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When the Battle of Hastings had secured a vacant throne to William the Conqueror,* Brictric was among those patriotic chiefs who survived that decisive field, and afterwards retired to the banks of the Severn, to concert
measures for the recovery of the Saxon throne, or to bury his vain regrets in the bosom of his faithful friends and retainers. By one of those strange accidents, however, which frustrate all preconcerted schemes, Brictric's hopes of freedom were completely blasted. Great as the grief of Maud had been at his abruptly quitting her father's court in Flanders, as stated in the preceding note, it was not of long duration ; for the Duke of Normandy having shortly after solicited her hand, and as such a union offered her no distant prospect of avenging herself, she at once assented. The marriage was solemnized. She was carried in triumph to Normandy; and now, when the subjugation of
England had been effected, she did not lose the opportunity thereby afforded of resenting the slight which the impolitic Brictric had offered to her beauty. He was accordingly denounced as an enemy to the new dynasty; and the strongest argument produced against him being that he was a brave man, with a broad tract of country which he called his own, the evidence in proof of his disaffection to the Conqueror was conclusive. Maud, the queen, too, was actively employed in expediting the measures instituted against him
Could she forgive him !—no! it was her duty
To crush a wretch that could resist such beauty. One night, therefore, while returning from vespers, Brictric was seized at the door of his own manor of Hanley, and sent under a Norman guard to Winchester, where he pined for some time, oppressed with the double weight of degradation and imprisonment, and at length died without issue. His estates, in the meantime, had been given to Queen Maud, who enjoyed their revenues till her death; after which they were incorporated with the other royal demesnes of King William.
At the death of the Conqueror, they passed to his son Rufus, who some time afterwards bestowed Brictric's Honor of Gloucester upon Robert FitzHamon, son of Hamon Dentatus, Lord of Corboile in Normandy, as a reward for many important services performed in defence of his father's crown. +
. In "France Monumentale" there is a full-length portrait of the Conqueror, which bears a striking resemblance to that of Henry the Eighth.
+ Dudg. 154, 50.
· FITZ-HAMON-ABBOT GIRALDUS.
This Robert Fitz-Hamon may be considered the second founder of Tewkesbury Abbey; for, at the instance of Sybil his wife, and Giraldus * Abbot of Cranburne, he rebuilt the church with all its appendages, and endowed it with many large possessions.† In confirmation of the elegance and liberality with which this was accomplished—“It cannot be easily reported,” says William of Malmesbury, on two several occasions,“ how highly Robert Fitz-Hamon exalted this monastery, wherein the beauty of the buildings ravished the eies, and the charity of the holy brotherhood allured the hearts of all who repaired thither.”| This great and pious undertaking is stated to have been accomplished as an act of atonement and public satisfaction for the destruction of the church of Bayeux in Normandy, which King Henry had burnt in order to liberate him from prison; but which, struck with remorse at the sacrilege, he afterwards re-edified and restored.
Having rebuilt the Abbey of Tewkesbury in the manner stated, and finding that it became more and more an object of attraction among pilgrims and devotees, Fitz-Hamon changed the Abbey of Cranburne into a priory, and made it subject from that time forward to the "Blackfriars” of Tewkesbury so called from the black habit worn by monks of the Benedictine order.
But, to preserve the name of the founder in that sanctity to which his piety and good works had given him so just a title, a prior and two monks were left to minister in holy offices at Cranburne, so that the cause of true religion might suffer no detriment by the transfer thus effected. The situation of the New Abbey, in the centre of a fair and fertile country, variegated with beautiful landscapes, curtained almost round by green-wooded hills, and watered by noble rivers, presented all that could be desired for the advancement of those worldly objects in which men so spiritually-minded might be supposed to take any interest. With the completion of the New
. Fuerat Iliud monasterium primitus apud Crane- FILIUS HAMONIS favore suo prouexit, nec facile memoburnam: sed abbatis Giraldi prouisione, pro vicini ratu, quantum cxaltavit vbi et ædificiorum decor, et fluminis opportunitate, et dominicarum terrarum monachorum charitas aduentantium rapit oculos et contiguo. Theokesburiæ aptius locari visum. Will. allicit animos." This is a repetition of what the Malmesbur. (fol. 162.)
same writer has stated in the same words at fol. 89, Ibi nempe (Theokesburiæ) Cænobium Sanctae sect. 28-9. Mariæ, Robertus filius Haimonis, super Sabrinam flu- & Order. Vitalis Histor. Ecclesiæ, p. 598-600. vium construxerat et multis opibus tempore Gu- Giraldus autem in veteri monasterio Sancti Petri lielmi junioris Anglorum regis affatim locupletavit. Monachile Schema devote suscepit . . . . unde post Ord. Vital. Hist. Eccl. 600.
aliquod tempus ad regimen ecclesiasticum canonice His words are, (folio 162, edit. 1596,) “Est et provectus est et Theokesburiæ primus Abbas effecmonachorum Theokesburiæ, quod noviter ROBERTUS tus est.
Abbey prosperity took up her abode under its immediate wing: habitations multiplied, trade was introduced, the produce of the adjoining vale increased with the demand, and the population was rapidly improved. In process of time the abbey was almost surrounded by a thriving town; while money, freely circulated by commerce, as well as by the better class of pilgrims, improved the general appearance of the habitations, and gave an air of cheerfulness and prosperity to the town and abbey.
Fitz-Hamon, who just lived long enough to witness the first prosperous days of the abbey, being general of the king's army in France, repaired to the siege of Falaise, * in Normandy, where he received a wound on the temple, and died shortly after. His remains were carefully brought home and deposited with great solemnity in the Chapter-house of the Abbey, of which the arcade mouldings, vaulted ceiling, pillars, buttresses, and pointed doorway, retain
much of the original beauty. It is now the grammar-school of the place. But in this part of the abbey, hereafter to be described, his relics were not permitted
* Willielm. Malmesbur. fol. 89, ed. 1596. Non ta- † His high titles were-- Prince of Glamorgan, men sine sanguine tantam victoriam consummans Earl of Corboile, Baron of Thorigny and of Granville, multos ex charissimis amisit. Inter quos Rogerium Lord of Gloucester, Bristol, Caerdiff, and Tewkesbury, de Glocestre, probatum militem in obsessione Fa- and near kinsman of the king. But having in 1091 lesij arcubalistæ jactu in capite percussum, præterea made a descent into South Wales, slain its last prince, Robertum filium Waimonis qui conto ictus Rhys ap Tewdwr ,and subdued Glamorgan, he assumed tempora, hebetatusque ingenio non pauco tempore, in his charters the proud title of Conqueror of Wales. quasi captus mente, supervixit. ... Robertus monas- -Hist. of Tewkesb.- Baronage. terium Theokesburiæ suo favore, etc. This compliment is repeated at fol. 162.
EARLDOM OF GLOUCESTER—FITZ-HAMON.
to rest more than a hundred and thirty-four years; they were then removed by Robert, the third abbot of that name, and interred in a plain tomb between two pillars on the right side of the Chancel, which, with the Chapter-house, will be noticed in a subsequent page.
5 One hundred and fifty-six years later, Thomas Parker, the eighteenth
Pabbot, caused the original tomb to be enclosed within a richly-carved chapel, “ satis mirifice tabulatam," and appointed a mass to be celebrated every day for the souls of Robert Fitz-Hamon, and Sybil his wife. By this lady he left issue four daughters, co-heiresses to vast possessions which, during his active services in places of the highest trust under government, had greatly accumulated during the last two reigns. But King Henry, who was averse to seeing the Honor of Gloucester thus subdivided, adopted such arbitrary measures as effectually prevented the execution of the testator's will, and disposed of his daughters in the following manner:-Hawise he made Abbess of Chichester; Cecilia he appointed Abbess of Shaftesbury; Amicia he gave in marriage to his firm adherent, the Earl of Brittany; and to Robert, his natural son, by the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of Glamorgan, he united Mabilia, the eldest. Thus the four daughters of Fitz-Hamon were fairly settled by “royal authority," and the estates concentrated upon his son, Earl Robert, and his descendants. But Mabilia, it appears, expressed some reluctance when this alliance was first proposed by the king, alleging that, as his son Robert had then no baronial title nor high military standing in the country, such a union was neither agreeable to her taste nor suitable to the rank and possessions bequeathed to her by so many illustrious ancestors. These objections, as stated by the monk* of Gloucester, were too reasonable
• Robert of Gloucester, in commemorating these Yea, Damoseill, he sayd, thy lorde shall have a namo objections on the part of the Lady Mabilia, and their for him and for his heires, fayre without blame: removal and adjustment on that of King Henry, gives For ROBERT EARL OF GLOUCESTRE his name shall the following shrewd and ainusing dialogue. The king be, and 'tis having proposed to the heiress, as a state measure, Hee shall be Earl of Gloucestre, and his heirés, I that she should give her hand to his son Robert, the wis. lady, who was fully sensible that the grand charm which made the King suitor for his son was her princely
This declaration on the part of the king having “ heritage," answers him thus:
instantly removed every possible objection, the heiress Mabel. Sir, she saide, ich wote your herte upon
Mabel. Inne this forme, quod shee, ich wole that And suche heritage as ich have, itt were to mee grit
all my thyng be hys. To take a lorde but he hadde any surname.
Robert, a monk of Gloucester, is supposed to have K. Henry. Damoseill, quod the Kingé, thou seest finished his rhyming Chronicle about 1280.-Campwell in thys case,
bell's Essay on English Poetry, note, p. 37. This Sir Robert Fitz-Häyman thi faders name was ; extract from the Chronicle is slightly modernized; As fayre a name he shall have, as you may see, but in Hearne's edit. vol. ii. 431, the reader will find SiR ROBERT LE F112-Roy shall his name be. it in its original purity.
and well grounded to be confuted by the mere art of logic; but the king found a much more speedy and effectual way of removing them, by creating his son Earl and Consul of Gloucester, and installing him in the various high offices therewith connected. Of this earl, as the reader may remember, we have already spoken in a previous division of this work, when adverting to the Empress Maud, daughter of King Henry. “He was unquestionably," says Lyttleton, “the wisest man of those times; and his virtues were such that even those times could not corrupt it.” It is to Count Robert of Gloucester that William of Malmesbury dedicates his work, and speaks of him in these terms: “Nullum enim magis decet bonarum artium esse fautorem quam te; cui adhæsit magnanimitas avi, munificentia patrui, prudentia patris, &c. . . . . Consentaneous ergo sibi mores experiuntur in te literati, quos citra intellectum ullius acrimoniæ benignus aspicis, jucundus admittis, munificus dimittis. Nihil plane in te mutavit fortunæ amplitudo nisi ut pene tantum benefacere posses, quantùm velles."
But the trait of character which connects Earl Robert more immediately with our subject is, that every Sunday throughout the year he had the Abbot of Tewkesbury and twelve of the monks to dine with him, thereby keeping up a most friendly understanding with the Church, patronizing learning and all who excelled in the arts, and building various castles and priories. He founded the priory of St. James in Bristol, and made it subject to the Abbey of Tewkesbury. But although he patronized the latter in an eminent degree, he chose the priory for his last resting-place, and was there buried in the choir, under a tomb of green jasper. *
It was during the life of this earl, that Walleran de Beaumont, a younger son of the Earl of Leicester, and Count of Meulant, ransacked the town of Tewkesbury, which, judging by the quantity and value of plunder carried off, must have been, even at that early period, a town of no little opulence.t In this raid, however, the goods of the Abbey were respected; for to such men an interdict from the Church was more terrific than “an army with banners."
William, son and heir to Earl Robert, and his wife Matilda, confirmed all the charters which had been granted by his ancestors to the Abbey of Tewkesbury, and certified his approbation by conferring upon it several fresh endowments. He died in 1283, when the estates of the earldom were again vested in three daughters. But the policy which had been adopted by King Henry was again employed by King Richard, who had bestowed the youngest of the three heiresses with the earldom and its domains upon his brother John
* Hist. and Antiq. of Tewkesb.