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CHAP. VII. push matters to extremities. Still it was clearly the number and strength of the following of Siward and Leofric in the London Gemót which decided the day against Godwine. The Earl of the West-Saxons was entrapped. He and his party came as to a peaceful assembly, and they found the King and his foreign followers bent on their destruction, and a powerful military force assembled to crush them. But why did even Siward lend himself to a scheme like this? Why, still more, did Leofric forsake the part, which he had so often and so worthily played, of mediator between extreme parties? Unless we are to believe, which one would not willingly do, that Leofric was won by the bait of Harold's Earldom for his son, we can only suppose that a mistaken feeling of loyalty hindered him from opposing a project on which he saw that the King was fully bent. It is in his position and that of Siward that the main difficulty lies. When Godwine found himself face to face with all the strength of Northern England, the rest of the story becomes more intelligible. He had come expecting a fair discussion of all the questions at issue. But fair discussion was not to be had amid the clash of the axes of Siward's Danes and of the lances of Ralph's Frenchmen. Godwine had really no choice but to fight or to yield. Had he chosen to fight, the whole force of Wessex and East-Anglia would no doubt have soon been again at his command. But he shrank from a civil war; he saw that it was better policy to bide his time, to yield, even to flee, certain that a revulsion of national feeling would soon demand his recall. Such a course was doubtless wise and patriotic; but it was not one which would be at the time either acceptable or intelligible to the mass of his followers. If he meant to resist, he should doubtless have resisted at once; the hopes of an insurrection always lie in promptness and energy; every hour of delay only adds to the strength of the other side. We can thus
Explanation of Godwine's position and conduct.
CAUSES OF GODWINE'S FALL.
on his con
understand how men began to fall off from a chief who, CHAP. VII. it might be said, dared not meet his sovereign either in arms or in council. Still, after all, there is something strange in the details of the story. There is something His comamazing in so sudden and so utter a fall, not only from plete and the general exaltation of himself and his family, but from the proud and threatening position which he had so lately held at Beverstone and Gloucester. It is not wonderful Impression that Godwine's fall from such an unparalleled height of greatness made a deep impression on the minds of the men of his own age. The Biographer of Eadward, who had before likened the children of Godwine to the rivers of Paradise,1 now deems it a fitting occasion to call upon his Muse to set forth the sufferings of the innocent, and to compare the outlawed Earl to Susanna, Joseph, and other ancient victims of slander. The plain English of the Chronicler who is less strongly committed to Godwine's cause speaks more directly to the heart; "That would have seemed wonderful to ilk man that in England was, if any man ere that had said that so it should be. For that ere that he was so upheaven, so that he wielded the King and all England, and his sons were Earls and the King's darlings, and his daughter to the King wedded and married." He fell from his high estate; but in his fall he doubtless foresaw that the day of his restoration was not far distant. Another Gemót of London was soon to repeal the unrighteous vote of its predecessor; the champion of England was to return for a moment to his old honours and his old
1 Vita Eadw. 397. See Appendix F.
2 Vita Eadw. 403.
Twenty hexameters are devoted to the com
3 Chron. Wig. 1052. "pat wolde Oyncan wundorlic ælcum men be on Englalande wæs, gif ænig man ær þam sæde þæt hit swa gewurban sceolde. Forðam þe he was ar to bam swyce up ahafen, swyse he weolde þæs cynges and ealles Englalandes, and his sunan wæron eorlas and þæs cynges dyrlingas, and his dohtor þæm cynge bewedded and beawnod."
CHAP. VII. power, and then to hand them on to a son even more worthy of them than himself.
the Norman party.
Complete But for the moment the overthrow of the patriotic temporary leaders was complete. The dominion of the strangers over triumph of the mind of the feeble King was fully assured. The October Norman Conquest, in short, might now seem to have 1051-September more than begun. Honours and offices were of course divided among the foreigners and among those Englishmen who had stood on the King's side. Through the banishment of Godwine and his sons three great Earldoms were vacant. No one Earl of the West-Saxons seems to have been appointed. Probably, as in the early days of Cnut, the Imperial Kingdom, or at least its greater portion, was once more put under the immediate government Partition of the Crown. The anomalous Earldom of Swegen was dismembered. The King's nephew Ralph seems to have been again invested with the government of its Mercian portions. Of the two West-Saxon shires held by Swegen, Berkshire is not mentioned, but Somersetshire was joined with the other western parts of Wessex to form a new government under Odda, a kinsman of the King. His Earldom took in the whole of the ancient Wealhcyn, but it is now Cornwall only which is distinguished as Welsh. The policy of Ethelstan1 had been effectual, and no part of the island east of the Tamar is now looked on as a foreign land. Odda was a special favourite of the monks, and is spoken of as a man of good and clean life, who in the end became a monk himself. The third Earldom, that of
of honours among the King's
1 See vol. i. pp. 404.
2 See Appendix G.
3 See Appendix G. Compare the Earldoms granted by Richard the First to his brother John in 1189 (Ben. Petrib. ii. 99). "Comitatum Cornubiæ et comitatum Devoniæ, et comitatum de Dorsetâ et comitatum de Sumersetâ." Devonshire and Somersetshire have a different grammatical construction in Latin as well as in Old-English. See the Chronicles, 1051, 1052.
See vol. i. p. 308.
Chron. Wig. 1056. "Se was to munece gehadod as his ende. god
PROMOTIONS OF THE KING'S FRIENDS.
East-Anglia, hitherto held by Harold, was bestowed on Elfgar the son of Leofric, of whom we hear for the first Ælfgar. time during these commotions. He had himself, it would seem, played a prominent part in them, and one would wish to believe that his promotion was the reward of acts of his own, rather than of his father's seeming desertion of the patriotic cause. Among churchmen, Spearhafoc, who Spearhafoc deposed, had throughout the summer and autumn held the see of London without consecration,3 had now to give up his doubtful possession. The Bishoprick was then given to and Wila Norman named William, a chaplain of the King. A Bishop of man might now go from the Straits of Dover to the Humber, over Kentish, East-Saxon, and Danish ground, without once in the course of his journey going out of the spiritual jurisdiction of Norman Prelates. It is due however to Bishop William to say that he bears a very different character in our history from either his Metropolitan Robert or his fellow-suffragan Ulf. Banished for a while, he was restored when the patriotic party was in the height of its power-a distinct witness in his favour, perhaps a witness against his English competitor.5 William kept his Bishoprick for many years, and lived to welcome his namesake and native prince to the throne of England. But he had not to wait for so distant an opportunity of displaying his new honours in the eyes of
man and clæne and swide ædele." Cf. Chron. Ab. and Fl. Wig. in anno. Florence seems to translate "clæne" by "virginitatis custos." He built the present church of Deerhurst (see vol. i. p. 351), as an offering for the soul of his brother Elfric. See Earle, p. 345.
1 Chron. Petrib. 1048; Will. Malms. ii. 199. "Comitatus ejus [Haroldi] attributus Elgaro, Leofrici filio, viro industrio; quem ille suscipiens tunc rexit nobiliter, reverso restituit libenter."
2 The Biographer (401, 2) mentions his coming to Gloucester along with his father and Siward.
3 See above, p. 131.
Chron. Wig. 1052; Petrib. 1048; Flor. Wig. 1051.
5 Flor. Wig. 1052.
CHAP. VII. his natural sovereign. While Godwine dwelt as an exile
first set foot on the shores of England.1
We are thus at last brought face to face with the two great actors in our history. Harold has already appeared before us. We have seen him raised at an early age to the highest rank open to a subject; we have seen him, in the cause of his country, deprived of his honours and driven to take refuge in a foreign land. His great rival we have as yet heard of only at a distance; he now comes directly on the field. There can be no doubt that William's visit to England forms a stage, and a most important one, among the immediate causes of the Norman Conquest. I pause then, at this point, to take up the thread of Norman history, and to give a sketch of the birth, the childhood, the early reign, of the man who, in the year of Godwine's banishment, saw for the first time the land which, fifteen years later, he was to claim as his own.
1 Chron. Wig. 1052; Flor. Wig. 1051.