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A.D. 1066]



drinking the supreme good, and submitted to Sweyn or Canute, or reinstated their own legitimate princes, without either a feeling of humiliation in one case, or triumph in the other. They thought England was superlatively happy so long as they were not stinted in their beer.

§ 2. Before we go on to the overthrow of this state of things, let us point out a few tokens by which the prevailing Saxondom of our country may be known. We spoke of the barrows on the downs, and the monuments of Stonehenge, as relics of the ancient Britons before the Roman invasion, and of the towns ending in "chester," or syllables of similar sound (derived from castra), as commemorative of the Roman power. The Saxons, however, left their marks far more widely scattered in the names of places with which we are all familiar; so that in travelling through the country we can tell to which of all our earliest predecessors we are indebted for the villages. and ancient clearings that charm us on the way. To the next race of invaders we are indebted for the majestic fabrics devoted to religion, and the castellated houses which were symbols of the solidity and grandeur of the empire their owners hoped to found. The Gothic cathedrals and Norman towers which give such beauty to the landscape, represent the superiority in refinement and skill of the people who built them, but the frequency of the Saxon hamlets shows in which race the predominance of number was to be found. The gentry for a hundred and fifty years was Norman, but the nation was always Saxon.

§ 3. Whenever you find a termination in "field," or "feld," you may consider it was at one time a small collection of huts in the felled or cleared-out portion of a wood. Mansfield and Sheffield, and a hundred others, are examples of this. Chesterfield represents a small settlement near an ancient Roman station. The absence of a bridge and the convenient passage of a river is shown by the ending in ford. A situation by the water side is also proved by the termination


"bourne," or the sheltered valley by "dene," or "don ;" in the still umbrageous thickets, by "hurst," like Lyndhurst, and others in the New Forest; and in addition to these, a descriptive meaning is attached to the names ending in "ham," "ley," or "leigh," "burg," or "bury," stone," "stoke," "worth," "holt," "sted," and "thorp." Compare these with the 66 monts " and "villes," the "bels" and "beaus" of the Norman nomenclature, and you will see how slight the impression of the foreign occupation on the names of towns and districts.*

*It may be useful to show at a glance the changes introduced by the successive occupiers of the soil in the greater divisions of the land. We therefore subjoin the kingdom as it was divided at the different periods previous to the Norman conquest:




South Saxons










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Sussex and Surrey.

Berks, Southampton,
Wilts, Somerset,
Dorset, Devon, and
part of Cornwall.

Essex, Middlesex, and part of Herts.

Lancaster, York, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, and Northumberland.

Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, and Isle of Ely.

Gloucester, Hereford, Chester, Stafford, Worcester, Oxford, Salop, Warwick, Derby, Leicester, Bucks, Northampton, Notts, Lincoln, Bedford, Rutland, Huntingdon, part of Herts.

A.D. 1066.]



§ 4. But now the final addition to our English ancestry was about to take place. Harold was crowned king on the sixth of January, 1066, and made preparations at once for the opposition which was certain to arise. William heard the news of Edward's death and Harold's coronation by the same messenger, and vowed vengeance on the friend who had deceived him, and the perjured rebel who had forgotten his oath upon the holy relics, and had usurped his throne. He summoned assistance from all quarters, and from all quarters it came. The French king encouraged the preparations for the dangerous enterprise, in the pleasing certainty that if the expedition succeeded, it would keep his dangerous vassal occupied for many years; if it failed, it would deliver him from his neighbourhood altogether, and make the lapsed State of Normandy a prize of the French crown. England, even at that early period, had the dangerous reputation of great wealth and perfect openness to attack. All the evil spirits of the time, all the spendthrift gentlemen, and ambitious artisans, and discontented soldiers, and ruined gamblers, down to stable-boys and feeders of hounds, enrolled themselves in the service of William. But William was too sagacious a man to rely on such a miscellaneous collection of the scum of field and town, and applied to higher quarters for aid. He still had the learned Lanfranc at his right hand, and Lanfranc's eagerness for ecclesiastic supremacy was second only to that of the notorious Hildebrand, who was now Pope, under the name of Gregory the Seventh. The English Stigand still exercised his archiepiscopal authority without the ratification of St. Peter; the English clergy gave obedience to the intrusive prelate, and the English commonalty had lost their reverence for the monks and friars who had acted as the trumpeters and defenders of the claims of Rome. William's expedition was therefore blest as if it had been a crusade against the unbelievers, and holy banners were presented to the host, with relics of miraculous power embroidered on the silk. All

the ambitious and discontented churchmen cast in their lot with the ambitious and discontented laity. Rich churches were promised to them in the fat fields of England. Monasteries of great income were offered to priors and abbots on condition of their raising and arming a certain number of their retainers for the voyage; and, when nine months were passed in levying, clothing, drilling, and encouraging the motley multitude of nobles, adventurers, priests, serfs, handicraftsmen, and professional robbers and partisans, the fleet was assembled at St. Valery, the relics of the patron saint of that town were carried in grand procession through the camp, and procured them a favourable wind. The expedition embarked in four hundred vessels of considerable size and two thousand boats: and it may show the small scale on which ship-building was carried on, when we learn that the cavalry amounted to only four thousand, the infantry to twelve thousand, and that the crews, sutlers, and followers of all kinds included, the invaders did not exceed twenty or twenty-five thousand men.

§ 5. Harold had a fleet which might have met the hostile vessels, and an army which might have prevented the landing. But there was treason in the English camps. Tostig, the brother whom Harold's sense of justice had ejected from his earldom of Northumberland, landed in his ancient possessions supported by an army of Norwegians and Flemings. When he was defeated, and found safety in the court of Malcolm of Scotland, a great Norwegian king, of the name of Harold Hardrada, appeared with a new expedition on the eastern shore, and put the troops, who had been hurriedly led against him, to flight. Harold of England was disturbed by the intelligence of this new attack. It came upon him while he was making his preparations to give a reception to his Norman rival; and, trusting to the swiftness of his motions, he resolved to exterminate the Norsemen in Yorkshire, and get back in time to resist his other enemy. The march was rapid, and the success complete. Hardrada, the

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A.D. 1066.]



invader, was killed in a great battle near Stamford Bridge, his followers were mercilessly pursued, and the twenty-fifth of September would have been considered the happiest day of Harold's life as it for ever extinguished the hostility of the Scandinavians-if he had not learned in a short time that three days after his victory a landing had been effected on the coast of Sussex, and that William and all his host were encamped in the neighbourhood of Pevensey.

§ 6. Pevensey Castle has had the peculiar fortune of having been a Roman encampment, a Saxon "burg," and a Norman "tower." Something in its situation pointed it out to those three warlike peoples as a position of defence; and accordingly William rested under the old Roman walls, which contained the old Saxon keep, and waited to see what his competitor would do. He made as little hostile demonstration as possible, and endeavoured to establish his claim as legitimate heir to Edward the Confessor. It is probable he resolved to receive the attack of Harold, and put the whole quarrel on the arbitrament of one great battle, and therefore he rejoiced greatly when, in the afternoon of the thirteenth of October, he saw the dust-covered banners and toil-worn followers of the English king present themselves on the brow of the opposite range of hills. Harold had marched without stopping in search of his foe. News had reached him in York of the Norman landing, and in a fortnight he had traversed two hundred and fifty miles, with an army triumphing, indeed, in its recent victory, but thinned by its losses in the field, and weakened by fatigue. The difference between the two men is shown in the few anecdotes recorded of them at this time. William, in springing on shore, had fallen on his face. The presage would have been discouraging, and might have weakened the hopes of his men. He grasped the soil with both hands, and said by this formal action he took possession of the kingdom. He rested with wise delay in the situation he had first seized, and drew up his fleet in safety, in case of a


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