Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

vitior a masom. Then pursuing , eneret the comtry of Cara br he was reliiged to WW heavy to selendr against a power league of all the Anvy the king

********weigsty a force he sent to ask succour Mark who though too aged and

bom to come aimed to Normandy, equipped a mumerous fleet, and

[ocr errors]

he ravages which they committed compelled the king to send the Webop of Chartres to see for peace, but he would not venture into the camp without an escort from the duke, lest, as he said, "the Danish wolves should devour him on the way."

On his arrival, he implored Kichard to have compassion on the French, who suffered dreadful miseries from the Danes; and the duke, always desirous of peace, willingly engaged to treat with the king, and withdrew his forces into Normandy, to the great disappointment of the Danes, who had expected to dethrone Lothaire, and to place the gallant Richard on his throne. They were much surprised at the moderation of the demands which he, a conqueror, made to the humiliated Lothaire, only desiring to be left in quiet possession of his inheritance, and that a pardon should be granted for all injuries committed on either side during the war.

Lothaire gladly agreed to these terms, and the remainder of Richard's life was spent in peace. Such of the latter's subjects as had been trained to arms in the constant wars during his minority, found employment in combats with the Greeks and Saracens in Italy, where the twelve sons of a Norman knight, named Tancred de Hauteville, laid the foundation of the kingdoms of the Two Sicilies. Their place was supplied by the Danish allies, who, full of admiration for the Fearless Duke, were desirous of embracing his religion, and living under his government. Thibaut de Chartres came to Normandy to implore his pardon, and was received with such kindness that he was overcome with shame at his former conduct.

Richard was a stern but honourable man, and the courage and ability which he displayed throughout these wars made a great impression on his Danish allies, who were induced, in great numbers, to adopt the religion of the Fearless Duke, and to live under his government.

How the truly great man takes his revenge, was indeed shown by Richard the Fearless, the last time he took any part in the affairs of the wation. It was when Hugh Capes, Count of Paris, once his ward, had been waised to the throne of France by the author of the Pope, and having received the homage of ever own assal excepung Artalf of Flanders, proceeded to manage his cour and set his 22wns. completely reduced, saw no hope for hinsel exert throwing himself on the mercy of Duke Richard, the wex mat, whest inther he had murdered, and whom he had purser with the most unrelenting hatred from his earliest childhood. Richart, hat, but or alow wow justice to

[ocr errors]

take its course, and he would have been fully avenged; but he who daily knelt before the altar of the Church of Fescamp, had learnt far other lessons. He went to Hugh Capet, and so pleaded with him, that he not only obtained the pardon of Arnulf, but the restoration of the whole of his county, and of both his cities. Thus, without doubt, would the saintly William Longsword have desired to be revenged by his only son.

Richard Sans Peur lived nine years after this, spending his time, for the most part, in the Abbey of Fescamp, in devotion and works of charity, and leaving the government to his eldest son, Richard the Good. He is thus described by a Norman Chronicler who knew him well in his old age. "He was tall and well-proportioned, his countenance was noble, his beard was long, and his head covered with white hair. He was a pious benefactor to the monks, supplied the wants of the clergy, despised the proud, loved the humble, aided the poor, the widow and the orphan, and delighted in ransoming prisoners."

He caused a stone coffin to be made for himself in his lifetime, and placed in the Church of Fescamp, where, every Friday, he filled it with wheat, which was afterwards distributed among the poor. In this Abbey he died in 996, desiring to be buried outside the Church, close beneath the eaves, “where,” said he, "the droppings of water from the roof may fall on me, and wear away the stains of earthly corruption."

His daughter Emma is often mentioned in English history as the wife of Ethelred the Unready, and afterwards of Knut. She has often been much blamed for this second marriage with the enemy of her country, but it should be remembered how nearly the Northmen and Danes were connected, and that Knut was the grandson of her father's ally, Harald Bluetooth.

The great event of Richard's time was the above-mentioned recognition of Hugh Capet as King of France. The Caroline race were Franks, chiefly German in blood, and had never fully amalgamated with the race called French, a mixture of Roman and Gallic, with only an upper stratum of the true Frank. When the Counts of Paris obtained the throne, and the line of Charlemagne retired into the little German county of Lotharingia or Lorraine, then France became really France, and a nation with a national sovereign. Still it was a very small domain. Provence was part of the German Empire, so was Burgundy; Anjou, Normandy, and Brittany were almost independent, though owning a sort of allegiance to the king who reigned at Paris.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

CAMEO III. RICHARD, called the Good, son of Richard Sans Peur, does not seem to have been in all respects equal to his father, nor did much that is worthy of note occur in his time.

Richard the

Robert the Magnificent, 1026.

He died in 1026, leaving two sons, Richard and Robert, both violent and turbulent young men, the younger of whom was called, from his fiery temper, Robert the Devil. After a fierce dispute respecting Robert's appanage, the two brothers were suddenly reconciled, and, immediately afterwards, Richard died, not without suspicion, on the part of the French, that he had been poisoned by his brother.

The Normans gave little heed to the calumny, and, in fact, the open, generous temper of Robert was by no means likely to belong to a secret murderer. The splendour of his court, and munificence of his gifts, acquired for him the name of Robert the Magnificent, and the following, among other instances, is recorded of his liberality


When attending mass at the Abbey of Cerizy, his own foundation, he one day remarked a stranger knight, when asked for his alms at the offertory, reply sadly, that he had nothing to give. He beckoned to a squire, and sent him to present the poor stranger with a purse containing a hundred pounds, which the knight immediately offered on the altar. After the mass was over, the sacristan came to ask him if he knew how large the sum was, or if he had given it by mistake, to which he replied, that he had offered it wittingly, since it was for no other end that the Duke had sent it to him. His answer was reported by the sacristan to the Duke, who instantly sent the high-minded stranger a second purse, containing the same sum for his own use.

Robert founded nine monasteries, and made large gifts to all the churches in his duchy, entreating the prayers of the clergy and of the poor, for the pardon of the sins of his youth; but his conscience was ill at ease, and in the sixth year of his dukedom he resolved to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a journey which was then even more perilous than in subsequent years, when the Crusades had, in some degree, secured the safety of the pilgrims, and he seems to have been fully persuaded that he should never return alive.


William ac

His chief care was for the welfare of his son, William, a boy of seven years old, whose situation was the more precarious, because there was a stain on his birth, his mother being the daughter of a tanner of Falaise, knowledged heir of so that it was more than probable that his right to the succession would Normandy. be disputed by the numerous descendants of Richard Sans Peur. Robert did his best to secure his safety by calling together the vassals to do homage to him, and placing him under the especial protection of Henry I. of France, at whose court at Paris he left him.

Robert then set out on his pilgrimage, with a few companions, all wearing Robert's Pilgrimage. the coarse garb of pilgrims, with staves in their hands, and their feet bare. As they were passing the gates of a small town in Franche Comté, Robert walking last, an insolent warder, tired of holding the gate open, struck him such a blow on the shoulders with a halbert that he reeled under it, but so changed was his once violent temper, that seeing his friends about to revenge the insult, he called out, Let him alone; pilgrims ought to suffer for the love of God. I love his blow better than my city of Rouen."


The next time Robert was heard of was, in humble guise with staff and wallet, when he received the blessing of the Pope at Rome; but afterwards, when he entered Constantinople, he appeared in all his wonted magnificence. He rode to the palace of the Greek Emperor on a mule, shod with golden shoes, so slightly fastened on, as to be shaken off amongst the crowds who surrounded him.

He travelled onwards through Asia Minor, though attacked by a fever, which obliged him to be carried in a litter by Moorish slaves, -as he himself expressed it to a Norman pilgrim whom he met returning, "to be carried by devils to Paradise." Safely arriving at Jerusalem, he there paid the entrance money for a multitude of poor pilgrims, whom he found shut out because they were unable to pay the large toll demanded by the Saracens ; and after performing the accustomed devotions at the different consecrated spots in the Holy City, he set out on his return to Normandy. His health was already impaired by the fatigues of the journey, and he died at the city of Nicæa, in the year 1035. There, in the now profaned sanctuary, where was held the first general Council of the Church, rests in his nameless and forgotten grave, the last of the high-spirited and devout Dukes of Normandy.


From the time of the departure of Duke Robert, dangers crowded William's round the ducal throne of his child; nor were they, as in the stormy Accession, minority of Richard Sans Peur, perils chiefly from enemies without, met by a band of vassals, strong in attachment to their lord. The foes who threatened the young William were of his own family, and his own subjects, and there was none of that generous temper, even amongst his chief supporters, which, in the case of his great grandfather, had made the scenes of war and bloodshed in which he was brought up, a school not of valour alone, but of the higher virtues of chivalry.

The Norman barons, greatly altered from what they had been in the days when the justice of Rollo prevailed, lived shut up in their strong


Character of

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, Longsword. 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 carried to Jumièges, and there humbly confessed his sinful feelings, and entreated their pardon.

Murder of


His first care, when his health was re-established, was for the restoration of Jumièges, which he built with great splendour, and often visited. His chief desire was to enter the abbey as a brother of the order, but his wish was opposed by the excellent Abbot Martin, who pointed out to him that he ought not to desert the station to which he had been called by Heaven, nor quit the government till his son was old enough to take the charge upon himself, and at the same time encouraged him by the example of many a saint, whose heavenward road had lain through the toils and cares of a secular life.

William yielded to the arguments of the good father, but his heart was still in the peaceful abbey, and he practised in secret the devotions and austerities of the cloister to the utmost of his power, longing earnestly for the time when he might lay aside the weary load of cares of war and of government, and retire 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, Espriota, 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 a 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 Herluin, Count of Montreuil, against Arnulf; when, in 942, he was invited to a conference on a small island in the Somme, and there, having contrived to separate him from his followers, at a given signal one of the Flemings struck him down with an oar, and a number of daggers were instantly plunged into his breast.

The Flemings made their escape in safety, leaving the bleeding corpse upon the island, where the Normans, who had seen the murder, without being able to prevent or revenge it, reverently took it up, and brought it back to Rouen. Beneath the robes of State they found it dressed in a hair-cloth shirt, and round the neck was a chain sustaining a golden key,

« AnteriorContinua »