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harm, but the fame of the youngest Christian Kingdom CHAP. IX. and of its renowned and sainted King was doubtless great throughout Europe. And the connexion with the Imperial House, the distant kindred of the Ætheling's children with the illustrious Cæsar, the friend and brother-in-law of King Eadward, was of all foreign ties that which it most became Englishmen to strengthen. In default therefore of any member of the royal house brought up and dwelling in the land, it was determined to recall the banished Ætheling with his wife and family. Besides his son Eadgar, he had two daughters, who bore the foreign names of Margaret and Christina. We shall hear of all three again. Eadgar, the last male descendant of Cerdic, lived Eadgar. to be in an especial manner the sport of fortune; a King twice chosen, but never crowned, a rival whom the Conqueror scorned to fear or to hurt, the friend and pensioner of successive usurpers of his own Crown. One of his sisters won a worthier fame. Margaret obtained the Margaret. honours alike of royalty and of saintship; she became one of the brightest patterns of every virtue in her own time, and she became the source through which the blood and the rights of the Imperial House of Wessex have passed to the Angevin, the Scottish, and the German sovereigns of England.2


It is impossible to doubt that the resolution to invite The Ætheling invited the Ætheling was regularly passed by the authority of the to EngKing and his Witan. No lighter authority could have land: the justified such a step, or could have carried any weight with equivalent foreign courts. Such an invitation was equivalent to sion to the declaring the Ætheling to be successor to the Crown, so


to success


1 See Appendix FF.

2 It is only through Margaret that our Kings from Henry the Second onward were descended from Eadward the Elder, Eadmund, or Eadgar. But it must not be forgotten that every descendant of Matilda of Flanders was a descendant of Elfred.


B b

CHAP. IX. far as English Law allowed any man to be successor before the Crown was actually vacant. It is possible that, as in some other cases, an election before the vacancy may have been attempted; but it is perhaps more likely that all that was done was to guarantee to Eadward that same strong preference which naturally belonged only to a son of a reigning King. Such a preference, in favour of one who was the last remaining member of the royal family, would in effect hardly differ from an exclusive right. The resolution in short placed the Ætheling in the same position as if his father and not his uncle had been on the throne. His position would thus be the same as that of Eadwig and Eadgar during the reign of Eadred.2 But when we remember what followed, it is important to bear in mind that the preference which undoubtedly belonged to Eadward would not belong to his son. Eadward, though so long an exile, was an Englishman born, the son of a crowned King and his Lady. The young Eadgar was a native of a foreign land, and was not the son of Import of royal parents. This quasi designation of Eadward to the

the selec

tion of

Crown involves, as I before said, two things. It implies Eadward. that the King had learned that the succession of William

was a thing which he never could bring about. It implies

1 See vol. i. pp. 108, 477.

2 See vol. i. pp. 62, 107, 108.

See vol. i. pp. 107, 626.

I rely far more on the probability of the case than on the account given by William of Malmesbury under the influence of those Norman prejudices against which he sometimes struggles, but to which he sometimes yields. He tells us (ii. 228), "Rex Edwardus, pronus in senium [fifty, or a year or two older], quod ipse non susceperat liberos, et Godwini videret invalescere filios, misit ad Regem Hunorum ut filium fratris Edmundi, Edwardum, cum omni familiâ suâ mitteret; futurum ut aut ille aut filii sui succedant regno hæreditario Angliæ; orbitatem suam cognatorum suffragio sustentari debere." He then goes on to describe the Ætheling (“vir neque promptus manu neque probus ingenio "), his family, his return, and his death. He then adds, "Rex itaque, defuncto cognato, quia spes prioris erat soluta suffragii, Willelmo Comiti Normanniæ successionem Angliæ dedit." I believe exactly the reverse to be the truth.


also that neither Harold himself nor the English people CHAP. IX. had as yet formed any serious thought of the possible succession of one not of royal descent. Indeed one can hardly doubt that the resolution to send for the Etheling, if it was not made on Harold's own motion, must at any rate have had his full approval. No proposal could be more contrary to the wishes and interests of the Norman courtiers, who must either have unsuccessfully opposed it or else have found it their best wisdom to hold their peace. It was therefore, seemingly at the Whitsun Gemót, resolved to send an embassy to ask for the return of the Ætheling. And about the time that Earl Siward was warring in Scotland, the English ambassadors set forth on their errand.

to the


and Elf

A direct communication with the court of Hungary Embassy seems to have been an achievement beyond the diplomatic Emperor powers of Englishmen in that age. The immediate comJuly, 1054. mission of the embassy was addressed to the Emperor Henry, with a request that he would himself send a further embassy into Hungary. At the head of the English lega- Ealdred tion was the indefatigable Bishop Ealdred, and with him wine amseems to have been coupled Abbot Elfwine of Ramsey.1 bassadors. Both these Prelates had already had some experience of foreign courts. Ealdred had gone on the King's errand to the Apostolic throne,2 and Elfwine had been one of the representatives of the English Church at the famous Council of Rheims. The Bishop of Worcester clearly reckoned on a long absence, and we get some details of the arrangements which he made for the discharge of his ecclesiastical duties during his absence. The Abbey of Winchcombe, which he had annexed to his Bishoprick the year before, he now resigned, and the general government of the see of Worcester he entrusted to a monk of Evesham named


1 See Appendix FF.

s See above, p. 111.


2 See above, p. 113.

4 See above, p. 361.

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