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A.D. 1042–1066.] DISPUTES WITH EARL GODWIN.
was very unlikely that unarmed citizens would rise without provocation on so many steel-clad horsemen, and flatly refused to obey the king's command. Edward was equally resolved, and summoned Godwin to appear before a council to answer for his disobedience. Godwin soon discovered that the council was packed with his enemies, and raising all the forces he and his sons could immediately summon, he appeared near the place of meeting, and made a demand for Eustace to be delivered into his hands, to be tried by the laws of the land for housebreaking and murder. The king became alarmed, and sent for the northern Earls, Leofric and Siward, to counterbalance the family of Godwin. The Earls, however, of Mercia and Northumbria, as the greatest effort they would make on the royal side, insisted on a reconciliation, and Edward apparently pardoned his presumptuous subject. Godwin and Harold dismissed their forces, and immediately the king, finding himself master of the situation, advanced with a large army, commanded by his foreign favourites, to London, where another council had been called, and ordered the English recusants a second time to appear. They demanded hostages for their safety if they came, and when these were refused, they declined obedience to the summons. They were allowed five days in which to fly the country, their goods and honours were confiscated, and the most powerful family in England found itself suddenly reduced to poverty and weakness. Getting or taking a dispensation from his promise of five days' grace, the king sent armed men after the fugitives to slay them wherever they could be found. The armed men, however, were English at heart, and would have taken care not to overtake Godwin and his sons if they had lingered a month upon the road. But they did not linger. The father, with his wife and three sons, went over to Flanders; Harold and Leofwin went to Ireland; and Edward, delivered for a time from the grim presence of his father-in-law, dismissed Edith from even the nominal position
of his wife, and immured her in a nunnery near Andover, of which his sister was abbess.
§ 21. While the Saxon princess, "in prayers and tears, expected the day of her release and comfort," a portentous visitor made his appearance at the English court, and raised the expectations of the Normans to a higher pitch than ever. This was William the Conqueror; not yet endowed with that title, and scarcely perhaps with the idea of his future exploit, but bold, ambitious, self-willed, and already, by force of character, assuming a superiority over the indigenous nobles, and even the legitimate king, which might have given them all fair warning of the danger of so powerful a guest. William was at this time twenty-four years of age, strong and athletic, florid in complexion, with eyes of the most irascible expression, and a voice of the harshest tones when anything discomposed his temper. What his public reception was it is useless to inquire; it was his private and confidential interviews with Edward which attracted the notice of all. In one of these he seems to have either flattered or terrified the spiritless king to sign a paper appointing him heir to the crown of England; and engaging him, in all probability at the same time, to continue the system of encouraging the settlers of Normandy, and humiliating the English proprietors and people to the utmost of his power. Satisfied with this, and scattering his money and promises wherever they might be useful, William took his leave, and meditated on his chances of success.
§ 22. All the castles which owned the king's authority had been placed in Norman hands. The earldoms of the great Saxons had been given to foreigners or the king's friends. The appearance of the strong body-guard which William had brought with him, and some of whom he left behind, encouraged the hopes of his partisans, and when it was reported that Godwin was preparing an expedition to re-assert his rights, the country was all alive with expectation. Edward sent a
RISE OF HAROLD.
fleet to prevent his putting to sea from the ports of Flanders, and kept his soldiers ready to repulse him if he landed. But Godwin eluded the fleet, and landed on the Sussex coast. Harold collected a squadron near the Isle of Wight. All the south-west counties joined him with money and men; and in a great and hourly-increasing cavalcade, the father and son sailed up the Thames to London, with acclamations from multitudes on both the shores. Edward tried to summon
courage for a battle, but could not. The Witan, or great council, assembled, declared Godwin and Harold innocent of the crimes laid to their charge, and added the startling resolution, that the foreigners had been guilty of treason in giving bad advice to the king, and banished them from the realm. Bishops who had turned out the old Saxon prelates, were driven away by force. Castles were seized from the custody of Norman nobles. Edith was brought in triumph from her cell at Wherwell; Godwin and Harold were reinstated in all their earldoms and offices, and the revolution was complete.
Harold was now the great officer of the State; for when his father died in the year following their restoration, there was no person who could be put on a level with so powerful and active a man. Edward, however, was discontented when he dared, and occasionally made a show of resistance. He recalled Edward the Outlaw, for instance, from Hungary, and received him as next heir to the crown. All the Saxon feelings which had been outraged by the prospect of a Norman successor gathered round the representative of the ancient blood. He took the title of Atheling, or Noble (equivalent, perhaps, to our Prince of Wales); and great rejoicings, in spite of Harold's popularity, hailed the reappearance among the people of the son of Edmund Ironside and his youthful family of two daughters and a son, The rejoicings, however, were short-lived. The Atheling died in a few months after his arrival, and again the antagonism of Harold and William revived. Edgar, the son of the Atheling, who now took the title,
was too young to be chief of a party, and was considered by Edward too powerless to be nominated heir. He, therefore, again secretly appointed his Norman cousin his successor, and gratified his hatred to the family of Godwin by elevating a potentate to be their master whose ferocity would revenge the indignities they had cast upon himself.
Harold, however, went on as if unconscious of the king's dislike. He reduced the rebellious Welsh to order, put the land in a state of defence against hostile attempts-for the Danes had again become threatening on the eastern coast— and from policy and natural inclination encouraged a strong national feeling, by which he hoped to profit when the struggle with his foreign rival began. To keep this patriotic sentiment entire, he went so far as to side with the men of Northumberland against the cruelties and oppressions of his brother Tostig. First placing himself at the head of an army which could have forced them to submit, he listened to their complaints, and on finding they were well-founded, condemned Tostig to the loss of his earldom, and conferred it on the son of Alfgar, whose earldom of Mercia was, next to Harold's own possessions, the most powerful in the kingdom. The Northumbrians, instead of fighting the great justiciary of the king, found him a just and gentle judge. He won over the hearts of a great county, and lost the affection and aid of an ambitious and unpatriotic brother.
But his regard for England roused various enmities abroad. William, who had a genius for hating, hated him with all his might. In one of his treaties with Edward, the English earl had given two of his nephews as hostages. Edward had sent them for safe custody to William, and William kept them long after the articles of the treaty were executed. Harold went across to negotiate for the release of his relations, and was forced by a storm into the mouth of the Somme. Here he was seized as lawful prize by the Count de Ponthieu, the small potentate on whose territory he had landed. He was
RISE OF HAROLD.
stript of all he had, and thrown into a dungeon to expedite his ransom. William saw his advantage in this incident, and paid the sum required. Harold proceeded to Rouen to thank his benefactor, and the great English earl found himself the guest of his hated rival. That rival affected the greatest kindness, offered him his sister Adele in marriage, and having confidentially told him of Edward's will in his favour, asked him to promise his assistance when the throne was vacant, and trust to his gratitude for a reward. Harold looked round, and saw no means of escape. He promised all that was asked, believing, probably, that an extorted promise has no validity; and was even persuaded one day to swear that he would be true liegeman to the duke. An ordinary oath was not thought much of while it depended on the mere honour and truthfulness of the swearer, but William prepared a sanction for the engagement of which Harold little dreamed. When he had said the words of the oath, a cloth was removed from the table over which he had stretched his hand, and a basket of holy bones and other relics was displayed. An oath over the remains of saints and martyrs was of holier binding power than any other, and Harold was perplexed in mind. Perhaps he thought of applying to the Church for a dispensation, but he and his nation were so unpopular at Rome that he had nothing to expect from the friendship of the Pope.
The pontiffs had for a long time been greatly irritated by the behaviour of the English clergy. Stigand of Canterbury, elected by his priests and people when the Norman intruder was expelled in 1052, had applied for the pallium, the sign of his episcopal induction, to the then occupant of the papal chair. This was Benedict the Tenth, who was about to ratify the English nomination in the usual manner, when the emperor, who still considered the popes his servants, dismissed the Roman pontiff, as being appointed without his sanction, and installed a dependent of his own in his place. Nicholas the Second reversed all the aets of his predecessor, and refused the