« PreviousContinue »
a visible change for the worse when Lanfranc died (1089 a.d.) It was no slight evil that the vast estates of the archbishopric were sequestered by the king; the see left vacant; and the indignant monks of Christ-church portioned off on a small allowance from their own property. The injury to public morality became greater, when every bishopric was successively treated in the same way. But worst of all was the replacement of Lanfranc as minister by the worthless Ranulf Flambard, who had settled in England under Edward the Confessor, had been a landowner under the conqueror, and, as administrator of the vast diocesan estates of Lincoln, had made himself thoroughly acquainted with the country. Ranulf's restless love of mischief was united to unquestionable ability. He drew down the curses of high and low on his head by proposing a fresh census, and more accurate measurement of rateable property. In the old survey, loose averages had been taken; there was no doubt but that line and rule would give very different results. The scheme was adopted, but never executed; Rufus died too soon, and his successors were more careful of popularity. In the court, Ranulf's overbearing insolence at last provoked a plot to carry him off to sea; he was actually kidnapped, but succeeded in bribing his captors to set him free, and re-appeared at court like a vampire demanding fresh victims. It was Ranulf who devised the doctrine that bishoprics were ordinary fiefs, which the king might give or withhold at pleasure, and might dispose of at his own terms. He obtained his reward in the rich bishopric of Durham, which was granted to him for a thousand pounds-a small price for such a benefice, but enough to qualify Ranulf as a son of Simon Magus.
William Rufus himself impressed his contemporaries in a manner which is vividly reflected in their histories. His person was not remarkable; he was a short, square-shouldered, fat man, with a ruddy complexion and light flax-like hair;1 his
1 As Malmesbury's words are express, "colore rufo, crine subflavo" (lib. iv., p. 504), it is probable that the misnomer "Rufus" attached to William as a term of reproach, justified by his complexion. "The red man is a
CHARACTER OF RUFUS.
eyes blood-shot and of no certain colour; his forehead irregularly marked. He stammered in speaking, and frequent fits of passion increased the infirmity. At once greedy of money and reckless of expense, he squandered large sums upon dress, and vied with the fops of his time in costly boots, curving upwards from the sole, whose price, to the great gain of his servant, was for ever fixed at a mark. What revelry went on in the palace, may be judged from the fact that the use of lamps at night was given up; the deeds done would not bear light. The king's fierce passion did not even spare those whom a convent sheltered, and his visits were dangerous to every beautiful recluse. There were worse abominations of which men talked privately. But his contemporaries were most horrified by his impiety. Fifty Englishmen accused of poaching had passed the ordeal of fire; Rufus declared that God was no judge of offences against the game-laws, and punished the men notwithstanding. He took money from a Jew to convert his son back again from Christianity; the young proselyte held out against the king's arguments; and William reluctantly gave back half his fee, keeping half for his advocacy. Once when the Jews of London were bringing gifts, he encouraged them to discuss their differences with the bishops and chaplains of his court, protesting that he was open to conviction, and would turn Jew if the Hebrew party prevailed. A stormy discussion ensued, and the terrified churchmen are said to have won the field more by noise than by argument. Yet the king had some glimpses of a better nature. He was liberal in rewarding those who served him. He took into his service and paid handsomely a soldier who had unhorsed him in battle. A rebellion in Maine had been subdued, and its leader, Hélie, count of Mans, was brought before the angry king under promise of liberty. An offer of homage was
rogue," say the proverbs ascribed to Alfred; “quarrelsome, a thief, king of mischief." Judas was painted with red hair.-Kemble's Salomon and Saturn, pp. 248-255. Compare a Latin fable about the fox and the goat, which ends with the moral, "Monet nos hæc fabula rufos evitare."-Percy Society, vol. viii., pp. 168, 169.
scornfully rejected. "When I am once free," said Hélie, “I know what I will do." William shook his fist in his face, "Go at once and do thy worst. I will never claim it as a favour that I admitted thee to terms." Next year, 1099 A.D., Hélie recovered his old town. The news reached William in the New Forest. He rode at once to the coast, and put out in an open skiff through a stormy sea; the captain in vain expostulated: "Fool," said William, " did you ever hear that a king of England had been drowned ?" His sudden arrival secured him the last success of his life: Mans was re-taken. In fact, in spite of his vices, William was a man of energy and ability. No conspiracy against him succeeded. The Northumbrian earl, Robert of Mowbray, had once organized a revolt, 1095 A.D.: before it could be matured, the king appeared before Tynemouth castle, and waited there two months till it was stormed. The count was enticed out of Bamborough and taken; and his wife was compelled to surrender the castle by a threat that her husband should be blinded before the walls.1 Roger expiated his crimes in prison. One of his confederates, who offered to clear himself by the duel, but proved faint-hearted or unsuccessful, was barbarously mutilated; another, William of Aldery, who had stood godfather with the king, was hanged protesting his innocence. Had William lived longer, he might have compensated the people for the gross lawlessness of his favourites and officers, by crushing the power of the great nobility. But the war with feudalism demanded more space than a single life, and a more steady purpose than the selfish interest of a single man.
The wars of this reign are mostly of small importance. Malcolm Canmore of Scotland had married the sister of Edgar Ætheling, and filled his court with Norman and English exiles. He ventured, during William's absence in Normandy, 1091 A.D., to ravage the northern counties; the English king
1 She had been married only three months. Madonna Catrina, when called upon by Cæsar Borgia to deliver Forli under a similar threat, replied that she might get another husband, but could never get another castle.-Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra i dieci Decadi.
SCOTCH AND WELSH WARS.
prepared to avenge the insult signally, but commenced operations too late in the autumn; a storm destroyed most of his fleet, and hunger and cold made fearful havoc among the cavalry. Robert, who was now in England, and Edgar Ætheling, whom William had despoiled and banished, interposed their mediation in time to prevent a great battle at Leeds. Malcolm consented to do homage, and was promised the English manors and pension which he had enjoyed under the conqueror. But the feud between the two princes was unappeased. Next year William made a military progress to the north, witnessed its desolation, and planted a colony at Carlisle.1 Some new quarrel seems to have risen out of this; and when the Scotch king next visited the English court, he was required to stand a trial before his peers, and was not admitted to William's presence. He retired in disgust, and again invaded Northumbria, where the earl of the district surprised and slew him. His death was the signal for civil war in Scotland. The Gaelic and Pictish populations tried to expel the Anglo-Norman intruders. The national party was headed by Donald Bean, the king's brother, who usurped the sovereignty; while Duncan, the late king's son, was replaced by English arms on the throne. After many troubles, during which Duncan was murdered, an English army under Edgar Ætheling secured the succession to Malcolm's children, 1097 A.D. The influence of the Anglo-Norman immigrants was, however, checked for a time. William was less successful in his expeditions against Wales. The natives spread over the border counties, burning and pillaging, but retired before the heavy-armed English troops, and allowed them to penetrate into the wilds of the principality, where no plunder could be carried off, where no battle-field was to be
1 The Saxon Chronicle, 1091 A.D., says: "King Malcolm ** went with his force out of Scotland into Lothere in England." Dr. Lingard interprets this of "the Lothians," and says, very truly, that all the old province of Valentia was still considered English. It was so in diplomacy, but not, I think, in fact. Anyhow the words of Florence (vol. i., p. 28), “provincia Loidis," "the district of Leeds," seem to give an easier solution. The Chronicle distinctly mentions a second expedition by William northwards next year, and connects the colonizing of Carlisle with it.
MORTGAGE OF NORMANDY.
won, and where hundreds of active guerillas were always hanging upon the flanks and cutting off stragglers. The king found that these campaigns were useless, and contented himself with strengthening the military frontier of the west. The last event of these wars under William was the capture of the isle of Anglesey by the earls of Chester and Shrewsbury. In their barbarous fury the conquerors mutilated their captives, tearing out tongues and eyes, and even dragging a priest out of his church. Suddenly a Norwegian fleet appeared off the coast; king Magnus, having conquered the Orkneys and Hebrides, was preparing to add Mona to the isles of his empire, and the first arrow, shot from the king's own hand, pierced the sacrilegious earl of Shrewsbury. Yet Magnus did not follow up his success; and though the Normans were at last driven out of the island, (1098 A.D.,) it was by a revolt of the exasperated natives.
But the chance that threw all Normandy into William's hands, more than made up for any petty losses. He had never fulfilled the compact by which he was bound to indemnify Robert, and had extended his own possessions in Normandy on the side of Brittany. Robert appealed to arms, and was unsuccessful. But in 1096 A.D. all Europe
was ringing with the cry to arms to deliver the Holy Sepulchre. France, Flanders, and Normandy were the countries in which the cross was most readily taken. Robert's impulsive nature was kindled with the new enthusiasm; William was unaffected except by the prospect of personal advantage. Between two men thus minded, a bargain was easily struck; Robert mortgaged the government of Normandy during five years for a sum of ten thousand marks, and departed
1 Orderic assigns this engagement to the coast, near the mouth of the Conway. Vol. iv., p. 31. But Magnus chiefly concerned himself with the isles, which he visited as a conqueror, and not as a plunderer, planting colonies and building towns.-Orderic, vol. iv., p. 193. Even on this occasion he is said to have hoisted a red shield as a sign of peace, so that the Norman attack was unprovoked. For full details of these events, see Girald. Camb. Itin. Camb., lib. ii., chap. 7; Flor. Wig., vol. ii., p. 42; Brut y Tywysogion, 1096 a.D.