Imatges de pàgina
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THE Norman character was strongly marked. Their whole nature was strong and keen, full of energy, and with none of the sluggish dulness that was always growing over the faculties of the Frank and Saxon; and even to this day the same energy prevails among their descendants, a certain proportion of the English nobility, and the population of Normandy and of Yorkshire.

There was a deep sense of religion, always showing itself in action, though not always consistently, and therewith a grand sense of honour and generosity, coupled, however, with a curious shrewd astuteness. The high-minded Norman was the flower of chivalry and honour, the lowminded Norman the most successful of villains - and there has often been a curious compound of both elements in the character of some of the most distinguished Normans whom history has to show.

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Old Rollo caused his only son to be highly educated, and William of William the Long Sword grew up a prince to be proud of. His height was Longsword. majestic, his features beautiful, his complexion as pure and delicate as a maiden's, his strength gigantic, his prowess with all weapons on foot and on horseback unrivalled, and his wit and capacity of the brightest and most powerful. Born since his father's arrival in France, the tales of Thor and Odin, the old giants, and the future Valhalla, were things of the dark old past to him, and he threw himself with his whole heart into the new faith. So intensely devout was he, so fond of prayer and of the rites of the Church, that Rollo called him fitter for a cloister than a dukedom, but the choice was not open to him, an only son, with the welfare of the Normans dependent on him; and while living in the world, his saintly aspirations did not preserve him from a self-indulgent life at home, or from unjust dealing abroad. But he had many fits of devotion. Once when hunting on the banks of the Seine, he came on the ruins of the Abbey of Jumièges, which had, many years before, been destroyed by Hasting. Two old monks, who still survived, came forth

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to meet him, told him their history, and invited him to partake of some of their best fare, It was coarse barley bread, and the young duke, turning from it in disgust, carelessly bestowed a rich alms upon them, and eagerly pursued his sport. He had not ridden far before he roused a huge wild boar, and, in the encounter with it, he broke his sword, was thrown from his horse, and so severely injured, that his servants, on Coming up, found him stretched insensible upon the ground. Believing This accident to be the just punishment of Heaven for his contempt for the old brethren, William, as soon as he recovered his senses, desired to be cared to Jumièges, and there humbly confessed his sinful feelings, and micated their pardon,

Is Ast care, when his health was re-established, was for the midges, which he built with great splendour, and often Ho che desire was to enter the abbey as a brother of the * Data Wach was dosed by the excellent Abbot Martin, who in that he ght not to desert the station to which he by Haven por gert gemment ll his son was old 220 take the charge 2 and the same time encouraged 12 x 12 Ayase terverward road had lain

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Migos &f the good father, but his heart exaco abs, and he raced secret the devotions luatilia A e dos De rest of his power, longing tele te av de the weary lead of cares of war and of government, and reore to that holy brotherhood. In Normandy his strict, keen justice made him greatly honoured and loved, but the French greatly hated and abhorred him, and his transactions with them, were sometimes cunning, sometimes violent. He had much of the old Northman, about him, and had not entered into the Church's teachings of the sanctity of marriage. Like his father, he had had a half acknowledged wife, Espriots, who was the mother of his only child, Richard, but he put her away in order to ally himself with one of the great French families, and he had his child brought up at Bayeux, among Norse speaking nobles, as if he would rather see him a Norseman than French prince

The bold and devout but inconsistent William was the dread of all his neighbours, and especially of Arnulf Count of Flanders. William was in alliance with Herlain, Count of Montreuil, against Arnulf; when, in 942, he was invited to a conference on a small island in the Same and there, having contrived to separate him from his followers, given signal one of the Flemings struck him down with an oar, and beg of daggers were instantly plunged into his breast. Flemings made their escape in safety, leaving the bleeding corpse the island where the Noumans who had seen the murder, without of revenge it reverently took it up, and brought it Beneath the robes of State they found it dressed in a Fround the neck was a chain sustaining a golden key,


which was rightly judged to belong to the chest where he kept his choicest treasure; but few would have guessed what was the treasure so valued by the knightly duke of the martial name, and doubtless there were many looks of wonder among the Norman barons, when the chest was opened, and disclosed, instead of gold and jewels, the gown and hood, the sandals and rosary, of a brother of the Benedictine order.

He was buried beside his father, in the cathedral of Rouen, amid the universal lamentations of his vassals; and his greatest friend and counsellor, Bernard the Dane, Count of Harcourt, fetched from Bayeux his only child, Richard, only eight years old; to be solemnly invested with the ducal sword and mantle, and to receive the homage of the Normans.* The bitter hatred of the French to the Normans could not but break out in the minority.

To the surprise of the Normans, Louis IV. king of France, suddenly arrived at Rouen, to claim, as he said, the homage of his young vassal. On the following day, Richard did not, as usual, appear beyond the walls of the castle, and there were rumours that he was detained there by order of the king. Assembling in great numbers, the Rouennais came before the castle, shouting loudly for "Richard! Richard! our little Duke!" nor could they be pacified till Louis appeared at the window, lifting young Richard in his arms, and made them a speech upon the gratitude and admiration which he pretended to feel for Duke William, to whom he said he owed his restoration to the throne of his fathers, and whose son he promised to regard as his own child.

On leaving Rouen, Louis claimed the right of taking Richard with him, as the guardian of all crown vassals in their minority; and Bernard de Harcourt, finding it impossible to resist, only stipulated that the young duke should never be separated from his Norman esquire, Osmond de Centeville, who on his side promised to keep a careful watch over him. Richard was accordingly conducted to Montleon, and made the companion of the two young princes, Lothaire and Carloman, and for some time no more was heard respecting him in Normandy. At last arrived a message from Osmond de Centeville, sent in secret with considerable difficulty, telling the Normans to pray that their young duke might be delivered out of the hands of his enemies, for that he was convinced that evil was intended, since he was closely watched; and one day when he had gone down to the river to bathe, the queen had threatened him with cruel punishments if he again left the place. Bernard immediately ordered a three days' fast, during which prayers for the safety of the little duke were offered in every church in Normandy, and further tidings were anxiously awaited.

In the meantime the faithful squire was devising a plan of escape. He caused the young Richard to feign illness, and thus obtained a slight relaxation of the vigilance with which his movements were watched, which enabled him to carry to the duke's apartments a great bundle of hay. At nightfall he rolled Richard up in the midst of it, and laying it * This is the Norman legend. The French Chroniclers point to Norman treachery.


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across his shoulders, he crossed the castle court to the stable, as if he was going to feed his horse, and as soon as it was dark he mounted, placing the boy before him, and galloped off to a castle on the borders of Normandy, where the rescued prince was greeted with the greatest joy.

The escape of his ward was followed by an open declaration of war on the part of Louis IV., upon which the Count de Harcourt sent to Denmark to ask succour from King Harald Blue-tooth, who, mindful of Duke William's kindness, himself led a numerous force to Normandy. Bernard, pretending to consider this as a piratical invasion, sent to ask Louis to assist him in expelling the heathens. Louis entered Normandy, and came in sight of the Danish host on the banks of the river Dives, where Harald summoned him to leave the dukedom to its rightful owner. Louis desired a conference, and a tent was pitched between the armies, where the two kings met.

Bernard advised the King of France not to bring Herluin de Montreuil to this meeting, since the Normans considered him as the occasion of their duke's death, but the French replied that no Dane should hinder their king from taking with him whomsoever he pleased. While the two kings were in the tent, Herluin, seeing a knight from the Cotentin, with whom he was acquainted, went up to him and inquired after his health.

The Danes asked who he was, and the knight replied, "Count Herluin, who caused Duke William's death," whereupon the wild Danes rushed upon him, and killed him with their battle-axes.

A general conflict ensued, the French were put to flight, and by the time the kings came out of the tent, the battle was decided. Louis mounted his horse in order to rejoin his troops, but the animal ran with him into the midst of the enemy, where Harald caught his bridle, made him prisoner, and delivered him to four knights to keep. While, however, they were engaged in plundering, he made his escape, and had ridden four leagues when he met a soldier of Rouen, whom he bribed to hide him in an island in the Seine, until he could find a fit opportunity of quitting Normandy. Harald and Bernard, however, by making strict inquiries, discovered that the soldier knew where he was, and seizing the man's wife and children, threatened to put them to death if he did not put the king into their hands. Louis was accordingly delivered to them, but they shortly after released him on receiving his two sons as hostages.

The younger of the two princes died shortly after his arrival in Normandy, and anxiety for Lothaire, the remaining son, induced his father to come to terms with the Normans; and, at St. Clair-sur-Epte, Louis swore to leave Richard in undisturbed possession of his lands, and to extend the limits of the duchy as far as the banks of the Epte, after which the young duke paid him homage, and restored his son to him.

Richard then returned to Rouen, which he had not visited since he had been carried to the French court, and was greeted with great joy by

the citizens, who were much delighted by his appearance, the height of his figure, and the beauty of his countenance. The King of Denmark was also received by them with great enthusiasm, who, after spending some time at Rouen, returned home.

At the age of fourteen, Richard was betrothed to Emma, daughter of Hugh the White, Count of Paris, a nobleman whose increasing power had long been a subject of jealousy both to the court of Flanders and to the King of France. On hearing of the intended connexion between these two mighty vassals, they united their forces to prevent it, and called in the aid of Otho, Emperor of Germany, and Conrad, King of Burgundy.

While Louis and Conrad attacked the Count, Otho and Arnulf entered Normandy, and laid siege to Rouen, but on the way thither were attacked by an ambuscade under the command of the young Richard himself, who now for the first time bore arms, and greatly signalized himself, putting the Germans to flight, and killing the Emperor's nephew with his own hand.

Otho still advanced and invested Rouen. Wishing to know what resources the city contained, he sent to ask Richard's permission to enter it, in order to pay his devotions at the shrine of St. Ouen. His request was granted, and in passing through the streets he perceived that the city was so well defended that he could not hope to take it. On his return to the camp, he told his council that he intended to make his peace with the Duke of Normandy, by delivering up to him the Count of Flanders, the author of the expedition. His council, however, persuaded him that this would be a disgraceful action; and Arnulf receiving some hint of his proposal, in the middle of the night quitted the camp with all his men, and returned to Flanders. The noise of his departure awoke the Germans, who, imagining themselves to be attacked by the besieged, armed themselves in haste, and there was great confusion till morning, when, perceiving the departure of the Flemings, they set fire to their camp, and took the road to Germany. The Normans, sallying out of the town, harassed the rear, killed a number of them, and took many prisoners and a great quantity of baggage.

In 954, Louis was killed by a fall from his horse, and was succeeded by his son Lothaire, who inherited all his dislike to the Normans, and especially hated the young duke, the companion of his boyhood, whose fame had so far exceeded his own, both in feats of arms and skill in government, and who, though only twenty-three, had been chosen by the wise and great Count of Paris as the guardian of his children, and the model on which his sons were to form themselves.

Twice did Lothaire, in conjunction with Count Thibaut de Chartres, a young nobleman who envied the fame of Richard, attempt to assassinate him at a conference; and the former, despairing of ridding himself of him by treachery, assembled an army of fifty thousand men, entered Normandy, and besieged Rouen. Here Richard, in a sudden nightattack on his camp, dispersed his forces, and took a great number of


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