Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK VIII.: FROM THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD TO THE INSURRECTION OF THE POITEVINS AND BRETONS AGAINST HENRY II. 1137—1189. - History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 2
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BOOK VIII.: FROM THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD TO THE INSURRECTION OF THE POITEVINS AND BRETONS AGAINST HENRY II. 1137—1189. - Augustin Thierry, History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 2 
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. 2.
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 BATTLE OF THE STANDARD TO THE INSURRECTION OF THE POITEVINS AND BRETONS AGAINST HENRY II.
Vassalage of the kings of Scotland—Political state of Scotland—Populations of Scotland—Social equality and language of the Scots—Highland and island clans—Hostility of the Scots to the Anglo-Normans—Entry of the Scots into England—Assembling of the Anglo-Norman army—Battle of the Standard—Invasion of the Welsh—Conquests of the Normans in Wales—Bernard de Neuf Marché—Richard d’Eu, called Strongbow—Norman monks and priests in Wales—Norman bishops driven out by the Welsh—Manners and character of the Welsh—Civil war among the Anglo-Normans—Vexations and ravages committed by the Normans—King Stephen besieges Bristol—Attack on the Isle of Ely—Stephen made prisoner—Matilda elected queen of England—Her arrogance—Matilda driven from London by the citizens—Revival of the party of Stephen—Landing of Henry, son of Matilda—Termination of the civil war—Eleanor, duchess of Aquitaine—Marriage of Eleanor with the son of Matilda—State of southern Gaul—Its population—Its social state—Henry II. of England—Expulsion of the Flemings—Mixture of races—Saxon genealogy of Henry II.—War of Henry II. against his brother—War against the Bretons—Submission of Brittany—National insurrection of the Bretons—Their defeat—Insurrection of the Poitevins—Peace between the kings of France and England—Termination of Breton independence—Message of a Welsh chieftain to the king of France—War against the Toulousans—Character of the southern Gauls.
The friendship which, at the period of William’s conquest, had been suddenly formed between the Anglo-Saxon people and that of Scotland, although cooled since by several circumstances, had never been entirely broken. On the day, indeed, when Malcolm Kenmore, king Edgar’s brother-in-law, was constrained to confess himself the vassal of the Conqueror, a kind of moral barrier was raised between the Scottish kings and the English by race; but Malcolm himself and his successors ill endured this condition of vassalage that force had imposed on them. More than once, seeking to throw it off, they became aggressors of the Anglo-Normans by way of reprisal, and marched south of the Tweed; more than once, also, the Normans passed that river, and the oath of feudal subjection was, by turns, broken and renewed, according to the chances of war. Besides, the kings of Scotland never reckoned among the duties they had contracted in accepting the title of liegemen, the obligation to close their country against the Anglo-Saxon emigrants.
The multitude of men of all ranks and conditions who, after a futile struggle against the invaders, expatriated themselves to Scotland, considerably augmented there the previous mass of Germanic population established between the Tweed and the Forth. The kings who succeeded Malcolm were not less generous than he to these refugees; they gave them lands and offices, and admitted them into their state-council, where gradually the true Scottish language, the Gaelic or Erse, was supplanted by the Anglo-Danish dialect, spoken in the lowlands of Scotland. By the same revolution, the Scottish kings discarded the patronymic surnames which recalled to mind their Celtic origin, and only retained simple proper names, Saxon or foreign, as Edgar, Alexander, David, &c.
The hospitality which the chiefs of Scotland accorded to the men of Saxon race flying from the Normans, was, as we have already seen, offered by them also to men of Norman race, discontented with the share which had fallen to them in the division of the conquest, or banished from England by the sentence of their own chiefs. These sons of the conquerors came, in great numbers, to seek fortune where the conquered had found refuge. Most of them were tried soldiers; the Scottish kings took them into their service, delighted to have Norman knights to oppose to the Normans beyond the Tweed. They received them into their intimacy, confided high commands to them, and even, to render their court more agreeable to these new guests, studied to introduce into the Teutonic language spoken there, many French words and idioms.1 Fashion and custom gradually naturalized these exotic terms throughout the country south of the Forth, and in a short time the national language became there a singular medley of Teutonic and French, in about equal proportions.
This language, which is still the popular dialect of the inhabitants of southern Scotland, retained but very few Celtic words, Erse or Breton, most of them expressing features peculiar to the country, such as the various accidents of an extremely various soil. But, notwithstanding the little figure made by the remains of the ancient idiom of the Scottish plains in the new language, it was easy to see, in the spirit and manners of the population of these districts, that it was a Celtic race, in which other races had mingled without entirely renewing it. Vivacity of imagination, the taste for music and poetry, the custom of strengthening the social bond by ties of relationship, marked out and recognised in the most distant degree, are original features which distinguished then, and still distinguish, the inhabitants of the left bank of the Tweed from their southern neighbours.
Further westward in the plains of Scotland, these features of Celtic physiognomy appeared more strongly impressed, because the people there were more removed from the influence of the royal cities of Scone and Edinburgh, whither the multitude of foreign emigrants flocked. In the county of Galloway, for instance, the administrative authority was, up to the twelfth century, only regarded as a fiction of paternal authority; and no man sent by the king to govern this country could exercise his command in peace, unless he was accepted as head of the family, or chief of the clan, by the people whom he was to rule.2 If the inhabitants did not think fit to assign this title to the king’s officer, or if the old hereditary chief of the tribe did not voluntarily yield him this privilege, the tribe would not recognise him, for all his royal commission, and he himself was soon fain to resign or sell this commission to the chief preferred by the people.1
In the places where the emigrants from England, Saxons or Normans, obtained territorial domains on condition of fealty and service, they built a church, a mill, a brewery, and some houses, for their people, which the Saxons called the hirède, and the Normans la menie. The collection of all these edifices, surrounded by a palisade or a wall, was called l’enclos or the tun, in the language of the lowlands of Scotland. The inhabitants of this inclosure, masters and servants, proprietors and farmers, composed a sort of little city, united like a Celtic clan, but by other ties than relationship, by those of service and pay, obedience and command. The chief, in his square tower, built in the midst of the more humble dwellings of his vassals or labourers, resembled in general appearance the Norman of England, whose fortress dominated the huts of his serfs. But there was a great difference between the real condition of the one and of the other. In Scotland, the subordination of the poor to the rich was not servitude; true, the name of lord, laird, in the Teutonic language, and of sire in the French, was given to the latter, but as he was neither a conqueror, nor the son of a conqueror, he was not hated, and none trembled before him. A sort of familiarity brought more or less nearly together the inhabitant of the tower and the dweller in the cottage; they knew that their ancestors had not bequeathed to them mortal injuries to revenge upon each other.
When war assembled them in arms, they did not form two separate peoples, the one horse, the other foot; the one clothed in complete steel, the other denied spurs under penalty of ignominious punishment. Every man, armed according to his means, in a coat of mail or a quilted doublet, rode his own horse, well or ill-caparisoned. In Scotland, the condition of labourer on the domain of another man, was not humiliating as in England, where the Norman term villain has become, in the vernacular tongue, the most odious of epithets. A Scotch farmer was commonly called the gude-man; his lord could only demand from him the rents and services mutually settled between them; he was not taxed haut et bas, as in a conquered country;1 and accordingly no insurrection of peasants was ever seen in Scotland; the poor and rich sympathized, because poverty and riches were not derived from victory and expropriation. The races of men, like the different idioms, were mingled in every rank, and the same language was spoken in the castle, the town, and the hut.
This language, which, from its resemblance to that of the Anglo-Saxons, was called Anglisc or English, had a very different fate in Scotland and in England; in the latter country, it was the idiom of the serfs, the artizans, the shepherds; the poets, who wrote for the upper classes, composed only in pure Norman; but, north of the Tweed, English was the favourite tongue of the minstrels attached to the court; it was polished, refined, elaborate, graceful, and even distinguished, whilst, on the other side of the same river, it was becoming rude and inelegant, like the unfortunate people who spoke it. The few popular poets who, instead of rhyming in French for the sons of the Normans, continued to rhyme in English for the Saxons, felt this difference, and complained of their inability to employ, under penalty of not being understood, the fine language, the bold flights, and the complex versification of the southern Scots. “I have put,” says one of them, “into my simple English, out of love for simple folk, what others have written and said more elegantly; for it is not to the proud and noble I address myself, but to those who could not understand a more refined English.”2 In this polished English of the lowlands of Scotland were clothed old British traditions, which remained in the memory of the inhabitants of the banks of the Clyde, long after the British language had perished in those districts. In the lowlands of the south-west, Arthur and the other heroes of the Cambrian nation were more popular than the heroes of the ancient Scots, than Gaul-Mac-Morn, and Fin-Mac-Gaul, or Fingal, father of Oshinn, or Ossian,1 sung in the Gaelic language in the highlands and islands.2
The population which spake this language, almost entirely similar to that of the natives of Ireland, was still, in the twelfth century the most numerous in Scotland, but the least powerful, politically, since its own kings had deserted its alliance for that of the inhabitants of the south-east. It knew this, and remembering that the plains occupied by these new comers had been of old the property of its ancestors, it hated them as usurpers, and denied them the name of Scots, under which foreigners confounded them with it, and gave them instead that of Sassenachs, that is to say Saxons, because whatever their origin, all of them spoke the English language. The children of the Gaels long regarded as mere acts of reprisal the incursions of war and pillage made upon the lowlands of Scotland. “We are the heirs of the plains,” said they; “it is just we should resume our own.”3
This national hostility, the effects of which the inhabitants of the plain greatly dreaded, rendered them ever ready to encourage in the kings of Scotland all sorts of arbitrary and tyrannical measures, tending to destroy the independence of the highlanders. But it would seem as though there were in the manners, as in the language of the Celtic populations, a principle of eternity which mocks the efforts of time and of man. The clans of the Gael perpetuated themselves under their patriarch chieftains, whom the members of the clan, all bearing the same name, obeyed as sons obey their father. Every tribe not having a patriarch and not living as one family, was considered base; few incurred this dishonour, and to avoid it, the poets and historians, adepts in genealogies, were always careful to make each new chief descend from the primitive chief, from the common ancestor of the whole tribe.1 In token of this descent, which was never to be interrupted, the reigning chief added to his own name a patronymic surname, which all his predecessors had borne before him, and which his successors were to take after him; and, according to Celtic etiquette, this surname served them in lieu of a title. The feudal style of the public acts of Scotland was never current in the highlands or islands, and the same man, who at the court of the kings entitled himself duke or earl of Argyle, on his return to Argyleshire, in the bosom of his tribe, again became Mac-Callam-More, that is, the son of Callam the great.2
All the tribes spread over the western coast of Scotland from the Mull of Cantyre to the North Cape, and in the Hebrides, which were also called Innis Gail or the islands of the Gael, lived in separate societies under this patriarchal authority; but above all their peculiar chiefs, there was in the twelfth century a supreme chief, who, in the language of the lowlanders, was called the lord or king of the Isles. This king of the whole Gaelic population of Scotland had his residence at Dunstaffnage, upon a rock on the western coast, the ancient abode of the Scottish kings, prior to their emigration to the east; sometimes, also, he inhabited the fortress of Artornish in Mull, or the island of Ilay, the most fertile if not the largest of the Hebrides. Here was held a high court of justice, the members of which sat in a circle, on seats cut out of the rock. Here also was a stone, seven feet square, upon which the king of the Isles stood on the day of his coronation. Erect on this pedestal, he swore to preserve to every one his rights, and to do justice at all times; then, the sword of his predecessor was put into his hands, and the bishop of Argyle and seven priests crowned him in the presence of all the tribes of the Isles and of the mainland.3
The authority of the king of the Hebridean isles extended sometimes over Man, situated more southward, between England and Ireland, and sometimes this island had a king of its own, issue of Irish race, or of the old Scandinavian chiefs who had rested here after their sea excursions. The kings of the western isles acknowledged as their suzerains, sometimes the kings of Scotland and sometimes those of Norway, as self-interest or compulsion dictated.1 The natural aversion of the Gael to the lowland Scots aided to maintain the independence of this purely Gaelic kingdom, which still existed in all its plenitude at the time which this history has now attained, and the king of the Isles treated, on terms of equality, with him of Scotland, his rival in ordinary times, but his natural ally against a common enemy, for example, against the kings of England; for the instinct of national hatred, which had so often impelled the ancient Scots towards southern Britain, had not yet disappeared from among the Scottish highlanders.2
In the lowlands of Scotland, a war against the Anglo-Normans could not fail to be extremely popular; for while the Saxons by origin, who inhabited that country, burned with a desire to revenge their own misfortunes and those of their ancestors, by a singular concurrence of circumstances, the Norman refugees in Scotland themselves yearned to cross swords with their countrymen who had banished them from England.3 The desire to regain the domains they had formerly usurped, not less ardent in them than in the hearts of the Anglo-Saxons was the wish to recover their country and their hereditary property, occasioned, in the council of the kings of Scotland, where the new citizens sat in great numbers, an almost universal vote for war with the conquerors of England. Gael, Saxons, Normans, Highlanders, Lowlanders, though from different motives, all agreed on this point; and it was probably this unanimity, well known by the native English, which encouraged the latter to count on the support of Scotland, in the great conspiracy framed and discovered in the year 1137.
For some time past, emissaries from the English people had come in crowds to the court of the Scottish kings, nephews of the last Anglo-Saxon king, conjuring them, by the memory of their uncle Edgar, to march to the assistance of the oppressed nation to which they were related. But the sons of Malcolm Kenmore were kings, and, as such, little disposed to commit themselves in a national revolt, without powerful motives of personal interest. They remained deaf to the complaints of the English and the suggestions of their own courtiers during the life of Henry I., with whom they had some ties of relationship through his wife, Matilda, daughter of Malcolm. When Henry made the Norman barons swear to give the kingdom, after his death, to his daughter by Matilda, David, then king of Scotland, was present and took the oath as vassal of Henry I.; but when the lords of England, violating their word, instead of Matilda, chose Stephen of Blois, the king of Scotland began to think the cause of the Saxons the best.1 He promised to assist them in their project of exterminating all the Normans, and perhaps, in return for this vague promise, he stipulated, as was rumoured at the time, that he should be made king of England, did the enterprise succeed.
The enfranchisement of the English did not take place, as we have seen above, owing to the vigilance of a bishop. The king of Scotland, however, who had only joined that people because he had, on his side, warlike projects against the Normans, assembled an army and marched towards the south. It was not in the name of the oppressed Saxon race that he entered England, but in the name of Matilda, his cousin, dispossessed, he said, by Stephen of Blois, usurper of the kingdom.2
The English people cared little more for the wife of Geoffroy of Anjou than for Stephen of Blois, and yet the populations nearest the frontiers of Scotland, the men of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and all the valleys whose rivers run to swell the waters of the Tweed, impelled by the simple instinct which leads us to seize with avidity every means of escape, received the Scots as friends and joined them.1 These valleys, of difficult access and scarce subjected by the Normans, were in great measure peopled with Saxons whose fathers had been banished at the time of the Conquest.2 They came to the camp of the Scots in great numbers and without any order, upon little mountain horses, their only property.
In general, with the exception of the cavalry of Norman or French origin, whom the king of Scotland brought with him, and who were clad in complete and uniform mail, the great body of the troops presented a most disorderly variety of arms and attire. The inhabitants of the eastern lowlands, men of Danish or Saxon descent, formed the heavy infantry, armed with cuirasses and strong pikes; the inhabitants of the west, and especially those of Galloway, who still retained a marked impress of their British descent, were, like the ancient Britons, without defensive arms, and carried long javelins, the points of which were sharp, and the wood slender and fragile; lastly, the genuine Scots, highlanders and islanders, wore caps ornamented with the feathers of wild fowl, and large mantles of striped wool, fastened round the waist with a leathern belt, whence hung a long broad-sword; they carried a round shield of light wood, covered with a thick leather, on the left arm; and some of the island tribes used two-handed axes, like the Scandinavians; the equipment of the chiefs was the same as that of the men of the clan; they were distinguished only by their longer feathers, lighter, and floating more gracefully.
The numerous, and for the most part irregular, troops of the king of Scotland, occupied without resistance all the country between the Tweed and the northern limits of the province of York. The Norman kings had not as yet erected in this district the imposing fortresses which they afterwards raised there, and thus no obstacle stayed the progress of the Scottish ants, as an old author calls them.1 It appears that this army committed many cruelties in the places through which it passed; the historians talk of women and priests massacred, of children thrown into the air and caught on the points of lances; but, as they talk with little precision, it is not known whether these excesses fell only upon men of Norman descent, and were the reprisals of the English by race, or whether the native aversion of the Gaelic population for the inhabitants of England was exercised indifferently on the serf and on the master, on the Saxon and on the Norman.2 The northern lords, and especially the archbishop of York, Toustain, profited by the report of these atrocities, spread vaguely, and, perhaps, in an exaggerated form, to counteract, in the minds of the Saxon inhabitants of the banks of the Humber, the interest they would naturally feel in the cause of the enemies of the Norman king.3
To induce their subjects to march with them against the king of Scotland, the Norman barons skilfully flattered old local superstitions; they invoked the names of the saints of English race, whom they themselves had once treated with such contempt; they adopted them, as it were, as generalissimos of their army, and archbishop Toustain raised the banners of St. Cuthbert of Durham, of St. John of Beverly, and of St. Wilfred of Ripon.
These popular standards, which, since the Conquest, had scarce seen the day, were taken from the dust of the churches, and conveyed to Cuton Moor, near Elfer-tun, now North Allerton, thirty-two miles north of York, the place where the Norman chiefs resolved to await the enemy. William Piperel and Walter Espec, of Nottinghamshire, and Guilbert de Lacy and his brother Walter, of Yorkshire, assumed the command. The archbishop, who could not attend, on account of illness, sent in his place Raoul, bishop of Durham, probably driven from his diocese by the invasion of the Scots.4 Around the Saxon banners, raised by lords of foreign race in the camp of Allerton, a half religious, half patriotic instinct drew together a number of the English inhabitants of the surrounding towns and plains. These no longer bore the great battle-axe, the favourite weapon of their ancestors, but were armed with large bows and arrows a cloth yard long. The Conquest had worked this change in two different ways: first, those of the natives, who had stooped to serve the Norman king in battle, for food and pay, had necessarily applied themselves to Norman tactics; and next, those who, more independent, had adopted the life of partisans on the roads and of free-hunters in the forests, had also found it desirable to lay aside the weapons adapted for close combat, for others better fitted to reach, from a distance, the knights of Normandy and the king’s stags. The sons of both these classes having been from their infancy exercised in drawing the bow, England had become, in less than a century, the land of good archers, as Scotland was the land of good lances.
While the Scottish army was passing the Tees, the Norman barons actively prepared to meet its attack. They raised upon four wheels, a mast, having at its summit a small silver box, containing a consecrated host, and around the box floated the banners which were to excite the English to fight well.1 This standard, of a kind common enough in the middle ages, was in the centre of the army. The Anglo-Norman knights took up their post around it, after having sworn together by faith and oath, to remain united for the defence of the country, in life and death.2 The Saxon archers flanked the battle array, and formed the vanguard. On the news of the approach of the Scots, who were rapidly advancing, the Norman Raoul, bishop of Durham, ascended an eminence in the midst of the army, and delivered in French3 the following harangue:
“Noble lords of Norman race, you who make France tremble, and have conquered England; the Scots, after having done you homage, seek to drive you from your lands. But if our fathers in so few numbers subjected a great part of Gaul, shall we not conquer these half-naked people, who oppose to our swords nothing but the skin of their bodies, or a leathern buckler?1 Their pikes are long, it is true, but the wood is fragile, and the iron of poor temper. These people of Galloway have been heard to say, in their vain boasting, that the sweetest drink to them were the blood of a Norman. Do ye so that not one of them shall return to his family to boast of having killed a Norman.”2
The Scottish army, having for its standard a simple lance with a guidon, marched in several bodies. The young Henry, son of the king of Scotland, commanded the lowlanders and the English volunteers of Cumberland and Northumberland; the king himself was at the head of all the clans of the highlands and islands; and the knights of Norman origin, armed at all points, formed his guard.3 One of them, named Robert de Brus, a man of great age, who sided with the king of Scotland, by reason of his fief of Annandale,4 and had no personal enmity against his countrymen of England, approached the king, as he was about to give the signal of attack, and addressing him in a mournful tone, said: “O king, dost thou reflect against whom thou art about to fight? It is against the Normans and the English, who have ever served thee so well and promptly in council and in the field, and have subjected to thee thy people of Gaelic race. Thou thinkest thyself, then, sure of the submission of these tribes? Thou hopest, then, to hold them to their duty, with the sole aid of thy Scottish men at arms?5 remember that it was we who first placed them in thy hands, and that hence sprung the hatred which they bear our countrymen.”6 This speech seemed to make a great impression on the king; but William, his nephew, exclaimed, impatiently: “these are the words of a traitor.” The old Norman replied to this insult, by abjuring, in the formula of the period, his oath of faith and homage, and then galloped to the enemy’s camp.7
The highlanders who surrounded the king of Scotland raised their voices, and shouted the ancient name of their country, “Albyn! Albyn!”1 This was the signal for combat. The men of Cumberland, of Liddesdale, and of Teviotdale, made a firm and rapid charge upon the centre of the Norman army, and, to adopt the expression of an ancient historian, broke it like a spider’s web;2 but ill supported by the other bodies of Scots, they did not reach the standard of the Anglo-Normans. The latter recovered their ranks, and repulsed the assailants with great loss. At a second charge, the long javelins of the south-western Scots broke against the hauberks and shields of the Normans. The highlanders then drew their long swords to fight hand to hand; but the Saxon archers, deploying on the sides, assailed them with a shower of arrows, while the Norman horse charged them in front, in close ranks, and with lances low. “It was a noble sight,” says a contemporary, “to see the stinging flies issue humming from the quivers of the southern men, and fall upon the foe thick as hail.”
The Gael, brave and hardy men, but ill adapted for regular military evolutions, dispersed the moment they found they could not break the enemy’s ranks.3 The whole Scottish army, compelled to retreat, fell back upon the Tyne. The conquerors did not pursue it beyond this river, and the district which had risen in insurrection upon the approach of the Scots, remained, notwithstanding their defeat, emancipated from Norman domination. For a long period after this battle, Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Northumberland formed part of the kingdom of Scotland; and the new position of these three provinces prevented the Anglo-Saxon spirit and character from degenerating there so much as in the more southern portions of England. The national traditions and popular ballads survived and perpetuated themselves north of the Tyne,4 and it was thence that English poetry, annihilated in the districts inhabited by the Normans, returned once more at a later period, to the southern provinces.
While these things were passing in the north of England, the Welsh, who had promised to aid the Saxons in their great plan of deliverance, executing this promise, notwithstanding the failure of the enterprise elsewhere, commenced upon the whole line of their frontiers an attack upon the strongholds erected by the Normans. The Cambrians, an impetuous and vehement race of men, rushed to this sudden aggression with a sort of national fanaticism; there was no quarter for any man who spoke the French tongue; the barons, knights, and soldiers, who had usurped estates in Wales, the priests and monks who had intruded upon the churches and churchlands, all these were slaughtered, or driven from the properties they occupied.1 The Cambrians exhibited much cruelty in these acts of reprisal, but then they themselves had undergone unprecedented sufferings at the hands of the Anglo-Normans. Hugh-le-Loup, and Robert de Maupas, had almost exterminated the native population of Flintshire; Robert de Ruddhlan had seized the Welsh in his district and made serfs of them; Robert de Belesme, earl of Shrewsbury, say the historians of the period, tore the Welsh with claws of iron.2
The conquerors of England, not content with possessing the fertile lands of that country, had early begun, with equal avidity, to invade the rocks and marshes of Cambria.3 The chiefs of the bands established in the western provinces, almost all solicited from king William or his sons, as a sort of supplementary pay, licence to conquer from the Welsh: such is the language of the old acts.4 Many obtained this permission; others dispensed with it, and, equally with the first, attacked the Welsh, who resisted bravely, and defended their country inch by inch. The Normans, having made themselves masters of the eastern extremities of Wales, erected there, according to their custom, a line of strongholds.5
These fortresses had gradually become so numerous and so near to each other, that when, in 1138, the Welsh undertook to break through the chain, nearly the whole of South Wales, the valleys of Glamorganshire and Brecknockshire, and the great promontory of Pembrokeshire, were already severed from ancient Cambria. Various circumstances had contributed to facilitate these conquests. First, in the reign of William Rufus, a civil war among the southern Welsh (an event but too common with them) introduced into Glamorganshire, as hired auxiliaries of one of the contending parties, a band of Norman adventurers, commanded by Robert Fitz-Aymon. This Robert (the same whose daughter refused to accept a husband without two names), after fighting for a Welsh chieftain, and receiving his wages, on his return to his domain in Gloucestershire reflected upon the terrible effect that his steel-clad men and horses had produced upon the Cambrians,1 and the reflection suggested to him the project of visiting as a conqueror the chieftain he had served as a mercenary. He collected a more numerous band than before, entered the valley of Glamorganshire, and took possession of the districts nearest to the Norman frontier.2 The invaders divided out the country among themselves, according to their ranks. Robert Fitz-Aymon had for his share three towns, and became earl of the conquered territory. Among his principal companions, history mentions Robert de St. Quentin, Pierre-le-Sourd, Jean-le-Flamand, and Richard de Granville, or Grainville, as the Normans pronounced it.3 They had each of them whole villages or vast domains, and from poor hirelings became, in the eye of posterity, the stock of a new race of nobles and powerful barons.
At about the same time, Hamlin, son of Dreux de Balaon, built a castle at Abergavenny, and one William, who constructed a fortress at Monmouth, assumed the name of William de Monemue, according to the Norman euphony:4 this William, for the salvation of his soul, made a donation of a Welsh church to the monks of St. Florent at Saumur; in the same neighbourhood, Robert de Candos or Chandos founded and endowed a priory for a body of monks from Normandy.5 During the wars which a numerous party of Normans carried on against William Rufus and Henry I., in favour of duke Robert, these kings summoned to their aid all the soldiers of fortune they could collect. These, for the most part, like the soldiers of the Conqueror, required in compensation for their services, the promise of territorial possessions, for which they did homage beforehand to the kings. In payment of these debts, there were first appropriated the lands confiscated from the Normans of the opposite party, and when this resource was exhausted, the adventurers had letters of marque upon the Welsh.1
Several captains of free companies who received their wages in this coin, distributed out among themselves, before they had conquered them, the counties around Glamorganshire, and added the name of each portion so self-allotted, to their own name; then upon the expiration of their time of service in England, they took their way westward, to assume possessession, as they phrased it, of their inheritances.2 Thus, in the reign of William Rufus, Bernard de Neuf-Marché seized upon Brecknockshire, and dying, left it, say the acts, in lawful property to his daughter Sybil.3 In the time of king Henry, one Richard, a Norman by birth, count of Eu, conquered the Welsh province of Divet or Pembroke, with a small army of Brabançons, Normans, and even of English, whom the miseries of their own subjection had reduced to the condition of adventurer-invaders of other men’s lands. Richard d’Eu in this campaign received from his Flemings and his English the Teutonic surname of Strongboghe or Strongbow, and by a singular chance, this soubriquet, unintelligible to the Normans, remained hereditary in the family of the Norman earl.4
Strongbow and his companions in arms proceeded by sea to the westernmost point of the land of Divet, and landing there, drove back eastward the Cambrian population of the coast, massacring all who resisted them. The Brabançons were at this period the best infantry in Europe, and the land invaded, generally level in its character, enabled them to make full advantage of their heavy armour.5 Effecting a rapid conquest, they divided out the towns, houses, and lands, and built castles to secure themselves from the incursions of the vanquished. The Flemings and Normans, who occupied the first rank in the conquering army, were the most favoured in the division of the spoil, and their posterity constituted the new proprietors and new nobles of the land. Several centuries afterwards, these nobles and proprietors were still distinguishable by the French turn of their names, preceded by the particle de, or the word fils or fitz, according to the old orthography.1 The descendants of the English who took part in the expedition, composed the middle class of small landowners and free farmers; their language became the common tongue of the vanquished district, whence it expelled the Welsh idiom, a circumstance which gave to Pembrokeshire the cognomen of Little England beyond Wales.2 A remarkable monument of this conquest long subsisted in the country: a road along the crest of the mountains, and which, constructed by the conquerors for the purpose of facilitating their marches and securing more rapid intercommunication, retained for several centuries the name of the Fleming way.3
Encouraged by the example of Richard Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, other adventurers landed in Cardigan bay; and one Martin de Tours or des Tours, invaded the land of Keymes or Kemys, in company with Guy de Brionne and Guerin de Mont Cenis, or, as it was called in Norman, Mont Chensey.4 Martin de Tours assumed the title of lord of Keymes, as sovereign administrator of the country in which his men at arms established themselves.5 He opened an asylum there for all the French, Flemish, and even English by birth, who chose to come and augment his colony, swear fealty and homage to him against the Welsh, and receive lands on condition of service, with the title of free guests of Keymes.6 The town which these adventurers founded was called Le Bourg neuf (Newtown), and the spot where the war-chief who had become lord of the country erected his principal dwelling, was long called Château-Martin (Castle Martin), pursuant to the genius of the old French tongue.1 To sanctify his invasion, Martin built a church and a priory, which he peopled with priests, brought, at a great expense, from the abbey of St. Martin de Tours, and whom he selected, either because the town of Tours was his native place, or because its name was the same with his own.2 On his death, he was buried in a marble tomb, in the nave of the new church, and the Touravese priests of the lordship of Keymes recommended to the benedictions of every Christian, the memory of their patron, who, said they, had by his pious zeal revived in that land the tottering faith of the Welsh.3
The imputation thus thrown out, which the Norman prelates had made so much use of to authorize their intrusion and the dispossession of all the clergy of English race, was renewed against the Cambrians, by those to whom the conquerors of Wales gave churches or abbeys. To colour by some sort of pretext the violent expulsion of the former bishops and priests of this country, they declared them en masse heretics and false Christians.4 Yet the bishops of Cambria had long since been reconciled with the Romish church, had re-entered, as it was then termed, the Catholic unity, and one of them, the bishop of St. David’s, had even received the pallium.5 They complained bitterly to the pope of the usurpation of their churches by men of foreign race and impious lives.6 But he paid no heed to them, considering those who had re-established the tax of Peter’s pence as excellent judges of what was good for men’s souls. After this useless appeal, the Welsh, driven to extremity, vindicated justice for themselves, and in many places expelled, in their turn, by force of arms, the foreign priests who had expelled their priests and disposed of the property of the church as of private patrimony.7
These acts of national vengeance were more frequent in the maritime districts, further removed from the centre of Anglo-Norman power. On the coast facing the isle of Anglesea, conquered simultaneously with that island by the soldiers of the earl of Chester, there was an episcopal city called Bangor, where king Henry I. had established a Norman prelate, named Hervé. To fulfil to the king’s satisfaction his pastoral functions, amidst a country scarce subjected, Hervé, says an ancient author, drew his double-edged sword,1 launching forth daily anathemas on the Cambrians, while he made war upon them at the head of a troop of soldiers.2 The Welsh did not allow themselves to be excommunicated and massacred without resistance; they defeated the bishop’s army, killed one of his brothers, and many of his men, and compelled him to make a hasty retreat.3 Hervé returned to king Henry, who congratulated him4 on having suffered for the faith, and promised him a recompence. The reigning pope, Pascal, wrote with his own hand to the king, recommending to him this victim of what he called the persecution and ferocity of the barbarians.5
Yet at this period, the Welsh nation was, perhaps, of all Europe, that which least merited the epithet of barbarian; despite the evil which the Anglo-Normans inflicted upon them every day, those who visited them unarmed, as simple travellers, were received with cordial hospitality; they were at once admitted into the bosom of the best families, and shared the highest pleasures of the country, music and song.
“They who arrive in the morning,” says an author of the twelfth century, “are entertained until evening with the conversation of the young women, and the sounds of the harp.”6 There was a harp in every house, however poor it might be, and the company, seated in a circle round the musician, sang, alternately, stanzas, sometimes extemporised; challenges passed for improvisation and song, from man to man, and sometimes from village to village.1
The vivacity natural to the Celtic race, was further manifested in the Cambrians by an excessive taste for conversation, and their promptitude in repartee. “All the Welsh, without exception, even in the lowest ranks,” says the ancient author already quoted, “have been gifted by nature with a great volubility of tongue, and extreme confidence in answering before princes and nobles; the Italians and French seem to possess the same faculty; but it is not found among the English of race nor among the Saxons of Germany nor among the Allemans. The present servitude of the English will, doubtless, be alleged as the cause of this want of assurance in the English; but such is not the true reason of this difference, for the Saxons of the continent are free, and yet the same defect is to be remarked in them.”2
The Welsh, who never, like the Germanic tribes, undertook invasive expeditions out of their own country, and who, in one of their national proverbs, wished that “every ray of the sun were a poniard to pierce the friend of war,”3 never, on the other hand, made peace with the foreigner, so long as he occupied their territory, how long soever he remained there, how firmly fixed soever in castles, villages, and towns. The day on which one of these castles was demolished, was a day of universal rejoicing, in which, to use the words of a Welsh writer, the father deprived of an only son forgot his calamity.4 In the great insurrection of 1138, the Normans, attacked along the whole line of their marches, from the mouth of the Dee to the Severn, lost numerous fortified posts, and for some time, were obliged, in their turn, to assume a defensive attitude.5 But the advantage obtained by the Cambrians was of no great importance, because they did not prosecute the war beyond the limits of their mountains and their valleys. Their attack, however vigorous, gave, therefore, less alarm to the conquerors of England, than the invasion of the king of Scotland, and was of still less utility to the Saxon people, who had placed their hopes in it.1
King Stephen deemed it unnecessary to quit his southern residence to march against either the Scots or the Welsh. But, shortly afterwards, the Norman partisans of Matilda, daughter of Henry I., gave him deeper uneasiness. Invited to England by her friends, Matilda landed on the 22nd September of the year 1139, threw herself into Arundel Castle on the coast of Sussex, and thence gained that of Bristol, which was held by her brother, Robert earl of Gloucester.2 On the news of the pretender’s arrival, many secret discontents and intrigues revealed themselves. Most of the northern and western chiefs solemnly renounced their homage and obedience to Stephen of Blois, and renewed the oath they had taken to the daughter of king Henry. The whole Norman race of England seemed divided into two factions, which observed each other for awhile with wary distrust, ere they came to blows. “Neighbour,” say the historians of the time, “suspected neighbour; friend, friend; brother, brother.”3
Fresh bands of Brabançon soldiers, hired by one or other of the two rival parties, came with arms and baggage by different ports and various roads, to the rendezvous respectively assigned by the king and by Matilda,4 each side promising them the lands of the opposite faction as pay. To meet the expenses of this civil war, the Anglo-Normans sold their domains, their villages and their towns in England, with the inhabitants, body and goods.5 Many made incursions upon the domains of their adversaries, and carried off horses, oxen, sheep, and the men of English race, who were seized even in towns, and taken away, bound back to back.
“Every rich man,” says the Saxon chronicle, “built castles, and defended them against all, and they filled the land full of castles. They greatly oppressed the wretched people, by making them work at these castles, and when the castles were finished, they filled them with devils and evil men. Then they took those whom they suspected to have any goods, by night and by day, seizing both men and women, and they put them in prison for their gold and silver, and tortured them with pains unspeakable, for never were any martyrs tormented as these were. They hung some up by their feet, and smoked them with foul smoke; some by their thumbs, or by the head, and they hung burning things on their feet. They put a knotted string about their heads, and writhed it till it went into the brain. They put them into dungeons wherein were adders, and snakes, and toads, and thus wore them out. Some they put into a crucet-house, that is, into a chest that was short and narrow, and not deep; and they put sharp stones in it, and crushed the man therein, so that they broke all his limbs. There were hateful and grim things, called sachenteges,1 in many of the castles, and which two or three men had enough to do to carry. The sachentege was made thus: it was fastened to a beam, having a sharp iron to go round a man’s throat and neck, so that he might no ways sit, nor lie, nor sleep, but that he must bear all the iron. Many thousands they exhausted with hunger. I cannot and I may not tell of all the wounds and all the tortures that they inflicted upon the wretched men of this land; and this state of things lasted the nineteen years that Stephen was king, and ever grew worse and worse. They were continually levying an exaction from the towns, which they called tensery,2 and when the miserable inhabitants had no more to give, then plundered they and burned all the towns; so that well mightest thou walk a whole day’s journey, nor even shouldest thou find a single soul in a town or its lands tilled.
“Then was corn dear, and flesh, and cheese, and butter, for there was none in the land. Wretched men starved with hunger; some lived on alms, who had been erewhile rich; some fled the country; never was there more misery, and never acted heathens worse than these. At length they spared neither church nor churchyard, but they took all that was valuable therein, and then burned the church and all together. Neither did they spare the lands of bishops or of abbots or of priests, but they robbed the monks and the clergy, and every man plundered his neighbour, as much as he might. If two or three men came riding to a town, all the township fled before them, and thought that they were robbers. The bishops and clergy were ever cursing them, but this to them was nothing, for they were all accursed, and forsworn, and reprobate. The earth bare no corn; you might as well have tilled the sea, for the land was all ruined by such deeds, and it was said openly that Christ and his saints slept. These things, and more than we can say, did we suffer during nineteen years, because of our sins.”1
The greatest terror prevailed in the environs of Bristol, where the empress Matilda and her Angevins had established their head-quarters. All day long men were brought into the city, bound and gagged with a piece of wood or an iron bit.2 Troops of disguised soldiers were constantly leaving the castle, who, concealing their arms and language, and attired in the English habit, spread through the town and neighbourhood, mingling with the crowd in the markets and streets, and there, suddenly seizing those whose appearance denoted easy circumstances, carried them off to their quarters and put them to ransom. It was against Bristol that king Stephen first directed his army. This strong and well-defended city resisted, and the royal troops revenged themselves by devastating and burning the environs.3 The king next attacked, one by one and with better success, the Norman castles along the Welsh frontier, the seigneurs of which had nearly to a man declared against him.
While he was engaged in this protracted and troublesome war, insurrection broke out in the eastern districts of the country; the marshy lands of Ely, which had served as a refuge to the last of the free Saxons, became a camp for the Normans of the Angevin faction. Baldwin de Reviers or Redvers, earl of Devonshire, and Lenoir, bishop of Ely, raised against king Stephen intrenchments of stone and mortar in the very place where Hereward had erected a fortress of wood.1 This district, always considered formidable by the Norman authority, on account of the facilities it presented for hostile assemblage and defence, had been placed by Henry I. under the authority of a bishop, whose superintendence was to be combined with that of the earl or viscount of the province.2 The first bishop of the new diocese of Ely was the same Hervé whom the Welsh had expelled from Bangor; the second was Lenoir, who discovered and denounced the great conspiracy of the English in the year 1137. It was not out of personal zeal for king Stephen, but from patriotism as a Norman, that the latter served the king against the Saxons; and as soon as the Normans had declared against Stephen, Lenoir joined them, and undertook to make the islands of his diocese a rendezvous for the friends of Matilda.3
Stephen attacked his adversaries in this camp as William the Conqueror had formerly attacked the Saxon refugees there. He constructed bridges of boats, over which his cavalry passed, and completely routed the troops of Baldwin de Reviers and bishop Lenoir.4 The bishop fled to Gloucester, where the daughter of Henry I. then was with her principal partisans. Her friends in the west, encouraged by the king’s absence, repaired the breaches in their castle-walls, or, transforming into fortresses the towers of the great churches, furnished them with war-machines, and dug moats round them, even in the churchyards, so that the bodies were laid bare and their bones scattered.5 The Norman prelates did not scruple to participate in these military operations, and were not the least active in torturing the English to make them give ransom. They were seen, as in the first years of the Conquest, mounted upon war-horses, clad in armour, and a lance or bâton in their hands, directing the works and the attacks, or casting lots for the spoil.6
The bishop of Chester and the bishop of Lincoln were remarkable among the most warlike. The latter rallied the troops beaten at the camp of Ely, and re-formed, upon the eastern coast, an army which king Stephen came to attack, but with less success than before; his troops, victorious at Ely, dispersed near Lincoln: abandoned by those who surrounded him, the king defended himself alone for some time; but at last, obliged to yield, he was taken to Gloucester, to the quarters of the countess of Anjou, who, by the advice of her council of war, imprisoned him in the donjon of Bristol. This defeat ruined the royal cause. The Normans of Stephen’s party, seeing him conquered and captive, passed over in crowds to Matilda. His own brother, Henry, bishop of Winchester, declared himself for the victorious faction; and the Saxon peasants, who equally detested both parties, profited by the misfortune of the conquered to despoil them and maltreat them in their flight.1
The grand-daughter of William the Conqueror made her triumphal entry into the city of Winchester; bishop Henry received her at the gates, at the head of the clergy of all the churches. She took possession of the royal ornaments, and of Stephen’s treasure,2 and convoked a great council of prelates, earls, barons, and knights. The assembly decided that Matilda should assume the title of queen, and the bishop who presided pronounced the following form:—“Having first invoked, as was befitting, the assistance of Almighty God, we elect, for lady of England and Normandy, the daughter of the glorious, rich, good, and pacific king Henry, and promise her faith and support.”3 But the good fortune of queen Matilda soon made her disdainful and arrogant; she ceased to solicit the counsel of her old friends, and treated with little favour those of her adversaries who sought to make peace with her. The authors of her elevation, when they requested aught of her, often underwent a refusal; and when they bowed before her, says an old historian, she did not rise to acknowledge the homage.4 This conduct cooled the zeal of her most devoted partisans, and the majority of them, quitting her, without, however, declaring for the dethroned king, awaited the result in repose.1
From Winchester, the new queen went to London. She was the daughter of a Saxon, and the Saxon citizens, from a kind of national sympathy, were better pleased to see her in their city, than they were to see there the king of pure foreign race;2 but the enthusiasm of these serfs of the Conquest made little impression on the proud heart of the wife of the count of Anjou, and the first words she addressed to the citizens of London, were a demand for an enormous subsidy. The citizens, whom the devastations of war and the exactions of Stephen had reduced to such distress that they were in fear of a speedy famine, intreated the queen to pity them, and to wait until they had recovered from their present misery, ere she imposed new tributes on them. “The king has left us nothing,” said the deputies from the citizens, submissively. “I understand,” said the daughter of Henry I., disdainfully; “you have given all to my adversary; you have conspired with him against me; and you would have me spare you.” Obliged to pay the tax, the citizens of London seized the occasion to present an humble petition to the queen: “Noble lady,” said they, “let it be permitted us to follow the good laws of king Edward, thy great uncle, instead of those of thy father the king Henry, which are harsh and ill to bear.”3 But, as if she blushed for her maternal ancestors and abnegated her Anglo-Saxon descent, Matilda became furious at this petition, treated those who dared to address it to her as the most insolent of serfs, and threatened them fiercely. Deeply aggrieved, but dissimulating their anger, the citizens returned to the Guildhall,4 where the Normans, become less suspicious, allowed them to assemble to arrange among themselves the payment of the taxes; for the government had adopted the custom of imposing these upon the towns in the mass, without troubling themselves as to the manner in which the impost should be raised by individual contributions.
Queen Matilda waited in full security, either in the Tower or in the new palace of William Rufus at Westminster, for the citizens to come and present to her on their knees the gold she had demanded, when suddenly the bells of the town rang the alarm: an immense crowd filled the streets and squares. From every house issued a man, armed with the first weapon that had come to hand. An ancient author likens the multitude who thus tumultuously assembled to bees quitting a hive. The queen and her Norman and Angevin barons, thus surprised, and not daring to risk, in the narrow and tortuous streets, an encounter in which the superiority of arms and of military skill could be of no avail, speedily mounted their horses and fled. They had hardly passed the last houses of the suburbs, when a troops of English hastened to the lodgings they had occupied, broke open the doors, and not finding the men, seized upon all they had left behind. The queen hastened along the Oxford road with her barons and knights; from time to time some of these quitted her to retreat in greater safety alone by cross roads and bye paths; she entered Oxford with her brother the earl of Gloucester, and the few who had followed the road she pursued as the safest, or who forgot their own danger in hers.1
This danger, however, was not great; the people of London, satisfied with having driven the new queen of England from their walls, did not pursue her. Their insurrection, the result of an ebullition of fury, without any previous project and without connexion with any other movement, did not constitute the first act of a national insurrection. The expulsion of Matilda and her adherents, however, while it did not profit the English, served the partisans of king Stephen, who entering London, occupied the city and garrisoned it with their troops, under colour of alliance with the citizens. The wife of the imprisoned king repaired hither also, and took up her quarters in the Tower; all that the citizens obtained was permission to enrol a thousand of their number, with helmet and hauberk, among the troops who assembled in the name of Stephen, to serve, as auxiliaries of the Normans, under William and Roger de la Chesnaye.2
The bishop of Winchester, seeing his brother’s party regaining some strength, deserted the opposite faction, and declared once more for the prisoner of Bristol; he unfurled the king’s flag on Winchester castle and on his own episcopal palace, which he had fortified and embattled like a castle. Robert of Gloucester and the partisans of Matilda came to besiege it. The garrison of the castle, constructed in the centre of the city, set fire to the surrounding houses, in order to harass the besiegers; and in the mean time, the London army attacking the latter unexpectedly, compelled them to retire to the churches, which were set on fire as a mode of driving them out. Robert of Gloucester was taken prisoner, and his followers dispersed. Barons and knights threw aside their arms, and travelling on foot to avoid recognition, traversed, under assumed names, the towns and villages. But, besides the king’s partisans, who followed them closely, they encountered on their way other enemies, the Saxon peasants, furious against them in their defeat, as they had been just before against the opposite party, under similar circumstances; they stopped the proud Normans, whom, despite their efforts to disguise themselves, they recognised by their language, and compelled them to run before them, by blows of their whips. The archbishop of Canterbury, other bishops, and a number of seigneurs, were maltreated in this way and despoiled of their horses and clothes. Thus, this war was for the native English at once a source of misery and of joy—of that frantic joy we feel amidst suffering, in returning evil for evil. The grandson of a man who had died at Hastings, now found himself master of the life of a Norman baron or prelate, and the English women, who turned the spinning-wheel in the service of noble Norman dames, laughed as they heard related the sufferings of queen Matilda on her departure from Oxford; how she had fled with three knights, on foot, and by night, through the snow; and how she had fearfully passed the enemy’s posts, trembling at the least sound of men and horses, or at the voice of the sentinels.1
Soon after the brother of Matilda, Robert earl of Gloucester, had been taken prisoner, the two parties concluded an agreement, by which the king and the earl were exchanged, one for the other, so that the dispute resumed its first position. Stephen quitted Bristol castle and resumed the exercise of royalty, his government extending over the portion of the country where his partisans predominated; that is to say, over the central and eastern provinces of England. As to Normandy, none of his orders reached it; for during his captivity, the whole of that country had yielded to earl Geoffroy, the husband of Matilda, who, shortly afterwards, with the consent of the Normans, transferred the title of duke of Normandy to his eldest son Henry.1 The party of Stephen thus lost the hope of recruiting itself beyond seas; but as he was master of the coast, he was in a position to prevent any succour thence to his adversaries at home, who were shut up in the west. Their only resource was to hire bodies of Welsh, who, though ill armed, by their bravery and singular tactics, arrested, for awhile, the march of the king’s partisans.2
While the struggle was thus languidly prolonged on both sides, Henry, son of Matilda, left Normandy with a small army, and succeeded in landing in England. On the first rumour of his arrival, many nobles began to abandon the cause of Stephen; but, as soon as they learned that Henry had but a few followers and very little money, most of these returned to the king, and the desertion ceased.3 The war went on in the same way as before; castles were taken and retaken, towns pillaged and burnt. The English, flying from their houses, through force or fear, raised huts under the walls of the churches; but they were soon driven from them by one or the other party, who converted the church into a fortress, embattling its towers, and furnishing them with war machines.4
Stephen’s only son, Eustache, who had more than once signalized himself by his valour, died, after having pillaged a domain consecrated to Saint Edmund, king and martyr; his death was, according to the English, the consequence of the outrage he had dared to commit on this saint of English race.1 Stephen having now no son to whom he could desire to transmit the kingdom, proposed to his rival, Henry of Anjou, to terminate the war by an accommodation; he required that the Normans of England, and of the continent, should allow him to reign in peace during his life, on condition that the son of Matilda should be king after him. The Normans consented to this, and peace was re-established. The tenour of the treaty, sworn by the bishops, earls, barons, and knights of both parties, is presented to us under two very different aspects by the historians of the time, according to the faction they favour. Some say that king Stephen adopted Henry as his son, and that in virtue of this preliminary act, the lords swore to give in heritage to the adopted son, his father’s kingdom;2 others, on the contrary, assert that the king positively acknowledged the hereditary right of the son of Matilda to the kingdom, and that in return the latter benevolently granted him permission to reign for the remainder of his life.3 Thus contemporaries, equally worthy of belief, deduce from two principles, entirely opposite, the legitimacy which they accord to the grandson of Henry I. Which are we to believe on this point? neither the one nor the other; the truth is, that the same barons who had elected Stephen despite the oath sworn to Matilda, and who afterwards elected Matilda despite the oath sworn to Stephen, by a new act of will, designed, as successor to Stephen, the son of Matilda and not the mother: from this all-potent will was derived the royal legitimacy.4
Shortly before his expedition to England, Henry had married the divorced wife of the king of France, Eleanor, or Alienor, or, more familiarly, Aanor, daughter of William, earl of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine, that is to say, sovereign of all the western coast of Gaul, from the mouth of the Loire to the foot of the Pyrenees.1 According to the custom of this country, Eleanor enjoyed there all the power that her father had exercised; and, moreover, her husband, though a foreigner, could share the sovereignty with her. King Louis VII. had enjoyed the privilege so long as he remained united to the daughter of earl William, and he maintained officers and garrisons in the towns of Aquitaine; but, as soon as he had repudiated her, he found himself under the necessity of recalling his seneschals and troops.2 It was in Palestine, whither Eleanor had followed her husband to the crusades, that their misunderstanding broke out. Persuaded, right or wrong,3 that the queen played him false with a young Saracen, Louis solicited and obtained the divorce refused by the church to common people, but frequently granted to princes.4
A council was held at Beaugency-sur-Loire, before which the queen of France was summoned. The bishop who acted as accuser, announced that the king demanded a divorce, “because he had no confidence in his wife, and should never feel assured as to the lineage issuing from her.”5
The council, passing this scandalous proposition over in silence, declared the marriage null, under pretext of consanguinity, perceiving, somewhat late after a union of sixteen years, that Eleanor was her husband’s cousin, within one of the prohibited degrees.6 The divorced wife, on her return to her own country, stopped for awhile at Blois. During her stay in this town, Thibaut, earl of Blois, endeavoured to conciliate her and to obtain her hand. Indignant at the refusal he received, the earl resolved to retain the duchess of Aquitaine in prison in his castle, and even to marry her by force.7 She suspected this design, and departing by night, descended the Loire to Tours, a town which then formed part of the earldom of Anjou. On hearing of her arrival, Geoffroy, the second son of the earl of Anjou and the empress Matilda, seized with the same desire as Thibaut de Blois, placed himself in ambush at Port de Piles, on the frontiers of Poitou and Touraine, to stop the progress of the duchess, seize her and marry her; but Eleanor, says the historian, was warned by her good angel, and suddenly took another road to Poitiers.1
It was hither that Henry, the eldest son of Matilda and of the earl of Anjou, more courteous than his brother, repaired to solicit the love of the daughter of the duke of Aquitaine. He was accepted, and conducting his new wife to Normandy, he sent bailiffs, justiciaries, and Norman soldiers to the cities of southern Gaul. To the title of duke of Normandy he thenceforward added those of duke of Aquitaine and earl of Poitou;2 and his father already possessing Anjou and Touraine, their combined sovereignty extended over the whole western portion of Gaul, between the Somme and the Pyrenees, with the exception of Brittany. The territories of the king of France, bounded by the Loire, the Saone, and the Meuse, were far from having so great an extent. This king grew alarmed at seeing the aggrandizement of the Norman power, the rival of his own ever since its birth, and still more so since the conquest of England. He had made great efforts to prevent the union of young Henry with Eleanor of Aquitaine, and had required him, as his vassal for the duchy of Normandy, not to contract marriage without the consent of his suzerain lord.3 But the obligations of the liegeman to the suzerain, even when the two parties had expressly acknowledged and consented to them, were of small value between men of equal power. Henry took no heed to this prohibition to marry; and Louis VII. was fain to content himself with the new oaths of homage which the future king of England made to him for the earldom of Poitou and the duchy of Aquitaine.4
Oaths of this kind, vague in their tenour, taken unwillingly, and in some sort a mere form, had long been the only tie existing between the successors of the ancient Frank kings and the sovereign chiefs of the country comprised between the Loire and the two seas; for the Frank domination had not taken root in these districts so deeply as in those nearer Germany. In the seventh century, the nations of Europe who had relations with Gaul, already designated it all by the name of France; but in the Gaulish territory itself this name was far from possessing such universality. The course of the Loire formed the southern limit of Frankish Gaul, or of the French country; beyond this was the Roman territory, differing from the other in language and manners, and especially in civilization.1
In the south, the inhabitants, high or low, rich or poor, were nearly all of pure Gaulish race, or at least their German descent was not accompanied there by the same superiority of social condition which was attached to it in the north. The men of Frankish race who had come into southern Gaul, either as conquerors or as agents and commissioners of the conquerors, settled north of the Loire, did not succeed in propagating themselves as a distinct nation amidst a numerous population collected in great towns; and accordingly, the inhabitants of France and Burgundy usually employed the term Romans to designate those of the south.2
Many of the successors of Clodowig added to their title of king of the Franks, that of prince of the Roman people;3 in the decline of that first dynasty, the population of Aquitaine and Provence chose native dukes and counts, or, what is more remarkable, obliged the descendants of their governors of Teutonic race to revolt with them. But this enfranchisement of southern Gaul was scarcely accomplished, when the accession of a second race of kings restored to the Frank nation its pristine energy, and again directed it to the conquest of the south.
Once more masters of these beautiful lands, the Gallo-Franks placed there governors and judges,4 who, under the form of tribute, carried off all the money in the country; but, on the first favourable occasion, the southerns refused to pay, rose, and drove out the foreigners. Hereupon the Franks descended from the north to reassert their right of conquest; they came to the banks of the Loire at Orleans, Tours, or Nevers, to hold their Champ-de-Mai in arms.1 The war commenced between them and the inhabitants of the Limousin or Auvergne, then the outpost of the Gallo-Roman population. If the Romans (to speak in the language of the period) found themselves too weak to contend, they proposed to the chief of the Frenchmen to pay him the impost every year, preserving their political independence.2 The Frank prince submitted this proposition to his leudes,3 in their assembly, held in the open air; if the assembly voted against peace, the army continued its march, cutting down the vines and fruit trees, and carrying off men, cattle and horses.4 When the cause of the south had been completely defeated, the judges, the Frank grafs and skepen, re-installed themselves in the towns, and, for a more or less extended period, this form figured at the head of the public acts: “In the reign of the glorious king Pepin; in the reign of the illustrious emperor Karle.”
Karle, or Charlemagne, with the consent of all the Frank lords, established as king of Aquitaine5 his son Lodewig, whom the Gauls called Louis. This Louis became, in his turn, emperor or keisar of the Franks, and under this title, ruled at once Germany, Italy, and Gaul. In his own lifetime, he desired his sons to enjoy this immense authority, and the unequal division he made excited discord among them. The southern Gauls took part in these quarrels, in order to envenom them and thus contribute to weaken their masters. While awaiting the moment to revolt under chiefs of their own race and language, they gave the crown of their country to members of the imperial family, indeed, but these such as neither the emperor nor the supreme assembly of the Franks desired to reign;1 hence resulted protracted wars and fresh devastations in the towns of Aquitaine. The great struggle for royalty which arose towards the close of the ninth century, and continued for a century, gave some relief to the Aquitans. Indifferent to the two rival parties, having no common interest either with the family of Charlemagne or with the kings of new race, they kept aloof, and made use of the dispute as a pretext for resisting alike the power of both. When the Gallo-Franks, renouncing the Austrasian Karle, called Le Gros, chose for their king the Neustrian Eudes, count of Paris, a national king, named Ranulf, then arose in Aquitaine, who, shortly after, under the modest titles of duke of the Aquitans and count of the Poitevins, reigned in full sovereignty, from the Loire to the Pyrenees. King Eudes quitted France to subject Aquitaine; but he did not succeed in this object. With their material resistance, the inhabitants of the south combined a sort of moral opposition; they set themselves up as defenders of the rights of the old dispossessed family, for the sole reason that the French would no longer acknowledge these rights.
Hereupon nearly all the independent chiefs of Aquitaine, Poitou, and Provence, proceeded to assert themselves descendants of Charlemagne on the female side, and applied this hypothetical descent as authority for denouncing as usurpers the kings of the third dynasty.2 After Charles le Simple, the legitimate heir of Charlemagne, had been imprisoned in Peronne, his name was placed at the head of the public acts in Aquitaine, as though he still reigned; when his son had recovered the power, the Aquitans would not allow him to exercise the slightest authority over them, directly or indirectly.
The victory of the French over the second and third Germanic dynasties was permanently decided by the election of Hugh,3 surnamed Capet or Shapet in the Romane language of Outre-Loire. The people of the south took no part in this election, and did not acknowledge king Hugh; the latter, at the head of his people between the Meuse and the Loire, made war upon Aquitaine; but, after repeated efforts, he only succeeded in establishing his suzerainty over the provinces nearest the Loire, Berry, Touraine, and Anjou.1 As the reward of his adhesion, the count of the latter province obtained the hereditary title of seneschal of the kingdom of France; and, at solemn banquets, had the charge of serving the meats at the king’s table on horseback. But the attraction of such honours did not seduce the counts or dukes of the more southern districts; they maintained the combat, and the great mass of population who spoke the language of oc, did not acknowledge, in reality or in semblance, the authority of the kings of the country in which they said oui. The south of Gaul, distributed into various principalities, according to the natural divisions of the land or the ancient circumscription of the Roman provinces, thus appeared, towards the eleventh century, freed from every remnant of the subjection which the Franks had imposed on it, and the people of Aquitaine had thenceforth for their sovereigns men of their own race and language.
It is true, that north of the Loire, from the end of the tenth century, one same language was also common to kings, lords, and commons; but in this country, where the conquest had never been controverted, the seigneurs loved not the people; they felt in their hearts, perhaps without noting it, that their rank and their power were derived from a foreign source. Although severed for ever from their old Teutonic stock, they had not renounced the manners of the conquest they alone in the kingdom enjoyed territorial property and personal freedom. On the contrary, in the petty southern sovereignties, though there were ranks among men, though there were higher and lower classes, castles and cottages, insolence in wealth and tyranny in power, the soil belonged to the body of the people, and none contested with them its free possession, the franc-aleu, as it was termed in the middle ages. It was the popular mass which, by a series of efforts, had recovered this soil from the invaders of Outre-Loire. The duchies, the countships, the viscountships, all the lordships, were, more or less, national: most of them had originated in periods of revolt against the foreign power, and had been legitimised by the consent of the people.
But, inferior to the southern provinces in social organization, in civil liberty, and in traditions of government, the kingdom of France was powerful from its extent, and formidable abroad; none of the states which shared with it the ancient territory of Gaul, equalled it in power; and its chiefs often made the dukes and counts of the south tremble in their large cities, enriched by arts and by commerce. Often, to secure the continuance of peace with France, they offered their daughters in marriage to French princes, who, by this false policy, were admitted among them as relations and allies. It was thus that the union of the daughter of duke William with king Louis VII. opened, as we have seen, the towns of Aquitaine and Poitou to foreign garrisons. When, after the divorce of Eleanor, the French had withdrawn, her second marriage introduced Angevins and Normans, who, like the French, said oui and nenny, instead of oc and no.1 Perhaps there was more sympathy between the Angevins and the inhabitants of the south, than between the latter and the French, because civilization increased in Gaul the further south it lay. But the difference of language, and more especially of accent, necessarily reminded the Aquitains that Henry Fitz-Empress, their new lord, was a foreigner.
Shortly after the marriage, which made him duke of Aquitaine, Henry became earl of Anjou, by the death of his father, but upon the express condition of transferring that province to his younger brother on the day he himself should become king. He swore this oath with every demonstration of solemnity, on the corpse of the departed, but the oath was broken, and Henry retained the earldom of Anjou, when the Norman barons, more faithful than he to their word, called him to England, to succeed king Stephen.2 As soon as he had taken possession of the crown, he denounced Stephen as an usurper, and proceeded to abolish all that he had done.3 He drove from England the Brabançons who had settled there after aiding the royal cause against Matilda. He confiscated the lands which these men had received as their pay, and demolished their strongholds, in common with those of all the other partisans of the late king; desiring, he said, to reduce the number to what it had been under king Henry, his grandfather.1 The bands of foreign auxiliaries who had come to England during the civil war, had committed infinite pillage on the Normans of the party opposed to that which they served; their chiefs had seized upon domains and mansions, and had then fortified them against the dispossessed Norman lords, imitating the fathers of the latter, who had in like manner fortified the habitations taken from the English.2 The expulsion of the Flemings was for the whole Anglo-Norman race a subject of rejoicing, as great as their own expulsion would have been for the Saxons. “We saw them all,” says a contemporary author—“we saw them all cross the sea to return from the camp to the plough, and again become serfs, after having been masters.”3
Every man who in the year 1140 had, on the invitation of king Stephen, unharnessed his oxen to cross the Channel to the battle of Lincoln, was thus treated as an usurper by those whose ancestors had, in 1066, unharnessed theirs to follow William the Bastard. The conquerors of England already looked upon themselves as the legitimate possessors; they had effaced from their memory all recollection of their forcible usurpation and of their former condition, fancying that their noble families had never exercised any other function than that of governing men. But the Saxons had a longer memory: and in the complaints drawn from them by the cruelty of their lords, they said of many an earl or prelate of Norman race: “He drives us and goads us, as his father goaded his plough-oxen on the other side of the Channel.”4
Despite this consciousness of their own position and of the origin of their government, the Saxon race, worn out by suffering, gave way to an apathetic resignation. The little English blood which the empress Matilda had transmitted to Henry II., was, they said, a guarantee for his goodwill towards the people;1 and they forgot how this same Matilda, though more Saxon than her son, had treated the citizens of London. Writers, either from sheer simplicity of good faith, or hired to extol the new reign, proclaimed that England at length possessed a king, English by nation; that she had bishops, abbots, barons, and knights, the issue of both races, and that thus national hatred had, for the future, no basis.2 No doubt, the Saxon women, seized upon and married by force after the battle of Hastings, or after the defeats of York and Ely, had, amid their despair, borne sons to their masters; but these sons of foreign fathers, did they deem themselves brothers of the citizens and serfs of the land? Would not the desire to efface the stain of their birth in the eyes of the Normans of pure race, render them still more overbearing, even than the latter, towards their maternal countrymen? It is also true, that, in the first years of the invasion, William the Conqueror had offered women of his nation and even of his own family to Saxon chiefs, still free; but these unions were few in number; and as soon as the conquest seemed complete, no Englishman was held noble enough for a Norman woman to honour him with her hand. Besides, even supposing that many English in birth, by denying the cause of their country, by unlearning their own language, by playing the part of flatterers and parasites, had raised themselves to the privileges of the men of foreign race, this individual fortune did not weaken, in reference to the mass of the conquered, the mournful effects of the Conquest.
Perhaps, indeed, the mixture of races was in England, at this time, more favourable to the oppressors than to the oppressed; for, as the former lost their foreign character, if we may so express it, the inclination to resist diminished in the hearts of the latter. A violent reaction, the only efficacious resource against the iniquities of the conquest, became less possible. To the fetters of usurped domination were superadded moral bonds, the respect for men for their own blood, and those kindly affections which render us so patient under domestic despotism. Accordingly, Henry II. was pleased to see the Saxon monks, in the dedications of their books, set forth his English genealogy, and without mentioning either his grandfather, Henry I., or his great grandfather, the Conqueror, place him as the descendant of king Alfred. “Thou art the son,” they said, “of the very glorious empress Matilda, whose mother was Matilda, daughter of Margaret, queen of Scotland, whose father was Edward, son of king Edmund Ironsides, the great grandson of the noble king Alfred.”1
Whether by chance or design, predictions were circulated at the same time, announcing the reign of Henry of Anjou as an epoch of relief, and, in some measure, of resuscitation, for the English. One of these prophecies was attributed to king Edward on his death bed; and it was said that he delivered it, in order to reassure those who then feared for England the ambitious projects of the duke of Normandy. “When the green tree,” he said to them, “after having been cut down and moved from its root to a distance of three acres, shall itself approach its root once more, shall flourish and bear fruit, then a better time will come.”2 This allegory, invented for the purpose, was readily interpreted. The felled tree was the family of Edward, which had lost the crown on the election of Harold; after Harold had come William the Conqueror, and his son William Rufus; these completed the number of three kings foreign to the ancient family; for it is to be observed that the interpreters omitted Edgar, because he still had relations in England or Scotland, to whom, in a question of descent from the noble king Alfred, the Angevin Henry would have had very inferior pretensions. The tree again approached its root when Matilda married Henry I.; it flourished in the birth of the empress Matilda, and, lastly, it bore fruit in that of Henry II. These miserable tales only merit a place in history on account of the moral effect they produced on the men of former times. Their object was to divert from the person of the king the hatred which the Saxons nourished against all Normans; but nothing could prevent Henry II. from being regarded as the representative of the conquest: it was in vain that his friends mystically surnamed him the corner stone of junction for the two walls, that is to say, the two races:1 no union was possible amidst such utter inequality of rights, properties, and power.
Difficult as it was for an Anglo-Saxon of the twelfth century to recognise as natural successor of the kings of English race, a man who could not even say king in English, the pertinacious reconcilers of the Saxons with the Normans put forward assertions still more extraordinary; they undertook to prove the Conqueror himself the legitimate heir of king Alfred. A very ancient chronicle, cited by an ancient author, relates that William the Bastard was the own grandson of king Edmund Ironsides.2 “Edmund,” says this chronicle, “had two sons, Edwin and Edward, and also a daughter, whose name history does not mention, on account of her ill life, for she had illicit intercourse with the king’s tanner.” The king, greatly enraged, banished his skinner from England, with his daughter, who was then pregnant. Both passed into Normandy, where, living on public charity, they had successively three daughters. One day, as they were begging at Falaise, at the door of duke Robert, the duke, struck with the beauty of the wife and her three children, asked her who she was. “I am,” she answered, “an Englishwoman, and of royal blood.” At this answer, the duke treated her honourably, took the tanner into his service, and received into his palace one of their daughters, who afterwards became his mistress and the mother of William, surnamed the Bastard, who, for the greater probability, always remained the grandson of a tanner of Falaise; although by his mother he was a Saxon and a descendant of Saxon kings.3
The violation of the oath which Henry II. had, as we have seen, sworn to his brother Geoffroy, involved him, soon after his arrival in England, in a war on the continent. With the assistance of the partisans of his right to the earldom of Anjou, Geoffroy obtained possession of several strongholds. Henry sent an army of Englishmen against him. The English, animated by the antipathy they had borne, ever since the conquest, to the populations of Gaul, vigorously prosecuted the war, and in a short time secured a triumph to the ambitious and unjust brother.1 The conquered Geoffroy was obliged to accept, in exchange for his lands and his title of earl, a pension of a thousand pounds English and two thousand livres of Anjou.2 He had become once more a simple Angevin baron, when, by a fortunate chance for him, the people of Nantes made him count of their town and territory.3 By this election, they detached themselves from the government of Bretagne, with which it had been formerly incorporated by conquest, but which they had preferred to the domination of the Frank kings, without, however, any very vehement attachment, owing to the difference of language.
Aggrandized by fortunate wars, in the interval between the ninth to the eleventh century, Brittany was in the twelfth century torn by internal divisions, the result of its very prosperity. Its frontiers, which extended beyond the Loire, comprehended two populations of different race, one of which spoke the Celtic idiom, the other the Romane tongue of France and Normandy; and as the earls or dukes of the whole country enjoyed the favour of the one of these two races of men, they were disliked by the other. The Nantese who elected Geoffroy of Anjou as their earl, naturally belonged to the former of these two parties, and they only called on the Angevin prince to govern them in order to release themselves from the authority of a seigneur of pure Celtic race.4 Geoffroy of Anjou did not long enjoy his new dignity, and on his death, the town passed, if not freely, at least without repugnance, under the sovereignty of Conan, hereditary earl of Brittany, and possessor in England of Richmond castle, built in the time of the conquest, by the Breton, Alain Fergant.5 Hereupon, king Henry II., on a pretension entirely novel, claimed the town of Nantes, as a portion of the inheritance of his brother; he treated the earl of Brittany as an usurper, confiscated the estate of Richmond, and then crossing the sea, came with a large army to compel the citizens of Nantes to acknowledge him as lord, and to reject earl Conan. Incapable of resisting the forces of the king of England, the citizens obeyed against their will; the king placed a garrison within their walls, and occupied all the country between the Loire and the Vilaine.1
Having thus gained a footing on the Breton territory, Henry II. extended his ambition still further, and concluded with the same Conan, from whom he had just taken the town of Nantes, a treaty which threatened the independence of all Brittany. He affianced his youngest son, Geoffroy, eight years of age, to Constance, daughter of Conan, and then five years old.2 In the terms of this treaty, the Breton earl engaged to make the future husband of his daughter heir to his dominions, and the king, in return, guaranteed to Conan possession for life of the earldom of Brittany, promising him aid, succour, and support, towards and against all.3 This treaty, the inevitable result of which would be the extension, at some future day, of the domination of the Anglo-Normans over the whole of Western Gaul, greatly alarmed the king of France; he negotiated with the pope, Alexander III., to engage him to prohibit the union of Geoffroy and Constance, on account of consanguinity; Conan being the grandson of a bastard daughter of Henry the second’s grandfather; but the pope would not recognise this relationship, and the precocious nuptials of the young couple were celebrated in the year 1166.4
Shortly after, a national insurrection broke out in Brittany, against the chief who trafficked with a foreign king in the independence of his country. Conan summoned Henry II. to his assistance, and in the terms of their treaty of alliance, the king’s troops entered Brittany by the Norman frontier, under pretext of defending the legitimate earl of the Bretons against the insurgents.5 Henry gained possession of Dol, and of several smaller towns, in which he placed garrisons. Soon after, half voluntarily, half compulsorily, earl Conan resigned his power into the hands of his protector, allowing him to exercise the administrative authority and to levy tributes throughout Brittany. The timid and feeble waited on the Angevin king in his camp, and, according to the ceremonial of the time, did him homage for their lands; the clergy hastened to compliment, in the Latin tongue, the man who came in the name of God to visit and console Brittany.1 But the divine right of this foreign usurpation was not universally recognised, and the friends of old Brittany, assembling from all its districts, formed against king Henry a sworn confederation for life and death.2
The bond of nationality was already too weak in Brittany for this country to derive from itself sufficient resources for its rebellion. The insurgents accordingly opened a correspondence abroad; they came to an understanding with their neighbours the people of Maine, who, since the reign of William the Bastard, had given a most unwilling obedience to the Norman princes.3 Numbers of Manseaux entered the league sworn in Brittany against the king of England, and all the members of this league adopted as their patron the king of France, the political rival of Henry II., and the most powerful of his competitors. Louis VII. promised assistance to the insurgent Bretons, not from love of their independence, which his predecessors had assailed so fiercely during so many centuries, but through hatred to the king of England, and the desire to acquire for himself in Brittany that supremacy which his enemy might lose there.4 To attain this object at small cost, he contented himself with mere promises to the confederates, leaving upon them all the burden of an enterprise of which he was to share the profits. Speedily attacked by the entire forces of king Henry, the Breton insurgents were defeated, and lost the towns of Vannes, Léon, Auray, and Fougères, their castles, domains, soldiers, wives and daughters, whom the king took for hostages, and whom he amused himself with dishonouring, by seduction or by violence:5 one of them, the daughter of Eudes, viscount de Porrhoët, was his cousin in the second degree.1
About the same time, a distaste for the domination of the king of England became strongly felt by the inhabitants of Aquitaine, more especially by those of Poitou and the Marche de France, who, being the children of a mountainous country, were of a fierce temperament, and were in a better position to carry on a patriotic war.2 Though husband of the daughter of the earl of Poitou, Henry II. was a foreigner to the Poitevins, who ill endured to see officers of foreign race violating or destroying the customs of their country by ordinances drawn up in the Angevin or Norman language. Many of these new magistrates were driven forth, and one of them, a native of Perche, and earl of Salisbury, was killed at Poitiers by the people.3 An extensive conspiracy was formed under the direction of the principal lords and rich men of north Aquitaine, the count De la Marche, the duke d’Angoulême, the viscount De Thouars, the abbot of Charroux, Aymery de Lezinan or Luzignan, Hugh and Robert de Silly.4 The Poitevin conspirators placed themselves, as the Bretons had done, under the patronage of the king of France, who demanded hostages from them, and engaged, in return, not to make peace with king Henry without including them in it;5 but they were crushed, as the Bretons had been, Louis VII. remaining a mere spectator of their war with the Angevin king.
The leading men among them capitulated with the conqueror; the others fled to the territory of the king of France, who, unfortunately for them, began to grow weary of war with king Henry, and to desire a truce. These two princes, after having long laboured to injure each other, at length came to a formal reconciliation in the little town of Montmirail in Perche. It was agreed that the king of France should secure to the other king possession of Brittany, and should give up to him the refugees of that country and of Poitou; that, in return, the king of England should expressly acknowledge himself the vassal and liegeman of the king of France, and that Brittany should be comprehended in the new oath of homage. The two rivals shook hands and embraced cordially; then, in virtue of the new sovereignty which the king of France acknowledged in him over the Bretons, and pursuant to the treaty, Henry II. instituted as duke of Brittany, Anjou, and Maine, his eldest son, who in this quality took the oath of vassalage between the hands and on the lips of the king of France. In this interview the Angevin king gave utterance to sentiments of tenderness, most absurd in their exaggeration, towards a man who, the day before, was his mortal enemy. “I place,” said he, “at your disposal myself, my children, my lands, my forces, my treasures, to use and to abuse, to keep or to give, at your pleasure and good will.” It would seem as though his reason was somewhat deranged by the joy of having the Poitevin and Breton emigrants in his power. King Louis gave them up to him, upon the derisive condition that he should receive them into favour, and restore to them their property.1 Henry promised this, and even gave them publicly the kiss of peace, as a guarantee of this promise, but most of them ended their days in prison or on the scaffold.
The two kings having separated under this appearance of perfect harmony, which, however, was not of long continuance, Henry, the eldest son of the king of England, transferred to his young brother, Geoffroy, the dignity of duke of Brittany, only retaining for himself the earldom of Anjou. Geoffroy did homage to his brother, as the latter had done to the king of France; he then proceeded to Rennes to hold his court, and receive the submission of the lords and knights of the country.2 Thus did the two hereditary enemies of the liberty of the Bretons deprive them, by mutual accord, of the sovereignty of their native land, the Angevin prince making himself immediate lord, the French prince, suzerain lord, and this great revolution took place without apparent violence. Conan, the last earl of pure Breton race, was not deposed, but his name did not again appear in the public acts: thenceforth there was, properly speaking, no longer any nation in Brittany; there was a French party and an Angevin or Norman party, labouring in opposite directions for one or the other power.
The ancient national language, abandoned by all who desired to please either of the two kings, became gradually corrupted in the mouths of the poor and the peasants, who, however, still remained faithful to it, and preserved it, in great measure, for centuries, with the tenacity of memory and of will which characterizes the Celtic race. Despite the desertion of their national chiefs to foreigners, Normans or French, and the public and private servitude which was the result, the populace of Lower Brittany have never ceased to recognise in the nobles of their country the children of the soil. They have never hated them with that violent hatred which was elsewhere borne to the lords, issue of a foreign race; and under the feudal titles of baron and knight, the Breton peasant still saw the tierns and the mactierns of the time of his independence; he obeyed them with zeal in good and in evil, engaged in their intrigues and their political quarrels, often without understanding them, but through habit and that instinct of devotion which the Welsh tribes and the highlanders of Scotland had for their chieftains.
It was not alone the populations contiguous to France, such as the Bretons and Poitevins, which, in their quarrels with the king of England, sought to make common cause with his political rival. After the rupture of the peace of Montmirail, Louis VII. received from a country with which he had before had no relations, and of whose existence he was almost ignorant, a despatch conceived in the following terms:—
“To the most excellent king of the French, Owen, prince of Wales, his liegeman and faithful friend: greeting, obedience, and devotion.
“The war which the king of England had long meditated against me, broke out last summer, without any provocation on my part; but, thanks to God and to you, who occupied his forces elsewhere, he lost more men than I on the fields of battle. In his rage, he has wickedly mutilated the hostages held from me; and retiring, without concluding any peace or truce, he has ordered his men to be ready by next Easter, to march once more against us. I therefore intreat your Clemency to inform me, by the bearer of these presents, if you propose to make war upon him at that period, so that on my part I may serve you, by harassing him as you may desire. Let me know what you would counsel me to do, and also what succours you will give me, for without aid and counsel from you, I fear I shall not be strong enough against our common enemy.”1
This letter was brought by a Welsh priest, who presented it to the king of France in his plenary court. But the king, having scarce in his whole life heard of Wales, suspected the messenger to be an impostor, and would not recognise either him or Owen’s despatch. The latter was accordingly obliged to write a second missive to authenticate the contents of the first: “You did not believe,” said he, “that my letter was really from me; but it was, I affirm, and call God to attest it.”2 The Cambrian chief again styled himself, “faithful servant and vassal of the king of France.” This circumstance is worthy of mention, because it teaches us, not to take literally or without a strict examination, the forms and phrases of the middle ages. The words vassal and lord often, indeed, expressed a real relationship of subordination and dependence, but they were also often a mere form of politeness, especially when the weak sought the alliance of the strong.
The duchy of Aquitaine or of Guienne, as it came to be called, did not extend beyond the eastern limits of the second of the ancient Aquitanian provinces, and thus the towns of Limoges, Cahors, and Toulouse were not comprised in it. This last city, the ancient residence of the Visigoth kings and of the Gallo-Roman chiefs, who after them governed the two Aquitaines combined to resist the Franks, had become the capital of a small separate state, which was called the county of Toulouse. There had been great rivalries in ambition between the counts of Toulouse and the dukes of Guienne, and, on both sides, various attempts to subject to one sole authority all the country between the Rhone, the Ocean, and the Pyrenees. Hence had arisen many disputes, treaties, and alliances, by turns made and unmade, in accordance with the instability natural to the people of the south. Henry II., become duke of Aquitaine, examined the records of these former conventions, and finding among them a sort of pretext for annulling the independence of the county of Toulouse, he advanced troops, and laid siege to the town. Raymond de Saint Gilles, count of Toulouse, raised his banner against him, and the commune of Toulouse, a corporation of free citizens, also raised theirs.1
The common council2 of the city and suburbs (such was the title borne by the municipal government of the Toulousans,) opened, through their chief, negotiations with the king of France to obtain assistance from him. This king marched to Toulouse by Berri, which, for the most part, belonged to him, and through the Limousin, which gave him free passage; he compelled the king of England to raise the siege of the town, and was received in it with great joy by the count and the citizens.3 The latter, collected in a solemn assembly, voted him a letter of acknowledgments, in which they thanked him for having succoured them as a patron and as a father, an expression of affectionate gratitude which implied no acknowledgment of civil or feudal subjection on their part.4
But this habit of imploring the patronage of one king against another became a cause of dependence, and the period when the king of England, as duke of Aquitaine and earl of Poitou, obtained influence over the affairs of the south of Gaul, was, for its inhabitants, the commencement of a new epoch of decay and misfortune. Placed thenceforth between two rival and equally ambitious powers, they attached themselves sometimes to one, sometimes to the other, according to circumstances, by turns supported, abandoned, betrayed, sold by both. From the twelfth century, the Southerns were never well off, except when the kings of France and England were at war: “When will this truce end between the Sterlings and the Tournois?” they cried, in their political songs;5 and their eyes were ever turned towards the north, asking: “What are the two kings about?”6
They detested all foreigners, yet a restless turbulence, a wild passion for novelty and movement, impelled them to seek their alliance, whilst within they were torn by domestic quarrels and petty rivalries between man and man, town and town, province and province. They were vehemently fond of war, not from the ignoble thirst for gain, nor even from the elevated impulse of patriotic devotion, but for that which war presents of the picturesque and poetical; for the excitement, the noise, the display of the battle field; to see the lances glitter in the sun, and to hear the horses neigh in the wind.1 One word from a woman sufficed to send them to a crusade under the banner of the pope, for whom they had small liking, and risk their lives against the Arabs, of all the nations in the world that with which they had most sympathy and moral affinity.2
With this volatility of character, they combined the graces of imagination, a taste for the arts and for refined enjoyments; they were industrious and rich; nature had given them all, all except political prudence and union, as descendants of the same race, as children of one country: their enemies combined to destroy them, but they would not combine to love each other, to defend each other, to make one common cause. They paid a severe penalty for this, in losing their independence, their wealth, and even their learning. Their language, the second Roman language, almost as polished as the first, has, in their own mouths, given place to a foreign tongue, the accentuation of which is repugnant to them, while their natural idiom, that of their liberty and of their glory, that of the noblest poetry of the middle ages, has become the patois of the peasant. But regret for these changes is futile: there are ruins made by time which time will never repair.
[1 ] The charters of the kings of Scotland towards the close of the tenth century were superscribed: N. omnibus per regnum suum Scotis et Anglis salutem. In the twelfth century the form was Omnibus fidelibus Francis, et Anglis et Scotis. (Dugdale, Monast. Anglic. passim.)
[2 ] Caput progeniei. (Ken-Kinneol, Charta Alexandri II. apud Grant, Descent of the Gaels, p. 378.)
[1 ] Charta Thomæ Flemyng, ib. p. 377.
[1 ] Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, i. 81.
[1 ] The pronunciation is the same.
[2 ] Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, iii. 243.—And see Sir Tristrem, edited by the same.
[3 ] Id. Lady of the Lake, notes.—Johan de Fordun, Scoti-Chronicon, (Hearne) lib. ii. p. 79.
[1 ] Johan. de Fordun, Scoti Chronicon, lib. ii. p. 79.
[2 ] Id. ib.
[3 ] Walter Scott, Lord of the Isles, notes.
[1 ] Robertus de Monte, sub. ann. 1166, apud Script. rer. Gallicarum et Francicarum, xvi. 256, in nota ad calc. pag.—Charta Regis Manniæ, apud Dugdale, Monast. Anglic. ii. 427.
[2 ] Insulana sive montana gens—populo Anglorum et linguæ—infesta jugiter et crudelis. (Johan. de Fordun. Scoti-Chron. lib. ii. p. 79.)
[3 ] Habebat rex (Scotorum) secum, qui eum crebro admonitionis calcare—stimulabant, hinc filium Roberti de Bathentona, ejusque collaterales, qui ex Anglia exulati, sub spe recuperandæ patriæ ad illum confugerant—aliosque quam plures qui vel questus gratiâ . . . . (Gesta Stephani regis, apud Script. rer. Normann. p. 939.)
[1 ] Zeloque justitiæ succensus, tum pro communissanguinis cognatione, tum pro fide mulieri repromissa et debita, regnum Angliæ turbare disposuit. (Ib.)
[2 ] Matt. Paris, i. 76.—Henrici Huntind., Hist., lib. viii. apud rer. Anglic. Script. (Savile) p. 388.
[1 ] Coadunatus erat . . . iste exercitus de Normannis, Germanis, Anglis, de Northymbrauis et Cumbris, de Teswetadale et Lodonea, de Pictis, qui vulgo Galleweienses dicuntur, et Scottis. (Ricardus Hagustaldensis, historia, sub ann. 1138 apud Hist. Angl. Script. (Selden) i. col. 316.
[2 ] Walter Scott Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Introduction, p. ii.
[1 ] Formicis Scoticis (Matth. Paris, i. 130.)
[2 ] Henric. Huntind. lib. viii. p. 388.—Matth. Paris, i. 76.—Chron. Normann. apud Script. rer. Norman. p. 977.—Joh. Hagustaldensis, apud Script. rer. Gallic. &c. xiii. 85.
[3 ] Aihed. Rievall., De bello Standardii, apud hist. Angl. Script. (Selden) i. col. 341.
[4 ] Matth. Paris. i. 76.
[1 ] Ib.—Ailred Rievall De bello Stand. ut sup. col. 337.
[2 ] Florent. Rigorni, Chron. continuat. p. 760.
[3 ] Matth. Paris, loc. cit.
[1 ] Ailred. Rievall. ut sup. col. 340.
[2 ] Ib. and col. 341.
[3 ] Ib. col. 343.—Johan. Hagustald., ubi sup. p. 86.
[4 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic. ii. 148.
[5 ] Nova tibi est in Walensibus ista securitas...quasi soli tibi sufficiant Scotti etiam contra Scottos. (lb.,)
[6 ] Ailred. Rievall, ubi sup. col. 344.
[7 ] Ib.
[1 ] Joh. Bromton, Chron. ib. col. 1027.
[2 ] Ipsa globa australis parte instar cassis araneæ dissipata. (Ailred. Rievall. ut sup. col. 345).
[3 ] Johan. Hagulstald., ut sup. p. 86.
[4 ] Jamieson’s Popular Ballads, &c. ii. 97.
[1 ] Gesta Stephani regis, apud Script. rer. Normann. p. 930.—Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., ii. 62.
[2 ] Comminus ut pecudes...occidit...aut indebitæ servituti atrociter subjugavit. (Order. Vitalis, lib. viii. p. 670.)—Ib. p. 768.
[3 ] Gesta Stephani, ut sup. p. 930.
[4 ] Conquestor..dedit ei licentiam conquerendi super Wallenses. (Dugdale, Mon. Anglic. i. 724.)
[5 ] Gesta Stephani regis, loco sup. cit.
[1 ] Cambrian Biography, p. 107, at the word Einion ab Collwynn; and p. 97, at the word Jestyn ab Gwrgaut.
[2 ] Cambrian Biography, p. 197.
[3 ]Ib. p. 198.
[4 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic. i. 556—600.
[5 ] Ib. ii. 904.
[1 ] Invadendæ Cambriæ facultatem concessit . . (Girald. Cambrensis, Itiner. Cambriæ.)
[2 ] Ib.
[3 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., i. 320.
[4 ]Ib. p. 722.
[5 ] Giraldus Cambrensis, De illaudilius Walliæ, cap. viii.; Anglia Sacra, ii. 452.
[1 ] Cambrian Register for 1796, p. 68.
[2 ] Anglia trans Valliana. (Ib. p. 63.)
[3 ] Vetus Charta; ib. p. 124.
[4 ] Cambrian Register for 1796, p. 124.
[5 ] Martinus Turonensis vel de Turribus, dominus de Kemeys. (Ib. 125.)
[6 ]Ib. 158.
[1 ] Ib. 126.
[2 ] Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., i. 444.
[3 ] Consuetam gentis illius...rabiem, effrænatam, insolentem circumquaque discurrendi audaciam et christianæ fidei magnâ ex partê ignorantiam. (Id. ii. 63.)
[4 ] Tantam in moribus eorum perversitatem. (Selden. not. ad Eadmeri Hist. nov. p. 209.)
[5 ] Ib. 116.
[6 ] Historiola de primo statu landavensis ecclesiæ; Anglia Sacra, ii. 673.
[7 ] Ipse enim Godefridus episcopatum suum deseruit...Wallensium infestatione compulsus. (Roger de Hoveden, Annal. pars post., apud Rer. Anglic. Script. Savile, p. 544.)
[1 ] Ex Hist. Eliensi MSS.; Selden, ut sup.
[2 ] Nunc crebro anathemate, nunc propinquorum et aliorum hominum eos cohercens multitudine. (Ib.)
[3 ] Nec minor fuit eorum contra eum rebellio. (Ib.)
[4 ] Religiosi episcopi. (Ib.)
[6 ] Giraldus Cambrensis, Cambriæ Descriptio; Camden, Anglica, Hibernica, &c., p. 888.
[1 ] Pennant, Tour in Wales.
[2 ] Giraldus Cambrensis, ut sup. p. 891.
[3 ] Cambro-Briton, ii. 13.
[4 ]Ib. i. 137.
[5 ] Gesta Stephani Regis, apud. Script. rer. Normann., p. 931. Florent. Wigorn., Chron. Continuat., p. 666.
[1 ] Ordericus Vitalis, Hist. Ecclesiastica, lib. xiii., apud Script. rer. Normann, p. 912.
[2 ] Gervas. Cantuar., Chronic., apud. Hist. Angl. Script. (Selden), col. 1349.
[3 ]Ib. p. 1350.
[4 ]Ib. p. 1340.
[5 ] Florent. Wigorn., Chron. Cont., p. 672.
[1 ]Sac, sache, means a process, a judicial question; lis. quæstio judiciaria tege, teag, bond. See Lye’s Saxon Glossary.
[2 ]Tenser or Tanser, old French, to chastise.
[1 ] Saxon Chronicle, translated by Miss Gurney. For the original, see Appendix, No. I.
[2 ] Ore obdurato, vel cum massâ aliqua illic urgenter impressa, vel cum machiniculâ ad formam asperi freni capistrata et dentata. (Gesta Stephani regis, ut sup. p. 941.)
[1 ] Thomas Eliensis, Hist. Eliensis; Anglia Sacra, i. 620.
[2 ] Petrus Blesensis, Ingulfi Continuat., apud Rer. Anglic. Script., (Gale) i. 117.
[3 ] Considerata...mira et insuperabili loci munitione. (Gesta Steph., p. 949.)
[4 ]Ib. p. 950. Thomas Eliensis, loc. cit.
[5 ] Cemiterium in castelli sustollebatur vallum parentum que et cognatorum corpora, alia semiputrefacta, alia recentissime humata, crudele spectaculum, ab imo...retracta. (Gest. Steph., loc. cit.)
[6 ]Ib. p. 962.
[1 ]Ib. p. 953.
[2 ]Ib. p. 954.
[3 ] Acta Concilii Winton., apud Wilkins, Concilia Magnæ Britann., i. 420.
[4 ] Non ipsis ante se inclinantibus reverenter ut decuit assurgere (Gest. Stephani, p. 954.)
[1 ] Gest. Stephani, p. 954.
[2 ] Se illi supplices obtulerunt. (Ib.)
[3 ] Florent. Wigorn. Continuat., p. 677.
[4 ] Gesta Stephani, loc. sup. cit.
[1 ] Gesta Stephani, loc. sup. cit.
[2 ] Mille cum galeis et loricis ornatissime instructi. (Gesta Stephani, p. 956.)
[1 ] Gesta Stephani, p. 959.
[1 ] Guil. Neubrig., De rebus Anglicis, (Hearne) p. 98.
[2 ] Crudelemque et indomitum pedestris multitudinis, Walensium scilicet, aggregavit exercitum. (Gesta Stephani, p. 965.)
[3 ] Ib. 973. Gervas Cantuar., Chron., ut sup. p. 1366.
[4 ] De turri unde dulces et imbelles audierant tintinnabulorum monitus, nunc balistas erigi. (Gest. Stephani, p. 951.)
[1 ] Chron. Normann., apud Script. rer. Norm., p. 989.
[2 ] Et rex quidem ducem adoptans in filium, eum solemniter successorem proprium declaravit. (Guil. Neubrig., p. 102.)
[3 ] Rex...recognovit...hereditarium jus quod dux Henricus habebat in regno Angliæ, et dux benigne concessit ut rex totá vitâ suâ, si vellet, regnum teneret. (Chron. Normann., ut sup.)
[4 ] Sciatis quod ego Rex Stephanus Henricum ducem Normanniæ post me successorem regni Angliæ, et hæredem meum jure hæreditario constitui, et sic ei et hæredibis suis regnum Angliæ donavi et confirmavi. (Instrumentum pacis; Joh. Bromton, Chron., apud Angliæ Hist. Script., Selden, i. 1037.)
[1 ] Guil. Neubrig., ut sup. p. 105. Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xiv. 11. Nota a, ad calc. pag.
[2 ] Munitiones removet, gentes suas exinde reducit. (Chron. Turon., apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xii. 474.)
[3 ] [Lord Lyttleton, in his Life of Henry II., after reviewing the authorities on this point, arrives at the conclusion that the imputations upon the chastity of Eleanor are unfounded.]
[4 ] Hist. Ludovici, vii., ib. p. 127. Chron. Turon., loc. cit.
[5 ] De Potter, Esprit de l’Eglise, vi. 33.
[6 ] Hist. Ludov., vii., ubi sup.
[7 ] Chron. Turonens., ut sup.
[1 ] Chron. Turonensis, ut sup.
[2 ]Ib.—Guil. Neubrig, p. 105.
[3 ] Chron. Turonens., loc. cit.
[4 ] Gislebertus Hannon., Chron., apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xiii. 565.
[1 ] Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xiii.—xviii. passim.
[2 ] Fredegarius, Chron., ib. ii. 458.
[3 ] Rex Dagobertus Francorum et Romani populi princeps. (Vita S. Martini Vertav., apud Hist. Franc. Script. (Du Chesne), i. 655.
[4 ] Fredegarius, Chron., loc. cit.
[1 ] Script. rer. Gallic. et Franc., v. 6, 7.
[2 ] Tributa vel munera quæ...reges Francorum de Aquitania provinciâ exigere consueverant. (Ib. p. 7.)
[3 ]Leod, lied, liet, leute, people, gens.
[4 ] Sed hoc rex per consilium Francorum...facere contempsit...totam regionem vastavit...cum præda, equitibus, captivis, thesauris, Christo duce... reversus est in Franciam. (Ib. p. 3—7.)
[5 ] Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., v. passim.
[1 ] Nithardus, Hist., lib. ii. cap. viii. apud Script. rer. Gallic., &c., vii. 19, 20.
[2 ] Vaissette, Hist. generale du Languedoc, ii. lib. xi.
[3 ] Hue Chapet. (Chroniques de St. Denis; Rec. des Hist. de la France, x. 303.)
[1 ] Vaissette, ut sup. ii. liv. xii.
[1 ] See Raynouard, Choix des poesies Originales des troubadours, iv. assim.
[2 ] Gervas. Cantuar., Chron. apud Hist. Angl. Script. (Selden), ii. col. 1376.
[3 ] Tempore Stephani ablatoris mei. (Charta Hemici II.) Invasoris. (Joh. Bromton, Chron. col. 1046.)
[1 ] Joh. Bromton, col. 1043.
[2 ] Gervas. Cantuar., ut sup. col. 1377.
[3 ] Radulphus de Diceto, Imag. Hist., apud Hist. Angl. Script. (Selden) i. col. 528.
[4 ] Roger de Hoveden, Annal., pars post., apud Rer. Anglic. Script., (Savile) p. 703.
[1 ] Matth. Paris, i. 92.
[2 ] Ailred Rievall; De Vita Edwardi Confess., apud Hist. Angl. Script., (Selden) i. col. 401.
[1 ] Ailred. Rievall, ut sup. col. 350.
[2 ]Ib. col. 402.
[1 ] Ailred. Rievall., Genealogia reg. Angl, apud Hist. Angl. Script., (Selden) i. 370.
[2 ] Thomas Rudborne, Hist. Major. Winton.; Anglia Sacra, i. 246.
[3 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] Johan. Sarisb., Frag., apud Script. rer Gallic. et Francic., xiv. 12.
[2 ] Robert de Monte, ib. xiii. 299.
[3 ] Guillielm Neubrig, De reb. Angliæ, (Hearne) p. 126.
[4 ] Hoelli cogente inertiâ. (Chron. Britann., apud Script. rer. Gallic et Francic., xii. 560.)
[1 ] Guill Neubrig, ut sup.
[2 ] Chron. Britann., ut sup.
[4 ] Summarium epist. Lombardi ad Alexand. III. papam, apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xvi. 282.
[5 ] Id. ib.
[1 ] Charta, apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xii. 560; in nota, ad calc. paginæ.
[2 ] Robert de Monte, ut sup. 310, 311.
[5 ] Epist. Joh. Sarisb., apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xvi. p. 591.
[1 ] Epist. Joh. Sarisb., apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xvi. p. 591.
[2 ] Robert de Monte, ut sup.
[1 ] Joh. Sarisb. Epist., ut sup. p. 596.
[1 ] Epist. Owini ad Ludovic. VII., apud Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xvi. 117.
[1 ] Script. rer. Gallic. et Francic., xiii. 739.
[2 ] Communis consilii Tolosæ ad Ludovicum Epist., ib. xvi. 69.
[3 ] Script. rer. Gallic., &c., xiii. 739.
[4 ] Quod . . . laboribus nostris et imminentibus periculis more paterno providetis. (Epist. Communis Consilii Tolosæ, ut sup.)
[5 ] Bertrand de Born; Raynouard, Poesies des Troubadours, iv. 264.
[1 ] Guerra m plai. (Ib. 264.)
[2 ]Ib. passim.