Page images

were faithful to John as morally guilty. They were political unfortunates. In the terms offered to the refugees in Rouen, for example, he permitted those who so desired to retire from Normandy either by land or sea. Consistent with this attitude was his eagerness to welcome all who would take the oath of fealty to him and do him homage. He made only three or four exceptions, the seneschal, the count of Meulan and Roger of Tosny and his sons. And it is especially interesting to note that he was willing to show favour to some of the barons who had large interests both in England and Normandy. His agreement with the Marshal in 1204, is a striking confirmation of the fact that his general policy of excluding John's followers was nothing more than a drastic application of strictly feudal ideas. At Lisieux in 1204, the Marshal and the earl of Leicester, who had formed part of John's mission to Philip, paid a large fine for a year's delay before deciding whether or not they would do homage to Philip for their Norman lands.3 The earl of Leicester had died before the time had elapsed, but the Marshal-who, according to his biographer, had John's permission—did homage in 1205.4 His family retained their Norman property during the early reign of Henry III.

Both the Marshal and the earl of Leicester were beyond reproach as men of honour. When the former died, after strenuous service in England on behalf of John and his son, Philip, then growing old after a reign of nearly forty years, spoke of him as the most loyal man of his time. 5

1. Teulet, Layettes, i, 251.

2. Ibid, p. 250. The count of Meulan's position, as a baron in France, Normandy, and England, as the father of a traitor to John, and as a recent deserter from Philip, was peculiarly difficult.

3. Cart. Norm., no. 74, p. 14; Actes, no. 818; Guill. le Maréchal, iii, 177; above, p. 383.

4. Guill. le Maréchal, iii, 178. 5. Ibid, iii, 268.

The earl of Leicester, the hero of the siege of Rouen in 1193, had suffered imprisonment and the loss of the important honour of Paci, in the service of Richard. It is interesting, therefore, to find that these men did not regard their action in 1204 as inconsistent with their duty to John; and it is still more significant that the Marshal, in spite of his devotion to John's interests, braved the king's anger by refusing to fight against his lord Philip, and found support in his refusal. His action was pedantic and unnecessary.2 It pushed the doctrine of feudal loyalty further than Philip could have expected; it was, for

, instance, quite contrary to the principle of duty to the liege-lord which Philip had tried to impose upon the count of Flanders. Possibly the Marshal was more impressed than his fellows were by the condemnations passed upon John by the French court. Yet, however exceptional his conduct was, there could be no more striking evidence of the fact that a great warrior and statesman of the twelfth century, whose loyalty was

1. For the scene between John and the Marshal, one of the most striking passages in the poem, see Ibid, ii, 180–1. It appears from the charter of 1220 (Cart. Norm., no. 285, p. 43), by which the Marshal's son gave the Norman lands to his brother, that father and son did liege homage to Philip : "et ego facerem pro eo domino regi Francorum hominagium ligium citra mare et quicquid deberem eo modo et in tali puncto in quo predictus Guillelmus pater meus fecit ei hominagium," etc.

2. The situation was, however, difficult. John was undoubtedly the Marshal's liege lord, but from the last note it would appear that Philip had put him in the apparently impossible position of having two liege lords, one for his lands on each side of the Channel. The later solution of the difficulty is given by Bracton, f. 427b (ed. Rolls Series, vi, 374, 376). In the event of war, those vassals who held land both in England and France were expected to serve in person with the lord whom they generally served, and to provide the service due to the other. In other words the technical existence of two liege lords was ignored. The Marshal's sons were permitted to travel with five knights in Normandy, on condition that they and the knights took an oath that they would do no harm to king or realm. They were also required to surrender any of their fortresses on demand. See Cart. Norm., nos. 1120, 285, 286 ; pp. 304, 43–4.

undisputed, might pass through the world without the faintest conception of what we call patriotism, or nationality, or treason. The 'rector Angliae' had no country, was French rather than English in mind and habits, and learned his political duties from feudal law books.

It is helpful to remember that the Marshal was also a great landholder in Ireland, where the only standard of duty possible for the Anglo-Norman mind was feudal. The state of Ireland during John's reign reminds one of the kingdom of Jerusalem rather than that of England or Normandy. The settlers had no duties to the king outside Ireland, unless they held lands elsewhere. Ireland was not a part of the Angevin empire in the sense that England was. Again, the Marshal was a very important Lord Marcher of Wales, where the feudal jurist could always find scope for his reasoning. When, five years after the loss of Normandy, John's fury was aroused against his old favourite, William of Briouze,2 the Marshal sheltered the fugitive on his estate at Wicklow. The justiciar, John Gray, demanded him as a traitor to the king. But William of Briouze was the Marshal's lord, probably for some land in Wales, and the Marshal replied that, although he was ignorant of the king's anger against his guest, he could not surrender one whom it had been his duty to entertain. He also would be guilty of treason if he were to deliver his lord to the justiciar.3

According to Bracton, the Marshal's double position

1. See John's letter to Ireland, printed below, p. 480.
2. Below, p. 468.
3. Guill. Maréchal, ll. 14224–6 :

"Li evesques me deit guerre

Chose dont requeste me vienge

Ne qu'a traison apartienge.”
On the incident, see Orpen, Ireland under the Normans, ii, 239.

[ocr errors]

was shared by many others. Indeed, Philip expressed

? a willingness to respect the tenure of all those who did him homage for their Norman lands before a certain date.

Many tears were afterwards shed by those who did not avail themselves of this opportunity in time.” 2 The Picard chronicler who wrote the “ History of the Dukes of Normandy," while confirming this statement to some extent, throws a very valuable light upon the state of John's court during these perplexing days. He makes it quite clear that the Marshal's position must have been exceptional and forces us to suspect the statement of his biographer that the king consented to his arrangement with Philip. John was evidently very anxious as well as angry. He had been, so he thought, unjustly and treacherously despoiled of his duchy and now he was faced by a request from the earl Warenne and other barons that they should be allowed to do homage to the man who had robbed him. The barons, says the chronicler, assured the king that, although their bodies might owe service to their lord of France, their hearts would most certainly be his. “The king said that he would confer on the matter. Accordingly he one day assembled his council, and after laying before them the barons' request, demanded their advice. Baldwin of Béthune, count of Aumâle, spoke first. He was a very valiant gentleman, and a loyal and good knight; but he was so ill with the gout that he was unable to walk, and had to be carried. He had much weight with King John, who had always found him loyal and true. “Is it true, sire,” he said, “that they have asked leave to go to the king of France to beg for the lands which they have lost in Normandy, and that, while

1. Bracton, De Legibus, f. 427b (ed. Rolls Series, vi, 374), “sed tamen sunt aliqui Francigenae in Francia, qui sunt ad fidem utriusque (regis), et semper fuerunt ante Normanniam deperditam et post, et qui placitant hic et ibi ea ratione qua sunt ad fidem utriusque,-sicut W. comes Marescallus et (sic) manens in Anglia, et M. de Feynes manens in Francia, et alii plures.” On the Fiennes lands see Exc. e rotulis Finium, i, 415.

2. Guill. le Maréchal, iii, 176.

their bodies will be for the king of France against you, their hearts are to be for you?" "Yes," said the king; " that is what they ask.” Well,” the count replied, “I do not know what you intend to do; but were I in your place, and were their bodies against me and their hearts for me, if the hearts whose bodies were against me came into my hands, I would throw them into the privy." These words caused much laughter and prevailed, so that what had been asked came to nothing. But the king afterwards gave to the earl Warenne, who was his cousin, the town of Stamford-a very fair place-in exchange for the land which he had lost in Normandy.” 1

Hence the number of those who served two masters was few. Philip proceeded with his policy of confiscation, and the society of the two countries was severed. In 1244 Saint Louis put an end to the slight connection which still survived. 2

A few general considerations, suggested by the foregoing enquiry, may bring this study of Norman politics and society to a close.

Gerald of Wales, in his De principis instructione, describes an interesting conversation which he had with Henry II's great justiciar, Ranulf de Glanvill. Why, Gerald asked, does Normandy defend herself less

1. Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d'Angleterre, ed. Michel, pp. 99–100. The grant to the earl Warenne is referred to in Rot. Pat., 52b, in letters of April 19, 1205 : "sciatis quod commisimus dilecto et fideli nostro W. comiti Warenne Graham et Stanford cum pertinenciis habenda quousque recuperavit terram suam Normannie vel quousque ei alibi fecerimus competens excambium. Ita tamen quod non possit talliare homines de Stanford nisi per preceptum nostrum." A note is added after the enrolment—“liberate non fuerunt littere iste.” The date, it will be noticed, was just before the time fixed by Philip for the Marshal's homage, and probably fixes the date of the decree in which Philip announced the addition of the lands of the earl Warenne and others to his demesne (Cart. Norm., no. 113, p. 20. Above, p. 415).

2. See Appendix II for some of the families which survived in both England and Normandy after 1204.


« PreviousContinue »