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SITES CHOSEN FOR BARONIAL CASTLES.
baron, following the example of the Roman general, selected that position to which nature had given the best means of security, which provided against sudden approach or surprise, and, in cases of extremity, offered some facilities for escape, of which various instances are recorded in history. The sites chosen were generally on capes or promontories overlooking the sea; on high banks protected by a river; or on isolated hills, where connecting valleys, by forming a natural fosse, would interpose a chasm between the besiegers and the besieged. These natural positions were readily taken advantage of by the warlike baron; while the difficulty of access could be increased by artificial means, such as damming up the streams which flowed through the ravine, and thus transforming it into a temporary lake. The situation of Rochester Castle is partly an example of this kind: the high ground on which it stands, and its immediate access to the river, were natural recommendations not to be lost sight of; and which the founder took every opportunity of turning to the best account. In castle-building the general maxim was
“ Where the land o'erlooks the flood,
Steep with rocks and fringed with wood;
Pile on high the feudal hall.” We shall now quote one or more authorities respecting the Castle of Rochester. “Neere unto the church,” says Camden," there standeth, over the river, an olde castle fortified both by art and situation, which, as the report goeth, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earle of Kent, built; but it was no doubt King William the First that built it; for in Domesday Book we reade thus: The Bishop of Roucester holdeth in Elesford for exchange of the land on which the castle is seated. Yet certain it is that Bishop Odo, when his hope descended of a doubtful change of the state, held this against King William Rufus; all which time there passed a proclamation through England, that whosoever would not be reputed a 'niding,' should repair to the recovery of Rochester Castle. Whereupon, the youth, fearing that name as most reproachful and opprobrious in that age, swarmed thither in such numbers, that Odo was enforced to yield the place, lose his dignity, and abjure the realme.”
But concerning the reconstruction of the “ Kentishmen's Castle,” Camden quotes the text of Roffensis, an ancient manuscript of the Church of Rochester, which narrates the following particulars :—“When King William the Second would not confirm the gift of Lanfranck, unless Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, would give unto the king an hundred pounds of deniers; at last, by the intercession of Sir Robert Fitzsimon, and Henry Earl of Warwick, the king granted it thus far forth in lieu for the money which he demanded for grant
of the manor, that Bishop Gundulph, because he was skilful and well experienced in architecture and masonrie, should build for the king, at his own
proper charges, a castle of stone. In the end, when as the bishops were hardlie brought to give their consent unto it before the king, Bishop Gundulph built up the castle full and whole at his owne cost.—Hence the name of Gundulph's Tower.—And a little after, King Henrie the First granted unto the church of Canterbury and to the archbishops the keeping thereof, and the constableship, to hold ever after, as Florentius of Worcester saith, yea and a licence withal to build in the same a towre for themselves. Since which time it was besieged by one or two great sieges, but then especially when the barons with their alarmes made all England to shake;
and Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, assaulted it most fiercely, though in vaine, and cut down the wooden bridge, which was afterwards repaired.”
To the historical names and events thus connected with the castle we shall briefly advert. Odo, whose name is so closely associated with the castle and the county of Kent, was one of the military prelates who followed the victorious standard of King William, pronounced a benediction on his army at the battle of Hastings, and shared largely in the plunder of the vanquished. He was half-brother, by the mother's side, to the Conqueror, and could handle the sword as well as the crosier. William, to save the bishop and secure a steady adherent to the crown, made him Earl of Kent, and along with the title conferred many other substantial favours. “But," says an old authority, “he was by nature of a bad disposition and busie head, bent alwaies to sow sedition and to trouble the state; whereupon, he was committed to prison*
* Odonem fratrem suum de proditione in se accu- quod “clericus et episcopus esset;" respondit archiesatum, cepit et incarcerari præcepit, (fol. 11. ii. A.D. piscopus—“non episcopum Baiocensem apprehendes, 1078.) Cum olim Willielmus rex senior coram Lan- sed Cantic comitem.” Hujus itaque consilio Odo franco conqueretur se ab Odone fratre suo episcopo custodiæ est. Matth. Par. Hist. Angl. fol. 14, deseri, tum Lanfrancus; “cur," inquit, "apprehensum 1088. See further traits of this prelate in the same vinculis non coerces ?” Rege autem respondente ; authority.
BISHOP ODO-EARL OF KENT.
by a subtile distinction as Earle of Kent, and not as Bishop of Bayeux, in regard of his holie orders; and afterwards, by a most dangerous rebellion which he raised, he was, by his nephew King William Rufus, deprived of his places of dignity, lost all his goods in England, and abjured the realme."
The rebellion in which he was concerned, and which proved fatal to this ambitious and intriguing prelate, is matter of local history. He was a formidable partisan, a man formed to be the leader of a conspiracy: he had many friends among the most powerful of the barons; and when Duke Robert promised to come over with an army to wrest the sceptre from his brother Rufus, Odo engaged to do the rest. At the Easter festival, Rufus kept his court at Winchester, and there he invited all the great lords to attend him.* Odo and his friends were also there, and took that opportunity of arranging his plans. From the festival he departed to raise the standard of Robert in his old earldom of Kent; while Hugh de Grantmesnil, Roger Bigod, Robert de Mowbray, Roger de Montgomery, William Bishop of Durham, and Geoffrey of Coutance, repaired to do the same in their respective fiefs and governments. Thus a sudden and dangerous rising took place in many parts of England. But the insurgents lost time; while the army from Normandy, which Odo was instructed to provide for, was slow in making its appearance.f Rufus, in the meantime, on hearing that warlike preparations were going forward in the very heart of his kingdom, permitted his subjects to fit out cruisers, which rendered him very important services; for the Normans calculated that there was no royal navy to oppose them, and that they would be received on landing by their confederates. The followers of Odo and his party began to cross the Channel in small companies, and so many were intercepted and destroyed by the English cruisers, that the attempted invasion was abandoned. The bishop, however, had fortified the castles of Rochester and Pevensey, and, fearful that no assistance might reach him from Normandy, prepared to stand a siege. Rufus now issued the proclamation already quoted—namely, “Let every man who is not a nithingť (cipher) in the martial catalogue of his country, quit home and hearth, and hasten to join the standard of his sovereign!" To this appeal thirty thousand men responded,-men of the old Saxon blood, whom the conciliatory measures recently adopted by Rufus had brought over to his cause. With this powerful army he marched against the bishop, who having delegated the command of Rochester Castle to Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, lay in the strong fortress of Pevensey, in expectation that Duke Robert and his Normans might still make good their landing on that part of the coast. After a siege of seven weeks, Odo was obliged to surrender; and on taking an oath that he would place Rochester Castle in the king's hands, Rufus pardoned this act of rebellion, and dismissed him, with an escort of Norman horse, to Rochester, there to fulfil his engagement.* By a preconcerted plan, however, between Eustace and himself, means were taken to evade the performance of his oath; for while reciting the set form of words by which he demanded the surrender of the castle, Eustace, pretending great indignation at the proposal, arrested the bishop and his guards on the spot, as traitors to Robert, and carried them into the castle. The scene was well acted; and Odo, trusting to be screened from the accusation of perjury by the compulsory means employed against him, remained in the fortress as a witness, and, no doubt, an active partisan in the cause.t
* History of England, Civil and Military.
him, Frencisce and Englisce, of porte and of upplande." + Ibid.—Pictor. Hist.-Paris.
Literally, “ordered that every man who is not a (In Anglo-Saxon, a niddering, or an-nithing— mere nothing, be he French or English, in town or " one of the strongest terms of contempt,” says country, should repair to him." Hist. of Eng. Civil Camden. The original expressions are, “Baed that and Military Transact. vol. i. 394. Nithing, -quod aelc man that waere un-nithing, sceolde cuman to Latinè nequam sonat : Paris, f. 15. .
Exasperated by such treachery, Rufus soon environed the castle with a powerful army of infantry and horsemen. The castle, however, was strong and well garrisoned: five hundred Norman knights, without counting the meaner sort, fought on its battlements; and after a long siege the place was not taken by assault, but forced to surrender either by pestilential disease, by famine, or probably by both. The English, who had shown great ardour during the siege, would have granted no terms of capitulation; but the Norman portion of the king's army, who had friends and relations in the castle, entertained very different sentiments, and at their earnest entreaty, though not without difficulty, Rufus allowed the besieged to march out with their arms and horses, and freely depart the land. The unconscionable bishop, however, would have included in the capitulation a proviso that the king's army should
* Episcopum vero in posteriori castello Pevensey muro prospicientis, vultum episcopo cum militum interceptum, vinculis mancipavit. Milites autem verbis non convenire percipientes, ocyus apertis valvis regii ad castrum Roffenso illum ducentes, ab illis qui exeuntes, omnes cum episcopo milites vinctos reducastro præerant, ingressum postulant: hoc enim domi- cunt . ,. Obsessi autem longiorem obsidionem ferre num suum velle, hoc regem absentem jubere dicunt. non valentes, castellum regi reddiderunt. Par. Hist. Erant autem tune in castro illo omnis fere juventutis Angl. fol. 15. Angliæ et Normanniæ nobilitas, tres scilicet filii History of England Civil and Military Transact. comitis Rogeri, et Eustachius comes Bononie, junior, vol. i. cum multis aliis . . . Illi vero qui in castro erant ex Ibid. p. 395,
SECOND SIEGE OF THE CASTLE.
not cause their bands to play in sign of triumph as the garrison marched out; but to this the king replied, in great anger, that he would not make such a concession for a thousand marks of gold. The partisans of Robert then came forward with colours lowered, and the king's music playing the while. When Odo appeared, there was a louder crash; the trumpets screamed; and the English, scarcely able to keep their hands from his person, shouted as he passed—“Oh for a halter to hang this perjured murderous bishop !"* Such was Odo's last appearance in the earldom of Kent.
The next important epoch in the history of this fortress is the Siege, which carries us forward to the reign of King John-a reign of tumult and civil distraction, but relieved in its darker features by events which laid the foundation of British freedom. But the barons, as Hume has justly observed, having once obtained the Great Charter, seem to have been lulled into a fatal security. They took no rational measures, in case of the introduction of a foreign force, for reassembling their armies. The king was from the first master of the field, and immediately laid siege to the Castle of Rochester,
• History of Eng. Civ. and Milit. Transact. vol. i. 395, quoting the authority of Thierry, Chron. Sax. Oderic.
Vitalis, &c. Also, Selecta Monum. 203–280. Paris, f. 15. 8.