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William the Conqueror by E. A. Freeman

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sister whom he promised to give to a Norman is dead also. Harold
does not deny the fact of his oath--whatever its nature; he
justifies its breach because it was taken against is will, and
because it was in itself of no strength, as binding him to do
impossible things. He does not deny Edward's earlier promise to
William; but, as a testament is of no force while the testator
liveth, he argues that it is cancelled by Edward's later nomination
of himself. In truth there is hardly any difference between the
disputants as to matters of fact. One side admits at least a
plighting of homage on the part of Harold; the other side admits
Harold's nomination and election. The real difference is as to the
legal effect of either. Herein comes William's policy. The
question was one of English law and of nothing else, a matter for
the Witan of England and for no other judges. William, by
ingeniously mixing all kinds of irrelevant issues, contrived to
remove the dispute from the region of municipal into that of
international law, a law whose chief representative was the Bishop
of Rome. By winning the Pope to his side, William could give his
aggression the air of a religious war; but in so doing, he
unwittingly undermined the throne that he was seeking and the
thrones of all other princes.

The answers which Harold either made, or which writers of his time
thought that he ought to have made, are of the greatest moment in
our constitutional history. The King is the doer of everything;
but he can do nothing of moment without the consent of his Witan.
They can say Yea or Nay to every proposal of the King. An
energetic and popular king would get no answer but Yea to whatever
he chose to ask. A king who often got the answer of Nay, Nay, was
in great danger of losing his kingdom. The statesmanship of
William knew how to turn this constitutional system, without making
any change in the letter, into a despotism like that of
Constantinople or Cordova. But the letter lived, to come to light
again on occasion. The Revolution of 1399 was a falling back on
the doctrines of 1066, and the Revolution of 1688 was a falling
back on the doctrines of 1399. The principle at all three periods
is that the power of the King is strictly limited by law, but that,
within the limits which the law sets to his power, he acts
according to his own discretion. King and Witan stand out as
distinct powers, each of which needs the assent of the other to its
acts, and which may always refuse that assent. The political work
of the last two hundred years has been to hinder these direct
collisions between King and Parliament by the ingenious
conventional device of a body of men who shall be in name the
ministers of the Crown, but in truth the ministers of one House of
Parliament. We do not understand our own political history, still
less can we understand the position and the statesmanship of the
Conqueror, unless we fully take in what the English constitution in
the eleventh century really was, how very modern-sounding are some
of its doctrines, some of its forms. Statesmen of our own day
might do well to study the meagre records of the Gemot of 1047.
There is the earliest recorded instance of a debate on a question
of foreign policy. Earl Godwine proposes to give help to Denmark,
then at war with Norway. He is outvoted on the motion of Earl
Leofric, the man of moderate politics, who appears as leader of the
party of non-intervention. It may be that in some things we have
not always advanced in the space of eight hundred years.

The negotiations of William with his own subjects, with foreign
powers, and with the Pope, are hard to arrange in order. Several
negotiations were doubtless going on at the same time. The embassy
to Harold would of course come first of all. Till his demand had
been made and refused, William could make no appeal elsewhere. We
know not whether the embassy was sent before or after Harold's
journey to Northumberland, before or after his marriage with
Ealdgyth. If Harold was already married, the demand that he should
marry William's daughter could have been meant only in mockery.
Indeed, the whole embassy was so far meant in mockery that it was
sent without any expectation that its demands would be listened to.
It was sent to put Harold, from William's point of view, more
thoroughly in the wrong, and to strengthen William's case against
him. It would therefore be sent at the first moment; the only
statement, from a very poor authority certainly, makes the embassy
come on the tenth day after Edward's death. Next after the embassy
would come William's appeal to his own subjects, though Lanfranc
might well be pleading at Rome while William was pleading at
Lillebonne. The Duke first consulted a select company, who
promised their own services, but declined to pledge any one else.
It was held that no Norman was bound to follow the Duke in an
attempt to win for himself a crown beyond the sea. But voluntary
help was soon ready. A meeting of the whole baronage of Normandy
was held at Lillebonne. The assembly declined any obligation which
could be turned into a precedent, and passed no general vote at
all. But the barons were won over one by one, and each promised
help in men and ships according to his means.

William had thus, with some difficulty, gained the support of his
own subjects; but when he had once gained it, it was a zealous
support. And as the flame spread from one part of Europe to
another, the zeal of Normandy would wax keener and keener. The
dealings of William with foreign powers are told us in a confused,
piecemeal, and sometimes contradictory way. We hear that embassies
went to the young King Henry of Germany, son of the great Emperor,
the friend of England, and also to Swegen of Denmark. The Norman
story runs that both princes promised William their active support.
Yet Swegen, the near kinsman of Harold, was a friend of England,
and the same writer who puts this promise into his mouth makes him
send troops to help his English cousin. Young Henry or his
advisers could have no motive for helping William; but subjects of
the Empire were at least not hindered from joining his banner. To
the French king William perhaps offered the bait of holding the
crown of England of him; but Philip is said to have discouraged
William's enterprise as much as he could. Still he did not hinder
French subjects from taking a part in it. Of the princes who held
of the French crown, Eustace of Boulogne, who joined the muster in
person, and Guy of Ponthieu, William's own vassal, who sent his
son, seem to have been the only ones who did more than allow the
levying of volunteers in their dominions. A strange tale is told
that Conan of Britanny took this moment for bringing up his own
forgotten pretensions to the Norman duchy. If William was going to
win England, let him give up Normandy to him. He presently, the
tale goes, died of a strange form of poisoning, in which it is
implied that William had a hand. This is the story of Walter and
Biota over again. It is perhaps enough to say that the Breton
writers know nothing of the tale.

But the great negotiation of all was with the Papal court. We
might have thought that the envoy would be Lanfranc, so well
skilled in Roman ways; but William perhaps needed him as a constant
adviser by his own person. Gilbert, Archdeacon of Lisieux, was
sent to Pope Alexander. No application could better suit papal
interests than the one that was now made; but there were some moral
difficulties. Not a few of the cardinals, Hildebrand tells us
himself, argued, not without strong language towards Hildebrand,
that the Church had nothing to do with such matters, and that it
was sinful to encourage a claim which could not be enforced without
bloodshed. But with many, with Hildebrand among them, the notion
of the Church as a party or a power came before all thoughts of its
higher duties. One side was carefully heard; the other seems not
to have been heard at all. We hear of no summons to Harold, and
the King of the English could not have pleaded at the Pope's bar
without acknowledging that his case was at least doubtful. The
judgement of Alexander or of Hildebrand was given for William.
Harold was declared to be an usurper, perhaps declared
excommunicated. The right to the English crown was declared to be
in the Duke of the Normans, and William was solemnly blessed in the
enterprise in which he was at once to win his own rights, to
chastise the wrong-doer, to reform the spiritual state of the
misguided islanders, to teach them fuller obedience to the Roman
See and more regular payment of its temporal dues. William gained
his immediate point; but his successors on the English throne paid
the penalty. Hildebrand gained his point for ever, or for as long
a time as men might be willing to accept the Bishop of Rome as a
judge in any matters. The precedent by which Hildebrand, under
another name, took on him to dispose of a higher crown than that of
England was now fully established.

As an outward sign of papal favour, William received a consecrated
banner and a ring containing a hair of Saint Peter. Here was
something for men to fight for. The war was now a holy one. All
who were ready to promote their souls' health by slaughter and
plunder might flock to William's standard, to the standard of Saint
Peter. Men came from most French-speaking lands, the Normans of
Apulia and Sicily being of course not slow to take up the quarrel
of their kinsfolk. But, next to his own Normandy, the lands which
sent most help were Flanders, the land of Matilda, and Britanny,
where the name of the Saxon might still be hateful. We must never
forget that the host of William, the men who won England, the men
who settled in England, were not an exclusively Norman body. Not
Norman, but FRENCH, is the name most commonly opposed to ENGLISH,
as the name of the conquering people. Each Norman severally would
have scorned that name for himself personally; but it was the only
name that could mark the whole of which he and his countrymen
formed a part. Yet, if the Normans were but a part, they were the
greatest and the noblest part; their presence alone redeemed the
enterprise from being a simple enterprise of brigandage. The
Norman Conquest was after all a Norman Conquest; men of other lands
were merely helpers. So far as it was not Norman, it was Italian;
the subtle wit of Lombard Lanfranc and Tuscan Hildebrand did as
much to overthrow us as the lance and bow of Normandy.


The statesmanship of William had triumphed. The people of England
had chosen their king, and a large part of the world had been won
over by the arts of a foreign prince to believe that it was a
righteous and holy work to set him on the throne to which the
English people had chosen the foremost man among themselves. No
diplomatic success was ever more thorough. Unluckily we know
nothing of the state of feeling in England while William was
plotting and pleading beyond the sea. Nor do we know how much men
in England knew of what was going on in other lands, or what they
thought when they heard of it. We know only that, after Harold had
won over Northumberland, he came back and held the Easter Gemot at
Westminster. Then in the words of the Chronicler, "it was known to
him that William Bastard, King Edward's kinsman, would come hither
and win this land." This is all that our own writers tell us about
William Bastard, between his peaceful visit to England in 1052 and
his warlike visit in 1066. But we know that King Harold did all
that man could do to defeat his purposes, and that he was therein
loyally supported by the great mass of the English nation, we may
safely say by all, save his two brothers-in-law and so many as they
could influence.

William's doings we know more fully. The military events of this
wonderful year there is no need to tell in detail. But we see that
William's generalship was equal to his statesmanship, and that it
was met by equal generalship on the side of Harold. Moreover, the
luck of William is as clear as either his statesmanship or his
generalship. When Harold was crowned on the day of the Epiphany,
he must have felt sure that he would have to withstand an invasion
of England before the year was out. But it could not have come
into the mind of Harold, William, or Lanfranc, or any other man,
that he would have to withstand two invasions of England at the
same moment.

It was the invasion of Harold of Norway, at the same time as the
invasion of William, which decided the fate of England. The issue
of the struggle might have gone against England, had she had to
strive against one enemy only; as it was, it was the attack made by
two enemies at once which divided her strength, and enabled the
Normans to land without resistance. The two invasions came as
nearly as possible at the same moment. Harold Hardrada can hardly
have reached the Yorkshire coast before September; the battle of
Fulford was fought on September 20th and that of Stamfordbridge on
September 25th. William landed on September 28th, and the battle
of Senlac was fought on October 14th. Moreover William's fleet was
ready by August 12th; his delay in crossing was owing to his
waiting for a favourable wind. When William landed, the event of
the struggle in the North could not have been known in Sussex. He
might have had to strive, not with Harold of England, but with
Harold of Norway as his conqueror.

At what time of the year Harold Hardrada first planned his invasion
of England is quite uncertain. We can say nothing of his doings
till he is actually afloat. And with the three mighty forms of
William and the two Harolds on the scene, there is something at
once grotesque and perplexing in the way in which an English
traitor flits about among them. The banished Tostig, deprived of
his earldom in the autumn of 1065, had then taken refuge in
Flanders. He now plays a busy part, the details of which are lost
in contradictory accounts. But it is certain that in May 1066 he
made an ineffectual attack on England. And this attack was most
likely made with the connivance of William. It suited William to
use Tostig as an instrument, and to encourage so restless a spirit
in annoying the common enemy. It is also certain that Tostig was
with the Norwegian fleet in September, and that he died at
Stamfordbridge. We know also that he was in Scotland between May
and September. It is therefore hard to believe that Tostig had so
great a hand in stirring up Harold Hardrada to his expedition as
the Norwegian story makes out. Most likely Tostig simply joined
the expedition which Harold Hardrada independently planned. One
thing is certain, that, when Harold of England was attacked by two
enemies at once, it was not by two enemies acting in concert. The
interests of William and of Harold of Norway were as much opposed
to one another as either of them was to the interests of Harold of

One great difficulty beset Harold and William alike. Either in
Normandy or in England it was easy to get together an army ready to
fight a battle; it was not easy to keep a large body of men under
arms for any long time without fighting. It was still harder to
keep them at once without fighting and without plundering. What
William had done in this way in two invasions of Normandy, he was
now called on to do on a greater scale. His great and motley army
was kept during a great part of August and September, first at the
Dive, then at Saint Valery, waiting for the wind that was to take
it to England. And it was kept without doing any serious damage to
the lands where they were encamped. In a holy war, this time was
of course largely spent in appeals to the religious feelings of the
army. Then came the wonderful luck of William, which enabled him
to cross at the particular moment when he did cross. A little
earlier or later, he would have found his landing stoutly disputed;
as it was, he landed without resistance. Harold of England, not
being able, in his own words, to be everywhere at once, had done
what he could. He and his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine undertook
the defence of southern England against the Norman; the earls of
the North, his brothers-in-law Edwin and Morkere, were to defend
their own land against the Norwegians. His own preparations were
looked on with wonder. To guard the long line of coast against the
invader, he got together such a force both by sea and land as no
king had ever got together before, and he kept it together for a
longer time than William did, through four months of inaction, save
perhaps some small encounters by sea. At last, early in September,
provisions failed; men were no doubt clamouring to go back for the
harvest, and the great host had to be disbanded. Could William
have sailed as soon as his fleet was ready, he would have found
southern England thoroughly prepared to meet him. Meanwhile the
northern earls had clearly not kept so good watch as the king.
Harold Hardrada harried the Yorkshire coast; he sailed up the Ouse,
and landed without resistance. At last the earls met him in arms
and were defeated by the Northmen at Fulford near York. Four days
later York capitulated, and agreed to receive Harold Hardrada as
king. Meanwhile the news reached Harold of England; he got
together his housecarls and such other troops as could be mustered
at the moment, and by a march of almost incredible speed he was
able to save the city and all northern England. The fight of
Stamfordbridge, the defeat and death of the most famous warrior of
the North, was the last and greatest success of Harold of England.
But his northward march had left southern England utterly
unprotected. Had the south wind delayed a little longer, he might,
before the second enemy came, have been again on the South-Saxon
coast. As it was, three days after Stamfordbridge, while Harold of
England was still at York, William of Normandy landed without
opposition at Pevensey.

Thus wonderfully had an easy path into England been opened for
William. The Norwegian invasion had come at the best moment for
his purposes, and the result had been what he must have wished.
With one Harold he must fight, and to fight with Harold of England
was clearly best for his ends. His work would not have been done,
if another had stepped in to chastise the perjurer. Now that he
was in England, it became a trial of generalship between him and
Harold. William's policy was to provoke Harold to fight at once.
It was perhaps Harold's policy--so at least thought Gyrth--to
follow yet more thoroughly William's own example in the French
invasions. Let him watch and follow the enemy, let him avoid all
action, and even lay waste the land between London and the south
coast, and the strength of the invaders would gradually be worn
out. But it might have been hard to enforce such a policy on men
whose hearts were stirred by the invasion, and one part of whom,
the King's own thegns and housecarls, were eager to follow up their
victory over the Northern with a yet mightier victory over the
Norman. And Harold spoke as an English king should speak, when he
answered that he would never lay waste a single rood of English
ground, that he would never harm the lands or the goods of the men
who had chosen him to be their king. In the trial of skill between
the two commanders, each to some extent carried his point.
William's havoc of a large part of Sussex compelled Harold to march
at once to give battle. But Harold was able to give battle at a
place of his own choosing, thoroughly suited for the kind of
warfare which he had to wage.

Harold was blamed, as defeated generals are blamed, for being too
eager to fight and not waiting for more troops. But to any one who
studies the ground it is plain that Harold needed, not more troops,
but to some extent better troops, and that he would not have got
those better troops by waiting. From York Harold had marched to
London, as the meeting-place for southern and eastern England, as
well as for the few who actually followed him from the North and
those who joined him on the march. Edwin and Morkere were bidden
to follow with the full force of their earldoms. This they took
care not to do. Harold and his West-Saxons had saved them, but
they would not strike a blow back again. Both now and earlier in
the year they doubtless aimed at a division of the kingdom, such as
had been twice made within fifty years. Either Harold or William
might reign in Wessex and East-Anglia; Edwin should reign in
Northumberland and Mercia. William, the enemy of Harold but no
enemy of theirs, might be satisfied with the part of England which
was under the immediate rule of Harold and his brothers, and might
allow the house of Leofric to keep at least an under-kingship in
the North. That the brother earls held back from the King's muster
is undoubted, and this explanation fits in with their whole conduct
both before and after. Harold had thus at his command the picked
men of part of England only, and he had to supply the place of
those who were lacking with such forces as he could get. The lack
of discipline on the part of these inferior troops lost Harold the
battle. But matters would hardly have been mended by waiting for
men who had made up their minds not to come.

The messages exchanged between King and Duke immediately before the
battle, as well as at an earlier time, have been spoken of already.
The challenge to single combat at least comes now. When Harold
refused every demand, William called on Harold to spare the blood
of his followers, and decide his claims by battle in his own
person. Such a challenge was in the spirit of Norman
jurisprudence, which in doubtful cases looked for the judgement of
God, not, as the English did, by the ordeal, but by the personal
combat of the two parties. Yet this challenge too was surely given
in the hope that Harold would refuse it, and would thereby put
himself, in Norman eyes, yet more thoroughly in the wrong. For the
challenge was one which Harold could not but refuse. William
looked on himself as one who claimed his own from one who
wrongfully kept him out of it. He was plaintiff in a suit in which
Harold was defendant; that plaintiff and defendant were both
accompanied by armies was an accident for which the defendant, who
had refused all peaceful means of settlement, was to blame. But
Harold and his people could not look on the matter as a mere
question between two men. The crown was Harold's by the gift of
the nation, and he could not sever his own cause from the cause of
the nation. The crown was his; but it was not his to stake on the
issue of a single combat. If Harold were killed, the nation might
give the crown to whom they thought good; Harold's death could not
make William's claim one jot better. The cause was not personal,
but national. The Norman duke had, by a wanton invasion, wronged,
not the King only, but every man in England, and every man might
claim to help in driving him out. Again, in an ordinary wager of
battle, the judgement can be enforced; here, whether William slew
Harold or Harold slew William, there was no means of enforcing the
judgement except by the strength of the two armies. If Harold
fell, the English army were not likely to receive William as king;
if William fell, the Norman army was still less likely to go
quietly out of England. The challenge was meant as a mere blind;
it would raise the spirit of William's followers; it would be
something for his poets and chroniclers to record in his honour;
that was all.

The actual battle, fought on Senlac, on Saint Calixtus' day, was
more than a trial of skill and courage between two captains and two
armies. It was, like the old battles of Macedonian and Roman, a
trial between two modes of warfare. The English clave to the old
Teutonic tactics. They fought on foot in the close array of the
shield-wall. Those who rode to the field dismounted when the fight
began. They first hurled their javelins, and then took to the
weapons of close combat. Among these the Danish axe, brought in by
Cnut, had nearly displaced the older English broadsword. Such was
the array of the housecarls and of the thegns who had followed
Harold from York or joined him on his march. But the treason of
Edwin and Morkere had made it needful to supply the place of the
picked men of Northumberland with irregular levies, armed almost
anyhow. Of their weapons of various kinds the bow was the rarest.
The strength of the Normans lay in the arms in which the English
were lacking, in horsemen and archers. These last seem to have
been a force of William's training; we first hear of the Norman
bowmen at Varaville. These two ways of fighting were brought each
one to perfection by the leaders on each side. They had not yet
been tried against one another. At Stamfordbridge Harold had
defeated an enemy whose tactics were the same as his own. William
had not fought a pitched battle since Val-es-dunes in his youth.
Indeed pitched battles, such as English and Scandinavian warriors
were used to in the wars of Edmund and Cnut, were rare in
continental warfare. That warfare mainly consisted in the attack
and defence of strong places, and in skirmishes fought under their
walls. But William knew how to make use of troops of different
kinds and to adapt them to any emergency. Harold too was a man of
resources; he had gained his Welsh successes by adapting his men to
the enemy's way of fighting. To withstand the charge of the Norman
horsemen, Harold clave to the national tactics, but he chose for
the place of battle a spot where those tactics would have the
advantage. A battle on the low ground would have been favourable
to cavalry; Harold therefore occupied and fenced in a hill, the
hill of Senlac, the site in after days of the abbey and town of
Battle, and there awaited the Norman attack. The Norman horsemen
had thus to make their way up the hill under the shower of the
English javelins, and to meet the axes as soon as they reached the
barricade. And these tactics were thoroughly successful, till the
inferior troops were tempted to come down from the hill and chase
the Bretons whom they had driven back. This suggested to William
the device of the feigned flight; the English line of defence was
broken, and the advantage of ground was lost. Thus was the great
battle lost. And the war too was lost by the deaths of Harold and
his brothers, which left England without leaders, and by the
unyielding valour of Harold's immediate following. They were slain
to a man, and south-eastern England was left defenceless.

William, now truly the Conqueror in the vulgar sense, was still far
from having full possession of his conquest. He had military
possession of part of one shire only; he had to look for further
resistance, and he met with not a little. But his combined luck
and policy served him well. He could put on the form of full
possession before he had the reality; he could treat all further
resistance as rebellion against an established authority; he could
make resistance desultory and isolated. William had to subdue
England in detail; he had never again to fight what the English
Chroniclers call a folk-fight. His policy after his victory was
obvious. Still uncrowned, he was not, even in his own view, king,
but he alone had the right to become king. He had thus far been
driven to maintain his rights by force; he was not disposed to use
force any further, if peaceful possession was to be had. His
course was therefore to show himself stern to all who withstood
him, but to take all who submitted into his protection and favour.
He seems however to have looked for a speedier submission than
really happened. He waited a while in his camp for men to come in
and acknowledge him. As none came, he set forth to win by the
strong arm the land which he claimed of right.

Thus to look for an immediate submission was not unnatural; fully
believing in the justice of his own cause, William would believe in
it all the more after the issue of the battle. God, Harold had
said, should judge between himself and William, and God had judged
in William's favour. With all his clear-sightedness, he would
hardly understand how differently things looked in English eyes.
Some indeed, specially churchmen, specially foreign churchmen, now
began to doubt whether to fight against William was not to fight
against God. But to the nation at large William was simply as
Hubba, Swegen, and Cnut in past times. England had before now been
conquered, but never in a single fight. Alfred and Edmund had
fought battle after battle with the Dane, and men had no mind to
submit to the Norman because he had been once victorious. But
Alfred and Edmund, in alternate defeat and victory, lived to fight
again; their people had not to choose a new king; the King had
merely to gather a new army. But Harold was slain, and the first
question was how to fill his place. The Witan, so many as could be
got together, met to choose a king, whose first duty would be to
meet William the Conqueror in arms. The choice was not easy.
Harold's sons were young, and not born AEthelings. His brothers,
of whom Gyrth at least must have been fit to reign, had fallen with
him. Edwin and Morkere were not at the battle, but they were at
the election. But schemes for winning the crown for the house of
Leofric would find no favour in an assembly held in London. For
lack of any better candidate, the hereditary sentiment prevailed.
Young Edgar was chosen. But the bishops, it is said, did not
agree; they must have held that God had declared in favour of
William. Edwin and Morkere did agree; but they withdrew to their
earldoms, still perhaps cherishing hopes of a divided kingdom.
Edgar, as king-elect, did at least one act of kingship by
confirming the election of an abbot of Peterborough; but of any
general preparation for warfare there is not a sign. The local
resistance which William met with shows that, with any combined
action, the case was not hopeless. But with Edgar for king, with
the northern earls withdrawing their forces, with the bishops at
least lukewarm, nothing could be done. The Londoners were eager to
fight; so doubtless were others; but there was no leader. So far
from there being another Harold or Edmund to risk another battle,
there was not even a leader to carry out the policy of Fabius and

Meanwhile the Conqueror was advancing, by his own road and after
his own fashion. We must remember the effect of the mere slaughter
of the great battle. William's own army had suffered severely: he
did not leave Hastings till he had received reinforcements from
Normandy. But to England the battle meant the loss of the whole
force of the south-eastern shires. A large part of England was
left helpless. William followed much the same course as he had
followed in Maine. A legal claimant of the crown, it was his
interest as soon as possible to become a crowned king, and that in
his kinsman's church at Westminster. But it was not his interest
to march straight on London and demand the crown, sword in hand.
He saw that, without the support of the northern earls, Edgar could
not possibly stand, and that submission to himself was only a
question of time. He therefore chose a roundabout course through
those south-eastern shires which were wholly without means of
resisting him. He marched from Sussex into Kent, harrying the land
as he went, to frighten the people into submission. The men of
Romney had before the battle cut in pieces a party of Normans who
had fallen into their hands, most likely by sea. William took some
undescribed vengeance for their slaughter. Dover and its castle,
the castle which, in some accounts, Harold had sworn to surrender
to William, yielded without a blow. Here then he was gracious.
When some of his unruly followers set fire to the houses of the
town, William made good the losses of their owners. Canterbury
submitted; from thence, by a bold stroke, he sent messengers who
received the submission of Winchester. He marched on, ravaging as
he went, to the immediate neighbourhood of London, but keeping ever
on the right bank of the Thames. But a gallant sally of the
citizens was repulsed by the Normans, and the suburb of Southwark
was burned. William marched along the river to Wallingford. Here
he crossed, receiving for the first time the active support of an
Englishman of high rank, Wiggod of Wallingford, sheriff of
Oxfordshire. He became one of a small class of Englishmen who were
received to William's fullest favour, and kept at least as high a
position under him as they had held before. William still kept on,
marching and harrying, to the north of London, as he had before
done to the south. The city was to be isolated within a cordon of
wasted lands. His policy succeeded. As no succours came from the
North, the hearts of those who had chosen them a king failed at the
approach of his rival. At Berkhampstead Edgar himself, with
several bishops and chief men, came to make their submission. They
offered the crown to William, and, after some debate, he accepted
it. But before he came in person, he took means to secure the
city. The beginnings of the fortress were now laid which, in the
course of William's reign, grew into the mighty Tower of London.

It may seem strange that when his great object was at last within
his grasp, William should have made his acceptance of it a matter
of debate. He claims the crown as his right; the crown is offered
to him; and yet he doubts about taking it. Ought he, he asks, to
take the crown of a kingdom of which he has not as yet full
possession? At that time the territory of which William had even
military possession could not have stretched much to the north-west
of a line drawn from Winchester to Norwich. Outside that line men
were, as William is made to say, still in rebellion. His scruples
were come over by an orator who was neither Norman nor English, but
one of his foreign followers, Haimer Viscount of Thouars. The
debate was most likely got up at William's bidding, but it was not
got up without a motive. William, ever seeking outward legality,
seeking to do things peaceably when they could be done peaceably,
seeking for means to put every possible enemy in the wrong, wished
to make his acceptance of the English crown as formally regular as
might be. Strong as he held his claim to be by the gift of Edward,
it would be better to be, if not strictly chosen, at least
peacefully accepted, by the chief men of England. It might some
day serve his purpose to say that the crown had been offered to
him, and that he had accepted it only after a debate in which the
chief speaker was an impartial stranger. Having gained this point
more, William set out from Berkhampstead, already, in outward form,
King-elect of the English.

The rite which was to change him from king-elect into full king
took place in Eadward's church of Westminster on Christmas day,
1066, somewhat more than two months after the great battle,
somewhat less than twelve months after the death of Edward and the
coronation of Harold. Nothing that was needed for a lawful
crowning was lacking. The consent of the people, the oath of the
king, the anointing by the hands of a lawful metropolitan, all were
there. Ealdred acted as the actual celebrant, while Stigand took
the second place in the ceremony. But this outward harmony between
the nation and its new king was marred by an unhappy accident.
Norman horsemen stationed outside the church mistook the shout with
which the people accepted the new king for the shout of men who
were doing him damage. But instead of going to his help, they
began, in true Norman fashion, to set fire to the neighbouring
houses. The havoc and plunder that followed disturbed the
solemnities of the day and were a bad omen for the new reign. It
was no personal fault of William's; in putting himself in the hands
of subjects of such new and doubtful loyalty, he needed men near at
hand whom he could trust. But then it was his doing that England
had to receive a king who needed foreign soldiers to guard him.

William was now lawful King of the English, so far as outward
ceremonies could make him so. But he knew well how far he was from
having won real kingly authority over the whole kingdom. Hardly a
third part of the land was in his obedience. He had still, as he
doubtless knew, to win his realm with the edge of the sword. But
he could now go forth to further conquests, not as a foreign
invader, but as the king of the land, putting down rebellion among
his own subjects. If the men of Northumberland should refuse to
receive him, he could tell them that he was their lawful king,
anointed by their own archbishop. It was sound policy to act as
king of the whole land, to exercise a semblance of authority where
he had none in fact. And in truth he was king of the whole land,
so far as there was no other king. The unconquered parts of the
land were in no mood to submit; but they could not agree on any
common plan of resistance under any common leader. Some were still
for Edgar, some for Harold's sons, some for Swegen of Denmark.
Edwin and Morkere doubtless were for themselves. If one common
leader could have been found even now, the throne of the foreign
king would have been in no small danger. But no such leader came:
men stood still, or resisted piecemeal, so the land was conquered
piecemeal, and that under cover of being brought under the
obedience of its lawful king.

Now that the Norman duke has become an English king, his career as
an English statesman strictly begins, and a wonderful career it is.
Its main principle was to respect formal legality wherever he
could. All William's purposes were to be carried out, as far as
possible, under cover of strict adherence to the law of the land of
which he had become the lawful ruler. He had sworn at his crowning
to keep the laws of the land, and to rule his kingdom as well as
any king that had gone before him. And assuredly he meant to keep
his oath. But a foreign king, at the head of a foreign army, and
who had his foreign followers to reward, could keep that oath only
in its letter and not in its spirit. But it is wonderful how
nearly he came to keep it in the letter. He contrived to do his
most oppressive acts, to deprive Englishmen of their lands and
offices, and to part them out among strangers, under cover of
English law. He could do this. A smaller man would either have
failed to carry out his purposes at all, or he could have carried
them out only by reckless violence. When we examine the
administration of William more in detail, we shall see that its
effects in the long run were rather to preserve than to destroy our
ancient institutions. He knew the strength of legal fictions; by
legal fictions he conquered and he ruled. But every legal fiction
is outward homage to the principle of law, an outward protest
against unlawful violence. That England underwent a Norman
Conquest did in the end only make her the more truly England. But
that this could be was because that conquest was wrought by the
Bastard of Falaise and by none other.


The coronation of William had its effect in a moment. It made him
really king over part of England; it put him into a new position
with regard to the rest. As soon as there was a king, men flocked
to swear oaths to him and become his men. They came from shires
where he had no real authority. It was most likely now, rather
than at Berkhampstead, that Edwin and Morkere at last made up their
minds to acknowledge some king. They became William's men and
received again their lands and earldoms as his grant. Other chief
men from the North also submitted and received their lands and
honours again. But Edwin and Morkere were not allowed to go back
to their earldoms. William thought it safer to keep them near
himself, under the guise of honour--Edwin was even promised one of
his daughters in marriage--but really half as prisoners, half as
hostages. Of the two other earls, Waltheof son of Siward, who held
the shires of Northampton and Huntingdon, and Oswulf who held the
earldom of Bernicia or modern Northumberland, we hear nothing at
this moment. As for Waltheof, it is strange if he were not at
Senlac; it is strange if he were there and came away alive. But we
only know that he was in William's allegiance a few months later.
Oswulf must have held out in some marked way. It was William's
policy to act as king even where he had no means of carrying out
his kingly orders. He therefore in February 1067 granted the
Bernician earldom to an Englishman named Copsige, who had acted as
Tostig's lieutenant. This implies the formal deprivation of
Oswulf. But William sent no force with the new earl, who had to
take possession as he could. That is to say, of two parties in a
local quarrel, one hoped to strengthen itself by making use of
William's name. And William thought that it would strengthen his
position to let at least his name be heard in every corner of the
kingdom. The rest of the story stands rather aloof from the main
history. Copsige got possession of the earldom for a moment. He
was then killed by Oswulf and his partisans, and Oswulf himself was
killed in the course of the year by a common robber. At Christmas,
1067, William again granted or sold the earldom to another of the
local chiefs, Gospatric. But he made no attempt to exercise direct
authority in those parts till the beginning of the year 1069.

All this illustrates William's general course. Crowned king over
the land, he would first strengthen himself in that part of the
kingdom which he actually held. Of the passive disobedience of
other parts he would take no present notice. In northern and
central England William could exercise no authority; but those
lands were not in arms against him, nor did they acknowledge any
other king. Their earls, now his earls, were his favoured
courtiers. He could afford to be satisfied with this nominal
kingship, till a fit opportunity came to make it real. He could
afford to lend his name to the local enterprise of Copsige. It
would at least be another count against the men of Bernicia that
they had killed the earl whom King William gave them.

Meanwhile William was taking very practical possession in the
shires where late events had given him real authority. His policy
was to assert his rights in the strongest form, but to show his
mildness and good will by refraining from carrying them out to the
uttermost. By right of conquest William claimed nothing. He had
come to take his crown, and he had unluckily met with some
opposition in taking it. The crown lands of King Edward passed of
course to his successor. As for the lands of other men, in
William's theory all was forfeited to the crown. The lawful heir
had been driven to seek his kingdom in arms; no Englishman had
helped him; many Englishmen had fought against him. All then were
directly or indirectly traitors. The King might lawfully deal with
the lands of all as his own. But in the greater part of the
kingdom it was impossible, in no part was it prudent, to carry out
this doctrine in its fulness. A passage in Domesday, compared with
a passage in the English Chronicles, shows that, soon after
William's coronation, the English as a body, within the lands
already conquered, redeemed their lands. They bought them back at
a price, and held them as a fresh grant from King William. Some
special offenders, living and dead, were exempted from this favour.
The King took to himself the estates of the house of Godwine, save
those of Edith, the widow of his revered predecessor, whom it was
his policy to treat with all honour. The lands too of those who
had died on Senlac were granted back to their heirs only of special
favour, sometimes under the name of alms. Thus, from the beginning
of his reign, William began to make himself richer than any king
that had been before him in England or than any other Western king
of his day. He could both punish his enemies and reward his
friends. Much of what he took he kept; much he granted away,
mainly to his foreign followers, but sometimes also to Englishmen
who had in any way won his favour. Wiggod of Wallingford was one
of the very few Englishmen who kept and received estates which put
them alongside of the great Norman landowners. The doctrine that
all land was held of the King was now put into a practical shape.
All, Englishmen and strangers, not only became William's subjects,
but his men and his grantees. Thus he went on during his whole
reign. There was no sudden change from the old state of things to
the new. After the general redemption of lands, gradually carried
out as William's power advanced, no general blow was dealt at
Englishmen as such. They were not, like some conquered nations,
formally degraded or put under any legal incapacities in their own
land. William simply distinguished between his loyal and his
disloyal subjects, and used his opportunities for punishing the
disloyal and rewarding the loyal. Such punishments and rewards
naturally took the shape of confiscations and grants of land. If
punishment was commonly the lot of the Englishman, and reward was
the lot of the stranger, that was only because King William treated
all men as they deserved. Most Englishmen were disloyal; most
strangers were loyal. But disloyal strangers and loyal Englishmen
fared according to their deserts. The final result of this
process, begun now and steadily carried on, was that, by the end of
William's reign, the foreign king was surrounded by a body of
foreign landowners and office-bearers of foreign birth. When, in
the early days of his conquest, he gathered round him the great men
of his realm, it was still an English assembly with a sprinkling of
strangers. By the end of his reign it had changed, step by step,
into an assembly of strangers with a sprinkling of Englishmen.

This revolution, which practically transferred the greater part of
the soil of England to the hands of strangers, was great indeed.
But it must not be mistaken for a sudden blow, for an irregular
scramble, for a formal proscription of Englishmen as such.
William, according to his character and practice, was able to do
all this gradually, according to legal forms, and without drawing
any formal distinction between natives and strangers. All land was
held of the King of the English, according to the law of England.
It may seem strange how such a process of spoliation, veiled under
a legal fiction, could have been carried out without resistance.
It was easier because it was gradual and piecemeal. The whole
country was not touched at once, nor even the whole of any one
district. One man lost his land while his neighbour kept his, and
he who kept his land was not likely to join in the possible plots
of the other. And though the land had never seen so great a
confiscation, or one so largely for the behoof of foreigners, yet
there was nothing new in the thing itself. Danes had settled under
Cnut, and Normans and other Frenchmen under Edward. Confiscation
of land was the everyday punishment for various public and private
crimes. In any change, such as we should call a change of
ministry, as at the fall and the return of Godwine, outlawry and
forfeiture of lands was the usual doom of the weaker party, a
milder doom than the judicial massacres of later ages. Even a
conquest of England was nothing new, and William at this stage
contrasted favourably with Cnut, whose early days were marked by
the death of not a few. William, at any rate since his crowning,
had shed the blood of no man. Men perhaps thought that things
might have been much worse, and that they were not unlikely to
mend. Anyhow, weakened, cowed, isolated, the people of the
conquered shires submitted humbly to the Conqueror's will. It
needed a kind of oppression of which William himself was never
guilty to stir them into actual revolt.

The provocation was not long in coming. Within three months after
his coronation, William paid a visit to his native duchy. The
ruler of two states could not be always in either; he owed it to
his old subjects to show himself among them in his new character;
and his absence might pass as a sign of the trust he put in his new
subjects. But the means which he took to secure their obedience
brought out his one weak point. We cannot believe that he really
wished to goad the people into rebellion; yet the choice of his
lieutenants might seem almost like it. He was led astray by
partiality for his brother and for his dearest friend. To Bishop
Ode of Bayeux, and to William Fitz-Osbern, the son of his early
guardian, he gave earldoms, that of Kent to Odo, that of Hereford
to William. The Conqueror was determined before all things that
his kingdom should be united and obedient; England should not be
split up like Gaul and Germany; he would have no man in England
whose formal homage should carry with it as little of practical
obedience as his own homage to the King of the French. A Norman
earl of all Wessex or all Mercia might strive after such a
position. William therefore forsook the old practice of dividing
the whole kingdom into earldoms. In the peaceful central shires he
would himself rule through his sheriffs and other immediate
officers; he would appoint earls only in dangerous border districts
where they were needed as military commanders. All William's earls
were in fact marquesses, guardians of a march or frontier. Ode had
to keep Kent against attacks from the continent; William Fitz-
Osbern had to keep Herefordshire against the Welsh and the
independent English. This last shire had its own local warfare.
William's authority did not yet reach over all the shires beyond
London and Hereford; but Harold had allowed some of Edward's Norman
favourites to keep power there. Hereford then and part of its
shire formed an isolated part of William's dominions, while the
lands around remained unsubdued. William Fitz-Osbern had to guard
this dangerous land as earl. But during the King's absence both he
and Ode received larger commissions as viceroys over the whole
kingdom. Ode guarded the South and William the North and North-
East. Norwich, a town dangerous from its easy communication with
Denmark, was specially under his care. The nominal earls of the
rest of the land, Edwin, Morkere, and Waltheof, with Edgar, King of
a moment, Archbishop Stigand, and a number of other chief men,
William took with him to Normandy. Nominally his cherished friends
and guests, they went in truth, as one of the English Chroniclers
calls them, as hostages.

William's stay in Normandy lasted about six months. It was chiefly
devoted to rejoicings and religious ceremonies, but partly to
Norman legislation. Rich gifts from the spoils of England were
given to the churches of Normandy; gifts richer still were sent to
the Church of Rome whose favour had wrought so much for William.
In exchange for the banner of Saint Peter, Harold's standard of the
Fighting-man was sent as an offering to the head of all churches.
While William was in Normandy, Archbishop Maurilius of Rouen died.
The whole duchy named Lanfranc as his successor; but he declined
the post, and was himself sent to Rome to bring the pallium for the
new archbishop John, a kinsman of the ducal house. Lanfranc
doubtless refused the see of Rouen only because he was designed for
a yet greater post in England; the subtlest diplomatist in Europe
was not sent to Rome merely to ask for the pallium for Archbishop

Meanwhile William's choice of lieutenants bore its fruit in
England. They wrought such oppression as William himself never
wrought. The inferior leaders did as they thought good, and the
two earls restrained them not. The earls meanwhile were in one
point there faithfully carrying out the policy of their master in
the building of castles; a work, which specially when the work of
Ode and William Fitz-Osbern, is always spoken of by the native
writers with marked horror. The castles were the badges and the
instruments of the Conquest, the special means of holding the land
in bondage. Meanwhile tumults broke forth in various parts. The
slaughter of Copsige, William's earl in Northumberland, took place
about the time of the King's sailing for Normandy. In independent
Herefordshire the leading Englishman in those parts, Eadric, whom
the Normans called the Wild, allied himself with the Welsh, harried
the obedient lands, and threatened the castle of Hereford. Nothing
was done on either side beyond harrying and skirmishes; but
Eadric's corner of the land remained unsubdued. The men of Kent
made a strange foreign alliance with Eustace of Boulogne, the
brother-in-law of Edward, the man whose deeds had led to the great
movement of Edward's reign, to the banishment and the return of
Godwine. He had fought against England on Senlac, and was one of
four who had dealt the last blow to the wounded Harold. But the
oppression of Ode made the Kentishmen glad to seek any help against
him. Eustace, now William's enemy, came over, and gave help in an
unsuccessful attack on Dover castle. Meanwhile in the obedient
shires men were making ready for revolt; in the unsubdued lands
they were making ready for more active defence. Many went beyond
sea to ask for foreign help, specially in the kindred lands of
Denmark and Northern Germany. Against this threatening movement
William's strength lay in the incapacity of his enemies for
combined action. The whole land never rose at once, and Danish
help did not come at the times or in the shape when it could have
done most good.

The news of these movements brought William back to England in
December. He kept the Midwinter feast and assembly at Westminster;
there the absent Eustace was, by a characteristic stroke of policy,
arraigned as a traitor. He was a foreign prince against whom the
Duke of the Normans might have led a Norman army. But he had also
become an English landowner, and in that character he was
accountable to the King and Witan of England. He suffered the
traitor's punishment of confiscation of lands. Afterwards he
contrived to win back William's favour, and he left great English
possessions to his second wife and his son. Another stroke of
policy was to send an embassy to Denmark, to ward off the hostile
purposes of Swegen, and to choose as ambassador an English prelate
who had been in high favour with both Edward and Harold,
AEthelsige, Abbot of Ramsey. It came perhaps of his mission that
Swegen practically did nothing for two years. The envoy's own life
was a chequered one. He lost William's favour, and sought shelter
in Denmark. He again regained William's favour--perhaps by some
service at the Danish court--and died in possession of his abbey.

It is instructive to see how in this same assembly William bestowed
several great offices. The earldom of Northumberland was vacant by
the slaughter of two earls, the bishopric of Dorchester by the
peaceful death of its bishop. William had no real authority in any
part of Northumberland, or in more than a small part of the diocese
of Dorchester. But he dealt with both earldom and bishopric as in
his own power. It was now that he granted Northumberland to
Gospatric. The appointment to the bishopric was the beginning of a
new system. Englishmen were now to give way step by step to
strangers in the highest offices and greatest estates of the land.
He had already made two Norman earls, but they were to act as
military commanders. He now made an English earl, whose earldom
was likely to be either nominal or fatal. The appointment of
Remigius of Fecamp to the see of Dorchester was of more real
importance. It is the beginning of William's ecclesiastical reign,
the first step in William's scheme of making the Church his
instrument in keeping down the conquered. While William lived, no
Englishman was appointed to a bishopric. As bishoprics became
vacant by death, foreigners were nominated, and excuses were often
found for hastening a vacancy by deprivation. At the end of
William's reign one English bishop only was left. With abbots, as
having less temporal power than bishops, the rule was less strict.
Foreigners were preferred, but Englishmen were not wholly shut out.
And the general process of confiscation and regrant of lands was
vigorously carried out. The Kentish revolt and the general
movement must have led to many forfeitures and to further grants to
loyal men of either nation. As the English Chronicles pithily puts
it, "the King gave away every man's land."

William could soon grant lands in new parts of England. In
February 1068 he for the first time went forth to warfare with
those whom he called his subjects, but who had never submitted to
him. In the course of the year a large part of England was in arms
against him. But there was no concert; the West rose and the North
rose; but the West rose first, and the North did not rise till the
West had been subdued. Western England threw off the purely
passive state which had lasted through the year 1067. Hitherto
each side had left the other alone. But now the men of the West
made ready for a more direct opposition to the foreign government.
If they could not drive William out of what he had already won,
they would at least keep him from coming any further. Exeter, the
greatest city of the West, was the natural centre of resistance;
the smaller towns, at least of Devonshire and Dorset entered into a
league with the capital. They seem to have aimed, like Italian
cities in the like case, at the formation of a civic confederation,
which might perhaps find it expedient to acknowledge William as an
external lord, but which would maintain perfect internal
independence. Still, as Gytha, widow of Godwine, mother of Harold,
was within the walls of Exeter, the movement was doubtless also in
some sort on behalf of the House of Godwine. In any case, Exeter
and the lands and towns in its alliance with Exeter strengthened
themselves in every way against attack.

Things were not now as on the day of Senlac, when Englishmen on
their own soil withstood one who, however he might cloke his
enterprise, was to them simply a foreign invader. But William was
not yet, as he was in some later struggles, the de facto king of
the whole land, whom all had acknowledged, and opposition to whom
was in form rebellion. He now held an intermediate position. He
was still an invader; for Exeter had never submitted to him; but
the crowned King of the English, peacefully ruling over many
shires, was hardly a mere invader; resistance to him would have the
air of rebellion in the eyes of many besides William and his
flatterers. And they could not see, what we plainly see, what
William perhaps dimly saw, that it was in the long run better for
Exeter, or any other part of England, to share, even in conquest,
the fate of the whole land, rather than to keep on a precarious
independence to the aggravation of the common bondage. This we
feel throughout; William, with whatever motive, is fighting for the
unity of England. We therefore cannot seriously regret his
successes. But none the less honour is due to the men whom the
duty of the moment bade to withstand him. They could not see
things as we see them by the light of eight hundred years.

The movement evidently stirred several shires; but it is only of
Exeter that we hear any details. William never used force till he
had tried negotiation. He sent messengers demanding that the
citizens should take oaths to him and receive him within their
walls. The choice lay now between unconditional submission and
valiant resistance. But the chief men of the city chose a middle
course which could gain nothing. They answered as an Italian city
might have answered a Swabian Emperor. They would not receive the
King within their walls; they would take no oaths to him; but they
would pay him the tribute which they had paid to earlier kings.
That is, they would not have him as king, but only as overlord over
a commonwealth otherwise independent. William's answer was short;
"It is not my custom to take subjects on those conditions." He set
out on his march; his policy was to overcome the rebellious English
by the arms of the loyal English. He called out the fyrd, the
militia, of all or some of the shires under his obedience. They
answered his call; to disobey it would have needed greater courage
than to wield the axe on Senlac. This use of English troops became
William's custom in all his later wars, in England and on the
mainland; but of course he did not trust to English troops only.
The plan of the campaign was that which had won Le Mans and London.
The towns of Dorset were frightfully harried on the march to the
capital of the West. Disunion at once broke out; the leading men
in Exeter sent to offer unconditional submission and to give
hostages. But the commonalty disowned the agreement;
notwithstanding the blinding of one of the hostages before the
walls, they defended the city valiantly for eighteen days. It was
only when the walls began to crumble away beneath William's mining-
engines that the men of Exeter at last submitted to his mercy. And
William's mercy could be trusted. No man was harmed in life, limb,
or goods. But, to hinder further revolts, a castle was at once
begun, and the payments made by the city to the King were largely

Gytha, when the city yielded, withdrew to the Steep Holm, and
thence to Flanders. Her grandsons fled to Ireland; from thence, in
the course of the same year and the next, they twice landed in
Somerset and Devonshire. The Irish Danes who followed them could
not be kept back from plunder. Englishmen as well as Normans
withstood them, and the hopes of the House of Godwine came to an

On the conquest of Exeter followed the submission of the whole
West. All the land south of the Thames was now in William's
obedience. Gloucestershire seems to have submitted at the same
time; the submission of Worcestershire is without date. A vast
confiscation of lands followed, most likely by slow degrees. Its
most memorable feature is that nearly all Cornwall was granted to
William's brother Robert Count of Mortain. His vast estate grew
into the famous Cornish earldom and duchy of later times. Southern
England was now conquered, and, as the North had not stirred during
the stirring of the West, the whole land was outwardly at peace.
William now deemed it safe to bring his wife to share his new
greatness. The Duchess Matilda came over to England, and was
hallowed to Queen at Westminster by Archbishop Ealdred. We may
believe that no part of his success gave William truer pleasure.
But the presence of the Lady was important in another way. It was
doubtless by design that she gave birth on English soil to her
youngest son, afterwards the renowned King Henry the First. He
alone of William's children was in any sense an Englishman. Born
on English ground, son of a crowned King and his Lady, Englishmen
looked on him as a countryman. And his father saw the wisdom of
encouraging such a feeling. Henry, surnamed in after days the
Clerk, was brought up with special care; he was trained in many
branches of learning unusual among the princes of his age, among
them in a thorough knowledge of the tongue of his native land.

The campaign of Exeter is of all William's English campaigns the
richest in political teaching. We see how near the cities of
England came for a moment--as we shall presently see a chief city
of northern Gaul--to running the same course as the cities of Italy
and Provence. Signs of the same tendency may sometimes be
suspected elsewhere, but they are not so clearly revealed.
William's later campaigns are of the deepest importance in English
history; they are far richer in recorded personal actors than the
siege of Exeter; but they hardly throw so much light on the
character of William and his statesmanship. William is throughout
ever ready, but never hasty--always willing to wait when waiting
seems the best policy--always ready to accept a nominal success
when there is a chance of turning it into a real one, but never
accepting nominal success as a cover for defeat, never losing an
inch of ground without at once taking measures to recover it. By
this means, he has in the former part of 1068 extended his dominion
to the Land's End; before the end of the year he extends it to the
Tees. In the next year he has indeed to win it back again; but he
does win it back and more also. Early in 1070 he was at last, in
deed as well as in name, full King over all England.

The North was making ready for war while the war in the West went
on, but one part of England did nothing to help the other. In the
summer the movement in the North took shape. The nominal earls
Edwin, Morkere, and Gospatric, with the AEtheling Edgar and others,
left William's court to put themselves at the head of the movement.
Edwin was specially aggrieved, because the king had promised him
one of his daughters in marriage, but had delayed giving her to
him. The English formed alliances with the dependent princes of
Wales and Scotland, and stood ready to withstand any attack.
William set forth; as he had taken Exeter, he took Warwick, perhaps
Leicester. This was enough for Edwin and Morkere. They submitted,
and were again received to favour. More valiant spirits withdrew
northward, ready to defend Durham as the last shelter of
independence, while Edgar and Gospatric fled to the court of
Malcolm of Scotland. William went on, receiving the submission of
Nottingham and York; thence he turned southward, receiving on his
way the submission of Lincoln, Cambridge, and Huntingdon. Again he
deemed it his policy to establish his power in the lands which he
had already won rather than to jeopard matters by at once pressing
farther. In the conquered towns he built castles, and he placed
permanent garrisons in each district by granting estates to his
Norman and other followers. Different towns and districts suffered
in different degrees, according doubtless to the measure of
resistance met with in each. Lincoln and Lincolnshire were on the
whole favourably treated. An unusual number of Englishmen kept
lands and offices in city and shire. At Leicester and Northampton,
and in their shires, the wide confiscations and great destruction
of houses point to a stout resistance. And though Durham was still
untouched, and though William had assuredly no present purpose of
attacking Scotland, he found it expedient to receive with all
favour a nominal submission brought from the King of Scots by the
hands of the Bishop of Durham.

If William's policy ever seems less prudent than usual, it was at
the beginning of the next year, 1069. The extreme North still
stood out. William had twice commissioned English earls of
Northumberland to take possession if they could. He now risked the
dangerous step of sending a stranger. Robert of Comines was
appointed to the earldom forfeited by the flight of Gospatric.
While it was still winter, he went with his force to Durham. By
help of the Bishop, he was admitted into the city, but he and his
whole force were cut off by the people of Durham and its
neighbourhood. Robert's expedition in short led only to a revolt
of York, where Edgar was received and siege was laid to the castle.
William marched in person with all speed; he relieved the castle;
he recovered the city and strengthened it by a second castle on the
other side of the river. Still he thought it prudent to take no
present steps against Durham. Soon after this came the second
attempt of Harold's sons in the West.

Later in this year William's final warfare for the kingdom began.
In August, 1069 the long-promised help from Denmark came. Swegen
sent his brother Osbeorn and his sons Harold and Cnut, at the head
of the whole strength of Denmark and of other Northern lands. If
the two enterprises of Harold's sons had been planned in concert
with their Danish kinsmen, the invaders or deliverers from opposite
sides had failed to act together. Nor are Swegen's own objects
quite clear. He sought to deliver England from William and his
Normans, but it is not so plain in whose interest he acted. He
would naturally seek the English crown for himself or for one of
his sons; the sons of Harold he would rather make earls than kings.
But he could feel no interest in the kingship of Edgar. Yet, when
the Danish fleet entered the Humber, and the whole force of the
North came to meet it, the English host had the heir of Cerdic at
its head. It is now that Waltheof the son of Siward, Earl of
Northampton and Huntingdon, first stands out as a leading actor.
Gospatric too was there; but this time not Edwin and Morkere.
Danes and English joined and marched upon York; the city was
occupied; the castles were taken; the Norman commanders were made
prisoners, but not till they had set fire to the city and burned
the greater part of it, along with the metropolitan minster. It is
amazing to read that, after breaking down the castles, the English
host dispersed, and the Danish fleet withdrew into the Humber.

England was again ruined by lack of concert. The news of the
coming of the Danes led only to isolated movements which were put
down piecemeal. The men of Somerset and Dorset and the men of
Devonshire and Cornwall were put down separately, and the movement
in Somerset was largely put down by English troops. The citizens
of Exeter, as well as the Norman garrison of the castle, stood a
siege on behalf of William. A rising on the Welsh border under
Eadric led only to the burning of Shrewsbury; a rising in
Staffordshire was held by William to call for his own presence.
But he first marched into Lindesey, and drove the crews of the
Danish ships across into Holderness; there he left two Norman
leaders, one of them his brother Robert of Mortain and Cornwall; he
then went westward and subdued Staffordshire, and marched towards
York by way of Nottingham. A constrained delay by the Aire gave
him an opportunity for negotiation with the Danish leaders.
Osbeorn took bribes to forsake the English cause, and William
reached and entered York without resistance. He restored the
castles and kept his Christmas in the half-burned city. And now
William forsook his usual policy of clemency. The Northern shires
had been too hard to win. To weaken them, he decreed a merciless
harrying of the whole land, the direct effects of which were seen
for many years, and which left its mark on English history for
ages. Till the growth of modern industry reversed the relative
position of Northern and Southern England, the old Northumbrian
kingdom never fully recovered from the blow dealt by William, and
remained the most backward part of the land. Herein comes one of
the most remarkable results of William's coming. His greatest work
was to make England a kingdom which no man henceforth thought of
dividing. But the circumstances of his conquest of Northern
England ruled that for several centuries the unity of England
should take the form of a distinct preponderance of Southern
England over Northern. William's reign strengthened every tendency
that way, chiefly by the fearful blow now dealt to the physical
strength and well-being of the Northern shires. From one side
indeed the Norman Conquest was truly a Saxon conquest. The King of
London and Winchester became more fully than ever king over the
whole land.

The Conqueror had now only to gather in what was still left to
conquer. But, as military exploits, none are more memorable than
the winter marches which put William into full possession of
England. The lands beyond Tees still held out; in January 1070 he
set forth to subdue them. The Earls Waltheof and Gospatric made
their submission, Waltheof in person, Gospatric by proxy. William
restored both of them to their earldoms, and received Waltheof to
his highest favour, giving him his niece Judith in marriage. But
he systematically wasted the land, as he had wasted Yorkshire. He
then returned to York, and thence set forth to subdue the last city
and shire that held out. A fearful march led him to the one
remaining fragment of free England, the unconquered land of
Chester. We know not how Chester fell; but the land was not won
without fighting, and a frightful harrying was the punishment. In
all this we see a distinct stage of moral downfall in the character
of the Conqueror. Yet it is thoroughly characteristic. All is
calm, deliberate, politic. William will have no more revolts, and
he will at any cost make the land incapable of revolt. Yet, as
ever, there is no blood shed save in battle. If men died of
hunger, that was not William's doing; nay, charitable people like
Abbot AEthelwig of Evesham might do what they could to help the
sufferers. But the lawful king, kept so long out of his kingdom,
would, at whatever price, be king over the whole land. And the
great harrying of the northern shires was the price paid for
William's kingship over them.

At Chester the work was ended which had begun at Pevensey. Less
than three years and a half, with intervals of peace, had made the
Norman invader king over all England. He had won the kingdom; he
had now to keep it. He had for seventeen years to deal with
revolts on both sides of the sea, with revolts both of Englishmen
and of his own followers. But in England his power was never
shaken; in England he never knew defeat. His English enemies he
had subdued; the Danes were allowed to remain and in some sort to
help in his work by plundering during the winter. The King now
marched to the Salisbury of that day, the deeply fenced hill of Old
Sarum. The men who had conquered England were reviewed in the
great plain, and received their rewards. Some among them had by
failures of duty during the winter marches lost their right to
reward. Their punishment was to remain under arms forty days
longer than their comrades. William could trust himself to the
very mutineers whom he had picked out for punishment. He had now
to begin his real reign; and the champion of the Church had before
all things to reform the evil customs of the benighted islanders,
and to give them shepherds of their souls who might guide them in
the right way,


England was now fully conquered, and William could for a moment sit
down quietly to the rule of the kingdom that he had won. The time
that immediately followed is spoken of as a time of comparative
quiet, and of less oppression than the times either before or
after. Before and after, warfare, on one side of the sea or the
other, was the main business. Hitherto William has been winning
his kingdom in arms. Afterwards he was more constantly called away
to his foreign dominions, and his absence always led to greater
oppression in England. Just now he had a moment of repose, when he
could give his mind to the affairs of Church and State in England.
Peace indeed was not quite unbroken. Events were tending to that
famous revolt in the Fenland which is perhaps the best remembered
part of William's reign. But even this movement was merely local,
and did not seriously interfere with William's government. He was
now striving to settle the land in peace, and to make his rule as
little grievous to the conquered as might be. The harrying of
Northumberland showed that he now shrank from no harshness that
would serve his ends; but from mere purposeless oppression he was
still free. Nor was he ever inclined to needless change or to that
scorn of the conquered which meaner conquerors have often shown.
He clearly wished both to change and to oppress as little as he
could. This is a side of him which has been greatly misunderstood,
largely through the book that passes for the History of Ingulf
Abbot of Crowland. Ingulf was William's English secretary; a real
history of his writing would be most precious. But the book that
goes by his name is a forgery not older than the fourteenth
century, and is in all points contradicted by the genuine documents
of the time. Thus the forger makes William try to abolish the
English language and order the use of French in legal writings.
This is pure fiction. The truth is that, from the time of
William's coming, English goes out of use in legal writings, but
only gradually, and not in favour of French. Ever since the coming
of Augustine, English and Latin had been alternative tongues; after
the coming of William English becomes less usual, and in the course
of the twelfth century it goes out of use in favour of Latin.
There are no French documents till the thirteenth century, and in
that century English begins again. Instead of abolishing the
English tongue, William took care that his English-born son should
learn it, and he even began to learn it himself. A king of those
days held it for his duty to hear and redress his subjects'
complaints; he had to go through the land and see for himself that
those who acted in his name did right among his people. This
earlier kings had done; this William wished to do; but he found his
ignorance of English a hindrance. Cares of other kinds checked his
English studies, but he may have learned enough to understand the
meaning of his own English charters. Nor did William try, as he is
often imagined to have done, to root out the ancient institutions
of England, and to set up in their stead either the existing
institutions of Normandy or some new institutions of his own
devising. The truth is that with William began a gradual change in
the laws and customs of England, undoubtedly great, but far less
than is commonly thought. French names have often supplanted
English, and have made the amount of change seem greater than it
really was. Still much change did follow on the Norman Conquest,
and the Norman Conquest was so completely William's own act that
all that came of it was in some sort his act also. But these
changes were mainly the gradual results of the state of things
which followed William's coming; they were but very slightly the
results of any formal acts of his. With a foreign king and
foreigners in all high places, much practical change could not fail
to follow, even where the letter of the law was unchanged. Still
the practical change was less than if the letter of the law had
been changed as well. English law was administered by foreign
judges; the foreign grantees of William held English land according
to English law. The Norman had no special position as a Norman; in
every rank except perhaps the very highest and the very lowest, he
had Englishmen to his fellows. All this helped to give the Norman
Conquest of England its peculiar character, to give it an air of
having swept away everything English, while its real work was to
turn strangers into Englishmen. And that character was impressed
on William's work by William himself. The king claiming by legal
right, but driven to assert his right by the sword, was unlike both
the foreign king who comes in by peaceful succession and the
foreign king who comes in without even the pretext of law. The
Normans too, if born soldiers, were also born lawyers, and no man
was more deeply impressed with the legal spirit than William
himself. He loved neither to change the law nor to transgress the
law, and he had little need to do either. He knew how to make the
law his instrument, and, without either changing or transgressing
it, to use it to make himself all-powerful. He thoroughly enjoyed
that system of legal fictions and official euphemisms which marks
his reign. William himself became in some sort an Englishman, and
those to whom he granted English lands had in some sort to become
Englishmen in order to hold them. The Norman stepped into the
exact place of the Englishman whose land he held; he took his
rights and his burthens, and disputes about those rights and
burthens were judged according to English law by the witness of
Englishmen. Reigning over two races in one land, William would be
lord of both alike, able to use either against the other in case of
need. He would make the most of everything in the feelings and
customs of either that tended to strengthen his own hands. And, in
the state of things in which men then found themselves, whatever
strengthened William's hands strengthened law and order in his

There was therefore nothing to lead William to make any large
changes in the letter of the English law. The powers of a King of
the English, wielded as he knew how to wield them, made him as
great as he could wish to be. Once granting the original wrong of
his coming at all and bringing a host of strangers with him, there
is singularly little to blame in the acts of the Conqueror. Of
bloodshed, of wanton interference with law and usage, there is
wonderfully little. Englishmen and Normans were held to have
settled down in peace under the equal protection of King William.
The two races were drawing together; the process was beginning
which, a hundred years later, made it impossible, in any rank but
the highest and the lowest, to distinguish Norman from Englishman.
Among the smaller landowners and the townsfolk this intermingling
had already begun, while earls and bishops were not yet so
exclusively Norman, nor had the free churls of England as yet sunk
so low as at a later stage. Still some legislation was needed to
settle the relations of the two races. King William proclaimed the
"renewal of the law of King Edward." This phrase has often been
misunderstood; it is a common form when peace and good order are
restored after a period of disturbance. The last reign which is
looked back to as to a time of good government becomes the standard
of good government, and it is agreed between king and people,
between contending races or parties, that things shall be as they
were in the days of the model ruler. So we hear in Normandy of the
renewal of the law of Rolf, and in England of the renewal of the
law of Cnut. So at an earlier time Danes and Englishmen agreed in
the renewal of the law of Edgar. So now Normans and Englishmen
agreed in the renewal of the law of Edward. There was no code
either of Edward's or of William's making. William simply bound
himself to rule as Edward had ruled. But in restoring the law of
King Edward, he added, "with the additions which I have decreed for
the advantage of the people of the English."

These few words are indeed weighty. The little legislation of
William's reign takes throughout the shape of additions. Nothing
old is repealed; a few new enactments are set up by the side of the
old ones. And these words describe, not only William's actual
legislation, but the widest general effect of his coming. The
Norman Conquest did little towards any direct abolition of the
older English laws or institutions. But it set up some new
institutions alongside of old ones; and it brought in not a few
names, habits, and ways of looking at things, which gradually did
their work. In England no man has pulled down; many have added and
modified. Our law is still the law of King Edward with the
additions of King William. Some old institutions took new names;
some new institutions with new names sprang up by the side of old
ones. Sometimes the old has lasted, sometimes the new. We still
have a king and not a roy; but he gathers round him a parliament
and not a vitenagemot. We have a sheriff and not a viscount; but
his district is more commonly called a county than a shire. But
county and shire are French and English for the same thing, and
"parliament" is simply French for the "deep speech" which King
William had with his Witan. The National Assembly of England has
changed its name and its constitution more than once; but it has
never been changed by any sudden revolution, never till later times
by any formal enactment. There was no moment when one kind of
assembly supplanted another. And this has come because our
Conqueror was, both by his disposition and his circumstances, led
to act as a preserver and not as a destroyer.

The greatest recorded acts of William, administrative and
legislative, come in the last days of his reign. But there are
several enactments of William belonging to various periods of his
reign, and some of them to this first moment of peace. Here we
distinctly see William as an English statesman, as a statesman who
knew how to work a radical change under conservative forms. One
enactment, perhaps the earliest of all, provided for the safety of
the strangers who had come with him to subdue and to settle in the
land. The murder of a Norman by an Englishman, especially of a
Norman intruder by a dispossessed Englishman, was a thing that
doubtless often happened. William therefore provides for the
safety of those whom he calls "the men whom I brought with me or
who have come after me;" that is, the warriors of Senlac, Exeter,
and York. These men are put within his own peace; wrong done to
them is wrong done to the King, his crown and dignity. If the
murderer cannot be found, the lord and, failing him, the hundred,
must make payment to the King. Of this grew the presentment of
Englishry, one of the few formal badges of distinction between the
conquering and the conquered race. Its practical need could not
have lasted beyond a generation or two, but it went on as a form
ages after it had lost all meaning. An unknown corpse, unless it
could be proved that the dead man was English, was assumed to be
that of a man who had come with King William, and the fine was
levied. Some other enactments were needed when two nations lived
side by side in the same land. As in earlier times, Roman and
barbarian each kept his own law, so now for some purposes the
Frenchman--"Francigena"--and the Englishman kept their own law.
This is chiefly with regard to the modes of appealing to God's
judgement in doubtful cases. The English did this by ordeal, the
Normans by wager of battle. When a man of one nation appealed a
man of the other, the accused chose the mode of trial. If an
Englishman appealed a Frenchman and declined to prove his charge
either way, the Frenchman might clear himself by oath. But these
privileges were strictly confined to Frenchmen who had come with
William and after him. Frenchmen who had in Edward's time settled
in England as the land of their own choice, reckoned as Englishmen.
Other enactments, fresh enactments of older laws, touched both
races. The slave trade was rife in its worst form; men were sold
out of the land, chiefly to the Danes of Ireland. Earlier kings
had denounced the crime, and earlier bishops had preached against
it. William denounced it again under the penalty of forfeiture of
all lands and goods, and Saint Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester,
persuaded the chief offenders, Englishmen of Bristol, to give up
their darling sin for a season. Yet in the next reign Anselm and
his synod had once more to denounce the crime under spiritual
penalties, when they had no longer the strong arm of William to
enforce them.

Another law bears more than all the personal impress of William.
In it he at once, on one side, forestalls the most humane theories
of modern times, and on the other sins most directly against them.
His remarkable unwillingness to put any man to death, except among
the chances of the battle-field, was to some extent the feeling of
his age. With him the feeling takes the shape of a formal law. He
forbids the infliction of death for any crime whatever. But those
who may on this score be disposed to claim the Conqueror as a
sympathizer will be shocked at the next enactment. Those crimes
which kings less merciful than William would have punished with
death are to be punished with loss of eyes or other foul and cruel
mutilations. Punishments of this kind now seem more revolting than
death, though possibly, now as then, the sufferer himself might
think otherwise. But in those days to substitute mutilation for
death, in the case of crimes which were held to deserve death, was
universally deemed an act of mercy. Grave men shrank from sending
their fellow-creatures out of the world, perhaps without time for
repentance; but physical sympathy with physical suffering had
little place in their minds. In the next century a feeling against
bodily mutilation gradually comes in; but as yet the mildest and
most thoughtful men, Anselm himself, make no protest against it
when it is believed to be really deserved. There is no sign of any
general complaint on this score. The English Chronicler applauds
the strict police of which mutilation formed a part, and in one
case he deliberately holds it to be the fitting punishment of the
offence. In fact, when penal settlements were unknown and legal
prisons were few and loathsome, there was something to be said for
a punishment which disabled the criminal from repeating his
offence. In William's jurisprudence mutilation became the ordinary
sentence of the murderer, the robber, the ravisher, sometimes also
of English revolters against William's power. We must in short
balance his mercy against the mercy of Kirk and Jeffreys.

The ground on which the English Chronicler does raise his wail on
behalf of his countrymen is the special jurisprudence of the
forests and the extortions of money with which he charges the
Conqueror. In both these points the royal hand became far heavier
under the Norman rule. In both William's character grew darker as
he grew older. He is charged with unlawful exactions of money, in
his character alike of sovereign and of landlord. We read of his
sharp practice in dealing with the profits of the royal demesnes.
He would turn out the tenant to whom he had just let the land, if
another offered a higher rent. But with regard to taxation, we
must remember that William's exactions, however heavy at the time,
were a step in the direction of regular government. In those days
all taxation was disliked. Direct taking of the subject's money by
the King was deemed an extraordinary resource to be justified only
by some extraordinary emergency, to buy off the Danes or to hire
soldiers against them. Men long after still dreamed that the King
could "live of his own," that he could pay all expenses of his
court and government out of the rents and services due to him as a
landowner, without asking his people for anything in the character
of sovereign. Demands of money on behalf of the King now became
both heavier and more frequent. And another change which had long
been gradually working now came to a head. When, centuries later,
the King was bidden to "live of his own," men had forgotten that
the land of the King had once been the land of the nation. In all
Teutonic communities, great and small, just as in the city
communities of Greece and Italy, the community itself was a chief
landowner. The nation had its folkland, its ager publicus, the
property of no one man but of the whole state. Out of this, by the
common consent, portions might be cut off and booked--granted by a
written document--to particular men as their own bookland. The
King might have his private estate, to be dealt with at his own
pleasure, but of the folkland, the land of the nation, he was only
the chief administrator, bound to act by the advice of his Witan.
But in this case more than in others, the advice of the Witan could
not fail to become formal; the folkland, ever growing through
confiscations, ever lessening through grants, gradually came to be
looked on as the land of the King, to be dealt with as he thought
good. We must not look for any change formally enacted; but in
Edward's day the notion of folkland, as the possession of the
nation and not of the King, could have been only a survival, and in
William's day even the survival passed away. The land which was
practically the land of King Edward became, as a matter of course,
Terra Regis, the land of King William. That land was now enlarged
by greater confiscations and lessened by greater grants than ever.
For a moment, every lay estate had been part of the land of
William. And far more than had been the land of the nation
remained the land of the King, to be dealt with as he thought good.

In the tenure of land William seems to have made no formal change.
But the circumstances of his reign gave increased strength to
certain tendencies which had been long afloat. And out of them, in
the next reign, the malignant genius of Randolf Flambard devised a
systematic code of oppression. Yet even in his work there is
little of formal change. There are no laws of William Rufus. The
so called feudal incidents, the claims of marriage, wardship, and
the like, on the part of the lord, the ancient heriot developed
into the later relief, all these things were in the germ under
William, as they had been in the germ long before him. In the
hands of Randolf Flambard they stiffen into established custom;
their legal acknowledgement comes from the charter of Henry the
First which promises to reform their abuses. Thus the Conqueror
clearly claimed the right to interfere with the marriages of his
nobles, at any rate to forbid a marriage to which he objected on
grounds of policy. Under Randolf Flambard this became a regular
claim, which of course was made a means of extorting money. Under
Henry the claim is regulated and modified, but by being regulated
and modified, it is legally established.

The ordinary administration of the kingdom went on under William,
greatly modified by the circumstances of his reign, but hardly at
all changed in outward form. Like the kings that were before him,
he "wore his crown" at the three great feasts, at Easter at
Winchester, at Pentecost at Westminster, at Christmas at
Gloucester. Like the kings that were before him, he gathered
together the great men of the realm, and when need was, the small
men also. Nothing seems to have been changed in the constitution
or the powers of the assembly; but its spirit must have been
utterly changed. The innermost circle, earls, bishops, great
officers of state and household, gradually changed from a body of
Englishmen with a few strangers among them into a body of strangers
among whom two or three Englishmen still kept their places. The
result of their "deep speech" with William was not likely to be
other than an assent to William's will. The ordinary freeman did
not lose his abstract right to come and shout "Yea, yea," to any
addition that King William made to the law of King Edward. But
there would be nothing to tempt him to come, unless King William
thought fit to bid him. But once at least William did gather
together, if not every freeman, at least all freeholders of the
smallest account. On one point the Conqueror had fully made up his
mind; on one point he was to be a benefactor to his kingdom through
all succeeding ages. The realm of England was to be one and
indivisible. No ruler or subject in the kingdom of England should
again dream that that kingdom could be split asunder. When he
offered Harold the underkingship of the realm or of some part of
it, he did so doubtless only in the full conviction that the offer
would be refused. No such offer should be heard of again. There
should be no such division as had been between Cnut and Edmund,
between Harthacnut and the first Harold, such as Edwin and Morkere
had dreamed of in later times. Nor should the kingdom be split
asunder in that subtler way which William of all men best
understood, the way in which the Frankish kingdoms, East and West,
had split asunder. He would have no dukes or earls who might
become kings in all but name, each in his own duchy or earldom. No
man in his realm should be to him as he was to his overlord at
Paris. No man in his realm should plead duty towards an immediate
lord as an excuse for breach of duty towards the lord of that
immediate lord. Hence William's policy with regard to earldoms.
There was to be nothing like the great governments which had been
held by Godwine, Leofric, and Siward; an Earl of the West-Saxons or
the Northumbrians was too like a Duke of the Normans to be endured
by one who was Duke of the Normans himself. The earl, even of the
king's appointment, still represented the separate being of the
district over which he was set. He was the king's representative
rather than merely his officer; if he was a magistrate and not a
prince, he often sat in the seat of former princes, and might
easily grow into a prince. And at last, at the very end of his
reign, as the finishing of his work, he took the final step that
made England for ever one. In 1086 every land-owner in England
swore to be faithful to King William within and without England and
to defend him against his enemies. The subject's duty to the King
was to any duty which the vassal might owe to any inferior lord.
When the King was the embodiment of national unity and orderly
government, this was the greatest of all steps in the direction of
both. Never did William or any other man act more distinctly as an
English statesman, never did any one act tell more directly towards
the later making of England, than this memorable act of the
Conqueror. Here indeed is an addition which William made to the
law of Edward for the truest good of the English folk. And yet no
enactment has ever been more thoroughly misunderstood. Lawyer
after lawyer has set down in his book that, at the assembly of
Salisbury in 1086, William introduced "the feudal system." If the
words "feudal system" have any meaning, the object of the law now
made was to hinder any "feudal system" from coming into England.
William would be king of a kingdom, head of a commonwealth,
personal lord of every man in his realm, not merely, like a King of
the French, external lord of princes whose subjects owed him no
allegiance. This greatest monument of the Conqueror's
statesmanship was carried into effect in a special assembly of the
English nation gathered on the first day of August 1086 on the
great plain of Salisbury. Now, perhaps for the first time, we get
a distinct foreshadowing of Lords and Commons. The Witan, the
great men of the realm, and "the landsitting men," the whole body
of landowners, are now distinguished. The point is that William
required the personal presence of every man whose personal
allegiance he thought worth having. Every man in the mixed
assembly, mixed indeed in race and speech, the King's own men and
the men of other lords, took the oath and became the man of King
William. On that day England became for ever a kingdom one and
indivisible, which since that day no man has dreamed of parting

The great assembly of 1086 will come again among the events of
William's later reign; it comes here as the last act of that
general settlement which began in 1070. That settlement, besides
its secular side, has also an ecclesiastical side of a somewhat
different character. In both William's coming brought the island
kingdom into a closer connexion with the continent; and brought a
large displacement of Englishmen and a large promotion of
strangers. But on the ecclesiastical side, though the changes were
less violent, there was a more marked beginning of a new state of
things. The religious missionary was more inclined to innovate
than the military conqueror. Here William not only added but
changed; on one point he even proclaimed that the existing law of
England was bad. Certainly the religious state of England was
likely to displease churchmen from the mainland. The English
Church, so directly the child of the Roman, was, for that very
reason, less dependent on her parent. She was a free colony, not a
conquered province. The English Church too was most distinctly
national; no land came so near to that ideal state of things in
which the Church is the nation on its religious side. Papal
authority therefore was weaker in England than elsewhere, and a
less careful line was drawn between spiritual and temporal things
and jurisdictions. Two friendly powers could take liberties with
each other. The national assemblies dealt with ecclesiastical as
well as with temporal matters; one indeed among our ancient laws
blames any assembly that did otherwise. Bishop and earl sat
together in the local Gemot, to deal with many matters which,
according to continental ideas, should have been dealt with in
separate courts. And, by what in continental eyes seemed a strange
laxity of discipline, priests, bishops, members of capitular
bodies, were often married. The English diocesan arrangements were
unlike continental models. In Gaul, by a tradition of Roman date,
the bishop was bishop of the city. His diocese was marked by the
extent of the civil jurisdiction of the city. His home, his head
church, his bishopstool in the head church, were all in the city.
In Teutonic England the bishop was commonly bishop, not of a city
but of a tribe or district; his style was that of a tribe; his
home, his head church, his bishopstool, might be anywhere within
the territory of that tribe. Still, on the greatest point of all,
matters in England were thoroughly to William's liking; nowhere did
the King stand forth more distinctly as the Supreme Governor of the
Church. In England, as in Normandy, the right of the sovereign to
the investiture of ecclesiastical benefices was ancient and
undisputed. What Edward had freely done, William went on freely
doing, and Hildebrand himself never ventured on a word of
remonstrance against a power which he deemed so wrongful in the
hands of his own sovereign. William had but to stand on the rights
of his predecessors. When Gregory asked for homage for the crown
which he had in some sort given, William answered indeed as an
English king. What the kings before him had done for or paid to
the Roman see, that would he do and pay; but this no king before
him had ever done, nor would he be the first to do it. But while
William thus maintained the rights of his crown, he was willing and
eager to do all that seemed needful for ecclesiastical reform. And
the general result of his reform was to weaken the insular
independence of England, to make her Church more like the other
Churches of the West, and to increase the power of the Roman

William had now a fellow-worker in his taste. The subtle spirit
which had helped to win his kingdom was now at his side to help him
to rule it. Within a few months after the taking of Chester
Lanfranc sat on the throne of Augustine. As soon as the actual
Conquest was over, William began to give his mind to ecclesiastical
matters. It might look like sacrilege when he caused all the
monasteries of England to be harried. But no harm was done to the
monks or to their possessions. The holy houses were searched for
the hoards which the rich men of England, fearing the new king, had
laid up in the monastic treasuries. William looked on these hoards
as part of the forfeited goods of rebels, and carried them off
during the Lent of 1070. This done, he sat steadily down to the
reform of the English Church.

He had three papal legates to guide him, one of whom, Ermenfrid,
Bishop of Sitten, had come in on a like errand in the time of
Edward. It was a kind of solemn confirmation of the Conquest,
when, at the assembly held at Winchester in 1070, the King's crown
was placed on his head by Ermenfrid. The work of deposing English
prelates and appointing foreign successors now began. The primacy
of York was regularly vacant; Ealdred had died as the Danes sailed
up the Humber to assault or to deliver his city. The primacy of
Canterbury was to be made vacant by the deposition of Stigand. His
canonical position had always been doubtful; neither Harold nor
William had been crowned by him; yet William had treated him
hitherto with marked courtesy, and he had consecrated at least one
Norman bishop, Remigius of Dorchester. He was now deprived both of
the archbishopric and of the bishopric of Winchester which he held
with it, and was kept under restraint for the rest of his life.
According to foreign canonical rules the sentence may pass as just;
but it marked a stage in the conquest of England when a stout-
hearted Englishman was removed from the highest place in the
English Church to make way for the innermost counsellor of the
Conqueror. In the Pentecostal assembly, held at Windsor, Lanfranc
was appointed archbishop; his excuses were overcome by his old
master Herlwin of Bec; he came to England, and on August 15, 1070
he was consecrated to the primacy.

Other deprivations and appointments took place in these assemblies.
The see of York was given to Thomas, a canon of Bayeux, a man of
high character and memorable in the local history of his see. The
abbey of Peterborough was vacant by the death of Brand, who had
received the staff from the uncrowned Eadgar. It was only by rich
gifts that he had turned away the wrath of William from his house.
The Fenland was perhaps already stirring, and the Abbot of
Peterborough might have to act as a military commander. In this
case the prelate appointed, a Norman named Turold, was accordingly
more of a soldier than of a monk. From these assemblies of 1070
the series of William's ecclesiastical changes goes on. As the
English bishops die or are deprived, strangers take their place.
They are commonly Normans, but Walcher, who became Bishop of Durham
in 1071, was one of those natives of Lorraine who had been largely
favoured in Edward's day. At the time of William's death Wulfstan
was the only Englishman who kept a bishopric. Even his deprivation
had once been thought of. The story takes a legendary shape, but
it throws an important light on the relations of Church and State
in England. In an assembly held in the West Minster Wulfstan is
called on by William and Lanfranc to give up his staff. He
refuses; he will give it back to him who gave it, and places it on
the tomb of his dead master Edward. No of his enemies can move it.
The sentence is recalled, and the staff yields to his touch.
Edward was not yet a canonized saint; the appeal is simply from the
living and foreign king to the dead and native king. This legend,
growing up when Western Europe was torn in pieces by the struggle
about investitures, proves better than the most authentic documents
how the right which Popes denied to Emperors was taken for granted
in the case of an English king. But, while the spoils of England,
temporal and spiritual, were thus scattered abroad among men of the
conquering race, two men at least among them refused all share in
plunder which they deemed unrighteous. One gallant Norman knight,
Gulbert of Hugleville, followed William through all his campaigns,
but when English estates were offered as his reward, he refused to
share in unrighteous gains, and went back to the lands of his
fathers which he could hold with a good conscience. And one monk,
Wimund of Saint-Leutfried, not only refused bishoprics and abbeys,
but rebuked the Conqueror for wrong and robbery. And William bore
no grudge against his censor, but, when the archbishopric of Rouen
became vacant, he offered it to the man who had rebuked him. Among
the worthies of England Gulbert and Wimund can hardly claim a
place, but a place should surely be theirs among the men whom
England honours.

The primacy of Lanfranc is one of the most memorable in our
history. In the words of the parable put forth by Anselm in the
next reign, the plough of the English Church was for seventeen
years drawn by two oxen of equal strength. By ancient English
custom the Archbishop of Canterbury was the King's special
counsellor, the special representative of his Church and people.
Lanfranc cannot be charged with any direct oppression; yet in the
hands of a stranger who had his spiritual conquest to make, the
tribunitian office of former archbishops was lost in that of chief
minister of the sovereign. In the first action of their joint
rule, the interest of king and primate was the same. Lanfranc
sought for a more distinct acknowledgement of the superiority of
Canterbury over the rival metropolis of York. And this fell in
with William's schemes for the consolidation of the kingdom. The
political motive is avowed. Northumberland, which had been so hard
to subdue and which still lay open to Danish invaders or
deliverers, was still dangerous. An independent Archbishop of York
might consecrate a King of the Northumbrians, native or Danish, who
might grow into a King of the English. The Northern metropolitan
had unwillingly to admit the superiority, and something more, of
the Southern. The caution of William and his ecclesiastical
adviser reckoned it among possible chances that even Thomas of
Bayeux might crown an invading Cnut or Harold in opposition to his
native sovereign and benefactor.

For some of his own purposes, William had perhaps chosen his
minister too wisely. The objects of the two colleagues were not
always the same. Lanfranc, sprung from Imperialist Pavia, was no
zealot for extravagant papal claims. The caution with which he
bore himself during the schism which followed the strife between
Gregory and Henry brought on him more than one papal censure. Yet
the general tendency of his administration was towards the growth
of ecclesiastical, and even of papal, claims. William never
dreamed of giving up his ecclesiastical supremacy or of exempting
churchmen from the ordinary power of the law. But the division of
the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the increased frequency
of synods distinct from the general assemblies of the realm--even
though the acts of those synods needed the royal assent--were steps
towards that exemption of churchmen from the civil power which was
asserted in one memorable saying towards the end of William's own
reign. William could hold his own against Hildebrand himself; yet
the increased intercourse with Rome, the more frequent presence of
Roman Legates, all tended to increase the papal claims and the
deference yielded to them. William refused homage to Gregory; but
it is significant that Gregory asked for it. It was a step towards
the day when a King of England was glad to offer it. The increased
strictness as to the marriage of the clergy tended the same way.
Lanfranc did not at once enforce the full rigour of Hildebrand's
decrees. Marriage was forbidden for the future; the capitular
clergy had to part from their wives; but the vested interest of the
parish priest was respected. In another point William directly
helped to undermine his own authority and the independence of his
kingdom. He exempted his abbey of the Battle from the authority of
the diocesan bishop. With this began a crowd of such exemptions,
which, by weakening local authority, strengthened the power of the
Roman see. All these things helped on Hildebrand's great scheme
which made the clergy everywhere members of one distinct and
exclusive body, with the Roman Bishop at their head. Whatever
tended to part the clergy from other men tended to weaken the
throne of every king. While William reigned with Lanfranc at his
side, these things were not felt; but the seed was sown for the
controversy between Henry and Thomas and for the humiliation of

Even those changes of Lanfranc's primacy which seem of purely
ecclesiastical concern all helped, in some way to increase the
intercourse between England and the continent or to break down some
insular peculiarity. And whatever did this increased the power of
Rome. Even the decree of 1075 that bishoprics should be removed to
the chief cities of their dioceses helped to make England more like
Gaul or Italy. So did the fancy of William's bishops and abbots
for rebuilding their churches on a greater scale and in the last
devised continental style. All tended to make England less of
another world. On the other hand, one insular peculiarity well
served the purposes of the new primate. Monastic chapters in
episcopal churches were almost unknown out of England. Lanfranc,
himself a monk, favoured monks in this matter also. In several
churches the secular canons were displaced by monks. The corporate
spirit of the regulars, and their dependence on Rome, was far
stronger than that of the secular clergy. The secular chapters
could be refractory, but the disputes between them and their
bishops were mainly of local importance; they form no such part of
the general story of ecclesiastical and papal advance as the long
tale of the quarrel between the archbishops and the monks of Christ

Lanfranc survived William, and placed the crown on the head of his
successor. The friendship between king and archbishop remained
unbroken through their joint lives. Lanfranc's acts were William's
acts; what the Primate did must have been approved by the King.
How far William's acts were Lanfranc's acts it is less easy to say.
But the Archbishop was ever a trusted minister, and a trusted
counsellor, and in the King's frequent absences from England, he
often acted as his lieutenant. We do not find him actually taking
a part in warfare, but he duly reports military successes to his
sovereign. It was William's combined wisdom and good luck to
provide himself with a counsellor than whom for his immediate
purposes none could be better. A man either of a higher or a lower
moral level than Lanfranc, a saint like Anselm or one of the mere
worldly bishops of the time, would not have done his work so well.
William needed an ecclesiastical statesman, neither unscrupulous
nor over-scrupulous, and he found him in the lawyer of Pavia, the
doctor of Avranches, the monk of Bec, the abbot of Saint Stephen's.
If Lanfranc sometimes unwittingly outwitted both his master and
himself, if his policy served the purposes of Rome more than suited
the purposes of either, that is the common course of human affairs.
Great men are apt to forget that systems which they can work
themselves cannot be worked by smaller men. From this error
neither William nor Lanfranc was free. But, from their own point
of view, it was their only error. Their work was to subdue
England, soul and body; and they subdued it. That work could not
be done without great wrong: but no other two men of that day
could have done it with so little wrong. The shrinking from
needless and violent change which is so strongly characteristic of
William, and less strongly of Lanfranc also, made their work at the
time easier to be done; in the course of ages it made it easier to
be undone.


The years which saw the settlement of England, though not years of
constant fighting like the two years between the march to Exeter
and the fall of Chester, were not years of perfect peace. William
had to withstand foes on both sides of the sea, to withstand foes
in his own household, to undergo his first defeat, to receive his
first wound in personal conflict. Nothing shook his firm hold
either on duchy or kingdom; but in his later years his good luck
forsook him. And men did not fail to connect this change in his
future with a change in himself, above all with one deed of blood
which stands out as utterly unlike all his other recorded acts.

But the amount of warfare which William had to go through in these
later years was small compared with the great struggles of his
earlier days. There is no tale to tell like the war of Val-es-
dunes, like the French invasions of Normandy, like the campaigns
that won England. One event only of the earlier time is repeated
almost as exactly as an event can be repeated. William had won
Maine once; he had now to win it again, and less thoroughly. As
Conqueror his work is done; a single expedition into Wales is the
only campaign of this part of his life that led to any increase of

When William sat down to the settlement of his kingdom after the
fall of Chester, he was in the strictest sense full king over all
England. For the moment the whole land obeyed him; at no later
moment did any large part of the land fail to obey him. All
opposition was now revolt. Men were no longer keeping out an
invader; when they rose, they rose against a power which, however
wrongfully, was the established government of the land. Two such
movements took place. One was a real revolt of Englishmen against
foreign rule. The other was a rebellion of William's own earls in
their own interests, in which English feeling went with the King.
Both were short sharp struggles which stand out boldly in the tale.
More important in the general story, though less striking in
detail, are the relations of William to the other powers in and
near the isle of Britain. With the crown of the West-Saxon kings,
he had taken up their claims to supremacy over the whole island,
and probably beyond it. And even without such claims, border
warfare with his Welsh and Scottish neighbours could not be
avoided. Counting from the completion of the real conquest of
England in 1070, there were in William's reign three distinct
sources of disturbance. There were revolts within the kingdom of
England. There was border warfare in Britain. There were revolts
in William's continental dominions. And we may add actual foreign
warfare or threats of foreign warfare, affecting William, sometimes
in his Norman, sometimes in his English character.

With the affairs of Wales William had little personally to do. In
this he is unlike those who came immediately before and after him.
In the lives of Harold and of William Rufus personal warfare
against the Welsh forms an important part. William the Great
commonly left this kind of work to the earls of the frontier, to
Hugh of Chester, Roger of Shrewsbury, and to his early friend
William of Hereford, so long as that fierce warrior's life lasted.
These earls were ever at war with the Welsh princes, and they
extended the English kingdom at their cost. Once only did the King
take a personal share in the work, when he entered South Wales, in
1081. We hear vaguely of his subduing the land and founding
castles; we see more distinctly that he released many subjects who
were in British bondage, and that he went on a religious pilgrimage
to Saint David's. This last journey is in some accounts connected
with schemes for the conquest of Ireland. And in one most
remarkable passage of the English Chronicle, the writer for once
speculates as to what might have happened but did not. Had William
lived two years longer, he would have won Ireland by his wisdom
without weapons. And if William had won Ireland either by wisdom
or by weapons, he would assuredly have known better how to deal
with it than most of those who have come after him. If any man
could have joined together the lands which God has put asunder,
surely it was he. This mysterious saying must have a reference to
some definite act or plan of which we have no other record. And
some slight approach to the process of winning Ireland without
weapons does appear in the ecclesiastical intercourse between
England and Ireland which now begins. Both the native Irish
princes and the Danes of the east coast begin to treat Lanfranc as
their metropolitan, and to send bishops to him for consecration.
The name of the King of the English is never mentioned in the
letters which passed between the English primate and the kings and
bishops of Ireland. It may be that William was biding his time for
some act of special wisdom; but our speculations cannot go any
further than those of the Peterborough Chronicler.

Revolt within the kingdom and invasion from without both began in
the year in which the Conquest was brought to an end. William's
ecclesiastical reforms were interrupted by the revolt of the
Fenland. William's authority had never been fully acknowledged in
that corner of England, while he wore his crown and held his
councils elsewhere. But the place where disturbances began, the
abbey of Peterborough, was certainly in William's obedience. The
warfare made memorable by the name of Hereward began in June 1070,
and a Scottish harrying of Northern England, the second of five
which are laid to the charge of Malcolm, took place in the same
year, and most likely about the same time. The English movement is
connected alike with the course of the Danish fleet and with the
appointment of Turold to the abbey of Peterborough. William had
bribed the Danish commanders to forsake their English allies, and
he allowed them to ravage the coast. A later bribe took them back
to Denmark; but not till they had shown themselves in the waters of
Ely. The people, largely of Danish descent, flocked to them,
thinking, as the Chronicler says, that they would win the whole
land. The movement was doubtless in favour of the kingship of
Swegen. But nothing was done by Danes and English together save to
plunder Peterborough abbey. Hereward, said to have been the nephew
of Turold's English predecessor, doubtless looked on the holy
place, under a Norman abbot, as part of the enemy's country.

The name of Hereward has gathered round it such a mass of fiction,

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