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brother, but Tosti was determined on war. Nearly all the army of Norway, and a great many of the English fell in this battle. Harold himself was wounded, and was resting at York, when a messenger rushed into his presence, breathless with haste, and said, “The Duke of Normandy has landed in Sussex with the mightiest army ever seen in England, and is ravaging the country far and near." Harold did not wait a day, but with such troops as he could collect, and who were less than one-third of the number of William's army, he set out for Sussex.
The Normans could not have landed if Harold's fleet had been at its post, but the ships had exhausted their provisions, and had been obliged to go into port to get more. And just at that time, the wind, which had been contrary for several weeks, changed to the southward, and enabled William's vessels to cross the Channel.
The battle which was to decide the fate of England began early on the 14th October, 1066. Harold made the best disposition he could of his little army, and above all things charged his men not to break the firm solid line in which he had formed them. They fought on foot, for the English had very few horsemen. The Normans, on the contrary, were the best riders, and had the finest horses in Europe. Yet they fought fiercely during several hours without gaining any advantage over the little army who were doing battle for their homes, and their country, and all that they held dear. But William directed his troops to feign flight; and from that moment the doom of the English was sealed. When once they saw their foes flying, they could not be restrained, but rushed over
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.
the field in hot pursuit. This was all that William wanted; he brought up fresh troops now, and overwhelmed the scattered English with numbers. Still while the daylight lasted they fought on, though with no hope of victory; and when night fell, the battle-field, and the roads leading to it, were heaped with the slain.
Harold, and a few men who kept by him to the last, planted their flag firmly in the ground, and defended it till every one of them was killed. Then the flag was torn up, and in the midst of the dead, William pitched his tent and feasted in honour of the victory which had gained for him a kingdom. But to the English that sad day was the beginning of long years of oppression and misery. This memorable battle was fought on a field, then called Senlac, about eight miles from Hastings. William afterwards built an abbey on the spot where the fight had raged the most fiercely, and called it Battle Abbey.
WILLIAM I. SURNAMED THE CONQUEROR.
(From 1066 to 1087.)
Now that Harold was dead, the English had no chiet who could resist William of Normandy. He was crowned King of England on the Christmas-day following the battle of Hastings, and promised to govern the people according to their own laws: but they soon found out that he did not intend to keep his promise.
There were so many changes made in England that it seemed almost like another country. The Witan met no more to make laws and to help to
govern the kingdom, for most of the chief men ha been killed, and those who remained had their pro perty taken from them, and were obliged to serve the Normans. William took a great deal of land for himself, and divided the remainder amongst six or seven hundred of his followers. These men were called Barons, and were now looked upon as the noblemen of England. They were also called the king's vassals, because they did homage to him for the lands which he had given them. That is, they came and knelt before the king, put their hands between his, and swore to serve him faithfully both in peace and war.
The land for which a baron did homage was called his feod or feud, and the king was his feudal lord. But every baron was himself a feudal lord, with vassals of his own; for he divided part of the lands which the king had given him amongst his relations and friends, and they swore to serve him as he had sworn to serve the king. A chief part of the vassals' service was to provide their feudal lord with armed men and horses in time of war.
The barons built themselves strong castles, and ruled like little kings in the midst of their vassals. They went to war one with another, and some even ventured to make war on the king, but William was far too clever and too powerful a ruler to be overcome by any of his subjects. It was, however, a long time before he could force all the English to submit to him. In the north, especially, they made a brave stand for their freedom. William revenged himself by laying waste all the land between the Humber and the Tyne; the villages were burnt, the fields
WILLIAM OF NORMANDY.
made a wilderness, and the cattle driven away. The people, cast out of their homes without food to eat or a roof to shelter them, died miserably, and for more than sixty years afterwards, all that country remained a desert. But the merciless king had gained his end; no one dared to resist him now, and he was master of England from north to south.
His reign lasted nearly twenty-one years, and might have been longer but for his own fierce, revengeful temper. The King of France made a rude jest about him; William was so enraged that he set forward at once to lead an army against the city of Paris, and ordered his soldiers to burn every town they came to. They reached Mantes, and set fire to it, and William rode about, watching the burning of houses and churches. But it was his last ride: the horse trod on some hot embers, and began to start and plunge so violently that the king was very badly hurt. His men carried him back to his own city of Rouen, but he never recovered from the injury, and died a few weeks afterwards, September 9th, 1087.
Besides the new laws and customs which William and his Normans brought into England, they introduced another language. William ordered that the laws of the country should be written in the NormanFrench, and all the barons and rich men spoke French, and despised the English tongue. But as time went on, their sons and grandsons began to speak English, and the English mixed Norman words with their own. In this way our English language was formed. Most of our words come from the old Saxon English, but there are also a great many taken from the Norman French.
Two of William the First's works remain to remind us of him—the Tower of London, which he caused to be begun; and the great tract of woodland in Hampshire, called the New Forest. He was extremely fond of hunting, and pulled down villages, and even churches, to enlarge this forest and make more room for the deer. And he made terrible laws to prevent any one from meddling with the game. If a man killed a stag he was punished as severely as if he had been a murderer, and even for killing the wild boars men had their eyes put out.
WILLIAM II., SURNAMED RUFUS, 1087.-HENRY I., SURNAMED
(From 1087 to 1135.)
WILLIAM the First left three sons: Robert; William, surnamed Rufus, on account of his red hair and complexion; and Henry. Robert became Duke of Normandy, at his father's death, and William was made King of England. Many of the barons wished Robert to be king, and they raised an army to put down William. William turned to the English for help. He promised that if they would stand up for him against the barons, he would give them back their good old laws, and not suffer them to be ill-used as they had been in his father's time. And they fought for him so bravely that Robert's friends were soon glad to make peace. But William broke all the promises he had made to his English subjects; and