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It is sad to reflect that Richard died in such a sordid quarrel. Yet he was fighting for his regalia, and the incident is symbolic of his whole career; his mind had burned with the same enthusiasm to rescue the Holy Sepulchre. In this case his imagination was kindled by a useless relic of antiquity; in other cases it was kindled by traditions which are still potent in the world. Richard's deeds attain the dignity of history because his matchless energy was always at the service of his imagination. A like significance invests the theme of this chapter. From one point of view we have been concerned with the border forays of half-tamed barbarians; from another we have been watching the slow action of imperial influences, and the beginnings of the modern state.
1. Two years later, in 1201, King John's cupidity led him to make excavations at Corbridge, which have been resumed with such extraordinary success in our own day : “Cum venisset ad Extoldesham et audisset quod apud Choresbrige esset thesaurus absconditus, fecit ibi fodere, sed nihil inventum est praeter lapides signatos aere et ferro et plumbo" (Howden, iv, 157).
The Loss of Normandy.
The unexpected death of Richard Cæur-de-Lion before the castle of Chalus was, says M. Delaborde, not only the signal of the downfall of the continental empire of the Plantagenets; it was at the same time prophetic of the certain, if distant, triumph of the Hohenstaufen. It may be doubted whether king Richard could have prevented the victory of the Hohenstaufen over his nephew Otto of Brunswick; but it is certain that his death hurried on the loss of Normandy. The figure of the great soldier had stood as a screen between the Normans and the operation of those forces which were working in favour of Philip Augustus. The house of Capet had successfully asserted its right to maintain the authority of the Carolingians : Philip Augustus was a Carolid. For half a century the princes of larger France had been learning to recognise the claims of the kings of Francia.3 The church, always conscious of the Frankish origin of its privileges, was, even in Normandy, losing the sense of provincial duty. Moreover, the tendency of the new chivalry, fed upon Carolingian romance, was towards personal rather than
1. Journal des Savants, 1910, p. 559.
2. Cf. William Che Breton, Philippidos Nuncupatio, l. 28 (ed. Delaborde), ii, 3.
3. The geographical distinction between France and Normandy or Poitou was very clear even in this period. Cf. Walter of Coutances to the Dean of St. Paul's in 1196 : in partibus Galliae jurisdictioni nostrae subjectae (Diceto, ii, 142). On the general question, see Halphen in Revue Hist., lxxxv (1904), p. 276.
national loyalty. The Norman had no love for England and could lose respect for England's king. Provided that his local privileges were maintained, his conception of the power to which he owed service might embrace a larger France as easily as the duchy; moreover the ecclesiastical writers who chose to speak of politics were not tempted to dogmatise, as we are, upon the relation between the state and such facts as nationality and race. Hence the Normans, speaking the same tongue, living along the same roads, benefiting by the same trade and belonging to the same Church as their French neighbours, could oppose few sentimental barriers to the claims of France. 2
The death of Richard tore away the veil which had concealed these facts. He was succeeded by a man who, in spite of certain useful qualities, was unable to command respect. It is strange to the modern mind, accustomed to think of John's enormities, to find that he was at first despised on account of his lack of vigour and his love of peace. 3 His cruelty and lasciviousness could not have been more marked than the cruelty and lasciviousness of his elder brother; it was only in course of time that the callousness of John gave to his crimes a peculiar significance. There was nothing large or attractive in his nature; he could be a boon companion, but never a leader. “The Normans," says the biographer of the Marshal, “ were not
1. Cf. Helinand, De Regimine Principis, on the place of the knight in the state (Migne, Pat. Lat., ccxii, 745). Luchaire has brought together some interesting criticisms passed upon the nobility by Peter of Blois and others in La Société Française sous Philippe Auguste (1909),
2. For some of these points, see Chapter X, and above, p. 22. 3. Gervase of Canterbury, ii, 92-3. “Johannem molle gladium" eum
detractores . . . vocabant. Cf. Robert of Auxerre (Historiens de France, xviii, 263) : the factious Richard succeeded by John, “juvenis quidem remissioris animi, amansque quietis."
asleep in the days of the young king. Then they were grain, but now they are chaff; for since the death of King Richard they have had no leadership.” Men lost heart and forsook John; many left their homes for the Holy Land or to go on pilgrimage 2
Free from the glamour cast upon them by Richard, the Normans could not long be inattentive to the havoc which war, pestilence and famine had made in their country during the last five years. The constant warfare and castle building had cost large sums; the appeals to Rome and the search for allies had also swallowed up a great deal of money. Moreover, as the war went on, bitterness increased; not only had the methods of actual warfare become more cruel,3 but the wanton destruction of towns and villages had been resorted to by both sides, 4 nor had the incendiaries always been careful to distinguish the property of friends and foes. These attributes of war had been intensified by the use of mercenaries, whose employment by John was to become the main source of
1. Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 58. The young king is Henry, son of Henry II.
2. Cf. William the Breton's chronicle (ed. Delaborde, i, 24): “Interea Flandrensis, Blesensis, Perticensis comites, et alii proceres qui Philippo regi domino suo defecerant videntes se per mortem Richardi regis auxilio et consilio destitutos, cruce assumpta," etc.
3. See particularly Howden, iv, 54.
5. Howden has a curious story (iv, 60) which may serve as an illustration : “Postea rex Franciae congregato exercitu intravit Normanniam et combussit Ebroicas et septem alias villas. Comes autem Johannes, frater Ricardi regis, combussit Novum Burgum; quod rex Franciae sperans a suis fieri, milites misit ad prohibendum suis ne procederent ; ex quibus capti sunt xviii milites et servientes multi.” It is, of course, possible that John burnt Neubourg defence, but destruction was congenial to him. Cf. the entry in Rot. Scacc., ii, 292. “In defectu molendinorum vastatorum per guerram per Comitem Johannem (at Gavrai). Allowance was of course made at the exchequer for waste (cf. Rot. Scacc, i, 156).
his strength and, in turn, one of the chief reasons of his failure to secure the support of his subjects.?
We possess a valuable description of the condition of the country during the last months of Richard's reign, in the life of Saint Hugh of Lincoln. The bishop was on his way to argue in person with the king about his recent exactions. At Angers, in the abbey of St. Nicholas, he was entertained with such stories of Richard's threats against those who withstood him, that the listening clerks were struck with very natural terror. The clergy of three dioceses, both those of Anjou and those who were present from Lincoln and Hereford, urged the saint to surrender. The attendant dangers were sufficient to have daunted him. “Nothing was safe, neither the city to dwell in, nor the highway for travel.”3 The king died before Saint Hugh could reach him, but, though his companions had not to face the living lion, they endured fresh anxiety from the violence and lawlessness, which increased on the news of his death. The men who were bringing money from England for the bishop's use were robbed; and his horses were stolen at La Flêche.4
The last few years had been generally years of dearth, and we need not wonder if, when the horrors of famine
added to those of war, men lent an to preachers and prophets. As the century drew to a close, these foretold the end of the thousand years of the Apocalypse, after which Satan was to be unloosed. 5 During the great storms of 1197, a rumour spread in France that Antichrist had been born in Egypt and that the end of the world was at hand. Such fancies, like
1. Cf. Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 171, and below p. 340. 2. Vita S. Hug. (Rolls series), p. 281. 3. Ibid, 282. 4. Ibid, 284, 295. 5. Howden, iv, 161-3. 6. Rigord, i, 141.