The History of England, Volume I
David Hume

Part 6 out of 12

they have assigned him, or for attributing to him any very estimable
qualities. He seems to have been a violent and tyrannical prince; a
perfidious, encroaching, and dangerous neighbour; an unkind and
ungenerous relation. He was equally prodigal and rapacious in the
management of his treasury; and if he possessed abilities, he lay so
much under the government of impetuous passions, that he made little
use of them in his administration; and he indulged, without reserve,
that domineering policy, which suited his temper, and which, if
supported, as it was in him, with courage and vigour, proves often
more successful in disorderly times, than the deepest foresight and
most refined artifice.

The monuments which remain of this prince in England, are the Tower,
Westminster-hall, and London-bridge, which he built. The most
laudable foreign enterprise which he undertook, was the sending of
Edgar Atheling, three years before his death, into Scotland with a
small army, to restore Prince Edgar, the true heir of that kingdom,
son of Malcolm, and of Margaret, sister of Edgar Atheling; and the
enterprise proved successful. It was remarked in that age, that
Richard, an elder brother of William's, perished by an accident in the
new forest; Richard, his nephew, natural son of Duke Robert, lost his
life in the same place, after the same manner; and all men, upon the
king's fate, exclaimed, that, as the Conqueror had been guilty of
extreme violence, in expelling all the inhabitants of that large
district to make room for his game, the just vengeance of Heaven was
signalized, in the same place, by the slaughter of his posterity.
William was killed in the thirteenth year of his reign, and about the
fortieth of his age. As he was never married, he left no legitimate

In the eleventh year of this reign, Magnus, King of Norway, made a
descent on the Isle of Anglesea, but was repulsed by Hugh, Earl of
Shrewsbury. This is the last attempt made by the northern nations
upon England. That restless people seem about this time to have
learnt the practice of tillage, which thenceforth kept them at home,
and freed the other nations of Europe from the devastations spread
over them by those piratical invaders. This proved one great cause of
the subsequent settlement and improvement of the southern nations.




[MN 1100. The Crusades.]
After the adventurers in the holy war were assembled on the banks of
the Bosphorus, opposite to Constantinople, they proceeded on their
enterprise; but immediately experienced those difficulties which their
zeal had hitherto concealed from them, and for which, even if they had
foreseen them, it would have been almost impossible to provide a
remedy. The Greek emperor, Alexius Comnenus, who had applied to the
western Christians for succour against the Turks, entertained hopes,
and those but feeble ones, of obtaining such a moderate supply, as,
acting under his command, might enable him to repulse the enemy: but
he was extremely astonished to see his dominions overwhelmed, on a
sudden, by such an inundation of licentious barbarians, who, though
they pretended friendship, despised his subjects as unwarlike, and
detested them as heretical. By all the arts of policy, in which he
excelled, he endeavoured to divert the torrent; but while he employed
professions, caresses, civilities, and seeming services towards the
leaders of the crusade, he secretly regarded those imperious allies as
more dangerous than the open enemies by whom his empire had been
formerly invaded. Having effected that difficult point of
disembarking them safely in Asia, he entered into a private
correspondence with Soliman, Emperor of the Turks; and practised every
insidious art, which his genius, his power, or his situation enabled
him to employ, for disappointing the enterprise, and discouraging the
Latins from making thenceforward any such prodigious migrations. His
dangerous policy was seconded by the disorders inseparable from so
vast a multitude, who were not united under one head, and were
conducted by leaders of the most independent, intractable spirit,
unacquainted with military discipline, and determined enemies to civil
authority and submission. The scarcity of provisions, the excess of
fatigue, the influence of unknown climates, joined to the want of
concert in their operations, and to the sword of a warlike enemy,
destroyed the adventurers by thousands, and would have abated the
ardour of men impelled to war by less powerful motives. Their zeal,
however, their bravery, and their irresistible force, still carried
them forward, and continually advanced them to the great end of their
enterprise. After an obstinate siege they took Nice, the seat of the
Turkish empire; they defeated Soliman in two great battles; they made
themselves masters of Antioch; and entirely broke the force of the
Turks, who had so long retained those countries in subjection: the
Soldan of Egypt, whose alliance they had hitherto courted, recovered,
on the fall of the Turkish power, his former authority in Jerusalem;
and he informed them by his ambassadors, that if they came disarmed to
that city, they might now perform their religious vows, and that all
Christian pilgrims, who should thenceforth visit the holy sepulchre,
might expect the same good treatment which they had ever received from
his predecessors. The offer was rejected; the soldan was required to
yield up the city to the Christians; and on his refusal, the champions
of the Cross advanced to the siege of Jerusalem, which they regarded
as the consummation of their labours. By the detachments which they
had made, and the disasters which they had undergone, they were
diminished to the number of twenty thousand foot and fifteen hundred
horse; but these were still formidable, from their valour, their
experience, and the obedience which, from past calamities, they had
learned to pay to their leaders. After a siege of five weeks, they
took Jerusalem by assault; and, impelled by a mixture of military and
religious rage, they put the numerous garrison and inhabitants to the
sword without distinction. Neither arms defended the valiant, nor
submission the timorous: no age or sex was spared: infants on the
breast were pierced by the same blow with their mothers, who implored
for mercy: even a multitude, to the number of ten thousand persons,
who had surrendered themselves prisoners, and were promised quarter,
were butchered in cool blood by those ferocious conquerors [a]. The
streets of Jerusalem were covered with dead bodies [b]; and the
triumphant warriors, after every enemy was subdued and slaughtered,
immediately turned themselves, with the sentiments of humiliation and
contrition, towards the holy sepulchre. They threw aside their arms,
still streaming with blood: they advanced with reclined bodies, and
naked feet and heads, to the sacred monument: they sung anthems to
their Saviour who had there purchased their salvation by his death and
agony: and their devotion, enlivened by the presence of the place
where he had suffered, so overcame their fury, that they dissolved in
tears, and bore the appearance of every soft and tender sentiment. So
inconsistent is human nature with itself! and so easily does the most
effeminate superstition ally, both with the most heroic courage and
with the fiercest barbarity!
[FN [a] Vertot, vol. i. p. 57. [b] M. Paris, p. 34. Order. Vital. p.
756. Diceto, p. 498.]

This great event happened on the 5th of July, in the last year of the
eleventh century. The Christian princes and nobles, after choosing
Godfrey of Bouillon King of Jerusalem, began to settle themselves in
their new conquests; while some of them returned to Europe, in order
to enjoy at home that glory which their valour had acquired them in
this popular and meritorious enterprise. Among these was Robert, Duke
of Normandy, who, as he had relinquished the greatest dominions of any
prince that attended the crusade, had all along distinguished himself
by the most intrepid courage, as well as by that affable disposition
and unbounded generosity which gain the hearts of soldiers, and
qualify a prince to shine in a military life. In passing through
Italy, he became acquainted with Sibylla, daughter of the Count of
Conversana, a young lady of great beauty and merit, whom he espoused:
indulging himself in this new passion, as well as fond of enjoying
ease and pleasure after the fatigues of so many rough campaigns, he
lingered a twelvemonth in that delicious climate; and though his
friends in the north looked every moment for his arrival, none of them
knew when they could with certainty expect it. By this delay he lost
the kingdom of England, which the great fame he had acquired during
the crusades, as well as his undoubted title, both by birth, and by
the preceding agreement with his deceased brother, would, had he been
present, have infallibly secured to him.

[MN Accession of Henry.]
Prince Henry was hunting with Rufus in the new forest, when
intelligence of that monarch's death was brought him; and being
sensible of the advantage attending the conjuncture, he hurried to
Winchester, in order to secure the royal treasure, which he knew to be
a necessary implement for facilitating his designs on the crown. He
had scarcely reached the place when William of Breteuil, keeper of the
treasure, arrived, and opposed himself to Henry's pretensions. This
nobleman, who had been engaged in the same party of hunting, had no
sooner heard of his master's death, than he hastened to take care of
his charge; and he told the prince that this treasure, as well as the
crown, belonged to his elder brother, who was now his sovereign; and
that he himself, for his part, was determined, in spite of all other
pretensions, to maintain his allegiance to him. But Henry, drawing
his sword, threatened him with instant death if he dared to disobey
him; and as others of the late king's retinue, who came every moment
to Winchester, joined the prince's party, Breteuil was obliged to
withdraw his opposition, and to acquiesce in this insolence [c].
[FN [c] Order. Vital. p. 782.]

Henry, without losing a moment, hastened with the money to London; and
having assembled some noblemen and prelates, whom his address, or
abilities, or presents, gained to his side, he was suddenly elected,
or rather saluted, king, and immediately proceeded to the exercise of
royal authority. In less than three days after his brother's death,
the ceremony of his coronation was performed by Maurice, Bishop of
London, who was persuaded to officiate on that occasion [d]; and thus
by his courage and celerity, he intruded himself into the vacant
throne. No one had sufficient spirit or sense of duty to appear in
defence of the absent prince: all men were seduced or intimidated:
present possession supplied the apparent defects in Henry's title,
which was indeed founded on plain usurpation: and the barons, as well
as the people, acquiesced in a claim which, though it could neither be
justified nor comprehended, could now, they found, be opposed through
the perils alone of civil war and rebellion.
[FN [d] Chron. Sax. p. 208. Order. Vital. p. 783.]

But as Henry foresaw that a crown, usurped against all rules of
justice, would sit unsteady on his head, he resolved, by fair
professions at least, to gain the affections of all his subjects.
Besides taking the usual coronation oath to maintain the laws and
execute justice, he passed a charter, which was calculated to remedy
many of the grievous oppressions which had been complained of during
the reigns of his father and brother [e]. He there promised, that, at
the death of any bishop or abbot, he never would seize the revenues of
the see or abbey during the vacancy, but would leave the whole to be
reaped by the successor; and that he would never let to farm any
ecclesiastical benefice, nor dispose of it for money. After this
concession to the church, whose favour was of so great importance, he
proceeded to enumerate the civil grievances which he purposed to
redress. He promised, that, upon the death of any earl, baron, or
military tenant, his heir should be admitted to the possession of his
estate, on paying a just and lawful relief; without being exposed to
such violent exactions as had been usual during the late reigns: he
remitted the wardship of minors, and allowed guardians to be
appointed, who should be answerable for the trust: he promised not to
dispose of any heiress in marriage but by the advice of all the
barons; and if any baron intended to give his daughter, sister, niece,
or kinswoman in marriage, it should only be necessary for him to
consult the king, who promised to take no money for his consent, nor
ever to refuse permission, unless the person to whom it was purposed
to many her should happen to be his enemy: he granted his barons and
military tenants the power of bequeathing, by will, their money or
personal estates; and if they neglected to make a will, he promised
that their heirs should succeed to them: he renounced the right of
imposing money-age, and of levying taxes at pleasure on the farms
which the barons retained in their own hands [f]: he made some general
professions of moderating fines: he offered a pardon for all offences;
and he remitted all debts due to the crown: he required that the
vassals of the barons should enjoy the same privileges which he
granted to his own barons: and he promised a general confirmation and
observance of the laws of King Edward. This is the substance of the
chief articles contained in that famous charter [g].
[FN [e] Chron. Sax. p. 208. Sim. Dunelm. p. 225. [f] See Appendix
II. [g] M. Paris, p. 38. Hoveden, p. 468. Brompton, p. 1021.
Hagulstadt, p. 310.]

To give greater authenticity to these concessions, Henry lodged a copy
of his charter in some abbey of each county, as if desirous that it
should be exposed to the view of all his subjects, and remain a
perpetual rule for the limitation and direction of his government: yet
it is certain, that, after the present purpose was served, he never
once thought, during his reign, of observing one single article of it;
and the whole fell so much into neglect and oblivion, that in the
following century, when the barons, who had heard an obscure tradition
of it, desired to make it the model of the great charter which they
exacted from King John, they could with difficulty find a copy of it
in the kingdom. But as to the grievances here meant to be redressed,
they were still continued in their full extent; and the royal
authority, in all those particulars, lay under no manner of
restriction. Reliefs of heirs, so capital an article, were never
effectually fixed till the time of Magna Charta [h]; and it is evident
that the general promise here given, of accepting a just and lawful
relief, ought to have been reduced to more precision, in order to give
security to the subject. The oppression of wardship and marriage was
perpetuated even till the reign of Charles II. And it appears from
Glanville [i], the famous justiciary of Henry II., that in his time,
where any man died intestate, an accident which must have been very
frequent when the art of writing was so little known, the king, or the
lord of the fief, pretended to seize all the movables, and to exclude
every heir, even the children of the deceased: a sure mark of a
tyrannical and arbitrary government.
[FN [h] Glanv. lib. 2. cap. 36. What is called a relief in the
Conqueror's laws, preserved by Ingulph, seems to have been the heriot;
since reliefs, as well as the other burdens of the feudal law, were
unknown in the age of the Confessor, whose laws these originally were.
[i] Lib. 7. cap. 16. This practice was contrary to the laws of King
Edward ratified by the Conqueror, as we learn from Ingulph, p. 91.
But laws had at this time very little influence: power and violence
governed every thing.]

The Normans, indeed, who domineered in England, were, during this age,
so licentious a people, that they may be pronounced incapable of any
true or regular liberty; which requires such improvement in knowledge
and morals as can only be the result of reflection and experience, and
must grow to perfection during several ages of settled and established
government. A people so insensible to the rights of their sovereign
as to disjoint, without necessity, the hereditary succession, and
permit a younger brother to intrude himself into the place of the
elder, whom they esteemed, and who was guilty of no crime, but being
absent, could not expect that that prince would pay any greater regard
to their privileges, or allow his engagements to fetter his power and
debar him from any considerable interest or convenience. They had,
indeed, arms in their hands, which prevented the establishment of a
total despotism, and left their posterity sufficient power, whenever
they should attain a sufficient degree of reason, to assure true
liberty: but their turbulent disposition frequently prompted them to
make such use of their arms, that they were more fitted to obstruct
the execution of justice, than to stop the career of violence and
oppresion. The prince, finding that greater opposition was often made
to him when he enforced the laws than when he violated them, was apt
to render his own will and pleasure the sole rule of government; and,
at every emergence, to consider more the power of the persons whom he
might offend, than the rights of those whom he might injure. The very
form of this charter of Henry proves that the Norman barons (for they,
rather than the people of England, were chiefly concerned in it) were
totally ignorant of the nature of united monarchy, and were ill
qualified to conduct, in conjunction with their sovereign, the machine
of government. It is an act of his sole power, is the result of his
free grace, contains some articles which bind others as well as
himself, and is therefore unfit to be the deed of any one who
possesses not the whole legislative power, and who may not at pleasure
revoke all his concessions.

Henry, farther to increase his popularity, degraded and committed to
prison Ralph Flambard, Bishop of Durham, who had been the chief
instrument of oppresion under his brother [k]: but this act was
followed by another, which was a direct violation of his own charter,
and was a bad prognostic of his sincere intentions to observe it: he
kept the see of Durham vacant for five years, and during that time
retained possession of all its revenues. Sensible of the great
authority which Anselm had acquired by his character of piety, and by
the persecutions which he had undergone from William, he sent repeated
messages to him at Lyons, where he resided, and invited him to return
and take possession of his dignities [l]. On the arrival of the
prelate, he proposed to him the renewal of that homage which he had
done his brother, and which he had never been refused by any English
bishop: but Anslem had acquired other sentiments by his journey to
Rome, and gave the king an absolute refusal. He objected to the
decrees of the council of Bari, at which he himself had assisted; and
he declared, that so far from doing homage for his spiritual dignity,
he would not so much as communicate with any ecclesiastic who paid
that submission, or who accepted of investitures from laymen. Henry;
who expected, in his present delicate situation, to reap great
advantages from the authority and popularity of Anselm, durst not
insist on his demand [m]: he only desired that the controversy might
be suspended: and that messengers might be sent to Rome, in order to
accommodate matters with the pope, and obtain his confirmation of the
laws and customs of England.
[FN [k] Chron. Sax. p. 208. W. Malm. p. 156. Matth. Paris, p. 39.
Alur. Beverl. p. 144. [l] Chron. Sax. p. 208. Order. Vital. p. 783.
Matth. Paris, p. 39. T. Rudborne, p. 273. [m] W. Malm. p. 225.]

[MN 1100. Marriage of the king.]
There immediately occurred an important affair, in which the king was
obliged to have recourse to the authority of Anselm. Matilda,
daughter of Malcolm III., King of Scotland, and niece to Edgar
Atheling, had, on her father's death, and the subsequent revolutions
in the Scottish government, been brought to England, and educated
under her aunt Christina, in the nunnery of Rumsey. This princess
Henry purposed to marry; but as she had worn the veil, though never
taken the vows, doubts might arise concerning the lawfulness of the
act; and it behoved him to be very careful not to shock, in any
particular, the religious prejudices of his subjects. The affair was
examined by Anselm in a council of the prelates and nobles, which was
summoned at Lambeth; Matilda there proved that she had put on the
veil, not with the view of entering into a religious life, but merely
in consequence of a custom familiar to the English ladies, who
protected their chastity from the brutal violence of the Normans by
taking shelter under that habit [n], which, amidst the horrible
licentiousness of the times, was yet generally revered. The council,
sensible that even a princess had otherwise no security for her
honour, admitted this reason as valid; they pronounced that Matilda
was still free to marry [o] and her espousals with Henry were
celebrated by Anselm with great pomp and solemnity [p]. No act of the
king's reign rendered him equally popular with his English subjects,
and tended more to establish him on the throne. Though Matilda,
during the life of her uncle and brothers, was not heir of the Saxon
line, she was become very dear to the English on account of her
connexions with it: and that people, who, before the Conquest, had
fallen into a kind of indifference towards their ancient royal family,
had felt so severely the tyranny of the Normans, that they reflected
with extreme regret on their former liberty, and hoped for more equal
and mild administration, when the blood of their native princes should
be mingled with that of their new sovereigns [q].
[FN [n] Eadmer, p. 57. [o] Ibid. [p] Hoveden, p. 468. [q] M. Paris,
p. 40.]

[MN 1100. Invasion by Duke Robert.]
But the policy and prudence of Henry, which, if time had been allowed
for these virtues to produce their full effect, would have secured him
possession of the crown, ran great hazard of being frustrated by the
sudden appearance of Robert, who returned to Normandy about a month
after the death of his brother William. [MN 1101.] He took
possession, without opposition, of that duchy; and immediately made
preparations for recovering England, of which, during his absence, he
had, by Henry's intrigues, been so unjustly defrauded. The great fame
which he had acquired in the East forwarded his pretensions; and the
Norman barons, sensible of the consequences, expressed the same
discontent at the separation of the duchy and kingdom, which had
appeared on the accession of William. Robert de Belesme, Earl of
Shrewsbury and Arundel, William de la Warenne, Earl of Surrey, Arnulf
de Montgomery, Walter Giffard, Robert de Pontefract, Robert de Mallet,
Yvo de Grentmesnil, and many others of the principal nobility [r],
invited Robert to make an attempt upon England, and promised, on his
landing, to join him with all their forces. Even the seamen were
affected with the general popularity of his name, and they carried
over to him the greater part of a fleet which had been equipped to
oppose his passage. Henry, in this extremity, began to be
apprehensive for his life, as well as for his crown, and had recourse
to the superstition of the people, in order to oppose their sentiment
of justice. He paid diligent court to Anselm, whose sanctity and
wisdom he pretended to revere. He consulted him in all difficult
emergencies; seemed to be governed by him in every measure; promised a
strict regard to ecclesiastical privileges; professed a great
attachment to Rome, and a resolution of persevering in an implicit
obedience to the decrees of councils, and to the will of the sovereign
pontiff. By these caresses and declarations, he entirely gained the
confidence of the primate, whose influence over the people, and
authority with the barons, were of the utmost service to him in his
present situation. Anselm scrupled not to assure the nobles of the
king's sincerity in those professions which he made of avoiding the
tyrannical and oppressive government of his father and brother: he
even rode through the ranks of the army, recommended to the soldiers
the defence of their prince, represented the duty of keeping their
oaths of allegiance, and prognosticated to them the greatest happiness
from the government of so wise and just a sovereign. By this
expedient, joined to the influence of the Earls of Warwick and
Mellent, of Roger Bigod, Richard de Redvers, and Robert Fitz-Hamon,
powerful barons, who still adhered to the present government, the army
was retained in the king's interest, and marched, with seeming union
and firmness, to oppose Robert, who had landed with his forces at
[FN [r] Order. Vital. p. 785.]

[MN Accommodation with Robert.]
The two armies lay in sight of each other for some days without coming
to action; and both princes, being apprehensive of the event, which
would probably be decisive, hearkened the more willingly to the
counsels of Anselm and the other great men, who mediated an
accommodation between them. After employing some negotiation, it was
agreed that Robert should resign his pretensions to England, and
receive in lieu of them an annual pension of three thousand marks;
that, if either of the princes died without issue, the other should
succeed to his dominions; that the adherents of each should be
pardoned and restored to all their possessions either in Normandy or
England; and that neither Robert nor Henry should thenceforth
encourage, receive, or protect the enemies of the other [s].
[FN [s] Chron. Sax. p. 209. W. Malmes. p. 156.]

[MN 1102.] This treaty, though calculated so much for Henry's
advantage, he was the first to violate. He restored, indeed, the
estates of all Robert's adherents; but was secretly determined, that
noblemen so powerful and so ill-affected, who had both inclination and
ability to disturb his government, should not long remain unmolested
in their present opulence and grandeur. He began with the Earl of
Shrewsbury, who was watched for some time by spies, and then indicted
on a charge, consisting of forty-five articles. This turbulent
nobleman, knowing his own guilt, as well as the prejudices of his
judges and the power of his prosecutor, had recourse to arms for
defence; but, being soon suppressed by the activity and address of
Henry, he was banished the kingdom, and his great estate was
confiscated. His ruin involved that of his two brothers, Arnulf de
Montgomery, and Roger Earl of Lancaster. Soon after followed the
prosecution and condemnation of Robert de Pontefract, and Robert de
Mallet, who had distinguished themselves among Robert's adherents.
[MN 1103.] William de Warenne was the next victim: even William Earl
of Cornwall, son of the Earl of Mortaigne, the king's uncle, having
given matter of suspicion against him, lost all the vast acquisitions
of his family in England. Though the usual violence and tyranny of
the Norman barons afforded a plausible pretence for those
prosecutions, and it is probable that none of the sentences pronounced
against these noblemen was wholly iniquitous, men easily saw or
conjectured, that the chief part of their guilt was not the injustice
or illegality of their conduct. Robert, enraged at the fate of his
friends, imprudently ventured to come into England; and he
remonstrated with his brother, in severe terms, against this breach of
treaty; but met with so bad a reception, that he began to apprehend
danger to his own liberty, and was glad to purchase an escape by
resigning his pension.

The indiscretion of Robert soon exposed him to more fatal injuries.
This prince, whose bravery and candour procured him respect while at a
distance, had no sooner attained the possession of power and enjoyment
of peace, than all the vigour of his mind relaxed, and he fell into
contempt among those who approached his person, or were subjected to
his authority. Alternately abandoned to dissolute pleasures and to
womanish superstition, he was so remiss, both in the care of his
treasure and the exercise of his government, that his servants
pillaged his money with impunity, stole from him his very clothes, and
proceeded thence to practise every species of extortion on his
defenceless subjects. The barons, whom a severe administration alone
could have restrained, gave reins to their unbounded rapine upon their
vassals, and inveterate animosities against each other; and all
Normandy, during the reign of this benign prince, was become a scene
of violence and depredation. [MN 1103. Attack of Normandy.] The
Normans, at last, observing the regular government which Henry,
notwithstanding his usurped title, had been able to establish in
England, applied to him, that he might use his authority for the
suppression of these disorders, and they thereby afforded him a
pretence for interposing in the affairs of Normandy. Instead of
employing his mediation to render his brother's government
respectable, or to redress the grievances of the Normans, he was only
attentive to support his own partisans, and to increase their number
by every art of bribery, intrigue, and insinuation. Having found, in
a visit which he made to that duchy, that the nobility were more
disposed to pay submission to him than to their legal sovereign, he
collected, by arbitrary extortions on England, a great army and
treasure [MN 1105.], and returned next year to Normandy, in a
situation to obtain, either by violence or corruption, the dominion of
that province. He took Bayeux by storm, after an obstinate siege: he
made himself master of Caen by the voluntary submission of the
inhabitants; but, being repulsed at Falaise, and obliged by the winter
season to raise the siege, he returned into England, after giving
assurance to his adherents, that he would persevere in supporting and
protecting them.

[MN 1106. Conquest of Normandy.]
Next year he opened the campaign with the siege of Tenchebray; and it
became evident, from his preparations and progress, that he intended
to usurp the entire possession of Normandy. Robert was at last roused
from his lethargy; and being supported by the Earl of Mortaigne and
Robert de Bellesme, the king's inveterate enemies, he raised a
considerable army, and approached his brother's camp, with a view of
finishing, in one decisive battle, the quarrel between them. He was
now entered on that scene of action in which alone he was qualified to
excel; and he so animated his troops by his example, that they threw
the English into disorder, and had nearly obtained the victory [t];
when the flight of Bellesme spread a panic among the Normans, and
occasioned their total defeat. Henry, besides doing great execution
on the enemy, made near ten thousand prisoners, among whom was Duke
Robert himself, and all the most considerable barons who adhered to
his interests [u]. This victory was followed by the final reduction
of Normandy: Rouen immediately submitted to the conqueror: Falaise,
after some negotiation, opened its gates; and by this acquisition,
besides rendering himself master of an important fortress, he got into
his hands Prince William, the only son of Robert: he assembled the
states of Normandy; and having received the homage of all the vassals
of the duchy, having settled the government, revoked his brother's
donations, and dismantled the castles lately built, he returned into
England, and carried along with him the duke as prisoner. That
unfortunate prince was detained in custody during the remainder of his
life, which was no less than twenty-eight years, and he died in the
castle of Cardiff, in Glamorganshire, happy if, without losing his
liberty, he could have relinquished that power which he was not
qualified either to hold or exercise. Prince William was committed to
the care of Helie de St. Saen, who had married Robert's natural
daughter, and who, being a man of probity and honour beyond what was
usual in those ages, executed the trust with great affection and
fidelity. Edgar Atheling, who had followed Robert in the expedition
to Jerusalem, and who had lived with him ever since in Normandy, was
another illustrious prisoner taken in the battle of Tenchebray [w].
Henry gave him his liberty, and settled a small pension on him, with
which he retired; and he lived to a good old age in England, totally
neglected and forgotten. This prince was distinguished by personal
bravery: but nothing can be a stronger proof of his mean talents in
every other respect, than that, notwithstanding he possessed the
affections of the English, and enjoyed the only legal title to the
throne, he was allowed, during the reigns of so many violent and
jealous usurpers, to live unmolested, and go to his grave in peace.
[FN [t] H. Hunt. p. 379. M. Paris, p .43. Brompton, p. 1002. [u]
Eadmer, p. 90. Chron. Sax. p. 214. Order. Vital. p. 821. [w] Chron.
Sax. p. 214. Ann. Waverl. n. 144.]

[MN 1107. Continuation of the quarrel with Anselm, the primate.]
A little after Henry had completed the conquest of Normandy, and
settled the government of that province, he finished a controversy,
which had been long depending between him and the pope, with regard to
the investitures in ecclesiastical benefices; and though he was here
obliged to relinquish sonic of the ancient rights of the crown, he
extricated himself from the difficulty on easier terms than most
princes who, in that age, were so unhappy as to be engaged in disputes
with the apostolic see. The king's situation, in the beginning of his
reign, obliged him to pay great court to Anselm: the advantages which
he had reaped from the zealous friendship of that prelate had made him
sensible how prone the minds of his people were to superstition, and
what an ascendant the ecclesiastics had been able to assume over them.
He had seen, on the accession of his brother Rufus, that, though the
rights of primogeniture were then violated, and the inclinations of
almost all the barons thwarted, yet the authority of Lanfranc, the
primate, had prevailed over all other considerations: his own case,
which was still more unfavourable, afforded an instance in which the
clergy had more evidently shown their influence and authority. These
recent examples, while they made him cautious not to offend that
powerful body, convinced him, at the same time, that it was extremely
his interest to retain the former prerogative of the crown in filling
offices of such vast importance, and to check the ecclesiastics in
that independence to which they visibly aspired. The choice, which
his brother, in a fit of penitence, had made of Anselm, was so far
unfortunate to the king's pretensions, that this prelate was
celebrated for his piety and zeal, and austerity of manners; and
though his monkish devotion and narrow principles prognosticated no
great knowledge of the world or depth of policy, he was, on that very
account, a more dangerous instrument in the hands of politicians, and
retained a greater ascendant over the bigoted populace. The prudence
and temper of the king appeared in nothing more conspicuous than in
the management of this delicate affair; where he was always sensible
that it had become necessary for him to risk his whole crown in order
to preserve the most invaluable jewel of it [x].
[FN [x] Eadmer, p. 56.]

Anselm had no sooner returned from banishment, than his refusal to do
homage to the king raised a dispute, which Henry evaded at that
critical juncture, by promising to send a messenger, in order to
compound the matter with Pascal II., who then filled the papal throne.
The messenger, as was probably foreseen, returned with an absolute
refusal of the king's demands [y]; and that fortified by many reasons,
which were well qualified to operate on the understandings of men in
those ages. Pascal quoted the Scriptures to prove that Christ was the
door; and he thence inferred, that all ecclesiastics must enter into
the church through Christ alone, not through the civil magistrate, or
any profane laymen [z]. "It is monstrous," added the pontiff, "that a
son should pretend to beget his father, or a man to create his God:
priests are called gods in Scripture, as being the vicars of God: and
will you, by your abominable pretensions to grant them their
investiture, assume the right of creating them [a]?"
[FN [y] W. Malm. p. 225. [z] Eadmer, p. 60. This topic is farther
enforced in p. 73, 74. See also W. Malm. p. 163. [a] Eadmer, p. 61.
I much suspect that this text of Scripture is a forgery of his
holiness; for I have not been able to find it. Yet it passed current
in those ages, and was often quoted by the clergy as the foundation of
their power. See St. Thom. p. 169.]

But how convincing soever these arguments, they could not persuade
Henry to resign so important a prerogative; and perhaps, as he was
possessed of great reflection and learning, he thought that the
absurdity of a man's creating his God, even allowing priests to be
gods, was not urged with the best grace by the Roman pontiff. But as
he desired still to avoid, at least to delay, the coming to any
dangerous extremity with the church, he persuaded Anselm, that he
should be able, by farther negotiation, to obtain some composition
with Pascal; and for that purpose he despatched three bishops to Rome,
while Anselm sent two messengers of his own to be more fully assured
of the pope's intentions [b]. Pascal wrote back letters equally
positive and arrogant, both to the king and primate; urging to the
former, that, by assuming the right of investitures, he committed a
kind of spiritual adultery with the church, who was the spouse of
Christ, and who must not admit of such a commerce with any other
person [c]; and insisting with the latter, that the pretension of
kings to confer benefices was the source of all simony: a topic which
had but too much foundation in those ages [d].
[FN [b] Eadmer, p. 62. W. Malm. p. 225. [c] Eadmer, p. 63. [d]
Eadmer, p. 64, 66.]

Henry had now no other expedient than to suppress the letter addressed
to himself, and to persuade the three bishops to prevaricate, and
assert, upon their episcopal faith, that Pascal had assured them in
private of his good intentions towards Henry, and of his resolution
not to resent any future exertion of his prerogative in granting
investitures; though he himself scrupled to give this assurance under
his hand, lest other princes should copy the example, and assume a
like privilege [e]. Anselm's two messengers, who were monks, affirmed
to him that it was impossible this story could have any foundation:
but their word was not deemed equal to that of three bishops; and the
king, as if he had finally gained his cause, proceeded to fill the
sees of Hereford and Salisbury, and to invest the new bishops in the
usual manner [f]. But Anselm, who, as he had good reason, gave no
credit to the asseveration of the king's messengers, refused not only
to consecrate them, but even to communicate with them, and the bishops
themselves, finding how odious they were become, returned to Henry the
ensigns of their dignity. The quarrel every day increased between the
king and the primate: the former, notwithstanding the prudence and
moderation of his temper, threw out menaces against such as should
pretend to oppose him in exerting the ancient prerogatives of his
crown; and Anselm, sensible of his own dangerous situation, desired
leave to make a journey to Rome, in order to lay the case before the
sovereign pontiff. Henry, well pleased to rid himself, without
violence, of so inflexible an antagonist, readily granted him
permission. The prelate was attended to the shore by infinite
multitudes, not only of monks and clergymen, but people of all ranks,
who scrupled not in this manner to declare for their primate against
their sovereign, and who regarded his departure as the final abolition
of religion and true piety in the kingdom [g]. The king, however,
seized all the revenues of his see; and sent William de Warelwast to
negotiate with Pascal, and to find some means of accommodation in this
delicate affair.
[FN [e] Ibid. p. 65. W. Malm. p. 225. [f] Eadmer, p. 66. W. Malm.
p. 225. Hoveden, p. 469. Sim. Dunelm. p. 228. [f] Eadmer, p. 71.]

The English minister told Pascal, that his master would rather lose
his crown than part with the right of granting investitures. "And I,"
replied Pascal, "would rather lose my head than allow him to retain it
[h]." Henry secretly prohibited Anselm from returning, unless he
resolved to conform himself to the laws and usages of the kingdom; and
the primate took up his residence at Lyons, in expectation that the
king would at last be obliged to yield the point which was the present
object of controversy between them. Soon after he was permitted to
return to his monastery at Bec in Normandy; and Henry, besides
restoring to him the revenues of his see, treated him with the
greatest respect, and held several conferences with him, in order to
soften his opposition, and bend him to submission [i]. The people of
England, who thought all differences now accommodated, were inclined
to blame their primate for absenting himself so long from his charge;
and he daily received letters from his partizans, representing the
necessity of his speedy return. The total extinction, they told him,
of religion and Christianity were likely to ensue from the want of his
fatherly care: the most shocking customs prevail in England; and the
dread of his severity being now removed, sodomy, and the practice of
wearing long hair, gain ground among all ranks of men, and these
enormities openly appear every where without sense of shame or fear of
punishment [k].
[FN [h] Eadmer, p. 73. W. Malm. p. 226. M. Paris, p. 40. [i]
Hoveden, p. 471. [k] Eadmer, p. 81.]

The policy of the court of Rome has commonly been much admired; and
men, judging by success, have bestowed the highest eulogies on that
prudence by which a power from such slender beginnings, could advance,
without force of arms, to establish an universal and almost absolute
monarchy in Europe. But the wisdom of so long a succession of men who
filled the papal throne, and who were of such different ages, tempers,
and interests, is not intelligible, and could never have place in
nature. The instrument, indeed, with which they wrought, the
ignorance and superstition of the people, is so gross an engine, of
such universal prevalence, and so little liable to accident or
disorder, that it may be successful even in the most unskilful hands;
and scarce any indiscretion can frustrate its operations. While the
court of Rome was openly abandoned to the most flagrant disorders,
even while it was torn with schisms and factions, the power of the
church daily made a sensible progress in Europe; and the temerity of
Gregory and caution of Pascal were equally fortunate in promoting it.
The clergy, feeling the necessity which they lay under of being
protected against the violence of princes or rigour of the laws, were
well pleased to adhere to a foreign head, who, being removed from the
fear of the civil authority, could freely employ the power of the
whole church, in defending her ancient or usurped properties and
privileges, when invaded in any particular country: the monks,
desirous of an independence of their diocesans, professed a still more
devoted attachment to the triple crown; and the stupid people
possessed no science or reason, which they could oppose to the most
exorbitant pretensions. Nonsense passed for demonstration: the most
criminal means were sanctified by the piety of the end: treaties were
not supposed to be binding, where the interests of God were concerned:
the ancient laws and customs of states had no authority against a
divine right: impudent forgeries were received as authentic monuments
of antiquity: and the champions of holy church, if successful, were
celebrated as heroes; if unfortunate, were worshipped as martyrs; and
all events thus turned out equally to the advantage of clerical
usurpations. Pascal himself, the reigning pope, was, in the course of
this very controversy concerning investitures, involved in
circumstances and necessitated to follow a conduct, which would have
drawn disgrace and ruin on any temporal prince that had been so
unfortunate as to fall into a like situation. His person was seized
by the Emperor, Henry V., and he was obliged, by a formal treaty, to
resign to that monarch the right of granting investitures, for which
they had so long contended [l]. In order to add greater solemnity to
this agreement, the emperor and pope communicated together on the same
host, one half of which was given to the prince, the other taken by
the pontiff: the most tremendous imprecations were publicly denounced
on either of them who should violate the treaty: yet no sooner did
Pascal recover his liberty, than he revoked all his concessions, and
pronounced the sentence of excommunication against the emperor, who,
in the end, was obliged to submit to the terms required of him, and to
yield up all his pretensions, which he never could resume [m].
[FN [l] W. Malm. p. 167. [m] Padre Paolo sopra benef. eccles. p. 112.
W. Malmes. p. 170. Chron. Abb. St. Petri de Burgo, p. 63. Sim.
Dunelm. p. 233.]

The King of England had very nearly fallen into the same dangerous
situation: Pascal had already excommunicated the Earl of Mellent, and
the other ministers of Henry, who were instrumental in supporting his
pretensions [n]: he daily menaced the king himself with a like
sentence; and he suspended the blow only to give him leisure to
prevent it by a timely submission. The malecontents waited
impatiently for the opportunity of disturbing his government by
conspiracies and insurrections [o]: the king's best friends were
anxious at the prospect of an incident which would set their religious
and civil duties at variance; and the Countess of Blois, his sister, a
princess of piety, who had great influence over him, was affrightened
with the danger of her brother's eternal damnation [p]. Henry, on the
other hand, seemed determined to run all hazards, rather than resign a
prerogative of such importance, which had been enjoyed by all his
predecessors; and it seemed probable, from his great prudence and
abilities, that he might be able to sustain his rights, and finally
prevail in the contest. While Pascal and Henry thus stood mutually in
awe of each other, it was the more easy to bring about an
accommodation between them, and to find a medium in which they might
[FN [n] Eadmer, p. 79. [o] Ibid. p. 80. [p] Ibid. p. 79.]

[MN Compromise with Anselm.]
Before bishops took possession of their dignities, they had formerly
been accustomed to pass through two ceremonies: they received from the
hands of the sovereign a ring and crosier, as symbols of their office;
and this was called their INVESTITURE: they also made those
submissions to the prince which were required of vassals by the rights
of the feudal law, and which received the name of HOMAGE. And as the
king might refuse both to grant the INVESTITURE and to receive the
HOMAGE, though the chapter had, by some canons of the middle age, been
endowed with the right of election, the sovereign had in reality the
sole power of appointing prelates. Urban II. had equally deprived
laymen of the rights of granting investiture and of receiving homage
[q]: the emperors never were able, by all their wars and negotiations,
to make any distinction be admitted between them: the interposition of
profane laymen, in any particular, was still represented as impious
and abominable; and the church openly aspired to a total independence
on the state. But Henry had put England as well as Normandy in such a
situation as gave greater weight to his negotiations; and Pascal was
for the present satisfied with his resigning the right of granting
investitures, by which the spiritual dignity was supposed to be
conferred; and he allowed the bishops to do homage for their temporal
properties and privileges [r]. The pontiff was well pleased to have
made this acquisition, which, he hoped, would in time involve the
whole; and the king, anxious to procure an escape from a very
dangerous situation, was content to retain some, though a more
precarious authority, in the election of prelates.
[FN [q] Eadmer, p. 91. W. Malm. p. 163. Sim. Dunelm. p. 230. [r]
Eadmer, p. 91. W. Malm. p. 164, 227. Hoveden, p. 471. M. Paris, p.
43. T. Rudb. p. 274. Brompton, p. 1000. Wilkins, p. 303. Chron.
Dunst. p. 21.]

After the principal controversy was accommodated, it was not difficult
to adjust the other differences. The pope allowed Anselm to
communicate with the prelates who had already received investitures
from the crown; and he only required of them some submissions for
their past misconduct [s]. He also granted Anselm a plenary power of
remedying every other disorder, which, he said, might arise from the
barbarousness of the country [t]. Such was the idea which the popes
then entertained of the English; and nothing can be a stronger proof
of the miserable ignorance in which that people were then plunged,
than that a man who sat on the papal throne, and who subsisted by
absurdities and nonsense, should think himself entitled to treat them
as barbarians.
[FN [s] Eadmer p. 87. [t] Ibid. p. 91.]

During the course of these controversies, a synod was held at
Westminster, where the king, intent only on the main dispute, allowed
some canons of less importance to be enacted, which tended to promote
the usurpations of the clergy. The celibacy of priests was enjoined,
a point which it was still found very difficult to carry into
execution; and even laymen were not allowed to marry within the
seventh degree of affinity [u]. By this contrivance the pope
augmented the profits which he reaped from granting dispensations, and
likewise those from divorces. For as the art of writing was then
rare, and parish registers were not regularly kept, it was not easy to
ascertain the degrees of affinity even among people of rank; and any
man who had money sufficient to pay for it, might obtain a divorce, on
pretence that his wife was more nearly related to him than was
permitted by the canons. The synod also passed a vote, prohibiting
the laity from wearing long hair [w]. The aversion of the clergy to
this mode was not confined to England. When the king went to
Normandy, before he had conquered that province, the Bishop of Seez,
in a formal harangue, earnestly exhorted him to redress the manifold
disorders under which the government laboured, and to oblige the
people to poll their hair in a decent form. Henry, though he would
not resign his prerogatives to the church, willingly parted with his
hair: he cut it in the form which they required of him, and obliged
all the courtiers to imitate his example [x].
[FN [u] Eadmer, p. 67, 68. Spellm. Conc. vol. ii. p. 22. [w] Eadmer,
p. 68. [x] Order. Vital. p. 816.]

[MN Wars abroad.]
The acquisition of Normandy was a great point of Henry's ambition;
being the ancient patrimony of his family, and the only territory,
which, while in his possession, gave him any weight or consideration
on the continent: but the injustice of his usurpation was the source
of great inquietude, involved him in frequent wars, and obliged him to
impose on his English subjects those many heavy and arbitrary taxes,
of which all the historians of that age unanimously complain [y].
His nephew, William, was but six years of age when he committed him to
the care of Helie de St. Saen; and it is probable, that his reason for
intrusting that important charge to a man of so unblemished a
character was to prevent all malignant suspicions, in case any
accident should befall the life of the young prince. [MN 1110.] He
soon repented of his choice, but when he desired to recover possession
of William's person, Helie withdrew his pupil, and carried him to the
court of Fulk, Count of Anjou, who gave him protection [z]. In
proportion as the prince grew up to man's estate, he discovered
virtues becoming his birth; and wandering through different courts of
Europe, he excited the friendly compassion of many princes, and raised
a general indignation against his uncle, who had so unjustly bereaved
him of his inheritance. Lewis the Gross, son of Philip, was at this
time King of France, a brave and generous prince, who having been
obliged, during the lifetime of his father, to fly into England, in
order to escape the persecutions of his step-mother, Bertrude, had
been protected by Henry, and had thence conceived a personal
friendship for him. But these ties were soon dissolved after the
accession of Lewis, who found his interests to be in so many
particulars opposite to those of the English monarch, and who became
sensible of the danger attending the annexation of Normandy to
England. He joined, therefore, the Counts of Anjou and Flanders in
giving disquiet to Henry's government; and this monarch, in order to
defend his foreign dominions, found himself obliged to go over to
Normandy, where he resided two years. The war which ensued amongst
those princes was attended with no memorable event, and produced only
slight skirmishes on the frontiers, agreeable to the weak condition of
the sovereigns in that age whenever their subjects were not roused by
some great and urgent occasion. Henry, by contracting his eldest son,
William, to the daughter of Fulk, detached the prince from the
alliance, and obliged the others to come to an accommodation with him.
This peace was not of long duration. His nephew, William, retired to
the court of Baldwin, Earl of Flanders, who espoused his cause; and
the King of France having soon after, for other reasons, joined the
party, a new war was kindled in Normandy, which produced no event more
memorable than had attended the former. [MN 1113.] At last the death
of Baldwin, who was slain in an action near Eu, gave some respite to
Henry, and enabled him to carry on war with more advantage against his
[FN [y] Eadmer, p. 83. Chron. Sax. p. 211, 212, 213, 219, 220, 228.
H. Hunt p. 380. Hoveden, p. 470. Ann. Waverl. p. 143. [z] Order
Vital. p. 837.]

Lewis, finding himself unable to wrest Normandy from the king by force
of arms, had recourse to the dangerous expedient of applying to the
spiritual power, and of affording the ecclesiastics a pretence to
interpose in the temporal concerns of princes. He carried young
William to a general council, which was assembled at Rheims by Pope
Calixtus II., presented the Norman prince to them, complained of the
manifest usurpation and injustice of Henry, craved the assistance of
the church for reinstating the true heir in his dominions, and
represented the enormity of detaining in captivity so brave a prince
as Robert, one of the most eminent champions of the cross, and who, by
that very quality, was placed under the immediate protection of the
holy see. Henry knew how to defend the rights of his crown with
vigour, and yet with dexterity. He had sent over the English bishops
to this synod; but at the same time had warned them, that if any
farther claims were started by the pope or the ecclesiastics, he was
determined to adhere to the laws and customs of England, and maintain
the prerogatives transmitted to him by his predecessors. "Go," said
he to them, "salute the pope in my name; hear his apostolical
precepts; but take care to bring none of his new inventions into my
kingdom." Finding, however, that it would be easier for him to elude
than oppose the efforts of Calixtus, he gave his ambassadors orders to
gain the pope and his favourites by liberal presents and promises.
[MN 1119.] The complaints of the Norman prince were thenceforth heard
with great coldness by the council; and Calixtus confessed, after a
conference which he had the same summer with Henry, and when that
prince probably renewed his presents, that, of all men whom he had
ever yet been acquainted with, he was, beyond comparison, the most
eloquent and persuasive.

The warlike measures of Lewis proved as ineffectual as his intrigues.
He had laid a scheme for surprising Noyon; but Henry having received
intelligence of the design, marched to the relief of the place, and
suddenly attacked the French at Brenneville, as they were advancing
towards it. A sharp conflict ensued, where Prince William behaved
with great bravery, and the king himself was in the most imminent
danger. He was wounded in the head by Crispin, a gallant Norman
officer, who had followed the fortunes of William [a]; but, being
rather animated than terrified by the blow, he immediately beat his
antagonist to the ground, and so encouraged his troops by the example,
that they put the French to total rout, and had very nearly taken
their king prisoner. The dignity of the persons engaged in this
skirmish rendered it the most memorable action of the war; for, in
other respects, it was not of great importance. There were nine
hundred horsemen, who fought on both sides; yet were there only two
persons slain. The rest were defended by that heavy armour worn by
the cavalry in those times [b]. An accommodation soon after ensued
between the Kings of France and England; and the interests of young
William were entirely neglected in it.
[FN [a] H. Hunt. p. 381. M. Paris, p. 47. Diceto, p. 503. [b]
Order. Vital. p. 854.]

[MN 1120. Death of Prince William.]
But this public prosperity of Henry was much overbalanced by a
domestic calamity which befel him. His only son, William, had now
reached his eighteenth year, and the king, from the facility with
which he himself had usurped the crown, dreading that a like
revolution might subvert his family, had taken care to have him
recognized successor by the states of the kingdom, and had carried him
over to Normandy, that he might receive the homage of the barons of
that duchy. The king, on his return, set sail from Barfleur, and was
soon carried by a fair wind out of sight of land. The prince was
detained by some accident; and his sailors, as well as their captain,
Thomas Fitz-Stephens, having spent the interval in drinking, were so
flustered, that being in a hurry to follow the king, they heedlessly
carried the ship on a rock, where she immediately foundered. William
was put into the long boat, and had got clear of the ship, when,
hearing the cries of his natural sister, the Countess of Perche, he
ordered the seamen to row back in hopes of saving her; but the numbers
who then crowded in soon sunk the boat; and the prince, with all his
retinue, perished. Above a hundred and forty young noblemen, of the
principal families of England and Normandy, were lost on this
occasion. A butcher of Rouen was the only person on board who escaped
[c]. He clung to the mast, and was taken up next morning by
fishermen. Fitz-Stephens also took hold of the mast, but being
informed by the butcher that Prince William had perished, he said that
he would not survive the disaster; and he threw himself headlong into
the sea [d]. Henry entertained hopes for three days, that his son had
put into some distant port of England; but when certain intelligence
of the calamity was brought him, he fainted away; and it was remarked,
that he never after was seen to smile, nor ever recovered his wonted
cheerfulness [e].
[FN [c] Sim. Dunelm. p. 242. Alured Beverl. p. 148. [d] Order.
Vital. p. 868. [e] Hoveden, p. 476. Order. Vital. p. 869.]

The death of William may be regarded, in one respect, as a misfortune
to the English; because it was the immediate source of those civil
wars, which, after the demise of the king, caused such confusion in
the kingdom; but it is remarkable, that the young prince had
entertained a violent aversion to the natives; and had been heard to
threaten, that when he should be king, he would make them draw the
plough, and would turn them into beasts of burden. These
prepossessions he inherited from his father, who, though he was wont,
when it might serve his purpose, to value himself on his birth, as a
native of England [f], showed, in the course of his government, an
extreme prejudice against that people. All hopes of preferment, to
ecclesiastical as well as civil dignities, were denied them during
this whole reign; and any foreigner, however ignorant or worthless,
was sure to have the preference in every competition [g]. As the
English had given no disturbance to the government during the course
of fifty years, this inveterate antipathy in a prince of so much
temper as well as penetration, forms a presumption that the English of
that age were still a rude and barbarous people, even compared to the
Normans, and impresses us with no very favourable idea of the Anglo-
Saxon manners.
[FN [f] Gu1. Neub. lib. 1. cap. 3. [g] Eadmer, p. 110.]

Prince William left no children; and the king had not now any
legitimate issue, except one daughter, Matilda, whom, in 1110, he had
betrothed, though only eight years of age [h], to the Emperor Henry
V., and whom he had then sent over to be educated in Germany [i]. But
as her absence from the kingdom, and her marriage into a foreign
family, might endanger the succession, Henry, who was now a widower,
was induced to marry, in hopes of having male heirs; [MN King's second
marriage. 1121.] and he made his addresses to Adelais, daughter of
Godfrey, Duke of Lovaine, and niece of Pope Calixtus, a young princess
of an amiable person [k]. But Adelais brought him no children; and
the prince who was most likely to dispute the succession, and even the
immediate possession of the crown, recovered hopes of subverting his
rival, who had successively seized all his patrimonial dominions.
William, the son of Duke Robert, was still protected in the French
court; and as Henry's connexions with the Count of Anjou were broken
off by the death of his son, Fulk joined the party of the unfortunate
prince, gave him his daughter in marriage, and aided him in raising
disturbances in Normandy. But Henry found the means of drawing off
the Count of Anjou, by forming anew with him a nearer connexion than
the former, and one more material to the interests of that count's
family. [MN 1127.] The emperor, his son-in-law, dying without issue,
he bestowed his daughter on Geoffrey, the eldest son of Fulk, and
endeavoured to ensure her succession by having her recognized heir to
all his dominions, and obliging the barons, both of Normandy and
England to swear fealty to her. [MN 1128.] He hoped that the choice
of this husband would be more agreeable to all his subjects than that
of the emperor; as securing them from the danger of falling under the
dominion of a great and distant potentate, who might bring them into
subjection, and reduce their country to the rank of a province: but
the barons were displeased that a step so material to national
interests had been taken without consulting them [l]; and Henry had
too sensibly experienced the turbulence of their disposition, not to
dread the effects of their resentment. It seemed probable, that his
nephew's party might gain force from the increase of the malecontents:
an accession of power which that prince acquired a little after,
tended to render his pretensions still more dangerous. Charles, Earl
of Flanders, being assassinated during the celebration of divine
service, King Lewis immediately put the young prince in possession of
that country, to which he had pretensions in the right of his
grandmother Matilda, wife to the Conqueror. But William survived a
very little time this piece of good fortune, which seemed to open the
way to still farther prosperity. He was killed in a skirmish with the
Landgrave of Alsace, his competitor for Flanders; and his death put an
end, for the present, to the jealousy and inquietude of Henry.
[FN [h] Chron. Sax. p. 215. W. Malm. p. 166. Order. Vital. p. 83.
[i] See note [M], at the end of the volume. [k] Chron. Sax. p. 223.
W. Malm. p. 165. [l] W. Malm. p. 175. The annals of Waverly, p. 150,
say, that the king asked and obtained the consent of all the barons.]

The chief merit of this monarch's government consists in the profound
tranquillity which he established and maintained throughout all his
dominions during the greater part of his reign. The mutinous barons
were retained in subjection; and his neighbours, in every attempt
which they made upon him, found him so well prepared, that they were
discouraged from continung or renewing their enterprises. In order to
repress the incursions of the Welsh, he brought over some Flemings, in
the year 1111, and settled them in Pembrokeshire, where they long
maintained a different language, and customs, and manners, from their
neighbours. Though his government seems to have been arbitrary in
England, it was judicious and prudent; and was as little oppressive as
the necessity of his affairs would permit. He wanted not attention to
the redress of grievances; and historians mention in particular the
levying of purveyance, which he endeavoured to moderate and restrain.
The tenants in the king's demesne lands were at that time obliged to
supply, GRATIS, the court with provisions, and to furnish carriages on
the same hard terms, when the king made a progress, as he did
frequently, into any of the counties. These exactions were so
grievous, and levied in so licentious a manner, that the farmers, when
they heard of the approach of the court, often deserted their houses
as if an enemy had invaded the country [m], and sheltered their
persons and families in the woods from the insults of the king's
retinue. Henry prohibited those enormities, and punished the persons
guilty of them by cutting off their hands, legs, or other members [n].
But the prerogative was perpetual; the remedy applied by Henry was
temporary; and the violence itself of this remedy, so far from giving
security to the people, was only a proof of the ferocity of the
government, and threatened a quick return of like abuses.
[FN [m] Eadmer, p. 94. Chron. Sax. p. 212. [n] Eadmer, p. 94.]

One great and difficult object of the king's prudence was, the
guarding against the encroachments of the court of Rome, and
protecting the liberties of the church of England. The pope, in the
year 1101, had sent Guy, Archbishop of Vienne, as legate into Britain;
and though he was the first that for many years had appeared there in
that character, and his commission gave general surprise [o], the
king, who was then in the commencement of his reign, and was involved
in many difficulties, was obliged to submit to this encroachment on
his authority. But in the year 1116, Anselm, Abbot of St. Sabas, who
was coming over with a like legatine commission, was prohibited from
entering the kingdom [p]; and Pope Calixtus who, in his turn, was then
labouring under many difficulties, by reason of the pretensions of
Gregory, an anti-pope, was obliged to promise that he never would for
the future, except when solicited by the king himself, send any legate
into England [q]. Notwithstanding this engagement, the pope, as soon
as he had suppressed his antagonist, granted the Cardinal de Crema a
legatine commission over that kingdom; and the king, who, by reason of
his nephew's intrigues and invasions, found himself at that time in a
dangerous situation, was obliged to submit to the exercise of this
commission [r]. A synod was called by the legate at London; where,
among other canons, a vote passed, enacting severe penalties on the
marriages of the clergy [s]. The cardinal, in a public harangue,
declared it to be an unpardonable enormity, that a priest should dare
to consecrate and touch the body of Christ immediately after he had
risen from the side of a strumpet; for that was the decent appellation
which he gave to the wives of the clergy. But it happened that, the
very next night, the officers of justice, breaking into a disorderly
house, found the cardinal in bed with a courtezan [t]; an incident
which threw such ridicule upon him, that he immediately stole out of
the kingdom: the synod broke up; and the canons against the marriage
of clergymen were worse executed than ever [u].
[FN [o] Ibid. p. 58. [p] Hoveden, p. 474. [q] Eadmer, p. 125, 137,
138. [r] Chron. Sax. p. 229. [s] Spellm. Conc. vol. ii. p. 34. [t]
Hoveden, p. 478. M. Paris, p. 48. Matth. West. ad. ann. 1125. H.
Huntingdon, p. 382. It is remarkable that this last writer, who was a
clergyman as well as the others, makes an apology for using such
freedom with the fathers of the church; but says, that the fact was
notorious, and ought not to be concealed. [u] Chron. Sax. p. 234.]

Henry, in order to prevent this alternate revolution of concessions
and encroachments, sent William, then Archbishop of Canterbury, to
remonstrate with the court of Rome against those abuses, and to assert
the liberties of the English church. It was a usual maxim with every
pope, when he found that he could not prevail in any pretension, to
grant princes or states a power which they had always exercised, to
resume, at a proper juncture, the claim which seemed to be resigned,
and to pretend that the civil magistrate had possessed the authority
only from a special indulgence of the Roman pontiff. After this
manner, the pope, finding that the French nation would not admit his
claim of granting investitures, had passed a bull, giving the king
that authority; and he now practised a like invention to elude the
complaints of the King of England. He made the Archbishop of
Canterbury his legate, renewed his commission from time to time, and
still pretended that the rights which that prelate had ever exercised
as metropolitan were entirely derived from the indulgence of the
apostolic see. The English princes, and Henry in particular, who were
glad to avoid any immediate contest of so dangerous a nature, commonly
acquiesced by their silence in these pretensions of the court of Rome
[FN [w] See note [N], at the end of the volume.]

As every thing in England remained in tranquillity, Henry took the
opportunity of paying a visit to Normandy, to which he was invited, as
well by his affection for that country, as by his tenderness for his
daughter, the Empress Matilda, who was always his favourite. [MN
1132.] Some time after, that princess was delivered of a son, who
received the name of Henry; and the king, farther to ensure her
succession, made all the nobility of England and Normandy renew the
oath of fealty, which they had already sworn to her [x]. The joy of
this event, and the satisfaction which he reaped from his daughter's
company, who bore successively two other sons, made his residence in
Normandy very agreeable to him [y]; [MN 1135.] and he seemed
determined to pass the remainder of his days in that country; when an
incursion of the Welsh obliged him to think of returning into England.
He was preparing for the journey, but was seized with a sudden illness
at St. Dennis le Forment [MN 1st. Dec.], from eating too plentifully
of lampreys, a food which always agreed better with his palate than
his constitution [z]. [MN Death, and character of Henry.] He died in
the sixty-seventh year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of his reign;
leaving by will his daughter, Matilda, heir of all his dominions,
without making any mention of her husband Geoffrey, who had given him
several causes of displeasure [a].
[FN [x] W. Malm. p. 177. [y] H. Hunt. p. 385. [z] Ibid. p. 385. M.
Paris, p. 50. [a] W. Malm. p. 178.]

This prince was one of the most accomplished that has filled the
English throne, and possessed all the great qualities both of body and
mind, natural and acquired which could fit him for the high station to
which he attained. His person was manly, his countenance engaging,
his eyes clear, serene, and penetrating. The affability of his
address encouraged those who might be overawed by the sense of his
dignity or of his wisdom; and though he often indulged his facetious
humour, he knew how to temper it with discretion, and ever kept at a
distance from all indecent familiarities with his courtiers. His
superior eloquence and judgment would have given him an ascendant,
even had he been born in a private station; and his personal bravery
would have procured him respect, though it had been less supported by
art and policy. By his great progress in literature, he acquired the
name of BEAUCLERK, or the Scholar: but his application to those
sedentary pursuits abated nothing of the activity and vigilance of his
government; and though the learning of that age was better fitted to
corrupt than improve the understanding, his natural good sense
preserved itself untainted both from the pedantry and superstition
which were then so prevalent among men of letters. His temper was
susceptible of the sentiments as well of friendship as of resentment
[b]; and his ambition though high, might be deemed moderate and
reasonable, had not his conduct towards his brother and nephew showed
that he was too much disposed to sacrifice to it all the maxims of
justice and equity. But the total incapacity of Robert for government
afforded his younger brother a reason or pretence for seizing the
sceptre both of England and Normandy; and when violence and usurpation
are once begun, necessity obliges a prince to continue in the same
criminal course, and engages him in measures which his better judgment
and sounder principles would otherwise have induced him to reject with
warmth and indignation.
[FN [b] Order. Vital. p. 805.]

King Henry was much addicted to women; and historians mention no less
than seven illegitimate sons and six daughters born to him [c].
Hunting was also one of his favourite amusements; and he exercised
great rigour against those who encroached on the royal forests, which
were augmented during his reign [d], though their number and extent
were already too great. To kill a stag was as criminal as to murder a
man: he made all the dogs be mutilated which were kept on the borders
of his forests; and he sometimes deprived his subjects of the liberty
of hunting on their own lands, or even cutting their own woods. In
other respects, he executed justice, and that with rigour; the best
maxim which a prince in that age could follow. Stealing was first
made capital in this reign [e]; false coining, which was then a very
common crime, and by which the money had been extremely debased, was
severely punished by Henry [f]. Near fifty criminals of this kind
were at one time hanged or mutilated; and though these punishments
seem to have been exercised in a manner somewhat arbitrary, they were
grateful to the people, more attentive to present advantages than
jealous of general laws. There is a code which passes under the name
of Henry I., but the best antiquaries have agreed to think it
spurious. It is however a very ancient compilation, and may be useful
to instruct us in the manners and customs of the times. We learn from
it, that a great distinction was then made between the English and
Normans, much to the advantage of the latter [g]. The deadly feuds,
and the liberty of private revenge, which had been avowed by the Saxon
laws, were still continued, and were not yet wholly illegal [h].
[FN [c] Gul. Gemet. lib. 8. cap. 29. [d] W. Malm. p. 179. [e] Sim.
Dunelm p. 231. Brompton, p. 1000. Flor. Wigorn. p. 653. Hoveden, p.
471. [f] Sim. Dunelm. p. 231. Brompton, p. 1000. Hoveden, p. 471.
Annal. Waverl. p. 149. [g] LL. Hen. I. Sec, 18, 75. [h] Ibid. Sec.

Among the laws granted on the king's accession, it is remarkable that
the reunion of the civil and ecclesiastical courts, as in the Saxon
times, was enacted [i]. But this law, like the articles of his
charter, remained without effect, probably from the opposition of
Archbishop Anselm.
[FN [i] Spellm. p. 305. Blackstone, vol. iii. p. 63. Coke, 2 Inst.

Henry, on his accession, granted a charter to London, which seems to
have been the first step towards rendering that city a corporation.
By this charter, the city was empowered to keep the farm of Middlesex
at three hundred pounds a year, to elect its own sheriff and
justiciary, and to hold pleas of the crown: and it was exempted from
scot, Danegelt, trials by combat, and lodging the king's retinue.
These, with a confirmation of the privileges of their court of
hustings, wardmotes, and common halls, and their liberty of hunting in
Middlesex and Surrey, are the chief articles of this charter [k].
[FN [k] Lambardi Archaionomia ex edit. Twisden. Wilkins, p. 235.]

It is said [l], that this prince, from indulgence to his tenants,
changed the rents of his demesnes, which were formerly paid in kind,
into money, which was more easily remitted to the exchequer. But the
great scarcity of coin would render that commutation difficult to be
executed, while at the same time provisions could not be sent to a
distant quarter of the kingdom. This affords a probable reason why
the ancient kings of England so frequently changed their place of
abode: they carried their court from one place to another, that they
might consume upon the spot the revenue of their several demesnes.
[FN [l] Dial. de Scaccario, lib. 1. cap. 7.]




[MN 1135.] In the progress and settlement of the feudal law, the male
succession to fiefs had taken place some time before the female was
admitted; and estates being considered as military benefices, not as
property, were transmitted to such only as could serve in the armies,
and perform in person the conditions upon which they were originally
granted. But when the continuance of rights, during some generations,
in the same family, had in a great measure, obliterated the primitive
idea, the females were gradually admitted to the possession of feudal
property; and the same revolution of principles which procured them
the inheritance of private estates naturally introduced their
succession to government and authority. The failure, therefore, of
male heirs to the kingdom of England and duchy of Normandy seemed to
leave the succession open, without a rival, to the Empress Matilda;
and as Henry had made all his vassals, in both states, swear fealty to
her, he presumed that they would not easily be induced to depart at
once from her hereditary right, and from their own reiterated oaths
and engagements. But the irregular manner in which he himself had
acquired the crown might have instructed him, that neither his Norman
nor English subjects were as yet capable of adhering to a strict rule
of government; and as every precedent of this kind seems to give
authority to new usurpations, he had reason to dread, even from his
own family, some invasion of his daughter's title which he had taken
such pains to establish.

Adela, daughter of William the Conqueror, had been married to Stephen,
Count of Blois, and had brought him several sons, among whom Stephen
and Henry, the two youngest, had been invited over to England by the
late king, and had received great honours, riches, and preferment,
from the zealous friendship which that prince bore to every one that
had been so fortunate as to acquire his favour and good opinion.
Henry, who had betaken himself to the ecclesiastical profession, was
created Abbot of Glastonbury and Bishop of Winchester; and though
these dignities were considerable, Stephen had, from his uncle's
liberality, attained establishments still more solid and durable [a].
The king had married him to Matilda, who was daughter and heir of
Eustace Count of Boulogne, and who brought him, besides that feudal
sovereignty in France, an immense property in England, which, in the
distribution of lands, had been conferred by the Conqueror on the
family of Boulogne. Stephen also by this marriage acquired a new
connexion with the royal family of England; as Mary, his wife's
mother, was sister to David the reigning King of Scotland, and to
Matilda, the first wife of Henry, and mother of the empress. The
king, still imagining that he strengthened the interests of his family
by the aggrandizement of Stephen, took pleasure in enriching him by
the grant of new possessions; and he conferred on him the great estate
forfeited by Robert Mallet in England, and that forfeited by the Earl
of Mortaigne in Normandy. Stephen, in return, professed great
attachment to his uncle; and appeared so zealous for the succession of
Matilda, that when the barons swore fealty to that princess, he
contended with Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the king's natural son, who
should first be admitted to give her this testimony of devoted zeal
and fidelity [b]. Meanwhile he continued to cultivate, by every art
of popularity, the friendship of the English nation; and many virtues,
with which he seemed to be endowed, favoured the success of his
intentions. By his bravery, activity, and vigour, he acquired the
esteem of the barons: by his generosity, and by an affable and
familiar address, unusual in that age among men of his high quality,
he obtained the affections of the people, particularly of the
Londoners [c]. And though he dared not to take any steps towards his
farther grandeur, lest he should expose himself to the jealousy of so
penetrating a prince as Henry; he still hoped that, by accumulating
riches and power, and by acquiring popularity, he might in time be
able to open his way to the throne.
[FN [a] Gul. Neubr. p. 360. Brompton, p. 1023. [b] W. Malm. p. 192.]

No sooner had Henry breathed his last, than Stephen, insensible to all
the ties of gratitude and fidelity, and blind to danger, gave full
reins to his criminal ambition, and trusted that, even without any
previous intrigue, the celerity of his enterprise, and the boldness of
his attempt, might overcome the weak attachment which the English and
Normans in that age bore to the law and to the rights of their
sovereign. He hastened over to England; and though the citizens of
Dover, and those of Canterbury, apprized of his purpose, shut their
gates against him, he stopped not till he arrived at London, where
some of the lower rank, instigated by his emissaries, as well as moved
by his general popularity, immediately saluted him king. His next
point was to acquire the good will of the clergy; and by performing
the ceremony of his coronation, to put himself in possession of the
throne, from which he was confident it would not be easy afterwards to
expel him. His brother, the Bishop of Winchester, was useful to him
in these capital articles: having gained Roger, Bishop of Salisbury,
who, though he owed a great fortune and advancement to the favour of
the late king, preserved no sense of gratitude to that prince's
family, he applied, in conjunction with that prelate, to William,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and required him, in virtue of his office,
to give the royal unction to Stephen. The primate, who, as all the
others, had shown fealty to Matilda, refused to perform this ceremony;
but his opposition was overcome by an expedient equally dishonourable
with the other steps by which this revolution was effected. Hugh
Bigod, steward of the household, made oath before the primate, that
the late king, on his deathbed, had shown a dissatisfaction with his
daughter Matilda, and had expressed his intention of leaving the Count
of Boulogne heir to all his dominions [d]. [MN 1135. 22d. Dec.]
William, either believing, of feigning to believe, Bigod's testimony,
anointed Stephen, and put the crown upon his head; and from this
religious ceremony that prince, without any shadow either of
hereditary title, or consent of the nobility or people, was allowed to
proceed to the exercise of sovereign authority. Very few barons
attended his coronation [e]; but none opposed his usurpation, however
unjust or flagrant. The sentiment of religion, which, if corrupted
into superstition, has often little efficacy in fortifying the duties
of civil society, was not affected by the multiplied oaths taken in
favour of Matilda, and only rendered the people obedient to a prince,
who was countenanced by the clergy, and who had received from the
primate the rite of royal unction and consecration [f].
[FN [c] W. Malm. p. 179. Gest. Steph. p. 928. [d] Matt. Paris, p.
51. Diceto, p. 505. Chron. Dunst. p. 23. [e] Brompton, p. 1023.
[f] Such stress was formerly laid on the rite of coronation, that the
monkish writers never give any prince the title of king till he is
crowned; though he had for some time been in possession of the crown,
and exercised all the powers of sovereignty.]

Stephen, that he might farther secure his tottering throne, passed a
charter, in which he made liberal promises to all orders of men: to
the clergy, that he would speedily fill all vacant benefices, and
would never levy the rents of any of them during the vacancy; to the
nobility, that he would reduce the royal forests to their ancient
boundaries, and correct all encroachments; and to the people, that he
would remit the tax of Danegelt, and restore the laws of King Edward
[g]. The late king had a great treasure at Winchester, amounting to a
hundred thousand pounds; and Stephen, by seizing this money,
immediately turned against Henry's family the precaution, which that
prince had employed for their grandeur and security: an event which
naturally attends the policy of amassing treasures. By means of this
money, the usurper ensured the compliance, though not the attachment,
of the principal clergy and nobility; but not trusting to this frail
security, he invited over from the continent, particularly from
Britany and Flanders, great numbers of these bravoes or disorderly
soldiers, with whom every country in Europe, by reason of the general
ill police and turbulent government, extremely abounded [h]. These
mercenary troops guarded his throne by the terrors of the sword; and
Stephen, that he might also overawe all malecontents by new and
additional terrors of religion, procured a bull from Rome, which
ratified his title, and which the pope, seeing this prince in
possession of the throne, and pleased with an appeal to his authority
in secular controversies, very readily granted him [i].
[FN [g] W. Malmes. p. 179. Hoveden, p. 482. [h] W. Malm. p. 179.
[i] Hagulstadt, p. 259, 313.]

[MN 1136.] Matilda, and her husband Geoffrey, were as unfortunate in
Normandy as they had been in England. The Norman nobility, moved by
an hereditary animosity against the Angevins, first applied to
Theobald, Count of Blois, Stephen's elder brother, for protection and
assistance; but hearing afterwards that Stephen had got possession of
the English crown, and having many of them the same reasons as
formerly for desiring a continuance of their union with that kingdom,
they transferred their allegiance to Stephen, and put him in
possession of their government. Lewis the younger, the reigning King
of France, accepted the homage of Eustace, Stephen's eldest son, for
the duchy; and the more to corroborate his connexions with that
family, he betrothed his sister, Constantia, to the young prince. The
Count of Blois resigned all his pretensions, and received, in lieu of
them, an annual pension of two thousand marks; and Geoffrey himself
was obliged to conclude a truce for two years with Stephen, on
condition of the king's paying him, during that time, a pension of
five thousand [k]. Stephen, who had taken a journey to Normandy,
finished all these transactions in person, and soon after returned to
[FN [k] M. Paris, p. 52.]

Robert, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of the late king, was a man of
honour and abilities; and as he was much attached to the interests of
his sister, Matilda, and zealous for the lineal succession, it was
chiefly from his intrigues and resistance that the king had reason to
dread a new revolution of government. This nobleman, who was in
Normandy when he received intelligence of Stephen's accession, found
himself much embarrassed concerning the measures which he should
pursue in that difficult emergency. To swear allegiance to the
usurper appeared to him dishonourable, and a breach of his oath to
Matilda: to refuse giving this pledge of his fidelity, was to banish
himself from England, and be totally incapacitated from serving the
royal family, or contributing to their restoration [l]. He offered
Stephen to do him homage, and to take the oath of fealty; but with an
express condition, that the king should maintain all his stipulations,
and should never invade any of Robert's rights or dignities: and
Stephen, though sensible that this reserve, so unusual in itself, and
so unbefitting the duty of a subject, was meant only to afford Robert
a pretence for a revolt on the first favourable opportunity, was
obliged, by the numerous friends and retainers of that nobleman, to
receive him on those terms [m]. The clergy, who could scarcely, at
this time, be deemed subjects to the crown, imitated that dangerous
example: they annexed to their oaths of allegiance this condition,
that they were only bound so long as the king defended the
ecclesiastical liberties, and supported the discipline of the church
[n]. The barons, in return for their submission, exacted terms still
more destructive of public peace, as well as of royal authority: many
of them required the right of fortifying their castles, and of putting
themselves in a posture of defence; and the king found himself totally
unable to refuse his consent to this exorbitant demand [o]. All
England was immediately filled with those fortresses, which the
noblemen garrisoned either with their vassals, or with licentious
soldiers, who flocked to them from all quarters. Unbounded rapine was
exercised upon the people for the maintenance of these troops; and
private animosities, which had with difficulty been restrained by law,
now breaking out without control, rendered England a scene of
uninterrupted violence and devastation. Wars between the nobles were
carried on with the utmost fury in every quarter; the barons even
assumed the right of coining money, and of exercising, without appeal,
every act of jurisdiction [p]; and the inferior gentry, as well as the
people, finding no defence from the laws during this total dissolution
of sovereign authority, were obliged for their immediate safety, to
pay court to some neighbouring chieftain, and to purchase his
protection, both by submitting to his exactions, and by assisting him
in his rapine upon others. The erection of one castle proved the
immediate cause of building many others; and even those who obtained
not the king's permission, thought that they were entitled, by the
great principle of self-preservation, to put themselves on an equal
footing with their neighbours, who commonly were also their enemies
and rivals. The aristocratical power, which is usually so oppressive
in the feudal governments, had now risen to its utmost height, during
the reign of a prince, who, though endowed with vigour and abilities,
had usurped the throne without the pretence of a title, and who was
necessitated to tolerate in others the same violence, to which he
himself had been beholden for his sovereignty.
[FN [l] W Malmes. p. 179. [m] Ibid. M. Paris, p. 51. [n] W. Malm,
p. 179. [o] Ibid. p. 180. [p] Trivet, p. 19 Gill. Neub. p. 372.
Chron. Heming. p. 487. Brompton, p. 1035.]

But Stephen was not of a disposition to submit long to these
usurpations, without making some effort for the recovery of royal
authority. Finding that the legal prerogatives of the crown were
resisted and abridged, he was also tempted to make his power the sole
measure of his conduct; and to violate all those concessions which he
himself had made on his accession [q], as well as the ancient
privileges of his subjects. The mercenary soldiers, who chiefly
supported his authority, having exhausted the royal treasure,
subsisted by depredations; and every place was filled with the best
grounded complaints against the government. [MN 1137.] The Earl of
Gloucester, having now settled with his friends the plan of an
insurrection, retired beyond sea, sent the king a defiance, solemnly
renounced his allegiance, and upbraided him with the breach of those
conditions which had been annexed to the oath of fealty sworn by that
nobleman [r]. [MN 1138. War with Scotland.] David, King of Scotland,
appeared at the head of an army in defence of his niece's title, and
penetrating into Yorkshire, committed the most barbarous devastations
on that country. The fury of his massacres and ravages enraged the
northern nobility, who might otherwise have been inclined to join
him; and William, Earl of Albemarle, Robert de Ferrers, William
Piercy, Robert de Brus, Roger Moubray, Ilbert Lacey, Walter l'Espec,
powerful barons in those parts, assembled an army with which they
encamped at North-Allerton, and awaited the arrival of the enemy. [MN
22d. Aug.] A great battle was here fought, called the battle of the
STANDARD, from a high crucifix, erected by the English on a waggon,
and carried along with the army as a military ensign. The King of
Scots was defeated, and he himself, as well as his son Henry, narrowly
escaped falling into the hands of the English. This success overawed
the malecontents in England, and might have given some stability to
Stephen's throne, had he not been so elated with prosperity as to
engage in a controversy with the clergy, who were at that time an
overmatch for any monarch.
[FN [q] W. Malm. p. 180. M. Paris, p. 51. [r] W. Malm. p. 180.]

Though the great power of the church, in ancient times, weakened the
authority of the crown, and interrupted the course of the laws, it may
be doubted, whether, in ages of such violence and outrage, it was not
rather advantageous that some limits were set to the power of the
sword, both in the hands of the prince and nobles, and that men were
taught to pay regard to some principles and privileges. The chief
misfortune was, that the prelates on some occasions acted entirely as
barons, employed military power against their sovereign or their
neighbours, and thereby often increased those disorders which it was
their duty to repress. The Bishop of Salisbury, in imitation of the
nobility, had built two strong castles, one at Sherborne, another at
Devizes, and had laid the foundations of a third at Malmesbury: his
nephew, Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, had erected a fortress at
Newark: and Stephen, who was now sensible from experience of the
mischiefs attending these multiplied citadels, resolved to begin with
destroying those of the clergy, who, by their function, seemed less
entitled than the barons to such military securities [s]. [MN 1139.]
Making pretence of a fray which had arisen in court between the
retinue of the Bishop of Salisbury and that of the Earl of Britany, he
seized both that prelate and the Bishop of Lincoln, threw them into
prison, and obliged them by menaces to deliver up those places of
strength which they had lately erected [t].
[FN [s] Gul. Neubr. p. 362. [t] Chron. Sax. p. 238. W. Malmes. p.

Henry, Bishop of Winchester, the king's brother, being armed with a
legatine commission, now conceived himself to be an ecclesiastical
sovereign, no less powerful than the civil; and, forgetting the ties
of blood which connected him with the king, he resolved to vindicate
the clerical privileges, which, he pretended, were here openly
violated. [MN 30th Aug.] He assembled a synod at Westminster, and
there complained of the impiety of Stephen's measures, who had
employed violence against the dignitaries of the church, and had not
awaited the sentence of a spiritual court, by which alone, he
affirmed, they could lawfully be tried and condemned, if their conduct
had anywise merited censure or punishment. [u]. The synod ventured to
send a summons to the king charging him to appear before them, and to
justify his measures [w]; and Stephen, instead of resenting this
indignity, sent Aubrey de Vere to plead his cause before that
assembly. De Vere accused the two prelates of treason and sedition;
but the synod refused to try the cause, or examine their conduct, till
those castles, of which they had been dispossessed, were previously
restored to them [x]. The Bishop of Salisbury declared that he would
appeal to the pope; and had not Stephen and his partisans employed
menaces, and even shown a disposition of executing violence by the
hands of the soldiery, affairs had instantly come to extremity between
the crown and the mitre [y].
[FN [u] W. Malm. p. 182. [w] Ibid. M Paris, p. 53. [x] W. Malm. p.
183. [y] Ibid.]

While this quarrel, joined to so many other grievances, increased the
discontents among the people, the empress, invited by the opportunity,
and secretly encouraged by the legate himself, landed in England with
Robert Earl of Gloucester, and a retinue of a hundred and forty
knights. She fixed her residence at Arundel Castle, whose gates were
opened to her by Adelais, the queen-dowager, now married to William de
Albini, Earl of Sussex; and she excited, by messengers, her partisans
to take arms in every county of England. [MN 1139. 22d Sept.
Insurrection in favour of Matilda.] Adelais, who had expected that
her daughter-in-law would have invaded the kingdom with a much greater
force, became apprehensive of danger; and Matilda, to ease her of her
fears, removed, first to Bristol, which belonged to her brother
Robert, thence to Gloucester, where she remained under the protection
of Milo, a gallant nobleman in those parts, who had embraced her
cause. Soon after Geoffrey Talbot, William Mohun, Ralph Lovel,
William Fitz-John, William Fitz-Alan, Paganell, and many other barons,
declared for her; and her party, which was generally favoured in the
kingdom, seemed every day to gain ground upon that of her antagonist.

Were we to relate all the military events transmitted to us by
contemporary and authentic historians, it would be easy to swell our
accounts of this reign into a large volume: but those incidents, so
little memorable in themselves, and so confused both in time and
place, could afford neither instruction nor entertainment to the
reader. It suffices to say, that the war was spread into every
quarter, and that those turbulent barons, who had already shaken off,
in a great measure, the restraint of government, having now obtained
the pretence of a public cause, carried on their devastations with
redoubled fury, exercised implacable vengeance on each other, and set
no bounds to their oppressions over the people. The castles of the
nobility were become receptacles of licensed robbers; who, sallying
forth day and night, committed spoil on the open country, on the
villages, and even on the cities, put the captives to torture, in
order to make them reveal their treasures; sold their persons to
slavery; and set fire to their houses, after they had pillaged them of
every thing valuable. The fierceness of their disposition, leading
them to commit wanton destruction, frustrated their rapacity of its
purpose; and the property and persons even of the ecclesiastics,
generally so much revered, were at last, from necessity, exposed to
the same outrage which had laid waste the rest of the kingdom. The
land was left untilled; the instruments of husbandry were destroyed or
abandoned; and a grievous famine, the natural result of those
disorders, affected equally both parties, and reduced the spoilers as
well as the defenceless people to the most extreme want and indigence
[FN [z] Chron. Sax. p. 238. W. Malmes. p. 185. Gest. Steph p. 961.]

[MN 1140.] After several fruitless negotiations and treaties of
peace, which never interrupted these destructive hostilities, there
happened at last an event, which seemed to promise some end of the
public calamities. Ralph, Earl of Chester, and his half-brother,
William de Roumara, partisans of Matilda, had surprised the castle of
Lincoln; but the citizens, who were better affected to Stephen, having
invited him to their aid, that prince laid close siege to the castle,
in hopes of soon rendering himself master of the place, either by
assault or by famine. The Earl of Gloucester hastened with an army to
the relief of his friends; and Stephen, informed of his approach, took
the field with a resolution of giving him battle. [MN 1141. 2d Feb.]
After a violent shock, the two wings of the royalists were put to
flight; and Stephen himself, surrounded by the enemy, was at last,
after exerting great efforts of valour, borne down by numbers, and
taken prisoner. [MN Stephen taken prisoner.] He was conducted to
Gloucester; and though at first treated with humanity was soon after,
on some suspicion, thrown into prison and loaded with irons.

Stephen's party was entirely broken by the captivity of their leader,
and the barons came in daily from all quarters, and did homage to
Matilda. The princess, however, amidst all her prosperity, knew that
she was not secure of success unless she could gain the confidence of
the clergy; and as the conduct of the legate had been of late very
ambiguous, and shown his intentions to have rather aimed at humbling
his brother than totally ruining him, she employed every endeavour to
fix him in her interests. [MN 2d March.] She held a conference with
him in an open plain near Winchester, where she promised, upon oath,
that if he would acknowledge her for sovereign, would recognize her
title as the sole descendant of the late king, and would again submit
to the allegiance which he, as well as the rest of the kingdom, had
sworn to her, he should in return be entire master of the
administration, and, in particular, should, at his pleasure, dispose
of all vacant bishoprics and abbeys. Earl Robert, her brother, Brian
Fitz-Count, Milo of Gloucester, and other great men, became guarantees
for her observing these engagements [a]; and the prelate was at last
induced to promise her allegiance, but that still burdened with the
express condition, that she should, on her part, fulfil her promises.
He then conducted her to Winchester, led her in procession to the
cathedral, and with great solemnity, in the presence of many bishops
and abbots, denounced curses against all those who cursed her, poured
out blessings on those who blessed her, granted absolution to such as
were obedient to her, and excommunicated such as were rebellious [b].
Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, soon after came also to court, and
swore allegiance to the empress [c].
[FN [a] W. Malm. p. 187. [b] Chron. Sax. p. 242. Contin. Flor. Wig.
p. 676. [c] W. Malmes p. 187.]

[MN Matilda crowned.] Matilda, that she might farther ensure the
attachment of the clergy, was willing to receive the crown from their
hands; and instead of assembling the states of the kingdom, the
measure which the constitution, had it been either fixed or regarded,
seemed necessarily to require, she was content that the legate should
assemble an ecclesiastical synod, and that her title to the throne
should there be acknowledged. The legate, addressing himself to the
assembly, told them, that in the absence of the empress, Stephen, his
brother, had been permitted to reign, and, previously to his ascending
the throne, had induced them by many fair promises, of honouring and
exalting the church, of maintaining the laws, and of reforming all
abuses: that it grieved him to observe how much that prince had, in
every particular, been wanting to his engagements; public peace was
interrupted, crimes were daily committed with impunity, bishops were
thrown into prison and forced to surrender their possessions, abbeys
were put to sale, churches were pillaged, and the most enormous
disorders prevailed in the administration: that he himself, in order
to procure a redress of these grievances, had formerly summoned the
king before a council of bishops; but, instead of inducing him to
amend his conduct, had rather offended him by that expedient: that,
how much soever misguided, that prince was still his brother, and the
object of his aflections; but his interests, however, must be regarded
as subordinate to those of their heavenly Father, who had now rejected
him, and thrown him into the hands of his enemies: that it principally
belonged to the clergy to elect and ordain kings; he had summoned them
together for that purpose and having invoked the divine assistance; he
now pronounced Matilda, the only descendant of Henry, the late
sovereign, Queen of England. The whole assembly by their acclamations
or silence, gave, or seemed to give, their assent to this declaration
[FN [d] W. Malmes. p. 188. This author, a judicious man, was present,
and says, that he was very attentive to what passed. This speech,
therefore, may he regarded as entirely genuine.]

The only laymen summoned to this council, which decided the fate of
the crown, were the Londoners; and even these were required not to
give their opinion but to submit to the decrees of the synod. The
deputies of London, however, were not so passive: they insisted that
their king should be delivered from prison; but were told by the
legate, that it became not the Londoners, who were regarded as
noblemen in England, to take part with those barons, who had basely
forsaken their lord in battle, and who had treated the holy church
with contumely [e]: it is with reason that the citizens of London
assumed so much authority, if it be true, what is related by
Fitz-Stephen, a contemporary author, that that city could at this time
bring into the field no less than eighty thousand combatants [f].
[FN [e] W. Malmes. p. 188. [f] P. 4. Were this account to be depended
on, London must at that time have contained near four hundred thousand
inhabitants, which is above double the number it contained at the
death of Queen Elizabeth. But these loose calculations, or rather
guesses, deserve very little credit. Peter of Blois, a contemporary
writer, and a man of sense, says there were then only forty thousand
inhabitants in London, which is much more likely. See Epist. 151.
What Fitz-Stephen says of the prodigious riches, splendour, and
commerce of London, proves only the great poverty of the other towns
of the kingdom, and indeed of all the northern parts of Europe.]

London, notwithstanding its great power, and its attachment to
Stephen, was at length obliged to submit to Matilda; and her
authority, by the prudent conduct of Earl Robert, seemed to be
established over the whole kingdom: but affairs remained not long in
this situation. That princess, besides the disadvantages of her sex,
which weakened her influence over a turbulent and martial people, was
of a passionate, imperious spirit, and knew not how to temper with
affability the harshness of a refusal. Stephen's queen, seconded by
many of the nobility, petitioned for the liberty of her husband; and
offered that, on this condition, he should renounce the crown and
retire into a convent. The legate desired that Prince Eustace, his
nephew, might inherit Boulogne and the other patrimonial estates of
his father [g]: the Londoners applied for the establishment of King
Edward's laws, instead of those of King Henry, which, they said, were
grievous and oppressive [h]. All these petitions were rejected in the
most haughty and peremptory manner.
[FN [g] Brompton, p. 1031. [h] Contin. Flor. Wig. p. 577. Gervase,
p. 1355.]

The legate, who had probably never been sincere in his compliance with
Matilda's government, availed himself of the ill-humour excited by
this imperious conduct, and secretly instigated the Londoners to a
revolt. A conspiracy was entered into to seize the person of the
empress; and she saved herself from the danger by a precipitate
retreat. She fled to Oxford: soon after she went to Winchester;
whither the legate, desirous to save appearances, and watching the
opportunity to ruin her cause, had retired. But having assembled all
his retainers, he openly joined his force to that of the Londoners,
and to Stephen's mercenary troops, who had not yet evacuated the
kingdom; and he besieged Matilda in Winchester. The princess, being
hard pressed by famine, made her escape; but in the flight, Earl
Robert, her brother, fell into the hands of the enemy. This nobleman,
though a subject, was as much the life and soul of his own party, as
Stephen was of the other; [MN Stephen released.] and the empress,
sensible of his merit and importance, consented to exchange the
prisoners on equal terms. The civil war was again kindled with
greater fury than ever.

[MN 1142.] Earl Robert, finding the successes on both sides nearly
balanced, went over to Normandy, which, during Stephen's captivity,
had submitted to the Earl of Anjou; and he persuaded Geoffrey to allow
his eldest son, Henry, a young prince of great hopes, to take a
journey into England, and appear at the head of his partisans. This
expedient, however, produced nothing decisive. Stephen took Oxford
after a long siege [MN 1143.]: he was defeated by Earl Robert at
Wilton: and the empress, though of a masculine spirit, yet being
harassed with a variety of good and bad fortune, and alarmed with
continual dangers to her person and family, at last retired into
Normandy, whither she had sent her son some time before. [MN 1146.
Continuation of the civil wars.] The death of her brother, which
happened nearly about the same time, would have proved fatal to her
interests, had not some incidents occurred which checked the course of
Stephen's prosperity. This prince, finding that the castles built by
the noblemen of his own party encouraged the spirit of independence,
and were little less dangerous than those which remained in the hands
of the enemy, endeavoured to extort from them a surrender of those
fortresses; and he alienated the affections of many of them by this
equitable demand. The artillery also of the church, which his brother
had brought over to his side, had, after some interval, joined the
other party. Eugenius III. had mounted the papal throne; the Bishop
of Winchester was deprived of the legatine commission, which was
conferred on Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, the enemy and rival
of the former legate. That pontiff also, having summoned a general
council at Rheims, in Champaigne, instead of allowing the church of
England, as had been usual, to elect its own deputies, nominated five
English bishops to represent that church, and required their
attendance in the council. Stephen, who, notwithstanding his present
difficulties, was jealous of the rights of his crown, refused them
permission to attend [i]; and the pope, sensible of his advantage in
contending with a prince who reigned by a disputed title, took revenge
by laying all Stephen's party under an interdict [k]. [MN 1147.] The
discontents of the royalists, at being thrown into this situation,
were augmented by a comparison with Matilda's party, who enjoyed all
the benefits of the sacred ordinances; and Stephen was at last
obliged, by making proper submissions to the see of Rome, to remove
the reproach from his party [l].
[FN [i] Epist. St. Thom. p. 225. [k] Chron. W. Thorn. p. 1807. [l]
Epist St. Thom. p. 226.]

[MN 1148.] The weakness of both sides, rather than any decrease of
mutual animosity, having produced a tacit cessation of arms in
England, many of the nobility, Roger de Moubray, William de Warenne,
and others, finding no opportunity to exert their military ardour at
home, enlisted themselves in a new crusade, which, with surprising
success, after former disappointments and misfortunes, was now
preached by St. Bernard [m]. But an event soon after happened which
threatened a revival of hostilities in England. Prince Henry, who had
reached his sixteenth year, was desirous of receiving the honour of
knighthood; a ceremony which every gentleman in that age passed
through before he was admitted to the use of arms, and which was even
deemed requisite for the greatest princes. He intended to receive his
admission from his great-uncle, David, King of Scotland; and for that
purpose he passed through England with a great retinue, and was
attended by the most considerable of his partisans. He remained some
time with the King of Scotland; made incursions into England; and by
his dexterity and vigour in all manly exercises, by his valour in war,
and his prudent conduct in every occurrence, he roused the hopes of
his party, and gave symptoms of those great qualities which he
afterwards displayed when he mounted the throne of England. [MN
1150.] Soon after his return to Normandy, he was, by Matilda's
consent, invested in that duchy; and upon the death of his father,
Geoffrey, which happened in the subsequent year, he took possession
both of Anjou and Maine, and concluded a marriage, which brought him a
great accession of power, and rendered him extremely formidable to his
rival. Eleanor, the daughter and heir of William, Duke of Guienne and
Earl of Poictou, had been married sixteen years to Lewis VII. King of
France, [MN 1152.] and had attended him in a crusade, which that
monarch conducted against the infidels; but having there lost the
affections of her husband, and even fallen under some suspicion of
gallantry with a handsome Saracen, Lewis, more delicate than politic,
procured a divorce from her, and restored her those rich provinces,
which by her marriage she had annexed to the crown of France. Young
Henry, neither discouraged by the inequality of years, nor by the
reports of Eleanor's gallantries, made successful courtship to that
princess, and, espousing her six weeks after her divorce, got
possession of all her dominions as her dowry. The lustre which he
received from this acquisition, and the prospect of his rising
fortune, had such an effect in England, that, when Stephen, desirous
to ensure the crown to his son Eustace, required the Archbishop of
Canterbury to anoint that prince as his successor, the primate refused
compliance, and made his escape beyond sea, to avoid the violence and
resentment of Stephen.
[FN [m] Hagulst. p. 275, 276.]

[MN 1153.] Henry, informed of these dispositions in the people, made
an invasion on England. Having gained some advantage over Stephen at
Malmesbury, and having taken that place, he proceeded thence to throw
succours into Wallingford, which the king had advanced with a superior
army to besiege. A decisive action was every day expected; when the
great men of both sides, terrified at the prospect of farther
bloodshed and confusion, interposed with their good offices, and set
on foot a negotiation between the rival princes. The death of
Eustace, during the course of the treaty, facilitated its conclusion;
[MN Compromise between the king and Prince Henry.] an accommodation
was settled, by which it was agreed, that Stephen should possess the
crown during his lifetime, that justice should be administered in his
name, even in the provinces which had submitted to Henry, and that
this latter prince should, on Stephen's demise, succeed to the
kingdom, and William, Stephen's son, to Boulogne and his patrimonial
estate. After all the barons had sworn to the observance of this
treaty, and done homage to Henry, as to the heir of the crown, that
prince evacuated the kingdom; [MN Death of the king, Oct. 25, 1154.]
and the death of Stephen, which happened the next year, after a short
illness, prevented all those quarrels and jealousies which were likely
to have ensued in so delicate a situation.

England suffered great miseries during the reign of this prince: but
his personal character, allowing for the temerity and injustice of his
usurpation, appears not liable to any great exception; and he seems to
have been well qualified, had he succeeded by a just title, to have
promoted the happiness and prosperity of his subjects [n]. He was
possessed of industry, activity, and courage, to a great degree;
though not endowed with a sound judgment, he was not deficient in
abilities; he had the talent of gaining men's affections; and
notwithstanding his precarious situation, he never indulged himself in
the exercise of any cruelty or revenge [o]. His advancement to the
throne procured him neither tranquillity nor happiness; and though the
situation of England prevented the neighbouring states from taking any
durable advantage of her confusions, her intestine disorders were to
the last degree ruinous and destructive. The court of Rome was also
permitted, during those civil wars, to make farther advances in her
usurpations; and appeals to the pope, which had always been strictly
prohibited by the English laws, became now common in every
ecclesiastical controversy [p].
[FN [n] W. Malm. p. 180. [o] M. Paris, p. 51. Hagul. p. 312. [p] H.
Hunt. p. 395.]




[MN 1154. State of Europe]
The extensive confederacies by which the European potentates are now
at once united and set in opposition to each other, and which, though
they are apt to diffuse the least spark of dissension throughout the
whole, are at least attended with this advantage, that they prevent
any violent revolutions or conquests in particular states, were
totally unknown in ancient ages; and the theory of foreign politics,
in each kingdom, formed a speculation much less complicated and
involved than at present. Commerce had not yet bound together the
most distant nations in so close a chain: wars, finished in one
campaign, and often in one battle, were little affected by the
movements of remote states: the imperfect communication among the
kingdoms, and their ignorance of each other's situation, made it
impracticable for a great number of them to combine in one project or
effort: and above all, the turbulent spirit and independent situation
of the barons or great vassals in each state gave so much occupation
to the sovereign, that he was obliged to confine his attention chiefly
to his own state and his own system of government, and was more
indifferent about what passed among his neighbours. Religion alone,
not politics, carried abroad the views of princes; while it either
fixed their thoughts on the Holy Land, whose conquest and defence was
deemed a point of common honour and interest, or engaged them in
intrigues with the Roman pontiff, to whom they had yielded the
direction of ecclesiastical affairs, and who was every day assuming
more authority than they were willing to allow him.

Before the conquest of England by the Duke of Normandy, this island
was as much separated from the rest of the world in politics as in
situation; and except from the inroads of the Danish pirates, the
English, happily confined at home, had neither enemies nor allies on
the continent. The foreign dominions of William connected them with
the king and great vassals of France; and while the opposite
pretensions of the pope and emperor in Italy produced a continual
intercourse between Germany and that country, the two great monarchs
of France and England formed, in another part of Europe, a separate
system; and carried on their wars and negotiations, without meeting
either with opposition or support from the others.

[MN State of France.]
On the decline of the Carlovingian race, the nobles in every province
of France, taking advantage of the weakness of the sovereign, and
obliged to provide, each for his own defence, against the ravages of
the Norman freebooters, had assumed, both in civil and military
affairs, an authority almost independent, and had reduced within very
narrow limits the prerogative of their princes. The accession of Hugh
Capet, by annexing a great fief to the crown, had brought some
addition to the royal dignity; but this fief, though considerable for
a subject, appeared a narrow basis of power for a prince who was
placed at the head of so great a community. The royal demesnes
consisted only of Paris, Orleans, Estampes, Compeigne, and a few
places scattered over the northern provinces: in the rest of the
kingdom, the prince's authority was rather nominal than real: the
vassals were accustomed, nay entitled, to make war, without his
permission, on each other: they were even entitled, if they conceived
themselves injured, to turn their arms against their sovereign: they
exercised all civil jurisdiction, without appeal, over their tenants
and inferior vassals: their common jealousy of the crown easily united
them against any attempt on their exorbitant privileges; and as some
of them had attained the power and authority of great princes, even
the smallest baron was sure of immediate and effectual protection.
Besides six ecclesiastical peerages, which, with the other immunities
of the church, cramped extremely the general execution of justice,
there were six lay peerages, Burgundy, Normandy, Guienne, Flanders,
Toulouse, and Champaigne, which formed very extensive and puissant
sovereignties. And though the combination all those princes and
barons could, on urgent occasions, muster a mighty power; yet it was
very difficult to set that great machine in movement; it was almost
impossible to preserve harmony in its parts; a sense of common
interest alone could, for a time, unite them under their sovereign
against a common enemy; but if the king attempted to turn the force of
the community against any mutinous vassal, the same sense of common
interest made the others oppose themselves to the success of his
pretensions. Lewis the Gross, the last sovereign, marched at one time
to his frontiers against the Germans at the head of an army of two
hundred thousand men; but a petty lord of Corbeil, of Puiset, of
Couci, was able, at another period, to set that prince at defiance,
and to maintain open war against him.

The authority of the English monarch was much more extensive within
his kingdom, and the disproportion much greater between him and the
most powerful of his vassals. His demesnes and revenue were large,
compared to the greatness of his state: he was accustomed to levy
arbitrary exactions on his subjects; his courts of judicature extended
their jurisdiction into every part of the kingdom: he could crush by
his power, or by a judicial sentence, well or ill founded, any
obnoxious baron: and though the feudal institutions which prevailed in
his kingdom had the same tendency as in other states to exalt the
aristocracy and depress the monarchy, it required, in England,
according to its present constitution, a great combination of the
vassals to oppose their sovereign lord, and there had not hitherto
arisen any baron so powerful, as of himself to levy war against the
prince, and to afford protection to the inferior barons.

While such were the different situations of France and England, and
the latter enjoyed so many advantages above the former, the accession
of Henry II., a prince of great abilities, possessed of so many rich
provinces on the continent, might appear an event dangerous, if not
fatal, to the French monarchy, and sufficient to break entirely the
balance between the states. He was master, in the right of his
father, of Anjou and Touraine; in that of his mother, of Normandy and
Maine; in that of his wife, of Guienne, Poictou, Xaintogne, Auvergne,
Perigord, Angoumois, the Limousin. He soon after annexed Britany to
his other states, and was already possessed of the superiority over
that province, which, on the first cession of Normandy to Rollo, the
Dane, had been granted by Charles the Simple, in vassalage to that
formidable ravager. These provinces composed above a third of the
whole French monarchy, and were much superior, in extent and opulence,
to those territories which were subjected to the immediate
jurisdiction and government of the king. The vassal was here more
powerful than his liege lord: the situation which had enabled Hugh
Capet to depose the Carlovingian princes seemed to be renewed, and


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