The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 5

Part 5 out of 8

pen of a monk of the monastery of Studium, Nicetas Pectoratus, in which
the enforced celibacy of the Western clergy, on which Photius had before
animadverted, was severely criticised. The Cardinal retorted in
intemperate language, and so entirely had the legates secured the
support of Constantine that Nicetas' work was committed to the flames,
and he was forced to recant what he had said against the Roman Church.
But the Patriarch was immovable, and for the moment he occupied a
stronger position than the Emperor, who desired to conciliate him. At
last the patience of the legates was exhausted, and on July 16, 1054,
they proceeded to the Church of St. Sophia, and deposited on the altar,
which was prepared for the celebration of the eucharist, a document
containing a fierce anathema, by which Michael Cerularius and his
adherents were condemned. After their departure they were for a moment
recalled, because the Patriarch expressed a desire to confer with them;
but this Constantine would not permit, fearing some act of violence on
the part of the people. They then finally left Constantinople, and from
that time to the present all communion has been broken off between the
two great branches of Christendom.

The breach thus made was greatly widened at the period of the crusades.
However serious may have been the alienation between the East and West
at the time of their separation, it is clear that the Greeks were not
regarded by the Latins as a mere heretical sect, for one of the primary
objects with which the First Crusade was undertaken was the deliverance
of the Eastern Empire from the attacks of the Mahometans. But the
familiarity which arose from the presence of the crusaders on Greek soil
ripened the seeds of mutual dislike and distrust. As long as
negotiations between the two parties took place at a distance, the
differences, however irreconcilable they might be in principle, did not
necessarily bring them into open antagonism, whereas their more intimate
acquaintance with one another produced personal and national ill-will.
The people of the West now appeared more than ever barbarous and
overbearing, and the Court of Constantinople more than ever senile and
designing. The crafty policy of Alexius Comnenus in transferring his
allies with all speed into Asia, and declining to take the lead in the
expedition, was almost justified by the necessity of delivering his
subjects from these unwelcome visitors and avoiding further
embarrassments. But the iniquitous Fourth Crusade (1204) produced an
ineradicable feeling of animosity in the minds of the Byzantine people.
The memory of the barbarities of that time, when many Greeks died as
martyrs at the stake for their religious convictions, survives at the
present day in various places bordering on the Aegean, in legends which
relate that they were formerly destroyed by the Pope of Rome.

Still, the anxiety of the Eastern emperors to maintain their position by
means of political support from Western Europe brought it to pass that
proposals for reunion were made on several occasions. The final attempt
at reconciliation was made when the Greek empire was reduced to the
direst straits, and its rulers were prepared to purchase the aid of
Western Europe against the Ottomans by almost any sacrifice.
Accordingly, application was made to Pope Eugenius IV, and by him the
representatives of the Eastern Church were invited to attend the council
which was summoned to meet at Ferrara in 1438. The Emperor, John
Palaeologus and the Greek patriarch Joseph proceeded thither.

The Emperor, however, on his return home, soon discovered that his
pilgrimage to the West had been lost labor. Pope Eugenius, indeed,
provided him with two galleys and a guard of three hundred men, equipped
at his own expense, but the hoped-for succors from Western Europe did
not arrive. His own subjects were completely alienated by the betrayal
of their cherished faith; the clergy who favored the union were regarded
as traitors. John Palaeologus himself did not survive to see the final
catastrophe; but Constantinople was captured by the Turks, and the
Empire of the East ceased to exist.


The bonds so often and so painfully knit between the Eastern and Western
churches were destined at last to be completely torn asunder, and the
truth of our Lord's words, "Who is not for Me, is against Me," was again
to be proved. The Greek schism places strikingly before our eyes the
fate of such churches as supinely yield their rights and independence,
and submit willingly to State tyranny. In the year 857 the wicked
Bardas, uncle to the reigning Emperor, who wielded an almost absolute
power and disregarded all laws, human and divine, unjustly banished from
his See, Ignatius, the rightful patriarch of Constantinople, and placed
in his stead the learned, but worthless, Photius. Such bishops as
refused to recognize the intruder (who had received all the orders in
six days from an excommunicated bishop) were deposed, imprisoned and

Photius tried, by cruel ill-treatment, to force the aged Ignatius to
abdicate, and by a well-contrived fabrication endeavored to obtain the
support of Pope Nicholas I. When, however, this great Pope learned the
true facts of the case from the imprisoned Ignatius, he assembled a
synod in Rome in 864, by which Photius and all the bishops whom he had
consecrated were deposed. Fired by ambition, Photius now threw off all
concealments. He summoned the bishops of his own party, laid various
charges against the Roman Church, and in his inconsiderate rage ended by
anathematising the holy Father. Pope Nicholas, in a most powerful
letter, exhorted the Emperor Michael III to set bounds to the disorders
of Photius, warning him that a fearful judgment would await him if the
faithful were misled and so many believers caused to swerve from the
right path. It was not, however, till the reign of his successor that
Photius was banished and the much-tried St. Ignatius restored to his

To remedy the evil brought about by Photius, the eighth general council
was held in Constantinople, at the desire of St. Ignatius and the
Emperor, and presided over by the legates of Pope Adrian. Photius, when
called upon to answer for himself, having nothing to say in his own
defence, excused his silence by the example of our Lord, who also was
silent when accused. The fathers were filled with indignation at this
blasphemous speech, and his guilt having been fully proved, they cried
unanimously: "Anathema on Photius, promoted through court favor!
Anathema to the tyrant Photius, to the inventor of lies, to the new
Judas! Anathema on all his followers and protectors! Everlasting glory
to the most holy Roman Pope Nicholas! Long life to Adrian, the holy
Father in Rome!" At the next sitting of the council, a collection of
spurious and falsified writings, together with the acts of the synod
which Photius had held against Pope Nicholas, and which were filled with
lies and invective and had forged signatures appended to them, were
publicly burned in the church. But hardly had Ignatius died in the year
879, when the crafty Photius, who knew well how to ingratiate himself
with the Emperor, reascended the ill-fated chair and began afresh his
old courses. His rule did not last long. He was again deposed and
banished to a monastery, where he died about the year 891. His death,
however, in nowise healed the wounds which he had inflicted on the
Eastern Church. His party survived him. He had filled most of the Greek
sees with men of his own cast, and had illegally bestowed benefices on
great numbers of priests. These all harbored a deep-seated dislike
towards Rome, and only awaited a favorable opportunity to renew the
breach with her. Thus that sectarian spirit which Photius had kindled
continued to smoulder on like a spark beneath the ashes, and spread
itself wider and wider, as well among the worst sort of the clergy as
among the fickle and discontented population.

It was after all this that the patriarchs of Constantinople attempted to
make themselves fully independent of the West. The splendor of the
imperial city of Byzantium was a constant incitement to their desire for
freedom, and they were certain for the most part of being supported in
their endeavors by the emperors. As early as the time of Pope Gregory
the Great, the patriarch John the Faster had taken on himself the title
of "Oecumenical," or universal bishop, whilst Gregory, in apostolic
humility, chose that of "Servant of the servants of God." It was in the
middle of the eleventh century that a complete separation was
accomplished. The universally recognized precedence of the See of Peter
was intolerable to the ambitious spirit of the patriarch Michael
Cerularius. To aid him in casting off the hated yoke, he circulated,
like Photius, a document in which the Western Church was loaded with
invective and all manner of accusations laid to her charge. The celibacy
of the secular clergy, the use of unleavened bread for the sacrifice,
fasting on Saturdays, the shaving of beards, the omission of the
Alleluia in Lent, were all brought forward as causes of offence. These
complaints were at once answered by Pope St. Leo IX, who tried, in a
most eloquent letter, to bring the deluded patriarch to reason. He
reminded him of the sanctity and inviolability of the unity of Christ's
Church, the folly and presumption of his attempting to direct the
successor of Peter, whom Christ had Himself confirmed in the faith, and
pointed out to him with what ingratitude and contempt he was treating
the Roman Church, the mother and guardian of all the churches. Lastly,
he urged upon the patriarch to set aside all discord and pride, and to
allow divine mercy and peace to prevail instead of strife. But the
paternal words were spoken in vain, and the legates also who were sent
by the Pope to Constantinople were powerless to move the obduracy of the
patriarch. He persistently refused all communication with them by speech
or writing. Having therefore formally laid their complaints in the most
distinct terms before the Emperor and Senate, they proceeded to
extremities. On the 16th of July, 1054, they appeared in the church of
St. Sophia at the beginning of divine service, and declared solemnly
that all their endeavors to re-establish peace and union had been
defeated by Cerularius. They then laid the bull of excommunication on
the high altar and left the church, shaking, as they did so, the dust
from off their feet, and exclaiming in the deepest grief, "God sees it;
He will judge." Thus was the unhappy schism between the East and the
West accomplished.



A.D. 1066


(Toward the end of the reign of Edward the Confessor the claims of three
rival competitors for the English crown were persistently urged. These
claimants were Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, whose claim was based
upon an alleged compact of King Hardicanute with King Magnus, Harald's
predecessor; Duke William of Normandy, and the Saxon Harold, son of
Godwin, Earl of Wessex. This Harold, born about 1022, became Earl of
East Anglia about 1045; was banished with his father by Edward the
Confessor in 1051, and restored with his father in 1052; succeeded his
father as Earl of Wessex in 1053--relinquishing the earldom of East
Anglia--and from 1053 to 1066 was chief minister of Edward.

Harold--probably in 1064--being shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy,
became a guest and virtual prisoner of William, Duke of Normandy, by
whom the Saxon was forced to take an oath that he would marry William's
daughter and assist him in obtaining the crown of England; William then
allowed Harold to return to his country. Upon the death of Edward the
Confessor--January 5, 1066--an assembly of thanes and prelates and
leading citizens of London declared that Harold should be their king.
His accession as Harold II dates from the day after Edward's death.
Harold justified himself on the ground that his oath to William of
Normandy was taken under constraint.

William published his protest against what he called the bad faith of
Harold, and proclaimed his purpose to assert his rights by the sword. He
also obtained the countenance of the Pope, whose authority Harold
refused to recognize. A banner, blessed by the Pope for the invasion of
England, was sent to William from the Holy See, and the clergy of the
Continent upheld his enterprise as being the Cause of God. Thus
supported by the spiritual power, then wielding vast influence, William
proceeded to gather "the most remarkable and formidable armament which
the western nations had witnessed." With this following he entered upon
an undertaking the speedy and complete success of which, in the single
and decisive battle of Hastings, was fruitful in historic results such
as are seldom so traceable to definite causes and events. "No one who
appreciates the influence of England and her empire upon the destinies
of the world will ever rank that victory as one of secondary

All the adventurous spirits of Christendom flocked to the holy banner,
under which Duke William, the most renowned knight and sagest general of
the age, promised to lead them to glory and wealth in the fair domains
of England. His army was filled with the chivalry of Continental Europe,
all eager to save their souls by fighting at the Pope's bidding, eager
to signalize their valor in so great an enterprise, and eager also for
the pay and the plunder which William liberally promised. But the
Normans themselves were the pith and the flower of the army, and William
himself was the strongest, the sagest, and the fiercest spirit of them

Throughout the spring and summer of 1066 all the seaports of Normandy,
Picardy, and Brittany rang with the busy sound of preparation. On the
opposite side of the Channel King Harold collected the army and the
fleet with which he hoped to crush the southern invaders. But the
unexpected attack of King Harald Hardrada of Norway upon another part of
England disconcerted the skilful measures which the Saxon had taken
against the menacing armada of Duke William.

Harold's renegade brother, Earl Tostig, had excited the Norse King to
this enterprise, the importance of which has naturally been eclipsed by
the superior interest attached to the victorious expedition of Duke
William, but which was on a scale of grandeur which the Scandinavian
ports had rarely, if ever, before witnessed. Hardrada's fleet consisted
of two hundred warships and three hundred other vessels, and all the
best warriors of Norway were in his host. He sailed first to the
Orkneys, where many of the islanders joined him, and then to Yorkshire.
After a severe conflict near York he completely routed Earls Edwin and
Morcar, the governors of Northumbria. The city of York opened its gates,
and all the country, from the Tyne to the Humber, submitted to him.

The tidings of the defeat of Edwin and Morcar compelled Harold to leave
his position on the southern coast and move instantly against the
Norwegians. By a remarkably rapid march he reached Yorkshire in four
days, and took the Norse King and his confederates by surprise.
Nevertheless, the battle which ensued, and which was fought near
Stamford Bridge, was desperate, and was long doubtful. Unable to break
the ranks of the Norwegian phalanx by force, Harold at length tempted
them to quit their close order by a pretended flight. Then the English
columns burst in among them, and a carnage ensued the extent of which
may be judged of by the exhaustion and inactivity of Norway for a
quarter of a century afterward. King Harald Hardrada and all the flower
of his nobility perished on the 25th of September, 1066, at Stamford
Bridge, a battle which was a Flodden to Norway.

Harold's victory was splendid; but he had bought it dearly by the fall
of many of his best officers and men, and still more dearly by the
opportunity which Duke William had gained of effecting an unopposed
landing on the Sussex coast. The whole of William's shipping had
assembled at the mouth of the Dive, a little river between the Seine and
the Orne, as early as the middle of August. The army which he had
collected amounted to fifty thousand knights and ten thousand soldiers
of inferior degree. Many of the knights were mounted, but many must have
served on foot, as it is hardly possible to believe that William could
have found transports for the conveyance of fifty thousand war-horses
across the Channel.

For a long time the winds were adverse, and the Duke employed the
interval that passed before he could set sail in completing the
organization in and improving the discipline of his army, which he seems
to have brought into the same state of perfection as was seven centuries
and a half afterward the boast of another army assembled on the same
coast, and which Napoleon designed for a similar descent upon England.

It was not till the approach of the equinox that the wind veered from
the northeast to the west, and gave the Normans an opportunity of
quitting the weary shores of the Dive. They eagerly embarked and set
sail, but the wind soon freshened to a gale, and drove them along the
French coast to St. Valery, where the greater part of them found
shelter; but many of their vessels were wrecked, and the whole coast of
Normandy was strewn with the bodies of the drowned.

William's army began to grow discouraged and averse to the enterprise,
which the very elements thus seemed to fight against; though, in
reality, the northeast wind, which had cooped them so long at the mouth
of the Dive, and the western gale, which had forced them into St.
Valery, were the best possible friends to the invaders. They prevented
the Normans from crossing the Channel until the Saxon King and his army
of defence had been called away from the Sussex coast to encounter
Harald Hardrada in Yorkshire; and also until a formidable English fleet,
which by King Harold's orders had been cruising in the Channel to
intercept the Normans, had been obliged to disperse temporarily for the
purpose of refitting and taking in fresh stores of provisions.

Duke William used every expedient to reanimate the drooping spirits of
his men at St. Valery; and at last he caused the body of the patron
saint of the place to be exhumed and carried in solemn procession, while
the whole assemblage of soldiers, mariners, and appurtenant priests
implored the saint's intercession for a change of wind. That very night
the wind veered, and enabled the mediaeval Agamemnon to quit his Aulis.

With full sails, and a following southern breeze, the Norman armada left
the French shores and steered for England. The invaders crossed an
undefended sea, and found an undefended coast. It was in Pevensey Bay,
in Sussex, at Bulverhithe, between the castle of Pevensey and Hastings,
that the last conquerors of this island landed on the 29th of September,

Harold was at York, rejoicing over his recent victory, which had
delivered England from her ancient Scandinavian foes, and resettling the
government of the counties which Harald Hardrada had overrun, when the
tidings reached him that Duke William of Normandy and his host had
landed on the Sussex shore. Harold instantly hurried southward to meet
this long-expected enemy. The severe loss which his army had sustained
in the battle with the Norwegians must have made it impossible for many
of his veteran troops to accompany him in his forced march to London,
and thence to Sussex. He halted at the capital only six days, and during
that time gave orders for collecting forces from the southern and
midland counties, and also directed his fleet to reassemble off the
Sussex coast. Harold was well received in London, and his summons to
arms was promptly obeyed by citizen, by thane, by socman, and by ceorl,
for he had shown himself, during his brief reign, a just and wise king,
affable to all men, active for the good of his country, and, in the
words of the old historian, sparing himself from no fatigue by land or
by sea. He might have gathered a much more numerous army than that of
William; but his recent victory had made him overconfident, and he was
irritated by the reports of the country being ravaged by the invaders.
As soon, therefore, as he had collected a small army in London he
marched off toward the coast, pressing forward as rapidly as his men
could traverse Surrey and Sussex, in the hope of taking the Normans
unawares, as he had recently, by a similar forced march, succeeded in
surprising the Norwegians. But he had now to deal with a foe equally
brave with Harald Hardrada and far more skilful and wary.

The old Norman chroniclers describe the preparations of William on his
landing with a graphic vigor, which would be wholly lost by transfusing
their racy Norman couplets and terse Latin prose into the current style
of modern history. It is best to follow them closely, though at the
expense of much quaintness and occasional uncouthness of expression.
They tell us how Duke William's own ship was the first of the Norman
fleet. It was called the _Mora_, and was the gift of his duchess
Matilda. On the head of the ship, in the front, which mariners call the
prow, there was a brazen child bearing an arrow with a bended bow. His
face was turned toward England, and thither he looked, as though he was
about to shoot. The breeze became soft and sweet, and the sea was smooth
for their landing. The ships ran on dry land, and each ranged by the
other's side. There you might see the good sailors, the sergeants, and
squires sally forth and unload the ships; cast the anchors, haul the
ropes, bear out shields and saddles, and land the war-horses and the
palfreys. The archers came forth and touched land the first, each with
his bow strung, and with his quiver full of arrows slung at his side.
All were shaven and shorn; and all clad in short garments, ready to
attack, to shoot, to wheel about and skirmish. All stood well equipped
and of good courage for the fight; and they scoured the whole shore, but
found not an armed man there. After the archers had thus gone forth, the
knights landed all armed, with their hauberks on, their shields slung at
their necks, and their helmets laced. They formed together on the shore,
each armed and mounted on his war-horse; all had their swords girded on,
and rode forward into the country with their lances raised. Then the
carpenters landed, who had great axes in their hands, and planes and
adzes hung at their sides. They took counsel together, and sought for a
good spot to place a castle on. They had brought with them in the fleet
three wooden castles from Normandy in pieces, all ready for framing
together, and they took the materials of one of these out of the ships,
all shaped and pierced to receive the pins which they had brought cut
and ready in large barrels; and before evening had set in they had
finished a good fort on the English ground, and there they placed their
stores. All then ate and drank enough, and were right glad that they
were ashore.

When Duke William himself landed, as he stepped on the shore he slipped
and fell forward upon his two hands. Forthwith all raised a loud cry of
distress. "An evil sign," said they, "is here." But he cried out
lustily: "See, my lords, by the splendor of God,[26] I have taken
possession of England with both my hands. It is now mine, and what is
mine is yours."

[Footnote 26: William's customary oath.]

The next day they marched along the sea-shore to Hastings. Near that
place the Duke fortified a camp, and set up the two other wooden
castles. The foragers, and those who looked out for booty, seized all
the clothing and provisions they could find, lest what had been brought
by the ships should fail them. And the English were to be seen fleeing
before them, driving off their cattle, and quitting their houses. Many
took shelter in burying-places, and even there they were in grievous

Besides the marauders from the Norman camp, strong bodies of cavalry
were detached by William into the country, and these, when Harold and
his army made their rapid march from London southward, fell back in good
order upon the main body of the Normans, and reported that the Saxon
King was rushing on like a madman. But Harold, when he found that his
hopes of surprising his adversary were vain, changed his tactics, and
halted about seven miles from the Norman lines. He sent some spies, who
spoke the French language, to examine the number and preparations of the
enemy, who, on their return, related with astonishment that there were
more priests in William's camp than there were fighting men in the
English army. They had mistaken for priests all the Norman soldiers who
had short hair and shaven chins, for the English laymen were then
accustomed to wear long hair and mustaches. Harold, who knew the Norman
usages, smiled at their words, and said, "Those whom you have seen in
such numbers are not priests, but stout soldiers, as they will soon make
us feel."

Harold's army was far inferior in number to that of the Normans, and
some of his captains advised him to retreat upon London and lay waste
the country, so as to starve down the strength of the invaders. The
policy thus recommended was unquestionably the wisest, for the Saxon
fleet had now reassembled, and intercepted all William's communications
with Normandy; and as soon as his stores of provisions were exhausted,
he must have moved forward upon London, where Harold, at the head of the
full military strength of the kingdom, could have defied his assault,
and probably might have witnessed his rival's destruction by famine and
disease, without having to strike a single blow. But Harold's bold blood
was up, and his kindly heart could not endure to inflict on the South
Saxon subjects even the temporary misery of wasting the country. "He
would not burn houses and villages, neither would he take away the
substance, of his people."

Harold's brothers, Gurth and Leofwine, were with him in the camp, and
Gurth endeavored to persuade him to absent himself from the battle. The
incident shows how well devised had been William's scheme of binding
Harold by the oath on the holy relics.

"My brother," said the young Saxon prince, "thou canst not deny that
either by force or free will thou hast made Duke William an oath on the
bodies of saints. Why then risk thyself in the battle with a perjury
upon thee? To us, who have sworn nothing, this is a holy and a just war,
for we are fighting for our country. Leave us then alone to fight this
battle, and he who has the right will win."

Harold replied that he would not look on while others risked their lives
for him. Men would hold him a coward, and blame him for sending his best
friends where he dared not go himself. He resolved, therefore, to fight,
and to fight in person; but he was still too good a general to be the
assailant in the action; and he posted his army with great skill along a
ridge of rising ground which opened southward, and was covered on the
back by an extensive wood. He strengthened his position by a palisade of
stakes and osier hurdles, and there he said he would defend himself
against whoever should seek him.

The ruins of Battle Abbey at this hour attest the place where Harold's
army was posted; and the high altar of the abbey stood on the very spot
where Harold's own standard was planted during the fight, and where the
carnage was the thickest. Immediately after his victory William vowed to
build an abbey on the site; and a fair and stately pile soon rose there,
where for many ages the monks prayed and said masses for the souls of
those who were slain in the battle, whence the abbey took its name.
Before that time the place was called Senlac. Little of the ancient
edifice now remains; but it is easy to trace in the park and the
neighborhood the scenes of the chief incidents in the action; and it is
impossible to deny the generalship shown by Harold in stationing his
men, especially when we bear in mind that he was deficient in cavalry,
the arm in which his adversary's main strength consisted.

William's only chance of safety lay in bringing on a general engagement;
and he joyfully advanced his army from their camp on the hill over
Hastings, nearer to the Saxon position. But he neglected no means of
weakening his opponent, and renewed his summonses and demands on Harold
with an ostentatious air of sanctity and moderation.

"A monk, named Hugues Maigrot, came in William's name to call upon the
Saxon King to do one of three things--either to resign his royalty in
favor of William, or to refer it to the arbitration of the pope to
decide which of the two ought to be king, or let it be determined by the
issue of a single combat. Harold abruptly replied, 'I will not resign my
title, I will not refer it to the pope, nor will I accept the single
combat.' He was far from being deficient in bravery; but he was no more
at liberty to stake the crown which he had received from a whole people
in the chance of a duel than to deposit it in the hands of an Italian
priest. William, not at all ruffled by the Saxon's refusal, but steadily
pursuing the course of his calculated measures, sent the Norman monk
again, after giving him these instructions: 'Go and tell Harold that if
he will keep his former compact with me, I will leave to him all the
country which is beyond the Humber, and will give his brother Gurth all
the lands which Godwin held. If he still persist in refusing my offers,
then thou shalt tell him, before all his people, that he is a perjurer
and a liar; that he and all who shall support him are excommunicated by
the mouth of the Pope, and that the bull to that effect is in my hands.'

"Hugues Maigrot delivered this message in a solemn tone; and the Norman
chronicle says that at the word _excommunication_ the English chiefs
looked at one another as if some great danger were impending. One of
them then spoke as follows: 'We must fight, whatever may be the danger
to us; for what we have to consider is not whether we shall accept and
receive a new lord, as if our king were dead; the case is quite
otherwise. The Norman has given our lands to his captains, to his
knights, to all his people, the greater part of whom have already done
homage to him for them: they will all look for their gift if their duke
become our king; and he himself is bound to deliver up to them our
goods, our wives, and our daughters: all is promised to them beforehand.
They come, not only to ruin us, but to ruin our descendants also, and to
take from us the country of our ancestors. And what shall we do--whither
shall we go, when we have no longer a country?' The English promised, by
a unanimous oath, to make neither peace nor truce nor treaty with the
invader, but to die or drive away the Normans."

The 13th of October was occupied in these negotiations, and at night the
Duke announced to his men that the next day would be the day of battle.
That night is said to have been passed by the two armies in very
different manners. The Saxon soldiers spent it in joviality, singing
their national songs, and draining huge horns of ale and wine round
their campfires. The Normans, when they had looked to their arms and
horses, confessed themselves to the priests, with whom their camp was
thronged, and received the sacrament by thousands at a time.

On Saturday, the 14th of October, was fought the great battle.

It is not difficult to compose a narrative of its principal incidents
from the historical information which we possess, especially if aided by
an examination of the ground. But it is far better to adopt the
spirit-stirring words of the old chroniclers, who wrote while the
recollections of the battle were yet fresh, and while the feelings and
prejudices of the combatants yet glowed in the bosoms of living men.

Robert Wace, the Norman poet, who presented his _Roman de Rou_ to Henry
II, is the most picturesque and animated of the old writers, and from
him we can obtain a more vivid and full description of the conflict than
even the most brilliant romance-writer of the present time can supply.
We have also an antique memorial of the battle more to be relied on than
either chronicler or poet (and which confirms Wace's narrative
remarkably) in the celebrated Bayeux tapestry, which represents the
principal scenes of Duke William's expedition and of the circumstances
connected with it, in minute though occasionally grotesque details, and
which was undoubtedly the production of the same age in which the battle
took place, whether we admit or reject the legend that Queen Matilda and
the ladies of her court wrought it with their own hands in honor of the
royal Conqueror.

Let us therefore suffer the old Norman chronicler to transport our
imaginations to the fair Sussex scenery northwest of Hastings, as it
appeared on that October morning. The Norman host is pouring forth from
its tents, and each troop and each company is forming fast under the
banner of its leader. The masses have been sung, which were finished
betimes in the morning; the barons have all assembled round Duke
William; and the Duke has ordered that the army shall be formed in three
divisions, so as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in three

The Duke stood on a hill where he could best see his men; the barons
surrounded him, and he spake to them proudly. He told them how he
trusted them, and how all that he gained should be theirs, and how sure
he felt of conquest, for in all the world there was not so brave an army
or such good men and true as were then forming around him. Then they
cheered him in turn, and cried out: "'You will not see one coward; none
here will fear to die for love of you, if need be.' And he answered
them: 'I thank you well. For God's sake, spare not; strike hard at the
beginning; stay not to take spoil; all the booty shall be in common, and
there will be plenty for everyone. There will be no safety in asking
quarter or in flight; the English will never love or spare a Norman.
Felons they were, and felons they are; false they were, and false they
will be. Show no weakness toward them, for they will have no pity on
you; neither the coward for running well, nor the bold man for smiting
well, will be the better liked by the English, nor will any be the more
spared on either account. You may fly to the sea, but you can fly no
farther; you will find neither ships nor bridge there; there will be no
sailors to receive you, and the English will overtake you there and slay
you in your shame. More of you will die in flight than in battle. Then,
as flight will not secure you, fight and you will conquer. I have no
doubt of the victory; we are come for glory; the victory is in our
hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we so please.'

"As the Duke was speaking thus and would yet have spoken more, William
Fitzosbern rode up with his horse all coated with iron. 'Sire,' said he,
'we tarry here too long; let us all arm ourselves. _Allons! allons!_'

"Then all went to their tents and armed themselves as they best might;
and the Duke was very busy, giving everyone his orders; and he was
courteous to all the vassals, giving away many arms and horses to them.
When he prepared to arm himself, he called first for his hauberk, and a
man brought it on his arm and placed it before him, but in putting his
head in, to get it on, he unawares turned it the wrong way, with the
back part in front. He soon changed it; but when he saw that those who
stood by were sorely alarmed, he said: 'I have seen many a man who if
such a thing had happened to him would not have borne arms or entered
the field the same day; but I never believed in omens, and I never will.
I trust in God, for he does in all things his pleasure, and ordains what
is to come to pass according to his will. I have never liked
fortune-tellers, nor believed in diviners, but I commend myself to Our
Lady. Let not this mischance give you trouble. The hauberk which was
turned wrong, and then set right by me, signifies that a change will
arise out of the matter which we are now stirring. You shall see the
name of duke changed into king. Yea, a king shall I be, who hitherto
have been but duke.'

"Then he crossed himself, and straightway took his hauberk, stooped his
head and put it on aright, and laced his helmet, and girt on his sword,
which a varlet brought him. Then the Duke called for his good horse--a
better could not be found. It had been sent him by a king of Spain, out
of very great friendship. Neither arms nor the press of fighting men did
it fear if its lord spurred it on. Walter Giffard brought it. The Duke
stretched out his hand, took the reins, put foot in stirrup, and
mounted, and the good horse pawed, pranced, reared himself up, and

"The Viscount of Toarz saw how the Duke bore himself in arms and said to
his people that were around him: 'Never have I seen a man so fairly
armed, nor one who rode so gallantly, or bore his arms or became his
hauberk so well; neither any one who bore his lance so gracefully or sat
his horse and managed him so nobly. There is no such knight under
heaven! a fair count he is, and fair king he will be. Let him fight and
he shall overcome; shame be to the man who shall fail him!'

"Then the Duke called for the standard which the Pope had sent him, and,
he who bore it having unfolded it, the Duke took it and called to Raoul
de Conches. 'Bear my standard,' said he, 'for I would not but do you
right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard-bearers of
Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.' But Raoul said that
he would serve the Duke that day in other guise, and would fight the
English with his hand as long as life should last.

"Then the Duke bade Walter Giffard bear the standard. But he was old and
white-headed, and bade the Duke give the standard to some younger and
stronger man to carry. Then the Duke said fiercely, 'By the splendor of
God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great
need.' 'Sire,' said Giffart, 'not so! we have done no treason, nor do I
refuse from any felony toward you; but I have to lead a great chivalry,
both hired men and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of
serving you as I now have; and, if God please, I will serve you; if need
be I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.'

"'By my faith,' quoth the Duke, 'I always loved thee, and now I love
thee more; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all
thy days.' Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised,
Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To
him he delivered the standard; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully,
and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly and with good
heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their
inheritance on this account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold
their inheritance forever.

"William sat on his war-horse, and called out Rogier, whom they call De
Montgomeri. 'I rely much on you,' said he; 'lead your men thitherward
and attack them from that side. William, the son of Osbern the
seneschal, a right good vassal, shall go with you and help in the
attack, and you shall have the men of Boilogne and Poix and all my
soldiers. Alain Fergert and Ameri shall attack on the other side; they
shall lead the Poitevins and the Bretons and all the barons of Maine;
and I, with my own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in the
middle throng, where the battle shall be the hottest.'

"The barons and knights and men-at-arms were all now armed; the
foot-soldiers were well equipped, each bearing bow and sword; on their
heads were caps, and to their feet were bound buskins. Some had good
hides which they had bound round their bodies; and many were clad in
frocks, and had quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights had
hauberks and swords, boots of steel, and shining helmets; shields at
their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their cognizances,
so that each might know his fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman,
nor Frenchman kill his countryman by mistake. Those on foot led the way,
with serried ranks, bearing their bows. The knights rode next,
supporting the archers from behind. Thus both horse and foot kept their
course and order of march as they began, in close ranks at a gentle
pace, that the one might not pass or separate from the other. All went
firmly and compactly, bearing themselves gallantly.

"Harold had summoned his men, earls, barons, and vavasors, from the
castles and the cities, from the ports, the villages and boroughs. The
peasants were also called together from the villages, bearing such arms
as they found; clubs and great picks, iron forks and stakes. The English
had enclosed the place where Harold was with his friends and the barons
of the country whom he had summoned and called together.

"Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, of Hertfort, and
of Essesse; those of Suree and Susesse, of St. Edmund and Sufoc; of
Norwis and Norfoc; of Cantorbierre and Stanfort, Bedefort and Hundetone.
The men of Northanton also came; and those of Eurowic and Bokinkeham, of
Bed and Notinkeham, Lindesie and Nichole. There came also from the west
all who heard the summons; and very many were to be seen coming from
Salebiere and Dorset, from Bat and from Sumerset. Many came, too, from
about Glocestre, and many from Wirecestre, from Wincestre, Hontesire and
Brichesire; and many more from other counties that we have not named,
and cannot, indeed, recount. All who could bear arms, and had learned
the news of the Duke's arrival, came to defend the land. But none came
from beyond Humbre, for they had other business upon their hands, the
Danes and Tosti having much damaged and weakened them.

"Harold knew that the Normans would come and attack him hand to hand, so
he had early enclosed the field in which he had placed his men. He made
them arm early and range themselves for the battle, he himself having
put on arms and equipments that became such a lord. The Duke, he said,
ought to seek him, as he wanted to conquer England; and it became him to
abide the attack who had to defend the land. He commanded the people,
and counselled his barons to keep themselves all together and defend
themselves in a body, for if they once separated, they would with
difficulty recover themselves. 'The Normans,' said he, 'are good
vassals, valiant on foot and on horseback; good knights are they on
horseback and well used to battle; all is lost if they once penetrate
our ranks. They have brought long lances and swords, but you have
pointed lances and keen-edged bills; and I do not expect that their arms
can stand against yours. Cleave whenever you can; it will be ill done if
you spare aught.'

"The English had built up a fence before them with their shields and
with ash and other wood, and had well joined and wattled in the whole
work, so as not to leave even a crevice; and thus they had a barricade
in their front through which any Norman who would attack them must first
pass. Being covered in this way by their shields and barricades, their
aim was to defend themselves; and if they had remained steady for that
purpose, they would not have been conquered that day; for every Norman
who made his way in lost his life in dishonor, either by hatchet or
bill, by club or other weapon.

"They wore short and close hauberks, and helmets that hung over their
garments. King Harold issued orders, and made proclamation round, that
all should be ranged with their faces toward the enemy, and that no one
should move from where he was, so that whoever came might find them
ready; and that whatever anyone, be he Norman or other, should do, each
should do his best to defend his own place. Then he ordered the men of
Kent to go where the Normans were likely to make the attack; for they
say that the men of Kent are entitled to strike first; and that whenever
the king goes to battle, the first blow belongs to them. The right of
the men of London is to guard the king's body, to place themselves
around him, and to guard his standard; and they were accordingly placed
by the standard to watch and defend it.

"When Harold had made all ready, and given his orders, he came into the
midst of the English and dismounted by the side of the standard;
Leofwine and Gurth, his brothers, were with him; and around him he had
barons enough, as he stood by his standard, which was, in truth, a noble
one, sparkling with gold and precious stones. After the victory William
sent it to the Pope, to prove and commemorate his great conquest and
glory. The English stood in close ranks, ready and eager for the fight;
and they, moreover, made a fosse, which went across the field, guarding
one side of their army.

"Meanwhile the Normans appeared advancing over the ridge of a rising
ground, and the first division of their troops moved onward along the
hill and across a valley. And presently another division, still larger,
came in sight, close following upon the first, and they were led toward
another part of the field, forming together as the first body had done.
And while Harold saw and examined them, and was pointing them out to
Gurth, a fresh company came in sight, covering all the plain; and in the
midst of them was raised the standard that came from Rome.

"Near it was the Duke, and the best men and greatest strength of the
army were there. The good knights, the good vassals, and brave warriors
were there; and there were gathered together the gentle barons, the good
archers, and the men-at-arms, whose duty it was to guard the Duke, and
range themselves around him. The youths and common herd of the camp,
whose business was not to join in the battle, but to take care of the
harness and stores, moved off toward a rising ground. The priests and
the clerks also ascended a hill, there to offer up prayers to God, and
watch the event of the battle.

"The English stood firm on foot in close ranks, and carried themselves
right boldly. Each man had his hauberk on, with his sword girt, and his
shield at his neck. Great hatchets were also slung at their necks, with
which they expected to strike heavy blows.

"The Normans brought on the three divisions of their army to attack at
different places. They set out in three companies, and in three
companies did they fight. The first and second had come up, and then
advanced the third, which was the greatest; with that came the Duke with
his own men, and all moved boldly forward.

"As soon as the two armies were in full view of each other, great noise
and tumult arose. You might hear the sound of many trumpets, of bugles,
and of horns; and then you might see men ranging themselves in line,
lifting their shields, raising their lances, bending their bows,
handling their arrows, ready for assault and defence.

"The English stood steady to their post, the Normans still moved on; and
when they drew near, the English were to be seen stirring to and fro;
were going and coming; troops ranging themselves in order; some with
their color rising, others turning pale; some making ready their arms,
others raising their shields; the brave man rousing himself to fight,
the coward trembling at the approach of danger.

"Then Taillefer, who sang right well, rode, mounted on a swift horse,
before the Duke, singing of Charlemagne and of Roland, of Oliver, and
the peers who died in Roncesvalles. And when they drew nigh to the

"'A boon, sire!' cried Taillefer; 'I have long served you, and you owe
me for all such service. To-day, so please you, you shall repay it. I
ask as my guerdon, and beseech you for it earnestly, that you will allow
me to strike the first blow in the battle!' And the Duke answered, 'I
grant it.'

"Then Taillefer put his horse to a gallop, charging before all the rest,
and struck an Englishman dead, driving his lance below the breast into
his body, and stretching him upon the ground. Then he drew his sword,
and struck another, crying out, 'Come on, come on! What do ye, sirs? lay
on, lay on!' At the second blow he struck the English pushed forward,
and surrounded, and slew him. Forthwith arose the noise and cry of war,
and on either side the people put themselves in motion.

"The Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended
themselves well. Some were striking, others urging onward; all were bold
and cast aside fear. And now, behold, that battle was gathered whereof
the fame is yet mighty.

"Loud and far resounded the bray of the horns and the shocks of the
lances, the mighty strokes of maces and the quick clashing of swords.
One while the Englishmen rushed on, another while they fell back; one
while the men from over sea charged onward, and again at other times
retreated. The Normans shouted, '_Dex Aie_,' the English people, 'Out.'
Then came the cunning manoeuvres, the rude shocks and strokes of the
lance and blows of the swords, among the sergeants and soldiers, both
English and Norman.

"When the English fall, the Normans shout. Each side taunts and defies
the other, yet neither knoweth what the other saith; and the Normans say
the English bark, because they understand not their speech.

"Some wax strong, others weak: the brave exult, but the cowards tremble,
as men who are sore dismayed. The Normans press on the assault, and the
English defend their post well; they pierce the hauberks and cleave the
shields, receive and return mighty blows. Again, some press forward,
others yield; and thus, in various ways, the struggle proceeds. In the
plain was a fosse, which the Normans had now behind them, having passed
it in the fight without regarding it. But the English charged and drove
the Normans before them till they made them fall back upon this fosse,
overthrowing into it horses and men. Many were to be seen falling
therein, rolling one over the others, with their faces to the earth, and
unable to rise. Many of the English also, whom the Normans drew down
along with them, died there. At no time during the day's battle did so
many Normans die as perished in that fosse. So those said who saw the

"The varlets who were set to guard the harness began to abandon it as
they saw the loss of the Frenchmen when thrown back upon the fosse
without power to recover themselves. Being greatly alarmed at seeing the
difficulty in restoring order, they began to quit the harness, and
sought around, not knowing where to find shelter. Then Duke William's
brother, Odo, the good priest, the Bishop of Bayeux, galloped up and
said to them: 'Stand fast! stand fast! be quiet and move not! fear
nothing; for, if God please, we shall conquer yet.' So they took courage
and rested where they were; and Odo returned galloping back to where the
battle was most fierce, and was of great service on that day. He had put
a hauberk on over a white aube, wide in the body, with the sleeve tight,
and sat on a white horse, so that all might recognize him. In his hand
he held a mace, and wherever he saw most need he held up and stationed
the knights, and often urged them on to assault and strike the enemy.

"From nine o'clock in the morning, when the combat began, till three
o'clock came, the battle was up and down, this way and that, and no one
knew who would conquer and win the land. Both sides stood so firm and
fought so well that no one could guess which would prevail. The Norman
archers with their bows shot thickly upon the English; but they covered
themselves with their shields, so that the arrows could not reach their
bodies nor do any mischief, how true so ever was their aim or however
well they shot. Then the Normans determined to shoot their arrows upward
into the air, so that they might fall on their enemies' heads and strike
their faces. The archers adopted this scheme and shot up into the air
toward the English; and the arrows, in falling, struck their heads and
faces and put out the eyes of many; and all feared to open their eyes or
leave their faces unguarded.

"The arrows now flew thicker than rain before the wind; fast sped the
shafts that the English call 'wibetes.' Then it was that an arrow, that
had been thus shot upward, struck Harold above his right eye, and put it
out. In his agony he drew the arrow and threw it away, breaking it with
his hands; and the pain to his head was so great that he leaned upon his
shield. So the English were wont to say, and still say to the French,
that the arrow was well shot which was so sent up against their King,
and that the archer won them great glory who thus put out Harold's eye.

"The Normans saw that the English defended themselves well, and were so
strong in their position that they could do little against them. So they
consulted together privily, and arranged to draw off, and pretend to
flee, till the English should pursue and scatter themselves over the
field; for they saw that if they could once get their enemies to break
their ranks, they might be attacked and discomfited much more easily. As
they had said, so they did. The Normans by little and little fled, the
English following them. As the one fell back, the other pressed after;
and when the Frenchmen retreated, the English thought and cried out that
the men of France fled and would never return.

"Thus they were deceived by the pretended flight, and great mischief
thereby befell them; for if they had not moved from their position, it
is not likely that they would have been conquered at all; but, like
fools, they broke their lines and pursued.

"The Normans were to be seen following up their stratagem, retreating
slowly so as to draw the English farther on. As they still flee, the
English pursue; they push out their lances and stretch forth their
hatchets, following the Normans as they go, rejoicing in the success of
their scheme, and scattering themselves over the plain. And the English
meantime jeered and insulted their foes with words. 'Cowards,' they
cried, 'you came hither in an evil hour, wanting our lands and seeking
to seize our property; fools that ye were to come! Normandy is too far
off, and you will not easily reach it. It is of little use to run back;
unless you can cross the sea at a leap or can drink it dry, your sons
and daughters are lost to you.'

"The Normans bore it all; but, in fact, they knew not what the English
said: their language seemed like the baying of dogs, which they could
not understand. At length they stopped and turned round, determined to
recover their ranks; and the barons might be heard crying, '_Dex Aie_!'
for a halt. Then the Normans resumed their former position, turning
their faces toward the enemy; and their men were to be seen facing round
and rushing onward to a fresh _melee_, the one party assaulting the
other; this man striking, another pressing onward. One hits, another
misses; one flies, another pursues; one is aiming a stroke, while
another discharges his blow. Norman strives with Englishman again, and
aims his blows afresh. One flies, another pursues swiftly: the
combatants are many, the plain wide, the battle and the _melee_ fierce.
On every hand they fight hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle
becomes fierce.

"The Normans were playing their part well, when an English knight came
rushing up, having in his company a hundred men furnished with various
arms. He wielded a northern hatchet with the blade a full foot long, and
was well armed after his manner, being tall, bold, and of noble
carriage. In the front of the battle, where the Normans thronged most,
he came bounding on swifter than the stag, many Normans falling before
him and his company.

"He rushed straight upon a Norman who was armed and riding on a
war-horse, and tried with his hatchet of steel to cleave his helmet; but
the blow miscarried, and the sharp blade glanced down before the
saddle-bow, driving through the horse's neck down to the ground, so that
both horse and master fell together to the earth. I know not whether the
Englishman struck another blow; but the Normans who saw the stroke were
astonished and about to abandon the assault, when Roger de Montgomeri
came galloping up, with his lance set, and, heeding not the long-handled
axe which the Englishman wielded aloft, struck him down and left him
stretched on the ground. Then Roger cried out, 'Frenchmen, strike! the
day is ours!' And again a fierce _melee_ was to be seen, with many a
blow of lance and sword; the English still defending themselves, killing
the horses and cleaving the shields.

"There was a French soldier of noble mien who sat his horse gallantly.
He spied two Englishmen who were also carrying themselves boldly. They
were both men of great worth and had become companions in arms and
fought together, the one protecting the other. They bore two long and
broad bills and did great mischief to the Normans, killing both horses
and men.

"The French soldier looked at them and their bills and was sore alarmed,
for he was afraid of losing his good horse, the best that he had, and
would willingly have turned to some other quarter if it would not have
looked like cowardice. He soon, however, recovered his courage, and,
spurring his horse, gave him the bridle and galloped swiftly forward.
Fearing the two bills, he raised his shield, and struck one of the
Englishmen with his lance on the breast, so that the iron passed out at
his back. At the moment that he fell the lance broke, and the Frenchman
seized the mace that hung at his right side, and struck the other
Englishman a blow that completely fractured his skull.

"On the other side was an Englishman who much annoyed the French,
continually assaulting them with a keen-edged hatchet. He had a helmet
made of wood, which he had fastened down to his coat and laced round his
neck, so that no blows could reach his head. The ravage he was making
was seen by a gallant Norman knight, who rode a horse that neither fire
nor water could stop in its career when its master urged it on. The
knight spurred, and his horse carried him on well till he charged the
Englishman, striking him over the helmet so that it fell down over his
eyes; and as he stretched out his hand to raise it and uncover his face,
the Norman cut off his right hand, so that his hatchet fell to the
ground. Another Norman sprang forward and eagerly seized the prize with
both his hands, but he kept it little space and paid dearly for it, for
as he stooped to pick up the hatchet an Englishman with his long-handled
axe struck him over the back, breaking all his bones, so that his
entrails and lungs gushed forth. The knight of the good horse meantime
returned without injury; but on his way he met another Englishman and
bore him down under his horse, wounding him grievously and trampling him
altogether under foot.

"And now might be heard the loud clang and cry of battle and the
clashing of lances. The English stood firm in their barricades, and
shivered the lances, beating them into pieces with their bills and
maces. The Normans drew their swords and hewed down the barricades, and
the English, in great trouble, fell back upon their standard, where were
collected the maimed and wounded.

"There were many knights of Chauz who jousted and made attacks. The
English knew not how to joust, or bear arms on horseback, but fought
with hatchets and bills. A man, when he wanted to strike with one of
their hatchets, was obliged to hold it with both his hands, and could
not at the same time, as it seems to me, both cover himself and strike
with any freedom.

"The English fell back toward the standard, which was upon a rising
ground, and the Normans followed them across the valley, attacking them
on foot and horseback. Then Hue de Mortemer, with the Sires D'Auviler,
D'Onebac, and St. Cler, rode up and charged, overthrowing many.

"Robert Fitz Erneis fixed his lance, took his shield, and, galloping
toward the standard, with his keen-edged sword struck an Englishman who
was in front, killed him, and then drawing back his sword, attacked many
others, and pushed straight for the standard, trying to beat it down;
but the English surrounded it and killed him with their bills. He was
found on the spot, when they afterward sought for him, dead and lying at
the standard's foot.

"Duke William pressed close upon the English with his lance, striving
hard to reach the standard with the great troop he led, and seeking
earnestly for Harold, on whose account the whole war was. The Normans
follow their lord, and press around him; they ply their blows upon the
English, and these defend themselves stoutly, striving hard with their
enemies, returning blow for blow.

"One of them was a man of great strength, a wrestler, who did great
mischief to the Normans with his hatchet; all feared him, for he struck
down a great many Normans. The Duke spurred on his horse, and aimed a
blow at him, but he stooped, and so escaped the stroke; then jumping on
one side, he lifted his hatchet aloft, and as the Duke bent to avoid the
blow, the Englishman boldly struck him on the head and beat in his
helmet, though without doing much injury. He was very near falling,
however; but, bearing on his stirrups, he recovered himself immediately;
and when he thought to have revenged himself upon the churl by killing
him, he had escaped, dreading the Duke's blow. He ran back in among the
English, but he was not safe even there; for the Normans, seeing him,
pursued and caught him, and having pierced him through and through with
their lances, left him dead on the ground.

"Where the throng of the battle was greatest, the men of Kent and Essex
fought wondrously well, and made the Normans again retreat, but without
doing them much injury. And when the Duke saw his men fall back and the
English triumphing over them, his spirit rose high, and he seized his
shield and his lance, which a vassal handed to him, and took his post by
his standard.

"Then those who kept close guard by him and rode where he rode, being
about a thousand armed men, came and rushed with closed ranks upon the
English, and, with the weight of their good horses, and the blows the
knights gave, broke the press of the enemy, and scattered the crowd
before them, the good Duke leading them on in front. Many pursued and
many fled; many were the Englishmen who fell around, and were trampled
under the horses, crawling upon the earth, and not able to rise. Many of
the richest and noblest men fell in the rout, but still the English
rallied in places, smote down those whom they reached, and maintained
the combat the best they could, beating down the men and killing the
horses. One Englishman watched the Duke, and plotted to kill him; he
would have struck him with his lance, but he could not, for the Duke
struck him first, and felled him to the earth.

"Loud was now the clamor and great the slaughter; many a soul then
quitted the body it inhabited. The living marched over the heaps of
dead, and each side was weary of striking. He charged on who could, and
he who could no longer strike still pushed forward. The strong struggled
with the strong; some failed, others triumphed; the cowards fell back,
the brave pressed on; and sad was his fate who fell in the midst, for he
had little chance of rising again; and many in truth fell who never rose
at all, being crushed under the throng.

"And now the Normans had pressed on so far that at last they had reached
the standard. There Harold had remained, defending himself to the
utmost; but he was sorely wounded in his eye by the arrow, and suffered
grievous pain from the blow. An armed man came in the throng of the
battle, and struck him on the ventail of his helmet, and beat him to the
ground; and as he sought to recover himself a knight beat him down
again, striking him on the thick of his thigh, down to the bone.

"Gurth saw the English falling around, and that there was no remedy. He
saw his race hastening to ruin, and despaired of any aid; he would have
fled, but could not, for the throng continually increased. And the Duke
pushed on till he reached him, and struck him with great force. Whether
he died of that blow I know not, but it was said that he fell under it
and rose no more.

"The standard was beaten down, the golden standard was taken, and Harold
and the rest of his friends were slain; but there was so much eagerness,
and throng of so many around, seeking to kill him, that I know not who
it was that slew him.

"The English were in great trouble at having lost their King and at the
Duke's having conquered and beat down the standard; but they still
fought on, and defended themselves long, and in fact till the day drew
to a close. Then it clearly appeared to all that the standard was lost,
and the news had spread throughout the army that Harold, for certain,
was dead; and all saw that there was no longer any hope, so they left
the field, and those fled who could.

"William fought well; many an assault did he lead, many a blow did he
give, and many receive, and many fell dead under his hand. Two horses
were killed under him, and he took a third when necessary, so that he
fell not to the ground and lost not a drop of blood. But whatever anyone
did, and whoever lived or died, this is certain that William conquered
and that many of the English fled from the field, and many died on the
spot. Then he returned thanks to God, and in his pride ordered his
standard to be brought and set up on high, where the English standard
had stood; and that was the signal of his having conquered, and beaten
down the standard. And he ordered his tent to be raised on the spot
among the dead, and had his meat brought thither, and his supper
prepared there.

"Then he took off his armor; and the barons and knights, pages and
squires came, when he had unstrung his shield; and they took the helmet
from his head and the hauberk from his back, and saw the heavy blows
upon his shield and how his helmet was dinted in. And all greatly
wondered and said: 'Such a baron (_ber_) never bestrode war-horse nor
dealt such blows nor did such feats of arms; neither has there been on
earth such a knight since Rollant and Oliver.'

"Thus they lauded and extolled him greatly and rejoiced in what they
saw, but grieving also for their friends who were slain in the battle.
And the Duke stood meanwhile among them, of noble stature and mien, and
rendered thanks to the King of Glory, through whom he had the victory,
and thanked the knights around him, mourning also frequently for the
dead. And he ate and drank among the dead, and made his bed that night
upon the field.

"The morrow was Sunday; and those who had slept upon the field of
battle, keeping watch around and suffering great fatigue, bestirred
themselves at break of day and sought out and buried such of the bodies
of their dead friends as they might find. The noble ladies of the land
also came, some to seek their husbands, and others their fathers, sons,
or brothers. They bore the bodies to their villages and interred them at
the churches; and the clerks and priests of the country were ready, and
at the request of their friends took the bodies that were found, and
prepared graves and lay them therein.

"King Harold was carried and buried at Varham; but I know not who it was
that bore him thither, neither do I know who buried him. Many remained
on the field, and many had fled in the night."

Such is a Norman account of the battle of Hastings, which does full
justice to the valor of the Saxons as well as to the skill and bravery
of the victors. It is indeed evident that the loss of the battle by the
English was owing to the wound which Harold received in the afternoon,
and which must have incapacitated him from effective command. When we
remember that he had himself just won the battle of Stamford Bridge over
Harald Hardrada by the manoeuvre of a feigned flight, it is impossible
to suppose that he could be deceived by the same stratagem on the part
of the Normans at Hastings. But his men, when deprived of his control,
would very naturally be led by their inconsiderate ardor into the
pursuit that proved so fatal to them. All the narratives of the battle,
however much they vary as to the precise time and manner of Harold's
fall, eulogize the generalship and the personal prowess which he
displayed until the fatal arrow struck him. The skill with which he had
posted his army was proved both by the slaughter which it cost the
Normans to force the position, and also by the desperate rally which
some of the Saxons made after the battle in the forest in the rear, in
which they cut off a large number of the pursuing Normans. This
circumstance is particularly mentioned by William of Poictiers, the
Conqueror's own chaplain. Indeed, if Harold or either of his brothers
had survived, the remains of the English army might have formed again in
the wood, and could at least have effected an orderly retreat and
prolonged the war. But both Gurth and Leofwine, and all the bravest
thanes of Southern England, lay dead on Senlac, around their fallen King
and the fallen standard of their country. The exact number that perished
on the Saxons' side is unknown; but we read that, on the side of the
victors, out of sixty thousand men who had been engaged, no less than a
fourth perished; so well had the English billmen "plyed the ghastly
blow," and so sternly had the Saxon battle-axe cloven Norman's casque
and mail. The old historian Daniel justly as well as forcibly remarks:
"Thus was tried, by the great assize of God's judgment in battle, the
right of power between the English and Norman nations; a battle the most
memorable of all others, and, however miserably lost, yet most nobly
fought on the part of England."

Many a pathetic legend was told in after years respecting the discovery
and the burial of the corpse of our last Saxon King. The main
circumstances, though they seem to vary, are perhaps reconcilable. Two
of the monks of Waltham Abbey, which Harold had founded a little time
before his election to the throne, had accompanied him to the battle. On
the morning after the slaughter they begged and gained permission of the
Conqueror to search for the body of their benefactor. The Norman
soldiery and camp followers had stripped and gashed the slain, and the
two monks vainly strove to recognize from among the mutilated and gory
heaps around them the features of their former King. They sent for
Harold's mistress, Edith, surnamed "the Fair," and "the Swan-necked," to
aid them. The eye of love proved keener than the eye of gratitude, and
the Saxon lady even in that Aceldama knew her Harold.

The King's mother now sought the victorious Norman, and begged the dead
body of her son. But William at first answered, in his wrath and the
hardness of his heart, that a man who had been false to his word and his
religion should have no other sepulchre than the sand of the shore. He
added, with a sneer: "Harold mounted guard on the coast while he was
alive; he may continue his guard now he is dead." The taunt was an
unintentional eulogy; and a grave washed by the spray of the Sussex
waves would have been the noblest burial-place for the martyr of Saxon
freedom. But Harold's mother was urgent in her lamentations and her
prayers; the Conqueror relented: like Achilles, he gave up the dead body
of his fallen foe to a parent's supplications, and the remains of King
Harold were deposited with regal honors in Waltham Abbey.

On Christmas Day in the same year William the Conqueror was crowned, at
London, King of England.




A.D. 1073-1085



(If during the pontificate of Innocent III [1198-1216] the papal power
attained its greatest height, yet under one of his predecessors the
chair of St. Peter became a throne of almost absolute supremacy. This
mighty pontiff, Gregory VII, whose real name, Hildebrand, indicates his
German descent, was born--the son of a carpenter--in Tuscany, about
1020. He became a monk of the Benedictine order, and was educated at the
abbey of Cluny in France. In 1044 he went to Rome, called by a papal
election, and there saw abuses which from that moment he fixed his mind
upon striving to abolish. In 1048 he was again in Rome and soon rose to
the rank of cardinal.

For many years Hildebrand was the real director of papal policy, and
long before his election as pope, in 1073, he worked to accomplish the
reforms that distinguish his pontificate, which continued till his
death, in 1085.

As a part of the Holy Roman Empire, Italy held a dual relation to the
emperor and the pope. Between the Roman pontiffs and the secular heads
of the Empire the struggle for supremacy had been long and often bitter.
At the time of Hildebrand's active appearance the papacy was in a state
of degradation which demoralized the Church itself.

Long before his elevation to the papal chair Hildebrand's efforts had
met with much success, and the power of the holy see was gradually
increased. Independently of the Emperor, whose will had hitherto
governed the papal elections, in 1058--chiefly through the influence of
Hildebrand--Pope Nicholas II was chosen by a new method, and from that
time the choice of popes has been made by the sacred college of

Hildebrand reluctantly accepted the office of pope; but having entered
upon the task which he knew to be so formidable, he pursued it with such
energy, courage, and success as to make his pontificate one of the most
memorable in the annals of the Church. Of his greatest contests within
the ecclesiastical jurisdiction--over the celibacy of the clergy and
simony--as well as of those with the Imperial power represented by Henry
IV--the "War of Investitures"--the following account will be found to
present the essential features with a clearness and comprehensiveness
which are seldom seen in the relation of matter so complex and in a
narrative so concise. The differing viewpoints are also instructive, as
presented by Pennington of the Church of England, and Artaud, the
standard Roman Catholic authority.)


The time had come when Hildebrand was to receive the reward of the
important services which he had rendered to the holy see. He had been
the ruling spirit under five popes--Leo, Victor, Stephen, Nicholas, and
Alexander--four of whom were indebted to him for their election. But now
he must himself be raised to the papal throne.

The clergy were assembled in the Lateran Church to celebrate the
obsequies of Alexander. Hildebrand, as archdeacon, was performing the
service. Suddenly, in the midst of the requiem for the departed, a shout
was heard which seemed to come as if by inspiration from the assembled
multitude: "Hildebrand is Pope! St. Peter chooses the archdeacon

From the funeral procession Hildebrand flew to the pulpit, and with
impassioned gestures seemed to be imploring silence. The storm, however,
did not cease till one of the cardinals, in the name of the sacred
college, declared that they had unanimously elected him whom the people
had chosen. Arrayed in scarlet robes, crowned with the papal tiara,
Gregory VII ascended the chair of St. Peter.

The Pope very soon made known the course which he should pursue. He
issued a prohibition against the marriage of the clergy, and in a
council at Rome abolished the right of investiture.[27] He was
determined to redress the wrongs of society. He had seen oppression
laying waste the fairest provinces of Europe, he had seen many princes,
goaded on by the revengeful passions of their nature, flinging wide
their standard to the winds, and dipping their hands in the blood of
those who, if Christianity be not a fable, were their very brothers. A
magnificent vision rose up before him. He would rule the world by
religion; he would be the caesar of the spiritual monarchy. He and a
council of prelates, annually assembled at Rome, would constitute a
tribunal from whose judgment there should be no appeal, empowered to
hold the supreme mediation in matters relating to the interests of the
body politic, to settle contested successions to kingdoms; and to compel
men to cease from their dissensions.

[Footnote 27: That is, the right of the civil power to grant church
offices at will, and to invest ecclesiastics with symbols of their
offices and receive their oaths of fealty.]

The civil power was to pledge itself to be prompt in the execution of
their decrees against those who despised their authority. But if the
decisions of those judges were to carry weight, they must be men of
unblemished integrity. The purity of their ermine must be altogether
unsullied. The sale of the highest spiritual offices by the prince, who
had deprived the clergy and people of their right to elect them, which
had stained the hands of the Church and undermined its power, must be
altogether forbidden. Elections must be free. The custom of investiture
by sovereigns with the ring and crozier, which had rendered the
hierarchy and clergy the creatures of their will, must be forbidden.

The clergy must possess an absolute exemption from the criminal justice
of the state. They must recognize but one ruler, the pope, who disposed
of them indirectly through the bishops or directly in cases of
exemption, and used them as tools for the execution of his behests. In
fact, they were to constitute a vast army, exclusively devoted to the
service of an ecclesiastical monarch.

They must be unconnected by marriage with the world around them, that
they might be bound more closely to one another and to their head; that
they might be saved from the temptation of restless projects for the
advancement of their families, which have caused so much scandal in the
world; and that they might give an exalted idea of their sanctity,
inasmuch as, in order that they might give themselves to prayer and the
ministry of the Word, they would forego that connubial bliss, the
portion of those,

"The happiest of their kind,
Whom gentler stars unite and in one fate Their hearts, their fortunes,
and their beings blend."

The marriage of the clergy was everywhere more or less repugnant to the
general feeling of Christendom. The rise and progress of asceticism in
the Church had their source in human nature, and its growth was
quickened by a reaction from the immorality of paganism. The general
effect on the position of the clergy was to compel them to keep progress
with the prevailing movement. Men consecrated to the service of Jehovah
must rise superior to the common herd of their fellow-creatures.

By a decree of Pope Siricius at the end of the fourth century marriage
was interdicted to all priests and deacons. This decree was, however,
very imperfectly observed during the following centuries. The general
feeling was, however, at this time very strongly against the married
clergy. But throughout the spiritual realm of Hildebrand in Italy, from
Calabria to the Alps, the clergy had risen up in rebellion against him
and the popes his predecessors when they attempted to coerce them into
celibacy. We believe that this opposition, much more than the strife as
to investitures, was the cause of the strong feeling, almost
unprecedented, which existed against Gregory VII.

We must now show that Gregory enforced his views as to investitures.
This part of our subject is important, because it gave occasion for the
assertion that the pope could depose the Holy Roman emperor and the king
of Italy, if he should find him morally or physically disqualified for
fulfilling the condition on which his appointment depended--that he
should defend him from his enemies. Henry IV, at the beginning of his
reign only ten years of age, was at this time Emperor.[28]

[Footnote 28: That is, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which included
the German-speaking people of Europe, and also, in theory at least,

One day, as he was standing by the Rhine, a galley with silken streamers
appeared, into which he was invited to enter. After he had been gliding
for some time down the stream, he found that he was a prisoner. The
archbishops of Milan and Cologne, with other powerful lords, having
consigned him to a degrading captivity, administered, in his name, the
government of the empire. By affording him every means of vicious
indulgence, they were only too successful in corrupting a noble and
generous nature. Very soon he was guilty of crimes, and plunged into
excesses which seemed to cry aloud for vengeance.

The Pope saw that the time had come for the execution of his designs.
Henry had been guilty of the grossest simony. The spiritual dignities
had been openly sold to the highest bidder. He saw also that, while the
clergy took the oath of fealty to the monarch and were invested by him
with the ring and crozier, he could not establish the superiority of the
spiritual to the temporal jurisdiction. He therefore summoned a council
at the Lateran (1075), which issued a decree against lay investitures.
The Pope, having thus declared war against the Emperor, proceeded to
fill up certain vacant bishoprics, and to suspend bishops, both in
Germany and Italy, who had been guilty of simony. He also cited Henry
before him to answer for his simony, crimes, and excesses.

This citation is alleged to have given occasion for an attempted crime,
supposed to have been sanctioned by Henry, which may show us that while
the Pope was asserting a right to rule over the nations, he could not
rule in his own city. On Christmas Eve, 1075, the city of Rome was
visited with a violent tempest. Darkness brooded over the land. The
inhabitants thought that the day of judgment was at hand. In the midst
of this war of the elements two processions were seen advancing toward
the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. At the head of one of them was
Hildebrand, leading his priests to worship at a shrine. At the head of
the other was Cencius, a Roman noble. In one of the pauses in the roar
of the tempest, when the Pope was heard blessing his flock, the arm of
Cencius grasped his person, and the sword of a ruffian inflicted a wound
on his forehead. Bound with cords, the Pope was removed to a mansion in
the city, from which he was the next day to be removed to exile or to
death. A sword was aimed at the Pontiff's bosom, when the cries of a
fierce multitude, threatening to burn down the house, arrested the arm
of the assassin. An arrow, discharged from below, reached and slew the
latter. Cencius fell at the Pope's feet, a suppliant for pardon and for
life. The Pontiff immediately pardoned him. Then, amid the acclamations
of the Roman people, Gregory proceeded to complete the interrupted
solemnities at Santa Maria Maggiore.

The war between Henry and the Pope continued. Henry summoned a synod at
Worms in January, 1076, which decreed the deposition of the Pope. The
envoy charged to convey this sentence appeared in the council chamber of
the Lateran in February, before an assembly consisting of the mightiest
in the land, whom the Pope had summoned to sit in judgment on Henry.
With flashing eyes and in a voice of thunder he directed the Pope to
descend from the chair of St. Peter. Cries of indignation rang through
the hall, and a hundred swords were seen leaping from their scabbards to
inflict vengeance on the daring intruder. The Pope, with difficulty,
stilled the angry tumult. Then, rising with calm dignity, amid the
breathless silence of the assembled multitude, he uttered that dread
anathema which "shuts paradise and opens hell," and absolved the
subjects of Henry from their allegiance.

The inhabitants of Europe were struck dumb with amazement when they
witnessed this exercise of papal prerogative. They thought that the
powerful arm of Henry would have been raised to smite down the audacious
Hildebrand. The Pope, however, well knew that Henry had by his excesses
alienated from himself the affections of his subjects. The sentence gave
a pretext to many of his nobility to withdraw from their allegiance.
Awed by spiritual terrors, his attendants fell away from him as if he
had been smitten by a leprosy. An assembly was now summoned at Trebur,
in obedience to a requisition from the Pope, at which it was decreed
that, if the Emperor continued excommunicate on the 23d of February,
1077, his crown should be given to another. The theory of the Holy Roman
Empire had thus become a practical reality. The vassal of Otho had
reduced the successor of Otho to vassalage. A great pope had wrung from
the superstition and reverence of mankind a spiritual empire, which, it
was hoped, would extend its sway to earth's remotest boundaries.


Gregory made it an invariable rule to act at the outset with gentleness.
"No one," says he, "reaches the highest rank at a single spring; great
edifices rise gradually." Certain of his strength, he chose to employ
conciliation. He especially sought to convince Henry, but the excesses
in which that prince wallowed were so abominable that his subjects in
all parts, and especially the great, revolted against him. In 1076,
Gregory assembled a council, which pronounced the excommunication of the
King, with all the terrible consequences attendant upon it.

History shows several emperors of the East excommunicated by preceding
popes: Arcadius, by Innocent I; Anastasius, by Saint Symmachus; and Leo
the Isaurian, by Gregory II and Gregory III.

The decree of the same council set forth that the throne vacated by
Henry was adjudged to Rudolph, duke of Swabia, already created king of
Germany by the electors of the empire.

Before the election of Rudolph, Gregory had declared that he would
repair to Germany. King Henry, on his part, promised to come into Italy.
The Pope left Rome with an escort furnished by the countess of Tuscany,
daughter of Boniface, marquis of Tuscany. The march of Gregory was a
triumph. Amidst that escort he reached Vercelli. It was feared by some
that Henry would make his appearance at the head of an army, but he had
not that intention. The Pope, nevertheless, deemed it best to retire
into the fortress of Canossa, belonging to the Countess Matilda, in
order that he might be secure from all violence.

Henry had spent nearly two months at Spires in a profound and melancholy
solitude. The weight of the excommunication oppressed him with a
thousand griefs. Weary of that state of uncertainty, and still, as ever,
tricky and hypocritical, he conceived the idea of winning over the Pope
by an apparent piety, and of satisfying his requirements by a brief
humiliation; moreover, the decree of excommunication declared that it
should be withdrawn if the King appeared before the Pope within a year
from the date of the decree. The winter was severe. After running a
thousand dangers, the King and his queen arrived at Turin, and proceeded
to Placentia. Thence the prince announced that he would proceed to
Canossa, by way of Reggio.

The Countess Matilda met him with Hugo, Bishop of Cluny. She wished to
restore harmony between the Pope and the King. Gregory seemed to desire
that Henry should return to Augsburg, to be judged by the Diet. The
envoys of the King at Canossa replied: "Henry does not fear being
judged; he knows that the Pope will protect innocence and justice; but
the anniversary of the excommunication is at hand, and if the
excommunication be not removed, the King, _according to the laws of the
land_, will lose his right to the crown. The prince humbly requests the
Holy Father to raise the interdict, and to restore him to the communion
of the Church. He is ready to give every satisfaction that the Pope
shall require; to present himself at such place and at such time as the
Pope shall order; to meet his accusers, and to commit himself entirely
to the decision of the head of the Church."

Henry, says Voigt, having received permission to advance, was not long
on the way. The fortress had triple inclosures; Henry was conducted into
the second; his retinue remained outside the first. He had laid aside
the insignia of royalty; nothing announced his rank. All day long,
Henry, bareheaded, clad in penitential garb, and fasting from morning
till night, awaited the sentence of the sovereign pontiff. He thus
waited during a second and a third day. During the intervening time he
had not ceased to negotiate. On the morrow, Matilda interceded with the
Pope on behalf of Henry, and the conditions of the treaty were settled.
The prince promised to give satisfaction to the complaints made against
him by his subjects, and he took an oath, in which his sureties joined.
When those oaths were taken, the pontiff gave the King the benediction
and the apostolic peace, and celebrated Mass.

After the consecration of the host, the Pope called Henry and all
present, and still holding the host in his hand, said to the King: "We
have received letters from you and those of your party, in which we are
accused of having usurped the Holy See by simony, and of having, both
before and since our episcopacy, committed crimes which, according to
the canons, excluded us from holy orders.

"Although we could justify ourselves by the testimony of those who have
known our manner of life from our childhood, and who were the authors of
our promotion to the episcopacy, nevertheless, to do away with all kind
of scandal, we will appeal to the judgment, not of men, but of God. Let
the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we are about to take, be this
day a proof of our innocence. We pray the Almighty to dispel all
suspicion, if we are innocent, and to cause us suddenly to die, if we
are guilty."

Then turning towards the King, Gregory again spoke: "Dear son, do also
as you have seen us do. The German princes have daily accused you to us
of a great number of crimes, for which those nobles maintain that you
ought to be interdicted, during your whole life, not only from royalty
and all public function, but also from all ecclesiastical communion, and
from all commerce of civil life. They urgently demand that you be
judged, and you know how uncertain are all human judgments. Do, then, as
we advise, and if you feel that you are innocent, deliver the Church
from this scandal, and yourself from this embarrassment. Take this other
portion of the host, that this proof of your innocence may close the
lips of your enemies, and engage us to be your most ardent defender, to
reconcile you with the nobles, and forever to terminate the civil war."

This address astonished the King. Going apart with his confidants, he
tremblingly consulted as to what he could do to avoid so terrible a
test. At length, having somewhat recovered his calmness, he said to the
Pope, that as those nobles who remained faithful were, for the most
part, absent, as well as those who accused him, the latter would give
little faith to what he might do in his own justification, unless it
were done in their presence. For that reason, he asked that the test
should be postponed to the day of the sitting of the general diet, and
the Pope consented.

When the Pope had finished Mass, he invited the King to dinner, treated
him with much attention, and dismissed him in peace to his own people,
who had remained outside the castle. Henry, on his return to his nobles,
was not well received. Henry, as Voigt shows, soon became alarmed at
their disapprobation, which originated only in a feeling of wounded
complicity and ambitious views, which could not hope for success after
the victory gained by Gregory.

Henry, hearing himself accused of weakness, thought to deliver himself
from so much annoyance by a bold perjury; and he endeavored to draw
Gregory and Matilda into a snare. Warned by faithful friends, they did
not visit the King as had been agreed; and that new wrong determined
Gregory to suspend his departure for the Diet of Augsburg. No one, not
even the pious Matilda, now dared to speak of a reconciliation.

Henry held at Brescia, in 1080, a pseudo council of the bishops devoted
to him; and there he caused Guibert, Archbishop of Ravenna, an avowed
enemy of Gregory, to be elected as Pope; and he deposed Gregory,
although he was recognized as the legitimate pope by the whole Catholic
world, with the exception of the bishops in revolt, under the direction
of Henry. On learning this, Gregory celebrated at Rome, in the year
1080, a regular council, in which he again excommunicated Henry, and
especially the antipope, whom he would never absolve.


The war continued. Henry's rival for the empire, Rudolph of Swabia, was
supported by many German partisans, especially by the Saxons. He was
defeated with great loss at Fladenheim. The skill and courage of the
Saxon commander, however, turned a defeat into a victory. Emboldened by
this victory, Gregory excommunicated Henry, and "gave, granted, and
conceded" that Rudolph might rule the Italian and German empires. With
the sanction of thirty bishops, an antipope, Guibert, was elected at
Brixen. The war raged with undiminished violence. The Saxons, the only
power in alliance with the Romans, gained a victory over Henry in
Germany at the very same time when Matilda's forces fled before his army
in the Mantuan territory. Matilda had lately granted all her hereditary
states to Gregory and his successors forever. Before the summer of the
year 1080 the citizens of Rome saw the forces of Henry in the Campagna.
The siege of Rome continued for three years. The capture of the city was
imminent, when the forces of Robert Guiscard, the Norman, came to the
rescue of the Pope.

Nicholas II had bestowed on Robert Guiscard the investiture of the
duchies of Apulia and Calabria; Sicily also, the conquest of which his
brother Richard was meditating, being prospectively added to Robert's
dominions. The oath taken by Robert Guiscard on this occasion bound him
to be the devoted defender of the pontificate. He now became a friend
indeed. A hasty retreat saved the forces of Henry from the impending
danger. The Pope returned in triumph to the Lateran. But within a few
hours he heard from the streets the clash of arms and the loud shouts of
the combatants. A fierce contest was raging between the soldiers of
Robert and the citizens who espoused the cause of Henry. A conflagration
was kindled, which at length destroyed three-fourths of the city.
Gregory, perhaps conscience-stricken when he thought of the wars he had
kindled, sought, in the castle of Salerno, from the Normans the security
which he could no longer expect among his own subjects. He soon found
that the hand of death was upon him. He summoned round his bed the
bishops and cardinals who had accompanied him in his flight from Rome.
He maintained the truth of the principles for which he had always
contended. He forgave and blessed his enemies, with the exception of the
antipope and the Emperor. He had received the transubstantiated
elements. The final unction had been given to him. He then prepared
himself to die. Anxious to catch the last words from that tongue, to the
utterances of which they had always listened with intense delight, his
followers were bending over him, when, collecting his powers for one
last effort, he said, in an indignant tone, "I have loved righteousness
and hated iniquity, and, therefore, I die in exile."


A.D. 1086


(When William the Conqueror had been some years established in his
English realm, he found himself confronted with a feudal baronage
largely composed of men who had gone with him from Normandy, where many
of them had reluctantly bowed to his command. They were jealous of the
royal power and eager for military and judicial independence within
their own manors. The Conqueror met this situation with the skill of
political genius. He granted large estates to the nobles, but so widely
scattered as to render union of the great land-owners and hereditary
attachment of great areas of population to separate feudal lords
impossible. He caused under-tenants to be bound to their lords by the
same conditions of service which bound the lords to the crown, to which
each sub-tenant swore direct fealty. William also strengthened his
position as king by means of a new military organization and by his
control of the judicial and administrative systems of the kingdom. By
the abolition of the four great earldoms of the realm he struck a final
blow at the ambition of the greater nobles for independent power. By
this stroke he made the shire the largest unit of local government. By
his control of the national revenues he secured a great financial power
in his own hands.

A large part of the manors were burdened with special dues to the crown,
and for the purpose of ascertaining and recording these William sent
into each county commissioners to make a survey, whose inquiries were
recorded in the _Domesday Book_, so called because its decision was
regarded as final. This book, in Norman-French, contains the results of
his survey of England made in 1085-1086, and consists of two volumes in
vellum, a large folio of three hundred and eighty-two pages, and a
quarto of four hundred and fifty pages. For a long time it was kept
under three locks in the exchequer with the King's seal, and is now kept
in the Public Record Office. In 1783 the British Government issued a
fac-simile edition of it, in two folio volumes, printed from types
specially made for the purpose. It is one of the principal sources for
the political and social history of the time.

The _Domesday Book_ contains a record of the ownership, extent, and
value of the lands of England at the time of the survey, at the time of
their bestowal when granted by the King, and at the time of a previous
survey under Edward the Confessor. Of the detailed registrations of
tenants, defendants, live stock, etc., as well, as of contemporary
social features of the English people, the following account presents
interesting pictures.)

The survey contained in the _Domesday Book_ extended to all England,
with the exception of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and
Durham. All the country between the Tees and the Tyne was held by the
Bishop of Durham; and he was reputed a count palatine, having a separate
government. The other three northern counties were probably so
devastated that they were purposely omitted. Let us first see, from the
information of _Domesday Book_, by "what men" the land was occupied.

First, we have barons and we have thanes. The barons were the Norman
nobles; the thanes, the Saxon. These were included under the general
designation of _liberi homines_, free men; which term included all the
freeholders of a manor. Many of these were tenants of the King "_in
capite_"--that is, they held their possessions direct from the Crown.
Others of these had placed themselves under the protection of some lord,
as the defender of their persons and estates, they paying some stipend
or performing some service. In the _Register_ there are also _liberae
feminae_, free women. Next to the free class were the _sochemanni_ or
"socmen," a class of inferior land-owners, who held lands under a lord,
and owed suit and service in the lord's court, but whose tenure was
permanent. They sometimes performed services in husbandry; but those
services, as well as their payments, were defined.

Descending in the scale, we come to the _villani_. These were allowed to
occupy land at the will of the lord, upon the condition of performing
services, uncertain in their amount and often of the meanest nature. But
they could acquire no property in lands or goods; and they were subject
to many exactions and oppressions. There are entries in _Domesday Book_
which show that the villani were not altogether bondmen, but represented
the Saxon "churl." The lowest class were _servi_, slaves; the class
corresponding with the Saxon _theow_. By a degradation in the condition
of the villani, and the elevation of that of the servi, the two classes
were brought gradually nearer together; till at last the military
oppression of the Normans, thrusting down all degrees of tenants and
servants into one common slavery, or at least into strict dependence,
one name was adopted for both of them as a generic term, that of
_villeins regardant_.

Of the subdivisions of these great classes, the _Register_ of 1085
affords us some particulars. We find that some of the nobles are
described as _milites_, soldiers; and sometimes the milites are classed
with the inferior orders of tenantry. Many of the chief tenants are
distinguished by their offices. We have among these the great regal
officers, such as they existed in the Saxon times--the _camerarius_ and
_cubicularius_, from whom we have our lord chamberlain; the _dapifer_,
or lord steward; the _pincerna_, or chief butler; the constable, and the
treasurer. We have the hawkkeepers, and the bowkeepers; the providers of
the king's carriages, and his standard-bearers. We have lawmen, and
legates, and mediciners. We have foresters and hunters.

Coming to the inferior officers and artificers, we have carpenters,
smiths, goldsmiths, farriers, potters, ditchers, launders, armorers,
fishermen, millers, bakers, salters, tailors, and barbers. We have
mariners, moneyers, minstrels, and watchmen. Of rural occupations we
have the beekeepers, ploughmen, shepherds, neatherds, goatherds, and
swineherds. Here is a population in which there is a large division of
labor. The freemen, tenants, villeins, slaves, are laboring and deriving
sustenance from arable land, meadow, common pasture, wood, and water.
The grain-growing land is, of course, carefully registered as to its
extent and value, and so the meadow and pasture. An equal exactness is
bestowed upon the woods. It was not that the timber was of great
commercial value, in a country which possessed such insufficient means
of transport; but that the acorns and beech-mast, upon which great herds
of swine subsisted, were of essential importance to keep up the supply
of food. We constantly find such entries as "a wood for pannage of fifty
hogs." There are woods described which will feed a hundred, two hundred,
three hundred hogs; and on the Bishop of London's demesne at Fulham a
thousand hogs could fatten. The value of a tree was determined by the
number of hogs that could lie under it, in the Saxon time; and in this
survey of the Norman period, we find entries of useless woods, and woods
without pannage, which to some extent were considered identical. In some
of the woods there were patches of cultivated ground, as the entries
show, where the tenant had cleared the dense undergrowth and had his
corn land and his meadows. Even the fen lands were of value, for their
rents were paid in eels.

There is only mention of five forests in this record, Windsor,
Gravelings (Wiltshire), Winburn, Whichwood, and the New Forest.
Undoubtedly there were many more, but being no objects of assessment
they are passed over. It would be difficult not to associate the memory
of the Conqueror with the New Forest, and not to believe that his
unbridled will was here the cause of great misery and devastation.
Ordericus Vitalis says, speaking of the death of William's second son,
Richard: "Learn now, my reader, why the forest in which the young prince
was slain received the name of the New Forest. That part of the country
was extremely populous from early times, and full of well-inhabited
hamlets and farms. A numerous population cultivated Hampshire with
unceasing industry, so that the southern part of the district
plentifully supplied Winchester with the products of the land. When
William I ascended the throne of Albion, being a great lover of forests,
he laid waste more than sixty parishes, compelling the inhabitants to
emigrate to other places, and substituted beasts of the chase for human
beings, that he might satisfy his ardor for hunting." There is probably
some exaggeration in the statement of the country being "extremely
populous from early times." This was an old woody district, called
Ytene. No forest was artificially planted, as Voltaire has imagined; but
the chases were opened through the ancient thickets, and hamlets and
solitary cottages were demolished.

It is a curious fact that some woodland spots in the New Forest have
still names with the terminations of _ham_ and _ton_. There are many
evidences of the former existence of human abodes in places now
solitary; yet we doubt whether this part of the district plentifully
supplied Winchester with food, as Ordericus relates; for it is a sterile
district, in most places, fitted for little else than the growth of
timber. The lower lands are marsh, and the upper are sand. The
Conqueror, says the _Saxon Chronicle_, "so much loved the high deer as
if he had been their father." The first of the Norman kings, and his
immediate successors, would not be very scrupulous about the
depopulation of a district if the presence of men interfered with their
pleasures. But Thierry thinks that the extreme severity of the Forest
Laws was chiefly enforced to prevent the assemblage of Saxons in those
vast wooded spaces which were now included in the royal demesnes.

All these extensive tracts were, more or less, retreats for the
dispossessed and the discontented. The Normans, under pretence of
preserving the stag and the hare, could tyrannize with a pretended
legality over the dwellers in these secluded places; and thus William
might have driven the Saxon people of Ytene to emigrate, and have
destroyed their cottages, as much from a possible fear of their
association as from his own love of "the high deer." Whatever was the
motive, there were devastation and misery. _Domesday_ shows that in the
district of the New Forest certain manors were afforested after the
Conquest; cultivated portions, in which the Sabbath bell was heard.
William of Jumieges, the Conqueror's own chaplain, says, speaking of the
deaths of Richard and Rufus: "There were many who held that the two sons
of William the King perished by the judgment of God in these woods,
since for the _extension_ of the forest he had destroyed many inhabited
_places (villas) and churches within its circuit_." It appears that in
the time of Edward the Confessor about seventeen thousand acres of this
district had been afforested; but that the cultivated parts remaining
had then an estimated value of three hundred and sixty-three pounds.
After the afforestation by the Conqueror, the cultivated parts yielded
only one hundred and twenty-nine pounds.

The grants of land to huntsmen (_venatores_) are common in Hampshire, as
in other parts of England; and it appears to have been the duty of an
especial officer to stall the deer--that is, to drive them with his
troop of followers from all parts to the centre of a circle, gradually
contracting, where they were to stand for the onslaught of the hunters.
In the survey many parks are enumerated. The word hay (_haia_), which is
still found in some of our counties, meant an enclosed part of a wood to
which the deer were driven.

In the seventeenth century this mode of hunting upon a large scale, by
stalling the deer--this mimic war--was common in Scotland. Taylor,
called the "Water Poet," was present at such a gathering, and has
described the scene with a minuteness which may help us to form a
picture of the Norman hunters: "Five or six hundred men do rise early in
the morning, and they do disperse themselves divers ways; and seven,
eight, or ten miles' compass, they do bring or chase in the deer in many
herds--two, three, or four hundred in a herd--to such a place as the
noblemen shall appoint them; then, when the day is come, the lords and
gentlemen of their companies do ride or go to the said places, sometimes
wading up to the middle through bourns and rivers; and then they being
come to the place, do lie down on the ground till those foresaid scouts,
which are called the 'tinkhelt,' do bring down the deer. Then, after we
had stayed there three hours or thereabouts, we might perceive the deer
appear on the hills round about us--their heads making a show like a
wood--which being followed close by the tinkhelt, are chased down into
the valley where we lay; then all the valley on each side being waylaid
with a hundred couple of strong Irish greyhounds, they are let loose as
occasion serves upon the herd of deer, that with dogs, guns, arrows,
dirks, and daggers, in the space of two hours fourscore fat deer were

_Domesday_ affords indubitable proof of the culture of the vine in
England. There are thirty-eight entries of vineyards in the southern and
eastern counties. Many gardens are enumerated. Mills are registered with
great distinctness; for they were invariably the property of the lords
of the manors, lay or ecclesiastical; and the tenants could only grind
at the lord's mill. Wherever we find a mill specified in _Domesday_,
there we generally find a mill now. At Arundel, for example, we see what
rent was paid by a mill; and there still stands at Arundel an old mill
whose foundations might have been laid before the Conquest. Salt works
are repeatedly mentioned. They were either works upon the coast for
procuring marine salt by evaporation, or were established in the
localities of inland salt springs. The salt works of Cheshire were the
most numerous, and were called "wiches." Hence the names of some places,
such as Middlewich and Nantwich. The revenue from mines offers some
curious facts. No mention of tin is to be found in Cornwall. The ravages
of Saxon and Dane, and the constant state of hostility between races,
had destroyed much of that mineral industry which existed in the Roman
times. A century and a half after the Conquest had elapsed before the
Norman kings had a revenue from the Cornish iron mines. Iron forges were
registered, and lumps of hammered iron are stated to have been paid as
rent. Lead works are found only upon the king's demesne in Derbyshire.

Fisheries are important sources of rent. Payments of eels are enumerated
by hundreds and thousands. Herrings appear to have been consumed in vast
numbers in the monasteries. Sandwich yielded forty thousand annually to
Christ Church in Canterbury. Kent, Sussex, and Norfolk appear to have
been the great seats of this fishery. The Severn and the Wye had their
salmon fisheries, whose produce king, bishop, and lord were glad to
receive as rent. There was a weir for Thames fish at Mortlake. The
religious houses had their _piscinae_ and _vivaria_--their stews and

_Domesday_ affords us many curious glimpses of the condition of the
people in cities and burghs. For the most part they seem to have
preserved their ancient customs. London, Winchester, and several other
important places are not mentioned in the record. We shall very briefly
notice a few indications of the state of society. Dover was an important
place, for it supplied the king with twenty ships for fifteen days in a
year, each vessel having twenty-one men on board. Dover could therefore
command the service of four hundred and twenty mariners. Every burgess
in Lewes compounded for a payment of twenty shillings when the king
fitted out a fleet to keep the sea.

At Oxford the king could command the services of twenty burgesses
whenever he went on an expedition; or they might compound for their
services by a payment of twenty pounds. Oxford was a considerable place
at this period. It contained upward of seven hundred houses; but four
hundred and seventy-eight were so desolated that they could pay no dues.
Hereford was the king's demesne; and the honor of being his immediate
tenants appears to have been qualified by considerable exactions. When
he went to war, and when he went to hunt, men were to be ready for his
service. If the wife of a burgher brewed his ale, he paid tenpence. The
smith who kept a forge had to make nails from the king's iron. In
Hereford, as in other cities, there were moneyers, or coiners. There
were seven at Hereford, who were bound to coin as much of the king's
silver into pence as he demanded. At Cambridge the burgesses were
compelled to lend the sheriff their ploughs. Leicester was bound to find
the king a hawk or to pay ten pounds; while a sumpter or baggage-horse
was compounded for at one pound.

At Warwick there were two hundred and twenty-five houses on which the
king and his barons claimed tax; and nineteen houses belonged to free
burgesses. The dues were paid in honey and corn. In Shrewsbury there
were two hundred and fifty-two houses belonging to burgesses; but the
burgesses complained that they were called upon to pay as much tax as in
the time of the Confessor, although Earl Roger had taken possession of
extensive lands for building his castle. Chester was a port in which the
king had his dues upon every cargo, and where he had fines whenever a
trader was detected in using a false measure. The fraudulent female
brewer of adulterated beer was placed in the cucking-stool, a
degradation afterward reserved for scolds.

This city has a more particular notice as to laws and customs in the
time of the Confessor than any other place in the survey. Particular
care seems to have been taken against fire. The owner of a house on fire
not only paid a fine to the king, but forfeited two shillings to his
nearest neighbor. Marten skins appear to have been a great article of
trade in this city. No stranger could cart goods within a particular
part of the city without being subjected to a forfeiture of four
shillings or two oxen to the bishop. We find, as might be expected, no
mention of that peculiar architecture of Chester called the "Rows,"
which has so puzzled antiquarian writers. The probability is that in a
place so exposed to the attacks of the Welsh they were intended for
defence. The low streets in which the Rows are situated have the road
considerably beneath them, like the cutting of a railway; and from the
covered way of the Rows an enemy in the road beneath might be assailed
with great advantage.

In the civil wars of Charles I the possession of the Rows by the
Royalists, or Parliamentary troops, was fiercely contested. Of their
antiquity there is no doubt. They probably belong to the same period as
the Castle. The wall of Chester and the bridge were kept in repair,
according to the survey, by the service of one laborer for every hide of
land in the county. It is to be remarked that in all the cities and
burghs the inhabitants are described as belonging to the king or a
bishop or a baron. Many, even in the most privileged places, were
attached to particular manors.

The _Domesday_ survey shows that in some towns there was an admixture of
Norman and English burgesses; and it is clear that they were so settled
after the Conquest, for a distinction is made between the old customary
dues of the place and those the foreigner should pay. The foreigner had
to bear a small addition to the ancient charge. No doubt the Norman
clung to many of the habits of his own land; and the Saxon unwillingly
parted with those of the locality in which his fathers had lived. But
their manners were gradually assimilated. The Normans grew fond of the
English beer, and the English adopted the Norman dress.

The survey of 1085 affords the most complete evidence of the extent to
which the Normans had possessed themselves of the landed property of the
country. The ancient demesnes of the crown consisted of fourteen hundred
and twenty-two manors. But the king had confiscated the properties of
Godwin, Harold, Algar, Edwin, Morcar, and other great Saxon earls; and
his revenues thus became enormous. Ordericus Vitalis states, with a
minuteness that seems to imply the possession of official information,
that "the king himself received daily one-and-sixty pounds thirty
thousand pence and three farthings sterling money from his regular
revenues in England alone, independently of presents, fines for
offences, and many other matters which constantly enrich a royal
treasury." The numbers of manors held by the favorites of the Conqueror
would appear incredible, if we did not know that these great nobles were
grasping and unscrupulous; indulging the grossest sensuality with a
pretence of refinement; limited in their perpetration of injustice only
by the extent of their power; and so blinded by their pride as to call
their plunder their inheritance. Ten Norman chiefs who held under the
crown are enumerated in the survey as possessing two thousand eight
hundred and twenty manors.

This enormous transfer of property did not take place without the most
formidable resistance, but when a period of tranquillity arrived came
the era of castle-building. The Saxons had their rude fortresses and
intrenched earthworks. But solid walls of stone, for defence and
residence, were to become the local seats of regal and baronial
domination. _Domesday_ contains notices of forty-nine castles; but only
one is mentioned as having existed in the time of Edward the Confessor.
Some which the Conqueror is known to have built are not noticed in the
survey. Among these is the White Tower of London. The site of Rochester
Castle is mentioned. These two buildings are associated by our old
antiquaries as being erected by the same architect. Stow says: "I find
in a fair register-book of the acts of the bishops of Rochester, set
down by Edmund of Hadenham, that William I, surnamed Conqueror, builded
the Tower of London, to wit, the great white and square tower there,
about the year of Christ 1078, appointing Gundulph, then Bishop of
Rochester, to be principal surveyor and overseer of that work, who was
for that time lodged in the house of Edmere, a burghess of London." The
chapel in the White Tower is a remarkable specimen of early Norman

The keep of Rochester Castle, so picturesquely situated on the Medway,
was not a mere fortress without domestic convenience. Here we still look
upon the remains of sculptured columns and arches. We see where there
were spacious fireplaces in the walls, and how each of four floors was
served with water by a well. The third story contains the most
ornamental portions of the building. In the _Domesday_ enumeration of
castles, we have repeated mention of houses destroyed and lands wasted,
for their erection. At Cambridge twenty-seven houses are recorded to
have been thus demolished. This was the fortress to overawe the fen
districts. At Lincoln a hundred and sixty-six mansions were destroyed,
"on account of the castle."

In the ruins of all these castles we may trace their general plan. There
were an outer court, an inner court, and a keep. Round the whole area
was a wall, with parapets and loopholes. The entrance was defended by an
outwork or barbacan. The prodigious strength of the keep is the most
remarkable characteristic of these fortresses; and thus many of these
towers remain, stripped of every interior fitting by time, but as
untouched in their solid construction as the mounts upon which they
stand. We ascend the steep steps which lead to the ruined keep of
Carisbrook, with all our historical associations directed to the
confinement of Charles I in this castle. But this fortress was
registered in _Domesday Book_. Five centuries and a half had elapsed
between William I and James I. The Norman keep was out of harmony with
the principles of the seventeenth century, as much as the feudal
prerogatives to which Charles unhappily clung.

We have thus enumerated some of the more prominent statistics of this
ancient survey, which are truly as much matter of history as the events
of this beginning of the Norman period. There is one more feature of
this _Domesday Book_ which we cannot pass over. The number of parish
churches in England in the eleventh century will, in some degree,


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