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Title: Cameos from English History, from Rollo to Edward II
Author: Yonge, Charlotte M. (Charlotte Mary)
Language: English
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By Charlotte Mary Yonge



The “Cameos” here put together are intended as a book for young people
just beyond the elementary histories of England, and able to enter in
some degree into the real spirit of events, and to be struck with
characters and scenes presented in some relief.

The endeavor has not been to chronicle facts, but to put together a
series of pictures of persons and events, so as to arrest the attention
and give some individuality and distinctness to the recollection, by
gathering together details at the most memorable moments. Begun many
years since, as the historical portion of a magazine, the earlier ones
of these Cameos have been collected and revised to serve for school-room
reading, and it is hoped that, if these are found useful, they may ere
long be followed up by a second volume, comprising the wars in France,
and those of the Roses.

_February 28th, 1868._
















































Young people learn the history of England by reading small books which
connect some memorable event that they can understand, and remember,
with the name of each king--such as Tyrrell’s arrow-shot with William
Rufus, or the wreck of the White Ship with Henry I. But when they begin
to grow a little beyond these stories, it becomes difficult to find a
history that will give details and enlarge their knowledge, without
being too lengthy. They can hardly be expected to remember or take an
interest in personages or events left, as it were, in the block. It was
the sense of this want that prompted the writing of the series that here
follows, in which the endeavor has been to take either individual
characters, or events bearing on our history, and work them out as fully
as materials permitted, so that each, taken by itself, might form an
individual Cameo, or gem in full relief, and thus become impressed upon
the mind.

The undertaking was first begun sixteen years ago, for a periodical for
young people. At that time, the view was to make the Cameos hang, as it
were, on the thread furnished by ordinary childish histories, so as to
leave out what might be considered as too well-known. However, as the
work made progress, this was found to be a mistake; the omissions
prevented the finished parts from fitting together, and the characters
were incomplete, without being shown in action. Thus, in preparing the
Cameos for separate publication, it has been found better to supply what
had previously been omitted, as well as to try to correct and alter the
other Cameos by the light of increasing information.

None of them lay claim to being put together from original documents;
they are only the attempt at collecting, from large and often not easily
accessible histories, the more interesting or important scenes and
facts, and at arranging them so that they may best impress the
imagination and memory of the young, so as to prepare them for fuller
and deeper reading.

Our commencement is with the Dukes of Normandy. The elder England has
been so fully written of, and in such an engaging manner for
youthful readers, in the late Sir Francis Palgrave’s “History of the
Anglo-Saxons,” that it would have been superfluous to expand the very
scanty Cameos of that portion of our history. The present volume, then,
includes the history of the Norman race of sovereigns, from Rollo to
Edward of Carnarvon, with whose fate we shall pause, hoping in a second
volume to go through the French wars and the wars of the Roses. Nor have
we excluded the mythical or semi-romantic tales of our early history. It
is as needful to a person of education to be acquainted with them, as
if they were certain facts, and we shall content ourselves with marking
what come to us on doubtful authority.

CAMEO I. ROLF GANGER. (900-932.)

  _Kings of England_.
   901. Edward the Elder.
   924. Athelstan.

  _Kings of France_.
   898. Charles
          the Simple.
   923. Rudolf.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   899. Ludwig IV.
   912. Konrad.

If we try to look back at history nine hundred years, we shall see a
world very unlike that in which we are now moving. Midway from the birth
of our Lord to the present era, the great struggle between the new and
old had not subsided, and the great European world of civilized nations
had not yet settled into their homes and characters.

Christianity had been accepted by the Roman Emperor six hundred years
previously, but the Empire was by that time too weak and corrupt to be
renewed, even by the fresh spirit infused into it; and, from the 4th
century onward, it had been breaking up under the force of the fierce
currents of nations that rushed from the north-east of Europe. The Greek
half of the Empire prolonged its existence in the Levant, but the Latin,
or Western portion, became a wreck before the 5th century was far
advanced. However, each conquering tribe that poured into the southern
dominions had been already so far impressed with the wisdom and dignity
of Rome, and the holiness of her religion, that they paused in their
violence, and gradually allowed themselves to be taught by her doctrine,
tamed by her manners, and governed by her laws. The Patriarch of
Rome--_Papa_, or Father--was acknowledged by them, as by the subjects of
Rome of old; they accepted the clergy, who had already formed dioceses
and parishes, and though much of horrible savagery remained to be
subdued in the general mass, yet there was a gradual work of
amelioration in progress.

This was especially the case with the Franks, who had overspread the
northern half of Gaul. Their first race of kings had become Christians
simultaneously with their conquest; and though these soon dwindled away
between crime and luxury, there had grown up under them a brave and
ambitious family, whose earlier members were among the most
distinguished persons in history.

Charles Martel turned back the Saracens at Tours, and saved Europe from
Mahometanism, and his grandson, Charles the Great, rescued the Pope from
the Lombards, and received from him in return the crown of a new Empire
of the West--the Holy Roman Empire, which was supposed to be the great
temporal power. As the Pope, or Patriarch, was deemed the head of all
bishops, so the Emperor was to be deemed the head of all kings of the
West, from the Danube and Baltic to the Atlantic Ocean--the whole
country that had once been held by Rome, and then had been wrested from
her by the various German or Teutonic races. The island of Great Britain
was a sort of exception to the general rule. Like Gaul, it had once been
wholly Keltic, but it had not been as entirely subdued by the Romans,
and the overflow of Teutons came very early thither, and while they were
yet so thoroughly Pagan that the old Keltic Church failed to convert
them, and the mission of St. Augustine was necessary from Rome.

A little later, when Charles the Great formed his empire of Franks,
Germans, Saxons, and Gauls, Egbert gathered, in like manner, the various
petty kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons under the one dominant realm of
Wessex, and thus became a sort of island Emperor.

It seems, however, to be a rule, that nations and families recently
emerged from barbarism soon fade and decay under the influence of high
civilization; and just as the first race of Frankish kings had withered
away on the throne, so the line of Charles the Great, though not
inactive, became less powerful and judicious, grew feeble in the very
next generation, and were little able to hold together the multitude of
nations that had formed the empire.

Soon the kingdom of France split away from the Empire; and while a fresh
and more able Emperor became the head of the West, the descendants of
the great Charles still struggled on, at their royal cities of Laon and
Soissons, with the terrible difficulties brought upon them by restless
subjects, and by the last and most vigorous swarm of all the Teutonic

The wild rugged hills and coasts of Scandinavia, with their keen
climate, long nights, and many gulfs and bays, had contributed to nurse
the Teuton race in a vigor and perfection scarcely found elsewhere--or
not at least since the more southern races had yielded to the enervating
influences of their settled life. Some of these had indeed been tamed,
but more had been degraded. The English were degenerating into
clownishness, the Franks into effeminacy; and though Christianity
continually raised up most brilliant lights--now on the throne, now
in the cathedral, now in the cloister--yet the mass of the people lay
sluggish, dull, inert, selfish, and half savage.

They were in this state when the Norseman and the Dane fitted out their
long ships, and burst upon their coasts. By a peculiar law, common once
to all the Teuton nations, though by that time altered in the southern
ones, the land of a family was not divided among its members, but all
possessed an equal right in it; and thus, as it was seldom adequate to
maintain them all, the more enterprising used their right in it only to
fell trees enough to build a ship, and to demand corn enough to victual
their crew, which was formed of other young men whose family inheritance
could not furnish more than a sword or spear.

Kings and princes--of whom there were many--were exactly in the same
position as their subjects, and they too were wont to seek their
fortunes upon the high seas. Fleets coalesced under the command of
some chieftain of birth or note, and the Vikings, or pirates, sailed
fearlessly forth, to plunder the tempting regions to the south of them.

Fierce worshippers were they of the old gods, Odin, Frey, Thor; of the
third above all others, and their lengthy nights had led to their
working up those myths that had always been common to the whole race
into a beauty, poetry, and force, probably not found elsewhere; and that
nerved them both to fight vehemently for an entrance to Valhalla, the
hall of heroes, and to revenge the defection of the Christians who had
fallen from Odin. They plundered, they burnt, they slew; they specially
devastated churches and monasteries, and no coast was safe from them
from the Adriatic to the furthest north--even Rome saw their long ships,
and, “From the fury of the Northmen, good Lord deliver us,” was the
prayer in every Litany of the West.

England had been well-nigh undone by them, when the spirit of her
greatest king awoke, and by Alfred they were overcome: some were
permitted to settle down and were taught Christianity and civilization,
and the fresh invaders were driven from the coast. Alfred’s gallant son
and grandson held the same course, guarded their coasts, and made
their faith and themselves respected throughout the North. But in
France, the much-harassed house of Charles the Great, and the
ill-compacted bond of different nations, were little able to oppose
their fierce assaults, and ravage and devastation reigned from one end
of the country to another.

However, the Vikings, on returning to their native homes, sometimes
found their place filled up, and the family inheritance incapable of
supporting so many. Thus they began to think of winning not merely gold
and cattle, but lands and houses, on the coasts that they had pillaged.
In Scotland, the Hebrides, and Ireland, they settled by leave of nothing
but their swords; in England, by treaty with Alfred; and in France, half
by conquest, half by treaty, always, however, accepting Christianity as
a needful obligation when they accepted southern lands. Probably they
thought that Thor was only the god of the North, and that the “White
Christ,” as they called Him who was made known to them in these new
countries, was to be adored in what they deemed alone His territories.

Of all the sea-robbers who sailed from their rocky dwelling-places by
the fiords of Norway, none enjoyed higher renown than Rolf, called the
ganger, or walker, as tradition relates, because his stature was so
gigantic that, when clad in full armor, no horse could support his
weight, and he therefore always fought on foot.

Rolf’s lot had, however, fallen in what he doubtless considered as evil
days. No such burnings and plunderings as had hitherto wasted England,
and enriched Norway, fell to his share; for Alfred had made the bravest
Northman feel that his fleet and army were more than a match for theirs.
Ireland was exhausted by the former depredations of the pirates,
and, from a fertile and flourishing country, had become a scene of
desolation; Scotland and its isles were too barren to afford prey to
the spoiler; and worse than all, the King of Norway, Harald Harfagre,
desirous of being included among the civilized sovereigns of Europe,
strictly forbade his subjects to exercise their old trade of piracy on
his own coasts, or on those of his allies. Rolf, perhaps, considered
himself above this new law. His father, Earl Rognwald, as the chief
friend of the King, had been chosen to cut and comb the hair which
Harald had kept for ten years untrimmed, in fulfilment of a vow, that
his locks should never be clipped until the whole of Norway was under
his dominion. He had also been invested with the government of the great
Earldom of Möre, where the sons of Harald, jealous of the favor with
which he was regarded by their father, burnt him and sixty of his men,
in his own house. The vengeance taken by his sons had been signal, and
the King had replaced Thorer the Silent, one of their number, in his
father’s earldom.

Rolf, presuming on the favor shown to his family, while returning from
an expedition on the Baltic, made a descent on the coast of Viken, a
part of Norway, and carried off the cattle wanted by his crew. The King,
who happened at that time to be in that district, was highly displeased,
and, assembling a council, declared Rolf Ganger an outlaw. His mother,
Hilda, a dame of high lineage, in vain interceded for him, and closed
her entreaty with a warning in the wild extemporary poetry of the North:

  “Bethink thee, monarch, it is ill
  With such a wolf, at wolf to play,
  Who, driven to the wild woods away,
  May make the king’s best deer his prey.”

Harald listened not, and it was well; for through the marvellous
dealings of Providence, the outlawry of this “wolf” of Norway led to the
establishment of our royal line, and to that infusion of new spirit into
England to which her greatness appears to be chiefly owing.

The banished Rolf found a great number of companions, who, like himself,
were unwilling to submit to the strict rule of Harald Harfagre, and
setting sail with them, he first plundered and devastated the coast of
Flanders, and afterward turned toward France. In the spring of 896, the
citizens of Rouen, scarcely yet recovered from the miseries inflicted
upon them by the fierce Danish rover, Hasting, were dismayed by the
sight of a fleet of long low vessels with spreading sails, heads carved
like that of a serpent, and sterns finished like the tail of the
reptile, such as they well knew to be the keels of the dreaded Northmen,
the harbingers of destruction and desolation. Little hope of succor or
protection was there from King Charles the Simple; and, indeed, had
the sovereign been ever so warlike and energetic, it would little have
availed Rouen, which might have been destroyed twice over before a
messenger could reach Laon.

In this emergency, Franco, the Archbishop, proposed to go forth to meet
the Northmen, and attempt to make terms for his flock. The offer was
gladly accepted by the trembling citizens, and the good Archbishop went,
bearing the keys of the town, to visit the camp which the Northmen had
begun to erect upon the bank of the river. They offered him no violence,
and he performed his errand safely. Rolf, the rude generosity of whose
character was touched by his fearless conduct, readily agreed to spare
the lives and property of the citizens, on condition that Rouen was
surrendered to him without resistance.

Entering the town, he there established his head-quarters, and spent a
whole year there and in the adjacent parts of the country, during which
time the Northmen so faithfully observed their promise, that they were
regarded by the Rouennais rather as friends than as conquerors; and
Rolf, or Rollo, as the French called him, was far more popular among
them than their real sovereign. Wherever he met with resistance, he
showed, indeed, the relentless cruelty of the heathen pirate; but
where he found submission, he was a kind master, and these qualities
contributed to gain for him an easy and rapid conquest of Neustria, as
the district of which Rouen was the capital was then called.

In the course of the following year, he advanced along the banks of the
Seine as far as its junction with the Eure. On the opposite side of the
river, there were visible a number of tents, where slept a numerous army
which Charles had at length collected to oppose this formidable enemy.
The Northmen also set up their camp, in expectation of a battle, and
darkness had just closed in on them when a shout was heard on the
opposite side of the river, and to their surprise a voice was heard
speaking in their own language, “Brave warriors, why come ye hither, and
what do ye seek?”

“We are Northmen, come hither to conquer France,” replied Rollo. “But
who art thou who speakest our tongue so well?”

“Heard ye never of Hasting?” was the reply.

Hasting was one of the most celebrated of the Sea-Kings. He had fought
with Alfred in England, had cruelly wasted France, and had even sailed
into the Mediterranean and made himself dreaded in Italy; but with him
it had been as with the old pirate in the poem:

  “Time will rust the sharpest sword,
  Time will consume the strongest cord;
  That which moulders hemp and steel,
  Mortal arm and nerve must feel.
  Of the Danish band, whom ‘Earl Hasting’ led,
  Many wax’d aged, and many were dead;
  Himself found his armor full weighty to bear,
  Wrinkled his brows grew, and hoary his hair;
  He leaned on a staff when his step went abroad,
  And patient his palfrey, when steed he bestrode.
  As he grew feebler, his wildness ceased,
  He made himself peace with prelate and priest;
  He made himself peace, and stooping his head,
  Patiently listen’d the counsel they said.

  “‘Thou hast murder’d, robb’d, and spoil’d,
  Time it is thy poor soul were assoil’d;
  Priests didst thou slay and churches burn,
  Time it is now to repentance to turn;
  Fiends hast thou worshipp’d with fiendish rite,
  Leave now the darkness and wend into light;
  Oh, while life and space are given,
  Turn thee yet, and think of heaven.’

  “That stern old heathen, his head he raised,
  And on the good prelate he steadfastly gazed,
  ‘Give me broad lands on the “Eure and the Seine,”
   My faith I will leave, and I’ll cleave unto thine.’
  Broad lands he gave him on ‘Seine and on Eure,’
  To be held of the king by bridle and spear,

  “For the ‘Frankish’ King was a sire in age,
  Weak in battle, in council sage;
  Peace of that heathen leader he sought,
  Gifts he gave and quiet he bought;
  And the Earl took upon him the peaceful renown,
  Of a vassal and liegeman for ‘Chartres’ good town:
  He abjured the gods of heathen race,
  And he bent his head at the font of grace;
  But such was the grizzly old proselyte’s look,
  That the priest who baptized him grew pale and shook.”

Such had been the history of Hasting, now Count of Chartres, who without
doubt expected that his name and example would have a great effect upon
his countrymen; but the answer to his question, “Heard ye never of
Hasting?” met with no such answer as he anticipated.

“Yes,” returned Rollo; “he began well, but ended badly.”

“Will ye not, then,” continued the old pirate, “submit to my lord the
King? Will ye not hold of him lands and honors?”

“No!” replied the Northmen, disdainfully, “we will own no lord; we will
take no gift; but we will have what we ourselves can conquer by force.”
 Here Hasting took his departure, and returning to the French camp,
strongly advised the commander not to hazard a battle; but his counsel
was overruled by a young standard-bearer, who, significantly observing,
“Wolves make not war on wolves,” so offended the old sea-king, that he
quitted the army that night, and never again appeared in France. The
wisdom of his advice was the next morning made evident, by the total
defeat of the French, and the advance of the Northmen, who in a short
space after appeared beneath the walls of Paris.

Failing in their attempt to take the city, they returned to Rouen, where
they fortified themselves, making it the capital of the territory they
had conquered.

Fifteen years passed away, the summers of which were spent in ravaging
the dominions of Charles the Simple, and the winters in the city of
Rouen, and in the meantime a change had come over their leader. He had
been insensibly softened and civilized by his intercourse with the good
Archbishop Franco; and finding, perhaps, that it was not quite so easy
as he had expected to conquer the whole kingdom of France, he declared
himself willing to follow the example which he had once despised, and to
become a vassal of the French crown for the duchy of Neustria.

Charles, greatly rejoiced to find himself thus able to put a stop to
the dreadful devastations of the Northmen, readily agreed to the terms
proposed by Rollo, appointing the village of St. Clair-sur-Epte, on
the borders of Neustria, as the place of meeting for the purpose of
receiving his homage and oath of fealty. It was a strange meeting which
there took place between the degenerate and almost imbecile descendant
of the great Charles, with his array of courtly followers and his
splendor and luxury, and the gigantic warrior of the North, the founder
of a line of kings, in all the vigor of the uncivilized native of a cold
climate, and the unbending pride of a conqueror, surrounded by his tall
warriors, over whom his chieftainship had hitherto depended only on
their own consent, gained by his acknowledged superiority in wisdom in
council and prowess in battle.

The greatest difficulty to be overcome in this conference, was the
repugnance felt by the proud Northman to perform the customary act of
homage before any living man, especially one whom he held so cheap as
Charles the Simple. He consented, indeed, to swear allegiance, and
declare himself the “King’s man,” with his hands clasped between those
of Charles; but the remaining part of the ceremony, the kneeling to
kiss the foot of his liege lord, he absolutely refused, and was with
difficulty persuaded to permit one of his followers to perform it in his
name. The proxy, as proud as his master, instead of kneeling, took the
King’s foot in his hand, and lifted it to his mouth, while he stood
upright, thus overturning both monarch and throne, amid the rude
laughter of his companions, while the miserable Charles and his
courtiers felt such a dread of these new vassals that they did not dare
to resent the insult.

On his return to Rouen, Rollo was baptized, and, on leaving the
cathedral, celebrated his conversion by large grants to the different
churches and convents in his new duchy, making a fresh gift on each of
the days during which he wore the white robes of the newly baptized.
All of his warriors who chose to follow his example, and embrace the
Christian faith, received from him grants of land, to be held of him on
the same terms as those by which he held the dukedom from the King;
and the country, thus peopled by the Northmen, gradually assumed the
appellation of Normandy.

Applying themselves with all the ardor of their temper to their new way
of life, the Northmen quickly adopted the manners, language, and habits
which were recommended to them as connected with the holy faith which
they had just embraced, but without losing their own bold and vigorous
spirit. Soon the gallant and accomplished Norman knight could scarcely
have been recognized as the savage sea-robber, once too ferocious and
turbulent even for his own wild country in the far North, while, at the
same time, he bore as little resemblance to the cruel and voluptuous
French noble, at once violent and indolent. The new war-cry of _Dieu
aide_ was as triumphant as that of _Thor Hulfe_ had been of old, and the
Red Cross led to as many victories as the Raven standard.

It is said that the word “Exchequer” is derived from the court of
justice established by Rollo, so called from the word “_Schicken_”
 signifying, in his native tongue, to send, because from it judges were
sent to try causes throughout the dukedom. It is also said that the
appeal from them to the Duke himself, made in these terms, “J’appelle a
Rou,” is the origin of the cry “_Haro_” by which, for centuries after
his descendants had passed away from Normandy, the injured always called
for justice. This was for many centuries believed in Normandy, but in
fact the word _Haro_ is only the same as our own “hurrah,” the beginning
of a shout. There is no doubt, however, that the keen, unsophisticated
vigor of Rollo, directed by his new religion, did great good in
Normandy, and that his justice was sharp, his discipline impartial,
so that of him is told the famous old story bestowed upon other just
princes, that a gold bracelet was left for three years untouched upon a
tree in a forest.

He had been married, as part of the treaty, to Gisèle, daughter of King
Charles the Simple, but he was an old grizzly warrior, and neither cared
for the other. A wife whom he had long before taken from Vermandois had
borne him a son, named William, to whom he left his dukedom in 932.

All this history of Rolf, or Rollo, is, however, very doubtful; and
nothing can be considered as absolutely established but that Neustria,
or Normandy, was by him and his Northmen settled under a grant from the
Frank king, Charles the Simple, and the French duke, Robert, Count of


  _Kings of England_.
   927. Athelstan.
   940. Edmund I.
   947. Edwy.
   959. Edward.
   959. Ethelred II.

  _Kings of France_.
   936. Louis IV.
   954. Lothaire III.
   986. Louis V.
   987 Hugh Capet.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   936. Otho I.
   973. Otho II.
   983. Otho III.

The Norman character was strongly marked. Their whole nature was strong
and keen, full of energy, and with none of the sluggish dulness that was
always growing over the faculties of the Frank and Saxon; and even to
this day the same energy prevails among their descendants, a certain
portion of the English nobility, and the population of Normandy and of

There was a deep sense of religion, always showing itself in action,
though not always consistently, and therewith a grand sense of honor
and generosity, coupled, however, with a curious shrewd astuteness. The
high-minded Norman was the flower of chivalry and honor, the low-minded
Norman the most successful of villains--and there has often been a
curious compound of both elements in the character of some of the most
distinguished Normans whom history has to show.

Old Rollo caused his only son to be highly educated, and William of the
Long Sword grew up a prince to be proud of. His height was majestic, his
features beautiful, his complexion as pure and delicate as a maiden’s,
his strength gigantic, his prowess with all the weapons on foot and on
horseback unrivalled, and his wit and capacity of the brightest and most
powerful. Born since his father’s arrival in France, the tales of Thor
and Odin, the old giants, and the future Valhalla, wore things of the
dark old past to him, and he threw himself with his whole heart into
the new faith. So intensely devout was he, so fond of prayer and of the
rites of the Church, that Rollo called him fitter for a cloister than
a dukedom; but the choice was not open to him, an only son, with the
welfare of the Normans dependent on him; and while living in the world,
his saintly aspirations did not preserve him from a self-indulgent
life at home, or from unjust dealing abroad. But he had many fits of
devotion. Once when hunting on the banks of the Seine, he came on the
ruins of the Abbey of Jumièges; which had, many years before, been
destroyed by Hasting. Two old monks, who still survived, came forth to
meet him, told him their history, and invited him to partake of some of
their best fare. It was coarse barley bread, and the young duke, turning
from it in disgust, carelessly bestowed a rich alms upon them, and
eagerly pursued his sport. He had not ridden far before he roused a huge
wild boar, and, in the encounter with it, he broke his sword, was thrown
from his horse, and so severely injured, that his servants, on coming
up, found him stretched insensible upon the ground. Believing this
accident to be the just punishment of Heaven for his contempt for the
old brethren, William, as soon as he recovered his senses, desired to be
carried to Jumièges, and there humbly confessed his sinful feelings, and
entreated their pardon.

His first care, when his health was re-established, was for the
restoration of Jumièges, which he built with great splendor, and often
visited. His chief desire was to enter the abbey as a brother of the
order, but his wish was opposed by the excellent Abbot Martin, who
pointed out to him that he ought not to desert the station to which he
had been called by Heaven, nor quit the government till his son was old
enough to take the charge upon himself, and at the same time encouraged
him by the example of many a saint, whose heavenward road had lain
through the toils and cares of a secular life.

William yielded to the arguments of the good father, but his heart was
still in the peaceful abbey, and he practised in secret the devotions
and austerities of the cloister to the utmost of his power, longing
earnestly for the time when he might lay aside the weary load of cares
of war and of government, and retire to that holy brotherhood.

In Normandy, his strict, keen justice made him greatly honored
and loved, but the French greatly hated and abhorred him, and his
transactions with them were sometimes cunning, sometimes violent. He
had much of the old Northman about him, and had not entered into the
Church’s teachings of the sanctity of marriage. Like his father, he had
had a half-acknowledged wife, Espriota, who was the mother of his only
child, Richard, but he put her away in order to ally himself with one of
the great French families, and he had his child brought up at Bayeux,
among Norse-speaking nobles, as if he would rather see him a Norseman
than a, French prince.

The bold and devout but inconsistent William was the dread of all his
neighbors, and especially of Arnulf, Count of Flanders. William was in
alliance with Herluin, Count of Montreuil, against Arnulf; when, in
942, he was invited to a conference on a small island in the Somme, and
there, having contrived to separate him from his followers, at a given
signal one of the Flemings struck him down with an oar, and a number of
daggers were instantly plunged into his breast.

The Flemings made their escape in safety, leaving the bleeding corpse
upon the island, where the Normans, who had seen the murder, without
being able to prevent or revenge it, reverently took it up, and brought
it back to Rouen. Beneath the robes of state they found it dressed in
a hair-cloth shirt, and round the neck was a chain sustaining a golden
key, which was rightly judged to belong to the chest where he kept his
choicest treasure; but few would have guessed what was the treasure so
valued by the knightly duke of the martial name, and doubtless there
were many looks of wonder among the Norman barons, when the chest was
opened, and disclosed, instead of gold and jewels, the gown and hood,
the sandals and rosary, of a brother of the Benedictine order.

He was buried beside his father, in the cathedral of Rouen, amid the
universal lamentations of his vassals; and his greatest friend and
counsellor, Bernard the Dane, Count of Harcourt, fetched from Bayeux his
only child, Richard, only eight years old, to be solemnly invested with
the ducal sword and mantle, and to receive the homage of the Normans.
[Footnote: This is the Norman legend. The French Chronicles point to
Norman treachery.] The bitter hatred of the French to the Normans could
not but break out in the minority.

To the surprise of the Normans, Louis IV., king of France, suddenly
arrived at Rouen, to claim, as he said, the homage of his young vassal.
On the following day, Richard did not, as usual, appear beyond the walls
of the castle, and there were rumors that he was detained there by order
of the king. Assembling in great numbers, the Rouennais came before the
castle, shouting loudly for “Richard! Richard! our little Duke!” nor
could they be pacified till Louis appeared at the window, lifting young
Richard in his arms, and made them a speech upon the gratitude and
admiration which he pretended to feel for Duke William, to whom he said
he owed his restoration to the throne of his fathers, and whose son
he promised to regard as his own child.

On leaving Rouen, Louis claimed the right of taking Richard with him,
as the guardian of all crown vassals in their minority; and Bernard de
Harcourt, finding it impossible to resist, only stipulated that the
young Duke should never be separated from his Norman esquire, Osmond de
Centeville, who on his side promised to keep a careful watch over him.
Richard was accordingly conducted to Montleon, and made the companion of
the two young princes, Lothaire and Carloman, and for some time no more
was heard respecting him in Normandy. At last arrived a message from
Osmond de Centeville, sent in secret with considerable difficulty,
telling the Normans to pray that their young duke might be delivered out
of the hands of his enemies, for that he was convinced that evil was
intended, since he was closely watched; and one day when he had gone
down to the river to bathe, the queen had threatened him with cruel
punishments if he again left the place. Bernard immediately ordered a
three days’ fast, during which prayers for the safety of the little
duke were offered in every church in Normandy, and further tidings were
anxiously awaited.

In the meantime the faithful squire was devising a plan of escape. He
caused the young Richard to feign illness, and thus obtained a slight
relaxation of the vigilance with which his movements, were watched,
which enabled him to carry to the duke’s apartments a great bundle of
hay. At nightfall he rolled Richard up in the midst of it, and laying it
across his shoulders, he crossed the castle court to the stable, as if
he was going to feed his horse, and as soon as it was dark he mounted,
placing the boy before him, and galloped off to a castle on the borders
of Normandy, where the rescued prince was greeted with the greatest joy.

The escape of his ward was followed by an open declaration of war on the
part of Louis IV., upon which the Count de Harcourt sent to Denmark to
ask succor from King Harald Blue-tooth, who, mindful of Duke William’s
kindness, himself led a numerous force to Normandy. Bernard, pretending
to consider this as a piratical invasion, sent to ask Louis to assist
him in expelling the heathens. Louis entered Normandy, and came in
sight of the Danish host on the banks of the river Dives, where Harald
summoned him to leave the dukedom to its rightful owner. Louis desired
a conference, and a tent was pitched between the armies, where the two
kings met.

Bernard advised the King of France not to bring Herluin de Montreuil to
this meeting, since the Normans considered him as the occasion of their
duke’s death; but the French replied that no Dane should hinder their
king from taking with him whomsoever he pleased. While the two kings
were in the tent, Herluin, seeing a knight from the Cotentin, with whom
he was acquainted, went up to him and inquired after his health.

The Danes asked who he was, and the knight replied, “Count Herluin, who
caused Duke William’s death;” whereupon the wild Danes rushed upon him,
and killed him with their battle-axes.

A general conflict ensued; the French were put to flight, and by the
time the kings came out of the tent, the battle was decided. Louis
mounted his horse in order to rejoin his troops, but the animal ran with
him into the midst of the enemy, where Harald caught his bridle, made
him prisoner, and delivered him to four knights to keep. While, however,
they were engaged in plundering, he made his escape, and had ridden four
leagues when he met a soldier of Rouen, whom he bribed to hide him in an
island in the Seine, until he could find a fit opportunity of quitting
Normandy. Harald and Bernard, however, by making strict inquiries,
discovered that the soldier knew where he was, and seizing the man’s
wife and children, threatened to put them to death if he did not put the
king into their hands. Louis was accordingly delivered to them, but they
shortly after released him on receiving his two sons as hostages.

The younger of the two princes died shortly after his arrival in
Normandy; and anxiety for Lothaire, the remaining son, induced his
father to come to terms with the Normans; and, at St. Clair-sur-Epte,
Louis swore to leave Richard in undisturbed possession of his lands, and
to extend the limits of the duchy as far as the banks of the Epte, after
which the young duke paid him homage, and restored his son to him.

Richard then returned to Rouen, which he had not visited since he had
been carried to the French court, and was greeted with great joy by the
citizens, who were much delighted by his appearance, the height of his
figure, and the beauty of his countenance. The King of Denmark was also
received by them with great enthusiasm, who, after spending some time at
Rouen, returned home.

At the age of fourteen, Richard was betrothed to Emma, daughter of Hugh
the White, Count of Paris, a nobleman whose increasing power had long
been a subject of jealousy both to the court of Flanders and to the
King of France. On hearing of the intended connection between these two
mighty vassals, they united their forces to prevent it, and called in
the aid of Otho, Emperor of Germany, and Conrad, King of Burgundy.

While Louis and Conrad attacked the Count, Otho and Arnulf entered
Normandy, and laid siege to Rouen, but on the way thither were attacked
by an ambuscade under the command of the young Richard himself, who now
for the first time bore arms, and greatly signalized himself, putting
the Germans to flight, and killing the Emperor’s nephew with his own

Otho still advanced and invested Rouen. Wishing to know what resources
the city contained, he sent to ask Richard’s permission to enter it, in
order to pay his devotions at the shrine of St. Ouen. His request was
granted, and in passing through the streets he perceived that the city
was so well defended that he could not hope to take it. On his return to
the camp, he told his council that he intended to make his peace with
the Duke of Normandy, by delivering up to him the Count of Flanders, the
author of the expedition. His council, however, persuaded him that this
would be a disgraceful action; and Arnulf, receiving some hint of his
proposal, in the middle of the night quitted the camp with all his men,
and returned to Flanders. The noise of his departure awoke the Germans,
who, imagining themselves to be attacked by the besieged, armed
themselves in haste, and there was great confusion till morning, when,
perceiving The departure of the Flemings, they set fire to their camp,
and took the road to Germany. The Normans, sallying out of the town,
harassed the rear, killed a number of them, and took many prisoners, and
a great quantity of baggage.

In 954, Louis was killed by a fall from his horse, and was succeeded
by his son Lothaire, who inherited all his dislike to the Normans, and
especially hated the young duke, the companion of his boyhood, whose
fame had so far exceeded his own, both in feats of arms and skill in
government, and who, though only twenty-three, had been chosen by the
wise and great Count of Paris as the guardian of his children, and the
model on which his sons were to form themselves.

Twice did Lothaire, in conjunction with Count Thibaut de Chartres, a
young nobleman who envied the fame of Richard, attempt to assassinate
him at a conference; and the former, despairing of ridding himself of
him by treachery, assembled an army of fifty thousand men, entered
Normandy, and besieged Rouen. Here Richard, in a sudden night-attack on
his camp, dispersed his forces, and took a great number of prisoners,
all of whom he released without a ransom. Then, pursuing his advantage,
he entered the county of Chartres, but he was obliged to return to his
duchy, to defend it against a powerful league of all the neighboring
princes, formed by the king.

Fearing to be crushed by so mighty a force, he sent to ask succor from
his old friend, the king of Denmark, who, though too aged and infirm to
come himself to Normandy, equipped a numerous fleet, and sent his best
warriors to Richard.

The ravages which they committed compelled the king to send the Bishop
of Chartres to sue for peace, but he would not venture into the camp
without an escort from the duke, lest, as he said, “the Danish wolves
should devour him on the way.”

On his arrival, he implored Richard to have compassion on the French,
who suffered dreadful miseries from the Danes; and the duke, always
desirous of peace, willingly engaged to treat with the king, and
withdrew his forces into Normandy, to the great disappointment of the
Danes, who had expected to dethrone Lothaire, and to place the gallant
Richard on his throne. They were much surprised at the moderation of the
demands which he, a conqueror, made to the humiliated Lothaire, only
desiring to be left in quiet possession of his inheritance, and that
a pardon should be granted for all injuries committed on either side
during the war.

Lothaire gladly agreed to these terms, and the remainder of Richard’s
life was spent in peace. Such of the latter’s subjects as had been
trained to arms in the constant wars during his minority, found
employment in combats with the Greeks and Saracens in Italy, where the
twelve sons of a Norman knight, named Tancred de Hauteville, laid the
foundation of the kingdoms of the Two Sicilies. Their place was supplied
by the Danish allies, who, full of admiration for the Fearless
Duke, were desirous of embracing his religion, and living under his
government. Thibaut de Chartres came to Normandy to implore his pardon,
and was received with such kindness that he was overcome with shame at
his former conduct.

Richard was a stern but honorable man, and the courage and ability which
he displayed throughout these wars made a great impression on his Danish
allies, who were induced, in great numbers, to adopt the religion of the
Fearless Duke, and to live under his government.

How the truly great man takes his revenge, was indeed shown by Richard
the Fearless, the last time he took any part in the affairs of the
nation. It was when Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, once his ward, had been
raised to the throne of France by the authority of the Pope, and having
received the homage of every crown vassal excepting Arnulf of Flanders,
proceeded to ravage his county and seize his towns. Arnulf, completely
reduced, saw no hope for himself except in throwing himself on the mercy
of Duke Richard, the very man whose father he had murdered, and whom
he had pursued with the most unrelenting hatred from his earliest
childhood. Richard had but to allow royal justice to take its course,
and he would have been fully avenged; but he who daily knelt before the
altar of the Church of Fescamp, had learnt far other lessons. He went
to Hugh Capet, and so pleaded with him, that he not only obtained the
pardon of Arnulf, but the restoration of the whole of his county, and
of both his cities. Thus, without doubt, would the saintly William
Longsword have desired to be revenged by his only son.

Richard Sans Peur lived nine years after this, spending his time,
for the most part, in the Abbey of Fescamp, in devotion and works of
charity, and leaving the government to his eldest son, Richard the Good.
He is thus described by a Norman chronicler who knew him well in his old
age: “He was tall and well-proportioned, his countenance was noble, his
beard was long, and his head covered with white hair. He was a pious
benefactor to the monks, supplied the wants of the clergy, despised the
proud, loved the humble, aided the poor, the widow and the orphan, and
delighted in ransoming prisoners.”

He caused a stone coffin to be made for himself in his lifetime, and
placed in the Church of Fescamp, where, every Friday, he filled it with
wheat, which was afterwards distributed among the poor. In this Abbey he
died in 996, desiring to be buried outside the church, close beneath the
eaves, “where,” said he, “the droppings of water from the roof may fall
on me, and wear away the stains of earthly corruption.”

His daughter Emma is often mentioned in English history as the wife of
Ethelred the Unready, and afterward of Knut. She has often been much
blamed for this second marriage with the enemy of her country, but it
should be remembered how nearly the Northmen and Danes were connected,
and that Knut was the grandson of her father’s ally, Harald Blue-tooth.

The great event of Richard’s time was the above-mentioned recognition
of Hugh Capet as King of France. The Caroline race were Franks, chiefly
German in blood, and had never fully amalgamated with the race called
French, a mixture of Roman and Gallic, with only an upper stratum of the
true Frank. When the Counts of Paris obtained the throne, and the line
of Charlemagne retired into the little German county of Lotharingia, or
Lorraine, then France became really France, and a nation with a national
sovereign. Still it was a very small domain. Provence was part of the
German Empire, so was Burgundy; Anjou, Normandy, and Brittany were
almost independent, though owning a sort of allegiance to the king who
reigned at Paris.


  _Kings of England_.
   1016. Knut.
   1036. Harold I.
   1039. Harthaknut.
   1041. Edward the

  _Kings of France_.
   1031. Henry IV.
   1039. Philip I.

 _Emperors of Germany_.
   1021. Conrad II.
   1039. Henry III.
   1055. Henry IV.

Richard, called the Good, son of Richard Sans Peur, does not seem to
have been in all respects equal to his father, nor did much that is
worthy of note occur in his time.

He died in 1026, leaving two sons, Richard and Robert, both violent and
turbulent young men, the younger of whom was called, from his fiery
temper, Robert the Devil. After a fierce dispute respecting Robert’s
appanage, the two brothers were suddenly reconciled, and, immediately
afterward, Richard died, not without suspicion, on the part of the
French, that he had been poisoned by his brother.

The Normans gave little heed to the calumny, and, in fact, the open,
generous temper of Robert was by no means likely to belong to a secret
murderer. The splendor of his court, and munificence of his gifts,
acquired for him the name of Robert the Magnificent, and the following,
among other instances, is recorded of his liberality:

When attending mass at the Abbey of Cerizy, his own foundation, he
one day remarked a stranger knight, when asked for his alms at the
offertory, reply sadly, that he had nothing to give. He beckoned to
a squire, and sent him to present the poor stranger with a purse
containing a hundred pounds, which the knight immediately offered on the
altar. After the mass was over, the sacristan came to ask him if he knew
bow large the sum was, or if he had given it by mistake, to which he
replied, that he had offered it wittingly, since it was for no other
end that the Duke had sent it to him. His answer was reported by the
sacristan to the Duke, who instantly sent the high-minded stranger a
second purse, containing the same sum for his own use.

Robert founded nine monasteries, and made large gifts to all the
churches in his duchy, entreating the prayers of the clergy and of the
poor, for the pardon of the sins of his youth; but his conscience was
ill at ease, and in the sixth year of his dukedom he resolved to go on
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a journey which was then even more perilous
than in subsequent years, when the Crusades had, in some degree, secured
the safety of the pilgrims, and he seems to have been fully persuaded
that he should never return alive.

His chief care was for the welfare of his son, William, a boy of seven
years old, whose situation was the more precarious, because there was
a stain on his birth, his mother being the daughter of a tanner of
Falaise, so that it was more than probable that his right to the
succession would be disputed by the numerous descendants of Richard Sans
Peur. Robert did his best to secure his safety by calling together
the vassals to do homage to him, and placing him under the especial
protection of Henry I. of France, at whose court at Paris he left him.

Robert then set out on his pilgrimage, with a few companions, all
wearing the coarse garb of pilgrims, with staves in their hands, and
their feet bare. As they were passing the gates of a small town in
Franche Comté, Robert walking last, an insolent warder, tired of holding
the gate open, struck him such a blow on the shoulders with a halbert
that he reeled under it, but so changed was his once violent temper,
that, seeing his friends about to revenge the insult, he called out,
“Let him alone; pilgrims ought to suffer for the love of God. I love his
blow better than my city of Rouen.”

The next time Robert was heard of, was in humble guise, with staff
and wallet, when he received the blessing of the Pope at Rome; but
afterward, when he entered Constantinople, he appeared in all his wonted
magnificence. He rode to the palace of the Greek Emperor on a mule, shod
with golden shoes, so slightly fastened on as to be shaken off amongst
the crowds who surrounded him.

He travelled onward through Asia Minor, though attacked by a fever,
which obliged him to be carried in a litter by Moorish slaves--as he
himself expressed it to a Norman pilgrim whom he met returning, “to be
carried by devils to Paradise.” Safely arriving at Jerusalem, he there
paid the entrance-money for a multitude of poor pilgrims, whom he found
shut out because they were unable to pay the large toll demanded by the
Saracens; and after performing the accustomed devotions at the different
consecrated spots in the Holy City, he set out on his return to
Normandy. His health was already impaired by the fatigues of the
journey, and he died at the city of Nicaea, in the year 1035. There, in
the now profaned sanctuary, where was held the first general Council of
the Church, rests, in his nameless and forgotten grave, the last of the
high-spirited and devout Dukes of Normandy.

From the time of the departure of Duke Robert, dangers crowded round the
ducal throne of his child; nor were they, as in the stormy minority of
Richard Sans Peur, perils chiefly from enemies without, met by a band of
vassals, strong in attachment to their lord. The foes who threatened the
young William were of his own family, and his own subjects, and there
was none of that generous temper, even amongst his chief supporters,
which, in the case of his great-grandfather, had made the scenes of war
and bloodshed in which he was brought up, a school not of valor alone,
but of the higher virtues of chivalry.

The Norman barons, greatly altered from what they had been in the days
when the justice of Rollo prevailed, lived shut up in their strong
castles, making war on each other, like independent princes plundering
the poor, and committing horrible cruelties, entirely unrestrained by
the guardians of the Duke. These, indeed, seemed to be the especial mark
for the attacks of the traitors, for his tutor and seneschal were both
murdered; the latter, Osborn, Count de Breteuil, while sleeping in the
same room with him. Osborn left a son, William, called from his name
Fils, or Fitz Osborn, who grew up with the young Duke, and became his
chief companion and friend.

It is wonderful that William himself should have escaped death, when so
completely unprotected; but he was preserved through all these dangers
for the task which was prepared for him; and at a very early age, his
numerous troubles had formed his character in the mould fittest for
him, who was to be the scourge of England, and yet the founder of its

He was not sixteen when he first showed of what temper he was. His
great-uncle, the Count d’Arques, had set up a claim to the duchy,
and was besieged in his castle at Arques by Walter Gifford, Count de
Longueville, when the King of France succeeded in sending him such
considerable reinforcements and supplies, that Longueville sent
information that he should be obliged to raise the siege. The tidings
reached the Duke, at his hunting-lodge of Valognes. He stood for a few
moments in deep thought, and then called for his horse, only saying to
his knights these few words, “_Qui m’aime, me suive!_” “Let him who
loves me, follow me!” and rode off at full speed. He distanced all his
followers, rode all night, only stopping to take a fresh horse, and
in the evening of the next day arrived quite alone at the camp before
Arques, swearing never to leave it till the castle was in his hands.
The siege was continued with vigor, and, in a short time, it was
surrendered, the Count taking refuge in France.

From this time William took the direction of affairs into his own hands,
and, by his firmness and ability, succeeded in restraining the excesses
of his lawless vassals, though their turbulence, and the severity of
his own silent and haughty disposition, made their submission very
unwilling. When he was about twenty, a dangerous conspiracy was formed
against him by his cousin, Guy of Burgundy, and a number of his chief
vassals, who intended to seize him at his hunting-lodge at Valognes, put
him to death, and raise Guy to the dukedom.

The conspirators met at Bayeux, the day before their intended treachery,
and, whilst dining there, called in to amuse them a half-witted man
named Gillos, and the plot was, inadvertently, mentioned in his
presence. The duke, when passing through the town, had shown the
poor man some kindness, and no sooner did he understand the intended
treachery, than he left the hall, and set off for Valognes, where he
arrived just before midnight, and, finding all gone to rest, began to
batter the door with a stick, shouting for the Duke. At first, William
could not believe the story, but Gillos seemed so much in earnest, that
he deemed it advisable to go and see what had given rise to the report,
and, muffling himself in a cloak, ran down stairs, himself saddled his
horse, and rode toward Bayeux. Before he had gone far, he heard the
trampling of horses and clanking of weapons, and, concealing himself
among the trees, saw that the poor fool’s information was perfectly
correct, for the whole band of traitors passed by exactly as they had
been described. Upon this, he changed his course, and turned toward the
coast in the direction of Falaise, his birthplace, and the town most
devoted to his interests. The dawn of morning found him with his horse
so weary that it could hardly stand, at the entrance of a small village,
still at a considerable distance from Falaise, and ignorant of the road.
At that moment a gentleman came out of the principal house, and the
instant he beheld the young horseman, travel-stained and covered with
dust as he was, he exclaimed, “St. Mary, my Lord, what can have brought
you here in such a condition?”

“Who are you, who know me so well?” asked William, in reply.

“By my faith,” was the answer, “I am called Hubert de Ryes. I hold this
village of you under the Count de Bessin. Tell me, boldly, what you
need; I will help you as I would help myself.”

Accordingly, Hubert de Byes took him into his house, gave him some
refreshment, and provided him with a fresh horse, sending his three
sons with him as guides, whilst he himself remained to misdirect the
pursuers, William safely arrived at Falaise, and, in memory of his
escape, is said to have caused his path to be traced out by a raised
bank of earth, part of which is still in existence.

Rallying his faithful subjects around him at Falaise, and obtaining aid
from the king, William met the rebels at Val des Demes. One of them came
over to his side before the battle, and, having previously sworn that
the Duke should be the first man whom he would strike, he began by
giving his armor a slight blow with the point of his lance, considering
it necessary thus to fulfil his rash oath to the letter. The rebels were
totally defeated, and either submitted to William’s mercy, or went to
join their countrymen, who were engaged in the conquest of Sicily.

This was the last attempt made by the Normans to resist their Duke,
whose authority was now fully established; but it was not long before
a war broke out with his powerful neighbor Geoffrey, Count of Anjou,
which, however, would scarcely deserve mention, but for the curious
terms in which a challenge was sent by the Duke to the Count, who had
come to raise the siege of Domfront.

“Tell the Count of Anjou,” said he to William Fitz Osborn and Roger
Montgomery, his messengers, “that if he attempts to carry victuals into
Domfront, he will find me before the gates, mounted on a bay horse, and
with a red shield. And that he may know me the better, I shall have at
the point of my lance a streamer of taffety, to wipe his face withal.”

In the battle which followed, a few days after, William fulfilled his
threat, by overthrowing the Count, who escaped with difficulty, with the
loss of part of an ear, and was soon after obliged to conclude a peace.

William married Matilda, daughter of the Count of Flanders, and of a
sister of Duke Robert the Magnificent; and having omitted to ask the
dispensation from the Pope, which was required on the marriage of such
near relations, his uncle, the Archbishop of Rouen, laid them both under
sentence of excommunication. William sought for an advocate to send to
Rome to plead for their absolution, and his choice fell upon Lanfranc, a
native of Lombardy, who had been bred as a lawyer, and was possessed of
great learning and talent, but had chosen to embrace the monastic life,
and had selected the Norman abbey of Bee as the place of his profession,
because the monks there were very poor, and very strict in the
observance of their rule. Lanfranc, at the Duke’s desire, travelled to
Rome, and there succeeded in obtaining the confirmation of the marriage,
and the absolution of the bride and bridegroom, on condition of their
each founding an abbey, and jointly building a hospital for the blind.

In accordance with this command, Matilda built the beautiful Abbaye aux
Dames at Caen, where her eldest daughter, Cecile, afterward took the
veil, and William founded, at the same place, the Abbey of St. Stephen,
of which Lanfranc was the first abbot. But fair as were the proportions
of that exquisite building, noble as were its clustered columns, and
rich as were the zigzag mouldings of its deep arches, its foundation was
insecure, for it was on iniquity. It stood on ground violently taken
from a number of poor people; and where could the blessing of Heaven
have been?

Twenty-three years afterward a grave was dug in the noble choir of St.
Stephen’s Church, and William’s corpse was carried through the porch,
followed by a long train of nobles, knights, and clergy, but by not one
of his numerous children. The requiem was chanted, and orations were
made in praise of the Duke of Normandy, the King and Conqueror of
England, the founder of abbeys, the builder of churches, when suddenly
the cry of “Ha Ro!”--the Norman appeal for justice--was heard, and a man
in mean garments stood forth, and spoke thus: “Clerks and Bishops, this
ground is mine. Here was my father’s hearth. The man whom you praise
wrested it from me to build this church. I sold it not. I made no grant
of it. It is my right, and I claim it. In the name of Rollo, the founder
of his family, and of our laws, I forbid you to lay the body of the
spoiler therein, or to cover it with my earth.”

The Bishops were obliged to promise satisfaction to the man, and to pay
him on the spot sixty pence as the price of the Conqueror’s grave. But,
even then, his bones were not permitted to rest in peace. In the course
of the civil wars of France, his tomb was twice broken open by the
Huguenots, the first time rifled of the royal ornaments in which he
had been arrayed, and the second, the spoilers, disappointed of their
expected prize, cast out the mouldering bones, and dispersed them.

CAMEO IV. EARL GODWIN. (1012-1052.)

  _Kings of England_.
   1013. Swein.
   1014. Knut.
   1015. Ethelred the Unready (restored).
   1016. Edmund Ironside.
   1018. Knut.
   1036. Harold I.
   1039. Harthaknut.
   1041. Edward the Confessor.

The Danish conquest of England, although the power of the kings of that
nation continued but a short time, made great changes in the condition
of the country. The customs and laws that had hitherto been observed
only in the lands granted by Alfred to the Danes, spread into almost all
the kingdom, and the civilization which the great king had striven so
hard to introduce was well-nigh swept away.

England might be considered to be in three divisions--the West Saxon,
subject to the laws of Alfred; the Mercian, which had a law of its own;
and the East Anglian and Northern portion, where the population was
chiefly Danish, and which was therefore more under the immediate power
of the Danish kings. Under them, London became the royal residence,
instead of Winchester, and several words in our language still attest
their influence upon our customs. Of these is the word Hustings, for a
place of public assembly; and the title of Earl, for which the English
language afforded no feminine, till it borrowed the word Countess from
the French, reminds us that the Northern Jarls were only governors
during the king’s pleasure, and that their dignity conferred no rank on
their families.

Under the Danish kings, the other divisions of England fell under the
rule of three great Earls. The Danish Northumbria was ruled by the great
Northman Siward Bjorn; Mercia was governed by the house of Leofric, an
old noble family connected with the ancient line of Mercian kings.

There were many of this family named Leofric, and it is probably of
the one living at this time that the curious old tradition of Coventry
belongs, which related how his wife, the Lady Godiva, rode through the
town with no covering but her abundant hair, to obtain from him the
remission of the townspeople from his oppressive exactions--a story of
which the memory is kept up at Coventry by a holiday, and the procession
of the Lady Godiva.

Wessex had become the portion of Godwin, son of Ulfnoth, and
great-nephew to the traitor, Edric Streona, the murderer of Edmund
Ironside. There is a story, probably a mere fiction, that this family
was of mean origin, that Ulfnoth was a herdsman of the south of
Warwickshire, and that Godwin first rose to distinction in the following
manner: Ulf, a Danish Jarl, who had married a sister of Knut, was
separated from the army after one of the battles with Edmund Ironside,
and after wandering all night, met in the morning with a youth driving a
herd of cattle. He asked his name, and the reply was, “I am Godwin, the
son of Ulfnoth; and you, I think, are a Dane.”

Ulf confessed that he was, and begged the young man to show him the way
to the Severn, where he expected to find the fleet.

“The Dane would be a fool who trusted to a Saxon,” answered Godwin; and
when Ulf continued his entreaties, he explained that the way was not
long, but that the serfs were all in arms against the Danes, and would
kill both him and any one whom they found guiding him. Ulf offered the
young herdsman a golden ring for his reward. He looked at it a moment,
then said, “I will take nothing from you, but I will be your guide,” and
led him home to his father’s cottage, where he was hidden through the
whole day. At night, when he prepared to set forth, Ulfnoth told him
that Godwin would not be able to return, since the peasants would kill
him for having protected a Dane, and therefore begged that the Jarl
would keep him among his own people, and present him to the King.

Ulf promised, and this, it is said, was the foundation of Godwin’s
greatness; but there is great reason to doubt the tale, and it is far
more probable that the family was anciently noble. Godwin married Gyda,
the sister of Ulf, and thus was brought into near connection with Knut;
but Ulf, his patron and brother-in-law, soon after was killed in one of
those outbursts of violence and cruelty to which Knut seemed to return
whenever he went back to his own savage North.

Knut had been defeated by the Swedes at Helge, and was at Roskild,
when he was playing at chess in the evening with Ulf, and, making an
oversight, lost a knight. He took the piece back again, changed his
move, and desired his opponent to go on playing; but the Jarl, choosing
to play chess on equal terms or not at all, threw down the board, and
went away.

“Run away, Ulf the Fearful!” said Knut.

Ulf turned back, and answered, “Thou wouldst have run further at Helge
river! Thou didst not call me Ulf the Fearful when I came to thy help
while the Swedes were beating thee like a dog.”

Knut brooded on the offence all night, and in the morning sent his page
to kill the Jarl. The page found him at his prayers in church, and
therefore refrained; but Knut sent another of his followers, who slew
him as he knelt.

Godwin had, before this, gained too much favor to be likely to fall with
his brother-in-law. He was with the king on an expedition against the
Wends, and on the night before an intended battle, made a sudden attack
without Knut’s knowledge, and completely routed them. His talents were
so much appreciated, that he received the great Earldom of Wessex, the
portion of England least under the power of the Danes, and where the
old line of Alfred was most loved and regretted, since it was their
hereditary kingdom.

For this reason Godwin was desirous to maintain the Danes in England
after Knut’s death, and to keep the scattered royal line at a distance.
Harthaknut, whom the will of his father had called to the succession,
was absent in Denmark, and Godwin caused his brother, Harold Harefoot,
to be crowned in haste, though the Archbishop would not sanction the
usurpation, placed the crown and sceptre on the altar, and forbade the
bishops to give him their blessing.

Alfred and Edward, the two sons of Ethelred the Unready, had in the
meantime been brought up under the protection of their uncle, Richard
the Good, of Normandy, dwelling for the most part in those beautiful
Abbeys of Fescamp and Jumièges, which had been endowed by the piety of
the Dukes, and where they grew up in godliness and virtue, with gentle
manners and civilized tastes, far unlike to those which prevailed in
their native land. Robert the Magnificent was a great friend to them,
and his death on his pilgrimage made their abode in Normandy far less
peaceful and secure.

Soon after the coronation of Harold Harefoot, they received a letter
purporting to come from their mother, Emma, widow of Knut, inviting them
to assert their claim to their father’s throne. Edward, with a band
of Normans, met his mother at Winchester, but he could not keep his
followers from plundering the country; and finding little hope of
success, gave up the attempt, and returned to Normandy. Alfred landed at
Sandwich, in Kent, and was so well received by the Archbishop and
people, that Godwin, becoming alarmed, had recourse to treachery,
pretended to own him as king, and conducted him to Guilford. Thither
King Harold sent his Danes, who seized the prince’s followers, after
Godwin’s men had dispersed them through the town and stupefied them with
drink. Every tenth man was killed, the rest were sold for slaves, and
Alfred himself was carried to Ely, where his eyes were torn out, and he
died of the injury. His mother, Emma, fled to Bruges, and this makes it
probable that either she never sent the letter at all, or was only the
innocent instrument of Godwin’s desire to rid himself of the royal
family; but her son Edward believed her to have been knowingly concerned
in this horrible transaction, and never regarded her as guiltless of his
brother’s death. It is possible that Godwin may also have been free from
treachery, and have meant well by the prince.

Her other son, Harthaknut, left Denmark to join her at Bruges, intending
in the spring to drive Harold from the throne; but death was beforehand
with him. Harold died in 1040, and Harthaknut had only to come to
England to take possession of the crown. Both these young men were, at
heart, savage Danes; and the first deed of Harthaknut, on his arrival,
was to satisfy his vengeance for the usurpation of his throne and the
murder of Alfred, by causing Harold’s corpse to be taken from its grave,
the head cut off, and the body thrown into a marsh. He threatened to
punish Godwin, but the Earl averted his wrath by the present of one of
the long serpent-like keels prized by the Danes, the prow gilded, and
the crew of eighty men, each fully equipped, and with a gold bracelet on
the left arm.

Harthaknut was pacified by this gift, and contented himself with sending
for his surviving half-brother Edward from Normandy, and treating him as
became the Atheling. The wild, half-heathen court of Harthaknut was a
strange and bewildering change for the gentle Edward, whose habits and
tastes were only suited to the convent where he had spent his early
days, and who found in the rough affection of his Danish brother his
only protection from the fierce spirits around. His grief and dismay
were great when, after he had spent a few months in England, he heard
that Harthaknut, at the wedding-feast of the daughter of the Dane,
Osgood Clapa, from whom Clapham is named, had died suddenly, immediately
after an excessive draught of wine.

Edward found himself left without protection in the hands of the fierce
men who had murdered his brother. He was forty years old, and of an
inactive, timid disposition, which unfitted him for taking any bold
measures in this emergency; his affections were in the convents of
Normandy, and with the young son of his friend, Duke Robert, and he
earnestly entreated Godwin to allow him to return in safety thither.

The Earl, however, saw that neither Saxons nor Danes would submit to the
authority of one who was not of royal blood, and that the best hope
of preserving the power he had acquired in the latter reigns, was by
setting up a weak king, and governing in his name. He therefore replied
by tendering his submission to Edward, and promising to support him on
the throne, on condition that he would marry Edith, his daughter, so
fair, so gentle, and pious a lady, that it was a saying, “Even as the
rose springs from the thorn, so springs Edith from Godwin.” She was very
learned, and Ingulf, who afterward was the secretary of the Conqueror,
and Abbot of Croyland, loved to remember how, when he was a boy come
from his convent-school to visit his father at the court, the Lady Edith
would send for him, examine him in his studies, and end by causing her
maiden to count out three or four coins into his hand, and sending him
to the royal larder for refreshment.

Edward was thus placed upon the throne, and every act performed of his
own free will showed his gentleness and desire for his people’s good. At
the request of Edith, he abolished the Danegeld, or money raised first
to bribe the Danes, and then as their tribute; indeed, it was said
that he had seen a vision of an evil spirit dancing on the gold thus
collected. He made new laws in hopes of preventing crime, and set so
strict an example of attention to every rule of the Church, and giving
alms so largely, that he gained the love of his people, and fixed his
memory in their hearts so strongly, that he was revered as a Saint, and
the title of Confessor was given to him, though it properly only applies
to one who has suffered everything short of martyrdom, for the sake of
the Christian faith.

The times were too rude and violent for a king of so soft a mould:
crimes were committed which he had no power to restrain, and,
weak-handed and bewildered, he seems to have acted in great matters much
as he did in the following adventure: He was lying on his bed, when a
person came into the apartment, and, thinking him asleep, stole some
money out of a chest. The King let this pass; but when the thief
returned for a second handful, he quietly said, “Sirrah, you had better
take care, for if Hugolin, my chamberlain, catches you, he will give you
a sound beating.” Hugolin soon came in, and was much concerned at the
loss. “Never mind,” said the King; “the poor man wants it more than we

The sons of Godwin were growing up rude, high-spirited young men, who
presumed on their connection with the King to hold him cheap, and laugh
at him to his face. Sweyn, the eldest, was the worst, and at last caused
himself to be banished from the realm by the crime of carrying off the
Abbess from the Convent of Leominster. He then spent the life of
a pirate, in the course of which he visited the coast, and, while
pretending to attempt to be reconciled to his family, treacherously
murdered his cousin Biorn. After six years he repented, went barefoot on
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and died while returning. The other brothers
were stained with no such enormities, but they were dreaded and disliked
by the King, who naturally turned to the friends of his youth, the

Norman dresses and customs were introduced, the King’s own handwriting
was in the foreign character, and he expressed his assent to the laws by
appending to them an impression of his seal, after the fashion of the
kings of France. He likewise invited many of his old friends from
Normandy, gave some of them lands in England, where they built
fortified castles, and bestowed the bishopries and abbeys upon Norman
ecclesiastics. Great discontent arose upon this, and Godwin and his
sons took advantage of them to gain popularity, by strenuously opposing
everything Norman, and maintaining, as they said, the old English

Eustace als Gernons (the Whiskered), Count de Mantes, who had married
the King’s sister, came to visit Edward. At Dover a squabble took place
between his followers and the townspeople, in which several persons
on both sides were killed. Edward ordered Godwin to chastise the
townspeople, but, instead of this, the Earl collected an army, and
marched upon the King himself. They would have made him prisoner but for
Leofric of Mercia, and Siward, Earl of Northumbria, who both came to his
rescue, and drove Godwin and his family into exile.

Edward now felt himself truly King of England, and was able to enjoy a
short visit from the Duke of Normandy, who came to see him, and probably
then first conceived the hope of obtaining the crown of the ill-governed
and divided country that seemed ready to fall a prey to the first
vigorous enemy.

Earl Godwin was not long in assembling his friends, and making a descent
on the coast. All Kent and London rose in his favor, and Edward was
obliged to permit his return, and be reconciled to him.

Very shortly after his return, he was struck with a fit of apoplexy,
while feasting with the King at Easter. He was borne from the table by
his two eldest surviving sons, Harold and Tostig, and died five days
after, in the year 1052. The Norman chroniclers give the following
account of his death: One of the cup-bearers, while serving the King,
happened to make a false step, but saved himself from falling by the
foot, at which Godwin observed, “See how one brother helps another!”

“Yes,” said the king, “so would my brother have helped me, had he

“I know you suspect me of his death,” replied Godwin, “but may God, who
is true and just, cause this morsel of bread to choke me, if I am guilty
of his murder.”

Scarcely had he spoken the words before he fell back, struck by the hand
of Heaven, and never uttered another word. Much doubt has been cast upon
this story, since it comes to us through Normans, who were great enemies
of his house. There is, however, nothing incredible in it; and other
instances have been known of persons who thus defied and brought upon
themselves the judgment of Heaven, in the full course of their crimes.

There is a propensity in these days to exalt the character of Godwin,
as if he had been an honest supporter of the old English habits against
foreign innovations. It is an entirely mistaken view, since Godwin
climbed into power by the favor of the enemies and destroyers of his
country, murdered the prince of the ancient line, and throughout the
reign of the lawful successor disturbed his peace, and attempts at
civilization, by factious opposition. Norman customs would have done
far less harm to England than the Danish invaders among whom Godwin had
contentedly spent the best years of his life. He seems throughout to
have listened only to his own ambition, and to have scrupled at nothing
that could promote his interest. Eloquence, and attention to the humors
of the nation, won for him wealth and power that rendered him formidable
to the King, and he built up a great name and fortune for himself, but
brief and fleeting was the inheritance that he bequeathed to his sons.
In fourteen years from his death only one of his brave band of sons
survived, and he was a miserable captive, who spent his whole existence
in the dungeons of his chief enemy. It seemed as if nothing that Godwin
had acquired could be enduring, for the very lands he left behind him no
longer exist, his chief estate on the coast of Kent was swallowed by the
sea, and now forms the dangerous shoal called the Goodwin Sands.

“Wise men also die and perish together, as well as the ignorant and
foolish, and leave their riches for other.

“And yet they think their houses shall continue forever; and that their
dwelling-places shall endure from one generation to another, and call
the lands _after their own names_.”

Far more enduring have been the memorials left by the meek Edward the
Confessor, though he had no son to carry on his name. He had vowed,
during his exile, to go on pilgrimage to Rome, but the Witenagemot
refused to consent to his leaving England, and he sent the Archbishop
of York to ask the advice of the Pope, Leo IX., who recommended him to
perform some work of piety at home.

This was the foundation of the Church of St. Peter’s, in the open
country, at the west end of London, and therefore called Westminster. It
was built with all the skill of Norman architects, and occupied several
years. Edward’s last illness prevented him from being present at its
consecration, and he was represented there by his wife, but he soon
found his rest there. It was dedicated on the Holy Innocents’ day, 1065,
and he was buried there on the 5th of January following. His memory
seemed to give an additional sacredness to the spot in the eyes of the
loving English, and the pavement round his tomb was worn away by their

CAMEO V. THE TWO HAROLDS. (1060-1066.)

  _Kings of England_.
   1041. Edward the
   1066. Harold.

  _Kings of France_.
   1059. Philippe I.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1055. Heinrich IV.

The death of Godwin did not at first seem likely to diminish the power
of his family. Harold, his eldest surviving son, was highly endowed with
mental powers and personal beauty and prowess, and was much preferred
by Edward the Confessor to the old Earl himself. He obtained all his
father’s lands, and, shortly after, distinguished himself in a war with
the Welsh, showing, however, that vainglory was his characteristic; for
he set up mounds of stones along the course of his march, bearing the
inscription, “Here Harold conquered.”

The earls who had hitherto balanced the power of the Godwin family,
were, about this time, removed by death. Leofric, of Mercia, and his son
Algar, died within a few years of each other; and Algar’s sons, Edwin
and Morkar, were as yet young and timid. Old Earl Siward Biorn fought
his last battle when he assisted Malcolm Canmore in overthrowing the
murderous usurper, Macbeth, in Scotland. In the battle, Siward’s
eldest-son, of the same name as himself, was killed. The father only
asked if his death-wound was in front, and when he heard it was, “I
heartily rejoice,” said he; “no other death is worthy of my son.”

He himself was obliged, much against his will, to die in peace. “I am
ashamed,” he said, “after so many battles, to die like a cow; case me
in my armor, gird on my sword, put on my helmet, give me my shield and
battle-axe, lift me to my feet, that I may die like a man!”

The fierce old Earl’s younger son, Waltheof, was a mere child, and the
earldom of Northumbria was therefore given to Tostig, the son of Godwin,
but he so misgoverned it that he was, by command of the King, sent into
exile by his brother Harold, whom he thenceforth regarded with the
utmost hatred.

Harold stood so high in favor, both with King and people, that his views
began to take a still loftier flight, especially after the death of
Edward the Stranger, the only grown-up person excepting the King who
inherited the blood of Alfred. The stranger had indeed left an infant
son, but his rights were entirely overlooked. The King wished to leave
his crown to his cousin William, Duke of Normandy; and Harold, trusting
to the general hatred of the Norman race, hoped to secure it for
himself, much in the same way as Hugh Capet had lately dethroned the
line of Charles le Magne in France.

Edward the Confessor, desirous of a affording William some means of
curbing Harold’s ambition, sent to him as hostages Ulfnoth and Hako,
a son and grandson of Godwin. Harold, however, contrived to extort
permission to go to Rouen, and request their liberation, and set out
from Bosham, in Sussex. A storm wrecked him in Ponthieu; he was taken
captive by the count of that district, who gave him up to William in
exchange for a considerable manor, and thus, though he entered Rouen
in state, he found himself, instead of the ambassador of the King of
England, in effect the prisoner of the Duke of Normandy.

He was treated with great courtesy, accompanied William on an expedition
against the Duke of Brittany, and gave great help to the Normans by
his personal strength, when some of them were in danger, in crossing a
river, and, apparently, was in high honor; but William was determined
not to miss the advantage chance had thrown in his way; and when Harold,
alter spending some months at Rouen, proposed to return, he, in the
first place, insisted on drawing up a treaty of alliance and friendship
with his good friend the Earl of Wessex, to be sworn to on both sides.
Very distasteful must this promise of friendship have been to Harold,
since the first article required him to assist the Duke with all his
power in obtaining the crown of England upon Edward’s death; but he
found it impossible to resist, and declared himself perfectly willing to
engage himself as required.

An oath taken on the relics of the Saints was, at that time, considered
as more binding than one taken on the Holy Scriptures; and William
commanded that the most honored of these remains should be collected
from various churches and placed in a chest, covered with cloth of gold
on which a copy of the Gospels was laid. Harold, laying his hand on the
book, swore to observe the treaty faithfully; and when he had so done,
William removed the cloth and showed him the relics, at the sight of
which he turned pale and trembled--a sure sign, as was thought by the
Normans who stood round, that his conscience would not allow him to
break an oath which was believed to have thus acquired double force and
sanctity. Yet Harold soon proved that no oaths can bind a man who will
not be bound by his simple word.

A few months after his return from Normandy, he was standing by the
bedside of the dying Edward the Confessor, importuning his last moments
with entreaties to him to declare his successor.

“Ye know, full well,” said the poor old King, “that I have bequeathed my
kingdom to the Duke of Normandy; nay, some be here who have sworn oaths
to him.”

Harold pressed him for some other answer, and he replied, “Take it,
Harold, if such be thy will, but the gift will be thy ruin. Against the
Duke and his barons no might of thine will avail thee.”

“Fear not for me,” replied Harold, joyfully; “I fear neither Norman, nor
aught else.”

“May it fall to the most worthy!” was the faint answer of Edward. His
thoughts began to wander, and he uttered many passages of Scripture
speaking of desolation and destruction, which were afterward regarded by
his subjects as the last prophecies of their saintly king. He died two
days afterward, and, on the feast of Epiphany, 1066, Harold assumed the
crown. The coronation was solemnized by Alfred, Archbishop of York; but
whether the absence of the Primate Stigand was occasioned by his dislike
to the usurpation, or by the sentence of excommunication under which he
had been laid by the Pope, is not known. Be that as it may, there was
little joy to welcome the accession of Harold; the people were full of
melancholy forebodings, excited by the predictions of King Edward,
as well as by the appearance of a comet, then supposed to denote the
approach of misfortune; the great earls, Edwin and Morkar, were his
enemies, the nobles envied him, and stood aloof, significantly relating
a story of his boyhood, when he is said to have met with a severe fall
in a foolish attempt to fly from the top of a tower with wings of his
own contrivance. There is a Spanish proverb which, in truth, suited
Harold well: “The ant found wings for her destruction.” The bitterest of
all his enemies was his own brother, Tostig, who, having been banished
partly by his means, on account of his misgovernment of Northumbria, was
living in Flanders, whence, the instant he heard of Harold’s coronation,
he hastened with the tidings to Normandy; and not thinking William’s
preparations speedy enough to satisfy the impatience of his hatred, he
went to Norway, where he found a willing ally in Harald Hardrada, the
last sea-king.

A curious story is told of the childhood of this Harald Hardrada, who
was the half-brother of the kingly St. Olaf, being the son of the
haughty Aasta and the peaceful Sigurd Syr. When Harald was about three
years old, St. Olaf was on a visit to his mother, and calling to his
little brothers, took the two eldest, Guttorm and Halfdan, one on each
knee, and looked at them, with a fierce countenance, at which both the
little boys were frightened, and ran away to hide themselves. He then
took Harald on his knee, and put on the same fierce look at him, but the
child looked boldly up in his face in return. As a further trial of
his courage, the king pulled his hair, upon which the little fellow
undauntedly pulled the king’s whiskers, and Olaf said, “Thou wilt be
revengeful, some day, my friend.”

The next day, Olaf found his little brothers at play; the two eldest
building little barns and enclosing cornfields, and Harald lying by the
side of a pool of water, in which he was floating small chips of wood.

“What are these?” asked the king.

“My ships of war,” said little Harald.

“Ha! my friend,” said the King, “the time may come when thou wilt
command ships.”

He then called the other two, and asked Guttorm what he would like best
to have.

“Corn land,” said he.

“And how great wouldst thou like thy corn land to be?”

“I would have the whole ness (peninsula) that goes out into the lake
sown with corn every summer.”

“And what wouldst thou like best?” he asked of Halfdan.

“Cows,” said the boy.

“How many wouldst thou like to have?”

“So many, that when they went to the lake to drink, they should stand as
tight round the lake as they could stand.”

“That would be a great house-keeping!” said the king; “and now, Harald,
what wouldst thou have?” “Followers.”

“And how many of them?”

“Oh, so many as would eat up all Halfdan’s cows at a single meal!”

Olaf laughed, and said, “Here, mother, thou art bringing up a king.”

In fact, Guttorm and Halfdan followed the quiet life of their father,
but Harald was of far different temper. When Olaf returned from his
exile in Russia, young Harald, who was scarcely fifteen, joined him with
all the followers he could muster, and insisted on taking part in the
battle of Stiklestad.

Olaf told him he was too young; but Harald boldly answered, “I am not
so weak but I can handle the sword; and as to that, I have a notion
of tying the sword to my hand;” and then the brave boy sung out some
verses, composed on the spur of the moment, according to a talent often
found among the Northmen, and highly valued:

  “Our army’s wing, where I shall stand,
  I will hold good with heart and hand;
  My mother’s eye shall joy to see,
  A batter’d, blood-stain’d shield from me.
  The brave young skald should gaily go
  Into the fray, change blow for blow;
  Cheer on his men, gain inch by inch,
  And from the spear-point never flinch.”

Olaf saw plainly that his high-spirited mother had infused her own
temper into her youngest son as entirely as into himself, and yielded
his consent that Harald should take part in the battle. It was a
mournful beginning for a young warrior. Harald beheld the fall of his
noble brother, and was himself severely wounded. He was led from the
field by a faithful bonder, who hid him in his house; but the spirit of
the young minstrel warrior was undaunted, and, during his recovery, he
sung thus:

  “My wounds were bleeding as I rode,
  And down the hill the bonders strode,
  Killing the wounded with the sword,
  The followers of their rightful lord.
  From wood to wood I crept along,
  Unnoticed by the bonder throng;
  ‘Who knows,’ I thought, ‘a day may come,
  My name may yet be great at home.’”

As soon as his wounds were healed, Harald took refuge in Russia, and
thence travelled to Constantinople, where he became one of the renowned
guards of the Greek Emperor, composed of hired Northmen and Saxons, and
called Vaeringer, or Varangians, from the word _Wehr_, a defence. He
went from Constantinople to the Holy Land, bathed in the Jordan, paid
his devotions at Jerusalem, and killed the robbers on the way. Strange
stories were told of his adventures at Constantinople, of the Empress
Zoe having fallen in love with him, and of his refusal to return her
affection; upon which she raised an accusation against him, that he had
misapplied the pay of the Vaeringers, and threw him into prison,
whence, as the story related, he was freed by a lady, who was
commissioned to rescue him by St. Olaf, his brother, who appeared to
her in a dream. She brought him a rope ladder, and he escaped to his
ship, broke through the chains that guarded the harbor, and sailed
northward through the Black Sea, composing on his voyage sixteen songs
in honor of Elisif, the Russian king’s daughter, whom he married on his
arrival at Novogorod. He obtained with her great riches, which he added
to the treasures he had brought from Constantinople.

St. Olaf’s son, Magnus, was reigning in Norway, and Harald Hardrada
designed to obtain from him a portion of the kingdom, to winch, by the
old Norwegian law, every descendant of Harald Harfagre had an equal
claim. Harald united with his cousin Swend, who had been dispossessed
of an earldom by Magnus, and they advanced together; but Harald was
inclined, if possible, rather to decide the matter by a treaty, than
by force of arms; while Swend, on the other hand, wished for war and

One evening, as the two allies were sitting together, Swend asked Harald
what he valued most of all his property.

“My banner, Land-Waster,” answered Harald.

“And wherefore?”

“It has always been said that this banner carries victory with it, and
so I have ever found it.”

“I will believe in that when thou hast borne it in three battles with
thy nephew Magnus, and won them all.”

“I know my kindred with king Magnus,” answered Harald, “without thy
recalling it; and though we are now in arms against him, our meeting may
be of another sort.”

They came to high words, Swend reproaching his ally with breaking his
agreement. Harald distrusted his intentions, and, at night, did not, as
usual, sleep in a tent on the deck of his ship, but left a billet of
wood in his place. At midnight a man rowed silently up to the side of
the ship, crept up to the tent, and struck so violent a blow with his
axe, that it remained sticking in the wood, while the murderer retired
to his boat, and rowed away in the dark.

Harald, convinced of this treachery, deserted Swend, and went to join
Magnus, who met him in a friendly manner, and invited him, with sixty of
his men, to a banquet.

After the feast, Magnus went round the table, distributing gifts of
robes and weapons to the sixty men; but when he came to Harald, he held
up two sticks, and asked which of them he would choose. Harald took the
nearest, and Magnus declared that therewith he gave up to him half his
power and land in Norway, making him of equal right with himself, and
only reserving the first seat when they should be together at any time.

Harald sent for all the treasure he had brought home, declaring that
they would likewise divide their riches; and the gold was weighed out,
and placed in two equal heaps, each on an ox-hide. But Magnus had no
riches to contribute, for he said that the turmoils in the country had
so impoverished him, that all the gold he possessed was the ring on
his finger, which his father, St. Olaf, had given him at their last
parting. Even this, Harald said, smiling, perhaps belonged rightfully
to him, since it was, at first, the property of his father, Sigurd Syr.
However, the two kings parted amicably, and reigned together without
disagreements of any consequence, for the remembrance of St. Olaf seemed
always to be a link between his son and brother. Magnus, the more gentle
of the two, died just as his uncle had led him to enter on a war of
ambition with Swend, King of Denmark.

Norwegian traditions relate that he dreamt that his father, St. Olaf,
appeared to him, saying, “Wilt thou choose, my son, to follow me, or to
become a long-lived and powerful king, at the cost of a crime that can
never be expiated?”

“Do thou choose for me, father,” he answered.

“Then follow me,” replied the spirit.

Magnus awoke, told the dream, sickened, and died, leaving the whole of
Norway to Harald Hardrada, and declaring that it would be just not to
molest Swend in his possession of Denmark.

Harald reigned prosperously, until, in an evil hour, he received Tostig,
the son of Godwin, and listened to his invitation to come and invade
England, and revenge him on his brother Harold. He fitted out a great
armament, sailed up the Humber, plundered and burnt Scarborough,
defeated the young earls of Mercia and Northumberland, and summoned York
to surrender.

The citizens, dreading an assault, promised to yield the next day; and,
accordingly, early in the morning, Hardrada, Tostig and a small band of
followers, set out from their camp at Stamford Bridge, on the banks of
the Ouse, to receive the keys. The day was bright and warm, though late
in September, and the Northmen had left behind them their shirts of
mail, and only bore sword, shield, and helmet; even Harald himself had
left behind his hawberk Emma, and only wore a blue robe embroidered with
gold, and a rich helmet.

As they were approaching the city, they suddenly beheld a cloud of dust,
and beneath it the glitter of armor, glancing, as the Norwegians said,
like sparkling ice. As they came nearer, they could distinguish the red
dragon standard of Wessex, proving that there was the king whom they
had supposed to be far away on the south coast, watching to prevent the
landing of William of Normandy.

Though taken by surprise, outnumbered, and half-armed, Hardrada did not
lose courage. He sent messengers to summon the rest of his men, and
planting in the midst his banner, Land-Waster, ranged his troops round
it in a circle, with the ends of their spears resting on the ground, and
the points turned outward.

Twenty horsemen, in full armor, advanced from the Saxon army, and one of
them, riding close up to the circle, called out, “Where is Earl Tostig,
the son of Godwin?”

“He is here!” replied Tostig.

“Thy brother salutes thee, offers thee peace, his friendship, and the
Earldom of Northumbria; nay, rather than not be friends with thee, he
would give thee the third of his kingdom.”

“If he had held this language a year ago,” replied Tostig, who knew the
speaker but too well, “he would have saved the lives of many men. But
what will he offer my noble ally, King Harold Sigurdson?”

“Seven feet of English earth,” answered the horseman, proudly scanning
the gigantic figure of the Sea-King, “or maybe a little more.”

“Then,” said Tostig, “King Harold, my brother, may prepare for battle.
Never shall it be said that the son of Godwin forsook the son of
Sigurd.” It must have been a strange look that passed between those two
brothers, thus on the verge of a deadly strife, each surrounded with
dangers that could scarcely be averted, and but of late actuated with
bitter hate, but, at the decisive moment, that hatred giving way, and
their hearts yearning to each other, with the memories of long-past
days, yet both too proud to show how they were mutually touched, too far
pledged to their separate parties to follow the impulse that would have
drawn them once together in love. It was too late; the battle must be
fought--the brothers’ deeds had decided their lot.

The Saxon horseman rode off, and the Norwegian King asked, who was the
man who had been speaking so well.

“It was King Harold Godwinson,” said Tostig.

“Why did I not learn this sooner?” said Hardrada. “He should never have
had to boast of the slaughter of our men.”

“It may have been imprudent,” said Tostig, “but he was willing to grant
me peace and a great dominion. If one of us must die, I had rather he
should slay me, than I slay him.”

So spoke Tostig, who had, of late, been rushing from country to country
to stir up foes against his brother. Surely he would have given worlds
to check the ruin he had wrought, though his sense of honor would not
allow him to forsake his ally.

“He is but a little man, but he sits firmly in his stirrups,” returned
Harald Hardrada; and then, to cheer his men in their desperate case, he
chanted aloud one of his impromptu war-songs:

  “Advance, advance,
  The helmets glance;
  But blue swords play
  In our array.

  “Advance, advance,
  No hawberks glance--
  But hearts are here
  That know no fear.”

“These verses sound but ill,” said the Sea-King, interrupting himself;
“we will make some better;” and, careful of his verses as a Skald in his
last battle, as well as in his first, he sung:

  “In battle morn we seek no lee,
  With skulking head and bending knee,
  Behind the hollow shield;
  With eye and hand we guard the head,
  Courage and promptness stand instead,
  Of hawberk, on this field.”

It was his death-song. Early in the battle his throat was pierced by an
arrow; and learning his death, Harold Godwinson sent once more to offer
Tostig pardon, and leave to the Northmen to return home; but they
refused quarter, and Tostig would not forsake them. The other Northmen
from the ships joined them, and the fight raged with more fury than
ever in the “death-ring,” as the Skalds termed it, round the banner
Land-Waster. Tostig fell there, and only a few fled to their ships,
protected by a brave Norseman, who stood alone to guard Stamford bridge,
then only consisting of a few planks, till an Englishman crept under,
thrust up his spear, and slew him from below.

However, Harold’s condition was too critical to allow of his wasting
his strength on a defeated foe; he allowed Hardrada’s son to return
unmolested to Norway with his fleet and the remains of his army, and he
gave great offence to his men by not sharing the plunder of the camp
with them.

So died the last of the Sea-Kings, by the last Anglo-Saxon victory.


The Duke of Normandy seems to have considered himself secure of the fair
realm of England, by the well-known choice of Edward the Confessor, and
was reckoning on the prospects of ruling there, where the language and
habits of his race were already making great progress.

On a winter day, however, early in 1066, as William, cross-bow in hand,
was hunting in the forests near Rouen, a horseman galloped up to him and
gave him, in a low voice, the information that his cousin, King Edward
of England, was dead, and that Earl Harold of Kent had been crowned in
his stead.

With fierce rage were these tidings given, for the bearer of them was
no other than Tostig, who attempted to bring the Normans against his
brother, before seeking the aid of Harald Hardrada in the north.

No less was the ire of the Norman Duke excited, but he was of too stern
and reserved a nature to allow his wrath to break out at once into
words. Sport, however, was at an end for him; he threw down his
cross-bow, and walked out of the forest, his fine but hard features
bearing so dark and gloomy an expression, that no one dared to ask what
had disturbed him.

Without a word, he entered the castle, and there strode up and down the
hall, his hands playing with the fastenings of his cloak, until suddenly
throwing himself on a bench, he drew his mantle over his face, turned it
to the wall, and became lost in deep musings.

His knights stood round, silent and perplexed, till a voice was heard
humming a tune at a little distance, and the person entered who, more
than any other, shared the counsels of Duke William, namely, William
Fitzosborn, Count de Breteuil, son of that Osborn the seneschal who had
been murdered in the Duke’s chamber.

The two Williams were of the same age, had been brought up together,
and Fitzosborn now enjoyed the office of seneschal, and was on a more
intimate footing with his lord than any other was admitted to by the
dark and reserved prince. All the knights gathered round him to ask what
ailed the Duke.

“Ah!” said he, “you will soon hear news that will not please you;” and
as William, roused by his voice, sat up on the bench, he continued:
“Sir, why hide what troubles you? It is rumored in the town that the
King of England is dead, and that Harold has broken his faith, and
seized the realm.”

“You are right,” replied the Duke. “I am grieved at the death of King
Edward, and at the wrong Harold has done me.”

Fitzosborn answered with such counsels as his master would best be
pleased to hear. “Sir, no one should grieve over what cannot be undone,
far less over what may be mended. There is no cure for King Edward’s
death, but there is a remedy for Harold’s evil deeds. You have warlike
vassals; he has an unjust cause. What needs there, save a good heart?
for what is well begun, is half done.”

William’s wishes lay in the direction his friend pointed out, but he was
wary, and weighed his means before undertaking the expedition against so
powerful and wealthy a state as England. His resources seemed as nothing
in comparison with those of England; his dukedom was but a petty state,
himself a mere vassal; and though he had reason to hope that the English
were disaffected toward Harold, yet, on the other hand, he was not
confident of the support of his own vassals--wild, turbulent men, only
kept in cheek by his iron rule, without much personal attachment to one
so unbending and harsh, and likely to be unwilling to assist in his
personal aggrandizement.

He paused and calculated, waiting so long that Tostig, in his
impatience, went to Norway, and tried to find a prompter for Harold.
Messages in the meantime passed between Normandy and England without
effect. William claimed the performance of the oaths at Rouen, and
Harold denied any obligation to him, offering to be his ally if he would
renounce the throne, but otherwise defying him as an enemy.

Having at length decided, William summoned his vassals to meet at
Lillebonne, and requested their aid in asserting his right to the
English Crown.

When he left them to deliberate, all with one consent agreed that they
would have nothing to do with foreign expeditions. What should they
gain? The Duke had no right to ask their feudal service for aught but
guarding their own frontier. Fitzosborn should he the spokesman, and
explain the result of their parliament.

In came the Duke, and Fitzosborn, standing forth, spoke thus: “Never, my
lord, were men so zealous as those you see here. They will serve you as
truly beyond sea as in Normandy. Push forward, and spare them not. He
who has hitherto furnished one man-at-arms, will equip two; he who has
led twenty knights, will bring forty. I myself offer you sixty ships
well filled with fighting men.”

Fitzosborn was stopped by a general outcry of indignation and dissent,
and the assembly tumultuously dispersed; but not one of the vassals was
allowed to quit Lillebonne till after a private conference with William,
and determined as they might be when altogether, yet not a count or
baron of them all could withstand the Duke when alone with him; and it
ended in their separately engaging to do just as Fitzosborn had promised
for them; and going home to build ships from their woods, choose out the
most stalwart villains on their estates to be equipped as men-at-arms
and archers, to cause their armorers to head the cloth-yard shafts,
repair the hawberks of linked chains of steel, and the high-pointed
helmets, as yet without visors, and the face only guarded by a
projection over the nose. Every one had some hope of advantage to be
gained in England; barons expected additional fiefs, peasants intended
to become nobles, and throughout the spring preparations went on
merrily; the Duchess Matilda taking part in them, by causing a vessel to
be built for the Duke himself, on the figure-head of which was carved a
likeness of their youngest son William, blowing an ivory horn.

William, in the meantime, sought for allies in every quarter, beginning
with writing to beg the sanction of the Pope, Alexander II., as Harold’s
perjury might be considered an ecclesiastical offence.

The Saxons were then in no favor at Rome; they had refused to accept
a Norman Primate appointed by Edward; and Stigand, their chosen
Archbishop, was at present suspended by the Court of Rome, for having
obtained his office by simony: the whole Anglo-Saxon Church was reported
to be in a very bad and corrupt state, and besides, Rome had never
enjoyed the power and influence there that the Normans had permitted
her. Lanfranc, Abbot, of St. Stephens, at Caen, and one of the persons
most highly esteemed by William, was an Italian of great repute at Rome,
and thus everything conspired to make the Pope willing to favor the
attempt upon England.

He therefore returned him a Bull (a letter so called from the golden
bull, or bulla, appended to it), appointing him, as the champion of
the Church, to chastise the impious perjurer Harold, and sent him a
consecrated banner, and a gold ring containing a relic of St. Peter.

Thus sanctioned, William applied to his liege lord Philippe I. of
France, offering to pay homage for England as well as Normandy; but
Philippe, a dull, heavy, indolent man, with no love for his great
vassal, refused him any aid; and William, though he made the application
for form’s sake, was well pleased to have it so.

“If I succeed,” he said, “I shall be under the fewer obligations.”

When he requested aid from Matilda’s brother Baldwin, Count of Flanders,
the answer he received was a query, how much land in England he would
allot as a recompense. He sent, in return, a piece of blank parchment;
but others say, that instead of being an absolute blank, it contained
his signature, and was filled up by Baldwin, with the promise of a
pension of three hundred marks.

Everything was at length in readiness; nine hundred ships, or rather
large open boats, were assembled at the mouth of the Dive; lesser barks
came in continually, and counts, barons, and knights, led in their
trains of horsemen and archers.

All William’s friends were round him, and his two half-brothers, the
sons of Arlette, Robert, Count of Eu, and Odo, the warlike Bishop of
Bayeux. Matilda was to govern in his absence, and his eldest son,
Robert, a boy of thirteen, was brought forward, and received the homage
of the vassals, in order that he might be owned as heir of Normandy, in
case any mishap should befall his father on the expedition.

Nothing delayed the enterprise but adverse winds, and these prevailed so
long that the feudal army had nearly exhausted their forty days’ stock
of provisions; knight and man-at-arms murmured, and the Duke was
continually going to pray in the Church of St. Valery, looking up at the
weathercock every time he came out.

On the eve of St. Michael, the Duke’s anxious face became cheerful, for
a favorable wind had set in, and the word was given to embark. Horses
were led into the ships, the shields hung round the gunwale, and the
warriors crowded in, the Duke, in his own Mora, leading the way, the
Pope’s banner at his mast’s head, and a lantern at the stern to guide
the rest.

By morning, however, he outstripped all the fleet, and the sailor at the
mast-head could see not one; but gradually first one sail, then another,
came in sight, and by the evening of Michaelmas-day, 1066, the whole
nine hundred were bearing, down upon Pevensey.

Those adverse winds had done Willium more favor than he guessed, for
they had delayed him till Harold had been obliged to quit his post of
observation in Sussex, and go to oppose the Northmen at York, and thus
there was no one to interfere with the landing of the Normans, who
disembarked as peacefully at Pevensey as if it had been Rouen itself.

William was almost the first to leap on shore; but as he did so, his
foot slipped, and he fell. Rising, with his hands full of mud, he called
out, “Here have I taken possession of the land which by God’s help I
hope to win!” Catching his humor, one of his knights tore a handful of
thatch from a neighboring cottage, and put it into his hand, saying,
“Sir, I give you seizin of this place, and promise that I shall see you
lord of it before a month is past.”

The troops were landed first, then the horses, and lastly the
carpenters, who set up at once three wooden forts, which had been
brought in the ships prepared to be put together. After dinner, William
ordered all the ships to be burnt, to cut off all hope of return. He
continued for several days at Pevensey, exercising the troops: and
viewing the country. In one of these expeditions, he gave, what was
thought, a remarkable proof of strength; for on a hot day, as they were
mounting a steep hill, Fitzosborn grew faint and exhausted by the weight
of his ponderous iron hawberk. The Duke bade him take it off, and
putting it on over his own, climbed the hill and returned to his camp
wearing both at once.

His landing, though he saw no one, had in reality been watched by a
South-Saxon Thane, who, having counted Ins ships and seen his array,
mounted, and, without resting day or night, rode to York, where, as
Harold was dining, two days after the battle of Stamford Bridge, he
rushed into the hall, crying out, “The Normans are come! they have built
a fort at Pevensey!”

No time was to be lost, and at the dawn Harold and all his army were
marching southward, sending a summons to the thanes and franklins of
each county as he passed, to gather to the defence of the country.

His speed was too great, however, for the great mass of the people to be
able to join him, even if they had been so minded, and they were for
the most part disposed to take no part in the struggle, following the
example of the young Earls of Mercia, Edwin and Morkar, who held aloof,
unwilling alike to join Harold or the Normans.

When Harold reached London, his army was so much lessened by fatigue and
desertion, that his mother, Gytha, and his two youngest brothers, Gyrtha
and Leofwyn, advised him not to risk a battle, but to lay the country
waste before the Normans, and starve them out of England. Harold
answered, with the generous spirit that had been defaced and clouded by
his ambition, “Would you have me ruin my kingdom? By my faith, it were
treason. I will rather try the chances of a battle with such men as I
have, and trust to my own valor and the goodness of my cause.”

“Yet,” said Gyrtha, “if it be so, forbear thyself to fight. Either
willingly or under force, thou art sworn to Duke William. Thine oath
will weigh down thine arm in battle, but we, who are all unpledged,
are free to fight in defence of our realm. Thou wilt aid us if we are
defeated, avenge us if we are slain.”

Harold disregarded this advice, and was resolved to lead the host
himself; he gathered his followers from Kent and Wessex, and marched


The first night after leaving London, Harold slept at Waltham Abbey, and
had much conference with the Abbot, who was his friend, and appointed
two Monks, named Osgood and Ailric, to attend him closely in the coming

On the 12th of October, Harold found himself seven miles from the
enemy, and halted his men on Heathfield-hill, near Hastings, the most
advantageous ground he could find.

On the highest point he planted his standard bearing the figure of a
man in armor, and marshalling his Saxons round it, commanded them to
entrench themselves within a rampart and ditch, and to plant within them
a sort of poles, on the upper part of which, nearly the height of a man
from the ground, they interwove a fence of wattled branches, so that
while the front rank might pass under to man the rampart, the rear might
be sheltered from the arrows of the enemy.

These orders given, Harold and Gyrtha rode together to a hill, whence
they beheld the Norman camp, when for a moment Harold was so alarmed
at the number of their tents that he spoke of returning to London and
acting as his mother had advised; but Gyrtha showed him that it was too
late; he could not turn back from the very face of the enemy, without
being supposed to fly, and thus yielding his kingdom at once.

Three Saxons presently came to the brothers who had been seized as spies
by the Normans, and, by order of William, led throughout his camp, and
then sent away to report what they had seen. Their story was that the
Norman soldiers were all Priests, at which Harold laughed, since they
had been deceived by the short-cut locks and smooth chins of the
Normans, such as in England were only worn by ecclesiastics, warriors
always wearing flowing locks and thick moustaches.

Several messages passed between the two camps, William sending offers
of honors and wealth to Harold and Gyrtha if they would cease their
resistance; but when all were rejected, he sent another herald to defy
Harold as a perjured traitor under the ban of the Church;--a declaration
which so startled the Saxons, that it took strong efforts on the part of
the gallant Gyrtha to inspirit them to stand by his brother.

This over, William addressed his soldiers from a little hillock, and
put on his armor, hanging-round his neck, as a witness of Harold’s
falsehood, one of the relics on which the oath had been taken. He
chanced to put on his hawberk with the wrong side before, and seeing
some of his men disconcerted, fancying this a token of ill, he told them
that it boded that his dukedom should be turned to a kingdom.

His horse was a beautiful Spanish barb sent him by the King of Castile;
and so gallantly did he ride, that there was a shout of delight from his
men, and a cry, “Never was such a Knight under Heaven! A fair Count he
is, and a fair king he will be! Shame on him who fails him!”

William held in his hand the Pope’s banner, and called for the
standard-bearer of Normandy; but no one liked to take the charge,
fearful of being hindered from gaining distinction by feats of personal
prowess. Each elder knight of fame begged to be excused, and at last
it was committed to Tunstan the White, a young man probably so called
because he had yet to win an achievement for his spotless shield.

The army was in three troops, each drawn up in the form of a wedge, the
archers forming the point; and the reserve of horse was committed to
Bishop Odo, who rode up and down among the men, a hawberk over his
rochet and a club in his hand.

On went the Normans in the light of the rising sun of the 13th of
October, Taillefer, a minstrel-knight, riding first, playing on his harp
and singing the war-song of Roland the Paladin. At seven o’clock they
were before the Saxon camp, and Fitzosborn and the body under his
command dashed up the hill, under a cloud of arrows, shouting, “Notre
Dame! Dieu aide!” while the Saxons within, crying out, “Holy Rood!” cut
down with their battle-axes all who gained the rampart, and at length
drove them back again.

A second onset was equally unsuccessful, and William, observing that the
wattled fence protected the Saxons from the arrows, ordered the archers
to shoot their arrows no longer point blank, but into the sky, so that
they might fall on the heads of the Saxons. Thus directed, these shafts
harassed the defenders grievously; and Harold himself was pierced in the
left eye, and almost disabled from further exertion in the command.

Yet at noon, the Normans had been baffled at every quarter, and William,
growing desperate, led a party to attack the entrance of the camp. Again
he was repulsed, and driven back on some rough ground, where many horses
fell, and among them his own Spanish charger. A cry arose that the Duke
was slain; the Normans fled, the Saxons broke out of their camp in
pursuit, when William, throwing off his helmet and striking with his
lance, recalled his troops, shouting, “Look at me! I live, and by Gods
grace I will conquer.” All the Saxons who had left the camp were slain,
their short battle-axes being unfit to cope with the heavy swords and
long lances of their enemies; and taught by this success, William caused
some of his troops to feign a flight, draw them beyond the rampart, turn
on them, and cut them down. The manoeuvre was repeated at different parts
of the camp till the rampart was stripped of defenders, and the
Normans forced their way into it, cut down the wattled fence, and gave
admittance to the host of horse and foot who rushed over the outworks.

Yet still the standard floated in the midst of a brave band who--

  “Though thick the shafts as snow.
  Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
  Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
  Still fought around their King.”

All who came near that close-serried ring of steadfast Saxon strength
were cut down, and the piles of dead Normans round them were becoming
ramparts, when twenty knights bound themselves by an oath that the
standard should be taken, spurred their horses against the ranks, and by
main force, with the loss of ten of their number, forced an opening. Ere
the ranks could close, William and his whole force were charging into
the gap made for a moment, trampling down the brave men, slaughtering on
all sides, yet still unable to break through to the standard.

  “Till utter darkness closed her wing
  O’er their thin host and wounded King.”

Man by man the noble Saxons were hewn down as the Normans cut their way
through them, no more able to drive them back than if they had been the
trees of the forest. Gyrtha, the true-hearted and noble, fell under the
sword of a Norman knight, Leofwyn lay near him in his blood, yet still
Harold’s voice was heard cheering on his men, and still his standard
streamed above their heads.

At sunset, that well-known voice was no longer heard, and the setting
sun beheld Tunstan the White perform the crowning achievement of the
day, uproot the standard banner of Normandy that the morning beams had
seen committed to his charge. Not an earl or thane of Wessex was living;
and heaps of slain lay thick on Heathfield hill, and the valley round a
very lake of blood. Senlac, or Sanglac, was its old name, and sounded
but too appropriate to the French ears of the Conqueror, as, in a moment
of sorrow for the fearful loss of life he beheld, he vowed that here
should stand an Abbey where prayer should be made for pardon for his
sins and for the repose of the souls of the slaughtered. Darkness came
on; but the Saxons, retreating under its cover, were still so undaunted
that the Normans could hardly venture to move about the field except in
considerable parties, and Eustace of Boulogne, while speaking to the
Duke, was felled to the earth by a sudden blow.

In the morning, Gytha, the widow of Godwin, who had lost four children
by the perjury and ambition of one of them, came to entreat permission
to bury. Gyrtha and Leofwyn lay near together at the foot of the banner.
Harold was sought in vain, till Edith of the Swan neck, a lady he had
loved, was brought to help in the melancholy quest.

She declared a defaced and mangled corpse to be that of Harold, and it
was carried, with those of the two brothers, to the Abbey of Waltham,
where it was placed beneath a stone bearing the two sorrowful words,
“Infelix Harold.”

Years passed on, and the people had long become accustomed to the Norman
yoke, when there was much talk among them of a hermit, who dwelt in a
cell not far from the town, in the utmost penitence and humility. He was
seldom seen, his face was deeply scarred, and he had lost his left eye,
and nothing was known of his name or history; but he was deeply revered
for his sanctity, and when Henry Beauclerc once visited Chester, he
sought a private interview with the mysterious penitent.

It is said, that when the hermit lay on his death-bed, he owned himself
to be Harold, son of Godwin, once King of England for seven months. He
had been borne from the bloody hill, between life and death, in the
darkness of the evening, by the two faithful monks, Osgood and Ailric,
and tended in secret till he recovered from his wounds.

Since that time he had been living in penitence and contrition, unknown
to and apart from the world, and died at length, trusting that his forty
years’ repentance might be accepted.

If this tale be true, what a warning might not he have bestowed on
the young prince Henry, destined to run a like course of perjury and
ambition, and to feel it turn back upon him in the dreariness of
desolate old age, when “he never smiled again.” Had not the penitent
Harold more peace at the last than the king Henry?

The same story is told of almost every king missed in a lost battle.

Arthur, borne away to die at Avalon, and believed to be among the
fairies; Rodrigo, the last of the Goths, whose steed Orelio and horned
helmet lay on the banks of the river, and whose name was found centuries
after on a rude gravestone, near a hermitage; James IV., whom the Scots
by turns hoped to see return from pilgrimage, and pitied as they looked
at Lord Home’s border tower; the gallant Don Sebastian, the last of the
glorious race of Portuguese Kings, never seen after his shout of “Let
us die!” in the tumult of Alcaçer, yet long looked for by his loving
people--of each in turn the belief has arisen among the subjects who
clung to the hope of seeing the beloved prince, and dwelt on the
doubt whether his corpse was identified. In the cases of Harold and
Rodrigo--generous men tempted into fearful and ruinous crimes--one would
hope the tale was true, and that the time for repentance was vouchsafed
to them; nor are their stories entirely without authority.

Harold had three young children, who wandered about under the care of
their grandmother, Gytha, at one time finding a shelter in the Holms,
those two islets in the British Channel, at another taking refuge in
Ireland, whence they at length escaped to Norway, and the daughter
married one of the Kings of Novgorod, the beginning of the Empire of
Russia. Ulfnoth, the only remaining son of the bold Godwinsons, was the
hostage that Edward the Confessor had placed in the hands of the Duke of
Normandy; he was seized upon once more by William Rufus, and remained in
captivity till his death. The Conqueror kept his vow, and erected the
splendid Battle Abbey on the field that gave him a kingdom. The high
altar stood where Harold’s banner had been planted, and the enclosures
surrounded every spot where the conflict had raged.

They were measured out by the corpses of Normans and Saxons. The
Battle-roll, a list of every Norman who had borne arms there, was lodged
in the keeping of the Abbot, and contains the names of many a good old
English family which has held the same land generation after generation,
English now, though then called the Norman spoiler, but it is to be
feared, that the roll was much tampered with to gratify family vanity.
Battle Abbey was one of the greatest and richest foundations. The Abbot
was a friar, and, according to the unfortunate habit of exempting
monasteries from the Bishop’s jurisdiction, was subject to no government
but the Pope’s; and this led to frequent disputes between the Abbot and
the see of Winchester.

It was overthrown in the Reformation, and is now a mere ruin; but its
beautiful arches still remain to show that, better than any other
conqueror, William knew how to honor a battle-field. There is but one
other Battle Abbey in the world--Batalha in Portugal--which covers the
plain of Aljubarota, where Joao I. won his kingdom from Castile; and as
his wife was a daughter of John of Gaunt, a most noble and high-minded
princess, it is most probable that she suggested the work after the
example of her great ancestor; nay, when the visitor enters the nave,
and is reminded by the architecture of Winchester, it seems as if
Philippa of Lancaster might have both proposed the foundation, and
sent to England for the plan, to the Architect and Bishop, William of

Nor is Battle Abbey the only remaining monument of Hastings. Matilda’s
own handiwork prepared her thank offering of tapestry, recording her
husband’s victory; and this work, done as it was for a gift to Heaven,
not a vainglorious record, still endures in the very cathedral to which
she gave it, one of the choicest historical witnesses that have come
down to our times. We might be apt to regret that she did not present
her work to Battle Abbey, where it would have been most appropriate;
but as the Puritans would most likely have called it a Popish vestment
savoring of idolatry, we are consoled by thinking it probably owes its
preservation to her having chosen to give it as a hanging on festival
days to the Cathedral at Bayeux, the see of her husband’s half-brother,
Odo, who shared in all the toils and dangers of the expedition, and
whom she has taken especial care to represent for the benefit of the
townspeople of Bayeux; for wherever we find his broad face, large
person, shaven crown, and the chequered red and green suit by which she
expressed his wadded garment, his name is always found in large letters;
and he is evidently in his full glory when we find him, club in hand,
at the beginning of the battle, and these words worked round him: _Odo
Eps._ (episcopus) _baculum tenens, confortat pueros_. He was one of
the bad, warlike Bishops of those irregular times, and brought many
disasters on himself by his turbulence and haughtiness.

Matilda’s tapestry is a long narrow strip, little more than half a
yard in breadth. It begins with Harold’s journey to Normandy, and ends
unfinished in the midst of the battle; and most curious it is. The
drawing is of course rude, and the coloring very droll, the horses being
red and green, or blue, and, invariably, the off-leg of a different
color from the other three, while the ways in which both horses and men
fall at Hastings make the scene very diverting.

Her castles, houses, and more especially Westminster Abbey, are of all
the colors in the rainbow, and much smaller than the persons entering
them, and yet in every figure there is spirit, in every face expression,
and throughout, William, Harold, and Odo, bear countenances which are
not to be mistaken. Harold has moustaches, which none of the Normans
wore. There we find Harold taking his extorted oath; the death of King
Edward, the Saxons gazing with horror at the three-tailed comet; the
ship-building of yellow, green, and red boards, cut out of trees
with most ludicrous foliage; the moon just as it is described; the
disembarkation, where a bare-legged mariner wades out, anchor in hand;
the very comical foraging party; the repast upon landing, where Odo is
saying grace with two fingers raised in benediction, while the meat is
served on shields, and fowls carried round spitted upon arrows. Then
follows the battle, where William is seen raising his helmet by its
nose-guard, and looking exceedingly fierce as he rallies his men; where
horses and men tumble head over heels, and where, finally, Matilda broke
off with a pattern of hawberks traced out, and no heads or legs put
to them. What stayed her hand? Was it her grief at the conduct of her
first-born that took from her all heart to proceed with her memorial,
or was it only the hand of death that closed her toil, her womanly
record of her husband’s achievements?

The border must not be forgotten. It is a narrow edge above and below.
At first it is worked with subjects from Phaedrus’s fables (on having
translated which was rested the fame of Henry’s scholarship), and very
cleverly are they chosen; for, as if in comment on Harold’s visit to
Rouen, we find in near neighborhood the stork with her head in the
wolf’s mouth, and the crow letting fall her cheese into the fox’s jaws.

Matilda did not upbraid the Normans by working the Parliament of
Lillebonne, but she or her designer surely had it in mind when a herd of
frightened beasts was drawn, an ape in front of them making an oration
to what may be a lion, as it is much bigger than the rest; but as
Matilda never saw a lion, the likeness is not remarkable.

Further on are representations of agriculture, sowing, reaping, &c.
Wherever there is a voyage, fishes swim above and below, and in the
battle there is a border plentiful in dead men.

The Bayeux tapestry--the “Toile de St. Jean,” as it is there called,
from the feast-day when the cathedral was hung with it--remained unknown
and forgotten, till it was brought to light by one of the last people
that could have been expected--Napoleon. He was then full of his plan
for invading England, and called general attention to the toile de St.
Jean, to bring to mind the Norman Invasion, and show that England had
once been conquered.

So she had, but he had to deal with the sons of both victors, and of
those who were slain. Now vanquished, Norman and Saxon were one, and by
the great mercy of Heaven upon their offspring, the English, not one
battle has been fought, since Hastings, with a Continental foe upon
English ground.

May that mercy be still vouchsafed us!


  _King of England_.
   1066. William I.

In the fen country of Lincolnshire, there lived, in the reign of Edward
the Confessor, a wealthy Saxon franklin named Leofric, Lord of Bourn.
He was related to the great Earls of Mercia, and his brother Brand was
Abbot of Peterborough, so that he, and his wife Ediva, were persons of
consideration in their own neighborhood. They had a son named Hereward,
and called, for some unknown, reason, Le Wake, a youth of great height
and personal strength, and of so fierce and violent a disposition, that
he disturbed the peace of the neighborhood to such a degree that he was
banished from the realm. His high spirit found fit occupation in the
armies of foreign princes: and pilgrims and minstrels brought home such
reports of his prowess, that the people of Bourn no longer regarded him
as a turbulent young scapegrace, but considered him as their pride and

After a brilliant career abroad, Hereward married a Flemish lady, and
was settled on her estates when the tidings reached him that his father
was dead, and that his aged mother had been despoiled of her property,
and cruelly treated, by a Norman to whom William the Conqueror
had presented the estate of Bourn. No sooner did he receive this
intelligence, than he set off with his wife, and, arriving in
Lincolnshire, communicated in secret with his old friends at Bourn,
collected a small band, attacked the Norman, drove him away, and
re-instated Ediva in his paternal home.

But this exploit only exposed him to further perils. Normans were in
possession of every castle around; his cousins, the young Earls Edwin
find Morkar, had submitted to the Conqueror; Edwin was betrothed to
Agatha, William’s daughter; and their sister Lucy was married to an
Angevin named Ivo Taillebois bringing him a portion of their lands, in
right of which he called himself Viscount of Spalding. Their submission
had availed them little; they, as well as Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon
(son of Siward, and husband of the Conqueror’s niece, Judith), were
feeling that a hand of iron was over them, and regretting every day
that he had not made common cause against the enemy before he had
fully established his power. Selfishness, jealousy, and wavering, had
overthrown and ruined the Saxons. Each had sought to secure his own
lands and life, careless of his neighbors. No one had the spirit of
Frithric, Abbot of St. Alban’s, who blocked up the Conqueror’s march
with trunks of trees, and when asked by William why he had injured his
woods for the sake of making an unavailing resistance, replied, “I
did my duty. If every one had done as much, you would not be here.”
 According to their own tradition, the men of Kent, coming forward, each
carrying a branch of a tree, so that they advanced unperceived, “a
moving wood,” so encumbered William’s passage that he could not proceed
till he had taken an oath to respect their privileges. London, too,
preserved its rights, owing to the management of a burgess, called
Ansgard, who conducted the treaty with the Normans and would not admit
them into the city till its liberties were secured.

William himself was anxious to be regarded not as a conqueror, but as
reigning by inheritence from the Confessor. For this cause, when Matilda
was crowned, he caused a Norman baron, Marmion of Fontenaye, to ride
into the midst of Westminster Hall, and, throwing down his gauntlet,
defy any man to single combat who denied the rights of William and
Matilda. He himself took the old coronation oath drawn up by St.
Dunstan, and pledged himself to execute justice according to the old
laws of Alfred and Edward.

But William, whatever might be his own good intentions, was pressed by
circumstances. He had lured his Normans across the channel with hopes of
rich plunder in England, and knight and squire, man-at-arms and archer,
were eager for their reward. Norman, Breton, Angevin, clamored for
possession: families of peasants crossed the sea, expecting, in right
of their French tongue, to be gentry at once, and lords of the churl
Saxons; while the Saxons, fully conscious of their own nobility, and
possessors of the soil for five hundred years, derided them in such
rhymes as these:

  “William de Coningsby
  Came out of Brittany
  With his wife Tiffany,
  And his maid Manfas,
  And his dog Hardigras.”

But the laugh proved to be on the side of the new comers, and the Saxon,
whether Earl, Thane, Franklin, or Ceorl, though he could trace his line
up to Odin, and had held his land since Hengist first won Thanet, must
give place to Hardigras and his master. And though our sympathies are
all with the dispossessed Saxons, and the Normans appear as needy and
rapacious spoilers, there is no cause for us to lament their coming.
Without the Norman aristocracy, and the high spirit of chivalry and
adventure thus infused, England could scarcely have attained her
greatness; for, though many great men had existed among the unmixed
Anglo-Saxon race, they had never been able to rouse the nation from the
heavy, dull, stolid sensuality into which, to this day, an uncultivated
Englishman is liable to fall.

One Norman, the gallant Gilbert Fitz-Richard, deserves to be remembered
as an exception to the grasping temper of his countrymen. He would
accept neither gold nor lands for the services he had rendered at
Hastings. He said he had come in obedience to the summons of his feudal
chief, and not for spoil, and, now his term of service was at an end, he
would go back to his own inheritance, with which he was content, without
the plunder of the widow and orphan.

For it was thus that William first strove to satisfy his followers.
Every rich Saxon widow or heiress who could be found was compelled
to marry a Norman baron or knight; but when there proved to be not a
sufficiency of these unfortunate ladies, he was obliged to find other
pretexts less apparently honorable. Every noble who had fought in the
cause of Harold was declared a traitor, and his lands adjudged to be
forfeited, and this filled the Earldoms of Wessex and Sussex with great
numbers of Normans, who counted their wealth at so many Englishmen
apiece, and made no scruple of putting their own immediate followers
into the manors whence they thrust the ancient owners. As to the great
nobles, they were treated so harshly that they were all longing, if
possible, to throw off the yoke, and make the stand which they should
have made a year ago, when William had won nothing but the single,
hard-fought battle of Hastings.

Some of the Norman adventurers took great state on them, all the more,
probably, because they had been nobodies in their own country. One of
the most haughty of all was the Spalding Viscount, Ivo, whose surname of
Taillebois seems to betray somewhat of his origin in Anjou. He was
noted for his pompous language and insolent bearing; he insisted on his
vassals kneeling on one knee when they addressed him, and he and his
men-at-arms took every opportunity of tormenting the Saxons. He set
his dogs at their flocks, lamed or drowned their cattle, killed their
poultry, and, above all, harassed a few brethren of the Abbey of
Croyland, who inhabited a grange not far from Spalding, to such a
degree, that he obliged them at last to retreat to the Abbey, and then
filled the house with monks from Anjou; and though the Abbot Ingulf was
William’s secretary, he could obtain no redress.

Such a neighbor as this was not likely to allow the re-instated Ediva to
remain at Bourn in peace, and Hereward found that he must continue in
arms, for her protection and his own. He placed his wife, Torfrida, in
a convent, and, collecting his friends around him, kept up a constant
warfare with the Normans, until at length he succeeded in fortifying the
Isle of Ely, and establishing there what he called the Camp of Refuge,
as it gave shelter to any Saxon who had suffered from the violence of
the Normans, or would not adopt the new habits they tried to enforce.

The weak, helpless, and aged, were sheltered by the monastery and its
buildings; the strong, enrolled in Hereward’s gallant band. Some of them
were of higher rank than himself, and in order that he might be on a par
with them, as well as with his Norman enemies, he sought the order of
knighthood from his uncle, Abbot Brand.

The Normans in general were knighted by lay nobles, and though their
prince, William Rufus, received the order from Lanfranc, they would not
acknowledge Hereward as a knight, though they could not help respecting
his truth, honor, and courage; and it was a common saying among them,
that if there had been only four men like him in England, they should
never have gained a footing there. No wonder, when he never hesitated to
fight singly with seven Normans at once, and each of his five
principal followers was a match for three. They were Ibe Winter, his
brother-in-arms; Eghelric, his cousin; Ital; Alfric; and Sexwald.

Many fugitives of high rank did Hereward receive in his Camp of Refuge.
He had nearly been honored by the presence of his hereditary sovereign,
Edgar the Etheling, but the plan failed. He did, however, shelter his
two cousins, Morkar and Edwin. They had suffered much from the insolence
of the Normans, and experienced the futility of the promises in which
they had trusted, until at length they had been driven to join a rising
in the North. It had been quickly suppressed, and the worst of all the
cruelties of the Normans had avenged it, while the two earls, now become
outlaws, fled to the Camp of Refuge. Thence Edwin was sent on a mission
to Scotland, but on the way he was attacked by a party of his enemies
and slain, after a gallant resistance. He was the handsomest man of his
time, and his betrothed, Agatha, was devotedly attached to him; it is
even said that the stern William himself wept when the bloody head of
his daughter’s lover was presented to him. A curious gold ornament
has been of late years found in the field where Edwin was killed, and
antiquaries allow us to imagine that it might have been a love-token
from the Norman princess to the Saxon earl.

Another fugitive in Hereward’s camp was the high-spirited Abbot
Frithric, whose steady opposition to the illegal encroachments of the
Normans had given great offence to William. Once Frithric had combined
with other influential ecclesiastics to require of the Conqueror another
oath to abide by the old English laws, and thus brought on himself an
accusation of rebellion and sentence of banishment. He assembled his
monks, and told them the time was come when, according to the words of
Holy Scripture, they must flee from city to city, bade them, farewell,
and, taking nothing with him but a few books, safely reached the Camp of
Refuge, where he soon after died.

Thorold, the new Norman Abbot of Malmesbury, kept a body of archers in
his pay, and whenever his monks resisted any of his improper measures,
he used to call out, “Here, my men-at-arms!” At length the Conqueror
heard of his proceedings. “I’ll find him his match!” cried William. “I
will send him to Peterborough, ‘where Hereward will give him as much
fighting as he likes.”

To Peterborough, then, Thorold was appointed on the death of Hereward’s
uncle, Abbot Brand, while the poor monks of Malmesbury received for
their new superior a certain Guerin de Lire, who disinterred and threw
away the bones of his Saxon predecessors, and took all the treasure in
the coffers of the convent, in order that he might display his riches in
the eyes of those who had seen him poor.

Yet all the Norman clergy were not such as these, and never should be
forgotten the beautiful answer of Guimond, a monk of St. Leufroi, such
a priest as Fitz-Richard was a knight. William had summoned him to
England, and he came without delay; but when he was told it was for the
purpose of raising him to high dignity, he spoke thus: “Many causes
forbid me to seek dignity and power; I will not mention all. I will only
say that I see not how I could ever properly be the head of men whose
manners and language I do not understand, and whose fathers, brothers,
and friends, have been slain by your sword, disinherited, exiled,
imprisoned, or harshly enslaved by you. Search the Holy Scriptures
whether any law permits that the shepherd should be forced on the flock
by their enemy. Can you divide what you have won by war and bloodshed,
with one who has laid aside his own goods for the sake of Christ? All
priests are forbidden to meddle with rapine, or to take any share of the
prey, even as an offering at the altar; for, as the Scriptures say,
‘He that bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor, is as one
that slayeth the son before the father’s eyes.’ When I remember these
commands of God, I am filled with terror; I look on England as one great
prey, and dread to touch it or its treasures, as I should a red-hot

Guimond then returned to Normandy, uninjured by the Conqueror, who,
with all his faults, never took offence at such rebukes; but the
worldly-minded clergy were excessively affronted at his censure of their
rapacity, and raised such a persecution against him that he was obliged
to take refuge in Italy.

As soon as the news arrived at the Camp of Refuge that the warlike
Thorold had been appointed to Peterborough, Hereward and his hand
hastened to the Abbey, and, probably with the consent of the Saxon
monks, carried off all the treasures into the midst of the fens.
Thorold, with one hundred and sixty men-at-arms, soon made his
appearance, was installed as Abbot, and quickly made friends with his
Norman neighbor, Ivo Taillebois.

They agreed to make an expedition against the robber Saxons, and united
their forces, but Thorold appears to have been not quite as willing to
face Hereward as to threaten his monks, and let Ivo advance into the
midst of an extensive wood of alders, while he remained in the rear with
some other Normans of distinction. Ivo sought through the whole wood
without meeting a Saxon, and returning to the spot where he had left
the Abbot, found no one there, for Hereward had quitted the wood on the
opposite side, made a circuit, and falling suddenly on Thorold and his
party, carried them off to the fens, and kept them there till they had
paid a heavy ransom.

In 1072, the fifth year of the Camp of Refuge, it had assumed so
formidable an aspect, that William thought it necessary to take vigorous
measures against it, more especially as there had been lately a
commencement of correspondence with the Danes. The difficulty was to
reach it, for the treacherous ground of the fens afforded no firm
footing for an army; there was not water enough for boats, no station
for archers, no space for a charge of the ponderous knights, amongst the
reedy pools. William decided on constructing a causeway, and employed
workmen to cut trenches to drain off the water, and raise the bank of
stones and turf, under the superintendence of Ivo Taillebois. However,
Hereward was on the alert, harassing them perpetually, breaking on
them sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, in such strange,
unexpected ways, that at last the viscount came to the conclusion that
he must have magic arts to aid him, and persuaded the king to let him
send for a witch to work against him by counter spells. Accordingly, she
was installed in a wooden tower raised at the end of the part of the
causeway which was completed, and the workmen were beginning to advance
boldly under her protection, when suddenly smoke and flame came driving
upon them. Hereward had set fire to the dry reeds, and, spreading
quickly, the flame cut off their retreat, and the unhappy woman
perished, with many of the Normans.

Again and again were the Norman attacks disconcerted, and all that
they could attempt was a blockade, which lasted many months, and might
probably have been sustained many more by the hardy warriors, if some of
the monks of Ely, growing weary of the privations they endured, had not
gone in secret to the king, and offered to show him a way across the
Marches, on condition that the wealth of the Abbey was secured.

Accordingly, a band of Normans crossed the fens, took the Saxons by
surprise, killed a thousand men, and forced the camp. Hereward and his
five comrades still fought on, crossed bogs where the enemy did not dare
to follow them, and at length escaped into the low lands of Lincoln,
where they met with some Saxon fishermen, who were in the habit of
supplying a Norman station of soldiers. These Saxons willingly received
the warriors into their boats, and hid them under heaps of straw, while
they carried their fish as usual to the Normans. While the Normans were
in full security, Hereward and his men suddenly attacked them, killed
some, put the rest to flight, and seized their horses.

Collecting others of his scattered followers, Hereward kept up his
warfare from his own house at Bourn, continually harassing the Normans,
until at length he took prisoner his old enemy, Ivo Taillebois, and,
as the price of his liberty, required him to make his peace with the
Conqueror. This was good news to William, who highly esteemed his valor
and constancy, and could accuse him of no breach of faith, since he had
made no engagements to him. Hereward was therefore received as a subject
of King William, retained his own estate, and died there at a good old
age, respected by both Saxons and Normans.

There is, indeed, an old Norman-French poem, that declares it was for
the love of a noble Saxon lady, named Alftrude, that Hereward ceased to
struggle with the victors. According to this story, Alftrude, an heiress
of great wealth, was so charmed by the report of Hereward’s fame, that
she offered him her hand, and persuaded him to make peace with William.
It is further said, that one afternoon, as he lay asleep under a tree,
a band of armed men, among whom were several Bretons, surrounded and
murdered him, though not till he had slain fifteen of them.

But this story is not likely to be true, since we know that Hereward
was already married, and the testimony of more than one ancient English
chronicler declares that he spent his latter years in peace and honor.
He was the only one of the Saxon chieftains who thus closed his days in
his native home--the only one who had not sought to preserve his own
possessions at the expense of his country, and who had broken no oaths
nor engagements. His exploits are told in old ballads and half-romantic
histories, and it is not safe to believe them implicitly, but his
existence and his gallant resistance are certain.

Many years after, the remains of a wooden fort, the citadel, so to
speak of the Camp of Refuge, still existed in the Isle of Ely, and was
called by the peasantry Hereward’s Castle. The treacherous monks of Ely
were well punished by having forty men-at-arms quartered on their Abbey.

Of the captives taken in the camp, many were most cruelly treated, their
eyes put out, and their hands cut off; others were imprisoned, and many
slain. Morkar, who was here taken, spent the rest of his life in
the same captivity as Ulfnoth, Stigand, and many other Saxons of
distinction, with the one gleam of hope when liberated at William’s
death, and then the bitter disappointment of renewed seizure and
captivity. If it could be any consolation to them, these Saxons were not
William’s only captives. Bishop Odo, of Bayeux, whom William had made
Earl of Kent, after giving a great deal of trouble to his brother the
king, and to Archbishop Lanfranc, by his avarice and violence, heard a
prediction that the next Pope should be named Odo, and set off to try
to bring about its fulfilment in his own person, carrying with him an
immense quantity of ill-gotten treasure, and a large number of troops,
commanded by Hugh the Wolf, Earl of Chester.

However, Odo had reckoned without King William, and he had but just set
sail, when William, setting off from Normandy, met him in the Channel,
took his ships, and making him land in the Isle of Wight, and convoking
an assembly of knights, declared his offences, and asked them what such
a brother deserved.

Between fear of the king and fear of the Bishop, no one ventured to
answer, upon which William sentenced him to imprisonment; and when he
declared that no one but the Pope had a right to judge him, answered, “I
do not try you, the Bishop of Bayeux, but the Earl of Kent,” and sent
him closely guarded to Normandy.

Another Norman state-prisoner was Roger Fitzosborn, the son of William’s
early friend, who had died soon after the Conquest. Roger’s offence was
the bestowing his sister Emma in marriage without the consent of the
king, and in addition, much seditious language was used at the wedding
banquet, where, unhappily, was present Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon, the
last Saxon noble.

Roger, finding himself in danger, broke out into open rebellion, but was
soon made prisoner. Still the king would have pardoned him for the
sake of his father, whom William seems to have regarded with much more
affection that he be stowed on any one else, and, as a mark of kindness,
sent him a costly robe. The proud and passionate Roger, disdaining the
gift, kindled a fire, and burnt the garment on the dungeon floor; and
William, deeply affronted, swore in return that he should never pass the
threshold of his prison.

Waltheof, who was innocent of all save being present at the unfortunate
feast, might have been spared but for the wickedness of his wife,
Judith, William’s niece, who had been married to him when it was her
uncle’s policy to conciliate the Saxons. She hated and despised the
Saxon churl given her for a lord, kind, generous, and pious though he
was; and having set her affections on a young Norman, herself became the
accuser of her husband. Waltheof succeeded in disproving the calumnies,
and the best and wisest Normans spoke in his favor; but the spite of Ivo
Taillebois, and the hatred of his wife, prevailed, and he was sentenced
to die.

He was executed at Winchester, where, lest the inhabitants should
attempt a rescue, he was led out, early in the morning, to St. Giles’s
hill, outside the walls. He wore the robes of an earl, and gave them to
the priests who attended him, and to the poor people who followed him.
When he came to the spot he knelt down to pray, begging the soldiers to
wait till he had said the Lord’s Prayer; but he had only come to “Lead
us not into temptation,” when one of them severed his head from his body
with one blow of a sword.

His body was hastily thrown into a hole; but the Saxons, who loved him
greatly, disinterred it in secret, and contrived to carry it all the way
to Croyland, where it was buried with due honors, and we may think of
Hereward le Wake attending the funeral of the son of the stalwart old
Siward Biorn.

As to the perfidious Judith, she reaped the reward of her crimes; she
was not permitted to marry her Norman lover, and he was stripped of all
the wealth she expected as the widow of Waltbeof. This was secured to
her infant daughter, and was so considerable, that at one time William
thought the little Matilda of Huntingdon a fit match for his son Robert;
but Robert despised the Saxon blood, and made this project an excuse for
one of his rebellions. Matilda was, however, a royal bride, since her
hand was given to David I. of Scotland, the representative of the old
race of Cerdic, and a most excellent prince, with whom she was much
happier than she could well have: been with the unstable Robert


  _Kings of England_.
   1066. William I.
   1087. William II.

The last saint of the Anglo-Saxon Church, the Bishop who lived from the
days of Edward the Confessor, to the evil times of the Red King, was
Wulstan of Worcester, a homely old man, of plain English character, and
of great piety. The quiet, even tenor of his life is truly like a “soft
green isle” in the midst of the turbulent storms and tempests of the
Norman Conquest.

Wulstan was born at Long Itchington, a village in Warwickshire, in the
time of Ethelred the Unready. He was the son of the Thane Athelstan, and
was educated in the monasteries of Evesham and Peterborough. When he had
been trained in such learning as these could afford, he came home for
a few years, and entered into the sports and occupations of the noble
youths of the time, without parting with the piety and purity of his
conventual life, and steadily resisting temptation.

His parents were grown old, and having become impoverished, perhaps by
the exactions perpetrated either by the Danes, or to bribe them away,
retired from the world, and entered convents at Worcester. Wulstan,
wishing to devote himself to the Church, sought the service of the
Bishop, who ordained him to the priesthood.

He lived, though a secular priest, with monastic strictness, and in time
obtained permission from the Bishop to become a monk in the convent,
where he continued for twenty-five years, and at length became Prior of
the Convent. The Prior was the person next in office to the Abbot, and
governed the monastery in his absence; and in some religious orders,
where there was no Abbot, the Prior was the superior.

Wulstan’s habits in the convent show us what the devotional life of
that time was. Each day he bent the knee at each verse of the seven
Penitential Psalms, and the same at the 119th Psalm at night. He would
lock himself into the church, and pray aloud with tears and cries, and
at night he would often retire into some solitary spot, the graveyard,
or lonely village church, to pray and meditate. His bed was the church
floor, or a narrow board, and stern were his habits of fasting and
mortification; but all the time he was full of activity in the cause of
the poor, and, finishing his devotions early in the morning, gave up the
whole day to attend to the common people, sitting at the church door to
listen to, and redress, as far as in him lay, the grievances that they
brought him--at any rate, to console and advise. The rude, secular
country clergy, at that time, it may be feared, a corrupt, untaught
race, had in great measure ceased to instruct or exhort their flocks,
and even refund baptism without payment. He did his best to remedy these
abuses, and from all parts of the country children were brought to
the good Prior for baptism. Every Sunday, too, he preached, and the
Worcestershire people flocked from all sides to hear his plain, forcible
language, though he never failed to rebuke them sharply for their most
prevalent sins.

The fame of the holy Prior of Worcester began to spread, and on one
occasion Earl Harold himself came thirty miles out of his way to confess
his sins to him and desire his prayers.

About the year 1062, two Roman Cardinals came to Worcester with Aldred,
who had just been translated from that see to the Archbishopric of
York. They spent the whole of Lent in Wulstan’s monastery; and when,
at Easter, they returned to the court of Edward the Confessor, they
recommended him for the Bishop to succeed Aldred; and Aldred himself,
Archbishop Stigand, and Harold, all concurred in the same advice. The
people and clergy of Worcester with one voice chose the good Prior
Wulstan; his election was confirmed by the king, and he received the
appointment. He long struggled against it, protesting that he would
rather lose his head than be made a Bishop; but he was persuaded at last
by an old hermit, who rebuked him for his resistance as for a sin. He
received the pastoral staff from King Edward, and was consecrated by his
former Bishop, Aldred.

As a Bishop he was more active than ever, constantly riding from place
to place to visit the different towns and villages; and, as he went,
repeating the Psalms and Litany, his attendant priests making the
responses; while his chamberlain carried a purse, from which every one
who asked alms was sure to be supplied. He never passed a church without
praying in it, and never reached his resting-place for the night without
paying his first visit to the church. Wherever he went, crowds of every
rank poured out to meet him, and he never sent them away without the
full Church service, and a sermon; nay, more--each poor serf might come
to him, pour out his troubles, whether temporal, or whether his heart
had been touched by the good words he had heard. Above all, Wulstan
delighted in giving his blessing in Confirmation, and would go on from
morning till night without food, till all his clergy were worn out,
though he seemed to know no weariness.

His clergy seem to have had much of the sluggishness of the Saxon, and
were often impatient of a temper, both of devotion and energy, so much
beyond them. If one was absent from the night service, the Bishop would
take no notice till it was over; but when all the others were gone back
to bed, he would wake the defaulter, and make him go through the service
with no companion but himself, making the responses. They did not like
him to put them out, as he often did on their journeys, while going
through the Psalms, by dwelling on the “prayer-verses;” and most
especially did they dislike his leading them to church, whatever season
or weather it might be, to chant matins before it was light. Once, at
Marlow, when it was a long way to church, very muddy, and with a cold
rain falling, one of his clergy, in hopes of making him turn back, led
him into the worst part of the swamp, where he sunk up to his knees in
mud, and lost his shoe; but he took no notice until, after the service
was over, he had returned to his lodgings, half dead with cold, and
then, instead of expressing any anger, he only ordered search to be made
for the shoe.

Wulstan took no part in what we should call politics; he thought it his
duty to render his submission to the King whom the people had chosen,
and to strive only to amend the life of the men of the country. He was
in high favor with Harold during his short reign, and was for some time
at court, where the fine Saxon gentlemen learnt to dread the neighborhood
of the old Bishop; for Wulstan considered their luxury as worthy of blame,
and especially attacked their long flowing hair. If any of them placed
their heads within, his reach, he would crop off “the first-fruits of
their curls” with his own little knife, enjoining them to have the rest
cut off; and yet, if Wulstan saw the children of the choir with their
dress disordered, he would smooth it with his own hands, and when told
the condescension did not become a Bishop, made answer, “He that is
greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Aldred, Wulstan’s former Bishop, now Archbishop of York, was the
anointer of both Harold and William the Conqueror. He kept fair with the
Normans as long as he could, but at last, driven to extremity by the
miseries they inflicted on his unhappy diocese, he went to William
arrayed in his full episcopal robes, solemnly revoked his coronation
blessing, denounced a curse on him and his race, and then, returning to
York, there died of grief.

Eghelwin, Bishop of Durham, gave good advice to Comyn, the Norman Earl,
but it was unheeded, and the townsmen rose in the night and burnt Comyn
to death, with all his followers, as they lay overcome with wine and
sleep in the plundered houses. The rising of the northern counties
followed, and Eghelwin was so far involved in it, that he was obliged to
fly. He took shelter in the Camp of Refuge, was made prisoner when
it was betrayed, and spent the rest of his life in one of William’s

Our good Wulstan had a happier lot, and spent his time in his own round
of quiet duties in his diocese, binding up the wounds inflicted by the
cruel oppressors, but exhorting the Saxons to bear them patiently, and
see in them the chastisement of their own crimes. “It is the scourge of
God that ye are suffering,” he said; and when they replied that they
had never been half so bad as the Normans, he said, “God is using their
wickedness to punish your evil deserts, as the devil, of his own evil
will, yet by God’s righteous will, punishes those with whom he suffers.
Do ye, when ye are angry, care what becomes of the staff wherewith ye

He had his own share of troubles and anxieties, but he met them in his
trustful spirit, and straight-forward way. At Easter, 1070, a council
was held at Winchester, at which he was summoned to attend. He was one
of the five last Saxon Bishops; Stigand, who held both at once the
primacy and the see of Winchester; his brother, Eghelmar, Bishop of
Elmham; Eghelsie, of Selsey; and the Bishop of Durham, Eghelwin, who was
in the Camp of Refuge.

Two cardinals were present to represent the Pope, and on account of his
simony, Stigand was deposed and imprisoned, while Eghelric and Eghelmar
were also degraded. Yet Wulstan, clear of conscience, and certain of the
validity of his own election, was not affrighted; so far from it, he
boldly called on the King to restore some lands that Aldred of York had
kept back from the see of Worcester.

Thomas, Aldred’s successor, claimed them by a pretended jurisdiction
over Worcester, and the decision was put off for a court of the
great men of the realm, which did not take place till several fresh
appointments had been made. Lanfranc, the Italian, Abbot of Bec, had
become Archbishop of Canterbury, and was, of course, interested in
guarding the jurisdiction of the Archiepiscopal see.

Wulstan, in this critical time, was exactly like himself. He fell asleep
while Thomas was arguing, and when time was given him to think of his
answer, he spent it in singing the service of the hour, though his
priests were in terror lest they should be ridiculed for it. “Know you
not,” he answered, “that the Lord hath said, ‘When ye stand before king
and rulers, take no thought what ye shall speak, for it shall be given
you in that hour what ye shall speak.’ Our Lord can give me speech
to-day to defend my right, and overthrow their might.” Accordingly, his
honest statement prevailed, and he gained his cause.

There is a beautiful legend that Lanfranc, thinking the simple old
Saxon too rude and ignorant for his office, summoned him to a synod at
Westminster, and there called on him to deliver up his pastoral staff
and ring. Wulstan rose, and said he had known from the first that he was
not worthy of his dignity, and had taken it only at the bidding of his
master, King Edward. To him, therefore, who gave the staff, he would
resign it. Advancing to the Confessor’s tomb, he said, “Master, thou
knowest how unwillingly I took this office, forced to it by thee. Behold
a new king--a new law--a new primate; they decree new rights, and
promulgate new statutes. Thee they accuse of error in having so
commanded--me of presumption, in having obeyed. Then, indeed, thou wast
liable to err, being mortal--now, being with God, thou canst not err.
Not to these who require what they did not give, but to thee, who hast
given, I render up my staff. Take this, my master, and deliver it to
whom thou wilt.”

He laid it on the tomb, took off his episcopal robes, and sat down
among the monks. The legend goes on to say, that the staff remained
embedded in the stone, and no hand could wrench it away, till Wulstan
himself again took it up, when it yielded without effort. The King and
Archbishop fell down at his feet, and entreated his pardon and blessing.

Such is the story told a century after; and surely we may believe that,
without the miracle, the old man’s touching appeal to his dead King, and
his humility, convinced Lanfranc that it had been foul shame to think
of deposing such a man because his learning was not extensive, nor his
manners like those of the courtly Norman. Be that as it may, thenceforth
Lanfranc and Wulstan worked hand in hand, and we find the Archbishop
begging him to undertake the visitation of the diocese of Chester, which
was unsafe for the Norman prelates. One great work accomplished by the
help of Wulstan was, the putting an end to a horrible slave-trade with
Ireland, whither Saxon serfs were sold, not by Normans, but by their own
country people, who had long carried it on before the Conquest. Lanfranc
persuaded William to abolish it, but the rude Saxon slave-merchants
cared nothing for his edicts, until the Bishop of Worcester came to
Bristol, and preached against the traffic, staying a month or two at
a time, every year, till the minds of the people of Bristol were so
altered, that they not only gave up the trade, but acquired such
a horror of it that they tore out the eyes of the last person who
persisted in it.

The favor and esteem with which Wulstan was regarded did not cease, but
he was obliged to spend a life of constraint. The Archbishop made him
keep a band of armed retainers to preserve the peace of the country, and
they were new and strange companions for the old monk; but as he thought
his presence kept them from evil, he did not remain aloof, dining with
them each day in the public hall, and even while they sat long over the
wine, remaining with them, pledging them good-humoredly in a little cup,
which he pretended to taste, and ruminating on the Psalms in the midst
of their noisy mirth.

These were the days of church-building--the days of the circular arch,
round column, and zigzag moulding; of doorways whose round arch, adorned
with border after border of rich or quaint device, almost bewilder us
with the multiplicity of detail; of low square towers, and solid walls;
of that kind of architecture called Norman, but more properly a branch
of the Romanesque of Italy.

Each new Roman Bishop or Abbot thought it his business to renew his
clumsy old Saxon minster, and we have few cathedrals whose present
structure does not date from the days of the Conqueror or his sons.
Walkelyn, Bishop of Winchester, obtained a grant from William of as
much timber from Hempage Wood as could be cut in four days and nights;
whereupon Walkelyn assembled a huge company of workmen, and made such
good use of the time, that when the king passed that way, he cried out,
“Am I bewitched, or have I taken leave of my senses? Had I not a most
delectable wood in this spot?” where now only stumps were to be seen.

Wulstan had always been a church-builder, and he renewed his cathedral
after the Norman fashion; but when it was finished, and the workmen
began to pull down the old one, which had been built by St. Oswald,
he stood watching them in silence, till at last he shed tears. “Poor
creatures that we are,” said he, “we destroy the work of the saints, and
think in our pride that we improve upon it. Those blessed men knew not
how to build fine churches, but they knew how to sacrifice themselves to
God, whatever roof might be over them, and to draw their flocks after
them. Now, all we think of is to rear up piles of stones, while we care
not for souls.”

Wulstan lived to a great age, survived William and Lanfrane, and
assisted to consecrate Anselm. In the last year of his life he kept each
festival with still greater solemnity than ever, and his feast for the
poor overflowed more than ever before; his stores were exhausted, though
he had collected an unusual quantity, and his clergy begged him to shut
the gates against the crowds still gathering; but he refused, saying
none should go empty away, and some gifts from his rich friends arrived
opportunely to supply the need. The Bishop sat in the midst as feasting
with them, now grown too feeble to wait on them, as he had always done

At Whitsuntide, 1094, he was taken ill, and lingered under a slow fever
till the new year, when he died in peace and joy on the 19th of January.
His greatest friend, Robert, the Bishop of Hereford, a learned man,
understanding all the science of the time, a judge, and a courtly
Lorrainer, yet who loved to spend whole days with the unlettered Saxon,
came to lay him in his grave. He received, as a gift from the convent,
the lambskin cloak that Wulstan used to wear, in spite of the laughter
of the gay prelates arrayed in costly furs, keeping his ground by
saying, that “the furs of cunning animals did not befit a plain man.”
 He went home to Hereford, and soon after died, having, it is said, been
warned in a vision by St. Wulstan that he must soon prepare to follow

CAMEO X. THE CONQUEROR. (1066-1087.)

In speaking of William, the Norman Conqueror, we are speaking of a
really great man; and great men are always hard to understand or deal
with in history, for, as their minds are above common understandings,
their contemporary historians generally enter into their views less than
any one else, and it is only the result that proves their wisdom and
far-sight. Moreover, their temptations and their sins are on a larger
scale than those of other men, and some of the actions that they perform
make a disproportionate impression by the cry that they occasion--the
evil is remembered, not the good that their main policy effected.

William was a high-minded man, of mighty and wide purposes, one of the
very few who understood what it was to be a king. He had the Norman
qualities in their fullest perfection. He was devoutly religious, and in
his private character was irreproachable, being the first Norman Duke
unstained by licence, the first whose sons were all born of his princess
wife. He was devout in his habits, full of alms-deeds; and strong and
resolute as was his will, he kept it so upright and so truly desirous
of the Divine glory and the Church’s welfare, that he had no serious
misunderstanding with the clergy, and lived on the most friendly terms
with his great Archbishop, Lanfranc.

He was one of those mighty men who, in personal intercourse, have a
force of nature that not merely renders opposition impossible, but
absolutely masters the will and intention, so that there is not even the
secret contradiction of mind. We have seen this in his dealings with
both his own Normans and the Saxons who came in contact with him. His
presence was so irresistible that men yielded to it unconsciously, but
when absent from him they became themselves again, and in the reaction
they committed treason against the pledges they seemed to have
voluntarily given to him.

He was stern, fiercely stern. His standard and ideal were very high,
such as, perhaps, only the saintly could attain to. The men who
never quarrelled with him were Lanfranc, Edgar Atheling, and William
Fitzosborn. The first was saintly and strong; the second, honest,
upright, and simple; the third was endeared by boyish memories, and
to these, perhaps, may be added Edward the Confessor and good Bishop

Many others William tried to love and trust--his uncle Odo, his own son,
Earls Edwin and Morkar, Waltheof, the sons of Fitzosborn; but they
all failed, grieved, and disappointed him. None was strong, noble, or
disinterested enough not at one time or other to be a traitor; and,
perhaps, his really honest, open enemy, Hereward le Wake, was the person
whom he most valued and honored after the above mentioned.

And though his affection was hearty, his wrath when he was disappointed
was tremendous. And his disappointments were many, partly because his
standard was in every respect far above that of the men around him, and
partly because his presence so far lifted them to his level, that, when
they fell to their own, he was totally unprepared for the treachery and
deceit such a fall involved.

Then down he came on them with implacable vengeance, he was so very
“stark,” as the old chronicle has it. Battle, devastation, plunder,
lifelong imprisonment, confiscation, requited him who had drawn on
himself the terrible wrath of William of Normandy. There were few soft
places in that mighty heart; it could love, but it could not pity, and
it could not forgive. He was of the true nature to be a Scourge of God.

Hardened and embittered by the selfish treasons that had beset his early
boyhood, and which had forced him into manhood before his time, he came
to England as one called thither by the late king’s designation, and,
therefore, the lawful heir. The Norman law, a confusion of the old Frank
and Roman codes, and of the Norwegian pirate customs, he seems to have
been glad to leave behind. His native Normans must be ruled by it,
but he was an English king by inheritance, and English laws he would
observe; Englishmen should have their national share in the royal favor,
and in their native land.

But the design proved impracticable. The English had been split into
fierce parties long before he came, and the West Saxon, the Mercian
Angle, and Northumbrian Dane hated one another still, and all hated the
Norman alike; and his Norman, French, and Breton importations lost no
love among themselves, and viewed the English natives as conquered
beings, whose spoil was unjustly withheld from them by the Duke King.

Rebellion began: by ones, twos, and threes, the nobles revolted,
and were stamped out by William’s iron heel, suffering his fierce,
unrelenting justice--that highest justice that according to the Latin
proverb becomes, in man’s mind at least, the highest injustice. So
England lay, trampled, bleeding, indignant, and raising a loud cry of
misery; but, in real truth, the sufferers were in the first place the
actual rebels, Saxon and Norman alike; next, those districts which had
risen against his authority, and were barbarously devastated with fire
and sword; and lastly, the places which, by the death or forfeiture of
native lords, or by the enforced marriage of heiresses, fell into the
hands of rapacious Norman adventurers, who treated their serfs with the
brutal violence common in France.

Otherwise, things were left much as they were. The towns had little or
no cause of complaint, and the lesser Saxon gentry, with the Franklins
and the Earls, were unmolested, unless they happened to have vicious
neighbors. The Curfew bell, about which so great a clamor was raised,
was a universal regulation in Europe; it was a call to prayers, an
intimation that it was bedtime, and a means of guarding against fire,
when streets were often nothing but wooden booths thatched. The intense
hatred that its introduction caused was only the true English dislike to
anything like domiciliary interference.

The King has left us an undoubted testimony to the condition of the
country, and the number of Saxons still holding tenures. Nineteen years
after his Conquest, he held a council at Gloucester, the result of which
was a great “numbering of the people”--a general census. To every city
or town, commissioners were sent forth, who collected together the Shire
reeve or Sheriff--the Viscount, as the Normans called him--the thegus,
the parish priests, the reeves, and franklins, who were examined upon
oath of the numbers, names, and holdings of the men of their place, both
as they were in King Edward’s days, and at that time. The lands had to
be de scribed, whether plough lands or pasture, wood or waste; the mills
and fisheries wore recorded, and each farmer’s stock of oxen, cows,
sheep, or swine. The English grumbled at the inquiry, called it tyranny,
and expected worse to come of it, but there was no real cause for
complaint. The primary object of the survey was the land-tax, the
Danegeld, as it was called, because it was first raised to provide
defences against the Danes, and every portion of arable land was
assessed at a fair rate, according to ancient custom, but not that which
lay waste. The entire record, including all England save London and the
four northern counties, was preserved at Winchester, and called the
Winchester Roll, or Domesday Book. It is one of the most interesting
records in existence, showing, as it does, the exceeding antiquity of
our existing divisions of townships, parishes and estates, and even of
the families inhabiting them, of whom a fair proportion, chiefly of the
lesser gentry, can point to evidence that they live on soil that was
tilled by their fathers before the days of the Norman. It is far more
satisfactory than the Battle Roll, which was much tampered with by the
monks to gratify the ancestral vanity of gentlemen who were so persuaded
that their ancestors ought to be found there, that they caused them to
be inserted if they were missing. Of Domesday Book, however, there is no
doubt, as the original copy is still extant in its fair old handwriting,
showing the wonderful work that the French-speaking scribes made with
English names of people and places. Queen Edith, the Confessor’s widow,
who was a large landholder, appears as Eddeve, Adeve, Adiva--by anything
but her true old English name of Eadgyth. But it was much that the
subdued English folk appeared there at all.

The most real grievance that the English had to complain of was the
Forest Laws. The Dukes of Normandy had had many a quarrel in their
Neustrian home with their subjects, on the vexed question of the chase,
their greatest passion; and when William came into England as a victor,
he was determined to rule all his own way in the waste and woodland. All
the forests he took into his own hands, and the saying was that “the
king loved the high deer as if he was their father;” any trespass was
severely punched, and if he slaughter of any kind of game was a more
serious thing than murder itself.

Chief of all, however, in people’s minds, was his appropriation of the
tract of Jettenwald, or the Giant’s Wood, Ytene, in South Hants. A
tempting hunting-ground extended nearly all the way from his royal city
of Winchester, broad, bare chalk down, passing into heathy common, and
forest waste, covered with holly and yew, and with noble oak and beech
in its dells, fit covert for the mighty boar, the high deer, and an
infinity of game beside.

With William’s paternal feelings toward the deer, he thought the cotters
and squatters, the churls and the serfs, on the borders of the wood, or
in little clearings in the midst, mischievous interlopers, and at one
swoop he expelled them all, and kept the Giant’s Wood solely for himself
and his deer, by the still remaining name of the New Forest.

Chroniclers talk of twenty-two mother churches and fifty-two
parishes laid waste, but there is no doubt that this was a monstrous
exaggeration, and that the population could not have been so dense. At
any rate, whatever their numbers, the inhabitants were expelled, the
animals were left unmolested for seven years, and then the Norman king
enjoyed his sports there among his fierce nobility, little recking that
all the English, and many of the Normans, longed that a curse should
there light upon his head, or on that of his proud sons.


The wife of William of Normandy was, as has been said, Matilda, daughter
of Baldwin, Count of Flanders. The wife of such a man as William has not
much opportunity of showing her natural character, and we do not know
much of hers. It appears, however, that she was strong-willed and
vindictive, and, very little disposed to accept him. She had set
her affections upon one Brihtric Meau, called Snow, from his fair
complexion, a young English lord who had visited her father’s court on
a mission from Edward the Confessor, but who does not appear to have
equally admired the lady. For seven years Matilda is said to have held
out against William, until one twilight evening, when she was going
home from church, in the streets of Bruges he rode up to her, beat her
severely, and threw her into the gutter!

Wonderful to relate, the high-spirited demoiselle was subdued by this
rough courtship, and gave her hand to her determined cousin without
further resistance; nor do we hear that he ever beat her again. Indeed,
if he did, he was not likely to let their good vassals be aware of it;
and, in very truth, they seem to have been considered as models of peace
and happiness. But it is much to be suspected that her nature remained
proud and vindictive; for no sooner had her husband become master of
England, than she caused the unfortunate Brihtric, who had disdained her
love, to be stripped of all his manors in Gloucestershire, including
Fairford, Tewkesbury, and the rich meadows around, and threw him into
Winchester Castle, where he died; while Domesday Book witnesses to her
revenge, by showing that the lands once his belonged to Queen Matilda.

The indication of character in a woman who had so little opportunity of
independent action, is worth noting, as it serves to mark the spirit
in which her children would be reared, and to explain why the sons
so entirely fell short of all that was greatest and noblest in their
father. The devotion, honor, and generosity, that made the iron of his
composition bright as well as hard, was utterly wanting in them, or
merely appeared in passing inconsistencies, and it is but too likely
that they derived no gentler training from their mother. There were ten
children, four sons and six daughters, but the names of these latter,
are very difficult to distinguish, as Adela, Atheliza, Adelheid, or
Alix, was a sort of feminine of Atheling, a Princess-Royal title,
and was applied to most of the eldest daughters of the French and
German-princes, or, when the senior was dead, or married, to the
surviving eldest.

Cecily, Matilda’s eldest daughter, was, even before her birth, decreed
to be no Adela for whom contending potentates might struggle. She was
to be the atonement for the parents’ hasty, unlicensed marriage, in
addition to their two beautiful abbeys at Caen. When the Abbaye aux
Dames was consecrated, the little girl was led by her father to the foot
of the altar, and there presented as his offering. She was educated with
great care by a very learned though somewhat dissipated priest, took
the veil, and, becoming abbess, ruled her nuns for many years, well
contented and much respected.

The next sister was the Atheliza of the family, but her name was either
Elfgiva or Agatha. She enjoys the distinction of being the only female
portrait in her mother’s tapestry--except a poor woman escaping from a
sacked town. She stands under a gateway, while Harold is riding forth
with her father, in witness, perhaps, of her having been betrothed to
Harold; or perhaps Matilda felt a mother’s yearning to commemorate the
first of her flock who had been laid in the grave, for Elfgiva died a
short time after the contract, which Harold would hardly have fulfilled,
since he had at least one wife already at home.

Her sister, Matilda, promoted to be Adeliza, was betrothed to another
Saxon, the graceful and beautiful Edwin, whom she loved with great
ardor, through all his weak conduct toward her father. After his
untimely end, she was promised to Alfonso I. of Castile, but she
could not endure to give her heart to another; she wept and prayed
continually, but in vain as far as her father was concerned. She was
sent off on her journey, but died on the way; and then it was that the
poor girl’s knees were found to be hardened by her constant kneeling to
implore the pity that assuredly was granted to her.

Constance married Alain Fergeant, a brother of the Duke of Brittany, and
an adventurer in the Norman invasion. He was presented with the Earldom
of Richmond, in Yorkshire; and as his son became afterward Duke of
Brittany, this appanage frequently gave title to younger brothers in the
old Armorican Duchy. That son was not born of Constance; she fell into
a languishing state of health, and died, four years after her marriage.
Report said that her husband’s vassals found her so harsh and rigorous,
that they poisoned her; and considering what her brothers were, it is
not unlikely.

Of the Adela who married that accomplished prince, Stephen, Count de
Blois, there will be more to say; and as to Gundred, the wife of Earl
Warenne, it is a doubtful question whether she was a daughter of William
and Matilda. Her tomb was lately found in Isfield Church, Sussex; but
though it has an inscription praising her virtues, it says nothing of
her royal birth.

The sons of William left far more distinct and undesirable traces of
themselves than their sisters. Robert was probably the eldest of the
whole family, and he was his mother’s favorite, like most eldest sons.
He did not inherit the stately height of the Norman princes, and, from
his short, sturdy form, early acquired the nickname of Courtheuse, by
which he was distinguished among the swarms of other Roberts. Much pains
was bestowed on his instruction, and that of his brothers, Richard and
William, by the excellent Lanfranc, and they all had great abilities;
but there were influences at work among the fierce Norman lads that
rendered the holy training of the good abbot wholly ineffectual. Their
father, conscious of his own defective right to the ducal rank, lost no
opportunity of binding his vassals to swear fealty not only to himself,
but his eldest son; and from Robert’s infancy he had learnt to hold out
his hand, and hear the barons declare themselves his men. When the Duke
set out on his conquest of England, he caused the oath to be renewed to
Robert, and he at the same time showed his love for William, then the
youngest, by having him, with his long red hair floating, carved,
blowing a horn, at the figure-head of the Mora.

Soon after the Conquest, when Matilda had lately been crowned Queen of
England, the fourth son, Henry, was born. He had much more personal
beauty and height than the other brothers, and there was always an idea
floating that the son born when his father was king had a right over
his elder brethren, and thus Henry was always an object of jealousy to
his brothers. Passionately fond of the few books he could obtain, he
was called Beauclerc, or the fine scholar; and whilst as little
restrained by real principle as his brothers, he was able to preserve a
decorum and self-command that kept him in better reputation.

The second brother, Richard, however, had no opportunity of showing his
character. He died in the New Forest, either from a blow on the head
from a branch of a tree, or from a fever caught in the marshes, and is
buried in Winchester Cathedral. Perhaps the doom came on him in innocent
youth, “because there was some good thing in him.”

In 1075, when Robert must have been a man some years over twenty, Henry
a boy of nine, and William probably twelve or fourteen, they all three
accompanied their father into Normandy, and were there in the fortress
of Aquila, or Aigle, so called because there had been an eagle’s nest
in the oak-tree close to the site of the castle. Robert was in a
discontented mood. The numerous occasions on which he had received the
homage of the Normans made him fancy he ought to have the rule in the
duchy; his mother’s favoritism had fostered his ill-feeling, and he was
becoming very jealous of red-haired William, who from his quickness,
daring, and readiness had become his father’s favorite; and though
under restraint in the Conqueror’s presence, was no doubt outrageously
boisterous, insolent, and presuming in his absence; and Henry, the fine
scholar, his companion and following his lead, secretly despised both
his elders.

Robert’s lodging was suddenly invaded by the two wild lads and their
attendants. Finding themselves no better welcomed or amused than rude
boys are wont to be by young men, they betook themselves to an upper
room, the floor of which was formed by ill-laid, gaping planks, which
were the ceiling of that below. Here they began to play at dice; they
soon grew even more intolerably uproarious, and in the coarse of their
quarrelsome, boisterous tricks, overthrew a vessel of dirty water, which
began to drip through the interstices of the planks on their brother and
his friends below--an accident sure to be welcomed by a hoarse laugh
by the rough boys, but appearing to the victims beneath a deliberate
insult. “Are you a man not to avenge this shameful insolence?” cried
Robert’s friends, Alberic and Ivo de Grantmesnil. In a fury of passion,
Robert rushed after the lads with his sword drawn, and King William
was roused from his sleep to hear that Lord Robert was murdering his

The passion and violence of the elder son had the natural effect of
making the father take the part of the younger ones, and Robert was
so much incensed, that he rode off with his friends, and, collecting
partisans as he went, attacked Rouen.

He was of course repulsed, and many of his followers were made
prisoners. He held out in the border counties for a little while, but
all his supporters were gained from him by his father, and he at length
came back to court, and appeared reconciled. There, however, he had
nothing to do, and all the licentious and disaffected congregated
round him; he idled away half his time, and revelled the rest, and his
pretensions magnified themselves all the time in his fancy, till at last
he was stimulated to demand of his father the cession of Normandy, as a
right confirmed to him by the French king.

William replied by a lecture on disobedience, citing as examples of
warning all the Absaloms of history; but Robert fiercely answered, that
he had not come to listen to a sermon; he was sick of hearing all this
from his teachers, and he would have his answer touching his claim to

The answer he got was, “It is not my custom to lay aside my clothes till
I go to bed.”

It sent him off in a rage, with all his crew of dissolute followers. He
went first to his uncle in Flanders, then to Germany and Italy, always
penniless from his lavish habits, though his mother often sent him
supplies of money by a trusty messenger, called Samson le Breton.
However, the King found him out, and reproached Matilda angrily; but she
made answer, “If Robert, my son, were buried seven feet under ground,
and I could bring him to life again by my heart’s blood, how gladly
would I give it!” The implacable William commanded Samson to be blinded,
but he escaped to the monastery of St. Everard, and there became a monk.

Returning, Robert presented himself to King Philippe of France, who was
glad to annoy his overgrown vassal by patronizing the rebellious son,
and accordingly placed Robert in the Castle of Gerberoi, where he might
best be a thorn in his father’s side. There William besieged him,
bringing the two younger sons with him, though Henry was but twelve
years old. For three weeks there was sharp fighting; and, finally, a
battle, in which the younger William was wounded, and the elder, cased
in his full armor of chain mail, encountered unknowingly with Robert,
in the like disguising hawberk. The Conqueror’s horse was killed; his
esquire, an Englishman, in bringing him another, was slain; and he
himself received a blow which caused such agony that he could not
repress a shriek of pain. Robert knew his voice, and, struck with
remorse, immediately lifted him up, offered him his own horse, and
assured him of his ignorance of his person; but William, smarting and
indignant, vouchsafed no answer, and while the son returned to his
castle, the father went back to his camp, which he broke up the next
day, and returned to Rouen.

Robert seems to have been a favorite with the lawless Normans, who
writhed under the mighty hand of his father, and on their interference,
backed by that of the French king and the Pope, brought about a
reconciliation in name. The succession of Normandy was again secured to
Robert, but therewith he was laid under a curse by his angry father,
whose face he never saw again.

Other troubles thickened on William. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, the bold,
rough, jovial half-brother, whom he had trusted and loved, was reported
to be full of mischievous plots. He seems to have been told by diviners
that the next Pope was to be named Odo, and, to secure the fulfilment
of the augury, he was sending bribes to Rome, and at the same time
collecting a great body of troops with whom to fight his way thither.
He was in the Isle of Wight, preparing to carry his forces to Normandy,
when William pounced, on him, and ordered him back again. It is not
clear whether he wished to prevent the scandal to the Church, or whether
he suspected this army of Odo’s of being intended to support Robert
against himself; but, at any rate, he made bitter complaint before the
council of the way he had been treated by son, brother, and peer, and
sentenced Odo to imprisonment. No one would touch the Bishop, and
William was obliged to seize him himself, answering, to Odo’s appeal
to his inviolable orders, “I judge not the Bishop, but my Earl and

Another grief befell him in 1083, in the death of Matilda, who, it was
currently believed, pined away with grief at his fury against her
beloved first-born--anger that his affection for her could not mitigate,
though he loved her so tenderly that his great heart almost broke at
her death, and he never was the same man during the four years that he
survived her.

His health began to break; he had grown large and unwieldy, but his
spirit was as fiery as ever, and wherever there was war, there was he.
At last, in 1087, there was an insurrection at Mantes, supported by King
Philippe. William complained, but received no redress. Rude, scornful
jests were reported to him, and the savage part of his nature was

Always, hitherto, he had shown great forbearance in abstaining from
direct warfare on his suzerain, much as Philippe had often provoked
him, but his patience was exhausted, and he armed himself for a deadly

His own revolted town of Mantes was the first object of his fury. It was
harvest-time, and the crops and vineyards were mercilessly trodden down.
The inhabitants sallied out, hoping to save their corn; but the ruthless
king made his way into the city, and there caused house, convent, and
church alike to suffer plunder and fire, riding about himself directing
the work of destruction. The air was flame above, the ground was burning
hot beneath. His horse stumbled with pain and fright; and the large,
heavy body of the king fell forward on the high steel front of the
saddle, so as to be painfully and internally injured. He was carried
back to Rouen, but the noise, bustle, and heat of the city were
intolerable to him, and, with the restlessness of a dying man, he caused
himself to be carried to the convent of St. Gervais, on a hill above the
town; but he there found no relief. He felt his time was come, and sent
for his sons, William and Henry.

The mighty man’s agony was a terrible one. “No tongue can tell,” said
he, “the deeds of wickedness I have wrought during my weary pilgrimage
of toil and care.” He tried to weigh against these his good actions, his
churches and convents, his well-chosen bishops, his endeavors to act
uprightly and justly; but finding little comfort in these, he bewailed
his own destiny, and how his very birth had forced him into bloodshed,
and driven him to violence, even in his youth.

The presence of his sons brought back his mind from the thought of his
condition, to that of the disposal of the lands which had become to him
merely a load of thick clay smeared with blood. Normandy, he said, must
be Robert’s; but he groaned at the thought of the misery preparing
for his native land. “Wretched,” he said, “must be the country under
Robert’s rule; but he has received the homage of the barons, and the
grant once made can never be revoked. To England I dare appoint no heir.
Let Him in whose hands are all things, provide according to His will.”

This was his first feeling, but when he saw William’s disappointment,
he added, that he hoped the choice of the English might fall on his
obedient son.

“And what do you give me, father?” broke in Henry.

“A treasure of 5,000 pounds of silver,” was the answer.

“What good will the treasure do me,” cried Henry, “if I have neither
land, nor house, nor home?”

“Take comfort, my son,” said his father; “it may be that one day thou
shalt be greater than all.”

These words he spoke in the spirit of foreboding, no doubt perceiving
in Henry a sagacity and self-command which in the struggle of life was
certain to give him the advantage of his elder brothers; but then,
alarmed lest what he had said might be construed as acknowledging
Henry’s superior claim as having been born a king’s son, he felt it
needful to back up Rufus’s claim, and bade a writ be prepared commanding
Lanfranc to crown William King of England. Affixing his signet, he
kissed and blessed his favorite, and sent him off at once to secure the
English throne. Henry, too, hurried away to secure his 5,000 pounds, and
the dying man was left alone, struggling between terror and hope.

He left sums of money for alms, masses, and prayers; and as an act
of forgiveness, released his captives--Earl Morcar, Ulfnoth, the
unfortunate hostage, Siward, and Roger de Breteuil, and all the rest;
but he long excepted his brother Odo, and only granted his liberation on
the earnest persuasion of the other brother, the Count of Mortagne.

He slept uneasily at night, awoke when the bells were ringing for lauds,
lifted up his hands in prayer, and breathed his last on the 8th of
September, 1087.

His sons were gone, his attendants took care of themselves, his servants
plundered the chamber and bed, and cast on the floor uncovered the
mortal remnant of their once dreaded master. And though the clergy
soon recollected themselves, and attended to the obsequies of their
benefactor, carrying the corpse to his own Abbey at Caen, yet even
there, as has already been said, the cry of the despoiled refused to the
Conqueror even the poor boon of a grave.


  _Kings of England_.
   1087. William II.
   1100. Henry I.

  _King of France_.
   1059. Philippe I.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1080. Heinrich IV.
   1105. Heinrich V.

  _Popes of Rome_.
   1066. Victor III.
   1073. Gregory VII.
   1088. Urban II.
  1099. Paschal II.

Great struggles took place in the eleventh century, between the
spiritual and temporal powers. England was the field of one branch
of the combat, between Bishop and King; but this cannot be properly
understood without reference to the main conflict in Italy, between Pope
and Emperor.

The Pope, which word signifies Father, or Patriarch, of Rome, had from
the Apostolic times been always elected, like all other bishops, by the
general consent of the flock, both clergy and people; and, after the
conversion of Constantine, the Emperor, as first lay member of the
Church, of course had a powerful voice in the election, could reject any
person of whom he disapproved, or nominate one whom he desired to see
chosen, though still subject to the approval of clergy and people.

This power was, however, seldom exercised by the emperors at Rome, after
the seat of empire had been transferred to Constantinople, and their
power over Italy was diminishing through their own weakness and the
German conquests. The election continued in the hands of the Romans,
and in general, at this time, their choice was well-bestowed; the popes
were, many of them, saintly men, and, by their wisdom and authority,
often guarded Rome from the devastations with which it was threatened by
the many barbarous nations who invaded Italy. So it continued until Pope
Zaccaria quarrelled with Astolfo, King of Lombardy, and summoned the
Carlovingian princes from France to protect him. These Italian wars
resulted in Charles-le-Magne taking for himself the crown of Lombardy,
and in his being chosen Roman Emperor of the West, by the citizens of
Rome, under the influence of the Pope; while he, on his side, conferred
on the pope temporal powers such as none of his predecessors had enjoyed.

From thenceforth the theory was, that the Pope was head of the Western
Church, with archbishops, bishops, clergy, and laity, in regular
gradations under him; while the Emperor was in like manner head of the
State, kings, counts, barons, and peasants, in different orders below
him; the Church ruling the souls, the State the bodies of men, and the
two chieftains working hand in hand, each bearing a mission from above;
the Emperor, as a layman, owning himself inferior to the Pope, yet the
Pope acknowledging the temporal power of the crowned monarch.

This was a grand theory, but it fell grievously short in the practice.
The city of Rome, with its worn-out civilization, was a most corrupt
place; and now that the Papacy conferred the highest dignity and
influence, it began to be sought by very different men, and by very
different means, from those that had heretofore prevailed. Bribery and
every atrocious influence swayed the elections, and the wickedness of
some of the popes is almost incredible. At last the emperors interfered
to check the dreadful crimes and profanity at Rome, and thus the
nomination of the Pope fell absolutely into their hands, and was taken
from the Romans, to whom it belonged.

In the earlier part of the eleventh century, a deacon of Rome, named
Hildebrand, formed the design of freeing the See of St. Peter from the
subjection of the emperors, and at the same time of saving it from the
disgraceful power of the populace. The time was favorable, for the
Emperor, Henry IV., was a child, and the Pope, Stephen II., was ready to
forward all Hildebrand’s views.

In the year 1059 was held the famous Lateran Council [Footnote: So
called from being convoked in the Church at the Lateran gate, on the
spot where St. John was miraculously preserved from the boiling oil.] of
the Roman clergy, in which it was enacted, that no benefice should be
received from the hands of any layman, but that all bishops should be
chosen by the clergy of the diocese; and though they in many cases held
part of the royal lands, they were by no means to receive investiture
from the sovereign, nor to pay homage. The tokens of investiture were
the pastoral staff, fashioned like a shepherd’s crook, and the ring by
which the Bishop was wedded to his See, and these were to be no longer
taken from the monarch’s hands. The choice of the popes was given to the
seventy cardinal or principal clergy of the diocese, who were chiefly
the ministers of the different parish churches, and in their hands it
has remained ever since.

Hildebrand himself was elected Pope in 1073, and took the name of
Gregory VII. He bore the brunt of the battle by which it was necessary
to secure the privileges he had asserted for the clergy. Henry IV.
of Germany was a violent man, and a furious struggle took place. The
Emperor took it on himself to depose the Pope, the Pope at the same time
sentenced the Emperor to abstain from the exercise of his power, and his
subject; elected another prince in his stead.

At one time Gregory compelled Henry to come barefooted to implore
absolution; at another, Henry besieged Rome, and Gregory was only
rescued from him by the Normans of Apulia, and was obliged to leave
Rome, and retire under their protection to Apulia, where he died in
1085, after having devoted his whole life to the fulfilment of his great
project of making the powers of this world visibly submit themselves to
the dominion of the Church.

The strife did not end with Gregory’s death. Henry IV. was indeed
dethroned by his wicked son, but no sooner did this very son, Henry V.,
come to the crown, than he struggled with the Pope as fiercely as his
father had done.

It was not till after this great war in Germany that the question began
in any great degree to affect England. Archbishop Lanfranc, as an
Italian, thought and felt with Gregory VII.; and the Normans, both here
and in Italy, were in general the Pope’s best friends; so that, though
William the Conqueror refused to make oath to become the warrior of the
Pope, Church affairs in general made no great stir in his lifetime, and
the question was not brought to issue.

The face of affairs was, however, greatly changed by the death of the
Conqueror in 1087. William Rufus was a fierce, hot-tempered man, without
respect for religion, delighting in revelry, and in being surrounded
with boisterous, hardy soldiers, whom he paid lavishly, though at the
same time he was excessively avaricious.

He had made large promises of privileges to the Saxons, in order to
obtain their support in case his elder brother Robert had striven to
assert his claims; but all these were violated, and when Lanfranc
remonstrated, he scoffingly asked whether the Archbishop fancied a king
could keep all his promises.

Lanfranc had been his tutor, had conferred on him the order of
knighthood and had hitherto exercised some degree of salutary influence
over him; but seeing all his efforts in vain, he retired to Canterbury,
and there died on the 24th of May, 1089.

Then, indeed, began evil days for the Church of England. William seized
all the revenues of the See of Canterbury, and kept them in his own
hands, instead of appointing a successor to Lanfranc, and he did the
same with almost every other benefice that fell vacant, so that at one
period he thus was despoiling all at once--the archbishopric, four
bishops’ sees, and thirteen abbeys. At the same time, the miseries he
inflicted on the country were dreadful; his father’s cruel forest laws
were enforced with double rigor, and the oppression of the Saxons was
terrible, for they were absolutely without the least protection from
any barbarities his lawless soldiery chose to inflict upon them. Every
oppressive baron wreaked his spite against his neighbors with impunity,
and Ivo Taillebois [Footnote: See “The Camp of Refuge.”] was not long
in showing his malice, as usual, against Croyland Abbey.

A fire had accidentally broken out which consumed all the charters,
except some which were fortunately in another place, where they had been
set aside by Abbot Ingulf, that the younger monks might learn to read
the old Saxon character, and among these was happily the original grant
of the lands of Turketyl, signed by King Edred, and further confirmed by
the great seal of William I.

Ivo Taillebois, hearing of the fire, and trusting that all the
parchments had been lost together, sent a summons to the brethren to
produce the deeds by which they held their lands. They despatched a lay
brother called Trig to Spalding, with Turketyl’s grant under his charge.
The Normans glanced over it, and derided it. “Such barbarous writings,”
 they said, “could do nothing;” but when Trig produced the huge seal,
with William the Conqueror’s effigy, still more “stark” and rigid than
Sir Ivo had known him in his lifetime, there was no disputing its
validity, and the court of Spalding was baffled. However, Taillebois
sent some of his men to waylay the poor monk, and rob him of his
precious parchment, intending then again to require the brotherhood
to prove their rights by its production; but brother Trig seems to have
been a wary man, and, returning by a by-path, avoided pursuit, and
brought the charter safely home. A short time after, Ivo offended the
king, and was banished, much to the joy of the Fen country.

Rapine and oppression were in every corner of England and Normandy, the
two brothers Robert and William setting the example by stripping their
youngest brother, Henry, of the castle he had purchased with his
father’s legacy. One knight, two squires, and a faithful chaplain, alone
would abide by the fortunes of the landless prince. The chaplain, Roger
le Poer, had been chosen by Henry, for a reason from which no one could
have expected the fidelity he showed his prince in his misfortunes,
nor his excellent conduct afterward when sharing the prosperity of his
master. He was at first a poor parish priest of Normandy, and Henry,
chancing to enter his church, found him saying mass so quickly, that,
quite delighted, the prince exclaimed, “Here’s a priest for me!” and
immediately took him into his service. Nevertheless, Roger le Poer was
an excellent adviser, an upright judge, and a good bishop. It was he who
commenced the Cathedral of Salisbury, where it now stands, removing it
from the now deserted site of Old Sarum.

Robert had not added much to the tranquillity of the country by
releasing his uncle, the turbulent old Bishop Odo, who was continually
raising quarrels between him and William. Odo’s old friend, Earl Hugh
the Wolf, of Chester, [Footnote: See the “Camp of Refuge.”] was at this
time better employed than most of the Norman nobles. He was guarding the
frontier against the Welsh, and at the same time building the heavy red
stone pile which is now the Cathedral of Chester, and which he intended
as the Church of a monastery of Benedictines. Fierce old Hugh was a
religious man, and had great reverence and affection for one of the
persons in all the world most unlike himself--Anselm, the Abbot of Bec.

Anselm was born at Aosta, in Piedmont, of noble parents, and was well
brought up by his pious mother, Ermengarde, under whose influence he
applied himself to holy learning, and was anxious to embrace a religious
life. She died when he was fifteen years of age, and his father was
careless and harsh. Anselm lost his love for study, and fell into
youthful excesses, but in a short time her good lessons returned upon
him, and he repented earnestly. His father, however, continued so
unkind, and even cruel, that he was obliged to leave the country, and
took refuge, first in Burgundy and then in Normandy, where he sought the
instruction of his countryman, Lanfranc, then Abbot of Bec.

He learnt, at Bec, that his father was dead, and decided on taking the
vows in that convent. There he remained for many years, highly revered
for his piety and wisdom, and, in fact, regarded as almost a saint.
In 1092, Hugh the Wolf was taken ill, and, believing he should never
recover, sent to entreat the holy Abbot to come and give him comfort
on his death-bed. Anselm came, but on his arrival found the old Earl
restored, and only intent on the affairs of his new monastery, the
regulation of which he gladly submitted to Anselm. The first Abbot was
one of the monks of Bec, and Earl Hugh himself afterward gave up his
country to his son Richard, and assumed the monastic habit there.

Whilst Anselm was on his visit to the Earl of Chester, there was some
conversation about him at Court, and some one said that the good Abbot
was so humble that he had no desire for any promotion or dignity. “Not
for the Archbishopric?” shouted the King, with a laugh of derision;
“but”--and he swore an oath--“other Archbishop than me there shall be

Some of the clergy about this time requested William to permit prayers
to be offered in the churches, that he might be directed to make a fit
choice of a Primate. He laughed, and said the Church might ask what she
pleased; she would not hinder him from doing what he pleased.

He knew not what Power he was defying. That power, in the following
spring, stretched him on a bed of sickness, despairing of life, and in
an agony of remorse at his many fearful sins, especially filled with
terror at his sacrilege, and longing to free himself from that patrimony
of the Church which seemed to be weighing down his soul.

Anselm was still with Hugh the Wolf, probably at Gloucester, where the
King’s illness took place. A message came to summon him without delay to
the royal chamber, there to receive the pastoral staff of Canterbury. He
would not hear of it; he declared he was unfit, he was an old man, and
knew nothing of business, he was weak, unable to govern the Church in
such times. “The plough should be drawn by animals of equal strength,”
 said he to the bishops and other friends who stood round, combatting his
scruples, and exulting that the king’s heart was at length touched.
“Would you yoke a feeble old sheep with a wild young bull?”

Without heeding his objections, the Norman clergy by main force dragged
him into the room where lay the Red King, in truth like to a wild bull
in a net, suffering from violent fever, and half mad with impatience
and anguish of mind. He would not hear Anselm’s repeated refusals, and
besought him to save him. “You will ruin me,” he said. “My salvation is
in your hands. I know God will never have mercy on me if Canterbury is
not filled.”

Still Anselm wept, imploring him to make another choice; but the bishops
carried him up to the bedside, and actually forced open his clenched
hand to receive the pastoral staff which William held out to him. Then,
half fainting, he was carried away to the Cathedral, where they chanted
the _Te Deum_, and might well have also sung, “The king’s heart is in
the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water.”

But though William had thus been shown how little his will availed when
he openly defied the force of prayer, his stubborn disposition was
unchanged, and he recovered only to become more profane than ever.
Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, when congratulating him on his
restoration, expressed a hope that he would henceforth show more regard
to the Most High. “Bishop,” he returned, as usual with an oath, “I will
pay no honor to Him who has brought so much evil on me.”

A war at this time broke out between William and his brother Robert, and
the King ordered all his bishops to pay him large sums to maintain his
forces. Canterbury had been so wasted with his extortions that Anselm
could hardly raise 500 marks, which he brought the King, warning him
that this was the last exaction with which he meant to comply. “Keep
your money and your foul tongue to yourself,” answered William; and
Anselm gave the money to the poor.

Shortly after, Anselm expostulated with William on the wretched state of
the country, where the Christian religion had almost perished; but the
King only said he would do what he would with his own, and that his
father had never met with such language from Lanfranc. Anselm was
advised to offer him treasure to make his peace, but this he would not
do; and William, on hearing of his refusal, broke out thus: “Tell him
that as I hated him yesterday, I hate him more to day, and will hate him
daily more and more. Let him keep his blessings to himself; I will have
none of them.”

The next collision was respecting the Pallium, the scarf of black wool
with white crosses; woven from the wool of the lambs blessed by the Pope
on St. Agnes’ day, which, since the time of St. Augustine, had always
been given by the Pope to the English Primate. Anselm, who had now been
Archbishop for two years, asked permission to go and receive it; but as
it was in the midst of the dispute between Emperor and Pope, there was
an Antipope, as pretenders to that dignity were called--one Guibert,
appointed by Henry IV. of Germany, besides Urban II., who had been
chosen by the Cardinals, and whose original Christian name was really
Odo. William went into a great fury on hearing that Anselm regarded
Urban as the true Pope, without having referred to himself, convoked
the clergy and laity at Rockingham, and called on them to depose the
Archbishop. The bishops, all but Gundulf of Rochester, were in favor of
the King, and renounced their obedience to the Primate; but the nobles
showed themselves resolved to protect him, whereupon William adjourned
the council, and sent privately to ask what might be gained by
acknowledging Urban as Pope.

Urban sent a legate to England with the Pallium. The King first tried
to make him depose Anselm, and then to give him the Pallium instead of
investing the Archbishop with it; but the legate, by way of compromise,
laid it on the altar at Canterbury, whence Anselm took it up.

Two years more passed, and Anselm came to beg permission to go to Rome
to consult with the Pope on the miserable state of the Church. William
said he might go, but if he did, he himself should take all the manors
of Canterbury again, and the bishops warned him they should be on the
king’s side.

“You have answered well,” said Anselm; “go to your lord; I will hold to
my God.”

William banished him for life; but just before he departed, he came to
the King, saying, “I know not when I shall see you again, and if you
will take it, I would fain give you my blessing--the blessing of a
father to his son.”

For one moment the Red King was touched; he bowed his head, and the old
man made the sign of the cross on his brow; but no sooner was Anselm
gone forth from his presence, than his heart was again hardened, and he
so interfered with his departure, that he was forced to leave England in
the dress of a pilgrim, with only his staff and wallet.

In Italy, Anselm was able to live in quiet study, write and pray in
peace. He longed to resign his archbishopric, but the Pope would
not consent; and when Urban was about to excommunicate the King, he
prevailed to prevent the sentence from being pronounced.

William was left to his own courses, and to his chosen friend Ralph, a
low-born Norman priest, beloved by the King partly for his qualities as
a boon companion, partly for his ingenuity as an extortioner. He was
universally known by the nickname of Flambard, or the Torch, and was
bitterly hated by men of every class. He was once very nearly murdered
by some sailors, who kidnapped him, and carried him on board a large
ship. Some of them quarrelled about the division of his robes, a storm
arose, and he so worked on their fears that they at length set him on
shore, where William was so delighted to see him that he gave him the
bishopric of Durham, the richest of all, because the bishop was also an
earl, and was charged to defend the frontier against the Scots.

He had promised to relax the forest laws, but this was only one of his
promises made to be broken; and he became so much more strict in his
enforcement of them than even the Conqueror, that he acquired the
nickname of Ranger of the Woods and Keeper of the Deer. Dogs in the
neighborhood of his forests were deprived of their claws, and there was
a scale of punishments for poachers of any rank, extending from the loss
of a hand, or eye, to that of life itself. In 1099, another Richard,
an illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was killed in the New
Forest by striking his head against the branch of a tree; and a belief
in a family fate began to prevail, so much so that Bishop Gundulf warned
the King against hunting there; but William, as usual, laughed him to
scorn, and in the summer of 1100 took up his residence in his lodge of
Malwood, attended by his brother Henry, and many other nobles.

On the last night of July a strange sound was heard--the King calling
aloud on St. Mary; and when his attendants came into his chamber, they
found him crossing himself, in terror from a frightful dream. He bade
them bring lights, and make merry, that he might not fall asleep again;
but there were other dreamers. With morning a monk arrived to tell that
he had had a vision presaging the King’s death; but William brayed his
own misgivings, and laughed, saying the man dreamt like a monk. “Give
him a hundred pence, and bid him dream better luck next time.”

Yet his spirits were subdued all the morning, and it was not till wine
had excited him that he returned to his vein of coarse, reckless mirth.
He called his hunters round him, ordered the horses, and asked for his
new arrows--long, firm, ashen shafts. Three he stuck in his belt, the
other three he held out to a favorite comrade, Walter Tyrrel, Lord de
Poix, saying, “Take them, Wat, for a good marskman should have good

Some one ventured to remind him of his dream, but his laugh was ready.
“Do they take me for a Saxon, to be frighted because an old woman dreams
or sneezes?”

The hunters rode off, Walter Tyrrel alone with the King. By-and-by a
cry rang through the forest that the King was slain. There was an eager
gathering into the beech-shaded dell round the knoll of Stoney Cross,
where, beneath an oak tree, lay the bleeding corpse of the Red
William, an arrow in his heart. Terror fell on some, the hope of
self-aggrandizement actuated others. Walter Tyrrel never drew rein till
he came to the coast, and there took ship for France, whence he went
to the holy wars. Prince Henry rode as fast in the opposite direction.
William de Breteuil (eldest son of Fitz-Osborn) galloped off to secure
his charge, the treasury at Winchester, and; when he arrived, found the
prince before him, trying to force the keepers to give him the keys,
which they refused to do except at their master’s bidding.

Breteuil, who, as well as Henry, had sworn that Robert should reign if
William died childless, tried to defend his rights, but was overpowered
by some friends of Henry, who now came up to the forest; and the next
morning the prince set off to London, taking with him the crown, and
caused the Bishop of London to anoint and crown him four days after his
brother’s death.

No one cared for the corpse beneath the oak, and there it lay till
evening, when one Purkiss, a charcoal-burner of the forest hamlet of
Minestead, came by, lifted it up, and carried it on his rude cart, which
dripped with the blood flowing from the wound, to Winchester.

There the cathedral clergy buried it in a black stone coffin, ridged
like the roof of a house, beneath the tower of the cathedral, many
people looking on, but few grieving, and some deeming it shame that so
wicked a man should be allowed to lie within a church. These thought it
a judgment, when, next year, the tower fell down over the grave, and it
was rebuilt a little further westward with some of the treasure Bishop
Walkelyn had left. Never did any man’s history more awfully show a
hardened, impenitent heart, going back again to sin after a great
warning, then cut off by an instantaneous death, in the full tide of
prosperity, in the very height of health and strength--for he was but in
his fortieth year.

A spur of William Rufus is still preserved at the forest town of
Lyndhurst; Purkiss’s descendant still dwells at Minestead; part of the
way by which he travelled is called the King’s Lane, and the oak long
remained at Stoney Cross to mark the spot where the King fell; and when,
in 1745, the remains of the wood mouldered away, a stone was set up in
its place; but the last of the posterity of William the Conqueror’s
“high deer” were condemned in the course of the year 1831.

  A Minestead churl, whose wonted trade
  Was burning charcoal in the glade,
  Outstretched amid the gorse
  The monarch found: and in his wain
  He raised, and to St. Swithin’s fane
  Conveyed the bleeding corse.

  And still--so runs our forest creed--
  Flourish the pious woodman’s seed,
  Even in the self-same spot:
  One horse and cart, their little store,
  Like their forefather’s, neither more
  Nor less, their children’s lot.

  And still in merry Tyndhurst hall
  Red William’s stirrup decks the wall;
  Who lists, the sight may see.
  And a fair stone in green Mai wood,
  Informs the traveller where stood
  The memorable tree.

  Thus in those fields the Red King died,
  His father wasted in his pride,
  For it is God’s command
  Who doth another’s birthright rive,
  The curse unto his blood shall cleave,
  And God’s own word shall stand.

Who killed William Rufus? is a question to which the answer becomes more
doubtful in proportion to our knowledge of history. Suspicion attached
of course to Tyrrel, but he never owned that the shaft, either by design
or accident, came from his bow, and no one was there to bear witness.
Some think Henry Beauclerc might be guilty of the murder, and he was
both unscrupulous enough and prompt enough in taking advantage of the
circumstance, to give rise to the belief. Anselm was in Auvergne when he
heard of the King’s death, and he is said to have wept at the tidings.
He soon received a message from Henry inviting him to return to England,
where he was received with due respect, and found that, outwardly at
least, order and regularity were restored in Church matters, and the
clergy possessed their proper influence. Great promises were made
to them and to the Saxons; and the hated favorite of William, Ralph
Flambard, was in prison in the Tower. However, he contrived to make his
escape by the help of two barrels, one containing wine, with which he
intoxicated his keepers, the other a rope, by which he let himself down
from the window. He went to Robert of Normandy, remained with him some
time, but at last made his peace with Henry, and in his old age was a
tolerably respectable Bishop of Durham.

Anselm was in favor at court, owing to the influence of the “good Queen
Maude,” and he tried to bring about a reformation of the luxuries then
prevalent especially long curls, which had come into fashion with the
Normans of late. Like St. Wulstan, he carried a knife to clip them,
but without making much impression on the gay youths, till one of them
happened to dream that the devil was strangling him with his own long
hair, waked in a fright, cut it all off, and made all his friends do so

As long as Henry was afraid of having his crown disputed by Robert,
he took care to remain on excellent terms with the Church, and Anselm
supported him with all his influence when Robert actually asserted his
rights; but when the danger was over, the strife between Church and
State began again. In 1103, Henry appointed four bishops, and required
Anselm to consecrate them, but as they all had received the staff and
ring from the King, and paid homage for their lands, he considered that
he could not do so, conformably with the decree of the Lateran Council
against lay investiture. Henry was much displeased, and ordered the
Archbishop of York to consecrate them; but two of them, convinced by
Anselm, returned the staff and ring, and would not be consecrated by any
one but their true primate.

Henry said that one archbishop must consecrate all or none, and the
whole Church was in confusion. Anselm, though now very old, offered to
go and consult the Pope, Paschal II., and the King consented; but when
Paschal decided that lay investiture was unlawful, Henry was so much
displeased that he forbade the archbishop to return to England.

The old man returned to his former Abbey of Bec, and thus remained in
exile till 1107, when a general adjustment of the whole question took
place. The bishops were to take from the altar the ring and staff,
emblems of spiritual power, and to pay homage to the king for their
temporal possessions. The election was to belong to the cathedral
clergy, subject to the King’s approval. The usual course became that the
King should send to the chapter a _congé d’élire_, that is, permission
to elect, but accompanied by a recommendation of some particular person;
and this nominee of the crown was so constantly chosen, that the custom
of sending a _congé d’élire_ has become only a form, which, however, is
an assertion of the rights of the Church.

A similar arrangement with regard to the presentation of bishops was
accepted in 1122 by Henry V. of Germany, who married Matilda, the
daughter of Henry I.

After the arrangement in 1107, Anselm returned to England, and good
Queen Maude came to meet him and show him every honor. His last year was
spent at Canterbury, in a state of weakness and infirmity, terminated by
his death on the 21st of April, 1109.

A gentle, studious man was the pious Anselm, our second Italian
archbishop, thrust into the rude combat of the world against his will,
and maintaining his cause and the cause of the Church with untiring
meekness and quiet resolution.


  _King of England_.
   William II.

  _King of France_.
   Philippe II.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   Heinrich IV.

   Urban II.

In the November of 1095 was seen such a sight as the world never
afforded before nor since. The great plain of La Limagne, in Auvergne,
shut in by lofty volcanic mountains of every fantastic and rugged form,
with the mighty Puy de Dome rising royally above them, was scattered
from one boundary to the other with white tents, and each little village
was crowded with visitants. The town of Clermont, standing on an
elevation commanding the whole extent of the plain, was filled
to overflowing, and contained a guest before whom all bowed in
reverence--the Pope himself--Urban II., whom the nations of the West
were taught to call the Father of Christendom. Four hundred Bishops
and Abbots had met him there, other clergy to the amount of 4,000, and
princes, nobles, knights, and peasants, in numbers estimated at 30,000.
Every one’s eye was, however, chiefly turned on a spare and sunburnt
man, of small stature, and rude, mean appearance, wearing a plain, dark
serge garment, girt by a cord round his waist, his head and feet bare,
and a crucifix in his hand. All looked on his austere face with the
veneration they would have shown to a saint, and with the curiosity with
which those are regarded who have dared many strange perils. He was
Peter the Hermit, of Picardy, who had travelled on pilgrimage to
Jerusalem; had there witnessed the dreadful profanities of the infidels,
and the sufferings they inflicted on the faithful; had conversed with
the venerable Patriarch Simeon; nay, it was said, while worshipping
at the Holy Sepulchre, had heard a voice calling on him to summon the
nations to the rescue of these holy spots. It was the tenth day of
the council at Clermont, and in spite of the severe cold, the clergy
assembled in the open air on the wide space in front of the dark stone
cathedral, then, as now, unfinished. There was need that all should
hear, and no building could contain the multitudes gathered at their
summons. A lofty seat had been raised for the Pope, and Peter the Hermit
stood by his side.

All was silence as the Hermit stood forth, and, crucifix in hand, poured
forth his description of the blasphemy of the infidels, the desolation
of the sacred places, and the misery of the Christians. He had seen the
very ministers of God insulted, beaten, even put to, death: he had seen
sacrilege, profanation, cruelty; and as he described them, his voice
became stifle, and his eyes streamed with tears.

When he ceased, Urban arose, and strengthened each word he had spoken,
till the whole assembly were weeping bitterly. “Yes, brethren,” said
the Pope, “let us weep for our sins, which have provoked the anger of
heaven; let us weep for the captivity of Zion. But woe to us if our
barren pity leaves the inheritance of the Lord any longer in the hands
of his foes.”

Then he called on them to take up arms for the deliverance of the Holy
Land. “If you live,” said he, “you will possess the kingdoms of the
East; if you die, you will be owned in heaven as the soldiers of
the Lord; Let no love of home detain you; behold only the shame and
sufferings of the Christians, hear only the groans of Jerusalem, and
remember that the Lord has said, ‘He that loveth his father or mother
more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoso shall leave house, or father, or
mother, or wife, or children, and all that he has, for My sake, shall
receive an hundredfold, and in the world to come eternal life.’”

“_Deus vult; Deus vult;_”--It is God’s will--broke as with one voice
from the assembly, echoing from the hills around, and pealing with a
voice like thunder.

“Yes, it is God’s will,” again spoke Urban, “Let these words be your
war-cry, and keep you ever in mind that the Lord of Hosts is with you.”
 Then holding on high the Cross--“Our Lord himself presents you His own
Cross, the sign raised aloft to gather the dispersed of Israel. Bear it
on your shoulders and your breast; let it shine on your weapons and your
standards. It will be the pledge of victory or the palm of martyrdom,
and remind you, that, as your Saviour died for you, so you ought to die
for Him.” Outcries of different kinds broke out, but all were for the
holy war. Adhemar de Monteil, Bishop of Puy, a neighboring See, first
asked for the Cross, and thousands pressed after him, till the numbers
of Crosses failed that had been provided, and the cardinals and other
principal persons tore up their robes to furnish more.

The crusading spirit spread like circles from a stone thrown into the
water, as the clergy of the council carried their own excitement to
their homes, and the hosts who took the Cross were beyond all reckoning.
On the right or wrong of the Crusades, it is useless as well as
impossible to attempt to decide. It was doubtless a spirit of religion,
and not of self-interest, that prompted them; they were positively the
best way of checking the progress of Mahometanism and the incursions of
its professors, and they were undertaken with far purer intentions than
those with which they were carried on. That they afterward turned to
great wickedness, is not to be denied; some of the degenerate Crusaders
of the latter days were among the wickedest of mankind, and the misuse
of the influence they gave the Popes became a source of some of the
worst practices of the Papacy. Already Pope Urban was taking on him to
declare that a man who perished in the Crusade was sure of salvation,
and his doctrine was still further perverted and falsified till it
occasioned endless evils.

Yet, in these early days, joined with many a germ of evil, was a
grandeur of thought, a self-devotion, and truly religious spirit, which
will hardly allow us to call the first Crusade other than a glorious and
a Holy War.

It was time, politically speaking, to carry the war into the enemy’s
quarters, and repress the second wave of Mahometan conquest. Islam
[Footnote: Islam, meaning “the faith;” it is a barbarism to speak of
the faith of Islam.] has often been called the religion of the sword,
and Mahomet and his Arabic successors, under the first impulse,
conquered Syria, Persia, Northern Africa, and Spain, and met their first
check at Tours from Charles Martel. These, the Saracen Arabs, were a
generous race, no persecutors, and almost friendly to the Christians,
contenting themselves with placing them under restrictions, and exacting
from them a small tribute. After the first great overflow, the tide had
somewhat ebbed, and though a brave and cultivated people, they were
everywhere somewhat giving way on their orders before the steady
resistance of the Christians. Probably, if they had continued in
Palestine, there would have been no Crusades.

But some little time before the eleventh century, a second flood began
to rush from the East. A tribe of Tartars, called Turcomans, or Turks,
embraced Mahometanism, and its precepts of aggression, joining with the
warrior-spirit of the Tartar, impelled them forward.

They subdued and slaughtered the Saracens of Syria, made wide conquests
in Asia Minor, winning towns of the Greek Empire beyond where the
Saracens had ever penetrated, and began to threaten the borders of
Christendom. They were very different masters from the Arabs. Active
in body, but sluggish in mind, ignorant and cruel, they destroyed
and overthrew what the Saracens had spared, disregarded law, and
capriciously ill-treated and slaughtered their Christian subjects and
the pilgrims who fell into their hands. It was against these savage
Turks that the first Crusade was directed.

Peter the Hermit soon gathered together a confused multitude of
peasants, women, and children, with whom he set out, together with
a German knight named Walter, and called by his countrymen by the
expressive name _Habe Nichts_, translated into French, _Sans avoir_, and
less happily rendered in English, _The Penniless_. They were a poor,
ignorant, half-armed set, who so little knew what they were undertaking,
that at every town they came to they would ask if that was Jerusalem.
Peter must either have been beyond measure thoughtless, or have expected
a miracle to help him, for he set out to lead these poor creatures
the whole length of Europe without provisions. They marauded on the
inhabitants of the countries through which they passed; the inhabitants
revenged themselves and killed them, and the whole wretched host were
cut off, chiefly in Hungary and Bulgaria, and Peter himself seems to
have been the only man who escaped.

A better-appointed army, consisting of the very flower of chivalry of
Europe, had in the meantime assembled to follow the same path, though in
a different manner.

First in name and honor was Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, one
of the most noble characters whom history records. He was pure in life,
devotedly pious, merciful, gentle, and a perfect observer of his word,
at the same time that his talents and wisdom were very considerable;
he was a finished warrior, expert in every exercise of chivalry, of
gigantic strength, and highly renowned as a leader. He had been loyal
to the Emperor Henry IV. through the war which had taken place in
consequence of his excommunication by Gregory VII. He had killed in
battle the rebellious competitor for the imperial crown, who, when dying
from a wound by which he had lost his right hand, exclaimed, “With this
hand I swore fealty to Henry; cursed be they who led me to break my
oath.” Godfrey had likewise been the first to scale the walls of Rome,
when Henry IV. besieged Gregory there; but he, in common with many
others of the besieging force, soon after suffered severely from malaria
fever--the surest way in which modern Rome chastises her invaders; and
thinking his illness a judgment for having taken part against the Pope,
he vowed to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Soon after, the Crusade was
preached, and Godfrey was glad to fulfil his vow with his good sword in
his hand, while Pope and princes wisely agreed that such a chieftain was
the best they could choose for their expedition.

Many another great name was there: Raymond, the wise Count of Toulouse;
the crafty Boemond, one of the Normans of Sicily; his gallant cousin,
Tancred, a mirror of chivalry, the Achilles of the Crusade; but our
limits will only allow us to dwell on those through whom the Crusade is
connected with English history.

The Anglo-Normans had not been so forward in the Crusade as their
enterprising nature would have rendered probable, but the fact was,
that, with such a master as William Rufus, no one felt that he could
leave his home in anything like security. Helie de la Flèche, Count de
Maine, [Footnote: Robert of Normandy had been betrothed in his childhood
to the heiress of Maine, but she died before she was old enough for the
marriage to take place. In right of this intended marriage, the Norman
Kings claimed Maine, though Helie was the next heir.] took the Cross,
and asked William for some guarantee that his lands should not be
molested. “You may go where you like,” said William; “I mean to have
your city. What my father had, I will have.”

“It is mine by right,” said Helie; “I will plead it with you.”

“I will plead, too.” said William; “but my lawyers will be spears and

“I have taken the Cross; my land is under Christ’s own protection.”

“I only warn you,” said William, “that if you go, I shall pay the good
town of Mans a visit, with a thousand lances at my heel.”

So Helie stayed at home, and in two years’ time was made a prisoner when
in a wood with only seven knights. Mans was seized, and he was brought
before the King. “I have you now, my master,” said William.

“By chance,” said Helie; “but if I were free, I know what I would do.”

“What would you do, you knave?” said William. “Hence, go, fly, I give
you leave to do all you can; and if you catch me, I ask nothing in

Helie was set at liberty, and the next year, while William was absent
in England, managed to retake Mans. The Red King was hunting in the
New Forest when he heard the tidings; he turned his horse’s head and
galloped away, as his father had once done, with the words, “He who
loves me, will follow.” He threw himself into a ship, and ordered the
sails to be set, though the wind was so boisterous that the sailors
begged him to wait. “Fools,” he said, “did you ever hear of a drowned
king?” He cruelly ravaged Maine, but could not take the city, and,
having been slightly wounded, returned to meet his fate in the New

After this story, no one could wonder that it required a great deal of
enthusiasm to persuade a man to leave his inheritance exposed to the
grasp of the Red King, who, unlike other princes, set at nought the
anathemas by which the Pope guarded the lands of absent Crusaders.
Stephen, Count de Blois, the husband of William’s sister Adela, took the
Cross. He was wise in counsel, and learned, and a letter which he wrote
to his wife is one of the chief authorities for the early part of the
expedition; but his health was delicate, and it was also said that his
personal courage was not unimpeachable; at any rate, he soon returned

One of the foremost of the Crusaders was, however, our own Norman
Prince, Robert Courtheuse. Every one knows the deep stain of
disobedience on Robert’s early life; and yet so superior was he to his
brothers in every point of character, that it is impossible not to
regard him with a sort of affection, though the motto of his whole
career might be, “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”

Never was man more completely the tool of every villain who gained
his ready ear. It was the whisper of evil counsellors that fired his
jealousy of his young brothers, and drove him into rebellion against his
father; the evil counsel of William led him to persecute Henry, loving
him all the time: and when in possession of his dukedom, his careless,
profuse habits kept him in constant poverty, while his idle good-nature
left unpunished the enormities of the barons who made his country

But in generosity he never failed; he heartily loved his brothers, while
duped and injured by them again and again; he always meant to be true
and faithful, and never failed, except from hastiness and weakness; and
while William was infidel, and Henry hypocritical, he was devout and
sincere in faith, though miserably defective in practice.

The Crusade was the happiest and most respectable period of his life,
and no doubt he never was more light-hearted than when he delivered over
to William the mortgage of his dukedom, with all its load of care, and
received in return the sum of money squeezed by his brother from all
the unfortunate convents in England, but which Robert used to equip his
brave knights and men-at-arms, assisted by some of the treasures of
his uncle, Bishop Odo, who had taken the Cross, but was too feeble and
infirm to commence the expedition.

The Crusaders were not sufficiently advanced in the knowledge of
navigation to attempt to enter Palestine by sea, and they therefore
traversed Germany, Hungary, and the Greek Empire, trusting to the
Emperor Alexis Comnenus to give them the means of crossing the
Hellespont. Alexis was in great dread of his warlike guests; the schism
between the Greek and Roman Churches caused continual heart-burnings;
and at the same time he considered, very naturally, that all the lands
in the East at present occupied by the Mahometans were his right. He
would not, therefore, ferry over the Crusaders to Asia till they had
sworn allegiance to him for all that they might conquer, and it was a
long time before Godfrey would comply. At last, however, on condition
that the Greeks would furnish them with guides and reinforcements, they
took the oaths; but as Alexis did not fulfil his part of the engagement,
they did not consider themselves bound to him.

At Nicea, the Crusading army, of nineteen different nations, of whom
100,000 were horse and 500,000 infantry, came in sight of the Turks,
and, after a long siege and several hotly-contested battles, won
the town. They continued their march, but with much suffering and
difficulty; Raymond of Toulouse had an illness which almost brought him
to the grave, and Godfrey himself was seriously injured by a bear, which
he had attacked to save the life of a poor soldier who was in danger
from its hug. He killed the bear, but his thigh was much torn, and he
was a long time recovering from the effects of his encounter.

At the siege of Antioch were their chief disasters; they suffered from
hunger, disease, inundations of the Orontes, attacks of the enemy, until
the living were hardly enough to bury the dead. The courage of many gave
way; Robert of Normandy retired to Laodicea, and did not return till he
had been three times summoned in the name of the Christian Faith; and
Peter the Hermit himself, a man of more enthusiasm than steadiness,
began to despair, and secretly fled from the camp in the night. As his
defection would have done infinite harm to the cause, Tancred pursued
him and brought him back to the camp, and Godfrey obliged him to swear
that he would not again leave them. In the spring of 1098 a great battle
took place, in which Godfrey, Robert, and Tancred each performed feats
of the highest prowess. In the midst of the battle, Tancred made his
esquire swear never to reveal his exploits, probably as a mortification
of his own vanity in hearing them extolled. After a siege of more than
seven months, Boemond effected an entrance by means of an understanding
with some of the Eastern Christians within the town. It was taken, with
great slaughter, and became a principality ruled by the Sicilian Norman.

Another great victory opened the way to Palestine, and the Crusaders
advanced, though still very slowly. During the march, one of the
knights, named Geoffroi de la Tour, is said to have had a curious
adventure. He was hunting in a forest, when he came upon a lion
struggling in the folds of a huge serpent; he killed the serpent, and
released the lion, which immediately fawned upon him and caressed him.
It followed him affectionately throughout the Crusade, but when he
embarked to return to Europe, the sailors refused to admit the lion into
their vessel. The faithful creature plunged into the sea to follow its
master, swam till its strength was exhausted, and then sank and was
drowned. [Footnote: Michaud’s _Histoire des Croisades_ gives this story
from two authorities.]

It was on a glowing morning of June, 1098, that the Crusading host,
Tancred first of all, came in sight of the object of all their
toils--the City set upon a Hill.

There it stood, four-square, on the steep, solid, fortification-like
rocks, rising from the rugged ravines, Kedron, Siloam, Jehoshaphat,
Gehenna, that form, as it were, a deep moat round the walls, and natural
defences, bulwarks planted by the Lord’s own hand around His own City,
while He was still her Tower of Salvation, and had not left her to the
spoiler. There stood the double walls, the low-built, flat-roofed,
windowless houses, like so many great square blocks, here and there
interspersed with a few cypresses and aloes, the mighty Tower of David,
the Cross of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and far above it, alas!
the dome of the Mosque of Omar, with its marble gates and porphyry
pillars, on the flat space on Mount Moriah, where the Temple had once
flashed back the sunlight from its golden roof.

Jerusalem, enslaved and profaned, but Jerusalem still; the Holy City,
the mountain whither all nations should turn to worship, the sacred name
that had been spoken with reverence in every holiest lesson, the term
of all the toils they had undergone. “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” cried the
foremost ranks. Down fell on their knees--nay, even prostrate on their
faces--each cross-bearing warrior, prince and knight, page and soldier.
Some shouted for joy, some kissed the very ground as a sacred thing,
some wept aloud at the thought of the sins they had brought with them,
and the sight of the tokens of Zion’s captivity--the Dome and the
Crescent. Then once more their war-cry rose as with one voice, and Mount
Zion and Mount Olivet echoed it back to them, “_Deus vult! Deus vult!_”
 as to answer that the time was come.

But Jerusalem was only in sight--not yet won; and the Crusaders had much
to suffer, encamped on the soil of iron, beneath the sky of brass, which
is part of the doom of Judea. The vineyards, cornfields, and olive-trees
of ancient times had given place to aridity and desolation; and the
Christian host endured much from heat, thirst, and hunger, while their
assaults on the walls were again and again repelled. They pressed
forward their attacks as much as possible, since they could not long
exist where they were.

Three great wooden towers were erected, consisting of different stages
or stories, where the warriors stood, while they were wheeled up to the
walls. Godfrey, Raymond, and Tancred each had the direction of one of
these towers, and on the fourteenth of July the general assault began.
The Turks, on their side, showered on them arrows, heavy stones, and
Greek fire--an invention consisting of naphtha and other inflammable
materials, which, when once ignited, could not be quenched by water,
but only by vinegar. It was cast from hollow tubes, and penetrating the
armor of the Christians, caused frightful agonies.

Raymond’s tower was broken down or burnt; Godfrey and Tancred fought
on, almost overpowered, their warriors falling round them, the enemy
shouting with joy and deriding them. At the moment when the Crusaders
were all but giving way, a horseman was seen on the Mount of Olives, his
radiant armor glittering in the sun, and raising on high a white shield
marked with the red Cross. “St. George! St. George!” cried Godfrey’s
soldiers; “the Saints fight for us! _Deus vult! Deus vult!_” and on they
rushed again in an ecstasy of enthusiasm that nothing could resist. Some
broke through a half-opened breach, some dashed from the wooden towers,
some scaled the fortifications by their ladders, the crowd came over
the walls like a flood, and swept all before them with the fury of that

There was a frightful slaughter; the Crusaders, brought up in a pitiless
age, looked on the Saracens as devoted to the sword, like the Canaanite
nations, and spared not woman or child. The streets streamed with blood,
and the more merciful chieftains had not power to restrain the carnage.
Raymond did indeed save those who had taken refuge in the Tower of
David, and Tancred sent three hundred in the Mosque of Omar his own
good pennon to protect them, but in vain; some of the other Crusaders
massacred them, to his extreme indignation, as he declared his knightly
word was compromised.

Godfrey had fought on as long as resistance lasted, then he threw
himself from his horse, laid aside his helmet and gauntlets, bared his
feet, and ascended the hill of Calvary. It was Friday, and the ninth
hour of the day, when the Christian chief entered the circular-vaulted
church, and descended, weeping at once for joy and for sorrow, into
the subterranean crypt, lighted with silver lamps--the Holy Sepulchre
itself, where his Lord had lain, and which he had delivered. Far
from the sound of tumult and carnage, there he knelt in humility and
thankfulness, and in time the rest of the chieftains gathered thither
also--Tancred guided by the chant of the Greek Christians who had taken
refuge in the church. Peter the Hermit sang mass at the altar, and thus
night sunk down on Jerusalem and the victorious Christians.

The following days confirmed the conquest, and councils began to be held
on the means of securing it. A King was to be elected, and it is said
that the crown was offered to Robert of Normandy, and declined by him.
Afterward, by universal consent, Godfrey de Bouillon was chosen to be
King of Jerusalem.

He accepted the office, with all its toils and perils, but he would
neither bear the title nor crown. He chose to leave the title of King of
Jerusalem to Him to whom alone it belonged; he would not wear a crown of
gold where that King had Worn a crown of thorns, and he kept only his
knightly helmet, with the title of Defender and Baron of the Holy

Well did he fulfil his trust, ever active, and meeting the infidels with
increasing energy wherever they attacked him; but it was only for one
year. The climate undermined his health; he fell sick of a fever, and
died in July, 1100, just one year from the taking of Jerusalem. He lies
buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, beneath a stone bearing
these words: “Here lieth the victorious Duke Godfrey de Bouillon, who
won all this land to the Christian faith. May whose soul reign with
Christ.” His good sword is also still kept in the same church, and was
long used to dub the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.


  _Kings of England_.
   Knute and his sons.
   William I.
   William II.
   Henry I.

  _Kings of France_.
   Henry I.
   Philippe I.
   Louis VI.

When, in 1016, the stout-hearted Edmund Ironside was murdered by Edric
Streona, he left two infant sons, Edmund and Edward, who fell into the
power of Knute.

These children were placed, soon after, under the care of Olaf
Scotkonung, King of Sweden, who had been an ally of their grandfather’s,
and had sent to England to request that teachers of the Gospel might
come to him. By these English clergy he had been baptized, and his
country converted, so that they probably induced him to intercede with
Knute for the orphan princes. Shortly after, a war broke out between
Denmark and Sweden, and Olaf, believing, perhaps, that the boys were
unsafe in the North, where Knute’s power was so great, transferred them
to Buda, to the care of Stephen, King of Hungary.

It was a happy home for them. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, was
a most noble character, a conqueror and founder of a kingdom, humble,
devout, pious, and so charitable that he would go about in disguise,
seeking for distressed persons. He was a great lawgiver, and drew up an
admirable code, in which he was assisted by his equally excellent son
Emeric, and was the first person who in any degree civilized the Magyar
race. His son Emeric died before him, leaving no children; and, after
three years of illness, Stephen himself expired in 1038. His name has
ever since been held in high honor, and his arched crown, half-Roman,
half-Byzantine, was to the Hungarians what St. Edward’s crown is to
us. After Hungary was joined to the German Empire, there was still a
separate coronation for it, and it was preserved in the castle of Buda,
under a guard of sixty-four soldiers, until the rebellion of 1848, when
it was stolen by the insurgents, and has never since been recovered.

After Stephen’s death, there was a civil war between the heathen Magyars
and the Christians, ending in the victory of the latter, and the
establishment of Andrew in the kingdom. This was in 1051, and it was
probably the sister-in-law of this Andrew whom the Saxon prince Edward
married. All we are told about her is, that her name was Agatha, and
that she was learned and virtuous.

In 1058, Edward, the only survivor of the brothers, was invited by his
cousin, the childless Confessor, to return to England, and there be
owned as Etheling, or heir to the crown. He came, but after his forty
years’ absence from his native country, his language, habits, and
manners were so unlike those of the English, that he was always known by
the name of Edward the Stranger.

After two years, both the Stranger and his wife Agatha died, leaving
three young children, Christina, Margaret, and Edgar, of whom the boy
was the youngest. His only inheritance, poor child, was his title of
Etheling, declaring a claim which was likely to be his greatest peril.
Edward the Confessor passed him entirely over in disposing of his
kingdom; and as he was but six, or, as some say, ten years old, Harold
seems to have feared no danger from him, but left him at liberty within
the city of London.

There he remained while the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings were
fought, and there, when the tidings came that the Normans had conquered,
the little child was led forth, while a proclamation was made before him
that Edgar was King of England. But it was only a few faithful
citizens that thus upheld the young descendant of Alfred. Some were
faint-hearted, others were ambitious; Edwin and Morkar said they would
support him if the bishops would; the bishops declared that the Pope
favored the Normans. The Conqueror was advancing, and from the walls of
London the glare of flame might be seen, as he burnt the villages of
Hertfordshire and Surrey, and soon the camp was set up without the
walls, and the Conqueror lodging in King Edward’s own palace of
Westminster. The lame Alderman Ansgard was carried in his litter to hold
secret conference with him, and returned with promises of security for
lives and liberties, if the citizens would admit and acknowledge King
William. They dreaded the dangers of a seige, and gladly accepted his
proposal, threw open their gates, and came forth in procession to
Westminster to present him with the keys, basely carrying with them the
helpless boy whom they had a few weeks before owned as their king.

Edgar was a fair child, of the old Saxon stamp of beauty, with flaxen
hair and blue eyes; and the Duke of Normandy, harsh as he usually was,
received him affectionately. Perhaps he thought of his own orphanhood at
the same age, and the many perils through which he had been preserved,
and pitied the boy deprived of his kingdom, without one faithful hand
raised to protect him, and betrayed to his enemies. He took him in his
arms, kissed him, promised him favors and kindness, and never broke the

For the next two years Edgar remained at the court of William, until the
general spirit of hatred of the Normans began to incite the Saxons to
rise against them. Cospatric, Earl of Durham, thought it best to secure
the safety of the royal children, and, secretly withdrawing Edgar and
his two sisters from the court, he embarked with them for the Continent,
intending to take them to their mother’s home in Hungary.

Contrary winds drove the ship to Scotland, and there the orphans were
brought to King Malcolm III. Never had an apparent misfortune been
in truth a greater blessing. Malcolm had but seven years before been
himself a wandering exile, sheltered in the court of Edward the
Confessor, after his father, the gracious Duncan, was murdered, and the
usurper Macbeth on the throne. He had venerated the saintly Confessor,
and remembered the untimely death of the Stranger, which had left these
children friendless in what was to them a foreign land; and he owed his
restoration to his throne to the Saxon army under old Siward Bjorn. Glad
to repay his obligations, he conducted the poor wanderers to his castle
of Dumfermline, treated them according to their rank, and promised to
assert Edgar’s claim to the crown.

He accordingly advanced into England, where, in many places, partial
risings were being made on behalf of “England’s darling,” as the Saxon
ballads called young Edgar, after his ancestor Alfred. It was, however,
all in vain: Malcolm did not arrive till the English had been defeated
on the banks of the Tyne, and the Normans avenging their insurrection
by such cruel devastation, that nine years after the commissioners of
Domesday Book found no inhabitants nor cultivation to record between
York and Durham.

There is some confusion in both the English and Scottish histories
respecting Malcom’s exertions in Edgar’s cause; indeed, the Border
warfare was always going on, and now and then the King took part in
it. At length William and Malcolm, each at the head of an army, met
in Galloway, and after standing at bay for some days, entered into a
treaty. Malcolm paid homage to the English King for the two Lothians and
Cumberland, and at the same time secured the safety of Edgar Etheling.
The boy solemnly renounced all claim to the English crown, engaging
never to molest the Conqueror or his children in their possession of it;
while, on the other hand, he was endowed with estates in England, and a
pension of a mark of silver a day was settled upon him. He could not at
this time have been more than fourteen--there is more reason to think he
was but ten years old--but the oath that he then took he kept with the
most unshaken fidelity, in the midst of temptations, and of examples of
successful perjury.

He returned with his friend to Scotland, where, the next year, his
beautiful sister Margaret consented to become the wife of their
host, the King Malcolm; but Christina, the other sister, preferred a
conventual life, though she seems for the present to have continued with
Margaret at Dumfermline.

Gentle Margaret, bred in some quiet English convent; taught by her
mother to remember the Greek cultivation and holy learning of good King
Stephen’s court; perhaps blessed by the tender hand of pious Edward the
Confessor, and trained by the sweet rose, Edith, sprung from the thorn,
Godwin; she must have felt desolate and astray among the rude, savage
Scots, wild chiefs of clans, owning no law, full of brawling crime and
violence, too strong to be kept in order by force, and their wives
almost as untamed and rude as themselves. Her husband was a rough,
untutored warrior, ruling by the main force of a strong hand, and asking
counsel of his own honest heart and ready wit, but perfectly ignorant,
and probably uncouth in his appearance, as his appellation of Cean Mohr
means Great-head.

But Margaret was a true daughter of Alfred, and the traditions of the
Alfred of Hungary were fresh upon her, and, instead of sitting down to
cower alarmed amid the turmoils round her, she set herself to conquer
the evils in her own feminine way, by her performance of her queenly
duties. She was happy in her husband: Malcolm revered her saintly purity
even more than he loved her sweet, sunny, cheerful manner, or admired
her surpassing loveliness of person. He looked on her as something too
precious and tender for his wild, rugged court, and attended to her
slightest bidding with reverence, kissing her holy books which he could
not read, and interpreting her Saxon-spoken advice to his rude Celts.
She even made him help her to wash the feet of the poor, and aid her in
disgusting offices to the diseased, and his royal treasury was open to
her to take all that she desired for alms. Sometimes she would pretend
to take it by stealth, and Malcolm would catch her by the wrists and
carry her to her confessor, to ask if she was not a little thief who
deserved to be well punished. In his turn he would steal away her books,
and bring them back after a time, gilt and adorned with beautiful

The love and reverence with which so bold a warrior treated her,
together with her own grace and dignity, had its effect on the unruly
Scottish chieftains, and not one of them ventured to use a profane word,
or make an unseemly jest before her. They had a rude, ungodly practice
of starting away from table without waiting for grace, and this the
gentle queen reformed by sending, as an especial gift from herself, a
cup of wine to all who remained. In after times the last cup was called,
after her, St. Margaret’s cup, or the grace-cup.

To improve the manners of the ladies, she gathered round her a number of
young girls, whom she brought up under her own eye, and she used to sit
in the midst of them, embroidering rich vestments for the service of
the Church, and permitting cheerful talk with the nobles whom she
admitted--all men of whose character she had a good opinion. She
endeavored to reform the Scottish Church which had become very sluggish,
and did little to contend with Highland savagery. There were only three
Bishops and those not with fixed sees. Margaret and her husband convened
a synod, when Margaret herself explained her views, and Malcolm
interpreted. It was not a usual order of things, but to themselves quite
satisfactory, and thenceforth the Scottish Church became assimilated
to the rest of the Western communion. It was a Saxon immigration: the
Lowlands became more English than England then was, and Scotch is still
more like Saxon than the tongue we speak. But the Celts bitterly hated
the change; and thenceforth the land was divided.

She was gay and playful; but her fasts and mortifications in secret were
very great. She cut off unnecessary food and sleep, and spent half the
night in prayer. She daily washed the feet of six poor people, and
washed, clothed, and fed nine orphan babes, besides relieving all who
came to ask her bounty, attending to the sick, and sending to ransom
captives, especially her own countrymen the English, lodging her rescued
prisoners in a hospital which she had founded, till they could be sent
to their own homes.

Leading this happy and holy life, Edgar left his sister about two years
after her marriage, upon an invitation from Philippe I. of France; but
he was shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, and coming to Rouen, was
kindly received by William, and remained with him. A close friendship
sprung up between the disinherited Etheling and Robert the heir
of Normandy, who was only a year or two older. Both were brave,
open-hearted, and generous, and their love for each other endured, on
Edgar’s side, through many a trial and trouble. Happy would it have been
for Robert had all his friends been like Edgar Adeling, as the Normans
called him. A few years more made Edgar a fine young man, expert in the
exercises of chivalry, and full of the spirit of enterprise: but he did
not join his friend in rebellion against his father; and after Robert
had quitted Rouen, never to return thither in his father’s lifetime, he
obtained permission from William to go on pilgrimage, gave his pension
for a fine horse, and set off for Italy with two hundred knights, fought
there, or in Sicily, against the Saracens, for some time, and then
continued his pilgrimage.

He returned through Constantinople, where many of the English fugitives
were serving in the Varangian guard. The Emperor Alexius Comnenus was
much pleased with him, and offered him high preferment if he would
remain with him; but Edgar loved his own country too well, and proceeded

He found a changed state of affairs on his arrival in Normandy. William
the Conqueror was dead, and Robert, with the aid of Henry Beauclerc,
just preparing to assert his right to the English crown against Red
William. Edgar Etheling offered his sword to assist his friend; but he
was shamefully treated. William came to Normandy, sought a conference
with Robert, cajoled or outwitted him into a treaty in which one of the
conditions was that he should withdraw his protection from both Edgar
and Henry, and deprive the former of all the lands in Normandy which
their father had given him.

Edgar retired to Scotland to his sister Margaret, whom he found the
mother of nine children, continuing the same peaceful, active life in
which he had left her, and her holy influence telling more and more upon
her court. Many Saxons had come to live in the lowlands of Scotland,
and the habits and manners of the court of Dumfermline were being fast
modelled on those of Westminster in the time of Edward and Edith.

Malcolm and William Rufus were at war, and Edgar accompanied his
brother-in-law to the banks of the Tyne, where they were met by William
and Robert. No battle took place; but Edgar and Robert, meeting on
behalf of the two kings, arranged a treaty of peace. In return for this
service, William permitted Edgar to return to England, being perhaps
persuaded by Robert and Malcolm that the English prince was a man of his
word, though to his own hindrance.

The peace, thus effected did not last long, most unhappily for Scotland.
Malcolm, with his two eldest sons, Edward and Edmund, invaded England,
and laid siege to Alnwick Castle, leaving the Queen at Edinburgh,
seriously ill. At Alnwick the Scottish army was routed, and Malcolm and
Edward were slain. The tradition is, that one of the garrison pretended
to surrender the castle, by giving the keys, through a window, on the
point of a lance; [Footnote: Curiously in accordance with this story we
find, in the Bayeux tapestry, the surrender of Dinan represented by the
delivery of the keys in this manner to William the Conqueror.] but that
he treacherously thrust the weapon into the eye of Malcolm, and thus
killed him. The story adds that thus the soldier acquired the name of
Pierce-eye, or Percy; which is evidently incorrect, since the Percys of
Alnwick trace their origin to William de Albini, who married Henry
Beauclerc’s second queen, Alice of Louvain.

An instant disturbance prevailed on the King’s death. His army fled in
dismay; his corpse was left on the ground, till a peasant carried it to
Tynemouth; his men were dispersed, slain, or drowned in their flight;
his young son Edmund, a stripling of eighteen or nineteen, just
contrived to escape to Edinburgh Castle. The first tidings that met him
there were, that his mother was dying; that she lay on her bed in great
anxiety for her husband and sons, and finding no solace except in holding
a fragment of the true Cross pressed to her lips, and repeating the
fifty-first Psalm.

The poor youth, escaped from a lost battle, and bearing such dreadful
tidings, was led to her presence at once.

“How fares it with your father and brother?” said she.

He feared to tell her all, and tried to answer, “Well;” but she
perceived how it was too plainly, and holding out the Holy Cross,
commanded him to speak the truth. “They are slain, mother--both slain!”

Margaret’s thoughts must have rushed back to the twenty-three years of
uninterrupted affection she had enjoyed with her lord, to her gallant
son, slain in his first battle, and onward to the unprotected state of
the seven orphans she left in the wild kingdom. Agony indeed it was; but
she blessed Him who sent it. “All praise be to Thee, everlasting God,
who hast made me to suffer such anguish in my death.”

She lingered on a few hours longer, while storms raged around. The wild
Celts hated Malcolm’s improvements and Saxon arts of peace, and his
brother Donald was placing himself at their head to deprive his lawful
brothers of their heritage. A troop of Highlanders were on their way to
besiege Edinburgh Castle, even when the holy Queen drew her last breath;
and her friends had barely time to admire the sweet peacefulness that
had spread over her wasted features, before they were forced to carry
her remains away in haste and secrecy, attended by her weeping,
trembling children, to Dumfermline Abbey, where she was buried.

Her children, seven in number (for Ethelred, the eldest, had died in
infancy), were left unprotected. Edmund was only eighteen, and timid
and gentle. Donald seized the crown; and the orphans remained in great
danger, till their brave uncle, Edgar Etheling, learnt the fatal
tidings, and, coming from England, fetched them all home with him,
giving the two girls, Edith and Mary, into the care of their aunt
Christina, who was now Abbess of Wilton. It was at some danger to
himself that he took the desolate children under his protection. A man
named Orgar accused him to William Rufus of intending to raise his
nephews to the English crown. A knight, named Goodwin, no doubt of Saxon
blood, no sooner heard the aspersion, than he answered by avowing the
honor and faithfulness of his Etheling, threw down his glove, and defied
Orgar to single combat--“God show the right.” It was shown; Orgar fell,
and Saxons and Normans both rejoiced, for the Etheling had made himself
much beloved.

The Crusade was preached, and Robert invited Edgar to join in it; but he
could not forsake the charge of his sister’s children, and was forced to
remain at home. Revolutions, however, continued in Scotland. Donald was
overthrown by Duncan, a son of Malcolm, born long before his marriage;
and the Lowland Scots were impatient of the return to barbarism. Duncan
was killed, and Donald restored. Edgar hoped that his nephews might
be restored. Edmund had chosen to renounce the throne and embrace a
religious life; but the next in age, Edgar and Alexander, were spirited
princes, and eager to assert their right.

The Etheling had never shed blood to regain his own lost kingdom; but he
was a true knight-errant and redresser of wrongs. He asked leave from
William to raise a Saxon army to restore his nephew to the Scottish
throne; and such was the reliance that even the scoffer William had
learnt to place on his word, that it was granted. The English flocked
with joy round their “darling,” wishing, without doubt, that it was for
the restoration of the Saxon, instead of the Scottish Edgar, that they
took up arms.

At Durham the monks of St. Cuthbert intrusted to the Etheling their
sacred standard--a curious two-winged ensign, with a cross, that was
carried on a car. It was believed always to bring victory, and at the
first sight of it Donald’s men abandoned him, and went over to Edgar.
Donald was made prisoner, and soon after died. Young Edgar assumed the
crown, sent for the rest of his family, and had a happy and prosperous

Had Edgar Etheling been selfish and ambitious, he might now, at the
head of his victorious Saxons, have had a fair chance of dethroning the
tyrant William; but instead of this, his thoughts were fixed on the Holy
Land; and embarking with his willing army, he came up with the Crusaders
just in time for the siege of Jerusalem, where the English, under “Edgar
Adeling,” fought gallantly in the assault in the portion of the army
assigned to Robert of Normandy.

Edgar and Robert returned together, and visited the Normans of Apulia,
where Edgar had been some years before. Robert here fell in love with
Sybilla, the beautiful daughter of the Count of Conversana, and soon
after married her. It was in the midst of the wedding festivities that
Ralph Flambard, lately the wicked minister of William Rufus, arrived
from England, having escaped from prison, bringing the news that his
master, the Red King, was slain, and Henry Beauclerc wore the crown. The
hasty wrath of Duke Robert was quickly fanned by Ralph Flambard, and he
set off at once to attack his brother, and gain the kingdom which Henry
had sworn should be his.

However, on his arrival, he at first only amused himself with conducting
his bride through his dukedom, and being feasted at every castle. When
two knights of Maine came to tell him that Helie de la Flèche was
besieging their castles, he carelessly thanked them for their fidelity,
but told them he had rather gain a kingdom, than a county, and so that
they should make the best terms they could.

Sybilla’s dowry enabled Robert to raise a considerable army, and he had
likewise the support of most of the barons whose estates lay both in
Normandy and England, and who therefore preferred that the two states
should be united; whereas those who had only domains in England held
with Henry, wishing to be free from the elder and more powerful nobility
of Normandy. The Anglo-Saxons were for Henry, who had relieved them from
some of their sufferings, and had won their favor by his marriage, which
connected him with the Etheling. Edith, the eldest daughter of the good
Queen Margaret, had remained with her aunt Christina in the Abbey of
Wilton, after her brother had been made King of Scotland. She was like
her mother in many respects; and her aunt wished to devote her to the
cloister, and secure her from the cruel sorrows her mother had endured,
under the black veil that she already wore, like the professed nuns, to
shield her from the insults of the Norman knights, or their attempts to
secure a princess as a bride. But Edith remembered that her father
had once said that he destined her to be a queen, and not a nun. She
recollected how her mother had moulded her court, and been loved and
honored there, and her temper rebelled against the secluded life in the
convent, so much that, in a girlish fit of impatience, she would, when
her aunt was out of sight, tear off her veil and trample upon it.

At length the tidings came that Henry, the new King of England, wooed
the Princess of Scotland for his bride.

A marriage of policy it evidently was; for, unlike the generous love
that had caused Malcolm to espouse the friendless exile Margaret, Henry
was a perjured usurper, and dark stories were told of his conduct in
Normandy. Christina strongly and vehemently opposed the marriage, as the
greatest calamity that could befall her niece: she predicted that, if
Edith persisted in it, only misery could arise from it; and when she
found her determined, tried to prove her to be already bound by the
promises of a nun.

Here Christina went too far: a court was held by Archbishop Anselm,
and it was fully proved that the Lady Edith was under no vows. She was
declared free to marry, and in a short time became the wife of Henry,
changing her own Saxon name to the Norman Matilda, or Maude. In the
first year of her marriage, when Henry was anxious to win the favor
of the English, he conformed so much to their ways that the scornful
Normans used to call him and his young wife by the Saxon names of Godric
and Godiva. The Saxons thus were willing to stand by King Henry, all
excepting the sailors, who were won by Robert’s spirit of enterprise,
and deserting, with their whole fleet, went to Normandy, and brought
Robert and his army safe to Portsmouth.

This happened just as Edith Maude had given birth to her first child,
at Winchester. Robert was urged to assault the city; but he refrained,
declaring such would be an unknightly action toward his sister-in-law
and her babe. Henry soon came up with his forces, the brothers held a
conference, and, as usual, Robert was persuaded to give up his rights,
and to make peace.

For the next four years Robert continued in Normandy, leading a gay and
careless life at first with his beautiful Sybilla; but she soon died,
leaving an infant son, and thenceforward his affairs grew worse and
worse, as he followed only the impulse of the moment. From riot and
drunkenness he fell into fits of devotion, fasting, weeping, and
praying; his poverty so great that he was at one time obliged to lie in
bed for want of garments to wear; and his dukedom entirely uncared for,
fields left uncultivated, and castles which were dens of robbers.

The Normans begged that some measures might be taken for their relief,
and King Henry came, and, with Robert’s consent, set things on a better
footing; but meanwhile he was secretly making arrangements with the
barons for the overthrow of his brother. In two years’ time he had
tempted over almost every baron to desert the cause of their master, and
in 1106 prepared to wrest the dukedom from him. The unfortunate Robert
came to him at Northampton, almost alone, forced himself into his
presence, and told him he would submit everything to him, if he would
only leave him the state and honor due to his birth. Henry turned his
back on him, muttering some answer which Robert could not hear, and
which he would not repeat. In a passion, Robert reproached him with his
ill faith and cruel, grasping temper, left him hastily, and returned to
Rouen, to make a last sad struggle for his inheritance.

He placed his child in the Castle of Falaise, obtaining a promise from
the garrison that they would give up their trust to no summons but his
own, or that of a trusty knight called William de Ferrières. Hardly a
vassal would rally round him in his dire distress; his only supporters
were two outlawed barons, whom Henry had driven out of England for their
violence, and besides these there were two faithful friends of his
youth, whose swords had always been ready in his cause, except in the
unhappy war against his father. One was Helie de St. Saen, the other
was Edgar Etheling, who quitted his peaceful home, and all the favor he
enjoyed in England as uncle to the Queen, to bear arms for his despoiled
and injured friend.

Henry invaded Normandy, and all the nobles came over to his side. Robert
met him before the Castle of Tenchebray, and the two armies prepared for
battle the next day. In the evening a hermit came to the English camp;
his head strewn with ashes, and a cord about his waist. He conjured
Henry to cease from his unnatural war with a brother who had been a
soldier of the Cross, “his brow still shining with traces of the crown
of Jerusalem,” and prevailed so far as to gain permission to go and
propose terms of peace to the Duke of Normandy. On coming into his
presence, the hermit begged to kiss the feet which had trodden the
pavement of the Holy Sepulchre, and then exhorted Robert to be contented
with the kingdom reserved for him in heaven. He declared Henry’s terms
very hard ones; but the Duke would have accepted them, but that he was
required to own himself vanquished; and against this his haughty spirit
revolted. He cast aside all offers of accommodation, and prepared for

The fight of Tenchebray took place on St. Michael’s Eve, 1106, the day
forty years since the Battle of Hastings; and when the Saxons in Henry’s
army turned Robert’s Normans to flight, they rejoiced as if they were
wiping out the memory of the defeat of Harold. Yet in the vanquished
army was their own Etheling, the darling of England, who was made
prisoner together with the unfortunate Robert, and led before Henry. It
was the last battle in which the two friends fought side by side; the
disinherited prince had fought for the son of the despoiler for the last
time, and soon they were to part, to spend the many remaining years of
their lives in a far different manner.

Robert was made to summon the surrender of Rouen, and Ferrières was sent
to receive Falaise, and the little William, heir of Normandy; but the
faithful garrison would not yield till Henry had conducted thither the
Duke himself, who called on them to surrender, lest the castle should be
taken by the wicked outlaw De Belesme. Little William was brought to the
King, and his tears and caresses for a moment touched Henry’s heart
so far that he gave the child into the charge of Helie de St. Saen,
Robert’s faithful friend, and husband of his illegitimate daughter.

It was the last time Robert of Normandy saw the face of his only child.
The boy went to Arques with the faithful Helie, while Robert was sent
to England, and imprisoned in Cardiff Castle. At first he was honorably
treated, and allowed to indulge in hunting and other amusements; but he
made an attempt to escape, and was only recaptured in consequence of his
horse having plunged into a bog, whence he could not extricate himself.
After this he was more closely guarded, and it is said that his eyes
were put out; but there is reason to hope that this may not be true. He
was under the charge of Robert, an illegitimate son of Henry, who had
married Amabel Fitzaymon, heiress of Gloucester, and who was a noble,
high-minded, chivalrous person, likely to do all in his power to cheer
his uncle’s captivity.

Here Robert from time to time heard of his son: first, how Henry had
sent messengers to seize him when St. Saen was absent from Arques; but
happily they came on a Sunday morning, when the child was at church,
and the servants, warned in time, carried him off to meet their brave
master. Then Helie chose to forfeit lands and castle rather than give up
his trust, and conducted his little brother-in-law from court to court,
wherever he could hope for security, till young William was grown up,
and raised an army, with the aid of Louis of France and Foulques of
Anjou, to recover his inheritance and rescue his father. But Foulques
was detached from the alliance by the betrothal of his daughter to
Henry’s son William, and the battle of Brenville ruined the hopes of
William of Normandy. Next, Robert learnt that the male line of the
Counts of Flanders had failed, and his son, as the representative of
Matilda, the Conqueror’s wife, had been owned as the heir of that rich
country. Shortly after, the captive Duke was one morning found weeping.
He had had a dream, he said, in which he had seen his son dying of a
wound in the hand. The tidings came in due time that William had been
accidentally pierced by the point of a lance in the hand, the wound had
mortified, and he expired at the end of a week. The prisoner still lived
on, till, in the twenty-eighth year of his captivity, death at length
released him. There is a story of his having starved himself to death in
a fit of anger, because Henry had sent him a robe after wearing it once;
but this is very improbable. Robert had reached a great age, and his
was a character which was likely to be much improved when absent from
temptation and with time for thought. He lies buried in Gloucester
Cathedral, under an effigy carved in bog oak, with the legs crossed, in
memory of his crusade, but unfortunately painted in such a manner as to
entirely to spoil its effect.

Edgar Etheling was soon allowed to ransom himself, and retiring to his
own estates, lived there in peace. His niece, the good Queen Maude,
lived on in the English Court, trying to imitate her mother in her
charities, and being, like her, much beloved by the poor, to whose wants
she ministered with her own hands; while her youngest brother David,
then a gay-tempered youth, used to laugh at her for such mean toils, as
he called them. No help, such as her father had given St. Margaret, did
Maude receive from her husband; she had only the pain of watching his
harshness, cruelty, and hypocrisy, during the eighteen years of her
marriage. She died in 1118, leaving three children--Maude, already
married to the Emperor of Germany, and William and Richard. William
Etheling is reported to have been as proud as his sister Maude, and to
have talked of using the churl Saxons as beasts of burden. But there
are stories more in his favor. He seemed generously disposed toward his
cousin, the son of Robert; and he met his death in an attempt to save
life, so that it may be hoped that he was not entirely unworthy of the
good old name of Etheling, which he bore as heir to the throne.

Our Etheling Edgar lived on in peace through all the troublous times of
Stephen, without again appearing in history, till his death is noted in
1159, ninety-three years after the Norman Conquest.

It has been the fashion to call him a fool and a coward; and no doubt
the ambitious men who broke oath after oath, and scrupled at no
violence, so esteemed one whose right was the inheritance over which
they quarrelled. Whether he was a fool, may be answered by showing
that, after he was fourteen, his name was never once brought forward by
factious men for their own purposes; that he conducted a treaty with
Scotland, and restored his nephew to the throne: and whether he was a
coward, no one can ask who has heard of him hastening to attack the
Saracens of Apulia, invading warlike Scotland, leading the English to
scale the walls of Jerusalem, and, lastly, fighting in a cause that
could only be desperate, in a battle that _must_ be lost, where he had
no personal interest, and only came to aid a distressed and injured
friend. No one can inquire into the history of the last of the race of
Alfred without acknowledging in him one of the most perfect examples of
true chivalry, in inviolate adherence to his word, and in redressing of
grievances, for which his good sword was ever ready, though for his own
rights it was never drawn, nor was one drop of English blood shed that
Edgar Etheling might reign.


Having traced the ancestry of our Norman kings from the rocks of Norway
and the plains of Neustria, let us, before entering on the new race
which succeeded them, turn back to the woodland birthplace of the house
of Plantagenet, on the banks of the Loire.

The first ancestor to whom this branch of our royal line can be traced
is Torquatus, a native of Rennes in Brittany, and keeper of the forest
of Nid de Merle in Anjou, for the Emperor Charles the Bald. Of Roman
Gallic blood, and of honest, faithful temper, he was more trusted by
his sovereign than the fierce Frank warriors, who scarcely owned their
prince to be their superior; and in after times the counts and kings his
descendants were proud of deriving their lineage from the stout Woodman
of the Blackbird’s Nest.

His son Tertullus distinguished himself in battle, and died early,
leaving an only son, named Ingelger, who was godson to the Countess de
Gastinois, and was brought up in her castle, the school of chivalry and
“courtoisie” to the young vassals of the county.

The lady was heiress of Gastinois in her own right, and as the monarch
had the power of disposing of his wards in marriage, she had been
obliged to give her hand to the seneschal of Charles the Bald, a person
whom she much disliked. One morning her husband was found dead in his
bed; and his nearest relation, whose name was Gontran, accusing her of
having murdered him, laid claim to her whole inheritance.

The cause was brought before Charles the Bald, at Chateau Landon; and
Gontran offered to prove his words by the ordeal of battle, taking
off his gauntlet and throwing it down before the Emperor. Unless the
countess could find a champion to maintain her innocence, or unless
Gontran was overthrown in single combat, she would be completely
ruined, adjudged a murderess, and forced to hide her disgrace in a
convent. None of the knights present would undertake her cause; and
after gazing round at them in despair, she fainted away.

Her godson Ingelger, who attended her as a page, could not bear the
sight of her distress, and, as a last hope, threw himself on his knees
before the Emperor, entreating that, though he was only sixteen, and in
the last grade of chivalry, he might be allowed to take up the gauntlet,
and assert the innocence of his godmother.

Permission was granted; and Ingelger, trusting to the goodness of
his cause, spent the night in prayer, went in early morning with the
countess to hear mass, and afterward joined her in giving alms to the
poor; then she hung a reliquary round his neck, and sent him to arm for
the decisive combat.

The whole court were spectators; the Emperor Charles on his throne, and
the accused widow in a litter curtained with black. Prayers were offered
that God would show the right; the trumpets sounded, and the champions
rode in full career against each other. At the first onset Gontran’s
lance pierced his adversary’s shield, so that he could not disengage it,
and Ingelger was thus enabled to close with him, hurl him to the ground,
and dispatch turn with a dagger. Then, while the lists rung with
applause, the brave boy rushed up to his godmother, and threw himself
into her arms in a transport of joy.

The countess, thus cleared, only desired to retire from the world, and
besought the Emperor’s consent to her bestowing all her lands on her
young defender. It was readily granted; and shortly after Charles
gave him, in addition, the government of the city of Angers, and the
adjoining county of Anjou, whence he derives his title. [Footnote: Many
similar tales of championship will occur to every one, in romance and
ballad. The Ginevra of Ariosto, our own beautiful English ballad of Sir
Aldingar, where it is an angel in the form of a “tinye boy,” who appears
to vindicate the good fame of the slandered and desolate queen, the “Sir
Hugh le Blond of Arbuthnot, in Scotland.” Perhaps this story may be the
root of all the rest. It is recorded in the “Gesta Andegavorum,” in the
compilation of which a descendant of Ingelger had a considerable share.]

Little more is known of the first Count of Anjou, except that he bravely
resisted the Northern pirates; and for his defence of the clergy of
St. Martin of Tours was rewarded by a canonry, and the charge of the
treasure of the chapter. He died in 888, and was succeeded by his son
Count Foulques le Roux, or the Red. From this time the house of Anjou
began to acquire that character of violence, ambition, and turbulence,
which distinguished the whole family, till, six hundred years after, the
last of the race shed her blood on the scaffold of the Tower of London.
It therefore seems appropriate here to give the strange, wild story to
which they were wont to attribute their family temper, though it is
generally told of one who came later in the line. It was said that the
count observed that his wife seldom went to church, and never at the
celebration of mass; and believing that she had some unholy dealings to
cause this reluctance, he put her to the proof, by causing her to be
forcibly held throughout the service by four knights. At the moment of
consecration, however, the knights found the mantle alone in their hands;
the lady had flown through the window, leaving nothing behind her but the
robe, and a fearful smell of brimstone!

From the witch-countess, as she was called, her sons were thought to
derive the wild energy and fierce mutual hatred which raged for so many
centuries, and at last caused the extinction of the line. Foulques le
Roux was certainly not exempt, for he was believed to be the murderer of
his own brother. His eldest son, Geoffrey, called the Beloved of Ladies,
died before him; and Foulques, who succeeded him, though termed “_le
bon_,” had little claim to such a title, unless it was derived from his
love of learning and his friendship with the monks of Tours.

He composed several Latin hymns for the use of the Cathedral, and always
took part in the service on high festivals in his canonical dress, as
hereditary treasurer.

Once, when King Louis IV. was present, he and his courtiers irreverently
amused themselves during the service by making jests on the clerical
count. A few days after, Louis received the following letter:

  “The Count of Anjou to the King of France. Hail. Learn, my liege
  Lord, that an unlettered King is no better than a donkey with
                                                      a crown on.”

In spite of his devotion, to St. Martin, Foulques sacrilegiously robbed
the treasury of two golden vessels, and did not restore them till a
severe illness brought him to the point of death. The Bretons accuse him
of a horrible crime. He married the widow of Duke Alan _barbe torte_,
who brought with her to Angers her infant son, the little Duke Drogo.
The child died, and the Bretons believed that, for the sake of retaining
the treasure brought by his subjects, his stepfather had murdered him,
by pouring boiling water on his head while his body was in a cold bath,
so that, the two streams mingling, it might appear that he had been only
placed in tepid water.

However this might be, a war broke out between the Angevins and Bretons,
and there was bitter hatred between the two races, which is scarcely
yet at an end. Indeed, an Angevin Count could hardly in these days be a
peaceable man, bordering on such neighbors as Brittany, Normandy, and
Poitou. The Angevins were much more French than any of these neighbors;
and their domain being smaller, they generally held by the King. They
were his hereditary grand seneschals, carving before him on great
occasions; and Geoffrey Grise gonnelle, who succeeded Foulques le Bon
in 958, was on the side of the crown in all the war with Richard the
Fearless of Normandy. His ogre-like surname of Grise gonnelle simply
means gray gown, and is ascribed by the chronicle of Anjou to the
following chivalrous adventure:

In the course of the war with Normandy, when Harald Bluetooth’s
Norwegians were ravaging France, and were encamped before the walls
of Paris, a gigantic Berserk daily advanced to the gate of the city,
challenging the French knights to single combat. Several who accepted
it fell by his hand; and King Lothaire forbade any further attempts to
attack him. Count Geoffrey was at this time collecting his vassals to
come to the King’s assistance; and no sooner did he hear of the defiance
of the Northman, than, carried away by the spirit of knight-errantry, he
bade his forces wait for him at Chateau Landon; and, without divulging
his purpose, rode off, with only three attendants, to seek the
encounter. He came to the bank of the Seine in early morning, caused a
miller to ferry him and his horse across the river, leaving his squires
on the other side, and reached the open space before the walls in time
to hear and answer the Northman’s daily challenge. The duel ended in the
death of the giant, and was witnessed by the French on the walls; but
they did not recognize their champion, and before they could come down
to open the gates, and thank him, he was gone. He had cut off the
enemy’s head, and, bidding the miller carry it to the King, crossed the
Seine again, met his squires at the mill, and rejoined his vassals at
Landon, without letting any one know what had happened.

Lothaire was very anxious to know who the champion was; but all the
miller could tell him was, that it had been a man of short stature, and
slight, active figure, a capital horseman, whom he was sure he should
know again anywhere. In due time the nobles collected with their troops,
and Geoffrey among them. When they were in full assembly, Lothaire
introduced the miller, bidding him say whether the knight-errant was
present. The man fixed his eyes on the Count of Anjou, who wore a
cassock of coarse gray wool over his armor. “Yes,” he said, “‘tis he--_à
la grise gonnelle_.”

It is also said that Geoffrey took his name from his frequent
pilgrimages to Rome, in which he wore the gray “palmer’s amice.” He was
a favorable specimen of the Angevin character, the knight-errant element
predominating over its other points, and rendering him honorable and
devout, and not more turbulent than could be helped by a feudal chief of
the tenth century. He died near Saumur, while besieging the castle of a
refractory vassal, in the year 987.

His son Foulques was surnamed Nerra, an old form of Le Noir, or The
Black. The name was derived from his complexion; but he merited it by
his disposition, for he was the most wicked of all the counts of Anjou.
He was very able, and, though little in stature, and lame, usually made
his wars turn out much to his advantage. In personal prowess he by no
means equalled his father; indeed, there was a Danish warrior, who
guarded the town of Saumur for the Count de Blois, that he dreaded
so much as always to gallop at full speed through the neighborhood,
whenever he was obliged to pass that way. However, he was not backward
to risk his person on occasion, and in a battle with the Count de Blois
at Amboise was severely wounded, his standard taken, and his troops
forced to retreat, when his vassal, the alert Herbert _Eveille chiens_,
of Mans, came up with fresh troops, fell on the men of Blois as they
were bathing and resting after the battle, cried the Angevin war-cry,
“Rallie! rallie!” [Footnote: “Go at then again!” evidently the origin of
“to rally.”] and taking them by surprise, turned the fortune of the day.
This victory extended Foulques’ domain to the bank of the Loire, and
enabled him to lay siege to Saumur. The citizens were too few to defend
both gates, and, by the advice of the monks of St. Florent, resolved to
commit the defence of one to the relics of St. Doucelin, which had the
reputation of working miracles. The reliquary was placed full before the
eastern gate, in the hope that either the Augevins would be afraid to
break through, or that some evil consequence might ensue on their
attempting it, and the Saumurois went to protect their western gate.
However, Foulques Nerra seldom let scruples interfere, and marched in
without regard to the saint. He was very cruel to his prisoners, and
with his own hand thrust out the eye of one who reproached him with his
unworthy treatment. He built new walls round Saumur, for which he was
obliged to destroy some buildings belonging to the monastery of St.
Florent, and as he set fire to them with his own hand, he called out to
the saint to beg his pardon, swearing to build him a much finer house.

It was the practice of Foulques Nerra to commit frightful crimes, and
then to expect to atone for them by vehemence in penance and devotion.
He was recklessly barbarous in his wars, and a cruel tyrant to his
people, filling his castle with miserable prisoners. He married a lady
named Hildegarde, a pious and gentle dame, whose influence had some
effect in calming his fierce passions and lessening his cruelty; but
their son Geoffrey Martel was as wild and violent as himself, though
with more generosity. A quarrel broke out, Geoffrey rebelled, was
conquered, and his father obliged him to come and ask pardon, crawling
on all fours, with a saddle on his back.

“So, sir, you’re tamed!” said the count, putting his foot on his neck.

“True! but by no one but my father,” the proud youth made answer. And
Foulques was so pleased, that he took him into favor again.

Foulques Nerra was a great founder of churches and convents, and made no
less than four pilgrimages to the Holy Land, in the third of which he
travelled part of the way with another ancestor of our kings, Robert the
Magnificent of Normandy. In the last, his penance exceeded all that had
yet been seen at Jerusalem. He stripped himself to his waist, and went
barefoot to the Holy Sepulchre, followed by two servants, whom he
obliged to beat him with rods, while at each step he exclaimed, “O Lord,
have pity on the wretched, perjured traitor Foulques!”

Such violent penances are repugnant to all our ideas, and if these rude
warriors believed that by them their crimes could be atoned, they were
grievously mistaken: but at the same time it must be remembered that
they were intended as tokens of repentance; and that, as we have seen in
the humiliation of the rebellious son of the count himself, it was the
fashion to punish the body, because the mind was too little cultivated
to be alone addressed.

Foulques III. died at Metz, in the course of his return from this
pilgrimage, in the year 1039. His son Geoffrey, called Martel, or the
Hammer, was a great warrior. William the Conqueror was his chief enemy,
and the curious challenge that once passed between them has been
related. Indeed, Henry I. of France, who was in dread of both, promoted
their quarrels by making a grant to William of all that he might be able
to win from Anjou; and the Angevins had given bitter offence to the Duke
of Normandy when he was besieging the town of Hambrières, by hanging up
hides over the walls, and shouting, “_A la pel! à la pel!_” (The hide!
the hide!) in allusion to his mother being the daughter of a tanner.

Their chief dispute was about the county of Maine--a name of evil omen
to their descendants. The only daughter of Count Herbert _Eveille
chiens_ (Wake-dog) was betrothed to Robert Courtheuse; and though she
died before the marriage took place, William claimed the county for his
son on Herbert’s death. Geoffrey, who was the feudal lord of Maine, took
the part of the next heir, and invaded Normandy. On the river Dive,
Geoffrey, with his chief followers, was imprudent enough to cross by a
narrow bridge, leaving the main body of the troops on the other side,
where they were attacked by William. The bridge gave way, and the
Angevin army was destroyed in the sight of its lord.

This disaster broke the spirit of Geoffrey Martel. He was still a
young man, but he was worn out with disappointment. He had been twice
married--the second time to a very learned lady, named Grecia, who is
famous for having bought a book of homilies for two hundred sheep,
twelve measures of cheese, as much barley and millet, besides eight
marks of silver and some marten skins. Neither wife brought him any
children: and at Whitsuntide, 1060, he sent for his two nephews, the
sons of his sister Ermengarde, and divided his lands between them;
giving Touraine and Landon to the eldest, Geoffrey the Bearded, and
Anjou to Foulques, called _Le Réchin_, or The Quarrelsome, then only
seventeen, whom he knighted. He died the next Martinmas, in the robes of
a monk; and thenceforth Foulques proved his right to his surname by his
perpetual wars and disputes with his brother. Geoffrey _le Barbu_ is
famed for nothing but his misfortunes, and for a curious suit which he
had with the monks of St. Florent respecting some woods on the banks of
the Loire, which they declared to have been granted them by Foulques
Nerra. They brought witnesses to support their claim, as they had no
title-deeds; and Geoffrey agreed to have recourse to the judgment of
Heaven, as a proof whether the testimony was true or false. The ordeal
was to be by hot water. A great fire was lighted in the Church of St.
Maurice, at St. Angers, and a cauldron of water placed on it, into which
was plunged an old forester who had borne witness for the convent.
Without appearing to suffer inconvenience from the heat, he repeated
what he had formerly said and Geoffrey was obliged to abide by the
result of the ordeal. The monks proceeded to cut down the woods, and
supplied their place by the vineyards which have ever since been the
pride of the Loire.

The strife respecting lay investiture was the ruin of the bearded
Geoffrey; he claimed the investiture of the Abbot of Marmoutiers as
a temporal baron, and thus caused himself to be excommunicated. His
vassals fell from him and he became an easy prey to his brother
Foulques, who threw him into the castle of Chinon, and kept him prisoner
for thirty years.

Foulques IV., le Réchin, was a scholar, and wrote a Latin history of
Anjou, of which, however, only a fragment is preserved. He was as wicked
as most of the race, fierce, violent, and voluptuous. He was no longer a
young man, and had been twice married and once divorced (one tradition
says that he was the husband of the demon-countess), when, in 1089, he
cast his eyes on the beautiful young Bertrade, daughter of the Count de
Montfort, and promised Duke Robert of Normandy to make over to him the
county of Maine, if he would use his influence with her parents to
obtain her for him.

The Count de Montfort would not give up his daughter to the wicked old
Angevin, till Robert, in his usual weak, good-natured fashion, had
yielded up a number of his own frontier castles as her purchase.
Foulques did indeed put Maine into his hands; but he did not keep it
long, for Helie de la Flèche set up his claim, and maintained it as we
have seen. Nor did Foulques gain much by his bargain; for Bertrade had
no perfection but her beauty, and, in the fourth year of her marriage,
abandoned him and her infant son, and went to the court of Philippe I.
of France, who had lately grown weary of his queen Bertha, the mother of
his four children, and had shut her up in the castle of Montreuil.

Philippe found some pretext for declaring that his first marriage and
Bertrade’s were both null and void; but not one French bishop could be
found to solemnize the disgraceful union he desired. He was obliged to
look beyond his own dominion, and it is said that it was the brother
of the Conqueror, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who consented to pronounce a
blessing over their marriage.

They were not, however, allowed to sin unmolested. Bertrade’s husband
made war on them on one side, Bertha’s brother on the other. Philippe’s
son Louis fled to the protection of the English; and the Pope laid them
under excommunication. For nine years, however, they persisted in their
crime; but at last they made a show of penitence; the King pretended to
renounce Bertrade, and they were absolved.

Bertrade had forsaken her child; but she was very anxious that he
should succeed his father, instead of his elder brother Geoffrey, a
high-spirited youth, whom the peasantry of Anjou regarded as their
friend and protector. She contrived to sow dissension between him and
his father, and at last caused him to be assassinated.

Then she chose to come to Angers to see her son heir of Anjou, and
actually brought the King with her; made Philippe and her husband behave
in the most friendly manner, eat at the same table, sleep on the same
couch; and Foulques was even base enough to sit on a footstool at
the feet of this woman, who could scarcely have been better than the
witch-lady herself.

After the death of Philippe she returned to Anjou, and went into the
Abbey of Fontevraud, where she practised such rigorous penances that her
health sank under them.

Her son, Foulques V., succeeded to the county in 1109, and was a much
better man than could have been expected from the son of such parents.
His wife was Sybil, daughter of Helie de la Flèche, an excellent,
gentle, and pious lady, whom he loved devotedly.

His eldest daughter, the Alix, or noble maid of Anjou, whose name seems
to have been Matilda, was betrothed to William the Etheling, son
of Henry I., in order to detach her father from the cause of the
unfortunate William Clito of Normandy.

Their marriage took place in the autumn of 1120, when the bridegroom was
seventeen and the bride twelve. It was celebrated with great splendor,
and all the Norman barons did homage to young William as their future
Duke. Afterward the English court repaired to Barfleur, there to embark
for their own island; but there was considerable delay in collecting
shipping enough for so numerous a party, and it was not possible to set
sail till the 25th of November. Just as the King was about to embark, a
mariner, named Thomas Fitzstephen, addressed him, with the offering of a
golden mark, saying that his father had had the honor of carrying King
William to the conquest of England, and entreating that his beautiful
new vessel, the Blanche Nef, or White Ship, with fifty good oarsmen,
might transport the present King.

Henry, always courteous, answered that his own arrangements were made,
but that no doubt his son, the Etheling, and his companions, would
gladly make the passage with him. The King then sailed, taking with him
the little bride, but leaving behind no less than eighteen ladies of the
highest rank--among them his niece, Lucy de Blois, Countess of Chester,
and his illegitimate daughter, Marie, Countess de Perche--also another
illegitimate son, named Richard, and all the gayest young nobles, who
were in attendance on the prince. Including the crew, the Blanche Nef
was expected to carry full three hundred persons across the Channel. All
were in high spirits, in that reckless state of mirth which the grave
Scots deem as the absolute presage of a fearful catastrophe, as well as
often its cause; and the young Etheling, with open-hearted, imprudent
good-nature, presented the crew with three casks of wine to drink to his
health and the success of the voyage. Such feasting took place, that all
the rest of the fleet had sailed; but Fitzstephen boasted that he would
overtake and outstrip every ship before they reached England. Some
prudent persons--among them young Stephen de Blois--left the ship; but
no one else had any fears; and though the night came on, there was a
bright moon, and the water was calm. Every sail was set; the rowers
plied their utmost strength, and thus it was with great violence that
the ship ran foul of the rocks called the Ras de Catte. A lamentable cry
reached the ships of the King’s fleet; but no one guessed the cause. A
boat was lowered; Fitzstephen handed in the prince and a few rowers, and
bade them make for the shore; but just as they had pushed off, William
heard the agonized calls of his sister, the Countess de Perche, and
commanded the rowers to put back and save her. The masterless, terrified
multitude no sooner saw the boat approach, than they all flung
themselves headlong into it; down it went under them, and the whole
freight perished. The ship itself soon likewise foundered, and there
only remained, clinging to the mast, a young baron, named Godfrey de
l’Aigle, and a butcher of Rouen. Fitzstephen, however, swam up, and
called out to ask if the King’s son had got off safe. When he heard
their answer, he cried aloud, “Woe is me!” and sank like a stone. It was
a cold night, and, after some hours, young Godfrey became benumbed, lost
his hold, and likewise sank; but the butcher, in his sheepskin coat,
held on till daylight, when he was picked up by some fishermen, and told
his piteous tale.

Next day the news came to England, and every one knew it but the King.
For some days no one could summon up resolution to inform him of this
surpassing calamity; but at last a little boy was sent to fall at his
feet, and, weeping bitterly, to tell him all. The stern heart was wrung:
Henry fell senseless on the ground; and he, whose gayety had once almost
hidden his hard, selfish nature, never smiled again.

The Count of Anjou sent for his daughter and her dowry. The daughter
came, and afterward became a nun at Fontevraud; but no dowry was sent
with her: and Foulques returned to the cause he had deserted, gave her
sister Sybil to William Clito, and held with him till his early death.

On the death of his countess, Foulques vowed to go on a crusade. His
eldest son Geoffrey was but seven years old, and before setting out, he
solemnly placed the boy on the altar of St. Julian at Angers, saying,
“Great Saint, I offer thee my son and my lands; be the protector of

Foulques maintained a hundred men-at-arms in Palestine for a year, at
his own expense, and signalized himself greatly. Baldwin I., King of
Jerusalem, the brother of Godfrey, had survived his brother eighteen
years, when, in 1118, the crown passed to Baldwin du Bourg, Count of
Essex, who, according to the usual fate of the Defenders of the Holy
Sepulchre, felt his health fast giving way under the influence of toil,
anxiety, and climate. He had been twice a prisoner, and had spent seven
years in captivity among the Infidels; but his kingdom had been bravely
defended by the knights of the Temple and Hospital, aided by Crusaders
from the West. Of these armed pilgrims the Count of Anjou was so much
the most distinguished, that, after his return, a knight was sent to
him by King Baldwin, to propose to give him the hand of Melisende, the
eldest princess of Jerusalem, and with it that crown of care and toil.

The crusading spirit was, however, strong in the house of Anjou, and
so continued for full three hundred years: and though Foulques was
considerably past forty, he accepted the offer, gave up his country to
his son Geoffrey, and set forth in 1127, married Melisende, and, four
years after, became King of Jerusalem. It was an unloving marriage; but
he was much respected and beloved, and his biographer observes that,
though he had red hair, he had not the faults common in men of that
complexion. He was continually in the field at the head of his knights,
and won several victories, one of which gained the town of Caesarea
Philippi. He was killed by a fall from his horse, near Acre, in 1142;
and left two sons by Melisende--Baldwin and Amaury, who afterward both
reigned at Jerusalem.


Henry Beauclerc was really a great King. His abilities were high even
for one of the acute Normans, and he studied at every leisure moment. He
translated Aesop’s fables, not from Latin into French--which would not
have been wonderful--but from Greek to English. He seems to have had
a real attachment to the English, feeling that, in their sturdy
independence, he had the best preservative from the “outre cuidance” of
the Normans. Indeed, the English mind viewed Brenville as making up for
Hastings. He wrote a book of maxims, even on etiquette; and though his
heart was almost as hard as those of his brothers, his demeanor was far
more gracious: moreover, he felt remorse, as his brothers never did, nor
his father till his death. After he lost his son he had many a night of
anguish; when all the men of his kingdom seemed to come and reproach
him with their sufferings. But his reign, on the whole, was a
breathing-time, when he carried out his father’s policy, restrained the
barons, and raised the condition of the English. He was also greatly
respected in other countries, and had many royal visitors, among the
chief of whom may be reckoned his brother-in-law, David of Scotland, and
Louis _l’éveillé_, the prince of France. In the Conqueror’s lifetime
Henry and Louis had met at the court of France, where they had
quarrelled at chess, and Henry, in a passion, had struck Louis a violent
blow. His elder brother, Robert, then in exile in Paris, came in at the
moment, and was so alarmed for the consequences, that he dragged Henry
down stairs, called for their horses, and galloped away, never resting
till he had seen the youth safely on the bounds of Normandy, where
Robert himself might not enter. King Philippe’s anger is said to have
been one of the causes of the war in which William I. met with his

Now, however, Louis was a fugitive from the persecution of the wicked
Bertrade, and found shelter and protection in England till his father
became reconciled to him.

Another royal visitor was Sigurd the Crusader, king of part of Norway.
Eystein, Sigurd, and Olaf had been left orphans by the death of their
father, King Magnus, when Eystein, the eldest, was only fifteen.
According to the law of Norway, they all possessed an equal right to the
kingdom; but this led to no disputes, and they lived together on the
most friendly terms. Eystein was peaceably disposed and thoughtful,
though lively; Sigurd, though enterprising and spirited, had a strain of
melancholy which affected him when he was not actively employed: and one
morning, Eystein, observing that his looks were gloomy, drew from him
that he had had a dream. “I thought,” he said, “that we brothers were
all sitting on a bench in front of Christ Church in Drontheim, and our
kinsman, Olaf the Saint, came out in royal robes, glancing and splendid,
and his face bright and joyous. He took our brother Olaf by the hand,
saying, ‘Come with me, friend,’ and led him into the Church. Soon after,
King Olaf the Saint came forth again, but not so bright as before. He
came to thee, brother, and led thee with him into the church. Then I
looked for him to come to me and meet me; but it was not so: and I was
seized with great sorrow, and was altogether without strength; so that I

Eystein interpreted the dream to mean that Olaf would die young and
innocent; that the Saint was less radiant in coming for himself, because
of his sins; and that Sigurd would be the longest-lived of the three. It
fell out much as the dream had presaged, for Olaf died in early youth.

Sigurd had the restless spirit of the Sea-kings, and became a Crusader.
He spent the first winter in England, the second in aiding the
Christians of Spain against the Moors: he visited the Normans in Sicily,
and, as the King of the whole Northern race, conferred on Count Roger de
Hauteville the title of King of Sicily, and then proceeded to Jerusalem.

Baldwin I. received him splendidly, and availed himself of his aid to
capture the town of Zidon. He left the Holy Land, taking as his reward
a piece of the wood of the True Cross, and returned through
Constantinople. There Alexius Comnenus gave him a magnificent reception,
which he tried to requite by equal Ostentation, repeating Robert of
Normandy’s invention of the golden horse-shoes. He was entertained with
grand games in the Hippodrome, where the ancient Greek statues were much
admired by his followers and their Vaeringer brethren, who took them for
their own ancient Asagods. On his departure, he gave Alexius all his
ships, the figure-heads of which were made ornaments for one of the
churches at Constantinople; and some of the presents which he brought
away are still extant in Norway. In one little remote church there has
lately been found a curious Byzantine picture, representing the rescue
of the True Cross from the Persians by the Emperor Heraclius.

In the meantime, Eystein was leading a wise, beneficent, peaceable, and
pious life in Norway. But their different dispositions are best shown
in a discussion that the old Norwegian chronicle has recorded as taking
place soon after Sigurd’s return. The two brothers were, in the ancient
fashion, sojourning in the house of one of their bonders, and keeping
open table, when, one evening the ale was not good, Sigurd fell into one
of his moods of gloomy depression, and the guests sat round silent.

The good-natured Eystein said, “Let us fall on some jest to amuse
people; for surely, brother Sigurd, all people are well pleased when we
converse cheerfully.”

“Do you talk as much as you please, but let me be silent,” returned

“Nay,” said Eystein, “let us follow the old custom over the ale-table
of making comparisons. I will soon make it appear that, different as we
are, we are both equal, and one has no advantage over the other.”

He succeeded in drawing his brother into the game; and Sigurd, who was
the taller and stronger, answered, “Do you remember that I was always
able to break your back, if I had pleased, though you are a year older?”

“Yes,” said Eystein; “but you were not so good at games that need

“Do you remember that I could drag you under water, when we swam
together, as often as I pleased?”

“Yes,” returned Eystein; “but I could swim as far as you, and dive as
well; and I could run on snow skates so well that no one could beat me,
and you could no more do it than an ox.”

“I think,” said Sigurd, “you could hardly draw my bow, even if you took
your foot to help.”

“I am not so strong at the bow, but there is less difference in our
shooting near.”

“Beside,” continued the tall Sigurd, “a chief ought to be taller than
other men, easily seen and distinguished.”

“Nay,” said Eystein, who was the handsomest man in Norway, “good looks
may be an equal distinction. Besides, I am more knowing in the law, and
my words flow more easily.”

“Well, you may know more law quirks. I have had something else to do,”
 said the rough warrior. “No one can deny you a smooth tongue; and some
say you do not keep to what you promise--which is not kingly.”

“Yes, I promise satisfaction to one party before I have heard the other,
and then am forced to take something back. It would be easy to do like
you--promise evil to all. I never hear any complaint of your not keeping
this promise to them.”

“Ay, and while I made a princely voyage, you sat at home like my
father’s daughter.”

“There you take up the cudgel,” said Eystein, merrily; “but I know how
to answer. If I did sit at home, like my father’s daughter, you cannot
deny that, like a sister, I furnished you forth.”

Sigurd continued: “I was in many a battle in the Saracens’ land, and
always came off conqueror; I won many precious goods, the like of which
were never seen here before; and I was always the most highly esteemed
where brave men met: while yours is but a home-bred renown. I went to
Palestine, I came to Apulia; but I did not see you there, brother. I
gave Roger the Great the title of King. I won seven battles; but you
were in none of them. I was at our Lord’s grave; but I did not see you
there, brother. I went to Jordan, where our Lord was baptized. I swam
across the river; but I did not see you there. A willow grew on the
bank, and I twisted the boughs into a knot, which is waiting there for
you; for I said that you should untie it, and fulfil the vow that is
bound up in it.”

“I have little to set against this,” said Eystein; “but if you fought
abroad, I strove to be of use at home. In the north of Vaage I built
fish-houses, so as to enable the poor people there to earn a livelihood.
I built a priest’s house, and endowed a Church, where before all the
people were heathen; and therefore I think they will recollect that
Eystein was once King of Norway. The road from Drontheim goes over the
Dofrefield, and often travellers had to sleep in the open air; but
I built inns, and supported them with money, and thus wayfarers may
remember that Eystein has been King of Norway. Agdaness was a bare
waste, and no harbor, and many a ship was lost. Now, there is a good
harbor, and a Church. I raised beacons on the high ground; I built a
royal hall in Bergen, and the Church of the Apostles; I built Michael’s
Church, and a Convent beside. I settled the laws, so that all may obtain
justice. The Jemteland people are again joined to our realm, and more by
kind words than by war. Now, though all these are but small doings, yet
I am not sure if the people of our land have not been better served by
them than by your killing blue men in the land of the Saracens. Your
deeds were great; yet I hope what I have done for the servants of God
may serve me no less for my soul’s salvation. So, if you did tie a knot
for me, I will not go to untie it; and if I had been tying a knot for
you, you would not have been King of Norway, when with a single ship you
came into my fleet.”

Eystein conferred many more benefits on his country, and on individuals
many acts of kindness--such as his undertaking by his conversation to
cheer and console one of his friends who had been disappointed in love.
This excellent King died at thirty-five, and it was said that there was
never so much mourning in Norway. Sigurd’s fate was sad; the shadow
predicted in his dream fell on him. His moodiness increased to
distraction, and nothing could be more wretched in those early times
than the condition of an insane king or of his country. He grew
extremely violent, and often did fearful mischief; but he still
preserved his generous spirit, and could always, even at the worst, be
tamed by any one who would boldly resist his fury. Happily, this only
lasted six years, for he died in 1330, at the age of forty.

This has been a long digression; but as Sigurd was the last of our
Northern visitors, we hope it may be pardoned for the sake of its

Henry I. gave his only daughter Maude in marriage to Henry V., Emperor
of Germany, a rebellious son, who had taken advantage of the sentence
of excommunication on his father, to strip him of his domains, and
absolutely reduce him to beggary. Maude was married to Henry V. at
eleven years old, when she was so small that she could not stand under
the weight of her robes, and the Archbishop of Cologne was obliged
to hold her in his arms during the celebration of the wedding. The
principal favorites of the King of England were at this time the sons
of his sister Adela, three in number: Theobald, Count de Blois and
Champagne; Stephen, Count de Mortagne, whom the King married to Matilda,
heiress, of Boulogne, the niece of good Queen Maude, and Henry, whom he
made Bishop of Winchester.

Henry was persuaded to marry again, and his queen was the beautiful and
gracious Alice of Louvaine, a fair young girl of eighteen. His daughter
Maude returned from Germany in 1125; but there were strange stories that
her husband, the Emperor, was not dead, but had fled in secret from his
court, to dwell as a hermit in penance for his crimes. His funeral had,
however, been performed with full solemnity. King Henry regarded her as
in truth a widow, and was very anxious to bestow her a second time in
marriage. He caused his vassals to take an oath of fealty to her as
his heiress, and foremost in making this promise were David, King of
Scotland--as Earl of Huntingdon, in right of his wife, Waltheof’s
daughter--and Stephen de Blois, Count de Mortagne and Boulogne; while
Henry engaged at the same time that she should not be married without
the consent of the Barons.

Very soon, however, he broke his word, with the desire of conciliating
those troublesome neighbors of Normandy, the counts of Anjou. Foulques
V. showed himself so much inclined to befriend the son of Robert, that
Henry resolved to attach him to his own party, and proposed to him to
give Maude to his son Geoffrey, whom he desired should be sent at
once to Rouen, that he might see him, and confer on him the order of

Young Geoffrey was only fifteen, but, unlike his ancestors, was very
tall, and had also inherited the beauty and grace of his grandmother
Bertrade. King Henry was delighted with him, and after examining him
closely on all the rules of chivalry, as well as on other points, to
which Geoffrey replied with much acuteness, showing himself a good
scholar even in Latin, resolved to make him his son-in-law. His
knighthood was conferred with the greatest splendor and all the
formalities of the time. The first day he entered the bath, the emblem
of purity, and then was arrayed in fine linen, a robe woven with gold,
and a purple mantle. A Spanish horse was presented to him, and he was
armed in polished steel, and with a helmet covered with precious stones;
his gilded spurs were buckled on, and his sword and lance given to him.
He sprung on horseback without putting his foot in the stirrup, and six
days were spent in jousting with twenty-nine young nobles, who were
knighted at the same time. At the close of the tourney, Henry conferred
on him the accolade, or sword-blow, which was the chief part of the

Henry had great difficulty in making his daughter consent to the
marriage. Whether she believed her husband to be alive, or whether it
was from pride, or dislike to take so mere a boy as her bridegroom, her
resistance was long; and it was not till 1127 that she was brought by
her father to Mans, where the wedding took place, just before Geoffrey’s
father departed for Palestine.

Maude was proud and disdainful, and treated her young husband in the
most contemptuous way; and Geoffrey avoided her in return, spending most
of his time in hunting in the woods, where he used to wear the spray of
broom that became the cognizance of his house, and caused their surname
of Plantagenet. Perhaps it was in contrast to his wife’s haughtiness
that he chose to adopt this plant, considered as the emblem of humility,
and reminding her that she had married the descendant of the woodman

Geoffrey seems to have been of a gay, lively temper, associating freely
with all who came in his way, and often doing kind actions. Once, as on
Christmas-day he was entering the Church of St. Julian at Mans, he met a
poor priest, meanly clad.

“What tidings?” said the Count.

“Glad tidings,” returned the priest.

“What are they?”

“‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given,’” the clerk made answer;
and Geoffrey was so struck with his appropriate manner, that he gave him
a valuable canonry.

Geoffrey was hunting in a forest, when he lost his way, and was
benighted; and, meeting a charcoal-burner, asked the road to Loches. The
man offered to become his guide, and accordingly the Count took him up
on his horse, talking gayly, and asking what people said of the Count.
The peasant answered that the Count himself was said to be friendly and
free-spoken, but his provost committed terrible exactions, of which he
gave a full account. Geoffrey listened, and in the morning rode into
the town of Loches with the charcoal-burner still _en croupe_ (if his
haughty empress was there, he must have enjoyed provoking her), and
there he summoned all his provosts, himself examined their accounts, put
an end to their exactions, and ended by making the charcoal-burner a
free man instead of a serf.

There is a report that Maude’s first husband came to Angers in his
penance-garb, and on his death-bed told his confessor who he was; that
the confessor fetched the empress; and that she attended him in secret
till his death; but the truth of this tale is very uncertain. Maude had
been six years married to Geoffrey when her first child was born, Henry,
called by the Normans Fitz-Empress.

This event in some degree cheered the latter years of his grandfather,
King Henry, whose sin had found him out, in bitter remorse and fearful
dreams. Nobles, peasants, and clergy seemed in turn to be standing round
his bed, calling him to account for his misdeeds toward them. Many other
victims of his ambition might have been conjured up by his remorse--such
as the citizen of Rouen, spared by Robert, whom Henry threw from the top
of a high tower, whither he had treacherously invited him; the Norman
barons, with whom he had broken his faith; his gallant, generous
brother, so cruelly betrayed and imprisoned; his persecuted nephew,
William Clito; the unhappy troubadour, Lucas de Barré, whom he had
blinded, for writing a satire on him, and who dashed out his brains
in despair on the prison wall; and--almost the worst of all--the poor
children of his illegitimate daughter Juliana, left to the ferocious
revenge of Raoul de Harenc, by whom their eyes were put out and their
noses cut off. With such recollections as these to haunt his later
years, no wonder Henry’s nights were times of agony and wakefulness.

He tried to lose the thought of these horrors in activity, and was
constantly passing between England and Normandy. It was in the latter
country that he made his fatal supper of lampreys, after he had been
fatigued with hunting all day. A violent fever came on at night, and he
died on the 1st of December, 1135.

The court of Scotland presented a far different scene. David, the
youngest of the children of St. Margaret, inherited the crown in 1124,
on the death of his brother Alexander, and was treading in the same
course as his mother, his sister Maude, and his brethren. He belonged,
indeed, to a family of saints, and brought piety, firmness, cultivation,
and a merciful temper to improve his rugged country. He was a brave
warrior: but he loved the arts of peace, and one of his favorite
amusements was gardening, budding and grafting trees.

He administered strict justice, but shed tears as he ordered an
execution; and was so tender-hearted and ready to hear the poor, that he
would take his foot out of the stirrup when just ready for the chase, to
listen to the humblest complaint. Though lively and social in temper, he
spent some hours every evening alone, in prayer and meditation.

His wife was Matilda, daughter of that Earl Waltheof who was executed by
William I. She had previously been married to a Norman knight, Simon de
St. Liz, who died on pilgrimage, leaving her with two sons, Simon and
Waltheof. Two sons were likewise born to David; but the eldest was
killed in his infancy by an accident: and shortly after David took home
as a companion to the little Henry, Aelred, the son of a Saxon priest at

These four boys were brought up “in the nurture of good learning,” and
in godliness; but their different tempers soon showed themselves. Simon,
the little Earl of Northampton, while a child, was always playing at
building castles, and bestriding the “truncheon of a spear,” as a
war-horse. Waltheof was a builder, too, but his were churches, and his
delight was in making the sign of the Cross and singing chants. It was
still the same as they grew older; Waltheof ever drew more apart, and
spent more time in reading and prayer. His stepfather, the King, would
take him to the chase, and tell him to bear his bow; but he often
found his bow in the hands of another, and, after a search, discovered
Waltheof reading or praying in a secret glade, or under a tree. “Your
boy,” he said to the Queen, “will either die young, or leave us for the

Aelred was Waltheof’s chief friend; but, though very pious, he was more
of a scholar, and read both romances of King Arthur and such works
of Cicero as had found their way to Scotland. He was lively in
conversation; David was fond of him, and used to tell him stories of his
own younger days; and Aelred became the loving chronicler of this happy

Prince Henry had the same holy temper, coupled with a bold spirit, that
was needed by the heir of Scotland, and showed himself full of the noble
qualities of his father and uncles. He was the true knight of the party,
as bold as a lion, yet as strict and devout as a monk, even in the camp.
Simon was no more than a rough, bold, tyrannical earl, and soon took up
his abode in England.

Ere long Aelred became a monk, and Waltheof was not slow in following
his example. Both entered the Cistercian order, and led holy lives,
avoiding all preferment--a difficult matter for Waltheof, stepson to one
king and cousin to another. His brother Simon took such offence at his
lowliness, that he actually threatened to burn down the convent of
Waldon, where Waltheof was living, because he thought it shame to see a
descendant of Siward a common monk in a poor monastery.

However, in time, promotion was thrust on them. Aelred became Abbot of
Rivaux, and Waltheof Abbot of Melrose.

Of the King and his son, more will be said in the next chapter.


  _King of England_.
   1135. Stephen.
   1137. Louis VII.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1124. David I.

  _Kings of France_.
   1107. Louis VI.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1125. Lothar II.
   1138.  Konrad II.

Earl Egbert of Gloucester was the son of Henry Beauclerc and of a
beautiful Welsh princess named Nesta, who had fallen into his hands in
the course of the war which he maintained for his brother William Rufus,
on the borders of Wales. Henry was much attached to the boy, and gave
him a princely education, by which he profited so as to become not only
learned, but of a far purer and more chivalrous character than was often
to be found among the great men of his time.

Henry I. provided for him, by giving to him the hand of the Lady Amabel
Fitzaymon, heiress of Glamorgan, and a ward at the disposal of the
crown, in whose right he became Earl of Gloucester.

Robert and his cousin, Stephen de Blois, both attended the death-bed of
Henry I., and heard his dying words: “I leave to my children whatever I
have gained. Let them do justice to those I have injured.”

No sooner had the King expired, than Stephen set off for England, where
he was already very popular, partly on account of his courteous manners
and goodly person, partly for the sake of his wife, Matilda of Boulogne,
who was treading in the steps of her aunt, the good Queen Maude. He
landed at Dover in the midst of a frightful thunder-storm, and though he
found that city and Canterbury closed against him, he met with a joyful
reception in London and Winchester. He bribed Hugh Bigod, the late
King’s seneschal, to swear that Henry had on his deathbed disinherited
Maude, and left the kingdom to him; and the Archbishop, William de
Corboil, was credulous enough to believe the tale, and crown the
usurper; but discovery of the falsehood hastened the old man’s death.

While this was passing, Robert of Gloucester was conducting the funeral
of his father; causing his body to be _salted_, instead of embalmed, and
bringing it to England to be buried at Reading, an abbey that Henry had
built and endowed for his burial-place. It is now completely ruined, and
few vestiges remain to show what the buildings were, far less any trace
of the tomb of the scholarly and cruel son of the Conqueror.

The Empress Maude was at the same time attending her husband, Geoffrey
Plantagenet, in a dangerous illness; and thus Stephen was enabled
to obtain possession of both England and Normandy, and received
the submission of all the nobles. The Earl of Gloucester, thinking
resistance vain, took the oath of fealty; reserving, however, the right
of recalling it if any injury was offered to him or to his property.

The next year Geoffrey de Bel raised an army, and entered Normandy; but
was met there by Stephen, wounded, and forced to retreat, leaving only
a few castles still holding out for the Empress. Stephen was besieging
that of Bertran, with an army composed partly of Normans and partly of
natives of his wife’s county of Boulogne, when, while he was taking
his mid-day sleep, a quarrel arose between the two brothers. Waking in
haste, and alarmed for his Boulognais, he took part against the Normans,
calling out, “Down with the traitors!” The Normans were greatly
offended, and, having retired to their tents, they held a council
together, and ended by making him the following plain-spoken address:

“Sir, a folly is better ended than continued. By ill advice, we took you
for our lord for a little while. If you blame us for it, you will not be
wrong. You have beaten our men, and called us traitors. Certes, we were
traitors when we left our rightful lady for a stranger. We have held
with you against our lady the Empress, and we repent, for we have sinned
against God and man: but we will no longer continue in the sin; and
therefore we bid you mount, and leave this host, for we will not suffer
you to remain in this country, unless it be the will of our lady the

Stephen begged them to let him remain till the next day but they swore
that, if he did, it should be the worse for him, and immediately
escorted him beyond the bounds of Normandy. They then brought back
Maude, with her husband and children; and the dukedom continued in the
hands of Geoffrey as long as he lived.

At the same time David, King of Scotland, recollecting the oath to
Maude, which he and Stephen had together sworn, took up arms in her
cause, and invaded England, forcing the inhabitants to take the oath
of allegiance. His troops were a fearfully wild, untamed race,
undisciplined and cruel, and it was a dreadful thing to let loose such
a host of savage marauders without any possibility of restraining them.
The Galwegians, Picts by race, were the worst; but the Highlanders and
Borderers were also dreadfully cruel: and the English armed to protect
themselves against the inroad of their ancient foes.

The clergy of the North even deemed it a sacred war, and, by the
authority of Thurstan, Archbishop of York, gathered their flocks, and
came, each priest at the head of his parishioners, to the place of
assembly at York, where three days were spent in prayer and fasting; and
then the old Archbishop administered to them an oath never to desert
each other, and dismissed them with his blessing. Raoul, Bishop of
Durham, was deputed by him to take the lead, and to have the charge of
the consecrated standards of St. Cuthbert of Durham, St. Peter of York,
St. John of Beverley, and St. Wilfred of Ripon. These were all suspended
from one pole, like the mast of a vessel, surmounted by a cross, in the
centre of which was fixed a silver casket, containing the consecrated
wafer of the Holy Sacrament. The pole was fixed into a four-wheeled car,
on which the Bishop stood. Such cars were much used in Italy, where
each city had its own consecrated Gonfalone, on its caroccio, hung with
scarlet cloth and drawn by oxen. The English collected under this sacred
standard were the stout peasants of the North, the bowmen of Yorkshire
and Nottinghamshire; each with a bow of his own height, and a sheaf of
arrows two cubits long; and there were also many barons of Norman birth,
of whom Walter L’Espee was the leader. Some of these barons held their
lands under David of Scotland, as Earl of Cumberland, and two of them,
Bernard Baliol and Robert Bruce, the last an old friend of the King,
went to the Scottish camp, to remonstrate with him. Bruce begged him to
retreat, described the horrors committed by his wild Scots, told him of
the strength of the English force, and ended by declaring with tears
that it would now become his duty to renounce his allegiance, and array
himself against his beloved prince. Good King David shed tears, but
William Macdonochie, the fierce lord of Galloway, burst out with the
exclamation, “Bruce, thou art a false traitor!” and the insulted baron
renounced all he held in Scotland, gave up his allegiance, and rode back
to the English army, at Northampton, bringing tidings that the Scots
were coming.

The host arrayed itself around their car, where the sacred standard
waved above their head, and the Bishop of Durham addressed them from
beneath it, reminding them of former victories. Walter L’Espee was
the first to respond. Grasping the hand of the Earl of Albemarle, he
exclaimed, “I pledge thee my troth that to-day I will overcome the
Scots, or die!” “So swear we all,” cried the other barons; and the
whole host knelt down, the Bishop pronounced over them the words of
absolution, they replied with one mighty sound of united voices, “Amen!”
 and arose. The knights and squires sat with gathered reins and knees in
rest, the yeomen stood each with his good yew bow ready strung, awaiting
the onslaught.

Less union was there in the hostile army, where it might be said that
there was no authority, for David was unable to restrain his wild
subjects from the North and West. The men of Galloway insisted on
beginning the attack; but as they wore no defensive armor, and had no
weapons but long, thin pikes, besides being more fierce than steady,
the king hesitated. “Why trust to a plate of steel or rings of iron?”
 exclaimed Malise of Strathern. “I, who wear no armor, will go as far as
any one with breastplate of mail.” “You brag of what you dare not do!”
 said the Norman Alan de Percy. But the King found himself obliged to
yield the precedence to the Galwegians, trusting far more to the lowland
knights and men-at-arms, whom he arrayed under his gallant son, Prince
Henry, while he himself commanded the reserve of Northern Scots.

The fierce Kelts of Galloway, guided by a tall spear, wreathed with
heather blossom, and shouting, “Albin! Albin!” with harsh, dissonant
cries like the roar of a tempest, fell headlong on the English ranks,
and at first their fury carried them on so that they burst through them
as if they had been a spider’s web. But the Norman chivalry round the
standard stood firm, and hewed down the undefended Galwegians, nor could
the long claymores of the Highland clans, who next attacked them, break
through their steel armor. The charge of Prince Henry’s horsemen had
more effect, and at one time the youth had almost won his way to the
standard, when some traitor in the rear raised a bloody head on the
point of a lance, shouting that the King was slain. In consternation the
Scots gave back; the English saw their advantage, and pressed upon them:
and though David rode forward and displayed the dragon standard which
marked his presence (inherited from the Saxon kings), he could not rally
them, and but just succeeded in protecting their flight to Carlisle,
which then belonged to him as Earl of Cumberland.

This first of the long series of Scottish defeats was called the Battle
of the Standard, from the banner of St. Cuthbert, which was always
thought to bring success. It came forth at the battle of Nevil’s Cross,
and was again victorious, and it was preserved with great reverence till
the Reformation, when, in 1549, Catherine Whittingham, the wife of the
Dean of Durham, burnt it, out of zeal against Popery. It is some comfort
that she was a Frenchwoman.

Stephen had left his Northern subjects to take care of themselves,
because he was full of perplexities in the South. He had tried to please
all parties, and by no means succeeded. He was a humane, kind-hearted
man, and really wished to befriend the unfortunate Saxons; but, on the
other hand, he was afraid to affront their Norman oppressors, whom he
had allowed to build castles, and strengthen themselves in the very way
which it had been Henry Beauclerc’s policy to prevent. Almost every
spot where green mounds and blocks of massive masonry remain within an
ancient moat, is said by tradition to have been “a castle in Stephen’s
time,” and we wonder, considering that he reigned but nine years, how
such immense works could have been effected. Dens of thieves they seem
to have been, and misery and destruction reigned round them; while the
least attempt on the King’s part to restrain the ferocity of their
owners was requited by a threat of bringing in our lady the Empress.

Her party became continually stronger, and Stephen, living in constant
mistrust, added to it by offending several Bishops, even his own
brother, Henry de Blois, by trying, to deprive them of their fortified
castles. Next he made an attack on the Earl of Gloucester, who, being
thus freed from his engagement to keep the peace, after repulsing
Stephen, went to Normandy to fetch the Empress, and inform her that this
was the time for establishing her right.

Maude, gladly accepted his invitation, but her husband Geoffrey seems to
have been glad to be rid of her ungracious company, and chose to remain
in Anjou. She landed in safety, for Stephen was at this time extremely
ill, and her brother placed her in Arundel Castle, which belonged to her
father’s widow, Queen Alice, lately married to William de Albini, the
ancestor of the noble line of Howard. Here Maude remained, while her
brother went to his own estates to raise troops; but in the meantime
Stephen recovered, and advanced on Arundel Castle. Queen Alice sent to
tell him that her stepdaughter had come to seek her protection, and beg
him not to make her do anything disloyal; and Stephen, who had many of
the qualities of a courteous knight, forbore to make any personal attack
on the ladies, but allowed the Empress to depart unmolested to meet Earl

He brought her to his castle at Bristol, where she remained two years,
while the warfare was carried on in a desultory manner, chiefly by the
siege of castles. At last Stephen laid siege to Lincoln, where Robert’s
daughter was, with her husband Ralf, Earl of Chester. Her father came to
her relief with an army of 10,000 men. Stephen was advised to retreat;
but he thought his honor concerned, and gave battle. His forces were
soon overwhelmed; but he fought on desperately at the foot of his
standard, so fiercely that no one dared to approach him, though his
sword and battle-axe were both broken. At last a stone brought him to
the ground, and a knight, named William Kames, grappled with him and
held him fast; but even then he refused to yield the fragment of his
sword to any but the Earl of Gloucester, who came up at the moment and
prevented any further violence.

Stephen was given into the keeping of Countess Amabel, and Maude was
conducted in state to Winchester, where Stephen’s own brother, the
Bishop, proclaimed her Queen, standing on the steps of the altar. Her
uncle, King David, came to visit her, and she held her court with great
splendor. It was here that she disgusted every one by her disdainful
manners, and treated her cousin, Stephen’s queen, with such harshness as
to drive her to take up arms again. London had always been favorable to
Stephen, and two months of negotiation were necessary before David
and Robert could prevail on the citizens to receive her. At midsummer,
however, they consented to admit her, and she came to Westminster; but
as soon as a deputation of citizens were in her presence, she showed
her pride and hostile spirit. They asked for charters; she replied by
ordering them to bring money, and telling them they were very bold to
talk of their privileges, when they had just been aiding her enemies.
Robert made speeches to try to soften matters, and David reasoned with
her in vain, till she was convinced of her folly in a way for which he
was little prepared. It is said that she actually flew at him and
struck him; and if she could thus treat a royal uncle, how must not men
inferior in rank have sped?

It was noon, and the deputies went home, as Maude thought, to dinner;
but presently all the bells began to ring, and burghers, armed with bows
and bills, began to swarm in the streets. The followers of the Empress
were too few to resist; so, after a brief council, David galloped off
to the North, and Robert rode with his sister to Oxford, while the
Londoners opened their gates to Matilda, Stephen’s wife, and her son

Robert went to raise more forces, and Maude, hearing that Bishop Henry
de Blois was conferring with his sister-in-law, sharply summoned him to
her presence. He quietly made answer, “_Parabo me_”--I prepare myself;
and Maude, in a passion, set out, intending to surprise him at
Wolvesley, his palace at Winchester. She found it well fortified, and
laid siege to it from the castle at Winchester, where she was joined by
her uncle and brother; and the town was in a miserable state, burnt by
both parties in turn. Twenty churches and two convents were destroyed,
and the Bishop took Knut’s crown out of the Cathedral--to save it from
the enemy, as was said, but it was never seen again. At last Eustace de
Blois and his mother brought such a force that the Empress was besieged
in her turn, and completely starved out. Her garrison resolved to break
through the enemy at all risks, and on Sunday they set forth, Maude
riding first with her uncle David, and Robert following with a band of
knights, under a vow to die rather than let her be taken.

At Stourbridge the pursuers came up with them, many of the knights fell,
and Robert was captured. So closely were the royal fugitives pursued,
that David at one time was in the enemy’s hands, and only escaped by the
stratagem of his godson, David Olifant. Maude and one faithful knight,
by the speed of their horses, reached Devizes, whence she was carried in
a coffin to Gloucester.

Maude could not make up her mind to release her foe, Stephen, even for
the sake of recovering her brother; but the Countess of Gloucester,
considering the King as her own property, acted for herself, and
exchanged him for her husband. Queen Matilda tried to make Robert
promise to bring about peace, to secure England to Stephen, and Normandy
to Maude; but he would make no engagements which he knew she would not
observe, and matters continued in the same state.


  _King of England_.
   1135. Stephen.

  _Kings of Scotland_.
   1124. David I.
   1153. Malcolm V.

  _King of France_.
   1137. Louis VII.

  _Emperor Of Germany_.
   1139. Konrad II.

   1130. Innocent II.
   1143. Celestine II.
   1144. Lucius II.
   1145. Anastasius II.
   1154. Adrian IV.

On the 1st of November, 1138, Stephen was set at liberty, and Robert of
Gloucester, being exchanged for him, rejoined his sister the Empress at
Gloucester; and during this time of quiet her fierce nature seems to
have somewhat softened.

Stephen, meanwhile, had one of his terrible attacks of illness, in which
he lay for hours, if not days, in a death-like lethargy, and, of course,
his followers did nothing but build castles whenever the frost would let
them work, prey on their neighbors, and make the state of the country
far worse than it had been under any of the Normans of hated memory.
Maude’s domain was in better order, as Robert’s rule was modelled on
that of his father’s, in its best points. It is wonderful that Robert,
whose mother was a princess by birth, and had been treated as a wife
till the Etheling marriage had become a matter of policy, should have
put forward no pretensions to the crown, but have uniformly given his
staunch support to his proud and ungrateful sister. In a council held at
Devizes in the course of the winter, it was decided that he should go
to Normandy to entreat the Count of Anjou to bring succors to his wife.
Geoffrey, however, had no desire to return to her haughty companionship,
and represented that there were still many castles in Normandy
unsubdued. Robert gave efficient aid in taking these; but Geoffrey still
could not persuade himself to meet his wife, though, at Robert’s
persuasion, he consented to give into his charge Henry, his eldest son,
a boy of ten years old, with a large body of troops.

Maude had, in the meanwhile, been placed in the strong fortress at
Oxford; but no sooner had Stephen recovered from his illness, than he
collected his army, and marched southward. In the end of September he
besieged her at Oxford, where at first she thought herself safe; but he
crossed the river, set fire to the city in several places, and blockaded
her in the castle.

Her nobles collected at Wallingford, and sent defiances to Stephen to
fight a pitched battle with them; but he knew his own advantage too
well, and took no notice. Earl Robert, landing near Wareham, tried to
create a diversion by besieging that seaport; but he could not draw the
enemy off from Oxford. Famine prevailed in the castle, and, after much
suffering, it became impossible for the garrison to hold out any longer.
The depth of winter had come, the ground was covered with snow, and the
Isis was frozen over. Maude, whose courage never failed, caused herself
and three of her knights to be dressed in white, and let down from the
battlements upon the snow, where they were met by one of Stephen’s men,
whom they had gained over, and by him were led, unseen and unheard,
through the camp of the enemy, hearing the call of the sentinels, and
trembling with anxiety. For six miles they crept over the snow, and at
last arrived at Abingdon, nearly frozen, for their garments had been far
too scanty for the piercing weather; but they could not remain a moment
for rest or warmth, but took horse, and never paused till they reached
Wallingford Castle. Thither, so soon as the news reached Earl Robert, he
brought her young son, and her troubles were forgotten in her joy.

Thence she repaired with her son to Bristol Castle, where the boy
remained under the care of a learned tutor named Matthew, who instructed
him under the superintendence of Earl Robert.

This great Earl deserved the name of Beauclerc almost as well as his
father; he was well read, and two histories were dedicated to him,
William of Malmesbury’s, and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s wonderful chronicle
of the old British kings, whose blood flowed in Robert’s veins; that
chronicle--wrought out of queer Welsh stories--that served as a
foundation for Edward’s claims on Scotland, and whence came our Lear and

All that knightly training could do for young Henry was done by Earl
Robert, and the boy so far answered to his care as to have that mixture
of scholarliness and high spirit that was inherent in the Norman and
Angevin princes. But the shrewd unscrupulousness and hard selfishness of
the Norman were there, too--the qualities from which noble Gloucester
himself was free. It may be, however, that the good Earl did not see
these less promising characteristics of his ward; for, after five years
of the boy’s residence at Bristol, and the old desultory warfare between
the partisans of King and Empress, Count Geoffrey sent for his son, to
take leave of him before going on a crusade; and while Henry was absent,
Earl Robert died, in 1147. It speaks much for Henry Beauclerc’s court
that such men should have grown up in it as Robert of Gloucester and
David of Scotland.

Geoffrey, in the meantime, paid a visit to his younger brother, Baldwin
III. of Jerusalem, a very gallant prince. On his return, Maude came back
to him, and after their eight years’ absence, they met with affection
they never had shown to one another before. She did not attempt to take
the government of Normandy, but left it wholly in Geoffrey’s hands.

Stephen, meanwhile, was unmolested in England till 1149, when Henry
sailed for Scotland, there to be knighted by his uncle, King David;
while, curiously enough, his younger brother Geoffrey was at the very
same time knighted by Stephen’s elder brother, Theobald, Count de Blois.

It was a year of grief to that excellent King, who suffered a great
affliction in the death of the chivalrous Henry, his only son, and the
father of a numerous infant family. His barons feared he would sink
under his sorrow, and came to comfort him; but they found him cheerful.
“I ought not to lament my son’s being taken away from me,” he said,
“since he is gone to enjoy the fellowship of my parents and my brethren,
of whose souls the world was no longer worthy. Should I mourn, it would
be to arraign the goodness and justice of God for removing him to the
mansions of bliss before me. I should rather be thankful, and rejoice
that the Almighty endowed my son with so much grace to behave himself in
a manner to be so beloved and lamented. Soon do I hope to follow, and,
being delivered from temporal miseries, to enjoy a blessed eternity with
the saints in light.”

It was shortly after this that Aelred, the good Abbot of Rivaux, came to
Dunfermline, on the affairs of his order; and in the presence of this
holy man, the adopted brother of his beloved Henry, one of the four
promising boys who had gladdened the early days of his reign, the King’s
grief broke freely forth, though still it was not the sorrow of one who
had no hope. He told Aelred he saw in this calamity a punishment for the
devastation he had caused in his invasion of England, and would fain
have laid down his royalty, and spent the rest of his days in penitence
in a convent; but he was persuaded to relinquish the design, and guard
the crown for his grandsons. He shed tears as he tenderly embraced
Aelred, and both felt it was their last meeting.

David did not long survive his son. He appointed his eldest grandchild,
Malcolm, to succeed him, and set his affairs in order, redoubling all
his pious and charitable acts. One of the last things he was heard to
say, was, “Lord, I restore Thee the kingdom wherewith Thou didst entrust
me. Put me in possession of that whereof the inhabitants are all kings.”
 He was soon after found dead, in the attitude of devotion. His body
was buried at Dunfermline, and his name added to the list of Scottish

His grandsons, Malcolm, William, and David, were all good and valiant

Waltheof, his stepson, lived peaceably at Melrose, strict in rule,
gentle in manners, and peculiarly humble in demeanor, and poor in dress.
He once had occasion to meet King Stephen, and rode in among the barons
in their armor, only clad in his coarse serge frock, and mounted, on
an old gray horse. His brother Simon, who stood by the King, was
displeased, and said, “See, my lord, how my brother and thy kinsman does
honor to his lineage.” He met with a reply he little expected. “If thou
and I had only the grace to see it,” said Stephen, “he is an honor
indeed to us. He adorns our race, as the gem does the gold in which it
is set!” And when he had parted with the meek abbot, Stephen exclaimed,
with tears, “This man has put all worldly things under his feet; but we
are presuming after this fleeting world, and losing both body and soul
in the chase.”

This must indeed have, been brought home soon after to Stephen, by the
fate of his wretched son Eustace. This fiery youth had desired to be
crowned in his father’s lifetime; but Archbishop Theobald, and all his
suffragans, perceiving that this would prevent the only hope of peace on
Stephen’s death, steadily refused, though the King shut them all up in
his hall, and threatened them violently. The next year, when the treaty
was made by which Henry of Anjou was to reign after Stephen, Eustace
was so enraged at finding himself excluded from the succession, that he
rushed off, accompanied by a party of lawless young men, and ravaged all
Cambridgeshire, committing dreadful excesses. It is to be hoped that he
was already under the influence of the brain-fever which came on in a
few days’ time, immediately after he had pillaged Bury St. Edmund’s, and
of which he died; leaving a belief among the country people, that,
like King Sweyn, he had been struck by the avenging hand of the Saint
himself. His father, King Stephen, only lived a few months after, worn
out by the toils and troubles which he had brought on himself by his own
ambition. His son William, who would have opposed Henry’s accession,
was prevented, by breaking his leg by a fall from his horse, and Henry
peaceably gained the throne. His mother, Empress Maude, had in the
meantime retired to Anjou, where she led a quiet life, giving up her
rights to her son, and apparently profiting by the lesson she had been
taught when her prosperity was turned at its full tide by her own pride
and presumption.

Of the boys bred up in the good household of Dunfermline, Aelred was the
last survivor. Waltheof had the happiness, before his death, of seeing
his brother, the proud Earl Simon of Northampton, repent heartily, leave
his evil courses, found churches, and endow the convent of Waldon, which
he had once persecuted for sheltering his brother. Waltheof was elected
to be Bishop of St. Andrews, and Aelred, as head of the Cistercians in
Britain, came to Melrose, to order him, on his canonical obedience, to
accept the see. But Waltheof was weak in health, and knew that another
call had gone forth. He pointed to a stone slab on the floor of the
chapter-house. “There,” said he, “is the place of my rest. Here will be
my habitation, among my children.”

And in a short time he died, in the year 1159. Aelred lived seven or
eight years longer, and was highly honored and trusted by the young
Malcolm of Scotland. On his behalf the old Abbot undertook a journey,
to treat with the wild men of Galloway, whom Malcolm had three times
defeated in battle, and now wished to bring to terms. He succeeded
in persuading their chief to submit, and even to become a canon at

He afterward attended a chapter of his order at Pavia, and died at
Rivaux, after a long illness, about 1166.


  _King of England_.
   1154. Henry II.

  _King Of Scotland_.
   1153. Malcolm V.

  _King of France_.
   1137. Louis VII.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1138. Konrad II.
   1152. Friedrich II.

   1154. Adrian IV.
   1159. Alexander III.

Henry of Anjou showed, in his journey to England, both courage and
moderation. He remained there for some little time, and then returned
home to join his father in a war against the Count de Montreuil, who
was befriended by both Pope and King of France. The Pope excommunicated
Geoffrey, but he fought on, and made his enemy prisoner; then, at the
command of the King of France, released him. When the Pope would have
absolved Geoffrey, he refused, saying he had only done justice, and had
not deserved the sentence. A few months after, in 1151, a cold bath,
when he was heated with riding, brought on a fever that caused his

He left his son Henry his county of Anjou, to be resigned to Geoffrey if
he should become King of England, and commanded that his body should not
be interred till Henry had taken an oath to that effect. From this oath
Henry was absolved by Adrian IV, properly Nicholas Brakespeare, the only
English Pope, and stripped his brother of all his possessions. It was
no good omen for his own relations with his sons. His mother lived many
years in retirement, and used her influence chiefly for good. She died
in 1167.

Henry, meantime, had come to the throne in 1154, and was the mightiest
King who had yet reigned in England. More than half France was
his--partly by inheritance, and partly by marriage with Eleanor, heiress
of Aquitaine; and he was quite able to rule his vast dominions. His
alertness and activity were the wonder of every one. He made journeys
with great rapidity, was always busy, and hardly ever sat down. He had
a face like a lion, well-knit limbs, and a hardy temperament. He was
heedless what he ate or wore, and was an embodiment of vehemence and
activity. He threw himself eagerly into the work of reducing to order
the dreadful state of things allowed by Stephen.

Down came the castles--once more the nobles found they had a strong hand
over them--no more dens of robbers were permitted--the King was here,
there, and everywhere. He had English to tame Anglo-Normans, Angevins
to set on French Normans, Poitevins to turn loose on both. He knew what
order was, and kept it; and the counsellor who aided him most must now
be described.

Here is the romantic ballad-tale of that counsellor’s origin, though it
is much to be feared that the fact cannot be established.

In the reign of Henry I. the citizens of London were amazed by the
sight of a maiden in an Eastern dress, wandering along the streets,
plaintively uttering the word “Gilbert!” Certain seafaring men declared
that she had prevailed on them to take her on board their vessel and
bring her to England, by constantly repeating the name “London!”--the
only other word in the language that she knew.

Poor lady! The mob of London were less compassionate than the sailors
had been. They hooted and hunted her, till she came to Southwark, in
front of a house belonging to Gilbert à Becket, a rich and prosperous
merchant, who, with his faithful serving-man, Richard, had lately
returned from pilgrimage. Richard, who had come out on hearing the
noise, hurried back into the house as soon as he perceived its cause;
then, hastening out again, went up to the poor, persecuted maiden, who
fainted away at the sight of him. He carried her to the house of an
honorable widow lady, desiring her, in his master’s name to take care of
the desolate stranger, with whom, on her revival, he held converse in
her own tongue, and seemed to cheer her greatly.

Meanwhile, Gilbert à Becket was on his way to St. Paul’s, to consult the
Bishop of London. He related how, in the East, he and his man Richard
had been taken captive by the Saracens, and become slaves to a wealthy
Emir. In the course of their services to their master, Gilbert had
attracted the notice of his daughter, who had more than once asked
him questions about his faith and country, and had at last offered to
contrive his escape, if he would take her for his wife, and bring her to
his own land. Gilbert, who did not trust her, effected his escape with
Richard without her assistance, and returned to England, little thinking
they should ever see her again. But she followed him, leaving her
home, her riches, and her father, and seeking him through his long and
dangerous journey, ignorant of all save his name, and the name of his

Five other prelates were present when he told the story, and one, the
Bishop of Chichester, exclaimed, that Heaven itself most have conducted
the damsel, and advised that Gilbert should at once marry her. The next
day she was brought to St. Paul’s, and was there baptized by the name of
Matilda, Richard acting as interpreter; and shortly after the wedding
took place.

This romantic story was the origin of several old English ballads, one
of which celebrates the Saracen lady by the extraordinary title of Susy
Pye, perhaps a vulgarism of her original Eastern name.

In the first year of his marriage, Gilbert went on pilgrimage again,
leaving his wife under the care of his man Richard. Soon after his
departure she gave birth to a son, to whom she gave the name of Thomas,
and who was three years old by the time his father returned from the
Holy Land. They afterward had two daughters, named Mary and Agnes, and
lived in great piety and happiness, until the time of Matilda’s death,
at the end of twenty-two years.

Thomas received a clerkly education from the Canons of Merton, and
showed such rare ability that his whole family deemed him destined for
great things. He was very tall and handsome, and his aquiline nose,
quick eyes, and long, slender, beautiful hands, accorded with the
story of his Eastern ancestry; and he was very vigorous and athletic,
delighting in the manly sports of the young men of his time. In his
boyhood, while he was out hawking with a knight who used to lodge in
his father’s house when he came to London, he was exposed to a serious
danger. They came to a narrow bridge, fit only for foot-passengers, with
a mill-wheel just below. The knight nevertheless rode across the bridge,
and Thomas was following, when his horse, making a false step, fell into
the river. The boy could swim, but would not make for the bank, without
rescuing the hawk, that had shared his fall, and thus was drawn by the
current under the wheel, and in another moment would have been torn to
pieces, had not the miller stopped the machinery, and pulled him out of
the water, more dead than alive.

It seems that it was the practice for wealthy merchants to lodge their
customers when brought to London by business, and thus young Thomas
became known to several persons of high estimation in their several
stations. A rich merchant called Osborn gave him big accounts to keep;
knights noticed his riding, and clerks his learning and religious life.

Some of the clergy of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who were among
those guests, were desirous of presenting him to their master. He at
first held back, but they at length prevailed with him: he became a
member of the Archbishop’s household, and, after he had improved himself
in learning, was ordained deacon, and presented with the Archdeaconry of
Canterbury, an office which was then by no means similar to what we
at present call by that name. It really then meant being chief of the
deacons, and involved the being counsellor, and, in a manner, treasurer
to the Bishop of the diocese; and thus, to be Archdeacon of Canterbury,
was the highest ecclesiastical dignity in the kingdom, next to that of
the prelates and great mitred abbots.

Thomas à Becket was a secular clerk, bound by none of the vows of
monastic orders; and therefore, though he led a strictly pure and
self-denying life, he did hot consider himself obliged to abstain from
worldly business or amusements, and in the year 1150 he was appointed
Chancellor by Henry II. He was then in his thirty-eighth year, of great
ability and cultivation, graceful in demeanor, ready of speech, clear in
mind, and his tall frame (reported to have been no less than six feet
two in height) fitting him for martial exercise and bodily exertion. The
King, a youth of little past twenty, delighting in ability wherever he
found it, became much attached to his gallant Chancellor, and not only
sought his advice in the regulation of England after its long troubles,
but, when business was done, they used to play together like two

It must have been a curious scene in the hall of Chancellor Becket,
when, at the daily meal, earls and barons sat round his table, and
knights and nobles crowded, so thickly at the others, that the benches
were not sufficient, and the floor was daily strewn with hay or straw in
winter, or in summer with green boughs, that those who sat on it might
not soil their robes. Gold and silver dishes, and goblets, and the
richest wines, were provided, and the choicest, most costly viands were
purchased at any price by his servants for these entertainments: they
once gave a hundred shillings for a dish of eels. But the Chancellor
seldom touched these delicacies, living on the plainest fare, as he sat
in his place as the host, answering the pledges of his guests, amusing
them with his converse, and providing minstrelsy and sports of all kinds
for their recreation. Often the King would ride into the hall, in the
midst of the gay crowd seated on the floor, throw himself off his horse,
leap over the table, and join in the mirth.

These rich feasts afforded afterward plentiful alms for the poor, who
were never forgotten in the height of Becket’s magnificence, and
the widow and the oppressed never failed to find a protector in the

His house was full of young squires and pages, the sons of the nobility,
who placed them there as the best school of knighthood; and among them
was the King’s own son Henry, who had been made his pupil.

The King seems to have been apt to laugh at Becket for his strict life
and overflowing charity. One very cold day, as they were riding, they
met an old man in a thin, ragged coat.

“Poor old man!” said Henry, “would it not be a charity to give him a
good, warm cloak?”

“It would, indeed.” said Becket: “you had better keep the matter in

“No, no; it is you that shall have the credit of this great act of
charity,” said Henry, laughing. “Ha! old man, should you not like this
nice, warm cloak?” and, with those words, he began to pull at the
scarlet and gray mantle which the Chancellor wore. Becket struggled
for it, and in this rough sport they were both nearly pulled off their
horses, till the clasp gave way, and the King triumphantly tossed his
prize to the astonished old man.

The Chancellor was in the habit of daily giving more costly gifts than
these, both to rich and poor; gold and silver, robes and jewels, fine
armor and horses, hawks and hounds--even fine new ships, were bestowed
by him, from the wealth of the old merchant Gilbert, as well as from the
revenues of his archdeaconry, and of several other benefices, which the
lax opinions of his time caused him to think no shame to keep in his own

We cannot call Thomas à Becket by any means a perfect character; but
thoroughly conscientious he must ever have been, and very self-denying,
keeping himself pure from every stain in the midst of the court, and
guarding himself by strict discipline. He was found to be in the habit
of sleeping on the bare boards beside his rich bed, and in secret he
wore sackcloth, and submitted to the lash of penance. His uprightness
and incorruptibility as a judge, his wisdom in administering the affairs
of state, and his skill in restoring peace to England, made the reign of
Henry Plantagenet a relief indeed to his subjects.

In almost every respect he lived like a layman. He hunted and hawked,
and was found fault with by the Prior of Leicester for wearing a cape
with sleeves, which it seems was an unclerical garment. The prior
said it was more unsuitable in one who held so many ecclesiastical
preferments, and was likely to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

To this Thomas answered: “I know three poor priests, each of whom I
would rather see Archbishop than myself. If I had that rank, I know full
well I must either lose the King’s favor, or set aside my duty to God.”

When Henry went to war with France respecting the inheritance of Eleanor
of Aquitaine, his wife, his Chancellor brought to his aid seven hundred
knights of his own household, besides twelve hundred in his pay, and
four thousand foot soldiers. He fed the knights themselves at his own
table, and paid them each three shillings a day for the support of their
squires and horses; and he himself commanded them, wearing armor, and
riding at their head. He kept them together by the sound of a long,
slender trumpet, such as was then used only by his own band; and in
combat he showed himself strong and dexterous in the use of lance and
sword, winning great admiration and respect even from the enemy.

Henry resolved to come to a treaty, and to seal it by asking the King
of France, Louis le Jeune, to give his daughter Margaret in marriage to
Henry, the heir of England. Becket was sent on this embassy, and the
splendor of his equipment was such as might become its importance.

Two hundred men on horseback, in armor or gay robes, were his immediate
followers, and with them came eight waggons, each drawn by five horses,
a groom walking beside each horse, and a driver and guard to every
waggon, besides a large, fierce dog chained beneath each. The waggons
carried provisions and garments, and furniture for the night: two were
filled with ale for the French, who much admired that English liquor;
another was fitted up as a kitchen, and another for a chapel. There were
twelve sumpter horses carrying small articles, and on the back of each
of these sat a long-tailed ape!

Dogs and hawks, with their attendants, accompanied the procession, the
whole marshalled in regular order, and the men singing as they went;
and the impression on the minds of all beholders was, “If such was the
Chancellor, what must be the King?”

At Paris all these riches were given away, and so resolved was Becket
to keep up his character for munificence, that he did not choose to be
maintained at the expense of the French King; and when Louis, wishing to
force him into being his guest, sent orders to the markets round to sell
nothing to the English Chancellor, his attendants disguised themselves,
and bought up all the provisions in the neighborhood. King Louis
acquired a great esteem and admiration for the Chancellor, and willingly
granted his request, betrothing Margaret, who was only seven years old,
to Prince Henry. She, as well as her little husband, became Becket’s
pupils, by desire of King Henry, and she, at least, never seems to have
lost her attachment to him.

The time Becket dreaded came. The good, old, peaceable Archbishop
Theobald died in 1162, and Henry, who was then at Falaise, ordered his
Chancellor to England, ostensibly to settle a disturbance in the western
counties, but in reality, as he declared in a private interview, that he
might be elected to the primacy.

Becket smiled, and, pointing to his gay robes, said, “You are choosing a
pretty dress to figure at the head of your monks of Canterbury. If you
do as you say, my lord, you will soon hate me as much as you love me
now, for you assume an authority in Church affairs to which I shall not
consent, and there will be plenty of persons to stir up strife between

Henry did not heed the warning, and King, Bishops, and the Chapter
of Canterbury unanimously chose Becket as Archbishop, with only one
reluctant voice, that of Gilbert Folliot, Bishop of London, who expected
the same promotion himself. On Whit-Sunday Thomas received priest’s
orders, and shortly after was consecrated Bishop by Henry de Blois,
Bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen. John of Salisbury, a
priest of Becket’s household, and his intimate friend, was sent to Rome
to ask for the pallium; and, bringing it home, laid it on the altar of
Canterbury Cathedral, whence the Archbishop took it up.

The magnificent Archdeacon was expected by King Henry to lead the same
life when Archbishop, and thus to secularize the Church. But Henry had
mistaken his man. Clever and clear-sighted as the King was, seven years
of transacting business together, and of familiar intercourse with the
frank-hearted, free-spoken Thomas à Becket, had failed to make him
conscious of the inner life and deep devotion, the mortification and
uncompromising sense of duty, that was the true spring of his actions.
It was no secret; Becket avowed it from the first; the King only did not
see it, because he _could_ not understand it.

Becket had too high an idea of the office of a bishop to unite the care
of state affairs with it, and he at once resigned the chancellorship.
Outwardly there was not much difference--he still kept a magnificent
table, and entertained nobles and knights at his banquets; but his
self-discipline was secretly carried to a far greater extent than
before. He touched the wine-cup with his lips, to do honor to his
guests, but his drink was water in which hay had been boiled; and though
costly meats were placed before him, he hardly tasted them, and his
chief food was bread. He doubled all the gifts that Archbishop Theobald
had been wont to make to the poor convents and hospitals, and gave very
large alms. Every day he washed the feet of thirteen beggars, then fed
them, and gave them each four shillings. This was, in fact, considered
as a religious duty, almost an obligation on certain occasions. It is
a ceremony still performed by the Pope at Passion-tide; and Queen
Elizabeth herself used to do so on Maundy Thursday. The gifts now
distributed by the Queen on that day are a relic of the custom.

Archbishop Becket, when at Canterbury, often visited the cloisters,
where he sat reading among the monks; and he often went to see and
console the sick or infirm brethren, who were unable to leave their
cells. He was much loved and respected by those who knew him best; but
the nobles, who had usurped lands belonging to his see, dreaded his
maintenance of his rights, and hoped for disagreements between him and
the King--especially one Randolf de Broc, who wrongfully held the Castle
of Saltwood, near Canterbury.

However, at the first meeting all was smooth. On the return of the court
the Archbishop brought his pupil, Prince Henry, to meet his father at
Southampton, and was received with great affection. The King embraced
him eagerly, and spent much time apart with him, discussing all that had
taken place in his absence.


  _King of England_.
   1151. Henry II.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1165. William.

  _King of France_.
   1137. Louis VII.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1152. Friedrich II.

   1159. Alexander III.

The strife between the Crown and the Mitre was not long in breaking out
again. The former strife had been on the matter of investiture; the
strife of the twelfth century was respecting jurisdiction.

We sometimes hear the expression, “Without benefit of clergy,” and the
readers of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel” cannot have forgotten William
of Deloraine’s declaration,

  “Letter or line know I never a one,
  Were’t my neck-verse at Harribee.”

These are witnesses of the combat between Henry II. and Thomas à Becket.
The Church, as bearing the message of peace, claimed to be exempt from
the sword of the State. Her sacred buildings protected the criminal,
the inhabitants of her lands were spared in war, and offences committed
either by an ecclesiastic or against one, were not liable to be punished
by the temporal power. This protection was extended not only over
actually ordained clergymen, but all who held any office in connection
with ecclesiastical affairs--all students, nay, all who were clerks
enough to read and write. Thus the wild borderers, when made prisoners,
escaped the halter by pretending to read a verse of the _Miserere_,
which they had learnt by heart in case of such an emergency, and called
their neck-verse; and “without benefit of clergy” was added to new laws,
to prevent education from exempting persons from their power.

But this arose long after the battle had been fought and won; and it
is not to be supposed, that the Church left offenders unpunished.
Imprisonment, loss of rank, and penance, fell heavily on them, and
it was only very hardened and desperate men who would die under
excommunication rather than endure all that was required before they
could be reconciled to the Church.

Henry II. had found the course of justice seriously impeded by these
privileges of the clergy, and convoking a council at Westminster, in
1163, called on the bishops to consent that, as soon as a clerk should
be proved guilty of a crime, he should be deprived of his orders, and
handed over to receive punishment as a layman, at the hands of the
King’s officer.

According to our views in the present day, this demand was just, but to
the Church of the twelfth century it seemed an attempt to deprive her
of powers committed to her trust; and considering the uncertainty of
justice, and the lawless tyranny and cruelty often exercised by the
sovereigns and nobles, the resistance made to Henry II. cannot be
wondered at.

The bishops, however, first took the King’s view, and argued that a
crime was worse in a clerk than in another, so that he deserved no
immunity. To this Becket answered, that the loss of his orders was one
penalty, and it was not right that he should be punished twice for the
same offence. They said that the King would be displeased, and it would
be better to give up their liberties than to perish themselves. This
cowardly plea Becket treated no better than it deserved, and brought
them over to his side, so that they all answered the King, that their
duty forbade them to comply with his demand; Henry put the question in
another form, asking them whether they would in all things observe the
royal Constitutions of his ancestors. Becket replied, “We will in all
things, saving the privileges of our order;” and so, one by one, said
they all, except Hilary of Chichester, who was afraid, and left out
the important restriction. But by this cowardice all he gained was the
King’s contempt. Henry chose him as the one on whom to vent his passion,
abused him violently, and quitted the council, in one of his furious
fits of rage.

Thenceforth Henry was at war with Becket. One of his first acts of
spite, was exiling the Archbishop’s friend, John of Salisbury, a
faithful priest, and an excellent scholar, as his correspondence with
his master remains to testify. It is curious to read his account of
Paris. “The people here seem to enjoy abundance of everything; the
Church ceremonies are performed with great splendor, and I thought, with
Jacob, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not;’ also, in
the words of the poet,

“‘Blessed is the banish’d man who liveth here.’

“The French are much afraid of our King Henry, and hate him most
intensely; but this between ourselves.”

The Archbishop wrote to the Pope for counsel, but the King had strong
influence at Rome, and the Pope only advised Becket to preserve peace;
owning that what the King demanded was wrong, but recommending Becket to
give way, and make friends, so that England might be once more at his
beck and call.

For this policy Becket was far too straight-forward, and his perplexity
was great, especially when the Archbishop of York, who had always been
his enemy, the jealous and disappointed Gilbert Folliot of London, and
the time-serving Hilary of Chichester, all declared themselves of the
King’s party.

The Pope and his legate prevailed with Becket to consent to the
Constitutions of the realm, without making any exception; the King said
this must be done in public, and in January, 1164, convoked a council
for the purpose at Clarendon, in Wiltshire.

The Constitutions were read, and proved to contain much that was
contrary to the canons of the Church; they were discussed and commented
on for three days, and then, to Becket’s surprise and dismay, he was
required not only to agree to them by word of mouth, as he had already
done, but to set his archiepiscopal seal to them. He rose, and
exclaimed, much agitated, “I declare by God Almighty, that no seal of
mine shall ever be set to such Constitutions as these.”

The King left the room in a fury, and great confusion ensued, of which
we have no clear account. The nobles broke in on the bishops, and
threatened them in the King’s name; the Grand Master of the Templars
persuaded Becket, and it seems that his firmness in some degree
gave way, though whether what he repented of was the sealing the
Constitutions, or merely the promise he had given, we cannot tell. The
assembly broke up, the King and each of the Archbishops taking a copy of
the Constitutions.

Becket, as he rode away, lamented over what had passed, as his faithful
friend and biographer, Herbert of Bosham, has recorded. “My sins are the
cause why the Church of England is reduced to bondage,” he said. “I was
taken from the court to fill this station, a proud and vain man; not
from the cloister, nor from a school of the Saviour, but from the palace
of Caesar. I was a feeder of birds, and I was suddenly made a feeder of
men; I was a patron of players, and a follower of hounds, and I became
a shepherd over many souls. I neglected my own vineyard, and yet was
intrusted with the care of others.”

He fasted, and abstained from ministering at the altar, till he had
received from the Pope a letter of absolution for his act of weakness;
and as the Pope gave no ratification of the Constitutions of Clarendon,
he did not consider them binding.

Henry shifted his ground, and, calling another Council at Northampton in
1164, brought various petty charges against the Archbishop. The first
was, that a man named John Marshall had failed to obtain justice in his
court. The truth was, that the man had been caught making oaths on a
jest-book, instead of on the Gospels; and Becket, instead of coming
himself to state this, sent four knights with letters explaining it.

For this neglect, as it was said, of the King’s summons, Becket was
condemned to forfeit the whole of his personal property; and to this he
submitted, but without appeasing the King, who went on to accuse him of
taking the public money while Chancellor, when, as every one knew, he
had spent far more largely than ever he had received in the King’s
service. Not a person was there who did not know that his character
stood far above such base charges; besides, an appointment to an
ecclesiastical dignity was always supposed to clear from all former

Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, brother of King Stephen, went to
the King, and offered to pay the whole sum required of Becket; but he
was not listened to, and the Bishops of Chichester and London plainly
told the Archbishop, that what was aimed at was to force him to resign.
The plain, blunt Bishop of Lincoln said, “The man’s life is in danger;
he will lose it, or his bishopric; and what good his bishopric will do
him without his life, I do not see.”

On the decisive day on which he was expected to submit to judgment,
Archbishop Thomas rose early and celebrated mass; after which, arrayed
in his pontifical dress, except his mitre and pall, he set out for the
place of meeting, attended by his faithful clerks. He wished to have
gone thither barefoot, and, bearing his cross, to have thrown himself at
the feet of the King, and intercede with him for the liberties of the
Church; but his clergy and the Templars persuaded him to relinquish this
design, contrary to his own judgment. He returned to it again so far,
that, on dismounting in the Castle court, he took his cross from
Alexander Llewellyn, its bearer, and carried it himself into the hall.
The Bishop of Hereford ran up to him, saying, “Suffer me, my lord, to
carry the cross; it is better than that you should carry it yourself.”

“Nay, my son,” he answered, “suffer me to retain it, as the banner under
which I fight.”

A French archdeacon, who was present, said to the Bishop of London, “My
lord, do you allow the Archbishop to carry his own cross?”

“My good friend,” was Folliot’s rude reply, “he always was a fool, and
will continue so to the end.”

But when all gave way before the majestic figure of the Archbishop, with
the cross in his hand, Gilbert went up to him, and tried to snatch it
away, telling him he was disturbing the peace; for the King would take
the sword, and then the King and Archbishop would be matched against
each other.

“So be it,” said Becket; “my cross is the sign of peace; the King’s
sword is an instrument of war.”

He sat down to wait, while the other prelates were called to a
consultation with the King in another apartment. His clerks sat round,
and Herbert de Bosham said, “If they lay violent hands on you, you can
excommunicate them all.”

“Far be that from our lord,” rejoined Fitzstephen, his secretary; “let
him rather follow the pattern of the ancient confessors and martyrs, and
pray for his enemies and persecutors.”

One of the King’s marshals touched Fitzstephen on the shoulder, telling
him it was forbidden to speak to the Archbishop; upon which he glanced
at his master, and pointed to the cross, to express what he was
forbidden to say.

The King sat in his own chamber, and the bishops and barons were sent in
turn with messages from him to the Archbishop. Becket appealed to the
Pope, and the bishops, on their side, appealed against the Archbishop;
and then the Earls of Leicester and Cornwall were sent to pronounce
sentence on him; but instead of allowing them to proceed, he declared
that the King had no right to call him to account for what had happened
before he was Archbishop; for it had been expressly declared, when he
was appointed, that he was freed from all former claims.

This was a point of view in which the Earls had not seen the case, and
they said they must go back to the King. “One word more,” said Becket:
“as the soul is more worthy than the body, so you are bound to obey God
rather than the King. Can the son judge his father? I can receive no
judgment from you or the King; the Pope alone, under God, is my judge. I
place myself and my Church under his protection. I call the bishops, who
have obeyed their King rather than God, to answer before his tribunal;
and so, protected by the Holy Catholic Church and the power of the
Apostolic See, I leave this court.”

He rose, followed by his clerks. Cries of abuse followed him; Ranulf de
Broc shot straws at him, and a relation of the King reproached him with
sneaking away like a traitor. “If I were a knight,” said the Archbishop,
“my sword should answer that foul speech.”

It was only the King’s immediate followers that thus reviled him; the
poor crowded after him in multitudes, so that he could hardly hold
in his horse, carry the cross, which he still retained, and give his
blessing to those who sought it. “See,” he said to his clerks, “what a
glorious train escorts me home! These are the poor of whom Christ spake,
partakers of my distress: open the door, and let us feast together!”

On coming to the monastery, they first went to the chapel, where he
prayed, and laid down the cross; then went to the refectory to take
food. In talking over the events of the day, he bade his clerks beware
of retorting on their enemies the abuse that was poured on them. “To
rail,” he said “is the mark of an inferior; to bear it, of a superior.
If we would teach them to control their tongues, let us show that we
control our ears.”

In the reading that evening, at supper, the text occurred, “If they
persecute you in one city, flee to another.” This Becket took as
direction for his course, and sent to ask the King for a safe-conduct to
return to Canterbury. The King said he should have an answer to-morrow,
which Becket and his clerks considered as a sign that his life was not
safe. That night, therefore, he, with three of his clergy, mounted at
the postern of the monastery, and rode off, in such torrents of rain,
that four times he was obliged to cut off a portion of his long cloak to
relieve himself of the weight. He made for Kent, travelling by night and
hiding by day, for twenty days, till he reached the coast, and at Estrey
was hidden for several days in a little secret chamber opening into
the parish church, whence, at mass, he gave the blessing to the
congregation, though they knew it not. At last a small open boat was
procured, and, embarking on the 2d of November, 1164, he safely landed
near Gravelines.

The county of Boulogne belonged to Mary de Blois, Stephen’s daughter.
She had taken the veil at Romsey, when a girl; but on the death of her
brothers, Eustace and William, became the heiress of her mother’s county
of Boulogne, and had been stolen away and married, for the sake of her
inheritance, by Matthew of Flanders. The Archbishop had opposed this
marriage, and the count was therefore his enemy, so that he was obliged
to pass through his territory in the disguise of a Cistercian monk,
calling himself Brother Christian.

Twice he was in danger of discovery. The first time was when they met a
party of young men hawking. Becket, who had never lost his admiration
for the noble birds (for one of whom he had so nearly lost his life),
showed so much interest in the falcons, that their owner, surprised at
seeing so much sportsmanship in a monk, exclaimed, “You must be the
Archbishop of Canterbury!” “What!” said another of the hawking party,
“do you think the Archbishop travels in this sort?” And thus Becket was
saved from being obliged to make answer. The next time was at supper,
when they had reached the inn at Gravelines, where his great height and
beautiful hands attracted attention; and the host, further remarking
that he bestowed all the choicest morsels on the children, was convinced
that this must be the English Archbishop, whose escape was already known
on the Continent, and falling down at his feet, blessed the saints for
bringing such a guest under his roof. Becket was much afraid the good
man might unintentionally betray him, and left Gravelines early the next
morning, on his way to the monastery of St. Bertin’s, at St. Omer. It is
amusing to find Becket’s faithful clerks, on the Friday when they were
to arrive at that hospitable convent, trying to coax their master to
grant them leave, after their journey, to eat a little meat: “for,
suppose there should be a scarcity of fish.” Here they were joined by
Herbert de Bosham, who had been sent to Canterbury to collect such money
and valuables as he could bring away.

Henry had in the meantime sent an embassy to desire the King of France
not to shelter “the late Archbishop;” but it met with no favorable
reception from Louis. “He is a noble-minded man,” said he; “if I knew
where to find him, I would go with my whole court to meet him.”

“But he did much harm to France,” said the Earl of Arundel, “at the head
of the English army.”

“That was his duty,” said Louis; “I admire him the more. If he had been
my servant, he would have done the same for me.”

Nor did the embassy meet with much better success on going to Sens,
where Pope Alexander III. then was. The Bishop of London began to abuse
the Archbishop virulently, saying that he had fled, “as the Scripture
saith. ‘The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth.’”

“Nay,” interrupted the Pope, “spare. I entreat you, spare--”

“I will spare him, holy father,” said Gilbert

“Not _him_, but _yourself_, brother,” said Alexander; and Gilbert was

Finding how favorably both Pope and King were disposed toward him,
Becket left his retreat at St. Omer, and was received with much respect
by Louis at Soissons, after which he proceeded to Sens. There he was
treated with high honor by Alexander, and almost his first measure
was to confess, with deep grief, that he considered his election
uncanonical, “the handiwork of men, and not of God,” and that therefore
these troubles had fallen on his Church. He therefore gave up his see;
but the Pope would not accept his resignation, and assigned to him the
Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny as his dwelling-place. Here he remained two
years, while the King persecuted his adherents and banished his kindred.
Four hundred poor creatures were stripped of their goods, and turned
adrift in Flanders, where they must have perished, had not the Count and
the Empress Maude taken pity on them.


  _King of England._
   1154. Henry II.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1165. William.

  _King of France._
   1137. Louis VII.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1152. Friedrich II.

   1159. Alexander III.

In 1166, Pope Alexander III. returned to Rome, after many vain attempts
to reconcile the King and Archbishop, and it was determined that Becket
should pronounce sentence of excommunication on the King and his chief
followers in his uncanonical proceedings. Henry was at this time
seriously ill, and Becket therefore did not include him under the
sentence; the others were excommunicated, and this so exasperated Henry,
that he intimated to the monks at Pontigny that he should seize all the
possessions of the Cistercians in England, if they continued to harbor
his enemy.

The poor monks were much distressed, and laid the letter before their
guest, who could, of course, do no other than depart. “He who feeds the
birds of the air, and clothes the lilies of the field, will provide
for me and my fellow-exiles,” said he; and he soon after received an
invitation from the King of France to choose any castle or convent in
his dominions for his abode. He selected the Abbey of St. Columba, a
little beyond the walls of Sens, and took leave of the brethren at
Pontigny, with such a burst of tears that the abbot remarked them with
surprise, and begged to know their cause. “I feel that my days are
numbered,” said Becket; “I dreamt, last night, that I was put to death.”

“Do you think you are going to be a martyr?” said the abbot. “You eat
and drink too much for that.”

“I know that I am too self-indulgent,” said the Arch bishop; “but God is
merciful, albeit I am unworthy of His favor.”

Legates were sent by the Pope to negotiate, and many letters were
written on either side, but without effect. The difference was said to
lie in a nutshell; but where the liberties of the Church were concerned,
Becket was inflexible. At the Epiphany, 1169, he was put to a severe
trial; Henry himself, who had long been at war with Louis le Jeune,
came to Montmirail, to hold a conference and sign a treaty, and he was
summoned to attend it. By the advice of the legates and other clergy,
Becket had agreed to give up the phrase which had formerly given the
King so much offence at Clarendon, “Saving the privileges of my order,”
 but not without inserting in its stead an equivalent, “Saving the honor
of God,” which, as being concerned in that of the Church, meant the same

Yet on this the clergy of France, who were always extremely submissive
to the crown, were by no means of Becket’s opinion, and tried so hard to
persuade him, for the sake of peace, to suppress this clause altogether,
and make no reservation, that the bold and faithful Herbert de Bosham
began to fear he might give way, and, pressing through the crowd as the
Archbishop was advancing to the presence of the two kings, he whispered
in his ear, “Take heed, my lord--walk warily. I tell you truly, if you
leave out the words, ‘Saving God’s honor,’ as you suppressed the other
phrase, saving your own order, your sorrow will be renewed, and the more

The throng was so dense, that Becket could only answer him by a look,
and he remained in great anxiety as he watched his master advance and
throw himself at the feet of King Henry; then, when raised up by the
King, begin to speak, accusing himself of being by his unworthiness, the
cause of the troubles of the English Church. “Therefore,” said he, “I
throw myself on your mercy and pleasure, my lord, on the whole matter
that lies between us, only _saving the honor of my God._”

Henry burst out in rage and fury, heaping on Becket a load of abuse;
declaring, to the King of France that this was all a pretence and that
he himself was willing, to leave the Archbishop to the full as much
power as any of his predecessors, but that he knew that, whatever the
Archbishop disapproved, he would say was contrary to God’s honor. “Now,”
 said Henry, “there have been many kings of England before me, some
of greater power than I am, some of less; and there have been many
archbishops of Canterbury before him. Now let him behave to me as the
holiest of his predecessors behaved to the least of mine, and I am

There was apparent reason in this, that brought over Louis to Henry’s
side, and he said, rather insultingly, “My lord Archbishop, do you wish
to be more than a saint?”

But Becket stood firm. He said there had indeed been holier and greater
archbishops before him, each one of whom had corrected some abuse of the
Church; and had they corrected all, he should not have been exposed to
this fiery trial. Besides, the point was, that Henry was not leaving the
Church as it had been under them, but seeking to bind a yoke on her that
they had never borne. Almost all the French clergy and nobles were now
against him; they called him obstinate and proud; the two kings mounted
their horses and rode away together, without bidding him farewell; and
some of the last words his clerks heard from the French nobles were, “He
has been cast out by England; let him find no support in France.”

Dreading what might come next, and grievously disappointed in their
hopes of returning to their homes, even his clerks were out of humor,
and blamed his determination. As they rode back in the gloom toward St.
Columba, the horse of one happened to stumble, and in his vexation he
exclaimed, “Come up, saving the honor of the Church and my order.”

The Archbishop looked grieved, but was silent, and Herbert took this
moment for riding up to him, and saying, “Heaven be praised, my lord,
that through all to-day’s tribulation you have been sustained by the
Lord, and have not suffered that slippery member to betray you into
anything against the honor of God.”

The great ground of anxiety was the displeasure of Louis, who had
hitherto not only allowed the exiles to take shelter in his dominions,
but absolutely maintained them; and if he was won over by their
persecutors, what was to become of them?

Their alarm increased as they heard nothing from him of his usual
messages of kindness and friendship, and they were consulting together
on their plans if they should be turned out of St. Columba.

“Never fear,” said the Archbishop; “I am the only person King Henry
wishes to injure: if I go away, no one will molest you.”

“It is for you we are anxious,” they said; “we do not see where you can
find refuge.”

“Care not for me,” he said: “my God can protect me. Though England and
France are closed against me, I shall not be undone. I will not apply to
those Roman robbers, who do nothing but plunder the needy. I have heard
that the people who dwell on the banks of the Arar, in Burgundy, are
open-handed. I will go among them, on foot, with one comrade, and they
will surely have compassion on me.”

Just then a messenger came to desire the Archbishop to come to the
lodgings of the French King.

“There! it is to drive us out of his kingdom,” said one of the clerks.

“Do not forebode evil,” returned Becket. “You are not a prophet, nor the
son of a prophet.”

Becket could hardly have been prepared for the manner of his reception.
Louis threw himself on his knees, crying out, “My father, forgive me;
you were the only wise man among us. We were all blinded and besotted,
and advised you to make God’s honor give way to a man’s will! I repent
of it, my father, and entreat you to bestow on me absolution!”

Louis had been brought to this change of mind by a breach of promise on
Henry’s part, but he never again wavered in his confidence and support
of Becket.

In the November of the same year there was another interview between the
two kings and Becket, at Montmartre, near Paris.

By this time, the Bishops of London and Salisbury had been
excommunicated for disobedience to their primate; and Henry, expecting
the same stroke to fall on himself, was resolved to put an end to the
quarrel, and, bringing back Becket to his kingdom, to deal with him
there as best he might.

Becket did not, by any means, trust the King’s intentions, and had
written to ask the Pope what pledge for his security he had better
require. Alexander answered, that it was not accordant with the
character of an ecclesiastic to stipulate for such pledges, but that
he had better content himself with obtaining from the King a kiss of

Now this kiss Henry would not give. He said he had sworn an oath never
to kiss the Archbishop, and this refusal immediately convinced every one
that evil was intended. Louis and all the Archbishop’s friends concurred
in advising him never to come to any terms without this seal of friend
ship, and entirely on this ground the treaty was broken off. One of
Becket’s clergy remarked, that the meeting had taken place on the spot
where St. Denys was put to death, adding, “It is my belief that nothing
but your martyrdom will insure peace to the Church.”

“Be it so,” said Becket; “God grant that she may be redeemed, even at
the sacrifice of my life.”

He began to make up his mind that, since the King had given up the point
at issue, he ought to allow no regard for his personal safety to keep
him away from his flock; but just at this point the quarrel became
further complicated. Henry, in dread of excommunication, resolved
to have his son Henry crowned, to reign jointly with him, and the
difficulty arose that no one could lawfully perform the coronation but
the primate. Letters prohibiting the bishops from taking part in the
coronation were sent by Becket, but, in the meantime, Gilbert Folliot
had been appealing to Rome against his own excommunication. The Pope,
who had been shuffling throughout, would not absolve him himself, but
gave him letters to the Archbishops of Rouen and Nevers, and they
granted him absolution; on which he returned triumphant to England, and
joined with Roger of York and Hilary of Chichester in setting the
crown on the head of young Henry. It was a measure which every person
concerned in it had bitterly to rue--king, prince, bishops, every one,
except Margaret, young Henry’s wife, who steadily avoided receiving the
crown from any one but her old tutor and friend, the primate.

Pope and Archbishop both agreed that this contempt of prohibition must
be visited by excommunication; and as Alexander had about this time
effectually humbled the pride of the Emperor Frederick, Henry thought it
time to submit, at least in appearance, lest his realm should be laid
under an interdict. At Freitval, therefore, he met the Archbishop in
the autumn of 1170, and all was arranged. He consented to the
excommunication of those concerned in the coronation; he held Becket’s
stirrup; he did everything but give the kiss of peace, but that he
constantly avoided. Even when they went to church together at Tours,
when, in the course of the communion service, Henry must have received
the kiss from the Archbishop, he contrived to change the service to the
mass for the dead, in which the kiss did not occur. The last time the
King and Archbishop met was at Chaumont, near Blois, and here they had a
return of old feelings, talked cheerfully and in a friendly manner, and
Henry was so much touched by his remembrance of his happiest and best
days, when his noble Chancellor was his friend and counsellor, that
he exclaimed, “Why will you not do as I wish you? I would put all my
affairs into your hands.”

But Becket told his clerks that he recollected, “All these things will I
give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

They parted for the last time, and Becket prepared for his return,
after his seven years’ exile, sending before him letters from the Pope,
suspending the Archbishop of York, and excommunicating the other bishops
who had assisted at the coronation. At every step warnings met him that
the English coast was beset with his foes, lying in wait to murder him;
but he was resolved to proceed, and bold Herbert helped to strengthen
his resolution by his arguments. On the 3d of December he set sail from
the Boulogne coast. “There is England, my lord!” cried the rejoicing

“You are glad to go,” he said; “but, before forty days, you will wish
yourself anywhere else.”

With extreme joy did the people of Sandwich see, for the first time for
seven years, the archepiscopal cross, as it stood high above the prow of
the ship. They thronged to receive their pastor and ask his blessing,
and in every village through which he passed the parish priest came
forth, with cross or banner, his flock in procession behind him, and the
bells pealing merrily, while the road was strewed with garlands.

At Canterbury the joy was extreme; anthems were sung in all the
churches, and the streets resounded with trumpets and the shouts of the
people in their holiday robes. The Archbishop rode through the midst,
saluted each of the monks of Christ Church on the cheek, and then went
straight to his own cathedral, where his greeting to his flock was a
sermon on the text, “Here we have no abiding city.”

After taking possession of his palace, Becket set out to London to visit
his pupil, the young King, taking him a present of a fine horse; but he
was not allowed to see him, and the courtiers threatened him severely,
because of the rejoicings of the citizens of London. At home he was much
annoyed by his old enemy, Ranulf de Broc, who from Saltwood Castle made
forays on all that were going to the archiepiscopal palace, stole his
baggage, and cut off the tail of one of the poor horses that carried it.

The bishops who had been placed under the censures of the Church were,
meanwhile, in violent anger. Roger of York said he had 8,000 crowns in
his coffers, and would spend every one of them in beating down Thomas’s
insolence: and together they all set out to make their complaints to the
King, who was at Falaise.

It would seem that Henry either forgot, or did not choose to tell them,
of the permission he had given Becket at Freital, and he went into a
passion, saying, if all who were concerned in the coronation were to be
excommunicated, he ought to be one. The Archbishop of York talked of
patience and good contrivance. “What would you have me do?” said Henry.

“Your barons must advise you,” said one of the bishops (which, is not
known); “but as long as Thomas lives, you will never be at peace.”

Henry’s eyes flashed. “A curse,” cried he, “on all the false varlets I
have maintained, who have left me so long subject to the insolence of a
priest, without attempting to rid me of him!”

A council of the barons was called, and Henry found them willing enough
to advise him as he wished. “The only way to deal with such a fellow,”
 said one, “is to plait a few withe in a rope, and have him up to a
gallows.” In the midst of the council, however, it was observed that
four of the King’s knights were missing--Reginald Fitzurse, William
Tracy, Hugh Morville, and William Brito. It was remembered that they had
heard the King’s words about the insolent priest, and, becoming alarmed
for the consequences, Henry sent off the Earl of Mandeville, and some
others, with orders to overtake them, and arrest the Archbishop.

The four knights had held a hasty council, after which they set out
separately, agreeing to meet in Saltwood Castle, where they were sure
of assistance in their designs from Randolf de Broc. They reached it on
Innocents’ day, and the next day set out for Canterbury, accompanied by
several of the Broc family and their armed retainers. In the meantime,
Becket had been keeping Christmas, and preaching his last sermon on
the text, “Peace on earth, good-will to men.” He had sent away his
cross-bearer, Alexander Llewellyn, and his high-minded friend, Herbert
de Bosham, with letters to the Pope--perhaps because he was afraid that
Herbert’s boldness might bring him into peril; and he was sitting in his
own chamber writing, when the four knights arrived, and desired to speak
with him.

He received them with his clergy about him, and they began to threaten
him in the name of the King, and order him to leave the kingdom. He must
fully have understood the meaning of all this; but he stood firm, and
quietly answered all their railing. They then told him his doings should
recoil on his own head; and on his replying that he was ready to suffer
martyrdom, they noisily left the room, Fiturse shouting out, “Ho! clerks
and monks, in the King’s name seize that man, and keep him till justice
is done.”

“You will find me here,” answered Becket, standing by the door.

The knights had gone back to arm themselves and join their retainers.
In the meantime the terrified clergy fastened all the doors of the
monastery, and besought the Archbishop to take shelter in the church;
but he seemed the only person present who had no fear, and replied
that he would not flee--he would remain where he was. At last he was
persuaded to come into church, as it was the hour for vespers, and set
off, with the cross borne before him.

“My lord! my lord! they are arming!” cried one frightened monk; and
another brought word that they were upon them--Robert de Broc having
shown them the way through the orchard. Still Becket was calm; and as
the monks tried to drag him into the church, he stood at the door,
saying, “Go on with the holy service. As long as you are afraid of
death, I will not enter.”

They proceeded, and he advanced up the aisle. As he was going up the
steps to the altar, there was a rush of monks into the church; for
Reginald Fitzurse, with a drawn sword, had just come through the
cloister door, the other murderers following. Becket turned, on seeing
the monks trying to bolt and bar the church doors. “It is not right,”
 said he; “to make a fortress of the house of prayer. It can protect
its own, even if its doors are open. We shall conquer our enemies by
suffering, not by fighting.”

The vespers ceased; the clergy threw themselves on the altars for
protection; the Archbishop stood alone with one canon, with Fitzstephen
and Edward Grim, a priest who had come to visit him. In rushed the band
of armed men, crying out, “Where is the traitor, Thomas Becket?” To this
he made no answer; but when the cry was, “Where is the Archbishop?” he
came down the steps, saying, “Here I am; no traitor, but a priest of the
Lord. What would you of me?”

“Absolve those you have excommunicated.”

“They have not repented, and I will not.”

“Then you shall die.”

“I am ready, for the Lord’s sake; but, in the name of Almighty God, I
forbid you to harm these, whether priests or laymen.”

“Flee, or you are a dead man!” cried one, striking him with the back of
his sword, and unwilling, apparently, to slay him in the church. They
tried to push him away from the pillar against which he was standing,
but in vain. Becket was a tall, powerful man, expert in the use of
weapons. Had he snatched a sword from one of these, he might have saved
his life; but temporal arms he had long since laid aside, and he only
stood still, clasped his hands in prayer, and commended his soul to his
God. Reginald Fitzurse began to fear the people might break in to his
rescue, and struck a blow which wounded his head, as well as the arm
of Edward Grim, who fled to the altar; but Becket did not move hand or
foot--only, as the blood flowed from his face, he said, “In the name of
Christ, and for the defence of the Church, I am ready to die.” Tracy
struck him again twice on the head: he staggered, and, as he was
falling, the fourth stroke, given by Brito, cleft off the top of his
skull with such violence, that the sword broke against the pavement.

The murderers, after making sure of his death, left the church; the
monks took up his corpse, unwounded, save the crown of his head, which
was shattered to pieces above his tonsure, and laid it out on the high
altar, deeming that he had indeed been a sacrifice, and weeping as they
beheld the beauty of his peaceful expression, as if he had calmly fallen
asleep. They folded outward the haircloth shirt he had always worn
secretly; and as the blood still trickled from the wound, it was caught
in a dish.

The threats of Randolf de Broc obliged them to bury him in haste the
next morning; and they were strictly forbidden to place his coffin among
those of the former archbishops--a command which they obeyed, from the
dread that otherwise his remains might be insulted. They had not long to
fear. Europe rang with horror at the crime, and admiration, rather
than compassion, for the victim. No one was more shocked than the King
himself, who was at Bure, in Normandy, when the news reached him. For
three days he remained shut; up in his room, taking no food, and seeing
no one, in an agony of grief and dismay at the consequence of his hasty
words, and dwelling on those days of early friendship which he had
passed with the murdered Becket. Not till these first paroxysms of grief
were over was he even able to think of the danger he was in; and he then
sent off an embassy to explain to the Pope how far he was from intending
the bloody deed, and to entreat forgiveness.

He was at a loss how to treat the murderers. He could not punish what
his own words had been supposed to authorize, and he dared not let them
escape, lest he should be supposed to be their defender. He therefore
let them reap the benefit of the liberties for which Becket had died:
their crime was done on the person of a clerk; therefore it was left to
the censures of the Church.

They had, in the meantime, fled to Morville’s Castle, in Cumberland,
where they found themselves regarded with universal execration; their
servants shrank from their presence, and, in the exaggerations of
tradition, it was said that the very dogs would not approach them.

Overwhelmed with remorse, they set out for Italy, and dreaded and
avoided, as if they bore a mark like the first “murderer and vagabond,”
 they threw themselves at the feet of the Pope, and entreated to know
what they should do to obtain mercy. He ordered them to go on pilgrimage
to Jerusalem; and they all went except Tracy, who, lingering behind, was
seized with a dreadful illness, and died at Cosenza. The others all died
within three years, with deep marks of penitence, and were buried before
the door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Henry obtained pardon from the Pope on giving up all attempts at
subjecting the Church to the law of the State, and on giving a large sum
of money to maintain 200 knights for three years in the Holy Land. He
also largely endowed Mary and Agnes Becket, the Archbishop’s sisters,
with possessions in his newly-conquered domain in Ireland; and one of
them became the ancestress of the noble family of Butler, Earls of

The cathedral at Canterbury had, in the meantime, been sprinkled with
holy water, to purify it from the crime of sacrilege and murder there
committed, and for which it had been a whole year left neglected, and
without the celebration of Divine service. On its reopening, gifts
poured in from all quarters, in honor of the Archbishop, and it was
repaired and beautified to a great degree. The beautiful circular chapel
at the east end was named Becket’s Crown, and the spot by the north
transept, where he fell, was termed The Martyrdom. Reports of miracles
having been performed at his intercession were carried to Rome, and Pope
Alexander canonized him as St. Thomas of Canterbury. The next year,
1174, Henry II., who was broken down with grief at the rebellion of his
sons, rode from Southampton to Canterbury without resting, taking no
food but bread and water, entered the city, and walked through the
streets barefoot to the cathedral, and into the crypt, where he threw
himself prostrate on the ground, while Gilbert Folliot preached to the

In the chapter-house Henry caused each of the clergy present, to the
number of eighty, to strike him over the shoulders with a knotted cord,
and afterward spent the whole night beside the tomb. He heard mass the
next morning, and returned to London.

A few years after, Louis VII. came to pray at the tomb of his friend for
the recovery of his son Philippe Auguste, who was ill of a fever. He
made splendid gifts to the cathedral, and in especial a very large
diamond, and a golden cup. In Italy Thomas was equally honored. William
the Good, of Sicily, who married Joan, daughter to Henry II., placed a
colossal statue of St. Thomas of Canterbury in his new foundation,
the Church of Monreale; and at Agnani there is still preserved a
richly-embroidered cope, presented by Pope Innocent III., bearing
thirty-six different scenes in delicate needlework, and among them the
death of the English Archbishop. There are also many German and French
representations of the subject; the murderers, in the more ancient
ones, carefully distinguished by their shields: Morville, _fretty
fleur-de-lis_; Tracy, _two bars gules_; Brito, _three bears, heads
muzzled_; Fitzurse, _three bears passant_.

In Henry III.’s reign a new shrine was built at Canterbury, and the
Archbishop’s relics were thither translated. No saint in England was
more popular than St. Thomas of Canterbury, and frequent pilgrimages
were made to his shrine. The Canterbury Pilgrims of Chaucer are thither
journeying, and Simon of Sudbury, the archbishop killed by Wat Tyler’s
mob, is said to have made himself unpopular by rebuking the superstition
that made the ignorant believe in the efficacy of these pilgrimages.

Then came the reaction. Henry VIII., little able to endure such a saint
as Becket, sent the spoilers to Canterbury. Lord Cromwell burnt his
relics, and carried off the treasures of gold and jewels, which filled
two chests, so heavy that six or eight men were wanted to carry each of
them. Henry wore Louis VII.’s diamond in a ring. The costly shrine was
destroyed, and the pavement, worn by the knees of the pilgrims, alone
remained to show where Becket’s tomb had been. In London, the house of
Gilbert à Becket, in Southwark, where the Saracen lady had ended her
toilsome journey, and where Thomas had been born, had, in Henry III.’s
reign, been made a hospital; Edward VI. granted it for the same use; and
thus it still remains, by its old name of St. Thomas’s Hospital, which
perhaps would not so generally be given it, if it were known after what
saint it was so called. His likeness was destroyed in every church and
public building, so that but one head of St. Thomas à Becket is known
to exist in England--namely, one in stained glass, at the village of
Horton, in Ribblesdale--and even in missals and breviaries it was

No one has met with more abuse than Becket, ever since the Reformation.
Proud, ostentatious, hypocritical, and rebellious--these are the terms
usually bestowed on him. How far he deserves them, may be judged from a
life detailed with unusual minuteness by three intimate companions, none
of them treating him as faultless. Of the rights of the struggle we will
not speak. No one can doubt that Becket gave his life for the cause
which, in all sincerity, he deemed that of the Church against the World.

The fate of the murderers has been questioned in later times. It is said
that they died at home, in peace and fair prosperity; but the evidence
on either side is nearly balanced.


Few histories are more strange and confused than the Irish. The
inhabitants of Ierne, or Erin, as far as anything credible can be
discovered about them, were of three different nations, who had in turn
subdued the island before the beginning of history. These were the Tuath
de Dunans, the Firbolg, and the Scots, or Milesians. Who the two first
were, we will not attempt to say, though Irish traditions declare that
some of them were there before the Flood, and that one Fintan was saved
by being transformed into a salmon, and so swimming about till the water
subsided, after which he resumed the human form, and lived so long that
the saying was, “I could tell you much, if I was as old as Fintan.”

The Milesians are not much behind their predecessors in their claim, for
they say they are descended from a son of Japhet, and first discovered
writing, and all the arts commonly said to have been derived from Egypt,
but which they assert were carried thither by one Neill, who gave his
name to the river Nile, as well as to his sons, all the O’Neills of

It is more certain that these Milesians were Kelts, and were in early
times called Scots. A colony of them conquered the Picts; drove the
Caledonians into Galway, and gave North Britain, or Albin the name of
Lesser Scotland, while their own country, or Greater Scotia, returned
to its former name of Erin, called by the Romans Hibernia, and by the
English, Ireland.

The Erse tongue is nearly the same as the Gaelic, and there was much in
the Irish and Highland institutions showing their common origin. The
clan system prevailed in Ireland, the clans being called Septs, and
all having, as a surname, the name of the common ancestor. His
representative, the chief, was known as the Carfinny; but the succession
was not determined by the rules of primogeniture. It was always in one
family, but the choice was made by election of the next heir. When a
Carfinny died, another came into office who had been chosen on his
accession as heir, or Tanist, and at the same time another Tanist
was chosen to succeed him as Carfinny at his death. The land was the
property of the tribe, divided into holdings; and whenever the death of
a considerable proprietor took place, there was a fresh allotment of
the whole, which, of course, as well as the choice of a Tanist, set the
whole population at war.

There were four kingdoms--Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught--to
which the chiefs succeeded by tanistry, besides Meath, another kingdom
which always belonged to the principal king, or Toparch, who was in
like manner elected as Tanist on each new accession; and the number
of battles and murders among these wild Irish princes is beyond all
estimate. Out of 178 kings, 71 were slain in battle, and 60 murdered.

Christianity was brought to Ireland about the year 400, by St. Colman
and St. Patrick. It does not seem to have materially softened the
manners of the people at large, whose wars went on as fiercely as ever;
but the churches were seats of peace and learning, whence teachers went
forth in numbers into Gaul, and among the heathen Saxons of England. The
Roman calender shows so many names of Irish hermits, priests, and nuns,
that we do not wonder Erin once was known as the Isle of Saints.

The Northmen made their cruel inroads on Ireland, and swept away much
of the beginnings of civilization. Turges, a Danish chief, was, in 815,
King of all Ireland; and having forced Melachlin, or Malachy, King of
Meath, to give up his daughter to him, Melachlin sent with her, in the
disguise of female attendants, sixteen young men armed with skeynes, or
long knives. They killed Turges, and brought the princess back to her
father, who was waiting in ambush at no great distance with his armed
men, set upon the Danes, defeated them, and, being joined by the other
Irish princes, destroyed them all.

It is said that shortly before, Melachlin, when at the court of Turges,
had told him that Ireland was full of a kind of foul, ravenous bird, and
asked his advice how to get rid of them; to which Turges answered, that
he had better destroy the nests--eggs, nestlings, and all--counsel which
the Irish hardly needed; and the massacre of the Danish raven’s brood
was frightful.

During the lull brought about by Alfred’s conquests, the Irish enjoyed
the halcyon days remembered as those of Malachy with the collar of gold
(which he had torn from the neck of a conquered Dane), and those of
Brien Boromhe, or Boru, the great Brien, in whose reign a maiden, though

  “Rich and rare were the gems she wore,”
    travelled safely round the Green Isle unprotected,
   save by “Erin’s honor and Erin’s pride.”

But when England suffered again, Ireland shared its fate, and, in 1004,
Brien Boru, at the age of eighty-eight, perished in the great battle of
Clontarf, with his eldest son Morogh, and the Danes gained a permanent
settlement, besides making endless forays on the coast. King Olaf
Trygvesson, of Norway, conducted one of these descents; and while
driving off a large herd of cattle, a peasant so piteously entreated to
have his own cows restored, that the king told him he might take them,
if he could tell at once which they were, but that he must not delay the
march. The peasant said his dog knew them, and sent the animal into the
midst of the herd, which consisted of several hundreds, when he drove
out just the number his master had asked, and all bearing the same mark.
The King desired to purchase the intelligent animal, but the man begged
that he would take it as a gift; on which Olaf presented him with a gold
ring, and kept and valued the faithful Vige as “the best of dogs” for
many years after.

Turlogh, the contemporary of the Conqueror, seems to have been
prosperous, since his subjects were rich enough to buy the unfortunate
English, who were sold for slaves, till St. Wulstan put a stop to the

Morogh O’Brien, of Leinster, sent to William Rufus bog oak from the
green of Oxmanton, on the Liffey, to serve for the timber of the roof of
Westminster Hall; and this wood, enjoying the universal Irish exemption
from vermin, is said never to harbor a spider. Morogh was once told
that William Rufus intended to make a bridge of his ships, and conquer
Ireland. After some musing, Morogh asked, “Hath the King, in his great
threatening, said, ‘If it please God?’” “No!” “Then, seeing he putteth
his trust only in man, and not in God, I fear not his coming.”

Morogh was a peaceable man. Magnus, the Norse King of Man, by way of
defiance, sent him his shoes, ordering him to hang them on his shoulders
on Christmas-day, as he passed through his hall. The Irish were, of
course, much enraged at the insult offered to their master, but Morogh
only laughed at the folly of the conceit, saying, “I will not only bear
his shoes, but I had rather eat them, than that he should destroy one
province in Ireland.” Magnus did not, however, give up his purpose of
invasion, but was killed in reconnoitring the coast. Morogh was murdered
at Dublin about 1130, and thenceforward all was dire confusion.

The Irish Church had never been decidedly under the dominion of Rome,
and the Popes, in the divided state of the country, obtained neither
money nor obedience from it. They thought much advantage might be gained
if it were under the rule of England; and in 1154, Adrian IV., assuming
that all islands were at the disposal of the Church, gave Henry II.
a bull, authorizing him to become Lord of Ireland, provided he would
establish the Pope’s authority there. However, the Irish, not being
likely readily to receive their new Lord, and Henry having full
occupation at home, allowed his grant to rest in oblivion till
circumstances arose to enable him to avail himself of it.

Dermod MacMorogh, King of Leinster, a cruel savage, who had barbarously
revenged the death of his father, the good Morogh, had, in the year
1152, stolen away Devorghal, the wife of Tigheirnach O’Rourke, Prince of
Breffny. The toparch, Turlogh O’Connor, was the friend of O’Rourke, and
forced Dermod to make restitution, but the husband and lover, of course,
remained bitter enemies; and when O’Connor died, the new chieftain,
O’Lachlan, being on the side of Dermod, O’Rourke was severely oppressed,
till the tables were turned by O’Lachlan being killed, and Roderick
O’Connor, the son of Turlogh, becoming toparch. Thereupon Leinster was
invaded in 1167, and Dermod was obliged to flee, setting fire to his
capital at Ferns. He hastened to Henry II. in Normandy, and offered his
allegiance, provided the King would restore him. But Henry was too much
engaged in his disputes with France to attend to the matter, and all
Dermod could obtain was a letter permitting the English knights to take
up his cause, if they were so inclined.

With these letters Dermod sought the fierce Normans whose estates
bordered on Wales. The first who attended to him was Richard de Clare,
son of the Earl of Pembroke, and surnamed Strongbow--a bold, adventurous
man, ruined by his extravagance, and kept at a distance by the King on
account of his ambition. To him Dermod offered the hand of his daughter
Eva, and the succession of Leinster, provided he would recover for him
the kingdom. Richard accepted, but thought it prudent to obtain the
King’s special permission; and in the meantime, Dermod, by his promises,
further engaged in his cause a small band of other knights--Robert
Fitzstephen, Maurice Fitzgerald, Milo Fitzhenry, Hervé de Montmarais,
and some others. In May, 1169, thirty knights, sixty men-at-arms, and
three hundred archers, landed at the Creek of Bann, near Wexford, to
conquer Ireland.

They first besieged Wexford, and took it; then attacked the Prince
of Ossory, and gained a great victory; after which they had full
opportunity of seeing of what a savage they had undertaken the defence,
for Dermod mangled with his teeth the face of his chief foe among the
slain, to gratify his revenge.

However, they fought not for the right, but for the spoil; and when
Roderick O’Connor sent to declare war against them, and inform them of
the true character of their ally, they returned a scornful answer; and,
with their heavy armor and good discipline, made such progress against
the half-armed Irish kernes, that Richard Strongbow saw the speculation
was a good one, and was in haste for his share. He went to the King, to
beg him either to give him his inheritance, or to grant him leave to
seek his fortune in other lands. “Go where thou wilt, for what I care,”
 said Henry. “Take Daedalus’s wings, and fly away.”

Taking this as sufficient consent, Strongbow sent before him 3,000 men
under his friend Raymond le Gros, and, landing on St. Bartholomew’s day,
joined his forces with Dermod, took Waterford, and in a few days was
married to Eva. The successes of the English continued, and on the death
of Dermod, which took place shortly after, he declared Earl Richard his
heir. However, the vassals would not submit to the Englishman, and the
invaders were for a time hard beset, and found it difficult to keep the
enemy at bay, while the King in great displeasure peremptorily summoned
Strongbow to return, and forbade men, horses, or arms to be sent to his
aid. On this Richard found himself obliged to make his peace with the
King, sending Raymond le Gros and Hervé de Montmarais before him. The
King was at Newnham, in Gloucestershire, and at first refused to see
him, but soon relented; and Richard, on entering his presence, threw
himself on his knees, and gave up to him the city of Dublin, and all
other towns and castles on the coast, after which Henry confirmed him
in the possession of the rest of Leinster, and made him Seneschal
of Ireland, though at the same time confiscating his castles in
Pembrokeshire, because his expedition had been unsanctioned. In October
of the next year, 1172, Henry himself came to Ireland, with 500 knights
and 4,000 men-at-arms. The Irish princes felt that it was needful to
submit to such power, nor was it with much reluctance on the part of the
toparchs, who had some pride in being under the sway of the mighty Henry
Fitzempress, rather than that of the petty chieftain of Meath.

Henry professed not to come as a conqueror, but in consequence of the
Pope’s grant, and soon received the submission of all the toparchs of
Leinster and Munster. Roderick O’Connor himself did not hold out, though
he would not come to the King, and only met Hugo de Lacy and William
Fitz Adhelm on the Shannon, where he swore allegiance, but, as appeared
afterward, with a mental reservation--Connaught he was willing to hold
under Henry, but Ireland he neither could nor did yield up.

Henry invited all these new subjects of his to keep Christmas with
him at Dublin, where he entertained them in a temporary structure of
wicker-work, outside the gates; and after receiving their homage, he
gave them a banquet of every kind of Norman delicacy, among which were
especially noticed roasted cranes--a food hitherto held in abhorrence by
them, so that partaking of it was a sort of pledge that they were about
to forsake their peculiar and barbarous habits. They are said to have
been much impressed by the splendor of Henry’s gold and jewels, the rich
robes of his court, and the chivalrous exercises of the knights and
nobles. Afterward he held a synod of the Irish clergy at Cashel, where
he caused the bull of Adrian to be read, and regulations were made for
the Church, requiring the priests to catechize children and baptize
them, enforcing the payment of tithes, and the performance of Divine
service, as well as that corpses should receive Christian burial. Henry
had intended to subject Ireland to English law, but the danger in which
he had been involved by the murder of Becket obliged him to return at
Easter, before his arrangements were completed. The lands settled by the
Normans around Dublin, which were called the English pale, were alone
under English laws; besides five septs--the O’Neills, the O’Connors, the
O’Briens, the O’Lachlans, and the MacMoroghs--all the rest were under
the Brehon, or Irish law; and an injury, or even murder done by an
Englishman on one of the Irish, was to be atoned for by a fine according
to this code.

Hugo de Lacy, [Footnote: The readers of “The Betrothed” will here
recognise a friend.] constable of Chester, an old, experienced warrior,
much trusted by the King, was made governor of Ireland with a grant
of the county of Meath. Shortly after, Oraric, a chieftain of that
territory, invited De Lacy to a conference on the hill of Tara, whither
each party was to come unarmed. The night before the meeting young
Griffith, the nephew of Maurice Fitzgerald, dreamt that he saw a herd of
wild boars rush upon his uncle and Hugo de Lacy, and tear them to pieces
with their tusks. Treating this dream as a warning, he chose seven tall
men of his own kindred, armed them well, and, leading them near the
place of conference, began to career about with them as if in chivalrous
exercises, always watching the assembly on the hill.

After a time Oraric retired a few steps from the rest, and made a sign,
on which an Irishman came forward and gave him his weapons. He instantly
fell upon Hugo de Lacy, and would have cloven his skull, if the
interpreter had not thrown himself between, and saved his master, with
the loss of his own arm. Oraric’s men sprung from their ambush, but at
the same moment the eight Fitzgeralds rushed to the rescue; the traitor
fled, pursued by Griffith, who overtook him, thrust him through with a
lance, cut off his head, and sent it to King Henry.

Hugo de Lacy kept tolerable order until the King recalled him in the
troubles occasioned by the rebellion of the young princes, when trusty
friends were scarce. Earl Strongbow became governor, and was at once
more violent and less firm in the restraint of English and Irish. He
quarrelled with Raymond le Gros for presuming to gain the affections
of his sister Basilia, and took from him the command, conferring it on
Hervé de Montmarais, a person much disliked. Raymond went home to Wales,
to receive his inheritance, on his father’s death; and the Irish, as
old Campion’s history says, rose “tagge and ragge;” headed by Roderick
O’Connor. They be sieged Waterford and Dublin; and Strongbow, in
distress, wrote to Raymond: “As soon as you read this, make all the
haste you can, bring all the help you can raise, and you shall have what
you have so long desired.” No further summons was needed; and just as
Waterford was on the point of being taken, and the wild Irish were about
to massacre the English, Raymond, with twenty ships, sailed into the
harbor, dispersed the Irish, relieved Dublin, and in his full armor
wedded the Lady Basilia. The very next morning he pursued the Irish; he
took Limerick, and reduced Roderick to come to a final peace with the
King, to whom that prince sent messengers, disdaining to treat with

Montmarais, being displaced, went in revenge to the King, and maligned
Raymond, so that Henry empowered commissioners to inquire into his
conduct, and send him home. Just as he was departing, the O’Briens of
Thomond broke out in insurrection, and besieged Limerick; the troops
refused to march unless under Raymond, and the commissioners were
obliged to send him to chastise the rebels. He pushed his conquests
into Desmond, and established his good fame. During his absence Earl
Strongbow died, leaving, by Eva, one daughter named Isabel, who, being
of tender age, became the ward of the Crown. It is said that he also had
a son by a former wife, and that this youth, being seized with a panic
in a battle with the Irish, was afterward stricken through with a sword
by his command, though given with streaming tears. He was buried at
Dublin, with an epitaph recording his cowardice.

The friends of Montmarais were resolved to let no tidings of Strongbow’s
death reach Raymond, that so they might first gain the ear of the King,
and prevent him being made governor. They turned back all the servants,
and intercepted all the letters sent to him with the news, till they
were outwitted by Lady Basilia. She wrote a letter to her husband, with
no word of her brother, but full of household matters; among others,
that she had lost the “master tooth which had been so long ailing, and
she sent it to him for a token.” The tooth was “tipped with gold and
burnished featly,” but Raymond knew it was none of his lady’s; and
gathering her meaning, hurried home, and was made Protector of Ireland
till the King’s pleasure should be known. Henry sent as governor William
Fitz Adhelm, a selfish voluptuary, under whose command all went ill;
and, indeed, the English rule never prospered except when in the hands
of good old Hugo de Lacy, under whom “the priest kept his church, the
soldier his garrison, and the ploughman followed his plough.” But Henry,
who was constantly tormented by jealousies of his Anglo-Irish nobles,
was perpetually recalling him on suspicion, and then finding it
necessary to send him back again. He built many castles, and, while
fortifying that of Dernwath, was entreated by some of the Irish to allow
them to work for hire. Glad to encourage any commencement of industry,
he took a pickaxe to show them how to work; when one of them, seizing
the moment when he bent forward to strike with it, cleft his head with
an axe, and killed him on the spot. His less worthy nephew and namesake
succeeded to his Irish estates, and at times held the government.

King Henry intended Ireland as the inheritance of his son John, and
in 1185 wrote to request the Pope to grant him the investiture. Urban
returned a favorable answer, and with it a crown of peacock’s feathers
set in gold--a more appropriate present than he intended for the
feather-pated prince, who was then sixteen years of age, and who, having
been knighted by his father, set off for Dublin, accompanied by a train
of youths of his own age, whom the steadier heads of the good knight
Philip Barry, and his clerkly relative Gerald, were unable to keep in
order. This Gerald Barry was the historian commonly known as Giraldus
Cambrensis, to whom we are chiefly indebted for the account of the
conquest of Ireland. The Irish chiefs of Leinster flocked to pay their
respects, but were most improperly received by John and his friends, who
could not restrain their mirth at their homely garb, and soon proceeded
to gibes and practical jokes; pricking them with pins, and rapping them
on the head with a stick as they bent to pay homage, tweaking their
ample mantles, and pulling their long beards and moustaches, all as if
they had studied to enrage this proud and sensitive people. These were
the Irish of the friendly country; and when those of more distant and
unsubdued regions heard what treatment they had met, they turned back,
and soon broke out in insurrection. John and his gay companions did not
stay to meet the storm they had raised, but hastily fled to England, and
the King wrote to Sir John de Courcy to take the government, and do his
best to restore obedience.

It is round this De Courcy that the interest of the Irish wars chiefly
centres. [Footnote: This history of De Courcy is derived from an old
life of him by an Irish priest, which is disputed by many historical
authorities] In his youth, while serving the King in Normandy, he had
made friends with Sir Almeric Tristrem, and, in true chivalrous style,
the two knights plighted their faith in the Church of our Lady at Rouen,
to be sworn brethren-in-arms, to live and die for each other, and to
divide equally whatever they might gain in war. Their friendship was
never broken till death, and their whole career was one of perfect
chivalry. Almeric became the husband of his friend’s sister, and in
honor of this closer alliance changed his surname to De St.
Laurence, their wedding-day being the feast of that Saint. The two
brethren-in-arms came into Ireland with Henry in 1172, and De Courcy
received a grant of Ulster, when he could conquer it. Sir Almeric at
once landed at Howth, and fought a bloody battle, in which he gained the
victory, but with the loss of seven of his kindred, and for that reason
Howth was made his portion, and long remained in his family. At the
battle of Daud, fought with Roderick O’Connor, the two friends, with
seven hundred men, were again victorious, owing to a timely charge of
Almeric’s with his reserve of forty horse. The next midsummer another
battle took place, with the same result, though Sir Almeric was so
sorely wounded that he was found lying, faint and bleeding, under a
hedge, eating honeysuckles by way of cure, and his son Nicholas received
nine wounds, and was left for dead. These successes made the Irish
submit, and De Courcy was acknowledged as their feudal chief. He
proceeded to build castles, and granted two of them to one MacMahon, who
had made every promise of fidelity. Within a month, De Courcy heard that
the castles were pulled down, and, on his calling his refractory vassal
to account, received a truly Irish answer: MacMahon said he had not
promised to hold stones, but land, and it was contrary to his nature to
couch within cold stones, when the warm woods were so nigh.

De Courcy proceeded to foray his land, and was driving off a great herd
of cattle, when a host of Irish set on him, and by their shouts so
frightened the cows, that they ran on the English, and more were killed
by being trodden down by them than were slain by the Irish; and De
Courcy and De St. Laurence with difficulty collected the remnant in a
little fort. At night Almeric went out to survey the enemy, and reported
that there were five thousand feasting and drinking at no great distance.
If they should fall on the wearied, hungry, and wounded English the next
day, they would make them an easy prey, and he therefore advised a
night-attack, to take them by surprise. The English sat silent, looking
at each other, til Sir John de Courcy spoke: “I looked all this while
for some of these young gallants to deliver their courage; but, Sir
Almeric, where are their horses bestowed?”

“Your white horse and my black,” said Sir Almeric, “I have cunningly
conveyed away, and the rest I can point out to you with my finger.”

“Then,” said Sir John, “let two men ride these two horses, gather their
horses together, and drive them in on the enemy; then, all who can bear
arms shall follow, and we will serve them with their horses as they did
us with our kine.”

The stratagem was completely successful; the Irish were entirely routed
with great slaughter, while the English lost only two--though the
preceding day had lost them four hundred men.

By six battles, altogether, Sir John established his power, and he then
received from Henry the rank of Earl of Ulster. He governed Ireland from
the time of Prince John’s flight till the accession of Richard Coeur de
Lion, with great prosperity; and during this time Roderick O’Connor was
dethroned by his sons, and forced to retire to a convent, where he died.

King Richard left the management of Irish affairs to his brother, who
took the government from De Courcy, and gave it to Hugo de Lacy, the
nephew. He, comporting himself as a favorite, of John was likely to
do, of course occasioned another war, and Cathal O’Connor, the
Bloody-handed, of Connaught, began to threaten Ulster. De Courcy
summoned Almeric to his aid, and the good knight set out with two
hundred foot and thirty horse; but, while passing through the enemy’s
country, he suddenly found himself beset by Cathal, at the head of an
enormous host. The horsemen might easily have saved themselves by their
speed; but though death was certain if he remained, this true knight
would not forsake the foot in their extremity.

In Hanmer’s affecting words, “Sir Almeric turned him to the foot
company, and hardly gathering breath with the sorrow of his heart,
resolved himself thus: ‘I have no power to fly, and leave my friends, my
flesh and blood, in this extreme distress. I will live with them who for
my sake came hither, if it so please God; or I will die with them, if
it be His pleasure, that, ending here, we shall meet again, bodies and
souls, at the last day. God and the world bear witness that we do as
Christian knights ought to do. I yield my soul into God’s hands; my body
to return whence it came; my service to my natural prince; my heart to
my wife, and brother Sir John de Courcy; my might, my force, my bloody
sweat, to the aid of you all that are in the field.’ He alighted,
kneeled on his knees, kissed the cross of his sword, ran his horse
through, saying, ‘Thou shalt never serve against me, that so worthily
hast served with me.’ All the horses were then killed but two, on which
he mounted two of the youngest of his followers, bidding them watch the
fight from the next hill, then make all speed to bear his greetings to
his brother De Courcy, and report that day’s service.”

When the Irish saw the devoted band so firmly awaiting their attack,
they fancied that succor must be near, and did not venture their onset
till the whole country had been reconnoitred. Every Englishman was
slain, but one thousand Irish also fell, and the death of these brave
men was not in vain. Cathal was so impressed by their courage, that he
sued for peace, and never ventured another pitched battle. He afterward
told Sir Hugo de Lacy that he thought verily there never was the like
seen on earth; for, when the Englishmen could not stand, they set
themselves back to back, and fought on till the last man was slain.

De Courcy long survived his faithful brother-in-arms, and stood so high
in all men’s estimation, that De Lacy in jealousy sent information to
King John, soon after the death of Arthur, that the Earl of Ulster was
sowing disaffection by accusing him of his nephew’s murder. This was the
very thing for which John had lately starved to death the Lady de Braose
and her children, and he sent orders to De Lacy to attack the person of
De Courcy. Every means of open force failed, and De Lacy was reduced to
tamper with his servants, two of whom at length informed him that it was
vain to think of seizing their master when he had his armor on, as
he was of immense strength and skill, nor did he ever lay aside his
weapons, except on Good Friday, when he was wont to walk up and down the
churchyard of Downe, alone and unarmed.

Accordingly, De Lacy sent a band of horsemen, who fell upon the betrayed
knight. He caught up a wooden cross, and made brave resistance, and so
did his two nephews, sons of Sir Almeric, who were with him; but they
had no weapon, and were both slain, while De Courcy was overpowered, and
carried a prisoner to London. The two traitors begged De Lacy to give
them passports to go to England; on which he gave them a sealed paper,
on condition of their not opening it themselves, nor returning on pain
of death. Now, the paper set forth that they were traitors no better
than Judas, and exhorted every true man to spit in their faces, and
drive them away. However, these letters were never delivered; for the
wretched men were driven, by stress of weather, back on the coast of
Ireland, and De Lacy had them hanged.

De Courcy continued in captivity till one of the many disputes between
John and Philippe Auguste was to be decided by the ordeal of battle.
The most stalwart of all John’s subjects was his prisoner, and he
immediately sent to release him from the Tower, offering him immense
rewards if he would become his champion. The old knight answered that
King John himself was not worthy to have one drop of blood shed for him;
and as to rewards, he could never requite the wrongs he had done him,
nor restore the heart’s ease he had robbed him of. For John Lackland he
would never fight, nor for such as him, but for the honor of the Crown,
and of England, he undertook the cause. The old warrior, wasted with
imprisonment, was prepared by good feeding, and received his weapons:
the Frenchman fled at once, and De Courcy prepared to return to Ireland.
He made fifteen attempts to cross, and each time was forced to put back.
At length, as old chronicles relate, he was warned in a dream to make
the trial no more: for, said the voice, “Thou hast done ill: thou hast
pulled down the master, and set up the servant.”

This was thought to refer to his having newly dedicated the cathedral of
Downe in the name of St. Patrick, whereas before it had been the Church
of the Holy Trinity. He took blame to himself, submitted, and going to
France, there died at an advanced age. For his championship, the right
of wearing the head covered in the presence of royalty was granted to
him and his heirs, and it is still the privilege of his descendants, the
Earls of Kinsale;

  “For when every head is unbonneted
  They walk in cap and plume.”


  _King of England_.
   1154. Henry II.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1165. William.

  _Kings of France_.
   1137. Louis VII.
   1180. Philippe II.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1152. Friedrich I.

  _Popes of Rome_.
   1154. Adrian IV.
   1159. Alexander III.
   1181. Lucius III.
   1185. Urban III.
   1187. Gregory VIII.

“The gods are just, and of our pleasant sins make whips to scourge us.”
 This saying tells the history of the reign of Henry of the Court Mantle.

Ambition and ill faith were the crimes of Henry from his youth upward,
and he was a man of sufficiently warm affections to suffer severely from
the retribution they brought on him, when, through his children, they
recoiled upon his head. “When once he loveth, scarcely will he ever
hate; when once he hateth, scarcely ever receiveth he into grace,” was
written of him by his tutor, Peter of Blois, and his life proved that it
was a true estimate of his character.

The root of his misfortunes may be traced to his ambitious marriage with
Eleanor of Aquitaine, twelve years older than himself, and divorced by
Louis VII. of France on account of her flagrant misconduct in Palestine,
in the course of the miserable expedition called the Second Crusade. For
her broad lands, he deserted the woman whom he loved, and who had left
her home and duty for his sake, and on his promise of marriage.

Fair Rosamond Clifford was the daughter of a Herefordshire baron, with
whom Henry became acquainted in his seventeenth year, when he came to
England, in 1149, to dispute the crown with Stephen. He lodged her at
Woodstock, in the tower built, according to ballad lore, “most curiously
of stone and timber strong,” and with such a labyrinth leading to it
that “none, but with a clue of thread, could enter in or out.” There
Rosamond remained while he returned to France to receive Normandy and
Anjou, on the death of his father, and on going to pay homage to Louis
VII., ingratiated himself with Queen Eleanor, whose divorce was then
impending. Eleanor and her sister Petronella were joint heiresses of the
great duchy of Aquitaine, their father having died on pilgrimage to the
shrine of Santiago de Compostella, and the desire of the fairest and
wealthiest provinces of the south of France led the young prince to
forget his ties to Rosamond and her infant son William, and never take
into consideration what the woman must be of whom her present husband
was resolved to rid himself at the risk of seeing half his kingdom in
the hands of his most formidable enemy.

For some time Rosamond seems to have been kept in ignorance of Henry’s
unfaithfulness; but in 1152, the year of his coronation, and of the
birth of her second child, Geoffrey, she quitted Woodstock, and retired
into the nunnery of Godstow, which the King richly endowed. It has been
one of the favorite legends of English history, that the Queen traced
her out in her retreat by a ball of silk that had entangled itself in
Henry’s spurs, and that she offered her the choice of death by the
dagger or by poison; but this tale has been refuted by sober proof;
there is no reason to believe that Eleanor was a murderess; and it is
certain that Rosamond, on learning how she had been deceived, took
refuge in the nunnery, where she ended her days twenty years after, in
penitence and peace, far happier than her betrayer. Her sons, William
and Geoffrey, were honorably brought up, and her remains were placed in
the choir, under a silken canopy, with tapers burning round, while the
Sisters of the convent prayed for mercy on her soul and King Henry’s.
Even King John paid the costs of this supposed expiation; but St. Hugh,
Bishop of Lincoln, not thinking it well that her history should be
before the minds of the nuns, ordered the corpse to be interred in the
ordinary burial-place of the convent.

During most of these twenty years of Rosamond’s repentance, all
apparently prospered with Henry. The rigorous justice administered by
his excellent chancellor, Ranulf de Glanville, had restored order to
England; the only man bold enough to gainsay him had been driven from
the kingdom. Ireland was in course of conquest, and his astute policy
was continually overreaching the simple-minded Louis VI., who, having
derived the surname of _le jeune_ from his age at his accession, was so
boyish a character all his life as never to lose it.

Four sons and three daughters were born to Henry and Eleanor, and in
their infancy he arranged such alliances as might obtain a still wider
power for them--nay, even the kingdom of France. Louis VI. had married
again, but his second wife died, leaving two infant girls, named
Margaret and Alice, and to them Henry betrothed his two eldest sons,
Henry and Richard. It was to ask the hand of Margaret for the prince
that Becket took his celebrated journey to Paris, and the young pair,
Henry and Margaret, were committed to his care for education; but the
disputes with the King prevented their being sufficiently long in his
hands for the correction of the evil spirit of the Angevin princes.

By threats of war, Henry obtained for Geoffrey, his third son,
Constance, the only child of Conan, Duke of Brittany; though the
Bretons, who hated Normans, Angevins, and English with equal bitterness,
were extremely angry at finding themselves thus connected with all
three. On Conan’s death, Geoffrey, then ten years old, was called Duke
of Brittany, but his father took the whole government into his hands,
and made it a heavy yoke.

John, Count of Mortagne, for whom no heiress had been obtained, was
gayly called by his father Lackland--a name which his after-life fitted
to him but too well. Richard was intended to be the inheritor of his
mother’s beautiful duchy of Aquitaine, where he spent most of his early
years. It was a strange country, where the ordinary events of life
partook so much of romance that we can hardly believe them real.

It had never been so peopled by the Franks as to lose either the
language or the cultivation left by the Romans. The _langue d’oc_ had
much resemblance to the Latin, and was beautifully soft and adapted to
poetry; and when the nobles adopted chivalry, they ornamented it with
all the graces of their superior education. The talent of improvising
verses was common among them; and to be a minstrel, or, as they called
it, a troubadour (a finder of verses), was essential to the character of
a complete gentleman.

Courts of beauty and love took place, where arguments were held on cases
of allegiance of a knight to his lady-love, and competitions in poetry,
in which the reward was a golden violet. Each troubadour thought it
needful to be dedicated to the service of some lady, in whose honor all
his exploits in arms or achievements in minstrelsy were performed. To
what an extravagant length this devotion was carried, is shown in the
story of Jauffred Rudel, Lord of Blieux, who, having heard from some
Crusaders a glowing account of the beauty and courtesy of the Countess
of Tripoli, on their report made her the object of his affections, and
wrote poem after poem upon her, of which one has come down to our times:

  “No other love shall e’er be mine,
  None save my love so far away;
  For one more fair I’ll never know,
  In region near, or far away.”

Thus his last verse may be translated, and his “_amour luench_,” or love
far away, occurs in every other line. He embarked for Palestine for the
sole purpose of seeing his _amour luench_, but fell sick on the voyage,
and was speechless when he arrived. The countess, hearing to what a
condition his admiration had brought him, came on board the vessel to
see him; the sight of her so charmed him, that he was able to say a few
words to her before he expired. She caused him to be buried with
great splendor, and erected a porphyry tomb over him, with an Arabic

The romance of the Languedoçians was unhappily not accompanied by purity
of manners, and much of Queen Eleanor’s misconduct may be ascribed to
the tone prevalent in her native duchy, to which she was much attached.
Her brave son, Richard, growing up in this land of minstrelsy, became
a thorough troubadour, and loved no portion of his father’s domains
as well as the sunny south; and his two brothers, Henry and Geoffrey,
likewise fell much under the influence of the poetical knights of
Aquitaine, especially Bertrand de Born, Viscount de Hautefort, an
accomplished noble, who was the intimate friend of all the princes.

The King’s first disappointment was when, at length, a son was born to
Louis VI., who had hitherto, to use his own words, “been afflicted
with a multitude of daughters.” This son of his old age was christened
“Philippe _Dieu donné_,” and the servant who brought the welcome tidings
of his birth was rewarded with a grant of three measures of wheat yearly
from the royal farm of Gonesse. Soon after, Louis dreamt that he saw
his son holding a goblet of blood in his hand, from which his valor was
predicted, and he did indeed seem born to visit the offences of the
Plantagenets on their own heads. Even while quite a child, when present
at a conference between the two kings under the Elm of Gisors, he was
shrewd enough to perceive that Henry was unjustly overreaching his
father, and surprised all present by exclaiming, “Sir, you do my father
wrong. I perceive that you always gain the advantage over him. I cannot
hinder you now, but I give you notice that, when I am grown up, I will
take back all of which you now deprive us.” And, by fair means and foul,
he kept his word.

Next Henry began to find that the Church would not allow him to remain
in peace while he kept the Archbishop in exile, and the dread of
excommunication caused him to obviate the danger of his subjects being
released from their oaths of allegiance, by causing his eldest son to
be crowned, and receive their homage. The Princess Margaret was in
Aquitaine with Queen Eleanor; and when she found that the rights of her
former tutor, Becket, were neglected, and the ceremony to be performed
by the Archbishop of York, she refused to come to England, and her
husband was crowned alone. It was then that his father carved at his
banquet, and he made the arrogant speech respecting the son of a count
and the son of a king.

That year was marked by the murder of the Archbishop, and soon after the
storm began to burst. Young Henry, now nineteen years of age, went with
his wife to pay a visit to her father at Paris, and returned full of
discontent, complaining that he was a king only in name, since he had
not even a house to himself, and insisting on his father’s giving up to
him at once either England, Normandy, or Anjou.

His complaints were echoed by Richard and Geoffrey, who were with their
mother in Aquitaine. Richard had received investiture of the county of
Poitiers, but the entire authority was in the hands of Castellanes,
appointed by his father, and the proud natives were stirring up the
young prince to shake off the bondage in which he, like them, was held.
Geoffrey, though only fifteen, thought himself aggrieved by not having
yet received his wife’s duchy of Brittany, and positively refused to pay
homage for it to his eldest brother, when newly crowned to repair the
irregularity of his first coronation, and for this opposition the
high-spirited Bretons forgave his Angevin blood, and looked on him as
their champion. The boys’ discontents were aggravated by their mother,
and the state of feeling was so well known in the South, that when
Henry and his eldest son came to Limoges to receive the homage of Count
Raymond of Toulouse, that noble, on coming to the part of the oath of
fealty where he was engaged to counsel his lord against his enemies,
added, “I should warn you to secure your castles of Poitou and
Aquitaine, and to mistrust your wife and sons.”

Henry, who was aware of the danger, under pretext of hunting, visited
his principal fortresses, and, to guard against the evil designs of his
son Henry, caused him to sleep in his own bedroom. At Chinon, however,
the youth contrived to elude his vigilance, stole away, and escaped to
Paris, where he was received in a manner that reflects great discredit
on the French monarch.

When the elder Henry sent to Paris to desire the restoration of the
fugitive, the messengers found him royally robed, and seated by the side
of the French King, who received them, asking from whom they came.

“From Henry, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of
Anjou and Maine.”

“That is not true. Here sits Henry, King of England, who has no message
to send me by you. But if you mean his father, the late King of England,
he has been dead ever since his son has worn the crown; and if he still
pretends to be a king, I will soon find a cure.”

Young Henry adopted a great seal, and wrote letters to the Pope, his
mother, and brothers, exciting them against his father, and putting
forth a manifesto declaring that he could not leave unpunished the death
of “his foster-father, the glorious martyr St. Thomas of Canterbury,
whose blood was crying out for vengeance.”

On receiving these letters, Richard and Geoffrey hurried to meet him
at Paris, and Queen Eleanor was following in male attire, when she was
seized and made prisoner. Louis caused the two boys to swear that they
would never conclude a peace with their father without his consent, and
they were joined by great numbers of the Norman and Poitevin nobility,
even from among the King’s immediate attendants. Each morning some one
was missed from his court, and known to be gone over to the enemy, but
still Henry outwardly kept up his spirits, conversed gaily, and hunted
as usual.

Only once did he give way. Geoffrey, the son of Rosamond, was
devotedly attached to him, and had at his own expense raised an army of
Brabançons, or mercenary soldiers, and defeated an inroad of the Scots,
and he now brought his victorious force to the aid of his father.
Rosamond was just dead in her nunnery, and at his first meeting with her
son, Henry embraced him with tears, exclaiming, “Thou art my true and
lawful son!” The bishopric of Lincoln was destined to Geoffrey, but he
was only twenty, and was unwilling to take orders, thinking himself
better able to help his father as a layman.

The Brabançons were the only troops on whom the King could rely, and
with them he marched against the Bretons, who had been encouraged by
Louis and their young Duke to rebel. They were defeated, and Louis, not
wishing to run further risks, brought the three youths to the Elm of
Gisors, and held a conference with them, where Henry showed himself far
more ready to forgive than his sons to ask pardon.

Afterward young Henry and Geoffrey returned to Paris, and Richard to
Poitou, whence he soon came to the French court, to receive the order
of knighthood from Louis--another insult to his father. The two queens,
Eleanor and Margaret, were in the old King’s hands, and kept in close
captivity; the younger, who seems to have been a gentle and innocent
lady, was soon allowed to join her husband, but Eleanor was retained
in confinement at Winchester. As long as his mother, whom he tenderly
loved, was imprisoned, Richard thought his resistance justified, and
Aquitaine echoed with laments for the Lady of the South in the dungeon
of her cruel husband. Bertrand de Born, who had chosen her daughter
Eleanor, Queen of Castile, as the object of his songs, was especially
ardent in his lamentations.

The elder King’s grief at the continued misconduct of his sons led him
to humble himself at the tomb of Becket, and the penance he underwent
brought on a fever. He thought, however, that he had received a token of
pardon, when news was brought that his faithful son Geoffrey of Lincoln,
and his chancellor, Ranulf de Glanville, had defeated the King of Scots,
William the Lion, and made him prisoner at Prudhoe Castle. But King
Henry had far more to suffer!

His eldest son was invading Normandy, and he was forced to march against
him. After a battle at Rouen, the princes were reduced to obedience;
Richard was the last of all to be reconciled, believing, as he did, that
his cause was his mother’s, but he kept his oaths better than either of
the others.

A time of greater quiet succeeded, during which young Henry set out as
a knight-errant, going from one country to another in search of
opportunities of performing deeds of arms. He came, in 1180, to attend
the coronation of young Philippe II., who had just succeeded his father,
in his fifteenth year, and had, or pretended to have, a great friendship
for Geoffrey of Brittany.

Richard had in the meantime affronted Bertrand de Born, by assisting his
brother Constantine, whom he had deprived of his inheritance. Bertrand
rebelled with other Poitevins, proceeded to lash up, by verses, young
Henry, to join them against Richard, rousing him to be no more a mere
king of cowards, who had no lands, and never would have any.

Henry was worked upon to go to his father, and insist on receiving
Richard’s homage; and as he threatened to take the Cross and go to
Palestine, the old King, who doted on him, consented. Richard declared
this would be giving up the rights of his mother; and though he
consented, at his father’s entreaty, for the sake of peace, Henry was
now affronted, would not receive it, and, with Geoffrey, placed himself
at the head of the rebels of Poitou, and a fresh war broke out, and
their father was obliged to come to Richard’s aid. It seems to have been
about this time that the unhappy King caused a picture to be painted
of four eaglets tearing their father’s breast. “It is an emblem of my
children,” he said. “If John has not yet acted like his brethren, it is
only because he is not yet old enough!”

Henry and Geoffrey invited their father to a conference in Limoges,
which he was besieging; but as he entered the town, a flight of arrows
was discharged from the battlements, some of which rattled against his
armor, and one pierced his horse’s neck. The King held one of them up,
saying, “Ah, Geoffrey! what has thine unhappy father done that thou
shouldest make him a mark for thine arrows?”

Geoffrey treated the matter lightly. His brother was, however, so much
shocked, that for a little while he joined his father, swearing he would
never again rebel.

Only a few days had passed, before, on some trifling dispute, he again
quitted his father, and, vowing he would take the Cross, joined Geoffrey
and the rebel Poitevins. But this was indeed his last rebellion. He had
scarcely entered the town of Limoges, before a violent fever came on,
and in terror of death he sent to entreat his father to come and give
his blessing and forgiveness. It was too late. After that last treason,
the King could not trust himself in the rebel camp, and only sent the
Archbishop of Bordeaux to carry his signet ring, and assure his son of
his pardon. He found the unhappy young man in the agonies of death,
lying on a bed of ashes, accusing himself of having been a “wicked,
undutiful son, and bitterly disappointed at not seeing his father, to
receive the blessing he had once cast from him, and which in vain he
now sought earnestly and with tears.” He died, fervently pressing the
ring to his lips. Surely his remorse might have served for a warning to
his brothers; but when the sorrowful father sent a priest to entreat
Geoffrey to make peace over his grave, the fierce youth only answered
that it was vain. “Our grandmother, the Witch, has left us a doom that
none of us shall ever love the rest. It is our heirloom, and the only
one of which we can never be deprived!”

However, Limoges was taken, and in it Bertrand de Born, who was led
before the King to receive the punishment he deserved, and there he
stood silent and dejected. “Hast thou nothing to say for thyself?” said
the King. “Where is all thy ready flow of fine words? I think thou hast
lost thy wits!”

“Ah, sire!” said Bertrand, “I lost them the day the brave young King

The father burst into tears, and exclaimed, “Sir Bertrand, thou mightest
well lose thy senses with grief for my son. He loved thee more than any
man on earth; and I, for love of him, give thee back thy castles and

Geoffrey still held aloof, and spent his time with his friend Philippe
of France. At Paris, in 1186, he who called hatred his inheritance, and
spurned his father’s forgiveness, died without space for asking it,
leaving, indeed, his chosen heirloom to his innocent children. He was
in his twenty-fifth year, and the handsomest and the most expert in
chivalrous exercises of all his brothers; but in the midst of a great
tournament he was thrown from his horse, and trampled to death in the
throng before his squires could extricate him.

Richard, the second son, inheriting the “lyonnous visage” that Peter de
Blois ascribes to King Henry, and with it the Lion-heart, that gained
him his surname, had far more feeling and generosity than his brothers,
and, but for King Henry’s own crimes, he might have been his blessing
and glory. When Henry had provoked him, by desiring him, as being now
heir of Normandy and England, to yield up Poitou to his brother John,
Richard had refused; but on the King bringing his mother to Aquitaine,
and reinstating her in her duchy, he instantly laid down his arms,
joyfully came to her, and continued perfectly peaceable and dutiful
whilst she still held her rights.

But after all these warnings, Henry was sinning grievously against his
wife and son. Richard had been, in his infancy, betrothed to Alice of
France, who had been placed in his father’s keeping; but he had reached
his twenty-seventh year without having been allowed to see her, and
there was but too much reason to believe that the old King had wickedly
betrayed his trust, and corrupted her innocence. Richard had, in the
meantime, become attached to a modest, gentle maiden, Berengaria, sister
to King Sancho of Navarre, and was anxious to know on what ground he
stood with Alice; but the consequence of his first demonstration was,
that Henry sent Eleanor back to her prison at Winchester.

This broke the tie that held him to obedience, and he went to Paris
to consult with Philippe, Alice’s brother, on the best measures for
breaking off his unfortunate engagement, as well as on securing the
succession to the crown, which he suspected his father of wishing to
leave to his brother John. Philippe received him most affectionately; so
that it is said they shared the same cup, the same plate, and the same

Just at this time, Archbishop William of Tyre came to preach a new
Crusade, and the description of the miseries of the Christians in
Palestine so affected the two kings and Richard, that they took the
Cross, and agreed to lay aside their disputes, to unite in the rescue of
Jerusalem. However, the concord did not last long; Richard quarrelled
with the Count of Toulouse, and a petty war took place, which the kings
agreed to conclude by a conference, as usual, under the Elm of Gisors.
This noble tree had so large a trunk, that the arms of four men could
not together encircle it; the branches had, partly by Nature, partly
by art, been made to bend downward, so as to form a sort of bower, and
there were seats on the smooth extent of grass which they shaded. King
Henry first arrived at this pleasant spot, and his train stretched
themselves on the lawn, rejoicing in being thus sheltered from the
burning heat of the summer sun; and when the French came up, laughed at
them, left beyond the shade, to be broiled in the sunbeams. This gave
offence, a sharp skirmish took place, the English drew off to Vernon,
and Philippe, mindful of the indignation he had felt in his boyhood
under that tree, swore that no more parleys should be held under it,
and his knights hewed it down with their battle-axes.

The war continued, and Richard fought gallantly on his father’s side;
but as winter drew on, it was resolved that a meeting should be held
at Bonmoulins to re-establish peace. Richard thought this a fit
opportunity, in the presence of Alice’s brother, for endeavoring to have
his rights confirmed, and to clear up the miserable question of his
betrothal. In the midst of the meeting he called on his father to
promise him, in the presence of the King of France, that he would no
longer delay his marriage, and declaration as his heir.

Henry prevaricated, and talked of bestowing Alice on John.

“This,” cried Richard, “forces me to believe what I would fain have
thought impossible! Comrades, you shall see a sight you did not expect.”

And ungirding his sword, he knelt down before Philippe, and did homage
to him, asking his assistance to re-establish his rights. Henry
withdrew, followed by a very small number of knights. They mostly held
with the young prince, won by his brilliant talents, great courage, and
liberal manners; and the King found the grief renewed that his son
Henry had caused him, while he himself, aged by cares rather than
years, was less able to cope with them: moreover, Richard was far more
formidable than his elder brother; Philippe a more subtle enemy than
Louis; and above all, the King’s own faults were the immediate cause
of the rebellion. He took no active measures; he only caused his
castellanes in Normandy to swear that they would yield their keys up to
no one but to Prince John, on whom he had concentrated his affections.
He awaited the coming of the Cardinal of Anagni, who was sent by the
Pope to pacify these Crusaders, and remind them of their vows.

Again the parties met, and the legate, with four archbishops, began to
speak of peace.

“I consent,” said Philippe, “for the love of Heaven and of the Holy
Sepulchre, to restore to King Henry what I have taken from him, provided
he will immediately wed my sister Alice to his son Richard, and secure
to him the succession of the crown, I also demand that his son John
should go to Palestine with his brother, or he will disturb the peace of
the kingdom.”

“That he will!” exclaimed Richard.

“No,” said Henry; “this is more than I can grant. Let your sister marry
John; let me dispose of my own kingdom.”

“Then the truce is broken,” answered the French King. The Cardinal
interfered, threatening to lay France under an interdict, and
excommunicate Philippe and Richard if they would not consent to Henry’s
conditions. Their answers were characteristic.

“I do not fear your curses,” said Philippe. “You have no right, to
pronounce them on the realm of France. Your words smell of English

“I’ll kill the madman who dares to excommunicate two royal princes in
one breath!” cried Coeur de Lion, drawing his sword; but his friends
threw themselves between, and the Cardinal escaped, mounted his mule,
and rode off in haste.

The French took Mans, and pillaged it cruelly, while Richard looked on
in shame and grief at the desolation of his own inheritance. His father,
weak and unwell, resolved to make peace, and for the last time appointed
a meeting with Philippe on the plain between Tours and Amboise. There it
was arranged that Richard should be acknowledged as heir, and Alice put
into the hands of the Archbishop either of Canterbury or Rouen, as he
should prefer, until he should return from the Crusade. The conference
was interrupted by a vivid flash of lightning and a tremendous burst of
thunder. To the evil conscience of the elder King it was the voice of
avenging Heaven: he reeled in his saddle, and his attendants were forced
to support him in their arms and carry him away. He travelled in a
litter to Chinon, where his first son had deserted him, and there,
while he lay dangerously ill, the treaty was sent to him to receive his
signature, and the conditions read over to him. By one of them, those
who had engaged in Richard’s party were to transfer their allegiance to

“Who are they--the ungrateful traitors?” he asked. “Let me hear their

His secretary began the list: “John, Count of Mortagne.”

“John!”--and the miserable father started up in his bed. “John! It
cannot be true!--my heart, my beloved son! He whom I cherished beyond
the rest--he for whose sake I have suffered all this--can he also have
deserted me?” He was told it was too true. “Well,” said he, falling back
on his bed, and turning his face from the light, “let the rest go as it
will! I care not what becomes of me, or of the world!”

He was roused in a few moments by the entrance of Richard, come, as a
matter of form, to ratify the treaty by the kiss of peace. The King,
without speaking, gave it with rigid sternness of countenance; but
Richard, as he turned away, heard him mutter, “May I but live to be
revenged on thee!” and when he was gone, the King burst out into such
horrible imprecations against his two sons, that the faithful Geoffrey
of Lincoln and the clergy of Canterbury, who attended him, were shocked,
and one of the monks reminded him that such hasty words had occasioned
the death of Becket. But he gnashed his teeth at them with fury. “I have
been and I am your lord, traitors that ye are!” he cried. “Away with
you! I’ll have none but trusty ones here.”

The monks left him; but one, turning round, said boldly, “If the life
and sufferings of the martyr Thomas were acceptable with God. He will do
prompt justice on thy body.”

The King threw himself out of bed, with his dagger in his hand; but was
carried back again, and continued to rave, though growing weaker. In
an interval of calm he was taken into the church, and absolution was
pronounced over him; but no persuasion would induce him to revoke his
curses against his sons: the delirium returned, and the last words that
were heard from his dying lips were, “Shame, shame on a conquered King!
Cursed be the day I was born! Cursed be the sons I leave!”

In his fifty-fifth year he thus miserably expired, and his son Geoffrey
of Lincoln with difficulty found any one to attend to his funeral; the
attendants had all fled away, with everything valuable that they could
lay their hands on. A piece of gold fringe was made to serve for a
crown, and an old sceptre and ring were brought from the treasury
at Chinon; horses were hired, and the corpse was carried, as he had
desired, to be interred in the beautiful Abbey of Fontevraud. In the
midst of the service a hurried step was heard. It was Richard, who,
while laughing with his false friend Philippe over his ungracious
reception at Chinon, had been horror-struck by the news that his father
was dead, and that there was no more forgiveness to be looked for.

He had hastily left the French, and now stood beside the coffin, looking
at the fine but worn and prematurely aged face, which bore the stamp
of rage and agony. A drop of blood oozed from the nostril--a token,
according to the belief of those times, that the murderer was present.
Richard hid his face in his hands in the misery of remorse, and groaned
aloud, “Yes, it was I who killed him.” He threw himself on his knees
before the altar, so remained “about as long as it would take to say a
_Pater_” and then, rising up in silence, dashed out of the church.

Ten years later, his corpse was, by his own desire, laid in humility at
his father’s feet.


  _King of England_.
   1189. Richard I.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1165. William.

  _King of France_.
   1180. Philippe II.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1152. Friedrich I.
   1191. Henry VI.

   1183. Clement III
   1191. Celestine III

The vices of the Christians of Palestine brought their punishment.
Sybilla of Anjou, Queen of Jerusalem, had married the handsome but
feeble-minded Guy de Lusignan, who was no match for the Kurdish
chieftain, Joseph Salah-ed-deen, usually called Saladin, who had risen to
the supreme power in Egypt and Damascus. The battle of Tiberias ruined
the kingdom, and the fall of Jerusalem followed in a few weeks, filling
Christendom with grief.

The archbishop and historian, William of Tyre, preached a Crusade in
Europe, and among the first to take the Cross were the Plantagenet
princes and Philippe Auguste of France.

The unhappy discord between Henry II. and Coeur de Lion hindered the
enterprise until the death of the father, which left the son a prey to
the bitterest remorse; and in the hope to expiate his crimes, he hurried
on the preparations with all the vehemence of his impetuous nature.

He hastened his coronation, and began to raise money by the most
unscrupulous means, declaring he would even have sold London itself
could he have found a bidder. He made his half-brother, Geoffrey, pay
£3,000 for the possession of the temporalities of the see of York, and
sold the earldom of Northumberland to the aged Bishop of Durham, Hugh
Pudsey, saying, laughing, that it had been a clever stroke to make a
young earl of an old bishop. William the Lion of Scotland was also
allowed to purchase exemption from his engagements to Henry II., by the
payment of a large sum of money and the supply of a body of troops under
the command of his brother David, Earl of Huntingdon.

These arrangements made, Richard marched to meet Philippe Auguste at
Vezelai, and agree on the regulations for the discipline of their
host. If rules could have kept men in order, these were strict enough,
forbidding all gaming, all foul language, all disputing, and all
approach to licence, and ordering all acquisitions to be equally
divided; but with a prince whose violent temper broke through all
restraint, there was little hope of their observance. The English wore
white crosses, the French red, the Flemings green, to distinguish the
different nations.

They marched together to Lyons, whence Philippe proceeded across the
Alps to embark at Genoa in the vessels he had hired, and Richard went to
Marseilles, where his own fleet was appointed to meet him and transport
him to Messina, the place where the whole crusading army was to winter.
He waited for his ships till his patience failed, and, hiring those
which he found in the harbor, he sailed to Pisa, whence he rode to
Salerno, and there learning that his fleet had touched at Marseilles,
and arrived at Messina, he set out for the coast, attended by only one
knight. On the way he saw a fine hawk, kept at a cottage in a small
village, and forgetting that there were no such forest laws as in his
own domains, he was enraged to see the bird in the keeping of mean
“_villeins_” seized upon it, and bore it off on his wrist. This was no
treatment for Italian peasants, who, in general, were members of small,
self-ruling republics, and they swarmed out of their houses to recover
the bird. One man attacked the King with a long knife, and though
Richard beat him off with the flat of his sword, the assault with sticks
and stones was severe enough to drive the King off the field, and force
him to ride at full speed to a convent.

He thence went to Bagnata, where he found his own ship _Trenc-la-Mer_
awaiting him. In full state he sailed into the harbor of Messina at the
head of his fleet, streamers flying from the masts, and music playing
upon the decks. He was received by the King of Sicily, Tancred, Count of
Lecce, who without much right had assumed the crown on the recent death
of William the Good, the last of the direct Norman line.

This William, had been married to Joan Plantagenet, Richard’s youngest
sister, who now came to join him, making complaints that Tancred was
withholding from her the treasures bequeathed to her by her husband; and
these were indeed of noted value, for she specified among them a golden
table twelve feet long, and a tent of silk large enough to contain two
hundred knights.

Tancred, who had lodged his royal guests, the one in a palace within the
town, the other in a pleasant house among the vineyards, was confounded
at these claims, and on his declaring that he had duly paid the Queen’s
dowry, Richard seized upon two of his castles, and, on a slight quarrel
with the inhabitants, upon the city of Messina itself.

Philippe Auguste interfered, not on behalf of the unfortunate Sicilian,
but to obtain a share of the spoil; requiring that the French standard
should be placed beside the English one on the walls, and that half the
plunder should be his. It was, however, agreed that the keeping of the
city should be committed to the Knights Templars until the three kings
should come to an agreement.

It was at this time that Richard again showed his violent nature. A
peasant happening to pass with an ass loaded with long reeds, or canes,
the knights began in sport to tilt at each other with them, and Richard
was thus opposed to a certain Guillaume des Barres, who had once placed
him in great danger in a battle in Normandy. Both reeds were broken, and
Richard’s mantle was torn; his jest turned to earnest, and he dashed his
horse against Des Barres, meaning to throw him from the saddle; but he
swerved aside, and the King’s horse stumbled, and fell. He took another,
and returned to the charge, but in vain; however, when the Earl of
Leicester was coming to his aid, he ordered him off. “It is between him
and me alone,” he said. At length repeated failures so inflamed his
anger, that he shouted, “Away with thee! Never dare appear in my
presence again! I am a mortal foe to thee and thine!” and it was only on
the threat of excommunication that he could be prevailed on to consent
to the knight remaining with the army.

In March, a meeting took place between the Kings of England and Sicily,
in which Tancred agreed to pay Richard and his sister 20,000 ounces of
gold; and Richard remitted his share as a portion for Tancred’s infant
daughter, whom he asked in marriage for his nephew, Arthur of Brittany.
The two Kings were much pleased with each other, and an exchange of
presents was made.

Tancred disclosed that the French monarch had falsely sent him a warning
that it was useless to trust the King of England, who only intended to
break his treaties; and when Richard refused to believe that his former
friend would so slander him, showed him the very letters in which
Philippe offered to assist in expelling him from the island.

Unwisely, Richard called his rival to account for his treachery; on
which Philippe retorted with the old engagement to his sister Alice,
declaring that this was only an excuse, for casting her off. Richard
answered, that her conduct made no excuse necessary for not marrying
her, and proved it so entirely, that Philippe was glad to hush the
matter up, and rest satisfied with a promise that she should be restored
to her own count with a sufficient pension.

It was time indeed for Richard to be free from his bonds to Alice, for
he had already sent his mother to conduct to him his own chosen and
long-loved lady, Berengaria of Navarre, a gentle, delicate, fair-haired,
retiring maiden, to whom he had devoted his Lion-heart in his days of
poetry and song in his beloved Aquitaine, and who was now willing to
share the toils and perils of his crusade.

She arrived on the 29th of March; but the season of Lent prevented the
celebration of their wedding, and Queen Eleanor, placing her under the
charge of Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily, returned to England to
watch over her son’s interests there. The next day the fleet set sail,
Richard in his royal vessel, the ladies in another called the Lion; but
a tempest arose and scattered the ships, and though a lantern was hung
from the mast of _Trenc-la-Mer_ as a guide to the others, she was almost
alone when she put into the harbor of Rhodes.

The King had suffered so much from sea-sickness, that he was forced to
remain there ten days, in much anxiety, and there his vessels gradually
joined him, and he heard tidings of the rest. Philippe Auguste, with six
vessels, was safe at Acre, and the Lion had been driven to the coast
of Cyprus. Isaac Comnenus, a Greek, who called himself Emperor of
the island, had behaved with great discourtesy, forbidding the poor
princesses to land, and maltreating the crews of the vessels that had
been cast ashore.

All Coeur de Lion’s chivalry was on fire at this insult to his bride. He
sailed at once to Cyprus, made a rapid conquest of the whole island,
and took prisoners both the Emperor and his daughter. The only request
Comnenus made was, that he might not be put into iron chains; and he was
gratified by wearing silver ones, until his death, four years after. His
daughter became an attendant on Berengaria, and as the feast of Easter
had now arrived, Richard no longer deferred his marriage, which was
celebrated in the church of Limasol by the Bishop of Evreux. It is
certainly one of the strangest stories in our history, that one of our
Kings should have been married in that distant isle of Cyprus, after
conquering it, as a sort of episode in his crusade.

It was a victory not without great benefit to the Crusaders, for the
island was extremely fertile, and Richard appointed a knight, named
Robert de Turnham, to send constant supplies of provisions to the army
in the Holy Land; after which he set sail.

Guy de Lusignan had already laid siege to St. Jean d’Acre, or Ptolemais,
a city on the bay formed by the projection of the promontory of Mount
Carmel, admirably adapted as a stronghold, in which succor from Europe
might be received. Leopold of Austria brought the first instalment of
Crusaders; next followed Philippe of France; but the increase of the
number of besiegers only caused famine, until the conquest of Cyprus
insured supplies. Richard had sailed first for Tyre; but Conrade,
Marquis of Montferrat, Prince of Tyre, who was related to the Comneni,
had given orders that he should be excluded from the city; and he
continued his course to Acre, capturing, on his way, a large galley
filled with troops and provisions sent from Egypt to the relief of the

On his arrival, Richard at once resigned to Philippe half the booty,
whereupon the French King claimed half the island of Cyprus: this Coeur
de Lion replied he might have, if he was willing likewise to divide the
county of Flanders, which had just fallen to his wife by the death of
her brother. The siege was pressed on with the greatest ardor on the
arrival of the English, and Philippe was extremely jealous of the
reputation acquired by the brilliant deeds of daring in which Richard
delighted, while he himself was left completely in the shade. Cool,
wary, and prudent, he contemned the boisterous manners, animal strength,
and passionate nature of his rival, and nothing could be more galling
than to find himself disregarded, while all the “talk was of Richard the
King,” and all the independent bands from Europe clustered round the
banner of the Plantagenet. Philippe tried to win the hearts of the army
by liberality, and offered two pieces of gold a week to any knight who
might be distressed; Richard instantly promised four, adding a reward of
high value to any soldier who should bring him a stone from the walls of
the city; and such allurements led many to leave the French service for
the English.

The heat of the climate soon brought on fevers, and both the kings were
attacked. Richard, when unable to mount his horse, was carried on a
mattress to the front of the army, to superintend the machines and
military engines, often himself aiming a ballista at the walls. He thus
slew a Saracen whom he beheld parading on the ramparts in the armor of a
Christian knight who had lately fallen. Saladin was hovering around
with his army, attempting to relieve the town; but the Christian army
enclosed it, said the Arab writers, close as the eyelid does the eye,
and he could only obtain intelligence from the inhabitants by means of
carrier-pigeons; while at the same time some friend to the Christians
within the town used to shoot arrows into the camp, with letters
attached, containing information of all the plans of the besieged. The
name of this secret ally was never discovered, but his tidings often
proved of the greatest service..

A curious interview took place, between Saladin’s brother,
Malek-el-Afdal (Just King), and a deputy sent by Richard, to arrange for
a conference on his recovery. The meeting was held in Saladin’s camp.
“It is the custom of our kings to make each other presents, even in time
of war,” said the deputy, “My master wishes to offer some worthy of the

“The present shall be well received,” said Malek-el-Afdal, “so that we
offer others in return.”

“We have falcons, and other birds of prey, which have suffered much from
the voyage, and are dying of hunger. Would it please you to give us some
poultry to feed them with? When recovered, they shall be a gift to the

“Say rather,” returned Malek, “that your master is ill, and wishes for
poultry. He shall have what he will.”

Richard restored a Mussulman prisoner, and thereupon Saladin gave the
deputy a robe of honor, and sent an emir to the camp with presents of
Damascus pears, Syrian grapes, and mountain snow, which much conduced to
the convalescence of the Malek Rik, as the Saracens, who much admired
and feared King Richard, were wont to call him.

On his recovery, the siege was pressed on, fierce battles daily taking
place, though the heat was such that the burning rays of the sun had
their share of the slain. At last Saladin, much to his grief, was
obliged to send permission to the inhabitants to surrender; which they
did, on condition of being allowed to ransom themselves for a fixed sum
of money and the release of 2,600 Christian captives. Thus ended the
three years’ siege of Acre. The Kings of France and England set up their
standards on the chief towers, and it was here that Richard insulted the
banner of Austria, which had been planted beside them. He caused it to
be torn down and thrown into the moat, demanding how a Duke dared assume
the rights of a King. Leopold maintained a sullen silence, brooding over
the indignity.

This overbearing conduct of Richard alienated the chief Crusaders, and
Philippe Auguste, whose health was really much impaired, resolved
to return home, and sent a deputation to acquaint Richard with his
intention. They were so much grieved at their King abandoning the
enterprise, that, when admitted into Richard’s presence, they could not
utter a word for tears. “It will be an eternal disgrace to himself and
his kingdom,” said Coeur de Lion; “but let him go, since he is dying for
want of his fair court of Paris.” He accordingly parted, after taking an
oath to offer no injury to the English possessions in Richard’s absence,
and leaving Hugh, Duke of Burgundy, with the portion of his army which
remained in Palestine. There was a dispute, too, on the succession to
the crown of Jerusalem. Sybilla’s death transferred her rights to her
sister, Isabel, the wife of Conrade of Montferrat; but Guy de Lusignan
refused to give up the title of King, and the Christians’ camp was rent
with disputes.

At the end of August, Richard led his crusading troops from Acre into
the midst of the wilderness of Mount Carmel, where their sufferings were
terrible; the rocky, sandy, and uneven ground was covered with bushes
full of long, sharp prickles, and swarms of noxious insects buzzed in
the air, fevering the Europeans with their stings; and in addition to
these natural obstacles, multitudes of Arab horsemen harassed them
on every side, slaughtering every straggler who dropped behind from
fatigue, and attacking them so unceasingly, that it was remarked that
throughout their day’s track there was not one space of four feet
without an arrow sticking in the ground.

Richard fought indefatigably, always in the van, and always ready to
reward the gallant exploits of his knights. It was now that Guillaume
des Barres so signalized himself, that the King offered him his
friendship, and forgot the quarrel at Messina. Here, too, a young
knight, who bore a white shield in hopes of gaining some honorable
bearing, so distinguished himself, that Richard thus greeted him at the
close of the day: “Maiden knight, you have borne yourself as a lion,
and done the deeds of six _croisés_” and granted him a lion between
six crosses on a red field, with the motto “_Tinctus cruore Saraceno_”
 tinted with Saracen blood, whence he assumed the name of Tynte.

At Arsoof, on the 7th of September, a great battle was fought. Saladin
and his brother had almost defeated the two Religious Orders, and the
gallant French knight, Jacques d’Avesne, after losing his leg by a
stroke from a scimitar, fought bravely on, calling on the English King,
until he fell overpowered by numbers. Coeur de Lion and Guillaume
des Barres retrieved the day, hewed down the enemy on all sides, and
remained masters of the field. It is even said that Richard and Saladin
met hand to hand, but this is uncertain.

This victory opened the way to Joppa, where the Crusaders spent the next
month in the repair of the fortifications, while the Saracen forces lay
at Ascalon. While here, Richard often amused himself with hawking, and,
one day, was asleep under a tree, when he was aroused by the approach
of a party of Saracens, and springing on his horse Frannelle, which had
been taken at Cyprus, he rashly pursued them, and fell into an ambush.
Four knights were slain, and he would have been seized, had not a Gascon
knight, named Guillaume des Porcelets, called out that he himself was
the Malek Rik, and allowed himself to be taken. Richard offered ten
noble Saracens in exchange for this generous knight, whom Saladin
restored, together with a valuable horse that had been captured at
the same time. A present of another Arab steed accompanied them; but
Richard’s half-brother, William Longsword, insisted on trying the
creature before the King should mount it. No sooner was he on his back,
than it dashed at once across the country, and before he could stop
it, he found himself in the midst of the enemy’s camp. The two Saracen
princes were extremely shocked and distressed lest this should be
supposed a trick, and instantly escorted Longsword back, with gifts of
three chargers which proved to be more manageable.

Malek-el-Afdal was always the foremost in intercourse with the
Christians; Richard knighted his son, and at one time had hopes that
this youth might become a Christian, marry his sister Joan, the widowed
Queen of Sicily, and be established as a sort of neutral King of
Jerusalem; but this project was disconcerted in consequence of his
refusal to forsake the religion of his Prophet. [Footnote: This is the
groundwork of the mysterious negotiations in the “Talisman” and of
Madame Cottin’s romance of “Matilde.”]

From Joppa the Crusaders marched to Ramla, and thence, on New-Year’s
Day, 1192, set out for Jerusalem through a country full of greater
obstacles than they had yet encountered. They were too full of spirit to
be discouraged, until they came to Bethany, where the two Grand
Masters represented to Richard the imprudence of laying siege to such
fortifications as those of Jerusalem at such a season of the year, while
Ascalon was ready in his rear for a post whence the enemy would attack

He yielded, and retreated to Ascalon, which Saladin had ruined and
abandoned, and began eagerly to repair the fortifications, so as to be
able to leave a garrison there. The soldiers grumbled, saying they
had not come to Palestine to build Ascalon, but to conquer Jerusalem;
whereupon Richard set the example of himself carrying stones, and called
on Leopold to do the same. The sulky reply, “He was not the son of
a mason,” so irritated Richard, that he struck him a blow. Leopold
straightway quitted the army, and returned to Austria.

The reports from home made Richard anxious to return, and he tried to
bring the Eastern affairs to a settlement. He adjudged the crown of
Jerusalem to Conrade of Montferrat, giving the island of Cyprus and its
princess as a compensation to Lusignan; but Conrade had hardly assumed
the title of King, before his murder, by two assassins from the Old Man
of the Mountain, threw everything into fresh confusion; and the barons
of Palestine chose in his place Henry of Champagne, a nephew of
Richard’s, a brave knight, whom Queen Isabel was induced to accept as
her third husband.

It was not without great grief and many struggles that Coeur de Lion
finally gave up his hopes of taking Jerusalem. He again advanced as far
as Bethany; but a quarrel with Hugh of Burgundy, and the defection of
the Austrians, made it impossible for him to proceed, and he turned back
to Ramla.

While riding out with a party of knights, one of them called out, “This
way, my lord, and you will see Jerusalem.”

“Alas!” said Richard, hiding his face with his mantle, “those who are
not worthy to win the Holy City, are not worthy to behold it!”

He returned to Acre; but there, hearing that Saladin was besieging
Joppa, he embarked his troops, and sailed to its aid. The Crescent shone
on its walls as he entered the harbor; but while he looked on in dismay,
he was hailed by a priest, who had leapt into the sea, and swam out to
inform him that there was yet time to rescue the garrison, though the
town was in the hands of the enemy.

He hurried his vessel forward, leapt into the water breast-high, dashed
upward on the shore, ordered his immediate followers to raise a bulwark
of casks and beams to protect the landing of the rest, and, rushing up a
flight of steps, entered the city alone. “St. George! St. George!” That
cry dismayed the Infidels; and those in the town, to the number of three
thousand, fled in the utmost confusion, and were pursued for two miles
by three knights who had been fortunate enough to find horses.

Richard pitched his tent outside the walls, and remained there, with so
few troops that all were contained in ten tents. Very early one morning,
before the King was out of bed, a man rushed into his tent, crying out,
“O King! we are all dead men!”

Springing up, Richard fiercely silenced him. “Peace! or thou diest by my
hand!” Then, while hastily donning his suit of mail, he heard that the
glitter of arms had been seen in the distance, and in another moment the
enemy were upon them, 7,000 in number!

Richard had neither helmet nor shield, and only seventeen of his knights
had horses; but undaunted, he drew up his little force in a compact
body, the knights kneeling on one knee, covered by their shields, their
lances pointing outward, and between each pair an archer, with an
assistant to load his cross-bow; and he stood in the midst, encouraging
them with his voice, and threatening to cut off the head of the first
who turned to fly. In vain did the Saracens charge that mass of brave
men, not one-seventh of their number; the shields and lances were
impenetrable: and without one forward step, or one bolt from the
crossbows, their passive steadiness turned back wave after wave of the
enemy. At last the King gave the word for the crossbowmen to advance,
while he, with seventeen mounted knights, charged lance in rest. His
curtal axe bore down all before it, and he dashed like lightning from
one part of the plain to another, with not a moment to smile at the
opportune gift from the polite Malek-el-Afdal, who, in the hottest
of the fight, sent him two fine horses, desiring him to use them in
escaping from this dreadful peril. Little did the Saracen prince imagine
that they would find him victorious, and that they would mount two more
pursuers! Next came a terrified fugitive, with news that 3,000 Saracens
had entered Joppa! He summoned a few knights, and, without a word to the
rest, galloped back into the city. The panic inspired by his presence
instantly cleared the streets, and, riding back, he again led his troops
to the charge; but such were the swarms of Saracens, that it was not
till evening that the Christians could give themselves a moment’s rest,
or look round and feel that they had gained one of the most wonderful of
victories. Since daybreak Richard had not laid aside his sword or axe,
and his hand was all one blister.

No wonder the terror of his name endured for centuries in Palestine, and
that the Arab chided his starting horse with, “Dost think that yonder
is the Malek Rik?” while the mother stilled her crying child by threats
that the Malek Rik should take it.

These violent exertions seriously injured Richard’s health, and a
low fever placed him in great danger, as well as several of his best
knights. No command or persuasion could induce the rest to commence
any enterprise without him, and the tidings from Europe induced him to
conclude a peace, and return home. Malek-el-Afdal came to visit him, and
a truce was signed for three years, three months, three weeks, three
days, three hours, and three minutes--thus so quaintly arranged in
accordance with some astrological views of the Saracens. Ascalon was to
be demolished, on condition free access to Jerusalem was allowed to the
pilgrims; but Saladin would not restore the piece of the True Cross, as
he was resolved not to conduce to what he considered idolatry. Richard
sent notice that he was coming back with double his present force to
effect the conquest; and the Sultan answered, that if the Holy City was
to pass into Frank hands, none could be nobler than those of the Malek
Rik. Fever and debility detained Richard a month longer at Joppa, during
which time he sent the Bishop of Salisbury to carry his offerings to
Jerusalem. The prelate was invited to the presence of Saladin, who spoke
in high terms of Richard’s courage, but censured his rash exposure of
his own life.

On October 9th, 1193, Coeur de Lion took leave of Palestine, watching
with tears its receding shores, as he exclaimed, “O Holy Land! I commend
thee and thy people unto God. May He grant me yet to return to aid

The return from this Crusade was as disastrous as that from the siege of
Troy. David, Earl of Huntingdon, the Scottish King’s brother (the Sir
Kenneth of the Talisman), who had shared in all Richard’s toils and
glories, embarked at the same time, but was driven by contrary winds
to Alexandria, and there seized and sold as a slave. Some Venetian
merchants, discovering his rank, bought him, and brought him to their
own city, where he was ransomed by some English merchants, and conducted
by them to Flanders; but while sailing for Scotland, another storm
wrecked him near the mouth of the Tay, near the town of Dundee, the
name of which one tradition declares to be derived from his
thankfulness--_Donum Dei_, the Gift of God. He founded a monastery in
commemoration of his deliverance.

The two queens, Berengaria and Joan, were driven by the storm to Sicily,
and thence travelled through Italy. At Rome, to their horror, they
recognized the jewelled baldric of King Richard exposed for sale; but
they could obtain no clue to its history, and great was their dread that
he had either perished in the Mediterranean waves, or been cut off by
the many foes who beset its coasts.

His ship had been driven out of its course into the Adriatic, where the
pirates of the Dalmatian coast attacked it. He beat them off, and then
prevailed on them to take him into their vessel and land him on the
coast of Istria, whence he hoped to find his way to his nephew Otho,
Count of Saxony, elder brother of Henry, King of Jerusalem. This was
the only course that offered much hope of safety, since Italy, France,
Austria, and Germany were all hostile, and the rounding Spain was a
course seldom attempted; so that it was but a choice of dangers for him
to attempt to penetrate to his own domains. Another shipwreck threw him
on the coast between Venice and Aquileia; he assumed a disguise, and,
calling himself Hugh the Merchant, set out as if in the train of one
of his own knights, named Baldwin de Bethune, through the lands of the
mountaineers of the Tyrol. The noblesse here were mostly relatives of
Conrade of Montferrat; and Philippe Auguste having spread a report that
Richard had instigated his murder, it was no safe neighborhood. He sent
one of his men to Count Meinhard von Gorby, the first of these, asking
for a safe-conduct, and accompanying the request with a gift of a ruby
ring. Meinhard, on seeing the ring, exclaimed, “Your master is no
merchant. He is Richard of England: but since he is willing to honor me
with his gifts, I will leave him to depart in peace.”

However, Meinhard sent intelligence to Frederic of Montferrat, Conrade’s
brother, through whose domains Richard had next to pass. He sent a
Norman knight, called Roger d’Argenton, who was in his service, to seek
out the English King; but d’Argenton would not betray his native prince,
warned Richard, and told Frederic that it was only Baldwin de Bethune.
Not crediting him, the Marquis passed on the intelligence to the Duke
of Austria; and Richard, who had left Bethune’s suite, and was only
accompanied by a page, found every inhabited place unsafe, and wandered
about for three days, till hunger, fatigue, and illness drove him to a
little village inn at Eedburg.

Thence he sent his servant to Vienna, a distance of a few miles, to
change some gold bezants for the coin of the country. This attracted
notice, and the page was carried before a magistrate, and interrogated.
He professed to be in the service of a rich merchant who would arrive in
a day or two, and, thus escaping, returned to his master, and advised
him to hasten away; but Richard was too unwell to proceed, and remained
at the inn, doing all in his power to avert suspicion--even attending
to the horses, and turning the spit in the kitchen. His precautions were
disconcerted; the page, going again to Vienna, imprudently carried in
his belt an embroidered hawking-glove, which betrayed its owner to be of
high rank; and being again seized and tortured, confessed his master’s
name and present hiding-place.

Armed men were immediately sent to surround the inn, and the Mayor of
Vienna, entering, found the worn-out pilgrim lying asleep upon his bed,
and aroused him with the words, “Hail, King of England! In vain thou
disguisest thyself; thy face betrays thee.”

Awakening, the Lion-heart grasped his sword, declaring he would yield it
to none but the Duke. The Mayor told him it was well for him that he
had fallen into their hands, rather than into those of the Montferrat
family; and Leopold, arriving, reproached him for the insult to the
Austrian banner, which indeed was far more dishonored by its lord’s foul
treatment of a crusading pilgrim, than by its fall into the moat of
Acre. He was conducted to Vienna, and thence to the lonely Castle of
Tierenstein, where he was watched day and night by guards with drawn
swords. Leopold sent information of his capture to the Emperor, Henry
VI., who bore a grudge to Richard for his alliance with Tancred, who had
usurped Sicily from the Empress Constance; he therefore offered a price
for the illustrious prisoner, and placed him in the strong Castle of
Triefels. Months passed away, and no tidings reached him from without.
He deemed himself forgotten in his captivity, and composed an indignant
_sirvente_ in his favorite Provençal tongue. The second verse we give
in the original, for the sake of being brought so near to the royal

 “Or sachen ben, mici hom e mici baron,
  Angles, Norman, Peytavin, et Gascon,
  Qu’yeu non hai ja si pauore compagnon
  Que per ave, lou laissesse en prison.
  Faire reproche, certes yeu voli. Non;
  Mais souis dos hivers prez.”

Or, as it may be rendered in modern French:

  “Or sachent bien, mes hommes, mes barons,
  Anglais, Normands, Poitevins, Gascons,
  Que je n’ai point si pauvre compagnon
  Que pour argent, je le laisse en prison.
  Faire reproche, certes, je ne le veux. Non;
  Mais suis deux hivers pris.”

This melancholy line, “Two winters am I bound,” is the burden of the
song, closing the recurring rhymes of each stanza. In the next he
complains that a captive is without friends or relations, and asks where
will be the honor of his people if he dies in captivity. He laments
over the French King ravaging his lands and breaking the oaths they had
together sworn while he is “_deux hivers pris_,” and speaks of two of
his beloved troubadour companions by name, as certain to stir up his
friends in his cause, and to mourn for his loss while he is “_deux
hivers pris_.”

He was right; the troubadours were his most devoted friends; Bertram de
Born was bewailing him, and Blondel de Nesle, guided by his faithful
heart, sang his King’s own favorite lays before each keep and fortress,
until the unfinished song was taken up and answered from the windows of
the Castle of Triefels.

The clue was found: Queen Eleanor wrote instantly to the Pope, calling
on him to redress the injury offered to a returning pilgrim, yet signed
with the Cross, and sent two abbots and the Bishop of Ely to visit him.
From them he learnt that his brother John and Philippe of France were
using every means to prevent his return; but this gave him the less
concern, as he said, “My brother John was never made for conquering

His ex-chancellor, William Longchamp, who had been expelled from England
for tyrannical government, thought to serve his cause by a forgery of a
letter in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, purporting to be from the Old Man
of the Mountain, exculpating Richard from the murder of Conrade. It ran
thus: “To Leopold, Duke of Austria, and to all princes and people of the
Christian faith, Greeting. Whereas many kings in countries beyond the
seas impute to Richard, King and Lord of England, the death of the
Marquis, I swear by Him who reigns eternally, and by the law which we
follow, that King Richard had no participation in this murder. Done at
our Castle of Shellia, and sealed with our seal, Midseptember, in the
year 1503 after Alexander.”

No one thought of inquiring what brought this confession from the father
of assassins, or why he chose Alexander for his errand, the letter was
deemed conclusive, gave great encouragement to Richard’s partisans, and
caused many of the French to refuse to take up arms against him.

Now that his captivity was public, Henry VI. sent for him to Hagenau,
where he pleaded his cause before the diet, was allowed more liberty,
and promised permission to ransom himself, after performing homage
to the Emperor, which probably was required of him to show the
subordination of the Royal to the Imperial rank.

Philippe and John tempted the avarice of Henry by the offer of twice the
sum if he would give them the captive, or 20,000 marks for every month
that he was detained. However, the free princes of Germany, stirred up
by Richard’s nephew, the Count of Saxony, were so indignant at their
master’s conduct, that he could not venture to accept the tempting
offer, and on the 28th of February, 1194, he indited this note to
his ally, the King of France: “Take care of yourself! The devil is
unchained; but I could not help it.”

Philippe forwarded the warning to his accomplice, John, who tried to
raise the English to prevent his brother from landing; but they were
rejoicing at the return of their own King, and even before his arrival
had adjudged John guilty of treason, and sentenced him to lose his

March 20th, Richard landed at Sandwich, and two days after entered
London, among the acclamations of his subjects, who displayed all their
wealth to do him honor, and caused the Germans who accompanied him to
say that, if their Emperor had guessed at half the riches of England,
his ransom would have been doubled.

John was soon brought to sue for the pardon so generously given, and all
ranks vied with each other in raising the ransom. William the Lion of
Scotland presented the King with 2,000 marks, and the first instalment
was sent to Germany; but before it arrived, Henry VI. was dead, and the
Germans were so much ashamed of the transaction, that they returned the

Thus ended the expedition, in which Richard had gained all the glory
that valor and generosity could attain, conquered a kingdom and given
it away, fought battles with desperate courage and excellent skill,
and shown much fortitude and perseverance, but had marred all by his
unbridled temper.


  _Kings of England_.
   1154. Henry II.
   1189. Richard I.
   1199. John.

  _Kings of Scotland_.
   1158. Malcolm IV.
   1165. William.

  _King of France_.
   1180. Philippe II.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1152. Friedrich I.
   1191. Henry VI.

   1183. Clement IV.
   1189. Celestine III.
   1193. Innocent III.

The son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Constance, Duchess of Brittany, was
born at Nantes, on Easter-day, 1187, six months after the death of his
father. He was the first grandson of Henry II., for the graceless young
King Henry had died childless. Richard was still unmarried, and the
elder child of Geoffrey was a daughter named Eleanor; his birth was,
therefore, the subject of universal joy. There was a prophecy of Merlin,
that King Arthur should reappear from the realm of the fairy Morgana,
who had borne him away in his death-like trance after the battle of
Camelford, and, returning in the form of a child, should conquer
England from the Saxon race, and restore the splendors of the British

The Bretons, resolved to see in their infant duke this champion of their
glories, overlooked the hated Angevin and Norman blood that flowed in
his veins, and insisted on his receiving their beloved name of Arthur.
Thanksgivings were poured forth in all the churches in Brittany, and the
altars and shrines at the sacred fountains were adorned with wreaths of

At the same a time a Welsh bard directed King Henry to cause search to
be made at Glastonbury, the true Avallon, for the ancient hero’s corpse,
which, as old traditions declared, had been buried between two pyramids
within the abbey. There, in fact some distance beneath the surface, was
found a leaden cross, inscribed with the words, “_Hic jacet sepultus
inclytus Rex Arthurus in insula Avallonia_” (Here lies buried the
unconquered King Arthur in the isle of Avallon). A little deeper was a
coffin, hollowed out of an oak tree, and within lay the bones of the
renowned Arthur and his fair Queen Guenever. His form was of gigantic
size; there were the marks of ten wounds upon his skull, and by his side
was a sword, the mighty Caliburn, or Excalibar, so often celebrated in
romances. Guenever’s hair was still perfect, to all appearance, and of
a beautiful golden color, but it crumbled into dust on exposure to the
air. The Bretons greatly resented this discovery, which they chose to
term an imposture of Henry’s, in order to cast discredit on Merlin’s

They were, however, in no condition to oppose the grasping monarch;
Henry entered Brittany, assembled the States at Nantes, and claimed the
guardianship of his grandson’s person and domains. They were at first
intimidated by his threats, but Constance showed so much spirit, that
she obtained the keeping of her son, and the immediate government,
though she was not to act without the advice and consent of the King
of England, who received the oaths of the barons present. The widowed
heiress suffered much persecution from the different suitors for her
hand, among whom figured her brother-in-law, John Lackland; and Henry,
fearing her marriage with some powerful prince, so tormented her by
threats of removing her son from her charge, that he forced her into a
marriage with Ranulf de Blondeville, Count of Chester, grandson to an
illegitimate son of Henry I., a man of violent, and ambitious temper,
and of mean and ungraceful appearance. In a dispute which took place
between him and the Count de Perche, in Lincoln Cathedral, the latter
contemptuously called him a dwarf. “Sayest thou so?” cried Ranulf; “ere
long I shall seem to thee as high as that steeple!”--and his words were
fulfilled, when, as Duke of Brittany, he claimed the allegiance of the

He made himself extremely hated in Brittany by his cruelty and
injustice; and no sooner had the news arrived of the death of Henry II.,
than the people rose with one consent, drove him away, and restored the
power to Constance. Richard I. did not interfere in his behalf,
and appeared favorable to his nephew Arthur, acknowledging him as
heir-presumptive of England, and, when at Messina, betrothing him to the
daughter of Tancred, King of Sicily. It was probably in honor of
this intended alliance that Richard presented Tancred with the sword
Excalibar, which certainly should never have passed out of the
possession of the British.

Constance remained at peace for the present, though Richard’s absence
left the other territories over which he asserted his power exposed to
much disturbance. He had left the government of England in the hands of
Hugh, Bishop of Durham (the young Earl), and William Longchamp, Bishop
of Ely--a native of Beauvais, who had risen to high favor in the employ
first of Geoffrey, the son of Rosamond, Archbishop of York, and was now
chancellor, and afterward of Richard. He was an arrogant man, and broke
through all restraint, imprisoned his colleague, deprived him of his
offices, and forced him to resign his earldom; then, when Richard
despatched orders that he should be re-instated, declared that he knew
what were the King’s private intentions, and should obey no public
instructions. He sealed public acts with his own seal instead of the
King’s, kept a guard of fifteen hundred rapacious and disorderly
mercenaries, plundered men of every rank, so that it was said “the
knight could not keep his silver belt, the noble his ring, the lady her
necklace, nor the Jew his merchandise.” He travelled in great state,
with a train of minstrels and jesters, who drowned the outcries of the
injured people by songs in his praise. Again Richard sent orders to
restrain him, but in vain; he only declared them a forgery, and pursued
his careless course.

Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, had sworn not to enter the kingdom for
three years, but he now returned; whereupon the chancellor seized
him while at mass, and kept him prisoner. John had no love for his
half-brother: but this was a good opportunity of overthrowing the
chancellor, after such an outrage on the person of an archbishop; and,
at the head of the barons and bishops, he forced Longchamp to resign the
chancellorship, and promise to give up the keys of the King’s castles.

To avoid yielding the castles, he attempted to escape from England in
disguise, and arrived at the seashore of Kent in the dress of an old
woman--a gown with large sleeves, a thick veil, and a bundle of linen
and ell-wand in his hand. The tide did not serve, and he was forced to
seat himself on a stone to wait for his vessel. Here the fisherwomen
came up and began to examine his wares, and ask their price; but the
English chancellor and bishop understood no English, and only shook
his head. Thinking him a crazy woman, they peeped under his veil, and,
“spying a great beard under his muffler,” raised a shout which brought
their husbands to the spot, who, while he vainly tried to explain
himself, dragged him in derision through the mud, and shut him up in a
cellar. He was, however, released, gave up the keys, and left England.

Geoffrey became chancellor in his stead, and took possession of the see
of York. The next disturbance was caused by the return of Philippe
of France, begging Pope Celestine III. to absolve him of his oath to
respect Richard’s dominions. Celestine refused, and no one was found to
second his plans but Richard’s own brother John, whom he brought over
by promises of securing to him the succession, and bestowing on him
the continental fiefs. The English, and with them William the Lion of
Scotland and his brother David, maintained the rights of the young
Arthur, and matters continued in suspense till Richard’s release from
his captivity.

Easily subduing and more easily pardoning his traitor brother, Richard
carried his arms into France, gained a victory at Vendome, and took the
great seal of France; then entered Guienne, where the turbulent nobility
had revolted, and reducing them, enjoyed a short space of tranquillity
and minstrelsy, and kept on a poetical correspondence with Count Guy of

Arthur, who was now nine years old, was, in 1196, introduced by his
mother to the assembly of the States of Brittany, and associated with
her in the duchy. His uncle at the same time claimed the charge of him
as his heir, and invited Constance to a conference at Pontorson. On her
way--it is much to be feared with his connivance--she was seized by a
body of troops under her husband, the Earl of Chester, and carried a
prisoner to the castle of St. James de Beuvron.

Her nobles met at St. Malo, and deputed the seneschal of Rennes to
inquire of her how they should act, and to assure her of their fidelity.
She thanked them earnestly, but her whole entreaty was that they would
guard her son, watch him like friends, servants, and parents, and save
him from the English. “As for me,” wrote she, “that will be as God
wills; but whatever may befall me, do your best for Arthur my son. I
shall always be well, provided he is well, and in the care of good

The vassals wept at this letter, full of maternal love; they swore to
devote themselves to their young lord, even to the death, and obtained
from him a promise never to treat with the English without their
consent. They placed him under the charge of the Sieur de Vitré, who
conducted him from castle to castle with so much secrecy, that Richard
continually failed in his attempts to seize on him. Treaties were
attempted, but failed, with mutual accusations of perfidy, and while
Constance continued a prisoner, a most desolating war raged in the
unfortunate duchy. The dislike and distrust that existed between
Constance and her mother-in-law, Queen Eleanor, seem to have been the
root of many of these troubles; Eleanor was all-powerful with her son,
and contrived to inspire him with distrust of Constance--a suspicion
naturally augmented by her refusal to allow him the care of her son, his
own heir, whom she placed in the hands of the foe of the English.

Richard’s troops were chiefly Brabançon mercenaries, or
free-companions--a lawless soldiery, deservedly execrated; and their
captain, Mercadet, was a favorite of the King on account of his
dauntless courage and enterprise. In a skirmish, Mercadot took prisoner
the Bishop of Beauvais, one of the warlike prelates who forgot their
proper office. The Pope demanded his liberation, and Richard returned
the suit of armor in which the bishop had been taken, with the message,
“See if this be thy son’s coat, or no.”

“No, indeed,” said Celestine; “this is the coat of a son of Mars; I will
leave it to Mars to deliver him.”

Vitré succeeded in lodging young Arthur, his charge, in the hands of
the King of France, who espoused his cause as an excuse for attacking
Richard. Several battles took place, and at length another treaty of
peace was made, by which Constance was liberated, after eighteen months’
captivity. Doubtless this would soon have proved as hollow as every
other agreement between the French King and the Plantagenet; but it was
Coeur de Lion’s last.

The Vicomte de Limoges, in Poitou, sent him two mule-burdens of silver,
part of a treasure found in his hands. Richard rapaciously claimed the
whole. “No,” said the Vicomte, “only treasure in gold belongs to the
suzerain; treasure in silver is halved.”

Richard, in anger, marched to Poitou with his Brabançons, and besieged
the Castle of Chaluz, where he believed the rest of the riches to be
concealed. In the course of the assault his shoulder was pierced by an
arrow shot from the walls by an archer named Bertrand de Gourdon, and
though the wound at first appeared slight, the surgeons, in attempting
to extract the head of the arrow, so mangled the shoulder, that fever
came on, and his life was despaired of. Mercadet, in the meantime,
pushed on the attack, took the castle, and brought Gourdon a prisoner to
the King’s tent.

“Villain, wherefore hast thou slain me?” said Richard.

“Because,” replied Gourdon, “thou hast with thine own hand killed my
father and my two brothers. Torture me as thou wilt; I shall rejoice in
having freed the world of a tyrant.”

The dying King ordered that the archer should be released, and have a
sum of money given to him; but the Brabançons, in their rage and grief,
flayed the unhappy man alive. Richard’s favorite sister Joan, Queen of
Sicily, had married Raymond, Count of Toulouse, who was at this
juncture in great distress from having taken the part of the persecuted
Albigenses. She travelled to her brother’s camp to ask his aid, but
arriving to find him expiring, she was taken ill, and, after giving
birth to a dead child, died a few hours after her brother. They were
buried together, at their father’s feet, at Fontevraud. Queen Berengaria
survived him thirty years, living peacefully in a convent at Mans, where
she was buried in the church of St. Julien, an English Queen who never
set foot in England.

Loud were the lamentations of the troubadours of Aquitaine over their
minstrel King, Bertrand de Born especially, bewailing him as “_le
roi des courtois, l’empereur des preux_,” and declaring that barons,
troubadours, jongleurs, had lost their all. This strange, contradictory
character, the ardent friend yet the turbulent enemy of the Plantagenet
princes, ended his life of rebellion and gallantry as a penitent in the
Abbey of Citeaux. Dante nevertheless introduces him in his Inferno, his
head severed from his body, and explaining his doom thus:

  “Sappi ch’i’son Bertram dal Bornio, quelli
  Che diedi al re Giovanni i ma’ comforti
  I’ feci’l padre e’l figlio in se ribelli
  Achitofel non fè pir d’Absalone
  E di David co’ malvagi pungelli
  Perch’ i’ parti cosi giunte persone
  Partito porto il mio cerebro, lasso
  Dal suo principio ch’é n questo troncone
  cosi s’osserva in me lo contrapasso.”

Queen Eleanor’s influence and Richard’s own displeasure at the Duchess
of Brittany so prevailed, that Arthur was not even named by the dying
Coeur de Lion; but he directed his barons to swear fealty to his brother
John, and the wish was universally complied with.

Philippe Auguste’s voice was the only one uplifted in favor of
Arthur, but it was merely as a means of obtaining a bribe, which John
administered in the shape of the county of Evreux, as a marriage-portion
for his niece, Blanche, the eldest daughter of Eleanor Plantagenet,
Queen of Castile. John, though half-married to various ladies, had no
recognized wife, and to give her to Louis, the eldest son of the King
of France, would therefore, as John hoped, separate France from the
interests of the Breton prince. He little thought what effect that claim
would have on himself! Queen Eleanor, though in her seventieth year,
travelled to Castile to fetch her granddaughter, a beautiful and noble
lady, innocent of all the intrigues that hinged on her espousal, and in
whom France received a blessing.

Philippe Auguste brought young Arthur to this betrothal, and caused him
to swear fealty to his uncle for Brittany as a fief of Normandy. Arthur
was now thirteen, and had newly received the order of knighthood,
adopting as his device the lion, unicorn, and griffin, which tradition
declared to have been borne by his namesake, and this homage must have
been sorely against his will. He was betrothed to Marie, one of the
French King’s daughters, and continued to reside at his court, never
venturing into the power of his uncle.

His mother, Constance, had taken advantage of this tranquillity to
obtain a divorce from the hated Earl of Chester, and to give her hand to
the Vicomte Guy de Thouars; but the Bretons appear to have disapproved
of the step, as they never allowed him to bear the title of Duke. She
survived her marriage little more than two years, in the course of which
she gave birth to three daughters, Alix, Catherine, and Marguerite, and
died in the end of 1201.

Arthur set off to take possession of his dukedom, and was soon delighted
to hear of a fresh disturbance between his uncle and the King of France,
hoping that he might thus come to his rights.

John had long ago fallen in love with Avice, granddaughter of Earl
Robert of Gloucester, and had been espoused to her at his brother’s
coronation; but the Church had interposed, and refused to permit their
union, as they were second cousins. He was now in the south of France,
where he beheld the beautiful Isabelle, daughter of the Count of
Angoulême, only waiting till her age was sufficient for her to fulfill
the engagement made in her infancy, and become the wife of Hugh de
Lusignan, called _le brun_, Count de la Marche, namely, the borders of
English and French Poitou. Regardless of their former ties, John at once
obtained the damsel from her faithless parents, and made her his queen;
while her lover, who was ardently attached to her, called upon the King
of France, as suzerain, to do him justice.

Philippe was glad to establish the supremacy of his court, and summoned
John to appear. John promised compensation, and offered as a pledge two
of his castles; then broke his word, and refused; whereupon Philippe
took up arms, besieged the castles, and had just destroyed them both,
when Arthur arrived, with all the Breton knights he could collect, and
burning with the eagerness of his sixteen years.

At once Philippe offered to receive his homage for the county of Anjou,
and to send him to conquer it with any knights who would volunteer to
follow him. Hugh de Lusignan was the first to bring him fifteen, and
other Poitevin barons joined him; but, in all, he could muster but one
hundred knights and four or five hundred other troops, and the wiser
heads advised him to wait for reinforcements from Brittany. The fiery
young men, however, asked, “When was it our fashion to count our foes?”
 and their rashness prevailed. Arthur marched to besiege the town
of Mirabeau, where there resided one whom he should never have
attacked--his aged grandmother; but Constance had taught him no
sentiment toward her but hatred, and with this ill-omened beginning to
his chivalry he commenced his expedition.

The town was soon taken: but Eleanor’s high spirit had not deserted her;
she shut herself up in the castle, and contrived to send intelligence
to her son. John was for once roused, and marched to Mirabeau with such
speed, that Arthur soon found himself surrounded in his turn. The Queen
was in the citadel, the prince in the town, besieging her, and himself
besieged by the King on the outside; but the town wall was strong, and
John could not easily injure his nephew, nor send succor to his mother.

He recollected a knight named Guillaume dos Roches, who had once been
attached to Arthur’s service, but was now in his camp; and sending for
him, the wily King thus addressed him: “It is hard that persons who
should be friendly kindred should so disturb each other for want of
meeting and coming to an understanding. Here is Eleanor, my honored
mother, discourteously shut up in a tower in danger of being broken down
by engines of war, and sending forth nothing but cries and tears. Here
is Arthur, my fair nephew, who some day will be an honor to chivalry,
going straight forward, fancying nothing can hurt him, looking on
battles as feasts and sports. And here am I, John, his lord and King,
who could easily take from him at a blow all the rest of his life; I am
waiting, and endeavoring to spare him, though his men-at-arms may come
and catch me like a fox in the toils. Cannot you find some expedient?
Can you remember no friend of my fair nephew who could help you to
restore peace, and obtain a guerdon from me?”

“The only guerdon I desire,” replied Des Roches, “is the honor of
serving my lord; but one gift I entreat.”

“I grant it, by the soul of my father,” said John.

“To-morrow, then,” said Des Roches, “the young Duke and all his young
lords shall be at your disposal; but I claim the gift you granted me. It
is, that none of the besieged shall be imprisoned or put to death, and
that Duke Arthur be treated by you as your good and honorable nephew,
and that you leave him such of his lands as rightfully pertain to him.”

John promised, and even swore that, if he violated his word, he released
his subjects from their oaths. Arthur’s stepfather, Guy de Thouars,
witnessed the agreement, and, thus satisfied, Des Roches introduced his
troops into the town at midnight, and Arthur and his followers were
seized in their sleep. But for John’s promise, he regarded it no more
than the wind; he sent twenty-two knights at once to Corfe Castle,
chained two and two together in carts drawn by oxen, where all but Hugh
de Lusignan were starved to death by his orders. He threw the rest into
different prisons, and closely confined his nephew at Falaise. Des
Roches remonstrated, upon which John attempted to arrest both him and
De Thouars, but they escaped from his dominions; and Des Roches was so
grieved at the fatal consequence of his treachery, that he became a
hermit, and ended his life in penance.

The old Queen, whose disposition had softened with her years, charged
John, on pain of her curses, not to hurt his nephew, and exerted herself
to save the victims from barbarity. She prevailed so far as to obtain
the life of Lusignan; but he was shut up at Bristol Castle, where John
likewise imprisoned the elder sister of Arthur, Eleanor, a girl of
eighteen, of such peerless beauty that she was called the Pearl of
Brittany. John held a parley with his nephew at Falaise, when the
following dialogue took place; [Footnote: These particulars are from old
chronicles of slight authority.]

“Give up your false pretentions,” said John, “to crowns you will never
wear. Am I not your uncle? I will give you a share of my inheritance as
your lord, and grant you my friendship.”

“Better the hatred of the King of France!” exclaimed the high-spirited
boy; “he has not broken his faith, and with a noble knight there is
always a resource in generosity.”

“Folly to trust him!” sneered John. “French kings are the born enemies
of Plantagenets.”

“Philippe has placed the crown on my brow--he was my godfather in
chivalry--he has granted me his daughter,” said Arthur.

“And you will never marry her, fair nephew! My towers are strong; none
here resist my will.”

The boy burst out proudly: “Neither towers nor swords shall make me
cowardly enough to deny the right I hold from my father and from God.
He was your elder brother, now before the Saviour of men. England,
Touraine, Anjou, Guienne, are mine in his right, and Brittany through my
mother. Never will I renounce them, but by death.”

“So be it, fair nephew,” were John’s words, and with them he left his
captive alone, to dwell on the horrors thus implied.

Soon after, John secretly sent a party of men into Arthur’s dungeon,
with orders to put out his eyes. The youth caught up a wooden bench, and
defended himself with it, calling so loudly for help as to bring to the
spot the excellent governor of the castle, Hubert de Burgh, who had been
in ignorance of their horrible design. He sent away the assassins, and,
as the only means of saving the poor prince, he caused the chapel bell
to be tolled, and let it be supposed that he had perished under their
hands. All the world believed it, and Brittany and Normandy began to
rise, to call the murderer to account. Hubert thought he was doing a
service in divulging the safety of the prisoner, but the effect was,
that John transferred the poor boy to Rouen, and to the keeping of
William Bruce.

He was an old man, and dreaded the iniquity that he saw would soon be
practised; and, coming to the King, gave up his charge in these words:
“I know not what Fate intends for your nephew, whom I have hitherto
faithfully kept. I give him up to you, in full health, and sound in
limb; but I will guard him no longer; I must return to my own affairs.”

John’s eyes flashed fury; but the baron retired to his own fiefs, which
he put in a state of defence. A few days after, John and his wicked
squire, Pierre de Maulac, left the court, giving notice that he was
going to Cherbourg, and, after wandering for three days in the woods of
Moulineau, came late at night in a little boat to the foot of the tower
where Arthur was confined. Horses were ready there, and he sent Maulac
to bring him his nephew.

“Fair nephew,” said he, “come and see the day you have so long desired.
I will make you free as air: you shall even have a kingdom to govern.”

Arthur began to ask explanations, but John cut him short, telling him
there would be time for questions and thanks; and Maulac helped him to
his horse, for he was so much weakened by his imprisonment that he could
hardly mount. They rode on, Arthur in front, till they came to a spot
where the river flowed beneath a precipitous bank. It was John’s chosen
spot; and he spurred his horse against his nephew’s, striking him down
with his sword. The poor boy cried aloud for mercy, promising to yield
all he required.

“All is mine henceforth,” said John, “and here is the kingdom I promised

Then striking him again, by the help of Maulac he dragged him to the
edge of the rock, and threw him headlong into the Seine, whose waters
closed over the brave young Plantagenet, in his eighteenth year, ending
all the hopes of the Bretons. The deed of darkness was guessed at,
though it was long before its manner became known; and John himself
marked out its consummation by causing himself to be publicly crowned
over again, and by rewarding his partner in the crime with the hand of
the heiress of Mulgrave. His mother, Queen Eleanor, is said to have died
of grief at the horror he had perpetrated. She had retired, after the
siege of Mirabeau, to the convent of Fontevraud, where she assumed the
veil, and now shared the same fate as her husband, King Henry--like him,
dying broken-hearted for the crimes of their son. She was buried beside
him and her beloved Coeur de Lion.

The Bretons mourned and raged at the loss of their young duke. His
sister Eleanor was wasting her youth and loveliness in a prison,
which she only left, after her oppressor’s death, to become a nun at
Ambresbury; and they therefore proclaimed as their duchess her little
half-sister, Alix de Thouars, who was, at four years old, presented
to the States in her father’s arms, and shortly after married to an
efficient protector, Pierre de Dreux, called, from his quarrels with the
clergy, Mauclerc.

Never had the enemy of the Plantagenets been so well served as by King
John. Such was the indignation and grief of the whole French noblesse,
that, when Pope Innocent III sent out a legate to mediate between the
two kings, the barons bound themselves by a charter, “to second their
lord, King Philippe, in his war against King John, notwithstanding the
will of the Pope, exhorting him to contrive it without being dismayed by
vain words, and agreeing to give him all assistance, and enter into no
treaty with the Pope save with his consent.”

Finding his nobles in this disposition, Philippe ventured on an
unprecedented step, namely, that of summoning the King of England, as
his vassal for Normandy and Anjou, to answer for the crime done on the
person of his nephew, before his peers, namely, the other great crown
vassals and barons holding fiefs directly from the King.

John did not deny the competence of the court of peers, and sent Hubert
de Burgh, and Eustace, Bishop of Ely, to declare that he would willingly
appear, provided a safe-conduct was sent to him. Philippe declared that
he certainly might come in safety; but when they asked if he guaranteed
his security, supposing he was condemned, he replied, “By all the saints
of France, no! That must be decided by the peers.” The bishop declared
that a crowned head could not be tried for murder; the English barons
would not permit it. “What is that to me?” said Philippe. “The Dukes of
Normandy have certainly conquered England; but because a vassal augments
his domain, is the suzerain to lose his rights?”

Two months were allowed for John’s appearance in person; and on the
appointed day the assembly was held in the Louvre: the nobles in ermine
robes, and the heralds paraded the public places, calling on King
John to appear and answer for his felony; then, as no reply was made,
judgment was pronounced that his fiefs of Normandy, Anjou, and Poitou,
were forfeited to the Crown, Guienne alone being excepted, as its
heiress, his mother, was not at that time dead.

The execution followed upon the sentence: Philippe instantly marched
into Normandy, and seized upon towns, his flatterers said, as if he
caught them in a net. Chateau Gaillard, however, held out for more than
a year, and Philippe was forced to blockade it. It had been fortified to
perfection by Richard, who termed it his beautiful Castle on the Rock,
and pertinaciously defended by Roger de Lacy. All the non-combatants
were driven out; but the French would not allow them to pass through
their lines, and they lived miserably among the rocks, trying to satisfy
their hunger with the refuse of the camp. One wretched man was found
gnawing a piece of the leg of a dog, and when some compassionate French
tried to take it from him, he resisted, declaring he would not part with
it till he was satisfied with bread. They fed him, but he could hardly
masticate, though swallowing his food ravenously.

One tower was at last overthrown, and another was gained by a bold
“varlet,” named Bogis, who was lifted on the shoulders of his comrades,
till he could climb in at an undefended window, where he drew up sixty
more with ropes. They burnt down the doors, and entered the castle,
where only one hundred and fifty knights remained alive. Keeping them at
bay, Bogis lowered the drawbridge, and admitted the rest of the army;
the remains of the garrison retreated into the keep, still resolved not
to surrender, though battering-rams, catapults, and every engine of war
was brought to bear on them. A huge piece of wall fell down, still there
was no surrender; but with night, all resistance ceased, and the French,
entering in the morning, found every one of the garrison lying dead in
the dust and ruins, all their wounds in the face and breast--not
one behind, “to the great honor and praise of chivalry,” said their
assailants, who rejoiced in their valor.

Only one feeble attempt had been made by John to succor these noble
and constant men, though no further distant than Rouen, where he was
feasting with his new queen. All his reply to messages of Philippe’s
advance was, “Let him alone; I will regain more in a day than he can
take in a year.”

Chinon was taken after a gallant defence, and in it Hubert de Burgh, for
whom John seems to have had an unusual regard. For a moment it grieved
him, and he awoke from his festivities to say to his queen:

“There, dame, do you hear what I have lost for your sake?”

“Sire,” said Isabella, who had learnt by this time at how dear a price
she had purchased her crown, “on my part, I lost the best knight in the
world for your sake!”

“By the faith I owe you, in ten years’ time we shall have no corner safe
from the King of France and his power!”

“Certes! sir,” she answered, “I believe you are very desirous of being a
king checkmated in a corner.”

She seems to have taken every occasion of showing her contempt for the
mean-spirited wretch to whom she had given her hand: but at present her
treatment only incited the King’s ardor of affection: he formed more
schemes of pleasure for her, and turned a deaf ear to all complaints
from his deserted subjects, until Falaise had surrendered, Mont St.
Michael was burnt, and Rouen itself was threatened. Then he took flight,
and returned to England, where he made his Norman war a pretext for
taxes; but when the Rouennais citizens, who still had a love for the
line of Rollo, came to tell him that they must surrender in thirty days
unless they were succored, he would not interrupt his game at chess to
listen to them; and, when it was finished, only said, “Do as you can: I
have no aid to give you.”

They were therefore forced to surrender, Philippe swearing to respect
their rights and liberties; and thus, after three hundred years, did the
dukedom that first raised the Norman line to the rank of princes pass
from the race of Rollo, disgracefully forfeited by a cowardly murder.
The four little isles of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, are the
only remnant of the duchy won by the Northman. They still belong to the
Queen, as Duchess of Normandy, are ruled by peculiar Norman laws, and
bear on their coinage only the three lions, without the bearings of her
other domains.

Anjou, Maine, and Touraine, were won by the French, without one blow
struck in their defence by Ingelger’s degenerate descendant, “whose
sinful heart made feeble hand.” The recovery of his continental
dominions served as a pretext for a tax of every tenth shilling; but
this being illegal, Geoffrey, the Archbishop of York, refused to consent
to, and threatened excommunication to all in his diocese who should pay
it. John vowed vengeance, and placed his life in such danger that he was
forced to flee from the country, and his death abroad saved the King
from the guilt of the murder of a brother.

With the money John had raised, he levied a force of Brabançons and
free-companions, entered Anjou, burnt Angers, and besieged Nantes; but
on hearing of Philippe’s advance, retreated, and thus ended all hopes of
his regaining his inheritance. The Norman barons, whose lands had passed
to the French, told him that, if their bodies served him, their hearts
would be with the French, and, for the most part, transferred their
allegiance, and he remained with his disgrace. Thus was Arthur avenged.


   _King of England._ 1199. John.

   _King of Scotland_ 1163. William.

   _King of France_ 1180. Philippe II.

   _Emperors of Germany._
        1208. Otho IV.
        1209. Friedrich III.

   _Pope._ 1198. Innocent III.

The election of bishops still remained a subject of dispute in the
Church, in spite of the settlement apparently effected in the time of
Archbishop Anselm, when it was determined that, on the vacancy of a see,
the King should send a _Congé d’élire_ (permission to elect) to the
chapter of the cathedral, generally accompanied with a recommendation,
and that the prelate should receive investiture from the Crown of the
temporalities of his see. However, in the case of archbishoprics, the
matter was complicated by the right of the bishops to have a voice in
the choice of their primate, and by the custom of the Pope’s presenting
him with a pall, which the grasping pontiffs of the thirteenth century
would fain have converted into a power of rejection. At each election to
Canterbury the debate broke out, enhanced by the jealousies between the
secular clergy, who often formed the majority of the bishops, and who
usually held with the sovereign, and the regular monks of St. Augustine,
who were the canons of the cathedral, and looked to the Pope.

Richard, who succeeded Thomas à Becket, was a monastic priest, mild, and
somewhat time-serving, conniving at irregularities, and never apparently
provoked out of his meekness, except by the perpetual struggle for
precedence with the see of York--and no wonder, when, at a synod at
Westminster, Roger, Archbishop of York, fairly sat down in his lap on
finding him occupying the seat of honor next to the legate. Upon this
the Pope interfered, pronouncing the Archbishop of York, Primate of
England, and him of Canterbury, Primate of all England; but the jealousy
as to the right of having the cross carried before them in each other’s
provinces continued for centuries to a lamentable and shameful degree.

Baldwin, who succeeded him, seems to have been secular, but little is
known of him. He, with the consent of Richard Coeur de Lion, laid the
foundation of a convent at Lambeth, which he intended as a residence for
the primate, in order to lessen the preponderance of the canons of St.
Augustine; he then accompanied the King on the Crusade, and died of
fever before the walls of Acre.

Walter Hubert, Bishop of Salisbury, was also a Crusader, and a great
friend of Richard, who, from his imprisonment, wrote letters to point
him out as archbishop--a favor which he returned by great exertions
in raising the King’s ransom. He was a completely worldly and secular
priest, continually giving umbrage to his chapter, who used to complain
of him to the Pope, and obtain censures, of which he took no heed. When
Richard made him Grand Justiciary, they declared that it was contrary
to all rule for him to be judge in causes of blood; whereupon the Pope
ordered the King to remove him from the office, but without much effect.
Sharing Richard’s councils, he had the same dislike to Constance and her
son, and willingly crowned John, making a dangerous and disloyal speech,
in which he pronounced the kingdom elective, and to be conferred on the
most worthy of the royal family. He accepted the chancellorship from
John, and was so fond of boasting of its riches and dignities, that he
drew on himself a rebuke from Hugh Bardolfe, one of the rude barons. “My
Lord, with your leave, if you would consider the power and dignity
of your spiritual calling, you would not undertake the yoke of lay
servitude.” But, unchecked by this rebuke, he gave offence to John by
foolishly trying to vie with the King in the richness of the raiment
given at Christmas to his retainers--an affront to John which a
sumptuous feast at Easter could not efface.

The chief grievance to the Augustine chapter at Canterbury was the
new foundation at Lambeth; they dreaded that Becket’s relics might be
translated thither, and they never ceased appealing to Pope Innocent
III. till they had obtained an order for its demolition. This dispute
made them more than ever bent on an archbishop of their own choice.

Hubert died at Canterbury, July 18th, 1205, and the younger monks were
misled by party-spirit into the attempt to steal a march on the rest.
They assembled on the night of his death, and elected their sub-prior
Reginald, conducted him to the cathedral, placed him on the
archiepiscopal throne, and hurried him off in secret to Rome, with
strict injunctions not to divulge his election till he had obtained
confirmation of it from the Pope.

Reginald was as imprudent as might have been expected from his
acceptance of a dignity thus conferred; he had no sooner crossed the
sea, than he began to boast of his rank as archbishop-elect. These
tidings coming back to England, his own supporters were ashamed of him,
and, willing to have their transaction forgotten, joined with their
elders, the bishops, and the King, in appointing John de Gray, Bishop of
Norwich, a man apparently of the same stamp as Hubert, as he was one of
the Justiciaries, and little attentive to the affairs of his diocese.
Twelve of the canons of St. Augustine were despatched to Rome to explain
the affair to the Pope, offer him a present of 12,000 marks, and obtain
the pall for Gray.

The Pope examined into the subject, and pronounced, of course,
Reginald’s election null, and Gray’s also null, because made before the
former claim had been disposed of. The twelve canons were therefore to
make a fresh election, and as this had been foreseen before they left
home, the King had bound them by oath to choose no one but Gray.
Innocent might justifiably object to such a person, but his proceedings
were in accordance with the violent and domineering spirit which
actuated him. His nominee was an Englishman named Stephen Langton, a
learned man, who had taught in the University of Paris, of which he was
now chancellor; he had been recommended from thence to Innocent, who had
given him high office at Rome, and made him a cardinal. His life was
irreproachable, and he was deeply learned in the Scriptures, which it
is said he was the first to divide into verses. To so distinguished and
excellent a person Innocent hoped no objection could arise; and when
the canons of St. Augustine demurred as to their oath, and the King
and chapter’s right, he silenced their scruples by threats of
excommunication, and they all, excepting one named Elias de Braintefeld,
concurred in appointing Langton and enthroning him, singing _Te Deum_
while Elias stood at the door.

Innocent wrote to John two letters. The first was merely complimentary,
and contained four rings, with explanations of their emblematic meaning.
Their circular form signified eternity; their number, constancy; the
emerald was for faith; the sapphire for hope; the red granite for
charity; the topaz for good works. In his other letter, he recommended
Langton to the King, dwelling on his many high qualities, on which John
himself had previously complimented him.

A good archbishop was the last thing John desired, especially a man of
high spirit and ability, who would act as a restraint on him, and he
refused to receive the letters. The chapter of Canterbury, however,
confirmed the election, and the Pope, after waiting in vain for an
answer from the King, consecrated Stephen Langton at Viterbo, June 17th.

John certainly so far had the advantage that his opponents had placed
themselves in the wrong, but as no one could outdo him in that respect,
he instantly fell on the unfortunate monks of Canterbury, and declaring
them guilty of high treason, sent two of his most lawless men-at-arms
and their followers to drive them out of the country. At the same time
he wrote to the Pope that he was astonished at his thus treating a
country that contributed so largely to the papal revenues; that he was
resolved to support Gray’s election, and that he was determined that
Langton should never set foot in England.

Innocent remonstrated in vain, declaring that this should never be made
a precedent for interference with future appointments. John held out,
and at length the Pope availed himself of the power ascribed to him, to
force the King to compliance, by declaring his country under the ban of
the Church.

It is said that, in the midst of the horrible confusion that followed
the death of Charlemagne, the idea of such an expedient had first
arisen. In the Synod of Limoges, the Abbot Odolric had proposed that,
till the nobles should cease from their ravages, the churches should be
stripped of their ornaments, the mass not be celebrated, no marriages
take place, and the abstinence of Lent be observed. This universal
mourning had brought the ferocious nobles to a sense of their guilt, and
more peaceful times had succeeded, so that an interdict was considered
as one of the mightiest weapons in the armory of the Church.

Only a few years before, Innocent had, by an interdict on the kingdom of
France, forced Philippe Auguste to put away Agnes de Meranie, whom he
had married in the lifetime of his lawful wife Ingeberge. Then (if ever)
it was properly employed, to enforce morality; but it was a different
thing to lay a whole nation under the ban of the Church merely for a
dispute respecting an appointment.

Innocent sent orders to the bishops of London, Ely, and Worcester, to
publish the interdict on the Monday of Passion week, 1208 (the second
before Easter). They went to the King, and besought him to be reconciled
with the Pope, and avert this dreadful edict. He grew pale with rage,
foamed at the mouth, and threatened them furiously; swore at the clergy,
drove them from his presence, and issued orders that his officers
should seize, the property of every man who paid any attention to the
interdict. “If you, or any of your body, dare to lay my states under
interdict, I will send you to Rome, and seize your goods; and if I catch
one Roman priest in my realms, I will cut off his nose and put out his
eyes, that all may know he is a Roman!”

Nevertheless, on the appointed day it was pronounced by the three
prelates, according to the appointed form.

At night the clergy assembled, each bearing a torch, and with one voice
chanted the _Miserere_, and other penitential psalms and prayers, while
the church-bells rang out the ‘broken funeral-knell. Veils were hung
over the crucifixes, the consecrated Wafer of the Host was consumed by
fire, the relics and images of the saints were carried into the crypts,
and then the bishops, in the violet robes of mourning used on Good
Friday, announced to the frightened multitude, in the name of Heaven,
that the domains of John, King of England, were laid under the ban of
the Church until he should have rendered submission to the Holy See.
Every torch was then at once extinguished, in token that the light of
the Gospel was denied them!

Thenceforth every church was closed; no bell pealed forth, no mass was
offered, no matins nor vespers were sung. Only the dying were permitted
to communicate, but their corpses were laid in the ground with maimed
rites; infants were baptized, but their mothers were churched only in
the churchyard, where on Sunday a sermon was preached, and on Good
Friday the cross was carried out and exposed for the veneration of the

The monasteries were allowed to carry on their services, on condition
that they did so with closed doors, admitting no one from without; and
the Cistercian order considered it as their privilege to be exempt, and
to open their churches for worship as usual. Neither did the King’s
favorite, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, nor De Gray himself,
choose to acknowledge the interdict, so that the services continued as
usual in their sees, and in many single parishes. These were the only
two bishops in England; for the three who proclaimed the interdict
had at once to flee for their lives, and the others, few in number at
present, soon followed them. De Gray being soon after sent as deputy to
Ireland, Des Roches was the sole bishop left to all England.

The King made light of it; and when, in the chase, he killed an
unusually fat buck, he said, laughing, “Here is a fellow who has
prospered well enough without ever hearing matins or vespers.” But he
was much enraged; he imprisoned the relatives of the fugitive bishops,
and announced himself ready to drive every priest who should obey the
interdict out of the kingdom, to be maintained, as he said, by the Pope.
The Archdeacon of Norwich experienced his cruelty for consulting with
his brethren on enforcing it. The Angevin soldiers seized him, and
soldered on his neck a cope of lead, so that he perished in prison under
its weight, and from hunger.

Afterward, however, some terror seized on John, and he ordered his
officers to allow the bishops enough to provide them two dishes of meat
each day, while the secular clergy were to receive as much as should be
adjudged needful for their support by four sworn men of their parish.
Moreover, the man who, by word or deed, abused any of the clergy, should
forthwith be hanged upon an oak!

The Pope followed up his interdict by excommunicating John, and
absolving his subjects from their oaths of allegiance, but a strict
watch was kept on the ports, and no one seems ever to have dared to lay
the bull before the King. However, its existence was well known, and
rendered John very uneasy. He wished to hear what his fate was to be,
and his half-brother, William Longsword, brought him a hermit, named
Peter of Wakefield, who told him he would wear his crown no longer than
next Ascension Day. John flew into a rage, and called him idiot-knave;
declared that, as idiot, he pardoned him, but, as knave, he imprisoned
him in Corfe Castle, till he should see whether his tale came true.

The King, to preserve the obedience of the nobles, demanded their
children to be kept as hostages. One of those to whom the order came was
William de Braose, Lord of Bramber, in Sussex, and of a wide district in
Ireland. Herds of the wild white cattle with red ears roamed about his
estate, and his wife is said to have boasted that she could victual
a besieged castle for a month with her cheeses, and yet have some to
spare. When John’s squire, Pierre de Maulac, the hated governor of
Corfe, who was accused of having aided in the murder of Arthur, came to
demand her children, the high-spirited lady answered that the King had
not taken such care of his own nephew as to make her entrust her son to
his keeping. Her husband was alarmed for the consequences of her bold
speech, sent four hundred of the oxen as a present to the Queen, and
fled with his wife to Ireland; but in his absence, two years after, John
made a progress thither, seized upon her and her children, and sent them
back to Corfe, where Maulac, by his orders, starved them all to death in
the dungeons. The eldest son escaped, being with his father in France,
where the unhappy Lord of Bramber died of grief on hearing of their
horrible fate, the most barbarous action which has ever stained the
pages of English history.

Innocent now put forth a bull addressed to the King of France, saying
that the prelates of Canterbury, London, and Ely, having declared to him
the cruel persecution of the English Church, he had, in presence of his
cardinals, solemnly deposed King John; and in order that a greater and
more noble prince might be summoned to the throne, he granted it to
Philippe Auguste, assuring him that all his efforts to conquer it should
be reckoned for the remission of his sins, and that he might transmit
his conquests to his descendants. He wrote other letters, desiring the
French nobles to second their King in their enterprise; and there were
many English who, grieved by the censures of the Church, and suffering
personal injuries from their tyrant, were ready to seek aid in a new
dynasty. Walter Hubert’s doctrine of the most worthy was an unfortunate
one for such a king as John, and he began to reap the fruits of it when
placed in comparison with Louis the Lion, whom, by the marriage with his
niece, Blanche of Castille, he had placed next in succession to his own
infant children.

Louis collected a fleet and army, and put forth a proclamation; while
John forced money from his subjects, robbed the monasteries, and
tortured the Jews. One of them, refusing to pay an exorbitant demand of
10,000 marks, was seized, and condemned daily to lose a tooth until he
should consent. He held out seven days, and did not yield up the sum
till he had lost all his double teeth. Scotland and Wales were also
stirred up against him; and though he made a treaty with William the
Lion, and defeated Llewellyn of Wales, his danger was pressing, and John
de Gray, the chosen archbishop, is said to have done his best, to put
the Pope in the right, by advising his master to seek the alliance of
the Emir of Cordova, Mahomet of Nesser, one of the brave, generous, and
learned Moors of Spain, who had it in his power seriously to damage
France on the southern frontier, and thus make a diversion in his favor.

Two knights and a clerk, it is alleged, were sent on this mission,
proposing to Mahomet to take John under his protection on receiving a
tribute from him, and he even offered himself and De Gray to become
Mahometans, so as to be rid of Pope and cardinals together.

The bearers of this base proposal were admitted to the palace. At the
first door they found soldiers with drawn swords, in the second a band
of nobles, in the third a species of couch guarded by ferocious-looking
warriors, who opened their ranks and let them approach the Saracen
prince. They explained their mission, and gave him the King’s letters,
which were translated by an interpreter, while they studied the grave
and majestic but gentle expression of his countenance. After some
minutes’ reflection, he thus spoke: “A few moments ago I was reading a
book by a Greek sage; who was a Christian, by name Paul, whose words
and acts please me exceedingly. One thing alone in him displeases me,
namely, that, born under the Jewish law, he forsook the faith of his
fathers to adopt a new one. It is the same with your King of England,
who, renouncing the religion to which he was born, is bent and moulded
like wax. I know the Almighty is ignorant of nothing; and, had I been
born with no religion, I might have chosen the Christian. But tell me,
what is the King of England--what are the strength and riches of his

The clerk then spoke: “Our King is born of illustrious ancestors, his
domains are rich in fertile pastures, forests, and mines; his people
are mighty and handsome, possessed of sciences, and ruling over three
tongues--Welsh, Latin, and French. The English understand all arts,
especially mechanics and navigation, and they have gained the title of
Island Kings.”

“Ah, ha!” said the Moor, smiling; “but how can the prince of so fair a
kingdom condescend, to offer to give up his freedom, pay tribute, and
put himself under subjection? He must be sick. What is his age?”

“Between forty and fifty--strong and healthy.”

“I see how it is! He is losing his youthful spirit!” Then, after a
silence, “Your King is nothing; he is only a kinglet growing enfeebled
and old. I care not for him; he is unworthy to be united to me. Away
with you! Your master’s infamy stinks in my nostrils!”

The envoys retired in confusion; but the Emir had been struck by the
appearance of the clerk, a small, deformed man, with a dark, Jewish
face, one arm longer than the other, misshapen fingers, wearing the
tonsure and clerical habit; and thinking there must be superior
intelligence to counterbalance so unprepossessing an aspect, he sent
for him in private, and asked him on oath respecting the morals and
character of his master. He was obliged to confess the whole truth; and
Mahomet asked, in surprise, “How can the English allow this cowardly
tyrant to misuse them? Are they effeminate and servile?”

“No, indeed,” was the answer, “but they are very patient, until driven
to extremity; then, like the wounded lion or elephant, they rise against
their oppressor.”

“I blame their weakness,” said the Emir: “they should put an end to the

So, obtaining nothing for their master by his plan of apostasy, the
envoys were dismissed, the clerk alone having received a present from
the Saracen prince, who had been pleased with his ability. While buoyed
up by these hopes, John had shown some spirit; he had fitted out a
fleet, which suddenly crossed the Channel and burnt the French ships at
Dieppe, and he was at the head of an army of 60,000 men in Kent. But he
did not trust his own forces, and, on hearing there was no aid to be
looked for from Spain, his courage failed, and he was ready, after all
his threats, to make any concession.

Hubert, Abbot of Beaulieu, the monastery founded by John in expiation of
Arthur’s murder, was secretly sent with offers of submission, and two
Knights of the Temple arrived at the camp with a message that Cardinal
Pandulfo, the Pope’s legate, would fain see the King in private.
John consented, and Pandulfo, coming to him at Dover, terrified him
dreadfully with the description of the French armament, and then
skilfully talked of the Pope’s clemency and forgiveness. This took the
more effect that Ascension Day was approaching, and the prediction of
Peter of Wakefield way preying on his mind.

On the 13th of May, John consented, in the presence of four of his
nobles--the Earls of Salisbury, Boulogne, Warenne, and Ferrars--to a
treaty such as had been previously offered to him, receiving Langton,
recalling the exiled clergy, and making restitution for the injuries
they had suffered. This deed was sealed by the King and the four earls,
and it seemed as if all were arranged.

Next day, however, the legate was closeted with the King; and on the
following, the eve of the Ascension, 1213, the English were amazed by
the proceedings of the King.

He repaired to the church of the Temple early in the morning, and there
an instrument was read aloud: “Ye know,” it said, in the name of John to
his subjects, “that we have deeply offended our Holy Mother the Church,
and that it will be hard to draw on us the mercy of Heaven. Therefore we
would humble ourselves, and without constraint, of our own free will, by
the consent of our barons and high justiciaries, we give and confer on
God, on the holy Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, on our Mother the
Church, and on Pope Innocent III. and his Catholic successors, the
whole kingdom of England and of Ireland, with all their rights and
dependencies, for the remission of our sins; henceforth we hold them
as a fief, and in, token thereof we swear allegiance and pay homage in
presence of Pandulfo, Legate of the Holy See.”

John seems to have found no chancellor who would seal the charter of his
shame, but to have had to set the great seal to it himself; thus giving
to the Pope, “for the remission of his sins,” the crown which the
Saracen had disdained! The cardinal legate seated himself on the vacated
throne, John knelt at his feet, laid down the crown, and spoke the words
of allegiance as a vassal, offering money as the earnest of the tribute.
Pandulfo indignantly trampled on the coin, in token that the Church
scorned earthly riches; but earthly honors Rome did not scorn, and for
five days the crown remained in the cardinal’s keeping. So John was
discrowned on Ascension Day, and Peter of Wakefield’s prediction was
verified; but it did not save the poor prophet. The vindictive wretch,
who pretended to have yielded his throne for the pardon of his sins,
caused him and his son to be drawn at the tails of horses, and hanged on

The excommunication was removed, and the hateful John was declared a
favored son of the Church, while Pandulfo went to put a stop to the
French expedition. This was not quite so easy; Philippe Auguste had been
at great expense, and he could not endure to let his enemy escape him;
he was the Pope’s friend only when it suited him, and he swore that,
Pope or no Pope, he would invade England. Ferrand, Count of Flanders,
remonstrated and Philippe drove him away in a fury, “By all the saints,
France shall belong to Flanders, or Flanders to France!”

So he burst into Flanders, and besieged Ghent. Ferrand sent to John
for aid, and the fleet under the command of the earls of Holland and
Salisbury utterly destroyed the French fleet at Bruges, on which
Philippe depended for provisions, so that he was forced to retreat to
his own country. The following year, as he was still in opposition to
the Pope, a league was formed for the invasion of France, between John,
his nephew Otho, Emperor of Germany, and many other friends of Innocent,
but it only resulted in a shameful defeat at Bouvines, where Philippe
signalized his courage and generalship, and John and Otho fled in
disgrace. In this battle the Bishop of Beauvais again fought, but
thought to obviate the danger of being disavowed by his spiritual father
by using no weapon save a club.

In the meantime, Stephen Langton arrived in England, took possession of
his see, and at Winchester received a reluctant kiss from the King, who
bitterly hated the cause of his shame. The Cardinal Archbishop publicly
absolved the King, and relieved the country from the interdict under
which it had groaned for five years.

It is a melancholy history of the encroachments of Rome, and of the
atrocious wickedness of the English King; and perhaps the worst feature
in the case was that his crimes went unreproved, and that it was only
his resistance to the Pope that was punished. The love of temporal
dominion was ruining the Church of Rome.


  _Kings of England_.
   1199. John.
   1216. Henry III.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1214. Alexander II.

  _King of France_.
   1180. Philippe II.

  _Emperor of Germany._
   1209. Friedrich II.

   1198. Innocent III.
   1216. Honorius III.

The first table of English laws were those of Ina, King of Wessex.
Alfred the Great published a fuller code, commencing with the Ten
Commandments, as the foundation of all law. Ethelstane and St. Dunstan,
in the name of Edgar the Peaceable, added many other enactments, by
which the lives, liberties, and property of Englishmen were secured as
soundly as the wisdom of the times could devise.

These were the laws of Alfred and Edward the Confessor, which William
the Conqueror bound himself to observe at his coronation, but which
he entirely set at nought, bringing in with him the feudal system,
according to his own harsh interpretation. The Norman barons who owned
estates in England found themselves more entirely subject to the King,
who brought them in by right of conquest, than they had been by ancient
custom to their duke in Normandy; and Saxons and Normans alike were new
to the strict Forest Laws introduced by William.

Every king of doubtful right tried to win the favor of the Saxons, a
sturdy and formidable race, though still in subjection, by engaging to
give them the laws of their own dynasty. With this promise William Rufus
was crowned, and likewise Henry I., who even distributed copies of
the charter to be kept in the archives of all the chief abbeys, but
afterward caused them, it seems, to be privately destroyed. Stephen made
the same futile promise, failing perhaps, more from inability than from
design; and after his death the nation was so glad of repose on any
terms, that there were no special stipulations made on the accession of
Henry II. He and his Grand Justiciary, Ranulf de Glanville, governed
according to law, but it was partly the law of Normandy, partly of
their own device; the Norman _parlement_ of barons, and the Saxon
Wittenagemot, were alike ignored. The King obtained sufficient supplies
from his own immense estates, and from the fines which he had the power
to demand at certain times as feudal superior, and did in fact obtain at
will, and exact even for doing men justice in courts of law.

As long as there was an orderly sovereign, such as Henry II. the
unlimited power of the Crown was tolerable; under a reckless, impetuous
prince like Coeur de Lion, it was a grievance; and, in a tyrant such
as John Lackland, it became past endurance. His fines were outrageous
extortion, and here and there the entries in the accounts show the base,
wanton bribery in his court. The Bishop of Winchester paid a tun of good
wine for not reminding the King to give a girdle to the Countess of
Albemarle; Robert de Vaux gave five of his best palfreys that the King
might hold his tongue about Henry Pinel’s wife; while a third paid four
marks for permission to eat. Moreover, no man’s family was safe, even
of the highest rank: the death of the Lady of Bramber was fresh in
the memory of all; and Matilda the Fair, the daughter of Robert Lord
Fitzwalter, was seized, carried from her home, and, because she refused
to listen to the suit of the tyrant, her father was banished, his
castles destroyed, and the maiden, after enduring with constancy two
years’ imprisonment in a turret of the White Tower of London, was
poisoned with an egg.

The person of whom John stood most in awe, was his Grand Justiciary,
Geoffrey Fitzpiers, who, though of low birth, had married the Countess
of Essex, and was highly respected for his character and situation.

One day the King, with his usual imprudence, pointed him out to the
Provost of St. Omer. “Seest thou him yonder? Never did one man watch
another as he watches me, lest I should get some of his goods; but as
much pains as he takes to watch me, so much do I take to gain them.”

Fitzpiers was not out of earshot, and his comment was, “Sir Provost,
well did I hear what the King said to thee; and since he is so set on my
wealth, he will surely get it; but thou knowest; and he knows, that I
can raise such a storm as he will feel many a day after my death.”

John’s fears did not prevent him from imposing a fine of 12,000 marks
on Geoffrey, which ended his patience. He entered into an understanding
with the barons, who had just been summoned by John to attend him on his
expedition against France. They joined him, but sailed no further than
Jersey, where they declared that the forty days they were bound to serve
by feudal tenure were passed; and all, turning back, met Archbishop
Langton and the Grand Justiciary at St. Albans, where Fitzpiers
commenced his retaliation, by proclaiming, in the King’s name, the old
Saxon charter of Alfred and Edward, renewed by Henry I., as well as the
repeal of the Forest Laws.

Back came John in rage and fury, and let loose his free-companions on
the estates of the confederates. At Northampton, Stephen Langton met
him, and forbade his violence. “These measures are contrary to your
oaths,” he said. “Your vassals have a right to be judged only by their

John reviled him. “Rule you the Church,” he said; “leave me to govern
the State.”

Langton left him, but met him again at Nottingham, assuring him
the barons would come to have their cause tried, and threatening
excommunication to every one who should execute the King’s barbarous
orders. This brought John to terms, and all parties met in London, where
the Archbishop had a previous conference with the barons, to which he
brought a copy of the Charter, with great difficulty procured from one
of the monasteries. He read it to them, commented on its provisions, and
they ended by mutually engaging to conquer, or die in defence of their
rights as Englishmen. The Norman barons were glad enough so to term
themselves, and to take shelter under English laws.

But it was the Pope’s kingdom now, not that of craven John; and Innocent
sent a legate, Nicholas, Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum, to settle the
affair. John debased himself by repeating the homage and oath of fealty,
and by giving a fresh charter of submission, sealed not with wax, but
with gold, as if to make it more binding.

The injuries done to the barons by the free-companions were beyond the
King’s power of restitution, but the Pope adjudged him to pay 15,000
marks for the present, after which John set off on his disastrous
journey to Bouvines. In his absence, Fitzpiers died, and this quite
consoled him for his defeat. “It’s well,” he cried; “he is gone to shake
hands in hell with our primate Hubert! Now am I first truly a King!”

But Geoffrey’s storm was near its bursting, precipitated perhaps by
the loss of this last curb on the lawless King. Langton was seriously
displeased with the legate, who had taken all the Church patronage
into his hands, and was giving it away to Italians, foreigners,
children--nay, even promising it for the unborn. The Archbishop sent his
brother Simon to appeal to the Pope, but could get no redress. Innocent
was displeased with him for opposing the _protégé_ of the papal see; and
certainly he had no right to complain of the Roman patronage while he
held the see of Canterbury.

However, he was too much of an Englishman to see his Church or his
country trampled down; and at Christmas, 1214, there was another
assembly of the barons at Bury St. Edmund’s. The plans were arranged,
and an oath taken by each singly, kneeling before the high altar in the
church of the royal Saxon saint, that if the laws were rejected, they
would withdraw their oaths of allegiance.

They set out for Worcester to present their charter to the King, but he
got intelligence of their design, hastened to London, and put himself
under the protection of the Knights of the Temple. They followed him,
and on Twelfth Day laid the charter before him. He took a high tone, and
only insisted on their declaring by hand and seal that they would never
so act again; but finding this was not the way to treat such men,
promised, on the security of the Archbishop, the Bishop of Ely, and Earl
of Pembroke, to grant what they asked at Easter.

He used the space thus gained in taking the Cross, that he might enjoy
the immunities of a Crusader, fortifying his castles, and sending for
free-companions, while both parties wrote explanations to the Pope.
John obtained encouragement, Langton was severely reprehended; Innocent
declared all the confederacies of the barons null and void, and forbade
them for the future, under pain of excommunication.

In Easter-week the barons met at Stamford, with 2,000 knights and
their squires. Their charter was carried to the King at Oxford by the
Archbishop and the Earls of Pembroke and Warenne. They were received
with fury. “Why do not they ask my crown at once?” cried John. “Do they
think I will grant them liberties that would make me a slave?”

Then, with more moderation, he proposed to appeal to the Pope, and to
redress all grievances that had arisen in his own time or in that of his
brothers; but they still adhered to their demands, and when Pandulfo
called on the Primate to excommunicate the insurgent barons, Langton
made answer that he was better instructed in the Pope’s views, and
unless the King dismissed his foreign soldiers, he should be obliged to
excommunicate them.

John offered to refer the matter to nine umpires--namely, Innocent, four
chosen by himself, and four by the barons; but this also was rejected:
the barons would have no terms short of their Great Charter; and
electing the most injured of all, Robert Fitzwalter, as their general,
they marched against Northampton. It was garrisoned by the King’s
foreign mercenaries, who refused all attempts to corrupt them; and as
the want of machines made it impossible to take it, the barons proceeded
to Bedford after fifteen days, their spirits somewhat damped.

However, Bedford opened its gates, and tidings reached them that London
was favorably disposed. They therefore proceeded thither, and arrived
on the first Sunday in June, early in the morning, when the gates were
opened, and the burghers all at mass in the churches. They entered in
excellent order, took possession of the Tower, and thence sent forth
proclamations, terming themselves the Army of God and of Holy Church,
and calling on every one to join them, under pain of being used as
traitors and rebels.

The whole country responded; scarcely a man, Saxon or Norman, who was
not with them in spirit; and John, then at Odiham, in Hampshire, found
himself deserted by all his knights save seven. He was at first in
deadly terror; but soon rallying his spirits, he resolved to cajole the
barons, pronounced that what his lieges had done was well done, and
despatched the Earl of Pembroke to assure them of his readiness and
satisfaction in granting their desires: all that was needed was a day
and place for the meeting.

“The day, the 15th of June; the place, Runnymede,” returned his loving

The broad, smooth, green meadow of Runnymede, on the bank of the Thames,
spreading out fair and fertile beneath the heights of Windsor, became a
watchword of English rights.

The stalwart barony of England, Norman in name and rank, but with Saxon
blood infused in their veins, and strength consisting of stout Saxon
yeomen and peasantry, there arrayed themselves, with Robert Fitzwalter
for their spokesman and leader; and thither, on the other hand, came,
from Windsor Castle, King John, accompanied by Cardinal Pandulfo,
Amaury, Grand Master of the Temple, Langton, and seven other bishops,
and Pembroke with twelve nobles, but scarcely one of these, except the
two first, whose heart was not with the barons on the other side.

The charter was spread forth--the Great Charter, which, in the first
place, asserted the liberty of the Church of England, and then of its
people. It forbade the King to exact arbitrary sums from his subjects
without the consent of a council of the great crown vassals; it required
that no man should be made an officer of justice without knowledge of
the law; and forced from the King the promise not to sell, refuse, or
defer right or justice to any man; neither to seize the person or goods
of any free man without the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law
of the land. The same privileges were extended to the cities, but the
serfs or villeins had no part in them; the nobility of England had not
yet learnt to consider them worthy of regard. Much, however, was done by
the recognition of the law, and Magna Charta has been the foundation of
all subsequent legislation in England. A lesser charter was added on the
oppressive Forest Laws, which it in some degree mitigated by lessening
the number of royal forests, and appointing nobles in each county to
keep in check the violence of the King’s keepers.

The original Charter itself, creased with age and injured by fire, but
with John’s great seal still appended to it, remains extant in the
British Museum, a copy beside it, bearing in beautiful old writing in
Latin the clear, sharp, lawyer-like terms with which the barons, who,
rough and turbulent as they were, must have had among them men of great
legal ability, sought to bind their tyrant to respect their lives and

Four-and-twenty of their number, and with them the Mayor of London, were
appointed to enforce the observance of the Charter, which was sent out
to the sheriffs in all the counties to be proclaimed by them with sounds
of trumpet at the market-crosses and in the churches; while twelve men,
learned in the law, were to be chosen to inquire into and re dress all
grievances since the accession. Moreover, every Poitevin, Brabançon,
and other free-companion in the King’s service was to be immediately
dismissed, and the barons were to hold the city of London, and Langton
the Tower, for the next two months.

The Charter was thus sealed, June 15th, 1215; and John, as long as he
was in the presence of the barons, put a restraint on himself, and acted
as if it was granted, as it professed to be, of his own free will and
pleasure, speaking courteously to all who approached, and treating the
matter in hand with his usual gay levity, signing the Charter with so
little heed to its contents that the wiser heads must have gathered that
he had no intention of being bound by them. However, they had achieved
a great victory, and, after parting with him, amused themselves by
arranging for a tournament to be held at Stamford; while John, when
within the walls of Windsor, gave vent to his rage, threw himself on the
ground, rolled about gnawing sticks and straws, uttering maledictions
upon the barons, and denouncing vengeance against the nation that had
made him an underling to twenty-five kings.

On recovering, he ordered his horse, and secretly withdrew to the Isle
of Wight, where he saw no one but the piratical fishermen of the place,
whose manners he imitated, and even, it is said, joined in some of their
lawless expeditions. At the same time he despatched letters to the
Brabançons and Gascons, inviting them to the conquest of England, and
promising them the castles and manors of his present subjects.

The barons gained some tidings of his proceedings, and were on their
guard. Robert Fitzwalter wrote letters appointing the tournament to be
held, not at Stamford, but on Hounslow Heath, summoning the knights
to it with their arms and horses, and promising, as the prize of the
tournay, a she-bear, which the young lady of a castle had sent them.

To what brave knight the she-bear was awarded, history says not; for in
the midst came the tidings that the Pope had been greatly enraged, had
annulled the Charter as prejudicial to the power of the Church, and had
commanded the Archbishop of Canterbury to dissolve all leagues among the
vassals under pain of excommunication. The barons, having the Archbishop
on their side, thought little of the thunders of the Pope; but John was
emboldened to come forth, offer a conference at Oxford, which he did not
attend, and then go to Dover to receive the free-companions, who flocked
from all quarters.

The barons sent Stephen Langton to Rome to plead their cause, and found
themselves obliged to take up arms. William de Albini, one of the
twenty-five sureties, was sent to possess himself of the Castle of
Rochester; but before he could bring in sufficient stores, he was
invested by John, with Savary de Mauléon, called the Bloody, and a
band of free-companions, whose _noms de guerre_ were equally
truculent--namely, the Merciless, the Murderer, the Iron-hearted. One of
the archers within the walls bent his bow at the King’s breast, and said
to the castellane, “Shall I deliver you from yonder mortal foe?” “No;
hold thy hand,” said Albini; “strike not the evil beast; shouldst thou
fail, thy doom would be certain.” “Then, betide what God will, I hold my
hand!” said the archer.

For two months these brave men held out, but by St. Andrew’s Day they
had eaten all their horses, and the walls were battered down, so that
Albini was forced to surrender. John was for hanging the whole garrison,
but Mauléon said, “Sir, the war is not over; the chances are beyond
reckoning. If we begin by hanging your barons, your barons may end by
hanging us.” So Albini and the nobles were spared, but the archers and
men-at-arms were hung in halters to every tree in the forest.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop had failed at Rome, and partly by his own
fault, for he had tried to make his brother Simon, a man generally
detested, Archbishop of York, and thus had given Innocent good reason
for again interfering. He was placed under sentence of suspension; the
barons, beginning with Fitzwalter, were excommunicated as rebels against
a Church vassal and Crusader, and termed as wicked as Saracens; and the
city of London was laid under an interdict.

The Londoners boldly declared that the Pope had no power to meddle in
their case, kept their churches open, and celebrated their Christmas as
usual; but beyond their walls it was less easy to be secure.

John now had two great armies of foreigners, and had been joined by
several of the barons’ party; and he marched with one of them for the
North, where young King Alexander of Scotland had laid siege to Norham,
and had received the homage of the neighboring nobility.

As John advanced, the barons burnt their houses and corn before him,
while he and his marauders ruined all they approached; he every morning,
with his own hands, set fire to his night’s lodgings, and in eight days
five principal towns were consumed, and the course of his army was like
the bed of a torrent.

Vowing he would unkennel the young fox, as he called Alexander, on
account of his red hair, John sent his troops into Scotland, where they
laid the whole country waste up to Edinburgh, and then, returning,
reduced the castles and ravaged the lands of the barons in Yorkshire,
and the same dreadful atrocities were perpetrated by his other army in
the south of England, till the country people called the free-companions
by no other name than Satan’s Guards, and the Devil’s Servants.

The barons had no stronghold left them but London, and saw their rank,
their families, and estates, at the mercy of the remorseless tyrant and
his savage banditti, backed by the support of their spiritual superiors.
In this condition they deemed all ties between them and their sovereign
dissolved, and, as their last resource, resolved to offer the crown
to Louis, the son of Philippe Auguste, and the husband of Blanche of
Castile, the marriage made to separate France from the cause of Arthur.
It was a step which even their extremity could not justify, passing
over, as it did, the rights of the captive Pearl of Brittany, of John’s
own innocent children, and of those of his eldest sister. But men have
seldom been harder pressed than were these barons; and they were further
tempted by the hope that all the mercenaries who were French subjects
might be detached from the enemy by seeing their own prince’s standard
unfurled against him.

Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, and Robert Fitzwalter, were
deputed to carry letters to Prince Louis, who was then at war with the
Albigenses of Languedoc. The wary old King Philippe dissembled his
joy at the promised triumph over the hated Plantagenet, and at first
declared that he could not trust his son’s person in England, unless
twenty-four nobles were first given up to him as hostages; but he
permitted Louis to send a favorable reply to England, and the barons
were so delighted at its reception, accompanied by a few French
volunteers, that they held another tournament in its honor, but this was
closed by the death of Geoffrey Mandeville, who was accidentally killed
by the lance of a Frenchman.

Innocent was much incensed at the enterprise of the French prince,
forgetting that he had already shown him the way to England. He sent his
legate, Gualo, with letters to forbid Philippe’s interference with a
fief of the Holy See, and these were laid before the court in full
council. Philippe, who always tried to have the law apparently on his
side, began by saying he was the devoted subject of the Pope, and it was
by no counsel or advice of his that his son disobeyed the court of Rome;
but as he declared that he had some rights to the English crown, it was
fair to hear him.

A knight then arose, and declared that John had been attainted and
condemned by Philippe’s own court on account of Arthur’s murder; that he
had since given his crown away without the consent of his barons; and as
no sovereign had any such right, the throne was vacant by his own act,
and his barons had full power to elect, and Louis to accept.

The legate declared John to be a Crusader, and therefore under the
Church’s peace for four years. He was answered, that John had himself
violated that peace; and then Louis, rising, and turning to his father,
said, “Sir, if I am your liegeman for the lands you have given me here,
you have no right to England, which is offered to me: you can decree
nothing on that head. I appeal to the judgment of my peers, whether I
ought to follow your commands or my rights. I beg you not to hinder my
designs, for my cause is just, and I will fight to the death for my
wife’s inheritance.” Then, red with anger, Louis the Lion left the
assembly, while the legate asked the King for a safe-conduct to England;
and Philippe replied, that on the French territory he was safe enough;
but if, on the coast, he fell into the hands of _King_ Louis’s men, he
could not be responsible for his safety.

Gualo, however, came safely to England, and joined John at Dover, where
he promised him the succor of the Church; and Innocent, as an earnest,
excommunicated Louis, and preached to his cardinals on Ezekiel xxi. 28:
“The sword, the sword is drawn.” But this was one of the last public
acts of his life; he died at Perugia on the 8th of July, 1216, without
having been able to send any support to his obedient vassal.

Meanwhile, Louis collected a great force, and embarked with it in 680
vessels, under the command of Eustace the Monk, a recreant who had
become a pirate, and was reckoned the best mariner of his time. John
fled from Dover, leaving it to the trusty and loyal Hubert de Burgh,
while Louis disembarked at Sandwich, and was received by the barons, who
were charmed with his chivalrous and affable demeanor. They conducted
him to London, where, in St. Paul’s, he received their homage, and made
oath to govern them by good laws, after which he appointed Simon Langton
his chancellor. Nearly the whole country gave in their adhesion,
Alexander of Scotland paid him homage, the North rose in his favor, and
the chief strongholds that remained to John were Windsor Castle; Corfe,
where, under the care of his wicked follower, Pierre de Maulae, were his
queen and little children; and Dover, gallantly defended by Hubert de

Nearly four months were spent by Louis in a vain attempt to take this
place; his supplies were cut off by the sailors of the Cinque Ports, who
were in John’s interest; and though Louis’s father sent him a battering
machine, called Malvoisine, or “Bad Neighbor,” he could make no
impression on the walls. Meantime, the estates of the barons were
devastated by John and his free-companions; and if ever the French
prince retook any of the castles, he retained them in his own hands, or
gave them to his French followers, instead of restoring them to their
owners. They began to suspect that they were in evil case, more
especially when the Vicomte de Melun, being suddenly seized by a mortal
sickness, sent for all the nobles then in London, and thus spoke: “I
grieve for your fate. I, with the prince and fifteen others, have sworn
an oath, that, when the realm is his, ye shall all be beggared, or
exterminated as traitors whom he can never trust. Look to yourselves!”

Suspicion thus excited, William Longsword and several other barons
returned to their allegiance, and forty more offered to do the same on
the promise of pardon. Louis was forced to raise the siege of Dover, and
John’s prospects improved; he took Lincoln, and marched to Lynn, whence
he wont to Wisbech, intending to proceed by the Wash from Cross-keys to
Foss-dyke, across the sands--a safe passage at low water, but covered
suddenly by the tide, which there forms a considerable eddy on meeting
the current of the Welland.

His troops were nearly all on the other side, when the tide began to
rush in. They gained the higher ground in safety; but the long train of
wagons, carrying his crown, his treasure, his stores of provision, were
suddenly engulfed, and the whole was lost. Some years since, one of the
gold circlets worn over the helmet was found by a laborer in the sand,
but, in ignorance of its value, he sold it to a Jew, and it has thus
been lost to the antiquary.

King John went into one of his paroxysms of despair at the ruin he
beheld, and, feverish with passion, arrived at the Cistercian convent
of Swineshead, where he seems to have tried to forget his disaster in
a carouse upon peaches and new ale, and in the morning found himself
extremely ill; but fancying the monks had poisoned him, he insisted on
being carried in a litter to Sleaford, whence the next day he proceeded
to Newark, where it became evident that death was at hand. A confessor
was sent for, and he bequeathed his kingdom to his son Henry. As far as
it appears from the records of his deathbed, no compunction visited him;
probably, he thought himself secure as a favored vassal of the Holy
See. When asked where he would be buried, he replied that he committed
himself to God and to the body of St. Wulstan (who had been canonized by
Innocent III. in 1203). He dictated a letter to the new Pope, Honorius
III., and died October 19, 1216, in the forty-ninth year of his age, the
last and worst of the four rebellious sons of Henry II., all cut off in
the prime of life.

His death made a great difference in the aspect of affairs. His innocent
sons had forfeited no claim to the affection of the English, and their
weakness was their most powerful claim.

The Earl of Pembroke at once marched to Corfe Castle, and brought the
two boys, nine and seven years old, to Gloucester, where young Henry’s
melancholy coronation took place. In lieu of his father’s lost and
dishonored crown, a golden bracelet of his mother’s was placed upon his
head by the papal legate, instead of his own primate, and he bent his
knee in homage to the see of Rome. The few vassals who attended him held
their coronation banquet, and afterward bound a white fillet around
their heads, in token of their vow of fidelity to their little, helpless
king. Magna Charta was revised a few days after at Bristol; Henry was
made to swear to agree to it, and the Earl of Pembroke appointed as his

Meantime, Louis had received the news of his rival’s death while again
besieging Dover, the capture of which was most important to him, as
securing his communications with his own country. He sent tidings of it
to the garrison by two English barons, one of them Hubert’s own brother,
Thomas de Burgh. On their approach the sentinels sounded their horns,
and, without opening the gates, the governor came to speak to them, with
five archers, their crossbows bent. They told him of the King’s decease,
and reminded him of the oath Louis had made to hang him and all his
garrison if the town were taken by assault instead of surrender. His
brother said he was ruining himself and all his family, and the other
knight offered him, in the prince’s name, the counties of Norfolk and
Suffolk. But Hubert would hear no more. “Traitors that you are,” he
cried, “if King John is dead, he leaves children! Say no more; if you
open your lips again, I will have you shot with a hundred arrows, not
sparing even my brother.”

Louis was obliged to draw off his forces, returned to London, and took
Hertford; Robert Fitzwalter claimed the keeping of the castle as a
family right, but Louis forgot the necessity of conciliating the barons,
and replied that he could not trust a man who had betrayed his King.
This, of course, led to further desertions on the part of the English,
and the truce which prevailed through Lent added greater numbers to the
young King’s party than Blanche of Castile was able to collect in France
for her lord.

After Easter the Earl of Pembroke besieged Mountsorrel, in
Leicestershire. The Count de Perche came to its relief, and, after
forcing him to retreat, attacked Lincoln Castle, which was bravely held
by the late castellane’s widow, Nicolette de Camville. She contrived to
send the Earl tidings of her distress, and he set out from Newark
with four hundred knights and their squires, two hundred and fifty
crossbowmen and other infantry, all wearing white crosses sewn on their
breasts, and sent forth by the legate as to a holy war. The crossbowmen,
under one of John’s free-companions, were a mile in advance, and entered
the castle by a postern, while the French, taking the baggage for a
second army, retreated into the town; but there the garrison made a
sally, and a battle was fought in the streets, which ended in the total
discomfiture of the French. The Count de Perche was offered his life,
but swearing that he would yield to no English traitor, he was instantly
slain, and the Fair of Lincoln, as it was called, completely broke the
strength of Louis.

He wrote word to his wife and father of his perilous situation, shut
up within the walls of London, and the whole country in possession of
Henry, and entreated them to send him reinforcements. Fear of the Pope
prevented Philippe from putting himself forward, but he connived at
Blanche’s exertions, and she succeeded in collecting three hundred
knights, who were to embark in eighty large ships, under the command of
Eustace the Monk.

Hubert de Burgh, landsman as he was, resolved to oppose them to the
utmost, and with much difficulty collected a fleet of forty ships of all
sizes. Several of the knights, believing his attempt hopeless, declared
that they knew nothing of sea fights, and refused to share his peril; and
he himself was so persuaded that he was sacrificing himself, that he
received the last rites of the Church as a dying man, and left orders
that, in case of his being made prisoner, Dover should on no account be
surrendered, even as the price of his life.

Midway in the strait he met the French fleet; his archers showered
their arrows and quarrels, and, being on the windward, threw clouds of
quicklime, which blinded the eyes of the enemy; then, bearing down on
them, grappled the ships with iron hooks, and boarded them so gallantly,
that the French, little accustomed to this mode of warfare, soon gave
over resistance: many of the ships were sunk, and the rest completely
dispersed; the pirate monk Eustace was taken, and, being considered as a
traitor and apostate, was put to death, and his head carried on a pole
to Dover in triumph.

This defeat completely broke the hopes of Louis, and he sent to demand a
safe-conduct for messengers to Henry, or rather to the Earl of Pembroke,
offered to leave England, and concluded a peace, restoring the
allegiance of the barons, and even engaging to give up Normandy and
Anjou on his accession to the crown of France. He then returned to his
own country, where his father received him affectionately, blaming him,
however, for the want of skill and judgment with which he had conducted
his affairs. His departure took place in the end of 1217, and thus
closed the wars which established the Great Charter as the foundation of
English law.


  _King of England_.
   1216. Henry III.

  _Kings of Scotland_.
   1214. Alexander II.
   1249. Alexander III.
  _Kings of France_.
   1180. Philip III.
   1223. Louis VIII.
   1226. Louis IX.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1209. Friedrich II.
   1250. Conrad IV.

   1198. Innocent III.
   1216. Honorius III.
   1227. Gregory IX.
   1241. Celestin. IV.
   1242. Innocent IV.

The Fief of Rome! For many years of the reign of Henry III. England
could hardly be regarded in any other light.

Henry’s life was one long minority; the guardians of his childhood were
replaced by the favorites of his manhood, and he had neither power nor
will to defend his subjects from the bondage imposed on them by his
father’s homage to Innocent III.

The legates, Gualo and Pandulfo, undertook the protection of the
desolate child, and nominated to the government the excellent William,
Earl of Pembroke, Earl Marshal; but on his death, shortly after, the
administration was divided between the justiciaries, Hubert de Burgh,
and John’s favorite, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. The latter
was a violent, ambitious, and intriguing prelate, and it was well for
England and the King when he engaged in a Crusade, and left the field to
the loyal Hubert.

Under the care of this good knight Henry grew up devoid of the vices of
his father, with more of the Southern troubadour than of the Northern
warrior in his composition, gentle in temper, devout of spirit, tender
of heart, well-read in history and romance, skilled in music and poetry,
and of exquisite taste in sculpture, painting, and architecture, Hubert
must have watched his orphan charge with earnest hope and solicitude.

Gradually, however, there was a sense of disappointment; years went
by, and Henry of Winchester was a full-grown man, tall and well
proportioned, his only blemish a droop of the left eyelid; but no
warlike, no royal spirit seemed to stir within him; he thought not of
affairs; he left all in the hands of his justiciaries, and, so long as
means were given him of indulging his love of splendor, he recked not of
the extortions by which the Italian clergy ruined his country, and had
no idea of taking on him the cares and duties of royalty.

His young Queen encouraged all his natural failings. She was one of the
four daughters of Beranger, last Count of Provence, highly accomplished
young heiresses. One of them already was wedded to Louis IX., the son
of Louis the Lion, who, by the death of his father and grandfather, had
been placed on the throne of France nearly at the same age and time
as Henry in England. Marguerite, whose device, the daisy, Louis wore
entwined with his own lily, was a meek, peaceful lady, submitting
quietly to the dominion exercised over her by Queen Blanche, her
mother-in-law. Eleanor, the next sister, was the beauty and genius
of the family; she was called La Belle, and, at fourteen, composed a
romance in rhyme on the adventures of one Blandin, Prince of Cornwall,
which was presented to King Henry’s brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall,
when, on returning from pilgrimage, he passed through Provence.

Richard was struck with her beauty, and spoke of it to his brother, who,
against the wishes of De Burgh, offered her his hand. Richard soon after
married Sancha, another of the sisters, and Beatrix, the fourth, was the
wife of Charles, Count of Anjou, brother of Louis IX. The two queens
seem to have been proud of their dignity, for they used to make their
countess sisters sit on low stools, while they sat on high chairs.
Sancha and Beatrix pined to see their husbands kings, and in time had
their wish. Four uncles followed Queen Eleanor, young brothers of her
mother, a princess of Savoy. They were gay and courtly youths, and the
King instantly attached himself to them, and lavished gifts and honors
upon them, among others, the palace in London still called the Savoy.

Another tribe of his own relations soon followed. His mother’s first
love, Hugh de Lusignan, Count de la Marche, had been released from
durance at Corfe Castle in 1206, and had offered his aid to John, on
condition of the infant Joan, the child of his faithless Isabelle, being
at once betrothed to him and placed in his own hands. Lodging her in
one of his castles in Poitou, he went on a crusade, and, on his return,
found her but seven years old, but her mother a widow, beautiful as
ever, and still attached to him. They were at once married, and Joan
was sent home to England, where she became the wife of Alexander II. of
Scotland, and his sister, the Princess Margaret, was at the same time
wedded to Hubert de Burgh.

The Lusignans were an old family, who had given a King to Jerusalem
and a dynasty to Cyprus; but they were a wild race, and a fairy legend
accounted for their family character.

Raymond de Lusignan, a remote ancestor, met, while wandering in a
forest, a maiden of more than mortal beauty, named Melusine, and,
falling at once in love, obtained her hand, on condition that he should
never ask to behold her on a Saturday. Their marriage was happy,
excepting that all their children had some deformity; but at last, in a
fit of curiosity, Raymond hid himself, in order to penetrate into
his lady’s secret, and, to his dismay, perceived that from the waist
downward she was transformed into a blue-and-white serpent, an
enchantment she underwent every Saturday. For years, however, he never
divulged that he had seen her in this condition; but at length, when his
eldest son, Geoffrey (who had a tusk like a wild boar), had murdered his
brother, he forgot himself in a transport of grief, and called her an
odious serpent, who had contaminated his race. Melusine fainted at the
words, lamented bitterly, and vanished, never appearing again except as
a phantom, which flits round the Castle of Lusignan whenever any of her
descendants are about to die.

In this haunted castle the Queen contrived to gain a reputation for
sorcery and poisoning, and the connection brought no good on her royal
son, for she involved him in a war with France on behalf of her husband.
He met with no success, and his French domains were at the mercy of
Louis IX.; but that excellent prince would not pursue his advantage.
“Our children are first cousins,” he said; “we will leave no seeds of
discord between them.” He even took into consideration the justice of
restoring Normandy and Anjou, but concluded that they had been justly
forfeited by King John.

Four young Lusignans, or, as they were generally called, De Valence,
were sent by Isabelle to seek their fortune at the court of their
half-brother, who bestowed on them all the wealth and honors at his
disposal; and gave much offence to the English, who beheld eight needy
foreigners preying, as they said, upon the revenues.

Feasts and frolics, songs, dancing, and pageantry, were the order of the
day; romances were dedicated to the King, histories of strange feats of
chivalry recited, the curious old lays of Bretagne were translated and
presented to him by the antiquarian dame, Marie. Italian, Provençal,
Gascon, Latin, French, and English, were spoken at the court, which the
English barons termed a Babel, and minstrels of all descriptions stood
in high favor. There was Richard, the King’s harper, who had forty
shillings a year and a tun of wine; there was Henry of Avranches, the
“archipoeta,” who wrote a song on the rusticity of the Cornishmen,
to which a valiant Cornishman, Michael Blampayne, replied in a Latin
satire, politely describing the arch-poet as having “the legs of a
sparrow, the mouth of a hare, the nose of a dog, the teeth of a mule,
the brow of a calf, the head of a bull, the color of a Moor!” There was
poor Ribault the troubadour, whose sudden madness had nearly been fatal
to Henry. Imagining himself the rightful King, he rushed at midnight
into a chamber he supposed to be the King’s, and was tearing the bed to
pieces with his sword, when Margaret Bisset, one of the Queen’s ladies,
who was sitting up reading a book of devotions, heard the noise; roused
the guard, and he was secured. There, too, was the half-witted jester,
who, we are sorry to say, was a chaplain, with whom the King and his
brother Aymer were seen playing like boys, pelting each other with
apples and sods of turf.

The King was fond of ornamenting his palaces with curious tapestry
and jewelry, worthy of the wedding-gift his wife had received from her
sister, Queen Marguerite, namely, a silver ewer for perfumes, in the
shape of a peacock, the tail set with precious stones. He adorned the
walls with paintings; there were Scripture subjects in his palace at
Westminster; and at Winchester, his birthplace, were pictures of
the Saxon kings, a map of the world, and King Arthur’s round table,
inscribed with the names of the knights, and Arthur’s full-length figure
in his own place. It has survived all changes; it was admired by a
Spanish attendant at the marriage of Philip II. and Queen Mary; it was
riddled by the balls of the Roundheads, and now, duly refreshed with
paint, hangs in its old place, over the Judge’s head in the County Hall.

To do Henry justice, he spent as freely on others as on himself; he
clothed and fed destitute children; and when in his pride, at the goodly
height of his five-year-old boy, he caused him and his little sisters to
be weighed, the counterpoise was coined silver, which was scattered in
largesse among his lieges.

Henry’s special devotion was to a Saxon saint, the mild Confessor, to
whom his own character had much likeness, and whose name he bestowed on
his eldest child, while he presented a shrine of pure gold to
contain his relics, and devoted £2,000 a year to complete the little
West-Minster of St. Peter’s, the foundation and last work of St.
Edward. He rendered it a perfect specimen of that most elegant of all
styles, the early-pointed, and fit indeed for the coronation church and
burial-place of English kings.

There was soon an end of Henry’s treasure, however; and no wonder, when,
besides his own improvidence, the Pope was sucking out the revenues
of the country. _Talliages_, of one tenth or one-twentieth of their
property, were demanded of the clergy; the tax of a penny, usually
called Peter-pence, was paid to him by every family on St. Peter’s Day,
and generally collected by the two orders of begging friars, who rode
about on this errand in boots and spurs, and owning the rule of no one
but the Pope, were great hindrances to the bishops and parish clergy.
Still worse was the power the Pope assumed to himself of seizing on
Church patronage, and thrusting in Italian clergy, often children or
incapable persons, and perfectly ignorant of the language. At one time
7,000 marks a year were in possession of these foreigners, one of whom
held seven hundred places of preferment at once!

Innocent IV., who was chiefly guilty of these proceedings, was engaged
in a long struggle with Frederick II. of Germany, respecting the kingdom
of the two Sicilies, and the Guelf and Ghibelline struggle forever
raging in Italy, and it was this apparently remote quarrel which was in
reality the cause of the oppression and simony that so cruelly affected

The English bitterly hated the foreign clergy, and quarrels were forever
breaking out. When Otho, the legate, was passing through Oxford, and
lodging at Osney Abbey, a terrible fray occurred. The students, a
strange, wild set, came to pay him their respects; but his porter, being
afraid of them, kept them out, and an Irish priest, pressing forward to
beg for food, had some scalding water thrown in his face by the clerk of
the kitchen, the brother of the legate, who, used to Italian treachery,
entrusted to no one the care of his food. A fiery Welsh scholar shot
the legate’s brother dead with an arrow, and a great riot ensued. Otho
locked, himself up in the church-tower till night, then fled, through
floods of rain, hunted by the students, all yelling abuse, and getting
before him to the fords, so that the poor man had to swim the river five
times, and came half dead to the King at Abingdon. Next morning the
scene was changed. Earl Warenne and his bowmen came down upon Oxford,
forty of the rioters were carried off in carts like felons, interdicts
and excommunications fell on the university, and only when doctors,
scholars, and all came barefoot to ask the legate’s pardon, was the
anger of the Pope appeased.

Moreover, there was a widespread confederation among the gentry
against these Italians, and rioters arose and plundered their barns,
distributing the corn to the poor.

Walter do Cantilupe, the young Norman Bishop of Worcester, was thought
to be among those in the secret, and the outrages grew more serious when
an Italian canon of St. Paul’s was seized and impressed by five men in
masks. Des Roches, the Bishop of Winchester, who had returned home,
and was very jealous of Hubert de Burgh, thought this a fit time for
overthrowing him, and publicly accused him of being in the plot. A young
knight, Sir Robert Twenge, came forward and confessed that he had been
the leader of the rioters under the name of Will Wither, and that the
good old justiciary had nothing to do with them. He was sent to do
penance at Rome, and Hubert’s enemies continued their machinations.

Henry and his Queen were tired of the sage counsels of the brave knight,
and open to all Des Roches’ insinuations, forgetting the wise though
punning warning of the wonderful Franciscan friar, Roger Bacon, who told
Henry there was nothing so dangerous in a voyage as “_les Pierres et les
Roches_.” At Christmas, the Bishop invited them to Winchester, and there
his sumptuous banquets and splendid amusements won the King’s frivolous
heart, and obtained his consent to dismiss Hubert from all his offices,
even from the government of Dover, which he had saved. Soon after
orders were sent forth for his arrest, that he might be tried for the
disturbances against the Italians, and likewise for having seduced the
King’s affections by sorcery and witchcraft.

Hubert placed his wealth in the care of the Templars, and took sanctuary
in the church of Merton, in Surrey; but the Mayor of London was ordered
to dislodge him, and the whole rabble of the city were setting forth,
when the Archbishop and Earl of Chester represented the scandal to the
King, and obtained letters of protection for him until the time for his
trial, January, 1233. Trusting to these letters, he set out to visit his
wife at Bury, but at Brentwood was waylaid by a set of ruffians called
the Black Band, and sent by the Bishop of Winchester. He retreated into
the church, but they dragged him from the very steps of the altar, and
called a blacksmith to chain his feet together.

“No, indeed,” said the brave peasant, “never will I forge fetters for
the deliverer of my country.”

However, he was led into London with his feet chained under his horse.
There the Bishop of London, threatening excommunication for the
sacrilege, forced his enemies to return him to Brentwood church, which,
however, they closely blockaded till hunger forced him to deliver
himself up to them.

He bought his life by giving up his treasures, and was imprisoned at
Devizes. Shortly this castle was given to Des Roches; and De Burgh, who
knew by experience how the change of castellane often brought death to
the captive, sought to escape. He gained over two of his guards, who
carried him to the parish church, for he was too heavily ironed to
walk, and there laid him down before the altar. They could take him no
further, and the warden of the castle cruelly beat him, and brought
him back; but, as before, the Bishop maintained the privileges of the
sanctuary, and forced the persecutors to restore him, and though he was
again hemmed in there by the sheriff, before he was starved out a party
of his friends came to his rescue, and he was carried off to the Welsh
hills, there remaining till recalled by the influence of the Archbishop.
He was restored to his honors, and though he once again had to suffer
from Henry’s fickleness and the rapacity of his court, his old age was
peaceful and honored, as befitted his unsullied fame.

This Archbishop was Edmund Rich, who had been elected in 1232, after two
short-lived primates had succeeded Langton. He was of a wealthy family at
Abingdon, and had been brought up entirely by an excellent mother, his
father having retired into a monastery. His whole childhood had been a
preparation for holy orders, and when he went to study at Oxford, he
led a life of the strictest self-denial, inflicting on himself all the
rigorous discipline which he hoped would conduce to a saintly life. When
he had become a teacher in his turn, such was his contempt for money,
that, when his pupils paid him, he would sprinkle it with dust, and say,
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and would let it lie in the window,
without heeding whether any was stolen. When, shortly after, made
treasurer of Salisbury, he kept an empty dish by his side at meals, and
put into it what he denied himself, sending it afterward by his almoner
to the sick poor. He was a constant reader of the Scriptures day and
night, always kissing the holy volume before commencing, and thus he
derived the judgment and firmness which enabled him to battle with the
evils of his day.

Gifts were especially held in scorn and contempt by him. He was wont
to say, that between _prendre_ and _pendre_ there was but one letter’s
difference; and in a court so full of corrupt and grasping clergy, this
gave him untold power.

Peter des Roches was the head of these, representing King John’s former
policy, and uniting himself with the young Gascon relations of the King,
who were wont to say, “What are English laws to us?”

The family of Pembroke, Earls Marshal of England, were especially
obnoxious to this party, as resolute supporters of Magna Charta, and of
much power and influence. William, the eldest son of the late Protector,
was married to Eleanor, the King’s sister. He died early, and this party
tried to deprive his brother Richard of his inheritance; then, when this
did not succeed, Des Roches wrote letters in the King’s name to some of
the Norman-Irish nobles, offering them all his lands in that island,
provided they would murder him, ratifying these promises with the great

The assassins stirred up the Irish to attack Pembroke’s castles, so as
to bring him to Ireland; they then pretended to join with him in putting
down the rebellion, and, in the midst, waylaid him, and attacked him
while riding with a few attendants. Some of these he ordered at once to
convey his young brother to a place of safety, and gallantly defended
himself, but his horse was killed, and he was stabbed in the back; his
servants, returning, carried him home to his castle, but there the
letter purporting to be from the King was shown him, and his grief was
so great that he would not permit his wounds to be dressed, and died in
a few hours.

Archbishop Edmund procured letters exposing this black treachery, and
read them before the whole court. Henry and all present burst into
tears, and the poor careless King confessed with bitter grief that he
had often allowed Des Roches to attach his seal to letters without
knowing their contents, and that this must have been one of them. Des
Roches was dismissed, and sent to his own diocese, where he soon after
died at his castle of Farnham. He was the founder of many convents,
several in Palestine, and others in his own diocese, among which was
Netley, or Letley (_Laeto Loco_), near Southampton, a beautiful specimen
of the pointed style.

Edmund could not prevent the King from intruding on the see of
Winchester the giddy young Aymar de Valence, already Bishop-designate of
Durham. “If my brother is too young, I will hold the see myself,” said
the King.

Every attempt Edmund made to repress the grievous evils that prevailed
was frustrated by the authority of Rome.

The imperial family of Hohenstaufen were held in the utmost hatred by
the Popes; and Frederick II., being likewise King of Naples and Sicily,
was an object of great dread and defiance. Fierce passions on either
side were raging, and Innocent IV. regarded his spiritual powers rather
as weapons to be used against his foe the Emperor, than as given him for
the salvation of men’s souls.

As a warrior, he needed money: it was raised by exactions on the clergy,
going sometimes as far as demanding half their year’s income; as head
of a party, he needed rewards for his friends, and bestowed benefices
without regard to the age, the character, or the fitness of the nominee;
moreover, he trusted to the religious orders, especially those called
Mendicant, for spreading his influence, and he did not dare to restrain
or reform their disorders.

Archbishop Edmund, with his two friends, Robert Grosteste, Bishop of
Lincoln, and Richard Wych, Chancellor of Canterbury, did their best.
Robert’s history is striking. He was a nameless peasant of Suffolk, of
the meanest parentage, and only called Grosteste from the size of his
head, needing plenty of stowage (says Fuller) for his store of brains.
How he obtained education is not known, but he worked upward until he
became a noted teacher at Oxford, and afterward at Paris, where he
lectured on all the chief authors then known in Greek and Latin. He
wrote two hundred books, many on sacred subjects, and several poems
in Latin and French; for he was a great lover of minstrelsy, and his
contemporary translator tells us that

  “Next his chamber, besyde hys study
  Hys harper’s chamber was thereby.”

This poet and scholar was a most active, thorough-going, practical man,
and, when chosen as Bishop of Lincoln, showed his gratitude for the
benefits of his education by maintaining a number of poor students
at the University. He set himself earnestly to reform abuses in his
diocese, forcing the monasteries which held the tithes of parishes to
provide properly for their spiritual care, and making a strict inquiry
into the condition of the religious houses. They, however, appealed to
Rome; and Innocent, who had at first sanctioned his proceedings, was
afraid of losing their support, and ordered Grosteste to desist. The
resolute Bishop set off to Rome, and laid the Pope’s own letters before
his face.

“Well,” said Innocent, “be content; you have delivered your own soul. If
I choose to show grace to these persons, what is that to you?”

Robert was anything but content, but he went home, and manfully
struggled with the evils that were rife, sometimes prevailing, sometimes
disappointed, always honest and steadfast. The more gentle Archbishop
gave up the contest, worn out by the vain attempt to preserve purity
and order between the fickle King, the oppressive Pope, the turbulent
nobles, and the avaricious clergy. Orders to him, to Robert, and to the
Bishop of Salisbury, to appoint no one to a benefice till three hundred
Italians were provided for, seemed finally to overpower him; he, with
Richard Wych, secretly left London, and arrived at Pontigny, where,
three years after, he died, in 1142, and has been revered as a saint.

Canterbury remained vacant for several years, the revenues being
absorbed by the King, and the refractory chapter tailing upon them
to quarrel with Grosteste, and going so for as to excommunicate him;
whereupon the sturdy Bishop trod the letter under foot, saying, “Such
curses are the only prayers I ask of such as you.”

After three years the King appointed to Canterbury the Queen’s uncle,
Boniface of Savoy, a man of no clerical habits; but the Queen wrote a
persuasive letter, by which she obtained the consent of Innocent.

So many monstrous demands had been made by the Pope, that, in 1245,
the nobles sent orders to the wardens of the seaports to seize every
despatch coming from Rome, and they soon made prize of a great number of
orders to intrude Italians into Church patronage. Martin, the legate,
complained to the King, who ordered the letters to be produced, but the
barons took the opportunity of laying before the King a statement of the
grievances of the Church of England, 60,000 marks a year being in the
hands of foreigners, while the whole of the royal revenue was but
20,000. Henry could only make helpless lamentations, and, under pretext
of a tournament, the Barons met at Dunstable, and sent a knight to
expostulate with the legate. This envoy threatened him, that if he
remained three days longer in England, his life would not be safe--an
intimation which drove him speedily from the country.

The barons, hearing that the Pope was holding a council at Lyons, sent
deputies thither, with a letter drawn up by the Bishop of Lincoln, so
powerfully enforced by William de Powerie, their spokesman, that the
exposure of the enormities permitted in England called up a deep blush
on the face of Innocent, and he allowed that he had been wrong in
thrusting in these incompetent Italians. There was one good effected
at this council, namely, the appointment of Richard Wych to the see of

Richard was the son of a Worcestershire yeoman, and was early, with his
elder brother, left an orphan. He was a studious, holy, clerkly boy,
looked on as fit for the cloister: but when his brother came of age,
it was found that the guardians had so wasted their goods, that their
inheritance lay desolate. The brother was in despair, but young Richard
comforted him, bade him trust in God, and himself laying aside the
studies he delighted in, look up the spade and axe, and worked
unceasingly till the affairs of the homestead were in a flourishing
state. Then, when prosperity dawned on the elder brother, the younger
obtained his wish, and went to study at Oxford, where he was so poor
that he and two other scholars had but one gown between them, lived
hard, and allowed themselves few pleasures; but this he was wont to call
the happiest time in his life.

Afterward he went to Bologna, and, after seven years there, returned,
and was made Chancellor, first of Oxford, and afterward of Canterbury.
There was a most earnest attachment between him and St. Edmund, whom
he followed into his exile. The Bishop whom the King had appointed to
Chichester was examined by Grosteste, and found deficient in theology,
and the chapter and Pope agreed in choosing Richard Wych, who was
consecrated by Innocent himself. Henry, in displeasure, took all the
temporalities of the see into his hands, and for a year Richard lived
at the expense of a poor parish priest named Simon, whom he strove to
requite by working in his garden, budding, grafting, and digging, as he
had once done for his brother.

He went about his diocese visiting each parish, and doing his work like
the early bishops of poorer days, and all the time making his suit to
the King to do him justice; but whenever he went to Westminster, meeting
only with jests and gibes from the courtiers.

The Pope was too busy to attend to him. That council at Lyons had ended
in sentence of deposition upon Frederick, and the combat raged in Italy
till his death, when Innocent, claiming Sicily as a fief of the Church,
offered it, if he could get it, to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had
too much sense to accept such a crown.

It then was offered to Henry for his son Edmund, whom he arrayed in the
robes of a Sicilian prince, and presented to the barons of England,
asking for men and money to win the kingdom. Not a man of them, however,
would march, or give a penny in aid of the cause, and therefore Innocent
raised money from the Lombard merchants in the name of the King of

No wonder Henry could not pay. His own household had neither wages,
clothes, nor food, except what they obtained by purveying--in their case
only a license to rob, since no payment was ever given for the goods
they carried off. His pages were gay banditti, and the merchants,
farmers, and fishers fled as from an enemy when the court approached;
yet, at each little transient gleam of prosperity, the King squandered
all that came into his hands in feasting and splendor, then grasped at
Church revenues, tormented the Jews, laid unjust fines on the Londoners,
or took bribes for administering justice, and all that he did was
imitated with exaggeration by his half-brothers, uncles, and favorites.

His chancellor, Mansel, held seven hundred benefices at once, and
so corrupted the laws, that one of the judges pronounced the source
poisoned from the fountain. Another chancellor was expelled from the
court for refusing to set the great seal to a grant to one of the
Queen’s uncles of four-pence on every sack of wool, and at one time
Eleanor herself actually had the keeping of the seal, and when the
Londoners resisted one of her unjust demands, she summarily sent the
Lord Mayor and Sheriffs to the Tower.

Isabel Warenne, the King’s cousin, and widow of the Earl of Arundel, an
excellent and charitable lady, still young, came to the King’s court to
seek justice respecting a wardship of which she had been deprived. She
spoke boldly to Henry: “My Lord, why do you turn your face from justice?
Nobody can obtain right. You are placed between God and us, but you
govern neither yourself nor us. Are you not ashamed thus to trample on
the Church, and disquiet your nobles?”

“What do you mean, lady?” said the King. “Have the great men of England
chosen you for their advocate?”

“No, sir,” said the spirited lady; “they have given me no such charter,
though you have broken that which you and your father have granted and
sworn to observe. Where are the liberties of England, so often granted?
We appeal from you to the Judge in heaven!”

All Henry could say, was, “Did you not ask me a favor because you were
my cousin?”

“You deny my right; I expect no favor,” and, so saying, Isabel left him.

After two years, Richard of Chichester was permitted to assume the
temporalities of his see, and most admirably he used them, doing every
kindness to the poor in his diocese, and always maintaining the right,
though more gently than his friend at Lincoln. Those were evil days, and
men’s sense of obedience and sense of right were often sorely divided.
Richard died in the year 1253, after a short illness, in which he was
attended by his friend Simon, leaving the memory of his peaceful,
charitable life, much beloved in his diocese, and was shortly after
canonized. “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” were among his
last words.

The champion Robert Grosteste had one more battle to fight ere following
his two saintly brethren.

He was wont always to compare each bull which he received with the
Gospels and the canon law, and if he found anything in it that would not
stand this test, he tore it in pieces. In 1254, one of these letters
commanded him to institute to a benefice a nephew of the Pope, a mere
child, besides containing what was called the clause “_non obstante_”
 (namely, in spite of), by which the Pope claimed, as having power to
bind and loose, to set aside and dispense with existing statutes and
oaths, at his pleasure.

Grosteste wrote an admirable letter in reply. He said most truly, “Once
allowed, this clause would let in a flood of promise-breaking, bold
injustice, wanton insult, deceit, and mutual distrust, to the defilement
of true religion, shaking the very foundations of trust and security;”
 and he also declared that nothing could be more opposed to the precepts
of our Lord and His apostles, than to destroy men’s souls by depriving
them of the benefits of the pastoral office by giving unfit persons the
care of souls. He therefore absolutely refused to publish the bull, or
to admit the young Italian to the benefice.

Innocent flew into a passion on reading the letter. “What meaneth this
old dotard, surd and absurd, thus to control our actions? Did not our
innate generosity restrain us, I would confound him, and make him a
prodigy to all the world!”

One of the Spanish cardinals, however, spoke thus: “We cannot deal
harshly with such a man as this. We must confess that he speaketh
truth. He is a holy man, of more religious life than any of us; yea,
Christendom hath not his equal. He is a great philosopher, skilled in
Greek and Latin, a constant reader in the schools, preacher in the
pulpit, lover of chastity, and hater of simony.”

Authorities are divided as to whether the Pope was persuaded to
lay aside his anger, or not. Some say that he sent off sentence of
suspension and excommunication; others, that he owned the justice of
Grosteste’s letter. It made little difference to the good Bishop, who
lay on his deathbed long before the answer arrived. He spoke much of the
troubles and bondage of the Church, which he feared would never be
ended but by the edge of a blood-stained sword, and grieved over the
falsehood, perfidy, and extortion, that were soiling his beloved Church;
and thus he expired, uplifting his honest testimony both in word and
deed, untouched by the crimes of his age.

Innocent IV. did not long survive him, and there is a remarkable story
of the commencement of his last illness. He dreamt that the spirit of
Robert Grosteste had appeared, and given him a severe beating. The
delusion hung about him, and he finally died in the belief that he was
killed by the blows of the English Bishop.

Sewel, Archbishop of York, had the same contest with Rome. Three
Italians walked into York cathedral, asked which was the Dean’s seat,
and installed one of their number there; and when the Archbishop refused
to permit his appointment, an interdict was laid on his see, and he died
under excommunication, bearing it meekly and patiently, and his flock
following his funeral in weeping multitudes, though it was apparently
unblest by the Church.

These good men had fallen on days of evil shepherds, and lamentable was
the state of Europe, when men’s religious feelings were perverted to
be engines for exalting the temporal power of the popedom, and their
ministers, mistaking their true calling, were struggling for an absolute
and open dominion, for which purity, truth, meekness, and every
attribute of charity were sacrificed.


  _King of England_.
   1216. Henry III.

  _Kings of Scotland_.
   1214. Alexander II.
   1249. Alexander III.

  _Kings of France_.
   1180. Philip III.
   1223. Louis VIII.
   1226. Louis IX.

  _Emperors of Germany._
   1209. Friedrich II.
   1259. Conrad IV.

   1216. Innocent III.
   1227. Honorius III.
   1241. Gregory IX.
   1241. Celestin IV.
   1242. Innocent IV.

The crusading spirit had not yet died away, but it was often diverted by
the Popes, who sent the champions of the Cross to make war on European
heretics instead of the Moslems of Palestine.

William Longespée, the son of Fair Rosamond, was, however, a zealous
crusador in the East itself. He had been with Coeur de Lion in the Holy
Land, and in 1219 again took the Cross, and shared an expedition led by
the titular King of Jerusalem, a French knight, named Jean de Brienne,
who had married Marie, the daughter of that Isabelle whom Richard I. had
placed on the throne of Jerusalem. Under him, an attempt was made to
carry the war into the enemy’s quarters, by attacking the Saracens in
Egypt, and with a large force of crusaders he laid siege to Damietta.
The reigning Sultan, Malek el Kamel, marched to its relief, and
encamping at Mansourah, in the delta of the Nile, fought two severe
battles with doubtful success, but could not assist the garrison, who,
after holding out for fifteen months, at length surrendered. The unhappy
city was in such a state from the effects of hunger and disease, that
the Christians themselves, suffering from severe sickness, did not dare
to enter it, till the prisoners, as the price of their liberty, had
encountered the risk of cleansing it and burying the dead.

Even then they remained, encamped outside, and Kamel continued to watch
them from Mansourah, where he built permanent houses, and formed his
camp into a town, while awaiting the aid of the natural defender of
Egypt, the Nile, which, in due time arising, inundated the whole
Christian camp, and washed away the stores. The troops, already reduced
by sickness, were living in a swamp, the water and mud ankle-deep, and
with currents of deeper water rushing in all directions, drowning the
incautious; while want and disease preyed upon the rest, till Jean de
Brienne was obliged to go and treat with the Sultan. When received
courteously in the commodious, royal tent at Mansourah, the contrast to
the miseries which his friends were enduring so affected him, that he
burst into a fit of weeping, that moved the generous Kamel at once,
without conditions, to send as a free gift a supply of provisions to his
distressed enemies. A treaty was then concluded, by which the crusaders
restored Damiotta, after having held it for eight months, and were
allowed every facility for their departure.

Though hardy, patient and enterprising as a crusader, Longespée was
lawless and unscrupulous, and paid no respect to the ordinances of
religion, neither confessing himself nor being a communicant; while his
wife, the lady Ella, Countess of Salisbury in her own right, continued a
devout observer of her duties.

Soon after his return from Egypt, Longespée, in sailing from Gascony to
England, was in great danger, from a storm in the Bay of Biscay of many
days’ continuance, and so violent, that all the jewels, treasure, and
other freight, were thrown overboard to lighten the vessel. In the
height of the peril, the mast was illuminated, no doubt by that strange
electric brightness called by sailors “St. Elmo’s Light,” but which, to
the conscience-stricken earl, was a heavenly messenger, sent to convert
and save him. It was even reported that it was a wax-light, sheltered
from the wind by a female form of marvellous radiance and beauty, at
whose appearance the tempest lulled, and the ship came safely to land.

The Countess Ella availed herself of the impression thus made upon her
husband to persuade him to seek the ghostly counsel of St. Edmund Rich,
then a canon of Salisbury; and the first sight of the countenance of
the holy man at once subdued him, so that he forsook his evil ways,
devoutly received the rites so long neglected, and spent his few
remaining years in trying to atone for his past sins.

In 1226, he was taken suddenly ill at a banquet given by Hubert de
Burgh, and being carried home, sent for the Bishop of Salisbury, Richard
Poer, who found him in a high fever; but he at once threw himself from
his bed upon the floor, weeping, and crying out that he was a traitor to
the Most High: nor would he allow himself to be raised till he had made
his confession, and received the Holy Eucharist.

He died a few days subsequently, and was buried at Old Sarum, whence
his tomb was afterward removed to the cathedral at Salisbury, where his
effigy lies in the nave, in chain armor, with his legs crossed as a
crusader. The Countess Ella founded a monastery at Laycock, where she
took the veil. Her eldest son, William Longespée, succeeded to the
Castle of Sarum, but afterward offended the King by quitting the realm
without the royal license, for which breach of rule Henry III. seized
his possessions, and he remained a knight adventurer. In this capacity
he followed his cousin, Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall, who took
the Cross in 1240.

By this time, Yolande, the daughter of Jean de Brienne, had carried her
rights to her husband, Frederick II., Emperor of Germany, the object of
the bitter hatred of the Popes, who had thwarted him in every way, when
he himself led an expedition to Palestine, and now, since the conquests
of the crusaders would go to augment his power, would willingly have
checked them. Gregory IX. strove to induce the English party to commute
their vow for treasure, but they indignantly repelled the proposal, and
set forth, under the solemn blessing of their own bishops. In France,
they were received with great affection by Louis IX., and with much
enthusiasm by the people; so that their progress was a triumph, till
they came to Marseilles, where they embarked, disregarding a prohibition
from the Pope which here met them.

At Acre, they were received by the clergy and people in solemn
procession, chanting, “Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the
Lord;” and high were the hopes entertained that their deeds would
rival those of the last Richard Plantagenet and William Longespée. But
Richard, though brave and kindly-tempered, was no general; Palestine
was in too miserable a condition for his succor to avail it, and all he
could do was to make a treaty, and use his wealth to purchase free
ingress to the holy places for the pilgrims; and, without himself entering
Jerusalem, he returned home. He took with him as curiosities two Saracen
damsels, trained to perform a dance with each foot, on a globe of
crystal rolling on a smooth pavement, while they made various graceful
gestures with their bodies, and struck together a couple of cymbals with
their hands.

This was the whole result of the Crusade, for the treaty was set at
naught by the Templars and Hospitallers, who called him a boy, and
refused to be bound by his compact. In 1245, William Longespée again
took the Cross under a very different leader.

In the previous year, Louis IX., King of France, had been attacked by an
illness of such severity that his life was despaired of; and at one time
a lady, who was watching by his bed, thought him actually dead, and was
about to cover his face. He soon opened his eyes, and, stretching out
his arms, said, “The light of the East hath shined on me, and called me
back from the dead,” and he demanded the Cross, and at once took the
vow for the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre. To part with so just and
excellent a monarch on an expedition of such peril was grief and misery
to his subjects, and, above all, to his mother, Queen Blanche, and every
means was taken to dissuade him; but he would neither eat nor drink till
the sign was given to him; and as soon as he had strength to explain
himself, declared that he had, while in his trance, heard a voice from
the East, calling on him, as the appointed messenger of Heaven, to
avenge the insults offered to the Holy City. His mother mourned as for
his death, his counsellors remonstrated, his people entreated; but
nothing could outweigh such a summons, and his resolution was fixed.
The Bishop of Paris saying that the vow was made while he was not fully
master of his senses, he laid the Cross aside, but only to resume it, so
as to be beyond all such suspicion.

The Crusade was preached, but it had now become a frequent practice, of
which Henry III. was a lamentable example, lightly and hastily to
assume the Cross in a moment of excitement, or even as a means of being
disembarrassed from troublesome claims by the privileges of a Crusader,
and then to purchase from the Pope absolution from the vow. It had
become such an actual matter of traffic, that Richard of Cornwall
positively obtained from Gregory IX. a grant of the money thus raised
from recreant Crusaders. The landless William of Salisbury, going to the
Pope, who was then at Lyons, thus addressed him: “Your Holiness sees
that I am signed with the Cross. My name is great and well known: it is
William Longespée. But my fortune does not match it. The King of England
has bereft me of my earldom, but as this was done judicially, not out of
personal ill-will, I blame him not. Yet, poor as I am, I have undertaken
the pilgrimage. Now, since Prince Richard, the King’s brother, who has
not taken the Cross, has obtained from you a grant to take money from
such as lay it aside, surely I may beg for the like--I, who am signed,
and yet without resource.”

He obtained the grant, and thus raised 1,000 marks, while Richard of
Cornwall actually gained from one archdeacon £600, and in proportion
from others.

Louis, for three years, was detained by the necessity of arranging
matters for the tranquillity of his own kingdom, and not till the Friday
in Whitsun-week, 1248, was he solemnly invested at St. Denis with the
pilgrim’s staff and wallet, and presented with the oriflamme, the
standard of the convent, which he bore as Count of Paris. His two
brothers, Robert Comté d’Artois, and Charles Comte d’Anjou, and his wife
Marguerite of Provence, accompanied him, together with a great number
of the nobility, among whom the most interesting was the faithful and
attached Sieur de Joinville, Seneschal of Champagne, who has left us a
minute record of his master’s adventures.

They sailed from Aigues Mortes, August 25th, 1248, and Joinville
reflected that he could not imagine how a man in a state of mortal sin
could ever put to sea, since he knew not, when he fell asleep at night,
whether morning would not find him at the bottom of the sea. On coming
near the coast of Barbary, Joinville’s ship seems to have been becalmed,
for it continued for three whole days in view of the same round
mountain, to the great dismay of the crew, until a _preux d’homme_
priest suggested, that in his parish, in cases of distress, such as
dearth, or flood, or pestilence, processions chanting the Litany were
made on three Saturdays following. The day was Saturday, and the crew
acted on his advice, making the procession round the masts, even the
sick being carried by their friends. The next day they were out of sight
of the mountain, and on the third Saturday safely landed at Cyprus. Here
the Crusaders remained for eight months, since Egypt was the intended
point of attack, and they wished to allow the inundation of the Nile to
subside. At length, in the summer of 1249, they arrived before Damietta,
which was even better fortified than when it had previously held out for
fifteen months; but it now surrendered, after Fakreddin, the Mameluke
commander, had suffered one defeat under its walls, and the Christians
entered in triumph. Here Louis made an unfortunate delay, while waiting
for reinforcements brought by his brother Alfonse, Comte de Poitiers.

To the rude and superstitious noblesse, a Crusade appeared a certain
means of securing salvation, as indeed the clergy led them to believe;
and this belief seemed to remove all restraint of morality from the
ill-disposed, so that the pure and pious King was bitterly grieved by
the license which he found himself unable to restrain. Much harm was
done by the excess in which the troops indulged while revelling in the
plunder of Damietta. The prudent would have reserved the stores there
laid up for time of need, but old crusaders insisted on “the good old
custom of the Holy Land,” as they called it, namely, the distribution of
two-thirds among the army; and though the King ransomed some portion,
the money did as much harm in promoting revelry as the provisions

Longespée arrived, with 200 English knights; but the small band of
English and their landless leader met with nothing but contumely from
their allies, especially the King’s brother, Robert Comte d’Artois, a
haughty and impetuous youth. The English took a small castle on the road
to Alexandria, where one of the Saracen Emirs had placed his harem. It
was reported that Longespée had acquired a huge treasure there, and
Robert insulted him to his face, and deprived him of his just share of
the spoil. Longespée, complained to the King; but Louis could give him
no redress. “You are no King, if you cannot do justice,” said William.

Louis meekly suffered the reproach. He had, in his submission, made over
his judgment and authority to the papal legates--men far less fit than
he to exercise power--and matters went chiefly as they and his fiery
brothers chose to direct. Wiser counsellors recommended securing the
other seaport, Alexandria; but Prince Alfonse declared, that the only
way to kill a snake, was to strike the head, and persuaded the council
that the move should be upon Grand Cairo, or, as the Crusaders chose to
call it, Babylon.

On November 25th, 1249, the army advanced, and the conjuncture should
have been favorable, for the Sultan was just dead, and his son absent
at Damascus; but nothing could have been worse concerted than the
expedition--ill-provisioned, without boats to cross the canals, without
engines of war, the soldiery disorganized; while the Mameluke force were
picked soldiers, recruited from the handsomest Circassian children, bred
up for arms alone, and with an _esprit de corps_ that rendered them a
terror to friend and foe almost down to our own times. They harassed the
Christians at every step, and destroyed their machines, and terrified
them excessively by showers of Greek fire, a compound of naphtha and
other combustibles launched from hollow engines, which ignited as it
traversed the air, and was very hard to extinguish.

The Franks regarded it with a superstitious horror, as a fiendish
mystery, and compared it to a fiery dragon with a tail as long as a
lance; but it did not actually cause many deaths, and they met with no
serious disaster till they came to the canal of Aschmoum, which flowed
between them and Mansourah. They tried to build a causeway across it,
but their commencement was destroyed by the Greek fire, and a Bedouin
offered, for 500 bezants, to show them a ford on the Shrove Tuesday
of 1250. Robert d’Artois begged to lead the vanguard, and secure the
passage of the rest; and when the King hesitated to confide so important
a charge to one so rash and impetuous, he swore on the Gospels that,
when he should have gained the bank on the other side, nothing should
induce him to leave it till the whole army should have crossed. The King
consented, but placed the command in the hands of the wise Guillaume
de Sonnac, Grand Master of the Templars, who, with his knights, the
Hospitallers, Longespée and the English, and Robert’s own band, formed a
body of 1,400.

The Saracens who guarded the ford were taken by surprise, and fled in
confusion; and the Christians, mounting the bank, beheld the inhabitants
and garrison of Mansourah hurrying away in terror.

The temptation made the impetuous prince forget his promises, and he was
dashing forward in pursuit, when the Grand Master tried to check him, by
representing that, though the enemy were at present under the influence
of panic terror, they would soon rally, and that the only safety for the
I,400 was to wait, with the canal in their rear, until the rest of the
army should have crossed; otherwise, as soon as their small number
should be perceived, they would infallibly be surrounded and cut off.

The fiery youth listened with scorn and impatience. “I see,” cried he,
“that it is well said, that the Orders have an understanding with the
Infidel! They love power, they love money, and so will not see the war
ended. This is the way that so many crusading princes have been served
by them.”

“Noble Count,” said Pierre de Villebride, the Grand Master of St. John,
trying to calm him, “why do you think we gave up our homes and took
these vows? Was it to overthrow the Church and lose our own souls? Such
things be far, far from us, or from any Christian.”

But De Sonnac would not parley; he called to his esquire, “Spread wide
the Beauséant banner. Arms and death must decide our honor and fate. We
might be invincible, united; but division is our ruin.”

Longespée interposed. “Lord Count,” said he, “you cannot err in following
the counsel of a holy man like the Grand Master, well tried in arms. Young
men are never dishonored by hearkening to their elders.”

“The tail! that smacks of the tail!” exclaimed the headstrong Robert.

[Footnote: On Thomas á Becket’s last journey to Canterbury, Raoul de
Broc’s followers had cut off the tails of his pack-horses. It was a vulgar
reproach to the men of Kent that the outrage had been punished by the
growth of the same appendage on the whole of the inhabitants of the
county; and, whereas the English populace applied the accusation to the
Kentishmen, foreigners extended it to the whole nation when in a humor for
insult and abuse, such as that of this unhappy prince.]

“Count Robert,” rejoined William, “I shall be so forward in peril
to-day, that you will not even come near the tail of my horse.”

With these words they all set out at full gallop, Robert’s old deaf
tutor, Sir Foucault de Nesle, who had not heard one word of the
remonstrance, holding his bridle, and shouting, “_Ores à eux! ores à,
eux!_” They burst into the town, and began to pillage, killing the
Saracen Emir Fakreddin, as he left his bath; but in the meantime,
Bendocdar, another Mameluke chief, had rallied his forces, threw a troop
between them and the ford, and thus, cutting them off, attacked them in
the streets, while the inhabitants hurled stones, boiling water, and
burning brands from above.

Separated and surprised as they were, the little band sold their lives
dearly, forgot their fatal quarrels, and fought as one man from ten
o’clock till three. Robert entrenched himself in a house, defended
himself there for a long time, and finally perished in its ruins.
Longespée was killed at the head of his knights, who almost all fell
with him; and his esquire, Robert de Vere, was found with his banner
wrapped around his dead body. Only thirty-five prisoners were made,
among them Pierre de Villebride. Sonnac, after having lost a hundred
and eighty of his knights, fought his way through with the loss of an

The King had, in the meantime, crossed the canal, and grievous was his
disappointment on finding that the Saracens were between him and his
brother. Every effort was made to break through to the rescue, but in
vain; and at one moment Louis himself was in the utmost danger, finding
himself singly opposed to six Saracens, whom, however, he succeeded in
putting to flight. With difficulty could his forces even maintain their
footing on the Mansourah side of the canal, and it was not till after
a long and desperate conflict that there was time to inquire for the
missing. The Prior de Rosnay came to the royal tent, to ask whether
there were any tidings of the Count, “Only that he is in Paradise,” said
the King. “God be praised for what He sends to us.” And he lifted up his
eyes, while the tears flowed down his cheeks.

It was believed, in England, that the Countess Ella of Salisbury had on
that day a vision of her son received into Paradise.

The bon Sieur de Joinville had his part in the brave deeds of the day:
he, with the Comte de Soissons and four other knights, guarded a bridge
against a mighty force of Saracens. “Seneschal,” cried the Count, “let
this canaille roar and howl; you and I will yet talk of this day in our
lady’s chamber.”

And Joinville fought on cheerfully, though twice dismounted, and in
great danger. But he kept up his heart, crying out, “Beau Sire, St.
James, help me, and succor me in my need!” and he came off safely,
though pierced with five arrows, and his horse with fifteen wounds.

The following day was a doubly sorrowful Ash-Wednesday in the Christian
camp; while the Mussulmans triumphed, calling the battle of Mansourah
the key of joy to true believers; and fancying, from the fleur-de-lys on
the surcoat, that the corpse of Robert was that of Louis himself, they
proclaimed throughout their camp, “The Christian army is a trunk without
life or head!”

They learnt their error on the Friday, when they made a furious attack
on the Crusaders, and Louis’s valor made itself felt, as he dashed
through showers of arrows and of Greek fire, and drove back the enemy as
they were surrounding his brother Charles. His other brother, Alfonse,
was for a moment made prisoner, but being much beloved, the butchers,
women, and servants belonging to the army, suddenly rushed forward and
rescued him. The Grand Master of the Templars lost his other eye, and
was soon after killed; and though the Christians claimed the victory,
their loss was so severe, especially in horses, that it was impossible
to advance to Cairo, and they therefore remained encamped before

Nothing more fatal could have been done: the marshy ground, the number
of dead bodies that choked the stream, the feeding on fish that had
preyed upon them--for the Lenten fast prevented recourse to solid
food--occasioned disease to break out--fever, dysentery, and a horrible
disorder which turned the skin as black and dry (says Joinville) as an
old boot, and caused great swelling and inflammation of the gums, so
that the barbers cut them away piecemeal.

The Saracens let them alone, only now and then launching volleys of
Greek fire. The King, on seeing these coming, would kneel down, and cry,
“Lord, spare my people!” But worse enemies were at work. Warrior after
warrior succumbed to his sufferings, and the clergy, going about among
the dying, caught the infection, till there were hardly sufficient to
perform the daily offices of religion. Joinville rose from his bed to
lift up his chaplain, who, while singing mass, fainted on the step of
the altar. Supported in his arms, he finished the mass, but, says the
Seneschal, “he never chanted more.”

Patiently and steadfastly all was borne: the Christians repented
of their late license, and suffered without murmurs, desertion, or
submission, encouraged by their good King, who spent his time in going
from one bed to another to encourage the sick, attend to their wants,
and offer his prayers with them. He was vainly entreated not to expose
himself to the infection. But love and duty equally led him among his
people, and his sad, resigned face never failed to cheer the sufferers,
till he too was laid on a bed of sickness.

Easter came, but famine was added to their miseries, and those who were
recovering from illness died of hunger. The new Sultan, Touran Chah, or
Almoadan, had at length arrived, and Louis tried to negotiate with him,
offering to surrender the town of Damietta, provided Jerusalem were
placed in his hands. The Sultan would have agreed, but required hostages,
and, when Louis offered his two brothers, refused any guarantee but the
person of the King himself. With one voice the French knights vowed that
they would all be killed rather than make a pledge of their King, and the
project was ineffectual.

Louis now resolved to attempt to retreat in secret, and on the 5th of
April he collected as many boats as possible upon the canal, there by
night to embark the sick, that they might ascend the Nile to Damietta.
Those who yet had strength to fight were to go by land; and he, though
very ill, refused to desert his army, and resolved to accompany them. In
the midst of the embarkation the Saracens discovered what was going on,
and fell upon them, shooting arrows at the sick as they were carried on
board. They hurried the vessels off, notwithstanding loud cries from the
land army of “Wait for the King! wait for the King!”--for the French
soldiery only longed to see their King in safety; but he came not, and
they pushed off. Before long the Sultan’s galleys met them with such
showers of Greek fire, that Joinville, one of those unfortunate sick,
declares that it seemed as if all the stars were falling. Soon they
were boarded by the enemy; Joinville gave himself up for lost, threw
overboard all his relics, lest they should be profaned, and prayed
aloud; but a Saracen renegade who knew him, came up to him, and by
calling out, “The King’s cousin!” saved his life, and that of a little
boy in his company. All who seemed capable of paying a ransom were made
prisoners; the rest had the choice of death or apostasy, and too many
chose the last.

The rest of the army fared no better by land. Louis had mounted his
horse, though so weak that he could not wear his armor, and rode among
the knights, who strove to cut their way through the foe. The two good
knights, Geoffroi de Sargines and Gautier de Chatillon rode on each side
of him, and, as he afterward said, guarded, him from the Saracens as a
good servant guards his master’s cup from flies. They were obliged to
support him in his saddle after a time, so faint and exhausted did he
become; and at last, on arriving at a little village named Minieh,
Sargines look him from his horse, and laid him down just within a house,
his head on the lap of a Frenchwoman whom he found there, and watched
over him, expecting each breath to be the last.

Chatillon defended the entrance, rushing each moment on the Saracens,
and only resting to draw out the arrows with which he was covered. At
last he was overcome by numbers, and slaughtered; and another knight,
Philippe de Montfort, making his way to the King, who had somewhat
revived, told him that five hundred knights remained in full force, and,
with his permission, he could make good terms. Louis consented, and the
Saracen Emir was in the act of concluding a truce, when a traitor cried
out, “Sir French knights, surrender! the King bids you! Do not cause him
to be slain!” They instantly laid down their arms unconditionally, and
the Emir, whose ring had been already off his finger, looking round,
said, “We make no truce with prisoners.”

All was thus lost. The Saracens entered the village, and finding the
King, loaded him with chains, and placed him on board a vessel. His
brothers were likewise taken, and even the knights who were far advanced
on the way to Damietta, on hearing of their monarch’s captivity, dropped
their arms, and became an easy prey. The crosses and images of the
Saints were trodden under foot and reviled by the Mussulmans, and the
prisoners, when all those of importance had been selected, were placed
in an enclosure, and each man who would not deny his faith was beheaded.

The news of the ruin of the army and the captivity of her husband
reached Queen Marguerite at Damietta, where she was daily awaiting the
birth of an infant. Her despair and terror were such, that her life was
in the utmost danger, and nothing soothed her except holding the hand of
an old knight, aged eighty years, who did his utmost to calm her. If she
slept for a few moments, she awoke starting, and fancying the room was
full of Saracens, and the old knight had to assure her that he was
there, and she need fear nothing. Once she sent every one else out of
the room, and, kneeling down, insisted that he should make oath to do
what she should require of him. It was, that, should the enemy take the
city, he would sweep off her head with his sword, rather than let her
fall into their hands. “Willingly,” said the old knight. “Had you not
asked it of me, I had thought of doing so.”

The morning after, a son was born to her, and named Jean Tristan, on
account of the sadness that reigned around. On that very day word was
brought to her that the Genoese and Pisans, who garrisoned the town,
were preparing their vessels to depart. The poor Queen sent for their
leaders, and as they stood round her bed, she held up her new-born babe,
and conjured them not to desert the town and destroy all hopes for the
King. They told her that they had no provisions: on which she sent
to buy up all in the town, and promised to maintain them at her own
expense; thus awakening sufficient compassion and honor to make them
promise at least to await her recovery. Her first pledge of hope was
a bulbous root, on which, with a knife, had been cut out the word
“_Espérance_,” the only greeting the captive King could send to her. No
wonder that plant has ever since borne the well-omened name.

Louis, meanwhile, was carried by water to Mansourah, where he lay very
ill, and only attended by one servant and two priests. A book of Psalms
and the cloak that covered him were the sole possessions that remained
to him; but with unfailing patience he lay, feebly chanting the Psalms,
never uttering one word of complaint, and showing such honor to the
office of the priests, that he would not endure that they should perform
for him any of the services that his helplessness required. Nor did he
make one request from his enemies for his own comfort; though Touran
Chah, struck with his endurance, sent to him a present of fifty robes
for himself and his nobles; but Louis refused them, considering that to
wear the robes of the Saracen would compromise the dignity of his crown.
The Sultan next sent his physician, under whose care his health began to
return, and negotiations were commenced. The King offered as his ransom,
and that of his troops, the town of Damietta and a million of bezants;
but the Sultan would not be contented without the cities of the
Crusaders in Palestine, Louis replied that these were not his own; and
when Touran Chah threatened him with torture or lifelong captivity, his
only reply was, “I am his prisoner; he can do as he will with me.”

His firmness prevailed, and the Sultan agreed to take what he offered.
Louis promised the town and the treasure, provided the Queen consented;
and when the Mahometans expressed their amazement at a woman being
brought forward, “Yes,” he said, “the Queen is my lady; I can do
nothing without her consent.”

The King ransomed all his companions at his own expense, and there was
general rejoicing at the hopes of freedom; but, alas! the Sultan, Touran
Chan, was murdered by his own Mamelukes, who hunted him into the river,
and killed him close to the ship where Joinville had embarked. They then
rushed into the vessels of the Christians, who, expecting a massacre to
follow, knelt down and confessed their sins to each other. “I absolve you,
as far as God has given me power,” replied each warrior to his brother.
Joinville, seeing a Saracen with a battle-axe lifted over him, made the
sign of the Cross, and said, “Thus died St. Agnes.” However, they were
only driven down into the hold, without receiving any hurt.

Louis was in his tent with his brothers, unable to account for the
cries he heard, and fearing that Damietta had been seized, and that the
prisoners were being slain. At last there rushed in a Mameluke with a
bloody sword, crying, “What wilt thou give me for delivering thee from
an enemy who intended thy ruin and mine?”

Louis made no answer.

“Dost thou not know,” said the furious Mameluke, “that I am master of
thy life? Make me a knight, or thou art a dead man.”

“Make thyself a Christian,” said the undaunted King, “and I will make
thee a knight.”

His calm dignity overawed the assassin; and though several others came
in, brandishing their swords and using violent language, the sight of
the majestic captive made them at once change their demeanor; they spoke
respectfully, and tried to excuse the murder; then, putting their hands
to their brow, and salaaming down to the ground, retired. They sounded
their drums and trumpets outside the tent, and it is even said they
deliberated whether to offer their crown--since the race of Saladin was
now extinct--to the noble Frank prince. Louis had decided that he would
accept it, in hopes of converting them, but the proposal was never made.

The Mamelukes returned to the former conditions of the treaty with the
King, but, when the time came for making oaths on either side for its
observance, a new difficulty arose. The Emirs, as their most solemn
denunciation, declared that, “if they violated their promises, they
would be as base as the pilgrim who journeys bareheaded to Mecca, or as
the man who takes back his wives after having put them away.”

In return, they required the King to say that, if he broke his oath, he
should be as one who denied his religion; but the words in which this
was couched seemed to Louis so profane, that he utterly refused to
pronounce them.

The Mahometans threatened.

“You are masters of my body,” he said, “but you have no power over
my will.” His brothers and the clergy entreated in vain, though the
Mamelukes, fancying that his resistance was inspired by the latter,
seized the Patriarch of Jerusalem, an old man of eighty, and tied him up
to a stake, drawing the cords so tight round his hands that the blood

“Sire, sire, take the oath!” he cried; “I take the sin upon myself.”

But Louis was immovable, and the Emirs at last contented themselves with
his word, and retired, saying that this was the proudest Christian that
had ever been seen in the East.

They knew not that his pride was for the honor of his God.

On the 6th of May, Geoffroi de Sargines came to Damietta, placed the
Queen and her ladies on board the Genoese vessels, and gave up the keys
to the Emirs.

The King was, on this, set free, but his brother Alfonso was to remain
as a hostage till the bezants were paid. The royal coffers at Damielta
could not supply the whole, and the rest was borrowed of the Templars,
somewhat by force; for Joinville, going to their treasurer in his
worn-out garments and his face haggard from illness, was refused the
keys, till he said “he should use the royal key,” on which, with a
protest, the chests were opened.

Philippe de Montfort managed to cheat the Mamelukes of 10,000 bezants,
and came boasting of it to the King; but Louis, much displeased, sent
him back with the remaining sum.

The King then embarked, still in much anxiety whether the Emirs would
fulfil their engagements and liberate his brother; but, late at night,
Montfort came alongside of the vessel, and called out, “Sire, speak to
your brother, who is in the other ship!”

In great joy Louis cried, “Light up! light up!” and the signals of the
two princes joyfully answered each other in the darkness.

The King sailed for Acre, and after some stay there, finding that his
weakened force could effect nothing, and hearing that the death of his
mother, Queen Blanche, had left France without a regent, he returned
home, and landed 5th of September, 1254, six years after his departure.

The Countess Ella and her son Nicholas, Bishop of Salisbury, raised an
effigy to William like that of his father, and the figures of the father
and son lie opposite to each other in the new cathedral founded by
Bishop Poore.


  _King of England._
  1216. Henry III.

  _Kings of Scotland._
  1214. Alexander II.
  1249. Alexander III.

  _Kings of France._
  1226. Louis IX.

  _Emperor of Germany._
  1209. Friedrich II.
  1249. Conrad IV.
  1255. William.

  1227. Gregory IX.
  1241. Celestin IV.
  1242. Innocent IV.
  1254. Alexander IV.
  1261. Urban IV.

The lawlessness of John Lackland led to the enactment of Magna Charta;
the extravagance of Henry of Winchester established the power of
Parliament, and the man who did most in effecting this purpose was a
foreigner by birth.

Amicia, the heiress of the earldom of Leicester, was the wife of Simon,
Count de Montfort, an austere warrior, on whom fell the choice of
Innocent III. to be leader of the so-called crusade against the
unfortunate Albigenses. Heretics indeed they were; but never before had
the sword of persecution been employed by the Church, and their fate is
a grievous disgrace to Rome, and to the Dominican order. Strict in life,
but of cruel temper, Count Simon was a fit instrument for the massacres
committed; and being a leader of great skill, he gained complete
victories over the native princes of the heretics, who, though not
holding their opinions, were unwilling to let them perish without
protection. Raymond de St. Gilles Count de Toulouse, Gaston Count de
Béarn, and all the most famous names of the south of France, took up
arms in their defence; and even Pedro, King of Aragon, joined, the
confederacy; but at the battle of Muret all were totally defeated, and
Pedro lost his life.

The nobles were imprisoned, the peasants murdered by wholesale, villages
burnt down and the inhabitants slain, with out distinction of Catholic
or heretic, and all the time the followers of Montfort deemed themselves
religious men. The Lateran Council actually invested Simon with the
sovereignty of the counties of Toulouse and Carcassonne; but he was
extremely hated there, and Count Raymond, recovering his liberty,
attacked him, and regained great part of his own dominions. Montfort was
besieging the town of Toulouse, when, while hearing mass, intelligence
was brought to him that the garrison were setting fire to his machines.
He rose from his knees, repeating the first verse of the Song of Simeon,
and rushing out to the battle, was struck on the head by a stone from a
mangonel on the walls, and killed on the spot, June 25, 1218. He was a
remarkable type of that character fostered by the system of the Middle
Ages, where ambition and cruelty existed side by side with austere
devotion, and were encouraged as if they did service to Heaven.

His second son, Simon, had the same strong sense of religion, together
with equal talents, and unusual beauty of person, skill in arms, and
winning grace of deportment. The elder son, Amaury, was the heir of
the county of Montfort, and for some time Simon remained landless, the
earldom of Leicester having been forfeited on account of the adherence
of the family to the party of Louis the Lion in the wars that followed
the signing of Magna Charta.

In 1232, however, young Simon came to England to attempt the recovery of
his mother’s inheritance, and his graceful manners and Southern tongue
at once delighted Henry III. Another heart was at the same time gained;
the King’s sister, Eleanor, who had been left a widow at sixteen by the
death of the brave Earl of Pembroke, had, in her first despair, made a
vow of perpetual widowhood, and received the ring of dedication from the
Archbishop; but at the end of six years all this was forgotten; she
fell in love with the handsome Provençal, and prevailed on the King to
sanction with his presence a hasty private wedding in St. Stephen’s

For some time the marriage remained a secret, and when it became known,
great was the indignation alike of clergy and laity. The Barons even
collected troops, and headed by Richard, the King’s brother, whom they
called the Staff of Fortitude, assembled at Southwark, and dreadfully
alarmed the poor King; but Montfort, who always possessed a great power
over men’s minds, managed to reconcile himself to Prince Richard, and to
disperse the other nobles. Still, the Archbishop termed it no marriage
at all, and Simon therefore set out at once for Rome, carrying letters
from Henry, and raising money by every means in his power, till he was
able to offer a sufficient bribe to obtain from the Pope a dispensation,
with which he returned to England a few days before the birth of his
eldest child, Henry.

Simon was now in high favor; the Barons, who at first looked on him as
one of the hated Southern adventurers, were gained over by his address
and adoption of their manners; and when, by the royal favor and the
formal cession by his brother Amaury, he obtained the earldom of
Leicester, they readily identified him with themselves. At court he was
highly beloved; his children were constantly at the palace; and in 1239,
when Edward, heir of the crown, was baptized, he was one of the nine
godfathers--an honor, perhaps, chiefly owing to his wealth, for this was
at one of the times when Henry’s finances were at so low an ebb that
he, or his messengers, made the birth of the child an excuse for their
rapacity. Each noble to whom the tidings were sent was obliged to make a
costly gift; and if he did not offer enough, his present was returned on
his hands with intimation that it must be increased. “God has given us
this child,” said a jester; “the King sells him to us.”

Montfort’s English popularity seems suddenly to have rendered the fickle
King jealous; for, to his great surprise, on the day of the churching
of the Queen, Henry suddenly met him, and forbade him to join in the
service, reviling him furiously for the circumstances of his marriage,
and ordering him at once to leave his dominions. Returning with his wife
to his lodgings, he was at once followed by messengers, ordering them
both away; and before sunset he was obliged to embark with Eleanor in a
small vessel, leaving behind them their infant son.

He placed his wife in safety in France, and proceeded to the Holy Land,
where he highly distinguished himself, and, as usual, gained every one’s
affection, so that the Barons of Palestine would fain have had him
for their leader in the absence of their young Queen Yolande and her
husband, Friedrich II. of Germany.

King Henry had forgotten his displeasure by the time he returned, and
the next ten years were spent in peace by the Earl and Countess, at
their castles of Kenilworth and Odiham, and the government of Gascony.
Their five sons were brought up as the playfellows of their royal
cousins, and were under the tutorship of the great Robert Grosteste,
while the noble and magnificent earl stood equally well with sovereign
and people. His chaplain, Adam de Marisco, seems to have been an
admirable man, who never failed to administer suitable reproofs to the
Countess for love of dress and other failings, all which she seems to
have taken in good part.

Meantime Henry was plunging deeper in debt and difficulty. Every time
his council met they charged him with breaches of the Great Charter, and
refusing, in spite of his promises and pleas, to grant him any money,
left him to devise means of obtaining it by extortion. The Jews had
always been considered a sort of lawful property of the sovereign,
who plundered them without remorse; but even this resource was not
inexhaustible, and he looked with covetous eyes on the prosperous
citizens of London. Once, when he was in great distress, and it was
suggested to him to pawn to them his plate and jewels, he broke out
passionately: “If the treasures of Augustus were put up to sale, these
clowns would buy them. Is it for them to assume the style of Barons,
and live sumptuously, while we are in want of the necessaries of life?”
 Thenceforth he made still more unscrupulous demands of the citizens,
under the name of New-Year’s gifts, loans, &c.; and Queen Eleanor had
even less consideration, so that their Majesties became the objects of
the utmost hatred in the city.

In 1252 the Earl of Leicester was summoned from Gascony to answer
various charges of maladministration. His brother-in-law, Prince
Richard, took his part, with the two great Earls of Gloucester and
Hereford, and it was reported that he had pledged the Gascons by a
solemn oath not to make any complaint of his government. At any rate,
they declared their intention of withdrawing their allegiance if he were
superseded, and he himself refused to resign his post unless he were
repaid the sums he had expended.

“I am not bound to keep my word with a traitor,” said Henry--words which
put Simon into a passion, and he replied:

“It is a lie! and whoever said so, I will compel to eat his words. Who
can believe you to be a Christian prince? Do you ever go to confession?”

“A Christian I am; I have often been to confession.”

“Vain confession, without repentance and reparation!”

“I repent of nothing so much,” cried the King, “as having fattened one
who has so little gratitude and so much ill manners.”

The friends of Simon checked further reply. Henry’s wrath was like straw
on fire; but he forgot that by it he lighted a flame more enduring,
though at first less visible; and he was vexed when the offended
Montfort removed his eldest son, Henry, from court. However, Gascony was
wanted as a government for Prince Edward, who was only thirteen years
old, and therefore Leicester was forced to resign, though he would not
do so without full compensation, such as Henry was ill able to afford.
Yet, affronted as he was, when the office of high steward of France was
offered to him, he would not accept it, by the advice of Grosteste, lest
he should seem unfaithful to his master.

To carry Prince Edward to Guienne was at present Henry’s favorite
scheme, and for this end every means of raising money was resorted
to. The King met the parliament, as he had done often before, with
entreaties for a grant to enable him to go and redeem the Holy
Sepulchre; but this had been far too frequently tried, and was
unnoticed; so he next tried the bribe of confirmation of the charters.
All the assembly went to Westminster Abbey, the bishops and abbots
carrying tapers, and there the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounced
sentence of excommunication against whosoever should infringe these
charters. As he spoke, the tapers were dashed at once on the ground,
with the words, “May his soul who incurs this sentence be thus
extinguished for ever!” while Henry added, “So help me God! I will
keep these charters, as I am a man, as I am a Christian, as I am a
knight, as I am a king crowned and anointed.”

Yet a few days after, when the parliament was dismissed and the money in
his hands, the temptation to transgress the charter again occurred. His
conscience was still overawed, and he hesitated; but his uncles and
half-brothers bade him remember that, while he kept his oath, he was but
the shadow of a King, and that, should he scruple, three hundred marks
sent to the Pope would purchase his dispensation and discharge him of

There was real need in Guienne; for Alfonso, King of Castile, had set
up a claim to that county, and threatened to invade it. Arriving there,
Henry gained some advantages, and concluded a peace, which was to be
sealed by a marriage between Edward of England and Dona Leonor of
Castile, Alfonso’s sister. Young as they were--Edward only fourteen and
Leonor still younger--they were at once brought to Burgos and there
united; after which a tournament was held, and the prince received
knighthood from the sword of Alfonso. Bringing his bride back to his
father at Bordeaux, Edward was received with a full display of
luxury; all Henry’s money, and more too, having been laid out on the
banquetting, so that the King himself stood aghast, and dismally
answered one of his English guests, “Say no more! What would they think
of it in England?”

The young bride, Eleanor, as the English called her, was brought to
England, while Edward remained in Guienne, sometimes visiting the French
court, and going wherever tournaments or knightly exercises invited him.
He was far better thus employed, and in intercourse with St. Louis, than
in the miserable quarrels, expedients, and perplexities, at home; and
thus he grew up generous, chivalrous, and devout, his whole character
strongly influenced by the example he had seen at Paris. His features
were fair, and of the noblest cast, perfectly regular, and only
blemished by a slight trace of his father’s drooping eyelid; the
expression full of fire and sweetness, though at times somewhat stern.
His height exceeded that of any man in England, and his strength was in
proportion; he was perfectly skilled in all martial exercises, and we
are told that he could leap into the saddle when in full armor without
putting his hand on it.

All the wealth in the family had always been in the hands of Prince
Richard, Earl of Cornwall, whose tin mines yielded such a revenue that
he was esteemed the richest prince in Europe. He had wisely refused the
Pope’s offer of the crown of Sicily; but at this time, the death of
Friedrich II., and of his son Conrad, leaving vacant the imperial crown,
he was so far allured by it, that he set off to offer himself as a
candidate, carrying with him thirty-two wagons, each drawn by eight
horses, and laden with a hogshead of gold. Judiciously distributed,
it purchased his election by the Archbishop of Mainz and some of the
electors, while others gave their votes to Alfonso of Castile, whose
offers had been also considerable.

Alfonso thenceforth was called _El Emperador_, and Richard was generally
known as King of the Romans, and his son as Henry d’Almayne, or of
Germany; but the Germans took no notice of either claimant beyond taking
their presents, and the only consequence was, that Richard was a poorer
man, and that his brother, the King, was ruined.

It was in 1258, while Richard was gone to be crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle,
that the long-gathering peril began to burst. There had been a severe
famine, which added to the general discontent; and though Richard sent
home forty vessels laden with corn, his absence was severely felt, and
his mediation was missed. The King saw Simon de Montfort in conference
with the nobles, and feared the consequences. Once, when overtaken by a
sudden storm on his way to the Tower, Henry was forced to take refuge
at Durham House, then the abode of the Earl, who came down to meet him,
bidding him not to be alarmed, as the storm was over.

“Much as I dread thunder and lightning, I fear thee more than all,” said
the poor King.

“My Lord,” said Montfort, “you have no need to dread your only true
friend, who would save you from the destruction your false councillors
are preparing for you.”

These words were better understood when, on the 2d of May, Henry, on
going to meet his parliament at Westminster, found all his Barons
sheathed in full armor, and their swords drawn. These they laid aside
on his entrance, but when he demanded, “What means this? Am I your
prisoner?” Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, a proud, violent man, who had
once before given the lie to the King, answered:

“Not so, sir; but your love of foreigners, and your own extravagance,
have brought great misery on the realm. We therefore demand that the
powers of government be entrusted to a committee of Barons and Prelates,
who may correct abuses and enact sound laws.”

William de Valence, one of Henry’s half-brothers, took upon him to
reply, and high words passed between him and the Earl of Leicester; but
the royal party were overmatched, and were obliged to consent to give
a commission to reform the state to twenty-four persons, half from the
King’s council, and half to be chosen by the Barons themselves, in a
parliament to be held at Oxford.

This meeting, noted in history as the Mad Parliament, commenced on
the 11th of June, and the Barons brought to it their bands of armed
retainers, so as to overpower all resistance. The regulations were made
entirely at their will, and the chief were thus: That parliaments should
assemble thrice a year, that four knights from each county should lay
before them every grievance, and that they should overlook all the
accounts of the Chancellor and Treasurer. For the next twelve years
this committee were to take to themselves the power of disposing of the
government of the royal castles, of revoking any grant made without
their consent, and of forbidding the great seal to be affixed to any
charter--the same species of restraint as that under which King John had
been placed at Runnymede.

The King’s half-brothers would not yield up the castles in their
possession, but Montfort told William de Valence that he would have
them, or his head, and brought charges against them before the council,
which so alarmed them, that they all fled to Wolvesham Castle, belonging
to Aymar, as intended Bishop of Winchester. Thither the Barons pursued
them, and, making them prisoners, sent them out of the realm, with only
six thousand marks in their possession.

Their defeat proved how vain was resistance, and the whole royal family
were obliged to swear to observe the Acts of Oxford, as they were
called. The King’s nephew, Henry d’Almayne, protested that they were of
no force in the absence of his father, the King of the Romans. “Let your
father look to himself,” said Leicester. “If he refuse to act with the
Barons of England, not a foot of land shall he have in the whole realm.”

And accordingly, on his return, Richard was not allowed to land till he
had promised to take the oath, which he did at Dover, in the presence of
the King and Barons.

Queen Eleanor expressed herself petulantly as to the oath, and Prince
Edward was scarcely persuaded to take it; but at length he was forced
to yield, and having done so, retired from the kingdom in grief and
vexation; for, having sworn it, he meant to abide by it, not being
as well accustomed to oaths and dispensations as his father, who, of
course, quickly sent to Rome for absolution.

On the other hand, when the twenty-four had to swear to it, the most
backward to do so was Simon de Montfort himself, who probably discerned
that the pledge was likely to be a mere mockery. When he at length
consented, it was with the words, “By the arm of St. James, though I
take this oath, the last, and by compulsion, yet I will so observe it
that none shall be able to impeach me.”

Prince Edward might have said the same; he even incurred the displeasure
of his mother for refusing to elude or transgress his oath, and was for
a time accused of having joined the Barons’ party. Meanwhile, the King
and Queen were constantly and needlessly affronting their subjects.
“What! are you so bold with me, Sir Earl?” said the King to Roger Bigod.
“Do you not know I could issue my royal warrant for threshing out all
your corn?”

“Ay,” returned the Earl; “and could not I send you the heads of the

The hot-tempered, light-minded Queen Eleanor’s open contempt of the
English drew upon her such hatred, that vituperative ballads were made
on her, some of which have come down to our times. One attacks even her
virtue as a wife, and another is entitled a “Warning against Pride,
being the Fall of Queen Eleanor, who for her pride sank into the earth
at Charing Cross, and rose again at Queenhithe, after killing the Lady
Mayoress.” Unfortunately, popular inaccuracy has imputed her errors to
the gentle Eleanor of Castile, her daughter-in-law, and thus the ballad
calls her wife to Edward I., instead of Henry III. “A Spanish dame,”
 was a term that might fairly be applied to the Provençal Eleanor, whose
language was nearly akin to Spanish, and whose luxury was sufficient to
lead to the accusation of

  “Bringing in fashions strange and new,
  With golden garments bright;”

And that

  “The wheat, that daily made her bread
  Was bolted twenty times:
  The food that fed this stately dame
  Was boiled in costly wines.
  The water that did spring from ground
  She would not touch at all,
  But washed her hands with dew of heaven
  That on sweet roses fall.
  She bathed her body many a time
  In fountains filled with milk,
  And every day did change attire
  In costly Median silk.”

Eleanor of Provence, when “drest in her brief authority” as Lady
Chancellor, had arbitrarily imprisoned the Lord Mayor, and this the
ballad converts into a persecution of the unfortunate Lady Mayoress,
  whom she sent”--into Wales with speed,
  And kept her secret there,
  And used her still more cruelly
  Than ever man did bear.
  She mude her wash, she made her starch,
  She made her drudge alway,
  She made her nurse up children small,
  And labor night and day,”
 and in conclusion slew her by means of two snakes.

Afterward her coach stood still in London, and could not move, when she
was accused of the crime, and, denying it, sunk into the ground, and
rose again at Queenhithe; after which she languished for twenty days,
and made full confession of her sins!

The real disaster that befell Queen Eleanor in London was an attack by
the mob as she was going down the Thames in her barge. She was pelted
with rotten eggs, sheeps’ bones, and all kinds of offal, with loud cries
of “Drown the witch!” and at length even stones and beams from some
houses building on the bank assailed her, and she was forced, to return
in speed to the Tower.

Prince Edward was not always blameless. He had been employed against the
Welsh, and after the campaign, not knowing whither to turn for means of
paying his troops, he broke into the chests of the Knights Templars,
to whom his mother’s jewels had been pledged, and carried off not only
these, but much property besides that had been committed to the keeping
of the order by other parties.

As to the unfortunate Jews, each party considered them fair game; and
there were frequent attacks upon them, and frightful massacres, when the
choice of death or of Christianity was offered to them, and the Barons
seized their treasures. The curses of Deuteronomy, of the trembling
heart, and the uncertainty of life and possession, were indeed fulfilled
on the unhappy race.

For four years the committee of twenty-four held their power with few
fluctuations, until matters were driven to extremity by a proposal to
render the present state of things permanent, and at the same time by an
attack on the property of the moderate and popular King of the Romans on
the part of the Barons.

On this the royal party determined to submit the dispute to the
arbitration of the King of France, whose wise and fair judgments were so
universally famed that the Barons readily consented, with the exception
of Leicester, who was convinced that Louis would incline to the side of
Henry, both as fellow-king and as brother-in-law, and therefore refused
to attend the conference, or to consider himself bound by its decisions.

The judgment of Louis IX, was perfectly just and moderate. He declared
that Magna Charta was indeed binding on the King of England, and that
he had no right to transgress it; but that the coercion in which he had
been placed by the Mad Parliament was illegal, and that the Acts of
Oxford were null, since no subjects had a right to deprive their
sovereign of the custody of his castles, nor of the choice of his

As Montfort had foreseen, the Barons would not accept this decision, and
its sole effect was to release Prince Edward’s conscience, and open the
way to civil war. The two Eleanors, of Provence and Castile, were left
under the charge of St. Louis; and their namesakes of the other party,
the Countess of Leicester and her daughter, the Damoiselle de Montfort,
fortified themselves in their castle of Kenilworth, while arms were
taken up on either side.

Leicester, who held that the guilt of perjury rested with the other
party, and who had with him the clergy opposed to the Italian
usurpation, deemed it a holy war, and marked the breasts of his soldiers
with white crosses, imagining himself the champion of the truth, as he
had been taught to think himself, when bearing his first arms under his
father in what was esteemed the Provençal Crusade. Alas, when honorable
and devout minds have the fine edge of conscience blunted! Thus did the
gallant and beloved “Sir Simon the Righteous” become a traitor and a

The scholars of Oxford, who had not at all forgotten their quarrel with
king and legate, came out _en masse_ under the banner of the University
(for once disloyal), to join Leicester’s second son, Simon, who was
collecting a body of troops to lead to his father in London.

Prince Edward, however, attacked them at Northampton, and effected a
breach in the wall. Young Montfort attempted a desperate sally, but
was defeated, and his life only saved by his cousin, the Prince, who
extricated him from beneath his fallen steed, and made him prisoner.

The King and Prince next marched to seize the Cinque Ports, and, while
in Sussex, Leicester followed them, and came up with them in a hollow
valley near Lewes. Here, with a sort of satire, the Barons sent to offer
the King 30,000 marks if he would make peace, and a like sum to the King
of the Romans if he would bring him to terms. The proposals were angrily
repelled by Edward, who, with accusations of his godfather as traitor
and “_foi menti_,” sent him a personal challenge.

Leicester spent the night in prayer, and in early morning knighted
Gilbert de Clare, the young Earl of Gloucester, who was at this time
enthusiastically attached to him. The battle then began, each army being
arrayed in three divisions. Prince Edward and Henry d’Almayne were
opposed to their two cousins, Henry and Guy de Montfort, with the bands
from London. Mindful of the outrage that his mother had sustained from
the citizens, Edward charged them furiously, and pursued them with great
slaughter, never drawing rein till he reached Croydon.

But, as they rode back to Lewes, the impetuous young soldiers beheld a
sight very different from their triumphant anticipations. The field
was scattered with the corpses of the Royalists, and the white-crossed
troops of the Barons were closely gathered round the castle and priory
of Lewes. In dismay, William and Guy de Lusignan turned their horses,
and rode off to embark at Pevensey. Seven hundred men followed them, and
Edward and Henry were left with the sole support of Roger Mortimer, a
Welsh-border friend of the former, with his followers.

The hot pursuit of the fugitive plunderers had ruined the day. Montfort
had concentrated his forces, and had totally routed the two kings;
Richard was already his prisoner, and Henry had no chance of holding out
in the priory. The princes undauntedly strove to collect their shattered
forces, and break through to his rescue, but were forced to desist by a
message that, on their first attack, the head of the King of the Romans
should be struck off.

To save his life, the two cousins therefore agreed to a treaty called
the Mise of Lewes, May 15th, 1264, by which they gave themselves up to
the Barons as hostages for their fathers, stipulating that the matter at
issue should be decided by deputies from the King of France, and that
the prisoners on either side should be set free.

Now began the great trial of Simon de Montfort--that of power and
prosperity--and he failed under it. Whatever might have been his first
intentions in taking up arms, he now proved himself unwilling to lay
aside the authority placed in his hands, even though he violated his
oaths in maintaining it, and incurred the sentence of excommunication
which the Pope launched against him. But when the most saintly English
bishops of their own time had died under it, it lost its power on the

No measures were taken for the French arbitration, nor were the
prisoners set free. The King of the Romans was confined at Kenilworth,
and the two young princes at Dover, the custody of which castle was
committed to one of their cousins, the Montforts, who allowed them no
amusement but the companionship of Thomas de Clare, the young brother of
the Earl of Gloucester. King Henry was indeed nominally at liberty, but
watched perpetually by Leicester’s guards, and not allowed to take a
step or to write a letter without his superintendence; and when the
Mayor of London swore fealty to him, it was with the words, “As long
as he was good to them.” Edward was made, on promise of liberation, to
swear to terms far harder than even the Acts of Oxford, and when the
bitter oath had been taken, he was pronounced at full liberty, and then
carried off, under as close a guard as ever, to Wallingford Castle.

Queen Eleanor was acting with great spirit abroad, gathering money and
collecting troops in hopes of better times, and seven knights still held
out Bristol for the King. They made a sudden expedition to Wallingford,
in hopes of rescuing the Prince; but the garrison were on the alert, and
called out to them that, if they wanted the prince, they might have
him, but only tied hand and foot, and shot from a mangonel; and Edward
himself, appearing on the walls, declared that, if they wished to save
his life, they must retreat.

This violent threat went beyond the instructions of Leicester, who
removed his nephew from the keeping of this garrison, and placed him at

But Simon was made to feel that he had little control over his
followers, and especially over his wild sons, who had learnt no respect
to authority at all, and outran in their violence even the doings of the
Lusignan family. Henry de Montfort seized all the wool in England, which
was sold for his profit, while Simon and Guy fitted out a fleet and
plundered the vessels in the Channel, without distinction of English or
foreigners, and thus turned aside the popularity which Leicester had
hitherto enjoyed in London. The Barons, too, already discontented at
having only changed their masters, so as to have the mighty Montfort
over them instead of the weak Plantagenet, could not bear with the
additional lawlessness of sons who made themselves vile without
restraint. A violent quarrel arose between these youths and Earl Gilbert
de Clare, who challenged them to a joust at Dunstable; but their father,
dreading fatal consequences, forbade it, and Gloucester retired to his
estates in high displeasure.

Here he was joined by his brother Thomas, who came full of descriptions
of the princely courtesy and sweetness of manner of the royal Edward,
which contrasted so strongly with the presumption of his upstart cousins
that the young Earl was brought over to concert measures with the
Prince’s friend, Roger Mortimer.

In order to overawe the Welsh borderers, who were much attached to
Edward, Simon had carried his captive to Hereford Castle, whither Thomas
de Clare now returned as his attendant, taking with him a noble steed,
provided by Mortimer, with a message that his friends would be on the
alert to receive him at a certain spot.

Edward mounted his horse, rode out with his guard, set them to race, and
looked on as umpire, till, their steeds being duly tired, he galloped
off, and the last they saw of him was far in advance meeting with a
party of spears, beneath the pennon of Mortimer. And now the Earl of
Leicester experienced that “success but signifies vicissitude.” After
his reign of one year, his fall was rapid.

The Earl of Gloucester had at once joined Edward, and in vain did
Leicester use the King’s name in calling on the military tenants of the
Crown; only a small proportion of his old partisans came to his aid, and
he remained on the banks of the Severn, waiting to be joined by his son
Simon, who had been besieging Pevensey, but now marched to his aid.

On his way, young Simon summoned Winchester, but was refused admittance.
However, the treacherous monks of St. Swithin’s let in his forces
through a window of their convent on the wall, and the city was horribly
sacked, especially the Jewry. Afterward he went to the family castle
of Kenilworth, where he awaited orders from his father. A woman named
Margot informed the Prince that it was the habit of Simon and his
knights to sleep outside the walls, for the convenience of bathing in
the summer mornings; and Edward, suddenly making a night-march, fell
upon them while in the very act, and took most of them prisoners, Simon
just escaping into the castle with his pages in their shirts and
drawers, all his baggage and treasures being taken.

Ignorant of this disaster, the Earl of Leicester proceeded, in hopes of
effecting a junction with his son, and had just arrived at Evesham when
banners were seen in the distance. Nicholas, his barber, who pretended
to have some knowledge of heraldry, declared that they belonged to Sir
Simon’s troops; but the Earl, not fully satisfied, bade him mount the
church-steeple and look from thence. The affrighted barber recognized
the Lions of England, the red chevrons of De Clare, the azure bars of
Mortimer, waving over a forest of lances.

“We are dead men, my Lord,” he said, as he descended.

And truly, when the Earl beheld the marshalling of the hostile array, he
could not help exclaiming, “They have learnt this style from me! Now God
have mercy on our souls, for our bodies are the Prince’s!”

Henry, the only son who was with him, exhorted him not to despair.

“I do not, my son,” replied the Earl; “but your presumption, and the
pride of your brothers, have brought me to this pass. I firmly believe I
shall die for the cause of God and justice.”

He prayed, and received the sacrament, as he always did before going
into battle; then arrayed his troops, bringing out the poor old King, in
order to make his followers imagine themselves the Royalists. He tried
in vain to force the road to Kenilworth; then drew his troops into a
compact circle, that last resource of gallant men in extremity, such
as those of Hastings and Flodden. Their ranks were hewn down little by
little, and the Prince’s troops were pressing on, when a lamentable cry
was heard, “Save me! save me! I am Henry of Winchester!”

Edward knew the voice, and, springing to the rescue, drew out a wounded
warrior, whom he bore away to a place of safety. In his absence,
Leicester’s voice asked if quarter was given.

“No quarter for traitors,” said some revengeful Royalist; and at the
same moment Henry de Montfort fell, slain, at his father’s feet.

“By the arm of St. James, it is time for me to die!” cried the Earl;
and, grasping his sword in both hands, he rushed into the thickest of
the foe, and, after doing wonders, was struck down and slain. Terrible
slaughter was done on the “desperate ring;” one hundred and sixty
knights, with all their followers, were slain, and scarcely twelve
gentlemen survived. The savage followers of Mortimer cut off the head
and hands of Leicester, and carried the former as a present to their
lady; but this was beyond the bounds of the orders of Prince Edward, who
caused the corpses of his godfather and cousin to be brought into the
abbey church of Evesham, wept over the playfellow of his childhood, and
honored the burial with his presence.

The battle of Evesham was fought on the 4th of August, 1265, fourteen
months after the misused victory of Lewes.

So died the Earl of Leicester, termed, by the loving people of England,
“Sir Simon the Righteous”--a man of high endowments and principles of
rectitude unusual in his age. His devotion was sincere, his charities
extensive, his conduct always merciful--no slight merit in one bred up
among the savage devastators of Provence--and his household accounts
prove the order and religious principle that he enforced. His friends
were among the staunch supporters of the English Church, and, unlike
his father, who thought to merit salvation as the instrument of the
iniquities of Rome, he disregarded such injunctions and threats of hers
as disagreed with the plain dictates of conscience. Thinking for himself
at length led to contempt of lawful authority; but it was an age when
the shepherds were fouling the springs, and making their own profit of
the flock; and what marvel was it if the sheep went astray?

He was enthusiastically loved by the English, especially the commonalty,
who, excommunicate as he was, believed him a saint, imputed many
miracles to his remains, and murmured greatly that he was not canonized.
After-times may judge him as a noble character, wrecked upon great
temptations, and dying as befitted a brave and resigned man drawn into
fatal error.

  “If ever, in temptation strong,
  Thou left’st the right path for the wrong,
  If every devious step thus trode
  Still led thee further from the road,
  Dread thou to speak presumptuous doom
  On noble ‘Montfort’s’ lowly tomb;
  But say, ‘he died a gallant knight,
  With sword in hand, for England’s right.’”

For, though the rebellion cannot be justified, it was by the efforts and
strife of this reign that Magna Charta was fixed, not as the concession
wrung for a time by force from a reluctant monarch, but as the basis of
English law.

Prince Edward, in the plenitude of his victory, did not attempt to
repeal it; but, at a parliament held at Marlborough, 1267, led his
father to accept not this only, but such of the regulations of the
Barons as were reasonable, and consistent with the rigid maintenance of
the authority of the Crown.

Evesham was the overthrow of the Montfort family. Henry was there slain
with his father--though, according to ballad lore, he had another
fate--the blow only depriving him of sight, and he being found on the
field by a “baron’s faire daughter,” she conveyed him to a place of
safety, tended him, and finally became his wife, and made him “glad
father of pretty Bessee.” For years he lived and throve (as it appears)
as the blind beggar of Bethnal Green, till his daughter, who had been
brought up as a noble lady, was courted by various suitors. On her
making known, however, that she was a beggar’s daughter,

  “‘Nay, then,’ quoth the merchant, ‘thou art not for me.’
  ‘Nor,’ quoth the inn-holder, ‘my wiffe shalt thou be.’
  ‘I lothe,’ said the gentle, ‘a beggar’s degree;
  And therefore adewe, my pretty Bessee.’”

However, there was a gentle knight whose love for “pretty Bessee” was
proof against the discovery of her father’s condition and the entreaties
of his friends; and after he had satisfied her by promises not to
despise her parents, the blind beggar counted out so large a portion,
that he could not double it, and on the wedding-day the beggar revealed
his own high birth, to the general joy.

Unfortunately, it does not appear as if Henry de Montfort might not have
prospered without his disguise. His mother was generously treated by
the King and Prince, and retired beyond sea with her sons Amaury and
Richard; and her daughter Eleanor, and his brother Simon, a desperate
and violent man, held out Kenilworth for some months, which was with
difficulty reduced; afterward he joined his brother Guy, and wandered
about the Continent, brooding on revenge for his father’s death.

The last rebel to be overcome was the brave outlaw, Adam de Gourdon,
who, haunting Alton Wood as a robber after the death of Leicester, was
sought out by Prince Edward, subdued by his personal prowess, and led to
the feet of the King.

The brave and dutiful Prince became the real ruler of the kingdom, and
England at length reposed.


  _Kings of England_.
   1216. Henry III.
   1272. Edward I.

  _Kings of Scotland_.
   1249. Alexander III.
   1285. Margaret.

  _Kings of France_.
   1226. Louis IX.
   1270. Philippe III.
   1285. Philippe IV.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1273. Rodolph I.

   1265. Clement IV.
   1271. Gregory X.
   1276. Innocent V.
   1277. John XXI.
   1277. Nicholas III.
   1281. Martin IV.
   1285. Honorius IV.
   1288. Nicholas IV.

A hundred and seventy years had elapsed since the hills of Auvergne had
re-echoed the cry of _Dieu le veult_, and the Cross had been signed on
the shoulders of Godfrey and Tancred. Jerusalem had been held by the
Franks for a short space; but their crimes and their indolence had led
to their ruin, and the Holy City itself was lost, while only a few
fortresses, detached and isolated, remained to bear the name of the
Kingdom of Palestine. The languishing Royal Line was even lost, becoming
extinct in Conradine, the grandson of Friedrich II. and of Yolande of
Jerusalem, that last member of the house of Hohenstaufen on whom the
Pope and Charles of Anjou wreaked their vengeance for the crimes of his
fore-fathers. Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis, but of utterly
dissimilar character, had seized Conradine’s kingdom of the two
Sicilies, and likewise assumed his title to that of Jerusalem, thus
acquiring a personal interest in urging on another Crusade for the
recovery of Palestine.

Less and less of that kingdom existed. Bibars, or Bendocdar
Elbondukdari, one of the Mameluke emirs, who had become Sultan of Egypt
during the confusion that followed the death of Touran Chah, was so
great a warrior that he was surnamed the Pillar of the Mussulman
Religion and the Father of Victories--titles which he was resolved to
merit by exterminating the Franks. Cesarea, Antioch, Joppa, fell into
his hands in succession, and Tripoli and Acre alone remained in the
possession of the Templars and Hospitallers, who appealed to their
brethren in Europe for assistance.

The hope of a more effective crusade than his first had never been
absent from the mind of Louis IX.; he had carried it with him through
court and camp, dwelt on it while framing wise laws for his people,
instructing his nobles, or sitting to do justice beneath the spreading
oak-tree of Vincennes. Since his return from Damietta, he had always
lived as one devoted, never wearing gold on his spurs nor in his robes,
and spending each moment that he could take from affairs of state in
prayer and reading of the Scripture; and though his health was still
extremely frail and feeble, his resolution was taken.

On the 23d of March, 1267, he convoked his barons in the great hall of
the Louvre, and entered the assembly, holding in his hand that sacred
relic, the Crown of Thorns, which had been found by the Empress Helena
with the True Cross. He then addressed them, describing the needs of
their Eastern brethren, and expressing his own intention of at once
taking the Cross. There was a deep and mournful silence among his
hearers, who too well remembered the sufferings of their last campaign,
and who looked with despair at their beloved King’s worn and wasted
form, so weak that he could hardly bear the motion of a horse, and yet
bent on encountering the climate and the labors that had well-nigh
proved fatal to him before.

The legate, the Cardinal Ottoboni, then made an exhortation, after which
Louis assumed the Cross, and was imitated by his three sons, Philippe,
Tristan, and Pierre, and his son-in-law, Thibault, King of Navarre, with
other knights, but in no great numbers, for the barons were saying to
each other, that it was one of the saddest days that France had ever
seen. “If we take the Cross,” they said, “we lose our King; if we take
it not, we lose our God, since we will not take the Cross for Him.” The
Sire de Joinville absolutely refused on account of his vassals, and
openly pronounced it a mortal sin to counsel the King to undertake such
an expedition in his present state of health; but Louis’ determination
was fixed, and in the course of the next three years he collected a
number of gallant young Crusaders.

He had always had a strong influence over his nephew, Edward of England,
and the conclusion of the war with Montfort, as well as a personal
escape of his own, had at this period strongly disposed the Prince to
acts of devotion. While engaged in a game at chess with a knight at
Windsor Castle, a sudden impulse seized him to rise from his seat. He
had scarcely done so, when a stone, becoming detached from the groined
roof over his head, fell down on the very spot where he had been
sitting. His preservation was attributed by him to Our Lady of
Walsingham, and the beautiful church still existing there attests the
veneration paid to her in consequence, while he further believed himself
marked out for some especial object, and eagerly embraced the proposal
of accompanying the French King on his intended voyage.

Ottoboni preached the Crusade at Northampton on the 25th of June, 1269,
after which he gave the Cross to King Henry, to the Princes Edward and
Edmund, to their cousin Henry of Almayne, son to Richard of Cornwall,
and to about one hundred and fifty knights. The King intended as little
to go on the expedition as on any of the former ones, and he soon made
over his Cross to his son. Edward, who was fully in earnest, made every
arrangement for the safety of the realm in his absence, taking with
him the turbulent Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and appointing
guardians for his two infant sons, John and Henry, in case the old King
should die during his absence. His wife, Eleanor of Castile, insisted on
accompanying him; and when the perils of the expedition were represented
to her, she replied, “Nothing ought to part those whom God hath joined
together. The way to heaven is as near, if not nearer, from Syria as
from England or my native Spain.”

The last solemnity in which Edward assisted before his departure was the
translation of the remains of Edward the Confessor to their new tomb in
Westminster Abbey, the shrine of gold and precious stones being borne
upon the shoulders of King Henry himself, after which the princes took
leave of their father, and commenced their expedition, meeting on the
way their uncle, the King of the Romans, who was bringing home a young
German wife, Beatrice von Falkmart. Embarking at Dover on the 20th of
August, 1270, the princes made all speed to hasten across France, so as
to come up with Louis, who had set sail from Aigues Mortes on the 1st of
July, with his three sons, his daughter Isabelle, and her husband the
King of Navarre, and Isabelle the wife of his eldest son Philippe, as
well as a gallant host of Crusaders. He had appointed Cagliari as the
place of meeting with Edward of England, and with his brother Charles,
King of Sicily; but he found his sojourn there inconvenient; the Pisans,
who held Sardinia, were unfriendly, provisions were scarce, and the
water unwholesome, and he became desirous of changing his quarters.

The reasons which conduced to his fatal resolution have never been
clearly ascertained: whether he was influenced by his brother, the King
of Sicily, who might reasonably wish to see the Moors of Tunis, his near
neighbors, overpowered; or whether he was drawn along by the impatience
of his forces, who were weary of inaction, and thought the plunder of
any Mahometan praiseworthy; or whether he had any hope of converting
the King of Tunis, Omar, with whom he had at one time been in
correspondence. When some ambassadors from Tunis were at his court, a
converted Jew had been baptized in their presence, and he had said to
them, “Tell your master that I am so desirous of the salvation of his
soul, that I would spend the rest of my life in a Saracen prison, and
never see the light of day, if I could render your King and his people
Christians like that man.” It does not seem improbable that Louis might
have hoped that his arrival might encourage Omar to declare himself a
Christian. But be this as it might, he sailed from Cagliari, and on the
17th of June appeared upon the coast of Africa, close to the ruins of
ancient Carthage.

All the inhabitants fled to the mountains, and the shore was deserted,
so that the French might have disembarked at once; but Louis hesitated,
and waited till the next morning, when they found the coast covered
with Moors. However, the landing proceeded, the Moors all taking
flight--happily for the Christians, for their disorder was so great,
that a hundred men might have prevented their disembarkation. A
proclamation was then read, taking possession of the territory in the
name of our Lord, and of Louis, King of France. His servant.

The spot where the army had landed was a sandy island, a league in
length, and very narrow, separated from the mainland by a channel
fordable at low water, without any green thing growing on it, and with
only one spring of fresh water, which was guarded by a tower filled with
Moorish soldiers. A hundred men would have been sufficient to dislodge
them; but few horses had been landed, and those were injured by their
voyage, and the knights could do nothing without them. The men who
went in search of water were killed by the Moorish guard, and thirst,
together with the burning heat of the sun reflected by the arid sand,
caused the Christians to suffer terribly.

As to the King of Tunis, far from fulfilling Louis’ hopes, he sent him
word that he was coming to seek him at the head of 100,000 men, and that
he would only seek baptism on the field of battle; and at the same time
he seized and imprisoned every Christian in his dominions, threatening
to cut off all their heads the instant the French should attack Tunis.

After three days’ misery in the island, the Christians advanced across
the canal, and entered a beautiful green valley, where Carthage once had
stood, full of rich gardens, watered by springs arranged for irrigation.
The Moors buzzed round them, throwing their darts, but galloping off
on their advance without doing any harm. There was a garrison in the
citadel, which was all that remained of the once mighty town; and the
Genoese mariners, supported by the cavalry, undertook to dislodge them.
This was effected, and the ruinous city was in the hands of the French.
A number of the inhabitants had hidden themselves, with their riches, in
the extensive vaults and catacombs, and, to the shame of the Crusaders,
their employment was to search these wretches out and kill them, often
by filling the vaults with smoke.

Louis had promised his brother Charles to wait for him before marching
against Tunis, and messengers daily arrived with intelligence that the
Sicilian troops were embarking; but, as the days passed on, the malaria
of the ruined city and the heat of the climate were more fatal to the
French army than would have been a lost battle. The desert winds which
swept over them were hot as flame, and brought with them clouds of sand,
which blinded the men and choked up the wells, while the water of the
springs swarmed with insects, and all vegetable food failed. Disease
could not be long wanting in such a situation, and a week after the
taking of Carthage the whole camp was full of fever and dysentery, till
the living had not strength to bury the dead, but heaped them up in the
vaults and the trenches round the camp, where their decay added to the
infection of the air. The Moors charged up to the lines, and killed the
soldiers at their posts every day; and a poet within Tunis made the
menacing verses: “Frank, knowest thou not that Tunis is the sister of
Cairo? Thou wilt find before this town thy tomb, instead of the house
of Lokman; and the two terrible angels, Munkir and Nekir, will take the
place of the eunuch Sahil.”

Lokman and Sahil had been Louis’ guards in his Egyptian captivity, and
the Moorish poet contrasts them with the two angels whom the Mahometans
believed received and interrogated the dead.

As long as his strength lasted, Louis went about among the tents,
encouraging and succoring the sufferers; but nearly at the same time
himself and his two sons, Philippe and Tristan, were attacked by the
malady. On Tristan, a boy of sixteen, born in the last Crusade, the
illness made rapid progress, and the physicians judged it right to carry
him from his father’s tent and place him on board ship. His strength
rapidly gave way, and he expired soon after the transit. Louis
constantly inquired for his son, but was met by a mournful silence until
the eighth day, when he was plainly told of his death, and shed many
tears, though he trusted soon to rejoin his young champion of the Cross
in a better world. The Cardinal of Alba, the papal legate, was the next
to die; and Louis’ fever increasing, so that he could no longer attend
to the government of the army, he sent for his surviving children,
Philippe and Isabelle, and addressed to them a few words of advice,
giving them each a letter written with his own hand, in which the same
instructions were more developed. They were beautiful lessons in holy
living, piety, and justice, such as his descendant, the Dauphin, son of
Louis XV., might well call his most precious inheritance. He bids his
daughter to “have one desire that should never part from you--that is to
say, how you may most please our Lord; and set your heart on this, that,
though you should be sure of receiving no guerdon for any good you may
do, nor any punishment for doing evil, you should still keep from doing
what might displease God, and seek to do what may please Him, purely
for love of Him.” He desires her, in adornment, to incline “to the less
rather than the more,” and not to have too great increase of robes and
jewels, but rather to make of them her alms, and to remember that she
was an example to others. His parting blessing is, “May our Lord make
you as good in all things as I desire, and even more than I know how to
desire. Amen.”

To her he gave two ivory boxes, containing the scourge and hair-cloth
which he used in self-discipline, and which she afterward employed for
the same purpose, though unknown even to her confessor, until she
mentioned it at her death.

To Philippe he said much of justice and mercy, desiring him always to
take part against himself, and to give the preference to the weak over
the strong. He exhorted him to be careful in bestowing the benefices of
the Church, and to keep a careful watch over his nobles and governors,
lest they should injure the clergy or the poor. To reverence in church,
and to guarded language, he also exhorted him. Indeed, Joinville
records, that in all the years that he knew the King, he never heard
from him one careless mention of the name of God, or of the saints,
nor did he hear him ever lightly speak of the devil; and in this the
Seneschal so followed his example, that a blow was given in the Castle
of Joinville for every profane word, so that he hoped the ill habit was
there checked.

The good King thus concludes: “Dear son, I give thee all the blessing
that father can and ought to give to son. May God of His mercy guard and
defend thee from doing aught against His will; may He give thee grace to
do His will; so that He may be honored and served by thee; and this may
our Lord grant to me and thee by His great largesse, in such manner
that, after this mortal life, we may see and laud and love Him without

His children then took leave of him, and he remained with his
confessors, after which he received the last rites of the Church,
and was so fully conscious, that he made all the responses in the
penitential Psalms. When the Host was brought in, he threw himself out
of bed, and received it kneeling on the ground, after which he refused
to be replaced in bed, but lay upon a hair-cloth strewn with ashes. This
was on Sunday, at three o’clock, and from that time, while voice lasted,
he never ceased praising God aloud, and praying for his people. “Lord
God,” he often said, “give us grace to despise earthly things, and to
forget the things of this world, so that we may fear no evil;” or, “Make
Thy people holy, and watch over them.” On Monday he became speechless;
but he often looked around him _débonnairement_, and fixed his eyes on
the cross planted at the foot of his bed, while sometimes his attendants
caught a faint whisper of “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!”

It was the heavenly Jerusalem that was before him now; and after lying
as if asleep for half an hour, he joined his hands, saying, “Good Lord,
have mercy on the people that remain here, and bring them back to their
own land, that they may not fall into the hands of their enemies, nor
be forced to deny Thy holy name!” Soon after, “Father, into Thy hands I
commend my spirit,” and, looking up to heaven, “I will enter into Thy
house, and worship in Thy tabernacle.”

It was three o’clock in the afternoon of the 25th of August, when Louis
drew his last breath, and his chaplains were still standing round his
bed of ashes, when, the sound of trumpets fell on their ears. The
Sicilian fleet had anchored, and the troops had landed while all the
French were hanging in suspense on each report of the failing strength
of their King, and had not even watched for that long-delayed arrival.
The dead silence that met the newcomers was their first intimation of
the calamity; and when Charles of Anjou reached his brother’s tent, and
saw his calm features fixed in death, he threw himself on his knees, and
bitterly reproached himself for his tardiness in coming to his aid.

The Sicilian troops gained some advantages over the Moors, and it was
proposed to finish the enterprise St. Louis had begun; but sickness
still made great ravages in the army, and the new King, Philippe III.,
was so ill, that a speedy departure could alone save his life: a peace
was therefore concluded with the Tunisians, which was hardly signed when
Edward, with his English force, arrived upon the coast. He accompanied
the melancholy remains of the French army to Trapani in Sicily, whither
misfortunes still followed them. The young wife of Philippe III. was
thrown from her horse, and died in consequence; and his sister Isabelle,
and her husband the King of Navarre, both sank under the disorders
brought from Carthage. Broken in health and spirit, Philippe resolved to
desist from the Crusade, and both he and his uncle would have persuaded
the English to do the same, since their small force alone could effect
nothing; but Edward was undaunted. “I would go,” said he, “if I had no
one with me but Fowen, my groom.”

Philippe set out on his return to France, carrying with him five
coffins--those of his father, his brother, his wife, his sister, and
brother-in-law. Henry d’Almayne took the opportunity of his escort to
return to England, since the failing health of Henry III., and of his
brother Richard, made his presence desirable. He had arrived at Viterbo,
when he entered a church to hear mass. The Host had just been elevated,
when a loud voice broke on the solemnity of the service, “Henry, thou
traitor, thou shalt not escape!”

Henry turned, and beheld his cousins, Simon and Guy de Montfort,
the latter of whom had married the daughter of the Italian Count
Aldobrandini, and was living in the neighborhood. Their daggers were
raised, and Henry was unarmed. He sprang to the altar, and the two
officiating priests interposed; but the sacrilegious Montforts killed
one, and left the other for dead, and, piercing Henry again and again,
slew him at the foot of the altar. Then going to the church-door, where
their horses awaited them, one of them said, “I have satisfied my

“What!” said an attendant, “was not your father dragged through the
streets of Evesham?”

At these words the savages returned, and dragged the corpse by the hair
to the door of the church, after which they rode safely off.

Henry’s body was carried home, and buried in the Abbey of Hales. His
father probably never was aware of his death, for his own took place a
few months after.

The murderers were never traced out, and the remissness on the part of
Philippe and Charles left an impression on Edward’s mind that they had
connived at the murder. Of this Philippe at least may be acquitted; he
completed his sad journey, and buried his father at St. Denis, amid the
mourning of the whole nation, and yet their exultation, for miracles
were thought to be wrought at his tomb, and the Papal authority enrolled
him among the Saints. Old Joinville was cheered by a dream, in which he
beheld him resplendent with glory, and telling him that he would not
quickly depart from him, whereupon he placed an altar in the castle
chapel to his honor, and caused a mass to be said there every day.

St. Louis’ wisdom should be judged of rather by his admirable conduct in
daily life, and in the government of his people, than by his actions in
his unfortunate Crusades, when he seemed to give up all guidance and
common sense. At home he was so prudent, just, and wise, that few kings
have ever equalled him, and even the enemies of the faith that prompted
him cannot withhold their testimony that “virtue could be pushed no

In the spring, Edward, with 300 knights, sailed for Acre, and, on
arriving here [Footnote: Edward at Acre, 1271], made an expedition to
Nazareth, where he put all the garrison to the sword. He spent the winter
in Cyprus, and returned again to Syria in the spring; but he could never
collect more than 7,000 men under his standard, and an advance on
Jerusalem was impossible. He therefore remained in his camp before Acre,
while his knights went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and, while there, he
narrowly escaped becoming a seventh royal victim, to the Crusade.

The heat of the weather had affected his health, and he was lying on his
couch, only covered with a single garment, when a messenger approached
with letters purporting to be from the Emir of Joppa. While he was
reading them, the man suddenly drew out a poniard, and was striking at
his side, when Edward, perceiving his intention, caught the blow on his
arm, and threw him to the ground by a kick on the breast. The murderer
arose, and took aim again, but had only grazed his; forehead, when the
Prince dashed out his brains with a wooden stool. The attendants rushed
in, and were beginning to make up for their negligence by blows on the
corpse, when Edward stopped them, by sternly demanding what was the use
of striking a dead man.

It is on the authority of a Spanish chronicle that we hear that Eleanor,
apprehending that the weapon had been poisoned, at once sucked the blood
from her husband’s wounds. The fear was too well founded, and Edward was
in great danger; so that his men, in their first rage, were about to put
to death all their Saracen captives, when he roused himself to prevent
them, by urging, that not only were these men innocent, but that the
enemy would retaliate upon the many Christian pilgrims absent from the

The Grand Master of the Templars brought a surgeon, who gave hopes of
saving the gallant English prince by cutting out the flesh around the
wound. Edward replied by bidding him work boldly, and spare not; but
Eleanor could not restrain her lamentations, till he desired his brother
Edmund to lead her from the tent, when she was carried away, struggling
and sobbing, while Edmund roughly told her that it was better she should
scream and cry, than all England mourn and lament.

The operation was safely performed, but Edward made his will, and
resigned himself to die. In fifteen days, however, he was able to mount
his horse, and nearly at the same time Eleanor gave birth to her eldest
daughter, Joan, called of Acre, whose wild, headstrong temper was little
fitted to the child of a Crusade.

The army was weakened by sickness, and Edward decided on prolonging his
stay no longer; therefore, as soon as Eleanor had recovered, he left
the Holy Land, with keen regret, and many vows to return with a greater
force. These vows were never fulfilled, nor was it well they should
have been. Acre was a nest of corruption, filled with the scum of the
European nations, and a standing proof that the Latin Christians were
unworthy to hold a foot of the hallowed ground; and in 1291, eighteen
years after the conclusion of the seventh Crusade, it was taken by the
Sultan Keladun, after a brave defence by the Templars and Hospitallers;
and since that time Palestine has remained under the Mahometan,

Louis and Edward were the last princely Crusaders, though the idea lived
on in almost every high-souled man through the Middle Ages. Henry V.
and Philip le Bon of Burgundy both schemed the recovery of the Holy
Sepulchre; and the hope that chiefly impelled the voyage of Columbus
was, that his Western discoveries might open a way to the redemption of
the Holy Land. “Remember the Holy Sepulchre!” is a cry that can never
pass from the ears of men.

Death had been busy in England as in the crusading host, and the tidings
met Edward in Sicily that his home was desolate. His kind and generous
uncle, Richard, his gentle, affectionate father, and his two young
children, had all died during his absence. The grief that the stern
Edward showed for his father’s death was so overpowering, that Charles
of Sicily, who probably had little esteem for Henry, and thought the
kingdom a sufficient consolation, marvelled that he could grieve more
for an aged father than for two promising sons. “The Lord, who gave me
these, can give me other children,” said Edward; “but a father can never
be restored!”

Before his return to England, Edward obtained from Pope Gregory X.
justice upon the murderers of Henry d’Almayne. Simon was dead, but Guy
was declared incapable of inheriting or possessing property, or of
filling any office of trust, and was excommunicated and outlawed. After
Edward had left Italy, the unhappy man ventured to meet the Pope at
Florence in his shirt, with a halter round his neck, and implored that
his sentence might be changed to imprisonment. The Pope had pity on him,
and, after a confinement of eleven years, he was liberated, and returned
to his wife’s estates. He afterward was taken prisoner in the wars in
Sicily, but his subsequent fate does not appear.

The history of the last of the Crusaders must not be quitted without
mentioning that the scene of St. Louis’ death is now in the hands of the
French, and that the spot has been marked by a chapel erected by his
descendant, Louis Philippe; and that our own Edward sleeps in his
father’s church of Westminster, beneath a huge block, unornamented
indeed, but of the same rock as the hills of Palestine; nay, it is
believed that it is probably one of those great stones whereof it was
said; that not one should remain on another.

CAMEO XXXII. The CYMRY. (B.C. 66 A.D. 1269.)

In ancient times the whole of Europe seems to have been inhabited by the
Keltic nation, until they were dispossessed by the more resolute tribes
of Teuton origin, and driven to the extreme West, where the barrier
of rugged hills that guards the continent from the Atlantic waves has
likewise protected this primitive race from extinction.

Cym, or Cyn, denoting in their language “first,” was the root of their
name of Cymry, applied to the original tribe, and of which we find
traces across the whole map of Europe, beginning from the Cimmerian
Bosphorus, going on to the Cimbri, conquered by Marius, while in our own
country we still possess Cumberland and Cambria, the land inhabited by
the Cymry.

The Gael, another pure Keltic tribe, who followed the Cymry, have
bestowed more names, as living more near to the civilized world, and
being better known to history. Even in Asia Minor, a settlement of them
had been called Galatians, and the whole tract from the north of Italy
to the Atlantic was, to the Romans, Gallia. The name still survives in
the Cornouailles of Brittany and the Cornwall of England (both meaning
the horn of Gallia), in Gaul, in Galles, in the Austrian and Spanish
Galicias, in the Irish Galway and the Scottish Galloway, while the Gael
themselves are still a people in the Highlands.

Mingling with the Teutons, though receding before them, there was
a third tribe, called usually by the Teuton word “_Welsh_”
 meaning strange; and these, being the first to come in contact with
the Romans, were termed by them Belgae. The relics of this
appellation are found in the German “Welschland,” the name given
to Italy, because the northern part of that peninsula had a Keltic
population, in Wallachia, in the Walloons of the Netherlands, who have
lately assumed the old Latinized name of Belgians, and in the Welsh of
our own Wales.

This last was the region, scarcely subdued by the Romans, where the
Cymry succeeded in maintaining their independence, whilst the Angles and
Saxons gained a footing in the whole of the eastern portion of Britain.
The Britons were for the most part Christian, and partly civilized by
the Romans; but there was a wild element in their composition, and about
the time of the departure of the Roman legions there had been a reaction
toward the ancient Druidical religion, as if the old national faith was
to revive with the national independence. The princes were extremely
savage and violent, and their contemporary historian, Gildas, gives a
melancholy account of their wickedness, not even excepting the great
Pendragon, Arthur, in spite of his twelve successful battles with the
Saxons. Merlin, the old, wild soothsayer of romance, seems to have
existed at this period under the name of Merddyn-wilt, or the Wild, and
bequeathed dark sayings ever since deemed prophetic, and often curiously

Out of the attempt to blend the Druid philosophy with Christianity arose
the Pelagian heresy, first taught by Morgan, or Pelagius, a monk of
Bangor, and which made great progress in Wales even after its refutation
by St. Jerome. It was on this account that St. Germain preached in
Wales, and produced great effect. The Pelagians gave up their errors,
and many new converts were collected to receive the rite of baptism at
Mold, in Flintshire, when a troop of marauding enemies burst, on them.
The neophytes were unarmed and in their white robes, but, borne up by
the sense of their new life, they had no fears for their body, and with
one loud cry of “Hallelujah!” turned, with the Bishop at their head, to
meet the foe. The enemy retreated in terror; and the name of Maes Garman
still marks the scene of this bloodless victory.

After this the heresy died away, but the more innocent customs of the
Druids continued, and the system of bards was carried on, setting apart
the clergy, the men of wisdom, and the poets, by rites derived from
ancient times. Be it observed, that a Christian priest was not
necessarily of one of the Druidical or Bardic orders, although this was
generally preferred. Almost all instructions were still oral, and, for
convenience of memory, were drawn up in triads, or verses of three--a
mystic number highly esteemed. Many of these convey a very deep
philosophy. For instance, the three unsuitable judgments in any person
whatsoever: The thinking himself wise--the thinking every other person
unwise--the thinking all he likes becoming in him. Or the three
requisites of poetry: An eye that can see Nature--a heart that can feel
Nature--a resolution that dares to follow Nature. And the three objects
of poetry: Increase of goodness--increase of understanding--increase
of delight.

Such maxims were committed to the keeping of the Bards, who were
admitted to their office after a severe probation and trying initiatory
rites, among which the chief was, that they should paddle alone, in
a little coracle, to a shoal at some distance from the coast of
Caernarvonshire--a most perilous voyage, supposed to be emblematic both
of the trials of Noah and of the troubles of life. Afterward the Bard
wore sky-blue robes, and was universally honored, serving as the
counsellor, the herald, and the minstrel of his patron. The domestic
Bard and the chief of song had their office at the King’s court, with
many curious perquisites, among which was a chessboard from the King.
The fine for insulting the Bard was 6 cows and 120 pence; for slaying
him, 126 cows. With so much general respect, and great powers of
extemporizing, the Bards were well able to sway the passions of
the nation, and greatly contributed to keep up the fiery spirit of
independence which the Cymry cherished in their mountains.

When the Saxons began to embrace Christianity, and Augustine came on
his mission from Rome, the Welsh clergy, who had made no attempts at
converting their enemies, looked on him with no friendly eyes. He
brought claims, sanctioned by Gregory the Great, to an authority over
them inconsistent with that of the Archbishop of Caerleon; and the
period for observing Easter was, with them, derived from the East, and
differed by some weeks from that ordained by the Roman Church. An old
hermit advised the British clergy, who went to meet Augustine, to try
him by the test of humility, and according as he should rise to greet
them, or remain seated, to listen to his proposals favorably or
otherwise. Unfortunately, Augustine retained his seat: they rejected his
plans of union; and he told them that, because they would not preach to
the Angles the way of life, they would surely at their hands suffer death.

Shortly after, the heathen king, Ethelfrith, attacked Brocmail, the
Welsh prince of Powys, who brought to the field 1,200 monks of Bangor
to pray for his success. The heathens fell at once on the priests, and,
before they could be protected, slew all except fifty; and this, though
the Welsh gained the victory, was regarded by the Saxon Church as a
judgment, and by the Welsh, unhappily, as a consequence of Augustine’s
throat. The hatred became more bitter than ever, and the Welsh would not
even enter the same church with the Saxons, nor eat of a meal of which
they had partaken.

Cadwallader, the last of the Pendragons, was a terrible enemy to the
kings of Mercia and Northumbria, and with him the Cymry consider that
their glory ended. Looking on themselves for generation after generation
as the lawful owners of the soil, and on the Saxons as robbers, they
showed no mercy in their forays, and inflicted frightful cruelties on
their neighbors on the Marches. Offa’s curious dyke, still existing in
Shropshire, was a bulwark raised in the hope of confining them within
their own bounds:

“That Offa (when he saw his countries go to wrack), From bick’ring with
his folk, to keep the Britons back, Cast up that mightly mound of eighty
miles in length, Athwart from sea to sea.”

The Danish invasions, by ruining the Saxons, favored the Welsh; and
contemporary with Alfred lived Roderic Mawr, or the Great, who had his
domains in so peaceful a state, that Alfred turned thither for aid in
his revival of learning, and invited thence to his court his bosom
friend Asser, the excellent monk and bard. Roderic divided his
dominions--Aberfraw, or North Wales, Dinasvawr, or South Wales, and
Powys, or Shropshire--between his three sons; but they became united
again under his grandson, Howell Dha, the lawgiver of Wales.

Actuated perhaps by the example of Alfred, Howell collected his clergy
and bards at his hunting-lodge at Tenby, a palace built of peeled rods,
and there, after fasting and praying for inspiration, the collective
wisdom of the kingdom compiled a body of laws, which the King afterward
carried in person to Rome to receive the confirmation of the Pope; and
much edified must the Romans have been if they chanced to glance over
the code, since, besides many wise and good laws, it regulated the
minute etiquettes and perquisites of the royal household. If any one
should insult the King, the fine was to be, among other valuables, a
golden dish as broad as the royal face, and as thick as the nail of
a husbandman who has been a husbandman, seven years. Each officer’s
distance from the royal fire was regulated, and even the precedence of
each officer’s horse in the stable--proving plainly the old saying, that
the poorer and more fiery is a nation, the more precise is their point
of honor. It seems to have been in his time, as a more enlightened
prince, that the Welsh conformed their time of keeping Easter to that of
the rest of the Western Church. But Howell was no longer independent of
the English: he had begun to pay a yearly tribute of dogs, horses, and
hawks, to Ethelstane, and the disputes that followed his death brought
the Welsh so much lower, that Edgar the Peaceable easily exacted his
toll of wolves’ heads; and Howell of North Wales was one of the eight
royal oarsmen who rowed the Emperor of Britain to the Minster of St.
John, on the river Dee.

The Welsh had destroyed all their wolves before the close of Dunstan’s
regency, and Ethelred the Unready not being likely to obtain much
respect, the tribute was discontinued, until the marauding Danes again
exacted it under another form and title of “Tribute of the Black Army.”

Fierce quarrels of their own prevented the Welsh from often taking
advantage of the disturbances of England. As in Ireland, the right of
gavelkind was recognized; yet primogeniture was also so far regarded as
to make both claims uncertain; and the three divisions of Wales were
constantly being first partitioned, and then united, by some prince who
ruled by the right of the strongest, till dethroned by another, who, to
prove his right of birth, carried half his genealogy in his patronymic.

Thus Llewellyn ap Sithfylht, under whom “the earth brought forth double,
the cattle increased in great number, and there was neither beggar nor
poor man from the South to the North Sea,” was slain in battle, in 1021,
by Howell ap Edwin ap Eneon ap Owayn ap Howell Dha, who reigned over
South Wales till the son of Llewellyn, or, rather, Gryflyth ap Llewellyn
ap Sithfylht ap, &c., coming to age, dispossessed him, and gained all
Wales. It was this Gryffyth who received and sheltered Fleance, the
son of Banquo, when flying from Macbeth, and gave him in marriage his
daughter Nesta, who became the mother of Walter, the ancestor of the
line of kings shadowed in Macbeth’s mirror.

In the early part of Gryffyth’s reign, the Welsh flourished greatly.
Earl Godwin, in his banishment, made friends with him, and, favored by
Saxon treachery, he overran Herefordshire, and pillaged the cathedral.
But, after Godwin’s death, Harold, as Earl of Wessex, deemed it time
to repress these inroads, and, training his men to habits of diet and
methods of warfare that rendered them as light and dexterous as the wild
mountaineers, he pursued them into their own country, and burnt the
palace and ships at Rhuddlan, while Gryffyth was forced to take refuge
in one of his vessels.

Harold set up a pillar with the inscription, “Here Harold conquered;”
 and the Welsh gave hostages, and promised to pay tribute, while Harold
erected a hunting-seat in Monmouthshire, and made an ordinance that any
Welshman seen bearing weapons beyond Offa’s dyke should lose his right
hand. Welshwomen might marry Englishmen, but none of the highborn Cymry
might aspire to wed an Englishwoman. Hating the prince under whom
they had come to so much disgrace, the Welsh themselves captured poor
Gryffyth, and sent his head, his hands, and the beak of his ship, to
Edward the Confessor, from whom they accepted the appointment of three
of their native princes to the three provinces.

Thus the strength of Wales was so far broken, that William the Conqueror
had only to bring a force with him, under pretext of a pilgrimage to the
shrine of St. David, to obtain the submission of the princes; and, in
fact, the Cymry found the Norman nobles far more aggressive neighbors
than the Angles had been since their first arrival in Britain.

The mark, or frontier, once the kingdom of Mercia, was now called the
March of Wales, where the Norman knights began to effect settlements, by
the right of the strongest, setting up their impregnable castles, round
which the utmost efforts of the Welsh were lost. Martin de Tours was one
of the first, and his glittering host of mail-clad men so overawed the
inhabitants of Whitchurch that they readily submitted, and he quietly
established himself in their bounds, treating them, as it appears, with
more fairness and friendliness than was then usual. He was a great
chess-player, and the sport descended from father to son, even among the
peasantry of Whitchurch, who long after were most skilful in the game.

Hugh Lupus, the fierce old Earl of Chester, was likewise a Lord Marcher,
and had, like the Bishop of Durham, the almost royal powers of a Count
Palatine, because, dwelling on the frontier, it was necessary that
the executive power should be prompt and absolute. Indeed, the Lords
Marchers, as these border barons were called, lived necessarily in a
state of warfare, which made it needful to entrust them with greater
powers than their neighbors, around whom they formed a sort of _cordon_,
to protect them from the forays of the half-savage Welsh.

Twenty-one baronies were formed in this manner along the March of Wales,
which constantly travelled toward the west. Robert Fitzaymon, by an
alliance with one Welsh chief, dispossessed another of Glamorgan, which
he left to his daughter Amabel, the wife of Earl Robert of Gloucester;
and Gilbert de Clare, commonly called Strongbow (the father of the Irish
Conqueror), obtained a grant from Henry I. of Chepstow and Pembroke, but
had to fight hard for the lands which had more lawful owners. In and
out among these Lords Marchers, and making common cause with them,
were settlements of Flemings. Flanders, that commercial state where
cloth-weaving first flourished as a manufacture, had suffered greatly
from the inundations of the sea, and the near connection subsisting
between the native princes and the sons of the Conqueror had led to an
intercourse, which ended in the weavers, who had lost their all, being
invited by Henry I. to take up their abode in Pembrokeshire, where they
carried on their trade while defending themselves against the Welsh,
and thus first commenced the manufactures of England. Resolute in
resistance, though not rash nor aggressive, and of industrious habits,
they acted as a great protection to the English counties, and down even
to the time of Charles I. they had a language of their own.

Owayn ap Gwynned, King of Aberfraw, or North Wales, had many wars
with Henry II.; and, uniting with the bard king, Owayn Cyvelioc, of
Powysland, did fearful damage to the English, which Henry attempted to
revenge by an incursion into Merionethshire; but though he gained a
battle at Ceiroc, he was forced to retreat through the inhospitable
country, his troops harassed by the weather, and cut off by the Welsh,
who swarmed on the mountains, so that his army arrived at Chester in
a miserable state. He had many unfortunate hostages in his hands, the
children of the noblest families, and on these he wreaked a cowardly
vengeance, cutting off the noses and ears of the maidens, and putting
out the eyes of the boys.

Well might Becket, in his banishment, exclaim, on hearing such tidings,
“His wise men are become fools; England reels and stagers like a drunken

“You will never subdue Wales, unless Heaven be against them,” said an
old hermit to the King.

However, Henry had been carried by a frightened horse over a ford, of
which the old prophecies declared that, when it should be crossed by a
freckled king, the power of the Cymry should fall, and this superstition
took away greatly from satisfaction in the victory. The Welsh princes
were becoming habituated to the tribute, and in 1188, under pretext of
preaching a Crusade, Archbishop Baldwin came into Wales, and asserted
the long-disputed supremacy of Canterbury over the Welsh bishopries.
He was attended by Gerald Barry, or Giraldus Cambrensis, a half-Norman
half-Welsh ecclesiastic, who was one of the chief historians of the
period, and had the ungracious office of tutor to Prince John.

When Owayn ap Gwynned died, in 1169, the kingdom of Aberfraw, or North
Wales, was reduced to the isle of Anglesea and the counties of Merioneth
and Caernarvon, with parts of Denbigh and Cardigan. A great dispute
broke out for the succession. Jorwarth, the oldest son, was set aside
because he had a broken nose; and Davydd, the eldest son by a second
wife, seized the inheritance, and slew all the brethren save one, named
Madoc, who sailed away to the West in search of new regions. Several
years after, he again made his appearance in Aberfraw, declaring that he
had found a pleasant country, and was come to collect colonists, with
whom, accordingly, he departed, and returned no more. Many have believed
that his Western Land was no other than America, and on this supposition
Drayton speaks of him, in the “Polyolbion,” as having reached the great
continent “Ere the Iberian powers had found her long-sought bay,
or any western ear had heard the sound of Florida.”

Southey has, in his poem, made Madoc combine with the Aztecs in the
settlement of Mexico, but traces were said to be found of habits and
countenances resembling those of the Welsh among the Indians of the
Missouri; and, in our own days, the traveller Mr. Buxton was struck by
finding the Indians of the Rocky Mountains weaving a fabric resembling
the old Welsh blanket. If this be so, Christianity and civilization must
have died out among Madoc’s descendants: but the story is one of the
exciting riddles of history, such as the similar one of the early
Norwegian discovery of America.


  _King of England_.
   1272. Edward I.

  _Kings of Scotland_.
   1249. Alexander III.
   1285. Margaret.

  _Kings of France_.
   1270. Philippe III.
   1235. Philippe IV.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1273. Rodolph I.

   1271. Gregory X.
   1276. Innocent V.
   1277. John XXI.
   1277. Nicholas III.
   1281. Martin IV.
   1288. Nicholas IV.

Never was coronation attended by more outward splendor or more heartfelt
joy than was that of Edward I. and Eleanor of Castile, when, fresh from
the glory of their Crusade, they returned to their kingdom.

Edward was the restorer of peace after a lengthened civil strife; his
prowess was a just subject of national pride, and the affection of his
subjects was further excited by the perils he had encountered. Not only
had he narrowly escaped the dagger of the Eastern assassin, but while at
Bordeaux, during his return, while the royal pair were sitting on the
same couch, a flash of lightning had passed between them, leaving
them uninjured, but killing two attendants who stood behind them.
At Châlons-sur-Marne he had likewise been placed in great danger by
treachery. The Count de Châlons had invited him to a tournament, and he
had accepted, contrary to the advice of the Pope, who warned him of evil
designs; but he declared that no king ever refused such a challenge, and
arrived at Châlons with a gallant following. The Pope’s suspicions
were verified; the Count, after breaking a lance with the King, made a
sudden, unchivalrous attack on him, throwing his arms round his body,
and striving to hurl him from the saddle; but Edward sat firm as a rock,
and, touching his horse with his spur, caused it to bound forward,
dragging the Count to the ground, where he lay, encumbered with his heavy
armor; and Edward, after harmlessly ringing on the steel with his sword,
forced him to surrender to an archer, as one unworthy to be reckoned a
knight. A fight had, in the meantime, taken place between the attendants
on either side, and so many of the men of the French party were killed,
that the fray was termed the Little Battle of Châlons.

Two years had elapsed since the death of King Henry, when, on the 18th
of August, 1274, the city of London welcomed their gallant, crusading
King. The rejoicings attested both his popularity and the prosperity
which his government had restored, for each house along the streets was
decked with silk and tapestry hangings, the aldermen showered handfuls
of gold and silver from their windows, and the fountains flowed with
white and red wine. The King rode along the streets, in the pride of
manhood, accompanied by his beautiful and beloved Eleanor; by his
brother Edmund and his young wife, Eveline of Lancaster; his sister
Margaret and her husband, Alexander II., the excellent King of Scotland;
the young Princess Eleanor, a girl of eleven, who alone survived of the
children left in England, and her infant brother Alfonso, who had been
born at Maine, and was looked on as heir to the throne. The Princess,
Joan of Acre, was left with her grandmother, the Queen of Castile.

The two kings, the princes, and nobles, on arriving at Westminster
Abbey, released their gallant steeds to run loose among the people, a
free gift to whoever should be able to catch them; for Edward had learnt
from his kindly father that the poor should have a plenteous share in
all his festivities.

There stood the West Minster on the bank of the Thames, rising amid
green fields and trees, at a considerable distance from the walled city,
and only connected with it by here and there a convent or church. Still
incomplete, the two fair towers showed the fresh creaminess of new
stonework, their chiselings and mouldings as yet untouched by time,
unsoiled by smoke, when Edward and his five hundred bold vassals sprang
from their steeds before the gates.

Among the train came a captive. Gaston de Monçda, Count de Béarn, one of
his Gascon vassals, had offended against him, and appealing to the
suzerain, the King of France, had been by him delivered up to Edward’s
justice, and was forced to ride in the gorgeous procession with a halter
round his neck.

As soon as Archbishop Kilwardby had anointed and crowned the King and
Queen, and the barons offered their homage, the unfortunate culprit came
forward on his knees to implore pardon, and Edward graced his coronation
by an act of clemency, restoring Gaston fully to his lands and honors,
and winning him thus to be his friend forever.

The royal banquet was held in Westminster Hall, and far beyond it.
Wooden buildings had been erected with openings at the top to let out
the smoke, and here, for a whole fortnight, cooking and feasting went on
without intermission. Every comer, of every degree, was made welcome,
and enjoyed the cheer, the pageantries, and the religious ceremonies of
the coronation. Three hundred and eighty head of cattle, four hundred
and thirty sheep, four hundred and fifty swine, besides eighteen wild
boars, and two hundred and seventy-eight flitches of bacon, with poultry
to the number of 19,660, were only a part of the provisions consumed.

However, the country still felt the effects of the lawless reign of
Henry III., and Edward’s first care was to set affairs on a more regular
footing. He sent commissioners to inquire into the title-deeds by which
all landed proprietors held their estates, and, wherever these were
defective, exacted, a fee for freshly granting them. The inquisition
might be expedient, considering the late condition of the nation,
but the King’s own impoverished exchequer caused it to be carried on
ungraciously, and great offence was given. When called on to prove
his claims, the Earl Warrenne drew his sword, saying, “This is the
instrument by which I hold my lands, and by the same I mean to defend
them. Our forefathers, who came in with William, the Bastard, acquired
their lands by their good swords. He did not conquer alone; they were
helpers and sharers with him.” The stout Earl’s title was truly found
amply sufficient!’

Not so was it with the Jews, who inhabited England in great numbers,
and were found through purchase, usury, or mortgage, to have become
possessors of various estates, which conferred on them the power of
appearing on juries, of, in some cases, presenting to church benefices,
and of the wardship of vassals. This was a serious grievance; and the
King interfered by decreeing that, in every instance, the lands should
be restored either to the original heirs on repayment of the original
loan, or disposed of to other Christians on the same terms. The King
was, by long custom of the realm, considered the absolute master of the
life and property of every Jew in his dominions, so that he was thought
to be only taking his own when he exacted sums from them, or forced them
to pay him a yearly rate for permission to live in his country and to act
as money-lenders. Edward thus believed himself to be making a sacrifice
for the general good when he forbade the Jews ever to lend money on usury,
and in compensation granted them permission to trade without paying toll;
and he further took the best means he could discover for procuring the
conversion of this people. The Friars Preachers were commanded to instruct
them, and the royal bailiffs to compel their attendance on this teaching;
every favor was shown to proselytes, and a hospital was built for the
support of the poorer among them, and maintained by the poll-tax obtained
from their race by the King. Should a Jew be converted, the King at once
gave up his claim to his property, only stipulating that half should go
to support this foundation. One young maiden, child of a wealthy Jew of
London, on being converted, became a godchild of Edward’s eldest daughter,
Eleanor, whose name she received; and she was shortly after married to the
Count de la Marcho, the King’s cousin, and one of the noble line of
Lusignan--a plain proof that in the royal family there was not the loathing
for the Israelite race that existed in Spain.

The Jews were obliged to wear a distinctive mark on their dress--a
yellow fold of cloth cut in the form of the two tables of the Law; and,
thus distinguished, often became a mark for popular odium, which fastened
every accusation upon them, from the secret murder of Christian children
to the defacing of the King’s coin. There was, in fact, a great quantity
of light money in circulation, and as halfpence and farthings were
literally what their name declares--silver pennies cut into halves and
quarters--it was easy for a thief to help himself to a portion of the
edge. However, Edward called in these mutilated pieces, and issued a
coinage of halfpence and farthings--that which raised the delusive
hopes of the Welsh. The clipping became more evident than ever, and the
result was an order, that all suspected of the felony should be arrested
on the same day. Jews, as well as Christians were seized; the possession
of the mutilated coin was taken as a proof of guilt; and in 1279, after
a trial that occupied some months, and in which popular prejudice would
doubtless make the case strong against the Jews, two hundred and eighty
persons, male and female, were hanged on the same day; after which a
pardon was proclaimed.

The English nation continued to hold the Jews in detestation, which was
regarded as a religious duty, and, year after year, petitioned the King
to drive them out of his dominions; but his patience was sustained by
continual gifts from the persecuted race until the year 1287, when, for
some unknown offence, he threw into prison the whole of them in his
dominions, up to the number of 15,000; and though their release was
purchased by a gift of £12,000, in 1290, their sentence of banishment
was pronounced. He permitted them to carry away their property with
them, and sent his officers to protect them from injury or insult in
their embarkation; but in some instances the sailors, who hated their
freight, threw them overboard, and seized their treasures. These
murders, when proved, were punished with death; but it was hard to gain
justice for a Jew against a Christian: and the edict of banishment was
regarded by the nation as such a favor, that the King was rewarded by a
grant of a tenth from the clergy and a fifteenth from the laity.

The merchants had earlier given him a large subsidy as a return for the
treaty which he had made in their favor with Flanders, which derived its
wool from England. Edward was very anxious to promote manufactures here,
and had striven to do so by forbidding the importation of foreign cloth;
but this not succeeding, the mutual traffic was placed on a friendly
footing. There was violent jealousy of foreigners among the English,
and it was only in Edward’s time that merchants of other countries were
allowed to settle in England, and then only under heavy restrictions.

Edward I. was the sovereign who, more than any other since Alfred,
contributed to bring the internal condition of England into a state of
security for life and limb. Robberies and murders had become frightfully
common; so much so, that the Statute of Winton, in 1285, enacted that no
ditch, bush, or tree, capable of hiding a man, should be left within two
hundred feet of any highway. If anything like this had been previously
in force, it was no wonder that Davydd of Wales objected to having a
road made through his forest.

In all walled towns the gates were to be kept shut from sunset to
sunrise, and any stranger found at large after dark was liable to be
seized by the watch; nor could he find lodging at night unless his host
would be his surety. Thieves seem to have gone about in bands, so that
their capture was a matter of danger and difficulty, and therefore, on
the alarm of a felony, every man was to issue forth with armor according
to his degree, and raise the hue and cry from town to town till the
criminal was seized and delivered to the sheriff. The whole hundred was
answerable for his capture--a remnant of the old Saxon law, and a most
wise regulation, since it rendered justice the business of every man,
and also accustomed the peasantry to the use of arms, the great cause of
the English victories. Judges were first appointed to go on circuit in
the year 1285, when they were sent into every shire two or three times a
year to hold a general jail delivery. But Edward had to form his judges
as well as his constitution, for, in 1289, he discovered that the whole
bench were in the habit of receiving bribes, from the Grand Justiciary
downward: whereupon he threw them all into the Tower, banished the chief
offenders, degraded and fined the rest, and caused future judges to be
sworn to take neither gift nor fee, only to accept as much as a breakfast,
provided there was no excess.

Still, the jurymen, [Footnote: On Thomas á Becket’s last journey to
Canterbury, Raoul de Broc’s followers had cut off the tails of his
pack-horses. It was a vulgar reproach to the men of Kent that the
outrage had been punished by the growth of the same appendage on the
whole of the inhabitants of the county; and, whereas the English
populace applied the accusation to the Kentishmen, foreigners extended
it to the whole nation when in a humor for insult and abuse, such as
that of this unhappy prince.] who were as much witnesses as what we
now call jurors, were often liable to be beaten and maltreated in revenge,
and officers, called “justices of _trailebaston”_ were sent to search out
the like offences, which they did with success and good-will; and in,
order that speedy justice might be done in cases of minor importance,
local magistrates were appointed, the commencement of our present justices
of the peace. They were at first chosen by the votes of the freeholders,
but in Edward III.’s time began to be nominated by the Crown.

Robert Burnel, the Chancellor, Bishop of Bath and Wells, probably had
a great share in these enactments. He was a better Chancellor than
Bishop, but he left to his see the beautiful episcopal palace still in
existence at Wells. He also built a splendid castle at his native place,
Acton Burnel, where some of the early Parliaments were held.

These Parliaments were only summoned by Edward I. when in great want of
money, for in general he raised the needful sums by gifts and talliages,
and only in cases of unusual pressure did he call on his subjects for
further aid. Four knights were chosen from each shire, and two burgesses
[Footnote: For a lively picture of a trial of the thirteenth century,
see Sir F. Palgrave’s “Merchant and Friar.”] from every town, of
consequence; and, besides, bishops and the barons, who had their seats
by their rank; but the two houses were not always divided:--except,
indeed, that sometimes the Northern representatives met at York, the
Southern at Northampton, and the county palatine of Durham had a little
parliament to itself. Serving in Parliament was expensive and unpopular,
and the sheriff of the county had not only to preside over the election
of the member, but to send him safe to the place of meeting; and often
the Commons broke up as soon as they had granted the required sum,
leaving the Lords to deliberate on the laws, or to bring grievances
before the King, such things being quite beyond their reach.

It was a time of great prosperity to the whole country, and such
internal tranquillity had scarcely prevailed since the time of Henry
II., when the difference between Saxon and Norman was far less smoothed
down than at present, and the feudal system weighed far more heavily.

Splendid castles were built, the King setting the example, and making
more arrangements for comfort in the interior than had yet been ventured
upon; and sacred architecture came to the highest perfection it has ever

Wherever we find a portion of our cathedrals with deep mouldings in
massive walls, slender columns of darker marble standing detached from
freestone piers, sharply-pointed arches, capitals of rich foliage
folding over the hollow formed by their curve, and windows either narrow
lancet, or with the flowing lines of flamboyant tracery, there we are
certain to hear that this part was added in the thirteenth century.

Edward gave liberally to the Church, especially to the order of
Dominican, or Preaching Friars; but it was found that in some instances
the clergy had worked on men’s consciences to obtain from them the
bequest of lands to the injury of their heirs, and a statute was
therefore passed to prevent such legacies from being valid unless they
received the sanction of the Crown. This was called the Statute of
_Mortmain_, or Dead Hands, because the framers of the act considered the
hands of the monastic orders as dead and unprofitable.

Even the world itself could hardly award the meed of unprofitable to the
studies of Roger Bacon, a native of Ilchester, born in 1214, who, after
studying at Oxford and at Paris, became a member of the Franciscan, or
Minorite Friars, and settled again at Oxford, where he pursued his studies
under the patronage of Bishop Robert Grostête. He made himself a perfect
master of Greek in order to understand Aristotle in the original, and
working on by himself he proceeded far beyond any chemist of his time in
discoveries in natural philosophy. Grostête and the more enlightened men
of the university provided him with means to carry on his experiments, and,
in twenty years he had expended no less than £2,000: but not without
mighty results; for he ascertained the true length of the solar year, made
many useful discoveries in chemistry and medicine, and anticipated many of
the modern uses of glass, learning the powers of convex and concave lenses
for the telescope, microscope, burning-glasses, and the camera obscura.

Above all, he was the inventor of gunpowder, the compound which was
destined to change the whole character of warfare and the destiny of
nations. But he was too much in advance of his time to be understood, and
the friars of his order, becoming terrified by his experiments, decided
that he was a magician, and after the death of his friend Grostête, kept
him in close confinement, and only permitted one copy of his
works to pass out of the monastery, and this, which was sent
to the Pope, Clement IV., procured his liberation. A few years
after, the General of the Franciscans, again taking fright,
imprisoned him once more, and this lasted eleven or twelve years; but Pope
Nicholas IV. again released him, and neither age nor imprisonment could
break down his energy; he continued steadily to pursue his discoveries,
and add a further polish to his various works, till his death, in 1292.
Little as he was appreciated, he left a strong impression on the popular

Tradition declares that he constructed a huge head of brass, which
uttered the words, “Time is! Time was! Time will be!” and has connected
this with Brazen-Nose College, which, not having been founded till one
hundred years after, must in that case, as Fuller says, make time to be

He is a hero of the popular chap-books of old times, where he and his
associate, Friar Bungay, are represented as playing tricks on his
servant Miles, and as summoning the spirits of Julius Caesar and Hercules
for the edification of the kings of France and England, from whom,
however, he would accept no reward. Legends vary between his being flown
away with bodily by demons, and his making a grand repentance, when he
confessed that knowledge had been a heavy burden, that kept down good
thoughts, burnt his books, parted with his goods, and caused himself to
be walled up in a cell in the church and fed through a hole, and finally
dug his grave with his own nails! Thus, probably, has ignorant tradition
perverted the sense that coming death would surely bring, that earthly
knowledge is but vanity.

Still worse has fared his friend, Michael Scott of Balwirie, called by
the learned the Mathematician, by the unlearned, the Wizard. After the
usual course of university learning at Oxford and Paris, he went to
Italy, where he gained the patronage of the Emperor Friedrich II. He was
learned in Greek and in Arabic, and an excellent mathematician, but
he bewildered himself with alchemy and astrology; and, though he died
unmolested in his own country, in 1290 his fame remained in no good
odor. Dante describes him among those whose faces were turned backward,
because they had refused to turn the right way:

  “Michele Scotto fu, che veramente
  De le magiche frode seppe il gioco.”

In Scotland marvellous tales were current of him, and his own clansman,
Sir Walter, in his lay, has spread the mysterious tale of the Wizard and
his mighty book far and wide.

It was a period of very considerable learning among the studious among
the clergy in all countries, and every art of peace was making rapid
progress in England, under the fostering care of the King and Queen. No
sovereign was more respected in Europe than Edward; his contemporary,
Dante, cites him as an instance of a gallant son of a feeble parent: and
he was often called on as the arbiter of disputes, as when the kings of
Arragon and France defied each other to a wager of battle, to take place
in his dominions in Southern France, which combat, however, never took
place. He was a most faithful and affectionate husband and indulgent
father, and the household rolls afford evidences of the kindly
intercourse between him and his numerous daughters, judging by the
interchange of gifts between them. Eleanor, the eldest, who as princess
could only give a gold ring, when Duchesse de Bar brought as a
Christmas-gift a leathern dressing-case, containing a comb, a mirror
silver-gilt, and a silver bodkin, so much valued by the King that he
kept them with him as long as he lived.

Joan of Acre, a wilful, lively girl, was wedded when very young to
her father’s turbulent friend, Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester;
Margaret was married, at fifteen, to the Duke of Brabant; and Mary was
devoted to the cloister. She became a nun of Fontevraud at the priory
Ambresbury, in accordance with the exhortations of the clergy to
her parents; but there was not much vocation to the cloister in her
disposition, and she was as often present at court pageants as her
secular sisters. The Abbess of Fontevraud would fain have had the
princess among her own nuns, but Mary resisted, and remained in the
branch establishment, probably by exerting her influence over her
father, who seems seldom to have refused anything to his children.

Stern in executing his duty, gentle to the distressed, most devout in
religious exercises, pure in life, true to his word, a wise lawgiver,
and steady in putting down vice, Edward seemed to be well deserving of
the honor of being the nephew of St. Louis, and to be walking in his
footsteps, but with greater force of character and good sense. The Holy
Land was still the object of his thoughts, and he had serious intentions
of attempting to rescue it, with forces now more complete and better
trained than those which he had drawn together in his younger days.
His views of this kind were strengthened by a serious illness, and he
announced his determination to take the Cross.

But in the twentieth year of Edward’s reign came his great temptation.
Ambition was the latent fault of his character, and a decision was
brought before him that placed a flattering prize within his grasp. He
yielded, and seized the prey; injustice, violence, anger, and cruelty
followed, promises were violated, his subjects oppressed, his honor
forfeited, and his name stained. From the time that Edward I. gave way
to the lust of conquest, his history is one of painful deterioration.

It was unfortunate for him that, at the very time that the lure was
held out to him, he was deprived of the gentle wife whose influence had
always turned him to the better course. Eleanor of Castile was on her
way to join him on his first expedition to the Scottish border, when she
fell sick at Grantham, in Lincolnshire; and though he travelled day and
night to see her, she died before his arrival, on the 29th of November,
1292. In overwhelming grief Edward accompanied her funeral to
Westminster, a journey of thirteen days. Each evening the bier rested
in the market-place of the town, where the procession halted, till the
clergy came to convey it with solemn chantings to the chief church,
where it was placed before the high altar. At each of these
resting-places Edward raised a richly-carved market cross in memory of
his queen; but, of the whole thirteen, Northampton and Waltham are the
only towns that have retained these beautiful monuments to the gracious
Eleanor, one of the best-beloved names of our English history.


  _King of England_.
   1272. Edward I.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1292. John Balliol.

  _King of France_.
   1285. Philippe IV.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1292. Adolph.
   1298. Albert I.

   1287. Nicholas IV.
   1291. Boniface VIII.
   1294. Celestine V.
   1303. Benedict XI.

The gallant line of Scottish kings descended from “the gracious Duncan”
 suddenly decayed and dwindled away in the latter part of the thirteenth
century. They had generally been on friendly terms with the English, to
whom Malcolm Ceanmore and Edgar both owed their crown; they had usually
married ladies of English birth; and holding the earldom of Huntingdon,
the county of Cumberland, and the three Lothians, under the English
crown, they stood in nearly the same relation to our Anglo-Norman
sovereigns as did these to the kings of France. If France were esteemed
a more polished country, and her language and manners were adopted by
the Plantagenet kings, who were French nobles as well as independent
sovereigns of the ruder Saxons, so, again, England was the model of
courtesy and refinement to the earlier Scottish kings, who, in the right
of inheritance from St. David’s queen, Earl Waltheof’s heiress, were
barons of the civilized court of England, where they learnt modes of
taming their own savage Highland and island domains.

Thus, with few exceptions, the terms of alliance were well understood,
and many of the Cumbrian barons were liegemen to both the English
and Scottish kings. Scotland was in a flourishing and fast-improving
condition, and there was no mutual enmity or jealousy between the two

Alexander III. was the husband of Margaret, the eldest sister of Edward
I., and frequently was present at the pageants of the English court. He
was a brave and beloved monarch, and his wife was much honored and loved
in Scotland; but, while still a young man, a succession of misfortunes
befell him. His queen died in 1275, and his only son a year or two
after; his only other child, Margaret, who had been married to Eric,
Prince of Norway, likewise died, leaving an infant daughter named

Finding himself left childless, Alexander contracted a second marriage
with Yolande, daughter of the Count de Dreux; and a splendid bridal took
place at Jedburgh, with every kind of amusements, especially mumming
and masquing. In the midst, some reckless reveller glided in arrayed in
ghastly vestments, so as to personate death, and after making fearful
gestures, vanished away, leaving an impression of terror among the
guests that they did not quickly shake off--the jest was too

Less than a year subsequently, Alexander gave a great feast to his
nobles at Edinburgh, on the 15th of March, 1286. It was a most
unsuitable day for banquetting, for it was Lent; and, moreover, popular
imagination, always trying to guess the times and seasons only known to
the Most High, had fixed on tins as destined to be the Last Day.

But the Scottish nobles feasted and revelled, mocking at the delusion
of the populace, till, when at a late hour they broke up, the night was
discovered to be intensely dark and stormy. King Alexander was, however,
bent on joining his queen, who was at Kinghorn--perhaps he had promised
to come to calm her alarms--and all the objections urged by his servants
could not deter him. He bade one of his servants remain at home, since
he seemed to fear the storm. “No, my lord,” said the man, “it would ill
become me to refuse to die for your father’s son.”

At Inverkeithing the storm became more violent, and again the royal
followers remonstrated; but the King laughed at them, and only desired
to have two runners to show him the way, when they might all remain in

He was thought to have been “fey”--namely, in high spirits--recklessly
hastening to a violent death; for as he rode along the crags close above
Kinghorn, his horse suddenly stumbled, and he was thrown over its head
to the bottom of a frightful precipice, where he lay dead. The spot is
still called the King’s Crag.

Truly it was the last day of Scotland’s peace and prosperity. Thomas of
Ereildoune, called the Rymour, who was believed to possess second sight,
had declared that on the 16th of March the greatest wind should blow
before noon that Scotland had ever known. The morning, however, rose
fair and calm, and he was reproached for his prediction. “Noon is not
yet gone!” he answered; and ere long came a messenger to the gate, with
tidings that the King was killed. “Gone is the wind that shall blow
to the great calamity and trouble of all Scotland,” said Thomas the
Rymour--a saying that needed no powers of prophecy, when the only
remaining scion of the royal line was a girl of two years old, the child
of a foreign prince, himself only eighteen years of age.

The oldest poem in the Scottish tongue that has been preserved is a
lament over the last son of St. David.

  “When Alysander, our king, was dead,
  That Scotland led in love and lee,
  Away was sons of ale and bread,
  Of wine and wax, of game and glee;
  Our gold was changed into lead.
  Christ, born in to virginity,
  Succour Scotland, and remede
  That stead is in perplexity.”

The perplexity began at once, for the realm of Scotland had never yet
descended to the “spindle,” and the rights of the little “Maid of
Norway” were contested by her cousins, Robert Bruce and John Balliol,
two of the Cumbrian barons, half-Scottish and half-English, who, though
their claims were only through females, thought themselves fitter to
rule than the infant Margaret.

Young Eric of Norway sent to entreat counsel from Edward of England, and
thus first kindled his hopes of uniting the whole island under his sway.
“Now,” he said, “the time is come when Scotland and her petty kings
shall be reduced under my power.” The Scottish nobles came at the same
time to request his decision, which was readily given in favor of the
little heiress, whom he further proposed to betroth to his only son,
Edward of Caernarvon; and as the children were first cousins once
removed, he sent to Rome for a dispensation, while Margaret sailed from
Norway to be placed in his keeping. Thus would the young Prince have
peaceably succeeded to the whole British dominions; but the will of
Heaven was otherwise, and three hundred years of war were to elapse
before the crowns were placed on the same brow.

The stormy passage from Norway was injurious to the tender frame of the
little Queen: she was landed in the Orkney Isles, in the hope of saving
her life, but in vain; she died, after having scarcely touched her
dominions, happy in being spared so wild a kingdom and so helpless a
husband as were awaiting her.

Twelve claimants for the vacant throne at once arose, all so distant
that it was a nice matter to weigh their several rights, since the very
nearest were descendants of Henry, son of St. David, five generations

The Scots agreed to refer the question to the arbitration of one
hitherto so noted for wisdom and justice as Edward I. They little knew
that their realm was the very temptation that was most liable to draw
him aside from the strict probity he had hitherto observed.

He called on the competitors and the states of Scotland to meet him at
Norham Castle on the 10th of May, 1291, and the conference was opened by
his justiciary, Robert Brabazon, who, in a speech of some length,
called on the assembly to begin by owning the King as Lord Paramount of

It had never been fully understood for how much of their domains the
Scottish kings did homage to the English, and the more prudent princes
had avoided opening the question, so that there might honestly be two
opinions on the subject. Still Edward was acting as the King of France
would have done had he claimed to be Paramount of England, because
Edward paid homage for Gascony, and he ought to have known that he was
taking an ungenerous advantage of the kingless state of his neighbors.

They made answer that they were incapable of making such an
acknowledgment; but Edward answered, “Tell them that by the holy St.
Edward, whose crown I wear, I will either have my rights recognized, or
die in the vindication of them.”

He gave them three weeks to consider his challenge, but in the
meantime issued writs for assembling his army; and thus left the more
quietly-disposed to expect an invasion, without any leader to oppose it;
while each of the twelve claimants could not but conceive the hope of
being raised to the throne, if he would consent to make the required

Accordingly, they all yielded; and when the next meeting took place at
Hollywell Haugh, a green plain close to “Norham’s castled height,”
 the whole body owned Edward as their feudal superior; after which the
kingdom of Scotland was delivered over to him, and the great seal placed
in the joint keeping of the Scottish and English chancellors.

In the following year, on the 17th of November, the final decision was
made. Nine of the claimants had such frivolous claims, that no attention
was paid to them, and the only ones worth consideration were those
derived from David, Earl of Huntingdon, the crusading comrade of Coeur
de Lion, and son of Henry, son of St. David. This Earl had left three
daughters, Margaret, Isabel, and Ada. Margaret had married Allan of
Galloway, and John Balliol was the son of her only daughter Devorgoil.
Isabel married Robert Bruce, and her son, Robert, Earl of Carrick, was
the claimant; and Ada had left a grandson, Florence Hastings, Earl of

A baron leaving daughters alone would divide his heritage equally among
them, and this was what Hastings desired; but Scotland was pronounced
indivisible, and he retired from the field. Bruce contended that, as son
of one sister, he was nearer the throne than the grandson of the other,
although the elder; but this was completely untenable, and Balliol,
having been adjudged the rightful heir, was declared King of Scotland,
was crowned, and paid homage to Edward.

He soon found that the fealty he had sworn was not, as he had hoped,
to be a mere dead letter, as with the former kings. Edward used to
the utmost the suzerain’s privilege of hearing appeals from the
vassal-prince--a practice never put in force by his predecessors, and
excessively galling to the new Scottish King, who found himself fettered
in all his measures, and degraded in the eyes of his rude and savage
subjects, who regarded him as having given away the honor of their
crown. Whenever there was an appeal, he was cited to appear in person at
the English court, and was treated, in fact, like a mere feudal noble,
instead of the King of a brave and ancient kingdom. Indeed, the Scots
called him the “toom tabard,” or empty herald’s coat--a name not
unsuited to such a king of vain show.

By and by a war broke out between England and France, and Edward sent
summonses to the Scottish barons to attend him with their vassals. It
was no concern of theirs, and many flatly refused to come, whereupon
he declared them to have forfeited their fiefs, and thus pushed his
interference beyond their endurance. John Balliol, their unfortunate
King, who was personally attached to Edward, and at the same time
greatly in dread of his fierce vassals, was utterly confused and
distressed; and finding no help in him, his subjects seized him, placed
him in a fortress, under the keeping of a council of twelve, and in his
name declared war against England.

Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, to whom his father’s claims had
descended, remained faithful to King Edward, who, to punish the
rebellion of the Scots, collected an army of 30,000 foot and 4,000
horse, and, with the sacred standards of Durham at their head, marched
them into Scotland. Berwick, then a considerable merchant-town, closed
her gates against him, and further provoked him by the plunder of some
English merchant-ships. He offered terms of surrender, but these were
refused; and he led his men to the assault of the dyke, that was the
only defence of the town. He was the first to leap the dyke on his horse
Bayard, and the place was won after a brave resistance, sufficient to
arouse the passions of the soldiery, who made a most shocking massacre,
without respect to age or sex.

The report of these horrors so shocked John Balliol, that he sent to
renounce his allegiance to Edward, and to defy his power. “Felon and
fool!” cried Edward, “if he will not come to us, we must go to him.”

So frightful ravages were carried on by the English on one side and the
Scots on the other, till a battle took place at Dunbar, which so utterly
ruined the Scots, that they were forced to make submission, and Balliol
sued for peace. But Edward would not treat with him as a king, and only
sent Anthony Beck, the Bishop of Durham, to meet him at Brechin. He was
forced to appear, and was declared a rebel, stripped of his crown and
robes, and made to stand with a white rod in his hand, confessing that
he had acted rebelliously, and that Edward had justly invaded his
realm. After this humiliation, he resigned all his rights to Scotland,
declaring himself worn out with the malice and fraud of the nation,
which was probably quite true. He was sent at first to the Tower, but
afterward was released, lived peaceably on his estates in France, and
founded the college at Oxford that bears his name and arms.

The misfortunes endured by this puppet did not deter the Earl of Carrick
from aspiring to his seat; but Edward harshly answered, “Have I nothing
to do but to conquer kingdoms for you?” and sent him away with his
eldest son, a third Robert Bruce, to pacify their own territories of
Carrick and Annandale. Edward did nothing without law enough to make him
believe himself in the right, and poor Balliol’s forfeiture gave him,
as he imagined, the power to assume Scotland as a fief of his own. He
caused himself to be acknowledged as King of Scotland, destroyed the old
Scottish charters, and transported to Westminster the Scottish crown and
sceptre, together with the stone from Scone Abbey, on which, from time
immemorial, the Kings of Scotland had been placed when crowned and
anointed. All the castles were delivered up into his hands, and every
noble in his dominions gave him the oath of allegiance, excepting one,
William, Lord Douglas, who steadily refused, and was therefore carried
off a prisoner to England, where he remained to the day of his death.

Edward did not come in as a severe or cruel conqueror; he gave
privileges to the Scottish clergy, and re-instated the families of the
barons killed in the war. Doubtless he hoped to do great good to the wild
population, and bring them into the same order as the English; but the
flaw in his title made this impossible; the Scots regarded his soldiery as
their enemies and oppressors, and though the nobles had given in a
self-interested adhesion to the new government, they abhorred it all the
time, and the mutual hatred between the English garrisons and Scottish
inhabitants led to outrages in which neither party was free from blame.

As Hereward the Saxon had been stirred up against the Norman invaders,
so a champion arose who kept alive the memory of Scottish independence.

William Wallace was the younger son of Sir Malcolm Wallace of Ellerslie,
near Paisley, one of the lesser gentry, not sufficiently high in rank to
be required to take oaths to the English King. William was a youth of
unusual stature, noble countenance, and great personal strength and
skill in the use of arms, and he grew up with a violent hatred to the
English usurpers, which various circumstances combined to foster. While
very young, he had been fishing in the river Irvine, attended by a boy
who carried his basket, when some English soldiers, belonging to the
garrison of Ayr meeting him, insisted on seizing his trout. A fray took
place, and Wallace killed the foremost Englishman with a blow from the
butt of his fishing-rod, took his sword, and put the rest to flight.

This obliged him to fly to the hills. But in those lawless times such
adventures soon blew over, and, a year or two after, he was walking in
the market-place of Lanark, dressed in green, and with, a dagger by his
side, when an Englishman, coming up, insulted him on account of his gay
attire, and his passionate temper, thus inflamed, led to a fray, in
which the Englishman was killed. He then fled to the house where he was
lodging, and while the sheriff and his force were endeavoring to break
in, the lady of the house contrived his escape by a back way to a rocky
glen called the Crags, where he hid himself in a cave. The disappointed
sheriff wreaked his vengeance on the unfortunate lady, slew her, and
burnt the house.

Thenceforth Wallace was an outlaw, and the most implacable foe to the
English. In his wild retreat he quickly gathered round him other men
ill-used, or discontented, or patriotic, or lovers of the wild life
which he led, and at their head he not only cut off the parties sent to
seize him, but watched his opportunity for marauding on the English or
their allies. There is a horrible story that the English governor of
Ayr, treacherously inviting the Scottish gentry to a feast, hung them
all as they entered, and that Wallace revenged the slaughter with
equal cruelty by burning the English alive in their sleep in the very
buildings where the murder took place, the Barns of Ayr, as they were
called. The history is unauthenticated, but it is believed in the
neighborhood of Ayr, and has been handed down by Wallace’s Homer,
Blind Harry, whose poem on the exploits of the Knight of Ellerslie was
published sixty years from this time.

The fame of Wallace’s prowess swelled his party, and many knights and
nobles began to join him. He raised his banner in the name of King John
of Scotland, and, with the help of another outlaw chief, Sir William
Douglas, pounced on the English justiciary, Ormesby, while holding his
court at Scone, put him to flight, and seized a large booty and many

His forays were the more successful because the King was absent in
England, and the Chancellor, Hugh Cressingham, was not well agreed with
the lay-governor, John de Warrenne, Earl of Surrey. Many of the higher
nobility took his side, among them the younger Robert Bruce; but as the
English force began to be marshalled against him, they took flight for
their estates, and returned to the stronger party. It may have been that
they found that Wallace was not a suitable chief for more than a mere
partisan camp; brave as he was, he could not keep men of higher rank in
obedience. He lived by plunder, and horrible atrocities were constantly
committed by his men, especially against such English clergy as had
received Scottish preferment. Whenever one of these fell into their
hands, his sacred character could not save him; his arms were tied
behind his back, and he was thrown from a high bridge into a river,
while the merciless Scots derided his agony.

Warrene and Cressingham drew together a mighty force, and marched to the
relief of Stirling, which Wallace had threatened. The Scots had come
together to the number of 40,000, but they had only 180 horse; and
Warrenne had 50,000 foot and 1,000 horse. The Scots were, however, in a
far more favorable position, encamped on the higher ground on the bank
of the river Forth; and Warrenne, wishing to avoid a battle, sent two
friars to propose terms. “Return to your friends,” said Wallace; “tell
them we came with no peaceful intent, but determined to avenge ourselves
and set our country free. Let them come and attack us; we are ready to
meet them beard to beard.”

On hearing this answer, the English shouted to be led against the bold
rebel; but the more prudent leaders thought it folly to attempt to cross
the bridge, exposed as it, was to the enemy, but that a chosen body
should cross a ford, attack them in the flank, and clear the way.
Cressingham thought this policy timid. “Why,” said he to Warrenne,
“should we protract the war, and spend the King’s money? Let us pass on,
and do our duty!”

Warrenne weakly gave way, and the English troops began to cross the
bridge, the Scots retaining their post on the high ground until Sir
Marmaduke Twenge, an English knight, impetuously spurred up the hill,
when about half the army had crossed, and charged the Scottish ranks. In
the meantime, Wallace had sent a chosen force to march down the side of
the hill and cut off the troops who had crossed from the foot of
the bridge, and he himself, rushing down on the advancing horsemen,
entirely, broke them, and made a fearful slaughter of all on that side
of the river, seizing on the bridge, so that there was no escape. One of
the knights proposed to swim their horses across the river. “What!” said
Sir Marmaduke Twenge, “drown myself, when I can cut my way through the
midst of them by the bridge? Never let such foul slander fall on me!”
 He then set spurs to his horse, and, with his nephew and armor-bearer,
forced his way back to his friends, across the bridge, by weight of
man and horse, through the far more slightly-armed Scots. Warrenne
was obliged to march off, with, the loss of half his army, and of
Cressingham, whose corpse was found lying on the plain, and was
barbarously, mangled by the Scots. They cut the skin into pieces, and
used it for saddle-girths; even Wallace himself being said to have had a
sword-belt made of it.

This decisive victory threw the greater part of Scotland into Wallace’s
hands; and though most of the great earls still held with the English,
the towns and castles were given up to him, and the mass of the people
was with him. He plundered without mercy the lands of such as would
not join him, and pushed his forays into England, where he frightfully
ravaged Cumberland and Northumberland; and from St. Luke’s to St.
Martin’s-day all was terror and dismay, not a priest remaining between
Newcastle and Carlisle to say mass. At last the winter drove him back,
and on his return he went to Hexham, a rich convent, which had been
plundered on the advance, but to which three of the monks had just
returned, hoping the danger was over. Seeing the enemy entering, they
fled into a little chapel; but the Scots had seen them, and, rushing on
them, demanded their treasures. “Alas!” said they, “you yourselves best
know where they are!” Wallace, coming in, silenced his men, and bade the
priests say mass; but in one moment, while he turned aside to take off
his helmet, his fierce soldiery snatched away the chalice from the
altar, and tore off the ornaments and sacred vestments. He ordered that
the perpetrators should be put to death, and said to the priests, “My
presence alone can secure you. My men are evil-disposed. I cannot
justify, I dare not punish them.”

On returning to Scotland, he assumed the title of Governor, and strove
to bring matters into a more regular state, but without success; the
great nobles either feared to offend the English, or would not submit to
his authority.

In 1298, Edward, having freed himself from his difficulties in England
and France, hurried to the North to put down in person what in his eyes
was not patriotism, but rebellion. How violently enraged he was, was
shown by his speech to Sir John Marmaduke, who was sent by Anthony Beck,
Bishop of Durham, to ask his pleasure respecting Dirleton Castle and two
other fortresses to which he had laid siege. “Tell Anthony,” he said,
“that he is right to be pacific when he is acting the bishop, but that,
in his present business, he must forget his calling. As for yourself,
you are a relentless soldier, and I have too often had to reprove you
for too cruel an exultation over the death of your enemies. But, now,
return whence you came, and be as relentless as you choose; you will
have my thanks, not my censure; and, look you, do not see my face again
till those three castles be razed to the ground.”

The castles were taken and overthrown, but the difficulties of the
English continued to be great; the fleet was detained by contrary winds,
and this delay of supplies caused a famine in the camp. Edward was
obliged to command a retreat; but at that juncture, just as the country
was so nearly rescued by the wise dispositions of Wallace, two Scottish
nobles, the Earls of Dunbar and Angus, were led by a mean jealousy to
betray him to the English, disclosing the place where he was encamped in
the forest of Falkirk, and his intention of making a night-attack upon
the English.

Edward was greatly rejoiced at the intelligence. “Thanks be to God,” he
exclaimed, “who has saved me from every danger! They need not come after
me, since I will go to meet them.”

He immediately put on his armor, and rode through the camp, calling on
his soldiers to march immediately, and at three o’clock in the afternoon
all were on their way to Falkirk. They halted for the night on a heath,
where they lay down to sleep in their armor, with their horses picketed
beside them In the course of the night the King’s horse trod upon him,
breaking two of his ribs; and a cry arose among those around him that he
was slain, and the enemy were upon them. But Edward, regardless of the
pain, made the alarm serve as a reveillè, mounted his horse, rallied his
troops, and, as it was near morning, gave orders to march. The light of
the rising sun showed, on the top of the opposite hill, the lances of
the Scottish advanced guard; but when they reached the summit, they
found it deserted, and in the distance could see the enemy preparing
for battle, the foot drawn up in four compact bodies of pikemen, the
foremost rank kneeling, so that the spears of those behind rested on
their shoulders. “I have brought you to the ring; hop if ye can,” was
the brief exhortation of the outlawed patriot to his men; and grim was
the dance prepared for them.

Edward heard mass in a tent set up on the hill, and afterward held a
council on the manner of attack. An immediate advance was determined on,
and they charged the Scots with great fury. The horse, consisting of the
time-serving and cowardly nobility, fled without a blow, leaving Wallace
and his archers unsupported, to be overwhelmed by the numbers of the
English. Wallace, after a long resistance, was compelled to retreat into
the woods, with a loss of 15,000, while on the English side the slain
were very few.

Edward pushed on, carrying all before him, and wasting the country with
fire and sword; but, as has happened in every invasion of Scotland,
famine proved his chief enemy, and he was obliged to return to
England, leaving unsubdued all the lands north of the Forth. But his
determination was sternly fixed, and he made everything else give way to
his Scottish wars.

The last stronghold which held out against him was Stirling Castle,
under Sir William Oliphant, who, with only one hundred and forty men,
for ninety days resisted with the most desperate valor; when the walls
were broken down, taking shelter in caverns hewn out of the rock on
which their fortress was founded. Edward, who led the attack, was often
exposed to great danger; his horse was thrown down by a stone, and his
armor pierced by an arrow; but he would not consent to use greater
precautions, saying that he fought in a just war, and Heaven would
protect him. At last the brave garrison were reduced to surrender, and
came down from their castle in a miserable, dejected state, to implore
his mercy. The tenderness of his nature revived as he saw brave men in
such a condition. He could not restrain his tears, and he received them
to his favor, sending them in safety to England.

Scotland was now completely tranquil, and entirely reduced. Every noble
had sworn allegiance, every castle was garrisoned by English. Balliol
was in Normandy, Bruce in the English army, and at last, in August,
1305, the brave outlaw, Sir William Wallace, was, by his former friend,
Monteith, betrayed into the hands of the English. He was brought to
Westminster, tried as a traitor to King Edward, and sentenced to die. He
had never sworn fealty to Edward, but this could not save him; and on
the 23d of August, 1305, he was dragged on a hurdle to Smithfield,
and suffered the frightful death that the English laws allotted to a
traitor. His head was placed on a pole on London Bridge, and his several
limbs sent to the different towns in Scotland, where they were regarded
far more as relics than as tokens of disgrace.

Had Edward appreciated and pardoned the gallant Scot, it would have
been a noble deed. But his death should not be regarded as an act of
personal, revenge. Wallace had disregarded many a proclamation of
mercy, and had carried on a most savage warfare upon the Scots who had
submitted to the English with every circumstance of cruelty. Edward,
who believed himself the rightful King, was not likely to regard him as
otherwise than a pertinacious bandit, with whom the law might properly
take its course. More mercy might have been hoped from the prince who
fought hand to hand with Adam de Gourdon; but ambition had greatly
warped and changed Edward since those days, and the fifteen years of
effort to retain his usurpation had hardened his whole nature.

Wallace himself, half a robber, half a knight, has won for himself a
place in the affections of his countrymen, and has lived ever since in
story and song. To the last century it was regarded as rude to turn a
loaf in the presence of a Monteith, because that was the signal for the
admission of the soldiers who seized Wallace; and there can be little
doubt that this constant recollection was well deserved, since
assuredly it was the spirit of resistance maintained by Wallace, though
unsuccessful, that lived to flourish again after his death.

He was one of those men whose self-devotion bears visible fruits.


  _King of England_.
  1272. Edward I.

  _King of Scotland_.
  1296. Edward I.

  _King of France_.
  1285. Philippe IV.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
  1292. Adolf.
  1298. Albert I.

  1294. Boniface VIII.
  1303. Benedict XI.

Unlike the former Plantagenets, Edward I. was a thorough Englishman; his
schemes, both for good and evil, were entirely insular; and as he became
more engrossed in the Scottish war, he almost neglected his relations
with the Continent.

One of the most wily and unscrupulous men who ever wore a crown was
seated on the throne of France--the fair-faced and false-hearted
Philippe IV., the “pest of France,” the oppressor of the Church, and the
murderer of the Templars; and eagerly did he watch to take any advantage
of the needs of his mighty vassal in Aquitaine.

Edward had made alliances to strengthen himself. He had married his
daughter Eleanor to the Count of Bar, and Margaret to the heir of
Brabant, and betrothed his son Edward to the only daughter of Guy
Dampierre, Count of Flanders, thus hoping to restrain Philippe without
breaking the peace.

Unluckily, in 1294, a sailors’ quarrel took place between the crews of
an English and a Norman ship upon the French coast. They had both landed
to replenish their stock of water, and disputed which had the right
first to fill their casks. In the fray, a Norman was killed, and his
shipmates, escaping, took their revenge by boarding another English
vessel, and hanging a poor, innocent Bayonne merchant from the masthead,
with a dog fastened to his feet. Retaliation followed upon revenge; and
while the two kings professed to be at peace, every ship from their
ports went armed, and fierce struggles took place wherever there was an
encounter. Slaughter and plunder fell upon the defeated, for the sailors
were little better than savage pirates, and were unrestrained by
authority. Edward, who had a right to a share in all captures made by
his subjects, refused to accept of any portion of these, though he did
not put a stop to them. The Irish and Dutch vessels took part with the
English, the Genoese with the French. At last, upward of two hundred
French ships met at St. Mahé in Brittany, and their crews rejoiced over
the captures which they had obtained, and held a great carousal. Eighty
well-manned English vessels had, however, sailed from the Cinque Ports,
and, surrounding St. Mahé, sent a challenge to their enemies. It was
accepted; a ship was moored in the midst, as a point round which the two
fleets might assemble, and a hot contest took place, fiercely fought
upon either side; but English seamanship prevailed over superior
numbers, every French ship was sunk or taken, and, horrible to relate,
not one of their crews was spared.

Such destruction provoked Philippe, and he summoned Edward, as Duke of
Aquitaine, to deliver up to him such Gascons as had taken part in the
battle. This Edward neglected, whereupon Philippe sent to seize the
lands of Perigord, and, on being repulsed by the seneschal, called on
Edward to appear at his court within twenty days, to answer for his
misdeeds, on pain of forfeiting the province of Gascony. Edward sent
first the Bishop of London, and afterward his brother Edmund Crouchback,
to represent him. Edmund’s second wife was the mother of Philippe’s
queen, and it was therefore expected that he would the more easily come
to terms, especially as he was commissioned to offer the hand of his
royal brother to Blanche, the sister of Philippe, a maiden who inherited
the unusual beauty of her family. Apparently all was easily arranged:
Philippe promised Edmund that if, as a matter of form, Gascony were put
into his hands by way of forfeit, it should be restored at the end of
forty days on the intercession of the two ladies, and Blanche should be
betrothed to the King.

All was thus arranged. But at the end of the forty days it proved that
what Philippe had once grasped he had no notion of releasing; and,
moreover, that Blanche la Belle was promised to Albert of Hapsburg! If
Edward chose to marry any French princess at all, he was welcome to
her little sister Marguerite, a child of eleven, while Edward was
fifty-five. The excuse offered was, that Edward, had not obeyed the
summons in person, and that another outrage had been perpetrated on the
coast. After another summons, he was adjudged to lose not only Gascony,
but all Aquitaine.

On discovering how he had been duped, Edward’s first impulse was to send
out his writs to collect his vassals to recover Gascony, chastise the
insolent ill faith of Philippe, and to stir up his foreign connections
to support him. He collected his troops at Portsmouth, hoping to augment
his army by a general release of prisoners, Scottish, Welsh, and
malefactors alike; but while he was detained seven weeks by contrary
winds, all these men, after taking his pay, made their escape, and
either returned to their countries, or marauded in the woods. A great
insurrection broke out in Wales, and he was forced to hasten thither,
and from thence was called away to quell the rising of the Scottish
barons against Balliol.

Meanwhile, it fared ill with his foreign allies. The Duke of Brabant,
father-in-law to his daughter Margaret, was killed in a tournament at
the court of her sister Eleanor; and when Eleanor’s husband, Henri of
Bar, took up arms in the English cause, and marched into Champagne, he
was defeated, and made prisoner by the Queen of France. The poor old
Count of Flanders and his Countess were invited to Paris by Philippe,
who insisted that they should bring his godchild and namesake, the
betrothed of young Edward, to visit him. When they arrived, they were
all thrown into the prison of the Louvre, on the plea that Guy had no
right to bestow his daughter in marriage without permission from his

Edward’s head was so full of Scotland, that he was shamefully
indifferent to the sufferings of his friends in his behalf. Poor Eleanor
of Bar, after striving hard to gain her husband’s freedom, died of
grief, after a few months; and Guy of Flanders contrived to obtain his
own release by promising to renounce the English alliance; but Philippe
would not set free the poor young Philippa, whom he kept in his hands as
a hostage.

One cause of the King’s neglect was his great distress for money. He
had learnt to have recourse to his father’s disgraceful plea of a sham
Crusade, and thus, for six years, gained a tenth of the Church revenues;
but in 1294, requiring a further supply, he made a demand of half the
year’s income of the clergy. The new Archbishop, Robert Winchelsea, was
gone to Rome to receive his pall; the Dean of St. Paul’s, who was sent
to remonstrate with the King, died suddenly in his presence; but Edward
was not touched, and sent a knight to address the assembled clergy,
telling them that any reverend father who dared to oppose the royal will
would be considered to have broken the King’s peace. In terror they
yielded for that time; but they sent a petition to the Pope, who, in
return, granted a bull forbidding any subsidies to be paid by church
lands to the King without his permission.

Little did Edward reck of this decree. He knew that Boniface VIII. had
his hands full of his quarrels with the Romans and with Philippe le Bel,
and his own ambition was fast searing the conscience once so generous
and tender. Again he convened the clergy to grant his exactions, but
Archbishop Winchelsea replied that they had two lords, spiritual and
temporal; they owed the superior obedience to the spiritual lord, and
would therefore grant nothing till the Pope should have ratified the
demand; for which purpose they would send messengers to Rome.

The lay barons backed Edward in making a declaration of outlawry against
the clergy, and seizing all the ecclesiastical property, both lands and
treasures, except what was within churches or burying-grounds, declaring
that, if not redeemed by submission before Easter, all should be
forfeited forever. The Archbishop of York came to terms; but the
Archbishop of Canterbury held out, and was deprived of everything,
retiring to a country village, where he acted as parish priest, and
lived upon the alms of the parishioners. He held a synod, where
excommunication was denounced on those who seized church property;
but the censures of the Church had lost their terrors, and the clergy
gradually made their peace with the King, Winchelsea himself among the

The laity had looked on quietly at the oppression of the clergy, and
indeed had borne their share of exactions; but these came at last to
a point beyond endurance, and Edward’s need, and their obstinate
resistance, led to another step in the formation of our constitution.

In 1297 he made a new alliance with Guy of Flanders, and was fitting
out three armies, against Scotland, Guienne, and Flanders. To raise the
means, he exacted five marks as a duty on each sack of wool exported to
Flanders, and made ruinous requisitions for wheat on the landowners.
Merchants and burghers, barons and clergy, took counsel together, and
finding each other all of one mind, resolved to make a stand against
this tax on wool, which was called the “Evil Toll,” and to establish
what Magna Carta had already declared, that the nation would not be
taxed against its own consent.

The King’s brother, Edmund of Lancaster, had lately died while
commanding in Guienne, and Edward, meeting his vassals at Salisbury,
gave the command of the army, thus left without a head, to Humphrey
Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk--the one
Constable, the other Marshal of England. To his great wrath, they
answered that their offices only bound them to attend the King’s person
in war, and that they would not go. Edward swore a fierce oath that they
should either go, or hang. Bigod coolly repeated the same oath, that he
would neither go nor hang, and back to their own estates they went, and
after them thirty bannerets, and 1,500 knights, who, by main force,
hindered the King’s officers from making any further levies on their
barns and storehouses.

Nothing was left Edward, but to speak them fair. He summoned his vassals
to meet him in London, reconciled himself to Archbishop Winchelsea, and
on the 14th of July, 1297, when all were assembled at Westminster, he
stood forth on a platform, attended by his son, the Primate, and the
Earl of Warwick, and harangued the people. He told them that he grieved
at the burthens which he was forced to impose on them, but it was for
their defence; for that the Scots, Welsh, and French thirsted for their
blood, and it was better to lose a part, than the whole. “I am going to
risk my life for your sake,” he said. “If I return, receive me; and I
will make you amends. If I fall, here is my son: he will reward you, if

His voice was broken by tears; and his people, remembering what he once
had been rather than what he was now, broke into loud shouts of loyal
affection. He appointed his son as regent, and set out for Flanders, but
not in time to prevent poor Guy from again falling into captivity, and
pursued by requisitions, to which he promised to attend on his return.
All the nobles who held with him accompanied him, and Bohun and Bigod
were left to act in their own way.

They rode to London with a large train, lodged complaints of the illegal
exaction before the Exchequer, and then, going to the Guildhall, worked
up the citizens to be ready to assert their rights, and compel the
King to revoke the evil toll, and to observe the charter. They had
scrupulously kept within the law, and, though accompanied by so many
armed followers, neither murder nor pillage was permitted; and thus they
obtained the sympathies of the whole country.

Young Edward of Caernarvon was but thirteen, and could only submit; and
a Parliament was convoked by his authority, when the present taxes were
repealed, the important clause was added to the Great Charter which
declared that no talliage or aid should thenceforth be levied without
the consent of the bishops, peers, burgesses, and freemen of the realm,
nor should any goods be taken for the King without consent of the

Further, it was enacted that Magna Charta should be rehearsed twice a
year in all the cathedrals, with a sentence of excommunication on all
who should infringe it. The Archbishop enforced this order strictly,
adding another sentence of excommunication to be rehearsed in each
church on every Sunday against any who should beat or imprison
clergymen, desiring it to be done with tolling of bell and putting out
of candle, because these solemnities had the greater effect on the
laity. This statute is a sad proof how much too cheaply sacred things
were held, and how habit was leading even the clergy to debase them by
over-frequent and frivolous use of the most awful emblems.

Young Edward and his council signed the acts, and they were sent to the
King for ratification, with a promise that his barons would thereupon
join him in Flanders, or march to Scotland, at his pleasure. He was
three days in coming to his resolution, but finally agreed, though it
was suspected that he might set aside his signature as invalid, because
made in a foreign country.

Wallace’s proceedings in Scotland made Edward anxious to hasten thither
and rid himself of the French war. He therefore accepted the mediation
of Boniface VIII., and consented to sacrifice his unfortunate ally, Guy
of Flanders, whom he left in his captivity, as well as his poor young
daughter. Both died in the prison to which the daughter had been
consigned at twelve years old. The Prince of Wales, for whose sake her
bloom wasted in prison, was contracted to Isabelle, the daughter of her
persecutor, Philippe le Bel; and old King Edward himself received the
hand of the Princess Marguerite, now about seventeen, fair and good.
Aquitaine was restored, though not Gascony; but Edward only wanted to
be free, that he might hasten to Scotland. And, curiously enough, the
outlaw Wallace, whatever he did for his own land, unconsciously fought
the battles of his foes, the English nation; for it was his resistance
that weakened Edward’s power, and made necessity extort compliance with
the demands of the Barons.

At York, Bigod and Bohun claimed a formal ratification of the charter
of Westminster. He put them off by pleading the urgency of affairs in
Scotland, and hastened on; but when he returned, in 1299, the staunch
Barons again beset him, and he confirmed the charter, but added the
phrase, “Saving the rights of the Crown,” which annulled the whole force
of the decree. The two barons instantly went off in high displeasure,
with a large number of their friends; and Edward, to try the temper of
the people, ordered the charter to be rehearsed at St. Paul’s Cross; but
when the rights of the Crown were mentioned, such a storm of hootings
and curses arose, that Edward, taught by the storms of his youth not to
push matters to extremity, summoned a new parliament, and granted the
right of his subjects to tax themselves.

This right has often since been proved to be the main strength of the
Parliament, by preventing the King from acting against their opinion,
and by rendering it the interest of all classes of men to attend to the
proceedings of the sovereign: it has not only kept kings in check,
but it has saved the nobles and commonalty from sinking into that
indifference to public affairs which has been the bane of foreign
nations. For, unfortunately, the mass of men are more easily kept on
the alert when wealth is affected, than by any deeper or higher

When we yearly hear of Parliament granting the supplies ere the close of
the session, they are exercising the right first claimed at Runnymede,
striven for by Simon de Montfort, and won by Humphrey Bohun, who
succeeded through the careful self-command and forbearance which
hindered him from ever putting his party in the wrong by violence or
transgression of the laws. He should be honored as a steadfast bulwark
to the freedom of his country, teaching the might of steady resolution,
even against the boldest and ablest of all our kings. In spite of rough
words, Edward and Bohun respected each other, and the heir of Hereford,
likewise named Humphrey, married Elizabeth, the youngest surviving
daughter left by good Queen Eleanor. Another of Edward’s daughters had
been married to an English earl. Joan of Acre, the high-spirited, wilful
girl, who was born in the last Crusade, had been given as a wife to her
father’s stout old comrade, Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester. He
died when she was only twenty-three, and before the end of a year she
secretly married her squire, Ralph de Monthermer, and her father only
discovered the union when he had promised her to the Count of Savoy.
Monthermer was imprisoned; but Edward, always a fond father, listened to
Joan’s pleading, that, as an Earl could ennoble a woman of mean birth,
it was hard that she might not raise a gallant youth to rank. Ralph
was released, and bore for the rest of his life the title of Earl of
Gloucester, which properly belonged only to Joan’s young son, Gilbert.
Joan was a pleasure-loving lady, expensive in her habits, and neglectful
of her children; but her father’s indulgence for her never failed: he
lent her money, pardoned her faults, and took on himself the education
of her son Gilbert, who was the companion of his own two young sons by
his second marriage, Thomas of Brotherton and Edmund of Woodstock.

Their mother, Margaret of France, was a fair and gentle lady, who lived
on the best terms with her stepdaughters, many of whom were her elders;
and she followed the King on his campaigns, as her predecessor Eleanor
had done. Mary, the princess who had taken the veil, was almost always
with her, and contrived to spend a far larger income than any of her
sisters, though without the same excuse of royal apparel; but she was
luxurious in diet, fond of pomp and display; never moving without
twenty-four horses, and so devoted to amusement that she lost large sums
at dice. She must have been an unedifying abbess at Ambresbury, though
not devoid of kindness of heart.

Archbishop Winchelsea held a synod at Mertoun in 1305, where various
decrees were made respecting the books and furniture which each parish
was bound to provide for the Divine service. The books were to be “a
legend” containing the lessons for reading, with others containing
the Psalms and Services. The vestments were “two copes, a chasuble, a
dalmatic, three surplices, and a frontal for the altar.” And, besides
these, a chalice of silver, a pyx of ivory or silver, a censer, two
crosses, a font with lock and key, a vessel for holy water, a great
candlestick, and a lantern and bell, which were carried before the Host
when taken to the dying, a board with a picture to receive the kiss of
peace, and all the images of the Church. The nave, then as now, was the
charge of the parish; the chancel, of the rector.

This synod was Archbishop Winchelsea’s last act before the King took
vengeance on him for his past resistance. His friend and supporter,
Boniface VIII., was dead, harassed to death by the persecutions of
Philippe IV.; and Clement V., the new Pope, was a miserable time-server,
raised to the papal chair by the machinations of the French King, and
ready to serve as the tool of any injustice.

Edward disliked the Archbishop for having withstood him in the matter of
the tithe, as well as for having cited him in the name of the Pope to
leave Scotland in peace. The King now induced Clement to summon him to
answer for insubordination. Winchelsea was very unwilling to go to Rome;
but Edward seized his temporalities, banished eighty monks for giving
him support, and finally exiled him. He died in indigence at Rome.

He was a prelate of the same busy class as Langton, not fulfilling the
highest standard of his sacred office, but spirited, uncompromising, and
an ardent though unsuccessful champion of the rights of the nation.

If Langton be honored for his part in Magna Charta, Winchelsea merits a
place by his side, for it was the resistance of his party to the “Evil
Toll” that placed taxation in the power of the English nation, and in
the wondrous ways of Providence caused the Scottish and French wars to
work for the good of our constitution.


  _King of England_.
  1272. Edward I.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1306. Robert I.

  _King of France_.
   1285 Philippe IV.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1298. Albert I.

   1305. Clement V.

The state of Scotland had, ever since the death of the good King
Alexander, been such that even honest men could scarcely retain their
integrity, nor see with whom to hold. The realm had been seized by a
foreign power, with a perplexing show of justice, the rightful King had
been first set up and then put down by external force, and the only
authority predominant in the land was unacknowledged by the heart of
any, though terror had obtained submission from the lips.

The strict justice which was loved and honored in orderly England, was
loathed in barbarous Scotland. It would have been hated from a native
sovereign; how much more so from a conqueror, and, above all, from a
hostile race, exasperated by resistance! Whether Edward I. were an
intentional tyrant or not, his deputies in Scotland were harsh rulers,
and the troops scattered throughout the castles in the kingdom used such
cruel license and exaction as could not but make the yoke intolerable,
and the enmity irreconcilable, especially in a race who never forgot nor

The higher nobility were in a most difficult situation, since to them it
fell to judge between the contending parties, and to act for themselves.
Few preserved either consistency or good faith; they wavered between
fear of Edward and love of independence; and among the lowland baronage
there seems to have been only William Douglas, of Douglasdale, who never
committed himself by taking oaths of fealty to the English king. Some
families, who were vassals at once of the English and Scottish crowns,
were in still greater straits; and among these there was the line of
Bruce. Robert de Brus had come from Normandy with William the Conqueror,
and obtained from him large grants in Yorkshire, as well as the lordship
of Annandale from one of the Scottish kings; and thus a Bruce stood
between both parties, and strove to mediate at the battle of the
Standard. His grandson married Isabel of Huntingdon, the daughter of the
crusader, David of Scotland, and thus acquired still larger estates
and influence in both countries. His son Robert made another English
marriage with Isabel de Clare, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester.
The eldest son, Robert Bruce, had gone as a crusader to Palestine, in
company with his friend Adam de Kilcontack, who was Earl of Carrick in
right of his wife Martha. Kilcontack died at the siege of Acre, and
Bruce, returning, married the young countess, and had a large family.

There were three Robert Bruces living at the time of the judgment at
Norham--the father, Lord of Annandale; the son, Earl of Carrick; and
the grandson, still a child. As he grew up, he was sent to serve in the
English army, and for some time did so without apparent misgivings; and
the connection was drawn closer by his marriage with Joan de Valence,
one of the cousins of Edward I. In order to secure a part of the
property at all events, the father gave up his Scottish fiefs to his
son, and returned to England, there to live in unbroken allegiance to

When Balliol was driven to declare against Edward, he confiscated the
estates of all who adhered to the English, and gave Annandale to John
Comyn of Badenoch, the son of his sister Marjory. The Red Comyn, as
he was called, seized Bruce’s Castle of Lochmaben, and sowed seeds of
deadly hatred; but on the downfall of Balliol he shared the captivity of
the unfortunate “toom tabard,” and did not return to Scotland for some
years. When Wallace’s revolt broke out, young Bruce, who was only
twenty-three, at first followed his instinct of obedience to Edward, and
took an oath to support him against all his enemies, and in pursuance
of it ravaged the lands of the brave Douglas, and carried his wife and
children into captivity. Some sense either of ambition or patriotism,
however, stirred within him, and assembling his men of Annandale, he
told them that he had taken a foolish oath, but that he deeply repented
of it, and would be absolved from it, inviting them to join him in
maintaining the cause of their country. They took alarm, and all
disappeared in the course of the night, and he joined the patriots
alone, but not with all his heart, for he soon made his peace with
Edward, and gave his only child, Marjory, as a hostage. Thenceforward he
vacillated, sometimes inclining to the King, sometimes to the Scottish
party, and apparently endeavoring to discover how far he could be secure
of the Scots giving him their crown, provided he took their part. He
showed a lamentable contempt for his word; for, on his father’s death,
he again did homage, and swore fealty to Edward, both for his lands in
England and Scotland, and at the same time he was making secret treaties
with Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrew’s, and with Comyn. Balliol having
resigned the crown, and being in prison with all his family, was
considered to be set aside, and Bruce proposed to Comyn, that whichever
of them should claim the kingdom, should purchase the support of the
other by resigning to him his own inheritance. Comyn appeared to agree,
and, to prevent suspicion, Bruce attended the court in London; but while
he was there, Comyn wrote to betray his proposal to Edward, who took
measures for seizing the conspirator; but these becoming known to his
cousin, young Gilbert de Clare, the King’s grandson, he contrived to
give Bruce warning by sending him a pair of spurs and some pieces of

Bruce understood the hint, and galloped off with his horse’s shoes
turned backward, so as to baffle pursuit. He came safely, on the fifth
day, to his own border castle of Lochmaben, where he found his brother
Edward. Keeping watch, they seized a messenger on his way to the English
court, bearing letters from Comyn, which explained to Bruce what the
peril had been, and who the traitor. Still he was forced to dissemble,
and went as usual to the court of the English justiciary at Dumfries,
which he was bound to attend. Comyn was likewise present, and there were
deadly glances between the two. Bruce called Comyn to hold a private
interview with him in the church of the Minorite friars, and, while
their words waxed fierce, Bruce reproached Comyn with treachery. The
answer was, “You lie!” and Bruce, enraged, struck with his dagger at his
enemy; then, horror-struck at seeing him fall, rushed out of the church,
and called, “To horse!” Two of his attendants, Lindsay and Kirkpatrick,
struck by his pale looks and wild eyes, asked what had befallen him.

“I doubt,” he said, “that I have slain the Red Comyn!”

“You doubt!” cried Kirkpatrick; “I’ll mak sicker”--or sure: and, so
saying, hurried back into the church, and slew not only the wounded man,
but his uncle, Sir Robert Comyn, who tried to defend him. The “bloody
dirk” and the words “mak sicker” were adopted as crest and motto by the
Kirkpatrick family. Strange instance of barbarism, that the dastardly,
sacrilegious murder of a helpless man on the steps of the altar should
be regarded as an achievement worthy of pride!

Still, the fruits of that deed were the deliverance of Scotland. The man
who had hitherto wavered, cast about by circumstances, and swayed by
family interest, assumed a new character, and became the patient,
undaunted champion of his country.

In utter desperation, Bruce’s first measure was to defend himself
against the English justiciaries, and, rallying his friends, he took
possession of the castle of Dumfries, where they were holding their
court in a hall. They barricaded themselves within, but the fierce Scots
set fire to the doors, and they surrendered, whereupon Bruce permitted
them to depart in safety.

Nothing was left for Bruce, blood-stained and branded with treachery and
impiety, but to set up his standard and fight to the last; since he had
offended too deeply ever to find mercy, and the lot of Davydd or of
Wallace were samples of what he had to expect. He was handsome, well
educated, of great personal strength and prowess, and frank, winning
address, and the Scots had suffered so much under their oppressors, that
they were ready to rally round the first leader who offered himself.

Going to his castle of Lochmaben, he mustered his adherents. They
amounted only to three bishops, two earls, and fourteen barons, with
their followers, and his own four brothers, Edward, Nigel, Thomas,
and Alexander. With his little force he get out for Scone, where the
Scottish kings were crowned, and on his way met a young knight, riding
alone, but well mounted and well armed. As he raised his visor to do
his homage to the King Robert of Scotland, and showed his dark hair and
complexion, he was recognized as James, the eldest son of that William,
Baron Douglas, of Douglasdale, who alone had withheld his allegiance
from Edward, and whose lands, after Bruce himself had ravaged them, had
been given to the English Lord Clifford. The youth had been educated in
France, and brought the graces of a gentler school of chivalry when he
cast in his lot with his ill-used country men. Thus began the lifelong
friendship of Bruce and “good Sir James Douglas,” who was, “wise, wight,
and worthy,”

  “Was never over-glad in winning, nor over-sad in tyneing.”

From Scone, the crown, royal stone, and robes had been carried off to
England; and the Earl of Fife, who, since the days of Macduff, had had
the right of placing the King upon his throne, was in the hands of the
English: but the Bishop of Glasgow provided rich raiment; a little
circlet of gold was borrowed of an English goldsmith; and Isabel,
Countess of Buchan, the sister of the Earl of Fife, rode to Scone,
bringing her husband’s war-horses, and herself enthroned King Robert.
The coronation took place on the Feast of the Annunciation, 1306, and
thus began a dynasty whose fate was remarkably similar to the sacrilege
and murder in which their rise was founded. Never was royal line of whom
it could so truly be said, that the sword never departed from them, and
there was not an old man in their house for ever. High endowments and
honest purposes could not redeem them, and Scotland never rested nor was
purified from deadly hate and the shedding of innocent blood till the
last of them was dying, a childless exile, and her sceptre was in the
hands of that power against which Bruce arose.

The news of Brace’s coronation filled Edward I. with rage. Fourteen
years’ work, at the cost of honor, mercy, and the love of his people,
all was undone, and the spirit of independence still uncrushed.

Edward regarded Bruce as so sacrilegious a traitor, that a war with him
was almost sacred; he swore to revenge Red Comyn’s death, and prepared
for the war in the most solemn manner. His son Edward was in his 22d
year, and had not yet been knighted, and the King convoked all the young
nobles to share in the solemnity.

On Whitsun-eve three hundred tents were erected in the Temple gardens,
and in each was a young esquire of noble blood, clad in white linen and
scarlet cloth, from the King’s own wardrobe. Around the circular church
of the Temple they watched their armor, and in the early morning the
Prince received knighthood in private from the hands of his father, who
had become too unwell to encounter the whole fatigue of the day. The
Prince conferred the order on his companions, and a magnificent banquet
took place in Westminster Hall, where the old King himself presided. In
the midst a golden net was brought in containing two swans, the emblems
of constancy and truth; and laying his hand on these, the King vowed
that he would never sleep two nights in the same place till he should
have chastised the Scots, and that he then would embark for Palestine,
and die in the holy war. All the young knights made the same vow; and
Edward made them swear that, if he should die in the course of the
war, they would keep his body above ground till the conquest should be

In the meantime, Clement V. had visited Bruce’s crime with
excommunication; and though the primate, Lamberton, would not receive
the letters bearing the sentence, it was less easy to be inattentive
to the enormous force that Edward I. had despatched under his viceroy,
Aymar de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, while he followed with mind only
bent on revenge.

Bruce ravaged Galloway, and marching on Perth, where De Valence was in
garrison, challenged him to come out to battle. Aymar answered that it
was too late in the day, and he must wait till morning; and the Scots
settled themselves in the wood of Methven, where they were cooking their
suppers, when Valence ungenerously took them by surprise, falling on
them with a far superior force. Robert was on the alert, and killed
Aymar’s horse; but three times he was himself unhorsed: and once
Philippe Mowbray was crying out that he had the new-made King, when
Christopher Seton came to the rescue, and killed the Englishman. Robert,
with about five hundred men, retreated safely into the rugged country
of Athol; but he lost many of his best friends, who were slain or made
prisoners, the latter being for the most part hung as rebels, except
his sister’s son, Thomas Randolph, who made his peace by renouncing his

King Edward had advanced as far as Carlisle. But he was now in his 67th
year, and though his blue eye was not dim, nor his tall form bent, age
was beginning to tell on him, and he was detained by sickness. His
armies advanced, and while their cruelties shocked even his stern heart,
he set them a fatal example by the unsparing manner in which he ordered
the execution of all whom he considered as accomplices in rebellion.

The King and his small band of followers lived a wild, outlaw life, in
the hills, hunting and fishing; and his English wife, Joan de Valence,
with his two sisters, Mary and Christian, and the Countess of Buchan,
came, under the escort of young Nigel Bruce, to join them. A few weeks
ensued in the wilds of Bredalbane which had all the grace of “As You Like
It.” The Queen and ladies were lodged in bowers of the branches of trees,
slept on the skins of deer and roe, and the King and his young knights
hunted, fished, or gathered the cranberry or the whortleberry for their
food; while the French courtliness of James Douglas, and the gracious
beauty of young Nigel, threw a romance over the whole of the sufferings
so faithfully and affectionately endured.

But advancing autumn forced them to think of providing shelter, and
as they advanced toward the Tay, they came into the country of John
Macdougal, Lord of Lorn, a son-in-law of the Red Comyn, and therefore at
deadly feud with the Bruces. He collected his Highland vassals, and set
upon the little band in a narrow pass between a lake and a precipice,
where they could not use their horses: and the Highlanders did dreadful
execution with their Lochaber axes; James Douglas was wounded, and so
many of the horses destroyed, that Bruce ordered a retreat, and set
himself to cover it, almost alone. Lorn himself was reminded of the
heroes of Highland romance, as he saw the knightly figure riding calmly
along the shore of the lake, guarding his flying army by the might of
his presence, and the Archdeacon of Aberdeen found a simile for him in
the romances of Alexander; but three men named M’Androsser, a father
and two sons, all of great strength, sprang forward, vowing to slay the
champion, or make him prisoner. One seized his rein, and at the same
moment Bruce’s sword sheared off the detaining hand, but not before the
other brother had grasped his leg to hurl him from the saddle. With a
touch of the spur the horse leaped forward, and as the man fell, his
head was cleft by the King’s sword. The grapple with the father was more
severe; he grasped the King’s mantle, and when Bruce dashed out his
brains with his mace, the death-clutch was so fast, that Bruce was
forced to undo the brooch at his throat to free himself from the dead
man. The brooch was brought as a trophy to Lorn, whose party could not
help breaking out into expressions of admiration, which began to anger

“It seems to give you pleasure,” he said, “to see such havoc made among
us.” “Not so,” answered one; “but be he friend or foe who achieves high
deeds of knighthood, men should do faithful witness to his valor.”

When the King had safely conducted his friends from this danger, he
decided that the ladies should be placed in Kildrummie Castle, in Mar,
under the keeping of young Nigel, while his followers dispersed for the
winter, and he would shelter in the Hebrides. It was a sad and long
parting, for Kildrummie Castle was soon taken, and Edward sternly
condemned Nigel to be hung, in spite of his youth and innocence; and
Christopher Seton, the King’s dearest friend, was soon after taken, and
shared the same fate. The bishops were carried in chains to England,
and Queen Joan also was sent home as a prisoner with her little daughter
Marjory. Mary Bruce and Isabel of Buchan were still more harshly
treated, being each shut up in an open cage of latticed wood, exposed
to the weather and to the public gaze, the one at Berwick, the other
at Roxburgh Castle. Christian had the better fate of being placed in a

In the meantime, Bruce and his few friends had wandered on to the banks
of Loch Lomond, where they could only find one leaky boat, unable to
hold more than three. Bruce, Douglas, and one other were the first
to cross, and the third then rowed back for another freight, while
throughout this tedious waiting the King made his friends forget their
troubles by reciting poems and tales of chivalry. He spent part of the
winter in Kentire, and the rest at the little island of Rachrin,
so entirely lost to the knowledge of his enemies, that derisive
proclamation was made for Robert Bruce, lost, stolen, or strayed. The
Pope’s legate solemnly excommunicated him at Carlisle, with bell, book,
and candle; and Annandale was given to the Earl of Hereford, and Carrick
to Henry Percy, whilst the executions of his relatives and adherents
were both savage and cruel.

It was while depressed by such dreadful tidings that Bruce, as he lay on
his bed at Rachrin, drew counsel and encouragement from the persevering
spider, resolved to stake his fortunes on another cast, and, if
unsuccessful, to die as a warrior in the Holy Land. The spring of 1307
was coming on, and he had found a friend in Christina, the Lady of the
Isles, who furnished him with some vessels, in which Douglas descended
upon the Isle of Arran, and surprised Brodick Castle, which was full of

Bruce was not long in following them, and, landing secretly, blew his
bugle horn.

“The King!” cried James Douglas; “I know his manner of blowing!”

“The King!” cried Robert Boyd; “let us make speed to join him!”.

Bruce had brought with him thirty-three galleys, and, meditating a
landing in his own county of Carrick, just opposite, he sent a trusty
friend, named Cuthbert, to feel his way; agreeing that, if he found
the people favorably disposed, he should light a fire as a signal on
Turnberry Head. The flame burst out at night, and Bruce and his little
band embarked; but, on landing, he found no welcome on the shore, only
Cuthbert, who knelt in dismay to assure the King that he knew not what
hand had kindled the blaze; it was none of his, for the people were
terror-stricken, Turnberry Castle was full of English, and he feared
that it was the work of treachery. Nor has that strange beacon ever been
accounted for; it is still believed to have been lit by no mortal hand,
and the spot where it shone forth is called the Bogle’s Brae. Whether
meteor or watch-fire, it lit the way to Robert Bruce’s throne.

He took counsel whether to return, or not; but his fiery brother,
Edward, vowed that, for his part, he would never return to the sea, but
would seek his adventures by land, and Bruce decided on being led by his
strange destiny. Percy’s horses and men were quartered in the villages
round, and falling on them by surprise, he made a rich booty, and drove
the remainder to take refuge in the castle.

A lady of Bruce’s kindred brought him forty men and a supply of money
and provisions, but, on the other hand, she told him the sad news of the
loss of Kildrummie and the death of Nigel; and nearly at the same time,
his two youngest brothers, who had been to collect forces in Ireland,
were met as they landed by the Macdowalls of Galloway, routed, wounded,
and made prisoners. They were taken to King Edward at Carlisle, and at
once hanged without mercy. Bruce vowed a deadly vengeance, but he was
again put to dreadful straits. He had four hundred men with him at
Ammock, in Ayrshire, when Aymar de Valence and John of Lorn pursued him
with eight hundred Highlanders and men-at-arms, setting on his traces a
bloodhound, once a favorite of his own, and whose instinct they basely
employed against his master.

Bruce, hoping to confuse them, divided his followers into three bands,
appointing them a place of meeting; but the hound was not to be thus
baffled, and followed up his master’s footsteps. Again the royal party
broke up, the King keeping with him only his foster-brother; but again
the hound singled out his traces, and followed him closely. Lorn sent
on five of his fleetest Highlanders to outstrip the dog, believing them
able to cope with the two whose footmarks he saw. Bruce soon saw them
dashing alter him, and asked his foster-brother, “What aid wilt them

“The best I can,” he said; and the King undertook to deal with three,
leaving the other two to his foster-brother; but he had to turn aside
from his own combat to rescue his companion, and four out of the five
fell by his hand; yet he thanked his foster-brother for his aid in
the encounter. The baying of the hound came near enough to be heard,
revealing why the enemy had so well distinguished his tread: and Bruce,
who had been sitting under a tree, spent with fatigue, sprang up,
exclaiming that he had heard that to wade a bow-shot through a stream
would make any dog lose scent, and he would put it to proof by walking
down the little stream that crossed the wood. This device succeeded, the
running water effaced the scent, the hound was at fault, and Lorn gave
up the attempt.

Still the hunted pair were in evil case; they had lost their way, and
were spent with fatigue, and they could not extricate themselves from
the forest. By and by they met three wild, vagabond-looking men coming
with swords and axes, and one with a sheep thrown over his shoulders.
The King accosted them, and asked whither they were bound. They said
they sought Robert Bruce, since, wherever he was, there would be

“Come with me,” he said; “I will take you to him.”

At this they changed countenance, so that he suspected them, and
insisted that they should walk on before him in front, without the two
parties mingling together. At nightfall they came to an empty shed,
where they killed the sheep; but Bruce, still on his guard, chose to
have a separate fire, and to eat and sleep apart beside it, himself and
his foster-brother taking turns to watch. The foster-brother, heavy and
exhausted, dropped off to sleep on his watch, and almost at the same
moment the three robbers fell upon them. Bruce, who slept lightly, was
on the alert in a moment, and slew the whole three, but not in time to
save his foster-brother, who died under a blow from the marauders. The
King then went mournfully on his way to the place of rendezvous, and by
and by came to a farm, where he was welcomed by a loyal goodwife,
who declared that she wished well to all travellers for the sake of
one--King Robert. Here he was joined by one hundred and fifty men, with
his brother Edward, and James Douglas; and the first remedy thought of
for all their fatigues was to fall on their pursuers, who were carousing
in the villages. Attacking them suddenly, they inflicted far more injury
than had been suffered through this day of pursuit.

Bruce was gathering men so fast, that he ventured to give battle to
Aymar de Valence at London Hill, and defeated him chiefly by using the
long spears of the Scottish infantry against the horse of the English.
Aymar went to explain the state of affairs to King Edward at Carlisle.
Such tidings lashed the old monarch to more vehement action; he prepared
to set forth at once against the enemy; but it was not to be. Wars were
over with him forever. The sudden death of his daughter, Joan, strongly
affected him, and at only one day’s march from Carlisle he became so
ill, that he was forced to rest at Burgh on the Sands, where he speedily
declined. His last injunctions to his son were, to be kind to his little
brothers, and to maintain three hundred knights for three years in the
Holy Land. The report went, that he further desired that his flesh might
be boiled off his bones, and these wrapped in a bull’s hide to serve as
a standard to the army; but Edward’s hatred never was so mad as this
would have been, and there is no reason to believe in so absurd a story.

There could perhaps be found no more appropriate monument than that in
Westminster Abbey, contrasting, as it does, its stern simplicity with
the gorgeous grace of his father’s inlaid shrine, and typifying well the
whole story of the fallen though still devout crusader--the dark-gray
slab of Purbeck marble, with the inscription:

  Edwardus Primus. Malleus Scotorum, 1308. Pactum Serva.
  Edward the First. The Hammer of the Scots. Keep covenants.


   _King of England_.
   1307. Edward II.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1306. Robert I.

  _King of France_.
   1385. Philippe IV.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1308. Henry VII.

   1305. Clement V.

“The foolishness of the people” is a title that might be given to many
a son of a wise father. The very energy and prudence of the parent,
especially when employed on ambitious or worldly objects, seems to
cause distaste, and even opposition, in the youth on whom his father’s
pursuits have been prematurely forced. Seeing the evil, and weary of
the good, it often requires a strong sense of duty to prevent him from
flying to the contrary extreme, or from becoming wayward, indifferent,
and dissipated.

This has been the history of many an heir-apparent, and of none more
decidedly than of Edward of Carnarvon. The Plantagenet weakness, instead
of the stern strength of the house of Anjou, had descended to him; and
though he had what Fuller calls “a handsome man-case,” his fair and
beautiful face was devoid of the resolute and fiery expression of his
father, and showed somewhat of the inanity of regular features, without
a spirit to illuminate them. Gentle, fond of music, dancing, and every
kind of sport, he had little turn for state affairs; and like his
grandfather, Henry III., but with more constancy, he clung to any one
who had been able to gain his affections, and had neither will nor
judgment save that of the friend who had won his heart.

His first friend--and it was a friendship till death--was Piers
Gaveston, the son of a knight of Guienne. Piers was a few years older
than the Prince, and so graceful, handsome, ready of tongue, and
complete in every courtly accomplishment, that Edward I. highly
approved of him as his son’s companion in early boyhood; and Piers
shared in the education of the young Prince of Wales and of his favorite
sister, Elizabeth. Edward I. was a fond father, and granted his son’s
friend various distinguished marks of favor, among others the wardship
of Roger, the son and heir of the deceased Edmund Mortimer, warden of
the Marches of Wales. Whatever were the intentions of Gaveston, Roger
Mortimer did little credit to his education. The guardian had a license
to use his ward’s property like his own till his majority, in order that
he might levy the retainers for the King’s service, and he obtained a
handsome gratuity from the relatives of the lady to whom he gave the
youth in marriage, and this, probably, was the extent of the obligations
to which Gaveston considered himself as bound.

Both he and his Prince were strongly sensitive to all that was tasteful
and beautiful; they were profuse in their expenditure in dress, in
ornament, and in all kinds of elegances, and delighted in magnificent
entertainments. They gave one in the Tower of London to the princesses,
on which occasion an immense expenditure was incurred, when the Prince
of Wales was only fifteen; and his presents were always on the grandest
scale to his sisters, who seem to have loved him as sisters love an only

By and by, however, generosity became profusion, and love of pleasure
ran into dissipation. Grave men grew uneasy at the idle levity of the
Prince, and were seriously offended by the gibes and jests in which the
tongue of Gaveston abounded, and at which he was always ready to laugh.
In 1305, the Prince made application to Walter Langley, Bishop of
Litchfield, the King’s treasurer, to supply him with money, but was
refused, and spoke improperly in his anger. It is even said that he
joined Gaveston in the wild frolic of breaking into Langley’s park, and
stealing his deer. At any rate, at Midhurst, on the 13th of June, the
Bishop seriously reproved him for his idle life and love of low company;
and the Prince replied with such angry words, that the King, in extreme
displeasure, sent him in a sort of captivity to Windsor Castle, with
only two servants.

All his sisters rose up to take their brother’s part, and assure him of
their sympathy. The eager, high-spirited Joan, Countess of Gloucester,
sent him her seal, that he might procure whatever he pleased at her
cost; and Elizabeth, who was married to Humphrey de Bohun, the great
Earl of Hereford, wrote a letter of warm indignation, to which he
replied by begging her not to believe anything, save that his father was
acting quite rightly by him; but a few weeks after, he wrote to beg
her to intercede that his “two valets,” Gilbert de Clare and Perot de
Gaveston, “might be restored to him, as they would alleviate much of
his anguish.” He addressed a letter with the like petition to his
stepmother, Queen Margaret, and continued to evince his submission by
refusing his sister Mary’s invitations to visit her at her convent at
Ambresbury. At the meeting of parliament, Edward met his father again,
and received his forgiveness. All went well for some time, and he
gracefully played his part in the pageantry of his knighthood and the
vow of the Swans.

Gaveston still continued about his person, and accompanied him to the
north of England. At the parliament of Carlisle, in 1307, the Prince
besought his father to grant his friend the earldom of Cornwall, the
richest appanage in the kingdom, just now vacant by the death of his
cousin, Edmund d’Almaine, son of the King of the Romans. Whether this
presumptuous request opened the King’s eyes to the inordinate power that
Gaveston exercised over his son, or whether he was exasperated against
him by the complaints of the nobles, his reply was, to decree that,
after a tournament fixed for the 9th of April, Gaveston must quit the
kingdom forever; and he further required an oath from both the friends,
that they would never meet, again, even after his death. Oaths were
lightly taken in those days, and neither of the gay youths was likely to
resist the will of the stern old monarch; so the pledge was taken, and
the Prince of Wales remained lonely and dispirited, while Piers hovered
on the outskirts of the English dominions, watching for tidings that
could hardly be long in coming.

So much did Edward I. dread his influence, that, on his deathbed, he
obliged his son to renew his abjuration of Gaveston’s company, and laid
him under his paternal malediction should he attempt to recall him.
It does not appear that Gaveston waited for a summons. He hurried to
present himself before his royal friend, who had, in pursuance of his
father’s orders, advanced as far as Cumnock, in Ayrshire.

Both had bitterly to rue their broken faith, and heavily did the
father’s curse weigh upon them; but at first there was nothing but
transport in their meeting. The merry Piers renewed his jests and
gayeties; he set himself to devise frolics and pageantries for his young
master, and speedily persuaded him to cease from the toils of war in
dreary Scotland, and turn his face homeward to the more congenial
delights of his coronation, and his marriage with the fairest maiden
in Europe. To have made peace with Bruce because the war was an unjust
aggression, would have been noble; but it was base neither to fight nor
to treat, and to leave unsupported the brave men who held castles in
his name in the heart of the enemy’s country. But Edward was only
twenty-two, Gaveston little older, and sport was their thought, instead
of honor or principle. Piers even mocked at the last commands of the
great Edward, and not only persuaded the new King to let the funeral
take place without waiting for the conquest of Scotland, but to bestow
on him even the bequest set apart for the maintenance of the knights in
Palestine. At Dumfries, on his first arrival, the coveted earldom of
Cornwall was granted to him; and, on his return, he was married to the
King’s niece, Margaret de Clare, daughter to Joan of Acre. He held his
head higher than ever, and showed great discourtesy to the nobility. He
had announced a tournament at Wallingford in honor of his wedding, and
hearing that a party of knights were coming to the assistance of the
barons who had accepted his encounter, he sallied out privately with
his followers, and attacked and dispersed the allies, so as to have the
advantage in his own hands in the melée. Such a dishonorable trick was
never forgotten, though probably the root was chiefly vanity, which
seems to have been the origin of all his crimes, and of his ruin.

The chancellor and all the late King’s tried ministers were displaced,
and some, among whom was the good Bishop of Litchfield, were imprisoned
for two years. Gaveston, without any regular appointment, took the great
seal into his own keeping, and set it to charters which he filled up
after his fancy. In the meantime, the King set off for France, to
celebrate his marriage with Isabel, the daughter of Philippe le Bel,
the princess for whose sake the Flemish maiden was pining to death in
captivity. The seal of this most wretched of unions was, that Philippe
took this opportunity of persuading the gentle, reluctant Edward II, to
withdraw his protection from the Templars in his dominions, and give
them up to the horrible cruelty and rapacity of their exterminator.
Isabel’s dowry was furnished from their spoils. The wedding took place
on St. Paul’s Day, 1308, in the presence of four kings and queens, and
the festivities lasted a fortnight; after which the young bride and
bridegroom set off on their return to Dover, where Edward’s favorite
sister, Elizabeth, was already come to greet the little Queen, a
beautiful girl of thirteen, proud, high-spirited, and exacting, very
unwilling to be treated as a child. Her two uncles came with her, and
a splendid train of nobles; and two days after their landing, Gaveston
arrived at Dover, when, at first sight of him, Edward rushed into his
arms, calling him brother, and disregarding every one else. Almost at
the same time the King gave his favorite the whole of the rich jewelry
and other gifts which had been bestowed on him by his father-in-law,
Philippe le Bel; and this was regarded as a great affront by the young
Queen and her uncles. Gaveston had a childish complaint of his own
to make--men would not call him by his new title; and presently a
proclamation came out, rendering it a crime to speak of him as Piers,
Piers Gaveston, or as anything but the Earl of Cornwall.

It was the more resented because he was not respectful with other men’s
titles, and amused the King with nicknames for the nobles. Thomas, Earl
of Lancaster, the son of Edmund Crouchback, was “the old hog” and
the “stage-player;” pale, dark, Provençal Aymar de Valence, Earl of
Pembroke, he called “Joseph the Jew;” the fierce Guy, Earl of Warwick,
“the black dog of Ardennes.” The stout Earl swore that he should find
that the dog could show his teeth; and when Gaveston announced a
tournament for the 18th of February at Feversham, no one chose to attend
it, whereupon he jeered at them as cowards.

The King issued writs summoning his nobles to meet for his coronation on
the 25th of February, but they took the opportunity of insisting that
Gaveston should be dismissed from favor. Edward evasively answered that
he would attend to their wishes at the meeting of parliament, and they
were obliged to be content for the present; but they were exceedingly
angry that, at the coronation, Piers appeared more splendidly and richly
attired than the King himself, and bearing on a cushion the crown of St.
Edward, while the Earl of Lancaster carried curtana, the sword of mercy,
and his brother Henry the rod with the dove. The Bishop of Winchester
performed the ceremony, Archbishop Winchelsea not having returned from
his exile; and the King and Queen made magnificent offerings: the
King’s being first, a figure of a king in gold, holding a ring; the
second, of a pilgrim given the ring; intended to commemorate the vision
in which St. Edward received the coronation-ring from St. John the

Gaveston arranged the whole ceremony; but as his own display was his
chief thought, he managed to affront every one, and more especially the
young Queen and her uncles, so that Isabel wrote a letter to her father
full of complaints of her new lord and his favorite, and Philippe
entered into correspondence with the discontented nobility. In the
tournaments in honor of the coronation, Piers came off victorious over
the Earls of Lancaster, Hereford, Pembroke, and Warrenne, and this
mortification greatly added to their dislike. At the meeting of
parliament, the Barons were so determined against the favorite, that
finally Edward was obliged to yield, and to swear to keep him out of the
kingdom; though, to soften the sentence, he gave him the manors of High
Peak and Cockermouth, and made him governor of Ireland, bestowing on
him, as a parting token, all the young Queen’s gifts to himself--rings,
chains, and brooches; another great vexation to Isabel. He was obliged,
at the same time, to grant forty other articles, giving greater security
to the people.

Gaveston made a better governor of Ireland than could have been
expected, repressed several incursions of the wild Irish, and repaired
the castles on the borders of the English pale; but his haughty
deportment greatly affronted the Irish barons of English blood, and they
were greatly discontented with his rule.

The King was, in the meantime, doing his utmost to procure the recall
of the beloved Earl. He wrote to the Pope to obtain absolution from his
oath, and to the King of France to entreat him to relax his hostility;
and he strove to gain his nobles over one by one, granting offices to
Lancaster, and making concessions to all the rest. Philippe le Bel made
no answer; Clement V. sent exhortations to him to live in harmony with
his subjects, but at last absolved Gaveston, on condition that he should
demean himself properly, and submit his differences with the Barons to
the judgment of the Church.

Gaveston hurried home on the instant; his master flew to meet him, and
received him at Chester with raptures of affection. Thence Edward sent
explanations to the sheriffs of each county, saying, that Gaveston
having been unjustly and violently banished, it was his duty to recall
him, to have his conduct examined into according to the laws. The
Barons, on the other hand, put forth other declarations, persuading the
people that the King having violated one of the oaths, he evidently
meant to break the other forty, which regarded their personal liberties.

Gaveston did nothing to mitigate the general aversion. He had not learnt
wisdom by his first fall, and though the clergy and commons meeting at
Stamford granted a twenty-fifth of the year’s produce to the King, and
consented to his remaining so long as he should demean himself properly,
he soon disgusted them also. He wore the crown-jewels openly, and
affected greater contempt than ever for the Barons, till it became
popularly said that there were two Kings, the real one a mere subject to
the false. The young Queen wrote piteous complaints to her father of her
husband’s neglect; and the Countess of Cornwall had still greater wrongs
from Gaveston to complain of to her brother, the Earl of Gloucester.
Dances, sports, and gayeties were the occupation of the court, heedless
of the storm that was preparing. The Barons, jealous, alarmed, and
irritated, looked on in displeasure, and on the All-Saints’ Day of 1310,
after high mass at St. Paul’s, the bold-spirited Archbishop Winchelsea,
in his pontifical robes, standing on the step of the altar, made a
discourse to the Earls of Lancaster, Lincoln, Pembroke, Hereford, and
eight other persons, after which he bound them by an oath to unite to
deliver the kingdom from the exactions of the favorite, and pronounced
sentence of excommunication against any who should reveal any part of
their confederation before the time.

The Earl of Lincoln, the last of the Lacys, shortly after fell sick, and
made what he thought a death-bed exhortation to the Earl of Lancaster,
who had married his only daughter, not to abandon England to the King
and the Pope, but, like the former barons, to resist all infractions of
their privileges.

This Earl of Lancaster was the son of Edmund Crouchback and of Blanche
of Artois, mother of the Queen of France. He was a fine-looking man,
devout and gracious, and much beloved by the people, who called him the
Gentle Count; but Gaveston’s nickname for him of the “stage-player”
 may not have been unmerited, for he seems to have been over-greedy of
popular applause and influence, and to have had much personal ambition;
and it does not seem certain, though Gaveston might be vain, and
his master weak and foolish, that Lancaster and his friends did not
exaggerate their faults, and excite the malevolence of a nation never
tolerant either of royal favorites or of an expensive court. Pembroke
was Aymar de Valence, son of one of the foreign brothers who had been
the bane of Henry III.; but now, becoming a thorough Englishman, he bore
the like malice to the unfortunate Gascon who held the same post as his
own father had done. Hereford, though husband to the King’s favorite
sister Elizabeth, was true to the stout old Bohun, his father, who
had sworn to Edward I. that he would neither go nor hang. Two poor
butterflies, such as Edward II. and Gaveston, could have done little
injury to the realm, but the fierce warriors were resolved to crush
them, impatient of the calls upon their purses made needful by their

A tournament had been announced at Kennington, and preparations were
made; but Gaveston’s jousts were not popular. None of the Barons
accepted the invitation, and in the night the lists and scaffolding were
secretly carried away. This mortification was ominous, but Edward’s
funds were so low that he could not avoid summoning a parliament to meet
at Westminster; and at their meeting the nobles again resorted to the
device of Montfort at the Mad Parliament. They brought their armed
followers, and forced the King to consent to the appointment of a
committee of ordainers, who made him declare that this measure proceeded
of his own free will, and was not to prejudice the rights of the
Crown; but that their office would expire of itself on the ensuing
Michaelmas-Day. So strangely and inconsistently did they try to bring
about their own ends without infringing on the constitution.

Gaveston had either previously hidden himself, or was driven away by
the ordainers; but the King, anxious to escape from their surveillance,
proclaimed an expedition to Scotland, and summoned his vassals to meet
him at York. Hardly any noble came except Gaveston, and they made an
ineffectual inroad into Scotland together, after which Gaveston shut
himself up in Bamborough Castle, while the King went to London to
receive the decision of the ordainers. The foremost was, of course, the
banishment of Gaveston; and he went, but only again to appear, before
two months were past, in the company of the King, at York.

Lancaster and his friends now look up arms and marched northward. Edward
and his court had proceeded to Newcastle, but no army was with them; and
on the report of the advance of the enemy the King fled to Tynemouth,
and embarked in a little boat with his friend, leaving behind him his
wife, discourteously perhaps, but hardly cruelly, for Isabel was the
niece of Lancaster, and probably would have been in more danger from
a sea-voyage in a rude vessel, than from the rebel lords. She was,
however, greatly offended, and was far more inclined to her uncle, who
wrote her an affectionate letter, than to her regardless husband.

Edward and Piers landed at Scarborough, where the King was obliged to
leave his friend for security, while he went on to raise his standard
at York. Few obeyed the summons, and Pembroke hastened to besiege
Scarborough. It was impossible to hold out, and Gaveston surrendered,
Pembroke and Henry Percy binding themselves for his safety to the King,
under forfeiture of life and limb. Gaveston was to be confined in his
own castle of Wallingford, and the Earl proceeded to escort him thither.
But at Dedington Pembroke left the party to visit his wife, who was in
the neighborhood, and, on rising in the morning, Gaveston beheld the
guard changed. They bore the badge of Warwick, and the grim black dog
of Ardennes rode exulting at their head. The unhappy man was set upon
a mule, and carried to Warwick Castle, where Lancaster, Hereford, and
Surrey, were met to decide his fate in the noble pile newly raised by
Earl Guy, to whom the loftiest tower owes its name.

They set Piers before them, and gave him a mock trial. At first there
was a reluctance to shed blood, but a voice exclaimed, “Let the fox
go, and you will have to hunt him again.” And it was resolved that, in
defiance of law and of their own honor, Piers Gaveston should die.

He flung himself on his knees before Lancaster, and implored mercy; but
in vain he called him “Gentle Count.” “Old hog” rankled in the mind of
the Earl, who, with his two confederates, rode-forth to Blacklow Hill,
a knoll between Warwick and Coventry, and there, beneath the clump of
ragged pine-trees, they sternly and ruthlessly looked on while, on June
19th, 1312, the head of the unfortunate young Gaveston was struck off, a
victim to his own vanity and the inordinate affection of his master.

Pembroke, regretting either his carelessness or his treachery, when he
saw the dreadful consequences, went to the King, and satisfied him of
his innocence. Poor Edward was at first wild with grief and rage, but
his efforts to punish the murderers were fruitless; and gradually his
wrath cooled enough to listen to the mediation of the Pope and King of
France, and he consented to grant the Barons a pardon. They wanted to
force him, for their own justification, to declare Gaveston a traitor;
but weak as Edward was, his affection could not be overcome. He could
forgive the murderers, but he could not denounce the memory of the
murdered friend of his youth. And the Barons were forced to content
themselves with receiving a free pardon after they had come to profess
their penitence on their knees before the King enthroned in Westminster

Gaveston had been buried by some friars at Oxford; but, twelve years
after, Edward showed how enduring his love had been, by transporting the
corpse to the church he had newly built at Langley, and placing with his
own hands two palls of gold on the tomb.


  _King of England_.
   1307. Edward II.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1306. Robert I.

  _King of France_.
   1285. Philippe IV.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1308. Henry VII.

   1305. Clement VI.

While the son of the Hammer of the Scots wasted his manhood in silken
ease, the brave though savage patriots of the North were foot by foot
winning back their native soil.

Lord Clifford had posted an English garrison in Douglas Castle, and
reigned over Douglasdale, which had been granted to him by Edward I. on
the forfeiture of Baron William. It sorely grieved the spirit of James
Douglas to see his inheritance held by the stranger, and, with Bruce’s
permission, he sought his own valley in disguise, revealing himself only
to an old servant, named Thomas Dickson, who burst into tears at the
first sight of his young lord, and gave him shelter in his cottage.

Here Douglas lay concealed, while Dickson conducted to him, one by one,
his trusty vassals, and measures were concerted with total disregard to
the sacred holiday. Once, all Passion-tide would have been peaceful for
the sake of the Truce of God; but the wrongs of the Scots had blotted
out all the gentler influences that soften war, and in their eyes
justified treachery and sacrilege. On the Palm-Sunday of 1307, when
the English troops would come forth in procession to the Church of
St. Bride, carrying willow boughs in memory of the palm-branches at
Jerusalem, the adherents of Douglas intended to attack and beset them on
all sides, and Douglas, by way of encouragement, made a grant to Dickson
of the lands of Hisleside. Dickson and the other secret friends of the
Scots mingled in the procession, with their arms concealed, and entered
the church with the English, and no sooner had they disappeared within
the low doorway, than the loud slogan of “Douglas! Douglas!” was heard
without. Dickson drew his sword and ran upon the English, but the signal
had been given too soon, and he was overthrown and slain before Sir
James came up. The English bravely defended the chancel, but Douglas
and his armed followers prevailed, killed twenty-six, took twelve
prisoners, and set out for the castle, which, in full security, had
been left with all the gates open, with no one within but the porter,
and the cook dressing the dinner, which was eaten by very different
guests from those whom they expected. Douglas had not men enough to hold
the castle, and had a great dislike to standing a siege. “I had rather
hear the lark sing, than the mouse squeak,” was his saying, and he
therefore resolved to return to his king on the mountains, and carry off
all the treasure and arms that could be transported from Douglasdale. As
to the remainder, he showed that French breeding had not rooted the
barbarian even out of the “gentil Lord James.” He broke up every barrel
of wheat, flour, or meal, staved every cask of wine or ale among them on
the floor of the hall, flung the corpses of dead men and horses upon
them, slew his prisoners on the top of the horrible compound, and
finally set fire to the castle, calling it, in derision, the Douglas

Clifford, enraged at this horrible foray, came in person to Douglasdale,
cleansed the fire-scathed walls, built a new tower, and entrusted the
defence to a captain named Thirlwall. Him Sir James deluded by sending
fourteen men to drive a herd of cattle past the castle, when Thirlwall,
intending to plunder the drovers, came forth, fell into the ambush laid
for him by Douglas, and was slain with all his men.

It went forth among the English, that Black Sir James had made oath
that, if he abode not within his father’s castle, neither should any
Englishman dwell there. The knights of Edward’s court named it the
“Perilous Castle of Douglas,” and Lord Clifford found that even brave
men made excuses, and were unwilling to risk the dishonor of the loss,
or to run the chance of serving to furnish a second Douglas larder. At
this juncture a young lady, enthusiastic in romance, bethought her of
making her hand the reward of any knight who would hold out the Perilous
Castle for a year and a day. The spirited Sir John de Walton took the
damsel at her word, and shut himself up in Douglas Castle; but his
prudence did not equal his courage, and he fell a prey to the same
stratagem which had deluded Thirlwall, except that the bait, in this
case, was sacks of corn instead of wandering cattle. The young knight
was slain in the encounter, when his lady’s letters were found in
his bosom, and brought to Sir James, who was so much touched by this
chivalrous incident that he spared the remainder of the garrison, and
gave them provisions and money to return in safety to Clifford
[Footnote: The wild adventures at the Perilous Castle derive a most
affecting interest from the chord they never failed to touch in the
heart of “The Last Minstrel.” Seen by him when a schoolboy, the Dale of
Douglas, the ruin of the castle, and the tombs at St. Bride’s, aided to
form his spirit of romance; the Douglas ballad lore rang in his ears
through life, stirring his heart and swelling his eyes with tears; and
the home of the Douglas was the last spot he sought to explore, in the
land which he loved with more than a patriot’s love. Castle Dangerous
was the last tale he told; and though the hand was feeble, the brain
over-tasked, and the strain faltering, yet still the same heart breathed
in every word, and it was a fit farewell from Scott to the haunted
castles, glens, and hills of his home.]

Douglasdale, Ettrick Forest, and Jeddart, were thus made too terrible to
be held by the English; but Bruce himself was for a long time disabled
by a severe illness which gave slight hope of recovery. At Inverary, the
Earl of Buchan made an attack on him when he was still so weak as to be
obliged to be supported on horseback by a man on either side of him;
but he gained a complete victory, and followed it up by such a dreadful
devastation, that “the harrying of Buchan” was a proverb for half a
century. The oaks sunk deep in the mosses bear marks of fire on their
trunks, as if in memory of this destruction.

Another victory, a “right fair point of chivalry,” was gained in
Galloway by Edward Bruce, who in one year, 1308, took thirteen
fortresses in that district. Robert might well say that “he was more
afraid of the bones of Edward I. than of the living Edward of
Caernarvon, and that it was easier to win a kingdom from the son than
half a foot of land from the father.” Edward II. was always intending to
come to Scotland in person, and wasting time in preparations, spending
subsidies as fast as he collected them, and changing his governors. In
less than a year six different rulers were appointed, and, of course no
consistent course could be pursued by nobles following each other in
such quick succession.

At a lonely house near Lyme Water, Sir James Douglas captured the King’s
sister’s son, Thomas Randolph, and led him to Bruce.

 “Nephew” said Bruce, “you have forgotten your allegiance.”

“Have Done nothing of which I have been ashamed,” returned Randolph.
“You blame me, but you deserve blame. If you choose to defy the King
of England, why not debate the matter like a true knight in a pitched

“That may be hereafter,” replied Bruce, calmly; “but since thou art so
rude of speech, it is fitting thy proud words should be punished, till
thou learn my right and thy duty.”

Whatever was, strictly speaking, Bruce’s _right_, his nephew learnt
in captivity to respect it, gave in his adhesion to King Robert, was
created Earl of Moray, and became one of the firmest friends of
his throne. The world was beginning to afford the successful man
countenance, and the cunning Philippe le Bel wrote letters which were
to pass through England under the address of the Earl of Carrick, but,
within, bore the direction to King Robert of Scotland.

A vain march of Edward II into Scotland was revenged by a horrible
inroad of the Scots into Northumberland, up to the very gates of Durham.
On his return, Robert tried to surprise Berwick, but was prevented by
the barking of a dog, which awakened the garrison. He next besieged
Perth. After having discovered the shallowest part of the moat, he made
a feint of raising the siege, and, after an absence of eight days, made
a sudden night-attack, wading through the moat with the water up to his
neck, and a scaling-ladder in one hand, while with the other he felt his
way with his spear.

“What,” cried a French knight, “shall we say of our lords, who live at
home in ease and jollity, when so brave a knight is here risking his
life to win a miserable hamlet?”

So saying, the Frenchman rushed after the King and his men, and the
town was taken before the garrison were well awake.

About the same time Douglas came upon Roxburgh, when the garrison were
enjoying the careless mirth of Shrovetide. Hiding their armor with dark
cloaks, Sir James and his men crept on all-fours through the brushwood
till they came to the very foot of the battlements, and could hear a
woman singing to her child that the Black Douglas should not touch it,
and the sentries saying to each other that yonder oxen were out late.
Planting their ladders, the Scots gained the summit of the tower,
killed the sentinels, and burst upon the revelry with shouts of
“Douglas! Douglas!” The governor, a gallant Burgundian knight, named
Fiennes, retreated into the keep, and held out till he was badly
wounded, and forced to surrender, when he was spared, and retreated
to die in England, while the castle was levelled to the ground by
Edward Bruce.

The destruction of these strongholds was matter of great joy to the
surrounding peasantry, who had been cruelly despoiled by the English
soldiers there stationed; and a farmer, named Binning, actually made an
attempt upon the great fortress of Linlithgow, which was well
garrisoned by the English. He had been required to furnish the troops
with hay, and this gave him the opportunity of placing eight strong
peasants well armed, lying hidden, in the wagon, by which he walked
himself, while it was driven by a stout countryman with an axe at his
belt, and another party were concealed close without the walls.

The drawbridge was lowered, and the portcullis raised to admit the
forage, when, at the moment that the wagon stood midway beneath the
arch, at a signal from the farmer, the driver with his axe cut asunder
the yoke, the horses started forward, and Binning, with a loud cry,
“Call all! call all!” drew the sword hidden under his carter’s frock,
and killed the porter. The eight men leaped out from among the hay, and
were joined by their friends from the ambush without; the cart under
the doorway prevented the gates from being closed, and the pile of
hay caught the portcullis as it fell. The Englishmen, surprised and
discomfited, had no time to make head against the rustics, and were
slaughtered or made prisoners; the castle was given up to the King,
and Binning received the grant of an estate, and became a gentleman of
coat-armor, with a wagon argent on his shield, and the harnessed head of
a horse for a crest.

Jedburgh, Stirling, and Edinburgh, were the last castles still in the
hands of the invaders. The Castle of Edinburgh, aloft on the rock
frowning above the town, had been held by the English full twenty years,
and, when Randolph was sent to besiege it, was governed by a Gascon
knight named Piers Luband, a kinsman of Gaveston. In hatred and
suspicion of all connected with the minion, the English soldiers rose
against the foreigner, threw him into a dungeon, and, electing a fresh
captain, made oath to hold out to the last. The rock was believed to be
inaccessible, and a blockade appeared to be the only means of reducing
the garrison. This had already lasted six weeks, when a man named Frank,
coming secretly to Randolph, told him that his father had formerly been
governor, and that he, when a youth, had been in the habit of scrambling
down the south face of the rock, at night, to visit a young damsel who
lived in the Grass-market, and returning in the same manner; and he
undertook to guide a party by this perilous ascent into the very heart
of the castle.

Randolph caught at the proposal, desperate as it was, and, selecting
thirty men, chose an excessively dark night for the adventure. Frank
went the first, climbing up the face of the precipice with hands and
feet; then followed Sir Andrew Grey; thirdly, Randolph himself; and
then the rest of the party. The ascent was exceedingly difficult and
dangerous, especially in utter darkness and to men in full armor,
fearing to make the slightest noise. Coming to a projecting crag, close
under the wall, they rested to collect their breath, and listen. It
was the moment when the guards were going their rounds, and, to their
horror, they heard a soldier exclaim, as he threw a pebble down on them,
“Away! I see you well!” A few more stones, and every man of them might
have been hurled from the cliff by the soldiers merely rolling down
stones on them. They dared not more, and a few moments’ silence proved
that the alarm had been merely a trick to startle the garrison--a jest
soon to turn to earnest.

When the guard had passed on, the brave Scots crept to the foot of the
wall, where it was only twelve feet high, and fixed the iron hook of
their rope-ladder to the top of it. Ere all had mounted, the clank
of their weapons had been heard, shouts of “Treason!” arose, and the
sentinels made a brave resistance; but it was too late, and, after some
hard fighting, the survivors of the garrison were forced to surrender.
Sir Piers Luband, on being released from his dungeon, offered his
services to King Robert, whereupon the English laid all the blame of
the loss of the castle upon him, declaring that he had betrayed them.
Randolph’s seizure of Edinburgh was considered as the most daring of all
the many gallant exploits of the Scots.

Bruce forayed Cumberland, and threatened Berwick, so that the poor
Countess of Buchan was removed from thence to a more secure place of
captivity. He also pursued his enemies, the Macdougals of Lorn, up the
passes of Cruachan Ben, and even hunted them into the Isle of Man, where
he took Rushyn Castle, and conquered the whole island. In his absence,
Edward Bruce took Dundee, and besieged Stirling, until the governor,
Philip Mowbray, was reduced to such straits by famine, that he begged
for a truce, in which to go and inform the King of England of the state
of affairs, promising to surrender on the Midsummer Day of the following
year, if he were not relieved before that time. Edward Bruce granted
these terms, and allowed Mowbray to depart. Robert was displeased at
such a treaty, giving a full year to the enemy to collect their forces:
but his brother boldly answered, “Let Edward bring every man he has; we
will fight them--ay, and more too!” King Robert saw more danger than did
the reckless prince, but he resolved to abide by his brother’s word,
though so lightly given. It was, in fact, a challenge to the decisive
battle, which was to determine whether Bruce or Plantagenet should reign
in Scotland.

Mowbray’s appeal met with attention at court. Edward II. had newly
recovered from the loss of Gaveston, and hoped by some signal success
to redeem his credit with his subjects. He sent his cousin, the Earl
of Pembroke, who was well experienced in Scottish wars, to the North;
despatched writs to ninety-three Barons to meet him with their retainers
at Newcastle, three weeks after Easter, 1313; summoned all the Irish
chiefs under his obedience to come with Richard de Burgh, Earl of
Ulster; called in Gascon troops, placed a fleet under the charge of
John of Argyle, and took every measure for the supply of his army with
provisions, tents, and every other necessary. For once the activity and
spirit of his father seemed to have descended upon him, and, as the
summer of 1313 drew on, he set out with Queen Isabel, and their infant
son the Prince of Wales, to St. Alban’s Abbey, where, amid prayers and
offerings for the success of his enterprise, he bade her farewell.

At Berwick he met his host, and, to his disappointment, found that four
of the disaffected earls, Lancaster, Warwick, Arundel, and Warrenne,
had absented themselves; but they had sent their vassals in full force.
Edward’s troops, at the lowest computation, could not have been less
than 100,000, of whom 40,000 were mounted, and 3,000 of these were
knights and squires, both men and horses sheathed in plate-armor.

To meet this force, Bruce could only muster 40,000 men, poorly armed,
and few of them mounted, and those on small, rough mountain steeds,
utterly incapable of withstanding the shock of the huge Flemish chargers
ridden by the English knights. The fatal power of the English long-bow
was like wise well known to the Scots; but Bruce himself was a tried
captain, and the greater part of his followers had been long trained by
succession of fierce conflicts. They had many a wrong to revenge, and
they fought for home and hearth; stern, severe, savage, and resolute,
they were men to whom defeat would have brought far worse than
death--unlike the gay chivalry who had ridden from England as to a
summer excursion.

The army met in the Torwood, near Stirling, and were reviewed with
cheerfulness by King Robert. He resolved to compensate for the
inferiority of his cavalry by fighting on foot, and by abiding the
attack in a field called the New Park, which was so covered with trees
and brushwood, and broken by swamps, that the enemy’s horse would lose
their advantage; and on the left, in the only open and level ground
near, he dug pits and trenches, and filled them with pointed stakes and
iron weapons called calthorps, so as to impede the possible charge of
the knights.

The little burn, or brook, of Bannock, running through rugged ground
covered with wood, protected his right, and the village of St. Ninian
was in front. He divided his little army into four parts: the first
under his brother Edward; the second under Douglas and young Walter,
High Steward of Scotland; the third under Randolph; and the fourth body,
the reserve, under his own command. The servants and baggage were placed
on an eminence in the rear, still called Gillies Hill.

By this time it was the 23d of June, and early on Sunday morning the
soldiers heard mass and confessed as dying men, then kept the vigil of
St. John by fasting on bread and water. Douglas and Sir Robert Keith
rode out to reconnoitre, and came back, reporting to the King that
the enemy were advancing in full force, with banners displayed and in
excellent array; but warily spreading a rumor among the Scots that they
were confused and disorderly.

In effect, Edward II. had hurried on so hastily and inconsiderately,
that his men and horses were spent and ill-fed when he arrived in the
neighborhood of Stirling. Two miles from thence, he sent 800 horsemen
with Sir Robert Clifford, with orders to outflank the Scottish army, and
throw themselves into the town. Concealed by the village of St. Ninian,
this body had nearly effected their object, when they were observed by
the keen eye of Bruce, who had directed his nephew to be on the watch
against this very manoeuvre. Riding up on his little pony to Randolph,
he upbraided him, saying, “Thoughtless man, you have lightly kept your
trust! A rose has fallen from your chaplet!”

Randolph at once hurried off with a small body of his best men to repair
his error; but presently his little party were seen so hotly pressed
by the English, that Douglas entreated to be allowed to hasten to his
rescue. “You shall not move,” said the King. “Let Randolph free himself
as he may. I will not alter my order of battle, nor lose my vantage of

“My liege,” cried Lord James, as the heavily-armed knights and horses
closed in on the few Scottish foot, “I cannot stand by and see Randolph
perish, when I can give him help! By your leave, I must go to his

Robert sighed consent, and Douglas hastened off; but at that moment
he beheld the English troop in confusion, some horses rushing away
masterless, and the rest galloping off, while the Scots stood compactly
among their dead enemies.

“Halt!” then said Douglas, “they have won; we will not lessen their
glory by seeking to share it.”

By this time the foremost English battalions, with the Earls of
Gloucester and Hereford, had come into the New Park, and were near
enough to see King Robert, with a gold crown on his helmet, riding on
his pony along the front of his lines. A relation of Hereford’s, Sir
Henry Bohun, upon this sight, rode impetuously forward to make a sudden
attack on the leader, expecting to bear him down at once by the weight
of his war-horse.

Bruce swerved aside, so as to avoid the thrust of the lance, and at the
same moment, rising in his stirrups, with his battle-axe in hand, he
dealt a tremendous blow as Sir Henry was carried past; and such was the
force of his arm, that the knight dropped dead from his horse, with his
skull cleft nearly in two.

The Scottish chiefs, proud of their King’s prowess, but terrified by the
peril he had run, entreated him to be more careful of his person; but he
only returned by a tranquil smile, as he looked at the blunted edge of.
his weapon, saying “he had spoilt his good battle-axe.”

In revenge for this attack, the Scots pursued the English vanguard for
a short distance, but the King recalled them to their ranks, and made a
speech, calling on them all to be in arms by break of day, forbidding
any man to break his line for pursuit or plunder, and promising that the
heirs of such as might fall should receive their inheritance without the
accustomed feudal fine.

All night there was the usual scene; the smaller and more resolute army
watched and prayed, the larger revelled and slept. Edward, among his
favorites and courtiers, had hardly believed that there would “be
any battle, and had no notion of generalship, keeping his whole army
compressed together, so that their large numbers were encumbering
instead of being available. Five hundred horse were closely attached to
his person, with the Earl of Pembroke, Sir Ingeltram de Umfraville, and
Sir Giles de Argentine, the last a gallant knight of St. John. When he
rode forward in the morning, Edward was absolutely amazed at the
sight of the well-ordered lines of Scottish infantry, and turning to
Umfraville, asked if he really thought those Scots would fight. At that
moment Abbot Maurice, of Inchaffray, who had just been celebrating mass,
came barefooted before the array, holding up a crucifix, and raising his
hand in blessing, as all the army bent to the earth, with the prayers of
men willingly offering themselves.

“They kneel! they kneel!” cried Edward. “They are asking mercy.”

“They are, my liege,” said Umfraville, “but it is of God, not of us.
These men will win the day, or die upon the field.”

“Be it so,” said the King, and gave the word.

The Earls of Gloucester and Hereford rushed to the charge with loud
war-cries. Each Scot stood fast, blowing wild notes on the horn he wore
at his neck, and the close ranks of infantry stood like rocks against
the encounter of the mailed horse, their spears clattering against the
armor in the shock till the hills rang again. Randolph meanwhile led his
square steadily on, till it seemed swallowed up in the sea of English;
and Keith, with the five hundred horsemen of the Scots army, making a
sudden turn around Milton Bog, burst in flank upon the English archery,
ever the main strength of the army. The long-bow had won, and was again
to win, many a fair field; but at Bannockburn the manoeuvre of the
Scots was ruinous to the yeomanry, who had no weapons fit for a close
encounter with mounted men-at-arms, and were trodden down and utterly

The ground was hotly contested by the two armies; banners rose and fell,
and the whole field was slippery with blood, and strewn with fragments
of armor, shivers of lances and arrows, and rags of scarfs and pennons.
The English troops began to waver. “They fail! they fail!” was the
Scottish cry, and as they pressed on with double vehemence, there rose
a shout that another host was coming to their aid. It was only the
servants on the Gillies Hill, crowding down in the excitement of
watching the battle, but to the dispirited English they appeared a
formidable reinforcement of the enemy; and Robert Bruce, profiting by
the consternation thus occasioned, charged with his reserve, and decided
the fate of the day. His whole line advancing, the English array finally
broke, and began to disperse. Earl Gilbert of Gloucester made an attempt
to rally, and, mounted on a noble steed--a present from the King--rode
furiously against Edward Bruce; but his retainers hung back, and he
was borne down and slain before his armorial bearings were recognized.
Clifford and twenty-seven other Barons were slain among the pits, and
the rout became general. The Earl of Pembroke, taking the King’s horse
by the bridle, turned him from the field, and his five hundred guards
went with him. Sir Giles de Argentine saw them safely out of the battle,
then, saying, “It is not my custom to fly!” he bade Edward farewell, and
turned back, crying, “An Argentine!” and was slain by Edward Bruce’s

Douglas followed hotly on the King, with sixty horse, and on the way met
Sir Laurence Abernethy with twenty more, coming to join the English; but
finding how matters stood, the time-serving knight gladly proceeded to
hunt the fugitives, and they scarcely let Edward II. draw rein till he
had ridden sixty miles, even to Dunbar, whence he escaped by sea.

Bannockburn was the most total defeat which has ever befallen an English
army. Twenty-seven nobles were killed, twenty-two more and sixty knights
made prisoners, and the number of obscure soldiers slain, drowned in the
Forth, or killed by the peasantry, exceeds calculation. The camp was
taken, with an enormous booty in treasure, jewels, rich robes, fine
horses, herds of cattle, machines for the siege of towns, and, in short,
such an amount of baggage that the wagons for the transport were
numerous enough to extend in one line for sixty miles. Even the King’s
signet was taken, and Edward was forced to cause another to be made to
supply its place. One prisoner was a Carmelite friar named Baston, whom
Edward of Caernarvon had brought with him to celebrate his victory in
verse; whereupon Robert imposed the same task by way of ransom; and the
poem, in long, rhyming Latin verses, is still extant.

The plunder was liberally shared among the Scottish army, and the
prisoners were treated with great courtesy and generosity. The slain
were reverently buried where they fell, except Lord Clifford and the
Earl of Gloucester, whose corpses were carried to St. Ninian’s kirk, and
sent with all honor to England.

Bruce had not forgotten that the blood of the Clares ran in his own
veins, and that Gloucester had warned him of his danger at King Edward’s
court: he not only lamented for the young Earl, but he released Ralph de
Monthermer, the stepfather of Earl Gilbert, and gave him the signet-ring
of Edward II. to bear home.

Gilbert was the last male of the stout old line of De Clares.
Gloucester, and his estates descended to his three sisters--Margaret,
the widow of Gaveston; Eleanor, the wife of Hugh le Despenser; and
Elizabeth, who shortly after married John de Burgh, Earl of Ulster.

The Earl of Hereford had taken refuge in Bothwell Castle, but was unable
to hold it out, and surrendered. He was exchanged for captives no less
precious to Robert Bruce than his well-earned crown. The wife, daughter,
and sister, who had been prisoners for eight years, were set free,
together with the Bishop of Glasgow, now blind, and the young Earl of
Mar. Marjory Bruce had grown from a child to a maiden in her English
prison, and she was soon betrothed to the young Walter, Steward of
Scotland; but it was enacted that, if she should remain without a
brother, the crown should descend to her uncle Edward.

That midsummer battle of Bannockburn undid all the work of Edward I.,
and made Scotland an independent kingdom for three hundred years longer.
Ill-government, a discontented nobility, and a feeble King, had brought
England so low, that the troops could not shake off their dejection,
and a hundred would flee before two or three Scottish soldiers.
Bruce ravaged the northern counties every summer, leaving famine and
pestilence behind him; but Edward II. had neither spirit nor resolution
to make war or peace. The mediation of the Pope and King of France
was ineffectual, and years of warfare passed on, impressing habits of
perpetual license and robbery upon the borderers of either nation.


  _Kings of England_.
   1272. Edward I.
   1307. Edward II.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1306. Robert I.

  _Kings of France_.
   1285. Philippe IV.
   1314. Louis X.

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1292. Adolph.
   1296. Albert I.
   1308. Henry VII.
   1314. Louis V.

   1296. Boniface VIII.
   1303. Benedict XI.
   1305. Clement V.

Crusades were over. The dream of Edward I. had been but a dream, and
self-interest and ambition directed the swords of Christian princes
against each other rather than against the common foe. The Western
Church was lapsing into a state of decay and corruption, from which she
was only partially to recover at the cost of disruption and disunion,
and the power which the mighty Popes of the twelfth century had gathered
into a head became, for that very cause, the tool of an unscrupulous

The colony of Latins left in Palestine had proved a most unsuccessful
experiment; the climate enervated their constitutions; the _poulains_,
as those were called who were born in the East, had all the bad
qualities of degenerate races, and were the scorn, and derision of Arabs
and Europeans alike; nor could the defence have been kept up at all, had
it not been for the constant recruits from cooler climates. Adventurous
young men tried their swords in the East, banished men there sought to
recover their fame, the excommunicate strove to win pardon by his sword,
or the forgiven to expiate his past crime; and, besides these irregular
aids, the two military and monastic orders of Templars and Hospitallers
were constantly fed by supplies of young nobles trained to arms and
discipline in the numerous commanderies and preceptories scattered
throughout the West.

Admirable as warriors, desperate in battle, offering no ransom but
their scarf, these knightly monks were the bulwark of Christendom, and
would have been doubly effective save for the bitter jealousies of the
two orders against each other, and of both against all other Crusaders.
Not a disaster happened in the Holy Land but the treachery of one order
or the other was said to have occasioned it; and, on the whole, the
greater degree of obloquy seems usually, whether justly or not, to have
lighted on the Knights of the Temple. They were the richer and the
prouder of the two orders; and as the duties of the hospital were not
included in their vows, they neither had the same claims to gratitude,
nor the softening influence of the exercise of charity, and were simply
stern, hated, dreaded soldiers.

After a desperate siege, Acre fell, in 1292, and the last remnant of the
Latin possessions in the East was lost. The Templars and Hospitallers
fought with the utmost valor, forgot their feuds in the common danger,
and made such a defence that the Mussulmans fancied that, when one
Christian died, another came out of his mouth and renewed the conflict;
but at last they were overpowered by force of numbers, and were finally
buried under the ruins of the Castle of the Templars. The remains of
the two orders met in the Island of Cyprus, which belonged to Henry de
Lusignan, claimant of the crown of Jerusalem. There they mustered their
forces, in the hope of a fresh Crusade; but as time dragged on, and
their welcome wore out, they found themselves obliged to seek new
quarters. The Knights of the Hospital, true to their vows, won sword in
hand the Isle of Rhodes from the Infidel, and prolonged their existence
for five centuries longer as a great maritime power, the guardians of
the Mediterranean and the terror of the African corsairs. The Knights
Templars, in an evil hour for themselves, resolved to spend their time
of expectation in their numerous rich commanderies in Europe, where they
had no employment but to collect their revenues and keep their swords
bright; and it cannot but be supposed that they would thus be tempted
into vicious and overbearing habits, while the sight of so formidable a
band of warriors, owning no obedience but to their Grand Master and the
Pope, must have been alarming to the sovereign of the country. Still
there are no tokens of their having disturbed the peace during the
twenty-two years that their exile lasted, and it was the violence of a
king and the truckling of a pope that effected their ruin.

Philippe IV., the pest of France, had used his power over the French
clergy to misuse and persecute the fierce old pontiff, Boniface VIII.,
and it was no fault of Philippe that the murder of Becket was not
parodied at Anagni. Fortunately for the malevolent designs of the King,
his messengers quailed, and contented themselves with terrifying the old
man into a frenzied suicide, instead of themselves slaying him. The next
Pope lived so few days after his election, that it was believed that
poison had removed him; and the cardinals remained shut up for nine
months at Perugia, trying in vain to come to a fresh choice. Finally,
Philippe fixed their choice on a wretched Gascon, who took the name of
Clement V., first, however, making him swear to fulfil six conditions,
the last and most dreadful of which was to remain a secret until the
time when the fulfilment should be required of him.

Lest his unfortunate tool should escape from his grasp, or gain the
protection of any other sovereign, Philippe transplanted the whole papal
court to Avignon, which, though it used to belong to the Roman empire,
had, in the break-up after the fall of the Swabian house, become in
effect part of the French dominions.

There the miserable Clement learned the sixth condition, and, not daring
to oppose it, gave the whole order of the Templars up into his cruel
hands, promising to authorize his measures, and pronounce their
abolition. Philippe’s first measure was to get them all into his hands,
and for this purpose he proclaimed a Crusade, and actually himself took
the Cross, with his son-in-law Edward II., at the wedding of Isabel.

Jacque de Molay, the Grand Master, hastened from Cyprus, and convoked
all his chief knights to take counsel with the French King on this
laudable undertaking. He was treated with great distinction, and even
stood godfather to a son of the King. The greater number of the Templars
were at their own Tower of the Temple at Paris, with others dispersed
in numbers through the rest of France, living at ease and securely,
respected and feared, if not beloved, and busily preparing for an
onslaught upon the common foe.

Meanwhile, two of their number, vile men thrown into prison for former
crimes--one French, the other Italian--had been suborned by Philippe’s
emissaries to make deadly accusations against their brethren, such as
might horrify the imagination of an age unused to consider evidence.
These tales, whispered into the ear of Edward II. by his wily
father-in-law, together with promises of wealth and lands to be wrested
from them, gained from him a promise that he would not withstand the
measures of the French King and Pope; and, though he was too much shocked
by the result not to remonstrate, his feebleness and inconsistency
unfitted him either to be a foe or a champion.

On the 14th of September, 1307, Philippe sent out secret orders to his
seneschals. On the 13th of October, at dawn of day, each house of the
Templars was surrounded with armed men, and, ere the knights could rise
from their beds, they were singly mastered, and thrown into prison.

Two days after, on Sunday, after mass, the arrest was made known, and
the crimes of which the unfortunate men were accused. They were to be
tried before the grand inquisitor, Guillaume Humbert, a Dominican friar;
but in the meantime, to obtain witness against them, they were starved,
threatened, and tortured in their dungeons, to gain from them some
confession that could be turned against them. Out of six hundred
knights, besides a much greater number of mere attendants, there could
not fail to be some few whose minds could not withstand the misery of
their condition, and between these and the two original calumnies, a
mass of horrible stories was worked up in evidence.

It was said that, while outwardly wearing the white cross on their robe,
bearing the vows of chivalry, exercising the holy offices of priests,
and bound by the monastic rules, there was in reality an inner society,
bound to be the enemies of all that was holy, into which they were
admitted upon their reviling and denying their faith, and committing
outrages on the cross and the images of the saints. It was further said
that they worshipped the devil in the shape of a black cat, and wore his
image on a cord round their waists; that they anointed a great silver
head with the fat of murdered children; that they practised every kind
of sorcery, performed mass improperly, never went to confession, and had
betrayed Palestine to the Infidels.

For the last count of the indictment the blood that had watered Canaan
for two hundred years was answer enough. As to the confessional, the
accusation emanated from the Dominicans, who were jealous of the
Templars confessing to priests of their own order. With respect to the
mass, it appears that the habits of the Templars were similar to those
of the Cistercian monks; who, till The Lateran Council, had not elevated
the Host to receive adoration from the people.

The accusation of magic naturally adhered to able men conversant with
the East. The head was found in the Temple at Paris. It was made of
silver, resembled a beautiful woman, and was, in fact, a reliquary
containing the bones of one of the 11,000 virgins of Cologne. But truth
was not wanted; and under the influence of solitary imprisonment,
hunger, damp and loathsome dungeons, and two years of terror and misery,
enough of confessions had been extorted for Philippe’s purpose by the
year 1309.

Many had died under their sufferings, and some had at first confessed
in their agonies, and, when no longer tortured, had retracted all their
declarations with horror. These became dangerous, and were therefore
declared to be relapsed heretics, and fifty-six were burnt by slow
degrees in a great inclosure, surrounded by stakes, all crying out, and
praying devoutly and like good Christians till the last.

Having thus horribly intimidated recusant witnesses, the King caused the
Pope to convoke a synod at Paris, before which the Grand Master, Jacques
de Molay, was cited. He was a brave old soldier, but no scholar, and
darkness, hunger, torture, and distress had so affected him, that, when
brought into the light of day, he stood before the prelates and barons,
among whom he had once been foremost, so utterly bewildered and
confused, that the judges were forced to remand him for two days to
recover his faculties.

When brought before them again, he was formally asked whether he would
defend his order, or plead for himself. He made answer that he should
be contemptible in his own eyes, and those of all the world, did he not
defend an order which had done so much for him, but that he was in such
poverty that he had not fourpence left in the world, and that he must
beg for an advocate, to whom he would mention the great kings, princes,
barons, bishops, and knights whose witness would at once clear his
knights from the monstrous charges brought against them.

Thereupon he was told that advocates were not allowed to men accused of
heresy, and that he had better take care how he contradicted his own
deposition, or he would be condemned as relapsed. His own deposition,
as three cardinals avouched that he had made it before them, was then
translated to him from the Latin, which he did not understand. In
horror-struck amazement at hearing such words ascribed to himself, the
old knight twice made the sign of the cross, and exclaimed, “If the
cardinals were other sort of men, he should know how to deal with them!”

He was told that the cardinals were not there to receive a challenge to
battle. “No,” he said, “that was not what he meant; he only wished that
might befall them which was done by the Saracens and Tartars to infamous
liars--whose heads they cut off.”

He was sent back to prison and brought back again, less vehement against
his accusers, but still declaring himself a faithful Christian, and
begging to be admitted to the rites of religion; but he was left to
languish in his dungeon for two years longer, while two hundred and
thirty-one witnesses were examined before the commissaries. In May,
1311, five hundred and forty-four persons belonging to the order were
led before the judges from the different prisons, while eight of the
most distinguished knights, and their agent at Rome, undertook their
defence. Their strongest plea was, that not a Templar had criminated
himself, except in France, where alone torture had been employed;
but they could obtain no hearing, and a report was drawn up by the
commissaries to the so-called Council of Vienne. This was held by
Clement V. in the early part of 1312; and on the 6th of March it passed
a decree abolishing the Order of the Temple, and transmitting its
possessions to the Knights of St. John.

There were other councils held to try the Templars in the other lands
where they had also been seized. In England, the confessions of the
knights tortured in France were employed as evidence, together with the
witness of begging friars, minstrels, women, and discreditable persons;
and on the decision of the Council of Vienne, the poor knights
confessed, as well they might, that their order had fallen under evil
report, and were therefore pardoned and released, with the forfeiture of
all their property to the hospital. Their principal house in England was
the Temple in Fleet street, where they had built a curious round church
in the twelfth century, when it was consecrated by the Patriarch
Heraclius of Jerusalem. The shape was supposed to be like the Holy
Sepulchre, to whose service they were devoted; but want of space obliged
them to add a square building of three aisles beyond. This, with the
rest of their property, devolved on the Order of St. John, who, in
the next reign, let the Temple buildings for £10 per annum to the
law-students of London, and in their possession it has ever since
continued. The ancient seal of the knights, representing two men mounted
upon one horse, was assumed by the benchers of one side of the Temple,
though in the classical taste of later times the riders were turned into
wings, and the steed into Pegasus; while their brethren bear the lamb
and banner, likewise a remembrance of the Crusaders who founded the
round church, eight of whom still lie in effigy upon the floor.

In Spain the bishops would hardly proceed at all against the Templars,
and secured pensions for them out of the confiscated property. In
Portugal they were converted into a new order for the defence of the
realm. In Germany, they were allowed to die out unmolested; but in Italy
Philippe’s influence was more felt, and they were taken in the same net
with those in France. There the King’s coffers were replenished with
their spoil, very little of which ever found its way to the Knights of
St. John. The knights who half confessed, and then recanted, were put to
death; those who never confessed at all, were left in prison; those who
admitted the guilt of the order, were rewarded by a miserable existence
at large. The great dignitaries--Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master, and
Guy, the son of the Dauphin of Auvergne, the Commander of Normandy, and
two others--languished in captivity till the early part of 1314, when
they were led out before Notre Dame to hear their sentence read,
condemning them to perpetual imprisonment, and rehearsing their own
confession once more against them.

The Grand Master and Guy of Auvergne, both old men, wasted with
imprisonment and torture, no sooner saw the face of day, the grand old
cathedral, and the assembly of the people, than they loudly protested
that these false and shameful confessions were none of theirs; that
their dead brethren were noble knights and true Christians; and that
these foul slanders had never been uttered by them, but invented
by wicked men, who asked them questions in a language they did not
understand, while they, noble barons, belted knights, sworn Crusaders,
were stretched on the rack.

The Bishops present were shocked at the exposure of their treatment, and
placed them in the hands of the Provost of Paris, saying that they would
consider their case the next morning. But Philippe, dreading a reaction
in their favor, declared them relapsed, and condemned them to the flames
that very night, the 18th of March. A picture is extant in Germany, said
to have been of the time, showing the meek face of the white-haired,
white-bearded Molay, his features drawn with wasting misery, his eyes
one mute appeal, his hands bound over the large cross on his breast. He
died proclaiming aloud the innocence of his order, and listened to with
pity and indignation by the people. His last cry, ere the flames stifled
his voice, was an awful summons to Pope Clement to meet him before the
tribunal of Heaven within forty days; to King Philippe to appear there
in a year and a day.

Clement V. actually died on the 20th of April; and while his nephews and
servants were plundering his treasures, his corpse was consumed by fire
caught from the wax-lights around his bier. His tyrant, Philippe le Bel,
was but forty-six years of age, still young-looking and handsome; but
the decree had gone forth against him, and he fell into a bad state of
health. He was thrown from his horse while pursuing a wild boar, and the
accident brought on a low fever, which, on the 29th of November, 1314,
brought him likewise to the grave. He left three sons, all perishing,
after unhappy marriages, in the flower of their age, and one daughter,
the disgrace and misery of France and England alike.

So perished the Templars; so their persecutors! It is one of the darkest
tragedies of that age of tragedies; and in many a subsequent page shall
we trace the visitation for their blood upon guilty France and on the
line of Valois. They were not perfect men. They have left an evil name,
for they were hard, proud, often, licentious men, and the “Red Monk”
 figures in many a tradition of horror; but there can be no doubt that
the brotherhood had its due proportion of gallant, devoted warriors, who
fought well for the cross they bore. Their fate has been well sung by
Lord Houghton:

  “The warriors of the sacred grave,
  Who looked to Christ for laws,
  And perished for the faith they gave
  Their comrades and the cause;

  They perished, in one fate alike,
  The veteran and the boy,
  Where’er the regal arm could strike,
  To torture and destroy:

  While darkly down the stream of time,
  Devised by evil fame,
  Float murmurs of mysterious crime,
  And tales of secret shame.

  How oft, when avarice, hate, or pride,
  Assault some noble hand,
  The outer world, that scorns the side
  It does not understand,

  Echoes each foul derisive word,
  Gilds o’er each hideous sight,
  And consecrates the wicked sword
  With names of holy right.

  Yet by these lessons men awake
  To know they cannot bind
  Discordant will’s in one, and make
  An aggregate of mind.

  For ever in our best essays
  At close fraternal ties
  An evil narrowness waylays
  Our present sympathies;

  And love, however bright it burns
  For what it holds roost fond,
  Is tainted by its unconcern
  For all that lies beyond.

  And still the earth has many a knight
  By high vocation bound
  To conquer in enduring tight
  The Spirit’s holy ground.

  And manhood’s pride and hopes of youth
  Still meet the Templar’s doom,
  Crusaders of the ascended truth,
  Not of the empty tomb.”

CAMEO XL. THE BARONS’ WARS. (1310-1327.)

  _King of England_.
   1307. Edward II.
   1314. Louis X.
   1316. Philippe V.
   1322. Charles IV.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1306. Robert I.
   1314. Louis V.

  _Kings of France_.
   1285. Philippe IV

  _Emperors of Germany_.
   1308. Henry VII.

   1305. Clement V.
   1316. John XXII.

It was the misfortune of Edward of Caernarvon that he could not attach
himself in moderation. Among the fierce Earls, and jealous, distrustful
Barons, he gladly distinguished a man of gentle mould, who could return
his affection; but he could not bestow his favor discreetly, and always
ended by turning the head of his favorite and offending his subjects.

There was at his court a noble old knight, Sir Hugh le Despenser, whose
ancestors had come over with William the Conqueror, and whose father had
been created a Baron in 1264, as a reward for his services against Simon
de Montfort. To this gentleman, and to his son Hugh, Edward became
warmly attached; and apparently not undeservedly, for they were both
gallant and knightly, and the son was highly accomplished, and of fine
person. Edward made him his chamberlain, and gave him in marriage
Eleanor de Clare, the sister of the Earl of Gloucester who was killed at
Bannockburn, and one of the heiresses of the great earldom, with all its
rights on the Welsh marches.

Still, the love and sympathy of the nation were with the King’s cousin,
Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who probably obtained favor by liberality, or
by the arts for which poor Gaveston had named him the “stage-player,”
 since his life seems to have been dissolute under much appearance
of devotion. The last great Earl of Lincoln had chosen him as his
son-in-law, while the intended bride, Alice, was yet a young child. In
1310, just after Gaveston’s fall, Lincoln died, and the little Countess
Alice, then only twelve years old, became the wife of Lancaster; but in
1317 mutual accusations were made on the part of the Earl and Countess,
and Alice claimed to be set free, on account of a previous promise of
marriage; while Lancaster complained of Earl Warrenne for having allowed
a humpbacked knight, named Richard St. Martin, to carry Alice off to one
of his castles, called Caneford, and there to obtain from her the troth
now pleaded against him. Edward II. told Lancaster that he might proceed
against Warrenne in the ordinary course of law: but this he would not
do, as he did not wish to prove his wife’s former contract, lest he
should lose her great estates with herself; and instead of going
honorably to work, he added this reply to his list of discontents
against the King.

His friends even set it about that Edward II. was not the true son of
Edward I.; and a foolish man, named John Deydras, even came forward
professing to be the real Edward of Caernarvon, who had been changed at
nurse; but no one believed him, and he was hanged for treason. A like
story was invented, and even a ballad was current, making Queen Eleanor
of Provence confess that Edmund Crouchback, not Edward I., was the
rightful heir, but that he was set aside on account of his deformity;
and Lancaster, as Edmund’s son, was on the watch to profit by the King’s
unpopularity. Discontents were on the increase, and were augmented by a
severe famine, and by the constant incursions of the Scots. Such was the
want of corn, that, to prevent the consumption of grain, an edict was
enacted that no beer should be brewed; and meat of any kind was so
scarce, that, though the King decreed that, on pain of forfeiture, an ox
should be sold for sixteen shillings, a sheep for three and sixpence,
and a fowl for a penny, none of these creatures were forthcoming on any
terms. Loathsome animals were eaten; and it was even said that parents
were forced to keep a strict watch over their children, lest they should
be stolen and devoured.

While the King and Queen were banquetting at Westminster, at
Whitsuntide, 1317, a masked lady rode into the hall on horseback, and
delivered a letter to the King. Imagining it to be some sportive
challenge or gay compliment, he ordered that it should be read aloud;
but it proved to be a direful lamentation over the state of England, and
an appeal to him to rouse himself from his pleasures and attend to the
good of his people. The bearer was at once pursued and seized, when she
confessed that she had been sent by a knight; and he, on being summoned,
asked pardon, saying he had not expected that the letter would be read
in public, but that he deemed it the only means of drawing the King’s
attention to the miseries of his people. It may be feared that the
letter met with the fate of Jeremiah’s roll.

A cloud was already rising in the West, which seemed small and
trifling, but which was fraught with bitter hatred and envy, ere long to
burst in a storm upon the heads of the King and his friends. The first
seeds of strife were sown by the dishonesty of a knight on the borders
of Wales, one William de Breos. He began his career by trying to cheat
his stepmother of her dower of eight hundred marks; and when the law
decided against him, he broke out into such unseemly language against
the judge, that he was sentenced to walk bareheaded from the King’s
Bench to the Exchequer to ask pardon, and then committed to the Tower.
In after years he returned to his lordship of Gower, and there committed
an act of fraud which led to the most fatal consequences. Having two
daughters, Aliva and Jane, the eldest of whom was married to John de
Mowbray and the second to James de Bohun, he executed a deed, settling
his whole estate upon Aliva, and, in case of her death without children,
upon Jane. But concealing this arrangement, he next proceeded to sell
Gower three times over--to young Le Despenser, to Roger Mortimer, and to
the Earl of Hereford; and having received all their purchase-money, he
absconded therewith.

Mowbray took possession of Gower in right of his wife, and was thus
first in the field; but Hugh le Despenser, whose purchase had been
sanctioned by the King, came down upon him with a strong hand, and drove
him out of the property. Thereupon Mowbray made common cause with all
the other cheated claimants, De Bohun joining the head of his house, the
great Earl of Hereford, who, with Roger Mortimer and his uncle, another
Mortimer of the same name, revenged their wrongs by a foray upon Lady
Eleanor le Despenser’s estates in Glamorganshire, killing her servants,
burning her castles, and driving off her cattle, so that in a few nights
they had done several thousand pounds’ worth of damage. The King, much
incensed, summoned the Earl of Hereford to appeal before the council;
but the Earl demanded that Hugh le Despenser should be previously placed
in the custody of the Earl of Lancaster until the next parliament; and,
on the King’s refusal, made another inroad on the lands of the
Despensers, and betook himself to Yorkshire, where the Earl of Lancaster
was collecting all the malcontents.

The two Earls, the Lords of the Marches or borders of Wales, and
thirty-four Barons and Knights, bound themselves by a deed, agreeing to
prosecute the two Despensers until they should be driven into exile, and
to maintain the quarrel to the honor of Heaven and Holy Church, and the
profit of the King and his family. Lancaster proceeded to march upon
London, allowing his men to live upon the plunder of the estates of the
two favorites. From St. Alban’s he sent a message to the King, requiring
the banishment of the father and son, and immunity for his own party.
Edward made a spirited answer, that the father was beyond sea in his
service; the son with the fleet; that he would never sentence any man
unheard; and that it would be contrary to his coronation oath to promise
immunity to men in arms against the public peace.

The Barons advanced to London, and, quartering their followers in
Holborn and Clerkenwell, spent a fortnight in deliberation. It appears
that the token of adherence to their party was the wearing of a white
favor, on which account the session of 1321 was called the Parliament of
the White Bands. One day, when these white ensigns mustered strongly,
the Barons brought forward an accusation on eleven counts against the
two Despensers, and on their own authority, in the presence of the King,
banished them from the realm, and pardoned themselves for their rising
in arms. Edward had no power to resist, and, accordingly, the act was
entered on the rolls, and the younger Hugh was driven from Dover, to
join his father on the Continent.

This success rendered the Barons’ party insolent, and about two months
after, when Queen Isabel was on pilgrimage to Canterbury, and had sent
her purveyors to prepare a lodging for her at her own royal Castle
of Leeds, the Lady Badlesmere, wife to the Castellane, who was also
governor of Bristol and had received numerous favors from Edward,
refused admittance, fearing damage to her party; and the Queen riding up
in the midst of the parley, a volley of arrows was discharged from the
castle, and six of the royal escort were killed.

Isabel of course complained loudly of such a reception at her own castle,
whereupon Bartholomew Badlesmere himself wrote from Bristol Castle an
impudent letter, justifying his wife’s conduct. Isabel was much hurt,
since she had always been friendly to the Barons’ party; and when she
found that even her uncle of Lancaster stood by the Badlesmeres, she
persuaded the King to raise an army to revenge the affront offered to her.
Summonses were therefore sent out, and the Londoners, with whom the Queen
was very popular, came in great force, and laid siege to Leeds Castle.
Lady Badlesmere expected to be succored by Lancaster; but he would not
come forward, and in a few days her castle was taken, her steward, Walter
Culpepper, hanged, and herself committed to the Tower.

Such a bold stroke on the King’s part emboldened the elder Le Despenser
return to England and join his master. Thereupon Lancaster summoned the
other nobles to meet him at Doncaster, to consult what measures should
be taken against the minions, and led an army to seize Warwick Castle,
which, during the minority of Earl Thomas of Warwick, belonged to the
King. In the meantime, Hugh followed his father, but, with English
respect for order, put himself under custody until his sentence of
banishment should be revoked. The matter was tried before the Bishops of
the province of Canterbury, when it was argued, on behalf of Hugh,
that Magna Charta had been set at naught by his condemnation without a
hearing, and that the King’s consent had been extorted by force; and the
Earl of Kent, Edward’s brother, with several others, making oath that
they had been overawed by the White Bands, the banishment was declared
illegal, and the prisoners set at liberty.

Lancaster proceeded to raise the north of England; Hereford and the two
Mortimers went to the marches of Wales to collect their forces; and
Edward, for once under the wise counsel of the Chancellor John de
Salmon, set forth alertly in December toward the West, that he might
deal with the two armies separately. He was very popular on the Welsh
border, and met with rapid success, breaking up the forces of the Lords
Marchers before they could come to a head, and finally making both the
Mortimers prisoners, sending them to the Tower. Hereford, with 8,000 men,
made his way to join Lancaster, who was at the head of a considerable
force, and had already taken the miserable step of entering into
correspondence with Robert Bruce, Douglas, and Randolph. Elated by the
succor which they promised, Lancaster advanced and laid siege to Ticknall
Castle, but was forced to retreat on the approach of the King. At
Burton-upon-Trent, however, they halted for three days, with Edward
opposite to them.

  “Upon the mount the King his tentage fixt,
  And in the town the Barons lay in sight,
  When as the Trent was risen so betwixt,
  That for a while prolonged the unnatural fight.”

However, a ford was found, and the royal army crossing, Lancaster
set fire to Burton, and retreated into Yorkshire, writing again from
Puntefract Castle under the signature of King Arthur, to ask aid from
the Scots, and secure his retreat.

As Michael Drayton observes, “Bridges should seem to Barons ominous;”
 for at Boroughbridge, upon the Ure, Lancaster found Sir Andrew Harclay
and Sir Simon Ward, Governors of York and Carlisle, with a band of
northern troops, ready to cut off his retreat. The bridge was too narrow
for cavalry, and Hereford therefore led a charge on foot; but in this
perilous undertaking he was slain by a Welshman who was hidden under the
bridge, and who thrust a lance through a crevice of the boarding into
his body as he passed. His fall discomfited the rest, and Lancaster, who
had been attempting a ford, was driven back by the archery. He tried to
bribe Sir Andrew Harclay, and, failing, begged for a truce of one night,
still hoping that the Scots might arrive. Harclay granted this, but in
early morning summoned the sheriff and the county-force to arrest the
Earl. Lancaster retired into a chapel and, looking on the crucifix,
said, “Good Lord, I render myself to Thee, and put myself into Thy
mercy.” He was taken to York for one night, and afterward, to his own
Castle of Pontefract, where, on the King’s last disastrous retreat
from Scotland, he had mocked and jeered at his sovereign from the
battlements: and Harclay took care to make generally known the
treasonable correspondence with Scotland, proofs of which had been found
on the person of the dead Hereford.

The King presently arriving at Pontefract, brought Lancaster to trial
before six Earls and a number of Barons; and as his treason was
manifest, he was told that it would be to no purpose to speak in his own
defence, and was sentenced to the death of a traitor. In consideration
of his royal blood, Edward remitted the chief horrors of the execution,
and made it merely decapitation; but as the Earl was led to a hill
outside the town, on a gray pony without a bridle, the mob pelted him
and jeered him by his assumed name of King Arthur. “King of Heaven,”
 he cried, “grant me mercy! for the king of earth hath forsaken me.” He
knelt by the black with his face to the east, but he was bidden to turn
to the north, that he might look toward his friends, the Scots; and in
this manner he was beheaded. The inhabitants of the northern counties
were not likely to think lightly of the offence of bringing in the
Scots, and yet in a short time there was a strong change of feeling.
Lancaster was mourned as “the good Earl,” and miracles were said to be
wrought at his tomb. The King was obliged to write orders to the Bishop
of London to forbid the people from offering worship to his picture hung
up in St. Paul’s Church; and Drayton records a tradition that “grass
would never grow where the battle of Boroughbridge had been fought.” It
seemed as if Lancaster had succeeded to the reputation of Montfort, as
a protector of the liberties of the country: but to our eyes he appears
more like a mere factious, turbulent noble, acting rather from spite and
party spirit than as a redresser of wrongs; never showing the respect
for law and justice manifested by the opponents of Edward I.; and, in
fact, constraining the Royalists to appeal to Magna Charta against him.
Still there must have been something striking and attractive about him,
for, after his death, even his injured cousin Edward lamented him, and
reproached his nobles for not having interceded for him. Fourteen
bannerets and fourteen other knights were executed, being all who were
taken in arms against the King; the others were allowed to make peace;
and the Mortimers, who had been condemned to death, had their sentence
changed to perpetual imprisonment. Hereford’s estates passed on to the
eldest of his large family, the King’s own nephews. Lancaster left no
children, but his brother, Henry Wryneck, Earl of Derby, did not
receive his estates till they had been mulcted largely on behalf of
the Despensers. The father was created Earl of Winchester, and the son
received such bounty from the King, that all the old hatred against
Piers Gaveston was revived, though it does not appear that Hugh provoked
dislike by any such follies or extravagances.

The elder Roger Mortimer, the uncle, died in the Tower. The younger
contrived, after a year’s imprisonment, to make interest with one of the
servants in the Tower, Gerard de Asplaye, with whose assistance he gave
an entertainment to his guards, drugged their liquor, so as to throw
them into a heavy sleep, broke through the wall into the royal kitchen,
and thence escaped by a rope-ladder. Report afterward averred that it
was the fairest hand in England that drugged the wine and held the rope,
and that Queen Isabel,

  “From the wall’s height, as when he down did slide,
  Had heard him cry, ‘Now, Fortune, be my guide!’”

Thus far is certain, that Isabel and Mortimer were inmates of the Tower
at the same time, in the year 1321; for she was left there while the
King was gone in pursuit of Lancaster, and she there gave birth to her
fourth child, Joan. Whether the prisoner then sought an interview with
her, is not known, but he was a remarkably handsome man, and Isabel, at
twenty-six years of age, was beautiful, proud, and with bitterness in
her heart against her husband for his early neglect. She had been on
fairly good terms with him ever since the birth of the Prince of Wales,
and her grace and beauty, her affable manners, and the idea that she was
ill-used, made her a great favorite with the English nation; but she was
angered by the execution of her uncle, the Earl of Lancaster, and from
the time of the King’s return she proceeded to manifest great discontent,
and as much dislike and jealousy of the Despensers as she had previously
shown toward Gaveston.

Mortimer escaped to France, and subsequent events made it seem as if
she had been acting in concert with him. He had married a French lady,
Jeanne de Joinville, and was taken at once into the service of King
Charles IV.

Charles IV., le Bel, was the youngest of Isabel’s brothers, who had
succeeded each other so quickly that it seemed as though the
sacrilegious murder of the Templars was to be visited by the extinction
of the male line of Philippe IV. To Charles, Isabel sent great
complaints, declaring that she was “married to a gripple miser, and was
no better than a waiting-woman, living on a pension from the
Despensers.” There had, in fact, been a fierce struggle with them for
power, and they had prevailed to have all her French attendants
dismissed, very probably on the discovery of the transactions with
Mortimer in the Tower, and a yearly income had been assigned to her in
lieu of her royal estates. This was very irregularly paid, for affairs
were in a most confused and disorderly state, managed in a most childish
manner. It appears that, when hunting at Windsor, the Chancellor Baldock
gave the great seal to the King to keep, and that the King made it over
to William de Ayremyne.

There were no doubt grounds for complaint on both sides; but Charles le
Bel saw only his sister’s view of the question, and resolved to quarrel
with his brother-in-law. Homage for the Duchy of Aquitaine had not been
rendered to him, and on this pretext he began to exercise all possible
modes of annoyance on the borders, and to give judgment against any
Guiennois or Poitevins who sued against Edward as their liege lord,
Edward remonstrated in vain, and sent his brother Edmund, Earl of Kent,
a fine-looking but weak young man of twenty-two, to endeavor to make
peace, but in vain: on the first pretext, a war on the borders broke

Thereupon Edward took into his custody all the castles belonging to his
wife, declaring that he could not leave them in her hands while she was
in correspondence with the enemies of the country; and yet, with his
usual inconsistent folly, he listened to a proposal from her that she
should go to Paris to bring about a peace with her brother.

With four knights, Isabel crossed the sea, and presently made her
appearance at Paris in the character of an injured Princess, kneeling
before her brother, and asking his protection against the cruelty of her
husband; to which Charles replied, “Sister, be comforted; for, by my
faith to Monseigneur St. Denis, I will find a remedy.”

Isabel was lodged at the court of France, and treated with distinction.
Mortimer and all the banished English repaired to her abode, and all the
chivalry of France regarded her as an exiled heroine. She wrote to her
husband that peace might be scoured by the performance of the neglected
homage, and he was actually setting out for the purpose, when, in a
second letter, she told him that his own presence was not needed, but
that his ceremony might be gone through by his son Edward, Prince of
Wales, provided the duchy were placed in his hands as an appanage.

This proposal met with approval, and young Edward, then twelve years
old, under the charge of the Bishops of Exeter and Oxford, was sent to
Paris, after having promised his father to hasten his return, and not to
marry without his consent.

No sooner had the boy arrived, than the homage was performed, and Edward
expected the return of both mother and son; but they still delayed, and
on receiving urgent letters from him, the Queen made public declaration
that she did not believe her life in safety from the Despensers.

Poor King Edward, amazed, and almost thinking her under a delusion,
roused all the prelates in the realm to write to her in defence of his
friends, and himself wrote to her brother, saying that she could have no
reasonable fear of any man in his dominions, since, if Hugh or any other
person wished to do her any harm, he himself would be the first to
resent it. He wrote likewise pre-emptorily to the Prince to return, but
all in vain; and a light was thrown on their proceedings, when Walter
Stapleton, Bishop of Exeter, returned home as a fugitive, having
discovered a plot on Mortimer’s part against his own life, and bringing
word that Isabel’s affection for Mortimer was the true cause of delay.
It would also seem that the Bishop had in part detected a conspiracy
against his master, for there were orders instantly sent to search all
letters arriving at any of the ports.

After Stapleton’s return, Edward’s letters to Charles, and even to the
Pope, became so pressing, that for very shame Charles could not allow
his sister to remain at Paris any longer, and, rather than provoke a
war, he dismissed her. She was a woman of great plausibility and
fascination, and she not only persuaded her young son to believe her in
danger from his father, but she also won over her brother-in-law, the
Earl of Kent, as well as her cousin, the Sieur Robert d’Artois; and
setting out from Paris in their company, she proceeded to the
independent German principalities in the guise of a dame-errant of
romance, misused by her husband, maltreated by her brother, denied a
refuge even in her native country, and seeking aid from foreign princes.

Every chivalrous heart, deluded by appearances, glowed with enthusiasm.
At Ostrevant, John, the brother of the Count of Hainault, came and vowed
himself her knight, promising to redress her wrongs. He conducted her to
his brother’s court at Hainault; and there the young Edward first beheld
the plump, blue-eyed, fair-haired, honest Philippa, a girl of about his
own age, and a youthful true-love sprang up between them--the sole gleam
of light in this dark period.

Isabel’s beautiful face and mournful tale deluded the young, as did
Mortimer’s promises the covetous. She finally set sail from Dort with
2,500 French and Brabançons, under the charge of Sir John of Hainault,
and landed at Orwell, in Suffolk. The King had ordered that any one who
landed on the coast should be treated as a traitor, except the Queen
and the Prince, and had set a price on the head of Mortimer; but no
one attended to him. Isabel had won the sympathy of the nation by her
fancied wrongs; and Adam Orleton, Bishop of Hereford, a former partisan
of Lancaster, was working in her cause.

Both the King’s brothers, and his cousin, Henry of Lancaster, were of
her party; and the universal dislike and jealousy of Despenser made the
more loyal disinclined to exert themselves in the King’s behalf. He
summoned the Londoners to take up arms, but was answered, that though
they would shut the gates against all foreigners, they would not be led
more than a day’s march beyond the city walls. He could only seek a
refuge among his more attached subjects, the Welsh; and leaving his
younger children and his niece, the wife of Hugh le Despenser, in the
Tower, he set off for the marches of Wales. No sooner was he gone, than
the citizens rose, seized the Tower, and murdered the loyal Bishop of
Exeter at St. Paul’s Cross, throwing his body into the mud of the river,
and sending his head to the Queen.

The Queen, whose army increased every day, had arrived at Oxford, where
Adam Orleton preached a disgraceful sermon on the text, “My head, my
head acheth,” wherein he averred the startling prescription that the
cure for an aching head was to cut it off, and that the present head of
England needed this decisive remedy.

The poor King had gone to Gloucester, whence he sent the elder Le
Despenser to hold out Bristol Castle; but the townspeople proved so
disaffected, that the castle was forced to surrender to the rebels on
the third day. The Queen appointed a judge, who sentenced the old man,
ninety years of age, to be put to death; and the murder was committed
the following day, with all the circumstances of atrocity that had been
spared to Lancaster. At Bristol, Isabel became aware that her husband
had fled farther to the West; he had, in fact, sailed, with Hugh le
Despenser and the Chancellor Baldock, for Ireland, but he was driven
back by contrary winds, and forced to land in Glamorganshire. He
wandered from castle to castle, and was besieged at Caerphilli, whence
it is said that he escaped at night in the disguise of a peasant; and,
to avoid detection, himself assisted in carrying brushwood to feed the
fires of the besiegers. He next took refuge in a farmhouse, where the
farmer tried to baffle the pursuers by setting him to dig; but his
awkwardness in handling the spade had nearly betrayed him. For a short
time he tarried at Neath Abbey, but left it lest the monks should suffer
for giving him shelter. At the end of another week Despenser and Baldock
were discovered, and delivered up to Henry of Lancaster; and on this
Edward came forward and gave himself up, to save them, or to share their

There was no hope; the King was kept in close custody, and Baldock was
so ill-treated that he died shortly after. Hugh le Despenser would eat
no food after he was taken; and, lest death should balk revenge, he was
at once brought to a sham trial, and accused of every misfortune that
had befallen England--of the loss of Bannockburn; of conspiracy against
the Queen; of counselling the death of Lancaster; and of suppressing
the miracles at his tomb. For all which deeds Sir Hugh le Despenser was
sentenced to die as a wicked and attainted traitor; and immediately
after he was drawn to execution in a black gown, with his scutcheon
reversed, and a wreath of nettles around his head--but, happily, nearly
insensible from exhaustion--and was hanged on a gallows fifty feet high.
His son Hugh, a spirited young man of nineteen, held out Caerphilli
Castle manfully, until he actually obtained a promise of safety, and
lived to transmit the honors of the oldest barony now existing in

The Earl of Arundel was likewise executed, and Mortimer seized his
property; after which the Queen set out for London, summoning the
Parliament to meet at Westminster.

In this Parliament Adam Orleton began by making outrageous speeches as
to the certain death it would be to the Queen and Prince if the King
were released and restored to his authority, and he called upon the
Lords to choose whether father or son should be King. The London mob
clamored in fury without, ardent for the ruin of the King; and the
Archbishop, saying, _Vox populi vox Dei_, added his influence. Young
Edward was led forward, and a few hymns being hastily sung, received the
oaths of allegiance of all the peers present, except the prelates of
York, London, Rochester, and Carlisle, who boldly maintained the rights
of the captive King, though with great danger to themselves.

The Bishop of Rochester was thrown down by the furious mob, and nearly
murdered; and the sight so terrified the other friends of the poor King,
that not a voice was raised in his defence. A bill was passed declaring
Edward II. deposed, and Edward III. the sovereign; whereupon Isabel, to
keep up appearances, lamented so much, that she actually deceived her
son, who came forward, and with great spirit declared that he would
never deprive his father of the crown.

The King was at Kenilworth, honorably treated by his cousin, Henry of
Lancaster, and thither a deputation was sent to force him to resign his
dignity. The Bishops of Winchester and Lincoln were first sent to him to
argue, threaten, and persuade, and, when they thought him sufficiently
prepared, led him in a plain black gown to make his formal renunciation.
At the sight of his mortal enemy, Orleton, Edward sank to the ground,
but recovered enough to listen to a violent discourse from that rebel
prelate, reproaching him with all his misconduct, and requiring him
to lay aside his crown. Meekly, and weeping floods of tears, Edward
replied, that “he was in their hands, and they must do what seemed good
to them; he only thanked them for their goodness to his son, and owned
his own sins to be the sole cause of his misfortunes.”

Then Sir William Trussel, in the name of all England, revoked the oath
of allegiance, and the steward of the household broke his staff of
office, as he would have done had it been the funeral of his master.
Would that it had been his funeral, must have been the wish of the
unfortunate Sir Edward of Caernarvon, as he was thenceforth termed;
disowned, degraded, with wife, son, and brothers turned against him; not
one voice uplifted in his favor; all his friends murdered. He wrote some
melancholy Latin verses during his captivity, full of sad complaints of
the inconstancy of Fortune; but he had not yet experienced the worst
that was in store for him. At first, presents of clothes and kindly
messages were sent to him by the Queen; and when he begged to see her or
his children, she replied that it would not be permitted by Parliament.
He pleaded again and again, and Henry of Lancaster began so far to
appear his friend, that Isabel took alarm. The Pope refused her request
that Thomas of Lancaster should be canonized as a saint and martyr, and
she feared that he might even interfere on the King’s behalf, and oblige
her to give up Mortimer, and return to her husband.

Orleton had been sent on an embassy to the Papal court, but he was there
consulted by the Queen whether the King should be allowed to live. His
answer was the ambiguous line: “Edwardum occidere nolite timere bonum
est.” (Edward to kill be unwilling to fear it is good.)

Doubt, in such a case, is certain to end in evil. That the King should
die, was determined, and the charge of the unfortunate monarch was
therefore transferred to Maurice, Lord Berkeley, and to Sir John
Maltravers. The latter set out with two men, named Ogle and Gurney, to
escort the King from Kenilworth. At Bristol such demonstrations were
made in his favor, that, taking alarm, his keepers clad him in mean and
scanty garments, and made him ride toward Corfe in the chilly April
night, scoffing and jeering him; and when, in the morning, they paused
to arrange their dress, they set a crown of hay in derision on his head,
and brought him, in an old helmet, filthy ditch-water to shave with.
With a shower of tears he strove to smile, saying that, in spite of
them, his cheeks were covered with pure warm water enough. They brought
him to Berkeley Castle, on the Severn, and there, it is said, tried to
poison him; but his strength of constitution resisted the potion, and
did not fail, under confinement or insufficient diet. At last, when
Berkeley was ill, and absent, came the night,

  “When Severn should re-echo with affright
  The sounds of death through Berkeley’s roofs that ring,
  Shrieks of an agonizing king.”

At those cries many a countryman awoke, crossed himself, and prayed as
for a soul departing in torment. Seven months after his deposition,
Edward of Caernarvon lay dead in Berkeley Castle, and the gates were
thrown open, and the chief burghers of Bristol admitted to see his
corpse. No sign of violence was visible, but the features, once so
beautiful, were writhed into such a look of agony, that the citizens
came away awed and horrified; and hearing the villagers speak of the
cries that had rung from the walls the night before, felt certain that
the late King had perished by a strange and frightful murder.

But those were no days for inquiry, and the royal corpse was hastily
borne to Gloucester Abbey Church, and there buried. The impression,
however, could not be forgotten; multitudes flocked to pray at the
shrine of the dead sovereign, whom living no one would befriend: and
such offerings were made at his tomb, that the monks raised a beautiful
new south aisle to the church; nay, they could have built the church
over again with the means thus acquired. A monument was raised over his
grave, and his effigy was carved on it--a robed and crowned figure, with
hands meekly folded, and a face of such exquisite, appealing sweetness,
dignity, and melancholy, that it is hardly possible to look at it
without tears, or to help believing that even thus might Edward have
looked when, in all the nobleness of patience, he stood forgiving his
persecutors, as they crowned him in scorn with grass, and derided his
misfortunes. A weak and frivolous man, cruelly sinned against, Edward of
Caernarvon was laid in his untimely grave in the forty-third year of his

Thus ended the Barons’ Wars, no patriotic resistance of an opposition
who used sword and lance instead of the tongue and the pen, but the
factious jealousy of men who became ferocious in their hatred of


  _Kings of England_.
   1307. Edward II.
   1327. Edward III.
   1322. Charles IV.

  _King of Scotland_.
   1306. Robert I.

  _King of France_.
   1314. Louis X.
   1316. Philippe V.

  _Emperor of Germany_.
   1314. Louis V.

   1305. Clement V.
   1316. John XXII.

As England waxed feebler, Scotland waxed stronger and became aggressive.
Robert’s queen was dead, and he married Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl
of Ulster, thus making his brother Edward doubtful whether the Scottish
crown would descend to him, and anxious to secure a kingdom for himself.

Ireland had not been reconciled in two centuries to the domination of
the Plantagenets. The Erse, or Irish, believed themselves brethren of
the Scots, and in all their wanderings and distresses the Bruces had
found shelter, sympathy, and aid in the wild province of Ulster. It
seemed, therefore, to Edward Bruce a promising enterprise to offer the
Irish chieftains deliverance from the English yoke; and they eagerly
responded to his proposal. In 1314, he crossed the sea with a small
force, before any one was ready for him, and was obliged at once to
return, having thus given the alarm; so that Sir Edward Butler, the Lord
Deputy, hurried to the defence, and had mustered his forces by the time
Edward Bruce arrived, the next spring, with 6,000 men. He was actually
crowned King, and laid siege to Carrickfergus, while the wild chieftains
of Connaught broke into the English settlements, and did great mischief,
till they were defeated at Athenry by the Earl of Ulster’s brother and
Sir Richard Bermingham. After the battle, Sir Richard Bermingham sent
out his page, John Hussy, with a single attendant, to “turn up and
peruse” the bodies, to see whether his mortal foe O’Kelly were among
them. O’Kelly presently started out of a bush where he had been hidden,
and thus addressed the youth: “Hussy, thou seest I am at all points
armed, and have my esquire, a manly man, beside me. Thou art thin, and
a youngling; so that, if I loved thee not for thine own sake, I might
betray thee for thy master’s. But come and serve me at my request, and I
promise thee, by St. Patrick’s staff, to make thee a lord in Connaught
of more ground than thy master hath in Ireland.” Hussy treated the offer
with scorn, whereupon his attendant, “a stout lubber, began to reprove
him for not relenting to so rich a proffer.” Hussy’s answer was, to cut
down the knave; next, “he raught to O’Kelly’s squire a great rap under
the pit of the ear, which overthrew him; thirdly, he bestirred himself
so nimbly, that ere any help could be hoped for, he had also slain
O’Kelly, and perceiving breath in the squire, he drawed him up again,
and forced him upon a truncheon to bear his lord’s head into the high

These notable exploits were rewarded by knighthood and the lordship of

Robert Bruce brought a considerable army to the assistance of his
brother, and wasted the country up to the walls of Dublin; but Roger
Mortimer coming to the relief of the city, he was forced to retreat. It
was a horrible devastation that he made, and yet this was only what was
then supposed to be the necessity of war, for it was while burning many
a homestead, and reducing multitudes to perish with famine, that Bruce
halted his whole army to protect one sick and suffering washerwoman.

  “This was a full great courtesy,
  That swilk a king and so mighty
  Gert his men dwell on this manner
  But for a poor lavender.”

Bruce was one of the many men tender to the friend, ruthless to the foe;
merciful to sufferings he beheld, merciless to those out of his sight.
He returned to Scotland, and Mortimer to England, both leaving horrible
hunger and distress behind them, and Mortimer in debt £1,000 to the city
of Dublin, “whereof he payde not one smulkin, and many a bitter curse he
carried with him beyond sea.”

Edward Bruce continued to reign in Ulster until the 5th of October,
1318, when the last and nineteenth battle was fought between him and the
English, contrary to the advice of his wisest captains. His numbers were
very inferior, and almost the whole were slain. Edward Bruce and Sir
John Malpas, an English knight, were found lying one upon the other,
slain by each other’s hands in the deadly conflict. Robert, who was on
the way to bring reinforcements to his brother, turned back on hearing
the tidings, and employed his forces against his old foe, John of
Lorn, in the Western Isles, and it was on this occasion that, to avoid
doubling the Mull of Cantire, he dragged his ships upon a wooden slide
across the neck of land between the two locks of Tarbut--a feat often
performed by the fishermen, and easy with the small galleys of his
fleet, but which had a great effect on the minds of the Islemen, for
there was an old saying--

  “That he should gar shippes sua
  Betwixt those seas with sailis gae
  Should win the Islis sua till hand,
  That nane with strength should him withstand.”

Accordingly they submitted, and Lorn, being taken, was shut up for life
in Lochleven Castle.

It was about the time of Edward Bruce’s wild reign in Ulster that Dublin
University was founded by Archbishop Bigmore; and in contrast to this
advance in learning, a few years later, a horrible and barbarous warfare
raged, because Lord de la Poer was supposed to have insulted Maurice of
Desmond by calling him a rhymer. Moreover, at Kilkenny, a lady, called
Dame Alice Kettle, was cited before the Bishop of Ossory for witchcraft.
It was alleged that she had a familiar spirit, to whom she was wont to
sacrifice nine red cocks, and nine peacocks’ eyes; that she had a staff
“on which she ambled through thick and thin;” and that between compline
and twilight she was wont to sweep the streets, singing,

  “To the house of William, my son,
  Hie all the wealth of Kilkenny town.”

She was acquitted on the charge of witchcraft, but her enemies next
attacked her on the ground of heresy, and succeeded in accomplishing her

The Pope at Avignon assisted the English cause by keeping Bruce and his
kingdom under an interdict; but the Scots continued to make inroads
on England, and year after year the most frightful devastation was
committed. In 1319, the Archbishop of York, hoping for another Battle of
the Standard, collected all his clergy and their tenants, and led
them against Douglas and Randolph at Mitton; but their efforts were
unavailing, and such multitudes were slain, that the field was covered
with the white surplices they wore over their armor, and the combat was
called the Chapter of Mitton.

For many long years were the northern provinces the constant prey of
the Scots, as the discords of the English laid their country open to
invasion. Bruce himself was indeed losing his strength, the leprosy
contracted during his life of wandering and distress was gaining ground
on his constitution, and unnerving his strong limbs; but Douglas and
Randolph gallantly supplied his place at the head of his armies, and
his affairs were everywhere prospering. He had indeed lost his eldest
daughter Marjorie, but she had left a promising son, Robert Stuart; and
to himself a son had likewise been born, named David, after the royal
Saint of Scotland, and so handsome and thriving a child, that it was
augured that he would be a warrior of high prowess.

Rome was induced, in 1323, to acknowledge Robert as King, on his promise
to go on a crusade to recover the Holy Land--a promise he was little
likely to be in a condition to fulfil; and Edward II began to enter into
negotiations, and make proposals, that disputes should be set aside by
the betrothal of the little David and his youngest daughter, Joan. But
these arrangements were broken off by the rebellion of Isabel, and the
deposition of Edward of Caernarvon; and Bruce sent Douglas and Randolph
to make a fresh attack upon Durham and Northumberland. The wild army
were all on horseback; the knights and squires on tolerable steeds, the
poorer sort on rough Galloways. They needed no forage for their animals
save the grass beneath their feet, no food for themselves except the
cattle which they seized, and whose flesh they boiled in their hides.
Failing these, each man had a bag of oatmeal, and a plate of metal on
which he could bake his griddle-cakes. This was their only baggage; true
to the Lindsay motto, the stars were their only tents: and thus they
flashed from one county to another, doing infinite mischief, and the
dread of every one.

While young Edward III was being crowned, they had well-nigh seized the
Castle of Norham. The tidings filled the boy with fire and indignation.
He was none of the meek, indifferent stock that the Planta Genista
sometimes bore, but all the resolution and brilliancy of the line had
descended on him in full measure, and all the sweetness and courtesy,
together with all the pride and ambition of his race, shone in his blue
eye, and animated his noble and gracious figure. He was well-read in
chivalrous tales, and it was time that he should perform deeds of arms
worthy of his ladye-love, the flaxen-haired Philippa of Hainault.

Strange was the contrast of the pure, ardent spirit, with the scenes of
shame and disgrace of which he was as yet unconscious. He knew not that
he was a usurper--that one parent was perishing in a horrible captivity,
the other holding himself and his kingdom in shameful trammels, and
giving them over into the power of her traitorous lover.

But Edward was sixteen, and Isabel and Mortimer could only hope to
continue their dominion by keeping him at a distance; and he was
therefore placed at the head of a considerable army, with Sir John of
Hainault as his adviser, and sent forth to deliver his country from the

Good Sir John of Hainault, accustomed to prick his heavy Flemish
war-horse over the Belgian undulating plains, that Nature would seem
to have designed for fair battle-fields, was no match for the light
horsemen of the Scots, trained to wild, desultory warfare. He and his
young King thought the respectable way of fighting was for one side to
wait civilly for the other, interchange polite defiances on either side,
take no advantage of ground, but ride fairly at each other with pennons
flying and trumpets sounding, like a tournament; and they did not at all
approve of enemies of whom they saw no trace but a little distant smoke
in the horizon, and black embers of villages wherever they marched.
There was no coming up with them. The barons set forth in the morning,
fierce, and wound up for a battle, pennons displayed, and armor
burnished; but by and by the steeds floundered in the peat-bogs, the
steep mountain-sides were hard to climb for men and horses cased in
proof armor, and when shouts or cries broke out at a distance, and with
sore labor the knights struggled to the spot in hopes of an engagement,
it proved to have been merely the hallooing of some other part of the
army at the wild deer that bounded away from the martial array. When, at
night, they reached the banks of the Tyne, and had made their way across
the ford, they found themselves in evil case, for all their baggage
and provisions were far behind, stuck in the bogs, or stumbling up the
mountain-sides, and they had nothing to eat but a single loaf, which
each man had carried strapped behind him, and which had a taste of all
the various peat-bogs into which he had sunk. The horses had nothing to
eat, and there was nothing to fasten them to, so that their masters were
forced to spend the whole night holding them by the bridles. They hoped
for better things at dawn, but with it came rain, which swelled the
river so much that none of the foot or baggage could hope to cross, nor,
indeed, could any messenger return to find out where they were. The
gentlemen were forced to set to work with their swords to cut down green
boughs to weave into huts, and to seek for grass and leaves for their
horses. By and by came some peasants, who told them they were fourteen
miles from Newcastle and eleven from Carlisle, and no provisions could
be obtained any nearer. Messengers were instantly sent off, promising
safety and large prices to any one who would bring victuals to the
famishing camp, and the burghers of Newcastle and Carlisle seem to have
reaped a rich harvest, by sending a moderate supply of bread and wine
at exorbitant prices. For a whole week of rain did the army continue in
this disconsolate position, without tents, fire, or candle, and with
perpetual rain, till the saddles and girths were rotted, the horses
wasted to skeletons, and the army, with rusted mail and draggled banners
and plumes, a dismal contrast to the gay troops who had lately set

After waiting a week, fancying the Scots must pass the ford, they gave
up this hope, and resolved to re-cross higher up. Edward set forth a
proclamation, that the man who should lead him where he could cope on
dry ground with the Scots, should be knighted by his own hand, and
receive a hundred pounds a year in land. Fifteen gentlemen, thus
incited, galloped off in quest of the enemy, and one of them, an esquire
named Thomas Rokeby, who made toward Weardale, not only beheld the Scots
encamped on the steep hill-side sloping toward the Wear, but was seized
by their outposts, and led before Douglas. Sir James was in a
position where he had no objection to see King Edward, with a natural
fortification of rocks on his flanks, a mountain behind, and the river
foaming in a swollen torrent over the rocks in the ravine in front of
him. So, when Rokeby had told his tale, Douglas gave him his ransom
and liberty, on the sole condition that he should not rest till he had
brought the tidings to the King--terms which he was not slow to fulfil.
He found the English army on the Derwent, at the ruined Augustinian
monastery of Blanchland; and, highly delighted, Edward gave the promised
reward, and the army prepared for a battle by confession and hearing
mass. Then all set forth in high spirits, and came to the spot, where
they were so close to the enemy that they could see the arms on the
shields of the nobles, and the red, hairy buskins of the ruder sort,
shaped from the hides of the cattle they had killed.

Edward made his men dismount, thinking to cross the river; but, on
examination, he found this impossible. He then sent an invitation to the
Scottish leaders to come out and have a fair fight; but at this they
laughed, saying that they had burnt and spoiled in his land, and it was
his part to punish them as he could; they should stay there as long as
they pleased. As it was known that there was neither bread nor wine in
their camp, it was hoped that this would not be very long; but from the
merriment nightly heard round the watchfires, it seemed that oatmeal
and beef satisfied them just as well, and the English were far more
miserable in their position.

On the third night, though the fires blazed and the horns resounded at
midnight, by dawn nothing was to be seen but the bare, gray hill-side.
The Scots had made off during the night, and were presently discovered
perched in a similar spot on the river side, only with a wood behind
them, called Stanhope Park.

Again Edward encamped on the other side of the river, and watched the
foe in vain. One night, however, Douglas, with a small body of men,
crept across the river at a ford higher up, and stealing to the
precincts of the camp, rode past the sentry, crying out in an English
tone, “Ha, St. George! no watch here!” and made his way into the midst
of the tents, smiling to himself at the murmur of an English soldier,
that the Black Douglas might yet play them some trick. Presently, with
loud shouts of “Douglas! Douglas! English thieves, ye shall die!” his
men fell on the sleeping army, and had slain three hundred in a very
short time, while he made his way to the royal tent, cut the ropes,
and as the boy, “a soldier then for holidays,” awoke, “by his couch,
a grisly chamberlain,” stood the Black Lord James! His chaplain threw
himself between, and fell in the struggle, while Edward crept out under
the canvas, and others of the household came to his rescue. The whole
army was now awakened, and Douglas fought his way out on the other
side of the camp, blowing his horn to collect his men. On his return,
Randolph asked him what he had done. “Only drawn a little blood,” said

“Ah!” said Randolph, “we should have gone down with the whole army.”

“The risk would have been over-great,” said Douglas.

“Then must we fight them, by open day, for our provisions are failing,
and we shall soon be famished.”

“Nay,” said Sir James, “let us treat them as the fox did the fisherman,
who, finding him eating a salmon before the fire in his hut, drew his
sword, and stood in the doorway, meaning to slay him without escape. But
the fox seized a mantle, and drew it over the fire; the fisherman flew
to save his mantle, and Master Fox made off safely with the salmon by
the door unguarded!”

On this model the wary Scot arranged his retreat, making a multitude of
hurdles of wattled boughs to be laid across the softer places in the bog
behind them, and giving secret orders that all should be ready to move
at night. This could not be done so secretly that some tidings did not
reach the English; but they expected another night-attack, and, though
they continued under arms, made no attempt to ascertain the proceedings
of the enemy till daybreak, when, crossing the river, they found nothing
alive but five poor English prisoners bound naked to trees, with their
legs broken. Around them lay five hundred large cattle, killed because
they went too slowly to be driven along, three hundred skins filled with
meat and water hung over the fires, one hundred spits with meat on
them, and ten thousand of the hairy shoes of the Scots--the enemy were
entirely gone; and Edward, baffled, grieved, and ashamed, fairly burst
into tears at his disappointment.

His army was unable to continue the pursuit, and in two days arrived at
Durham, where the honest burghers had stored under outhouses all the
wagons that had been left behind in the advance thirty-two days before,
each with a little flag to show whose property it was. Tidings being
brought that the Scots had gone to their own country, Edward turned
his face southward, and, by the time he reached York, had had the
mortification of losing all his horses, from the privations the poor
creatures had undergone; while the discontent of his subjects found
vent in ascribing all the misfortunes to Roger Mortimer’s treachery--an
additional crime of which he may fairly be acquitted. Edward continued
at York all that autumn, apparently keeping aloof from his mother’s
court; or else it was her object to prevent him from perceiving the
guilty counsels that there prevailed, and which resulted in the murder
of his father. To York Sir John of Hainault fetched the young bride,
his niece Philippa, and the marriage took place in the cathedral on St.
Paul’s Day, 1328, the two young people being then sixteen and fifteen
years of age. Meantime, Robert Bruce, partially recovering, laid siege
to Norham, and in the exhausted state of England it was decided to offer
him peace, fully acknowledging his right to the throne, yielding up the
regalia and the royal stone of Scotland, and uniting his son David with
the little Princess Joan.

The nation were exceedingly angry at the peace, necessary as it was, and
charged the disgrace upon Mortimer. They rose in tumult, and prevented
the coronation-stone from being taken away, and they called the marriage
a base alliance. Even Edward himself refused to be present with his
young wife at the marriage of his little sister, which was to take place
at Berwick. His mother tried to induce him to come, by arranging a
joust; she had six spears painted splendidly for his use, others for
his companions, and three hundred and sixty more for other English
gentlemen; but he was resolved to keep his Philippa aloof from the
company of Mortimer and his mother, and remained with her at Woodstock,
notwithstanding all temptations to display.

Bruce was too ill to go to Berwick, but gave his son, then five years
old, into the charge of Douglas and Randolph. The little bride, called
by the Scots Joan Makepeace, was conducted by her mother and Mortimer
with the most brilliant pomp.

Mortimer’s display and presumption outdid even poor Piers Gaveston: he
had one hundred and eighty knights in his own train alone, and their
dress was so fantastically gay that the Scots jested on them, and made
rhymes long current in the North:

  “Longbeards, heartless,
  Gay coats, graceless,
  Painted hoods, witless,
  Maketh England thriftless.”

Queen Isabel herself was wont to wear such a tower on her head, that
doorways had to be altered to enable her to pass under them; and her
expenses were so great, that no revenue was left to maintain her young
daughter-in-law Philippa.

Henry, sometimes called Wryneck, Earl of Derby, brother of the rebel
Thomas of Lancaster, and Thomas and Edmund, Earls of Norfolk and Kent,
the youngest sons of Edward I., had begun bitterly to repent of having
been deceived by this wicked woman. Even Adam Orleton had quarrelled
with her for attempting to exact a monstrous bribe for making him Bishop
of Winchester; but Mortimer was determined to keep up his power by
violence. At a parliament at Salisbury, where the young King and Queen
were presiding, he broke in with his armed followers, and carried them
off in a sort of captivity to Winchester. The three Earls took up arms,
but the Earls of Kent and Norfolk, who seem to have had their full share
of the family folly, deserted Lancaster, and he was forced to make
peace, after paying an immense fine.

Still Isabel and Mortimer felt their insecurity, or else they had such
an appetite for treachery and murder, that they were driven on to commit
further crimes. A report was set about that Edward of Caernarvon
was still living in Corfe Castle, and one of his actual murderers,
Maltravers, offered the unfortunate Edmund of Kent to convey letters
from him to his brother; nay, it was arranged, for his further
deception, that he should peep into a dungeon and behold at a distance a
captive, who had sufficient resemblance to the late King to be mistaken
for him in the gloom. Letters were written by the Earl and his wife to
the imaginary prisoner, and entrusted to Maltravers, who carried them
at once to Queen Isabel. A sufficient body of evidence having thus been
procured for her purposes, the unfortunate Edmund was arraigned before
the parliament at Winchester, when he confessed that the letters had
been written by himself; and, further, that a preaching friar had
conjured up a spirit on whose authority he believed his brother to be
alive. He was found guilty of treason, and sentenced to death by persons
who expected that his rank would save him; but the She-wolf of France
was resolved on having his blood, and decreed that he should die the
next day. Such was the horror at the sentence, that the headsman stole
secretly away from Winchester to avoid performing his office, and for
four long hours of the 13th of March, 1329, did Earl Edmund Plantagenet
stand on the scaffold above the castle gate, waiting till some one could
be found to put him to death, in the name of his own nephew and by the
will of his mother’s niece. He was only twenty-eight, and had four
little children; and, in those dreary hours, what must not have been his
hopes that the young Edward would awaken to a sense of the wickedness
that was being perpetrated, so abhorrent to his warm and generous
nature! But hopes were vain. Queen Isabel “kept her son so beset” all
day, that no word could be spoken to him respecting his uncle, and at
length a felon was sought out, who, as the price of his own pardon,
dealt the death-stroke to the son of the great Edward.

After this act of intimidation, Mortimer’s insolence went still farther,
and England was fully sensible that the minion now reigning united
all the faults of the former ones--the extravagance and rapacity of
Gaveston, and the pride and violence of the Despensers; and as if to
bring upon himself their very fate, he caused himself to be appointed
Warden of the Marches of Wales, and helped himself to manor after manor
of the Despenser property. His name and lineage were Welsh, and in
memory of King Arthur he held tournaments which he called Round Tables,
and made this display so frequent, that his own son Geoffrey became
ashamed of them, and called him the King of Folly.

Meantime, the modest and innocent young court at Woodstock was made
happy by the birth of the heir to the crown--a babe of such promise and
beauty that even grave chroniclers pause to record his noble aspect, and
the motherly fondness of the youthful Philippa, then only seventeen.
Again Queen Isabel was obliged to trust her son out of the hands of
herself and her minions. Her last brother, King Charles IV., was dead,
leaving only daughters; and though she fancied the claim of her son
Edward to the French crown to be nearer than that of Philippe, Count of
Valois, the son of her father’s brother, it was not convenient to press
the assumption, and it was therefore resolved that young Edward should
go to Amiens to perform his homage to Philippe. He was only fifteen days
absent from England, and duly swore fealty to Philippe; the one robed in
blue velvet and golden lilies, the other in crimson velvet worked with
the English lions; but the pageant was a worthless ceremony, and the
journey was chiefly important as bringing him to a full sense of the
esteem in which his mother was held at home and abroad. Edward was
nearly nineteen, and was resolved that he and his country should be held
in unworthy bondage n