The history of England: from the invasion of Julius Cæsar to the accession of Henry VII. ... By David Hume, Esq. [pt.1]







  • The PRINCES before the CONQUEST.
  • HENRY I.


LONDON: Printed for A. MILLAR, in the Strand. MDCCLXII.


  • CHAP. I. The Britains,—Romans,—Saxons,—the Heptarchy.—The kingdom of Kent—of Northumberland—of Eaſt-Anglia—of Mercia—of Eſſex—of Suſſex—of Weſſex. Page 1
  • CHAP. II. The ANGLO-SAXONS. Egbert—Ethelwolph—Ethelbald and Ethelbert—Ethered—Alfred the Great—Edward the elder—Athelſtan—Edmund—Edred—Edwy—Edgar—Edward the Martyr. 46
  • CHAP. III. Ethelred—Settlement of the Normans—Edmund Ironſide—Canute the Great—Harold Harefoot—Hardicanute—Edward the Confeſſor—Harold. 92
  • APPENDIX I. The ANGLO-SAXON GOVERNMENT and MANNERS. Firſt Saxon government—Succeſſion of the Kings—The Witenagemot—The ariſtocracy—The ſeveral orders of men—Courts of juſtice—Criminal law—Rules of proof—Military force—Public revenue—Value of money—Manners. 141
  • [Page vi] CHAP. IV. WILLIAM the Conqueror. C [...]equences of the battle of Haſtings—Submiſſion of the Engliſh—Settlement of the government—King's return to Normandy—Diſcontents of the Engliſh— [...] inſurrections—Rigors of the Norman government—New inſurrections—New rigors of the government—Introduction of the feudal law—Innovation in eccleſiaſtical government—Inſurrection of the Norman barons—Diſpute about inveſtitures—Revolt of prince Robert—Domeſday-book—The new foreſt—War with France—Death—and character of William the Conqueror. 164
  • CHAP. V. WILLIAM RUFUS. Acceſſion of William Rufus—Conſpiracy againſt the King—Invaſion of Normandy—The Croiſades—Acquiſition of Normandy—Quarrel with Anſelm, the primate—Death—and character of William Rufus. 203
  • CHAP. VI. HENRY I. The Croiſades—Acceſſion of Henry—Marriage of the King—Invaſion by duke Robert—Accommodation with Robert—Attack of Normandy—Conqueſt of Normandy—Continuation of the quarrel with Anſelm, the primate—Compromiſe with [...]—Wars abroad—Death of prince William—King's ſecond marriage—Death—and character of Henry. 220
  • CHAP. VII. STEPHEN. Acceſſion of Stephen—War with Scotland—Inſurrection in favour of Matilda—Stephen taken priſoner—Matilda crowned—Stephen releaſed—Re [...]red to the crown—Continuation of the civil wars—Compromiſe between the King and prince Henry—Death of the King. 247
  • [Page vii] CHAP. VIII. HENRY II. State of Europe—of France—Firſt acts of Henry's government—Diſputes between the civil and eccleſiaſtical powers—Thomas a Becket, archbiſhop of Canterbury—Quarrel between the King and Becket—Conſtitutions of Clarendon—Baniſhment of Becket—Compromiſe with him—His return from baniſhment—His murder—Grief—and ſubmiſſion of the King. 262
  • CHAP. IX. State of Ireland—Conqueſt of that iſland—The King's accommodation with the court of Rome—Revolt of young Henry and his brothers—Wars and inſurrections—War with Scotland—Penance of Henry for Becket's murder—William, King of Scotland, defeated and taken priſoner—The King's accommodation with his ſons—The King's equitable adminiſtration—Croiſades—Revolt of prince Richard—Death and character of Henry—Miſcellaneous tranſactions of his reign. 299
  • CHAP X. RICHARD I. The King's preparations for the croiſade—Sets out on the croiſade—Tranſactions in Sicily—King's arrival in Paleſtine—State of Paleſtine—Diſorders in England—The King's heroic actions in Paleſtine—His return from Paleſtine—Captivity in Germany—War with France—The King's delivery—Return to England—War with France—Death—and character of the King—Miſcellaneous tranſactions of this reign. 331
  • CHAP. XI. JOHN. Acceſſion of the King—His marriage—War with France—Murder of Arthur, duke of Brittany—The King expelled from all the French provinces—The King's quarrel with the court of Rome—Cardinal Langton appointed archbiſhop of Canterbury—Interdict of the kingdom—E [...]communication [Page viii] of the King—The King's ſubmiſſion to the Pope—Diſcontents of the barons—Inſurrection of the barons—Magna Charta—Renewal of the civil wars—Prince Lewis called over—Death—and character of the King. 356
    • APPENDIX II. The FEUDAL and ANGLO-NORMAN GOVERNMENT and MANNERS. Origin of the feudal law—Its progreſs—Feudal government of England—The feudal parliament—The commons—judicial power—Revenue of the crown—Commerce—The Church—Civil Laws—Manners. 397


1. CHAP. I.

The Britains,—Romans,—Saxons,—the Heptarchy.—The Kingdom of Kent—of Northumberland—of Eaſt-Anglia—of Mercia—of Eſſex—of Suſſex—of Weſſex.

1.1. The BRITAINS.

THE curioſity, entertained by all civilized nations, of enquiring into the exploits and adventures of their anceſtors, commonly excites a regret that the hiſtory of remote ages ſhould always be ſo much involved in obſcurity, uncertainty, and contradiction. Ingenious men, poſſeſſed of leizure, are apt to puſh their reſearches beyond the period in which literary monuments are framed or preſerved, without reflecting, that the hiſtory of paſt events is immediately loſt or disfigured when intruſted to memory or oral tradition, and that the adventures of barbarous nations, even if they were preſerved, could afford little or no entertainment to thoſe born in a more cultivated age. The convulſions of a civilized ſtate uſually compoſe the moſt inſtructive and moſt intereſting part of its hiſtory; but the ſudden, violent, and unprepared revolutions, incident to Barbarians, are ſo much guided by caprice, and terminate ſo often in cruelty, that they diſguſt us by the uniformity of their appearance; and it is rather fortunate for letters that they are buried in ſilence and oblivion. The [Page 2] only certain means, by which nations can indulge their curioſity in reſearches concerning their remote origin, is to conſider the language, manners and cuſtoms of their anceſtors, and to compare them with thoſe of the neighbouring nations. The fables, which are commonly employed to ſupply the place of true hiſtory, ought entirely to be diſregarded; and if any exception be admitted to this general rule, it can only be in favour of the antient Greek fictions, which are ſo celebrated and ſo agreeable, that they will ever be the objects of the attention of mankind. Neglecting therefore, all traditions or rather tales concerning the more early hiſtory of Britain, we ſhall only conſider the ſtate of the inhabitants, as it appeared to the Romans on their invaſion of this country: We ſhall briefly run over the events, which attended the conqueſt made by that empire, as belonging more to Roman than Britiſh ſtory: We ſhall haſten thro' the obſcure and unintereſting period of Saxon annals: And ſhall reſerve a more full narration for thoſe times, when the truth is both ſo well aſcertained and ſo complete as to promiſe ſome entertainment and inſtruction to the reader.

ALL antient writers agree in repreſenting the firſt inhabitants of Britain as a tribe of the Gauls or Celtae, who peopled that iſland from the neighbouring continent. Their language was the ſame, their manners, their government, their ſuperſtition; varied only by thoſe ſmall differences, which time or a communication with the bordering nations muſt neceſſarily introduce. The inhabitants of Gaul, eſpecially in thoſe parts which lye contiguous to Italy, had acquired, from a commerce with their ſouthern neighbours, ſome refinement in the arts, which gradually diffuſed themſelves northwards, and ſpread but a very faint light over this iſland. The Greek and Roman navigators or merchants (for there were ſcarce any other travellers in thoſe ages) brought back the moſt ſhocking accounts of the ferocity of the people, which they magnified, as uſual, in order to excite the admiration of their countrymen. The ſouth-eaſt parts, however, of Britain had already, before the age of Caeſar, made the firſt and moſt requiſite ſtep towards a civil ſettlement; and the Britains, by tillage and agriculture, had there encreaſed to a great multitude*. The other inhabitants of the iſland ſtill maintained themſelves by paſturage: They were cloathed with ſkins of beaſts: They dwelt in huts, which they reared in the foreſts and marſhes, with which the country was covered: They ſhifted eaſily their habitation, when actuated either by the hopes of plunder or the fear of an enemy: The convenience of feeding their cattle was even a ſufficient motive for removing their ſeats: And being ignorant of all the refinements of life, their wants and their poſſeſſions were equally ſcanty and limited.

[Page 3] THE Britains were divided into many ſmall nations or tribes; and being a military people, whoſe ſole property was their ſword and their cattle, it was impoſſible, after they had acquired a reliſh of liberty, for their princes of chieftains to eſtabliſh any deſpotic authority over them. Their governments, tho' monarchical, * were free, as well as thoſe of all the Celtic nations; and the common people ſeem even to have enjoyed more liberty among them, than among the nations of Gaul, from whom they were deſcended. Each ſtate was divided into factions within itſelf: It was agitated with emulation towards the neighbouring ſtates: And while the arts of peace were yet unknown, wars were the chief occupation, and formed the chief object of ambition, among the people.

THE religion of the Britains was one of the moſt conſiderable parts of their government; and the Druids, who were their prieſts, poſſeſſed great authority among them. Beſides miniſtring at the altar, and directing all religious duties, they preſided over the education of youth; they were endowed with an immunity from wars and taxes; they enjoyed both the civil and criminal juriſdiction; they decided all controverſies among ſtates as well as private perſons, and whoever refuſed to ſubmit to their decree was expoſed to the moſt ſevere penalties. The ſentence of excommunication was denounced againſt him: He was forbid acceſs to the ſacrifices or public worſhip: He was debarred all intercourſe with his fellow-citizens, even in the common affairs of life: His company was univerſally ſhunned as profane and dangerous: He was refuſed the protection of law{inverted †}: And death itſelf became to him an acceptable relief from the miſery and infamy to which he was expoſed. Thus, the bands of government, which were naturally looſe among that rude and turbulent people, were happily corroborated by the terrors of their ſuperſtition.

No ſpecies of ſuperſtition was ever more terrible than that of the Druids. Beſides the ſevere penalties, which it was in the power of the eccleſiaſtics to inflict in this world, they inculcated the eternal tranſmigration of ſouls; and thereby extended their authority as far as the fears of their timorous votaries. They practiſed their rites in dark groves or other ſecret receſſes§; and in order to throw a greater myſtery on their religion, they communicated their doctrines only to the initiated, and ſtrictly forbad the committing them to writing; leſt they ſhould at any time be expoſed to the examination of the profane vulgar. Human ſacrifices were practiſed among them: The ſpoils of war were often devoted to their divinities; [Page 4] and they puniſhed with the ſevereſt tortures whoever dared to ſecrete any part of the conſecrated offering: Theſe treaſures they preſerved in woods and foreſts, ſecured by no other guard than the terrors of their religion*; and this continued conqueſt over human avidity may be regarded as more ſignal than their prompting men to the moſt extraordinary and moſt violent efforts. No idolatrous worſhip ever attained ſuch an aſcendant over mankind as that of the antient Gauls and Britains; and the Romans, after their conqueſt, finding it impoſſible to reconcile theſe nations to the laws and inſtitutions of their maſters, while it maintained its authority, were at laſt obliged to aboliſh it by penal ſtatutes; a violence, which had never in any other inſtance been practiſed by theſe tolerating conquerors.

1.2. The ROMANS.

THE Britains had long remained in this rude but independant ſtate, when Caeſar, having over-run all Gaul by his victories, firſt caſt his eye on their iſland. He was not allured either by its riches or its renown; but being ambitious of carrying the Roman arms into a new world, then wholly unknown, he took advantage of a ſhort interval in his Gaulic wars, and made an invaſion on Britain. The natives, informed of his intention, were ſenſible of the unequal conteſt, and endeavoured to appeaſe him by ſubmiſſions, which, however, retarded not the execution of his deſign. [Note: Anno ant. C. 55.] After ſome reſiſtance, he landed, as is ſuppoſed, at Deal; and having obtained ſeveral advantages over the Britains, and obliged them to promiſe hoſtages for their future dutiful behaviour, he was conſtrained, by the neceſſity of his affairs, and the approach of winter, to withdraw his forces into Gaul. The Britains, relieved from the terror of his arms, neglected the performance of their ſtipulations; and that haughty conqueror reſolved next Summer to chaſtiſe them for this breach of treaty. He landed with a greater force; and tho' he found a more regular reſiſtance from the Britains, who had united under Caſſivelaunus, one of their petty princes; he diſcomfited them in every action. He advanced into the country; paſſed the Thames in the face of the enemy; took and burned the capital of Caſſivelaunus; eſtabliſhed his ally, Man [...]ubratius, in the ſovereignty of the Trinobantes; and having obliged the inhabitants to make him new ſubmiſſions, he again returned with his army into Gaul, and left the authority of the Romans more nominal than real in this iſland.

[Page 5] THE civil wars, which enſued, and which prepared the way for the eſtabliſhment of monarchy in Rome, ſaved the Britains from that yoke, which was ready to be impoſed upon them. Auguſtus, the ſucceſſor of Caeſar, content with the victory obtained over the liberties of his own country, was little ambitious of acquiring ſame by foreign wars; and being apprehenſive leſt the ſame unlimited extent of dominion, which had ſubverted the republic, might alſo overwhelm the empire, he recommended to his ſucceſſors never farther to enlarge the territories of the Romans. Tiberius, jealous of the fame, which might be acquired by his generals, made this advice of Auguſtus a pretence for his inactivity*: The mad ſallies of Caligula, in which he menaced Britain with an invaſion, ſerved only to expoſe himſelf and the empire to ridicule: And the Britains had now, during almoſt a century, enjoyed their liberty unmoleſted; when the Romans, in the reign of Claudius, began to think ſeriouſly of redu ing them under their dominion. year A. D. 43. Without ſeeking any more juſtifiable reaſons of hoſtility than were employed by the latter Europeans in ſubjecting the Africans and Americans, they ſent over an army under the command of Plautius, an able general, who gained ſome victories, and made a conſiderable progreſs in ſubduing the inhabitants. Claudius himſelf, finding affairs ſufficiently prepared for his reception, made a journey into Britain; and received the ſubmiſſion of ſeveral Britiſh ſtates, the Cantii, Atrobates, Regni, and Trinobantes, who inhabited the ſouth-eaſt parts of the iſland, and whom their poſſeſſions and cultivated manner of life rendered wil ing to purchaſe peace at the expence of their liberty. The other Britains, under the command of Caractacus, ſtill maintained an obſtinate reſiſtance, and the Romans made little progreſs againſt them; till Oſtorius Scapula was ſent over to command their armies. year A. D. 50. This general advanced the Roman conqueſts over the Britains; pierced into the country of the Silures, a warlike nation, who inhabited the banks of the Severne; defeated Caractacus in a great battle; took him priſoner; and ſent him to Rome, where his magnanimous behaviour procured him better treatment than thoſe conquerors uſually beſtowed on captive princes.

NOTWITHSTANDING theſe misfortunes, the Britains were not ſubdued; and this iſland was regarded by the ambitious Romans as a field in which military honour might ſtill be acquired. year A. D. 59. Under the reign of Nero, Suetonius Paullinus was inveſted with the command, and prepared to ſignalize his name by victories over theſe barbarians. Finding that the iſland of Mona, now Angleſey, was the chief ſeat of the Druids, he reſolved to attack it, and to ſubject a place, [Page 6] which was the center of their ſuperſtition, and which afforded protection to all their baffled forces. The Britains endeavoured to obſtruct his landing on this ſacred iſland, both by the force of their arms and the terrors of their religion. The women and prieſts were intermingled with the ſoldiers upon the ſhore; and running about with flaming torches in their hands, and toſſing their diſhevelled hair, they ſtruck greater terror into the aſtoniſhed Romans by their howlings, cries, and execrations, than the real danger from the armed forces was able to inſpire. But Suetonius, exhorting his troops to deſpiſe the menaces of a ſuperſtition, which they deſpiſed, impelled them to the attack, drove the Britains off the field, burned the Druids in the ſame fires which they had prepared for their captive enemies, deſtroyed all the conſecrated groves and altars; and having thus triumphed over the religion of the Britains, he thought his future progreſs would be eaſy in reducing the people to ſubjection. But he was diſappointed in his expectations. The Britains, taking advantage of his abſence, were all in arms; and being headed by Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni, who had been treated in the moſt ignominious manner by the Roman tribunes, had already attacked with ſucceſs ſeveral ſettlements of their inſulting conquerors. Suetonius haſtened to the protection of London, which was already a flouriſhing Roman colony; but found on his arrival, that it would be requiſite for the general ſafety to abandon that place to the mercileſs fury of the enemy. London was reduced to aſhes; ſuch of the inhabitants, as remained in it, cruelly maſſacred; the Romans and all ſtrangers, to the number of 70,000, put to the ſword without diſtinction; and the Britains, by rendering the war thus bloody, ſeemed determined to cut off all hopes of peace or compoſition with the enemy. But this cruelty was revenged by Suetonius in a great and deciſive battle, where 80,000 of the Britains are ſaid to have periſhed; and Boadicea herſelf, rather than fall into the hands of the enraged victor, put an end to her own life by poiſon*. Nero ſoon after recalled Suetonius from a government; where by ſuffering and inflicting ſo many ſeverities he was judged improper for compoſing the angry and alarmed minds of the inhabitants. After ſome interval, Cerealis received the command from Veſpaſian, and by his bravery propagated the terror of the Roman arms. Julius Frontinus ſucceeded Cerealis both in authority and reputation: year A. D. But the general, who finally eſtabliſhed the dominion of the Romans in this iſland, was Julius Agricola, who governed it in the reigns of Veſpaſian, Titus, and Domitian, and diſtinguiſhed himſelf in that ſcene of action.

THIS great commander formed a regular plan for ſubduing Britain, and rendering the acquiſition uſeful to the victors. He carried his victorious arms northwards, [Page 7] defeated the Britains in every encounter, pierced into the inacceſſible foreſts and mountains of Caledonia, reduced every thing to ſubjection in the ſouthern parts of the iſland, and chaced before him all the men of fiercer and more intractable ſpirits, who deemed war and death itſelf leſs intolerable than ſervitude under the conquerors. He even defeated them in a deciſive action, which they fought under Galcacus, their leader; and having drawn a rampart, and fixed a train of garriſons between the friths of Clyde and Forth, he thereby cut off the ruder and more barren parts of the iſland, and ſecured the Roman province from the invaſion of the barbarous inhabitants*.

DURING theſe military enterprizes, he neglected not the arts of peace. He introduced laws and civility among the Britains, taught them to deſire and raiſe all the conveniencies of life, reconciled them to the Roman language and manners, inſtructed them in letters and ſcience, and employed every expe [...]ient to render thoſe chains, which he had forged, both eaſy and agreeable to them. The inhabitants, having experienced how unequal their own force was to reſiſt that of the Romans, acquieſced in the dominion of their maſters, and were gradually incorporated as a part of that mighty empire.

THIS was the laſt durable conqueſt made by the Romans; and Britain, once ſubdued, gave no farther inquietude to the victor. Caledonia alone, defended by its barren mountains, and by the contempt which the Romans entertained of it, ſometimes infeſted the more cultivated parts of the iſland by the incurſions of its inhabitants. The better to ſecure the frontiers of the empire, Adrian, who viſited this iſland, built a ſtrong rampart between Tyne and the firth of Solway: Lollius Urbicus, under Antoninus Pius, repaired that of Agricola: Severus, who made an expedition into Britain, and carried his arms into the moſt northern extremity of it, added new fortifications to the wall of Adrian; and during all the reigns of the Roman emperors, ſuch a profound tranquillity prevailed in Britain, that little mention is made of the affairs of that iſland by any hiſtorian. The only incidents which occur, are ſome ſeditions or rebellions of the Roman legions quartered there, and ſome uſurpations of the imperial dignity by the Roman governors. The natives, diſarmed, diſpirited, and ſubmiſſive, had loſt all deſire and even idea of their former liberty and independance.

BUT the period was now come, when that enormous fabric of the Roman empire, which had diffuſed ſlavery and oppreſſion, together with peace and civility, over ſo conſiderable a part of the globe, was approaching towards its final diſſolution. Italy, and the center of the empire, removed, during ſo many ages, [Page 8] from all concern in the wars, had entirely loſt the military ſpirit, and were peopled by an enervated race, equally diſpoſed to ſubmit to a foreign yoke, or to the tyranhy of their own rulers. The emperors found themſelves obliged to recruit their legions from the frontier provinces, where the genius of war, though languiſhing, was not totally extinct; and theſe mer enary forces, careleſs of laws and civil inſtitutions, eſtabliſhed a military government, no leſs dangerous to the ſovereign than to the people. The farther progreſs of the ſame diſorders introduced the bordering barbarians into the ſervice of the Romans; and thoſe fierce nations, having now added diſcipline and ſkill to their native bravery, could no longer be reſtrained by the impotent policy of the emperors, who were accuſtomed to employ the one in the deſtruction of the other. Senſible of their own force, and allured by the proſpect of ſo rich a prize, the northern barbarians, in the reign of Arcadius and Honorius, aſſailed at once all the frontiers of the Roman empire; and having firſt ſatiated their avidity by plunder, began to think of fixing a ſettlement in the waſted provinces. The more diſtant barbarians, who occupied the deſerted habitations of the former, advanced in their acquiſitions, and preſſed with their incumbent weight the Roman ſtate, already unequal to the load which it ſuſtained. Inſtead of arming the people in their own defence, the emperors recalled all the diſtant legions, in whom alone they could repoſe confidence; and collected the whole military force for the defence of the capital and center of the empire. The neceſſity of ſelf-preſervation had ſuperceded the ambition of power; and the antient point of honour, of never contracting the limits of the empire, could no longer be attended to in this deſperate extremity.

BRITAIN by its ſituation was removed from the fury of theſe barbarous incurſions; and being alſo a remote province, not much valued by the Romans, the legions, which defended it, were carried over to the protection of Italy and Gaul. But that province, though ſecured by the ſea againſt the inroads of the greater tribes of barbarians, found enemies on its frontiers, who took advantage of its preſent defenceleſs ſituation. The Picts and Scots, who dwelt in the northern parts, beyond the wall of Antoninus, made incurſions upon their peaceable and effeminate neighbours; and beſides the temporary depredations which they committed, threatened the whole province with ſubjection, or, what the inhabitants more dreaded, with plunder and devaſtation. The former nation ſeem to have been a tribe of the native Britiſh race, who, having been chaced into the northern parts by the conqueſts of Agricola, had there intermingled with the antient inhabitants: The other were derived from the ſame Celtic origin, had firſt been eſtabliſhed in Ireland, had ſent over a colony to the north-weſt coaſts of this iſland, and had long been accuſtomed, as well from their old as their new ſeats, to infeſt [Page 9] the Roman province by their pyracy and rapine. Theſe two tribes, finding their more opulent neighbours expoſed to invaſion, ſoon broke over the Roman wall, no longer defended by the Roman arms; and though a contemptible enemy in themſelves, met with no reſiſtance from the unwarlike inhabitants. The Britains, accuſtomed to have recourſe to the emperors for defence as well as government, made ſupplications to Rome; and one legion was ſent over for their protection. This force was an over-match for the barbarians, repelled their invaſion, routed them in every engagement, and having chaced them into their antient limits, returned in triumph to the defence of the ſouthern provinces of the empire*. Their retreat brought on a new invaſion of the enemy. The Britains made again an application to Rome, and obtained again the aſſiſtance of a legion, which proved effectual for their relief: But the Romans, reduced to extremities at home, and fatigued with theſe diſtant expeditions, informed the Britains that they muſt no longer look to them for ſuccour, exhorted them to arm in their own defence, and urged, that as they were now their own maſters, it became them to protect by their valour that independence which their antient lords had conferred upon them. That they might leave the iſland with the better grace, the Romans aſſiſted them in erecting anew the wall of Severus, which was built entirely of ſtone, and which the Britains had not at that time artizans ſkilful enough to repair. And having done this laſt good office to the inhabitants, they bid a final adieu to Britain, about the year 448; after being maſters of the moſt conſiderable part of it during the courſe of near four centuries.

1.3. The BRITAINS.

THE abject Britains regarded this preſent of liberty as fatal to them; and were in no condition to put in practice the prudent advice given them by the Romans, of arming in their own defence. Unaccuſtomed both to the perils of war, and to the cares of civil government, they found themſelves incapable of forming or executing any meaſures for reſiſting the incurſions of the barbarians. Gratian alſo and Conſtantine, two Romans who had a little before aſſumed the purple in Britain, had carried over into the continent the flower of the Britiſh youth; and having periſhed in their unſucceſsful attempts on the imperial throne, had deſpoiled the iſland of thoſe, who, in this deſperate extremity, were beſt able [Page 10] to defend it. The Picts and Scots, finding that the Romans had finally relinquiſhed Britain, now regarded the whole as their prize, and attacked the northern wall with redoubled forces. The Britains, already ſubdued by their own fears, found the ramparts but a weak defence for them; and deſerting their ſtation, left the country entirely open to the inroads of the barbarous enemy. The invaders carried devaſtation and ruin along with them; and exerted to the utmoſt their native ferocity, which was not mitigated by the helpleſs condition and ſubmiſſive behaviour of the inhabitants*. The unhappy Britains had a third time recourſe to Rome, which had declared its reſolution for ever to abandon them. Aetius, the patrician, ſuſtained, at that time, by his valour and magnanimity, the to [...]ing ruins of the empire, and revived for a moment among the degenerate Romans the ſpirit, as well as diſcipline of their anceſtors. The Britiſh ambaſſadors carried to him the letter of their countrymen, which was inſcribed, The Groans of the Br [...]tains. The tenor of the epiſtle was ſuitable to its ſuperſcription. year A. D. The barbarians, ſay they, on the one hand, chace us into the ſea; the ſea, on the other, throws us back upon the barbarians; and we have only the hard choice left us, of periſhing by the ſword or by the waves . But Aetius, preſſed by the arms of Attila, the moſt terrible enemy that ever aſſailed the empire, had no leiſure to attend to the complaints of allies, whom generoſity alone could induce him to aſſiſt. The Britains, thus rejected, were reduced to deſpair, deſerted their habitations, abandoned tillage, and flying for protection to the foreſts and mountains, ſuffered equally from hunger and from the enemy. The barbarians themſelves began to feel the preſſures of famine in a country which they had ravaged; and being haraſſed by the diſperſed Britains, who had not dared to reſiſt them in a body, they retreated with their ſpoils into their own country.

THE Britains, taking advantage of this interval, returned to their uſual occupations; and the favourable ſeaſons, which ſucceeded, ſeconding their induſtry, made them ſoon forget all their paſt miſeries, and reſtored to them great plenty of all the neceſſaries of life. No more can be imagined to have been poſſeſſed by a people ſo rude, who had not, without the aſſiſtance of the Romans, art of maſonry ſufficient to raiſe a ſtone rampart for their own defence: Yet the Monkiſh h [...]ſtorians{inverted †}, who treat of thoſe events, complain of the luxury of the Britains during this period, and aſcribe to this vice, not to their cowardice or improvident councils, all their ſubſequent calamities.

[Page 11] THE Britains, entirely occupied in the enjoyment of the preſent interval of peace, made no proviſions for reſiſting the enemy, who, invited by their former timid behaviour, ſoon threatened them with a new invaſion. We are not exactly informed what ſpecies of civil government the Romans on their departure had left among them; but it appears probable, that the great men in the different diſtricts aſſumed a kind of regal, though precarious authority; and lived in a great meaſure independant of each other*. To this diſunion of councils were alſo added the diſputes of theology; and the diſciples of Pelagius, who was himſelf a native of Britain, having encreaſed to a great multitude, gave alarm to the clergy, who ſeem to have been more intent on reſiſting them, than in oppoſing the public enemy. Labouring under theſe domeſtic evils, and menaced with a foreign invaſion, the Britains attended only to the ſuggeſtions of their preſent fears; and following the councils of Vortigern, prince of Dumnonium, who, though ſtained with every vice, poſſeſſed the chief authority among them, they ſent into Germany a deputation to invite over the Saxons for their protection and aſſiſtance.

1.4. The SAXONS.

OF all the barbarous nations, known either in antient or modern times, the Germans ſeem to have been the moſt diſtinguiſhed both by their manners and political inſtitutions, and to have carried to the higheſt pitch the virtues of valour, and love of liberty; the only virtues which can have place among an uncivilized people, where juſtice and humanity are commonly neglected. Kingly government, even when eſtabliſhed among the Germans, (for it was not univerſal) poſſeſſed a very limited authority; and though the ſovereign was uſually choſen from amongſt the royal family, he was obliged to be directed in every meaſure by the common conſent of the nation, over whom he preſided. When any important affairs were tranſacted, all the warriors of the nation met in arms; the men of greateſt authority employed perſuaſion to engage their conſent; the people expreſſed their approbation by rattling their armour, or their diſſent by murmurs; there was no neceſſity for a nice ſcrutiny of votes among a multitude, who were uſually carried with a ſtrong current to one ſide or the other; and the meaſure, thus ſuddenly choſen by general agreement, was executed with alacrity, and proſecuted with vigour. Even in war, their princes governed more by example [Page 12] than by authority: But in peace, the civil union was in a great meaſure diſſolved, and the inferior leaders adminiſtered juſtice, after an independent manner, each in his particular diſtrict. Theſe were elected by the votes of the people in their great councils; and though regard was paid to nobility in the [...], their [...]onal qua [...]ities, chiefly their valour, procured them from the ſuffrages of their fellow-citizens that honourable but dangerous diſtinction. The w [...]rs of each tribe attached themſelves to their leader, with the moſt devoted [...]on and moſt unſhaken conſtancy. They attended him as his ornament in peace, as his defence in war, as his council in the adminiſtration of juſtice. Their conſt [...]nt emulation in military renown diſſolved not that inviolable friendſhip which they profeſſed to their chieftain and to each other. To die for the honour of th [...]r band was their chief ambition: To ſurvive its diſgrace, or the death of their leader, was infamous. They even carried into the field their women and children, who adopted all the martial ſentiments of the men: And being thus impelled by every human motive, they were invincible; where they were not oppoſed, either by the ſimilar manners and inſtitutions of the neighbouring Germans, or by the ſuperior diſcipline, arms, and numbers of the Romans*.

THE leaders and their military companions were maintained by the labour of their ſlaves, or by that of the weaker and leſs warlike part of the ſociety, whom they defended. The contributions, which they levied, went not beyond a bare ſubſiſtance; and the honours, acquired by a ſuperior rank, were the only reward of their ſuperior dangers and fatigues. All the refined arts of life were unknown among the Germans: Tillage itſelf was almoſt wholly neglected: They ſeem to have been even anxious to prevent any improvements of that nature; and the leaders, by annually diſtributing anew all the land among the inhabitants of each village, prevented them from attaching themſelves to particular poſſeſſions, or making any ſuch progreſs in agriculture as might divert their attention from military expeditions, the chief occupation of the community.

THE Saxons had been for ſome time regarded as one of the moſt warlike tribes of this fierce people, and had become the terror of all the neighbouring nations. They had ſpread themſelves from the northern parts of Germany and the Cimbrian Cherſoneſus, and had taken poſſeſſion of all the ſea-coaſt from the mouth of the Rhine to Jutland; whence they had long infeſted by their pyracies all the eaſtern parts of Britain, and northern of Gaul. In order to oppoſe their inroads, the Romans had eſtabliſhed an officer, whom they called Count of the [Page 13] Saxon ſhore; and as the naval arts can only flouriſh among a civilized people, they ſeem to have been more ſucceſsful in repelling the Saxons than any of the other barbarians, by whom they were invaded. The diſſolution of the Roman power invited them to renew their inroads; and it was an acceptable circumſtance, that the deputies of the Britains appeared among them, and prompted them to undertake an enterprize, to which they were of themſelves ſufficiently inclined.

HENGIST and Horſa were two brothers, who poſſeſſed great credit among the Saxons, and were much celebrated both for their valour and nobility. They were believed, as moſt of the Saxon princes, to be ſprung from Woden who was worſhiped as a god among thoſe nations, and they are ſaid to be his great grandſons*; a circumſtance which added much to their authority. We ſhall not attempt to trace any higher the origin of thoſe princes and nations. It is evident what fruitleſs labour it muſt be to ſearch in thoſe barbarous and illiterate ages for the annals of a people, when their firſt leaders, known in any true hiſtory, were believed by them to be the fourth in deſcent from a fabulous deity, or from a man, exalted by ignorance into that character. The dark induſtry of antiquarians, led by remote analogies of names, or by uncertain traditions, would in vain attempt to pierce into that deep obſcurity, which covers the remote hiſtory of thoſe nations.

THESE two brothers, obſerving the other provinces of Germany to be occupied by a warlike and neceſſitous people, and the rich provinces of Gaul already conquered or over-run by other German tribes, found it eaſy to perſwade their countrymen to embrace the ſole enterprize, which promiſed a favourable opportunity of diſplaying their valour and gratifying their avidity. They embarked their troops in three veſſels, and about the years 449 or 450, carried over 1600 men, who landed in the iſle of Thanet, and immediately marched to the defence of the Britains againſt the northern invaders. The Scots and Picts were unable to reſiſt the valour of theſe auxiliaries; and the Britains, applauding their own wiſdom in calling over the Saxons, hoped thenceforth to enjoy peace and ſecurity under the powerful protection of that warlike people.

BUT Hengiſt and Horſa, perceiving, from their eaſy victory over the Scots and Picts, with what facility they might ſubdue the Britains themſelves, who had not been able to reſiſt theſe feeble invaders, were determined to conquer and fight for their own grandeur, not for the defence of their degenerate allies. They ſent [Page 14] intelligence to Saxony of the fertility and riches of Britain; and repreſented the certain conqueſt, which might be made over a people, ſo long diſuſed to arms, who, being now cut off from the Roman empire, of which they were a province during ſo many ages, had not yet acquired any union among themſelves, and were devoid of all affection to their new liberties, and of all national attachments and regards*. The vices and puſillanimity of Vortigern, the Britiſh leader, were a new ground of hopes; and the Saxons in Germany, following ſuch agreeable proſpects, ſoon re-inforced Hengiſt and Horſa with 5000 men, who came over in ſeventeen veſſels. The Britains began now to entertain apprehenſions of their allies, whoſe numbers they found continually augmenting; but thought of no remedy, except in a paſſive ſubmiſſion and connivance. This weak expedient ſoon falled them. The Saxons ſought a quarrel by complaining that their ſubſidies were ill paid, and their proviſions withdrawn: And immediately taking off the maſk, they formed an alliance with the Picts and Scots, and proceeded to open hoſtility againſt the Britains.

THE Britains impelled by theſe violent extremities, and full of indignation againſt their treacherous auxiliaries, were neceſſitated to take arms; and having depoſed Vortigern, who had become odious from his vices, and from the bad event of his raſh councils, they put themſelves under the command of his ſon, Vortimer*. They fought many battles with their enemies; and tho' the victories in theſe actions be diſputed between the Britiſh and Saxon annaliſts, the progreſs ſtill made by the Saxons prove that the advantage was commonly on their ſide. In one battle, however, fought at Eglesford, now Ailsford, Horſa, the Saxon general, was ſlain; and left the ſole command over his countrymen in the hands of Hengiſt§. This active general, continually re-inforced by freſh numbers from Germany, carried devaſtation into the moſt remote corners of Britain; and being chiefly anxious to ſpread the terror of his arms, he ſpared neither age, nor ſex, nor condition, wherever he marched with his victorious forces. The private and public edifices of the Britains were reduced to aſhes: The prieſts were ſlaughtered on the altars by theſe idolatrous ravagers: The biſhops and nobility ſhared the fate of the vulgar: The people flying into the mountains and deſerts, were intercepted and butchered in heaps: Some were glad to accept of life and ſervitude under their victors: Others, deſerting their native country, took ſhelter in the province of Armorica; where being charitably [Page 15] received by a people of the ſame language and manners, they ſettled in great numbers, and gave the country the name of Brittany*.

THE Britiſh writers aſſign one cauſe, which facilitated the entrance of the Saxons into this iſland; the love, with which Vortigern was at firſt ſeized for Rovena, the daughter of Hengiſt, and which that artful warrior made uſe of to blind the eyes of the imprudent monarch. The ſame hiſtorians add, that Vortimer died; and Vortigern, being reſtored to the throne, accepted of a feſtival from Hengiſt, at Stonehenge; where 300 of his nobility were treacherouſly ſlaughtered, and himſelf detained captive. But theſe ſtories ſeem to have been invented by the Welſh authors, in order to palliate the weak reſiſtance made at firſt by their countrymen, and to account for the rapid progreſs and licentious devaſtations of the Saxons.

AFTER the death of Vortimer, Ambroſius, a Britain, tho' of Roman deſcent, was inveſted with the command over his countrymen, and endeavoured, not without ſucceſs, to unite them in their reſiſtance againſt the Saxons. Theſe conteſts increaſed the animoſity between the two nations, and rouzed the military ſpirit of the antient inhabitants which had before been ſunk into ſuch a fatal lethargy. Hengiſt, however, notwithſtanding their oppoſition, ſtill kept his ground in Britain; and in order to divide the forces and attention of the Britains, he called over a new tribe of Saxons under the command of his brother Octa, and of Ebiſſa, the ſon of Octa; and he ſettled them in Northumberland. He himſelf remained in the ſouthern parts of the iſland, and laid the foundation of the kingdom of Kent, comprehending the county of that name, Middleſex, Eſſex, and part of Surrey. He fixed his royal ſeat at Canterbury; where he governed about forty years, and he died in or near the year 488; leaving his new acquired dominions to his poſterity.

THE ſucceſs of Hengiſt excited the avidity of the other inhabitants of the northern regions of Germany; and at different times, and under different leaders, they flocked over in multitudes to the invaſion of this iſland. Theſe conquerors where chiefly compoſed of three tribes, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes§, who paſſed, all of them, under the common appellation, ſometimes of Saxons, ſometimes of Angles; and ſpeaking the ſame language, and being governed by the [Page 16] ſame inſtitutions, they were naturally led, from theſe cauſes, as well as from their common intereſt, to unite themſelves againſt the antient inhabitants. The reſiſtance, however unequal, was ſtill maintained by the Britains; but became every day more feeble: And their misfortunes admitted of few intervals, till they were driven into Cornwal and Wales, and received protection from the remote ſituation or inacceſſible mountains of thoſe countries.

THE firſt Saxon ſtate, after that of Kent, which was eſtabliſhed in Britain, was the kingdom of South-Saxony. In the year 477, Aella a Saxon chieftain, brought over an army from Germany; and landing in the ſouthern coaſt, proceeded to take poſſeſſion of the neighbouring territory. The Britains, now armed, abandoned not tamely their poſſeſſions; nor were they expelled, till defeated in many battles by their warlike invaders. The moſt memorable action, mentioned by hiſtorians, is that of Mearcredes-Burn*; where, tho' the Saxons ſeem to have obtained the victory, they ſuffered ſo conſiderable a loſs, as ſomewhat retarded the progreſs of their conqueſts. But Aella, re-inforced by freſh numbers of his countrymen, again took the field againſt the Britains; and laid ſiege to Andred-Ceaſter, which was defended by the garriſon and inhabitants with deſperate valour. The Saxons, enraged by this reſiſtance, and by the fatigues and dangers which they had ſuſtained, redoubled their efforts againſt the place, and when maſters of it, put all their enemies to the ſword without diſtinction. This deciſive advantage ſecured the conqueſts of Aella, who aſſumed the name of King, and extended his dominion over Suſſex and a great part of Surrey. He was ſt [...]pped in his progreſs to the eaſt by the kingdom of Kent: In that to the weſt, by another tribe of Saxons, who had taken poſſeſſion of that territory.

THESE Saxons, from the ſituation of the country in which they ſettled, were ca [...]led the Weſt-Saxons, and landed in the year 495, under the command of Cerdic, and of his ſon Kenric. The Britains were, by paſt experience, ſo much on their guard, and ſo well prepared to receive the enemy, that they gave battle to Cerdic the very day of his landing; and tho' vanquiſhed, ſtill defended, for ſome time, their liberties againſt the invaders. None of the other tribes of Saxons met with ſuch vigorous reſiſtance, or exerted ſuch valour and perſeverance in puſhing their conqueſts. Cerdic was even obliged to call for the aſſiſtance of his countrymen from the kingdoms of Kent and Suſſex, as well as from Germany, and he was thence joined by a freſh army under the command [Page 17] of Porte, and of his ſons Bleda and Megla*. Strengthened by theſe ſuccours, he fought in the year 508 a deſperate battle with the Britains, commanded by Nazan-Leod, their leader, who was victorious in the beginning of the action, and routed the wing in which Cerdic himſelf commanded. But Kenric, who had prevailed in the other wing, brought timely aſſiſtance to his father, and reſtored the battle, which ended with a complete victory on the ſide of the Saxons. Nazan-Leod periſhed with 5000 of his army: But left the Britains more weakened than diſcouraged by his death. The war ſtill continued, tho' the ſucceſs was commonly on the ſide of the Saxons, whoſe ſhort ſwords and cloſe manner of fighting, gave them great advantage over the miſſile weapons of the Britains. Cerdic was not wanting to his good fortune; and in order to extend his conqueſts, he laid ſiege to Mount Badon or Baneſdowne near Bath, whither the moſt obſtinate of the diſcomfited Britains had retired. The ſouthern Britains in this extremity applied for aſſiſtance to Arthur, prince of the Silures, whoſe heroic valour now ſuſtained the declining fate of his country. This is that Arthur ſo much celebrated by the ſongs of Thalieſſin, and the other Britiſh bards, and whoſe military atchievements have been blended with ſo many fables as to give occaſion for entertaining a doubt of his real exiſtence. But poets, tho' they disfigure the moſt certain hiſtory by their fictions, and uſe ſtrange liberties with truth where they are the ſole hiſtorians, as among the Britains, have commonly ſome foundation for their wildeſt exaggerations. Certain it is, that the ſiege of Badon was raiſed by the Britains in the year 520, and the Saxons there diſcomfited in a great battle. This misfortune ſtoped the progreſs of Cerdic; but was not ſufficient to wreſt from him the conqueſts, which he had already made. He and his ſon, Kenric, who ſucceeded him, eſtabliſhed the kingdom of the Weſt-Saxons or of Weſſex over the counties of Hants, Dorſet, Wilts, Berks, and the Iſle of Wight, and left their new acquired dominions to their poſterity. Cerdic died in 534§, Kenric in 560{inverted †}.

WHILE the Saxons made this progreſs in the ſouth, their countrymen were not leſs active in other quarters. In the year, 527*, a great tribe of adventurers, under ſeveral leaders, landed on the eaſt-coaſt of Britain; and after fighting many battles, of which hiſtory has preſerved no particular account, they eſtabliſhed three new kingdoms in this iſland. Uffa aſſumed the title of king of the Eaſt-Angles in 575; Crida that of Mercia in 585; and Erkenwin that [Page 18] of Eaſt-Saxony or Eſſex nearly about the ſame time; but the year is uncertain. This latter kingdom was diſmembered from that of Kent, and comprehended Eſſex, Middleſex, and part of Hertfordſhire. That of the Eaſt-Angles, the courties of Cambridge, Suffolk and Norfolk. Mercia was extended over all the middle counties, from the banks of the Severn, to the frontiers of theſe two kingdoms.

THE Saxons, ſoon after the landing of Hengiſt, had been planted in Northumberland; but meeting with an obſtinate reſiſtance, and making but ſmall progreſs in ſubduing the inhabitants, their affairs were in ſo unſettled a condition, that none of their princes for a long time aſſumed the appellation of king. At laſt in 547*, Ida, a Saxon prince of great merit, who claimed a deſcent, as did all the other princes of that nation, from Woden, brought over a reinforcement from Germany, and enabled the Northumbrians to carry on their conqueſts againſt the Britains. He entirely ſubdued the county, now called Northumberland, the biſhopric of Durham, as well as ſome of the ſouth eaſt counties of Scotland; and he aſſumed the crown under the title of King of Bernicia. Nearly about the ſame time, Aella, another Saxon prince, having conquered Lancaſhire, and the greateſt part of Yorkſhire, received the appellation of King of Deïri. Theſe two kingdoms were united in the perſon of Ethelfrid, grandſon of Ida, who married Acca, the daughter of Aella; and expelling her brother, Edwin, eſtabliſhed one of the moſt powerful of the Saxon kingdoms, under the title of Northumberland. How far his dominions extended into the country now called Scotland is uncertain; but it cannot be doubted, that all the lowlands, eſpecially the eaſt-coaſt of that country, were peopled in a great meaſure from Germany; tho' the expeditions, made by the ſeveral Saxon adventurers, have eſcaped the records of hiſtory. The language, ſpoke in theſe countries, which is purely Saxon, is a ſtronger proof of this event, than can be oppoſed by the imperfect, or rather fabulous annals, which are obtruded on us by the Scots hiſtorians.


THUS was eſtabliſhed, after a violent ſtruggle of near an hundred and fifty years, the Heptarchy, or ſeven Saxon kingdoms, in Britain; and the whole ſouthern part of the iſland, except Wales and Cornwal, had totally changed its inhabitants, language, cuſtoms, and political inſtitutions. The Britains, under [Page 19] the Roman dominion, had made ſuch advances towards arts and civil manners, that they had built twenty-eight conſiderable cities within their province, beſides a great number of villages and country-ſeats*; but the fierce conquerors, by whom they were now ſubdued, threw every thing back into antient barbarity; and thoſe few natives, who were not either maſſacred or expelled their habitations, were reduced to the moſt abject ſlavery. None of the other northern conquerors, the Franks, Goths, Vandals, or Burgundians, tho' they over-ran the ſouthern provinces, like a mighty torrent, made ſuch devaſtations in the conquered territories, or were inflamed into ſuch a violent animoſity againſt the antient inhabitants. As the Saxons came over at intervals in ſeparate bodies, the Britains, however at firſt unwarlike, were tempted to make reſiſtance; and hoſtilities, being thereby prolonged, proved more deſtructive to both parties, eſpecially to the vanquiſhed. The firſt invaders from Germany, inſtead of excluding other adventurers, who muſt ſhare with them the ſpoils and property of the antient inhabitants, were obliged to invite over freſh ſupplies from their own country; and a total extermination of the Britains became the ſole expedient for providing a ſettlement and ſubſiſtance to the new planters. Hence there have been found in hiſtory few conqueſts more ruinous than that of the Saxons; and few revolutions more violent than that which they introduced.

So long as the conteſt was maintained with the natives, the ſeveral Saxon princes preſerved an union of councils and intereſts; but after the Britains were ſhut up in the barren countries of Cornwal and Wales, and gave no farther inquietude to the conquerors, the band of alliance was in a great meaſure diſſolved among the princes of the Heptarchy; and tho' one prince ſeems ſtill to have been allowed or to have aſſumed an aſcendant over the whole, his authority, if it ought ever to be deemed regular or legal, was extremely limited; and each ſtate acted as if it had been totally ſeparate and independant of the reſt. Wars, therefore, and revolutions and diſſentions were unavoidable among a turbulent and military people; and theſe events, however intricate or confuſed, ſhould now become the objects of our attention. But, added to the difficulty of carrying on at once the hiſtory of ſeven independent kingdoms, there is a great diſcouragement to a writer, ariſing from the uncertainty, at leaſt barrenneſs, of the accounts tranſmitted to us. The Monks, who were the only annaliſts during thoſe ages, lived remote from public affairs, conſidered the civil tranſactions as entirely ſubordinate to the eccleſiaſtical, and beſides partaking of the ignorance and barbarity, which were then univerſal, were ſtrongly infected with credulity, with the love of wonder, and [Page 20] with a propenſity to impoſture; vices almoſt inſeparable from their profeſſion, and manner of life. The hiſtory of that period abounds in names, but is extremely barren of events; or the events are related ſo much without circumſtances and cauſes, that the moſt profound or moſt eloquent writer muſt deſpair of rendering them either inſtructive or entertaining to the reader. Even the great learning and vigorous imagination of Milton ſunk under the weight; and this author ſcruples not to declare, that he eſteems the ſkirmiſhes of kites or crows equally deſerving of a particular narrative, as the confuſed tranſactions and battles of the Saxon Heptarchy*. In order, however, to connect the events in ſome tolerable meaſure, we ſhall give a ſuccinct account of the ſucceſſions of kings, and of the revolutions in each particular kingdom; beginning with that of Kent, which was the firſt eſtabliſhed.

1.6. The KINGDOM of KENT.

ESCUS ſucceeded his father, Hengiſt, in the Kingdom of Kent; but ſeems not to have poſſeſſed the military reputation enjoyed by that conqueror, who firſt made way for the entrance of the Saxon arms into Britain. All the Saxons, who ſought the fame of valour, or new eſtabliſhments by arms, flocked to the ſtandard of Aella, King of Suſſex, who was carrying on ſucceſsful war againſt the Britains, and laying the foundations of a new kingdom. Eſcus was contented to poſſeſs in tranquility the kingdom of Kent, which he left in 512 to his ſon Octa, in whoſe time the Eaſt-Saxons eſtabliſhed their monarchy, and diſmembered the provinces of Eſſex and Middleſex from that of Kent. His death, after twenty-two years reign, made room for his ſon Hermenric in 534, who performed nothing memorable during a reign of thirty-two years; except aſſociating with him his ſon, Ethelbert, in the government, in order the better to ſecure the ſucceſſion in his family, and prevent ſuch revolutions as are incident to a turbulent and barbarous monarchy.

ETHELBERT revived the reputation of his family, which had languiſhed for ſome generations. The inactivity of his predeceſſors, and the ſituation of his country, ſecured from all hoſtility with the Britains, ſeems to have much weakened the warlike genius of the Kentiſh Saxons; and Ethelbert, in his firſt attempt to aggrandize his country, and diſtinguiſh his own name, met with very bad ſucceſs. He was twice diſcomfited in battle by Ceaulin, King of Weſſex; and obliged to yield the ſuperiority in the Heptarchy to that ambitious monarch, who [Page 21] preſerved no moderation in his victory, and by ſubjecting the kingdom of Suſſex, excited jealouſy in all the other princes. An aſſociation was formed againſt him; and Ethelbert, entruſted with the command of the allies, fought him in a great battle, and obtained a deciſive victory*. Ceaulin died ſoon after; and Ethelbert ſucceeded as well to his aſcendant among the Saxon ſtates, as to his other ambitious and exorbitant projects. He reduced all the princes, except the king of Northumberland, to a ſtrict dependance upon him; and even eſtabliſhed himſelf by force on the throne of Mercia, the moſt extenſive of the Saxon kingdoms. Apprehenſive, however, of a dangerous league againſt him, like that by which he himſelf had been enabled to overthrow Ceaulin, he had the prudence to reſign the throne of Mercia to Webba, the rightful heir, the ſon of Crida, who had firſt founded that monarchy. But governed ſtill by ambition more than by juſtice, he gave Webba poſſeſſion of the crown on ſuch conditions, as rendered him little better than a tributary prince under his artful benefactor.

BUT the moſt memorable and moſt fortunate event, which diſtinguiſhed the reign of this great prince, was the introduction of the Chriſtian religion among the Engliſh Saxons. The ſuperſtition of the Germans, particularly that of the Saxons, was of the groſſeſt and moſt barbarous kind; and being founded on certain traditional tales, received from their anceſtors, not reduced to any ſyſtem, not ſupported by political inſtitutions, like that of the Druids, it ſeems to have made little impreſſion on its votaries, and to have eaſily reſigned its place to the new doctrine, promulgated to them. Woden, whom they believed the anceſtor of all their princes, was regarded as the god of war, and, by a natural conſequence, became their ſupreme deity, and the chief object of their religious worſhip. They believed, that, if they obtained the favour of this divinity by their valour, (for they made leſs account of the other virtues) they would be admitted after their death into his hall, and repoſing on couches, would ſatiate themſelves with ale from the ſkulls of their enemies, whom they had ſlain in battle. Incited by this idea of paradiſe, which gratified at once the paſſion of revenge and that of intemperance, the ruling inclinations of barbarians, they deſpiſed the dangers of war, and encreaſed their native ferocity againſt the vanquiſhed by their religious prejudices. We know little of the other theological tenets of the Saxons: We only learn that they were idolaters; that they worſhiped the ſun and moon; that they adored the god of thunder, under the name of Thor; that they had images in their temples; that they practiſed ſacrifices; believed firmly in ſpells and inchantments; [...] [...]dmitted in general a ſyſtem of doctrines, which they held as ſacred, [...] the ſuperſtitions, muſt bear the [Page 22] air of the wildeſt extravagance, if propounded to thoſe who are not familiarized to it from their earlieſt infancy.

THE conſtant hoſtilities which the Saxons maintained againſt the Britains, would naturally indiſpoſe them from receiving the Chriſtian faith, when preached to them by ſuch inveterate enemies; and perhaps the Britains, as is objected to them by Gildas and Bede, were not over fond of communicating to their cruel invaders the doctrine of eternal life and ſalvation. But as a civilized people, however ſubdued by arms, ſtill maintain a ſenſible ſuperiority over barbarous and ignorant nations, all the other northern conquerors of Europe had been already induced to embrace the Chriſtian faith, which they found eſtabliſhed in the empire; and it was impoſſible but the Saxons, informed of this event, muſt have regarded with ſome degree of veneration a doctrine which had acquired the aſcendant over all their brethren. However limited in their views, they could not but have perceived a degree of cultivation in the ſouthern counties beyond what they themſelves poſſeſſed; and it was natural for them to yield to that ſuperior knowledge, as well as zeal, by which the inhabitants of the Chriſtian kingdoms were even at this time diſtinguiſhed.

BUT theſe cauſes might long have failed of operating their effect, had not a favourable incident prepared the means of introducing Chriſtianity into Kent. Ethelbert, in his father's lifetime, had married Bertha, the only daughter of Caribert, King of Paris*, one of the deſcendants of Clovis, the conqueror of Gaul; but before he was admitted to this alliance, he was obliged to ſtipulate, that the princeſs ſhould enjoy the free exerciſe of her religion; a conceſſion not difficult to be obtained from the idolatrous Saxons. Bertha brought over a French biſhop to the court of Canterbury; and being zealous for the propagation of her religion, ſhe had been very aſſiduous in her devotional exerciſes, had ſupported the credit of her faith by an irreproachable conduct, and had employed every art of inſinuation and addreſs to reconcile her huſband to her religious principles. Her popularity in the court, and her influence over Ethelbert, had ſo well paved the way for the reception of the Chriſtian doctrine, that Gregory, ſirnamed the Great, the preſent Roman pontiff, began to entertain hopes of effectuating a project, which he himſelf, before he mounted the papal throne, had once embraced for converting the Britiſh Saxons.

IT happened, that this prelate, being then in a private ſtation, had obſerved in the market-place of Rome ſome Saxon youths expoſed to ſale, whom the Roman merchants, in their trading voyages to Britain, had bought of their mercenary [Page 23] parents. Struck with the beauty of their fair complexions and blooming countenances, Gregory aſked to what country they belonged; and being told they were Angles, he replied, that they ought more properly to be denominated angels; and it was a pity that the Prince of Darkneſs ſhould enjoy ſo fair a prey, and that ſo beautiful a frontiſpiece ſhould cover a mind devoid of internal grace and righteouſneſs. Enquiring farther concerning the name of their province, he was informed, that it was Deïri, a diviſion of Northumberland: Deïri! replied he, that is good! They are called to the mercy of God from his anger, De ira. But what is the Name of the King of that province? He was told it was Aella or Alla: Alleluiah, cried he: We muſt endeavour that the praiſes of God be ſung in their country. Moved by theſe alluſions, which appeared to him ſo happy, he determined to undertake himſelf a miſſion into Britain; and having obtained the Pope's permiſſion, he prepared for that dangerous journey: But his popularity at home was ſo great, that the Romans, unwilling to expoſe him to ſuch hazards, oppoſed his deſign; and he was obliged for the preſent to lay aſide farther thoughts of executing that pious purpoſe.

THE controverſy between the Pagans and the Chriſtians was not entirely cooled in that age; and no pontiff before Gregory had ever carried to greater exceſſes his intemperate zeal againſt the former religion. He had declared war againſt all the precious monuments of the antients, and even againſt their writings; which, as appears from the ſtrain of his own wit, as well as the ſtyle of his compoſitions, he had not taſte nor genius ſufficient to comprehend. Ambitious to diſtinguiſh his pontificate by the converſion of the Britiſh Saxons, he pitched on Auguſtine, a Roman monk, and ſent him with forty aſſociates to preach the goſpel in this iſland. Theſe miſſionaries, terrified with the dangers, which might attend their propoſing a new doctrine to ſo fierce a people, of whoſe language they were entirely ignorant, ſtopped ſome time in France, and ſent back Auguſtine to lay the hazards and difficulties before the Pope, and crave his permiſſion to deſiſt from the undertaking. But Gregory exhorted them to perſevere in their purpoſe, adviſed them to chuſe ſome interpreters from among the Franks, who ſtill ſpoke the ſame language with the Saxons*, and recommended them to the good offices of Queen Brunehaut, who had at this time uſurped the ſovereign power in their country. This princeſs, tho' ſtained with every vice of treachery and cruelty, either poſſeſſed or pretended great zeal for the cauſe; and Gregory acknowledged, that to her friendly aſſiſtance was in a great meaſure owing the ſucceſs of that undertaking.

[Page 24] AUGUSTINE, on his arrival in Kent in the year 597*, found the danger much leſs than he had apprehended. Ethelbert, already well diſpoſed towards the Chriſtian faith, aſſigned him a habitation in the iſle of Thanet; and ſoon after admitted him to a conference. Apprehenſive, however, that ſpells or enchantments might be employed againſt him by prieſts, who brought an unknown worſhip from a diſtant country, he took the precaution of receiving them in the open air, where he believed the force of their magic would be more eaſily diſſipated. Here Auguſtine, by means of his interpreters, delivered to him the tenets of the Chriſtian faith, and promiſed him eternal joys above, and a kingdom in heaven without end, if he would be perſuaded to receive that ſalutary doctrine. ‘"Your words and promiſes,"’ replied Ethelbert, ‘"are fair; but becauſe they are new and uncertain, I cannot entirely yield to them, and relinquiſh the principles, which I and my anceſtors have ſo long maintained. You are welcome, however, to remain here in peace; and as you have undertaken ſo long a journey, ſolely, as appears, for what you believe to be for our advantage, I will ſupply you with all neceſſaries, and permit you to deliver your doctrine to my ſubjects".’

AUGUSTINE, encouraged by this favourable reception, and ſeeing now a proſpect of ſucceſs, proceeded with redoubled zeal to preach the goſpel to the Kentiſh Saxons. He attracted their attention by the auſterity of his manners, by the ſevere penances to which he ſubjected himſelf, by the abſtinence and ſelf-denial which he practiſed: And having excited their wonder by a courſe of life, which appeared ſo contrary to nature, he procured more eaſily their belief for miracles, which, it was pretended, he wrought for their converſion§. Influenced by theſe motives, and by the declared favour of the court, numbers of the Kentiſh men were baptized; and the King himſelf was perſuaded to ſubmit to that rite of Chriſtianity. His example wrought powerfully on his ſubjects; but he employed no force to bring them over to the new doctrine. Auguſtine thought proper, in the commencement of his miſſion, to aſſume the appearance of the greateſt lenity; and he told Ethelbert, that the ſervice of Chriſt muſt be entirely voluntary, and that no violence ought ever to be uſed in propagating ſo ſalutary a doctrine{inverted †}.

THE intelligence received of theſe ſpiritual conqueſts conveyed great joy to the Romans; who now exulted as much in thoſe peaceful trophies, as their anceſtors [Page 25] had ever done in their moſt ſanguinary triumphs, and moſt ſplendid victories. Gregory wrote a letter to Ethelbert, in which, after informing him, that the end of the world was approaching, he exhorted him to diſplay his zeal in the converſion of his ſubjects, to exert rigor againſt the worſhip of idols, and to build up the good work of holineſs by every expedient of exhortation, terror, blandiſhment or correction*: A doctrine more ſuitable to that age, and to the uſual papal maxims, than the tolerating principles which Auguſtine had thought it prudent to inculcate. The pontiff alſo anſwered ſome queſtions, which the miſſionary had put concerning the government of the new church of England. Beſides other queries, which it is not neceſſary here to relate, Auguſtine aſked, Whether couſin-germans might be allowed to marry? Gregory anſwered, that that liberty had indeed been formerly granted by the Roman law; but that experience had ſhown, that no poſterity could ever come from ſuch marriages; and he therefore prohibited them. Auguſtine aſks, Whether a woman pregnant might be baptized? Gregory anſwers, that he ſees no objection. How ſoon after the birth the child might receive baptiſm? It was anſwered, Immediately, if requiſite. How ſoon a huſband might have commerce with his wiſe after her delivery? Not till ſhe had given ſuck to her child; a practice to which Gregory exhorts all women. How ſoon a man might enter the church, or receive the ſacrament, after having had commerce with his wife? It was replied, that unleſs he had approached her without deſire, merely for the ſake of propagating his ſpecies, he was not free from ſin; but in all caſes it was requiſite for him, before he entered the church or communica ed, to purge himſelf by prayer and ablution; and ought not, even after uſing theſe precautions, to participate immediately of the ſacred duties. There are ſome other queſtions and replies ſtill more indecent and more ridiculous. And on the whole, it appears, that Gregory and his miſſionary, if ſympathy of manners have any influence, were better calculated than men of more refined underſtandings, for making a progreſs with the ignorant and barbarous Saxons.

[Page 26] THE more to facilitate the reception of Chriſtianity, Gregory injoined Auguſtine to remove the idols from the Heathen altars, but not to deſtroy the altars themſelves; becauſe the people, he ſaid, would be allured to frequent the Chriſtian worſhip, when they f [...]und it celebrated in a place, which they were accuſtomed to revere as ſacred. And as the Pagans practiſed ſacrifices, and feaſted with the prieſts on their offerings, he alſo exhorted the miſſionary to perſuade them, on Chriſtian feſtivals, to kill their cattle in the neighbourhood of the church, and to indulge themſelves in th ſe cheerful entertainments to which they had been habituated*. Theſe political compliances ſhow, that, notwithſtanding his ignorance and prejudices, he was not unacquainted with the arts of governing mankind. Auguſtine was conſecrated archbiſhop of Canterbury, was endowed by Gregory with authority over all the Britiſh churches, and received the pall, a badge of eccleſiaſtical honour, from Rome. Gregory alſo adviſed him not to be too much elated with his gift of working miracles; and as Auguſtine, proud of the ſucceſs of his miſſion, ſeemed to think himſelf intitled to extend his authority over the biſhops of Gaul, the Pope informed him, that they lay entirely without the bounds of his juriſdiction.

THE marriage of Ethelbert with Bertha, and much more his embracing Chriſtianity, begot a connexion of his ſubjects with the French, Italians, and other nations on the continent, and tended to reclaim them from that groſs ignorance and barbarity, in which all the Saxon tribes had been hitherto involved§. He alſo enacted{inverted †}, with the conſent of the ſtates of his kingdom, a body of laws, the firſt written laws promulgated by any of the northern conquerors; and his reign was in every reſpect glorious to himſelf, and uſeful to his people. He governed the kingdom of Kent fifty years; and dying in 616*, left the ſucceſſion to his ſon, Eadbald. This prince, ſeduced by a paſſion for his mother in-law, deſerted for ſome time the Chriſtian faith, which permitted not theſe inceſtuous marriages; and his whole people immediately returned with him to idolatry. Laurentius, the ſucceſſor of Auguſtine, found the Chriſtian worſhip wholly deſerted, and was preparing to return into France, in order to ſave himſelf the mortification of preaching the goſpel without fruit to the infidels. Mellitus and Juſtus, who had been conſecrated biſhops of London and Rocheſter, had already depart-the kingdom; when Laurentius, before he ſhould entirely abandon his dignity, [Page 27] made one effort to reclaim the King. He appeared before that prince; and throwing off his veſtment, ſhowed his body all torn with bruiſes and ſtripes, which he had received. Eadbald, wondering that any man ſhould have dared to treat in that manner a perſon of his rank, was told by Laurentius, that he had received this chaſtiſement from St. Peter, the prince of the apoſtles, who had appeared to him in a viſion, and ſeverely reproving him for his intention to deſert his charge, had inflicted on him theſe viſible marks of his diſpleaſure*. Whether Eadbald was ſtruck with the miracle, or influenced by ſome other motive, he divorced himſelf from his mother-in-law, and returned to the profeſſion of Chriſtianity: His whole people returned with him. Eadbald reached not the fame nor authority of his father, and died in 640, after a reign of twenty-five years; leaving two ſons, Erminfrid and Ercombert.

ERCOMBERT, tho' the youngeſt ſon, by Emma, a French princeſs, found means to mount the throne. He is celebrated by Bede for two exploits, for eſtabliſhing the faſt of Lent in his kingdom, and for utterly extirpating idolatry; which, notwithſtanding the prevalence of that papal Chriſtianity preached to the Saxons, had hitherto been allowed a toleration by the two preceding monarchs. He reigned twenty-four years; and left the crown to Egbert, his ſon, who reigned nine years. This prince is renowned for his encouragement of learning; but infamous for putting to death his two couſin-germans, ſons to Erminfrid, his uncle§. The eccleſiaſtical writers praiſe him for his beſtowing on his ſiſter Domnona, ſome lands in the iſle of Thanet, where ſhe founded a monaſtery.

THIS bloody precaution of Egbert could not fix the crown on the head of his ſon, Edric. Lothaire, brother to the deceaſed prince, took poſſeſſion of the throne; and in order to ſecure the kingdom in his family, he aſſociated with him Richard, his ſon, in the adminiſtration of the government. Edric, the diſpoſſeſſed prince, had recourſe to Edilwach, King of Suſſex, for aſſiſtance in maintaining his right; and being ſupported by that prince, fought a battle with his uncle, who was defeated and ſlain. Richard fled into Germany, and died at laſt in Lucca, a city of Tuſcany. William of Malmeſbury aſcribes Lothaire's bad fortune to two crimes, his concurrence in the murder of his couſins, and his contempt of reliques{inverted †}.

LOTHAIRE reigned eleven years; Edric his ſucceſſor only two. Upon the death of the latter, which happened in 686, Widred, his brother, obtained poſſeſſion [Page 28] of the crown. But as the ſucceſſion had been of late ſo much disjointed by revolutions and uſurpations, faction began to prevail among the nobility; which invited C [...]dwalla, King of Weſſex, with his brother Mollo, to attack the kingdom. Theſe invaders committed great devaſtations in Kent; but the death of Mollo, who was ſlain in a ſkirmiſh*, gave a ſhort breathing-time to that kingdom. Widred reſtored the affairs of Kent; and after a reign of thirty-two years, left the crown to his poſterity. Eadbert, Ethelbert, and Alric, his deſcendants ſucceſſively mounted the throne. After the death of the laſt, which happened in 794, the royal family of Kent was extinguiſhed; and every factious leader, who could entertain hopes of aſcending the throne, threw the ſtate into confuſion. Egbert, who firſt ſucceeded, reigned but two years; Cuthred, brother to the king of Mercia, ſix years; Baldred, an illegi imate branch of the royal family, eighteen: And after a troubleſome and precarious government, he was, in the year 723, expelled by Egbert, King of Weſſex, who diſſolved the Saxon heptarchy, and united the ſeveral kingdoms under his dominion.

1.7. The Kingdom of NORTHUMBERLAND.

ADELFRID, King of Bernicia, having married Acca, the daughter of Aella, King of Deïri, and expelled her infant brother, Edwyn, had united all the counties north of the Humber into one monarchy, and acquired a great aſcendant in the heptarchy. He alſo ſpread the terror of the Saxon arms to the neighbouring people; and by his victories over the Scots and Picts, as well as Welſh, extended on all ſides the bounds of his dominions. Having laid ſiege to Cheſter, the Britains marched out with all their forces to engage him; and they were attended with a body of 1250 monks from the monaſtery of Bangor, who ſtood at a ſmall diſtance from the field of battle, in order to encourage the combatants by their preſence and exhortations. Adelfrid enquiring about the purpoſe of this unuſual appearance, was told, that theſe prieſts had come to pray againſt him: Then they are as much our enemies, ſaid he, as thoſe who intend to fight againſt as: And he immediately ſent a detachment, who fell upon them, and committed ſuch ſlaughter, that only fifty eſcaped with their lives§. The Britains, aſtoniſhed with this event, received a total defeat: Cheſter was obliged to ſurrender: And Adelfrid, purſuing his victory, made himſelf maſter of Bangor, and entirely demoliſhed the monaſtery. It was ſo vaſt a building, that there was a [Page 29] mile's diſtance from one gate of it to another; and it contained two thouſand one hundred monks, who are ſaid to have been there maintained by the fruits of their own labour*.

NOTWITHSTANDING Adelfrid's ſucceſs in war, he lived in inquietude on account of young Edwin, whom he had unjuſtly diſpoſſeſſed of the crown of Deïri. This prince, now grown to man's eſtate, wandered from place to place, in continual danger from the attempts of Adelfrid; and received at laſt protection in the court of Redwald, King of the Eaſt-Angles; where his engaging and gallant deportment procured him the affections of every one. Redwald, however, was ſtrongly ſollicited by the King of Northumberland to kill or deliver up his gueſt: Rich preſents were promiſed him, if he would comply; and war denounced againſt him, in caſe of his refuſal. After rejecting ſeveral meſſages of this kind, his generoſity began to yield to the motives of intereſt; and he retained the laſt ambaſſador, till he ſhould come to a reſolution in a caſe of ſuch importance. Edwin, informed of his friend's heſitation, was yet determined at all hazards to remain in Eaſt Anglia; and thought, that if the protection of that court failed him, it were better to die than prolong a life ſo much expoſed to the perſecutions of his powerful rival. This confidence in Redwald's honour and friendſhip, with his other accompliſhments, engaged the Queen on his ſide; and ſhe effectually repreſented to her huſband the infamy of delivering up to certain deſtruction their royal gueſt, who had fled to them for protection againſt his cruel and jealous enemies. Redwald, therefore, embracing more generous reſolutions, thought it ſafeſt to prevent Adelfrid, before he was aware of his intention, and to attack him while he was yet unprepared for defence. He marched ſuddenly with an army into the kingdom of Northumberland, and fought a battle with Adelfrid; where that monarch was defeated and killed, after revenging himſelf by the death of Regner, ſon to Redwald. His own ſons, Eanfrid, Oſwald, and Oſwy, yet infants, fled into Scotland; and Edwin obtained poſſeſſion of the crown of Northumberland.

EDWIN was the greateſt prince of the heptarchy during his time, and diſtinguiſhed himſelf, both by his influence over the other kingdoms, and by the ſtrict execution of juſtice in his own dominions. He reclaimed his ſubjects from the licentious life to which they had been habituated; and it was a common ſaying, that in his reign a woman or child might openly carry every where a purſe of gold, without any danger of violence or robbery{inverted †}. There is a remarkable [Page 30] inſtance, t [...]nſmitted to us, of the affection borne him by his ſervants. Cuichel [...], King of Weſſex, was his enemy; and finding himſelf unable to maintain [...] againſt ſo gallant and powerful a prince, he determined to make uſe of treachery againſt him, and he employed one Eumer for that criminal purpoſe. The aſſaſſin, having obtained admittance, by pretending to deliver a meſſage from Cuichelme, drew his dagger, and ruſhed upon the King. Lilla, an officer of his army, ſeeing his maſter's danger, and having no other means of defence, interpoſed with his own body between the King and Eumer's dagger, which was puſhed with ſuch violence, that, after piercing Lilla, it even wounded Edwin: And before the aſſaſſin could renew his blow, he was diſpatched by the guards*.

THE Eaſt-Angles conſpired againſt Redwald, their King; and having put him to death, they offered their crown to Edwin, of whoſe valour and capacity they had had experience, while he reſided among them. But Edwin, ſenſible of gratitude towards his benefactor, obliged them to ſubmit to Earpwold, the ſon of Redwald; and that prince preſerved his authority, tho' on a precarious footing, under the protection of the Northumbrian monarch.

EDWIN, after his acceſſion to the crown, married Ethelburga, the daughter of Ethelbert, King of Kent; and this princeſs, emulating the glory of her mother Bertha, who had been the inſtrument of converting her huſband and his people to Chriſtianity, carried Paullinus, a learned biſhop, along with her; and beſides ſtipulating a toleration for the exerciſe of her own religion, which was readily granted her, ſhe uſed every reaſon to perſuade the King to embrace it. Edwin, like a prudent prince, heſitated on the propoſal; but promiſed to examine the foundations of that doctrine; and if he found them ſatisfactory, he declared himſelf willing to be converted. Accordingly he held ſeveral conferences with Paullinus, canvaſſed the arguments propounded with the wiſeſt of his counſellors, retired frequently from company, in order to revolve alone that important queſtion; and after a ſerious and long enquiry, declared in favour of the Chriſtian religion§. The people ſoon after imitated his example. Beſides the authority and influence of the King, they were moved by another ſtriking example. Coifi, the high prieſt, being converted after a public conference with Paullinus, led the way in deſtroying the images, which he had ſo long worſhiped, and was forward in making this atonement for his paſt idolatry{inverted †}.

THIS able prince periſhed with his ſon, Osfrid, in a great battle which he fought againſt Penda, King of Mercia and Cadwalla, King of the Britains*. [Page 31] That event, which happened in the forty eighth year of Edwin's age and ſeventeenth of his reign*, divided the monarchy of Northumberland, which he had united in his perſon. Ea [...]rid, the ſon of Adelfrid, returned with his brothers, Oſwald and Oſway, from Scotland, and took poſſeſſion of Bernic [...]a, his paternal kingdom: Oſric, Edwin's couſin-german, eſtabliſhed himſelf in Deïri, the inheritance of his family; but to which the ſons of Edwin had a preferable title. Eadfrid, the eldeſt ſurviving ſon, fled to Penda, by whom he was treacherouſly ſlain. The younger ſon, Vu [...]fraea, with Yffi, the grandſon of Edwin, by Osfrid, ſought protection in Kent, and not finding themſelves in ſafety there, retired into France to King Dagobert, where they died.

OSRIC, King of Deïri, and Eanfrid of Bernicia returned to Paganiſm; and the whole people ſeem to have returned with them; ſince Paullinus, who was conſecrated firſt archbiſhop of York, and who had converted them, thought proper to retire with Ethelburga, the Queen Dowager, into Kent. Both theſe Northumbrian kings periſhed ſoon after, the firſt in battle againſt Caedwalla, the Britain; the ſecond by the treachery of that prince. Oſwald the brother of Eanfrid, of the race of Bernicia, united again the kingdom of Northumberland in the year 634, and reſtored the chriſtian religion in his cominions. He gained a great and well diſputed battle againſt Caedwalla; the laſt vigorous effort which the Britains made againſt the Saxons. Oſwald is much celebrated for his ſanctity and charity by the Monkiſh hiſtorians; and they pretend, that his reliques wrought miracles, particularly the curing a ſick horſe, which had approached the place of his interment.

HE died in battle againſt Penda, King of Mercia, and was ſucceeded by his brother, Oſway; who eſtabliſhed himſelf in the government of all the Northumbrian kingdom by putting to death Oſwin, the ſon of Oſric, the laſt king of the race of Deïri{inverted †}. His ſon Egfrid ſucceeded him; who periſhing in battle againſt the Picts, without leaving any children, becauſe Adelthrid his wife refuſed to violate her vow of chaſtity*, Alfred, his natural brother, acquired poſſeſſion of the kingdom, which he happily governed for nineteen years; and he left it to Oſred, his ſon; a boy of eight years of age. This prince, after a reign of eleven years, was murdered by Kenred his kinſman, who, after enjoying the crown only a year, periſhed by a like fate. Oſric, and after him Celwulph the ſon of Kenred, next mounted the throne, which the latter relinquiſhed in the [Page 32] year 738, in favour of Eadbert his couſin-german, who imitating his predeceſſor, abdicated the crown, and retired into a monaſtry*. Oſwolf, ſon of Eadbert, was ſlain in a ſedition, a year after his acceſſion to the crown; and Mollo, who was not of the royal family, ſeized the crown. He periſhed by the treachery of A [...], a prince of the blood; and Alred, having ſucceeded in his deſign upon the [...], was ſ [...]on after expelled by his ſubjects. Ethelred, his ſucceſſor, the ſon of Mollo, ſhared a like fate. Celwold, the next king, the brother of Ailfred, was [...] and and ſlain by the people, and his place was filled by Oſred, his nephew, who after the ſnort reign of a year, made way for Ethelbert, another ſon of Mollo, whoſe death was equally tragical with that of almoſt all his predeceſſors. After Ethelbert's death an univerſal anarchy prevailed in Northumberland; and the people, having, by ſo many fatal revolutions, loſt all attachment to their government and princes, were well prepared for ſubjection to a foreign yoke; which Egbert, King of Weſſex, finally impoſed upon them.

1.8. The Kingdom of EAST-ANGLIA.

THE hiſtory of this kingdom contains nothing memorable, except the converting to chriſtianity Earpwold, the fourth king and great-grandſon of Uffa, the founder of the monarchy. The authority of Edwin, King of Northumberland, on whom that prince entirely depended, engaged him to take this ſtep: But ſoon after, his wife, who was an idolatreſs, brought him back to her religion§; and he was found unable to reſiſt thoſe allurements, which have ſeduced the wiſeſt of mankind. After his death, which was violent, like that of moſt of the Saxon princes, who did not timeouſly retire into monaſteries, Sigebert, his ſucceſſor, and ha [...]f-brother, who had been educated in France, reſtored chriſtianity, and introduced learning among the Angles. Some pretend that he founded founded the univerſity of Cambridge, or rather ſome ſchools in that place. It is almoſt impoſſible, and quite needleſs to be more particular in relating the tranſactions of the Eaſt-Angles. What advantage or entertainment can it give the reader to hear a long bede roll of barbarous names, Egric, Annas, Ethelbert, Ethelwald, Aldulf, Elfwald, Beorne, Ethelred, Ethelbert, who exceſſively murdered, expelled, or ſucceeded to each other, and obſcurely filled the throne [Page 33] of that kingdom. Ethelbert, the laſt of theſe princes, was treacherouſly murdered by Offa, King of Mercia, in the year 792, and his ſtate was thenceforth united with that of Offa, as we ſhall relate preſently.

1.9. The Kingdom of MERCIA.

MERCIA, the largeſt, if not the moſt powerful kingdom of the Heptarchy, comprehended all the middle counties of England; and as its frontiers extended to thoſe of all the other ſix kingdoms, as well as to Wales, it received its name from that circumſtance. Wibba, the ſon of Crida, founder of the monarchy, being placed on the throne by Ethelbert, King of Kent, governed his paternal dominions by a very precarious authority; and after his death, Ceorl, his kinſman, was, by the influence of the Kentiſh monarch, preferred to his ſon, Penda, whoſe turbulent diſpoſition appeared dangerous to that prince. Penda was thus fifty years of age before he mounted the throne; and his temerity and martial diſpoſition were found no-wiſe unabated by time, experience, or reflection. He engaged in continual hoſtilities againſt all the neighbouring ſtates; a [...]d by his injuſtice and violence rend [...]red himſelf equally odious to his own ſubjects and to ſtrangers. Sigebert, Egrie, and Annas, three kings of Eaſt-Anglia, periſhed in battle againſt him; as did alſo Edwin and Oſwald, the two greateſt princes, who had filled the throne of Northumberland*. At laſt, Oſwy, brother to Oſwald, having defeated him in a great batt [...]e, freed the world from this ſanguinary tyrant. Peada, his ſon, obtained the crown of Mercia in 655, and lived under the protection of Oſwy, whoſe daughter he had eſpouſed. This princeſs was educated in the chriſtian faith, and ſhe employed her influence with ſucceſs, in converting her huſband and his ſubjects to that religion. Thus the fair ſex have had the merit of introducing the chriſtian doctrine into all the moſt conſiderable kingdoms of the Saxon Heptarchy. Peada died a violent death. His ſon, Wolfhere, ſucceeded to the government; and after having reduced to dependance the kingdoms of Eſſex, and Eaſt-Anglia, he leſt the crown to his brother, Ethelred, who, tho' a lover of peace, ſhowed himſelf not unfit for military enterprizes. Beſides making a ſucceſsful expedition into Kent, he repulſed [Page 34] Egfrid, King of Northumberland, who had invaded his dominions; and he ſlew in battle Elfwin, the brother of that prince. Deſirous, however, of compoſing all animoſities with Egfrid, he payed him a ſum of money, as a compenſation for the loſs of his brother. After a proſperous reign of thirty years, he reſigned the crown to Kendred, ſon of Wolfhere, and retired into the monaſtry of Bardney*. Kendred returned the preſent of the crown to Ceolred, the ſon of Ethelred; and making a pilgrimage to Rome, paſſed his life there in pennance and devotion. The place of Ceolred was ſupplied by Ethelbald, great-grand nephew to Penda by Alwy, his brother; and this prince, being ſlain in a mutiny, was ſucceeded by Offa, who was a degree more remote from Penda, by Eawa, another brother.

THIS prince, who mounted the throne in 755, had ſome great qualities, and was ſucceſsful in his warlike enterprizes againſt Lothaire, King of Kent, and Kenwulph, King of Weſſex. He defeated the former in a bloody battle at Otford upon the Darent, and reduced his kingdom to a ſtate of dependance: He gained a victory over the latter at Benſington in Oxfordſhire; and conquering that county, together with that of Gloceſter, annexed it to his other dominions. But all theſe ſucceſſes were ſtained by his treacherous murder of Ethelbert, King of the Eaſt Angles, and his violent ſeizure of that kingdom. This young prince, who is ſaid to have poſſeſſed great merit, had made ſuit to Elfrida, the daughter of Offa, and was invited with all his retinue to Hereford, in order to ſolemnize the nuptials. Amidſt the joy and feſtivity of theſe entertainments, he was ſeized by Offa, and ſecretly beheaded: And tho' Elfrida, who abhorred her father's treachery, had time to give warning to the Eaſt-Anglian nobility, who eſcaped into their own country, Offa, having extinguiſhed the royal family, ſucceeded in his project of ſubduing that country§. The treacherous prince, deſirous of re-eſtabliſhing his character in the world, and perhaps of appeaſing the remorſes of his own conſcience, payed great court to the clergy, and practiſed all the Monkiſh devotions, which were ſo much eſteemed in that ignorant and ſuperſtitious age. He gave the tenth of all his goods to the church{inverted †}: Beſtowed rich donations on the cathedral of Hereford: And even made a pilgrimage to Rome, where his great power and riches could not fail of procuring him the papal abſolution. The better to ingratiate himſelf with the ſovereign pontiff, he engaged to pay him from his kingdom a yearly donation for the ſupport of an Engliſh college at Rome*, and [Page 35] in order to raiſe the ſum, he impoſed a tax of a penny on each houſe poſſeſſed of thirty pence a year. This impoſition, being afterwards levied from all England, was commonly denominated Peter's pence*; and tho' conferred at firſt as a gift, was afterwards pretended to be a tribute by the Roman pontiff. Carrying his hypocriſy ſtill farther, Offa, feigning to be directed by viſions from heaven, found out at Verulam, the relicts of St. Alban, the martyr, and endowed a magnificent monaſtry in that place. Moved by all theſe acts of piety, Malmeſbury, one of the beſt of the old Engliſh hiſtorians, declares himſelf at a loſs to determine whether the merits or crimes of this prince preponderated. Offa died, after a reign of thirty-nine years, in 794.

THIS prince was become ſo conſiderable in the Heptarchy, that the Emperor Charlemagne entered into an alliance and friendſhip with him; a circumſtance, which did him honour; as diſtant princes then had very little communication with each other. That emperor being a great lover of learning and learned men, in an age which was very barren of that ornament, Offa, at his deſire, ſent him over Alcuin, a clergyman, much celebrated for his knowledge, who received great honours from Charlemagne, and even became his preceptor in the ſciences. The chief reaſon, why he had at firſt deſired the company of Alcuin, was that he might oppoſe his learning to the hereſy of Felix, biſhop of Urgel in Catalonia; who maintained, that Jeſus Chriſt, conſidered in his human nature, could more properly be denominated the adoptive than the natural ſon of God§. This hereſy was condemned in the council of Francfort, held in 794, and conſiſting of 300 biſhops. Such were the queſtions which were agitated in that age, and which employed the attention, not only of cloyſtered ſcholars, but of the wiſeſt and greateſt princes{inverted †}.

EGFRITH ſucceeded to his father, Offa, but ſurvived him only five months*; when he made way for Kenulph, a deſcendant of the royal family. This prince waged war againſt Kent; and taking Egbert, the King, priſoner, he cut off his hands, and put out his eyes; leaving Cuthred, his own brother, in poſſeſſion of the crown of that kingdom. Kenulph was killed in an inſurrection of the Eaſt-Anglians, whoſe crown his predeceſſor, Offa, had uſurped. He left his ſon, Kenelm, a minor; who was murdered the ſame year by his ſiſter, Quendrade, who had entertained the ambitious views of aſſuming the government. But [Page 36] ſhe was ſupplanted by her uncle, Ceolulf; who two years after, was dethroned by Beornulf. The reign of this uſurper, who was not of the royal family, was ſhort and unfortunate: He was defeated by the Weſt-Saxons, and killed by his own ſubjects, the Eaſt-Angles*. Ludican, his ſucceſſor, underwent the ſame fate; and Wiglaff, who mounted this unſtable throne, and found every thing in the utmoſt confuſion, could not withſtand the fortune of Egbert, who united all the Saxon kingdom into one great monarchy.

1.10. The Kingdom of ESSEX.

THIS kingdom made no great figure in the Heptarchy; and the hiſtory of it is very imperfect. Sleda ſucceeded his father, Erkenwin, the founder of the monarchy; and made way for his ſon, Sebert, who, being nephew to Ethelbert, King of Kent, was perſwaded by that prince to embrace the chriſtian religion. His ſons and conjunct ſucceſſors, Sexted and Seward, relapſed into idolatry, and were ſoon after ſlain in a battle againſt the Weſt-Saxons. To ſhew the rude manner of living in that age; Bede tells us, that theſe two kings expreſſed a great deſire to eat the white bread, diſtributed by Mellitus, the biſhop, at the communion§. But on his refuſing them, unleſs they would ſubmit to be bapt zed, they expelled him their dominions. The other princes names, who reigned ſucceſſively in Eſſex, are Sigebert the little, Sigebert the good, who reſtored chriſtianity, Swithelm, Sigheri, Offa. This laſt prince, having made a vow of virginity, notwithſtanding his marriage with Keneſwitha, a Mercian princeſs, daughter to Penda, went in pilgrimage to Rome, and ſhut himſelf up during the reſt of his life in a cloyſter. Selred, his ſucceſſor, reigned thirty-eight years; and was the laſt of the royal line: The failure of which threw the kingdom into great confuſion, and reduced it to dependance under Mercia{inverted †}. Switherd firſt acquired the crown, and his death made way for Sigeric, who ended his life in a pilgrimage to Rome. His Succeſſor, Sigered, unable to defend his kingdom, ſubmitted to the victorious arms of Egbert.

1.11. The Kingdom of SUSSEX.

THE hiſtory of this kingdom, the ſmalleſt in the Heptarchy, is ſtill more imperfect than that of Eſſex. Aella, the founder of the monarchy, left [Page 37] the crown to his ſon, Ciſſa, who is remarkable chiefly for his long reign of ſeventy ſix years. During his time, the South-Saxons fell almoſt into a total dependance on the kingdom of Weſſex; and we ſcarce know the names of the kings, who were poſſeſſed of this titular ſovereignty. Adelwalch, the laſt of them, was ſubdued in battle by Ceadwalla, King of Weſſex, and was ſlain in the action; leaving two infant ſons, who, falling into the hand of the conqueror, were murdered by him. The abbot of Redford oppoſed the order for this barbarous execution; but could prevail on Ceadwalla only to ſuſpend it, till they ſhould be baptized. Bercthun and Audhun, two noblemen of character, oppoſed ſome time the dominion of the Weſt Saxons; but their reſiſtance ſerved only to prolong the miſeries of their country; and the ſubduing this kingdom, was the firſt ſtep, which the Weſt Saxons made towards acquiring the ſole monarchy of England*.

1.12. The Kingdom of WESSEX.

THE kingdom of Weſſex, which finally ſwallowed up all the other Saxon ſtates, met with great oppoſition on its firſt eſtabliſhment; and the Britains, who were now enured to arms, yielded not tamely their poſſeſſions to theſe invaders. Cerdic, the founder of the monarchy, and his ſon, Kenric, fought many ſucceſsful, and ſome unſucceſsful battles, againſt the natives; and the martial ſpirit, common to all the Saxons, was by means of theſe hoſtilities, carried to the greateſt height among this tribe. Ceaulin, the ſon and ſucceſſor of Kenric, who began his reign in 560, was even more ambitious and enterprizing than his predeceſſors; and by waging continual war againſt the Britains, he added a great part of the counties of Devon and Somerſet to his other dominions. Carried away by the tide of ſucceſs, he invaded the other Saxon ſtates in his neighbourhood, and becoming terrible to all, he provoked a general confederacy againſt him. This alliance proved ſucceſsful under the conduct of Ethelbert, King of Kent; and Ceaulin who had loſt the affections of his own ſubjects by his violent diſpoſition, and had now fallen into contempt from his misfortunes, was expelled the throne, and died in exile and miſery. Cuichelme and Cuthwin, his ſons, governed jointly the kingdom; till the expulſion of the latter in 591, and the death of the former in 593, made way for Cealric, to whom ſucceeded Ceobald in 593, by whoſe death, which happened in 611, Kynegils inherited the crown. This prince embraced chriſtianity, thro' the [Page 38] perſuaſion of Oſwald, King of Northumberland, who had married his daughter, and who had attained a great aſcendant in the heptarchy. Kenwalch next ſucceeded to the monarchy, and dying in 672, left the ſucceſſion ſo much diſputed, that Sexburga, his widow, a woman of great merit*, kept poſſeſſion of the government till her death, which happened two years after. Eſcwin then peaceably acquired the crown; and after a ſhort reign of two years, made way for Kentwin, who governed nine years. Ceodwalla, his ſucceſſor, mounted not the throne without oppoſition; but proved a great prince, according to the ideas of thoſe times; that is, he was enterprizing, warlike, and ſucceſsful. He ſubdued entirely the kingdom of Suſſex, and annexed it to his own dominions. He made deep impreſſions upon Kent; but met with reſiſtance from Widred, the King, who proved ſucceſsful againſt Mollo, brother to Ceodwalla, and ſlew him in a ſkirmiſh. Ceodwalla at laſt, tired with wars and bloodſhed, was ſeized with a fit of devotion; beſtowed ſeveral endowments on the church, and made a pilgrimage to Rome, where he received baptiſm, and died in 689. Ina, his ſucceſſor, inherited the military virtues of Ceodwalla, and added to them the more valuable ones of juſtice, policy, and prudence. He made war upon the Britains in Somerſet; and having finally ſubdued that province, he treated the vanquiſhed with an humanity, hitherto unknown to the Saxon conquerors. He allowed the proprietors to retain poſſeſſion of their lands§, encouraged marriages and alliances between them and his antient ſubjects{inverted †}, and gave them the privilege of being governed by the ſame laws. Theſe laws he augmented and aſcertained*; and though he was diſturbed by ſome inſurrections at home, his long reign of thirty-ſeven years may be regarded as one of the moſt glorious and moſt proſperous of the heptarchy. In the decline of his age, he made a pilgrimage to Rome; and on his return home, he ſhut himſelf up in a cloyſter, where he died.

THO' the Kings of Weſſex had always been princes of the blood, deſcended from Cerdic, the founder of the monarchy, the order of ſucceſſion had been far from exact; and a more remote prince had often found means to mount the throne, in preference to one deſcended from a nearer branch of the royal family. Ina, therefore, having no children of his own, and lying much under the influence [Page 39] of Ethelburga, his Queen, left by will the ſucceſſion to Adelard, her brother, who was his remote kinſman*: But this deſtination took not place without ſome difficulty. Oſwald, a prince more nearly allied to the crown, took arms againſt Adelard; but he being ſuppreſſed, and dying ſoon after, the title of Adelard was not any farther diſputed; and in the year 741, he was ſucceeded by his couſin, Cudred. The reign of this prince was diſtinguiſhed by a great victory, which he obtained, by the means of Edelhun, his general, over Ethelbald, King of Mercia. His death made way for Sigebert, his kinſman, who governed ſo ill, that his people roſe in an inſurrection, and dethroned him§, crowning Cenulph in his ſtead. The exiled prince found a refuge with duke Cumbran, governor of Hampſhire; who, that he might add to his other kindneſs towards Sigebert, gave him many falutary counſels for his future conduct, accompanied with ſome reprehenſions for the paſt. But theſe were ſo much reſented by the ungrateful prince, that he conſpired againſt the life of his protector, and treacherouſly murdered him. After this infamous action, he was forſaken by every body; and ſkulking about in the wilds and foreſts, was at laſt diſcovered by a ſervant of Cumbran, who inſtantly took revenge upon him for the death of his maſter{inverted †}.

CENULPH, who had obtained the crown on the expulſion of Sigebert, was fortunate in many expeditions againſt the Britains of Cornwal; but afterwards loſt ſome reputation by his ill ſucceſſes againſt Offa, King of Mercia*. Kynehard alſo, brother to the depoſed Sigebert, gave him diſturbance; and tho' expelled the kingdom, he hovered on the frontiers, and waited an opportunity of attacking his rival. The King had an intrigue with a young woman, who lived at Merton in Surrey; whither having ſecretly retired, he was on a ſudden environed, in the night-time, by Kynehard and his followers, and after making a vigorous reſiſtance, was murdered, with all his attendants. The people and nobility of the neighbourhood, riſing next day in arms, took revenge on Kynehard for the ſlaughter of their King, and put every one to the ſword, who had been engaged in that criminal enterprize. This event happened in 784.

BRITHRIC next obtained poſſeſſion of the government, tho' very remotely deſcended from the royal family; but enjoyed not that dignity without inquietude. Eoppa, nephew to King Ina, by his brother Ing ld, who died before that prince, [Page 40] Eata, father to Alchmond, from whom ſprung Egbert*, a young prince of the moſt promiſing hopes, who gave great jealouſy to Brithric, the preſent King, both becauſe he ſeemed by his birth better intitled to the crown, and becauſe he had acquired, to an eminent degree, the affections of the people. Egbert, ſenſible of his danger from the ſuſpicions of Brithric, withdrew ſecretly into France; where he was well received by Charlemagne, the preſent monarch. By living in the court, and ſerving in the armies of that prince, the moſt able and moſt generous who had appeared in Europe during ſeveral ages, he acquired thoſe accompliſhments, which afterwards enabled him to make ſuch a ſbining figure on the throne; and familiarizing himſelf to the manners of the French, who, as Malmeſbury obſerves, were eminent both for valour and civility, above all the weſtern nations, he learned to poliſh the rudeneſs and barbarity of the Saxon character: And his early misfortunes proved thus of infinite advantage to him.

IT was not long before Egbert had opportunities of diſplaying his natural and acquired talents. Brithric, King of Weſſex, had married Eadburga, natural daughter of Offa, King of Mercia, a profligate woman, equally infamous for cruelty and for incontinence. Having great influence over her huſband, ſhe often incited him to deſtroy ſuch of the nobility as were obnoxious to her; and where this expedient failed her, ſhe ſcrupled not being herſelf active in traiterous attempts upon their life. She had mixed a cup of poiſon for a young nobleman, who had acquired her huſband's friendſhip, and had on that account become the object of her jealouſy: But unfortunately, the King drank of the fatal cup along with his favourite, and ſoon after expired§. This event, joined to her other crimes, rendered Eadburga ſo odious, that ſhe was obliged to fly into France; whence Egbert was at the ſame time recalled by the nobility, in order to aſcend the throne of his anceſtors{inverted †}. He attained that dignity in the laſt year of the eighth century.

IN all the kingdoms of the heptarchy, an exact rule of ſucceſſion was either unknown or not ſtrictly obſerved; and thence the reigning prince was continually agitated with jealouſy againſt all the princes of the blood, whom he ſtill conſidered as rivals, and whoſe death alone could give him entire ſecurity in his poſſeſſion of the throne. From this fatal cauſe, together with the admiration of the monaſtic life, and the opinion of merit, attending the preſervation of chaſtity [Page 41] even in a married ſtate, the royal families had been entirely extinguiſhed in all the kingdoms except that of Weſſex; and the emulations, ſuſpicions, and conſpiracies, which had formerly been confined to the princes of the blood alone, were now diffuſed among all the nobility in the ſeveral Saxon ſtates. Egbert was the ſole deſcendant of thoſe firſt conquerors who ſubdued Britain, and who enhanced their authority by claiming a pedigree from Woden, the ſupreme divinity of their anceſtors. But that prince, tho' invited by this favourable circumſtance to make attempts on the neighbouring Saxons, gave them for ſome time no diſturbance, and rather choſe to turn his arms againſt the Britains in Cornwal, whom he defeated in ſeveral battles*. He was recalled from the conqueſt of that country by an inroad made into his dominions by Bernulf, King of Mercia.

THE Mercians, before the acceſſion of Egbert, had very nearly attained the abſolute ſovereignty over the heptarchy: They had reduced the Eaſt-Angles under ſubjection, and eſtabliſhed tributary princes in the kingdoms of Kent and Eſſex. Northumberland was involved in anarchy; and no ſtate of any conſequence remained but that of Weſſex, which, much inferior in extent to Mercia, was ſupported alone by the great qualities of its ſovereign. Egbert led his army againſt the invaders; and encountering them at Ellandun in Wiltſhire, obtained a compleat victory, and by the ſlaughter committed on them in their flight, gave a mortal blow to the power of the Mercians, Whilſt he himſelf, in proſecution of his victory, entered their country on the ſide of Oxfordſhire, and threatened the heart of their dominions; he ſent an army into Kent, commanded by Ethelwolph, his eldeſt ſon; and expelling Baldred, the tributary King, ſoon made himſelf maſter of that country. The kingdom of Eſſex was conquered with equal facility; and the Eaſt-Angles, from their hatred to the Mercian government, which had been eſtabliſhed over them by treachery and violence, and probably exerciſed with tyranny, immediately roſe in arms, and craved the protection of Egbert. Bernulf, the Mercian King, who marched againſt them, was defeated and ſlain; and two years after, Ludecan, his ſucceſſor, met with the ſame fate. Theſe inſurrections and calamities facilitated the enterprizes of Egbert, who advanced into the heart of the Mercian territories, and made eaſy conqueſts over a diſheartened and divided people. In order to engage them more eaſily to ſubmiſſion, he allowed Wiglef, their countryman, to retain the title of King, whilſt he himſelf exerciſed the real powers of ſovereignty. The anarchy, which prevailed in Northumberland, tempted him to carry ſtill [Page 42] farther his victorious arms; and the inhabitants, unable to reſiſt his power, and deſirous of poſſeſſing ſome eſtabliſhed form of government, were forward, on his firſt appearance, to ſend deputies, who ſubmitted to his authority, and expreſſed their allegiance to him as their ſovereign. Egbert, however, ſtill allowed to Northumberland, as he had done to Mercia and Eaſt-Anglia, the power of electing a King, who paid him tribute, and was dependant on him.

THUS were united all the kingdoms of the heptarchy in one great ſtate, near four hundred years after the firſt arrival of the Saxons in Britain; and the fortunate arms and prudent policy of Egbert at laſt effectuated what had been ſo often attempted in vain by ſo many princes*. Kent, Northumberland, and Mercia, which had ſucceſſively aſpired to general dominion, were now incorporated in his empire; and the other ſubordinate kingdoms ſeemed willingly to ſhare the ſame fate. His territories were nearly of the ſame extent with what is now properly denominated England; and a favourable proſpect was afforded the Anglo-Saxons, of eſtabliſhing a civilized monarchy, poſſeſſed of tranquillity within itſelf, and ſecure againſt foreign invaſion. This great event happened in the year 827.

THE Saxons, tho' they had been ſo long ſettled in the iſland, ſeem not as yet to have been much improved beyond their German anceſtors, either in arts, civility, knowledge, humanity, juſtice, or obedience to the laws. Even Chriſtianity, tho', among other advantages, it opened the way to connexions between them and the more poliſhed ſtates of Europe, had not hitherto been very effectual, in baniſhing their ignorance, or ſoftening their barbarous manners. As they received that doctrine thro' the corrupted channels of Rome, which had ſtrongly tinctured the original purity of the Chriſtian faith, it carried along with it a great mixture of credulity and ſuperſtition, equally deſtructive to the underſtanding and to morals. The reverence towards ſaints and reliques ſeems to have almoſt ſupplanted the adoration of the ſupreme Being: Monaſtic obſervances were eſteemed more meritorious than the active virtues: The knowledge of natural cauſes was neglected from the univerſal belief of miraculous interpoſitions and judgments: Bounty to the church atoned for all violences againſt ſociety: And the remorſes for cruelty, murder, treachery, aſſaſſination, and the more robuſt vices, were appeaſed, not by amendment of life, but by penances, ſervility to the monks, and an abject and illiberal devotion. The reverence for the clergy had mounted [Page 43] ſo high, that wherever a perſon appeared in a ſacerdotal habit, tho' on the high way, the people flocked around him; and ſhowing him all marks of profound reſpect, received every word he uttered as the moſt ſacred oracles*. Even the military virtues, ſo inherent in all the Saxon tribes, began to be neglected; and the nobility, preferring the ſecurity and ſloth of the cloyſter to the tumults and glory of war, valued themſelves chiefly on the endowment of monaſteries, of which they aſſumed the government. The crown too, being extremely impoveriſhed by continual benefactions to the church, to which the ſtates of the kingdom weakly conſented, could beſtow no rewards on valour or military ſervices, and retained not even ſufficient influence to ſupport the government.

ANOTHER inconvenience, which attended this corrupt ſpecies of Chriſtianity, was the ſuperſtitious attachment to Rome, and the gradual ſubjection of the kingdom to a foreign juriſdiction. The Britains had never acknowledged any ſubordination to the Roman pontiff, and had conducted all eccleſiaſtical government by their domeſtic ſynods and councils: But the Saxons, receiving their religion from Roman monks, were taught at the ſame time a profound reverence to that ſee, and were naturally led to regard it as the capital of their religion. Pilgrimages to Rome were repreſented as the moſt meritorious acts of devotion. Not only noblemen and ladies of rank undertook this tedious journey§; but Kings themſelves, abdicating their crowns, ſought for a ſecure paſſport to heaven at the feet of the Roman pontiff. New reliques, continually ſent from that endleſs mint of ſuperſtition, and magnified by the lying miracles, invented in convents, operated on the aſtoniſhed minds of the multitude: And every prince attained the eulogies of the monks, the only hiſtorians of thoſe ages, not in proportion to his civil and military virtues, but to his devoted attachment towards their order, and his ſuperſtitious reverence for Rome.

THE ſovereign pontiff, encouraged by this blindneſs and ſubmiſſive diſpoſition of the people, advanced every day in his enterprizes on the independance of the Engliſh churches. Wilfrid, biſhop of Lindisferne, the ſole prelate of the Northumbrian kingdom, gave the finiſhing ſtroke to this ſubjection in the eighth century, by his making an appeal to Rome againſt the deciſions of an Engliſh ſynod, [Page 44] which had abridged his dioceſe by the erection of ſome new biſhoprics*. Agatho, the Pope, readily embraced this precedent of an appeal to his court; and Wilfrid, though the haughtieſt and moſt luxurious prelate of his age, having obtained with the people the character of ſanctity, finally prevailed in the conteſt. The great topic, by which he confounded the imaginations of men, was, that St. Peter, to whoſe cuſtody the keys of heaven were entruſted, would certainly refuſe admittance to every one who had been wanting in reſpect to his ſucceſſor. This conceit, well calculated for vulgar conceptions, had a powerful operation on the people during ſeveral ages; and has not even at preſent loſt all influence in the catholic countries.

HAD this abject ſuperſtition produced general peace and tranquillity, it had made ſome atonement for the ills attending it; but, added to the uſual avidity of men for power and riches, it engendered frivolous controverſies in theology, which were ſo much the more fatal, as they admitted not, like the others, of any final determination from eſtabliſhed poſſeſſion. The diſputes, excited in Britain, were of the moſt ridiculous kind, and entirely worthy of thoſe ignorant and barbarous ages. There were ſome intricacies, obſerved by all the Chriſtian churches, in adjuſting the day of keeping Eaſter; which depended on a complicated conſideration of the courſe of the ſun and moon: And it happened that the miſſionaries, who had converted the Scots and Britains, had followed a different calendar from what was obſerved at Rome in the age when Auguſtine converted the Saxons. The prieſts alſo of all the Chriſtian churches were accuſtomed to ſhave part of their head; but the form given to this tonſure, was different in the former from what was practiſed in the latter. The Scots and Britains pleaded the antiquity of their uſages: The Romans, and their diſciples, the Saxons, inſiſted on the univerſality of theirs. That Eaſter muſt neceſſarily be kept by a rule, which comprehended both the day of the year, and age of the moon, was agreed by all: That the ſhaving of a prieſt could not be omitted without the utmoſt impiety, was a point undiſputed: But the Romans and Saxons called their antagoniſts ſchiſmatics; becauſe they celebrated Eaſter on the very day of the full moon in March, if that day fell on a Sunday, inſtead of waiting till the Sunday following; and becauſe they ſhaved their whole forehead from ear to ear, inſtead of making that tonſure on the crown of the head, and in a circular form. In order to render their antagoniſts odious, they affirmed, that once in ſeven years they concurred with the Jews in the time of celebrating that feſtival: And that [Page 45] they might recommend their own form of tonſure, they maintained, that it imitated ſymbolically the crown of thorns worn by our Saviour in his paſſion; whereas the latter was invented by Simon Magus, without any regard to that conſideration*. Theſe controverſies had from the beginning excited ſuch animoſity between the Britiſh and Romiſh prieſts, that, inſtead of concurring in their endeavours to convert the idolatrous Saxons, they refuſed all communion together, and each regarded his opponent as no better than a Pagan. The diſpute laſted more than a century; and was at laſt finiſhed, not by men's perceiving the folly of it, which would have been too great an effort for human reaſon to accompliſh, but by the entire victory of the Romiſh ritual over the Scots and Britiſh. Wilfrid, biſhop of Lindisferne, acquired great merit, both with the court of Rome and with all the ſouthern Saxons, by expelling the quartodeciman ſchiſm, as it was called, from the Northumbrian kingdom, into which the neighbourhood of the Scots had formerly introduced it.

THEODORE, archbiſhop of Canterbury, called, in the year 680, a ſynod at Hatfield, conſiſting of all the biſhops in Britain§; where was accepted and ratified the decree of the Lateran council, ſummoned by Martin the firſt againſt the hereſy of the Monothelites. The council and ſynod maintained, in oppoſition to theſe heretics, that tho' the divine and the human nature in Chriſt made but one perſon; yet had they ſtill different inclinations, wills, acts, and ſentiments, and that the unity of the perſon implied not any unity in the conſciouſneſs{inverted †}. This opinion it ſeems ſomewhat difficult to comprehend; and no one, unacquainted with the eccleſiaſtical hiſtory of thoſe ages, could imagine the height of zeal and violence with which it was then inculcated. The decree of the Lateran council calls the Monothelites impious, execrable, wicked, abominable, and even diabolical; and curſes and anathematizes them to all eternity*.

THE Saxons, from the firſt introduction of Chriſtianity among them, had admitted the uſe of images; and perhaps, Chriſtianity, without ſome of thoſe exterior ornaments, had not made ſo quick a progreſs with theſe idolaters: But they had not paid any ſpecies of worſhip or addreſs to images; and this abuſe never prevailed among Chriſtians, till it received the ſanction of the ſecond council of Nice. At that time, the practice was recommended to Offa by Charlemagne; tho' it ſeems not at firſt to have been received without oppoſition by the church of England.


[Page 46]

Egbert—Ethelwolph—Ethelbald and Ethelbert—Ethered—Aifred the Great—Edward the elder—Athelſtan—Edmund—Edred—Eduy—Edgar—Edward the Martyr.

2.1. EGBERT.

year THE kingdoms of the Heptarchy, tho' united by ſo recent a conqueſt, ſeemed to be ſtrongly cemented into one ſtate under Egbert; and the inhabitants of the ſeveral provinces had loſt all deſire of revolting from that conqueror, or of reſtoring their independent governments. Their language was every where nearly the ſame; their cuſtoms, laws, inſtitutions civil and religious; and as the race of their antient kings was totally extinct in all their ſubjected ſtates, the people readily transferred their allegiance to a prince, who ſeemed to merit it, by the ſplendor of his victories, the vigor of his adminiſtration, and the ſuperior nobility of his birth. An union alſo in government opened to them the agreeable proſpect of future tranquillity; and it appeared more probable, that they would thenceforth become terrible to their neighbours, than be expoſed to their inroads and devaſtations. But theſe flattering views were ſoon overcaſt by the appearance of the Danes, who, during ſome centuries, kept the Anglo-Saxons in perpetual inquietude, committed the moſt barbarous ravages upon them, and at laſt reduced them to the moſt grievous ſervitude.

THE emperor Charlemagne, tho' naturally generous and humane, had been induced by bigotry to exerciſe great ſeverities againſt the pagan Saxons in Germany, whom he ſubdued; and beſides often ravaging their country by fire and ſword, he had in cold blood decimated all the inhabitants for their revolts, and had obliged them, by the moſt rigorous edicts, to make a ſeeming compliance with the chriſtian doctrine. That religion, which had eaſily made its way among the Britiſh-Saxons by inſinuation and addreſs, appeared ſhocking to their German brethren, when impoſed on them by the violence of Charlemagne; and the moſt generous and warlike of theſe pagans had fled northward into Jutland, in order to eſcape the fury of his perſecutions. Meeting there with a people of ſimilar manners, they were readily received among them; and they ſoon ſtimulated [Page 47] the natives to concur in enterprizes, which both promiſed revenge on the haughty conquerors, and afforded ſubſiſtence to thoſe numerous inhabitants, with which the northern countries were now overburthened*. They invaded the provinces of France, which were expoſed by the degeneracy and diſſenſions of Charlemagne's poſterity; and being known there under the general name of Normans, which they received from their northern ſituation, they became the terror of all the maritime and even of the inland countries. They were alſo tempted to viſit England in their frequent excurſions; and being able by ſudden inroads to make great progreſs over a people, who were not defended by any naval force, who had relaxed their military inſtitutions, and who were ſunk into a ſuperſtition, which had become odious to the Danes and antient Saxons, they made no diſtinction in their hoſtilities between the French and Engliſh kingdoms. Their firſt appearance in this iſland was in the year 787, when Brithric reigned in Weſſex. A ſmall body of them landed in that kingdom, with a view of learning the ſtate of the country; and when the magiſtrate of the place queſtioned them concerning the reaſon of their enterprize, and cited them to appear before the king, and account for their intentions, they killed him, and flying to their ſhips, eſcaped into their own country. The next alarm was given to Northumberland in the year 794; when a body of theſe pyrates pillaged a monaſtery; but their ſhips being much damaged by a ſtorm, and their leader ſlain in a ſkirmiſh, they were at laſt defeated by the inhabitants, and the remainder of them put to the ſword. year 832 Five years after Egbert had eſtabliſhed his monarchy over England, the Danes landed in the Iſle of Shepey, and having pillaged it, eſcaped with impunity. They were not ſo fortunate in their next year's enterprize, when they diſembarked from thirty-five ſhips, and were encountered by Egbert, at Charmouth in Dorſetſhire. The battle was bloody; but tho' the Danes loſt great numbers, they maintained the poſt, which they had taken, and made good their retreat to their ſhips§. Having learned by experience, that they muſt expect a vigorous reſiſtance from this warlike prince, they entered into an alliance with the Britains of Cornwal; and landing two years after in that country, made an inroad with their confederates into the county of Devon; but were met at Hengeſdown by Egbert, and totally defeated{inverted †}. While England remained in this ſtate of inquietude, and defended itſelf more by temporary expedients than by any regular plan of adminiſtration, Egbert, who alone was capable of providing effectually againſt this new evil, unfortunately died; year 838 and left the government to his ſon, Ethelwolf.


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year THIS prince had neither the abilities nor vigour of his father; and was better qualified for governing a convent than a kingdom*. He began his reign with dividing his dominions, and delivering over to his eldeſt ſon, Athelſtan, the new conquered provinces of Eſſex, Kent and Suſſex. But no inconveniencies ſeem to have ariſen from this partition; as the continual terror of the Daniſh invaſions prevented all domeſtic diſſenſion. A fleet of theſe ravagers, conſiſting of thirty-three ſail, appeared at Southampton; but were repulſed with great loſs by Wolfhere, governor of the neighbouring county. The ſame year, Aethelhelm, aſſiſted by the inhabitants of Dorſetſhire, routed another band which had diſembarked at Portſmouth; but he obtained the victory after a furious engagement, and he bought it with the loſs of his life. Next year, the Danes made ſeveral inroads into England; and fought battles, or rather ſkirmiſhes, in Eaſt-Anglia and Lindeſey and Kent inverted † ; where, tho' they were ſometimes repulſed and defeated, they always obtained their end of committing ſpoil upon the country, and carrying off their booty. They avoided coming to a general engagement, which was not ſuited to their plan of operations. Their veſſels were ſmall, and ran eaſily up the creeks and rivers; where they drew them aſhore, and having formed an entrenchment around them, which they guarded with part of their number, they ſcattered themſelves every where, and carrying off the inhabitants, and cattle, and goods, they haſtened to their ſhips, and ſuddenly diſappeared. If the military force of the county was aſſembled (for there was no time for troops to march from a diſtance) the Danes either were able to repulſe them and to continue their ravages with impunity, or they betook themſelves to their veſſels; and ſetting ſail, invaded ſuddenly ſome diſtant quarter, which was not prepared for their reception. Every part of England was held in continual alarm; and the inhabitants of one county dared not to give aſſiſtance to thoſe of another, leſt their own family and property ſhould in the mean time be expoſed by their abſence to the fury of theſe barbarous ravagers§. All orders of men were involved in this ruin; and the prieſts and monks, who had been commonly ſpared in the domeſtic quarrels of the Heptarchy, were the chief objects on which the Daniſh idolaters exerciſed their rage and animoſity{inverted †}. Every ſeaſon of the year was dangerous; and no man could eſteem himſelf a moment in ſafety, becauſe of the preſent abſence of the enemy.

[Page 49] year 851 THESE incurſions had now become almoſt annual; when the Danes, encouraged by their ſucceſſes againſt France as well as England (for both kingdoms were alike expoſed to this dreadful calamity) invaded the laſt in ſo numerous a body, as ſeemed to threaten it with univerſal ſubjection. But the Engliſh, more military than the Britains, whom, a few centuries before, they had treated with like violence, rouzed themſelves with a vigour proportioned to the exigency. Ceorle, governor of Devonſhire, fought a battle with one body of the Danes at Wiganburgh*, and put them to rout with great ſlaughter. King Athelſtan attacked another at ſea near Sandwich, ſunk nine of their ſhips, and put the reſt to flight. A body of them, however, ventured, for the firſt time, to take up winter quarters in England; and receiving in the ſpring a ſtrong reinforcement of their countrymen in 350 veſſels, they advanced from the Iſle of Thanet, where they had ſtationed themſelves; burnt the cities of London and Canterbury; and having put to flight Brichtric, who now governed Mercia, under the title of King, they marched into the heart of Surrey, and laid every place waſte around them. Ethelwolf, excited by the urgency of the danger, marched againſt them, at the head of the Weſt-Saxons; and carrying with him his ſecond ſon, Ethelbald, gave them battle at Okeley, and gained a very bloody victory over them§. This advantage procured but a ſhort reſpite to the Engliſh The Danes ſtill maintained their ſettlement in the Iſle of Thanet; and being attacked by Ealher and Huda, governors of Kent and Surrey, tho' defeated in the beginning of the action, they finally repulſed the aſſailants, and killed both the governors{inverted †}. year 853 They removed thence to the Iſle of Shepey; where they took up their winter quarters, that they might extend farther their devaſtation and ravages.

year THIS unſettled ſtate of England hindered not Ethelwolf from making a pilgrimage to Rome; whither he carried his fourth, and favourite ſon, Alfred, then only ſix years of age*. He paſſed there a twelvemonth in exerciſes of devotion; and failed not in that moſt eſſential part of devotion, liberality to the church of Rome. Beſides giving preſents to the moſt diſtinguiſhed eccleſiaſtics; he made a perpetual grant of three hundred mancuſes a year to that ſee; one third to ſupport the Lamps of St. Peters, another thoſe of St. Pauls, and a third to the [Page 50] pope himſelf*. In his return home, he married Judith, daughter to the emperor, Charles the Bald; but on his landing in England, he met with an oppoſition, which he little looked for.

His eldeſt ſon, Athelſtan, being dead; Ethelbald, the ſecond, who had aſſamed the government, formed, in conjunction with many of the nobles, the project of excluding his father from a throne, which his weakneſs and ſuperſtition ſeem to have rendered him ſo ill qualified to fill. The people were divided between the two princes; and a bloody civil war, joined to all the other calamities, under which the Engliſh laboured, appeared unavoidable; when Ethelwolf had the facility to yield to the greateſt part of his ſon's pretenſions. He made with him a partition of the kingdom; and taking to himſelf the eaſtern part, which was always at that time eſteemed the leaſt conſiderable, as well as the moſt expoſed§, he delivered over to Ethelbald the ſovereignty of the weſtern. And immediately after, he ſummoned the ſtates of the whole kingdom, and with the ſame facility, conferred a perpetual and very important donation on the church.

THE eccleſiaſtics, in thoſe days of ignorance, made very rapid advances in the acquiſition of power and grandeur; and inculcating the moſt abſurd and moſt intereſted doctrines, tho' they met ſometimes, from the contrary intereſts of the laity, with an oppoſition, which it required time and addreſs to overcome, they found no obſtacle in their reaſon or underſtanding. Not content with the donations of land made them by the Saxon princes and nobles, and with the temporary oblations from the devotion of the people, they had caſt a wiſhful eye on a vaſt revenue, which they claimed as belonging to them by a divine, indefeizable and inherent title. However little verſed in the ſcriptures, they had been able to diſcover, that the prieſts, under the Jewiſh law, poſſeſſed a tenth of all the produce of land; and forgeting, what they themſelves taught, that the moral part only of that law was obligatory on chriſtians, they inſiſted, that this donation was a perpetual property, conferred by heaven on thoſe who officiated at the altar. During ſome centuries, the whole ſcope of ſermons and homilies was directed to this purpoſe; and one would have imagined, from the general tenor of theſe diſcourſes, that all the practical parts of chriſtianity were comprehended in the exact and faithful payment of tythes to the clergy{inverted †}. Encouraged by their [Page 51] ſucceſs in inculcating theſe doctrines; they ventured farther than they were warranted even by the Levitical law, and pretended to draw the tenth of all induſtry, merchandize, wages of labourers, and pay of ſoldiers*; nay, ſome canoniſts went ſo far as to affirm, that the clergy were entitled to the tythe of the profits, made by courtezans in the exerciſe of their profeſſion. Tho' pariſhes had been inſtituted in England by Honorius, archbiſhop of Canterbury, near two centuries before, the eccleſiaſtics had never yet been able to get poſſeſſion of the tythes; and they therefore ſeized the preſent favourable opportunity of making that acquiſition; when a weak, ſuperſtitious prince was on the throne, and when the people, diſcouraged by their loſſes from the Danes, and terrified with the fear of future invaſions, were ſuſceptible of any impreſſion, which bore the appearance of religion. So meritorious was this conceſſion deemed by the Engliſh, that, truſting entirely to ſupernatural aſſiſtances, they neglected the ordinary means of ſafety; and agreed, even in the preſent deſperate extremity, that the revenue of the church ſhould be exempted from all burthens, tho' impoſed for national defence and ſecurity.


year 857 ETHELWOLF lived only two years after making this grant§; and by his will left England ſhared between his two eldeſt ſons, Ethelbald and Ethelbert; the weſt lying under the government of the former; the eaſt under that of the latter{inverted †}. Ethelbald was a profligate prince; and marrying Judith, his mother-in-law, gave great offence to the people*; but moved by the remonſtrances of Swithun, biſhop of Wincheſter, he was at laſt prevailed on to divorce her. year 860 His reign was ſho t; and Ethelbert, his brother, ſucceeding to the government, behaved himſelf, during a five years reign, in a manner more worthy of his birth and ſtation. The kingdom, however, was ſtill infeſted by the Danes, who made an inroad and ſacked Wincheſter; but were there defeated. A body alſo, of theſe pirates, who were quartered on the Iſle of Thanet, having deceived the Engliſh by a treaty, unexpectedly broke into Kent, and committed great outrages.


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year THIS prince was ſucceeded by his brother, Ethered, who, tho' he defended himſelf with bravery, enjoyed, during his whole reign, no tranquillity from theſe Daniſh irruptions. His younger brother, Alfred, ſeconded him in all his enterprizes; and generouſly ſacrificed to the publick good all reſentment, which he might entertain, on account of his being excluded by Ethered from a large patrimony, which had been left him by his father.

THE firſt landing of the Danes in the reign of Ethered was among the Eaſt-Angles, who, more anxious for their preſent intereſt than for the common ſafety, entered into a ſeparate treaty with the enemy; and furniſhed them with horſes, which enabled them to make an irruption by land into the kingdom of Northumberland*. They there ſeized the city of York; and defended it againſt Oſbricht, and Aella, two Northumbrian princes, who periſhed in the aſſault. Encouraged by theſe ſucceſſes, and by the ſuperiority, which they had acquired in arms, they now ventured, under the command of Hinguar and Hubba, their chieſtains, to leave the ſea-coaſt, and penetrating into Mercia, they took up their winter quarters at Nottingham, where they threatened the kingdom with a final ſubjection. The Mercians applied to Ethered for ſuccour in this extremity; and that prince with his brother, Alfred, conducting a great army to Nottingham, obliged the enemy to diſlodge from this poſt, and to retreat into Northumberland. year 870 Their reſtleſs diſpoſition and their avidity for plunder allowed them not to remain long in theſe quarters: They broke into Eaſt-Anglia, defeated and took priſoner, Edmund, the King of that country, whom they afterwards cruelly murdered in cold blood; and committing the moſt barbarous ravages on the people, particularly on the monaſteries§, they gave the Eaſt-Angles great cauſe to repent of the temporary relief, which they had obtained, by aſſiſting the common enemy.

year 871 THE next ſtation of the Danes was at Reading; whence they infeſted the neighbouring country by their incurſions{inverted †}. The Mercians, deſirous of ſhaking off their dependence on Ethered*, refuſed to join him with their forces; and that prince, attended by Alfred, was obliged to march againſt the enemy, with [Page 53] the Weſt-Saxons alone, his hereditary ſubjects. The Danes being defeated in an action, ſhut themſelves up in their garriſon; but quickly making thence an irruption, they routed the Weſt-Saxons, and raiſed the ſiege. An action ſoon after enſued at Aſton*, in Berkſhire, where the Engliſh, in the beginning of the day, were in great danger of a total defeat. Alfred, advancing with one diviſion of the army, was ſurrounded by the enemy in diſadvantageous ground; and Ethered, who was at that time hearing maſs, refuſed to march to his aſſiſtance, till the prayers ſhould be finiſhed: But as he afterwards obtained the victory, this ſucceſs, not the danger of Alfred, was aſcribed by the monks to the piety of that monarch. This battle of Aſton did not terminate the war: Another battle was a little after fought at Baſing; where the Danes were more ſucceſsful; and being reinforced by a new army from their own country, they became every day more terrible to the Engliſh. Amidſt theſe confuſions, Ethered died of a wound, which he had received in an action with the Danes; and left the inheritance of his cares and misfortunes, rather than of his grandeur, to his brother, Alfred, who was now twenty-two years of age.

2.5. ALFRED.

year 871 THIS prince gave very early prognoſtics of thoſe great virtues and ſhining talents, by which, during the moſt difficult times, he ſaved his country from utter ruin and ſubverſion. Ethelwolf, his father, the year after his return with Alfred from Rome, had again ſent the young prince thither with a numerous retinue; and a report being ſpread of the king's death, the pope, Leo III. gave Alfred the royal unction§; whether prognoſticating his future greatneſs from the appearances of his pregnant genius, or willing to pretend, even in that age, to the right of conferring kingdoms. Alfred, on his return home, became every day more the object of his father's moſt tender affections; but being indulged in all youthful pleaſures, he was much neglected in his education; and he had already reached his twelfth year, when he was yet totally ignorant of the loweſt elements of literature. His genius was firſt rouzed by the recital of Saxon poems, in which the Queen took delight; and this ſpecies of erudition, which [Page 54] is able to make a conſiderable progreſs even amongſt barbarians, expanded thoſe noble and elevated ſentiments, which he had received from nature*. Encouraged by the Queen, and ſtimulated by his own ardent inclination, he ſoon learned to read theſe compoſitions; and proceeded thence to the knowledge of the Latin tongue, where he met with authors, that better prompted his heroic ſpirit, and directed his generous views. Abſorbed in theſe elegant purſuits, his acceſſion to royalty was to him rather an object of regret than of triumph; but being called to the throne, in preference to his brother's children, as well by the will of his father, a circumſtance which had great authority with the Anglo-Saxons, as by the vows of the whole nation and the urgency of public affairs, he ſhook off his literary indolence, and exerted himſelf in the defence of his people. He had ſcarce buried his brother, when he was obliged to take the field, in order to oppoſe the Danes, who had ſeized Wilton, and were exerciſing their uſual ravages on the countries around. He marched againſt them with the few troops, which he could aſſemble on a ſudden; and giving them battle, gained at firſt an advantage, but by his purſuing the victory too far, the ſuperiority of the enemy's numbers prevailed, and recovered them the day§. Their loſs, however, in the action was ſo conſiderable, that, fearing Alfred would receive daily reinforcements from his ſubjects, they were contented to ſtipulate for a ſafe retreat, and promiſed to depart the kingdom. For that purpoſe, they were conducted to London, and allowed to take up their winter quarters there; but careleſs of their engagements, they immediately ſet themſelves to the committing ſpoil on the neighbouring country. Burrhed, King of Mercia, in whoſe territories London was ſituated, made a new ſtipulation with them{inverted †}, and engaged them, by preſents of money, to remove to Lindeſey in Lincolnſhire; a country, which they had already reduced to ruin and deſolation. Finding therefore no object in that place, either for their rapine or violence, they ſuddenly turned back upon Mercia, in a quarter where they expected to find it without defence; and fixing their ſtation at Repton in Derbyſhire*, they laid the whole country deſolate, with fire and ſword. Burrhed, unable to withſtand an enemy, whom no force could reſiſt, and no treaties bind, abandoned his kingdom, and flying to Rome, took ſhelter in a cloyſter. He was brother-in law to Alfred, and the laſt who bore the title of king in Mercia.

[Page 55] THE Weſt-Saxons were now the only remaining power in England; and tho' ſupported by the vigour and abilities of Alfred, they were unable to ſuſtain the efforts of thoſe ravagers, who from all quarters invaded them. year 875 A new ſwarm of Danes came over this year under three princes, Guthrum, Oſcitel, and Amund*; and having firſt joined their countrymen at Repton, they ſoon found the neceſſity of ſeparating, in order to provide for their ſubſiſtance. Part of them, under the command of Haldene, their chieftain, marched into Northumberland, where they fixed their reſidence; part of them took quarters at Cambridge, from whence they diſlodged in the enſuing ſummer, and ſeized Wereham, in the county of Dorſet, the very center of Alfred's dominions§. That prince ſo ſtraitened them in theſe quarters, that they were content to come to a treaty with him, and ſtipulated to depart his country{inverted †}. Alfred, well acquainted with their uſual perfidy, obliged them to ſwear upon the holy reliques to the obſervance of the treaty*; not that he expected they would pay any veneration to the reliques; but he hoped, that, if they now violated this oath, their impiety would infallibly draw down upon them the vengeance of heaven. But the Danes, little apprehenſive of this danger, ſuddenly, without ſeeking for any pretext, fell upon Alfred's army; and having put it to rout, marched weſtward, and took poſſeſſion of Exeter. The prince again collected new forces; and exerted ſuch vigour, that he fought in one year eight battles againſt the enemy, and reduced them to the utmoſt extremity. He hearkened however to new propoſals of peace; and was ſatisfied to ſtipulate with them, that they would ſettle ſomewhere in England, and would not permit the entrance of more ravagers into the kingdom. But while he was expecting the execution of this treaty, which it ſeemed the intereſt of the Danes themſelves to fulfil, he heard that another body had landed, and having collected all the ſcattered troops of their countrymen, had ſurpriſed Chippenham, then a conſiderable town, and were exerciſing their uſual ravages all around them§.

THIS laſt incident quite broke the ſpirit of the Saxons, and reduced them to deſpair. Finding that, after all the miſerable havock, which they had undergone in their perſons and in their property; after all the vigorous actions, which they had exerted in their own defence; a new band, equally greedy of ſpoil and ſlaughter, had diſembarked among them; they believed themſelves abandoned [Page 56] by heaven to deſtruction, and delivered over to thoſe ſwarms of robbers, which the fertile north thus inceſſantly poured forth againſt them. Some leſt their country, and retired into Wales or ſled beyond ſea: Others ſubmitted to the conquerors, in hopes of appeaſing their ſury by a ſervile obedience*: And every man's attention being now engroſſ [...]d in concern for his own pre [...]vation, no one would hearken to the exhortations of the King, who ſummon [...]d them to make, under his conduct, one effort more in defence of their prince, [...]eir country, and their liberties. Alfred himſelf was obliged to relinquiſh the e [...]ſigns of his dignity, to diſmiſs his ſervants, and to ſeek ſhelter, in the meaneſt diſguiſes, from the purſuit and fury of his enemies. He concealed himſelf under a peaſant's habit, and lived ſome time in the houſe of a neat-nerd, who had been entruſted with the care of ſome of his cows. There paſſed here an incident, which has been recorded by all the hiſtorians, and was long preſerved by popular tradition; tho' it contains nothing memorable in itſell, except ſo far as every circumſtance is intereſting, which attends ſo great virtue and dignity, reduced to ſuch diſtreſs. The wife of the neat-herd was ignorant of the condition of her royal gueſt; and obſerving him one day buſy by the fire-ſide in trimming his bow and arrows, ſhe deſired him to take care of ſome cakes, which were toaſting, while ſhe was employed elſewhere in other domeſtic affairs. But Alfred, whoſe thoughts were otherwiſe engaged, neglected this injunction; and the good woman, on her return, finding her cakes all burnt, rated the King very ſeverely; and upbraided him, that he always ſeemed very well pleaſed to eat her warm cakes, tho' he was thus negligent in toaſting them.

By degrees, Alfred, as he found the ſearch of the enemy become more remiſs, collected ſome of his retainers, and retired into the center of a bog, formed by the ſtagnating waters of the Thone and Parret, in Somerſetſhire. He here found two acres of firm ground; and building a habitation on them, rendered himſelf ſec [...]re by its fortifications, and ſtill more by the unknown and inacceſſible roads which led to it, and by the foreſts and moraſſes, with which it was every way environe [...]. This place he called Aethelingey, or the Iſle of Nobles; and is now bears the name of Athelney. He thence made frequent and unexpected ſallies upon the Danes, who often felt the vigour of his arm, but knew not from what quarter the blow came. He ſubſiſted himſelf and his followers by the plunder which he acquired; he procured them conſolation by revenge; and [Page 57] from ſmall ſucceſſes, he opened their minds to hope, that, notwithſtanding his preſent misfortunes, more important victories might at length attend his valour*.

ALFRED lay here concealed, but not unactive, during a twelvemonth; when the news of a proſperous event reached his ears, and called him into the field. Hubba, the Dane, having ſpread ravages, fire, and ſlaughter, over all Wales, had landed in Devonſhire from twenty-three veſſels, and laid ſiege to the caſtle of Kinwith, a place ſituated near the mouth of the ſmall river Tau. Oddune, earl of Devonſhire, with his followers, had taken ſhelter there; and being ill ſupplied with proviſions, and even with water, he determined, by ſome vigorous blow, to prevent the neceſſity of ſubmitting to the barbarous enemy. He made a ſudden ſally on the Danes before ſun-riſing; and taking them unprepared, he put them to rout, purſued them with great ſlaughter, killed Hubba himſelf, and got poſſeſſion of the famous Reafen or enchanted ſtandard, in which the Danes put great confidence. It contained the figure of a raven, which had been inwove by the three ſiſters of Hinguar and Hubba with many magical incantations, and which, by its different movements, prognoſticated, as the Danes believed, the good or bad ſucceſs of any enterprize§.

WHEN Alfred obſerved this ſymptom of ſucceſsful reſiſtance in his ſubjects, he left his retreat; but before he would aſſemble them in arms, or urge them to any attempt, which, if unfortunate, might, in their preſent deſpondency, prove fatal, he reſolved, himſelf, to inſpect the ſituation of the enemy, and to judge of the probability of ſucceſs. For this purpoſe, he entered their camp under the diſguiſe of a harper, and paſſed unſuſpected thro' every quarter. He ſo entertained them with his muſic and facetious humours, that he met with a welcome reception; and was even introduced to Guthrum, their prince's tent, where he remained ſome days{inverted †}. He remarked the ſupine ſecurity of the Danes, their contempt of the Engliſh, their negligence in foraging and plundering, and their diſſolute waſting of what they gained by rapine and violence. Encouraged by theſe favourable appearances, he ſecretly ſent out his emiſſaries to the moſt conſiderable of his ſubjects, and ſummoned them to a rendezvous, along with their warlike followers, at Brixton, on the borders of Selwood foreſt*. The Engliſh, who had hoped to put an end to their calamities by ſervile ſubmiſſion, now found the inſolence and rapine of the conqueror more intolerable than all their paſt fatigues and dangers; and at the appointed day, they joyfully reſorted to [Page 58] their prince. On his appearance before them, they received him with ſhouts of a [...]plauſe*; and could not ſatiate their eyes with the ſight of this beloved mo [...], whom they had long regarded as dead, and who now, with voice and looks expreſſing his confidence of ſucceſs, called them to liberty and vengeance. He inſtantly conducted them to Eddington, where the Danes were encamped; and taking advantage of his pre [...]ious knowledge of the place, he directed his attack againſt the moſt unguarded quarter of the enemy. The Danes, ſurpriſed to ſee an army of Engliſh, whom they conſidered as totally ſubdued, and ſtill more aſtoniſhed to hear Alfred was at their head, made but a faint reſiſtance, notwithſtanding their ſuperiority of number; and were ſoon put to flight with great ſlaughter. The remainder of the routed army, with their prince, was beſieged by Alfred in a fortified place, to which they fled; but being reduced to extremity by want and hunger, they had recourſe to the clemency of the victor, and offered to ſubmit on any conditions. The King, no leſs generous than brave, gave them their lives; and even formed a ſcheme for converting them, from mortal enemies, into faithful ſubjects and confederates. He knew, that the kingdoms of Eaſt-Anglia and Northumberland were left totally deſolate by the frequent inroads of the Danes; and he now purpoſed to re-people them by ſettling there Guthrum and his followers. He hoped that the new planters would at laſt betake themſelves to induſtry, when, by reaſon of his reſiſtance, and the exhauſted condit on of the country, they could no longer ſubſiſt by plunder; and that they might ſerve him as a rampart againſt any future incurſions of their countrymen. But before he ratified theſe mild conditions with the Danes, he required, that they ſhould give him one pledge of their ſubmiſſion, and of their inclination to coaleſce with the Engliſh, by declaring their converſion to Chriſtianity. Guthrum and his army had no averſion to this propoſal; and, without much inſtruction, or argument, or conference, they were all admitted to baptiſm. The King anſwered for Guthrum at the fount, gave him the name of Athelſtan, and received him as his adoptive ſon§.

year 880 THE ſucceſs of this expedient ſeemed to correſpond to Alfred's hopes: The greater part of the Danes ſettled peaceably in their new quarters{inverted †}: Some ſmaller bodies of the ſame nation, which were diſperſed in Mercia, were diſtributed into [Page 59] the five cities of Darby, Leiceſter, Stamford, Lincoln, and Nottingham, and were thence called the Fif or Five-Burgers. The more turbulent and unquiet made an expedition into France under the command of Haſtings*; and except a ſhort incurſion of Danes, who ſailed up the Thames and landed at Fulham, but ſuddenly retreated to their ſhips, on finding the country in a poſture of defence, Alfred was not for ſome years infeſted with the ravages of theſe barbarians.

THE King employed this interval of tranquillity in reſtoring order to the ſtate, which had been ſhaken by ſo many violent convulſions, in eſtabliſhing civil and military inſtitutions, in compoſing the minds of men to induſtry and juſtice, and in providing againſt the return of like calamities. He was, more properly than his grandfather Egbert, the ſole monarch of the Engliſh, (for ſo the Saxons were now univerſally called) becauſe the kingdom of Mercia was at laſt incorporated in his ſtate, and was governed by Ethelbert, his brother-in-law, who bore the title of earl: And tho' the Danes, who peopled Eaſt-Anglia and Northumberland, were, for ſome time, ruled immediately by their own princes, they all acknowledged a ſubordination to Alfred, and ſubmitted to his ſuperior authority. As equality among ſubjects is the great ſource of concord, Alfred gave the ſame laws to the Danes and Engliſh, and put them entirely on the ſame footing in the adminiſtration both of civil and criminal juſtice. The fine for the murder of a Dane was the ſame with that for the murder of an Engliſhman; the great ſymbol of equality in thoſe ages.

THE King, after rebuilding the ruined cities, particularly London, which had been deſtroyed by the Danes in the reign of Ethelwolf, eſtabliſhed a regular militia for the defence of the kingdom. He took care that all his people ſhould be armed and regiſtered; he aſſigned them a regular rotation of duty; he diſtributed part into the caſtles and fortreſſes, which he erected at proper places§; he required another part to take the field on any alarm, and to aſſemble at ſtated places of rendezvous; and he left a ſufficient number at home, who were employed in the cultivation of the land, and who afterwards took their turn in military ſervice{inverted †}. The whole kingdom was like one great garriſon; and the Danes could no ſooner appear in one place, than a ſufficient number was aſſembled to oppoſe them, without leaving the other quarters defenceleſs or diſarmed*.

[Page 60] BUT Alfred, ſenſible that the proper method of oppoſing an enemy, who made incurſions by ſea, was to meet them on their own element, took care to provide himſelf with a naval power*, which, tho' the moſt natural defence of an iſland, had hitherto been totally neglected by the Engliſh. He encreaſed the ſhipping of his kingdom both in number and force, and trained his ſubjects in the pract [...]ce, as well of ſailing, as of naval action. He diſtributed his armed v [...] in proper ſtations around the iſland, and was ſure to meet the Daniſh ſhips either before or after they had landed their troops, and to purſue them in all their incurſions. Tho' the Danes might ſuddenly, by ſurpriſe, diſembark on the coaſt, which was generally become deſolate by their frequent ravages, they were encountered by the Engliſh fleet in their retreat; and eſcaped not, as formerly, by abandoning their booty, but paid, by their total deſtruction, the penalty of the diſorders which they had committed.

IN this manner, Alfred repelied ſeveral inroads of theſe pyratical Danes, and maintained his kingdom, during ſome years, in ſafety and tranquillity. A fleet of a hundred and twenty ſhips of war were ſtationed upon the coaſt; and being provided of warlike engines, as well as of expert ſeamen, both Friſians and Engliſh, for Alfred ſupplied the defects of his own ſubjects by engaging able foreigners in his ſervice) maintained a ſuperiority above thoſe ſmaller bands, with which England had been ſo often infeſted. year 893 But at laſt Haſtings, the famous Daniſh chieftain, having ravaged all the provinces of France, along the ſea-coaſt or the rivers of the Loire and Seine, and being obliged to quit that country, more by the deſolation which he himſelf had occaſioned, than by the reſiſtance of the inhabitants, appeared off the coaſt of Kent with a fleet of 330 ſail. The greater part of the enemy diſembarked in the Rother, and ſeized the ſort of Apuldore. Haſtings himſelf, commanding a fleet of eighty ſail, entered the Thames, and fortifying Milton in Kent, began to ſpread his forces over the country, and to commit the moſt deſtructive ravages. But Alfred, on the firſt alarm of this deſcent, flew to the defence of his people, at the head of a ſelect band of ſoldiers, whom he always kept about his own perſon; and gathering to him the armed militia from all quarters, appeared in the field with a force ſuperior to the enemy§. All ſtraggling parties, whom neceſſity or love of plunder had drawn to a diſtance from their chief encampment, were cut off by the Engliſh{inverted †}; and theſe pyrates, inſtead of encreaſing their ſpoil, found themſelves cooped up in their fortifications*, and obliged to ſubſiſt by the plunder which they had brought [Page 61] from France. Tired of this ſituation, which muſt in the end prove ruinous to them, the Danes at Apuldore roſe ſuddenly from their encampment, with an intention of marching towards the Thames, and paſſing over into Eſſex: But they eſcaped not the vigilance of Alfred, who encountered them at Farnham, put them to rout*, ſeized all their horſes and baggage, and chaced the runaways on board their ſhips, which carried them up the Colne to Merſey in Eſſex, where they entrenched themſelves. Haſtings, at the ſame time, and probably by concert, made a like movement; and deſerting Milton, took poſſeſſion of Bamflete, near the iſle of Canvey in the ſame county; where he haſtily threw up fortifications for his defence againſt the power of Alfred.

UNFORTUNATELY for the Engliſh, Gothrun, prince of the Eaſt-Anglian Danes, had died; as had alſo Guthred, whom the King had appointed governor of the Northumbrians; and theſe reſtleſs tribes being no longer reſtrained by the authority of their princes, and being encouraged by the appearance of ſo great a body of their countrymen, broke into rebellion, ſhook off the authority of Alfred, and yielding to their inveterate habits of war and depredation, embarked on board two hundred and forty veſſels, and appeared before Exeter in the weſt of England. Alfred loſt not a moment in oppoſing this new enemy. Having left ſome forces at London to make head againſt Haſtings and the other Danes, he marched ſuddenly to the weſt§; and falling on the rebels before they were aware, purſued them to their ſhips with great ſlaughter. The enemy, failing next to Suſſex, began to plunder the country near Chicheſter; but the order, which Alfred had every where eſtabliſhed, ſufficed here, without his preſence, for the defence of the place; and the rebels, meeting with a new repulſe, where many of them were killed, and ſome of their ſhips taken{inverted †}, were obliged to put again to ſea, and were diſcouraged from attempting any other enterprize.

MEAN while, the Daniſh invaders in Eſſex, having united their force under the command of Haſtings, advanced into the inland country, and made ſpoil of all around them; but had ſoon reaſon to repent of their temerity. The Engliſh army, left in London, aſſiſted by a body of the citizens, attacked the enemy's entrenchments at Bamflete, overpowered the garriſon, and having committed a great ſlaughter upon them, carried off the wife and two ſons of Haſtings*. Alfred generouſly ſpared theſe captives; and even reſtored them to Haſtings, on condition that he ſhould depart the kingdom.

[Page 62] BUT tho' the King had thus honourably rid himſelf of this dangerous enemy, he had not entirely ſubdued or expelled the invaders. The pyratical Danes willingly followed in an excurſion any proſperous leader, who gave them hopes of booty, but were not ſo eaſily engaged to relinquiſh their enterprize, or ſubmit to return baffled, and without plunder, into their native country. Great numbers of them, after Haſtings' departure, ſeized and fortified Shobury at the mouth of the Thames; and having left a garriſon there, they coaſted along the river, till they came to Boddington in the county of Gloceſter; where, being reinforced by ſome Welſh, they threw up entrenchments, and prepared for their defence. The King here ſurrounded them with the whole force of his dominions*; and as he had now a certain proſpect of victory, he reſolved to truſt nothing to chance, but rather to maſter his enemies by famine than aſſault. They were reduced to ſuch extremities, that, having eat their own horſes, and having many of them periſhed with hunger, they made a deſperate ſally upon the Engliſh; and tho' the greater number fell in the action, a conſiderable body made their eſcape. Theſe roved about for ſome time in England, ſtill purſued by the vigilance of Alfred; they attacked Leiceſter with ſucceſs, defended themſelves in Hartford, and then fled to Quatford; where they were finally broken and ſubdued. The ſmall remains of them either diſperſed themſelves among their countrymen in Northumberland and Eaſt-Anglia, or had recourſe again to the ſea, where they exerciſed pyracy, under the command of Sigefert, a Northumbrian. This freebooter, well acquainted with Alfred's naval preparations, had framed veſſels of a new conſtruction, higher, and longer, and ſwifter, than thoſe of the Engliſh: But the King ſoon ſhowed him his ſuperior ſkill, by building veſſels ſtill higher and longer, and ſwifter, than thoſe of the Northumbrians§; and falling upon them, while they were exerciſing their ravages in the weſt, he took twenty of their ſhips; and having tried all the priſoners at Wincheſter, he hanged them as pyrates, and as the common enemies of mankind{inverted †}.

THE well-timed ſeverity of this execution, together with the excellent poſture of defence, eſtabliſhed every where, reſtored full tranquillity in England, and provided for the future ſecurity of the government. The Eaſt-Anglian and Northumbrian Danes, on the firſt appearance of Alfred upon their frontiers, made anew the moſt humble ſubmiſſions to him; and he thought it prudent to take them under his immediate government, without eſtabliſhing over them a viceroy of their own nation*. The Welſh alſo acknowledged his [Page 63] authority; and this great prince had now, by prudence and juſtice and valour, eſtabliſhed his ſovereignty over all the ſouthern parts of the iſland, from the Engliſh channel to the frontiers of Scotland: year 901 When he died, in the vigour of his age and the full ſtrength of his faculties, after a glorious reign of twenty-nine years and a half*; in which he deſervedly attained the appellation of Alfred the Great, and the title of founder of the Engliſh monarchy.

THE merit of this prince, both in private and public life, may with advantage to be ſet in oppoſition to that of any monarch or citizen, which the annals of any age or any nation, can preſent to us. He ſeems indeed to be the complete model of that perfect character, which, under the denomination of a ſage or wiſe man, the philoſophers have been fond of delineating, rather as a fiction of their imagination, than in hopes of ever ſeeing it reduced to practice: So happily were all his virtues tempered together; ſo juſtly were they blended; and ſo powerfully did each prevent the other from exceeding its proper bounds! He knew how to conciliate the boldeſt enterprize with the cooleſt moderation; the moſt obſtinate perſeverance with the eaſieſt flexibility; the moſt ſevere juſtice with the greateſt lenity; the moſt vigorous command with the greateſt affability of deportment; the higheſt capacity and inclination for ſcience with the moſt ſhining talents for action. His civil and his military virtues are almoſt equally the objects of our admiration; excepting only, that the former, being more rare among princes, as well as more uſeful, ſeem chiefly to challenge our applauſe. Nature alſo, as if deſirous, that ſo bright a production of her ſkill ſhould be ſet in the faireſt light, had beſtowed on him all bodily accompliſhments, vigour of limbs, dignity of ſhape and air, and a pleaſant, engaging and open countenance. Fortune alone, by throwing him into that barbarous age, deprived him of hiſtorians worthy to tranſmit his fame to poſterity; and we wiſh to ſee him delineated in more lively colours, and with more particular ſtrokes, that we may at leaſt perceive ſome of thoſe ſmall ſpecks and blemiſhes, from which, as a man, it is impoſſible he could be entirely exempted.

BUT we ſhould give but an imperfect idea of Alfred's merit, were we to confine our narration to his military exploits, and were not more particular in our account of his inſtitutions for the execution of juſtice, and of his zeal for the encouragement of arts and ſciences.

AFTER Alfred had ſubdued and ſettled or expelled the Danes, he found the kingdom in the moſt wretched condition; lying in deſolation from the ravages of thoſe barbarians, and thrown into diſorders, which were calculated to perpetuate [Page 64] its miſery. Tho' the great armies of the Danes were broke, the country was full of ſtraggling troops of that nation, who, being accuſtomed to live by plunder, were become incapable of induſtry, and who, from the natural ferocity of their manners, indulged themſelves in the commiſſion of violence, even beyond what was requiſite to ſupply their neceſſities. The Engliſh themſelves, reduced to the moſt extreme indigence by theſe continued depredations, had ſhaken off all bands of government; and thoſe who had been plundered to-day, betook themſelves to a like diſorderly life, and from deſpair joined next day the robbers in pillaging and ruining their fellow citizens*. Theſe were the evils, for which it was neceſſary that the vigilance and activity of Alfred ſhould provide a remedy.

THAT he might render the execution of juſtice ſtrict and regular, he divided all England into counties; theſe counties he ſubdivided into hundreds; and the hundreds into tythings. Every houſeholder was anſwerable f r the behaviour of his family, and his ſlaves, and even of his gueſts, if they lived above three days in his houſe. Ten neighbouring houſeholders were formed into one corporation, who, under the name of a tything, decennary, or fribourg, were anſwerable for each other's conduct, and over whom one perſon, called a tythingman, headbourg, or borſholder, was appointed to preſide. Every man was puniſhed as an outlaw, who did not regiſter himſ lf in ſome tything; and no man could change his habitation, without a warrant and certificate from the borſholder of the tything, to which he formerly belonged.

WHEN any perſon in any tything or decennary was guilty of a crime, the borſholder was ſummoned to anſwer for him; and if he was not willing to be ſurety for his appearance and his clearing himſelf, the criminal was committed to priſon, and there detained till his trial. If he fled, either before or after finding ſureties, the borſholder and decennary became liable to enquiry, and were expoſed to the penalties of law§. Thirty-one days were allowed them for producing the criminal; and if that time elapſed without their being able to find him, the borſholder, with two other members of the decennary, was obliged to appear, and together with three chief members of the three neighbouring decennaries making twelve in all to ſwear that his decennary was free from all privity both of the crime committed, and of the eſcape of the criminal. If the borſholder could not find ſuch a number to anſwer for their innocence, the decennary was compelled by fine to make ſatisfaction to the King, according to the degree [Page 65] of the crime*. By this inſtitution every man was obliged from his own intereſt to keep a watchful eye over the conduct of his neighbours; and was in a manner ſurety for the behaviour of thoſe who were placed under the diviſion, to which he belonged: Whence theſe decennaries received the name of frank-pledges.

SUCH a regular diſtribution of the people, and ſuch a ſtrict confinement in their habitation, may not be neceſſary in times, when men are more enured to obedience and juſtice, and might perhaps be regarded as deſtructive of liberty and commerce in a poliſhed ſtate; but were well calculated to reduce theſe fierce and licentious people under the ſalutary reſtraint of law and government. But Alfred took care to temper theſe rigors by other inſtitutions favourable to the freedom and ſecurity of the citizens; and nothing could be more popular and liberal than his plan for the adminiſtration of juſtice. The borſholder ſummoned together his whole decennary to aſſiſt him in deciding any leſſer differences, which occurred among the members of this ſmall community. In affairs of greater moment, in appeals from the decennary, or in controverſies ariſing between members of different decennaries, the cauſe was brought before the hundred, which conſiſted of ten decennaries, or a hundred families of freemen, and which was regularly aſſembled once in four weeks, for the deciding of cauſes. Their method of deciſion deſerves to be noted; as being the origin of juries; an inſtitution, admirable in itſelf, and the beſt calculated for the preſervation of liberty and the adminiſtration of juſtice, that ever was deviſed by the wit of man. Twelve freeholders were choſen; who having ſworn, together with the hundreder or preſiding magiſtrate of that diviſion, to adminiſter impartial juſtice, proceeded to the examination of that cauſe, which was ſubmitted to their juriſdiction. And beſide theſe monthly meetings of the hundred, there was an annual meeting, appointed for a more general inſpection of the police of the diſtrict; the enquiry into crimes, the correction of abuſes in magiſtrates, and the obliging every perſon to ſhew the decennary in which he was regiſtered. The people, in imitation of their anceſtors, the antient Germans, aſſembled there in arms; whence a hundred was ſometimes called a wapentake, and its court ſerved both for the ſupport of military diſcipline, and for the adminiſtration of civil juſtice.

THE next ſuperior court to that of the hundred was the county-court, which met twice a year after Michaelmas and Eaſter, and conſiſted of all the freeholders of the county, who poſſeſſed an equal vote in the deciſion of cauſes. The [Page 66] biſhop preſided in this court, together with the alderman; and the proper object of the court was the receiving appeals from the hundreds and decennaries, and the deciding ſuch controverſies as aroſe between men of different hundreds. Formerly, the alderman poſſeſſed both the civil and military authority; but Alfred, ſenſible that this coalition of powers rendered the nobility dangerous and independant, appointed alſo a ſheriff in each county; who enjoyed a co-ordinate anthority with the former in the judicial function*. His office alſo empowered him to guard the rights of the crown in the county; and to levy the fines impoſed; which in that age formed no contemptible part of the public revenue.

THERE lay an appeal, in default of juſtice, from all theſe courts to the King himſelf in council; and as the people, ſenſible of the equity and great talents of Alfred, placed their chief confidence in him, he was ſoon over-whelmed with appeals from all parts of England. He was indefatigable in the diſpatch of theſe cauſes; but finding that his time muſt be entirely engroſſed by this branch of duty, he reſolved to obviate the inconvenience, by correcting the ignorance or corruption of the inferior magiſtrates, from which it aroſe. He took care to have his nobility inſtructed in letters and the laws: He choſe the earls and ſheriffs from among the men moſt celebrated for problty and knowledge: He puniſhed ſeverely all malverſation in office§: And he removed all the earls, whom he found unequal to the truſt{inverted †}; allowing only ſome of the moſt elderly to ſerve by a depute, till their death ſhould make room for more worthy ſucceſſors.

THE better to guide the magiſtrates in the adminiſtration of juſtice, Alfred framed a body of laws; which, tho' now loſt, ſerved long as the baſis of Engliſh juriſprudence, and is generally eſteemed the origin of what is denominated the COMMON LAW. He appointed regular meetings of the ſtates of England twice a year in London*; a city which he himſelf had repaired and beautified, and which he thus rendered the capital of the kingdom. The ſimilarity of many of theſe inſtitutions to the cuſtoms of the antient Germans, to the practice of the other northern conquerors, and to the Saxon laws during the Heptarchy, prevents us from regarding Alfred as the ſole author of this plan of government; and leads us rather to think, that, like a wiſe man, he contented himſelf with reforming, extending, and executing the inſtitutions, which he found previouſly eſtabliſhed. But on the whole, ſuch ſucceſs attended his legiſlation, that every thing bore ſuddenly a new face in England: Robberies and iniquities of all kinds [Page 67] were repreſſed by the puniſhment or reformation of the criminals*: And ſo exact was the general police, that Alfred, it is ſaid, hung up, by way of bravado, golden bracelets near the high-ways; and no man dared to touch them. Yet amidſt theſe rigors of juſtice, this great prince preſerved the moſt ſacred regard to the liberty of his people; and it is a memorable ſentiment preſerved in his will, that it was juſt the Engliſh ſhould for ever remain as free as their own thoughts.

As good morals and knowledge are almoſt inſeparable, in every age, tho' not in every individual; the care of Alfred for the encouragement of learning among his ſubjects was another uſeful branch of his legiſlation, and tended to reform the Engliſh from their former diſſolute and barbarous manners: But the King was guided in this purſuit leſs by his political views, than by his natural bent and propenſity towards letters. When he came to the throne, he found the Engliſh ſunk into the groſſeſt ignorance and barbariſm, proceeding from the continued diſorders in the government and from the ravages of the Danes: The monaſteries were deſtroyed, the monks butchered or diſperſed, their libraries burnt; and thus the only ſeats of erudition in thoſe ages were totally ſubverted. Alfred himſelf complains, that on his acceſſion he knew not one perſon, ſouth of the Thames, who could ſo much as interpret the Latin ſervice; and very few in the northern parts, who had reached even that pitch of erudition§. But this prince invited over the moſt celebrated ſcholars from all parts of Europe{inverted †}; he eſtabliſhed ſchools every where for the inſtruction of his people; he founded, or at leaſt repaired * the univerſity of Oxford, and endowed it with many privileges, revenues and immunities; he enjoined by law all freeholders poſſeſſed of two hydes of land or more to ſend their children to ſchool for their inſtruction; he gave preferment both in church and ſtate to ſuch only as had made ſome proficiency in knowledge: And by all theſe expedients he had the pleaſure, before his death, to ſee a great change on the face of affairs, and in a work of his, which is ſtill extant, he congratulates himſelf on the progreſs, which learning, under his patronage, had already made in England{inverted †}.

BUT the moſt effectual expedient, employed by Alfred, for the encouragement of learning, was his own example, and the conſtant aſſiduity, with which, notwithſtanding [Page 68] the multitude and urgency of his affairs, he employed himſelf in the purſuits of knowledge. He uſually divided his time into three equal portions; one was employed in ſleep, and the refection of his body by diet and exerciſe; another in the d ſpatch of buſineſs; a third in ſtudy and devotion: And that he might more exactly meaſure the hours, he made uſe of burning tapers of equal lengths, which he fixed in lanthorns*; an expedient ſuited to that rude age, when the geometry of dialling and the mechaniſm of cl [...]cks and watches were totally unknown. And by ſuch a regular diſtribution of his time, tho' he often laboured under great bodily infirmities, this martial hero, who fought in perſon fifty-ſix battles by ſea and land, was able, during a life of no extraordinary length, to acquire more knowledge, and even to compoſe more books, than moſt ſtudious men, tho' bleſt with the greateſt leizure and application, have, in more fortunate ages, made the object of their uninterrupted induſtry.

SENSIBLE, that the people, at all times, eſpecially when their underſtandings are obſtructed by ignorance and bad education, are not much ſuſceptible of ſpeculative inſtruction, Alfred endeavoured to convey his morality by apologues, parables, ſtories, apophthegms, couched in poetry; and beſides propagating among his ſubjects, former compoſitions of that kind, which he found in the Saxon tongue, he exerciſed his vein in inventing works of a like nature§, as well as in tranſlating from the Greek the elegant fables of Aeſop. He alſo gave Saxon tranſlations of Oroſius's and Bede's hiſtories; and of Boethius concerning the conſolation of philoſophy{inverted †}. And he eſteemed it nowiſe derogatory from his other great characters of ſovereign, legiſlator, warrior, and politician, thus to lead the way to his people in the purſuits of literature.

MEANWHILE, this prince was not negligent in encouraging the vulgar and mechanical arts, which have a more ſenſible, tho' not a cloſer connexion with the intereſts of ſociety. He invited, from all quarters, induſtrious foreigners to re people his country, which had been laid deſolate by the ravages of the Danes*. He introduced and encouraged manufactures of all kinds; and no inventor or improver of any ingenious are did he ſuffer to go unrewarded. He prompted men of activity to betake themſelves to navigation, to puſh commerce into the [Page 69] moſt diſtant countries, and to acquire riches by propagating induſtry among their fellow-citizens. He ſet apart a ſeventh part of his own revenue for the maintaining a number of workmen, whom he conſtantly employed in rebuilding his ruined cities, caſtles, palaces, and monaſteries*. Even the elegancies of life were brought to him from the Mediterranean and the Indies; and his ſubjects, by ſeeing theſe productions of the peaceful arts, were taught to reſpect the virtues of juſtice and induſtry, from which alone they could ariſe. Both living and dead, Alfred was regarded, by foreigners no leſs than his own ſubjects, as the greateſt prince after Charlemagne who had appeared in Europe during ſeveral ages, and as one of the wiſeſt and beſt who had ever adorned the annals of any nation.

ALFRLD had, by his wife, Ethelſwitha, the daughter of a Mercian earl, three ſons and three daughters. The eldeſt ſon, Edmund, died without iſſue, in his father's lifetime. The third, Ethelward, inherited his father's paſſion for letters, and lived a private life. The ſecond, Edward, ſucceeded to his power; and paſſes by the appellation of Edward the Elder, being the firſt of that name who ſat on the Engliſh throne.

2.6. EDWARD the Elder.

year THIS prince, who equalled his father in martial talents, tho' inferior to him in knowledge and erudition, found immediately, on his acceſſion, a ſpecimen of that turbulent life, which attended all princes, and even all individuals, in an age when men, leſs reſtrained by juſtice or law, and leſs occupied by induſtry, had no other aliment for their inquietude, but wars, inſurrections, convulſions, rapine, and depredation. Ethelwald, his couſin-german, ſon to King Ethelbert, the elder brother of Alfred, inſiſted on his preferable right to the throne; and arming his partizans, took poſſeſſion of Winburne, where he ſeemed determined to defend himſelf to the laſt extremity, and to await the iſſue of his pretenſions§. But when the King approached the town with a great army, Ethelwald, having the proſpect of certain deſtruction, made his eſcape, and fled firſt into Normandy, and thence into Northumberland{inverted †}; where he hoped, that the people, who had been recently ſubdued by Alfred, and who were impatient of peace, would, on the intelligence of that great prince's death, ſeize the firſt pretence or opportunity of rebellion. The event did not diſappoint his expectations: [Page 70] The Northumbrians declared for him*; and Ethelwald, having thus connected his intereſt with the Daniſh tribes, made an excurſion beyond ſea, and collecting a body of theſe free booters, he excited the hopes of all thoſe who had been accuſtomed to ſubſiſt by rapine and violence. The Eaſt-Anglian Danes joined his party: The Five-burgers, who were ſeated in the heart of Mercia, began to put themſelves in motion; and the Engliſh found that they were again menaced with thoſe convulſions, from which the valour and policy of Alfred had ſo lately redeemed them. The rebels, headed by Ethelwald, made an incurſion into the counties of Gloceſter, Oxford, and Wilts; and having exerciſed their ravages in theſe places, they retired with their booty, before the King, who had a a [...]ſembled his army, was able to approach them. Edward, however, who was determined that his preparations ſhould not be fruitleſs, conducted his forces into Eaſt-Anglia, and retaliated the injuries which the inhabitants had committed, by ſpreading the like devaſtation among them. Being ſatiated with revenge, and loaded with booty, he gave orders to retire: But the authority of theſe antient Kings, which was feeble in peace, was not much better obeyed in the field; and the Kentiſh men, greedy of more ſpoil, ventured, contrary to repeated orders, to ſtay behind him, and to take up their quarters in Bury. This diſobedience proved in the iſſue fortunate to Edward. The Danes aſſaulted the Kentiſh men; but met with ſo ſtout a reſiſtance, that, tho' they gained the field of battle, they bought that advantage by the loſs of their braveſt leaders, and among the reſt, by that of Ethelwald, who periſhed in the action§. The King, freed from the fear of ſo dangerous a competitor, made peace on advantageous terms with the Eaſt-Angles{inverted †}.

year 911 IN order to reſtore England to ſuch a ſtate of tranquillity as it was then capable of attaining, nought was wanting but the ſubjection of the Northumbrians, who, aſſiſted by the ſcattered Danes in Mercia, continually infeſted the bowels of the kingdom. Edward, in order to divert the force of theſe enemies, prepared a fleet to attack them by ſea; hoping, that when his forces appeared off their coaſt, they muſt at leaſt remain at home, and provide for their own defence*. But the Northumbrians were leſs anxious to ſecure their own property than greedy to commit ſpoil on their enemy; and concluding, that the chief force of the Engliſh was embarked in the fleet, they thought the opportunity favourable, and [Page 71] entered Edward's territories with all their ſorces*. The King, who was prepared againſt this event, attacked them on their return at Tetenhall in the county of Stafford, put them to rout, recovered all the booty, and purſued them with great ſlaughter into their own country.

ALL the reſt of Edward's reign was a ſcene of continued and ſucceſsful action againſt the Northumbrians, the Eaſt-Angles, the Five burgers, and the foreign Danes, who invaded him from Normandy and Britanny. He was as provident in putting his kingdom in a poſture of defence, as vigorous in aſſaulting the enemy. He fortified the towns of Cheſter, Eddeſbury, Warwic, Cherbury, Buckingham, Towceſter, Maldon, Huntingdon, and Colcheſter. He fought two great battles at Temsford and Maldon§. He reduced Thurketill, a great Daniſh chieftain, and obliged him to retire with his followers into France, in queſt of ſpoil and adventures{inverted †}. He ſubdued the Eaſt-Angles, and forced them to ſwear allegiance to him: He expelled the two rival princes of Northumberland, Reginald and Sidroc, and acquired, for the preſent, the dominion of that province: Several tribes of the Britains were ſubjected by him; and even the Scots, who, during the reign of Egbert, had, under the conduct of Kenneth, their King, encreaſed their power, by the final ſubjection of the Picts, were however obliged to give him marks of ſubmiſſion*. In all theſe fortunate atchievements, he was aſſiſted by the activity and prudence of his ſiſter Ethelfleda, who was widow to Ethelbert, earl of Mercia, and who, after her huſband's death, retained the government of that province. This princeſs, who had been reduced to extremity in child-bed, refuſed afterwards all commerce with her huſband; not from any weak ſuperſtition, as was common in that age, but becauſe ſhe deemed all domeſtic occupations unworthy of her maſculine and ambitious ſpirit. She died before her brother; and Edward, during the remainder of his reign, took upon himſelf the immediate government of Mercia, which before had been in a great meaſure independant of the crown§. The Saxon Chronicle fixes the death of this prince in 925{inverted †}: His kingdom devolved to Athelſtan, his natural ſon*.


[Page 72]

year THE ſtain in this prince's birth was not, in thoſe times, deemed ſo conſiderable as to exclude him from the throne; and Athelſtan, being of an age, as well as of a capacity, fitted for government, obtained the preference to Edward's younger children, who, tho' legitimate, were of too tender years to rule a nation ſo much expoſed both to foreign invaſion and to domeſtic convulſions. Some diſcontents, however, prevailed on his acceſſion; and Alfred, a nobleman of conſiderable power, was thence encouraged to enter into a conſpiracy againſt him. This event is related by hiſtorians with circumſtances, which the reader, according to the degree of credit he is diſpoſed to give them, may impute, either to the invention of monks, who forged them, or to their artifice, who found means to make them real. Alfred, it is ſaid, being ſeized upon ſtrong ſuſpicions, but without any certain proof, firmly denied the conſpiracy imputed to him; and in order to juſtify himſelf, he offered to ſwear to his innocence before the Pope, whoſe perſen, it was ſuppoſed, contained ſuch ſuperior ſanctity, that no one could preſume to give a falſe oath in his preſence, and yet hope to eſcape the immediate vengeance of heaven. The King accepted of the condition, and Alfred was conducted to Rome; where, either conſcious of his innocence, or neglecting the ſuperſtition, to which he appealed, he ventured to make the oath required of him, before John, who then filled the papal chair. But no ſooner had he pronounced the fatal words, than he fell into convulſions, of which in three days after he expired. The King, as if the guilt of the conſpirator were now fully aſcertained, confiſcated his eſtate, and made a preſent of it to the monaſtery of Malmeſbury*; ſecure now that no doubts would ever thenceforth be entertained concerning the juſtice of his proceedings.

THE dominion of Athelſtan was no ſooner eſtabliſhed over his Engliſh ſubjects, than he endeavoured to give ſecurity to the government, by providing againſt the inſurrections of the Danes, which had created ſo much diſturbance to his predeceſſors. He marched into Northumberland; and finding, that the inhabitants bore with impatience the Engliſh yoke, he thought it prudent to give Sithric, a Daniſh nobleman, the title of King, and to attach him to his intereſts, by marrying him to his ſiſter, Editha. But this policy proved by accident the ſource of very dangerous conſequences. Sithric died in a twelvemonth after; and his two ſons by a former marriage, Anlaf and Godfrid, founding pretenſions on their father's elevation, aſſumed the ſovereignty, without waiting for Athelſtan's [Page 73] conſent. They were ſoon expelled by the power of that monarch; and the former took ſhelter in Ireland, as the latter did in Scotland*; where he received, during ſome time, protection from Conſtantine, who then enjoyed the crown of that kingdom. The Scottiſh prince, however, continually ſolicited, and even menaced, by Athelſtan, at laſt promiſed to deliver up his gueſt; but ſecretly deteſting this treachery, he gave Godfrid warning to make his eſcape; and that fugitive, after ſubſiſting by pyracy for ſome years, freed the King, by his death, from any farther anxiety. Athelſtan, reſenting Conſtantine's behaviour, entered Scotland with a great army; and ravaging the country with impunity, he reduced the Scots to ſuch diſtreſs, that their King was content to preſerve his crown, by making the moſt humble ſubmiſſions to the enemy. The Engliſh hiſtorians aſſert, that Conſtantine did homage to Athelſtan for his whole kingdom; and they add, that the latter prince, being urged by his courtiers to puſh the preſent favourable opportunity, and entirely ſubdue Scotland, replied, that it was more glorious to confer than conquer kingdoms§. But thoſe annals, ſo uncertain and imperfect in themſelves, loſe all credit, when national prepoſſeſſions and animoſities have place: And on that account, the Scots hiſtorians, who, without having any more knowledge of the matter, ſtrenuouſly deny the fact, ſeem more worthy of belief.

CONSTANTINE, whether he owed the retaining his crown to the moderation of Athelſtan, who was unwilling to employ all his advantages againſt him, or to the policy of that monarch, who eſteemed the humiliation of an enemy a greater acquiſit on than the ſubjection of a diſcontented and mutinous people, thought the behaviour of the Engliſh more an object of reſentment than of gratitude. He entered into a confederacy with Anlaf, who had collected a great body of Daniſh pyrates, whom he found hovering in the Iriſh ſeas; and with ſome Welſh princes, who were terrified with the growing power of Athelſtan: And all theſe allies made by concert an irruption with a great army into England. Athelſtan, collecting his forces, met the enemy near Brunſbury in Northumberland, and defeated them in a general engagement{inverted †}. This victory was chiefly aſcribed to the valour of Turketul, the Engliſh chancellor: For in thoſe turbulent ages, no one [Page 74] was ſo much occupied in civil employments, as wholly to lay aſide the military character*.

THERE is a circumſtance, not unworthy of notice, which hiſtorians relate with regard to the tranſactions of this war. Anlaf, on the approach of the Engliſh army, thought, that he could not venture too much to enſure a fortunate event; and employing the artifice formerly practiſed by Alfred againſt the Danes, he entered the enemy's camp in the habit of a minſtrel. The ſtratagem was for the preſent attended with a like ſucceſs. He gave ſuch ſatisfaction to the ſoldiers, who flocked about him, that they introduced him to the King's tent; and Anlaf, having played before that prince and his nobles during their repaſt, was diſmiſſed with a handſome reward. His prudence kept him from refuſing the preſent; but his pride determined him, on his departure, to bury it, while he fancied that he was uneſpied by all the world. But a ſoldier in Athelſtan's camp, who had formerly ſerved under Anlaf, had been ſtruck with ſome ſuſpicion on the firſt appearance of the minſtrel; and was engaged by curioſity to obſerve all his motions. He regarded this laſt action as a full proof of Anlaf's diſguiſe; and he immediately carried the intelligence to Athelſtan, who blamed him for not ſooner giving him information, that he might have ſeized his enemy. But the ſoldier told him, that as he had formerly ſworn fealty to Anlaf, he could never have pardoned himſelf the treachery of betraying and ruining his antient maſter; and that Athelſtan himſelf, after ſuch an inſtance of his criminal conduct, would have equal reaſon to doubt of his allegiance. Athelſtan, having praiſed the generoſity of the ſoldier's principles, reflected on the incident, which he foreſaw might be attended with important conſequences. He removed his ſtation in the camp; and as a biſhop arrived that evening with a reinforcement of troops, (for the eccleſiaſtics were then no leſs warlike than the civil magiſtrates) he occupied with his train that very place which had been left vacant by the King's removal. The precaution of Athelſtan was found prudent: For no ſooner had darkneſs fallen, than Anlaf broke into the camp, and haſtening directly to the place where he had left the King's tent, put the biſhop to death, before he had time to prepare for his de ence.

THERE fell ſeveral Daniſh and Welſh princes in the action of Brunſbury; and Conſtantine and Anlaf made their eſcape with difficulty, leaving the greateſt part of their army on the field of battle. After this ſucceſs, Athelſtan enjoyed [Page 75] his crown in tranquillity; and he is regarded as one of the ableſt and moſt active of thoſe antient princes. He paſſed a remarkable law, which was calculated for the encouragement of commerce, and which it required ſome largeneſs of mind, in that age, to have deviſed, That a merchant, who had made two long ſea-voyages on his own account, ſhould be admitted to the rank of a thane or gentleman. This prince died at Gloceſter in the year 941*, after a reign of ſixteen years; and was ſucceeded by his brother Edmund.

2.8. EDMUND.

year 941 EDMUND, on his acceſſion, met with diſturbance from the reſtleſs Northumbrians, who lay in wait for every opportunity of breaking into rebellion. But the King, marching ſuddenly with his ſorces into their country, ſo overawed the rebels, that they endeavoured to appeaſe him by the moſt humble ſubmiſſions. In order to give him the ſurer pledge of their obedience, they offered to embrace Chriſtianity; a religion which the Engliſh Danes had frequently profeſſed, when reduced to difficulties, but which, for that very reaſon, they regarded as a badge of ſervitude, and ſhook off as ſoon as a favourable opportunity offered. Edmund, truſting little to their ſincerity in this forced ſubmiſſion, uſed the precaution of removing the Five-burgers from the towns of Mercia, in which they had been allowed to ſettle; becauſe it was always found, that they took advantage of every commotion, and introduced the rebellious or foreign Danes into the heart of the kingdom. He alſo ſubdued Cumberland from the Britains; and conferred that principality on Malcolm, King of Scotland, on condition that he ſhould do him homage for it, and protect the north from all future incurſions of the Danes.

EDMUND was very young when he came to the crown; yet his reign was ſhort, as his death was violent. One day, as he was ſolemnizing a feſtival in the county of Gloceſter, he remarked, that Leolf, a notorious robber, whom he had ſentenced to baniſhment, had yet the boldneſs to enter the hall where he himſelf dined, and to ſit at table with his attendants. Enraged at this inſolence, he ordered him to leave the room; but on his refuſing to obey, the King, whoſe temper, [Page 76] naturally choleric, was inflamed by this additional inſult, leaped on him himſelf, and ſeized him by the hair: But the ruſſian, puſhed to extremity, drew his dagger, and gave Edmund an wound, of which he immediately expired*. This event happened in the year 946, and in the ſixth year of the King's reign. Edmund [...] male-iſſue, but ſo young, that they were incapable of governing the kingdom; and his brother, Edred, was promoted to the crown.

2.9. EDRED.

year THE reign of this prince, as that of his predeceſſors, was diſturbed by the rebellions and incurſions of the Northumbrian Danes, who, tho' frequently quelled, were never entirely ſubdued, nor had ever paid a ſincere allegiance to the crown of England. The ſucceſſion of a new King ſeemed to them a favourable opportunity for ſhaking off the yoke; but on Edred's appearance with an army, they made him their wonted ſubmiſſions; and the King having waſted the country with fire and ſword, as a puniſhment of their rebellion, obliged them to renew their oaths of allegiance; and he ſtrait returned with his forces. The obedience of the Danes laſted no longer than the preſent terror. Provoked at the devaſtations of Edred, and even reduced by neceſſity to ſubſiſt on plunder, they broke into a new rebellion, and were again ſubdued: But the King, now inſtructed by experience, took better precautions againſt their future revolt. He fixed Engliſh garriſons in their moſt conſiderable towns; and placed over them an Engliſh governor, who might watch all their motions, and ſuppreſs their inſurrections on the firſt appearance. He obliged alſo Malcolm, King of Scotland, to renew his homage for the lands which he held in England§.

EDRED, tho' not unwarlike, nor unfit for active life, lay under the influence of the loweſt ſuperſtition, and had blindly delivered over his conſcience to the guidance of Dunſtan, commonly called St. Dunſtan, abbot of Glaſtenbury{inverted †}, whom he advanced to the higheſt offices, and who covered, under the appearance of ſanctity, the moſt violent and moſt inſolent ambition. Taking advantage of the implicit faith repoſed in him by the King, this churchman imported into England a new order of monks, who much changed the ſtate of eccleſiaſtical affairs, and excited, on their firſt eſtabliſhment, the moſt violent commotions.

[Page 77] FROM the time of the firſt introduction of Chriſtianity among the Saxons, there had been monaſteries in England; and theſe eſtabliſhments had extremely multiplied, by the donations of the princes and nobles; whoſe ſuperſtition, derived from their ignorance and precarious life, and encreaſed by remorſes for the crimes into which they were ſo frequently betrayed, knew no other expedient for appeaſing the Deity than a profuſe liberality towards the eccleſiaſtics. But the monks had hitherto been a ſpecies of ſecular prieſts, who lived in the convents after the manner of the preſent canons or prebendaries, and were both intermingled, in ſome degree, with the world, and endeavoured to render themſelves uſeful to it. They were employed in the education of youth*: They had the diſpoſal of their own time and induſtry: They were not ſubjected to the rigid rules of an order: They had made no vows of implicit obedience to their ſuperiors: And they ſtill retained the choice, without quitting the convent, either of a married or a ſingle life. But a miſtaken piety had produced in Italy a new ſpecies of monks, called Benedictines; who, carrying farther the plauſible principles of mortification, ſecluded themſelves entirely from the world, renounced all claim to liberty, and made a merit of the moſt inviolable chaſtity. Theſe practices and principles, which ſuperſtition at firſt engendered, were greedily embraced and promoted by the policy of the court of Rome. The Roman pontiff, who was making every day great advances towards an univerſal ſovereignty over the eccleſiaſtics, perceived, that the celibacy alone of the clergy could break off entirely their connexion with the civil power, and depriving them of every other object of ambition, engage them to promote, with unceaſing induſtry, the grandeur of their own order. He was ſenſible, that ſo long as the monks were indulged in marriage, and were allowed families, they never could be ſubjected to a ſtrict rule, or reduced to that ſlavery under their ſuperiors, which was requiſite to procure to the orders, iſſued from Rome, a ready and zealous obedience. Celibacy, therefore, began to be extolled, as the indiſpenſible duty of prieſts; and the Pope undertook to make all the clergy throughout the weſtern world renounce at once the privilege of marriage: A fortunate policy, but at the ſame time an undertaking the moſt difficult of any, ſince he had the ſtrongeſt propenſities of human nature to encounter, and found, that the ſame connexions with the female ſex, which generally encourages devotion, was here unfavourable to the ſucceſs of his project. It is no wonder, therefore, that this maſter ſtroke of art ſhould have met with violent contradiction, and that the intereſts of the hierarchy, [Page 78] and the inclinations of the prieſts, being now placed in this ſingular oppoſition, ſhould, notwithſtanding the continued efforts of Rome, have retarded the execution of that bold ſcheme, during the courſe of near three centuries.

As the biſhops and parochial clergy lived apart with their families, and were more connected with the world, the hopes of ſucceſs with them were fainter, and the pretence for making them renounce marriage was much leſs plauſible. But the pope, having caſt his eye on the monks as the baſis of his authority, was determined to reduce them under ſtrict rules of obedience, to procure them the credit of ſanctity by an appearance of the moſt rigid mortifications, and to break off all their other connections which might interfere with his ſpiritual policy. Under pretence, therefore, of reforming abuſes, which were, in ſome degree, unavoidable in the antient eſtabliſhments, he had already ſpread over the ſouthern countries of Europe the ſtrict rules of the monaſtic life, and began to form attempts towards a like innovation in England. The favourable opportunity offered itſelf (and it was greedily ſeized) ariſing from the weak ſuperſtition of Edred, and the violent impetuous character of Dunſtan.

DUNSTAN was born of noble parents in the weſt of England; and being educated under his uncle, Aldhelm, then Archbiſhop of Canterbury, had betaken himſelf to the eccleſiaſtical life, and had acquired ſome character in the court of Edmund. He was, however, defamed to that prince as a man of licentious manners*; and finding his fortune blaſted by theſe ſuſpicions, his ardent ambition prompted him to repair his indiſcretions by running into an oppoſite extreme. He ſecluded himſelf entirely from the world; he framed a cell ſo ſmall that he could neither ſtand erect in it, nor ſtretch out his limbs during his repoſe; and he here employed himſelf perpetually either in devotion or in manual labour. It is probable, that his brain became gradually crazed by theſe ſolitary occupations, and that he framed chimeras, which, being believed by himſelf and his ſtupid votaries, procured him the general character of ſanctity among the people. He fancied, that the devil, among the frequent viſits, which he paid him, was one day more earneſt than uſual in his temptations; till Dunſtan, provoked at his importunity, ſeized him by the noſe with a pair of red-hot pincers, as he put his head into the cell; and he held him there, till that malignant ſpirit made the whole neighbourhood reſound with his bellowings. This notable exploit was ſeriouſly credited and extolled by the public; it is tranſmitted to poſterity by one who, conſidering his age, may paſs for a writer of ſome elegance; and it inſured to Dunſtan a reputation, which no real piety, much leſs [Page 79] virtue, could, even in the moſt enlightened period, have ever been able to procure him with the people.

SUPPORTED by the character, obtained in his retreat, Dunſtan appeared again at court; and gained ſuch an aſcendant over Edred, who had ſucceeded to the crown, as made him, not only the director of his conſcience, but his counſellor in the moſt momentous affairs of government. He was placed at the head of the treaſury*, and being thus poſſeſſed both of power at court, and of credit with the populace, he was enabled to attempt with ſucceſs the moſt arduous undertakings. Finding, that his advancement had been owing to the opinion of his auſterity, he profeſſed himſelf a partizan of the rigid monaſtic rules; and after introducing that reformation into the convents of Glaſtenbury and Abingdon, he endeavoured to render it univerſal in the kingdom.

THE minds of men were already well prepared for this innovation. The praiſes of an inviolable chaſtity had been carried to the higheſt extravagance by ſome of the firſt preachers of chriſtianity among the Saxons: The pleaſures of love had been repreſented as incompatible with chriſtian perfection: And a total abſtinence from all commerce with the ſex was deemed ſuch a meritorious pennance, as was ſufficient to atone for the greateſt enormities. The conſequence ſeemed natural, that thoſe at leaſt who officiated at the altar ſhould be clear of this pollution; and when the doctrine of tranſubſtantiation, which was now creeping in, was once fully eſtabliſhed, the reverence to the real body of Chriſt in the euchariſt, beſtowed on this argument an additional force and influence. The monks knew how to avail themſelves of all theſe popular topics, and to ſet off their own character to the beſt advantage. They affected the greateſt auſterity of life and manners: They indulged themſelves in the higheſt ſtrains of devotion: They inveighed bitterly againſt the vices and pretended luxury of the age: They were particularly vehement againſt the diſſolute lives of the ſecular clergy, their rivals: Every particular inſtance of libertiniſm in that order was repreſented as a general corruption: And where other topics of defamation were wanting, their marriage became a ſure object of invective, and their wives received the name of concubines, or other more opprobrious appellation. The ſecular clergy, on the other hand, who were numerous and rich, and poſſeſſed of the eccleſiaſtical dignities, defended themſelves with vigour, and endeavoured to retaliate upon their adverſaries. The people were thrown into agitation; and few inſtances occur of more violent diſſentions, excited by the moſt material differences in religion; or rather by the moſt frivolous: Since it is a general remark, that the more [Page 80] affinity there is between thological parties, the greater commonly is their animoſity.

THE progreſs of the monks, which was become conſiderable, was ſomewhat retarded by the death of Edred, their partizan, who expired after a reign of nine years*. He left children; but as they were infants, his nephew, Edwy, ſon to Edmund, was placed on the throne.

2.10. EDWY.

year EDWY, at the time of his acceſſion was not above ſixteen or ſeventeen years of age, was poſſeſſed of the moſt amiable figure, and even endowed, according to authentic accounts, with the moſt promiſing virtues. He would have been the favourite of his people, had he not unhappily, on the commencement of his reign, been engaged in a controverſy with the monks, whoſe rage neither the graces of the body nor virtues of the mind could mitigate, and who have purſued his memory with the ſame unrelenting vengeance, which they exerciſed againſt his perſon and dignity during his ſhort and unfortunate reign. There was a beautiful princeſs of the royal blood, called Elgiva, who had made impreſſion on the tender heart of Edwy; and as he was of an age, when the force of the paſſions begins firſt to be felt, he had ventured, contrary to the advice of his graveſt counſellor, and the remonſtrances of the more dignified eccleſiaſtics, to eſpouſe her; tho' ſhe was within the degrees of affinity, prohibited by the canon-law. As the auſterity, affected by the monks, made them particularly violent on this occaſion, Edwy entertained a ſtrong prepoſſeſſion againſt them; and ſeemed on that account determined not to ſecond their project, of expelling the ſeculars from all the convents, and of acquiring to themſelves poſſeſſion of thoſe rich eſtabliſhments. The war was therefore declared between the King and the monks; and the former ſoon found reaſon to repent him of his provoking ſuch dangerous enemies. On the day of his coronation, his nobility were aſſembled in a great hall, and were indulging themſelves in that riot and diſorder, which, from the example of their German anceſtors, had become habitual to the Engliſh§; when Edwy, attracted by ſofter pleaſures, retired into the Queen's apartments, and in that privacy, gave reins to his fondneſs towards his wife, which was only moderately checked by the preſence of her mother. Dunſtan conjectured the reaſon of the King's retreat; and carrying along with [Page 81] him, Odo, archbiſhop of Canterbury, over whom he had gained an entire aſcendant, he burſt into the apartment, upbraided Edwy with his laſciviouſneſs, probably beſtowed on the Queen the moſt opprobrious epithet which can be applied to her ſex, and tearing him from her arms, puſhed him back, in a diſgraceful manner, into the feſtival of the nobles*. Edwy, tho' young and oppoſed by the prejudices of the people, found an opportunity of taking revenge for this public inſult. He queſtioned Dunſtan concerning the adminiſtration of the treaſury during the reign of his predeceſſor; and when that miniſter refuſed to give any account of money, expended, as he affirmed, by the late King's orders, he accuſed him of malverſation in his office, and baniſhed him the kingdom. But Dunſtan's cabal were not unactive during his abſence: They filled the people's ears with high panegyrics on his ſanctity: They exclaimed againſt the impiety of the King and Queen: And having poiſoned the minds of men by theſe declamations, they proceeded to ſtill more outrageous violences againſt the royal authority. Archbiſhop Odo ſent into the palace a party of ſoldiers, who ſeized the Queen, and having burned her face with a red hot iron, in order to deſtroy that fatal beauty, which had ſeduced Edwy, they carried her by force into Ireland, there to remain in perpetual exile. Edwy, finding it in vain to reſiſt, was obliged to conſent to his divorce, which was pronounced by Odo§; and a cataſtrophe, ſtill more diſmal, awaited the unhappy Elgiva. That amiable princeſs, being cured of her wounds, and having even obliterated the ſcars, with which Odo had hoped to deface her beauty, returned into England, and was flying to the embraces of the King, whom ſhe ſtill regarded as her huſband; when ſhe fell into the hands of a party, whom the primate had ordered to intercept her. Nothing but her death could now give ſecurity to Odo and the monks; and her moſt cruel death was requiſite to ſatiate their vengeance. She was hamſtringed; and expired a few days after at Gloceſter in the moſt acute torments{inverted †}.

THE Engliſh, blinded with ſuperſtition, inſtead of being ſhocked with this inhumanity, exclaimed that the misfortunes of Edwy and his ſpouſe were a juſt judgment on them for their diſſolute contempt of the eccleſiaſtical ſtatutes. They even proceeded to rebellion againſt their ſovereign; and having placed Edgar at their head, the younger brother of Edwy, a boy of thirteen years of age, they ſoon put him in poſſeſſion of Mercia, Northumberland, Eaſt-Anglia; [Page 82] and chaced Edwy into the ſouthern countries*. That it might not be doubtful at whoſe inſtigation this revolt was undertaken; Dunſtan returned into England, and took upon him the government of Edgar and his party. He was firſt inſtalled in the ſee of Worceſter, then in that of London, and, on Odo's death, and the violent expulſion of Brighthelm, his ſucceſſor, in that of Canterbury; all which he long kept poſſeſſion of. Odo is tranſmitted to us by the monks under the character of a man of piety: Dunſtan was even canonized; and is one of thoſe numerous ſaints of the ſame ſtamp, who diſgrace the Romiſh calendar. Mean while, the unhappy Edwy was excommunicated§, and purſued with unrelenting vengeance; but his death, which happened ſoon after, freed his enemies from all farther inquietude; and gave Edgar peaceable poſſeſſion of the government{inverted †}.

2.11. EDGAR.

THIS prince, who mounted the throne in ſuch early youth, ſoon diſcovered an excellent capacity in the adminiſtration of affairs; and his reign is one of the moſt fortunate, which we meet with in the antient Engliſh hiſtory. He ſhowed no averſion to war; he made the wiſeſt preparations againſt invaders: And by this vigor and foreſight, he was enabled, without any danger of ſuffering inſults, to indulge his inclination towards peace, and to employ himſelf in ſupporting [Page 83] and improving the police of his kingdom*. He maintained a body of diſciplined troops; which he quartered in the north, in order to keep the mutinous Northumbrians in ſubjection, and to repel the inroads of the Scots. He built and ſupported a powerful navy; and that he might retain the ſeamen in the practice of their duty, and ſhow perpetually a formidable armament to his enemies, he ſtationed three ſquadrons off the coaſt, and ordered them to make, from time to time, the circuit of his dominions. The foreign Danes dared not to approach a country which appeared in ſuch a poſture of defence: The domeſtic Danes ſaw inevitable deſtruction to be the conſequence of their tumults and inſurrections: The neighbouring princes, of Wales, Scotland, the Iſle of Man, the Orkneys, and even of Ireland, were reduced to pay ſubmiſſions to ſo formidable a prince. He carried his ſuperiority to a great height, and might have excited an univerſal combination againſt him, had not his power been ſo well eſtabliſhed, as to deprive his enemies of all hopes of ſhaking it: It is ſaid, that reſiding once at Cheſter, and having propoſed to go by water to the abbey of St. John the Baptiſt, he obliged eight of his tributary Kings to row him in a barge upon the Dee§. The Engliſh hiſtorians are fond to mention the name of Kenneth III. King of Scots among the number: The Scots hiſtorians, either deny the fact, or aſſert, that their King, if ever he acknowledged himſelf a vaſſal to Edgar, did him homage, not for his crown, but for the dominions, which he held in England.

BUT the chief means, by which Edgar maintained his authority, and preſerved public peace, was the paying court to Dunſtan and the Monks, who had at firſt placed him on the throne, and who, by their pretenſions to ſuperior ſanctity and purity of manners, had acquired an aſcendant over the people. He favoured their ſcheme for diſpoſſeſſing the ſecular canons of all the monaſteries{inverted †}; he beſtowed [Page 84] preferment on none but their partizans; he allowed Dunſtan to reſign the ſee of Worceſter into the hands of Oſwald, one of his creatures*, and to place Ethelwold, another of them, in that of Wincheſter; he conſuited theſe prelates in the adminiſtration of all eccleſiaſtical affairs, and even in that of many civil; and tho' the vigour of his own genius prevented him from being implicitely guided by them, the King and the biſhops found ſuch advantages in their mutual harmony, that they acted always in concert, and united their influence in preſerving the peace and tranquillity of the public.

IN order to complete the great work of placing the new order of monks in all the convents, Edgar ſummoned a general council of the prelates and the heads of the religious orders. He here inveighed againſt the diſſolute lives of the ſecular clergy; the ſmallneſs of their tonſure, which, it is probable, maintained no longer any reſemblance to the crown of thorns; their negligence in attending the excreiſe of their function; their mixing with the laity in the pleaſures of gaming, hunting, dancing and ſinging; and their openly living with concubines, by which it is commonly ſuppoſed he meant their wives. He then turned himſelf to Dunſtan the primate; and in the name of the late King, Edred, his father, whom he ſuppoſed to look down from Heaven with indignation againſt a [...] thoſe enormities, he thus addreſſed him. ‘"Tis you, Dunſtan, by whoſe advice I founded monaſteries, built churches, and expended my treaſure in the ſupport of religion and religious houſes. You was my counſellor and aſſiſtant in all my ſchemes: You was the director of my conſcience: To you I was obedient in all things. When did you call for ſupplies, which I refuſed you? Was my aſſiſtance ever wanting to the poor? Did I deny ſupport and eſtabliſhments to the clergy and the convents? Did I not hearken to your inſtructions, who told me, that theſe charities were, of all others, the moſt grateful to my maker, and fixed a perpetual fund for the ſupport of religion? And are all our pious endeavours now fruſtrated by the diſſolute lives of the prieſts? Not that I throw any blame on you: You have reaſoned, beſought, inculcated, inveighed: But it behoves you now to uſe ſharper and more vigerous remedies; and conjoining your ſpiritual authority with the civil power, to purge effectually the temple of God from thieves and intruders."’ It is eaſy to imagine that this harangue had the deſired effect; and that, when the King and prelates thus concurred with the popular prejudices, it was not long [Page 85] before the monks prevailed, and eſtabliſhed their new rules in almoſt all the convents.

WE may remark, that the declamations againſt the ſecular clergy are both here and in all the hiſtorians, conveyed in general terms; and as that order of men are commonly reſtrained by the decency of their character, not to mention ſuperior motives, it is difficult to believe, that the complaints againſt their diſſolute manners could be ſo univerſally juſt as is pretended. It is more probable, that the monks paid court to the populace by an affected auſterity of life; and, repreſenting the moſt innocent liberties, taken by the other clergy, as great and unpardonable enormities, thereby prepared the way for the increaſe of their own power and influence. Edgar, however, like a true politician, concurred with the prevailing party; and he even indulged them in pretenſions, which, tho' they might, when complied with, engage the monks to ſupport royal authority during his own reign, proved afterwards very dangerous to his ſucceſſors, and gave diſturbance to the whole civil power. He ſeconded the policy of the court of Rome, in granting to ſome monaſteries an exemption from epiſcopal juriſdiction: He allowed the convents, even thoſe of royal foundation, to uſurp the election of their own abbot: And he admitted their forgeries of antient charters, by which, from the pretended grant of former kings, they aſſumed like privileges and exemptions*.

THESE merits of Edgar have procured him the higheſt panegyrics from tho monks; and he is tranſmitted to us not only under the character of a great politician and an active prince, praiſes to which he ſeems to have been intitled, but under that of a great ſaint and a man of virtue. But nothing could more betray both his own hypocriſy in inveighing againſt the licentiouſneſs of the ſecular clergy, and the intereſted ſpirit of his partizans, in beſtowing ſuch elogies on his piety, than the uſual tenor of his conduct, which was licentious to the higheſt degree, and violated every law, human and divine. Yet thoſe very monks, who, as we are told by Ingulf, a very antient hiſtorian, had no idea of any moral or religious merit, except chaſtity and obedience, not only connived at his enormities, but loaded him with the higheſt praiſes. Hiſtory, however, has preſerved ſome inſtances of his amours, from which, as from a ſpecimen, we may form a conjecture of the reſt.

EDGAR broke into a convent, carried off Editha, a nun, by force, and even committed violence on her perſon. For this act of ſacrilege and brutality [Page 86] he was reprimanded by Dunſtan; and that he might reconcile himſelf with the [...] he was o [...]liged, not to ſeparate from his miſtreſs, but to abſtain from wearing his crown during ſeven years, and to deprive himſelf ſo long of that [...] ornament*: A puniſhment very unequal to that inflicted on the unfort [...]nate Edwy, who, for a marriage, which, in the ſtricteſt ſenſe, could only deſerte the name of irregular, was expelled his kingdom, ſaw his Queen treated with the moſt ſingular barbarity, was loaded with calumnies, and has been tranſ [...]ted to poſterity under the moſt odious col [...]urs. Such is the aſcendant which may be attained, by hypocriſy and cabal, over mankind!

THERE was another miſtreſs of Edgar, called Elfleda, with whom he firſt formed a connexion by a kind of accident. Paſſing one day by Andover, he lodged in the houſe of a nobleman, whoſe daughter, being endowed with all the graces of perſon and behaviour, enflamed him at firſt ſight with the higheſt deſire, and made him reſolve by any expedient to gratify it. As he had not leiſure to employ courtſhip or addreſs for attaining his purpoſe, he went directly to her mother, ceclared the violence of his paſſion, and deſired that the young lady might be allowed to paſs that very night with him. The mother was a woman of virtue, and determined not to diſhonour her daughter and her family by compliance; but bring well acquainted with the impetuoſity of the King's temper, ſhe thought it would be eaſier, as well as ſafer, to deceive than refuſe him. She feigned therefore a ſubmiſſion to his will; but ſecretly ordered a waiting maid, of no diſagreeable figure, to ſteal into the King's bed, after all the company ſhould be retired to reſt. In the morning, before day break, the damſel, agreeable to the injunctions of her miſtreſs, offered to retire; but Edgar, who had no reſerve in his pleaſures, and whoſe love to his bedfollow was rather enflamed by enjoyment, refuſed his conſent, and employed force and entreaties to detain her. Elfrida, truſting to her own charms, and to the love with which, ſhe hoped, ſhe had now inſpired the King, made probably but a faint reſiſtance; and the return of light diſcovered the deceit to Edgar. He had paſſed a night ſo much to his ſatisfaction, that he expreſſed no diſpleaſure with the old lady on account of her f [...]aud; his love was transferred to Elfr [...]da; ſhe became his favourite miſtreſs, and maintained her aſcendant over him, till his marriage with Elfrida.

THE circumſtances of his marriage with [...] lady were more ſingular, and more criminal. Elfrida was daughter and heir of Olgar, earl of Devonſhire; and [...] ſhe had been educated in the country, and had never appeared at court, ſhe had filled all England with the reputation of her beauty. Edgar himſelf, who [Page 87] was indifferent to no accounts of this nature, found his curioſity excited by the frequent panegyrics which he heard of Elfrida; and reflecting on her noble birth, he reſolved, if he found her charms anſwerable to their fame, to obtain poſſeſſion of her on honourable terms. He communicated his intention to earl Ethelwold, his favourite; but uſed the precaution, before he made any advances to her parents, to order that nobleman, on ſome pretence, to pay them a viſit, and to bring him a certain account of the beauty of their daughter. Ethelwold, when introduced to the young lady, found general report to have fallen much ſhort of the truth; and being enflamed with the higheſt love, he determined to ſacrifice to this new paſſion all his ſidelity to his maſter, and to the truſt repoſed in him. He returned to Edgar, and told him, that the riches alone, and high quality of Elfrida, had been the ground of the admiration paid her, and that her charms, far from being any wiſe extraordinary, would have been overlooked in a woman of interior ſtation. When he had, by this deceit, turned the King from his purpoſe, he took an opportunity, after ſome interval, of turning again the converſation on Elfrida; and he remarked, that, tho' the parentage and fortune of the lady had not produced on him, as on others, any illuſion with regard to her beauty, he could not forbear reflecting, that ſhe would on the whole be an advantageous match for him, and might, by her birth and riches, make him a ſufficient compenſation for the homelineſs of her perſon. If the King, therefore, gave his approbation to the deſign, he was determined to make propoſals in his own benalf to the earl of Devonſhire, and doubted not to obtain his, as well as the young lady's, conſent to the marriage. Edgar, pleaſed with an expedient for eſtabliſhing his favourite's fortune, not only exhorted him to execute his purpoſe, but forwarded its ſucceſs by his recommendations to the parents of Elfrida; and Athelwold was ſoon made happy in the poſſeſſion of his miſtreſs. Dreading, however, the detection of the artifice, he employed every pretence for detaining Elfrida in the country, and for keeping her at a diſtance from Edgar.

THE violent paſſion of Athelwold had concealed from him the neceſſary conſequences which muſt attend his conduct, and the advantages which the numerous enemies that always purſue a royal favourite, would, by its means, be able to make againſt him. Edgar was ſoon informed of the truth; but before he would execute vengeance on Athelwold's treachery, he reſolved to ſatisfy himſelf with his own eyes of the certainty and full extent of his guilt. He told him, that he intended to pay him a viſit in his caſtle, and be introduced to the acquaintance of his new married wife; and Athelwold, as he could not refuſe this honour, begged only leave to go before him a few hours, that he might the better prep [...]re every thing for his reception. He then diſcovered the whole matter to Elfrida; [Page 88] and begged her, if ſhe had any regard, either to her own honour or to his life, to conceal from Edgar, by every circumſtance of dreſs and behaviour, that fatal beauty, which had ſeduced him from fidelity to his friend, and had betrayed him into ſo many falſehoods. Elfrida promiſed compliance, tho' nothing was farther from her intentions. She deemed herſelf little beholden to Athelwold for a paſſion, which had deprived her of a crown; and knowing the force of her own charms, ſhe did not deſpair even yet of reaching that ſtation, of which her huſband's artifice had bereaved her. She appeared before the King with all the advantages which the richeſt attire, and the moſt engaging airs, could beſtow upon her, and excited at once in his boſom the higheſt love towards herſelf, and the moſt furious deſire of revenge againſt her huſband. He knew, however, to diſſemble theſe paſſions; and ſeducing Ethelwold into a wood, under pretence of hunting, he ſtabbed him with his own hand, and ſoon after publicly eſpouſed Elfrida*.

BEFORE we conclude our account of this reign, we muſt mention two circumſtances, which are remarked by hiſtorians. The reputation of Edgar allured a great number of foreigners to viſit his court; and he gave them encouragement to reſide in England. We are told, that they imported all the vices of their reſpective countries, and contributed to corrupt the ſimple manners of the natives: But as this ſimplicity of manners, ſo highly and often ſo injudiciouſly extolled, preſerved them not from barbarity and treachery, the greateſt of all vices, and the moſt incident to a rude uncultivated people, we ought perhaps to deem their acquaintance with foreigners rather an advantage; as it tended to enlarge their views, and to cure them of thoſe illiberal prejudices and ruſtic manners, to which iſlanders are often ſubject.

ANOTHER remarkable incident of this reign was the extirpation of wolves from England. This advantage was attained by the induſtrious policy of Edgar. He took great pains in hunting and purſuing thoſe ravenous animals; and when found, that they had all taken ſhelter in the mountains and foreſts of Wales, he changed the tribute of money impoſed on the Welſh princes by Athelſtan, his predeceſſor, into an annual tribute of three hundred heads of wolves; which produced ſuch diligence in hunting them, that the creature has been no more ſeen in this iſland.

[Page 89] EDGAR died, after a reign of ſixteen years, and in the thirty-third of his age. He was ſucceeded by Edward, whom he had by his firſt marriage with the daughter of Earl Ordmer*.

2.12. EDWARD the Martyr.

year 957 THE ſucceſſion of this prince, who was only fifteen years of age at his father's death, did not take place without much difficulty and oppoſition. Elfrida, his ſtep-mother, had a ſon, Ethelred, ſeven years old, whom ſhe attempted to raiſe to the throne: She affirmed, that Edgar's marriage with the mother of Edward, was expoſed to inſuperable objections; and as ſhe had poſſeſſed great credit with her huſband, ſhe had found means to acquire partizans, who ſeconded all her pretenſions. But the title of Edward was ſupported by many advantages. He was appointed ſucceſſor by the will of his father: He was approaching to man's eſtate, and might ſoon be able to take into his own hands the reins of government: The principal nobility, dreading the imperious temper of Elfrida, were averſe to her ſon's government, which muſt enlarge her authority, if not put her in poſſeſſion of the regency: And above all, Dunſtan, whoſe character of ſanctity had given him the higheſt credit with the people, had eſpouſed the cauſe of Edward, over whom he had already acquired a great aſcendant, and was determined to execute the will of Edgar in his favour. To cut off all pretenſions, Dunſtan reſolutely anointed and crowned the young prince at Kingſton; and the whole kingdom, without farther oppoſition, ſubmitted to him.

IT was of great importance to Dunſtan and the monks, to place on the throne a King favourable to their cauſe: The ſecular clergy had ſtill partizans in England, who deſired to keep them in poſſeſſion of the convents, and of the eccleſiaſtical authority. On the firſt intelligence of Edgar's death, Alfere, duke of Mercia, expelled the new orders of monks from all the monaſteries which lay within his juriſdiction§; but Elfwin, duke of Eaſt-Anglia, and Brithnot, duke of the Eaſt-Saxons, protected them within their territories, and inſiſted upon the execution of the late laws enacted in their favour{inverted †}. In order to ſettle this controverſy, [Page 90] there were ſummoned ſeveral ſynods, which, according to the practice of thoſe times, conſiſted partly of eccleſiaſtical members, partly of the lay nobility. The monks were able to prevail in all theſe aſſemblies; tho', as it appears, contrary to the ſecret wiſhes, if not the declared oppoſition, of the leading men in the nation*. They had more invention in forging miracles to ſupport their cauſe; or having been ſo fortunate as to obtain, by their pretended auſterities, the character of piety, their miracles were better believed by the populace.

IN one ſynod, Dunſtan, finding the majority of votes againſt him, roſe up, and informed the audience, that he had, in that inſtant, received an immediate revelation in behalf of the monks; and the aſſembly were ſo aſtoniſhed at this intelligence, or probably ſo overawed by the populace, that they proceeded no farther in their deliberations. In another ſynod, a voice iſſued from the crucifix, and informed the members, that the eſtabliſhment of the monks was founded on the will of heaven, and could not be oppoſed without impiety. But the miracle performed in the third ſynod was ſtill more alarming: The floor of the hall in which the aſſembly met, ſunk of a ſudden, and a great number of the members were either bruiſed or killed by the fall. It was remarked, that Dunſtan had prevented that day the King from attending the ſynod, and that the beam on which his own chair ſtood, was the only one which did not ſink under the weight of the aſſembly: But theſe circumſtances, inſtead of begetting any ſuſpicion of contrivance, were regarded as the ſureſt proof of the immediate interpoſition of providence, in behalf of theſe favourites of heaven.

EDWARD lived four years after his acceſſion, and there paſſed nothing remarkable during his reign. His death was memorable and tragical§. This young prince was endowed with the moſt amiable innocence of manners; and as his own intentions were always pure, he was incapable of entertaining any ſuſpicion [Page 91] againſt others. Tho' his ſtep-mother had oppoſed his ſucceſſion, and had raiſed a party in favour of her own ſon, he always ſhowed her marks of the greateſt regard, and even expreſſed, on all occaſions, the moſt tender affection towards his brother*. He was hunting one day in a foreſt in Dorſetſhire; and being led by the chace near Corfe-caſtle, where Elfrida reſided, he took the opportunity of paying her a viſit, unattended by any of his retinue, and he thereby preſented her with the occaſion, which ſhe had long wiſhed for. After he had mounted his horſe, he deſired ſome liquor to be brought him; and while he was holding the cup to his head, a ſervant of Elfrida approached him, and gave him a ſtab behind. The prince, finding himſelf wounded, put ſpurs to his horſe; but becoming faint by loſs of blood, he fell from the ſaddle, his foot ſtuck in the ſtirrup, and he was dragged along by his unruly horſe, till he expired. Being tracked by the blood, his body was found, and was privately interred at Wereham by his ſervants.

THE youth and innocence of this prince, with his tragical death, begot ſuch compaſſion among the people, that they believed miracles to be wrought at his tomb; and they gave him the appellation of martyr, tho' his murder had no reference to any religious principle or opinion. Elfrida built monaſteries, and performed many penances, in order to atone for her guilt; but could never, by all her hypocriſy or remorſes, recover the good opinion of the public, tho' ſo eaſily deluded in thoſe ignorant ages.


[Page 92]

Ethelred—Settlement of the Normans—Edmond Ironſide—Canute the Great—Harold Harefoot—Hardicanute—Edward the Confeſſer—Harold.


year 978 THE freedom which England had ſo long enjoyed from Daniſh depredations, ſeems to have proceeded, partly from the eſtabliſhments which that nation had obtained in the north of France, and which employed all their ſuperfluous hands to people and maintain them; partly from the vigour and warlike ſpirit of a long race of Engliſh princes, who preſerved the country in a poſture of defence by ſea and land, and either prevented or repelled every attempt of the invaders. But a new generation of men being now ſprung up in the northern regions, who could no longer diſburthen themſelves on Normandy; the Engliſh had reaſon to dread, that they would again viſit an iſland, to which they were invited, both by the memory of their paſt ſucceſſes, and by the expectation of aſſiſtance from their countrymen, who, tho' long eſtabliſhed in the kingdom, were not yet thoroughly united with the natives, nor had entirely forgot their inveterate habits of war and depredation: And as the preſent King was a minor, and, even when he attained to man's eſtate, never diſcovered either courage or capacity ſufficient to govern his own ſubjects, much leſs to repel a formidable enemy, the people might juſtly expect to ſuffer the worſt calamities from ſo dangerous a criſis.

year 981 THE Danes, before they durſt attempt any important enterprize againſt England, made a ſmall incurſion, by way of trial; and having landed from ſeven veſſels near Southampton, they ravaged the country, enriched themſelves by ſpoil, and departed with impunity*. Six years after, they made a like attempt in the weſt, and met with like ſucceſs; and the invaders, having now found affairs in a very different ſituation from that in which they formerly appeared, encouraged [Page 93] their countrymen to aſſemble a greater force, and to hope for more conſiderable advantages. year They landed in Eſſex under the command of two chieftains; and having defeated and ſlain at Maldon, Brithnot, duke of that county*, who ventured with a ſmall force to attack them, they ſpread their devaſtations over all the neighbouring provinces. In this extremity, Ethelred, to whom hiſtorians give the epithet of the Unready , inſtead of rouſing his people to defend with courage their honour and their property, hearkened to the advice of Siricius, archbiſhop of Canterbury, which was ſeconded by many of the degenerate nobility; and paying the enemy the ſum of ten thouſand pounds, he bribed them to depart the kingdom. This ſhameful expedient was attended with the ſucceſs which might be expected. The Danes appeared next year off the eaſtern coaſt, in hopes of ſubduing a people, who defended themſelves by their money, which invited aſſailants, inſtead of their arms, which repelled them. But the Engliſh, ſenſible of their folly, had, in the interval, met in a great council, and had determined to aſſemble at London a fleet capable of repulſing the enemy; tho' that judicious meaſure failed of ſucceſs, from the treachery of Alfric, duke of Mercia, whoſe name is infamous in the annals of that age, by the calamities which his repeated perfidy brought upon his country. This nobleman had, in 983, ſucceeded to his father, Alfere, in that extenſive command; but being deprived of it two years after, and baniſhed the kingdom§, he was obliged to employ all his intrigue, and all his power, which was too great for a ſubject, to be reſtored to his country, and re-inſtated in his authority. Having had experience of the credit and malevolence of his enemies, he thenceforth truſted for ſecurity, not to his ſervices or to the affections of his fellow-citizens, but to the influence which he had obtained over his vaſſals, and to the public calamities, which he thought muſt, in every revolution, render his aſſiſtance neceſſary. Having fixed this reſolution, he determined to prevent all ſuch ſucceſſes as might eſtabliſh the royal authority, or render his own ſituation dependant and precarious. As the Engliſh had formed the plan of ſurrounding and deſtroying the Daniſh fleet in harbour, he privately informed the enemy of their danger; and when they put to ſea, in conſequence of this intelligence, he deſerted, with the ſquadron under his command, the night before the engagement, and thereby diſappointed all the efforts of his countrymen{inverted †}. Ethelred, enraged at this perfidy, ſeized his ſon, Alfgar, and ordered his eyes to be put out*. But ſuch [Page 94] was the power of Alfric, that he again forced himſelf into authority*; and tho' he had given this ſpecimen of his character, and received this grievous provocation, it was found neceſſary to entruſt him anew with the government of Mercia. This conduct of the court, which, in all its circumſtances, is ſo barbarous, imprudent, and weak, both merited and prognoſticated the moſt grievous calamities.

THE northern invaders, now well acquainted with the defenceleſs condition of England, made a powerful deſcent, under the command of Swein, King of Denmark, and Olave, King of Norway; and ſailing up the Humber, ſpread on all ſides their deſtructive ravages. Lindeſey was laid waſte; Banbury was deſtroyed; and all the Northumbrians, tho' moſtly of Daniſh deſcent, were obliged either to join the victors, or to ſuffer under their depredations. A powerful [...]my was aſſembled to oppoſe the invaders, and a general action enſued; but the Engliſh were abandoned in the battle, by the cowardice or treachery of their three leaders, all of them men of Daniſh race, Frena, Frithegiſt, and Godwin, who gave the example of a ſhameful flight to the troops under their command.

ENCOURAGED by this ſucceſs, and ſtill more by the contempt which it inſpired of their enemy, the pyrates ventured to attack the center of the kingdom; and entering the Thames in ninety-four veſſels, laid ſiege to London, and threatened it with total deſtruction. But the citizens, alarmed with the danger, and firmly united among themſelves, made a bolder defence than the cowardice of the nobility and gentry gave the invaders reaſon to apprehend; and the beſiegers, after ſuffering the greateſt hardſhips, were finally fruſtrated in their attempt. In order to reverge themſelves, they laid waſte Eſſex, Kent, Suſſex, and Hampſhire; and having there procured horſes, they were thereby enabled to ſpread, into the more inland counties, the fury of their depredations§. In this extremity, Ethelred and his nobles had recourſe to the former expedient; and ſending ambaſſadors to the two northern kings, they promiſed them ſubſiſtance and tribute, on condition they would, for the preſent, put an end to their ravages, and ſoon after depart the kingdom. Sweyn and Olave agreed to the terms, and peaceably took up their quarters at Southampton, where the ſum of ſixteen thouſand pounds was paid them{inverted †}. Olave even made a journey to Andover, where Ethelred reſided; [Page 95] and he received the rite of confirmation from the Engliſh biſhops, as well as many rich preſents from the King. He here promiſed, that he would never more infeſt the Engliſh territories, and he faithfully performed that engagement*. This prince receives the appellation of St. Olave from the church of Rome; and notwithſtanding the general preſumption, which lies, either againſt the underſtanding or morals of every one, who in thoſe ignorant ages was dignified with that title, he ſeems to have been a man of merit and of virtue. Sweyn, tho' leſs ſcrupulous than Olave, was obliged, upon the departure of the Norwegian prince, to evacuate alſo the kingdom with all his followers.

year 997 THIS compoſition brought but a ſhort interval to the miſeries of the Engliſh. The Daniſh pirates appeared ſoon after in the Severne; and having committed ſpoil in Wales, as well as in Cornwall and Devon, they ſailed round to the ſouthcoaſt, and entering the Tamar, compleated the devaſtation of theſe two counties. They then returned to the Briſtol-channel; and penetrating into the country by the Avon, ſpread themſelves over all that neighbourhood, and carried fire and ſword even into Dorſetſhire. year 998 They next changed the ſeat of war; and after ravaging the Iſle of Wight, they entered the Thames, and Medway, and laid ſiege to Rocheſter, where they defeated the Kentiſh-men in a great battle. After this victory, the whole province of Kent was made a ſcene of ſlaughter, fire and devaſtation. The extremity of theſe miſeries forced the Engliſh into councils for common defence both by ſea and land; but the weakneſs of the King, the diviſions of the nobility, the treachery of ſome, the cowardice of others, the want of concert in all, fruſtrated every endeavour; and their fleets and armies either came too late to attack the enemy, or were repulſed with diſhonour; and the people were thus equally ruined by reſiſtance or by ſubmiſſion. The Engliſh, therefore, devoid both of prudence and unanimity in council, of courage and conduct in the field, had recourſe to the ſame weak expedient, which by experience they might have already found ſo ineffectual; and they offered the Danes to buy peace by paying them a large ſum of money. Theſe ravagers roſe continually in their demands; and now required the payment of 24,000 l. which the Engliſh were ſo mean and imprudent as to ſubmit to§. The departure of [Page 96] the Danes procured them a ſhort interval of repoſe, which they enjoyed as if it were to be perpetual, without making any effectual preparations for giving them a more vigorous reception upon their next return.

BESIDES receiving this ſum, the Danes were engaged by another circumſtance to quite a kingdom, which appeared ſo little in a ſituation to reſiſt their efforts: They were invited over by their countrymen in Normandy, who at this time were hard preſſed by the arms of Robert, King of France, and who found it difficult to defend the ſettlement, which with ſo much advantage to themſelves and glory to their nation, they had made in that country. It is probable, alſo, that Ethelred, obſerving the cloſe connexions, thus maintained among all the Danes, however divided in government or ſituation, was deſirous of procuring an alliance with that formidable people; and for this purpoſe, being now a widower, he made his addreſſes to Emma, ſiſter to Richard II. duke of Normandy, and he ſoon ſucceeded in his negotiations. year 1001 The princeſs came over this year to England, and was married to Ethelred*.

[Note: Settlement of theNormans.] IN the end of the ninth and beginning of the tenth century; when the north, not yet exhauſted by that multitude of people or rather nations, whom ſhe had ſucceſſively emitted, ſent forth a new race, not of conquerors as before, but of pyrates and ravagers, who infeſted the country, poſſeſſed by her once warlike ſons; there lived Rollo, a petty prince or chieftain in Denmark, whoſe valour and abilities ſoon drew the attention of his countrymen. He was expoſed in his youth to the jealouſy of the King of Denmark, who attacked his ſmall, but independant principality; and who being foiled in every aſſault, had recourſe at laſt to perfidy for effectuating his purpoſe, which he had ſo often attempted in vain by force of arms: He lulled Rollo into ſecurity by an inſidious peace; and falling ſuddenly upon him, he murdered his brother and his braveſt officers, and forced him to fly for ſafety into Scandinavia. Here many of his antient ſubjects, impelled partly by affection to their prince, partly by the oppreſſions of the Daniſh Monarch, ranged themſelves under his ſtandard, and offered to follow him in every enterprize. Rollo, inſtead of attempting to recover his paternal dominions, where he muſt expect a vigorous reſiſtance from the Danes, determined to purſue an eaſier, but more important undertaking, and to make his fortune, in imitation of his countrymen, by pillaging the richer and more ſouthern coaſts of Europe. He collected a body of troops, which like that of all theſe ravagers, was compoſed of Norwegians, Swedes, Friſians, Danes, and adventurers of all nations, who, [Page 97] being accuſtomed to a roving, unſettled life, took delight in nothing but war and plunder. His reputation drew him aſſociates from all quarters; and a viſion, which he pretended to have appeared to him in his ſleep, and which, according to his interpretation of it, prognoſticated to him the greateſt ſucceſſes, proved alſo a powerful incentive with thoſe ignorant and ſuperſtitious people*.

THE firſt attempt of Rollo was on England, near the end of Alfred's reign; when that great monarch, having ſettled Guthrun and his followers in Eaſt-Anglia, and others of theſe free-booters in Northumberland, and having reſtored peace to his harraſſed country, had eſtabliſhed the moſt excellent military, as well as civil inſtitutions among the Engliſh. The prudent Dane, finding that no advantages could be gained over ſuch a people, governed by ſuch a prince, ſoon turned his enterprizes againſt France, which he found more expoſed to his inroads; and during the reigns of Eudes, and uſurper, and of Charles the Simple, a weak prince, he committed the moſt deſtructive ravages on the inland, as well as maritime provinces of that kingdom. The French, having no means of defence againſt a a chieftain, who united all the valour of his countrymen with the policy of more civilized nations, were obliged to ſubmit to the expedient practiſed by Alfred, and to offer the invaders a ſettlement in ſome of thoſe provinces, which they had depopulated by their arms.

THE reaſon, why the Danes for many years purſued meaſures ſo different from thoſe embraced by the Goths, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Lombards, and other northern conquerors, was the great difference, in the method of attack which was practiſed by theſe ſeveral nations, and to which the nature of their particular ſituations neceſſarily confined them. The latter tribes, living in an inland country, made incurſions by land upon the Roman empire; and when they entered far into the frontiers, they were obliged to carry along with them their wives and families, whom they had no hopes of ſoon re-viſiting, and who could not otherwiſe participate of their plunder. This circumſtance quickly made them think of forcing a ſettlement in the provinces, which they had over-run; and theſe barbarians, ſpreading themſelves over the country, found an intereſt in protecting the property and induſtry of the people, whom they ſubdued. But the Danes and Norvegians, invited by their maritime ſituation, and obliged to ſubſiſt themſelves in their uncultivated country by fiſhing, had acquired ſome experience of navigation; and in their military excurſions purſued the method practiſed againſt the Roman empire by the more early Saxons: They made deſcents [Page 98] in ſmall bodies from their ſhips or rather boats, and ravaging the coaſts, returned with the booty to their families, whom they could not conveniently carry along with them in theſe hazardous enterprizes. But when they increaſed their armaments, made incurſions into the inland countries, and found it ſafe to remain longer in the midſt of the enemy, they had been accuſtomed to crowd their veſſels with their wives and children, and having no longer any temptation to return into their own country, they willingly embraced an opportunity of ſettling in the warm climates and cultivated fields of the ſouth.

AFFAIRS were in this ſituation with Rollo and his followers, when Charles propoſed to relinquiſh to them the province formerly called Neuſtria, and to purchaſe peace of them on theſe hard conditions. After all the terms were fully agreed, there appeared only one circumſtance ſhocking to the haughty Dane: He was required to do homage to Charles for his province, and to put himſelf in that humiliating poſture, impoſed on vaſſals by the rites of the feudal law. He long refuſed to ſubmit to this indignity; but being unwilling to loſe ſuch important advantages for a mere ceremony, he made a ſacrifice of his pride to his intereſt, and acknowledged himſelf in form the vaſſal of the French monarch. Charles gave him his daughter, Giſla, in marriage; and that he might bind him faſter to his intereſts, made him a donation of a conſiderable territory, beſides what he was obliged to ſurrender to him by his ſtipulations. When ſome of the French nobles informed him, that, in return for ſo generous a preſent, it was expected, that he ſhould throw himſelf at the King's feet, and make ſuitable acknowledgments for his bounty; Rollo replied, that he would rather break off the whole treaty; and it was with ſome difficulty they could perſuade him to make that compliment by one of his captains. The Dane, commiſſioned for this purpoſe, full of indignation at the order, and deſpiſing ſo unwarlike a prince, caught Charles by the foot, and pretending to carry it to his mouth, that he might kiſs it, overthrew him before all his courtiers. The French nation, ſenſible of their preſent weakneſs, found it prudent to overlook this inſult*.

ROLLO, who was now in the decline of life, and was tired of wars and depredations, applied himſelf, with mature councils, to the ſettlement of his new acquired territory, which was thenceforth called Normandy; and he parcelled it out among his captains and followers. He followed in this partition the cuſtoms of the feudal law, which was then univerſally eſtabliſhed in the ſouthern countries of Europe, and which ſuited the peculiar circumſtances of that age. He treated the French ſubjects who ſubmitted to him, with mildneſs and juſtice; he reclaimed [Page 99] his antient followers from their ferocity and violence; he eſtabliſhed law and order throughout his ſtate; and after a life, ſpent in tumults and ravages, he died peacably in a good old age, and left his dominions to his poſterity*.

WILLIAM I. who ſucceeded him, governed the Dutchy for twenty-five years; and during this time, the Normans were thoroughly intermingled with the French, had acquired their language, had imitated their manners, and had made ſuch progreſs towards cultivation, that, on the death of William, his ſon, Richard, tho' a minor, inherited his dominions: A certain proof, that the Normans were already well advanced in civility, and that their government could now reſt ſecure on its laws and civil inſtitutions, and was not wholly ſuſtained by the abilities of the ſovereign. Richard, after a long reign of fifty-four years, was ſucceeded by his ſon of the ſame name in the year 996; which was eighty-five years after the firſt eſtabliſhment of the Normans in France. This was the duke, who gave his ſiſter, Emma, in marriage to Ethelred, King of England, and who thereby formed connexions with a country, which his poſterity were ſo ſoon after deſtined to ſubdue.

THE Danes had been eſtabliſhed during a longer period, in England than in France; and tho' the ſimilarity of their original language to that of the Saxons invited them to a more early coalition with the natives, they had found, as yet, ſo little example of civilized manners among the Engliſh, that they retained all their antient ferocity, and valued themſelves only on their national character of military bravery. The recent, as well as more antient atchievements of their countrymen, tended to ſuſtain this idea; and the Engliſh princes, particularly Athelſtan and Edgar, ſenſible of that ſuperiority, had been accuſtomed to keep in pay bodies of Daniſh troops, who were quartered about the country, and committed many violences upon the inhabitants. Theſe mercenaries had attained to ſuch a height of luxury, according to the old Engliſh writers, that they combed their hair once a day, bathed themſelves once a week, changed their cloaths frequently; and by all theſe arts of effeminacy, as well as by their military character, had rendered themſelves ſo agreeable to the fair ſex, that they debauched the wives and daughters of the Engliſh, and had diſhonoured many families. But what moſt provoked the inhabitants; inſtead of defending them againſt invaders, they were ever ready to betray them to the foreign Danes, and to aſſociate themſelves with all the ſtraggling parties of that nation. The animoſity between the inhabitants of Engliſh and Daniſh race, had, from theſe repeated [Page 100] injuries, riſen to a great height; when Ethelred, from a policy, incident to weak princes, embraced the cruel reſolution of maſſacring the latter throughout all his dominions.*. year 1002 [Note: Nov.] Secret orders were diſpatched to commence the execution every where on the ſame day; and the feſtival of St. Brice, which fell on a Sunday, the day on which the Danes uſually bathed themſelves, was choſen for that purpoſe. It is needleſs to repeat the accounts tranſmitted of the barbarity of this maſſacre: The rage of the populace, excited by ſo many injuries, ſanctified by authority, and ſtimulated by example, diſtinguiſhed not between innocence and guilt, ſpared neither ſex nor age, and was not ſatiated without the tortures, as well as death, of the unhappy victims. Even Gunilda, ſiſter to the King of Denmark, who had married earl Paling, and had embraced Chriſtianity, was, from the advice of Edric, earl of Wilts, ſeized and condemned to death by Ethelred, after ſeeing her huſband and children butchered before her eyes. The unhappy princeſs foretold, in the agonies of deſpair, that her murder would ſoon be avenged by the total ruin of the Engliſh nation.

year 1003 NEVER was prophecy better fulfilled; and never did barbarous policy prove more fatal to the actors. Sweyn and his Danes, who wanted but a pretence to invade the Engliſh, appeared off the weſtern coaſt, and threatened to take full revenge for the ſlaughter of their countrymen. Exeter fell firſt into their hands, from the negligence or treachery of earl Hugh, a Norman, who had been made governor by the intereſt of Queen Emma. They began to ſpread their devaſtations over the country; when the Engliſh, ſenſible of what outrages they muſt now expect from their barbarous and offended enemy, aſſembled more early and in greater numbers, than uſual, and made an appearance of vigorous reſiſtance. But all theſe preparations were fruſtrated by the treachery of duke Alfric, who [Page 101] was intruſted with the command, and who, feigning ſickneſs, refuſed to lead the army againſt the Danes till it was diſpirited, and at laſt diſſipated, by his fatal miſconduct*. Alfric ſoon after died; and Edric, a greater traitor than he, who had married the King's daughter, and had acquired a total aſcendant over him, ſucceeded Alfric in the government of Mercia, and in the command of the Engliſh armies. A great famine, proceeding partly from the bad ſeaſons, partly from the decay of agriculture, added to all the other miſeries of the inhabitants. year 1007 The country, waſted by the Danes, harraſſed by the fruitleſs expeditions of its own forces, was reduced to the utmoſt deſolation; and at laſt ſubmitted to the infamy of purchaſing a precarious peace from the enemy, by the payment of 30,000l..

THE Engliſh endeavoured to employ this interval in making preparations againſt the return of the Danes, which they had reaſon ſoon to expect. A law was made, ordering the proprietors of eight hides of land to provide themſelves of a horſeman and a compleat ſuit of armour; and thoſe of 310 hydes to equip a ſhip for the defence of the coaſt§. When this navy was aſſembled, which muſt have conſiſted of near eight hundred veſſels{inverted †}, all hopes of its ſucceſs were diſappointed by the factions, animoſities, and diſſenſions of the nobility. Edric had impelled his brother Brightric to advance an accuſation of treaſon againſt Wolfnoth, governor of Suſſex, the father of the famous earl Godwin; and that nobleman, well acquainted with the malevolence as well as power of his enemy, found no other means of ſafety but in deſerting with twenty ſhips to the Danes. Brightric purſued him with a fleet of eighty ſail; but his ſhips being ſhattered in a tempeſt, and ſtranded on the coaſt, he was ſuddenly attacked by Wolfnoth, and all his veſſels burnt and deſtroyed*. The imbecility of the King was little capable of repairing this miſcarriage: The treachery of Edric poiſoned every plan of future defence: And the Engliſh navy, diſconcerted, diſcouraged, and divided, was at laſt ſcattered into its ſeveral harbours.

[Page 102] IT is impoſſible, and would be tedious, to relate particularly all the miſeries to which the Engliſh were thenceforth expoſed. We hear of nothing but the ſacking and burning of towns; the devaſtations of the open country; the appearance of the enemy in every quarter of the kingdom; their cruel diligence in diſcovering any corner which had not been ranſacked by their former violence. The broken and disjointed narration of the antient hiſtorians is here well adapted to the nature of the war, which was conducted by ſuch ſudden inroads, as would have been dangerous even to an united and well governed kingdom, but proved fatal, where nothing but a general conſternation, and mutual diffidence and diſſenſion prevailed. The governors of one province refuſed to march to the aſſiſtance of another, and were at laſt terrified from aſſembling their forces for the defence of their own province*. General councils were aſſembled; but either no reſolution was taken, or none was executed. And the only expedient in which the Engliſh agreed, was the baſe and imprudent one, of buying a new a peace of the Danes by the payment of 48,000 pounds.

year 1011 THIS meaſure did not bring them even that ſhort interval of repoſe which they had expected from it. The Danes, neglecting all engagements, continued their devaſtations and hoſtilities; levied a new contribution of 8000 pounds from the county of Kent alone; murdered the archbiſhop of Canterbury, who had refuſed to countenance this exaction; and the Engliſh nobility found no other reſource than that of ſubmitting every where to the Daniſh monarch, ſwearing allegiance to him, and delivering him hoſtages for their good behaviour. year 1013 Ethelred, equally afraid of the violence of the enemy, and the treachery of his own ſubjects, fled into Normandy, whither he had ſent before him Queen Emma, and her two ſons, Alfred and Edward§. Richard received his unhappy gueſts with a generoſity which does honour to his memory.

year THE King had not been above ſix weeks in Normandy, when he heard of the death of Sweyn, who expired at Gainſborough, before he had time to eſtabliſh himſelf in his new acquired dominions{inverted †}. The Engliſh prelates and nobility, taking advantage of this event, ſent over a deputation to Normandy, inviting Ethelred to return to them, expreſſing their deſire of being governed again by their native prince, and intimating their hopes, that, being now better taught by [Page 103] experience, he would avoid all thoſe errors, which had been attended with ſuch misfortunes to himſelf and to his people*. But the miſconduct of Ethelred was incurable; and on his reſuming the government, he diſcovered the ſame incapacity, indolence, cowardice, and credulity, which had ſo often expoſed him to the inſults of his enemies. His ſon-in-law, Edric, notwithſtanding his repeated treaſons, retained ſuch influence at court, as to inſtil into the King jealouſies of Sigefert and Morcar, two of the chief nobles of Mercia: He allured them into his houſe, where he murdered them; while Ethelred parti ipated in the infamy of this action, by confiſcating their eſtates, and thruſting into a convent the widow of Sigefert. She was a woman of ſingular beauty and merit; and in a viſit which was paid her, during her confinement, by prince Edmond, the King's eldeſt ſon, ſhe inſpired him with ſo violent an affection, that he releaſed her from the convent, and ſoon after married her, without h s father's conſent.

MEAN while the Engliſh found in Canute, the ſon and ſucceſſor of Sweyn, an enemy no leſs terrible than the prince, from whom death had ſo lately delivered them. He ravaged the eaſtern coaſt with mercileſs fury, and put aſhore all the Engliſh hoſtages at Sandwich, alter ha [...]ing cut off their hands and noſes He was obliged, by the neceſſity of his affairs, to make a voyage to Denmark; but returning ſoon after, he continued his depredations along the ſouthern coaſt; and even broke into the counties of Dorſet, Wilts, and Somerſet; where an army was aſſembled againſt him, under the command of prince Edmund and duke Edric. year 1015 The latter ſtill continued his perfidious machinations; and after endeavouring in vain to get the prince into his power, found means to diſſipate the army, and he then openly deſerted to Canute with forty veſſels§.

NOTWITHSTANDING this misfortune, Edmund was not diſconcerted; but aſſembling together all the force of England, was in a condition to give the enemy battle. The King had had ſuch frequent experience of perfidy among his ſubjects, that he had loſt all confidence in them; and he remained at London, pretending ſickneſs, but really from apprehenſions, that they intended to buy their peace, by delivering him into the hands of his enemies{inverted †}. The army called aloud for their ſovereign to march at their head againſt the Danes; and on his refuſal to take the field, they were ſo diſcouraged, that all theſe vaſt preparations [Page 104] became ineffectual for the defence of the kingdom*. Edmond, deprived of all regular reſources to maintain the ſoldiers, was obliged to commit equal ravages with thoſe practiſed by the Danes; and after making ſome fruitleſs expeditions into the north, which had ſubmitted entirely to Canute's power, he retired to London, determined there to maintain to the laſt extremity the ſmall remains of Engliſh liberty. He here found every thing in confuſion by the death of the King, who expired after an unhappy and inglorious reign of thirty-five years. year He left two ſons by his firſt marriage, Edmond, who ſucceeded him, and Edwy, whom Canute afterwards murdered. His two ſons by the ſecond marriage, Alfred and Edward, were, immediately upon Ethelred's death, conveyed into Normandy by Queen Emma.

3.2. EDMOND Ironſide.

THIS prince, who received the name of Ironſide from his hardy valour, poſſeſſed courage and abilities ſufficient to have ſaved his country from ſinking into theſe calamities, but not to raiſe it from that abyſs of miſery into which it had already fallen. Among the other misfortunes of the Engliſh, treachery and diſaffection had crept in among the nobility and prelates; and Edmond found no better expedient to prevent the farther progreſs of theſe fatal evils, than to lead his army inſtantly into the field, and to employ them againſt the common enemy. After meeting with ſome ſucceſs at Gillingham, he prepared himſelf in one general engagement to decide the fate of his crown, and at Scoerſton, in the county of Gloceſter, he offered battle to the enemy, who were commanded by Canute and Edric. Fortune in the beginning of the day declared for him; but Edric, having cut off the head of one Oſmer, whoſe countenance reſembled that of Edmond, he fixed it on a ſpear, carried it thro' the ranks in triumph, and called aloud to the Engliſh, that it was time for them to fly; for behold! the head of their ſovereign§. And tho' Edmond, obſerving the conſternation of the troops, took off his helmet{inverted †}, and ſhowed himſelf to them, the utmoſt he could gain by his activity and valour was to leave the victory undecided. Edric took now a ſurer method to ruin him, by pretending to deſert to him; and as Edmond was well acquainted with his power, and probably knew no other of [Page 105] the chief nobility in whom he could repoſe more confidence, he was obliged, notwithſtanding his repeated perfidy, to give him a conſiderable command in his army*. A battle ſoon after enſued at Aſſington in Eſſex; where Edric, flying in the beginning of the day, occaſioned the total defeat of the Engliſh, followed by a great ſlaughter of the nobility. The indefatigable Edmond, however, had ſtill reſources; and aſſembling a new army at Gloceſter, was again in a condition to diſpute the field; when the Daniſh and Engliſh nobility, equally harraſſed with theſe convulſions, obliged their kings to come to a compromiſe, and to divide the kingdom between them by treaty. Canute reſerved to himſelf the northern diviſion of Mercia, Eaſt-Anglia, and Northumberland, which he had entirely ſubdued: The ſouthern parts were left to Edmond. This prince ſurvived the treaty about a month; and was murdered at Oxford by two of his chamberlains, accomplices of Edric, who thereby made way for the ſucceſſion of Canute the Dane to the crown of England.

3.3. CANUTE the Great.

year 1017 THE Engliſh, who had been unable to defend their country, and maintain their independency, under ſo active and brave a prince as Edmond, could, after his death, expect nothing but total ſubjection from Canute, who, active and brave himſelf, was at the head of a great force, and was ready to take advantage of the minority of Edwin and Edward, the two ſons of Edmond. Yet this conqueror, who was commonly ſo little ſcrupulous, ſhowed himſelf anxious to cover his injuſtice under plauſible pretences; and before he ſeized the dominions of the Engliſh princes, he ſummoned a general aſſembly of the ſtates of England, in order to fix the ſucceſſion of the kingdom. He here ſuborned ſome nobles to depoſe, that, in the treaty of Gloceſter, it was agreed, that, in caſe of Edmond's death, Canute ſhould either be his ſucceſſor in his dominions, or be tutor to his children § (for hiſtorians vary in this particular): And this evidence, ſupported by the great power of Canute, determined the ſtates immediately to put the Daniſh monarch in poſſeſſion of the government. Canute, jealous of the two young princes, but ſenſible that he ſhould render himſelf extremely odious, if he [Page 106] ordered them to be diſpatched in England, ſent them abroad to his ally, the King of Sweden, whom he deſired, ſo ſoon as they arrived at his court, to rid him, by their death, of all farther anxiety. The Swediſh monarch was too generous to comply with this requeſt; but being afraid to draw on himſelf a quarrel with Canute, by protecting the Engliſh princes, he ſent them to Solomon, King of Hungary, to be educated in his court*. The elder, Edwin, was afterwards married to Solomon's ſiſter; but dying without iſſue, that prince gave his ſiſter-in-law, Agatha, daughter of the Emperor Henry II. in marriage to Edward, the younger brother; and ſhe bore him Edgar Atheling, Margaret, afterwards Queen of Scotland, and Chriſtina, who retired into a convent.

CANUTE, tho' he had reached his great point of ambition, in obtaining poſſeſſion of the Engliſh crown, was obliged at firſt to make great ſacrifices to it; and to gratify the chief of the nobility, by beſtowing on them the moſt extenſive governments and juriſdictions. He created Thurkill earl or duke of Eaſt-Anglia, for theſe titles were then nearly of the ſame import) Yric of Northumberland, and Edric of Mercia; reſerving only to himſelf the adminiſtration of Weſſex. But ſeizing afterwards a favourable opportunity, he expelled Thurkill and Yric from their governments, and baniſhed them the kingdom: He put to death many of the Engliſh nobility, on whoſe fidelity he could not rely, and whom he hated on account of their infidelity to their native prince: And even the traitor, Edric, having had the aſſurance to reproach him with his ſervices, was condemned to be executed, and his body to be thrown into the Thames; a ſuitable reward for his multiplied acts of perfidy and rebellion§.

CANUTE alſo found himſelf obliged, in the beginning of his reign, to load the people with heavy taxes, in order to reward his Daniſh followers; and he exacted from them at one time the ſum of 72,000 pounds; beſides 11,000 pounds, which he levied from London alone{inverted †}. He was probably willing, from political motives, to mulct ſeverely that city, on account of its affectionate adhering to Edmond, and its reſiſting, during the late reign, the Daniſh power in two obſtinate ſieges*. But theſe rigors were imputed to neceſſity; and Canute, like a wiſe prince, was [Page 107] determined, that the Engliſh people, now deprived of all their dangerous leaders, ſhould be reconciled to the Daniſh yoke, by the juſtice and equality of his adminiſtration*. He ſent back to Denmark as many of his followers as he could ſafely ſpare: He reſtored the Saxon cuſtoms in a general aſſembly of the ſtates of the kingdom: He made no diſtinction between Danes and Engliſh in the diſtribution of juſtice: And he took care, by a ſtrict execution of law, to protect the lives and properties of all his people. The Danes were gradually incorporated with his new ſubjects; and both were glad to breathe a little from thoſe multiplied calamities, from which the one, no leſs than the other, had, in their fierce conteſt for power, experienced ſuch fatal conſequences.

THE removal of Edmond's children into ſo diſtant a country as Hungary, was, next to their death, regarded by Canute as the greateſt ſecurity of his government; and he had no farther anxiety, except with regard to Alfred and Edward, who were protected and ſupported by their uncle, Richard, duke of Normandy. Richard even fitted out a great armament, in order to reſtore the Engliſh princes to the throne of their anceſtors; and tho' the navy was diſperſed by a ſtorm, Canute ſaw the danger to which he was expoſed, from the animoſity of ſo warlike a people as the Normans. In order to acquire the friendſhip of the duke, he paid his addreſſes to Queen Emma, the ſiſter of that prince; and promiſed, that he would leave the children whom he ſhould have by that marriage, in poſſeſſion of the crown of England. Richard complied with his demand, and ſent over Emma to England, where ſhe was ſoon after married to Canute. The Engliſh, tho' they diſapproved of her eſpouſing the mortal enemy of her former huſband and his family, were pleaſed to find at court a ſovereign to whom they were accuſtomed, and who had already formed connexions with them: And thus Canute, beſides ſecuring, by his marriage, the alliance of Normandy, gradually acquired, by the ſame means, the confidence of his own people§. The Norman prince ſurvived not long the marriage of Emma; and he left the inheritance of the dutchy to his eldeſt ſon of the ſame name; who, dying a year after him without children, was ſucceeded by his brother Robert, a man of valour and ability.

CANUTE, having ſettled his power in England beyond all danger of a revolution, made a voyage to Denmark, where he was attacked by the King of Sweden; and he carried along with him a great body of the Engliſh, under the command of earl Godwin. This nobleman had here an opportunity of performing a ſervice, [Page 108] by which he both reconciled the King's mind to the Engliſh nation, and gaining to himſelf the friendſhip of that prince, laid the foundation of that immenſe fortune which he a [...]ired to his family. He was ſtationed next the Swediſh camp; and obſerving a favourable opportunity, which he was obliged ſuddenly to ſeize, he attacked the enemy in the night, drove them from their trenches, threw them into diſorder, purſued his advantage, and obtained a deciſive victory over them. Next morning, Canute, ſeeing the Engliſh camp entirely abandoned, imagined that theſe diſaffected troops had deſerted to the enemy; and he was agreeably ſurpriſed to find that they were at that time engaged in purſuit of the diſcomfited Swedes*. He was ſo pleaſed with this ſucceſs, and the manner of obtaining it, that he beſtowed his daughter in marriage upon Godwin, and treated him ever after with the moſt entire confidence and regard.

year 1028 IN another voyage, which he made afterwards to Denmark, Canute attacked Norway, and expelled the juſt, but unwarlike Olaus, from his kingdom, of which he retained poſſeſſion till the death of that prince. He had now by his conqueſts and valour attained the utmoſt height of his ambition; and having leiſure from wars and intrigues, he felt the unſatisfactory nature of all human enjoyments; and equally weary of the glories and turmoils of this life, he began to caſt his view towards that future exiſtence, which it is ſo natural for the human mind, whether ſatiated by proſperity or diſguſted with adverſity, to make the object of its attention. Unfortunately, the ſpirit which prevailed in that age gave a wrong direction to his devotion; and inſtead of making atonement to thoſe whom he had injured by his former acts of violence, he employed himſelf entirely in thoſe exerciſes of piety, which the monks repreſented as the moſt meritorious. He built churches, he endowed monaſteries, he enriched the eccleſiaſtics, and he beſtowed revenues for the ſupport of chantries at Aſſington and other places, where he appointed prayers to be ſaid for the ſouls of thoſe who had there fallen in battle againſt him. He even undertook a pilgrimage to Rome§, where he ſojourned a conſiderable time; and beſides obtaining from the Pope ſome privileges for the Engliſh ſchool erected there, he engaged all the princes through whoſe dominions he was obliged to paſs, to deſiſt from thoſe heavy impoſitions and tolls, which [Page 109] they were accuſtomed to exact from the Engliſh pilgrims*. By this ſpirit of devotion, no leſs than by hi equitable and politic adminiſtration, be gained, in a good meaſure, the affections of his ſubjects.

CANUTE, who was the greateſt and moſt powerful prince of his time, ſovereign of Denmark and Norway, as well as of England, could not fail to meet with adulation from his courtiers; a tribute which is liberally paid even to the meaneſt and weakeſt princes. Some of his flatterers, breaking out, one day, in admiration of his grandeur, excl [...]med that every thing was poſſible for him: Upon which the monarch, it is ſaid, ordered his chair to be ſet on the ſea ſhore, while the tide was making; and as the waters approached, he commanded them to retire, and to obey the voice of him who was lord of the ocean. He feigned to ſit ſome time in expectation of their ſubmiſſion; but when the ſea ſtill advanced towards him, and began to waſh him with its billows, he turned to his courtiers, and remarked to them, that every creature in the univerſe was feeble and impotent, and that power reſided with one Being alone, in whoſe hands were all the elements of nature, who could ſay to the ocean, Thus far ſhalt thou go, and no farther, and who could level with his nod the moſt towering piles of human pride and ambition.

year 1031 THE only memorable action which Canute performed after his return from Rome, was an expedition againſt Malcolm, King of Scotland. During the reign of Ethelred, there had been impoſed a tax of a ſhiiling a hide on all the lands of England, which was commonly called Danegelt; becauſe the revenue had been employed, either in buying peace of the Danes, or in making preparations againſt the inroads of that hoſtile nation. That prince had required, that the ſame tax ſhould be paid by the lands of Cumberland, which were held by the Scots; but Malcolm, a warlike prince, told him, that, as he was always able to repulſe the Danes by his own power, he would neither ſubmit to buy peace of his enemies, nor pay others for reſiſting them. Ethelred, offended at this reply, which contained a ſecret reproach of his own conduct, undertook an expedition againſt Cumberland; and tho' he committed ravages upon the country, he could never bring Malcolm to a temper more ſubmiſſive or compliant. Canute, after his acceſſion, ſummoned the Scots King to acknowledge himſelf a vaſſal for Cumberland to the crown of England; but Malcolm refuſed compliance, on pretence [Page 110] that he owed this ſubmiſſion only to thoſe princes, who by right of blood inherited that kingdom. Canute was not of a temper to bear this inſult; and the King of Scotland ſoon found, that the ſceptre was in very different hands from thoſe of the feeble and irreſolute Ethelred. Upon Canute's appearing on his frontiers with a formidable army, Malcolm agreed, that his grandſon and heir, Duncan, whom he put in poſſeſſion of Cumberland, ſhould make the ſubmiſſions required, and that the heirs of Scotland ſhould always acknowledge themſelves vaſſals to England for that province*.

CAN [...] paſſed four years in peace after this enterprize, and he died at Shaftſbury; leaving three ſons behind him, Sweyn, Harold, and Hardicanute. Sweyn, whom he had by his firſt marriage with Alfwen, daughter of the earl of Hampſhire, was crowned in Norway: Hardicanute, whom Emma had born him, was in poſſeſſion of Denmark: Harold, who was of the ſame marriage with Sweyn, was at that time in England.

3.4. HAROLD Harefoot.

year 1035 THO' Canute, in his treaty with Richard, duke of Normandy, had ſtipulated, that his children by Emma ſhould ſucceed to the crown of England, he had either thought himſelf freed from that engagement by the death of Richard, or eſteemed it dangerous to leave an unſettled and newly conquered kingdom in the hands of ſo young a prince as Hardicanute; and he therefore appointed, by his will, Harold ſucceſſor to the crown. This prince was beſides upon the ſpot; he was favoured by all the Danes; and he got immediately poſſeſſion of his father's treaſures, which might be equally uſeful, whether he found it neceſſary to proceed by force or intrigue, in inſuring his ſucceſſion§. On the other hand, Hardicanute had the ſuffrages of the Engliſh, who, on account of his being born among them of Queen Emma, regarded him as their countryman; he was favoured by the articles of treaty with the duke of Normandy; and above all, his party was eſpouſed by earl Godwin, the moſt powerful nobleman in the kingdom, eſpecially in the provinces of Weſſex, the chief ſeat of the antient Engliſh{inverted †}. Affairs were likely to come to a civil war; when, by the interpoſition of the nobility [Page 111] of both parties, a compromiſe was made; and it was agreed, that Harold ſhould enjoy, together with London, all the provinces north of the Thames, while the poſſeſſion of the ſouth ſhould remain to Hardicanute: And till that prince ſhould appear and take poſſeſſion of his dominions, Emma ſixed her reſidence at Wincheſter, and eſtabliſhed her authority over her ſon's ſhare of the partition*.

MEAN while, Robert, duke of Normandy, died in a pilgrimage to the holy land, and being ſucceeded by a ſon, yet a minor, the two Engliſh princes, Alfred and Edward, who ſound no longer any countenance or protection in that country, gladly embraced the opportunity of paying a viſit, with a numerous retinue, to their mother Emma, who ſeemed to be placed in a ſtate of ſo much power and ſplendor at Wincheſter. But the face of affairs ſoon wore a more melancholy aſpect. Earl Godwin had been gained by the arts of Harold, who gave him hopes, that he would eſpouſe his daughter; and while the treaty was yet a ſecret, theſe two tyrants laid a plan for the deſtruction of the Engliſh princes. Alfred was invited to London by Harold with many profeſſions of friendſhip; but when he had reached Guilford, he was ſet upon by Godwin's vaſſals, about ſix hundred of his train were murdered in the moſt cruel manner, he himſelf was taken priſoner, his eyes were put out, and he was conducted to the monaſtery of Ely, where he died ſoon after. Edward and Emma, apprized of the fate, which was awaiting them, fled beyond ſea, the former into Normandy, the latter into Flanders: While Harold, triumphing in his bloody policy, took poſſeſſion, without reſiſtance, of all the dominions aſſigned to his brother.

THIS is the only memorable action, performed, during a reign of four years, by this prince, who gave ſo bad a ſpecimen of his character, and whoſe bodily accompliſhments alone are known to us, by his appellation of Harefoot, which he acquired from his agility in running and walking. He died the 14th of April, 1039; very little regretted or eſteemed by his ſubjects; and left the ſucceſſion open to his brother, Hardicanute.


year 1039 HARDICANUTE, or Canute the Hardy, that is, the Robuſt (for he too is chiefly known by his bodily accompliſhments) tho', by remaining ſo long [Page 112] in Denmark he had been deprived of his ſhare in the partition of the kingdom, had not abandoned his pretenſio [...]s, and had determined, before Harold's death, to recover by arms, what he had loſt, either by his own negligence, or by the neceſſity of his affairs Under pretence of paying a viſit to the Queen Dowager in Flanders, he had aſſembled a fleet of ſixty ſail, and was preparing to make a deſcent on England*, when intelligence of his brother's death, induced him to ſail immediately to London, where he was received in triumph, and acknowledged King without oppoſition.

THE firſt act of Hardicanute's government afforded the Engliſh a very bad prognoſtic of his future cond [...]ct. He was ſo enraged at Harold, for depriving him of his ſhare of the kingdom, and for murdering his brother, Alfred, that, in an impotent deſire of revenge againſt the dead, he ordered his body to be dug up, and to be thrown into the Thames: And when it was found by ſome fiſhermen, and buried in London, he ordered it again to be dug up, and to be thrown again into the Thames: But it was fiſh d up a ſecond time, and then interred with great ſecrecy. Godwin, equa [...]ly ſervile and inſolent, ſubmitted to be his inſtrument, in this unnatural and brutal action.

THAT nobleman knew, that he was univerſally believed to have been an accomplete in Alfred's death, and that he was on that account very obnoxious to the King; and perhaps he thought, by diſplaying this rage againſt Harold's memory, to juſtify himſelf from hav ng had any participation in his counſels. But prince Edward, bei [...]g invited over by the King his half brother, immediately on his appearance, entered an accuſation againſt Godwin for the murder of Alfred, and demanded juſtice upon him for that act of barbarity. Godwin, in order to appeaſe the King, made him a magnificent preſent of a galley with a gilt ſtern, rowed by fourſcore men, who were each of them a gold bracelet on his arm, weighing ſixteen ounces, and was armed and cloathed in the moſt ſumptuous manner. Hardicanute, pleaſed with the ſplendor of this ſpectacle, quickly forgot his brother's murder; and on Godwin's ſwearing that he was innocent of that crime, he allowed him to be acquitted.

THO' Hardicanute, before his acceſſion, had been called over by the vows of the Engliſh, he ſoon loſt the affections of the nation by his miſconduct; but nothing appeared more grievous to them, than his renewing the impoſition of Danegelt, [Page 113] and obliging the nation to pay a great ſum of money to the fleet, which brought him over from Denmark. The diſcontents went high in many places; and in Worceſter the populace roſe, and put to death two of the collectors*. The King, enraged at this oppoſition, ſwore vengeance againſt the city, and ordered three noblemen, Godwin, duke of Weſſex, Siward, duke of Northumberland, and Leofric, duke of Mercia, to execute his menaces with the utmoſt rigor. They were obliged to ſet fire to the city, and deliver it up to be plundered by their ſoldiers; but they ſaved the lives of the inhabitants; whom they confined in a ſmall iſland of the Severn, called Beverey, till, by their interceſſion, they were able to appeaſe the King, and obtain the pardon of the ſupplicants.

THIS violent government was of very ſhort duration. Hardicanute died in two years after his acceſſion, at the marriage of a Daniſh lord, which he had honoured with his preſence. His uſual habits of intemperance and gluttony were ſo well known, that, notwithſtanding his robuſt conſtitution, his ſudden death gave as little ſurprize, as it did ſorrow, to his ſubjects.

3.6. EDWARD the Confeſſor.

year 1041 THE Engliſh, on the death of Hardicanute, ſaw a favourable opportunity offered for recovering their liberty, and for ſhaking off the Daniſh yoke, under which they had ſo long laboured. Sweyn, King of Norway, the eldeſt ſon of Canute, was abſent; and as the two laſt kings had died without iſſue, there appeared none of that race, whom the Danes could ſupport as ſucceſſor to the throne. Prince Edward was fortunately at court on his brother's demiſe; and tho' the deſcendants of Edmond Ironſide were the true heirs of the Saxon family, yet their abſence in ſo remote a country as Hungary, appeared a ſufficient reaſon for their excluſion to a people like the Engliſh, ſo little accuſtomed to obſerve a regular order in the ſucceſſion of their monarchs. All delays might be dangerous; and the preſent occaſion muſt haſtily be embraced; while the Danes, without concert, without a leader, aſtoniſhed at the preſent incident, and anxious only for their perſonal ſafety, dared not to oppoſe the united voice of the whole nation.

BUT this concurrence of circumſtances in Edward's favour might have failed of its effect, had his ſucceſſion been oppoſed by Godwin, whoſe power, alliances. and abilities gave him a great influence at all times, much more in thoſe ſudden [Page 114] emergencies, which always attend a revolution of government, and which, either ſeized or neglected, commonly prove ſo deciſive. There were circumſtances, which divided men's hopes and fears with regard to their expectations of Godwin's conduct. On the one hand, the credit of that nobleman lay chiefly in Weſſex, which was almoſt entirely peopled with Engliſh; and it was therefore preſumed, that he would ſecond the wiſhes of his people, in reſtoring the Saxon line, and in humbling the Danes, from whom he, as well as they, had reaſon to dread, as they had already felt, the moſt grievous oppreſſions. On the other hand, there ſubſiſted a declared animoſity between Edward and Godwin, on account of Alfred's murder; of which the latter had publicly been accuſed by the prince, and which he might believe ſo deep an offence, as could never, on account of any ſubſequent merits, be ſincerely pardoned. But their common friends here interpoſed; and repreſenting the neceſſity of their good correſpondence, obliged them to lay aſide all jealouſy and rancour, and concur in reſtoring liberty to their native country. Godwin only ſtipulated, that Edward, as a pledge of his ſincere reconcilement, ſhould promiſe to marry his daughter, Editha*; and having fortified himſelf by this alliance, he ſummoned at Gillingham a general council of the nation, and prepared every meaſure for ſecuring the ſucceſſion to Edward. The Engliſh were unanimous and zealous in their reſolutions; the Danes were divided and diſpirited: Any ſmall oppoſition, which appeared in this aſſembly, was brow-beaten and ſuppreſſed; and Edward was crowned King, with the higheſt demonſtrations of duty and affection.

THE triumph of the Engliſh, upon this ſignal and deciſive advantage, was at firſt attended with ſome inſult and violence againſt the Danes; but the new King, by the mildneſs of his character, ſoon reconciled the latter to his adminiſtration, and the diſtinction between the two nations gradually diſappeared. They were interſperſed with the Engliſh in moſt of the provinces; they ſpoke nearly the ſame tongue; they differed little in their manners and laws; the prevalence of domeſtic diſſenſions in Denmark prevented, for a long time, any powerful invaſion from thence, which might awaken their animoſities; and as the Norman conqueſt, which enſued ſoon after, reduced both nations to equal ſubjection, there is no farther mention in our hiſtories of any difference between them. The joy, however, of their preſent deliverance made ſuch impreſſion on the minds of the [Page 115] Engliſh, that they inſtituted an annual feſtival for celebrating that great event; and it was obſerved in ſome counties, even to the age of Spellman*.

THE popularity, which Edward enjoyed on his acceſſion, was not deſtroyed by the firſt act of his adminiſtration, the reſuming all the grants of his immediate predeceſſors; an attempt, which is commonly attended with the moſt dangerous conſequences. The poverty of the crown convinced the nation, that this act of violence was become abſolutely neceſſary; and as the loſs fell chiefly on the Danes, who had obtained large grants from the late Kings, their countrymen, on account of their ſervices in ſubduing the kingdom, the Engliſh were rather pleaſed to ſee them reduced to their primitive poverty. The King's ſeverity alſo towards his mother the Queen dowager, tho' expoſed to ſome more cenſure, met not with very general diſapprobation. He had hitherto lived on very indifferent terms with that princeſs: He accuſed her of neglecting him and his brother during their adverſe fortune: He remarked, that as the ſuperior qualities of Canute, and his better treatment of her, had made her entirely indifferent to the memory of Ethelred, ſhe alſo gave the preference to her children of the ſecond bed, and always regarded Hardicanute as her favourite. The ſame reaſons had probably made her unpopular in England; and tho' her benefactions to the monks obtained her the favour of that order, the nation was not, in general, diſpleaſed to ſee her ſtripped by Edward of immenſe treaſures which ſhe had amaſſed. He confined her, during the remainder of her life, to a monaſtery in Wincheſter; but carried no farther his rigor againſt her. The ſtories of his accuſing her of a participation in her ſon, Alfred's murder, and of a criminal correſpondence with the biſhop of Wincheſter, and alſo of her juſtifying herſelf by treading unhurt with her bare feet over nine burning plow-ſhares, were the inventions of the monkiſh hiſtorians, and were propagated and believed from the ſilly wonder of poſterity§.

THE Engliſh flattered themſelves, that, by the acceſſion of Edward, they were delivered for ever from the dominion of foreigners; but they ſoon found, that that evil was not yet entirely removed. The King had been educated in Normandy; and had contracted many intimacies with the natives of that country, as well as an affection to their manners{inverted †}. The court of England was ſoon filled with Normans, who being diſtinguiſhed, both by the favour of Edward, and by a degree of cultivation ſomewhat ſuperior to that of the Engliſh in thoſe ages, ſoon [Page 116] rendered their language, cuſtoms and laws faſhionable in the kingdom. The ſtudy of the French tongue became general among the people. The courtiers affected to imitate that nation in their dreſs, equipage, and entertainments: Even the lawyers employed a foreign language in their deeds and papers*: But above all, the church felt the influence and dominion of theſe ſtrangers: Ulf and William, two Normans, who had formerly been the King's chaplains, were created biſhops of Dorcheſter and London. Robert was promoted to the ſee of Canterbury, and always enjoyed the higheſt favour of his maſter, of which his abilities rendered him not unworthy. And tho' the King's prudence or his want of authority, made him confer almoſt all the civil and military employments on the natives, the eccleſiaſtical preferments fell often to the ſhare of the Normans; and as the latter poſſeſſed Edward's confidence, they had ſecretly a great influence on public affairs, and excited the jealouſy of the Engliſh, particularly of earl Godwin.

THIS powerful nobleman, beſides being duke or earl of Weſſex, had, annexed to his government, the counties of Kent and Suſſex. His eldeſt ſon, Swayn, poſſeſſed the ſame authority in the counties of Oxford, Berks, Gloceſter and Hereford: And Harold, his ſecond ſon, was duke of Eaſt-Anglia, augmented by the government of Eſſex. The exorbitant authority of this family was ſupported by immenſe poſſeſſions and powerful alliances; and the abilities, as well as ambition, of Godwin himſelf contributed to render it ſtill more dangerous. A prince of greater capacity and vigour than Edward would have found it difficult to ſupport the dignity of the crown under ſuch circumſtances; and as the haughty temper of Godwin made him often forget the reſpect, due to his prince, Edward's animoſity againſt him was grounded on perſonal as well as political conſiderations, on recent as well as more antient injuries. The King, in purſuance of his engagements, had indeed married Editha, the daughter of Godwin§; but this alliance became rather the ſource of enmity between them. Edward's hatred of the father was transferred to that princeſs; and Editha, tho' poſſeſſed of many amiable accompliſhments, never could acquire the confidence and affection of her huſband. It is even pretended, that, during the whole courſe of his life, he abſtained from all commerce of love with her; and ſuch was the abſurd admiration, paid to an inviolable chaſtity, during thoſe ages, that his conduct [Page 117] in this particular is highly celebrated by the monkiſh hiſtorians, and contributed to his acquiring the title of ſaint and confeſſor*. year 1048

THE moſt popular pretence, on which Godwin could ground his diſcontents againſt the King and his adminiſtration, was to complain of the influence of the Normans in the government; and a declared oppoſition had thence ariſen between him and theſe favourites. It was not long before this animoſity broke out into action. Euſtace, count of Bologne, having paid a viſit to the King, paſſed by Dover on his return; and one of his train, being refuſed acceſs to a lodging, which had been aſſigned him, attempted to make his way by force, and he wounded the maſter of the houſe in the conteſt. The townſman revenged this inſult by the death of the ſtranger; the count and his train took arms, and murdered the townſman within his own houſe; a tumult enſued; near twenty perſons were killed on each ſide; and Euſtace, being overpowered with numbers, was obliged by flight to ſave his life from the fury of the populace. He hurried immediately to court; complained of the uſage he had met with; the King entered zealouſly into the quarrel, and reſented that a ſtranger of ſuch diſtinction, whom he had invited over to his court, ſhould, without any juſt cauſe, as he believed, have felt ſo ſenſibly the inſolence and animoſity of his people. He gave orders to Godwin, in whoſe government Dover lay, to go immediately to the place, and to puniſh the inhabitants for the crime: But Godwin, who deſired rather to encourage, than repreſs, the popular diſcontent againſt foreigners, refuſed obedience, and endeavoured to throw the whole blame on the count of Boulogne, and his retinue. Edward, touched in ſo ſenſible a point, ſaw the neceſſity of exerting the royal authority; and he threatened Godwin, if he perſiſted in his diſobedience, to make him feel the utmoſt effects of his reſentment.

THE earl, perceiving a rupture to be unavoidable, and pleaſed to embark in a cauſe, where he was likely to be ſupported by his countrymen, prepared for his own defence, or rather for an attack on Edward; and under pretence of repreſſing ſome diſorders on the Welſh frontier, he ſecretly aſſembled a great army, and was approaching the King, who reſided, without any military force, and without ſuſpicion, at Gloceſter. Edward then applied for protection to Siward, duke of Northumberland, and Leofric, duke of Mercia, two powerful noblemen, whoſe jealouſy of Godwin's greatneſs, as well as their duty to the crown, engaged them [Page 118] to defend the King in this extremity. They haſtened to him with ſuch of their followers as they could aſſemble on the ſudden; and finding the danger ſtill greater than they had apprehended, they iſſued orders for muſtering all the forces within their government, and for marching them without delay to the defence of the king's perſon and authority*. Edward, mean while, endeavoured to protract time by negotiation; while Godwin, who thought the King entirely in his power, and who was willing to ſave appearances, fell into the ſnare; and not ſenſible, that he ought to have no farther reſerve after he had proceeded ſo far, he loſt the favourable opportunity of rendering himſelf maſter of the government.

THE Engliſh, tho' they had not a very high idea of Edward's vigour and capacity, bore him great affection on account of his humanity, juſtice, and piety, as well as of the long race of their native kings, from whom he was deſcended; and they haſtened from all quarters to defend him from the preſent danger. His army was now ſo conſiderable, that he ventured to take the field; and marching to London, he ſummoned a great council of the kingdom, to judge of the rebellion of Godwin and his ſons. Theſe noblemen pretended at firſt that they were willing to ſtand their trial; but having in vain endeavoured to make their adherents perſiſt in rebellion, they offered to come to London, provided they might receive hoſtages for their ſafety; and this propoſal being rejected, they were obliged to diſband the remains of their forces, and to have recourſe to flight. Baldwin, earl of Flanders, gave protection to Godwin and his three ſons, Gurth, Sweyn, and Toſti; the latter of whom had married the daughter of that prince: Harold and Leofwin, two others of his ſons, took ſhelter in Ireland§. The eſtates of the father and ſons were confiſcated: Their governments were given to others: Queen Editha was confined to a monaſtery at Warewel: And the greatneſs of this family, once ſo formidable, ſeemed now to be totally ſupplanted and overthrown.

BUT Godwin had fixed his authority on too firm a baſis, and he was too ſtrongly ſupported by alliances both abroad and at home, not to occaſion farther diſturbances, and make new efforts for his re-eſtabliſhment. year 1052 The earl of Flanders allowed him to purchaſe and hire ſhips within his harbours; and Godwin, having manned them with his followers, and with free-booters of all nations, put to ſea, and attempted to make a deſcent at Sandwich. The King, informed of [Page 119] his preparations, had equipped a conſiderable fleet, much ſuperior to that of the enemy; and the earl haſtily, before their appearance, made his retreat into the Flemiſh harbours*. The Engliſh court, allured by the preſent ſecurity, and devoid of all vigorous councils, allowed the ſeamen to diſband, and the fleet to go to decay; while Godwin, expecting this event, kept his men in a readineſs for action. He put to ſea immediately, and ſailed to the Iſle of Wight, where he was joined by Harold with a ſquadron, which that nobleman had collected in Ireland. He was now maſter of the ſea; and entering every harbour in the ſouthern coaſt, he ſeized all the ſhips, and ſummoned his followers in thoſe counties, which had ſo long been ſubjected to his government, to aſſiſt him in procuring juſtice to himſelf, his family, and his country, againſt the tyranny of foreigners. Reinforced by great numbers from all quarters, he entered the Thames; and appearing at London, threw every thing into confuſion. The King alone ſeemed reſolute to defend himſelf to the laſt extremity; but the interpoſition of the Engliſh nobility, many of whom favoured Godwin's pretenſions, made Edward hearken to terms of accommodation; and the feigned humility of the earl, who diſclaimed all intentions of offering force to his ſovereign, and deſired only to juſtify himſelf by a fair and open trial, paved the way for his more eaſy admiſſion§. It was ſtipulated, that he ſhould give hoſtages for his good behaviour, and that the primate and all the foreigners ſhould be baniſhed{inverted †}: And by this treaty, the preſent danger of a civil war was obviated, but the authority of the crown was conſiderably impaired, or rather entirely annihilated. Edward, ſenſible that he had not power ſufficient to ſecure Godwin's hoſtages in England, ſent them over to his kinſman, the young duke of Nomandy*.

year 1053 GODWIN's death, which happened ſoon after, while he was ſitting at table with the King, prevented him from eſtabliſhing fully the exorbitant authority which he had acquired, and from reducing Edward to ſtill greater ſubjection. He was ſucceeded in the government of Weſſex, Suſſex, Kent, and Eſſex, and in the office of ſteward of the houſehold, a place of great power, by his ſon, [Page 120] Harold, who was actuated by an ambition equal to that of his father, and was ſuperior to him in addreſs, in inſinuation, and in virtue. By a modeſt and gentle demeanour, he acquired the good-will of Edward; at leaſt, ſoftened that hatred which the prince had ſo long borne his family*; and acquiring every day new partizans by his bounty and affability, he proceeded, in a more ſilent, and therefore a more dangerous manner, to the increaſe of his authority. The King, who had not ſufficient vigour directly to oppoſe his progreſs, knew of no other expedient than that hazardous one, of raiſing him a rival in the family of Leofric, duke of Mercia, whoſe ſon, Algar, was inveſted in the government of Eaſt-Anglia, which, before the baniſhment of Harold, had belonged to this latter nobleman. But this policy, of balancing oppoſite parties, required a more ſteady hand to manage it than that of Edward, and naturally produced faction, and even civil broils, among nobles of ſuch mighty and independent authority. Algar was ſoon after expelled his government by the intrigues and power of Harold; but being protected by Griffith, prince of Wales, who had married his daughter, as well as by the power of his father, Leofric, he obliged Harold to ſubmit to an accommodation, and was re-inſtated in the government of Eaſt-Anglia. This peace was not of long continuance: Harold, taking advantage of Leofric's death, which happened ſoon after, expelled Algar anew, and baniſhed him the kingdom: And tho' that nobleman made a freſh irruption into Eaſt-Anglia with an army of Norwegians, and over-run the country, his death, a ſhort time after, freed Harold from the pretenſions of ſo dangerous a rival. Edward, his eldeſt ſon, was indeed advanced to the government of Mercia; but the balance, which the King deſired to eſtabliſh between theſe powerful families, was entirely loſt, and the influence of Harold entirely preponderated.

year 1055 THE death of Siward, duke of Northumberland, made the way ſtill more open to the ambition of that nobleman. Siward, beſides his other merits, had acquired honour to England, by his ſucceſsful conduct of the only foreign enterprize which was undertaken during the reign of Edward. Duncan, King of Scotland, was a prince of a very gentle diſpoſition, but poſſeſſed not vigor ſuſficient to govern a country ſo turbulent, and ſo much infeſted by the intrigues and animoſities of the great. Macbeth, a powerful nobleman, and nearly allied to the crown, not contented with curbing the King's authority, carried farther his peſtilent ambition: He put his ſovereign to death; chaced Malcolm Kenmure, [Page 121] his ſon and heir, into England; and uſurped the crown. Siward, whoſe daughter was married to Duncan, embraced, by Edward's orders, the protection of this diſtreſſed family: He marched an army into Scotland; and having defeated and killed Macbeth in battle, he reſtored Malcolm to the throne of his anceſtors*. This ſervice, added to his former connexions with the royal family of Scotland, brought great acceſſion to the authority of Siward in the north; but as he had loſt his eldeſt ſon, Oſbern, in the action with Macbeth, it proved in the iſſue fatal to his family. His ſecond ſon, Walthoef, appeared, on his father's death, too young to be entruſted with the government of Northumberland; and Harold's influence obtained that dukedom to his brother, Toſti.

THERE are two circumſtances related of Siward, which diſcover his high ſenſe of honour and his martial diſpoſition. When intelligence was brought him of his ſon Oſbern's death, he was inconſolable; till he heard, that the wound was received in the breaſt, and that he had behaved with great gallantry in the action. When he found his own death approaching, he ordered his ſervants to cloathe him in a compleat ſuit of armour; and ſitting erect on the couch, with a ſpear in his hand, declared, that, in that poſture, the only one worthy of a warrior, he would patiently await the fatal moment.

THE King, now worn with cares and infirmities, felt himſelf far advanced in the decline of life; and having no iſſue himſelf, began to think of fixing a ſucceſſor to the kingdom. He ſent a deputation into Hungary, to invite over his nephew, Edward, ſon to his elder brother, and the only remaining heir of the Saxon line§. That prince, whoſe ſucceſſion to the crown would have been eaſy and undiſputed, came over to England with his children, Edgar, ſirnamed Atheling, Margaret, and Chriſtina; but his death, which happened a few days after his arrival, threw the King into new difficulties. He ſaw, that the great power and ambition of Harold had tempted him to think of obtaining poſſeſſion of the throne on the firſt vacancy, and that Edgar, on account of his youth and inexperience, was very unfit to oppoſe the pretenſions of ſo popular and enterpriſing a rival. The animoſity which he had long borne earl Godwin, made him averſe to the ſucceſſion of his ſon; and he could not, without extreme reluctance, think of an increaſe of grandeur to a family, which had riſen on the ruins of royal authority, and which, by the murder of Alfred, his brother, had contributed ſo much to the weakening the Saxon line. In this uncertainty, he ſecretly caſt his [Page 122] eye towards his kinſman, William, duke of Normandy, as the only perſon whoſe power, and character, and capacity, could ſupport any deſtination which he might make to the excluſion of Harold, and his family*.

THIS famous prince was natural ſon of Robert, duke of Normandy, by Harlotta, daughter of a tanner in Falaiſe, and was very early eſtabliſhed in that grandeur, from which his birth ſeemed to have ſet him at ſo great a diſtance. While he was but nine years of age, his father had reſolved to undertake a pilgrimage to Jeruſalem; a faſhionable act of devotion, which had taken place of the pilgrimages to Rome, and which, as it was attended with more difficulty and danger, and carried theſe religious adventurers to the firſt ſources of Chriſtianity, appeared to them much more pious and meritorious. Before his departure, he aſſembled the ſtates of the dutchy; and informing them of his purpoſe, he engaged them to ſwear allegiance to his natural ſon, William, whom, as he had no legitimate iſſue, he intended, in caſe he ſhould die in the pilgrimage, to leave ſucceſſor to his dominions. As he was a prudent prince, he could not but forſee the great inconveniencies which muſt attend his journey, and this ſettlement of his ſucceſſion; ariſing from the natural turbulency of the great, the claims from other branches of the ducal family, and the power of the French monarch: But all theſe views were ſuperſeded by the prevailing zeal for pilgrimages; and probably, the more important they were, the more would Robert exult in ſacrificing them to what he imagined to be his religious duty.

THIS prince, as he had apprehended, died in his pilgrimage; and the minority of his ſon was attended with all thoſe inconveniencies, which were unavoidable in his ſituation. The licentious nobles, freed from the awe of ſovereign authority, broke out into perſonal animoſities againſt each other, and made the whole country a ſcene of war and devaſtation§. Roger, count of Toni, and Alain, count of Britanny, advanced pretenſions to the dominion of the ſtate; and Henry I. King of France, thought the opportunity favourable for reducing the power of a vaſſal, who had at firſt acquired his ſettlement in ſuch a violent and invidious manner, and who had long appeared formidable to his ſovereign. The regency eſtabliſhed by Robert found great difficulties in ſupporting the government againſt this complication of dangers; and the young prince, when he came to age, found himſelf reduced to a very low condition. But the great qualities, which he ſoon diſplayed in the field and in the cabinet, gave encouragement to his friends, and ſtruck a terror into his enemies. He oppoſed himſelf on all ſides againſt his rebellious ſubjects, and againſt foreign invaders; and by his valour [Page 123] and conduct prevailed in every action. He forced the French King to grant him peace on reaſonable terms; he expelled all pretenders to the ſovereignty; and he reduced his turbulent barons to pay ſubmiſſion to his authority, and to ſuſpend their mutual animoſities. The natural ſeverity of his temper appeared in a rigorous adminiſtration of juſtice; and having found the happy effects of this plan of government, without which the laws in thoſe ages became totally impotent, he eſtabliſhed it as a fixed maxim, that an inflexible conduct was the firſt duty of a ſovereign.

THE tranquillity which he had eſtabliſhed in his dominions had given William leiſure to pay a viſit to the King of England during the time of Godwin's baniſhment; and he was received in a manner ſuitable to the great reputation which he had acquired, to the relation by which he was connected with Edward, and to the obligations which that prince had owed to his family*. On the return of Godwin, and the expulſion of the Norman favourites, Robert, archbiſhop of Canterbury, had, before his departure, perſuaded Edward to think of adopting William as his ſucceſſor; a council, which was favoured by the King's averſion to Godwin, his prepoſſeſſions towards the Normans, and his eſteem of the duke. That prelate, therefore, received a commiſſion to inform William of the King's intentions in his favour; and he was the firſt perſon who opened the mind of the prince to entertain theſe ambitious hopes. But Edward, irreſolute and feeble in his purpoſe, finding that the Engliſh would more eaſily acquieſce in the reſtoration of the Saxon line, had, in the mean while, invited his brother's deſcendants from Hungary, with a view of having them recognized heirs to the throne. The death of his nephew, and the inexperience and unpromiſing qualities of young Edgar, made him reſume his former intentions in favour of the duke of Normandy; though his averſion to hazardous enterprizes engaged him to poſtpone the execution, and even to keep his purpoſe ſecret from all his miniſters.

HAROLD, mean while, proceeded, after a more open manner, in increaſing his popularity, in eſtabliſhing his power, and in preparing the way for his advancement on the firſt vacancy of the throne; an event which, from the age and infirmities of the King, appeared not very diſtant. But there was ſtill an obſtacle, which it was requiſite for him previouſly to overcome. Earl Godwin, when reſtored to his power and fortune, had given hoſtages for his good behaviour; [Page 124] and among the reſt one ſon and one grandſon, whom Edward, for gr er ſecurity, had ſent over to be kept in Normandy. Harold, tho' he was not aware of the duke's being his competitor, was uneaſy, that ſuch near relations ſhould be detained priſoners in a foreign country; and he was afraid, that William would, in favour of Edgar, retain theſe pledges as a check on the ambition of any other pretender*. He repreſented, therefore, to the King his unfeigned ſubmiſſion to royal authority, his ſteady duty to his prince, and the little neceſſity there was, after ſuch an uniform trial of his obedience, to keep any longer thoſe hoſtages, who had been required on the firſt compoſing of civil diſcords. By theſe topics, enforced by his great power, he extorted the King's conſent to releaſe them; and he immediately proceeded, with a numerous retinue, on his journey to Normandy. A tempeſt drove him on the territory of Guy, count of Ponthieu, who, being informed of his quality, immediately detained him priſoner, and demanded an exorbitant ſum for his ranſom. Harold found means to convey intelligence of his condition to the duke of Normandy; and repreſented, that, while he was proceeding to bis court, in execution of a commiſſion from the King of England, he had met with this harſh treatment from the mercenary diſpoſition of the count of Ponthieu.

WILLIAM was immediately ſenſible of the importance of the incident. He foreſaw, that, if he could once gain Harold, either by favours or menaces, his way to the throne of England would be open, and Edward would meet with no farther obſtacle in executing the favourable intentions which he had entertained in his behalf. He ſent, therefore, an ambaſſador to Guy, in order to demand the liberty of his priſoner; and that nobleman, not daring to refuſe ſo great a prince, put Harold into the hands of the Norman ambaſſador, who conducted him to Roüen. William received him with every demonſtration of reſpect and friendſhip; and after ſhowing himſelf diſpoſed to comply with his deſire, in delivering up the hoſtages, he took an opportunity of diſcloſing to him the great ſecret, of his pretenſions to the crown of England, and of the will which Edward intended to make in his favour. He deſired the aſſiſtance of Harold in perfecting that deſign; he made profeſſions of the utmoſt gratitude in return for ſo great an obligation; he promiſed that the preſent grandeur of Harold's family, which ſupported itſelf with difficulty under the jealouſy and hatred of Edward, ſhould receive new increaſe from a ſucceſſor, who would be ſo ſenſibly beholden [Page 125] to him for his advancement. Harold was ſurprized with this declaration of the duke; but being ſenſible, that he could never recover his own liberty, much leſs that of his brother and nephew, if he refuſed the demand, he feigned a compliance with William, renounced all hopes of the crown for himſelf, and profeſſed his ſincere intention of ſupporting the will of Edward, and ſeconding the pretenſions of the duke of Normandy. William, to tie him faſter to his ſervice, beſides offering him his daughter in marriage*, required him to take an oath, that he would fulfil his promiſes; and in order to render that oath more binding, he employed an artifice, well ſuited to the ignorance and ſuperſtition of the age. He ſecretly conveyed under the altar, on which Harold agreed to ſwear, the reliques of ſome of the moſt reſpected martyrs; and when Harold had taken the oath, he ſhowed him the reliques, and admoniſhed him to obſerve religiouſly an engagement, which had been ratified by ſo tremendous a ſanction. The Engliſh nobleman was aſtoniſhed; but diſſembling his concern, he renewed the ſame profeſſions, and was diſmiſſed with all the marks of mutual confidence by the duke of Normandy.

WHEN Harold found himſelf at liberty, his ambition ſuggeſted caſuiſtry ſufficient to juſtify to him the violation of an oath, which had been extorted from him by fear, and which, if fulfilled, might be attended with the ſubjection of his native country to a foreign power. He continued ſtill to practiſe every art of popularity; to increaſe the number of his partizans; to reconcile the minds of the Engliſh to the idea of his ſucceſſion; to revive their hatred of the Normans; and by an oſtentation of his power and influence, to deter the timorous Edward from executing his intended deſtination in favour of William. Fortune, about this time, threw two incidents in his way, by which he was enabled to acquire general favour, and to increaſe the character, which he had already obtained, of virtue and capacity.

THE Welſh, tho' a leſs formidable enemy than the Danes, had been long accuſtomed to infeſt the weſtern borders; and after committing ſpoil on the low countries, they uſually made a haſty retreat into their mountains, where they were ſheltered from the purſuit of their enemies, and were ready to ſeize the firſt favourable opportunity of renewing their depredations. Griffith, their preſent prince, had much diſtinguiſhed himſelf in theſe incurſions; and his name had become ſo terrible to the Engliſh, that Harold found he could do nothing more [Page 126] acceptable to the public, and more honourable to himſelf, than the ſuppreſſing ſo dangerous an enemy. He formed the plan of an expedition againſt Wales; and having prepared ſome light armed foot to purſue the natives into their faſtneſſes, ſome cavalry to ſcour the open country, and a ſquadron of ſhips to attack the ſea-coaſt, he employed at once all theſe forces againſt the Welſh, proſecuted his advantages with vigour, made no intermiſſion in his aſſaults, and at laſt reduced the enemy to ſuch diſtreſs, that, in order to prevent their total deſtruction, they made a ſacrifice of their prince, whoſe head they cut off, and ſent to Harold; and they were contented to receive as their ſovereigns two Welſh noblemen appointed by Edward to rule over them*.

TOSTI, the elder brother of Harold, had been created duke of Northumberland; but being of a violent, tyrannical temper, had practiſed ſuch cruelty and injuſtice over the inhabitants, that they roſe in rebellion againſt him, and chaced him from his government. Morcar and Edwin, two brothers, who poſſeſſed great power in thoſe quarters, and who were grandſons of the great duke, Leofric, concurred in the inſurrection; and the former, being elected duke, advanced with an army, to oppoſe Harold, who was commiſſioned by the King to reduce and puniſh the Northumbrians. Before the armies came to action, Morcar, well acquainted with the generous diſpoſition of the Engliſh commander, endeavoured to juſtify his conduct; and repreſented to him, that Toſti had behaved in a manner unworthy of the ſtation to which he was advanced, and no one, not even a brother, could ſupport ſuch tyranny, without participating, in ſome degree, of the infamy attending it; that the Northumbrians, accuſtomed to a legal adminiſtration, and regarding it as their birth-right, were willing to ſubmit to the King, but required a governor who would pay regard to their rights and privileges; that they had been taught by their anceſtors, that death was preferable to ſervitude, and had come to the field determined to periſh, rather than bear a renewal of thoſe indignities, to which they had been ſo long expoſed; and they truſted, that Harold, on reflection, would not defend in another that violent conduct, from which, in his own government, he had always kept at ſo great a diſtance. This vigorous remonſtrance was accompanied with ſuch a detail of facts, ſo well ſupported, that Harold found it prudent to abandon his brother's cauſe; and returning to Edward, he perſuaded him to pardon the Northumbrians, and to confirm Morcar in the government. He even married the ſiſter of that [Page 127] nobleman*; and by his intereſt procured Edwin, the younger brother, to be elected into the government of Mercia. Toſti in a rage departed the kingdom, and took ſhelter in Flanders with earl Baldwin, his father-in-law.

By this marriage, Harold broke all meaſures with the duke of Normandy; and William clearly perceived, that he could no longer rely on the oaths and promiſes, which he had extorted from him. But the Engliſh nobleman thought himſelf now in ſuch a ſituation, that it was no longer neceſſary for him to diſſemble. He had in his conduct againſt the Northumbrians, given ſuch a ſpecimen of his moderation as had gained him the affections of his countrymen. He ſaw, that almoſt all England was under the command of himſelf or his friends; while he poſſeſſed the government of Weſſex, Morcar that of Northumberland, and Edwin that of Mercia. He now openly aſpired to the ſucceſſion; and inſiſted, that, ſince it was neceſſary, by the confeſſion of all, to ſet aſide the royal family, on account of the imbecillity of Edgar, the ſole ſurviving heir, there was no one ſo capable of filling the throne, as a nobleman, of great power, of mature age, of long experience, of approved courage and ability, who being a native of the kingdom, would effectually ſecure it againſt the dominion and tyranny of foreigners. Edward, broken with age and infirmities, ſaw the difficulties too great for him to encounter; and tho' his inveterate prepoſſeſſions kept him from ſeconding the pretenſions of Harold, he took but feeble and irreſolute ſteps for ſecuring the ſucceſſion to the duke of Normandy. While he continued in this uncertainty, he was ſurprized by ſickneſs, which [Page 128] brought him to his grave, on the fifth of January 1066, in the ſixty-fifth year of his age, and twenty-fifth of his reign.

THIS prince, to whom the monks gave the title of ſaint and confeſſor, was the laſt of the Saxon line, who ruled in England; and tho' his reign was peaceable and fortunate, he owed this proſperity leſs to his own ability than to the conjunctures of the times. The Danes, employed in other enterprizes, attempted not thoſe incurſions, which had been ſo troubleſome to all his predeceſſors, and fatal to ſome of them. The facility of his diſpoſition made him acquieſce under the government of Godwin and his ſon Harold; and the capacity, as well as the power of theſe noblemen, enabled them, while they were intruſted with authority, to preſerve domeſtic peace and tranquillity. The moſt commendable circumſtance of Edward's government was his attention to the adminiſtration of juſtice, and his compiling for that purpoſe a body of laws, which he collected from the laws of Ethelbert, Ina, and Alfred. This compilation, tho' now loſt (for the laws that paſs under Edward's name were compoſed afterwards*) were long the objects of affection to the Engliſh nation.

EDWARD the Confeſſor was the firſt who touched for the King's evil: The opinion of his ſanctity procured belief to this cure among the people; and his ſucceſſors regarded it as a part of their power and grandeur to uphold the ſame opinion. It has been continued down to our time; and the practice was firſt dropped by the preſent royal family, who obſerved, that it could no longer give amazement even to the populace, and was attended with ridicule in the eyes of all men of underſtanding.

3.7. HAROLD.

year 1066 [Note: January.] HAROLD had ſo well prepared matters before the death of the King, that he immediately ſtepped into the vacant throne; and his acceſſion was attended [Page 129] with as little oppoſition and diſturbance, as if he had ſucceeded by the moſt undoubted hereditary title. The citizens of London were his zealous partizans: The biſhops and clergy had adopted his cauſe: And all the moſt powerful nobility, connected with him by alliance or friendſhip, willingly ſeconded his pretenſions, The title of Edgar Atheling was ſcarce ever mentioned: Much leſs, the claim of the duke of Normandy: And Harold, aſſembling the council, received the crown from their hands, without waiting for any regular meeting of the ſtates, or ſubmitting the queſtion to their free choice or determination*. If there were any malcontents at this reſolution, they were obliged to conceal their ſentiments; and the new prince, taking a general ſilence for conſent, and founding his title on the ſuppoſed ſuffrages of the people, which appeared unanimous, was, on the day immediately ſucceeding Edward's death, crowned and anointed King, by Aldred, archbiſhop of York. The whole nation ſeemed joyfully to ſwear allegiance to him.

THE firſt ſymptoms of danger, which the King diſcovered, came from abroad, and from his own brother, Toſti, who had ſubmitted to a voluntary baniſhment in Flanders. Enraged at the ſucceſsful ambition of Harold, to which he himſelf had fallen a ſacrifice, he filled the court of Baldwin with complaints of the injuſtice, which he had ſuffered: He engaged the intereſt of that family againſt his brother: He endeavoured to form intrigues with ſome malcontent nobility of England: He ſent his emiſſaries to Norway, in order to rouze to arms the freebooters of that kingdom, and excite their hopes of reaping advantage from the unſettled ſtate of affairs on the uſurpation of the new King: And that he might render the combination more formidable, he made a journey to Normandy; in expectation, that the duke, who had married Matilda, another daughter of Baldwin, would, in revenge of his own injuries, as well as thoſe of Toſti, ſecond, by his councils and forces, the projected invaſion of England.

THE duke of Normandy, when he firſt received intelligence of Harold's intrigues and acceſſion, had been moved to the higheſt pitch of indignation; but that he might give the better colour to his pretenſions, he ſent over an ambaſſy to England, upbraiding that prince with his breach of faith, and ſummoning him to reſign immediately poſſeſſion of the kingdom. Harold replied to the Norman ambaſſadors, that the oath with which he was reproached, had been extorted by [Page 130] the well grounded fear of violence, and could never, for that reaſon, be regarded as obligatory: That he had had no commiſſion, either from the late King or the ſtates of England, who alone could diſpoſe of the crown, to make any tender of the ſucceſſon to the duke of Normandy; and if he, a private perſon, had aſſumed ſo much authority, and had even voluntarily ſworn to ſupport the duke's pretenſions, the oath was unlawful, and it was his duty to ſeize the firſt opportunity of breaking it: That he had obtained the crown by the unanimous ſuffrages of the people; and ſhould ſhow himſelf totally unworthy of their favour, did he not ſtrenuouſly maintain thoſe national liberties, with which they had entruſted him: And that the duke, if he made any attempt by force of arms, ſhould experience the power of an united nation, conducted by a prince, who, ſenſible of the obligations, impoſed on him by his royal dignity, was determined, that the ſame moment ſhould put a period to his life and to his government*.

THIS anſwer was no other than William expected; and he had previouſly fixed his reſolution of making an attempt upon England. Conſulting only his courage, his reſentment, and his ambition, he overlooked all the difficulties, which muſt attend an attack of a great kingdom by ſuch inferior force, and he ſaw only the circumſtances, which would facilitate his enterprize. He conſidered, that England, ever ſince the acceſſion of Canute, had enjoyed a moſt profound tranquillity, during a period of near fifty years; and it would require time for its ſoldiers, enervated by long peace, to learn diſcipline, and its generals experience. He knew, that it was entirely unprovided of fortified towns, by which it could prolong the war; but muſt venture its whole fortune in one deciſive action againſt a veteran enemy, who, being once maſter of the field, would be in a condition to over-run the kingdom. He ſaw that Harold, tho' he had given proofs of vigor and bravery, had newly mounted a throne, which he had acquired by faction, from which he had excluded a very antient royal family, and which was likely to totter under him by its own inſtability, much more if ſhaken by any violent external impulſe. And he hoped, that the very circumſtance of his croſſing the ſeas, quitting his own country, and leaving himſelf no hopes of retreat; as it would aſtoniſh the enemy by the boldneſs of the enterprize, would inſpirit his ſoldiers from deſpair, and rouze them to ſuſtain the reputation of the Norman arms.

THE Normans, as they had long been diſtinguiſhed by valour among all the European nations, had at this time attained to the higheſt pitch of military renown and glory. Beſides acquiring by arms ſuch a noble territory in France, [Page 131] beſides defending it againſt continual attempts of the French monarch and all its neighbours, beſides exerting many actions of vigor under their preſent ſovereign; they had, about this very time, revived their antient fame, by the moſt hazardous exploits, and the moſt wonderful ſucceſſes, in the other extremity of Europe. A few Norman adventurers in Italy had acquired ſuch an aſcendant, not only over the Italians and Greeks, but the Germans, and Saracens, that they expelled theſe foreigners, procured to themſelves ample eſtabliſhments, and laid the foundation of the opulent kingdom of Naples and Sicily*. Theſe enterprizes of men, who were all of them vaſſals in Normandy, many of them baniſhed for faction and rebellion, excited the ambition of the haughty William; who diſdained, after ſuch examples of fortune and valour, to be deterred from making an attack on a neighbouring country, where he could be ſupported by the whole force of his principality.

THE ſituation alſo of Europe inſpired William with hopes, that, beſides his brave Normans, he might employ againſt England the flower of the military force, which was diſperſed in all the other ſtates. France, Germany, and the low countries, by the progreſs of the feudal inſtitutions, were divided and ſubdivided into many ſmall principalities and baronies; and the poſſeſſors, enjoying the civil juriſdiction within themſelves, as well as the right of arms, acted, in many reſpects, as independant ſovereigns, and maintained their properties and privileges, leſs by the authority of laws, than by their own force and valour. A military ſpirit had univerſally diffuſed itſelf throughout Europe; and the ſeveral leaders, whoſe minds were elevated by their princely ſituation, greedily embraced the moſt adventurous enterprizes, and being accuſtomed to nothing from their infancy but recitals of the ſucceſs attending wars and battles, they were prompted by a natural ambition to imitate thoſe adventures, which they heard ſo much celebrated, and which were ſo much exaggerated by the credulity of the age. United, however looſely, by their duty to one ſuperior lord, and by their connexions with the great body of the community, to which they belonged, they deſired to ſpread their fame each beyond his own diſtrict; and, in all aſſemblies, whether inſtituted for civil deliberations, for military expeditions, or merely for ſhow and entertainment, to outſhine each other by the reputation of ſtrength and proweſs. Hence their genius for chivalry; hence their impatience of peace and tranquillity; and hence their readineſs to embark in any hazardous enterprize, however little intereſted in its failure or ſucceſs.

WILLIAM, by his power, his courage, and his abilities, had long maintained a pre-eminence among thoſe haughty chieftains; and every one who deſired to [Page 132] diſtinguiſh himſelf by his addreſs in military exerciſes, or his valor in action, had been ambitions of acquiring a reputation in the court and in the armies of Normandy. Entertained with that hoſpitality and courteſy, which diſtinguiſhed the age, they had formed attachments with the prince, and greedily attended to the proſpects of glory and advantage, which he promiſed them in return for their concurrence in an expedition againſt England. The more grandeur appeared in the attempt, the more it ſuited their romantic ſpirit: The fame of the intended invaſion was already diffuſed every where: Multitudes crowded to tender to the duke their ſervice, with that of their vaſſals and retainers*: And William found leſs difficulty in compleating his levies, than in chooſing the moſt veteran and experienced forces, and in rejecting the offers of thoſe, who were impatient to acquire fame under ſo renowned a leader.

BESIDES theſe advantages, which William owed to his perſonal valor and good conduct; he was beholden to fortune for procuring him ſome aſſiſtances, and for removing many obſtacles, which it was natural for him to expect in an undertaking, where all his neighbours were ſo deeply intereſted. Conan, duke of Britanny, was his mortal enemy; and in order to throw a damp upon his enterprize, he choſe this conjuncture for reviving his claim to Normandy itſelf; and he required, that, in caſe of William's ſucceſs againſt England, the poſſeſſion of that dutchy might devolve to him. But Conan died ſuddenly after making this demand; and Howel, his ſucceſſor, inſtead of adopting the malignity, or rather the prudence, of his predeceſſor, zealouſly ſeconded the duke's views, and ſent his eldeſt ſon, Alain Fergant, to ſerve under him with a force of five thouſand Britons. The counts of Anjou, and of Flanders, encouraged their ſubjects to ergage in the expedition; and even the court of France, tho' it might juſtly fear the aggrandizement of ſo dangerous a vaſſal, purſued not its intereſts on this occaſion with ſufficient vigor and reſolution. Philip I. the reigning French monarch, was a minor; and William, having communicated his project to the council, having deſired aſſiſtance, and offered to do homage, in caſe of his ſucceſs, for the crown of England, was indeed ordered to lay aſide all thoughts of the enterprize; but the earl of Flanders, his father-in-law, being at the head of the regency, favoured under-hand his levies, and encouraged the enterprizing nobility to inliſt under the ſtandard of the duke of Normandy.

THE Emperor, Henry IV. beſides giving openly all his vaſſals permiſſion to embark in this expedition, which ſo much engaged the attention of Europe, promiſed his protection to the dutchy of Normandy during the abſence of the prince, [Page 133] and thereby enabled him to draw his whole force to the attack of England*. But the moſt important ally, whom William gained by his negotiations, was the pope, who had a mighty influence over the antient barons, no leſs devout in their religious principles than valorous in their military enterprizes. The Roman pontiff, after an inſenſible progreſs during ſeveral ages of darkneſs and ignorance, began now to lift his head openly above all the princes of Europe; to aſſume the office of a mediator, or even an arbitrator, in the quarrels of the greateſt monarchs; to interpoſe himſelf in all ſecular affairs; and to obtrude his dictates as ſovereign laws on his obſequious diſciples. It was a ſufficient motive to Alexander II. the reigning pope, for embracing William's quarrel, that he alone had made an appeal to his tribunal, and rendered him umpire of the diſpute between him and Harold; but there were other advantages, which, that pontiff foreſaw, muſt reſult from the conqueſt of England by the Norman arms. That kingdom, tho' at firſt converted by Romiſh miſſionaries, tho' it had afterwards advanced ſome farther ſteps towards ſubjection under Rome, maintained ſtill a great independance in its eccleſiaſtical adminiſtration; and forming a world within itſelf, entirely ſeparated from the reſt of Europe, it had hitherto proved inacceſſible to thoſe exorbitant claims, which ſupported the grandeur of the papacy. Alexander, therefore, hoped, that the French and Norman barons, if ſucceſsful in their enterprize, might import into that country a more devoted reverence to the holy ſee, and bring the Engliſh churches to a nearer conformity with thoſe of the reſt of Europe. He declared immediately in favour of William's claim; pronounced Harold a perjured uſurper; denounced excommunication againſt him and his adherents; and the more to encourage the duke of Normandy in his enterprize, he ſent him a conſecrated banner, and a ring with one of St. Peter's hairs in it. Thus were all the ambition and violence of that invaſion covered over ſafely with the broad mantle of religion.

BUT the greateſt difficulty, which William had to encounter in his preparations, aroſe from his own ſubjects in Normandy. The ſtates of the dutchy were aſſembled at Liſlebonne; and ſupplies being demanded for the intended enterprize, which promiſed ſo much glory and advantage to their country, there appeared a reluctance in many members, both to grant ſums ſo much beyond the common meaſure of taxes in that age, and to ſet a precedent of performing their military ſervice out of their own country. The duke finding it dangerous to ſolicit them in a body, conferred ſeparately with the richeſt perſons in the province; [Page 134] and beginning with thoſe whoſe affections he moſt relied on, he gradually engaged all of them to advance the ſums demanded. The count of Longueville ſeconded him in this negotiation, the count of Mortaigne, Odo biſhop of Baieux, and eſpecially William Fitz-Oſberne, count of Breteüil, and conſtable of the dutchy. Every perſon, when he himſelf was once engaged, endeavoured to bring over others; and at laſt the ſtates themſelves, after ſtipulating that this conceſſion ſhould be no precedent for the future, voted, that they would aſſiſt their prince to the utmoſt in his intended enterprize*.

WILLIAM had now aſſumbled a fleet of 3000 veſſels, great and ſmall, and had ſelected an army of 60,000 men from among thoſe numerous ſupplies, which from every quarter ſolicited to be received into his ſervice. The camp bore a ſplendid, yet a martial appearance, from the diſcipline of the men, the vigor of the horſes, the luſtre of the arms and accoutrements of both; but above all, from the high names of nobility, who engaged under the banners of the duke of Normandy. The moſt celebrated were Euſtace, count of Boulogne, Aimeri de Thouars, Hugh d'Eſtaples, William d'Evreux, Geoffrey de Rotrou, Roger de Beaumont, William de Warenne, Roger de Montgomeri, Hugh de Grantmeſnil, Charles Martel, and Geoffrey Giffard. To theſe bold chieftains William held up the ſpoils of England as the prize of their valor; and pointin [...] to the oppoſite ſhore, called to them, that there was the field, on which they muſt erect trophies to their name, and fix their eſtabliſhments.

WHILE he was making theſe mighty preparations, the duke, that he might increaſe the number of Harold's enemies, excited the inveterate rancour of Toſti, and encouraged him, in concert with Harol Halfager, King of Norway, to infeſt the coaſt of England. Toſti, having c [...]llected about ſixty veſſels in the ports of Flanders, put to ſea; and after committing ſome depredations on the ſouth and eaſt coaſts, he ſailed to Northumberland, and he was there joined by Halfager, who came over with a great armament of three hundred veſſels. The combined fleets entered the Humber, and diſembarked the troops, who began to extend their depredations on all ſides; when Morcar earl of Northumberland, and Edwin earl of Mercia, the King's brothers-in-law, having haſtily collected ſome troops, ventured to give them battle. The action ended with the total defeat and flight of theſe two noblemen§.

[Page 135] HAROLD, informed of this misfortune, haſtened with an army to the protection of his people; and expreſſ d the utmoſt ardour to ſhow himſelf worthy of the crown, which had been conferred upon him. This prince, tho' he was not ſenſible of the full extent of his danger, from the great combination againſt him, had employed every art of popularity to acquire the affections of the public; and he gave ſo many proofs of an equitable and prudent adminiſtration, that the Engliſh found no reaſon to repent of the choice which they had made of a ſovereign*. They flocked from all quarters to join his ſtandard; and as ſoon as he reached the enemy at Standford, he found himſelf in a condition of giving them battle. [Note: 25th Sept.] The action was very bloody; but the victory was deciſive on the ſide of Harold, and ended with the total rout of the Danes, together with the death of Toſti and Halfager. Even the Daniſh fleet fell into the hands of Harold; who had the generoſity to give prince Olave, the ſon of Halfager, his liberty, and allow him to depart with twenty veſſels. But he had ſcarce time to rejoice for this victory, when he received intelligence, that the duke of Normandy was landed with a great army in the ſouth of England.

THE Norman fleet and army had been aſſembled, early in the ſummer, at the mouth of the ſmall river Dive, and all the troops had been inſtantly embarked; but the winds proved long contrary, and detained them in that harbour. The authority, however, of the duke, the good diſcipline maintained among the ſeamen and ſoldiers, and the great care of ſupplying them with proviſions, had prevented any diſorder, when the wind became favourable, and enabled them to ſail along the coaſt, till they reached St. Valori. There were, however, ſeveral veſſels loſt in this ſhort paſſage; and as the winds again proved contrary, the army began to imagine, that heaven had declared againſt them, and that, notwithſtanding the Pope's benediction, they were deſtined to certain ruin§. Theſe bold warriors, who deſpiſed real dangers, were very ſubject to the dread of imaginary ones; and many of them began to mutiny, and ſome of them even to deſert their colours; when the duke, in order to ſupport their drooping hopes, ordered a proceſſion to be made with the reliques of St. Valori{inverted †}, and prayers to be ſaid for more favourable weather. The winds inſtantly changed; and as this incident happened on the eve of the feaſt of St. Michael, the tutelar ſaint of Normandy, [Page 136] the forces, fancying they ſaw the hand of heaven in all theſe concurring circumſtances, ſet out with the greateſt alacrity*: They met with no oppoſition on their voyage: A great fleet, which Harold had aſſembled, and which had cruized all ſummer off the Iſle of Wight, had been diſmiſſed, on his receiving falſe intelligence, that William, diſcouraged by the contrary winds and other accidents, had laid aſide his preparations. The Norman armament, proceeding in great order, arrived, without any material loſs, at Pevenſey in Suſſex; and the army quietly diſembarked. The duke himſelf, as he leaped on ſhore, happened to ſtumble and fall; but had the preſence of mind to turn the omen to his advantage, by calling aloud, that he had taken poſſeſſion of the country. And a ſoldier, running to a neighbouring cottage, plucked ſome thatch, which, as if giving him ſeizine of the kingdom, he preſented to his general. The joy and alacrity of William and his whole army was ſo great, that they were no wiſe diſcouraged, even when they heard of Harold's great victory over the Danes; and they ſeemed rather to wait with impatience for the arrival of the enemy.

THE victory of Harold, tho' great and honourable, had proved in the main prejudicial to his intereſts, and may be regarded as the immediate cauſe of his ruin. He loſt many of his braveſt officers and ſoldiers in the action; and he diſguſted the reſt, by refuſing to diſtribute the Daniſh ſpoils among them§: A conduct which was little agreeable to his uſual generoſity of temper; but which his deſire of ſparing the people, in the war which impended over him from the duke of Normandy, had probably occaſioned. He haſtened by quick marches to reach this new invader; but tho' he was reinforced at London and other places with freſh troops, he found himſelf alſo weakened by the deſertion of his old ſoldiers, who from fatigue and diſcontent ſecretly withdrew from their colours. His brother Gurth, a man of bravery and conduct, began to entertain apprehenſions of the event; and remonſtrated with the King, that it would be better policy to prolong the war, or, at leaſt, to ſpare his own perſon in the action. He urged to him, that the deſperate ſituation of the duke of Normandy made it requiſite for that prince to bring matters to a ſpeedy deciſion, and put his whole fortune on the iſſue of a battle; but that the King of England, in his own country, beloved by his ſubjects, provided of every ſupply, had more infallible and leſs dangerous methods of enſuring to himſelf the victory: That the Norman troops, elevated on the one hand with the higheſt hopes, and ſeeing, on the other, no reſource in caſe of a diſcomfiture, would fight to the laſt extremity; and being the flower of all the warriors of the continent, muſt be regarded as formidable to [Page 137] the Engliſh: That if their firſt fire and ſpirit, which is always moſt dangerous, were allowed to languiſh for want of action; if they were haraſſed with ſmall ſkirmiſhes, ſtraitened in proviſions, and fatigued with the bad weather and deep roads during the winter-ſeaſon, which was approaching, they muſt fall an eaſy and a bloodleſs prey to their enemy: That if a general action was delayed, the Engliſh, ſenſible of the imminent danger, to which their properties, as well as liberties, were expoſed from theſe rapacious invaders, would haſten from all quarters to his aſſiſtance, and would render his army invincible: That at leaſt, if he thought it neceſſary to hazard a battle, he ought not to expoſe his own perſon; but reſerve, in caſe of diſaſtrous accidents, ſome reſource to the liberty and independance of the kingdom: And that having once been ſo unfortunate, as to be conſtrained to ſwear, and that upon the holy reliques, to ſupport the pretenſions of the duke of Normandy, it were better that another perſon ſhould command the army, who, not being bound by theſe ſacred ties, might give the ſoldiers more certain hopes of a proſperous iſſue to the quarrel*.

HAROLD was deaf to all theſe remonſtrances; and being elated with his paſt proſperity, as well as ſtimulated by his native courage, he reſolved to give battle in perſon; and for that purpoſe, he drew near to the Normans, who had removed their camp and fleet to Haſtings, where they fixed their quarters. He was ſo confident of ſucceſs, that he ſent a meſſage to the duke, promiſing him a ſum of money, if he would depart the kingdom without effuſion of blood: But his offer was rejected with diſdain; and William, not to be behind with his enemy in vaunting, ſent him a meſſage by ſome monks, requiring him either to reſign the kingdom, or to hold it of him in fealty, or to ſubmit their cauſe to the arbitration of the Pope, or to fight him in ſingle combat. Harold replied, that the God of battles would ſoon be the arbiter of all their differences.

[Note: 14th October.] THE Engliſh and Normans now prepared themſelves for this important deciſion; but the aſpect of things, on the night before the battle, was very different in the two camps. The Engliſh ſpent the time in riot, and jollity, and diſorder; the Normans in ſilence and in prayer, and in performing the functions of their religion. On the morning, the duke called together the moſt conſiderable of his chieftains, and made them a ſpeech ſuitable to the occaſion. He repreſented to them, that the event which they and he had long wiſhed for, was approaching; and the whole fortune of the war now depended on their ſword, and would [Page 138] be decided in a ſingle action: That never army had greater motives for exerting a vigorous courage, whether they conſidered the prize which would attend their victory, or the inevitable deſtruction which muſt enſue upon their diſcomfiture: That if their martial and veteran bands could once break thoſe raw ſoldiers, who had raſhly dared to approach them, they conquered a kingdom at one blow, and were j [...]ſtly intitled to all its poſſeſſions as the reward of their proſperous valour: That, on the contrary, if they remitted in the leaſt their wonted proweſs, an enraged enemy hung upon their rear, the ſea met them in their retreat, and an ignominious death was the certain puniſhment of their imprudent cowardice: That by collecting ſo numerous and brave a hoſt, he had enſured every human means of conqueſt; and the commander of the enemy, by his criminal conduct, had given him juſt cauſe to hope for the favour of heaven, in whoſe hands alone lay the event of wars and battles: And that a perjured uſurper, anathematized by the ſovereign pontiff, and conſcious of his own breach of faith, would be ſtruck with terror on their appearance, and would prognoſticate to himſelf that fate which his multiplied crimes had ſo juſtly merited*. The duke next divided his army into three lines: The firſt, headed by Montgomery, conſiſted of archers and lightarmed infantry: The ſecond, commanded by Martel, was compoſed of his braveſt battalions, heavy armed, and ranged in cloſe order: His cavalry, at whoſe head he placed himſelf, formed the third line; and were ſo diſpoſed, that they ſtretched beyond the infantry, and flanked each wing of the army. He ordered the ſignal of battle to ſound; and the whole army, moving at once, and ſinging the hymn or ſong of Roland, the famous peer of Charlemagne, advanced, in order and with alacrity, towards the enemy.

HAROLD had ſeized the advantage of a riſing ground, and having beſides crawn ſome trenches to ſecure his flanks, reſolved to ſtand upon the defenſive, and to avoid all action with the cavalry, in which he was inferior. The Kentiſh men were placed in the van; a poſt which they had always claimed as their due: The Londoners guarded the ſtandard: And the King himſelf, accompanied by his two valiant brothers, Gurth and Leofwin, diſmounting from horſeback, placed himſelf at the head of his infantry, and expreſſed his reſolution to conquer or to periſh in the action§. The firſt attack of the Normans was deſperate, but was received with equal valour by the Engliſh; and after a furious combat, which remained long undecided, the former, overcome by the difficulty [Page 139] of the ground, and hard preſſed by the enemy, began firſt to relax their vigour, then to give ground; and confuſion was ſpreading among the ranks; when William, who found himſelf on the brink of deſtruction, haſtened, with a ſelect band, to the relief of his diſmayed forces*. His preſence reſtored the action; the Engliſh were obliged to retreat with loſs; and the duke, ordering his ſecond line to advance, renewed the attack with freſh forces and with redoubled courage. Finding, that the enemy, ſupported by the advantage of ground, and animated by the example of their prince, ſtill made a vigorous reſiſtance, he tried a ſtratagem, which was very delicate in its management, but which ſeemed adviſeable in his deſperate ſituation, when, if he gained not a deciſive victory, he was totally undone: He ordered his troops to make a haſty retreat, and to allure the enemy from their ground by the appearance of flight. The artifice ſucceeded againſt theſe unexperienced troops, who, heated by the action, and ſanguine in their hopes, precipitantly followed the Normans into the plain. William gave orders, that at once the infantry ſhould face about upon their purſuers, and the cavalry make an aſſault upon their wings, and both of them purſue the advantage, which the ſurpriſe and terror of the enemy muſt give them in that critical and deciſive moment. The Engliſh were repulſed with great ſlaughter, and drove back to the hill; where being rallied again by the bravery of Harold, they were able, notwithſtanding their loſs, to maintain the poſt and continue the combat. The duke tried the ſame ſtratagem a ſecond time with the ſame ſucceſs; but even after this double advantage, he ſtill found a great body of the Engliſh, who maintaining themſelves in firm array, ſeemed determined to diſpute the victory to the laſt extremity. He ordered his heavy armed infantry to make the aſſault upon them; while his archers, placed behind, ſhould gall the enemy, who were expoſed by the ſituation of the ground, and who were intent in defending them. ſelves againſt the ſwords and ſpears of the aſſailants. By this diſpoſition he at laſt prevailed: Harold was ſlain by an arrow, while he was combating with great bravery at the head of his men: His two brothers ſhared the ſame fate: And the Engliſh, diſcouraged by the fall of theſe princes, gave ground on all ſides, and were purſued with great ſlaughter by the victorious Normans. A few troops however of the vanquiſhed dared ſtill to turn upon their purſuers; and taking them in deep and miry ground, obtained ſome revenge for the ſlaughter and diſhonour of the day§. But the appearance of the duke obliged them to [Page 140] ſeek their ſafety by flight, and darkneſs ſaved them from any farther purſuit by the enemy.

THUS was gained by William, duke of Normandy, the great and deciſive victory of Haſtings, after a battle which was fought from morning till ſunſet*, and which ſeemed worthy, by the heroic feats of valour diſplayed by both armies, and by both commanders, to decide the fate of a mighty kingdom. William had three horſes killed under him; and there fell near fifteen thouſand men on the ſide of the Normans: The loſs was ſtill more confiderable on that of the vanquiſhed; beſides the death of the King and his two brothers. The dead body of Harold was brought to William, and was generouſly reſtored without ranſom to his mother. The Norman army left not the field of battle without giving thanks to heaven, in the moſt ſolemn manner, for their victory: And the prince, having refreſhed his forces, prepared to puſh to the utmoſt his advantage againſt the divided, diſmayed, and diſcomfited Engliſh.


[Page 141]

Firſt Saxon government—Succeſſion of the Kings—The Witenagemot—The ariſtocracy—The ſeveral orders of men—Courts of juſtice—Criminal law—Rules of proof—Military force—Public revenue—Value of money—Manners.

THE government of the Germans, and that of all the northern nations who eſtabliſhed themſelves on the ruins of Rome, was always extremely free; and thoſe fierce people, accuſtomed to independance and enured to arms, were more guided by perſuaſion than authority, in the ſubmiſſion which they paid their princes. The military deſpotiſm, which had taken place in the Roman empire, and which, previouſly to the irruption of theſe conquerors, had ſunk the genius of men, and deſtroyed every noble principle of ſcience and virtue, was unable to reſiſt the vigorous efforts of a free people; and Europe, as from a new epoch, rekindled her antient ſpirit, and ſhook off the baſe ſervitude to arbitrary will and authority, under which it had ſo long laboured. The free conſtitutions then eſtabliſhed, however impaired by the encroachments of ſucceeding princes, ſtill preſerve an air of independance and legal adminiſtration, which diſtinguiſh the European nations; and if that part of the globe maintain ſentiments of liberty, honour, equity, and valour, ſuperior to the reſt of mankind, it owes theſe advantages chiefly to the ſeeds implanted by thoſe generous barbarians.

[Note: Firſt Saxon government.] THE Saxons, who ſubdued Britain, as they enjoyed great liberty in their own country, obſtinately retained that invaluable poſſeſſion in their new ſettlement; and they imported into this iſland the ſame principles of independance, which they had inherited from their anceſtors. The chieftains (for ſuch they were more properly than kings or princes) who commanded them in thoſe military expeditions, ſtill poſſeſſed a very limited authority; and as the Saxons exterminated, rather than ſubdued, the antient inhabitants, they were indeed tranſplanted into a new territory, but preſerved unaltered all their civil and military inſtitutions. The language was pure Saxon; even the names of places, which often remain while the tongue entirely changes, were almoſt all affixed by the new conquerors; the manners and cuſtoms were wholly German; and the ſame picture of a [Page 142] fierce and bold liberty, which is drawn by the maſterly pencil of Tacitus, will apply to theſe founders of the Engliſh government. The King, ſo far from being entitled to an arbitrary power, was only conſidered as the firſt among the citizens; his authority depended more on his perſonal qualities than on his ſtation; he was even ſo far on a level with the other inhabitants, that a ſtated price was affixed to his head, and a legal fine was levied from his murderer, which, tho' proportioned to his ſtation, and ſuperior to that paid for the life of a ſubject, was a ſenſible mark of his ſubordination to the community.

[Note: Succeſſion of the Kings.] IT is eaſy to imagine, that an independant people, ſo little reſtrained by laws, and cultivated by ſcience, would not be very ſtrict in maintaining a regular ſucceſſion of their princes. Tho' they paid a great reſpect to the royal family, and aſcribed to them an undiſputed ſuperiority, they either had no rule, or none that was ſteadily obſerved, in filling the vacant throne; and preſent convenience in that emergency was more attended to than general principles. We are not however to ſuppoſe, that the crown was conſidered as altogether elective; and that a regular plan was traced by the conſtitution for ſupplying, by the ſuffrages of the people, every vacancy made by the deceaſe of the firſt magiſtrate. If any King on his death left a ſon of an age and capacity fit for government, the young prince naturally ſtepped into the throne: If he was a minor, his uncle, or the next prince of the blood, was promoted to the government, and left the ſceptre to his poſterity: Any ſovereign, by taking previous meaſures with the leading men, had it greatly in his power to appoint his ſucceſſor: All theſe changes, and indeed the ordinary adminiſtration of government, required the expreſs concurrence, or at leaſt the tacit conſent of the people; but preſent poſſeſſion, however obtained, went far towards procuring their obedience, and the idea of any right which was once excluded, was but feeble and imperfect. This is ſo much the caſe in all barbarous monarchies, and occurs ſo often in the hiſtory of the Anglo Saxons, that we cannot conſiſtently entertain any other notion of their government. The idea of an hereditary ſucceſſion in authority is ſo natural to men, and is ſo much fortified by the uſual rule in tranſmitting private poſſeſſions, that it muſt retain a great influence on every ſociety, who do not exclude it by the refinements of a republican conſtitution. But as there is a ſenſible difference between government and private poſſeſſions, and every one is not equally qualified for the one as for the other, a people, who are not ſenſible of the general advantages attending a fixed rule, are apt to make great leaps in the ſucceſſion, and frequently to paſs over the perſon, who, had he poſſeſſed the requiſite years and abilities, would have been thought entitled to the authority. Thus, theſe monarchies are not, ſtrictly ſpeaking, either elective or hereditary; and tho' the deſtination of a prince may [Page 143] often be followed in appointing his ſucceſſor, they can as little be regarded as wholly teſtamentary. The ſuffrages of the ſtates may ſometimes eſtabliſh a ſovereign; but they more frequently recognize him whom they find eſtabliſhed: A few great men take the lead; the people, overawed and influenced, acquieſce in the government; and the reigning prince, provided he be of the royal family, paſſes undiſputably for the legal ſovereign.

[Note: The Wittenagemot.] IT is confeſſed, that our knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon hiſtory and antiquities is too imperfect to afford us means of determining with certainty all the prerogatives of the crown and privileges of the people, or of giving an exact delineation of that government. It is probable alſo, that the conſtitution might be ſomewhat different in the different nations of the Heptarchy, and that it changed conſiderably during the courſe of ſix centuries, which elapſed from the firſt invaſion of the Saxons till the Norman conqueſt*. But moſt of theſe differences and changes, with their cauſes and effects, are unknown to us: It only appears, that, at all times, and in all the kingdoms, there was a national council, called a Wittenagemot or aſſembly of the wiſe men, (for that is the import of the term) whoſe conſent was requiſite for the enacting laws, and for ratifying the chief acts of public adminiſtration. The preambles to all the laws of Ethelbert, Ina, Alfred, Edward the elder, Athelſtan, Edmond, Edgar, Ethelred, and Edward the Confeſſor; even thoſe to the laws of Canute, tho' a kind of conqueror, put this matter beyond controverſy, and carry proofs every where of a limited and legal government. But who were the conſtituent members of this Wittenagemot has not been determined with certainty by antiquarians. It is agreed, that the biſhops and abbots were an eſſential part; and it is alſo evident, from the tenor of theſe antient laws, that the Wittenagemot enacted ſtatutes which regulated the eccleſiaſtical as well as civil government, and that thoſe dangerous principles, by which the church is totally ſevered from the ſtate, were hitherto unknown to the Anglo-Saxons. It alſo appears, that the aldermen or governors of counties, who, [Page 144] after the Daniſh times, were often called earls*, were admitted into this council, and gave their conſent to the public ſtatutes. But beſides the prelates and aldermen, there is alſo mention of the wites or wiſe-men, as a diſtinct branch of the Wittenagemot; but who theſe were is not ſo clearly aſcertained by the laws or the hiſtory of that period. The matter would probably be of difficult diſcuſſion, even were it examined impart [...]ally; but as our parties have choſen to divide on this head, the queſtion has been diſputed with the greater acrimony, and the arguments on both ſides have become, on that account, the more captious and deceitful. Our monarchical faction maintain, that theſe wites or ſapientes were the judges or men learned in the law: The popular party aſſert them to be repreſentatives of the boroughs, or what we now call the commons.

THE expreſſions, employed by all the antient hiſtorians in mentioning the Wittenagemot, ſeem to contradict the latter ſuppoſition. The members are almoſt always called the principes, ſatrapae, optimates, magnates, proceres; terms which ſeem to ſuppoſe an ariſtocracy, and to exclude the commons. The boroughs alſo, from the low ſtate of commerce, were ſo ſmall and poor, and the inhabitants lived in ſuch dependance on the great men, that it ſeems nowiſe probable they would be admitted as a part of the national councils. The commons are well known to have had no ſhare in the governments eſtabliſhed by the Franks, Burgundians, and other northern nations; and we may conclude, that the Saxons, who remained longer barbarous and uncivilized than theſe tribes, would never think of conferring ſuch an extraordinary privilege on trade and induſtry. The military profeſſion alone was honourable among all thoſe conquerors: The warriors ſubſiſted by their poſſeſſions in land: They became conſiderable by their influence over their vaſſals, retainers, tenants, and ſlaves: And it had need of [Page 145] ſtrong proofs to convince us that they would admit any of a rank ſo much inferior as the burgeſſes, to ſhare with them in the legiſlative authority. Tacitus indeed affirms, that, among the antient Germans, the conſent of all the members of the community was required in every important deliberation; but he ſpeaks not of repreſentatives; and this antient practice, mentioned by the Roman hiſtorians, could only have place in ſmall tribes, where every citizen might without inconvenience be aſſembled upon any extraordinary emergency. After principalities became more extenſive; after the differences of property had formed diſtinctions more important than thoſe ariſing from perſonal ſtrength and valor; we may conclude, that the national aſſemblies muſt have been more limited in their number, and compoſed only of the more conſiderable citizens.

BUT tho' we muſt exclude the burgeſſes or commons from the Saxon Wittinagemot; there is ſome neceſſity for ſuppoſing, that this aſſembly conſiſted of other members beſide the prelates, abbots, aldermen, and the judges or privy council. For as all theſe, excepting ſome of the eccleſiaſtics*, were antiently appointed by the King, had there been no other legiſlative authority, the royal power had been in a great meaſure deſpotic, contrary to the tenor of all the hiſtorians, and to the practice of all the northern nations. We may, therefore, conclude, that the more conſiderable proprietors of land were, without any election, conſtituent members of the national aſſembly; and there is reaſon to think, that forty hides, or about four or five thouſand acres, was the eſtate requiſite for intitling the poſſeſſor to this honourable privilege. There is a paſſage of an antient author from which it appears, that a perſon of very noble birth, even one allied to the crown, was not eſteemed a princeps (the term uſually employed by antient hiſtorians when the Wittenagemot is mentioned) till he had acquired a fortune of that extent. Nor need we imagine, that the public council would become diſorderly or confuſed by admitting ſo great a multitude. The landed property of England was probably in few hands during the Saxon times; at leaſt, during the latter part of that period: And as men had ſmall ambition of attending theſe public councils, there was no danger of the aſſembly's becoming too numerous for the diſpatch of the little buſineſs, which was brought before them.

[Page 146] [Note: [...] ] IT is certain, that, whatever we may determine concerning the conſtituent members of the Wittenagemot, in whom the legiſlature reſided, the Anglo-Saxon government, in the period preceding the Norman conqueſt, was become extremely ariſtocratical: The royal authority was very limited; the people, even if admitted to that aſſembly, were of little or no weight or conſideration. We have hints given us in the hiſtorians of the great power and riches of particular noblemen: And it could not but happen, after the abolition of the Heptarchy, when the King lived at a diſtance from the provinces, that theſe great proprietors, who reſided on their eſtates, would much augment their authority over their vaſſals and retainers, and over all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Hence the immeaſurable power aſſumed by Harold, Godwin, Leofric, Siward, Morcar, Edwin, Edric and Alfric, who controlled the authority of the kings, and rendered themſelves quite neceſſary in the government. The two latter, tho' deteſted by the people, on account of their joining a foreign enemy, ſtill preſerved their power and influence; and we may therefore conclude, that their authority was founded, not on popularity, but on family rights and poſſeſſions. There is one Atheſtan, mentioned in the reign of the king of that name, who is called alderman of all England, and is ſaid to be half-king; tho' the monarch himſelf was a prince of great valour and ability*. And we find, that in the latter Saxon times, and in theſe alone, the great offices went from father to ſon, and became, in a manner, hereditary in the families.

THE circumſtances, attending the invaſions of the Danes, would alſo ſerve much to increaſe the power of the principal nobility. Theſe freebooters made unexpected inroads on all quarters; and there was a neceſſity, that each county ſhould reſiſt them by its own force, and under the conduct of its own magiſtrates, and nobility. For the ſame reaſon, that a general war, managed by the united efforts of the whole ſtate, commonly increaſes the power of the crown; theſe private wars and inroads turned to the advantage of the aldermen and nobles.

AMONG that military and turbulent people, ſo averſe to commerce and the arts, ſo little enured to induſtry, juſtice was commonly very ill executed, and great oppreſſion and violence ſeem to have prevailed. Theſe diſorders would be increaſed by the exorbitant power of the ariſtocracy; and would, in their [Page 147] turn, contribute to increaſe it. Men, not daring to rely on the guardianſhip of the laws, were obliged to devote themſelves to the ſervice of ſome chieftain, whoſe orders they followed even to the diſturbance of the government or the injury of their fellow-citizens, and who afforded them in return protection from any inſult or injuſtice by ſtrangers. Hence we find, by the extracts which Dr. Brady has given us from Domeſday, that almoſt all the inhabitants even of boroughs, had placed themſelves in the clientſhip of ſome particular nobleman, whoſe patronage they purchaſed by annual payments, and whom they were obliged to conſider as their ſovereign, more than the King himſelf, or even the legiſlature*. A client, tho' a freeman, was ſuppoſed ſo much to belong to his patron, that his murderer was obliged by law to pay a fine to the latter, as a compenſation for his loſs; in like manner as he paid a fine to the maſter for the murder of his ſlave. Men, who were of a more conſiderable rank, but not powerful enough, each to ſupport himſelf by his own independent authority, entered into formal confederacies together, and compoſed a kind of ſeparate republic, which rendered itſelf formidable to all aggreſſors. Dr. Hickes has preſerved a very curious Saxon bond of this kind, which he calls a Sodalitium, and which contains many particulars, characteriſtical of the manners and cuſtoms of the times. The aſſociates are there ſaid to be all of them gentlemen of Cambridgeſhire; and they ſwear before the holy reliques to obſerve their confederacy, and to be faithful to each other: They promiſe to bury any of the aſſociates who dies, in whatever place he had appointed; to contribute to his funeral charges, and to attend at his interment; and whoever is wanting to this laſt duty, binds himſelf to pay a meaſure of honey. When any of the aſſociates is in danger, and calls for the aſſiſtance of his fellows, they promiſe, beſides flying to his ſuccour, to give information to the ſheriff; and if he be negligent in protecting the perſon expoſed to hazard, they engage to levy a fine of one pound from him: If the preſident of the ſociety himſelf be wanting in this particular, he binds himſelf to pay one pound; unleſs he has the reaſonable excuſe of ſickneſs, or of duty to his ſuperior. When any of the aſſociates is murdered, they are to exact eight pounds from the murderer; and if he refuſes to pay it, they are to proſecute him for the ſum at their joint expence. If any of the aſſociates, who happens to be poor, kills a man, the ſociety are to contribute by a certain proportion to pay his fine: A mark apiece, if the fine be 700 ſhillings; leſs, if the perſon killed be a clown or ceorle; the half of that ſum, again, if he be a Welſhman. But where any of the aſſociates [Page 148] kills a man, wilfully and without provocation, he muſt himſelf pay the fine. If any of the aſſociates kills a fellow, in a like criminal manner, beſides paying the uſual fine to the relations of the deceaſed, he muſt pay eight pounds to the ſociety, or renounce the benefit of it: In which caſe they bind themſelves, under the penalty of one pound, never to eat or drink with him, except in the preſence of the King, biſhop, or alderman. There are other regulations to protect themſelves and their ſervants from all injuries, to revenge ſuch as are committed, and to prevent their giving abuſive language to each other, and the fine, which they engage to pay for that offence, is a meaſure of honey.

IT is not to be doubted, but a confederacy of this kind muſt have been a great ſource of friendſhip and attachment, when men lived in perpetual danger from enemies, robbers, and oppreſſors, and received protection chiefly from their perſonal valor, and from the aſſiſtance of their friends or patrons. As animoſities were then more violent, connexions were alſo more intimate, whether voluntary or derived from blood: The moſt remote degree of propinquity was regarded: An indelible memory of benefits was preſerved: Severe vengeance was taken of injuries, both from a point of honour, and as the beſt means of future ſecurity: And the civil union being weak, many private confederacies were entered into to ſupply its place, and to procure men that ſafety, which the laws and their own innocence were not alone able to inſure them.

ON the whole, notwithſtanding the ſeeming liberty or rather licentiouſneſs of the Anglo-Saxons, the great body of the people, in theſe ages, really enjoyed much leſs true liberty, than where the execution of the laws is the moſt ſevere, and where ſubjects are reduced to the ſtricteſt ſubordination and dependance on the civil magiſtrate. The reaſon is derived from the exceſs itſelf of that liberty. Men muſt guard themſelves at any price againſt inſults and injuries; and where they receive not protection from the laws and magiſtrate, they will ſeek it by ſubmiſſion to ſuperiors, and by herding in ſome inferior confederacy, which acts under the direction of a powerful chieftain. And thus all anarchy is the immediate cauſe of tyranny, if not over the ſtate, at leaſt over many of the individuals.

[Note: The ſeveral orders of men.] THE German Saxons, as the other nations of that continent, were divided into three ranks of men, the noble, the free, and the ſlaves. This diſtinction they brought over with them into Britain.

THE nobles were called thanes; and were of two kinds, the King's thanes and leſſer thanes. The latter ſeem to have been dependant on the former; and to [Page 149] have received lands, for which they paid rent, ſervices, or attendance in peace and war*. We know of no other title, which raiſed any one to the rank of thane, except noble birth and the poſſeſſion of land. The former was always much regarded by all the German nations even in their moſt barbarous ſtate; and as the Saxon nobility had few expenſive pleaſures to diſſipate their fortune, and the commons little trade or induſtry by which they could accumulate riches, theſe two ranks of men, even tho' they were not ſeparated by poſitive laws, might remain long diſtinct, and the noble families continue many ages in opulence and ſplendor. There were no middle rank of men, who could mix gradually with their ſuperiors, and procure to themſelves inſenſibly honour and diſtinction. If by any extraordinary accident, a mean perſon acquired riches, a circumſtance ſo ſingular made him be known and remarked; he became the object of envy, as well as indignation, to all the nobles; he would have great difficulty to defend what he had acquired; and he would find it impoſſible to protect himſelf from oppreſſion, except by courting the patronage of ſome great chieftain, and paying a large price for his ſafety.

There are two ſtatutes among the Saxon laws, which ſeem calculated to confound theſe different ranks of men; that of Athelſtan, by which a merchant, who had made three long ſea voyages on his own account, was intitled to the quality of thane; and that of the ſame prince, by which a ceorle or huſbandman, who had been able to purchaſe five hides of land, and had a chapel, a kitchen, a hall and bell, was raiſed to the ſame diſtinction. But the opportunities were ſo few, by which a merchant or ceorle could thus exalt himſelf above his rank, that the law could never overcome the reigning prejudices; the diſtinction between noble and baſe blood would ſtill be indelible; and the well-born thanes would entertain the higheſt contempt for thoſe legal and factitious ones. Tho' we are not informed of any of theſe circumſtances by antient hiſtorians, they are ſo much founded on the nature of things, that we may admit them as a neceſſary and infallible conſequence of the ſituation of the Kingdom during thoſe ages.

THE cities appear by Domeſday-book to have been at the conqueſt little better than villages. York itſelf, tho' it was always the ſecond, at leaſt the third § [Page 150] city in England, and was the capital of a great province, which never was thoroughly united with the reſt, contained then but 1418 families*. Malmeſbury tells us, that the great diſtinction between the Anglo-Saxon nobility and the French or Norman, was that the latter built magnificent and ſtately caſtles; whereas the former conſumed their immenſe fortunes on riot and hoſpitality in mean houſes. We may thence infer, that the arts in general were much leſs advanced in England than in France; a greater number of idle ſervants and retainers lived about the great families; and as theſe, even in France, were powerful enough to diſturb the execution of the laws, we may judge of the authority, acquired by the ariſtocracy in England. When earl Godwin beſieged the Confeſſor in London, he ſummoned together from all parts his huſcarles, or houſecoerles and retainers, and obliged his ſovereign to accept of the conditions, which he was pleaſed to impoſe upon him.

THE lower rank of free-men were denominated coerles among the Anglo-Saxons; and where they were induſtrious, they were chiefly employed in huſbandry: Whence a coerle, and a huſbandman, became in a manner ſynonimous terms. They cultivated the farms of the nobility or thanes, for which they paid rent; and they ſeem to have been removeable at pleaſure. For there is no mention of leaſes among the Anglo-Saxons: The pride of the nobility, together with the general ignorance of writing, muſt have rendered theſe contracts very rare, and muſt have kept the huſbandmen in a very dependant condition. The rents of farms were then chiefly paid in kind.

But the moſt numerous rank by far in the community ſeems to have been the ſlaves or villains, who were the property of their lords, and were conſequently incapable, themſelves, of all property. Dr. Brady aſſures us, from a ſurvey of Domeſday-book, that, in all the counties of England, the far greater part of the land was occupied by them, and that the huſbandmen, and ſtill more the ſocmen, who were tenants, that could not be removed at pleaſure, were very few in compariſon. This was not the caſe with the German nations, as far as we can collect from the account given us by Tacitus. The perpetual wars in the [Page 151] heptarchy, and the depredations of the Danes, ſeem to have been the cauſe of this great alteration with the Anglo-Saxons. The priſoners taken in battle, or carried off in the frequent inroads, were reduced to ſlavery; and became, by right of war*, entirely at the diſpoſal of their lords. Great property in the nobles, eſpecially if joined to an irregular adminiſtration of juſtice, naturally favours the power of the ariſtocracy; but ſtill more ſo, if the practice of ſlavery be admitted, and has become very common. The nobility not only poſſeſs the influence which always attend riches, but alſo the power which the laws give them over their ſlaves and villains. It becomes then difficult, and almoſt impoſſible, for a private man to remain altogether free and independant.

THERE were two kinds of ſlaves among the Anglo-Saxons; houſehold ſlaves, after the manner of the antients, and praedial or ruſtic, after the manner of the Germans. Theſe latter reſembled the ſerfs, which are at preſent met with in Poland, Denmark, and ſome places in Germany. The power of a maſter over his ſlaves was not unlimited among the Anglo-Saxons, as it was among their anceſtors. If a man beat out his ſlave's eye or teeth, the ſlave recovered his liberty: If he killed him, he paid a fine to the King; provided the ſlave died within a day after the wound or blow: Otherwiſe it paſſed unpuniſhed. The ſelling themſelves or children into ſlavery was always the practice with the German nations§, and was continued by the Anglo-Saxons{inverted †}.

THE great lords and abbots among the Anglo-Saxons poſſeſſed a criminal juriſdiction within their territories, and could puniſh without appeal any thieves or robbers whom they caught there*. This inſtitution muſt have had a very contrary effect to that intended, and muſt have procured robbers a ſure protection in the lands of ſuch noblemen as did not ſincerely mean to diſcourage theſe irregularities.

[Note: Courts of juſtice.] But tho' the general ſtrain of the Anglo-Saxon government ſeems to have become ariſtocratical, there were ſtill conſiderable remains of the antient democracy, which were not indeed ſufficient to protect the loweſt of the people, without the patronage of ſome great lord, but might give ſecurity, and even ſome degree of dignity, to the gentry or inferior nobility. The adminiſtration of juſtice, in particular, by the courts of the Decennary, the Hundred, and the County, were well calculated to defend general liberty, and to reſtrain the exorbitant power of the nobles. In the county-courts or ſhiremotes, all the freeholders were aſſembled [Page 152] twice a-year, and received appeals from the other inferior courts. They there decided all cauſes, eccleſiaſtical as well as civil; and the biſhop, together with the alderman or earl, preſided over them*. The affair was determined in a ſummary manner, without much pleading, formality, or delay, by a majority of voices; and the biſhop and alderman had no further authority than to keep order among the treeholders, and interpoſe with their opinion. Where juſtice was denied during three ſeſſions by the Hundred, and then by the County-court, there lay an appeal to the King's court; but this was not practiſed on ſlight occaſions. The alderman had a third of the fines levied in theſe courts; and as moſt of the puniſhments were then pecuniary, this perquiſite formed a conſiderable part of the profits belonging to his office. The two thirds alſo, which went to the King, made no contemptible ſhare of the public revenue. Any freeholder was fined who abſented himſelf thrice from theſe courts§.

AS the extreme ignorance of the age made deeds and writings very rare, the County or Hundred court was the place where the moſt remarkable civil tranſactions were finiſhed, in order to preſerve a memorial of them, and prevent all future diſputes. Here teſtaments were promulgated, ſlaves manumitted, bargains of ſale concluded; and ſometimes, for greater ſecurity, the moſt conſiderable of theſe deeds were inſerted in the blank leaves of the pariſh bible, which thus became a kind of regiſter, too ſacred to be falſified. It was not unuſual to add to the deed an imprecation on all ſuch as ſhould be guilty of that crime{inverted †}.

AMONG a people, who lived in ſo ſimple a manner as the Anglo-Saxons, the judicial power is always of greater importance than the legiſlative. There were few or no taxes impoſed by the ſtates: There were few ſtatutes enacted; and the nation was leſs governed by laws, than by cuſtoms, which admitted a great latitude of interpretation. Tho' it ſhould, therefore, be allowed, that the Wittenagemot was altogether compoſed of the principal nobility, the county-courts, where all the freeholders were admitted, and which regulated all the daily occurrences of life, formed a very wide baſis for the government, and were no contemptible check on the ariſtocracy. But there is another power ſtill more important than either the judicial or legiſlative; and that is the power of injuring or ſerving by immediate force and violence, for which it is difficult to obtain redreſs in courts of juſtice. In all extenſive governments, where the execution of the laws is feeble, this power naturally falls into the hands of the principal nobility; [Page 153] and the degree of it which prevails, cannot be determined ſo much by the public ſtatutes, as by ſmall ſtrokes of hiſtory, by particular cuſtoms, and ſometimes by the reaſon and nature of things. The highlands of Scotland have been long entitled by law to every privilege of Britiſh ſubjects; but it was not till very lately that the common people could in fact enjoy theſe privileges.

THE powers of all the members of the Anglo-Saxon government are diſputed among hiſtorians and antiquarians; and the extreme obſcurity of the ſubject, even tho' faction had never entered into the queſtion, would naturally have begot thoſe controverſies. But the great influence of the lords over their ſlaves and tenants, the clientſhip of the burghers, the total want of a middling rank of men, the total want alſo of lawyers who did not then form a ſeparate profeſſion, the extent of the monarchy, the looſe execution of the laws, the continued diſorders and convulſions of the ſtate; all theſe circumſtances evince, that the Anglo-Saxon government became at laſt extremely ariſtocratical; and the events, during the period immediately preceding the conqueſt, confirm this inference or conjecture.

BOTH the puniſhments inflicted on crimes by the Anglo-Saxon [...] [...] cature, and the methods of proof employed in all cauſes, appear [...] [...] gular, and are very different from thoſe which prevail at preſent among [...] [...] lized nations.

WE muſt conceive, that the antient Germans were very li [...]le removed from the original ſtate of nature: The ſocial confederacy among them was more martial than civil: They had chiefly in view the means of attack or defence againſt public enemies, not thoſe of protection againſt their fellow citizens: Their poſſeſſions were ſo ſlender and ſo equal, that they were not expoſed to great danger; and the natural bravery of the people made every man truſt to himſelf and to his particular friends for his defence or vengeance. This defect in the political union drew much cloſer the knot of particular conſederacies: An inſult upon any man was regarded by all his relations and aſſociates as a common injury: They were bound, by honour as well as by a ſenſe of general intereſt, to revenge his death, or any violence which he had ſuffered: They retaliated on the aggreſſor by like violences; and if he was protected, as was natural and uſual, by his own clan, the quarrel was ſpread ſtill wider, and bred endleſs diſorders in the nation.

The Friſians, a tribe of the Germans, had never advanced beyond this wild and imperfect ſtate of ſociety; and the right of private revenge ſtill remained among them unlimited and uncontrouled*. But the other German nations, in the age of Tacitus, had made one ſtep farther towards completing the political or [Page 154] civil union. Tho' it ſtill continued to be an indiſpenſible point of honour for every clan to revenge the death or injury of their fellow, the magiſtrate had acquired a right of interpoſing in the quarrel, and of accommodating the difference. He obliged the perſon maimed or injured, and the relations of one killed, to accept of a preſent from the aggreſſor and his relations*, as a compenſation for the injury, and to drop all farther proſecution of revenge. That the accommodation of one quarrel might not be the ſource of more, this preſent was fixed and certain, according to the rank of the perſon killed or injured, and was commonly paid in cattle, the chief property of thoſe rude and uncultivated nations. A preſent of this kind gratified the revenge of the injured clan by the loſs which the aggreſſor ſuffered: It ſatisfied their pride by the ſubmiſſion which it expreſſed: It diminiſhed their regret for the loſs or injury of a kinſman by their acquiſition of new property: And thus general peace was for a moment reſtored to the ſociety.

BUT when the German nations had been ſettled ſome time in the provinces of the Roman empire, they made ſtill a new ſtep towards a more cultivated life, and their criminal juſtice gradually improved and refined itſelf. The magiſtrate, whoſe office it was to guard public peace and to ſuppreſs private animoſities, conceived himſelf to be injured by every injury done to any of his people; and beſides the compenſation to the perſon who ſuffered, or to his clan, he thought himſelf entitled to exact a fine, called the Fridwit, as an atonement for the breach of peace, and as a reward for the pains which he had taken in accommodating the quarrel. When this idea, which is ſo natural, was once ſuggeſted, it was readily received both by magiſtrate and people. The numerous fines which were levied, augmented the profits of the King: And the people were ſenſible, that he would be more vigilant in interpoſing with his good offices, when he reaped ſuch immediate advantage by them; and that injuries would be leſs frequent, when, beſides compenſation to the perſon injured, they were expoſed to this additional penalty.

THIS ſhort abſtract contains the hiſtory of the criminal juriſprudence of the northern nations for ſeveral centuries. The ſtate of England in this particular, during the period of the Anglo-Saxons, may be judged of by the collection of [Page 155] antient laws, publiſhed by Lambard and Wilkins. The chief purport of theſe laws is not to prevent or ſuppreſs entirely private quarrels, which the legiſlators knew to be impoſſible, but only to regulate and moderate them. The laws of Alfred enjoin, that if any one knows, that his enemy or aggreſſor, after doing him an injury, reſolves to keep within his own houſe and his own lands *, he ſhall not fight him, till he require compenſation for the injury. If he be ſtrong enough to beſiege him in his houſe, he may do it for ſeven days without attacking him; and if the aggreſſor is willing, during that time, to ſurrender himſelf and his arms, his adverſary may detain him thirty days, but is afterwards obliged to reſtore him ſafe to his kindred, and be contented with the compenſation. If the criminal fly to the temple, that ſanctuary muſt not be violated. Where the aſſailant has not force ſufficient to beſiege the criminal in his houſe, he muſt apply to the alderman for aſſiſtance; and if he refuſes aid, the aſſailant muſt have recourſe to the King: And he is not allowed to aſſault the houſe, till after a refuſal of aſſiſtance from this ſupreme magiſtrate. If any one meets with his enemy, and is ignorant that he was reſolved to keep within his own lands, he muſt, before he attacks him, require him to ſurrender himſelf a priſoner, and deliver up his arms; in which caſe he may detain him thirty days: But if he refuſes to deliver up his arms, it is then lawful to fight him. A ſlave may fight in his maſter's quarrel: A father may fight in his ſon's with any one, except with his maſter.

IT was enacted by King Ina, that no man ſhould take revenge of an injury till he had firſt demanded compenſation, and had been refuſed it.

KING Edmond, in the preamble to his laws, mentions the general diſſatisfaction, occaſioned by the multiplicity of private feuds and battles; and he eſtabliſhes ſeveral expedients to remedy this grievance. He ordains, that if any one murders another, he may, with the aſſiſtance of his kindred, pay within a twelve-month the fine of his crime; and if they abandon him, he ſhall alone ſuſtain the deadly feud or quarrel with the kindred of the murdered perſon: His own kindred are free from the feud, but on condition that they neither converſe with the criminal, nor ſupply him with meat or other neceſſaries: If any of them, after renouncing him, receive him into their houſe, or give him aſſiſtance, they are finable to the King, and are involved in the feud. If the kindred of the murdered perſon take revenge of any but the criminal himſelf, after he is abandoned by his kindred, all their property is forfeited, and they are declared to be enemies to the King and all his friends. It is alſo ordained, that the fine for murder ſhall [Page 156] never be remitted by the King*; and that no criminal ſhall be killed who flies to the church, or any of the King's towns; and the King himſelf declares, that his houſe ſhall give no protection to murderers, till they have ſatisfied the church by their penance, and the kindred of the deceaſed by making compenſation. There follows the method appointed for tranſacting this compoſition.

THESE attempts of Edmond to contract and diminiſh the feuds, were contrary to the antient ſpirit of the northern barbarians, and were an advance towards a more regular adminiſtration of juſtice. By the Salic law, any man might, by a public declaration, exempt himſelf from his family-quarrels: But then he was conſidered by the law as no longer belonging to the family; and he was deprived of all right of ſucceſſion, as a puniſhment of his cowardice§.

THE price of the king's head, or his weregild, as it was then called, was by law 30,000 th imſas, a ſpecies of coin whoſe value is uncertain. The price of the prince's head was 15,000 thrimſas; that of a biſhop's or alderman's 8000; a ſherin's 4000; a thane's or clergyman's 2000; a ceorle's 266. Theſe prices were fixed by the laws of the Angles. By the Mercian law, the price of a ceorle's head was 200 ſhillings; that of a thane's ſix times as much; that of a King's ſix times more{inverted †}. By the laws of Kent, the price of the archbiſhop's head was higher than that of the King's*. Such reſpect was then paid to the eccleſiaſtics! It muſt be underſtood, that where a perſon was unable to pay the fine, he was put out of the protection of law, and the kindred of the deceaſed had liberty to puniſh him as they thought proper.

SOME antiquarians have thought, that theſe compenſations were only given for man-ſlaughter, not for wilful murder: But no ſuch diſtinction appears in the laws; and it is contradicted by the practice of all the other barbarous nations, by that of the antient Germans, and by that curious monument above mentioned of Saxon antiquity, preſerved by Hickes. There is indeed a law of Alfred's, making wilful murder capital§; but this ſeems only to have been an attempt of that great legiſlator for eſtabliſhing a better police in the kingdom, and to have remained without execution. By the laws of the ſame prince, a conſpiracy againſt the life of the King might be redeemed by a fine{inverted †}.

[Page 157] THE price of all kinds of wounds was likewiſe fixed by the Saxon laws: An wound of an inch long under the hair was paid with one ſhilling: One of a like ſize on the face, two ſhillings: Thirty ſhillings for the loſs of an ear; and ſo forth*. There ſeems not to have been any difference made, according to the dignity of the perſon. By Ethelbert's laws, any one who committed adultery with his neighbour's wife was obliged to pay him a fine, and buy him another wife.

THESE inſtitutions are not peculiar to the antient Germans. They ſeem to he the neceſſary progreſs of criminal juriſprudence among every free people, where the will of the ſovereign is not implicitly obeyed. We find them among the antient Greeks during the time of the Trojan war. Compoſitions for murder are mentioned in Neſtor's ſpeech to Achilles in the ninth Iliad, and are called [...]. The Iriſh, who never had any connexions with the German nations, adopted the ſame practice till very lately; and the price of a man's head was called among them his cric; as we learn from Sir John Davis. The ſame cuſtom ſeems alſo to have prevailed among the Jews.

THEFT and robbery were very frequent among the Anglo Saxons. To impoſe ſome check upon theſe crimes, it was ordained that no man ſhould ſell or buy any thing above twenty pence value, except in open market; and every bargain of ſale muſt be executed before witneſſes§. Gangs of robbers much diſturbed the peace of the country; and the law determined, that a tribe of banditti, conſiſting of between ſeven and thirty-five perſons, was to be called a turma, or troop: Any greater company was denominated an army{inverted †}. The puniſhments for this crime were various, but none of them capital*. If any man could tract his ſtolen cattle into another's ground, the latter was obliged to ſhow the tracts out of it, or pay their value.

TREASON and rebellion, to whatever exceſs they were carried, were not then capital, but might be redeemed by a ſum of money. The legiſlators, knowing it impoſſible to prevent all diſorders, only impoſed a higher fine on breaches of the peace committed in the King's court, or before an alderman or biſhop. An alehouſe too ſeems to have been conſidered as a privileged place; and any quarrels that aroſe there were more ſeverely puniſhed than elſewhere.

[Page 158] [Note: Rules of proof.] IF the puniſhments of crimes among the Anglo-Saxons appear ſingular, the proofs were no leſs ſo; and were alſo the natural reſult of the ſituation of theſe people. Whatever we may imagine concerning the uſual truth and ſincerity of men, who live in a rude and barbarous ſtate, there is much more falſehood, and even perjury, among them than among civilized nations; and virtue, which is nothing but a more enlarged and more cultivated reaſon, never flouriſhes to any degree, nor is founded on ſteady principles of honour, except where a good education becomes general; and men are taught the pernicious conſequences of vice, treachery, and immorality. Even ſuperſtition, tho' more prevalent among ignorant nations, is but a poor ſupply for the defects of knowledge and education; and our European anceſtors, who employed every moment the expedient of ſwearing on extraordinary croſſes and reliques, were leſs honourable in all engagements than their poſterity, who from experience have omitted thoſe ineffectual ſecurities. This general proneneſs to perjury was much increaſed by the uſual want of diſcernment in judges, who could not diſcuſs an intricate evidence, and were obliged to number, not weigh, the teſtimony of the witneſſes*. Hence the ridiculous practice of obliging men to bring compurgators, who pretended not to know any thing of the fact, but expreſſed upon oath that they believed the perſon ſpoke true; and theſe compurgators were in ſome caſes multiplied to the number of three hundred. The practice alſo of ſingle combat was employed by moſt nations on the continent as a remedy againſt falſe evidence; and tho' it was frequently dropt, from the oppoſition of the clergy, it was continually revived, from the experience of the falſehood attending the teſtimony of witneſſes It became at laſt a ſpecies of juriſprudence; and the caſes were determined by law, in which the party might challenge his adverſary, or the witneſſes, or the judge himſelf§: And tho' theſe cuſtoms were abſurd, they were rather an improvement on the methods of trial, which had formerly been practiſed among theſe barbarous nations, and which ſtill prevailed among the Anglo-Saxons.

WHEN any controverſy about a fact became too intricate for theſe ignorant judges to unravel, they had recourſe to what they called the judgment of God, that is, to fortune; and their methods for conſulting this oracle were various. [Page 159] One of them was the deciſion by the croſs; and it was practiſed in this manner. When a perſon was accuſed of any crime, he firſt cleared himſelf by oath, attended by eleven compurgators: He next took two pieces of wood, one of which was marked with the ſign of the croſs; and wrapping both up in wool, he placed them on the altar, or on ſome celebrated relique. After ſolemn prayers for the ſucceſs of the experiment, a prieſt, or in his ſtead ſome unexperienced youth, took up one of the pieces of wood, and if he happened upon that marked with the figure of the croſs, the perſon was pronounced innocent; if otherwiſe, guilty*. This practice, as it aroſe from ſuperſtition, was aboliſhed by it in France. The Emperor, Lewis the Debonnaire, prohibited that method of trial, not becauſe it was uncertain, but leſt that ſacred figure, ſays he, of the croſs ſhould be proſtituted in common diſputes and controverſies.

THE ordeal was another eſtabliſhed method of trial among the Anglo Saxons. It was practiſed either by boiling water or red-hot iron. The water or iron was conſecrated by many prayers, maſſes, faſtings, and exorciſms; after which, the perſon accuſed either took up a ſtone ſunk into the water to a certain depth, or carried the iron a certain diſtance; and his hand being wrapped up, and the covering ſealed for three days, if there appeared on examining it no marks of burning, he was pronounced innocent; if otherwiſe, guilty§. The trial by cold water was different: The perſon was thrown into conſecrated water; if he ſwam, he was guilty; if he ſunk, innocent{inverted †}. It is difficult for us to conceive, how any innocent perſon could ever eſcape by the one trial, or any criminal be convicted by the other. But there was another uſage admirably calculated for allowing every criminal to eſcape, who had confidence enough to try it. A conſecrated cake, called a corſned, was produced; which if the perſon could ſwallow and digeſt, he was pronounced innocent*.

[Note: Military force.] THE feudal law, if it had place at all among the Anglo-Saxons, which is doubtful, certainly was not extended over all the landed property, and was not attended with thoſe conſequences of homage, reliefs, wardſhip, marriage, and other burthens, which were inſeparable from it in the kingdoms of the continent, [Page 160] As the Saxons expelled or deſtroyed entirely the antient Britains, they planted themſelves in this iſland on the ſame footing with their anceſtors in Germany, and found no occaſion for the feudal inſtitutions*, which were calculated to maintain a kind of ſtanding army, always in readineſs to ſuppreſs any inſurrection of the conquered people. The trouble and expence of defending the ſtate in England lay equally upon all the land; and it was uſual for every five hides to equip a man for the ſervice. The trinoda neceſſitas, as it was called, or the burthen of expeditions, of repairing high-ways, and of building and ſupporting bridges, was inſeparable from landed property, even tho' it belonged to the church or monaſteries, unleſs exempted by a particular charter. The ceorles or huſbandmen were provided with arms, and were obliged to take their turn in military duty. There were computed to be 243,600 hides in England; and conſequently the ordinary military force of the kingdom conſiſted of 48,720 men; tho', no doubt, on extraordinary occaſions, a greater power might be aſſumbled. The King and nobility ſeem to have had ſome military tenants, who were called Sithcun-men§. And there were probably ſome lands annexed to the office of alderman, and to ſome other offices; but theſe ſeem not to have been of a great extent, and were poſſeſt only during pleaſure, as in the commencement of the feudal law in other countries of Europe.

[Note: Public revenue.] THE revenue of the King ſeems to have conſiſted chiefly of his demeſnes, which were large; and of the tolls and impoſts which he probably levied at diſcretion on the boroughs and ſea-ports, that lay within his demeſnes. He could not alienate any part of his land, even to religious uſes, without the conſent of the ſtates{inverted †}. Danegelt was a land-tax of a ſhilling a hide, impoſed by the ſtates*, either for payment of the ſums exacted by the Danes, or for putting the kingdom in a poſture of defence againſt there invaders.

[Note: Value of money.] THE Saxon pound, as likewiſe thoſe coined for ſome centuries after the conqueſt, were three times the weight of our preſent money: There were forty-eight ſhillings in their pou [...], and five pence in a ſhilling; and conſequently a Saxon ſhi ling was a fifth larger than ours, and a Saxon-penny three times as large. As to the value of money in thoſe times, compared to the neceſſaries of [Page 161] life, there are ſome, tho' not very certain means of computation. A ſheep by the laws of Athelſtan was eſtimated at a ſhilling; that is, fifteen-pence of our money. The fleece was two-fifths of the value of the whole ſheep*; much above its preſent eſtimation; of which the reaſon probably was, that the Saxons, like the antients, were little acquainted with any other cloathing but that made of wool. Silk and cotton, were quite unknown: Linen was not much uſed. An ox was computed at ſix times the value of a ſheep; a cow at four. If we ſuppoſe, that the cattle in that age, from the defects of huſbandry, were not ſo large as they are at preſent in England, we may compute that money was then near ten times of greater value. A horſe was valued at about thirty-ſix ſhillings of our money, or thirty Saxon ſhillings; a mare a third leſs. A man at three pounds. The board-wages of a child the firſt year was eight ſhillings, a cow's paſture in ſummer, and an ox in winter§. William of Malmeſbury mentions it as a high price that William Rufus gave fifteen marks for a horſe, or about thirty pounds of our preſent money{inverted †}. Between the years 900 and 1000, Ednoth bought a hide of land for about 118 ſhillings*. This was a little more than a ſhilling an acre, which indeed appears to have been the uſual price, as we may learn from other accounts. A palfrey was ſold for twelve ſhillings about the year 966. The value of an ox, in King Ethelred's time was between ſeven and eight ſhillings; a cow about ſix ſhillings. Gervas of Tilbury, ſays, that in Henry firſt's time, bread for a hundred men was rated at three ſhillings, or a ſhilling of that age; for it is thought that ſoon after the conqueſt a pound ſterling was divided into twenty ſhillings: A ſheep was rated at a ſhilling, and ſo of other things in proportion. In Athelſtan's time a ram was valued at a ſhilling, or four-pence Saxon§. The tenants of Shireburn were obliged, at their choice, to pay either ſix-pence or four hens{inverted †}. About 1232, the abbot of St. Albans, going on a journey, hired ſeven handſome ſtout horſes; and agreed, if any of them died on the road, to pay the owner 30 ſhillings a piece of our preſent money*. It is to be remarked, that in all antient times, corn, being a ſpecies of manufactory, bore always a higher price, compared to cattle, than it does in our times. The Saxon Chronicle, tells us, that in the reign of Edward the Confeſſor there was the moſt terrible famine ever known; inſomuch that a quarter of wheat roſe to ſixty-pennies, or about fifteen ſhillings of our preſent money. Conſequently it [Page 162] was as dear as if it now coſt ſeven pounds ten ſhillings ſterling. This much exceeds the great famine in the end of Queen Elizabeth; when a quarter of wheat was ſold for four pounds. Money in this laſt period was nearly of the ſame value as in our time. Theſe enormous famines are a certain proof of bad huſbandry.

ON the whole, there are three things to be conſidered, wherever a ſum of money is mentioned in antient times. Firſt, the change of denomination, by which a pound has been reduced to the third part of its antient weight in ſilver. Secondly, the change in value by the greater plenty of money, which has reduced the ſame weight of ſilver to ten times leſs value, compared to commodities; and conſequently, a pound ſterling to the thirtieth part of the antient value. Thirdly, the fewer people and leſs induſtry, which were then to be found in every European kingdom. This circumſtance made even the thirtieth part of the ſum more difficult to levy, and cauſed any ſum to have more than thirty times more weight and influence both abroad and at home, than in our times; in the ſame manner that a ſum, an hundred thouſand pounds for inſtance, is at preſent more difficult to levy in a ſmall ſtate, ſuch as Bavaria, and can operate greater effects on ſuch a ſmall community, than on England. This laſt difference is not eaſy to be calculated: But allowing, that England has now above five times more induſtry, and three times more people than it had at the conqueſt and for ſome reigns after it, we are, upon that ſuppoſition, to conceive, taking all circumſtances together, every ſum of money mentioned by hiſtorians, as if it were multiplied more than an hundred-fold above a ſum of the ſame denomination at preſent.

IN the Saxon times, land was divided equally among all the male-children of the deceaſed, according to the cuſtom of Gavelkind. Entails were ſometimes practiſed in thoſe times*. Lands were chiefly of two kinds, bockland, or land held by book or charter, which were regarded as full property, and deſcended to the heirs of the poſſeſſor; and folkland, or the land held by the ceorles and common people, who were removeable at pleaſure, and were indeed only tenants during the will of their lords.

THE firſt attempt, which we find in England to ſeparate the eccleſiaſtical from the civil juriſdiction, was that law of Edgar, by which all diſputes among the clergy were ordered to be carried before the biſhop. The pennances were then very ſevere; but as a man could buy them off by money, or might ſubſtitute others to perform them, they lay very eaſy upon the rich.

[Page 163] [Note: Manners.] WITH regard to the manners of the Anglo-Saxons we can ſay little, but that they were in general a rude, uncultivated people, ignorant of letters, unſkilful in the mechanical arts, untamed to ſubmiſſion under law and government, addicted to intemperance, riot, and diſorder. Their beſt quality was their military courage, which yet was not ſupported by diſcipline or conduct. Their want of fidelity to the prince, or to any truſt repoſed in them, appears ſtrongly in the hiſtory of their latter period; and their want of humanity in all their hiſtory. Even the Norman hiſtorians, notwithſtanding the low ſtate of the arts in their own country, ſpeak of them as barbarians, when they mention the invaſion made upon them by the duke of Normandy. The conqueſt put the people in a ſituation of receiving ſlowly from abroad the rudiments of ſcience and cultivation, and of correcting their rough and licentious manners.

5. CHAP. IV. WILLIAM the Conqueror.

[Page 164]

Conſequences of the battle of Haſtings—Submiſſion of the Engliſh—Settlement of the government—King's return to Normandy—Diſcontents of the Engl [...]ſh—Their inſurrections—Rigors of the Norman government—New inſurrections—New rigors of the government—Introduction of the feudal law—Innovation in eccleſiaſtical government—Inſurrection of the Norman barons diſpute about inveſtitures—Revolt of prince Robert—Domeſday-book—The new foreſt—War with France—Death—and character of William the Conqueror.

year 1066 [Note: Conſequences of the battle of Haſtings.] NOTHING could exceed the conſternation, which ſeized the Engliſh, when they received intelligence of the unfortunate battle of Haſtings, the death of their King, the ſlaughter of their principal nobility, and of their braveſt warriors, and the rout and diſperſion of the remainder. But tho' the loſs, which they had ſuſtained in that fatal action, was conſiderable, it might eaſily have been repaired by a great nation; where the people were generally armed, and where there reſided ſo many powerful noblemen in every province, who could have aſſembled their retainers, and have obliged the duke of Normandy to divide his army, and probably to waſte it in a multitude of actions and rencounters. It was thus, that the kingdom had formerly reſiſted, for many years, its invaders, and had been gradually ſubdued, by the continued efforts of the Romans, Saxons, and Danes; and equal difficulties might have been apprehended by William in this bold and hazardous enterprize. But there were ſeveral vices in the Anglo-Saxon conſtitution which rendered it difficult for the Engliſh to defend their liberties in ſo critical an emergency. The people had in a good meaſure loſt all national pride and ſpirit, by their recent and long ſubjection to the Danes; and as Canute had, in the courſe of his adminiſtration, much abated the rigors of conqueſt, and had governed them equitably by their own laws, they regarded with the leſs terror the ignominy of a foreign yoke, and deemed the inconveniences of ſubmiſſion leſs formidable than thoſe of bloodſhed, war, and reſiſtance. Their attachment alſo to the antient royal family had been much weakened by their [Page 165] habitude of ſubmiſſion to the Daniſh princes, and by their late election of Harold, or their acquieſcence in his uſurpation. And as they had long been accuſtomed to regard Edgar Atheling, the only heir of the Saxon line, as unfit to govern them even in times of order and tranquillity; they could entertain ſmall hopes of his being able to repair ſuch great loſſes as they had ſuſtained, or to reſiſt the victorious arms of the duke of Normandy.

THAT they might not, however, be altogether wanting to themſelves in this extreme neceſſity, the Engliſh took ſome ſteps towards adjuſting their disjointed government, and uniting themſelves againſt the common enemy. The two potent earls, Edwin and Morcar, who had fled to London with the remains of the broken army, took the lead on this occaſion; and in concert with Stigand, archbiſhop of Canterbury, a man poſſeſſed of great authority, and of ample revenues, proclaimed Edgar King, and endeavoured to put the people in a poſture of defence, and encourage them to reſiſt the Normans*. But the terror of the late defeat, and the near neighbourhood of the invaders, increaſed the confuſion, inſeparable from great revolutions; and every reſolution propoſed was haſty, fluctuating, variable; diſconcerted by fear or faction; ill planned, and worſe executed.

WILLIAM, that his enemies might not have leizure to recover their conſternation or unite their councils, immediately put himſelf in motion after his victory, and reſolved to proſecute an enterprize, which nothing but celerity and vigor could render finally ſucceſsful. His firſt attempt was againſt Romney, whoſe inhabitants he ſeverely puniſhed on account of their cruel treatment of ſome Norman ſeamen and ſoldiers, who had been carried thither by ſtreſs of weather or by a miſtake in their courſe: And foreſeeing that his conqueſt of England might ſtill be attended with many difficulties and with much oppoſition, he thought it neceſſary, before he ſhould advance farther into the country, to make himſelf maſter of Dover, which would both ſecure him a retreat in caſe of adverſe fortune, and afford him a ſafe landing-place for ſuch ſupplies as might be requiſite for aſſiſting him to puſh his advantages. The terror, diffuſed by his victory at Haſtings, was ſo great, that the garriſon of Dover, tho' numerous and well provided of every thing, immediately capitulated; and as the Normans, ruſhing in to take poſſeſſion of the town, haſtily ſet fire to ſome of the houſes, William, who was deſirous to conciliate the minds of the Engliſh by an appearance of lenity and juſtice, made reparation to the inhabitants for their loſſes.

[Page 166] THE Norman army, being much diſtreſſed with a dyſentery, was obliged to remain here for eight days; and the duke, on their recovery, advanced with quick marches towards London, and by his approach increaſed the confuſions, which were already ſo prevalent in the Engliſh councils. The eccleſiaſtics in particular, whoſe influence was great over the people, began to declare in his favour; and as moſt of the biſhops and dignified clergymen were even then French or Norman, the pope's bull, by which his enterprize was avowed and conſecrated, was now openly inſiſted on as a reaſon for general ſubmiſſion. The ſuperior learning of theſe prelates, by which, during the Confeſſor's reign, they had raiſed themſelves above the ignorant Saxons, made their opinions be received with implicit faith; and a young prince, like Edgar, whoſe perſonal qualities were ſo mean, was but ill qualified to reſiſt the impreſſion, which they made on the minds of the people. A repulſe, which a body of Londoners received from five hundred Norman horſe, renewed the terror of the great defeat at Haſtings*; the eaſy ſubmiſſion of all the inhabitants of Kent was an additional diſcouragement to them; the burning of Southwark before their eyes made them dread a like fate to their own city; and no man any longer entertained thoughts but of immediate ſafety and of ſelf-preſervation. Even the earls, Edwin and Morcar, in deſpair of making effectual reſiſtance, retired northwards with their troops to their own provinces; and the people thenceforth diſpoſed themſelves unanimouſly to yield to the victor. [Note: Submiſſion of the Engliſh.] As ſoon as William paſſed the Thames at Wallingford, and reached Berkhamſtead, Stigand, the primate, made ſubmiſſions to him; and before the prince came within ſight of the city, all the chief nobility, and Edgar Atheling himſelf, the new elected King, came into his camp, and declared their intention of yielding to his authority. They requeſted him to accept of their crown, which they now conſidered as vacant; and declared to him, that, as they had always been ruled by regal power, they deſired to follow, in this particular, the example of their anceſtors, and knew of no one more worthy than himſelf to hold the reins of government§.

THO' this was the great object, to which the duke's enterprize tended, he ſeemed to deliberate on the offer; and being deſirous, at firſt, of preſerving the appearance of a legal adminiſtration, he wiſhed to obtain a more expreſs and formal conſent both of his own army and of the Engliſh nation{inverted †}: But [Page 167] Aimar of Aquitain, a man equally reſpected for his valor in the field, and for his prudence in council, remonſtrating with him on the danger of delay in ſo critical a conjuncture, he laid aſide all farther ſcruples, and accepted of the crown which was profered to him. Orders were immediately iſſued to prepare every thing for the ceremony of his coronation; but as he was yet afraid to place entire confidence in the Londoners, who were numerous and warlike, he mean while commanded fortreſſes to be erected, in order to curb the inhabitants, and to ſecure his perſon and government*.

STIGAND was not much in the duke's favour, both becauſe he had intruded into the ſee on the expulſion of Robert, the Norman, and becauſe he poſſeſſed ſuch influence and authority over the Engliſh as might be dangerous to a new eſtabliſhed monarch. William, therefore, pretending that the primate had obtained his pall in an irregular manner from pope Benedict IX. who was himſelf an uſurper, refuſed to be conſecrated by him, and conferred that honour on Aldred, archbiſhop of York. Weſtminſter abbey was the place appointed for that magnificent ceremony; the moſt conſiderable of the nobility, both Engliſh and Norman, attended the duke on this occaſion; [Note: 26th Dec.] Aldred in a ſhort ſpeech aſked the former, whether they agreed to accept of William as their King; the biſhop of Conſtance put the ſame queſtion to the latter; and both being anſwered with acclamations, Aldred adminiſtered to the duke the uſual coronation oath, by which he bound himſelf to protect the church, to adminiſter juſtice, and to repreſs violence; and he then anointed him and put the crown upon his head§. There appeared nothing but joy in the countenance of the ſpectators: But in that very moment, there burſt forth the ſtrongeſt ſymptoms of the jealouſy and animoſity which prevailed between the nations, and which continually encreaſed during the reign of this prince. The Norman ſoldiers, who were placed without in order to guard the church, hearing the ſhouts within, fancied that the Engliſh were committing violence on their duke; and they immediately aſſaulted the populace, and ſet fire to the neighbouring houſes. The alarm was conveyed to the nobility who ſurrounded the prince; both Engliſh and Normans, full of apprehenſions, ruſhed out to ſecure themſelves from the preſent danger; and it was with difficulty, that William himſelf was able to appeaſe the tumult{inverted †}.

[Page 168] year 1067 [Note: Settlement of the government.] THE King, thus poſſeſſed of the throne by a pretended deſtination of King Edward, and by an irregular election of the people, but ſtill more by force of arms, retired from London to Berking in Eſſex; and there received the ſubmiſſions of all the nobility, who had not attended his coronation. Edric, ſirnamed the Foreſter, grand-nephew to that Edric, ſo noted for his repeated acts of perfidy during the reigns of Ethelred and Edmond; earl Coxo, a man famous for bravery; even Edwin and Morcar, earls of Mercia and Northumberland; with the other principal noblemen of England, came and ſwore fealty to him; were received into favour; and were confirmed in the poſſeſſion of their eſtates and dignities*. Every thing bore the appearance of peace and tranquillity; and William had no other occupation than to give contentment to the foreigners who had helped him to the throne, and to his new ſubjects, who had ſo readily ſubmitted to him.

HE had got poſſeſſion of the treaſure of Harold, which was conſiderable; and being alſo ſupplied with rich preſents from the opulent men in all parts of England, who were ſolicitous to gain the favour of their new ſovereign, he diſtributed great ſums among his troops, and by this liberality gave them hopes of obtaining at length thoſe more durable eſtabliſhments, which they had expected from his enterprize. The eccleſiaſtics, both at home and abroad, had much forwarded his ſucceſs; and he failed not, in return, to expreſs his gratitude and devotion in the manner which was moſt acceptable to them: He ſent Harold's ſtandard to the Pope, accompanied with many valuable preſents: All the conſiderable monaſteries and churches in France, where prayers had been put up for his ſucceſs, now taſted of his bounty: The Engliſh monks found him well diſpoſed to favour their order; and he built a new convent near Haſtings, which he called Battle-Abbey, and which, under pretext of ſupporting monks to pray for his own ſoul, and that of Harold, ſerved as a perpetual memorial of his victory.

HE introduced into England that ſtrict execution of juſtice, for which his adminiſtration had been ſo celebrated in Normandy; and even during this violent revolution, every diſorder or oppreſſion met with the moſt rigorous puniſhment§. His own army in particular was governed with ſevere diſcipline; and notwithſtanding the inſolence of victory, care was taken to give as little offence as poſſible to the jealouſy of the vanquiſhed{inverted †}. The King appeared ſolicitous to unite in an amicable manner the Normans and the Engliſh, by intermarriages and alliances; [Page 169] and all his new ſubjects who approached his perſon were received with affability and regard. No ſigns of ſuſpicion appeared, not even towards Edgar Atheling, the heir of the antient royal family, whom he confirmed in the honours of earl of Oxford, conferred on him by Harold, and whom he affected to treat with the higheſt kindneſs, as nephew to the Confeſſor, his great friend and benefactor*. Tho' he forfeited the eſtates of Harold, and of thoſe who had fought in the battle of Haſtings on the ſide of that prince, whom he repreſented as an uſurper, he ſeemed willing to admit of every plauſible excuſe for paſt oppoſition to his pretenſions, and received many into favour, who had carried arms againſt him. He confirmed the liberties and immunities of London and the other cities of England; and appeared deſirous of replacing every thing on antient eſtabliſhments. In his whole adminiſtration, he bore the ſemblance of the lawful prince, not of the conqueror; and the Engliſh began to flatter themſelves, that they had changed, not the form of their government, but only the ſucceſſion of their ſovereigns, a matter which gave them ſmall concern. And the better to reconcile his new ſubjects to his authority, he made a progreſs thro' ſome parts of England; and beſides a ſplendid court and majeſtic preſence, which overawed the people, already ſtruck with his military fame, the appearance of his clemency and juſtice gained the approbation of the wiſe, who were attentive to the firſt ſteps of their new ſovereign.

BUT amidſt this confidence and friendſhip, which he expreſſed for the Engliſh, the King took care to place all real power in the hands of his Normans, and ſtill to keep poſſeſſion of the ſword, to which, he was ſenſible, he had owed his advancement to ſovereign authority. He diſarmed the city of London and other places, which appeared moſt warlike and populous§; and building fortreſſes and citadels in that capital, as well as in Wincheſter, Hereford, and the cities beſt ſituated for commanding the kingdom, he quartered Norman ſoldiers in all of them, and left no where any power able to reſiſt or oppoſe him{inverted †}. He beſtowed the forfeited eſtates on the moſt powerful of his captains, and eſtabliſhed funds for the payment of his ſoldiers*. And thus, while his civil adminiſtration carried the face of a legal magiſtrate, his military inſtitutions were thoſe of a maſter and yrant; at leaſt of one, who reſerved to himſelf, whenever he pleaſed, the power of aſſuming that character.

[Page 170] [Note: [...] ] BY this mixture, however, of vigour and lenity, he had ſo pacified the minds of the Engliſh, that he thought he might ſafely reviſit his native country, and enjoy the triumph and congratulation of his antient ſubjects. [Note: March] He left the adminiſtration in the hands of his uterine brother, Odo, biſhop of Baieux, and of William Fitz Oſbern*; and that their authority might be expoſed to leſs danger, he carried over with him all the moſt conſiderable nobility of England, who both ſerved to grace his court by their preſence and magnificent retinues, and were detained as hoſtages for the fidelity of the nation. Among theſe, were Edgar Atheling, Stigand the primate, the earls Edwin and Morcar, Waltheof, the ſon of the famous and brave earl Siward, with others, eminent for the greatneſs of their fortunes and families, or for their eccleſiaſtical and civil dignities. He was viſited at the abbey of Feſcamp, where he reſided during ſome time, by Rodulph, uncle to the French King, and by many powerful princes and nobles, who, having contr buted to his enterprize, were deſirous of participating in the joy and advantages of its ſucceſs. His Engliſh courtiers, willing to ingratiate themſelves with their new ſovereign, endeavoured to outſhine each other in equipages and entertainments; and made a diſplay of riches, which ſtruck the foreigners with aſtoniſhment. William of Poictiers, a Norman hiſtorian§, who was preſent, ſpeaks with admiration of the beauty of their perſons, the ſize and workmanſhip of their ſilver plate, the coſtlineſs of their embroideries, an art in which the Engliſh then excelled; and he expreſſes himſelf in ſuch terms, as would much exalt our idea of the opulence and cultivation of the people{inverted †}. But tho' every thing bore the face of joy and feſtivity, and William himſelf treated his new courtiers with great appearance of kindneſs, it was impoſſible to prevent altogether the inſolence of the Normans; and the Engliſh nobles received ſmall pleaſure from thoſe entertainments, where they conſidered themſelves as led in triumph by their oſtentatious conqueror.

[Note: Diſcontents of the Engliſh.] AFFAIRS in England took ſtill a worſe turn during the abſence of the ſovereign. Diſcontents and complaints multiplied every where; ſecret conſpiracies were entered into againſt the government; hoſtilities were already begun in many places; and every thing ſeemed to menace a revolution as rapid as that which had placed [Page 171] William on the throne. The hiſtorian above-mentioned, who is a panegyriſt of his maſter, throws the blame entirely on the fickle and mutinous diſpoſition of the Engliſh, and highly celebrates the juſtice and lenity of Odo's and Fitz Oſbern's adminiſtration*. But other hiſtorians, with more probability, impute the cauſe chiefly to the Normans, who, deſpiſing a people that had ſo eaſily ſubmitted to the yoke, envying their riches, and grudging the reſtraints impoſed upon their own rapine, were deſirous of provoking them to a rebellion, by which they hoped to acquire new confiſcations and forfeitures, and to ſatisfy thoſe unbounded hopes, which they had formed in entering on this enterprize.

IT is evident, that the chief reaſon of this alteration in the ſentiments of the Engliſh, muſt be aſcribed to the departure of William, who was alone capable of curbing the violence of his captains, and of overawing the mutinies of the people. Nothing indeed appears more ſtrange, than that this prince, in leſs than three months after the conqueſt of a great, warlike, and turbulent nation, ſhould abſent himſelf, in order to reviſit his own country, which remained in profound tranquillity, and was not menaced by any of its neighbours; and ſhould leave ſo long his jealous ſubjects at the mercy of an inſolent and licentious army. Were we not aſſured of the ſolidity of his genius, and the good ſenſe diſplayed in all other circumſtances of his conduct, we might aſcribe this meaſure to a vain oſtentation, which rendered him impatient to diſplay his pomp and magnificence among his antient courtiers. It is therefore more natural to believe, that in ſo extraordinary a ſtep, he was guided by a concealed policy; and that tho' he had thought proper at firſt to allure the people to ſubmiſſion by the ſemblance of a legal adminiſtration, he found, that he could neither ſatisfy his rapacious captains nor ſecure his unſtable government, without exerting farther the rights of conqueſt, and ſeizing the poſſeſſions of the Engliſh. In order to give a pretence for this violence, he endeavoured, without diſcovering his intention, to provoke and allure them into inſurrections, which, he thought, could never prove dangerous, while he detained all the principal nobility in Normandy, while a great and victorious army was quartered in England, and while he himſelf was ſo near to ſuppreſs any tumult or rebellion. But as no antient writer has aſcribed this tyrannical purpoſe to William, it ſcarce ſeems allowable, from conjecture alone, to throw ſuch an imputation upon him.

[Note: Their inſurrections.] BUT whether we are to account for that meaſure from the King's vanity or from his policy, it was the immediate cauſe of all the calamities which the Engliſh endured during this and the ſubſequent reigns, and gave riſe to thoſe mutual jealouſies [Page 172] and animoſities between them and the Normans, which were never appeaſed, till a long tract of time had gradually united the two nations, and had made them one people. The inhabitants of Kent, who had firſt ſubmitted to the conqueror, were the firſt who attempted to throw off the yoke; and in confederacy with Euſtace, count of Bologne, who had alſo been diſguſted by the Normans, made an attempt, tho' without ſucceſs, on the garriſon of Dover*. Edric, the Foreſter, whoſe poſſeſſions lay on the banks of the Severne, being provoked at the depredations of ſome Norman captains in his neighbourhood, formed an alliance with Blethyn and Rowallan, two Welſh princes; and endeavoured, with their aſſiſtance, to repel force by force. But tho' theſe open hoſtilities were not very conſiderable, the diſaffection was general among the Engliſh, who had become ſenſible, tho' too late, of their defenceleſs condition, and began already to experience thoſe inſults and injuries, which a nation muſt always expect, that allows itſelf to be reduced to that deſpicable ſituation. A ſecret conſpiracy was entered into to per [...]etrate in one day a general aſſaſſination of the Normans, like that which had been formerly executed againſt the Danes; and the quarrel was become ſo univerſal and national, that the vaſſals of earl Coxo, having deſired him to head them in an inſurrection, and finding him reſolute in maintaining his fidelity to William, put him to death as a traitor to his country.

[Note: 6th Decemb.] THE King, informed of theſe dangerous diſcontents, haſtened over to England; and by his preſence, and the vigorous meaſures which he purſued, diſconcerted all the ſchemes of the conſpirators. Such of them as had been more open in their mutiny betrayed their guilt, by flying or concealing themſelves; and the confiſcation of their eſtates, while it increaſed the number of malecontents, both enabled William to gratify farther the rapacity of his Norman captains, and gave them the proſpect of new forfeitures and attainders§. The King began to regard all his Engliſh ſubjects as inveterate and irreclaimable enemies; and thenceforth either embraced, or was more fully confirmed in his reſolution, of ſeizing their poſſeſſions, and of reducing them to the moſt abject ſlavery. Tho' the natural violence and ſeverity of his temper made him incapable of feeling any ſcruples in the execution of this tyrannical purpoſe, he had art enough to conceal his intention, and to preſerve ſtill ſome appearance of juſtice in his oppreſſions. He ordered all the Engliſh, who had been arbitrarily expelled by the Normans, during [Page 173] his abſence, to be reſtored to their eſtates*: But at the ſame time, he impoſed a general tax on the people, that of Danegelt, which had been aboliſhed by the Confeſſor, and which had always been extremely odious to the nation.

year 1068 As the vigilance of William overawed the malecontents, their inſurrections were more the reſult of an impatient humour in the people, than of any regular conſpiracy, which could give them a rational hope of ſucceſs againſt the eſtabliſhed power of the Normans. The inhabitants of Exeter, inſtigated by Githa, mother to King Harold, refuſed to admit a Norman garriſon, and betaking themſelves to arms, were ſtrengthened by the acceſſion of the neighbouring inhabitants of Devonſhire and Cornwal The King haſtened with his forces to chaſtiſe this revolt; and on his approach, the wiſer and more conſiderable citizens, ſenſible of the unequal conteſt, perſuaded the people to ſubmit, and to deliver hoſtages for their obedience. A ſudden mutiny of the populace broke this agreement; and William, appearing before the walls, ordered the eyes of one of the hoſtages to be put out, as an earneſt of that ſeverity, which the rebels muſt expect, if they perſevered in their revolt. The inhabitants were a-new ſeized with terror, and ſurrendering at diſcretion, threw themſelves at the King's feet, and entreated for clemency and forgiveneſs. William was not devoid of magnanimity, when his temper was not hardened either by policy or paſſion: He was prevailed on to pardon the rebels, and he ſet guards on all the gates, in order to prevent the rapacity and inſolence of his ſoldiery§. Githa eſcaped with her treaſures to Flanders{inverted †}. The inſurgents of Cornwal imitated the example of Exeter, and met with like treatment: And the King, having built a citadel in that city, which he put under the command of Baldwin, ſon of earl Gilbert*, returned to Wincheſter, and diſperſed his army into their quarters. He was here joined by his wife, Matilda, who had not yet viſited England, and whom he now ordered to be crowned by archbiſhop Aldred. Soon alter, ſhe brought him an acceſſion to his family, by the birth of a fourth ſon, whom he named Henry. His three elder ſons, Robert, Richard, and William, ſtill reſided in Normandy.

BUT tho' the King appeared thus fortunate both in public and domeſtic life, the diſcontents of his Engliſh ſubjects augmented daily; and the injuries, committed [Page 174] and received, rendered the quarrel between them and the Normans abſolutely incurable. The inſolence of victorious maſters, diſperſed throughout the kingdom, ſeemed intolerable to the natives; and wherever they found the Normans, ſeparate or aſſembled in ſmall bodies, they ſecretly ſet upon them, and gratified their vengeance by the ſlaughter of their enemies*. But an inſurrection in the north drew thither the general attention, and ſeemed to promiſe more important conſequences. Edwin and Morcar appeared at the head of this rebellion; and theſe potent noblemen, before they took arms, ſtipulated for foreign ſaccours, from their nephew Blethin, prince of North-Wales, from Malcolm, King of Scotland, and from Sweyn, King of Denmark. Beſides the general diſcontent, which had ſeized all the Engliſh; the two earls were inſtigated to this revolt by private injuries. William, in order to inſure them to his intereſts, had, on his acceſſion, promiſed his daughter in marriage to Edwin; but either he had never ſeriouſly intended to perform this engagement, or having changed his plan of adminiſtration in England from clemency to rigor, he thought it was to little purpoſe, if he gained one family, while he enraged the whole nation. When Edwin, therefore, renewed his application, he gave him an abſolute refuſal; and this diſappointment, added to ſo many other reaſons of diſguſt, induced that nobleman and his brother to concur with their enraged countrymen, and to make one effort for the recovery of their antient liberties. William knew the importance of celerity in quelling an inſurrection, ſupported by ſuch powerful leaders, and ſo agreeable to the wiſhes of the people; and having his troops always in readineſs, he advanced by great journeys to the north. On his march, he gave orders to fortify the caſtle of Warwick, of which he left Henry de Beaumont governor, and that of Nottingham, which he committed to the cuſtody of William Peverell, another Norman captain. He reached York before the rebels were in any condition for reſiſtance, or were joined by any of the foreign ſuccours, which they expected, except a ſmall reinforcement from Wales; and the two earls found no other means of ſafety, but having recourſe to the clemency of the victor. Archil, a potent nobleman in thoſe parts, imitated their example, and de ivered his ſon as a hoſtage of his fidelity§; nor were the people, thus deſerted by their leaders, able to make any farther reſiſtance. But the treatment, which William gave the chieftains and their followers, was very different. He obſerved religiouſly the terms, which he had granted the former; and allowed them, for the preſent, to keep poſſeſſion of their eſtates; but he extended the rigors of his confiſcations over the latter, and gave away their lands to his foreign [Page 175] adventurers, who, being planted thro' the whole country, and being poſſeſſed of the military power, left Edwin and Morcar, whom he pretended to ſpare, deſtitute of all ſupport, and ready to fall, whenever he ſhould think proper to command their ruin. A peace, which he made with Malcolm, who did him homage for Cumberland, ſeemed, at the ſame time, to deprive them of all proſpect of foreign aſſiſtance*.

[Note: Rigors of the Norman government.] THE Engliſh were now ſenſible, that their final deſtruction was intended; and that inſtead of a ſovereign, whom they had at firſt hoped to gain by their ſubmiſſions, they had tamely ſurrendered themſelves, without reſiſtance, to a tyrant and a conqueror. Tho' the early confiſcation of Harold's followers might ſeem iniquitous; being extended toward men who had never ſworn fidelity to the duke of Normandy, who were ignorant of his pretenſions, and who only fought in defence of the government, which they themſelves had eſtabliſhed in their own country: Yet were theſe rigors, however contrary to the antient Saxon laws, excuſed on account of the urgent neceſſities of the prince; and thoſe who were not involved in the preſent ruin, hoped that they would thenceforth enjoy without moleſtation their poſſeſſions and their dignities. But the ſucceſſive deſtruction of ſo many other families convinced them, that the King intended to rely entirely on the ſupport and affections of foreigners; and they foreſaw new forfeitures, attainders, and violences as the neceſſary reſult of this deſtructive plan of adminiſtration. They obſerved, that no Engliſhman poſſeſſed his confidence, or was intruſted with any command or authority; and that the ſtrangers, whom a rigorous diſcipline could have but ill contained, were encouraged in every act of inſolence and tyranny againſt them. The eaſy ſubmiſſion of the kingdom on its firſt invaſion had expoſed the natives to contempt; the ſubſequent proofs of their animoſity and reſentment had made them the object of hatred; and they were now deprived of every expedient, by which they could hope to make themſelves either regarded or beloved by their ſovereign. Impreſſed with the ſenſe of this diſmal ſituation, many Engliſhmen fled into foreign countries, with an intention of paſſing their lives abroad free from oppreſſion, or of returning on a favourable opportunity to aſſiſt their friends in the recovery of their native liberties. Edgar Atheling himſelf, dreading the inſidious careſſes of William, was perſuaded by Coſpatric, a powerful Northumbrian, to eſcape with him into Scotland; and he carried thither his two ſiſters, Margaret and Chriſtina. They were well received by Malcolm, who ſoon after eſpouſed Margaret, the elder ſiſter; and [Page 176] partly with a view of ſtrengthening his kingdom by the acceſſion of ſo many ſtrangers, partly in hopes, of employing them againſt the growing power of William, he gave great countenance to all the Engliſh exiles*. Many of them ſettled there; and laid the foundations of families, which afterwards made a figure in that kingdom.

WHILE the Engliſh ſuffered under theſe oppreſſions, even the foreigners were not much at their eaſe; but finding themſelves ſurrounded on all hands by enraged enemies, who took every advantage againſt them, and menaced them with ſtill more bloody effects of the public reſentment, they began to wiſh again for the tranquillity and ſecurity of their native country. Hugh de Grentmeſnil, and Humphrey de Teliol, tho' entruſted with great commands, deſired to be diſmiſſed the ſervice; and ſome others imitated their example: A deſertion which was highly reſented by the King, and which he puniſhed by the confiſcation of all their poſſeſſions. But William's bounty to his followers could not fail of alluring many new adventurers into his ſervice; and the rage of the vanquiſhed Engliſh ſerved only to rouze the attention of the King and theſe warlike chieftains, and kept them in readineſs to ſuppreſs every commencement of domeſtic rebellion or foreign invaſion.

year 1069 [Note: New inſurrections.] IT was not long before they found occupation for their proweſs and military conduct. Godwin, Edmond, and Magnus, three ſons of Harold, had, immediately after the defeat at Haſtings, ſought a retreat in Ireland; and having met with a kind reception from Dermot and other princes of that country, they projected an invaſion of England, and hoped that all the exiles from Denmark, Scotland, and Wales, aſſiſted with forces from theſe ſeveral countries, would at once commence hoſtilities, and excite the indignation of the Engliſh againſt their haughty conquerors. They landed in Devonſhire; but found Briaw, ſon of the count of Brittany, ready to oppoſe them at the head of ſome foreign troops; and being defeated in ſeveral actions, they were obliged to retreat to their ſhips, and to return with great loſs into Ireland{inverted †}. The efforts of the Normans were now directed to the north, where affairs had fallen into the utmoſt confuſion. The impatient Northumbrians had attacked Robert de Cummin, who was appointed governor of Durham; and gaining the advantage over him from his negligence, [Page 177] they put him to death in that city with ſeven hundred of his followers*. This example animated the inhabitants of York, who, riſing in arms, ſlew Robert Fitz-Richard, their governor; and beſieged in the caſtle William Mallet, on whom the command now devolved. A little after, the Daniſh troops landed from 300 veſſels, under the command of Oſberne, brother to King Sweyn, and accompanied by Harold and Canute, the two ſons of that monarch. Edgar Atheling appeared from Scotland, and brought along with him Coſpatric, Waltheof, Siward, Bearne, Merleſwain, Adelin, and other chieftains, who partly from the hopes which they gave of Scottiſh ſuccours, partly from their authority in thoſe parts, eaſily perſuaded the warlike and diſcontented Northumbrians to join the inſurrection. Mallet, that he might better provide for the defence of the citadel of York, ſet fire to ſome houſes, which lay contiguous§; but this expedient proved the immediate cauſe of his deſtruction. The flames ſpreading into the neighbouring ſtreets, reduced the whole city to aſhes; and the enraged inhabitants, aided by the Danes, took advantage of the confuſion to attack the caſtle, which they carried by aſſault; and they put the garriſon, amounting to the number of 3000, to the ſword without mercy{inverted †}.

THIS ſucceſs proved a ſignal to many other parts of England, and gave the people an opportunity of ſhowing their malevolence to the Normans. Hereward, a nobleman in Eaſt-Anglia, celebrated for valor, aſſembled his followers, and taking ſhelter in the Iſle of Ely, made inroads on all the neighbouring country*. The Engliſh in the counties of Somerſet and Dorſet roſe in arms, and aſſaulted Montacute, the Norman governor; while the inhabitants of Cornwal and Devon inveſted Exeter, which, from the memory of William's clemency, ſtill remained faithful to him. Edric, the Foreſter, calling in the aſſiſtance of the Welſh, laid ſiege to Shrewſbury, and made head againſt earl Brient and Fitz-Oſberne, who commanded in thoſe quarters. The Engliſh, every where, repenting of their former eaſy ſubmiſſion, ſeemed determined to make by concert one great effort for the recovery of their liberty, and for the expulſion of their oppreſſors.

[Page 178] WILLIAM, undiſmayed amidſt this ſcene of confuſion, aſſembled his forces, and animating them with the proſpect of new confiſcations and forfeitures, he marched againſt the inſurgents in the north, whom he regarded as the moſt formidable, and whoſe defeat, he knew, would ſtrike a terror into all the other rebels. Joining policy to force, he tried, before his approach, to weaken the enemy, by detaching the Danes from them; and he engaged Oſberne, by large preſents, and by offering him the liberty of plundering the ſea-coaſt, to retire without committing farther hoſtilities into Denmark*. Coſpatric, in deſpair of ſucceſs, imitated the example; and making his ſubmiſſions to the King, and paying a ſum of money as an atonement for his inſurrection, was received into favour, and even inveſted with the earldom of Northumberland. Waltheof, who long defended York with great courage, was allured with this appearance of clemency; and as William knew how to eſteem valor even in an enemy, that nobleman had no reaſon to repent of this confidence. Even Edric, compelled by neceſſity, made his ſubmiſſions to the Conqueror, and received forgiveneſs, which was ſoon after followed by ſome degree of truſt and favour. Malcolm, coming too late to ſupport his confederates, was conſtrained to retire; and all the Engliſh inſurgents in other parts, except Hereward, who ſtill kept in his faſtneſſes, diſperſed themſelves, and left the Normans undiſputed maſters of the kingdom. Edgar Atheling, with his followers, ſought again a retreat in Scotland from the purſuit of his enemies.

year 1070 [Note: New rigors of the government.] BUT the ſeeming clemency of William towards the Engliſh leaders proceeded only from artifice, or from his eſteem of individuals: His heart was hardened againſt all compaſſion towards the people; and he ſcrupled no meaſure, however violent or ſevere, which ſeemed requiſite to ſupport his plan of tyrannical adminiſtration. Senſible of the reſtleſs diſpoſition of the Northumbrians, he determined to incapacitate them ever after from giving him diſturbance, and he iſſued orders for laying entirely waſte that fertile country, which, for the extent of ſixty miles, lies between the Humber and the Tees§. The houſes were reduced to aſhes by the mercileſs Normans, the cattle ſeized and driven away, the inſtruments of huſbandry deſtroyed; and the inhabitants compelled either to ſeek for a [Page 179] ſubſiſtance in the ſouthern parts of Scotland, or if they lingered in England, from a reluctance to abandon their antient habitations, they periſhed miſerably in the woods from cold and hunger. The lives of an hundred thouſand people are computed to have been ſacrificed to this ſtroke of barbarous policy*, which, by ſeeking a remedy for a temporary evil, thus inflicted a laſting wound on the power and populouſneſs of the nation.

BUT William, finding himſelf entirely maſter of a people, who had given him ſuch ſenſible proofs of their impotent rage and animoſity, now reſolved to proceed to extremities againſt all the natives of England; and to reduce them to a condition, in which they ſhould no longer be formidable to his government. The inſurrections and conſpiracies in ſo many parts of the kingdom had involved the bulk of the land proprietors, more or leſs, in the guilt of treaſon; and the King took advantage of executing againſt them, with the utmoſt rigor, the laws of forfeiture and attainder. Their lives were indeed commonly ſpared; but their eſtates were confiſcated, and either annexed to the royal demeſnes, or conferred with the moſt profuſe bounty on the Normans and other foreigners. While the King's declared intention was to depreſs or rather entirely extirpate the Engliſh gentry, it is eaſy to believe, that ſcarce a form of juſtice would be attended to in theſe violent proceedings; and that any ſuſpicions ſerved as the moſt undoubted proofs of guilt againſt a people thus devoted to deſtruction. It was crime ſufficient in an Engliſhman to be opulent or noble or powerful; and the policy of the King, concurring with the rapacity of foreign adventurers, produced almoſt a total revolution in the landed property of the kingdom. Antient and honourable families were reduced to beggary; the nobles themſelves were every where treated with ignominy and contempt; they had the mortification of ſeeing their caſtles and manors poſſeſſed by Normans of the meaneſt birth and loweſt ſtations§, and [Page 180] they found themſelves carefully excluded from every road, which led either to riches or preferment*.

[Note: Introduction of the feudal law.] AS power naturally follows property, this revolution alone gave great ſecurity to the foreigners; but William, by the new inſtitutions, which he eſtabliſhed, took alſo care to retain for ever the military authority in thoſe hands, which had enabled him to ſubdue the kingdom. He introduced into England the feudal law, which he found eſtabliſhed in France and Normandy, and which, during that age, was the foundation both of the ſtability and of the diſorders in moſt of the monarchical governments of Europe. He divided all the lands of England, with very few exceptions, except the royal demeſnes, into baronies; and he conferred theſe, with the reſervation of ſtated ſervices and payments, on the moſt conſiderable of his adventurers. Theſe great barons, who held immediately of the crown, ſhared out a great part of their lands to other foreigners, who were denominated knights or vaſſals, and who paid their lord the ſame duty and ſubmiſſion in peace and war, which he himſelf owed to his ſovereign. The whole kingdom contained about 700 chief tenants, and 60,215 knights-fees; and as none of the native Engliſh were admitted into the firſt rank, the few, who retained their landed property, were glad to be received into the ſecond, and under the protection of ſome powerful Norman, to load themſelves and their poſterity with this grievous burthen, for eſtates which they had received free from their anceſtors. The ſmall mixture of Engliſh, which entered into this civil or military fabric, (for it partook of both ſpecies) was ſo reſtrained by ſubordination under the foreigners, that the Norman dominion ſeemed now to be fixed on the moſt durable baſis, and to defy all the efforts of its enemies.

THE better to unite the parts of the government, and to bind them into one ſyſtem, which might ſerve both for defence againſt foreigners, and for the ſupport of domeſtic tranquillity, William reduced the eccleſiaſtical revenues under the ſame feudal law; and tho' he had courted the church on his firſt invaſion and acceſſion, he now ſubjected it to burthens, which the clergy regarded as a grievous ſlavery, and as totally unbefitting their profeſſion. The biſhops and abbots [Page 181] were obliged, when required, to furniſh to the King during war a number of knights or military tenants, proportioned to the extent of property poſſeſſed by each ſee or abbey; and they were liable, in caſe of failure; to the ſame penalties which were exacted from the laity*, The Pope and the eccleſiaſtics exclaimed againſt this tyranny, as they called it; but the King's authority was ſo well eſtabliſhed over the army, who held every thing from his bounty, that ſuperſtition itſelf, even in that age, when it was moſt prevalent, was conſtrained to yield under his ſuperior influence.

BUT as the great body of the clergy were ſtill natives, the King had much reaſon to dread the effects of their reſentment; and he therefore uſed the precaution of expelling the Engliſh from all the conſiderable dignities, and of advancing foreigners in their place. The partiality of the Confeſſor towards the Normans had been ſo great, that, aided by their ſuperior learning, it had promoted them to many of the ſees of England; and even before the period of the conqueſt, ſcarce more than ſix or ſeven of the prelates were natives of the country. But among theſe was Stigand, archbiſhop of Canterbury; a man, who, by his addreſs and vigour, by the greatneſs of his family and alliances, by the extent of his poſſeſſions, as well as by the dignity of his office, and his authority over the Engliſh, gave great jealouſy to the King. Tho' William had, on his acceſſion, affronted this prelate, by employing the archbiſhop of York to officiate at his conſecration, he continued to load him with honours and careſſes, and to avoid every occaſion of giving him farther offence, till the opportunity ſhould offer of effectuating his final deſtruction. The ſuppreſſion of the late rebellions, and the total ſubjection of the Engliſh, made him hope, that this attempt, however violent, would be covered by his great ſucceſſes, and be overlooked amidſt the other important revolutions, which affected ſo deeply the property and liberty of the kingdom. Yet, notwithſtanding theſe mighty advantages, he did not think it ſafe to violate the reverence uſually paid the primate, but under cover of a new ſuperſtition, which he was the great inſtrument of introducing into England.

[Note: Innovation in eccleſiaſtical government.] THE doctrine which exalted the papacy above all human power, had gradually diffuſed itſelf from the city and court of Rome; and was, during this age, much more prevalent in the ſouthern than in the northern kingdoms of Europe. Pope Alexander, who had aſſiſted William in his conqueſt of England, reaſonably expected, that the French and Normans would import into England the ſame reverence for his ſacred character, with which they were imbued in their own country; [Page 182] and would break the ſpiritual, as well as civil independancy of the Saxons, who had hitherto conducted their eccleſiaſtical government, with an acknowledgment indeed of primacy in the ſee of Rome, but without much idea of its title to dominion or authority. As ſoon, therefore, as the Norman prince ſeemed fully eſtabliſhed on the throne, the Pope diſpatched Ermenfroy, biſhop of Sion, as his legate into England; and this prelate was the firſt, who had ever appeared with that character in any part of the Britiſh iſlands. The King, tho' he was probably led by principle to pay this ſubmiſſion to Rome, determined, as is uſual, to employ the incident as a means of ſerving his political purpoſes, and of degrading thoſe Engliſh prelates, who were become obnoxious to him. The legate ſubmitted to become the inſtrument of his tyranny; and naturally thought, that the more violent the exertion of power, the more certainly did it confirm the authority of that court from which he derived his commiſſion. He ſummoned, therefore, a council of the prelates and abbots at Wincheſter; and being aſſiſted by two cardinals, Peter and John, he cited before him Stigand, archibiſhop of Canterbury, to anſwer for his conduct*. The primate was accuſed of three crimes; the holding the ſee of Wincheſter together with that of Canterbury; the officiating in the pall of Robert, his predeceſſor; and the having received his own pall from Benedict IX. who was afterwards depoſed for ſimony, and for intruſion into the papacy. Theſe crimes of Stigand were mere pretences; ſince the firſt had been a practice not unuſual in England, and was never any where ſubjected to a higher penalty than a reſignation of one of the ſees; the ſecond was a pure ceremonial; and as Benedict was the only Pope who then officiated, and his acts were never reſcinded, all the prelates of the church, eſpecially thoſe who lay at a diſtance, were very excuſable for making their applications to him. Stigand's ruin, however, was reſolved on, and was proſecuted with great ſeverity. The legate degraded him from his dignity, and the King confiſcated his eſtate, and caſt him into priſon, where he continued, in great poverty and want, during the remainder of his life. Like rigor was exerciſed againſt the other Engliſh prelates: Agelric, biſhop of Seleſey, and Agelmare, of Elmham, were depoſed by the legate, and impriſoned by the King. Many conſiderable abbots ſhared the ſame fate: Egelwin, biſhop of Durham, fled the kingdom§: Wulſtan, of Worceſter, a man of an inoffenſive character, was the [Page 183] only Engliſh prelate who eſcaped this general proſcription*, and remained in poſſeſſion of his dignity. Aldred, archbiſhop of York, who had ſet the crown on William's head, had died a little before of ſorrow and vexation, and had left his malediction to that prince, on account of the breach of his coronation-oath, and of the extreme tyranny, with which he ſaw he was determined to treat his Engliſh ſubjects.

IT was a fixed maxim in this reign, as well as in ſome of the ſubſequent, that no native of the iſland ſhould ever be advanced to any dignity, eccleſiaſtical, civil, or military; and the King therefore, upon Stigand's depoſition, promoted Lanfranc, a Milaneſe monk, celebrated for his learning and piety, to the vacant ſee§. This prelate was very rigid in defending the prerogatives of his ſtation; and after a long proceſs before the Pope, he obliged Thomas, a Norman monk, who had been appointed to the ſee of York, to acknowledge the primacy of the archbiſhop of Canterbury{inverted †}. Where ambition can be ſo happy as to cover its attempts, even to the perſon himſelf, under the appearance of principle, it is the moſt incurable and inflexible of all human paſſions. Hence Lanfranc's zeal to promote the intereſts of the papacy, by which he himſelf augmented his own authority, was indefatigable*; and met with proportionable ſucceſs. The devoted attachment to Rome continually increaſed in England; and being favoured by the ſentiments of the conquerors, as well as by the monaſtic eſtabliſhments formerly introduced by Edred, and ſettled by Edgar, it ſoon reached the ſame height, at which, during ſome time, it had ſtood in France and Italy. It afterwards went much farther; being favoured by that very remote ſituation, which had at firſt obſtructed its progreſs; and being leſs checked by knowledge and a liberal education, which were ſtill ſomewhat more common in the ſouthern countries.

[Page 184] THE prevalence of this ſuperſt [...]tious ſpirit became very dangerous to ſome of William's ſucceſſors, and very incommodious to moſt of them; but the arbitrary power of this King over the Engliſh, and his extenſive authority over the foreigners, kept him from feeling any preſent inconveniences from it. He retained the church in great ſubjection, as well as his lay ſubjects; and would allow none, of whatever character, to diſpute his ſovereign will and pleaſure. He prohibited his ſubjects to acknowledge any one f r Pope whom he himſelf had not previouſly received: He required, that all the eccleſiaſtical canons, voted in any ſynod, ſhould firſt be laid before him, and be ratified by his authority: Even bulls or letters from Rome, before they were produced, muſt receive the ſame ſanction: And none of his miniſters or barons, whatever offen [...]es they were guilty of, muſt be ſubjected to ſpiritual cenſures, till he himſelf had given his conſent to their excommunication*. Theſe regulations were worthy of a ſovereign, and kept united the civil and eccleſiaſtical powers, which the principles introduced by this prince had an immediate tendency to ſeparate.

BUT the Engliſh had the cruel mortification to find, that their King's authority, however acquired or however extended, was all employed to their oppreſſion; and that the ſcheme of their ſubjection, attended with every cir umſtance of inſult and indignity, was deliberately formed by the prince, and wantonly proſecuted by his followers. William had even entertained the difficult project of totally aboliſhing the Engliſh language; and, for that purpoſe, he ordered, that in all the ſchools throughout the kingdom, the youth ſhould be inſtructed in the French tongue, a practice which was continued from cuſtom till after the reign of Edward III. and was never indeed totally diſcontinued in England. The pleadings in the ſupreme courts of judicature were in French: The deeds were often drawn in the ſame language: The laws were compoſed in that idiom§: No other tongue was uſed at court: It became the language of all faſhionable ſocieties; and the Engliſh themſelves, aſhamed of their own country, affected to excel in that foreign dialect. From this attention of William, and from the great foreign dominions, long annexed to the crown of England, proceeded that great mixture of French, which is at preſent to be found in the Engliſh tongue, and which compoſes the greateſt and beſt part of our language. But amidſt theſe endeavours to depreſs the Engliſh nation, the King, moved by the remonſtrances of ſome of his prelates, and by the earneſt deſires of the people, reſtored a few [Page 185] of the laws of King Edward*; which, tho' ſeemingly of no great conſequence towards the protection of general liberty, gave them extreme ſatisfaction, as a memorial of their antient government, and an unuſual mark of complaiſance in their imperious conquerors.

year 1071 THE ſituation of the two great earls, Morcar and Edwin, became now very diſagreeable. Tho' they had retained their allegiance, during the general inſurrections of their countrymen, they had not gained the King's confidence, and they found themſelves expoſed to the malignity of the courtiers, who envied them on account of their opulence and greatneſs, and at the ſame time involved them in that general contempt which they bore the Engliſh. Senſible that they had entirely loſt their dignity, and could not even hope to remain long in ſafety; they determined, tho' too late, to run the ſame hazard with their countrymen; and while Edwin retired to his eſtate in the north, with a view of commencing an inſurrection, Morcar took ſhelter in the Iſle of Ely with the brave Hereward, who, ſecured by the inacceſſible ſituation of that place, ſtill defended himſelf againſt the Normans. But this attempt ſerved only to accelerate the ruin of the few Engliſh, who had hitherto been able to preſerve their rank or fortune during the paſt convulſions. William employed all his endeavours to ſubdue the Iſle of Ely; and having ſurrounded it with flat-bottomed boats, and made a cauſeway thro' the moraſſes for the extent of two miles, he obliged the rebels to ſurrender at diſcretion§. Hereward alone forced his way, ſword in hand, thro' the enemy; and ſtill continued his hoſtilities by ſea againſt the Normans, till at laſt William, charmed with his bravery, received him into favour, and reſtored him to his eſtate. Earl Morcar, and Egelwin, biſhop of Durham, who had joined the malecontents, were thrown into priſon, and the latter ſoon after died in confinement*. [Page 186] Edwin, attempting to make his eſcape into Scotland, was betrayed by ſome of his followers; and was killed by a party of Normans, to the great affliction of the Engliſh, and even to that of William, who paid a tribute of generous tears to the memory of this gallant and beautiful youth. The King of Scotland, in hopes of profiting by theſe convulſions, had fallen upon the northern counties; but on the approach of William, he retired; and when the King entered his country, he was glad to make peace, and to pay the uſual homage to the Engliſh crown. To complete the King's proſperity, Edgar Atheling himſelf, deſpairing of ſucceſs, and weary of a fugitive life, ſubmitted to his enemy; and receiving a handſome allowance, was permitted to live in England unmoleſted. But theſe acts of generoſity towards the leaders were diſgraced, as uſual, by William's rigor againſt the inferior malecontents. He ordered the hands to be lopt off, and the eyes to be put out, of many of the priſoners, whom he had taken in the Iſle of Ely; and he ſent them in that miſerable condition thro' the country, as monuments of his ſeverity§.

year 1073 THE province of Maine in France had, by the will of Hebert, the laſt count, fal [...]en under the dominion of William ſome years before his conqueſt of England; but the inhabitants, diſſatisfied with the Norman government, and inſtigated by Fulk, count of Anjou, who had ſome pretenſions to the ſucceſſion, had riſen in rebellion, and expelled the magiſtrates, whom the King had placed over them. The full ſettlement of England now afforded him leiſure to puniſh this inſult on his authority; but being unwilling to remove his Norman forces from this iſl [...]nd, he carried over a conſiderable army, compoſed almoſt entirely of Engliſh{inverted †}, and after joining them to ſome troops levied in Normandy, he entered the revolted province. The Engliſh appeared ambitious of diſtinguiſhing themſelves on this occaſion, and of recovering that character of valour, which had long been national among them; but which their late eaſy ſubjection under the Normans had ſomewhat degraded and obſcured. Perhaps too they hoped, by their zeal and activity, to recover the confidence of their ſovereign, as their anceſtors had formerly, by like means, gained the affections of Canute; and to conquer his inveterate prejudices in favour of his own countrymen. The King's military conduct, ſeconded by ſuch brave troops, ſoon overcame all oppoſition in [Page 187] Maine: The inhabitants were obliged to ſubmit, and the count of Anjou relinquiſhed his pretenſions.

year 1074 [Note: Inſurrection of the Norman barons..] BUT during theſe tranſactions, the government of England was greatly diſturbed; and that too by thoſe very foreigners, who owed every thing to the King's bounty, and who were the ſole object of his friendſhip and regard. The chieftains, who had engaged with the duke of Normandy in the conqueſt of England, were endowed with the moſt independant genius; and tho' they obeyed their leader in the field, they would have regarded with diſdain the richeſt acquiſitions, had they been required, in return, to ſubmit, in their civil government, to the arbitrary will of one man. But the imperious character of William, encouraged by his abſolute dominion over the Engliſh, and often impelled by the neceſſity of his affairs, had prompted him to ſtretch his authority over the Normans themſelves, beyond what the free ſpirit of that victorious people could eaſily bear. The diſcontents were become very general among thoſe haughty nobles; and even Roger, earl of Hereford, ſon and heir of Fitz-Oſberne, the King's chief favourite, was ſtrongly infected by them. This nobleman, intending to marry his ſiſter to Ralph de Guader, earl of Norfolk, had thought it his duty to inform the King of his purpoſe, and to deſire the royal conſent; but meeting with a refuſal, he proceeded nevertheleſs to finiſh the nuptials, and aſſembled all his friends, and thoſe of Guader, to attend the ſolemnity*. The two earls, diſguſted with the denial of their requeſt, and dreading William's reſentment for their diſobedience, here prepared matters for a revolt; and during the gaiety of the feſtival, while the company was heated with wine, they opened the deſign to their gueſts. They inveighed againſt the arbitrary conduct of the King; his tyranny towards the Engliſh, whom they affected on this occaſion to commiſerate; his imperious behaviour to his barons of the nobleſt birth; and his apparent intention of reducing the victors and the vanquiſhed to a like ignominious ſervitude. Amidſt their complaints, the indignity of ſubmitting to a baſtard was not forgot; the certain proſpect of ſucceſs in a revolt, by the aſſiſtance of the Danes and the diſcontented Engliſh, was inſiſted on; and the whole company, inflamed with the ſame ſentiments, and warmed by the jollity of the entertainment, entered, by a ſolemn engagement, into the deſign of ſhaking off the royal authority. Even earl Waltheof, who was preſent, inconſiderately [Page 188] expreſſed his approbation of the conſpiracy, and promiſed his concurrence towards its ſucceſs*.

THIS nobleman, the laſt of the Engliſh who, for ſome generations, poſſeſſed any power or authority, had, after his capitulation at York, been received into favour by the Conqueror, had even married Judith, niece to that prince, and had been promoted to the earldoms of Huntington and Northampton. Coſpatric, earl of Northumberland, having, on ſome new diſguſt from William, retired into Scotland, where he received the earldom of Dunbar from the bounty of Malcolm; Waltheof was appointed his ſucceſſor in that important command, and ſeemed ſtill to poſſeſs the confidence and friendſhip of his ſovereign. But as he was a man of generous principles, and loved his country, it is probable, that the tyranny exerciſed over the Engliſh lay heavy upon his mind, and deſtroyed all the ſatisfaction which he could reap from his own grandeur and advancement. When a proſpect, therefore, was opened of retrieving their liberty, he haſtily embraced it; while the ſumes of the liquor, and the ardour of the company, prevented him from reflecting on the conſequences of that raſh attempt. But after his cool judgment returned, he foreſaw, that the conſpiracy of theſe diſcontented barons was not likely to prove ſucceſsful againſt the eſtabliſhed power of William; or if it did, that the ſlavery of the Engliſh, inſtead of being alleviated by th t event, would become more grievous, under a multitude of foreign leaders, factious and ambitious, whoſe union or diſcord would be equally oppreſſive to the people. Tormented with theſe reflections, he opened his mind to his wife, Judith, of whoſe fidelity he entertained no ſuſpicion, but who, having ſecretly fixed her affections on another, took this opportunity of ruining her eaſy and credulous huſband. She conveyed intelligence of the conſpiracy to the King, and aggravated every circumſtance, which, ſhe believed, would tend to enrage him againſt Waltheof, and render him abſolutely implacable. Mean while, the Earl, ſtill unſatisfied with regard to the part which he ſhould act, diſcovered the ſecret in confeſſion § to Lanfranc, on whoſe probity and judgment he had a great reliance, and was perſuaded by the prelate, that he owed no fidelity to thoſe rebellious barons, who had by ſurpriſe gained his conſent to a crime; that his firſt duty was to his ſovereign and benefactor, his next to himſelf and his family; and that if he ſeized not the opportunity of making atonement for his guilt, by revealing it, the temerity of the conſpirators was ſo great, that they would give [Page 189] ſome other perſon the means of acquiring the merit of the diſcovery. Waltheof, convinced by theſe arguments, went over to Normandy*; but, tho' he was well received by the King, and thanked for his fidelity, the account previouſly conveyed by Judith had ſunk deep into William's mind, and deſtroyed all the merit of her huſband's repentance.

THE conſpirators, hearing of Waltheof's departure, immediately concluded their deſigns to be betrayed; and they flew to arms, before their ſchemes were ripe for execution, and before the arrival of the Danes, in whoſe aid they placed their chief confidence. The earl of Hereford was checked by Walter de Lacy, a great baron in thoſe parts, who, ſupported by the biſhop of Worceſter and the abbot of Eveſham, raiſed ſome forces, and prevented the earl from paſſing the Severne, or advancing into the heart of the kingdom. The earl of Norfolk was defeated at Fagadun, near Cambridge, by Odo, the regent, aſſiſted by Richard de Bienfaite, and William de Warrenne, the two juſticiaries of the kingdom. The priſoners taken in this action had their right foot cut off, as a puniſhment of their treaſon: The earl himſelf eſcaped to Norwich, thence to Denmark; where the Daniſh fleet, who had made an unſucceſsful attempt upon the coaſt of England, ſoon after arrived, and informed him, that all his confederates were ſuppreſſed, and were either killed, fled, or taken priſoners§. Ralph retired in deſpair to Britanny, where he poſſeſſed a large eſtate, and noble juriſdictions{inverted †}.

THE King, who haſtened over to England, in order to ſuppreſs the inſurrection, found, that nothing remained but the puniſhment of the criminals, which he executed with great ſeverity. Many of the rebels were hanged; ſome had their eyes put out; others their hands cut off*. But William, agreeable to his uſual maxims, ſhowed more lenity to the leader, the earl of Hereford, who was only condemned to a forfeiture of his eſtate, and to impriſonment during the King's pleaſure. The King ſeemed even diſpoſed to remit this laſt part of the puniſhment; had not Roger, by a freſh inſolence, provoked him to render his confinement perpetual. year 1075 But Waltheof, being an Engliſhman, was not treated [Page 190] with ſo much humanity, tho' his guilt, which was always much inferior to that of the other conſpirators, was atoned for by a very early repentance and return to his duty. William, inſtigated by his niece, as well as by his rapacious courtiers, who longed for ſo rich a forfeiture, ordered him to be tried, condemned, and executed*. [Note: [...]th April.] The Engliſh, who conſidered this nobleman as the laſt reſource of their nation, grievouſly lamented his fate, and fancied that miracles were wrought by his reliques, as a teſtimony of his innocence and ſanctity. The infamous Judith, falling ſoon after under the King's diſpleaſure, was abandoned by all the world, and paſſed the reſt of her life in contempt, remorſe, and miſery.

NOTHING remained to complete William's ſatisfaction but the puniſhment of Ralph de Guader; and he haſtened over to Normandy, in order to gratify his vengeance on that criminal. But tho' the conteſt ſeemed very unequal between that nobleman and the King of England, Ralph was ſo well defended, both by the earl of Britanny and the King of France, that William, after beſieging him for ſome time in Dol, was obliged to abandon the enterprize, and make with thoſe powerful princes a peace, in which Ralph himſelf was included. England, during his abſence, remained in tranquillity; and nothing remarkable occurred, except two eccleſiaſtical ſynods, which were ſummoned, one at London, another at Wincheſter. In the former, the precedency among the epiſcopal ſees was ſettled, and the ſeat of ſome of them was removed from ſmall villages to the moſt conſiderable town within the dioceſe§. In the ſecond was tranſacted a buſineſs of ſome more importance.

year 1076 [Note: Diſpute about [...].] THE induſtry and perſeverance are ſurpriſing, with which the Popes had been treaſuring up powers and pretenſions during ſo many ages of ignorance; while each pontiff employed every fraud for advancing purpoſes of imaginary piety, and cheriſhed all claims which might turn to the advantage of his ſucceſſors, tho' he himſelf could not expect ever to reap any benefit from them. All this immenſe ſtore of ſpiritual and civil authority was now devolved on Gregory VII. of the name of Hildebrand, the moſt enterprizing pontiff who had ever filled that chair, and the leaſt reſtrained by fear, decency, or moderation. Not contented with ſhaking off the yoke of the Emperors, who had hitherto exerciſed the power of appointing the Pope on every vacancy, or at leaſt of ratifying his election; he undertook the arduous taſk of disjoining entirely the eccleſiaſtical from the civil power, and of excluding profane laymen from the right, which they had aſſumed, [Page 191] of filling the vacancies of biſhoprics, abbies, and other ſpiritual dignities*. The ſovereigns, who had long exerciſed this power, and who had attained it, not by encroachments on the church, but on the people, to whom it originally belonged, made great oppoſition to this claim of the court of Rome; and Henry IV. the preſent Emperor, defended the prerogative of his crown with a vigour and reſolution ſuitable to its importance. The few offices, either civil or military, which the feudal inſtitutions left the ſovereign the power of beſtowing, made the prerogative of conferring the paſtoral ring and ſtaff the moſt invaluable jewel of the royal diadem; eſpecially as the general ignorance of the age beſtowed a weight on the eccleſiaſtical offices, even beyond the great extent of power and property which belonged to them. Superſtition, the child of ignorance, inveſted the clergy with an authority almoſt ſacred; and as they poſſeſſed the little learning of the age, their interpoſition became requiſite in all civil buſineſs, and a real uſefulneſs in common life was thus ſuperadded to the ſpiritual ſanctity of their character.

WHEN the uſurpations, therefore, of the church had come to ſuch a maturity as to embolden her to attempt extorting the right of inveſtitures from the temporal power, Europe, eſpecially Italy and Germany, was thrown into the moſt violent convulſions, and the Pope and Emperor waged implacable war againſt each other. Gregory even dared to fulminate the ſentence of excommunication againſt Henry and his adherents, to pronounce him rightfully depoſed, to free his ſubjects from their oaths of allegiance; and inſtead of ſhocking mankind with this groſs incroachment on the civil authority, he found the ſtupid people ready to ſecond his moſt exorbitant pretenſions. Every miniſter, ſervant, or vaſſal of the Emperor, who received any diſguſt, covered his rebellion under the pretence of principle; and even the mother of this monarch, forgetting all the ties of nature, was ſeduced to countenance the inſolence of his enemies. Princes themſelves, unattentive to the pernicious conſequences of theſe papal claims, employed them for their preſent purpoſes; and the controverſy, ſpreading into every city of Italy, engendered the parties of Guelf and Ghibbelin; the moſt durable and inveterate ſactions that ever aroſe from the mixture of ambition and ſuperſtition. Beſides numberleſs aſſaſſinations, tumults, and convulſions, to which they gave riſe, it is computed that the quarrel occaſioned no leſs than ſixty battles in the reign of Henry IV. and eighteen in that of his ſucceſſor, Henry V. when the claims of the ſovereign pontiff finally prevailed.

[Page 192] BUT the bold ſpirit of Gregory, not diſmayed with the vigorous oppoſition, which he met with from the Emperor, extended his uſurpations all over Europe; and well knowing the nature of mankind, whoſe aſtoniſhment ever inclines them to yield to the moſt impudent pretenſions, he ſeemed determined to ſet no bounds to the ſpiritual, or rather temporal monarchy, which he had undertaken to erect. He pronounced the ſentence of excommunication againſt Nicephorus, Emperor of the Eaſt: Robert Guiſcard, the adventurous Norman, who had acquired the dominion of Naples, was attacked by the ſame dangerous weapon: He degraded Boleſlas, King of Poland, from the rank of King; and even deprived Poland of the title of a kingdom: He attempted to treat Philip, King of France, with the ſame rigor, which he had employed againſt the Emperor*: He pretended to the entire property and dominion of Spain; and he ſhared it out amongſt adventurers, who undertook to conquer it from the Saracens, and to hold it in vaſſalage of the ſee of Rome: Even the Chriſtian biſhops, on whoſe aid he relied in ſubduing the temporal princes, ſaw that he was determined to reduce them to ſervitude; and by aſſuming the whole legiſlative and judicial power of the church, to concenter all authority in the ſovereign pontiff.

WILLIAM the Conqueror, the moſt potent, the moſt haughty, and the moſt vigorous prince in Europe, was not, amidſt all his ſplendid ſucceſſes, ſecured from the attacks of this enterprizing prelate. Gregory wrote him a letter, requiring him to fulfil his promiſe in doing homage for the kingdom of England to the ſee of Rome, and to ſend him over that tribute, which all his predeceſſors had been accuſtomed to pay to the vicar of Chriſt. By the tribute, he meant Peter's pence; which, tho' at firſt a charitable donation of the Saxon princes, was interpreted, according to the uſual practice of the Romiſh court, to be a badge of ſubjection acknowledged by the kingdom. William replied, that the money ſhould be remitted as uſual; but that he neither had promiſed to do homage to Rome, nor was it in the leaſt his purpoſe to impoſe that ſervitude on his ſtate. And the better to ſhow Gregory his independance, he refuſed, notwithſtanding the frequent complaints of the Pope, the Engliſh biſhops liberty to attend a general council, which that pontiff had ſummoned againſt his enemies.

BUT tho' the King ſhowed this vigor in ſupporting the royal dignity, he was infected with the general ſuperſtition of the age, and he did not diſcover the ambitious ſcope of thoſe inſtitutions, which, under the cover of ſtrictneſs in religion, [Page 193] were introduced or prompted by the Roman pontiff, Gregory, while he was throwing all Europe into combuſtion by his violence and impoſtures, affected an anxious care for the purity of manners; and even the chaſte pleaſures of the marriage-bed were inconſiſtent, in his opinion, with the ſanctity of the ſacerdotal character. He had iſſued a decree prohibiting the marriage of prieſts, excommunicating all clergymen who retained their wives, declaring all ſuch unlawful commerce to be fornication, and rendering it criminal in the laity to attend divine worſhip when ſuch profane prieſts officiated at the altar*. This point was a great object in the politics of the Romiſh court; and it coſt them infinitely more pains to eſtabliſh it, than the propagation of any ſpeculative abſurdity, which they had ever attempted to introduce. Many ſynods were ſummoned in different parts of Europe, before it was finally ſettled; and it was there conſtantly remarked, that the younger clergymen complied chearfully with the Pope's decrees in this particular, and that the chief reluctance appeared in thoſe who were more advanced in years: An event ſo little conformable to men's firſt expectations, that it could not fail to be gloſſed on, even in that blind and ſuperſtitious age. William allowed the Pope's legate to aſſemble, in his abſence, a ſynod at Wincheſter, in order to ſettle the celibacy of the clergy; but the church of England could not yet be carried the whole length expected; and the ſynod was content with decreeing, that the biſhops ſhould not thenceforth ordain any prieſts or deacons without exacting from them a promiſe of celibacy; but that none, except thoſe who belonged to collegiate or cathedral churches, ſhould be obliged to ſeparate from their wives.

[Note: Revolt of prince Robert.] THE King paſſed ſome years in Normandy; but his long reſidence there was not entirely owing to his declared preference of that dutchy: His preſence was alſo neceſſary for compoſing thoſe diſturbances, which had ariſen in that favourite territory, and which had even originally proceeded from his own family. Robert, his eldeſt ſon, ſirnamed Gambaron or Courthoſe, from his ſhort legs, was a prince, who inherited all the bravery of his family and nation; but without that policy and diſſimulation, by which his father was ſo much diſtinguiſhed; and which, no leſs than his military valor, had contributed to his great ſucceſſes. Greedy of fame, impatient of contradiction, without reſerve in his friendſhips, declared in his enmities, this prince could endure no controul even from his imperious father, and openly aſpired to that independance, to which his temper, as well as ſome circumſtances in his ſituation, ſtrongly invited him. When William firſt received the ſubmiſſions of the province of Maine, he had promiſed the [Page 194] inhabitants that Robert ſhould be their prince; and before he undertook the expedition againſt England, he had, on the application of the French court, declared him his ſucceſſor in Normandy, and had obliged the barons of that dutchy to do him homage as their future ſovereign. By this artifice, he had endeavoured to appeaſe the jealouſy of his neighbours, as affording them a proſpect of ſeparating England from his dominions on the continent; but when Robert demanded of him the execution of theſe engagements, he gave him an abſolute refuſal, and told him, according to the homely ſaying, that he never intended to throw off his cloaths, till he went to bed*. Robert openly declared his diſcontent; and was ſuſpected of ſecretly inſtigating the King of France and the earl of Brittanny to the oppoſition which they made to William, and which had formerly fruſtrated his attempts upon the town of Dol. And as the quarrel ſtill augmented, Robert proceeded to entertain a ſtrong jealouſy of his two ſurviving brothers, William and Henry (for Richard was killed in hunting by a ſtag) who, by greater ſubmiſſion and complaiſance, had acquired the affections of their father. In this diſpoſition, the greateſt trifle ſufficed to produce a rupture between them.

THE three princes, reſiding with their father in the caſtle of l'Aigle in Normandy, were one day engaged in ſport together; and after much frolic, the two younger took it in their head to throw over ſome water on Robert as he paſſed thro' the court on leaving their apartment; a paſtime, which he would naturally have regarded as innocent, had it not been for the ſuggeſtions of Alberic de Grentmeſnil, ſon of that Hugh de Grentmeſnil, whom William had formerly deprived of his fortunes, when that baron deſerted him during his greateſt difficulties in England. This young nobleman, mindful of the injury, perſuaded the prince, that this action was meant as a public affront, which it behoved him in honour to reſent; and the choleric Robert, drawing his ſword, ran up ſtairs, with an intention of taking revenge on his brothers. The whole caſtle was full of tumult, which the King himſelf, who haſtened from his apartment, found ſome difficulty to appeaſe. But he could by no means appeaſe the reſentment of his eldeſt ſon, who, complaining of his partiality, and fancying that no proper atonement had been made him for the infult, left the court that very evening, and haſtened to Roüen, with an intention of ſeizing the citadel of that place. But being diſappointed in this view by the precaution and vigilance of Roger de Ivery, the governor, he fled to Hugh de Neufchatel, a powerful Norman baron, who gave him protection in his caſtles; and he openly levied war againſt his father§. The popular character of the prince, and a ſympathy in manners, [Page 195] engaged all the young nobility of Normandy and Maine, as well of Anjou and Brittanny, to take part with him; and it was ſuſpected, that Matilda, his mother, whoſe favourite he was, ſupported him in his rebellion by ſecret remittances of money, and by the encouragement, which ſhe gave his partizans.

year 1079 ALL the hereditary provinces of William, as well as his family, were during ſeveral years thrown into convulſion by this war; and he was at laſt obliged to have recourſe to England, where that ſpecies of military government, which he had eſtabliſhed, gave him greater authority than the antient feudal inſtitutions permitted him to exerciſe in Normandy. He called over an army of Engliſh under his antient captains, who ſoon expelled Robert and his adherents from their retreats, and reſtored the ſovereign's authority in all his dominions. The young prince was obliged to take ſhelter in the caſtle of Gerberoy in the Beauvoiſis, which the King of France, who ſecretly fomented all theſe diſcords, had provided for him. In this fortreſs he was cloſely beſieged by his father, againſt whom, having a ſtrong garriſon, he made a gallant defence. There paſt under the walls of this place many rencounters, which reſembled more the ſingle combats of chivalry, than the military actions of armies; but one of them was remarkable for its circumſtances and its event. Robert happened to encounter with the King, who was concealed by his helmet; and both being valiant, a fierce combat enſued, till at laſt the young prince wounded his father in the arm, and threw him from his horſe. Calling for aſſiſtance, his voice diſcovered him to his ſon; who ſtruck with remorſe for his paſt crime, and aſtoniſhed with the apprehenſions of one much greater, which he had ſo nearly incurred, inſtantly threw himſelf at his father's feet, craved pardon for his offences, and offered to purchaſe forgiveneſs by any atonement*. The reſentment, harboured by William, was ſo inveterate, that he did not immediately correſpond to this dutiful ſubmiſſion of his ſon with like tenderneſs; but giving him his malediction, departed for his own camp, on Robert's horſe, which that prince had aſſiſted him to mount. He ſoon after raiſed the ſiege, and marched with his army to Normandy; where the interpoſition of the Queen and other common friends brought about a reconcilement, which was probably not a little forwarded by the generoſity of the ſon's behaviour in this action, and by the returning ſenſe of his paſt miſconduct. The King ſeemed ſo fully appeaſed, that he even carried over Robert with him into England; where he intruſted him to repel an inroad of Malcolm King of [Page 196] Scots, and to retaliate by a like inroad into that country. year 1080 The Engliſh prince was ſucceſsful, and obliged the enemy, to make ſubmiſſions. The Welſh, unable to reſiſt William's power, were, about the ſame time, neceſſitated to make ſatisfaction for their incurſions*; and every thing was reduced to a full tranquillity in this iſland.

year 1081 [Note: Domeſday-book.] THIS ſtate of affairs gave William leiſure to begin and finiſh an undertaking, which proves his great and extenſive genius, and does honour to his memory: It was a general ſurvey of all the lands in the kingdom, their extent in each diſtrict, their proprietors, tenures, value; the quantity of meadow, paſture, wood, and arable land, which they contained; and in ſome counties the number of tenants, cottagers, and ſlaves of all denominations, who lived upon them. He appointed commiſſioners for this purpoſe, who entered every particular in their regiſter by the verdict of juries; and after a labour of ſix years (for the work was ſo long in finiſhing brought him an exact account of all the landed property of his kingdom. This monument, called Domeſday-book, the moſt valuable piece of antiquity, poſſeſſed by any nation, is ſtill preſerved in the Exchequer; and tho' only ſome extracts of it have hitherto been publiſhed, it ſerves to illuſtrate to us in many particulars the antient ſtate of England. The great Alfred had finiſhed a like ſurvey of the kingdom in his time, which was long kept at Wincheſter, and which probably ſerved as a model to William in this undertaking.

THE King was naturally a great oeconomiſt; and tho' no prince had ever been ſo bountiful to his officers and ſervants, it was merely becauſe he had rendered himſelf univerſal proprietor of England, and had a whole kingdom to beſtow. He reſerved a very ample revenue for the crown; and in the general diſtribution of land among his followers, he kept poſſeſſion of no leſs than 1422 manors in different parts of England, which paid him rent either in money, or in corn, cattle, and the uſual produce of the land. An antient hiſtorian computes, that his annual fixed income, beſides eſcheats, fines, reliefs, and other caſual profits to a great value, amounted to near 400,000 pounds a year§; a ſum, which, if all circumſtances be attended to, will appear wholly incredible. [Page 197] A pound in that age, as we have before obſerved, contained three times the weight of ſilver that it does at preſent; and the ſame weight of ſilver, by the moſt probable computation, would purchaſe ten times more of the neceſſaries of life, tho' not in the ſame proportion of the finer manufactures. This revenue, therefore, of William would be equivalent to at leaſt nine or ten millions at preſent; and as that prince had neither fleet nor army to ſupport, the former being only a caſual expence, and the latter maintained, without any charge to him, by his military vaſſals, we muſt thence conclude, that no emperor or prince, in any age or nation, was ever to be compared to the Conqueror in opulence and riches. This leads us to ſuſpect a great miſtake in the computation of the hiſtorian; tho', if we conſider that avarice is always imputed to William as one of his vices*, and that having by the ſword rendered himſelf maſter of all the lands in the kingdom, he would certainly in the partition retain a great proportion for his own ſhare; we can ſcarce be guilty of any error in aſſerting, that no King of England was ever ſo opulent, was ſo able to ſupport by his revenue the ſplendor and magnificence of a court, or could beſtow ſo much on his pleaſures or in liberalities to his ſervants and favourites.

[Note: The new foreſt.] THERE was one pleaſure, to which William, as well as all the Normans, and antient Saxons, was extremely addicted; and that was hunting: But this pleaſure he indulged more at the expence of his unhappy ſubjects, whoſe intereſts he always diſregarded, than to the loſs or diminution of his own revenue. Not contented with thoſe large foreſts, which the former Kings poſſeſſed in all parts of England; he reſolved to make a new foreſt near Wincheſter, the uſual place of his reſidence: And for that purpoſe, he laid waſte the country in Hampſhire for an extent of thirty miles, expelled the inhabitants from their houſes, ſeized their property, even demoliſhed churches and convents, and made the ſufferers no compenſation for the injury. At the ſame time, he enacted new laws, by which he prohibited all his ſubjects from hunting in any of his foreſts, and rendered the penalties much more ſevere than ever had been inflicted for ſuch offences. The killing of a deer or boar, or even of a hare, was puniſhed with the loſs of the delinquent's eyes; and that at a time, when the killing of a man could be attoned for by paying a moderate fine or compoſition.

THE tranſactions, recorded during the remainder of this reign, may be conſidered more as domeſtic occurrences, which concern the prince, than as national [Page 198] events, which regard England. year 1082 Odo, biſhop of Baieux, the King's uterine brother, whom he had created earl of Kent, and whom he had entruſted with a great ſhare of power during his whole reign*, had amaſſed immenſe riches; and agreeable to the uſual progreſs of human wiſhes, he began to regard his preſent acquiſitions but as a ſtep to farther grandeur. He had formed the chimerical project of buying the papacy; and tho' Gregory, the preſent Pope, was not of very advanced years, the prelate had confided ſo much in the predictions of an aſtrologer, that he made account of the pontiff's death, and of attaining, by his intrigues and money, that envied ſtate of greatneſs. He reſolved, therefore, to tranſmit all his riches to Italy, and had perſuaded many conſiderable barons, and, among the reſt, Hugh earl of Cheſter, to take the ſame courſe; in hopes, that when he ſhould mount the papal throne, he would beſtow on them more conſiderable eſtabliſhments in that country. The King, from whom all theſe projects had been carefully concealed, at laſt got intelligence of the deſign, and ordered Odo to be arreſted. His officers, reſpecting the immunities, to which the eccleſiaſtics now pretended, ſcrupled to execute the command, till the King himſelf was obliged in perſon to ſeize him; and when Odo inſiſted that he was a prelate, and exempt from all temporal juriſdiction, William replied, that he arreſted him, not as biſhop of Baieux, but as earl of Kent. He was ſent priſoner into Normandy; and notwithſtanding all the remonſtrances and menaces of Gregory, was detained in cuſtody during the remainder of this reign§.

year 1083 ANOTHER domeſtic event gave the King much more concern: It was the death of Matilda, his Queen, whom he tenderly loved, and for whom he had ever preſerved the moſt ſincere friendſhip. Three years afterwards, he paſſed into Normandy, and carried with him Edgar Atheling, to whom he very willingly granted permiſſion to make a pilgrimage into the holy land{inverted †}. year 1087 [Note: War with France.] He was detained on the continent by a miſunderſtanding, which broke out between him and the King of France, and which was occaſioned by inroads made into Normandy by ſome French barons on the frontiers*. It was little in the power of princes at that time to reſtrain their licentious nobility; but William ſuſpected, that theſe barons dared not to have provoked his indignation, had they not been aſſured of the countenance and protection of Philip. His diſpleaſure was increaſed by the account he received of ſome railleries which that monarch had thrown out againſt him. [Page 199] William, who was become corpulent, had been detained in bed ſome time by ſickneſs; upon which Philip expreſſed his ſurpriſe that his brother of England ſhould be ſo long in being delivered of his great belly. The King ſent him word, that, as ſoon as he was up, he would preſent ſo many lights at Notredame, as would perhaps give little pleaſure to the King of France; alluding to the uſual practice at that time of women after child-birth*. Immediately on his recovery, he led an army into the L'Iſle de France, and laid every thing waſte with fire and ſword: He took the town of Mante, which he reduced to aſhes. But the progreſs of theſe hoſtilities was ſtopt by an accident, which ſoon after put an end to William's life. His horſe ſtarting aſide of a ſudden, he bruiſed his belly on the pommel of his ſaddle; and being in a bad habit of body, as well as ſomewhat advanced in years, he began to apprehend the conſequences, and ordered himſelf to be carried in a litter to the monaſtery of St. Gervais. Finding his illneſs increaſe, and being ſenſible of the approach of death, he diſcovered at laſt the vanity of all human grandeur, and was ſtruck with remorſe for thoſe horrible cruelties and violences, which, for the attainment and defence of it, he had committed during the courſe of his reign over England. He endeavoured to make compenſation by preſents to churches and monaſteries; and he iſſued orders for the liberty of earl Morcar, Siward Bearne, and other Engliſh priſoners§. He was even prevailed on, tho' not without reluctance, to conſent, with his dying breath, to the deliverance of his brother, Odo, againſt whom he was extremely incenſed. He left Normandy and Maine to his eldeſt ſon, Robert: He wrote to Lanfranc, deſiring him to crown William King of England{inverted †}: He bequeathed to Henry nothing but the poſſeſſions of his mother, Matilda; but foretold, that he would one day ſurpaſs both his brothers in power and opulence*. [Note: 9th Septemb. Death] He expired in the ſixty-third year of his age, in the twenty-firſt of his reign over England, and in the fifty-fourth of that over Normandy.

[Note: and character of William the Conqueror.] FEW princes have been more fortunate than this great monarch, or were better entitled to grandeur and proſperity, from the abilities and the vigor of mind which he diſplayed in all his conduct. His ſpirit was bold and enterpriſing, yet [Page 200] guided with prudence: His ambition, which was exorbitant, and lay little under the reſtraint of juſtice, and ſtill leſs under that of humanity, ſtill ſubmitted to the dictates of reaſon and ſound policy. Born in an age when the minds of men were intractable and unacquainted with ſubmiſſion, he was yet able, to direct them to his purpoſes; and partly from the aſcendant of his vehement character, partly from art and diſſimulation, to eſtabliſh an unlimited authority. Tho' not inſenſible to generoſity, he was hardened againſt compaſſion; and he ſeemed equally oſtentatious and ambitious of eclat in his clemency and in his ſeverity. The maxims of his adminiſtration were auſtere; but might have been uſeful, had they been ſolely employed in preſerving order in an eſtabliſhed government*: They were ill calculated for ſoftening the rigors, which, under the moſt gentle management, are inſeparable from conqueſt. His attempt againſt England was the laſt great enterprize of the kind, which, during the courſe of ſeven hundred years, has fully ſucceeded in Europe; and the greatneſs of his genius broke thro' thoſe limits, which firſt the feudal inſtitutions, then the refined policy of princes, have fixed to the ſeveral ſtates of Chriſtendom. Tho' he rendered himſelf infinitely odious to his Engliſh ſubjects, he tranſmitted his power to his poſterity, and the throne is ſtill filled by his deſcendants: A proof, that the foundations which he laid were firm and ſolid, and that, amidſt all his violences, while he ſeemed only to gratify the preſent paſſion, he had ſtill an eye towards futurity.

SOME writers have been deſirous of refuſing to this prince the title of Conqueror, in the ſenſe in which it is commonly underſtood; and under pretence, that that word is ſometimes in old books applied to ſuch as make an acquiſition of territory by any means, they are willing to reject William's title, by right of war, to the crown of England. It is needleſs to enter into a controverſy, which, by the terms of it, muſt neceſſarily degenerate into a diſpute of words. It ſuffices to ſay, that the duke of Normandy's firſt invaſion of the iſland was hoſtile; that his ſubſequent adminiſtration was entirely ſupported by arms; that in the very frame of his laws he made a diſtinction between the Normans and Engliſh, to the advantage of the former; that he acted in every thing as abſolute maſter over the natives, whoſe intereſts and affections he totally diſregarded; and that if there was an interval when he aſſumed the appearance of a legal magiſtrate, the period was very ſhort, and was nothing but a temporary ſacrifice, which he, as has been the caſe with moſt conquerors, was obliged to make of his inclination to his preſent policy. Scarce any of thoſe revolutions, which, both in hiſtory and in common language, have always been denominated conqueſts, appear equally violent, [Page 201] or have been attended with ſo ſudden an alteration both of power and property. The Roman ſtate, which ſpread its dominion over Europe, left the rights of individuals, in a great meaſure, untouched; and thoſe civilized conquerors, while they made their own country the ſeat of empire, found, that they could draw moſt advantage from the ſubject provinces, by beſtowing on the natives the free enjoyment of their own laws and of their private poſſeſſions. The barbarians, who ſubdued the Roman empire, tho' they ſettled in the conquered countries, yet being accuſtomed to a rude uncultivated life, found a ſmall part of the land ſufficient to ſupply all their wants; and they were not tempted to ſeize extenſive poſſeſſions, which they neither knew how to cultivate nor employ. But the Normans, and other foreigners, who followed the ſtandard of William, while they made the vanquiſhed kingdom the ſeat of empire, were yet ſo far advanced in arts as to be acquainted with the advantages of a large property; and having totally ſubdued the natives, they puſhed the rights of conqueſt (very extenſive in the eyes of avarice and ambition, however narrow in thoſe of reaſon) to the utmoſt extremity againſt them. Except the former conqueſt of England by the Saxons themſelves, who were induced, by peculiar circumſtances, to proceed even to the extermination of the natives, it would be difficult to find in all hiſtory a revolution more deſtructive, or attended with a more compleat ſubjection of the antient inhabitants. Contumely ſeems even to have been wantonly added to oppreſſion*; and the natives were univerſally reduced to ſuch a ſtate of meanneſs and poverty, that the Engliſh name became a term of reproach, and ſeveral generations elapſed before one family of Saxon pedigree was raiſed to any conſiderable honours, or could ſo much as attain the rank of barons of the realm. Theſe facts are ſo apparent from the whole tenor of the Engliſh hiſtory, that none would have been tempted to deny or elude them, were they not heated by the controverſies of faction; while one party were abſurdly afraid of thoſe abſurd conſequences, which they ſaw the other party inclined to draw from this event. But it is evident, that the preſent rights and privileges of the people, who are a mixture of Engliſh and Normans, can never be affected by a tranſaction, which paſſed ſeven hundred years ago; and as all antient authors, who lived neareſt [Page 202] the time, and beſt knew the ſtate of the country, unanimouſly ſpeak of the Norman dominion as a conqueſt by war and arms, no reaſonable man, from the fear of imaginary conſequences, will ever be tempted to reject their concurring and undoubted teſtimony.

KING William had iſſue, beſides his three ſons, who ſurvived him, five daughters, to wit, (1.) Cicily, firſt a nun in the monaſtery of Feſcamp, afterwards abbeſs in the holy Trinity at Caen, where ſhe died in 1127. (2.) Conſtantia, married to Alan Fergant, earl of Britanny. She died without iſſue. (3.) Alice, contracted to Harold. (4.) Adela, married to Stephen, earl of Blois, by whom ſhe had four ſons, William, Theobald, Henry, and Stephen; of whom the elder was neglected, on account of the imbecillity of his underſtanding. (5.) Agatha, who died a virgin, but was betrothed to the King of Gallicia. She died on her journey thither, before ſhe joined her bridegroom.


[Page 203]

Acceſſion of William Rufus—Conſpiracy againſt the King—Invaſion of Normandy—The Croiſades—Acquiſition of Normandy—Quarrel with Anſelm, the primate—Death—and character of William Rufus.

year 1086 [Note: Acceſſion of William Rufus.] WILLIAM, ſirnamed Rufus or the Red, from the colour of his hair, had no ſooner procured his father's recommendatory letter to Lanfranc, the primate, than he haſtened to take meaſures for ſecuring to himſelf the government of England. Senſible, that a deed ſo unformal and ſo little prepared, which violated Robert's right of primogeniture, might meet with great oppoſition, he truſted entirely for ſucceſs to his own celerity and diſpatch; and having left St. Gervais, while William was breathing his laſt, he arrived in England, before intelligence of his father's death had reached that kingdom*. Pretending orders from the King, he ſecured the fortreſſes of Dover, Pevenſey, and Haſtings, whoſe ſituation rendered them of the greateſt importance; and he got poſſeſſion of his father's treaſure at Wincheſter, amounting to the ſum of ſixty thouſand pounds, by which he hoped to encreaſe and encourage his partizans. The primate, whoſe rank and reputation in the kingdom gave him great authority, had been entruſted with the care of his education, and had conferred on him the honour of knighthood; and being connected with him by theſe ties, and probably eſteeming his pretenſions juſt, declared that he would pay a willing obedience to the laſt will of the Conqueror, his friend and benefactor. Having aſſembled ſome biſhops and ſome of the principal nobility, he inſtantly proceeded to the ceremony of crowning the new King; and by this diſpatch prevented all danger of faction and reſiſtance. At the ſame time, Robert, who had been already acknowledged ſucceſſor to Normandy, took peaceable poſſeſſion of that dutchy.

[Page 204] [Note: Conſpiracy againſt the King] BUT tho' this partition appeared to have been made without any violence or oppoſition, there remained in England many cauſes of diſcontent, which ſeemed to menace that kingdom with a ſudden revolution. The Norman barons, who generally poſſeſſed large eſtates both in England and in their own country, were uneaſy at the ſeparation of theſe territories; and foreſaw, that, as it would be impoſſible for them to preſerve long their allegiance to two maſters, they muſt neceſſarily reſign either their antient property or their new acquiſitions*. Robert's title to the dutchy they eſteemed inconteſtible; his claim to the kingdom plauſible; and they all deſired that this prince, who alone had any pretenſions to unite theſe territories, ſhould be put in poſſeſſion of both. A compariſon alſo of the perſonal qualities of theſe two princes led them to give the preference to the elder. The duke was brave, open, ſincere, generous; and even his predominant faults, his extreme indolence and facility, were not diſagreeable to thoſe haughty barons, who affected independance, and ſubmitted with reluctance to a rigorous adminiſtration in their ſovereign. The King, tho' equally brave as his brother, was violent, haughty, tyrannical; and ſeemed diſpoſed to govern more by the fear than by the love of his people. Odo, biſhop of Baieux, and Robert earl of Mortaigne, maternal brothers of the Conqueror, envying the great credit of Lanfranc, which was encreaſed by his late ſervices, enforced all theſe motives with their partizans, and engaged them in a formal conſpiracy to dethrone the King. They communicated their deſign to Euſtace, count of Bologne, Roger earl of Shrewſbury and Arundel, Robert de Beleſme, his eldeſt ſon, William biſhop of Durham, Robert de Moubray, Roger Bigod, Hugh de Grentmeſnil; and they eaſily procured the aſſent of theſe potent noblemen. The conſpirators, retiring to their caſtles, haſtened to put themſelves in a military poſture; and expecting to be ſoon ſupported by a powerful army from Normandy, they had already begun hoſtilities in many places.

THE King, ſenſible of his perilous ſituation, endeavoured to engage the affections of the native Engliſh; and as that people were now ſo thoroughly ſubdued that they no longer aſpired to the recovery of their antient liberties, and were contented with the proſpect of ſome mitigation in the tyranny of the Norman princes, they zealouſly embraced William's cauſe, upon receiving ſome general promiſes of good treatment, and of enjoying the licence of hunting in the royal foreſts§. The King was ſoon in a ſituation of taking the field; and as he [Page 205] knew the danger of delay, he ſuddenly marched into Kent; where his uncles had already taken poſſeſſion of the fortreſſes of Pevenſey and Rocheſter. Both theſe places, he ſucceſſively reduced by famine; and tho' he was prevailed on by the earl of Cheſter, William de Warrenne, and Robert Fitz Hamon, who had embraced his cauſe, to ſpare the lives of the rebels, he confiſcated all their eſtates, and baniſhed them the kingdom*. This advantage rendered his negociations more ſucceſsful with Roger earl of Shrewſbury, whom he detached from the confederates; and as his powerful fleet, joined to the indolent temper of Robert, prevented the arrival of the Norman ſuccours, all the other rebels found no reſource but in flight or ſubmiſſion. Some of them received a pardon; but the greater part were confiſcated; and the King beſtowed their eſtates on the Norman barons, who had remained faithful to him.

year 1089 WILLIAM, freed from the danger of this inſurrection, took little care of fulfilling his promiſes to the Engliſh, who ſtill found themſelves expoſed to the ſame oppreſſions, which they had undergone during the reign of the Conqueror, and which were rather augmented by the violent, impetuous temper of the preſent monarch. The death of Lanfranc, who had retained great influence over him, gave ſoon after a full career to his tyranny; and all orders of men found reaſon to complain of an arbitrary and illegal adminiſtration§. Even the privileges of the church, which vere held very ſacred in thoſe days, were a feeble rampart againſt his uſurpations{inverted †}. He ſeized the temporalities of all the vacant biſhoprics and abbies; he delayed the appointing ſucceſſors to thoſe dignities, that he might the longer enjoy the profits of their revenue; he beſtowed ſome of the church-lands in property on his captains and favourites; and he openly put to ſale ſuch ſees and abbies as he thought proper to diſpoſe of. Tho' the murmurs of the eccleſiaſtics, which were quickly propagated to the nation, roſe high againſt this grievance, the terror of William's authority, confirmed by the ſuppreſſion of the late inſurrections, retained every one in ſubjection, and preſerved a general tranquillity in England.

year 1090 [Note: Invaſion of Normandy.] THE King even thought himſelf enabled to diſturb his brother in the poſſeſſion of Normandy. The looſe and negligent adminiſtration of that prince had emboldened the Norman barons to affect an independancy in their government; [Page 206] and their mutual quarrels and devaſtations had rendered that whole territory a ſcene of violence and outrage*. Two of them, Waiter and Odo, were bribed by William to deliver the fortreſſes of St. Valori and Albemarle into his hands: Others ſoon after imitated the example; while Philip, King of France, who ought to have protected his vaſſal in the poſſeſſion of his fief, was, after making ſome efforts in his favour, engaged by large preſents to remain neuter. The duke had alſo reaſon to apprehend danger from the intrigues of his brother Henry. This young prince, who had inherited nothing of his father's great poſſeſſions but ſome of his money, had furniſhed Robert, while he was making his preparations againſt England, with the ſum of three thouſand marks; and in return for ſo ſlender a ſupply, had been put in poſſeſſion of the Cotentin, which comprehended near a third of the dutchy of Normandy. Robert afterwards upon ſome ſuſpicion threw him into priſon; but finding himſelf expoſed to invaſion from the King of England, and dreading the conjunction of the two brothers againſt him, he now gave Henry his liberty, and even made uſe of his aſſiſtance in ſuppreſſing the inſurrections of his rebellious ſubjects. Conan, a rich burgeſs of Roüen, had entered into a conſpiracy to deliver that city to William; but Henry, on the detection of his guilt, carried up the traitor to a high tower, and with his own hands flung him from the battlements§.

THE King appeared in Normandy at the head of an army; and affairs ſeemed to have come to extremity between the brothers; when the nobility on both ſides, ſtrongly connected by intereſt and alliances, interpoſed and procured an accommodation. The immediate advantage of this treaty accrued to William, who obtained poſſeſſion of the territory of Eu, the towns of Aumale, Feſcamp, and other places: But in return he promiſed, that he would aſſiſt his brother in ſubduing Maine, which had rebelled; and that the Norman barons, forfeited in Robert's cauſe, ſhould be reſtored to their eſtates in England. The two brothers alſo ſtipulated, that on the demiſe of either without iſſue, the ſurvivor ſhould inherit all his dominions; and twelve of the moſt powerful barons on each ſide ſwore, that they would employ their power to inſure the effectual execution of the whole treaty{inverted †}: A ſtrong proof of the great independance and authority of the nobles in thoſe ages!

[Page 207] PRINCE Henry, diſguſted, that ſo little care had been taken of his intereſts in this accommodation, retired to St. Michael's Mount, a ſtrong fortreſs on the coaſt of Normandy, and infeſted the neighbourhood with his incurſions*. Robert and William with their joint forces beſieged him in this place, and had nearly reduced him by the ſcarcity of water; when the elder, hearing of his diſtreſs, granted him permiſſion to ſupply himſelf, and alſo ſent him ſome pipes of wine for his own table. Being reproved by William for this ill-timed generoſity, he replied, What! ſhall I ſuffer my brother to die with thirſt? Where ſhall we find another, when he is gone ? The King alſo, during this ſiege, performed an act of generoſity, which was leſs ſuitable to his character. Riding out one day alone, to take a ſurvey of the fortreſs, he was attacked by two ſoldiers, and diſmounted. One of them drew his ſword in order to diſpatch him; when the King exclaimed, Hold knave! I am the King of England. The ſoldier ſuſpended his blow; and raiſing the King from the ground, with expreſſions of reſpect, received a handſome reward, and was taken into his ſervice. Prince Henry was ſoon after obliged to capitulate; and being deſpoiled of all his dominions, wandered about for ſome time, with very few attendants, and often in great poverty.

year 1091 THE continued inteſtine diſcord among the barons alone was in that age deſtructive: The public wars were commonly ſhort and feeble, produced little bloodſhed, and were attended with no memorable event. To this Norman war, which was ſo ſoon concluded, there ſucceeded hoſtilities with Scotland, which were of no longer duration. Robert here commanded his brother's army, and obliged Malcolm to accept of peace and to do homage to the crown of England. This peace was not more durable. year 1093 Malcolm, two years after, levying an army, invaded England; and after ravaging Northumberland, he laid ſiege to Alnwic, where a party of earl Moubray's troops falling upon him by ſurprize, a ſharp action enſued, in which Malcolm was ſlain§. This incident disjointed for ſome years the ſucceſſion to the Scottiſh crown. Tho' Malcolm left legitimate ſons, his brother, Donald, on account of the youth of theſe princes, was advanced to the throne; but kept not long poſſeſſion of the royal dignity. Duncan, natural ſon of Malcolm, formed a conſpiracy againſt him; and being aſſiſted [Page 208] by William with a ſmall force, made himſelf maſter of the kingdom*. New broils enſued with Normandy. The frank, open, remiſs temper of Robert was ill fitted to withſtand the intereſted, rapacious character of William, who, being ſupported by greater power, was ſtill encroaching on his brother's poſſeſſions, and exciting his turbulent barons to rebellion againſt him. year 1094 The King having gone over to Normandy to ſupport his partizans, ordered an army of twenty thouſand men to be levied in England, and to be conducted to the ſeacoaſt, as if they were inſtantly to be embarked. Here Ralph Flambard, the King's miniſter, and the chief inſtrument of his extortions, exacted ten ſhillings a-piece from them, in lieu of their ſervice, and then diſmiſſed them into their ſeveral counties. This money was ſo ſkilfully employed by William, that it rendered him better ſervice than he could have expected from the army. He engaged the French King by new preſents to depart from the protection of Robert; and he daily bribed the Norman barons to deſert his ſervice§. But was prevented from puſhing his advantages againſt the duke, by an incurſion of the Welſh, which obliged him to return into England{inverted †}. He found no difficulty to repel the enemy; but was not able to make any conſiderable impreſſion on a country, guarded by its mountainous ſituation. A conſpiracy of his own barons, which was detected at this time, appeared a more ſerious concern, and engroſſed all his attention. year 1095 Robert Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, was at the head of this combination; and he engaged in it the count d'Eu, Richard de Tunbrige, Roger de Lacey, and many others. The purpoſe of the conſpirators was to dethrone the King, and to advance in his ſtead, Stephen, count of Aumale, nephew to the Conqueror*. William's expedition prevented the deſign from taking effect, and diſconcerted the conſpirators. Mowbray made ſome reſiſtance; but being made priſoner, was forfeited, and thrown into confinement, where he died about thirty years after. year 1096 The count d'Eu denied his concurrence in the plot; and to juſtify himſelf, fought in the preſence of the court at Windſor, a duel with Geoffrey Bainard, who accuſed him. But being worſted in the combat, he was condemned to be caſtrated, and to have his eyes put out. William de Alderi, [Page 209] another conſpirator, was ſuppoſed to be treated with more rigor, when he was ſentenced to be hanged*.

[Note: The [...] ] BUT the noiſe of theſe petty wars and commotions was quite ſunk in the tumult of the Croiſades, which now engroſſed the attention of all Europe, and have ever ſince employed the curioſity of mankind, as the moſt ſignal and moſt durable monument of human folly, that has yet appeared in any age or nation. After Mahomet had, by means of his pretended revelations, united the diſperſed Arabians under one head, they iſſued forth from their deſarts in great multitudes; and being animated with zeal for their new religion, and ſupported by the vigor of their new government, they made deep impreſſions on the eaſtern empire, which was far in the decline, with regard both to military diſcipline and to civil policy. Jeruſalem, by its ſituation, became one of their moſt early conqueſts; and the Chriſtians had the mortification to ſee the holy ſepulchre, and the other places, made famous by the preſence of their religious founder, fallen into the poſſeſſion of infidels. But the Arabians or Saracens were ſo employed in military enterprizes, by which they ſpread their empire, in a few years, from the banks of the Ganges to the ſtraits of Gibraltar, that they had no leiſure for theological controverſy; and tho' the alcoran, the original monument of their faith, ſeems to contain ſome violent precepts, they were much leſs infected with the ſpirit of bigotry and proſecution than the ſpeculative Greeks, who were continually refining on the ſeveral articles of their religious ſyſtem. They gave little diſturbance to thoſe zealous pilgrims, who daily flocked to Jeruſalem; and they allowed every man, after paying a moderate tribute, to viſit the holy ſepulchre, to perform his religious duties, and to return in peace. But the Turcomans or Turks, a tribe of Tartars, who had embraced Mahometaniſm, having wreſted Syria from the Saracens, and having in the year 1065, made themſelves maſters of Jeruſalem, rendered the pilgrimage much more difficult and dangerous to the Chriſtians. The barbarity of their manners, and the confuſions attending their unſettled government, expoſed the pilgrims to many inſults, robberies, and extortions; and theſe zealots, returning from their meritorious fatigues and ſufferings, filled all Chriſtendom with indignation againſt the infidels, who profaned the holy city by their preſence, and derided the ſacred myſteries in the very place of their completion. Gregory VII. among the other vaſt ideas, which he entertained, had formed the deſign of uniting all the weſtern Chriſtians againſt the Mahometans; but his exorbitant enterprizes againſt the civil power of princes, had created him ſo many enemies, and had rendered his ſchemes ſo ſuſpicious, that he was not able to make great progreſs in this undertaking. [Page 210] The work was reſerved for a meaner inſtrument, whoſe low condition expoſed him to no jealouſy, and whoſe folly was well calculated to coincide with the prevailing principles of the times.

PETER, commonly called the Hermit, a native of Amiens in Picardy, had made the pilgrimage to Jeruſalem; and being deeply affected with the dangers, to which that act of piety was now expoſed, as well as with the inſtances of oppreſſion, under which the eaſtern Chriſtians laboured, he entertained the bold, and in all appearance, impracticable project of leading into Aſia, from the fartheſt extremities of the weſt, armies ſufficient to ſubdue thoſe potent and warlike nations, which now held the holy land in ſlavery and ſubjection*. He propoſed his views to Martin II. who filled the papal chair, and who, tho' he was ſenſible of the advantages, which the head of the Chriſtian religion muſt reap from a religious war, and tho' he eſteemed the blind zeal of Peter a proper means for effecting the purpoſe, reſolved not to interpoſe his authority, till he ſaw a greater probability of ſucceſs. He ſummoned a council at Placentia, which conſiſted of four thouſand eccleſiaſtics and thirty thouſand ſeculars; and which was ſo numerous, that no hall could contain the multitude, and it was neceſſary to hold the aſſembly in a plain. The harangues of the pope, and of Peter himſelf, repreſenting the diſmal ſituation of their brethren in the eaſt, and the indignity, ſuffered by the Chriſtian name, in allowing the holy city to remain in the hands of the infidels, here found the minds of men ſo well prepared, that the whole multitude, as if actuated by a ſupernatural inſtinct, declared for the war, and ſolemnly devoted themſelves to perform this ſervice, ſo meritorious, as they believed it, towards God and religion.

BUT tho' Italy ſeemed thus to have embraced zealouſly the deſign, Martin juſtly thought, that, in order to inſure ſucceſs, it was neceſſary to inliſt the greater and more warlike nations in the ſame engagement; and having exhorted Peter previouſly to viſit the chief cities and ſovereigns of Chriſtendom, he ſummoned another council at Clermont in Auvergne. The fame of this great and pious deſign, being now univerſally diffuſed, procured the attendance of the greateſt prelates, nobles, and princes; and when the Pope and the hermit renewed their pathetic exhortations, the whole aſſembly, as if impelled by an immediate inſpiration, not moved by their preceding impreſſions, exclaimed with one voice, It is the will of God, It is the will of God: Words eſteemed ſo memorable, and ſo much the reſult of a divine influence, that they were employed [Page 211] as the ſignal of rendezvous and battle in all the future exploits of the Croiſes*. Men of all ranks flew to arms with the utmoſt ardor; and an exterior ſymbol too, a circumſtance of chief moment, was here choſen by the devoted combatants. The ſign of the croſs, which had been hitherto ſo much revered among Chriſtians, and which, the more it was an object of reproach among infidels, was the more paſſionately cheriſhed by them, became the badge of union, and was affixed to their right ſhoulder, by all who inliſted themſelves in this ſacred warfare.

EUROPE was at this time ſunk into a profound ignorance and ſuperſtition: The eccleſiaſtics had acquired the greateſt aſcendant over the human mind: The people, who, being little reſtrained by honour and leſs by law, abandoned themſelves to the greateſt crimes and diſorders, knew of no other expiation than the obſervances impoſed on them by their ſpiritual paſtors: And it was eaſy to repreſent the holy war as an equivalent for all pennances, and an atonement for every violation of juſtice or humanity. But amidſt the abject ſuperſtition, which now prevailed, the military ſpirit alſo had univerſally diffuſed itſelf; and tho' not ſupported by art or diſcipline, was become the general paſſion of the nations, governed by the feudal law. All the great lords poſſeſſed the right of peace and war: They were engaged in continual hoſtilities with each other: The open country was become a ſcene of outrage and diſorder: The cities, which were ſtill mean and poor, were neither guarded by walls, nor protected by privileges, and were expoſed to each inſult: Every man was obliged to depend for ſafety on his own force, or his private alliances: And valor was the only excellence, which was held in eſteem, or gave one man the pre-eminence above another. When all the particular ſuperſtitions, therefore, were here united in one great object, the ardor for private hoſtilities took the ſame direction; and Europe, impelled by its two ruling paſſions, was looſened, as it were, from its foundations, and ſeemed to precipitate itſelf in one united body upon the eaſt.

ALL orders of men, deeming the croiſades the only road to heaven, inliſted themſelves under theſe ſacred banners, and were impatient to open the way with their ſword to the holy city. Nobles, artizans, peaſants, even prieſts {inverted †} inrolled their names; and to decline this meritorious ſervice was branded with the reproach of impiety, or what perhaps was eſteemed ſtill more diſgraceful, of cowardice and puſillanimity. The infirm and aged contributed to the expedition by preſents and money; and many of them, not ſatisfied with the merit of this atonement, attended it in perſon, and were determined, if poſſible, to breathe [Page 212] their laſt, in ſight of that city where their Saviour had died for them. Women themſelves, concealing their ſex under the diſguiſe of armour, attended the camp; and commonly forgot ſtill more the dury of their ſex, by proſtituting themſelves, without reſerve, to the army*. The greateſt criminals were forward in a ſervice, which they regarded as a propitiation for all crimes; and the moſt enormous diſorders were, during the courſe of theſe expeditions, committed by men enured to wickedneſs, encouraged by example, and impelled by neceſſity. The multitude of the croiſes ſoon became ſo great, that their more ſagacious leaders, Hogh count de Vermandois, brother to the French King, Raymond count of Tholouſe, Godfrey of Boulogne, prince of Brabant, and Stephen count of Blois, became apprehenſive leſt the greatneſs of the armament itſelf would diſappoint its purpoſe; and they permitted an undiſciplined multitude, computed at 300,000 men, to go before them under the command of Peter the Hermit, and Walter the Moneyleſs. Theſe men took the road towards Conſtantinople thro' Hungary and Bulgaria; and truſting, that heaven, by ſupernatural aſſiſtance, would ſupply all their neceſſities, they made no proviſion for ſubſiſtance on their march. They ſoon found themſelves obliged to obtain by plunder what they had vainly expected from miracles; and the enraged inhabitants of the countries thro' which they paſſed, gathering together in arms, attacked the diſorderly multitude, and put them to ſlaughter without reſiſtance. The more diſciplined armies followed after; and paſſing over the ſtraits at Conſtantinople, they were muſtered in the plains of Aſia, and amounted in the whole to the number 700,000 combatants.

AMIDST this univerſal madneſs, which ſpread itſelf by contagion throughout all Europe, eſpecially in France and Germany, men were not entirely forgetful of their preſent intereſts; and both thoſe who went on this expedition, and thoſe who ſtaid behind, entertained ſchemes of gratifying, by its means, their avarice or their ambition. The nobles who inliſted themſelves were moved by the romantic ſpirit of the age to hope for opulent eſtabliſhments in the eaſt, the chief ſeat of arts and commerce during thoſe ages; and in purſuit of theſe chimerical projects, they ſold at the loweſt price their antient caſtles and inheritances, which had now loſt all value in their eyes. The greater princes, who remained at home, beſides eſtabliſhing peace in their dominions by giving occupation abroad to the inquietude and martial diſpoſition of their ſubjects, took the opportunity of annexing to their crown many conſiderable fieſs, either by purchaſe or by the extinction of the heirs. The Pope frequently turned the zeal of the croiſes from the infidels againſt his own enemies, whom he repreſented as equally criminal [Page 213] with the enemies of Chriſt. The convents and other religious ſocieties bought the poſſeſſions of the adventurers; and as the contributions of the faithful were commonly entruſted to their management, they often diverted to this purpoſe what was intended to be employed againſt the infidels*. But no one was a more immediate gainer by this epidemic fury than the King of England, who kept aloof from all connexions with thoſe fanatical and romantic warriors.

[Note: Acquiſition of Normandy.] ROBERT, duke of Normandy, impelled by the bravery and miſtaken generoſity of his ſpirit, had early inliſted himſelf in the croiſade; but being always unprovided of money, he found, that it would be impracticable for him to appear, in a manner ſuitable to his rank and ſtation, at the head of his numerous vaſſals and ſubjects, who, tranſported with the general rage, were determined to follow him into Aſia. He reſolved, therefore, to mortgage or rather to ſell his dominions, which he had not talents to govern; and he offered them to his brother William, for no greater ſum than ten thouſand marks. The bargain was ſoon concluded: The King raiſed the money by violent extortions on his ſubjects of all ranks, even on the convents, who were obliged to melt their plate in order to furniſh the quota demanded of them: He was put in poſſeſſion of Normandy and Maine: And Robert, providing himſelf of a magnificent train, ſet out for the holy land, in purſuit of glory, and, as he believed, in full aſſurance of ſecuring his eternal ſalvation.

THE ſmallneſs of this ſum, with the difficulties which William found in raiſing it, ſuffices alone to refute the account, which is heedleſsly adopted by hiſtorians, of the enormous revenue of the Conqueror. Is it credible, that Robert would conſign into the rapacious hands of his brother ſuch conſiderable dominions, for a ſum, which, according to that account, made not a week's income of his father's treaſury? Or that the King of England could not on demand, without oppreſſing his ſubjects, have been able to pay him the money? The Conqueror, it is agreed, was frugal as well as rapacious; and yet his treaſure, at his death, exceeded not 60,000 pounds, which would have been no more than his income for two months: Another certain refutation of that exaggerated account.

THE fury of the croiſades, during this age, leſs infected England than the neighbouring kingdoms; probably becauſe the Norman conquerors, finding their ſettlement in that kingdom ſtill ſomewhat precarious, dared not to abandon their own houſes, in queſt of diſtant adventures. The ſelfiſh intereſted humour alſo [Page 214] of the King, which kept him from kindling in the general flame, checked its progreſs among his ſubjects; and as he is accuſed of open profaneneſs*, and was endowed with a ſharp wit, it is likely that he made the romantic chivalry of the croiſes the object of his perpetual ridicule. As an inſtance of his irreligion, we are told, that he once accepted of ſixty marks from a Jew, whoſe eldeſt ſon had been converted to Chriſtianity, and who engaged him by that preſent to aſſiſt him in bringing back the youth to Judaiſm. William employed both menaces and perſuaſion to that purpoſe; but finding the new convert obſtinate in his faith, he ſent for the father, and told him, that as he had not ſucceeded, it was not juſt that he ſhould keep the preſent; but as he had done his utmoſt, it was but equitable that he ſhould be paid for his pains; and he would therefore only retain thirty marks of the money. At another time, it is ſaid he ſent for ſome learned Chriſtian theologians and ſome rabbies, and bade them fairly diſpute the queſtion of their religion in his preſence: He was perfectly indifferent between them, had his ears open to reaſon and conviction, and would embrace that doctrine, which upon compariſon ſhould be found ſupported by the moſt ſolid arguments. If this ſtory be true, it is probable that he meant only to amuſe himſelf by turning both into ridicule: But we muſt be cautious of admitting every thing related by the monkiſh hiſtorians to the diſadvantage of this prince: He had the misfortune to be engaged in quarrels with the eccieſiaſtics, particularly with Anſelm, commonly called St. Anſelm, archbiſhop of Canterbury; and it is no wonder his memory ſhould be blackened by the hiſtorians of that order.

[Note: Quarrel with [...], the [...].] AFTER the death of Lanfranc, the King, for ſeveral years, retained in his own hands the revenues of Canterbury, as well as thoſe of many other vacant biſhoprics; but falling into a dangerous illneſs, he was ſeized with remorſe, and the clergy repreſented to him, that he was in danger of eternal perdition, if before his death he did not make atonement for thoſe multiplied impieties and ſacrileges, of which he had been guilty§. He reſolved therefore to ſupply inſtantly the vacancy of Canterbury; and for that purpoſe, he ſent for Anſelm, a Piedmonteſe by birth, abbot of Bec in Normandy, who was much celebrated for his learning and devotion. The abbot refuſed earneſtly the dignity, fell on his knees, wept, and entreated the King to change his purpoſe{inverted †}; and when he found the prince obſtinate in forcing the paſtoral ſtaff upon him, he kept his fiſt ſo faſt clenched, that it required the utmoſt violence of the byſtanders to open it, and force him [Page 215] to receive that enſign of ſpiritual dignity*. William ſoon after recovered his health; and his paſſions regaining their uſual force and vigour, he returned to his former violence and rapine. He retained in priſon ſeveral perſons whom he had ordered to be freed during the time of his penitence; he ſtill preyed upon the eccleſiaſtical benefices; the ſale of ſpiritual dignities continued as open as ever; and he retained poſſeſſion of a conſiderable part of the revenues belonging to the ſee of Canterbury. But he found in Anſelm that perſevering oppoſition, which he had reaſon to expect from the oſtentatious humility, which that prelate had employed in refuſing his promotion.

THE oppoſition of Anſelm was the more dangerous on account of the character of piety, which he ſoon acquired in England, by his great zeal againſt all abuſes, particularly thoſe in dreſs and ornament. There was a mode, which, in that age, prevailed throughout Europe, both among men and women, to give an enormous length to their ſhoes, to draw the toe to a ſharp point, and to affix to it the figure of a bird's bill, or ſome ſuch ornament, which was turned upwards, and which was often ſuſtained by gold or ſilver chains tied to the knee. The eccleſiaſtics took exception at this ornament, which, they ſaid, was an attempt to bely the ſcripture, where it is affirmed, that no man can add a cubit to his ſtature; and they declaimed againſt it with great vehemence, nay aſſembled ſome ſynods, who abſolutely condemned it. But ſuch are the ſtrange contradictions in human nature! tho' the clergy, at that time, could overturn thrones, and had authority ſufficient to ſend above a million of men on their errand to the deſarts of Aſia, they never could prevail againſt theſe long-pointed ſhoes: On the contrary, that caprice, contrary to all other modes, maintained its ground during ſeveral centuries; and if the clergy had not at laſt deſiſted from their perſecutions of it, it might ſtill have been the prevailing faſhion in Europe.

BUT Anſelm was more fortunate in decrying the particular mode, which was the object of his averſion, and which probably had not taken ſuch faſt hold of the affections of the people. He preached zealouſly againſt the long hair and curled locks, which were then faſhionable among the courtiers; he refuſed the aſhes on Aſh-Wedneſday to thoſe who were ſo accoutered; and his authority and eloquence had ſuch influence, that the young men univerſally abandoned that ornament, and appeared in the cropt hair, which was recommended to them by the ſermons of the primate. The noted hiſtorian of Anſelm, who was alſo his companion and ſecretary, celebrates highly this effort of his zeal and piety§.

[Page 216] WHEN William's profaneneſs therefore returned to him with his health, he was ſoon engaged in controverſies with this auſtere prelate. There was at that time a ſchiſm in the church, between Urban and Clement, who both pretended to the papacy*; and Anſelm, who, as abbot of Bec, had already acknowledged the former, was determined, without the King's conſent, to introduce his authority into England. William, who, imitating his father's example, had prohibited his ſubjects from recognizing any Pope, whom he had not previouſly received, was enraged at this pretenſion; and ſummoned a ſynod at Rockingham, with an intention of depoſing Anſelm; but that prelate's ſuffragans declared, that, without the papal authority, they knew of no expedient for inflicting that cenſure on their primate. The King was at laſt engaged by other motives to give the preference to Urban's title; Anſelm received the pall from him; and matters ſeemed to be tolerably compoſed between the King and the primate, when the quarrel broke out afreſh from a new cauſe. William had undertaken an expedition againſt Wales, and required the archbiſhop to furniſh his quota of ſoldiers for that ſervice; but Anſelm, who regarded the demand as an oppreſſion on the church, and yet durſt not refuſe compliance, ſent them ſo miſerably equipped, that the King was extremely diſpleaſed, and threatened him with a proſecution§. Anſelm, on the other hand, demanded poſitively, that all the revenues of his ſee ſhould be reſtored to him; appealed to Rome againſt the King's injuſtice{inverted †}; and affairs came to ſuch extremities, that the primate, finding it dangerous to remain in the kingdom, deſired the King's permiſſion to retire beyond ſea. All his temporalities were confiſcated*; but he was received with great reſpect by Urban, who conſidered him as a martyr in the cauſe of religion, and even menaced the King, on account of his proceedings againſt the primate and the church, with the ſentence of excommunication. Anſelm aſſiſted at the council of Bari, where, beſides fixing the controverſy between the Greek and Latin churches, about the proceſſion of the Holy Ghoſt, the right of election to church-preferments was declared to belong to the clergy alone, and ſpiritual cenſures were denounced againſt all eccleſiaſtics, who did homage to laymen for their ſees or benefices, and on all laymen who exacted it. The rite of homage, by the feudal cuſtoms, was, that the vaſſal ſhould throw himſelf on his knees, ſhould put his joined hands between thoſe of his ſuperior, and ſhould in that poſture ſwear fealty to him. But the council declared it execrable, that pure hands, which could [Page 217] create God, and could offer him up as a ſacrifice for the ſalvation of mankind, ſhould be put, after this humiliating manner, between profane hands, which, beſides being enured to rapine and bloodſhed, were employed day and night in impure purpoſes and obſcene contacts*. Such were the reaſonings prevalent in that age; reaſonings, which, tho' they cannot be paſſed over in ſilence, without omitting the moſt curious and, perhaps, not the leaſt inſtructive part of hiſtory, can ſcarce be delivered with the requiſite decency and gravity.

year 1097 THE ceſſion of Normandy and Maine by duke Robert increaſed mightily the King's territories; but brought him no great increaſe of power, becauſe of the unſettled ſtate of theſe countries, the mutinous diſpoſition of the barons, and the near neighbourhood of the French King, who ſupported them in all their inſurrections. Even Helie, lord of la Fleche, a ſmall town in Anjou, was able to give him inquietude; and this great monarch was obliged to make ſeveral expeditions abroad, without being able to prevail over ſo petty a baron, who had acquired the confidence and affections of the inhabitants of Maine. year 1098 He was, however, ſo fortunate, as at laſt to take him priſoner in a rencounter; but having releaſed him, at the interceſſion of the French King and the count d'Anjou, he found the province of Maine ſtill expoſed to his intrigues and incurſions. Helie, being introduced by the citizens into the town of Mans, beſieged the garriſon in the citadel; year 1099 and William, who was hunting in the new foreſt, when he received this intelligence, was ſo provoked, that he immediately turned about his horſe's head, and galloped to the ſea-ſhore at Dartmouth; declaring, that he would not ſtop a moment, till he had taken vengeance for this offence. He found the weather ſo cloudy and ſtormy, that the mariners declared it dangerous to put to ſea; but the King hurried on board, and ordered them to ſet ſail; telling them, that they never yet heard of a King that was drowned. By this vigour and celerity, he delivered the citadel of Mans from its preſent danger; and purſuing Helie into his own territories, he laid ſiege to Majol, a ſmall caſtle in thoſe parts: But an wound, which he received in the aſſault, obliged him to raiſe the ſiege; and he returned to England.

THE weakneſs of the greateſt monarchs, during this age, in their military expeditions againſt their neareſt neighbours, appears the more ſurpriſing, when we conſider the prodigious numbers, which even petty princes, ſeconding the enthuſiaſtic rage of the people, were able to aſſemble, and to conduct in dangerous [Page 218] enterprizes to the remote provinces of Aſia. year William, earl of Poitiers and duke of Guyenne, enflamed with the glory, and not diſcouraged with the misfortunes, which had attended the former croiſes, had put himſelf at the head of an immenſe multitude, computed by ſome hiſtorians to amount to 60,000 horſe, and a much greater number of foot*, and propoſed to lead them into the holy land againſt the infidels. He wanted money to forward the preparations requiſite for this expedition, and he offered to mortgage all his dominions to William, without entertaining any ſcruple on account of that rapacious and iniquitous hand, into which he reſolved to conſign them. [Note: 2d Auguſt.] The King accepted his offer; and had prepared a fleet and an army, in order to eſcort the money, and take poſſeſſion of the rich provinces of Guienne and Poictou; when an accident put an end to his life, and to all his ambitious projects. He was engaged in hunting, the ſole amuſement, and indeed the chief occupation of princes in thoſe rude times, when ſociety was little cultivated, and the arts afforded few objects worthy of attention. Walter Tyrrel, a French gentleman, remarkable for his addreſs in archery, attended him in this recreation, of which the new foreſt was the ſcene; and as William was diſmounted after a chace, Tyrrel, impatient to ſhow his dexterity, let fly an arrow at a ſtag, which ſuddenly ſtarted before him. [Note: Death] The arrow, glancing from a tree, ſtruck the King in the breaſt, and inſtantly ſlew him; while Tyrrel, without informing any one of the accident, put ſpurs to his horſe, haſtened to the ſea-ſhore, embarked for France, and joined the croiſes in an expedition to Jeruſalem; a penance which he impoſed on himſelf for this involuntary crime. The body of William was found in the foreſt by the country-people, and was buried without any pomp or ceremony at Wincheſter. His courtiers were negligent in performing their laſt duty to a maſter who was ſo little beloved; and every one was too much occupied in the intereſting object of fixing his ſucceſſor, to attend the funerals of a dead ſovereign.

[Note: and character of William Rufus.] THE memory of this monarch is tranſmitted to us with little advantage by the churchmen, whom he had offended; and tho' we may ſuſpect in general, that their account of his vices is ſomewhat exaggerated, his conduct affords little reaſon for contradicting the character which 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 really lay ſo much under [Page 219] the government of impetuous paſſions, that he made little uſe of them in his adminiſtration; and he indulged entirely that domineering policy, which ſuited his temper, and which, if ſupported, as it was in him, with courage and vigor, 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 enterprize which he undertook, was the ſending 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 enterprize proved ſucceſsful*. It was remarked in that age, that his elder brother, Richard, 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, by expelling all the inhabitants of that large diſtrict, to make room for his game, the juſt vengeance of providence was ſignalized, in the ſame place, by the ſlaughter of his poſterity. William was ſlain in the thirteenth year of his reign, and about the fortieth of his age. As he was never married, he left no legitimate iſſue behind him.

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 againſt England.


[Page 220]

The Croiſades—Acceſſion of Henry—Marriage of the King—Invaſion by duke Robert—Accommodation with Robert—Attack of Normandy—Conqueſt of Normandy—Continuation of the quarrel with Anſelm, the primate—Compromiſe with him—Wars abroad—Death of prince William—King's ſecond marriage—Death—and character of Henry.

year 1100 [Note: The croiſades.] AFTER the croiſes were aſſembled on the banks of the Boſphorus, oppoſite to Conſtantinople, they proceeded on their enterprize; but immediately experienced thoſe difficulties, which their zeal had hitherto concealed from them, and for which, even if they had forſeen them, it would have been almoſt impoſſible to provide a proper remedy. The Greek Emperor, Alexis Comnenus, who had applied to the weſtern Chriſtians for ſuccour againſt the Turks, entertained hope, and that but a feeble one, of only 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, with ſuch an inundation of licentious barbarians, who, tho' 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 croiſade, he ſecretly regarded thoſe imperious allies as more dangerous than the open enemies, by whom his empire had been formerly invaded. Having effectuated 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 enterprize, 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 independant, intractable ſpirits, unacquainted with military diſcipline, and ſtill more enemies to civil authority and ſubmiſſion. The ſcarcity of proviſions, the [Page 221] exceſſes of fatigue, the influence of unknown climates, joined to the want of concert in their operations, and the ſword of a warlike enemy, deſtroyed the croiſes by thouſands, and would have abated the ardor 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 enterprizes. 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 theſe 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 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. This offer was rejected; the ſoldan was required to yield up the city to the Chriſtians; and on his refuſal, the croiſes 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 valor, their experience, and the obedience, which, at the price of 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 nor 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 cold blood by theſe ferocious conquerors*. The ſtreets of Jeruſalem were covered with dead bodies; and the triumphant croiſes, 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 head to that ſacred monument: They ſung anthems to their Saviour who had 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*. [Page 222] 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!

THIS great event happened on the fifth of July in the laſt year of the eleventh century. The Chriſtian princes and nobles, after chooſing Godfrey of Boulogne 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 valor had acquired them in this popular and meritorious enterprize. Among theſe, was Robert, duke of Normandy, who, as he had abandoned the greateſt dominions of any prince, that attended the croiſade, 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 thro' Italy, he became acquainted with Sibylla, daughter of the count of Converſana, a young lady of great beauty and merit, whom he eſpouſed; and 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 tho' 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 croiſades, 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.

[Note: Acceſſion of Henry.] PRINCE Henry was hunting with Rufus in the new foreſt, when intelligence of that prince's death was brought him; and being ſenſible of the advantage, attending the conjuncture, he immediated galloped 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 de 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 [Page 223] every moment to Wincheſter, joined the prince's party, Breteuil was obliged to withdraw his oppoſition, and to acquieſce in this violence*.

HENRY, without loſing a moment, haſtened with his 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 the royal dignity. In leſs than three days after his brother's death, the ceremonial of his coronation was performed by Maurice, biſhop of London, who was perſuaded to officiate on that occaſion; 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 deficiencies of Henry's title, which was indeed founded on plain uſurpation: And the barons, as well as the people, acquieſced in a claim, which, tho' it could neither be juſtified nor comprehended, could now, they found, be oppoſed only thro' the perils of civil war and rebellion.

BUT as Henry eaſily foreſaw, that a crown, uſurped againſt all rules of juſtice, would ſit very 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 reign of his father and brother. He there promiſed, that, upon 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 ſucceſceſſor; 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 conſequence, 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 exorbitant exactions as had been required 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 propoſed to marry her ſhould happen to be his enemy: [Page 224] 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 remitted the right of impoſing moneyage, and of levying taxes at pleaſure on the farms, which the barons retained in their own hands*: 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.

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 eyes of all his ſubjects, and remain as a perpetual rule for the limitation and direction of his government: Yet is it certain, that, after the preſent turn 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 only find one copy of it in the whole kingdom. But as to the grievances here propoſed to be redreſſed, they were ſtill continued in their full extent; and the royal authority, in all theſe heads, lay under no manner of reſtriction. Reliefs of heirs, ſo capital an article, were never effectually fixed till the time of Magna Charta; 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 age of Charles II.: And it appears from Glanville, the famous juſticiary of Henry II. that in his time, where any man died inteſtate, an accident which muſt be very frequent, when the art of writing was ſo little known, the King, or the lord of the fief, pretended to ſeize all the [Page 225] moveables, and to exclude every heir, even the children of the deceaſed: A ſure mark of a tyrannical and arbitrary government.

THE Normans indeed, ſettled in England, were, during this age, ſo violent and licentious a people, that they may be pronounced incapable of any true or regular liberty; which requires ſuch a refinement of laws and inſtitutions, ſuch a comprehenſion of views, ſuch a ſentiment of honour, ſuch a ſpirit of obedience, and ſuch a ſacrifice of private intereſts and connexions to public order, as can only be the reſult of great reflection and experience, and muſt grow to perfection during ſeveral ages of a 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 acquire true liberty: But their turbulent diſpoſition prompted them frequently 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 oppreſſion. 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 on 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, are chiefly concerned in it) were totally ignorant of the nature of limited 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, implies ſeveral 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.

KING Henry, farther to increaſe his popularity, degraded and committed to priſon Ralph Flambard, biſhop of Durham, who had been the chief inſtrument of oppreſſion employed by his brother*: 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 [Page 226] 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 dign [...]ties*. On the arrival of the prelate, he propoſed to him the renewal of that homage which he had done his brother, and which had never been refuſed by any Engliſh biſhop: But Anſelm had acquired other ſentiments by his journey to Rome, and gave the King an abſolute refuſal. He objected 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 withh any eccleſiaſtic who paid that ſubmiſſion, or who accepted of inveſtitures from laymen. Henry, who propoſed, in his preſent delicate ſituation, to reap great advantages from the authority and popularity of Anſelm, dared not to quarrel with him by inſiſting on his demand: He only deſired that the controverſy might be ſuſpended; and that meſſengers might be ſent to Rome, to accommodate matters with the Pope, and to obtain his confirmation of the laws and cuſtoms of England.

[Note: 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 of the Scottiſh government, been brought up to England, and educated under her aunt, Chriſtina, in the nunnery of Rumſey. This princeſs Henry propoſed to marry; but as ſhe had worn the veil, tho' 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; and Matilda there proved, that ſhe had put on the veil, not with a view of entering into a religious life, but merely in imitation 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, which, amidſt the horrible licentiouſneſs of the times, was 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; and her eſpouſals with Henry were celebrated by Anſelm with great pomp and ſolemnity§. No act of the [Page 227] King's reign rendered him equally popular with his Engliſh ſubjects, and tended more to eſtabliſh him on the throne. Tho' Matilda, during the life of her uncle and brothers, was not the 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 antient royal family, had felt ſo ſeverely the tyranny of the Normans, that they reflected with infinite regret on their former liberty, and hoped for a more equal and mild adminiſtration, when the blood of their native princes ſhould be united with that of their new ſovereigns*.

[Note: Invaſion by duke Robert.] BUT the policy and prudence of Henry, which, if time had been allowed for theſe virtues to operate 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. He took poſſeſſion, without reſiſtance, of that dutchy; and immediately made preparations for recovering England, of which, during his abſence, he had, by Henry's intrigues, been ſo unjuſtly defrauded. year 1101 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 dutchy 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, invited him to make an attempt on 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 greateſt 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 gained entirely the confidence of the primate, whoſe influence over the people, and authority with the barons, was of [Page 228] the higheſt ſervice to him, in his preſent ſituation. Anſelm ſcrupled not to aſſure the robles 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 thro' 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 all happineſs from the government of ſo wiſe and juſt a ſovereign. By this expedient, joined to the influence of the earls of Warwic and Mellent, of Roger Bigod, Richard de Redvers, and Robert Fitz-Hamon, powerful barons, who ſtill adhered to the preſent government, the army were retained in the King's intereſts, and marched, with an appearance of union and firmneſs, to oppoſe Robert, who had landed with his forces at Portſmouth.

[Note: Accommodation with Robert.] THE two armies were in ſight of each other for ſome days without coming to action; and both princes, being apprehenſive of the event, which would probably be deceſive, hearkened the more wi lingly to the mediation of Anſelm and other great men, who propoſed an accommodation between them. After employing ſome negotiation, it was agreed, that Robert ſhould reſign his pretenſions to England, and receive in lieu of it an annual penſion of 3000 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.

year 1102 THIS treaty, tho' calculated ſo much for Henry's advantage, he was the firſt who violated. 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 grandeur and opulence. 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 accuſer, 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. [Page 229] of Robert de Pontefract and Robert de Mallet, who had diſtinguiſhed themſelves among Robert's adherents*. year 1103 William de Warenne was the next victim: Even William earl of Cornwal, ſon to the earl of Mortaigne, the King's uncle, having afforded matter of ſuſpicion againſt him, loſt all the vaſt acquiſitions of his family in England. Tho' 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 remonſtrated with his brother, in ſevere terms, againſt the breach of treaty: But met with ſuch a bad 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 candor procured him reſpect, while at a diſtance, had no ſooner attained the poſſeſſion of power, and enjoyment of peace, than all the vigor of his mind relaxed, and he fell into contempt among thoſe who approached his perſon, or were ſubjected to his authority. [Note: Attack of Normandy.] Abandoned alternately 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, even ſtole from him his very cloaths, and proceeded thence to practice 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§. The Normans at laſt, remarking 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{inverted †}. Inſtead of employing his mediation, to render his brother's government reſpectable, or redreſſing the grievances of the Normans; he was only attentive to ſupport his own partizans, and to encreaſe their number by every art of bribery, intrigue, and inſinuation. Having [Page 230] found, in a viſit, which he made to that dutchy, that the nobility were more diſpoſed to pay ſubmiſſion to him than to their legal ſovereign; he collected, by very arbitrary extortions on England, a great army and treaſure*, and returned next year to Normandy, in a ſituation to obtain, either by violence or corruption, the dominion of that province. year 1105 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 aſſurances to his adherents, that he would perſevere in ſupporting and protecting them.

year 1106 [Note: 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 rouzed 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 the Norman troops by his example, that they made a great impreſſion of the Engliſh, and had nearly obtained the victory; when the flight of Belleſme threw them into diſmay, and occaſioned their total defeat. Henry, beſides committing great ſlaughter 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. This victory was followed by the final reduction of Normandy: Roüen 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 and heir of Robert: He aſſembled the ſtates of Normandy; and having received the homage of all the vaſſals of the dutchy, 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 a 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 [Page 231] of probity and honour, more than 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*. 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.

year 1107 [Note: Continuation of the quarrel with Anſelm, the primate.] A little after Henry had compleated 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 tho' he was here obliged to relinquiſh ſome of the antient rights of the crown, he extricated himſelf 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; and 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, tho' the rights of primogeniture were then violated, and the inclinations of almoſt all the barons oppoſed, yet the authority of Lanfranc had prevailed over all other conſiderations; and his own caſe, which was ſtill more unfavourable, afforded an inſtance, in which the clergy could ſhow more evidently 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 independance, to which they evidently 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 that prelate was celebrated for his piety and zeal and auſterity of manners; and tho' his monkiſh devotion and narrow principles prognoſticated no great knowledge of the world nor depth of policy, he was, on that very account, a more dangerous inſtrument in the hands of politicians, and retained a greater [Page 232] aſcendant over the bigotted populace. The prudence and temper of the King appear 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 riſque his whole crown, in order to preſerve the moſt invaluable jewel of it*.

ANSELM had no ſooner returned from baniſhment, than his refuſal to do homage to the King excited a diſpute, which Henry evaded at that critical juncture, by promiſing to ſend a meſſenger, in order to compound the matter with Paſcal the ſecond, who then filled the papal chair. The meſſenger, as was probably foreſeen, returned with an abſolute refuſal of the King's demands; 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 thro' Chriſt alone, not thro' the civil magiſtrate or any profane laymen. ‘"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?"

BUT however convincing theſe agreements, 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, or at leaſt to delay, the coming to any dangerous extremity with the church, he perſuaded Anſelm, that he would be able, by farther negociation, to attain ſome compoſition with Paſcal; and for that purpoſe, he diſpatched three biſhops to Rome, while Anſelm ſent two meſſengers of his own, to be more fully aſſured of the Pope's intentions§. 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{inverted †}; and inſiſting with the latter, that the pretenſions of Kings to confer benefices was the ſource of all ſimony; a topic which had but too much foundation in thoſe ages*.

[Page 233] 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; tho' he himſelf ſcrupled to give this aſſurance under his hand, leſt other princes ſhould copy the example and aſſume a like privilege*. 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 eſteemed equivalent 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. 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 had become, returned back to Henry the enſigns of their dignity. The quarrel every day encreaſed between the King and the primate: The former, notwithſtanding the great prudence and moderation of his temper, threw out menaces againſt all ſuch as ſhould pretend to oppoſe him in exerting the antient prerogatives of his crown: And Anſelm, ſenſible of his diſagreeable and 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; and Anſelm ſet out on his journey. He was attended to the ſeacoaſt by inſinite multitudes, not only 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§. The King, however, confiſcated all the revenues of his ſee; and ſent William de Warelwaſt to negociate with Paſcal, and to find ſome means of accommodation in this delicate affair{inverted †}.

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*."’ Henry ſecretly prohibited Anſelm to return, unleſs he reſolved to conform himſelf to the laws and uſages of the kingdom; and the prelate took up his reſidence at [Page 234] Lyons*, in expectation, that the King would at laſt be obliged yield the point, which was the preſent object of controverſy. Soon after, he was allowed 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. 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 was 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.

THE policy of the court of Rome has been commonly 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 ſuch a long 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 torne with ſchiſms and factions, the power of the church made daily a ſenſible progreſs in Europe; and the temerity of Gregory and the caution of Paſcal were equally fortunate in promoting it. The clergy, feeling the neceſſity of protection againſt the violence of princes, or vigor 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 to defend their antient or uſurped properties and privileges, when invaded in any particular country: The monks, deſirous of an independance on their dioceſans, profeſſed ſtill a more devoted attachment to the triple crown; and the ſtupid people poſſeſſed no ſcience nor reaſon, which they could oppoſe to the moſt exorbitant pretenſions. Nonſenſe paſſed for demonſtration: The moſt criminal [Page 235] means were ſanctified by the piety of the end: Treaties were not ſuppoſed to be binding where the intereſts of God were concerned: The antient 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 worſhiped as martyrs; and all events thus turned out equally to the advantage of clerical uſurpations. Paſcal himſelf, the preſent 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*. In order to add greater ſolemnity to this agreement, the Emperor and Pope communicated together on the ſame hoſtie; 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 recalled 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 could never recall.

THE King of England had very nearly fallen into the ſame dangerous ſituation: Paſcal had already excommunicated the earl of Meulent, and the other miniſters of Henry, who were inſtrumental in ſupporting his pretenſions: He daily menaced the King himſelf with a like ſentence; and he ſuſpended the blow only to give him leiſure to eſcape it by a timely ſubmiſſion. The malecontents waited impatiently for the opportunity of diſturbing his government by conſpiracies and inſurrections: The King's greateſt friends were ſolicitous at the proſpect of an incident, which would ſet their religious and civil duties at variance with each other: And the counteſs of Blois, his ſiſter, a princeſs of piety, who had great influence over him, was affrighted with the danger of her brother's eternal damnation§. 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 ability, 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 [Page 236] was the more eaſy to bring about an accommodation between them, and to find a medium, in which they might both agree.

[Note: [...] ] BEFORE biſhops took poſſeſſion of their dignities, they had formerly been accuſtomed to paſs thro' two ceremonials: They received from the hands of the ſovereign a ring and croſier, as ſymbols of their office; and this was called their [...]: They alſo made thoſe ſubmiſſions to the prince, required of vaſſals by the rites [...] the feudal law, which received the name of homage. And as the King might refuſe both to grant the inveſtiture and to receive the homage, tho' 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 inveſtiture and of homage*: 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 independance 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 contented 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. 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 contented to retain ſome, tho' a more precarious authority, in the election of prelates.

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. He alſo granted Anſelm a plenary power of remedying every other diſorder, which, he ſaid, might ariſe from the barbarouſneſs of the country. 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 intitled to treat them as barbarians.

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 conſequence [Page 237] to be enacted, which tended to promote the uſurpations of the clergy. The marriage of prieſts was prohibited; 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*. 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 n t 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, under 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 to wear long hair. The averſion of the clergy to this mode was not confined to England. When the King went over to Normandy, before he had conquered that province, the biſhop of Seez, in a formal harangue, earneſtly applied to 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, tho' he would not reſign his prerogatives to the church, was very willing to part with his hair: He cut it in the form which they required of him, and obliged all the courtiers to imitate his example.

[Note: Wars abroad.] THE acquiſition of Normandy was a great point of Henry's ambition; being the antient 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. 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 ſuch an unblemiſhed character, was to prevent all malignant ſuſpicions, in caſe any accident ſhould befal the life of the young prince. year 1110 He ſoon repented him of this 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§. In proportion as the young prince grew up to man's eſtate, he diſcovered virtues ſuitable to his birth; and wandering thro' different courts of Europe, 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 [Page 238] 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 ſtepmother, 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 ma y 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 among theſe princes was attended with no memorable tranſaction, and produced only ſlight ſkirmiſhes on the ſrontiers, agreeable to the weak condition of the ſovereigns in that age, whenever their ſubjects were not rouzed by ſome great and urgent occaſion. Henry, by contracting his eldeſt ſon, Wil [...]iam, to the daughter of Fulk*, detached that 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 Handers, 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. year 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 enemies.

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 intereſts of princes. year 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 priſon ſo brave a prince as Robert, one of the moſt eminent of the croiſes, 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 [Page 239] laws and cuſtoms of England, and maintain the prerogatives tranſmitted to him by his anceſtors. ‘"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. 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, 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 ſurprizing Noyon; but Henry, having received intelligence of the deſign, marched to the relief of the place, and ſuddenly attacked the French at Andeley, as they were advancing to Noyon. A ſharp action enſued; where William, the ſon of Robert, 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*; 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 three perſons ſlain. The reſt were defended by that heavy armour, worn by the cavalry in thoſe times. An accommodation ſoon after enſued between the Kings of France and England; and the intereſts of young William were entirely neglected in it.

year 1120 [Note: Death of prince William.] BUT this public proſperity of Henry was much overballanced 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 his ſucceſſor by the ſtates of the kingdom, and had carried him over to Normandy, to receive the homage of the barons of that dutchy. On his return, he 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 [Page 240] 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*. The prince 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 crowded in, ſoon ſunk the boat; and the prince with all his retinue periſhed. Above an hundred and forty young noblemen, of the principal families of England and Normandy, were loſt on this occaſion. A butcher of Roüen was the only perſon on board who eſcaped: He clung to the maſt, and was taken up next morning by fiſherrmen. Fitz-Stephens, the captain, took hold alſo of the maſt; but being informed by the butcher, that prince William had periſhed, he ſaid, that he would n t ſurvive the diſaſter; and he threw himſelf headlong into the ſea. 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 chearfulneſs§.

THE death of Will [...]am 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 nation: But it is remarkable, that the young prince had entertained a violent averſion to the natives; and he 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 burthen. Theſe prepoſſeſſi [...]ns he inherited from his father, who, tho' he was wont, when it might ſerve his purpoſes, to value himſelf on his birth, as a native of England{inverted †}, 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*. 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.

[Page 241] PRINCE William left no children; and the King had not now any legitimate iſſue; except one daughter, Matilda, whom, in 1110, he had betrothed, tho' only eight years of age*, to the Emperor Henry V. and whom he had then ſent over to be educated in Germany. [Note: King's ſecond marriage.] 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 ſons; and he made his addreſſes to Adelais, daughter of Godfrey, duke of Lovaine, and niece to Pope Calixtus, a young princeſs of an amiable perſon. year 1121 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 court of Lewis, King of France; and as Henry's connexions with Fulk, count of Anjou, were broke off by the death of his ſon, that count joined the party of the unfortunate prince, gave him his daughter in marriage, and aſſiſted 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 his family. year 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 of all his dominions, and obliging the barons both of Normandy and England to ſwear fealty to her. 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 fears 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§; and Henry had experienced too ſenſibly the turbulency [Page 242] 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; and an acceſſion of power, which that prince inherited 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 county, to which he had pretenſions, in the right of his grandmother Matilda, wife to the Conqueror*. year 1128 But William ſurvived a very little time this piece of good fortune, which ſeemed to open the door 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.

THE chief merit of this prince's government conſiſts in the profound tranquillity which he eſtabliſhed and maintained throughout all his dominions during the greateſt 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 continuing or renewing their enterprizes. 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. Tho' 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 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 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 court's approach, often deſerted their homes, as if an enemy had invaded them§; and ſheltered their perſons and families in the woods from the inſults of the King's retinue. Henry prohibited theſe enormities, and puniſhed the perſons guilty of them by cutting off their hands, legs, or other members{inverted †}. But the prerogative was perpetual; the remedy applied by Henry was but temporary; and the violence of this remedy, ſo far from being a ſecurity to the people, was only a proof of the ferocity of the government in that age, and threatened a quick return of like abuſes.

[Page 243] ONE great and difficult object of the King's prudence was the guarding againſt the incroachments 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 tho' he was the firſt that for many years had appeared there in that character, and his commiſſion gave general ſurprize*, the King, who was then in the commencement of his reign, and was attended with many difficulties, was obliged to ſubmit to this incroachment on his authority. But in the year 1116, Anſelm, abbot of St. Sabas, who was coming over with a like legatine commiſſion, was prohibited to enter the kingdom; 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. Notwithſtanding this engagement, the Pope, ſo ſoon as he had ſuppreſſed his antagoniſt, granted the Cardinal de Crema a legatine commiſſion for 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. A ſynod was called by the legate at London; where, among other canons, a vote paſſed, enacting ſevere penalties on the marriage of the clergy§; and 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{inverted †}; an incident which threw ſuch a 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*.

HENRY, in order to prevent this alternate revolution of conceſſions and incroachments, ſent William, then archbiſhop of Canterbury, to remonſtrate with the court of Rome againſt theſe abuſes, and to aſſert the liberties of the Engliſh churches. It was an 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 [Page 244] always exerciſed, to reſume at a proper ſeaſon 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 preſent conteſt of ſo dangerous a nature, commonly acquieſced by their ſilence in theſe pretenſions of the court of Rome*.

year 1131 As every thing in England remained in the utmoſt 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. year 1133 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. 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; and he ſeemed determined to paſs the reſt of his days in that country; when an incurſion of the Welſh obliged him to think of returning into England. year 1135 [Note: 1ſt of Decem.] He was preparing for the journey, when he was ſeized with a ſudden illneſs at St. Denis le Forment, from eating too plentifully of lampreys, a food which always agreed better with his palate than his conſtitution. He died in [Page 245] the ſixty-ſeventh year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of his reign; [Note: Death] leaving by will his daughter, Matilda, heireſs of all his dominions, without making any mention of her huſband, Geoffrey, who had given him ſeveral cauſes of diſpleaſure*.

[Note: and character of Henry.] THIS prince was one of the moſt accompliſhed that has filled the Engliſh throne, and poſſeſſed all the 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 tho' 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, even tho' it had been leſs ſupported by art and policy. By his great progreſs in literature, he acquired the name of Beau-clerc or the ſcholar; but his application to theſe ſedentary purſuits abated nothing of the activity and vigilance of his government; and tho' 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 very ſuſceptible of the ſentiments as well of friendſhip as of reſentment; and his ambition, tho' high, might be eſteemed 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 ſcepter both of Normandy and England; 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.

KING Henry was much addicted to women; and hiſtorians mention no leſs than ſeven illegitimate ſons and ſix daughters, who were born to him. Hunting was alſo one of his favourite amuſements; and he exerciſed great rigor on thoſe who encroached on the royal foreſts, which were augmented during this reign, tho' their number and extent were already enormous. 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 [Page 246] liberty of hunting on their own lands, or even cutting their own woods. In other reſpects, he executed juſtice, and that with rigor; the beſt maxim which a prince in that age could follow. Stealing was firſt made capital in this reign*: Falſe coining, which was then a very common crime, and which had extremely debaſed the money, was puniſhed ſeverely by Henry. Near fifty criminals of this kind were at one time hanged or mutilated; and tho' theſe puniſhments ſeem to have been exerciſed in ſomewhat an arbitrary manner, 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 antiquarians have agreed not to think it genuine. It is however a very antient compilation, and may be uſeful to inſtruct us in the manners and cuſtoms of the times. It appears from it, that a great diſtinction was then made between the Engliſh and Normans, much to the advantage of the latter. 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.

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, they were empowered to hold the farm of Middleſex at three hundred pounds a year, to elect their own ſheriff and juſticiary, and to hold pleas of the crown; they were 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§.


[Page 247]

Acceſſion of Stephen—War with Scotland—Inſurrection in favour of Matilda.—Stephen taken priſoner—Matilda crowned—Stephen releaſed—Reſtored to the crown—Continuation of the civil wars—Compromiſe between the King and prince Henry—Death of the King.

year 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 after that the continuance of rights, during ſome generations, in the ſame family, had, in ſome 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 dutchy 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 inſtruct 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 [Page 248] his favour and good opinion. Henry, who had betaken himſelf to the eccleſiaſtical profeſſion, was created abbot of Glaſtenbury and biſhop of Wincheſter; and tho' theſe dignities were conſiderable, Stephen, his brother, had, from his uncle's liberality, attained eſtabliſhments ſtill more ſolid and durable*. 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 preſent 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 a 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 a 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 Gloceſter, the King's natural ſon, who ſhould firſt be admitted to give her this teſtimony of devoted zeal and fidelity. Mean while, he continued to cultivate, by every art of popularity, the friendſhip and affection 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 vigor, 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. And tho' he dared not to take any ſteps towards his farther grandeur, leſt he might 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 ſome time be able to open his way to the throne.

No ſooner had Henry expired, 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 enterprize and the boldneſs of his attempt might overcome the weak attachment, which the Engliſh and Normans in that age bore to the laws, and to the rights of their ſovereign. He haſtened over to England; and tho' the citizens of Dover, and thoſe of Canterbury, apprized of his purpoſe, ſhut their gates againſt him, [Page 249] 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, 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; and having gained Roger, biſhop of Saliſbury*, who, tho' 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 put the crown upon the head of Stephen. The primate, who, as well as all the others, had ſworn 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 great revolution was effected. Hugh Bigod, ſteward of the houſhold, made oath before the primate, that the late King, on his death-bed, had diſcovered a diſſatisfaction with his daughter Matilda, and had expreſſed his intention of leaving the count of Boulogne heir to all his dominions. [Note: 22d Decem.] William, either believing or feigning to believe, Bigod's teſtimony, anointed Stephen, and put the crown upon his head; and by 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; 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, overlooked 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§.

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 draw the rents of any of them during the interval; to the nobility, that they ſhould not be proſecuted for hunting in their own foreſts; and to the people, that he would remit the tax of [Page 250] Danegelt and reſtore the laws of King Edward*. The late King had a great treaſure at Wincheſter, amounting to an 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 inſured the compliance, tho' not the attachment, of the principal clergy and nobility; and not truſting to this frail ſecurity, he invited over from the continent, particularly from Brittanny and Flanders, great numbers of thoſe bravos or diſorderly ſoldiers, with whom every country in Europe, by reaſon of the general ill police and turbulent governments, extremely abounded. Theſe mercenary troops guarded his throne, by the terrors of the ſword; and Stephen, that he might alſo overawe all malcontents by new and additional terrors of religion, procured a bull from Rome, which ratified his title, and which the Pope, ſeeing this prince in actual poſſeſſion of the throne, and pleaſed with an appeal to his authority in ſecular controverſies, very readily granted him.

year 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{inverted †}. Lewis the younger, the preſent King of France, accepted of the homage of Euſtace, Stephen's eldeſt ſon, for the dutchy; and the farther 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 a 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. Stephen, who had taken a journey to Normandy, finiſhed all theſe tranſactions in perſon, and ſoon after returned to England.

[Page 251] ROBERT, earl of Gloceſter, natural ſon of the late King, was a man of honour and ability; and as he was much attached to the intereſts of his ſiſter, Matilda, and zealous for the lineal ſucceſſion to the crown, it was chiefly from his intrigues and reſiſtance, that the King had reaſon to dread a new revolution of government. This nobleman, when he received intelligence of Stephen's acceſſion, was much embarraſſed concerning the meaſures, which he ſhould purſue in that difficult emergency. To ſwear allegiance to the uſurper appeared to him very 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*. 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, tho' 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 theſe terms. The clergy, who could ſcarce, at this time, be deemed ſubjects to the crown, imitated that dangerous example; and annexed to their oath 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. 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. All England was immediately filled with theſe 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 controul, 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§, 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, [Page 252] and by aſſiſting him in his rapine upon others. The erection of one caſtle proved the immediate cauſe of building many more; and even thoſe, who obtained not the King's permiſſion, thought themſelves intitled, by the great principle of ſelfpreſervation, to put themſelves on an equal footing with their neighbours, who commonly were alſo their enemies and rivals. The ariſtocratical power, which is ſo tyrannical and oppreſſive in the feudal governments, had now riſen to its utmoſt height, during the reign of a prince, who tho', endowed with vigor and ability, 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.

BUT Stephen was not of a diſpoſition to ſubmit long to theſe uſurpations, without making ſome efforts 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*, as well as the antient and eſtabliſhed 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. year 1137 The earl of Gloceſter, having now ſettled with his friends the project 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. year 1138 [Note: 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, William Piercy, Robert de Brus, Roger Moubray, Ilbert Lacy, Walter d'Eſpee, powerful barons in thoſe parts, aſſembled an army, with which they encamped at North-Allerton, and awaited the arrival of the enemy. [Note: 22d Auguſt.] 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 routed with great ſlaughter, and he himſelf, as well as his ſon, Henry, very narrowly eſcaped falling into the hands of the Engliſh. This ſucceſs overawed the malcontents in [Page 253] 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.

THO' the exorbitant power of the church, in antient 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 the Devizes, and had laid the foundations of a third at Malmeſbury: His nephew, Alexander biſhop of Lincoln, had erected a fortreſs at Newark: year 1139 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 intitled than the barons to ſuch military ſecurities*. Taking pretence of a fray, which had ariſen in court between the retinue of the biſhop of Saliſbury and that of the earl of Britanny, 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.

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 privileges of the church, which, he pretended, were here openly violated. [Note: 30th Auguſt.] 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 whom alone, he affirmed, they could lawfully be tried and condemned, if their conduct had any wiſe merited cenſure or puniſhment: The ſynod ventured to ſend a ſummons to the King, charging him to appear before them, and to juſtify his meaſures; 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 [Page 254] cauſe, or examine their conduct, till thoſe caſtles, of which they had been diſpoſſeſſed, were previouſly reſtored to them*. The biſhop of Saliſbury appealed to the Pope; and had not Stephen and his partizans 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.

[Note: 22d Septemb.] WHILE this quarrel, joined to ſo many other grievances, encreaſed 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 Gloceſter, and a retinue of an hundred and forty knights. [Note: Inſurrection in favour of Matilda.] 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 partizans to take arms in every county of England. 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 Gloceſter, where ſhe remained under the protection of Miles, 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{inverted †}; 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 theſe 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 oppreſſion 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 diſcover their treaſures; ſold their perſons to ſlavery; and ſet fire to the houſes, after they had pillaged them of every thing valuable. The fierceneſs of their diſpoſition, leading them to commit wanton deſtruction, fruſtrated [Page 255] 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 deſtroyed or abandoned; and a grievous famine, the natural reſult of theſe diſorders, affected equally both parties, and reduced the ſpoilers, as well as the defenceleſs people, to the moſt extreme want and indigence*.

year 1140 AFTER ſeveral fruitleſs negotiations and treaties of peace, which never interrupted thoſe 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, partizans of Matilda, had ſurprized 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 rendering himſelf ſoon maſter of the place, either by aſſault or famine. year 1141 [Note: 2d February.] The earl of Gloceſter haſtened with an army to the relief of his friends; and Stephen, informed of his approach, marched into the field, with an intention of giving him battle. 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. [Note: Stephen taken priſoner.] He was conducted to Gloceſter; and tho' at firſt treated with humanity, was ſoon after, on ſome ſuſpicions, thrown into priſon, and loaded with irons.

STEPHEN's party were entirely broke by the captivity of their leader, and the barons came in daily from all quarters, and did homage to Matilda. That 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 ſhowed his intentions to have rather aimed at humbling his brother, than totally ruining him, ſhe employed every endeavour to fix him in her intereſts. [Note: 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 return to the allegiance, which he, as well as the [Page 256] 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 abbies. Earl Robert, her brother, Brian Fitz-Count, Miles of Gloceſter, and other great men, became guarantees for her obſervance of theſe engagements*; and the prelate was at laſt induced to promiſe her his allegiance, but that ſtill burdened with the expreſs condition, that ſhe ſhould on her part fulfil her promiſes. He then conducted her into 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. Theobald, archbiſhop of Canterbury, ſoon after came alſo to court, and ſwore allegiance to the empreſs.

[Note: 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 contented, that the legate ſhould ſummon an eccleſiaſtical council, and that her title to the throne ſhould there be recognized and 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 ſeduced 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 been in every particular 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, abbies were ſet 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 that prince, however miſguided, was ſtill his brother, and the object of his affections; but he muſt however regard his intereſts as much ſubordinate to thoſe of his 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, their late ſovereign, Queen of England. The [Page 257] whole aſſembly, by their acclamations or ſilence, gave, or ſeemed to give, their aſſent to this declaration*.

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 party with thoſe barons, who had baſely forſaken their lord in battle, and who had treated holy church with contumely. 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 that time bring into the field no leſs than 80,000 combatants.

LONDON, notwithſtanding its great power, and its attachment to Stephen, was at laſt 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 that 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{inverted †}: The Londoners applied for the eſtabliſhment of King Edward's laws, inſtead of thoſe of King Henry, which, they ſaid, were grievous and oppreſſive*. All theſe petitions were denied in the moſt haughty and peremptory manner.

THE legate, who had probably never been ſincere in his compliance with Matilda's government, availed himſelf of the ill humours excited by this imperious conduct, and ſecretly inſtigated the Londoners to a revolt. A conſpiracy was [Page 258] entered into to ſeize the Empreſs's perſon; and ſhe ſaved herſelf from the danger by a precip [...]tate retreat*. She fled to Wincheſter; whither the legate, deſirous to ſave appearances, and watching the proper opportunity to ruin her cauſe, ſoon after followed her. But having aſſembled all his retainers, he openly joined his [...] to that of the Londoners, and to Stephen's mercenary troops, who had not [...] the kingdom; and he beſieged Matilda in Wincheſter. That pri [...]ceſs, 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, tho' a [...], was as much the life and ſoul of his own party, as Stephen was of the [...]; and the Empreſs, ſenſible of his merit, conſented to exchange the priſoners on equal terms. [Note: [...] ] The civil war was again kindled with greater fury than ever.

year 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 partizans§. This expedient, however, produced nothing deciſive. Stephen took Oxford after a long ſiege: year 1143 He was routed by earl Robert at Wilton{inverted †}: And the Empreſs, tho' of a maſculine ſpirit, yet haraſſed with a variety of good and bad fortune, and alarmed with continual dangers to her perſon and family, at laſt retired with her ſon into Normandy, leaving the management of her affairs to her brother. year 1146 [Note: Con [...]inuation of the civil wars.] The death of this valiant and faithful nobleman, which followed ſoon after, would have proved fatal to her intereſts, had not ſome events happened, 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 theſe 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, and had deprived the biſhop of Wincheſter of the legatine commiſſion, which he conferred on Theobald, archbiſhop of Canterbury, [Page 259] the enemy and rival of the former legate. year 1147 That pontiff, having ſummoned a general council at Rheims in Champagne, 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 preſence in the council. Stephen, who, notwithſtanding his preſent difficulties, was jealous of the rights of his crown, refuſed them permiſſion to attend*; 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. By this ſentence, which was now firſt known in England, divine ſervice was prohibited, and all the functions of religion ceaſed, except the baptiſm of infants and the abſolution of dying perſons. The diſcontents of the royaliſts at 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 this reproach from his party.

year 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 Mowbray, William de Warrenne, and others, finding no opportunity to exert their military ardor at home, inliſted themſelves in a new croiſade, which, with ſurpriſing ſucceſs, after all former diſappointments and misfortunes, was now preached by St. Barnard. 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 thro' before he was admitted to the uſe of arms, and which was even eſteemed requiſite for the greateſt princes. He propoſed to receive his admiſſion from his great-uncle, David King of Scotland; and for that purpoſe, he paſſed thro' England with a great retinue, and was attended by the moſt conſiderable of his partizans§. He ſtaid ſome time with the King of Scotland; made ſome 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 rouzed the hopes of his party, and gave ſymptoms of thoſe great qualities, which he afterwards diſplayed when he mounted the throne of England. year 1150 Soon after his return to Normandy, he was, by Matilda's conſent, inveſted in that dutchy{inverted †}; and upon the death of his father, Geoffrey, which happened in the ſubſequent year, he took poſſeſſion both of Anjou [Page 260] and Maine, and concluded a marriage, which brought him a great acceſſion of power, and rendered him extremely formidable to his rival. year Eleanor, the daughter and heireſs of William, duke of Guienne, and earl of Poictou, had [...] married ſixteen years to Lewis VII. King of France, and had attended him [...], which that monarch commanded againſt the infidels: But having there loſt the affections of her huſband, and even fallen under ſome ſuſpicions of g [...]try 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*. year Young Henry, neither diſcouraged by the inequality of years, nor by the reports of Eleanor's gallantry, 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 revenge of Stephen.

year 1153 HENRY, informed of theſe diſpoſitions in the people, made an invaſion on England; and 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 on both ſides, terrified with the proſpect of farther bloodſhed and confuſion, interpoſed with their good offices, and ſet on foot a negotiation between theſe rival princes. [Note: Compromiſe bet [...]ee [...] the King and prince Henry] The death of Euſtace, which happened during the courſe of the treaty, facilitated its concluſion§; and an accommodation was at laſt concluded, 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 death, ſucceed to the kingdom, and William, Stephen's ſon, to Boulogne, and his patrimonial eſtate{inverted †}. [Note: Death of the King.] 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; and the death of Stephen, which happened next year, after a ſhort illneſs, prevented [Page 261] all thoſe quarrels and jealouſies, which were likely to have enſued in ſo delicate a ſituation. [Note: 25th October]

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*. He was poſſeſſed of induſtry, activity, and courage, to a great degree; was not deficient in ability; had the talents of gaining mens affections; and notwithſtanding his precarious ſituation, never indulged himſelf in the exerciſe of any cruelty or revenge. His advancement to the throne procured him neither tranquillity nor happineſs; and tho' the ſituation of England prevented the neighbouring ſlates from taking any durable advantage of her confuſions, her inteſtine wars and diſorders were to the laſt degree ruinous and deſtructive. The court of Rome alſo was permitted, during theſe diſorders, to make farther advances in her uſurpations; and appeals to the Pope, which had been always ſtrictly prohibited by the Engliſh laws, became now common in every eccleſiaſtical controverſy.


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State of Europe—of France—Firſt acts of Henry's government—Diſputes between the civil and eccleſiaſtical powers—Thomas a Becket, archbiſhop of Canterbury—Quarrel between the King and Becket—Conſtitutions of Clarendon—Baniſhment of Becket—Compromiſe with him—His return from baniſhment—His murder—Grief—and ſubmiſſion of the King.

year 1154 [Note: 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, tho' they diffuſe the leaſt ſpark of diſſenſion thro' the whole, are at leaſt attended with this advantage, that they prevent any violent revolutions or conqueſts in particular ſtates, were totally unknown in antient ages; and the theory of foreign politics, in each kingdom, formed a ſpeculation much leſs complicate and involved than at preſent: Commerce had not yet bound the moſt diſtant nations together 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 any one project or effort: And above all, the turbulent ſpirit and independant 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 ſyſtem of government, and was more indifferent about what paſſed among his neighbours. Religion only, not politics, carried abroad the views of princes; and 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 court of Rome, to whom they had yielded the direction of eccleſiaſtical affairs, and who was every day aſſuming more authority than they were willing to allow her.

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 [Page 263] home, had neither enemies nor allies on the continent. The foreign dominions of William connected them with the Kings 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.

[Note: State of France.] ON the decline of the Carlovingian race, the nobles, in every province of France, taking advantage of the ſovereign's weakneſs, 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 independant, 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 of power to the royal dignity; but this fief, tho' conſiderable for a ſubject, appeared a narrow baſis of force, in a prince who was placed at the head of ſo great a community. The royal demeſnes conſiſted only of Paris, Orleans, Eſtampes, Compiegne, and a few places, ſcattered over the northern provinces: In all the reſt of the kingdom, the prince's authority was more nominal than real: The vaſſals were accuſtomed, nay intitled, to make war, without his permiſſion, on each other: They were even entitled, if they conceived themſelves to be 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, Tholouſe, and Champagne, which formed very extenſive and puiſſant ſovereignties. And tho' the combination of all theſe princes and barons could on occaſion muſter a mighty power: Yet was it 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 [Page 264] another time, 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 very large, compared to the greatneſs of his ſtate: He was accuſtomed to levy arbitrary exactions from his ſubjects: His courts of judicature exerciſed juriſdiction in every part of the kingdom: He could cruſh by his power, or by a judicial ſentence, well or ill founded, any obnoxious baron: And tho' 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 make war againſt the prince, and afford protection to the inferior barons.

WHILE ſuch were the different ſituations of France and England, and the latter enjoyed ſo great advantages over 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 ballance between the ſtates. He was maſter, in the right of his father, of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine; in that of his mother, of Normandy; in that of his wife, of Guienne, Poictou, Xaintonge, Auvergne, Perigord, Angoumois, the Limouſin. He ſoon after annexed Britanny 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, by Charles the Simple, been granted 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 here to be renewed, and that with much greater advantages on the ſide of the vaſſal: And when England was added to ſo many provinces, the French King had reaſon to apprehend, from this conjuncture, ſome great diſaſter to himſelf and to his family. But in reality, it was this circumſtance, which appeared ſo formidable, that ſaved the Capetian race, and by its conſequences, exalted them to that pitch of grandeur, which they at preſent enjoy.

THE limited authority of the prince in the feudal conſtitutions prevented the King of England from employing with advantage the force of ſo many ſtates, [Page 265] which were ſubjected to his government; and theſe different members, disjoined in ſituation, and diſagreeing in laws, language and manners, were never thoroughly cemented into one monarchy. He ſoon became, both from his diſtant place of reſidence and from the incompatability of intereſts, a kind of foreigner to his French dominions; and his ſubjects on the continent conſidered their allegiance as more naturally due to their ſuperior lord, who lived in their neighbourhood, and who was acknowledged to be the ſupreme head of their nation. He was always at hand to invade them; their immediate lord was often at too great a diſtance to protect them; and any diſorder in any part of his diſperſed dominions gave advantages againſt him. The other powerful vaſſals of the French crown were rather pleaſed to ſee the expulſion of the Engliſh, and were not affected with that jealouſy, which would have ariſen from the oppreſſion of a co-vaſſal, who was of the ſame rank with themſelves. By this means, the King of France found it more eaſy to conquer theſe numerous provinces from England, than to ſubdue a duke of Normandy or Guienne, a count of Anjou, Maine or Poictou. And after reducing ſuch extenſive territories, which immediately co-alited with the body of the monarchy, he found greater facility of uniting to the crown the other great fiefs, which ſtill remained ſeparate and independant.

BUT as theſe important conſequences could not be foreſeen by human wiſdom, the French King remarked with terror the riſing grandeur of the houſe of Anjou or Plantagenet; and in order to retard its progreſs, he had ever maintained a ſtrict union with Stephen, and had endeavoured to ſupport the tottering fortunes of that bold uſurper. But after this prince's death, it was too late to think of oppoſing the ſucceſſion of Henry, or preventing the performance of thoſe ſtipulations, which, with the unanimous conſent of the nation, he had made with his predeceſſor. The Engliſh, tired with civil wars, and diſguſted with the bloodſhed and depredations, which, during the courſe of ſo many years, had attended them, were little diſpoſed to violate their oaths, by excluding the lawful heir from the ſucceſſion of their monarchy*. Many of the moſt conſiderable fortreſſes were in the hands of his partizans; the whole nation had had occaſion to ſee the noble qualities with which he was endowed, and to compare them with the mean talents of William, the ſon of Stephen; and as they were acquainted with his great power, and were rather pleaſed to ſee the acceſſion of ſo many foreign dominions to the crown of England, they never entertained the leaſt thoughts of reſiſting him. Henry himſelf, ſenſible of the advantages attending his preſent ſituation, was in no hurry to arrive in England; and being engaged [Page 266] in the ſiege of a caſtle on the frontiers of Normandy, when he received intelligence of Stephen's death, he made a point of honour in not departing from his enterprize, till he had brought it to an iſſue. [Note: 8th Decem.] He then ſet out on his journey, and was received in England with the acclamations of all orders of men, who ſwore with pleaſure the oath of fealty and allegiance to him.

year 1155 [Note: Firſt acts of Henry's government.] THE firſt act of Henry's government correſponded to the high ideas entertained of his vigor and abilities, and prognoſticated the re-eſtabliſhment of juſtice and tranquillity, of which the kingdom had been ſo long bereaved. He immediately diſmiſſed all thoſe mercenary ſoldiers, who had committed infinite diſorders in the nation; and he ſent them abroad, together with William d'Yypres, their leader, the great friend and confident of Stephen*. He revoked all the grants made by his predeceſſor, and even thoſe which neceſſity had extorted from the Empreſs, Matilda; and that princeſs, who had reſigned her rights in favour of Henry, made no oppoſition to a meaſure ſo requiſite for ſupporting the dignity of the crown. He repaired the coin, which had been extremely debaſed during his predeceſſor's reign; and he took proper meaſures againſt the return of like abuſes. He was rigorous in the execution of juſtice, and in the ſuppreſſion of robbery and violence; and that he might reſtore authority to the laws, he cauſed all the new erected caſtles to be demoliſhed, which had proved ſo many ſanctuaries to freebooters and rebels. The earl of Albemarle, Hugh Mortimer, and Roger, the ſon of Miles of Gloceſter, were inclined to make ſome reſiſtance to this ſalutary meaſure; but the approach of the King with his forces ſoon obliged them to ſubmit§.

year 1156 EVERY thing being reſtored to full tranquillity in England, Henry went abroad in order to oppoſe the attempts of his brother, Geoffrey, who during his abſence, had made an incurſion into Anjou and Maine, had advanced ſome pretenſions to theſe provinces, and had got poſſeſſion of a conſiderable part of them{inverted †}. On the King's appearance, the people returned to their allegiance; [Page 267] and Geoffrey, reſigning his claim, for an annual penſion of a thouſand pounds, departed and took poſſeſſion of the country of Nantz, which the inhabitants, who had expelled count Hoel, their prince, had put into his hands*. year 1157 Henry returned to England in the following year; and the incurſions of the Welſh then provoked him to make an invaſion upon them; where the natural faſtneſſes of the country bred him great difficulties, and even brought him into danger. His vanguard, being engaged in a narrow paſs, was put to rout; and Henry de Eſſex, the hereditary ſtandard-bearer, ſeized with a panic, threw down the ſtandard, took to flight, and exclaimed that the King was ſlain: And had not that prince immediately appeared in perſon, and led on his troops with great bravery, the conſequences might have proved fatal to the whole army. For this miſbehaviour, Eſſex was afterwards accuſed of felony by Robert de Montfort; his eſtate was confiſcated; and he himſelf was thruſt into a convent. The ſubmiſſions of the Welſh procured them an accommodation with England.

year 1158 THE martial diſpoſition of the princes in that age engaged them to head their own armies in every enterprize, even the moſt frivolous; and their feeble authority made it commonly impracticable for them to delegate, on occaſion, the command to their generals. Geoffrey, the King's brother, died ſoon after he had acquired poſſeſſion of Nantz; and tho' he had no other title to that county, than the voluntary ſubmiſſion or election of the inhabitants two years before, Henry laid claim to the territory as devolved to him by hereditary right, and he went over to ſupport his pretenſions by force of arms. Conan, duke or earl of Brittanny (for theſe titles are given indifferently by hiſtorians to theſe princes) pretended that Nantz had been lately ſeparated by rebellion from his principality, to which of right it belonged; and immediately on Geoffrey's death, he took poſſeſſion of the diſputed territory. Leſt Lewis, the French King, ſhould interpoſe in the controverſy, Henry paid him a viſit; and ſo allured him by careſſes and civilities, that an alliance was contracted between the monarchs, and they agreed, that young Henry, heir of the Engliſh monarchy, ſhould be affianced to Margaret of France, tho' the former was only five years of age, and the latter was ſtill in her cradle. Henry, now ſecure of meeting with no interruption on this ſide, advanced with his army into Brittany; and Conan, in deſpair of being able to make reſiſtance, delivered up the county of Nantz to the King: [Page 268] The ability of that monarch procured him farther and more important advantages from this incident. Conan, haraſſed with the turbulent diſpoſition of his ſubjects, was deſirous of procuring to himſelf the ſupport of ſo great a monarch; and he betrothed his daughter and only child, yet an infant, to Geoffrey, the King's third ſon, who was of the ſame tender years. The duke of Brittany died about ſeven years after; and Henry, on pretence of being guardian to his ſon and daughter-in-law, put himſelf in poſſeſſion of that principality, and annexed it to his other great dominions*.

year THE King had a proſpect of making ſtill farther acquiſitions; and the activity of his temper allowed no opportunity of that kind to eſcape him. Philippa, dutcheſs of Guienne, mother of Queen Eleanor, was the only iſſue of William IV. count of Thoulouſe; and ſhould have inherited his dominions, had not that prince, deſirous of preſerving the ſucceſſion in the male-line, conveyed the principality to his brother, Raymond de St. Gilles, by a contract of ſale which was in that age regarded as fictitious and illuſory. By this means, the title to the county of Thoulouſe came to be diſputed between the male and female heirs; and the one or the other, as opportunities favoured them, had obtained poſſeſſion. Alfonſo, the ſon of Raymond, was the reigning ſovereign; and on Henry's reviving his wife's claim, this prince had recourſe for protection to the King of France, who was ſo much concerned in policy to prevent the farther aggrandizement of the Engliſh monarch. Lewis himſelf, when married to Eleanor, had aſſerted the juſtice of her claim, and had demanded poſſeſſion of Thoulouſe; but his ſentiments changing with his intereſt, he now determined to defend, by his power and authority, the title of Alfonſo. Henry found, that it would be requiſite to ſupport his pretenſions againſt potent antagoniſts; and that nothing but a great army could maintain a claim, which he had in vain aſſerted by arguments and manifeſtos.

AN army, compoſed of feudal vaſſals, was commonly very intractable and undiſciplined, both becauſe of the independent ſpirit of the perſons who ſerved in it, and becauſe the commands were not given either by the choice of the ſovereign or from the military capacity and experience of the officers. Each baron conducted his own vaſſals: His rank was greater or leſs, proportioned to the extent of his property: Even the ſupreme command under the prince was often attached to birth: And as the military vaſſals were obliged to ſerve only forty days at their own charge; tho', if the expedition was diſtant, they were put to great expence; [Page 269] the prince reaped very little benefit from their attendance. Henry, ſenſible of theſe inconveniencies, levied upon his vaſſals in Normandy and other provinces, which were remote from Thoulouſe, a ſum of money in lieu of their ſervice; and this commutation, by reaſon of the great diſtance, was ſtill more advantageous for his Engliſh vaſſals. He impoſed, therefore, a ſcutage of three pounds on each knight's fee, a condition, to which, tho' it was unuſual, and the firſt perhaps to be met with in hiſtory*, the military tenants willingly ſubmitted; and with this money, he levied an army which was more under his command, and whoſe ſervice was more durable and conſtant. Aſſiſted by Berenger, count of Barcelona, and Trincaval, count of Niſmes, whom he had gained over to his party, he invaded the county of Thoulouſe; and after taking Verdun, Chaſtelnau, and other places, he beſieged the capital of the province, and was likely to prevail in the enterprize; when Lewis, advancing before the arrival of his main body, threw himſelf into the place with a ſmall reinforcement. Henry was urged by ſome of his miniſters to proſecute the ſiege, to take Lewis priſoner, and to impoſe his own terms in the pacification; but he either thought it ſo much his intereſt to maintain the feudal principles, by which his foreign dominions were ſecured, or bore ſo much reſpect to his ſuperior lord, that he declared he would not attack a place defended by him in perſon; and he immediately raiſed the ſiege. He marched into Normandy to protect that province againſt an incurſion, which the count of Dreux, inſtigated by King Lewis, his brother, had made upon it. War was now openly carried on between the two monarchs, but produced no memorable event, and was ſtopped by a ceſſation of arms, and afterwards by a peace, which was not, however, attended with any confidence or good correſpondence between theſe rival princes. year 1160 The fortreſs of Giſors, being part of the dowry ſtipulated to Margaret of France, had been conſigned by agreement to the knights templars, on condition that it ſhould be delivered into Henry's hands, after the celebration of the nuptials. The King, that he might have a pretence for immediately demanding the place, ordered the marriage to be ſolemnized between the prince and princeſs, tho' both infants; and he engaged the grand-maſter of the Temple, by large preſents, as was generally ſuſpected, to put him in poſſeſſion of Giſors. Lewis reſenting this fraudulent conduct, baniſhed the templars from France, and would have made war upon the King of England, had it not been for the mediation and authority of Pope Alexander III. year 1161 who had been chaced from Rome by the antipope, Victor IV. and reſided at that time in France. That we may form a notion of the authority poſſeſſed by [Page 270] the Roman Pontiff during thoſe ages, it may be proper to remark, that the two Kings had, the year before, met the Pope at the caſtle of Torci on the Loir; and they gave him ſuch marks of reſpect, that both diſmounted from their horſes to receive him, and holding each of them one of the reins of his bridle, walked on foot by his ſide, and conducted him in that ſubmiſſive manner into the caſtle*.

year 1162 HENRY, ſoon after accommodating his differences with Lewis by the Pope's mediation, returned to England; where he commenced an enterprize, which, tho' required by ſound policy, and even conducted in the main with prudence, bred him infinite diſquietudes, involved him in great danger, and was not concluded without ſome loſs and diſhonour.

[Note: Diſpates between the civil and eccleſiastical powers.] THE uſurpations of the clergy, which had at firſt been gradual, were now become ſo rapid, and had mounted to ſuch a height, that the conteſt between the regale and pontificale was really arrived at a criſis in England; and it became neceſſary to determine whether the King or the prieſts, particularly the archbiſhop of Canterbury, ſhould be ſovereign of the kingdom. The aſpiring ſpirit of Henry, which gave inquietude to all his neighbours, was not likely to pay long a tame ſubmiſſion to the encroachments of ſubjects; and as nothing opens men's eyes ſo readily as their intereſt, he was in no danger of falling, in this reſpect, into that abject ſuperſtition, which retained his people in ſubjection. From the commencement of his reign, in the government of his foreign dominions, as well as of England, he had ſhowed a fixed purpoſe to repreſs clerical uſurpations, and to maintain thoſe prerogatives, which had been tranſmitted to him by his predeceſſors. During the ſchiſm of the papacy between Alexander and Victor, he had determined, for ſome time, to remain neuter; and when he was informed, that the archbiſhop of Rouen and biſhop of Mans had, from their own authority, acknowledged Alexander as legitimate Pope, he was ſo enraged, that, tho' he ſpared the archbiſhop on account of his age, he immediately iſſued orders for overthrowing the houſes of the biſhop of Mans and archdeacon of Roüen; and it was not till he had deliberately examined the matter, by thoſe views, which uſually [Page 271] enter into the councils of princes, that he allowed that pontiff to exerciſe authority over any of his dominions. In England, the mild character and advanced years of Theobald, archbiſhop of Canterbury, together with his merits in refuſing to put the crown on the head of Euſtace, ſon of Stephen, prevented Henry, during the lifetime of that primate, from taking any meaſures againſt the multiplied encroachments of the clergy: But after his death, the King reſolved to exert himſelf with more activity*; [Note: June 3.] and that he might be ſecure againſt any oppoſition, he advanced to that dignity Becket, his chancellor, on whoſe compliance,he thought, he could entirely depend.

[Note: Thomas a Becket, archbiſhop of Canterbury.] THOMAS a Becket, the firſt man of Engliſh pedigree, who, ſince the Norman conqueſt, had, during the courſe of a whole century, riſen to any conſiderable ſtation, was born of reputable parents in the city of London; and being endowed both with induſtry and capacity, he eaſly inſinuated himſelf into the favour of archbiſhop Theobald, and obtained from that prelate ſome preferments and offices. By their means, he was enabled to travel for farther improvement to Italy, where he ſtudied the civil and canon law at Bologna; and on his return, he appeared to have made ſuch proficiency in knowledge, that he was promoted by his patron to the archdeaconry of Canterbury, an office of conſiderable truſt and profit. He was afterwards employed with ſucceſs by Theobald in tranſacting buſineſs at Rome; and on Henry's acceſſion, he was recommended to that monarch as worthy of farther preferment§. Henry, who knew that Becket had been inſtrumental in ſupporting that reſolution of the archbiſhop, which had tended ſo much to ſacilitate his own advancement to the throne, was already prepoſſeſſed in his favour; and finding, on farther acquaintance, that his ſpirit and abilities entitled him to any truſt, he ſoon promoted him to the dignity of chancellor, one of the firſt civil offices in the kingdom. The chancellor, in that age, beſides the cuſtody of the great ſeal, had poſſeſſion of all vacant prelacies and abbies; he was the guardian of all ſuch minors and pupils as were the King's tenants; all baronies which eſcheated to the crown were under his adminiſtration; he was entitled to a place in council, even tho' he was not particularly called; and as he exerciſed alſo the office of ſecretary of ſtate, and it belonged to him to counterſign all commiſſions, writs, and letters-patent, he was a kind of prime miniſter, and was concerned in the diſpatch of every buſineſs of importance{inverted †}. After obtaining this high office, Becket, as he advanced in favour, was made provoſt of Beverley, dean of Haſtings, and conſtable of the Tower: He was put in [Page 272] poſſeſſion of the honours of Eye and Berkham, large baronies, that had eſcheated to the crown; and to compleat his grandeur, he was entruſted with the education of prince Henry, the King's eldeſt ſon and heir of the monarchy*. The pomp of his retinue, the ſumptuouſneſs of his furniture, the luxury of his table, the munificence of his preſents, correſponded to theſe great preferments; or rather exceeded any thing, which England had ever before ſeen in any ſubject. His hiſtorian and ſecretary, Fitz-Stephens, mentions, among other particulars, that his apartments were every day in winter covered with clean ſtraw or hay, and in ſummer with green ruſhes or boughs; leſt the gentlemen who paid their court to him, and who could not, by reaſon of their great number, find a place at table, ſhould ſoil their fine cloaths by ſitting on a dirty floor. A great number of knights were retained in his ſervice; the greateſt barons were proud of being received at his table; his houſe was a place of education for the ſons of the chief nobility; and the King himſelf frequently vouchſafed to partake of his entertainments. As his way of life was ſplendid and opulent, his amuſements and occupations were gay, and partook of the cavalier ſpirit, which, as he had only taken deacon's orders, he did not think unbefitting his character. He employed himſelf at leiſure hours in hunting, hawking, gaming, and horſemanſhip; he expoſed his perſon in ſeveral military actions; he carried over, at his own charge, ſeven hundred knights to attend the King in his wars at Tholouſe; in the ſubſequent wars on the frontiers of Normandy, he maintained, during forty days, twelve hundred knights, and four thouſand of their train§; and in an embaſſy to France, with which he was entruſted, he aſtoniſhed that court with the number and magnificence of his retinue.

HENRY, beſides committing all his more important buſineſs to Becket's management, honoured him with his friendſhip and intimacy; and whenever he was diſpoſed to relax himſelf by ſports of any kind, he admitted his chancellor to the party{inverted †}. An inſtance of their familiarity is mentioned by Fitz-Stephens, which, as it ſhows the manners of the age, it may not be improper to relate. One day, as the King and chancellor were riding together in the ſtreets of London, they obſerved a beggar, who was ſhivering with cold. Would it not be very praiſe-worthy, ſaid the King, to give that poor man a warm coat in this ſevere [Page 273] ſeaſon? It would, ſurely, replied the chancellor; and you do well, Sir, in thinking of ſuch good actions: Then he ſhall have one preſently, cried the King: And ſeizing the ſkirt of the chancellor's coat, began to pull it violently. The chancellor defended himſelf for ſome time; and they had both of them like to have tumbled off their horſes in the ſtreet, when Becket, after a vehement ſtruggle, let go his coat; which the King beſtowed on the beggar, who, being ignorant of the quality of the perſons, was not a little ſurpriſed with the preſent*.

BECKET, who, by his complaiſance and good humour, had rendered himſelf agreeable, and by his induſtry and abilities uſeful, to his maſter, appeared to him the fitteſt perſon for ſupplying the vacancy made by the death of Theobald; and as he was well acquainted with the King's intention of retrenching, or rather confining within the antient bounds, all eccleſiaſtical privileges, and ſhowed always a ready diſpoſition to comply with them, Henry, who never expected any reſiſtance from that quarter, immediately iſſued orders for electing him archbiſhop of Canterbury. But this reſolution, which was taken contrary to the opinion of Matilda, and many of the miniſters, turned out very unfortunate in the iſſue; and never prince of ſo great penetration appeared, in the iſſue, to have ſo little underſtood the genius and character of his miniſter.

No ſooner was Becket inſtalled in this high dignity, which rendered him for life the ſecond perſon in the kingdom, with ſome pretenſions of aſpiring to be the firſt, than he totally altered his demeanour and conduct§, and endeavoured to retrieve the character of ſanctity, of which his former buſy and oſtentatious courſe of life might, in the eyes of the people, have naturally bereaved him. Without conſulting the King, he immediately returned into his hands the commiſſion of chancellor{inverted †}; pretending, that he muſt henceforth detach himſelf from ſecular affairs, and be ſolely employed in the exerciſe of his ſacred function; but in reality, that he might break off all connexions with Henry, and appriſe him, that Becket, as primate of England, was now become entirely a new perſonage. He maintained only, in his retinue and attendants, his antient pomp and luſtre, which was uſeful to ſtrike the vulgar: In his own perſon he affected the greateſt auſterity, and moſt rigid mortification, which, he was ſenſible, would have an equal or a greater tendency to the ſame end. He were ſack-cloth next his ſkin, which, by his affected care to conceal it, was neceſſarily the more remarked by all the world*: He changed it ſo ſeldom, that it was filled with dirt [Page 274] and vermin*: His uſual diet was bread; his drink water, which he even rendered farther unpalatable by the mixture of unfavoury herbs: He tore his back with the frequent diſcipline which he inflicted on it: He daily on his knees waſhed, in imitation of our Saviour, the feet of thirteen beggars, whom he afterwards diſmiſſed with preſents: He gained the affections of the monks by his frequent charities to the convents and hoſpitals: Every one who made profeſſion of ſanctity was admitted to his converſation, and returned full of panegyries on the humility, as well as the piety and mortification, of the holy primate: He ſeemed to be perpetually employed in reciting prayers and pious lectures, or in peruſing religious diſcourſes: His aſpect wore the appearance of ſeriouſneſs, and mental recollection, and ſecret devotion: And all men of penetration plainly ſaw, that he was meditating ſome great deſign, and that the ambition and oſtentation of his character had turned itſelf towards a new and more dangerous object.

year [Note: Quarrel between the King and Becket.] BECKET waited not till Henry ſhould commence thoſe projects againſt the eccleſiaſtical power, which, he knew, had been formed by that prince: He was himſelf the aggreſſor; and endeavoured to overawe the King by the intrepidity and boldneſs of his enterprizes. He ſummoned the earl of Clare to ſurrender the barony of Tunbridge, which, ever ſince the conqueſt, had remained in the fami y of that nobleman, but which, as it had formerly belonged to the ſee of Canterbury, the primate pretended his predeceſſors were prohibited by the canons to alienate. The earl of Clare, beſides the luſtre which he derived from the greatneſs of his own birth, and the extent of his poſſeſſions, was allied to all the chief families in the kingdom; his ſiſter, who was a celebrated beauty, had farther extended his credit among the nobility, and was even ſuppoſed to have gained the King's affections; and Becket could not better diſcover, than by attacking ſo powerful an intereſt, his reſolution to maintain with vigour the rights, real or pretended, of his ſee.

WILLIAM de Eynsford, a military tenant of the crown, was patron of a living, which belonged to a manor that held of the archbiſhop of Canterbury; and Becket, without regard to William's right, preſented, on a new and illegal pretext, one Laurence to that living, who was violently expelled by Eynsford. The primate, making himſelf, as was uſual in ſpiritual courts, both judge and party, iſſued out, in a ſummary manner, the ſentence of excommunication againſt Eynsford, who complained to the King, that he, who held in capite of the [Page 275] crown, ſhould, contrary to the practice eſtabliſhed by the Conqueror, and maintained ever ſince by his ſucceſſors, be ſubjected to that, terrible ſentence, without the previous conſent of the ſovereign*. Henry, who had now broke off all perſonal intercourſe with Becket, ſent him, by a meſſenger, his orders to abſolve Eynsford; but received for anſwer, that it belonged not to the King to inform him whom he ſhould abſolve and whom excommunicate: And it was not till after many remonſtrances and menaces, that Becket, tho' with the worſt grace imaginable, was induced to comply with the royal mandate.

HENRY, tho' he found himſelf thus grievouſly miſtaken in the character of the perſon whom he had promoted to the primacy, determined not to deſiſt from his former intention of retrenching clerical uſurpations. He was entirely maſter of his extenſive dominions: The prudence and vigour of his government, attended with perpetual ſucceſs, had raiſed his character above that of any of his predeceſſors: The papacy was weakened by a ſchiſm, which divided all Europe: And he rightly judged, that, if the preſent favourable opportunity were neglected, the crown muſt, from the prevalent ſuperſtition of the people, be in danger of falling into an entire ſubordination under the mitre.

THE union of the civil and eccleſiaſtical powers ſerves extremely, in every civilized government, to the maintenance of peace and order; and prevents thoſe mutual incroachments, which, as there can be no ultimate judge between them, are often attended with the moſt dangerous conſequences. Whether the ſupreme magiſtrate, who unites theſe powers, receive the appellation of prince or prelate, is not material: The ſuperior weight, which temporal intereſts commonly bear in the apprehenſions of men above ſpiritual, renders the civil part of his character moſt prevalent; and in time prevents thoſe groſs impoſtures and bigotted perſecutions, which, in all falſe religions, are the chief foundation of clerical authority. But during the progreſs of eccleſiaſtical uſurpations, the ſtate, by the reſiſtance of the civil magiſtrate, is naturally thrown into convulſions; and it behoves the prince, both for his own intereſt, and for that of the public, to provide in time ſufficient barriers againſt ſo dangerous and inſidious a rival. This precaution had been hitherto much neglected in England, as well as in other catholic countries; and affairs at laſt ſeemed to have come to a dangerous criſis: A ſovereign of the greateſt abilities was now on the throne: A prelate of the moſt inflexible and intrepid character was poſſeſſed of the primacy: The contending powers appeared to be armed with their full force, and it was natural to expect ſome extraordinary event to reſult from their rencounter.

[Page 276] AMONG their other inventions to obtain money, the clergy had inculcated the neceſſity of penance as an atonement for ſin; and having again introduced the practice of paying them large ſums as a commutation, or ſpecies of atonement, for the remiſſion of theſe penance, the ſins of the people, by theſe means, had become a revenue to the prieſts; and the King computed, that, by this invention alone, they levied more money from his ſubjects, than flowed, by all the funds and taxes, into the royal exchequer*. That he might eaſe his ſubjects of ſo heavy and arbitrary an impoſition, Henry required, that a civil officer of his appointment ſhould be preſent in all eccleſiaſtical courts, and ſhould, for the future, give his conſent to every compoſition which was made with ſinners for their ſpir tual offences.

THE eccleſiaſtics, in that age, had renounced all immediate ſubordination to the magiſtrate: They openly pretended to an exemption, in criminal accuſations, from a trial before courts of juſtice; and were gradually introducing a like exemption in civil cauſes: Spiritual penalties alone could be inflicted on their offences: And as the clergy had extremely multiplied in England, and many of them were conſequently of very low characters, crimes of the deepeſt dye, murders, robberies, adulteries, rapes, were daily committed with impunity by the eccleſiaſtics. It had been found, for inſtance, by enquiry, that no leſs than an hundred murders had, ſince the King's acceſſion, been perpetrated by men of that profeſſion, who had never been called to account for theſe offences; and holy orders were become a full protection for all enormities. A clerk in Worceſterſhire, having debauched a gentleman's daughter, had, at this time, proceeded to murder the father; and the general indignation againſt this crime moved the King to attempt the remedy of an abuſe which was become ſo palpable, and to require that the clerk ſhould be delivered up, and receive condign puniſhment from the magiſtrate. Becket inſiſted on the privileges of the church; confined the criminal to the biſhop's priſon, leſt he ſhould be ſeized by the King's officers; maintained that no greater puniſhment could be inflicted on him than degradation: And when the King demanded, that, immediately after he was degraded, he ſhould be tried by the civil power, the primate aſſerted, that it was iniquitous to try a man twice upon the ſame accuſation, and for the ſame crime.

HENRY, laying hold of ſo favourable a cauſe, reſolved to puſh the clergy with regard to all their privileges, which they had raiſed to an enormous height, and [Page 277] to determine at once thoſe controverſies, which daily multiplied, between the civil and eccleſiaſtical juriſdictions. He ſummoned an aſſembly of all the prelates of England; and he put to them this conciſe and deciſive queſtion, Whether or not they were willing to ſubmit to the antient laws and cuſtoms of the kingdom? The biſhops unanimouſly replied, that they were willing, ſaving their own order *: A device by which they thought to elude the preſent urgency of the King's demand, and yet reſerve to themſelves, on a favourable opportunity, the power of reſuming all their paſt pretenſions. The King was ſenſible of the artifice, and was provoked to the higheſt indignation. He left the aſſembly, with viſible marks of his diſpleaſure: He required the primate inſtantly to ſurrender the honours and caſtles of Eye and Berkham: The biſhops were terrified, and expected ſtill farther effects of his reſentment. Becket alone was inflexible; and nothing but the interpoſition of the Pope's legate, Philip, abbot of Eleemoſina, who dreaded a breach with ſo powerful a prince at ſo unſeaſonable a juncture, could have prevailed on him to retract the ſaving clauſe, and give a general and abſolute promiſe of obſerving the antient cuſtoms.

BUT Henry was not content with a declaration in theſe general terms: He reſolved, ere it was too late, to define expreſsly thoſe cuſtoms, with which he required compliance, and to put a ſtop to clerical uſurpations, before they were fully conſolidated, and could plead antiquity, as they already did a ſacred authority, in their favour. The claims of the church were open and viſible. After a gradual and inſenſible progreſs thro' many centuries, the maſk had at laſt been taken off, and ſeveral eccleſiaſtical councils, by their canons, which were pretended to be irrevocable and infallible, had poſitively defined thoſe privileges and immunities, which gave ſuch general offence, and appeared ſo dangerous, to the civil magiſtrate. Henry therefore deemed it neceſſary to define with the ſame preciſion the limits of the civil power; to oppoſe his legal cuſtoms to their divine ordinances; to determine the exact boundaries of the rival juriſdictions; and for this purpoſe, he ſummoned a general council of the nobility and prelates at Clarendon, to whom he ſubmitted this great and important queſtion. year 1164 [Note: 25th January.]

[Note: Conſtitutions of Clarendon.] THE barons were all gained to the King's party, either by the reaſons which he urged, or by his ſuperior authority: The biſhops were overawed by the general combination againſt them: And the following laws, commonly called the Conſtitutions of Clarendon, were voted without oppoſition by this aſſembly. It was enacted, that all ſuits concerning the advowſon and preſentation of churches [Page 278] ſhould be determined in the civil courts: That the churches, belonging to the King's fee, ſhould not be granted in perpetuity without his conſent: That clerks, accuſed of any crime, ſhould be tried in the civil courts: That no perſon, particularly no clergyman of any rank, ſhould depart the kingdom without the King's licence: That excommunicated perſons ſhould not be bound to give ſecurity for continuing in their preſent place of abode: That laics ſhould not be accuſed in ſpiritual courts, except by legal and reputable promoters and witneſſes: That no chief tenant of the crown ſhould be excommunicated, nor his lands be put under an interdict, except with the King's conſent: That all appeals in ſpiritual cauſes ſhould be carried from the archdeacon to the biſhop, from the biſhop to the primate, from him to the King; and ſhould be carried no farther without the King's conſent: That if any law-ſuit ariſe between a layman and a clergyman concerning a tenement, and it be diſputed whether the land be a lay or an eccleſiaſtical fee, it ſhould firſt be determined by the verdict of twelve lawful men to what claſs it belonged, and if it be found to be a lay-fee, the cauſe ſhould finally be determined in the civil courts: That no inhabitant in demeſne, ſhould be excommunicated for non-appearance in a ſpiritual court, till the chief officer of the place, where he reſides, be conſulted, that he may compel him by the civil authority to give ſatisfaction to the church: That the archbiſhops, biſhops, and other ſpiritual dignitaries ſhould be regarded as barons of the realm; ſhould poſſeſs the privileges and be ſubjected to the burthens belonging to that rank; and ſhould be bound to attend the King in his great councils, and aſſiſt at all trials, till the ſentence, either of death of loſs of members, be given againſt the criminal: That the revenue of the vacant ſees ſhould belong to the King; the chapter, or ſuch of them as he ſhall ſummon, ſhould ſit in the King's chapel till they make the new election with his conſent, and that the biſhop-elect ſhould do homage to the crown: That if any baron or tenant in capite ſhall refuſe to ſubmit to the ſpiritual courts, the King ſhould employ his authority in obliging him to make ſuch ſubmiſſions; if any of them throw off his allegiance to the King, the prelates ſhould with their cenſures aſſiſt the King in reducing him: That goods, forfeited to the King, ſhould not be protected in churches or church-yards: That the clergy ſhould no more pretend to the right of enforcing payment of debts contracted by oath or promiſe; but ſhould leave theſe law-ſuits, as well as others, to the determination of the civil courts: And that the ſons of villains ſhould not be ordained clerks, without the conſent of their lord*.

[Page 279] THESE articles, to the number of ſixteen, were calculated to prevent the principal abuſes, which had prevailed in eccleſiaſtical affairs, and to put an effectual ſtop to the uſurpations of the church, which, gradually ſtealing on, had threatened the total deſtruction of the civil power. Henry, therefore, by reducing theſe cuſtoms to writing and collecting them in a body, endeavoured to prevent all future diſpute with regard to them; and by paſſing ſo many eccleſiaſtical ordinances in a national and civil aſſembly, he fully eſtabliſhed the ſuperiority of the legiſlature above all papal decrees or ſpiritual canons, and gained a ſignal victory over the eccleſiaſtics. But as he knew, that the biſhops, tho' overawed by the preſent combination of the crown and the barons, would take the firſt favourable opportunity of denying the authority, which had enacted theſe conſtitutions; he reſolved, that they ſhould all ſet their ſeal to them, and give a promiſe to obſerve them. None of the prelates dared to oppoſe his will; except Becker, who, tho' urged by the earls of Cornwal and Leiceſter, the barons of principal authority in the kingdom, obſtinately with held his conſent. At laſt, Richard de Haſtings, grand prior of the templars in England, threw himſelf on his knees before him; and with many tears, entreated him, if he paid any regard, either to his own ſafety or that of the church, not to provoke, by a fruitleſs oppoſition, the indignation of a great monarch, who was reſolutely bent on his purpoſe, and who was determined to take full revenge on every one, who ſhould dare to oppoſe him*; Becket, finding himſelf deſerted by all the world, and even by his own brethren, in this cauſe, was at laſt obliged to comply; and he ſet his ſeal to the conſtitutions; promiſed, legally, with good faith, and without fraud or reſerve , to obſerve them; and even took an oath to that purpoſe. The King, thinking that he had now finally prevailed in this great enterprize, ſent the conſtitutions to Pope Alexander, who then reſided in France, and required his ratification of them: But the pontiff, who plainly ſaw, that theſe laws were calculated to eſtabliſh the independancy of England on the papacy, and of the royal power on the clergy, condemned them in the ſtrongeſt terms; abrogated, annulled, and rejected them. There were only ſix articles, the leaſt important, which, for the ſake of peace, he was willing to ratify.

BECKET, when he obſerved, that he might hope for ſupport in an oppoſition, expreſſed the deepeſt ſorrow for his conceſſions; and endeavoured to engage all the other biſhops in a confederacy to adhere to their common rights, and to the eccleſiaſtical privileges, in which he repreſented the intereſt and honour of God to be ſo deeply concerned. He redoubled his auſterities in order to puniſh himſelf [Page 280] for his criminal compliance*: He proportioned his diſcipline to the enormity of his ſuppoſed offence: And he refuſed to exerciſe any part of his archiepiſcopal function, till he ſhould receive abſolution fr m the Pope, which was readily granted him. Henry, informed of his preſent diſpoſitions, reſolved to take vengeance for this refractory behaviour; and he attempted to cruſh him, by means of that very power which Becket made ſuch a merit in ſupporting. He applied to the Pope for the commiſſion of legate in his dominions; but Alexander, as politic as he, tho' he granted him the commiſſion, annexed a clauſe, that it ſhould not empower him to execute any act in prejudice of the archbiſhop of Canterbury: And the King, finding how fruitleſs ſuch an authority would prove, ſent back the commiſſion by the ſame meſſengers who brought it.

THE primate, however, who found himſelf ſtill expoſed to the King's indignation, endeavoured twice to eſcape ſecretly from the kingdom; but was as often detained by contrary winds§: And Henry haſtened to make him feel the effects of an obſtinacy, which he deemed ſo criminal. He inſtigated John, mariſchal of the exchequer, to ſue Becket, in the archiepiſcopal-court for ſome lands, part of the manor of Pageham; and to appeal from thence to the King's court for juſtice{inverted †}. On the day appointed for trying the cauſe, the primate ſent four knights, to repreſent certain irregularities in John's appeal; and at the ſame time to excuſe himſelf, on account of ſickneſs, for not appearing perſonally that day in the court. This ſlight offence (if it even deſerves that name) was repreſented as a grievous contempt; the four knights were menaced, and with difficulty eſcaped being ſent to priſon, as offering falſhoods to the court*; and Henry, being determined to perſecute Becket to the utmoſt, ſummoned at Northampton a great council, whom he propoſed to make the inſtruments of his vengeance againſt this inflexible prelate.

THE King had raiſed Becket from a low ſtation to the higheſt offices, had honoured him with his countenance and friendſhip, had truſted to his aſſiſtance in forwarding his favourite project againſt the clergy; and when he found him become of a ſudden his moſt rigid opponent, while every one beſide complied with his will, rage at the diſappointment, and indignation againſt ſuch ſignal ingratitude, tranſported him beyond all bounds of moderation; and there ſeems to have entered more of paſſion than of juſtice or even of policy, in this violent [Page 281] proſecution*. The barons, however, in the great council voted whatever ſentence he was pleaſed to dictate to them; and the biſhops themſelves, who undoubtedly bore a ſecret favour to Becket, and regarded him as the martyr of their privileges, concurred with the reſt, in the deſign of oppreſſing their primate. In vain did Becket urge, that his court was proceeding with the utmoſt regularity and juſtice in trying the mareſchal's cauſe, which, however, he ſaid, would appear, from the ſheriff's teſtimony, to be entirely unjuſt and iniquitous: That he himſelf had diſcovered no contempt of the King's court; but on the contrary, by ſending four knights to excuſe his abſence, had virtually acknowledged its authority: That he alſo, in conſequence of the King's ſummons, perſonally appeared at preſent in the great council, ready to juſtify his cauſe againſt the mareſchal, and to ſubmit his conduct to their enquiry and juriſdiction: And that even ſhould he be found to have been guilty of non-appearance, the laws had affixed a very ſlight penalty to that offence; and that, as he was an inhabitant of Kent, where his archiepiſcopal palace was ſeated, he was by law entitled to ſome greater indulgence than uſual in the rate of his fine. He was condemned, notwithſtanding theſe pleas, as guilty of a contempt of the King's court, and as wanting in the ſealty which he had ſworn to his ſovereign; all his goods and chattels were confiſcated; and that this triumph over the church might be carried to the utmoſt, Henry, Biſhop of Wincheſter, the prelate who had been ſo powerful in the former reign, was, notwithſtanding his remonſtrances, obliged, by order of the court, to pronounce the ſentence againſt him. The primate ſubmitted to the decree; and all the prelates, except Gilbert, biſhop of London, who paid court to the King by this ſingularity, became ſureties for him§. It is remarkable, that ſeveral Norman barons voted in this council; and we may conclude, with ſome probability, that a like practice had prevailed in many of the great councils ſummoned ſince the conqueſt. For the contemporary hiſtorian, who has given us a full account of theſe tranſactions, does not mention this circumſtance as any wiſe ſingular{inverted †}; and Becket, in all his ſubſequent remonſtrances with regard to the ſevere treatment, which he had met with, never founds any objection on an irregularity, which to us appears very palpable and flagrant. So little preciſion was there at that time in the government and conſtitution!

THE King was not content with this ſentence, however violent and oppreſſive. Next day, he demanded of Becket the ſum of three hundred pounds, which the primate had levied from the honours of Eye and Berkham, while in his poſſeſſion. [Page 282] Becket, after premiſing that he was not obliged to anſwer to this ſuit, becauſe it was not contained in his ſummons; after remarking, that he had expended more than that ſum in the repairs of theſe caſtles and of the royal palace at London; expreſſed however his reſolution not to allow money to be any ground of quarrel between him and his ſovereign: He agreed to pay the ſum; and immediately gave ſureties for it*. In the ſubſequent meeting, the King demanded five hundred marks, which, he affirmed, he had lent Becket during the war at Tholouſe; and another ſum to the ſame amount, for which that prince had been ſurety for him to a Jew. Immediately after theſe two claims, he ſtarted a third of ſtill greater importance: He required him to give in the account of his adminiſtration while chancellor, and to pay the ballance due from the revenues of all the prelacies, abbies, and baronies, which had, during that time, been ſubjected to his management. Becket obſerved, that as this demand was totally unexpected, he had not come prepared to anſwer it; but he required a delay, and promiſed in that caſe to give ſatisfaction. The King inſiſted upon ſureties; and Becket deſired leave to conſult with his fuffragans in a caſe of ſuch importance.

IT is apparent, from the known character of Henry, and from the uſual vigilance of his government, that when he promoted Becket to the ſee of Canterbury, he was, on good grounds, well pleaſed with his adminiſtration in the former high office, with which he had entruſted him; and that, even if that prelate had diſſipated money beyond the income of his place, the King was ſatisfied, that his expences were not blameable, and had in the main been calculated for his ſervice§. Two years had ſince elapſed; no demands had during that time been made upon him; it was not till the quarrel aroſe concerning eccleſiaſtical privileges, that the claim was ſtarted, and the primate was, of a ſudden, required to produce accounts of ſuch intricacy and extent before a tribunal, which had ſhown a determined reſolution to ruin and oppreſs him. To find ſureties, that he ſhould anſwer ſo boundleſs and uncertain a claim, which, in the King's eſtimation, amounted to 44,000 marks{inverted †}, was impracticable; and Becket's ſuffragans were extremely at a loſs what council to give him, in ſuch a critical emergency. By the advice of the biſhop of Wincheſter he offered two thouſand marks as a general ſatisfaction for all demands: But this offer was rejected by the King*. Some prelates counſelled him to reſign his ſee, on condition of receiving an acquital: Others were of opinion, that he ought to ſubmit himſelf entirely to the [Page 283] King's mercy*: But the primate, thus puſhed to the utmoſt, had too much courage to ſink under oppreſſion: He determined to brave all his enemies, to truſt to the ſacredneſs of his character for protection, to involve his cauſe with that of God and religion, and to ſtand the utmoſt efforts of royal indignation.

AFTER a few days, ſpent in deliberation, Becket went to church, and ſaid maſs, where he had previouſly ordered, that the introit to the communion ſervice ſhould begin with theſe words, Princes ſat and ſpake againſt me; the paſſage appointed for the martyrdom of St. Stephen, whom the primate thereby tacitly pretended to reſemble in his ſufferings for the ſake of righteouſneſs. He went thence to court arrayed in his ſacred veſtments; and as ſoon as he arrived within the palace gates, he took the croſs into his own hands, bore it aloft as his protection, and marched in that poſture into the royal apartments. The King, who was in an inner room, was aſtoniſhed at this parade, by which the primate ſeemed to menace him and his court with the ſentence of excommunication; and he ſent ſome of the prelates to remonſtrate with him on account of ſuch audacious behaviour. Theſe prelates complained to him, that, by ſubſcribing, himſelf, to the conſtitutions of Clarendon, he had ſeduced them to imitate his example; and that now, when it was too late, he pretended to ſhake off all ſubordination to the civil power, and appeared deſirous of involving them in the guilt, which muſt attend any violation of thoſe laws, eſtabliſhed by their conſent and ratified by their ſubſcriptions. Becket replied, that he had indeed ſubſcribed the conſtitutions of Clarendon, legally, with good faith and without fraud or reſerve, but in theſe words was virtually implied a ſalvo for the rights of their order, which, being connected with the cauſe of God and his church, could never be relinquiſhed by their oaths and engagements: That if he and they had erred, in reſigning the eccleſiaſtical privileges, the beſt atonement they could now make was to retract their conſent, which in ſuch a caſe could never be obligatory, and to follow the Pope's authority, who had ſolemnly abrogated the conſtitutions of Clarendon, and had abſolved them from all oaths, which they had taken to obſerve them: That a determined reſolution was evidently embraced to oppreſs the church; the ſtorm had firſt broke upon him; for a ſlight offence, and which too was even falſely imputed to him, he had been tyrannically condemned to a grievous penalty; a new and unheard of claim was ſince ſtarted, in which he could expect no juſtice; and he plainly ſaw that he was the deſtined victim, who, by his ruin, muſt prepare the way for the abrogation of all ſpiritual immunities: That he [Page 284] ſtrictly inhibited them, who were his ſuffragans, to aſſiſt at any ſuch trial, or give their ſanction to any ſentence againſt him; he put himſelf and his ſee under the protection of the ſupreme pontiff; and appealed to him againſt any penalty, which his iniquitous judges might think proper to inflict upon him: And that, however terrible the indignation of ſo great a monarch as Henry, his ſword could only kill the body; while that of the church, entruſted into the hands of the primate, could kill the ſoul, and throw the diſobedient into infinite and eternal predition*.

APPEALS to the Pope, even in eccleſiaſtical cauſes, had been aboliſhed by the conſtitutions of Clarendon, and were become criminal by law; but an appeal in a civil cauſe, ſuch as that of the King's demand upon Becket, was a practice altogether new and unprecedented; tended directly to the ſubverſion of the government; and could receive no colour of excuſe, except from the determined reſolution, which was but too apparent, in the King and the great council, to effectuate, without juſtice, but under colour of law, the total ruin of the inflexible primate. The King, having now obtained ſo much a better pretext for his violence, would probably have puſhed this affair to the utmoſt extremity againſt him; but Becket gave him no leiſure to conduct that proſecution. [Note: Puniſhment of Becket.] He refuſed ſo much as to hear the ſentence, which the barons, ſitting apart from the biſhops, and joined to ſome ſheriffs and barons of the ſecond rank, had given upon the King's claim: He departed from the palace; aſked Henry's immediate permiſſion to leave Northampton; and upon meeting with a refuſal, he withdrew ſecretly; wandered about in diſguiſe for ſome time; and at laſt took ſhipping and arrived ſafely at Gravelines.

THE violent and unjuſt proſecution of Becket had a natural tendency to turn the public favour on his ſide, and to make men forget his former ingratitude towards the King, and his departure from all oaths and engagements, as well as the enormity of thoſe eccleſiaſtical privileges, of which he affected to be tge champion. There were many other reaſons, which procured him countenance and protection in foreign countries. Philip, earl of Flanders, and Lewis, King of France§, jealous of the riſing greatneſs of Henry, were well pleaſed to give him [Page 285] diſturbance in his government; and forgeting that this was the common cauſe of princes, they affected to pity extremely the condition of the exiled primate; and the latter even honoured him with a viſit at Soiſſons, in which city he had invited him to fix his retreat*. The pope, whoſe intereſts were more immediately concerned in ſupporting him, gave a bad reception to a magnificent embaſſy, which Henry ſent to accuſe him; while he put the greateſt marks of diſtinction on Becket himſelf, who had come to Sens, in order to juſtify his cauſe before the ſovereign pontiff. The King, in revenge, ſequeſtered the revenues of Canterbury; and by a conduct, which might be eſteemed arbitrary had there been at that time any regular check on royal authority, he baniſhed all the primate's relations and domeſtics, to the number of four hundred, whom he obliged to ſwear, before their departure, that they would inſtantly join their patron. But this policy, by which Henry endeavoured to reduce Becket the ſooner to neceſſities, loſt its effect: The Pope, as ſoon as they arrived beyond ſea, abſolved them from their oath, and diſtributed them among the convents in France and Flanders: A reſidence was aſſigned to Becket himſelf in the convent of Pontigny§, where he lived for ſome years in great magnificence, partly from a penſion granted him on the revenues of that abbey, partly from remittances made him by the French monarch.

year 1165 THE more to ingratiate himſelf with Pope Alexander, Becket reſigned into his hands the ſee of Canterbury, to which, he affirmed, he had been uncanonically elected, by the authority of the royal mandate{inverted †}; and Alexander in his turn, beſides inveſting him anew with that dignity, pretended to abrogate by a bull the ſentence which the great council of England had paſſed againſt him. Henry, after attempting in vain to procure a conference with the Pope, who departed ſoon after for Rome, whither the proſperous condition of his affairs now invited him; made proviſions againſt the conſequences of that breach, which impended between his kingdom and the apoſtolic ſee. He iſſued orders to his juſticiaries, inhibiting, under ſevere penalties, all appeals to the Pope or archbiſhop; forbidding any one to receive any mandates from them, or apply in any caſe to their authority; declaring it treaſonable to bring from either of them an interdict upon the kingdom, and puniſhable, in ſecular clergymen, by the loſs of their eyes and by caſtration, in regulars by amputation of their feet, and in laics with death; and menacing with ſequeſtration and baniſhment the perſons themſelves, as well as [Page 286] their kindred, who ſhould pay obedience to any ſuch interdict: And he farther obliged all his ſubjects to ſwear to the obſervance of theſe orders*. Theſe were edicts of the utmoſt importance, affected the lives and properties of all the ſubjects, and even changed, for the time, the national religion, by breaking off all communication with Rome: Yet were they enacted by the ſole authority of the King, and were derived entirely from his will and pleaſure.

THE ſpiritual powers, which, in the primitive church, were, in a great meaſure, dependant on the civil, had by a gradual progreſs reached an equality and independance; and tho' the limits of the two juriſdictions were difficult to aſcertain or define, it was not impoſſible, but, by moderation on both ſides, government might ſtill have been conducted, in that imperfect and irregular manner which attends all human inſtitutions. But as the ignorance of the age encouraged the eccleſiaſtics daily to extend their privileges, and even to advance maxims totally incompatible with civil government; Henry had thought it high time to put an end to their pretenſions, and formally, in a public council, to fix thoſe powers, which belonged to the magiſtrate, and which he was for the future determined to maintain. In this attempt, he was led to recall cuſtoms, which, tho' antient, were beginning to be aboliſhed by a contrary practice, and which were ſtill more ſtrongly oppoſed by the prevailing opinions and ſentiments of the age. Principle, therefore, ſtood on the one ſide; power on the other; and if the Engliſh had been actuated by conſcience, more than preſent intereſt, the controverſy muſt ſoon, by the general defection of Henry's ſubjects, have been decided againſt him. Becket, in order to forward this event, filled all places with exclamations againſt the violence which he had ſuffered. He compared himſelf to Chriſt, who had been condemned by a lay tribunal§, and who was crucified anew in the preſent oppreſſions under which his church laboured: He took it for granted, as a point inconteſtible, that his cauſe was the cauſe of God{inverted †}: He aſſumed the character of champion for the patrimony of the Divinity: He pretended to be the ſpiritual father of the King and all the people of England*: He even told Henry, that kings reign ſolely by the authority of the church; and tho' he had thus torne off the veil more openly on the one ſide, than that prince had on the other, he ſeemed ſtill, from the general favour borne him by [Page 287] the eccleſiaſtics, to have all the advantage in the argument*. The King, that he might employ the weapons of temporal power remaining in his hands, ſuſpended the payment of Peter's pence; he made advances towards an alliance with the Emperor, Frederic Barbaroſſa, who was at that time engaged in violent wars with Pope Alexander; he di covered ſome intentions of acknowledging Paſcal III. the preſent anti-pope, who was protected by that Emperor; and by theſe expedients he endeavoured to terrify the enterpriſing, tho' prudent pontiff, from proceeding to extremities againſt him.

year 1166 BUT the violence of Becket, ſtill more than the nature of the controverſy, kept affairs from remaining long in ſuſpenſe between the parties. That prelate, inſtigated by revenge, and animated by the preſent glory attending his ſituation, puſhed matters to a deciſion, and iſſued out a cenſure, excommunicating the King's chief miniſters by name, and comprehending in general all thoſe who favoured or obeyed the conſtitutions of Clarendon§: Theſe conſtitutions he abrogated and annulled; he abſolved every one from the oaths, which they had taken to obſerve them; and he ſuſpended the ſpiritual thunder over Henry himſelf, only that the prince might avoid the blow by a timely repentance{inverted †}.

THE ſituation of Henry was ſo unhappy, that he could employ no expedient for ſaving his miniſters from this terrible cenſure, but by appealing to the Pope himſelf, and having recourſe to a tribunal, whoſe authority he had himſelf attempted to abridge in this very article of appeals, and which, he knew, was ſo deeply engaged on the ſide of his adverſary*. But even this expedient was not likely to be long effectual. Becket had obtained from the Pope a legatine commiſſion over England; and in virtue of that authority, which admitted of no appeal, he ſummoned the biſhops of London, Saliſbury, and others, to attend him, and ordered, under pain of excommunication, the eccleſiaſtics, ſequeſtered on his account, to be reſtored in two months to all their benefices. But John de Oxford, the King's agent at Rome, had the addreſs to procure orders for ſuſpending this ſentence§; and he gave the pontiff ſuch hopes of a ſpeedy reconcilement between the King and Becket, that two legates, William de Pavie and Otho, were ſent to Normandy, where the King then reſided, and endeavoured [Page 288] to find expedients for that purpoſe*. But the pretenſions of the parties were, as yet, too oppoſite to admit of an accommodation: The King required, that all the conſtitutions of Clarendon ſhould be ratified: Becket, that, previouſly to any agreement, he and his adherents ſhould be reſtored to their poſſeſſions: And as the legates had no power to pronounce a definitive ſentence on either ſide, the negotiation ſoon after came to nothing. The cardinal de Pavie alſo, being much attached to Henry's intereſts, took care to protract the negotiation; to mitigate the Pope, by the accounts which he ſent of that prince's conduct; and to procure him every poſſible indulgence from the ſee of Rome. It was by his credit, that the King obtained about this time a diſpenſation for the marriage of his third ſon, Geoffrey, with the heireſs of Brittany; a conceſſion, which, conſidering Henry's demerits towards the church, gave great ſcandal both to Becket, and to his patron, the King of France.

year 1167 THE intricacies of the feudal law had, in that age, rendered the boundaries of power between the prince and his vaſſals, and between one prince and another, as precarious as thoſe between the crown and the mitre; and all wars took their origin from diſputes, which, had there been any tribunal poſſeſſed of power to enforce their decrees, ought only to have been decided before a court of judicature. Henry, in proſecution of ſome controverſies, in which he was involved with the count of Auvergne, a vaſſal of the dutchy of Guienne, had invaded the territories of that count; who had recourſe to the King of France, his ſuperior lord, for protection, and thereby kindled a war between the two monarchs. But this war was, as uſual, no leſs feeble in its operations, than it was frivolous in its cauſe and object; and after occaſioning ſome depredations on each others territories§, and ſome inſurrections among the barons of Poictou and Guienne, was terminated in a peace; the terms of which were rather diſadvantageous to Henry, and prove, that that prince had, by reaſon of his conteſts with the church, loſt the ſuperiority, which he had hitherto maintained over the crown of France: An additional motive to him for accommodating thoſe differences.

THE Pope and the King began to perceive, that, in the preſent ſituation of affairs, nei [...]her of them could expect a final and deciſive victory over the other, and that they had more to fear than hope from the duration of the controverſy. Tho' the vigour of Henry's government had confirmed his authority in all his dominions, his throne might be ſhaken by a ſentence of excommunication; and [Page 289] if England itſelf could, by its ſituation, be more eaſily guarded againſt the contagion of ſuperſtitious prejudices, his French provinces at leaſt, whoſe communication was open with the neighbouring ſtates, would be much expoſed, on that account, to ſome great revolution or convulſion*. He could not, therefore, reaſonably imagine, that the Pope, while he retained ſuch a check upon him, would formally recognize the conſtitutions of Clarendon, which both put an end to papal pretenſions in England, and would give an example to other ſtates of aſſerting a like independency. Pope Alexander, on the other hand, being ſtill engaged in dangerous wars with the Emperor Frederic, might juſtly apprehend, that Henry, rather than relinquiſh claims of ſuch importance, would join the party of his enemy; and as the trials hitherto made of the ſpiritual weapons by Becket had not ſucceeded to his expectation, and every thing had remained quiet in all the King's dominions, nothing ſeemed impoſſible to the capacity and vigilance of ſo great a monarch. The diſpoſition of minds on both ſides, reſulting from theſe circumſtances, produced frequent attempts towards an accommodation; but as both parties knew, that the eſſential articles of the diſpute could not then be terminated, they entertained a perpetual jealouſy of each other, and were anxious not to loſe the leaſt advantage in the negotiation§. year 1168 The nuncios, Gratian and Vivian, having received a commiſſion to endeavour a reconcilement, met with the King at Damfront in Normandy{inverted †}; and after all differences ſeemed to be adjuſted, the King offered to ſign the treaty, with a ſalvo to his royal dignity*; which gave ſuch umbrage to Becket, that the negotiation, in the end, became fruitleſs, and the excommunications were renewed againſt the King's miniſters. Another negotiation was conducted at Montmirail, in the preſence of the King of France and the French prelates; where Becket, imitating Henry's example, offered to make his ſubmiſſions, with a ſalvo of the honour of God, and the liberties of the church; which, for a like reaſon, was extremely offenſive to the King, and rendered the treaty abortive. year 1169 A third conference, under the ſame mediation, was broke off, by Becket's inſiſting on the like reſerve in his ſubmiſſions; and even in a fourth treaty, when all the terms were adjuſted, and when the primate expected to be introduced to the King, and to receive the kiſs of peace, which it was uſual for princes to grant in thoſe times, and which was regarded as a ſure pledge of forgiveneſs, Henry refuſed him that honour; upon pretence, that, during his anger, he had made a raſh vow never [Page 290] to give the prelate ſuch a teſtimony of friendſhip. This formality ſerved, among ſuch jealous ſpirits, to prevent the concluſion of the treaty; and tho' the difficulty was attempted to be overcome, by a diſpenſation which the Pope granted Henry from his raſh vow*, that prince could not be prevailed on to depart from the reſolution which he had taken.

IN one of theſe conferences, at which the French King was preſent, Henry ſaid to that monarch, ‘"There have been many kings of England, ſome of greater, ſome of leſs authority than myſelf: There have alſo been many archbiſhops of Canterbury, holy and good men, and entitled to every kind of reſpect: Let Becket but act towards me with the ſame ſubmiſſion, which the greateſt of his predeceſſors have paid to the leaſt of mine, and there ſhall be no controverſy between us."’ Lewis was ſo ſtruck with this ſtate of the caſe, and with an offer which Henry made to ſubmit his cauſe to the French clergy, that he could not forbear condemning the primate, and withdrawing his friendſhip from him during ſome time: But their common animoſity againſt Henry ſoon produced a renewal of their former good correſpondence.

year 1170 [Note: 22d July.] ALL difficulties were at laſt adjuſted between the parties; and the King allowed Becket to return, on conditions which may be eſteemed both honourable and advantageous to that prelate. [Note: Compromiſe with Becket.] He was not required to give up any of the rights of the church, or reſign any of thoſe pretenſions, which had been the original ground of the controverſy. It was agreed, that all theſe queſtions ſhould be buried in oblivion; but that Becket and his adherents ſhould, without making farther ſubmiſſions, be reſtored to all their livings, and that even the poſſeſſors of ſuch benefices as depended on the ſee of Canterbury, and had been filled during the primate's abſence, ſhould be expelled, and Becket have liberty to ſupply the vacancies§. In return for conceſſions, which entrenched ſo deeply on the honour and dignity of the crown, Henry reaped only the advantage of ſeeing his miniſters abſolved from the ſentence of excommunication denounced againſt them, and of preventing the interdict, which, if theſe hard conditions had not been complied with, was ready to be laid on all his dominions{inverted †}. It was eaſy to ſee how much he dreaded that event, when a prince of ſo high a ſpirit could ſubmit to terms ſo diſhonourable, in order to prevent it.

[Page 291] BUT the King attained not even that temporary tranquillity, which he had hoped to reap from this expedient. During the heat of his quarrel with Becket, while he was every day expecting an interdict to be laid on his dominions, and even a ſentence of excommunication to be denounced againſt his perſon, he had thought it prudent to have his ſon, prince Henry, aſſociated with him in the royalty, and to make him be crowned King, by the hands of Roger archbiſhop of York*. By this precaution, he both enſured the ſucceſſion of that prince, which, conſidering the many paſt irregularities in that point, could not but be eſteemed ſomewhat precarious; and he preſerved at leaſt his family on the throne, if the ſentence of excommunication ſhould have the effect which he dreaded, and ſhould make his ſubjects renounce their allegiance to him. Tho' this deſign was conducted with the utmoſt expedition and ſecreſy, Becket, before it was carried into execution, had got intelligence of it; and being deſirous to obſtruct all Henry's meaſures, as well as anxious to prevent this affront to himſelf, who pretended a ſole right, as archbiſhop of Canterbury, to officiate in the coronation, he had inhibited all the prelates of England from aſſiſting at this ceremony, had procured a mandate to the ſame purpoſe from the Pope, and had incited the King of France to proteſt againſt the coronation of young Henry, unleſs the princeſs, daughter of that monarch, ſhould at the ſame time receive the royal unction. There prevailed in that age an opinion, which was akin to its other ſuperſtitions, that the royal unction was eſſential to the exerciſe of royal power§; and it was therefore natural both for the King of France, ſolicitous for his daughter the princeſs Margaret's eſtabliſhment{inverted †}, and for Becket, jealous of his own dignity, to demand, in the treaty with Henry, ſome ſatisfaction in this eſſential point*. Henry, after apologizing to Lewis for the omiſſion with regard to Margaret, and excuſing it on account of the ſecreſy requiſite for conducting that meaſure, promiſed that the ceremony ſhould be again renewed in the perſons both of the prince and princeſs: And he aſſured Becket, that, beſides receiving the acknowledgments of Roger and the other biſhops for the ſeeming affront put on the ſee of Canterbury, he ſhould, as a farther ſatisfaction, recover his rights by officiating in this coronation. But the violent ſpirit of Becket, elated by the power of the church, and by the victory which he had already obtained over his ſovereign, was not content with this voluntary compenſation, but reſolved to make the injury, which he pretended to have ſuffered, a handle for taking revenge of all his enemies. On his arrival in [Page 292] England, he met the archbiſhop of York and the biſhops of London and Saliſbury, who were on their journey to the King in Normandy; [Note: Becket's return from baniſhment.] and he notified to the archbiſhop the ſentence of ſuſpenſion, and to the two biſhops that of excommunication, which, on his ſolicitation, the Pope had pronounced againſt them*. Reginald de Warenne, and Gervaſe de Cornhill, two itinerant juſticiaries, who were making their circuit in Kent, aſked him, on hearing of this bold attempt, whether he meant to bring fire and ſword into the kingdom? But the primate, heedleſs of the reproof, proceeded, in the moſt oftentatious manner, to take poſſeſſion of his dioceſe. In Rocheſter, and all the towns thro' which he paſſed, he was received with the ſhouts and acclamations of the people. As he approached Southwark, the clergy, the laity, men of all ranks and ages, came forth to meet him, and celebrated with hymns of joy his triumphant entrance. And tho' he was obliged, by orders of the young prince, who reſided at Woodſtoke, to return to his dioceſe, he found that he was not miſtaken, when he laid his account with the higheſt veneration of the public towards his perſon and his dignity. He proceeded, therefore, with the more courage to launch his ſpiritual thunders; and he iſſued the ſentence of excommunication againſt Robert de Broc§, and Nigel de Sackville, with many of the moſt conſiderable prelates and miniſters, who had aſſiſted at the coronation of the young prince, and had been active in the late perſecution of the exiled clergy. This violent meaſure, by which he, in effect, denounced war againſt the King himſelf, is commonly aſcribed to the vindictive diſpoſition and imperious character of Becket; but as this prelate was alſo a man of acknowledged abilities, we are not, in his paſſions alone, to look for the cauſe of his conduct, when he proceeded to theſe extremities againſt his enemies. His ſagacity had led him to diſcover all Henry's intentions; and he purpoſed, by this bold and unexpected aſſault, to prevent the execution of them.

THE King, from his experience of the diſpoſitions of his people, was become ſenſible, that his enterprize had been too bold, in eſtabliſhing the conſtitutions of Clarendon, in defining all the branches of royal power, and in endeavouring to extort from the church of England, as well as from the Pope, an expreſs avowal of th [...]ſe diſputed prerogatives. Conſcious alſo of his own violence, in attempting to break or ſubdue the inflexible primate, he was not diſpleaſed to undo that meaſure, which had given his enemies ſuch advantage againſt him; and he was contented, that the controverſy ſhould terminate in that ambiguous manner, [Page 293] which was the utmoſt that princes, in thoſe ages, could hope to attain in their diſputes with the ſee of Rome. Tho' he dropt, for the preſent, the proſecution of Becket, he ſtill reſerved to himſelf the right of maintaining, that the conſtitutions of Clarendon, the original ground of the quarrel, were both the antient cuſtoms and the preſent law of the realm: And tho' he knew, that the papal clergy aſſerted them to be impious in themſelves, as well as abrogated by the ſentence of the ſovereign pontiff, he propoſed, in ſpite of their clamours, ſteadily to put theſe laws in execution*, and to truſt to his own ability, and to the courſe of events, for ſucceſs in that perilous enterprize. He hoped, that Becket's experience of a ſix years exile would, after his pride was fully gratified by his reſtoration, be ſufficient to teach him more reſerve in his oppoſition; or if any controverſy aroſe, he expected thenceforth to engage in a more favourable cauſe, and to maintain with advantage, while the primate was now in his power, the antient and undoubted cuſtoms of the kingdom againſt the uſurpations of the clergy. But Becket, determined not to betray the eccleſiaſtical privileges by his connivance, and apprehenſive leſt a prince of ſuch profound policy, if allowed to proceed in his own way, would probably in the end prevail, reſolved to take all the advantage which his preſent victory gave him, and to diſconcert the cautious meaſures of the King, by the vehemence and rigour of his own conduct. Aſſured of ſupport from Rome, he was little apprehenſive of dangers, which his courage taught him to deſpiſe, and which, even if attended with the moſt fatal conſequences, would ſerve only to gratify his ambition and thirſt of glory§.

WHEN the ſuſpended and excommunicated prelates arrived at Baieux, where the King then reſided, and complained to him of the violent proceedings of Becket{inverted †}, he inſtantly perceived the conſequences; was ſenſible, that his whole plan of operations was overthrown; foreſaw, that the dangerous conteſt between the civil and ſpiritual powers, a conteſt which he himſelf had firſt rouzed, but which he had endeavoured, by all his late negotiations and conceſſions, to appeaſe, muſt come to an immediate and deciſive iſſue; and he was thence thrown into the moſt violent commotion*. The archbiſhop of York remarked to him, that, ſo long as Becket lived, he could never expect to enjoy peace or tranquillity; and the King himſelf, being vehemently agitated, burſt forth into an exclamation againſt his ſervants, whoſe want of zeal, he ſaid, had ſo long left him expoſed to the enterprizes of that ungrateful and imperious prelate. Four gentlemen of his [Page 294] houſehold, Reginald Fitz-Urſe, William de Traci, Hugh de Moreville, and R [...]hard Brito, taking theſe paſſionate expreſſions to be a hint for Becket's death, immediately communicated their thoughts to each other; and ſwearing to avenge their prince's quarrel, ſecretly withdrew from court*. Some menacing expreſſions, which they had dropt, gave a ſuſpicion of their deſign; and the King diſpatched a meſſenger after them, charging them to attempt nothing againſt the perſon of the primate: But theſe orders arrived too late to prevent their fatal purpoſe. The four aſſaſſins, tho' they took different roads to England, arrived nearly about the ſame time at Saltwoode near Canterbury; and being there joined by ſome aſſiſtants, they proceeded in great haſte to the archi-epiſcopal palace. They found the primate, who truſted entirely to the ſacredneſs of his character, very ſlenderly attended; and tho' they threw out many menaces and reproaches againſt him§, he was ſo incapable of fear, that, without uſing any precautions againſt their violence, he immediately went to St. Benedict's church, to hear veſpers. [Note: 29th Decem. Murder of Thomas a Becket.] They followed him thither, attacked him before the altar, and having cloven his head with many blows, retired without meeting any oppoſition{inverted †}. This was the tragical end of Thomas a Becket, a prelate of the moſt lofty, intrepid, and inflexible ſpirit, who was able to cover, to the world and probably to himſelf, the enterprizes of pride and ambition, under the diſguiſe of ſanctity and of zeal for the intereſts of piety and religion: An extraordinary perſonage, ſurely, had he been allowed to remain in his firſt ſtation, and had directed the vehemence of his character to the ſupport of law and juſtice; inſtead of being engaged, by the prejudices of the times, to ſacrifice all private duties and public connexions to tyes, which he imagined, or repreſented, as ſuperior to every civil and political conſideration. But no man, who enters into the genius of that age, can reaſonably doubt of this prelate's ſincerity. The ſpirit of ſuperſtition was ſo prevalent, that it infallibly caught every careleſs reaſoner, much more every one whoſe intereſt, and honour, and ambition, were engaged to ſupport it. All the wretched literature of the times was inliſted on that ſide: Some faint glimmerings of common ſenſe might ſometimes pierce thro' the thick cloud of ignorance, or what was worſe, the illuſions of perverted ſcience, which had blotted out the ſun, and envelloped the face of nature: But thoſe who preſerved themſelves untainted from the general contagion, proceeded on no principles which they could pretend to juſtify: They were beholden more to their total want of inſtruction, than to their knowledge, if they ſtill retained ſome ſhare of [Page 295] underſtanding: Folly was poſſeſſed of all the ſchools as well as all the churches; and her votaries aſſumed the garb of philoſophers together with the enſigns of ſpiritual dignities. Throughout that large collection of letters, which bears the name of St. Thomas, we find, in all the retainers of that aſpiring prelate, no leſs than in himſelf, a moſt entire and abſolute conviction of the reaſon and piety of their own party, and a diſdain of their antagoniſts; nor is there leſs cant and grimace in their ſtile, when they addreſs each other, than when they compoſe manifeſtos for the peruſal of the public. The ſpirit of revenge, violence, and ambition, which accompanied their conduct, inſtead of forming a preſumption of hypocriſy, are the ſureſt pledges of their ſincere attachment to a cauſe, which ſo much flattered theſe domineering paſſions.

[Note: Grief] HENRY, on the firſt report of Becket's violent meaſures, had propoſed to have him arreſted, and had already taken ſome ſteps towards the execution of that deſign: But the intelligence of his murder threw that prince into the utmoſt conſternation, and he was immediately ſenſible of the dangerous conſequences, which he had reaſon to apprehend from ſo unexpected an event. An archbiſhop of reputed ſanctity, aſſaſſinated before the altar, in the exerciſe of his function, and on account of his zeal in maintaining eccleſiaſtical privileges, muſt attain the higheſt honours of martyrdom; while his murderer would be ranked among the moſt bloody tyrants, that ever were expoſed to the hatred and deteſtation of mankind. Interdicts and excommunications, weapons in themſelves ſo terrible, would, he foreſaw, be armed with double force; when employed in a cauſe ſo much calculated to work on the human paſſions, and ſo peculiarly adapted to the eloquence of popular preachers and declaimers. In vain would he plead his own innocence, and even his total ignorance of the fact: He was ſufficiently guilty, if the church thought proper to eſteem him ſo: And his concurrence in Becket's martyrdom, becoming a religious opinion, would be received with all the implicit credit, which belonged to the moſt eſtabliſhed articles of faith. Theſe conſiderations gave the King the moſt unaffected concern; and as it was extremely his intereſt to clear himſelf of all ſuſpicion, he took no care to conceal the depth of his affliction*. He ſhut himſelf up from the light of day and from all commerce with his ſervants: He even refuſed during three days all food and ſuſtenance: The courtiers, apprehending dangerous effects from his deſpair, were at laſt obliged to break in upon his ſolitude; and they employed every topic of conſolation, induced him to accept of nouriſhment, and occupied his leiſure in [Page 296] taking precautions againſt the conſequences, which he ſo juſtly apprehended from the murder of the primate.

year 1171 [Note: and ſubmiſſion of the King.] THE point of chief importance to Henry was to convince the Pope of his innocence; or rather to perſuade him, that he would reap greater advantages from the ſubmiſſions of England than from proceeding to extremities againſt that kingdom. The archbiſhop of Roüen, the biſhops of Worceſter and Evreux, with five others of leſs quality, were immediately diſpatched to Rome*, and orders were given them to perform their journey with the utmoſt expedition. Tho' the name and authority of the court of Rome were ſo terrible in the remote countries of Europe, which were ſunk in profound ignorance, and were entirely unacquainted with its character and conduct; the Pope was ſo little revered at home, that his inveterate enemies ſurrounded the gates of Rome itſelf, and even controuled his government in that city; and the ambaſſadors, who, from a diſtant extremity of Europe, carried to him the humble, or rather abject ſubmiſſions of the greateſt potentate of the age, found the utmoſt difficulty to make their way to him, and to throw themſelves at his feet. It was at laſt agreed, that Richard Barre, one of their number, ſhould leave the reſt behind, and run all the hazards of the paſſage, in order to prevent the fatal conſequences which might enſue from any delay in giving ſatisfaction to his Holineſs. He found on his arrival, that Alexander was already wrought up to the greateſt rage againſt the King, that Becket's partizans were daily ſtimulating him to revenge, that the King of France had exhorted him to fulminate the moſt dreadful ſentence againſt England, and that the very mention of Henry's name before the ſacred college was received with every expreſſion of horror and execration. The Thurſday before Eaſter was now approaching, when it is cuſtomary for the Pope to denounce annual curſes againſt all his enemies; and it was expected, that Henry ſhould, with all the preparations peculiar to the diſcharge of that ſacred artillery, be ſolemnly comprehended in the number§. But Barre found means to appeaſe the pontiff, and to deter him from a meaſure, which, if it failed of ſucceſs, could not afterwards be eaſily recalled: The anathemas were only levelled in general againſt all the actors, accomplices, and abettors of Becket's murder{inverted †}; and the abbot of Valaſſe, and the archdeacons of Saliſbury and Liſieux, with others of Henry's miniſters, who ſoon after arrived, beſides maintaining their prince's innocence, made oath before the whole [Page 297] conſiſtory, that he would ſtand to the Pope's judgment in the affair, and make every ſubmiſſion, that ſhould be required of him*. The terrible blow was thus artfully eluded; the cardinals Albert and Theodin were appointed legates to examine the cauſe, and were ordered to proceed to Normandy for that purpoſe; and tho' Henry's foreign dominions were already laid under an interdict by the archbiſhop of Sens, Becket's great partizan, and the Pope's legate in France, the expectation, that the monarch would eaſily exculpate himſelf from any concurrence in the guilt, kept every one in ſuſpence, and prevented all the bad conſequences, which might be dreaded from that ſentence.

THE clergy, mean while, tho' their rage was happily diverted from falling on the King, were not idle in magnifying the ſanctity of Becket; in extolling the merits of his martyrdom; and in magnifying him above all that devoted tribe, who, in ſeveral ages, had, by their blood, cemented the fabric of the temple. Other ſaints had only borne teſtimony in their ſufferings to the general doctrines of Chriſtianity; but Becket had ſacrificed his life to the power and privileges of the clergy; and this peculiar merit challenged, and not in vain, a ſuitable acknowledgement to his memory. Endleſs were the panegyrics on his virtues; and the miracles, operated by his relicts, were more numerous, more nonſenſical, and more impudently atteſted, than thoſe which ever filled the legend of any confeſſor or martyr. Two years after his death he was canonized by Pope Alexander; a ſolemn jubilee was eſtabliſhed for celebrating his merits; his body was removed to a magnificent ſhrine, enriched with preſents from all parts of Chriſtendom; pilgrimages were performed to obtain his interceſſion with heaven; and it was computed, that, in one year, above an hundred thouſand pilgrims arrived in Canterbury, and paid their devotions at his tomb. It is indeed a mortifying reflection to thoſe who are actuated by the love of fame, ſo juſtly denominated the laſt infirmity of noble minds, that the wiſeſt legiſlator and moſt exalted genius, that ever reformed or enlightened the world, can never expect ſuch tributes of praiſe, as are laviſhed on the memory of a pretended ſaint, whoſe whole conduct was probably, to the laſt degree, odious or contemptible, and whoſe induſtry was entirely directed to the purſuits of objects pernicious to mankind. It is only a conqueror, a perſonage no leſs intitled to our hatred, who can pretend to the attainment of equal renown and glory.

IT may not be amiſs to remark, before we conclude this ſubject of Thomas a Becket, that the King, during his controverſy with that prelate, was on every [Page 298] occaſion more anxious than uſual to expreſs his zeal for religion, and to avoid all a pearance of a proſane negligence on that head. He gave his conſent to the impoſing a tax on all his dominions for the delivery of the holy land, now threatened by the famous Saladine; and this tax amounted to two-pence a pound for one year, and a penny a pound for the four ſubſequent*. Almoſt all the princes of Europe laid a like impoſition on their ſubjects, which received the name of Saladine's tax. During this period, there came over from Germany about thirty heretics of both ſexes, under the direction of one Gerard; ſimple ignorant people, who could give no account of their faith, but declared themſelves ready to ſuffer for the tenets of their maſter. They made only one convert in England, a woman as ignorant as themſelves; yet they gave ſuch umbrage to the clergy, that they were delivered over to the ſecular arm, and were puniſhed by being burned on the forehead, and then whipped thro' the ſtreets. They ſeemed to exult in their ſufferings, and as they went along, ſung the beatitude, Bleſſed are ye, when men bate you and perſecute you . After they were whipped, they were thruſt out almoſt naked in the midſt of winter, and periſhed thro' cold and hunger; no one daring, or being willing, to give them the leaſt relief. We are ignorant of the particular principles of theſe people: For it would be imprudent to rely on the repreſentations left of them by the clergy, who affirm, that they denied the efficacy of the ſacraments, and the unity of the church. It is probable, that their departure from the ſtandard of orthodoxy was ſtill more ſubtile and minute. They ſeem to have been the firſt that ever ſuffered for hereſy in England.

As ſoon as Henry found, that he was in no immediate danger from the thunders of the vatican, he undertook an expedition againſt Ireland; a deſign, which he had long projected, and by which he hoped to recover his credit, ſomewhat impaired in his late tranſactions with the hierarchy.


[Page 301]

State of Ireland—Conqueſt of that iſland—The King's accommodation with the court of Rome—Revolt of young Henry and his brothers—Wars and inſurrections—War with Scotland—Pennance of Henry for Becket's murder—William, King of Scotland, defeated and taken priſoner—The King's accommodation with his ſons—The King's equitable adminiſtration—Croiſades—Revolt of prince Richard—Death and character of Henry—Miſcellaneous tranſactions of his reign.

year 1172 [Note: State of Ireland.] AS Britain was firſt peopled from Gaul, ſo was Ireland probably from Britain; and the inhabitants of all theſe countries ſeem to have been ſo many tribes of the Celtae, who derive their origin from an antiquity, that lies far beyond the records of any hiſtory or tradition. The Iriſh, from the beginning of time, had been buried in the moſt profound barbariſm and ignorance; and as they were never conquered or even invaded by the Romans, from whom all the weſtern world derived its civility, they continued ſtill in the moſt rude ſtate of ſociety, and were diſtinguiſhed only by thoſe vices, to which human nature, not tamed by education nor reſtrained by laws, is for ever ſubject. The ſmall principalities, into which they were divided, exerciſed perpetual rapine and violence againſt each other; the uncertain ſucceſſion of their princes was a continued ſource of domeſtic convulſions; the uſual title of each petty ſovereign was the murder of his predeceſſor; courage and force, tho' exerciſed in the commiſſion of crimes, were more honoured than any pacific virtues; and the moſt ſimple arts of life, even tillage and agriculture, were almoſt wholly unknown among them. They had felt the invaſions of the Danes and the other northern people; but theſe inroads, which had ſpread barbariſm in the other parts of Europe, tended rather to improve the Iriſh; and the only towns, which were to be found in the iſland, had been planted along the coaſt by the freebooters of Norway and Denmark. The other inhabitants exerciſed paſturage in the open country; ſought protection from any danger in their foreſts and moraſſes; and being divided by the [Page 299] fierceſt animoſities againſt each other, were ſtill more intent on the means of mutual injury, than on the expedients for common or even for private intereſt.

BESIDES many ſmall tribes, there were in the age of Henry II, five principal ſovereignties in the iſland, Munſter, Leinſter, Meath, Ulſter, and Connaught; and as it had been uſual for one or the other of theſe to take the lead in their wars, there was commonly ſome prince, who ſeemed, for the time, to act as monarch of Ireland. Roderic O Connor, King of Connaught, was then advanced to this d gnity*; but his government, ill obeyed even within his own territory, was not capable of uniting the people in any meaſures, either for the eſtabliſhment of order, or for defence againſt foreigners. The ambition of Henry had, very early in his reign, been moved, by the proſpect of theſe advantages, to attempt the ſubjection of Ireland; and a pretence was only wanting to invade a people, who, being always confined to their own iſland, had never given any reaſon of complaint to any of their neighbours. For this purpoſe, he had recourſe to Rome, which aſſumed a right to diſpoſe of kingdoms and empires; and not foreſeeing the dangerous diſputes, which he was one day to maintain with that ſee, he helped, for preſent, or rather for an imaginary convenience, to give ſanction to claims which were now become dangerous to all ſovereigns. Adrian III. who was then pontiff, was by birth an Engliſhman; and being, on that account, diſpoſed to oblige Henry, he was eaſily perſuaded to act as maſter of the world, and to make, without any hazard or expence, the acquiſition of a great iſland to his ſpiritual juriſdiction. The Iriſh had, by precedent miſſions from the Britains, been imperfectly converted to Chriſtianity; and what the Pope regarded as the ſureſt mark of their imperfect converſion, they followed the doctrines of their firſt teachers, and had never acknowledged any ſubjection to the ſee of R