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THE ROYAL WRITS.
makes to the Bishop, Earl, Sheriff, Thegns, and others of CHAP. VII. some one shire, or sometimes to the Bishops, Earls, and Thegns of the whole Kingdom, which do not, like documents of the ancient form, bear the signatures of any Witan. They are the manifest prototypes of the royal writs of later times. They are, like the other documents, mostly grants of one kind or another; only they seem to proceed from the King's personal authority, without any confirmation from a national Gemót. Now it is hardly possible that all the grants of this sort which are preserved can have been grants out of the King's private estate. And if they are grants of folkland to be turned into bookland on whatever tenure, allodial or feudal, a very important question arises. If the King could make such grants by his own authority, a change must have taken place in the ideas entertained as to folkland. In short, the change which was completed after the Conquest1 must have already begun. The Folkland must have been beginning to be looked on as Terra Regis. And in this respect, as in others, the Danish Conquest doubtless did much to prepare the way for the Norman. But if the Witenagemót insensibly lost its General authority in a matter in which we may well believe that the Witan its voice had long been nearly formal, it retained its general not lespowers undiminished. It still, as of old, elected Kings, outlawed Earls, discussed and determined the foreign relations of the Kingdom. The fame of Eadward as a lawgiver is mythical; but the fame of government carried on in strict conformity to the laws and constitution of the country is one which fairly belongs to him, or rather to the illustrious men by whom his power was practically wielded.
I have now to end this sketch by a brief view of the Scotland condition of the subordinate Kingdoms and of the relations Macbeth. of England to foreign countries. Scotland was now ruled
See vol. i. p. 94.
death of Duncan.
CHAP. VII. by the famous Macbeth. He had, as Maarmor or Underking of Moray, done homage to Cnut1 along with his Reign and superior Malcolm. Duncan, the youthful grandson of Malcolm, unsuccessful, as we have seen, in his invasion of England, was equally so in his warfare with the Northmen of Orkney. Soon after this last failure, he was murdered by his own subjects, Macbeth being at least the prime mover in the deed. The murdered prince had
married a kinswoman of the Earl of the Northumbrians," by whom he left two infant sons, Malcolm, afterwards famous as Malcolm Canmore, and Donald Bane. But the 1040-1058. Crown was assumed by Macbeth, on some claim, it would seem, of hereditary right, either in himself or in his wife Gruach. Macbeth, and Gruach even more, has been so immortalized in legend that it is not easy to recall either of them to their true historical personality. But from what little can be recovered about them, they certainly seem not to have been so black as they are painted. The crime of Macbeth against Duncan is undoubted; but it was, to say the least, no baser than the crime of Siward against Eadwulf; and Macbeth, like Siward, ruled well and vigorously the dominion which he had won by crime. All genuine Scottish tradition points to the reign of Macbeth as a period of unusual peace and prosperity in that disturbed land.7 Macbeth and Gruach were also bountiful
distributes to churches in their own land, and Macbeth's munifi
cence to certain unknown persons at Rome was thought worthy of record by chroniclers beyond the bounds of 2 See vol. i. p. 502.
1 See vol. i. p. 447.
* Orkneyinga Saga, Ant. Celt. Scand. 172 et seqq.; Robertson, i. 114; Burton, i. 369.
Fordun, iv. 44; Robertson, i. 116. Marianus Scotus (Pertz, v. 557) says expressly, "Donnchad Rex Scotia in autumno occiditur a duce suo Macbethad mac Finnloech, cui successit in regnum annis xvii."
Fordun, u. s. "Consanguinea Siwardi Comitis."
Robertson, i. 120 et seqq.; Burton, i. 371-2.
7 Innes, Scotland in the Middle Ages, p. 118.
MACBETH AND GRUffydd.
One hardly knows whether this was merely by CHAP. VII. way of alms, like the gifts of Cnut, and it seems uncertain whether Macbeth, like Cnut and Harold, personally made the Roman pilgrimage. The words however in which the gifts of Macbeth are spoken of might almost imply that his bounty had a political object. It is possible that, even at this early time, the Scottish King may have thought it desirable to get the Roman Court on his side, and he may have found, like later princes and prelates, that a liberal distribution of money was the best way of winning the favour of the Apostolic See. The high character of the reigning Pontiff, Leo the Ninth, puts him personally above all suspicion of unlawful gain; but then, as afterwards, subordinates were probably less scrupulous. The few notices which we find of Scottish affairs during the early years of Eadward might suggest that Macbeth felt his position precarious with regard to his English overlord. He had done homage to Cnut, but there is no record of his having renewed it to Eadward. There is however no sign of open enmity for many years.
In Wales a remarkable power was growing up, which Gruffydd will often call for notice throughout the whole of the Wales. reign of Eadward. The year before the death of Harold, 1039–1063. Gruffydd the son of Llywelyn became King of Gwynedd or North Wales, a description which now begins to be used in its modern sense. He ruled with great vigour and ability. He gradually extended his dominion over the whole of Wales, not scrupling to avail himself of Saxon help against enemies of his own race. On the
1 Marianus, ap. Pertz, v. 558. "Rex Scottiæ Macbethad Romæ argentum pauperibus seminando distribuit." Florence (1050) leaves out the word "pauperibus," and changes "seminando" into "spargendo." The change can hardly be undesigned, and of the influence of money at Rome we shall hear presently in the case of Bishop Ulf. Chron. Petrib. 1047. John of Peterborough (48) combines the two readings, saying, "Machetus Rex Scotorum Romæ argentum spargendo pauperibus distribuit."
2 See Robertson, i. 122; Burton, i. 373.
CHAP. VII. other hand, he more than once, sometimes alone, sometimes in concert with English traitors, proved himself a really formidable enemy to England. He was the last prince under whom any portion of the Welsh nation played a really important part in the history of Britain. He was, for Wales in the narrower sense, pretty well what Cadwalla had been, ages before, for Strathclyde.1 In the very first year of his reign he had made an inroad into His victory Mercia, and had won the victory of Rhyd-y-Groes. At at Rhydthe time of Eadward's accession he was busily engaged in y-Groes. various conflicts with the princes of South Wales, who did not scruple to call in the help of the heathen Danes of Ireland against him. In the year of Eadward's election, he had just won a great victory over a combined host of this kind at Aberteifi or Cardigan.4
1039. His wars in South Wales.
Eadward's friendly re
The relations of King Eadward to foreign powers were, lations with for the most part, friendly. With Normandy and other foreign French states they were, as we have seen and shall see, only too friendly. But this was a time of growing intercourse, not with France only, but with Continental nations generally. Pilgrimages to Rome, and other foreign journeys and embassies, were becoming far more usual than before among eminent Englishmen, both clergy and laity. Earl Harold's travels, undertaken in order to study the condition and resources of foreign countries on Connexion the spot, form a memorable example. The connexion between England and Germany was now very close; the great Emperor Henry the Third sedulously sought the friendship of his English brother-in-law; and there is, 2 See vol. i. p. 502.
1 See vol. i. p. 35.
3 Brut, 1040, 1042; Ann. Camb. 1039-1047. In one battle in 1040 Gruffydd seems to have been taken prisoner by the Danes of Dublin. But the whole narrative is very confused. See the entries under 1041 and
Brut, 1042; Ann. Camb. 1045?
5 We may for once quote the romantic Biographer of Harold (p. 157);
RELATIONS WITH GERMANY AND THE NORTH.
as we have seen, little doubt that the German connexion CHAP. VII. was cultivated by the patriotic party as a counterpoise to the French tendencies of the King. The promotion of German churchmen began early in Eadward's reign, when it could hardly have taken place except with the sanction of Godwine. The only danger that seemed to threaten Relations England lay in the North. Magnus of Norway conceived North; himself to have acquired, by virtue of his agreement with claims of Harthacnut, a claim on the English Crown; but his wars with Swegen hindered him from putting it forward for some years to come.
The reign of Eadward was, on the whole, a reign of peace. The reign His admirers use somewhat exaggerated language on this ward comhead, as his reign was certainly more disturbed than those paratively peaceful. of either Eadgar or Cnut. Still, compared with most periods of the same length in those troubled times, the twenty-four years of Eadward form a period of unusual tranquillity. Foreign war, strictly so called, there was none. England was threatened by Norway, and she herself interfered in the affairs of Flanders; but no actual fighting seems to have taken place on either occasion. Within the island matters were somewhat less quiet. Scotland was
"Alemannorum Imperator qui, Regi Anglorum affinitate proximus, dilectione et amicitiâ erat conjunctissimus."
1 See above, p. 4'.
* See above, p. 18.
Æthel. R. 375. "Tunc elevatus est sol et luna stetit in ordine suo, quando, Edwardo gloriâ et honore coronato, sacerdotes sapientiâ et sanctitate fulgebant, monasteria omni relligione pollebant, clerus in officio suo, populus stabat in gradu suo; videbatur etiam terra fecundior, aer salubrior, sol serenior, maris unda pacatior. Quoniam diu Rege pacifico regnante in uno vinculo pacis omnia convenirent, ut nihil pestilentiosum esset in aere, nihil in mari tempestuosum, in terrâ nihil infecundum, nihil inordinatum in clero, nihil in plebe tumultuosum." It would be endless to contrast all these details with those found in the Chronicles and the Biographer. Even William of Malmesbury, comparatively sober as he is, goes too far when he says (ii. 196), "Denique eo regnante, nullus tumultus domesticus qui non cito comprimeretur, nullum bellum forinsecus, omnia domi forisque quieta, omnia tranquilla.”