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The History of England From the Norman Conquest by George Burton Adams

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Seventy-five years have passed since Lingard completed his HISTORY OF
ENGLAND, which ends with the Revolution of 1688. During that period
historical study has made a great advance. Year after year the mass of
materials for a new History of England has increased; new lights have
been thrown on events and characters, and old errors have been
corrected. Many notable works have been written on various periods of
our history; some of them at such length as to appeal almost exclusively
to professed historical students. It is believed that the time has come
when the advance which has been made in the knowledge of English history
as a whole should be laid before the public in a single work of fairly
adequate size. Such a book should be founded on independent thought and
research, but should at the same time be written with a full knowledge
of the works of the best modern historians and with a desire to take
advantage of their teaching wherever it appears sound.

The vast number of authorities, printed and in manuscript, on which a
History of England should be based, if it is to represent the existing
state of knowledge, renders co-operation almost necessary and certainly
advisable. The History, of which this volume is an instalment, is an
attempt to set forth in a readable form the results at present attained
by research. It will consist of twelve volumes by twelve different
writers, each of them chosen as being specially capable of dealing with
the period which he undertakes, and the editors, while leaving to each
author as free a hand as possible, hope to insure a general similarity
in method of treatment, so that the twelve volumes may in their
contents, as well as in their outward appearance, form one History.

As its title imports, this History will primarily deal with politics,
with the History of England and, after the date of the union with
Scotland, Great Britain, as a state or body politic; but as the life of
a nation is complex, and its condition at any given time cannot be
understood without taking into account the various forces acting upon
it, notices of religious matters and of intellectual, social, and
economic progress will also find place in these volumes. The 'footnotes'
will, so far as is possible, be confined to references to authorities,
and references will not be appended to statements which appear to be
matters of common knowledge and do not call for support. Each volume
will have an Appendix giving some account of the chief authorities,
original and secondary, which the author has used. This account will be
compiled with a view of helping students rather than of making long
lists of books without any notes as to their contents or value. That the
History will have faults both of its own and such as will always in some
measure attend co-operative work, must be expected, but no pains have
been spared to make it, so far as may be, not wholly unworthy of the
greatness of its subject.

Each volume, while forming part of a complete History, will also in
itself be a separate and complete book, will be sold separately, and
will have its own index, and two or more maps.

Vol. I. to 1066. By Thomas Hodgkin, D.C.L., Litt.D., Fellow of
University College, London; Fellow of the British Academy.

Vol. II. 1066 to 1216. By George Burton Adams, M.A., Professor of
History in Yale University, New Haven Connecticut.

Vol. III. 1216 to 1377. By T. F. Tout, M.A., Professor of Medieval and
Modern History in the Victoria University of Manchester; formerly Fellow
of Pembroke College. Oxford.

Vol. IV. 1377 to 1485. By C. Oman, M.A., Fellow of All Souls' College,
and Deputy Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford.

Vol. V. 1485 to 1547. By H. A. L. Fisher, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of New
College, Oxford.

Vol. VI. 1547 to 1603. By A. F. Pollard, M.A., Professor of
Constitutional History in University College, London.

Vol. VII. 1603 to 1660. By F. C. Montague, M.A., Professor of History in
University College, London; formerly Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford.

Vol. VIII. 1660 to 1702. By Richard Lodge, M.A., Professor of History in
the University of Edinburgh; formerly Fellow of Brasenose College,

Vol. IX. 1702 to 1760. By I. S. Leadam, M.A., formerly Fellow of
Brasenose College, Oxford.

Vol. X. 1760 to 1801. By the Rev. William Hunt, M.A., D.Litt., Trinity
College, Oxford.

Vol. XI. 1801 to 1837. By the Hon. George C. Brodrick, D.C.L., late
Warden of Merton College, Oxford, and J. K. Fotheringham, M.A., Magdalen
College, Oxford, Lecturer in Classics at King's College, London.

Vol. XII. 1837 to 1901. By Sidney J. Low, M.A., Balliol College, Oxford,
formerly Lecturer on History at King's College, London.


Edited by William Hunt, D.Litt., and
Reginald L. Poole, M.A.




Professor of History in Yale University



Oct., 1066. After the battle of Hastings
Nov. The march on London
Winchester occupied
London submits
25 Dec. The coronation of William
Jan., 1067. Regulations for government
The confiscation of lands
The introduction of feudalism
Power of the Norman duke
March-Dec. William in Normandy
Revolts in England


Feb.-March, 1068. Conquest of the south-west
Coronation of Matilda
Summer. Final conquest of the north
Raid of Harold's sons
1069. Danish invasion; the north rebels
Dec. The harrying of Northumberland
Jan.-Feb., 1070. Conquest of the west
Reformation of the Church
Aug. Lanfranc made primate
Effect of the conquest on the Church
The king and the Church


1070-4. The revolt in Ely
Norman families in England
Centralization of the State
The New Forest
Aug., 1072. William invades Scotland
1073. He subdues Maine
1075. Revolt of Earls Roger and Ralph
1082. The arrest of Bishop Odo
William's son Robert
1086. The Domesday Book
9 Sept., 1087. The death of William


26 Sept., 1087. Coronation of William II.
Apr.-June, 1088. The barons rebel.
Nov. The trial of William of St. Calais
1095. The revolt of Robert of Mowbray
28 May, 1089. The death of Lanfranc
Ranulf Flambard
Troubles in Normandy
April, 1090. The court resolves on war
Feb., 1091. William invades Normandy
Malcolm attacks England
1092. William occupies Carlisle
Nov., 1093. Death of Malcolm and Margaret


Lent, 1093. Illness of William II
March. Anselm named archbishop
Conditions on which he accepted
Jan., 1094. His first quarrel with the king
19 March. William crosses to Normandy
1095. Second quarrel with Anselm
March. The case tried at Rockingham
1096. Robert mortgages Normandy
1097. Renewed quarrel with Anselm
Nov. Anselm leaves England
1098. Wars on the continent
2 Aug., 1100. William II killed


2 Aug., 1100. Henry claims the crown
5 Aug. His coronation
His character
Aug. His coronation charter
23 Sept. Return of Anselm
11 Nov. Henry's marriage
Beginning of investiture strife
Merits of the case
July, 1101. Robert invades England
He yields to Henry
1102. Robert of Belleme punished
1101-2. Fruitless embassies to Rome
27 April, 1103. Anselm again leaves England


1104. Henry visits Normandy
1103-5. Dealings with Anselm
21 July, 1105. Meeting with Anselm and Adela
Aug., 1106. The compromise and reconciliation


28 Sept., 1106. The battle of Tinchebrai
Terms of investiture compromise
21 April, 1109. Anselm's last years, and death
1109-11. Reform of local courts
1109-14. Marriage of Matilda and Henry V
1109-13. War with Louis VI of France
Growing power of the Church


March, 1116. William recognized as heir
Renewed war with France
1120. An advantageous peace
25 Sept., 1120. Henry's son William drowned
Robert made Earl of Gloucester
1123. Revolt of Norman barons
Jan., 1127. Matilda made Henry's heir
She marries Geoffrey of Anjou
1129. A period of peace
1130. The Pipe Roll of 1130
The Exchequer
Henry's charter to London
1 Dec, 1135. His death


Dec., 1135. Stephen of Boulogne secures London
Obtains support of the Church
His coronation
Normandy accepts Stephen
1136. Charter to the Church
Matilda appeals to Rome
The first revolt
The impression created by Stephen
1137. Stephen in Normandy


1138. The beginning of civil war
The revolt around Bristol
22 Aug. The battle of the Standard
June, 1139. The arrest of the bishops
Matilda in England
1140. Stephen's purchase of support
2 Feb., 1141. The battle of Lincoln


March, 1141. Matilda received in Winchester
24 June, 1141. She is driven from London
Stephen released
1142-4. Geoffrey conquers Normandy
1144. The fall of Geoffrey de Mandeville
1149. Henry of Anjou in England
1152. He marries Eleanor of Aquitaine
1153. Henry again in England
Nov. He makes peace with Stephen


The character of Henry II
19 Dec., 1154. His coronation
1155. The pope's grant of Ireland
Jan., 1156. Henry in Normandy
1158. Treaty with Louis VII
June, 1159. Attack on Toulouse
New forms of taxation
1162. Thomas Becket made primate


1162. The position of Becket
July, 1163. First disagreement with Henry
The question of criminous clerks
1164. The constitutions of Clarendon
Oct. The trial of Becket
Becket flees from England
1165-70. War between king and primate
14 June, 1170. Young Henry crowned
July. Henry and Becket reconciled
29 Dec. Murder of Becket


Oct., 1171. Henry II in Ireland
May, 1172. Reconciled with the Church
Henry and his sons
Discontent of young Henry
1173. Plans of Henry II in the southeast
Young Henry and the barons rebel
12 July, 1174. Henry II's penance at Canterbury
12 July. The king of Scotland captured
6 Aug. Henry returns to Normandy
30 Sept. Peace concluded


1175. Government during peace
The homage of Scotland
Judicial reforms
Itinerant justices and jury
The common law
1176. Young Henry again discontented
Affairs in Ireland
1177. Dealings with France
1180. Philip II king of France
1183. War between Henry's sons
11 June. Death of young Henry


1183. Negotiations with France
1184-5. The question of a crusade
1185. John in Ireland
1186. Philip II and Henry's sons
1187. War with Philip II
Renewed call for a crusade
1188. The Saladin tithe
A new war with Philip
Nov. Richard abandons his father
4 July, 1189. Peace forced on Henry
6 July. Death of Henry II


1189. Richard's first acts
Methods of raising money
Arrangements for Richard's absence
Conduct of William Longchamp
June, 1190. Richard goes on the crusade
1191. Events of the third crusade
Strife of John and Longchamp
Oct. Longchamp deposed
Philip II intrigues with John


Dec., 1192. Richard imprisoned in Germany
1193. Negotiations for his release
16 March, 1194. He reaches London
War with Philip II
Hubert Walter justiciar
15 Jan., 1196. Treaty with France
Renewed war
7 Dec., 1197. Bishop Hugh refuses Richard's demand
1198. Financial difficulties
6 April, 1199. The death of Richard
The growth of English towns


April, 1199. John succeeds in Normandy
27 May. Crowned in Westminster
Philip II takes Arthur's side
1200. John's second marriage
1202. Trial and sentence of John
1 Aug. John captures Arthur
1203. Siege of Chateau-Gaillard
24 June, 1204. Capture of Rouen
1205. French conquest checked in Poitou


1205. Question of the Canterbury election
17 June, 1207. The pope consecrates Langton
Taxation of the clergy
24 March, 1208. The interdict proclaimed
Power of the king
Nov., 1209. John excommunicated
1210. Expedition to Ireland
1212. Alliance against France
Philip II plans to invade England
May, 1213. John yields to the pope


20 July, 1213. The king absolved
Henry I's charter produced
Feb., 1214. John invades Poitou
27 July. Battle of Bouvines
The barons resist the king
The charter demanded
15 June, 1215. Magna Carta granted
Civil strife renewed
The crown offered to Louis of France
21 May, 1216. Louis lands in England
19 Oct., 1216. The death of John


On authorities



1. England and the French Possessions of William I. (1087)
2. England and France, July, 1185



The battle of the 14th of October, 1066, was decisive of the struggle for
the throne of England, but William of Normandy was in no haste to gather
in the results of the victory which he had won. The judgment of heaven
had been pronounced in the case between him and Harold, and there was no
mistaking the verdict. The Saxon army was routed and flying. It could
hardly rally short of London, but there was no real pursuit. The Normans
spent the night on the battlefield, and William's own tent was pitched on
the hill which the enemy had held, and in the midst of the Saxon wounded,
a position of some danger, against which his friend and adviser, Walter
Giffard, remonstrated in vain. On the next day he fell back with his army
to Hastings. Here he remained five days waiting, the Saxon Chronicle
tells us, for the nation to make known its submission; waiting, it is
more likely, for reinforcements which were coming from Normandy. So keen
a mind as William's probably did not misjudge the situation. With the
only real army against him broken to pieces, with the only leaders around
whom a new army could rally dead, he could afford to wait. He may not
have understood the rallying power of the Saxon soldiery, but he probably
knew very well the character of the public men of England, who were left
alive to head and direct a new resistance. The only candidate for the
throne upon whom all parties could unite was a boy of no pronounced
character and no experience. The leaders of the nobility who should have
stood forth in such a crisis as the natural leaders of the nation were
men who had shown in the clearest way their readiness to sacrifice
England to their personal ambitions or grievances. At the head of the
Church were men of but little higher character and no greater capacity
for leadership, undisguised pluralists who could not avoid the charge of
disregarding in their own selfish interests the laws they were bound to
administer. London, where the greater part of the fugitives had gathered,
could hardly have settled upon the next step to be taken when William
began his advance, five days after the battle. His first objective point
was the great fortress of Dover, which dominated that important
landing-place upon the coast. On the way he stopped to give an example of
what those might expect who made themselves his enemies, by punishing the
town of Romney, which had ventured to beat off with some vigour a body of
Normans, probably one that had tried to land there by mistake.

Dover had been a strong fortress for centuries, perched on its cliffs as
high as an arrow can be shot, says one who may have been present at these
events, and it had been recently strengthened with new work. William
doubtless expected a difficult task, and he was correspondingly pleased
to find the garrison ready to surrender without a blow, an omen even more
promising than the victory he had gained over Harold. If William had
given at Romney an example of what would follow stubborn resistance, he
gave at Dover an example of how he proposed to deal with those who would
submit, not merely in his treatment of the surrendered garrison of the
castle, but in his payment of the losses of the citizens; for his army,
disappointed of the plunder which would have followed the taking of the
place by force, had burned the town or part of it. At Dover William
remained a week, and here his army was attacked by a foe often more
deadly to the armies of the Middle Ages than the enemies they had come
out to fight. Too much fresh meat and unaccustomed water led to an
outbreak of dysentery which carried off many and weakened others, who had
to be left behind when William set out again. But these losses were
balanced by reinforcements from Normandy, which joined him here or soon
afterwards. His next advance was towards Canterbury, but it had hardly
begun when delegations came up to meet him, bringing the submission of
that city and of other places in Kent. Soon after leaving Dover the duke
himself fell ill, very possibly with the prevailing disease, but if we
may judge by what seems to be our best evidence, he did not allow this to
interrupt his advance, but pushed on towards London with only a brief
stop at any point.[1] Nor is there any certain evidence to be had of
extensive harrying of the country on this march. His army was obliged to
live on what it could take from the inhabitants, and this foraging was
unquestionably accompanied with much unnecessary plundering; but there is
no convincing evidence of any systematic laying waste of large districts
to bring about a submission which everything would show to be coming of
itself, and it was not like William to ravage without need. He certainly
hesitated at no cruelty of the sort at times, but we can clearly enough
see reasons of policy in most at least of the cases, which may have made
the action seem to him necessary. Nearly all are instances either of
defensive action or of vengeance, but that he should systematically
ravage the country when events were carrying out his plan as rapidly as
could be expected, we have no reason to consider in accordance with
William's policy or temper. In the meantime, as the invading army was
slowly drawing near to London, opinion there had settled, for the time at
least, upon a line of policy. Surviving leaders who had been defeated in
the great battle, men high in rank who had been absent, some purposely
standing aloof while the issue was decided, had gathered in the city.
Edwin and Morcar, the great earls of north and middle England, heads of
the house that was the rival of Harold's, who seem to have been willing
to see him and his power destroyed, had now come in, having learned the
result of the battle. The two archbishops were there, and certain of the
bishops, though which they were we cannot surely tell. Other names we do
not know, unless it be that of Esegar, Harold's staller and portreeve of
London, the hero of a doubtful story of negotiations with the approaching
enemy. But other nobles and men of influence in the state were certainly
there, though their names are not recorded. Nor was a military force
lacking, even if the "army" of Edwin and Morcar was under independent and
not trustworthy command. It is clear that the tone of public opinion was
for further resistance, and the citizens were not afraid to go out to
attack the Conqueror on his first approach to their neighbourhood. But
from all our sources of information the fatal fact stands out plainly, of
divided counsels and lack of leadership. William of Malmesbury believed,
nearly two generations later, and we must agree with him, that if the
English could have put aside "the discord of civil strife," and have
"united in a common policy, they could have amended the ruin of the
fatherland." But there was too much self-seeking and a lack of
patriotism. Edwin and Morcar went about trying to persuade people that
one or the other of them should be made king. Some of the bishops appear
to have opposed the choice of any king. No dominating personality arose
to compel agreement and to give direction and power to the popular
impulse. England was conquered, not by the superior force and genius of
the Norman, but by the failure of her own men in a great crisis of her

The need of haste seems an element in the situation, and under the
combined pressure of the rapid approach of the enemy and of the public
opinion of the city--citizens and shipmen are both mentioned--the leaders
of Church and State finally came to an agreement that Edgar atheling
should be made king. It was the only possible step except that of
immediate submission. Grandson of Edmund Ironside, the king who had
offered stubborn and most skilful resistance to an earlier foreign
invader, heir of a house that had been royal since the race had had a
history, all men could unite upon him, and upon him alone, if there must
be a king. But there was no other argument in his favour. Neither the
blood of his grandfather nor the school of adversity had made of him the
man to deal with such a situation. In later life he impressed people as a
well-mannered, agreeable, and frank man, but no one ever detected in him
the stuff of which heroes are made. He was never consecrated king, though
the act would have strengthened his position, and one wonders if the fact
is evidence that the leaders had yielded only to a popular pressure in
agreeing upon him against their own preference, or merely of the haste
and confusion of events. One act of sovereignty only is attributed to
him, the confirmation of Brand, who had been chosen by the monks Abbot
of Peterborough, in succession to Leofric, of the house of Edwin and
Morcar, who had been present at the battle of Hastings and had died
soon after. William interpreted this reference of the election to Edgar
for confirmation as an act of hostility to himself, and fined the new
abbot heavily, but to us the incident is of value as evidence of the
character of the movement, which tried to find a national king in this
last male of Cerdic's line.

From Canterbury the invading army advanced directly upon London, and took
up a position in its neighbourhood. From this station a body of five
hundred horsemen was sent forward to reconnoitre the approaches to the
city, and the second battle of the conquest followed, if we may call that
a battle which seems to have been merely one-sided. At any rate, the
citizens intended to offer battle, and crossed the river and advanced
against the enemy in regular formation, but the Norman knights made short
work of the burgher battalions, and drove them back into the city with
great slaughter. The suburb on the south bank of the Thames fell into the
hands of the enemy, who burned down at least a part of it. William
gained, however, no further success at this point. London was not yet
ready to submit, and the river seems to have been an impassable barrier.
To find a crossing the Norman march was continued up the river, the
country suffering as before from the foraging of the army. The desired
crossing was found at Wallingford, not far below Oxford and nearly fifty
miles above London. That he could have crossed the river nearer the city
than this, if he had wished, seems probable, and considerations of
strategy may very likely have governed William's movements. Particularly
might this be the case if he had learned that Edwin and Morcar, with
their army, had abandoned the new king and retired northward, as some of
the best of modern scholars have believed, though upon what is certainly
not the best of evidence. If this was so, a little more time would surely
convince the Londoners that submission was the best policy, and the best
position for William to occupy would be between the city and this army in
the north, a position which he could easily reach, as he did, from his
crossing at Wallingford. If the earls had not abandoned London, this was
still the best position, cutting them off from their own country and the
city from the region whence reinforcements must come if they came at all.
A long sweep about a hostile city was favourite strategy of William's.

From some point along this line of march between Dover and Wallingford,
William had detached a force to secure the submission of Winchester. This
city was of considerable importance, both because it was the old royal
residence and still the financial centre of the state, and because it
was the abode of Edith, the queen of Edward the Confessor, to whom it
had been assigned as part of her dower. The submission of the city seems
to have been immediate and entirely satisfactory to William, who confirmed
the widowed Lady of England in her rights and showed later some favour to
the monks of the new minster. William of Poitiers, the duke's chaplain,
who possibly accompanied the army on this march,[2] and wrote an account
of these events not long afterwards, tells us that at Wallingford Stigand,
Archbishop of Canterbury, came in and made submission to his master. There
is no reason to doubt this statement, though it has been called in
question. The best English chroniclers omit his name from the list of
those who submitted when London surrendered. The tide of success had been
flowing strongly one way since the Normans landed. The condition of things
in London afforded no real hope that this tide could be checked. A man of
Stigand's type could be depended upon to see that if William's success was
inevitable, an early submission would be better than a late one. If
Stigand went over to William at Wallingford, it is a clear commentary on
the helplessness of the party of resistance in London.

From Wallingford William continued his leisurely march, leaving a trail
of devastation behind him through Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and
Hertfordshire, where he turned south towards London. But the city was
now convinced of the impossibility of resistance and was ready to yield
to the inevitable. How near the enemy was allowed to approach before
the step of actual surrender was taken is not quite certain. The
generally accepted opinion, on the authority of English chroniclers, is
that the embassy from London went to meet William at Berkhampsted,
thirty miles away, but if we could accept the suggestion which has been
made that Little Berkhampsted was the place intended, the distance
would agree better with the express statement of the chaplain, William
of Poitiers, that the city was in sight from the place of conference.
It is hard to avoid accepting William's statement, for it is precisely
the kind of thing which the men of the duke's army--which had been so
long approaching the city and thinking of its capture--would be likely
to notice and remember. It also agrees better with the probabilities
of the case. Thirty miles was still a safe distance, especially in
those days, and would allow much time for further debate and for the
unexpected to happen. Wherever the act of submission occurred, it was
in form complete and final for the city and for the chief men of
England. Edgar came to offer his useless and imperfect crown; Aldred,
Archbishop of York, was there to complete the submission of the Church;
bishops of several sees were also present, and chief men of the state,
among whom Edwin and Morcar are mentioned by one of the chroniclers who
had earlier sent them home to the north. Possibly he is right in both
statements, and the earls had returned to make their peace when they
saw that resistance was hopeless. These men William received most
kindly and with good promises, and Edgar in particular he embraced and
treated like a son.

This deputation from London, headed by their nominal king, came to offer
the crown to William. For him and for the Normans the decisive moment of
the expedition was now come. A definite answer must be made. According to
the account we are following, a kind of council of war of the Norman and
other barons and the leaders of the army seems to have been held, and to
this council William submitted the question whether it would be better to
take the crown now, or to wait until the country was more completely
subdued and until his wife Matilda could be present to share the honour
with him. This is the question which we are told was proposed, but the
considerations which seem to have led to the final decision bear less
upon this than upon the question whether William should be king at all or
not. We have before this date no record of any formal decision of this
question. It had been doubtless tacitly understood by all; the crown was
more or less openly the object of the expedition; but the time had now
come when the question stood as a sharp issue before William and before
his men and must be frankly met. If the Duke of the Normans was to be
transformed into the King of the English, it could be done only with the
loyal support of his Norman followers; nor is it at all likely that, in a
state so thoroughly feudal as Normandy, the suzerain would have ventured
to assume so great an increase of rank and probable power without the
express consent of his vassals, in disregard of what was certainly the
usual feudal practice. The decision of the council was favourable, and
William accepted the crown. Immediately a force of men was sent forward
to take military possession of the city and build, after the Norman
fashion, some kind of defences there, and to make suitable preparation
for the coming of the king who was to be. The interval William occupied
in his favourite amusement of the chase, and his army in continuing to
provide for their various wants from the surrounding country and that
with no gentle hand.

Whatever may have prevented the coronation of Edgar, there was to be no
unnecessary delay about William's. Christmas day, the nearest great
festival of the Church, was fixed upon for the ceremony, which was to
take place in the new abbey church of Westminster, where Harold had been
crowned and where the body of Edward lay. The consecration was to be
performed by Aldred, Archbishop of York. No Norman, least of all William,
who had come with the special blessing of the rightful pope, could allow
this sacred office to Stigand, whose way to the primacy had been opened
by the outlawry of the Norman archbishop Robert, and whose paillium was
the gift of a schismatic and excommunicated pope. With this slight
defect, from which Harold's coronation also suffered, the ceremony was
made as formal and stately as possible. Norman guards kept order about
the place; a long procession of clergy moved into the church, with the
duke and his supporting bishops at the end. Within, the old ritual of
coronation was followed as nearly as we can judge. Englishmen and
Frenchmen were asked in their own languages if they would have William to
be king, and they shouted out their approval; William then took oath to
defend the Church, to rule justly, to make and keep right law, and to
prevent disorders, and at last he was anointed and crowned and became
King of the English in title and in law. But all this had not taken place
without some plain evidence of the unusual and violent character of the
event. The Normans stationed without had mistaken the shouts of approval
which came from within for shouts of anger and protest, and in true
Norman fashion had at once fallen on whatever was at hand, people and
buildings, slaying and setting fire, to create a diversion and to be sure
of vengeance. In one point at least they were successful; the church was
emptied of spectators and the ceremony was finished, king and bishops
alike trembling with uncertain dread, in the light of burning buildings
and amid the noise of the tumult.

At the time of his coronation William was not far from forty years of
age. He was in the full tide of a vigorous physical life, in height and
size, about the average, possibly a trifle above the average, of the men
of his time, and praised for his unusual strength of arm. In mental gifts
he stood higher above the general run of men than in physical. As a
soldier and a statesman he was clear-headed, quick to see the right thing
to do and the right time to do it; conscious of the ultimate end and of
the combination of means, direct and indirect, slowly working out, which
must be made to reach it. But the characteristic by which he is most
distinguished from the other men of his time is one which he shares with
many of the conquerors of history--a characteristic perhaps indispensable
to that kind of success--an utterly relentless determination to succeed,
if necessary without hesitation at the means employed, and without
considering in the least the cost to others. His inflexible will greatly
impressed his own time. The men who came in contact with him were afraid
of him. His sternness and mercilessness in the enforcement of law, in the
punishment of crime, and in the protection of what he thought to be his
rights, were never relaxed. His laws were thought to be harsh, his
money-getting oppressive, and his forest regulations cruel and unjust.
And yet William intended to be, and he was, a good ruler. He gave his
lands, what was in those days the best proof of good government, and to
be had only of a strong king, internal peace. He was patient also, and
did not often lose control of himself and yield to the terrible passion
which could at last be roused. For thirty years, in name at least, he had
ruled over Normandy, and he came to the throne of England with a long
experience behind him of fighting against odds, of controlling a
turbulent baronage, and of turning anarchy into good order.

William was at last crowned and consecrated king of the English. But the
kingdom over which he could exercise any real rule embraced little more
than the land through which he had actually passed; and yet this fact
must not be understood to mean too much. He had really conquered England,
and there was no avoiding the result. Notwithstanding all the
difficulties which were still before him in getting possession of his
kingdom, and the length of time before the last lingering resistance was
subdued, there is no evidence anywhere of a truly national movement
against him. Local revolts there were, some of which seemed for a moment
to assume threatening proportions; attempts at foreign intervention with
hopes of native aid, which always proved fallacious; long resistance by
some leaders worthy of a better support, the best and bravest of whom
became in the end faithful subjects of the new king: these things there
were, but if we look over the whole period of the Conquest, we can only
be astonished that a handful of foreign adventurers overcame so easily a
strong nation. There is but one explanation to be found, the one to which
such national overthrow is most often due, the lack of leadership.

The panegyrist of the new king, his chaplain, William of Poitiers, leads
us to believe that very soon after the coronation William adopted
somewhat extensive regulations for the settlement of his kingdom and for
the restraint of disorders in his army. We may fairly insist upon some
qualification of the unfailing wisdom and goodness which this
semi-official historian attributes to his patron, but we can hardly do
otherwise than consider his general order of events correct, and his
account of what was actually done on the whole trustworthy. England had
in form submitted, and this submission was a reality so far as all were
concerned who came into contact with William or his army. And now the new
government had to be set going at once. Men must know what law was to be
enforced and under what conditions property was to be secure. The king's
own followers, who had won his kingdom for him, must receive the rewards
which they had expected; but the army was now a national and not an
invading army, and it must be restrained from any further indiscriminate
plunder or rioting. Two acts of William which we must assign to this time
give some evidence that he did not feel as yet altogether sure of the
temper of London. Soon after the ceremony at Westminster he retired to
Barking, a few miles distant, and waited there while the fortification in
the city was completed, which probably by degrees grew into the Tower.
And apparently at this time, certainly not long afterwards, he issued to
the bishop and the portreeve his famous charter for the city, probably
drawn up originally in the English language, or if not, certainly with an
English translation attached for immediate effect. In this charter the
clearest assurance is given on two points about which a great commercial
city, intimately concerned in such a revolution, would be most
anxious,--the establishment of law and the security of property. The king
pledges himself to introduce no foreign law and to make no arbitrary
confiscations of property. To win the steady adhesion of that most
influential body of men who were always at hand to bring the pressure of
their public opinion to bear upon the leaders of the state, the
inhabitants of London, this measure was as wise as was the building of
the Tower for security against the sudden tumults so frequent in the
medieval city, or even more dangerous insurrections.

At the same time strict regulations were made for the repression of
disorders in the army. The leaders were exhorted to justice and to avoid
any oppression of the conquered; the soldiers were forbidden all acts of
violence, and the favourite vices of armies were prohibited,--too much
drinking, we are told, lest it should lead to bloodshed. Judges were
appointed to deal with the offences of the soldiers; the Norman members
of the force were allowed no special privileges; and the control of law
over the army, says the king's chaplain, proudly, was made as strict as
the control of the army over the subject race. Attention was given also
to the fiscal system of the country, to the punishment of criminals, and
to the protection of commerce. Most of this we may well believe, though
some details of fact as well as of motive may be too highly coloured, for
our knowledge of William's attitude towards matters of this kind is not
dependent on the words of any panegyrist.

While William waited at Barking, other English lords in addition to those
who had already acknowledged him came in and made submission. The Norman
authorities say that the earls Edwin and Morcar were the chief of these,
and if not earlier, they must have submitted then. Two men, Siward and
Eldred, are said to have been relatives of the last Saxon king, but in
what way we do not know. Copsi, who had ruled Northumberland for a time
under Tostig, the brother of Harold, impressed the Norman writers with
his importance, and a Thurkill is also mentioned by name, while "many
other nobles" are classed together without special mention. Another great
name which should probably be added to this list is that of Waltheof,
Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon, of distinguished descent and destined
later to an unhappy fate. All of these the king received most kindly. He
accepted their oaths, restored to them all their possessions, and held
them in great honour.

But certainly not in all cases did things go so easily for the English.
Two bits of evidence, one in the Saxon Chronicle, that men bought their
lands of the king, and one in Domesday Book, a statement of the
condition of a piece of land "at the time when the English redeemed their
lands," lead us to infer that William demanded of the English that they
obtain from him in form a confirmation of their possessions for which
they were obliged to pay a price. No statement is made of the reasons by
which this demand was justified, but the temptation to regard it as an
application of the principle of the feudal relief is almost irresistible;
of the relief paid on the succession of a new lord, instead of the
ordinary relief paid on the recognition of the heir to the fief. If the
evidence were greater that this was a common practice in feudalism rather
than an occasional one, as it seems only to have been, it would give us
the simplest and most natural explanation of this act of William's. To
consider that he regarded all the land of the kingdom as rightly
confiscate, which has been suggested as an explanation, because of a
resistance which in many cases never occurred, and in most had not at the
time when this regulation must have been made, is a forced and unnatural
theory, and not in harmony with William's usual methods. To suppose that
he regarded this as an exceptional case, in which a relief on a change of
lords could be collected, is a less violent supposition. Possibly it was
an application more general than ordinary of the practice which was usual
throughout the medieval world of obtaining at a price, from a new king,
confirmations of the important grants of his predecessors. But any
explanation of the ground of right on which the king demanded this
general redemption of lands must remain from lack of evidence a mere
conjecture. The fact itself seems beyond question, and is an indication
of no little value of the views and intentions of the new king. The
kingdom was his; all the land must be held of him and with his formal
consent, but no uncalled-for disturbance of possession was to occur.

Beyond reasonable doubt at this time was begun that policy of actual
confiscation, where reasons existed, which by degrees transformed the
landed aristocracy from English into Norman. Those who had gained the
crown for the new king must receive the minor rewards which they had had
in view for themselves, and with no unnecessary delay. A new nobility
must be endowed, and policy would dictate also that at the earliest
moment the country should be garrisoned by faithful vassals of the king's
own, supplied with means of defending themselves and having
proportionately as much at stake in the country as himself. The lands and
property of those who had fought against him or who were irreconcilable
would be in his hands to dispose of, according to any theory of his
position which William might hold. The crown lands of the old kings were
of course his, and in spite of all the grants that were made during the
reign, this domain was increased rather than diminished under William.
The possessions of Harold's family and of all those who had fallen in the
battle with him were at once confiscated, and these seem to have sufficed
for present needs. Whatever may have been true later, we may accept the
conclusion that "on the whole William at this stage of his reign warred
rather against the memory of the dead than against the lives or fortunes
of the living."

These confiscated lands the king bestowed on the chiefs of his army. We
have little information of the way in which this change was carried out,
but in many cases certainly the possessions held by a given Saxon thane
in the days of Edward were turned over as a whole to a given Norman with
no more accurate description than that the lands of A were now to be the
lands of B. What lands had actually belonged to A, the old owner, was
left to be determined by some sort of local inquiry, but with this the
king did not concern himself beyond giving written orders that the change
was to be made. Often this turning over to a Norman of the estate of a
dispossessed Saxon resulted in unintended injustice and in legal quarrels
which were unsettled years afterwards. Naturally the new owner considered
himself the successor of the old one in all the rights which he
possessed. If for some of his manors the Saxon was the tenant of a church
or of an abbey, the Norman often seized upon these with the rest, as if
all were rightfully confiscated together and all held by an equally clear
title, and the Church was not always able, even after long litigation, to
establish its rights. We have little direct evidence as to the
relationship which such grants created between the recipient and the
king, or as to the kind of tenure by which they were held, but the
indirect evidence is constantly accumulating, and may be said to be now
indeed conclusive, that the relation and the tenure made use of were the
only ones with which the Normans were at this time familiar or which
would be likely to seem to them possible,--the relationship of vassal and
lord; and that with these first grants of land which the king made to his
followers was introduced into England that side of the feudal system
which Saxon England had never known, but which was, from this time on,
for nearly two centuries, to be the ruling system in both public and
private law.

In saying that the feudal system was introduced into England by these
grants, we must guard against a misconception. The feudal system, if we
use that name as we commonly do to cover the entire relations of the
society of that age, had two sides to it, distinct in origin, character,
and purpose. To any clear understanding of the organization of feudal
society, or of the change which its establishment made in English
history, it is necessary, although it is not easy, to hold these two
sides apart. There was in the practices and in the vocabulary of
feudalism itself some confusion of the two in the borderland that lay
between them, and the difficulty is made greater for us by the fact that
both sides were primarily concerned with the holding of land, and
especially by the fact that the same piece of land belonged at once to
both sides and was held at the same time by two different men, by two
different kinds of tenure, and under two different systems of law. The
one side may be called from its ruling purpose economic and the other
political. The one had for its object the income to be drawn from the
land; the other regarded chiefly the political obligations joined to the
land and the political or social rank and duties of the holders.

The economic side concerned the relations of the cultivators of the soil
with the man who was, in relation to them, the owner of that soil; it
regulated the tenures by which they held the little pieces which they
cultivated, their rights over that land and its produce, their
obligations to the owner of service in cultivating for him the lands
which he reserved for his own use, and, in addition, of payments to him
in kind and perhaps in money on a variety of occasions and occurrences
throughout the year; it defined and practically limited, also, the
owner's right of exaction from these cultivators. These regulations were
purely customary; they had grown up slowly out of experience, and they
were not written. But this was true also of almost all the law of that
age, and this law of the cultivators was as valid in its place as the
king's law, and was enforced in its own courts. It is true that most of
these men who cultivated the soil were serfs, at least not entirely free;
but that fact made no difference in this particular; they had their
standing, their voice, and their rights in their lord's "customary"
court, and the documents which describe to us these arrangements call
them, as they do the highest barons of the realm, "peers,"--that is,
peers of these customary courts. Not all, indeed, were serfs; many
freemen, small farmers, possibly it would not be wrong to say all who had
formerly belonged to that class, had been forced by one necessity or
another to enter into this system, to surrender the unqualified ownership
of their lands, and to agree to hold them of some lord, though traces of
their original full ownership may long have lingered about the land. When
they did this, they were brought into very close relations with the
unfree cultivators; they were parts of the same system and subject to
some of the same regulations and services but their land was usually held
on terms that were economically better than the serfs obtained, and they
retained their personal freedom. They were members of the lords' courts,
and there the serfs were their peers; but they were also members of the
old national courts of hundred and shire, and there they were the peers
of knights and barons.

This system, this economic side of feudalism, is what we know as the
manorial system. Its unit was the manor, an estate of land larger or
smaller, but large enough to admit of this characteristic organization,
managed as a unit, usually from some well-defined centre, the manor
house, and directed by a single responsible head, the lord's steward. The
land which constituted the manor was divided into two clearly
distinguished parts, the "domain" and the "tenures." The domain was the
part of each manor that was reserved for the lord's own use, and
cultivated for him by the labour of his tenants under the direction of
the steward, as a part of the services by which they held their lands;
that is, as a part of the rent paid for them. The returns from these
domain lands formed a very large part, probably the largest part, of the
income of the landlord class in feudal days. The "tenures" were the
holdings of the cultivators, worked for themselves by their own labour,
of varying sizes and held on terms of varying advantage, and usually
scattered about the manor in small strips, a bit here and another there.
Besides these cultivated lands there were also, in the typical manor,
common pasture lands and common wood lands, in which the rights of each
member of this little community were carefully regulated by the customary
law of the manor. This whole arrangement was plainly economic in
character and purpose it was not in the least political. Its object was
to get the soil cultivated, to provide mankind with the necessary food
and clothing, and the more fortunate members of the race with their
incomes. This purpose it admirably served in an age when local protection
was an ever present need, when the labouring man had often to look to the
rich and strong man of the neighbourhood for the security which he could
not get from the state. Whatever may have been the origin of this system,
it was at any rate this need which perpetuated it for centuries from the
fall of Rome to the later Middle Ages; and during this long time it was
by this system that the western world was fed and all its activities

This economic side of feudalism, this manorial system, was not introduced
into England by the Norman Conquest. It had grown up in the Saxon states,
as it had on the continent, because of the prevalence there of the
general social and economic conditions which favoured its growth. It was
different from the continental system in some details; it used different
terms for many things; but it was essentially the same system. It had its
body of customary law and its private courts; and these courts, like
their prototypes in the Prankish state, had in numerous cases usurped or
had been granted the rights and functions of the local courts of the
nation, and so had annexed a minor political function which did not
naturally belong to the system. Indeed, this process had gone so far that
we may believe that the stronger government of the state established by
the Conqueror found it necessary to check it and to hold the operation of
the private courts within stricter limits. This economic organization
which the Normans found in England was so clearly parallel with that
which they had always known that they made no change in it. They
introduced their own vocabulary in many cases in place of the Saxon; they
identified in some cases practices which looked alike but which were not
strictly identical; and they had a very decided tendency to treat the
free members of the manorial population, strongly intrenched as they were
in the popular courts, as belonging at the same time to both sides of
feudalism, the economic and the political: but the confusion of language
and custom which they introduced in consequence is not sufficient to
disguise from us the real relationships which existed. Nor should it be
in the opposite process, which was equally easy, as when the Saxon
chronicler, led by the superficial resemblance and overlooking the great
institutional difference, called the curia of William by the Saxon name
of witenagemot.

With the other side of feudalism, the political, the case was different.
That had never grown up in the Saxon world. The starting-points in
certain minor Roman institutions from which it had grown, seem to have
disappeared with the Saxon occupation of Britain. The general conditions
which favoured its development--the almost complete breakdown of the
central government and the difficult and interrupted means of
communication--existed in far less degree in the Saxon states than in the
more extensive Frankish territories. Such rudimentary practices as seem
parallel to early stages of feudal growth were more so in appearance than
in reality, and we can hardly affirm with any confidence that political
feudalism was even in process of formation in England before the
Conquest, though it would undoubtedly have been introduced there by some
process before very long.

The political feudal organization was as intimately bound up with the
possession of land as the economic, but its primary object was different.
It may be described as that form of organization in which the duties of
the citizen to the state had been changed into a species of land rent. A
set of legal arrangements and personal relationships which had grown up
wholly in the field of private affairs, for the serving of private ends,
had usurped the place of public law in the state. Duties of the citizen
and functions of the government were translated into its terms and
performed as incidents of a private obligation. The individual no longer
served in the army because this service was a part of his obligation as a
citizen, but because he had agreed by private contract to do so as a part
of the rent he was to pay for the land he held of another man. The
judicial organization was transformed in the same way. The national
courts disappeared, and their place was taken by private courts made up
of tenants. The king summoned at intervals the great men of Church and
State to gather round him in his council, law court, and legislature, in
so far as there was a legislature in that age, the curia regis, the
mother institution of a numerous progeny; but he did not summon them, and
they came no longer, because they were the great men of Church and State,
the wise men of the land, but because they had entered into a private
obligation with him to attend when called upon, as a return for lands
which he had given them; or, in other words, as Henry II told the bishops
in the Constitutions of Clarendon, because they were his vassals. Public
taxation underwent the same change, and the money revenue of the feudal
state which corresponds most nearly to the income of taxation, was made
up of irregular payments due on the occurrence of specified events from
those who held land of the king, and these in turn collected like
payments of their tenants; the relief, for instance, on the succession of
the heir to his father's holding, or the aids in three cases, on the
knighting of the lord's eldest son, the marrying of his eldest daughter,
and the ransom of his own person from imprisonment. The contact of the
central government with the mass of the men of the state was broken off
by the intervening series of lords who were political rulers each of the
territory or group of lands immediately subject to himself, and exercised
within those limits the functions which the general government should
normally exercise for the whole state. The payments and services which
the lord's vassals made to him, while they were of the nature of rent,
were not rent in the economic sense; they were important to the suzerain
less as matters of income than as defining his political power and
marking his rank in this hierarchical organization. The state as a whole
might retain its geographical outlines and the form of a common
government, but it was really broken up into fragments of varying size,
whose lords possessed in varying degrees of completeness the attributes
of sovereignty.

This organization, however, never usurped the place of the state so
completely as might be inferred. It had grown up within the limits of a
state which was, during the whole period of its formation, nominally
ruled over by a king who was served by a more or less centralized
administrative system. This royal power never entirely disappeared. It
survived as the conception of government, it survived in the exercise of
some rights everywhere, and of many rights in some places, even in the
most feudal of countries. Some feeling of public law and public duty
still lingered. In the king's court, the curia regis, whether in
England or in France, there was often present a small group of members,
at first in a minor and subordinate capacity, who were there, not because
they were the vassals of the king, but because they were the working
members of a government machine. The military necessity of the state in
all countries occasionally called out something like the old general
levy. In the judicial department, in England at least, one important
class of courts, the popular county courts, was never seriously affected
by feudalism, either in their organization or in the law which they
interpreted. Any complete description of the feudal organization must be
understood to be a description of tendencies rather than of a realized
system. It was the tendency of feudalism to transform the state into a
series of principalities rising in tiers one above the other, and to get
the business of the state done, not through a central constitutional
machine, but through a series of graded duties corresponding to these
successive stages and secured by private agreements between the
landholders and by a customary law which was the outgrowth of such

At the date of the Norman Conquest of England, this tendency was more
nearly realized in France than anywhere else. Within the limits of that
state a number of great feudal principalities had been formed, duchies
and counties, round the administrative divisions of an earlier time as
their starting-point, in many of which the sovereign of the state could
exercise no powers of government. The extensive powers which the earlier
system had intrusted to the duke or count as an administrative officer of
the state he now exercised as a practically independent sovereign, and
the state could expect from this portion of its territory only the feudal
services of its ruler, perhaps ill-defined and difficult to enforce. In
some cases, however, this process of breaking up the state into smaller
units went no further. Normandy, with which we are particularly
concerned, was an instance of this fact. The duke was practically the
sole sovereign of that province. The king of France was entirely shut
out. Even the Church was under the unlimited control of the duke. And
with respect to his subjects his power was as great as with respect to
his nominal sovereign. Very few great baronies existed in Normandy formed
of contiguous territory and capable of development into independent
principalities, and those that did exist were kept constantly in the
hands of relatives of the ducal house and under strong control. Political
feudalism existed in Normandy in even greater perfection and in a more
logical completeness, if we regard the forms alone, its practices and
customs, than was usual in the feudal world of that age; but it existed
not as the means by which the state was broken into fragments, but as the
machinery by which it was governed by the duke. It formed the bond of
connexion between him and the great men of the state. It defined the
services which he had the right to demand of them, and which they in turn
might demand of their vassals. It formed the foundation of the army and
of the judicial system. Every department of the state was influenced by
its forms and principles. At the same time the Duke of Normandy was more
than a feudal suzerain. He had saved on the whole, from the feudal
deluge, more of the prerogatives of sovereignty than had the king of
France. He had a considerable non-feudal administrative system, though it
might not reach all parts of the duchy. The supreme judicial power had
never been parted with, and the Norman barons were unable to exercise in
its full extent the right of high justice. The oath of allegiance from
all freemen, whosesoever vassals they might be, traces of which are to be
found in many feudal lands and even under the Capetian kings, was
retained in the duchy. Private war, baronial coinage, engagements with
foreign princes to the injury of the duke,--these might occur in
exceptional cases during a minority or under a weak duke, or in time of
rebellion; but the strong dukes repressed them with an iron hand, and no
Norman baron could claim any of them as a prescriptive right. Feudalism
existed in Normandy as the organization of the state, and as the system
which regulated the relations between the duke and the knights and the
nobles of the land, but it did not exist at the expense of the sovereign
rights of the duke.

This was the system which was introduced fully formed into England with
the grants of land which the Conqueror made to his barons. It was the
only system known to him by which to regulate their relations to himself
and their duties to the state. To suppose a gradual introduction of
feudalism into England, except in a geographical sense, as the
confiscation spread over the land, is to misunderstand both feudalism
itself and its history. This system gave to the baron opportunities which
might be dangerous under a ruler who could not make himself obeyed, but
there was nothing in it inconsistent with the practical absolutism
exercised by the first of the Norman kings and by the more part of his
immediate successors. Feudalism brought in with itself two ideas which
exercised decisive influence on later English history. I do not mean to
assert that these ideas were consciously held, or that they could have
been formulated in words, though of the first at least this was very
nearly true, but that they unconsciously controlled the facts of the time
and their future development. One was the idea that all holders of land
in the kingdom, except the king, were, strictly speaking, tenants rather
than owners, which profoundly influenced the history of English law; the
other was the idea that important public duties were really private
obligations, created by a business contract, which as profoundly
influenced the growth of the constitution. Taken together, the
introduction of the feudal system was as momentous a change as any which
followed the Norman Conquest, as decisive in its influence upon the
future as the enrichment of race or of language; more decisive in one
respect, since without the consequences in government and constitution,
which were destined to follow from the feudalization of the English
state, neither race nor language could have done the work in the world
which they have already accomplished and are yet destined to perform in
still larger measure.

But, however profound this change may have been, it affected but a small
class, comparatively speaking. The whole number of military units, of
knights due the king in service, seems to have been something less than
five thousand.[3] For the great mass of the population, the working
substratum, whose labours sustained the life of the nation, the Norman
Conquest made but little change. The interior organization of the manor
was not affected by it. Its work went on in the same way as before.
There was a change of masters; there was a new set of ideas to interpret
the old relationship; the upper grades of the manorial population
suffered in some parts of England a serious depression. But in the main,
as concerned the great mass of facts, there was no change of importance.
Nor was there any, at first at least, which affected the position of the
towns. The new system allowed as readily as the old the rights which
they already possessed. In the end, the new ideas might be a serious
matter for the towns in some particulars, but at present the conditions
did not exist which were to raise these difficulties. At the time, to
the mass of the nation, to everybody indeed, the Norman Conquest might
easily seem but a change of sovereigns, a change of masters. It is
because we can see the results of the changes which it really introduced
that we are able to estimate their profound significance.

The spoiling of England for the benefit of the foreigner did not consist
in the confiscation of lands alone. Besides the forced redemption of
their lands, William seems to have laid a heavy tax on the nation, and
the churches and monasteries whose lands were free from confiscation seem
to have suffered heavy losses of their gold and silver and precious
stuffs. The royal treasure and Harold's possessions would pass into
William's hands, and much confiscated and plundered wealth besides. These
things he distributed with a free hand, especially to the churches of the
continent whose prayers and blessings he unquestionably regarded as a
strong reinforcement of his arms. Harold's rich banner of the fighting
man went to Rome, and valuable gifts besides, and the Norman
ecclesiastical world had abundant cause to return thanks to heaven for
the successes which had attended the efforts of the Norman military arm.
If William despatched these gifts to the continent before his own return
to Normandy, they did not exhaust his booty, for the wonder and
admiration of the duchy is plainly expressed at the richness and beauty
of the spoils which he brought home with him.

Having settled the matters which demanded immediate attention, the king
proceeded to make a progress through those parts of his kingdom which
were under his control. Just where he went we are not told, but he can
hardly have gone far outside the counties of southern and eastern England
which were directly influenced by his march on London. In such a progress
he probably had chiefly in mind to take possession for himself and his
men of confiscated estates and of strategic points. No opposition showed
itself anywhere, but women with their children appeared along the way to
beseech his mercy, and the favour which he showed to these suppliants was
thought worthy of special remark. Winchester seems to have been visited,
and secured by the beginning of a Norman castle within the walls, and the
journey ended at Pevensey, where he had landed so short a time before in
pursuit of the crown. William had decided that he could return to
Normandy, and the decision that this could be safely done with so small a
part of the kingdom actually in hand, with so few castles already built
or garrisons established, is the clearest possible evidence of William's
opinion of the situation. He would have been the last man to venture such
a step if he had believed the risk to be great. And the event justified
his judgment. The insurrectionary movements which called him back clearly
appear to have been, not so much efforts of the nation to throw off a
foreign yoke, as revolts excited by the oppression and bad government of
those whom he had left in charge of the kingdom.

On the eve of his departure he confided the care of his new kingdom to
two of his followers whom he believed the most devoted to himself, the
south-east to his half brother Odo, and the north to William Fitz Osbern.
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, but less an ecclesiastic, according to the ideals
of the Church, than a typically feudal bishop, was assigned the
responsibility for the fortress of Dover, was given large estates in Kent
and to the west of it, and was probably made earl of that county at this
time. William Fitz Osbern was the son of the duke's guardian, who had
been murdered for his fidelity during William's minority, and they had
been boys together, as we are expressly told. He was appointed to be
responsible for Winchester and to hold what might be called the marches,
towards the unoccupied north and west. Very probably at this time also he
was made Earl of Hereford? Some other of the leading nobles of the
Conquest had been established in their possessions by this date, as we
know on good evidence, like Hugh of Grantmesnil in Hampshire, but the
chief dependence of the king was apparently upon these two, who are
spoken of as having under their care the minor holders of the castles
which had been already established.

No disorders in Normandy demanded the duke's return. Everything had been
quiet there, under the control of Matilda and those who had been
appointed to assist her. William's visit at this time looks less like a
necessity than a parade to make an exhibition of the results of his
venture. He took with him a splendid assortment of plunder and a long
train of English nobles, among whom the young atheling Edgar, Stigand,
Archbishop of Canterbury, Earls Edwin and Morcar, Waltheof, son of
Siward, the Abbot of Glastonbury, and a thane of Kent, are mentioned by
name. The favour and honour with which William treated these men did not
disguise from them the fact that they were really held as hostages. No
business of especial importance occupied William during his nine months'
stay in Normandy. He was received with great rejoicing on every hand,
especially in Rouen, where Matilda was staying, and his return and
triumphal progress through the country reminded his panegyrist of the
successes and glories of the great Roman commanders. He distributed with
a free hand, to the churches and monasteries, the wealth which he had
brought with him. A great assembly gathered to celebrate with him the
Easter feast at the abbey of Fecamp. His presence was sought to add eclat
to the dedication of new churches. But the event of the greatest
importance which occurred during this visit to the duchy was the falling
vacant of the primacy of Normandy by the death of Maurilius, Archbishop
of Rouen. The universal choice for his successor was Lanfranc, the
Italian, Abbot of St. Stephen's at Caen, who had already made evident to
all the possession of those talents for government which he was to
exercise in a larger field. But though William stood ready, in form at
least, to grant his sanction, Lanfranc declined the election, which then
fell upon John, Bishop of Avranches, a friend of his. Lanfranc was sent
to Rome to obtain the pallium for the new archbishop, but his mission was
in all probability one of information to the pope regarding larger
interests than those of the archbishopric of Rouen.

In the meantime, affairs had not run smoothly in England. We may easily
guess that William's lieutenants, especially his brother, had not failed
on the side of too great gentleness in carrying out his directions to
secure the land with garrisons and castles. In various places unconnected
with one another troubles had broken out. In the north, where Copsi had
been made Earl of Northumberland, an old local dynastic feud was still
unsettled, and the mere appointment of an earl would not bring it to an
end. Copsi was slain by his rival, Oswulf, who was himself soon afterward
killed, but the Norman occupation had still to be begun. In the west a
more interesting resistance to the Norman advance had developed near
Hereford, led by Edric, called the Wild, descendant of a noble Saxon
house. He had enlisted the support of the Welsh, and in retaliation for
attacks upon himself had laid waste a large district in Herefordshire.
Odo had had in his county an insurrection which threatened for a moment
to have most serious consequences, but which had ended in a complete
failure. The men of Kent, planning rebellion, had sent across the channel
to Eustace, Count of Boulogne, who believed that he had causes of
grievance against William, and had besought him to come to their aid in
an attempt to seize the fortress of Dover. Eustace accepted the
invitation and crossed over at the appointed time, but his allies had not
all gathered when he arrived, and the unsteady character of the count
wrecked the enterprise. He attacked in haste, and when he failed to carry
the castle by storm, he retired in equal haste and abandoned the
undertaking. William judged him too important a man to treat with
severity, and restored him to his favour. Besides these signs which
revealed the danger of an open outbreak, William undoubtedly knew that
many of the English had left the country and had gone in various
directions, seeking foreign aid. His absence could not be prolonged
without serious consequences, and in December, 1067, he returned to

[1] William of Poitiers, in Migne's Patrologia Latina, cxlix,
1258, and see F. Baring, in Engl. Hist. Rev., xiii. 18 (1898).

[2] Orderic Vitalis, ii. 158 (ed. Le Prevost).

[3] Round, Feudal England, p. 292.



With William's return to England began the long and difficult task of
bringing the country completely under his control. But this was not a
task that called for military genius. Patience was the quality most
demanded, and William's patience gave way but rarely. There was no army
in the field against him. No large portion of the land was in
insurrection. No formal campaign was necessary. Local revolts had to be
put down one after another, or a district dealt with where rebellion was
constantly renewed. The Scandinavian north and the Celtic west were the
regions not yet subdued, and the seats of future trouble. Three years
were filled with this work, and the fifteen years that follow were
comparatively undisturbed. For the moment after his return, William was
occupied with no hostilities. The Christmas of 1067 was celebrated in
London with the land at peace, Normans and English meeting together to
all appearance with cordial good-will. A native, Gospatric, was probably
at this time made Earl of Northumberland, in place of Copsi, who had been
killed, though this was an exercise of royal power in form rather than in
reality, since William's authority did not yet reach so far. A Norman,
Remigius, was made Bishop of Dorchester, in place of Wulfwig, who had
died while the king was in Normandy, and William's caution in dealing
with the matter of Church reform is shown in the fact that the new bishop
received his consecration from Stigand. It is possible also that another
heavy tax was imposed at this time.

But soon after Christmas, William felt himself obliged to take the field.
He had learned that Exeter, the rich commercial city of the south-west,
was making preparations to resist him. It was in a district where Harold
and his family had had large possessions. His mother was in the city, and
perhaps others of the family. At least some English of prominence seem to
have rallied around them. The citizens had repaired and improved their
already strong walls. They had impressed foreigners, merchants even, into
their service, and were seeking allies in other towns. William's rule had
never yet reached into that part of England, and Exeter evidently hoped
to shut him out altogether. When the king heard of these preparations, he
acted with his usual promptitude, but with no sacrifice of his diplomatic
skill. The citizens should first be made to acknowledge their intentions.
A message was sent to the city, demanding that the oath of allegiance to
himself be taken. The citizens answered that they would take no oath, and
would not admit him within the walls, but that they were willing to pay
him the customary tribute. William at once replied that he was not
accustomed to have subjects on such conditions, and at once began his
march against the city. Orderic Vitalis thought it worthy of note, that
in this army William was using Englishmen for the first time as soldiers.

When the hostile army drew near to the town, the courage of some of the
leading men failed, and they went out to seek terms of peace. They
promised to do whatever was commanded, and they gave hostages, but on
their return they found their negotiations disavowed and the city
determined to stand a siege. This lasted only eighteen days. Some decided
advantage which the Normans gained--the undermining of the walls seems
to be implied--induced the city to try again for terms. The clergy,
with their sacred books and relics, accompanied the deputation, which
obtained from the king better promises than had been hoped for. For some
reason William departed from his usual custom of severity to those who
resisted. He overlooked their evil conduct, ordered no confiscations, and
even stationed guards in the gates to keep out the soldiers who would
have helped themselves to the property of the citizens with some
violence. But as usual he selected a site for a castle within the walls,
and left a force of chosen knights under faithful command, to complete
the fortification and to form the garrison. Harold's mother, Gytha, left
the city before its surrender, and finally found a refuge in Saint Omer,
in Flanders. Harold's sons also, if they were in Exeter, made their
escape before its fall.

After subduing Exeter, William marched with his army into Cornwall, and
put down without difficulty whatever resistance he found there. The
confiscation of forfeited estates was no doubt one object of his march
through the land, and the greater part of these were bestowed upon his
own half brother, Robert, Count of Mortain, the beginning of what grew
ultimately into the great earldom of Cornwall. In all, the grants which
were made to Robert have been estimated at 797 manors, the largest made
to any one as the result of the Conquest. Of these, 248 manors were in
Cornwall, practically the whole shire; 75 in Dorset, and 49 in
Devonshire. This was almost a principality in itself, and is alone nearly
enough to disprove the policy attributed to William of scattering about
the country the great estates which he granted. So powerful a possession
was the earldom which was founded upon this grant that after a time the
policy which had been followed in Normandy, in regard to the great
counties, seemed the only wise one in this case also, and it was not
allowed to pass out of the immediate family of the king until in the
fourteenth century it was made into a provision for the king's eldest
son, as it has ever since remained. These things done, William disbanded
his army and returned to spend Easter at Winchester.

Once more for a moment the land seemed to be at peace, and William was
justified in looking upon himself as now no longer merely the leader of a
military adventure, seeking to conquer a foreign state, but as firmly
established in a land where he had made a new home for his house. He
could send for his wife; his children should be born here. It should be
the native land of future generations for his family. Matilda came soon
after Easter, with a distinguished train of ladies as well as lords, and
with her Guy, Bishop of Amiens, who, Orderic tells us, had already
written his poem on the war of William and Harold. At Whitsuntide, in
Westminster, Matilda was crowned queen by Archbishop Aldred. Later in the
summer Henry, the future King Henry I, was born, and the new royal family
had completely identified itself with the new kingdom.

But a great task still lay before the king, the greatest perhaps that he
had yet undertaken. The north was his only in name. Scarcely had any
English king up to this time exercised there the sort of authority to
which William was accustomed, and which he was determined to exercise
everywhere. The question of the hour was, whether he could establish his
authority there by degrees, as he seemed to be trying to do, or only
after a sharp conflict. The answer to this question was known very soon
after the coronation of Matilda. What seemed to the Normans a great
conspiracy of the north and west was forming. The Welsh and English
nobles were making common cause; the clergy and the common people joined
their prayers; York was noted as especially enthusiastic in the cause,
and many there took to living in tents as a kind of training for the
conflict which was coming. The Normans understood at the time that there
were two reasons for this determination to resist by force any further
extension of William's rule. One was, the personal dissatisfaction of
Earl Edwin. He had been given by William some undefined authority, and
promoted above his brother, and he had even been promised a daughter of
the king's as his wife. Clearly it had seemed at one time very necessary
to conciliate him. But either that necessity had passed away, or William
was reluctant to fulfil his promise; and Edwin, discontented with the
delay, was ready to lead what was for him at least, after he had accepted
so much from William, a rebellion. He was the natural leader of such an
attempt; his family history made him that. Personal popularity and his
wide connexions added to his strength, and if he had had in himself the
gifts of leadership, it would not have been even then too late to dispute
the possession of England on even terms. The second reason given us is
one to which we must attach much greater force than to the personal
influence of Edwin. He in all probability merely embraced an opportunity.
The other was the really moving cause. This is said to have been the
discontent of the English and Welsh nobles under the Norman oppression,
but we must phrase it a little differently. No direct oppression had as
yet been felt, either in the north or west, but the severity of William
in the south and east, the widespread confiscations there, were
undoubtedly well known, and easily read as signs of what would follow in
the north, and already the borders of Wales were threatened n with the
pushing forward of the Norman lines, which went on so steadily and for so
long a time.

Whether or not the efforts which had been making to obtain foreign help
against William were to result finally in bringing in a reinforcement of
Scots or Danes, the union of Welshmen and Englishmen was itself
formidable and demanded instant attention. Early in the summer of 1068
the army began its march upon York, advancing along a line somewhat to
the west of the centre of England, as the situation would naturally
demand. As in William's earlier marches, so here again he encountered no
resistance. Whatever may have been the extent of the conspiracy or the
plans of the leaders, the entire movement collapsed before the Norman's
firm determination to be master of the kingdom. Edwin and Morcar had
collected an army and were in the field somewhere between Warwick and
Northampton, but when the time came when the fight could no longer be
postponed, they thought better of it, besought the king's favour again,
and obtained at least the show of it. The boastful preparations at York
brought forth no better result. The citizens went out to meet the king on
his approach, and gave him the keys of the city and hostages from among

The present expedition went no further north, but its influence extended
further. Ethelwin, the Bishop of Durham came in and made his submission.
He bore inquiries also from Malcolm, the king of Scots, who had been
listening to the appeals for aid from the enemies of William, and
preparing himself to advance to their assistance. The Bishop of Durham
was sent back to let him know what assurances would be acceptable to
William, and he undoubtedly also informed him of the actual state of
affairs south of his borders, of the progress which the invader had made,
and of the hopelessness of resistance. The Normans at any rate believed
that as a result of the bishop's mission Malcolm was glad to send down an
embassy of his own which tendered to William an oath of obedience. It is
not likely that William attached much weight to any profession of the
Scottish king's. Already, probably as soon as the failure of this
northern undertaking was apparent, some of the most prominent of the
English, who seem to have taken part in it, had abandoned England and
gone to the Scottish court. It is very possible that Edgar and his two
sisters, Margaret and Christina, sought the protection of Malcolm at this
time, together with Gospatric, who had shortly before been made Earl of
Northumberland, and the sheriff Merleswegen. These men had earlier
submitted to William, Merleswegen perhaps in the submission at
Berkhampsted, with Edgar, and had been received with favour. Under what
circumstances they turned against him we do not know, but they had very
likely been attracted by the promise of strength in this effort at
resistance, and were now less inclined than the unstable Edwin to profess
so early a repentance. Margaret, whether she went to Scotland at this
time or a little later, found there a permanent home, consenting against
her will to become the bride of Malcolm instead of the bride of the
Church as she had wished. As queen she gained, through teaching her wild
subjects, by the example of gentle manners and noble life, a wider
mission than the convent could have furnished her. The conditions which
Malcolm accepted evidently contained no demand as to any English
fugitives, nor any other to which he could seriously object. William was
usually able to discern the times, and did not attempt the impracticable.

William intended this expedition of his to result in the permanent
pacification of the country through which he had passed. There is no
record of any special severity attending the march, but certainly no one
was able to infer from it that the king was weak or to be trifled with.
The important towns he secured with castles and garrisons, as he had in
the south. Warwick and Northampton were occupied in this way as he
advanced, with York at the north, and Lincoln, Huntingdon, and Cambridge
along the east as he returned. A great wedge of fortified posts was thus
driven far into that part of the land from which the greatest trouble was
to be expected, and this, together with the general impression which his
march had made, was the most which was gained from it. Sometime during
this summer of 1068 another fruitless attempt had been made to disturb
the Norman possession of England. Harold's sons had retired, perhaps
after the fall of Exeter, to Ireland, where their father had formerly
found refuge. There it was not difficult to stir up the love of
plundering raids in the descendants of the Vikings, and they returned at
this time, it is said with more than fifty ships, and sailed up the
Bristol Channel. If any among them intended a serious invasion of the
island, the result was disappointing. They laid waste the coast lands;
attacked the city of Bristol, but were beaten off by the citizens; landed
again further down in Somerset, and were defeated in a great battle by
Ednoth, who had been Harold's staller, where many were killed on both
sides, including Ednoth himself; and then returned with nothing gained
but such plunder as they succeeded in carrying off. The next year they
repeated the attempt in the same style, and were again defeated, even
more disastrously, this time by one of the newcomers, Brian of Britanny.
Such piratical descents were not dangerous to the Norman government, nor
was a rally to beat them off any test of English loyalty to William.

Even the historian, Orderic Vitalis, half English by descent and wholly
so by birth, but writing in Normandy for Normans and very favourable to
William, or possibly the even more Norman William of Poitiers, whom he
may have been following, was moved by the sufferings of the land under
these repeated invasions, revolts, and harryings, and notes at the close
of his account of this year how conquerors and conquered alike were
involved in the evils of war, famine, and pestilence. He adds that the
king, seeing the injuries which were inflicted on the country, gathered
together the soldiers who were serving him for pay, and sent them home
with rich rewards. We may regard this disbanding of his mercenary troops
as another sign that William considered his position secure.

In truth, however, the year which was coming on, 1069, was another year
of crisis in the history of the Conquest. The danger which had been
threatening William from the beginning was this year to descend upon him,
and to prove as unreal as all those he had faced since the great battle
with Harold. For a long time efforts had been making to induce some
foreign power to interfere in England and support the cause of the
English against the invader. Two states seemed especially fitted for the
mission, from close relationship with England in the past,--Scotland and
Denmark. Fugitives, who preferred exile to submission, had early sought
the one or the other of these courts, and urged intervention upon their
kings. Scotland had for the moment formally accepted the Conquest.
Denmark had not done so, and Denmark was the more directly interested in
the result, not perhaps as a mere question of the independence of
England, but for other possible reasons. If England was to be ruled by a
foreign king, should not that king on historical grounds be a Dane rather
than a Norman? Ought he not to be of the land that had already furnished
kings to England? And if Sweyn dreamed of the possibility of extending
his rule, at such a time, over this other member of the empire of his
uncle, Canute the Great, he is certainly not to be blamed.

It is true that the best moment for such an intervention had been allowed
to slip by, the time when no beginning of conquest had been made in the
north, but the situation was not even yet unfavourable. William was to
learn, when the new year had hardly begun, that he really held no more of
the north than his garrisons commanded. Perhaps it was a rash attempt to
try to establish a Norman earl of Northumberland in Durham before the
land had been overawed by his own presence; but the post was important,
the two experiments which had been made to secure the country through the
appointment of English earls had failed, and the submission of the
previous summer might prove to be real. In January Robert of Comines was
made earl, and with rash confidence, against the advice of the bishop, he
took possession of Durham with five hundred men or more. He expected, no
doubt, to be very soon behind the walls of a new castle, but he was
allowed no time. The very night of his arrival the enemy gathered and
massacred him and all his men but two. Yorkshire took courage at this and
cut up a Norman detachment. Then the exiles in Scotland believed the time
had come for another attempt, and Edgar, Gospatric, and the others, with
the men of Northumberland at their back, advanced to attack the castle in
York. This put all the work of the previous summer in danger, and at the
call of William Malet, who held the castle for him, the king advanced
rapidly to his aid, fell unexpectedly on the insurgents, and scattered
them with great slaughter. As a result the Norman hold on York was
tightened by the building of a second castle, but Northumberland was
still left to itself.

William may have thought, as he returned to celebrate Easter at
Winchester, that the north had learned a lesson that would be sufficient
for some time, but he must have heard soon after his arrival that the men
of Yorkshire had again attacked his castles, though they had been beaten
off without much difficulty. Nothing had been gained by any of these
attempts, but they must have been indications to any abroad who were
watching the situation, and to William as well, that an invasion of
England in that quarter might hope for much local assistance. It was
nearly the end of the summer before it came, and a summer that was on the
whole quiet, disturbed only by the second raid of Harold's sons in the
Bristol Channel.

Sweyn of Denmark had at last made up his mind, and had got ready an
expedition, a somewhat miscellaneous force apparently, "sharked up" from
all the Baltic lands, and not too numerous. His fleet sailed along the
shores of the North Sea and first appeared off south-western England. A
foolish attack on Dover was beaten off, and three other attempts to land
on the east coast, where the country was securely held, were easily
defeated. Finally, it would seem, off the Humber they fell in with some
ships bearing the English leaders from Scotland, who had been waiting for
them. There they landed and marched upon York, joined on the way by the
men of the country of all ranks. And the mere news of their approach, the
prospect of new horrors to be lived through with no chance of mitigating
them, proved too much for the old archbishop, Aldred, and he died a few
days before the storm broke. William was hunting in the forest of Dean,
on the southern borders of Wales, when he heard that the invaders had
landed, but his over-confident garrison in York reported that they could
hold out for a year without aid, and he left them for the present to
themselves. They planned to stand a siege, and in clearing a space about
the castle they kindled a fire which destroyed the most of the city,
including the cathedral church; but when the enemy appeared, they tried a
battle in the open, and were killed or captured to a man.

The fall of York gave a serious aspect to the case, and called for
William's presence. Soon after the capture of the city the Danes had gone
back to the Humber, to the upper end of the estuary apparently, and there
they succeeded in avoiding attack by crossing one river or another as the
army of the king approached. In the meantime, in various places along the
west of England, insurrections had broken out, encouraged probably by
exaggerated reports of the successes of the rebels in the north. Only one
of these, that in Staffordshire, required any attention from William, and
in this case we do not know why. In all the other cases, in Devon, in
Somerset, and at Shrewsbury, where the Welsh helped in the attack on the
Norman castle, the garrisons and men of the locality unassisted, or
assisted only by the forces of their neighbours, had defended themselves
with success. If the Danish invasion be regarded as a test of the
security of the Conquest in those parts of England which the Normans had
really occupied, then certainly it must be regarded as complete.

Prom the west William returned to the north with little delay, and
occupied York without opposition. Then followed the one act of the
Conquest which is condemned by friend and foe alike. When William had
first learned of the fate of his castles in York, he had burst out into
ungovernable rage, and the mood had not passed away. He was determined to
exact an awful vengeance for the repeated defiance of his power. War in
its mildest form in those days was little regulated by any consideration
for the conquered. From the point of view of a passionate soldier there
was some provocation in this case. Norman garrisons had been massacred;
detached parties had been cut off; repeated rebellion had followed every
pacification. Plainly a danger existed here, grave in itself and inviting
greater danger from abroad. Policy might dictate measures of unusual
severity, but policy did not call for what was done, and clearly in this
case the Conqueror gave way to a passion of rage which he usually held in
check, and inflicted on the stubborn province a punishment which the
standard of his own time did not justify.

Slowly he passed with his army through the country to the north of York,
drawing a broad band of desolation between that city and Durham.
Fugitives he sought out and put to the sword, but even so he was not
satisfied. Innocent and guilty were involved in indiscriminate slaughter.
Houses were destroyed, flocks and herds exterminated. Supplies of food
and farm implements were heaped together and burned. With deliberate
purpose, cruelly carried out, it was made impossible for men to live
through a thousand square miles. Years afterwards the country was still a
desert; it was generations before it had fully recovered. The Norman
writer, Orderic Vitalis, perhaps following the king's chaplain and
panegyrist William of Poitiers, while he confesses here that he gladly
praised the king when he could, had only condemnation for this deed. He
believed that William, responsible to no earthly tribunal, must one day
answer for it to an infinite Judge before whom high and low are alike

Christmas was near at hand when William had finished this business, and
he celebrated at York the nativity of the Prince of Peace, doubtless with
no suspicion of inconsistency. Soon after Christmas, by a short but
difficult expedition, William drove the Danes from a position on the
coast which they had believed impregnable, and forced them to take to
their ships, in which, after suffering greatly from lack of supplies,
they drifted southward as if abandoning the land. During this expedition
also, we are told, Gospatric, who had rebelled the year before, and
Waltheof who had "gone out" on the coming of the Danes, made renewed
submission and were again received into favour by the king. The hopes
which the coming of foreign assistance had awakened were at an end.

One thing remained to be done. The men of the Welsh border must be taught
the lesson which the men of the Scottish border had learned. The
insurrection which had called William into Staffordshire the previous
autumn seems still to have lingered in the region. The strong city of
Chester, from which, or from whose neighbourhood at least, men had joined
the attack on Shrewsbury, and which commanded the north-eastern parts of
Wales, was still unsubdued. Soon after his return from the coast William
determined upon a longer and still more difficult winter march, across
the width of England, from York to Chester. It is no wonder that his army
murmured and some at least asked to be dismissed. The country through
which they must pass was still largely wilderness. Hills and forests,
swollen streams and winter storms, must be encountered, and the strife
with them was a test of endurance without the joy of combat. One
expedition of the sort in a winter ought to be enough. But William
treated the objectors with contempt. He pushed on as he had planned,
leaving those to stay behind who would, and but few were ready for open
mutiny. The hazardous march was made with success. What remained of the
insurrection disappeared before the coming of the king; it has left to us
at least no traces of any resistance. Chester was occupied without
opposition. Fortified posts were established and garrisons left there and
at Stafford. Some things make us suspect that a large district on this
side of England was treated as northern Yorkshire had been, and homeless
fugitives in crowds driven forth to die of hunger. The patience which
pardoned the faithlessness of Edwin and Waltheof was not called for in
dealing with smaller men.

From Chester William turned south. At Salisbury he dismissed with rich
rewards the soldiers who had been faithful to him, and at Winchester he
celebrated the Easter feast. There he found three legates who had been
sent from the pope, and supported by their presence he at last took up
the affairs of the English Church. The king had shown the greatest
caution in dealing with this matter. It must have been understood, almost
if not quite from the beginning of the Norman plan of invasion, that if
the attempt were successful, one of its results should be the revolution
of the English Church, the reform of the abuses which existed in it,
as the continental churchman regarded them, and as indeed they were.
During the past century a great reform movement, emanating from the
monastery of Cluny, had transformed the Catholic world, but in this
England had but little part. Starting as a monastic reformation, it
had just succeeded in bringing the whole Church under monastic control.
Henceforth the asceticism of the monk, his ideals in religion and
worship, his type of thought and learning, were to be those of the
official Church, from the papal throne to the country parsonage. It
was for that age a true reformation. The combined influence of the two
great temptations to which the churchmen of this period of the Middle
Ages were exposed--ignorance so easy to yield to, so hard to overcome,
and property, carrying with it rank and power and opening the way to
ambition for oneself or one's posterity--was so great that a rule of
strict asceticism, enforced by a powerful organization with fearful
sanctions, and a controlling ideal of personal devotion, alone could
overcome it. The monastic reformation had furnished these conditions,
though severe conflicts were still to be fought out before they would
be made to prevail in every part of western Europe. Shortly before the
appointment of Stigand to the archbishopric of Canterbury, these new
ideas had obtained possession of the papal throne in the person of Leo
IX, and with them other ideas which had become closely and almost
necessarily associated with them, of strict centralization under the
pope, of a theocratic papal supremacy, in line certainly with the
history of the Church, but more self-consciously held and logically
worked out than ever before.

In this great movement England had had no permanent share. Cut off from
easy contact with the currents of continental thought, not merely by the
channel but by the lack of any common interests and natural incentives to
common life, it stood in an earlier stage of development in
ecclesiastical matters, as in legal and constitutional. In organization,
in learning, and in conduct, ecclesiastical England at the eve of the
Norman Conquest may be compared not unfairly to ecclesiastical Europe of
the tenth century. There was the same loosening of the bonds of a common
organization, the same tendency to separate into local units shut up to
interest in themselves alone. National councils had practically ceased to
meet. The legislative machinery of the Church threatened to disappear in
that of the State. An outside body, the witenagemot, seemed about to
acquire the right of imposing rules and regulations upon the Church, and
another outside power, the king, to acquire the right of appointing its
officers. Quite as important in the eyes of the Church as the lack of
legislative independence was the lack of judicial independence, which was
also a defect of the English Church. The law of the Church as it bore
upon the life of the citizen was declared and enforced in the hundred or
shire court, and bishop and ealdorman sat together in the latter. Only
over the ecclesiastical faults of his clergy did the bishop have
exclusive jurisdiction, and this was probably a jurisdiction less well
developed than on the continent. The power of the primate over his
suffragans and of the bishop within his diocese was ill defined and
vague, and questions of disputed authority or doubtful allegiance
lingered long without exact decision, perhaps from lack of interest,
perhaps from want of the means of decision.

In learning, the condition was even worse. The cloister schools had
undergone a marked decline since the great days of Theodore and Alcuin.
Not merely were the parish priests ignorant men, but even bishops and
abbots. The universal language of learning and faith was neglected, and
in England alone, of all countries, theological books were written in the
local tongue, a sure sign of isolation and of the lack of interest in the
common philosophical life of the world. In moral conduct, while the
English clergy could not be held guilty of serious breaches of the
general ethical code, they were far from coming up to the special
standard which the canon law imposed upon the clergy, and which the
monastic reformation was making the inflexible law of the time. Married
priests abounded; there were said to be even married bishops. Simony was
not infrequent. Every churchman of high rank was likely to be a
pluralist, holding bishoprics and abbacies together, like Stigand, who
held with the primacy the bishopric of Winchester and many abbeys. That
such a man as Stigand, holding every ecclesiastical office that he could
manage to keep, depriving monasteries of their landed endowments with no
more right than the baron after him, refused recognition by every legally
elected pope, and thought unworthy to crown a king, or even in most cases
to consecrate a bishop, should have held his place for so many years as
unquestioned primate in all but the most important functions, is evidence
enough that the English Church had not yet been brought under the
influence of the great religious reformation of the eleventh century.

This was the chief defect of the England of that time--a defect upon all
sides of its life, which the Conquest remedied. It was an isolated land.
It stood in danger of becoming a Scandinavian land, not in blood merely,
or in absorption in an actual Scandinavian empire, but in withdrawal from
the real world, and in that tardy, almost reluctant, civilization which
was possibly a necessity for Scandinavia proper, but which would have
been for England a falling back from higher levels. It was the mission of
the Norman Conquest--if we may speak of a mission for great historical
events--to deliver England from this danger, and to bring her into the
full current of the active and progressive life of Christendom.

It was more than three years after the coronation of William before the
time was come for a thorough overhauling of the Church. So far as we
know, William, up to that time, had given no sign of his intentions. The
early adhesion of Stigand had been welcomed. The Normans seem to have
believed that he enjoyed great consideration and influence among the
Saxons, and he had been left undisturbed. He had even been allowed to
consecrate the new Norman bishop of Dorchester, which looks like an act
of deliberate policy. It had not seemed wise to alarm the Church so long
as the military issue of the invasion could be considered in any sense
doubtful, and not until the changes could be made with the powerful
support of the head of the Church directly expressed. It is a natural
guess, though we have no means of knowing, that Lanfranc's mission to
Rome in 1067 had been to discuss this matter with the Roman authorities,
quite as much as to get the pallium for the new Archbishop of Rouen. Now
the time had come for action.

Three legates of the pope were at Winchester, and there a council was
summoned to meet them. Two of the legates were cardinals, then a
relatively less exalted rank in the Church than later, but making plain
the direct support of the pope. The other was Ermenfrid, Bishop of Sion,
or Sitten, in what is now the Swiss canton of the Vallais. He had already
been in England eight years earlier as a papal legate, and he would bring
to this council ideas derived from local observation, as well as tried
diplomatic skill. Before the council met, the papal sanction of the
Conquest was publicly proclaimed, when the cardinal legates placed the
crown on the king's head at the Easter festival. On the octave of Easter,
in 1070, the council met. Its first business was to deal with the case of
Stigand. Something like a trial seems to have been held, but its result
could never have been in doubt. He was deprived of the archbishopric,
and, with that, of his other preferments, on three grounds: he had held
Winchester along with the primacy; he had held the primacy while Robert
was still the rightful archbishop according to the laws of the Church;
and he had obtained his pallium and his only recognition from the
antipope Benedict X. His brother, the Bishop of Elmham, was also deposed,
and some abbots at the same time.

An English chronicler of a little later date, Florence of Worcester,
doubtless representing the opinion of those contemporaries who were
unfavourable to the Normans, believed that for many of these depositions
there were no canonical grounds, but that they were due to the king's
desire to have the help of the Church in holding and pacifying his new
kingdom. We may admit the motive and its probable influence on the acts
of the time, without overlooking the fact that there would be likely to
be an honest difference in the interpretation of canonical rights and
wrongs on the Norman and the English sides, and that the Normans were
more likely to be right according to the prevailing standard of the
Church. The same chronicler gives us interesting evidence of the
contemporary native feeling about this council, and the way the rights of
the English were likely to be treated by it, in recording the fact that
it was thought to be a bold thing for the English bishop Wulfstan, of
Worcester, to demand his rights in certain lands which Aldred had kept in
his possession when he was transferred from the see of Worcester to the
archbishopric of York. The case was postponed, until there should be an
archbishop of York to defend the rights of his Church, but the brave
bishop had nothing to lose by his boldness. The treatment of the Church
throughout his reign is evidence of William's desire to act according to
established law, though it is also evidence of his ruling belief that the
new law was superior to the old, if ever a conflict arose between them.

Shortly after, at Whitsuntide, another council met at Windsor, and
continued the work. The cardinals had returned to Rome, but Ermenfrid was
still present. Further vacancies were made in the English Church in the
same way as by the previous council--by the end of the year only two, or
at most three, English bishops remained in office--but the main business
at this time was to fill vacancies. A new Archbishop of York, Thomas,
Canon of Bayeux, was appointed, and three bishops, Winchester, Selsey,
and Elmham, all of these from the royal chapel. But the most important
appointment of the time was that of Lanfranc, Abbot of St. Stephen's at
Caen, to be Archbishop of Canterbury. With evident reluctance he accepted
this responsible office, in which his work was destined to be almost as
important in the history of England as William's own. Two papal legates
crossing from England, Ermenfrid and a new one named Hubert, a synod of
the Norman clergy, Queen Matilda, and her son Robert, all urged him to
accept, and he yielded to their solicitation.

Lanfranc was at this time sixty-five years of age. An Italian by birth,
he had made good use of the advantages which the schools of that land
offered to laymen, but on the death of his father, while still a young
man, he had abandoned the path of worldly promotion which lay open before
him in the profession of the law, in which he had followed his father,
and had gone to France to teach and finally to become a monk. By 1045 he
was prior of the abbey of Bec, and within a few years he was famous
throughout the whole Church as one of its ablest theologians. In the
controversy with Berengar of Tours, on the nature of the Eucharist, he
had argued with great skill in favour of transubstantiation. Still more
important was the fact that his abilities and ideas were known to
William, who had long relied upon his counsel in the government of the
duchy, and that entire harmony of action was possible between them. He
has been called William's "one friend," and while this perhaps unduly
limits the number of the king's friends, he was, in the greatest affairs
of his reign, his firm supporter and wise counsellor.

From the moment of his consecration, on August 29, 1070, the reformation
of the English Church went steadily on, until it was as completely
accomplished as was possible. The first question to be settled was perhaps
the most important of all, the question of unity of national organization.
The new Archbishop of York refused Lanfranc's demand that he should take
the oath of obedience to Canterbury, and asserted his independence and
coordinate position, and laid claim to three bordering bishoprics as
belonging to his metropolitan see,--Worcester, Lichfield, and Dorchester.
The dispute was referred to the king, who arranged a temporary compromise
in favour of Lanfranc, and then carried to the pope, by whom it was again
referred back to be decided by a council in England. This decision was
reached at a council in Windsor at Whitsuntide in 1072, and was in favour
of Lanfranc on all points, though it seems certain that the victory was
obtained by an extensive series of forgeries of which the archbishop
himself was probably the author.[4] It must be added, however, that the
moral judgment of that age did not regard as ours does such forgeries in
the interest of one's Church. If the decision was understood at the time
to mean that henceforth all archbishops of York should promise canonical
obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury, it did not permanently secure
that result. But the real point at issue in this dispute, at least for the
time being, was no mere matter of rank or precedence; it was as necessary
to the plans of Lanfranc and of the Church that his authority should be
recognized throughout the whole kingdom as it was to those of William. Nor
was the question without possible political significance. The political
independence of the north--still uncertain in its allegiance--would be far
easier to establish if it was, to begin with, ecclesiastically

Hardly less important than the settlement of this matter was the
establishment of the legislative independence of the Church. From the two
legatine councils of 1070, at Winchester and Windsor, a series begins of
great national synods, meeting at intervals to the end of the reign.
Complete divorce from the State was not at first possible. The council
was held at a meeting of the court, and was summoned by the king. He was
present at the sessions, as were also lay magnates of the realm, but the
questions proper to the council were discussed and decided by the
churchmen alone, and were promulgated by the Church as its own laws. This
was real legislative independence, even if the form of it was somewhat
defective, and before very long, as the result of this beginning, the
form came to correspond to the reality, and the process became as
independent as the conclusion.

William's famous ordinance separating the spiritual and temporal courts
decreed another extensive change necessary to complete the independence
of the Church in its legal interests. The date of this edict is not
certain, but it would seem from such evidence as we have to have been
issued not very long after the meeting of the councils of 1070. It
withdrew from the local popular courts, the courts of the hundred, all
future enforcement of the ecclesiastical laws, subjected all offenders
against these laws to trial in the bishop's court, and promised the
support of the temporal authorities to the processes and decisions of the
Church courts. This abolishing by edict of so important a prerogative of
the old local courts, and annulling of so large a part of the old law,
was the most violent and serious innovation made by the Conqueror in the
Saxon judicial system; but it was fully justified, not merely by the more
highly developed law which came into use as a result of the change, but
by the necessity of a stricter enforcement of that law than would ever be
possible through popular courts.

With these more striking changes went others, less revolutionary but
equally necessary to complete the new ecclesiastical system. The Saxon
bishops had many of them had their seats in unimportant places in their
dioceses, tending to degrade the dignity almost to the level of a rural
bishopric. The Norman prelates by degrees removed the sees to the chief
towns, changing the names with the change of place. Dorchester was
removed to Lincoln, Selsey to Chichester, Sherborne to Old Sarum, and
Elmham by two removes to Norwich. The new cities were the centres of life
and influence, and they were more suitable residences for barons of the
king, as the Norman bishops were. The inner organization of these
bishoprics was also improved. Cathedral chapters were reformed; in
Rochester and Durham secular canons were replaced by monastic clergy
under a more strict regime. New offices of law and administration were
introduced. The country priests were brought under strict control, and
earnest attempts were made to compel them to follow more closely the
disciplinary requirements of the Church.

The monastic system as it existed at the time of the Conquest underwent
the same reformation as the more secular side of the Church organization.
It was indeed regarded by the new ecclesiastical rulers as the source of
the Church's strength and the centre of its life. English abbots were
replaced by Norman, and the new abbots introduced a better discipline and
improvement in the ritual. The rule was more strictly enforced. Worship,
labour, and study became the constant occupations of the monks. Speedily

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