip all the Norman territory of which the king
had become possessed, or which he might obtain during the expedition
which he was preparing to take into that province. Arthur then raised
his standard and appealed for aid to the Bretons, who promptly responded
to the call by joining in alliance with the Poitevins, and sending their
prince 500 knights and 400 foot. These with 100 men-at-arms from Touraine
and Poitou, and the small body of French troops, was all the force at his
command. It did not suit the purpose of Philip to place too much power
in the hands of the boy, to whom he never meant to resign any portion of
those territories for which Arthur believed himself to be fighting.

Arthur was now an orphan, his mother Constance having died during his
stay at the French court; he was in his fifteenth year, and therefore,
though possessing all the valour of his race, he was necessarily
deficient in knowledge of the art of war, and experience in the field.
Nevertheless, the boy leader rode gallantly at the head of his little
army, and led them against the town of Mirabel, in which his grandmother,
Eleanor of Aquitaine, was then shut up. His advisers may probably have
reminded him that Eleanor had always been the enemy of his mother, and
that, could he take her prisoner, it would be an important step towards
bringing the king, his uncle, to terms. Whether Arthur was or was not
aware that his grandmother was within the town, the circumstance proved
fatal to the success of the expedition. The town surrendered without
much resistance, but not before Eleanor had thrown herself into the
castle, which was very strong, and there this Amazon of eighty maintained
a vigorous defence against the attacks of the prince, whose troops
had occupied the town. The Breton army remained in apparent security,
when John, who on this occasion displayed an extraordinary degree of
activity, suddenly appeared before the gates of Mirabel. The troops of
Arthur, though taken by surprise, made a gallant resistance, and it was
only by means of treachery that, on the night of the 31st of July, John
obtained possession of the town. The prince was taken while asleep, and
the other leaders of the insurrection were made prisoners without the
opportunity of resistance. Among these were the unhappy Count of La
Marche, Isabella's former lover: the Viscounts of Thouars, Limoges, and
Lusignan, and nearly 200 other nobles and knights of fame.

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF JOHN.]

Of the fate of the young Prince Arthur, no authentic details have been
recorded. That his youth and innocence did not save him from the bloody
hands of John, is certain, but of the manner in which he came by his
death we can form an idea only by comparing the different stories which
are current on the subject among the old chroniclers. Arthur was conveyed
by his uncle to the castle of Falaise, whence he was removed to that of
Rouen. There he disappeared, and there ends the narrative of sober fact,
the rest bringing us into the region of conjecture and probability.
The Normans, who remained loyal to the English king, spread a report
that Arthur died of sickness in the castle of Rouen, or was killed in
attempting to make his escape; this statement may be at once rejected
as a mere invention, and not a very ingenious one. The account given by
some of the French chroniclers is to the following effect:--John having
visited his nephew at Falaise, desired him to put confidence in his
uncle. Arthur rejected his advances, and said indignantly, "Give me my
inheritance, the kingdom of England." The king then sent him to Rouen,
strongly guarded, and not long afterwards he suddenly disappeared. It
was suspected by all men that John had murdered his nephew with his own
hands, and he became the object of the deepest hatred. The monks of
Margan relate that John killed the prince in a fit of drunkenness, and
caused his body to be thrown into the Seine, with stones tied at his
feet, but that, notwithstanding these, it was cast on the bank, and was
buried at the abbey of Bec secretly, for fear of the tyrant.

The story current among the Bretons was nearly similar, with the
difference of a change of scene. They related that John having feigned
to be reconciled to his nephew, took him from the castle of Rouen, and
caused him to ride in his company in the direction of Cherbourg, keeping
near to the sea coast. Towards nightfall one evening, when the prince had
ridden with his perfidious uncle in advance of their escort, they arrived
at the top of a high cliff overlooking the sea, and John suddenly seized
the boy round the waist and threw him over the cliff. Another account,
more circumstantial, which has been generally received as likely to be
the correct one, is given by Ralph, Abbot of Coggeshall. The story is
as follows:--The king's councillors, having represented to him that the
Bretons would continue their rebellion so long as Prince Arthur was in
a condition to assume the sovereignty, suggested that the eyes of the
boy should be put out, in order to render him unfit to govern. Some
ruffians in the king's service were sent to the dungeon at Falaise to
execute this cruel deed, but the tears and prayers of the youth, and
his helpless condition, moved even their hearts to pity, and Hubert de
Burgh, the warden of the castle, took advantage of their hesitation to
forward an earnest appeal for mercy to the king. The only result of the
petition was the removal of the prince from Falaise to Rouen. On the 3rd
of April, 1203, he was roused from his sleep, and desired to descend
to the foot of that tower, beside which flowed the placid waters of the
Seine. At the bottom of the steps he saw a boat, in which was seated the
king, his uncle, attended by an esquire named Peter de Mauley. The boy
shrank back in terror, anticipating the fate which awaited him, and fell
on his knees before his uncle, making a last appeal for mercy. But John,
whose heart was harder than those of the vilest wretches in his pay, gave
the sign, and the murder was committed. Some relate that the esquire
hesitated to obey the sign, and that John himself seized his nephew by
the hair, ran him through the body, and threw him into the water. Other
writers, however, assert that de Mauley was the actual murderer, and this
statement is confirmed by the fact that soon afterwards John gave him the
hand of a rich heiress in marriage, in all likelihood as the reward of
his services.

[Illustration: _By permission, from the Painting in the City of
Manchester Art Gallery._





[Illustration: MURDER OF PRINCE ARTHUR. (_See p._ 257.)]

However near the truth these different statements may have been, it is
certain that the rumour of the murder was spread throughout Brittany
during the same month of April. The indignation of the people was
universal; they had believed their future destiny to be connected with
that of their prince, and they professed the greatest attachment to the
French king, as the enemy of his murderer. The elder sister of Arthur,
the Maid of Brittany--whose lot was scarcely more fortunate than that of
her brother--was confined in a monastery at Bristol, where she remained
for forty years; but the people declared Alice, daughter of Constance by
her last husband, and half-sister to Arthur, to be their duchess, and
appointed her father, Guy of Thouars, as their regent or governor. The
barons of the province then appeared before Philip, to whom, as their
feudal suzerain, they complained of the murder of their prince. Philip
eagerly availed himself of the appeal, and cited John, as his vassal
for the duchy of Normandy, before the court of the barons of France, to
whom, it may be noted, the name of peers was now first given. The accused
monarch did not put in an appearance, and was condemned by the court to
the forfeiture of all the lands which he held of the kingdom of France,
possession of which was to be taken by arms.

No sooner did Philip appear with his forces on the frontier of Poitou,
than the inhabitants rose to join his standard, and when he returned to
attack Normandy, he found he was anticipated by the Bretons, who had
occupied the whole of that portion of the duchy which bordered on their
territories. They took by assault the strong castle of Mount St. Michael,
seized upon Avranches, and burned the villages which lay between that
city and Caen. These successes gave new strength to the expedition of the
French king, who, joined by the people of Anjou and Maine, took Bayeux,
Evreux, Domfront, and Lisieux, and then joined the Breton army at Caen.
While this formidable confederacy menaced him on every side, John was
passing his days in voluptuous indolence, or in the sports of the field;
he again refused to answer complaints at Paris. When his courtiers
brought him intelligence of new successes on the part of his enemies,
he expressed his contempt of the rabble of Bretons and of anything they
could do; but when, in the month of December, the insurgents appeared in
the neighbourhood of Rouen, he suddenly became aware of the danger in
which he was placed, and fled over into England.

On his arrival he demanded the aid of the barons to raise an army for
his service, but the call was responded to with the utmost apathy. It
would appear that the Anglo-Norman lords no longer possessed the great
estates they had formerly held in Normandy; for had such been the case
it is not probable that their hatred to the king would have induced them
to disregard their own interests. After in vain attempting to raise
a sufficient force to oppose the French king, John appealed to Rome
(1205), and Pope Innocent sent two legates into France for the purpose
of negotiating a peace. Philip, however, who had everything to gain by
prolonging the war, not unnaturally refused to listen to the entreaties
of the legates, and their mission ended without success.

When John fled from Normandy, there remained in his possession throughout
the duchy only the town of Rouen, and the fortresses of Château-Gaillard
and Verneuil. The people of Rouen held out until they were reduced to
the last extremity by famine, when, having concluded a truce of thirty
days with the French king, they sent to John praying for succour. The
messengers found the king playing at chess, and while they told their
deplorable tale, he remained seated at his game, and gave them no answer.
When the game was over, he told them that he had no means of helping
them, and that they must do the best they could. This was the only
recognition he made of the heroic struggle of the citizens on his behalf.
Rouen surrendered, the two castles soon afterwards followed its example,
and the conquest of Normandy was complete. This duchy was then finally
restored to the French crown, after having been separated from it for 292
years. Within the same year, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, Poitou, and Brittany
also fell under the authority of Philip, and John retained only a few
castles in those provinces besides the territory of Aquitaine, which
remained nominally under his rule.

The Bretons soon discovered that, so far from having recovered their
independence, they had changed the tyranny of a weak arm for that of a
strong one. Disgusted with the supremacy of the King of France, they made
efforts which proved fruitless to renew their alliance with John, and
then, with a sort of suicidal ferocity, they aided their new sovereign
to destroy the independence of their neighbours. In the year 1206, John
landed an army at La Rochelle, whence he proceeded to the Loire, taking
the castle of Montauban, and burning the town of Angers. His energy,
however, did not last long, and for several months he gave himself up
to feasting and debauchery. Aroused once more, he passed on to the town
of Nantes, to which he laid siege; but on the approach of Philip with
an army, he raised the siege, and proposed to negotiate with the French
king. During the negotiations John ran away to England covered with
disgrace. By the intervention of the Pope, however, a truce for two years
was then arranged between the two kings.

Degraded as he was in the eyes of all honourable men, John retained his
arrogance, and governed his kingdom with greater tyranny than ever. In
the following year (1207) he defied the authority of the power which
was concentred in the Holy See, now so formidable throughout Europe,
and which he, of all men, was least fitted to resist. The ground of the
quarrel was the right of the crown to the appointment of bishops.

Archbishop Hubert, of Canterbury, died in 1205, and a dispute arose
between the monks of the cathedral and the suffragan bishops of the
diocese, both parties claiming the right to elect the new archbishop.
Some of the younger monks proceeded to settle the question off-hand,
and without consulting the bishops or the king, secretly elected their
sub-prior, Reginald. He was sent to Rome; but before reaching the Pope
he bragged of his good fortune, and the news reached England. The elder
monks took alarm, went to the king and agreed to elect John de Grey,
Bishop of Norwich, who was one of John's ministers. He also was sent to
Rome, and shortly afterwards appeared representatives from the bishops,
who were angry at being altogether disregarded. Innocent settled the
knotty question in a masterly manner. He decided that the right of
election lay neither with the king nor the bishops, but with the monks;
the election of Reginald, however, had been irregular, and, therefore,
he ordered such of the monks as were at Rome to elect an entirely new
candidate, Stephen Langton, cardinal priest of St. Chrysogonus. John,
however, was determined that his favourite, John de Grey, Bishop of
Norwich, should receive the appointment, and he sent two knights with a
body of soldiers to Canterbury to drive the rebellious monks out of the
country. Once more those walls which had witnessed the murder of Becket
were profaned by a deed of violence; the monks were compelled to quit
their monastery and take refuge in Flanders, where they were received
into the religious houses.

Innocent, who was a man of great ability, sent a temperate letter to the
king, demanding redress for this outrage; but John returned an insolent
reply, and set the Pontiff at defiance. Soon afterwards the Bishops of
London, Ely, and Worcester received directions from Rome to wait upon
the king, and in case they were still unable to obtain redress for the
injury, to threaten him with an interdict upon the whole kingdom. John
heard the threat with transports of rage, and swore that if the bishops
dared to lay his states under an interdict, he would seize upon their
property, and drive them and their clergy penniless to Rome; that if
any Roman priests dared to appear in the country, he would cut off
their noses and tear out their eyes, and so make them a witness of his
vengeance before the nations. Undeterred by these savage menaces, the
bishops proclaimed the interdict on the 23rd of March, 1208, and then
fled across the Channel. The interdict was carried out to the fullest
extent by the unanimous concurrence of the clergy. During this time
the country lay as it were in mourning, the churches were closed, the
pictures of the saints covered with black cloth, and their relics
laid on ashes in the aisles; the priests refused their offices, with
the exception of administering the rite of baptism to infants and the
sacrament to the dying; and the command of Rome suspended all public
prayers to Heaven. At the end of the year Innocent proceeded to further
measures, and issued against John the sentence of excommunication.

The king now became alarmed at his position. He saw the spirit of
disaffection increasing among his barons; he had made enemies of the
clergy, and he was hated by the people. Abroad, the aspect of affairs
was no less menacing. He knew that the Pope would follow up the sentence
of excommunication by proclaiming his dethronement, and declaring him
unworthy to rule in a Christian land; and he perceived that Philip was
making ready to invade England, armed with the authority of the Holy See.
Wherever he looked he saw none but enemies, and it was evident that his
downfall would be attended with a general rejoicing throughout Europe. It
is related by Matthew Paris that at this moment of danger John applied
for succour to the Emir al Nassir, the powerful chief of the Moslems of
Spain. It was even reported that he had offered to embrace the religion
of Mahomet, and to become a vassal of the Emir, in return for the
assistance he demanded. Improbable and disgraceful as such an offer would
have been, there is no doubt that John was capable of making it; but if
he did so, it was not accepted, and the king was compelled to give up the
attempt to obtain assistance from abroad.

For the purpose of raising an army, John determined to obtain money by
any and every means in his power, and in the spring of 1210 he commenced
a series of exactions, compared with which those of his predecessors had
been moderate. He employed the most lawless means of forcing their hoards
from his subjects, and especially from the Jews, who, as the richest,
were invariably the first to suffer on such occasions. He declared that
his object was to drive the French king from Normandy; but as soon as
he had raised an army, he crossed over into Ireland, where the English
nobles had thrown off his authority. He landed on the 6th of June, and on
his arrival at Dublin many of the native chiefs came to offer him their
homage. With their assistance he marched through the country, destroying
the castles of the insurgent barons, who were totally unprepared for
resistance, and within a few weeks he had reduced them to submission.
He then established English laws in the island, appointing officers to
see them duly executed; he also directed that the same coins of money
should be used in the two countries--a measure by which the interests of
commerce were greatly promoted. Having appointed John de Grey, Bishop of
Norwich, to the government of the island, he returned to England. This
expedition, in which he encountered no opposition, encouraged him to make
a descent upon Wales in the following year (1211). For this purpose more
money was required, and he obtained it by measures more flagitious, if
possible, than before. He summoned before him all the heads of religious
establishments, abbots and abbesses, and compelled them to deliver up
the property of the Church into his hands. Having exhausted this source
of supply, he again attacked the unfortunate Jews, visiting them with
imprisonment and the torture to force a compliance with his peremptory

Having now raised a great army the king entered Wales and penetrated as
far as Snowdon. The people could make no resistance against the force
brought against them, and they were compelled to pay to him a tribute
of cattle, and to give twenty-eight hostages, the sons of their chiefs,
as security for their fidelity. But the efforts made by John to destroy
their independence proved altogether fruitless. Their strength now, as in
former years, lay in their mountain fastnesses; the spirit of freedom has
her seat among mountains in every age and country. Within a year after
the king's return to England, the Welsh were again up in arms. As soon
as the news was brought to John he hanged the unhappy youths who were
in his hands as hostages, and he was preparing for another descent upon
Wales, when he learnt that a conspiracy was forming against him among
the English barons. He then immediately relinquished his intention, and
shut himself up for fifteen days in Nottingham Castle, where he seems to
have stayed in something like an extremity of fear. His acts at this time
were dictated entirely by impulses, now of cruelty, now of cowardice,
and cannot be accounted for by any rational rule of conduct. Suddenly he
recovered his courage, quitted Nottingham, and marched to Chester, once
more declaring that he would exterminate the Welsh; then as suddenly he
retraced his steps and marched into Northumberland, where the barons
were in arms against him. It would appear that he lived in continual
dread of his life, suffering no one to approach him but his immediate
attendants and favourites, whose fidelity he secured by his gold, and
keeping himself surrounded by large bodies of foreign mercenaries. Hated
as he knew himself to be, he made no attempt to change his tyrannical
conduct, or to conciliate the regard of the people, but, on the contrary,
each day witnessed some new act of cruelty, which rendered him still more
obnoxious to his subjects.

At length Pope Innocent listened to the prayers of the English exiles,
solemnly proclaimed the deposition of the English king, as an enemy to
the Church of Christ, and called upon all Christian princes to take up
arms against him, and to join in hurling him from the throne. Stephen
Langton, the banished Archbishop of Canterbury, with other prelates,
appeared with the Pope's letters at the French court, there called
together a solemn council, and informed the king and lords of France
that the Pope gave his sanction to the invasion of England. Innocent
promised to Philip the remission of his sins provided he accepted and
fulfilled the solemn commission with which he was charged. Philip had
other inducements to do so, which were sufficiently strong, and he at
once collected an army on the coast of Normandy, and caused a fleet of
1,700 vessels to be made ready at Boulogne and other ports to convey it
across the Channel.


Aroused by the imminence of the danger, John appealed to his subjects to
resist the foreign invader, and collected all the vessels in the kingdom
which were capable of being used as transports. Then, under the influence
of one of his fits of energy, he acted with boldness and determination;
and before the French fleet had quitted Normandy the English vessels
crossed the Channel, and swept along the coast. The superiority already
attained by the English sailors was clearly shown on this occasion, and
was soon to be still more decisively manifested. A French squadron at the
mouth of the Seine was destroyed by the English, who also burned down
the town of Dieppe, and returned triumphantly, the fleet at Boulogne not
having ventured to leave the harbour.

While success thus crowned the arms of John on the sea, he possessed
on shore a numerous army of stout English yeomen, who had joined
his standard, and who, whatever might be their feelings towards him
personally, would doubtless have fought well to save their country from
a foreign yoke. But John's courage seldom endured beyond the first
moments of excitement, and when he found time to calculate risks and
chances, he consulted his own safety by any means in his power. He took
no measures for following up his successes, and it was evident that, in
spite of his haughty defiance of the power of Rome, he would now be glad
to escape from his dangerous position by humbling himself before it.
Pandulph, the legate of the Pope, who fully understood the character of
John, obtained permission to land in England, and presented himself in
the royal presence. He laid before the king the impolicy of his course
of action, the danger he incurred from the French king, whose formidable
preparations he described, and the probability of a general rebellion
among the English barons. The facts were undeniable, and urged as they
were with all the skill and eloquence of an able diplomatist, they
produced the greatest alarm in the breast of the tyrant. This feeling was
increased by the prediction of a hermit named Peter, who asserted that
before Ascension Day, which was three days distant, the king would have
ceased to reign. Irreligious as he was, John was by no means free from
superstition, and he seems to have attached more weight to the words of
the friar, which he believed foretold his death, than to the arguments
of the legate. After some hesitation, his fears prevailed, and he agreed
to sign an agreement or treaty with the Pope, by which he bound himself
to fulfil all the Church's demands, the refusal of which had caused his
excommunication; to restore the monks of Canterbury to their lands; to
receive into favour all the exiled clergy, especially Stephen Langton,
the Archbishop of Canterbury; and to make satisfaction to both clergy
and laity for any injuries they had sustained in consequence of the
interdict, paying down a sum of £8,000 as a first instalment of such

Pandulph agreed, in the Pope's name, that on the performance of these
conditions the interdict should be removed from the country, and that
the servants of the Church, including the exiled bishops, should swear
fidelity to the king. Four of the chief barons of the kingdom bore
witness to this compact, which was solemnly concluded. By this agreement
John suffered no peculiar indignity, but it was immediately followed
by a proceeding in the highest degree disgraceful, and which can only
be accounted for by the subtle art with which the legate worked upon
the fears of the pusillanimous monarch. On the 15th of May, 1213, John
proceeded at an early hour in the morning to the church of the Templars
at Dover, and there, in the presence of the bishops and nobles of the
realm, he knelt down before Pandulph, placed his crown in his hands,
and took the oath of fealty to the Pope. At the same time he gave into
the hands of the legate a document which set forth that he, the King of
England, Lord of Ireland, in atonement for his sins against God and the
Church, did of his own free will, and with the consent of the barons,
surrender into the hands of Pope Innocent and his successors for ever,
the kingdom of England and lordship of Ireland, to hold them henceforth
as fiefs of the Holy See, John and his successors paying for them a
yearly tribute of 700 marks for England, and 300 marks for Ireland.

On the following day, which was the Feast of the Ascension, John awoke
with something of the feeling of a criminal whose hour of execution has
arrived. The words of the hermit Peter caused him to tremble even more
than the thunders of Rome; and he watched the long hours till sunset,
anticipating the stroke which was to end his hateful existence. When the
time of the prediction had passed away, and he found himself still alive,
he caused Peter and his son to be dragged at the tails of horses to the
gibbet where they were executed as a punishment for the terror they had
caused him. But it was commonly said among the people that the monk had
told no lie; and that John had ceased to be a king when he laid his crown
at the feet of a foreign priest.

The Holy See, having secured a humble and subservient vassal in the King
of England, now espoused his cause, and undertook to defend him against
his enemies. Pandulph returned to France, and forbade Philip to prosecute
the war, or to invade a kingdom which was under the protection of the
Church. Philip thought proper to argue the matter on religious grounds,
and said that he had expended large sums of money upon this expedition,
for the purpose of obtaining, according to the promise of the Pontiff,
the remission of his sins. The legate seems to have cared little about
this circumstance, and simply repeated his prohibition. Philip then
continued his march towards the coast, prepared to defy the authority
of the Holy See, and to continue the expedition, now no longer for the
remission of his sins, but avowedly for more worldly ends. His design,
however, was frustrated by the disaffection of his vassals, to whom the
command of the Pope served as a sufficient justification of rebellion.
The Count of Flanders withdrew his forces from the expedition, declaring
that he would not engage in such an unjust war. Philip immediately
followed him into Flanders, intending to punish his rebellion by seizing
upon the whole province. Several towns and fortresses fell into the
French king's hands, who passed on, and laid siege to the strong city of
Ghent. The Count of Flanders then applied to John for assistance, which
it was manifestly to his interest to grant, and which, therefore, was not

The English fleet set sail from the harbour of Portsmouth; 500 vessels,
having on board 700 knights and a large force of infantry, under
the command of William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, a son of "fair
Rosamond," and William, Earl of Holland. They bore down upon the coast of
Flanders, and approached the port of Damme, in which the French fleet,
three times more numerous, was lying at anchor. Many of the French
troops and sailors were then absent from the ships, engaged in predatory
excursions throughout the country. As the English neared the coast, they
saw a number of vessels lying outside the harbour, which, capacious as
it was, could not contain them all. Shallops, or fishing boats, were
then sent in to reconnoitre, and returned with the news that the fleet
had been left without sufficient hands to defend it. No time was lost.
The "tall ships" along the coast were attacked, and captured with little
difficulty. The smaller vessels, which, when the tide went down, were
left upon the beach, were plundered and set on fire, the men on board
escaping to the shore. The English then approached the harbour, for the
purpose of attacking the fleet within it; but here a delay took place,
in consequence of the difficulty of bringing a large force to bear in so
confined a space.

The period of inaction, however, did not last long, and the fleet, on the
preparation of which Philip had exhausted his resources, was annihilated.
When the conquerors had returned thanks to Heaven for their victory, they
sent 300 of the prizes to England; these were richly laden with stores
for the French army--corn, oil, wine, and other provisions. Others of
the ships which were on shore, were burnt within the harbour. A portion
of the fleet, which lay higher up, protected by the town, still remained
uninjured; and the English, having landed, were joined by the Count of
Flanders, and proceeded to attack the place. Meanwhile the French king
had learnt the destruction of his fleet, and having raised the siege
of Ghent, was advancing with the utmost rapidity. The English and the
Flemings made a gallant defence in the engagement which soon afterwards
took place; but the force opposed to them was overwhelming, and they
were compelled to retreat to their ships, with a loss which is stated by
the French to have been 2,000 men. But the English had no intention of
relinquishing the contest, and from the shores of the Isle of Walcheren,
they watched their opportunity for renewing the attack. Philip perceived
that the unskilfulness of his seamen left no hope of preserving the
remainder of his ships, and he therefore set fire to them himself, that
they might not fall into the enemy's hands. It was evident that the
project of invading England must now be abandoned, the French king having
no means of transporting his troops across the Channel. He even found
it impossible to maintain them in Flanders, and was compelled to make
a hasty retreat into his own territories, with scarcely an effort to
maintain possession of the towns he had taken.

Elated by the success of his arms, John assumed all his old arrogance
of demeanour, and showed little disposition to fulfil the terms of
the treaty into which he had entered with the Pope. He now determined
to invade France, and for this purpose he summoned the barons of the
kingdom to attend him at Portsmouth with their troops. They obeyed the
command; but when, in warlike array, they appeared before the king,
they refused to set sail unless the exiled bishops were immediately
recalled, according to his promise. John was compelled to submit, and
Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, with the Bishops of London,
Ely, Lincoln, Bath, and Hereford, were restored to their benefices. The
monks of Canterbury also returned in peace to their cloister. The king
and the archbishop met each other at Winchester, where they exchanged a
kiss of amity, and Langton gave the king absolution for the injuries done
to himself and his colleagues; John once more taking an oath to execute
justice, and to preserve his fealty to the Pope. But Stephen Langton, one
of the ablest men who ever had filled the archiepiscopal chair, was not
likely to place much confidence in the promises of the king; and John
evidently regarded the archbishop with bitter hatred, as the cause of all
his troubles.

[Illustration: JOHN DOING HOMAGE TO THE POPE'S LEGATE. (_See p._ 262.)]


Leaving directions for the barons to follow him with all speed, John
embarked a body of troops in a few ships, and reached the island of
Jersey. The barons, however, were little disposed to follow their
cowardly king; and the scheme for securing their liberties, which, in
a vague and indefinite form, had long held possession of their minds,
now began to assume strength and consistency. They excused themselves
from following the king, by the assertion that their term of feudal
service was expired; and, profiting by his absence, proceeded to hold a
great council at St. Albans, at which they formulated the complaints
of the nation, and threatened with death such of the king's officers as
should exceed their provisions. Meanwhile, John, having looked in vain
for the appearance of the barons, returned from Jersey in a transport
of rage, and, collecting his army of mercenaries, marched towards the
north, burning up and devastating the lands of the rebellious nobles.
At Northampton, he was met by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who openly
censured these acts of violence, and told him that, according to his
oath, his vassals ought to be tried by their peers, and not crushed
by arms. "Mind you your church," the king replied, "and leave me to
govern the state." He then continued his march to Nottingham; but here,
Langton, who joined the courage of the soldier to the wisdom of the
priest, again presented himself in the royal presence, and this time with
more determined carriage. He calmly told the king that if such a course
of action was continued, he would excommunicate all the ministers and
officers of the crown who obeyed the royal will. John seldom maintained
his ground against a determined opponent, and he now gave way once
more, and, as a matter of form, summoned the barons to meet him, or his
justices. Having thus stopped the tyrannous career of the king, the brave
archbishop proceeded to London, where, on the 25th of August, he called
a second council of the barons, and read to them the provisions of the
charter granted by Henry I. on his accession. In that assembly of feudal
lords he delivered an address advocating the principles of liberty and
justice; and, having induced the council to adopt as the basis of their
operations the charter of Henry I., he caused them to swear fidelity to
each other, and to the cause in which they were embarked. A month later,
the Cardinal Nicholas, a new legate of the Pope, arrived in England, for
the purpose of receiving the indemnity which had been promised by John,
and of removing the interdict from the kingdom. Once more John appeared
on his knees, renewing his oath of fealty to Innocent, and doing homage
to the legate. He paid the sum of 15,000 marks to the bishops, and
undertook to give them 40,000 more. The interdict was then removed, the
churches lost their funereal appearance, and once more the bells rang
out their daily call to prayer. The cause of liberty has never been long
maintained by the Church of Rome; and as soon as the submission of John
was thus completely assured, she relinquished her support of the barons,
and commanded her bishops to give their unreserved allegiance to the
king. The nobles, however, still relied upon the strength of their cause,
although unblessed by the Pope; and Stephen Langton remained firmly at
their head, as one who dared do right though all the world forbade it.

The following year (1214) was rendered memorable by the battle of
Bouvines, in which the French gained a complete victory over English,
Flemish, and German troops. A powerful confederacy, in which John took
a prominent part, had been formed against the French king. Ferrand,
Count of Flanders, Reynaud, Count of Boulogne, and Otho, Emperor of
Germany, determined, along with John, to invade France simultaneously,
and to divide that kingdom among themselves. The partition was already
made: Ferrand was to receive Paris, with the Isle of France, Reynaud the
country of Vermandois, John the territory beyond the Loire, and Otho all
the remaining provinces. The English king dispatched a body of troops,
commanded by William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, to Valenciennes,
which had been appointed the headquarters of the confederates; he then
proceeded to Poitou, whence he led his army into Brittany. Philip, who
was thus menaced on both sides, sent his son Louis to oppose the troops
of John, and to prevent his advance. This was not difficult, and the
cowardice or indecision of the English king kept him in a state of
inactivity, while his allies were being utterly routed. Philip, whose
forces were inferior in number to those of his enemies, gave them battle
at Bouvines, a village between Lisle and Tournay, and after a sanguinary
conflict the Earl of Salisbury, the Count of Flanders, and the Count of
Boulogne were taken prisoners, together with great numbers of nobles and
knights of inferior rank. The Bishop of Beauvais, whose martial spirit
was untamed by his long imprisonment, appeared again in the field on this
occasion, and he it was who took prisoner the gallant William Longsword.
The bishop, however, no longer used a sword, but carried in its stead a
formidable club, with which he laid about him, having satisfied himself,
by some curious logical process, that in doing so he was acting in
accordance with the canon of the Church, which forbade her priests to
shed blood. He was not the only bishop who distinguished himself on that
day as a warrior. Guerin of Senlis appeared among the French troops, like
Odo of Bayeux among the soldiers of the Conqueror, bearing a wand, or
staff of authority, with which he waved them on to victory. The battle of
Bouvines, which was fought on the 27th of July, 1214, completed the ruin
of John.

A few months later John made proposals for a truce, which he obtained for
five years, on condition of restoring all the towns and fortresses which
he had taken during the expedition. He then made a disgraceful retreat
to England, where, with the true spirit of a coward, he vented upon his
unoffending subjects that rage which he dared not display towards his
foes. He disregarded all the vows he had taken, and let loose his foreign
mercenaries over the country, who oppressed and robbed the people in
every direction, unrestrained by law, and secure of the king's favour.
But his career of tyranny was now drawing to a close. Each day which
was marked by new acts of oppression cemented more closely the league
among the barons, who only waited an opportunity of assembling together
for the purpose of arranging a combined movement. Such an opportunity
presented itself at the feast of St. Edmund, on the 20th of November,
when pilgrims of all ranks, from every part of the country, proceeded
to St. Edmundsbury to offer their devotions at the shrine of the saint.
Mingling with the crowd of worshippers, the champions of freedom advanced
one by one in order of seniority to the high altar, on which they placed
their swords, and swore that if the king refused to admit the rights
they demanded from him, they would one and all abandon their allegiance,
renounce their vows of fealty, and compel him by force of arms to sign a
charter granting their just requests. Having agreed to assemble at the
court for this purpose during the approaching festival of Christmas, they

When Christmas Day arrived John was at Worcester, where he was attended
only by a few of his immediate retainers and the foreign mercenaries.
None of his great vassals came, as the custom was at that season, to
offer their congratulations. His attendants tried in vain to assume an
appearance of cheerfulness and festivity, and among the people such an
appearance had long ceased to be found when the king was present. Alarmed
at the gloom which surrounded him, and the desertion of the barons, John
hastily rode to London, and there shut himself up in the house of the
Knights Templars, which was as strong as a fortress. The temper in which
the barons entered upon their cause may be inferred from the seasons
which they chose for their efforts, and the manner in which they invoked,
as it were, the blessing of Heaven upon them. Some holy day consecrated
each step of their way, and marked the renewal of the struggle against
tyranny. On the feast of the Epiphany they assembled in great force at
London, and presenting themselves before the king, demanded an audience.
John was compelled to grant the request, but he assumed a bold and
defiant air, and met the barons with an absolute refusal, and the most
violent threats. Two of their number were affected by these menaces, and
one of the bishops joined them in consenting to recede from their claims;
but the rest of the assembly were made of sterner stuff, and firmly
maintained their demands. John looked upon their calm and dauntless
faces with a dread which he could not conceal. He entirely changed his
manner, and descended from invective to expostulation. "This petition,"
he said, "treats of matters weighty and arduous. You must grant me
time for deliberation until Easter, that I may be able, in considering
the request, to satisfy the dignity of my crown." Many of the barons
were opposed to such a delay, knowing how little dependence could be
placed upon the king's good faith; but the greater number consented on
condition that Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, William, Earl
of Pembroke, and the Bishop of Ely, should be sureties for the king that
he would give them a reply at the time appointed.

As soon as the nobles had quitted his presence, John directed his
efforts to escaping from the pledge he had given, and took measures
which he hoped would bring the rebellious lords within the reach of his
vengeance. The important privilege of the appointment of bishops, which
in former years had given rise to so many disputes between the Crown and
the Church, was now formally abandoned; and when, by this means, John
believed himself to have secured the goodwill of the clergy, he caused a
new oath of allegiance to be administered by the sheriffs to all the free
men of their several counties. He then dispatched messengers to Rome,
entreating the aid of the Pope against the treasonable violence of the
barons. Innocent listened to the appeal, and showed himself determined
to support the cause of his royal vassal. The English nobles had also
sent their message to the Pontiff, but he answered it only by a letter
of threats and reproaches, which was addressed to Stephen Langton,
commanding him and his colleagues at once to cease their opposition to
the king. Langton, with a high-souled courage, the full extent of which
we can now only imperfectly appreciate, disregarded the command, and
dared to defend a righteous cause, even in defiance of the Pope. The
king, as a last effort to sustain his tottering throne, assumed the
cross, making a solemn oath that he would lead an army on a new crusade
to the Holy Land.

When Easter day arrived the king was at Oxford. The barons of England
assembled at Stamford, attended by 2,000 knights, and vast multitudes
of their retainers, and of the people. They had marched to Brackley,
when they were met by Stephen Langton, the Earl of Warrenne, and the
Earl of Pembroke, who came to bear their message to the king. The barons
delivered the schedule containing the chief articles of the petition,
and declared that if their claims were not instantly granted they would
appeal to arms. When the deputation returned to the king, and Langton
explained to him the terms of the document which he brought, John
fell into a transport of rage, and swore that he would not grant them
liberties which would make him a slave. He proposed some modifications
of the charter which were at once rejected. Pandulph, who stood at his
side, asserted that the primate of the kingdom ought to excommunicate
the rebels; but Langton replied that the Pope's real intentions had not
been expressed, and that so far from doing so, he would excommunicate
the foreign mercenaries who overran the kingdom, unless the king ordered
their instant dismissal.

The barons now declared war against the king, chose Robert Fitz-Walter
as their leader, and marched against the castle of Northampton, which
was garrisoned by foreigners. "The army of God and the Church," for so
they styled themselves, was composed of the best and bravest men in
the kingdom; but the strong fortress to which they first laid siege
resisted all their attacks. They had prepared no battering-rams, or
other necessary engines; and the garrison, on their side, fought with
the desperation of men who knew that they had earned for their misdeeds
a bitter retribution. After fifteen days the besiegers raised the siege,
and marched towards Bedford. The barons were strong in arms, and in the
justice of their cause; but their strength was not of itself sufficient
to overturn the throne, or force the king to submission. Within the past
century a middle class of freemen had been growing up in the country,
increasing in wealth and influence year by year. Had the king possessed
the affections of the free burghers of England, the Anglo-Norman barons,
powerful as they were, would have been driven from the country; but the
people knew that now, at least, the cause of the nobles was their own,
and they rose with joy to welcome the pioneers of freedom. The men of
Bedford opened their gates at the approach of the army, and the citizens
of London sent messengers to the leaders, inviting them to march thither
with all speed, and assuring them of the support of the people.

On Sunday, the 24th of May, the troops of Fitz-Walter reached the
capital. The city of London lay wrapped in that Sabbath stillness which,
on summer days descends like a blessing upon an English landscape, as
though Nature herself had ceased from labour. The gates were open, and
the music of the church bells floated softly through the air as the "army
of God" approached the walls. They passed through the streets in perfect
order and profound silence--a mien well suited to convey to all who saw
them a conviction of the solemn nature of the duty they came to perform,
and of the calm determination with which they would pursue their object.
On the following day the barons issued a proclamation to all the nobles
and knights of the kingdom who had remained neutral, calling upon them to
join the national standard, unless they wished to be treated as enemies
of their country. This proclamation aroused the slumbering patriotism of
those who received it. The baron, with his troop of men-at-arms, and the
knight, whose only property was his horse and his sword, alike hastened
to London. In the words of the old chroniclers, there is no need to name
the men who composed the "army of God and the Church;" they were the
whole nobility of England.

Such a demonstration as this might have made a much braver monarch than
John Lackland turn white with fear. Only a very few knights from among
his numerous courtiers remained at his side, and these were hardly
retained in their allegiance by a mingling of lavish promises and
threats. The terror of the king now conquered his rage. Once more he
assumed an affable demeanour, and with a sickly smile he told the Earl of
Pembroke that the barons had done well, and that, for the sake of peace
and the exaltation of his reign, he was ready to grant the liberties they
demanded. From Odiham, in Hampshire, where John was then staying, the
Earl of Pembroke carried this message to his friends, and informed them
that the king only desired them to name a day and place of meeting. The
barons replied--"Let the day be the 15th of June; the place, Runny-mede."

The scene thus chosen was well suited to the occasion. No narrow walls
of wood or stone, which in succeeding years should crumble into dust
and leave no trace, bore witness to the solemn act whose effects were
destined to extend to remotest ages--the victory of freedom was gained
under the free sky, the dome of the universal temple of God. On the
appointed day the king quitted Windsor Castle, and proceeded to the
green meadow which was called by the Saxon name of Runnymede, situated
on the banks of the Thames between Staines and Windsor. He was attended
by Pandulph, Almeric, the Grand Master of the Templars, the Earl of
Pembroke, together with eight bishops and thirteen other men of rank;
but of these, though they stood at his side, few really adhered to the
tyrant, or were prepared to give him any advice contrary to the wishes of
the people. On the other side stood the barons of the kingdom, attended
by a vast multitude, representing all other classes of the population. So
completely was the arrogance of the king subdued, so hopeless appeared
all resistance, that, with scarcely a word of remonstrance, John gave
his assent to the document which, as the foundation of the liberties of
England, is known to us by the name of Magna Charta--the Great Charter.

(_See p._ 267.)]

To the Englishman of modern times, the event of that day bears a deep
and solemn interest, far surpassing that of battles or of conquests.
He is surrounded now by many of the blessings which freedom gives to
all who live beneath her sway. Under her warm smile civilisation grows
and flourishes, knowledge sheds around her calm, undying light; wrong
is redressed by free opinion; and man, with brow erect, throws off the
tyranny of man. In the green meadow by the Thames was sown the seed which
bears such fruits as these. Centuries more of toil and struggle may be
needed to bring it to maturity. The progress of the human race is slow,
and beset with difficulties: amidst the present material prosperity, with
all the advantages of civil and religious liberty, we are still far from
the goal which lies before us. Error still treads close upon the heels
of Truth; poverty still retains her grasp upon half the world, grinding
men down to a life-long struggle, with little joy or hope. But the work
steadily goes on. With each passing year flies a prejudice; with each
passing year some gigantic wrong lifts up its head, and claims and meets
redress. Now, at least, the way is open to us, and cannot be mistaken;
the light of Heaven shines full upon it, the obstacles grow fewer and
weaker every day, the efforts to oppose them grow stronger, and the final
triumph is secure. The value and importance of Magna Charta is not to be
estimated by its immediate application to ourselves. Those positive laws
and institutions of later times, which secure our rights and liberties,
all have their root in this charter.

It had many evils to remedy. (I.) In the first place the Church secured
its rights and freedom of election. (II.) Then came provisions against
the royal exactions from the tenants. During the reigns of the successors
of the Conqueror, the king had exercised the power of exacting arbitrary
payments from his subjects under the name of reliefs; of farming out the
estates of his wards to the highest bidder; of marrying the heir during
his minority, heiresses at any age above fourteen, and widows if they
held estates of the crown, giving their hands to whom he pleased. In the
reign of John, the exercise of the laws was a matter of common bargain
and sale. Bribes--or, as they were called, fines--were received for the
king's help, against adverse suitors, for perversion of justice, or delay
in its administration. Sometimes it would happen that bribes were given
by both parties, in which case it may be supposed that the highest bidder
would gain the day, the money of those who lost being returned to them.
The charters which had been granted by Henry I., Stephen, and Henry II.,
had little effect on this state of things, and were, in fact, repeatedly
violated both by themselves and their successors. By the provisions of
Magna Charta reliefs were limited to a moderate sum, computed according
to the rank of the tenant; the wrong and waste committed by the guardians
in chivalry restrained; the disparagement in matrimony of female wards
was forbidden; and widows were secured from being forcibly disposed
of in marriage. (III.) Arbitrary taxation was provided against by the
provision that scutage and aids were henceforward to be granted by the
Great Council of the kingdom, except in the cases of the deliverance of
the king from prison, the knightage of his eldest son, and the marriage
of his eldest daughter. The elements of the great council are also
described, and their character will appear from these pages. (IV.) The
franchises of the city of London, and of all towns and boroughs were
declared inviolate. (V.) The ports were freely thrown open to foreign
merchants, and they were permitted to come and go as they pleased. (VI.)
The Court of Common Pleas, which had hitherto followed the king's person,
whereby much inconvenience and injustice had been occasioned, was fixed
at Westminster.

The most important clauses of Magna Charta are those which protect
the personal liberty and property of every freeman in the kingdom, by
giving security from arbitrary imprisonment and unjust exactions. (VII.)
"No freeman," says the Charter, "shall be taken, or imprisoned, or
dispossessed of his tenement, or be outlawed or exiled, or any otherwise
destroyed; nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, unless by the
lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. (VIII.) To none
will we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice."

The barons required securities for the due observance of these
provisions. They demanded that the foreign officers of the crown, with
their families and retainers, should be sent out of the country; that
the barons should keep possession of the city, and Stephen Langton of
the Tower of London, for the two months following; that twenty-five of
their number should act as guardians of the liberties of the realm,
whose business it should be to secure the observance of the charter, and
who, in case of its provisions being disregarded, should have power to
make war upon the king, and to seize upon his towns, castles, or other
possessions, until the grievance should be redressed. By this article the
twenty-five barons were invested with the real government of the kingdom,
setting aside altogether the royal prerogative--a measure which, opposed
as it was to all precedent, must be considered as having been rendered
necessary by the duplicity of the king, by whom the most solemn oaths
were habitually disregarded.

When the vast assembly had dispersed, and the defeated tyrant found
himself again in Windsor Castle, attended only by some of the foreign
adventurers who still hung about his person, he gave vent to all the
suppressed passion of his soul. In transports of impotent rage, he
uttered fearful curses against the deed which had been done, and against
those who had forced him to do it; he rolled his eyes and gnashed his
teeth like one insane, and restlessly strode about his chamber gnawing
sticks and stones. So say the chroniclers, and the account may readily
be believed: a depraved heart, hardened by a long course of crime and
cruelty, would probably display itself in an outburst of passion in
colours such as these. His attendants, the slaves of his gold, who saw
their career of robbery and injustice suddenly cut short, incited the
king to vengeance for the humiliation he had sustained, and counselled
him to resist the Charter, and to take measures for the recovery of
his power. John, released from his immediate fears, listened to their
advice, and sent two of them to the Continent to carry out the schemes
they proposed. One of them took his way to Rome to appeal to the Pope for
prompt and efficient aid; the other proceeded to Flanders, Gascony, and
among the former Continental vassals of the king, to hire fresh bodies
of mercenaries, and to bring them over to England. Meanwhile the king
entered secretly into communication with all the governors of castles
who were foreigners, ordering them to lay up stores of provisions, and
keep themselves prepared for defence, "doing this without noise and with
caution, for fear of alarming the barons."

The barons did not yet know what hard and unremitting effort the struggle
for liberty demands. They looked upon the work as done, when, in fact,
it was only beginning; and on their departure from Runnymede they
appointed a grand tournament to be held on the 2nd of July at Stamford,
in celebration of their joy. No sooner did he hear of their intention,
than John threw to the winds the oaths he had taken, and formed a plot to
seize possession of London during the absence of the nobles. The scheme,
however, was communicated to them, and the tournament was arranged to
take place nearer the capital. The king now proceeded to Winchester, when
some deputies from the barons presently demanded an interview with him.
They required an explanation of the line of conduct, ambiguous, if not
treacherous, which he had adopted since the signing of the Charter. John
met them with the hollow smile which he was accustomed to put on at such
times, and assured them that their suspicions were unfounded, and that
he was prepared to fulfil all that he had promised. The barons withdrew,
little satisfied by these assertions, and the king took his way to the
Isle of Wight, where he remained for three weeks. Here he refused all
companionship but that of the fishermen and sailors of the place, whose
manners he adopted, with the view of making himself popular among them.
To a certain extent he seems to have succeeded; and during the struggle
which soon afterwards took place, the English sailors proved generally
true to his cause.

In July, John was at Oxford; but after a stay of a few days he again
turned to the south, and proceeded to Dover, where he remained, anxiously
awaiting the arrival of the mercenaries whom he expected from the
Continent. During the month of September, the barons learnt that troops
were landing in small bodies, with little noise, but in a manner which
indicated a well-organised confederacy. William d'Albini was then sent
with a picked force of men-at-arms to seize upon the royal castle at
Rochester. Having done so, he found it extremely ill-furnished with
stores or means of defence; and in this condition it was besieged by
John, who had quitted Dover with an army from various parts of the
Continent. Each day brought new reinforcements across the Channel, and
their numbers so greatly increased that when the barons quitted London
to the relief of Rochester, they were compelled to turn back before
the superior force opposed to them. It seemed as though the elements
themselves could alone check this invasion of banditti. A certain Hugh de
Boves, one of their leaders, had embarked from Calais with a vast force
of his irregular troops, when a storm arose, against which the unskilful
mariners were quite helpless, and the whole of the ships, with those on
board, were destroyed. John heard of this loss with another burst of
rage, but he still pressed on the siege of Rochester, and succeeded in
preventing all succour from reaching it. D'Albini maintained the defence
for eight weeks with unshaken determination, and it was not until the
outer wall of the castle had been beaten down, and the garrison reduced
to the last extremity by famine, that he threw open the gates. John
immediately ordered the brave commander to be hanged with all his men;
but Peter de Mauley, the leader of one of the foreign bands, opposed
this command, because he feared the acts of retaliation which it would
certainly provoke on the part of the English. The tyrant, shorn of his
power on all sides, was compelled to submit his barbarous will to the
decision of the foreign chief. The prisoners of inferior rank were
butchered by the king's orders, but the knights were spared, and were
sent for imprisonment to the strong castles of Corfe and Nottingham.

The Pope now responded to the application of John by declaring himself
against the English nation, and issuing sentence of excommunication
against the barons. He asserted that they were worse than Saracens, for
daring to rebel against a vassal of the Holy See, a religious monarch
who had taken up the cross. This decision of the Pope, together with the
success at Rochester, gave John new courage, and he marched northward
to St. Albans, accompanied by the immense force which, composed of many
races, and presenting striking contrasts of appearance and accoutrements,
possessed one common attribute of unredeemed ferocity. The citizens of
London, who were among the first to join in the struggle for right,
were also among the bravest to maintain it, and as the foreign hordes
swept by the city, showed an undaunted front, which deterred the king
from attacking them. From St. Albans he passed on towards Nottingham,
encouraging his soldiers to seize their pay from the wretched inhabitants
of the country. The northern counties had long been the chief seat of
disaffection, and now Alexander, the young King of Scotland, who had
concluded an alliance with the English barons, crossed the borders with
an army, and laid siege to the castle of Norham. John saw the means of
vengeance in his hands, and he determined to use them to the utmost.
A few days after the feast of Christmas, when the ground was covered
with snow, he marched from Nottingham into Yorkshire, laying waste the
country and meeting with no opposition. True to the instincts of his base
and malignant character, he became more ruthless in proportion to the
helplessness of his victims. Every house and village on the road were
destroyed, the king himself giving the example, and setting fire with his
own hands in the morning to the roof which had sheltered him during the
night. The fury of the savage horde did not end there. The inhabitants,
driven from their homes, were plundered of everything they possessed, and
often butchered upon their own hearthstones. Others, less happy, were
subjected to torture to make them give up their hidden stores of money.


The expedition of John to the north, like that of William the Conqueror
through the same district, was one long course of rapine and cruelty;
castles and towns were burned to the ground, and the path of the king
was marked by a trail of blood among heaps of blackened ruins. The young
King of Scots retired before the vast force brought against him, and John
pushed his way to Edinburgh. Here he found himself in danger of attack,
and, as was usual with him in such cases, he at once turned back, and
recrossed the border. Among the towns burnt up by the king during this
expedition were Alnwick, Morpeth, Mitford, Roxburgh, Berwick, Haddington,
and Dunbar. A division of his forces had been left in the south to
oppose the barons, and keep in check the citizens of London; and this
division, reinforced by fresh arrivals from the Continent, made predatory
incursions through the southern counties, marking their course with equal
ferocity. The only distinction between their conduct and that of the
king, appears to have been that the castles which fell into their hands
were occupied by some one of their number, instead of being destroyed.


Meanwhile, further measures had been taken by the Church against the
insurgent barons. The Abbot of Abingdon, with other ecclesiastics, in
obedience to the tyrant and the Pope who supported him, fulminated a
second sentence of excommunication, in which Robert Fitz-Walter, the
chief of the confederacy, with many others of the most powerful nobles,
were mentioned by name, and an interdict was placed upon the city of
London. The measure was not without its effect upon certain classes of
the country people, but the courage and intelligence of the citizens of
London rose superior to the thunder of Rome. In defiance of the interdict
they dared still to offer their prayers to Heaven, and to keep the solemn
festival of Christmas; the churches remained open, and the bells still
rang out the note of freedom.

But dangers were thickening on every side around them. The barons saw
themselves hemmed in by increasing hordes of foreigners, and at the
same time had reason to fear the effect of the excommunication upon the
mass of the people. It does not appear that there was among the nobles
any man of sufficient influence or military genius to break through the
obstacles by which they were surrounded. Many councils were held and
schemes proposed, only to be laid aside as unfeasible. At length the
barons determined to offer the English throne to Prince Louis, the eldest
son of Philip of France. Such a step scarcely admits of excuse under any
circumstances; but the barons, unable of themselves to wrest the power
from John, might not improbably consider that any change would be to
their advantage, and that it would be better for the country to be under
the rule even of the son of their ancient enemy, than to submit to a
tyrant who had lost every attribute of manhood.

Louis had married Blanche of Castile, who was the niece of John, and
thus he might pretend to some shadow of a title to the crown. The barons
also considered that, if he landed in England, many of the foreign
mercenaries, who were subjects of France, would be detached from the
cause of John, and would join the standard of their prince. When the
proposal was carried to the court of France, it was received by the
king and his son with that degree of exultation which might have been
anticipated. Louis was anxious to sail for England immediately; but
Philip, with more wisdom and caution, demanded that twenty-four hostages,
the flower of the English nobility, should first be sent to Paris, in
assurance of the fidelity of the barons. A French fleet then sailed up
the river Thames, and arrived at London in February (1216), conveying a
small army, which formed the first detachment of the French forces. The
commander informed the barons that Prince Louis would arrive in person at
the approaching feast of Easter.

The Pope--true to the cause he had embraced--no sooner heard of these
preparations than he sent a new legate into England, who, as he passed
through France, boldly remonstrated with the king and his son upon the
course they were pursuing. Once more England was called the patrimony
of St. Peter, and Philip was asked how he dared to attack it, and was
threatened with immediate excommunication in case he persisted in doing
so. Louis immediately set up a claim to the English throne in right of
his wife; and, leaving the legate in astonishment at this new view of the
matter, he escaped from further argument, and took his way to Calais.
Having collected a great army, well furnished with stores, he embarked
them on board 680 vessels, and set sail from Calais at the appointed
time. The English sailors of the Cinque Ports, on whom the efforts of
John to secure their good will had not been thrown away, lay in wait for
an opportunity of inflicting damage on the invaders, and a storm having
arisen by which the French fleet became scattered, they took advantage of
the circumstance, and cut off and captured some of the ships. The rest of
the fleet arrived safely at Sandwich, where Louis landed on the 30th of

John had arrived at Dover with a large army; but so far from attempting
to prevent the landing of the French, he made a rapid retreat at the
news of their approach. His own unhappy subjects, however, were not in
a position to oppose him; them he could attack and slaughter in safety,
and accordingly, wheresoever his army passed, the same cruelties were
practised, the same ravages committed as before. He went to Guildford,
whence he proceeded to Bristol by way of Winchester. Meanwhile, Louis
led his forces to Rochester Castle, which he besieged and captured, and
then passed on to London. The French prince entered the capital on the
2nd of June, 1216, and was received with the greatest demonstrations of
joy by rich and poor. A magnificent procession was formed to accompany
him to St. Paul's Church, and there, after he had offered up his prayers,
the barons of the kingdom and the citizens paid him the vows of homage.
He then placed his hand upon a copy of the Gospels, and swore to restore
to the country its just and righteous laws, and to each man the lands or
property of which he had been despoiled.

One of the first acts of Louis was to issue a manifesto, which was
addressed to the King of Scotland and to all the owners of land
throughout the country who were not then present in London. The result
of this proclamation soon made itself apparent. Any jealousy towards a
foreign prince was entirely subdued by the deep hatred with which all
classes of the people regarded their king. The force of an idea was not
then so great as in more recent times; the confederacy of the barons,
notwithstanding the high and just cause for which they fought, was weak,
because it was without a powerful and recognised head. No sooner had
the people a living man round whom to rally, instead of a collection
of names, than they at once flocked to join his standard. Of the few
nobles who had accompanied John on his marauding expeditions, nearly all
quitted him at once, and took their way to London; all the people of
the northern counties rose up among the ruins of their homes, and cried
aloud for vengeance; the King of Scotland prepared an army to march once
more to the south; and the foreign mercenaries, with the exception of
the Gascons and Poitevins, renounced their adhesion to the tyrant, and
either quitted the country or joined the forces of Louis and the barons.
Dangers thickened about the king on every side, and his abject spirit was
sustained only by the consolations which Gualo, the Pope's legate, poured
into his ear. The legate assured him of the constant support of the Pope,
and exhorted him to courage, since it was impossible that any harm could
happen to a prince who was under the protection of Holy Church. But now
the news arrived that Pope Innocent, whose efforts alone had sustained
the tyrant in his power, was dead, and a considerable time elapsed before
his successor was appointed.

Louis marched his forces to Dover, and laid siege to the castle, which
was in the hands of Hubert de Burgh, a man whose character stands so
high in history that we are at a loss to understand how he should have
retained his allegiance to John. He, however, proved his loyalty by
maintaining a most gallant defence, and effectually repelled all the
attacks of the besiegers. Mention is made of a formidable engine of war,
called a _malvoisin_, or _bad neighbour_, which was sent by Philip to
be used by his son at the siege of Dover. Neither this engine nor the
bravery of the attacking troops availed anything against the strong walls
of the castle and the obstinate defence of the garrison; and, after a
siege which lasted several weeks, Louis was compelled to desist from the
attack, and he determined to reduce the place by famine. Meanwhile, a
number of the barons had laid siege to Windsor Castle, which also made a
vigorous defence. The king availed himself of the moment when they were
thus occupied to advance upon their estates, where he let loose the
greedy adventurers who still remained in his pay. The barons then raised
the siege to attack the king, who made a hasty retreat. Having succeeded
in eluding their pursuit, he reached the town of Stamford. The barons
made no attempt to molest him there, but turned and took their way to
Dover, where they joined the forces of Louis.

Dover Castle still held out, and the prince pertinaciously maintained his
position before it, thus losing three months of valuable time, which, had
it been well employed, would doubtless have placed him in possession of
the throne. In such a case, inactivity necessarily produced discontent,
and other causes of complaint soon presented themselves to the English
barons. Louis, who showed himself as deficient in policy as in military
skill, began to treat the English with disrespect, and made grants of
land and titles in England to his own countrymen. At the same time an
event occurred, or was believed to have occurred--and in either case the
result was the same--which was calculated to destroy at once the bonds of
alliance which existed between the barons and the French prince. One of
the followers of Louis, named the Viscount de Melun, being seized with
illness at London, and finding himself at the point of death, earnestly
desired to see those English nobles who remained in the city. When they
approached his bedside, he informed them that the prince, with sixteen
of his principal barons, had sworn that when the kingdom should be
conquered and Louis crowned, all the English who had joined his standard
should be banished for ever, as traitors not to be trusted, and their
offspring exterminated or reduced to poverty. "Doubt not my words," De
Melun said, with his dying breath; "I, who lie here about to die, was one
of the conspirators." Whether this extraordinary scene did or did not
take place, the report greatly increased the discontent among the barons.
Several of them quitted the standard of Louis, and those who remained
appear to have done so merely as the alternative of again tendering their
support to John.

While such was the condition of affairs in the French camp, it is
evident that there was nothing to oppose the king in his lawless course
of vengeance. He advanced with his troops to Lincoln, and having made
himself master of the town, he established his headquarters there, and
rallied around him fugitive bands of his mercenaries. His chief support
was derived from the adherence of the seamen of the country, who appear
to have remained firm in their resistance to the French invasion. Many
ships laden with stores on their way from the Continent were captured
by them, and thus the army of Louis found itself frequently deprived of
supplies. In the month of October the king set out on another predatory
excursion, which was destined to be his last. Leaving Lincoln, he passed
through the district of Croyland, burning up the farmhouses attached to
the abbey of that name. Then, proceeding eastward, he went to Lynn and
Wisbech, whence he reached the Cross Keys, a place on the south side
of the Wash. At low water the sands of this estuary are dry, so as to
admit of a passage across for horses and vehicles; but it is liable to a
sudden influx of the tide. For some reason which does not very clearly
appear, John determined to cross the Wash at the Cross Keys, and in doing
so he narrowly escaped the fate of Pharaoh. When his troops had nearly
reached the opposite shore, they heard the roar of the rising tide. The
king, alarmed, hastened his steps, and succeeded in reaching dry ground;
but on looking back, he saw all the carriages and sumpter-horses which
carried his stores and treasure overwhelmed by the waters. The waves
dashed and leaped over them, and presently carriages, horses, and men,
all disappeared in the whirlpool caused by the confluence of the tide and
of the current of the river Welland.

Giving vent to his rage by curses and complaints, John took his way
gloomily to the Abbey of Cistercians at Swineshead, where he remained
for the night. At supper he is said to have eaten to excess of peaches,
or pears, and drank great quantities of new cider. A story was current,
some fifty years later, that he was poisoned by the monks, but no
allusion is made to it in the accounts of his contemporaries; and it is
equally probable that his death resulted from excess, acting upon a body
already fevered by excitement. He was attacked during the night by severe
illness, and on mounting his horse early next morning he found himself
unable to sit upright. A horse-litter was then procured, in which he
was conveyed to the neighbouring castle of Sleaford. A burning fever,
attended with acute pains, had seized upon him; and it was with great
difficulty that, on the f