Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
Website logo - Click to go to Home page



William the Conqueror part 3

Chapters VIII to IX

CHAPTER VIII--THE CONQUEST OF ENGLAND--DECEMBER 1066-MARCH 1070

The coronation of William had its effect in a moment. It made him really king over part of England; it put him into a new position with regard to the rest. As soon as there was a king, men flocked to swear oaths to him and become his men. They came from shires where he had no real authority. It was most likely now, rather than at Berkhampstead, that Edwin and Morkere at last made up their minds to acknowledge some king. They became William's men and received again their lands and earldoms as his grant. Other chief men from the North also submitted and received their lands and honours again. But Edwin and Morkere were not allowed to go back to their earldoms. William thought it safer to keep them near himself, under the guise of honour--Edwin was even promised one of his daughters in marriage- -but really half as prisoners, half as hostages. Of the two other earls, Waltheof son of Siward, who held the shires of Northampton and Huntingdon, and Oswulf who held the earldom of Bernicia or modern Northumberland, we hear nothing at this moment. As for Waltheof, it is strange if he were not at Senlac; it is strange if he were there and came away alive. But we only know that he was in William's allegiance a few months later. Oswulf must have held out in some marked way. It was William's policy to act as king even where he had no means of carrying out his kingly orders. He therefore in February 1067 granted the Bernician earldom to an Englishman named Copsige, who had acted as Tostig's lieutenant. This implies the formal deprivation of Oswulf. But William sent no force with the new earl, who had to take possession as he could. That is to say, of two parties in a local quarrel, one hoped to strengthen itself by making use of William's name. And William thought that it would strengthen his position to let at least his name be heard in every corner of the kingdom. The rest of the story stands rather aloof from the main history. Copsige got possession of the earldom for a moment. He was then killed by Oswulf and his partisans, and Oswulf himself was killed in the course of the year by a common robber. At Christmas, 1067, William again granted or sold the earldom to another of the local chiefs, Gospatric. But he made no attempt to exercise direct authority in those parts till the beginning of the year 1069.

All this illustrates William's general course. Crowned king over the land, he would first strengthen himself in that part of the kingdom which he actually held. Of the passive disobedience of other parts he would take no present notice. In northern and central England William could exercise no authority; but those lands were not in arms against him, nor did they acknowledge any other king. Their earls, now his earls, were his favoured courtiers. He could afford to be satisfied with this nominal kingship, till a fit opportunity came to make it real. He could afford to lend his name to the local enterprise of Copsige. It would at least be another count against the men of Bernicia that they had killed the earl whom King William gave them.

Meanwhile William was taking very practical possession in the shires where late events had given him real authority. His policy was to assert his rights in the strongest form, but to show his mildness and good will by refraining from carrying them out to the uttermost. By right of conquest William claimed nothing. He had come to take his crown, and he had unluckily met with some opposition in taking it. The crown lands of King Edward passed of course to his successor. As for the lands of other men, in William's theory all was forfeited to the crown. The lawful heir had been driven to seek his kingdom in arms; no Englishman had helped him; many Englishmen had fought against him. All then were directly or indirectly traitors. The King might lawfully deal with the lands of all as his own. But in the greater part of the kingdom it was impossible, in no part was it prudent, to carry out this doctrine in its fulness. A passage in Domesday, compared with a passage in the English Chronicles, shows that, soon after William's coronation, the English as a body, within the lands already conquered, redeemed their lands. They bought them back at a price, and held them as a fresh grant from King William. Some special offenders, living and dead, were exempted from this favour. The King took to himself the estates of the house of Godwine, save those of Edith, the widow of his revered predecessor, whom it was his policy to treat with all honour. The lands too of those who had died on Senlac were granted back to their heirs only of special favour, sometimes under the name of alms. Thus, from the beginning of his reign, William began to make himself richer than any king that had been before him in England or than any other Western king of his day. He could both punish his enemies and reward his friends. Much of what he took he kept; much he granted away, mainly to his foreign followers, but sometimes also to Englishmen who had in any way won his favour. Wiggod of Wallingford was one of the very few Englishmen who kept and received estates which put them alongside of the great Norman landowners. The doctrine that all land was held of the King was now put into a practical shape. All, Englishmen and strangers, not only became William's subjects, but his men and his grantees. Thus he went on during his whole reign. There was no sudden change from the old state of things to the new. After the general redemption of lands, gradually carried out as William's power advanced, no general blow was dealt at Englishmen as such. They were not, like some conquered nations, formally degraded or put under any legal incapacities in their own land. William simply distinguished between his loyal and his disloyal subjects, and used his opportunities for punishing the disloyal and rewarding the loyal. Such punishments and rewards naturally took the shape of confiscations and grants of land. If punishment was commonly the lot of the Englishman, and reward was the lot of the stranger, that was only because King William treated all men as they deserved. Most Englishmen were disloyal; most strangers were loyal. But disloyal strangers and loyal Englishmen fared according to their deserts. The final result of this process, begun now and steadily carried on, was that, by the end of William's reign, the foreign king was surrounded by a body of foreign landowners and office-bearers of foreign birth. When, in the early days of his conquest, he gathered round him the great men of his realm, it was still an English assembly with a sprinkling of strangers. By the end of his reign it had changed, step by step, into an assembly of strangers with a sprinkling of Englishmen.

This revolution, which practically transferred the greater part of the soil of England to the hands of strangers, was great indeed. But it must not be mistaken for a sudden blow, for an irregular scramble, for a formal proscription of Englishmen as such. William, according to his character and practice, was able to do all this gradually, according to legal forms, and without drawing any formal distinction between natives and strangers. All land was held of the King of the English, according to the law of England. It may seem strange how such a process of spoliation, veiled under a legal fiction, could have been carried out without resistance. It was easier because it was gradual and piecemeal. The whole country was not touched at once, nor even the whole of any one district. One man lost his land while his neighbour kept his, and he who kept his land was not likely to join in the possible plots of the other. And though the land had never seen so great a confiscation, or one so largely for the behoof of foreigners, yet there was nothing new in the thing itself. Danes had settled under Cnut, and Normans and other Frenchmen under Edward. Confiscation of land was the everyday punishment for various public and private crimes. In any change, such as we should call a change of ministry, as at the fall and the return of Godwine, outlawry and forfeiture of lands was the usual doom of the weaker party, a milder doom than the judicial massacres of later ages. Even a conquest of England was nothing new, and William at this stage contrasted favourably with Cnut, whose early days were marked by the death of not a few. William, at any rate since his crowning, had shed the blood of no man. Men perhaps thought that things might have been much worse, and that they were not unlikely to mend. Anyhow, weakened, cowed, isolated, the people of the conquered shires submitted humbly to the Conqueror's will. It needed a kind of oppression of which William himself was never guilty to stir them into actual revolt.

The provocation was not long in coming. Within three months after his coronation, William paid a visit to his native duchy. The ruler of two states could not be always in either; he owed it to his old subjects to show himself among them in his new character; and his absence might pass as a sign of the trust he put in his new subjects. But the means which he took to secure their obedience brought out his one weak point. We cannot believe that he really wished to goad the people into rebellion; yet the choice of his lieutenants might seem almost like it. He was led astray by partiality for his brother and for his dearest friend. To Bishop Ode of Bayeux, and to William Fitz-Osbern, the son of his early guardian, he gave earldoms, that of Kent to Odo, that of Hereford to William. The Conqueror was determined before all things that his kingdom should be united and obedient; England should not be split up like Gaul and Germany; he would have no man in England whose formal homage should carry with it as little of practical obedience as his own homage to the King of the French. A Norman earl of all Wessex or all Mercia might strive after such a position. William therefore forsook the old practice of dividing the whole kingdom into earldoms. In the peaceful central shires he would himself rule through his sheriffs and other immediate officers; he would appoint earls only in dangerous border districts where they were needed as military commanders. All William's earls were in fact MARQUESSES, guardians of a march or frontier. Ode had to keep Kent against attacks from the continent; William Fitz-Osbern had to keep Herefordshire against the Welsh and the independent English. This last shire had its own local warfare. William's authority did not yet reach over all the shires beyond London and Hereford; but Harold had allowed some of Edward's Norman favourites to keep power there. Hereford then and part of its shire formed an isolated part of William's dominions, while the lands around remained unsubdued. William Fitz-Osbern had to guard this dangerous land as earl. But during the King's absence both he and Ode received larger commissions as viceroys over the whole kingdom. Ode guarded the South and William the North and North-East. Norwich, a town dangerous from its easy communication with Denmark, was specially under his care. The nominal earls of the rest of the land, Edwin, Morkere, and Waltheof, with Edgar, King of a moment, Archbishop Stigand, and a number of other chief men, William took with him to Normandy. Nominally his cherished friends and guests, they went in truth, as one of the English Chroniclers calls them, as hostages.

William's stay in Normandy lasted about six months. It was chiefly devoted to rejoicings and religious ceremonies, but partly to Norman legislation. Rich gifts from the spoils of England were given to the churches of Normandy; gifts richer still were sent to the Church of Rome whose favour had wrought so much for William. In exchange for the banner of Saint Peter, Harold's standard of the Fighting-man was sent as an offering to the head of all churches. While William was in Normandy, Archbishop Maurilius of Rouen died. The whole duchy named Lanfranc as his successor; but he declined the post, and was himself sent to Rome to bring the pallium for the new archbishop John, a kinsman of the ducal house. Lanfranc doubtless refused the see of Rouen only because he was designed for a yet greater post in England; the subtlest diplomatist in Europe was not sent to Rome merely to ask for the pallium for Archbishop John.

Meanwhile William's choice of lieutenants bore its fruit in England. They wrought such oppression as William himself never wrought. The inferior leaders did as they thought good, and the two earls restrained them not. The earls meanwhile were in one point there faithfully carrying out the policy of their master in the building of castles; a work, which specially when the work of Ode and William Fitz-Osbern, is always spoken of by the native writers with marked horror. The castles were the badges and the instruments of the Conquest, the special means of holding the land in bondage. Meanwhile tumults broke forth in various parts. The slaughter of Copsige, William's earl in Northumberland, took place about the time of the King's sailing for Normandy. In independent Herefordshire the leading Englishman in those parts, Eadric, whom the Normans called the WILD, allied himself with the Welsh, harried the obedient lands, and threatened the castle of Hereford. Nothing was done on either side beyond harrying and skirmishes; but Eadric's corner of the land remained unsubdued. The men of Kent made a strange foreign alliance with Eustace of Boulogne, the brother-in-law of Edward, the man whose deeds had led to the great movement of Edward's reign, to the banishment and the return of Godwine. He had fought against England on Senlac, and was one of four who had dealt the last blow to the wounded Harold. But the oppression of Ode made the Kentishmen glad to seek any help against him. Eustace, now William's enemy, came over, and gave help in an unsuccessful attack on Dover castle. Meanwhile in the obedient shires men were making ready for revolt; in the unsubdued lands they were making ready for more active defence. Many went beyond sea to ask for foreign help, specially in the kindred lands of Denmark and Northern Germany. Against this threatening movement William's strength lay in the incapacity of his enemies for combined action. The whole land never rose at once, and Danish help did not come at the times or in the shape when it could have done most good.

The news of these movements brought William back to England in December. He kept the Midwinter feast and assembly at Westminster; there the absent Eustace was, by a characteristic stroke of policy, arraigned as a traitor. He was a foreign prince against whom the Duke of the Normans might have led a Norman army. But he had also become an English landowner, and in that character he was accountable to the King and Witan of England. He suffered the traitor's punishment of confiscation of lands. Afterwards he contrived to win back William's favour, and he left great English possessions to his second wife and his son. Another stroke of policy was to send an embassy to Denmark, to ward off the hostile purposes of Swegen, and to choose as ambassador an English prelate who had been in high favour with both Edward and Harold, AEthelsige, Abbot of Ramsey. It came perhaps of his mission that Swegen practically did nothing for two years. The envoy's own life was a chequered one. He lost William's favour, and sought shelter in Denmark. He again regained William's favour--perhaps by some service at the Danish court--and died in possession of his abbey.

It is instructive to see how in this same assembly William bestowed several great offices. The earldom of Northumberland was vacant by the slaughter of two earls, the bishopric of Dorchester by the peaceful death of its bishop. William had no real authority in any part of Northumberland, or in more than a small part of the diocese of Dorchester. But he dealt with both earldom and bishopric as in his own power. It was now that he granted Northumberland to Gospatric. The appointment to the bishopric was the beginning of a new system. Englishmen were now to give way step by step to strangers in the highest offices and greatest estates of the land. He had already made two Norman earls, but they were to act as military commanders. He now made an English earl, whose earldom was likely to be either nominal or fatal. The appointment of Remigius of Fecamp to the see of Dorchester was of more real importance. It is the beginning of William's ecclesiastical reign, the first step in William's scheme of making the Church his instrument in keeping down the conquered. While William lived, no Englishman was appointed to a bishopric. As bishoprics became vacant by death, foreigners were nominated, and excuses were often found for hastening a vacancy by deprivation. At the end of William's reign one English bishop only was left. With abbots, as having less temporal power than bishops, the rule was less strict. Foreigners were preferred, but Englishmen were not wholly shut out. And the general process of confiscation and regrant of lands was vigorously carried out. The Kentish revolt and the general movement must have led to many forfeitures and to further grants to loyal men of either nation. As the English Chronicles pithily puts it, "the King gave away every man's land."

William could soon grant lands in new parts of England. In February 1068 he for the first time went forth to warfare with those whom he called his subjects, but who had never submitted to him. In the course of the year a large part of England was in arms against him. But there was no concert; the West rose and the North rose; but the West rose first, and the North did not rise till the West had been subdued. Western England threw off the purely passive state which had lasted through the year 1067. Hitherto each side had left the other alone. But now the men of the West made ready for a more direct opposition to the foreign government. If they could not drive William out of what he had already won, they would at least keep him from coming any further. Exeter, the greatest city of the West, was the natural centre of resistance; the smaller towns, at least of Devonshire and Dorset entered into a league with the capital. They seem to have aimed, like Italian cities in the like case, at the formation of a civic confederation, which might perhaps find it expedient to acknowledge William as an external lord, but which would maintain perfect internal independence. Still, as Gytha, widow of Godwine, mother of Harold, was within the walls of Exeter, the movement was doubtless also in some sort on behalf of the House of Godwine. In any case, Exeter and the lands and towns in its alliance with Exeter strengthened themselves in every way against attack.

Things were not now as on the day of Senlac, when Englishmen on their own soil withstood one who, however he might cloke his enterprise, was to them simply a foreign invader. But William was not yet, as he was in some later struggles, the DE FACTO king of the whole land, whom all had acknowledged, and opposition to whom was in form rebellion. He now held an intermediate position. He was still an invader; for Exeter had never submitted to him; but the crowned King of the English, peacefully ruling over many shires, was hardly a mere invader; resistance to him would have the air of rebellion in the eyes of many besides William and his flatterers. And they could not see, what we plainly see, what William perhaps dimly saw, that it was in the long run better for Exeter, or any other part of England, to share, even in conquest, the fate of the whole land, rather than to keep on a precarious independence to the aggravation of the common bondage. This we feel throughout; William, with whatever motive, is fighting for the unity of England. We therefore cannot seriously regret his successes. But none the less honour is due to the men whom the duty of the moment bade to withstand him. They could not see things as we see them by the light of eight hundred years.

The movement evidently stirred several shires; but it is only of Exeter that we hear any details. William never used force till he had tried negotiation. He sent messengers demanding that the citizens should take oaths to him and receive him within their walls. The choice lay now between unconditional submission and valiant resistance. But the chief men of the city chose a middle course which could gain nothing. They answered as an Italian city might have answered a Swabian Emperor. They would not receive the King within their walls; they would take no oaths to him; but they would pay him the tribute which they had paid to earlier kings. That is, they would not have him as king, but only as overlord over a commonwealth otherwise independent. William's answer was short; "It is not my custom to take subjects on those conditions." He set out on his march; his policy was to overcome the rebellious English by the arms of the loyal English. He called out the FYRD, the militia, of all or some of the shires under his obedience. They answered his call; to disobey it would have needed greater courage than to wield the axe on Senlac. This use of English troops became William's custom in all his later wars, in England and on the mainland; but of course he did not trust to English troops only. The plan of the campaign was that which had won Le Mans and London. The towns of Dorset were frightfully harried on the march to the capital of the West. Disunion at once broke out; the leading men in Exeter sent to offer unconditional submission and to give hostages. But the commonalty disowned the agreement; notwithstanding the blinding of one of the hostages before the walls, they defended the city valiantly for eighteen days. It was only when the walls began to crumble away beneath William's mining-engines that the men of Exeter at last submitted to his mercy. And William's mercy could be trusted. No man was harmed in life, limb, or goods. But, to hinder further revolts, a castle was at once begun, and the payments made by the city to the King were largely raised.

Gytha, when the city yielded, withdrew to the Steep Holm, and thence to Flanders. Her grandsons fled to Ireland; from thence, in the course of the same year and the next, they twice landed in Somerset and Devonshire. The Irish Danes who followed them could not be kept back from plunder. Englishmen as well as Normans withstood them, and the hopes of the House of Godwine came to an end.

On the conquest of Exeter followed the submission of the whole West. All the land south of the Thames was now in William's obedience. Gloucestershire seems to have submitted at the same time; the submission of Worcestershire is without date. A vast confiscation of lands followed, most likely by slow degrees. Its most memorable feature is that nearly all Cornwall was granted to William's brother Robert Count of Mortain. His vast estate grew into the famous Cornish earldom and duchy of later times. Southern England was now conquered, and, as the North had not stirred during the stirring of the West, the whole land was outwardly at peace. William now deemed it safe to bring his wife to share his new greatness. The Duchess Matilda came over to England, and was hallowed to Queen at Westminster by Archbishop Ealdred. We may believe that no part of his success gave William truer pleasure. But the presence of the Lady was important in another way. It was doubtless by design that she gave birth on English soil to her youngest son, afterwards the renowned King Henry the First. He alone of William's children was in any sense an Englishman. Born on English ground, son of a crowned King and his Lady, Englishmen looked on him as a countryman. And his father saw the wisdom of encouraging such a feeling. Henry, surnamed in after days the Clerk, was brought up with special care; he was trained in many branches of learning unusual among the princes of his age, among them in a thorough knowledge of the tongue of his native land.

The campaign of Exeter is of all William's English campaigns the richest in political teaching. We see how near the cities of England came for a moment--as we shall presently see a chief city of northern Gaul--to running the same course as the cities of Italy and Provence. Signs of the same tendency may sometimes be suspected elsewhere, but they are not so clearly revealed. William's later campaigns are of the deepest importance in English history; they are far richer in recorded personal actors than the siege of Exeter; but they hardly throw so much light on the character of William and his statesmanship. William is throughout ever ready, but never hasty-- always willing to wait when waiting seems the best policy--always ready to accept a nominal success when there is a chance of turning it into a real one, but never accepting nominal success as a cover for defeat, never losing an inch of ground without at once taking measures to recover it. By this means, he has in the former part of 1068 extended his dominion to the Land's End; before the end of the year he extends it to the Tees. In the next year he has indeed to win it back again; but he does win it back and more also. Early in 1070 he was at last, in deed as well as in name, full King over all England.

The North was making ready for war while the war in the West went on, but one part of England did nothing to help the other. In the summer the movement in the North took shape. The nominal earls Edwin, Morkere, and Gospatric, with the AEtheling Edgar and others, left William's court to put themselves at the head of the movement. Edwin was specially aggrieved, because the king had promised him one of his daughters in marriage, but had delayed giving her to him. The English formed alliances with the dependent princes of Wales and Scotland, and stood ready to withstand any attack. William set forth; as he had taken Exeter, he took Warwick, perhaps Leicester. This was enough for Edwin and Morkere. They submitted, and were again received to favour. More valiant spirits withdrew northward, ready to defend Durham as the last shelter of independence, while Edgar and Gospatric fled to the court of Malcolm of Scotland. William went on, receiving the submission of Nottingham and York; thence he turned southward, receiving on his way the submission of Lincoln, Cambridge, and Huntingdon. Again he deemed it his policy to establish his power in the lands which he had already won rather than to jeopard matters by at once pressing farther. In the conquered towns he built castles, and he placed permanent garrisons in each district by granting estates to his Norman and other followers. Different towns and districts suffered in different degrees, according doubtless to the measure of resistance met with in each. Lincoln and Lincolnshire were on the whole favourably treated. An unusual number of Englishmen kept lands and offices in city and shire. At Leicester and Northampton, and in their shires, the wide confiscations and great destruction of houses point to a stout resistance. And though Durham was still untouched, and though William had assuredly no present purpose of attacking Scotland, he found it expedient to receive with all favour a nominal submission brought from the King of Scots by the hands of the Bishop of Durham.

If William's policy ever seems less prudent than usual, it was at the beginning of the next year, 1069. The extreme North still stood out. William had twice commissioned English earls of Northumberland to take possession if they could. He now risked the dangerous step of sending a stranger. Robert of Comines was appointed to the earldom forfeited by the flight of Gospatric. While it was still winter, he went with his force to Durham. By help of the Bishop, he was admitted into the city, but he and his whole force were cut off by the people of Durham and its neighbourhood. Robert's expedition in short led only to a revolt of York, where Edgar was received and siege was laid to the castle. William marched in person with all speed; he relieved the castle; he recovered the city and strengthened it by a second castle on the other side of the river. Still he thought it prudent to take no present steps against Durham. Soon after this came the second attempt of Harold's sons in the West.

Later in this year William's final warfare for the kingdom began. In August, 1069 the long-promised help from Denmark came. Swegen sent his brother Osbeorn and his sons Harold and Cnut, at the head of the whole strength of Denmark and of other Northern lands. If the two enterprises of Harold's sons had been planned in concert with their Danish kinsmen, the invaders or deliverers from opposite sides had failed to act together. Nor are Swegen's own objects quite clear. He sought to deliver England from William and his Normans, but it is not so plain in whose interest he acted. He would naturally seek the English crown for himself or for one of his sons; the sons of Harold he would rather make earls than kings. But he could feel no interest in the kingship of Edgar. Yet, when the Danish fleet entered the Humber, and the whole force of the North came to meet it, the English host had the heir of Cerdic at its head. It is now that Waltheof the son of Siward, Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon, first stands out as a leading actor. Gospatric too was there; but this time not Edwin and Morkere. Danes and English joined and marched upon York; the city was occupied; the castles were taken; the Norman commanders were made prisoners, but not till they had set fire to the city and burned the greater part of it, along with the metropolitan minster. It is amazing to read that, after breaking down the castles, the English host dispersed, and the Danish fleet withdrew into the Humber.

England was again ruined by lack of concert. The news of the coming of the Danes led only to isolated movements which were put down piecemeal. The men of Somerset and Dorset and the men of Devonshire and Cornwall were put down separately, and the movement in Somerset was largely put down by English troops. The citizens of Exeter, as well as the Norman garrison of the castle, stood a siege on behalf of William. A rising on the Welsh border under Eadric led only to the burning of Shrewsbury; a rising in Staffordshire was held by William to call for his own presence. But he first marched into Lindesey, and drove the crews of the Danish ships across into Holderness; there he left two Norman leaders, one of them his brother Robert of Mortain and Cornwall; he then went westward and subdued Staffordshire, and marched towards York by way of Nottingham. A constrained delay by the Aire gave him an opportunity for negotiation with the Danish leaders. Osbeorn took bribes to forsake the English cause, and William reached and entered York without resistance. He restored the castles and kept his Christmas in the half-burned city. And now William forsook his usual policy of clemency. The Northern shires had been too hard to win. To weaken them, he decreed a merciless harrying of the whole land, the direct effects of which were seen for many years, and which left its mark on English history for ages. Till the growth of modern industry reversed the relative position of Northern and Southern England, the old Northumbrian kingdom never fully recovered from the blow dealt by William, and remained the most backward part of the land. Herein comes one of the most remarkable results of William's coming. His greatest work was to make England a kingdom which no man henceforth thought of dividing. But the circumstances of his conquest of Northern England ruled that for several centuries the unity of England should take the form of a distinct preponderance of Southern England over Northern. William's reign strengthened every tendency that way, chiefly by the fearful blow now dealt to the physical strength and well-being of the Northern shires. From one side indeed the Norman Conquest was truly a Saxon conquest. The King of London and Winchester became more fully than ever king over the whole land.

The Conqueror had now only to gather in what was still left to conquer. But, as military exploits, none are more memorable than the winter marches which put William into full possession of England. The lands beyond Tees still held out; in January 1070 he set forth to subdue them. The Earls Waltheof and Gospatric made their submission, Waltheof in person, Gospatric by proxy. William restored both of them to their earldoms, and received Waltheof to his highest favour, giving him his niece Judith in marriage. But he systematically wasted the land, as he had wasted Yorkshire. He then returned to York, and thence set forth to subdue the last city and shire that held out. A fearful march led him to the one remaining fragment of free England, the unconquered land of Chester. We know not how Chester fell; but the land was not won without fighting, and a frightful harrying was the punishment. In all this we see a distinct stage of moral downfall in the character of the Conqueror. Yet it is thoroughly characteristic. All is calm, deliberate, politic. William will have no more revolts, and he will at any cost make the land incapable of revolt. Yet, as ever, there is no blood shed save in battle. If men died of hunger, that was not William's doing; nay, charitable people like Abbot AEthelwig of Evesham might do what they could to help the sufferers. But the lawful king, kept so long out of his kingdom, would, at whatever price, be king over the whole land. And the great harrying of the northern shires was the price paid for William's kingship over them.

At Chester the work was ended which had begun at Pevensey. Less than three years and a half, with intervals of peace, had made the Norman invader king over all England. He had won the kingdom; he had now to keep it. He had for seventeen years to deal with revolts on both sides of the sea, with revolts both of Englishmen and of his own followers. But in England his power was never shaken; in England he never knew defeat. His English enemies he had subdued; the Danes were allowed to remain and in some sort to help in his work by plundering during the winter. The King now marched to the Salisbury of that day, the deeply fenced hill of Old Sarum. The men who had conquered England were reviewed in the great plain, and received their rewards. Some among them had by failures of duty during the winter marches lost their right to reward. Their punishment was to remain under arms forty days longer than their comrades. William could trust himself to the very mutineers whom he had picked out for punishment. He had now to begin his real reign; and the champion of the Church had before all things to reform the evil customs of the benighted islanders, and to give them shepherds of their souls who might guide them in the right way,

CHAPTER IX--THE SETTLEMENT OF ENGLAND--1070-1086

England was now fully conquered, and William could for a moment sit down quietly to the rule of the kingdom that he had won. The time that immediately followed is spoken of as a time of comparative quiet, and of less oppression than the times either before or after. Before and after, warfare, on one side of the sea or the other, was the main business. Hitherto William has been winning his kingdom in arms. Afterwards he was more constantly called away to his foreign dominions, and his absence always led to greater oppression in England. Just now he had a moment of repose, when he could give his mind to the affairs of Church and State in England. Peace indeed was not quite unbroken. Events were tending to that famous revolt in the Fenland which is perhaps the best remembered part of William's reign. But even this movement was merely local, and did not seriously interfere with William's government. He was now striving to settle the land in peace, and to make his rule as little grievous to the conquered as might be. The harrying of Northumberland showed that he now shrank from no harshness that would serve his ends; but from mere purposeless oppression he was still free. Nor was he ever inclined to needless change or to that scorn of the conquered which meaner conquerors have often shown. He clearly wished both to change and to oppress as little as he could. This is a side of him which has been greatly misunderstood, largely through the book that passes for the History of Ingulf Abbot of Crowland. Ingulf was William's English secretary; a real history of his writing would be most precious. But the book that goes by his name is a forgery not older than the fourteenth century, and is in all points contradicted by the genuine documents of the time. Thus the forger makes William try to abolish the English language and order the use of French in legal writings. This is pure fiction. The truth is that, from the time of William's coming, English goes out of use in legal writings, but only gradually, and not in favour of French. Ever since the coming of Augustine, English and Latin had been alternative tongues; after the coming of William English becomes less usual, and in the course of the twelfth century it goes out of use in favour of Latin. There are no French documents till the thirteenth century, and in that century English begins again. Instead of abolishing the English tongue, William took care that his English-born son should learn it, and he even began to learn it himself. A king of those days held it for his duty to hear and redress his subjects' complaints; he had to go through the land and see for himself that those who acted in his name did right among his people. This earlier kings had done; this William wished to do; but he found his ignorance of English a hindrance. Cares of other kinds checked his English studies, but he may have learned enough to understand the meaning of his own English charters. Nor did William try, as he is often imagined to have done, to root out the ancient institutions of England, and to set up in their stead either the existing institutions of Normandy or some new institutions of his own devising. The truth is that with William began a gradual change in the laws and customs of England, undoubtedly great, but far less than is commonly thought. French names have often supplanted English, and have made the amount of change seem greater than it really was. Still much change did follow on the Norman Conquest, and the Norman Conquest was so completely William's own act that all that came of it was in some sort his act also. But these changes were mainly the gradual results of the state of things which followed William's coming; they were but very slightly the results of any formal acts of his. With a foreign king and foreigners in all high places, much practical change could not fail to follow, even where the letter of the law was unchanged. Still the practical change was less than if the letter of the law had been changed as well. English law was administered by foreign judges; the foreign grantees of William held English land according to English law. The Norman had no special position as a Norman; in every rank except perhaps the very highest and the very lowest, he had Englishmen to his fellows. All this helped to give the Norman Conquest of England its peculiar character, to give it an air of having swept away everything English, while its real work was to turn strangers into Englishmen. And that character was impressed on William's work by William himself. The king claiming by legal right, but driven to assert his right by the sword, was unlike both the foreign king who comes in by peaceful succession and the foreign king who comes in without even the pretext of law. The Normans too, if born soldiers, were also born lawyers, and no man was more deeply impressed with the legal spirit than William himself. He loved neither to change the law nor to transgress the law, and he had little need to do either. He knew how to make the law his instrument, and, without either changing or transgressing it, to use it to make himself all- powerful. He thoroughly enjoyed that system of legal fictions and official euphemisms which marks his reign. William himself became in some sort an Englishman, and those to whom he granted English lands had in some sort to become Englishmen in order to hold them. The Norman stepped into the exact place of the Englishman whose land he held; he took his rights and his burthens, and disputes about those rights and burthens were judged according to English law by the witness of Englishmen. Reigning over two races in one land, William would be lord of both alike, able to use either against the other in case of need. He would make the most of everything in the feelings and customs of either that tended to strengthen his own hands. And, in the state of things in which men then found themselves, whatever strengthened William's hands strengthened law and order in his kingdom.

There was therefore nothing to lead William to make any large changes in the letter of the English law. The powers of a King of the English, wielded as he knew how to wield them, made him as great as he could wish to be. Once granting the original wrong of his coming at all and bringing a host of strangers with him, there is singularly little to blame in the acts of the Conqueror. Of bloodshed, of wanton interference with law and usage, there is wonderfully little. Englishmen and Normans were held to have settled down in peace under the equal protection of King William. The two races were drawing together; the process was beginning which, a hundred years later, made it impossible, in any rank but the highest and the lowest, to distinguish Norman from Englishman. Among the smaller landowners and the townsfolk this intermingling had already begun, while earls and bishops were not yet so exclusively Norman, nor had the free churls of England as yet sunk so low as at a later stage. Still some legislation was needed to settle the relations of the two races. King William proclaimed the "renewal of the law of King Edward." This phrase has often been misunderstood; it is a common form when peace and good order are restored after a period of disturbance. The last reign which is looked back to as to a time of good government becomes the standard of good government, and it is agreed between king and people, between contending races or parties, that things shall be as they were in the days of the model ruler. So we hear in Normandy of the renewal of the law of Rolf, and in England of the renewal of the law of Cnut. So at an earlier time Danes and Englishmen agreed in the renewal of the law of Edgar. So now Normans and Englishmen agreed in the renewal of the law of Edward. There was no code either of Edward's or of William's making. William simply bound himself to rule as Edward had ruled. But in restoring the law of King Edward, he added, "with the additions which I have decreed for the advantage of the people of the English."

These few words are indeed weighty. The little legislation of William's reign takes throughout the shape of additions. Nothing old is repealed; a few new enactments are set up by the side of the old ones. And these words describe, not only William's actual legislation, but the widest general effect of his coming. The Norman Conquest did little towards any direct abolition of the older English laws or institutions. But it set up some new institutions alongside of old ones; and it brought in not a few names, habits, and ways of looking at things, which gradually did their work. In England no man has pulled down; many have added and modified. Our law is still the law of King Edward with the additions of King William. Some old institutions took new names; some new institutions with new names sprang up by the side of old ones. Sometimes the old has lasted, sometimes the new. We still have a KING and not a ROY; but he gathers round him a PARLIAMENT and not a VITENAGEMOT. We have a SHERIFF and not a VISCOUNT; but his district is more commonly called a COUNTY than a SHIRE. But COUNTY and SHIRE are French and English for the same thing, and "parliament" is simply French for the "deep speech" which King William had with his Witan. The National Assembly of England has changed its name and its constitution more than once; but it has never been changed by any sudden revolution, never till later times by any formal enactment. There was no moment when one kind of assembly supplanted another. And this has come because our Conqueror was, both by his disposition and his circumstances, led to act as a preserver and not as a destroyer.

The greatest recorded acts of William, administrative and legislative, come in the last days of his reign. But there are several enactments of William belonging to various periods of his reign, and some of them to this first moment of peace. Here we distinctly see William as an English statesman, as a statesman who knew how to work a radical change under conservative forms. One enactment, perhaps the earliest of all, provided for the safety of the strangers who had come with him to subdue and to settle in the land. The murder of a Norman by an Englishman, especially of a Norman intruder by a dispossessed Englishman, was a thing that doubtless often happened. William therefore provides for the safety of those whom he calls "the men whom I brought with me or who have come after me;" that is, the warriors of Senlac, Exeter, and York. These men are put within his own peace; wrong done to them is wrong done to the King, his crown and dignity. If the murderer cannot be found, the lord and, failing him, the hundred, must make payment to the King. Of this grew the presentment of ENGLISHRY, one of the few formal badges of distinction between the conquering and the conquered race. Its practical need could not have lasted beyond a generation or two, but it went on as a form ages after it had lost all meaning. An unknown corpse, unless it could be proved that the dead man was English, was assumed to be that of a man who had come with King William, and the fine was levied. Some other enactments were needed when two nations lived side by side in the same land. As in earlier times, Roman and barbarian each kept his own law, so now for some purposes the Frenchman--"Francigena"--and the Englishman kept their own law. This is chiefly with regard to the modes of appealing to God's judgement in doubtful cases. The English did this by ordeal, the Normans by wager of battle. When a man of one nation appealed a man of the other, the accused chose the mode of trial. If an Englishman appealed a Frenchman and declined to prove his charge either way, the Frenchman might clear himself by oath. But these privileges were strictly confined to Frenchmen who had come with William and after him. Frenchmen who had in Edward's time settled in England as the land of their own choice, reckoned as Englishmen. Other enactments, fresh enactments of older laws, touched both races. The slave trade was rife in its worst form; men were sold out of the land, chiefly to the Danes of Ireland. Earlier kings had denounced the crime, and earlier bishops had preached against it. William denounced it again under the penalty of forfeiture of all lands and goods, and Saint Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester, persuaded the chief offenders, Englishmen of Bristol, to give up their darling sin for a season. Yet in the next reign Anselm and his synod had once more to denounce the crime under spiritual penalties, when they had no longer the strong arm of William to enforce them.

Another law bears more than all the personal impress of William. In it he at once, on one side, forestalls the most humane theories of modern times, and on the other sins most directly against them. His remarkable unwillingness to put any man to death, except among the chances of the battle-field, was to some extent the feeling of his age. With him the feeling takes the shape of a formal law. He forbids the infliction of death for any crime whatever. But those who may on this score be disposed to claim the Conqueror as a sympathizer will be shocked at the next enactment. Those crimes which kings less merciful than William would have punished with death are to be punished with loss of eyes or other foul and cruel mutilations. Punishments of this kind now seem more revolting than death, though possibly, now as then, the sufferer himself might think otherwise. But in those days to substitute mutilation for death, in the case of crimes which were held to deserve death, was universally deemed an act of mercy. Grave men shrank from sending their fellow-creatures out of the world, perhaps without time for repentance; but physical sympathy with physical suffering had little place in their minds. In the next century a feeling against bodily mutilation gradually comes in; but as yet the mildest and most thoughtful men, Anselm himself, make no protest against it when it is believed to be really deserved. There is no sign of any general complaint on this score. The English Chronicler applauds the strict police of which mutilation formed a part, and in one case he deliberately holds it to be the fitting punishment of the offence. In fact, when penal settlements were unknown and legal prisons were few and loathsome, there was something to be said for a punishment which disabled the criminal from repeating his offence. In William's jurisprudence mutilation became the ordinary sentence of the murderer, the robber, the ravisher, sometimes also of English revolters against William's power. We must in short balance his mercy against the mercy of Kirk and Jeffreys.

The ground on which the English Chronicler does raise his wail on behalf of his countrymen is the special jurisprudence of the forests and the extortions of money with which he charges the Conqueror. In both these points the royal hand became far heavier under the Norman rule. In both William's character grew darker as he grew older. He is charged with unlawful exactions of money, in his character alike of sovereign and of landlord. We read of his sharp practice in dealing with the profits of the royal demesnes. He would turn out the tenant to whom he had just let the land, if another offered a higher rent. But with regard to taxation, we must remember that William's exactions, however heavy at the time, were a step in the direction of regular government. In those days all taxation was disliked. Direct taking of the subject's money by the King was deemed an extraordinary resource to be justified only by some extraordinary emergency, to buy off the Danes or to hire soldiers against them. Men long after still dreamed that the King could "live of his own," that he could pay all expenses of his court and government out of the rents and services due to him as a landowner, without asking his people for anything in the character of sovereign. Demands of money on behalf of the King now became both heavier and more frequent. And another change which had long been gradually working now came to a head. When, centuries later, the King was bidden to "live of his own," men had forgotten that the land of the King had once been the land of the nation. In all Teutonic communities, great and small, just as in the city communities of Greece and Italy, the community itself was a chief landowner. The nation had its FOLKLAND, its AGER PUBLICUS, the property of no one man but of the whole state. Out of this, by the common consent, portions might be cut off and BOOKED--granted by a written document--to particular men as their own BOOKLAND. The King might have his private estate, to be dealt with at his own pleasure, but of the FOLKLAND, the land of the nation, he was only the chief administrator, bound to act by the advice of his Witan. But in this case more than in others, the advice of the Witan could not fail to become formal; the FOLKLAND, ever growing through confiscations, ever lessening through grants, gradually came to be looked on as the land of the King, to be dealt with as he thought good. We must not look for any change formally enacted; but in Edward's day the notion of FOLKLAND, as the possession of the nation and not of the King, could have been only a survival, and in William's day even the survival passed away. The land which was practically the land of King Edward became, as a matter of course, TERRA REGIS, the land of King William. That land was now enlarged by greater confiscations and lessened by greater grants than ever. For a moment, every lay estate had been part of the land of William. And far more than had been the land of the nation remained the land of the King, to be dealt with as he thought good.

In the tenure of land William seems to have made no formal change. But the circumstances of his reign gave increased strength to certain tendencies which had been long afloat. And out of them, in the next reign, the malignant genius of Randolf Flambard devised a systematic code of oppression. Yet even in his work there is little of formal change. There are no laws of William Rufus. The so called feudal incidents, the claims of marriage, wardship, and the like, on the part of the lord, the ancient HERIOT developed into the later RELIEF, all these things were in the germ under William, as they had been in the germ long before him. In the hands of Randolf Flambard they stiffen into established custom; their legal acknowledgement comes from the charter of Henry the First which promises to reform their abuses. Thus the Conqueror clearly claimed the right to interfere with the marriages of his nobles, at any rate to forbid a marriage to which he objected on grounds of policy. Under Randolf Flambard this became a regular claim, which of course was made a means of extorting money. Under Henry the claim is regulated and modified, but by being regulated and modified, it is legally established.

The ordinary administration of the kingdom went on under William, greatly modified by the circumstances of his reign, but hardly at all changed in outward form. Like the kings that were before him, he "wore his crown" at the three great feasts, at Easter at Winchester, at Pentecost at Westminster, at Christmas at Gloucester. Like the kings that were before him, he gathered together the great men of the realm, and when need was, the small men also. Nothing seems to have been changed in the constitution or the powers of the assembly; but its spirit must have been utterly changed. The innermost circle, earls, bishops, great officers of state and household, gradually changed from a body of Englishmen with a few strangers among them into a body of strangers among whom two or three Englishmen still kept their places. The result of their "deep speech" with William was not likely to be other than an assent to William's will. The ordinary freeman did not lose his abstract right to come and shout "Yea, yea," to any addition that King William made to the law of King Edward. But there would be nothing to tempt him to come, unless King William thought fit to bid him. But once at least William did gather together, if not every freeman, at least all freeholders of the smallest account. On one point the Conqueror had fully made up his mind; on one point he was to be a benefactor to his kingdom through all succeeding ages. The realm of England was to be one and indivisible. No ruler or subject in the kingdom of England should again dream that that kingdom could be split asunder. When he offered Harold the underkingship of the realm or of some part of it, he did so doubtless only in the full conviction that the offer would be refused. No such offer should be heard of again. There should be no such division as had been between Cnut and Edmund, between Harthacnut and the first Harold, such as Edwin and Morkere had dreamed of in later times. Nor should the kingdom be split asunder in that subtler way which William of all men best understood, the way in which the Frankish kingdoms, East and West, had split asunder. He would have no dukes or earls who might become kings in all but name, each in his own duchy or earldom. No man in his realm should be to him as he was to his overlord at Paris. No man in his realm should plead duty towards an immediate lord as an excuse for breach of duty towards the lord of that immediate lord. Hence William's policy with regard to earldoms. There was to be nothing like the great governments which had been held by Godwine, Leofric, and Siward; an Earl of the West- Saxons or the Northumbrians was too like a Duke of the Normans to be endured by one who was Duke of the Normans himself. The earl, even of the king's appointment, still represented the separate being of the district over which he was set. He was the king's representative rather than merely his officer; if he was a magistrate and not a prince, he often sat in the seat of former princes, and might easily grow into a prince. And at last, at the very end of his reign, as the finishing of his work, he took the final step that made England for ever one. In 1086 every land-owner in England swore to be faithful to King William within and without England and to defend him against his enemies. The subject's duty to the King was to any duty which the vassal might owe to any inferior lord. When the King was the embodiment of national unity and orderly government, this was the greatest of all steps in the direction of both. Never did William or any other man act more distinctly as an English statesman, never did any one act tell more directly towards the later making of England, than this memorable act of the Conqueror. Here indeed is an addition which William made to the law of Edward for the truest good of the English folk. And yet no enactment has ever been more thoroughly misunderstood. Lawyer after lawyer has set down in his book that, at the assembly of Salisbury in 1086, William introduced "the feudal system." If the words "feudal system" have any meaning, the object of the law now made was to hinder any "feudal system" from coming into England. William would be king of a kingdom, head of a commonwealth, personal lord of every man in his realm, not merely, like a King of the French, external lord of princes whose subjects owed him no allegiance. This greatest monument of the Conqueror's statesmanship was carried into effect in a special assembly of the English nation gathered on the first day of August 1086 on the great plain of Salisbury. Now, perhaps for the first time, we get a distinct foreshadowing of Lords and Commons. The Witan, the great men of the realm, and "the landsitting men," the whole body of landowners, are now distinguished. The point is that William required the personal presence of every man whose personal allegiance he thought worth having. Every man in the mixed assembly, mixed indeed in race and speech, the King's own men and the men of other lords, took the oath and became the man of King William. On that day England became for ever a kingdom one and indivisible, which since that day no man has dreamed of parting asunder.

The great assembly of 1086 will come again among the events of William's later reign; it comes here as the last act of that general settlement which began in 1070. That settlement, besides its secular side, has also an ecclesiastical side of a somewhat different character. In both William's coming brought the island kingdom into a closer connexion with the continent; and brought a large displacement of Englishmen and a large promotion of strangers. But on the ecclesiastical side, though the changes were less violent, there was a more marked beginning of a new state of things. The religious missionary was more inclined to innovate than the military conqueror. Here William not only added but changed; on one point he even proclaimed that the existing law of England was bad. Certainly the religious state of England was likely to displease churchmen from the mainland. The English Church, so directly the child of the Roman, was, for that very reason, less dependent on her parent. She was a free colony, not a conquered province. The English Church too was most distinctly national; no land came so near to that ideal state of things in which the Church is the nation on its religious side. Papal authority therefore was weaker in England than elsewhere, and a less careful line was drawn between spiritual and temporal things and jurisdictions. Two friendly powers could take liberties with each other. The national assemblies dealt with ecclesiastical as well as with temporal matters; one indeed among our ancient laws blames any assembly that did otherwise. Bishop and earl sat together in the local GEMOT, to deal with many matters which, according to continental ideas, should have been dealt with in separate courts. And, by what in continental eyes seemed a strange laxity of discipline, priests, bishops, members of capitular bodies, were often married. The English diocesan arrangements were unlike continental models. In Gaul, by a tradition of Roman date, the bishop was bishop of the city. His diocese was marked by the extent of the civil jurisdiction of the city. His home, his head church, his BISHOPSTOOL in the head church, were all in the city. In Teutonic England the bishop was commonly bishop, not of a city but of a tribe or district; his style was that of a tribe; his home, his head church, his bishopstool, might be anywhere within the territory of that tribe. Still, on the greatest point of all, matters in England were thoroughly to William's liking; nowhere did the King stand forth more distinctly as the Supreme Governor of the Church. In England, as in Normandy, the right of the sovereign to the investiture of ecclesiastical benefices was ancient and undisputed. What Edward had freely done, William went on freely doing, and Hildebrand himself never ventured on a word of remonstrance against a power which he deemed so wrongful in the hands of his own sovereign. William had but to stand on the rights of his predecessors. When Gregory asked for homage for the crown which he had in some sort given, William answered indeed as an English king. What the kings before him had done for or paid to the Roman see, that would he do and pay; but this no king before him had ever done, nor would he be the first to do it. But while William thus maintained the rights of his crown, he was willing and eager to do all that seemed needful for ecclesiastical reform. And the general result of his reform was to weaken the insular independence of England, to make her Church more like the other Churches of the West, and to increase the power of the Roman Bishop.

William had now a fellow-worker in his taste. The subtle spirit which had helped to win his kingdom was now at his side to help him to rule it. Within a few months after the taking of Chester Lanfranc sat on the throne of Augustine. As soon as the actual Conquest was over, William began to give his mind to ecclesiastical matters. It might look like sacrilege when he caused all the monasteries of England to be harried. But no harm was done to the monks or to their possessions. The holy houses were searched for the hoards which the rich men of England, fearing the new king, had laid up in the monastic treasuries. William looked on these hoards as part of the forfeited goods of rebels, and carried them off during the Lent of 1070. This done, he sat steadily down to the reform of the English Church.

He had three papal legates to guide him, one of whom, Ermenfrid, Bishop of Sitten, had come in on a like errand in the time of Edward. It was a kind of solemn confirmation of the Conquest, when, at the assembly held at Winchester in 1070, the King's crown was placed on his head by Ermenfrid. The work of deposing English prelates and appointing foreign successors now began. The primacy of York was regularly vacant; Ealdred had died as the Danes sailed up the Humber to assault or to deliver his city. The primacy of Canterbury was to be made vacant by the deposition of Stigand. His canonical position had always been doubtful; neither Harold nor William had been crowned by him; yet William had treated him hitherto with marked courtesy, and he had consecrated at least one Norman bishop, Remigius of Dorchester. He was now deprived both of the archbishopric and of the bishopric of Winchester which he held with it, and was kept under restraint for the rest of his life. According to foreign canonical rules the sentence may pass as just; but it marked a stage in the conquest of England when a stout- hearted Englishman was removed from the highest place in the English Church to make way for the innermost counsellor of the Conqueror. In the Pentecostal assembly, held at Windsor, Lanfranc was appointed archbishop; his excuses were overcome by his old master Herlwin of Bec; he came to England, and on August 15, 1070 he was consecrated to the primacy.

Other deprivations and appointments took place in these assemblies. The see of York was given to Thomas, a canon of Bayeux, a man of high character and memorable in the local history of his see. The abbey of Peterborough was vacant by the death of Brand, who had received the staff from the uncrowned Eadgar. It was only by rich gifts that he had turned away the wrath of William from his house. The Fenland was perhaps already stirring, and the Abbot of Peterborough might have to act as a military commander. In this case the prelate appointed, a Norman named Turold, was accordingly more of a soldier than of a monk. From these assemblies of 1070 the series of William's ecclesiastical changes goes on. As the English bishops die or are deprived, strangers take their place. They are commonly Normans, but Walcher, who became Bishop of Durham in 1071, was one of those natives of Lorraine who had been largely favoured in Edward's day. At the time of William's death Wulfstan was the only Englishman who kept a bishopric. Even his deprivation had once been thought of. The story takes a legendary shape, but it throws an important light on the relations of Church and State in England. In an assembly held in the West Minster Wulfstan is called on by William and Lanfranc to give up his staff. He refuses; he will give it back to him who gave it, and places it on the tomb of his dead master Edward. No of his enemies can move it. The sentence is recalled, and the staff yields to his touch. Edward was not yet a canonized saint; the appeal is simply from the living and foreign king to the dead and native king. This legend, growing up when Western Europe was torn in pieces by the struggle about investitures, proves better than the most authentic documents how the right which Popes denied to Emperors was taken for granted in the case of an English king. But, while the spoils of England, temporal and spiritual, were thus scattered abroad among men of the conquering race, two men at least among them refused all share in plunder which they deemed unrighteous. One gallant Norman knight, Gulbert of Hugleville, followed William through all his campaigns, but when English estates were offered as his reward, he refused to share in unrighteous gains, and went back to the lands of his fathers which he could hold with a good conscience. And one monk, Wimund of Saint-Leutfried, not only refused bishoprics and abbeys, but rebuked the Conqueror for wrong and robbery. And William bore no grudge against his censor, but, when the archbishopric of Rouen became vacant, he offered it to the man who had rebuked him. Among the worthies of England Gulbert and Wimund can hardly claim a place, but a place should surely be theirs among the men whom England honours.

The primacy of Lanfranc is one of the most memorable in our history. In the words of the parable put forth by Anselm in the next reign, the plough of the English Church was for seventeen years drawn by two oxen of equal strength. By ancient English custom the Archbishop of Canterbury was the King's special counsellor, the special representative of his Church and people. Lanfranc cannot be charged with any direct oppression; yet in the hands of a stranger who had his spiritual conquest to make, the tribunitian office of former archbishops was lost in that of chief minister of the sovereign. In the first action of their joint rule, the interest of king and primate was the same. Lanfranc sought for a more distinct acknowledgement of the superiority of Canterbury over the rival metropolis of York. And this fell in with William's schemes for the consolidation of the kingdom. The political motive is avowed. Northumberland, which had been so hard to subdue and which still lay open to Danish invaders or deliverers, was still dangerous. An independent Archbishop of York might consecrate a King of the Northumbrians, native or Danish, who might grow into a King of the English. The Northern metropolitan had unwillingly to admit the superiority, and something more, of the Southern. The caution of William and his ecclesiastical adviser reckoned it among possible chances that even Thomas of Bayeux might crown an invading Cnut or Harold in opposition to his native sovereign and benefactor.

For some of his own purposes, William had perhaps chosen his minister too wisely. The objects of the two colleagues were not always the same. Lanfranc, sprung from Imperialist Pavia, was no zealot for extravagant papal claims. The caution with which he bore himself during the schism which followed the strife between Gregory and Henry brought on him more than one papal censure. Yet the general tendency of his administration was towards the growth of ecclesiastical, and even of papal, claims. William never dreamed of giving up his ecclesiastical supremacy or of exempting churchmen from the ordinary power of the law. But the division of the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the increased frequency of synods distinct from the general assemblies of the realm--even though the acts of those synods needed the royal assent--were steps towards that exemption of churchmen from the civil power which was asserted in one memorable saying towards the end of William's own reign. William could hold his own against Hildebrand himself; yet the increased intercourse with Rome, the more frequent presence of Roman Legates, all tended to increase the papal claims and the deference yielded to them. William refused homage to Gregory; but it is significant that Gregory asked for it. It was a step towards the day when a King of England was glad to offer it. The increased strictness as to the marriage of the clergy tended the same way. Lanfranc did not at once enforce the full rigour of Hildebrand's decrees. Marriage was forbidden for the future; the capitular clergy had to part from their wives; but the vested interest of the parish priest was respected. In another point William directly helped to undermine his own authority and the independence of his kingdom. He exempted his abbey of the Battle from the authority of the diocesan bishop. With this began a crowd of such exemptions, which, by weakening local authority, strengthened the power of the Roman see. All these things helped on Hildebrand's great scheme which made the clergy everywhere members of one distinct and exclusive body, with the Roman Bishop at their head. Whatever tended to part the clergy from other men tended to weaken the throne of every king. While William reigned with Lanfranc at his side, these things were not felt; but the seed was sown for the controversy between Henry and Thomas and for the humiliation of John.

Even those changes of Lanfranc's primacy which seem of purely ecclesiastical concern all helped, in some way to increase the intercourse between England and the continent or to break down some insular peculiarity. And whatever did this increased the power of Rome. Even the decree of 1075 that bishoprics should be removed to the chief cities of their dioceses helped to make England more like Gaul or Italy. So did the fancy of William's bishops and abbots for rebuilding their churches on a greater scale and in the last devised continental style. All tended to make England less of another world. On the other hand, one insular peculiarity well served the purposes of the new primate. Monastic chapters in episcopal churches were almost unknown out of England. Lanfranc, himself a monk, favoured monks in this matter also. In several churches the secular canons were displaced by monks. The corporate spirit of the regulars, and their dependence on Rome, was far stronger than that of the secular clergy. The secular chapters could be refractory, but the disputes between them and their bishops were mainly of local importance; they form no such part of the general story of ecclesiastical and papal advance as the long tale of the quarrel between the archbishops and the monks of Christ Church.

Lanfranc survived William, and placed the crown on the head of his successor. The friendship between king and archbishop remained unbroken through their joint lives. Lanfranc's acts were William's acts; what the Primate did must have been approved by the King. How far William's acts were Lanfranc's acts it is less easy to say. But the Archbishop was ever a trusted minister, and a trusted counsellor, and in the King's frequent absences from England, he often acted as his lieutenant. We do not find him actually taking a part in warfare, but he duly reports military successes to his sovereign. It was William's combined wisdom and good luck to provide himself with a counsellor than whom for his immediate purposes none could be better. A man either of a higher or a lower moral level than Lanfranc, a saint like Anselm or one of the mere worldly bishops of the time, would not have done his work so well. William needed an ecclesiastical statesman, neither unscrupulous nor over-scrupulous, and he found him in the lawyer of Pavia, the doctor of Avranches, the monk of Bec, the abbot of Saint Stephen's. If Lanfranc sometimes unwittingly outwitted both his master and himself, if his policy served the purposes of Rome more than suited the purposes of either, that is the common course of human affairs. Great men are apt to forget that systems which they can work themselves cannot be worked by smaller men. From this error neither William nor Lanfranc was free. But, from their own point of view, it was their only error. Their work was to subdue England, soul and body; and they subdued it. That work could not be done without great wrong: but no other two men of that day could have done it with so little wrong. The shrinking from needless and violent change which is so strongly characteristic of William, and less strongly of Lanfranc also, made their work at the time easier to be done; in the course of ages it made it easier to be undone.


JGC Logo Valid HTML5 Logo HTML5 Logo Valid CSS3 Logo JGC Logo
Copyright logo
This page (conquer3.html) was last modified on Sunday 27/01/2013