Imagens das páginas

valuable addition to the library of Eng-and, weighed down as were his last lish history.

days with family troubles, Charlemagne The very pleasant little volume of never witnessed their actual invasion. Anglo-Saxon history, published in 1830, lle died “ right royally,” surrounded by first introduced Sir Francis Palgrave as all his great officers of state ; and then, an historical writer, while his subsequent clad in imperial robes, with jewelled admirable work, The Rise and Progress diadem on his brow, his ivory horn slung of the English Commonwealth during in his baldric, his good sword Joyeuse the Anglo-Saxon Period, placed him at by his side, he was borne to his chair of once in the foremost rank. It is to this state in the vault beneath his throne in that we owe his largest and most im- the Basilica of Aix, and there, with gosportant work, unfortunately left unfin- pel book open on his knees, his golden ished by his death, The History of Nor- shield and sceptre pendant before him, mandy and of England, for, as he re- sat in ghastly state-emperor even in marks in his preface to the first volume, the grave; while Louis le Debonnaire “ English history is the joint graft of succeeded to an inheritance of sorrow. Anglo-Saxon and Norman history," and Charlemagne breathed his last beneath therefore it is necessary to trace the an- the gilded roof of the palace of Aixnals of Normandy from the beginning, la-Chapelle, Louis, heart - broken, in a in order to understand more clearly the leafy hut close beside the Rhine, soothed relative position of the two peoples. by the pleasant ripple of its cooling The first volume, published in 1851, streams, leaving to Charles le Chauve comprises a history of the Carlovingian an empire more weakened and a future dynasty from the death of Charlemagne still darker; for the Northmen, already to the reign of Charles le Simple, togeth- victorious along the eastern coast of er with the incursions of the Northmen England, now hovered on the shores of and the settlement of Rollo in Neustria. Neustria ; and ere long, invited by the The second volume, published in 1857, withdrawal of the Frankish squadron, carries on the history of the three first entered the mouth of the Seine, rowed dukes of Normandy, while the third vol. up the tempting river, and plundered ume now before us, relates the history and burned “Gallo - Roman Rothomaof the three last dukes, and more at gus.” length, of the greatest of them all, Wil It was not often that pirates obtained liam the Conqueror. As he occupies spoil so abundant and so precious. They the larger portion of the third volume, hurried back to summon their brethren, and the beginning of the fourth, while and stout Regner Lodbrok, with his the remainder of that is devoted to the hundred and twenty “ dragons of the reign of the Red King, and a very long sea,” ploughed cheerily through the dissertation on the first crusade, we shall crashing ice, on the following bleak confine our review to the more impor- Eastertide, right onward to Paris. The tant subject—the life of William, first inhabitants fled in dismay, having buried slightly glancing at the previous history their treasures; but to the Northmen of Normandy.

the huge beams of the church roofs, and Glorious and prosperous as was the the iron-work of the gates, were temptreign of Charlemagne, yet, “ thick and ing spoils, and with these they loaded lowering were the tempests gathering on their barks. Seven thousand pounds of the horizon, while the sun shone bright silver were offered by Charles as a suband cheerful on the vaulted roofs of sidy, and the Northmen sailed back well Aix-la-Chapelle." Not only were the satisfied. Arrived in Denmark, Regner Sclavonian tribes pressing onward, and repaired to Eric the Red, and related his the Saracen power slowly and steadily good fortune; the king refused to beadvancing, but the dark sails of the lieve him. Again Regner sought the Northmen already loomed on the Belgic presence of his sovereign, not with the coasts, and already had these fierce pirates silver, but followed by gangs of his sought a landing on the fertile plains of crew, some carrying the long beams France. This sad beginning of future pulled from the church roofs, and others woe to his race was, however, spared to laden with the huge iron bar of the the great ruler of the tenth century; Paris gate. These trophies were irre

sistible; Eric the Red beaded the next succeeded to an inheritance of strife and expedition, and invasion followed inva- bloodshed. Many were the perils of sion, until the fairest provinces were his minority, but he surmounted them subjected to their sway.

all, and from the day he reëntered Rouen, Of Rollo, the founder of the dukedom after his proud triumph over Louis of Normandy, little can be known. He d'Outremer, to when-a full half censeems to bave been a warlike youth, tury later-he was placed in the stone compelled by a quarrel with their “over chest in the pathway expressly hollowed king” to flee away with his brother to out for him, Richard Sans-peur was a England. Here he became a viking name of fear to his enemies, of fond rechief, and, after many successful voy- membrance to his subjects-emphaticalages, he sailed up the Seine to Jumieges. ly the ruler“ by whose deerls and doings The inhabitants, worn out with incessant the duchy was fashioned and framed." attacks, now sought to capitulate, and Richard Šans peur was succeeded by his invited Rollo "to a peaceful occupation eldest son, Richard, on whom was beof Rouen, terra firma, and islands." To stowed the title of “ Le Bon," apparentthis he consented, and a danegeld of ly not so unsuitable a title as those five thousand pounds having ratified the usually bestowed upon rulers. In his contract, the bold viking and his hardy reign the first relations of England with followers took possession of their lands. Normandy were formed; for his sister But ere long Rollo enlarged his bound. Emma was married to Ethelred, and aries. The empire under Charles le her subsequent return with her two sons, Chauve's successors was too feeble to Edward and Alfred, and their education offer resistance, and, at length, not in Normandy, were important links in Rouen and its appendages alone, but the chain of events which led to the “Haute Normandie," became the fief conquest. of the Danish rover. A noble barbarian Ethelred subsequently followed Emma does Rollo seem to have been. Although to Normandy. He seems to have been a pirate from his youth, he had the wis- kindly received; and from thence he dom to recognize the benefits of civili- returned to England, where, shortly zation, and in his new territory he en- after, he died, and was succeeded by couraged both arts and learning. He Edmund Ironsides. During this time, became a Christian, too, in his grim old Emma appears to have continued in age, and holy church rejoiced when he Normandy, and here her children were wrapt the white chrismal vestment educated, " their hearts thoroughly around him, for right royal were the alienated from England, and the Norgifts he bestowed on her ministers; the mans and Normandy became as their unlettered warrior doubtless looking up kindred and their home.” with wondering admiration to the book Duke Richard le Bon died in middle learned priests, to whom he committed age, leaving two sons, Richard, to whom the education of his only son, Guillaume he bequeathed the duchy, and Robert, Longue - épée. Singular was it, too, to whom he left the county of Hiesmes. “that the reputation of Rollo the legis. But Robert felt himself aggrieved that lator vied with the reputation of Rollo Falaise, which had formed a portion of the conqueror.” More than fourscore that county, was withheld. He went to years

of active life were allotted to this war with his brother soon after his illustrious viking, and when infirmity at father's death, and seized and held Falength warned him to retire from the laise. The brothers were now at deadly world, his chieftains took the oath of strife, when friends interposed, and fealty to his son, and soon after the great effected a reconciliation. Merrily they founder of the duchy of Normandy was returned to Rouen; a splendid banquet laid “in the Metropolitan Basilica of was prepared, but the young and fourNotre Dame of Rouen."

ishing Richard was suddenly stricken, Guillaume Longue épée fell a victim and he passed from the ball to his deathto foul assassination ere his middle age, bed.” Many of the party shared the and Richard Sans-peur, the bright-eyed, same fate, and no one doubted that golden-haired boy-so lovingly celebrat- poison had done its work. “Never was ed both by chronicler and trouvère— | Robert exonerated from the imputation

of fratricide ; never was the dark stain / was postponed. This incident is imeffaced; never was the obscure suspicion portant, for it shows the strong interest dispelled." Robert succeeded to the Robert felt in his cousins, and how natduchy of course; there was no claim- urally Edward, after he had become by ant to contest bis right, and, whatever right of succession king of England, might be the general opinion, he soon would still look to Normandy rather won golden opinions from his subjects than elsewhere for council and aid. by his extravagant munificence. This But Robert, although wealthy and proswell supplies the reason for his more perous, and holding a station of higher favorable title, Robert le Magnifique ; political importance than any preceding for that less complimentary one, by duke, was ill at ease. He had one child, which he is more generally known, upon whom he seems to have doated Robert le Diable, it is more difficult to with a more than mother's fondness, and ascertain its origin, since, “whatever whom, notwithstanding the illegitimacy may have been his secret crimes, he never of his birth, he determined to make his manifested any open tendency to outrage heir. Of little consequence was mere or cruelty.” A wild, rollicking life did illegitimacy. Some of the dukes had not Robert lead at Falaise, his favorite resi- been clear of that stain; nor, although dence; and here he met Arletta, and Arletta's general character was disrepuhere was born his only son—the dreaded table, was that insuperable. But of all William the Conqueror. But Robert, the working classes, the skinners were although pleasure-loving to the utmost viewed - both by the French and Gerexcess, had talents for government, and mans - as the most degraded of men, he interfered successfully in the affairs and her father was one. " Those who of Flanders, and, on King Robert's de- pursued the useful, albeit disgusting cease, in those of France. During this trade of skinning beasts, were stigmatime, the English Athelings, Edward tized as a distinct and depraved caste and Alfred, had remained at their cous- -ranked among the races maudites of in's court—their mother, Emma, now France, holding a place somewhat bewearing, a second time, the crown of tween a mesel and a gypsy, cohabiting England as the wife of Canute. Robert or marrying only among themselves; was their sole protector, and, with chiv- and here, the sole offspring of Robert alrous feeling, he availed himself of a the Magnificent was grandchild to old short interval of tranquillity to open ne- Hulbert the tanner, whom the meanest gotiations with Canute for " an equitable burgess of Rouen would cross the way division between the representatives of to avoid !

No wonder that the very the two dynasties ;” and a precedent thought of a child of such base parentwas already familiar in the case of the age inheriting the proud duchy of Rollo partition between Canute and Ironside. was gall and wormwood to the noBut Canute's reply was a defiance- bles; no wonder that the lowest of “Let them hold what they can win.” | the people heaped epithets of obloquy Robert generously accepted the chal on the boy, until “William the Conlenge. He fitted out a noble fleet for queror could never rid himself of the the conquest of England, even while contumelious appellation, which bore that son was in his cradle who was so indelible record of his father's sin.” direfully to achieve it. But the time Keenly did Robert feel this hostility was not yet. Although the cloudless towards his darling child -- an hostility sky and the prospering gale greeted the which, naturally enough, increased when departing armament, the storm soon the old tanner was elevated to the inarose, the north wind blew furiously, congruous office of court chamberlain, the fleet was dispersed, and long after- and his daughter flaunted in almost wards were the decaying hulks to be royal state as the duke's publicly-recogseen rotting at Rouen. But the main nized mistress. "The boy, William, portion escaped, and the Athelings con- was the object of universal contempt; tinued on board, lingering for the oppor- no wonder that the magnificent Robert tunity of presenting themselves ; but no was sad at heart.” opening ensued. The scheme became Suddenly Robert convened his prelabortive, and the conquest of England ates and nobles, and then made the

startling announcement of his determi- by his prayers or tears, seems strange. nation to set forth as a pilgrim to the Night it not be that the sanctity which Holy Land. It was not as yet the era invested pilgrimage produced a comof the crusades; no military leader, no manding effect on rude but devout monarch or ruler, had come forth with minds ? and the supplication which well-appointed followers “to avenge the might bave been refused to the duke, wrongs of our Lord in bis own land.” in merely departing on an errand of Was Robert le Magnifique, then, to go warfare or pleasure, was felt to be irre. forth with scrip and pilgrim-staff

, a toil- sistible when urged by the pilgrim, who ing wayfarer, on the long and perilous had stripped himself of every possession journey, undertaken by few save obscure that he might go a penitent to the Holy men ? Diretul was the consternation Land ? when the duke communicated this proj In the appointment of guardians of ect to his lieges. Not only the strange the young duke, Robert exercised a ness of the plan, but the consequences. sound judgment. The worthless mother Should Robert die away from home, was wholly excluded ; and Alain, Duke who would succeed him ? While be of Brittany, the boy's cousin, became was absent, who would administer the regent, and the Archbishop of Rouen affairs of the duchy? It was then that was associated with him.

And now Robert brought forward his boy, now Robert set forth on bis pilgrimage; but almost seven years old.

more in the array of Robert le Magni“Pitiful was Robert's earnestness when ex

fique than the humble palmer. Harbintolling the child's promising disposition, so gers went forward to prepare the lodg. fitting to render him a competent sovereign. ings; and palfreys, and war steeds, and All the virtues which the courtiers' glozing sumpter mules laden with luxuries, and flattery attributes to an heir-apparent, were long trains of attendants, followed in truths in the conception of the uneasy adul- bis train; while to beguile, the way terer, wrestling against the consequences of with pleasant companionship, Drogo, bis vice. All the remorse, all the prickings Count of the Vexin, and Toustain le of conscience, all the stings of worldly shame Blanc, took their journey with him. A spread over the life of a putative father, were concentrated in that miserable hour.

Ear pleasant portion of Maistre Wace's nestly did prelates and barons repeat their

Roman du Rou" is that which narremonstrances, expatiating upon the impend- rates this royal pilgrimage, and its vaing dangers. Robert, on his part, persevered rious incidents, how Robert surmounted obstinately, vehemently, until the assembly, the Alps, and visited Rome and Conyielding to his urgency, and moved by his stantinople, and how abundant was his misery, assented to the demand. If legal largesse to the poor pilgrims at Jerusaforms possess any stringency, no act of state lem. But home he was fated never to could be more binding than the confirmation which the child's title now received. In the return. After long sickness, he and first place, the proud and vexed baronage Count Drogo died at Nice, from the performed homage and fealty. Whatever du- effects of poison, it was said ; they were ties or services a vassal owes his suzerain, interred in the cathedral, and Toustain would the lieges render to the heir, rising le Blanc returned to Normandy with seven years of age. This very important en the news, and with the relies which gagement imparted to William a valid and Robert had carefully collected. constitutional title, as between him and his vassals. But the duke himself would grow

Robert's pilgrimage had occupied beup a vassal, and the assent of his superior tween two and three years, and thus, was needed. Robert, therefore, brought the ere be had completed his tenth year, child — his child of dishonor — before King William's reign commenced. During Henry of France, surrendering the duchy in this time tranquillity had been preserved the boy's favor, and the lad, duly performing in the duchy, but with the rumors of the homage, became the liegeman of the mon- father's failing health that reached Euarch."

rope, disturbances began. William was That the King of France so willingly now placed under the tutelage of Gilbert accepted Robert's transference of his Crespon, Count of Brienne and Thorallegiance, may be readily accounted for kettil

, and he was conveyed for safety by duplicity; but that his haughty to the strong castle of Vaudreuil. Bit barons should have been moved either ere long this stronghold was assailed hy

No groom

William de Montgomery ; the cousin castle of Tilliers. William, alive to the who slept with the young duke was danger of provoking his suzerain, gave killed by his side; Thörketiil, his guar- up the stronghold; but probably encourdian, and apparently his preceptor, was aged by hopes of aid from the French butchered ; and, rescued by his uncle king, his barons now formed a confederon the inother's side, he found refuge in acy against him, and bound themselves a peasant's cottage. A period of fierce by a great oath to work his destruction. confusion followed, during which we Unconscious of danger, William was sohave few notices of the young duke; journing meanwhilehut nearly six years of warfare among the nobles was at length, in 1042, termi- hypocaust, theatre and amphitheatre, testified

“At pleasant Valognes, where temple and nated by the Council of Caen proclaim-how, in the luxurious Roman days, the locality ing the “ Truce of God;" that benevo; had been prized. There William established lent provision, which not only secured himself, holding his court. Among his guests the peace of all men during the three none more important than Galet the fool. Half great church festivals, but prohibited demented, though acute withal, this merrysword to be unsheathed, or battle-axe

man becomes conspicuous in the history of wielded, from the sunset of each Thurs-court jesters, for he had gained cognizance of

the conspiracy. In the midst of the night day evening to Monday's dawn.

he presented himself at William's door, in long interval of quiet followed, and full official costume, his bauble slung round William grew up to stern and vigorous his neck; and knocking violently, he shrieked minhood.

out, “Up, up, my lord duke! open, open!

flee, flec! Delay is death ; all are armed, all " As for William, his character received marshalled; and if they capture thee, never full development at an early age. Ile con

wilt thou again see the light of day!' Wilducted himself wisely and discreetly, and the liam obeyed the warning without even a sagacity distinguishing the man had previ; thought of hesitation. No questions asked. rusly been conspicuous in the boy. To varied No companions to support him. talents of a high order, William conjoined aiding. Half-clad, starting from his couch he athletic vigor and a noble form. It was rushed into the stable, saddled his horse, and talked of as a truth, or accepted as a truth, made for the ford of Vire. Hard by the that none but Duke William coulil bend Duke river's mouth stood, and still stands, the William's bow. His natural gifts, whether church of St. Clement, close upon Isigny. bodily or mental, marked him for a conqueror; There he tarried ; maybe prayed. Bayeux and the hard discipline he sustained in his he dared not enter; therefore he edged his youth trained him to become a chastiser of track between the Saxon city and the sea, nations, a minister of punishment and of skirting a neighborhood whose name is echoed Fengeance. But his greatest victory was on our shore of the channel - the bourgade over his own natural passions: in an age of of “Rye.' Doubting the loyalty of the inhabgross and unbridled licentiousness, the con: itants, he sought for the ‘Nanoir,' the dwelqueror of Carthage was not more distinguished ling - place par excellence. Day was dawnfor continence and chastity than William. ing; but ere the sun had cleared the horiHe soon acquired importance beyond his zon, William had arrived at Hubert's door. years. A powerful and brilliant court as

His horse, white with foam, bespoke the ursembled around him. So splendid, so influ- gency of the danger which bad driven his ential was the youth, as to excite King Hen- rider thither. The road through which Wilry's jealousy ; and the monarch, secretly | liam escaped still retains the name of la voie alarme at his vassal's rising reputation, was du Duc. The local traditions and the trouobliged, even then, to treat him with a degree vère's lay agree with singular accuracy; and of deference beyond what his years could the whole of this narrative abounds with parclaim."

ticulars so minutely descriptive, that none Bit the king was resolved to “bide but the illustrious fugitive could have told

the tale." his time," although that time was long. At length, and while the young duke Hlubert's sons conducted the duke to was enjoying those forest sports, which Falaise; but his flight was the sigual from his earliest days to his latest he for the barons seizing the goverriment; followed with such keen enjoyment, and then William, with an astuteness Henry suddenly, ere hostile message scarcely to be expected in a fierce, imwas delivered, or gauntlet flung down, petuous young ruler, not long past his poured his forces into the Evreçin, de- twentieth year, determined and it was inanding the instant demolition of the ' a hard trial, as Sir Francis Palgrave

« AnteriorContinuar »