Part 3 out of 11
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
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
"You have answered well," said Anselm; "go to your lord; I will hold to
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
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
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 _conge d'elire_, 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 _conge d'elire_ 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.
THE FIRST CRUSADE.
_King of England_.
_King of France_.
_Emperor of Germany_.
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 Fleche, 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.
THE ETHELING FAMILY.
_Kings of England_.
Knute and his sons.
_Kings of France_.
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
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
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
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
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 Fleche 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 Ferrieres. 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 Ferrieres 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.
THE COUNTS OF ANJOU.
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
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--_a
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 Hambrieres, by hanging up
hides over the walls, and shouting, "_A la pel! a 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 Rechin_, 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 Rechin, 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 Fleche 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
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 Fleche, 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.
VISITORS OF HENRY I.
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'eveille_, 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
"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
"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
"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