Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK II.: FROM THE FIRST LANDING OF THE DANES IN ENGLAND TO THE END OF THEIR DOMINATION. 787—1048. - History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 1
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BOOK II.: FROM THE FIRST LANDING OF THE DANES IN ENGLAND TO THE END OF THEIR DOMINATION. 787—1048. - Augustin Thierry, History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 1 
History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, translated from the seventh Paris edition, by William Hazlitt (London: H.G. Bohn, 1856). In 2 volumes. Vol. 1.
Part of: History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, 2 vols.
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FROM THE FIRST LANDING OF THE DANES IN ENGLAND TO THE END OF THEIR DOMINATION.
First landing of the Danish pirates—Their character; their conquests in England—Invasion of Ragnar Lodbrog; his death-song—Descent of the Danes in the south—Destruction of the monasteries—Termination of the kingdom of East Anglia—Invasion of the kingdom of Wessex—Resistance of Alfred—Flight of king Alfred—His return; he attacks the Danes, and concludes peace with them—Successive combinations of the English territory under a sole royalty—Descent of Hasting upon England—Election of king Edward—Conquests of king Athelstan—Victory of Brunanburg—Defeat of Erik the Dane—Political results of the defeats of the Danes—Fresh emigrations from Denmark—Massacre of the Danes—Grand armament of Swen—Patriotic firmness of archbishop Elfeg; his death—Ethelred takes refuge in Gaul—Foundation of the empire of the Franks—Dismemberment of that empire—Invasion of Gaul by the Danes or Normans—New states formed in Gaul—Limits and populations of the kingdom of France—Exile of Roll, son of Roguvald—The Norwegian exiles establish themselves at Rouen—First negotiation of the French with the Normans—Roll elected chief of the Normans—Second negotiation—Cession of Neustria and Brittany—Conference at Saint-Clair-sur-Epte—Conversion and baptism of Roll, first duke of Normandy—Division of Normandy—Language and manners of the people of Bayeux—Social state of Normandy—Insurrection of the peasants of Normandy—Violent measures to suppress the insurrection—Language and political relations of the Gallo-Normans—Ethelred recalled—Godwin saves the life of a Danish chief—Knut the Dane becomes king of all England—Proscriptions in England—Marriage of king Knut; remarkable change in his character and conduct—He institutes Peter’s pence—Temporal power of the popes—Pilgrimage of Knut to Rome—Letter written by king Knut—Rise of Godwin—Harold and Hardeknut, kings of England—Preparations for war between the Anglo-Saxons and the Anglo-Danes—Harold sole king of England—Alfred, son of Ethelred, reappears in England—His violent death—Hardeknut’s barbarity—His exactions—The Danes driven from England—Election of Edward, son of Ethelred—His marriage with Editha—Re-establishment of English independence—Hostility of the people to the Norman favourites of king Edward.
For more than a century and a half, almost the entire of southern Britain had borne the name of England, and in the language of its German-descended possessors, that of Briton or Welsh, had meant serf or tributary,1 when a body of men, of unknown race, entered, in three vessels, a port on the eastern coast. In order to learn whence they came and what they wanted, the Saxon magistrate of the place2 proceeded to the shore where they had landed; the strangers suffered him to approach; then surrounding him and his escort, they fell upon them, killed them, and, having pillaged the town, returned with the booty to their ships and departed.3
They descended from the same primitive race with the Anglo-Saxons and the Franks; their language had roots identical with the idioms of these two nations: but this token of an ancient fraternity did not preserve from their hostile incursions, either Saxon Britain, or Frankish Gaul, nor even the territory beyond the Rhine, then exclusively inhabited by Germanic tribes. The conversion of the southern Teutons to the Christian faith had broken all bond of fraternity between them and the Teutons of the north. In the ninth century the man of the north still gloried in the title of son of Odin, and treated as bastards and apostates the Germans who had become children of the church: he made no distinction between them and the conquered populations whose religion they had adopted. Franks or Gauls, Lombards or Latins, all were equally odious to the man who had remained faithful to the ancient divinities of Germany. A sort of religious and patriotic fanaticism was thus combined in the Scandinavian with the fiery impulsiveness of their character, and an insatiable thirst for gain. They shed with joy the blood of the priests, were especially delighted at pillaging the churches, and stabled their horses in the chapels of the palaces.1 When they had devastated and burned some district of the Christian territory: “We have sung them the mass of lances,” said they, mockingly; “it commenced early in the morning, and lasted until night.”2
In three days, with an east wind, the fleets of Denmark and Norway, two-sailed vessels, reached the south of Britain.3 The soldiers of each fleet obeyed in general one chief, whose vessel was distinguished from the rest by some particular ornament. The same chief commanded when the pirates, having landed, marched in troops, on foot or on horseback. He was called by the German title, rendered in the southern languages by the word king:4 but he was king only on the sea and in the battle-field; for, in the hour of the banquet the whole troop sat in a circle, and the horns, filled with beer, passed from hand to hand without any distinction of first man or last. The sea-king5 was everywhere faithfully followed and zealously obeyed, because he was always renowned as the bravest of the brave, as one who had never slept under a smoke-dried roof, who had never emptied a cup seated in the chimney-corner.6
He could guide his vessel as the good horseman his steed, and to the ascendancy of courage and skill were added, for him, the influence created by superstition; he was initiated in the science of the runes; he knew the mystic characters which, engraved upon swords, secured the victory, and those which, inscribed on the poop and on the oars, preserved vessels from shipwreck.7 All equal under such a chief, bearing lightly their voluntary submission and the weight of their mailed armour, which they promised themselves soon to exchange for an equal weight of gold, the Danish pirates pursued the road of the swans, as their ancient national poetry expressed it.1 Sometimes they coasted along the shore, and laid wait for the enemy in the straits, the bays, and smaller anchorages, which procured them the surname of Vikings or children of the creeks; sometimes they dashed in pursuit of their prey across the ocean. The violent storms of the north seas dispersed and shattered their frail vessels; all did not rejoin their chieftain’s ship at the rallying signal, but those who survived their shipwrecked companions were none the less confident, none the more depressed; they laughed at the winds and waves that had failed to harm them: “The strength of the tempest,” they sang, “aids the arm of the rower; the storm is our servant; it throws us where we desired to go.”2
The first great army of Danish and Norman corsairs that visited England, landed upon the coast of Cornwall, the natives of which district, reduced by the English to the condition of tributaries, joined the enemies of their conquerors, either in the hope of gaining a certain degree of liberty, or simply to satisfy their passion of national vengeance. The Northmen were repulsed, and the Britons of Cornwall remained under the yoke of the Saxons; but shortly afterwards, other fleets, steering to the eastern coast, brought Danes in such vast numbers, that no force could prevent their penetrating to the heart of England. They ascended the course of the great rivers, until they had found a commodious station; here they quitted their vessels, moored them or laid them up dry, spread over the country, everywhere seized beasts of burden, and from mariners became men and horses, as the chroniclers of the time express it.3 They at first contented themselves with pillaging and then retiring, leaving behind them on the coasts a few military posts and small entrenched camps, to protect their next return; but soon changing their tactics, they established themselves fixedly, as masters of the soil and of the inhabitants, and drove back the English race of the north-east towards the south-west, as the latter had driven back the ancient British population of the Gaulish sea towards the other sea.1
The sea kings who connected their names with the events of this great invasion are, Ragnar-Lodbrog and his three sons, Hubbo, Iugvar, and Afden. Son of a Norwegian and of the daughter of a king of one of the Danish isles, Ragnar had obtained, either fairly or by force, the crown of all these islands; but fortune becoming unfavourable to him, he lost his territorial possessions, and then equipping several vessels and assembling a troop of pirates, turned sea king. His first expeditions were in the Baltic and upon the coasts of Friesland and Saxony; he next made numerous descents in Brittany and Gaul, ever successful in his enterprises, which procured for him great wealth and great renown. After thirty years of successes, obtained with a simple fleet of barks, Ragnar, whose views had enlarged, resolved to essay his skill in a more scientific navigation, and had two vessels constructed, which surpassed in dimensions anything that had been hitherto seen in the north. Vainly did his wife Aslauga, with that cautious good sense which, among the Scandinavian women, passed as the gift of prophecy, urge upon him the perils to which this innovation exposed him; he would not listen to her, and embarked, followed by several hundred men. England was the object of this novel expedition. The pirates gaily cut the cables which held their two vessels, and, as they themselves expressed it in their poetical language, gave the rein to their great sea-horses.2
All went well with the sea king and his companions so long as they were on the open sea; it was when they approached the coast that their difficulties commenced. Their large ships, unskilfully steered, struck upon shoals, whence vessels of Danish construction would easily have extricated themselves, and the wrecked crews were obliged to throw themselves upon the land, destitute of every means of retreat. The coast on which they thus disembarked against their will was that of Northumberland; they advanced in good order, ravaging and pillaging according to their custom, the same as though they were not in a hopeless position. On hearing of their devastations, Œlla, the king of the country, marched and attacked them with superior forces; the combat was furious, though very unequal; and Ragnar, enveloped in a mantle his wife had given him on his departure, penetrated the enemy’s ranks four times. But, nearly all his companions having perished, he himself was taken alive by the Saxons. King Œlla proved cruel to his prisoner; not content with putting him to death, he inflicted unwonted tortures upon him. Lodbrog was shut up in a dungeon, filled, say the chroniclers, with vipers and venomous serpents. The death song of this famous sea king became celebrated as one of the chefs-d’œuvre of Scandinavian poetry. It was attributed, upon very slight foundation, to the hero himself; but whoever the author may have been, the production bears the vivid impress of the warlike and religious fanaticism which in the ninth century rendered the Danish and Norman Wikings so formidable.1
“We struck with our swords, in the time when, yet young, I went towards the east, to prepare the repast of blood for the wolves, and in that great combat wherein I sent the people of Helsinghie2 in crowds to the palace of Odin. Thence our vessels bore us to the mouth of the Vistula, where our lances pierced the cuirasses, and our swords broke the bucklers.
“We struck with our swords, on the day when I saw hundreds of men prostrate on the sand, near a promontory of England; a dew of blood dropped from our swords; the arrows whistled as they went seeking the helmets; it was for me a pleasure equal to that of holding a beautiful girl in my arms.
“We struck with our swords, the day when I laid low that young man, so proud of his long hair, who in the morning had been wooing the young girls and the widows. What is the lot of a brave man, but to fall among the first? He who is never wounded, leads a wearisome life; man must attack man or resist him, in the great game of battle.
“We struck with our swords; and now I feel that men are the slaves of destiny, and obey the decrees of the spirits who preside over their birth. Never did I think that death would come to me through this Œlla, when I urged my vessels so far across the waves, and gave such banquets to the wild beasts. But I smile with pleasure when I reflect that a place is reserved for me in the halls of Odin, and that soon, seated there at the great banquet table, we shall drink flowing draughts of beer, in our cups of horn.
“We struck with our swords. If the sons of Aslanga knew the anguish I suffer, if they knew that venomous serpents wind themselves around me and cover me with bites, they would all shudder, and would rush to the combat; for the mother whom I have left them has given them valiant hearts. A viper now tears open my breast, and penetrates to my heart; I am conquered; but soon, I hope, the lance of one of my sons will pierce the side of Œlla.
“We struck with our swords in fifty and one combats; I doubt whether among men there is a king more famous than I. From my youth I have shed blood, and desired an end like this. The goddesses sent by Odin to meet me, call to me and invite me; I go, seated among the foremost, to drink beer with the gods. The hours of my life are passing away; I shall die laughing.”1
This lofty appeal to vengeance and to the warlike passions, first sung in a funeral ceremony, passed from mouth to mouth wherever Ragnar-Lodbrog had admirers; not only his sons, his relations, his friends, but a crowd of adventurers and young men from every northern kingdom responded to it. In less than a year, and without any hostile intelligence reaching England, eight sea kings and twenty ïarls or chiefs of secondary rank, confederating together, united their vessels and their soldiers. This was the largest fleet that had ever left Denmark on a distant expedition. Its destination was Northumberland, but a mistake of the pilots carried it more to the south, towards the coast of East Anglia.2
Incapable of repelling such a great army, the people of the country gave the Danes a pacific reception, of which the latter availed themselves to collect provisions and horses, while awaiting reinforcements beyond seas; on the arrival of these, deeming themselves sure of success, they marched upon York, the capital of Northumberland, devastating and burning everything on their way. The two chiefs of this kingdom, Osbert and Œlla, concentrated their forces under the walls of the city for a decisive battle. The Saxons at first had the advantage; but dashing on prematurely in pursuit of the enemy, the latter, perceiving their disorder, turned upon them, and completely defeated them. Osbert was killed while fighting, and, by a singular destiny, Œlla, falling alive into the hands of the sons of Lodbrog, expiated by unheard of tortures, the tortures he had inflicted on their father.1
Vengeance thus consummated, another passion, that of power, took possession of the confederate chiefs. Masters of a portion of the country north of the Humber, and assured by messengers of the submission of the rest, the sons of Ragnar-Lodbrog resolved to retain this conquest. They garrisoned York and the principal towns, distributed lands among their companions, and opened an asylum to people of every condition who chose to come from the Scandinavian provinces to augment the new colony. Thus Northumberland ceased to be a Saxon kingdom; it became the rallying point of the Danes, for the conquest of the south of England. After three years preparation, the great invasion commenced. The army, led by its eight kings, descended the Humber as far as the heights of Lindsay, and there landing, marched in a direct line from north to south, pillaging the towns, massacreing the inhabitants, and, with fanatic rage, taking especial delight in burning the churches and monasteries.2
The Danish vanguard was approaching Croyland, a celebrated monastery, the name of which will often figure in these pages, when it met a small Saxon army, which, by dint of courage and good order, held it in check for a whole day. It was a levy en masse of all the people of the neighbourhood, commanded by their lords and by a monk called brother Toli, who, before taking the vows, had borne arms.3 Three Danish kings were slain in the battle; but, on the coming up of the others, the Saxons, overwhelmed by numbers, were nearly all killed in defending their posts. Some of the fugitives hastened to the monastery to announce that all was lost, and that the pagans were approaching. It was the hour of matins, and all the monks were assembled in the choir. The abbot, a man of advanced age, addressed them thus: “Let all those among you who are young and robust retire to a place of safety, carrying with them the relics of the saints, our books, our charters, and everything that we have of value. I will remain here with the old men and the children, and perhaps by the mercy of God the enemy will take pity on our weakness.”1
All the able-bodied men of the community, to the number of thirty, departed, and having loaded a boat with the relics, sacred vases, and other valuables, took refuge in the neighbouring marshes. There remained in the choir only the abbot, a few infirm old men, two of whom were upwards of an hundred years old, and some children, whom their parents, according to the devotional custom of the period, were bringing up under the monastic habit. They continued to chant the psalms at all the regular hours; when that of the mass arrived, the abbot placed himself at the altar in his sacerdotal robes. All present received the communion, and almost at the same moment the Danes entered the church. The chief who marched at their head killed with his own hand the abbot at the foot of the altar, and the soldiers seized the monks, young and old, whom terror had dispersed. They tortured them, one by one, to make them reveal where their treasure was concealed, and on their refusing to answer, cut off their heads. As the prior fell dead, one of the children, ten years of age, who was greatly attached to him, fell on his body, embracing him, weeping, and asking to die with him. His voice and face struck one of the Danish chiefs; moved with pity, he drew the child out of the crowd, and taking off his frock, and throwing over him a Danish cassock, said: “Come with me, and quit not my side for a moment.” He thus saved him from the massacre, but no others were spared. After having vainly sought the treasure of the abbey, the Danes broke open the marble tombs in the church, and, furious at not finding any riches in them, scattered the bones, and set fire to the church. They then proceeded eastward, to the monastery of Peterborough.1
This monastery, one of the chefs-d’œuvre of the architecture of the period, had, according to the Saxon style, massive walls pierced with small semi-circular windows, which rendered it the more easy to defend. The Danes found the doors closed, and were received with arrows and stones by the monks and the country people who had shut themselves up with them: in the first assault, one of the sons of Lodbrog, whose name the chroniclers do not mention, was mortally wounded; but, after two attacks, the Danes entered by storm, and Hubbo, to revenge his brother, killed, with his own hand, all the monks, to the number of eighty-four. The apartments were pillaged, the sepulchres burst open, and the library used to feed the fire applied to the building: the conflagration lasted fifteen whole days.
During a night march of the army towards Huntingdon, the boy whom a Danish chief had saved at Croyland, escaped, and regained the ruins of his late abode. He found the thirty monks returned, and employed in extinguishing the fire, which still burned. He recounted to them the massacre with every detail; and all, full of grief, proceeded to seek the bodies of their brethren. After several days labour, they found that of the abbot, headless and crushed by a beam; the rest were afterwards discovered, and buried near the church in one grave.2
3 These disasters occurred partly in the territory of Mercia, and partly in that of East Anglia, or Eastern English. The king of the latter country, Edmund, speedily paid the penalty of the indifference with which, three years before, he had witnessed the invasion of Northumbria; surprised by the Danes in his royal residence, he was led a prisoner before the sons of Lodbrog, who haughtily commanded him to acknowledge himself their vassal. Edmund pertinaciously refused; whereupon the Danes, having bound him to a tree, essayed upon him their skill in archery. They aimed at the arms and legs, without touching the body, and at length terminated this barbarous sport by striking off the head of the Saxon king with an axe. He was a man of little merit or reputation, but his death procured for him the greatest renown then attainable, that of holiness and martyrdom. Common opinion, in the middle ages, sanctified the memory of any one who had perished by the hand of the pagans; but here something else was in operation, a peculiar feature of the Anglo-Saxon character, the tendency to surround patriotic sufferers with a religious halo, and to regard as martyrs those who had died defending the national cause, or persecuted by its enemies.
East-Anglia, entirely subjected, became, like Northumberland, a Danish kingdom, and a point of emigration with the adventurers of the north. The Saxon king was replaced by a sea king, called Godrun, and the indigenous population, reduced to a state of demi-servitude, lost all property in their territory, and in future cultivated it for the foreigners. This conquest involved in great danger the kingdom of Mercia, which, already encroached upon in its eastern portion, had the Danes upon two of its frontiers. The ancient kingdoms of Eastsex, Kent, and Suth-sex, had no longer an independent existence; for more than a century past they had all three been annexed to that of West-sex (Wessex), or of the western Saxons.1 Thus the struggle was between two Danish kingdoms and two Saxon kingdoms. The kings of Mercia and Wessex, hitherto rivals and enemies, leagued together in defence of that portion of England which remained free; but despite their utmost efforts, the whole of the territory north of the Thames was overrun; Mercia became a Danish province; and of the eight kingdoms originally founded by the Saxons and the Angles, but one alone remained, that of Wessex, which at this time extended from the mouth of the Thames to the Bristol Channel.
In the year 871, Ethelred, son of Ethelwolf, king of Wessex, was mortally wounded in a battle with the Danes, who had passed the Thames and invaded his territory. He left several children; but the national election fell upon his brother Alfred, a young man of two and twenty, whose courage and military skill inspired the Saxons with the most vivid hopes.1 Alfred twice succeeded, by arms or negotiation, in relieving his kingdom from the presence of the Danes; he repulsed several attempts to invade his southern provinces by sea, and for seven years maintained the boundary line of the Thames. It is probable that no other Danish army would ever have overpassed that boundary, had the king of Wessex and his people been thoroughly united; but there existed between them germs of discord of a very singular nature.
King Alfred was more learned than any of his subjects; while quite a youth he had visited the southern countries of Europe, and had closely observed their manners; he was conversant with the learned languages, and with most of the writings of antiquity. This superior knowledge created in the Saxon king a certain degree of contempt for the nation he governed. He had small respect for the information or intelligence of the great national council, the Assembly of Wise Men. Full of the ideas of absolute power, that so frequently recur in the Roman writers, he had an ardent desire for political reforms, and framed infinite plans, better in themselves, we may perhaps concede, than the ancient Anglo-Saxon practices they were destined to replace, but wanting in that essential requisite, the sanction of a people who neither understood nor desired these changes. Tradition has vaguely preserved some severe features of Alfred’s government; and long after his death, men used to speak of the excessive rigour he applied to the punishment of prevaricators and other evil judges.2 Although this severity had for its object the good of the Anglo-Saxon nation, it was far from agreeable to a people, who at that time more highly valued the life of a free man than regularity in the administration of public affairs.
Besides, this rigour of king Alfred towards the great, was not accompanied by affability towards the small; he defended these, but he did not like them; their petitions and their appeals were distasteful to him, and his house was closed against them.
“If any needed his aid,” says a contemporary writer, “whether in a case of personal necessity, or against the oppression of the powerful, he disdained to give audience to their plaint; he gave no support to the weak, regarding them as of no consideration whatever.”1
Thus, when, seven years after his election, this learned king, unconsciously odious, having to repel a formidable invasion of the Danes, summoned his people to defend the land, he was fearfully astonished to find them indisposed to obey him, and even careless about the common peril. It was in vain that he sent to each town and hamlet his war messenger, bearing an arrow and a naked sword, and that he published this ancient national proclamation, to which hitherto no Saxon, capable of bearing arms, had refused obedience: “Let each man that is not a nothing, whether in the town or country, leave his house and come.”2 Very few men on this occasion accepted the invitation; and Alfred accordingly found himself almost alone, surrounded solely by the small circle of private friends who admired his learning, and whom he sometimes affected to tears by reciting his works to them.3
Favoured by this indifference of the nation towards the chief whom itself had chosen, the enemy made rapid progress. Alfred, abandoned by his people,4 in turn abandoned them, and quitting, says an ancient historian, his warriors, his captains, and all his people, fled to save his life.5 Concealing himself as he went, in the woods and on the moors, he reached, on the limits of the Cornish Britons, the confluence of the rivers Tone and Parret. Here, in a peninsula surrounded by marshes, the Saxon king sought refuge, under a feigned name, in the hut of a fisherman, compelled himself to bake the bread which his indigent host permitted him to share with his family. Very few of the people knew what had become of him,6 and the Danish army entered his kingdom without opposition. Many of the inhabitants embarked from the western coasts to seek an asylum in Gaul, or in Erin, called by the Saxons, Ireland;1 the remainder submitted to pay tribute, and to cultivate the land for the Danes. It was not long ere they found the ills of conquest a thousand times worse than those of Alfred’s rule, which in the hour of suffering had appeared to them insupportable, and they regretted their former condition and the despotism of a king chosen from among themselves.2
3 On his part, calamity suggested to Alfred new thoughts, and he earnestly meditated the means of saving his people, and of regaining their favour. Fortified in his island against hostile surprise by entrenchments of wood and earth, he led there the wild and rugged life reserved in all conquered countries for those of the conquered who will not submit to slavery, the life of a brigand in the woods and marshes and mountain gorges. At the head of his friends, formed into bands, he pillaged for their support the Danes, enriched with Saxon spoils, or failing these, the Saxons who obeyed them and acknowledged them as masters. All whom the Danish yoke burdened, all who had become guilty of high treason to the men in power, by defending against them their goods, their wives, or their daughters, came to range themselves under the orders of the unknown chief who refused to share the general servitude. After a systematic warfare of stratagems, surprises, and nocturnal combats, the partisan leader resolved to avow himself, to make an appeal to the whole western country, and openly to attack, under the Anglo-Saxon standard, the Danish head-quarters, at Ethandun, on the borders of Wiltshire and Somersetshire, close to a forest called Selwood, or the Great Forest.4 Before giving the decisive signal, Alfred determined to make a personal observation of the Danish position; he entered their camp disguised as a harper, and with his Saxon songs entertained the Danish army, whose language differed very little from his own;5 he visited every part of the encampment, and on his return to his own quarters despatched messengers throughout the surrounding country, appointing as the rendezvous for all Saxons who would arm and fight under his command, a place called Egberthes-stane (Egbert’s-stone), on the eastern edge of Selwood, and a few miles from the enemy’s camp.
During three consecutive days, armed men from all quarters arrived at the spot indicated, singly or in small bands. Each new comer was hailed by the name of brother, and received with cordial and tumultuous joy. Some rumours of the movement reached the camp of the Danes; they discerned around them symptoms of agitation; but, as every Saxon was true to his cause, their information on the subject was extremely vague, and not knowing precisely where the insurrection would commence, they took no further steps than doubling their outposts. It was not long ere they saw the White Horse, the banner of Wessex, bearing down upon them. Alfred attacked their redoubts at Ethandun in the weakest point, carried them, drove out all the Danes, and, as the Saxon chronicles expresses it, remained master of the carnage, (Wœl-stow.)
Once dispersed, the Danes did not again rally, and Godrun, their king, did that which was a frequent occurrence with people of his nation under circumstances of peril: he promised that if the conquerors would relinquish their pursuit of him, he and his people would be baptised, and retire to their territories in East Anglia, and henceforth live there in peace. The Saxon king, who was not in a position to carry matters to extremity, accepted the proposal; Godrun, with his captains, swore on a bracelet consecrated to their gods1 that they would in all good faith receive baptism. King Alfred officiated as spiritual father to the Danish chief, who, putting the neophytical white robe over his armour, departed with the wreck of his army for the land whence he had come, and where he engaged for the future to remain. The limits of the two populations were fixed by a definitive treaty, sworn to, as its preamble set forth, by Alfred, king; Godrun, king; all the Anglo-Saxon wise-men, and all the Danish people.2 These limits were, on the south, the course of the Thames as far as the Lea, which discharges its waters into the greater stream not far from London; on the north and east, the Ouse and the great highroad constructed by the Britons and renewed by the Romans, called by the Saxons Wetlenga-street, the way of the sons of Wetla.1
The Danes settled in the towns of Mercia, and in the country north of the Humber, did not consider themselves bound by the agreement between Alfred and Godrun, and the war accordingly still proceeded on the northern frontier of Wessex. The ancient kingdoms of Sussex (Suthsex, Suth-Seaxna-land) and Kent, delivered by him from foreign servitude, unanimously proclaimed Alfred their liberator and their king. Not a single voice was raised against him, either in his own country, where his former unpopularity had been effaced by his recent services, or in those which his predecessors had by conquest subjected to their sway.2 All those portions of England which were not occupied by the Danes, thenceforth formed one single state; and thus for ever disappeared the ancient division of the English people into various peoples, corresponding in number to the bands of emigrants which had incessantly come from the islands and coasts of Germany.3 The flood of Danish invasion had permanently thrown down the line of fortresses which had before separated kingdom from kingdom, and isolation, frequently hostile, was now replaced by the union ever produced by common misfortunes and common hopes.
When the general division of Anglo-Saxon England into kingdoms was abolished, the other territorial divisions assumed an importance which they had not previously possessed.
It is from this period that historians begin to make mention of skires, scires, shires, or portions of kingdoms,1 and of hundreds and tithings, local circumscriptions, indeed, as old in England as the establishment of the Saxons and Angles, but of which little notice was taken, while there prevailed above them a more extended political circumscription. The custom of reckoning families as simple units, and then aggregating them in tens or hundreds, to form districts and hundreds, is found amongst all peoples of Teutonic origin. If this institution plays a principal part in the laws which bear the name of Alfred, it is not that he invented it, but, on the contrary, because, finding it deeply rooted in the soil of England, and well nigh uniformly diffused throughout all the kingdoms he peacefully annexed to that of Wessex, it was essential for him to make it the great basis of his regulations for the establishment of public order. He himself instituted neither tythings nor hundreds, nor the municipal officers called tything-men and hundred-men, nor even that form of procedure which, modified by the action of time, resulted in trial by jury. All these things existed among the Saxons and Angles prior to their emigration.
The king of Wessex, after his second accession to the throne, acquired such celebrity as a brave, and more especially as a wise man, that we scarce meet in history with any trace of that unpopularity under which he at first laboured. Without relaxing in his earnest care to maintain the independence he had achieved for his people, Alfred found leisure for the studies he still loved, but now without preferring them to the men for whom he destined their fruit. There have come down to us from his pen, productions in verse and in prose, remarkable for their wealth of imagination, and for that luxurious imagery which constitutes the distinctive character of the old German literature.2
The remainder of Alfred’s life was occupied in these labours, and in war. The oath sworn to him by the Danes of East Anglia, first on the bracelet of Odin, and then on the cross of Christ, was broken by them at the first appearance of a fleet of pirates on their coasts. They saluted the new comers as brothers, and the combined influence of the recollections thus awakened, and of national sympathy, induced them to quit the fields they were cultivating, and to detach from the smoke-discoloured beam, where it had been peacefully suspended, the weighty battle-axe, or the club bristling with iron spikes, which they called the Morghen stürna (star of the morning). Very soon afterwards, in their case violating no treaty, the Danes of the Humber marched towards the south, to join, with the men of East Anglia, the army of the famous seaking, Hasting, who adopting, as the southern poets expressed it, the ocean for his home,1 passed his life in sailing from Denmark to the Orcades, from the Orcades to Gaul, from Gaul to Ireland, from Ireland to England.
Hasting found the English, under king Alfred, well prepared to receive him as an enemy, and not as a master. He was defeated in several engagements; a portion of his routed army took refuge among the Northumbrian Danes; another body became incorporated with the Danes of East Anglia; such of them as had realised any booty by their sea and land expeditions, became citizens in the towns, and farmers in the country districts; the poorer sort repaired to their ships, and followed their indefatigable chief to new enterprises. They crossed the English channel and ascended the Seine.2 Hasting, standing at the prow of his own vessel, was wont to collect the other vessels of his corsair-fleet by the sound of an ivory horn, which hung from his neck, and which the inhabitants of Gaul called the thunder.3 On the instant that this dreaded blast was heard in the distance, the Gaulish serf quitted the field on which he was employing his compulsory labours, and fled, with his little property, to the depths of the neighbouring forests; while his master, the noble Frank, filled with equal terror, raised the drawbridge of his stronghold, hastened to the donjon to examine the state of the armoury, and buried the money-tribute he had been levying from the surrounding district.1
On the death of the good king Alfred, his son Edward,2 who had distinguished himself in the war against Hasting, was elected by the Anglo-Saxon chieftains and wise men to succeed him. Ethelwald,3 a son of Ethelred, Alfred’s elder brother and predecessor, was daring enough to protest, in the name of his hereditary rights, against the national choice. This pretension was not only rejected; it was regarded as an outrage upon the laws of the land, and the great council pronounced the banishment of the offender, who, instead of obeying the sentence thus legally passed upon him, threw himself, with some partisans, into the town of Wimborne, on the south-western coast, swearing that he would either maintain his position there or die.4 But he did not keep his oath: on the approach of the English army, he fled without a blow, and, taking refuge with the Northumbrian Danes, turned pagan and pirate. The Danes having, some time after, made him leader of an expedition against his countrymen, Ethelwald invaded the Anglo-Saxon territory, but was defeated and killed in the first encounter. Hereupon king Edward assumed the offensive against the Danes, expelled them from the eastern coast, from the mouth of the Thames to Boston Wash, and shut them up in their northern provinces by a line of fortresses, erected along the banks of the Humber.5 His successor, Ethelstan,6 passed that river, took York, and compelled the inhabitants of Scandinavian race to swear, in the customary form, that they would do all that he should command them to do.7 One of the Danish chiefs was honourably received in the palace of the Saxon king, and admitted to his table; but, four days of this peaceful life sufficed to disgust him: he fled to the sea-coast, and embarked in a pirate ship, as incapable as a fish, says an ancient historian, of living out of water.1
The English army advanced to the Tweed, and Northumberland was annexed to the territories of Ethelstan, who was thus the first king that ever reigned over all England. In the ardour of this triumph, the Anglo-Saxons overpassed their ancient northern limit, and perturbated by an invasion the descendants of the Picts and Scots, and the tribe of ancient Britons who inhabited the valley of the Clyde. An offensive league was immediately formed between these nations, and the Danes arriving from beyond seas to deliver their countrymen from the domination of the men of the south. Olaf, son of Sithrik, last Danish king of Northumberland, was named generalissimo of this confederation, which comprised within its ranks the men of the Baltic, the Danes of the Orcades, the Galls or Gael of the Hebrides, armed with the long two-handed sword which they called glay-more or the great sword, the Galls of the Grampians, and the Cambrians of Dumbarton and Galloway (latinè Galwidia), bearing long, slight pikes. The two armies met north of the Humber, at a place called in Saxon Brunanburgh, or the town of fountains (Bamborough). Victory declared for the English, who compelled the wreck of the confederates to make a painful retreat to their ships, their islands, and their mountains. The conquerors named this day the Day of the Great Fight,2 and celebrated it in national songs, fragments of which have come down to us.
“The king Ethelstan, chief of chiefs, he who bestows the collar of honour on the brave, and his brother, the noble Edmund, fought at Brunanburgh with the edge of the sword. They clove the wall of the bucklers, they threw down the warriors of renown, the race of the Scots, and the men of the ships.
“Olaf fled with the petty remnant of his people, and wept upon the waters. The foreigner speaks not of this battle, seated at his fire-side, with his family; for their relations fell in it, and their friends returned not from it. The kings of the north, in their council-halls, will lament that their warriors ventured to play the game of carnage with the sons of Edward.
“King Ethelstan and his brother Edmund returned to the land of Wessex. They left behind them the raven feasting on corses, the black raven with the pointed beak, and the toad with hoarse voice, and the eagle famishing for flesh, and the voracious kites, and the yellow wolf of the woods.
“Never was there greater carnage in this island, never did more men perish by the edge of the sword, since the day when the Saxons and Angles came from the east across the ocean, and entering Britain, noble war-makers, vanquished the Welsh,1 and took possession of the country.”
2 Ethelstan made the Cambrians of the south pay dearly for the succour which their northern brethren had afforded to the enemy; he ravaged the territory of the Welsh, and imposed tribute upon them; the king of Aberfraw, as the old instruments express it, paid to the king of London tribute in money, in oxen, in falcons, and in dogs of chace.3 The Cornish Britons, expelled from the city of Exeter, which hitherto they had inhabited conjointly with the English,4 were driven beyond the Tamar, which then became, as it still continues, the boundary of Cornwall. Ethelstan subjected to his power, by war or by policy, all the populations of various origin which inhabited the Isle of Britain.5 He appointed as governor of the Northumbrian Anglo-Danes, a Norwegian, Erik, son of Harold, a veteran pirate, who turned Christian to obtain this command.
On the day of his baptism, he swore to maintain and defend Northumberland against all pirates and pagans, Danes or otherwise;6 from a sea-king he became a provincial king, a folk-king, as the Scandinavians expressed it.7 But this too pacific dignity soon ceased to please, and he returned to his ships. After some years’ absence, he revisited the Northumbrians, who received him joyfully, and again adopted him as their chief, without the sanction of king Edred,1 Ethelstan’s successor. This king accordingly marched against them, and compelled them to abandon Erik, who, in his turn, in revenge for their desertion, attacked them, by the aid of five pirate-bands from Denmark, the Orcades and the Hebrides. He fell in the first encounter, and with him the five sea-kings his allies.2 His death, glorious in the eyes of a Scandinavian, was celebrated by the skalds or northern poets, who, paying no heed to the baptism which Erik had received from the English, placed him in a far different paradise from that of the Christians.
“I have dreamt a dream,” chants the panegyrist of the pirate; “Methought I was at daybreak in the hall of Walhalla,3 preparing all things for the reception of the men killed in battles.
“I awakened the heroes from their sleep; I asked them to rise, to arrange the seats and the drinking cups, as for the coming of a king.
“ ‘What means all this noise?’ cried Braghi;4 ‘why are so many men in motion, and why all this ordering of seats?’ ‘It is because Erik is on his way to us,’ replied Odin; ‘I await him with joy. Let some go forth to meet him.’
“ ‘How is it that his coming pleases thee more than the coming of any other king?’—‘Because in more battle-fields has his sword been red with blood; because in more places has his ensanguined spear diffused terror.’
“ ‘I salute thee, Erik, brave warrior! enter; thrice welcome art thou to this abode. Say, what kings accompany thee; how many come with thee from the combat?’
“ ‘Five kings accompany me,’ replied Erik; ‘I am the sixth.’ ”5
The territory of the Northumbrians had now lost that title of kingdom which it had hitherto preserved, and was divided out into provinces. The district between the Humber and the Tees was called Yorkshire,—in Saxon, Everwicshire. The rest of the country, as far as the Tweed, retained the general name of Northumbria, Northan-humbra-land, though with several local circumscriptions, such as the land of the Cambrians, Cumbra-land, next to the Solway Firth; the land of the Western Mountains, Westmoringa-land; and lastly, Northumberland proper, along the coast of the eastern sea, between the rivers Tyne and Tweed. The Northumbrian chiefs, in passing under the supreme authority of the Anglo-Saxon kings, retained the Danish title they had borne since the invasion; they continued to be called ïarls, or eorls according to the Saxon orthography of the word. The original signification of the term is no longer known, but the Scandinavians applied it to every description of commander, military or civil, who acted as lieutenant of the supreme chief, the kining or king. By degrees the Anglo-Saxons introduced their new title into their southern and western territories, qualifying by it the magistrates to whom was delegated the government of the larger provinces, formerly called kingdoms, and the supremacy over all the local magistrates, over the administrators of shires, scire-gerefas, shire-reeves, sheriffs, over the administrators of towns, port gerefas, port reeves, and over the ealdermen, aldermen. The latter title, before the introduction of that of eorl, had been the generic appellation of the higher Anglo-Saxon magistracies; it thenceforward descended a step, and was only applied to inferior jurisdictions and to municipal dignitaries.
Most of the new Danish citizens of England turned Christians in order to remove from themselves one marked indication of alienship. Several, in consideration of grants of land, assumed the title and the employment of perpetual defenders of the church, of that church whose edifices, before, they had with such peculiar delight destroyed and burned. Some of them even entered religious orders, and professed a rigid and sombre austerity, a reminiscence under another form, of the rugged, though free, condition of their former life.1
In the revolution which combined all England, from the Tweed to Cape Cornwall, in one sole and undivided body politic, the power of the kings, now monarchs, acquired force with extension, and became, for each of the populations thus united together, more oppressive than the ancient sway of its own peculiar kings had been. The association of the Anglo-Danish provinces with the Anglo-Saxon provinces necessarily involved the latter to a certain extent in the strict and distrustful system which weighed upon the former, as peopled with foreigners who were subjects against their will. The same kings, exercising concurrently in the north the right of conquest, in the south that of legitimate sovereignty, soon yielded to the tendency to confound these two characters of their power, and to make but a very slight distinction between the Anglo-Dane and the Anglo-Saxon, the foreigner and the native, the subjugated and the subject. They began to entertain an exaggerated idea of themselves and of their power; they surrounded themselves with a pomp hitherto unknown; they ceased to be popular like their predecessors, who, invoking the people as councillor in all things,1 ever found the people ready to do that which itself had counselled. Their conduct created new sources of weakness for England. Great as she henceforth seemed to be, under chiefs whose titles of honour occupied several lines,2 she was in reality less capable of resisting an external enemy than at the period when, with few provinces, but these governed alike without display and without despotism, she saw inscribed at the head of her national laws these simple words:—“I, Alfred, king of the West Saxons.”
The Danish inhabitants of England, unwilling subjects of kings of foreign race, had their eyes constantly directed towards the sea, in the hope that some favourable breeze would bring them liberators and leaders from their old country. They had not long to wait; in the reign of Ethelred, son of Edgard, the descents of the Northmen upon Britain, which had never been wholly discontinued, suddenly assumed a very menacing character. Seven war-ships appeared off the coast of Kent, and their crews pillaged the isle of Thanet; three more vessels, sailing from the south, ravaged the vicinity of Southampton, while other pirate troops landed on the eastern coast, and took up positions on several points. The alarm extended itself to London: Ethelred immediately convoked the great national council; but, under this supine and ostentatious monarch, the assembly was composed of bishops and courtiers more disposed to flatter the prince and encourage his indolence, than to give him sound advice.1 Conforming to the king’s aversion for anything like prompt or energetic measures, they thought they could get rid of the Danes by offering them a sum equivalent to the gain which these pirates had calculated upon realizing by their invasion of England.
There existed, under the name of Dane-money, Dane-gheld,2 an impost of twelvepence upon every hide of land throughout the country, levied from time to time for the payment of the troops who guarded the coasts against the Scandinavian corsairs.3 This money the council proposed to give the new invaders, in the shape of a tribute: the offer was accepted, and the first payment, amounting to £10,000, received, on condition of their forthwith quitting England. They departed accordingly, but only to return in greater numbers, for the purpose of obtaining a larger sum. Their fleet sailed up the Humber, devastating both banks. The Saxon inhabitants of the adjacent provinces ran in arms to give the enemy battle; but on the eve of combat, three of their leaders, Danes by origin, betrayed them, and passed over to the foe. Every Northumbrian Dane abandoned his new faith and his new fidelity, and made close friendship and alliance with the pagan pirates from the Baltic.4
The breezes of spring wafted up the Thame a fleet of eighty war-ships, commanded by two kings, Olaf of Norway, and Swen of Denmark,5 the latter of whom, after having received baptism, had returned to the worship of Odin. The two kings, in token of possession, having planted one lance on the shore of the Thames, and thrown another into the current of the first river they crossed after landing, marched, says an old historian, escorted by their wonted leaders, fire and sword.1 Ethelred, whose consciousness of his unpopularity made him fear to assemble an army,2 once more proposed to give money to the enemy, on condition of their retiring in peace; they demanded eighty thousand pounds, which the king immediately paid them, satisfied with their promises and with the conversion of a Danish chief, who received in Winchester cathedral, amid vast ceremony, that baptism which one of the Danes present on the occasion contemptuously declared that he had already received twenty times, without the slightest effect.3
The truce granted by the invaders was far from being a peaceful truce; in the vicinity of their cantonments they outraged the women and slew the men.4 Their insolence and their excesses raising the indignation of the natives to the highest point, brought about, ere long, one of those acts of national vengeance which it is alike difficult to condemn or to justify, because a noble instinct, the hatred of oppression, is mixed up in them with the indulgence of atrocious passions. In pursuance of a vast conspiracy, formed under the eyes and with the connivance of the royal magistrates and officers, all the Danes of the late invasion, men, women, and children, were, in the same hour of the same day, attacked and killed in their quarters, by their hosts and neighbours. This massacre, which excited general attention, and the odious circumstances of which afterwards served as a pretext for the enemies of the English nation, took place on St. Brice’s day, in the year 1003. It did not extend to the northern and eastern provinces, where the Danes, longer established, and become cultivators or citizens, formed the majority of the population; but all the recent invaders, with very few exceptions, perished, and among them a sister of the king of Denmark. To avenge this massacre, and to punish what he called the treason of the English people, king Swen assembled an army far more numerous than the first, and in which, if we are to credit the ancient historians, there was not a single slave, or even freed man, nor an old man, every soldier in it being noble, or a free man, the son of a free man, and in the full vigour of life.1
This army embarked in tall ships, each of which had a distinctive badge designating its commander. Some had at the prow figures of lions, bulls, dolphins, men, in gilt copper; others bore at their mast-head birds spreading their wings and turning with the wind; the sides of the ships were painted in various colours, and the bucklers of polished steel were suspended along them in rows.2 The king’s own ship had the elongated form of a serpent, the prow forming its head, the twisted stern its tail; it was on this account called the Great Dragon.3 On landing in England, the Danes, falling into battalions, unfurled a mystic standard, termed by them the Raven. It was a flag of white silk, in the centre of which appeared the black figure of a raven, with open beak and outspread wings; three of king Swen’s sisters had worked it in one night, accompanying their labour with magic songs and gestures.4 This banner, which, according to the superstitious ideas of the Scandinavians, was a certain pledge of victory, augmented the ardour and confidence of the invaders. In every place they visited on their way, writes an old historian, they gaily ate the repast unwillingly prepared for them, and on departing, slew the host and burned his house.5
They seized all the horses they could find, and, according to the tactics of their predecessors, converting themselves into cavalry, rapidly traversed the country, and, presenting themselves in directions where they were wholly unexpected, surprised castles and towns, one after another. In a very short time they had conquered all the south-eastern provinces, from the mouth of the Ouse to Spithead. King Ethelred, who was never prepared to fight, could devise no other expedient than to purchase truces of a few days each, for various sums of money—a temporizing policy, which compelled him to burden the people with constantly increasing taxes.1 Thus the English who had the good fortune to escape being pillaged by the Danes, could not avoid the oppressive exactions of their own king; so that, under the one form if not under the other, they were sure to be stripped of all they possessed.
While the administrators of England thus made their dastardly bargains with the foreign foe at the expense of the people, there was one man found who, a rich and powerful magnate of the land, preferred death to giving a sanction to such conduct by his own example. This was the archbishop of Canterbury, Elfeg. A prisoner of the Danes, on the capture of his metropolitan city, and dragged among their baggage from encampment to encampment, he remained day after day in chains, without even uttering the word ransom. The Danes, first breaking this silence, offered to restore their captive to liberty on condition of his paying them three thousand gold pieces, and counselling king Ethelred to give them four times that amount in addition. “I have no money of my own,” replied the archbishop; “and I will not deprive my ecclesiastical territory of one penny on my account; neither will I counsel my sovereign aught that is contrary to the honour of my country.”2 The Danes, more eager for money than for the archbishop’s blood, pressed their demand. “You urge me in vain,” replied Elfeg; “I am not one who will furnish Christian flesh for pagan teeth to tear, and it were doing so to give up to you that which my poor people have been saving for their sustenance.”3
The Danes at length lost all patience, and one day that they had been drinking copiously of wine just brought them from the south, they bethought themselves of trying the archbishop, by way of pastime. He was led bound, and seated upon a miserable horse, to the centre of the encampment, which served alike for the council-chamber, the judgment-seat, and the banqueting-hall; here the chiefs and the more distinguished warriors were seated in a circle, on great stones; close by was a heap of the bones, the jaws and horns of the oxen consumed at the recent repast.1 As soon as the Saxon prelate was in the midst of the circle, a great cry arose from all around: “Gold, bishop, gold, or we will cause thee play a game shall make thee noted through the world.”2 Elfeg calmly replied: “I offer you the gold of wisdom, that you renounce your superstitions and be converts to the true God; if you heed not this counsel, know that you shall perish as Sodom, and shall take no root in this land.” At these words, which they regarded as a menace to themselves and an insult to their religion, the mock judges rose furiously from their seats, and rushing upon the archbishop, beat him to the earth with the backs of their hatchets; several of them then ran to the heap of bones, and taking up some of the largest, rained a deluge of blows upon the prostrate Saxon. The archbishop, having fruitlessly endeavoured to kneel, in order to offer up a last prayer, fell forward in a senseless condition; his sufferings were terminated by the barbarous compassion of a soldier, whom he had converted and baptised on the previous day, and who now split his skull with his axe. The murderers at first intended to throw the corpse into a neighbouring marsh; but the Anglo-Saxons, who honoured Elfeg as a martyr for Christ’s and for his country’s sake, purchased the body at a heavy cost, and buried it at London.3
Meantime king Ethelred practised without any scruple that which the archbishop of Canterbury, at the sacrifice of his life, had refused to counsel him to do. One day his collectors of taxes levied the tribute for the Danes; next day the Danes themselves came and exacted the tribute over again, on their own account.4 On their departure, the royal agents again presented themselves, and treated the wretched people more harshly than before, reproaching them as traitors and as purveyors for the enemy.5 The real purveyor for the Danes, Ethelred, at length exhausted the patience of the people who had made him king for the common defence. Hard to bear as foreign domination might be, it was deemed better to undergo it at once, than to await, amid constant suffering, under a king alike without valour and without virtue, the moment when, instead of subjection, there would be slavery. Several of the midland provinces submitted spontaneously to the Danes; Oxford and Winchester soon afterwards opened their gates, and Swen, advancing through the western countries as far as the Bristol Channel, assumed, without opposition, the title of king of all England.1 Terrorstruck at finding himself thus forsaken, Ethelred fled to the Isle of Wight, and thence passed over into Gaul, to seek an asylum with his wife’s brother, the chief of one of the western provinces, adjoining the mouth of the Seine.2
In wedding a foreigner, Ethelred had conceived the hope of obtaining from the powerful relations of his wife aid against the Danes; but he was deceived in this expectation. The union, which was to have procured defenders for England,3 had only the effect of bringing over from Gaul infinite solicitors for employment, greedy seekers of money and dignities. When the invasion came, it was found that all the towns which the weak monarch had entrusted to these foreigners were the first surrendered to the Danes.4 By a singular chance, the Gaulish prince whose alliance the king of England had sought as a support in the struggle against the power of Scandinavia, was himself of Scandinavian origin, the son of an old pirate chief who had conquered the Gaulish province he afterwards bequeathed as an inheritance to his posterity, had established in it his corsair comrades, and had, in common with them, formed of it a state which, after their own national appellation, he called Normandy, or the land of the Northmen.5
Normandy on the south adjoined Brittany, a state founded, as we have seen, by refugees from Britain; and on the east, the extensive country from which it had been severed, northern Gaul, which, since the settlement in it of the Franks, had borne the new name of France. The descendants of these German emigrants were still, after a lapse of five centuries, separated from the indigenous Gauls, less by manners and ideas than by social condition. It was in this profoundly marked difference between their social condition, and in the terms which served to express it, that the distinction between the races was most clearly indicated. In the tenth century, to designate civil liberty, there was, in the spoken language of France, but one word, frankise or franchise,1 according to the various dialects, and Franc signified at once free, powerful, and rich.
The mere invasion of the children of Merowig and the conversion of their kings to Catholicism, would not, perhaps, have sufficed to establish at this point the predominance of the conquering population. In less than three centuries after their settlement in Gaul, these terrible invaders had almost become Gauls; the regal descendants of Chlodowig, as inoffensive as their ancestors had been fierce and formidable, limited their ambition to a good table, and to riding about in an easy waggon, drawn by trained oxen.2 But at this period there existed between the Rhine and the Forest of Ardennes, in the territory called by the Franks Oster-rike, or Eastern-kingdom, a population in whom the Teutonic character had better resisted the influence of southern manners. Coming last to the conquest of Gaul, and excluded from the rich provinces and great cities of the south, it was filled with a desire to obtain a portion of that more valuable territory, and even to supplant in their possessions the Franks of Neoster-rike, or Western Kingdom.3 This daring project, long pursued with various success, became accomplished in the eighth century, when, under the outward form of a ministerial revolution, there was a regular invasion of the Neustrian Franks by the Austrasian Franks. A fresh division of lands took place throughout well nigh all Gaul; a second race of kings arose, strangers to the first, and the conquest, in its renewal, assumed a more durable character.
And this was not all; the warlike activity of the Franks, aroused by this powerful impulse, carried them in every direction beyond their ancient limits; they effected conquests towards the Danube and the Elbe, beyond the Pyrenees and the Alps. Masters of Gaul and of both banks of the Rhine, of the ancient territory of the Saxon confederation, and of a portion of the Slavonian provinces, of almost all Italy, and of the north of Spain, the second prince of the new dynasty, Karl, surnamed the Great—Charlemagne—exchanged his title of king for that of emperor or Cæsar, which had disappeared from the west for more than three centuries past. He was a man of indefatigable activity, and endowed with that administrative genius which embraces in its grasp the pettiest details alike with the great whole, and which, most remarkably, reappears from time to time, almost identically the same, at epochs the most differing from each other. But with all its resources, this genius, wanting the action of ages, could not fuse into a single body so many nations of various origin, manners, and language; under the outward semblance of union the natural isolation still subsisted, and to keep the empire from dissolution in its very cradle, the great emperor had to be in constant action on every point. So long as he himself lived, the peoples of the western continent, strangers to each other, remained aggregated under his vast domination; but this factitious union began to disappear when the Frank Cæsar had gone down, in imperial robes, to his tomb in the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle.
Soon, a spontaneous movement of revolt agitated, almost at the same moment, the whole of these unconsentingly associated nations. Gaul aimed at separation from Germany, Italy at separation from both. Each of these great masses of men, in its movement, drew with it the portion of the conquering people which dwelt in its bosom, as mistress of the soil, invested with titles of power and honour, Latin or German.1 Frank drew the sword against Frank, brother against brother, father against son. Three of the grandsons of Charlemagne fought against each other, in the centre of Gaul;2 one at the head of an army of Gauls and Gallo-Franks, another followed by Italians, the third commanding an army of Teutons and Slaves. This domestic dissension of the royal descendants of the Frankish Cæsar was but a reflection of the quarrel between these nations, and it was this circumstance which rendered it so protracted and so pertinacious. The kings made and unmade ten divisions of that empire which the peoples desired altogether to dissolve;1 they exchanged oaths in the German and in the Romane2 tongue, which they almost immediately violated, compelled to discord by the turbulence of the masses, whom no treaty could satisfy.
It was amidst this disorder, at a time when civil war raged from one end of the vast empire of the Franks to the other, that the Danish or Norman Vikings (Norman was the national designation by which they were known in Gaul,) afflicted the country with incessant invasions. Their mode of conducting war was entirely novel in its character, and such as to disconcert even the best framed measures of defence. Their fleets of large boats, impelled both by sail and by oar, entered the mouths of rivers, and ascending them sometimes up to their source, landed alternately on either bank, bands of intrepid and well-disciplined depredators. Whenever a bridge or other obstacle impeded the navigation, the crews drew their vessels on shore, and, placing them on rollers, conveyed them beyond the obstacle. From the greater they passed into the smaller rivers, and from one of these into another, seizing upon all the more considerable islands, which they fortified as winter quarters, depositing there, under huts constructed in rows, their booty and their captives.
Making their attacks thus by surprise, and, whenever they were prepared for, retreating with the utmost rapidity, they devastated whole districts to such an extent that, to use the expression of a contemporary writer, “where they had passed, no dog remained to bark.” Castles and fortified places were the sole refuge against them; but at this first epoch of their irruptions, very few of these existed, and even the walls of the old Roman towns were falling into decay. While the rich seigneurs flanked their manor-houses with turreted towers, and surrounded them with deep ditches, the inhabitants of the plains emigrated in crowds from their villages to the neighbouring forest, where they encamped in huts defended by palisades and felled trees. Ill protected by the kings, dukes, and counts of the land, who often entered into treaties with the enemy on their own account, at the expense of the peasantry, the latter sometimes became inspired with the courage of despair, and, armed merely with clubs, would encounter the axes of the Normans.1 In other cases, finding all resistance vain, depressed and demoralized, they renounced their baptismal vow to propitiate the pagan conqueror, and in token of initiation into the worship of the northern gods, ate of the flesh of a horse sacrificed at their altars. This apostasy was very general in the quarters most exposed to the disembarkation of the pirates, who even recruited their ranks from among the very people that had lost all by their ravages; we are, indeed, assured by ancient historians, that the famous sea-king, Hasting, was the son of a labourer near Troyes.
Nearly a century elapsed between the first and the second descent of the Normans upon Gaul, in which interval was accomplished, amid calamities of every description, the dismemberment of the empire founded by Karl the Great. Not only had there been detached from the Gaulish territory, lands whose natural limits had anciently separated them from it, but, in the very heart of that territory itself, there had taken place a division, based upon geographical congruities, upon local traditions, upon differences of language or dialects. Brittany, which, independent under the first Frankish dynasty, had been subjected by the second, commenced the movement, and, in the first half of the ninth century, became once more a separate state. She had her national princes, free from all foreign suzerainty, and even her conqueror-princes, who took from the grandson of Charlemagne the towns of Rennes, Vannes, and Nantes. Fifty years later, the ancient kingdom of the Visigoths, the district between the Loire, the Rhone, and the Pyrenees, after having long, and with various success, struggled against the Frank domination, became, under the name of Aquitaine or Guienne, a distinct sovereignty; whilst, on the other side of the Rhone, a new sovereignty was formed of Provence and the southern part of the ancient kingdom of the Burgundians. At the same time, the provinces along the Rhone, whither the flood of Germanic invasions had brought the Teutonic idiom, raised a political barrier between themselves and the countries where the Roman dialect prevailed. In the intermediate space left by these new states, that between the Loire, the Meuse, the Scheldt, and the Breton frontier, was compressed the kingdom of the Gallo-Franks, or France. Its extent exactly corresponded with that of the Neoster-rike, or a Neustrithe of the ancient Franks; but the latter name was now only applied to the westernmost seacoast, in the same way that its correlative, Oster-rike, or Austrasia, formerly extending over the whole of Germany, became insensibly limited to districts towards the Danube.
This new kingdom of France, the genuine cradle of modern France, contained a mixed population, German under one aspect, Gaulish or Roman under another; and foreigners applied to it different names according to the different point of view under which they regarded it. The Italians, the Spaniards, the English, and the Scandinavian nations called the people of Gaul Franks; but the Germans, who asserted this noble appellation for themselves, denied it to their western neighbours, whom they termed Wallons or Welches.1 In the country itself there prevailed another distinction: the landed proprietor in dwelling amidst his vassals and coloni, solely occupied in war or the chace, and who thus lived conformably with the manners of the ancient Franks, assumed the title of frank-man, or that of baron, both taken from the language of conquest.2 Those who had no manor-house, and who inhabited towns (villæ), hamlets, or villages, in masses, after the Roman fashion, derived from this circumstance a special designation: they were called villeins or manans (manentes).3 There were villeins reputed free, and villeins serfs of the glebe; but the freedom of the former, constantly menaced and even invaded by the lord, was feeble and precarious. Such was the kingdom of France, as to its extent and as to the different classes of men who inhabited it, when it underwent that grand invasion of the northern pirates which was to terminate the long series of such expeditions by a territorial dismemberment. For the cause of this famous event, we must turn to the history of the north.
About the close of the ninth century, Harold Harfagher (Harold with the beautiful hair), king of one portion of Norway, extended, by force of arms, his power over the remainder, and made of the whole country one sole kingdom. This destruction of a number of petty states previously free, did not take place without resistance; not only was the ground disputed inch by inch, but, after the conquest was completed, many of the inhabitants preferred expatriation and a wandering life on the sea, to the domination of a foreign ruler. These exiles infested the northern seas, ravaged the coasts and islands, and constantly laboured to excite their countrymen to insurrection. Political interest thus rendered the conqueror of Norway the most determined enemy of the pirates. With a numerous fleet he pursued them along the coasts of his own kingdom, and even to the Orcades and Hebrides, sinking their vessels, and destroying the stations they had formed in many of the islands of the northern seas. He, moreover, by the severest laws, prohibited the practice of piracy and of every species of armed exaction throughout his states.1
It was an immemorial custom of the Vikings to exercise upon every coast, without distinction, a privilege which they termed strandhug, or impressment of provisions. When a vessel found its stores drawing to an end, the pirate-crew landed at the first place where they perceived a flock insecurely guarded, and seizing upon the animals, killed them, cut them up, and carried them off without payment, or, at best, with a payment quite below the value of the goods. The strandhug was thus the scourage and terror of the country districts which lay along the sea-coast or the banks of rivers, and all the more so that it was at times exercised by men not professional pirates, but to whom power and wealth gave impunity.1
There was at the court of king Harold, among the ïrals or chieftains of the first rank, a certain Rognvald, whom the king greatly loved, and who had served him zealously in all his expeditions. Rognvald had several sons, all of them noted for their valour; of these, the most renowned was Rolf, or, by a sort of euphony common to many of the Teutonic names, Roll. He was so tall that, unable to make use of the small horses of his country, he always marched on foot, a circumstance which procured him the appellation of Gang-Roll, Roll the Walker. One day that the son of Rognvald, with his companions, was on his return from a cruise in the Baltic, before landing in Norway, he shortened sail off the coast of Wighen, and there, whether from actual want of provisions, or simply availing himself of a favourable opportunity, he exercised strandhug. Chance brought king Harold into the vicinity at the particular juncture; the peasants laid their complaints before him, and at once, without heeding the position of the offender, the monarch summoned a Thing, or great council of justice, to try Roll according to law. Ere the accused appeared before the assembly, which would in all probability sentence him to banishment, his mother hastened to the king, and implored for pardon; but Harold was inexorable. Hereupon this woman, inspired by anger, the result of maternal tenderness, proceeded to improvise, as frequently occurred with the Scandinavians when they were highly excited. Addressing herself to the king, she said to him, in verse: “Thou expellest from the country and treatest as an enemy a man of noble race; listen, then, to what I tell thee, it is dangerous to attack the wolf; when once he is angered, let the herd in the forest beware.”2
Despite these somewhat vague menaces, the sentence was pronounced; and Roll, finding himself banished for life, collected some vessels, and sailed towards the Hebrides. These islands had been adopted as an asylum by a portion of the Norwegians who emigrated after the conquests of Harold; and all these men were of high birth and great military reputation. The new comer entered into association with them for the purposes of piracy, and his vessels added to theirs formed a numerous fleet, which it was agreed should act under the orders, not of one sole chieftain, but of the confederates generally, Roll having no other pre-eminence than that of his personal merits and his name.1
Sailing from the Hebrides, the fleet doubled the extreme point of Scotland, and proceeding towards the south-east, entered the Scheldt; but as Gaul in that direction, naturally poor and already devastated on several occasions, offered very little to take, the pirates soon put to sea again. Going further south, they sailed up the Seine as far as Jumièges, five leagues from Rouen. It was just at this period that the limits of the kingdom of France had been definitely fixed between the Loire and the Meuse. To the protracted territorial revolutions which had lacerated that kingdom, there had succeeded a political revolution, the object of which, realized a century later, was the expulsion of the second dynasty of the Frank kings.2 The king of the French, a descendant of Karl the Great, and bearing his name, the only resemblance between them, was disputing the crown with a competitor whose ancestors had never worn that crown. By turns conquerors and conquered, the king of ancient race and the king by election were masters alternately; but neither the one nor the other was powerful enough to protect the country against foreign invasion; all the forces of the kingdom were engaged, on either side, in maintaining the civil war; no army, accordingly, presented itself to stay the pirates, or prevent them from pillaging and devastating both banks of the Seine.
The report of their ravages soon reached Rouen, and filled that city with terror. The inhabitants did not expect any succour, and despaired of being able to defend their walls, already in ruins from former invasions. Amidst the universal dismay, the archbishop of Rouen, a man of prudence and firmness, took upon himself to save the city, by capitulating with the enemy before the first attack.3 Without being deterred by the hatred often so cruelly testified by the pagans of the north towards the Christian clergy, the archbishop repaired to the camp, near Jumièges, and spoke to the Norman chief through the medium of an interpreter. He talked and did so well, promised so much, gave so much, says an old chronicler, that he concluded a truce with Roll and his companions, guaranteeing them admission to the city, and receiving from them, in return, an assurance that no violence should be committed by them. It was near the church of St. Morin, at one of the gates of the Seine, that the Norwegians peaceably landed. Having moored their vessels, all the chiefs went through the city in different directions; they attentively examined the ramparts, the quays, the fountains, and finding everything to their taste, resolved to make it the citadel and head quarters of their new establishment.1
After thus entering upon possession, the Norman chiefs, with their principal troops, continued to ascend the Seine. At the point where that river receives the waters of the Eure, they established a fortified camp, in order to await the arrival of a French army which was then on its march against them. King Carl, or Charles, as it was called in the Romane language, finding himself for the moment sole master of the kingdom, had resolved, by a great effort, to repel the new invasion: his troops, led by one Raghenold, or Regnauld, who bore the title of duke of France, took up a position on the right bank of the Eure, at some distance from the Norman camp. Among the counts who had hoisted their banners at the command of the king, to oppose the pagans, was a converted pagan, the famous sea-king, Hasting. Twenty years before, weary of a life of adventure, he had made his peace with the kingdom of France, accepting the county of Chartres. In the council of war, held by the French, Hasting, consulted in his turn, advised a parley with the enemy before risking a battle; although this advice was regarded with suspicion by many lords of the army, it prevailed; and Hasting departed with two persons who knew the Danish language, to communicate with the Normans.
The three envoys followed the course of the Eure, until they came opposite the spot where the confederates had raised their intrenchments. There, stopping and raising his voice so as to be heard on the opposite bank, the count de Chartres cried: “What, ho! brave warriors, what is the name of your lord?” “We have no lord,” replied the Normans, “we are all equal.”1 “For what purpose come you into this country? what seek you here?” “To drive out the inhabitants, or subject them to our power, and make for ourselves a country. But who art thou who speakest our language so readily?” The count replied: “Have you not heard of Hasting, the famous pirate, who scoured the seas with so many vessels, and did so much injury to this kingdom?” “Aye,” replied the Normans, “we have heard of him. Hasting began well, but he has made a bad ending.” “Will you submit to king Charles, who offers you fiefs and honours, on condition of faith and service?” “By no means; we will submit to no one, and all that we acquire by our arms we will assert the dominion of; go and tell this, if thou wilt, to the king, whose messenger thou art.”2
On his return to the camp, Hasting delivered this answer, and in the consultation which followed, advised them not to attempt to force the pagan intrenchments. “’Tis the counsel of a traitor,” cried a lord, named Rolland; and several others repeated the cry. The old sea-king, either from indignation, or because he felt himself not entirely without reproach, immediately quitted the army, and even abandoned his county of Chartres, going none knew whither. But his predictions were verified: on attacking the intrenched camp, the troops were totally defeated, and the duke of France perished by the hand of a fisherman of Rouen, who served in the Norwegian army.
Free to navigate the Seine at will, Roll and his companions ascended it to Paris, and laid siege to that city, but without being able to make themselves masters of it. One of the principal chiefs having been taken prisoner by the besieged, in order to redeem him, they concluded a year’s truce with king Charles, during which time they ravaged the northern provinces, which had ceased to be French. On the expiration of the truce, they returned in all haste to Rouen, from which city they proceeded to surprise Bayeux, which they took by assault, killing the count and many of the inhabitants. This count, Beranger, had a daughter of great beauty, named Popa, who, in the division of the booty, fell to the share of Roll, and whom the Scandinavian wedded, according to the rites of his religion and the law of his country.1
Evreux and several other neighbouring towns next fell into the hands of the Normans, who thus extended their dominion over the greater part of the territory to which the old name of Neustria was given. Guided by a certain political good sense, they ceased to be cruel when they no longer encountered resistance, and contented themselves with a tribute regularly levied upon the towns and country districts. The same good sense induced them to create a supreme chief, invested with permanent authority; the choice of the confederates fell upon Roll, “whom they made their king,” says an old chronicler; but this title, which was perhaps merely given him in the language of the north, was ere long replaced by the French title of duke or count. Pagan as he was, the new duke made himself popular with the native inhabitants. After having cursed him as a pirate, they loved him as a protector, whose power secured them at once from new attacks by sea, and from the miseries caused in the rest of the land by civil war.2
Having become a territorial power, the Normans carried on a better sustained, and, so to speak, more methodical war upon the French. They leagued themselves with other Scandinavians, probably Danes by origin, who occupied the mouth of the Loire, and agreed simultaneously to pillage the whole territory between that river and the Seine. The devastation extended into Burgundy and Auvergne. Paris, attacked a second time, resisted successfully, as did Chartres, Dijon, and other strong places; but many unfortified towns were destroyed or sacked. At last, in the year 912, sixteen years after the occupation of Rouen, the French, of all conditions, harassed by these continual hostilities, began to complain, and to demand that the war should be put an end to, at whatever price; the bishops, the counts, and the barons, remonstrated with the king; the citizens and peasants implored mercy as he passed. An old author has preserved the expression of the popular murmurs: “What do we see in all places? Churches burnt, people killed; by the fault of the king and his weakness, the Normans do as they please in the kingdom; from Blois to Senlis there is not an acre of corn, and no man dares labour either in the fields or in the vineyards. Unless the war be finished, we shall have dearth and dearness.”1 King Charles, who was surnamed the Simple, or the Fool,2 and to whom history has continued the former of these names, had sufficient good sense on this occasion to listen to the voice of the people; perhaps, also, in yielding to it, he thought to achieve a stroke of policy, and, by the alliance of the Normans, to secure himself against the powerful intrigues which tended to dethrone him.3 He convoked his barons and bishops in a grand council, and, according to the formula of the time, demanded of them aid and advice. All counselled him to conclude a truce, and to negotiate for peace.
The man best adapted successfully to conduct this negotiation was the archbishop of Rouen, who, notwithstanding the difference of religion, exercised the same kind of influence over Roll that the bishops of the fifth century had obtained over the conquerors of the Roman empire. His relations with the other bishops and with the lords of France had not been interrupted; perhaps he was even present at their consultations; but present or absent, he willingly undertook to convey and to support their offers of peace. The archbishop went to the son of Rognvald, and said to him—“King Charles offers you his daughter Gisla in marriage, with the hereditary seigneury of all the country situated between the river Epte and the borders of Brittany, if you consent to become Christian, and to live in peace with the kingdom.”1
The Norman this time did not answer. “We will obey no one:” other ideas, another ambition than that of an adventurer, had come to him, since he had governed no longer a mere band of pirates but a vast territory. Christianity, without which he could not rank as the equal of the great lords of France, had ceased to be repugnant to him; and the habit of living amidst Christians had extinguished the fanaticism of most of his companions. With regard to the marriage, he thought himself free to contract a new one, and, becoming a Christian, to dismiss the wife whom he had married with pagan ceremonies. “The words of the king are good,” said he to the archbishop; “but the land he offers me is insufficient; it is uncultivated and impoverished; my people would not derive from it the means of living in peace.” The archbishop returned to the king, who charged him to offer Flanders in his name, although he had in reality no other right over that kingdom than that of a disputed claim; but Roll did not accept this new proposal, replying that Flanders was a poor country, muddy, and full of swamps. Then, not knowing what else to give, Charles the Simple sent word to the Norman chief that, if he would, he should have in fief Brittany, conjointly with Neustria: this offer was of the same kind with the preceding, for Brittany was a free state, the suzerainty of the kings of France only extending there to the county of Rennes, taken from the French by the Breton princes half a century before. But Roll heeded little this; he did not perceive that they only gave him an old quarrel to fight out, and the arrangement was accepted.2
In order to ratify the treaty in the most solemn manner, the king of France and the chief of the Normans repaired to the village of St. Clair-sur-Epte. Each was accompanied by a numerous train; the French pitched their tents on the one bank of the river, and the Normans on the other. At the hour fixed for the interview, Roll approached the king, and, remaining standing, placed his hands between those of the monarch, pronouncing the formula:—
“Henceforth I am your vassal and your man, and I swear faithfully to protect your life, your limbs, and royal honour.” Then the king and the barons gave to the Norman chief the title of count, and swore to protect his life, his limbs, his honour, and all the territory set forth in the treaty of peace.1
The ceremony seemed at an end, and the new count was about to retire, when the Frenchmen said to him: “It is fitting that he who receives such a gift as this, should kneel before the king and kiss his foot.” But the Norman answered: “Never will I bend the knee before any man, or kiss the foot of any man.” The lords insisted on this formality, a last remnant of the etiquette formerly observed in the court of the Frank emperors; whereupon Roll, with an affected simplicity, signed to one of his men to come and kiss the king’s foot for him. The Norwegian soldier, stooping without bending the knee, took the king’s foot, and lifted it so high to put it to his mouth, that the king fell upon his back. Little accustomed to the niceties of ceremony, the pirates burst into a shout of laughter; there was a momentary tumult, but this absurd incident produced no serious result.2
Two clauses of the treaty remained to be fulfilled, the conversion of the new count or duke of Normandy, and his marriage with the daughter of the king; it was arranged that this double ceremony should take place at Rouen, and many of the high barons of France repaired thither as an escort to the bride. After a brief lesson, the son of Rognvald received baptism at the hands of the archbishop, to whose counsels he listened with the greatest docility. On quitting the baptismal font, the neophyte inquired the names of the most celebrated churches and of the most revered saints in his new country. The archbishop repeated to him the names of six churches and three saints, the Virgin, Saint Michael and Saint Peter. “And who is the most powerful protector?” asked the duke. “Saint Denis,” answered the archbishop. “Well, before dividing my land among my companions, I will give a part of it to God, to Saint Mary, and to the other saints whom you have named.”1 And during the seven days he wore the white habit of the newly baptised, he gave each day an estate to one of the seven churches that had been indicated to him. Then, having resumed his ordinary dress, he occupied himself with political affairs and with the grand partition of Normandy among the Norwegian emigrants.2
The country was divided out by the cord, say the old chroniclers: such was the mode of mensuration used in Scandinavia. All the lands, whether desert or cultivated, except those of the churches, were shared out afresh, without any attention to the rights of the natives. The companions of Roll, chiefs or soldiers, became, according to their rank, seigneurs of the towns and rural districts, sovereign proprietors, great or small, of domains. The former proprietors were compelled to accommodate themselves to the will of the new comers, to give place to them if they so required, or to hold of them their own domain under lease or in vassalage. Thus the serfs of the country changed masters, and many freemen became serfs of the glebe. New geographical denominations even resulted from this repartition of territorial property, and usage thenceforth attached to many of the domains the names of the Scandinavian warriors to whose portion they had fallen.3 Although the condition of the craftsmen and peasants of Normandy differed little from what it was in France, the hope of a more complete security, and the movement of social life which generally accompanies a rising empire, induced many artizans and labourers to emigrate and establish themselves under the government of duke Roll. His name, which the French pronounced Rou, became widely popular; he was deemed the greatest enemy of robbers, and the most vigorous justiciary of his time.
Although the majority of the Norwegians, following the example of their chief, had eagerly accepted baptism, it appears that a certain number of them refused it, and resolved to preserve the customs of their ancestors. These dissentients united together to form a kind of separate colony, and settled in the environs of Bayeux. They were, perhaps, attracted thither by the manners and language of the inhabitants of Bayeux, who, Saxons by origin, still spoke in the tenth century a German dialect. In this district of Normandy, the Norwegian idiom, differing but little from the popular language, became fused with it, and purified it, in a measure, so as to render it intelligible to the Danes and the other Scandinavians.1 When, after several generations, the repugnance of the Norman barons of Bessin and the Cotentin for Christianity had yielded to the force of example, the impress of the Scandinavian character was still found among them in a striking degree. They were remarkable among the other lords and knights of Normandy for their extreme turbulence, and for an almost permanent hostility to the government of the dukes; some of them even long bore pagan devices on their shields, and opposed the old war cry of the Scandinavians, Thor aide! to that of Dieu aide! the cry of Normandy.2
Peace was not of long duration between the French and the Normans, and the latter skilfully profited by circumstances to extend their dominion towards the east, almost to the point where the river Oise joins the Seine;3 on the north, their territory was bounded by the little river Bresle, and by that of Coësnon on the south-west. The inhabitants of this district were all called Normans by the French, and by foreigners, with the exception of the Danes and the Norwegians, who only gave this name, honourable in their eyes, to that portion of the population which was really of Norman race and language. This, the least numerous portion, stood, with regard to the mass, whether native or emigrant, of the other parts of Gaul, on the same footing as the sons of the Franks with regard to the sons of the Gauls. In Normandy, the mere qualification of Norman was from the first a title of nobility: it was the sign of liberty and of power, of the right to levy taxes from the citizens and serfs of the country.1
All the Normans, by name and by race, were equal in civil rights, though not equal in military grades and political dignities. No man among them was taxed without his own consent, or subject to toll for his goods by land or by water: all enjoyed the right of hunting and fishing to the exclusion of the villeins and peasants, terms which, in point of fact, comprehended the whole mass of the native population. Although the court of the dukes of Normandy was organized almost wholly upon the model of that of the kings of France, the higher clergy did not at first form a part of it, on account of their French origin; at a later period, when a great number of men of Norwegian or Danish race had assumed the ecclesiastical habit, a certain distinction in rank and privileges continued to subsist, even in the monasteries, between them and the other ecclesiastics.2
This distinction, still more oppressive in the political and civil order, soon raised against it the ancient population of the country. In less than a century after the establishment of the new state, of which it was the oppressed portion, this population conceived the idea of destroying the inequality of races, so that the country of Normandy should contain only one nation, as it bore but one name. It was under the reign of Rikhart or Richard II., third successor of Roll, that this great project manifested itself. In all the districts of Normandy, the inhabitants of the villages and hamlets began, in the evening, after the hour of labour, to assemble and talk together of the miseries of their condition; these groups of politicians were composed of twenty, thirty, or an hundred persons, and often the assembly formed into a circle to listen to some orator who animated them by violent speeches against the lords of the country, counts, viscounts, barons, and knights. Ancient chronicles in verse present to us, in a manner vivid and powerful, if not authentic, the substance of these harangues.1
“The lords do nothing but evil; we cannot obtain either reason or justice from them; they have all, they take all, eat all, and make us live in poverty and suffering. Every day is with us a day of pain; we gain nought by our labours, there are so many dues and services. Why do we allow ourselves to be thus treated? Let us place ourselves beyond their power; we are men like they, we have the same limbs, the same height, the same power of endurance, and we are an hundred to one. Let us swear to defend each other; let us be firmly knit together, and no man shall be lord over us; and we shall be free from tolls and taxes, free to fell trees, to take game and fish, and do as we will in all things, in the wood, in the meadow, on the water.”2
These appeals to natural right, and to the power of the greater number, did not fail to produce an effect, and many people of the hamlets mutually swore to keep together, and to aid each other against all comers.3 A vast association for common defence spread over the whole country, comprehending, if not the entire mass, at all events the agricultural class of the indigenous population. The associates were divided into various circles, which the original historian designates by the term conventicula; there was at least one for every county, and each chose two members to form the superior circle or central assembly.4 The business of this assembly was to prepare and organize throughout the country the means of resistance or insurrection; it sent from district to district, and from village to village, eloquent and persuasive persons, to gain over new associates, to register their names, and to receive their oaths.1
Affairs had arrived at this point, and no open rebellion had yet broken out, when the news reached the court of Normandy that throughout the country the villeins were holding councils and forming themselves into a sworn association.2 There was great alarm among the lords, thus threatened with losing at one blow their rights and their revenues. Duke Richard, who was then too young to act for himself, sent for his uncle Raoul, count of Evreux, in whom he placed full confidence. “Sire,” said the count, “rest in peace, and let me deal with these peasants; do not yourself stir, but send me all the knights and men-at-arms at your disposal.”3
In order to surprise the chiefs of the association, count Raoul sent able spies in every direction, whom he specially charged to discover the place and hour at which the central assembly was to be held; upon their reports he marched his troops, and arrested in one day all the deputies of the inferior circles, some while sitting, others while they were receiving in the villages the oaths of the associates.4 Whether from passion or calculation, the count treated his prisoners with extreme cruelty. Without any trial, without the slightest inquiry, he inflicted upon them mutilations or atrocious tortures; of some he put out the eyes, of others he cut off the hands or feet; some had their legs burned, others were impaled alive, or had melted lead poured over them.5 The unfortunate men who survived these tortures were sent back to their families, and on the way paraded through the villages, to spread terror around. And in effect, fear prevailed over the love of liberty in the hearts of the Norman peasants; the great association was broken up; no more secret assemblies were held, and a mournful resignation succeeded, for several centuries, to the momentary enthusiasm.6
At the period of this memorable attempt, the difference of language which had at first separated the nobles and commons of Normandy scarcely existed; it was by his genealogy that the man of Scandinavian origin was distinguished from the Gallo-Frank. Even at Rouen, and in the palace of the successors of Roll, no other language was spoken at the commencement of the eleventh century than Romane or French. The town of Bayeux alone was still an exception, and its dialect, a mixture of Saxon and Norwegian was easily understood by the Scandinavians. Accordingly, when fresh emigrants came from the north to visit their Norman relations, and seek from them a portion of land, it was around Bayeux that they established themselves in preference. So again, it was there, if we are to credit ancient chronicles, that the Norman dukes sent their children to learn to speak Danish. The Danes and the Norwegians maintained relations of alliance and affection with Normandy so long as they found in the resemblance of language the token of an ancient national fraternity. Several times, during the quarrels which the first dukes had to sustain against the French, powerful succours were sent them from Norway and Denmark, and, Christians as they were, they were aided by kings who still remained pagans; but when the use of the Romane language became universal in Normandy, the Scandinavians ceased to look upon the Normans as natural allies; they even ceased to give them the name of Normans, and called them Frenchmen, Romans, or Welskes, in common with the other inhabitants of Gaul.1
These ties of relationship and friendship were already greatly relaxed in the first years of the eleventh century, when the king of England, Ethelred, married the sister of this same Richard, fourth duke of Normandy, whom we have just mentioned. It is probable, indeed, that if the branch of Scandinavian population established in Gaul had not been at this time entirely detached from its northern trunk, the Saxon king would not have conceived the hope of being supported by the grandson of Roll against the power of the northern kings. The little readiness shown by the Norman Richard to assist his brother-in-law, did not arise from any scruple or moral repugnance, but because Richard did not see in this intervention anything favourable to his own interest, which he was skilful in discerning and ardent in pursuing, consistently with the character which already distinguished the inhabitants of Normandy.
Whilst Ethelred in exile was receiving the hospitality of his brother-in-law, the English, under the dominion of the foreigner, regretted, as in the time of the flight of Alfred and the first Danish conquest, the sway of him whom they had deserted in disgust; Swen, whom, in the year 1014, they had allowed to assume the title of king of England, died in that same year, so suddenly as to occasion his death being attributed to an impulse of patriotic indignation. The Danish soldiers, stationed in the towns or in their vessels at the mouths of the rivers, chose as successor to their late chief, his son Knut, who was then on a mission to the country along the Humber with the tributes and hostages from the English of the south. The latter, encouraged by his absence, sent a messenger to the exile in Normandy, telling him, in the name of the English nation, that they would again accept him as king, if he would promise to govern better.1
In answer to this message, Ethelred sent his son Edward, charging him to salute, in his name, the whole English people,2 and to take a public oath that for the future he would fulfil his duties as a sovereign with fidelity,3 would amend whatever was not liked, and forget everything that had been done or said against his person. The friendship sworn between the nation and the king was confirmed on both sides by mutual pledges, and the Wittenagemote pronounced a sentence of perpetual outlawry against any Dane who should style himself king of England.4
Ethelred again assumed his emblems of honour; it is not exactly known over what extent of territory he reigned, for the Danish garrisons, although driven from some towns, still retained many others, and even the city of London remained in their hands. Perhaps the great road called Wetlingastreet, served, for the second time, as a line of demarcation between the free provinces and the provinces subject to foreign domination. King Knut, son of Swen, dissatisfied with the portion which the Anglo-Saxons obliged him to accept, returned from the north; and landing near Sandwich, in a fit of rage, cut off on the sea-shore the hands and noses of all the hostages his father had received. This futile cruelty was the signal for a fresh war, which Ethelred, for the future faithful to his promises, courageously maintained with various success. Upon his death, the English chose for king, not one of his legitimate children, who remained in Normandy, but his natural son, Edmund, surnamed Iron Sides, who had given great proofs of courage and skill. By his energetic conduct, Edmund raised the fortunes of the English nation; he took London from the Danes, and fought five great battles with them.1
After one of these battles, fought on the southern boundary of Warwickshire, and lost by the Danes, one of their captains, named Ulf,2 separated from his men in the rout, and flying to save his life, entered a wood, with the paths of which he was unacquainted. Having wandered about it all night, at daybreak he met a young peasant driving a herd of oxen. Ulf saluted him, and asked his name. “I am called Godwin,3 son of Ulf-noth,”4 answered the herdsman; “and you, if I mistake not, are one of the Danish army?” The Dane, obliged to declare himself, begged the young man to tell him at what distance he was from the vessels stationed in the Severn or the adjacent rivers, and by what road it would be possible for him to reach them. “The Dane must be mad,” answered Godwin, “who looks for his preservation at the hands of a Saxon.”5 Ulf intreated the herdsman to leave his herd, and to guide him on his way, joining to his entreaties the promises most calculated to tempt a poor and simple man. “The way is long,” said the young herdsman, “and it will be dangerous to guide you. The peasants, emboldened by our victory of yesterday, are armed throughout the country; they would show no mercy either to your guide or to yourself.” The chief drew a gold ring from his finger and presented it to the young Saxon, who took it, looked at it with curiosity, and after a moment’s reflection, returned it, saying: “I will not take it, but I will give you my aid.”1 They passed the day in the cottage of Godwin’s father, and when night came, as they departed, the old peasant said to the Dane: “Know that it is my only son who trusts to your good faith; there will be no safety for him among his countrymen from the moment that he has served you as a guide; present him, therefore, to your king, that he may take him into his service.”2 Ulf promised to do far more than this, and he kept his word; on his arrival at the Danish camp, he seated the peasant’s son in his tent, upon a seat raised as high as his own, treating him as his own son.3 He obtained for him from king Knut military rank, and ultimately the Saxon herdsman attained the dignity of governor of a province in that part of England occupied by the Danes. This man, who from the condition of a cowherd was raised by the protection of foreigners to the highest dignities of his country, was, by a singular destiny, to contribute more than any other man to the downfal of the foreign domination. His name will soon figure among the great names of this history, when, perhaps, there will be some interest in calling to mind the origin and singularity of his fortune.
The victories of the Anglo-Saxons over the Danes led to an armistice and a truce which was solemnly sworn to, in the presence of the two armies, by the kings, Edmund and Knut; they mutually exchanged the name of brother,4 and by common consent fixed the limit of their respective kingdom at the Thames. On the death of Edmund, the Danish king passed this boundary, which was to have been inviolable; he had secretly gained over several interested or ambitious chieftains, and the terror caused by his invasion gave success to their intrigues. After a brief resistance, the Anglo-Saxons of the southern and western provinces submitted, and acknowledged the son of Swen as king of all England. Knut swore in return to be just and benevolent, and with his bare hand touched the hands of the principal chiefs, in token of sincerity.1
Despite these promises and the facility with which he had gained the crown, Knut was at first suspicious and cruel. All those who had been remarkable for their attachment to the ancient liberty of the country and the Anglo-Saxon royalty, some even of those who had betrayed this cause for that of the foreign power, were banished from England or put to death. “Whoever will bring me the head of an enemy,” said the Danish king, with the ferocity of a pirate, “shall be dearer to me than a brother.”2 The relations of the two last kings, Ethelred and Edmund, were proscribed in a body; the sons of Ethelred were then at the court of Normandy; but those of Edmund, who had remained in England, did not escape persecution. Not venturing to put them to death before the eyes of the English people, Knut sent them to Scandinavia, and carefully insinuated to the petty king to whose care he confided them, what were his intentions respecting them; but the latter feigned not to understand him, and allowed his prisoners to escape into Germany. Thence, for greater security, they went to the court of the king of Hungary, who now began to figure among the Christian powers. They were received with honour, and one of them afterwards married a cousin of the emperor of the Germans.3
Richard, duke of Normandy, seeing the impossibility of establishing his nephews on the throne of England, and wishing to have the benefit of a close alliance with that country, adopted an entirely personal policy; he negotiated with the Danish king to the prejudice of the sons of Ethelred. By a singular but skilfully conceived arrangement, he proposed that Knut should marry the mother of these two children, who, as we have seen, was his sister: she had received at her baptism the name of Emme or Emma, but on her arrival in England the Saxons had changed this foreign name into that of Alfghive, signifying present from the genii. Flattered at the idea of becoming once more the wife of a king, Emma consented to this second union, and left it doubtful, say the old historians, which had acted with most dishonour, she or her brother.1 She soon became the mother of a new son, to whom the power of his father promised a fortune very different from that of the children of Ethelred, and, in the intoxication of her ambition, she forgot and slighted her first-born, who, on their part, kept out of their native land, gradually forgot its manners and even its language; they contracted in exile foreign habits and friendships: an event of little importance in itself, but which had fatal consequences.
Secured in his power by a possession of several years, and by a marriage which made him, in a measure, less foreign to the English nation, king Knut gradually became gentler; a new character was developed in him; his ideas of government were as elevated as his epoch and situation were capable of; he had even the desire to be impartial between the English and the Danes. Without at all diminishing the enormous taxes which the conquest had imposed on England, he employed them partly in purchasing of his countrymen their return to Denmark, and thus rendering less sensible the division of the inhabitants of England into two races, races hostile and of unequal condition. Of all the armed Danes who had accompanied him, he only retained a chosen troop of a few thousand men, who formed his guard, and who were called Thingamanna, that is to say, men of the palace. The son of an apostate to Christianity, he proved a zealous Christian, rebuilding the churches that his father and himself had burned, and magnificently endowing the abbeys and monasteries.2 From a desire to please the national feelings of the Anglo-Saxons, he raised a chapel over the grave of Edmund, king of East Anglia, who, for a century and a half past, had been venerated as a martyr of the faith and of patriotism; the same motive led him to erect at Canterbury a monument to the archbishop Elfeg, a victim, like king Edmund, to the cruelty of the Danes: he wished, further, to have the body of this saint, which had been buried at London, removed hither, and the inhabitants of that city having refused to deliver it up, the Danish king, suddenly resuming, for an act of devotion, the habits of the conqueror and pirate, had the coffin forcibly carried off by the troops, between two lines of whom, with drawn swords, it was conveyed to the Thames, and there placed in a ship of war, having for its figure-head the upper part of an enormous dragon, richly gilt.1
During the time of the partition of England into independent kingdoms, several of the Anglo-Saxon kings, especially those of Wessex and Mercia, had, at different periods, established certain payments in favour of the Romish church. The object of these purely gratuitous gifts was to procure a better reception and aid, in case of need, for the English pilgrims who visited Rome, to support a school there for youths of that nation, and to go towards the expense of the lights in the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.2 The payment of these dues, which in the Saxon language were called Rom-feoh, Rom-skeat, Rome-money, Rome-tax, more or less regular, according to the degree of zeal of the kings and people, was entirely suspended in the ninth century by the Danish invasions. Wishing to expiate, in some degree, the evil which his country had done to the church, and to surpass in munificence all the Anglo-Saxon kings, Knut revived this institution, giving it a greater extent, and subjected England to a perpetual tribute, called Peter’s pence (Rom-feth). This tax, paid at the rate of a penny of the money of the time, for each inhabited house, was, in the terms of the royal ordinances, to be levied every year, to the praise and glory of God, on the day of the feast of the prince of the apostles.3
The pecuniary homage of the ancient Saxon kings to the Romish church had not in any way increased the religious dependence of England. This dependence and the power of the church were then of an essentially spiritual nature; but in the course of the ninth century, in consequence of the revolutions which took place in Italy, the supremacy of the court of Rome assumed quite a new character. Several towns, which had escaped from the authority of the emperors of Constantinople, or been taken by the Franks from the Lombard kings, had placed themselves under the subjection of the pope, who thus combined the character of temporal sovereign with that of head of the church; the name of Patrimony of Saint Peter ceased from that time to be applied to private domains, separated by great distances, spread through Italy, Sicily, and Gaul, but served to designate a vast and compact territory, possessed or ruled sovereignly, by seigneural title.1 Pursuant to the fixed and universal law of political development, this new state was not, more than any other, to be without ambition, and its necessary tendency was to abuse, in promotion of its material interests, the moral influence which its chief exercised over the kingdoms of the west. After such a revolution, the transmission of an annual tribute to the pontifical court could not fail to have, at all events in the idea of that court, a meaning wholly different from before. Notions hitherto unheard of began to germinate there; the pope and those about him spoke of the universal suzerainty of Saint Peter over all countries, however distant, which had received the Christian faith from Rome. England was of this number; the re-establishment, therefore, of a tax, though meant merely as a proof of Christian fervour, was perilous for the political independence of that kingdom. No one there, it is true, suspected the consequences which might result from the perpetual obligation of Saint Peter’s pence, neither the king, who formed the engagement from religious zeal, or from vanity, nor the people, who had submitted to it without a murmur, as an act of devotion; yet half a century sufficed to develop these consequences, and to enable the court of Rome to treat England as a fief of the apostolic see.
About the year 1030, king Knut resolved to go in person to Rome, to visit the tombs of the apostles, and receive the thanks due to his liberalities; he set out with a numerous retinue, bearing a wallet on his shoulder, and a long staff in his hand.2 Having accomplished his pilgrimage, and on the point of returning to the north, he addressed to all the English nation a letter, throughout which there prevails a tone of kindliness that contrasts singularly with the education and first acts of royalty of the son of Swen.
“Knut, king of England and Denmark, to all the bishops and primates, and all the English people, greeting. I hereby announce to you that I have been to Rome for the remission of my sins, and the welfare of my kingdoms. I humbly thank the Almighty God for having granted me, once in my life, the grace of visiting in person his very holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints who have their habitation either within the walls, or without the Roman city. I determined upon this journey, because I had learned from the mouths of wise men, that the apostle Peter possesses great power to bind or to loose, and that he keeps the keys of the celestial kingdom; wherefore I thought it useful to solicit specially his favour and patronage with God.
“During the Easter solemnity was held here a great assembly of illustrious persons—namely, pope John, the emperor Kunrad, and all the chief men of the nations, from Mount Gargano to the sea which surrounds us. All received me with great distinction, and honoured me with rich presents: I have received vases of gold and silver, and stuffs and vestments of great price. I have conversed with the emperor, the lord pope, and the other princes, upon the wants of all the people of my kingdoms, English and Danes. I have endeavoured to obtain for my people justice and security in their pilgrimages to Rome, and especially that they may not for the future be delayed on their road by the closing of the mountain passes, or vexed by enormous tolls. I also complained to the lord pope of the immensity of the sums exacted to this day from my archbishops, when, according to custom, they repair to the apostolical court to obtain the pallium. It has been decided that this shall not occur for the future.
“I would also have you know that I have made a vow to Almighty God to regulate my life by the dictates of virtue, and to govern my people with justice. If during the impetuosity of my youth I have done anything contrary to equity, I will for the future, with the help of God, amend this to the best of my power; wherefore, I require and command all my councillors and those to whom I have confided the affairs of my kingdom, to lend themselves to no injustice, either in fear of me, or to favour the powerful. I recommend them, if they prize my friendship and their own lives, to do no harm or violence to any man, rich or poor; let every one in his place enjoy that which he possesses, and not be disturbed in that enjoyment, either in the king’s name or in the name of any other person, nor under pretext of levying money for my treasury; for I need no money obtained by unjust means.
“I propose to return to England this summer, and as soon as the preparations for my embarkation shall be completed. I intreat and order you all, bishops and officers of my kingdom of England, by the faith you owe to God and to me, to see that before my return all our debts to God be paid—namely, the plough dues, the tithe of animals born within the year, and the pence due to Saint Peter from every house in town and country; and further, at mid August, the tithe of the harvest, and at Martinmas the first fruit of the seed; and if, on my landing, these dues are not fully paid, the royal power will be exercised upon defaulters, according to the rigour of the law and without any mercy.”1
It was in the reign of Knut, and favoured by the protracted wars that he prosecuted to reunite the other Scandinavian kingdoms to Denmark, that Godwin, the Saxon peasant, whose singular adventure we have before related, gradually rose to the highest military honours. After a great victory gained over the Norwegians, he obtained the dignity of earl, or political chief of the ancient kingdom of Wessex, now reduced to the state of a province. Many other English zealously served the Danish king in his conquests in Norway and on the shores of the Baltic. He employed the Saxon navy to destroy that of the petty kings of the north, and having dispossessed them, one after the other, he assumed the new title of emperor of the north, by the grace of Christ, king of kings.2 Despite this intoxication of military glory, however, the national antipathy to the Danish domination did not cease; and on the death of their grea king, as his contemporaries called him, things resumed their course. Nothing remained of the apparent fusion of two races under the same flag; and this empire, raised for a moment above all the kingdoms of the north, was dissolved in the same manner as the vast empire of Charlemagne. The Scandinavian populations expelled their Danish conquerors, and chose national chiefs for themselves. More anciently subjected, the Anglo-Saxons could not all at once regain their liberty in so complete a manner; but they secretly attacked the power of the foreigners, and commenced by intrigues a revolution that was to be terminated by force.1
The Danish king died in the year 1035, and left three sons, of whom one only, named Hardeknut, (Harda-knut, Horda-knut, Hartha-knut,) that is, Knut the strong or the brave, was born of the Norman Emma; the others were the children of a first wife. Knut had at his death desired that the son of Emma should be his successor; such a nomination was rarely without influence upon those to whom the German customs gave the right of electing their kings. But Hardeknut was then in Denmark; and the Danes of London,2 eager to have a chief, that they might be united and powerful against the discontented Saxons, elected as king another son of Knut, named Harold.3 This election, sanctioned by the majority, met with some opponents, whom the English hastened to join, in order to nourish and envenom the domestic quarrel of their masters. The provinces of the south-west, which, for the whole duration of the conquest, were always the first to rise and the last to submit, proclaimed Hardeknut king, while the Danish soldiers and sailors installed Harold in London. This political schism again divided England into two zones, separated by the Thames. The north was for Harold, the south for the son of Emma; but the struggle carried on in these two names was in reality the struggle between the two great interests of the all-powerful conquerors to the north of the Thames, and the less feeble of the conquered to the south.
Godwin, son of Ulfnoth, was then chief of the vast province of Wessex, and one of the most powerful men in England. Whether he had already conceived the project of using the power he derived from the foreigners for the deliverance of his nation, or felt a personal affection for the younger son of Knut, he favoured the absent claimant, and invited the widow of the late king into the west. She came, accompanied by some Danish troops,1 and bringing with her part of her husband’s treasures. Godwin assumed the office of general in chief and protector of the kingdom in the name and in the absence of the son of Emma.2 He received, for Hardeknut, the oaths of fidelity of the whole southern population. This ambiguous insurrection, which, under one aspect, appeared the struggle of two pretenders, under another, a war of nation against nation, did not extend north of the Thames. There the mass of the Saxon inhabitants swore, in common with the Danes, fidelity to king Harold; there were only a few individual exceptions, as the refusal of Ethelnoth,3 an Englishman by birth and archbishop of Canterbury, to consecrate the king elected by the foreigners, and to give him the sceptre and crown of the Anglo-Saxon kings.4 Harold, according to some historians, crowned himself with his own hand, without any religious ceremony; and renewing in his heart the ancient spirit of his ancestors, he conceived a hatred for Christianity. It was the hour of worship, and when the people were repairing to church, that he selected to send for his hunting dogs, or have his table served.5
A fierce war between the south and north of England, between the Saxon population and the Danish population, appeared inevitable. This expectation occasioned a sort of panic among the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of the left bank of the Thames,6 who, despite their apparent fidelity to the king recognised by the Danes, feared lest they should be treated as rebels. Many families quitted their houses, and sought shelter in the forests. Whole troops of men, women, and children, with their cattle and goods, proceeded to the marshes, which extended for more than a hundred miles over the four counties of Cambridge, Huntingdon, Northampton, and Lincoln.7 This district, which appeared a vast lake interspersed with islands, was only inhabited by monks, who owed to the munificence of the ancient kings vast houses built amidst the waters, upon piles and earth brought from a distance.1 The poor fugitives settled in the willow groves which covered these low and muddy lands. Wanting many of the necessaries of life, and having nothing to do the whole day, they assailed with solicitations, or with visits of simple curiosity, the monks of Croyland, Peterborough, and other neighbouring abbeys. They went to and fro unceasingly to demand assistance, counsel or prayers;2 they followed the monks or servants of the convent at every turn, importuning them to pity their lot. In order not to depart from the observance of their rules, the monks shut themselves up in their cells, and deserted the cloister and the church, because the crowd flocked there. Wulf, a hermit, who lived alone in the marshes of Pegland, was so alarmed at finding himself suddenly surrounded by men and noise, that he abandoned his cabin, and fled to seek other deserts.
The war, so desired on one side of the Thames, and so dreaded on the other, did not take place, because the absence of Hardeknut being protracted, the enthusiasm of his Danish partisans subsided,3 and the English of the south did not think the moment had arrived for them to raise their national standards, not as favourers of a Danish pretender, but as enemies to all the Danes. The Norman woman, whose presence served to give to the insurrection a colour less offensive in the eyes of a foreign power, made peace with this power, and surrendered the treasure of Knut to the rival of her own son. Godwin and the other Saxon chiefs of the west, forced by her desertion to acknowledge Harold as king, swore obedience to him, and Hardeknut was forgotten.4 At the same time there happened a tragical event, the story of which has only reached us enveloped in much obscurity. A letter from Emma, who was living at London on good terms with king Harold, was sent, it would appear, to the two sons of Ethelred in Normandy; their mother informed them in it that the Anglo-Saxon people appeared disposed to make one of them king, and to shake off the Danish yoke; she invited one of them to come secretly to England, to advise with her and their friends.1 Whether the letter was genuine or forged, the sons of Ethelred received it with joy, and the younger of the two, Alfred, embarked by the consent of his brother, with a troop of Norman or Boulognese soldiers,2 which was contrary to the instructions of Emma, if, indeed, the invitation proceeded from her.3
The young Alfred landed at Dover, and advanced south of the Thames, where he was likely to encounter less danger and difficulty, because the Danes were not numerous there. Godwin went to meet him, perhaps to ascertain his capacity, and to concert with him some plan for the national deliverance. He found him surrounded by foreigners, who had come in his train to share the high fortune he hoped to find in England, and this sight suddenly converted the favourable disposition of the Saxon chief towards Alfred into hatred. An ancient historian on this occasion puts into the mouth of Godwin a speech to the assembled chiefs, in which he represents to them that Alfred was come escorted by too many Normans; that he had promised to these Normans possessions in England, and that they must not allow this race of foreigners, known throughout the world for their craft and daring, to become masters in the country.4 Whatever may have been the fact as to this harangue, Alfred was abandoned, if not betrayed by Godwin and the Saxons,5 who in truth had not summoned him from beyond seas, nor drawn him into the peril in which they left him. Harold’s officers, informed of his landing, surprised him with his companions in the town of Guildford, while they were unarmed and dispersed in different houses. They were all seized and bound, without any attempt being made to defend them.6
More than six hundred foreigners had followed young Alfred; they were separated from him, and treated with the greatest barbarity; nine of each ten perished in horrible tortures; the tenth alone obtained his life. The son of Ethelred, transferred to the island of Ely, in the heart of the Danish territory, was brought before judges, who condemned him to lose his eyes as a violator of the peace of the country. His mother took no steps to save him from this punishment. She deserted the orphan, says the ancient chronicler;1 and other historians reproach her with having been an accomplice in his death.2 The latter assertion may be doubted, though it is a singular circumstance that Emma, on being shortly afterwards banished from England by king Harold, did not repair to Normandy with her own relations and the second son of Ethelred, but sought a foreign asylum in Flanders,3 whence she addressed herself to the son of Knut in Denmark, intreating him to revenge his maternal brother, the son of Ethelred the Saxon, who, said Emma, had been assassinated by Harold, and betrayed by Godwin.4
The treachery of Godwin was the war-cry of the Normans, who in their blind resentment accused the Saxons rather than the Danes of the massacre of their countrymen, victims of a too hazardous enterprise. There are, besides, many versions of this affair,5 of which not one is supported by sufficient proofs to be regarded as the true one. An historian, among the most worthy of belief, commences his narration in these words: “I am now going to relate what the story-tellers recount of the death of Alfred:”6 and at the end of his narrative, he adds, “This being the common rumour, I have not omitted it, but as no chronicle mentions it, I affirm it not.”7 What appears, beyond doubt, is the execution of the son of Ethelred, and of several hundred men who had accompanied him from Normandy and France, to excite the Saxons to insurrection; the interview of Godwin with this young man, and more especially, the premeditated treachery of which he is accused by many writers, appear to be fabulous circumstances, superstructed on one genuine fact. However unworthy of belief these fables may be, they are far from being destitute of historical importance, in consequence of the credit they obtained in foreign countries, and the national resentment which they excited against the English people.
On the death of Harold, the Anglo-Saxons, still not bold enough to choose a king of their own race, concurred with the Danes in electing the son of Emma and Knut.1 The first act of royalty done by Hardeknut was to order the body of his predecessor, Harold, to be disinterred, and after the head had been cut off, to be thrown into the Thames. Some Danish fishermen found the body, and again buried it at London, in the cemetery set apart for their nation, who even in the grave were resolved to be distinguished from the English.2 Having given this example of vengeance and barbarity against one dead brother, the new king, with a great show of fraternal affliction, commenced an extensive judicial inquiry into the murder of Alfred. He himself being a Dane, no man of Danish race was cited by him to appear before the justice-seat, and Saxons were alone charged with a crime which could only have been useful to their masters. Godwin, whose power and doubtful designs inspired great fears, was the first accused; he presented himself, according to the English law, accompanied by a great number of relations, friends and witnesses, who, with him, swore that he had taken no part, directly or indirectly, in the death of the son of Ethelred. This legal proof was not sufficient with a king of foreign race; and in order to give it value, it was necessary for the Saxon chief to back it with rich presents, the details of which if not wholly fabulous, would lead one to believe that many of the English assisted their countryman to buy off this prosecution, instituted in bad faith. Godwin gave king Hardeknut a vessel adorned with gilt metal and manned with eighty soldiers, each with a gilt helmet, a gilt axe upon his left shoulder, a javelin in his right hand, and on each arm bracelets of gold, weighing six ounces.3 A Saxon bishop, named Leofwin,1 accused of having assisted the son of Ulfnoth in his alleged treason, like Godwin, cleared himself by presents.
In general, in his relations with the conquered, Hardeknut showed less cruelty than avarice; his love of money equalled and perhaps exceeded that of the pirates his ancestors. He overwhelmed England with taxes, and more than once his collectors fell victims of the hatred and despair they excited. The citizens of Worcester killed two in the exercise of their functions. As soon as the news of this murder reached the Danish authorities, two chieftains of that nation, Leofrik and Siward, the one governor of Mercia, the other of Northumbria, united their forces and marched against the rebel city, with orders to waste it by fire and steel. The inhabitants abandoned their houses in a body, and took refuge in one of the islands formed by the Severn; they here raised intrenchments, and resisted, until the wearied assailants allowed them to return in peace to their dwellings.2
Thus the spirit of independence, which the conquerors called revolt, gradually revived among the sons of the Saxons and the Angles. Misery and insults were not wanting to awaken in their minds regret for their lost liberty.3 The Dane who bore the title of king of England was not the only oppressor of the natives; under him was a whole nation of foreigners, each of whom did his best towards the evil work. This superior class, of whom the English were subjects and not fellow citizens, did not pay taxes like the English, but, on the contrary, shared the imposts levied by their chief, receiving, at fixed periods, large distributions of money.4 When the king, in his military reviews or pleasure excursions, used the house of a Dane as his lodging, the Dane was paid, sometimes in money,5 sometimes with the fat cattle which the Saxon peasant had thus fed for the table of his conquerors.1 But the house of the Saxon was the inn of the Dane; the foreigner there gratuitously enjoyed fire, food, and bed; he occupied the place of honour as master.2 The head of the family might not drink without his guest’s permission, nor be seated in his presence. The latter could at pleasure insult the wife, the daughter, or the servant3 of his Saxon, and if he defended or avenged them, he found no asylum; he was pursued and tracked like a wild beast; a price was set on his head as on a wolf’s; he became a wolf’s head, to adopt the Anglo-Saxon expression;4 and nothing remained for him but to fly to the forest with the wolves, to become a brigand there, and war against the foreign conquerors, and the natives, who slumbered like cowards beneath the yoke of these foreigners.
These long accumulated sufferings at length produced their fruits; on the death of king Hardeknut, which took place suddenly amidst a marriage feast, before the Danes assembled to elect a new king, a great insurrectionary army was formed under the command of a Saxon named Howne.5 Unfortunately, the patriotic exploits of this army are now as little known, as the name of its chief is obscure. Godwin and his son, Harald (or Harold, according to the Saxon orthography), now raised the standard of independence of their country, against every Dane, king or claimant, chief or soldier. Beaten back rapidly to the north, driven from town after town, the Danes left the country, and landed, greatly diminished in number, on the shores of their old country.6 They in their turn related a story of treachery, the romantic circumstances of which are found, equally fabulous, in the history of several nations; they said that Harold, son of Godwin, had invited the chiefs among them to a grand banquet, to which the Saxons came armed, and attacked them unexpectedly.1
It was not a surprise of this kind, but open war, which put an end to the dominion of the Scandinavians in England. Godwin’s son and Godwin himself, played, at the head of the revolted nation, the most conspicuous part in this national war. At the moment of deliverance, the whole care of public affairs was confided to the son of the cowherd Ulfnoth, who, in saving his country from the hands of the foreigners, had accomplished the extraordinary fortune he had begun by saving a foreigner from the hands of his countrymen.2 Godwin, had he desired it, might have been named king of the English; few suffrages would have been denied him, but he preferred to direct the attention of the people towards a man unconnected with the recent events, without enviers, without enemies; inoffensive to all from his absence from public affairs, interesting to all by his misfortunes—towards Edward, the second son of Ethelred, the same whose brother he was accused of having betrayed and put to death. By the advice of the chief of Wessex,3 a great council, assembled at Gillingham, decided that a national message should be sent to Edward in Normandy, to announce to him that the whole people had elected him king, but upon condition that he should bring but few Normans with him.4
Edward obeyed, says an ancient chronicle,5 and came to England with very few men. He was proclaimed king on his arrival, and crowned in the cathedral of Winchester. On giving him the crown and sceptre, the bishop made him a long speech upon the duties of royalty, and the mild and equitable government of his Anglo-Saxon predecessors. As he was unmarried, he selected for his queen the daughter of the powerful and popular man to whom he owed his kingdom. Various evil rumours circulated on the subject of this marriage; it was said that Edward, alarmed at the immense authority of Godwin, had taken him for a father-in-law, to avoid having him for an enemy.1 Others say that, before procuring the election of the new king, Godwin had exacted from him an oath, by God and his soul, that he would, if elected, marry his daughter.2 However this may have been, Edward received in marriage a young person of great beauty and learning, modest and of a sweet disposition; she was called Edith, a familiar diminutive for Edswith or Ethelswith.3 “I have often seen her in my childhood,” says a contemporary, “when I went to visit my father, who was employed in the king’s palace. If she met me on my return from school, she interrogated me upon my grammar, poetry, or even logic, in which she was well versed; and when she had entangled me in the meshes of some subtle argument, she never failed to bestow upon me three or four crowns by her servant, and to send me to have refreshment in the pantry.”4 Edith was mild and kind to all who approached her; those who disliked the somewhat savage pride of character of her father and brother, praised her for not resembling them, as is poetically expressed in a Latin verse, then much esteemed: “Sicut spina rosam, genuit Godwinus Editham.”—“As the thorn produces the rose, so Godwin produced Edith.”5
The withdrawal of the Danes, and the complete destruction of the rule of the conquest, in awakening patriotic thoughts, had rendered the Anglo-Saxon customs dearer to the people. They desired to restore them in all their pristine purity, freed from all that the mixture of races had added to them of foreign matter. This wish led them to revert to the times which preceded the great Danish invasion, to the reign of Ethelred, whose institutions and laws were sought out with a view to their re-establishment.6 This restoration took place to the utmost extent possible, and the name of king Edward became connected with it; it was a popular saying that this good king had restored the good laws of his father Ethelred. But, in truth, he was no legislator; he promulgated no new code; the only thing was, that the ordinances of the Danish kings ceased in his reign to be executed.1 The tax of the conquest, at first granted temporarily under the name of Danegheld, as we have seen above, then levied each year, during thirty years, for the foreign soldiers and sailors,2 was in this manner abolished, not through the spontaneous benevolence of the new king, but because there were no longer any Danes in England.
That is to say, there were no longer any Danes living in the country as rulers; such had all been expelled; but the English, restored to liberty, did not drive from their habitations the laborious and peaceable Danes who, swearing obedience to the common law, were content with existing simply as cultivators or citizens. The Saxon people did not, by way of reprisals, levy taxes on them, or render their condition worse than their own. In the eastern, and especially in the northern provinces, the children of the Scandinavians continued to exceed in number those of the Anglo-Saxons; these provinces were distinguished from the midland and southern by a remarkable difference of idiom, manners, and local customs,3 but not the slightest resistance was raised to the government of the Saxon king. Social equality soon drew together and fused the two nations, formerly hostile. This union of all the inhabitants of the English soil, formidable to foreign invaders, stayed their ambitious projects, and no northern king dared to assert in arms the heritage of the sons of Knut. These kings even sent messages of peace and friendship to the peaceable Edward: “We will,” said they, “allow you to reign unmolested over your country, and we will content ourselves with the lands which God has given us to rule.”4
But under this exterior appearance of prosperity and independence, new germs of trouble and ruin were silently developing themselves. King Edward, son of a Norman woman, brought up from infancy in Normandy, had returned almost a foreigner to the country of his ancestors;1 a foreign language had been that of his youth; he had grown old among other men and other customs than the customs and men of England; his friends, the companions of his pleasures and his sorrows, his nearest relatives, the husband of his sister, were all beyond seas. He had sworn to bring with him but few Normans, and but few, in fact, accompanied him, but many followed him: those who had loved him in his exile, those who had more or less assisted him when he was poor, all hastened to besiege his palace.2 He could not help receiving them at his fireside and at his table, or even the preferring them to the, to him, strangers from whom he derived his fireside, his table, and his title. The irresistible tendency of early affections so misled him, that he gave all the high dignities and great offices of the country to men born in another land, and who cared not for England. The national fortresses were placed under the guard of Norman warriors; Norman priests obtained bishoprics in England, and became the chaplains, councillors, and intimate confidants of the king.
Many who called themselves cousins to Edward’s mother passed the Channel, sure of a good reception.3 None who solicited a favour in the Norman tongue4 met with a denial; their language even banished from the palace the national language, which became an object of ridicule with the foreign courtiers; flattery was ever addressed to the king in the favourite idiom. All the ambitious English nobility spoke or stammered in their houses the new court language, as alone worthy of a well born man.5 They cast aside their long Saxon cloaks, for the short wide-sleeved Norman mantle; they imitated in their writing the lengthened form of the Norman letters; instead of signing their name at the bottom of civil acts, they affixed seals of wax, in the Norman fashion. In short, all the ancient national customs, even in the most trifling things, were abandoned to the lower class.6
But the people who had shed their blood that England might be free, and who were not so delighted with the grace and charm of the new customs, deemed that they saw the revival, under another form, of a foreign government. Godwin, although among his countrymen the highest in dignity and the next after the king, fortunately had not forgotten his plebeian origin, and joined the popular party against the Norman favourites. The son of Ulfnoth and his four sons, all brave warriors and greatly beloved by the people, resisted, with erect front, the Norman influence, as they had drawn their swords against the Danish conquerors.1 In the palace, where their daughter and sister was lady and mistress, they returned with insolence the insolence of the parasites and courtiers from Gaul; they ridiculed their exotic customs, and contemptuously denounced or jested at the weakness of the king, who abandoned to them his confidence and the fortune of the country.2
The Normans carefully collected their observations and envenomed them at leisure; they incessantly repeated to Edward that Godwin and his sons grossly insulted him, that their arrogance was unbounded, and that it was easy to discern in them the ambition of reigning in his stead, and the intention to betray him.3 But while these accusations were current in the king’s palace, in the popular meetings4 the conduct and character of the Saxon chief and his sons were judged far differently. “Is it astonishing,” asked the people, “that the author and support of Edward’s reign should be indignant at seeing new men from a foreign nation raised above him? and yet never does he utter one harsh word to the man whom he himself created king.” The Norman favourites were denounced as infamous informers, fabricators of discord and trouble,5 and there was ever a prayer, in acclamations, for long life to the great chief, to the chief magnanimous by sea or land.1 They cursed the fatal marriage of Ethelred with a Norman, that union contracted to save the country from foreign invasion,2 and from which a fresh invasion was now the result, a new conquest, under the mask of peace and friendship.
The traces and perhaps the original expression of these national maledictions are found in a passage of an ancient historian, in which the singular turn of the ideas and the vivacity of the language seem to reveal the style of the people: “The all-powerful God must have proposed to himself at once two plans of destruction for the English race, and must have framed a sort of military ambuscade against it; for on one hand he let loose the Danish invasion; on the other he created and cemented the Norman alliance, so that, if we escaped the blows aimed at our faces by the Danes, the cunning of the Normans might be at hand to surprise us.”3
[1 ]Wealh, a slave, a domestic; hors-wealh, a groom. (Glossar, Somneri, apud Hist. Ang. Scrip., ii., ed. Selden.) Si servus waliscus anglicum hominem occidat...(Leges Inæ, art. 78, apud Johan Bromt. ib. i. col. 767.)
[2 ]Gerefa, graf, gravo, in the dialect of the Franks.
[3 ] Henric. Huntin., Hist., lib. iv.
[4 ]Latinè Dani; Dænen, Dæna, Dænishe.
[5 ]Latinè, Normanni, North-menn, North-mathre, Normans. This was the ancient appellation of the Norwegians.
[1 ] Hist. S. Vincentii, apud Script. rer. Normann, p. 21. Gesta Normannorum aute Rollonem ducem. (ib.) Chronicon Hermanni Contracti, apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., viii. p. 246.
[2 ] Attum edda messu...(Olai Wormii Litteratura runica, p. 208.) Scriptor. rer. Danic., i. 374. ib. iv. 26.
[3 ] Annales Esromenses, ib. i. 236.
[4 ] Kong, konung, kineg, koning, king; in Latin, rex, rector, dux, ductor, præfectus, consul, centurio, chief in general: the first among the leaders sometimes bore the title of kongakong, chief of chiefs, king of kings. (Ihre. Gloss. Suio-gothic.)
[5 ] Sæ-kong, her-kong. See-knung, ker knung. See-king, here-king.
[6 ] Inglinga saga, cap. xxxiv.; Heimskrungla edr Noregs Konungasogor af Snorra Sturlusyni, i. 43.
[7 ]Sig-runar, the runes of victory; Brim-runar, the runes of the waves. See the Edda Saemundar hinns froda, ii. 195.
[1 ] Ofer Swan rade.
[2 ] ...Quibus nec ingenn mugitus cœli nec crebri jactus fulminum unquam nocuerant, favente gratia elementorum. (Hist. S. Eadmundi, auctore Abbone floriae Abbate, apud Surium in Vit. Sanct. Novemb. 20, vi. 441.)
[3 ] Chron. Saxon., Gibson, p. 139, et passim.
[1 ] Chron. Saxon., Gibson, p. 72. Chron. Johan. Wallingford, apud rer. Anglic. Script. (Gale, ii. 532.)
[2 ] Sharon Turner’s Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, i. 476 (ed. of 1828).
[1 ] Mallet, H. du Dannemarck, ii. 293.
[2 ] A province of Sweden, on the gulf of Bothnia.
[1 ] Olai Wormii Litteratura runica, p. 198. Sharon Turner, ut sup. i. 480. The poem in the original extends to twenty-nine strophes; I have omitted nearly one half of these, and abridged the remainder.
[2 ]Est Anglia, the Latin translation of the Saxon term, East-engla-land. Sharon Turner, ut sup. p. 511.
[1 ] Sharon Turner, p. 513.
[2 ]Ib. pp. 515, 516.
[3 ] Sumno diluculo, auditis divinis officiis, et sumpto sacro viatico, omnes ad moriendum pro Christi fide patriæque defensione . . . contra barbaros processerunt. (Hist. Ingulf. Croyland, apud rer. Anglic. Script.) Gale, i. 20.
[1 ] Fleury, Histoire Ecclesiastique, xi. 283. (Bruxelles, 1714.)
[1 ] Ingulf, ut sup. p. 22. Fleury, ut sup. p. 284.
[2 ] Fleury, ut sup.
[3 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] West-Seax-na-land, West-Seax-na-rice. Ingulf. Hist. Croyland, apud Rer. Anglic. Script., i. 24, et seq.
[1 ] Turner, Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, i. 536.
[2 ] Horne, Mirror of Magistrates, p. 296.
[1 ] Asserius Menevensis, de Ælfredi Gestis; Camden, Anglica, Hibernica, &c., p. 10.
[2 ] Saxon Chronicle, p. 195. Nithing, nequam, nihilum. Angli...nihil miserius estimant quam hujusmodi dedecore vocabuli notari. (Matthæus Paris, i. 14.)
[3 ] Ethelwerdi, Hist., lib. iv. apud Rer. Anglic. Scrip., Savile, p. 847.
[4 ] Asser. Menev., ut sup. p. 9. Johan. Wallingford, Chron. apud rer Ang. Scrip., Gale, iii. 537.
[5 ] MSS. in the British Museum, Vespas. D. 14.
[6 ] Asser. ut sup. p. 10.
[1 ] Ira-land, Ir-land, Irorum-terra.
[2 ] Asser., ut sup.
[3 ] Asser., ut sup. Camden, ut sup. p. 9.
[4 ] Near Frome, the environs of which are still called Woodlands.
[5 ] Hist. Ingulf. Croyland, apud rer. Angl. Script. (Gale) i. 26. Chronologia rerum Septentr., apud Script. rer. Danic, v. 26.
[1 ] Saxon Chronicle, ed. Gibson, p. 83.
[2 ] Wilkins, Leges Anglo-Saxon., p. 47. In several Latin instruments, Alfred translates his title of Koning by the word dux: e.g., Ego Elfred Dux, apud Chart. sub an. 888. Lye, Gloss. Sax.
[1 ] Strata quam filii Welthle regis, ab orientali mari usque ad occidentale, per Angliam straverunt. (Rogerii de Hovedeno, Annal., pars prior, apud rer. Ang. Script. (Savile, p. 432.) Appearance was in favour of this signification, but the greater probability is that Wetlinghe-street was merely a Saxon corruption of the British Gwydelinsarn, “the way of the Gael,” (Irish,) an appellation very suitable to a road leading from Dover to the coast of Cheshire.
[2 ] Ethelwerdi, Hist., lib. iii. apud rer. Anglic. Script. (Savile) p. 846.
[3 ]Eald-seax, vetus Saxonia, Anglorum antiqua patria. (Chron. Sax., ed. Gibson, passim.)
[1 ] Skeren, schæren, scheren; in modern English, to share, shear, cut, divide.
[2 ] Sharon Turner, Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, ii. 149 et seq.
[1 ] Ermoldi Nigelli, Carmen; apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., vi. 50.
[2 ] Asser. Menev., ut sup. iii. 172.
[3 ] Quo dux agnito, tubam chirneam tonitruum nuncupalam dedit monacho, hæc illi addeus, ut suis in prædam exeuntibus ea beccinaret. (Chron. Sanct. Flor. apud Mem. pour servir de preuves à l’histoire eccles. et civile de Bretagne, i. 119.
[1 ] Willelm. Malmesb., de Gest. reg. Anglic., ii. apud rer. Anglic. Script., (Savile) 43.
[2 ]Ead-weard. Ed, happy, fortunate; weard, keeper, guardian.
[3 ]Æthel-weald. Ethel, noble; weald, wald, walt, powerful, governing.
[4 ] Chron. Sax., ed. Gibson, 100. Henric. Huntind., lib. v. ut sup.
[5 ] Chron. Sax., 100-9.
[6 ] Æthelstan, the Saxon superlative of ethel.
[7 ] Chron. Sax., 109.
[1 ] Willelm. Malms., ut sup. lib. ii. Hist. Ingulf. Croyland, ut sup. i. 29.
[2 ] Ethelwerdi, Hist., lib. iii. ut sup. Willelm. Malms., ut sup. lib. ii. Hist. Ingulf. Croyland, ut sup.
[1 ] Weal, Weallise, Welsch, is the general name given by the Teutons to the men of Celtic or Roman race.
[2 ] Chron. Sax. (Gibson) 112—14. See Appendix, No. V.
[3 ] Laws of Howell Dda., lib. iii. cap. 11; Leges Wallicæ (Wotton) p. 199.
[4 ] Willelm. Malmesb., ut sup. lib. ii.
[5 ] Charta Edgari regis, apud Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, i. 140. In an extant charter of Ethelstan he is called: Totius Albionis imperator, Augustus, rex et basileus. Totius Britanniæ Cunctarumque nationum quæ infra eam includuntur imperator et dominus.
[6 ] Saga Haconaz goda, cap. iii; Snorre’s Heimskringla, i. 127.
[7 ] Theod-kyning, fylkes-kyning, folkes-kyning.
[1 ]Ed-red, fortunate councillor.
[2 ] Hist. regum Norveg. conscripta a Snorro Sturlæ filio, i. 128.
[3 ] The palace of the dead.
[4 ] The Scandinavian god of poetry and eloquence.
[5 ] Torfæi, Hist. rer. Norveg., pars ii. lib. iv. cap. x. p. 197.
[1 ] Summus pontifex Odo, vir . . . . grandævitatis maturitate . . . . fultus et omnium iniquitatum inflexibilis adversarius. (Osbernus, Vita Odoni Archiep. Cantuar.; Anglia Sacra, ii. 84.)
[1 ] Ræde, rædegifan, gerædnes. See the preambles of the Anglo Saxon laws; Hickes’ Thesaurus linguarum septentrionalium, ii. in fine.
[2 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., i. 140.
[1 ] Willelm. Malms., ut sup. lib. ii. Rex . . . imbellis quìa imbecillis, monachum potius quam militem actione prætendebat. (Osbernus, Vita S. Elphegi; Anglia Sacra, ii. 131.)
[2 ]Dæne-geld, dæne-geold; in Latin, danegeldum.
[3 ] Wilkins, Leges Edwardi, p. 198.
[4 ] Ingulf, ut sup. i. 55; Joh. Bromt. Chron., ut sup. i. col. 879; Eadmeri, Hist., lib. i. p. 3 & 4. ut sup.; Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. ii.
[5 ]Sven, sweinn, sweyn, swayn, a young man. See Ihre’s Glossary.
[1 ] Johan. Bromt., ut sup. i. col. 883.
[2 ] Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. ii.
[3 ] Monachus Sancti Galli, apud Script. rer Gallic. et Francic., v. 134.—Bromton, ut sup. i. col. 880.—Chron. Sax. (Gibson) p. 127.
[4 ] Matth. Westmonast. Fiores Hist. (Franckfort, 1601) p. 200.
[1 ] Emmæ reginæ Encomion, apud Script. rer. Normann. p. 168. Saxon Chron. p. 127.
[2 ] Emmæ Encomion, ut sup. p. 166.
[3 ] Saga af Haraldi Hardrada, cap. lxi. Snorre’s Heimskringla, iii. 118.
[4 ] Emmæ Encom., p. 170.
[5 ] Henrici Huntind., ut sup. lib. vi. 360.
[1 ] Ingulf., ut sup. i. 56. Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. ii. 69.
[2 ] Osbernus, Vita S. Elphegi., ut sup. p. 138.
[3 ] Id. ib. Eadmeri., ut sup. lib. i. p. 4.—Ingulf., ut sup. p. 57.—Bromton, ut sup. i. col. 889.
[1 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 142.
[2 ] Osbernus, ut sup. p. 140.
[3 ] Chron. Sax., p. 142.—Joh. Bromton, ut sup. i. col. 890, 1.
[4 ] Regii exactores. Ingulf., ut sup. p. 57.
[1 ] Rex plenarius; fulle cyning. (Chron. Sax. 143.)
[2 ]Ib. 144.—Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. p. 69. Henric. Huntind., ut sup. lib. vi. 362.
[3 ] Ad tuitionem et majorem securitatem regni sui. (Joh. Bromt., ut sup. col. 883.)
[4 ] Hen. Hunt., ut sup. Roger de Hoveden, Annal. pars prior, (Savile,) p. 429.
[5 ] Script. rer Norman., p. 7.
[1 ] In Latin, frankisia, franchisia.
[2 ] Annales Fuldenses, apud Script. rer. Gallic., ii. 676.
[3 ] See Lettres sur l’Histoire de France, letter x.
[1 ] Duces, comites, judices, missi, præfecti, præpositi; grafen, mark-grafen, land-grafen, tun-grafen, herizogen, skepen, sensskalken, maer skalhen, &c.
[2 ] At Fontenai, Fontanetum, near Auxerre.
[1 ] Nithardi, Hist., apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francie., vii. 26.
[2 ] The corrupt Roman or Latin idiom of Gaul was thus denominated.
[1 ] Chronicon Namnetense; Lobineau, Hist. de Bret. Pieces Justificatives, ii. 45.
[1 ] Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. i. 25.
[2 ] Vivere, habitare, succedere more Francorum . . . Francus homo, (Ducange, Glossar.) Barn, bearn, bairn, beorn, a man, a male child. (Wachter, Glossar.) Hence the Romane words, bers, bernes, bernage.
[3 ] The term villa which, among the Romans, only designated a country house, a villa, was long applied, in the Neo-Latin languages, to every description of inhabited place.
[1 ] Mallet, H. du Dannemarck, i. 223.
[1 ] Depping, Histoire des Expeditions Maritimes des Normands, ii. 57.
[2 ] Haralds saga ens Harfagra, cap. xxiv.; Snorre’s Heimskringla, i. 100; Mallet, ut sup. i. 224.
[1 ] Depping, Hist. des Expeditions Maritimes des Normands, ii. 68.
[2 ] See Lettres sur l’Histoire de France, letter xii.
[3 ] Frankes un archeveske, ki à Roem esteit. (Wace, Roman de Rou, i. 57.)
[1 ] Dudo de Sancto Quintino, apud Script. rer. Normani, p. 76.
[2 ] Willelm. Gemeticensis, Hist. Normani, apud Script. rer. Normani, p. 228. Dudo, ib. 76.
[1 ] Willelm. Gemeticensis, Hist. Normani, apud Script. rer. Normani, p. 229. Dudo, ib. 76.
[2 ] Continua...pace diuturnaque requie lætabantur homines, sub (Rollonis) ditione securi morantes; locupletesque erant omnibus bonis, non timentes exercitum ullius hostilitatis. (Dudo, ut sup. p. 86.)
[2 ] Carolus, simplex, sive stultus. (Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., ix. 22.) Follus. (Ib. p. 8.)
[3 ] See Lettres sur l’Histoire de France, letter xii.
[1 ] Willelm. Gemet., ut sup. p. 231.
[2 ] D’Argentre, Hist. de Bretagne, iii. 191. (Paris, 1588.) Dudo de Sancto Quintino, p. 83. Willelm. Gemet., ut sup. 231.
[1 ] Willelm. Gemet., p. 231.
[2 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] Fleury, Hist. Ecclesiast., xi. 593.
[2 ] Willelm. Gemet., p. 231.
[3 ] Thus Angoville, Borneville, Grimonville, Heronville, were the territorial possessions of Ansgod, Biorn, Grim, Harald, &c. The ancient charters exhibited these original names under a form more or less correct. (Memoire de M. de Gerville sur les noms de lieux en Normandie; Mem. de la Societé Royale des Antiquaires de France, tome vii.)
[1 ] Rotomagensis civitas romana potius quam dacisca utitur eloquentia, et Baiocacensis fruitur frequentius dacisca lingua quam romana. (Dudo de Sancto Quintino, ut sup. p. 112.)
[3 ] Willelm. Gemet., ut sup. p. 316.
[1 ] The Danish double descent by father and mother constituted the highest degree of nobility. Providentia summæ divinitatis, ut remur hanc tibi dacigenam quam modo refoves conexuit; ut patre matreque dacigena hæres hujus terræ nascatur. (Dudo de S. Quint., ut sup. p. 152.)
[2 ] Depping, vt sup. ii. cap. xii.
[1 ] Roman de Rou, 304, et seq. Chronique des ducs de Normandie, par Benoit de St. Maure, edit. de M. Francisque Michel, ii. 390, et seq.
[2 ] Juxta suos libitus vivere decernebant quatenus tam in silvarum compendiis quam in aquarum commerciis, nullo obsistente ante statuti juris obice, legibus uterentur suis. (Willelm. Gemet., ut sup. p. 249.) I have compared this passage with Wace and Benoit de St. Maure, by whose aid I have extended it in the text. Though posterior to the event by a century and a half, their testimony has at least the value to me of a traditional narrative.
[3 ] Benoit de St. Maure, ut sup. ii. 393. Rom. de Rou, i. 307.
[4 ] Willelm. Gemet., ut sup. p. 249.
[1 ] Roman de Rou, i. 307.
[2 ] See as to this description of association, its effects and its origin, my Considerations sur l’Histoire de France, prefixed to the Recits des temps Merovingiens, 2nd ed. i. 311, et seq.
[3 ] Roman de Rou, i. 309.
[4 ]Ib. 311.
[5 ]Ib. Benoit de St. Maure, ut sup. ii. 395.
[6 ] Willelm. Gemet., ut sup. p. 249.
[1 ] See postea, book vi.; Francigenæ, Romani. Walli.
[1 ] Chron. Saxon., 145. Matth. West., p. 202.
[2 ] Gretan ealne his Leodscire. (Chron. Sax., ut sup.)
[3 ] Hold hlaford, (ib.)
[4 ] Ut-lagede of Englaland, ib.—Leg signified alike country, state, and statute, law, from the verb lagen, to lay, to establish. Ut-lage (outlaw) means a banished man, and a man placed out of the pale of the law.
[1 ]Ib. 148—150. Henric. Huntind., lib. vi. 362. Willelm. Malmes., lib. ii. 72. Matth. West., p. 203 and 204. Ingulf., i. p. 57, 58.
[2 ]Ulf, wulf, hulf, succour, succourable.
[3 ]God, good; win, cherished, beloved.
[4 ]Noth, not, nod, nyd, useful, necessary.
[5 ] Torfæi, Hist. rer. Norveg., pars. iii. lib. i. cap. xxi. p. 36.
[1 ] Torfæi, Hist., par. iii. lib. i. cap. xxi. p. 36.
[2 ] Torfæi, Hist., ut sup.
[4 ] Simus fratres adoptivi, (Henrici Huntind., lib. vi. 363.) Emmæ reginæ Encomion, ut sup. p. 171. Willelm. Malmes., lib. ii. 72.
[1 ] Roger de Hoveden, ut sup. p. 436.
[2 ] Florentii Wigornensis, Chron. (Francfort, 1601) p. 619.
[3 ] Matt. Westmonest., 206. Henric. Hunt., lib. vi. 363.
[1 ] Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. ii. p. 73.
[2 ] Diploma Chnuti regis; Ingulf., ut sup. i. 58.
[1 ] Osberni, Hist. de translatione S. Elphegi. Anglia Sacra, ii. 146. Dugdale, Mon. Anglic., i. 286. Joh. Bromton, ut sup. i. col. 891.
[2 ] Diplomata reg. Angliæ.
[3 ] Le ges Clinuti, Art. xii. Bromton, ut sup. col. 920.
[1 ] Fleury, Hist. Eccles., viii. 29.
[2 ] Torfæus, ut sup. pars. iii. lib. iii. cap. xvi. p. 223. Encomion Emmæ, p. 493, in notis.
[1 ] Florent. Wigorn. Chron., p. 621.
[2 ] Ego . . . . imperator Knuto a Christo rege regum, regiminis . . . politus. (Diploma Knuti regis, apud Wilkins, Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ, i. 296.)
[1 ] Præsidia militum danorum in Anglia, ne Anglici a dominio Danorum laberentur. (Petri Olai Excerpt. apud Script. rer. Danie. ii., 207.) Saga af Magnusi Berfætta, cap. xi.; Snorre’s Heimskringla, iii. 211.
[2 ] Ingulf., ut sup. i. 61. Chron. Saxon., p. 154.
[3 ]Her, eminent, chief; ald, hold, faithful. The Saxons wrote it Harold.
[1 ] Mid . . . . huscarlum (Chron. Saxon., 154.)
[2 ] Willelm. Malmes., ut sup., lib. ii. p. 76. Henric. Huntind., ut sup. lib. vi. p. 364. Chron Sax. p. 155.
[3 ]Ethel, noble; noth, useful.
[4 ] Emmæ reginæ Encom., p. 174.
[6 ] Ingulf., ut sup. i. 61.
[7 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] Will. Malmesb., ut sup. lib. iv. p. 202.
[2 ] Ingulf., ut sup. i. 61.
[3 ] Roger de Hoved., ut sup. pars. i. 438.
[4 ] Rex plenarius, . . . . Full cyng ofer all Engla-land. (Chron. Sax., p. 155.)
[1 ] Rogo, unus vestrum ad me velociter et private veniat. (Emmæ reginæ encom., p. 174.)
[2 ] Willelm. Gemet, ut sup. p. 271.
[3 ] Joh. Bromton, ut sup. i. col. 936. Emmæ Encom., p. 175 & 6.
[4 ] Henric Huntind., ut sup. lib. vi. p. 365.
[5 ] Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. ii. p. 77.
[6 ] Roger de Hoveden, ut sup. p. 438. Ailred. Rieval. Genealog. reg. Ang. apud Hist. angl. Script. (Selden) i. col. 366. Guill. Pictaviensis, apud Script. rer. Normann., p. 178.
[1 ] Willelm. Malmes., ut sup. lib. ii. p. 76.—Eluredi carmen scire volebat, et Edwardo exuli nichel penibus boni faciebat. (Dugdale, Monast. Anglie. i. 33.)
[2 ] C. Joh. Bromt., ut sup. i. col. 934., Dugdale, p. 35.
[3 ] Henrici Hunt., lib. vi. p. 364.
[4 ] Roger de Hoveden, pars i. ut sup. p. 438.
[5 ] Joh. Bromt., ut sup.
[6 ] Willelm. Malmes., lib. ii. ut sup. p. 77.
[7 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] Id. ib. Matth. Westm., ut sup. p. 210.
[2 ] Ingulf., ut sup. i. 62.
[3 ] Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup. p. 77.
[1 ] Id. ib. Leof-win. Leof, lief, lieb, dear, beloved.
[2 ] Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup. p. 76.
[3 ] Joh. Bromt., ut sup. i. col. 954.
[4 ] Classiariis suis per singulas naves viginti marcas. (Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii., ut sup. p. 76.) Navium singulis remigibus, viii. marcas. (Chron. Sax. p. 156.)—xxxii navibus, xi millia librarum. (ib.)
[5 ] Iste dedit ..... Danis xxviii. mill. lib. argenti. ad sumptus hospitii regis (Henrici Knyghton, de Event. Angl. lib.i. cap. xxvi. apud Script. hist. Angl. (Selden) ii. col. 2326.
[1 ] Magna summa animalium bene crassorum. (ib.)
[2 ] Unus Danus custos et magister domus super omnes alios hospitii. (ib.)
[3 ] Nam si Dacus Anglico super pontem occurrisset, Anglicus pedem movere ausus non fuisset, donec Dacus pontem pertransisset, et ulterius nisi Angli in honorem Dacorum capita inclinassent graves pœnas et verbira sentirent. (Bromt., i. col. 934.)
[4 ]Wulf-heofod, the term applied by the Saxons to men outlawed for any great crime. (Wilkins, Lege et Concilia.)
[5 ] Knyghton, lib. i. cap. vi. ut sup.
[6 ] Id.
[1 ] Petri Olai, Excerpt., ut sup. ii. 207.
[2 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., i. 24.
[3 ] Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup. p. 80.
[4 ] Chron. Sax., p. 156. Henric. Huntind., lib. vi. ut sup. 365; Knyghton, ut sup. lib. i. cap. viii. col. 2329.
[5 ] Henrici Huntind., lib. vi. ut sup.
[1 ] Willelm Gemet., ut sup. p. 271.
[2 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., i. 24.
[3 ]Ed, happy, fortunate; ethel, noble; schwend, swinth, swith, light, active.
[4 ] Ingulf., ut sup. i. 62.
[5 ] Id. ib.
[6 ] Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup.
[1 ] Sub nomine regis Edwardi juratur, non quod ille statuerit, sed quod observavrit. (Id. ib.)
[2 ]Dæne-geld, dæna-geold; al. Heregeold, tribute of the army (Chron. Sax. passim.)
[3 ] Myrcna-laga, West-Seaxna-laga, Dæna-laga. See Hickes, Thesaurus linguar. Septentrion.
[4 ] Magnus then godes Saga, cap. iii.; Snorre’s Heimskringla, ii. 52; In gulf., ut sup. p. 65; Joh. Bromt. ut sup. i. col. 938.
[1 ] Ingulf., ut sup. p. 62.
[2 ] Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup. p. 80.
[3 ] Attrahens de Normannia plurimos quos, variis dignitatibus promotos, in immensum exaltabat (Ingulf., ut sup. p. 62.) Dugdale, Mon. Angl., i. 34.
[4 ] Ingulf., ut sup.
[5 ] Tanquam magnum gentilitium. (Ingulf, ut sup.)
[6 ] Propriam consuetudinem in his et in aliis multis erubescere. (Id. ib.)
[1 ] Godwinum et natos, magnanimos viros et industrios, auctores et tutores regni. (Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup. p. 80.)
[2 ]Ib. p. 81.
[3 ] Willelm. Malmesb., lib. ii. ut sup.
[4 ] There existed a variety of provincial and municipal institutions among the Anglo-Saxons. Folc-gemot, scire-gemot, provincial assembly. Burhaemot, Wic-gemot, town, assembly. Husting, house of council. Hans-hus, common house. Gild-hall, club; ged-scipe, association. (See Hickes, Thesaurus, as to the social institutions of the Anglo-Saxons.)
[5 ] Willelm Malmesb., ut sup.
[1 ] Eadmeri, Hist. nov. (Selden) lib. i. p. 4.
[2 ] Henrici Huntind., lib. vi. ut sup. p. 539.
[3 ] Id. ib.