The next sister was the Atheliza of the family, but her name was either Elfgiva or Agatha. She enjoys the distinction of being the only female portrait in her mother's tapestry—except a poor woman escaping from a sacked town. She stands under a gateway, while Harold is riding forth with her father, in witness, perhaps, of her having been betrothed to Harold; or perhaps Matilda felt a mother's yearning to commemorate the first of her flock who had been laid in the grave, for Elfgiva died a short time after the contract, which Harold would hardly have fulfilled, since he had at least one wife already at home.
Her sister, Matilda, promoted to be Adeliza, was betrothed to another Saxon, the graceful and beautiful Edwin, whom she loved with great ardor, through all his weak conduct toward her father. After his untimely end, she was promised to Alfonso I. of Castile, but she could not endure to give her heart to another; she wept and prayed continually, but in vain as far as her father was concerned. She was sent off on her journey, but died on the way; and then it was that the poor girl's knees were found to be hardened by her constant kneeling to implore the pity that assuredly was granted to her.
Constance married Alain Fergeant, a brother of the Duke of Brittany, and an adventurer in the Norman invasion. He was presented with the Earldom of Richmond, in Yorkshire; and as his son became afterward Duke of Brittany, this appanage frequently gave title to younger brothers in the old Armorican Duchy. That son was not born of Constance; she fell into a languishing state of health, and died, four years after her marriage. Report said that her husband's vassals found her so harsh and rigorous, that they poisoned her; and considering what her brothers were, it is not unlikely.
Of the Adela who married that accomplished prince, Stephen, Count de Blois, there will be more to say; and as to Gundred, the wife of Earl Warenne, it is a doubtful question whether she was a daughter of William and Matilda. Her tomb was lately found in Isfield Church, Sussex; but though it has an inscription praising her virtues, it says nothing of her royal birth.
The sons of William left far more distinct and undesirable traces of themselves than their sisters. Robert was probably the eldest of the whole family, and he was his mother's favorite, like most eldest sons. He did not inherit the stately height of the Norman princes, and, from his short, sturdy form, early acquired the nickname of Courtheuse, by which he was distinguished among the swarms of other Roberts. Much pains was bestowed on his instruction, and that of his brothers, Richard and William, by the excellent Lanfranc, and they all had great abilities; but there were influences at work among the fierce Norman lads that rendered the holy training of the good abbot wholly ineffectual. Their father, conscious of his own defective right to the ducal rank, lost no opportunity of binding his vassals to swear fealty not only to himself, but his eldest son; and from Robert's infancy he had learnt to hold out his hand, and hear the barons declare themselves his men. When the Duke set out on his conquest of England, he caused the oath to be renewed to Robert, and he at the same time showed his love for William, then the youngest, by having him, with his long red hair floating, carved, blowing a horn, at the figure-head of the Mora.
Soon after the Conquest, when Matilda had lately been crowned Queen of England, the fourth son, Henry, was born. He had much more personal beauty and height than the other brothers, and there was always an idea floating that the son born when his father was king had a right over his elder brethren, and thus Henry was always an object of jealousy to his brothers. Passionately fond of the few books he could obtain, he was called Beauclerc, or the fine scholar; and whilst as little restrained by real principle as his brothers, he was able to preserve a decorum and self-command that kept him in better reputation.
The second brother, Richard, however, had no opportunity of showing his character. He died in the New Forest, either from a blow on the head from a branch of a tree, or from a fever caught in the marshes, and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. Perhaps the doom came on him in innocent youth, "because there was some good thing in him."
In 1075, when Robert must have been a man some years over twenty, Henry a boy of nine, and William probably twelve or fourteen, they all three accompanied their father into Normandy, and were there in the fortress of Aquila, or Aigle, so called because there had been an eagle's nest in the oak-tree close to the site of the castle. Robert was in a discontented mood. The numerous occasions on which he had received the homage of the Normans made him fancy he ought to have the rule in the duchy; his mother's favoritism had fostered his ill-feeling, and he was becoming very jealous of red-haired William, who from his quickness, daring, and readiness had become his father's favorite; and though under restraint in the Conqueror's presence, was no doubt outrageously boisterous, insolent, and presuming in his absence; and Henry, the fine scholar, his companion and following his lead, secretly despised both his elders.
Robert's lodging was suddenly invaded by the two wild lads and their attendants. Finding themselves no better welcomed or amused than rude boys are wont to be by young men, they betook themselves to an upper room, the floor of which was formed by ill-laid, gaping planks, which were the ceiling of that below. Here they began to play at dice; they soon grew even more intolerably uproarious, and in the coarse of their quarrelsome, boisterous tricks, overthrew a vessel of dirty water, which began to drip through the interstices of the planks on their brother and his friends below—an accident sure to be welcomed by a hoarse laugh by the rough boys, but appearing to the victims beneath a deliberate insult. "Are you a man not to avenge this shameful insolence?" cried Robert's friends, Alberic and Ivo de Grantmesnil. In a fury of passion, Robert rushed after the lads with his sword drawn, and King William was roused from his sleep to hear that Lord Robert was murdering his brothers.
The passion and violence of the elder son had the natural effect of making the father take the part of the younger ones, and Robert was so much incensed, that he rode off with his friends, and, collecting partisans as he went, attacked Rouen.
He was of course repulsed, and many of his followers were made prisoners. He held out in the border counties for a little while, but all his supporters were gained from him by his father, and he at length came back to court, and appeared reconciled. There, however, he had nothing to do, and all the licentious and disaffected congregated round him; he idled away half his time, and revelled the rest, and his pretensions magnified themselves all the time in his fancy, till at last he was stimulated to demand of his father the cession of Normandy, as a right confirmed to him by the French king.
William replied by a lecture on disobedience, citing as examples of warning all the Absaloms of history; but Robert fiercely answered, that he had not come to listen to a sermon; he was sick of hearing all this from his teachers, and he would have his answer touching his claim to Normandy.
The answer he got was, "It is not my custom to lay aside my clothes till I go to bed."
It sent him off in a rage, with all his crew of dissolute followers. He went first to his uncle in Flanders, then to Germany and Italy, always penniless from his lavish habits, though his mother often sent him supplies of money by a trusty messenger, called Samson le Breton. However, the King found him out, and reproached Matilda angrily; but she made answer, "If Robert, my son, were buried seven feet under ground, and I could bring him to life again by my heart's blood, how gladly would I give it!" The implacable William commanded Samson to be blinded, but he escaped to the monastery of St. Everard, and there became a monk.
Returning, Robert presented himself to King Philippe of France, who was glad to annoy his overgrown vassal by patronizing the rebellious son, and accordingly placed Robert in the Castle of Gerberoi, where he might best be a thorn in his father's side. There William besieged him, bringing the two younger sons with him, though Henry was but twelve years old. For three weeks there was sharp fighting; and, finally, a battle, in which the younger William was wounded, and the elder, cased in his full armor of chain mail, encountered unknowingly with Robert, in the like disguising hawberk. The Conqueror's horse was killed; his esquire, an Englishman, in bringing him another, was slain; and he himself received a blow which caused such agony that he could not repress a shriek of pain. Robert knew his voice, and, struck with remorse, immediately lifted him up, offered him his own horse, and assured him of his ignorance of his person; but William, smarting and indignant, vouchsafed no answer, and while the son returned to his castle, the father went back to his camp, which he broke up the next day, and returned to Rouen.
Robert seems to have been a favorite with the lawless Normans, who writhed under the mighty hand of his father, and on their interference, backed by that of the French king and the Pope, brought about a reconciliation in name. The succession of Normandy was again secured to Robert, but therewith he was laid under a curse by his angry father, whose face he never saw again.
Other troubles thickened on William. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, the bold, rough, jovial half-brother, whom he had trusted and loved, was reported to be full of mischievous plots. He seems to have been told by diviners that the next Pope was to be named Odo, and, to secure the fulfilment of the augury, he was sending bribes to Rome, and at the same time collecting a great body of troops with whom to fight his way thither. He was in the Isle of Wight, preparing to carry his forces to Normandy, when William pounced, on him, and ordered him back again. It is not clear whether he wished to prevent the scandal to the Church, or whether he suspected this army of Odo's of being intended to support Robert against himself; but, at any rate, he made bitter complaint before the council of the way he had been treated by son, brother, and peer, and sentenced Odo to imprisonment. No one would touch the Bishop, and William was obliged to seize him himself, answering, to Odo's appeal to his inviolable orders, "I judge not the Bishop, but my Earl and Treasurer."
Another grief befell him in 1083, in the death of Matilda, who, it was currently believed, pined away with grief at his fury against her beloved first-born—anger that his affection for her could not mitigate, though he loved her so tenderly that his great heart almost broke at her death, and he never was the same man during the four years that he survived her.
His health began to break; he had grown large and unwieldy, but his spirit was as fiery as ever, and wherever there was war, there was he. At last, in 1087, there was an insurrection at Mantes, supported by King Philippe. William complained, but received no redress. Rude, scornful jests were reported to him, and the savage part of his nature was aroused.
Always, hitherto, he had shown great forbearance in abstaining from direct warfare on his suzerain, much as Philippe had often provoked him, but his patience was exhausted, and he armed himself for a deadly vengeance.
His own revolted town of Mantes was the first object of his fury. It was harvest-time, and the crops and vineyards were mercilessly trodden down. The inhabitants sallied out, hoping to save their corn; but the ruthless king made his way into the city, and there caused house, convent, and church alike to suffer plunder and fire, riding about himself directing the work of destruction. The air was flame above, the ground was burning hot beneath. His horse stumbled with pain and fright; and the large, heavy body of the king fell forward on the high steel front of the saddle, so as to be painfully and internally injured. He was carried back to Rouen, but the noise, bustle, and heat of the city were intolerable to him, and, with the restlessness of a dying man, he caused himself to be carried to the convent of St. Gervais, on a hill above the town; but he there found no relief. He felt his time was come, and sent for his sons, William and Henry.
The mighty man's agony was a terrible one. "No tongue can tell," said he, "the deeds of wickedness I have wrought during my weary pilgrimage of toil and care." He tried to weigh against these his good actions, his churches and convents, his well-chosen bishops, his endeavors to act uprightly and justly; but finding little comfort in these, he bewailed his own destiny, and how his very birth had forced him into bloodshed, and driven him to violence, even in his youth.
The presence of his sons brought back his mind from the thought of his condition, to that of the disposal of the lands which had become to him merely a load of thick clay smeared with blood. Normandy, he said, must be Robert's; but he groaned at the thought of the misery preparing for his native land. "Wretched," he said, "must be the country under Robert's rule; but he has received the homage of the barons, and the grant once made can never be revoked. To England I dare appoint no heir. Let Him in whose hands are all things, provide according to His will."
This was his first feeling, but when he saw William's disappointment, he added, that he hoped the choice of the English might fall on his obedient son.
"And what do you give me, father?" broke in Henry.
"A treasure of 5,000 pounds of silver," was the answer.
"What good will the treasure do me," cried Henry, "if I have neither land, nor house, nor home?"
"Take comfort, my son," said his father; "it may be that one day thou shalt be greater than all."
These words he spoke in the spirit of foreboding, no doubt perceiving in Henry a sagacity and self-command which in the struggle of life was certain to give him the advantage of his elder brothers; but then, alarmed lest what he had said might be construed as acknowledging Henry's superior claim as having been born a king's son, he felt it needful to back up Rufus's claim, and bade a writ be prepared commanding Lanfranc to crown William King of England. Affixing his signet, he kissed and blessed his favorite, and sent him off at once to secure the English throne. Henry, too, hurried away to secure his 5,000 pounds, and the dying man was left alone, struggling between terror and hope.
He left sums of money for alms, masses, and prayers; and as an act of forgiveness, released his captives—Earl Morcar, Ulfnoth, the unfortunate hostage, Siward, and Roger de Breteuil, and all the rest; but he long excepted his brother Odo, and only granted his liberation on the earnest persuasion of the other brother, the Count of Mortagne.
He slept uneasily at night, awoke when the bells were ringing for lauds, lifted up his hands in prayer, and breathed his last on the 8th of September, 1087.
His sons were gone, his attendants took care of themselves, his servants plundered the chamber and bed, and cast on the floor uncovered the mortal remnant of their once dreaded master. And though the clergy soon recollected themselves, and attended to the obsequies of their benefactor, carrying the corpse to his own Abbey at Caen, yet even there, as has already been said, the cry of the despoiled refused to the Conqueror even the poor boon of a grave.
THE CROWN AND THE MITRE.
Kings of England. 1087. William II. 1100. Henry I.
King of France. 1059. Philippe I.
Emperors of Germany. 1080. Heinrich IV. 1105. Heinrich V.
Popes of Rome. 1066. Victor III. 1073. Gregory VII. 1088. Urban II. 1099. Paschal II.
Great struggles took place in the eleventh century, between the spiritual and temporal powers. England was the field of one branch of the combat, between Bishop and King; but this cannot be properly understood without reference to the main conflict in Italy, between Pope and Emperor.
The Pope, which word signifies Father, or Patriarch, of Rome, had from the Apostolic times been always elected, like all other bishops, by the general consent of the flock, both clergy and people; and, after the conversion of Constantine, the Emperor, as first lay member of the Church, of course had a powerful voice in the election, could reject any person of whom he disapproved, or nominate one whom he desired to see chosen, though still subject to the approval of clergy and people.
This power was, however, seldom exercised by the emperors at Rome, after the seat of empire had been transferred to Constantinople, and their power over Italy was diminishing through their own weakness and the German conquests. The election continued in the hands of the Romans, and in general, at this time, their choice was well-bestowed; the popes were, many of them, saintly men, and, by their wisdom and authority, often guarded Rome from the devastations with which it was threatened by the many barbarous nations who invaded Italy. So it continued until Pope Zaccaria quarrelled with Astolfo, King of Lombardy, and summoned the Carlovingian princes from France to protect him. These Italian wars resulted in Charles-le-Magne taking for himself the crown of Lombardy, and in his being chosen Roman Emperor of the West, by the citizens of Rome, under the influence of the Pope; while he, on his side, conferred on the pope temporal powers such as none of his predecessors had enjoyed.
From thenceforth the theory was, that the Pope was head of the Western Church, with archbishops, bishops, clergy, and laity, in regular gradations under him; while the Emperor was in like manner head of the State, kings, counts, barons, and peasants, in different orders below him; the Church ruling the souls, the State the bodies of men, and the two chieftains working hand in hand, each bearing a mission from above; the Emperor, as a layman, owning himself inferior to the Pope, yet the Pope acknowledging the temporal power of the crowned monarch.
This was a grand theory, but it fell grievously short in the practice. The city of Rome, with its worn-out civilization, was a most corrupt place; and now that the Papacy conferred the highest dignity and influence, it began to be sought by very different men, and by very different means, from those that had heretofore prevailed. Bribery and every atrocious influence swayed the elections, and the wickedness of some of the popes is almost incredible. At last the emperors interfered to check the dreadful crimes and profanity at Rome, and thus the nomination of the Pope fell absolutely into their hands, and was taken from the Romans, to whom it belonged.
In the earlier part of the eleventh century, a deacon of Rome, named Hildebrand, formed the design of freeing the See of St. Peter from the subjection of the emperors, and at the same time of saving it from the disgraceful power of the populace. The time was favorable, for the Emperor, Henry IV., was a child, and the Pope, Stephen II., was ready to forward all Hildebrand's views.
In the year 1059 was held the famous Lateran Council [Footnote: So called from being convoked in the Church at the Lateran gate, on the spot where St. John was miraculously preserved from the boiling oil.] of the Roman clergy, in which it was enacted, that no benefice should be received from the hands of any layman, but that all bishops should be chosen by the clergy of the diocese; and though they in many cases held part of the royal lands, they were by no means to receive investiture from the sovereign, nor to pay homage. The tokens of investiture were the pastoral staff, fashioned like a shepherd's crook, and the ring by which the Bishop was wedded to his See, and these were to be no longer taken from the monarch's hands. The choice of the popes was given to the seventy cardinal or principal clergy of the diocese, who were chiefly the ministers of the different parish churches, and in their hands it has remained ever since.
Hildebrand himself was elected Pope in 1073, and took the name of Gregory VII. He bore the brunt of the battle by which it was necessary to secure the privileges he had asserted for the clergy. Henry IV. of Germany was a violent man, and a furious struggle took place. The Emperor took it on himself to depose the Pope, the Pope at the same time sentenced the Emperor to abstain from the exercise of his power, and his subject; elected another prince in his stead.
At one time Gregory compelled Henry to come barefooted to implore absolution; at another, Henry besieged Rome, and Gregory was only rescued from him by the Normans of Apulia, and was obliged to leave Rome, and retire under their protection to Apulia, where he died in 1085, after having devoted his whole life to the fulfilment of his great project of making the powers of this world visibly submit themselves to the dominion of the Church.
The strife did not end with Gregory's death. Henry IV. was indeed dethroned by his wicked son, but no sooner did this very son, Henry V., come to the crown, than he struggled with the Pope as fiercely as his father had done.
It was not till after this great war in Germany that the question began in any great degree to affect England. Archbishop Lanfranc, as an Italian, thought and felt with Gregory VII.; and the Normans, both here and in Italy, were in general the Pope's best friends; so that, though William the Conqueror refused to make oath to become the warrior of the Pope, Church affairs in general made no great stir in his lifetime, and the question was not brought to issue.
The face of affairs was, however, greatly changed by the death of the Conqueror in 1087. William Rufus was a fierce, hot-tempered man, without respect for religion, delighting in revelry, and in being surrounded with boisterous, hardy soldiers, whom he paid lavishly, though at the same time he was excessively avaricious.
He had made large promises of privileges to the Saxons, in order to obtain their support in case his elder brother Robert had striven to assert his claims; but all these were violated, and when Lanfranc remonstrated, he scoffingly asked whether the Archbishop fancied a king could keep all his promises.
Lanfranc had been his tutor, had conferred on him the order of knighthood and had hitherto exercised some degree of salutary influence over him; but seeing all his efforts in vain, he retired to Canterbury, and there died on the 24th of May, 1089.
Then, indeed, began evil days for the Church of England. William seized all the revenues of the See of Canterbury, and kept them in his own hands, instead of appointing a successor to Lanfranc, and he did the same with almost every other benefice that fell vacant, so that at one period he thus was despoiling all at once—the archbishopric, four bishops' sees, and thirteen abbeys. At the same time, the miseries he inflicted on the country were dreadful; his father's cruel forest laws were enforced with double rigor, and the oppression of the Saxons was terrible, for they were absolutely without the least protection from any barbarities his lawless soldiery chose to inflict upon them. Every oppressive baron wreaked his spite against his neighbors with impunity, and Ivo Taillebois [Footnote: See "The Camp of Refuge."] was not long in showing his malice, as usual, against Croyland Abbey.
A fire had accidentally broken out which consumed all the charters, except some which were fortunately in another place, where they had been set aside by Abbot Ingulf, that the younger monks might learn to read the old Saxon character, and among these was happily the original grant of the lands of Turketyl, signed by King Edred, and further confirmed by the great seal of William I.
Ivo Taillebois, hearing of the fire, and trusting that all the parchments had been lost together, sent a summons to the brethren to produce the deeds by which they held their lands. They despatched a lay brother called Trig to Spalding, with Turketyl's grant under his charge. The Normans glanced over it, and derided it. "Such barbarous writings," they said, "could do nothing;" but when Trig produced the huge seal, with William the Conqueror's effigy, still more "stark" and rigid than Sir Ivo had known him in his lifetime, there was no disputing its validity, and the court of Spalding was baffled. However, Taillebois sent some of his men to waylay the poor monk, and rob him of his precious parchment, intending then again to require the brotherhood to prove their rights by its production; but brother Trig seems to have been a wary man, and, returning by a by-path, avoided pursuit, and brought the charter safely home. A short time after, Ivo offended the king, and was banished, much to the joy of the Fen country.
Rapine and oppression were in every corner of England and Normandy, the two brothers Robert and William setting the example by stripping their youngest brother, Henry, of the castle he had purchased with his father's legacy. One knight, two squires, and a faithful chaplain, alone would abide by the fortunes of the landless prince. The chaplain, Roger le Poer, had been chosen by Henry, for a reason from which no one could have expected the fidelity he showed his prince in his misfortunes, nor his excellent conduct afterward when sharing the prosperity of his master. He was at first a poor parish priest of Normandy, and Henry, chancing to enter his church, found him saying mass so quickly, that, quite delighted, the prince exclaimed, "Here's a priest for me!" and immediately took him into his service. Nevertheless, Roger le Poer was an excellent adviser, an upright judge, and a good bishop. It was he who commenced the Cathedral of Salisbury, where it now stands, removing it from the now deserted site of Old Sarum.
Robert had not added much to the tranquillity of the country by releasing his uncle, the turbulent old Bishop Odo, who was continually raising quarrels between him and William. Odo's old friend, Earl Hugh the Wolf, of Chester, [Footnote: See the "Camp of Refuge."] was at this time better employed than most of the Norman nobles. He was guarding the frontier against the Welsh, and at the same time building the heavy red stone pile which is now the Cathedral of Chester, and which he intended as the Church of a monastery of Benedictines. Fierce old Hugh was a religious man, and had great reverence and affection for one of the persons in all the world most unlike himself—Anselm, the Abbot of Bec.
Anselm was born at Aosta, in Piedmont, of noble parents, and was well brought up by his pious mother, Ermengarde, under whose influence he applied himself to holy learning, and was anxious to embrace a religious life. She died when he was fifteen years of age, and his father was careless and harsh. Anselm lost his love for study, and fell into youthful excesses, but in a short time her good lessons returned upon him, and he repented earnestly. His father, however, continued so unkind, and even cruel, that he was obliged to leave the country, and took refuge, first in Burgundy and then in Normandy, where he sought the instruction of his countryman, Lanfranc, then Abbot of Bec.
He learnt, at Bec, that his father was dead, and decided on taking the vows in that convent. There he remained for many years, highly revered for his piety and wisdom, and, in fact, regarded as almost a saint. In 1092, Hugh the Wolf was taken ill, and, believing he should never recover, sent to entreat the holy Abbot to come and give him comfort on his death-bed. Anselm came, but on his arrival found the old Earl restored, and only intent on the affairs of his new monastery, the regulation of which he gladly submitted to Anselm. The first Abbot was one of the monks of Bec, and Earl Hugh himself afterward gave up his country to his son Richard, and assumed the monastic habit there.
Whilst Anselm was on his visit to the Earl of Chester, there was some conversation about him at Court, and some one said that the good Abbot was so humble that he had no desire for any promotion or dignity. "Not for the Archbishopric?" shouted the King, with a laugh of derision; "but"—and he swore an oath—"other Archbishop than me there shall be none."
Some of the clergy about this time requested William to permit prayers to be offered in the churches, that he might be directed to make a fit choice of a Primate. He laughed, and said the Church might ask what she pleased; she would not hinder him from doing what he pleased.
He knew not what Power he was defying. That power, in the following spring, stretched him on a bed of sickness, despairing of life, and in an agony of remorse at his many fearful sins, especially filled with terror at his sacrilege, and longing to free himself from that patrimony of the Church which seemed to be weighing down his soul.
Anselm was still with Hugh the Wolf, probably at Gloucester, where the King's illness took place. A message came to summon him without delay to the royal chamber, there to receive the pastoral staff of Canterbury. He would not hear of it; he declared he was unfit, he was an old man, and knew nothing of business, he was weak, unable to govern the Church in such times. "The plough should be drawn by animals of equal strength," said he to the bishops and other friends who stood round, combatting his scruples, and exulting that the king's heart was at length touched. "Would you yoke a feeble old sheep with a wild young bull?"
Without heeding his objections, the Norman clergy by main force dragged him into the room where lay the Red King, in truth like to a wild bull in a net, suffering from violent fever, and half mad with impatience and anguish of mind. He would not hear Anselm's repeated refusals, and besought him to save him. "You will ruin me," he said. "My salvation is in your hands. I know God will never have mercy on me if Canterbury is not filled."
Still Anselm wept, imploring him to make another choice; but the bishops carried him up to the bedside, and actually forced open his clenched hand to receive the pastoral staff which William held out to him. Then, half fainting, he was carried away to the Cathedral, where they chanted the Te Deum, and might well have also sung, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water."
But though William had thus been shown how little his will availed when he openly defied the force of prayer, his stubborn disposition was unchanged, and he recovered only to become more profane than ever. Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, when congratulating him on his restoration, expressed a hope that he would henceforth show more regard to the Most High. "Bishop," he returned, as usual with an oath, "I will pay no honor to Him who has brought so much evil on me."
A war at this time broke out between William and his brother Robert, and the King ordered all his bishops to pay him large sums to maintain his forces. Canterbury had been so wasted with his extortions that Anselm could hardly raise 500 marks, which he brought the King, warning him that this was the last exaction with which he meant to comply. "Keep your money and your foul tongue to yourself," answered William; and Anselm gave the money to the poor.
Shortly after, Anselm expostulated with William on the wretched state of the country, where the Christian religion had almost perished; but the King only said he would do what he would with his own, and that his father had never met with such language from Lanfranc. Anselm was advised to offer him treasure to make his peace, but this he would not do; and William, on hearing of his refusal, broke out thus: "Tell him that as I hated him yesterday, I hate him more to day, and will hate him daily more and more. Let him keep his blessings to himself; I will have none of them."
The next collision was respecting the Pallium, the scarf of black wool with white crosses; woven from the wool of the lambs blessed by the Pope on St. Agnes' day, which, since the time of St. Augustine, had always been given by the Pope to the English Primate. Anselm, who had now been Archbishop for two years, asked permission to go and receive it; but as it was in the midst of the dispute between Emperor and Pope, there was an Antipope, as pretenders to that dignity were called—one Guibert, appointed by Henry IV. of Germany, besides Urban II., who had been chosen by the Cardinals, and whose original Christian name was really Odo. William went into a great fury on hearing that Anselm regarded Urban as the true Pope, without having referred to himself, convoked the clergy and laity at Rockingham, and called on them to depose the Archbishop. The bishops, all but Gundulf of Rochester, were in favor of the King, and renounced their obedience to the Primate; but the nobles showed themselves resolved to protect him, whereupon William adjourned the council, and sent privately to ask what might be gained by acknowledging Urban as Pope.
Urban sent a legate to England with the Pallium. The King first tried to make him depose Anselm, and then to give him the Pallium instead of investing the Archbishop with it; but the legate, by way of compromise, laid it on the altar at Canterbury, whence Anselm took it up.
Two years more passed, and Anselm came to beg permission to go to Rome to consult with the Pope on the miserable state of the Church. William said he might go, but if he did, he himself should take all the manors of Canterbury again, and the bishops warned him they should be on the king's side.
"You have answered well," said Anselm; "go to your lord; I will hold to my God."
William banished him for life; but just before he departed, he came to the King, saying, "I know not when I shall see you again, and if you will take it, I would fain give you my blessing—the blessing of a father to his son."
For one moment the Red King was touched; he bowed his head, and the old man made the sign of the cross on his brow; but no sooner was Anselm gone forth from his presence, than his heart was again hardened, and he so interfered with his departure, that he was forced to leave England in the dress of a pilgrim, with only his staff and wallet.
In Italy, Anselm was able to live in quiet study, write and pray in peace. He longed to resign his archbishopric, but the Pope would not consent; and when Urban was about to excommunicate the King, he prevailed to prevent the sentence from being pronounced.
William was left to his own courses, and to his chosen friend Ralph, a low-born Norman priest, beloved by the King partly for his qualities as a boon companion, partly for his ingenuity as an extortioner. He was universally known by the nickname of Flambard, or the Torch, and was bitterly hated by men of every class. He was once very nearly murdered by some sailors, who kidnapped him, and carried him on board a large ship. Some of them quarrelled about the division of his robes, a storm arose, and he so worked on their fears that they at length set him on shore, where William was so delighted to see him that he gave him the bishopric of Durham, the richest of all, because the bishop was also an earl, and was charged to defend the frontier against the Scots.
He had promised to relax the forest laws, but this was only one of his promises made to be broken; and he became so much more strict in his enforcement of them than even the Conqueror, that he acquired the nickname of Ranger of the Woods and Keeper of the Deer. Dogs in the neighborhood of his forests were deprived of their claws, and there was a scale of punishments for poachers of any rank, extending from the loss of a hand, or eye, to that of life itself. In 1099, another Richard, an illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was killed in the New Forest by striking his head against the branch of a tree; and a belief in a family fate began to prevail, so much so that Bishop Gundulf warned the King against hunting there; but William, as usual, laughed him to scorn, and in the summer of 1100 took up his residence in his lodge of Malwood, attended by his brother Henry, and many other nobles.
On the last night of July a strange sound was heard—the King calling aloud on St. Mary; and when his attendants came into his chamber, they found him crossing himself, in terror from a frightful dream. He bade them bring lights, and make merry, that he might not fall asleep again; but there were other dreamers. With morning a monk arrived to tell that he had had a vision presaging the King's death; but William brayed his own misgivings, and laughed, saying the man dreamt like a monk. "Give him a hundred pence, and bid him dream better luck next time."
Yet his spirits were subdued all the morning, and it was not till wine had excited him that he returned to his vein of coarse, reckless mirth. He called his hunters round him, ordered the horses, and asked for his new arrows—long, firm, ashen shafts. Three he stuck in his belt, the other three he held out to a favorite comrade, Walter Tyrrel, Lord de Poix, saying, "Take them, Wat, for a good marskman should have good arrows."
Some one ventured to remind him of his dream, but his laugh was ready. "Do they take me for a Saxon, to be frighted because an old woman dreams or sneezes?"
The hunters rode off, Walter Tyrrel alone with the King. By-and-by a cry rang through the forest that the King was slain. There was an eager gathering into the beech-shaded dell round the knoll of Stoney Cross, where, beneath an oak tree, lay the bleeding corpse of the Red William, an arrow in his heart. Terror fell on some, the hope of self-aggrandizement actuated others. Walter Tyrrel never drew rein till he came to the coast, and there took ship for France, whence he went to the holy wars. Prince Henry rode as fast in the opposite direction. William de Breteuil (eldest son of Fitz-Osborn) galloped off to secure his charge, the treasury at Winchester, and; when he arrived, found the prince before him, trying to force the keepers to give him the keys, which they refused to do except at their master's bidding.
Breteuil, who, as well as Henry, had sworn that Robert should reign if William died childless, tried to defend his rights, but was overpowered by some friends of Henry, who now came up to the forest; and the next morning the prince set off to London, taking with him the crown, and caused the Bishop of London to anoint and crown him four days after his brother's death.
No one cared for the corpse beneath the oak, and there it lay till evening, when one Purkiss, a charcoal-burner of the forest hamlet of Minestead, came by, lifted it up, and carried it on his rude cart, which dripped with the blood flowing from the wound, to Winchester.
There the cathedral clergy buried it in a black stone coffin, ridged like the roof of a house, beneath the tower of the cathedral, many people looking on, but few grieving, and some deeming it shame that so wicked a man should be allowed to lie within a church. These thought it a judgment, when, next year, the tower fell down over the grave, and it was rebuilt a little further westward with some of the treasure Bishop Walkelyn had left. Never did any man's history more awfully show a hardened, impenitent heart, going back again to sin after a great warning, then cut off by an instantaneous death, in the full tide of prosperity, in the very height of health and strength—for he was but in his fortieth year.
A spur of William Rufus is still preserved at the forest town of Lyndhurst; Purkiss's descendant still dwells at Minestead; part of the way by which he travelled is called the King's Lane, and the oak long remained at Stoney Cross to mark the spot where the King fell; and when, in 1745, the remains of the wood mouldered away, a stone was set up in its place; but the last of the posterity of William the Conqueror's "high deer" were condemned in the course of the year 1831.
A Minestead churl, whose wonted trade Was burning charcoal in the glade, Outstretched amid the gorse The monarch found: and in his wain He raised, and to St. Swithin's fane Conveyed the bleeding corse.
And still—so runs our forest creed— Flourish the pious woodman's seed, Even in the self-same spot: One horse and cart, their little store, Like their forefather's, neither more Nor less, their children's lot.
And still in merry Tyndhurst hall Red William's stirrup decks the wall; Who lists, the sight may see. And a fair stone in green Mai wood, Informs the traveller where stood The memorable tree.
Thus in those fields the Red King died, His father wasted in his pride, For it is God's command Who doth another's birthright rive, The curse unto his blood shall cleave, And God's own word shall stand.
Who killed William Rufus? is a question to which the answer becomes more doubtful in proportion to our knowledge of history. Suspicion attached of course to Tyrrel, but he never owned that the shaft, either by design or accident, came from his bow, and no one was there to bear witness. Some think Henry Beauclerc might be guilty of the murder, and he was both unscrupulous enough and prompt enough in taking advantage of the circumstance, to give rise to the belief. Anselm was in Auvergne when he heard of the King's death, and he is said to have wept at the tidings. He soon received a message from Henry inviting him to return to England, where he was received with due respect, and found that, outwardly at least, order and regularity were restored in Church matters, and the clergy possessed their proper influence. Great promises were made to them and to the Saxons; and the hated favorite of William, Ralph Flambard, was in prison in the Tower. However, he contrived to make his escape by the help of two barrels, one containing wine, with which he intoxicated his keepers, the other a rope, by which he let himself down from the window. He went to Robert of Normandy, remained with him some time, but at last made his peace with Henry, and in his old age was a tolerably respectable Bishop of Durham.
Anselm was in favor at court, owing to the influence of the "good Queen Maude," and he tried to bring about a reformation of the luxuries then prevalent especially long curls, which had come into fashion with the Normans of late. Like St. Wulstan, he carried a knife to clip them, but without making much impression on the gay youths, till one of them happened to dream that the devil was strangling him with his own long hair, waked in a fright, cut it all off, and made all his friends do so too.
As long as Henry was afraid of having his crown disputed by Robert, he took care to remain on excellent terms with the Church, and Anselm supported him with all his influence when Robert actually asserted his rights; but when the danger was over, the strife between Church and State began again. In 1103, Henry appointed four bishops, and required Anselm to consecrate them, but as they all had received the staff and ring from the King, and paid homage for their lands, he considered that he could not do so, conformably with the decree of the Lateran Council against lay investiture. Henry was much displeased, and ordered the Archbishop of York to consecrate them; but two of them, convinced by Anselm, returned the staff and ring, and would not be consecrated by any one but their true primate.
Henry said that one archbishop must consecrate all or none, and the whole Church was in confusion. Anselm, though now very old, offered to go and consult the Pope, Paschal II., and the King consented; but when Paschal decided that lay investiture was unlawful, Henry was so much displeased that he forbade the archbishop to return to England.
The old man returned to his former Abbey of Bec, and thus remained in exile till 1107, when a general adjustment of the whole question took place. The bishops were to take from the altar the ring and staff, emblems of spiritual power, and to pay homage to the king for their temporal possessions. The election was to belong to the cathedral clergy, subject to the King's approval. The usual course became that the King should send to the chapter a conge d'elire, that is, permission to elect, but accompanied by a recommendation of some particular person; and this nominee of the crown was so constantly chosen, that the custom of sending a conge d'elire has become only a form, which, however, is an assertion of the rights of the Church.
A similar arrangement with regard to the presentation of bishops was accepted in 1122 by Henry V. of Germany, who married Matilda, the daughter of Henry I.
After the arrangement in 1107, Anselm returned to England, and good Queen Maude came to meet him and show him every honor. His last year was spent at Canterbury, in a state of weakness and infirmity, terminated by his death on the 21st of April, 1109.
A gentle, studious man was the pious Anselm, our second Italian archbishop, thrust into the rude combat of the world against his will, and maintaining his cause and the cause of the Church with untiring meekness and quiet resolution.
THE FIRST CRUSADE. (1095-1100.)
King of England. William II.
King of France. Philippe II.
Emperor of Germany. Heinrich IV.
Pope. Urban II.
In the November of 1095 was seen such a sight as the world never afforded before nor since. The great plain of La Limagne, in Auvergne, shut in by lofty volcanic mountains of every fantastic and rugged form, with the mighty Puy de Dome rising royally above them, was scattered from one boundary to the other with white tents, and each little village was crowded with visitants. The town of Clermont, standing on an elevation commanding the whole extent of the plain, was filled to overflowing, and contained a guest before whom all bowed in reverence—the Pope himself—Urban II., whom the nations of the West were taught to call the Father of Christendom. Four hundred Bishops and Abbots had met him there, other clergy to the amount of 4,000, and princes, nobles, knights, and peasants, in numbers estimated at 30,000. Every one's eye was, however, chiefly turned on a spare and sunburnt man, of small stature, and rude, mean appearance, wearing a plain, dark serge garment, girt by a cord round his waist, his head and feet bare, and a crucifix in his hand. All looked on his austere face with the veneration they would have shown to a saint, and with the curiosity with which those are regarded who have dared many strange perils. He was Peter the Hermit, of Picardy, who had travelled on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; had there witnessed the dreadful profanities of the infidels, and the sufferings they inflicted on the faithful; had conversed with the venerable Patriarch Simeon; nay, it was said, while worshipping at the Holy Sepulchre, had heard a voice calling on him to summon the nations to the rescue of these holy spots. It was the tenth day of the council at Clermont, and in spite of the severe cold, the clergy assembled in the open air on the wide space in front of the dark stone cathedral, then, as now, unfinished. There was need that all should hear, and no building could contain the multitudes gathered at their summons. A lofty seat had been raised for the Pope, and Peter the Hermit stood by his side.
All was silence as the Hermit stood forth, and, crucifix in hand, poured forth his description of the blasphemy of the infidels, the desolation of the sacred places, and the misery of the Christians. He had seen the very ministers of God insulted, beaten, even put to, death: he had seen sacrilege, profanation, cruelty; and as he described them, his voice became stifle, and his eyes streamed with tears.
When he ceased, Urban arose, and strengthened each word he had spoken, till the whole assembly were weeping bitterly. "Yes, brethren," said the Pope, "let us weep for our sins, which have provoked the anger of heaven; let us weep for the captivity of Zion. But woe to us if our barren pity leaves the inheritance of the Lord any longer in the hands of his foes."
Then he called on them to take up arms for the deliverance of the Holy Land. "If you live," said he, "you will possess the kingdoms of the East; if you die, you will be owned in heaven as the soldiers of the Lord; Let no love of home detain you; behold only the shame and sufferings of the Christians, hear only the groans of Jerusalem, and remember that the Lord has said, 'He that loveth his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoso shall leave house, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, and all that he has, for My sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and in the world to come eternal life.'"
"Deus vult; Deus vult;"—It is God's will—broke as with one voice from the assembly, echoing from the hills around, and pealing with a voice like thunder.
"Yes, it is God's will," again spoke Urban, "Let these words be your war-cry, and keep you ever in mind that the Lord of Hosts is with you." Then holding on high the Cross—"Our Lord himself presents you His own Cross, the sign raised aloft to gather the dispersed of Israel. Bear it on your shoulders and your breast; let it shine on your weapons and your standards. It will be the pledge of victory or the palm of martyrdom, and remind you, that, as your Saviour died for you, so you ought to die for Him." Outcries of different kinds broke out, but all were for the holy war. Adhemar de Monteil, Bishop of Puy, a neighboring See, first asked for the Cross, and thousands pressed after him, till the numbers of Crosses failed that had been provided, and the cardinals and other principal persons tore up their robes to furnish more.
The crusading spirit spread like circles from a stone thrown into the water, as the clergy of the council carried their own excitement to their homes, and the hosts who took the Cross were beyond all reckoning. On the right or wrong of the Crusades, it is useless as well as impossible to attempt to decide. It was doubtless a spirit of religion, and not of self-interest, that prompted them; they were positively the best way of checking the progress of Mahometanism and the incursions of its professors, and they were undertaken with far purer intentions than those with which they were carried on. That they afterward turned to great wickedness, is not to be denied; some of the degenerate Crusaders of the latter days were among the wickedest of mankind, and the misuse of the influence they gave the Popes became a source of some of the worst practices of the Papacy. Already Pope Urban was taking on him to declare that a man who perished in the Crusade was sure of salvation, and his doctrine was still further perverted and falsified till it occasioned endless evils.
Yet, in these early days, joined with many a germ of evil, was a grandeur of thought, a self-devotion, and truly religious spirit, which will hardly allow us to call the first Crusade other than a glorious and a Holy War.
It was time, politically speaking, to carry the war into the enemy's quarters, and repress the second wave of Mahometan conquest. Islam [Footnote: Islam, meaning "the faith;" it is a barbarism to speak of the faith of Islam.] has often been called the religion of the sword, and Mahomet and his Arabic successors, under the first impulse, conquered Syria, Persia, Northern Africa, and Spain, and met their first check at Tours from Charles Martel. These, the Saracen Arabs, were a generous race, no persecutors, and almost friendly to the Christians, contenting themselves with placing them under restrictions, and exacting from them a small tribute. After the first great overflow, the tide had somewhat ebbed, and though a brave and cultivated people, they were everywhere somewhat giving way on their orders before the steady resistance of the Christians. Probably, if they had continued in Palestine, there would have been no Crusades.
But some little time before the eleventh century, a second flood began to rush from the East. A tribe of Tartars, called Turcomans, or Turks, embraced Mahometanism, and its precepts of aggression, joining with the warrior-spirit of the Tartar, impelled them forward.
They subdued and slaughtered the Saracens of Syria, made wide conquests in Asia Minor, winning towns of the Greek Empire beyond where the Saracens had ever penetrated, and began to threaten the borders of Christendom. They were very different masters from the Arabs. Active in body, but sluggish in mind, ignorant and cruel, they destroyed and overthrew what the Saracens had spared, disregarded law, and capriciously ill-treated and slaughtered their Christian subjects and the pilgrims who fell into their hands. It was against these savage Turks that the first Crusade was directed.
Peter the Hermit soon gathered together a confused multitude of peasants, women, and children, with whom he set out, together with a German knight named Walter, and called by his countrymen by the expressive name Habe Nichts, translated into French, Sans avoir, and less happily rendered in English, The Penniless. They were a poor, ignorant, half-armed set, who so little knew what they were undertaking, that at every town they came to they would ask if that was Jerusalem. Peter must either have been beyond measure thoughtless, or have expected a miracle to help him, for he set out to lead these poor creatures the whole length of Europe without provisions. They marauded on the inhabitants of the countries through which they passed; the inhabitants revenged themselves and killed them, and the whole wretched host were cut off, chiefly in Hungary and Bulgaria, and Peter himself seems to have been the only man who escaped.
A better-appointed army, consisting of the very flower of chivalry of Europe, had in the meantime assembled to follow the same path, though in a different manner.
First in name and honor was Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, one of the most noble characters whom history records. He was pure in life, devotedly pious, merciful, gentle, and a perfect observer of his word, at the same time that his talents and wisdom were very considerable; he was a finished warrior, expert in every exercise of chivalry, of gigantic strength, and highly renowned as a leader. He had been loyal to the Emperor Henry IV. through the war which had taken place in consequence of his excommunication by Gregory VII. He had killed in battle the rebellious competitor for the imperial crown, who, when dying from a wound by which he had lost his right hand, exclaimed, "With this hand I swore fealty to Henry; cursed be they who led me to break my oath." Godfrey had likewise been the first to scale the walls of Rome, when Henry IV. besieged Gregory there; but he, in common with many others of the besieging force, soon after suffered severely from malaria fever—the surest way in which modern Rome chastises her invaders; and thinking his illness a judgment for having taken part against the Pope, he vowed to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Soon after, the Crusade was preached, and Godfrey was glad to fulfil his vow with his good sword in his hand, while Pope and princes wisely agreed that such a chieftain was the best they could choose for their expedition.
Many another great name was there: Raymond, the wise Count of Toulouse; the crafty Boemond, one of the Normans of Sicily; his gallant cousin, Tancred, a mirror of chivalry, the Achilles of the Crusade; but our limits will only allow us to dwell on those through whom the Crusade is connected with English history.
The Anglo-Normans had not been so forward in the Crusade as their enterprising nature would have rendered probable, but the fact was, that, with such a master as William Rufus, no one felt that he could leave his home in anything like security. Helie de la Fleche, Count de Maine, [Footnote: Robert of Normandy had been betrothed in his childhood to the heiress of Maine, but she died before she was old enough for the marriage to take place. In right of this intended marriage, the Norman Kings claimed Maine, though Helie was the next heir.] took the Cross, and asked William for some guarantee that his lands should not be molested. "You may go where you like," said William; "I mean to have your city. What my father had, I will have."
"It is mine by right," said Helie; "I will plead it with you."
"I will plead, too." said William; "but my lawyers will be spears and arrows."
"I have taken the Cross; my land is under Christ's own protection."
"I only warn you," said William, "that if you go, I shall pay the good town of Mans a visit, with a thousand lances at my heel."
So Helie stayed at home, and in two years' time was made a prisoner when in a wood with only seven knights. Mans was seized, and he was brought before the King. "I have you now, my master," said William.
"By chance," said Helie; "but if I were free, I know what I would do."
"What would you do, you knave?" said William. "Hence, go, fly, I give you leave to do all you can; and if you catch me, I ask nothing in return."
Helie was set at liberty, and the next year, while William was absent in England, managed to retake Mans. The Red King was hunting in the New Forest when he heard the tidings; he turned his horse's head and galloped away, as his father had once done, with the words, "He who loves me, will follow." He threw himself into a ship, and ordered the sails to be set, though the wind was so boisterous that the sailors begged him to wait. "Fools," he said, "did you ever hear of a drowned king?" He cruelly ravaged Maine, but could not take the city, and, having been slightly wounded, returned to meet his fate in the New Forest.
After this story, no one could wonder that it required a great deal of enthusiasm to persuade a man to leave his inheritance exposed to the grasp of the Red King, who, unlike other princes, set at nought the anathemas by which the Pope guarded the lands of absent Crusaders. Stephen, Count de Blois, the husband of William's sister Adela, took the Cross. He was wise in counsel, and learned, and a letter which he wrote to his wife is one of the chief authorities for the early part of the expedition; but his health was delicate, and it was also said that his personal courage was not unimpeachable; at any rate, he soon returned home.
One of the foremost of the Crusaders was, however, our own Norman Prince, Robert Courtheuse. Every one knows the deep stain of disobedience on Robert's early life; and yet so superior was he to his brothers in every point of character, that it is impossible not to regard him with a sort of affection, though the motto of his whole career might be, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel."
Never was man more completely the tool of every villain who gained his ready ear. It was the whisper of evil counsellors that fired his jealousy of his young brothers, and drove him into rebellion against his father; the evil counsel of William led him to persecute Henry, loving him all the time: and when in possession of his dukedom, his careless, profuse habits kept him in constant poverty, while his idle good-nature left unpunished the enormities of the barons who made his country miserable.
But in generosity he never failed; he heartily loved his brothers, while duped and injured by them again and again; he always meant to be true and faithful, and never failed, except from hastiness and weakness; and while William was infidel, and Henry hypocritical, he was devout and sincere in faith, though miserably defective in practice.
The Crusade was the happiest and most respectable period of his life, and no doubt he never was more light-hearted than when he delivered over to William the mortgage of his dukedom, with all its load of care, and received in return the sum of money squeezed by his brother from all the unfortunate convents in England, but which Robert used to equip his brave knights and men-at-arms, assisted by some of the treasures of his uncle, Bishop Odo, who had taken the Cross, but was too feeble and infirm to commence the expedition.
The Crusaders were not sufficiently advanced in the knowledge of navigation to attempt to enter Palestine by sea, and they therefore traversed Germany, Hungary, and the Greek Empire, trusting to the Emperor Alexis Comnenus to give them the means of crossing the Hellespont. Alexis was in great dread of his warlike guests; the schism between the Greek and Roman Churches caused continual heart-burnings; and at the same time he considered, very naturally, that all the lands in the East at present occupied by the Mahometans were his right. He would not, therefore, ferry over the Crusaders to Asia till they had sworn allegiance to him for all that they might conquer, and it was a long time before Godfrey would comply. At last, however, on condition that the Greeks would furnish them with guides and reinforcements, they took the oaths; but as Alexis did not fulfil his part of the engagement, they did not consider themselves bound to him.
At Nicea, the Crusading army, of nineteen different nations, of whom 100,000 were horse and 500,000 infantry, came in sight of the Turks, and, after a long siege and several hotly-contested battles, won the town. They continued their march, but with much suffering and difficulty; Raymond of Toulouse had an illness which almost brought him to the grave, and Godfrey himself was seriously injured by a bear, which he had attacked to save the life of a poor soldier who was in danger from its hug. He killed the bear, but his thigh was much torn, and he was a long time recovering from the effects of his encounter.
At the siege of Antioch were their chief disasters; they suffered from hunger, disease, inundations of the Orontes, attacks of the enemy, until the living were hardly enough to bury the dead. The courage of many gave way; Robert of Normandy retired to Laodicea, and did not return till he had been three times summoned in the name of the Christian Faith; and Peter the Hermit himself, a man of more enthusiasm than steadiness, began to despair, and secretly fled from the camp in the night. As his defection would have done infinite harm to the cause, Tancred pursued him and brought him back to the camp, and Godfrey obliged him to swear that he would not again leave them. In the spring of 1098 a great battle took place, in which Godfrey, Robert, and Tancred each performed feats of the highest prowess. In the midst of the battle, Tancred made his esquire swear never to reveal his exploits, probably as a mortification of his own vanity in hearing them extolled. After a siege of more than seven months, Boemond effected an entrance by means of an understanding with some of the Eastern Christians within the town. It was taken, with great slaughter, and became a principality ruled by the Sicilian Norman.
Another great victory opened the way to Palestine, and the Crusaders advanced, though still very slowly. During the march, one of the knights, named Geoffroi de la Tour, is said to have had a curious adventure. He was hunting in a forest, when he came upon a lion struggling in the folds of a huge serpent; he killed the serpent, and released the lion, which immediately fawned upon him and caressed him. It followed him affectionately throughout the Crusade, but when he embarked to return to Europe, the sailors refused to admit the lion into their vessel. The faithful creature plunged into the sea to follow its master, swam till its strength was exhausted, and then sank and was drowned. [Footnote: Michaud's Histoire des Croisades gives this story from two authorities.]
It was on a glowing morning of June, 1098, that the Crusading host, Tancred first of all, came in sight of the object of all their toils—the City set upon a Hill.
There it stood, four-square, on the steep, solid, fortification-like rocks, rising from the rugged ravines, Kedron, Siloam, Jehoshaphat, Gehenna, that form, as it were, a deep moat round the walls, and natural defences, bulwarks planted by the Lord's own hand around His own City, while He was still her Tower of Salvation, and had not left her to the spoiler. There stood the double walls, the low-built, flat-roofed, windowless houses, like so many great square blocks, here and there interspersed with a few cypresses and aloes, the mighty Tower of David, the Cross of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and far above it, alas! the dome of the Mosque of Omar, with its marble gates and porphyry pillars, on the flat space on Mount Moriah, where the Temple had once flashed back the sunlight from its golden roof.
Jerusalem, enslaved and profaned, but Jerusalem still; the Holy City, the mountain whither all nations should turn to worship, the sacred name that had been spoken with reverence in every holiest lesson, the term of all the toils they had undergone. "Jerusalem! Jerusalem!" cried the foremost ranks. Down fell on their knees—nay, even prostrate on their faces—each cross-bearing warrior, prince and knight, page and soldier. Some shouted for joy, some kissed the very ground as a sacred thing, some wept aloud at the thought of the sins they had brought with them, and the sight of the tokens of Zion's captivity—the Dome and the Crescent. Then once more their war-cry rose as with one voice, and Mount Zion and Mount Olivet echoed it back to them, "Deus vult! Deus vult!" as to answer that the time was come.
But Jerusalem was only in sight—not yet won; and the Crusaders had much to suffer, encamped on the soil of iron, beneath the sky of brass, which is part of the doom of Judea. The vineyards, cornfields, and olive-trees of ancient times had given place to aridity and desolation; and the Christian host endured much from heat, thirst, and hunger, while their assaults on the walls were again and again repelled. They pressed forward their attacks as much as possible, since they could not long exist where they were.
Three great wooden towers were erected, consisting of different stages or stories, where the warriors stood, while they were wheeled up to the walls. Godfrey, Raymond, and Tancred each had the direction of one of these towers, and on the fourteenth of July the general assault began. The Turks, on their side, showered on them arrows, heavy stones, and Greek fire—an invention consisting of naphtha and other inflammable materials, which, when once ignited, could not be quenched by water, but only by vinegar. It was cast from hollow tubes, and penetrating the armor of the Christians, caused frightful agonies.
Raymond's tower was broken down or burnt; Godfrey and Tancred fought on, almost overpowered, their warriors falling round them, the enemy shouting with joy and deriding them. At the moment when the Crusaders were all but giving way, a horseman was seen on the Mount of Olives, his radiant armor glittering in the sun, and raising on high a white shield marked with the red Cross. "St. George! St. George!" cried Godfrey's soldiers; "the Saints fight for us! Deus vult! Deus vult!" and on they rushed again in an ecstasy of enthusiasm that nothing could resist. Some broke through a half-opened breach, some dashed from the wooden towers, some scaled the fortifications by their ladders, the crowd came over the walls like a flood, and swept all before them with the fury of that impulse.
There was a frightful slaughter; the Crusaders, brought up in a pitiless age, looked on the Saracens as devoted to the sword, like the Canaanite nations, and spared not woman or child. The streets streamed with blood, and the more merciful chieftains had not power to restrain the carnage. Raymond did indeed save those who had taken refuge in the Tower of David, and Tancred sent three hundred in the Mosque of Omar his own good pennon to protect them, but in vain; some of the other Crusaders massacred them, to his extreme indignation, as he declared his knightly word was compromised.
Godfrey had fought on as long as resistance lasted, then he threw himself from his horse, laid aside his helmet and gauntlets, bared his feet, and ascended the hill of Calvary. It was Friday, and the ninth hour of the day, when the Christian chief entered the circular-vaulted church, and descended, weeping at once for joy and for sorrow, into the subterranean crypt, lighted with silver lamps—the Holy Sepulchre itself, where his Lord had lain, and which he had delivered. Far from the sound of tumult and carnage, there he knelt in humility and thankfulness, and in time the rest of the chieftains gathered thither also—Tancred guided by the chant of the Greek Christians who had taken refuge in the church. Peter the Hermit sang mass at the altar, and thus night sunk down on Jerusalem and the victorious Christians.
The following days confirmed the conquest, and councils began to be held on the means of securing it. A King was to be elected, and it is said that the crown was offered to Robert of Normandy, and declined by him. Afterward, by universal consent, Godfrey de Bouillon was chosen to be King of Jerusalem.
He accepted the office, with all its toils and perils, but he would neither bear the title nor crown. He chose to leave the title of King of Jerusalem to Him to whom alone it belonged; he would not wear a crown of gold where that King had Worn a crown of thorns, and he kept only his knightly helmet, with the title of Defender and Baron of the Holy Sepulchre.
Well did he fulfil his trust, ever active, and meeting the infidels with increasing energy wherever they attacked him; but it was only for one year. The climate undermined his health; he fell sick of a fever, and died in July, 1100, just one year from the taking of Jerusalem. He lies buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, beneath a stone bearing these words: "Here lieth the victorious Duke Godfrey de Bouillon, who won all this land to the Christian faith. May whose soul reign with Christ." His good sword is also still kept in the same church, and was long used to dub the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
THE ETHELING FAMILY. (1010-1159.)
Kings of England. Knute and his sons. Edward. Harold. William I. William II. Henry I.
Kings of France. Henry I. Philippe I. Louis VI.
When, in 1016, the stout-hearted Edmund Ironside was murdered by Edric Streona, he left two infant sons, Edmund and Edward, who fell into the power of Knute.
These children were placed, soon after, under the care of Olaf Scotkonung, King of Sweden, who had been an ally of their grandfather's, and had sent to England to request that teachers of the Gospel might come to him. By these English clergy he had been baptized, and his country converted, so that they probably induced him to intercede with Knute for the orphan princes. Shortly after, a war broke out between Denmark and Sweden, and Olaf, believing, perhaps, that the boys were unsafe in the North, where Knute's power was so great, transferred them to Buda, to the care of Stephen, King of Hungary.
It was a happy home for them. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, was a most noble character, a conqueror and founder of a kingdom, humble, devout, pious, and so charitable that he would go about in disguise, seeking for distressed persons. He was a great lawgiver, and drew up an admirable code, in which he was assisted by his equally excellent son Emeric, and was the first person who in any degree civilized the Magyar race. His son Emeric died before him, leaving no children; and, after three years of illness, Stephen himself expired in 1038. His name has ever since been held in high honor, and his arched crown, half-Roman, half-Byzantine, was to the Hungarians what St. Edward's crown is to us. After Hungary was joined to the German Empire, there was still a separate coronation for it, and it was preserved in the castle of Buda, under a guard of sixty-four soldiers, until the rebellion of 1848, when it was stolen by the insurgents, and has never since been recovered.
After Stephen's death, there was a civil war between the heathen Magyars and the Christians, ending in the victory of the latter, and the establishment of Andrew in the kingdom. This was in 1051, and it was probably the sister-in-law of this Andrew whom the Saxon prince Edward married. All we are told about her is, that her name was Agatha, and that she was learned and virtuous.
In 1058, Edward, the only survivor of the brothers, was invited by his cousin, the childless Confessor, to return to England, and there be owned as Etheling, or heir to the crown. He came, but after his forty years' absence from his native country, his language, habits, and manners were so unlike those of the English, that he was always known by the name of Edward the Stranger.
After two years, both the Stranger and his wife Agatha died, leaving three young children, Christina, Margaret, and Edgar, of whom the boy was the youngest. His only inheritance, poor child, was his title of Etheling, declaring a claim which was likely to be his greatest peril. Edward the Confessor passed him entirely over in disposing of his kingdom; and as he was but six, or, as some say, ten years old, Harold seems to have feared no danger from him, but left him at liberty within the city of London.
There he remained while the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings were fought, and there, when the tidings came that the Normans had conquered, the little child was led forth, while a proclamation was made before him that Edgar was King of England. But it was only a few faithful citizens that thus upheld the young descendant of Alfred. Some were faint-hearted, others were ambitious; Edwin and Morkar said they would support him if the bishops would; the bishops declared that the Pope favored the Normans. The Conqueror was advancing, and from the walls of London the glare of flame might be seen, as he burnt the villages of Hertfordshire and Surrey, and soon the camp was set up without the walls, and the Conqueror lodging in King Edward's own palace of Westminster. The lame Alderman Ansgard was carried in his litter to hold secret conference with him, and returned with promises of security for lives and liberties, if the citizens would admit and acknowledge King William. They dreaded the dangers of a seige, and gladly accepted his proposal, threw open their gates, and came forth in procession to Westminster to present him with the keys, basely carrying with them the helpless boy whom they had a few weeks before owned as their king.
Edgar was a fair child, of the old Saxon stamp of beauty, with flaxen hair and blue eyes; and the Duke of Normandy, harsh as he usually was, received him affectionately. Perhaps he thought of his own orphanhood at the same age, and the many perils through which he had been preserved, and pitied the boy deprived of his kingdom, without one faithful hand raised to protect him, and betrayed to his enemies. He took him in his arms, kissed him, promised him favors and kindness, and never broke the promise.
For the next two years Edgar remained at the court of William, until the general spirit of hatred of the Normans began to incite the Saxons to rise against them. Cospatric, Earl of Durham, thought it best to secure the safety of the royal children, and, secretly withdrawing Edgar and his two sisters from the court, he embarked with them for the Continent, intending to take them to their mother's home in Hungary.
Contrary winds drove the ship to Scotland, and there the orphans were brought to King Malcolm III. Never had an apparent misfortune been in truth a greater blessing. Malcolm had but seven years before been himself a wandering exile, sheltered in the court of Edward the Confessor, after his father, the gracious Duncan, was murdered, and the usurper Macbeth on the throne. He had venerated the saintly Confessor, and remembered the untimely death of the Stranger, which had left these children friendless in what was to them a foreign land; and he owed his restoration to his throne to the Saxon army under old Siward Bjorn. Glad to repay his obligations, he conducted the poor wanderers to his castle of Dumfermline, treated them according to their rank, and promised to assert Edgar's claim to the crown.
He accordingly advanced into England, where, in many places, partial risings were being made on behalf of "England's darling," as the Saxon ballads called young Edgar, after his ancestor Alfred. It was, however, all in vain: Malcolm did not arrive till the English had been defeated on the banks of the Tyne, and the Normans avenging their insurrection by such cruel devastation, that nine years after the commissioners of Domesday Book found no inhabitants nor cultivation to record between York and Durham.
There is some confusion in both the English and Scottish histories respecting Malcom's exertions in Edgar's cause; indeed, the Border warfare was always going on, and now and then the King took part in it. At length William and Malcolm, each at the head of an army, met in Galloway, and after standing at bay for some days, entered into a treaty. Malcolm paid homage to the English King for the two Lothians and Cumberland, and at the same time secured the safety of Edgar Etheling. The boy solemnly renounced all claim to the English crown, engaging never to molest the Conqueror or his children in their possession of it; while, on the other hand, he was endowed with estates in England, and a pension of a mark of silver a day was settled upon him. He could not at this time have been more than fourteen—there is more reason to think he was but ten years old—but the oath that he then took he kept with the most unshaken fidelity, in the midst of temptations, and of examples of successful perjury.
He returned with his friend to Scotland, where, the next year, his beautiful sister Margaret consented to become the wife of their host, the King Malcolm; but Christina, the other sister, preferred a conventual life, though she seems for the present to have continued with Margaret at Dumfermline.
Gentle Margaret, bred in some quiet English convent; taught by her mother to remember the Greek cultivation and holy learning of good King Stephen's court; perhaps blessed by the tender hand of pious Edward the Confessor, and trained by the sweet rose, Edith, sprung from the thorn, Godwin; she must have felt desolate and astray among the rude, savage Scots, wild chiefs of clans, owning no law, full of brawling crime and violence, too strong to be kept in order by force, and their wives almost as untamed and rude as themselves. Her husband was a rough, untutored warrior, ruling by the main force of a strong hand, and asking counsel of his own honest heart and ready wit, but perfectly ignorant, and probably uncouth in his appearance, as his appellation of Cean Mohr means Great-head.
But Margaret was a true daughter of Alfred, and the traditions of the Alfred of Hungary were fresh upon her, and, instead of sitting down to cower alarmed amid the turmoils round her, she set herself to conquer the evils in her own feminine way, by her performance of her queenly duties. She was happy in her husband: Malcolm revered her saintly purity even more than he loved her sweet, sunny, cheerful manner, or admired her surpassing loveliness of person. He looked on her as something too precious and tender for his wild, rugged court, and attended to her slightest bidding with reverence, kissing her holy books which he could not read, and interpreting her Saxon-spoken advice to his rude Celts. She even made him help her to wash the feet of the poor, and aid her in disgusting offices to the diseased, and his royal treasury was open to her to take all that she desired for alms. Sometimes she would pretend to take it by stealth, and Malcolm would catch her by the wrists and carry her to her confessor, to ask if she was not a little thief who deserved to be well punished. In his turn he would steal away her books, and bring them back after a time, gilt and adorned with beautiful illuminations.
The love and reverence with which so bold a warrior treated her, together with her own grace and dignity, had its effect on the unruly Scottish chieftains, and not one of them ventured to use a profane word, or make an unseemly jest before her. They had a rude, ungodly practice of starting away from table without waiting for grace, and this the gentle queen reformed by sending, as an especial gift from herself, a cup of wine to all who remained. In after times the last cup was called, after her, St. Margaret's cup, or the grace-cup.
To improve the manners of the ladies, she gathered round her a number of young girls, whom she brought up under her own eye, and she used to sit in the midst of them, embroidering rich vestments for the service of the Church, and permitting cheerful talk with the nobles whom she admitted—all men of whose character she had a good opinion. She endeavored to reform the Scottish Church which had become very sluggish, and did little to contend with Highland savagery. There were only three Bishops and those not with fixed sees. Margaret and her husband convened a synod, when Margaret herself explained her views, and Malcolm interpreted. It was not a usual order of things, but to themselves quite satisfactory, and thenceforth the Scottish Church became assimilated to the rest of the Western communion. It was a Saxon immigration: the Lowlands became more English than England then was, and Scotch is still more like Saxon than the tongue we speak. But the Celts bitterly hated the change; and thenceforth the land was divided.
She was gay and playful; but her fasts and mortifications in secret were very great. She cut off unnecessary food and sleep, and spent half the night in prayer. She daily washed the feet of six poor people, and washed, clothed, and fed nine orphan babes, besides relieving all who came to ask her bounty, attending to the sick, and sending to ransom captives, especially her own countrymen the English, lodging her rescued prisoners in a hospital which she had founded, till they could be sent to their own homes.
Leading this happy and holy life, Edgar left his sister about two years after her marriage, upon an invitation from Philippe I. of France; but he was shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, and coming to Rouen, was kindly received by William, and remained with him. A close friendship sprung up between the disinherited Etheling and Robert the heir of Normandy, who was only a year or two older. Both were brave, open-hearted, and generous, and their love for each other endured, on Edgar's side, through many a trial and trouble. Happy would it have been for Robert had all his friends been like Edgar Adeling, as the Normans called him. A few years more made Edgar a fine young man, expert in the exercises of chivalry, and full of the spirit of enterprise: but he did not join his friend in rebellion against his father; and after Robert had quitted Rouen, never to return thither in his father's lifetime, he obtained permission from William to go on pilgrimage, gave his pension for a fine horse, and set off for Italy with two hundred knights, fought there, or in Sicily, against the Saracens, for some time, and then continued his pilgrimage.
He returned through Constantinople, where many of the English fugitives were serving in the Varangian guard. The Emperor Alexius Comnenus was much pleased with him, and offered him high preferment if he would remain with him; but Edgar loved his own country too well, and proceeded homeward.
He found a changed state of affairs on his arrival in Normandy. William the Conqueror was dead, and Robert, with the aid of Henry Beauclerc, just preparing to assert his right to the English crown against Red William. Edgar Etheling offered his sword to assist his friend; but he was shamefully treated. William came to Normandy, sought a conference with Robert, cajoled or outwitted him into a treaty in which one of the conditions was that he should withdraw his protection from both Edgar and Henry, and deprive the former of all the lands in Normandy which their father had given him.
Edgar retired to Scotland to his sister Margaret, whom he found the mother of nine children, continuing the same peaceful, active life in which he had left her, and her holy influence telling more and more upon her court. Many Saxons had come to live in the lowlands of Scotland, and the habits and manners of the court of Dumfermline were being fast modelled on those of Westminster in the time of Edward and Edith.
Malcolm and William Rufus were at war, and Edgar accompanied his brother-in-law to the banks of the Tyne, where they were met by William and Robert. No battle took place; but Edgar and Robert, meeting on behalf of the two kings, arranged a treaty of peace. In return for this service, William permitted Edgar to return to England, being perhaps persuaded by Robert and Malcolm that the English prince was a man of his word, though to his own hindrance.
The peace, thus effected did not last long, most unhappily for Scotland. Malcolm, with his two eldest sons, Edward and Edmund, invaded England, and laid siege to Alnwick Castle, leaving the Queen at Edinburgh, seriously ill. At Alnwick the Scottish army was routed, and Malcolm and Edward were slain. The tradition is, that one of the garrison pretended to surrender the castle, by giving the keys, through a window, on the point of a lance; [Footnote: Curiously in accordance with this story we find, in the Bayeux tapestry, the surrender of Dinan represented by the delivery of the keys in this manner to William the Conqueror.] but that he treacherously thrust the weapon into the eye of Malcolm, and thus killed him. The story adds that thus the soldier acquired the name of Pierce-eye, or Percy; which is evidently incorrect, since the Percys of Alnwick trace their origin to William de Albini, who married Henry Beauclerc's second queen, Alice of Louvain.
An instant disturbance prevailed on the King's death. His army fled in dismay; his corpse was left on the ground, till a peasant carried it to Tynemouth; his men were dispersed, slain, or drowned in their flight; his young son Edmund, a stripling of eighteen or nineteen, just contrived to escape to Edinburgh Castle. The first tidings that met him there were, that his mother was dying; that she lay on her bed in great anxiety for her husband and sons, and finding no solace except in holding a fragment of the true Cross pressed to her lips, and repeating the fifty-first Psalm.
The poor youth, escaped from a lost battle, and bearing such dreadful tidings, was led to her presence at once.
"How fares it with your father and brother?" said she.
He feared to tell her all, and tried to answer, "Well;" but she perceived how it was too plainly, and holding out the Holy Cross, commanded him to speak the truth. "They are slain, mother—both slain!"
Margaret's thoughts must have rushed back to the twenty-three years of uninterrupted affection she had enjoyed with her lord, to her gallant son, slain in his first battle, and onward to the unprotected state of the seven orphans she left in the wild kingdom. Agony indeed it was; but she blessed Him who sent it. "All praise be to Thee, everlasting God, who hast made me to suffer such anguish in my death."
She lingered on a few hours longer, while storms raged around. The wild Celts hated Malcolm's improvements and Saxon arts of peace, and his brother Donald was placing himself at their head to deprive his lawful brothers of their heritage. A troop of Highlanders were on their way to besiege Edinburgh Castle, even when the holy Queen drew her last breath; and her friends had barely time to admire the sweet peacefulness that had spread over her wasted features, before they were forced to carry her remains away in haste and secrecy, attended by her weeping, trembling children, to Dumfermline Abbey, where she was buried.
Her children, seven in number (for Ethelred, the eldest, had died in infancy), were left unprotected. Edmund was only eighteen, and timid and gentle. Donald seized the crown; and the orphans remained in great danger, till their brave uncle, Edgar Etheling, learnt the fatal tidings, and, coming from England, fetched them all home with him, giving the two girls, Edith and Mary, into the care of their aunt Christina, who was now Abbess of Wilton. It was at some danger to himself that he took the desolate children under his protection. A man named Orgar accused him to William Rufus of intending to raise his nephews to the English crown. A knight, named Goodwin, no doubt of Saxon blood, no sooner heard the aspersion, than he answered by avowing the honor and faithfulness of his Etheling, threw down his glove, and defied Orgar to single combat—"God show the right." It was shown; Orgar fell, and Saxons and Normans both rejoiced, for the Etheling had made himself much beloved.
The Crusade was preached, and Robert invited Edgar to join in it; but he could not forsake the charge of his sister's children, and was forced to remain at home. Revolutions, however, continued in Scotland. Donald was overthrown by Duncan, a son of Malcolm, born long before his marriage; and the Lowland Scots were impatient of the return to barbarism. Duncan was killed, and Donald restored. Edgar hoped that his nephews might be restored. Edmund had chosen to renounce the throne and embrace a religious life; but the next in age, Edgar and Alexander, were spirited princes, and eager to assert their right.
The Etheling had never shed blood to regain his own lost kingdom; but he was a true knight-errant and redresser of wrongs. He asked leave from William to raise a Saxon army to restore his nephew to the Scottish throne; and such was the reliance that even the scoffer William had learnt to place on his word, that it was granted. The English flocked with joy round their "darling," wishing, without doubt, that it was for the restoration of the Saxon, instead of the Scottish Edgar, that they took up arms.
At Durham the monks of St. Cuthbert intrusted to the Etheling their sacred standard—a curious two-winged ensign, with a cross, that was carried on a car. It was believed always to bring victory, and at the first sight of it Donald's men abandoned him, and went over to Edgar. Donald was made prisoner, and soon after died. Young Edgar assumed the crown, sent for the rest of his family, and had a happy and prosperous reign.