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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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and succor one another whenever occasion offered; 15, that, having made
vow or promise to go on any quest or novel adventure, they would never
put off their arms, save for the night's rest; 16, that in pursuit of
their quest or adventure they would not shun bad and perilous passes, nor
turn aside from the straight road for fear of encountering powerful
knights or monsters or wild beasts or other hinderance such as the body
and courage of a single man might tackle; 17, that they would never take
wage or pay from any foreign prince; 18, that in command of troops of
men-at-arms, they would live in the utmost possible order and discipline,
and especially in their own country, where they would never suffer any
harm or violence to be done; 19, that if they were bound to escort dame
or damsel, they would serve her, protect her, and save her from all
danger and insult, or die in the attempt; 20, that they would never offer
violence to dame or damsel, though they had won her by deeds of arms,
against her will and consent; 21, that, being challenged to equal combat,
they would not refuse, without wound, sickness, or other reasonable
hinderance; 22, that, having undertaken to carry out any enterprise, they
would devote to it night and day, unless they were called away for the
service of their king and country; 23, that if they made a vow to acquire
any honor, they would not draw back without having attained either it or
its equivalent; 24, that they would be faithful keepers of their word and
pledged faith, and that, having become prisoners in fair warfare, they
would pay to the uttermost the promised ransom, or return to prison, at
the day and hour agreed upon, on pain of being proclaimed infamous and
perjured; 25, that on re-turning to the court of their sovereign, they
would render a true account of their adventures, even though they had
sometimes been worsted, to the king and the registrar of the order, on
pain of being deprived of the order of knighthood; 26, that above all
things they would be faithful, courteous, and humble, and would never be
wanting to their word for any harm or loss that might accrue to them."

It is needless to point out that in this series of oaths, these
obligations imposed upon the knights, there is a moral development very
superior to that of the laic society of the period. Moral notions so
lofty, so delicate, so scrupulous, and so humane, emanated clearly from
the Christian clergy. Only the clergy thought thus about the duties and
the relations of mankind; and their influence was employed in directing
towards the accomplishment of such duties, towards the integrity of such
relations, the ideas and customs engendered by knighthood. It had not
been instituted with so pious and deep a design, for the protection of
the weak, the maintenance of justice, and the reformation of morals; it
had been, at its origin and in its earliest features, a natural
consequence of feudal relations and warlike life, a confirmation of the
bonds established and the sentiments aroused between different masters in
the same country and comrades with the same destinies. The clergy
promptly saw what might be deduced from such a fact; and they made of it
a means of establishing more peacefulness in society, and in the conduct
of individuals a more rigid morality. This was the general work they
pursued; and, if it were convenient to study the matter more closely, we
might see, in the canons of councils from the eleventh to the fourteenth
centuries, the Church exerting herself to develop more and more in this
order of knight-hood, this institution of an essentially warlike origin,
the moral and civilizing character of which a glimpse has just been
caught in the documents of knighthood itself.

In proportion as knighthood appeared more and more in this simultaneously
warlike, religious, and moral character, it more and more gained power
over the imagination of men, and just as it had become closely interwoven
with their creeds, it soon became the ideal of their thoughts, the source
of their noblest pleasures. Poetry, like religion, took hold of it.
From the eleventh century onwards, knighthood, its ceremonies, its
duties, and its adventures, were the mine from which the poets drew in
order to charm the people, in order to satisfy and excite at the same
time that yearning of the soul, that need of events more varied and more
captivating, and of emotions more exalted and more pure than real life
could furnish. In the springtide of communities poetry is not merely a
pleasure and a pastime for a nation; it is a source of progress; it
elevates and develops the moral nature of men at the same time that it
amuses them and stirs them deeply. We have just seen what oaths were
taken by the knights and administered by the priests; and now, here is an
ancient ballad by Eustache Deschamps, a poet of the fourteenth century,
from which it will be seen that poets impressed upon knights the same
duties and the same virtues, and that the influence of poetry had the
same aim as that of religion:


Amend your lives, ye who would fain
The order of the knights attain;
Devoutly watch, devoutly pray;
From pride and sin, O, turn away!
Shun all that's base; the Church defend;
Be the widow's and the orphan's friend;
Be good and Leal; take nought by might;
Be bold and guard the people's right;--
This is the rule for the gallant knight.


Be meek of heart; work day by day;
Tread, ever tread, the knightly way;
Make lawful war; long travel dare;
Tourney and joust for lady fair;
To everlasting honor cling,
That none the barbs of blame may fling;
Be never slack in work or fight;
Be ever least in self's own sight;--
This is the rule for the gallant knight.


Love the liege lord; with might and main
His rights above all else maintain;
Be open-handed, just, and true;
The paths of upright men pursue;
No deaf ear to their precepts turn;
The prowess of the valiant learn;
That ye may do things great and bright,
As did great Alexander hight;--
This is the rule for the gallant knight.

A great deal has been said to the effect that all this is sheer poetry, a
beautiful chimera without any resemblance to reality. Indeed, it has
just been remarked here, that the three centuries under consideration,
the middle ages, were, in point of fact, one of the most brutal, most
ruffianly epochs in history, one of those wherein we encounter most
crimes and violence; wherein the public peace was most incessantly
troubled; and wherein the greatest licentiousness in morals prevailed.
Nevertheless it cannot be denied that side by side with these gross and
barbarous morals, this social disorder, there existed knightly morality
and knightly poetry. We have moral records confronting ruffianly deeds;
and the contrast is shocking, but real. It is exactly this contrast
which makes the great and fundamental characteristic of the middle ages.
Let us turn our eyes towards other communities, towards the earliest
stages, for instance, of Greek society, towards that heroic age of which
Homer's poems are the faithful reflection. There is nothing there like
the contrasts by which we are struck in the middle ages. We do not see
that, at the period and amongst the people of the Homeric poems, there
was abroad in the air or had penetrated into the imaginations of men any
idea more lofty or more pure than their every-day actions; the heroes of
Homer seem to have no misgiving about their brutishness, their ferocity,
their greed, their egotism, there is nothing in their souls superior to
the deeds of their lives. In the France of the middle ages, on the
contrary, though practically crimes and disorders, moral and social evils
abound, yet men have in their souls and their imaginations loftier and
purer instincts and desires; their notions of virtue and their ideas of
justice are very superior to the practice pursued around them and amongst
themselves; a certain moral ideal hovers above this low and tumultuous
community, and attracts the notice and obtains the regard of men in whose
life it is but very faintly reflected. The Christian religion,
undoubtedly, is, if not the only, at any rate the principal cause of this
great fact; for its particular characteristic is to arouse amongst men a
lofty moral ambition by keeping constantly before their eyes a type
infinitely beyond the reach of human nature, and yet profoundly
sympathetic with it. To Christianity it was that the middle ages owed
knighthood, that institution which, in the midst of anarchy and
barbarism, gave a poetical and moral beauty to the period. It was
feudal knighthood and Christianity together which produced the two great
and glorious events of those times, the Norman conquest of England and
the Crusades.


At the beginning of the eleventh century, Robert, called "The
Magnificent," the fifth in succession from the great chieftain Rollo who
had established the Northmen in France, was duke of Normandy. To the
nickname he earned by his nobleness and liberality some chronicles have
added another, and call him "Robert the Devil," by reason of his reckless
and violent deeds of audacity, whether in private life or in warlike
expeditions. Hence a lively controversy amongst the learned upon the
question of deciding to which Robert to apply the latter epithet. Some
persist in assigning it to the duke of Normandy; others seek for some
other Robert upon whom to foist it. However that may be, in 1034 or
1035, after having led a fair life enough from the political point of
view, but one full of turbulence and moral irregularity, Duke Robert
resolved to undertake, barefooted and staff in hand, a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, "to expiate his sins if God would deign to consent thereto."
The Norman prelates and barons, having been summoned around him, conjured
him to renounce his plan; for to what troubles and perils would not his
dominions be exposed without lord or assured successor? "By my faith,"
said Robert, "I will not leave ye lordless. I have a young bastard who
will grow, please God, and of whose good qualities I have great hope.
Take him, I pray you, for lord. That he was not born in wedlock matters
little to you; he will be none the less able in battle, or at court, or
in the palace, or to render you justice. I make him my heir, and I hold
him seized, from this present, of the whole duchy of Normandy." And they
who were present assented, but not without objection and disquietude.

There was certainly ample reason for objection and disquietude. Not only
was it a child of eight years of age to whom Duke Robert, at setting out
on his pious pilgrimage, was leaving Normandy; but this child had been
pronounced bastard by the duke his father at the moment of taking him for
his heir. Nine or ten years before, at Falaise, his favorite residence,
Robert had met, according to some at a people's dance, according to
others on the banks of a stream where she was washing linen with her
companions, a young girl named Harlette or Harleve, daughter of a tanner
in the town, where they show to this day, it is said, the window from
which the duke saw her for the first time. She pleased his fancy, and
was not more strait-laced than the duke was scrupulous; and Fulbert, the
tanner, kept but little watch over his daughter. Robert gave the son
born to him in 1027 the name of his glorious ancestor, William Longsword,
the son and successor of Rollo. The child was reared, according to some,
in his father's palace, "right honorably as if he had been born in
wedlock," but, according to others, in the house of his grandfather, the
tanner; and one of the neighboring burgesses, as he saw passing one of
the principal Norman lords, William de Bellesme, surnamed "The Fierce
Talvas," stopped him, ironically saying, "Come in, my lord, and admire
your suzerain's son." The origin of young William was in every mouth,
and gave occasion for familiar allusions more often insulting than
flattering. The epithet bastard was, so to speak, incorporated with his
name; and we cannot be astonished that it lived in history, for, in the
height of his power, he sometimes accepted it proudly, calling himself,
in several of his charters, William the Bastard (Gulielmus Notlzus). He
showed himself to be none the less susceptible on this point when in
1048, during the siege of Alencon, the domain of the Lord de Bellesme,
the inhabitants hung from their walls hides all raw and covered with
dirt, which they shook when they caught sight of William, with cries of
"Plenty of work for the tanner!" "By the glory of God," cried William,
"they shall pay me dear for this insolent bra-very!" After an assault
several of the besieged were taken prisoners; and he had their eyes
pulled out, and their feet and hands cut off, and shot from his
siege-machines these mutilated members over the walls of the city.

Notwithstanding his recklessness and his being engrossed in his
pilgrimage, Duke Robert had taken some care for the situation in which he
was leaving his son, and some measures to lessen its perils. He had
appointed regent of Normandy, during William's minority, his cousin,
Alain V., duke of Brittany, whose sagacity and friendship he had proved;
and he had confided the personal guardianship of the child, not to his
mother. Harlette, who was left very much out in the cold, but to one of
his most trusty officers, Gilbert Crespon, count of Brionne; and the
strong castle of Vaudreuil, the first foundation of which dated back, it
was said, to Queen Fredegonde, was assigned for the usual residence of
the young duke. Lastly, to confirm with brilliancy his son's right as
his successor to the duchy of Normandy, and to assure him a powerful
ally, Robert took him, himself, to the court of his suzerain, Henry I.,
king of France, who recognized the title of William the Bastard, and
allowed him to take the oath of allegiance and homage. Having thus
prepared, as best he could, for his son's future, Robert set out on his
pilgrimage. He visited Rome and Constantinople, everywhere displaying
his magnificence, together with his humility. He fell ill from sheer
fatigue whilst crossing Asia Minor, and was obliged to be carried in a
litter by four negroes. "Go and tell them at home," said he to a Norman
pilgrim he met returning from the Holy Land, "that you saw me being
carried to Paradise by four devils." On arriving at Jerusalem, where he
was received with great attention by the Mussulman emir in command there,
he discharged himself of his pious vow, and took the road back to Europe.
But he was poisoned, by whom or for what motive is not clearly known, at
Nicaea, in Bithynia, where he was buried in the basilica of St. Mary--an
honor, says the chronicle, which had never been accorded to anybody.

From 1025 to 1042, during William's minority, Normandy was a prey to the
robber-like ambition, the local quarrels, and the turbulent and brutal
passions of a host of petty castle-holders, nearly always at war, either
amongst themselves or with the young chieftain whose power they did not
fear, and whose rights they disputed. In vain did Duke Alain of
Brittany, in his capacity as regent appointed by Duke Robert, attempt to
re-establish order; and just when he seemed on the road to success he was
poisoned by those who could not succeed in beating him. Henry I., king
of France, being ill-disposed at bottom towards his Norman neighbors and
their young duke, for all that he had acknowledged him, profited by this
anarchy to filch from him certain portions of territory. Attacks without
warning, fearful murders, implacable vengeance, and sanguinary
disturbances in the towns, were evils which became common, and spread.
The clergy strove with courageous perseverance against the vices and
crimes of the period. The bishops convoked councils in their dioceses;
the laic lords, and even the people, were summoned to them; the peace of
God was proclaimed; and the priests, having in their hands lighted
tapers, turned them towards the ground and extinguished them, whilst the
populace repeated in chorus, "So may God extinguish the joys of those who
refuse to observe peace and justice." The majority, however, of the
Norman lords, refused to enter into the engagement. In default of peace,
it was necessary to be content with the truce of God. It commenced on
Wednesday evening at sunset and concluded on Monday at sunrise. During
the four days and five nights comprised in this interval, all aggression
was forbidden; no slaying, wounding, pillaging, or burning could take
place; but from sunrise on Monday to sunset on Wednesday, for three clays
and two nights, any violence became allowable, any crime might

Meanwhile William was growing up, and the omens that had been drawn from
his early youth raised the popular hopes. It was reported that at his
very birth, when the midwife had put him unswaddled on a little heap of
straw, he had wriggled about and drawn together the straw with his hands,
insomuch that the midwife said, "By my faith, this child beginneth full
young to take and heap up: I know not what he will not do when he is
grown." At a little later period, when a burgess of Falaise drew the
attention of the Lord William de Bellesme to the gay and sturdy lad as he
played amongst his mates, the fierce vassal muttered between his teeth,
"Accursed be thou of God! for I be certain that by thee mine honors will
be lowered." The child on becoming man was handsomer and handsomer, "and
so lively and spirited that it seemed to all a marvel." Amongst his
mates, command became soon a habit with him; he made them form line of
battle, he gave them the word of command, and he constituted himself
their judge in all quarrels. At a still later period, having often heard
talk of revolts excited against him, and of disorders which troubled the
country, he was moved, in consequence, to fits of violent irritation,
which, however, he learned instinctively to bide, "and in his child's
heart," says the chronicle, "he had welling up all the vigor of a man to
teach the Normans to forbear from all acts of irregularity." At fifteen
years of age, in 1042, he demanded to be armed knight, and to fulfil all
forms necessary "for having the right to serve and command in all ranks."
These forms were in Normandy, by a relic, it is said, of the Danish and
pagan customs, more connected with war and less with religion than
elsewhere; the young candidates were not bound to confess, to spend a
vigil in the church, and to receive from the priest's hands the sword he
had consecrated on the altar; it was even the custom to say that "he
whose sword had been girded upon him by a long-robed cleric was no true
knight, but a cit without spirit." The day on which William for the
first time donned his armor was for his servants and all the spectators
a gala day. "He was so tall, so manly in face, and so proud of bearing,
that it was a sight both pleasant and terrible to see him guiding his
horse's career, flashing with his sword, gleaming with his shield, and
threatening with his casque and javelins." His first act of government
was a rigorous decree against such as should be guilty of murder, arson,
and pillage; but he at the same time granted an amnesty for past revolts,
on condition of fealty and obedience for the future.

For the establishment, however, of a young and disputed authority there
is need of something more than brilliant ceremonies and words partly
minatory and partly coaxing. William had to show what he was made of.
A conspiracy was formed against him in the heart of his feudal court, and
almost of his family. He had given kindly welcome to his cousin Guy of
Burgundy, and had even bestowed on him as a fief the countships of Vernon
and Brionne. In 1044 the young duke was at Valognes; when suddenly, at
midnight, one of his trustiest servants, Golet, his fool, such as the
great lords of the time kept, knocked at the door of his chamber, crying,
"Open, open, my lord duke: fly, fly, or you are lost. They are armed,
they are getting ready; to tarry is death." William did not hesitate; he
got up, ran to the stables, saddled his horse with his own hands, started
off, followed a road called to this day the duke's way, and reached
Falaise as a place of safety. There news came to him that the conspiracy
was taking the form of insurrection, and that the rebels were seizing his
domains. William showed no more hesitation at Falaise than at Valognes;
he started off at once, repaired to Poissy, where Henry I., king of
France, was then residing, and claimed, as vassal, the help of his
suzerain against traitors. Henry, who himself was brave, was touched by
this bold confidence, and promised his young vassal effectual support.
William returned to Normandy, summoned his lieges, and took the field
promptly. King Henry joined him at Argence, with a body of three
thousand men-at-arms, and a battle took place on the 10th of August,
1047, at Val des Dunes, three leagues from Caen. It was very hotly
contested. King Henry, unhorsed by a lance-thrust, ran a risk of his
life; but he remounted and valiantly returned to the melley. William
dashed in wherever the fight was thickest, showing himself everywhere as
able in command as ready to expose himself. A Norman lord, Raoul de
Tesson, held aloof with a troop of one hundred and forty knights. "Who
is he that bides yonder motionless?" asked the French king of the young
duke. "It is the banner of Raoul de Tesson," answered William; "I wot
not that he hath aught against me." But, though he had no personal
grievance, Raoul de Tesson had joined the insurgents, and sworn that he
would be the first to strike the duke in the conflict. Thinking better
of it, and perceiving William from afar, he pricked towards him, and
taking off his glove struck him gently on the shoulder, saying, "I swore
to strike you, and so I am quit: but fear nothing more from me."
"Thanks, Raoul," said William; "be well disposed, I pray you." Raoul
waited until the two armies were at grips, and when he saw which way
victory was inclined, he hasted to contribute thereto. It was decisive:
and William the Bastard returned to Val des Dunes really duke of

He made vigorous but not cruel use of his victory. He demolished his
enemies' strong castles, magazines as they were for pillage no less than
bulwarks of feudal independence; but there is nothing to show that he
indulged in violence towards persons. He was even generous to the chief
concocter of the plot, Guy of Burgundy. He took from him the countships
of Vernon and Brionne, but permitted him still to live at his court, a
place which the Burgundian found himself too ill at ease to remain in, so
he returned to Burgundy, to conspire against his own eldest brother.
William was stern without hatred and merciful without kindliness, only
thinking which of the two might promote or retard his success, gentleness
or severity.

There soon came an opportunity for him to return to the king of France
the kindness he had received. Geoffrey Martel, duke of Anjou, being
ambitious and turbulent beyond the measure of his power, got embroiled
with the king his suzerain, and war broke out between them. The duke of
Normandy went to the aid of King Henry and made his success certain,
which cost the duke the fierce hostility of the count of Anjou and a four
years' war with that inconvenient neighbor; a war full of dangerous
incidents, wherein William enhanced his character, already great, for
personal valor. In an ambuscade laid for him by Geoffrey Martel he lost
some of his best knights, "whereat he was so wroth," says a chronicle,
"that he galloped down with such force upon Geoffrey, and struck him in
such wise with his sword that he dinted his helm, cut through his hood,
lopped off his car, and with the same blow felled him to earth. But the
count was lifted up and remounted, and so fled away."

William made rapid advances both as prince and as man. Without being
austere in his private life, he was regular in his habits, and patronized
order and respectability in his household as well as in his dominions.
He resolved to marry to his own honor, and to the promotion of his
greatness. Baldwin the Debonnair, count of Flanders, one of the most
powerful lords of the day, had a daughter, "Matilda, beautiful,
well-informed, firm in the faith, a model of virtue and modesty."
William asked her hand in marriage. Matilda refused, saying, "I would
rather be veiled nun than given in marriage to a bastard." Hurt as he
was, William did not give up. He was even more persevering than
susceptible; but he knew that he must get still greater, and make an
impression upon a young girl's imagination by the splendor of his fame
and power. Some years later, being firmly established in Normandy,
dreaded by all his neighbors, and already showing some foreshadowings of
his design upon England, he renewed his matrimonial quest in Flanders,
but after so strange a fashion that, in spite of contemporary testimony,
several of the modern historians, in their zeal, even at so distant a
period, for observance of the proprieties, reject as fabulous the story
which is here related on the authority of the most detailed account
amongst all the chronicles which contain it. "A little after that Duke
William had heard how the damsel had made answer, he took of his folk,
and went privily to Lille, where the duke of Flanders and his wife and
his daughter then were. He entered into the hall, and, passing on, as if
to do some business, went into the countess's chamber, and there found
the damsel daughter of Count Baldwin. He took her by the tresses,
dragged her round the chamber, trampled her under foot, and did beat her
soundly. Then he strode forth from the chamber, leaped upon his horse,
which was being held for him before the hall, struck in his spurs, and
went his way. At this deed was Count Baldwin much enraged; and when
matters had thus remained a while, Duke William sent once more to Count
Baldwin to parley again of the marriage. The count sounded his daughter
on the subject, and she answered that it pleased her well. So the
nuptials took place with very great joy. And after the aforesaid
matters, Count Baldwin, laughing withal, asked his daughter wherefore she
had so lightly accepted the marriage she had aforetime so cruelly
refused. And she answered that she did not then know the duke so well as
she did now; for, said she, if he had not great heart and high emprise,
he had not been so bold as to dare come and beat me in my father's

Amongst the historians who treat this story as a romantic and untruthlike
fable, some believe themselves to have discovered, in divers documents of
the eleventh and twelfth centuries, circumstances almost equally singular
as regards the cause of the obstacles met with at first by Duke William
in his pretensions to the hand of Princess Matilda, and as regards the
motive for the first refusal on the part of Matilda herself. According
to some, the Flemish princess had conceived a strong passion for a noble
Saxon, Brihtric Meaw, who had been sent by King Edward the Confessor to
the court of Flanders, and who was remarkable for his beauty. She wished
to marry him, but the handsome Saxon was not willing; and Matilda at
first gave way to violent grief on that account, and afterwards, when she
became queen of England, to vindictive hatred, the weight of which she
made him feel severely. Other writers go still farther, and say that,
before being sought in marriage by William, Matilda had not fallen in
love with a handsome Saxon, but had actually married a Flemish burgess,
named Gerbod, patron of the church of St. Dertin, at St. Omer, and that
she had by him two and perhaps three children, traces of whom recur, it
is said, under the reign of William, king of England. There is no
occasion to enter upon the learned controversies of which these different
allegations have been the cause; it is sufficient to say that they have
led to nothing but obscurity, contradiction, and doubt, and that there is
more moral verisimilitude in the account just given, especially in
Matilda's first prejudice against marriage with a bastard, and in her
conversation with her father, Count Baldwin, when she had changed her
opinion upon the subject. Independently of the testimony of several
chroniclers, French and English, this tradition is mentioned, with all
the simplicity of belief, in one of the principal Flemish chronicles; and
as to the ruffianly gallantry employed by William to win his bride, there
is nothing in it very singular, considering the habits of the time, and
we meet with more than one example of adventures, if not exactly similar,
at any rate very analogous.

However that may be, this marriage brought William an unexpected
opportunity of entering into personal relations with one of the most
distinguished men of his age, and a man destined to become one of his own
most intimate advisers. In 1019, at the council of Rheims, Pope Leo IX.,
on political grounds rather than because of a prohibited degree of
relationship, had opposed the marriage of the duke of Normandy with the
daughter of the duke of Flanders, and had pronounced his veto upon it.
William took no heed; and, in 1052 or 1053, his marriage was celebrated
at Rouen with great pomp; but this ecclesiastical veto weighed upon his
mind, and he sought some means of getting it taken off. A learned
Italian, Lanfranc, a juris-consult of some fame already, whilst
travelling in France and repairing from Avranches to Rouen, was stopped
near Brionne by brigands, who, having plundered him, left him, with his
eyes bandaged, in a forest. His cries attracted the attention of
passers-by, who took him to a neighboring monastery, but lately founded
by a pious Norman knight retired from the world. Lanfranc was received
in it, became a monk of it, was elected its prior, attracted to it by his
learned teaching a host of pupils, and won therein his own great renown
whilst laying the foundation for that of the abbey of Bee, which was
destined to be carried still higher by one of his disciples, St. Anselm.
Lanfranc was eloquent, great in dialectics, of a sprightly wit, and
lively in repartee. Relying upon the pope's decision, he spoke ill of
William's marriage with Matilda. William was informed of this, and in a
fit of despotic anger, ordered Lanfranc to be driven from the monastery
and banished from Normandy, and even, it is said, the dependency which he
inhabited as prior of the abbey, to be burned. The order was executed;
and Lanfranc set out, mounted on a sorry little horse given him, no
doubt, by the abbey. By what chance is not known, but probably on a
hunting-party, his favorite diversion, William, with his retinue,
happened to cross the road which Lanfranc was slowly pursuing. "My
lord," said the monk, addressing him, "I am obeying your orders; I am
going away, but my horse is a sorry beast; if you will give me a better
one, I will go faster." William halted, entered into conversation with
Lanfranc, let him stay, and sent him back with a present to his abbey.
A little while afterwards Lanfranc was at Rome, and defended before Pope
Victor II. William's marriage with Matilda: he was successful, and the
pope took off the veto on the sole condition that the couple, in sign of
penitence, should each found a religious house. Matilda, accordingly,
founded at Caen, for women, the abbey of the Holy Trinity; and William,
for men, that of St. Stephen. Lanfranc was the first abbot of the
latter; and when William became king of England, Lanfranc was made
archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Church of England, as well as
privy counsellor of his king. William excelled in the art, so essential
to government, of promptly recognizing the worth of men, and of
appropriating their influence to himself whilst exerting his own over

About the same time he gave his contemporaries, princes and peoples, new
proofs of his ability and power. Henry I., king of France, growing more
and more disquieted at and jealous of the duke of Normandy's ascendency,
secretly excited against him opposition and even revolt in his dominions.
These dealings led to open war between the suzerain and the vassal, and
the war concluded with two battles won by William, one at Mortemer near
Neuchatel in Bray, the other at Varaville near Troarrh "After which,"
said William himself, "King Henry never passed a night tranquilly on my
ground." In 1059 peace was concluded between the two princes. Henry I.
died almost immediately afterwards, and on the 25th of August, 1060, his
son Philip I. succeeded him, under the regency of Baldwin, count of
Flanders, father of the Duchess Matilda. Duke William was present in
state at the coronation of the new king of France, lent him effectual
assistance against the revolts which took place in Gascony, reentered
Normandy for the purpose of holding at Caen, in 1061, the Estates of his
duchy, and at that time published the famous decree observed long after
him, under the name of the law of curfew, which ordered "that every
evening the bell should be rung in all parishes to warn every one to
prayer, and house-closing, and no more running about the streets."

The passion for orderliness in his dominion did not cool his ardor for
conquest. In 1063, after the death of his young neighbor Herbert II.,
count of Maine, William took possession of this beautiful countship; not
without some opposition on the part of the inhabitants, nor without
suspicion of having poisoned his rival, Walter, count of Vexin. It is
said that after this conquest William meditated that of Brittany; but
there is every indication that he had formed a far vaster design, and
that the day of its execution was approaching.

From the time of Rollo's settlement in Normandy, the communications of
the Normans with England had become more and more frequent, and important
for the two countries. The success of the invasions of the Danes in
England in the tenth century, and the reigns of three kings of the Danish
line, had obliged the princes of Saxon race to take refuge in Normandy,
the duke of which, Richard I., had given his daughter Emma in marriage to
their grandfather, Ethelred II. When, at the death of the last Danish
king, Hardicanute, the Saxon prince Edward ascended the throne of his
fathers, he had passed twenty-seven years of exile in Normandy, and he
returned to England "almost a stranger," in the words of the chronicles,
to the country of his ancestors; far more Norman than Saxon in his
manners, tastes, and language, and surrounded by Normans, whose numbers
and prestige under his reign increased from day to day. A hot rivalry,
nationally as well as courtly, grew up between them and the Saxons. At
the head of these latter was Godwin, count of Kent, and his five sons,
the eldest of whom, Harold, was destined before long to bear the whole
brunt of the struggle. Between these powerful rivals, Edward the
Confessor, a pacific, pious, gentle, and undecided king, wavered
incessantly; at one time trying to resist, and at another compelled to
yield to the pretensions and seditions by which he was beset. In 1051
the Saxon party and its head, Godwin, had risen in revolt. Duke William,
on invitation, perhaps, from King Edward, paid a brilliant visit to
England, where he found Normans everywhere established and powerful, in
Church as well as in State; in command of the fleets, ports, and
principal English places. King Edward received him "as his own son, gave
him arms, horses, hounds, and hawking-birds," and sent him home full of
presents and hopes. The chronicler, Ingulf, who accompanied William on
his return to Normandy, and remained attached to him as private
secretary, affirms that, during this visit, not only was there no
question, between King Edward and the duke of Normandy, of the latter's
possible succession to the throne of England, but that never as yet had
this probability occupied the attention of William.

It is very doubtful whether William had said nothing upon the subject to
King Edward at that time; and it is certain, from William's own
testimony, that he had for a long while been thinking about it. Four
years after this visit of the duke to England, King Edward was reconciled
to and lived on good terms with the family of the Godwins. Their father
was dead, and the eldest son, Harold, asked the king's permission to go
to Normandy and claim the release of his brother and nephew, who had been
left as hostages in the keeping of Duke William. The king did not
approve of the project. "I have no wish to constrain thee," said he to
Harold: "but if thou go, it will be without my consent: and, assuredly,
thy trip will bring some misfortune upon thee and our country. I know
Duke William and his crafty spirit; he hates thee, and will grant thee
nought unless he see his advantage therefrom. The only way to make him
give up the hostages will be to send some other than thyself." Harold,
however, persisted and went. William received him with apparent
cordiality, promised him the release of the two hostages, escorted him
and his comrades from castle to castle, and from entertainment to
entertainment, made them knights of the grand Norman order, and even
invited them, "by way of trying their new spurs," to accompany him on a
little warlike expedition he was about to undertake in Brittany. Harold
and his comrades behaved gallantly: and he and William shared the same
tent and the same table. On returning, as they trotted side by side,
William turned the conversation upon his youthful connection with the
king of England. "When Edward and I," said he to the Saxon, "were living
like brothers under the same roof, he promised, if ever he became king of
England, to make me heir to his kingdom; I should very much like thee,
Harold, to help me to realize this promise; and be assured that, if by
thy aid I obtain the kingdom, whatsoever thou askest of me, I will grant
it forthwith." Harold, in surprise and confusion, answered by an assent
which he tried to make as vague as possible. William took it as
positive. "Since thou dost consent to serve me," said he, "thou must
engage to fortify the castle of Dover, dig a well of fresh water there,
and put it into the hands of my men-at-arms; thou must also give me thy
sister to be married to one of my barons, and thou must thyself espouse
my daughter Adele." Harold, "not witting," says the chronicler, "how to
escape from this pressing danger," promised all the duke asked of him,
reckoning, doubt-less, on disregarding his engagement; and for the moment
William asked him nothing more.

But a few days afterwards he summoned, at Avranches according to some,
and at Bayeux according to others, and, more probably still, at
Bonneville-sur-Touques, his Norman barons; and, in the midst of this
assembly, at which Harold was present, William, seated with his naked
sword in his hand, caused to be brought and placed upon a table covered
with cloth of gold two reliquaries. "Harold," said he, "I call upon
thee, in presence of this noble assemblage, to confirm by oath the
promises thou didst make me, to wit, to aid me to obtain the kingdom of
England after the death of King Edward, to espouse my daughter Adele, and
to send me thy sister to be married to one of my people." Harold, who
had not expected this public summons, nevertheless did not hesitate any
more than he had hesitated in his private conversation with William; he
drew near, laid his hand on the two reliquaries, and swore to observe, to
the best of his power, his agreement with the duke, should he live and
God help. "God help!" repeated those who were present. William made a
sign; the cloth of gold was removed, and there was discovered a tub
filled to the edge with bones and relies of all the saints that could be
got together. The chronicler-poet, Robert Wace, who, alone and long
afterwards, recounts this last particular, adds that Harold was visibly
troubled at sight of this saintly heap; but he had sworn. It is
honorable to human nature not to be indifferent to oaths even when those
who exact them have but small reliance upon them, and when he who takes
them has but small intention of keeping them. And so Harold departed
laden with presents, leaving William satisfied, but not over-confident.

When, on returning to England, Harold told King Edward what had passed
between William and himself, "Did I not warn thee," said the king, "that
I knew William, and that thy journey would bring great misfortunes upon
thyself and upon our nation? Grant Heaven that those misfortunes come
not during my life!" The king's wish was not granted. He fell ill; and
on the 5th of January, 1066, he lay on his couch almost at the point of
death. Harold and his kindred entered the chamber, and prayed the king
to name a successor by whom the kingdom might be governed securely. "Ye
know," said Edward, "that I have left my kingdom to the Duke of Normandy;
and are there not here, among ye, those who have sworn to assure his
succession?" Harold advanced, and once more asked the king on whom the
crown should devolve. "Take it, if it is thy wish, Harold," said Edward;
"but the gift will be thy ruin; against the duke and his barons thy power
will not suffice."--Harold declared that he feared neither the Norman nor
any other foe. The king, vexed at this importunity, turned round in his
bed, saying, "Let the English make king of whom they will, Harold or
another; I consent;" and shortly after expired. The very day after the
celebration of his obsequies, Harold was proclaimed king by his
partisans, amidst no small public disquietude, and Aldred, archbishop
of York, lost no time in anointing him.

William was in his park of Rouvray, near Rouen, trying a bow and arrows
for the chase, when a faithful servant arrived from England, to tell him
that Edward was dead and Harold proclaimed king. William gave his bow to
one of his people, and went back to his palace at Rouen, where he paced
about in silence, sitting down, rising up, leaning upon a bench, without
opening his lips and without any one of his people's daring to address a
word to him. There entered his seneschal William de Bretenil, of whom
"What ails the duke?" asked they who were present. "Ye will soon know,"
answered he. Then going up to the duke, he said, "Wherefore conceal your
tidings, my lord? All the city knows that King Edward is dead; and that
Harold has broken his oath to you, and had himself crowned king." "Ay,"
said William, "it is that which doth weigh me down." "My lord," said
William Fitz-Osbern, a gallant knight and confidential friend of the
duke, "none should be wroth over what can be mended: it depends but on
you to stop the mischief Harold is doing you; you shall destroy him, if
it please you. You have right; you have good men and true to serve you;
you need but have courage: set on boldly." William gathered together his
most important and most trusted counsellors; and they were unanimous in
urging him to resent the perjury and injury. He sent to Harold a
messenger charged to say, "William, duke of the Normans, doth recall to
thee the oath thou swarest to him with thy mouth and with thy hand, on
real and saintly relics." "It is true," answered Harold, "that I swore,
but on compulsion; I promised what did not belong to me; my kingship is
not mine own; I cannot put it off from me without the consent of the
country. I cannot any the more, without the consent of the country,
espouse a foreigner. As for my sister, whom the duke claims for one of
his chieftains, she died within the year; if he will, I will send him the
corpse." William replied without any violence, claiming the conditions
sworn, and especially Harold's marriage with his daughter Adele. For all
answer to this summons Harold married a Saxon, sister of two powerful
Saxon chieftains; Edwin and Morkar. There was an open rupture; and
William swore that "within the year he would go and claim, at the sword's
point, payment of what was due to him, on the very spot where Harold
thought himself to be most firm on his feet."

And he set himself to the work. But, being as far-sighted as he was
ambitious, he resolved to secure for his enterprise the sanction of
religious authority and the formal assent of the Estates of Normandy.
Not that he had any inclination to subordinate his power to that of the
Pope. Five years previously, Robert de Grandmesnil, abbot of St. Evroul,
with whom William had got embroiled, had claimed to re-enter his
monastery as master by virtue solely of an order from Pope Nicholas II.
"I will listen to the legates of the Pope, the common father of the
faithful," said William, "if they come to me to speak of the Christian
faith and religion; but if a monk of my Estates permit himself a single
word beyond his place, I will have him hanged by his cowl from the
highest oak of the nearest forest." When, in 1000, he denounced to Pope
Alexander II. the perjury of Harold, asking him at the same time to do
him justice, he made no scruple about promising that, if the Pope
authorized him to right himself by war, he would bring back the kingdom
of England to obedience to the Holy See. He had Lanfranc for his
negotiator with the court of Rome, and Pope Alexander II. had for chief
counsellor the celebrated monk Hildebrand, who was destined to succeed
him under the name of Gregory VII. The opportunity of extending the
empire of the Church was too tempting to be spurned, and her future head
too bold not to seize it whatever might be the uncertainty and danger of
the issue; and in spite of hesitation on the part of some of the Pope's
advisers, the question was promptly decided in accordance with William's
demand. Harold and his adherents were excommunicated, and, on committing
his bull to the hands of William's messenger, the Pope added a banner of
the Roman Church and a ring containing, it is said, a hair of St. Peter
set in a diamond.

The Estates of Normandy were less easy to manage. William called them
together at Lillebonne; and several of his vassals showed a zealous
readiness to furnish him with vessels and victual and to follow him
beyond the sea, but others declared that they were not bound to any such
service, and that they would not lend themselves to it; they had calls
enough already, and had nothing more to spare. William Fitz-Osbern
scouted these objections. "He is your lord, and hath need of you," said
he to the recalcitrants; "you ought to offer yourselves to him, and not
wait to be asked. If he succeed in his purpose, you will be more
powerful as well as he; if you fail him, and he succeed without you, he
will remember it: show that you love him, and what ye do, do with a good
grace." The discussion was keen. Many persisted in saying, "True, he is
our lord; but if we pay him his rents, that should suffice: we are not
bound to go and serve beyond the seas; we are already much burdened for
his wars." It was at last agreed that Fitz-Osbern should give the duke
the assembly's reply; for he knew well, they said, the ability of each.
"If ye mind not to do what I shall say," said Fitz-Osbern, "charge me not
therewith." "We will be bound by it, and will do it," was the cry amidst
general confusion. They repaired to the duke's presence. "My lord,"
said Fitz-Osbern, "I trow that there be not in the whole world such folk
as these. You know the trouble and labor they have already undergone in
supporting your rights; and they are minded to do still more, and serve
you at all points, this side the sea and t'other. Go you before, and
they will follow you; and spare them in nothing. As for me, I will
furnish you with sixty vessels, manned with good fighters." "Nay, nay,"
cried several of those present, prelates and barons, "we charged you not
with such reply; when he hath business in his own country, we will do him
the service we owe him; we be not bound to serve him in conquering
another's territory, or to go beyond sea for him." And they gathered
themselves together in knots with much uproar.

"William was very wroth," says the chronicler, "retired to a chamber
apart, summoned those in whom he had most confidence, and by their advice
called before him his barons, each separately, and asked them if they
were willing to help him. He had no intention, he told them, of doing
them wrong, nor would he and his, now or hereafter, ever cease to treat
with them in perfect courtesy; and he would give them, in writing, such
assurances as they were minded to devise. The majority of his people
agreed to give him, more or less, according to circumstances; and he had
everything reduced to writing." At the same time he made an appeal to
all his neighbors, Bretons, Manceaux, and Angevines, hunting up soldiers
wherever he could find them, and promising all who desired them lands in
England if he effected its conquest. Lastly he repaired in person, first
to Philip I., king of France, his suzerain, then to Baldwin V., count of
Flanders, his father-in-law, asking their assistance for his enterprise.
Philip gave a formal refusal. "What the duke demands of you," said his
advisers, "is to his own profit and to your hurt; if you aid him, your
country will be much burdened; and if the duke fail, you will have the
English your foes forever." The count of Flanders made show of a similar
refusal; but privately he authorized William to raise soldiers in
Flanders, and pressed his vassals to follow him. William, having thus
hunted up and collected all the forces he could hope for, thought only of
putting them in motion, and of hurrying on the preparations for his

Whilst, in obedience to his orders, the whole expedition, troops and
ships, were collecting at Dives, he received from Conan II., duke of
Brittany, this message: "I learn that thou art now minded to go beyond
sea and conquer for thyself the kingdom of England. At the moment of
starting for Jerusalem, Robert, duke of Normandy, whom thou feignest to
regard as thy father, left all his heritage to Alain, my father and his
cousin: but thou and thy accomplices slew my father with poison at
Vimeux, in Normandy. Afterwards thou didst invade his territory because
I was too young to defend it; and, contrary to all right, seeing that
thou art a bastard, thou hast kept it until this day. Now, therefore,
either give me back this Normandy which thou owest me, or I will make war
upon thee with all my forces." "At this message," say the chronicles,
"William was at first somewhat dismayed; but a Breton lord, who had sworn
fidelity to the two counts, and bore messages from one to the other,
rubbed poison upon the inside of Conan's hunting-horn, of his horse's
reins, and of his gloves. Conan, having unwittingly put on his gloves
and handled the reins of his horse, lifted his hands to his face, and the
touch having filled him with poisonous infection, he died soon after, to
the great sorrow of his people, for he was an able and brave man, and
inclined to justice. And he who had betrayed him quitted before long the
army of Conan, and informed Duke William of his death."

Conan is not the only one of William's foes whom he was suspected of
making away with by poison: there are no proofs; but contemporary
assertions are positive, and the public of the time believed them,
without surprise. Being as unscrupulous about means as ambitious and
bold in aim, William was not of those whose character repels such an
accusation. What, however, diminishes the suspicion is that, after and
in spite of Conan's death, several Breton knights, and, amongst others,
two sons of Count Eudes, his uncle, attended at the trysting-place of the
Norman troops and took part in the expedition.

Dives was the place of assemblage appointed for fleet and army. William
repaired thither about the end of August, 1066. But for several weeks
contrary winds prevented him from putting to sea; some vessels which made
the attempt perished in the tempest; and some of the volunteer
adventurers got disgusted, and deserted. William maintained strict
discipline amongst this multitude, forbidding plunder so strictly that
"the cattle fed in the fields in full security." The soldiers grew tired
of waiting in idleness and often in sickness. "Yon is a mad-man," said
they, "who is minded to possess himself of another's land; God is against
the design, and so refuses us a wind."

About the 20th of September the weather changed. The fleet got ready,
but could only go and anchor at St. Valery at the mouth of the Somme.
There it was necessary to wait several more days; impatience and
disquietude were redoubled; "and there appeared in the heavens a star
with a tail, a certain sign of great things to come." William had the
shrine of St. Valery brought out and paraded about, being more impatient
in his soul than anybody, but ever confident in his will and his good
fortune. There was brought to him a spy whom Harold had sent to watch
the forces and plans of the enemy; and William dismissed him, saying,
"Harold hath no need to take any care or be at any charges to know how we
be, and what we be doing; he shall see for himself, and shall feel before
the end of the year." At last, on the 27th of September, 1066, the sun
rose on a calm sea and with a favorable wind; and towards evening the
fleet set out. The Mora, the vessel on which William was, and which had
been given to him by his wife, Matilda, led the way; and a figure in
gilded bronze, some say in gold, representing their youngest son,
William, had been placed on the prow, with the face towards England.
Being a better sailer than the others, this ship was soon a long way
ahead; and William had a mariner sent to the top of the mainmast to see
if the fleet were following. "I see nought but sea and sky," said the
mariner. William had the ship brought to; and, the second time, the
mariner said, "I see four ships." Before long he cried, "I see a forest
of masts and sails." On the 29th of September, St. Michael's day, the
expedition arrived off the coast of England, at Pevensey, near Hastings,
and "when the tide had ebbed, and the ships remained aground on the
strand," says the chronicles the landing was effected without obstacle;
not a Saxon soldier appeared on the coast. William was the last to leave
his ship; and on setting foot on the sand he made a false step and fell.
"Bad sign!" was muttered around him; "God have us in His keeping!" "What
say you, lords?" cried William: "by the glory of God, I have grasped
this land with my hands; all that there is of it is ours."

[Illustration: Normans landing on English Coast----353]

With what forces William undertook the conquest of England, how many
ships composed his fleet, and how many men were aboard the ships, are
questions impossible to be decided with any precision, as we have
frequently before had occasion to remark, amidst the exaggerations and
disagreements of chroniclers. Robert Wace reports, in his Romance of
Rou, that he had heard from his father, one of William's servants on this
expedition, that the fleet numbered six hundred and ninety-six vessels,
but he had found in divers writings that there were more than three
thousand. M. Augustin Thierry, after his learned researches, says, in
his history of the _Conquest of England by the Normans,_ that "four
hundred vessels of four sails, and more than a thousand transport ships,
moved out into the open sea, to the sound of trumpets and of a great cry
of joy raised by sixty thousand throats." It is probable that the
estimate of the fleet is pretty accurate, and that of the army
exaggerated. We saw in 1830 what efforts and pains it required, amidst
the power and intelligent ability of modern civilization, to transport
from France to Algeria thirty-seven thousand men aboard three squadrons,
comprising six hundred and seventy-five ships of all sorts. Granted that
in the eleventh century there was more haphazard than in the nineteenth,
and that there was less care for human life on the eve of a war; still,
without a doubt, the armament of Normandy in 1066 was not to be compared
with that of France in 1830, and yet William's intention was to conquer
England, whereas Charles X. thought only of chastising the dey of

Whilst William was making for the southern coast of England, Harold was
repairing by forced marches to the north in order to defend, against the
rebellion of his brother Tostig and the invasion of a Norwegian army, his
short-lived kingship thus menaced, at two ends of the country, by two
formidable enemies. On the 25th of September, 1066, he gained at York a
brilliant victory over his northern foe; and, wounded as he was, he no
sooner learned that Duke William had on the 29th pitched his camp and
planted his flag at Pevensey, than he set out in haste for the south.
As he approached, William received, from what source is not known, this
message: "King Harold hath given battle to his brother Tostig and the
king of Norway. He hath slain them both, and hath destroyed their army.
He is returning at the head of numerous and valiant warriors, against
whom thine own, I trove, will be worth no more than wretched curs. Thou
passest for a man of wisdom and prudence; be not rash, plunge not thyself
into danger; I adjure thee to abide in thy intrenchments, and not to come
really to blows." "I thank thy master," answered William, "for his
prudent counsel, albeit he might have given it to me without insult.
Carry him back this reply: I will not hide me behind ramparts; I will
come to blows with Harold as soon as I may; and with the aid of Heaven's
good will I would trust in the valor of my men against his, even though I
had but ten thousand to lead against his sixty thousand." But the proud
confidence of William did not affect his prudence. He received from
Harold himself a message wherein the Saxon, affirming his right to the
kingship by virtue of the Saxon laws and the last words of King Edward,
summoned him to evacuate England with all his people; on which condition
alone he engaged to preserve friendship with him, and all agreements
between them as to Normandy. After having come to an understanding with
his barons, William maintained his right to the crown of England by
virtue of the first decision of King Edward, and the oaths of Harold
himself. "I am ready," said he, "to uphold my cause against him by the
forms of justice, either according to the law of the Normans or according
to that of the Saxons, as he pleases. If, by virtue of equity, Normans
or English decide that Harold has a right to possess the kingdom, let him
possess it in peace; if they acknowledge that it is to me that the
kingdom ought to belong, let him give it up to me. If he refuse these
conditions, I do not think it just that my people or his, who are not a
whit to blame for our quarrel, should slay one another in battle; I am
ready to maintain, at the price of my head against his, that it is to me
and not to him that the kingdom of England belongs." At this proposition
Harold was troubled, and remained a while without replying; then, as the
monk was urgent, "Let the Lord God," said he, "judge this day betwixt me
and William as to what is just." The negotiation continued, and William
summed it all up in these terms, which the monk reported to Harold in
presence of the English chieftains: "My lord, the duke of Normandy
biddeth you do one of these things: give up to him the kingdom of
England, and take his daughter in marriage, as you sware to him on the
holy relics; or, respecting the question between him and you, submit
yourself to the Pope's decision; or fight with him, body to body, and let
him who is victorious and forces his enemy to yield have the kingdom."
Harold replied, "without opinion or advice taken," says the chronicle, "I
will not cede him the kingdom; I will not abide by the Pope's award; and
I will not fight with him." William, still in concert with his barons,
made a farther advance. "If Harold will come to an agreement with me,"
he said, "I will leave him all the territory beyond the Humber, towards
Scotland." "My lord," said the barons to the duke, "make an end of these
parleys; if we must fight, let it be soon; for every day come folk to
Harold." "By my faith," said the duke, "if we agree not on terms
to-day, to-morrow we will join battle." The third proposal for an
agreement was as little successful as the former two; on both sides there
was no belief in peace, and they were eager to decide the quarrel once
for all.

Some of the Saxon chieftains advised Harold to fall back on London, and
ravage all the country, so as to starve out the invaders. "By my faith,"
said Harold, "I will not destroy the country I have in keeping; I, with
my people, will fight." "Abide in London," said his younger brother,
Gurth: "thou canst not deny that, perforce or by free will, thou didst
swear to Duke William; but, as for us, we have sworn nought; we will
fight for our country; if we alone fight, thy cause will be good in any
case; if we fly, thou shalt rally us; if we fall, thou shalt avenge us."
Harold rejected this advice, "considering it shame to his past life to
turn his back, whatever were the peril." Certain of his people, whom he
had sent to reconnoitre the Norman army, returned saying that there were
more priests in William's camp than warriors in his own; for the Normans,
at this period, wore shaven chins and short hair, whilst the English let
hair and beard grow. "Ye do err," said Harold; "these be not priests,
but good men-at-arms, who will show us what they can do."

On the eve of the battle, the Saxons passed the night in amusement,
eating, drinking, and singing, with great uproar; the Normans, on the
contrary, were preparing their arms, saying their prayers, and
"confessing to their priests--all who would." On the 14th of October,
1066, when Duke William put on his armor, his coat of mail was given to
him the wrong way. "Bad omen!" cried some of his people; "if such a
thing had happened to us, we would not fight to-day." "Be ye not
disquieted," said the duke; "I have never believed in sorcerers and
diviners, and I never liked them; I believe in God, and in Him I put my
trust." He assembled his men-at-arms, and setting himself upon a high
place, so that all might hear him, he said to them, "My true and loyal
friends, ye have crossed the seas for love of me, and for that I cannot
thank ye as I ought; but I will make what return I may, and what I have
ye shall have. I am not come only to take what I demanded, or to get my
rights, but to punish felonies, treasons, and breaches of faith committed
against our people by the men of this country. Think, moreover, what
great honor ye will have to-day if the day be ours. And bethink ye that,
if ye be discomfited, ye be dead men without help; for ye have not
whither ye may retreat, seeing that our ships be broken up, and our
mariners be here with us. He who flies will be a dead man; he who fights
will be saved. For God's sake, let each man do his duty; trust we in
God, and the day will be ours."

[Illustration: William the Conqueror reviewing his Army----357]

The address was too long for the duke's faithful comrade, William
Fitz-Osborn. "My lord," said he, "we dally; let us all to arms and
forward, forward!" The army got in motion, starting from the hill of
Telham or Heathland, according to Mr. Freeman, marching to attack the
English on the opposite hill of Senlac. A Norman, called Taillefer, "who
sang very well, and rode a horse which was very fast, came up to the
duke. 'My lord,' said he, 'I have served you long, and you owe me for
all my service: pay me to day, an it please you; grant unto me, for
recompense in full, to strike the first blow in the battle.' 'I grant
it,' quoth the duke. So Taillefer darted before him, singing the deeds
of Charlemagne, of Roland, of Oliver, and of the vassals who fell at
Roncesvalles." As he sang, he played with his sword, throwing it up into
the air and catching it in his right hand; and the Normans followed,
repeating his songs, and crying, "God help! God help!" The English,
intrenched upon a plateau towards which the Normans were ascending,
awaited the assault, shouting, and defying the foe.

The battle, thus begun, lasted nine hours, with equal obstinacy on both
sides, and varied success from hour to hour. Harold, though wounded at
the commencement of the fray, did not cease for a moment to fight, on
foot, with his two brothers beside him, and around him the troops of
London, who had the privilege of forming the king's guard when he
delivered a battle. Rudely repulsed at the first charge, some bodies of
Norman troops fell back in disorder, and a rumor spread amongst them that
the duke was slain; but William threw himself before the fugitives, and,
taking off his helmet, cried, "Look at me; here I am; I live, and by
God's help will conquer." So they returned to the combat. But the
English were firm; the Normans could not force their intrenchrnents; and
William ordered his men to feign a retreat, and all but a flight. At
this sight the English bore down in pursuit: "and still Norman fled and
Saxon pursued, until a trumpeter, who had been ordered by the duke thus
to turn back the Normans, began to sound the recall. Then were seen the
Normans turning back to face the English, and attacking them with their
swords, and amongst the English, some flying, some dying, some asking
mercy in their own tongue." The struggle once more became general and
fierce. William had three horses killed under him; "but he jumped
immediately upon a fresh steed, and left not long unavenged the death of
that which had but lately carried him." At last the intrenchments of the
English were stormed; Harold fell mortally wounded by an arrow which
pierced his skull; his two brothers and his bravest comrades fell at his
side; the fight was prolonged between the English dispersed and the
Normans remorselessly pursuing; the standard sent from Rome to the duke
of Normandy had replaced the Saxon flag on the very spot where Harold had
fallen; and, all around, the ground continued to get covered with dead
and dying, fruitless victims of the passions of the combatants. Next day
William went over the field of battle; and he was heard to say, in a tone
of mingled triumph and sorrow, "Here is verily a lake of blood!"

There was, long after the battle of Senlac, or Hastings, as it is
commonly called, a patriotic superstition in the country to the effect
that, when the rain had moistened the soil, there were to be seen traces
of blood on the ground where it had taken place.

Having thus secured the victory, William had his tent pitched at the very
point where the standard which had come from Rome had replaced the Saxon
banner, and he passed the night supping and chatting with his chieftains,
not far from the corpses scattered over the battle-field. Next day it
was necessary to attend to the burial of all these dead, conquerors or
conquered. William was full of care and affection towards his comrades;
and on the eve of the battle, during a long and arduous reconnoissance
which he had undertaken with some of them, he had insisted upon carrying,
for some time, in addition to his own cuirass, that of his faithful
William Fitz-Osbern, who he saw was fatigued in spite of his usual
strength; but towards his enemies William was harsh and resentful.
Githa, Harold's mother, sent to him to ask for her son's corpse, offering
for it its weight in gold. "Nay," said William, "Harold was a perjurer;
let him have for burial-place the sand of the shore, where he was so
madly fain to rule." Two Saxon monks from Waltham Abbey, which had been
founded by Harold, came, by their abbot's order, and claimed for their
church the remains of their benefactor; and William, indifferent as he
had been to a mother's grief, would not displease an abbey. But when the
monks set about finding the body of Harold, there was none to recognize
it, and they had recourse to a young girl, Edith, Swan's-neck, whom
Harold had loved. She discovered amongst the corpses her lover's
mutilated body; and the monks bore it away to the church at Waltham,
where it was buried. Some time later a rumor was spread abroad that
Harold was wounded, and carried to a neighboring castle, perhaps Dover,
whence he went to the abbey of St. John, at Chester, where he lived a
long while in a solitary cell, and where William the Conqueror's second
son, Henry I., the third Norman king of England, one day went to see him
and had an interview with him. But this legend, in which there is
nothing chronologically impossible, rests on no sound basis of evidence,
and is discountenanced by all contemporary accounts.

[Illustration: Edith discovers the Body of Harold----360]

Before following up his victory, William resolved to perpetuate the
remembrance of it by a religious monument, and he decreed the foundation
of an abbey on the very field of the battle of Hastings, from which it
took its name, Battle Abbey. He endowed this abbey with all the
neighboring territory within the radius of a league, "the very spot,"
says his charter, "which gave me my crown." He made it free of the
jurisdiction of any prelate, dedicated it to St. Martin of Tours, patron
saint of the soldiers of Gaul, and ordered that there should be deposited
in its archives a register containing the names of all the lords,
knights, and men of mark who had accompanied him on his expedition. When
the building of the abbey began, the builders observed a want of water;
and they notified William of the fact. "Work away," said he: "if God
grant me life, I will make such good provision for the place that more
wine shall be found there than there is water in other monasteries."

It was not everything, however, to be victorious, it was still necessary
to be recognized as king. When the news of the defeat at Hastings and
the death of Harold was spread abroad in the country, the emotion was
lively and seemed to be profound; the great Saxon national council, the
Wittenagemote, assembled at London; the remnants of the Saxon army
rallied there; and search was made for other kings than the Norman duke.
Harold left two sons, very young and not in a condition to reign; but his
two brothers-in-law, Edwin and Morkar, held dominion in the north of
England, whilst the southern provinces, and amongst them the city of
London, had a popular aspirant, a nephew of Edward the Confessor, in
Edgar surnamed Atheliny (the noble, the illustrious), as the descendant
of several kings. What with these different pretensions, there were
discussion, hesitation, and delay; but at last the young Edgar prevailed,
and was proclaimed king. Meanwhile William was advancing with his army,
slowly, prudently, as a man resolved to risk nothing and calculating upon
the natural results of his victory. At some points he encountered
attempts at resistance, but he easily overcame them, occupied
successively Romney, Dover, Canterbury, and Rochester, appeared before
London without trying to enter it, and moved on Winchester, which was the
residence of Edward the Confessor's widow, Queen Editha, who had received
that important city as dowry. Through respect for her, William, who
presented himself in the character of relative and heir of King Edward,
did not enter the place, and merely called upon the inhabitants to take
the oath of allegiance to him and do him homage, which they did with the
queen's consent. William returned towards London and commenced the
siege, or rather investment of it, by establishing his camp at
Berkhampstead, in the county of Hertford. He entered before long into
secret communication with an influential burgess, named Ansgard, an old
man who had seen service, and who, riddled with wounds, had himself
carried about the streets in a litter. Ansgard had but little difficulty
in inducing the authorities of London to make pacific overtures to the
duke, and William had still less difficulty in convincing the messenger
of the moderation of his designs. "The king salutes ye, and offers ye
peace," said Ansgard to the municipal authorities of London on his return
from the camp: "'tis a king who hath no peer; he is handsomer than the
sun, wiser than Solomon, more active and greater than Charlemagne," and
the enthusiastic poet adds that the people as well as the senate eagerly
welcomed these words, and renounced, both of them, the young king they
had but lately proclaimed. Facts were quick in responding to this
quickly produced impression; a formal deputation was sent to William's
camp; the archbishops of Canterbury and York, many other prelates and
laic chieftains, the principal citizens of London, the two brothers-in-
law of Harold, Edwin and Morkar, and the young king of yesterday, Edgar
Atheling himself, formed part of it; and they brought to William, Edgar
Atheling his abdication, and all the others their submission, with an
express invitation to William to have himself made king, "for we be
wont," said they, "to serve a king, and we wish to have a king for lord."
William received them in presence of the chieftains of his army, and with
great show of moderation in his desires. "Affairs," said he, "be
troubled still; there be still certain rebels; I desire rather the peace
of the kingdom than the crown; I would that my wife should be crowned
with me." The Norman chieftains murmured whilst they smiled; and one of
them, an Aquitanian, Aimery de Thouars, cried out, "It is passing modest
to ask soldiers if they wish their chief to be king: soldiers are never,
or very seldom, called to such deliberations: let what we desire be done
as soon as possible." William yielded to the entreaties of the Saxon
deputies and to the counsels of the Norman chieftains but, prudent still,
before going in person to London, he sent thither some of his officers
with orders to have built there immediately, on the banks of the Thames,
at a point which he indicated, a fort where he might establish himself in
safety. That fort, in the course of time, became the Tower of London.

When William set out, some days afterwards, to make his entry into the
city, he found, on his way to St. Alban's, the road blocked with huge
trunks of trees recently felled. "What means this barricade in thy
domains?" he demanded of the abbot of St. Alban's, a Saxon noble. "I
did what was my duty to my birth and mission," replied the monk: "if
others, of my rank and condition, had done as much, as they ought to and
could have done, thou hadst not penetrated so far into our country."

On entering London after all these delays and all these precautions,
William fixed, for his coronation, upon Christmas-day, December 25th,
1066. Either by desire of the prelate himself or by William's own order,
it was not the archbishop of Canterbury, Stigand, who presided, according
to custom, at the ceremony; the duty devolved upon the archbishop of
York, Aldred, who had but lately anointed Edgar Atheling. At the
appointed hour, William arrived at Westminster Abbey, the latest work and
the burial-place of Edward the Confessor. The Conqueror marched between
two hedges of Norman soldiers, behind whom stood a crowd of people, cold
and sad, though full of curiosity. A numerous cavalry guarded the
approaches to the church and the quarters adjoining. Two hundred and
sixty counts, barons, and knights of Normandy went in with the duke.
Geoffrey, bishop of Coutanees, demanded in French, of the Normans, if
they would that their duke should take the title of King of the English.
The archbishop of York demanded of the English, in the Saxon tongue, if
they would have for king the duke of Normandy. Noisy acclamations arose
in the church and resounded outside. The soldiery, posted in the
neighborhood, took the confused roar for a symptom of something wrong,
and in their suspicious rage set fire to the neighboring houses. The
flames spread rapidly. The people who were rejoicing in the church
caught the alarm, and a multitude of men and women of every rank flung
themselves out of the edifice. Alone and trembling, the bishops with
some clerics and monks remained before the altar and accomplished the
work of anointment upon the king's head, "himself trembling," says the
chronicle. Nearly all the rest who were present ran to the fire, some to
extinguish it, others to steal and pillage in the midst of the
consternation. William terminated the ceremony by taking the usual oath
of Saxon kings at their coronation, adding thereto, as of his own motion,
a promise to treat the English people according to their own laws and as
well as they had ever been treated by the best of their own kings. Then
he went forth from the church King of England.

We will pursue no farther the life of William the Conqueror: for
henceforth it belongs to the history of England, not of France. We have
entered, so far as he was concerned, into pretty long details, because we
were bound to get a fair understanding of the event and of the man; not
only because of their lustre at the time, but especially because of the
serious and long-felt consequences entailed upon France, England, and, we
may say, Europe. We do not care just now to trace out those consequences
in all their bearings; but we would like to mark out with precision their
chief features, inasmuch as they exercised, for centuries, a determining
influence upon the destinies of two great nations, and upon the course of
modern civilization.

As to France, the consequences of the conquest of England by the Normans
were clearly pernicious, and they have not yet entirely disappeared. It
was a great evil, as early as the eleventh century, that the duke of
Normandy, one of the great French lords, one of the great vassals of the
king of France, should at the same time become king of England, and thus
receive an accession of rank and power which could not fail to render
more complicated and more stormy his relations with his French suzerain.
From the eleventh to the fourteenth century, from Philip I. to Philip de
Valois, this position gave rise, between the two crowns and the two
states, to questions, to quarrels, to political struggles, and to wars
which were a frequent source of trouble in France to the government and
the people. The evil and the peril became far greater still when, in the
fourteenth century, there arose between France and England, between
Philip de Valois and Edward III., a question touching the succession to
the throne of France and the application or negation of the Salic law.
Then there commenced, between the two crowns and the two peoples, that
war which was to last more than a hundred years, was to bring upon France
the saddest days of her history, and was to be ended only by the inspired
heroism of a young girl who, alone, in the name of her God and His
saints, restored confidence and victory to her king and her country.
Joan of Arc, at the cost of her life, brought to the most glorious
conclusion the longest and bloodiest struggle that has devastated France
and sometimes compromised her glory.

Such events, even when they are over, do not cease to weigh heavily for a
long while upon a people. The struggles between the kings of England,
dukes of Normandy, and the kings of France, and the long war of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries for the succession to the throne of
France, engendered what historians have called "the rivalry between
France and England;" and this rivalry, having been admitted as a natural
and inevitable fact, became the permanent incubus and, at divers epochs,
the scourge of French national existence. Undoubtedly there are, between
great and energetic neighbors, different interests and tendencies, which
easily become the seeds of jealousy and strife; but there are also,
between such nations, common interests and common sentiments, which tend
to harmony and peace. The wisdom and ability of governments and of
nations themselves are shown in devoting themselves to making the grounds
of harmony and peace stronger than those of discord and war. Anyhow
common sense and moral sense forbid differences of interests and
tendencies to be set up as a principle upon which to establish general
and permanent rivalry, and, by consequence, a systematic hostility and
national enmity. And the further civilization and the connections
between different people proceed with this development, the more
necessary and, at the same time, possible it becomes to raise the
interests and sentiments which would hold them together above those which
would keep them asunder, and to thus found a policy of reciprocal equity
and of peace in place of a policy of hostile precautions and continual
strife. "I have witnessed," says M. Guizot, "in the course of my life,
both these policies. I have seen the policy of systematic hostility, the
policy practised by the Emperor Napoleon I. with as much ability and
brilliancy as it was capable of, and I have seen it result in the
greatest disaster France ever experienced. And even after the evidence
of its errors and calamities this policy has still left amongst us deep
traces and raised serious obstacles to the policy of reciprocal equity,
liberty, and peace which we labored to support, and of which the nation
felt, though almost against the grain, the justice and the necessity."
In that feeling we recognize the lamentable results of the old historic
causes which have just been pointed out, and the lasting perils arising
from those blind passions which hurry people away, and keep them back
from their most pressing interests and their most honorable sentiments.

In spite of appearances to the contrary, and in view of her future
interests, England was, in the eleventh century, by the very fact of the
conquest she underwent, in a better position than France. She was
conquered, it is true, and conquered by a foreign chieftain and a foreign
army; but France also had been, for several centuries previously, a prey
to conquest, and under circumstances much more unfavorable than those
under which the Norman conquest had found and placed England. When the
Goths, the Burgundians, the Franks, the Saxons, and the Normans
themselves invaded and disputed over Gaul, what was the character of the
event? Barbarians, up to that time vagabonds or nearly so, were flooding
in upon populations disorganized and enervated. On the side of the
German victors, no fixity in social life; no general or anything like
regular government; no nation really cemented and constituted; but
individuals in a state of dispersion and of almost absolute independence:
on the side of the vanquished Gallo-Romans, the old political ties
dissolved; no strong power, no vital liberty; the lower classes in
slavery, the middle classes ruined, the upper classes depreciated.
Amongst the barbarians society was scarcely commencing; with the subjects
of the Roman empire it no longer existed; Charlemagne's attempt to
reconstruct it by rallying beneath a new empire both victors and
vanquished was a failure; feudal anarchy was the first and the necessary
step out of barbaric anarchy and towards a renewal of social order.

It was not so in England, when, in the eleventh century, William
transported thither his government and his army. A people but lately
come out of barbarism, conquered, on that occasion, a people still half
barbarous. Their primitive origin was the same; their institutions were,
if not similar, at any rate analogous; there was no fundamental
antagonism in their habits; the English chieftains lived in their domains
an idle, hunting life, surrounded by their liegemen, just as the Norman
barons lived. Society, amongst both the former and the latter, was
founded, however unrefined and irregular it still was; and neither the
former nor the latter had lost the flavor and the usages of their ancient
liberties. A certain superiority, in point of organization and social
discipline, belonged to the Norman conquerors; but the conquered Anglo-
Saxons were neither in a temper to allow themselves to be enslaved nor
out of condition for defending themselves. The conquest was destined to
entail cruel evils, a long oppression, but it could not bring about
either the dissolution of the two peoples into petty lawless groups, or
the permanent humiliation of one in presence of the other. There were,
at one and the same time, elements of government and resistance, causes
of fusion and unity in the very midst of the struggle.

We are now about to anticipate ages, and get a glimpse, in their
development, of the consequences which attended this difference, so
profound, in the position of France and of England, at the time of the
formation of the two states.

In England, immediately after the Norman conquest, two general forces are
confronted, those, to wit, of the two peoples. The Anglo-Saxon people is
attached to its ancient institutions, a mixture of feudalism and liberty,
which become its security. The Norman army assumes organization on
English soil according to the feudal system which had been its own in
Normandy. A principle of authority and a principle of resistance thus
exist, from the very first, in the community and in the government.
Before long the principle of resistance gets displaced; the strife
between the peoples continues; but a new struggle arises between the
Norman king and his barons. The Norman kingship, strong in its growth,
would fain become tyrannical; but its tyranny encounters a resistance,
also strong, since the necessity for defending themselves against the
Anglo-Saxons has caused the Norman barons to take up the practice of
acting in concert, and has not permitted them to set themselves up as
petty, isolated sovereigns. The spirit of association receives
development in England: the ancient institutions have maintained it
amongst the English landholders, and the inadequacy of individual
resistance has made it prevalent amongst the Norman barons. The unity
which springs from community of interests and from junction of forces
amongst equals becomes a counter-poise to the unity of the sovereign
power. To sustain the struggle with success, the aristocratic coalition
formed against the tyrannical kingship has needed the assistance of the
landed proprietors, great and small, English and Norman, and it has not
been able to dispense with getting their rights recognized as well as its
own. Meanwhile the struggle is becoming complicated; there is a division
of parties; a portion of the barons rally round the threatened kingship;
sometimes it is the feudal aristocracy, and sometimes it is the king that
summons and sees flocking to the rescue the common people, first of the
country, then of the towns. The democratic element thus penetrates into
and keeps growing in both society and government, at one time quietly and
through the stolid influence of necessity, at another noisily and by
means of revolutions, powerful indeed, but nevertheless restrained within
certain limits. The fusion of the two peoples and the different social
classes is little by little attaining accomplishment; it is little by
little bringing about the perfect formation of representative government
with its various component parts, royalty, aristocracy, and democracy,
each invested with the rights and the strength necessary for their
functions. The end of the struggle has been arrived at; constitutional
monarchy is founded; by the triumph of their language and of their
primitive liberties the English have conquered their conquerors. It is
written in her history, and especially in her history at the date of the
eleventh century, how England found her point of departure and her first
elements of success in the long labor she performed, in order to arrive,
in 1688, at a free, and, in our days, at a liberal government.

France pursued her end by other means and in the teeth of other fortunes.
She always desired and always sought for free government under the form
of constitutional monarchy; and in following her history, step by step,
there will be seen, often disappearing and ever re-appearing, the efforts
made by the country for the accomplishment of her hope. Why then did not
France sooner and more completely attain what she had so often attempted?
Amongst the different causes of this long miscalculation, we will dwell
for the present only on the historical reason just now indicated: France
did not find, as England did, in the primitive elements of French society
the conditions and means of the political system to which she never
ceased to aspire. In order to obtain the moderate measure of internal
order, without which society could not exist; in order to insure the
progress of her civil laws and her material civilization; in order even
to enjoy those pleasures of the mind for which she thirsts so much,--
France was constantly obliged to have recourse to the kingly authority
and to that almost absolute monarchy which was far from satisfying her
even when she could not do without it, and when she worshipped it with an
enthusiasm rather literary than political, as was the case under Louis
XIV. It was through the refined rather than profound development of her
civilization, and through the zeal of her intellectual movement, that
France was at length impelled not only towards the political system to
which she had so long aspired, but into the boundless ambition of the
unlimited revolution which she brought about and with which she
inoculated all Europe. It is in the first steps towards the formation of
the two societies, French and English, and in the elements, so very
different, of their earliest existence, that we find the principal cause
for their long-continued diversity in institutions and destinies.

"In 1823, forty-seven years ago, after having studied," says M. Guizot,
"in my Essays upon a Comparative History of France and England, the great
fact which we have just now attempted to make clearly understood, I
concluded my labor by saying, 'Before our revolution, this difference
between the political fates of France and England might have saddened a
French-man: but now, in spite of the evils we have suffered and in spite
of those we shall yet, perhaps, suffer, there is no room, so far as we
are concerned, for such sadness. The advances of social equality and the
enlightenments of civilization in France preceded political liberty; and
it will thus be the more general and the purer. France may reflect,
without regret, upon any history: her own has always been glorious, and
the future promised to her will assuredly recompense her for all she has
hitherto lacked.' In 1870, after the experiences and notwithstanding the
sorrows of my long life, I have still confidence in our country's future.
Never be it forgotten that God helps only those who help themselves and
who deserve his aid."


Amongst the great events of European history, none was for a longer time
in preparation or more naturally brought about than the Crusades.
Christianity, from her earliest days, had seen in Jerusalem her sacred
cradle; it had been, in past times, the home of her ancestors, the Jews,
and the centre of their history; and, afterwards, the scene of the life,
death, and resurrection of her Divine Founder. Jerusalem became, more
and more, the Holy City. To go to Jerusalem, to visit the Mount of
Olives, Calvary, and the tomb of Jesus, was, in their most evil days, and
in the midst of their obscurity and their martyrdoms, a pious passion
with the early Christians. When, under Constantine, Christianity had
ascended from the cross to the throne, Jerusalem had fresh attractions
for Christian faith and Christian curiosity. Temples covered and
surrounded the Holy Sepulchre; and at Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount Tabor,
and nearly all the places which Jesus had consecrated by His presence and
His miracles were seen to rise up churches, chapels, and monuments
dedicated to the memory of them. The Emperor Constantine's mother, St.
Helena, was, at seventy-eight years of age, the first royal pilgrim to
the holy places. After the Pagan revival, vainly attempted by the
Emperor Julian, the number and zeal of the Christian visitors to
Jerusalem were redoubled. At the beginning of the fifth century, St.
Jerome wrote, from his retreat at Bethlehem, that Judea overflowed with
pilgrims, and that, round about the Holy Sepulchre, were heard sung, in
divers tongues, the praises of the Lord. He, however, gave but scant
encouragement to his friends to make the trip. "The court of heaven," he
wrote to St. Paulinus, "is as open in Britain as at Jerusalem;" and the
disorder which sometimes accompanied the numerous assemblages of pilgrims
became such that several of the most illustrious fathers of the Church,
and amongst others St. Augustine and St. Gregory of Nyssa, exerted
themselves to dissuade the faithful. "Take no thought," said Augustine,
"for long voyages; go where your faith is; it is not by ship, but by
love, that we go to Him who is everywhere."

Events soon rendered the pilgrimage to Jerusalem difficult, and for some
time impossible. At the commencement of the seventh century, the Greek
empire was at war with the sovereigns of Persia, successors of Cyrus and
chiefs of the religion of Zoroaster. One of them, Khosroes II., invaded
Judea, took Jerusalem, led away captive the inhabitants, together with
their patriarch, Zacharias, and even carried off to Persia the precious
relic which was regarded as the wood of the true cross, and which had
been discovered, nearly three centuries before, by the Empress Helena,
whilst excavations were making on Calvary for the erection of the church
of the Holy Sepulchre. But fourteen years later, after several victories
over the Persians, the Greek emperor, Heraclius, retook Jerusalem, and
re-entered Constantinople in triumph with the coffer containing the
sacred relic. He next year (in 629) carried it back to Jerusalem, and
bore it upon his own shoulders to the top of Calvary; and on this
occasion was instituted the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Great was the joy in Christendom; and the pilgrimages to Jerusalem
resumed their course.

But precisely at this epoch there appeared an enemy far more formidable
for the Christians than the sectaries of Zoroaster. In 622 Mahomet
founded Islamism; and some years after his death, in 638, the second of
the khalifs, his successors, Omar, sent two of his generals, Khaled and
Abou-Obeidah, to take Jerusalem. For to the Mussulmans, also, Jerusalem
was a holy city. Mahomet, it was said, had been thither; it was thence,
indeed, that he had started on his nocturnal ascent to heaven. On
approaching the walls, the Arabs repeated these words from the Koran:
"Enter we the holy land which God hath promised us." The siege lasted
four months. The Christians at last surrendered, but only to Omar in
person, who came from Medina to receive their submission. A capitulation
concluded with their patriarch, Sophronius, guaranteed them their lives,
their property, and their churches. "When the draft of the treaty was
completed, Omar said to the patriarch, 'Conduct me to the temple of
David.' Omar entered Jerusalem preceded by the patriarch, and followed
by four thousand warriors, followers of the Prophet, wearing no other
arms but their swords. Sophronius took him, first of all, to the Church
of the Resurrection. 'Be-hold,' said he, 'the temple of David.' 'Thou
sayest not true,' said Omar, after a few moments' reflection; 'the
Prophet gave me a description of the temple of David, and it tallieth not
with the building I now see.' The patriarch then conducted him to the
Church of Sion. 'Here,' said he, 'is the temple of David.' 'It is a
lie,' rejoined Omar, and went his way, directing his steps towards the
gate named Bab-Mohammed. The spot on which now stands the Mosque of Omar
was so encumbered with filth that the steps leading to the street were
covered with it, and that the rubbish reached almost to the top of the
vault. 'You can only get in here by crawling,' said the patriarch. 'Be
it so,' answered Omar. The patriarch went first; Omar, with his people,
followed; and they arrived at the space which at this day forms the
forecourt of the mosque. There every one could stand upright. After
having turned his eyes to right and left, and attentively examined the
place, 'Allah alchbar!' cried Omar; here is the temple of David,
described to me by the Prophet.'"

He found the Sakhra (the rock which forms the summit of Mount Moriah,)
and which, left alone after the different destructions of the different
temples, became the theme of a multitude of traditions and legends,
(Jewish and Mussulman) covered with filth, heaped up there by the
Christians through hatred of the Jews. "Omar spread his cloak over the
rock, and began to sweep it; and all the Mussulmans in his train followed
his example." (_Le Temple de Jerusalem,_ a monograph, pp. 73-75, by
Count Melchior de Vogue, ch. vi.) The Mosque of Omar rose up on the site
of Solomon's temple. The Christians retained the practice of their
religion in their churches, but they were obliged to conceal their
crosses and their sacred books. The bell no longer summoned the faithful
to prayer; and the pomp of ceremonies was forbidden them. It was far
worse when Omar, the most moderate of Mussulman fanatics, had left
Jerusalem. The faithful were driven from their houses, and insulted in
their churches; additions were made to the tribute they had to pay to the
new masters of Palestine; they were prohibited from carrying arms and
riding on horseback; a girdle of leather, which they might not lay aside,
was their badge of servitude; their conquerors brooked not even that the
Christians should speak the Arab tongue, reserved for disciples of the
Koran; and the Christian people of Jerusalem had not the right of
nominating their own patriarch without the intervention of the Saracens.

From the seventh to the eleventh century the situation remained very much
the same. The Mussulmans, khalifs of Egypt or Persia, continued in
possession of Jerusalem; and the Christians, native inhabitants or
foreign visitors, continued to be oppressed, harassed, and humiliated
there. At two periods their condition was temporarily better. At the
commencement of the ninth century, Charlemagne reached even there with
the greatness of his mind and of his power. "It was not only in his own
land and his own kingdom," says Eginhard, "that he scattered those
gratuitous largesses which the Greeks call alms; but beyond the seas, in
Syria, in Egypt, in Africa, at Jerusalem, at Alexandria, at Carthage,
wherever he knew that there were Christians living in poverty, he had
compassion on their misery, and he delighted to send them money." In one
of his capitularies of the year 810 we find this paragraph: "Alms to be
sent to Jerusalem to repair the churches of God." "If Charlemagne was so
careful to seek the friendship of the kings beyond the seas, it was above
all in order to obtain for the Christians living under their rule help
and relief. . . . He kept up so close a friendship with Haroun-al-
Raschid, king of Persia, that this prince preferred his good graces to
the alliance of the sovereigns of the earth. Accordingly, when the
ambassadors whom Charles had sent, with presents, to visit the sacred
tomb of our divine Saviour, and the site of the resurrection, presented
themselves before him, and expounded to him their master's wish, Haroun
did not content himself with entertaining Charles's request; he wished,
besides, to give up to him the complete proprietorship of those places
hallowed by the certification of our redemption," and he sent him, with
the most magnificent presents, the keys of the Holy Sepulchre. At the
end of the same century, another Christian sovereign, far less powerful
and less famous, John Zimisces, emperor of Constantinople, in a war
against the Mussulmans of Asia, penetrated into Galilee, made himself
master of Tiberias, Nazareth, and Mount Tabor, received a deputation
which brought him the keys of Jerusalem, "and we have placed," he says
himself, "garrisons in all the district lately subjected to our rule."
These were but strokes of foreign intervention, giving the Christians of
Jerusalem gleams of hope rather than lasting diminution of their
miseries. However, it is certain that, during this epoch, pilgrimages
multiplied, and were often accomplished without obstacle. It was from
France, England, and Italy that most of the pilgrims went, and some of
them wrote, or caused to be written, an account of their trip,--amongst
others the Italian Saint Valentine, the English Saint Willibald, and the
French Bishop Saint Arculf, who had as companion a Burgundian hermit
named Peter, a singular resemblance in quality and name to the zealous
apostle of the Crusade three centuries later. The most curious of these
narratives is that of a French monk, Bernard, a pilgrim of about the year
870. "There is at Jerusalem," says he, "a hospice where admittance is
given to all who come to visit the place for devotion's sake, and who
speak the Roman tongue; a church, dedicated to St. Mary, is hard by the
hospice, and possesseth a very noble library, which it oweth to the zeal
of the Emperor Charles the Great." This pious establishment had attached
to it fields, vineyards, and a garden situated in the valley of

But whilst there were a few isolated cases of Christians thus going to
satisfy in the East their pious and inquisitive zeal, the Mussulmans,
equally ardent as believers and as warriors, carried Westward their creed
and their arms, established themselves in Spain, penetrated to the very
heart of France, and brought on, between Islamism and Christianity, that
grand struggle in which Charles Martel gained, at Poitiers, the victory
for the Cross. It was really a definitive victory, and yet it did not
end the struggle; the Mussulmans remained masters in Spain, and continued
to infest Southern France, Italy, and Sicily, preserving even, at certain
points, posts which they used as starting-points for distant ravages.
Far then from calming down and resulting in pacific relations, the
hostility between the two races became more and more active and
determined; everywhere they opposed, fought, and oppressed one another,
inflamed one against the other by the double feelings of faith and
ambition, hatred and fear. To this general state of affairs came to be
added, about the end of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh century,
incidents best calculated to aggravate the evil. Hakem, khalif of Egypt
from 996 to 1021, persecuted the Christians, especially at Jerusalem,
with all the violence of a fanatic and all the capriciousness of a
despot. He ordered them to wear upon their necks a wooden cross five
pounds in weight; he forbade them to ride on any animal but mules or
asses; and, without assigning any motive for his acts, he confiscated
their goods and carried off their children. It was told to him one day
that, when the Christians assembled in the temple at Jerusalem to
celebrate Easter, the priests of the church rubbed balsam-oil upon the
iron chain which held up the lamp over the tomb of Christ, and afterwards
set fire, from the roof, to the end of the chain; the fire stole down to
the wick of the lamp and lighted it; then they shouted with admiration,
as if fire from heaven had come down upon the tomb, and they glorified
their faith. Hakem ordered the instant demolition of the church of the
Holy Sepulchre, and it was accordingly demolished. Another time a dead
dog had been laid at the door of a mosque; and the multitude accused the
Christians of this insult. Hakem ordered them all to be put to death.
The soldiers were preparing to execute the order when a young Christian
said to his friends, "It were too grievous that the whole Church should
perish; it were better that one should die for all; only promise to bless
my memory year by year." He proclaimed himself alone to blame for the
insult, and was accordingly alone put to death. It is from this story of
the historian William of Tyre, that Tasso, in his _Jerusalem Delivered,_
has drawn the admirable episode of Olindo and Sophronia; a fine example,
and not the only one, of an act of tyranny and an act of virtue inspiring
a great poet with the idea of a masterpiece. "All the deeds of Hakem
were without motive," says the Arab historian Makrisi, "and the dreams
suggested to him by his frenzy are incapable of reasonable

These and many other similar stories reached the West, spread amongst the
Christian people and roused them to pity for their brethren in the East
and to wrath against the oppressors. And it was at a critical period,
in the midst of the pious alarms and desires of atonement excited by the
expectation of the end of the world a thousand years after the coming of
the Lord, that the Christian population saw this way opened for
purchasing remission of their sins by delivering other Christians from
suffering, and by avenging the wrongs of their creed. On all sides arose
challenges and appeals to the warlike ardor of the faithful. The
greatest mind of the age, Gerbert, who had become Pope Sylvester II.,
constituted himself interpreter of the popular feeling. He wrote, in the
name of the Church of Jerusalem, a letter addressed to the universal
Church: "To work, then, soldier of Christ! Be our standard-bearer and
our champion! And if with arms thou canst not do so, aid us with thy
words, thy wealth. What is it, pray, that thou givest, and to whom,
pray, dost thou give? Of thine abundance thou givest a small matter, and
thou givest to Him who hath freely given thee all thou possessest; but He
will not accept freely that which thou shalt give; for he will multiply
thine offering and will pay it back to thee hereafter." Some years after
Gerbert, another great mind, the greatest among the popes of the middle
ages, Gregory VII., proclaimed an expedition, at the head of which he
would place himself, to go and deliver Jerusalem and the Christians of
the East from the insults and the tyranny of the infidels.

Such being the condition of facts and minds, pilgrimages to Jerusalem
became, from the ninth to the eleventh century, more and more numerous
and considerable. "It would never have been believed," says the
contemporary chronicler Raoul Glaber, "that the Holy Sepulchre could
attract so prodigious an influx. First the lower classes, then the
middle, afterwards the most potent kings, the counts, the marquises, the
prelates, and lastly, what had never heretofore been seen, many women,
noble or humble, undertook this pilgrimage." In 1026, William
Traillefer, count of Angouleme; in 1028, 1035, and 1039, Foulques the
Black, count of Anjou; in 1035, Robert the Magnificent, duke of Normandy,
father of William the Conqueror; in 1086, Robert the Frison, count of
Flanders; and many other great feudal lords quitted their estates, or,
rather, their states, to go and--not deliver, not conquer, but--simply
visit the Holy Land. It was not long before great numbers were joined to
great names. In 1054, Liedbert, bishop of Cambrai, started for Jerusalem
with a following of three thousand Picard or Flemish pilgrims; and in
1064, the archbishop of Mayence and the bishops of Spire, Cologne,
Bamberg, and Utrecht set out on their way from the borders of the Rhine
with more than ten thousand Christians behind them. After having passed
through Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Thrace, Constantinople, Asia Minor,
and Syria, they were attacked in Palestine by hordes of Arabs, were
forced to take refuge in the ruins of an old castle, and were reduced to
capitulation; and when at last, "preceded by the rumors of their battles
and their perils, they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received in
triumph by the patriarch, and were conducted, to the sound of timbrels
and with the flare of torches, to the church of the Holy Sepulchre. The
misery they had fallen into excited the pity of the Christians of Asia;
and, after having lost more than three thousand of their comrades, they
returned to Europe to relate their tragic adventures and the dangers of a
pilgrimage to the Holy Land." (_Histoire des Croisades,_ by M. Michaud,
t. i. p. 62.)

Amidst this agitation of Western Christendom, in 1076, two years after
Pope Gregory VII. had proclaimed his approaching expedition to the Holy
Land, news arrived in Europe to the effect that the most barbarous of
Asiatics and of Mussulmans, the Turks, after having first served and then
ruled the khalifs of Persia, and afterwards conquered the greater part of
the Persian empire, had hurled themselves upon the Greek empire, invaded
Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, and lately taken Jerusalem, where they
practised against the Christians, old inhabitants or foreign visitors,
priests and worshippers, dreadful cruelties and intolerable exactions,
worse than those of the Persian or Egyptian khalifs.

It often happens that popular emotions, however profound and general,
remain barren, just as in the vegetable world many sprouts appear at the
surface of the soil and die without having grown and fructified. It is
not sufficient for the bringing about of great events and practical
results that popular aspirations should be merely manifested; it is
necessary, further, that some great soul, some powerful will, should make
itself the organ and agent of the public sentiment, and bring it to
fecundity by becoming its personification. The Christian passion, in the
eleventh century, for the deliverance of Jerusalem and the triumph of the
Cross was fortunate in this respect. An obscure pilgrim, at first a
soldier, then a married man and father of several children, then a monk
and a vowed recluse, Peter the Hermit, who was born in the neighborhood
of Amiens, about 1030, had gone, as so many others had, to Jerusalem "to
say his prayers there." Struck disconsolate at the sight of the
sufferings and insults undergone by the Christians, he had an interview
with Simeon, patriarch of Jerusalem, who "recognizing in him a man of
discretion and full of experience in affairs of the world, set before him
in detail all the evils with which the people of God, in the holy city,
were afflicted. 'Holy father,' said Peter to him, 'if the Roman Church
and the princes of the West were informed, by a man of energy and worthy
of belief, of all your calamities, of a surety they would essay to apply
some remedy thereto by word and deed. Write, then, to our lord the pope
and to the Roman Church, and to the kings and princes of the West, and
strengthen your written testimony by the authority of your seal. As for
me, I shrink not from taking upon me a task for the salvation of my soul;
and with the help of the Lord I am ready to go and seek out all of them,
solicit them, show unto them the immensity of your troubles, and pray
them all to hasten on the day of your relief.'" The patriarch eagerly
accepted the pilgrim's offer; and Peter set out, going first of all to
Rome, where he handed to Pope Urban II. the patriarch's letters, and
commenced in that quarter his mission of zeal. The pope promised him not
only support, but active co-operation when the propitious moment for it
should arrive. Peter set to work, being still the pilgrim everywhere, in
Europe, as well as at Jerusalem. "He was a man of very small stature,
and his outside made but a very poor appearance; yet superior powers
swayed this miserable body; he had a quick intellect and a penetrating
eye, and he spoke with ease and fluency. . . . We saw him at that
time," says his contemporary Guibert de Nogent, "scouring city and town,
and preaching everywhere; the people crowded round him, heaped presents
upon him, and celebrated his sanctity by such great praises that I
remember not that like honor was ever rendered to any other person. He
displayed great generosity in the disposal of all things that were given
him. He restored wives to their husbands, not without the addition of
gifts from himself, and he re-established, with marvellous authority,
peace and good understanding between those who had been at variance. In
all that he did or said he seemed to have in him something divine,
insomuch that people went so far as to pluck hairs from his mule to keep
as relics. In the open air he wore a woollen tunic, and over it a serge
cloak which came down to his heels; he had his arms and feet bare; he ate
little or no bread, and lived chiefly on wine and fish."

In 1095, after the preaching errantry of Peter the Hermit, Pope Urban II.
was at Clermont, in Auvergne, presiding at the grand council, at which
thirteen archbishops and two hundred and five bishops or abbots were met
together, with so many princes and lay-lords, that "about the middle of
the month of November the towns and the villages of the neighborhood were
full of people, and divers were constrained to have their tents and
pavilions set up amidst the fields and meadows, notwithstanding that the
season and the country were cold to an extreme." The first nine sessions
of the council were devoted to the affairs of the Church in the West; but
at the tenth Jerusalem and the Christians of the East became the subject
of deliberation. The Pope went out of the church wherein the Council was
assembled and mounted a platform erected upon a vast open space in the
midst of the throng. Peter the Hermit, standing at his side, spoke
first, and told the story of his sojourn at Jerusalem, all he had seen of
the miseries and humiliations of the Christians, and all he himself had
suffered there, for he had been made to pay tribute for admission into
the Holy City, and for gazing upon the spectacle of the exactions,
insults, and tortures he was recounting. After him Pope Urban II.
spoke, in the French tongue, no doubt, as Peter had spoken, for he was
himself a Frenchman, as the majority of those present were, grandees and
populace. He made a long speech, entertaining upon the most painful
details connected with the sufferings of the Christians of Jerusalem,
"that royal city which the Redeemer of the human race had made
illustrious by His coming, had honored by His residence, had hallowed by
His passion, had purchased by His death, had distinguished by His burial.
She now demands of you her deliverance . . . men of France, men from
beyond the mountains, nations chosen and beloved of God, right valiant
knights, recall the virtues of your ancestors, the virtue and greatness
of King Charlemagne and your other kings; it is from you above all that
Jerusalem awaits the help she invokes, for to you, above all nations,
God has vouchsafed signal glory in arms. Take ye, then, the road to
Jerusalem for the remission of your sins, and depart assured of the
imperishable glory which awaits you in the kingdom of heaven."

From the midst of the throng arose one prolonged and general shout, "God
willeth it! God willeth it!" The Pope paused for a moment; and then,
making a sign with his hand as if to ask for silence, he continued, "If
the Lord God were not in your souls, ye would not all have uttered the
same words. In the battle, then, be those your war-cry, those words that
came from God; in the army of the Lord let nought be heard but that one
shout, 'God willeth it! God willeth it!' We ordain not, and we advise
not, that the journey be undertaken by the old or the weak, or such as be
not suited for arms, and let not women set out without their husbands or
their brothers; let the rich help the poor; nor priests nor clerks may go
without the leave of their bishops; and no layman shall commence the
march save with the blessing of his pastor. Whosoever hath a wish to
enter upon this pilgrimage, let him wear upon his brow or his breast the
cross of the Lord, and let him, who, in accomplishment of his desire,
shall be willing to march away, place the cross behind him, between his
shoulders; for thus he will fulfil the precept of the Lord, who said,
'He that doth not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me.'"

[Illustration: "God willeth it!"----383]

The enthusiasm was general and contagious, as the first shout of the
crowd had been; and a pious prelate, Adhemar, bishop of Puy, was the
first to receive the cross from the Pope's hands. It was of red cloth or
silk, sewn upon the right shoulder of the coat or cloak, or fastened on
the front of the helmet. The crowd dispersed to assume it and spread it.

Religious enthusiasm was not the only, but the first and the determining
motive of the crusade. It is to the honor of humanity, and especially to
the honor of the French nation, that it is accessible to the sudden sway
of a moral and disinterested sentiment, and resolves, without prevision
as well as without premeditation, upon acts which decide, for many a long
year, the course and the fate of a generation, and, it may be, of a whole
people. We have seen in our own day, in the conduct of populace,
national assemblies, and armies, under the impulse not any longer of
religious feeling, but of political and social agitation, France thus
giving herself up to the rush of sentiments, generous indeed and pure,
but without the least forecast touching the consequences of the ideas
which inspired them or the acts which they entailed. It is with nations
as with armies; the side of glory is that of danger; and great works are
wrought at a heavy cost, not only of happiness, but also of virtue. It
would be wrong, nevertheless, to lack respect for and to speak evil of
enthusiasm: it not only bears witness to the grandeur of human nature, it
justly holds its place and exercises its noble influence in the course of
the great events which move across the scene of human errors and vices,
according to the vast and inscrutable design of trod. It is quite
certain that the crusaders of the eleventh century, in their haste to
deliver Jerusalem from the Mussulmans, were far from foreseeing that, a
few centuries after their triumph, Jerusalem and the Christian East would
fall again beneath the yoke of the Mussulmans and their barbaric
stagnation; and this future, had they caught but a glimpse of it, would
doubtless have chilled their zeal. But it is not a whit the less certain
that, in view of the end, their labor was not in vain; for, in the
panorama of the world's history, the crusades marked the date of the
arrest of Islamism, and powerfully contributed to the decisive
preponderance of Christian civilization.

[Illustration: The Four Leaders of the First Crusade----385]

To religious enthusiasm there was joined another motive less
disinterested, but natural and legitimate, which was the still very vivid
recollection of the evils caused to the Christians of the West by the
Mussulman invasions in Spain, France, and Italy, and the fear of seeing
them begin again. Instinctively war was carried to the East to keep it
from the West, just as Charlemagne had invaded and conquered the country
of the Saxons to put an end to their inroads upon the Franks. And this
prudent plan availed not only to give the Christians of the West a hope
of security, it afforded them the pleasure of vengeance. They were about
to pay back alarm for alarm, and evil for evil, to the enemy from whom
they had suffered in the same way; hatred and pride, as well as piety,
obtained satisfaction.

There is moreover great motive power in a spirit of enterprise and a
taste for adventure. Care-for-nothingness is one of man-kind's chief
diseases, and if it plays so conspicuous a part in comparatively
enlightened and favored communities, amidst the labors and the enjoyments
of an advanced civilization, its influence was certainly not less in
times of intellectual sloth and harshly monotonous existence. To escape
therefrom, to satisfy in some sort the energy and curiosity inherent in
man, the people of the eleventh century had scarcely any resource but
war, with its excitement and distant excursions into unknown regions.
Thither rushed the masses of the people, whilst the minds which were
eager, above everything, for intellectual movement and for knowledge,
thronged, on the mountain of St. Genevieve, to the lectures of Abelard.
Need of variety and novelty, and an instinctive desire to extend their
views and enliven their existence, probably made as many crusaders as the
feeling against the Mussulmans and the promptings of piety.

[Illustration: Crusaders on the March----386]

The Council of Clermont, at its closing on the 28th of November, 1095,
had fixed the month of August in the following year, and the feast of the
Assumption, for the departure of the crusaders for the Holy Land; but the
people's impatience did not brook this waiting, short as it was in view
of the greatness and difficulties of the enterprise. As early as the 8th
of March, 1096, and in the course of the spring three mobs rather than
armies set out on the crusade, with a strength, it is said, of eighty or
one hundred thousand persons in one case, and of fifteen or twenty
thousand in the other two. Persons, not men, for there were amongst them
many women and children, whole families, in fact, who had left their
villages, without organization and without provisions, calculating that
they would be competent to find their own way, and that He who feeds the
young ravens would not suffer to die of want pilgrims wearing His cross.
Whenever, on their road, a town came in sight, the children asked if that
were Jerusalem. The first of these mobs had for its head Peter the
Hermit himself, and a Burgundian knight called Walter _Havenought_; the
second had a German priest named Gottschalk; and the third a Count Emico,
of Leiningen, potent in the neighborhood of Mayence. It is wrong to call
them heads, for they were really nothing of the kind; their authority was
rejected, at one time as tyrannical, at another as useless. "The
grasshoppers," was the saying amongst them in the words of Solomon's
proverbs, "have no king, and yet they go in companies." In crossing
Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the provinces of the Greek empire, these
companies, urged on by their brutal passions or by their necessities and
material wants, abandoned themselves to such irregularities that, as they
went, princes and peoples, instead of welcoming them as Christians, came
to treat them as enemies, of whom it was necessary to get rid at any
price. Peter the Hermit and Gottschalk made honorable and sincere
efforts to check the excesses of their following, which were a source of
so much danger; but Count Emico, on the contrary, says William of Tyre,
"himself took part in the plunder, and incited his comrades to crime."
Thus, at one time taking the offensive, at another compelled to defend
themselves against the attacks of the justly irritated inhabitants, these
three immense companies of pilgrims, these disorderly volunteers, with
great difficulty arrived, after enormous losses, at the gates of
Constantinople. Either through fear or through pity, the Greek emperor,
Alexis (or Alexius) Comnenus, permitted them to pitch their camp there;
"but before long, plenty, idleness, and the sight of the riches of
Constantinople brought once more into the camp license, indiscipline, and
a thirst after brigandage. Whilst awaiting the war against the
Mussulmans, the pilgrims pillaged the houses, the palaces, and even the
churches in the outskirts of Byzantium. To deliver his capital from
these destructive guests, Alexis furnished them with vessels, and got
them shipped off across the Bosphorus."

[Illustration: The Assault on St. Jean d'Acre----386]

Whilst the crusade was commencing under these sad auspices, chieftains of
more sense and better obeyed were preparing to give it another character
and superior fortunes. Two great and real armies were forming in the
north, the centre, and the south of France, and a third in Italy, amongst
the Norman knights who had founded there the kingdom of Naples and
Sicily, just before their countryman, William the Bastard, conquered
England. The first of these armies had for its chief, Godfrey de
Bouillon, duke of Lorraine, whom all his contemporaries have described as
the model of a gallant and pious knight. He was the son of Eustace II.,
count of Boulogne, and "the lustre of nobility," says Raoul of Caen,
chronicler of his times, "was enhanced in his case by the splendor of the
most exalted virtues, as well in affairs of the world as of heaven. As
to the latter, he distinguished himself by his generosity towards the
poor, and his pity for those who had committed faults. Furthermore, his
humility, his extreme gentleness, his moderation, his justice, and his
chastity were great; he shone as a light amongst the monks, even more
than as a duke amongst the knights. And, nevertheless, he could also do
the things which are of this world, fight, marshal the ranks, and extend
by arms the domains of the Church. In his boyhood he learned to be
first, or one of the first, to strike the foe; in youth he made it his
habitual practice; and in advancing age he forgot it never. He was so
perfectly the son of the warlike Count Eustace, and of his mother, Ida de
Bouillon, a woman full of piety, and versed in literature, that at sight
of him even a rival would have been forced to say of him, 'For zeal in
war, behold his father; for serving God, behold his mother.' The second
army, consisting chiefly of crusaders from Southern France, marched under
the orders of Raymond IV., count of Toulouse, the oldest chieftain of the
crusade, who still, however, united the ardor of youth with the
experience of ripe age and the stubbornness of the graybeard. At the
side of the Cid he had fought, and more than once beaten the Moors in
Spain. He took with him to the East his third wife, Elvira, daughter of
Alphonso VI., king of Castile, as well as a very young child he had by
her, and he had made a vow, which he fulfilled, that he would return no
more to his country, and would fight the infidels to the end of his days,
in expiation of his sins. He was discreet though haughty, and not only
the richest but the most economical of the crusader-chiefs:
"Accordingly," says Raoul of Caen, "when all the rest had spent their
money, the riches of Count Raymond made him still more distinguished.
The people of Provence, who formed his following, did not lavish their
resources, but studied economy even more than glory," and "his army,"
adds Guibert of Nogent, "showed no inferiority to any other, save so far
as it is possible to reproach the inhabitants of Provence touching their
excessive loquacity."

Bohemond, prince of Tarento, commanded the third army, composed
principally of Italians and warriors of various origins come to Italy to
share in the exploits and fortunes of his father, the celebrated Robert
Guiscard, founder of the Norman kingdom of Naples, who was at one time
the foe, and at another the defender, of Pope Gregory VII., and who died
in the island of Cephalonia just as he was preparing to attempt the
conquest of Constantinople. Bohemond had neither less ambition nor less
courage and ability than his father. "His appearance," says Anna
Comnena, "impressed the eye as much as his reputation astounded the mind;
his height surpassed that of all his comrades; his blue eyes gleamed
readily with pride and anger; when he spoke you would have said he had
made eloquence his study; and when he showed himself in armor, you might
have believed that he had never done aught but handle lance and sword.
Brought up in the school of Norman heroes, be concealed calculations of
policy beneath the exterior of force, and, although he was of a haughty
disposition, he knew how to be blind to a wrong when there was nothing to
be gained by avenging it. He had learned from his father to regard as
foes all whose dominions and riches he coveted; and he was not restrained
by fear of God, or by man's opinions, or by his own oaths. It was not
the deliverance of the tomb of Christ which fired his zeal or decided him
upon taking up the cross; but, as he had vowed eternal enmity to the
Greek emperors, he smiled at the idea of traversing their empire at the
head of an army, and, full of confidence in his fortunes, he hoped to
make for himself a kingdom before arriving at Jerusalem."

Bohemond had as friend and faithful comrade his cousin Tancred de
Hauteville, great-grandson, through his mother, Emma, of Robert Guiscard,
and, according to all his contemporaries, the type of a perfect Christian
knight, neither more nor less. "From his boyhood," says Raoul of Caen,
his servitor before becoming his biographer, "he surpassed the young by
his skill in the management of arms, and the old by the strictness of his
morals. He disdained to speak ill of whoever it might be, even when ill
had been spoken of himself. About himself he would say nought, but he
had an insatiable desire to give cause for talking thereof. Glory was
the only passion that moved that young soul; yet was it disquieted within
him, and he suffered great anxiety from thinking that his knightly
combats seemed contrary to the precepts of the Lord. The Lord bids us
give our coat and our cloak to him who would take them from us; whereas
the knight's part is to strip all that remains from him from whom he hath
already taken his coat and his cloak. These contradictory principles
benumbed sometimes the courage of this man so full of propriety; but when
the declaration of Pope Urban had assured remission of all their sins to
all Christians who should go and fight the Gentiles, then Tancred awoke
in some sort from his dream, and this new opportunity fired him with a
zeal which cannot be expressed. He therefore made preparations for his
departure; but, accustomed from his infancy to give to others before
thinking of himself, he entered upon no great outlay, but contented
himself with collecting in sufficient quantity knightly arms, horses,
mules, and provisions necessary for his company."

With these four chieftains, who have remained illustrious in history,--
that grave wherein small reputations are extinguished,--were associated,
for the deliverance of the Holy Land, a throng of feudal lords, some
powerful as well as valiant, others valiant but simple knights; Hugh,
count of Vermaudois, brother of Philip I., king of France; Robert of
Normandy, called Shorthose, son of William the Conqueror; Robert, count
of Flanders; Stephen, count of Blois; Raimbault, count of Orange;
Baldwin, count of Hainault; Raoul of Beaugency; Gerard of Roussillon, and
many others whose names contemporary chroniclers and learned moderns have
gathered together. Not one of the reigning sovereigns of Europe, kings
or emperors, of France, England, Spain, or Germany, took part in the
first crusade. It was the feudal nation, great and small, castle owners
and populace, who rose in mass for the deliverance of Jerusalem and the
honor of Christendom.

These three great armies of crusaders got on the march from August to
October, 1096, wending their way, Godfrey de Bouillon by Germany,
Hungary, and Bulgaria; Bohemond by the south of Italy and the
Mediterranean; and Count Raymond of Toulouse by Northern Italy, Friuli,
and Dalmatia. They arrived one after the other in the empire of the East
and at the gates of Constantinople. Godfrey de Bouillon was the first to
appear there, and the Emperor Alexis Comnenus learned with dismay that
other armies of crusaders would soon follow that which was already so
large. It was not long before Bohemond and Raymond appeared. Alexis

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