Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK VI.: FROM THE QUARREL BETWEEN KING WILLIAM AND HIS ELDEST SON ROBERT, TO THE LAST VISIT OF WILLIAM TO THE CONTINENT. 1077—1087. - 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 VI.: FROM THE QUARREL BETWEEN KING WILLIAM AND HIS ELDEST SON ROBERT, TO THE LAST VISIT OF WILLIAM TO THE CONTINENT. 1077—1087. - 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 QUARREL BETWEEN KING WILLIAM AND HIS ELDEST SON ROBERT, TO THE LAST VISIT OF WILLIAM TO THE CONTINENT.
Discords among the victors—Quarrel between William and his son Robert—Robert demands Normandy—He joins his father’s enemies—William curses his son—Conspiracy against and murder of Vaulcher—Devastation of Northumberland—Miserable condition of the northern provinces—Anglo-Saxon outlaws—Popular poems in their honour—Ambition of Eudes—His arrest—Results of the Norman conquest—Toustain, abbot of Glastonbury—Saxon monks killed or wounded by his order—Death of Matilda—Severance of interests between the king and the Normans—Domesday book—Levies upon the Normans and English—Equalization of property in the hands of the Normans—Laws of William against hunting—Political reasons for the severity of these laws—Expropriation of the English subsequent to the conquest—Emigration of Normans to Scotland—Descent of the Danes—Preparations for defence—Singular order issued to the English—Motives for the armament of king Knut—Termination of alliance between the English and the Danes—General assembly and review of the Normans—Ordinances of king William—State of the Anglo-Saxon population—Anxiety and mental torments of king William—Establishment of episcopal jurisdiction—Separation of the civil and ecclesiastical tribunals—Conduct of William with reference to the pope—Aspect of the conquered country.
One of the necessary phases of all conquests, great or small, is, that the conquerors quarrel among themselves for the possession and partition of the property of the conquered. The Normans did not escape this necessity. When there were no more rebels to subdue, England became a cause of intestine war to her masters; and it was in the bosom of her new royal family, between the father and his eldest son, that discord first broke out. His son Robert, whom the Normans surnamed in their language, Gamberon or Courte-Heuse, on account of the shortness of his legs,1 had, before the battle of Hastings, been named by duke William heir to his lands and title. This nomination had taken place, according to custom, with the formal consent of the barons of Normandy, who had all taken the oath to young Robert, as to their future lord. When William had become king, the young man, whose ambition was aroused by his father’s successes, required him at least to abdicate in his favour the government of Normandy; but the king refused, willing to keep both his old duchy and his new kingdom. A violent quarrel ensued, in which the two younger brothers, William Rufus and Henry, took part against Robert, under colour of filial affection, but in reality to supplant him, if they could, in the succession which their father had assigned to him.1
One day that the king was at Laigle with his sons, William and Henry came to Robert’s apartments, in the house of one Roger Chaussiègue, and ascending to the upper rooms began to play at dice, after the manner of the soldiers of that time; then they made a great noise, and threw water upon Robert and his friends, who were in the court-yard below. Irritated by this insult, Robert hastened, sword in hand, to chastise his brothers: there was a great tumult, which the king had some difficulty in appeasing. On the following night, the young man, followed by all his companions, left the town, and proceeded to Rouen, where he attempted to surprise the citadel, but failed in his object. Many of his friends were arrested; he himself escaped, with some others, and, passing the frontier of Normandy, took refuge in La Perche, where Hugh, nephew of Aubert-le-Ribaud, received him in his castles of Sorel and Reymalard.2
A reconciliation afterwards took place between the father and son, but it did not last long; for the young men who surrounded the latter began again to stimulate his ambition by every device. “Noble son of a king,” said they, “thy father’s people must take good care of his treasure, since thou hast not a penny to bestow on thy followers. Why endurest thou to remain so poor, when thy father is so rich? Ask him for a portion of his England, or at least for the duchy of Normandy, which he promised thee before all his barons.” Robert, excited by this and similar suggestions, renewed his former request, but the king again refused, and exhorted him. in a paternal tone, to return to his duty, and especially to make choice of better counsellors, wise and grave persons, of mature age, such as archbishop Lanfranc. “Sir king,” sharply replied Robert, “I came here to claim my right, and not to listen to sermons; I heard enough of them, and wearisome enough they were, when I was at my grammar. Answer me therefore distinctly, so that I may know what I have to do; for I am firmly resolved not to live on the bread of others, and not to receive the wages of any man.”
The king answered angrily, that he would not divest himself of Normandy, where he was born, or share England, which he had acquired by so much labour. “Well,” said Robert, “I will go—I will go and serve strangers, and perhaps obtain from them what is refused me in my own country.” He departed, and went through Flanders, Lorraine, Germany, then to France and Aquitaine, visiting, says an old historian, dukes, counts, and rich lords of castles, telling them his grievances and demanding their aid; but all he received for the support of his cause he spent upon mountebanks, parasites, debauched women, and soon found himself compelled to beg afresh, or to borrow at enormous usury. Matilda, his mother, sometimes sent him money unknown to the king. William heard of this, and forbad her to send any more; she disobeyed, and the irritated king reproached her, in bitter terms, “with supporting his enemies by the treasure he had placed in her keeping;” he ordered Matilda’s messenger, who conveyed the money, to be arrested and to have his eyes put out; but the latter, a Breton, named Samson, escaped, and turned monk, to save at once, says an old chronicle, his soul and his body.1
After much journeying, young Robert repaired, under the auspices of Philip, king of France, to the castle of Gerberoy, in Beauvoisis, on the confines of Normandy. He was well received here by Elie, viscount of the castle, and by his colleague; for, says the old narrator, it was the custom at Gerberoy to have two seigneurs equal in power, and to receive fugitives from all countries.2 There the son of the Conqueror assembled a body of mercenaries; some came to him from France and Normandy; even men-at-arms of king William, and several of those who had been flattering him daily, and living at his table, quitted their posts, and repaired to Gerberoy;1 and at length he himself, crossing the sea, came in person to besiege the castle where his son had shut himself up.
In a sally made by Robert, he engaged, hand to hand, a knight enveloped in armour, wounded him in the arm, and threw him from his horse; the voice of the wounded man told him that it was his father he had overthrown; he instantly dismounted, aided him to rise and to regain his saddle, and left him free to depart.2 The Norman chiefs and bishops endeavoured once more to reconcile father and son; but William at first resisted their intreaties. “Why,” said he, “do you solicit me in favour of a traitor who has seduced from me my soldiers, those whom I have fed with my bread, and whom I have supplied with the arms they bear?” He, however, ultimately gave in; but the good understanding between father and son was not of long duration; for the third time, Robert withdrew, went into a foreign country, and returned no more during his father’s life.3 The king cursed him on his departure, and the historians of the age attribute to this malediction the misfortunes which filled the life of the eldest son of William the Bastard—misfortunes of which, as we have seen, the conquest of England was the first cause.4
From these dissensions, which troubled the repose of the chief of the conquerors, the conquered derived no advantage; and if, in the absence of William, the royal hand itself weighed not upon that people, other hands, those of earls, viscounts, judges, prelates, and abbots, all of foreign race, made it feel their heaviness. Among the most pitiless of these ministers of the conquest, figured the Lorrainese, Vaulcher, bishop of Durham, who, since the execution of Waltheof, had added to his ecclesiastical office the government of the whole country between the Tweed and the Tyne.5 The friends of the earlbishop loudly vaunted his administration, and praised him for equal skill in repressing the rebellions of the English by the edge of the sword, and in reforming their morals by the power of his discourses.1 The simple fact was, that Vaulcher harassed his province by insupportable exactions, that he allowed his officers, after him, to levy tributes on their own account, and that he permitted his soldiers also to rob and murder with impunity.2 Among those whom he put to death without trial was one Liulf, a man beloved by the whole country, who had retired to Durham after having been despoiled by the Normans3 of all the property he possessed in the south of England. This murder, executed with most atrocious circumstances, put the crowning point to the hatred of the people to the Lorrainese bishop and his agents. The old spirit of Northumberland was aroused, and the inhabitants of that district, so fatal to foreigners, assembled as in the time of Robert Comine.4
They held nocturnal conferences, and unanimously agreed to proceed with concealed weapons to the assembly of justice, held from time to time by the bishop, at the county court.5 This court was held on the banks of the Tyne, near the New Castle, built by the conquerors on the high road to Scotland, at a place called in Saxon Gotes-Heaved, or Goats-Head.6 The Northumbrians repaired hither in great numbers, as if to address humble and pacific solicitations to their lord. They demanded reparation for the wrongs that had been done them. “I will not redress any of these,” said the bishop, “unless you first give me four hundred pounds, good money.” The Saxon who, knowing French, spoke in the name of the rest, asked permission to confer with them, and all went apart for a moment, as if to consult together about paying the sum demanded; but suddenly the speaker, who was the chief also of the plot, cried out in the English tongue, “Short reed, good reed, slay ye the bishop!”7 At this signal, they drew their weapons, threw themselves upon the Lorrainese, killed him, and with him an hundred men of Norman or Flemish race.8 Two servants only, Englishmen by birth, were spared by the conspirators.1 The popular rising extended to Durham; the fortress built there by the Normans was attacked; but the garrison, numerous and well provided, resisted the Northumbrians, who, after a siege of four days, became discouraged, and dispersed.2
At this new indication of life given by the population of the north, Eudes, bishop of Bayeux, the king’s brother, and one of his lieutenants in his absence, promptly marched to Durham, with a numerous army. Without taking the time or the trouble to investigate the circumstances of the insurrection, he promiscuously seized the natives, who, confiding in their innocence, remained in their homes, and beheaded or mutilated them.3 Others only purchased their life by surrendering all they possessed. Bishop Eudes pillaged the church of Durham, and carried away all that remained of the sacred ornaments that Eghelwin had saved by removing them to Lindisfarn.4 He renewed throughout Northumberland the ravages made there by his brother in 1070; and it was this second devastation which, added to the first, impressed upon the northern counties of England that aspect of desolation and gloom which they presented for more than a century afterwards.5 “Thus,” says an historian, who lived seventy years later, “thus were cut the nerves of this county, once so flourishing. Those towns, formerly so renowned, now so abased, those lofty towers, which threatened heaven, now in ruins, those pasture fields, once smiling and watered by sparkling rills, now wholly waste, the stranger who sees them, beholds with a sigh, the old inhabitant no longer recognises.”6
In this county, ruined as it was, the population, half Saxon, half Danish, long preserved its ancient spirit of independence, and of somewhat savage pride. The Norman successors of the Bastard dwelt in full safety in the southern provinces; but it was scarcely without apprehension that they journeyed beyond the Humber; and an historian of the twelfth century tells us that they never visited that part of their kingdom without the escort of an army of veteran soldiers.1 It was in the north that the tendency to rebel against the social order established by the conquest longest endured; it was the north which, for more than two centuries, furnished those bands of outlaws who were the political successors of the refugees of the camp of Ely, and of the companions of Hereward. History has not understood them; it has passed them over in silence, or else, adopting the legal acts of the time, it has branded them with names which divest them of all interest, with the names of rebels, robbers, and bandits. But let us not be misled by these apparently odious titles; in all countries subjugated by foreigners, they have been given by the victors to the brave men who in small numbers took refuge in the mountains or in the forests, abandoning the towns and cities to those who chose to support slavery.2 If the Anglo-Saxon nation had not the courage to follow their example, it at least loved those who gave it, and accompanied them with its blessing. While ordinances, drawn up in the French language, required all the inhabitants of the cities and boroughs of England to hunt the outlaw, the man of the forest, as a wolf,3 to pursue him from hundred to hundred, with hue and cry, the English sang ballads in honour of this enemy to foreign rule, who, as they expressed it, had the earl’s purse for his treasure, and the king’s deer for his herd. The popular poets celebrated his victories, his combats, his stratagems against the agents of authority. They sang how he had outstripped the men and horses of the viscount, how he had taken the bishop, had put him to a thousand marks ransom, and made him dance a measure in his pontifical robes.4
The Norman bishop, Eudes de Bayeux, after his expedition into Northumberland, became famous among his people, as one of the greatest quellers of the English;5 he was chief of the judges, or grand justiciary of all England, earl of Kent and of Hereford, since the imprisonment of Roger Fitz-Osbern. The reputation he enjoyed inflated him with pride, and the power he exercised in England and in Normandy excited in him the ambition of the greatest power then extant, the papal power. Some Italian soothsayers had predicted that a pope named Eudes should succeed Gregory VII. The bishop of Bayeux, relying upon this prediction, commenced intrigues at Rome, bought a palace there, sent rich presents to those whom the people beyond the Alps still called senators, and loaded the pilgrims of Normandy and England with letters and despatches;1 he engaged Norman barons and knights, among others Hugh le Loup, earl of Chester, to follow him into Italy, in order to constitute a brilliant escort for him. King William, while still in Normandy, heard of these preparations, which, for some reason or other, displeased him. Not desiring that his brother should become pope, he sailed, and surprised him at sea, off the Isle of Wight. The king immediately assembled the Norman chiefs in that island, and accused before them the bishop of having abused his power of judge and earl; of having, beyond all measure, illtreated the Saxons, to the great danger of the common cause; of having despoiled the churches; and lastly, of having attempted to seduce and take with him, beyond the Alps, the warriors upon whose fidelity rested the safety of the country.
“Consider these grievances,” said the king to the assembly, “and tell me how I ought to act towards such a brother.” No one dared reply. “Let him then be arrested,” continued the king, “and put into safe custody.” None present dared lay his hand upon the bishop. Hereupon the king advanced and seized him by his robe. “I am a priest,” cried Eudes; “I am the minister of the Lord: the pope alone can judge me.” But William, without quitting his hold, answered: “It is not a priest nor prelate I judge; it is my earl, my vassal and false viceroy whom I arrest.” The brother of the conqueror of England was taken to Normandy and imprisoned in a fortress,2 perhaps in the same where still languished Ulfnoth, the brother of king Harold, whose fate was now like his own, after fifteen years of a fortune so different.
The reproaches of the king to the bishop as to his conduct in the north of England, if they are not an invention of the old historian, seem to betray some fears of a fresh rising on the part of those who had killed Robert Comine, retaken York, massacred bishop Vaulcher, and who joyfully hastened to embrace every and any enemy of the Normans that landed on their coasts. Such an apprehension was not entirely futile, for more than one revolt broke out in the neighbourhood of Durham, under the administration of William, successor to the Lorrainese.1 In the rest of England the conquered showed less energy, or more resignation to their sufferings. Few positive facts as to the nature of their sufferings have come down to us, and those few relate, for the most part, to the miseries of the clergy, the only class of the oppressed men of old England that has found historians. However, what was done to this privileged class may enable us to conjecture to what the other classes, whom religious scruples did not protect, would be subjected; and an incident in the internal rule of an English monastery, under a Norman abbot, in the sixteenth year of the conquest, will aid us in forming an idea of the rule of the conquerors in the cities and provinces under the authority of the earls, viscounts and bailiffs of the foreign king.2
The convent of Glastonbury, Somersetshire, after the deposition of Eghelnoth, its Saxon abbot, had been given to Toustain, a monk of Caen. Toustain, according to the custom of other Normans, who had become abbots in England, had begun with lessening the rations given to his monks, in order to render them more manageable; but hunger only irritated them against the power of him whom they loudly termed intruder.3 The abbot, from national predilections, or out of pure despotism, ordered his Saxon monks to learn to chant the service after the method of a famous musician of Fécamp, and the Saxons, as much through hatred of the Norman music, as from habit, adhered to the Gregorian chant.1 They received repeated injunctions to renounce it, as well as many other ancient usages; but they resisted, and at length declared, in full chapter, their firm resolution not to change it. The Norman arose in a fury, went out, and immediately returned at the head of a body of soldiers, fully armed.
At this sight the monks fled towards the church, and took refuge in the choir, the door of which they had time to shut.2 The soldiers attempted to force it, and meanwhile some of them climbed the pillars, and, placing themselves on the rafters at the top of the choir, assailed the monks below with discharges of arrows. The latter, retreating to the high altar, glided behind the shrines or reliquaries, which, serving them as ramparts, received the arrows discharged against them. The great crucifix of the altar soon bristled with these missiles.3 By and bye the door of the choir yielded to the efforts of the soldiers, and the Saxons, forced in their retreat, were attacked with swords and lances; they defended themselves as best they could with the wooden benches and the metal candlesticks; they even wounded some of the soldiers,4 but the arms were too unequal; eighteen monks were killed or mortally wounded, and their blood, says the contemporary chronicle, poured down the steps of the altar.5 Another historian says, that he could recite many facts similar to this, but that he prefers to pass them over in silence, as equally painful to write and to read.6
In the year 1083 died Matilda, wife of king William. An old narrative says that the counsels of this lady more than once softened the soul of the conqueror; that she often disposed him to clemency towards the English, but that after her death. William abandoned himself without reserve to his tyrannical humour.1 Facts are wanting to substantiate this aggravation of oppression and misery for the conquered people, and the imagination can scarcely supply the deficiency, for it is difficult to add a single shade to the dark picture of the unhappiness of the preceding years. The only difference observable between the epoch of the conquest which followed the death of Matilda, and those which have been already narrated is, that William, having nothing further to gain in power over the natives, began to create for himself a personal domination over his companions in victory.
Necessity had probably as large a share in this enterprise as ambition; nothing remaining to take from the English, the king found himself obliged to levy contributions on the Normans themselves for the maintenance of the common property. In the year 1083 he exacted sixpence in silver for every hide of land throughout the kingdom, without distinction of possessor.2 The Norman warrior, worn out by twenty years of combats, found himself obliged to pay, out of the revenues of the domain he had conquered in the days of his youth and strength, the hire of a new army.
From this epoch dates a spirit of mutual distrust and secret hostility between the king and his old friends; they accused each other of avarice and selfishness. William reproached the Norman chiefs with caring more for their private interest than for the common safety; with thinking more of building farms, raising flocks, or forming studs, than of holding themselves in readiness against the native or foreign enemy.3 In their turn, the chiefs reproached the king with being beyond all measure greedy of gain, and with desiring to appropriate to himself, under false pretexts of general utility, the wealth acquired by the labour of all. In order to rest his demand of contributions, or money services, on a fixed basis, William ordered a general territorial inquest to be made, and a register prepared of all the mutations of property brought about in England by the conquest; he desired to know into what hands throughout the country the Saxon domains had passed, and how many of these still retained their possessions in virtue of special agreements with himself or his barons,1 how many acres of land there were in each domain, how many were sufficient for the maintenance of a man-at-arms, and how many men-at-arms there were in each province or county of England; what was the gross amount derived in various ways from the cities, towns, boroughs and hamlets, what was the exact property of each earl, baron, knight, or sergeant-at-arms; what land, how many men holding fiefs on that land, how many Saxons, how much cattle, and how many ploughs each possessed.2
This undertaking, in which modern historians have thought they discerned the stamp of administrative genius, was simply the result of the peculiar position of the Norman king, as chief of a conquering army, and of the necesity of establishing some kind of order in the chaos of the conquest. This is so entirely the case, that in other conquests, the details of which have been transmitted to us, for example, in that of Greece by the Latin crusaders in the thirteenth century, we find the same kind of inquest instituted by the chiefs of the invasion, on a wholly similar plan.3
In virtue of the orders of king William, Henry de Ferrieres, Walter Giffard, Adam, brother of Eudes the seneschal, and Remi, bishop of Lincoln, with other personages selected from among the officers of justice and of the Exchequer, made a progress through the counties of England, establishing a court of inquiry in each place of any importance.4 They summoned before them the Norman viscount of each province, or of each Saxon shire, a personage whom the Saxons, in their language, still called by the ancient title of shire-reve or sheriff. They then summoned, or caused the viscount to summon, all the Norman barons of the neighbourhood, and called upon them to state the precise limits of their possessions and of their territorial jurisdictions; then some of the inspectors, or commissioners delegated by them, proceeded to each large domain and to each district, or hundred, as the Saxons called it. There they made the French men-at-arms of each seigneur, and every English inhabitant of the hundred, declare upon oath how many free-holders or lease-holders there were on the domain,1 what portion each occupied in full and modified property, the names of the actual holders, the names of those who had possessed them before the conquest, and the various mutations of property that had taken place since. So that they required, say the narratives of the time, three declarations concerning each estate; what it had been in the time of king Edward; what it was when William gave it, and what it was at the time being.2 Under each particular return was inscribed this form: “This is what has been sworn by all the Frenchmen and all the Englishmen of the hundred.”3
In each town they inquired what taxes the inhabitants had paid to the ancient kings, and what the town produced to the officers of the Conqueror; how many houses the war of the conquest or the construction of fortresses had done away with; how many houses the conquerors had taken; how many Saxon families, reduced to utter poverty, were not in a condition to pay anything.4 In cities, they took the oath from the high Norman authorities, who convoked the Saxon citizens in their old Guildhall, now become the property of the king or of some foreign baron; lastly, in places of less importance, they took the oath of the royal provost, of the priest, and of six Saxons or villeins, as the Normans called them, of each town.5 This survey occupied six years, during which the commissioners of king William went over all England, with the exception of the mountainous districts, north and west of Yorkshire, that is to say, the five modern counties of Durham, Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire.6 Perhaps the lands in this district, cruelly devastated on two separate occasions, were not deemed valuable enough or fixedly appropriated enough to make their survey useful or even practicable; perhaps, too, the Norman commissioners feared, lest, if they extended their inquiries into the towns of Northumbria, the Saxon words which had been the signal for the massacre of bishop Vaulcher and his hundred men, might sound in their ears also.
However this may be, the register, or, to use the old term, the terrier of the Norman conquest, makes no mention of the domains conquered beyond the province of York. The compilation of this roll for each county mentioned in it, was formed on an uniform plan. The king’s name was placed at the head, with the list of his lands and revenues in the county; then followed the names of the chiefs and lesser proprietors, in the order of their military rank and territorial wealth.1 The Saxons who had been spared by special grace in the great spoliation, figured only in the last ranks; for the few men of that race who remained free proprietors, or tenants, en chef du roi, as the conquerors expressed it, possessed only very small estates. They were inserted at the end of each chapter under the name of thanes of the king,2 or with various qualifications derived from offices in the royal household.3 The other names of Anglo-Saxon aspect which occur here and there in the roll, belonged to men who farmed portions, of greater or less extent, of the domains of the Norman earls, barons, knights, sergeants-at-arms or cross-bow-men.4
Such is the form of the authentic and still existing book, whence have been derived most of the facts as to expropriations given in the present work. This precious volume, in which the conquest was registered in its entirety, so that its memory might never be effaced, was called by the Normans, le grand rôle, le rôle royale, or le rôle de Winchester, because it was preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of that city.5 The Saxons called it by a more solemn name, Dom-boc, or Doomsday Book, because it contained their sentence of irrevocable expropriation.1 But if this book was a sentence of dispossession for the English nation, it was so equally for some of the foreign usurpers. Their chief skilfully availed himself of it to effect numerous changes of property in his own favour, and to legitimate his personal pretensions to many lands usurped and occupied by others. He asserted himself proprietor, by inheritance, of all that Edward, the last king but one of the Anglo-Saxons, Harold, the last king, and the whole family of Harold had possessed; by the same title, he claimed all public property and the lordship of all cities, except where he had expressly divested himself of it, either wholly or in part, by a formal deed, par lettre et saisine, as the old jurisconsults call it.2
In the moment of victory, no one had thought of the formalities of lettre or saisine, and each of those to whom William, before the battle of Hastings, said: “What I take, you shall take,” had carved out his own portion: but after the conquest, the soldiers felt transferred to their own shoulders some of the weight of that power which they had brought upon the shoulders of the English. It was thus that the right of William de Warenne to the estates of two free Englishmen in Norfolk was contested, because these lands had once formed part of one of Edward’s royal manors.3 It was the same with the domain of one Eustache, in Huntingdonshire, and with fifteen acres of land held by one Miles, in Berkshire.4 An estate that Engelry occupied in Essex was, in the language of the great roll, seized into the hands of the king, because Engelry sent no one to justify his titles.5 The king, in like manner, seized all estates over which he had any pretension, and of which the occupier, although a Norman, could not or would not render an account.1
Another claim on his part was, that every domain which had paid any rent or service to king Edward, should pay the same rent or service to him, although held by a Norman. This claim, founded on a regular succession to the rights of the English king, which could not be admitted by those who had forcibly dispossessed the English race, was at first ill received by the conquerors. Exemption from taxes or any money service beyond a voluntary contribution now and then, appeared to them the inviolable prerogative of their victory, and they regarded the condition of customary tax-payers as peculiar to the subjugated nation.2 Many resisted the demands of the king, scorning to have personal servitude imposed upon them for the land which they had conquered. But others submitted; and their compliance, whether voluntary or purchased by William, weakened the opposition of the rest. Raoul de Courbespine long refused to pay any rent for the houses he had taken in the city of Canterbury; and Hugh de Montfort for the lands he occupied in Essex.3 These two chiefs might act thus cavalierly with impunity; but the haughtiness of less powerful and less considerable men was sometimes severely punished. One Osbern le Pecheur (Fisher), having refused to pay the dues which his land formerly paid to king Edward, as depending on his domain, was appropriated by the royal agents, and his land offered to any one who would pay the dues demanded. Raoul Taille-Bois paid, says the great roll, and took possession of the domain forfeited by Osbern le Pecheur.4
The king thus endeavoured to levy from his own countrymen, in the cities and lands of his demesne, the tax established by the Saxon law. As to the English in these cities and demesne lands, besides the tax rigorously exacted, as being the custom of the place, and which was often doubled or tripled, they were further subject to a casual, arbitrary, variable impost, capriciously and harshly levied, which the Normans called taille or taillage (tallagium). The great roll enumerates the tallagable burgesses of the king, in cities, towns, and hamlets. “The following are the burgesses of the king at Colchester:1 Keolman, who holds a house and five acres of land; Leofwin, who holds two houses and twentyfive acres; Ulfrik, Edwin, Wulfstan, Manwn, &c.” The Norman soldiers and chiefs also levied tallage on the Saxons who had fallen to their lot in town or country.2 This is what, in the language of the conquerors, was called having a free burgess or Saxon; and in this way the free men were reckoned by the head, were sold, given, exchanged, lent, or even divided among the Normans.3 The great roll mentions that a certain viscount had in the town of Ipswich two Saxon burghers, the one on loan, the other in pledge;4 and that king William, by authentic deed, had lent the Saxon Edwig to Raoul Taille-Bois, to keep him so long as he should live.5
Many intestine disputes among the conquerors for the spoil of the conquered, many invasions of Normans upon Normans, as the roll expresses it, were also recorded in every part of England;6 for example, William de Warenne, in Bedfordshire, had disseised Walter Espec of a half-hide or half-acre of land, and had taken from him two horses.7 Elsewhere, Hugh de Corbon had usurped from Roger Bigot the half of a free Englishman—that is to say, five acres of land. In Hampshire, William de la Chesnaye claimed from Picot a certain portion of land, under pretext that it belonged to the Saxon whose property he had taken.8 The last fact, and many others of the same kind, prove that the Normans regarded as their legitimate property all that the ancient proprietor could have legally claimed, and that the foreign invader, considering himself a natural successor, made the same claims, prosecuted the same civil suits, that the natural heir of the Saxon would have done.1 He summoned the English inhabitants of the district as witnesses to establish the extent of the rights which his substitution in place of the man he had killed or expelled had communicated to him.2 Frequently, the memory of the inhabitants, disturbed by the suffering and confusion of the conquest, was not equal to these appeals; frequently, also, the Norman who sought to dispute the right of his countrymen, refused to abide by the deposition of the vile populace of the conquered.3 In this case, the only means of terminating the dispute was by judicial combat between the parties, or a trial in the king’s court.4
The Norman terrier speaks in many places of unjust invasions, disseizins, and wrongful pretensions.5 It seems curious to find the word justice in the register of the expropriation of an entire people; a book which cannot be properly understood, unless we bear in mind throughout every page that the word inheritance means the spoliation of an Englishman; that every Englishman despoiled by a Norman takes thenceforth the name of predecessor of the Norman; that the being just, with a Norman, meant the abstaining from invasion of lands or houses of an Englishman killed or expelled by another Norman, and that the contrary is called injustice, as is proved by the following passage: “In the county of Bedford, Raoul Taille-Bois has unjustly disseized Nigel of five hides of land, notoriously forming part of the inheritance of his predecessor, and part of which is still occupied by the concubine of the said Nigel.”
6 Some of the dispossessed Saxons ventured to present themselves before the commissioners of inquiry to set forth their claims; many of these are registered, couched in terms of humble supplication that no Norman employed. These men declared themselves poor and miserable; they appealed to the clemency and compassion of the king.1 Those who, by the most abject servility, succeeded in preserving some slight portion of their paternal inheritance, were obliged to pay for this favour with degrading or fantastic services, or received it under the no less humiliating title of alms. Sons are inscribed in the roll as holding the property of their fathers by alms.2 Free women retain their field as alms.3 One woman preserves her husband’s land on condition of feeding the king’s dogs.4 A mother and her son receive their own property in gift, on condition of each day saying prayers for the soul of Richard, the king’s son.5
This Richard, son of William the Conqueror, died in 1081, crushed by his horse against a tree in the New Forest.6 This was a space of thirty miles, newly planted with trees, between Salisbury and the sea. This district, before being converted into wood land, contained more than sixty parishes, which the conqueror broke up, and whose inhabitants he expelled.7 It is not known whether the reason for this singular proceeding was purely politic, and whether William’s special object was to provide a secure place of debarkation for his succours from Normandy, a place where they would encounter no Saxon enemy; or whether, as most of the ancient historians say, he merely designed to satisfy his passion and that of his sons for the chase. It is to this inordinate passion that are also attributed the strange and cruel regulations he made respecting the carrying arms in the forests of England; but there is reason to suppose that these regulations had a graver motive, and that they were directed against the English, who, under the pretext of hunting, might meet in arms for political purposes. “He ordered,” says a contemporary chronicle, “that whoever should kill a stag or a hind should have his eyes picked out; the protection given to stags extended also to wild boars; and he even made statutes to secure hares from all danger. This king loved wild beasts as though he had been their father.”1 These laws, rigorously enforced against the Saxons, greatly increased their misery; for many of them had no means of subsistence but the chase. “The poor murmured,” adds the chronicle just cited, “but he made no account of their ill will, and they were fain to obey under pain of death.”2
William comprised within his royal demesne all the great forests of England, formidable places to the conquerors, the asylum of their last adversaries. These laws, which the Saxon historians ridicule as laws to protect the life of hares,3 were a powerful protection to the life of the Normans; and, in order that their execution might be the better assured, hunting in the royal forests became a privilege, the concession of which appertained to the king alone, who could at will grant and interdict it. Many high personages of Norman race, more alive to their own convenience than to the interests of the conquest, were indignant at this exclusive law.4 But so long as the spirit of nationality remained among the conquered, this objection of the Normans did not prevail against the will of their kings. Sustained by the instinct of political necessity, the sons of William preserved, as exclusively as he had done, the privilege of the chase; and it was only when this privilege ceased to be necessary, that their successors found themselves constrained, however unwillingly, to surrender it.5
Then, that is to say, in the thirteenth century, the parks of the Norman proprietors were no longer included within the royal forests, and the lord of each domain obtained the free enjoyment of his woods; his dogs were no longer subjected to mutilation of limbs,6 and the royal foresters, verderers, or viewers, no longer prowled incessantly round his house to surprise him in some offence against the forest laws, and to make him pay a heavy fine. On the contrary, the royal law for the preservation of game, great and small, was extended in favour of the descendants of the rich Normans, enabling them to have game-keepers of their own to kill with impunity the poor Englishman who might be detected laying wait for deer or hares.1 At a later period, the poor man himself, the descendant of the Saxons, having ceased to be formidable to the rich heirs of the other race, was only punished, when he dared to hunt, with a year’s imprisonment, and the providing responsible bail to answer for his not committing any such crime for the future, “in parks, or forests, or warrens, or fish-ponds, or anywhere, against the peace of our lord the king.”2
The last peculiarity that we shall cite, as exhibited by the great register of the Norman conquest, is that we find there the proof that king William established as a general law, that every title to property anterior to his invasion, and every act of transfer or transmission of property made by a man of English race posterior to the invasion, was null and void, unless he himself had formally ratified it. In the first terror caused by the conquest, some Englishmen had made over part of their lands to churches, either in actual gift, for the good of their souls and bodies, or in feigned gift, to secure that portion to their sons, should the domains of the saints of England be respected by the Normans. This precaution was futile, and when the churches could not produce written proof that the king had confirmed the gift, or, in other words, that he himself had made it, the land was seized to his account.3 Such was the case with the domain of Ailrik, who, before departing for the war against the Saxons, had assigned his manor to the convent of St. Peter, in Essex; and it was so with the estate of one Edrik, made over before the conquest to the monastery of Abingdon.4
This law was more than once put in force, and all title to property whatsoever utterly effaced and annihilated for the sons of the Anglo-Saxons. This fact is attested by the Norman Richard Lenoir, bishop of Ely about the middle of the twelfth century. He relates that the English, daily dispossessed by their lords, addressed great complaints to the king, saying that the ill treatment they had to undergo from the other race, and the hatred exhibited towards them by it, left them no resource but to abandon the country.1 After long deliberation, the kings and their council decided that in future all that a man of English race obtained from the lords, as payment for personal services, or as the result of a legal agreement, should be irrevocably secured to him, but on condition that he should renounce all right founded upon anterior possession.2 “This decision,” adds the bishop of Ely, “was sage and beneficial; and it obliged the sons of the conquered to seek the good graces of their lords by submission, obedience, and devotion. So that now no Englishman possessing lands or houses or other property, is proprietor thereof by title of inheritance or paternal succession, but only in virtue of a donation made to him in recompence for his loyal services.”3
It was in the year 1086 that the compilation of the Great Roll of the Normans—the Book of Judgment of the Saxons—was finished; and in the same year there was a great convocation of all the conquering chiefs, laymen and priests. In this council were discussed the various claims registered in the roll of inquest, and the discussion did not terminate without quarrels between the king and his barons; there were grave conferences between them, says a contemporary chronicle, upon the important distinction as to what ought to be definitively regarded as legitimate in the occupations under the conquest.4 Most of the individual invasions were ratified; but as some exceptions were made, there was a discontented minority among the conquerors. Several barons and knights renounced their homage, quitted William and England, and, crossing the Tweed, went to offer to Malcolm, king of Scotland, the service of their horses and their arms.1 Malcolm received them favourably, as, before them, he had received the emigrant Saxons; and distributed among them portions of land, for which they became his liege-men, his soldiers towards and against all. Thus Scotland received an accession of population entirely different from those which had hitherto mingled together there. The Normans, united by a common exile and a common hospitality with the English who had but lately fled before them, became, under a new banner, their companions and brothers-in-arms. Equality reigned beyond the Tweed between two races of men who, on the other side of the same river, were of so different a condition; a fusion rapidly took place of manners and even of language, and the recollection of diversity of origin did not sever their sons, because there was mingled with it no recollection of foreign insult or oppression.
While the conquerors were thus occupied in regulating their internal affairs, they were suddenly disturbed by an alarm from without. The report spread that a thousand Danish vessels, sixty Norwegian vessels, and an hundred vessels from Flanders, furnished by Robert de Frison, the new duke of that country and an enemy of the Normans, were assembling in the gulf of Lymfiord, for the purpose of making a descent upon England and delivering the Anglo-Saxon people.2 The kings of Denmark, who, for twenty years past, had successively encouraged and betrayed the hopes of this people, could not, it would seem, resolve entirely to abandon them. The insurrection which, in 1080, caused the death of the bishop of Durham, appears to have been encouraged by the expectation of a descent of the northmen; for we find these words in the official despatches addressed, at the time, to that bishop: “The Danes are coming: carefully provide your castles with provisions and arms.”3 The Danes did not come, and perhaps the extraordinary precautions recommended to bishop Vaulcher on their account occasioned the failure of the outbreak in which he perished.
But this false alarm was nothing compared with that which spread through England in the year 1085. The great body of the Norman forces was at once marched into the eastern provinces; poets were established on the coasts; cruisers put to sea; the recently erected fortresses were surrounded with additional works, and the walls of the old cities, dismantled by the conquerors, were rebuilt.1 King William published through Gaul the ban he had proclaimed twenty years before, when first about to cross the Channel. He promised pay and reward to every horse or foot soldier, who would enrol in his service. An immense number arrived from all parts. Every country that had furnished invaders to effect the conquest, furnished garrisons to defend it.2 Fresh soldiers were quartered in the towns and villages; and the Norman earls, viscounts, bishops, and abbots were ordered to lodge and support them in proportion to the extent of their respective jurisdictions or domains.3 To meet the expense of this great armament, the king revived the old impost called Dane-gheld, which, prior to its being levied by the Scandinavian conquerors, had been raised for the defence of the country against their invasions. It was re-established at the rate of twelve pence in silver for each acre of land. The Normans upon whom this tax immediately fell, reimbursed themselves out of the pockets of their Anglo-Saxon farmers or serfs, who thus paid to repel the Danes coming to their aid, that which their ancestors had paid to repel them as enemies.4
Bodies of troops overran the north-eastern counties of England, in all directions, to devastate them and render them uninhabitable either by the Danes, if they landed, or by the English, whom they suspected of favouring their landing.5 There remained on the sea coast, within reach of the vessels, neither man, nor beast, nor fruit tree. The Saxon population was necessarily driven inland, and, by way of additional precaution against any communication between that population and the Danes, a royal ban, published by sound of trumpet in all places lying near the sea, ordered the English to assume Norman attire, Norman weapons, and to shave their beards in the Norman fashion.1 This singular order was designed to deprive the Danes of the means of distinguishing the friends whom they came to succour, from the enemies whom they came to fight.2
The fear which inspired these precautions was not without foundation; there was really a numerous fleet, destined for England, at anchor on the coast of Denmark.
Olaf Kyr, king of Norway, son and successor of that Harold who, seeking to conquer England, had obtained but seven feet of land there, now came to aid the nation which had vanquished and killed his father, without, perhaps, heeding the change in the destiny of that people, and thinking that he was going to avenge Harold.3 As to the king of Denmark, Knut the son of Swen, promoter of the war and chief commander of the armament, he understood the revolution effected in England by the Norman conquest, and it was with a full knowledge of the subject that he went to succour the conquered against the conquerors. “He had yielded,” say the Danish historians, “to the supplications of the exiled English, to the messages received from England, and to the pity inspired in his bosom by the miseries of a race of men allied to his own, a race whose chiefs, whose rich men, whose notable personages had been killed or banished, and which found itself reduced to servitude under the foreign race of French, who are also called Romans.”4
These were, in fact, the only two names by which the Norman nation was known in the north of Europe, since the last remains of the Danish language had perished at Rouen and at Bayeux. Though the seigneurs of Normandy might still readily prove their Scandinavian descent, in forgetting the idiom which was the visible sign of that descent, they had lost their title to the family compact which, despite frequent hostilities, the result of transient passions, united the Teutonic populations one with another. But the Anglo-Saxons were still entitled to the benefit of this fraternity of origin; and this, say the chroniclers of his nation, the king of Denmark acknowledged; so that if his enterprise was not wholly free from infusion of views of personal ambition, it was at least ennobled by the sentiment of a duty of humanity and relationship. His fleet was detained in port longer than he had expected, and, meanwhile, emissaries from the Norman king, able and cunning as their master, corrupted with English gold many of the counsellors and captains of the Danes.1
The delay, at first involuntary, was protracted by these intrigues. The men secretly sold to William, and especially the Danish bishops, most of whom allowed themselves to be gained over, repeatedly succeeded in preventing king Knut from putting to sea, by creating all sorts of embarrassments and obstacles. Meantime, the soldiers, tired of a futile encampment, complained and murmured in their tents.2 They demanded not to be thus mocked, and that they should be either sent upon their expedition, or be allowed to return to their homes, their labours, and their commerce. They held meetings, and signified to the king by deputies their resolution to disband, if the order for departure was not given forthwith.3 King Knut attempted to use rigour in order to re-establish discipline. He imprisoned the leaders of the revolt, and sentenced the whole army to pay a fine of so much each man. The general exasperation far from being calmed by these measures, increased to such a degree, that in July, 1086, there was a general mutiny, in which the king was killed by the soldiers:4 this was the signal for a civil war, which spread over all Denmark; and from that time the Danish people, occupied with its own quarrels, forgot the Anglo-Saxons, their servitude, and their wrongs.
This was the last occasion on which the sympathy of the Northern Teutons was exercised in favour of the Teutonic race which inhabited England. By degrees, the English, despairing of their own cause, ceased to recommend themselves and their cause to the remembrance and support of the northern nations. The exiles of the conquest died in foreign lands, and left there children, who, forgetting the country of their ancestors, knew no other than the land which had given them birth.1 Finally, the Danish ambassadors and travellers who visited England, hearing in the houses of the great and wealthy none but the Romane tongue of Normandy, and paying little heed to the language spoken by the traders in their shops, or the neatherds in their yards, imagined that the whole population of the country was Norman, or that the language had changed since the invasion of the Normans.2 Seeing French trouveres in every castle and city constituting the pastime of the higher classes in England, who, in fact, could have supposed that, sixty years before, the scalds of the north had been held in the same favour there?3 England accordingly, from the twelfth century, was regarded by the Scandinavian nations as a country of an absolutely foreign tongue. This opinion became so decided, that, in the Danish and Norwegian law of escheat, the English were classed in the rank of the least favoured nations. In the code bearing the name of king Magnus, under the article of successions, we find the following words: “If men of English race, or others even still greater strangers to us—If Englishmen or other men speaking an idiom bearing no resemblance to our own. . . .”4 This want of resemblance could not mean mere diversity of dialects; for, even in the present day, the brogue of the northern provinces of England is to a certain extent intelligible to a Dane or Norwegian.5
About the close of the year 1086, there was a general meeting of all the conquerors and sons of the conquerors, at Salisbury, or, according to some writers, at Winchester. Each person of dignity, layman or priest, came at the head of his men-at-arms and the feudatories of his domains. There were present sixty thousand men, all possessors of at least a portion of land sufficient to maintain a horse, or provide a complete suit of armour.1 They renewed in succession their oath of faith and homage to king William, touching his hands and pronouncing this form: “I become your man from this day forth for life, for limb, and for worldly honour, and unto you shall be true and faithful, and bear you forth for the land that I hold of you, so help me God.”
The armed colony then separated, and it was probably then that the royal herald published, in his name, the following ordinances:2
“We will and order that the earls, barons, knights, sergeants, and all the free men of this kingdom, be and hold themselves fitly provided with horses and arms, that they may be ready at all times to do us the lawful service they owe us for their domains and holdings.3
“We will that all the free men of this kingdom be leagued and united as sworn brothers-in-arms, to defend, maintain, and guard it to the best of their power.
“We will that all the cities, towns, castles, and hundreds of this kingdom be guarded every night, and that the inhabitants in turn keep watch and ward against all enemies and evil doers.
“We will that all the men brought by us from beyond sea, or who have followed us, shall be, throughout the kingdom, under our peace and special protection; that if one of them be killed, his lord, within the space of five days, shall seize the murderer; if he fail in so doing, he shall pay us a fine, conjointly with the English of the hundred in which the murder has been committed.
“We will that the free men of this kingdom hold their lands and possessions well and in peace, free from all unjust exaction and all tallage, so that nothing be taken or demanded from them for the free service they owe us and are bound to do us in all perpetuity.
“We will that all shall observe and maintain the law of king Edward with those which we have established, for the benefit of the English and the common weal of the kingdom.”1
This vain word, the law of king Edward, was all that remained for the future to the Anglo-Saxon nation of its ancient existence; for the condition of each individual had been wholly changed by the conquest. From the greatest to the smallest, each conquered man had been brought lower than his former position: the chief had lost his power, the rich man his wealth, the free man his independence; and he, whom the hard custom of the period had made to be born a slave in the house of another, became the serf of a stranger, no longer enjoying the greater or less consideration which the habit of living together and the community of language had procured for him on the part of his former master.2
The English towns and villages were unceremoniously farmed out by the Norman earls and viscounts, to men who then worked them for their own profit, and as though they were their own property.3 “He let out to the highest bidder,” say the chronicles, “his towns and his manors; if there came a bidder who offered more, he let the farm to him; if a third arrived, who offered a still higher price, it was to the third that he adjudged it.4 He gave it to the highest bidder, quite regardless of the enormous crimes which the farmers committed in levying taxes upon the poor people. He and his barons were avaricious to excess, and capable of doing anything by which they could gain money.”5
William, for his share of the conquest, had nearly fifteen hundred manors: he was king of England, supreme and irremovable chief of the conquerors of the country; and yet he was not happy. In the sumptuous courts he held thrice a year, the crown on his head, at London, Winchester, or Gloucester, when his companions in victory, and the prelates whom he had instituted, were ranged around him, his countenance was sad and stern; he appeared uneasy and full of care, and the possibility of a change of fortune haunted his mind.1 He doubted the fidelity of his Normans, and the submission of the English. He tormented himself as to his future career, and the fate of his children; and consulted, respecting his forebodings, certain men renowned as sages, in this period when divination was a part of wisdom. An Anglo-Norman poet of the twelfth century represents him seated in the midst of his bishops of England and Normandy, and soliciting them, with childish earnestness, to throw some light upon the fate of his posterity.2
After having subjected the variable and turbulent results of the conquest to something like regular if not legitimate order, William quitted England for the third time, and crossed the Channel, loaded, say the old historians, with innumerable maledictions.3 He crossed it, never again to return: for death, as we shall soon see, kept him on the opposite shore. Among the laws and ordinances that he left behind him, two only are worthy of being mentioned as relating specially to the preservation of the rule established by the conquest.4 The first of these two laws, which is merely the accomplishment of a proclamation already cited (if the proclamation itself be not another version of it), had for its object to repress the assassinations committed on the members of the victorious nation; it was couched in these terms: “When a Frenchman is killed, or found dead in any hundred, the men of the hundred shall apprehend the murderer and bring him to justice within eight days; or, in default of this, shall pay a fine of forty-seven silver marks5 as murdrum.”
An Anglo-Norman writer of the twelfth century explains the grounds of this law in the following terms: “In the first years of the new order of things, those of the English who were allowed to live, spread a thousand snares for the Normans,1 assassinating all those whom they met alone in desert or bye places. To suppress these assassinations, king William and his barons for some years employed punishment and exquisite tortures against the subjected people;2 but these chastisements producing little effect, it was decreed that every district or hundred, as the English call it, in which a Norman should be found dead, without any one there being suspected of the assassination, should nevertheless pay a large sum of money to the royal treasury. The salutary fear of this punishment, inflicted on all the inhabitants in a body, would, it was thought, procure safety for travellers, by inducing the men of each district to denounee and deliver up the culprit, whose single fault would otherwise cause an enormous loss to the whole place.”3
To avoid this loss, the men of an hundred in which a Frenchman—that is to say, a Norman by birth, or an auxiliary of the Norman army—was found dead, hastened carefully to destroy every external indication capable of proving that the body was that of a Frenchman, for then the hundred was not responsible, and the judge did not pursue an inquiry. But these judges soon detected the trick, and frustrated it by a regulation equally singular. Every man found assassinated was deemed a Frenchman unless the hundred could judicially prove that he was a Saxon by birth, which had to be proved before the royal judge by the oaths of two men, near relations of the deceased on the father’s side, and two women on the mother’s.4 Without these four witnesses, the quality of Englishman, Englisherie, as the Normans called it, was not sufficiently proved, and the hundred had to pay the fine.5 Nearly three centuries after the invasion, if we may believe the antiquaries, this inquest was still held in England on the body of every assassinated man; and, in the legal language of the time, it was called presentment of Englisherie.1
The other law of the Conqueror to which we have referred was designed to increase in an exorbitant manner the authority of the bishops of England. These bishops were all Normans: it was deemed just and necessary that their power should be wholly exercised for the advantage of the conquest; and as the warriors who had effected this conquest maintained it with sword and lance, so the churchmen were called upon to maintain it by political address and religious influence. With these motives of public utility was combined another, more personal with regard to king William; it was, that the bishops of England, although installed by the common counsel of all the Norman barons and knights, had been selected from among the chaplains, the creatures, or the intimate friends of the king.2 No intrigue, during the life of William, ever disturbed this arrangement; never did he create a bishop who had any other will than his. The position of things changed, it is true, under the kings his successors; but the Conqueror could not foresee the future, and the experience of his whole reign justified him when he made the following law:—
“William, by the grace of God, king of England, to the earls, viscounts, and all the men of England, French and English, greeting. Know, you and all my other faithful subjects, that by the common counsel of the archbishops, bishops, abbots, and lords of my kingdom, I have thought fit to reform the episcopal laws, which unfitly and contrary to all the canons have been, up to the time of my conquest, in force in this country.3 I order that, for henceforth, no bishop or archdeacon shall attend the courts of justice, to hold pleads of episcopal causes, or shall submit to the judgment of secular men causes which relate to the government of the soul. I will that whosoever is summoned for any cause whatever to appear before the episcopal justice seat, shall go to the house of the bishop, or to some place which the bishop shall himself have chosen and named; let him there plead his cause, and do right before God and the bishop; not according to the law of the country, but according to the canons and episcopal decrees.1 If any one, through excess of pride, refuse to appear before the tribunal of the bishop, he shall be summoned once, twice, thrice; and if, after these three consecutive summonings, he does not appear, he shall be excommunicated, and, if necessary, the power and justice of the king and the viscount shall be employed against him.”2
It was in virtue of this law that was effected in England the separation of the civil and ecclesiastical tribunals, which established for the latter an absolute independence of all political power, an independence which they had never possessed in the time of Anglo-Saxon nationality. At that period, the bishops were obliged to attend the court of justice, which was held twice a year in each province and three times a year in each district; they added their accusations to those of the ordinary magistrates, and judged conjointly with them and the free men of the district the cases in which the custom of the age permitted them to interfere, those of widows, orphans, and churchmen, of divorce and marriage. For these cases, as for all others, there was but one law, one justice, and one tribunal. The only difference was that, when they were tried, the bishop seated himself beside the sheriff and the alderman, or elder of the province; and then, according to usage, sworn witnesses testified as to the facts, and the judges determined the law.3 The change in these national customs dates only from the Norman conquest. It was the Conqueror who, bursting through the ancient rules of civil equality, gave power to the high clergy of England to hold courts in their own palaces, and to employ the public power in enforcing the attendance of the contumacious; he thus subjected the royal power to the obligation of executing the decrees rendered by the ecclesiastical power, in virtue of a legislation which was not that of the country. William imposed this obligation on his successors, knowingly and purposely, from policy and not from devotion or from fear of his bishops, who were all devoted to him.1 Nor had the fear of pope Gregory VII. any influence upon this determination. For, notwithstanding the services which the court of Rome had formerly rendered him, the king was ever prepared with a stern denial when the pontiff’s demands were not agreeable to him. The tone of one of his letters to Gregory shows with what freedom of thought he considered the pontifical pretensions and his own engagements towards the Roman church. The pope had to complain of some delay in the payment of the Peter’s pence stipulated in the treaty of alliance concluded at Rome in the year 1066; he wrote to remind William of this stipulation, and the money was immediately sent. But this was not all; in raising the banner of the holy see against the English, the Conqueror seemed to have acknowledged himself vassal of the church, and Gregory, availing himself of this circumstance, did not hesitate to summon him to do homage for his conquest, and to swear the oath of fealty and vassalage between the hands of a cardinal. William answered in these terms: “Thy legate has required me, on thy part, to send money to the Roman church, and to swear fealty to thee and thy successors; I have admitted the first of these demands; as to the second, I neither have nor will admit it. I will not swear fealty to thee, because I have not promised it, and because none of my predecessors have sworn fealty to thine.”2
In concluding the narrative of the events just related, the chroniclers of English race give way to touching regrets as to the miseries of their nation. “There is no doubt,” exclaim some of them, “that God will no longer permit us to be a nation, or to possess honour and security.”3 Others complain that the name of Englishman has become an opprobrium;4 and it is not only from the pens of contemporaries that such complaints proceed; the remembrance of a great misfortune and of a great national shame is reproduced, century after century, in the writings of the sons of the Saxons, although more faintly as time advances.1 In the fifteenth century, the distinction of ranks in England was still attached to the conquest; and a monastic historian, not to be suspected of revolutionary theories, wrote these remarkable words: “If there be amongst us such a distance between the various conditions, one must not be astonished at it; it is because there is diversity of race; and if there be so little mutual confidence and affection among us, it is because we are not of the same blood.”2 Lastly, an author who lived in the beginning of the seventeenth century, recals the Norman Conquest in these words: the “memorie of sorrowe,” and uses touching expressions in speaking of the families then disinherited, and since fallen into the class of the poor, of labourers and peasants;3 it is the last glance of regret thrown back on the past, upon the event which had brought into England kings, nobles, and chieftains of foreign race.
If, retracing in his own mind the facts he has read, the reader would form to himself a just idea of what was the England conquered by William of Normandy, he must represent to himself, not a mere change of government, nor the triumph of one competitor over another, but the intrusion of a whole people into the bosom of another people, broken up by the former, and the scattered fragments of which were only admitted into the new social order as personal property, as clothing of the earth, to speak the language of the ancient acts.4 We must not place on one side, William, king and despot, and on the other, subjects high or low, rich or poor, all inhabitants of England, and consequently all English; we must imagine two nations, the English by origin and the English by invasion, divided on the surface of the same country; or rather imagine two countries in a far different condition: the land of the Normans, rich and free from taxes, that of the Saxons, poor, dependent, and oppressed with burdens; the first adorned with vast mansions, with walled and embattled castles; the second, sprinkled with thatched cabins or half ruined huts; that peopled with happy, idle people, warriors and courtiers, nobles and knights; this inhabited by men of toil and sorrow, farm labourers and mechanics; on the one side, luxury and insolence; upon the other, misery and envy, not the envy of the poor at sight of the riches of others, but the envy of the despoiled in the presence of their spoilers.
Lastly, to complete the picture, these two countries in a manner are entwined one in the other; they touch each other at every point, and yet they are more distinct than if the sea rolled between them. Each has its separate idiom, an idiom foreign to the other; the French is the language of the court, of the castles, of the rich abbeys, of all the places where power and luxury reign: the ancient language of the land is confined to the hearth of the poor, of the serf. Long, from generation to generation, did these two idioms continue to subsist without mixing with each other, remaining the one the token of nobility, the other the token of base estate. This is expressed with a sort of bitterness, in some verses of an old poet, who complains that England in his time offers the strange spectacle of a country abnegating its own language.
[1 ] Order. Vital., lib. iv. p. 545.
[1 ] Order. Vital., lib. iv. p. 545.
[2 ] Id. p. 546.
[1 ] Order. Vital., lib. iv. p. 571.
[2 ] Id. 572.
[1 ] Order. Vital., lib. iv. p. 572.
[2 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 184.
[3 ] Order. Vital., p. 573.
[4 ] Matth. Paris, i. 10.
[5 ] Hist. Episcop. Dunelm.; Anglia Sacra, i. 703.
[1 ] Willelm. Malmesb., de Gestis, &c., p. 277.
[2 ] Matth. Paris, i. 10. Hist. Episcop. Dunelm., p. 703.
[3 ]Ib. p. 704.
[4 ]Ib. 703. Willelm. Malmesb., de Gest., &c., p. 110.
[5 ] Matth. Paris, i. 10. Chron. Saxon., p. 184.
[6 ] Florent. Wigorn. Chron., p. 639.
[7 ] Matth. Paris, i. 10.
[8 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 184.
[1 ] Florent. Wigorn. Chron., p. 640.
[2 ] Simeon Dunelm., Hist. Dunelm. Ecclesiæ, lib. iii. apud Histor. Angl. Script., (Selden) i. col. 48.
[5 ] Willelm. Malmesb., de Gestis Pontif. &c., p. 277.
[6 ] Id. de Gest. reg. Angl. p. 103.
[1 ] Willelm. Malmesb., de Gestis Pontiff, &c., p. 458.
[3 ] The Normans sometimes used the term utlages, sometimes that of forestiers.
[4 ] See the ballads of Robin Hood, Adam Bell, &c., passim.
[5 ] Willelm. Gemet., p. 282.
[1 ] Orderic. Vital., lib. iii. p. 646.
[2 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] Annales de Margan, apud rer. Anglic. Hist., (Gale) ii. 3.
[2 ] Monasterium Glastoniæ...semper post adventum Normannorum pessimis est infractum laboribus...Abbates enim, rerum gloria elati, non religiosos sed tirannos agunt, foris tumidi...intus crudeles et incommdi. (Adamus de Domeram, ed Hearne, p. 113.)
[3 ] Monachos in victualibus miserabiliter tractare, hinc lites verborumi animorum discordiæ qua, ut ait Lucanus, nescit plebes jejuna timere. (Willelm. Malmesb., de Gestis Pont. &c., lib. ii. ut sup. 254.)
[1 ] Id. De Antiquit. Glaston. Eccles., apud rer. Anglic Script., (Gale) iii. 331.
[2 ] Chron. Sax., p. 184. Willelm. Malmesb., loco citat.
[3 ] Willelm. Malmesb., De Gestis Regum, &c., lib. iii. ut sup. p. 110.
[4 ] H. Knyghton, lib. ii. ut sup. col. 2352.
[5 ] De altari in gradus et de gradibus in aream. (Sax. Chron., p. 185.)
[6 ] Order. Vital., lib. iv. ut sup. p. 524.
[1 ] Thom. Rudborne, Hist. Major. Winton; Anglia Sacra, i. 257.
[2 ] Matth. Paris, i. 11.
[3 ] Richardus de Rulos...multum agriculturæ deditus, ac in jumentorum et pecorum multitudine plurimum delectatus. (Ingulf., i. p. 77.)
[1 ] Quomodo incoleretur et à quibus hominibus. (Chron. Sax., Gibson, p. 186.)
[2 ] Florent. Wigorn., p. 229. Rudborne, ut sup. p. 257.
[3 ] Poeme sur la conquête de la Morée, trad par M. Buchon d’un MS. de la Bibliothèque Royale.
[4 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 186.
[1 ] Ex Anonym. MSS., apud Selden, præf. ad Eadmeri Hist. nov., p. 15.
[3 ]Ib. 16.
[4 ] Domesday Book, passim.
[5 ] Ex Anonym. MSS., ut sup. p. 15.
[6 ] Anno millesimo octogesimo sexto ab incarnatione Domini, vigesime quinto regni Willelmi facta est ista descriptio. (Domesday B., ii. 450.)
[1 ] Liber niger de Scaccario, apud Gloss. Spelmani, verbo Domesday.
[2 ] Thani regis. (Domesday B.,passim.)
[3 ] Venatores, accipitrarii, ostiarii, pistores.
[4 ] Nicolaus balistarius.
[5 ]Rotulus regis, rotulus Vintoniæ, and liber Vintoniæ. (Spelman, Gloss. verbo Domesday.) Magnus liber...habitus in thesauro ecclesiæ cathedralis Wintoniæ. (Rudborne, ut sup. i. p. 257.)
[1 ] Vocatus Domysday...quia nulli parcit sicut nec magnus dies judicii. (Ib.)
[“Some have imagined that the word signified literally the lord’s dvertisement to his tenants, from dom (dominus), a lord, and deia, an advertisement. The most natural conjecture, however, is that by the day of judging, is to be understood the work of judicially determining. The Domboc of the Saxons was rendered in Latin by liber judicialis, and Domesday Book is also commonly rendered liber judicialis or censualis, and sometimes Magna rolla Winton.” Crabb, Hist. of English Law.]
[2 ] Breve sigillum, liberatio, saisitio. (Domesday B., passim.)
[3 ] Quod pertinebant tempore Edwardi regis ad faganaham mansi regis. (D. B., ii. 172.)
[4 ] Grafham dicunt socam regis fuisse et esse, nec brevem, nec saisitorem vidisse qui liberasset eam Eustaĉhio. (D. B., i. fol. 208, recto.) Rex Edwardus habuit XV. acras...Milo Crispen. tenet eas nesciunt quomodo. (Ib. fol. 56, recto.)
[5 ]Ib. ii. p. 25.
[1 ] Rationare, derationare, reddere rationem. (D. B., passim.)
[2 ] Consuetudo, custuma, custumarii, coustumes, customs.
[3 ] D. B., i. fol. 2, recto; Ib. ii. p. 2, et seq.
[4 ] D. B., i. 216.
[1 ] Burgenses regis. (Ib. ii. 104.)
[2 ] Omnes isti sunt liberi homines Rogerii Bigot, et Normannus tenet eos de eo. (Ib. p. 341.)
[3 ] Istos liberos homines calumpniatur Roger de Ramis. (D. B., ii. 337.) Invasit Hugo de Corbun, sub Rogerio Bigot medietatem unius liberi hominis. (Ib. 278.)
[4 ] Habet Normannus II. burgenses, unum in vadimonio contra eundem, et alterum pro debito. (Ib. 438.)
[5 ] Hanc terram tenuit Avigi, et potuit dare cui voluit. T. R. E. hanc ei postea W. rex concessit, et per suum brevem Radulfo Tallebose commodavit, ut eum servaret quamdiu viveret. (Ib. i. 211.)
[6 ] Invasiones.
[7 ] ...sine breve regis dessaisivit. &c. (Ib.)
[8 ]Ib. i. 44.
[1 ] Hanc clamant...per antecessorem...cujus terras omnes W. rex sibi donavit. (Ib. folio 215.)
[2 ] De hoc suum testimonium adduxit de—antiquis hominibus totius comitatus. (Ib. p. 44.)
[3 ] Testimonium de villanis et vili plebe. (Ib.)
[4 ] Judicium per regem in curia regis; judicio, seu bello, seu duello. (Ib. passim.)
[5 ] Invasit, injuste saisivit, injuste dissaisivit, injuste occupavit. (Ib. passim.)
[6 ] D. B., i. fol. 214.
[1 ] D. B., i. fol. 203.
[2 ] ...in elemosina concessit. (Ib. fol. 218.)
[3 ]Ib. fol. 63.
[4 ] ...feminæ Godrici in dono, eo quod nutriebat canes suos. (Ib. fol. 57.)
[5 ]Ib. fol. 141.
[6 ]Nove Forest. Vide Spelman, Glossar. verbo foresta.
[7 ] ...et silvestres feras pro hominibus ibidem constituit. (Order. Vital., lib. x. p. 781.)
[1 ] Thom. Rudborne, ut sup. 258. Sua swithe he lufode tha headeor swylce he wære heora fader. (Saxon. Chron., p. 191.)
[2 ] Chron. Sax., p. 191.
[3 ] Item statuit de leporibus ut periculo immunes essent. (Ib.)
[5 ] Blackstone’s Commentaries, ii. 415.
[6 ] Ne amplius expeditentur. (Charta Henrici iii.)
[1 ] Si fugit et occidatur malefactor, non obtinebit jus nec appellum. (Additamenta ad Matth. Paris, i. 156.)
[3 ] Nortunam tenuit Godid quædam fæmina T. R. E....hanc terram dedi....Sancto-Paulo, postquam rex venit in Angliam, sed non ostendit brevem nec concessum regis. (D. B., ii. 13.)
[4 ] ...Edricus, qui eum tenebat, deliberavit illum filio suo qui erat in Abendone monachus, ut ad firmam illud teneret. (Ib. i. 59.)
[1 ] Cum dominis suis odiosi passim pellerentur, nec esset qui ablata restitueret...exosi et rebus spoliati, ad aliegenas transire cogerentur. (Dialog. de Scaccario, in notis ad Matth. Paris, i. ad initium.)
[4 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 186.
[1 ] Ellis’s Metrical Romances, vol. i., introduction, p. 125.
[2 ] ...ut gentem nobilissimam pristinæ libertati restitueret. (Hist. S. Canuti regis, apud Script. rer. Danic., iii. 348.) Order. Vital., lib. vii. p. 649. Florent. Wigorn., Chron., p. 641.
[3 ] Lanfranci, Opera, p. 314.
[1 ] Hist. S. Canuti, ut sup.
[2 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 186.
[3 ]Ib.—Florent. Wigorn., p. 641.
[4 ] Wilkins, Concilia Magnæ-Britann., i. 312.
[5 ] Chron. Saxon., ut sup.
[1 ] . . . ad instar Romanorum . . . per omnia Francigenis, quos et Romanos dici prætuiimus, assimilare præcipit. (Hist. S. Canuti, ut sup. p. 350.)
[3 ] Saga af Olafe Kyrra, cap. vin.; Snorre’s Heimskringla iii. 185.
[4 ] Hist. S. Canuti, ut sup. p. 347.
[1 ] Hist. S. Canuti, ut sup. p. 351. Torfæus, Hist. rer. Norveg., lib. vi. p. 393.
[2 ] Hist. S. Canuti, ut sup.
[4 ]Ib. p. 352, et seq.
[1 ] Pontanus, Rer. Danic. Hist., lib. v. p. 197.
[2 ] Lingua vero in Anglia mutata est, ubi Wilhelmus Nothus Angliam subegit; ex eo enim tempore in Anglia invaluit lingua Francico—Normannica (Walkska). Saga af Gunnlaugi, cap. vii. (Hafniæ, 1775) p. 87.
[3 ] Gunnlaugus (islandensis) . . . ad regem (Ethelredum) accessit. . . “Carmen heroicum de te composui cui vellem audiendo vacares.” Rex ita fore annuit, unde Gunnlaugus . . . recitavit . . . Eadem tum Angliæ quæ (Daniæ et.) Norwegiæ fuit lingua. (Ib.)
[4 ] Codex juris Islandorum dictus Gragas. T. de hæred., cap. vi. and xviii.; dissert. de linguâ danicâ, apud Saga af Gunnlaugi, p. 247.
[5 ] The principal, indeed almost the sole differenoe, difference, arises from the French words, which have been introduced into it in great numbers.
[1 ] Saxon Chron., p. 187. Matth. Westmon., p. 229.
[2 ] Order. Vital., lib. vii. p. 649.
[3 ] Selden, not. ad Eadmeri Hist. p. 190.
[1 ] Selden, not. ad Eadmeri, Hist., p. 191.
[2 ] Et jus libertatis est apreptum, et jus mancipii coangustatum.(Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, apud Hickes, Thesaur. linguar. Septent., ii. 100.)
[3 ] He sette hys tounes and hys londes to ferme wel vaste.(Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle, p. 387.)
[4 ] Chron. Sax., p. 188.
[5 ] Annales Waverleienses, ut sup. p. 134.
[1 ] Chron. Saxon., p. 190. Eadmer, p. 13.
[2 ] Continuation du Brut de Wace, par un anonyme; ap. Chroniques Anglo-Normandes, i. 80—94.
[3 ] Thomas Rudborne, ut sup. p. 258.
[4 ] Eadmer, p. 6.
[5 ] Leges Willelm. Conquest.; Ingulf., p. 90. [This was the revival of a law made by king Knut, who, to prevent the secret killing of the Danes, enacted that if any one was killed and the slayer escaped, the person killed should be taken to be a Dane, unless proved to be English by his friends and relations; on failure of such proof, the vill had to pay a murdrum, or fine, of forty marks.]
[1 ] Dialogo de Scaccario, in notis ad Matth. Paris, i. ad init.
[2 ] Id. ib.
[3 ] Id. ib.
[4 ]Fleta, seu Commentarius juris Anglicani, lib. i. cap. xxx. p. 46. edit. of London, 1685.
[5 ] Spelman., Glossar. verbo Englecheria; the Normans sometimes pronounced Anglez, Anglech, Englez, englech; anglezerie, anglecherie.
[1 ] The law was not abolished till the reign of Edw. III. (in 1341.)
[2 ] Anglia Sacra, and Wilkins, Concilia, passim.
[3 ] Selden, not. ad Eadmer, p. 167. Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., iii. 308.
[1 ] Iidem, ib.
[2 ] Charta Willelm. i., apud Wilkins, Concilia, i. 369.
[3 ] Hæbbe man thriwa on gear burhgemote and twa scyregemote; and thær scyregemote bisceop and se ealdorman, and thær œgter tæcon ge godes rihte ge woruldes rihte. (Leges Edgari regis, cap. v. Selden, notæ ad Eadmeri Hist., p. 166.)
[1 ] Curialis nimis et aulicus...pro famulatu suo...stipendiarii...(Matth. Paris, Vitæ Abbat. S. Albani, i. 47.) Order. Vital., passim.
[2 ] Selden, notæ ad Eadmeri Hist., p. 164.
[3 ] Salutem et honorem genti Anglorum...abstulerit, et jam populum non esse jusserit. (Joh. Bromton, ut sup. p. 984.) Matth. Westm., Flores Hist., p. 229.
[4 ] Matth. Paris, i. 12.
[2 ] Henric. Knyghton, ut sup. col. 2343.
[3 ] “By which greate violence, suddain and lamentable desolation, it may wel have come to passe that many beeing anciently of the races and descents of meny worthy families, yea, even of princes, have since become poor artificers and pesants.” (Verstegan, A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities, p. 178; edit. of 1605, 4to.)
[4 ] Vestura, fructus quilibet agro hærentes. (Ducange, Glossar. verbo Vestura. Spelman, Gloss. verbo Accola.)
[1 ] Robert of Gloucester, Chronicle, p. 364.