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306

HENRY'S EARLY TRAINING

authors, whom she loved to quote, and in ministering with her own hands to the wants of the sick and poor. The Norman nobles regarded her with contempt. When she first appeared at court by the side of her clerkly husband, the rough soldiers who remembered the wars of the first William and the orgies of the second, jeered openly at "Godrik Godfadyr and his wife Godiva." Henry laughed grimly at the raillery; he never showed his anger out of place, and he never laid it by.

The conqueror's youngest son had the stature and general features of his family; but the high forehead, inherited from his father, the dark complexion and quiet thoughtful eyes peculiar to himself, indicated a statesman rather than a soldier. Thrown early upon the world, Henry had been trained in a rough school. He had spent a large portion of his inheritance in buying the government of a part of Normandy from Robert. Robert discharged the obligation by throwing him into prison. A reconciliation was effected, and Henry did good service against Rufus, assisting to suppress the revolt of Rouen, and throwing its leader, Conan, with his own hands, over the battlements. A few weeks passed, and the fickle Robert had united with William to besiege Henry in his castle of Mont St. Michel. That Robert behaved with knightly courtesy in refusing to starve his brother out, is true; but he continued the siege till the castle was surrendered; and Henry spent the next few years of his life without money or men, with a beggarly household of one squire and a priest. He was probably the better scholar, but not the milder man, for these experiences. As king, he soon made himself respected; he was a pleasant companion at times; but no man could withstand "the imperious thunder of his voice;" and it was remarked that he was inscrutable: his praise was often a sure sign that he meant to ruin. He brooked no rivalry and forgave no insult; the old favourite, who had boasted that he could build as grand a mo

1 See a curious letter from Matilda to Anselm, in which she quotes Cicero de Senectute, and warns him not to follow the examples of Pythagoras, Antisthenes, and Socrates, in excessive fasting.-Anselm, Epist., lib. iii., 55.

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nastery as the king, was ruined by suits at law, and died brokenhearted. The foreign knight who satirized Heny in songs was blinded, in spite of the earl of Flanders's intercession, and dashed out his brains in despair. Where the king's ambition was interested, he was careless what suffering he caused; he oppressed the people with intolerable taxes; and punished one of his own daughters for rebellion by dragging her through a frozen moat.3 Yet Henry possessed merits of a high order. He was not moral, but he was not shamelessly vicious; he was moderate in dress and food; his conversation was pure, and his court decorous.* He honoured learning and talent, formed a menagerie at Woodstock, and promoted the formation of a vernacular Norman literature. He advanced the fortunes of Roger the Great, whom he had chosen chaplain for his skill in hurrying through the mass, but who proved a first-rate justiciary, and adorned his see with the splendid cathedral of Salisbury. He brought over Gilbert the Universal, the first scholar north of the Alps, to be bishop of London. A great historical school flourished in his reign, and the zeal of his son, the earl of Gloucester, for these studies, may well have been derived from a father who looked back with affection on his old "tumultuary" scholarship through all the troubles of his life. Nor was he indifferent to religion; he preferred being served by good men if good men would do his will. He was clear-sighted enough to perceive the importance of uniformity in standards. He fixed

1 Robert Bloet, bishop of Lincoln. He was a loose liver, but a capable man, and had been justiciary of England.—Huntingdon de Mundi Contemptu; Ang. Sac., vol. ii., pp. 694, 695.

2 Luc de la Barre-en-Ouche, who was not even a vassal.-Orderic, vol. iv., pp. 460, 461.

3 Juliana de Breteuil, a natural daughter. Her husband had blinded the son of a royal officer, and Henry had allowed the injured man to retaliate on Juliana's two children.-Orderic, vol. iv., pp. 336-338.

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4 Malmesbury's praise of Henry as "obscœnitatum cupidinearum expers (lib. v., p. 642), reads a little oddly at first by the side of Huntingdon's invective, and in contrast with the known fact that the king had fifteen natural children. But Malmesbury only meant that Henry was not tainted by the monstrous vice then prevalent, "advena delectatio."

308

WAR AND PEACE WITH ROBERT.

the length of the English yard, it is said, by his own arm; and at some immediate hardship he substituted payments in coin, which was instantly smelted down, for the payments in kind by which the taxes had been discharged. Above all, he had a statesman-like love of order; and devoted himself to the cares of government, when his ambition was satisfied by the conquest of Normandy. He was called by one who survived him: "The peace of his country and the father of his people."

The first six years of Henry's reign were occupied with the establishment of his power and the conquest of Normandy. Robert had returned to his province, with a beautiful Italian wife, Sibylla of Conversana,3 with the fame of a crusade, and with treasure won in the east. He would probably have remained inactive in spite of all these advantages, but a visit from Ranulf Flambard, who had been consigned to the Tower, and contrived to escape from it, determined him to assert his rights to England. The invasion was skilfully managed; the support of a large party in England secured; Henry's ships intercepted or induced to desert, and a landing finally effected at Portsmouth, while a large army waited to oppose it at Pevensey. But a fresh battle of Hastings would have been fatal to the Norman ascendancy; the barons mediated; and Henry, as the English candidate, was allowed to retain the kingdom, while Robert received in compensation all his brother's possessions in Normandy, and a yearly income of two thousand pounds of silver from the English treasury. Robert was thus for the first time in possession of the whole of the duchy. Yet the terms were better than Henry had any right to expect, as they set aside the

1 Dial. de Scac., lib. i., c. 7.

2 Gesta Steph., p. 1.

3 The beautiful legend, commonly told of queen Eleanor, that she saved her husband's life by sucking a poisoned wound, is related by Sylvius of Sibylla. He adds that Robert visited Apulia, in order to consult the famous physicians of Salerno, who addressed a book on dietetics to him, which is still extant. This gives some probability to the narrative, and two crusading princes may easily have been confounded. Dr. Lingard has shown that the story cannot apply to Edward I. Schol. Salern. Sylv., Præf., cap. 3.

SUBJUGATION OF THE NOBLES.

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old treaty which Rufus had made with his brother. The king owed his success chiefly to the support of the earl of Leicester, whom Robert had once thrown into prison, and of Anselm, who threatened to put the duke of Normandy under ban. Henry now took vengeance upon the insurgent barons. He singled out Robert de Belesme, earl of Shrewsbury, at once the most dangerous and the least popular, and summoned him before the court of his peers on forty-five different charges. The king and Robert were old enemies. The first town Henry ever possessed had been Domfront in Normandy, which called him in to defend it against the earl's intolerable oppression; and Henry had stipulated in his late treaty that he should still retain that one place in the duchy. Finding that his conviction was decided on, Robert quitted the court, and rode off to his castles, fortifying Bridgenorth, but taking shelter in Arundel. Henry shut him up there by a chain of forts, and invested Bridgenorth with his whole forces, buying off the Welsh, on whose support the earl had relied, and pressing the siege with the artillery of the times. The terrified townsmen forced the garrison to surrender: and the soldiers of Arundel followed their example, only stipulating for the earl's safe passage out of England. The king's complete success was very much owing to the enthusiasm of his English troops, and was far from satisfactory to the barons. He followed it up by fining some of his old opponents and banishing others. Among these latter was William de Warenne, earl of Surrey, who repaired to Robert's court, and entreated his good offices with the king. Robert imprudently crossed the channel to remonstrate with his brother on this violation of the treaty. The duke was honourably received, but it was privately hinted to him that he had entered the country without a passport, was suspected of stirring up revolt, and likely to be imprisoned. In public the two brothers affected friendship. But Henry complained

' Domfront had transferred its allegiance to him 1092 A.D.-Orderic, vol. iii., pp. 384, 385. Had he given it up, it would almost certainly have reverted to Robert de Belesme.

310

ROBERT'S WEAKNESS AND FOLLY.

bitterly that his most dangerous enemies, such as Robert de Belesme, were invested with estates in Normandy in flagrant violation of the treaty which provided that neither should harbour the other's enemies. Robert was terrified, and promised

to reform all of which the king complained, while Henry agreed to pardon the earl of Surrey. With singular baseness, Henry instructed his queen to ask Robert to give her up his English pension and the duke, at once prodigal of money and doubtful if a refusal might not endanger his liberty, complied with her request.1 The royal greed of money did not stick at trifles. When Magnus, the last great sea-king, was slain in Ireland, he left behind him an enormous sum, it is said 20,000 lbs. of silver, in the hands of a citizen of Lincoln, who had been his banker: the king imprisoned the merchant, and confiscated the money.

Robert's ransom having been paid, he was allowed to return into Normandy. But his want of firmness in England had not added to his prestige; his wife, Sibylla, who blended Italian state-craft with womanly gentleness, was poisoned by a rival; and the helpless and vicious duke, now about fifty, abandoned himself to loose women and worthless men.? The disorders of his court are incredible; it is said he was plundered till he often lacked bread to eat, and was forced to lie in bed from the want of clothes to put on. His wary brother was watching the opportunity. Before long the cruelties of Robert de Belesme had become intolerable. He was known as Robert the Devil throughout Normandy. His sport was to impale men and women; he once put his hand under the hood of a child whom he held at the font, and scooped out its eyes in mere wantonness. The sense that he was detested made him moodily suspicious as well as barbarous. All Normandy and the duke himself confederated against this monster. But his skill and fortune protected him; he captured several men of

I have followed the account of Orderic, which seems to me the most probable.-Orderic, vol. iv., pp. 161-163.

2 Gul. Gemit., lib. vii., c. 13; Orderic, vol. iv., pp. 104, 184.

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