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FROM THE * ,.* V 



fienrg "ilil. Sage 
1 891 





3 1924 088 002 294 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 






AUTHOR OF ' England's industrial development ' 
' a sketch of general political history from the earliest times' 


TO 1485 





Many are the histories of England, or of the British Empire 
and the kingdoms out of whose union that Empire grew, 
■ from the earhest times to the present day.' Latterly, 
almost every such history for which a single author has 
been responsible is of a compass compatible with its publi- 
cation in a single volume. Whenever, during some forty 
years past, a work on a larger scale has been projected, 
the principle of co-operative production by scholars who 
have each, made a special study of a particular era or of a 
particular aspect of the whole subject has displaced the 
principle of unity in outlook and method. For anything 
which exceeds the limits of a study or a summary we have 
learnt to seek always the guidance of a specialist ; and no 
one can pretend to be a specialist on the whole of British 
history from Gildas to the latest Blue-book. No one man 
can be expected to combine in his own person the erudition 
of the respective staffs of Dr. Hunt, the late H. D. Traill, 
or Professor Oman, in the histories of England issued under 
their editorship. 

The advantages of the principle are obvious : only the 
specialist can be directly in touch at every point with first- 
hand authorities. But it also has its drawbacks : it must 
be accompanied by diversities of outlook, a want of unity 
in idea, and an inequality of treatment which can only be 
evaded at the expense of each writer's individuality — a 
process which would inevitably Idll the author's interest in 
his own work, and with it that of the reader. Hence it 

iv England and the British Empire 

appeared to the publisher and the author of the work, of 
which this volume is the first instalment, that there is yet 
room for something, not indeed pretending to displace the 
work of the specialists, on a larger scale than the compen- 
dium ; of greater fulness than the single- volume publica- 
tion permits, but with less amplitude of detail and less 
exposition of evidence than we expect of the specialist ; 
the work of one hand, of one writer viewing the entire 
subject as one complete whole ; a single history, not a 
series of monographs. 

Our work, then, is intended in the first place to appeal to 
the general reader who finds, on the one hand, less than he 
requires in the books written expressly ' for the use of 
schools,' and, on the other, more detail than he desires, 
together with more apparatus, in the comprehensive works 
named above. But in the second place, it ought to be of 
service to advanced pupils and their teachers — sixth-form 
pupils and pupils of sixth-form capacity, as well as to 
university and other students who are taking up history for 
the purposes of examination, yet find the specialists' work 
somewhat outside their range. Finally, to those who seek 
a more intimate knowledge of a special period it is hoped 
that these volumes will provide an introduction, clear, suffi- 
ciently comprehensive, and trustworthy. For the reason 
that detailed discussion of evidence is for such purposes out 
of place, the apparatus of references has been discarded. 

The whole history here presented is the outcome of many 
years of continued study, so that it has become impossible 
for the author to estimate even in this first volume the 
comparative extent of his debts to the numerous authors, 
living or dead, whose works have at one time or another 
come within his ken and have been laid, consciously or 
unconsciously, under contribution. To speak of Stubbs, 
Green, and Freeman would be superfluous ; they, as con- 

Preface v 

cems mediaeval England, laid the foundations on which all 
their successors have built, eiven those who have introduced 
the most marked variations into the design. In the field 
of mediaeval economics, indeed, the author can specify with 
particular gratitude the works of Dr. Cunningham and of 
Professor Ashley ; of the late Professor Maitland on every 
subject which he handled and illuminated, and of Professor 
Oman on Mediaeval Warfare. As to Scottish affairs, he has 
derived much enlightenment from Mr. R. S. Rait, as well as 
from Professor Hume BroAvn and the late Andrew Lang. 
But the list might be extended indefinitely. 

The work has been planned to form four volumes. On the 
hypothesis that for the general reader or student, as a citizen 
of the Empire, the practical interest is miTch greater in the 
later than the early centuries, only one volume has been 
allotted to the period preceding the accession of Henry vii. 
To this point the history is practically a history of England, 
in which the subordination of Ireland and Wales and the 
development of Scotland play only a minor part. The 
second volume covers two centuries, and the third and 
fourth not much more than one century apiece. The 
British Empire definitely begins with the union of England 
and Scotland under one Crown and the commencement of 
colonial dominion and of an Indian establishment. But 
the whole Tudor period is in one of its aspects a prepara- 
tion for the union of Great Britain. Scotland and Ireland 
come so much to the fore in the sixteenth century, when a 
Welsh dynasty occupied the English throne, that we must 
already look upon ourselves as studying the history not of 
England specifically but of the British Empire. Hence 
the selection for the whole work of the title of A History of 
England and the British Empire. With the accession of 
William iii. Great Britain's European relations enter upon 
a more complicated phase, which demands a fuller treatment 

vi England and the British Empire 

of affairs external to these islands. Economic problems 
acquire an ever-increasing importance ; the Overseas 
Empire springs into sudden prominence ; the geographical 
area under our inspection is immensely enlarged ; the 
material to be handled becomes overwhelming in its abund- 
ance. All these circumstances combine, in the author's 
judgment, to justify the view that the last two hundred and 
twenty-five years are not disproportionately treated in 
having as much space allotted to them as the whole period 
which precedes them. 


Geerard's Cross, 1913. 


TO 1485 


Authorities before Caesar .... 

Brythons, Goidels, and Iberians 

Macedonian coins . . . , 

55. First landing of Julius Cassar 

54. Second expedition of Julius Csesar 


43. The Claudian conquest ; Aulus Plautius ; Caractacus 
59. Boadicea . ... 

78-84. Agricola ..... 
1 20. Hadrian's Wall ; later walls 
208. Severus in Britain 
287. Carausius 

Picts and Scots . 
407. The Roman withdrawal . 
Roman influence 
Disintegration of Britain 









10, II 



450-613. I. The English Conquest 

Authorities: Gildas, Nennius, Bede, the Chronicle . 13 

The Lamentations of Gildas . . . . 14 

The Historia Brittonum . 15 
429. The 'Hallelujah Victory' . .15 

Coroticus of Strathclyde ... 16 


England a?id the British Empire 

fi.U. PAGE 

449. The Wessex version ; Hengist and Horsa . 16 

477. Aelle in Sussex ... 16 

495. Landing of Cerdic . . . . . 16 

549. Ida establishes the Northumbrian kingdom . . 16 

Modern reconstruction of the story . . . 17 

560-613. The advance of the Enghsh . . . . 18 

577. Ceawlin of Wessex ; battle of Deorham . 19 

588. Aethelfrith of Northumbria . . 19 

603. Battle of Dawston . ... 20 

613. Battle of Chester . . . 20 

593. Aethelbert of Kent ; Bretwalda . . 20 

Celtic Christianity ... .21 

597. The mission of Augustine ; Canterbury and Wales 22 

617. Eadwin of Deira becomes supreme . 
The conversion of Northumbria 

633. Penda of Mercia ; battle of Heathfield 

634. Oswald of Northumbria ; battle of Heavenfield 

642. Oswald slain at Maserfield ; Oswin and Oswy 
651-671. Osw/s supremacy .... 
685. Ecgfrith ; battle of Nechtansmere 
664. Adoption of Latin Christianity ; the Synod 

Whitby .... 

669. Theodore of Tarsus archbishop 

Bishop Wilfred 
700. Decadence of Northumbria . 
700-728. Ine of Wessex 
716-757. Aethelbald of Mercia . 

786. Death of Cynewulf of Wessex 
755-797. Offa of Mercia . . 

Offa's power ; his relations with Charlemagne 

787. First Danish raid . , . , 


• 24, 











• 31 


• 33 










Synopsis and Contents ix 


793. Second raid, at Lindisfarne ... 38 

Character of the eighth century . . 38 
Dec. 25, 800. [Charles the Great crowned emperor at Rome] 

III. The English 

Jutes, Angles, and Saxons .... 39 

The Germans as Tacitus Icnew thecn . 40 

The English settlements . . . 41 

King, witan, and thegnhood . 41 

The township . 42 

The open field system .... 43 

The Britons, and British survivals . 44 
The English character . .45 

Bede and others . . 46 


802-865 I- The Rise of Wessex and the Danish 

Raids .... 47 

802. Ecgbert becomes king of Wessex . 47 
825. Ecgbert overthrows the Mercian power . . 48 
Supremacy of Wessex . . 49 
836. Renewed Danish raids ; first battle of Char- 
mouth .... 49 
839-858. Aethelwulf king of Mercia . . 50 
840-851. Danish raids ; battle of Aclea ... 51 
855. The Danes winter in Sheppey . . 52 
Features of Aethelwulf s reign . . 52 
858-866. The sons of Aethelwulf; Aethelbald and Aethel- 

bert, and Aethelred .... 53 

866. Aethelred's accession ; the great Danish invasion 53 

866-900. II. Alfred and the Battle for England . 54 

866-900. State of England . 54 

Character of the Danes . • • 55 

England and the British Empire 


866-870. The Danes in East Anglia and Northumbria . 55 

871. The Danes invade Wessex ; the year of battles . 56 

„ Battle of Ashdown ; accession of Alfred . . 57 

876. Second invasion of Wessex . . . 5^ 

878. Third invasion ; battle of Ethandun ; treaty of 

Wedmore ..... 59 

884. Guthrum's fryth ; Danelagh established . . 59 

892-896. Viking incursions defeated . 60 

The greatness of King Alfred . . 60-62 

900-978. III. The Strong Kings of England . . 63 

900-925. Edward the Elder ; a disputed succession . 63 

Aethelflaed ; the recovery of Mercia . . 63 

921. Edward's supremacy ; the new fortresses . . 64,65 

Edward and the Scots kingdom 65 

925-940. Aethelstan king .... 66 

937. Battle of Brunanburh .... 66 

940-946. Eadmund king ; cession of Cumbria to Malcolm i. 67 

946-955. Eadred king ..... 67 
955-959. Eadwigking; Dunstan . . .68 

959-975- Eadgar the Peaceful king ; Dunstan as minister . 69 

975-978. Edward the Martyr king ; his murder . . 70 

962. [Otto the Great becomes emperor] 

800-1000. IV. The English System ... 71 

The central government ; the witenagemot . 71 

The thegnhood . . 72 

System of national defence . 72 

Revenue . . 73 

Folcland and bocland ; the burh . 74 

'Dooms ' of the kings ; beginnings of feudalism 75 

Agricultural services ... 76 

Administration of justice .... 76-78 

Weregeld ■■■•■■ ^^ 

Synopsis and Contents xi 


978-1042. V. The Danish Conquest ... 78 

978-1016. Aethelred the Redeless king ... 78 
980-1000. Viking raids ; Olaf and Sweyn Forkbeard ; the 

ransoms ..... 79 
987. [The Capet dynasty founded in France] 

1002. The St. Brice's Day massacre ... 80 
1007. Danegeld .... .80 

1013. Sweyn acknowledged king . 81 

1014. Knut king . . .81 

1015. Struggle of Knut and Eadraund Ironside . . 82 

1016. Death of Eadmund ; Knut's reign begins . . 82 
Government of Knut ... 83 

1018. Cession of Lothian to Malcolm 11. of Scotland . 84 

Knut as a European potentate . . . 85 

1036-1040. Harold Harefoot king .... 85 

Earl Godwin and Alfred the Aetheling . 86 

1040-1042. Harthacnut king . . .86 

1042-1066. VI. The End of the Saxon Kingdom 87 

1042-1066. Edward the Confessor king . . 87 

The great earls : Godwin, Leofric, and Siward . 87 

The Godwinsons ; the king's character 88 

105 1. Sweyn's misdeeds, and the exile .of the Godwins . 89 

1052. Godwin's ascendency recovered . . 90 

1053. Stigand archbishop ; ascendency of Harold 

Godwinson ... gi 

1057. Malcolm lll. (Canmore) overthrows Macbeth . 92 

1056. Aelfgar Leofricson outlawed and reinstated 92 

Eadgar the Aetheling . . 93 

1057-1064. Aelfgar, Gryffydd of Wales, and Harold . . 93 

Question of Edward's successor . 94 

William of Normandy . . .94 

The misdeeds and outlawry of Tostig Godwinson . 95 

Jan. 5, 1066. Election of Harold in succession to Edward . 95 

Sept. 2; „ Battle of Stamford Bridge . . • 96 

„ 28 „ Duke WilUam lands at Pevensey . . 96 


England and the Brilish Empire 

I. Survey of Europe 


The divisions of Europe to 1056 97 

The expansion of the Normans . . 98 

The popes before Gregory vil. . 99 

Pope Gregory VIL . . 100 

France and the early Capets . 100 

The crusading movement . . loi 

The coming struggle of Empire and Papacy 102 

1066-1087. II. William the Conqueror 

Sept. 28 to 1 
„ , > Campaign and battle of Hastmgs 

Oct. 14, 1066.J ^ ^ ^ 

„ William's advance on London . 

Dec. 25 „ Coronation of William I. . 

1067. Forfeitures and distribution of land 

1068. Insurrections in vifest and north 

1069. The Danish invasion 

„ William wastes the north 

1070. Sack of Peterborough 

„ Hereward and the camp of refuge 

1072. William and Malcolm in. 

1073. [Hildebrand becomes Pope Gregory vii.J 

1075. Rebellion of Ralph Guader 

1076. Death of Waltheof 
1082. OdoofBayeux 

1086. Moot of Salisbury 
„ [Domesday Book] 

1087. Death and character of the Conqueror . 






III. The Conqueror's System 

The Norman revolution . 
Feudalism, and its modifications 



Synopsis and Contents 



Earl and sheriff 

The council . 

The Church . 

Archbishop Lanfranc 

Civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions 

The Crown and the Papacy 

Monasteries . 

The harsh laws of the Conqueror . 

IV. The Population 

Norman method 

1086. Domesday Book 
The manor . 
Villein, serf, and freeman 
Thegns and mesne tenants 
The gentry 
The borough 

1087-1100. V. William Rufus 

1087. William 11. secures the succession 
The king and Robert of Normandy 

1088. Insurrections crushed 
May „ Death of Lanfranc 

Ranulph Flambard . 
William's character . 
logo. The king's younger brother 
1093. Death of Malcolm Canmore ; the Scots 
„ Wilham and Anselm 

1095. Rebellion of Robert Mowbray 

„ Anselm and the council of Clermont 

1096. Duke Robert's crusade 

1097. Anselm leaves England 
1 100. Death of Rufus 




1 29 






England and the British Empire 

1 100-1135. VI. Henry i. . . . . .141 

1 100. Henry seizes the crown . . . • '42 

„ Henry's charter ; his marriage . . • '43 

I loi. Treaty of Alton with Robert of Normandy . I44 

1 102. Expulsion of Robert de BellSme . • '44 

1 106. Norman war ; battle of Tenchebrai . • '45 
Henry and Anselm ; investitures . ■ 145 

1 107. The investitures question settled . ■ 146 
Henry and foreign princes . • • '47 
Contests in Normandy .... 148 

1120, Disaster of the M^Az7i?5/«;> . . 149 

Robert of Gloucester . . . . I49 

1 127. The oath of allegiance to Empress Maud . 149 

1131. The second oath of allegiance . . . 150 

1135. Death of Henry .... 150 

The Curia Regis . . . . . 15' 

Jurisdiction of the lords . . . . 151 

Institution of itinerant justices . . . 152 

The Exchequer . . . . • '52 

1135-1154. VII. Stephen . 

1 135. Stephen secures the crown 

1 136. The barons take the oath of allegiance 
Stephen and the Church . 

1 138. Revolt in favour of Maud 
„ The Scots invasion 
Aug. 22 „ Battle of the Standard . 

J 139. Stephen quarrels with the Churchmen 
1 1 39- 1 147. Maud and Stephen ; the anarchy 
1 149. Henry Plantagenet in England . 

1 153. Treaty of Wallingford . 

1 154. Death of Stephen 



Synopsis and Contents 



A.D. i'AGE 

1 1 54-1 189. I. Henry Plantagenet . . 162 

The Angevin dominion . . 162 

1 154. Coronation of Henry II. ; the charter; 

order restored . . . . 163 

The king's ministers .... 163 

Henry and Scotland . . .164 

1159. The Toulouse campaign . . . . 16; 

„ Scutage ...... 16; 

„ Becket as chancellor ... 165 

II 61. Becket becomes archbishop . . 166 

Claims of the Churchmen . .167 

Increase of clerical power . . . 168 

1 1 63. Approach of a crisis . . . . 169 

1 1 64. Constitutions of Clarendon . . . 170 
Becket in exile . . . .171 

1 170. Coronation of the younger Henry . 171 

Dec. 29 „ Return and murder of Becket . .172 

1172. End of the struggle . . .172 

The king's sons . . 173 

1 172. Revolt of Henry the younger . . 174 

1 174. WilHam the Lion taken prisoner . 174 
„ Treaty of Falaise . . 174 

1175. Strength of Henry's position . . 175 
1 179. Philip Augustus becomes king of France . 175 

1182-1187. Family quarrels ..... 176 

1189. Death of Henry II. . . .176 

1169-1172. II. The Annexation of Ireland 

To 1 1 50. Ireland in the past . . . .177 

Lack of central government . . . 178 

First projects of annexation . 178 

The bull of Adrian IV. . . .179 

1 166. Dermot M'Murrough of Leinster . . 179 

1169. Norman adventurers help Dermot . . 180 

1170. Strongbow in Ireland .... 180 
Jnnes's Eiig. Hist.— Vol. I. 


England and the British Empire 

1 172. Henry II. in Ireland . 

The annexation ; the Irish Pale 
Normans and Irish . 

III. The Organisation of England 
Position of the Norman kings 
Henry 11. and the Great Council 
Military resources of the Crown 
The Exchequer under Henry II. 
The sheriflfs 

Normal sources of revenue 
Special sources of revenue 
1 1 88. The Saladin tithe 

Judicature ; justices in eyre 
The jury of presentment 
Specialisation of the king's courts 


II 89. 
1 190, 1 191. 
June 1 191. 
Sept. 1 192. 
1 194. 

1 194-1199- 

1 197. 

1 198. 

IV. Richard i. 

Cceur de Lion 

The baronage growing English 

Preparations for the crusade 

Richard en route for Palestine 

Richard in Palestine . 

The truce with Saladin 

Richard in captivity 

Justiciarship of Longchamp 

Plots of John and Philip 11. 

Richard in England . 

Richard in France 

Justiciarship of Hubert Walter 

Representation ; coroners ; knights of the 

Town charters ; William Fitzosbert 

Hugh of Lincoln 

Geoffrey Fitzpeter 

1 199-1205. V. John (i) the Loss of Normandy 
Richard and John 
1 199. Arthur of Brittany 










Synopsis and Contents 



I20O. John's second marriage with Isobel of Angou- 

leme . . . . 203 

1202. War between Philip and John ; capture and 

death of Arthur .... 204 

1204. Loss of Normandy . . . 204 

Effects on England .... 204 

AND THE BARONS, 1205-1272 

1205-1216. I. King John (ii) THE Pope AND THE Charter 
1 199-1205. The government in England 

1205. The vacant archbishopric 

1207. The interdict 

i2og. John excommunicated 

1212. John takes alarm . 

1213. John submits to the Pope 
Quarrel with the barons . 

July 27, 1214. Battle of Bouvines 

Jan. 1215. Demand for confirmation of Henry l.'s charter 

June 15 „ Magna Carta sealed 

Account of the charter ... 

Oct. 1215. John defies the barons ; civil war 

May 1 2 16. Invasion by Louis ... 

Oct. „ Death of John .... 


1216-1248. n. Henry hi. (first period) 

1 2 16. William Marshal regent . 
May 1217. The Fair of Lincoln 
Aug. „ Hubert de Burgh's victory off Sandwich 
„ Withdrawal of Louis 
English nationalism 
1219-1227. The government during Henry's minority 
Character of the king 
1225. Blanche of Castile regent for Louis ix. . 
Papal ascendency over Henry . 


xviii England and the British Empire 


1232. Fall of Hubert de Burgh . . 220 
Peter des Roches and Richard Marshal ; the 

Poitevins . . . . .221 

1236. Marriage with Eleanor of Provence ; the 

Savoyards . . . . .221 

Bishop Grosseteste .... 222 

Richard of Cornwall and Simon de Montfort . 222 

1242. The campaign in Poitou .... 223 

1244. General unrest; a Great Council proposes 

reforms . . 224 

1247. The Lusignans . . 224 

1248-1252. Montfort in Gascony . . . 224 

1248-1272. III. Henry III. (SECOND period). Simon de 
Montfort and the Lord Edward 

The Lord Edward 
1255. The Lord Edmund and the crown of Sicily 
123S. The Mad Parliament, and the Provisions of 

1259. Edward and the Provisions of Westminster 
Jan. 1264. The Mise of Amiens 
May „ Civil war ; Montfort's victory at Lewes . 
„ The Mise of Lewes 

1265. Montfort's parliament ; burgesses summoned 

1266. Montfort, Gloucester, and the Lord Edward 
Aug. 4 „ Civil war ; death of Montfort at Evesham 

Appreciation of Montfort 
1 266- 1 268. Pacification .... 

1272. End of the reign . 





L England ..... 

Constitutional summary .... 

The rural population 

Villeinage under the Plantagenets 



Synopsis and Contents 


Development of serfdom 

Villeins' rights 

Town development 

Town charters .... 

The gild merchant 

Masters, journeymen, and apprentices 

Trade regulation 

Craft gilds 

Aliens and Jews 

Money ..... 

Industrial methods 

Influence of the Church 

The clergy 

The friars 

The intellectual movement 






II. Scotland and Wales . . 246 

Scotland in the eleventh century . 246 

Celts, Angles, and Norsemen . . . 247 

Malcolm Canmore and his sons . . . 247 

Eadgar, Alexander I., and David I. . . 247 

1124-1153. Reign of David L ..... 248 

A new Norman baronage .... 248 

Crown and Church ..... 248 

Progress of the country .... 249 

1153-1165. Malcolm IV., 'the Maiden' ; Somerled . . 249 

1165-1214. William the Lion ..... 250 

1214-1249. Alexander IL ... . . 251 

1249-1286. Alexander lii. .... . 252 

Wales to the thirteenth century . . 253 

Llewelyn ap Jorwerth and Llewelyn ap Gryffydd . 254 


England and the British Empire 


I. European Survey 

England in relation to Europe, to the thirteenth 
century ... . . 

The change in her subsequent relations 
France, the Empire, and the Papacy 
France under the old Capets 
France under the Valois 





1272-1289. II. Edward the Legislator 

Edward as Unifier . 
Edward and the regal power 
Parliaments of 1273 and 1275 
1275. Statute of Westminster I. . 

1278. Quo Wa7-ranto 
„ Distraint of knighthood 

1279. Archbishop Peckham 
„ Statute of Mortmain {De Religiosis) 

1282, 1283. Parliaments to grant supplies 

1283. Statute of Acton Burnell . 

1284. Statutes of Rhuddlan and of Wales 

1285. Statute of Westminster II. (Z'^ Z'tf«/>) 
„ Statute of Winchester 

„ Circumspecte Agatis 
1290. Statute of Westminster III. {Quia Emptores) 
„ [Expulsion of the Jews 



1276-1292. III. The Conquest of Wales 

AND THE Scottish Arbitration 

Wales and the marches 

The ambitions of Llewelyn ap Gryffydd . 
1277. The first Welsh war ; treaty of Aberconway 
1282. The revolt of David and Llewelyn 
Dec. „ Battle of Orewyn Bridge, and death of Llewelyn . 




Synopsis and Contents 


1283. The subjugation of Wales . 

1284. Settlement of Wales 

1 286- 1 289. The king in France ; maladministration at home 
1290. Edward, Gloucester, and Hereford 
1286. The Maid of Norway ; treaty of Brigham 

1290. The claimants to the Scottish throne 

1291. The Norham Conference . 

1292. King John Balliol . 
Nature of Edward's claims . 

Attitude of Scots magnates, clergy, and commons 
The year a turning point in Edward's reign 


1293-1297. IV. Constitutional Crises, 

AND THE Scots Revolt . 

1293. The breach with France 

1294. A Welsh insurrection 
„ Scotland recalcitrant 

1295. Franco-Scottish alliance 
„ The Model Parliament called ; its constitution 
„ Improvement of naval organisation 

1296. Invasion of Scotland ; the annexation 
„ Archbishop Winchelsea, and the bull Clericis 

Laicos . . . . 

1297. Hereford and Norfolk in opposition 
Edward's tact 


Revolt of William Wallace . 

Edward sails for Flanders . 

Battle of Cambuskenneth ; Wallace Custos Regni 

Confirmation of the charters extorted 

1298-1307. V. Malleus Scotorum . 

Oct. 1297. Truce with France . 

1298. The Falkirk campaign 
1299-1305. Desultory campaigns in Scotland . 

1305. Death of Wallace . 
„ A form of government for Scotland 






xxii England and the British Empire 


1299. A French treaty . . 294 

1300. Articuli super cartas . 294 

1301. A clerical defeat . . 294 
Accessions of strength to the Crown . 295 

1 302. Battle of Courtrai between French and Flemings 295 

1303. Death of Boniface vill. ; beginning of the ' Baby- 

lonish Captivity' . . 295 

1306. Revolt of Robert Bruce, and his coronation . 296 

July 7, 1307. Death of Edward I. . . . 297 



Progress of Robert Bruce in Scotland . . 298 

1307. Leading members of the baronage . 299 

1308. Banishment of Gaveston . . 300 

1309. Gaveston recalled . 300 
1310- The Lords Ordainers . . 301 

131 1. The ordinances of the Ordainers, in full parlia- 

ment . .301 

13 1 2. The end of Gaveston 302 

13 1 3. Fall of garrisons in Scotland 303 
June 24, 1 3 14. Bannockburn . 303 

Its effects . . . . 305 

Ireland prepares to revolt . . . 306 

131 5. Edward Bruce in Ireland . . . 306 

1317. End of Edward Bruce .... 307 
Thomas of Lancaster . . 307 

131 8. Loss of Berwick to the Scots . . . 308 
Pembroke. . . . . 308 

1320. The Despensers . . . . 309 

1321. Coalition against the Despensers, followed by 

royalist reaction . . . . 310 

1322. Lancaster overthrown at Boroughbridge ; his 

death . . • • . 310 

Synopsis and Contents xxiii 


1322. Constitutional pronouncement of parliament 311 

The Scots harry the north . . 312 

iyi2-\yi'^. The Despenser ascendency 312 

Trouble with France . . . 313 

I325"'326. Isabella and Mortimer in France . 313 

Sept. 1326. Isabella and Mortimer in England ; 

fall of the Despensers . . . 314 

Jan. 1327. Deposition of Edward n. ; accession of 

Edward III. . ... 314 

Sept. „ Murder of Edward II. . . -315 

Rule of Mortimer and Isabella . . . 315 

1328. Accession of Philip of Valois in France . 316 
„ Recognition of Scottish independence 

by treaty of Northampton . 316 

1329. Death of Robert Bruce . . 317 
„ Marriage of Edward III. and Philippa of Hai- 

nault . • • 317 

1330. Fall of Mortimer . . 318 


1330-1338. I. Before the Hundred Years' War . 319 

1330. A new atmosphere . . 319 

„ Relations with France and Scotland . 321 
Aug. 1332. Invasion of Scotland by Edward Balliol ; 

Dupplin Moor . . 321 

Nov. „ Balliol owns English suzerainty . 322 

July ig, 1333. Edward in. in Scotland ; Hahdon Hill . 322 

1334. Treaty of Newcastle . . 323 

1335-1341. Recovery of Scottish independence . . 323 

1337. Prospect of a French war ; motives of the two 

powers . . 324 

The claim to the French crown . . . 326 

Alliances of Philip and Edward . 327 

1338. Beginning of the Hundred Years' War . . 328 

xxlv England and the British Empire 

1338-1360. II. The Years of Victory . 328 

1339. The opening campaign . . 328 

June 24, 1340. The Flemish alliance ; battle of Sluys 329 

Sept. „ Truce of Esplechin .... 33° 

1341. Edward's quarrel with Archbishop Stratford 331 

1342. Disputed succession in Brittany . . 33' 
„ Battle of Morlaix ; the longbow . 332 

1345. Open war renewed ; Derby in Gascony . 333 

Aug. 26, 1346. The Crecy campaign . . . 333 
Oct. 17 „ Battle of Neville's Cross ; David of Scotland 

taken. . • 335 

Aug. 3, 1347. Surrender of Calais . . . 335 
Sept. „ Formal truce, degenerating into eight years of 

partisan fighting .... 336 

1 348- 1 349. The Black Death . . 337 

1 35 1. Statute of Labourers . . 337 
„ Statute of Provisors . 338 

1352. Statute of Treasons . . 33^ 

1353. Statute of Praemunire . . 338 

1354. Ordinance of the Staple . . . 337 
1355- Open war renewed; raid of the Black Prince 

from Bordeaux . . • 33^ 

Feb. 1356. The burnt Candlemas (Scotland) 339 

Sept. 19 „ Battle of Poictiers ... 339 

1357. Release of David II. . . . 34° 

Stephen Marcel in Paris .... 340 

1360. Treaty of Bretigny . . . .341 

1361-1377. III. The Years of Decadence 

•The free companies 
1364. Accession of Charles v. in France 
1366. The Black Prince intervenes in Spain 
April 1367. Battle of Najera or Navarrete 
1367-1368. Rule of the Black Prince in Aquitaine 
1369-1372. Renewal of war, with disastrous results 



Synopsis and Contents xxvii 


■1388. The Wonderful Parliament . 382 

Character of the king .... 383 

Ascendency of Gloucester . . . 384 

May 1389. Dismissal of Gloucester . . . 384 

„ Recall of Lancaster ; constitutional rule of 

Richard . . . . .385 

1393. Second Statute of Praemunire . . . 386 

1394. Richard visits Ireland , . . 386 

1396. Peace with France ; Burgundians and Orleanists 386 

1397. Expenditure and free speech ; Haxey's case . 387 
July „ TYie coup d^e tat ; murder of Gloucester . 388 

1398. The parliament of Shrewsbury gives the king 

absolute powers .... 389 

Sept. 1398. Banishment of Hereford and Norfolk . 389 

„ Richard's despotism . . . 390 

1399. Richard goes to Ireland; Henry lands at 

Ravenspur . 391 

Sept. 1399. Deposition of Richard . 393 

„ Accession of Henry IV. 393 

1399-1413. III. Henry iv. . . 394 

1399. Difficulties of Henry's position . . 394 

Feb. 1400. Death of Richard . . . . 396 

Henry and the Scots .... 397 

1401. Owen Glendower ..... 397 

Sept. 1402. Battle of Homildon Hill .... 398 

July 1403. Revolt of the Percies ; battle of Shrewsbury . 398 

1401. Persecution of LoUardy ; the act De Heretico 

Comburendo . ■ . 399 

Martyrdom of William Sawtre . . . 400 

The House of Commons grows critical . 400 

1404. The Unlearned Parliament . . 401 

1405. The revolt of Archbishop Scrope . . 401 

1406. A captious parliament . . 402 
1406. Capture of James of Scotland . . . 403 

xxvi England and the British Empire 

III. Social Conditions 

Material prosperity 

Decadence of chivalry 

Literature ; ballads ; Piers Plowman . 

Mandeville, Wiclif, Barbour, Chaucer . 







1377-1384. I. The Minority of Richard ii. . . 367 

1377. Accession of Richard II. ; state of parties . 367 
The first parliament ; auditors to control 

expenditure ..... 368 

1378. Continuation of the French war . . . 368 

1379. The first poll-tax . . . . 369 

1380. The second poll-tax ; discontent stirred up . 369 
June 1381. Outbreak of the Peasant Revolt ; Wat Tyler . 370 

June 13-15 „ The insurgents in London . . 371 

June 15 „ Richard II. at Smithfield ; death of Tyler . 372 

„ The rising in East Anglia . . . 373 

Nov. „ Measures of parliament .... 373 

Character of the rising .... 374 

The subsequent passing of villeinage . 376 

1378. The Great Schism . . 377 

1383. The Flemish Crusade . . . 377 

1383. Death of Wiclif ; discussion of Lollardy . 378 

1384-1399. IL The Rule of Richard ii. 

1384. The king's friends, and the king's uncles 

1385. Invasion of Scotland 

1386. John of Gaunt leaves England 
The king and Gloucester 

Aug. 1387. The opinions of Nottingham 
Nov. „ The Lords Appellants 



A. U. 


May 1389. 














Synopsis and Contents xxvii 


The Wonderful Parliament . . 382 

Character of the king . . . 383 

Ascendency of Gloucester . . . 384 

Dismissal of Gloucester . 384 
Recall of Lancaster ; constitutional rule of 

Richard . . . . .385 

Second Statute of Praemunire . . . 386 

Richard visits Ireland .... 386 

Peace with France ; Burgundians and Orleanists 386 

Expenditure and free speech ; Haxey's case . 387 

The coicp d'etat ; murder of Gloucester . . 388 
The parliament of Shrewsbury gives the king 

absolute powers .... 389 

Banishment of Hereford and Norfolk . . 389 

Richard's despotism . 390 
Richard goes to Ireland ; Henry lands at 

Ravenspur . 391 

Deposition of Richard 393 

Accession of Henry iv. . 393 

1399-1413. III. Henry iv. . . 394 

1399. Difficulties of Henry's position . . 394 

Feb. 1400. Death of Richard . ... 396 

Henry and the Scots . . 397 

1401. Owen Glendower . ... 397 

Sept. 1402. Battle of Homildon Hill . . -398 

July 1403. Revolt of the Percies ; battle of Shrewsbury . 398 

1 401. Persecution of LoUardy ; the act De Heretico 

Comburendo . ■ ■ ■ 399 

Martyrdom of William Sawtre . . 400 

The House of Commons grows critical . 400 

1404. The Unlearned Parliament . . . 401 

1405. The revolt of Archbishop Scrope . 401 

1406. A captious parliament . . . 402 
1406. Capture of James of Scotland . 403 

xxviii England and the British Empire 

A. U. I'AGE 

1407. A dispute over Supply . . . 403 
„ French affairs ; murder of Orleans ; Burgun- 

dians and Armagnacs . 404 

1408. The Prince of Wales . . • 404 
1409-1412. The king, the council, and the prince . 405 

1411. English intervention in France . . 4°6 

1413. Death of Henry IV. . . . . 406 

OF FRANCE, 1413-1453 

1413-1422. I. Henry v. . . 407 

Character of Henry V. . . . . 407 

1422. Henry's conduct on his accession . . 408 

His ideals. ..... 409 

1413-1414. The suppression of Lollardy . . . 410 

1414. Henry's impossible demands from France . 411 
The country eager for war . . 412 

1415. Conspiracy of Richard of Cambridge . 413 
„ Henry's plan of action 413 

Sept. „ Capture of Harfleur . . 413 

Oct. „ The march to Agincourt . .414 

Oct. 25 „ Battle of Agincourt . 414 

„ Its results ..... 416 

„ Henry returns to England . . . 417 

1416. The visit of Emperor Sigismund . . 417 
1414-1418. [Council of Constance] 

141 7. Factions in France . . . . 418 
„ Henry invades Normandy . . . 418 

1418. Siege of Rouen ..... 419 

1419. Fall of Rouen ; murder of Burgundy . . 420 
May 1420. Treaty of Troyes ... .421 

March 1421. Death of Thomas of Clarence at Bauge . 422 

„ Henry conducts a war of sieges . 422 

Aug. 31, 1422. Death of Henry V, , , , . 423 

Synopsis and Contents xxix 


1422-1435. II. Bedford and Jeanne Darc . . 423 

John, duke of Bedford, acting regent of France . 423 

Humphrey of Gloucester and the council . 424 

Aug. 1423. Bedford's progress in France ; battle of Crevant . 425 

1424. Battle of Verneuil ; progress of the war . . 425 

Gloucester and Jacquelaine of Hainault . . 426 

1424. Release of James I. of Scotland . . . 426 

1424. Richard of York succeeds to the claims of 

Mortimer ..... 426 

1425. Gloucester and Bishop Beaufort . . 427 
Oct. 1428. Investment of Orleans . . 427 

1429. Appearance of Joan of Arc . . 428 
„ Orleans relieved ; coronation of Charles vii. . 429 

1430. The Maid taken prisoner . . . 430 

1431. Her trial and death . . . 430 
1 431-1434. Bedford's difficulties . . . .431 

1435. Conference of Arras ; breach with Burgundy ; 

death of Bedford . . . 432 

1436-1453. III. Nemesis . . 432 

Leading political figures and groups in England . 433 

Gloucester and the Beauforts . . 434 

1435- 1437. Progress of the war . 435 

1438. The French attack Guienne . 436 

1441. Fall of Gloucester ; the Beaufort ascendency . 436 

1445. Marriage of Henry Vl. to Margaret of Anjou, 

negotiated by Suffolk . . 437 

1447. Death of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort 437 

1448-1450. Loss of Normandy . . . 438 

1450. Murder of Suffolk ; Jack Cade's RebelHon . 439 
„ Richard of York intervenes 440 

1451. Henry evades the dismissal of Somerset . 441 
July 1453. Fall of Talbot at Castillon ; loss of Guienne . 441 

xxviii England and the British Empire 


1407. A dispute over Supply 

„ French affairs ; murder of Orleans ; Burgun- 
dians and Armagnacs 

1408. The Prince ofWales 

1 409-1 41 2. The king, the council, and the prince . 
141 1. Enghsh intervention in France . 
1413. Death of Henry IV. . . . . 



OF FRANCE, 1413-1453 

1413-1422. I. Henry v. . . . 407 

Character of Henry V. . . . 407 

1422. Henry's conduct on his accession . . 408 

His ideals ...... 409 

1413-1414. The suppression of Lollardy . . 410 

1414. Henry's impossible demands from France . 411 
The country eager for war . . 412 

1415. Conspiracy of Richard of Cambridge . 413 
„ Henry's plan of action . . 413 

Sept. „ Capture of Harfleur . 413 

Oct. „ The march to Agincourt .... 414 

Oct. 25 „ Battle of Agincourt . . 414 

„ Its results ... . 416 

„ Henry returns to England . . . 417 

1416. The visit of Emperor Sigismund . . 417 
1414-1418. [Council of Constance] 

141 7. Factions in France . . . . 418 
„ Henry invades Normandy . . 418 

1418. Siege of Rouen .... 419 

1419. Fall of Rouen ; murder of Burgundy . 420 
May 1420. Treaty of Troyes .... 421 

March 1421. Death of Thomas of Clarence at Bauge . 422 

„ Henry conducts a war of sieges . . 422 

Aug. 31, 1422. Death of Henry v, , , , . 423 

Synopsis and Contents xxix 

,\.u, FACE 

1422-1435. II. Bedford and Jeanne Darc . 423 

John, duke of Bedford, acting regent of France . 423 

Humphrey of Gloucester and the council . 424 

Aug. 1423. Bedford's progress in France ; battle of Crevant . 425 

1424. Battle of Verneuil ; progress of the war . . 425 

Gloucester and Jacquelaine of Hainault . . 426 

1424. Release of James I. of Scotland . . . 426 

1424. Richard of York succeeds to the claims of 

Mortimer . . . . 426 

1425. Gloucester and Bishop Beaufort . . 427 
Oct. 1428. Investment of Orleans . . . 427 

1429. Appearance of Joan of Arc . . . 428 
„ Orleans relieved ; coronation of Charles vil. 429 

1430. The Maid taken prisoner .... 430 

1431. Her trial and death . . 430 
1 43 1 -1434. Bedford's difficulties . . . .431 

1435. Conference of Arras ; breach with Burgundy ; 

death of Bedford . . . 432 

1436-1453. III. Nemesis . 432 

Leading political figures and groups in England . 433 

Gloucester and the Beauforts . 434 

1435-1437. Progress of the war . 435 

1438. The French attack Guienne . 436 

1441. Fall of Gloucester ; the Beaufort ascendency . 436 

1445. Marriage of Henry VI. to Margaret of Anjou, 

negotiated by Suffolk . . . 437 

1447. Death of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort . 437 

1448-1450. Loss of Normandy ..... 438 

1450. Murder of Suffolk ; Jack Cade's Rebellion 439 
„ Richard of York intervenes . . . 440 

145 1. Henry evades the dismissal of Somerset . . 441 
July 1453. Fall of Talbot at Castillon ; loss of Guienne . 441 


England and the British Empire 



















Dec. 36 


Feb. 2, 


Feb. 17 


Mar. 4 


Mar. 29 







I. The Wars of the Roses . 

Birth of Edward, Prince of Wales . 

Richard appointed Protector owing to Henry's 

madness ..... 
Recovery of Henry and restoration of Somerset 
Richard takes up arms ; his victory at St. 

Albans ; his moderation 
The hostility of Queen Margaret ; her ascendency 
The Earl of Warwick's naval successes . 
Development of private wars ; the new feudalism 
Civil war ; battle of Bloreheath ; the Yorkists 

disperse ..... 
Parliament of Coventry ; attainder of Yorkists 
Yorkist rising ; Warwick received by London . 
Yorkist victory at Northampton . 
Richard claims the crown, but accepts recog- 
nition as Henry's heir 
Margaret raises the north ; Richard killed at 

battle of Wakefield .... 
Edward, earl of March, wins battle of Mortimer's 

Cross . 
Warwick defeated by Margaret at St. Albans 
Edward and Warwick enter London ; Edward I v. 

proclaimed king 
Lancastrians overthrown at Towton 
Edward iv. king of England 
Suppression of Lancastrians in the north 
Edward secretly marries Lady Elizabeth Wood- 

ville ..... 
Breach between Edward and Warwick . 
Warwick's French embassy foiled 
Edward marries his sister to Charles of Burgundy 
George of Clarence marries Warwick's daughter ; 

Warwick's insurrection 











Synopsis and Contents xxxi 

A. D. i'AGli 

1469. Escape of Edward and expulsion of Warwick 

and Clarence . . . . 458 

Aug. 1470. League of Warwick and Margaret . . 458 

„ Return of Warwick and flight of Edward . 459 

1471. Return of Edward ; Warwick killed at Barnet . 460 

May 3 „ Lancastrians finally crushed at Tewkesbury 460 

1471-1485. n. The Yorkist Monarchy . . 461 

Edward IV. and the ' New Monarchy ' . 461 

The changed conditions . . . 462 

War projects ..... 462 

1475. The French expedition ; treaty of Pecquigny . 463 

Easy government at home . 464 

1477. The end of Clarence . . . 464 

1481. Edward's intervention in Scotland . . 464 

April 1483. Death of Edward IV. ; the duke of Gloucester 

and the queen dowager . . . 465 
„ Richard seizes control ; the princes put in the 

Tower ..... 466 

July „ Richard III. crowned ; murder of the princes . 467 

„ Plots in favour of Henry of Richmond . 468 

Oct. „ Buckingham's insurrection and death . 469 

1484. Richard's parliament . . 469 

„ General disaffection . . 47° 

Aug. 21, 1485. Battle of Bosworth .... 471 


L England .... 472 

A new industrial order arriving . . . 472 

The rural problem . 473 

Tillage and pasture . . . 474 

The first corn law . . 474 

The end of villeinage . . . 474 

Object of imposing tariffs . 475 
Taxes on exports . . -475 

Navigation Acts . . . . 476 
Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. C 

xxxii England and the British Empire 


T\ve. Libell of English Policie . . ■ 477 
Hostility to aliens ; the Merchant Adventurers 

and the Hansa .... 477 

Cloth-making .... 478 

Diffusion of prosperity . . ■ 479 

Effect of the wars ..... 479 

Vagrancy ...... 480 

Moral deterioration . . . . .481 

Intellectual progress .... 482 

II. Scotland . . . . 482 

Effects of the struggle for independence . . 483 

Highlands and Lowlands . 483 

Relations of Scotland and England . 484 

1329-1370. David II. . . . . . . 485 

1370-1390. Robert II., first of the Stewart dynasty . . 485 

1388. Battle of Otterburn . .... 486 

1390-1406. Robert III. ; the clan fight on the Inch of Perth . 486 

1406-1424. James I. captive in England; Albany regent (to 1420) 487 

141 1. Battle of Harlaw ..... 487 

1424-1437. James I. rules in Scotland .... 488 

1437-1460. James II. ; overthrow of the Black Douglases 489 

1460-1488. James III. ; the Crown and the baronage . 490 


I. The House of Wessex .... 493 

II. The Norman Line and the early Plantagenets . . 494 

III. Descendants of Henry III. to Richard 11. . . 495 

IV. Descendants of Edward in. : (i) House of York . . 496 
V. Descendants of Edward ill. ; (2) Lancaster, Beaufort, 

and Buckingham ... . 497 

VI. Scottish Dynasties : (i) From Duncan to Bruce . . 498 

VII. Scottish Dynasties : (2) The Bruces and Stewarts . 499 

VIII. France : the later Capets and the Valois Succession . 500 

IX. France : the Valois — France, Anjou, and Burgundy . 501 

X. The Nevilles . .... 502 

Notes, Maps, and Plans xxxiii 



I. King Arthur ....... 503 

II. The West Saxon Conquest in the EngUsh Chronicle 504 

III. Lords' Rights . ... 505 

IV. Freeholders . . . 506 
V. Who were Barons ? . . . 507 

VI. The Plantagenet Armies . , 508 

VII. Justices of the Peace 508 

VIII. The Development of Trial by Jury . 509 

IX. The Scottish Parliament . 510 


In Text 

I. Battle of Senlac . . . 104 

II. Battle of Bannockburn . . . 304 

III. Battle of Crecy .... 334 

IV. The Campaign of Agincourt, 1415 . . . 415 
V. Englandin the Norman and Plantagenet Period, 1066-1485 443 

At end of Volume 

VI. England and Southern Scotland, ninth century. 
VII. Scotland and North of England, 1066-1485. 
VIII. France, 11 54-1485. 
IX. Wales, thirteenth century. 


The history of England, English land, begins in a sense only 
when the Enghsh came. to the land to which they gave their 
name. For they not only gave the country their name, but made 
it vitally their own. The whole region which we call England 
to-day, in the most limited sense of the term, was occupied by 
the Enghsh people ; and its history is that of the development 
of the Enghsh people, the Enghsh character, and Enghsh institu- 
tions. The modifications of people, character, and institutions 
derived from invasions by and contact with other peoples are 
essentially a part of the history of the English ; and this is not 
true of the earlier history of the peoples found by them in this 
island. Nevertheless, the contact with these earlier peoples did 
have its modifying effect, slight enough perhaps so far as con- 
cerned the development of the English themselves, but important 
because the English endeavoured, with different degrees of success, 
to dominate those peoples outside the limits of England. It will 
not, therefore, be without interest to open our history with some 
account of the predecessors of the English. 

Apart from possible allusions by the Greek historian Herodotus, 
the earliest information we have concerning these islands is 
derived from the Greek writer Pytheas of Massilia, Pytheas. 
about the last quarter of the fourth century B.C. Unfortunately 
we have not before us the work of Pytheas himself, but only 
excerpts contained in the works of unfriendly critics. The 
criticisms which were intended to discredit Pytheas chiefly go 
to show that the critics were wrong and that Pytheas was an 
intelligent and honest person who did actually visit these islands ; 
and Pytheas gave to their inhabitants the name of Pretanes, 
which we can hardly resist identifying with the name of Britanni 
afterwards given to them by the Romans. The meaning of it 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. ■. A 

2 Before the English came 

appears to be ' The Painted People,' \\'hich is again highly 
suggestive of the name Picti given to the northern tribes at a still 
later date, though the etymology of that name is uncertain. 
Definitely, however, the Pretanes were a Celtic people akin to 
the population of the region which the Romans called Gallia 
and we call France. 

But the Britons or Brythons were the second of two great 
Celtic waves which poured into the country. We may infer 
Brythons ^'^'^ ^^^ represented the same stream of Celtic 
andGoideis. migration which brought about the invasion of 
Northern Italy by the Gauls early in the fourth century B.C. 
They found already in occupation their Celtic predecessors of the 
first wave, called Goidels or Gaels. They took possession of the 
larger island from the Channel to the Forth, though how far a 
Goidelic admixture survived in the western mountainous regions 
is again a matter of doubt ; as a mere question of analogies in 
conquests, it might be supposed that the admixture would be 
considerable. The Britons made no appreciable impression upon 
Ireland or upon Scotland beyond the Forth. 

Again, by how many hundreds of years the Brythons were 
preceded by the Goidels is matter of conjecture. Long before 
the Celts came at all the islands were inhabited by neolithic 
races — races, that is, who had not learnt to make use of metal, 
whose tools and weapons were of stone and wood. These races, 
commonly called Iberian, were not of the Aryan stock ; they 
were ' dolichocephalic,' long-headed — that is, the skull was long 
from front to back in proportion to the width from side to side. 
Ancient TiAi, is proved by the ancient barrows or burial 

siniiis. mounds, which show that the long skulls and stone 

implements were contemporary. Then came a wave of immi- 
grants, using bronze implements, ' brachycephalic,' short-headed 
or round-skulled, with skulls broader in proportion to the length. 
The barrows of this folk were round, like their skulls, whereas 
those of the Iberians were long. That the short-heads did not 
exterminate the long-heads is fairly demonstrated by the fact 
that at a later stage short heads and long heads and medium 
heads, clearly the result of cross-breeding, are found together, 

Before the English came 3 

and the long heads have not disappeared to this day. The short 
head is typical of the Aryan ; and the presumption would appear 
to be that these bronze-using men were the first or Goidelic 
wave of the Celts, though this is by no means certain. The 
clear fact, however, which survives is that when the Goidelic 
Celts came they became the ruling race, but absorbed without 
destroying their predecessors. Again, it is matter of conjecture 
how far the religious and other customs of the population when 
it emerges into the light of recorded history were Celtic, and how 
far they were Iberian. Therefore, in applying to them the term 
Celtic, we must not be regarded as begging this question, but 
as using that term as the most convenient equivalent for pre- 
Roman — justified, because the entire disappearance of earlier 
languages before the Celtic dialects is a final demonstration at 
least of Celtic predominance. 

The Brythonic conquest, which we may assume provisionally 
to have taken place somewhere between 500 B.C. and 350 B.C., 
may have been due to the fact that the new-comers ggfore 
had learnt to use iron instead of bronze, which gave Csesar. 
them a marked military superiority over their predecessors. At 
any rate they were definitely established before Pytheas arrived 
on the scene. It was perhaps about a hundred years before the 
Christian era that there was a fresh influx of Brythonic Celts, 
who dominated a good deal of the south, and were the people 
with whom Julius Caesar actually came in contact. Of the 
actual intercourse between these remote barbarians and the 
civilised world, between the days of Alexander the Great and 
Julius Caesar, we know little, except that traders, principally 
Phoenicians, visited them, chiefly to obtain tin, and introduced 
among them the coins of Philip of Macedon, which they copied 
after a barbaric fashion of their own. 

The light of history breaks upon Britain definitely when 
Julius Caesar led an expedition thither from Gaul in the year 
55 B.C. In that year the time was at hand when the jmi^ caesar 
great proconsul of the Republic was to enter upon 55 B.C. 
the short but decisive struggle which overthrew the tottering 
ohgarchy of Rome and raised Caesar himself to the highest 

4 Before the English came 

pinnacle of human greatness. As yet, however, he was still 
preparing himself for empire by the conqhest of Gaul ; his hour 
had not yet come. Though Gaul was not completely curbed 
in the fourth year of his proconsulate, he resolved to penetrate 
Britain, more perhaps with a view to seeing what use he could 
make of it than in order to extend the boundaries of the Roman 
dominion. His visit was more in the nature of an armed explora- 
tion than anything else. The tribes of Britain would be taught 
the terror of the Roman name ; but Caesar had no intention of 
attempting to carry out an effective subjugation. He took 
with him only a couple of legions (the unit to which perhaps our 
nearest term is ' brigade '), with some cavalry. The Britons were 
quite aware of the intended invasion, and hostile forces were 
on the watch to drive the Romans back. The troops, however, 
effected their landing in the face of the enemy by leaping into 
the sea and struggling up the sand. Once clear of the water, 
the heavily armed soldiers soon dispersed the Britons, although 
the Roman horse never made land at all. Storms dispersed 
Caesar's ships ; the barbarians, who had begun by sending sub- 
missive envoys, soon realised that the enemy was completely cut 
off from his communications, and began to harass the legion- 
aries. Caesar, thoroughly aware that the circumstances did not 
permit of a conquest unless the Britons elected to make sub- 
mission, was satisfied to demonstrate that it was futile to attack 
him, obtained some formal submissions, and withdrew, claiming 
in his dispatches to Rome that the Britons had been brought 
under Roman dominion. 

Next year he returned with rather more than double the 
number of his first force. The campaign was longer, the superi- 
secondinva- ^^^^y ^^ ^he Roman troops was more decisively 
slon, 54 B.C. displayed, more chiefs made their submission, a 
tribute was imposed, and again Caesar withdrew to attend to 
matters in the south which were of much more pressing import- 
ance than the acquisition of barbarian territories. Evidently 
it was only upon his second expedition that Caesar realised, first 
that the subjugation of Britain would be a much more serious 
affair than he had at first supposed, and secondly that there 

Before the English came 5 

would be no commensurate advantages gained either by the 
Republic or by himself. He left the record of his campaign, 
with some brief notes as to the characteristics of the people ; 
but almost a hundred years were to pass before the Romans' 
set about a real attempt at occupation. In the year a.d. 43 
Claudius was emperor at Rome. In the interval Augustus had 
three times contemplated preparations for a conquest, but had 
carried the matter no further. There had been increased inter- 
course between the southern Britons and their kinsfolk in Gaul. 
Some sort of tribute or gifts were occasionally rendered by 
occasional princelets or chiefs, among whom was numbered 
Cunobelinus of Camulodunum or Colchester, Shakespeare's 
Cjrmbeline. Then in a.d. 43 Claudius was moved to set about 
the conquest which his predecessors had decided to be not 
worth the expense. 

The business was entrusted to Aulus Plautius with four Roman 
legions, numbering some twenty thousand men, and perhaps 
double that number of the ' allies,' the non-Roman Claudius 
cohorts of the Imperial army. It was not without ^-^ *'• 
some hard fighting that Plautius made himself master of Kent 
and Essex, the latter being in effect the kingdom of Cymbeline's 
son Caradoc or Caratacus, whose name is most commonly given 
as Caractacus. The Iceni of Norfolk and Suffolk made alhance 
with the invaders, recognising them as sovereigns ; but Caradoc 
betook himself to the west, where he presently stirred up the 
tribes to bid defiance to the Romans. It was not till the year 
51 that he met with a decisive defeat, and, becoming a fugitive, 
was surrendered to the Romans by the queen of the northern 
tribe of the Brigantes. He was carried off to Rome, where he 
behaved with a dignity which won him general approbation, 
and he was given his freedom, though he does not appear to have 
returned to his native country. After the fall of Caradoc there 
was a general submission to the Roman authority in the south, 
the east, and the midlands, as far north as Chester and Lincoln, 
for some seven years. 

Then the Emperor Nero sent Suetonius Paulinus as legatus 
or commander-in-chief of the forces in Britain. Suetonius, an 

6 Before the English came 

able soldier, set about the conquest of Anglesey, now the 
headquarters of the Druidical worship and of wliat there was 
Boadicea '^^ nationalism among the Britons. But while he 

^*- was figliting picturesque battles in the west, the pro- 

curator or civil governor, Catus Decianus, in the east was foment- 
ing insurrection by the iniquity of his rule. The climax was 
reached when, on the death of the loyal king of the Iceni, the 
grossest outrages were committed against the persons of his 
widow and daughters. The name of Boadicea, which undoubtedly 
ought to be Boudicca, has become too firmly established in 
literature to be displaced. The Iceni and some neighbouring 
tribes rose in an outburst of rage, massacred the small garrison 
at Camulodunum, and overwhelmed and almost cut to pieces 
a legion which was hurrying from the north to the rescue. In 
the south-east the hordes of the insurgents slaughtered the 
Romans, and with them the Britons who had bowed to the 
yoke and were waxing fat under it. But the day of vengeance 
came. Suetonius succeeded in drawing together the forces in 
the north and west, and gave battle to the barbarian hosts, 
who were routed with a terrific slaughter. The victory was 
decisive, and may be regarded as having completed the conquest 
of the southern part of the country. 

It was not till the year 78 that the great governor Agricola 
was sent to Britain by Vespasian. Agricola was happy in his 
Agricola biographer, his son-in-law Tacitus, the great Roman 

78-84. historian. But his biography, the great authority 

for the period, unfortunately fails to give really intelligible 
information as to Agricola's campaigns. He wisely reorganised 
the government, which meant primarily the collection of revenue ; 
he subdued and garrisoned scientifically the country between the 
Humber and the Tyne ; he certainly carried his arms as far 
north as the river Forth and the Clyde mouth, and inflicted a 
great defeat on the Caledonians at the ' Mons Graupius,' which, 
whatever its precise position may have been, has given its name 
to the Grampian hills. He joined the Clyde and the Forth by 
fortifications, and probably by another line of forts anticipated 
Hadrian's Wall between Tyne and Solway. 

Before the English came 7 

Agricola's governorship, which ended in the year 84, may be 
taken as marking the complete estabhshment of the Roman 
dominion in what afterwards became England and Wales. His 
organised government would not seem to have extended beyond 
the Tyne and the Solway ; garrisons planted farther north 
were merely military outposts in unsubjugated and generally 
hostile country. The Romans continued in occupation for three 
hundred and twenty years longer, but the character of the 
occupation and its effective limits remained the same. 

In the year 120 the Emperor Hadrian visited the island and 
built the great Roman Wall from Tyne to Solway. In its final 
form it was a solid rampart of hewn blocks of stone, Hadrian's 
the space between them being filled in with rubble, ^^'■'■' ^'^'^' 
the whole, in the judgment of antiquaries, having originally been 
about seventeen feet in height and approximately seven in 
thickness. At intervals along the will were the camps or 
quarters, seventeen in number, each containing its cohort or 
infantry regiment, with the corresponding cavalry contingent. 
Between these, about a mile apart, were smaller forts, and between 
these again were sentinel posts. Manifestly this barrier was 
intended to stand as the permanent frontier against which the 
barbarian tribes from the north might surge in vain. It is equally 
clear that it would not have been built at all had there been any 
real intention of carrying an effective occupation farther north. 
There are indeed strong if not absolutely conclusive reasons 
for beheving that the stone rampart generally crowning what was 
originally a bulwark built of sods was the work not of Hadrian 
but of Severus ninety years later ; but all that is to be inferred 
from this is that Hadrian's Wall had been found not to be strong 
enough for its purpose. 

Hadrian's Wall would correspond approximately to the nor- 
thern boundary of the region occupied by the turbulent tribes of 
the Brigantes. This people had been sufficiently broken by 
Agricola to enable him to undertake his expeditions into Cale- 
donia. But even when he left the country it does not seem 
that their subjugation was completed. In the course of the 
next thirty years it is probable that they gave very serious 

8 Before the English came 

trouble ; and Hadrian's forts were intended to curb them, no 
less than to hold back the more northern tribes. 

Again, about twenty years later, or more, the wall named 
after the Emperor Antoninus Pius was drawn across Scotland 
Antonine'a ^^ the narrow neck between the Forth and the Clyde. 
W'aii- Possibly this attempt to extend the controlled 

territory depleted the garrison south of Solway, encouraged the 
Brigantes to their last revolt, and finally convinced the Roman 
governors that Hadrian's Wall must remain the effective 

Towards the close of the century began the prolonged period, 
when the Imperial purple became the precarious gift of the 
legionaries, and the reigns of the Roman emperors were for the 
most part exceedingly brief. To this general rule Severas was 
strong enough to prove an exception. In the last decade of the 
century Albinus, the governor of Britain, made a bid for the 
Empire ; and his withdrawal of troops from Britain, in order to 
fight Severus, unsuccessfully, left the garrisons both weakened 
and mutinous. The northern tribes, called the Caledonians and 
the MeatsE — another name for the Picts — broke over ' the wall ' — 
Severus perhaps Antonine's — and harried the country. In 

208. 208 Severus himself arrived, and next year con- 

ducted a great campaign far into the north of Scotland. Roman 
garrisons were again established perhaps as far as the Tay, but 
were again withdrawn a few years later by the Emperor Caracalla. 

At the end of the third century Diocletian reorganised the 
Roman Empire, and shared the title of Augustus with Maximian, 
who controlled the western half. Now for the first time the Saxons 
appear as sea-rovers, and an official was appointed with the title 
of Comes, ' Count,' of the Saxon shore, who was in effect a sort 
of admiral in command of a Channel fleet and of the ports on 
either side of the Channel, whose main business was to suppress 
CarauBiuE ^^^ pirates. A certain Carausius, probably either 
^*^- a Gaul or a Batavian but possibly a Briton, con- 

ducted his operations as admiral with great success, but finding 
himself in danger from Maximian's suspicions of his designs he 
rebelled openly, and appealed to the army in Britain, which 

Before the English came 9 

hailed him emperor. For seven years he maintained his inde- 
pendence, keeping a decisive mastery of the sea, and virtually 
drove Maximian and Diocletian to acknowledge him as a colleague. 
But he was assassinated by AUectus, presumably one of his 
officers. AUectus was devoid of his victim's abilities, and was 
soon afterwards overthrown by Constantius Chlorus, who was 
given the control of the western quarter of the Empire, with the 
title of Caesar, as a junior colleague of Maximian and Diocletian. 
Constantius was the father of Constantine the Great, who suc- 
ceeded him in 306. Britain was the base whence Constantine 
set out to make himself master of the entire Roman Empire. 

The wall of Severus served as an effective rampart against the 
northern tribes for considerably over a hundred years. Towards 
the middle of the fourth century, however, the pj^^g ^^^ 
Picts again burst over the wall ; and from this Scots, 
time we hear of attacks by people who are now distinguished 
as the Picts, the Scots, and Attacotti, as well as the Saxons, 
often acting in concert. The Scots were rovers from Ireland 
who established themselves mainly in Argyleshire and the 
southern isles. The Picts and Attacotti may be taken as cover- 
ing the indigenous races north of the wall ; possibly they may 
be identified as the Goidelic and Brythonic Celts respectively. 
The Attacotti were absurdly accused of being cannibals. The 
invaders were driven back and sharply punished, and order was 
restored by the Count Theodosius. 

But the Roman Empire was tottering under the attacks of 
the Goths. In 383 the Roman general in Britain, Maximus, 
claimed the Empire of the West, and presently, to make good 
that claim or a more ambitious one, he carried off the pick of the 
troops to Gaul. He was soon afterwards overthrown by the 
Emperor Theodosius, the son of the count of that name. After 
this we hear of a reorganisation of the forces in 
Britain, but it is impossible to arrive at any clear Roman 
idea of its character or its value. It seems tolerably 
certain that the garrison was considerably reduced to reinforce 
the great general Stilicho in his victorious struggles with Alaric 
the Goth, and other Teutonic hordes. In Britain, out of reach 

lo Before the English came 

of any central authority, a soldier of Briton blood named Con- 
stantine took the opportunity of claiming the Imperial purple ; 
and, after the precedent of Maximus, carried off the best of the 
troops to Gaul to make his claim good in 407. Constantine 
failed, but the troops never came back. In this sense, and in 
this sense only, the Roman legions evacuated Britain. A very 
considerable proportion of the garrison, in fact, remained, but 
there was no further attempt on the part of any Roman emperor 
to dispatch fresh forces to the island or to recover control of 
the government. Britain was left to take care of itself. The 
result was that in what had been Roman Britain there very soon 
ceased to be any recognised central authority at all, chaos super- 
vened, and the Saxons found in the island a country which lay 
open to conquest. 

Britain had no historian of her own. The written records 
of the Roman occupation are to be found in the cursory refer- 
ences of the Roman chroniclers, often untrustworthy and almost 
always desultory. Yet out of the meagre supply of facts, re- 
inforced by what we can infer with tolerable certainty from the 
remains and inscriptions investigated by archaeologists, we have 
to construct something reasonably compatible with the evolution 
of the conditions which we know to have actually prevailed 
(from the contemporary account of the monk Gildas) when more 
than a century had passed since the date to which we assign the 
Roman evacuation. 

Wherever the Romans went they carried with them the Pax 
Romana, the Latin tongue, and the religious cult of the City 
Roman °^ Rome and of the Emperor ; but of all the regions 

Influences. jn which they established the Roman peace, none 
perhaps seem to have been so little Latinised as Britain. In 
Gaul and Spain the Latin language took so firm a hold that only 
remnants of other languages survived locally ; and when the 
Teutons, Goths, Vandals, or Franks swept over the land as 
conquerors, the Latin language, nevertheless, practically obliter- 
ated theirs instead of being obUterated itself. But in Britain 
Latin can never have been the popular tongue at all ; it never 
displaced the Brythonic dialects, and left hardly a trace on the 

Before the English came 1 1 

tongue of the Britons who were cooped up in the western hills 
by the Enghsh invaders. Within a century after the invasion 
of Aulas Plautius the whole of Britain south of the wall of 
Hadrian had acquiesced in the Roman dominion ; nor did any 
part of it afterwards make any attempt to shake off the Roman 
yoke. It regarded itself apparently with pride as a portion of 
the Empire ; it was the base from which several pretenders to 
the purple started ; but none of them, unless it were Carausius 
or the last Constantine, thought of separating themselves from 
Imperial Rome. Rome, it may be said, dominated the imagina- 
tion of the people of Britain, but it did not make them Romans. 
It is impossible to say even how far the Druidical religion of the 
Britons gave place to the worship of the Roman Pantheon, or 
to the various religions or superstitions which became fashionable 
from time to time in the Roman world. The one obvious fact 
in this connection is that in the fourth century Christianity 
must have been almost universally accepted. For only in a 
definitely Christian region could a heretical prophet have arisen ; 
and Britain gave birth to perhaps the most important of all the 
heresiarchs in the person of Pelagius. Christianity took so firm 
a hold that after the fourth century, when the Britons forgot 
very nearly everything that the Romans might have been 
supposed to have taught them, they never reverted to their 
own earlier paganism. 

The Romans, we may say, did not colonise England. They 
garrisoned the country, but only a small proportion of the 
garrisons consisted of Roman troops ; the great ^-^^ ^^^^_ 
bulk of them, including all those employed on the pation. 
northern frontier, were regiments of the aUies. Some of them 
acquired estates, the villae worked by servile or semi-servile 
labour ; but there never seems to have been more than a small 
number of what may be called Roman gentry. The Romans 
built cities, some of which became flourishing commercial 
centres ; but primarily the Roman cities were garrison towns ; 
and only to a very limited extent were the Roman legionaries 
planted upon British soil as coloni. In like manner the Roman 
roads were built solely for military purposes, and the wealthy 

12 Before the English came 

towns were developed only where a valuable strategic position 
happened also to be well situated as a commercial centre. The 
Pax Romana put an end to the perpetual raiding and counter- 
raiding of the tribes, which in the past had been the great incen- 
tive to miUtary development ; and a people which had once 
borne a high military character lost that character completely. 
At the same time, under a military government, they were also 
diverted from progressing politically upon what might be called 
their natural line of development. 

It would appear that if there had been about the year 410 a 
capable administrator and soldier among the officials then in 
DiBintegra- Britain, ambitious to seize the supremacy, like 
*io°- Carausius a century earlier, and shrewd enough to 

limit his ambitions to dominion in Britain, such a man would 
have had in his hands the material for organising a powerful 
kingdom. If the British population had ceased to be soldiers 
as they had been soldiers in the days of Julius Caesar, there was 
still a quite considerable professional army ; and there is good 
ground for supposing that the bulk of the professional soldiery 
were of British blood. Theoretically the regiments of allies 
had been imported from every province of the Roman Empire, 
and if a British regiment had been raised it would have been sent 
to serve on the Rhine or the Danube, or in Africa or Asia. But 
in practice the foreign regiments were very largely kept up to 
standard by local recruiting ; the men married wives from among 
the native population ; and when the children grew up they 
were apt to follow in their father's footsteps. The military and 
political organisations were both there, if there had been any one 
who knew how to make use of them. But there was no one ; 
both went to pieces ; and in a few years, as it would seem, the 
whole country was breaking into petty principalities, on the pre- 
Roman lines which had not perished utterly but survived after 
a sort so far as they had not clashed with the Roman system. 


I. The English Conquest, 450-613 

In the first decade of the fifth century the Romans evacuated 
Britain. In the last decade of the sixth century the greater 
part of England was English land — that is, the Britons had 
been driven back into the mountainous regions of the west ; into 
Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall, or ' West Wales ' ; into Wales 
itself, behind the Severn ; and into the country between the 
Solway and the Dee ; though it was not tiU some years later 
that the Angles, by the victory of Chester, completely severed 
the northern group from their kinsfolk in Wales. It is only 
about this time that assured history emerges from the mists 
which obscured it for almost two centuries. From this time 
our great authority, the Venerable Bede, who died .j.^^^ 
in 735, had definite records to work upon. For the authorities, 
earlier period he had little to rely upon except tradition, the 
partly contemporary work of the Welsh monk Gildas, and the 
late seventh-century Historia BrUtonum, now generally referred 
to by the name of a ninth-century editor, Nennius. Gildas and 
Nennius we know ; and we have a fourth source of information 
in the later compilation commonly called the Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle. Of this the early portion appears to have been 
worked up from earlier records and traditions in the time of 
King Alfred, from whose day it was systematically continued 
down to the middle of the twelfth century. The Chronicle, 
while using Bede himself as the main authority, embodies also 
the traditions of the conquering race, and especially those of 
the West Saxons. Gildas, an extremely hysterical person who 
wrote about the year 545, is a valuable authority for events 
which occurred during his own lifetime and within his own ken, 


14 The Early English Kingdoms 

but otherwise is very nearly worthless ; little more than sugges- 
tions of possible truths can be gathered from the collection of 
British legends in Nennius ; so that in the main we have to rely 
upon the sober traditions of the conquerors, while recognising 
that they are themselves traditions with little or no documentary 
authority. There are, however, two documents which throw a 
definite light upon the condition of Britain in the first few years 
following the Roman evacuation : the life of the missionary 
bishop St. Germanus, who visited the country in 429, and again 
eighteen years later ; and a letter written by St. Patrick 
about 450. 

The popular and familiar account, derived from the work 
which might fitly be called the Lamentations of Gildas, is as 
Giidas. follows : — ' The departure of the Romans left the 

unhappy Britons with no troops, no military stores, no rulers, and 
no knowledge of the art of war, entirely at the mercy of the 
Picts and Scots who fell upon them from the north and north- 
west.' The helpless people, says Gildas, appealed to Rome ; 
the Romans sent a legion, which drove the invading hordes out 
of the country, built a wall across the northern boundary, and 
then retired. The Picts and Scots broke in again; but the 
Romans, though they came once more to the rescue, gave notice 
that it was for the last time, and in future the islanders must 
take care of themselves. They were no sooner gone than the 
Picts and Scots returned to the attack, carrying such havoc as 
do wolves among sh^p. Then the British king applied to the 
Saxons for help ; the Saxons came, and having routed the Picts 
and Scots set about the conquest of the land on their own 
account, their first excuse being that their pay was insufficient. 
' Then,' says Gildas, ' was kindled by the sacrilegious hands of 
the eastern folk a fire which blazed from sea to sea, and sank 
not till its red and cruel tongues were licking the western ocean.' 
There follows a lurid picture of universal devastation. The 
wretched inhabitants fled to the mountains, or, to escape starva- 
tion, submitted themselves to become the perpetual slaves of 
the conqueror. Then some of the robbers returned home, the 
fugitives ralhed under the leadership of Ambrosius Aurelianus, 

The English Conquest 1 5 

the only Roman left, and in the year in which Gildas was born 
inflicted a great defeat at Mount Badon upon the invaders. 
From that time — in other words, during the life of Gildas — 
external wars ceased among the Britons, though not civil strifes ; 
but the people did not reoccupy the regions from which they 
had been driven, which were left in dreary desertion and ruin. 
The Britons fell into a state of hopeless anarchy. ' Kings, 
public and private persons, priests, ecclesiastics, followed every 
one their own devices. We have kings but they are tyrants ; 
judges but they are unrighteous,' and in such terms his Jeremiad 

Onto the story of Gildas is grafted the legend of the Historia 
Brittonum. Stripped of supernatural adjuncts, the story is 
that a certain Vortigern was reigning in Britain, Nennius. 
who took into his pay certain rovers from Germany, whose 
captains were Hengist and Horsa. Vortigern married the 
lovely daughter of Hengist, who sent for more and more of his 
own countrymen, on whom Vortigern bestowed Kent and also 
a region in the north. Vortigern's son Vortimer after three 
fierce battles drove the Saxons out again. Then Vortimer died, 
the Saxons returned in force, Vortigern ceded wide territories 
to them, and then the Saxon power expanded till it was checked 
by the British captain Arthur ^ at Mount Badon, the last of a 
series of twelve tremendous battles. 

Bede's only practical contribution to the story is borrowed 
from the life of St. Germanus. The bishop came, intent appar- 
ently on completing the conversion of the Britons 
to Christianity and the refutation of the prevalent manus and 
Pelagian heresy. This part of his work was accom- 
plished not without miracles; but he was also a practical man, 
who had been a soldier in his youth ; and under his direction 
the Britons won the famous and bloodless ' Hallelujah victory ' 
over a combined force of Picts and Saxons. The enemy, inveigled 
into mountain passes, fled in wild panic when the ciy of Halle- 
lujah, raised by the unseen foe, reverberated on all sides from 
crag and cliff. Quite evidently at this time, 429, the old enemies 

^ See Note i. , ICing Arthur. 

1 6 The Early English Kingdoms 

were making onslaughts, but were by no means carrying matters 
all their own way, as Gildas relates. Moreover, the letter of St. 
Patrick above referred to is addressed to the subjects of a 
Coroticus (Caradoc), who had made himself king of the land 
between Solway and Clyde mouth ; and it is evident that the 
Picts and Scots, instead of overrunning the country, were beaten 
out by the king, who thrust the Picts back behind the wall of 
Antonine, fought the Scots' fleets, and raided their lands in 

Now when we turn to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle we get a 
consistent inteUigible account, though an incomplete one, of 
The fhe course of the conquest. First of all, Hengist 

Chronicle. g^j^^ Horsa came over at the invitation of Vortigem 
in 449. They fought and defeated the Picts, but six years later 
they were fighting the Britons themselves. Horsa was killed, 
but in the course of the next eighteen years Hengist and his 
son had made themselves completely masters of Kent. In 477 
came a fresh horde of Saxons led by Aelle, who landed in Sussex 
(which was completely cut off from Kent by the impracticable 
wastes called the Andredesweald) . In 491 they entirely wiped 
out the British population of what had been the Roman fortress 
of Anderida, by Pevensey. In 495 came the third band, the 
West Saxons, led by Cerdic and his son Cynric, who landed in 
Hampshire. When Cerdic died in 534 he was master of Hamp- 
shire and the Isle of Wight. In the next twenty-six years 
Cynric extended the West Saxon dominion over most of the 
modern Wiltshire. This has carried us past the point where the 
history of Gildas ends. The Chronicle gives no record of invasions 
north of the Thames until 549, when the Angle Ida fortified 
Bamborough and founded the kingdom of Northumbria. Ida, 
says the chronicler, was succeeded in 560 by Aelle. It is to be 
observed that we have so far no definite account of the English 
settlement along the east coast between the Thames and the 
Humber, or of the beginnings of the Middle English and Mercian 
kingdoms, of which the former name applies to the counties 
immediately to the west of East Anglia and Essex, and the latter 
primarily to the ' marches ' or northern and north-western half 

The English Conquest 17 

of the midlands. But as we have no record of later invasions, 
of the coming of immigrants, after the middle of the sixth 
century, it is safe to assume that the bands which consohdated 
into these divisions early in the seventh century must have 
already penetrated into the country. 

Out of the various accounts before us we can now construct 
a story with some pretence to verisimilitude. Britain, lacking 
a head after the departure of Constantine, broke up 
into a sort of confederacy of local magnates or recon- 
chiefs. Without much concert, but still stubbornly 
enough for some half century, they made head against the fre- 
quently leagued forces of the Picts, Scots, and Saxons. We can 
hardly imagine that the Picts penetrated any great distance 
southwards by way of the wall ; the attacks would rather have 
been on the west and east coasts. Some British prince, however, 
invited a band of the Saxons or, more accurately, their near 
neighbours the Jutes — -Bede is very express in stating that 
Hengist and Horsa belonged to the Jutish tribe — to enter his 
service as mercenaries ; and those Jutish mercenaries estab- 
lished themselves certainly in Kent, and also very possibly in 
the neighbourhood of the wall, about the middle of the fifth 
century. The brief but very definite story of Aelle in Sussex, 
as related in the Chronicle, suggests that the complete subjuga- 
tion of the south-east was only achieved after hard fighting a 
few years before the century closed. Dismissing for the moment 
the story of the rise of Wessex ^ under Cerdic and his son, which 
contains in itself strong signs of being legendary, we turn to the 
definitely contemporary account of Gildas. Gildas seems cer- 
tainly to have written about the year 545, and he seems definitely 
to date his own birth and the battle of Mount Badon 
forty-four years earlier. We must recognise his invasion 
statement as to the position of affairs between 
500 and 545 as having the strongest authority. On this assump- 
tion it is clear that by the year 500 the southern Britons — Gildas 
has nothing whatever to say about the country north of the 
Humber and the Mersey — had been swept back behind the Severn 

^ See Note II., The West Saxon Conquest. 
Innes s Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. B 

1 8 The Early English Kingdoms 

and into the western counties of the south. Also it is clear that 
at the beginning of the sixth century the tide of invasion was 
broken, and for the next forty or fifty years great districts 
between those held by the Britons and those fully occupied by 
the Saxons were left deserted. We should judge, therefore, that 
during the last decade of the fifth century there was a great 
incursion, which for a time swept everything before it, but was 
finally beaten off — an incursion as to which the Saxon tradition 
preserved silence or modified into the semi-legendary account of 
Cerdic and Cynric. 

As to the Wessex tradition, for the glorification of the house 
of Cerdic, it may be remarked that several of the names given 
are open to more than suspicion, including that of Cerdic himself ; 
while it is quite certain that in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 
Jutes were firmly established before West Saxons. We inchne 
to believe that the West Saxons, whom we find starting on a 
•really historical career of conquest after 560, were established on 
the Thames, and had come from the east, not from the south, 
penetrating inland beyond the Middle and East Saxons of 
Middlesex and Essex. 

At any rate the historical atmosphere has become compara- 
tively clear, and the persons are no longer under suspicions of 
being legendary when we reach the year 560. In 
advance, the north Ida had made himself a kingdom, which 

cert CI O 

may have penetrated no great distance inland, from 
the Forth to the Humber. In this year Ida died ; the northern 
half of his kingdom, called Bernicia, passed under the sway of a 
series of his sons, of whom the last was named Aethelric ; and 
the southern half fell under that of a chieftain named AeUe. 
Angles must have been in full occupation of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, 
and Suffolk, and at least in partial occupation of a great part of 
the midlands, subsequently consolidated into the kingdom of 
Mercia ; but of these as yet we hear nothing, as we hear nothing 
of the Saxons in Essex and Middlesex. The great king Aethel- 
bert was just about to succeed to the throne in Kent ; Sussex 
was geographically isolated ; and Ceawlin had succeeded C5mric 
as king of the West Saxons. 

The English Conquest 19 

Whatever Ceawlin's actual dominions may have been at this 
time, he was the hero of the Saxon expansion in the south. 
In 568 he put Aethelbert of Kent to rout, and three ceawiin of 
years later he and his brother Cutha extended his WesBex. 
rule over the district on the north of the Thames valley from 
Bedford to Oxford. According to the Chronicle, this was a 
war against the ' Britons ' ; but the existence of an independent 
British kingdom so far to the east at this date is incredible. 
The statement is probably due to an error in transcription, and 
the conquered territories must have been already in the occupa- 
tion of Angles or Saxons. In 577, however, a really decisive 
blow was dealt against the Britons. Ceawiin, carrying his arms 
westwards, inflicted a great defeat upon them at Deorham in 
Gloucestershire, between Bath and Bristol ; and the effect of the 
victory was to make him master of the country as far as the 
Bristol Channel. The people of West Wales, Damnonia, in other 
words, Dorset, West Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall were 
permanently cut off from their British kinsmen in Wales itself. 
A little later Ceawiin was again campaigning against the Britons 
with no great success ; but the region in which this war was 
carried on cannot be identified. Wessex again relapses into 
obscurity, and Aethelbert of Kent is recognised as the greatest 
of the kings of the south, and as apparently in some sort over- 
lord of the rest up to the Humber. The story of conquest is 
transferred to the north. 

From 560 to 588 Ida's Northumbrian kingdom was divided be- 
tween his sons and Aelle of Deira. Aethelfrith, son of Aethelric, 

son of Ida, married Aelle's daughter, and when . ^^ „ .^^ 
' ° Aethelfrith 

AeUe died Aethelric again ruled over Northumbria. of North- 
Eadwin, the son of AeUe's old age, a child of three, 
was of course passed over. Five years later Aethelfrith succeeded 
Aethelric, and young Eadwin was very soon a fugitive from his 
dangerous brother-in-law. Aethelfrith was a man of war. He 
gained one district after another, from the Britons, who, even up 
to this time, would seem to have maintained their hold on great 
part of Yorkshire as well as on Cumberland, Westmorland, and 
Lancashire. In 603 a Celtic movement against tHis vigorous 

20 The Early English Kingdoms 

warrior was headed by the Scots king Aidan of Dalriada. A 
great battle was fought at Dawston in Liddesdale, which resulted 
in an overwhelming victory for the English. ' From that time,' 
wrote Bede in 730, ' none of the Scots kings ventured to do battle 
with the English folk in Britain until this day.' On this occasion 
the Celts were the aggressors. In 613 Aethelfrith delivered the 
crushing blow which severed the Celts of Wales from the Celts of 
the north, as Ceawlin's victory of Deorham had severed them 
from those of the south. The great battle was fought close to 
Chester, and it carried the dominion of Northumbria to the 
estuaries of the Dee and the Mersey. The Celtic forces were 
completely shattered ; and among those slaughtered were a great 
company of monks from Bangor whom Aethelfrith refused to 
recognise as non-combatants — they were there, he said, to pray 
for the help of their God in the battle, and therefore were practi- 
cally combatants no less than if they had carried arms. The battle 
of Chester in effect completes the story of the conquest. The 
Britons were now severed into three groups : in Strathclyde from 
the Clyde to the Mersey, in Wales behind the Severn and the 
Dee, and in Damnonia on the south of the Bristol Channel. 

The decisive conquest, then, was carried out between 570 and 
613 by CeawHn, king of the West Saxons, in the south, and by 
Aethelfrith, king of the Northumbrian Angles, in the north. 
Until that time it would seem that from the Tyne to the Channel 
the Britons had remained in possession west of a line correspond- 
ing roughly with the second meridian of longitude, besides holding 
a substantial portion of Yorkshire east of that line. The campaign 
which forced back and sundered the loosely associated British 
confederacy really ended the possibility of a British recovery. 

Throughout these years Aethelbert was reigning in Kent, 
imconcerned with the British wars, but consoUdating his own 
Aetneibert kingdom and developing an ascendency over Saxons 
of Kent. ^^^ Angles up to the borders of Aethelfrith's king- 

dom, and, at least after Ceawlin's death in 593, over Wessex itself. 
Kent was the longest established of all the English dominions, 
and the one which was in touch with the comparatively advanced 
civilisation "of the Franks. According to Bede, Aethelbert was the 

The English Conquest 2 1 

third ruler who had been recognised as general overlord south of 
the Humber, his predecessors in that honour having been Ceawlin 
of Wessex and in the previous century Aelle of Sussex. His 
dignity and reputation were so great that he obtained in marriage 
the hand of the Prankish princess Bertha, of the reigning Mero- 
vingian house, in spite of the fact that she was a Christian and 
he was a heathen. The years which were signalised by the 
advance of Angles and Saxons against the Britons were sig- 
nalised also by the introduction of Latin Christianity among 
the English of the south-east. 

Jutes, Angles, and Saxons, the peoples collected under one 
name as the English, were pagans, worshippers of the Teutonic 
deities, of whom the chief were Woden and Thor. British 
There is no sign whatever that any enterprising Christianity. 
Christian missionaries had ever attempted to carry Christianity 
among them. The Britons had been Christianised during the 
last century of the Roman occupation ; the process had been 
confirmed or completed by St. Germanus in the first half of the 
fifth century, and the faith had taken firm root in Ireland. 
But both in Britain and in Ireland the Church had been cut off 
from ecclesiastical movements on the Continent, and in methods 
and usages had become considerably differentiated from the 
Roman Church, which dominated Western Christendom. The 
Britons in Britain were moved by no missionary zeal to attempt 
the conversion of their pagan enemies. The Scots from Ireland 
who built up the Scots kingdom of Dalriada between 450 and 
550 were already more or less Christianised ; but the spread 
of Christianity in the north was the work of the Irish monk 
Columba and his missionaries in the last third of the sixth cen- 
tury. Hitherto the missionaries of the Celtic Church had not 
touched the Angles planted along the coastal districts from Tyne 
to Forth and pushing inland under Ida, Aelle, and Aethelric. 

In the year 590 Gregory the Great became pope. Fifteen 
years earlier, moved by the sight of some fair boys brought to 
the Roman slave market from Deira, he had been oreeorythe 
inspired by a fervent desire to spread Christianity cireat. 
among the English. The story is too familiar to be repeated 

2 2 The Early English Kingdoms 

here. The Church could not spare him to carry out his project, 
but when he himself was raised to the papal throne, no long time 
elapsed before he organised the mission which was entrusted to 
the conduct of Augustine. The opportunity was a good one. 
The fame of the power of Aethelbert of Kent was spread abroad. 
His Frankish wife was allowed to practise her own religion, 
though she had made no attempt to spread it further. A 
mission was at least not likely to meet with a hostile reception. 
Augustine himself was evidently extremely nervous, so nervous 
Ausustine ^'^^ a year passed after he started from Rome before 
B97. he landed with his companions in the island of 

Thanet, in the spring of 597. The missionary band of forty was 
received courteously if cautiously. They were quartered at 
first in the island of Thanet and then at Canterbury itself, the 
capital of the Jutish kingdom, under the sheltering protection 
of the monarch, and they were given permission to teach and 
preach. Before long the king himself received baptism ; and the 
voluntary conversion of his subjects proceeded apace, though 
no pressure was employed either to accelerate or to retard the 
process. Progress was so satisfactory and so peaceable that in 
600 Augustine was ordained archbishop of the English people. 
Somewhat prematurely Gregory gave the archbishop instructions 
for dividing the country into dioceses as soon as such a step 
should be feasible, and even for appointing a second archbishop 
to Eboracum — that is, York. Eminently sensible and liberal- 
minded instructions were also given as to the adaptation of 
English customs to Christian uses, and the extent to which other 
Christian customs than those prevalent at Rome should be 

Not long afterwards we find Augustine in conference with 
the Welsh ecclesiastics. The Welsh were jealous of their own 

ecclesiastical independence, and obviously supposed, 
and the ^lot without reason, that Augustine wished to bring 

WeiBh them under the immediate direction of Canterbury 

and Rome. The Church ought to take concerted 
action for spreading the faith, but the churchmen must be in 
harmony. Particularly, in Augustine's view, it was necessary 

The NorthuTnbrian and Mercian Supremacies 23 

that the Welsh should adopt the Roman principle for fixing the 
date of Easter. The Welsh could see no reason for changing their 
own ways, which were in conformity with the earlier practice of 
the Church at large. We may beUeve that the real crux was the 
unwillingness of the Welsh to accept dictation from Canterbury, 
rather than a conviction that points in dispute, which must 
appear ridiculously trivial to modern eyes, were worth insisting 
upon at the price of a permanent antagonisin in place of healthy 
co-operation. Augustine was tactless and dictatorial, the con- 
ference came to nothing, and with its failure vanished the hope 
of a united Church exercising its unifying influence over the 
whole island. 

Before Aethelbert died in 616 the general ascendency had 
already passed to his nephew Redwald, king of East Anglia. 

II. The Northumbrian and Mercian Supremacies 

Apart from the conversion of Kent — for outside of Kent Chris- 
tianity took no immediate hold, in spite of the baptism of the 
kings of East Anglia and Essex — the interest of the Eadwin of 
seventh century centres almost exclusively in the Deira. 
north. Eadwin, the son of Aelle, fled at a very early age from 
the sight of his fierce brother-in-law Aethelfrith. According to 
the story, he took refuge for a time with Cadvan, king of Gwynedd, 
or North- West Wales ; and it has been somewhat superfluously 
suggested that Aethelfrith's Chester campaign was intended to 
remove from his path this pretender to the throne of Deira. 
In like manner, it is stated that Aidan's earlier attack upon him 
was intended to place a cousin of his on the Northumbrian 
throne. The pretender in either case merely afforded a pretext, 
not the real reason of the war. In Eadwin's case the story is 
made the more doubtful because there is no sign that he had any 
leanings to Christianity before his actual conversion ; which does 
not look as if his youth had been spent at a Christian court in 
Wales. After Chester, however, Eadwin was certainly at the 
court of Redwald of East Anglia, who had already superseded 

24 The Early English Kingdoms 

Aethelbert in the supremacy of the south. Redwald had been 
baptised ; but his Christianity was more than dubious, since he is 
reported to have had an altar on which he sacrificed to ' devils ' 
in the same temple in which he set up an altar to Christ. Aethel- 
frith, however, evidently considered that Eadwin was dangerous, 
since he invited Redwald to murder his guest. 
acMe^s This he had made up his mind to do when, under 

supremacy, divine guidance, according to Bede, he was dis- 
suaded from the act of treachery by his wife. 
Instead of murdering Eadwin he marched against the great 
northern king, surprised and slew him at the battle of the Idle 
river, and set up Eadwin as king of Northumbria in 6i6 or 617. 
Aethelfrith's sons disappeared into the Celtic north, Redwald 
died almost immediately, and in a very short time Eadwin was 
making his hand felt on aU sides as the mightiest king in Britain. 
Redwald being dead, his successor seems to have submitted to 
the Northumbrian supremacy ; Mercia, as yet unorganised, 
followed suit ; and it would seem that Wessex also acknowledged 
the overlordship. Eadwin did not attack Kent, but obtained 
for his wife the Christian Kentish princess Aethelberga. In the 
north also Eadwin's power was acknowledged ; and Edinburgh, 
Eadwin's burgh, takes its name from the great prince, of whom 
it is said by Bede that in his day ' a woman with her newborn babe 
might walk unharmed over the whole island from sea to sea 
through all the king's dominions.' 

Eadwin's marriage with Aethelberga prepared the way for 
the spread of Christianity in Northumbria. At first the queen's 
chaplain Paulinus made little enough progress. But on one 
night the queen bore a son to the king, and the king himself 
escaped the dagger of an assassin sent from Wessex only through 
Eadwin and the courageous devotion of one of his thegns. 
Paulinus. Paulinus attributed both these happy events to 
Christian prayers. Eadwin deferred consideration of this 
point of view till he had executed vengeance upon the kings of 
Wessex who had sent the assassin. On his return from this 
expedition he still showed no haste in yielding to the exhortations 
of Paulinus, until one day, as he sat in solitary meditation after 

The Northumbrian and Mercian Supremacies 25 

his wont, ■ the man of God,' says Bede, ' came to him and laid 
his hand upon his head and asked him whether he recognised that 
sign.' The action recalled a vision or dream which had come to 
Eadwin on the night when Redwald was contemplating his 
murder. The divine visitant had prophesied that Redwald 
would do him no harm, that he should overcome his enemies, 
that he should be mightier than any previous ruler of the English, 
and ended by saying : ' If he who hath foretold truthfully these 
things which shall come to pass shall be able to show thee counsel 
of salvation and life better and more profitable than ever was 
heard of by any of thy kinsfolk, wilt thou obey him and hearken 
to his saving precepts ? ' Which promise being readily given by 
Eadwin, the vision laid a hand upon his head, saying : ' When 
this sign shall come to thee, remember and make haste to fulfil 
thy promise.' 

When, therefore, Paulinus recalled that sign Eadwin remem- 
bered and promised to receive baptism himself, and also to 
summon his witan or council of wise men and confer with them 
as to the general acceptance of Christianity. The witan being 
summoned and the question being propounded, the 
chief priest Coifi promptly pronounced against the sion of the ' 
efficiency of the gods whom he worshipped pro- 
fessionally. His experience was that they showed no proper 
attention to the prosperity of their votaries. A less materialistic 
argument was adduced by another of the council. ' The life of 
man is but a span long, like the flight of a sparrow through a 
chamber in the winter-time, out of the dark into the dark ; and, 
even so, of all that goeth either before or after we know nothing. 
If the new doctrine can give us knowledge of this vast unknown, 
surely it is to be followed.' So PauUnus was called in to expound 
the new doctrine, the witan were convinced, and the high priest 
himself rode forth mounted, in defiance of the religious law, upon 
a stallion instead of a mare, carrying sword and spear, galloped 
up to the temple, flung the spear into it, and called to his comrades 
to set it on fire. Thus picturesquely was the conversion of the 
Northumbrian magnates announced to the surprised population. 
Naturally the spread of Christianity throughout the dominion 

26 The Early English Kingdoms 

was rapid ; for it nowhere appears that either Angles or Saxons 
were deeply attached to the religion of their ancestors. Lincoln- 
shire or Lindsay followed the contagious example ; so also did 
East Anglia, where piety assumed extravagant forms among the 
upper classes, who became apt to forget their political responsi- 
bilities in their desire for monastic holiness. 

Mighty as was King Eadwin, a new and dangerous power was 
being consolidated in the midlands for his overthrow. Nothing 
Penda of practically has hitherto been heard of Mercia ; but 
Hercia. at about the time when Eadwin was turning 

wrathfully upon the kings of Wessex, the rulership of Mercia 
came into the hands of a vigorous and experienced warrior. 
The Mercians may have more or less acknowledged some sort of 
overlordship in Aethelfrith ; but Penda was somewhat of a 
primitive pagan, with a hearty contempt for what he had seen 
of the Christians and no inclination to remain under the yoke 
of the Christian king of Northumbria. The Welsh in the west 
as well as the itien of Strathclyde were still smarting from the 
blows dealt by the last Northumbrian king, and very possibly 
Cadwallon of Gwynedd resented the claims to overlordship put 
forward by the man whom perhaps his own father Cadvan had 
protected. The breach between the Welsh and Latin Churches 
was sufficiently marked for the Welshmen to regard the converted 
Angles as rather worse than heathens, just as at a later day 
there were Protestant reformers who thought it justifiable to 
league with the Moslem against the papist powers. The Welsh- 
men leagued with Penda, who had no objection to seeing the 
Christians fighting against each other. The allies marched 
against the Northumbrian king, and overthrew and slew him 
in the great rout of Heathfield or Hatfield Chase. The Welshmen, 
more than the Mercians, swept with fire and sword over North- 
umbria as far at any rate as Tyne or Tweed. Eadwin's wife 
and young children escaped from the country to Kent. Penda 
seems to have retired satisfied, or inclining rather to extend his 
sway over the southern and western midlands, leaving North- 
umbria for the time to the Welsh. 

The Northumbrians recognised Osric, a young cousin of 

The Northumbrian and Mercian Supremacies 27 

Eadwin's, as king in Deira, and Eanfride, the eldest son of 

Aethelfritli, as king in Bernicia. Osric attacked Cadwallon, but 

his force was cut to pieces and he himself killed. Eanfride came 

to treat with the Welshman, and according to the English 

tradition was treacherously murdered. But redemption came 

with Oswald, the second son of Aethelfrith, the „ 

' ' Oswald 

champion at once of the Anglian and the Christian of North- 
cause. It has been noted that before the arrival 
of Augustine in England, the Irish St. Columba and his mission- 
aries, from his monastery in the island of lona, had established 
the Celtic Christianity among the Celtic peoples of the north. 
The Scots king Aidan, who suffered the great defeat at the hands 
of Aethelfrith in 603, probably regarded his war as one of religion 
not less than of race, since there was a marked distinction 
between Gaels and Britons. It is curious, and creditable to 
Gaelic Christianity, that when Aethelfrith was overthrown by 
Redwald and Eadwin, his second son Oswald and perhaps other 
members of the family took refuge among the Scots, and the boy 
was brought up among the monks of lona and was thoroughly 
imbued with Christianity. There he would doubtless have re- 
mained, but for the fall of Eadwin at Heathfield and the murder 
of his own brother Eanfride by Cadwallon. These events, how- 
ever, brought him back to Bernicia ; the Angles ralhed to the 
son of Aethelfrith and representative of the line of Ida. With a 
comparatively small force he fell upon the hosts of the British 
king at Heavenfield in Northumberland, shattered them utterly, 
and by his decisive victory practically recovered all that had been 
lost at Heathfield. Deira as well as Bernicia welcomed the 
victor, who reigned mightily over Northumbria as a right 
Christian prince but also as a vigorous warrior. 

The Latin Christianity introduced by Ead\\in and Paulinus 
had received an exceedingly rude shock. Not from the south 
but from the north, not from Canterbury but from lona, came 
the saintly Aidan, who, working in complete harmony with 
Oswald, established the faith in the northern kingdom, of which 
Lindisfame was made the ecclesiastical as Bamborough was the 
political centre. While Aidan and Oswald by precept and 

28 The Early English Kingdoms 

example spread a very genuine and practical Christianity, the 
king's supremacy was acknowledged according to Bede by 
Britons, Picts, Scots, and Angles ; but we have no details as 
to the method by which he extended his overlordship all over the 
island. Presumably there was nothing more than a formal 
recognition of a titular supremacy. For old Penda of Mercia 
was as little inclined as of yore to submit permanently to a 
Northumbrian supremacy. In 642, the seventh year of his reign 
Penda again, and the thirty-eighth of his age, Oswald was slain 
in battle against Penda at Maserfield, commonly identiiied as 

As before, however, Penda, though he probably ravaged 
Northumbria, did not seek to extend his own dominion over the 
north. Two years after Maserfield, Northumbria was again 
parted in two, with Oswiu or Oswy, brother of Oswald, reigning 
in Bemicia, and Oswin, son of Eadwin's cousin Osric, whom 
CadwaUon slew, reigning in Deira. Penda's heavy hand smote 
the recently Christianised Wessex in 645, and the Mercian 
kingdom was probably established as far south as the Thames 
valley. A few years earlier he had smitten East Anglia, and in 
654 he smote it again. But the last scene of the old pagan's hfe 
belongs once more to the history of Northumbria. 

From 744 to 751 Oswy and Oswin reigned in Bemicia and Deira. 
Oswy was a worthy successor of his broth^, while the same 
combination of Christian virtue and manly valour distinguished 
Oswin. Both, especially Oswin, were warm friends of Aidan. 
Unhappily, however, there were dissensions between the two 
princes ; Oswin found himself unable to resist Oswy's superior 
forces when the dissensions led to open war in 651, and he was 
betrayed into the hands of one of Oswy's ofdcers, who killed him. 
Oswy of Whether personally responsible for the crime or no, 

Northumbria. ^^ murder remains the one blot upon the fair fame 
of Oswy, who ruled gloriously over a united Northumbria for the 
next twenty years. 

Just at this time there was peace between Mercia and North- 
umbria, and Oswy's son Alchfrid took to wife a daughter of 
Penda. At the same time Penda's son Peada, king of the 

The Northumbrian and Mercian Supremacies 29 

Middle Angles, whom Penda had long since brought under his 
sway, married Oswy's daughter. The condition, his adoption of 
Christianity, does not appear to have been resented by the old 
king. In spite of these matrimonial alliances, however, Oswy 
found it impossible to curb Penda's aggressiveness ; in 655 he 
marched against him, and the last of the pagans, now over eighty 
years of age, was slain in the great battle of Winwaed. Possibly 
the overthrow of the East Anglian kingdom in 654 was the cause 
which moved Oswy to challenge the fierce old barbarian. 

Though Penda was slain Oswy seems to have secured no real 
hold upon Mercia. His son-in-law Peada was murdered, and 
Wulfhere, a younger son of Penda but a zealous wuifhereof 
Christian, was raised to the Mercian throne. Wulf- '*'*''°'*' 
here seems to have been practically overlord of all the country 
between the Humber, the Severn, the Thames, and the eastern 
sea, and to have compelled the kings of East Anglia and Essex 
to ackno\vledge his supremacy. South of the Thames the 
Britons must have regained some of their lost ground, since we 
find the Wessex kings fighting with them in Wiltshire. Wessex 
no doubt had suffered grievously at the hands of Penda, and the 
sway of Sussex, still largely pagan, had extended over part of 
Hampshire as well as the Isle of Wight. It is claimed, on the 
other hand, that the Northumbrian overlordship extended to the 
Britons and the Picts, and was effective in the east of Scotland 
as far north even as Aberdeen. 

When Oswy died in 671 he was succeeded by his son Ecgfrith. 
Ecgfrith would seem to have been ambitious, for he attacked 
Wulfhere of Mercia, from whom he recovered Lindsey. Four 
years later, in 679, Wulfhere's brother and successor Aethelred 
got Lindsey back again, and from that year onwards . 

there was peace between Mercia and Northumbria. of Nortii- 
Ecgfrith turned his arms to the north, where a king 
of the northern Picts was extending his own domination. In 
685 Ecgfrith lead a great expedition beyond the Forth ; but the 
Picts enticed him into unknown ground, and fell on him at 
Dunnechtan or Nechtansmere in Forfar, where the Northumbrian 
king was killed and his army was cut to pieces. As the result of 

30 The Early English Kingdoms 

that victory the Picts and Scots in Strathclyde broke almost 
entirely free from such supremacy as Northumbria had exercised. 
In effect, after Nechtansmere, the political might departed from 
the once dominant Anglian kingdom of the north. 

While Oswy still ruled in Northumbria, the important question 
was decided whether the Latin or the Celtic Church should 
n.v n 1 - predominate. The Latin Church had been firmly 
and Latin established in Kent, found a very uncertain footing 
in Essex, and then conquered Deira and East Anglia 
in the time of Eadwin of Northumbria and Paulinus. Then the 
Celtic Church in the time of Oswald and Aidan secured Bernicia 
and also in part Deira. Northumbrian zeal taught the Mercians 
their Christianity and definitely converted Essex, while in the 
south Wessex was evangelised by the Latins. The apparent 
presumption was that the Celtic Church would dominate the 
north and the midlands, while the Latin Church would dominate 
the east and the south. The real differences were differences of 
organisation ; the controversial differences were of that trivial 
character which excites the maximum of theological antagonism. 
They were concerned chiefly with two questions : the correct form 
of the tonsure and the correct way of calculating the date of 
Easter. But this latter controversy carried with it practical 
inconveniences which impressed Oswy. Brought up like his 
brother Oswald in the Celtic usage, he had married a wife, 
Eanflaed, the daughter of Eadwin, who had been brought up 
by her mother in Kent in the Latin usage. Hence it might 
occasionally happen that one part of the royal household would 
be plunged in the mourning of Passion Week precisely when the 
other portion was celebrating the After Easter feast. Oswy made 
up his mind that the question must be settled, and he summoned 
a sjmod to be held at Whitby in 664 — to give the place the name 
subsequently bestowed on it by the Danes. The Celtic party 
appealed to the authority of St. Columba ; the Latins crushed 
them by a certainly far-fetched appeal to St. Peter. Oswy 
decided in favour of St. Peter, on the ground that it would be as 
well to avoid giving needless provocation to the apostle, who had 
undoubtedly received authority to open or lock the gates of 

The Northumbrian and Mercian Supremacies 31 

heaven. The decision of the secular arbitrator was conclusive ; 
the Latin doctrine was accepted throughout Northumbria and 
with it the Latin authority. For practical purposes the synod 
of Whitby decided that there should be one Latin Church through- 
out England. 

Five years later Theodore of Tarsus was appointed to the 
archbishopric of Canterbury by the Pope, to take the place of the 
Englishman Wighard, who died in Rome of the Theodore of 
plague, having been sent thither to be consecrated. Tarsus. 
Theodore, though he was already sixty-six, proved himself 
exceedingly vigorous, and an incomparable organiser. His task 
was rendered easier so far as concerned England because the 
Celtic clergy of Northumbria had already accepted the Whitby 
decision. Since he apparently made no attempt to seek reconcilia- 
tion with the Church of the Britons, it may be doubted whether 
he would have effected one with the Celtic Church among the 
English had it still been dominant in the north. 

Still he did not find the position of affairs altogether satis- 
factory. Shortly after the synod of Whitby, Wilfred, who on 
that occasion had been the champion of the Latins, was nomiri- 
ated to the bishopric of York, which at this time displaced 
Lindisfarne as the headquarters of the Northumbrian episcopal 
see. The prevailing system gave one bishop to each Christian 
kingdom. Wilfred, questioning the vahdity of consecration at 
the hands of Celtically ordained ecclesiastics, withdrew to Gaul 
that he might be consecrated by thoroughly orthodox bishops ; 
but he tarried there so long that Oswy refused to wait, and 
Ceadda, familiar to us as St. Chad, was appointed in his place. 
Ceadda now cheerfully yielded to the representations of Theodore 
and retired in favour of Wilfred. 

But Wilfred, a very splendid prelate, a great ecclesiastic, but 
emphatically a lover of power, was soon at odds both with the 
secular court and with the archbishop. Theodore wiifted. 
meant to rule the whole English Chufch, and to organise the 
whole of it ; Wilfred was indisposed to recede from the position 
of practically independent authority. The archbishop, wisely 
enough, saw that the first necessity was to break up the vast 

32 The Early English Kingdoms 

bishoprics into smaller and more manageable sees. With the 
approval of Ecgfrith, now king of Northumbria, he assigned 
three sees to three new bishops at Wilfred's expense. Wilfred 
went to Rome to appeal to the Pope, who ordered his fuU restitu- 
tion ; but when he returned to Northumbria, Ecgfrith threw him 
into prison on the apparently unfounded charge that he had 
obtained the papal decision by bribery. After some months 
he was released but not restored. He withdrew to Mercia, but 
was presently driven out of it again by the influence of Ecgfrith, 
who was brother-in-law of the Mercian king Aethelred. Then 
he went to Wessex, but there the king, Centwine, was the brother- 
in-law of his particular enemy, Ecgfrith's queen Ermenburga. 
Expelled from a third Christian kingdom, Wilfred betook 
himself to Sussex, where the king was indeed a Christian, but the 
people were still heathens. There, by his labours for the con- 
version of the South Saxons, he completed the conversion of 
England, ninety years after the first landing of Augustine. On 
Ecgfrith's death he was allowed to return to Northumbria, though 
with only a partial restoration of his dignities. Even then he 
quarrelled again with Theodore. Banished once more, he 
betook himself to Rome for the second time, but, in spite of a 
papal decree, the Northumbrian king Aldfrid declined entirely 
to set aside the decisions of his predecessors and of the archbishop. 
After Aldfrid's death, however, there was a general reconciliation, 
and Wilfred ended his days in peace. The story is important 
chiefly as foreshadowing very much later struggles between the 
secular State and ecclesiastical authority backed by the Papacy. 
The life of Archbishop Theodore ended in 690. During the 
twenty-one years of his old age, when he was in England, he 
Theodore's successfully carried out his great scheme of breaking 
•work. up the huge dioceses and multiplying bishoprics so 

that each bishop had a tolerably manageable see. Tradition 
makes him also the creator of the English parochial system, but 
the distribution of local clergy would appear rather to have been 
the natural appropriation by the clerical organisation of the 
existing system under which the population was grouped. It 
was not a clerical invention, but merely an inteUigent adaptation 

The Northumbrian and Mercian Sitpremacies 33 

of what was already there to clerical uses. It may be remarked 
of him further that while Wilfred was in a sense the forerunner of 
Becket, Theodore in his way was the forerunner of Lanfranc and 
of Stephen Langton in his attitude towards Rome. While he 
was entirely loyal to the Latin Church, he took his own way 
as metropolitan of England without any undue subserviency 
towards the dictation of the Papacy ; evidently he did not 
discourage the Northumbrian monarchs in their contests with 
Wilfred, since the authority of the State was being exerted 
therein to maintain the policy of which he was himself the 
author, in opposition to an adversary who had appealed against 
him to the Pope. 

The twenty years' reign of Aldfrid, the successor of Ecgfrith in 
Northumbria, was free both from wars of aggression and from 
other serious contests, apart from the king's quarrel 
with Wilfred. It did not, however, suffice to revive of Nortn- 
the old fighting energies of Northumbria. In the 
south towards the end of the century Ceadwalla, a descendant of 
Ceawlin with a Welsh name, recovered for himself the kingship 
of Wessex, which had hitherto rested with the descendants of 
Ceawlin's brother Cutha. Ceadwalla was a great fighter, who 
made fierce war upon both Sussex and Kent. Also he seems to 
have freed Wessex from the domination of Mercia:, and to have 
prepared the way for his successor and distant kinsman Ine to 
bring the West Saxon kingdom into a more highly organised 
condition than it had hitherto known. In his last days he 
resigned his crown, and ended his life in Rome. 

From the beginning of the eighth century we find England 
divided with comparative definiteness into three supremacies : 
Northumbria north of the Humber, Wessex south of THe eighth 
the Thames, and Mercia between ; while some of the <=^'i*"^y- 
districts immediately north of the Thames are debated between 
Mercia and Wessex. The minor kingdoms of Kent, Sussex, and 
generally Essex are subordinate to Wessex, while East Anglia 
is subordinate to Mercia. Each of the three dominions had its 
wars with the Britons, Northumbria with the Picts and Scots 
also ; Mercia is frequently at war with Wessex, but rarely with 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. C 

34 The Early English Kingdoms 

Northumbria. Mercia must be regarded as on the whole the 
dominant kingdom, and decisively so in the last quarter of the 
century under the rule of Offa ; but even Offa, for whatever 
reason, made no effort to impose his sovereignty over Northum- 
bria. It is also to be observed as a distinguishing feature that, 
whatever may have been the case at earlier stages, the debatable 
land between the English kingdoms and the Briton principalities 
comes under EngUsh dominion without any extirpation of the 
Britons, who are called Welsh in Wessex as well as in Wales. 
The Welsh are not even enslaved, but are incorporated, so to 
speak, as citizens in the English kingdoms. 

The Northumbrian expansion was ended at the rout of Nech- 
tansmere, but political decay did not set in till the death of 
North- Aldfrid in 705. The succession to the Northumbrian 

umbria. throne through the century practically seems to 

have followed no rule, except that it always went to some one who 
claimed descent from Ida, and was usually seized by violence. 
Only two of the kings are noteworthy. The first was Ceolwulf, 
a pious but not a strong person. He should have succeeded his 
brother in 718, but was thrust aside by a usurper. In 729 he did 
succeed the usurper, but two years later he was deposed and 
made a reluctant monk at Lindisfarne. Almost immediately 
afterwards he'came out of Lindisfarne to assuqie the crown for 
the second time, and reigned for six years ; at the end of which he 
again retired to Lindisfarne, this time voluntarily, leaving the 
crown to his cousin Eadbert. But in the meanwhile he had 
procured the elevation of York to an archiepiscopal see, which 
was occupied by his cousin Ecgbert, the brother of his successor 
on the throne, Eadbert. Thus during Eadbert's reign the secular 
and the ecclesiastical supremacies of the north were in the hands 
of two brothers. Eadbert ruled for nineteen years. He was a 
vigorous monarch, who successfully repulsed an attack made on 
Northumbria by Aethelbald of Mercia. In alliance with the 
Pictish king Angus he waged successful war upon the Britons of 
Strathclyde, and brought them into subjection ; but in 756 his 
forces were presumably ambushed, and were cut to pieces, some- 
where in Perthshire ; after which he followed Ceolwulf 's example 

The Northjimbrian and Mercian Supremacies 35 

and passed the remaining ten years of his hfe in a monastery, 
leaving his kingdom to fall into total anarchy. 

In the south the power of Wessex continued to increase under 
King Ine, till he abdicated in order to go to Rome in 728. Ine 
completed what Ceadwalla had begun by bringing me of 
Kent, Sussex, and Essex definitely under his over- '^^^s^^- 
lordship ; his campaigns against the Britons in the west really 
established the West Saxon dominion as far as the borders of 
Devonshire, and he successfully repelled in 716 the attack of 
Ceolred, king of Mercia. 

For twenty years after Ine's abdication the power of Wessex 
waned and that of Mercia increased under Aethelbald, who 
succeeded Ceolred in 716. Even in 731, as we know Aetneibaid 
from Bede, he had compelled Wessex and the sub- o^Meroia. 
kings in the south to recognise his supremacy. He was less 
successful when in 740 he attacked Eadbert of Northumbria. 
In 752 Cuthred of Wessex rose against him, put him to rout at 
Burford, and recovered the West Saxon independence. Five 
years later Aethelbald was murdered by his own bodyguard, and 
after a brief interval the throne was captured by Offa, who was 
descended from a brother of Penda. It is curious that only in 
the next year Oswald of Northumbria, Eadbert's successor, was 
also slain by his own bodyguard ; for as a rule the bodyguard, 
comiiatus or king's thegns, were loyal to the death. That loyalty 
is illustrated by the story of the death of Cyne\vulf , who became 
king of Wessex in 755. Cuthred, the victor of Bur- cynewuif of 
ford, died in 754, and was succeeded by Srgebryht. ''^^s^^^- 
Sigebryht's witan deposed him for his iniquities, and elected 
Cynewuif, who after slajdng Sigebryht ruled till 786, waging 
many wars against the Welsh. He was slain by the Aetheling 
Cyneheard, Sigebryht's brother. Cyneheard, with his comitahis, 
surprised the king, who was visiting his mistress at Merton, says 
the chronicler. The king held the doorway against his enemies, 
till in a burst of rage he dashed out among them in order to slay 
Cyneheard. He was cut down, but in the meantime his thegns 
had been roused and joined the fray. Cyneheard offered them 
money and their lives ; they refused, and fell fighting — all but one 

36 The Early English Kingdoms 

man, a Welshman, ' who was already sore wounded.' Cjmeheard 
and his thegns took possession and barricaded the premises, for 
Cjmewulf had brought only a few of his bodyguard, and the rest 
might be expected to arrive next morning. They did arrive, and 
Cyneheard at once offered them lands and money to give him 
the kingdom. ' Your kinsmen,' he said, ' are here with me and 
wiU not forsake me.' They replied that to them no kinsman 
was dearer than their lord, whose murderer they would never 
follow ; but they offered hfe to C}meheard's thegns if they would 
leave him. The answer was defiance ; the fray was joined again, 
and Cyneheard and all his followers were slain — again with a 
single exception, who was spared because he was the godson of 
Osric, the leader of the king's thegns. 

In the meagre chronicle of Wessex at this period we may be 
grateful for the preservation of this picturesque episode, which 
cuaracter of is strikingly illustrative of the social conditions, 
tne times. Obviously every kind of violence was rife, and the 
Christian virtues were at a discount. A few years before, St. 
Boniface, while commending Aethelbald of Mercia for the 
vigour and justice of his government, denounced him for his 
personal vices, and prophesied that the judgment of heaven would 
fall upon the EngUsh people for their iniquities — words of warning 
which were remembered when the Northmen came. But the old 
barbaric virtues were not dead, and where the Saxon felt that his 
honour was engaged he would fight to the last gasp. 

Whatever Cjniewulf's successes may have been against the 
Welsh, Mercia under Offa recovered its overlordship, and 
offa of retained it during the reign of Cjmewulf 's successor 

Mercia. Beorhtric. Beorhtric is interesting chiefly because 

he secured the crown in preference to Ecgbert, who became king 
some years later. Also he married Eadburh, the daughter of 
Offa, and by her he is said to have been poisoned. This lady's 
other misdeeds were such that for some generations Wessex 
refused to give the title of queen to the consorts of the kings. 
Beorhtric seems to have been the wilhng vassal of his father-in- 

In Mercia King Offa reigned from 755 to 797. Aethelbald had 

The Northumbrian and Mercian Supremacies 37 

deprived Wessex of the overlordship of the sub-kingdoms of the 
south, though Cuthred had shaken himself free. Of the earlier 
years of Offa's reign little is known except that he retained or 
renewed his predecessor's dominion over all these kingdoms, 
the overlordship of Wessex being finally secured by the rout of 
Cynewulf at Besington in 777, according to the Chronicle. 
Besides subjugating the south, however, Ofta was campaigning 
against the Welsh as early as 760. In the last twenty years of 
his reign there were three great Welsh campaigns. Twice he 
ravaged South Wales, and after the second attack in 784 he 
appears to have built Offa's Dyke, the great rampart and foss 
running from north to south, which almost corresponds to the 
modern frontier of Wales, though it leaves something more to 
Wales in the south and takes something more from Mercia in the 
north. The dyke can have had little value as a fortification, but 
it laid down a very definite boundary, the crossing of which would 
at once provide a casus belli. The third campaign was in 795. 

Offa, as we have remarked, took no advantage of the eternal 
disorders in Northumbria ; doubtless he felt that he had at 
least nothing to fear from that distracted kingdom. The might 
From the Humber to the Channel, however, his °^'^^^- 
supremacy was complete enough to enable him to treat with the 
mighty king of the Franks, Karl the Great — not yet crowned 
emperor at Rome — as a brother potentate. The great influence 
of the Englishman Alcuin with Charlemagne no doubt facilitated 
courtesies between the Frankish and the English monarchs. It 
is not difficult to discover reasons why Offa should have sought 
and obtained from the Pope the institution of Lichfield as an 
archiepiscopal see. He did not like the Church in his own 
kingdom to be subjected to the see of Canterbury ; it did not 
accord with what we may perhaps call the dignitj? of Mercia. 
The arrangement, however, which was made in 786, came to an 
end sixteen years later. 

With a subservient son-in-law reigning in Wessex, and with Kent, 
Sussex, and Essex under his heel, Offa completed his dominion 
in 792 by killing Aethelbert of East Anglia and annexing his king- 
dom. But the death of Offa in 796, followed after a few months 

38 The Early English Kingdoms 

by that of his son, prepared the way for new dynastic broils and 
the passing of the ascendency to the hne of Wessex. And even 
The Danes. before Offa's death came the first sign of a new danger 
to England. In 787, the year in which Beorhtric of Wessex 
wedded the Mercian king's daughter, ' first came three ships of 
Norsemen from Haerethaland. And the reeve rode thereto, and 
would drive them to the king's vill, for he knew not what they 
were, and they there slew him. Those were the first ships of 
Danish men that sought the land of the Enghsh race.' And 
again in 793 comes the entry in the Chronicle, that on 8th January 
' the havoc of heathen men miserably destroyed God's church at 
Lindisfarne through rapine and slaughter.' It may be remarked 
in passing that the Chronicle gives 794 as the year of Offa's 
death. As he was certainly alive two years later, we must 
conclude that the chronicler's dates at this period have become 
somewhat confused, and may diverge from accuracy at least to 
the extent of a couple of years. The first coming of the Danes, 
and the return of Ecgbert to Wessex probably in 802, open a new 

Politically the picture we have of the eighth century is one of 
perpetual war and turmoil. Among the many princes the only 
really distinguished figure is that of Offa, with the exception of 
Ine of Wessex during the first quarter. Outside the monasteries 
all the signs point to moral disintegration, a falling a\\'ay from 
the standard set by the great Northumbrian kings in the previous 
century, to say nothing of the pious but inefficient rulers of East 
Anglia. The world and the flesh were also abusing ecclesiasticism 
after their own fashion. Under the cloak of piety, pretended 
monasteries and convents were estabhshed and endowed with 
lands for no sacred purpose, as Bede very plainly declared in a 
letter to Ecgfrith, Archbishop of York. The best products of the 
period were, in fact, the fruit of the governance of the great men 
of the seventh century, both kings and prelates. The spirituality 
of men like Aidan and Ceadda, the educational zeal of Theodore 
of Tarsus, even the intellectjual vigour of Wilfred, combined to 
create, though within only a limited sphere, the conditions which 
made it possible for the Englishman Bede to rank among the very 

The English 39 

highest of the intellectual children not only of the eighth century 
but of the whole period which we call the Dark Ages. But this 
subject belongs rather to our next section. 

III. The English 

From the chronicle of events we turn now to the reconstruction 
of the political and social character of the English people, who 
in the four centuries following the Roman evacuation had extir- 
pated or absorbed their Celtic predecessors throughout all but a 
small portion of what we now call England and in a small part of 
what we now call Scotland. 

The conquering races, Jutes, Angles, and Saxons, all belonged 
to the Low German stock, and came from the modern Denmark, 
Schleswig, and Friesland. Of the three we have The race, 
reason to suppose that the Jutes were nearest of kin to the Gothic 
and Scandinavian branches of the whole Teutonic group. None 
of them had been brought into active contact with the Roman 
civilisation ; they had been following their own development 
upon purely Teutonic lines, unmodified by collisions with the 
political and social organisation, which had already reached 
a high pitch of elaboration long before the Teutons came within 
its ken. The elaboration of political systems can only follow 
upon territorial settlement, and the Teutons were still a migrant 
folk when their hordes swept through Gaul and Spain and Italy 
and northwards across the seas to Britain during the fifth 
century. The natural presumption, therefore, would be that the 
remote peoples on the shores of the North Sea stiU. preserved 
characteristics which had been noted as distinguishing the 
German races on the borders of the Roman Empire by Caesar and 
Tacitus, from three to five hundred years before the settlement in 
Britain began. , That presumption is borne out by the available 
evidence, and the conditions described by the Roman writers 
appear to be the natural precursors of the conditions which we 
judge to have prevailed in England in the days of Ine or of 
Alfred the Great. 

The primitive organisation of the Germans was tribal — that 

40 The Early English Kingdoms 

is, it was based on the theory of kinship. The whole of the tnbe 
reckoned themselves as kinsfolk in some degree, while in the 
The Germans smaUer groups the bond was extremely close. A 
of Tacitus. certain prestige attached to famihes of high descent 
{noUles), and where kingship had been adopted the kings were 
taken from these families ; otherwise they had no exceptional 
privileges. Where the Germans were settled down they were 
estabhshed not in towns but in rural communities. Each com- 
munity was a group of farmsteads, called by Tacitus vicus ; the 
group of vici form the larger aggregate, called the pagus. The 
free men (ingenui) of the tribe conducted the tribe's business in a 
general assembly, which also formed the tribe-in-arms ; to it each 
pagus sent a hundred free warriors. This general assembly 
decided questions of importance which concerned the tribe at 
large ; the measures were submitted to it and openly discussed 
by the principes, the head men of the vicus and pagus, who pre- 
sided over the local administration of justice and were captains 
of the local contingents when the tribe went to war. They were 
themselves chosen by the tribal assembly. The princeps had 
also a personal bodyguard [comitatus) , admission to which was 
regarded as a privilege, though it involved some curtailment of 
the personal liberty of its members. Originally there was no 
king, but the tribe on going to war elected a war-lord {dux) or 
commander of the whole host. Where kingship was adopted 
the king's powers were exceedingly limited ; where kingship was 
not adopted the war-lord was chosen on his merits as a leader, 
not on account of noble birth. In each community the arable 
lands were annually allotted among the free men, not held in 
perpetuity, while the surrounding pasture lands were held by 
them in common. The great bulk of the population consisted of 
these free men and their families ; but there were a few slaves, 
prisoners of war or criminals, who had no legal rights, being their 
master's property, but were generally not ill-treated. There 
were also freed men [liberti), no longer slaves, but of inferior 
status to the free men. 

Precisely how closely to this picture the conditions in Friesland 
and Jutland approximated in the fifth century it is not possible 

The English 41 

to say, but at the earlier stages as to which we have evidence 
of the system in England several of these features reappear. 
The English are planted in settlements, tun, ham, .^j^g Engugii 
or wick, corresponding to the vicus, where the arable settlements, 
land is allotted among the occupants, while the pasturage and 
meadows are undivided. There are no large towns of the 
Roman type ; the term village or township as used hereafter 
applies to these small rural communities. Place-names imply 
that many of them were settled by family groups with a common 
patronymic ; they are the ham or tun of the Billings, the Wellings, 
and so on, though this does not amount to a general rule. The 
townships are grouped for administrative purposes in aggregates 
called hundreds, clearly corresponding to the pagus, which had 
once sent its hundred warriors to the army ; and the territorial 
aggregate of hundreds makes up the petty kingdom or the shire, 
while the shire assembly and organisation have taken the place 
of those of the tribe. The landholders gather to transact local 
business and administer justice in the moot of the tun, the 
hundred, or the shire, under the presidency of the head man, the 
hundred ealdor or the ealdorman, who represents the ancient dux. 
Where the term shire is used, it signifies a subdivision of a larger 

In the description of the conquest the captains of the invading 
host are usually described as duces, war-lords, ealdormen, not as 
kings ; but after the host has thoroughly established King and 
its footing they assume kingship, and it is an un- ■^^**°- 
faiUng law that every king, Hengist or Cerdic, Ida, Aelle, or 
Penda, traced his descent through a surprisingly small number of 
generations to Woden, the father of the gods. The succession to 
the kingship follows no law beyond requiring the king to be of the 
blood royal, the royal kin. The king, when he promulgates 
decrees, takes counsel with his wit an or wise men, who appear to 
be a survival of the council of the principes. This council, 
witenagemot, gathering of wise men, chooses the new king ; and 
we observed an instance in the eighth century where the witan 
deposed one king and nominated another. The institution of the 
comitatus, the bodyguard, the king's thegns or gesiths, remains in 

42 The Early English Kingdoms 

full force, and is vividly exemplified in the story of Cynewulf. 
The nohiles are recognisable in the eorls, whose descent secures 
them social privileges but no political authority. 

The picture of primitive institutions drawn by Tacitus showed 
the typical settlement as a village or group of households of free 
Tue men, owing service to no one, occupying ground 

township. which was apparently the property of the com- 
munity forming the township — arable land only being annually 
allotted to the several households. Personal property at this 
stage must have consisted only in the annual produce of the 
allotted lands, in flocks and herds, and in slaves and spoils 
appropriated in war. In England, however, it may be assumed 
that the rule of permanent instead of annual allotment had 
become estabUshed among the conquerors before the conquest. 
Moreover, as soon as explicit references appear, it is evident that 
conditions of service^ attached to the holding of some of the land. 
There are individuals who in some sort are owners of townships. 
Kings liberally bestow not new lands but existing townships on 
monasteries, transferring to the grantee some lordship, some 
rights, possessed by themselves. Lordships and attendant rights 
have come into being certainly by the beginning of the seventh 
century — how much earher we do not know — though there was 
no mention of them in the accounts of the primitive Germans. 
As time goes on there are many details available of the services 
due from geneats to their lords, and from the end of the eleventh 
century onwards there is no doubt at all that a large proportion 
of the occupiers of the soil were in 'a state of serfdom. The 
question, therefore, arises : Did serfdom characterise the English 
conquest from the beginning, or were conditions of service 
Serfs or created out of conditions of unqualified freedom 

free men ? ^y circumstances which only produced actual 
serfdom on a large scale after the Norman Conquest ? Until 
quite recently the latter doctrine held the field unchallenged 
among English scholars ; but this is no longer the case, so that 
the question demands attention. 

Practically we may state it in a different form : Was the 

' See Note in., Lords' Rights. 

The English 43 

township, or vill as the Normans called it, originally a settlement 
of free English ceorls, the ingenui of Tacitus, or was it a settle- 
ment of Britons, preserved to till the soil for the English lords, 
who formed only a small proportion of the whole population, to 
which they stood in the same sort of relation as the Normans 
stood to the conquered English six hundred years later ? 

The system of agriculture followed does not provide us with 
an answer. It would fit in sufficiently well with either theory. 
The village was a collection of farmsteads surrounded The open 
by lands under the plough and girdled by the com- ^*^'*' 
mon waste, all included in the area to which the township laid 
claim. The waste land, pasturage, or common was not allotted 
at all ; the arable land was not allotted in the form of a sub- 
stantial farm for each household but in long strips, usually about 
an acre in area, and about a furlong (i.e. furrow-long) in length, 
separated from each other by narrow, unploughed ridges or balks. 
In each batch of contiguous strips each household had one strip 
if the total holdings of all were equal. Primarily there is good 
reason to believe that the allotment to each household was a hide, 
or a total of a hundred and twenty strips ; but at a later stage we 
find the yard or virgate of thirty strips as the normal holding, 
though there were smaller holdings of fifteen, ten, or five strips, 
and larger holdings, multiples of the virgate or even of the hide. 
The original intention was evidently to ensure that everybody 
should have his fair share of every kind of land good, bad, or 
indifferent. The land was ploughed and sown in common ; the 
occupier did not use his own plough team to plough his own land 
and sow on it what he thought fit. Roughly speaking, there was 
a plough team to every hide, the team consisting of eight oxen ; 
each occupier contributed to the teams according to the size 
of his holding — eight oxen if he held a hide, two if he held a 
virgate ; and the teams ploughed not holding by holding but 
section by section. The system provides us with no answer to 
the question how it came about that a number of the occupiers 
owed service to one superior, a ' lord,' and not only service but 
periodical payments of produce. At present it is enough to say 
that in many townships there was such a lord, and in many the 

44 The Early English Kingdoms 

lord was either the king himself or some person or corporation to 
whom he had conveyed his rights. To this question we shall 
attempt to give a further answer when we have before us the 
evidence of later centuries. At present we can only make a 
negative point. We cannot accept as a solution the theory that 
the bulk of the occupants of the soil were subject Britons. The 
'Extirua- evidence of what we will call provisionally the 
tion'of extirpation of the Britons wherever the English 


carried their settlements, until the latter part of the 
sixth century, is too strong to be overthrown without evidence 
to the contrary very much more conclusive than has yet been 
produced. This direct evidence may now be examined. 

First, there is the testimony of Gildas, Bede, and the Chronicle. 
According to Gildas none of the Britons were left alive where the 
invaders swept over the country with fire and sword ; only a 
few of the fugitives returned to a voluntary slavery. Bede's 
confirmation of Gildas implies that he at least had no reason in 
Enghsh tradition to question the correctness of the British 
monk's record. Nor is it questioned by the Chronicle, which 
expressly states that in the sack of Anderida by Aelle no Britons 
were spared, though we can hardly infer from the form of the 
entry either that this destruction was typical or that it was on 
the contrary exceptional. Such evidence, however, is far from 
decisive. Gildas was hyperbolical, Bede and the Chronicle were 
dependent mainly if not entirely upon tradition. Very much 
more important is the definite fact that the Celtic language 
entirely disappears from the conquered territory, and not only 
LangTiage Celtic but also Latin. In every other Latinised 
and reUgion. country overrun by the Teutons the Latin language 
ultimately conquered the Teutonic. Also in every other country 
the Christianity of the population conquered the paganism of the 
conquerors. There is no sign whatever that the Christianity of 
the Britons touched the English conquerors at all. The one 
possible conclusion is that, if the Britons were not exterminated, 
a mere remnant of them survived. That women and children, 
and males who made voluntary submission, were spared for 
obvious purposes is probable enough ; but this would not 

The English 45 

provide a large population, making up the bulk of the tillers of 
the soil ; and the survival of the Britons among the conquerors in 
large numbers is incompatible with the total disappearance of 
their language and their reUgion. It may be added that such a 
survival would also be incompatible with the possession of the 
political rights, the voice in local administration, retained 
throughout the Saxon period by the class who were in a state 
of unquahfied serfdom in the twelfth century. 

After the conquerors had settled in England they entirely lost 
the character of piratical sea-rovers, which had been attached 
to them since the days of Carausius. Their last THeEugiisii 
appearance upon the seas was when King Ecgfrith •^I'^'^^'^'er. 
of Northumbria raided the north of Ireland the year before he 
met with his disastrous defeat in Scotland at Nechtansmere ; 
but that the English continued to be a fighting folk rejoicing in 
battle is sufficiently proved by their record. Whatever they 
brought with them to England in the way of a literature was a 
literature of battle, a portion whereof survives in the song of 
Beowulf. The form in which this earhest poem survives was given 
to it by Christian editors, but it belongs to pagan days before the 
Angles had come to England. And battle pieces continued to be 
the staple product of English singers. Even the great poem of 
Caedmon (about 680), the monastic servitor who, at the Divine 
bidding, sang of the beginning of created things, was not so much 
a versification of the book of Genesis as the story of the heavenly 
war, which was told again by another Puritan poet a thousand 
years after Caedmon himself. The Christianity which took 
possession of the English was in general either of that grimly 
militant type which was reproduced in Cromwell's Ironsides, or 
else of the pietist order typified in Edward the Confessor. The 
latter was the extreme opposite of paganism, whereas the former 
has in it a considerable element of the spirit of northern paganism, 
its stern fatahsm, its pride, and its endurance. But between the 
two types stood the mass of the people, who remained very much 
the same as before, though they propitiated the saints instead of 
propitiating the gods of Asgard. 

Nevertheless for a time, mainly in Northumbria in the days of 

46 The Early English Kingdoms 

her great kings and her Celtic missionaries, a really vigorous 
Christianity took root ; and it bore fruit for at least a couple of 
generations after the power of the Northumbrian kings began to 
Bede. wane. Bede was born at about the time of Oswy's 

death ; and Bede is perhaps, after Alfred, the most attractive 
figure in the early history of England. In his own day he was the 
most learned man not only in England but in all Europe, and he 
was no less saintly than learned. He was not only the first 
English historian, the first critical compiler of records, he was 
also a scholar of exceptional erudition and a master of such 
science as was available in the eighth century. Some centuries 
were to pass before any born Englishman held so high an in- 
tellectual position in the world ; not until the time of Roger 
Bacon could England again claim to be the mother of the greatest 
intellect of the time. Aidan, Wilfred, and Theodore of Tarsus 
each had his own share in producing that vigour of spiritual and 
intellectual activity whereof Bede was the fine flower ; but the 
material conditions were too adverse, and the high level attained 
in the latter part of the eighth century, before Bede was bom and 
while he was still a young man, was sinking again throughout 
the eighth and ninth centuries until the revival under Alfred. 
The one great name, intellectually, in the second half of the 
eighth century was that of Alcuin, who left his native North- 
umbria to become the intimate counsellor of Charlemagne. 


I. The Rise of Wessex and the Danish Raids, 802-865 

Those heralds of the Danish storm whose coming we have noted 
when Beorhtric was reigning in Wessex were single spies ; the 
battahons did not begin to arrive till a third of the Rise of 
ninth century had passed. In the interval the ^^^^s'^- 
centre of power in England had finally shifted to the southern 
kingdom of Wessex under Ecgbert, who would seem to be the 
first of the English monarchs who, not content with conquest 
followed by the mere recognition of supremacy, set about the 
consolidation of his dominions. Not that the area of consolida- 
tion was very inclusive, but the south was so far unified that it 
held its own against the Danish invaders, and forced them back 
into the area of the disintegrated kingdoms of the north and east, 
which had been unable to offer an effective resistance. 

When the ninth century opened Coenwulf was king of Mercia 
and Beorhtric was still king in Wessex. The Mercian supremacy 
was still unchallenged. Ecgbert, an ' Aethehng ' of Ecgbert, 
the line of Ceawhn, whose father had reigned as an ^o^-sss. 
apparently popular sub-king in Kent, had failed to make good 
his claim to the Wessex succession when Cynewulf died, and had 
then retreated for safety to the court of Charlemagne. There 
in the momentous years which transformed the king of the 
Franks into the emperor of the West he may have studied the 
business of kingship to his own ultimate profit. When Beorhtric 
died in 802 he sped back to England, and was duly chosen king 
of Wessex. On the same day an invading force under the 
Mercian ealdorman of the Hwiccas (the folk of Gloucester and 
Warwick) was put to rout by the West Saxon ealdorman of 
Wiltshire. The Mercian may have intended to prevent the 


48 From Ecgbert to Harold 

election of Ecgbert ; but since Coenwulf made no attempt to 
avenge him or to interfere with the new king, it may be presumed 
that he had been playing for his own hand. Ecgbert the patient 
had no disposition to quarrel with his overlord. The only record 
of his activity before the death of Coenwulf is concerned with a 
war upon the West Welsh — that is, Damnonia — in which he 
apparently established his sovereignty over the Welsh chiefs in 

But when Coenwulf died in 821 his brother and successor 
Ceolwulf lost grip. In 823 Beomwulf, one of Coenwulf's ealdor- 
men, succeeded in deposing Ceolwulf and securing a precarious 
sovereignty in Mercia. Sub-kings were already in rebellion, the 
dependent Welsh certainly, and the East Anglians probably. 
In 825 Ecgbert was again campaigning in Damnonia when 
Beornwulf led an army into Wessex. Perhaps he was already 
afraid that Ecgbert was becoming too strong, but he was too late. 
Ecgbert turned on him and smote him at the decisive battle of 
Ellandune. Striking while the iron was hot, the king of Wessex 
Overthrow at once dispatched an expedition to Kent, which 
of Mercia. ^^^ ruled by a Mercian nominee, Baldred. Baldred 
fled. Kent, Sussex, and Essex all hailed the Wessex men as 
dehverers from the extremely unpopular domination of Mercia. 
Sussex was absorbed into Wessex, Ecgbert made his son Aethel- 
wulf sub-king of Kent, and when the reigning king of Essex, of 
the ancestral house, died, no new king took his place. East 
Anglia made haste to ally itself with Ecgbert and to acknowledge 
his sovereignty. Beomwulf, seeing one after another of the 
sub-kingdoms flinging off the Mercian yoke and attaching itself 
to Ecgbert, turned upon East Anglia, but was killed in battle. 
Another ealdorman, Ludican, snatched the Mercian crown, but 
within two years he met with the same fate as Beornwulf in a 
battle which was evidently a disastrous slaughter of the Mercians. 
It is not surprising that in 829 the last independent Mercian king 
of Mercia was expelled, and Ecgbert was acknowledged overlord 
of the whole land south of the Humber. The West Saxons 
revived for him the title of Bretwalda, supreme lord, which had 
been borne in succession by Aethelbert of Kent, Redwald of 

The Rise of Wessex and the Danish Raids 49 

East Anglia, and Eadwin, Oswald, and Oswy of Northumbria — 
a title which had been in abeyance for more than a hundred and 
fifty years. In the same year the right to the title Eogbert's 
was completed when Ealdred, king of Northumbria, supremacy, 
tendered his allegiance. No such ascendency had been exercised 
by any of the previous Bretwaldas ; for Redwald had displaced 
Aethelbert before the end of the Kentish king's life, Penda had 
slain two of the Northumbrians, and the supremacy of the third 
in Mercia even after Penda's death had at the best been nominal; 
whereas none of the sub-kingdoms attempted to question the 
sovereignty of Ecgbert or his son's ascendency. It was not an 
English power that was to challenge the supremacy of the house 
of Cerdic. Ecgberf restored in Mercia as his own vassal the king 
whom he had expelled in 829 ; his eldest son Aethelwulf reigned 
over Kent and probably Essex, and another son, Aethelstan, in 
East Anglia. Northumbria, whose annals had for some time 
past been either a mere record of bloodshed or a blank, was 
soon little more than a field to be ravaged by the spoilers from 
Denmark and Norway. 

Before the close of Ecgbert's long reign the Northmen had 
embarked upon their course of devastation in England in grim 
earnest. Between the sack of Lindisfarne, about the time of 
Offa's death, and 834, when they reappeared in the isle of Sheppey, 
the ravaging attentions of the rovers were confined The Danes 
for the most part to Friesland and to Ireland and the ^'^^ Eogbert. 
isles, probably because these so-called Danes came not from 
Denmark but from Norway. But in 834 the Danes themselves 
again became active, fell in force upon the districts about the 
mouth of the Rhine, and detached a band which ravaged Sussex. 
For thirty years to come their main energies were directed to the 
coasts and estuaries of the Prankish dominion ; their expeditions 
to England were casual raiding excursions. Their second raid 
was in 836, when a squadron of the rovers made their way down 
the Channel and landed at Charmouth. Ecgbert, who happened 
to be in those parts, promptly led the local levies against them. 
The English attack was repulsed, for the Danes held the ' place 
of slaughter ' ; yet they must have been dissatisfied by their recep- 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. D 

50 From Ecgbert to Harold 

tion, for they re-embarked without delay. But two years later 
they made a league with the Welsh of Cornwall. Possibly this 
band of ' Danes ' had come over from Ireland, not from Denmark 
itself ; but at any rate on this occasion they met with a crushing 
defeat at Kingston Down. They fled to their ships ; the 
Cornishmen submitted, nor did they ever again renew the 
dubious alliance with the pagans. In the next year, 839, Ecgbert 
died. Aethelwulf succeeded him, handing over his sub-kingdom 
of Kent and the neighbouring counties to his brother Aethelstan, 
who left East Anglia. There an Aethelweard succeeded Aethel- 
stan. Perhaps this was a reinstatement of the old royal house, 
since the last of all the kings of East Angha, St. Eadmund, was 
probably of that stock ; but the name rather suggests a member 
of the house of Wessex. 

Aethelwulf was a meritorious prince of distinguished virtue and 
piety but not of outstanding capacity. His two chief counsellors 
Aethelwulf, were bishops ; one was the virtuous St. Swithun, 
839-858. whom posterity remembers chiefly on account of 

the meteorological associations of his name. The other was 
Eahlstan, bishop of Sherborne, who was of the militant type, the 
first soldier bishop in our annals. This was perhaps as well for 
the country, though it was not altogether well for the king 
himself ; for a time came when the bishop incited rebellion 
against the monarch, who neglected his obvious responsibilities. 
Eahlstan, however, gave a vigour to the administration which 
might otherwise have been lacking. 

No sooner was Ecgbert dead than the energy of the Danish 
raids increased. In 840 a large force defeated the Hampshire 
Tne raids levies, and then attacked Portland, where the 
increase. ealdorman of Dorset, after very nearly winning a 

victory, was himself slain, while the Danes held the battlefield. 
Next year they left Wessex alone, but harried Lindsey and 
ravaged the coast of East Anglia, In 842 they attacked London 
and Rochester ; in 843 their experience at Charmouth was 
repeated. Aethelwulf attacked them and was beaten off, but 
they retired immediately. All this time they were treating 
Picardy and what afterwards became Normandy in very much 

The Rise of Wessex and the Danish Raids 51 

the same fashion. Hitherto their activities had ceased and they 
had returned home when winter came ; but in the year of the 
second battle of Charmouth they wintered at the mouth of the 
Loire, and next year they were raiding the whole Atlantic coast 
of the Spanish peninsula, while another contingent killed the 
king of the hour in Northumbria, Redwulf. In 846 they tried 
Somerset again, but were badly beaten by Bishop Eahlstan. In 
851 the Danes appear to have come in greater force than ever 
before. The Chronicle states that they were defeated by the 
Devonshire levies ; then Aethelstan, king of Kent, presumably 
Aethelwulf's brother, ' brought fourteen ships and slew a great 
force at Sandwich in Kent, and took nine ships and put the others 
to flight. And the heathen men for the first time took up their 
quarters over winter in Thanet. And in the same year came 
three hundred and fifty ships to the mouth of the Thames, and 
landed and took Canterbury and London by storm, and put to 
flight Beorhtwulf, king of the Mercians, with his army, and then 
went south over the Thames into Surrey, and there King Aethel- 
wulf and his son Aethelbald, with the army of the Battle of 
West Saxons, fought against them at Aclea, and ■*-°^®^' *®^- 
there made the greatest slaughter among the heathen army that 
we have heard tell of until this present day, and there gained the 
victory.' Aclea is usually but improbably identified with 
Ockley. It was reputed so great a victory that it is difficult to 
understand the next statement, that the Danes remained to 
winter in Thanet. As the same Chronicle records that in 855 
they wintered ' for the first time ' in Sheppey, there is a good deal 
of reason to suppose that the entry in 851 is an error ; but the 
statement is repeated by Asser, a bishop of King Alfred, though 
with a slight variation, and by other chroniclers. The king of 
Mercia appears on the scene, because London was at this time in 
Mercian territory, and he marched to its relief. The sub-kings, it 
may be remarked, were left to do their own fighting, in accordance 
with the general principle that in most of the battles the Saxon 
force is the levy of the shire in which the fight takes place. Appar- 
ently it was the alarming successes of the Danes at London and 
Canterbury which brought the Wessex levies up in force to Aclea. 

52 From Ecgbert to Harold 

If the Danes did winter in Thanet, it cannot have been with 
the intention of renewing the attack, as there is no mention of 
them in 852. In 853 they landed again in Thanet, and apparently 
won a hard-fought pitched battle, but with the same results as at 
Charmouth. In 855, however, they wintered in Sheppey, and in 
that year we find that some ' Danish ' force, Norsemen probably, 
invading from the west coast, was in Shropshire. Nevertheless, 
some years elapse after this before there is any further mention 
of the Danes. 

Aethelwulf himself did not take the field against the Northmen 

after the victory of Aclea. In 853 he answered the appeal of 

. ^^ , ,, his Mercian vassal, \\hom he helped in an effective 
Aetlielwulf '^ 

goes to campaign against the North Welsh, who were trying 

to make their own profit out of the harrying of the 
English by the Danes. In 855 pious considerations were upper- 
most in the king's mind. He made a great donation to the 
Church of one-tenth of his personal estates, an act which has been 
misread as the institution of tithe. This was preliminary to a 
pilgrimage to Rome, on which he carried his youngest son Alfred, 
a boy of six, who had already been sent there two years before. 
He made handsome presents to Rome, and was absent from his 
own dominions at this distinctly critical period for some eighteen 
months. There is no evidence for the theory that the real 
purpose of his pilgrimage was the formation of a league among 
Christian kings against the pagan Danes. On his return, bringing 
with him a second and extremely youthful bride, Judith, daughter 
of Charles the Bald, king of the West Franks, his son Aethelbald, 
who had presumably been acting as regent, apparently took up 
arms to demand his abdication, having therein the support of the 
bishop of Sherborne and the ealdorman of Somerset. Civil war, 
however, was averted by a compromise. Aethelbald was made 
sub-king of Wessex, while Aethelwulf contented himself with the 
general sovereignty, and the specific kingdom of Kent, Sussex, 
and Wessex. 

Aethelbald succeeded to the kingdom on Aethelwulf 's death in 
858. He shocked Christendom by marrying his father's juvenile 
widow ; but after two years he died. Judith, it may be 

The Rise of Wessex and the Danish Raids 53 

mentioned in parenthesis, went back to France, and was secluded 
in a nunnery by her father, but ran away with Baldwin the 
Forester, who became count of Flanders, and whose Aetiieibaid 
blood runs in the veins of a good many of the royal *^8. 
families of Europe, including our own, since Matilda, the wife of 
William the Conqueror, was his descendant. Aethelbald"- was 
followed by his three younger brothers in succession : Aethelbert 
(860), Aethelred (866), and Alfred (871). The fame of the last 
overshadowed that of the others ; but Aethelbald was the only 
one of the brothers who was unworthy of their grandfather. 

With Aethelbert's accession, the fighting with the Danes 
began again. A sudden and unexpected onslaught was made by 
a great fleet at Southampton. The raiders pene- Aethelbert 
trated to Winchester, but were then badly beaten by 86O. 
the united levies of Hampshire and Berkshire. But in 865 they 
were back in Kent, and TOntered in Thanet once more. They 
never again completely evacuated England. The year 866, in 
the spring of which Aethelbert died, is the year in which they 
began the regular conquest of what afterwards became the 

Sixty-nine years had passed since the three first ships of the 
vikings had made their appearance on the coast of Wessex. 
It may have been pressure from the west and south 
which at the end of the eighth century drove the invasion, 
Scandinavian branch of the Teutons, who were in 
occupation of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, to take to their 
ships and begin their career as pirates and sea-rovers, in the same 
fashion as the Saxons five hundred years earlier. All alike were 
known generically as vikings, Northmen, or Danes. The term 
viking may have meant, as has generally been believed, ' men 
of the creeks ' ; more probably it meant ' warriors.' The Danes 
of Denmark ought to be but were not distinguished from the 
Norsemen of Norway ; roughly speaking, Norsemen were respon- 
sible for incursions in Scotland, the Western Isles, and Ireland, 
while the Danish hosts scoured the Channel. But Norsemen and 
Danes alike were bands of free companies, following the banner 

^ See Genealogies, i. , House of Wessex. 

54 From Ecgbert to Harold 

of some notable warrior, who might be called king or jarl. 
The great fleets which they began to send out early in the ninth 
century were not the navies of a kingdom but the fleets of 
confederates, who acted independently when they thought fit. 
But they very soon took to acting systematically in concert ; 
and it was at about the date which we have now reached that they 
began to pass from the stage of being raiders in search of spoil 
to the stage of being immigrants in search of territories upon 
which to settle. In the course of the next half century they 
established themselves permanently in the English region called 
the Danelagh and in the French territory called Normandy. 
Their establishment in the Danelagh, their ascendency in the 
north and east, not their expulsion from England, is one of the 
prominent features of the reign of Alfred the Great, and that is 
the story which has now to be told. 

II. Alfred and the Battle for England, 865-900 

The real struggle, then, for a Danish dominion in England begins 
in the year of the accession of King Aethelred i. in Wessex. In 
The state of England at this stage there is a consoHdated kingdom 
England, 866. ^f ^gssex covering the whole country on the south 
of the Thames and Severn mouth and including Essex. Through- 
out this region there are no longer any sub-kings ; Aethelred's 
brother Alfred has not a separate kingdom, though we almost 
immediately find him associated with the king, and having the 
unprecedented title of secondarius. The divisions of Wessex are 
now all shires, each having its ealdorman. Outside of Wessex 
proper East Anglia has a king of its own, Eadmund, whose origin 
is uncertain, but who was probably of the blood of the old reign- 
ing house. Eadmund and the king of Mercia are both vassals 
of Wessex. In Northumbria there is chaos ; the whole of 
Strathclyde from the Clyde to the Mersey is Celtic and no longer 
owns the AngUan overlordship. The shire system does not seem 
to have been adopted as yet outside of Wessex. In Wessex the 
army unit is the fyrd or levy of the shire, led by its ealdorman ; 
hitherto it has been extremely unusual for the fyrds of more than 

Alfred and the Battle for England 55 

two shires to take the field in conjunction. There is no direct 
information as to the manner of levjring an army outside of 
Wessex. But everjrwhere among the English there are three 
outstanding facts : they do their campaigning on foot ; they 
know nothing of entrenched camps, still less of fortified cities ; 
and only in the case of the fight at Sandwich is any expression 
used which can be interpreted as implying that they ever fought 
on the water. The army, it may be added, is in no sense a 
professional army, unless that term can be applied to the king's 
gesiflis, the comitatus. 

The Danish invader, on the other hand, is a professional 
soldier ; a farmer perhaps when he is at home, but spending 
more of his time on forays. The Danes have studied The 
the art of war, and though they still fight on foot, "'^^•i^'^s. 
they move on horseback ; their first business when they come 
ashore is to ' horse themselves.' Wherever the host, the Here, 
goes, it constructs entrenched and palisaded positions, to which it 
falls back if beaten in the open field. And by sea they move 
unimpeded in the longships, oar-driven galleys. Their principal 
leaders are called kings, aud of a somewhat lower status are the 
jarls ; but the king's kingdom is not territorial, he is merely 
king over the host which follows his banner. 

In 865, then, the Danes wintered in England, in Kent. In 866 
came a fresh host to East Anglia under the kings Ubba and 
Ingvar, the sons of a famous viking named Ragnar, perhaps the 
Ragnar Lodbrog who was the centre of many legends. This year 
they made terms with Eadmund, but remained The invasion, 
quartered in East Anglia for the winter ; and in 867 ^^^-^''°- 
they turned upon Northumbria, because, according to the fable, 
AeUe, the usurping king of Northumbria, had got Ragnar Lod- 
brog into his hands and slew him by casting him into a pit among 
serpents. No such explanation is required. Northumbria was 
torn with dissensions between legitimate rulers and usurpers, 
and offered a tempting prey. The Danes seized York, where they 
were attacked by a temporary coahtion of the rival English 
kings. There was a great slaughter, but the Danes were victori- 
ous. No more Anglian kings held sway in Deira. 

56 From Ecgbert to Harold 

Next year the Danes marched into Mercia. The king Berhred 
appealed to his Wessex overlord, and Aethelred came with 
Alfred to his help. Finding the combined English forces too 
strong for them, the Danes fortified themselves at Nottingham. 
The English were no better skilled in attacking than in preparing 
entrenchments ; they could not dislodge the Danes, while the 
Danes were not strong enough to take the offensive. So terms 
were arranged. The invaders would stay quietly where they 
were until the spring, and would then retire, with an indemnity. 
They did so, and spent the next year in Northumbria. But in 
870 they broke out again, burst through the fen country, ravaged 
the great monasteries, and poured into East Anglia. Eadmund 
tried to fight them, but his army was routed and he himself was 
slain. There is no reason to doubt the story that Eadmund 
himself was killed not in the battle but afterwards ; that he was, 
in fact, martyred for refusing to deny his faith, though as a 
general rule the Danes were no more inclined to religious persecu- 
tion than the Saxons had been. Essex also seems to have been 

Next year, 871, began the duel with Wessex. This was the 
' year of battles.' Hitherto the only collision with the Wessex 
The year of king had been at Nottingham ; Wessex had left the 
battles, 871. gg^g^ ^^^ ^jjg north to their fate, now she was to fight 
for her own existence. Under two new ' kings,' Halfdane, the 
younger brother of Ingvar and Ubba, and Bagsceg, together with 
five jarls, the Danish host swept down through the Home Counties, 
crossed the Thames, and entrenched a position at Reading, to be 
the base of its operations. Before they had been there a week 
the Wessex force had gathered under Aethelred and Alfred, there 
was a pitched battle, the Danes were driven into their camp, the 
English failed in a desperate attempt to storm it, and the Danes 
sallied out again and drove them off. The invaders were soon 
marching westward in force, and were again challenged to a 
pitched battle by Aethelred and Alfred at Ashdown, an uncertain 
locahty. The Danes held the higher ground. Alfred anticipated 
their attack, since his royal brother, who was at Mass, would not 
move till the rite was concluded. The attack was completely 

Alfred and the Battle for Efigland 57 

successful ; the Danes were routed and fled to their camp at 
Reading, and Bagsceg and five of the jarls were slain. The rout 
appears to have been complete ; but if this was the fact, it is 
remarkable that Halfdane was in the field again a fortnight later 
and defeated the English king at Basing. Two months later there 
was another fierce battle at ' Meratun,' when after a tremendous 
slaughter the Danes remained in possession of the battlefield. 
After this, says the Chronicle, and also Bishop Asser, the Danes 
received a great reinforcement. Asser perhaps followed the 
dates in the Chronicle, and it has been suggested that the words, 
' After this fight there came a great summer force to Reading,' 
ought to have followed immediately after the account of Ashdown. 
If so, it would account for the indecisive results of a victory 
apparently so overwhelming as Ashdown seemed to be. A few 
days after the battle of Meratun, Aethelred died, Alfred king 
and Alfred, whose prowess and capacity were already *''i- 
fully proved, young though he was, succeeded to the full kingship. 
Whenever it may have been that the ' summer army ' rein- 
forced Halfdane at Reading, a month after Aethelred's death he 
was fighting and beating Alfred at Wilton in Wiltshire. But 
these desperate battles, while thej^ were draining Wessex of its 
farming population, were also having a ruinous 

j(i6Spib€ I or 

effect on the invading army and producing no Wessex, 

871 -87G 

tangible advantages. After Wilton the Danes 
agreed to accept a substantial subsidy and to retire from Wessex. 
Till 875 they turned their attentions elsewhere. Alfred had 
as much as he could do in reorganising Wessex itself, and 
among other things in making the beginnings of a navy. In 
874 the Danes ejected King Berhred from Mercia, and set up the 
' foolish thegn ' Ceolwulf in his room as a vassal of their own. 
In 875 Halfdane with part of his force returned to Northumbria, 
and he from this time was engaged in establishing the Danish 
dominion over the north. From Humber to Tyne the land 
became a Danish province, in which it would appear that the 
Danes held the lands distributed among them in free tenure, 
wth the English in some sort subject to them, but without 
deprivation of their ordinary political rights. The Danish and 

58 From Ecgbert to Harold 

Saxon institutions were closely akin, and though there were 
changes in nomenclature the system in Danish Deira was not 
markedly different from that which prevailed in the English 

Meanwhile the bulk of the Danish host was passing the time 
in Mercia and East Anglia under three other kings, notably 
Guthrum. In 875 it concentrated about Cambridge, and lay 
there for one year, says the Chronicle. In that summer there is 
the significant note that King Alfred went out to sea with a naval 
force, fought against the crews of seven ships, took one of them, 
and put to flight the others. The raiders from overseas were at 
work again, but so far the Danes in England had kept faith. 

In 876, however, Guthrum and his comrades evidently con- 
sidered that Alfred had got full value for the ransom he had paid 
Campaign of in 871. They made a league with their Norwegian 
876-877. Qj. Danish kinsfolk, the rovers who were harrying or 

settling in Ireland, and swooped suddenly on Wessex, marching 
across the country and establishing a fortified camp at Wareham 
on the Dorsetshire coast, where they could co-operate with the 
fleets of their allies. At Wareham the old experience of Not- 
tingham was repeated. Alfred shut the Danes up in their camp, 
but could not storm it. At last the Danes promised to retire on 
the old terms ; but instead of doing so, as many of them as were 
' horsed ' slipped out one night, broke through the EngUsh lines, 
and made a dash for Exeter, where they fortified themselves. 
There Alfred besieged them, leaving a containing force before 
Wareham. The Danes held the sea ; and after the new year they 
went on shipboard from Wareham with the intention of relieving 
Exeter; but fortunately for Alfred a storm shattered the fleet. 
The force in Exeter capitulated, the conditions demanded of 
them being their withdrawal from Wessex. They retired into 
Mercia, where Guthrum remained in the south-west, while the 
bulk of them spread over the north-eastern half and occupied 
the territory, establishing not a kingdom but a number of military 

Guthrum, however, again leagued himself with the sea-rovers, 
among whom Ubba reappears ; and in midwinter (January 878) 

Alfred and the Battle for England 59 

he broke into Wessex, and again fortified himself at Chippenham, 

while Ubba landed in Devonshire and ravaged the west. The 

surprise was so effective that Alfred was unable to „,. ^ . . 
■^ Tie decisive 

collect his forces, though he himself managed to strug-gie, 


escape into the isle of Athelney, when tradition says 
that the episode of the burnt cakes occurred. But the collapse 
was brief. Before Easter the Devonshire ealdorman Odda 
routed and slew Ubba. Six weeks later the king was able to 
emerge from Athelney, join the levies of all Western Wessex, and 
inflict a decisive defeat on the Danes at Ethandun, driving them 
back with great slaughter into their camp at Chippenham. The 
Danes knew that they were beaten at last. Guthrum agreed to 
retire from Wessex once more ; but instead of re- Treaty of 
ceiving a subsidy the Danes gave hostages, and ^^'J'"°'^®- 
Guthrum with several of the other leaders received baptism. 
This time the Dane intended to justify the generous confidence 
which Alfred placed in his good faith ; he went back to the east 
and organised the second Danish kingdom, in East Anglia and 
Essex. When a host came from Denmark next year he did not 
join with them in an attack on Wessex, as might have been 
expected, but induced them to retire. Guthrum's newly adopted 
Christianity was thoroughly genuine. 

Nevertheless, the arrival of another force from Denmark in 884 
at Thames mouth was too much for some of Guthrum's Danes. 
A contingent of them joined the new invaders. Alfred, however, 
was now strong enough not only to drive out the new-comers 
but to call the Danes of East Anglia to account. Guthrum 
very soon came to terms, and the former treaty of Chippen- 
ham or Wedmore was confirmed and amplified by ' Guthrum's 
fryth.' A definite line was drawn between what Guthrum's 
was now to be known as the Danelagh and Wessex. ^'^'3'^^' ^**' 
The line followed the river Lea to its source, then struck across 
to Bedford, and from Bedford to Chester by the great Roman 
road called Watling Street. All that was south and west of this 
line belonged to Wessex, all that was north and east of it was 
under the Danish supremacy. English and Danes were to receive 
equal treatment in both regions, but each party was to keep 

6o From Ecgbert to Harold 

strictly on its own side of the line of demarcation. It should be 
remarked, however, that Guthrum's kingship extended over Httle 
more than East Angha and Essex. Danish Mercia behind 
Watling Street was in the hands of a number of jarls, who were 
independent of his rule, as also was Northumbria. 

Even now the struggle was not ended. During these years 
the Danes from overseas had been mainly occupied with on- 
THe last slaughts on the Continent ; but in 891 they met with 

struggle. ^ disastrous check at the hands of Arnulf , king of the 

East Franks. Therefore in 892 they again turned their attention 
to England. The host, driven off from Flanders, flung itself 
upon Kent and entrenched itself at Appledore, while another 
body led by the viking Hasting entered the Thames. Next year 
the larger of these forces, penetrating westwards, was defeated 
by Alfred's son Edward and driven over the Wessex border into 
Essex. Hasting took example by Guthrum (who was now 
dead), and made peace, accepting baptism, but immediately 
afterwards he set about raiding English Mercia ; and though 
Alfred stormed his headquarters and he himself disappears from 
the story, the Danes of the Danelagh broke from their compact, 
and there was prolonged campaigning. By 896 the Danish 
attack had been finally broken up. Alfred had at last taught 
the English to employ the methods which had given the Danes 
their earlier successes — the use of entrenched positions, and what 
was of no less importance, the construction and management 
of fleets which could meet and beat the Danes on their own 
element. The last four years of the great king's life were years 
of peace. 

But for the personality of King Alfred, the Danes, as we can 
hardly doubt, would have made themselves masters of Wessex 
Alfred as as well as of the Danelagh. The country would 
'^^^'^- have been broken up into petty kingdoms and 

jarldoms, which might ultimately have become consoUdated in 
the same sort of fashion as the Scandinavian kingdom. England 
would have been assimilated to the Scandinavian group, and 
the whole course of her history would have been changed. 
Because he prevented this from happening and preserved the 

Alfred and the Battle for England 6i 

English character of the country, Alfred stands out pre-eminently 
as the maker of England. But besides being a great captain he 
was a great administrator and organiser ; and in Alfred these 
great powers were combined in a quite exceptional degree with 
a moral enthusiasm and a moral sanity which are not always 
found in the same person. Alfred was a great law-giver, not 
because he made new laws, but because he systematised and 
codified the diverse customs and laws prevailing in different parts 
of his kingdom so as to provide a common standard, whereby the 
' Dooms ' of Alfred became the groundwork of all subsequent 
legislation. His genius for military organisation not only 
enabled him to roll back the advancing tide of Danes, but made 
it possible for his son and grandson to establish a real supremacy 
from the Channel to the Forth. We have already noted the two 
main features, the building up of a naval power and the establish- 
ment of hurhs or fortified garrison towns, which were not only a 
permanent check to insurrection, but greatly facilitated the rapid 
concentration of military forces — a matter of great difficulty when 
there was nothing to depend upon except the hasty gathering of 
the fyrd of each shire. A third point is the arrangement which 
he is said to have introduced, by which the fyrd was summoned 
in divisions, so that, when it was brought together, the country 
was not depleted of men to carry on ordinary farming operations, 
and thus the militia could remain under arms withoiit too strong 
a temptation to disbandment. 

But it is perhaps the special glory of Alfred that he realised 
the necessity for education, and exerted himself to the utmost 
to organise the training of the young in accordance Alfred the 
with the best examples and under the direction of «'i"<=*'^<"^- 
the best teachers. The tradition of his precocity in reading is 
indeed a curious misrendering of the recorded facts. The 
deficiencies of his own education taught him only the more 
emphatically the importance of educating the new generation. 
He was twelve years old before he could read ; the great feat of 
his childhood was not reading the book which his mother had 
shown him, but repeating to her the story it contained, which 
was read to liim by the chaplain. Though in later life he trans- 

62 From Ecgbert to Harold 

lated and wrote much, he never appears to have read manuscript 
with ease, and avowedly his translations were made with the help 
of the learned ecclesiastics whom he had called in from Saxony 
and from Flanders as well as from other parts of England. 
Morals, history, and geography supplied subjects fit to be im- 
parted to the youth of England. The miscellaneous History of 
Orosius and Bede's own Ecclesiastical History were translated by 
the king, as weU as the Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius ; 
but he had no scruples about varying from his originals when he 
thought lit to do so. For future generations, however, the most 
important literary work for the production of which he was 
responsible was the original compilation of the Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle, a work of which the character has already been 

Of Alfred's laws we shall speak elsewhere. Enough has been 
said to show that, in the midst of a life largely taken up with 
Alfred strenuous fighting and serious diplomacy, Alfred 

tiie man. found time to do an amount of public work, which 

would have been remarkable even had his whole reign been un- 
disturbed by warfare. And this was accomplished although his 
campaigning days began before he was twenty, and in spite of 
some painful disease the nature of which has never been eluci- 
dated. The practical nature of the man is marked by the extra- 
ordinary success with which in the midst of his immense public 
burdens he brought up his children to be his entirely worthy 
successors ; it is rare indeed for a father such as Alfred to be 
followed by a son such as Edward the Elder, to say nothing of 
a daughter such as Aethelfiaed of Mercia. And it is rarer still to 
find a man who appears never to have made an enemy in his life, 
for whom all men had unstinted praise in his own day, and yet 
in whom after ages have been unable to discover a single blemish 
of character, a single error of judgment, a single failure to do the 
best thing which could be done at the time. To Alfred alone of 
all English monarchs the English people has given deservedly 
the title of honour usually reserved for conquerors, naming him 
Alfred the Great. 

The Strong Kings of England 63 

III. The Strong Kings of England, goo-978 

Alfred's son Edward, who succeeded his father probably at 

the end of the year 900, inherited Alfred's talents as a soldier. 

He had been through the whole series of the last „^ ^ ^^ 
° Edward the 

campaigns against the Danes, in which he had very Eider, 900- 


soon distinguished himself. No less valiant and 
capable was his sister Aethelflaed, whom Alfred had married to 
his Mercian ealdorman Aethelred. Edward's succession was 
disputed by his cousin Aethelwald, the son of Aethelred i. ; 
but there was nothing to prevent the witan from preferring the 
proved valour of the great king's son to his cousin's seniority in 
royal birth, as constituting a claim to the throne. Primogeniture 
was not recognised as a guiding principle ; seniority was only one 
among the more important factors. The pretender beat a retreat 
into Northumbria ; the Danes throughout the Danelagh naturally 
judged that it would suit them to give him their support, and in 
three years' time Danes and East Anglians marched into Mercia 
under King Aethelwald. They retreated when Edward and his 
levies marched against them, but were brought to a pitched 
battle, in which they seem to have got rather the better in the 
fighting, but to no purpose, since Aethelwald himself was killed. 
The affair, however, had demonstrated that the Danelagh was 
a menace to Wessex. The old pact could only work if the Danes 
on one side of the border and the Saxons on the other The 
followed a policy of consistent non-interference with Danelagh, 
each other. Alfred had recognised the logic of facts. The Danes 
had conquered Northumbria and East Anglia, kingdoms only 
vaguely subordinate or dependent upon Wessex, without any 
attempt on the part of their nominal overlord to defend them. It 
would, in fact, have been futile for the southern kingdom to set 
about the reconquest of the north and east, where even among the 
Angles there would have been no great enthusiasm for the cause 
of Wessex. The king had achieved enough in consolidating a 
single kingdom considerably larger than had ever before been 
ruled over by a single monarch. Everything within the line 
from Chester to London was England. But King Edward's 

64 From Ecgbert to Harold 

England was fit to fight for the unification of a larger England ; 
and it was bound to do so unless it was content to see its own 
unity perpetually threatened bj' the men of the Danelagh, who 
were at best only one generation removed from being vikings 

From 910 to 924 Edward was either fighting or estabUshing 
fortresses in lands which he or his sister Aethelflaed had brought 
under his dominion. Almost all Mercia had been won by 918, 
the year of Aethelflaed's death. Next year the princes and 
people of North Wales tendered submission ; by 921, if not earlier, 
what remained of Danish Mercia, with East Anglia 
sionoftiie and Essex, acknowledged King Edward; and then 
in 924 the Scots, the Strathclyde Welsh, and all the 
Northumbrians, ' Danes, Norsemen, or EngHsh,' in the words of 
the Chronicle, ' chose him as father and lord,' whatever that some- 
what enigmatical phrase may mean. It is to be remarked that 
in this passage the Chronicle for the first time speaks of ' English- 
men, Danes, and Norsemen,' evidently distinguishing between 
Norwegians and Danes proper. It is probable that north of the 
Tyne at least the not very large number of Scandinavian settlers 
on the east coast were Norwegians, not Danes ; and it is quite 
certain that the element which sometimes conquered and some- 
times amalgamated with the western and northern Celtic popula- 
tions was almost invariably Norse, not Danish. 

The conquests of Edward and Aethelflaed denote their mastery 
of those principles of the art of war which Alfred had learnt 
originally from the Danes and had developed by his own genius. 
Aethelflaed, the ' lady of Mercia,' after the death of her husband 
the ealdorman in 911, conducted her martial operations with a 
vigour and a success which no man could have bettered. She 
was not called queen, but for all practical purposes Edward 
evidently treated her as a viceroy with a perfectly free hand, 
though after her death Mercia was reorganised on the same lines 
as the rest of the kingdom of Wessex. In 910 and 911 Edward 
was campaigning in Northern Mercia and Northumbria. After 
that the annexation of Danish Mercia was left to Aethelflaed, 
who also effectively convinced North Wales of the wisdom of 

The Strong Kings of England 65 

submission, and before her death was extending her mihtary 
successes into Strathclyde and Deira. Every advance was 
secured by the rise of a hurh or garrison town, usually the 
fortification of some place which had already acquired import- 
ance. The Danes had set the example by establishing themselves 
in the ' five boroughs,' Lincoln, Nottingham, Stamford, Leicester, 
and Derby. Meanwhile Edward had been pursuing a similar 
policy in Essex, East Anglia, and the eastern border of Mercia ; 
and in 915 the attack of a fleet in the Bristol Channel met with a 
termination disastrous to the raiders. 

It is clear; then, that before Edward's death in 925 he was 
indisputably master of the whole country as far as the Humber, 
was acknowledged as master in the Anglo-Danish Edward's 
or Anglo-Norse districts farther north, and was 'io™i'iion- 
' chosen as father and lord ' by the Celtic princes at large. Before 
this time, it may be noted, the Scots kingdom of Dalriada and 
the Pictish kingdom beyond Forth had been united under one 
crown by Kenneth M'Alpin, who inherited the Scottish kingdom 
from his father and the Pictish kingdom through his mother. 
Strathclyde was not subject to the Scots. Controversy has 
raged round the statement of the Chronicle regarding the Scots 
kingdom ; a great modern historian has pronounced that from 
the year 924 ' the vassalage of Scotland was an essential part of 
the pubhc law of the isle of Britain.' As a matter of fact, the 
■ pubhc law of the isle of Britain ' at this period is a mere figment. 
There was no permanency in the vassalage of the kingdom. 
There was no code of international law ; and if we are to fall back 
upon custom, it was the custom of all dependent states to 
repudiate vassalage as soon as they thought it was to their 
advantage to do so. The vahdity of the EngUsh king's suzerainty 
lasted precisely as long as he was able to maintain it by force, 
and once it was thrown off it was only by force of arms that it 
could be recovered. No king would ever have dreamed of 
admitting that he was a vassal because his great-grandfather had 
sworn fealty a hundred years before. King Edward i. would 
have laughed to scorn the suggestion that he was a vassal of the 
Pope because his grandfather. King John, had voluntarily and 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. i. E 

66 From Ecgbert to Harold 

deliberately^ become the Pope's man ; 5'et in the thirteenth 
century there \vould have been infinitely more colour for such a 
plea than in the tenth. 

The chronicles, which are very full for the reigns of Alfred and 
Edward the Elder, now suddenly become painfully meagre ; 
Aetheistan, a great misfortune for the historian, since \^'e have 
925-940. j^g^ enough to make it clear that Edward's son 

Aetheistan was a very great potentate. Edward had a very 
large family ; three of his sons reigned after him in succession ; 
and of his numerous daughters one married that son of the 
German king Henry the Fowler ■who afterwards became the 
great Emperor Otto i. Another married Charles the Simple, the 
king of the West Franks ; a third was the wife of Hugh the Great, 
whose son was to supplant the Carolingians on the French throne 
and establish the house of Capet. Two more were married to 
lesser European kings. All these marriages took place while 
Aetheistan was reigning in England, and they are a sufficient 
demonstration of the prestige which he enjoyed. Also it is on 
record that he was in friendly relations with Harald the Fair- 
haired, who spent a long and strenuous life in establishing the 
Norwegian monarchy. Denmark too, it may be noted, was by 
this time shaping into a single kingdom. The ' Dooms ' or laws 
of Aetheistan show too that unification and organisation were 
far advanced throughout the land south of the Humber. But 
the unification did not extend to the lands beyond the Humber, 
nor were the Welsh brought into the English system. 

At the outset of his reign yet another sister of Aethelstan's 
was married, to the Danish or Norse king of Northumbria who 
Brunanburii reigned at York, Sihtric. Sihtric died next year, 
937. and Aetheistan seized the kingship of Northumbria 

for himself. Also he ' subjugated,' whatever that may mean, 
the English king of Bernicia, Constantine, king of Scots, and the 
kings of North Wales and of Cornwall. Nevertheless, in 937 the 
English supremacy was challenged by a great combination 
brought together by the Scots king Constantine. In this 
combination were joined together the Scots, Strathclyde, and 
the whole swarm of the Ostmen, the Danes and Norsemen of 

The Strong Kings of England 67 

Ireland, one of whose kings was Anlaf or Olaf, Sihtric's son, whom 
Aethelstan had ejected, from Northumbria. The alhes were 
routed with terrific slaughter at the great battle of Brunanburh — 
probably Burnswark in Dumfriesshire — celebrated in a ballad 
which is happily preserved in the Chronicle and has been finely 
rendered into modern Enghsh by Tennyson. But though the 
victory was overwhelming, it only served to demonstrate that 
the north could not be brought into the area of English unity. 
Aethelstan was fully warranted in taking the quasi-Imperial title 
of ' Basileus ' of Britain ; he exercised a supremacy a good deal 
more powerful than any of his predecessors, but he had to reinstate 
Northumbria as a sub-kingdom, as Ecgbert had to reinstate 
Mercia. The extension of the single kingdom beyond the 
Humber made it too unwieldy. 

Aethelstan died in 940 and was succeeded by his exceedingly 
promising but youthful half-brother Eadmund, a lad of only 
eighteen, though he had already won laurels at 
Brunanburh. The accession of so young a prince deed-doer, 
was at once made the occasion of revolt, not only 
in Northumbria, where Anlaf reappeared, but in the Mercian 
Danelagh. Eadmund was equal to the occasion ; he established 
his dominion completely in the Mercian Danelagh, and brought 
the north into subjection. Also in 945 he ravaged southern 
Strathclyde or Cumbria, and then ceded it to Malcolm i., 
king of Scots, on ' condition that he should be his fellow- 
worker both on sea and on land.' Probably he wished to 
assign to the' Scots king as an ally the business of checking the 
incursions of the Norsemen on the west coast, a perpetual 
incentive to rebellion on the part of the Northumbrian Danes. 
In 946 Eadmund's vigorous career was prematurely cut short 
by an assassin, and the witan naturally passed over his two 
very small sons in favour of his brother Eadred. Eadred, 
Two years later turbulent Northumbria elected as ^^^-^^s. 
its king Eric, the son of Harald Bluetooth, king of Denmark. 
Eadred harried Northumbria, which submitted to him, and 
expelled Eric, who made sundry unsuccessful attempts to recover 
his kingdom. Thenceforth the Northumbrian ruler is not a 

68 From Ecgbert to Harold 

king, but an ' eorl ' appointed by the king of the English. Eadred 
died in 955, leaving no children, and his nephew,' Eadmund's 
elder son Eadwig (Edwy), was called to the throne. 

The boy's reign — ^he was only fifteen — was brief and troubled. 
He was completely under the influence of a kinswoman, Aethel- 
Eadwig, gifu, whose daughter Aelfgifu he wished to marry, 

955-969. g^j^jj ^^(j marry, only to be separated from her on 

the ground of affinity by Oda, the archbishop of Canterbury. 
There was in fact, as it would seem, a short and sharp struggle, 
though without war, between Eadwig and a court partj', and 
the clerics who had risen to prominence in the reign of Eadred, 
Archbishop Oda and Dunstan, the abbot of Glastonbury, in 
conjunction with leading lay magnates. After a short time 
Eadwig managed to drive Dunstan into exile, but was compelled 
to allow his younger brother Eadgar to be named king of Mercia 
and East Anglia, while he himself was only king of Wessex. But 
he died in the fourth year of his reign, in 1119, and young Eadgar 
became king of all England. Tradition relates how Eadwig on 
his accession deserted the state banquet, to dally in the bower of 
his young lady-love and her mother, till the indignant magnates 
dispatched Dunstan to recall him to a sense of his dignity and 
duties. The story is hardly to be interpreted after the old fashion 
as describing an insolent though ultimately successful attempt 
of the clergy to snatch the mastery over a youthful king. On 
one side were ranged Eadwig and his bride's mother, for the bride 
herself was too young to count, and also some of the clerics. 
On the other were the young king's grandmother antl the greatest 
lay magnate in the realm, Aethelstan, ealdorman of East Anglia, 
known as ' the half-king,' besides Oda and Dunstan. The con- 
test was perhaps quite as much between the two parties in the 
Church, the reforming disciplinarians and the old lax school, as 
between clerical and lay authority. But the obscurity is increased 
by the fact that the records, though drawn mainly from nearly 
contemporary lives of Dunstan, were written by monks whose 
fervent desire was to magnify Dunstan in the character of a 
clerical champion. 

' See Genealogies, I., House of Wessex. 

The Strong Kings of England 69 

With Eadgar's accession Dunstan returned to take Oda's place 
at Canterbury, to be Eadgar's political guide, and to impose a by 
no means welcome discipline upon the Church. 
Naturally, but unfortunately, we have much more Dunstan, 
information about Dunstan as an ecclesiastical 
reformer than about the statecraft which made the reign of 
' Eadgar the peaceful ' traditionally a sort of golden age. The 
fact, however, is clear that young as Eadgar was his rule was firm 
and strong and free from outbreaks of any kind. It is reasonable 
to suppose that this extremely successful government was in 
part at least due to the wisdom of counsellors older and more 
experienced than Eadgar himself, nor is there any reason to doubt 
that the chief credit belongs to Dunstan. There is no doubt of 
the substantial truth of the statement that five Welsh ' kings,' 
and with them the kings of Scots, of Strathclyde, and of Man, 
acknowledged Eadgar's suzerainty ; and it appears to be superflu- 
ous scepticism to question the tale that these eight sub-kings 
rowed the king of England in state on his barge upon the river 
Dee. Only to late authorities are we indebted for the stories of 
the tribute of wolves' heads imposed upon one of the Welsh 
kings, which in three years exterminated the wolves that remained 
in the country, and of the enormous fleet whose three divisions 
patrolled the three sides of the triangle of Great Britain. But 
again there is no reason to doubt that both these stories had a 
sohd foundation in fact. 

As to Dunstan's ecclesiastical reforms, there would seem to 
have been ample justification for them. There is no appearance 
that he was engaged in an attempt to snatch for Dunstan and 
the Church an excessive authority in the State. *^® Churcii. 
Primarily he was a reformer of clerical morals, who also en- 
deavoured for the best of reasons to apply the ecclesiastical 
authority to raise the standard of morals among the laity. He 
strengthened the monastic element among the clergy, mainly at 
the expense of the bodies of ' canons,' who were neither monks 
nor parish priests, but collegiate bodies living under a much laxer 
rule than the most lax of the ' regular ' clergy ; and in the monas- 
teries he encouraged the more rigid discipUne which was invari- 

•JO From Ecgbert to Harold 

ably demanded by all moral reformers. The methods adopted 

by his most vigorous coadjutor, Aethelwald of Winchester, were 

arbitrary, and when Dunstan no longer had the power of the 

Crown at his back there was an anti-monastic reaction. Whether 

the country was the better for that reaction, let the annals of the 

reign of Aethelred the Redeless tell. 

When Eadgar died in 975, being not yet thirty-three years old, 

he left two sons : Edward, a boy of fourteen, bom of his first 

wfe Aethelflaed, and Aethelred, aged seven, the 

the Martyr, child of his second wife Aelfthryth, who survived him 


to work mischief for many years. From the day of 
Eadgar's death she plotted to raise her own child to the throne. 
Her attempt to have Edward set aside was frustrated, but during 
the boy's short reign she no doubt fomented the reaction against 
the policy of Dunstan, who had defeated her plot in favour of 
Aethelred. East Anglia supported Dunstan, Mercia under the 
ealdorman Aelfhere worked against him. Earl Oslac of North- 
umbria, revered by the churchmen, was driven into exile, and 
in Mercia itself new or recently restored monastic establishments 
were despoiled. To this reign belongs one of the favourite 
stories of the monastic party concerning Dunstan. At a con- 
ference held in an upper chamber at Calne for the discussion of 
th6 great question between the monks and the canons, the 
flooring gave way and numbers of the disputants were precipi- 
tated into the room below ; while Dunstan himself was mira- 
culously preserved, because the crossbeam over which he was 
standing held fast. But the day of "his supremacy was almost 
over. In 978 Edward, three years after his accession, was 
stabbed, by Aelfthryth's order, as he was drinking the stirrup- 
cup at the gates on his departure from her abode at Corfe Castle. 
The miraculous preservation of his body from decay, coupled 
with the indubitable wickedness of his murderess, caused him 
to be hallowed as a martyr. Strangely enough, no attempt was 
made to punish the bloody deed ; and the boy Aethelred was 
raised to the throne unchallenged. The woes of his disastrous 
reign were attributed by mediaeval monks, as they would have 
been by the Greeks of old, to the vengeance of heaven. 

The English System yi 

IV. The English System, 800-1000 

It is only when society has already reached a high state of 
complexity that legislation becomes a frequent function of 
government. In earlier stages law is for the most central 
part established local custom, a system of con- so^ernment. 
ventions famihar to every one which no one is permitted to 
ignore and no one is inclined to change. The need of legis- 
lation, of a formal alteration in conventions, of new rules of life, 
comes in only with the appearance of new conditions for which 
the old conventions have made no provision. The domestic 
business of the supreme authority is not to make laws, but to 
see that the conventions are observed ; its external business is 
to prevent the outsider, the alien, from disturbing the local 
economy, or else to take aggressive action against the alien for 
the advantage of the community. Its primary functions are 
concerned not with law-making, but with organisation for war 
and the administration of justice, with which is included some- 
thing in the nature of the supervision of morals. 

The supreme authority in the minor kingdoms, and ultimately 
in the single kingdom of England, was the king acting with his 
witenagemot or witan, the assembly of wise men. Tie witan. 
A degree of uncertainty attaches to the composition of this 
body. It is clear that under ordinary circumstances it consisted 
exclusively of magnates — that is to say, the higher clergy, the 
ealdormen, who were the royal lieutenants in the shires, and a 
number of thegns ; but it is to be presumed that only such 
thegns would attend as were persons of recognised importance. 
On the other hand, it is at least possible that any free man had 
a right to attend, although that right was only exercised on 
occasions of special importance, such as the election of a king 
when the throne became vacant — occasions when, as a matter 
of course, the lesser folk would offer no opposition to the 
resolutions of the great men. In other words, the witan was 
normally the equivalent of the ancient council of chiefs, 
though on occasion it might take the character of the ancient 
assembly of the tribe-in-arms — an assembly which had fallen into 

72 From Ecgbert to Harold 

desuetude when the tribal system expanded into a territorial 

The thegns in the time of King Alfred and his successor meant 
in general every one in possession of five hides of land or more ; 
the word had ceased to be the distinguishing name of the king's 
thegns, the members of the royal comitatus, though these still 
had the specific title of king's thegns. There was no hereditary 
right to any political office ; no office attached to the thegn- 
hood ; the eorl of high descent and the AetheUng of the royal 
family had as such no claim to office ; the ealdorman was ap- 
pointed as the king's representative, theoretically on his merits ; 
and if there was a tendency for a competent son to receive such 
an appointment in succession to his father, it was only a tendency, 
not an established rule. 

While English kingdoms were merely engaged in fighting 
each other, there was no change in the old system, or want of 
National system, in raising armies. The great Danish attack 
defence. jj^ ^j^g ninth century gradually brought home the 

necessity for the organisation of national defence by the central 
government. Hitherto the kingdoms, Wessex or Mercia or 
Northumbria, had been content with what may be called shire 
defence ; the ealdorman, the king's president of the shire or 
province, was the commander of the shire levies ; there was no 
common action between the shires unless their ealdormen chose 
to work in concert or the king intervened for exceptional pur- 
poses. It was assumed that the fyrd of the shire was capable 
of dealing with any force that penetrated into the shire. That 
idea survived until the middle of the ninth century, so long as 
the Danes confined themselves to raiding. But when raiding 
gave place to systematic invasion the inadequacy of the system 
became obvious. Hence came a great advance in military 
organisation, for which King Alfred was responsible. Thegns 
and ceorls no longer took the field with the single desire to fight 
a pitched battle and get home again to their ordinary employ- 
ments ; the fyrd was called out in shifts, so that the fields were 
never deserted, and when one shift went home another was 
taking its place. Since the sea was no barrier against the ' ship- 

The English System 73 

folk,' Alfred taught the Wessex men to fight the ship-folk on 
their own element ; and since the Danes dominated the country 
which they occupied by forming entrenched camps and forti- 
fpng strategic positions, Alfred taught his family the same 
principle of establishing fortified hurhs with permanent garrisons. 
The three great duties of the free men, called the trmoda neces- 
sitas, were two of them definitely military, service in the fyrd 
and maintenance of fortifications ; and military considerations 
had a great deal to do with the third, the maintenance of roads 
and bridges. During the tenth century under vigorous kings 
the new organisation served its purposes efficiently; the son 
and grandsons of Alfred used it to make themselves masters of 
the whole country ; but under incompetent administration it 
was still doomed to fail disastrously, since it was never com- 
pletely national, never sufficiently centralised to give a real 

A prominent function of government in modern times is the 
direction of taxation, the provision of the wherewithal for 
carrying on the administration. But taxation in Revenue, 
the modern sense did not exist in the early times. The main 
claim was for service, not for money. The king's revenue was 
derived not from taxes, but from his own estates and from the 
dues which he was already empowered to exact at the earliest 
stage of which we have any record. How these rights of the 
Crown came into existence we can only conjecture. Even in the 
seventh century kings were conveying lands by written charter 
to monasteries or to individuals ; and the conveyance of land 
meant only the transfer to the favoured persons of such rights 
over those lands as the king possessed — rights to personal service 
from the occupier, rights to a share in the produce of the soil, 
rights to the exclusive possession of the soil. Such presen- 
tations were curtailments of the royal revenue ; the most 
notorious is Aethelwulf's appropriation of a tenth of his estates 
or of the produce thereof to the Church, which has often, though 
erroneously, been described as the first institution of tithe. 

With these royal grants or charters originate the distinction 
between foldani and bocland. Until quite recently it was the 

74 From Ecgbert to Harold 

general belief that all land was regarded as ' folcland,' ' the 
land of the folk,' the property of the community, until the king 
Folcland and obtained through the witan authority to convey it 
booiand. ^^ individuals, when it became ' bocland,' ' charter 

land.' This beHef, however, has been dissipated finally, if such 
a word can be used at all in regard to matters over which any 
obscurity still hangs, by Professor Vinogradoff. It is now ad- 
mitted doctrine that the term folcland did not mean land which 
was the property of the community, but merely land A\hich was 
held by customarj? title, ^\■hile bocland ^\•as land to which there 
was a \vritten title. Further, the magnates, bishops and others, 
whose names are attached to these early charters or written 
grants, signed not as sanctioning the grant but as unimpeachable 
witnesses. If ever the land was regarded as being a general 
possession of the community, only to be appropriated to in- 
dividuals by the community's consent, the evidence thereof is 
not to be found in the folcland and bocland of the early English. 
When the king granted bocland he merely transferred such 
rights as he happened actually to possess by recognised custom 
over the estates in question, and gave documentary confirmation 
of the act. 

Customary dues, then, fell to the king and to pubHc officers 
and pubUc bodies ; market tolls and fines of various sorts. 
Taxation. besides revenue from his own lands. But there 
is no record of a tax or general order to make a pa5mnient to the 
State before the first levying of the danegeld in the reign of 
Aethelred the Redeless. The king also had privileges, one of 
which was of pubhc importance. The king's peace in a special 
sense extended over a fixed area round his abode — that is, there 
was a stricter preservation of order under sterner penalties. 
The burn. But the king's abode did not necessarily mean 
merely the spot where the king happened to be in residence at 
a given time. The precincts of royal palaces were included, and 
also, it would appear, of royal fortresses. Where there was a 
king's hurh there was not only additional security against 
hostile onslaughts ; there was also an increased security for the 
persons and property of the inhabitants against lawless folk ; 

The English System 75 

and this was probably one of the factors which tended to develop 
the hurhs into commercial centres. 

Successive kings promulgated ' Dooms ' or laws after taking 
counsel with the witan ; but their legislation did not mean that 
they were establishing new principles of law. The Dooms. 
Alfred's work consisted chiefly in collating local conventions 
and modifying them so as to ensure that reasonable degree of 
uniformity required by pubUc conditions. The process of uni- 
fication necessitated some formulating of legal principles, so that 
Alfred endeavoured to provide the basis for his dooms by refer- 
ence to the divinely authorised law of the Hebrews. But, in 
fact, the dooms of Alfred meant only a more thorough systeraa- 
tising of the law of Wessex ; the dooms of his successors meant 
the harmonising of that law with customs prevalent in Mercia 
or in the Danelagh ; or they gave the sanction of the royal 
authority to new customs which were the outcome of a pro- 
longed period of warfare. Thus it is during the tenth century 
that the definite principle is formulated that the landless man 
must attach himself to a lord who will be answer- Feudal 
able for him ; because landless men of free birth ^'eeinnings. 
were multiplying, and unless they were responsible to some one 
who was responsible for them it was hardly possible for them 
not to become Ishmaels, vagabonds, regardless of the law them- 
selves, and lacking the power to obtain for themselves the pro- 
tection of the law. And in the same way there seems to have 
been developing a practice which was one of the bases of feudal- 
ism, the practice of commendation, whereby the small occupier 
attached himself to a wealthier and stronger neighbour by the 
feudal contract, under which the inferior rendered service in 
return for protection. In its more developed form the inferior, 
the vassal, became the lord's tenant — that is, he surrendered his 
land to the lord and received it back upon condition of service ; 
but as commendation was practised by the English, it was 
common that there should be no actual transfer of land ; the 
relation was one only of protection and service ; the relationship 
of lord and vassal was terminable, and the vassal could transfer 
himself with his land to another lord. 

76 From Ecgbert to Harold 

The elaborate system of services due from the lesser occupiers 
of the soil to lords may possibly have been due only to the 
Services. relations between them of protector and protected ; 

but this is only less hard of acceptance than the doctrine that 
the services were the outcome of what were originally the relations 
between a conquering race and a conquered servile population. 
No solution ^ has yet been found which accounts adequately foi; 
the transformation of a free soldiery planted on the soil into a 
peasant population politically free but owing agricultural ser- 
vice to superiors. Signs of this relationship are to be found in 
the dooms of the earlier kings ; but a document called Rectitu- 
dines Singularum Personarum, probably dating from the tenth 
century, shows that at that time the system was completely 
established, and that a large number at least of the free ceorls 
were under a definitely recognised obligation to devote a fixed 
amount of weekly labour to the cultivation of the lord's demesne, 
besides giving additional services at special seasons. 

It was the basis of the English judicial system that the local 
unit enforced the customs, conventions, or laws within its own 
Justice. area. A larger aggregate enforced the conventions 

as between the members of different units. The jnembers of 
each community formally meted out justice among themselves 
at the town moot, the hundred moot, or the shire moot ; there 
are signs that a certain amount of jurisdiction was already 
passing from these popular courts to the lords. But it was only 
when individuals had a strong case for claiming that justice 
had been denied to them that an appeal lay from the lower 
court to a higher court, and ultimately to the justice of the king 

The dooms of the kings were mostly concerned with injuries 
to person and property, the penalties for robbery and violence. 
In this system two features are strikingly prominent : the univer- 
saUty of fines as the penalty for law-breaking and the joint 
responsibihty of the malefactor's kinsfolk for the misdeeds of 
the individual. Punishment by imprisonment had not been 
invented. Mutilation was introduced later by the Normans. 

^ See Note III., Lards' Kishts. 

The English System jj 

Apart from the extreme penalty of death, injuries to person and 
property were punished by fines, for which the general term was 
weregeld. This was in part compensation to the Weregeid. 
injured person or his kinsfolk, in part an additional penalty 
payable to the community ; and of this penalty or wite the 
pubhc officials and the king had their share. Not only the guilty 
person, but those also who were of his kin, were jointly responsible 
for paying the weregeld. The system originally came into 
being manifestly in order to put a stop to the practice of the 
blood-feud. In primitive times, if A killed B, B's kinsfolk were 
in honour bound to kill A, while A's kinsfolk were bound to 
protect him. Thus retaliation led on to retaliation endlessly. 
The weregeld was substituted for the retaliatory slaying of A. 
If A and his kinsfolk paid up the weregeld fixed by law, they 
were to be exempt from retaliatory attack. The amount of the 
compensation followed a regular scale. The weregeld for killing 
a king was twice as high as for killing any one else. Next to 
the king came the archbishops and the Aethehngs or members of 
the royal house. A bishop or an ealdorman was worth half an 
archbishop ; an ordinary ' thegn ' was worth quarter as much 
as a bishop and six times as much as the humblest free ceorl. 
There was a regular tariff according to the injury suffered. 
Between the ceorl at the bottom and the thegns, with their were- 
gelds of two hundred and twelve hundred shillings respectively, 
there were gradations based apparently on the amount of land 
held by the individual. 

If any one invented trial by jury, it was not Alfred the Great 
but Henry ii., though there is some appearance that the primitive 
method of trial by the whole assembly of the hundred Trials, 
or the shire gave place ordinarily to trial before a committee 
commonly consisting of twelve persons. The ordinary process 
of a trial had very little resemblance to modern conceptions of 
what a trial ought to be. There was no sifting of evidence, no 
cross-examination ; what happened was that the bench, if we 
may use the phrase, called upon one party or the other to prove 
his case, and the proof was a matter of hard swearing. Thus 
.the .accused to prove his case would solemnly swear to his own 

78 From Ecgbert to Harold 

innocence, and would then produce a number of ' compurgators,' 
who swore that thej' believed his oath. The number of com- 
purgators required varied according to their social status ; a 
thegn's oath was worth those of five ceorls, and so on. An 
unpopular or untrustworthy person would probably find great 
difficulty in collecting ' a sufficient number of compurgators ; 
but he could then appeal to the ' ordeal,' which was presumed 
to express the judgment of the Almighty : the ordeal by hot 
water, or the ordeal by hot iron, when guilt or innocence was 
proved by the behaviour of the burn or scald ; the ordeal by 
cold water, when the accused was held innocent if he sank ; 
and the ordeal by the morsel, which the innocent could swallow 
but which would choke the guilty. The ordeal by battle was not 
employed ; it was introduced later by the Normans. 

V. The Danish Conquest, 978-1042 

During the years of Aethelred's minority there was no violent 

disturbance of the existing order. Archbishops, bishops, and 

ealdormen remained as they were until they died 
Aethelred II., ■' ■' 

the Eedeiess, in the Ordinary course. The only impression we 

978 1016 

can receive is that whereas in the time of the 
vigorous Eadgar there was a strong central government, there 
was no one after Eadgar who could concentrate control in 
his own hands. Dunstan's strength was conditional on- the 
royal favour. Thus there was no sufficient coherence among the 
magnates for them to venture on attacking the murderess of 
Edward the Martyr ; nor, on the other hand, was she strong enough 
to strike at the men who would naturally have been most op- 
posed to her influence. The result was that when the evil days 
came there were wise men and vahant men to be found, but 
they were left to act in isolation ; and of Aethelred the Redeless 
himself, after he came to years of discretion it can only be said 
that he never by any chance did the thing thait he ought to 
have done, and if there was any one, thing which at a given 
time he conspicuously ought not to have done, that was the 
thing he did. 

The Danish Conqtiest 79 

Since the days of King Alfred there had been no organised 
attaclc upon England on the part of either the Danes of Denmark 
or the Norsemen of Norway. The Danes or Norse- Renewed 
men, who had made themselves troublesome, were ■"'''°K™i°^- 
either those of the Danelagh or the vikings from Ireland and 
the Isles, assisted by stray outlaw chiefs from the mainland. 
In the days of the son and grandsons of Alfred, invaders and in- 
surgents had invariably received unpleasantly severe lessons. 
But now, very soon after Aethelred came to the throne, the 
raiders began experimenting again, and their experiments were 
encouraging. From 980 to 982 there were raids, all to the west 
of Southampton, with the exception of a stray attack upon 
Thanet. In 988 there were more extensive harryings, and in all 
these cases the raiders were the western vikings. But they 
discovered, and reported, how the organisation of the English 
defences had gone to pieces ; and in 991 one of the most famous 
of the Norse vikings, Olaf Tryggveson, began a series of descents 
upon the English coast. In this year was fought the great battle 
of Maldon in Essex, where the stout old ealdorman Brihtnoth 
died gloriously, and with him many valiant men of his thegn- 
hood. But the Norsemen won. The king did not march to the 
rescue of Essex ; on the contrary, taking the pusillanimous 
advice of Sigeric, who had succeeded Dunstan at Canterbury, he 
paid to Olaf a ransom of ten thousand pounds of silver. He got 
little enough by it. Two years later Olaf ravaged Ransom. 
Northumbria, and in 994 he came again with a new ally, Sweyn, 
the son of the king of Denmark, Harald Bluetooth. Harald had 
become a Christian ; but Sweyn, though baptised, had reverted 
to his paganism. Also he had quarrelled with his father, and, 
like Olaf, was fighting as a viking for his own hand. The valiant 
men of London offered so stout a resistance that the vikings 
drew off, but sailed down channel and ravaged Sussex and Hants. 
They were bought off by a fresh ransom ; the ransoms rose 
regularly about fifty per cent, each time. Olaf definitely em- 
braced Christianity, promised not to attack England again, and 
went off to Norway, where he fought for the crown and won it. 
He kept his promise. Sweyn also was drawn off, though only 

8o From Ecgbert to Harold 

for a time, on the similar business of getting the kingdom of 
Denmark for himself. Then came a new series of incursions 
without Sweyn, apparently with Ireland again as the raiders' 
base. Throughout this period the treachery of Aelfric, one of 
Aethelred's ealdormen, who was strongly suspected of having 
had a hand in the murder of Edward the Martyr, is a subject 
of bitter denunciations in the Chronicle. It is also somewhat 
ominous that Aethelred began to take into his service captains 
and troops from among the Danish raiders. 

In the year 1002 Aethelred, who already had a numerous pro- 
geny by his first wife Aelflaed, obtained for his second wife 
St. Brice's Emma, the sister of Richard the Good, duke of 
Day, 1002. Normandy, which had now become a very power- 
ful province of France and, like the EngUsh Danelagh, had 
entirely ceased to be in alliance with Danes or Norsemen. In 
the same year Aethelred perpetrated the most insane act of his 
reign. He ordered a general massacre of the Danes on St. Brice's 
Day, 13th November, having just paid ransom for the third 
time. The massacre can only have been that of the Danish 
mercenaries recently settled in Wessex ; but one of the victims 
is said to have been a sister of King Sweyn, the wife of the 
Danish jarl Pallig, who had entered Aethelred's service, but 
broke faith with him. 

The massacre of St. Brice's Day set Swejm at work again. 
In 1003 he harried most of Wessex ; in 1004 he fell upon East 
Anglia, though here his forces met with some rough handling 
from the obviously Danish ealdorman Ulfketyl. The general 
demoralisation of England was becoming evident, for about this 
time Malcolm 11. of Scotland harried Northumbria, though he 
was beaten off by Uhtred, nephew of the useless earl, whom he 
succeeded. In 1006 Sweyn returned again, and played havoc all 
over Eastern Wessex ; so the fourth ransom was paid, this time 
amounting to thirty-six thousand pounds of silver. 

The respite obtained was utilised in an attempt to organise a 
fleet, for which purpose a general land tax was imposed called 
Danegeid. the danegeld, the original precedent of ship money. 
A mighty fleet was prepared, but the only use made of it was in 

The Danish Conquest 8i 

a feud between a favourite of the king's and a Sussex thegn, 
Wulfnoth, who was probably the father of the great Earl Godwin. 

By this time the king's counsels were dominated by the arch- 
traitor Eadric Streona, ealdorman of Western Mercia, who had 
managed the last disgraceful treaty with the Danes. When the 
Danes reappeared they were led by jarl Thorkill the Tall. 
In 1009 they ravaged Kent and East Wessex. In loio they 
ravaged the whole of the east country. In loii they were pro- 
mised a ransom, but went on ravaging, the proceedings cul- 
minating in the murder of Archbishop Aelfheah, popularly 
known as St. Alphege, in 1012. Nevertheless, another huge 
ransom was paid, and many of the Danes went home, though 
Thorkill himself with a large force took service with the king. 

This did not suit Sweyn, who in the next year, 1013, came over 

with a great fleet, bent upon conquest. But by this time the 

people of England were thoroughly sickened of Aethelred's 

government. Hitherto the men of the Danelagh had fought 

stoutly enough against the vikings ; now when Sweyn appeared 

in the Humber they offered him the crown. Sweyn marched 

into Mercia, most of which made prompt sub- 

'^ -^ Sweyn king 

mission, though London once again distinguished of England, 
itself by an indomitable resistance, beating off 
the Danish attack. Thorkill did not desert his new paymaster ; 
but when Sweyn raised the siege of London and marched into 
Wessex, Aethelred took flight to his brother.-in-Iaw in Normandy, 
whither he had already dispatched his wife and the two children 
she had borne him. 

Sweyn was acknowledged king of all England ; but in the be- 
ginning of 1014 he died, leaving his newly acquired kingdom 
to his eldest son Knut, a youth of nineteen, who had accom- 
panied the expedition. Sweyn had been building up an empire, 
for he had killed his old ally, Olaf Tryggveson, and made himself 
king of Norway ; but on his death the empire was broken up 
for the time. Norway revolted, and elected as its king Olaf the 
Thick, otherwise known as St. Olaf ; and the Danes in Denmark 
elected not Knut but his brother Harald. The Danish host in 
England elected Knut, but the Enghsh witan offered to restore 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. u F 

82 From Ecgbert to Harold 

Aethelred, who came back, with many promises of amendment, 
and was acknowledged all over the south. The Danelagh stood 
by Knut ; but the young king went off to Denmark to settle 
matters with his brother, leaving behind the hostages his father 
had taken, after horribly mutilating them. 

Aethelred soon showed that the leopard does not change its 
spots ; but his eldest son Eadmund took matters into his own 
Eadmund hands, and won the loyalty of the Danes of North 
Ironside. Mercia. When Knut returned in 1015 Eadmund 

with his Anglo-Danes marched against him, but the desertion of 
Eadric Streona forced him to retreat again to the north. Aethel- 
red died in 1016, and Eadmund made a desperate and brilliant 
effort to retrieve the situation in spite of the reluctant desertion 
of Uhtred of Northumbria. The rapidity and vigour of his 
movements gathered increasing hosts to his standard, while 
London again defied Knut. So Eadric changed sides again and 
came in to King Eadmund. Then a tremendous battle was 
fought at Assandun, in which Eadmund was defeated through 
a fresh act of treachery on the part of Eadric. But the stubborn 
' Ironside ' was not beaten yet. Again he began to collect forces 
in the western midlands. Negotiations were opened through 
Eadric, and a compact was framed by which England was to 
be divided between Eadmund and Knut. In effect Knut was 
to have the old Danelagh, shorn of East Anglia. Eadmund's 
valour was not ill-rewarded, but it was in vain. Almost immedi- 
ately after the treaty he died ; a later age not unnaturally 
attributed his death to foul play. There may have been a pact 
that the survivor of the two kings was to succeed to the whole 
inheritance ; at any rate, although Eadmund left two infant 
sons, Knut the Dane was accepted as king of all England. 

While Knut was fighting for the dominion of England, and even 
for some months after his accession to the lordship of the entire 
Knut, country, his conduct was very much what would 

1016-1036. have been expected of the son of the barbarian 
Sweyn. He found an excuse for putting to death Eadmund's 
only full brother Eadwig, to whom alone it was possible for ad- 
herents of the house of Wessex to turn, since Alfred and Edward, 

The Danish Conquest 83 

the sons of Aethelred's second marriage, were boys away in 
Normandy, and Eadmund's own children were mere babes. 
Knut shrank from murdering these infants, and sent them to 
the king of Sweden, who passed them on to the king of Hungary, 
under whose guardianship they grew up. One of them married 
his daughter, and in due course became the father of Eadgar 
the Aetliehng and Margaret, the wife of Malcohn Canmore. But 
after the first beginnings Knut put off tire barbarian ; only once 
again in his life did he relapse into a deed of criminal violence. 
With an extraordinary suddenness, he developed at the age of 
twenty-two into a most Christian king and a very acute and 
diplomatic statesman. 

In 1017 Knut married the Norman Emma, the widow of 
Aethelred, who was very much his senior ; but the marriage 
secured friendly relations with the powerful Norman Knut's 
duke. At the same time he not only executed P°ii°y- 
Eadwig, but also made Eadric Streona pay the penalty of his 
misdeeds. The arch-traitor learnt the old lesson that wise 
princes distrust the traitors to whom they owe their success. 

Knut, by the death of his brother Harald, was already king 
of Denmark as well as of England ; but it is evident that he 
regarded his island dominion as the most valuable basis of 
aggrandisement. He intended England to be a powerful state, 
not a milch cow. He began indeed by extracting a huge ransom 
from the country, but he did so in order to pay off and dismiss 
the bulk of his Danish troops. Conscious of the difficulty that 
the English kings had found in maintaining an effective supre- 
macy over the whole kingdom, he divided it into five great 
provinces or earldoms. Eadwulf, a brother of Uhtred of North- 
umbria (whom the Dane had killed before he was king), had 
Bernicia ; Eric the Dane got Deira ; East Anglia went to Thor- 
kill the Tall ; and Mercia, at first handed over to Eadric Streona, 
was transferred on Eadric's well-deserved execution to Leofwine, 
who had been ealdorman of one of the Mercian divisions. 
Wessex Knut kept for the time in his own hands ; a little later 
he transferred it to the exceedingly able Godwin, son of Wulf- 
noth, who had won his confidence. Godwin's origin is sur- 

84 From Ecgbert to Harold 

rounded by legends. It seems probable on the ^\'hole that he 
was the son of that Sussex thegn of whom mention was made 
in the year 1008. At any rate Godwin went with Knut to 
Denmark in 1019, and returned to England and the earldom of 
Wessex as the husband of Knut's kinswoman Gytha. 

The monastic chroniclers abound in praises of Knut's piety ; 
of the honours paid to the EngUsh saints martyred by the Danes 
— Eadmund, king of East Anglia, and St. Alphege of Canterbury ; 
of the gifts bestowed on Glastonbury, where was the sepulchre 
of his ' brother ' Eadmund Ironside. Also, we have all been 
familiar from our earhest years %vith the story of Knut and the 
rising tide, and of his enjoyment of the singing of the monks of 
Ely. But otherwise the record of the internal administration 
of England during the twenty years of Knut's peace is singu- 
larly scanty. The land was craving for rest and recuperation ; 
Knut gave it immunity from foreign attack and steady govern- 
ment under earls who were firm and just. It might almost be 
said that the country enjoyed the happiness of the land which 
has no history. 

Nevertheless, one event of fffst-rate historical importance 
occurred in 1018, in the second year of this^xeign. Twelve years 
before, Uhtred of Northumbria had mightily routed 
of Lothian, the Scots king. But Uhtred was dead, slain by 
Knut himself about the time when England was 
reheved of the redeless king in 1016. His inefficient brother 
Eadwulf was earl of Northumbria, and Malcolm sought ven- 
geance. He broke into Northumbria, and at the battle of 
Carham, close to the Tweed, inflicted an overwhelming defeat 
on the English force. Eadwulf surrendered all Northumbria 
north of the Tweed to the Scots king, and from that day forward 
Tweed marked the boundary between England and Scotland. 
No change was made when, many years later, Knut marched 
into Scotland, and Malcolm paid him that dubious homage 
which meant so little to the Scot and so much to English 

Less important to us are the Continental doings of Knut, 
though the case might have been very different had he been 

The Danish Conquest 85 

followed on the throne by a successor of his own type. Knut 
the Rich, king of England and Denmark, with a claim on the 
throne of Norway, was one of the great potentates of Knut in 
his day. Two kings of Wessex had gone to Rome Europe, 
in order that they might die there ; one, Aethelwulf, had visited 
the Eternal City, possibly with diplomatic and certainly with 
pious intentions, taking with him the child Alfred. But no 
crowned king of all England, save Knut, visited Rome during a 
period of more than a thousand years. Knut's visit in 1026-7, 
to attend the coronation of the first Franconian emperor Conrad, 
was diplomatic as well as pious in its purpose. He got con- 
cessions from the Pope and from Rudolf of Burgundy, the great 
' middle ' kingdom, relaxing for his subjects the burdens laid 
upon foreigners on entering Burgundian territory, and upon the 
archbishops who went to Rome to procure the pallium from the 
Pope. Also he betrothed his daughter to Conrad's son. But 
ultimately little enough came of these successful arrangements. 
Besides visiting Rome, Knut succeeded in making himself 
master of Norway on the second attempt in 1028, when he 
ejected Olaf the Thick, who in conjunction with Olaf, king of 
Sweden, had successfully defied him three years before. But 
again England was little affected by the results, because after 
Knut's death his kingdom was divided. 

Danish and Norse monarchs and Norman dukes paid so little 
respect to the laws of the Church with regard to monogamy that 
illegitimacy was scarcely a hindrance to the sue- -Q^^^-y^ 
cession, a peculiarity which recurs in the history Barefoot, 
of Irish chieftains as late as the sixteenth century. 
Knut left a son, Harthacnut, by his wife Emma of Normandy, 
and two sons, Sweyn and Harold called Harefoot, by another 
mother, an Englishwoman, Aelfgifu, whom he may have married 
and repudiated in order to obtain the hand of Emma. Curiously 
enough, then, when Knut died in 1036 the English witan elected 
Harold Harefoot. Sweyn died ; but Earl Godwin sided with 
Knut's widow Emma in claiming the crown for Harthacnut, 
who duly took possession in Denmark. This opposition, backed 
up by the dead king's bodyguard, the huscarles, was strong 

86 From Ecgbert to Harold 

enough to force a temporary compromise. Wessex was to go 
to Harthacnut, represented by Emma, with Godwin as her 
minister. But Harthacnut was busy in Denmarlv. There might 
be danger from Emma's other sons, the Aethelings at the Norman 
court. The younger prince, Alfred, landed in England with a 
Alfred the small following, perhaps in the hope of getting 
Aetiieiing-. possession of the crown ; but one story says that 
he was enticed over by a forged letter purporting to be from 
his mother. Godwin received him wth apparent friendhness ; 
but in the night Harold's men came down and took Alfred and 
his party in their beds. They were then murdered or mutilated ; 
Alfred's eyes were put out, and hewas handed over to die among 
the monks of Ely. Although it is possible to make out a case 
for Godwin's innocence, the presumption certainly is that he 
had already made up his mind to espouse Harold's cause, 
and that he betrayed the unfortunate Aetheling. But for the 
subsequent cruelties no one but Harold himself need be held 

Nevertheless, the magnates w&xo, now unanimous in declaring 
Harold king of the whole land, though Archbishop Aethelnoth 
Hartnacnut, stoutly refused to take part in the coronation. 
1040-1042. Emma had to take flight to Flanders, whence she 
at last succeeded in stirring up her own son Harthacnut to 
prepare a great expedition against his half-brother. Before it 
sailed, however, Harold died in March 1040 ; whereupon the 
English magnates offered the crown to Harthacnut, ignoring 
the claims both of Aethelred's surviving son Edward ^ at Rouen 
and of Eadmund Ironside's son Edward the exile, who had now 
grown to man's estate in Hungary. 

When Harthacnut arrived in England three months later, 
the magnates soon had reason to doubt the wisdom of their 
choice, which had presumably been directed by the expectation 
that any other course would revive the old struggle with Den- 
mark. The young king gave every promise of proving himself 
a bloodthirsty tyrant, though it is a little puzzling to find that 
he brought over his half-brother from Normandy, recognised him 

' See Genealogies, i.j House of IVessejr. 

The End of the Saxon Kingdom 87 

as heir-presumptive, and apparently associated him in some sort 
with himself as ruler of the kingdom. But before Harthacnut 
had been two full years in England he died horribly in his 
cups at a wedding feast, and Edward the Confessor was pro- 
claimed king by the witan. 

VI. The End of the Saxon Kingdom, 1042-1066 

The kingdom of Denmark passed to Sweyn Estrithson, the 

son of Knut's sister Estrith and of jarl Ulf, the brother of 

Godwin's wife Gytha. Magnus, son of St. Olaf, „, 

-' ° ' ' Edward the 

had recovered possession of Norway, and his wars Confessor, 
with Sweyn effective^ precluded the latter from 
putting in a claim for the English crown. England left the 
Scandinavian powers to fight out their own quarrel, and re- 
stored the house of Wessex to her own throne, taking as its repre- 
sentative the man who was on the spot in ])reference to his elder 
brother's son, who was in Hungary. The three great earls, 
Godwin of Wessex, Leofric, son of Leofwine of Mercia, and the 
Dane, Siward of Northumbria, doubtless directed the national 

Godwin's position must have been a singularly difficult one. 
He had at one time committed himself to the cause of Emma, 
the widow of both Knut and Aethelred, and the Godwin. 
mother of both Harthacnut and Edward, but had then deserted 
her. This would have done him no harm in the eyes of 
Edward, who in spite of his piety very much resented the utter 
neglect with which his mother had treated him. It is less 
easy to understand how, being popularly credited with the re- 
sponsibiUty for the maltreatment of the other Aethehng, Alfred, 
he still managed not only to reconcile himself with Edward, but 
to procure such an ascendency over him that the king went 
through the formal ceremony of marriage with the great earl's 
daughter Eadgyth. In fact, the predominance of the house of 
Godwin was really overwhelming. Siward, rahng in the remote 
Northumbria, came very near to being an independent sovereign, 
and did not greatly trouble himself with affairs south of the 

88 From. Ecgbert to Harold 

Humber. Leofric, called earl of Mercia, ruled only a division of 
that province. Godwin himself was earl of Wessex. His eldest 
son Swe5m had an earldom, which included Somerset with the 
south-western Mercian shires. His second son Harold was earl 
of the East Angles, and that earldom included besides East 
Anglia proper the Mercian shires which bordered upon it, as well 
as Essex. Godwin's nephew Beorn, the brother of the king of 
Denmark, had North-Eastem Mercia. In other words, quite 
three-fourths of England south of the Humber was in the hands 
of the four earls of the Godwin kin ; and it must be observed that 
Godwin owed his own elevation to a Danish king, that his wife 
was a Dane, that his nephew was a Dane, and that his two sons 
were half Danes. It was no part of Godwin's policy, therefore, 
as has been suggested by some popular writers, to glorify Saxon 
Wessex as against the Danish elements in the country. 

But Godwin himself was a new man, of no ancient and dis- 
tinguished house. He owed his rise to power to his own remark- 
able abilities, an absence of nice scrupulosity, and a steady 
pursuit of his own advantage. His own interests being duly 
safeguarded, his policy was patriotic ; but with him self-interest 
came before patriotism. He was regarded in consequence with 
distrust and jealousy. His son Harold was a far finer character, 
but unhappily Harold was the second son ; the elder, Sweyn, 
was thoroughly ill-conditioned, and the third son, Tostig, was not 
less so. 

The king whom the witan had raised to the English throne 
commands the enthusiastic admiration of the ecclesiastical 
The chroniclers on account of his exaggerated piety ; 

Confessor. ^j^g piety which subordinated the responsibilities 
of the ruler of a great nation to ecclesiastical interests ; the piety 
which has no sense of proportion, which counts it more commend- 
able to endow a minster than to enforce justice, to renounce the 
world than to do one's duty in the world. Moreover, for five 
and twenty years he had been brought up amidst the compara- 
tive refinement of the Norman court, and under the influence of 
Norman priests, whose clericalism was of the rigid type which 
Dunstan had failed to make popular among the English clergy. 

The End of the Saxon. Kingdom 89 

Godwin, then, dominated the government, and might have 
continued to do so unchallenged but for the misconduct of his 
eldest son Sweyn, who abducted or seduced the sweyn 
fair abbess of Leominster. The young man was *5o^'"°soii. 
outlawed, and went off to his cousin the king of Denmark, but 
apparently made himself as intolerable there as in England. 
Presently he came back to Sandwich with a small fleet. His 
object was to get his outlawry removed and his earldom restored, 
to which both his brother Harold and his cousin Beom objected. 
Apart from other considerations, they saw no reason why they 
should be asked to surrender portions of his earldom, which had 
been transferred to them. Sweyn, on the pretext of seeking a 
reconciliation with Beorn, got him on board his ship and murdered 
him. Even Sweyn's own retainers were so disgusted that they 
would not help his flight. However, he escaped to Flanders, 
which in those days was a general asylum for outlaws and 
political fugitives ; and next year Godwin, impolitic for once, 
succeeded in procuring his pardon and partial restoration. The 
whole business was exceedingly damaging to Godwin's influence, 
which was shown when the witan supported the king in setting 
aside Godwin's nominee for the archbishopric of Canterbury 
in 1050 and giving the appointment to the Norman, Robert of 
Jumieges, a prelate whom Edward had already advanced to the 
see of London. 

Whether Godwin was a genuine patriot or not, he knew that 
the principal danger to his own supremacy lay in the influence 
of Norman ideas and Norman clericaHsm on the Godwin's 
mind of the king. His English antagonists, un- ^^"• 
conscious of any Norman peril, but exceedingly awake to the 
Godwin peril, were prepared to back the king in any opposition 
to the earl. The increasing strain soon reached breaking point. 
Eustace, count of Boulogne, the king's brother-in-law, came to 
England on a visit. He and his company were billeted at 
Dover, when the insolence of the Frenchmen brought on a 
general brawl, in which the count's followers were roughly handled. 
Eustace clamoured to the king for condign punishment to be 
inflicted on the men of Dover. The king ordered Godwin to 

90 Front Ecgbert to Harold 

smite the delinquent town. Godwin took up the cause of the 
Dover folk, declaring that the fault was not theirs, and carried 
the war into the enemy's country by bringing charges against the 
Norman followers of the king's Norman nephew Ralph, Count 
Eustace's stepson, who had been given the minor earldom of 
Hereford. Godwin knew that he was challenging a civil war, 
and called up the levies of his earldom. Sweyn and Harold 
stood by their father ; the rest of the country stood by the king. 
Neither party was over-anxious to fight, and the \\'hole question 
was referred to the witan ; but by the time it met the Wessex 
men had lost all zeal for Godwin's cause, and the earl was vir- 
tually called upon to surrender at discretion, with his sons. 
The family held solidly together, resolved to stand or fall in a 
united group ; but in the circumstances discretion was the better 
part of valour, and they all fled either to Ireland or Flanders. 
Apparently they had all fallen together. Harold's earldom was 
bestowed on Leofric's son Aelfgar, and the rest of the Godwin 
estates were given away. 

But when Godwin was gone there was an immediate reaction, 
encouraged by the immediate appointment of another Norman 
Godwin's to the bishopric of London. A visit to the king 

return. from the young Duke William of Normandy may 

have increased anti-Norman feeling. In the spring of 1052 
Godwin and Harold appeared on the south coast. Ships and 
men gathered to their support. Evidently public sentiment had 
veered round in favour of the earl. The king was unwilling to 
fight, and sent to treat ; whereupon there was a rapid exodus of 
the Norman prelates and others, who saw that their chance was 

If Godwin was master of the situation, it was not his cue to 
vacate the position from which he had derived his strength, the 
claim that he was an absolutely loyal subject, who had no wish 
but to deliver the king from mahgn influences. Sweyn had 
been judiciously sent off on a pilgrimage to Palestine, in the 
course of which he conveniently died. Godwin's and Harold's 
earldoms were restored, but there was no vindictive action talcen 
against any Enghshmen. Robert of Jumieges, and most of the 

The End of the Saxon Kingdom 91 

Normans who had fled with him, were outlawed ; and the 
English bishop of Winchester, Stigand, was made archbishop of 
Canterbury in Robert's room. The appointment was un- 
canonical, for Pope Leo ix. refused to confirm it. Leo's suc- 
cessor Benedict gave Stigand the pall ; but Benedict himself 
was ejected from the papal office after a year, and the successful 
papal party refused to recognise his act, so that Stigand's position 
remained exceedingly dubious — a matter of some little import- 
ance when Edward's successor was crowned. 

It was perhaps well that Godwin died very soon after his 
return. The rationalism of history attribute^ his death to 
apoplexy or heart disease ; Norman ecclesiastical legend, which 
was unscrupulous in its treatment of the Godwin family, attri- 
buted his end to the judgment of God, whom he called to witness 
to his innocence of the murder of the Aetheling, Alfred. Godwin's 
place was taken by his son Harold, an able ad- Harold, earl 
ministrator, a brilliant soldier, just and generous, o'Wessex. 
whose supreme aim was to establish harmony through the realm 
of England ; while his worst defect was a misplaced expectation 
of inteUigence and loyalty in men who had proved themselves 
to be neither inteUigent nor loyal. Harold's personal pre- 
dominance in the kingdom was made the more decisive by the 
death of Siward of Northumbria in 1055 and of Leofric of Mercia 
in 1057, whereby he was left with no rival of real weight, force 
of character, or recognised wisdom. He stood alone with the 
burden of the kingdom on his shoulders, but he was not a man 
who would have grudged sharing that burden with loyal and 
capable chiefs, had such been forthcoming in the hour of 
England's trial. 

One event external to English history proper must here be 
chronicled. About the year 1040 Duncan, king of Scotland, 
the husband of Siward's daughter Sybilla, was slain jiaiooim in. 
by Macbeth, who, in accordance with the hitherto ^"^ Scotland, 
prevalent Pictish law of succession, was asserting a claim to 
the crown of Scotland for his infant stepson, but practically 
appropriated it for himself. Duncan's young sons, Malcolm 
and Donalbane, escaped, Malcolm to their grandfather in 

92 From Ecgbert to Harold 

Northumbria. Fourteen years afterwards, in 1054, Siward 
resolved to set the young Malcolm on the throne of Scot- 
land. Thither he marched, routed Macbeth at Dunsinane, 
where his own eldest son was killed with all his wounds in front, 
and left Malcolm, acknowledged as king in one part of the 
kingdom, to fight it out with Macbeth. Macbeth was finally 
overthrown and slain three or four years later at Lumphanan. 
Such are the foundations of the legend upon which Shakespeare's 
great tragedy was built. The historical importance of the 
episode lies in the fact that the restoration of Malcolm in., 
commonly known as Cednmohr, Canmore — i.e. ' Bighead ' — per- 
manently established the common law of succession to the 
crown from father to son in Scotland, instead of the Pictish 
law of succession through females. A second point to be noted 
is that whereas the kings of Scots had hitherto been uncom- 
promisingly Celts, Malcolm was half a Dane ; he took to wife 
Margaret, a princess of the house of Wessex ; their youngest 
son, David i., the ancestor of the entire line of Scottish kings 
afterwards, had to wife Siward's granddaughter ; and virtually 
only an infinitesimal proportion of the blood which ran in the 
veins of the Scots kings was Celtic. The reign of Malcolm iii. 
in Scotland opens the period when the partly Teutonised low- 
lands began to become politically the most important part of the 
Scottish kingdom, and the Scottish polity began to develop on 
Teutonic instead of on Celtic lines. 

A year later Siward died. His heir, Waltheof , was a child too 
young to succeed him in the earldom ; and unhappily for every 
one concerned, Edward gave Northumbria to his o-wti favourite 
among the Godwinsons, the ill-conditioned Tostig. 

Leofric was still living, but for some apparently inadequate 

cause, which is unrecorded, his eldest son Aelfgar was outlawed 

. „ , in the year of Siward's death. Harold had char- 

Aelfgar 3 -^ 

outlawry, acteristically yielded East AngUa back to him on 
his own accession to the earldom of Wessex. The 
angry Aelfgar went off to Ireland, raised a force of vikings, 
attacked the west coast of England, and joined forces with 
Gr5fffydd, king of North Wales. The allies ravaged the Welsh 

The End of the Saxon Kingdom 93 

marches, sacked Hereford, and routed Earl Ralph, who came 
against them. Harold marched to the rescue of Hereford, 
checked the rebels, detached Aelfgar from Gryffydd, and pro- 
cijred his pardon and restoration to his earldom. Gryffydd 
carried on the war on his own account, and next year inflicted 
another defeat on a Saxon force, whereby Harold was brought 
down on him again, accompanied this time by Leofric. Gryffydd 
then agreed to return to his allegiance, and rendered homage as 
an under-king, though his fidelity was of the flimsiest character. 
Next year Leofric died, and Aelfgar succeeded to the earldom 
of the greater part of Mercia ; whereupon East Anglia went back 
to the Godwinsons, being divided between Harold's younger 
brothers Gurth and Leofwine. 

Edward the Confessor — the title was given to him after his 
death on account of his piety, not because he suffered for his 
faith — was childless. His marriage had been a Eadgartiie 
mere formality, since he regarded any deviation AetneUng. 
from the celibate life as detracting from holiness. But at this 
stage his nephew Edward ' the exile,' the son of Eadmund Iron- 
side, returned to England accompanied by his Hungarian wife 
and his three very small children — Margaret, Eadgar, and 
Christina. Having arrived he died, and Eadgar the Aetheling 
became the next representative of the house of Cerdic after the 
reigning king. 

Next year Aelfgar was again in trouble, was ejected from his 
earldom, and was associated in a fresh revolt with the persistent 
Gryffydd and also with Norse raiders. He married suppression 
his beautiful young daughter Aeldgyth to the Welsh- °^ Gryffydd. 
man. Harold, however, repeated the previous process of recon- 
ciHation, and Aelfgar was restored to Mercia, where he seems 
to have remained peaceably till his death in 1062, when his 
elder son Eadwin succeeded to the earldom. In 1063, however, 
renewed aggression on the part of Gryffydd took Harold on a 
fresh Welsh expedition. The Welshmen seem to have got tired 
of the king's perpetual wars, while Harold's combination of 
vigour with concihation may have fostered a pacific sentiment. 
At any rate in 1064 Gryffydd's own people slew him and sent 

94 From Ecgbert to Harold 

his head to Harold. Presumably it was with a view to cement- 
ing a close alliance with the house of Leofric that Harold pre- 
sently married Gryffydd's young widow Aeldgyth, the daughter 
of Aelfgar and sister of Eadwin. This marriage apparently did 
not take place till late in 1065, when a close union among the 
great nobles of the land had become a matter of vital import- 
Tiie ance. King Edward's health had broken down, 

succession. ^^^ j^ ^^^^ absolutely certain that his successor on 
the throne, whoever he might be, would have to fight for it. 
Sweyn of Denmark always affirmed that Edward had promised 
the succession to him. William of Normandy made the same 
claim on his own behalf. Edward may have made some sort of 
promise to both of them ; but he certainly expressed his wish 
that Harold should be his heir. Eadgar Aetheling had some 
sort of claim as representing the royal house of Wessex ; but 
legitimism had had Uttle enough to say to the rules of succession 
during the eleventh century, and the precedents certainly 
pointed to the witan as having very nearly a free hand in choosing 
the king. Quite clearly the reigning king had no power what- 
ever to decide the course of succession. None of the claimants 
was at all likely to give way, and there was every probabiUty 
that Harald Hardrada, a mighty warrior, who for many years 
had been king of Norway, might strike in on his own account. 
If England was not to be brought under the rule of a foreign 
king, she must be united in the support of an English king, who 
must be either the experienced warrior and statesman Harold 
or the boy puppet Eadgar. 

But the position was further complicated by a promise which 
the duke of Normandy had extorted from Harold. At some 
William of uncertain date, but probably in 1064, some accident 
Normandy. j^^d led to Harold being shipwrecked on the terri- 
tory of Guy of Ponthieu. Guy, after the fashion of the times, 
held him to ransom, and William for his own purposes procured 
his hberation, which meant merely his captivity in Normandy 
instead of at Ponthieu. He treated Harold as a guest, but 
extorted from him a solemn vow to help him to the crown of 
England. The Bayeux tapestry says nothing of the Norman 

The End of the Saxon Kingdom 95 

story that the oath was taken upon relics of a peculiar sanctity. 
Whether, in spite of that path, Harold was warranted in accept- 
ing the crown of England for himself is an exceedingly intricate 
question of casuistry ; but it was quite certain that, while 
William could have no title to the crown except by election of 
the witan, he would not recognise Harold's election as valid. 

The outlook, then, was sufficiently serious already, when in 
1065 Northumbria revolted against the rule of Earl Tostig, 
Harold's brother, to whom the earldom had been Tostig. 
given on Siward's death in 1055. Tostig neglected his earldom, 
but that did not prevent him from oppressing it. In Tostig's 
absence the Northumbrians rose, outlawed the earl, cut up his 
household, and elected in his room Morkere, the younger brother 
of Eadwin of Mercia ; and Eadwin himself came to their assistance 
with the levies of his own earldom and a contingent of allies from 
Wales. Harold was no more inclined to support Tostig than 
he had been in the case of Sweyn. His brother's outlawry was 
confirmed, and the Northumbrian earldom of Aelfgar's second 
son was confirmed. With the Leofricsons earls of half England, 
it is not difficult to explain the marriage of Harold to their sister. 

On 5th January 1066 Edward the Confessor died, and the 
witan immediately elected Harold. Every one ignored the 
Aethehng. Sweyn of Denmark, a prudent prince, Harold 11., 
waited upon events. The outlawed Tostig, now ^''^®- 
fiercely hostile to his own brother, first tried to intrigue with 
Sweyn, then raided the English coasts, and ultimately betook 
himself to Harald Hardrada. William of Normandy did not 
wait upon events, but immediately set himself to the mustering 
of a great host, partly of his own subjects, partly of adventurers 
from Flanders and Brittany and from other French provinces, 
while he appealed to the Pope for the blessing of the Church 
upon an expedition directed against the perjured blasphemer 
who called himself king of England. Harold's perjury was 
made the worse in William's eyes by the marriage with Aeld- 
gyth, since it had been part of Harold's pledge that he was to 
marry Wilham's own youthful daughter Adela. The papal 
approval was the more readily obtained because of the inde- 

96 From Ecgbert to Harold 

pendent attitude of the churchmen in England towards the 
Holy See, the prevalence of marriage a^mong the Enghsh clergy, 
and the recognition of Stigand as archbishop of Canterbury. 
The Normans always declared that Harold was crowned by 
Stigand, though, in fact, the leading part in the ceremony was 
taken by Aeldred, the archbishop of York. 

Harold furnished forth a great fleet and a mighty army in the 
south of England. But the months rolled by while William 
was gathering his host together. The strain of long waiting 
under arms was too great for the English levies. September 
arrived, and there was still no invasion. Harold was forced to 
let his troops disband, and the great navy which held the 
Channel was ruined by a storm. And then suddenly came the 
Haraid news from the north that Harald Hardrada with 

Hardrada. ^ mighty fleet, and accompanied by Tostig, was 
on the Yorkshire coast. The Norsemen sailed into the Humber, 
landed, and routed the levies of Eadwin and Morkere at Fulford 
on 20th September, not a fortnight after Harold had disbanded 
his troops. Yet five days later Harold himself was at York, 
having dashed north with such of the troops as had not dispersed 
and every man he could muster on the march. At Stamford 
Bridge the two armies met, to the startled amazement of the 
invaders. Tostig refused a tempting invitation to separate him- 
self from his ally. A furious battle raged all day. When it was 
over Hardrada and Tostig were both dead on the field, and after 
mighty deeds of valour done on both sides the remnant of the 
Norsemen were driven to their ships, and departed. 

The great fight was fought on 25th September ; but WiUiam's 
opportunity had arrived. The English fleet had vanished, the 
English army had been carried to the north, a favouring wind 
enabled the Norman to put to sea, and on 28th September the 
invading host landed at Pevensey. 


I. Survey of Europe 

Except for a few years after the Norman Conquest, while 
aggressive action on the part of the Scandinavian monarchies 
was still a danger, the direct relations of England England and 
with the Continent were for a long time to come vir- Europe. 
tually confined to two powers, France and the Papacy ; but the 
relations with those powers are not themselves really intelligible 
without some understanding of the organisation of Europe and 
of the movements by which Europe was affected. For hitherto 
England had been almost secluded from Europe, except Scan- 
dinavia ; whereas the Norman Conquest brought her into touch 
with the European system, because her rulers, as dukes and 
counts of great provinces in France, were Continental potentates 
as well as kings of England. 

At the close of the eighth century Charlemagne had revived 
the Western Roman Empire. Of Charlemagne's empire the 
eastern boundaries were, roughly speaking, the The Empire 
river Elbe and the Adriatic. Between the Baltic and sooios^. 
the river Danube were hordes of Slavonic peoples or non-Aryan 
barbarians. South of the Danube was the Greek or Byzantine 
Empire, to which Southern Italy was attached. The islands of 
the Mediterranean and the greater part of Spain were under 
Mohammedan or ' Saracen ' domination. During the ninth 
century this new Roman Empire broke up into four portions. 
The Spanish peninsula was detached, and the Christian princi- 
palities of its northern part were left to fight out their own 
battles with the Moors. The rest, if we still keep to the broad 
lines, was parted into three divisions: the western Frank 
kingdom, which grew into France ; the eastern, which is roughly 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. G 

98 The Norman Kings 

Germany ; and the middle kingdom, stretching from the North 
Sea to the Mediterranean, called Lotharingia, with which Italy 
was associated. But even these were territorial aggregates 
rather than solid kingdoms. But again, during the tenth century, 
the Holy Roman Empire was restored by Otto the Great of 
Saxony. The Empire may be described as including the East 
' German ' kingdom, northern Lotharingia or Lorraine, and 
two-thirds of Italy. Of the middle kingdom there survived 
Aries or the Arelate, comprising Burgundy and Provence. 
The west Prankish kingdom of Prance included approximately 
the modem Belgium and as much of modem Prance as lies on 
the west of the rivers Rhone and Sa6ne. Por some time to come 
the titles of emperor and German king were approximately 
convertible, though the German king was not invariably crowned 
emperor. In theory both the imperial and the royal crowns 
were conferred not by hereditary right but by election ; in 
practice they remained with the successive dynasties commonly 
called the Saxon (North German), the Pranconian (Middle 
German), and the Swabian or Hohenstaufen (South German). 
In the middle of the eleventh century the Pranconian dynasty 
was in possession ; the greatest of its emperors, Henry iii., died 
in 1056, leaving a regency in charge of his six-year-old successor, 
Henry iv. 

The Saxon and Pranconian emperors stemmed the tide of 
advancing Slavs and Hungarians or Magyars from the east. 
TUe Norman The Scandinavian expansion had almost come to 
expansion. ^n end after Danes and Northmen had established 
themselves in the EngUsh Danelagh and the French province 
of Normandy, although for a time during the eleventh century 
England formed part of the actual Danish dominion. But in 
this century there was a new expansion, not from Denmark, but 
from Normandy itself. In the north the duke of Normand}' 
made himself master of England. In the south the adventurous 
sons of Tancred de HautevUle carved out for themselves a new 
dominion on the Mediterranean. Robert, called Guiscard, won 
Southem Italy, and his younger brother Roger estabhshed 
his power in Sicily. Thus both these regions were drawn into 

Sjirvey of Ezirope 99 

the area of Western Christendom and of Western Feudahsm 
precisely at the moment when Duke WilHam was putting an 
end to the comparative isolation of England. And while both 
Wilham of Normandy and Robert Guiscard were still living, 
the triumphant progress of the Seljuk Turks in the East was 
precipitating the long straggle between the Cross and the Cres- 
cent in Western Asia which had its counterpart in the Spanish 

But another struggle was approaching. In the first half of 
the eleventh century the Papacy fell upon evil days. Within 
the Church there was a fervent party of reform, The Papacy. 
which drew its inspiration from the monastery of Clugny ; but 
reform to be effective must begin with the head ; the body could 
not be cured while the head was corrupt. The great Emperor 
Henry iii., alive to the need for reform, deposed three rival 
popes, and appointed his cousin Bruno pope as Leo ix. When 
Leo died, after a brief and vigorous papacy, Henry nomin- 
ated Victor II. Both Victor and his successor, Stephen ix., 
held but brief rule. With all these three reforming popes great 
influence had been exercised by Archdeacon Hildebrand. In 
1058, when Stephen died, the Emperor Henry iv. was a mere 
child. The reactionaries forced the election of Benedict x. ; 
Hildebrand succeeded in carrying through the counter-election 
of Nicholas 11. as a reforming pope, and the anti-pope was de- 
posed. In Italy Nicholas greatly strengthened himself by alli- 
ance with the Normans, and Robert Guiscard found it in his 
own interest to hold his dukedom of Apuha as the Pope's ' man ' 
and the Pope's champion, rather than by no other title than that 
of the sword. The practical effect was to make the Papacy a 
secular power supported by a very vigorous fleshly arm. The 
system of papal elections was at the same time reorganised with 
a view to preventing such scandals as the election of rival popes. 
When Nicholas died in 1061 another reforming pope, Alexander 11., 
was elected without reference to the young emperor. But this 
was a cause of great offence to the German clergy, since the new 
system of election almost amounted to guaranteeing that the 
Pope should be an Italian, The regular election was ignored, 

lOO The Norman Kings 

and an anti-pope, Honorius ii., was chosen by the Germans. 
Honorius did not succeed in making head effectively against 
Alexander ; but a contest was thus initiated between the 
Empire and the Roman Papacy. 

When Alexander died, Hildebrand was elected with some 
irregularity at Rome as Gregory vii., to exercise as pope the 
Gregory VII. power which for nearly twenty years he had in effect 
exercised through five popes in succession. And Hildebrand 
was not only a determined reformer of morals, but virtually the 
creator of that conception of the Papacy which claimed that 
the spiritual power was supreme over the secular ; that Christen- 
dom is a theocracy, in which the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar 
of Christ, is at once the servant of the Lord's servants and the 
king of kings. 

The Empire was a collection of principalities variously entitled 
duchies, counties, margravates ; as emperor, the German king 
exercised the supreme secular authority in Italy as well as in 
Germany, but the submission of a duke of Saxony or Bavaria 
was measured by the strength of the emperor. The position 
France : i^i France was not very different. Hugh Capet had 

the Capets. founded the reigning dynasty in 987, elected to 
the throne because of the hopeless inefficiency of the last de- 
scendants of Charlemagne. The early Capets did not succeed 
in consolidating the power of the Crown ; the king was little 
more than one noble among several, who in theory recognised 
him as suzerain. At the time of the Norman Conquest of Eng- 
land King Philip i. was a child, and the regency was in the 
hands of Baldwin of Flanders, whose daughter was the wife of 
WilUam of Normandy. Flanders, Normandy, Brittany, Blois, 
French Burgundy, Anjou, Poitou, Gascony, Champagne, and 
Toulouse were each of them a match for the Crown estate of 
Paris and Orleans. The feudatories of each followed the banners 
of their own duke or count against the king as weU as against 
other dukes or counts. The authority of the French king in 
France was no greater than that of the German king in Germany. 
The populations of the kingdom were hardly more homogeneous 
than their language, scarcely more so than those of the whole 

Survey of Europe loi 

island of Great Britain. The half-Scandinavian Norman, the 
low-German of Flanders, the Celt of Brittany were not very 
closely akin to each other, and regarded the Frenchman proper 
as a foreigner ; all of Southern France was in some degree 
hostile to Northern France. It has been necessary to dwell 
upon the lack of soUdarity in the kingdom of England ; but it will 
be readily seen that this lack of soHdarity was even more con- 
spicuous in the great states of Europe, each of which was little 
more than a confederation of nobles technically acknowledging 
a common suzerain. 

During the next two hundred years, then, we shall find three 
great movements in operation : the assertion of papal authority, 
the crusades, and the movement towards national Tiie coming 
consolidation. So long as the duke of Normandy movements. 
was king of England, as was always the case for a hundred and 
forty years, except while Normandy was held by William the 
Conqueror's eldest son, the fact tended to check the consoli- 
dation of both England and France. For some two and a half 
centuries more the king of England retained a hold upon Gas- 
cony, and that fact tended still to check the consolidation of 
France, but not of England. 

Thirty years after the Norman Conquest, Pope Urban ii. was 
urging all Western Christendom upon the first crusade. Crusades 
on a large scale recurred at intervals of twenty or The crusades- 
thirty years. German emperors and French kings went on 
crusade, but no king of Scotland and no king of England except 
Richard i., though Edward i. went crusading before he came to 
the throne. No efforts ever sufficed to make any crusade into 
a real united movement of Christendom ; and England lagged 
far behind France in crusading ardour. Even in Europe at large 
the political influence of the crusades was mainly the indirect 
one that they tended to increase the prestige of the Papacy, 
because through them the Papacy was able to emphasise its 
position as the head of a militant Christianity. The crusades 
developed a certain cosmopohtanism which perhaps hindered 
rather than helped the growth of nationaUsm ; they brought the 
West into touch with Islam in its most progressive period ; they 

I02 The Nonnan Kings 

certainly developed trade. But they did not unite Christendom, 
nor did they give to Christendom the victory over Moham- 
medanism. As to their influence in Enghsh history, we have to 
refer to them chiefly to show that, in spite of their picturesque- 
ness, their practical influence was small. 

The third movement was the struggle between the Papacy 
and the Empire— a struggle which finds its reflection in England 

„^ „ . during these two hundred years in the controversies 
Tne Empire ° 

andtue between WilHam Rufus, Henry l., and Henry ii. 

apacy. ^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^.^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^ Other Archbishop 

Anselm and Archbishop Becket ; and, at a later stage, in the 
submission of King John to Innocent ill. and the subserviency 
of Henry in. to a long series of popes. With rare exceptions 
the popes throughout the period were men who stood out morally 
and intellectually among their contemporaries. If in their 
militancy we find an arrogant lust of power, it must not be for- 
gotten that they strove at least to use their power in the interests 
of righteousness, though they might be too much inclined to 
identify the interests of righteousness with their own. In the 
twelfth century they won their battle against the secular power, 
till there was no king in Europe who was not forced to recog- 
nise one mightier than himself in Innocent in. A hundred years 
later the Papacy wrought its own downfall by the arrogance of 
its claims ; but England was far enough away to be always 
successful in resisting demands which were excessive, except when 
she was paralysed by the iniquity of King John and the incom- 
petence of Henry iii. 

II. William the Conqueror, 1066-1087 

The news of WiUiam's landing was carried post-haste to the 
north. A week after he had received it Harold was back in 
Harold and London. Eadwin and Morkere were to follow as 
wiuiam. promptly as they could ; but in fairness to them 

it must be remembered that their levies had been shattered at 
Fulford, and it was probably no easy task to gather a fresh force 

William the Conqueror 103 

in the north with which to march into the remote south. From 
the shires which lay upon the Great North Road, Ermine Street, 
along which Harold sped on his swift southern march, from 
East Anglia, from Wessex and Kent, the levies came in to 
fight for the great captain who had just won so striking a victory 
over his namesake, reputed to be the mightiest warrior of the 
age. Meanwhile WiUiam remained at his base, ravaging the 
country, but bent on forcing Harold to battle near the coast. 
Counsel was given to the English king that, instead of giving 
battle to WiUiam, he should waste the land south of London, 
and so force William to fight at a distance from his base, or else 
to retreat. But Harold would not waste English land. He 
would fight the invader, but on ground of his own choosing. He 
took his forces down to where the open country emerges, on the 
south of the Andredesweald, and posted them on the ridge of 

There he entrenched himself, says Henry of Huntingdon ; 
and Wace, whose statement there is no reason to doubt, says that 
the breastwork was surmounted by a wattled fence. The armies 
Behind the fence was the shield wall of the heavy- ** Seniao. 
armed Saxon soldiers, who fought on foot with bill and battle- 
axe and javelin, and with them the Mght troops, armed with 
ruder implements of war. About the standard were gathered 
the host of the huscarles, the trained fighting men who first ap- 
peared as the household troops of the Danish kings — a sort of 
Danish development of the king's gesiths, but forming a very 
much larger body. There was no archery worth the name. The 
Normans, on the other hand, fought on a system practically 
unknown in England, having three arms : a great force of heavy 
cavalry, a mass of heavy infantry, and troops of archers, though 
the longbow, which was later to become so famous in the hands 
of Enghshmen, was as yet unknown. Everything was to be 
staked on the pitched battle, in which the Normans were forced 
to be the attacking party. As to the relative numbers of the 
two armies, nothing can be affirmed positively ; but Harold 
had certainly not yet been joined by the levies from the north, 
or even by the whole of the contingents from Wessex. It is 


The Norman Kings 

doubtful whether more than thirty thousand men could have 
been massed on the ridge. The lowest of the estimates of the 
Norman hosts counted them as sixty thousand, but estimates of 
large numbers appear habitually to have been greatly exag- 
gerated ; it would be perhaps fairlj- safe to say that the fighting 
line numbered from thirty to forty thousand. 

A frontal attack was the only course open to the Norman. 
The archers were driven back when they came within range 

Emcry\Callcer sc 

of the English missiles ; the infantry when they came to close 
quarters were hurled back from the stockades ; the horsemen 
The battle. swept forward to the charge up the slope, but if 
they crashed through the wattled fence they could not break 
through the shield wall. On the Norman left the Bretons broke 
and fled ; the English shire levies burst from their ranks and 
raced down the hill in pursuit. The Norman centre wheeled 
and swept down upon them, and the EngHsh right wing was 
thus almost annihilated. But it was only the right that had 

William the Conqueror 105 

broken line. The Normans rallied and again hurled themselves 
against the shield wall ; yet, in spite of desperate courage, the 
horsemen could not force their way in. 

Again a great mass of the Norman horsemen broke and fled ; 
but this time the flight was a trap. Into it the shire levies fell, 
beHeving that the victory was already won. Masses of them 
dashed forward down the slope, but when they had been drawn 
far enough the Norman centre hurled upon their flank. The 
fugitives re-formed and charged again upon their front. Only 
the huscarles and the troops which were most thoroughly 
kept in hand remained to hold the brow of the ridge ; yet these 
maintained their ranks and fought on still. But the conflict 
had now become too unequal. With every charge increased 
numbers fell ; between the charges the archers poured in flights 
of arrows which showered down from above. One of them 
pierced the eye of Harold. At last the horsemen broke through, 
the huscarles fell fighting to the last around the standards, and 
only a remnant fled, when night had already fallen, into the 
impracticable Andredesweald. 

The immense importance of the battle, which has taken its 
popular name from Hastings, the nearest town of importance, 
has claimed for it an exceptionally full description. Features of 
The victory ensured the subjection of England to t^e battle, 
the Norman, and what that meant politically we shall presently 
see. But apart from its pohtical consequences, Hastings was 
the typically decisive battle which established for two centuries 
and a half the mihtary principle that no foot soldiery could stand 
against the combination of cavalry with archery. The foot 
soldiers became so far discredited as an arm that it was presently 
assumed that they could not stand up against cavalry ; and 
wherever mail-clad knights took the field they carried all before 
them. Later came the time when this illusion was dispersed, 
and it \'\-as proved first that in the plain shock of horse against 
foot it was possible for the foot to hold their own ; and then that 
the right use of archery, in conjunction whether with horse or 
with foot, was the decisive factor. In reality it was the right 
use of archery which gave the Norman horsemen the victory 

io6 The Norman Kings 

over the English foot at Hastings, coupled with the failure of 
the English foot to remember that it was their first duty to 
preserve their formation. But the conspicuous fact at Hastings 
was that the magnificent valour of the finest foot soldiers had 
not availed them. The part played by the archers was not duly 
appreciated ; and it was only when the EngKsh developed 
an immensely superior type of archery, and employed it success- 
fully against mail-clad knights, that the mail-clad knight in his 
turn became discredited. The crossbow was too slow and the 
ordinary shortbow was not strong enough to be effective against 
the heavily mailed horsemen ; but the longbow for the man 
who could use it combined the merits and cancelled the defects 
of the crossbow and the shortbow. But the longbow certainly 
did not come into use as an effective English weapon until the 
reign of Edward i. 

The great defeat at Hastings left the EngHsh people without 
a head. Eadwin and Morkere may have dreamed of the crown 
wuiiam's for Eadwin, or of a partition of the kingdom, which 
advance. would have left them independent rulers of the north . 

Patriots may have seen in the proclamation of the Aetheling 
the only hope of uniting England under one banner against the 
foreigner. The men of the Danelagh may have hankered for 
a union with the crown of Denmark. But there was no strong 
man to take an emphatic lead, and the election of ' Child Eadgar ' 
by the witan was accepted in a very half-hearted fashion. By 
the Normans it was ignored. 

After a few days' delay WiUiam moved upon Romsey and 
Dover, completely securing his communications by sea, and 
thence upon Canterbury, which immediately submitted. Here 
his own sickness and that of his army compelled him to delay 
for a month ; but the English made no use of the interval to 
collect forces or prepare resistance. When at last he moved 
again, Winchester and some other towns sent to make their 
submission. London, as in the old days of Danish invasions, 
was incUned to fight. The Normans dispersed the citizen levies 
which came out against them, but, instead of attempting to 
force a passage of the river, WiUiam proceeded to the west as 

William the Conqueror 107 

far as Wallingford, where he crossed, presumably with the in- 
tention of intercepting any possible forces from Mercia. As 
he approached London the witan was at last forced to the con- 
clusion that resistance was hopeless. Stigand had already been 
making overtures, and now the Aetheling himself, together with 
Ealdred, archbishop of York, some other bishops, and some 
representatives of London itself, came to Wilham Election of 
to offer him the crown — an offer which after some w^i'^™- 
deliberation was formally accepted. The formal election was 
followed by WilHam's coronation on Christmas Day, though 
there was an ominous interruption of the ceremony, which took 
place in the Confessor's newly built abbey at Westminster. 
The shout of applause within the building was misunderstood 
by the guards outside. Instead of breaking in, as one might 
have expected, they attacked the neighbouring houses, and there 
was a very serious tumult. 

William intended to reign not by right of conquest, but on 
the theory that he was the lawful sovereign. His coronation 
oath promised peace and equal justice to Enghsh- nrst 
men and Normans. A charter was issued to the "i^asures. 
Londoners promising the same rights which they had enjoyed 
in the days of the Confessor, and the Norman soldiers were 
ordered to abstain from violence. But William proceeded with 
the erection of a castle to dominate London, the first outward 
and visible sign of the systematic estabUshment of garrisons in 
impregnable fortresses. For the stone keep of the Normans 
had probably never been seen before in England. Those who 
had fought by Harold's side at Hastings were denounced as 
traitors, on the hypothesis that Wilham had been their lawful 
king against whom they were in rebellion ; and their lands were 
forfeited and distributed among William's followers. The rest 
of the English were not dispossessed, but were required to pay 
a fine as a condition of retaining their lands ; either on the theory 
that they were more or less imphcated in the rebeUion because 
they had not taken up arms on William's behalf, or else on the 
certainly doubtful ground that fines were payable on the suc- 
cession of a new lord. 

io8 The Norman Kings 

William extended his clemency to the young earls of the north, 
Eadwin and Morkere, and also to young Waltheof Siwardson, who 
Distribution held Huntingdon with the title of earl. But these 
of lauds. scions of the great houses of Leofric and Siward 

were kept near the king's person in what was virtually a gilded 
captivity. The Crown estates, as a matter of course, passed 
into the king's own hand. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, the king's 
half-brother, received large estates in Kent with the title of earl ; 
William Fitzosbern, the playmate of his youth, and his stout 
supporter at all times, got lands in Norfolk and the earldom of 
Hereford, which had presumably reverted to the Crown since 
the death of the Confessor's nephew Ralph. Robert of Mortain, 
who, like Odo, was the son of William's mother, got Cornwall 
and half Devon and Dorset at a later stage. Systematic con- 
fiscation had not yet begun. Apparently there was no likelihood 
of open defiance of the new authority ; and William went off to 
Normandy, taking with him Eadwin, Morkere, and Waltheof, 
while he left Odo in charge of the south and Fitzosbern in charge 
of the Welsh marches and the north. 

Whatever William's intentions may have been, the Normans 
and miscellaneous adventurers who had followed his banner 
solely for the sake of the spoils at once began to tyrannise over 
the English ; and before long there were sporadic outbreaks in 
Kent, in Northumbria, and on the Welsh marches, where a thegn 
called Eadric the Wild bade defiance to the new garrison of 
Hereford, in alliance with the princes of North Wales who had 
succeeded Gryffydd. 

WiUiam returned to England in December to find that Devon 
and Cornwall, headed by the town of Exeter, one of the largest 
Insurrection in the kingdom, were under the impression that they 
in tue west, could make special terms for themselves. The 
citizens declined to swear fealty. Early in 1068 William marched 
to the west ; but though a deputation of citizens came to make 
submission, bringing hostages, the city of Exeter repudiated 
their action and closed its gates. For nearly three weeks the 
place was besieged before the leading citizens succeeded in im- 
pressing upon their fellow-townsmen the futility of resistance. 

William the Conqueror 109 

Nevertheless, William was content with having a castle built ; 
and he then made a progress through Devon and Cornwall, 
which submitted to him. It was this rebellion which gave him 
the opportunity of handing over nearly eight hundred manors 
(which may for the moment be described as the units of lordship) 
to Robert of Mortain. WiUiam then was able to spend his Easter 
at Winchester, and at Whitsuntide his wife Matilda was crowned. 

But the insurrections were breaking out again. The English 
earls and the Aetheling escaped from the court. Eadgar made 
for the north, where the Englishman Gospatric, who insurrection 
had bought the earldom of Bernicia from Wilham, ^ *^^ nortn. 
declared for him as king. Mercia and Deira rose under Eadwin 
and Morkere. The sons born to Harold by his first wife had 
escaped to Ireland, and raided the Bristol Channel. But the 
west had now resolved to be loyal to the Norman, and the raid 
came to nothing. The resistance in Mercia promptly collapsed ; 
the Aetheling and Gospatric fled to King Malcolm in Scotland, 
who saw that he might turn their presence to account ; and 
Northumbria submitted. Leniency was still the Conqueror's 
policy. Eadwin and Morkere were pardoned. But Norman earls 
were planted at Leicester and in Yorkshire. Castles were raised 
there, at Warwick and Nottingham, and at Lincoln, Huntingdon, 
and Cambridge, on the road from London to York, as Wilham 
withdrew to the south. Nevertheless, in January 1069 the 
Northumbrians broke out again, and cut in pieces their new 
earl, Robert de Commines, and his retinue, at Durham. The 
Aetheling appeared on the scene, and York was attacked. 
William with his usual vigour swooped on the north again, 
scattered the besiegers before the castle of York, and sent 
Eadgar headlong back to Scotland. Again the king took no 
vindictive action, but withdrew to the south — leaving, however, 
a second castle at York. 

But now the slow-moving king of Denmark began to think 
that he might have something to gain, stirred up perhaps by his 
aunt Gytha, the widow of Godwin and the mother T^e Danisii 
of Harold. In August a very miscellaneous fleet '"^^sion. 
from the Baltic, under the command of Sweyn's brother Asbiorn, 

1 1 o The Norman Kings 

appeared on the east coast, and after some futile demonstrations 
at Dover and on the East Anglian coast sailed into the Humber. 
It was joined by Eadgar, and also by Waltheof, who had 
hitherto remained quiet, though it is difficult to see how the 
claims of the Aetheling and the claims of the Danes were going 
to be reconciled. Whether the Danes of Northumbria thought 
they were fighting for Sweyn or for the Aetheling is an open 
question, but they came in very large numbers to make common 
cause against the Normans. Together they carried the city un- 
opposed. The captain, William Malet, had sent word to the 
king that the castles could hold out for a year ; but in ten days 
they were taken, and most of the garrisons were either prisoners 
or dead. Probably by an accident, half the town was burnt down. 
Waltheof personally is said to have slain an immense number of 
the Normans, hewing them down at the castle sally-port. 

The fall of York set insurrections ablaze all over the country ; 
in Somerset and Dorset, in Devon and Cornwall, on the Welsh 
The harrying marches. This time William flamed out into un- 
of the north, governable wrath. He flung himself upon the north, 
leaving the other insurrections to be dealt with later. The 
Danes fell back into Lindsey, and from Lindsey into Holdernesse 
in Yorkshire, where Wilham could not reach them without ship- 
ping. William drove westward to stamp out another rising in 
Stafford ; the Danes came out and marched upon York to keep 
their Christmas there. As William swept back the Danes re- 
treated again, though a few of them remained with an Enghsh 
force to hold York itself. Their resistance was stubborn but 
vain. The castles rose again and were occupied with fresh 
garrisons ; and then William set himself deliberately to make 
a desert from York to Durham, and something not much better 
than a desert between Durham and the Tyne, where the folk had 
time to flee for their lives before the devastator was upon them. 
Twenty years afterwards, in one district, out of sixty-two villages 
only sixteen had any inhabitants left. 

William left the Danes in Holdernesse and fell upon North- 
western Mercia in a winter campaign which taxed the endurance 
of his troops to the utmost. The punishment inflicted was only 

William the Conqueror 1 1 1 

less severe than in Yorkshire. Meanwhile the Danes had come 
out into the fen country, and having finally made up their minds 
that the conquest of England was not to be achieved, sacked 
Peterborough, the ' Golden Borough,' the richest abbey in 
England, and then quitted the EngUsh shores. But though the 
Danes were gone before the summer of 1070, the fenmen formed 
a camp of refuge at Ely, whither for some months to come 
gathered all the broken and desperate men of the north. 

Merciless as William was in his campaign, his wrath was 
tempered by policy. He extended pardon to Gospatric and 
Waltheof. As yet the Aetheling remained out of Hereward 
his reach with Malcolm of Scotland, who about ^^^ly- 
this time married his sister Margaret. But the camp at Ely 
threatened to become dangerous, as a magnet for the disaffected 
and a well-spring of disaffection. Its captain was Hereward the 
Wake, around whose name there gathered in the course of the 
seventy years following stories so obviously legendary that it 
becomes almost impossible to discriminate much definite fact. 
It is quite possible that he was of the house of Leofric, and 
equally possible that he was merely a Lincolnshire thegn, like 
Eadric the Wild in the west. One out of three apparently' 
different writers who are occasionally referred to as ' Richard of 
Ely ' put together the Hereward myth as we have it, working 
professedly upon an English original, the composition of one of 
Hereward's clerical companions. This legend is supplemented 
by a passage in the French Rhyming Chronicle of Gaimar, 
written about 1140, which departs from the other work, the 
Gesta Herwardi, mainly by adding the story of the hero's death 
in his last great fight. 

This much at least can be reckoned as historic truth. Here- 
ward established himself in the isle of Ely, and made himself 
a terror to the Normans over a very considerable area. He was 
joined by the patriotic Bishop Aethelwin of Durham, and by 
Morkere after the death of Eadwin. Eadwin, it may be said in 
passing, in spite of repeated favours shown to him by William, 
broke from his allegiance, and was making for Scotland when 
he was slain by his own followers, who carried his head to 

1 1 2 The Norman Kings 

William and were hanged for their pains. The camp at Ely, 
girdled with swamps, defied all ordinary means of attack, and 
even William's first attempt to carry it met with horrible 
disaster. Treachery, however, broke it up at last ; probably the 
garrison reahsed that there was nothing to be gained by continu- 
ing the struggle. Only a few of the most stubborn patriots 
retired with Hereward to the greenwood, and at last Hereward 
himself came in to the king and was restored to his estates in 
Lincolnshire. Whether he died fighting against a group of 
personal enemies or peaceably in his bed remains uncertain. 
But after the fall of Ely there was practically no more armed 
resistance on the part of the English to the dominion of Wilham. 

In 1072 William made an expedition to Scotland, when 
Malcolm renewed the formal submission which he had appar- 
wiuiam and ently thought it politic to make in 1069. Also the 
Malcolm III. Scots king would seem to have received some grants 
of lands in England, for which he did homage, perhaps as the 
price of dismissing his brother-in-law the Aetheling. But the 
records of these submissions and homages are always somewhat 
dubious in character, nor does their value seem to be much 
■ affected by the number of occasions on which they took place. 
It cannot be doubted that Malcolm did more than once pay some 
sort of homage to William ; but William did not wish or attempt 
to effect a conquest of Scotland. What he did want was to 
prevent Scotland from being made the basis for insurrectionary 
movements in England. As for the Scots king, if he could avoid 
having his lands harried by a promise to be William's man, he 
would have had no compunction about making it, or about 
ignoring it whenever the circumstances were encouraging. 

In 1072 the Conqueror was complete master of England. 
The last embers of EngHsh rebeUion had died out. The Aethel- 
TUe Conquest i^g, never personally dangerous, was a fugitive, 
complete. There were no Godwinsons \Vho counted ; of the 
Leofricsons, Eadwin was dead, and Morkere after the surrender 
at Ely was in prison. The only important scion of the great 
old houses left was Waltheof, who was in the king's peace, had 
married the king's niece Judith, and was now earl of Northumber- 

William the Conqueror 1 1 3 

land, the land between Tyne and Tees. The rebelhons had 
warranted such sweeping territorial confiscations that by this 
time very much the greater part of the country had been bestowed 
upon William's followers ; practically no large estates remained 
in English hands. The Norman Conquest was completed, and 
it was not from English but from Norman barons that any chal- 
lenge of the power of the Crown might be anticipated. 

Such a challenge came in 1075. William Fitzosbern was 
dead and his son Roger was earl of Hereford ; in Norfolk large 
domains were held by Ralph Guader, the ' Staller,' part Breton 
and part EngUsh by descent — both men of the younger genera- 
tion. While William was in Normandy, which _ . j,. 
occupied his personal attention between 1073 and of Norman 
1075, these two earls were brewing treason. 
Ralph meant to marry Roger's sister and the king had forbidden 
the union. They had other grounds of complaint in the 
monarch's refusal to recognise privileges to which they fancied 
themselves entitled. The whole story is obscure ; but they 
made up their minds to revolt, and, presumably in the hope of 
obtaining EngHsh support, they sought the alliance of Waltheof . 
William was to be driven out, and England was to be divided 
between the three earls. Waltheof appears to have wavered, 
then to have resolved to stand by his allegiance, and to have 
made confession of the design to William's great minister Lan- 
franc, the archbishop of Canterbury. Lanfranc had been more 
than suspicious for some time past, and his suspicions had been 
fully confirmed when the marriage was carried out in defiance of 
the king's orders. Roger rose in arms in the west and Ralph 
in the east ; but Lanfranc was equal to the occasion. The 
English hated their immediate masters, the Norman barons, 
much more than they hated the Norman king ; the surviving 
Enghsh bishops knew that the power of the Crown was the best 
existing security against the most brutal oppression. English 
levies marched against the rebels, and the rebellion collapsed. 
Ralph Guader escaped to Brittany, but Roger of Hereford was 
taken, and Spent the rest of his Hfe in prison. Waltheof, who 
had taken no part in the rebellion, went over to Normandy to 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. I. H 

1 1 4 The Norman Kings 

seek the king's pardon for his temporary lapse. The pardon 
was apparently granted, but on his return to England he was 
The end of arrested, tried, and executed. Waltheof, whose life 
Waitheof. ■\^^^ i-,ggjj singularly futile, had nevertheless enjoyed 
a somewhat inexphcable popularity ; when he was dead the 
monks of Crowland transformed him into a martyr and a miracle- 
working saint. So perished the last of the old English aristo- 
cracy, if we except the Aethehng, who was received by the king 
into his peace but took no further part in politics. 

The revolt of 1075 was an isolated phenomenon. The greater 
barons at least were too thoroughly aware of William's strength 
Odo of to venture on challenging him. But there was one 

Bayeux. whom William began to view with suspicion, his 

brother Odo, who was a great secular baron as well as a prelate. 
It can hardly be supposed that Odo meditated anything which 
could properly be called treason ; but he had ambitious designs 
of his own. In 1082 he gathered an armed force, intended for a 
foreign expedition, the nature of which is doubtful. Odo was 
arrested, and when he pleaded immunity as a bishop was told 
that he was arrested not as bishop but as earl of Kent ; and he 
remained in prison for the rest of the reign. 

A Scottish raid in 1079 showed how lightly Malcolm's allegi- 
ance lay upon him ; the only consequence was that the king's 
Scotland eldest son Robert marched into Scotland with an 

and Wales. army and, as a matter of course, received Malcolm's 
submission. William also suppressed disturbances in Wales, 
where the princes were prompt to take any such opportunity 
as had been offered to them by Eadric the Wild, to harry the 
marches. Welsh submissions were only more effective than 
Scottish submissions because punitive expeditions were more 
easily dispatched thither. A more formidable danger threatened 
in 1086, when Swejm's son and successor Knut revived schemes 
Denmark. for the invasion of England. The schemes were 
dissolved by the murder of Knut ; but the threat brought about 
the great gathering or moot on Sahsbury plain, preparatory to 
a general summons to arms, at which moot all the landholders 
who were present took the oath of allegiance to the king— an 

William the Conqueror T 1 5 

event which -will be further noticed elsewhere, as will the framing 
of Domesday Book, the great register which was completed in 
this same year. 

But, in fact, during the last fifteen years of his life William 
spent much more of his time on the Continent than in England. 
While Lanfranc was in his new kingdom he could wiiiiam in 
be certain that it was well watched. If he had Normandy, 
little real confidence in Odo of Bayeux, he could thoroughly 
trust the men whom he left in the most responsible positions : 
Robert of Cornwall ; Hugh the Wolf of Chester ; Hugh of Grant- 
mesnil in the midlands; and William de Warenne, husband of 
his stepdaughter, whom he had made earl of Surrey. If any 
of the other barons thought of making trouble, the Enghsh folk 
could be counted upon to answer a call to arms against them. 
WilUam's troubles were in France rather than in England. 
The duke of Normandy had quarrels with other counts and 
dukes over provinces where he claimed the suzerainty, and 
quarrels with his own suzerain, the king of France, who fomented 
the disputes of his great feudatories, and encouraged the duke's 
eldest son Robert to resist the paternal authority, to take part 
with his father's enemies, and to endeavour ineffectively to stir 
up the duke's Norman vassals against him. WiUiam despised 
his son's vacillating wiU, easy temper, and second-rate talents ; 
but he could not despise him as a stout man of his hands, for 
Robert is reputed to be the one man who unhorsed bis father 
in the field of battle, and held him at his mercy, all unconscious 
who it was that he had overthrown. There were temporary 
reconcihations, and WiUiam on his death-bed acknowledged 
Robert as his successor in Normandy ; but he nominated to the 
throne of England a much stronger and a much worse man, his 
second son William, called Rufus. William met his death when 
he was smiting Mantes, a recalcitrant town upon the Norman 
border. A stumble of his horse threw him against the pommel 
of his saddle, causing an internal injury, of which he died shortly 

We have described the course of the Conquest. The character 
of the Conqueror has been described once for all by the English 

1 1 6 The Norman Kings 

chronicler, a monk of Peterborough, who has no love for the 
grim Norman but will not refuse him his meed of admiration. 
TUe ^i'Ca. that portrait we close the division before 

Conqueror's turning to the political and social reconstruction 
which the Norman Conquest involved. 
' The king WiUiam, about whom we speak, was a very wise 
man, and very powerful ; more dignified and strong than any 
of his predecessors were. He was mild to the good men who loved 
God : and over all measure severe to the men who gainsaid his 
will. He was also of great dignity ; thrice every year he bare 
his crown, as oft as he was in England. At Easter he bare it 
in Winchester ; at Pentecost in Westminster ; at Midwinter in 
Gloucester. And there were with him all the great men over all 
England : archbishops and suffragan bishops, abbots and earls, 
thanes and knights. So also was he a very stark and cruel man, 
so that no one durst do anything against his will. He had earls 
in his bonds, who had acted against his will ; bishops he cast 
from their bishoprics, and abbots from their abbacies, and 
thanes into prison ; and at last he spared not his own brother 
named Odo. Among other things is not to be forgotten the 
good peace that he made in this land ; so that a man who had 
any confidence in himself might go over his realm, with his bosom 
full of gold unhurt. Nor durst any man slay another man, had 
he done ever so great evil to the other. In his time men had 
great hardships and very many injuries. Castles he caused to 
be made, and poor men to be greatly oppressed. The king was 
so very stark, and took from his subjects many a mark of gold, 
and more hundred pounds of silver, which he took, by right and 
with great unright, from his people for Httle need. He had fallen 
into covetousness and altogether loved greediness. He planted 
a great preserve of deer, and he laid down laws therewith ; 
that whosoever should slay the hart or hind should be blinded. 
He forbade the harts and also the boars to be killed. As greatly 
did he love the tall deer as if he were their father. He so 
ordained concerning the hares, that they should go free. His 
great men bewailed it, and the poor men murmured thereat ; but 
he was so obdurate that he recked not of the hatred of them all ; 

The Conqueror s System 1 1 7 

but they must wholly follow the king's will, if they would live, 
or have land or property, or even his peace. Alas ! that any 
man should be so proud, to raise himself up, and account himself 
above all men. May the Almighty God show mercy to his soul 
and grant him forgiveness of his sins ! ' 

III. The Conqueror's System 

In theory the Norman Conquest merely set a new dynasty 
upon the throne of England — a dynasty pledged to maintain 
the laws of the country. In actual fact it wrought The Norman 
a huge revolution, because the administration of the revolution. 
law passed into the hands of an entirely new group of persons, 
who interpreted it in the light of the institutions to which they 
themselves were accustomed ; sometimes in perfect honesty, 
sometimes by deliberate chicanery, and sometimes without much 
pretence that they were doing anything but wresting the law 
to their own purposes. 

WiUiam found in existence a system of government in which 
the central authority was weak, whereas from his point of view 
the first essential was that the central authority should be very 
nearly despotic. He found a system under which a few great 
earls were practically viceroys ; and there was no room for 
viceroys in his conception of a powerful state. In the existing 
system customs popularly interpreted were supreme, and there 
was not much work for lawyers ; popular interpretation now 
had to give way to interpretation by the trained men of law 
and by authorities who cared not at all for popular opinion, while 
the sanction of physical force, under which they acted, could in 
no wise be gainsaid. He found the land in possession of free 
owners, and in occupation mainly by pohtically free tenants, 
who owed service or some form of rent to the lord of the soil. 
He made the lords of the soil his own tenants, and they with the 
aid of the lawyers transformed the majority of the occupiers into 
unqualified serfs. These changes are summed up in the general 
statement that the Norman Conquest introduced Norman 

1 1 8 The Norman Kings 

Now an embrj^o feudalism was undoubtedl}' making its way 
in England before the Conquest, and a very complete feudalism 
Feudalism. had taken possession of the Continent ; but the 
development ^\■hich took place in England, while it ^\■as not a 
natural evolution along the old lines, departed in essential 
particulars from European feudalism. Feudalism has two 
aspects : as a S3'stem of government and a system of land tenure. 
It rests primarily on the doctrine that the whole land belongs 
to the suzerain of all, the king ; every one who holds land holds 
it from a suzerain as his tenant or vassal, upon condition in the 
upper ranks of mihtary service, and in the lower of labour ser- 
vice or its equivalent. Every one holds his land from a suzerain 
or o\-erlord, but the overlord may himself be some one else's 
vassal. The vassal is the ' man ' of the overlord, does him 
homage, takes the oath of allegiance to him, while the overlord 
takes the reciprocal oath to be the protector and the good lord 
of his vassal. In the natural course followed on the Continent 
the obedience and the protection are immediate — that is to say, 
the vassal does not necessarily owe obedience to his overlord's 
overlord ; he obeys his immediate overlord in preference to the 
superior suzerain. In this system it foUows that a single great 
feudatory may be able to bring into the field against his own 
overlord an immense number of vassals. We had a hint of some- 
thing analogous to this system, not in theory but in practice, 
when Godwin as earl of Wessex summoned the fyrd of Wessex 
to his support when it seemed possible that he might have to 
measure his strength against that of the king. The English 
earldoms created by Knut were tending to assume the character 
of fiefs, although the theory had not developed that the thegn 
held his land as a grant either from earl or from king. 

But this tendency was checked from the outset in the new 
Norman feudaUsm. As it fell out, whether it was of set purpose 
The Norman or other\vise, the new king of England allotted no 
modifloation. gj-gat province to any one man. It was actually 
the case that in Normandy itself none of the duke's vassals 
possessed a dangerously large territory, and the largest were 
in the hands of members of the reigning house. When Duke 

The Conqrierors System 1 1 9 

William made himself king of England the distribution of terri- 
tory went on similar Hnes. Great estates in the aggregate might 
be granted to one man, but they were scattered, so that in prac- 
tice it was impossible for the great holders to concentrate the 
military forces from their lands. Policy probably had something 
to do with this, but, policy apart, it may be accounted for by the 
gradual character of the Conquest and the confiscations. The 
south-east provided the first batch of confiscations, then the 
south-west and South Mercia, then the rest of Mercia and the 
north. Robert of Mortain, the king's brother, got something 
like a principality in the south-west ; but his vast estates were 
scattered all over Wessex and East Anglia. The earldoms 
bestowed by William were titles of honour, but did not carry 
with them exclusive administrative control of great provinces 
like Knut's earldoms, although exceptional powers went with 
the earldom of Chester and the bishopric of Durham on account 
of their position on the marches of Wales and Scotland. And 
this system was regularly maintained. There was no time when 
any great feudatory could hope to rebel with success against 
the Crown. The thing was only possible for a league ; and the 
Crown invariably proved stronger than any league, until baronial 
leagues assumed a national character. 

In the second place, while the disintegrating character of 
Continental Feudalism was thus checked in the English system, 
the counter-tendencies were intensified. The Con- Tenants-in'- 
queror made feudal tenure universal — that is to "'"i^^- 
say, every inch of the soil was either held in the king's own hands 
or was granted in military tenancy ; but although an immense 
quantity of territory was in this way granted to a comparatively 
small number of persons, an immense number of small estates 
were also held directly from the Crown. Every one holding 
directly from the Crown, whether Saxon or Norman, was a 
tenant-in-chief ; and though a tenant-in-chief might by the 
practice of commendation bind himself to the service of some 
greater magnate, who in return gave him protection, such 
commendation could not override his allegiance to the king ; 
it did not substitute the feudatory for the king as his overlord. 

1 20 The Normari Kings 

And again, though a feudatory might grant a portion of his 
estates to a tenant, the Crown claimed, as Crowns on the Con- 
tinent were unable to claim, that every holder of land owed allegi- 
ance first to the king, and was in personal rebellion against the 
king if he followed his lord's banner against the king's. This 
principle was emphasised at the moot of Salisbury in 1086, when 
every landholder present was required to take the direct oath 
of allegiance to the king himself. 

Again, even before the Conquest a portion of the old local 
jurisdictions had passed from the hands of the local administra- 
Earis and tive bodies into those of the great landed proprie- 
siieriffs. ^^jj-g . g^jj^^ following Norman custom, the extension 

of the personal jurisdictions was considerably increased after 
the Conquest. But the old system of local administrations 
was not abolished, and the control over them of the king's 
officers was increased. The Norman earl, count, or comes gained 
power in one way by the development of a personal jurisdiction ; 
but, on the other hand, he lost administrative control with the 
development of the shrievalty, the functions of the shire-reeve 
or sheriff, the king's officer who acted on behalf of the king. 
Though the sheriff might be a local magnate, it was not in virtue 
of that fact that he held office, but solely as a king's officer. The 
sheriff dominated the local courts ; and if the king could call 
upon the earl to summon his feudal levies to the field, he could 
call upon the sheriff to call up the fyrd or militia, the armed 
free men of the shire. Thus it was by means of the shire levies 
that the insurrection of Roger of Hereford and Ralph Guader 
was suppressed ; and the kings at all times found that this 
national force could be employed effectively against recalcitrant 

After the Conquest, as before it, the highest functions of the 
government were exercised by the king with consent of the 
The council, witan. The witan, as we have seen, was normally 
an assembly of the magnates, while on occasion it was reinforced 
by such free men as were available and chose to attend. This 
double constitution of the witan seems — though here we must 
speak with extreme caution — to reappear in the king's council. 

The Conqueror s System 121 

which is normally the magnum concilium but on occasion the 
commune concilium ; the former consisting of magnates, rein- 
forced in the latter by members of the lesser baronage ^ — that is, 
the minor tenants-in-chief. The vital change which had taken 
place lay in the fact that practically aU the magnates and a 
very large proportion of the minor tenants-in-chief were Normans, 
and the native English were virtually unrepresented. It must 
further be remarked that while in the earher stages nearly every 
magnate, lay or ecclesiastical, was a foreigner imbued with 
foreign ideas, and determined to estabUsh the foreign ascend- 
ency, very nearly all the lay magnates were also barons of 
Normandy, with separate interests in the great duchy, to which 
their interests in their new territories were often secondary. 

William had obtained the papal sanction and blessing for 
his enterprise at the instance of Hildebrand, the real director of 
papal policy long before he assumed the papal tiara The cuurch. 
himself as Gregory vii. in 1073. Hildebrand was a determined 
reformer, in whose ideals Christendom should be a Theocracy 
wherein emperors and kings should recognise the voice of the 
Church as the voice of God, and the authority of the successor 
of St. Peter as supreme. Unity and discipline within the Church 
were necessary conditions for the realisation of this ideal ; it 
was essential that the churchmen should recognise the authority 
of the Papacy and the freedom of the spiritual power from 
secular control, the unity of the ecclesiastical organisation, and 
its separation from the world over which it was divinely ap- 
pointed to rule. Nothing so effectively separated clergy from 
laity as clerical celibacy ; nothing so effectively checked indis- 
cipline as the rigid rules of the monastic orders. Nowhere were 
discipline and obedience more lax than in England, and Hilde- 
brand counted upon a reformation as the fruit of the Norman 
Conquest. William was at one with him in desiring a refor- 
mation, but he did not intend that reformation to be carried 
out at the cost of any jot or tittle of the power of the Crown. 

William set out by systematically filling ecclesiastical vacancies 
with foreigners, who would enforce in the abbacies the sterner 

' See Note v., Who were Barons? 

122 The Norman Kings 

discipline to which they had been accustomed ; to the great 
discomfort of the Enghsh monks, whose customs, harmless or 
The new otherwise, were rudely trampled upon. But the 

discipline. vigorous work of reformation and reorganisation 
began in 1070, when the camp at Ely was the only remaining centre 
of armed resistance to the Conqueror. Hitherto, though certain 
obstinately patriotic bishops had been dispossessed, Stigand 
had been allowed to retain his archbishopric. Now a council 
was held, and he was deprived of this and of other preferments 
which he had retained along with it. Other bishops and abbots 
were deposed on various grounds. Every vacated bishopric was 
given to a foreigner, and finally Lanfranc, abbot of Caen, was 
appointed to Canterbury. Not more than three English bishops 
were left. 

Lanfranc in his own day was reputed a great theologian, but he 
was much more remarkable as an ecclesiastical statesman. He 
Lanfranc. worked in perfect harmony with William through- 
out the rest of the reign, and we have seen him left in practical 
control of the realm when the king was absent in Normandy. 
It was no part of his policy as a churchman to invite the hostility 
of the secular power. He required a free hand for himself in his 
own particular sphere, the reorganisation of the Church ; and 
he knew that the best way to get it was to enjoy the king's con- 
fidence. In spite of opposition from the new Norman arch- 
bishop of York he procured the recognition of the supremacy 
of Canterbury ; which was necessary to ecclesiastical unity, and 
helped to check any tendency to a political separation between 
south and north. He initiated a series of national synods, 
summoned by the Crown and attended by lay magnates, but in 
which for practical purposes the laymen took no active share. 
In a very short time it was only in form that the synods were 
not independent legislative gatherings, and their decrees were 
promulgated as laws of the Church. 

Further, William and Lanfranc arranged between them the 
separation of the ecclesiastical and secular jurisdictions. Hitherto 
ecclesiastical law had been forced upon laymen only in the 
shire courts, where ealdormen and bishops sat together. 

The Conqueror s System 1 2 3 

Ecclesiastical courts for the enforcement of ecclesiastical law 

were now, probably about 1076, entirely separated from the lay 

courts, and to them alone were clerics amenable. _ 


Out of this, stormy controA'ersy was to arise later of jurisdio- 
between Church and State. But while the Church 
and the Crown were working in harmony, there was no appear- 
ance of the Crown's authority being endangered. The danger 
of a divided sovereignty arises only when the authorities find 
themselves in direct antagonism. 

But if Lanfranc sought and obtained a great measure of inde- 
pendent spiritual authority, he was at one with the king in show- 
ing no disposition to permit encroachments on the part of Rome. 
Papal demands for the recognition of the sovereignty of the 
Holy See were met with a poHte but emphatic negative. The 
king would pay the same loyal allegiance to Rome as had been 
paid by his predecessors on the throne — the sainted Edward, 
and honoured sons of the Church such as Knut. crown and 
But he would admit no new obligations ; and in ^^.paoy. 
taking this hue William had the whole-hearted support of his 
archbishop. The legal supremacy of the Crown was affirmed in 
three principles. First, no pope should be recognised in England, 
and no papal letters should be received, except ^\ith the sanction 
of the Crown — a by no means extravagant claim in days ^\•hen 
the papal throne itself was sometimes in dispute and the authority 
of one pope was repudiated by another. The second principle 
required the royal assent to give validity within the realm to 
the decrees of the national synod ; and the third required the 
royal assent to the excommunication of any of the king's servants. 

Norman bishops were much more active than their Saxon 
predecessors ; more vigorous in the enforcement of discipline, 
more systematic in their efforts after organisation. The 
They transferred their seats to the most important "oiiasterieB. 
towns in their dioceses, and gave those towns a new importance. 
Norman abbots raised the standards of monastic discipline, not 
without occasional displays of unwarranted severity and super- 
fluous violence. New monasteries sprang up under the stricter 
Benedictine rules ; more serious efforts were made to foster learn- 

124 The Norvian Kings 

ing among their inhabitants ; the secular canons of the cathedrals 
gave way in great part to monastic bodies. It was a time of 
stress for the churchmen ; but the Church was vitalised, and in 
the black days of the anarchy of Stephen it was the Church alone 
which maintained some standard of decency, some gleams of 
idealism when all hell seemed to have been let loose upon the 
unhappy land. 

While as a general principle the Conqueror held to the theory 
that no revolution was being introduced in the laws and customs 
of his new kingdom, there were certain respects in which inno- 
vation was obvious and undeniable. One law at least made 
definite distinction between Norman and Englishman. The 
Presentation Norman lord oppressed the English peasantry, 
of Engiishry. ^^^ ^j^g peasantry took their revenge by murder- 
ing Norman lords and their retainers whenever opportunity 
offered. They stood by each other, and it was exceedingly 
difficult to discover the perpetrators of these crimes. Therefore 
it was ordained that whenever a Norman should be found slain, 
and the slayer could not be identified, the hundred in which the 
murder had been committed should be heavily fined. The penalty 
was not imposed when the person slain was an Englishman. 
But by the time that a hundred years had passed, English and 
Normans had become so far intermixed that it was assumed 
that a murdered person had Norman blood in his veins, and 
therefore counted as a Norman, unless he was a member of the 
class which had then fallen into the definitely servile status, the 
class of villeins. It was assumed with equal confidence that 
no villein could be of Norman blood. The second innovation was 
Forest lawB. in the Conqueror's forest laws. There were no 
forest laws in England before the Conquest, in spite of a spurious 
edict which the Normans attributed to Knut. The wild beasts 
and birds were the legitimate prey of the peasant as well as of 
the thegn or the ealdorman. But William, with that passionate 
addiction to the chase which was shared by his descendants, 
appropriated vast tracts of land, notably the New Forest in 
Hampshire, as royal forests ; and within their boundaries the 
most merciless penalties were attached to the pursuit and 

The Population 125 

destruction of game of any sort. It was better for a man to slay 
the king's lieges than the king's deer, although it was absolutely 
impossible to develop in the Enghshman any doubt whatever 
that he had a moral right to kill as much game as he chose. 
The forest laws were felt as the most tyrannical incident of the 
Conquest, and the Norman lords applied corresponding prin- 
ciples in their own demesnes. The sense of the iniquity of the 
law was not confined to the peasantry. The churchmen bitterly 
condemned the greed which swept away villages and even 
churches in order to make the New Forest one vast hunting 
ground ; and although the depopulation and devastation were 
probably much less than the declamations of the chroniclers 
would lead us to believe, popular opinion pointed to the misfor- 
tunes of the royal family in the New Forest as the direct ven- 
geance of heaven for the Conqueror's crime. For Richard, the 
most promising of William's sons, was there killed by an accident 
of the chase, and a like fate befell William Rufus. 

IV. The Population 

The grand characteristic of the Normans, their distinctive 
genius among the peoples who have moulded history, has not 
in high intellectual qualities but in their appreciation Norman 
of method, their systematic if rigid and prosaic "letiiod. 
treatment of the problems of government. The Englishman 
loved law in the sense that he hated innovations upon time- 
honoured practice and breaches of the conventions which he 
recognised ; but the Norman was bom with the spirit of the 
lawyer who wishes to reduce everything to rule and to keep the 
letter of the rule ; he was a lover of formulae, and was dis- 
satisfied without accurate data upon which his formulee might 
be based. The Conqueror's rule was harsh and heavy, but he 
meant it to be even-handed. He wanted to extract wealth from 
his new dominion, but he wanted to know accurately how much 
he could extract, what was its real taxable capacity. Domesday 
It was primarily for this purpose that at the end ^°°^- 
of his reign he instituted that great survey which is recorded 

126 The Norman Kings 

in Domesday Book and the supplementary documents. The 
record is invaluable, but it was not made for the purpose of 
enhghtening posterity ; consequently there is much in it which 
posterity, seeking to interpret it in the hght of preconceptions, 
finds obscure and perhaps misleading. 

Setting aside the boroughs for the present, we find that the 
whole of the country which the survey covered — ^in effect it 
hardly touched Northumbria — was divided at the time of the 
The manor. Conquest into estates, which the Normans called 
manors. Every holding is either itself a manor or forms part of 
a manor. Of these manors a very large proportion coincide 
with townships, which in the Norman phraseology have become 
villas or vills ; and hence it used to be very generally assumed 
that the manor and the township were identical. But this 
identification breaks down. There were manors which included 
more than one vill, manors which included holdings in several 
vills, vills with holdings attached to several manors. There 
were manors which consisted of no more than a normal peasant 
holding of thirty acres ; whereas in the manor of Leominster 
there were eighty hides, or nearly a thousand acres, and in that 
of Taunton more than fifty-four hides. The holdings in one 
manor are held ' of ' or ' under ' one lord ; but it is possible, 
though unusual, for the holdings in one vill to be held of a dozen 
different lords. It follows that manor and vill are not to be 
identified. The vill is a topographical unit, the group of holdings 
within a defined area ; the manor is a unit of a different kind, an 
estate in which one lord exercises authority. The important 
point for the compilers of Domesday, whose object was fiscal, 
was that the manor was a unit for purposes of taxation. The 
gelA or tax for the whole of it was collected not from the in- 
dividual holders, but all together at the manor-house or hall. 

The occupants of the soil are divided into three main groups : 
(i) villani, bordarii, and cotarii ; (2) servi ; (3) liberi homines and 
Thegroupsof soche manni — the last group evidently standing at 
cultivators, ^j^g ^op of the scale and the second at the bottom. 
The top group are free, the bottom group are serfs, while the 
first group, though they are clearly not slaves, are not free in the 

The Population 127 

same sense as the top group ; at a later stage we shall find that 
they have fallen into a definitely servile position. But when 
that stage is reached the servus, as distinct from the villanus, 
has disappeared. And there is reason to suppose that the dis- 
tinction drawn in Domesday turns not upon pohtical but upon 
fiscal freedom. The free group, though they pay their geld 
through the lord, are personally responsible ; but the lord is 
responsible for his villani as well as for his serfs. It is not 
difficult to see how this distinction would, under the conditions 
of the Conquest, lead to the enforcement of claims on the part 
of the lord against the villanus, for his own security, which it 
would be extremely difficult for the peasant to resist, and which 
would rapidly pass into recognised legal rights. Similar claims 
would not, and could not, be enforced against the man who, being 
personally responsible to the State authorities for the payment 
of his geld, would be recognised by them as the proprietor of 
his land. 

There is no hard and fast line between the classes as registered 
in Domesday, corresponding to the conditions upon which in- 
dividuals held their lands, or to the size of their viiiein and 
holdings. Occupiers may have to render service **®^ ™*"' 
to their lords in the shape of field work or dues in the shape of 
produce, or to pay a money equivalent for either or both ; but the 
villanus may have no services, and the free man may have ser- 
vices. The villanus may have ? whole hide, the free man may 
have no more than a virgate or quarter hide. The free man may, 
but need not, have the right of transferring himself from one 
lord to another, along with his holding. Whether the villanus 
is bound to the soil, forbidden to leave his holding without his 
lord's permission, is an open question at this stage ; at a later 
stage there is no doubt that he is bound to the soil, terrae as- 
criptus ; but as yet it seems probable that as a rule the ascriptio 
has no technical legal sanction, though it is practically effective, 
because the villein who threw up his holding would become a 
landless man. Again it is easy to see how readily the practical 
would pass into the technical ascriptio, which would itself 
become the technical distinction between bond and free. Thus 

12 8 The Norman Kings 

the effect of the Norman Conquest was not the immediate trans- 
lation of an immense number of free men into serfs ; but a period 
of stress and depression under a change of masters would effect 
the transformation in no very long time. Comparative pro- 
sperity might enable the villanus to pass into the distinctively 
free class, whereas depression would drive members of the free 
class into the viUeinage which was turning into serfdom. And 
the helplessness of the villein would make it impossible for him 
to offer effective resistance to the process. 

Not invariably, but nearly always, there were in each vil] 
demesne lands in the occupation of the lord, worked partly by 

his own menials, the landless men of whom he was 
and mesne master, partly by the services of the tenants. The 

immediate lord might be either the king himself or 
a tenant-in-chief, or a mesne tenant, a lord who held of a superior 
lord ; though however many or few the steps might be, all the 
land was held ultimately of the king. The thegn is not to be 
identified with the tenant-in-chief. Primarily the man who 
held as much as five hides of land was entitled to thegnhood, 
and was perhaps obhged to be a thegn. Thegnhood carried 
with it the obligation to attend the military levy with horse 
and armour ; it descended to the sons, not only to the eldest 
son, and therefore it did not follow that the thegn actually pos- 
sessed five hides himself ; it would seem that a group of brothers 
might all be thegns, sharing between them the obligations of thegn- 
hood. But practically the name of thegnhood disappears, and 
presently we find in rough correspondence with it the knight's 
fee, the holding which entails upon the owner the duty of taking 
the field as a knight. Broadly speaking, before the Conquest the 
lords of the manors were the thegns ; but after the Conquest 
it was rarely that anybody held only one manor ; and if the lord 
of one manor was not actually lord of several, he was often not 
a tenant-in-chief but a mesne tenant, holding of some one who 
came between him and the king. 

The picture that we get, then, shows us most of the country 
after the forfeitures divided among sundry great magnates, 
among whom are included great monastic establishments, each 

The Population 129 

of them holding a considerable number of manors, deriving 
direct revenue from the demesne lands within the manors and 
from the dues paid by the tenants, as well as an Survey, 
equivalent of revenue in the services which the tenants were 
bound to render. Of the manors which these magnates owned 
many were held by their grantees, owing them feudal service 
and the fees and fines estabhshed by feudal law. The rest was 
held partly by the king himself as estates of the Crown, in which 
there was no lord but the king, and partly in small estates of one 
or more manors by lesser tenants-in-chief, who held of the king 
directly. But very much the greater portion of the soil was in 
the occupation of the small holders, the great majority of the 
holdings being in the hands of the ' villein ' group, including 
therein the ' bordars ' and ' cottars ' — names generally asso- 
ciated with holdings of less than fifteen acres — the name of 
viUanus being both generic and also specifically appropriated 
to the larger holders among the genus. Over aU these the lords 
exercised an increasing dominion ; but they were as yet nomin- 
ally free men, with the right of attending the folk moots. On 
the other hand, most of them owed service to their lords, the 
amount of service varying in proportion to the size of the hold- 
ing ; commonly two days' work in a week or less, besides ' boon 
work ' or special extra work at particular seasons. Besides 
these there were the admittedly free ^ men, many, if The villager. 
not all, of whom could change their lords at will ; in which case 
the services and rent went to the new lord, and with them the 
tenant's claim to his protection. The peasant, it would appear, 
cannot be ousted from his holding unless he fails to render the 
SMTvdce and to pay the dues estabhshed. He can get very httle 
protection against his own lord's oppression, but the lord in his 
own interest will protect him against other maltreatment. 

The Ufe of the vast majority of the population is still the fife 
of villagers engaged in agriculture on the open-field system, 
with the village as their centre of social Hfe. The village is still 
in the main self-supporting ; the smaller holders eke out their 
subsistence by serving for hire ; and among their numbers are 

' See Note iv. , Freeholders. 
Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. I. I 

1 30 The Norman Kings 

generally to be found the local artisans, smiths, carpenters, tilers, 
cobblers, and the like. There is little possibility of saving or 
accumulating, because for the most part all that the villager 
produces is of a perishable character ; and when he produces 
more of anything than he wants for his own household he barters 
it, usually for something equally perishable. There is not as yet 
a circulation of coin sufficient to encourage the attempt to 
accumulate wealth in that durable form, especially while there is 
little security against the rapacity of the lord and the lord's 
underlings. In good seasons the folk are tolerably comfortable, 
but bad harvests involve scarcity and suffering, perhaps down- 
right famine. There are, if we may so express it, no ' sanitary 
conditions ' ; sickness and pestilences are easily generated. 

Above the peasantry, the gentry, the owners of substantial 
manors, live in comparative luxury, with greater abundance but 
The gentry, not much greater refinement — shifting probably 
with the seasons from one manor-house to another as the stores 
in each become exhausted. Since works of imagination have 
probably bred in our minds a vague idea that the gentry lived 
in stone castles, it is as well to realise that the Norman manor- 
house was really a rather superior farmstead — a large living- 
room or hall, with sleeping apartments and other offices attached 
to it — not a fortress at all. The stone ' keep,' constructed for 
military purposes, was raised only by the king's order or by the 
king's leave for the purpose of keeping the country under military 
control, not to enable one baron to wage war against another. 
Private wars were rigorously repressed ; the king's lieges were 
secured against violence from any but their own lords, except 
when the king was incompetent like Stephen, or played the 
tjnrant himself hke William 11. 

The village, however, was not completely self-sufficing. There 
were goods of which its members stood in occasional need, and 
Markets. there were goods of which they had superfluity, 

which they wished to barter for those in which they were lacking. 
But sale and barter were not legally valid unless they were carried 
out under legal conditions duly witnessed. Hence had arisen 
the market town, the centre where markets were held, in which 

The Population 131 

the conditions of sale and barter could be duly observed. The 
exaction of market tolls not only paid the necessary expenses, 
but provided revenue for the lord or lords within whose jurisdic- 
tion the market lay. The estabMshment of a market developed 
the town, and of itself created resistance to the development of 
another market which would compete with it. But otherwise 
the market town was merely an expanded vill or aggregate of 
vills, a community which was only accidentally and at intervals 
anything but purely agricultural. Only in the boroughs was 
town life beginning to develop. 

The borough as we find it in Domesday is a unit which has 
been separated for administrative purposes from the ordinary 
division of the shire into hundreds; it is treated Thetorough. 
as a sort of speciahsed hundred. Broadly speaking, there is in 
each shire one borough ; occasionally there is more than one, 
here and there there is none, but the exceptions are rare. Practi- 
cally the borough is the county town, of which it may be said 
almost with certainty that it acquired its position from being 
constituted a garrison town or royal fortress during the century 
after the accession of King Alfred. What led to the selection 
of these particular sites is another question ; in some cases we 
may guess that strategic considerations predominated ; in others 
that the particular place had already attained a local import- 
ance, which caused special measures to be taken for its security. 
It is common to find several magnates holding houses in one 
borough ; houses which for other purposes are said to 'he in ' 
manors which are geographically a long way off ; houses which 
were presumably held by those magnates as quarters for their 
contribution to the garrison. Within the radius of the borough, 
very precisely measured, the special king's peace was main- 
tained, the regulations which applied to the royal precincts 
■making things which were illegal elsewhere more illegal, liable 
to more serious penalty ; and making illegal things which else- 
where might be permissible. In other words, there was greatly 
increased security for person and property, not only against 
extraneous attack, but also against internal disorder. 

It was a matter of course that such places should enjoy the 

132 The Norman Kings 

privileges of market towns in an intensified degree, that they 
should attract to themselves in an intensified degree whatever 
trade there was, and that trade within them should become more 
highly organised. Their character as trade centres developed, 
while their character as military centres faded, as the nation 
fell away from the mihtarism which had been forced upon 
Edward the Elder and his sons. Trade was still an accretion, 
something added to the normally agricultural character of every 
community, large or small ; but it had ceased to be an in- 
significant accretion. Urban life and trade organisation had 
already at the time of the Conquest passed out of the purely 
embryonic stage. The Danes, a more gain-loving folk than the 
Angles, and more enterprising, had increased the English com- 
mercial activity. The Normans, with more inclusive ideas as 
to the things necessary to make Hfe tolerable, provided a new 
market for foreign traders ; and the presence of foreign traders 
gave another stimulus to commerce, although a long time was 
still to pass before England was to become vigorously com- 
mercial and the regulation of trade highly organised. 

V. William Rufus, 1087-1100 

Our detailed accounts of the Conqueror's death-bed are derived 
from Ordericus VitaUs, who was an English monk in the Norman 
The monastery of St. Evroul, and from William of 

succession. Jumieges ; the latter a contemporary, and the former 
very nearly so. As they coincide in their main features they are 
probably substantially correct, if we make some allowance for the 
ecclesiastical bias of both the monks and for the Enghsh predi- 
lections of Orderic. WiUiam, they declare, repented of the 
crimes which he had committed, and, not without reluctance, 
gave order for the pardon and release of sundry political prisoners. 
It does not appear, however, in spite of some ambiguity in the 
report, that he doubted the legitimacy of his title to the throne 
of England, though admitting that it did not come to him by 
hereditary right. Hereditary right could really hardly be said 
to come into play. For fifty years before the Conquest, only 

William Rufus 133 

one out of five kings had held the throne in right of descent 
from the house of Cerdic. On his death the country had ignored 
the claims of the royal house, and had chosen its king on purely 
personal grounds. If the Aetheling had been chosen in suc- 
cession to the Confessor, William might have found it difficult 
to convince himself that he was entitled to challenge the election. 
When Harold was elected he had no such difficult}' ; and when 
he had himself dispossessed the ' perjured usurper ' he found it 
easy to ignore the reversion of the witan to the Aetheling, and 
to accept the crown of England when it was offered to him 
by the Aetheling himself. William was undoubtedly conscious 
that the methods by which he had compassed and secured the 
crown had been accompanied by violence and injustice, but that 
would not have involved the admission that his title itself was 

Nor can it be supposed that he would have admitted any 
doubt that the crown of England now belonged to his own 
offspring by hereditary right, or that it lay with William 11. 
him to dispose of the English inheritance. He recognised that 
Normandy must go to Robert, but it is quite clear that he 
nominated WiUiam as his successor in England ; in effect re- 
ferring to Lanfranc and William between them the question how 
that succession could be best secured. The chosen son left his 
father's bedside to hurry to England, where Lanfranc at once pro- 
ceeded to his coronation, assuming that his title was good, and 
apparently without any formal election. The arrangement was 
not satisfactory to the Norman baronage. All the bigger men 
among them had fiefs both in Normandy and in England. 
Holding of two suzerains whose interests were extremely Hkely 
to clash, they were likely to find the position awkward. This 
gave them a technical warrant for objecting, while a different 
reason probably counted actually in their minds for more. 
WiUiam was strong, fierce, masterful ; Robert was ' tractable ' ; 
in other words an overlord whom they could practically ignore ; 
one therefore whom they desired. Some six months after the 
Conqueror's death three-fourths of the barons were in revolt, 
headed by the king's uncles, Robert of Cornwall and Odo of 

134 The Norman Kings 

Bayeux, the latter of whom had been set at hberty on the old 

king's death. 

Lanfranc, the clergy, and the royal garrisons in the castled 

towns stood by the king ; but of the barons hardly any save 

WilHam de Warenne, earl of Surrey, whose wife 
tions was the Conqueror's stepdaughter, and Hugh of 

Chester. Nevertheless, rebellion proved futile. 
The plan of raising simultaneous insurrections all over the country 
was useless, when the king was a captain who understood the 
military wisdom of concentration. The local garrisons could 
hold out against local insurgents. The king struck in the one 
really dangerous quarter, Kent, the earldom of Odo, where other- 
wise Robert might have found a personal footing. The king 
summoned the fyrds of the shires round London, proclaiming 
that good laws should be enforced, and the Conqueror's harsh 
laws repealed or mitigated. The fyrds responded to the 
summons, Odo was crushed, an expedition from Normandy 
was beaten off, and the rest of the rebels made haste to return 
to their allegiance on promise of pardon. When it was all over 
WilUam entirely declined to carry out his promises ; and a few 
months later, in May 1089, Lanfranc died. There was no one 
left to act in the pubHc interest or to restrain the king from 
following his own devices. No man troubled to consider any 
interests but his own. 

When Lanfranc was gone, Rufus found not a political guide 
but a financial adviser after his own heart, in the person of 
Ranuiph Ranulph Flambard, a cleric, whom he made his 

HamDard. chaplain and treasurer. Ranulph filled the king's 
coffers. The Conqueror, by levying heavy danegelds, had 
chastised the people with whips ; Ranulph chastised them with 
scorpions, extracting a still heavier toll from the tax. But if 
Rufus ground the faces of the people, his hand fell still more 
heavily upon the barons and upon the Church. Every feudal 
claim of the suzerain was strained to the utmost. When a fief 
fell vacant a huge fine was levied from the successor. The rights 
of wardship over minors and of control over the marriages of 
vassals were employed as means of extortion, and the customary 

William Rufus 135 

limitations upon them were ignored. The Church was treated 
in the same fashion. The king seized into his own hands the 
revenues of the archbishop of Canterbury, for years abstaining 
from the appointment of any successor to Lanfranc ; and he 
dealt in like manner with every bishopric and Rufus. 
abbacy, instead of appointing administrators of the revenues 
to act during the period of vacancy. A mighty man of his 
hands himself, he gathered to his court every hard fighting 
adventurer whose deeds of prowess won his admiration. He 
and his comrades-in-arms tyrannised mercilessly wheresoever 
they went, so that the approach of the king and his train was 
a signal for hasty flight ; nevertheless, he kept tyranny and 
law-breaking as the prerogative of himself and his favourites. 
Other law-breakers were punished with a heavy hand. After 
1088 the baronage in England ventured on no other insurrection 
until 1095, when, to his own destruction and that of his con- 
federates, Robert Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, with other 
northern barons again attempted to defy the king. On this 
occasion also William struck hard and struck decisively before 
any extensive rebellion could make head. An example was 
made of some of the conspirators, which impressed all men with 
the danger of challenging the Red King. 

If the Norman barons desired for reasons of their own that 
Normandy and England should be under the suzerainty of one 
man, their view was shared by William Rufus, but Robert and 
with an important variation in its application. Henry. 
The king of England wanted to control Normandy. There was 
plenty of excuse. The duke exercised no control at all. If he 
did go campaigning against the barons who ignored his authority, 
he inherited enough miUtary talent from his father to be the 
probable victor ; but he turned his victories to no account, and 
alternated capriciously in his treatment of enemies between a 
reckless generosity and a somewhat wanton cruelty. The 
Conqueror's third living son Henry, who alone had been born 
in England after his father was king, and very soon after his 
mother's coronation, was playing for his own hand. Had he 
been a little older, it is quite possible that he would have chal- 

I 36 The Norman Kings 

lenged William's succession, but at nineteen he could not venture 
to do so. All that had been left to him by his father was a sum 
of money, though his mother Matilda left him her English estates. 
Henry bought from Robert the richest province of Normandy, 
the Cotentin ; and he leagued himself with a powerful family, 
the Montgomeries. Roger Montgomery, the father, was at this 
time earl of the palatine county of Shrewsbury on the Welsh 
march. One of his sons, Robert of Belleme, held large estates 
on the borders of Normandy. It would seem that with designs 
against Duke Robert, Henry and Belleme sought the good-will 
of Rufus, for which t-hey were attacked by Robert. Rufus, how- 
ever, contemptuous of the help which he might get from his 
younger brother, seized his English lands, and then opened an 
attack upon Robert in the end of 1090 by occup3dng castles in 
the north-east of Normandy. Next year, having bought off 
Philip of France, who was coming to the aid of Robert, he in- 
vaded Normandy and made terms with the duke, the pair pro- 
ceeding to seize and divide the lordships which Robert had ceded 
to Henry. The three brothers were then formally reconciled. 

But meanwhile Malcolm of Scotland began raiding the border. 
This took William back to England, and his brothers along with 
Malcolm him. They marched into Scotland, but Malcolm 

canmore. ^g^g always ready to come to terms when the king 
of England advanced against him in force, and Rufus contented 
himself with a form of submission by which Malcolm promised 
the same obedience that he had paid to the Conqueror. In 
1092, however, Rufus seized Carlisle, which had been held by the 
kings of Scots for the last hundred and fifty years. Malcolm's 
protests were disregarded, and when he again raided the north 
he was caught in an ambush and killed at Alnwick by the same 
Robert Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, who two years later 
revolted against Rufus as already related. 

Malcolm's death brought trouble in Scotland. He had been 
a shrewd and capable ruler, and his wife Margaret had not only 
The Scots done much for the Church in Scotland, but had 
crown. used her very great influence with the king to 

develop the extension of English ideas and customs in the already 

William Ru/ics 137 

partly Anglicised lowlands. But these Anglicising tendencies 
were resented in the north and the west, which so far as they 
were not Celtic were Norse. Duncan, Malcolm's one son by a 
previous marriage, was a hostage in England ; so when Margaret 
died a few days after her husband, the Celtic and Norse influences 
set aside the five sons of Malcolm and Margaret, and Malcolm's 
. brother Donalbane was made king. Donalbane, as the repre- 
sentative of the Celts, made alliance with Magnus, king of 
Norway. In view of the possibility that this would mean a 
revival of the old alliance of Scots and Norsemen against Eng- 
land, Rufus determined to eject Donalbane in favour of Duncan, 
whom he himself held in the hollow of his hand. The half 
Norman force which followed Duncan into Scotland had no 
difficulty in routing Donalbane's forces and making Duncan 
king. Duncan however was killed, whereupon Donalbane made 
terms with his eldest nephew Eadmund, and reigned till 1097, 
when the Anglicising party revolted and set on the throne 
Eadgar, Malcolm's next son. Donalbane's eyes were put out, 
and Eadgar, who had been set on the throne by Norman and 
English help, reigned avowedly as a vassal of England until 1107. 
The accession of Eadgar ^ permanently estabhshed the dynasty 
of Malcolm Canmore, and secured the political predominance of 
the Anglicised lowlands in the kingdom of Scotland. 

Wilham's intervention in Scottish affairs after 1092 was only 
indirect. He found for himself fuU occupation in other matters. 
Early in 1093 he fell ill. WilUam in health feared wiiiiamand 
not God, neither regarded man — his monstrous *•** Church, 
blasphemies and profanities were proverbial — but when he was 
face to face with death he was seized with panic. He would 
make restitution for his sins and strike a bargain with the 
Almighty. He was ready to promise anything and everything 
in the shape of reformation. Above all, he would desist from 
his robbery of the Church, and would appoint to the arch- 
bishopric of Canterbury, vacant now for four years, the holiest 
of men, Ansehn, the abbot of Bee, who happened at the moment 
to be in England. Consecration was forced upon the reluctant 

' See Genealogies, vi., Scottish Dynasties (i). 

138 The Norman Kings 

saint, who even then refused to accept office until three condi- 
tions had been accepted. He was to be acknowledged as the 
king's guide and counsellor, all the lands held by Lanfranc as 
archbishop were to be restored, and he was to remain in obedience 
to Pope Urban 11. For at this moment Christendom was divided. 
The long struggle between the authority of the Papacy and the 
authority of the empire, initiated by Pope Gregory vii. and the 
emperor Henry iv., was in progress. The emperor had nominated 
a pope of his own, while Urban was the pope of the ecclesiastical 
party. William's promises satisfied Anselm's scruples, and he 
became archbishop, though not without grave misgivings. 

William's professions of repentance were immediately followed 
by his recovery, and he shed his repentance from the moment 
Anaeim \h'd.\. the fear of imminent death departed from him. 

arcubishop. gy ^j^g beginning of 1094 there was a rupture with 
Robert of Normandy, and the king invaded his brother's terri- 
tory. To the royal demands for money, Anselm was induced 
reluctantly to respond by an offer which the king rejected as 
insufficient ; whereupon Anselm distributed the money, and 
refused to renew the offer when a fresh demand was made. 
When the archbishop remonstrated at the king's retention of 
Church revenues, William only scoffed. It was already evident 
that there was little chance of peace between the two. Anselm, 
very unlike his politic predecessor, was completely unworldly, 
with none of the guile of the serpent ; but where his conscience 
was concerned he was the most immovable of men. 

William went off to his Norman war, in the course of which 
he raised money by an ingenious expedient. He ordered a great 
levy of ten thousand men to be gathered for service in Nor- 
mandy, each man bringing ten shillings for expenses. When 
they were assembled their money was collected and they were 
dismissed. In the next year William was back in England, 
and at the latter end of it he dealt with the rebeUion of Robert 
Quarrel of Mowbray. It was perhaps of more importance 
wiuiamand that this year saw the first positive encounter 
between the king and the archbishop, and the 
archbishop had the best of it. 

William Rufus 139 

Anselm desired to go to Rome to obtain tiie pallium from 
the Pope. William replied that no pope was to be recognised 
without his authority. Anselm refused to admit that there was 
any open question. The matter was referred to the council of 
the realm. If the king had fought on the direct issue that the 
authority which recognised Urban could not override his own 
authority in his own kingdom, he might have won. But he 
chose to threaten the archbishop and those who sided with him ; 
whereupon the barons with practical unanimity declared for 
Anselm. The bishops, for reasons of their own, were on the 
king's side. But, besides the barons, popular sentiment was 
wholly in Anselm's favour ; evidently in a quarrel with the 
barons Wilham would not, as in the past, be able to count 
on the popular levies. So William tried in effect to bribe Pope 
Urban into deposing Anselm ; the reward was to be his recog- 
nition in England as Pope. But the diplomatic Italian pro- 
cured his own recognition first, and then declined to depose the 
archbishop. Rufus found himself obliged to go through a form 
of reconciUation. 

It was just at this time that a general council of the Church 
was held at Clermont, when two decrees of first-rate importance 
were issued. The one dealt with the vexed question The councu 
of lay investitures. Gregory vii. had asserted the of Clermont, 
principle that the secular power ought to have neither hand nor 
voice in nominating and consecrating to ecclesiastical appoint- 
ments. The emperor had claimed the right of making such 
appointments at his own will. Gregory had in practice given 
way so far as the Conqueror was concerned, because he knew 
that that prince would not abuse his powers. Policy had in- 
duced him to yield also in the case of Philip of France, though 
against the emperor he had fought to the bitter end. But in 
France and in England in 1095 the attitude of the Crown was 
not what it had been twenty years earlier. The council of Cler- 
mont laid it down that the Crown had no voice in ecclesiastical 
elections, and no right to fealty in respect of ecclesiastical land, 
although a cleric might do homage in respect of lands which 
did not pertain to the Church. The second decree was that 

140 The Norman Kings 

which opened the crasading era, and inaugurated the first 

England was never very deeply influenced by the crusades. 
Even the crusades of Richard Cceur de Lion and Richard of 
The crusade Cornwall drew off httle more than what might be 
and the duke, called the superfluous fighting men among the 
aristocracy. From the beginning there was a fairly constant 
trickle of fighting pilgrims to the Holy Land. Genuine piety, 
superstition, or a mere love of military adventure, kept the small 
stream flowing, but it was never a big stream. Only at two 
moments was the course of English affairs directly influenced 
by it — now, when Duke Robert went on crusade, and again 
nearly a hundred years later in the days of King Richard i. In 
order to go, Robert pawned his duchy to his brother for ten 
thousand marks, and before he got back his younger brother 
Henry had secured the succession. Rufus raised the money for 
his part in this transaction by imposing a double danegeld and a 
demand for a feudal aid from the tenants-in-chief at the same 
time, besides extorting large sums from the clergy. The clergy 
protested that they could not pay except by crushing the 
peasants, and were met by the scoffing reply : ' Have you not 
chests of gold and silver stuffed with the bones of dead men ? ' 
Seeing what the words portended, they stripped shrines and 
crucifixes, and melted down the sacred vessels to fill the royal 

Very grandiose ideas of foreign conquest are attributed to 
the Red King, when he had Normandy in his hands, and his 
Anseim brother well out of the way. The establishment of 

leaves King Eadgar in Scotland satisfied him so far as 

that country was concerned ; but he turned to 
attempt the subjugation of Wales, and there he found that 
mountain campaigning was exceedingly unprofitable. Nothing 
practical was effected, and the irritated king turned upon 
Anseim with demands for a more efficient contingent of knights 
than the archbishop had provided for the Welsh war. Anseim 
ignored the demand, but asked leave to go to Rome. He had 
in fact come to the conclusion that he was doing no good in 

Henry I. 141 

England. He was powerless to check the king's tyranny, to 
procure the filling up of ecclesiastical vacancies, or to hold the 
general synods through which Lanfranc had conducted the 
regulation of the Church. His demand to leave the country 
was refused, persistently repeated, and finally granted, with 
the warning that the lands of Canterbury would be forfeited by 
feudal law if he went ; whereupon, regardless of merely material 
considerations, the archbishop departed. It can hardly be 
questioned that the Conqueror in like circumstances would have 
asserted the royal authority as uncompromisingly as did Rufus 
himself ; but under the Conqueror such a question would never 
have arisen. Not the legitimate powers of the Crown judiciously 
and firmly exercised, but the abuse of those powers for evil pur- 
poses, was at the bottom of the quarrel. 

Rufus was dead before England again saw the face of her arch- 
bishop. As acting duke of Normandy he led vigorous cam- 
paigns in the border territories of Maine, and the TUe end of 
French Vexin ; if a longer time had been allowed tiie Red King, 
him he might have subjugated them completely. In iioo the 
duke of Aquitaine — the south-western quarter of France — was on 
the verge of pawning his duchy to him, as Robert had done, in 
order to go crusading ; and if the plan had been carried out 
William would have been incomparably the greatest potentate 
in France. But it was not to be. William one August day went 
out with his train a-hunting in the New Forest. A few hours 
later he was lying dead on the ground pierced by the arrow, as 
men said, of Walter Tyrrel, which may or may not have glanced 
from, a tree ; and his brother Henry, one of the hunting-party, 
was riding hard for Winchester to seize the royal treasure and 
the crown of England. 

VI. Henry i., 1100-1135 

The chroniclers teU how the Conqueror on his death-bed left 
to his youngest son no lands but only a sum of money, and a 
prophecy — that in course of time he would be lord of the lands 
of both his brothers, and a mightier prince than either of them. 

142 The Norman Kings 

This may have been an imaginative touch added by Orderic 
after the prophecy had already been fulfilled. But the Con- 
Henry queror was a keen judge of men ; he knew the in- 
Beaucierc. efficiency of Robert, he must have known the vices of 
William ; and though Henry was only nineteen at the time his 
character was already developed. After full allowance has been 
made for the flattering exaggerations of William of Malmesbury, 
we can still remain assured that the Conqueror's youngest son 
had enjoyed an intellectual training quite exceptional in his 
own day, a training which earned him his nickname of Beauclerc, 
a training which did in fact give him a touch of that quality 
which in the Middle Ages we expect to find in clerical, rather 
than in secular, politicians. No one would suggest that he was 
a man of high moral ideals, or that he ever dreamed of allowing 
moral ideals to stand in the way of his own interest. But he 
never suffered his passions to get the better of his intelligence. 
He held his temper under complete control. He had no hesi- 
tation in breaking faith when it suited him, but he knew the 
disadvantages of a reputation for breaking faith, and he avoided 
giving pledges unless he expected at the time to be able to keep 
them, or foresaw technical excuses for breaking them. Rufus 
had dominated the barons by sheer brute force and superior 
soldiership, but they learned to be more afraid of Henry's brains 
than even of the Red King's rage. He knew that popular 
loyalty was the strongest safeguard against baronial disloyalty, 
and that large revenues can only be drawn from a prosperous 
community ; for those reasons he chose to earn his highest title, 
' The Lion of Justice.' It may be an error to attribute to him 
great qualities of constructive statesmanship, but it is hardly 
possible to doubt that he laid the foundations upon which his 
grandson and namesake built. 

When Rufus lay dead in the New Forest, Duke Robert was 
still dallying in Italy on his way home from Palestine, where 

he had been offered and had refused the crown of 

secures the Jerusalem. Henry, according to the ideas of the 
^^°^ ' time, had a distinct claim, though not an inde- 

feasible title, to the English succession in the fact that he was 

Henry I. 143 

' born in the purple ' ; born, that is, the son of a king. When 
Robert was born his father was only Duke William of Nor- 
mandy, with no legal right to the throne of England ; when 
Henry was born his father was actually king. Such title as 
Robert derived from simple seniority had been rejected by his 
father, by Lanfranc, and by the popular voice, when the Con- 
queror died. But these dubious technicalities were of very little 
account when the one brother was present in person at Win- 
chester, and the other was far awaj' in Apulia. Henry was in 
actual possession of the keys of the treasury before the treasurer, 
William of Breteuil, appeared on the scene to assert the duke's 
rights. And Henry was surrounded by his own partisans. 
The treasurer had no choice but to give way ; the magnates 
present assumed the character of a witan and elected Henry ; 
and three days after Wilham's death Henry was crowned at 
Westminster by the bishop of London, since Anselm was still 

Henry at once confirmed his position by issuing a charter 
promising to restore the ' good laws of King Edward,' as amended 

by the Conqueror, and to abolish all those evil „^ ^ 
■' ^ The charter 

customs introduced by William 11., under which and the 
the Church, the baronage, and the people were ™*" ^^' 
groaning. And there were immediate outward and visible signs 
that the promises were not to be a dead letter. Ran'ulph Flam- 
bard, the instrument of the Red King's extortions, was thrown 
into prison, and a letter was dispatched to Anselm entreating his 
immediate return to take his place among the king's counsellors. 
Nor was this all. Henry, bom in England, claimed to be an 
English king of the English people ; and he forthwith strength- 
ened that claim by taking to wife a daughter of the ancient 
royal house, Edith, the child of Margaret, the queen of Malcolm 
Canmore. Norman barons might gibe at ' Goderic and Godiva ' ; 
if they did he would take order with them when it suited him. 
But in the meantime the marriage excited the utmost popular 
enthusiasm. The princess, brought up in England, had made 
pretence of taking the veil, after a not unusual fashion in those 
times in mere self-defence ; but Anselm himself found no diffi- 

144 Th'^ JVortiian Kings 

culty in accepting her statement that she had never taken or 
intended to take the conventual vows. 

Henry's throne was still not too secure. Though there were 
powerful barons on whom he could rely, the majority of the 
g magnates hankered for the hcence which they 

estabitshes would be Certain to enjoy with Robert as king, 
himself. When the duke got back to Normandy, Ranulph 

Flambard escaped from his prison, fled to Robert, and incited 
him to claim the English crown. In the following year, iioi, 
Robert evaded Henry's fleet, which was waiting at Pevensey, 
and landed at Portsmouth. Henry's main dependence was on 
the native levies, and the issue of battle would have been doubtful. 
But there was no fighting. At the treaty of Alton, Robert was 
bought off with the promise of three thousand marks ; and each 
of the brothers agreed to help the other in pimishing traitors, 
though an amnesty was granted to those who had supported 
the duke against the king. But it was easy enough to evade 
the amnesty. One after another of the dangerous barons found 
himself charged with breaches of the law, and his resources 
crippled by fines and deprivations. The powerful family of the 
Montgomeries, headed by Robert de BeUeme, who had in effect 
bought the earldom of Shrewsbury from Rufus, controlled most 
of the Welsh marches. They saw what was coming, and rapidly 
organised alliances with the Welsh princes. When Robert's 
turn came to be summoned before the king on a series of indict- 
ments, the brothers rose in open rebeUion. But Henry had 
already paralysed those who would have been readiest to join 
them ; the rest of the baronage were too prudent to take the 
risks, and the Montgomeries found themselves overpowered. 
They were allowed to retire to Normandy, deprived of aU their 
EngUsh lordships. When Robert de Belleme was gone, Henry 
could feel himself the complete master of England. 

StiU while Duke Robert ruled or was supposed to rule in 
Normandy, the duchy was certain to remain a hotbed of dis- 
affection towards the king of England. The unfortunate duke 
was quite unable to control his own vassals, and his failure to 
do so provided Henry with abundant pretext for declaring that 

Henry I. 145 

the treaty of Alton had been broken. In 1105 Henry had 
sufficient warrant for sa5nng that the hmits of endurance had 
been passed. He fell upon Normandy, and at the . ^^ 
battle of Tenchebrai, in 1106, Robert's forces were of Duke 
shattered. He liimself was taken prisoner, and 
remained a captive for the rest of his days. The English 
levies which had taken the field at Henry's call counted that 
Hastings had been avenged, that the victory, fought on the 
anniversary of the Conqueror's landing at Pevensey, was an 
EngUsh victory. If England had not conquered Normandy, 
the king of England had at least made Normandy his own 
mainly through the prowess of his English subjects, and he 
immediately put an end to the Norman anarchy very much as 
he had stamped out the threatened anarchy in England. The 
one weak point in his position lay in the fact that he did not 
detain in custody William Clito, the little son of Robert, so that 
after a few years the boy began to be made use of as a figurehead 
for disaffection. 

To these early years in which Henry was establishing his 
power belongs the acute controversy between the king and the 
archbishop. When Ansehn returned to England, 
the king required him in accordance with precedent investiture 
to do homage for the lands of Canterbury. But ^^ ^ 
during his residence abroad Anselm's attitude had been, changed 
by the decree of the council of Clermont. Obviously, he had 
no inherent objection to the principle of doing homage for 
temporalities, but here was an authoritative pronouncement 
of the Church forbidding it. Both men stood firm ; Henry 
would not resign the claims upon which all kings of England 
had insisted ; the archbishop would not recognise claims which 
had been denounced by the Pope and the General Council. The 
question at issue was not one of the abstract competence of the 
secular authority ; it was a direct practical issue between 
English precedent and the authority of an ecclesiastical law. 

There was no quarrel. Henry began by inviting the Pope, 
Paschal 11., to suspend this new papal law with regard to England 
as being an innovation, and Anselm was freely allowed to give 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. I. K 

146 The Nortnan Kivgs 

effect to disciplinary regulations with regard to celibacy and 
simony, the purchase of preferments. When Paschal met 
Henry's suggestion with a negative, Anselm agreed to go on a 
mission to Rome to explain the situation. He was quite willing 
that the Pope should be persuaded. But Paschal was not to be 
persuaded, and the king would not surrender his claim. Anselm 
would not disobey the Pope, and therefore remained abroad. 
The The archbishop personally laid no stress upon 

settlement. ^j^g principle for which the Pope was fighting, but 
he held himself bound by the papal injunctions. Those who had 
not personally received the Pope's injunctions might act as they 
thought fit, and in the meantime there would be no ill-feeling 
between himself and the king. The king, on the other hand, 
while he took no measures against Anselm himself, appropriated 
the revenues of Canterbury, and at the same time enforced on 
his own account, and for his own benefit, the archbishop's recent 
ecclesiastical legislation. 

Matters then remained in suspense during the earlier com- 
plications with Normandy. But in 1105, when the crisis between 
Henry and Robert was arriving. Paschal threatened excom- 
munication, and Henry was obliged to reopen negotiations. 
The result was a compromise which had the merit of being 
obviously logical. The prelates were to do homage, or perhaps 
only to swear fealty, for their temporalities ; that is, in effect, 
their lands. But they were not to be invested with the spiritual 
insignia — the ring and the crosier — ^by the secular authority. 
This logical arrangement, however, gave the Crown all that it 
really cared to claim ; for even if it no longer directly nominated 
the bishops, it was not deprived of its practical power of con- 
troUing their election ; and for practical purposes the bishops 
were relieved of none of their feudal obhgations. The concordat 
was finally ratified in 1107, and Anselm returned to England. 
Two years later he died. 

The sharp and continuous struggles of the seven years, at the 
end of which Henry was master of Normandy, and had effected 
his compromise with Anselm, had engaged practically the whole 
of the king's energies. Hitherto he had appeared simply as 

Henry I. 147 

the astute and vigorous prince, resolved on the establishment 
of his own supremacy. But he had established no claims to 
the gratitude of his people. He had not ground Henry's 
them down with the merciless tyranny of his siooess. 
brother, but he had done little enough towards redeeming the 
promises of his charter. He had exercised his feudal rights 
with a heavy hand, and the English chronicler groans over the 
harshness of his taxation. But aU that he did was deliberate, 
calculated, and methodical, free from capricious and wanton 
violence ; and when once his power was thoroughly secured, he 
was able to take up what may be called the secondary branch 
of his business as a king, the improvement of the conditions of 
the realms over which he ruled — not because he wished to be the 
father of his people, but because prosperity for the country 
meant power for himself, and because he had in him the instinct 
of order and method. But before we turn to this aspect of his 
long reign we must follow briefly the course of the events which 
touched the security of his own dominion, and that permanent 
establishmefit of his own dynasty which was the main anxiety 
of his later years. 

The position which the king of England had attained in the 
eyes of the world was illustrated when in 1109 the German 
emperor, Henry v., became a suitor for the hand „ 
of his eight-year-old daughter Matilda or Maud ; Henry v., and 
obviously with the belief that the marriage would 
be of material poUtical value to him. But although the marriage 
took place four years later the aUiance seems to have been 
curiously devoid of practical effect. Of much more material 
import were the relations between Henry and his French suze- 
rain, Louis VI., who became king of France in 1108. The French 
monarchy had hitherto been exceedingly weak. The king was, 
in fact, no more than one among a number of great terri- 
torial magnates who was officially the suzerain of the rest. 
Dukes and counts made war upon each other within the king- 
dom, much as they chose, paying the minimum of respect to the 
sovereign's intervention. His own actual domain, centring in 
Paris, was smaller than that of more than one of his vassals. 

148 The Norman Kings 

But Louis now began the persistent policy on the part of the 
French kings, directed to diminishing the power of the great 
feudatories ; a poUcy to which effect was given largely by 
playing them off against each other, while the Crown appro- 
priated the spoils bit by bit. 

It was on these lines that the king, who was an able soldier 
as well as an astute pohtician, set to work against the duchy of 
The mastery Normandy in 1109. Louis was soon able to claim 
ofNormandy. ^j^^^ j^g ^^g acting on behalf of the lawful duke, 
young WiUiam Clito, the son of Robert ; and if Henry was 
supported by his nephew Theobald of Blois, Louis had on his 
side not only recalcitrant Norman barons hke Robert of Belleme, 
who had retained his estates on the Norman border, but also 
the counts of Anjou on the south-west of Normandy and of 
Flanders on the north-east. This war, though somewhat pro- 
tracted, was never carried on very vigorously ; practically it 
was ended when Fulk of Anjou transferred his alliance to Henry, 
and betrothed his daughter to Henry's son William, the heir of 
the EngUsh throne. The result was a treaty with the French 
king, which secured the recognition of Henry's authority in 
Maine and perhaps in Brittany, as well as in Normandy proper. 
Incidentally Henry had captured Robert of BeUeme, who passed 
the rest of his life in confinement. Hostilities were renewed in 
1116, owing to a collision between Louis and Theobald of Blois, 
whose suppression Henry could not afford to permit. Fulk of 
Anjou again changed sides. It was not till 1118 that the suc- 
cesses of the combination began to threaten Henry ^^•ith serious 
danger. Next year, however, his diplomacy brought Fulk over 
again, and a new count of Flanders reverted to the earher poUcy 
of friendship -with the duke of Normandy. A victory over the 
French king's forces at Bremule was decisive. Henry's title to 
Normandy was recognised, when his son William did homage 
to Louis for the duchy, whereby the claim of his nephew William 
CUto was disposed of, and the Norman barons who had been in 
revolt did homage to Henry's heir. 

Henry's triumph was short-hved, though it was not destroyed 
by the hand of man. Very soon after the final completion of 

Henry I. 149 

the peace in 1120, the young William was drowned in the wreck 
of the White Ship, which was carr}ang him back to England. 
In that terrible disaster there perished not only Tie 
the heir of England but an extraordinary number of w^^"* Ship, 
persons of the highest rank ; among the ladies on board it was 
said that no fewer than eighteen were wives or daughters of kings 
or earls. Though the king made haste to marry again in the 
hope of providing himself with another heir, this second marriage 
was childless. Possibly it was with a view to that contingency 
that an older but illegitimate son, Robert, was made Robert of 
earl of Gloucester ; for illegitimacy had never been Gloucester, 
a bar to the succession, at least in the duchy of Normandy, as 
evidenced by the Conqueror himself. Robert, one may judge, 
would have made a good king, for he inherited much of his 
father's capacity, was an able diplomatist, a capable soldier, 
and a distinguished patron of learning and letters. But his 
loyalty was greater than his ambition, and instead of striking 
for the crown himself in the anarchy that followed Henry's death, 
he devoted all his talents and energies to the cause of his sister 
and her son. Yet the mere fact points to a distinct advance in 
the ethical standards which the Church was able to enforce. In 
the eleventh century it would probably have been taken for 
granted on all hands that Robert's claim was good ; neither he 
nor any one else would have seen any disloyalty in his asserting it. 
Then in 1125 the emperor Henry v. died. As his wife, no 
claim of Maud to the throne of England and the duchy of Nor- 
mandy would have been admitted ; but his death Empress 
changed the situation. The king summoned his M^^^^- 
daughter back to England, and at the beginning of 1127 obtained 
from the barons and the higher clergy an oath to recognise her 
as his heir, to give her their allegiance, if he should die without 
legitimate male offspring. Among the barons who took the oath 
was David, king of Scotland, the third of Henry's brothers-in-law 
to wear the crown of Scotland, who also held fiefs in England ; 
as well as Henry's nephew Stephen of Boulogne, and Robert of 
Gloucester. Female succession to a barony was recognised both 
in England and in France, but for female succession to the crown. 

150 The Norman Kings 

as it happened, there was no actual precedent ; the question had 
never arisen except on one occasion in Spain. 

The danger of female succession was obvious, and it is possible 
that the oath of the baronage was in the event invaHdated by the 
subsequent marriage of Maud to Geoffrey, son of Fulk of Anjou, 
without reference to the barons. The oath may have been con- 
ditional upon their assent to any marriage which she might con- 
tract, as was averred later by Bishop Roger of Salisbury. The 
object of the marriage was to secure the Angevin aUiance in view 
of reviving dangers from the possible claims of WiUiam Clito, 
whom Louis succeeded in establishing as Count of Flanders. 
WiUiam Clito, however, died soon afterwards, and there were 
no more serious disturbances in Henry's reign, which was ended 
suddenly and unexpectedly, as we are told, by a surfeit of eels, 
Henry's while he was in Normandy. For though Henry lived 

death. fQ]- sixty-seven strenuous years, he was still in full 

intellectual and bodily vigour when the mortal illness struck him 
down. Had death been longer in its approach, the king would 
doubtless have secured the presence in England of the daughter 
whom again on his death-bed he designated as his successor. 
As matters stood, her succession depended entirely on the loyalty 
of the barons to their oath ; an oath which had apparently been 
renewed, according to William of Malmesbury, in 113 1. 

It is not easy to gauge with exactness the precise extent of 
Henry's administrative reforms. The chronicler sums him up 
tersely in a couple of sentences. When he died ' then there was 
tribulation soon in the land ; for every man that could robbed 
another. A good man he was, and there was great awe of him ; 
no man durst say to him ought but good.' ' He strove ever,' 
says Orderic, ' to ensure peace to the people over whom he ruled.' 
But the accounts of the manner in which he established justice, 
apart from impressing the barons with the consciousness that he 
was a person whom it was dangerous to disobey, are not very 
easy to elucidate, for the records are scanty. 

When Henry came to the throne, it is evident that the personal 
jurisdiction of the lords, which had been coming into being before 
the Conquest, had since that date to a great extent usurped the 

Henry I. 151 

earlier functions of the local courts of the shire and hundred ; 
the hundred courts were almost in abeyance ; and in the shire 
court a sheriff could carry matters very much as courts of 
he chose. Various changes had taken place in the J'l^*'''^- 
manner of administering justice and in the penalties attached 
to crime, and there were still large divergencies between different 
parts of the kingdom. The king's own court of justice, the 
Curia Regis, the king's inner council of officials, in its judicial 
aspect dealt with appeals and cases touching the Curia Regis. 
Crown and the king's peace ; but it was attached to the king's 
person. Henry made it his business to aim at the estabhshment 
of uniformity, the restriction of personal jurisdictions within 
safe limits, involving some revival of the functions of the popular 
courts, and the supervision of the whole system, whereby local 
aberrations might be restrained, the even-handed distribution 
of justice be secured, and the law be made convincingly terrible 
to malefactors. 

The document known as the Leges Henrici was compiled 
about the middle of Henry's reign. It is not in the nature of 
an ordinance, but was what may be called an expert summary 
of legal practice in the second decade of the twelfth century. 
Order had been given for the shire courts and the hundred 
courts to meet at regular intervals. The feudal lord dispensed 
justice on his own domain among his own vassals ; Lords' 
but the claim which had been asserted, that juris- Jirisdiotion. 
diction lay with the lord in every case where one of his vassals 
was a defendant, was not allowed to stand. Where the suitors 
were under different lords the case was to go not before one of 
the lords but before the popular court. 

At the same time the nominally popular courts had lost their 
popular character ; they were practically in the hands of the 
sheriff. The only guarantees of justice lay, on the one hand, 
in the personal character of the sheriff and, on the other, in the 
possibilities of appeal to the king's court — a course which at 
the best involved very serious difficulties. It was to meet these 
difficulties that the practice was gradually developed of sending 
out a visiting commission from the Curia Regis, which took over 

152 The Norinan Kings 

important cases, exercised a general supervision, and registered 
its judgment as precedents. These courts uniformly adminis- 
itinerant tered the king's law ; and since their judgments were 
Justices. finally authoritative, overriding local precedents 

and customs, they tended to estabhsh a general uniformity. 
Even more important, however, was the fact that the commissions 
had no local interests, and made their awards \\dthout fear or 
favour on a definite system, in which there was no room for 
caprice. The king chose his of&cials from among clerics and 
the minor baronage because they were competent, not because 
they were powerful ; they were entirely in his hands, bound to 
his interests, and had every inducement to enforce the law with 
an even hand. Before the end of the reign it is certain that the 
itinerant justices had become an essential feature of the judicial 
administration, although it is not clear how far their employ- 
ment had been systematised. It is not surprising to find that 
after the reign of violence in the days of Rufus the need for the 
restoration of order led to the introduction of penalties for law- 
breaking of a more drastic order than had been customary 
before. The death penalty, which had almost been abohshed 
by the Conqueror in accordance with Norman practice, was 
reinvigorated, and the mutilations which had been introduced 
in its place were extended. The ordeal by battle, the favourite 
Norman method, had been added to the old Saxon ordeals ; and 
it is interesting to observe that immunity from it was among 
the privileges enjoyed by London. 

As the administration of justice was organised, so also was 
the Exchequer, the collection of the royal revenue. In this 
The department the immediate credit is attributed to 

Exchequer. Bishop Roger of Sahsbury, among \\'hose kin 
financial abihty appears to have been hereditary. The roj'al 
revenues were collected by the sheriffs, who rendered their 
accounts tmce a year. For the rents of the royal estates they 
paid a fixed sum ; but for feudal dues, danegeld, and, miscel- 
laneous fines and toUs, they accoimted item by item. In the 
course of the reign it is to be noted that money payments took 
the place of payments in kind — a proof of the increased circulation 

Stephen 153 

of coinage. But the value of coins in circulation, which were 
issued from a variety of mints, was so uncertain that the coins 
which the sheriffs paid in were assayed, and the sheriffs had to 
make good the difference between their face value and the actual 
weight of silver they contained. As yet there was no gold 
coinage. The accounts were paid in to the Court of the Ex- 
chequer, whose personnel was the same as that of the Curia 
Regis ; it was, in fact, simply the Curia Regis acting in a special 
capacity. To the great towns privileges were also conceded in 
respect of the Exchequer. Many boroughs were granted the 
right, ordinarily exercised by the sheriffs, of farming the revenues 
and paying a fixed sum ; while London and Lincoln paid directly 
in to the Exchequer, with no intervening sheriff. Both the 
judicial system and the Exchequer system fell completely out 
of gear in the chaos of Stephen's reign ; but the lines had been 
laid down, and provided the basis for reorganisation under the 
second Henry. 

VIL Stephen, 1135-1154 

When Henry died in 1135 he and all the leading lay barons 
of England were in Normandy. All the magnates were pledged 
twice over to acknowledge the Empress Maud as Tjie 
queen ; nor was there the sUghtest doubt of the siicceBsion. 
legitimacy of the title of herself and of her two-year-old son 
Henry. There might very well have been no dispute but for 
the fact that Maud was the wife of Geoffrey of Anjou, and Norman 
barons had no inclination at all to allow Normandy to become 
an appendage of Anjou. Assuming that they were masters of 
the situation, the magnates took counsel, and proceeded to the 
election of Theobald ^ of Blois, eldest son of the Conqueror's 
daughter Adela. But Theobald's younger brother Stephen, 
with a shrewdness which he displayed at no other period of his 
career, grasped the fact that the crown of England was to be 
secured in England itself and not in Normandy. While the 
barons were dehberating at their leisure he hurried across the 

' See Genealogies, II., The Norman Line and the Early Plantagenets. 

154 The Norman Kings 

Channel, secured the support of the citizens of London, and then 
hastened to Winchester, where the royal treasure lay and his 
brother Henry was bishop. 

Perhaps the bishop may be regarded as the real organiser of 
the plot which gave the crown to Stephen. The great lay 
ste hen barons were in Normandy, but the ecclesiastics 

captures the and the administrative officials were in England. 
The archbishop of Canterbury, the great minister 
Roger, bishop of Sahsbury, and a few barons, were collected ; 
scruples were removed by a false declaration that Henry on his 
death-bed had released the barons from their oath of allegiance 
to Matilda, and perhaps that he had nominated Stephen in her 
place. Stephen, or Bishop Henry on his behalf, made large 
promises of rendering the Church completely independent of 
secular control ; the churchmen claimed that the right of 
election lay with them ; and before Henry i. had been dead for a 
month Stephen was crowned at Westminster. The unconscious 
Theobald was accepting his own election by the Norman barons 
when the messengers came from England with the tidings that 
his brother was already king. Theobald, a cautious person, 
accepted the new situation with alacrity. He withdrew his 
claims and promised moral support to Stephen. 

Geoffrey of Anjou began to harry the Norman border by 
way of asserting his wife's claim, and she herself dispatched an 
embassy to the Pope to claim the papal denunciation of the 
perjury which had set Stephen on the throne which was hers of 
Stephen right. But the other side had been no less prompt ; 

established, i^^y^ too, laid their case before Rome; and while 
the Pope would make no open pronouncement, he gave an un- 
official verdict in favour of Stephen. Before many months of 
1136 had passed it seemed likely that Stephen's position would 
be unchallenged. Robert of Gloucester took a quahfied oath 
of allegiance ; and David of Scotland allowed his son Henry to 
do homage for the earldom of Huntingdon and for Carhsle, while 
extracting for him a promise of the earldom of Northumberland, 
to which he had a somewhat vague claim through his mother, 
the daughter of Waltheof. David, it must be remembered, 

Stephen 155 

had taken the oath for his niece, though it is confusing to have 
to remember at the same time that Stephen's queen Matilda 
was also David's niece through another sistefr. Still this absence 
of overt opposition might cease at any time ; it did not imply 
any enthusiastic support of the new king, who, doubtless under 
his brother's guidance, made haste to secure the unanimous 
support of the churchmen. A document, called the Second 
Charter of Stephen, conceded in effect everything that the most 
exacting of the clerical party had ever demanded. The Church 
was to have exclusive jurisdiction over all ecclesiastical persons 
and property. Vacancies were to be filled by free election, and 
until they were filled the revenues were to be administered by 
churchmen. There was to be no more purchasing of prefer- 
ments. All of which meant practically that the king gave up 
all control over appointments, and very nearly all power of 
taxing Church property. 

For two years Stephen's right to reign was undisputed, though 
Geoffrey of Anjou made futile attacks on the south-west of 
Normandy. But the king's incapacity was being Break-down 
displayed both in Normandy and in England by the °^ authority, 
ease with which some of the barons set his authority at defiance. 
They were not tr5dng to dethrone him ; they were merely 
following the Norman precedents when Robert was duke, treating 
Stephen as they had treated Robert. And there was a further 
foreshadowing of the evils to come in Stephen's preference for 
gathering to his support bodies of mercenaries, thereby at once 
emphasising his lack of confidence in the barons and increasing 
an always dangerous military element. 

But Robert of Gloucester had evidently never been free from 
qualms as to his position. He came to the conclusion, after 
taking counsel with spiritual advisers, that his oath of allegiance 
to Maud was binding, and that his conditional oath to Stephen 
was not. By midsummer of 1138 he sent formal Revolt, iiss. 
notice to Stephen that his fealty was withdrawn. Before this 
David of Scotland had been threatening active hostilities unless 
Stephen made haste to deliver over to him the earldom of 
Northumberland, and he had followed this up by forays into the 

156 The Norman Kings 

north. The second of these forays was contemporaneous with 
a revolt on the Welsh marches, which may be regarded as having 
fired the train of rebellion at large. The south-west generally 
was soon in a state of insurrection, and the habit of miscellaneous 
harryings and devastations began. Stephen, marching to the 
west, was tolerably successful in reducing one after another of 
the castles which held out against him ; but his notions of 
strategy were confined to striking at the object nearest at hand 
without regard to its importance or unimportance. 

At the end of July King David came over the border with 
a large miscellaneous force, avowedly in the name of his niece. 
The Scots David had for years been pursuing a policy of 
invasion. setthng Normans m the south of Scotland, so that 

part of his army was of the normal feudal t3rpe, while the hosts 
from Galloway and the north still fought after the ancestral 
manner -with very little body armour. The old archbishop of 
York, Thurstan, displayed an admirable spirit, which restored 
the apparently flagging courage of the minor magnates who 
were assembled ; and the fyrd, with a few feudal levies, marched 
out to meet the advancing host of Scots, carrying with them 
the sacred standards which gave to the fight of Northallerton 
the name of ' the battle of the Standard.' 

The English were very considerably outnumbered. Their 
tactics were curious, as a sort of foreshadowing of those which 
characterised English armies two centuries later. Although the 
number of mail-clad knights present was considerable, they were 
for the most part dismounted, and fought on foot to strengthen 
the long infantry line, \^dth which clumps of archers were inter- 
mixed. The small force of mounted men remained in reserve 
round the standard. The Scots, in Hke manner, dismounted 
their knights, reserving only a small troop of mounted men on 
one wing under Henry of Huntingdon, King Da\-id's son. 
Battle of the David's plan of battle was to lead the attack wth 
standard. ^j^g heavy-armed men on foot ; but Galwegian and 
Highland jealousy of the ' Frenchmen ' compelled him to change 
his plan and allow the Galloway men to lead the attack with 
target and claymore. They charged with the utmost fury, but 

Stephen 1 5 7 

were defenceless against the storm of arrows which poured upon 
them, and were akeady broken before they flung themselves 
in vain against the armoured ranks which faced them. Then 
Henry of Huntingdon with his few knights headed a fiery charge 
upon the EngHsh wing, cut their way through and dashed for- 
ward, believing that the footmen who followed them would 
complete the work, shatter the English wing, and roll up the 
centre. But the English had time to reform and beat off the 
attack. As David advanced in the centre the Highland con- 
tingent was seized with panic and fled. All the king could do 
was to hold the better trained troops together and beat a retreat, 
on which he was joined by his son Henry and a few knights, 
who, on finding themselves isolated, had succeeded by a ruse in 
effecting their escape. There was a great slaughter among the 
miscellaneous fugitives, and the invasion was very decisively 
shattered. Nevertheless, when the treaty of peace was signed 
in the following year the Scots king got most of his demands, 
since the Northumbrian earldom was bestowed upon Henry, 
with the exception only of the fortresses of Bamborough and 

The battle of the Standard secured Stephen against his greatest 
danger, the co-operation of the king of Scots with the rebels in 
the south ; and the rebels themselves were unable stepuen and 
to make head against him. But he went on to ^^^ ciiurcii. 
undermine his own position by alienating the churchmen, in 
whose support his great strength had lain. He angered his able 
brother, the bishop of Winchester, by disappointing him of the 
succession to the see of Canterbury, which was given to Theobald 
of Bee. Roger, bishop of Salisbury, and his kinsmen held among 
them three bishoprics, the chancellorship, and the treasurership. 
Their own arrogance and the jealousy of the barons first caused 
them to arm in self-defence and then drove the king to order 
them to disarm. They refused ; whereupon they were arrested, 
with the exception of Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, who escaped 
to the castle of Devizes, where he was besieged and forced to 
surrender. Churchmen were scandalised, not at the conduct of 
the bishops, but because they had been proceeded against as if 

158 The Norman Kings 

they had been laymen. Stephen, to pacify his brother, had 
procured for him, instead of for the archbishop, a commission 
as papal legate, as a solatium, which in effect gave him an 
ecclesiastical authority even superior to that of the archbishop, 
but did not pacify him in the least. As papal legate he, with 
the support of Archbishop Theobald, summoned the king to 
account for his breach of ecclesiastical law before a legatine 
council. Stephen retorted effectively by an appeal to Rome on 
his own account, and a warning that any of the churchmen who 
left England would find it extremely difficult to return. Techni- 
cally the victory lay with the king, but it was at the cost of the 
complete alienation of the clergy. 

The council was dissolved at the beginning of September ; 
but probably on the last day of the month Robert of Gloucester 
The empress landed in England with the Empress Maud, and the 
in England, ^^j. qJ succession opened in earnest. Almost at the 
outset Stephen provided an astonishing illustration of the 
eccentricities of chivalry. Robert went off to the west to 
assume the leadership of the rebellion in that region, leaving the 
empress at Arundel. Stephen descended upon Arundel, when 
he might have seized the empress, and so have made himself 
entirely secure. Instead of doing so he gave her a safe-conduct 
to join her brother, acting therein upon the exceedingly dubious 
advice of his brother of Winchester. 

The chaos which now supervened was the wildest and the 
ughest in the whole history of England. Every semblance of 
The anarchy, legitimate authority disappeared. Stephen on one 
side, and Matilda on the other, lavished lordships and earldoms 
on their own partisans at the expense of the partisans of the 
other, especially on the adventurers and mercenaries who were 
gathered to one or the other. Partisans changed sides or played 
at neutrality, as suited their own immediate convenience. Every 
individual baron did his best to strengthen and enrich himself 
at the expense of any weaker neighbour. The country was filled 
with castles, and the mercenary soldiery ravaged and pillaged on 
all sides. The Peterborough chronicler gives a hideous picture, 
which other records confirm. The miserable peasants were sub- 

Stephen 1 59 

jected to barbarous tortures to compel them to surrender their 
scanty hoard : ' When the wretched men had no more to give, 
they robbed and burned all the townships, so that thou mightest 
well go all a day's journey and thou shouldst never find a man 
sitting in a township or the land tilled. They forbore neither 
church nor churchyard but took all the property that was 
therein and then burnt the church altogether. However a man 
tilled, the earth bare no corn ; for the land was all fordone by such 
deeds ; and they said openly that Christ and His saints slept.' 
Episcopal denunciations and excommunications were of no 
account in a land where, says William of Malmesbury, ' neither 
bishop nor monk could pass in safety from one township to 

The war itself was hardly more than a welter of miscellaneous 
fighting, till at the beginning of 1141 Stephen was taken prisoner 
by Gloucester, after performing prodigies of valour, Maud 'Lady 
in a fight before the walls of Lincoln. He was carried °^ England.' 
off in chains to Bristol, and a few weeks later a council of the 
clergy, headed by the bishop of Winchester, proclaimed Maud 
the ' Lady of England.' Stephen's cause appeared to be hope- 
lessly lost. 

Stephen failed through sheer ineptitude ; the empress was 
more definitely active in destroj'ing her own chances. David of 
Scotland and Robert of Gloucester both urged her to act tem- 
perately ; she was deaf to their counsels. The citizens of London 
in the general anarchy had taken order for themselves, and 
estabhshed a sort of commonwealth or commune of their own. 
The empress demanded a heavy tax or tallage, and accompanied 
the demand by a refusal to recognise any extension of I-ondon's 
powers of self-government ; whereupon the citizens rose, and 
Maud had to beat a hasty retreat to Oxford. Henry of Win- 
chester repudiated hei*, and the war blazed up again. Things 
went badly for the empress ; and in the autumn Robert of 
Gloucester, fighting a rear-guard action to cover her flight, was 
taken prisoner. Robert's unique loyalty prevented him from 
accepting attractive offers to change sides ; so he was exchanged 
for the king, and Stephen's release brought fresh adherents 

i6o The Norman Kings 

to the royalists. Henry of Winchester was now working 
vigorously on his behalf, and brought the churchmen over to 
Royalist his side again. In the renewed welter of fighting the 

recovery. balance was for some time in favour of Stephen in 
England ; while Geoffrey of Anjou was annexing Normandy bit 
by bit, till at last in 1145 the whole duchy was in his hands. 

In 1 147 Robert of Gloucester died, and not long afterwards 
Matilda herself retired from the country. In 1149 a new per- 
sonality appears on the scene in her son Henry, who was now 
a boy of about sixteen. At a somewhat earher stage he had 
Henry passed four years in England. His father Geoffrey 

Piantagenet. j^^^j already handed over to him the duchy of Nor- 
mandy. Young Henry now made lavish promises to David of 
Scotland ; but by this time Stephen's position had become 
sufficiently strong to prevent him from raising an efficient army. 
He retired again to Normandy, and in 1151, on his father's death, 
succeeded to the whole of the Angevin dominion- — a dominion 
which he at once doubled by marrying Eleanor, the heiress of 
Aquitaine, whose previous marriage with the French king, 
Louis VII., had been annulled. Consequently he found affairs 
in France more immediately pressing than in England. 

It was now Stephen's desire to secure the succession to his own 
son Eustace by procuring his coronation — a plan which had been 
adopted by the French kings. But an insuperable bar was 
found in the fiat refusal of the clergy to take part in the cere- 
mony. Stephen had again offended the whole clerical body. 
Alienation of especially Archbishop Theobald, and not only the 
the clergy. clergy in England but the Pope himself, by forcing 
his own candidate upon the see of York. The Pope' refused to 
sanction the coronation, and the clergy gave effect to his refusal. 
This afforded encouragement to Henry to return to England 
in 1153. Though his force was small he succeeded in creating 
an immediate conviction of his miUtary abilities, which rapidly 
rallied a number of barons to his standard. The death of 
Eustace simphfied matters. Stephen had set his heart on his 
son's succession, and being deprived of that hope, cared httle 
for anything else. All parties were weary of fighting, and 

Stephen 1 6 1 

Archbishop Theobald succeeded without much difficulty in 
negotiating the treaty of Wallingford. Stephen was to remain 
on the throne, but Henry was to be recognised Treaty of 
as his heir. Henry and his followers were to do waiimgford. 
homage to Stephen ; Stephen's followers were to do homage to 
Henry, reserving their allegiance to Stephen. The mercenaries 
on both sides were to be dismissed, and the ' adulterine ' castles 
— those, that is, which had been raised without licence during 
the civil wars, to the number, it is said, of more than eleven 
hundred — were to be done away with. Finally, the king was 
to consult with Henry during the remainder of his reign. In 
fact, the reign lasted Kttle more than another year, during which 
time Henry was for the most part absent. In 1154 the long 
anarchy was brought to a close by Stephen's death. 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. I. 


I. Henry Plantagenet, 1154-1189 

At the age of twenty-one Henry Plantagenet was the direct 
lord of a vaster dominion than any other potentate in Europe, 
The Angevin with the exception of the German emperor. The 
dominion. France which was under the sovereignty of the 
French king in the twelfth century had for its eastern bound- 
aries the rivers Rhone and Saone, the upper waters of the 
Meuse, and the Scheldt — that is, it did not include what are 
now French districts on the east of those rivers, while it did 
include a considerable portion of modern Belgium. But more 
than half of France was under the dominion of Henry. Of this 
French dominion the northern half came to him through either 
his mother or his father, although he had to dispossess his second 
brother Geoffrey of a portion of it. The other half was the in- 
heritance of his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine ; and besides what 
indubitably belonged to the duchy of Aquitaine she had claims 
upon the great county of Toulouse, on the south-east. It is 
further to be remarked that the peoples embraced in this great 
dominion were very heterogeneous, those of the south differing 
in race temperament and traditions from those of the north, 
while the kingdom of England, held in independent sovereignty, 
differed entirely from both. 

In Henry's eyes it may be presumed that at the outset at 
least England presented him with only the minor problem of 
Divided restoring such order as had subsisted in the days 

interests. ^f j^jg grandfather ; it was already unified, in spite 
of the recent chaos, so far that there was no possible prospect 


Henry Plantagenet 163 

of it breaking in pieces. But his French dominion had no 
natural unity ; it was simply an aggregation of counties and 
duchies, in which Henry had vassals who were half independent, 
and ready to throw off his suzerainty and transfer themselves 
to the immediate instead of the mediate overlordship of the 
French king. On the other hand, it was to consohdation and 
expansion in France that Henry looked as the means to achiev- 
ing a primacy among the potentates of Europe. In the course 
of his reign he learnt that the organisation of England itself as 
a powerful and prosperous state must take precedence of his 
Continental ambitions, and he achieved this portion of his task 
with great success ; yet Continental ambitions absorbed so much 
of his time that throughout his reign of thirty-five years he was 
hardly ever in England for a consecutive period of more than 
two years. 

Henry was in Normandy when Stephen died, and England 
demanded his immediate attention. The succession was un- 
disputed, and he was crowned before the end of the year. The 
coronation was accompanied by the issue of a charter, which in 
effect was an announcement that all things were Eestoration 
to be restored as they had been in the days of of°rder. 
Henry i. The young king had already given evidence that he 
was possessed of a fiery temper, startling and untiring energy 
and activity, a vigorous will and a clear head. In nine 
months he had cleared the mercenaries out of the country, com- 
pleted the destruction of the adulterine castles, and selected 
competent men for the highest offices of the State. Bishop 
Nigel of Ely, the nephew of Roger of Sahsbury, was deputed 
to the management of the Exchequer ; Richard de Lucy and 
Robert de Beaumont were made justiciars, the official chiefs 
of the administration in the king's absence ; Archbishop Theo- 
bald remained the king's principal counsellor ; and me 
the chancellorship was placed in the hands of ^i^i^tera. 
Thomas Becket, the archbishop's nominee, a man who might 
still be called young, though he was apparently some fifteen 
years older than the king himself. He was of gentle though 
not of noble blood, a secular cleric, not a monk, archdeacon of 

164 The Angevin Monarchy 

Canterbury, and had for some years been employed in state 
business by the archbishop. In the first twelve months of the 
reign Henry held a series of Great Councils, and secured the co- 
operation of the greater barons in his plans. Only small and 
abortive attempts were made at resisting the resumption of the 
royal castles and domains. The reign of Stephen by its sheer 
excesses had not only created a craving for order among the 
lesser folk, but had awakened in the magnates themselves a 
desire for settled government. 

It is to be noted that as early as 1155 Henry was contem- 
plating the annexation of Ireland ; but with Irish affairs we shall 
deal separately. 

During 1156 and part of 1157 Henry was in France, where he 
made good his claim to Anjou and Touraine against his brother 
Henry andhiB Geoffrey — a necessary step in order to preserve the 
neighbours, continuity of his dominions from north to south. 
On the other hand, he established his own questionable claims 
over Brittany, of which he bestowed the overlordship upon 
Geoffrey by way of compensation. After the settlement of this 
business the next year was again spent in England. The death 
of David of Scotland in 1152 placed the crown on the head of his 
young son Malcolm iv., called the Maiden ; and Henry now 
took advantage of the king's youth to repudiate the promises 
made to his father, and compel him to give up the earldom of 
Northumberland and Cumbria. But Malcolm retained the 
earldom of Huntingdon as a baron of England, and for this he 
did homage, though there is no clear evidence as to whether the 
homage was supposed to apply in respect of anything else. 
North Wales, which had, as a matter of course, discarded obedi- 
ence in Stephen's time, was again brought to subjection. It is 
evident that affairs in England were now working smoothly ; there 
was no danger of the royal authority being disputed, and Henry 
again turned his attention to France. He procured through a 
diplomatic mission, conducted by Becket, the recognition of his 
overlordship of Brittany, his brother Geoffrey having died in 
the interval ; and he then made up his mind to assert the claim 
to the county of Toulouse in right of his wife. But the French 

Henry Plantagenet 165 

king, once the husband of that wife, had taken alarm at the 
growing power of his great vassal, and Henry found that he 
would have to make good his claim in defiance of his suzerain. 
A great campaign in Toulouse was organised for 1159. 

The campaign itself produced no important results, since 
Henry refused to attack Toulouse because his suzerain was there 
present. Its importance lies in the fact that it Soutage. 
was made the occasion for the introduction in a new form of 
the imposition called scutage. According to feudal law land- 
holders were required to give personal service, and to bring to 
the field a fully armed knight for every knight's fee in their 
estate — an obligation which applied equally to ecclesiastical 
landholders. It had, however, already become customary to 
permit ecclesiastics to commute this mihtary service for a money 
payment, which enabled the king to hire a corresponding number 
of soldiers. This pajTnent was called scutage — that is to say, 
shield money. But the system of personal service had incon- 
veniences. The feudal levy was only bound to serve for forty 
days. Personal service might be troublesome, and the perpetual 
maintenance of the requisite number of armed knights was a 
troublesome burden on the landholder. Henry, therefore, 
extended the employment of scutage to lay tenants as weU as 
ecclesiastics. He required or accepted a fixed money payment 
in heu of service, and used the funds to hire a soldiery which 
remained on service as long as the wages were paid, served 
wherever it was wanted, and had no interest to consider but 
the king's. The precise amount of the toU appears uncertain. 
In the Dialogus de Scaccario it is put at ' a mark or a pound.' 
But the exemption from service was worth purchasing, and the 
money was more useful to the Crown than the knights. We 
may hesitate, however, to accept our authority's explanation of 
the royal reasons, that the king preferred exposing mercenaries 
rather than his own people to the chances of war. 

The Chancellor Becket was prominent in the French cam- 
paigrf, where he rode at the head of a body of knights, who were 
the best appointed and most effective troops in Becket. 
the whole army. He had never advanced to priest's orders ; at 

i66 The Angevin Monarchy 

this stage of his career there was no sign that he had any am- 
bitions which were not wholly political. He was on the most 
intimate terms with the king, and was apparently as devoted to 
the king's interest as any layman could be. But a \'ery complete 
change was at hand. 

In April 1161 the old archbishop of Canterbury died. It was 
not tiU some months later that Henry announced the intention 
of appointing his chancellor as Theobald's successor. Becket 
was returning to England to arrange a ceremonial swearing of 
fealty to the seven-year-old prince Henry as his father's acknow- 
ledged heir on the part of the barons. Becket strove to dis- 
suade the king from making him archbishop, but without 
success ; and in the summer of 1162 he was consecrated to the 
primacy, after he had been formally released from hability in 
respect of his conduct as chancellor. Before the end of the 
year he announced to Henry that it was impossible for him to 
retain the chancellorship, which bound him to the Crown, along 
with the archbishopric, which made him the shepherd and 
guardian of the Church. 

Now it may be assumed that Henry from a very early, stage 
in his reign had made up his mind that a revision was necessary 
ciiurcii and of the relations between the Crown and the Church, 
Crown. |j^^ ^j^g^^ j-^g (jj^ jjQ^ (,g^]-g {.Q open the question during 

the lifetime of the old archbishop. When Theobald died he 
would have a new archbishop, and would choose one on whom 
he could rely to help him in establishing his own control of the 
Church. Apparently he had found precisely the man he wanted 
in his chancellor — a man who, while his private morals were 
irreproachable, was still conspicuously a statesman and a man of 
the world, who had shown no symptoms of desire to magnify 
the clerical office. But the king had misread the character of his 
nominee ; for which he is hardly to be blamed, since it is im- 
possible to this day to declare with certainty that any specific 
The new interpretation of it is the correct one. Becket as 

arcnbisiop. chancellor was the champion of the Crown, because 
as a minister of State it was his business to be the champion of 
the Crown, and to do the thing thoroughly. Becket as arch- 

Henry Plantagenet 167 

bishop became the champion of the Church, because as primate 
it was his business to be the champion of the Church, and to do 
the thing thoroughly. The functions of the two offices, as he 
conceived them, were liliely to prove diametrically antagonistic ; 
if they were held together the functions of neither could be 
properly discharged ; the change from one office to the other 
involved a complete change of policy, because it involved a 
complete change of the point of view. By the time that Henry 
returned to England in 1163 the archbishop had made up his 
mind to be the uncompromising advocate of the most extreme 
views of ecclesiastical authority, and he prepared to play his 
part picturesquely and thoroughly. He had been the most 
splendid of chancellors, and he would be the most splendid of 
archbishops ; but the recipients of his lavish hospitahty should 
be not the rich and the powerful but the poor and needy. An 
archbishop ought to qualify for saintship, and personal magni- 
ficence gave way to a strict asceticism. The office should lose 
none of its pomp, but all should be for the glorification not of the 
man but of the Church. Martyrdom was the supreme reward 
of faithful service, and to win that reward was perhaps his 
ultimate ambition. 

The chancellor had acquiesced in, if he had not actually sug- 
gested, exactions from the Church called dona, gifts; demands for 
additional war supplies for which there was precedent but no 
actual legal authority. The archbishop was determined that 
no penny of money and no acre of land should xhe Ohuroif s 
be taken from the Church or held by a layman if "laims. 
any technical claim could secure it for the Church. The barons 
soon found that they would be called upon to make restitution 
whenever it appeared to Becket that they were in occupation of 
lands to which the Church had a title. And it was claimed that 
wherever ecclesiastical persons or property were concerned the 
Church courts had exclusive jurisdiction. The Conqueror and 
Lanfranc had with very good reason separated the secular courts 
from the ecclesiastical ; but their theory was not that the secular 
authority was thereby diminished, but that the Church thereby 
acquired an additional and a desirable influence over public 

1 68 The Angevin Monarchy 

morals of a kind which could not be satisfactorily exercised by 
the ordinary courts. 

Since the settlement of the dispute between Anselm and 
Henry i. there had been under that king no quarrels between 
Increase Church and Cro-ivn which it had not been possible 

of clerical to settle without any obvious surrender of claims 
" ^' on either side. But during the reign of Stephen the 
Church had not hesitated to acquire from the king an extended 
authority, and to extend that authority still further by usur- 
pations, which in the circumstances were by no means un- 
warranted. In fact, during that period it was only from the 
Church that men could look for any serious attempt to mete 
out justice ; and there was a general acquiescence in the develop- 
ment of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But when there came 
to the throne a strong king who was determined to enforce 
justice by his own authority, he found the Church claiming as 
of right a jurisdiction which was not compatible with the supreme 
authority of the Crown, and might be used very much to the 
detriment of the king's lieges when ecclesiastical interests were 
concerned. That the Church should judge between laymen 
and churchmen on questions affecting Church property was bad 
enough, since virtually one of the suitors became also the judge. 
But stiU more serious was the ecclesiastical claim to criminal 
jurisdiction where one of the parties concerned was in orders, 
even in minor orders below that of the deacons. For many 
criminal offences the ecclesiastical penalties were wholly in- 
adequate ; from a lay point of view, the clerical offender was 
secured a practical immunity. And besides all this, persistent 
custom had set aside the principle affirmed by the Conqueror, 
that no appeals might be carried to Rome vrithout the royal 

A statesman of the type of Lanfranc would ha\'e seen the 
wisdom of a judicious surrender on points where pubhc opinion 
Becket's would manifestly be on the side of the Crown ; but 

aggressive- Thomas of Canterbury would surrender nothing. 
It was in vain that his own friends urged him to 
assume a less aggressive attitude. He enforced the decrees of 

Henry Plantagenet 169 

the Church courts by threats of excommunication, again in spite 
of the Conqueror's principle that none of his lieges was to be 
excommunicated without the Crown's permission. A church- 
man was acquitted in a Church court on a charge of homicide. 
One of the king's justices sought to reopen the case in a lay 
court, and when his summons was repudiated with contumely, 
appealed to the king. The king demanded that the man should 
be tried in the king's court on the charge of homicide, and also 
for insulting the king's officer. The archbishop replied that the 
churchman was not amenable to any secular court, but the king 
could have justice in respect of the insult to his officer from the 
archbishop's own court ; and for that offence the culprit was 
heavily fined. But, naturally enough, Henry was much more 
than dissatisfied by the result. 

In other matters, too, the archbishop was displaying a beUi- 
cose spirit, an evident intention of pressing the antagonism 
between Church and State. He refused preferment to clerics 
who were in the service of the State. In a council at Woodstock 
he was able to paralyse a scheme of taxation proposed by the 
king, who wished to transfer direct to the treasury an imposition 
called the sheriff's aid, which had hitherto been paid to the 
sheriffs themselves. Henry decided that the questions between 
himself and the archbishop must be brought to a head. Sum- 
moning the bishops to a conference at Westminster, he proposed 
what seemed to him a reasonable compromise in the matter of 
criminous clerks. The defendant was to be tried in the ecclesi- 
astical court ; if found guilty he was to be degraded and handed 
over to the secular court for punishment. Becket ^ crisis 
flatly refused, asserting, according to his secretary ^* '^^''^^■ 
and biographer, that the clergy are set apart and may not be 
subjected to lay jurisdiction. In reply Henry asked whether 
the bishops were willing to act in accordance with the ancient 
customs of the realm. The bishops did not hke the extreme 
position into which they were being forced by Becket, and even 
from the Pope, Alexander iii., letters were procured counselling 
moderation. Becket gave way so far as to promise that he 
would observe the customs of the realm. Henry required that 

170 The Angevin. Monarchy 

the promise should be given formally before a council, which 
should be followed by a recognition or formal statement of the 
customs in question. In January 1164 the council met at 
Clarendon. Archbishops and bishops gave the required promise, 
but when the recognition, known as the Constitutions of Claren- 
don, was produced, neither archbishops nor bishops signed it. 

The Constitutions reasserted principles which had without 
doubt been laid down in the time of the Conqueror and in the 
Th c n *™® °-^ Henry i., forbidding excommunication 

atitutiona and the departure of the ■ higher clergy from the 
country without the king's permission. The feudal 
character of the tenure of Church lands was affirmed in accord- 
ance with the settlement made between Anselm and Henry i. 
But on the question of criminous clerks it is more than doubtful 
whether Henry could claim any authority for what he called the 
' ancient customs ' — namely, the practice, which he had proposed 
at Westminster, that the accused should be tried by the ecclesi- 
astical court, and if he were found guilty should be degraded and 
handed over to the secular court. Becket, however, had techni- 
cally committed himself to the acceptance of the Constitutions, 
and that acceptance he was determined to evade. He obtained 
from the Pope a dispensation releasing him from his promise 
so far as it contravened the rights of the Church. For some time 
matters dragged on without an open rupture until one of Becket's 
tenants appealed to the Curia Regis, charging the archbishop's 
court with having denied him justice. Becket did not in person 
answer the summons ; whereupon he was cited before a council 
held at Northampton for what we should call contempt of court, 
and was fined. 

But Henry was not satisfied. Apparently he was moved by 
a sudden furious determination to make Becket feel his power. 
Henry at- Without warning, he put forward a series of demands 
tacks Beonet. £qj. ^j^g restitution of moneys of which no account 
had been rendered during Becket's chancellorship — in spite of 
the formal promise of indemnity which had been given at the 
time of his consecration to the archbishopric. To meet the 
demand, it would have been necessary to sequestrate the arch- 

Henry Plantagenet 1 7 1 

bishop's revenues for some time to come. Henry may have in- 
tended only to force the archbishop to a humiUating submission, 
but drove him instead to adopt the more congenial r61e of an 
expectant martyr. Becket played the part with thoroughness, 
and with a full appreciation of stage effects. The imputation that 
his death was intended may have been quite sincere, but made 
it impossible for either the king or the archbishop to recede. 
If Becket posed as the victim of tyranny, any concession on the 
part of the king would be an admission that he had been playing 
the tyrant. Becket's defiance was condemned by the lay barons 
of the Curia Regis, who doubtless found some satisfaction in 
denouncing him as a perjured traitor. The archbishop hurled, 
back the charge defiantly ; but on the same night he disappeared, 
and a few days later escaped from the country in disguise. 

Nearly six years passed before the exiled archbishop returned 
to England. Whether from fear or from conviction, the clergy 
after his departure would not actively take his side. Becket 
The laity were pronouncedly against him. The ^" ^^^^*' 
Pope, who was himself in exile, could not for political reasons 
venture to alienate England by taking extreme measures against 
Henry. In 1166 Becket fulminated excommunications and 
threats of excommunications from his retreat in Burgundy. By 
so doing he annoyed both the clergy in England and the Pope. 
Next year the Pope tried, unsuccessfully, to mediate, and the 
attempt was twice renewed in 1169, with no better results. In 
the meantime Becket, instead of seeking reconciliation, had 
added a number of persons, including a couple of bishops, to the 
list of those whom he excommunicated. In 1170 Henry pro- 
ceeded to have his eldest son crowned as his heir, in accordance 
with French precedent ; and in the absence of the archbishop 
of Canterbury the ceremony was performed by the archbishop 
of York. Coronation was the prerogative of the primate. The 
Pope recognised the fact, and threatened to suspend the bishops 
who had taken part in the ceremony, and to lay Henry's 
French dominions under an interdict. This was more than 
Henry would face ; he met the archbishop, went through a 
form of reconciliation, and permitted his return to England, 

172 The Angevin Monarchy 

while practically the whole of the questions in dispute were 

On 1st December 1170 Becket landed ; the king and his court 
were in Normandy. But the truce was no peace. The arch- 
Murder of bishop issued letters to the archbishop of York and 
Beoket. ^j^g bishops of London, SaUsbury, Durham, and 

Rochester, suspending or excommunicating them for their share 
in the coronation proceedings. The news was carried to Henry, 
who burst into a violent rage. Four knights who had a grudge 
against the archbishop caught 'at the words uttered by the king 
in his passion, slipped from the court, hurried down to the sea, 
and took ship for England. They made straight for Canter- 
bury, and slew the archbishop in his own cathedral. He had 
won his martyr's crown, and with it the cause for which he had 
fought. With the guilt of the murder upon his head, Henry was 
paralysed. For more than three hundred and fifty years the 
jurisdiction of the Church over the clergy, and all that concerned 
the clergy, was confirmed. 

For the moment at least Henry was helpless before the storm 
of horrified indignation caused by the murder of the archbishop, 
who immediately received a popular canonisation, officially 
ratified three years afterwards. Without delay an embassy of 
submission was dispatched to the Pope, promising entire obedi- 
ence to whatever judgment he might pronounce after investiga- 
End of tue tion. It was as impossible to question that the 
struggle. murder had been incited by Henry's words as that 
he had never contemplated it in intention. It was perhaps with 
the precise object of postponing to an hour of less excitement 
the next stage of controversy or reconciliation that Henry in 
1 171 betook himself to Ireland to claim the suzerainty of the 
islaiid, which had been brought within his reach by the operations 
of Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke, best known as Strongbow. 
Hence it was not till 1172 that the king met the papal legates at 
Avranches, and arranged the terms of the absolution which was 
granted four months afterwards, in September. For practical 
purposes Henry surrendered completely on the most conspicuous 
point which had been in dispute ; but it was also the one point 

Henry Plantagenet 173 

on which it was more than doubtful whether his demands were 
borne out by those " customs of the reahn ' upon which he relied. 
Clerks accused of crime were not to be amenable to the secular 
courts. Yet only in one other respect did the king give way : 
he would no longer prohibit appeals to Rome. It was a matter 
of course that an amnesty was given to Becket's supporters 
and that the lands of Canterbury were restored. On the other 
hand, the king retained in effect his power of controlling ecclesi- 
astical appointments ; and when a few years later another pope 
attempted to claim the right of exacting additional tribute, the 
Crown was able successfully to resist the demand. 

Henry had now reached the middle year of his reign — the 
eighteenth — and he was not yet forty years old. Of his four 
sons the eldest, Henry, was nineteen, and the uie idng's 
youngest, John, was only four. Those sons ^ were to ^™^- 
be the bane of the remaining years of his life, stirred up against 
him perpetually by their vindictive mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, 
who thus avenged herself for her husband's infidelities. The 
three elder sons, not widely separated in years, all had certain 
qualities in common : a showy magnificence, a wild reckless- 
ness, a strong personal fascination ; all had a brilliancy which 
appealed vividly to contemporary imagination. None had any 
conception of moral responsibilities other than those of a knight- 
errant. If the king had been as wise a man in the treatment 
of his sons as in the treatment of his baronage and in his adminis- 
tration of England, he would have kept those sons undpr his own 
guidance and under very firm control ; but his actual conduct 
towards them is psychologically extremely puzzhng. With the 
apparent intention of preventing later disputes among them, 
he partitioned his empire between them at a very early stage, 
before the birth of his youngest son, John. Henry was td have 
the lion's share — the kingdom of England, and the duchy of 
Normandy with Anjou. Richard, the second son, was to have 
the maternal inheritance of Aquitaine and Poitou. The third 
son, Geoffrey, was to marry Constance, the heiress of the count 
of Brittany, and was to succeed to the county itself together 

' See Genealogies, II., The Norman Line and the Early Plantagenets. 

1 74 The Angevin Monarchy 

with the overlordship. One at least among the king's motives 
for annexing Ireland was probably the wish to provide a separate 
inheritance for the son who came into the world after the par- 
tition had been made. But while the boys were taught to 
regard themselves as already lords of these dominions, Henry 
permitted them no share in the administration ; he would allow 
no fragment of effective control within his empire to pass out of 
his own hands. 

It may well have appeared that the catastrophe of 1170 had 
shaken King Henry's power to its foundation. In 1172 Prince 
Eev It of Henry, incited by his mother, fled to the court of 
Henry the the king of France, whose daughter he had married, 
and put forward the demand that he should be 
placed immediately in effective possession either of Normandy 
or of England. For the moment the prince was induced to 
return ; but the king was negotiating for the betrothal of the 
child John to the daughter of the count of Maurienne ; and to 
secure this alhance he promised to bestow a portion of Anjou 
on the boy. Prince Henry again fled to Louis, and refused to 
be deprived of any portion of what he looked upon as his own 
actual property. Before the spring of 1173 was weU advanced, 
Geoffrey and Richard had joined their brother, every enemy of 
Henry was arming, and the flames of insurrection were kindled 
in every quarter of his dominions. But the fuel was apparently 
inadequate. The young princes refused the king's offer to in- 
vest each of them at once with a large share of his inheritance ; 
but when they invaded Normandy the populace in the towns 
gave them no assistance ; in England the justiciars with the 
shire levies suppressed the revolt of a few barons with unex- 
pected ease. WiUiam the Lion, king of Scotland, who raided 

Homage of ^'^^^ ^^ ""^^'^ ^^ ^" ^^ °^ ^^^ princes, fell with a 

William small party of knights into the hands of a greatly 

the Lion. . ^ ■ ■. , o j 

supenor force — an accident for which a fog was 

responsible — and was carried off prisoner to King Henry at 

Falaise. The unlucky king of Scots was obhged to render the 

one quite indubitable act of complete homage for the Scots 

kingdom, as a vassal of the king of England, of which there is 

Henry Plantagenet 175 

record. The Scottish barons also had to swear fealty, but the 
Scottish bishops in their expressions of obedience to the supre- 
macy of the English Church were extremely ambiguous. Before 
the autumn of 1175 the whole affair was over. The princes 
submitted, and were generously treated by their father, though 
Richard was the only one of them who was allowed Henry's 
to exercise authority in his own duchy. Henry's triumpii. 
success had decisively proved the stability of his power, since 
the combination against him had been in appearance exceedingly 
formidable. The disintegrating feudalism which had threatened 
to become estabhshed in England during Stephen's reign ihad 
been completely curbed, and he found no need for displaying 
any vindictiveness towards the rebels ; even their estates were 
not forfeited. The demonstration of the king's strength was 
final and decisive ; and it was also held to have proved that the 
murder of St. Thomas was forgiven, since the final blow struck 
by Henry had been preceded by a penitential pilgrimage to the 
martyr's tomb. To the years which follow belong for the most 
part the measures which completed the king's work as adminis- 
trator and organiser. 

Though England remained undisturbed for the rest of the 
reign the king's days were not to be passed in peace ; and the 
accession of PhiUp Augustus to the French throne PUUp 11. 
at the end of 1179 gave to France a king whose reign was of 
material importance in English history. Phihp was very far 
from being a great man, but he possessed one invaluable quality, 
he knew what he wanted ; and what he wanted he pursued 
unperturbed by any scruples. No principles either of chivalry 
or of a higher morality were allowed to stand in his way, and his 
malign influence was perpetually exerted, without regard to 
either honour or gratitude, to foment among his neighbours or 
rivals the discords of which he reaped the profits. 

In 1 182 Richard was already displaying in Poitou, in the sup- 
pression of a revolt, the miUtary talents which he possessed. 
But his operations led to an angry quarrel with Family 
Henry the younger ; and by the beginning of 1183 <i"sensions. 
the brothers were at open war, Geoffrey also taking part with 

176 The Angevin Monarchy 

Henry. The king, at first disposed to favour his eldest son, 
presently intervened in order to compose the quarrel ; but 
Henry and Geoffrey turned on him. Then Henry the younger 
died, and Richard became his father's heir-apparent. In 1186 
Geoffrey also died ; a posthumous son, Arthur, was born, but 
the child's claims to the overlordship of Brittany were set aside. 
The king wished Richard to resign Aquitaine to John, but 
Richard refused. Thus there was plenty of opening for fierce 
dissensions. These were for a time held in check by the general 
anxiety which was being caused by the disasters which were 
befalling the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem — disasters which 
culminated in the capture of the holy city by the Sultan Saladin 
in 1187. Energetic efforts were made to unite Western Christen- 
dom in a great crusade. Richard was eager to take the cross ; 
all the potentates of Europe professed their zeal. Yet in 1188 
Richard was quarrelling so angrily with PhiUp of France that 
they in turn came to open war. Henry intervened on his son's 
side, but Phihp induced Richard to believe that the king intended 
to supplant him in favour of John. Richard and Phihp made 
common cause ; and young John himself was brought into the 

For the first time in his life Henry lost his nerve, bewildered 
apparently by the sheer incredibility of the conspiracy. He 
The end of could neither fight nor plan. In the summer of 
Henry II. 1 189, in utterly shattered health, he was fleeing from 
place to place to escape the victorious arms of his son and the 
king of France. At last the dying king submitted. He would 
yield everything which was demanded of him. He would forgive 
all his enemies, even Richard himself. But there was one more 
blow still to come. He asked for the hst of those who had joined 
in the conspiracy. The first name on the hst that met his eye 
was that of the favourite child John, for whose sake he had 
quarrelled with Richard. The shock killed him. Richard in a 
passion of remorse came with aU haste to fling himself by the side 
of his dead father ; blood trickled from the nostrils of the corpse 
— a sign in the eyes of men of the presence of the murderer. 

The Annexation of Ireland 177 

II. The Annexation of Ireland, 1169-1172 

So far we have traced the personal side of the reign of King 
Henry 11., the story of a strong man whose vigour and capacity 
established his personal supremacy in a country which had been 
suffering from the wildest anarchy. We have still to examine 
the really vital characteristic of his reign, the estabHshment of a 
systematic centralised government which made law and order 
permanent, providing a working machinery which remained 
effective even in the midst of civil broils, and the basis of a 
pohtical structure of which the development held in check both 
feudal disintegration and arbitrary despotism. But before we 
turn to this branch of the subject we have still to narrate an 
incident which permanently influenced the national history, 
though its occurrence in Henry's reign was a mere accident. 

Celtic Ireland had always been separate from Britain poUtically 

as well as geographically. Scots from Ireland crossed over to 

Caledonia and gave their name to the kingdom of , , . . 
° ° Ireland to 

Scotland. Irish missionaries taught Christianity the eieventu 
to the Scots and Picts. But the only invasion 
of Ireland by the Angles was a great raid by that Northum- 
brian king Ecgfrith whose power was broken at Nechtansmere. 
Nowhere in the world was Celticism so unmitigated ; for even 
the Romans had left the land entirely alone. Whatever was not 
Celtic was pre-Celtic. Even Danes and Norsemen made no 
organised attempt at conquest. The vikings planted themselves 
here and there at seaports — Dubhn, Wexford, Waterford, and 
elsewhere — as they planted themselves in the Hebrides and on 
the inlets of the western Scottish coast ; but there was nothing 
which at all corresponded to the great and prolonged invasion 
which was only prevented from mastering England by the stub- 
bom stand of Wessex. The ' Ostmen,' whether they were the 
' fair strangers ' from Norway or the ' dark strangers ' from 
Denmark, never set about a conquest, though once they threat- 
ened to make the attempt, when they were triumphantly routed 
at Clontarf by the great king Brian Boroihme in 1014. Norse 
Olaf and Danish Sweyn or Knut had other matters to occupy 

Innes's Eng. Hist— Vol. i. M 

1 78 The Angevin Monarchy 

them than the conquest of Ireland ; Brian's great victory was 
won over the comparatively small forces of Norse and Danish 
colonists, supported by casual vikings. 

Celtic Ireland, then, stood outside the pale of the normal Western 
civihsation, untouched either by Latinism or by Teutonism. 
The Irish In the eyes of Rome her Church was schismatic ; in 
polity. ^jjg gygg Qf ^.jjg world her poUty was mere barbarism. 

There has never been a great Celtic state, because the Celt has 
required to be either Latinised or Teutonised before he attains 
to the real conception of a body poHtic. In Ireland that con- 
ception never was attained, any more than in the highlands of 
Scotland. Tribahsm is the deadly enemy of unification. The 
Irish organisation was essentially tribal ; the aggregate of septs 
formed the clan, the aggregate of clans formed the tribe, and 
the nearest approach to unity lay in the recognition of the chief 
of one tribe as holding some sort of supremacy over the rest. 
There was usually a king of Ireland superior to the sub-kings, 
but the superiority counted for less than that of any EngUsh 
Bretwalda, and for very much less than that of Ecgbert or any 
of his successors. In fact, no central government existed ; the 
very kingships descended by a much looser law of succession even 
than that which prevailed in England. Primogeniture, even 
legitimacy of birth, was scarcely reckoned in fixing the succession, 
which was continually disputed. There was no codified law, 
but the customs were preserved in the Brehon Law handed 
down traditionally by the body of interpreters called Brehons. 
In the twelfth century, so far as the Irish could be called a nation 
at all, they were a confederacy of five kingdoms — Ulster, Munster, 
Leinster, Connaught, and Meath — over which the king of Con- 
naught claimed a general superiority as ' high king ' ; but, having 
no common foreign foe, the confederate kings were generally at 
war with each other. 

It was said of the Conqueror just before his death that but 
for that event he would have made himself lord of Ireland ' by 
Projects of his wisdom without war ' ; but this casual state- 
annexation, jnent of the chronicler is the only evidence we have 
that he ever contemplated the annexation of Ireland. Rufus, 

The Annexation of Ireland 179 

in one of his moments of megalomania, talked of bridging the 
Irish Channel with ships and conquering Ireland ; but he never 
made the attempt. Henry i. never wanted to rule over a larger 
territory than he could see his way to control. When Henry 11. 
came to the throne of England the large ambitions of his youth 
led him to contemplate the acquisition of Ireland as a possible 
scheme ; and with that end in view he procured from the one 
EngUsh pope, Adrian iv., a bull authorising him to take posses- 
sion of Ireland and to bring that schismatic country into the 
fold of the Church. On the general theory that Ireland was 
in -partibus infidelium, not a Christian country, it would be re- 
garded as something which lay in the dominion of the Pope ; and 
at any rate there was no harm in seeking a papal authority like 
that which the Conqueror had sought for his expedition to 
England. The whole affair, however, had then been allowed to 
drop. The conquest of Ireland was a merely speculative prob- 
lem, while the affairs of Aquitaine and the quarrel with Becket 
were practical and pressing. Left to himself, Henry would very 
probably have thought no more about Ireland. 

But Henry was not left to himself. In the days of King 
Stephen, Dermot M'Murrough was king of Leinster. Dermot 
quarrelled with Tiernay O'Rourke ; and the quarrel The king of 
between them raged till 1166, when O'Rourke pro- I'^^i'ster. 
cured the help of Roderick O'Connor of Connaught, the high 
king of Ireland. Since the siege of Troy, stories of abduction 
have been freely resorted to as explanations of great events ; 
and so, truthfully or not, the feud between Dermot and Tiernay 
is attributed to the abduction by the former of the wife of the 
latter. Whether or not this legend be true, Tiernay and Roderick 
overcame Dermot, drove him out of the coimtry, and took posses- 
sion of Leinster. The angry fugitive, caring only for restoration 
and revenge, turned to the mighty king of England for aid, and 
sought to attract him by proffering his own allegiance as the 
reward of successful intervention. Henry was busy in France 
at the time, and much more anxious about the Pope's attitude 
on the Becket controversy than about affairs in Ireland. He 
dismissed Dermot, but gave him leave to collect volunteers in 

i8o The Angevin Monarchy 

England if he could. Seeking then for adventurous allies, Dermot 
lighted upon Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke, popularly 
The Norman known as Strongbow, a man who had wasted his 
adventurers, patrimony and lost all opportunities of advancement 
by a persistent adherence to the cause of King Stephen. Strong- 
bow was quite ready to help Dermot back to his kingdom at his 
own price — the hand of the king's daughter, the reversion of the 
kingdom, and the reservation of his allegiance to the king of 
England. But since the bargain was not immediately struck, 
Dermot collected others of the Marcher barons, notably two half- 
brothers, Fitzgerald and Fitzstephen, who were less exacting in 
their demands. In 1169 the pair landed in Ireland with a force 
of about a hundred knights and three or four times as many Welsh 
archers armed with the long-bow — the first time that we hear of 
the weapon which was later to become so effective in the hands 
of the Enghsh yeoman. The troops, though few, were such as 
the Irishmen had never met before. In the open, or in the storm- 
ing of a town, the levies of O'Rourke and the high king stood no 
chance ; so in a very short time they had to come to terms with 
Dermot, and restored him to his kingdom. 

But Dermot was not satisfied ; with allies of this type he could 
make himself master of Ireland. He appealed again to Strong- 
strongbow bow. Strongbow appealed to the king to grant 
in Ireland. j^jjjj ^j^jg desperate chance of reinstating his fortunes. 
Leave was granted, and in August 1170 he landed in Ireland with 
a force rather more than double that of Fitzgerald. The Ostmen 
of Waterford and Dublin were no match for Strongbow's soldiery. 
The adventurer captured Waterford, married Dermot's daughter 
in accordance with his claim, and then seized DubUn, from which 
the Ostmen retired to their kinsmen of the Hebrides. But the 
supply of recruits was cut off by order of King Henry, who had 
no mind to aEow one of his own subjects to make himself king 
of Ireland. Dermot died, and the clansmen declined to recog- 
nise his son-in-law's title. They elected a new king ; the high 
king took heart of grace and came down to their help, and the 
adventurers found themselves shut up in Dublin, Wexford and 
Waterford. Strongbow, though he could still rout the enemy, saw 

The Annexation of Irelmid i8i 

that nothing effective could be accomphshed without more help. 
In September 1171 he went himself to England to seek the king. 
He found Henry already resolved on maldng an expedition to 
Ireland in person. For himself he obtained terms with which 
he was satisfied. He did homage for an earldom in Leinster, 
returned to Ireland in company with the king and a large force, 
and remained there merely in the character of a loyal baron. 

If Irish princes had been unable to hold their own, or barely able 
to hold their own, against the extremely limited forces of the ad- 
venturers, they knew that it would be futile for them Henry 11. 
to challenge the armed strength of the king of Eng- ''^ Ireland, 
land, though the high king Roderick retired to Connaught and 
refused to make submission. Henry had neither time nor in- 
cUnation to organise the complete subjection of the country ; 
he was not yet clear of the trouble consequent upon the murder 
of Becket. He established garrisons in Waterford, Wexford and 
DubUn, appointed Hugh de Lacey justiciar or governor-general, 
and gave him the second great earldom, that of Meath, to 
counterbalance Leinster. He demanded and received the 
homage of most of the Irish chiefs ; and the Irish clergy at the 
council of Cashel declared their adhesion to the new government. 
There was among them a strong party of reformers, who wished 
to establish the Latin system and the Roman obedience in place 
of the lax and unorthodox ecclesiastical system which prevailed. 
And they may very well have beheved that they were assisting 
in the inauguration of a government which would establish order 
and law in the place of something very hke anarchy. The 
establishment of the Roman system, the Roman method, and the 
Roman obedience was the victory of the reforming party. 

Henry had annexed Ireland by accident. To say that the 
country was in any reasonable sense conquered is absurd, al- 
though there is no doubt at all that it might have The Pale, 
been conquered. The position was very much as if the Con- 
queror after Hastings had distributed the forfeited lands in 
Wessex among his followers, and had then left England never 
to return to it again. A few Norman barons were estabUshed 
in the eastern counties — ' The EngUsh Pale ' — corresponding 

1 82 The Angevin Monarchy 

roughly to the modem Leinster ; but not half even of Leinster 
felt the authority of the justiciar at Dubhn. Henry saw that 
he had no reason to fear a dangerous extension of the power of 
his vassals as a result of the proceedings in Ireland ; he was 
satisfied to leave it to the provisional government, and beyond 
that he never went. Roderick O'Connor by swearing fealty 
completed the technical submission of the island. De Lacey as 
justiciar did what he could to estabhsh authority within the pale 
by building castles at strategical points, and by conciUating Irish 
chiefs. But Henry was more inchned to hamper his justiciar 
than to support him. Matters were not improved when, in 1185, 
Prince John was sent over to make his first experiment as prac- 
tical ruler of the land which was intended to be his appanage. 
He insulted the native chiefs and did not concihate the Normans. 
He was promptly recalled, and no serious effort was again made 
to create a strong government in Ireland. 

The annexation was an evil but accurate augury of the future 
treatment of the country. The dominion of a part of it was won 
by adventurers. A king of England, their suzerain, declared 
his sovereignty over the whole island, but took no measures to 
organise a government strong enough to extend its authority 
outside a very small area. The adventurers extended their 
dominions by means either of private wars or marriages, outside 
the control of the central authority, which had no power to call 
them to account. They adopted, or adapted themselves to, the 
Irish customs, and preserved or dropped Norman customs, as 
seemed good to them. They identified themselves with their 
new country ; the typical ' Irishmen ' of a later day were Geral- 
dines and Butlers, Burkes who were De Burghs, M'Mahons who 
were Fitzurses, no less than O'Neills, O'Connors and O'Briens. 
But they created a caste which was at once ahen to the Irish 
themselves and hostile to Enghsh control, turbulent and reckless. 
And never a king of England found leisure to give the govern- 
ment of Ireland serious consideration or attention, or suppUed 
his deputies with the means of making the central government 
a reality. 

The Organisation of England 183 

III. The Organisation of England, 1156-1189 

The Norman Conquest, while it did not professedly change 
the system which it found existing in England, in fact created 
a dominant class of aliens born and bred under a The 
different system ; and therefore it necessitated a conquest, 
complete reorganisation. The first requirement was the estab- 
lishment of an irresistible central government, and this involved 
financial reconstruction ; the second need was for a reorganisation 
of the system of administering justice, adapted to the new con- 
ditions. The concentration of control in the hands of the Crown 
was the work of the first two kings ; it was the work of the third, 
Henry i., to lay down the lines upon which financial and judicial 
reconstruction were to be developed. Precisely how far that 
reconstruction was carried in the reign of Henry i. we have not 
sufficient materials to declare with certainty. It is in the reign 
of Henry 11. that it took definite shape, systematising what 
appears embryonic in the earlier reign, and intensifying the 
tendencies which were present therein. So far as lay in the 
power of Henry 11. the corruptions and deflections of the inter- 
vening reign of Stephen were simply cancelled. 

Under the Conqueror and his sons the government was the 
expression of the king's will, subject to the assent of the mag- 
nates, for the plain reason that the king could not, _. ^. . 
without very serious risk, quarrel with the body of the Great 
the magnates, lay and ecclesiastical. Wisdom re- 
quired him to be assured of a reasonable amount of support in 
his measures. If it appeared that the Crown was strong enough 
to get its own way, individual magnates might grumble, but the 
king could claim that he had received their formal assent to his 
proposals ; whether the assent actually obtained was only that of 
the permanent inner circle, or that of a formal assembly of the 
Great Council, or a more universal endorsement procured by 
summoning minor as well as greater "• barons. Practical con- 
siderations rather than any technical rule decided the character 
of the council taken into consultation. Practical considerations 

^ See Note v. , Who were Barons ? 

184 The Angevin Alonarchy 

led Henry 11. to consult the Great Council with frequency, not 
by way of extending its right to be consulted, but in order to 
throw upon it a direct responsibihty for the king's acts. He 
could avoid the appearance of arbitrary action, satisfy the tradi- 
tion of taking counsel with the wise men of the realm, induce or 
compel his most powerful subjects to commit themselves in favour 
of his own plans, without surrendering anything. The summon- 
ing of a council did not facihtate opposition in Henry's day as 
did the summoning of a parliament in the time of the Stuarts ; 
it provided rather a guarantee against opposition. At the worst 
it enabled the king to measure the strength of the opposition 
which he was likely to meet. Henry's practice of consulting the 
council was not in short the recognition of a limitation of arbitrary 
powers ; the councillors were summoned on the hypothesis that 
the king wished for advice, not that there was an obhgation to 
ask for it. But the precedents could afterwards be treated as 
implying an obligation on the part of the king, and a right to 
consultation on the part of the council. The actual limitation 
to the exercise of arbitrary powers lay in the possibility of armed 
resistance. When a Great Council was summoned, the king 
could gauge the risks ; he was enabled to make sure of the ac- 
quiescence which was necessary to give his methods effect ; the 
prospect of active co-operation was increased, and the danger 
of effective opposition was minimised. It was not the council 
which imposed its wiU upon the king, but the king who impressed 
upon the council that what he willed was to be done. 

It will appear then that while Henry's treatment of the Great 
Council prepared the way for the later development of its claims 
Power of to a limiting authority, that was not the hght in 

the Crown. which Henry regarded it. The object which he pur- 
sued with complete success was that of concentrating power in 
his own hands. Stephen's reign had shown how easily feudal 
privileges might be translated into a dangerous licence. Henry 
set himself, as we have already seen, to stay the Church's increas- 
ing independence of the royal authority ; it was by less obvious 
methods that, after the first suppression of anarchy, he proceeded 
to strengthen the royal authority at the expense of the greater 

The Organisation of England 185 

barons. In part this was effected by reforms in judicial and 
financial procedure, in part by the creation of what may be called 
a new baronage, the elevation of smaller men to greater rank and 
wealth. These men, owing their advancement to the royal 
favour, while it was displeasing to the existing powerful famihes, 
could not but be supporters of the Crown until the generation or 
two had passed which established them among the aristocracy. 
Scutage tended to bring into the king's hands a paid soldiery 
in place of feudal levies. It can only have been in the 
long run that this materially affected the military strength of 
the greater barons ; but an effective move in this direction, 
the strengthening of the Crown's military resources, was made 
by the Assize of Arms in 1181. The Norman kings had used the 
fyrd as a useful weapon against feudal insurrections ; but the 
fyrd had become only a partial levy of free landholders. By the 
Assize of Arms the system was developed so as to bring in not 
only all free landholders without exception, but also landless 
men with an income of ten marks. Every man was obliged to 
attend the summons appropriately armed ; the levy became a 
still more effective counterpoise than before to the feudal levies of 
the barons, and one more completely under the control of the 
king's own officers. 

The machinery of Henry i.'s Exchequer had been organised 
by Roger of Salisbury ; Henry 11. appointed Roger's nephew, 
Nigel, bishop of Ely, to re-establish his uncle's The 
system. Nigel ruled at the Exchequer until 1168, Exchequer. 
when he was succeeded in office by his son Richard FitzNeal, 
who retained his position till his death at the end of the reign 
of Richard Coeur de Lion. Thus, except during the gap in 
Stephen's reign, three generations of one family were at the head 
of the department for three-quarters of a century, throughout 
which a single tradition was preserved. The second Henry's 
operations affected not the methods but the sources of the 
revenue. When he came to the throne he found that the sup- 
plies were altogether inadequate. The Crown lands did not 
produce what they ought to have produced ; the same was the 
case with the danegeld, the one regular tax. Great sums which 

1 86 The Angevin Monarchy 

ought to have come into the treasury had become the perquisites 
of the sheriffs. At an early stage Henry sought for a new source 
of revenue in the extension of scutage to lay as well as to ecclesi- 
astical tenants ; but this scutage, a substitute for military service, 
could only be appUed in time of war, and was not resorted to by 
him with any frequency. Very soon after Becket became arch- 
bishop, his action foiled the king's attempt to appropriate the 
The sheriffs, impost called the sheriff's aid, a land-tax which 
went into the sheriff's pocket. It was not till 1170 that a really 
important change was made by the commission called the 
Inquest of Sheriffs — an inquiry into the conduct of those officers 
which resulted in wholesale dismissals ; and their places were 
taken not, as had been customary, by local magnates, but by 
men trained in the Curia Regis, who might be called professionals. 
The new type of sheriff, being actually, as weU as nominally, 
dependent on the king's favour, was zealous in exacting all that 
could be exacted for the benefit of the royal treasury ; the 
sheriff became, in fact, what he had previously been only in 
theory, an official whose primary interest was to bring grist to 
the king's miU, to make sure that nothing that ought to go to 
the king went to any one else. He was certainly not less exacting 
than the sheriff of the old type, but what he exacted went to its 
proper destination. The royal estates were set in order and de- 
veloped in a businesshke manner, and consequently they also 
became much more productive. 

On the other hand the danegeld was practically dropped, since 
the revenue derived from it had been so diminished by exemp- 

tions that it had become insignificant. Nothing 
sources of is heard in the reign of Henry 11. of the later funda- 

mental principle that there is to be no taxation 
without consent of parliament. The revenue out of which 
national expenditure had to be paid was the king's revenue. 
His normal revenue was derived from the produce of the royal 
demesne and the villeins on the royal manors. There were fees 
payable by sundry towns in lieu of royal rights which had been 
commuted. There were the fines and fees of the law courts, of 
which a proportion went to the royal treasury. There were 

The Organisation of England 187 

regular feudal aids : the relief payable by the heir to an estate 
on taking up his inheritance ; wardship, the enjoyment of the 
revenues of an estate during the minority of a tenant, whether a 
boy or a girl ; marriage, the right of controlhng the marriage of 
a ward who is a minor, which virtually makes such marriages a 
question of bargain and sale ; the fees also which the suzerain 
may claim from his vassals on knighting his eldest son or marrying 
his eldest daughter. To these, as affecting revenue, must be 
added escheat, the reversion of an estate to the suzerain on the 
failure of heirs, as well as the power of forfeiture when the vassal 
rebelled against his lord. In several of these cases it is obvious 
that there was no regularity ; they were in their nature occa- 
sional, and only in some cases had the amount which could be 
claimed become definitely fixed by custom. It was necessary 
that these sources of revenue should be supplemented. 

We have already spoken of scutage, which had been applied to 
ecclesiastical estates before the time of Henry 11., and in his 
reign was appUed when occasion served from 1159 .^^y 
onwards regularly to the towns, and perhaps to sources of 
mesne tenants, but rarely to tenants-in-chief. The 
king could also impose a tallage or extra contribution for special 
purposes on the royal estates ; and exemption from tallage was 
not one of the privileges conveyed to boroughs which had in 
other respects obtained immunity from royal claims. Here 
again there was no established hmit to the amount of the tallage. 
And besides these claims the king was in the habit of asking, for 
war purposes, what was nominally a free gift, donum, which could 
not with propriety be refused if a reasonable need for it could 
be shown, though such gifts were not legally compulsory. It 
would seem also that for special purposes it was open to the king, 
at least when the danegeld had been dropped, to impose, without 
any authority from the council, hidage or carucage, a tax on 
plough lands, very much like the original danegeld. Lastly, a 
complete innovation was introduced in 1188. Being a com- 
plete innovation, the assent of the council was ob- tho tax on 
tained for it. This was a tax of one-tenth upon pro- "'o'^i'ies. 
perty generally, movables as well as land, called the Saladin tithe. 

1 88 The Angevin Monarchy 

the purpose of it being to provide funds for what all Christendom 
was then acknowledging as a common duty — the rescue of Jeru- 
salem out of the hands of the Turk. The only precedent for a 
tax upon movables was in 1166, when in both England and 
France a very much smaller contribution was demanded, also 
with a view to a crusade. 

The first explicit sign of the reorganisation of the judicial 
administration appears with the Assize of Clarendon in 1166. 
Judicature- ^^ ^^"^^ ^^®" ^-^^^ Henry I. began the practice of 
Justices In occasionally sending from the Curia Regis to the 
provinces itinerant justices or justices m eyre, 
partly to supervise the local courts, and partly to meet the 
difficulties experienced by suitors in presenting themselves before 
the Curia Regis. In a desultory fashion, the practice survived 
the reign of Stephen, or was renewed after his death. The Assize 
of Clarendon regulated it, and appropriated to the justices all 
the extreme offences against person and property, theft, homi- 
cide, robbery and murder. It was not the business of the court 
to examine evidence ; when the offences occurred, it was the 
business of the hundred to fix upon the guilty person, and to 
present him as guilty before the justices. It was still open to 
him to clear himself by ordeal, but in no other way ; and if he 
failed, the justices passed sentence. The general effect was a 
much more rigorous enforcement of the law, and incidentally a 
large increase in the fines which went to the treasury. From 
1169 onwards a series of ' assizes,' notably the Grand Assize, 
secured the right of an appeal to the itinerant justices or to the 
Curia Regis in cases relating to real property. The meaning of 
the change was that the sheriff was deprived of a jurisdiction 
which in his hands was liable to outrageous abuse, to which the 
king's justices had no inducement. Also the ordeal disappeared 
in civil suits, and in criminal cases became only a means by 
which a person who had been found guilty might have the 
chance of clearing himself. 

Hitherto we have had no sign of trial by jury, unless it is to be 
suspected as a possibility through trials taking place before a 
committee of the shire court, instead of the whole body of the 

The Organisation of England 1 89 

suitors. But the jury, the group of ' sworn men,' had been 
called in for a different purpose. The commissioners who com- 
piled Domesday Book obtained their detailed infor- The jury, 
mation from a local ' jury ' of free men, who would know the 
facts and were sworn to state them truthfully. It would ap- 
pear that this employment of juries was already practised among 
the Normans. Now we find its application developed. When 
an accused person was brought before the itinerant justices he 
was presented by a jury of the hundred which had pronounced 
him guilty. This jury was a panel of ' lawful men ' selected by 
the sheriff, who combined the functions of witnesses and judges ; 
and in a similar manner a jury of lawful men of the neighbour- 
hood, who were presumed to know the facts, decided upon the 
issue in the questions relating to real property, which were then 
presented to the itinerant justices for judgment. The method 
was indeed still primitive, but it was the beginning of the principle 
that questions of fact should be judged by twelve ' good men and 
true,' representing the neighbourhood, by whatever means they 
may be selected. The judgment was the judgment of a popular 
court ; but it had become the business of the king's justices to 
see that fuU effect was given to the verdict. 

Henry's jury is more obviously the parent of the Grand Jury 
than of the Petty Jury ; but it contains the jury system in 
embryo. On another side, organisation under Henry is advanc- 
ing by differentiation of function. The Curia Regis was the 
inner circle of the king's councillors, which included Divisioa of 
the great officers of State — the justiciar and chan- ^oi^rta. 
cellor, the treasurer and chamberlain, the two chief military 
officers, the constable and marshal, and sundry other officials. 
It sat for the administration of justice, and in its financial capacity 
became the Court of Exchequer. In 1178 Henry recognised 
the advisability of restricting its main judicial functions to a 
select body of five justices — two clerics and three laymen — 
headed by the great lawyer, Ranulf Glanville, who two years later 
became justiciar. This court could deal with the great majority 
of cases much more rapidly and efficiently, and after its institu- 
tion only special cases were referred by it to the king. This 

I go The Angevin Monarchy 

judicial committee was known as the Curia Regis in Banco, the 
origin of the title of the Court of King's Bench. This was a 
further step in distinguishing and separating the group of func- 
tions, administrative and judicial, hitherto discharged by a single 

IV. Richard i., 1189-1199 

Of the ten years of the reign of Richard i. only some six months 
were spent by him in England, where very little of his earher life 
CceurdeLion. had been passed. He had been brought up on the 
hypothesis that his father's great dominion was to be divided, 
and that he himself was to be lord of Aquitaine and Poitou. 
Only since the death of Henry the younger had there been any 
idea that Richard was to be king of England. Richard's father 
had begun by regarding England as an appanage of his French 
dominions, but he had learnt before very long to give his king- 
dom the first place. In Richard's ambitions England never 
occupied the first place. His great and ennobling enthusiasm 
was the crusader's passion. When he was not absorbed by that 
emotion he was taken up with his Continental, not with Enghsh, 
pohcy. He did not rule England ; he remitted its rule to men 
who were happily for the most part able and anxious to govern 
on the old king's hnes ; but his own projects were costly, and he 
demanded of his justiciars the imposition of heavy taxation. 
England was heavily taxed, but she was not ill-governed ; the 
machinery of government was preserved, and in some respects 
improved, and while the king himself was not less emphatically 
a foreigner than any of his predecessors, the baronage became 
rapidly and increasingly national. 

Early impressions, derived perhaps from Ivanhoe, have fixed 
in the minds of most EngHshmen the beHef that the Norman 
The baronage and the Enghsh races were still somewhat violently 
Anglicised. differentiated ; but while the greater barons, who 
may be called the aristocracy, were still almost exclusively of 
Norman race, and the tiUers of the soil were exclusively Enghsh, 
the distinction of Saxon and Norman in the great intermediate 
mass of minor barons and free landholders had already to a great 

Richard I. 191 

extent disappeared. And the Norman aristocracy itself had 
learnt to identify its interests with the interests of England 
rather than of Normandy, through the persistence of the policy 
which separated the Norman from the Enghsh estates in the 
families which held land both in England and in Normandy. 
The practice of primogeniture, which passes on the whole of a 
man's landed estate to his eldest son, was not established ; the 
estates were parted among the sons ; and thus it befell con- 
stantly that a family became divided into the English branch or 
branches holding estates in England, and a Norman branch or 
branches holding estates in Normandy. This process had already 
been carried very far a hundred years after the Conquest, so that 
before the end of the twelfth century the interests of practically 
the whole of the baronage were entirely centred in England. 

Richard succeeded without opposition to his father's dominions. 
With an admirable personal generosity and freedom from spite- 
fulness, and with a sound political instinct, Richard 
took no vengeance on the men who had been loyal and tiie 
to his father, however vigorously they had opposed 
the rebellious sons. Almost without exception they retained 
his confidence and trust. The men who had hoped to make 
their profit by worshipping the rising sun were disappointed. 
To John no political power was entrusted, but he was hberally 
endowed with lordships both in England and in Normandy, 
and he was married to Isobel, the heiress of the great earldom of 
Gloucester, in spite of the protest of the archbishop of Canterbury, 
entered upon the score of consanguinity. The betrothal in the 
year 1173 to the heiress of the count of Maurienne had come to 
nothing, owing to the death of the prospective bride. The old 
queen Eleanor, who had stirred up the sons against their father, 
and had for a long time past been kept in custody by King Henry, 
was released ; and for the remainder of her days, when she was 
no longer actuated by vindictive motives, she played a very 
active and useful part in checking the malign activities of Prince 

But all Richard's energies were concentrated on the crusade. 
His first step in 1189, before he came to England at all, was to 

192 The Angevin Monarchy 

make terms with Philip Augustus so that the two kings might 
start for Palestine in the spring of 1190. In August he came 
Financing to England, where he remained for four months, 
the crusade, jj^g ^jj^g ^a,s chiefly occupied in raising funds, 
wherein Richard showed himself perfectly unscrupulous. Offices 
were sold right and left ; even permissions to resign office were 
sold. Richard meant the justiciarship to go to his low-bom 
Norman chancellor and secretary, William Longchamp, upon 
whom he could count as his own trustworthy agent. But Long- 
champ had to pay heavily, and the justiciarship was divided 
between him and the bishop of Durham, who also had to pay still 
more heavily. Something like a clean sweep was made of the 
sheriffships, which were sold for cash. For cash also Richard 
released William the Lion of Scotland from all the obligations 
imposed by the treaty of Falaise in 1175, and restored, without 
otherwise defining, the relations between the two Crowns which 
had subsisted before the king of Scots was made captive by the 
king of England. The archbishopric of York was bestowed, in 
accordance with the wish of the late king, upon his illegitimate 
son Geoffrey. By way of preventing disturbance, a promise was 
exacted from both John and Geoffrey that neither of them 
should go to England during Richard's absence on crusade ; but 
in John's case the prohibition was shortly afterwards withdrawn 
at the request of the queen mother. In December, after a mag- 
nificent coronation, Richard left England to complete his prepara- 
tions for the crusade, on which he was accompanied by the old 
archbishop of Canterbury, as well as by Ranulf Glanville. A 
legatine commission, procured from the Pope, made the chan- 
cellor Longchamp virtually supreme both in Church and State. 
From December 1189 to March 1194 Richard did not again set 
foot in his kingdom. 

This great crusade is pre-eminently picturesque ; to the bio- 
grapher of Richard i. it is of fundamental importance, but not 
The crusade, to the historian of England. It did not carry off 
to Palestine even any very large proportion of the Enghsh 
chivalry, and therefore the story of it can here be told only very 
briefly. The preparations both of Richard and PhiHp took 

Richard I. 193 

longer than had been expected. It was not till the end of June 
that the two kings met to make their final arrangements. Three 
months later they were both in Sicily and had begun to quarrel. 
Part of the original compact between them was that Richard 
was to marry Phihp's sister Alais. Richard now refused to marry 
Alais, on the ground of evil stories concerning her relations with 
his own father ; but the quarrel was patched up by the payment 
of ten thousand marks as compensation. Richard married 
instead, a short time afterwards, Berengaria, the daughter of 
the king of Navarre. He quarrelled also with the German king 
Henry vi., the successor of Frederick Barbarossa, who had 
recently lost his life while leading a great force overland on the 
crusade. Heqry claimed for himself the succession to the king- 
dom of Sicily, which Richard on the other hand secured to 
another claimant, Tancred. Richard did not leave Sicily till 
April 1191, and even then he tarried to conquer C3^rus before 
he reached Palestine in June. The conquest of Cyprus was of 
more than temporary importance, since it was retained as a 
Christian outpost for some four centuries. 

Richard was the last of the important arrivals. The Christian 
hosts were besieging Acre, the port which was regarded as the 
gate of the Holy Land. A contest was raging Eioiiardin 
among them because the crown of the kingdom of Palestine. 
Jerusalem was claimed by Guy of Lusignan and by Conrad of 
Montferrat. Philip of France supported Conrad, Richard sup- 
ported Guy, and the dissensions did not grow less. A few weeks 
later Acre fell. Philip was growing increasingly jealous of 
Richard, whose military skill and personal prowess were incom- 
parably superior to those of any of the other princes. Richard's 
violence added Leopold, the duke of Austria, to the list of his 
personal enemies. By the end of July the French king found 
excuses for returning to France ; and even before he got back 
to France he was intriguing to take advantage of Richard's 
absence for his destruction. 

After PhiUp's withdrawal Richard was recognised as com- 
mander-in-chief of the crusading forces. At the end of August 
he led his army by an extraordinarily difficult march to Jaffa, 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. I. N 

194 ^'^^ Angevin Monarchy 

inflicting a tremendous defeat by the way upon Saladin at 
Arsuf. As winter came on Richard moved upon Jerusalem. 
Eiohard's As he neared the holy city he realised the futility 
campaigns, ^f endeavouring to capture it. To preserve the 
communications between the army and the sea was impossible, 
since it was not feasible to detach any portion of the army itself, 
which was barely sufficient to invest Jerusalem. Even if Jeru- 
salem were taken, so large a proportion of the host meant to 
return home that no garrison adequate for its security could 
have been left. The crusaders fell back upon Askalon. Negotia- 
tions were opened with Saladin. Affairs in England were calling 
urgently for Richard's return. In April the election of a king 
who should take the command on Richard's retirement was 
carried through ; but the choice of the crusaders fell not upon 
Guy of Lusignan but upon Conrad of Montferrat. A few days 
later Conrad was assassinated by a member of the sect of the 
Assassins, whose chief was known as the Old Man of the Moun- 
tain. The motive of the murder was almost certainly personal ; 
but there were not wanting persons who ascribed it either to 
Saladin or to Richard. Evidently crusaders in general believed 
neither one charge nor the other. A new king was elected, 
Henry, count of Champagne, who was a nephew both of Richard 
and of Philip. Richard consented once more to lead the host 
against Jerusalem ; but zealous though he was, he was too 
good a soldier not to realise that the enterprise was hopeless. 
At the last moment he declared that he would not be responsible 
for leading the army to certain destruction, though he was ready 
to serve under any one who was willing to take the responsi- 
bility. No one was willing. The army again fell back to Acre. 
From July to September negotiations were again carried on 
which ended in September with a three years' truce. During 
Truce witn that time Acre and Tyre, with five other fortresses, 
Saladin. ^gj-g ^q remain in the hands of the Christians. In 

the next year the great Sultan died, but the crusading army had 
already dispersed. Richard had left by this time, immediately 
after the signing of the treaty. No other crusade of the same 
magnitude was ever again organised. Richard sailed for Europe, 

Richard I. 195 

but, in order to avoid passing through the hostile territory of 
Toulouse, he went up the Adriatic and found himself obUged 
to pass through the equally hostile territory of moiiardin 
Austria. His presence was detected ; he was taken captivity, 
prisoner by his enemy Leopold, and then Leopold found himself 
compelled to hand him over to the German emperor Henry vi., 
who held him a captive till his release in February 1194. Such 
is the bald account of the great crusade in which Richard proved 
himself a great captain, an incomparable warrior in the field, 
but far too fiery and arrogant to concihate hostihty or to control 
a confederate force which was perpetually sundered by personal 

The four years of Richard's absence from England were not 
without their troubles. Richard was hardly out of the country 
before a duel began between the two justiciars in Longciiamp 
which Longchamp came off the victor, and became "^ England, 
practically the king's representative. Longchamp, though not 
without abilities, had all the most offensive characteristics of 
the upstart. Richard in Sicily was pursued by complaints and 
demands for the removal of the chancellor, and before he left 
the island for the Holy Land, he gave a commission to Walter 
of Coutances, archbishop of Rouen, associating him with Long- 
champ in the regency, but also giving him power to supersede 
Longchamp altogether if he should find it necessary to do so. 
Even before the archbishop's arrival John had returned to 
England, and began to make trouble as the figurehead of a 
popular party in opposition to Longchamp. The archbishop 
succeeded in mediating between the prince and the chancellor, 
who were on the verge of open war, and effected a formal recon- 
ciHation. Then Geoffrey, archbishop of York, chose to return 
to England, declaring that he had been released from his promise 
to stay away. Geoffrey was arrested at Dover, and dragged from 
sanctuary by Longchamp's partisans. The general indignation 
caused Longchamp to deny that the arrest had been accom- 
phshed by his order. The Great Council was summoned, and 
Longchamp was called upon to explain his action. He took 
alarm, and did not present himself. He took refuge in London — 

196 The Angevin Monarchy 

where the council was again to meet — ^hoping to obtain the sup- 
port of the city ; but the Londoners got their own terms from 
the council, the promise of a ' Commune ' ; in other words, recog- 
nition as an independent self-governing community, with 
apparently a very oligarchical constitution, though its details 
are more than obscure. London withdrew its protection from 
Longchamp, who was deposed ; Walter of Coutances produced 
his commission and became justiciar about the end of 1191. 

John had not strengthened his position by the substitution of 
Walter of Coutances for Longchamp at the head of the govem- 
piots against ment, and the baronage had no quarrel with the 
Richard. jjg^ chief justiciar. John was reduced to private 

intriguing with PhiUp Augustus, who had just got back from 
Palestine, and was already busy la5dng snares for Richard's 
destruction. Philip began by offering John investiture with 
the French fiefs and the hand of Alais, the rejected of Richard. 
Neither Phihp nor John was disturbed by the fact that the latter 
had a wife ; but this particular design was discovered and 
stopped by the old queen Eleanor. Philip's feudatories flatly 
refused to help him in another scheme for taking forcible pos- 
session of Richard's territories ; a crusader's lands were immune 
during his absence. But at the end of 1192. Phihp learnt the 
news, which took a httle longer in reaching England, that 
Richard had fallen into the hands of Leopold. The government 
at once dispatched commissioners to discover the whereabouts 
of the captive, while John and Phihp struck a bargain, and John 
proclaimed in England that Richard was dead. - The lie met 
with no credence, and was soon disproved by the return of the 
commissioners with a letter from Richard himself. 

The emperor demanded a ransom of a hundred thousand marks, 
which a httle later was raised to a hundred and fifty thousand. 
Eiohard's But the king was not to be set free till two-thirds 
release. ^f ^j^g money was actually in hand, and it was not 

made known that one of the conditions of release was his doing 
homage for England as a fief of the empire. Phihp and John 
made desperate efforts to persuade Henry to keep the kine a 
prisoner for another year or hand him over to them ; but the 

Richard I. T97 

ransom was raised, and Henry did not care to accept their 
bribe. The baronage in England remained loyal to Richard, 
and their position was strengthened by the appointment to the 
now vacant archbishopric of Canterbury — Baldwin had died on 
the crusade — of Hubert Walter, bishop of Salisbury, who had also 
been with Richard in Palestine, and was very shortly afterwards 
made justiciar. The sum was enormous, but it was raised 
without opposition, though the taxation necessitated was un- 
precedentedly heavy. 

In February Richard was set free ; and in the middle of March 
he arrived in London to find the justiciar already proceeding 
against John, with full justification, as a rebel, fiitih^xtxa. 
seizing his castles, and taking possession of his England, 
fiefs. It was quite evident that as concerned 
England Richard had nothing to fear. He stayed in the country 
for only a couple of months, long enough for him to convince 
the Great Council that Philip's actions had made imperatively 
necessary a French war which required renewed taxation ; long 
enough also to repeat his old method of raising money by the sale 
of sheriffdoms and other offices, and the resumption of estates 
which had been sold four years before. The king's generosity 
was confined to those who did not deserve it. John was pardoned, 
and most of his fiefs were given back to him. 

The five years of life which remained to Richard were spent 
by him in France. On his return to Normandy he at once set 
about the attempt to recover the districts which Riciiard 
John had ceded to Philip ; but though his superi- ^'"* PMiip. 
ority in the field was manifest, all his territories had suffered 
too severely from taxation for the financing of his wars. At 
the end of the year a truce was made, very much to the advan- 
tage of Philip. In the next year Henry of Germany was en- 
couraging him to attack France by promises of support ; Philip 
declared the truce at an end, but Henry's promises were illusory. 
The mediation of the Pope stopped open hostiUties, and at the 
beginning of 1196 an actual treaty of peace was made, somewhat 
more favourable to Richard than the previous truce, sundry 
castles being restored to him. Richard, however, broke the 

igS The Angevin Monarchy 

terms by building the impregnable Chateau Gaillard at Les 
Andelys on the Seine, which commanded the entry into Nor- 
mandy. Philip protested, as he had every right to do, and 
Richard set about forming a great coahtion of the French king's 
feudatories. He gained an accession of strength more apparent 
than real when, on the death of the Emperor Henry, his own 
nephew. Otto of Saxony, was elected as the successor to the 
Imperial Crown. 

It may be that in course of time Richard would have been 
able to draw the bonds of the coalition tighter, in which case he 
The end of would probably have been able to force PhiUp to 
KioUard. j^ig knees. But in the time which remained there 

was nothing but desultory fighting. At the beginning of 1199 
Richard marched against one of his own feudatories, the viscount 
of Limoges, who refused to hand over to him an ancient and 
valuable golden ornament which one of his peasants had lighted 
upon when ploughing. While Richard was besieging one of the 
viscount's castles at Chaluz, he was wounded by a bolt from a 
crossbow ; the wound mortified, and in a few days the king was 
dead, leaving no child. 

During these years the government of England was in the 
hands of Hubert Walter, the archbishop of Canterbury, who 
had been appointed chief justiciar at the time of 
of Hubert Richard's release. Hubert was the nephew of the 
great justiciar of Henry 11., Ranulf Glanville ; he 
was also an experienced soldier, having accompanied Richard 
to Palestine in a military as well as an ecclesiastical capacity. 
Richard was justified in assuming that, with his exceptional 
birth and training, he might be counted upon to prove an 
efficient administrator, especially as he combined the highest 
ecclesiastical authority with his powers as justiciar. A capable 
administrator who would keep order and raise money was what 
Richard wanted. Hubert kept order, and succeeded in raising 
more money than Richard had any right to expect, after the 
immense burdens which had been laid upon the nation and 
borne with a quite remarkable equanimity. 

What is even more remarkable is the development under the 

Richard I. 199 

justiciar of a system of representation which, when apphed to the 
Great Council as a national assembly, was to form the basis of 
English parliamentary institutions. We have seen that the 
system already existed by which local juries pre- Representa- 
sented for trial the persons whom they had adjudged **°°' 
guilty of crime, laid before the king's court their awards on 
questions of property, and gave to the financial officers sworn 
information for the purposes of taxation, assessing the value both 
of land and of movables in the district. But these juries had 
hitherto been selected by the sheriff. Hubert Walter in 1194 
instructed the itinerant justices to arrange in each shire for the 
election by the shire court of four ' coroners,' who were to 
decide what cases should be brought before the justices. Further 
instructions were given in 1194, 1195 and 1196, which placed 
the selection of juries in the hands of a committee of four knights, 
who were to be elected by the shire court. This machinery for 
the election of ' knights of the shire ' afterwards became the 
machinery for sending knights representing the shire to the 
National Assembly. It was this which ultimately gave reality 
to the National Assembly, for until the introduction of represen- 
tation, a national assembly was scarcely distinguishable from a 
council of magnates ; only under very exceptional circumstances, 
as at the Moot of Sahsbury in 1036, could any large body of the 
king's lieges be assembled for consultative purposes. Even if 
the right of attendance existed, it was exercised in a wholly in- 
effective manner. But when the shire courts had become accus- 
tomed to the process of election, it became easy to make elected 
knights representative of the shire in a national assembly ; 
though it is exceedingly improbable that Hubert Walter had 
any idea of such an apphcation of the principle of election which 
he inaugurated. 

Immediately, however, the effect was to give to the knights 
of the shire a voice not in the central government, but in local 
administration. In the nature of things there was Knights of 
no class more interested in the preservation of law *^® shire, 
and order. Their interest became practical as well as abstract, 
when powers which had belonged to the sheriff were transferred 

200 The Angevin Monarchy 

to a committee elected virtually by their own body. Their 
active share in the administration was materially increased by 
the ordinance of 1195, which required the appointment of 
knights in every hundred to act as custodians of the peace and 
to control the 'hue and cry,' the local machinery for the capture 
of criminals. By being invested with responsibilities for local 
government, the knights were educated to take their part in 
the central government also. 

The same principle of election began to be appUed to the towns. 
In 1 194 the charter of Lincohl gave the borough the right of 
The towns. electing its own magistrate, a privilege which thence- 
forth habitually appears in the town charters. London retained 
its right of electing its mayor, granted to it when it was permitted 
to establish a commune at the time of Longchamp's dismissal. 
Otherwise the privileges then conceded would seem to have been 
in great part withdrawn, without detriment to the privileges 
which it previously possessed. It was again made Hable for tall- 
age, the arbitrary demands of the Crown as opposed to fixed 
Uabilities. It is in this connection that we hear of what may be 
called the first democratic attack upon the ohgarchical govern- 
ment of the city. A lawyer, WiUiam Fitzosbert, charged the 
civic authorities with assessing the charges for tallages unfairly, 
so as to favour the wealthy and oppress the poor. He was ac- 
cused of stirring the mob to violence by inflammatory harangues. 
An appeal to Hubert brought in the soldiery to arrest the 
orator ; he took sanctuary, but the church was fired over him. 
He was dragged from it, underwent a form of trial, and was then 
hanged. Respectable citizens applauded the action of the 
justiciar, but the Churchmen turned upon him for the violation 
of sanctuary. The story was carried to the Pope, Innocent iii., 
who invited King Richard to reheve the archbishop of his 
inappropriate secular duties. 

Meanwhile, however, Hubert had displeased both the baronage 
and the king. In answer to Richard's demand, the justiciar in 
Resistance II97 asked for a force of three hundred knights to 
to taxation, gg^g -^^ Normandy. Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, at 
the Great Council, replied that there was no claim for service 

John; the Loss of Normandy 201 

overseas. The pretension was supported by the bishop of 
Salisbury and sundry lay members of the council, though all 
precedent seems to have been on Walter's side. The justiciar 
had to give way and to seek compensation by imposing a heavy 
tax, duly authorised by the council, called carucage, on all land 
under the plough, every plough team of eight oxen paying five 
shillings. But this tax too was resolutely resisted or evaded, 
and the amount raised was insignificant in comparison with 
Richard's expectations. 

Hence Richard gave a not unwilling ear to Pope Innocent's 
demand in 1198 ; and the archbishop surrendered the iusticiar- 
ship, which was given to Geoffrey Fitzpeter, earl of Essex. 
Walter's retirement, however, was only for a brief season ; he 
did not resume the functions of justiciar, but he was very soon 
acting again virtually as the justiciar's colleague. 

V. John ; the Loss of Normandy, i 199-1205 

Richard was a brilliant soldier who Uved up to the moral code 
of his time ; that is to say, his misdeeds and vices were such as to 
permit of his being regarded as an ideal to be imitated Eiohard. 
by all chivalrous knights. But his conception of the duties of 
a king were elementary. His absenteeism — he spent barely six 
months in England altogether in his whole reign of very nearly 
ten years — left the government in the hands of justiciars and of 
the Great Council, many of whom had learnt to feel a sense of 
pubhc responsibility in the days of Richard's father. Left to 
themselves, their sense of responsibility increased, and apart 
from the weight of taxation it may be said that England was 
governed conscientiously. But Richard was succeeded by a 
brother who stands unrivalled as the most depraved prince who 
ever sat on the EngUsh throne, unless Aethelred the John. 
Redeless may claim to challenge that odious pre-eminence. John 
possessed a fair share of the abilities of his house ; on occasion 
he proved himself a brilHant strategist. But his actual talents 
were made useless, because he had no control whatever over his 

20 2 The Angevin Monarchy 

passions, no appreciation of moral considerations as factors in 
the actions of his neighbours, and no virtues of his own. At an 
earlier stage a tyrant of his type would have reduced the country 
to anarchy as certainly as a merely inefficient king hke Stephen ; 
an anarchy worse than that of Rufus, because Rufus could control 
others, even if he did not choose to control himself. But after 
the reign of Henry ii. the baronage themselves were too deeply 
imbued with a respect for the principles of orderly government ; 
and however much personal selfishness may have directed their 
action, they became the champions, not of their own class, but 
of law against tyranny. 

The succession to Richard's dominions was disputable. John 
was his youngest brother, but an heir to the intervening brother, 
John and Geoffrey of Brittany, had been bom, and, according 
Arthur. g^j- jg^st to modem ideas, had a stronger claim than 

his uncle. Nevertheless, both the barons of Normandy and the 
barons of England, although not without some hesitation, gave 
their adhesion to John, although most of them must have had 
a fairly sound appreciation of his character. The argument by 
which WilHam Marshal, earl of Pembroke, justified the preference 
for John will reappear later with the question of the inheritance 
of the crown of Scotland. John, as the brother, was declared to 
be nearer akin to Richard than a brother's son. But while 
England and Normandy declared for John, and the astonishingly 
vigorous old queen Eleanor, who was not far short of eighty, 
held Aquitaine for her son, Brittany, Anjou, and Maine declared 
for the young Arthur. The boy, with his mother Constance, 
hastened to seek the support of the suzerain, Philip of France, 
who was glad enough of the opportunity of spUtting up the 
Angevin inheritance. Phihp received his homage as lord of the 
three provinces. Probably he meant to leave both Normandy 
and Aquitaine to John if John would confirm the cessions of the 
treaty of iig6. 

John in the old days was ready enough to cede territory to 
Phihp in exchange for his help in stealing the crown of England 
from Richard. But he was in no hurry to surrender territory 
now. Richard's coaHtion was in his favour, and the emperor 

John ; the Loss of, Normandy 203 

Otto was more likely to render efficient help than had been 
possible at an earUer date. Arthur's party soon realised that 
Philip was considering no interests but his own ; no one was in 
the least inclined to help the unlucky boy merely on principle. 
Within the year PhiHp perceived his own advantage in acknow- 
ledging John as the successor to virtually the whole of Richard's 
possessions, including the overlordship of Brittany, of which 
Arthur was undeniably the Count. 

But John flung away the prize. He chose to desire the hand 
of Isobel, the still very young daughter of the count of Angou- 
leme. There were two objections to the match. John's 
John had been married for ten years to Isobel of ™3,rriage. 
Gloucester ; Isobel of Angouleme was betrothed to Hugh of 
Lusignan. Isobel of Gloucester was divorced, or rather the 
marriage with her was declared null, on the old plea of consan- 
guinity, and half the baronage of England were enraged at what 
they regarded as an insult to their order. John married Isobel 
of Angouleme, and half Poitou sided with the insulted Lusignans. 
Meanwhile Otto was again involved in troubles of his own, while 
the count of Flanders and others had thrown up the coalition 
in disgust at what they regarded as John's perfidy. John was in 
effect isolated. PhiMp took his opportunity, and summoned 
him as duke of Aquitaine to Paris to answer charges which had 
been brought against him by the Lusignans. John refused to 
appear ; Philip pronounced him recalcitrant, declared war upon 
him, and made a treaty with Arthur of Brittany. Arthur was 
to have the whole Angevin inheritance except Normandy ; and 
of Normandy Philip was to retain what he held and as much 
more as he could get. 

This was towards the midsummer of 1202. Before the end of 
July Arthur was sent to attempt to capture the old queen 
Eleanor. He was on the point of carrying the castle The war 
of Mirebeau, where she had shut herself up, when ''"*' ^*'''"^- 
the news reached John at Le Mans, eighty miles away. By a feat 
of marching almost without parallel, John reached Mirebeau in 
forty-eight hours ; the besiegers were completely taken by sur- 
prise, and Arthur himself, half the leaders of the Poitevin revolt. 

204 The Angevin Monarchy 

and some two hundred knights, were taken prisoner. But again 
John's misuse of his victory was turned to his own ruin. He 
kept Arthur a prisoner, though he had pledged himself to his 
own barons to set him at hberty. Numbers of the prisoners were 
treated with a brutahty which disgusted every one. Among the 
barons of Normandy the tide set against him. In the next few 
months defections multiphed ; and then an ominous rumour 
spread that Arthur had been murdered. No one beheved the 
story which was presently put forth by King John that he had 
been killed by a fall from the battlements in attempting to escape 
from his prison. The actual truth was never definitely ascer- 
tained, but the world at large believed that John had murdered 
his nephew with his own hands. 

The barons from England insisted on going home ; the barons 
of Normandy went over to Philip or remained inert. Fortress 
Loss of after fortress fell into the hands of the French king, 

Normandy. ^^^ before the end of the year John himself retreated 
to England, leaving Normandy to its fate. By the midsummer 
of 1204, even Rouen, the town most stubbornly loyal to the 
English connection, had been forced to capitulate. Normandy, 
Brittany, Maine, and Anjou were irrevocably lost. For a time 
it appeared not improbable that Aquitaine would follow suit. 
But, in spite of the death of old Queen Eleanor, Guienne and 
Gascony, with part of Poitou, held to the Enghsh connection. 
In fact the feudatories of south-western France, who enjoyed a 
large degree of independence, preferred for their suzerain the 
remote king of England, who could only reach them by sea, to 
the king of France, who could reach them much more easily ; 
and the great towns such as Bordeaux and Bayonne flourished 
greatly by reason of the trade with England. 

The retention of the curtailed Aquitaine was of value in the 
expansion of Enghsh trade, and provided a mihtary base in the 
Effect on later French wars. But it did not touch the vital 

England. change wrought by the loss of the northern half of 

the Angevin dominion of France. The baronage of England, 
closely connected with the baronage of Normandy, had no per- 
sonal associations with Aquitaine. The Norman connection 

John ; the Loss of Normandy 205 

had counteracted the development among them of English 
nationalism, the Aquitanian connection did not. The loss of 
Normandy, practically completed in 1204, made the provinces in 
France appendages of the kingdom of England ; whereas hitherto 
there had always been at least a possibility of England being 
secondary to the French dominions of Norman and Angevin 



I. King John, the Pope, and the Charter, 1205-1216 

While King John was engaged in losing Normandy, affairs in 
England went on very much on the same lines as during the last 
„ , , five years of King Richard's reign. Geoffrey Fitz- 

in John's peter remained the justiciar ; Hubert Walter, who 
was made chancellor by John, worked in harmony 
with Fitzpeter, whose policy accorded with his own. With 
them was associated Wilham Marshal, who had become earl of 
Pembroke by marrying the heiress of the De Clares. He had 
been conspicuously loyal to the old king Henry, but had not 
thereby forfeited the favour of Richard ; and now, though he 
was a person of courageous independence, he remained unshaken 
in his loyalty to the Crown. To these three men England owed 
it that she enjoyed a government tolerably firm and strong, and 
not without liberal elements, in spite of the inevitably heavy 
taxation while the king was out of the country. Charters 
conferring large powers of self-government were bestowed on 
several of the towns ; trade was encouraged ; and, on the other 
hand, the growing resentment of the baronage and the clergy 
at the heavy demands made on their purses, was mollified by the 
recognition of privileges which they claimed to have enjoyed in 
the past, but which now seemed in danger of disappearing. 

Nevertheless, resentment continued to grow at the king's 
demands for supphes and mihtary services in Normandy. 
Uneasiness. Richard's exactions had been resisted, though some 
warrant for them had been recognised in the king's prowess ; 
but no one believed in John's prowess, and men were neither 
ready to fight under his leadership nor to drain their purses 


King John, the Pope, and the Charter 207 

when they believed that their contributions to the war were 
being thrown away. A very heavy scutage was paid in 1199 ; 
but two years later a demand for military service was met by a 
demand for the remedying of grievances. The barons, however, 
gave way, and again paid the scutage ; but in 1203, those who 
were on service in Normandy left the king in the lurch. The 
king left Normandy to be overrun by Phihp, and in 1205 a levy 
for the avowed purpose of resisting a threatened invasion was 
duly answered. But when it was found that the army thus 
collected was intended for service overseas, the baronage flatly 
declined to have anything to do with it, their opposition being 
led by the archbishop and WiUiam Marshal. They had made up 
their minds that the recovery of Normandy was hopeless. 

Immediately after this fiasco the primacy was vacated by 
Hubert Walter's death. The king nominated his own confidant 
John de Grey, bishop of Norwich, for the arch- _. 
bishopric. Theoretically the right of election lay axciibiBiiop- 

ITIC 1205 

with the chapter, the monks of Christchurch, 
Canterbury ; in practice the bishops of the province exercised 
a voice ; but the real choice lay with the king. The chapter 
usually resented this usurpation of their legal rights ; and on 
this occasion a band of them met secretly, elected their own sub- 
prior, and hurried him off to Rome to procure the paUium. The 
circumstances leaked out. The more prudent members of the 
chapter upset the first election, and in conjunction with the 
bishops, elected De Grey, who also went off to get the paUium 
from the Pope. Having before him two claimants, both appar- 
ently irregularly appointed, Innocent iii. invited John to send 
a commission on the part of the chapter with fuU powers to make 
a fresh election at Rome, and a commission representing the 
Crown and the bishops with full powers to confirm the election. 
John took for granted in the circumstances that De Grey would 

be duly chosen ; but when the commissioners arrived, 

•' . Breach 

Innocent recommended them to set aside both the tpetween 

previous candidates and to elect Cardinal Stephen j^^^g^f jjj 
Langton, a distinguished Enghshman who had re- 
sided but Uttle in England. The choice, made in accordance 

2o8 Tlie Crown and the Barons 

with the papal recommendation, was in itself quite admirable ; 
but the conditions under which it had been made were entirely 
unconstitutional. John foamed with rage, and threatened 
Innocent with the loss of the papal revenues from England if 
the election were not cancelled. Innocent took the high hand, 
and commanded John to earn the favour of heaven and the Holy 
See by yielding to the papal authority. John seized the estates 
of Canterbury, and quartered mercenaries upon the monastery. 
Innocent threatened an interdict. John, alarmed, offered sub- 
mission, with a saving clause. The Pope would have no saving 
clause. John declared that he would forfeit the lands of any 
churchman who obeyed the interdict if it should be issued. In 
March 1207, fifteen months after Langton's election, the interdict 
was issued. 

The interdict did not deprive the people of the sacraments, 
but they were administered only under trying conditions, and 
The the churches were closed. The king seized the 

interdict. clerical revenues at large, and it was very soon under- 
stood that the law had virtuaU}'^ withdrawn its protection from 
clerics of every kind. The clergy starved, and the bishops took 
flight from the country. The populace in general would appear 
to have treated the whole affair with stoUd apathy. Neverthe- 
less, the moral effect of such a contest between the spiritual 
power and the Crown was serious. Even a king so strong as 
Henry 11. had been prepared to go great lengths to escape an 
interdict ; and still more recently the weapon had been success- 
fully employed against Phihp of France. And now behind the 
interdict lay the threat of excommunicati"on, which would give 
spiritual sanction to a repudiation of allegiance by the dis- 
contented baronage. At the end of 1209 the excommunication 
was pronounced. Nevertheless, the rebeUion of an aggrieved 
baron, WiUiam de Braose, on the Welsh marches, received no 
support in England, though when De Braose took flight to his 

, ^ , estates in Ireland he was well received in that 

JoxLn s 

apparent country even by WiUiam Marshal. At this period 

of his career John showed so much vigour that 

threatened risings in Wales and a threatened incursion from 

King John, the Pope, and the Charter 209 

Scotland only prepared the way for complete submission on 
the part of the Welsh princes and the acceptance of a some- 
what humiliating treaty by William the Lion. Even Ireland 
was temporarily reduced to something like order by an expedi- 
tion thither, conducted by the king in person. 

For more than two years after the excommunication it ap- 
peared that John was growing stronger and stronger ; but the 
ground was really crumbling away beneath his feet. The general 
repulsion caused by the murder of his nephew early in his reign 
was renewed by the savage vindictiveness which deliberately 
starved to death the captured wife and son of De Braose. Year 
after year crushing scutages embittered the baronage ; for it 
suited John much better to assemble large bands of mercenaries 
than to gather feudal levies for Welsh or Irish or Scottish ex- 
peditions. But John was unconscious of the gathering storm. 
His apparent strength was bringing a revival of foreign alUances. 
In the summer of 1212 John was preparing to strike another 
blow for Normandy, when warning came to him that the Pope 
was about to follow up the excommunication by a formal bull 
of deposition, and that none of the Enghsh baronage could be 
depended upon to stand by him. There was a general insur- 
rection in Wales which demanded prompt suppression, but John 
dared not trust the levies he had raised. He disbanded them 
and sent abroad for more mercenaries. King and people alike 
were iilled with superstitious excitement by the john takes 
prophecy of a crazy hermit that before twelve ^*'^'"- 
months were over John would lose his crown. The king's panic 
increased when Innocent invited Philip of France to give effect 
to the buU of deposition, and PhiUp collected an army which 
was to take possession of the English crown on behalf of his son 
and heir Louis. In April 1213 John had large forces gathered 
to repel the projected invasion ; the fleets of the Channel ports, 
always his most loyal subjects, since the fostering of the English 
marine was one of his very few creditable characteristics, dealt 
destructive blows at the French shipping. But again John dared 
not trust his levies ; he made up his mind to save himself by 
complete submission to the Pope. 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. I. O 

2 I o The Crown and the Barons 

Innocent had long been prepared to receive the submission 

arid to act upon it at a moment's notice. On 15th May the 

. . transaction between the Pope and the king was 

Subnussion '^ 

of John to completed. Stephen Langton was to be received 
°^*" in full favour as archbishop. All the fugitive pre- 
lates and monks were to be restored. Compensation was to be 
given for what the Church had been robbed of. Finally, John 
became the Pope's man, receiving the crown of England as his 
vassal, and pledging himself to the pajmient of an annual rent 
or tribute of a thousand marks. It may be observed that no 
less than five European sovereigns had already received their 
crowns from the Pope as his vassals. The Pope, on the other 
hand, at once prohibited Phihp's proposed invasion, since Eng- 
land was now a papal fief. Another destructive attack upon 
Erench shipping by an English fleet diminished the importance 
of the French king's declaration that he would not abandon an 
expedition which he had undertaken at Innocent's own request. 

John meant to turn the tables on King Phihp through the 
alHanqe with the Emperor Otto and the count of Flanders. The 
barons of England beheved as little as ever in the possibility or 
the advantage of recovering Normandy. First, they refused to 
move until the king had been formally released from his ex- 
communication. In July Stephen Langton absolved John as 
soon as he had repeated his promises to the Church, and the 
coronation pledges of just government. With a view to the 
removal of the interdict, steps were taken to ascertain the amount 
of compensation due to the churchmen, which it was necessar}' 
to make good from the royal domain. To that end a local jury, 
John and the reeve and four lawful men, was summoned from 
tne barons. gg^^-j^ Qf ^^ royal townships to attend the council 
and give information ; but this seems to be merely a variant on 
the ordinary practice of taking the information in a similar 
manner on the spot. Then John again called upon the barons 
to take part in an expedition to Poitou. They again refused, 
this time on the ground that they were not bound to serve 
beyond the four seas. John tried to shame them into following 
him by setting sail without them. They remained unmoved, 

King John, the Pope, and the Charter 211 

and he returned to march to the north, intent on punishing the 
recalcitrants, who were most conspicuous in that part of the 
country. But the barons and the clergy, headed by Langton, 
were all of opinion that it was the king's business to set his own 
house in order before indulging in military expeditions. Langton 
told John that he would be breaking his recently taken oath if 
he attempted to punish the barons without first bringing them 
to trial, and John had to yield to the archbishop's threat of 
renewing his excommunication. 

In October the old justiciar Geoffrey Fitzpeter died. Hitherto 
he, like his former colleague Hubert Walter, had stood between 
the Crown and the barons, restraining John and Death of 
pacifying the magnates, pressing reforms to the best ^t^P^ter. 
of his power, but upholding the authority of the Crown. Yet 
with a curious bhndness John hailed the news of his death with 
glee, as he had formerly hailed the news of the death of Hubert 
Walter. He felt only that he had been released from an irksome 
restraint ; he was soon to feel that he had lost much more 
than he had gained. The Poitevin Peter des Roches, bishop 
of Winchester, one of the two prelates who had held by John 
throughout, took Fitzpeter's place as justiciar. The new jus- 
ticiar was emphatically a king's man ; the most respected of the 
barons, William Marshal, was in effect the king's man ; but the 
moral force of the reform movement was concentrated in the 
person of Stephen Langton, and Langton was neither king's man 
nor baron, but an incarnation of the principles of law and justice ; 
as resolute as Anselm himself in following the path of duty, but 
with a conception of duty more statesmanlike and not less 

By the beginning of 1214 John had satisfied the Pope of the 
adequacy of his repentance. He had not satisfied the barons, 
but he was in a position to control a large force of mercenaries, 
which suited him much better than the levies of feudatories, on 
whom he could place no dependence. In February Bouvines. 
his plans were completed for the great stroke at Philip of France, 
and he sailed for Poitou. Philip was to be attacked on both 
sides : on the west by John and on the north-east by the emperor 

2 1 2 The Crown and the Barons 

and the count of Flanders, with whom a second more or less 
English force under John's half-brother WiUiam Longsword, 
earl of Sahsbury, was to co-operate. It seemed at first that all 
Poitou and Anjou as well would be recovered ; but the emperor 
dallied. It was not till July that the movement on the north- 
east began which ought to have crushed the king of France, who 
was fighting single-handed. Philip was obhged to leave his son 
Louis to hold John in check while he himself marched against 
the emperor. But Philip was not crushed ; on the contrary, 
at Bouvines the allied army was shattered, Salisbury and the 
count of Flanders were taken prisoner, Otto was put to flight, 
the coalition against Philip was broken to pieces, and John was 
left in isolation. The battle was a singularly decisive one. In 
effect it restored the ascendency of the Hohenstaufen in Ger- 
many and it made Phihp master of France. For England it 
set the seal on the loss of Normandy and brought on the great 
crisis which gave her Magna Carta. 

Philip was ready to make a peace which left John in pos- 
session of Gascony and Guienne. John returned to England in 
October, smarting with defeat and vengeful. His first step was 
to demand a heavy scutage. The northern barons took the lead 
in rejecting the claim, though their attitude seems to have been 
Charter of warranted by no precedent earlier than that set 
Henry I. by St. Hugh of Lincoln not twenty years before. 

In effect they meant to have grievances dealt with 
before they would admit any liability for supphes which it was 
in any way possible to question. They had taken up the idea, 
which was aknost certainly due to Stephen Langton, of resting 
their demands upon the charter of Henry i. and claiming a new 
charter based upon it. In the beginning of January 1215 they 
appeared in arms before the king and demanded the confirmation 
of Henry's Charter. John was given time till Easter for consider- 
ing the demand. During the interval the negotiations were 
conducted through the archbishop, who acted rather in the char- 
acter of an arbitrator or moderator than as a representative of 
either party. John made vain efforts to detach both the clergy 
and the populace from the baronage by specious promises. But 

King John, the Pope, and the Charter 2 1 3 

the strength of the baronial position lay in the fact that they 
had not taken their stand upon questions of their own privileges 
but upon the lawful rights of the whole community, xhe barona 
John's efforts to collect mercenaries were sufficient "" ^""°' 
proof that he meant to resist the demand by force. Before the 
end of April the barons collected a great army in the north and 
marched towards London. John retreated to Oxford. Langton 
on his behalf procured from the leaders a fresh schedule of 
grievances, on the presentation of which the king burst into a 
frenzy of rage, declaring that they might as well ask for his 
kingdom. He would have nothing to say to it. The barons 
formally renounced the allegiance which the suzerain had for- 
feited by breaking his part of the feudal contract. London 
admitted them cheerfully. John saw that his cause was hope- 
less, submitted, and set the seal to the Great Charter on 15th 
June 1215. 

The importance of the Charter does not lie in its specific con- 
tents. It was not, and it was not intended to be, revolutionary. 
It did not set out to curtail the rights of the Crown Magna carta, 
or to claim new privileges for the barons, the Church, or the 
people. Almost from beginning to end it was a statement of 
what those who drew it up believed to be the law of the realm ; 
but essentially it was a declaration that the king was bound by 
that law, and that his subjects were entitled to compel him by 
force to observe it. The king was required to give his formal 
assent to the proposition that the will of the king cannot override 
the law of the land. It asserted recognised general principles : 
that no man shall be punished without fair trial, that punish- 
ments must be proportionate to the offence, that justice shall 
not be denied nor delayed nor sold to any man. Specifically, 
the Church claimed its own recognised privileges, including the 
right of free election. The barons in greater detail claimed only 
privileges which they had always claimed ; they asserted for 
their own tenants against themselves, as well as for themselves 
against the king, immunity from arbitrary aids and fines as dis- 
tinct from the universally recognised aids, though they intro- 
duced no new forms of defence for villeins against arbitrary 

2 1 4 The Croiv7t and the Barons 

treatment by their lords, or for the towns against arbitrary 
treatment by the king, these being powers which had never 
been called in question. The Charter did nothing in the way. 
of creating parliamentary institutions. It claimed only that 
abnormal taxation should not be imposed except by consent of 
the Great Council, and it laid down, what does not appear to 
have been a new rule, that when a Great Council was to be held 
the greater barons should be summoned personally and the lesser 
barons by writs from the sheriff. This control of taxation by 
the Great Council has, comparatively speaking, the air of an 
innovation, since the clause was dropped in subsequent issues 
of the Charter, and we have no direct proof that the right had 
been previously recognised. Otherwise the one innovation is 
The only the construction of machinery by which the Charter 

innovatioD. jg ^q ]-,g enforced ; or, in other words, the Crown is 
to be coerced. It creates a committee of twenty-four lay barons, 
with the mayor of London, to review complaints against the 
Crown, and the committee have power to levy arms against the 
king. Here is to be found the precedent for the baronial com- 
mittees which were created from time to time during subsequent 
reigns ; and this is the one clause which points to the presence 
among the barons of a section which was aiming at an ohgarchy. 
Apart from it the Charter is essentially conservative ; it is 
directed to the interests of the general public ; and its one inno- 
vation is also the one feature which was not, and probably was 
not intended to be, permanent. 

For some weeks John made a show of intending to carry out 
the stipulations of the Charter. But within a couple of months 
The Pope he was hard at work collecting mercenaries, bribing 
Intervenes. a^ijjgg^ ^^d urging Innocent to cancel the Charter. 
On the other hand, the Charter had not gone far enough for the 
northern barons, some of whom refused to accept it as a settle- 
ment. The Pope pronounced sentence of excommunication 
against the disturbers of the kingdom ; Langton declined to 
enforce the sentence. Innocent issued a bull annuUing the 
Charter, and his legate in England, Pandulph, with Peter des 
Roches, suspended the archbishop. On the hypothesis that 

King John, the Pope, and the Charier 2 i 5 

England was a fief of Rome, Innocent was no doubt acting within 
his powers. 

The barons saw nothing for it but the deposition of John, 
though there was a strong party among them who refused to go 
so far. If John was to be deposed there was something to be said 
for the French prince Louis as his successor, since Louis's wife, 
Blanche of Castile, was the granddaughter of Henry 11. Re- 
belUous barons entered upon negotiations with Louis. The 
attitude of Innocent severed the clergy from the barons ; even 
Langton was silenced, and the party of resistance to the king 
became a party of extremists. 

A civil war began openly in October, and in January 1216 a 
French force arrived in the country to assist the barons. PhiUp 
of France, threatened by the Pope, denied all re- civil war. 
sponsibility for his son's proceedings, though he was palpably 
encouraging them. But Louis was not ready to move himself 
till May, and in the meanwhile the king and his mercenaries were 
ravaging the lands of the barons who were in rebelUon. In May, 
however, Louis sailed with a large army. Hitherto John had 
reUed upon the activity of his fleets to prevent an invasion, and 
he had been justified. But at the critical moment the English 
fleet was dispersed by a storm, and Louis succeeded in reaching 
Thanet, where he disembarked. His arrival was the signal for 
the defection of a large number of the barons from John, who 
was left with very few supporters except his mercenaries, Ranulf 
earl of Chester, and the ever loyal but octogenarian William 

There is no doubt now that the military predominance lay 
with the rebels and the French pretender ; nevertheless, many 
of the barons were at best half-hearted in rebellion, and discords 
and dissatisfaction developed as Louis showed a dangerous 
disposition to act as a French conqueror instead of as the cham- 
pion of English hberties. The king, who had fallen back to the 
Welsh marches, struck against the north and east in Death of Joim. 
September while Louis was engaged in a vain effort to reduce 
Dover, which held out valiantly under Hubert de Burgh. John's 
unrivalled strategy threatened to turn the scale completely. But 

2 1 6 The Crown and the Barons 

his end was at hand. On 19th October he died of dysentery 
contracted a few days earlier and aggravated by unbridled 
gluttony. In his rare fits of spasmodic energy he had proved 
himself capable of feats which would have done credit to the 
soldiership of his brother Richard. When he allowed his in- 
telligence a brief control over his animal appetites and his evil 
passions he showed himself possessed of talents of a high order. 
But these intermittent flashes weigh little against his habitual 
recklessness and folly, and his recklessness and folly were merely 
paUid defects in comparison with the moral depravity which 
would have wrecked even a genius of the first order. Not one 
redeeming feature, not one redeeming act, is to be found in his 
whole career ; but the very enormity of his vices was the salva- 
tion of England, since they made his tjTanny futile and forced 
on the reign of law, besides delivering England from the dis- 
integrating influence of the Norman connection. 

II. Henry hi. (first period), 1216-1248 

The royalists very promptly proclaimed, and crowned as king, 
John's nine-year-old son Henry. The party unanimously 
Henry III. pressed upon William Marshal the office of regent, 
crowned. With the baronial council was the papal legate 
Gualo ; there was no change in the attitude of the Papacy, 
though the death of Innocent during the summer had made 
Honorius III. pope in his place. The legate held no official 
post, and the personal guardianship of the boy was given to the 
bishop of Winchester. The whole party recognised William 
Marshal virtually as dictator ; while the second official position 
was held by the justiciar Hubert de Burgh. It was the marshal's 
business to recover for the young king the loyalty which had 
been destroyed by his father's sinister personality. An amnesty 
was promised to all who would come in. The Charter was 
reissued, though the taxation clause was omitted. There was 
a general pause in the war, though there was no strong move- 
ment of reaction to the royaHst side. Many of the barons, how- 
ever, were hesitating. At the beginning of the year Louis himself 

Henry III. (^First Period) 217 

went to France, after arranging a truce for two months. In his 
absence the estrangement between his French followers and 
the Enghsh barons increased, and the tide of defection set in. 
Hostilities were renewed with his return at the end withdrawal 
of April. In May the royalists won the decisive o^^-o'i's- 
battle known as the Fair of Lincoln, fought in the streets of that 
city. Though there was no great loss of Ufe, a substantial 
number of barons and knights were taken prisoners. Louis's 
prospects became exceedingly unpromising ; they were prac- 
tically ruined when a French fleet, saihng from Calais, was 
annihilated off Sandwich by Hubert de Burgh with the ships 
from the Cinque Ports on 17th August. Within a month peace 
was signed. Under pressure from Gualo, Louis was obliged to 
appear publicly as a penitent, and the clergy who had taken his 
side in defiance of the Papacy were excluded from the amnesty, 
which was otherwise almost universal. The French were hurried 
out of the country, the prince being presented with a substantial 
sum to hasten his departure. Once again the Charter was 
issued, this time with some modifications in the interest not of 
the State in general but of the barons in particular ; but a 
Forest Charter attracted more popular favour, since it restored 
what had been appropriated for royal forests since the time of 
Henry 11., and relaxed the stringency of penalties for breach of 
the forest laws. 

William Marshal continued to rule the country, in spite of his 
great age, for eighteen months after the departure of the French. 
How far the victory of the royalists can be attri- NationaUsm 
buted to anything in the nature of patriotic senti- e'lsured. 
ment, as we should understand the term, it is difficult to say. 
Essentially there was no particular reason why either the people 
or the baronage of England should dislike a French dynasty 
more than a Norman or an Angevin dynasty. Both parties in 
the struggle had relied upon foreign assistance ; if the barons 
had called in the French prince, the king had called in foreign 
mercenaries, very much to the detriment of the pubHc weal. In 
the mind of the barons the question was not one of subjecting 
England to France, but of substituting a French dynasty and 

2i8 The Crown and the Barons 

a French suzerain for an Angevin dynasty and an Angevin 
suzerain. Angevin kings had perpetually called upon England 
to support them in their Aquitanian and Norman wars ; a 
French king would hardly make more troublesome demands. 
A French king was perhaps less Ukely than an Angevin to inter- 
fere with the English hberties, and he was hardly more likely 
than such a ruler as John to thrust outsiders into office. In 
actual fact, it never was possible after Bouvines for the king of 
England to act primarily as a Continental potentate ; though until 
Bouvines English kings had habitually done so, and Henry in. 
himself was to make futile efforts to do likewise. But it would 
have required a very remarkable political insight on the part 
of the barons to make them appreciate the truth that Enghsh 
nationalism was at stake in 1217. For nearly forty years to 
come, the intrusion of foreigners was the strongest motive for 
unity among the barons ; it was a danger which was only 
removed when the dynasty had become thoroughly AngUcised ; 
and in the struggle with John the royaUsts had no more claim 
than the rebels to profess that they were fighting for the principle 
of England for the Enghsh, although in the long run the victory 
of the royalists secured English nationalism. It would not have 
secured English nationahsm if the Norman dukedom had not 
been already separated from the English crown. 

The last year of the Marshal's hfe was spent in restoring order 
and suppressing the captains of John's mercenaries, the men 
The Minority, by whose aid the royalists had won. The legate 
Gualo had been displaced by another legate, Pandulph ; and 
when the old regent died, though no successor to his office was 
appointed, Pandulph was disposed to act as if he was in posses- 
sion of the supreme authority. The justiciar, Hubert de Burgh, 
and the bishop of Winchester, Peter des Roches, the young king's 
guardian, both of whom had owed their advancement to John, 
held the highest official authority ; and Stephen Langton showed 
no anxiety to take the leading poUtical position. Matters, how- 
ever, became a httle less comphcated when the archbishop 
procured from the Pope a promise that no other legate should be 
appointed during Langton's life, and Pandulph was withdrawn. 

Henry III. {First Period) 219 

Hubert de Burgh carried on the work of re-establishing the central 
authority, resuming control of the royal castles in the occupation 
of mercenaries or of turbulent barons, and generally restoring 
the machinery of government. An outbreak in London was 
suppressed, and its leader, Constantine Fitzatholf, was summarily 
hanged without trial, though the responsibility for this rested 
more upon Falkes de Breaute, the principal mercenary captain, 
than upon the justiciar. Stephen Langton resumed much of 
his political activity, and worked in alliance with the justiciar ; 
while Peter des Roches, Falkes de Breaute, and not a few of the 
barons, sought to undermine Hubert de Burgh's authority. It 
was not till 1225 that De Breaute was finally crushed and ex- 
pelled from the country ; and with him disappeared that element 
of mercenary soldiery which had been the most serious obstacle 
to the re-establishment of order. The reissue of the Charter in 
this year (still with the taxation clauses omitted) gave it its per- 
manent form as a statute. Hubert's authority was completely 
estabHshed two years later when the young king was declared of 
age, made Hubert earl of Kent, and dismissed Peter des Roches ; 
who went off on crusade, disgusted at the failure of his hopes of 
obtaining the supreme influence over Henry. 

Though Hubert was freed from rivals for the time being, 
Henry himself was to prove as troublesome as any rival. Henry 
was the most impracticable of men. The son of King Henry. 
John and Isobel of Angouleme was free from animal vices, and 
was genuinely pious, as the age understood piety. His education 
had given him an unusual degree of culture ; in private life he 
behaved like a gentleman, and on the battlefield he showed no 
lack of courage. But he had an overweening belief in his own 
talents, and grandiose ambitions, which he imagined himself 
capable of attaining without providing any means to that end ; 
he was exceedingly obstinate, but very easily managed by any 
unscrupulous favourite ; and he had no idea of keeping faith. 
From the moment when it was recognised that he was of age he 
tried to go his own way — and his own way was invariably wrong. 

In 1223 the astute and successful PhiUp Augustus died. Two 
years later his successor, Louis viii., followed him to the grave, 

2 20 The Crown and the Barons 

leaving his widow, Blanche of Castile, as guardian and regent 
for the child, Louis ix., who later was to be numbered among the 
noblest of European monarchs. But a regency, especially when 
the regent is a woman, always offers inducements to the activity 
A French of turbulent and disaffected elements in the State. 
expedition. Henry of England had very soon deluded himself 
into a behef that he could frighten the regency into conceding 
the most preposterous demands, which he formulated in 1228. 
When they were rejected he insisted upon going to war. Hubert 
was a good soldier, but as organiser of a mihtary expedition he 
was a failure. The expedition did not start till 1230, and after 
a few months Henry, who took the command, came back without 
having effected anything. This was bad enough both for 
Hubert, who looked upon the war as folly, and for the king, 
whose ambitions were disappointed. And meanwhile a new 
pope, Gregory ix., was for purposes of his own demanding heavy 
contributions from the Enghsh clergy and filUng up English 
incumbencies with absentee Italians — proceedings in which the 
pious Henry cheerfully acquiesced. There was no strong prelate 
to take the place of Langton, who had just died, no one to control 
and direct the malcontents. Papal officers were treated with 
violence, and the justiciar took no measures to protect them. 
Peter des Roches reappeared in England, and saw his way to 
attacking Hubert, who had certainly been unbusinesslike in his 
management of finances. 

In July 1232 the justiciar was dismissed, and a series of charges 
were brought against him, some of which were absurd, while 
FaU of others were very possibly true so far as they implied 

Hubert. incompetent financial management. He fled to 

sanctuary, but was dragged out and brought to London igno- 
miniously, with his feet tied under his horse's belly. But the old 
earl was popular with the lower classes outside of London, and 
even the men who had kicked against his rule recognised his 
sterling merits and pleaded on his behalf. Popular sentiment 
was expressed by the blacksmith who refused to forge fetters for 
the man who had won ' England for the Enghsh ' by destroying the 
French fleet at Sandwich. Hubert was deprived of his offices 

Henry III. [First Period) 221 

and of all political power, but was allowed to retain the enjoy- 
ment of substantial estates. At last, however, Peter des Roches 
had achieved the position he desired, of the king's most influential 
counsellor. After the fall of De Burgh the office of justiciar 
entirely lost its poUtical importance. 

Des Roches, himself a Poitevin, surrounded the king with 
Poitevin creatures of his own, and indignation was soon seething 
among the barons of England. The lead was taken Richard 
by Richard Marshal, now earl of Pembroke, the M^'^^'i*!- 
second son of old William Marshal, who bore a reputation for 
noble knightly qualities not inferior to that of his father. Marshal 
demanded the dismissal of the Poitevins, and set about forming a 
league to resist not the king but the foreigners and their influence. 
Learning of a plot for his arrest he fled to his territories on the 
Welsh marches. He and his supporters offered to stand trial 
before their peers ; the king required them to appear before his 
own justices. The earl was forced into open war, joining with 
the Welsh prince Llewelyn ap Jorwerth. It seemed unUkely 
that the king would be able to crush him ; but Peter des Roches 
organised an attack upon his Irish estates, and Richard, hurry- 
ing thither, was treacherously trapped into a battle which cost 
him his life. But a new archbishop, Edmund Rich, had just 
been enthroned at Canterbury, and the new primate's first act 
was to threaten Henry with excommunication unless he dismissed 
the Poitevins. This was too much for Henry, who submitted, 
pardoned all Richard Marshal's associates, and dismissed Peter 
des Roches and the whole horde of Poitevins. 

After Hubert de Burgh and Peter des Roches, Henry resolved 
that he would have no more dominating ministers ; he would 
rule himself through men who were merely his clerks. But this 
did not deliver him from the control of favourites, while it 
scarcely seemed an improvement for the barons of England, who 
thought themselves entitled to an effective voice in the royal 
counsels and to high administrative office. The Poitevins were 
gone, but they were very soon succeeded by a new swarm of 
foreigners. At the beginning of 1236 Henry married Eleanor 
of Provence, whose mother was one of the sisters of the count 

222 The Crown and the Barons 

of Savoy ; and the count had seven brothers who were inade- 
quately provided for. The marriage of their niece was a godsend. 
The Savoyards and Proven9als gathered to the English 

Savoyards. ^q^xX, and after them flocked other adventurers, 
who were soon reaping a comfortable harvest. The trouble was 
not so much that the men were bad as that they were foreigners ; 
that the king relied not upon his own people but upon outsiders. 
When at Henry's request the Pope sent Cardinal Otho to England 
as legate, he too was included in the general ban ; and Otho's 
unpopularity was the greater because the main object of his 
mission was to extract money from English churchmen for 
the Pope in his struggle with the Emperor Frederick ii. Henry 
was always a devoted servant of the Pope, and the favour he 
showed to Otho and to Otho's demands did him no good with the 
English barons, the English clergy, or the English people. 

Otho left England at the beginning of 1241. Some months 
earlier the saintly Edmund Rich, archbishop of Canterbury, died 
Grosseteste. on his way to Rome to enter a protest against Otho's 
tremendous exactions. The archbishopric was given to Boniface 
of Savoy, one of the queen's uncles, who played his part with 
commendable moderation and honesty, but without distinction. 
The real leadership of the English clergy passed to Bishop Grosse- 
teste of Lincoln, an encyclopaedic scholar zealous in the encour- 
agement of every kind of learning, a theologian of high repute, a 
great organifeer, and an absolutely fearless champion of justice. 
Among the lay baronage two figures call for special remark. The 
first was Richard of Cornwall, the king's brother, who after the 
death of Richard Marshal, his wife's uncle, for some time strove 
to head what might be called a constitutional opposition among 
the barons to the foreign influences about the king. 
Cornwall The second was Simon de Montfort, the second son 

and Simon ^f Simon de Montfort of Toulouse, the hammer of the 
de Montfort. 

Albigensian heretics. Simon the Elder had a claim 

upon the earldom of Leicester, which claim was transferred to 

his second son. Simon the Younger came to England, where he 

was looked upon merely as another of the objectionable foreigners. 

Still he found favour with the king, and even with Earl Ranulf 

Henry III. {First Period) 223 

of Chester — who for a long time past had regarded the Leicester 
earldom as his own property — sufficient to procure the restitution 
of the earldom without serious friction. But when he obtained 
the hand of the king's widowed sister Eleanor in 1238, Richard 
of Cornwall took the affair exceedingly ill. Still Richard, who 
was fair-minded and conscientious, supported the earl in a 
quarrel with the king in the next year ; but the time had not yet 
come for one who was looked upon as an alien to head baronial 
nationalism, while Richard's own position was necessarily am- 
biguous. His wife's death weakened his connection with the 
baronial party. Both Richard and Simon went off on crusade, 
and Richard on his return in 1242 married as his second wife 
the younger sister of Henry's queen, whereby he \\'as attached 
still more closely to the court party. Thus, while there was a 
general sense of hostility to the aliens and of opposition to the 
arbitrary character of the king's rule, there was nobody to take 
a definite lead and formulate a positive policy. Grosseteste 
inevitably was engaged primarily in resisting papal rather than 
royal exactions, in defence of the clergy rather than of the laity ; 
and, zealous reformer though he was, he was a strong supporter 
of ecclesiastical privileges, and was convinced of the duty of 
obejdng the papal authority, however strenuously he might urge 
the Pope to modify or change his pohcy. 

The general friction was aggravated when Henry insisted on 
conducting a perfectly futile campaign in Poitou in 1242. Henry 
still claimed Poitou, of which Richard of Cornwall campaign 
bore the empty title of count; but the French inPoito"- 
Crown not only claimed the county but held it, and in 1241 
Louis IX. bestowed it on his brother Alphonse. Hugh of Lusig- 
nan, count of Le Mans, the second husband of John's widow 
Isobel of Angouleme, saw his virtual independence in danger, 
and declared for Richard as count ; hence Henry, and Richard 
on his return from crusade, imagined that Poitou might be 
effectively recovered. The barons, however, refused aid, on the 
ground that Henry had committed himself to the war without 
consulting them. Henry was able to collect only a very in- 
efficient force, and proved himself a totally inefficient commander. 

2 24 Tfi^ Crown and the Barons 

When he took the field he was ignominiously driven from pillar 
to post, till he was back at Bordeaux ; and the practical effect 
of the whole business was to reduce the Aquitanian dominion to 
nothing more than a portion of Guienne and Gas.cony. 

The war had brought Henry deeply into debt, therefore in 
1244 he invited a Great Council to grant him supphes. On this 
A Great occasion we find the clergy, the earls, and the barons 

CouncU,i244. conferring separately but acting together. They 
complained of misgovemment and misuse of moneys previously 
exacted ; and they demanded the appointment of a justiciar, 
a chancellor, and a treasurer, who were not to be ahens. A 
committee of the three groups, among whom were Richard of 
Cornwall, Montfort, and the Archbishop Boniface of Savoy, pro- 
pounded a sort of constitution, under which the great officers were 
to be nominated by the Great Council ; and among the great 
officers was to be a council of four, specially charged with the 
maintenance of the charters, and having power to summon the 
Great Council at their own will. But the constitution came to 
nothing ; and in the end the council, while they rejected Henry's 
extravagant demands for money, granted an aid for the marriage 
of the king's eldest daughter to the son of the Emperor Frederick 11. 
When a new papal envoy. Master Martin, arrived to demand fresh 
exactions from the Church, he found it expedient to make a 
hurried departure from the country. 

Matters then went on very much as before. There was no 
new constitution ; if the king could not get the money he wanted, 
the baronage could not get the control they wanted ; and with 
The the death of Isobel of Angouleme in 1247 there came 

Lusignans. ^ fj-ggj^ Poitevin invasion of the Lusignan kinsfolk. 
The collapse of the Lusignans after Henry's Poitevin campaign 
caused them to seek compensation for their losses at the English 
court of Isobel's son, whom it suited them to encourage in his 
effort after absolutism. In 1248 Earl Simon was sent to Gascony 
as seneschal or governor in order to restore authority in that very 
disordered province. In Gascony the earl learnt the r61e of a 
very efficient but very high-handed dictator; and his experi- 
ences there and the treatment he received from Henry finally 

Simon de Montfort and the Lord Edward 225 

transformed him into the dictatorial leader of the baronial 

III. Simon de Montfort and the Lord Edward, 

From 1248 to 1252 the earl of Leicester was seneschal of Gas- 
cony, where he made himself extremely unpopular by the rigour 
of his methods ; while, on the other hand, he was deeply offended 
by the king's want of confidence and by the inadequate support 
received from him. During most of the time he was acting on 
behalf of the Lord Edward, the king's eldest son, The Lord 
who was nominally invested with Gascony in 1249, '^^'^^''^^■ 
when he was ten years old. The young heir to the throne began 
to learn the practice of authority at a very early age, but he was 
still too young to be entrusted with the effective control of his 
province. After Montfort's resignation in 1252 Henry himself 
went to Gascony. The most important result of his visit was 
the marriage of the Lord Edward in 1254 to Eleanor, sister of the 
king of Castile ; an arrangement which converted that monarch, 
Alfonso the Wise, into a supporter of the Plantagenet authority 
in Aquitaine, to which he had some pretensions of his own. 
Edward was now invested with all the king's dominions overseas, 
including Ireland, and also with the earldom of Chester and the 
royal domains in Wales, whereby he became the greatest of the 
marcher lords. 

In 1255 Richard of Cornwall was temporarily withdrawn from 
English politics by his election as ' King of the Romans,' a title 
borne as preHminary to that of emperor, the German electors 
having resolved to go outside the line of the German houses 
of Hohenstaufen and Guelph to provide a head for The Empire 
the Empire. The title proved to be an empty one ^""^ Sicily, 
as far as Richard was concerned, since he was never able to 
exercise any practical authority. More serious consequences 
attended the nomination of Henry's second son Edmund to the 
kingdom of Sicily. The death of the Emperor Frederick 11. in 
1250 had vacated at once the Imperial throne and the throne of 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. j. P 

2 26 The Crown and the Barons 

Sicily ; the succession to both was contested at the sword's point 
between the Hohenstaufen and their rivals. Edmund was the 
nominee of the Papacy, which headed the antagonism to the 
Hohenstaufen. It was the Pope's idea that England was to do 
the work of estabhshing the new king as a vassal of the Papacy, 
and was to pay the expenses and a good deal besides. The whole 
thing ultimately fell through because Henry was quite unable 
to carry out his promises ; but the heavy demands which he 
made upon his subjects hastened the crisis in the relations be- 
tween the Crown and the baronage ; and the support given by 
the king to the continued papal exactions from the Enghsh clergy 
forced the clergy themselves into a no less determined oppo- 
sition. And meanwhile the Lusignans had to some extent ousted 
the Savoyards, and by reason of their jealousies the antagonism 
between the Savoyards and the English baronage had almost 
disappeared. The Poitevin group had become the ' aliens ' par 

So in 1258 matters came to a head. The Treasury was empty, 
and the king was driven to summoning the Great Council. The 
^j^g council, a council of magnates, demanded reform as 

Provisions a preliminary to anything else. Henry yielded the 
claim that a commission should table a programme ; 
and on nth June the so-called Mad Parliament assembled at 
Oxford and adopted the proposals of the commission. A new 
commission of twenty-four, twelve nominated by the king and 
twelve by the Great Council, was to draw up a new constitu- 
tion, which was then embodied in the Provisions of Oxford. 
The new constitution was complicated and oligarchical. A 
council of fifteen was to control the administration. Another 
council of twelve was to supervise the council of fifteen, taking 
the place of the Great Council. All aUens were to be ejected 
from office and from the royal castles. No one but the greater 
barons was to take part in either of the councils. The Lusignans 
tried to fight, but were very promptly driven into exile ; and in 
the new councils there was an overwhelming preponderance of 
what was still the baronial party. 

During the next two years that party was broken up. For one 

Simon de Montfort and the Lord Edward 227 

section reform meant merely the increase of tlieir own powers ; 
for another, inspired by Montfort, it meant serious efforts to 
improve administration for the pubHc good. For the 
time the young Lord Edward — the title ' prince ' had Provisions of 
not yet come into use — identified himself with the 
second party ; while Montfort himself was chiefly engaged abroad 
in negotiating what was intended to be a final settlement with 
the king of France. The treaty which resulted was not a per- 
manent settlement, but for the time being it was effective. In 
England the conjunction of Edward with Montfort procured the 
acceptance of the Provisions of Westminster (1259), which were 
directed to the protection of tenants against the abuse of juris- 
diction by their lords. 

Henry saw his opportunity in the dissensions among the barons. 
He procured a dispensation from the Pope absolving him from 
his oath, and announced in 1261 that the Provisions Baronial 
of Oxford were cancelled. This again united Mont- Di'isiois- 
fort and Gloucester, the head of the feudalist faction of the barons. 
Acting by the authority of the Provisions they called a council, 
to which they summoned three knights from every shire — an 
apphcation of the principle of representation which does not seem 
to have been employed since the time of King John. But no 
leader and no section was as yet strong enough to act decisively. 
The death of Gloucester removed Montfort's most dangerous 
rival, but, on the other hand, it tended to fuse Gloucester's follow- 
ing with the royalists. It strengthened the king and the Lord 
Edward more than it strengthened Montfort ; and in particular it 
carried over to the royalist side the strength of the barons of the 
Welsh marches, who at an earher stage had been most active in 
their opposition to the king. In 1263, the country was on the 
verge of civil war ; but it was deferred by an agreement that 
Louis IX. should be invited to arbitrate on the questions at issue. 

Louis's award, called the Mise of Amiens, issued in January 
1264, was entirely in favour of the king ; it was a matter of 
course that it should be repudiated by Montfort's party, Just as 
an award in the contrary sense would certainly have been repudi- 
ated by Henry. London took the lead : Montfort proclaimed that 

2 28 The Crown and the Barons 

even though none should stand by him but his own four sons, he 
would fight to the last for the cause to which he had pledged him- 
self—the cause of the Church and the Reahn. Matters 
War: the 

Battle of were brought to an issue at the battle of Lewes, m 

Lewes. ^^^ ^^^^ ^^g ^^^ _^ ^^j. ^j ^j^g barons against 

the king ; the bulk of the barons who had at first been the king's 
enemies were on the king's side. Montfort had become definitely 
the champion of popular justice against the feudalists as much 
as against absolutism. But Montfort's men were fighting for a 
cause. There were with him younger members of the baronage 
who were inspired with his own enthusiasm, and his soldiership 
was far superior to that of the royalists. When the battle was 
joined, the charge of Lord Edward upon the Londoners on Mont- 
fort's left swept all before it. The Londoners broke and fled, 
and Edward, who had a special grudge against them, pursued 
and slaughtered them for many miles. But when he returned 
to the field, the royahsts had already lost the battle. Henry 
and his brother Richard were prisoners, and the royalist army 
was totally shattered. 

Next day the agreement called the Mise of Lewes was issued. 
Edward and his cousin Henry of Ahnaine, the son of Richard of 
The Mise Cornwall, were surrendered to Montfort as hostages 
of Lewes. fQj. ^j^g good behaviour of the marchers. A council 
was to be formed from which aliens were to be excluded ; it was 
to control the king's expenses and the choice of ministers ; and it 
was itself to be selected by a board of five arbitrators. But 
before the board could meet, Montfort found that the fifth 
member who was to be the referee, the papal legate, who was on 
his way to England, was bound by his instructions to the king's 
side. Thus the proposal became a farce, and before long Mont- 
fort in effect threw up the agreement and put in operation a plan 
of his own. It was submitted to a Great Council held in June, 
though from this time onward the term parhament may be 
apphed to these assemblies, as it had begun to come into general 
use. On this occasion four knights were called from each shire. 
Montfort, it may be assumed, reUed upon the support of the 
gentry, though he could by no means count upon the greater 

Simon de Monifort and the Lord Edward 229 

barons. In the scheme three ' electors ' were named : Mont- 
fort, his warm adherent the young earl of Gloucester, and the 
bishop of Chichester. These three were to elect a council of nine. 
A two-thirds majority of the council could act Without the king, 
but the king could not act without the council ; while disputes 
in the council might be referred to the three electors. On the 
other hand the electors were responsible to the Great Council, and 
might be deposed by them. Like so many emergency govern- 
ments, however, the scheme for practical purposes meant a 
dictatorship, and the dictator was Simon de Montfort. 

If Montfort was dictator his authority was in dispute. The 
legate, who had not been allowed to enter England, returned to 

Rome to become Pope himself. The marchers and „ ^, ,, 
^ Montfort s 

the northern barons, back in their own country, parliament, 
were not ready to bow to the new government. 
The queen was in France collecting an army for the liberation 
of the king. The men of the Cinque Ports, however, were on 
Earl Simon's side, and held complete command of the Channel, 
while the militia of the coast counties responded to the call for 
defence. The imminent danger of invasion disappeared, and the 
earl was able to force a pacification upon the marchers. At the 
end of the year Henry, who as matters stood was obliged to obey 
Simon, summoned the famous parliament of 1265. Conspicu- 
ously, it was a packed assembly, for of the earls and greater 
barons those only were summoned who were on Montfort's side. 
As before, Simon summoned representative knights from the 
shires ; but the new feature of the assembly was the summoning 
of representative burgesses from cities and boroughs, obviously 
with a view to strengthening Simon's hands. The only prece- 
dents were to be found in the reign of John, when jurors had been 
called up from the boroughs to attend the council for the purpose 
of giving information. 

At this stage a pact was made, under which Edward, who had 
remained captive as a hostage, was to buy his liberty by the 
transfer to Earl Simon of his dominions in Wales and of the 
earldom of Chester, which would give the earl a preponderant 
power on the Welsh marches. But Montfort's unstable strength 

230 The Crown and the Barons 

was already tottering. Misconduct and abuse by his sons of 

the authority entrusted to them were producing acute irritation; 

moreover young Gilbert of Gloucester saw them 
Simon, JO -1 j: 11 

Edward, and appropriating extensive spoils, while no spoils tell 

to his own share. A quarrel began, which the Lord 
Edward, who had not yet been released, saw a prospect of turning 
to his own account. The quarrel became acute, and Gloucester 
found excuse for withdrawing to his estates in the west. There 
could be no doubt that he intended to concert action with the 
marchers. In April Montfort moved in arms upon the west, and 
established himself at Hereford, taking with him both Henry 
and Edward. There had been so far no open rebelUon, and pubhc 
protestations were made that the rumours of a breach between 
the two earls were gross fabrications. But the truth could no 
longer be concealed when Edward made his escape by a ruse 
which would have tricked no careful guardian, and joined Roger 
Mortimer of Wigmore, one of the principal marcher barons. A 
fortnight earUer Warenne, who had always been a king's man, 
and WilHam of Valence, one of the Lusignans, who had been made 
earl of Pembroke, had landed in South Wales. They and Glou- 
cester joined Mortimer and Edward, who was prompt to resume 
his earher r61e of a popidar champion, though, this time it was not 
against the king but against the dictator. 

Montfort's force was too small to deal with so extensive a 
combination. In a few days the royalists had secured the whole 
civuwar. line of the Severn, and had cut off all prospect of 
reinforcements from England for Simon. An alliance with the 
Welsh prince Llewelyn was purchased by Montfort by his recog- 
nition as prince of all Wales ; but Llewelyn did nothing to help 
him beyond allowing his forces,, hard pressed by overwhelming 
numbers, to retire upon the Welsh mountains. Montfort's one 
chance was to give the marchers the slip, pass the Severn, and 
effect a junction with the forces which Simon the Younger was 
bringing from the east. The movement was all but accomplished. 
On 1st August young Simon had reached Kenilworth ; on 
2nd August Montfort had crossed the Severn below Worcester ; 
on 3rd .\ugust he was at Evesham, expecting to join hands with 

Simon de Montfort and the Lord Edivard 231 

his son the next day. He did not know that on the night of the 
ist, Edward had made a night march upon Kenilworth from 
Worcester, fallen upon the force before they were out of their 
beds, taken most of them prisoners, and scattered the rest, except 
Simon and a few others who escaped into Kenilworth Castle. 

On the morning of the 4th, the earl found the passage of the 
Avon blocked by troops under Roger Mortimer. As he faced 
north, the earl saw two forces approaching, one that Evesham. 
of Gloucester, the other carrying the banners of the expected 
aids from Kenilworth. Too late the earl discovered that they 
were the troops not of the younger Simon but of the Lord Edward. 
Hope there was none : Simon could see that the foe, which vastly 
outnumbered his own force, were marshalled with a generalship 
leamt from himself : Edward was not the man to forget the 
lesson taught him at Lewes. There was nothing to be done but 
to die fighting, like Harold and his huscarles at Senlac. Mont- 
fort's men fought round his standard tiU they dropped, the earl 
himself being one of the last to fall. There perished many knights 
and squires, and a crowd of nameless folk ; but there were no 
barons at the side of the hero of what is called the Barons' War. 

Montfort fought and fell for a cause : it was not the cause of 
the barons, but the cause, as he conceived it, of God and the 
realm of England. The barons had supported him while they 
thought that cause was their own. Gilbert of Gloucester would 
perhaps have continued to support him but for his ^^^^ simon 
dictatorial methods ; but it was Montfort's weak- the 
nessthat he would have no rival and no colleague, 
but only subordinates who would carry out his own bidding. 
Montfort was not a democrat in the sense that he intended to 
estabhsh government by the popular will ; but he intended to 
establish government for the good of the people, and the only way 
to do so in his view was to establish his own personal supremacy. 
The accomplishment of his work was left to another, the Lord 
Edward, who was equally convinced that it must be effected by 
his own personal supremacy ; but at the back of his personal 
supremacy he had the whole prestige and power of the Crown. 
The conqueror, who pursued Montfort himself with vindictive 

232 The Crown and the Barons 

bitterness after the heroic spirit had fled, was the man who gave 
practical effect to Montfort's aims. The poHtical heir of earl 
Simon the Righteous was the king who chose for his motto 
factum serva, ' keep troth.' 

The victors showed no disposition to spare the vanquished. 
Roger Mortimer sent his wife the dead earl's head, as a pleasing 
After present. The lands of every one who had fought 

Evesiiam. f^j. ^-^e earl at Evesham or Kenilworth were for- 
feited. Edward took back the earldom of Chester and the 
Welsh land which he had surrendered earlier in the year ; the 
earldom of Leicester went to his young brother Edmund, who 
not long afterwards was made earl of Lancaster, from which his 
house thereafter took its title. Mortimer did not acquire an 
earldom, but his estates were so extended that he was on a virtual 
equality with the great earls. But the Montfort party still held 
out at Kenilworth, in the Cinque Ports, and elsewhere. Gilbert 
of Gloucester, however erratic his conduct had been, had always 
regarded himself as the champion of fair play and moderation ; 
also he was offended at the influence exercised by Mortimer. He 
now began to urge counsels of conciUation ; and Edward, whose 
vindictiveness was by this time satisfied, took the same side. 

Terms were offered to the insurgents in the Dictum de Kenil- 
worth in October, and were accepted in December ; the for- 
Pacification. feitures in general were to be remitted on the pay- 
ment of a very heavy fine. But at the same time Edward's 
policy was foreshadowed by a confirmation of the charters ; and 
in 1267 the Statute of Marlborough ratified the Provisions of 
Westminster, for which Edward himself had been responsible in 
1259. Llewelyn, prince of Wales, though he had done little 
enough to help Montfort, remained in arms until a peace was 
concluded in September 1267, which practically confirmed him 
in the possessions and honours conceded to him by Montfort in 
1265. Even London after a period of depression was pardoned, 
and its forfeited charters were renewed. The pacification was 
completed in 1268 ; and it was so thorough that in 1270 Edward, 
who had in effect been exercising the royal authority ever since 
1265, departed from the country on the last important crusade, 

Simon de Montfort and the Lord Edward 233 

confident that the peace would not be broken in his absence. 
The murder of his cousin Henry of Almaine by the Montforts in 
Italy was the one ugly incident born of the survival of the bitter 
feehngs and feuds engendered by the Barons' War. In England 
there was no recrudescence of disturbance. When Henry the 
inefficient died in peace in 1272, King Edward i. was able to con- 
duct a most leisurely return from Palestine, and did not reappear 
in England until August 1274. 


I. England 

The Nonnan Conquest was a cataclysm by which the natural 

course of English development was arrested and changed. All 

over the country aliens were planted as lords of the 

tionai soil: for a -long time to come they used their 

auzximary. . . . ... 

position to tyrannise over the natives, who were 

powerless to resist an oppression carried on under cover of law 
administered by the oppressors who interpreted it in their own 
interests. Sheer anarchy was restrained by the strong hand of 
the first three Norman kings, who enforced obedience to the Crown 
and prohibited private wars, the most chaotic product of feudal- 
ism. Then the rule of an incompetent king showed how much 
worse the conditions might have been, and created among the 
dominant class itself a desire for the reign of law. The desire 
was satisfied by the first Plantagenet, whose highly centralised 
government carried its effective control much further than that 
of the strongest of the Normans. That control was prevented 
from being converted into a new tyranny of the Crown, because 
Church and barons had learnt the fundamental lesson that law 
must be upheld, and instead of seeking for themselves immunities 
from the law, compelled the Crown itself to obey the law. With 
this resistance to the Crown there arose a new danger ; not the 
old danger of anarchic individualism, in which, as in the days of 
Stephen, each magnate played for his own hand, but the danger 
of an oligarchical tyranny, the t3Tanny of a group which would 
subordinate all other interests to its own. From being an op- 
ponent of absolutism Simon de Montfort was transformed into 
an opponent of the ohgarchy, and while his defence of popular 

England 235 

rights alienated the baronage, it marked out for Edward the path 
which he was to follow. But it was the accession of Henry 11. 
which definitely inaugurated the reign of law ; and from that 
moment the prosperity of England progressed continuously. 

Socially the period from the Conquest to the death of Stephen 
was one not of progress but of retrogression. In the days of 
Henry i. there was promise of better things, but it The rural 
was killed again by Stephen. The Conqueror, says popiiiat""'- 
the Chronicle, ' gave good peace through the land ' ; crime was 
repressed with a stern hand, and malefactors trembled. But 
there was probably little enough justice done as between the 
lords of the soil and its downtrodden occupants. Turbulent 
great men felt the weight of the hand of Rufus, but the smaller 
men got little protection against them. Hence all evidence 
points to the fact that during the century after the Conquest the 
position of the tiller of the soil became definitely worse. At the 
time of the Conquest he looked upon himself as a free man. The 
customary services which he owed to some overlord did not 
detract from his free status, however irksome they might be. 
His weregeld was the same, whether the Norman lawyers classi- 
fied him as villanus or liber homo. But when we have clear light 
in the reign of Henry 11., the bulk of the tillers of the soil are still 
called villeins, and every villein is in the eye of the law a serf. 
The meaning of the name had changed. The conclusion we have 
stated was that the Domesday villein was the man viiiemace 
whose lord was responsible for his geld. The Plan- under the 
tagenet villein is the tenant who is bound to the soil. 
The test seems to lie in the peasant's hability to particular 
obUgations. A lord claims that a man is his villein bound to the 
soil ; the man proves that he had never been under an obligation 
to obtain his lord's leave for a daughter's marriage, or for the sale 
of an ox or a horse ; it is held therefore that he is not a villein, 
not bound to the soil. Neither labour service nor rent involved 
villeinage in themselves ; but the great bulk of the occupants of 
the soil were subject to the obligations which were regarded as 
the mark of villeinage ; the villein was regarded as a serf and an 
inferior by the peasant who might owe practically the same 

236 Two Centuries 

services but was not under the objectionable obligations. He 
was a free man, the villein was not. 

A second point is to be observed as to the change in the mean- 
ing of the term villein. The general rule holds that a man who 
pays rent but not service is not a villein. The great majority 
of the peasantry in Kent were not villeins, although in Domes- 
day Book they had been classified as villani. That does not 
mean that the men whose forebears had been serfs had themselves 
ceased to be serfs ; but that the meaning of the name villein had 
come to be restricted to those who were now serfs. But while 
before the Conquest, and during the Plantagenet period, the 
tendency was always for labour service to be superseded by pay- 
Development ment, during the century of depnession the tendency 
of serfdom. ^g^g ^qj. labour services to supersede payment, and 
the specifically servile obligations tended to be developed in 
association with labour services. The result was that at the 
end of the period of depression the majority of the peasants were 
villeins, bound to the soil, bound to render agricultural service 
to the lord, serfs who might not marry a daughter or sell a horse 
without their lord's permission, and whose sons under the Consti- 
tutions of Clarendon might not enter Orders without their lord's 
permission. The permission was usually purchasable, but in 
practice such shameful conditions as that called merchet were 
occasionally attached. 

The villein was a serf, but he was not a slave ; that is he had 
legal rights, he was not merely a chattel. He could not be turned 
viueins' out of his plot so long as he discharged his liabilities ; 

rights. and his plot was heritable, though not saleable. 

According to the lawyers, his goods were his lord's property ; in 
practice he could accumulate property and purchase emanci- 
pation, the legal technicality being evaded by the intervention 
of a third person who was nominally the purchaser of his free- 
dom. The villeins of the township had rights of common in the 
waste-lands, which the lord of the manor could not take up to 
his own use without their assent. The lord of the manor could 
not demand from the villeins anything beyond the customary 
services ; if he wanted more he had to pay for it. Again, if the 

England 237 

villein's rights as against his lord were limited in the eyes of the 
law, public opinion and the voice of the Church condemned 
personal violence — at least of an extreme character, such as 
injury to life or limb. Finally, the rights of the villein as against 
other persons than his lord were the same as those of the free 
man, and in those rights his lord was bound to uphold him. 

The term villein covers all the occupiers of the soil who were 
in a state of serfdom ; but there might also be within the bounds 
of the manor freeholders ^ or tenants who were not in a state of 
serfdom. Also there was growing up an increasing class of 
labourers who worked for wages, men who either had holdings 
too small to give them complete occupation, or who were land- 
less ; the class to which the local artificers belonged, the men who 
became the lord's menials, the men who also recruited the lower 
ranks of the clergy. Chaucer's parish priest three hundred years 
after the Conquest was the brother of a ploughman. 

In the rural district there was very little in the nature of trade. 
The needs of the community were elementary ; the materials for 
most of the necessaries were produced on or from townde- 
the soil, and the somewhat rudimentary manufacture, Teiopment. 
the working-up of the materials, was carried on locally. With 
the Normans came an increasing demand for luxuries which 
were brought by foreign traders to the ports. Queen Matilda 
and Henry i. imported some Flemings ; but commercial inter- 
course with the Continent was extremely limited. But with 
Plantagenet rule came the development of the towns. Even the 
largest towns, the boroughs, at the beginning of the Plantagenet 
period were still in the main agricultural communities ; but the 
mere fact of aggregration tended to differentiation and speciali- 
sation in other employments. The making of a particular 
article ceased to be a by-employment, and became the staple 
business of the individual, or of many individuals. At first the 
workman's stock-in-trade consisted of little more than his tools ; 
he worked up the materials which were provided for him by his 
customer ; he did not manufacture in the anticipation of finding 
a purcha^r for his goods. The boroughs, as we have seen, had 

' See Note IV., Freeholders. 

238 Two Centuries 

already become units of self-government, more akin to the 
hundred than to the township. The free men of the borough, 
who in the ordinary township would have been ' townsmen,' 
villani, had better opportunities of combined action, and did not 
fall into the servile condition of their rural brethren : they 
remained free landholders, burgesses, and it was their great desire 
to follow the example of London, and to escape from extraneous 
jurisdictions whether of the lords of the manors in which they 
were situated or of the sheriffs. Beside this was the equally 
important demand for legal authority to control trade. 

The boroughs then wanted immunities from the rights of 
the lords of the manor and from royal rights. These they began 
Town to procure by purchasing from the lords for some 

charters. gQj-^ pf consideration releases in the form of charters, 

and by obtaining charters from the Crown. By the time of 
Edward i. a large number of boroughs had in this way practically 
freed themselves from the manorial jurisdictions, and had ob- 
tained from the Crown very large powers of self -government. 
The process of procuring royal charters began early — the Con- 
queror granted a charter to London— but it did not become 
active until the Plantagenet period. During the reign of Richard, 
John went so far as to grant London a commune, virtually a 
completely independent government, though this was afterwards 
cancelled, or at least modified. The principle, however, found 
special favour with Hubert Walter and his disciple Geoffrey 
Fitzpeter. Possibly the archbishop was actuated by a desire 
to develop local self-government ; possibly, however, a more 
urgent motive with him was the financial one — the boroughs were 
prepared to make a substantial return for the immunities and 
privileges they desired. 

Now although the charters varied considerabty in detail, there 
were two features common to them. The first was the recog- 
nition of a corporation, a ruling body not imposed from without, 
but appointed by the free burgesses. The second was the recog- 
The Gild nition of a gild merchant, with authority to regulate 

Mercnant. trade. We must dismiss the idea conveyed by the 
modern use of the term ' merchant,' and realise that the mediaeval 

England 239 

merchant meant every kind of trader. The modern division 
into manufacturers, distributors, and artisans, with its further 
subdivision of distributors into wholesalers and retailers, had not 
come into existence ; all those functions were combined in a single 
individual. The man who sold goods or manufactured goods was 
the man who made them with his own hands, though it might 
be with the assistance of paid labour. In relation to the par- 
ticular article which he was in the habit of making and selling he 
was a craftsman ; but whatever his craft or mistery (ministermm 
not ■ mystery ') every man who sold goods was a merchant. The 
gild merchant was the association of all the traders in the borough. 
Primarily the gild merchant was the organisation of all the free 
burgesses for the regulation of trade, as the corporation was the 
organisation of all the free burgesses for local administration. 
Every burgess had the right of enrolment in the gild merchant, 
and every free landholder in the borough was a burgess. Whether 
it was possible to be a burgess without being a free landholder 
is a question not at present decisively settled. 

The gild merchant regulated trade ; all its members were 
entitled to trade ; persons who were not members could only 
trade by its permission ; but it is probable that admission into 
its own ranks and permission to trade were conceded to non- 
burgesses on the pajTnent of fees. Every trader was technically 
a master, though he might have no employees. If 
he had employees they were either joumejmien or journeymen 
apprentices, paid workmen or lads who were learn- ^"^ 
ing the craft under his direction, and whose services 
were given in exchange for their education. Every journeyman 
and every apprentice expected in course of time to become a 
master himself, when he should have put by enough to pay the 
fees for enrolment in the gild merchant, or possibly for a hcence 
to trade without enrolment, since practically he would require 
no capital except his tools. The modern antagonism between 
labour and capital, between the interests of an employing class 
and those of an employed class, had not come into existence, 
because the men who were in the employed class were not perman- 
ently employees, but were individually masters in the making. 

240 Two Centuries 

The regulation of trade was carried into minute detail, and 
it had three leading objects : the profit of the producer, the 
Trade security of the consumer, and the exclusion of out- 

reguiation. gj^jg competitors. Whatever a man's own craft 
might be — and his trading business might be merely the sale 
of agricultural produce — he was in relation to all the other crafts 
not a producer but a consumer ; and therefore to the gild mer- 
chant at large the interests of the consumer in the regulation of 
trade generally were quite as important as the interests of the 
producer ; hence regulations were primarily directed to ensur- 
ing quahty in goods and in workmanship. The ethical doctrine 
of the time was that no one had a right to make a profit to his 
neighbour's detriment, or a profit which was more than a fair 
return for his own work and expenses ; and it was within the 
province of authority to impose regulations upon this basis. 
Thus night work was prohibited, and the number of apprentices 
was restricted, not for the protection of journeymen, but because 
night work and apprentice work meant inefficient work, and the 
master had no right to turn out inefficient work. 

At the same time the separate crafts had their voluntary 
associations or craft gilds ; not combinations of operatives, of 
Craft gUds. journejmaen as opposed to masters, but associations 
to push the interest of a specific trade or craft. These were 
combinations of producers ; and when at a later stage the power- 
ful craft gilds dominated or displaced the general gild merchant, 
the interests of the specific crafts outweighed with them the 
interests of the consumer. 

The third object we noted was the exclusion of the outside 
competitor, the ' foreigner,' not the alien from overseas in parti- 
cular, but any one from any outside locality. Even here, how- 
ever, the object was the protection of the consumer as much as 
of the producer. The outsider would not be permitted to sell 
his goods unless the purchaser had a security equivalent to that 
given by the gild regulations over production. The gild could 
not regulate the production of the outsider, therefore it would 
only allow him to sell under severe conditions of inspection, and 
after the paj^ment of fees by which the borough in general pro- 

England 241 

fited, while they were a guarantee that the foreigner who was 
ready to pay them had something worth seUing. The discourage- 
ment of the foreigner, that is, was not actuated wholly either 
by jealousy or by the protectionism of the producer. But the 
spirit of particularism, the spirit of actual antagonism to the 
foreigner as such, was still exceedingly strong ; the idea that a 
profit could be made by commerce with the outsider, that pro- 
duction was fostered by the opportunity of exchanging produce 
for goods which were not easily produced locally, had made httle 
way. Community of interest between producers at different 
centres and between consumers at different centres was only 
beginning to be recognised. It was not till the close of the 
thirteenth century that nationalist conceptions were superseding 

If every locality was jealous of ' foreigners,' very much 
stronger was the dislike and distrust of men of alien race. The 
ahen trader was admitted to the country only under The alien, 
stringent conditions. Room was found for alien communities, 
who were masters of special trades, such as weavers and fullers, 
trades which were becoming necessary, but were not yet taken 
up by the conservative Englishmen. But even these found 
themselves subjected to the animosity of the gilds merchant, and 
carried on their occupations under difficulties. Of all aliens the 
most detestable to the Enghshman was the Jew. The Jews were 
not traders ; they were financiers whose business it The Jews. 
was to accumulate money, and to turn their possession of money 
to account. The Jews were brought into England and protected 
in the interests of the Crown because the Crown was constantly 
in need of ready cash, which the Jews could provide — on reason- 
able terms, since their safety depended upon the easily with- 
drawn protection of the Crown. Mediaeval ethics forbade the 
Christian to lend money at interest ; while there could obviously 
be no inducement except friendship to lend money without in- 
terest. But the Jew had no such scruples ; consequently if the 
Christian wanted to borrow he borrowed from the Jew, and cursed 
the Jew for the exorbitant interest he demanded. In the eyes of 
the populace, the Jews were an accursed race, suspected of hideous 

Innes's.Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. Q 

242 Two Centuries 

crimes ; but they were generally protected from serious outrage 
by the favour of the Crown, which could not afford to dispense 
with their services. It was only upon occasion that there were 
savage outbreaks against them, as instanced by a massacre of the 
Jews at York when Richard was starting on his crusade. 

There was little contact, however, between the Hebrew and 
the general population. The system of conducting business upon 
Money. borrowed capital had not been invented ; and 

money itself, the commodity in which the Jews dealt, was not 
coming into general popular use until the thirteenth century. 
That is to say, trade was still largely a matter of direct barter : 
services were paid for by maintenance, not in coin, and the tenant 
for the most part paid his dues to his lord in kind not in cash. 
The Crown wanted silver — ^gold was hardly to be had — and as 
early as the reign of Henry i. the Crown began to insist upon 
having its dues paid in money, whereby a demand for coin was 
created ; but it was not till a good deal later that money was 
fairly becoming the established medium of exchange. The 
scarcity of the precious metals made silver worth more, its pur- 
chasing power greater, than that of gold in modem times. 

Economic progress is mainly apparent in the development of 
town life and the specialisation of trades ; perhaps also in the 
Industrial gradual development of a money economy, and in 
metnods. ^^ probably growing tendency for payment to dis- 
place personal service ; exemplified at the top of the feudal scale 
by scutage, and at the bottom on the one hand by the paj^ment 
of rent in place of agricultural service, and on the other by the 
corresponding employment of hired instead of obligatory labour. 
This, however, is a matter of inference rather than of direct 
evidence. As yet, English handicrafts had developed little, and 
English manufactured products were of a rough and homely kind. 
It was evident, however, that the thirteenth century saw also 
some improvement in agricultural methods, if only because the 
subject was receiving a more careful attention. For the first 
time there appeared treatises upon the management of estates, 
one by no less a person than Bishop Grosseteste, and another, 
Le Dite de Hosebondrie, by Walter of Henley, in 1250, which was 

England 243 

accounted a standard work for a couple of centuries. Neverthe- 
less, movement was not rapid, and this may be accounted for by 
a single reason ; the idea of carrying on agriculture for the pur- 
pose of profit had not developed. For the most part it had not 
occurred to any one that anything more was to be aimed at than 
subsistence, the production of an abundant supply for home 

Intellectually and morally the Norman period in England was 
one of stagnation or retrogression. But the reaction against the 
wild anarchy of the civil wars was in itself partly influence of 
the outcome of awakening conscience and awaken- *^® Church. 
ing ideaUsm, for which the Church and the crusades may claim 
a large share of the credit. The Papacy, taking its impulse from 
Hildebrand, engaged in a prolonged struggle with the secular 
power, assuming therein an attitude which can hardly be called 
apostolic. It culminated in the triumphant ascendency of 
Innocent in., \yho was conspicuously the greatest potentate in 
Europe. But if very unspiritual ambitions were included in the 
papal aims, nearly every pope for two centuries was actuated 
by the honest beUef that the cause of the Papacy was the cause 
of God, that the Church was the champion of the right, and that 
the triumph of the Church meant the triumph of idealism over 
materiahsm. The Church and the crusades taught men to fight 
and strive and sacrifice themselves for a cause which they ac- 
counted holy, however much other motives might be inter- 
mingled ; they taught the knight to seek for something more 
than a reputation for mere valour and skill in arms ; they taught 
the priest that he must justify his claim to authority by his 
character as well as by his office. They emphasised the side of 
chivalry which required the knight to be the champion of the 
oppressed; and their teaching bore fruit in two of the most 
characteristic personahties of the thirteenth century— Earl 
Simon the Righteous and St. Louis of France. 

Under the Normans the clergy and the monasteries main- 
tained standards which were at least relatively high. The Nor- 
man discipUne was rigorous and it was not tactful. The ciergy. 
as witnessed by the serious disturbances at Glastonbury under 

244 Two Centuries 

Abbot Thurstan. There was an ample share of superstition in 
the religion of the day, which attributed most misfortunes to the 
direct judgment of Heaven for misdoings, and especially for such 
ecclesiastical improprieties as the appointment of objectionable 
pluraUsts to high preferments. The bishops, Uke the family of 
Roger of Salisbury, were more apt to be shrewd and worldly men 
of business than genuine saints like Anselm or theatrical saints 
Uke Becket, in whose case it is difficult to disentangle what was 
sincere from what was histrionic ; but the clerical body displayed 
a respectable courage, though without much success, in its en- 
deavours to mitigate the brutalities of the anarchy. The great 
multiplication of monasteries under more rigid rules was the 
outcome of an honest desire to make the religious life a reality, 
and the fervency of St. Bernard of Clairvaux was reflected 
among the EngUsh clergy, though it was accompanied by the 
reflection of his arrogance. 

With the accession of Henry ii. and the development of a new 
standard of public spirit among the laity, the clergy ceased to 
TUe friars. be conspicuously the upholders of the hght in dark 
places. England indeed owes much to Hubert Walter and to 
Stephen Langton, but httle to the churchmanship of the former. 
In the thirteenth century a new moral influence came from the 
Church, but it had its source neither in the magnates, nor in the 
great monastic estabhshments. In 1221 the friars of the new 
Dominican order made their first appearance in England, and 
were followed three years later by the Franciscans. 

The essential feature of monasticism was the separation of the 
religious hfe from the world. The essential feature of the move- 
ment set on foot by St. Francis of Assisi was apostolic, the living 
of the religious Ufe in the midst of the world, the Hving of a hfe 
approximating as nearly as possible to that of Christ and His 
apostles. The service of God was to be essentially the service 
of man. The vow of poverty in the case of the monastic orders 
was personal : it did not forbid the accumulation of estates and 
wealth by the monastic community. In the case of the friars 
the vow extended to the community itself, which was forbidden 
to acquire property, so that the members could obtain a Uveh- 

England 245 

hood only by working for it, or by alms. Their primary aim was 
the salvation of souls, but with that was coupled the care of the 
body and of the mind. They devoted themselves ^^ 
especially to the care of the poor and of the sick ; but intellectual 
their intellectual activity was no less remarkable. 
From the order of St. Francis came Roger Bacon and Duns 
Scotus, the pioneer of science and the pioneer of rationalism. 
They threw themselves into the educational movement, and 
raised the university of Oxford almost, if not quite, to an equality 
with the university of Paris, a work in which vigorous part was 
taken by Bishop Grosseteste. For until almost the middle of the 
thirteenth century, the Enghshmen who took an active and 
leading part in the intellectual controversies of the day had 
acquired the best of their training in Paris. 

But though in the thirteenth century the intellectual move- 
ment was exceedingly striking, it did not yet produce a literature. 
The language of learning was Latin, the language of Literature, 
culture was French. Historians indeed of a commendable 
quality were produced successively in the so-called Benedict of 
Peterborough, who quite certainly was not the abbot Benedict 
in actual fact, in Roger of Hoveden, Roger of Wendover, 
and Matthew Paris, whose work as contemporary chroniclers 
extends from 1170 to 1259 ; and with them may be named the 
decidedly untrustworthy Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote surveys 
of Wales and Ireland and of the conquest of Ireland in the reign 
of Henry 11. The law book called by the name of Ranulf Glan- 
ville, and Richard Fitzneal's Dialogus de Scaccario, or Account 
of the Exchequer, are invaluable expositions, and the latter at 
least has Hterary quahties apart from its precision and lucidity. 
But there is much more of a literary flavour in the irresponsible 
romance which their predecessor, Geoffrey of Monmouth, was 
pleased to call British history, and the miscellaneous Nugae, 
' Trifles,' of his contemporary Walter Map, as well as in the 
Arthurian legends which the same Walter composed. All these 
works were written in Latin. That the EngUsh language was 
not dead was shown at the outset of the thirteenth century by 
the Brut of Layamon ; but this was itself a very free translation 

246 Two Centuries 

or adaptation from the French, of legendary British history. 
Otherwise the survival of EngUsh as a written language is dis- 
coverable only in some works of a devotional character. The 
people had no hterature except the songs of the countryside, of 
which occasional fragments have come down to us, such as the 
well-known ' cuckoo song.' Art was confined almost entirely to 
manuscript illuminations and ecclesiastical decoration, and to 
the beautiful development of the ecclesiastical architecture, of 
which, perhaps, the most exquisite example is to be found in the 
cathedral of SaUsbury, which belongs to the reign of Henry in. 

II. Scotland and Wales 

The direct relations between the Crowns of England and Scot- 
land, the various occasions when homage was rendered or said 

to have been rendered by the northern kings, have 
in tne already been duly noted ; but a further examination 

eleventh qJ Scottish history during the two hundred years 

century. . 

which followed the accession of Malcolm Canmore is 

necessary to an adequate understanding of subsequent history. 
With Malcolm the d5Tiasty was estabhshed whose representative 
to-day wears the crown of the United Kingdom. But in the 
eleventh century Scotland itself was very far from being a con- 
solidated kingdom. The whole dominion was divided from 
England by Solway and Tweed ; but it was still uncertain 
whether Scotland was destined to extend further south to the 
Tees, or whether England would recover the Anglicised Bemicia, 
the eastern lowlands up to the Forth. This district, otherwise 
called Lothian, was the only region where the Anglo-Danish 
element predominated over the Celtic, unless we should add to 
it the coastal districts up to Aberdeen. Galloway was Celtic, 
and the rest of Strathclyde was more Celtic than Saxon. The 
highlands north of Clyde mouth and Forth were Celtic and 
thorough!}' tribal in their organisation, except that in the far 
north and all through the islands it was difficult to say whether 
the population was more Celtic or Norse. 
Malcolm, half Dane by birth and Northumbrian by breeding. 

Scotland and Wales 247 

married English Margaret, the sister of Eadgar Aetheling ; and 
Malcolm and Margaret Anglicised the lowlands. Not one of their 
sons had a distinctively Scottish name. Anglicising Dominant 
in their time did not mean Normanising ; the Nor- "^^"^^^ 
manising of the lowlands was the work of the half century after 
Malcolm's death, during the reigns of his three sons, Eadgar, 
Alexander i. , and David i. Most notably Margaret was responsible 
for bringing the Scottish Church under the Roman rule, after the 
English analogy, in place of the still largely prevalent Celtic 

Now after the fall of Donalbane and the establishment of 
Eadgar on the throne of Scotland by the help of Norman allies 
from England, the hope of a Celtic supremacy centred chiefly in 
the MacHeths, the descendants of Lady Macbeth, in whose name 
Macbeth had ejected Duncan in accordance with the Pictish law 
of succession. But the Anglicising influences did not penetrate 
into the Highlands ; and during Eadgar's reign Caithness and 
Sutherland, and the whole of the islands from the Orkneys to 
the Isle of Man were acknowledged by treaty to belong to Nor- 
way. The northern and southern islands were known respec- 
tively as the Norderies and the Suderies, which is the explanation 
of the title of the bishop of ' Sodor and Man.' For a century and 
a half the overlord of the islands was not the king of Scots but 
the king of Norway. 

The sons of Malcolm Canmore inherited their mother's piety 
and much of their father's shrewdness and force. Also they bore 
a particularly high reputation for moral character. Malcolm's 
They were unfortunate in their lack of offspring, °°"^- 
but the brothers always worked harmoniously. When Eadgar 
died and was succeeded by Alexander i., it still seemed exceed- 
ingly probable that Scotland would spht into two kingdoms 
apart from the Norse fringe — the Celtic north and the now mainly 
Anghcised south, where Eadgar had already introduced some of 
his Norman friends. Alexander under pressure complied with 
the wishes of his brother Eadgar, and allowed practically the 
whole of the south to be assigned to David with the title of earl. 
All the English fiefs held by Malcolm were now held not by the 

248 Two Centuries 

king of Scots but by his brother Earl David, who extended his 
own southern connection by marr3dng Waltheof s daughter, and 
thus acquiring a claim to English Northumbria and Cumbria, as 
well as to the earldom of Huntingdon. Henry i., the brother-in- 
law of the Scots kings, never appears to have made any claim for 
homage from Alexander, which points to the view that he did not 
claim the vassalage of the Scottish Crown. Alexander continued 
his mother's poUcy of fostering the Anglicised Church ; and not 
without considerable difficulty he succeeded in evading the rival 
efforts of York and Canterbury to claim supremacy over the 
Church in Scotland. 

When in 1124 Alexander died, childless like his brother Eadgar, 
he was succeeded by Earl David, the great organiser of the 
Scottish kingdom. As earl and in effect sub-king, it had been 
comparatively easy for David to carry on the organisation of the 
south upon Norman lines. Precisely by what process Norman 

barons became great territorial lords it is not easy 
A new ° ■' 

Norman to say ; but in the course of the reign BalUols, 

Braces, and Fitzalans, the progenitors of the house 
of Stewart, the family who became High Stewards of Scotland, 
became magnates with large possessions, as well as several other 
Norman families ; many of these barons, like David himself, 
holding also possessions in England. This new Norman element 
placed in David's control a military force which enabled him to 
act with greatly increased effect against the Celtic earls of the 
north when they attempted to challenge the royal power and to 
assert privileges which they claimed as ancestral. The Norman 
feudatories were closely bound to the Crown by their interests ; 
and the result was that the king was able to exercise an unpre- 
cedented authority, although it was still impossible to impose 
southern institutions upon the north. And if for the time being 
the new baronage was closely Unked to the Crown, its association 
The Soots with the Church was still closer. More remote from 
clergy. Rome than the English Church, there was less 

temptation to Scottish ecclesiastics to admit papal pretensions, 
or to press ecclesiastical claims against the interests of the king 
by whose bounty they flourished. It was in the interest of the 

Scotland and Wales 249 

Scottish clergy to strengthen the king who was their patron, and 
to resist English pretensions which would threaten their inde- 
pendence of Canterbury. The vast donations of Crown lands 
which David made to the Church caused one of his descendants, 
nearly three hundred years afterwards, to call him a ' sore saint 
to the Crown ' ; but the Crown got value from the clergy for 
its hberality to them. 

David turned his niece's contest with Stephen to some account, 
and while Stephen was still king he got from young Henry 
Plantagenet the promise which, if it had been fulfilled, would have 
considerably extended the borders of Scotland. But David died 
in 1153, and unhappily his son Henry of Huntingdon died a year 
earlier. The crown of Scotland passed to a boy, Malcolm iv. ' the 
Maiden,' instead of to the prince who was reputed to have all the 
qualities which go to the making of the ideal monarch ; and 
Henry 11. of England found it easy to repudiate to the grandson 
the promises which he had made in his own youth to David. 

Scotland under David presents a marked contrast to England 
under Stephen. The king of Scots had before him for more than 
five and twenty years as earl or as king, the example progress of 
of his brother-in-law Henry i. of England; and tiie country. 
Scotland flourished under him as England might have flourished 
if a Henry 11. had succeeded immediately to Henry i. The 
progress of Scotland was perhaps greater than that of any other 
state in Europe ; relatively it was more prosperous than at any 
other period, though its advance continued for another century 
and a quarter after David's death. The towns acquired a large 
degree of self-government ; there was a fairly active trade ; the 
baronage and the Crown were in accord, and there was neither 
rampant feudaUsm nor threatening of a tyrannous absolutism, 
although, on the other hand, there came no constitutional de- 
velopment analogous to the growth of the parliamentary idea. 

Malcolm iv. was twelve years old when he began to reign, and 
he reigned for twelve years. It speaks well for the consolidation 
of the kingdom by David that in these circumstances Malcolm 
Scotland did not go completely to pieces. Malcolm ^''^ Maiden, 
or his advisers reahsed the impossibiUty of making head against 

250 Two Centuries 

so powerful a king of England as Henry 11. ; Henry's promises 
were repudiated, and the Scots territories were again limited 
by Tweed and Solway, though the Scots king still retained the 
earldom of Huntingdon as an Enghsh fief. On the other hand 
Malcolm finally suppressed the MacHeth trouble, which after his 
reign does not reappear. At this time is to be noted the appearance 
of the great chief Somerled, part Celt and part Norseman, the 
progenitor of the chiefs of the clan Donald, who acquired the 
lordship of the isles, at first under the Norse overlordship. Under 
the headship of the house of Somerled Celticism again by degrees 
won predominance in the isles, at any rate as far north as Skye, 
and at a later stage Celtic antagonism to the Scottish monarchy 
centred in the Lords of the Isles. 

This, however, was not till the overlordship was ceded by 
Norway to Scotland. In the reign of WiUiam the Lion, Malcolm's 
William brother and successor, who reigned for forty-nine 

the Lion. years, from 1165 to 1214, new claimants to the 

throne and champions of Celticism appeared in the MacWiUiams, 
who claimed descent from Malcolm Canmore by his first wife. 
As in the case of the MacHeths, the centre of Celtic resistance was 
in Ross and Moray. The MacWiUiam chief Donalbane was killed 
in battle in 1187 ; but after this William had difficulty in assert- 
ing his supremacy against the revolt of the Norse earl Harold of 
Caithness. The vicissitudes of William's reign were curious, 
since for fifteen years, between 1174 and 1189, he was the vassal of 
England ; and even in the reign of John he had some difficulty 
in preserving the liberties which he had bought back from 
Richard i. In the organised portion of the kingdom, however, 
progress continued ; as in England, the chartered towns multi- 
plied, a proof of the material advance. And in one respect there 
was an advance towards constitutionalism. An assembly of the 
estates — earls, barons, prelates, and free tenants — refused to 
raise the tax corresponding to the Saladin tithe, which Henry of 
England demanded as William's overlord ; and an assembly of 
estates met to sanction the tax which enabled William to purchase 
the abrogation of the treaty of Falaise. In other words, the 
right of the estates to consultation, and the refusal of abnormal 

Scotland and Wales 251 

taxation, was being recognised in Scotland as well as in England ; 
although it did not in Scotland lead to the same appropriation of 
political power by parliament, for the single reason that Scottish 
kings were not like EngUsh kings perpetually in need of procuring 
supplies from abnormal sources. Even in ordinary circumstances 
the kings of England found that they could not ' Uve of their own,' 
whereas the Scots kings could. 

William the Lion, his son Alexander 11., and his grandson Alex- 
ander III., ruled between them for a hundred and twenty years. 
Both the Alexanders were men of great vigour and Alexander 11. 
ability ; their relations with England, though occasionally 
strained, never led to open war ; and under these conditions 
everything tended to preserve the national prosperity and to 
continue the process of national consohdation. Alexander 11. 
was only seventeen at the time of his accession, but the attempts 
of the turbulent elements to take advantage of his youth only 
showed that he was worthy to be the grandson of David i. The 
revolts were put down with promptitude and energy, and the 
two semi-independent districts on the west coast, Galloway and 
Argyle, were brought into effective submission. On the other 
hand the young king's attempt to make profit for himself out of 
the Enghsh troubles at the end of John's reign, came to nothing, 
with the failure to place Louis of France on the English throne. 
Alexander made his peace with the EngUsh government of 
Hubert de Burgh, to whom he gave a sister of his own in marriage, 
while he himself married Henry iii.'s sister Joanna. At a later 
stage, about 1236, Henry was anxious to reassert his grand- 
father's overlordship, but Alexander was strong enough to 
rebut the claim and assert his own counterclaim to Northumber- 
land. War was averted by a compromise which admitted neither 
claim but gave Alexander some Northumbrian territory as an 
English fief. In fact, the relations between Henry and the barons 
practically secured the Scots king against serious danger from 
the southern country. 

Alexander 11. died in 1149, when his son Alexander ill. was only 
eight. Until 1262 Scotland experienced those disadvantages of a 
minority from which she was so repeatedly to suffer for more than 

252 • Two Centuries 

three centuries. Consolidation, however, had already gone so 
far that there was not, as there would have been in the past, 
Alexander ^ Celtic anti-Scottish movement ; for we now use 
III. : the the term Scottish as representing the feudalised 

^°^ ^' government of the south, with its composite racial 
elements. The strife during the minority was between two 
factions, each of them headed by Norman nobles, Durward and 
Comyn, the latter descended from the Conqueror's earl of 
Northumberland, Robert de Commines. Henry iii. gave his 
daughter Margaret in marriage to the boy king, whom he tried 
to inveigle into an acknowledgment of vassalage, which the boy, 
no doubt under careful instructions, had the wit to parry. Henry, 
however, procured for himself an alliance with the Durward 
faction, with the result that the Comyn faction became definitely 
committed to Scottish nationalism ; and here we find the begin- 
nings of the nationalist and Anglicising grouping of Scottish 
barons which was to play an important part in later history. 
And here also we have the beginning of the definite association 
between the Church and nationaUsm, strengthened by the ex- 
plicit pronouncement of the Pope against Henry's claim to the 
vassalage of the Scottish Crown. But the Barons' War entirely 
prevented Henry from giving effective support to the English 
faction ; and long before it was over, Alexander had come of age 
and proved himself a monarch entirely capable of holding his 
own. Not till he was dead did it become possible for the English 
claim to be revived. 

Scotland looked back in after years to the reign of Alexander in. 

as a golden age ; a view of it which is no doubt intensified by the 

, era of storm and stress which followed it. Alexander 
The reign of 

Alexander was a strong and exceedingly popular monarch ; 
he kept the country free from internal disturbances 
and secure from English aggression, and under his rule its 
material prosperity continued to increase. But the outstanding 
feature of the reign was the short war which established the 
Scottish overlordship of the isles. The independence of the 
Hebrides with a professed allegiance to Norway was a perpetual 
menace to the peace of the Scottish kingdom. Alexander was 

Scotland and Wales 


no sooner of age than he attempted to negotiate with King 
Hakon of Norway. Hakon's reply was a great invasion of 
Scotland, by Clydemouth ; but the Norwegian force was 
shattered at the battle of Largs. In the course of the next three 
years the islands were forced to acknowledge the supremacy of 
the king of Scots, and in 1266 Eric, Hakon's successor on the 
Norwegian throne, ceded the islands by treaty for a sum down 
and an annual payment of a hundred marks. The last fourteen 
years of Alexander's reign fall within that of Edward i. in Eng- 
land, and belong to the history of the great Plantagenet's attempt 
to bring Scotland and England under a single sceptre. 

Wales, imUke Scotland, never formed itself into an organised 
state. Its normal condition at all times, both before and after 
the Norman Conquest, was one of division into . 

petty principalities. Now and then the rise of a tiiirteentii 
particularly efficient warrior, such as of that 
Gr5rffydd who gave so much trouble in the days of Edward the 
Confessor, might bring extended regions under a single dominion 
for a time, but re-division was certain to follow. The Welsh- 
men, like the Irishmen and the highland Scots, Hved after their 
own fashion, scornful of innovations whether Saxon or Norman. 
The Welsh marches, the districts about the Wye, the Severn, and 
the Dee, occupied by the marcher earls, were a perpetual battle- 
ground ; but the Welshmen did not unite to force back EngHsh 
or Normans, and the marchers were not tempted to seek to 
estabhsh dominion among the Welsh mountains. There were 
usually Welsh princes ready to ally themselves with any one who 
was in arms against the king of England, or seemed hkely to be 
so, from Eadric the Wild to Alexander 11. of Scotland ; but beyond 
the marches they were of little use as allies. The Conqueror 
frightened them into subjection ; but even soldiers so vigorous 
as William Rufus and Henry 11. got very httle profit out of cam- 
paigning in Wales. The submission of Welsh princes lasted just 
so long as the Crown troops were in force in their territories. 

In the reign of John, however, there were signs of possible 
development. The greatest of the princes, Llewelyn ap Jorwerth 
of Gwynedd, had ideas of unif jdng Wales under his own leader- 

2 54 Two Centuries 

ship : the fact that his wife was a daughter of King John, though 
illegitimate, gave him a somewhat unique position. In 1212 he 
Ueweiyn I. succeeded in combining the rest of the princes in a 
general attack upon the marchers and the Enghsh castles. The 
Welsh did not sweep the Enghsh out of the country ; but when 
the barons and John were in arms against each other, Llewelyn 
allied himself with the barons. When the earl of Pembroke 
succeeded in estabUshing Henry iii. on the throne, and procur- 
ing a general pacification, Llewelyn had already recovered 
Cardigan and Carmarthen, which had been held for the king; 
and he was allowed to retain them. He continued to find his 
profit in the antagonisms between Hubert de Burgh, the Marshals, 
and Ranulf of Chester, whom he selected for his own aUy, much 
to his own advantage ; and there was an increasing disposition 
on the part of the Welsh to regard him as a national champion. 
Till the end of his life in 1240 he continued to be irrepressible 
himself, and to give his help to any one who seemed likely to 
make trouble on the marches ; and the Welsh princes in general 
recognised him as their head. 

On his death the domination of Gwynedd fell away, since 
Llewel5m's family did not preserve its own unity ; but after a 
Llewelyn II. brief period of echpse, one of his grandsons, Lleweljni 
ap Gryffydd, secured the supremacy over his kinsfolk and the sole 
lordship of Gwynedd. The prince found his opportunity for 
reviving his grandfather's ambitions when the Lord Edward 
was endowed with the earldom of Chester and the Crown terri- 
tories in Wales. Edward adopted the pohcy of endeavouring to 
Anghcise these districts by introducing the English system of 
shire courts. The Welsh population was excited by his inno- 
vations, and Llewelyn headed a rising, which in a few weeks put 
him in possession of a large part of Edward's lands — the * four 
cantreds ' on the north, and Cardigan. The helpless Henry 
could not, and would not, help his son ; the marchers stood 
aloof, having no inchnation to be dominated by his power as 
earl of Chester ; and virtually Llewelyn had to be left in pos- 
session. He had estabhshed his title among Welshmen as the 
champion of Welsh nationality. 

Scotland and Wales 255 

Next year the Mad Parliament met, and Llewelyn, like his 
grandfather, saw his own advantage in a judicious backing of 
the barons against the Crown, and then of Simon Llewelyn's 
da Montfort against the marchers. Alone among success. 
Simon's supporters he worked his way successfully through the 
Evesham campaign and the events which followed it, with the 
result that he was left at the conclusion acknowledged prince of 
all Wales, excepting, of course, the dominions of the Crown and 
of the marchers, and excepting also from his overlordship the 
princes of the old line of South Wales. In effect everything that 
Montfort had promised him in the last treaty before the battle 
of Evesham remained in his hands. He had been too successful 
for his own ultimate good, and in the next reign his aggressive 
ambitions prepared the way for his downfall. 


I. European Survey 

Before the Norman Conquest England stood isolated from the 
Continent. Practically her concern with European Powers was 
England's limited to defence against the aggressive maritime 
isolation. confederations of Scandinavia. In spite of the wide 
range of Aethelstan's matrimonial alliances she played no part 
in Continental affairs, and she herself was only touched by the 
fringe of Continental movements. The national life showed 
only reflections of the feudal reconstruction of Europe, and, 
despite the periodical efforts of zealous churchmen, her ecclesias- 
tical organisation was in effect largely independent of the Roman 
authority. The building up of Charlemagne's empire, its dis- 
integration, the reconstruction under the Saxon emperors, the 
formation of the West Prankish kingdom of France, the vicissi- 
tudes through which the Papacy passed, scarcely affected her. 
The isolation ceased when she passed vmder the sway of foreign 
masters. The feudalism which she was developing on her own 
lines was crossed by Norman feudahsm, and acquired a new and 
distinctive t5^e. Foreign ecclesiastics filled bishoprics and 
abbacies, and the contest between the empire and the Papacy 
had its coimterpart in England in the contest between the Crown 
and the clergy. She was still in effect unconcerned with the 
empire, but for a century and a half her kings were intimately 
concerned with French poUtics. She was no longer isolated, but 
foreign affairs stiU touched her mainly because her kings were 
French potentates, and the interests of the dominant race lay 
in France hardly less than in England. England was never at 
war even with France ; the dukes of Normandy and Aquitaine 


European Survey 257 

were at war with their suzerain, and incidentally drew upon their 
English resources to carry on their contests. 

Again the situation was changed when John was bereft of the 
Norman and Angevin inheritance, and was left with only a por- 
tion of his mother's Aquitanian dominion. When 

Edward i. succeeded to the throne of England half tnirteentii- 

a century after his grandfather's death, Guienne century 
■' diange. 

and Gascony were merely French fiefs forming a 

valuable portion of the dominions of the king of England. From 
this time forward, if there is war it is war between England and 
France on account of the EngHsh kings' possessions in France, 
not war between the French king and a great feudatory who 
happens to have the resources of England to draw upon. Eng- 
land herself is a protagonist, which she has never been before. 

Now the prominent fact that presents itself in connection with 
foreign policy during the next two centuries, as in the past, is 
that the only powers with which England comes in collision, or 
in whose doings she is directly interested, are France, Scotland, 
and the Papacy. After a century and a half Burgundy is assum- 
ing the characteristics of a distinct power ; but there is no other 
with which England comes in direct contact. Then suddenly 
with the accession of the house of Tudor comes an immense 
change, and England is swept into the vortex of European diplo- 
macy, rivalries, and alliances ; and we are inclined to wonder 
why nothing of the sort had happened before during all these 
centuries — why England and France were left to fight out their 
Hundred Years' War. But if that puzzle does present itself, it 
is only because we are familiar with the modern European system 
of great definite organised states, and have failed to realise that 
in the Middle Ages that system had not come into being. 

Geographical conditions had induced a certain degree of con- 
solidation upon national lines in England, in Scotland, and in 
France before the end of the thirteenth century. THe state 
But at that date even in France the national idea of Europe. 
was very indefinite, while outside the three countries named it 
hardly existed. In the Spanish peninsula there were the four 
Christian kingdoms of Portugal, Navarre, Castile, and Aragon, 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. i. R 

2S8 Edward I. 

besides the Moorish kingdom in the south. Northern Italy was 
a collection of independent city states. Sicily and Naples were 
on the point of passing under the sway of a junior branch of the 
house of Aragon. The great imperial dynasty of the Hohen- 
staufen had come to an end and the first Hapsburg emperor was 
on the point of being elected, mainly because he appeared to be 
insignificant, though he proved to be personally both vigorous 
and effective: two centuries were to pass before the imperial 
THe Empire, dignity Ceased to be a shuttlecock tossed from one 
rival house to another. With the fall of the Hohenstaufen 
following the death of Frederick ii. in 1250, the conception of the 
emperor as the secular head of Christendom practically perished, 
though it survived in theory ; nor was its place taken by the con- 
ception of a German nation. Dynasties might aggrandise them- 
selves by wars or marriages and territories might pass from one 
duke or count or margrave to another by the same processes, but 
Teutonic middle Europe remained a miscellaneous congeries of 
duchies and counties and archbishoprics, virtually without unity. 
In the two centuries past the Papacy had played a leading 
part in European affairs ; and for the last hundred years it had 
The Papacy, proved itself more powerful than emperors or kings ,' 
but its downfall was imminent, wrought by the overweening arro- 
gance of Pope Boniface viii. The power which had been too great 
even for the greatest of the Hohenstaufen went down before the 
unscrupulous Phihp the Fair of France, who dared to take up 
the challenge of Boniface ; and for seventy years the successors 
of St. Peter were almost the nominees of the French Crown, 
dweUing remote from the Eternal City at Avignon in Provence ; 
not indeed within the French border, but under the shadow of 
France. The long ' Babylonish captivity ' destroyed the papal 
prestige, and matters became worse with the Great Schism of 
1378. The accident of a pope's death in Rome gave the Romans 
the control of a papal election, which was repudiated by the 
French cardinals, who elected an anti-pope ; and Western 
Christendom divided its allegiance for purely political reasons 
between the rival claimants until the Schism was brought to an 
end by the Council of Constance in 1418. But the mischief had 

European Survey 259 

been done. The Papacy had lost its spiritual authority. Sub- 
versive doctrines had been promulgated in England by John 
Wiclif, and though LoUardy was driven under the surface in 
the land of its birth, Wiclif's principles took root in Bohemia. 
The Council of Constance, which endeavoured to restore the 
character of the Papacy, tried also to crush the new doctrines by 
burning their great advocates, John Huss and Jerome of Prague. 
It did not stamp out heresy, but it deluged East Central Europe 
with the blood of the Hussite wars. In fact, despite the merits 
of a series of popes the Papacy never recovered from the de- 
morahsation of the Great Schism, and the way was made ready 
for a more decisive revolution. 

In the period then upon which we are now entering, the Papacy 
after the death of Boniface, which very shortly preceded that of 
Edward i., is of comparatively little account in EngHsh history 
until we reach the Tudor times ; and the same may be said of 
the German kingdom or empire. The course of events in Scot- 
land will explain itself as the story proceeds ; but it may be 
useful to have some preliminary explanation of the course of 
events in France. 

Since the beginning Of the thirteenth century the rule first 
of PhiUp Augustus and then of St. Louis had done much to 
strengthen the Crown of France. PhiKp ill., the 
successor of Louis ix., was no great ruler, but in his under the 
reign the failure of heirs to great estates added very ° ^^* ^' 
large districts to the direct possessions of the French Crown, in- 
cluding in effect Poitou, Auvergne, Languedoc, and Champagne. 
The only great feudatories who were still in a marked degree inde- 
pendent were the count of Flanders and the dukes of Burgundy 
on the east, of Brittany, and of Aquitaine, the last of whom was 
also king of England. Phihp's much abler son, Philip iv., com- 
monly called the Fair, devoted himself to concentrating adminis- 
trative control in the hands of the king, and to snatching portions 
of the still independent territory whenever he could provide 
himself with a colourable pretext. In the latter attempts he 
was unsuccessful, gaining little by his dealings with Edward I., 
and being completely foiled in his efforts to get possession of 

26o Edward I. 

Flanders : the Flemings, though they had little enough love for 
their count, were stiU less disposed to submit to the tyranny of 
the French king. But the general effect of the government of the 
last two generations of the direct line of Capet, Phihp iv. and 
the three sons who ruled after him in succession, was to strengthen 
the administrative control of the Crown, and to estabUsh the 
pohcy of appropriating everything that could be extracted from 
the feudal nobility. 

The rule of Philip's sons, Louis x., Phihp v., and Charles iv., 
established the principle of male succession to the throne. Since 
The vaiois the days of Hugh Capet, son had succeeded father, 
succession. ^^^ ^^ question of law had ever arisen. Louis X. 
died leaving a daughter, but another child was expected, and the 
question of the succession was postponed till its arrival. The 
posthumous baby was a boy, but it hved less than a week ; and 
the result was that the late king's brother Phihp, who during the 
last months had been acting as regent, was recognised as the heir 
in preference to Louis's daughter. When Phihp died he also 
left a daughter, but the third brother succeeded to the throne. 
It was only on his, death that the new question was propounded 
whether the succession might descend through, though not to, a 
female — the theory on which a claim was put in on behalf of 
Edward in. of England. The theory, however, was rejected. 
Philip VI., the son of Charles of Vaiois, brother of Phihp iv., 
became king ; and the exclusion of females from the hne of suc- 
cession became the recognised law of France. 

Ten years after Philip's accession the Hundred Years' War 
began between England and France. The disasters of the first 
twenty years, and the devastations wrought by the outbreak of 
the plague called the Black Death, led to the attempt of the 
townsmen of Paris to win popular government, and to the terrible 
revolt of the peasantry called the Jacquerie. Both movements 
ended in failure, and their effect was once more to strengthen 
the power of the Crown in the hand of Charles v. called Le Sage 
(the Wise). Before his accession, however, the Vaiois kings had 
entered upon the dangerous course of largely increasing the ap- 
panages of junior members of the royal family. The idea was 

Edward the Legislator 261 

that this would strengthen the Crown against the older feuda- 
tories ; but the practical effect was to make the royal family a 
house divided against itself. The most notable example is 
provided by Burgundy. The French duchy of Burgundy. 
Burgundy lapsed to the Crown in 1361. King John instead of 
retaining it in his own hands bestowed it upon his fourth son 
Philip. But PhiHp married Margaret, the daughter of the count 
of Flanders, and this marriage made him lord of Flanders, Artois, 
and Nevers, and also of the county of Burgundy or Franche 
Comte, a fief of the empire not of France. In a later generation 
this Burgundian dominion was further extended by marriages, 
so that it embraced virtually the whole of the Netherlands, or 
what we now call Holland and Belgium, while only a part of it 
was under French suzerainty. Incidentally, we may note that 
the province of Dauphine on the north of Provence was trans- 
ferred to the French Crown in 1349, and thereafter became the 
appanage of the heir-apparent to the French throne, who thence- 
forth began to be known by the title of the Dauphin. 

The evil results of this new system did not make themselves 
apparent until after the death of Charles v. The accession of 
the boy Charles vi. in 1380, and his subsequent development 
of intermittent insanity, led to fierce rivalries for supremacy 
between his uncles, and afterwards between his younger brother 
and cousins. The two factions came to be known as Burgun- 
dians and Armagnacs ; and this rivalry was a fundamental 
factor in Henry v.'s conquest ; while the later defection of Bur- 
gundy from the English alliance ensured the expulsion of the 
English from France, followed by the reorganisation of the 
French monarchy by Louis xi. 

II. Edward the Legislator, 1272-1289 

Edward had already started on his return from Palestine 
when the news reached him in Sicily of his father's death. So 
thorough had been the pacification of England that Accession of 
two more years passed before he felt that his own ^^^a^rd i. 
presence was necessary in his kingdom. On his departure he 

262 Edward I. 

had left the administration in the hands of Roger Mortimer, 
Robert Burnell, who became his chancellor, and the archbishop 
of York. They were confirmed in the regency by a parliament 
which met in 1273, as well as by Edward's own authority, and 
no disturbances arose during the king's prolonged absence, which 
was mainly due to difficulties in Aquitaine. 

Edward himself returned to England in the autumn of 1274, to 
take his place in our history as the first definitely national king 
Edward of a unified England, at least since the Norman 

the Unifier. Conquest. The Normans and the early Angevins 
had all been foreign rulers of a nation dominated by a foreign 
aristocracy. When the thirteenth century opened the aristo- 
cracy had almost, but not altogether, ceased to be foreign ; the 
predilection of Henry ill. for actual foreigners had completed 
the Anglicising of the baronage. Edward himself was nationalist 
in a double sense. His Enghsh kingdom occupied the first place 
in his thoughts and schemes which were directed to its magni- 
fication ; but it was also a primary purpose of his administration 
to deepen and strengthen the sense of Enghsh unity, to treat the 
nation as a whole, to make it regard itself as one, and to smooth 
away the local barriers which helped to perpetuate what may be 
called provincial separatism. It was not the mere vulgar desire 
to acquire territory so much as the statesmanhke conception 
of framing a single homogeneous state which lay at the root of 
his desire to bring Scotland and Wales under a single sceptre with 
England. He failed ; not because the conception was unsound, 
but because the methods which he adopted to give it effect sub- 
stituted subjection for unification ; and Scotland proved stubborn 
enough and strong enough to shake off a yoke imposed on her at 
the sword's point. But he successfully estabUshed in England 
itself a political and social structure far in advance of any other 
state ; not because he was a great creative political genius, but 
because he made it his business, and taught even his antagonists 
to make it their business, to leave nothing indefinite which could 
be defined. 

The rule of the Norman kings had been to a great extent 
a contest with the disintegrating forces of feudalism, which were 

Edward the Legislator 263 

held down by the Conqueror and his sons, broke out into wild 
excess under the incompetent Stephen, and were finally crushed 
by the judicious absolutism of the first Plantagenet. Edward and 
Absolutism wielded by a John or a Henry ill. had *^^ crown, 
proved intolerable, and the barons seeking to place it under 
some control had threatened to create an oligarchical system, 
a danger which was averted first by Stephen Langton and WiUiam 
Marshal, and afterwards by Montfort, and by Edward himself 
acting upon exceedingly diverse Unes. A strong and permanent 
form of central government was not yet estabUshed ; there was 
still a possibility that the barons might prove too strong for the 
Crown ; and it was definitely Edward's purpose to re-estabhsh 
the Crown's supremacy. To achieve that end Edward had learnt 
that the first necessity was for the Crown and the law to be on the 
same side. The second need he had leamt from Montfort, that 
of calUng in a force in the country which might be used to check 
an aggressive baronage, a force residing mainly in the towns and 
the minor landholders. The constitutionalism which created 
the Model Parliament was not intended to hmit the power of the 
Crown, but rather to provide a counterpoise to the greater barons. 
But when Edward had made his parUament the effective mouth- 
piece of a wide pubUc opinion, he had provided also a counter- 
poise to any force, whether baronial or regal, or, it may be added, 
ecclesiastical, which ran violently counter to that pubhc opinion. 
Edward, with all his devotion to legahty, was more than ready to 
act upon any verbal quibble by which the spirit of the law could 
be evaded, and the support of its letter could be claimed ; but 
he leamt that evasions were dangerous when they set pubhc 
opinion at defiance. 

The reign falls into two main periods with an interval between 
them which may be appropriated to either. The first is the 
great era of legislation which ends in the year 1285, Division of 
a period which includes the subjugation of Wales. ^'^^ "^S"- 
The second is the era of the constitutional contest and of the 
Scottish struggle for independence, which lasts from 1294 to the 
end of the reign. The interval was marked by one statute of 
importance — the third Statute of _. Westminster — and by the 

264 Edward I. 

Scottish arbitration which placed John Balliol on the Scottish 
throne as the vassal of the king of England. 

Edward had scarcely landed in England when the traveUing 
justices were commissioned to collect information as to the 
character and extent of the franchises, privileges, and special 
jurisdictions enjoyed by the lords of the soil : an inquiry which 
was to bear fruit a few years later when the reports were in the 
king's hands. In 1275 his first parliament met at Westminster, 
though in a sense it was not the first of the reign. That title 
First belongs more properly to the assembly which met in 

Parliaments. z,2.']j, to take the oath of allegiance to the absent 
monarch, and to confirm the regency. The composition of 
parUament was still undefined. On that earlier occasion it had 
been attended not only by magnates but also, Uke Montfort's 
parliament of 1265, by four representative knights from each 
shire, and four representatives from each borough. It is con- 
venient, however, to introduce distinctions which belong to a 
later date, and to call this assembly which was not summoned 
by the king himself a convention, instead of a parhament, reserv- 
ing the title of First Parhament to the assembly of 1275. In this 
parliament, too, there was another element besides that of the 
magnates, the prelates, and greater barons to whom alone the 
name of baron will thenceforth be apphed ; but this other element 
is only indefinitely described as the ' community ' or the ' com- 
monalty ' of the land. Its work was the promulgation of the 

, , , Statute of Westminster I., which was a sort of 
statute of 

Westminster tabulation of existing charters and ordinances to 
■' be recognised as the law of the land. 

The work of definition was fairly begun, but with it came the 
counterpart to the formal recognition of public rights — a grant 
of revenue. The Idng was authorised to levy a toll permanently 
upon the export of wool, wool-feUs, and leather, a tax which soon 
acquired the general title of the Great and Ancient Custom, a 
duty the levying of which was admittedly a royal prerogative. 
Later in the year a second parhament was held in order to obtain 
a further grant, and on this occasion it is specifically recorded 
that the knights of the shire were summoned. During the en- 

Edward the Legislator 265 

suing ten years, parliaments were constantly summoned for 
purposes of legislation or taxation, although no regular principle 
is to be observed implying the recognition of any right of attend- 
ance except on the part of the magnates. In 1276 there were only 
minor enactments, and in the next year the king was occupied 
with his first Welsh war. 

In 1278 the report upon the inquiry into the franchises known 
as the Rotuli Hundredorum, or Hundred Rolls, was followed up 
by the Statute of Gloucester and the issuing of the Qm, -^yar- 
writ Quo Warranto, whereby the itinerant justices ^anto, 1278. 
were required to ascertain the warrant or authority under which 
the privileges were enjoyed. In theory there could be no right 
to special jurisdictions or exemptions from the operation of the 
ordinary law except by a specific grant from the Crown ; in theory 
therefore no one who was unable to produce such a title could 
claim a legal right to privilege. There could indeed be no 
practical doubt that of the privileges in operation many had been 
simply usurped without authority ; but, on the other hand, it 
was equally certain that others had been legitimately conceded, 
though the evidences of the grant had not been preserved. The 
baronage were at once metaphorically, and threatened to be 
hteraUy, up in arms to resist any curtailment of what they had 
come to regard as unquaJified rights. Whatever Edward's in- 
tentions may have been, he very soon saw that it would be prac- 
tically impossible to insist on the production of documentary 
proofs. To the barons it was of first-rate importance that they 
should not be deprived of what they already enjoyed. To the 
king the essential matter was once for all to stop any further 
encroachments. The justice of the case was met by the recog- 
nition of all privileges which had been in fact enjoyed at the time 
of Richard i.'s accession ; but the privileges now stood on record, 
and could only be added to by direct authority from the Crown- 
Possibly it had been Edward's intention not to curtail the 
privileges, but to allow the barons to redeem them by a fine ; but, 
in fact, he jaelded to the pressure of opinion. The need of re- 
plenishing the exchequer is illustrated by the ' distraint of 
knighthood ' in the same year, a writ requiring all freeholders 

2 66 Edward I. 

with an estate of twenty pounds a year to take up knighthood 
and pay the incidental fees to the Crown. 

In the next year, 1279, the Church was dealt with in cor- 
responding fashion. For the second time since his accession, 
Ardibishop the Pope had, not without good reason, ignored 
Peokham. Edward's desire to make his chancellor, Robert 
Burnell, archbishop of Canterbury. The new archbishop, a 
Franciscan friar, John Peckham, was an ardent supporter of 
the extreme claims of the Church. Ahnost the first act of Peck- 
ham was in effect an assertion of the right to penahse violations 
of the Great Charter — an imputation that the king had violated 
it — and to enforce the pronouncements of the ecclesiastical 
courts, even against the king's officers, by excommunication. 
Peckham found himself obliged to give way before Edward's 
indignation ; but the king at once proceeded to enact in parHa- 
statute of n^ent the statute De Rdigiosis, commonly called the 
Mortmain, Statute of Mortmain, which forbade the transfer of 


land to ecclesiastical corporations without the 
sanction of the overlord. The statute did not in fact make 
any material alteration in practice ; it amounted to httle more 
than the assertion of the right of the Crown to exercise a control 
over dispositions of land which in effect released it from sundry 
of the ordinary feudal obligations. When land passed to a cor- 
poration the feudal overlord was permanently deprived of the 
benefits of escheat, wardship, marriage, and succession. The 
statute, however, had a practical value in putting a stop to a 
trick by which lay tenants often sought to evade their obhgations 
by a nominal transfer to the Church, which stiH left them in 
effective enjoyment of the estates. 

After the Statute of Mortmain there was a legislative lull. 
The archbishop, in spite of the check he had received, attempted 
to extend the sphere of activity of the ecclesiastical courts, and 
was again sharply checked in 1281. In 1282 the second and 
decisive Welsh war broke out ; there was no time for ecclesiastical 
quarrels or for extensive law-making : until the Welsh war was 
over the only purpose for which Edward wanted parliaments 
was the raising of money. In 1282 money was j)rocured not 

Edward the Legislator 267 

from parliament but by private negotiations with, siiires and 
boroughs. This was not enough ; and next year when the 
Welsh campaign made it impossible for either the . . 
king or most of the barons to take part in a formal money, 


parliament, the experiment was tried of calling two 
councils for the provinces of Canterbury and York, and summon- 
ing city and shire representatives as well as ecclesiastics to attend 
them. Grants were obtained from the Commons, but only a 
partial promise from the clergy. Another irregular parliament 
was held later in the year at Shrewsbury, where two represen- 
tatives were summoned from each shire and from twenty selected 
cities and boroughs, for the trial of David the last of the Welsh 
leaders who had remained in arms. One piece of legislation, the 
Statute of Merchants or of Acton Bumell, was a by-product of 
this assembly. In the following year, 1284, the Statute of Wales, 
organising the administration of the subjugated country, was 
issued by the king's authority, without the calling of a parliament 
at all, though it was prepared in concert with the barons. Another 
royal ordinance of the same date known as the Statute of 
Rhuddlan, was also without parliamentary sanction, although 
after this time the term statute is hardly applied except to 
an Act of Parhament. The Statutes of Rhuddlan and Acton 
Bumell were concerned respectively with the methods of the 
royal exchequer and of the recovery of debts by merchants. 

In 1285, however, Edward's legislative activities were again 
in full play. The Statute of Westminster II. followed its earlier 
namesake in being largely a digest, or re-statement g^ . ^ ^ 
with emendations, of the existing laws. Its primary ■Westminster 
importance, however, lay in its innovating first '' 
clause, which has sometimes caused it to be referred to as the 
statute De Bonis Condiiionalihus. The principle established 
by this clause was what is called perpetual entail. Hitherto 
when land had been granted to a man and his heirs upon con- 
ditions, the grantee had full power of ahenation if his heirs failed. 
The statute deprived him of this power, and the estate reverted 
to the grantor. Thus the rights of the grantor and his heirs were 
secured and the powers of the actual tenant limited ; whereby 

268 Edward I. 

the greatest profit accrued to the king as being the greatest of 

Other clauses of the statute remodelled the assize courts; 
and the companion Statute of Winchester revived and remodelled 
statute of *^® system of the popular courts which had de- 
winchester, scended from Saxon times, the pohce system of hue 
and crj', watch and ward, and revised the mihtia or 
iyxA and the assize of arms. At the same time a -w-rit was issued 
by the king kno^^-n as Circumspecte Agatis, which was afterwards 
recognised as a statute. In effect it was an ordinance dealing 
with those encroachments of ecclesiastical jurisdiction on which 
Archbishop Peckham had employed himself, and it explicitly 
defined the legitimate limits of that jurisdiction. 

Of the next four years, all but a few months were passed by the 
king in France ; he returned to complete what may be called his 
Stat te of °^^^ legislative record with the Statute of West- 
Westminster minster III. known as Quia Emftores. There is no 

TTT 1290 

appearance that at this or the last Westminster 
parliament popular representatives were present. Both seem 
to have been assemblies of magnates, although a week after the 
promulgation of Quia Emptores a fresh parhament was assembled 
for the purpose of obtaining pecuniary grants, to which two or 
three elected knights from each shire were summoned. The 
purpose of the Act was to put an end to sub-infeudation. That 
is to say, if a landholder sold his land, his overlord became the 
overlord of the new possessor; the purchaser became the man, 
not of him who had ahenated the land, the alienor, but of the 
ahenor's overlord. As in the case of the De Bonis the rights and 
interests of the overlord were secured, and the maximum of 
advantage accrued to the supreme overlord, the king. It should 
be observed that the importance of these regulations was not 
nuhtary but financial. The obhgation of military service to the 
king always overrode the obligation of military service to a 
mesne lord. The point was that in respect of the financial in- 
cidents of feudal tenure, the feudal aids, the new tenant when 
land was ahenated became liable not to the aUenor but to the 
alienor's overlord. 

Conquest of Wales and Scottish Arbitration 269 

III. The Conquest of Wales and the Scottish Arbitration, 


It has been observed that it was Edward's ambition to con- 
soHdate the whole island of Great Britain into one powerful 
homogeneous kingdom, which would in effect be more powerful 
than any European state. But Wales, though admittedly sub- 
ject to the English Crown, stood outside the English system, and 
Scotland, ruled generally by vigorous kings, persistently dechned 
to admit an English overlordship. An effective annexation of 
Scotland was obviously out of the question so long as Alex- 
ander III. was hving ; and Alexander was a Httle younger than 
Edward himself. Only his unexpected and premature death in 
1286 brought the reahsation of Edward's ideal into the field of 
practical pohtics ; but before that time the subjugation of Wales 
had been accomplished. 

Wales had at all times stood perpetually in the way of any 
complete unification of the Enghsh government. Even kings so 
vigorous as Wilham Rufus and Henry 11. had found waies and 
the strain of campaigning in Wales too great to *^® marches, 
permit of a permanent and effective subjugation. The Welsh- 
men were held in check by the earls and barons of the marches ; 
the marcher lords were of necessity granted an amount of inde- 
pendent authority and freedom of action, which at aU times made 
the Welsh marches a dangerous centre for disaffection, and in 
some sort a menace to the authority of the central government. 
The earls of Chester, Gloucester, and Hereford, and latterly the 
house of Mortimer, had been in England the nearest represen- 
tatives of the great feudatories of foreign monarchs. Until Wales 
should be absorbed, the privileges of the marchers must be main- 
tained ; and so long as they were maintained the supremacy of 
the central government was incomplete. 

Llewelyn ap Jorwerth and his grandson, Llewelyn ap Gryffydd, 
had made such skilful use of the factions in England in the days 
of John and of Henry III. that Llewelyn 11. had sue- Llewelyn ap 
ceeded in making himself an almost independent Gryffydd. 
])rince with a supremacy, recognised both by English and Welsh. 

270 Edward I. 

over about three-fourths of Wales. His position had been secured 
by the treaty of Shrewsbury after the final triumph of the Crown 
over the Montfort party. Formal homage and the payment of 
the indemnity imposed upon him were the only conditions that 
he needed to observe to be secured against the Enghsh inter- 
ference. So long as Llewelyn kept quiet and respected those con- 
ditions, Edward would not have moved against him ; for it was 
the Enghsh king's boast that he kept his promises inviolate and 
never set the law at naught. 

But Llewelyn courted destruction. Success had excited his 
imagination ; he dreamed of a larger dominion, and overrated his 
power of achieving it. He conceived, when Henry ill. died, that 
he had found his opportunity in the accession of a king who was 
actually absent from the country ; for he systematically evaded 
taking the oath of allegiance to the new king, and the further pay- 
ment of the instalments of his indemnity. Although he threw down 
no open challenge he succeeded in expelling from Wales his own 
brother David, and Gr5dfydd, the subordinate prince of Powys, 
thereby strengthening his own control within Wales itself. Pre- 
sumably under the impression that a Montfort faction could be 
resuscitated, he demanded the hand of the great earl's daughter 
Eleanor, promised to him in 1265. In this he was foiled because 
the lady was captured on her way from France to Wales, and was 
detained in custody. He had gained nothing by the move, but 
he had acquired a new ground of resentment against the English 

Edward during his first two years in England made repeated 

efforts to induce the Welsh prince to do homage and to pay his 

debts. Every summons was ignored, or else an excuse was found 

for evading it. At the end of 1276 the king resolved 

weisii War, to enforce his authority with the strong hand. 


Before Edward's main army was collected in the 
summer of 1277, Llewelyn's dominions were attacked by three 
columns, in the north, the south, and the middle marches. The 
operations were immediately successful ; the southern chiefs sub- 
mitted at once, and Gr3^ydd was restored to Powys. But it was 
necessary to secure Llewelyn's own submission. In the summer 

The Conquest of Wales 271 

the main army advanced from Chester, working steadily along 
the northern coast, clearing a military road, and erecting forts 
at Flint and Rhuddlan. A fleet cut Llewelyn off from Anglesea, 
and secured its occupation by an English force. By mid-autumn 
Llewelyn was shut up in the Snowdon country with the prospect 
before him of being starved out ; and he submitted. The treaty 
of Aberconway left him lord of Gwynedd only, though the heavy 
indemnities to which the actual treaty compelled him to submit 
were remitted by grace of the conqueror. His brother David 
was rewarded for his adherence to the English party by the two 
cantreds of Duffryn Clwyd and Rhuvoniog, the greater part of the 
modem shire of Denbigh. Edward was so well satisfied with the 
completeness of the victory that Llewelyn was allowed to marry 
Eleanor de Montfort at the end of the year. 

Now it was obvious to every Englishman that English insti- 
tutions and English methods of government were infinitely 
superior to Celtic institutions and methods, in Wales The first 
as in Ireland. The manifest conclusion was that settlement. 
Wales ought to be administered upon Enghsh lines. Strong 
castles were established at Fhnt and Rhuddlan, at Aberystwyth 
and Carmarthen. The English shire organisation was applied 
in the south and in the two northern cantreds. EngUsh colonies 
were planted around the castle walls. English law overrode the 
ancient customs of the Welsh people. The reinstated Welsh 
princes found their authority encroached upon, and the Welsh 
population found themselves insultingly treated as inferiors by 
the English. Those who had resented the domination of the 
prince of Gwynedd and had helped to overthrow it, found the 
EngUsh domination tenfold more detestable. Appeals to Edward 
were in vain because the Welshmen were practically unable to 
present their case effectively. The result was that in a very short 
time the whole country was seething with disaffection, and a 
great insurrection was prepared unsuspected by the authorities. 
In the spring of 1282, a Uttle more than four years after the 
treaty of Aberconway, the rebellion blazed out. The first blow 
was struck by David, who had made friends with his brother. 
He fell upon Hawarden and captured it. Llewelyn flung him- 

272 Edward I. 

self in vain against the castles of Flint and Rhuddlan, but held 
the surrounding country at his mercy. David sped south ; 
The Cardigan and most of Carmarthen were quickly in 

inBiirreotion insurrection, and Aberystwyth itself was captured 

of 1282 

before David returned north to Denbigh, whence 
he could threaten the flank of any movement from Rhuddlan, 
which was now the headquarters for the king of England's 

It was Edward's intention to repeat the campaign of 1277, 
but the wide area of the insurrection, and the unexpectedly for- 
midable character which it assumed in the south, prevented an 
early concentration of forces. Gilbert of Gloucester, the same 
who had figured so largely at the close of Simon de Montfort's 
career, opened the southern campaign, but was surprised, routed, 
and driven back to Carmarthen. For some time Edward re- 
mained in forced inactivity at Rhuddlan. In September a con- 
tingent of his vassals from Aquitaine occupied Anglesea. David 
was driven out of the Clwyd valley. Edward himself was able to 
advance to Conway. Then came a disaster to the troops from 
Anglesea, which had invaded Carmarthenshire in time of truce. 
Edward made up his mind to a winter campaign. 

But it was not in the Snowdon district that the decisive blow 
was destined to be struck. Llewelyn, determined not to be 
FaU of trapped there and starved into surrender, hurried 

Llewelyn, off to the middle marches to raise the Welsh on the 


Upper Wj'e. They raUied to his standard, and 
barred the advance of an EngUsh force at the Bridge of Orewyn 
on the Yrvon. But while Llewelyn himself was absent, confident 
that he had left his troops in an impregnable position, the English- 
men found a ford, crossed the river imimpeded, and routed the 
Welsh. Llewelyn himself was on his way back to join his force 
when he was captured and slain. It was this accident which 
transformed the battle of Orewyn Bridge into a decisive victory, 
for there was no one capable of taking Llewelyn's place. The 
battle itself has some significance as being the first recorded 
occasion since Hastings when the bow was employed to break 
up the enemy's ranks as a preUminary to the cavalry attack ; a 

The Conquest of Wales 273 

system which was to be developed with decisive success in 

Edward's Scottish wars. 

The fall of Llewelyn broke the resistance in the south and 

the middle marches ; but David still held out in Snowdon as 

his brother's successor. The prolongation of the „ ^. 

^ ° Subjugation 

struggle had been made possible only by the ex- completed, 


treme difficulty of placing an English army in the 
field, for want of money. It was this which led to the summoning 
of the two separate councils at the beginning of 1283, in order 
to obtain a grant which, however, Edward still found to be in- 
adequate. But there came another contingent from Aquitaine : 
thus reinforced, Edward again began to move in the north, while 
Wilham of Valence, earl of Pembroke, marched up from the 
south where he had taken the chief command in place of Glou- 
cester. David in effect threw up the struggle, became a fugitive, 
and was surrendered by his own people in June. In October he 
died the death of a traitor, and no man was left to emulate the 
exploits of the Lleweljms. With no chief to rally round, no 
defiant patriot with the prestige of a princely name and an in- 
spiring ancestry, the possibilities of an organised Welsh resist- 
ance disappeared, and Edward set himself to order the govern- 
ment of subjugated Wales. 

The subjugation of Wales did not mean that all Wales was 
brought under a. single system. The marcher lordships remained 
as they had been before, except that at one stage or 
other of the conquest they had been extended, and settlement, 


during the last stages a large portion of the cantreds 
had been granted to the men who had been successful in ejecting 
David from Denbigh. Pembroke was a wholly Welsh earldom ; 
but the earls of Gloucester and Hereford, Lancaster, Lincoln, and 
Warenne held large territories with marcher rights : practically 
on an equality with them was Mortimer of Wigmore, and besides 
these there were several minor marcher barons. Their rights 
were defined and were presently to be curtailed : in the course of 
time many of the lordships lapsed to the Crown, and were ab- 
sorbed into the royal domain. But broadly speaking the regions 
which had been under the direct sway of Llewelyn and his allies, 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. I. S 

2 74 Edward I. 

the districts which had been actual Welsh lordships, were re- 
organised on the hnes of the English shire in the two groups 
forming North Wales and West Wales, each of which had its own 
court of chancery and exchequer, with their respective capitals 
at Carnarvon and Carmarthen. Royal castles and royal garri- 
sons ensured the effective mastery of the Crown, commanding 
every strategic point, and round them grew up colonies of English 
traders, secure under the protection of the garrisons. It was not 
till some years later that the whole principality thus annexed to 
the Crown was conferred upon the king's son Edward, bom at 
Carnarvon in 1284, setting the precedent by which thereafter the 
title of Prince of Wales was always conferred upon the heir ap- 
parent. The principality still stood outside the general Enghsh 
system, and for more than two centuries was unrepresented in 
Enghsh parhaments, with only two exceptions. The system of 
administration was laid down in the so-called Statute of Wales of 
1284, without being submitted to a formal parliament. 

From 1286 to 1289 Edward was in France busying himself with 
affairs which were no direct concern either of England or of 
The king's Aquitaine — the reconcihation of foreign princes, and 
absence, unsuccessful endeavours to promote a new crusade. 

He left the regency in the hands of his cousin 
Edmund of Cornwall. His absence, with the chancellor in his 
company, was unfortunate ; for many high legal officials seized 
the opportunity to indulge in an orgy of corruption. Also 
there was trouble in Wales ; first owing to the revolt of Rhys of 
Towy, one of the Welsh chieftains, who as a loyaHst had not been 
dispossessed, but who now found himself at odds with the South 
Wales government. He was successfully suppressed by the 
regent, and his lands were confiscated to the Crown. But a 
more serious matter was the outbreak of a fierce quarrel over 
the boundaries of their respective territories between the earls 
of Hereford and Gloucester, who indulged themselves in the old 
marcher practice of private war, very much to the pubhc detri- 
ment. Edward was brought hurriedly home in 1289, because, 
in response to an appeal for a general aid, he was met by Gilbert 
of Gloucester's declaration that no grant ought to be made until 

The Scottish Arbitration 275 

the king came home again. Edward came, heard, and acted. 
A number of judges were dismissed, though some were presently 
reinstated ; and the misconduct which had been rife in the 
king's absence was effectively checked, though inadequately 
punished, by the king's presence. 

The suppression of the corrupt judges was not more necessary 
than the control of the marchers. It is something of a paradox 

that the first move in this direction should have been 

the marriage of Gloucester to Edward's daughter and Here- 
Joan of Acre. On the face of it, the earl was greatly ' 
honoured ; in actual fact the marriage secured the Gloucester 
estates in tail to Joan's offspring, that is, to the blood royal, and 
the escheat to the Crown if her heirs failed. The next step was 
an order to the two earls to desist from their private war and 
submit the decision of their quarrel to a jury. The marchers 
unanimously refused to have anything to do with a procedure 
which deprived them of a cherished privilege. Nevertheless, 
Edward held his court at Abergavenny and forced the earls to 
an unquahfied submission ; though the actual penalties imposed, 
of imprisonment and forfeiture, were not ultimately enforced. 
Edward was at this moment at the height of his power and 
popularity in the country, because he had rejoiced the general 
community by the expulsion of the generally detested Jews. 

But just at this time there were larger issues at stake than the 
corruption of the judges or the turbulence of the Scotland, 
marchers ; for in 1291 Edward was invited to arbitrate upon the 
succession to the Scottish throne. 

We have seen Scotland prospering for a long time under a series 
of capable rulers, whose line culminated with Alexander ill., the 
last of the male descendants of Malcolm Canmore Alexander 
in the direct male line. Alexander followed the ex- ^^'■ 
ample of his predecessors in evading any formal recognition of 
the English king's claim of suzerainty over the Scottish kingdom. 
It is asserted on behalf of the English that in 1278 Alexander 
did render homage to Edward unconditionally. The Scottish 
Chronicle affirms that the homage expressly excepted the king- 
dom of Scotland, and the evidence rather favours its veracity. 

276 Edward I. 

In any case, the English claim was a pure formality. Edward 
certainly never made any attempt to enforce it. 

But when Alexander was killed by a fall from his horse in 
March 1286, he left behind him no children and only one grand- 
The Maid child. His own daughter Margaret had been wedded 
of Norway. ^o Eric, king of Nonvay, and died in gi\^ng birth to 
another Margaret, who is kno\vn as the ]Maid of Norway. This 
three-year-old child was recognised as queen, and the government 
of the country was carried on by a commission of six nobles as 
guardians of the realm. But this commission of regency did not 
long succeed in curbing the turbulence of the barons. The party 
of order among the regents were willing enough to have the power 
of the king of England at their backs ; and in 1289 the eminently 
sensible proposal was made that the youthful Maid of Nonvay, 
the queen of Scots, should be betrothed to the still more youthful 
heir-apparent to the English throne, Edward of Carnarvon. 
Thus in due course the crowns would be imited, and the two 
kingdoms amalgamated. The mere anticipation that such a 
scheme was likely to be carried out would give the king of Eng- 
land a direct interest in the maintenance of an orderly govern- 
ment in Scotland, without giving him any direct authority ; and 
the fact would serve as a curb on the turbulence of the nobles. 
The immediate necessities were satisfied by the treaty of Salis- 
bury between England, Scotland, and Norway, and the treaty of 
Brigham between England and Scotland, under which the Httle 
queen was to be sent over to Scotland from Norway without any 
contract of betrothal, but TOth an agreement that if the con- 
templated marriage should ultimately take place the laws and 
customs of Scotland were to be maintained intact. If Margaret 
then died wthout issue the kingdom was to revert to the ' natural 
heirs,' and was to remain ' separate, divided, and without sub- 
jection as it has hitherto been.' 

Unfortunately this peaceful union was prevented by Margaret's 
death on her way from Norway to Scotland in 1290. The suc- 
The throne cession to the crown at once became subject to dis- 
vacant, 1290. p^^g There were no legitimate descendants of 
William the Lion living, and no descendants even of David i. in 

The Scottish Arbitration 277 

direct male line. But William's brother David was represented 
by the descendants of his three daughters^: John Balliol, grand- 
son of the eldest daughter Margaret, Robert Bruce, earl of 
Annandale, son of the second daughter Isabella ; and John 
Hastings, grandson of the third daughter Ada. Besides these 
no less than ten other pretenders put in claims of varying inade- 
quacy : among them John Comyn of Badenoch, as descending 
from Malcolm Canmore's brother Donalbane. BaUiol contended 
that he had the prior claim as representing the eldest branch. 
Bruce claimed priority as being a generation nearer to David of 
Huntingdon. Hastings claimed that the inheritance should be 
divided among the three daughters as co-heiresses ; and there 
was no precedent and no recognised authority to decide between 
these rival claims as concerned the crown of Scotland, though 
each could point to precedents in feudal customs. At the in- 
stance of Bishop Frazer of St. Andrews, one of the regents, the 
decision of the question was referred to the arbitration of the 
king of England ; it is not probable that the bishop invited 
Edward's intervention on his own responsibility. 

Accordingly a few months later Edward was collecting docu- 
mentary information relating to the Scottish question. In April 

he summoned the magnates of both realms to a con- „,. „ ^ 

° The Norhani 

ference at Norham, where he opened the proceedings conference, 


by demanding as a preliminary the recognition of his 
own overlordship, to which Bruce had already pledged himself. 
The Scots expostulated ; but in face of Edward's attitude, and 
the impracticability of resistance, they soon gave way, the 
claimants taking the lead in acknowledging the suzerainty. 
Edward immediately demanded possession of the royal castles, 
which were to be restored when the vacant throne was fiUed ; 
and again the Scots yielded to his demand. Edward then ap- 
pointed a commission to inquire into the claims, three-fourths of 
the comniissioners being Scots, nominated by Bruce or Balhol as 
the principal pretenders. To carry on the government during 
the interim, he reappointed the regents, adding an English baron 
to their number. 

^ See Genealogical Tables, vi. , Scottish Dynasties (l). 

278 Edward I. 

The case was then postponed to the summer of 1292 when the 
court gave its first decision in favour of BaUiol and against Bruce. 
Judgment Although less than a hundred years earlier King 
for Baiiioi, John had succeeded to the throne of England and 

1292 r 1 * 

the dukedom of Normandy as being nearer of km to 
Richard than his elder brother's son, Arthur of Brittany, the rule 
of primogeniture was held to be more authoritative than the rule 
of proximity. Bruce fell back upon Hastings's theory of parti- 
tion among the three daughters ; but this view also was rejected 
at a later sitting, while all the other claims were swept aside, and 
a final declaration was given in favour of Balliol who, as king of 
Scots, swore fealty to Edward as lord paramount, and was then 
duly crowned at Scone. According to promise, Edward made 
over the castles to the new king. 

It requires an effort not usually made to get at anything hke 
a fair view of the conduct of the various parties in these very 
Edward's complicated transactions. To begin with Edward, 
claim. There is no reason to doubt that he had thoroughly 

persuaded himself that the kings of Scotland did legally owe 
fealty to the kings of England. The opportimity presented itself 
for forcing the Scottish magnates to an open recognition of his 
title, without such an actual resort to arms as would have been 
necessary while any strong king occupied the Scottish throne ; 
and Edward took his opportunity. Probably tiU the end of 
time Enghsh historians wiU maintain that the claim was valid, 
and Scottish historians will maintain that it was not. The evi- 
dence either way rests upon dubious statements by partisan re- 
corders, though the Scot has never had an adequate answer given 
to the question, ' What change was made first by the treaty of 
Falaise and then by its abrogation, if, both before the former 
event and after the latter, the Scots king was the vassal of the king 
of England ? ' 

What then of the attitude of the Scottish magnates ? It is 
evident that as a body they admitted Edward's claim, not because 
The Soots they were satisfied of its legal vahdity, but because 
magnates. ^hey saw no practical alternative. After all, Enghsh 
kings had repeatedly claimed the suzerainty, but except during 

The Scottish Arbitration 279 

the period of the treaty of Falaise they had never attempted to 
act upon it. The promises of the treaty of Brigham did not point 
to any intention on Edward's part to interfere with Scottish 
liberties, and even if the worst came to the worst it could be 
argued that the submission was really invalid as having been 
extorted by force. The hypothetical danger was less to be feared 
than the immediate menace of a forcible occupation, for which 
Edward was very obviously quite prepared. Probably the legal- 
minded Edward would be perfectly satisfied by the formal with- 
drawal of technical resistance to his title. 

Such an argument might have satisfied even a purely Scottish 
baronage. But the baronage were by no means purely Scottish. 
Half of them held lordships in England, and were The Scots 
already Edward's vassals. As a personal matter, ^^"^o^^- 
it was of no great consequence to them if he became also their 
supreme overlord in Scotland. As matters stood, they were in- 
volved in the same dilemma as barons of England who were also 
vassals of the duke of Normandy when the duke was not also 
king of England. They might as barons of Scotland have to 
quarrel with the king of England, to whose allegiance as barons 
of England they were bound. It was not therefore surprising 
that a large proportion of them should have accepted the Scottish 
suzerainty of the king of England with equanimity, and even with 
approbation. Their ears were not open to the call of patriotism ; 
they were not Scottish patriots, because they were only half 

As for the commons of Scotland who had no say in the matter 
one way or other, they were presently to display their patriotism 
with decisive effect ; not, however, on account of commons 
an abstract objection to the titular suzerainty of and clergy. 
King Edward, but because that titular suzerainty led up to a 
military occupation which fired them with an inextinguishable 
hate of the Southron. Lastly it is to be remarked that the clergy, 
ever in fear of finding themselves subjected to the supremacy of 
Canterbury or York, were much more careful of Scottish hberties 
than the largely EngUsh lay baronage. They, rather than the 
baronage, were assuredly responsible for the safeguarding clauses 

28o Edward I. 

in the treaty of Brigham. They may have considered that 
Edward was barred by that treaty from any objectionable inter- 
pretation of his rights as suzerain. And when they were dis- 
appointed in that expectation, it was the clergy who most zeal- 
ously devoted themselves to the cause of hberation. 

By the close of the year 1292 Edward had completed his 
achievements as a legislator with the statute Quia Emptores. He 
1292, a tnm- bad absorbed Wales into England, and curbed the 
ing point. turbulence of the marcher barons. He had achieved 
the recognition of his suzerainty over Scotland. His record had 
been one of almost unqualified success. But by the develop- 
ment of his Scottish pohcy he destroyed for three hundred years 
the prospect of a harmonious union of the peoples of Great 
Britain. And if during the last fifteen years of his reign the 
lines of the development of the English constitution were per- 
manently laid down, we owe their form almost as much to his 
defeats as to the reaUsation of his own aims. But no man has 
known better than he how to accept defeat without loss of dignity 
or honour, and so to acknowledge error as to transform censure 
into praise. In spite of the dark blots on his later career, he 
emerges a greater man than if it had ended with the twentieth 
year of his reign. 

IV. Constitutional Crises, axd the Scots Revolt, 

John Balhol became king of Scotland as Edward's vassal in 
November 1292. But troubles were already brewing for the 
Edward king of England apart from the wasp's nest which 

and France, j^g ^^.^g qq ^g point of Stirling up in Scotland. His 
relations with the French king Philip iv. were theoretically 
friendly. With Phihp ni. they had been friendly in actual fact- 
The French Cro\vn had made no effort to disturb Gascony, and 
had without demur conceded the claim of Edward's ynie Eleanor 
of Castile to Ponthieu in the north-east of France. But Philip 
the Fair, a prince of the same type as Philip Augustus, was 
waiting his opportunity to lay hands on the French territories 

Constitutional Crises and the Scots Revolt 281 

of the English king upon any legal pretext which would serve 
his turn. 

An opening was given to him at the beginning of 1293. For 
a century past at least there had been a hot rivalry and anta- 
gonism in the Channel between the Enghsh and the jne breacn, 
Norman seamen. Latterly there had been frequent ^^'^• 
coUisions, acts of violence, and charges and counter-charges of 
piracy. In May a fleet, partly Enghsh and partly Gascon, en- 
countered a Norman fleet off the coast of Brittany. There was 
a regular sea-fight, in which the Normans had the worst of it and 
the English ships came home laden with spoils. As a matter 
of course each side declared that the other was entirely to blame ; 
and at the beginning of 1294 Phihp summoned Edward, as duke 
of Aquitaine, to answer for the proceedings of his Gascon sub- 
jects. The king's brother, Edmund of Lancaster, who was also 
by marriage count of Champagne, went to Paris to act on 
Edward's behalf, and at the same time to arrange his marriage 
with Philip's sister Margaret, as Eleanor of Castile had died in 
1290. It was agreed that pending the marriage Philip was to take 
formal possession of certain castles in Gascony, much as Edward 
had taken possession in Scotland pending the decision as to the 
succession to the Scottish throne'. This was the agreement 
arrived at ; but Philip had hardly got possession of the castles 
when he revived the proceedings in the feudal court against 
Edward, declared the fiefs forfeited, and seized the administra- 
tion of Gascony. 

Treachery so flagrant could have but one result, and Edward 

immediately made preparations for war. He attempted to build 

up a coahtion of European potentates, summoned „ 
^ r r > Preparations 

a parhament in England from which he wrung a for war, 


heavy subsidy, and dispatched an advance force 
to Gascony. The country shared the king's indignation : some 
of the barons strained their private resources to the utmost to 
raise an adequate army, and the king was even suffered to seize 
the wool of the merchants and to exact a heavy pecuniary pay- 
ment as the condition of releasing it. 
Yet the French war was postponed. At this moment there 

282 Edward I. 

was a dangerous rising of the Welsh, headed by Madoc, who 
claimed to be the son of Llewelyn. All Wales was in arms, 

. „ , ^ . though some of the chiefs declared that they were 
A Welsh in- ° 

surrection, rising not against Edward but against illegal oppres- 
1294-1295. ^.^^ ^^ ^^ marchers. Edward had to turn upon 
Wales the forces intended for Gascony, and to procure from the 
reluctant parUament still further suppUes. A fierce and costly 
winter campaign crushed the insurrection, the decisive battlfe being 
fought at Maes Madogin January, when the Welsh were shattered 
by a development of the tactics of Orewyn Bridge. Bodies of 
archers, alternating with squadrons of cavalry, poured their 
volleys into the Welsh ranks, and broke up their Une, so that the 
charge of the cavalry was made irresistible. But even after the 
slaughter of Maes Madog six months passed before Edward felt 
that the embers of rebellion were completely stamped out. And 
in the meanwhile the expeditionary force in Gascony, after some 
preliminary successes, was being decidedly worsted by the French 
king's brother Charles of Valois. Both Edward and Philip 
worked hard at combining coahtions each against the other, but 
neither of the kings got any practical help from his alHes. 

But a new centre of disturbance had already risen in Scotland. 

Edward had not been content with his formal suzerainty ; he 

encouraged the carrying of feudal appeals from 

recalcitrant, Scotland to his own court, for which there was no 


precedent. The Scots had at least been entitled to 
suppose that in acknowledging Edward's suzerainty they were 
not subjecting themselves to any claims such as no king of Eng- 
land had previously made ; since it was Edward's contention 
that he was demanding only the recognition of rights which had 
subsisted even before the Norman Conquest. Practical sub- 
jection to the distant court in England was an intolerable burden. 
King John BaUiol attended the English parliament in 1294, when 
he displayed a remarkable devotion to Edward's cause against 
the French king. When he returned to Scotland the magnates 
practically set him aside, and estabhshed a government by a 
committee of twelve — bishops, earls, and barons — exceedingly 
suggestive of the Provisions of Oxford. The government pro- 

Constitutional Crises and the Scots Revolt 283 

ceeded to expel sundry nobles who were regarded as being too 
friendly to Edward, including Robert Bruce 11., earl of Carrick, 
who had also just succeeded his father, the old claimant, in the 
earldom of Annandale. They explicitly denied the right of 
carrjring appeals to England, and negotiated an _ 

alliance with Edward's enemy, PhiUp of France, scottisiAi- 
whose niece was to be married to Balliol's son ' 

Edward. This was just at the moment when the king had com- 
pleted his pacification of Wales, and the position in Gascony was 
particularly unpromising. Edward responded by demanding 
the surrender of certain border castles, which the Scots govern- 
ment refused. Almost at the same moment the French fleet had 
accomplished a raid upon Dover, and there was some prospect 
that an invasion of England would be attempted. This was the 
crisis which brought about the summoning of the Model Parha- 
ment at the end of 1295. It had become essential that the whole 
nation shordd demonstrate its unity in the face of its gathering 

The year 1295 marks a distinct epoch not only in the consti- 
tutional development of England but in international relations. 
The alliance between Scotland and France, which originated with 
the treaty of this year, lasted for the best part of three centuries ; 
and throughout that period every war between England and 
France was comphcated by it, as well as every difference between 
England and Scotland. French help for Scotland was always a 
possible contingency that had to be faced ; and if England in- 
vaded France she had to be always on guard against a Scottish 
invasion, and might on occasion find Scottish troops playing a 
very formidable part in the armies of France. 

The composition of English parliaments had hitherto been 
irregular. The permanent elements had been the magnates lay 
and clerical, the greater barons and the prelates, rph m d 1 
Occasionally representative knights of the shire Paruament, 
had been summoned, and representative burgesses 
for the first time in 1265. In Edward's reign there had been 
assemblies at which knights of the shire, burgesses, and nomin- 
ated representatives of the minor clergy, had been present ; on 

284 Edward I. 

other occasions there must have been knights of the shire, but 
not apparently burgesses. In short, from 1275 to 1291 the great 
statutes had been passed by parhaments without any recognition 
of the principle that the presence of any one but magnates was 
essential. But the parhament now summoned in 1295 became 
the permanent model, although there were occasional deflections 
from it, and in one respect a material change took place in its 
form. An old legal formula—' what touches all should be ap- 
proved by aU ' — was enunciated in the writ of summons, and 
accordingly there were called to it the barons and prelates, two 
elected knights from each shire, two elected burgesses from each 
borough, archdeacons and deans and representatives of the 
parochial clergy and the clergy of the cathedrals, as well as pre- 
lates. The purpose of the assembly was the provision of money ; 
each of the three estates, the clergy, the baronage, and the 
commons, deUberated independently, and fixed their own contri- 
butions. At this time, however, it would seem that the knights 
of the shire were associated with the barons, for their grant was 
an eleventh, while that of the boroughs was a seventh. The 
clergy could not be persuaded to contribute more than a tenth. 
The subsequent change referred to above was the separation of 
the clergy from parliament, with the exception of the prelates, 
which is accounted for by their position as tenants of the Crown. 
The clergy preferred to make their grants in their separate as- 
semblies — the convocations of the two ecclesiastical provinces. 
Another alteration of form, not of structure, took place when in 
1333 the knights finally associated themselves with the borough 
representatives as a deUberative chamber separate from the 
hereditary baronage. 

One other salient feature in this memorable year has to be 
noted. The vigorous but unsuccessful effort of France to 
A naval organise an invasion seems to have brought about 

movement. t^^ ^^1^ creation of the beginnings of a French royal 
navy, and in England a great advance in the oiganisation of 
naval coast defence. Edward had an intelligent conception also 
of the uses of a fleet acting in support of land forces ; and 
both before this in the French war and afterwards in the 

Constitutional Crises and the Scots Revolt 285 

Scottish wars he made judicious use of naval co-operation in his 
land campaigns. 

Leaving his brother Edmund to the conduct of the coming 
campaign in Gascony, Edward turned liis own attention to 
Scotland. For in consequence of the proceedings 
of the Scottish government he had summoned the invades 
king to appear before him, just as two years earlier Scotland, 
he had himself been summoned to appear before the 
king of France. Balliol ignored the summons, and Edward had 
determined on the forfeiture of his recalcitrant vassal's kingdom. 
Berwick surrendered without any prolonged resistance. Balliol 
renounced his homage, but a month afterwards Dunbar was 
captured. Edinburgh, Stirling, and Perth followed suit before 
midsummer. Then BaUiol made his own submission. Edward 
continued his unresisted progress through the east of Scotland to 
Aberdeen and Elgin, and then back to Berwick, bringing with 
him the Scottish coronation stone which tradition had identified 
as that on which the patriarch Jacob had reposed his head at 

Balliol, now a prisoner, had forfeited his crown by rebellion 
against his overlord, at least on Edward's hypothesis that Scot- 
land was simply a fief of the EngUsh Crown. Ed- ^^^ 
ward had no intention of putting a new king in his crown 
place ; he meant to keep to himself the fief which had 
lapsed by forfeiture. Prudent Scots made haste to tender their 
allegiance : the names of some two thousand persons of position 
were entered in the record known as the Ragman RoU. Among 
them are those of Robert Bruce, now restored to the earldom of 
Annandale, which had been handed over to Comyn of Buchan, 
and of his son, the future king. The name of William Wallace, 
however, may be searched for in vain ; the national hero never 
bowed the knee to the English usurper. Apparently Edward 
anticipated no resistance to his government, which was settled 
at a parhament of the magnates of both countries. Earl Warenne 
was left behind as the king's lieutenant, with Hugh Cressingham 
as treasurer, and William Ormesby as chief justice. 

In November Edward was holding another English parhament 

286 Edward I. 

in the south to obtain supplies for a vigorous prosecution of the 

French war which had been making no better progress than 

before in Gasconv. The kiner's brother Edmund 
An opposl- ■' ° 

tion in was dead and the command had devolved upon the 

"^^ ^" ■ earl of Lincoln. But disappointment was in store. 

The laity were Uberal enough with their grants ; but to the 
king's extreme wrath the clergy entirely refused to contribute ; 
and some three months later Edward found himself faced by the 
opposition of a section of the baronage, and also by a growing 
tide of popular feeling. 

The clergy were led by the recently appointed Archbishop 
Winchelsea, Peckham's successor at Canterbury. Like so many 
. ^^. ^ of his predecessors, Winchelsea became the cham- 
Winchelsea, pion of clerical rights against the secular authority 


when he became archbishop. He had hardly re- 
ceived the pallium when the most aggressive of all popes, Boni- 
face viii., ascended the papal throne. In 1295 it was Winchelsea 
who led the clergy in refusing for the purpose of the war a larger 
grant than one tenth. Early in 1296 Boniface issued the bull 
known as Clerids Laicos, of which the pious intention was to 
prevent the wealth of the Church from being used to further wars 
between Christian princes. Boniface forbade all secular authori- 
ties to demand, and all clerical authorities to pay, any exactions 
without first asking and obtaining the papal sanction, on pain of 
excommunication. On that bull Winchelsea now took his stand. 
The clergy as patriots were willing to aid the king generously, 
but the papal decree must be obeyed, and no contribution must 
be made until the Pope's leave had been obtained. Such was 
the final decision of the clergy announced in January 1297. The 
king's hot temper was under less control than while his wise 
wife Eleanor was still hving. He blazed into fiery wrath. The 
clergy should pay not a tenth but a fifth ; if not they would be 
placed outside the law, outside the protection of the officers of the 
law ; and outlawed accordingly they were save the very few who 
made private submission. 

The clerical defiance, the claim, intolerable from the point of 
view of the State, that obedience to the Pope overrides obedience 

Constitutional Crises and the Scots Revolt 287 

to the State, the sentence of excommunication pronounced in 
accordance with the papal bull, had roused the king's passions. 
He was in a fever to push forward his plans in France. Already 
in his need of suppUes he was seizing the wool and hides which 
awaited export, or exacting a very heavy toll called a maletolt, for 
not seizing it ; and his officers were requisitioning food suppHes on 
all hands. He called an assembly of the barons to explain his 
plan of campaign. He would take an army to 
Flanders to co-operate with the count on the north- and Norfolk, 


east of France; another army was to operate in 
Gascony, under the leadership of the marshal Bigod, earl of 
Norfolk, and the constable De Bohun, earl of Hereford. But 
Hereford's hour had come. He had not forgotten his defeat in 
1290. Hereford and Norfolk flatly refused to go to Gascony. 
They would, as in duty bound, accompany the king to Flanders ; 
but to Gascony without the king they were not bound to go, and 
go they would not. ' By God, sir earl,' the furious king broke 
out to Norfolk, ' thou shalt either go or hang.' ' By God, sir 
king,' rephed the earl, ' I will neither go nor hang.' The law 
was on the side of the earls, and their musters were not to be 
despised, especially as the popular clamours against the illegal 
royal exactions were waxing loud and angry. 

Angry as he was, Edward saw that he had blundered : he had 
broken away from his guiding principle of keeping within the 
letter of the law. He had put himself in the wrong : Retrieving 
he was wise enough to see that he must put himself ^'^^ position, 
in the right, if he could do so without loss of dignity, and that he 
must do something more if he was to recover his full strength. 
Boniface, who found himself in danger of defiance from the kings 
of both France and England, pointed the way to a reconciliation 
with the clergy by a bull relaxing the stringency of the Clericis 
Laicos. Edward relaxed the stringency of his proceedings 
against the churchmen. Winchelsea saw that he, too, had gone 
too far : he authorised the clergy to pay, or not to pay, as each 
man's own conscience bade him, though he would pay nothing 
himself. The bulk of the clergy were prompt in acceding 
to the king's demands. The popular resentment was pacified 

288 Edward I. 

when the king's officers were ordered to pay for the goods 
they had requisitioned ; the merchants were pacified by the 
promise that the wool and the hides should presently be paid 
for. The claim for service beyond sea was regulated by the 
announcement that the foreign levies were to be on the footing 
of paid volunteers serving out of goodwill and without legal 

As matters stood the larger enterprise of a twofold campaign 

could not be carried out, and Edward had to content himself with 

carrjnng his army to Flanders. By August a power- 

to Flanders ful force was assembled, though Norfolk and Here- 

ugus ). {qx^^ having the tables turned on them, chose to 
resign their of&ces rather than go. The king appointed a council 
of regency, with the boy Edward as nominal regent. Even at 
the last moment the recalcitrant earls came forward with a 
demand for the confirmation of the charters, which Edward 
refused as untimely. He took his departure to Flanders, although 
the earls were already threatening to stay forcibly the collection 
of supplies until the charters should be confirmed. 

The determination to push forward the war, and the absorbing 
character of the struggle with the opposition which he had raised, 
The Soots prevented Edward from realising that affairs were 
revolt, May. taking a serious turn in Scotland. Warenne had 
been left there presumably on the hypothesis that the task of 
governing tlie country would present no serious difficulties ; for 
he was a man of naturally small capacity and had grown inert 
with age. The more active, but equally incompetent, Cressing- 
ham and Ormesby were tyrannical self-seekers ; the English 
soldiery who had been left as garrisons took their tone from their 
chiefs and played the tjnrant as if they were in a conquered 
country. Numbers who had refused allegiance took to the hills 
and moss-hags as outlaws. Among them an ascendency was soon 
achieved by the hero of many legends and myths, WiUiam 
Wallace. In the north a similar r61e to that of Wallace was 
being played by Andrew Murray. By May the popular revolt 
was general, though hitherto none of the nobles had taken the 
lead. But now Sir WiUiam Douglas, one of the southern mag- 

Constitutional Crises and the Scots Revolt 289 

nates, joined Wallace, and young Robert Bruce of Carrick began 
plajdng for his own hand on the side of the insurgents. 

Edward meanwhile was preparing to carry off to Flanders some 
of the Scots nobles who had taken part in the resistance to him 
before John Balhol's deposition. When Chfford and Percy were 
sent from the north of England to help the king's Heutenants in 
deahng with the insurrection, the magnates made a show of re- 
pentance ; and when Edward left England for Flanders he was 
stiU under the impression that order would very soon be restored. 

He was mistaken ; for Wallace was still in arms ; and though 
the magnates would not openly support him, or place themselves 
under the leadership of a mere knight, they gave 

Waiil3,CG 3>u 

no efincient aid to the government. At last Warenne Stirling 

began to move against the outlawed captain, who ^"^^^', 

Scpti lit 

drew his forces together at Cambuskenneth com- 
manding the Stirhng bridge over the Forth. His strength lay 
entirely in his foot soldiery, spearmen for the most part ; the 
horse who were still with him were only a few score. Warenne 
arrived at Stirling Bridge, which his men-at-arms could cross 
only two abreast ; yet with amazing folly he began to dispatch 
his army across the river. When enough of them were over, 
Wallace feU upon them, seized the bridge-head, and cut them in 
pieces. A panic seized the troops who had not crossed; the 
Scots contingents who were with them turned against them, 
and there was a wild flight and slaughter. Warenne escaped to 
Berwick ; the hated Cressingham was caught and killed ; the 
story runs that the dead body was flayed, and Wallace, according 
to an English tradition, made from the skin a scabbard for his 
sword. But the stories of Wallace vary between attributing to 
him exceptional ferocity and exceptional magnanimity. At any 
rate the effect of the victory was that Wallace was proclaimed 
Custos Regni, guardian of the kingdom in the name of King John ; 
the Enghsh were swept out of the country, and Wallace began to 
raid into the north of England. 

These events took place in September. The regency in Eng- 
land awoke to the danger of the situation. A parhament was 
called ; but Norfolk and Hereford took full advantage of their 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. T 

290 Edward I. 

position. There should be neither men nor money for the Scots 
war till the charters were confirmed, and to that demand they 
conflrmatio ^^^'^^ ^ petition against the taking henceforth of any 
cartarum, tallage or aid without the consent of parUament. 
A later age attributed to this petition, Be Tallagio 
non Concedendo, the force of a statute. But in fact it was not 
adopted in that form. What the regents did was to issue a con- 
firmation of the Great Charter and the Forest Charter, with the 
addition of clauses forbidding the levying not of tallages but of 
maletoUs and aids such as had been recently exacted without 
the consent of parliament. Substantial contributions were 
thereupon voted, and a commission obtained from the king in 
Flanders a formal ratification of the regency's action. We may 
suppose that Norfolk and Hereford were moved by a vengeful 
desire to humiliate the king rather than by patriotism or fore- 
sight, quahties of which they never made any display. But this 
Confirmatio Cartarum did in fact decisively reaffirm and definitely 
extend the limitations on the power of the Crown and the au- 
thority of the council of the estates of the realm which had been 
laid down at Runnymede. And specifically it assured to the 
parliament a control over pohcy by the prohibition of novel 
methods of raising revenue without the assent of the estates ; 
which could be refused if they disapproved the purposes for which 
the money was wanted, or which could be made conditional upon 
the remedying of grievances. 

V. Malleus Scotorum 

Edward's expedition to Flanders had enabled the opposition 
barons to win a constitutional victory ; it had allowed the Scottish 
Truce witu insurrection to assume dangerous proportions ; and 
France. j^ t^^^ brought with it no practical gains. The delay 

in its departure had given Phihp the opportunity for bringing 
up large forces to Flanders, and the EngHsh army when it arrived 
was by no means of the strength that the Flemings had antici- 
pated. Edward had aUied himself with the count, but the 
burghers were very nearly as ready to fight against their count 

Malleus Scotorum 291 

as against the French. The miUtary operations soon proved 
futile, since neither the king of England nor the king of France 
had ventured to bring his adversary to a decisive engagement. 
A brief truce was already in operation at the moment when 
Edward ratified the Confirmatio Cartarum. At the end of the 
following January 1298, the truce was extended for two years ; and 
the two kings agreed to refer their quarrel to the arbitration 
of Pope Boniface, not as pope but as a private individual. 
Edward, without waiting for the award, made haste back to 
England, determined to vent his wrath upon Scotland. The 
regency had gathered a large army, before which the raiders from 
over the border fell back, but Edward forbade any extensive 
campaign until his return. 

By midsummer Edward had concentrated a strong force at 
Roxburgh, one of the two fortresses of which the English remained 
in possession. The Scots lords, though they did not ^^^ Paikiris 
openly join Wallace, ignored the Enghsh king's campaign, 
summons to a parhament held at York as a pre- 
liminary to the invasion. Norfolk and Hereford demanded, before 
they would march, that the king should renew on Enghsh soil the 
Confirmation of the Charters, which he had ratified at Ghent ; 
but they were satisfied with a pledge from leading loyalist mag- 
nates that the demand should be compUed with later. Edward 
began his advance, but found the country cleared of provender ; 
and the lack of supphes had almost driven him to decide upon a 
retreat when he learnt that Wallace's army was a few miles off 
at Falkirk. The king had, in fact, taken the precaution of pre- 
paring a provision fleet, but it was weatherbound at Berwick. 
With the prospect, however, of an immediate decisive battle 
Edward advanced to Falkirk, Wallace had his spearmen ranged 
in the sohd masses called ' schiltrons,' with bodies of archers 
between them ; but all the cavalry he had with him left the field 
at the first sign of an encounter. The masses of the Enghsh men- 
at-arms turned the Scottish flanks and cut the archers to pieces, 
but hurled themselves in vain against the spears. Edward, how- 
ever, brought up his own archery ; there were no Scottish horse to 
fall upon them ; the storm of English arrows opened great gaps 

292 Edward I. 

in the ranks of the spearmen into which the English chivalry- 
charged ; and, in spite of fierce resistance, the battle became a 
mere slaughter. Vast numbers of the Scots were left dead on 
the field, though Wallace himself made his escape. 

It is probable that young Bruce was with Edward's army in 
the battle, and laid to heart the lesson by which he was to profit 
After at Bannockburn sixteen years afterwards. This, 

Faisirk, however, is by no means certain ; for apparently he 

was in arms in his own country next month against Edward. 
But, in fact, after Falkirk, the victor did practically nothing to 
establish his authority, but was forced back to England, since 
his levies were refusing to prolong their service. His efforts to 
draw an effective fighting force to his standard were in vain. It 
was not till 1300 that he was again able to lead an army into 
Scotland. The battle of Falkirk did not effect a reconquest. It 
did indeed cause Wallace to resign his position as Custos Regni ; 
when probably he betook himself to France in the vain hope of 
procuring effective assistance from Philip the Fair. But with 
Wallace out of the way the nobles were comparatively ready to 
come forward. There was a ' band ' between Bruce, Comyn of 
Badenoch, and Bishop Lamberton of St. Andrews, who assumed 
some sort of regency. 

For nearly two years Edward was kept in the south by 
quarrels which at last were sufficiently composed to enable him 
Campaigning to march north in 1300. But this campaign was 
renewed. ygj-y ineffective. It was terminated by a truce to 
the following summer. Again in the winter of 1301 another 
campaign was attempted with equally small success. The Scots 
would not meet Edward in the field, but they cleared the country 
of provisions, and Edward got nothing for his pains. Then there 
was another truce and no more fighting till 1303. Bruce, for 
whatever reason, had by this time returned to the English allegi- 
ance, perhaps from jealousy of Comyn. In 1303 Edward again 
overran Scotland, where he passed the winter ; the Scots pursuing 
their former tactics, avoiding battle, and leaving the.EngUsh very 
httle anywhere to pillage. Soon after the beginning of 1304, 
however, most of the Scots nobles seem to have got tired of the 

Malleus Scotorum 293 

contest, and made their peace with Edward individually on fairly 
easy terms. Stirling Castle held out stubbornly for some time, 
but was reduced to surrender soon after midsummer, after which 
Edward once more returned home under the impression that the 
subjection of the country was complete. Wallace, who had re- 
mained in a subordinate position, though always 
taking an active part in hostiUties, remained an out- of Wallace, 
law outside the king's peace, and kept the iiame of 
insurrection smouldering ; but in 1305 he was betrayed to the 
English, carried captive to London, and condemned to the igno- 
minious death of a traitor — the political equivalent of a martyr's 
crown. Out of the tangle of legends gathered about the great 
champion of liberty it is not easy to extract much assured truth ; 
but this at least is certain, that from first to last he was the one 
man who in season and out of season never relaxed his efforts 
to drive the alien out of the country, never dreamed of submis- 
sion, never deserted the cause. And therefore his memory is 
to Scotsmen dearer even than that of the king who actually 
obtained for Scotland the freedom for which Wallace seemed 
to have died in vain. 

A few weeks after the death of Wallace, the plan for the govern- 
ment of Scotland was promulgated — the product of the delibera- 
tions of a committee, of whom twenty were English a soueme of 
and ten were Scots. There was to be a lieutenant, government, 
the king's nephew, John of Brittany, with some high officers. The 
Celtic custom of the Highlands and of Galloway was to disappear ; 
otherwise the law of Scotland was to be maintained, with amend- 
ments not specified. Sheriffs, usually Scots, were appointed to 
the shires ; troublesome persons were to be deported to a safe 
distance in England. Robert Bruce and Bishop Wishart of 
Glasgow were two of the magnates upon whose advice the scheme 
was drawn up, and by whose action it was very shortly to be 
wiped out. 

The seven years between Falkirk and the settlement, from 
1298 to 1305, had been trying years for the king. When Edward, 
still anxious to prosecute the Scots war from which he had been 
obliged to desist by the defection of his levies, called a parlia- 

294 Edward I. 

ment in the early spring of 1299, Norfolk and Hereford \\ere again 
to the fore with their demand for the confirmation of the charters, 
promised at the outset of the Falkirk campaign. Edward's 
attempts at evasion are somewhat incomprehensible ; the barons 
were thoroughly determined to carrj' their point, and the king was 
obhged to give way, having succeeded only in intensifying tlie 
ill-feeling which already subsisted. In the summer the treaty of 
A French Montreuil with France was negotiated on the basis 
treaty, 1299. gf ^j^g award \^'hich Boniface had given twelve 
months before. King Edward was at last to marry Philip's 
sister Margaret, and Edward of Carnarvon wzs, to be be- 
trothed to his daughter Isabella. Each of the kings threw 
over his aUies, but Phihp did not relax his hold upon Gascony. 
Still the formal reconciliation prevented Philip from lending an 
ear to Wallace, who probably visited France at this time. In 
1300 Edward's old enemy, Humphrey de Bohun of Hereford, was 
dead, but stiU it was the baronial opposition which forced the 
king to accept the additional clauses called Articuli super cartas, 
largely directed against infringements of the charters, and 
especially enforcing the ' perambulation ' of the forests — an in- 
quiry, that is, into the encroachments whereby the royal forests 
had been unduly extended. In return the grant was made which 
enabled Edward to conduct his ineffective campaign later in the 
year ; yet in January 1301, when the same parliament was re- 
assembled to consider the report on the forests, he again found 
himself presented with a list of grievances for which he was forced 
to promise remedy. 

But on one point Edward achieved a marked victory. Pope 
Boniface had issued a bull, to which Wallace may possibly have 
A clerical had something to say, forbidding Edward to attack 
defeat, 1301. Scotland, on the ground that Scotland was a papal 
fief. Winchelsea had laid that bull before him in the previous 
year, and was disposed to support the Pope's claims. Edward 
now brought the matter before pariiament ; whereupon the barons 
with a gratifying unanimity, and in very emphatic language, 
informed Boniface that the king of England entirely declined 
to submit his conduct of temporal affairs to any external 

Malleus Scotorttm 295 

authority whatsoever, and that if he ever did think of doing so, 
they, the barons, would by no means permit it. Boniface and 
Winchelsea between them had unwittingly effected the reconciUa- 
tion of the king and the baronage, between whom there was no 
more overt antagonism. Also Winchelsea's action broke up the 
aUiance of the baronial with the clerical opposition ; and from 
this time Winchelsea's own power was completely lost. 

In other ways, too, the Idng's hands were now being strength- 
ened. The young Gilbert of Gloucester was his own grandson ; 

the old troublesome Gilbert had died some time 

The kitiEc's 
before the crisis of 1297. The rich earldom of hands 

Cornwall had been added to the royal estates by the strength- 

^ ■' ened. 

death of the king's cousin Edmund without heirs. 

The young earl of Hereford was married to another of the king's 

daughters on much the same terms as Gilbert of Gloucester ; and 

in 1302 Norfolk himself, who had no heir of his body and did not 

wish his brother to succeed him, surrendered his estates to the 

Cro^vn and received them back in tail, which in the circumstances 

meant that when he died they would go to the Crown. For a 

time then, from 1302, fortune favoured King Edward. Phihp 

of France was in difficulties. The Flemish burghers, though 

they had supported their own coant very half-heartedly against 

him, revolted against French tyranny when Philip got the upper 

hand ; and for the first time, at Courtrai in this year, their massed 

infantry utterly routed the chivalry of France. Also he was 

engaged in that bitter struggle with Pope Boniface, which was 

to end in the victory of the king, but for the time 

being hampered his action. Consequently in 1303, the Avignon 

Philip accepted a treaty with Edward, restoring 

Gascony to him. Then Boniface died, and after an interval the 

Gascon archbishop of Bordeaux became Pope Clement iv. 

Clement, who initiated the residence of the popes at Avignon, 

reversed the papal policy, and was a very good friend of Edward 

as well as of Philip. Edward extracted from him the annulment 

of the various promises which had been extorted by parhament 

from the Crown from 1297, though he made no actual use of this 

release, except in respect of the forest charter. He may have 

296 Edward I. 

intended to go further, but the renewal of troubles in Scotland in 
1306 demanded the whole of his attention. 

On 25th March 1306 Robert Bruce was crowned king of Scot- 
land at Scone, by Bishops Wishart of Glasgow and Lamberton of 

„ ^ , St. Andrews, the former of whom took and broke 
Rotiert 1 1 T 

Bruce's the oath of allegiance to Edward six times, while the 

revolt, 1306. j^^^^^ ^^ ^j^.^ particular period was supposed to be 

high in the confidence of the English king. The Scottish bishops 
perjured themselves in the cause of national freedom with 
apparently untroubled consciences. The various versions of the 
beginnings of Bruce's rebelUon are hopelessly irreconcilable in 
their details. It is tolerably evident that Brace and Lamberton 
were in some sort of league. It is also certain that Bruce sought 
a conference with John Comyn of Badenoch, the ' Red Comyn ' ; 
that they met in the Franciscan church at Dumfries ; that there 
The murder was an angry quarrel, and that Com3m was stabbed 
of Comyn. ^,y B^ice and slain before the high altar. Comyn 
had with more consistency than any of the great nobles taken 
the patriotic part ; his mother was John Balliol's sister, and his 
father had been one of the numerous claimants for the Scottish 
throne, on the score of descent from Donalbane, the brother of 
Malcolm Canmore. After the BalUols themselves, the Red 
Comjni reaUy had a better claim than Brace himself to the 
Scottish throne. The Bruce tradition says that Bruce killed 
Comyn because he found that Comyn had betrayed, or intended 
to betray, him to Edward ; Bruce having proposed that they 
should act in concert in claiming the throne for one or the other, 
the one who was made king handing over his lordships to the 
other. On the other hand, Comyn was obviously the only actual 
rival who stood in the way of Bruce's ambition ; and Bruce had 
hitherto been completely unscrupulous. But the outstanding 
fact was that the murder of Comyn left Bruce no alternative. 
There was no possibility of forgiveness for a sacrilegious murder, 
which was certainly associated with a design of rebelUon against 
Edward. The only course was the desperate one of fighting as 
the champion of Scottish independence. Bruce's crime trans- 
formed him from a vacillating and violent self-seeker into a hero 

Malleus Scotorum 297 

— ^prudent, daring, and resolute, a consummate leader, a mirror 
of chivalrous knighthood. 

By the coronation at Scone the gage of battle was flung down ; 
and the flame of insurrection spread. But the murder of Comyn 
spUt what might have been the patriotic party by Death of 
driving the whole of the Comyn connection into fierce ^^'wa^rd, 1307. 
hostihty to the new king. Three months after the coronation 
Bruce was routed by an Enghsh force at Methven. The bishops, 
two of Bruce's brothers, his wife and his daughter, were captured, 
and he himself became a hunted fugitive. In the mnter he was 
lying in hiding in the island of Rathlin, off the Irish coast. But 
the fire he had Idndled was not to be quenched till Scotland was 
free. In the spring he was back in his earldom of Carrick, and 
the insurgents who gathered to his banners were striking fierce 
blows against the Enghsh forces. Edward had sworn that there 
should be no more mercy, that Scotland should be brought under 
his heel. His own health had su(Jdenly broken down ; yet wth 
unflagging energy he assembled great levies in the north of 
England, to crush utterly once for all the sacrilegious and now 
excommunicated traitor who had defied him. Early in July the 
great army was on the march, close on the border ; but already 
the grip of death was closing upon the great king. On 7th July 
he expired at Burgh-on-Sands, leaving to his son the command 
that his bones should be carried at the head of his army until all 
Scotland should be utterly subdued. The injunction was not 
obeyed. His bones were carried back to Westminster and laid 
in the tomb, on which were inscribed the words 'Malleus Scotorum ' 
— the hammer of the Scots. As for the subjugation of Scotland, 
Edward of Carnarvon was not the man to carry out the task on 
which his father had failed. 

OF EDWARD III., 1307-1330 

When Edward i. died, the great expedition which was to stamp 
out Scottish rebellion once for all was turned into a wholly in- 
Progreaa effective military demonstration and nothing more, 

of Bruce, jYie king's cousin, Aymer de Valence, earl of Pem- 

broke, was left in charge of affairs in Scotland ; his other cousin, 
John of Brittany or Richmond, had never actually taken up the 
office of lieutenant. The great levies dispersed. King Robert 
and his brother Edward, Lord James Douglas, and a steadily 
increasing following of barons and knights, waged a merciless 
guerilla war upon the EngUsh garrisons in the south, varied by 
incursions upon the hostile Comyn kindred in the north. Fortress 
after fortress was surprised, and when captured was dismantled ; 
the patriots had not troops to spare for garrisons. Every success 
brought in fresh adherents ; every effort to hunt down the in- 
surgents was foiled. Before long the question was not whether 
the Enghsh would be able to crush the patriots, but whether they 
would themselves be wiped out of Scotland. And meanwhile 
the king and the barons of England paid no heed, having more 
pressing personal matters on their hands. 

It has been previously noted that the French kings of the four- 
teenth century turned to the dangerous poUcy of creating a 
The English powerful territorial nobihty of the blood royal, with 
barons. ^]^g intention of strengthening the power of the 

Crown. Edward i. of England had set the example, not reahsing 
that he was creating a new danger — ^nearness to the Crown did 
not entail loyalty. In the reign of Edward 11. personal rivalries, 
jealousies, intrigues, and hostilities, controlled the course of public 


Edward II. 299 

events far more than any considerations of public policy ; and 
half the men who were responsible were of the blood royal, or con- 
nected with it hy marriage. The most powerful magnate in the 
country was Thomas of Lancaster, the king's cousin-german, who 
had inherited, or by his marriage with the heiress of Lincoln was 
to inherit, no less than five earldoms. The earl of Pembroke was 
the son of Henry iii.'s half-brother, William of Valence. The earl 
of Gloucester, as yet only a lad of sixteen, was the king's sister's 
son ; the earl of Hereford was the king's sister's husband. Earl 
Warenne was the husband of the king's niece. But of them all 
only Gloucester and Pembroke were ever influenced by any senti- 
ment of loyalty to their kinsman. A baronage which had been 
dominated by the wiU of a great ruler, who was also a great 
statesman, nevertheless adhered to the conviction of their grand- 
fathers, that the government of the country ought to be in their 
own hands ; and they soon determined to give that conviction 
effect when the throne was occupied by a king who displayed in 
a violently exaggerated degree every defect in the character of 
Henry iii. The unfailing folly of Edward 11. saved the country 
from a real danger ; a strong and- unscrupulous king, following 
the old Edward, would have made the Crown completely despotic. 
The selfishness and the shortsightedness of the barons saved it 
from another danger — fhe establishment of an oligarchical baron- 
age. The liberties which had taken root during the last reign 
were not destroyed ; but a nation which owes its liberties not 
to the wisdom but to the folly of its rulers, must pay a heavy 

Edward lost no time in emphasising his own unlikeness to his 
father. His favourite comrade. Piers Gaveston, a young Gascon 
knight, was at once recalled from the banishment Gaveston. 
into which the old king had sent him in order that the heir ap- 
parent might be renioved from his disastrous influence. Honours 
and lands were heaped upon the favourite, who received the great 
earldom of Cornwall, of which the Crown had retained possession 
since its escheat upon Edmund of Cornwall's death, and he was 
married to the king's niece, the young earl of Gloucester's sister. 
The Scots campaign was completely abandoned. The ministers 

300 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III 

and judges, on whom Edward i. had relied in his latter years, were 
dismissed to make room for royal favourites. Winchelsea, who 
had at last been driven into banishment, was invited to return. 
The barons may well have anticipated a revival of the era of the 
Poitevins and Savoyards ; but for the time their irritation was 
restrained by the old earl of Lincoln, the surviving representative 
of the loyal associates of the old king among the baronage. The 
disgust was increased when Edward, on his departure to marry 
his young French bride Isabella, left Gaveston behind as regent ; 
and again on his return when the nobility were insulted by the 
king's pubhc display of his devotion to his favourite. Gaveston, 
accomplished and witty, instead of seeking to conciliate hostility, 
chose to amuse himself by levelling gibes and insults at the men 
from whose enmity he had most to fear. Even Lincoln was 
driven into opposition ; and nine months after Edward's 
Gaveston accession, a parliament of magnates demanded 
banished, Gaveston's immediate banishment, in terms which 


implied very clearly that they were ready to en- 
force the demand in arms. It was obviously impossible 
for the king to resist, and Gaveston was sent to Ireland as 

Edward's one desire was to procure Gaveston's recall. He 
strove hard to win over some of the barons, but meanwhile 
government was practically in abeyance. Twelve months after 
the parliament of magnates, a full parhament met in April 1309. 
Some supplies were granted, but with the accompaniment of a 
list of grievances and complaints against the king's officers ; and 
the king's entreaty for a reversal of Gaveston's banishment was 
flatly refused. Nevertheless, aided by the moderating influence 
of Lincoln, Edward succeeded in so far moUifying several of 
Gaveston re- the barons that he presently on his own responsi- 
caiied, 1309. ijjji^y ventured to recall the faVourite. Gaveston 
fancied that his recall was a victory, and acted accordingly ; but 
it had been at the best no more than a dubious concession. The 
rising resentment of the earls was already manifesting itself before 
the end of the year. In March 1310 the magnates assembled ; 
and they came in arms. Of the ten earls none were friendly to 

Edward II. 301 

Gaveston, and only three were really friendly to the king — Lin- 
coln, Gloucester, and Richmond (John of Brittany). Two — 
Warenne and Oxford — -did not attend. The assembly followed 
the precedent of the Mad ParHament ; after presenting a long list 
of grievances, it demanded that the remedying of them should 
be placed in the hands of the baronage. Before this unanimous 
demand Edward was helpless. He surrendered the royal 
authority for eighteen months to a commission appointed on 
the lines of the Provisions of Oxford ; the twenty-one Lords 
Ordainers, as they were called, included the eight earls who were 
present, seven bishops headed by Winchelsea, and Th l d 
six barons. The Ordainers were to take immediate Ordainers, 
administrative action, and were further to prepare 
measures for the reformation of the realm, to take effect at the 
end of their period of office. The Commons had no voice in 
the matter at all. Before the time ran out, the death of 
Lincoln not only deprived the king of his best supporter, but 
increased the power of Lancaster, to whom, as Lincoln's son- 
in-law, the earldoms of Lincoln and Sahsbury passed, in addi- 
tion to the three — Lancaster, Leicester, and Derby — which he 
already possessed. 

While the Ordainers were at work preparing in the first place 
preliminary ordinances which they issued in August, and then 
the great body of ordinances which were brought forward twelve 
months later, Edward was ostensibly engaged in attempting the 
reconquest of Scotland. None of the earls joined him except 
Gloucester and Warenne, and nothing was accomplished. Bruce 
refused battle, and contented himself with cutting off suppHes 
and harassing communications. 

In August 1311 a full parliament was summoned to consider 
the ordinances which were issued in their final form in October. 
To a great extent the ordinances were reaffirmations Tte ditin- 
of principles theoretically recognised, denunciations anoesofisii. 
of practices in breach of the law. The ' new customs ' which 
Edward had procured by agreement with foreign merchants were 
to be aboUshed ; the ahen bankers were to be ejected. Practi- 
cally the ordinances were of no constitutional value ; their 

302 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

primary interest for the moment lay in the penal clauses directed 
against Gaveston and other royal favourites, and their most per- 
manent interest in the arrangements made for limiting the royal 
power through its control not by the estates in general but by the 
baronage. The king was not to go to war, to levy forces, or to 
leave the realm without consent of the baronage ; the baronage 
were in effect to appoint or control the appointment of aU the 
chief officers of state in England, Ireland, and Gascony. Gaves- 
ton and other Gascons were to be banished without hope of 
recall from all the realms under the lordship of the king of 

Gaveston went in November ; but in January of the next year, 
1312, he was back again in the north of England in the king's 

company. In effect the king had Simply defied the 
Gaveston, Ordainers, and the Ordainers were prompt to take 

up the challenge. Lancaster, Pembroke, Hereford, 
Arundel, Warwick, and Warenne acted together ; Gloucester 
took a somewhat less aggressive part. The northern barons, 
Clifford and Percy, watched the border. Edward and Gaveston 
failed to raise an army, and the favourite shut himself up in 
Scarborough, where he surrendered to Pembroke, Warenne, and 
Percy after a brief siege. The three pledged themselves that 
Gaveston should suffer no injury till parliament had settled his 
fate ; and if the parliamentary settlement was unsatisfactory he 
was to go back to Scarborough. But on the way soutli Gaveston 
was kidnapped by Guy of Warwick and carried off to Warwick 
Castle. Pembroke, who was in personal charge of the prisoner, 
was absent at the time. Warwick was acting in collusion with 
Lancaster, Arundel, and Hereford. They resolved upon Gaves- 
ton's death, regardless of the pledges of Pembroke and Warenne, 
by which they were in honour bound. The unfortunate Gaveston 
was carried to Blacklow Hill and was there slain. The responsi- 
bihty for the murder lay most directly upon Lancaster. But 
from that hour Pembroke and Warenne, whose plighted word 
had been disregarded, were Lancaster's enemies. 

But though the once solid party of the earls was spht, neither 
side was anxious to fight. The birth of a son and heir to the king 

Edward II. 303 

made for a general pacification, and by the end of the year 

there was a formal reconciliation, though both Lancaster and 

Warwick stood aloof for another twelve months. „ 

Formal re- 

When they also at last made formal submission, it conoinations, 
seemed that peace might really be at hand since 
Gaveston himself could not be resuscitated. 

It was high time for discords to cease. At the beginning of 
1314 the Enghsh had scarcely a stronghold left in Scotland except 
Stirling, Edinburgh, Roxburgh, and Linlithgow. Scotland, 
Stirling — hard pressed by Edward Bruce — by one of ■^^^*- 
the curious compacts which the laws of chivalry permitted, was 
pledged to surrender unless relieved by Midsummer Day. James 
Douglas captured Roxburgh and Linlithgow, and Thomas Ran- 
dolph scaled the castle crag of Edinburgh. If Stirling were not 
relieved the last fortress would be lost. So at last a mighty effort 
was to be made. Gloucester, Pembroke, and Hereford joined the 
king, though four of the earls stood aloof. There was no doubt 
about either the magnitude or the magnificence of the army which 
the king collected, but there was a total absence of trained miU- 
tary leadership. King Robert kijew that he must fight — the 
terms of the Stirling compact made that a point of honour. But 
his captains and his men were experienced campaigners ; and 
they could be trusted as Wallace had never been able to trust 
his followers. 

Edward was so late in starting, that to be in time he had to take 
the shortest route for Stirling. Bruce chose his own position 
with a thorough perception of the enemy's incom- 
petence ; the memory of the first Edward's tactics 'burn, 24th 
at Falkirk pointed to the one serious danger which 
had to be averted. As there was only a small force of cavalry, 
the only effective use of them which could be made in the field 
was to paralyse the Enghsh archers ; apart from the archers, the 
Scottish spears would hold their own against any deluge of 
cavalry, as the Flemings had held their own at Courtrai. The 
smaller force was secured against being outflanked by the nature 
of the ground ; the attack could be made only on a narrow front, 
largely protected by boggy ground and by artificially prepared 

304 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

pitfalls. On the night of 23rd June the armies lay facing each 
other. In the morning the EngKsh, forgetting the teaching of 
Edward i. and the Welsh wars, advanced their archers unsup- 
ported to shoot down the Scottish ranks ; the opportunity 
was promptly seized ; the small body of Scottish horse, hidden 

r^^l ..Soofs Font 
L I....Scots Horse 

English Archers 

& Foot 

English Horse 



Si.,ile of I Mile 

_■ J— 

EiXitcrJ V> alkvr ^c. 

on the right, burst upon the archers and cut them to pieces. 
For that day the bow was of no more service to the English. 
The first column of the English horse crashed over the broken 
The battle. ground upon the Scottish spears, which bore the 
shock and flung them back only to make more desperate confusion 
of the second charging column. The Scots pressed forward, their 
mass unbroken ; the English mistook a movement of the camp- 
followers on Gillies Hill in the rear for the arrival of a fresh force ; 

Edward II. 305 

panic fell upon them ; though here and there were valiant warriors 
who stayed to fight and fall with their face to the foe, the great 
mass of the army broke into wild flight. Edward reached 
Dunbar, where he took ship for Berwick ; Gloucester was slain 
on the field, Hereford was made prisoner, Pembroke escaped. 
The Scots horse were too few to make the most of the pursuit ; 
nevertheless there was a very great slaughter, though the victors 
had a preference for prisoners who could be put to ransom over 
useless corpses. Edward had marched luxuriously provided, and 
a vast booty fell into the hand of the Scots. 

Bannockbum was one of the three great battles which deci- 
sively demonstrated that the ' schiltron,' the phalanx of infantry 
armed with the spear and axe, could hold its own The military 
against charging columns of mail-clad knights ; i^saon. 
though the mail-clad knight was slow to lay to heart the lessons 
of Courtrai, Bannockburn, and Morgarten. The Scots of a later 
generation would never realise that Bannockburn had been won 
because the English archery were prevented from plaj^ing the 
same part as at Falkirk. A more inteUigent generation of 
Englishmen was to turn to account the lessons of Edward i., and 
to demonstrate the invincibility of leaders who knew how to use 
archery in conjunction with either horse or foot, and against 
either horse or foot. Bruce had grasped the principle, but he 
could not use archery, because Scotland never had archers worth 
the name ; what he could do, thanks in part to the incompetence 
of the EngHsh chiefs, was to put the English archery hors de 

But Bannockburn was not merely a remarkable battle, it was 
a decisive one. What precisely an EngUsh victory at that stage 
might have meant it is impossible to say ; but the Effects of 
Scots army would certainly have been annihilated, ^^° victory, 
and nothing but the internal broils of England would have made 
a renewed resistance possible. King Robert's victory destroyed 
the possibility of an English conquest of Scotland, and left the 
northern country to work out its own salvation after its own 
fashion, with permanent effect upon the national character, not 
peacefully, but through ceaseless storm and stress. By so doing 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. i. U 

3o6 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

it established as England's neighbour a power whose hostility- 
was very commonly active and never negligible. For fifteen years 
to follow and more, Scotland was always able to take the aggres- 
sive, to raid and harry the north of England, to foster English 
dissensions, and to harbour EngUsh rebels. And it was owing to 
Bannockbum that the Scots came near to driving the Enghsh out 
of Ireland, and destroyed for a couple of centuries all prospect of the 
English rule attaining to an effective organisation in that country. 

In Ireland, outside the narrow pale where there was a colour- 
able imitation of EngUsh institutions, an Anglo-Norman feudal 
Ireland baronage and Celtic clan chiefs professed a sort of 

1314. allegiance to the English Crown, but went their own 

way with very little respect for any law, their endless private 
wars unrestrained by an almost powerless central authority. 
There was little enough unity either among the Norman barons 
or among the Irish chiefs ; but Irish and Normans were rather 
more hostile to each other collectively than to rivals among their 
own racial group. The Irish resented the Norman supremacy 
altogether. When Edward's great army was shattered at 
Bannockbum, some of the Irish chiefs thought that their oppor- 
tunity had come. They looked upon the Scots as their own 
kinsmen, without realising the extent to which half Scotland at 
least had been Normanised. They could not unite among them- 
selves to throw off the Enghsh domination, but they conceived 
the idea that if they offered the crown of Ireland to Bruce, Ireland 
might be united under a Scots king. Bruce himself was not to 
be tempted by extravagant ambitions ; he knew well enough 
that the unification of Scotland itself would tax his powers to 
the uttermost. But his brother Edward, a very valiant if also 
a very rash warrior, was ambitious and perhaps dangerous. If 
Edward Bruce would accept the Irish invitation in his place, 
Robert would give him what help he could without committing 
himself deeply. 

In the spring of 1315, less than a year after Bannockbum, 
Edward Bruce had landed in Ireland, and it very soon became 
evident that from north to south the Irish clans were prepared 
to welcome him. What the Norman barons might do was 

Edivard II. 307 

another matter. The greatest of the Norman magnates, Richard 

de Burgh, earl of Ulster, was King Robert's father-in-law, and 

there were others who might succumb to temptation. 

De Burgh, after wavering, sided with the acting Bruce in 

iusticiar of Ireland, Edmund Butler. Edward Iceland, 

■' 13151317. 

Brace's successes in the field in conjunction with his 
Celtic Irish allies, intensified racial alarm ; the Normans deter- 
mined to hold together, and the war assumed very much the 
character of a straggle between Norman and Celt. Edward 
could march about the country, but the fortresses defied him. 
In 1316 King Robert came over to help his brother, who was 
crowned king of Ireland. But the Braces were stiU unable to 
capture the castles or the fortified towns. Robert had to return 
to Scotland. Both parties were divided by internal feuds. But 
in 1317 the arrival of the fierce and resolute Roger Mortimer of 
Wigmore as justiciar greatly strengthened the Norman faction, 
and in the next year Edward fell in a skirmish at Dundalk. With 
his death ended the chances of a successful revolt against the 
English domination ; although it was not followed by any serious 
effort to convert that domination into a healthily organised 

Bannockburn made Edward Brace's Irish expedition possible ; 
and it materially helped to make the king's government in 
England impossible. Lancaster and three of the earls Thomas of 
had refused to join the great army, on the ground that i-anoaster. 
the king was making war without having obtained the assent 
of parliament, in contravention of the ordinances ; breach of the 
ordinances was declared to be the cause of all the troubles in 
the realm. While Brace harried the north, the Ordainers pro- 
tested against moving until Hereford and other prisoners were 
at liberty. An exchange of captives was effected, and Lancaster 
was strengthened by the return of his ally, while the king's party 
was weakened by the death of Gloucester. Also since the death 
of Winchelsea in 13 13 Lancaster had adopted the r61e of cham- 
pion of the Church. His one possible rival in his own party was 
removed by the death of Guy of Warwick. He successfully 
ousted Pembroke from the command of the army, which was sup- 

3o8 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

posed to be going to bring Scotland to reason, although it actually 
did nothing at all ; and altogether, by the beginning of 1316, he 
was in a position of greater power than any subject had enjoyed 
since the Conquest. For Earl Simon's dictatorship fifty years 
before had rested upon the earl's intellectual and moral pre- 
eminence, not upon the resources at his command. 

Thomas of Lancaster only proved his complete incapacity for 
making good use of his power. He may or may not have had a 
Or win dis secret Understanding with King Robert ; he cer- 
integration, tainly failed entirely to take any active measures 
1315-1318. against him, while that astute monarch gave colour 
to the suspicions which were rife by carefully leaving the 
earl's territories unraided. Famine and pestilence ravaged the 
country from end to end. Douglas and Randolph devastated 
the north ; Welsh risings plunged the marches into warfare ; in 
Lancashire there was an insurrection against the earl himself ; 
and Bristol instituted a revolt on its own account, a popular 
party rising against the domination of a ring of burgesses who 
had turned the government of the borough into a close oligarchy. 
What once had been a baronial party resolved itself into a chaos 
of factions ; and disasters seemed to culminate when, in 1318, 
even Berwick fell into the hands of the Idng of Scots. 

The blow served to bring the barons more or less to their senses. 
A sort of middle or moderate party was drawn together by Pem- 
Pembroke. broke, which captured the administration and proved 
itself a shade less inefficient than the king and his favourites on the 
one side and Lancaster on the other. A sort of reconciliation was 
brought about by the compact or treaty of Leak ; and in the new 
council of seventeen, which replaced the old council of twenty- 
one, Lancaster was represented by a banneret, while Hereford, 
Arundel, and Richmond were personally associated with Pem- 
broke. In 1319 an attempt was made to hold the Scots in check, 
but the only effect was to prove the utter disintegration which 
had taken possession of the English. An army marched to 
besiege Berwick ; but in so doing it left the whole of the northern 
counties at the mercy of Douglas's troopers, who never challenged 
a pitched battle, but went where they chose, effecting perpetual 

Edward II. 309 

surprises, and utterly foiling pursuit by the rapidity of their 
movements. The Enghsh found themselves so wholly helpless 
that they were reduced to making a two years' truce. 

The Pembroke government, such as it was, got no help either 
from the king or from Lancaster. Edward was trpng to re- 
construct a party of his own with the two Hugh Riae of the 
Despensers, father and son, as the moving spirits. Despensers. 
A former Hugh Despenser had been one of Montfort's most trusted 
and capable associates. He had fallen at Evesham, when his 
son, the elder Despenser, was a child ; the child had grown up to 
become a competent official under Edward i., and his son, the 
younger Despenser, who was about the same age as Edward il., 
became the king's personal favourite after the death of Gaveston. 
The Despensers inherited the Montfort tradition, but had not 
thereby been attached to the baronial party, being rather the 
professed advocates of Montfort's popular doctrines. So far as 
principles were concerned, they were warranted by their tradition 
in antagonism to the oligarchism of the baronage, and in adopt- 
ing the theory of alhance between the Crown and the Commons. 
But, unfortunately, in practice they were not constitutionahsts 
but self-seekers. A comparative respectability attaches to them 
because there was actually a constitutional element in their 
programme ; but they never rose to the level which would entitle 
them to be called patriots. 

The death of Gloucester at Bannockburn had caused the 
partition of the Gloucester inheritance among his three sisters, 
the eldest of whom was married to the younger Hugh ^^^ marcher 
Despenser. The three brothers-in-law, Hugh Des- quarrel, 


penser, Hugh of Audley, and Roger of Amory, each 
wanted the Gloucester earldom to be revived in his own favour. 
Amory was of Pembroke's party and Audley was of Lancaster's. 
Now the male line of the Braoses, who held the lordship of Gower 
in South Wales, was coming to an end. Hereford, Despenser, 
and Mowbray, Braose's son-in-law, all wanted possession of 
Gower when Braose should die, which he did in 1320. Mowbray's 
title was good according to marcher custom, but according to 
general English law the estate lapsed to the Crown. Mowbray 

3 lo Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

seized it, and Despenser turned him out on behalf of the Crown. 

All the marchers were at once in arms in defence of the marcher 

custom. Despenser's action united the Lancaster and Pembroke 

parties for his overthrow. A full parhament of the three Estates 

met in 1321, the magnates appearing in arms. Pembroke made 

some show of acting as mediator ; but a series of charges were 

formulated against the favourites, one being that 
Coalition . , - 

against the the younger Hugh had declared allegiance to be due 

Despensers, jj^j ^q ^j^e person of the king but to the Crown, and 
that if the king sought to do wrong the subject's 
duty to the Crown required him to constrain the king to do right 
— a doctrine which the Ordainers themselves appear to have 
adopted at an earher stage. The peers passed sentence of exile 
and forfeiture on the Despensers, who took to flight ; but with 
their downfall the raison d'etre of the coalition against them 
disappeared, and the coalition itself collapsed. Edward, of 
course, was bent on recalling the exiles. 

A blundering insult to the queen on the part of Lady Badles- 
mere, the wife of an associate of Pembroke's, created a reaction 
in the king's favour. The marchers sided with Badlesmere, 
Pembroke sided with the king, and Lancaster, who hated Badles- 
Eoyaiiat mere, stood aside. Consequently Edward was able 

reaction. j-g compel most of the marchers to submission, and 

on the strength of his success recalled the Despensers at the 
beginning of 1322. Then Lancaster, joined by Hereford and 
some other marchers in person, took up arms and moved against 
the king in the north, where the Scots were again raiding the 
border, the two years' truce having come to an end. But the 
marcher levies had been put out of action, and could not join the 
rebel lords. When the royalists marched for the north, Lan- 
caster and the barons retreated before them till their way was 
blocked at the passage of the river Ure at Boroughbridge by 
Andrew Harclay, the commandant of CarUsle. Harclay held 
the north bank with dismounted men-at-arms and archers. 
Borough- Lancaster's attempt to force the narrow bridge and 
bridge, 1322. the neighbouring ford failed disastrously; Here- 
ford was killed, and his followers dispersed ; a contingent from 

Edward II. 311 

York cut off the Lancastrian retreat, and Lancaster and the rest 
of the leaders surrendered. The prisoners were dispatched to 
Pontefract, where the king was lying. A court consisting of the 
king himself and the earls and barons who were with him, passed 
sentence of death upon Lancaster unheard ; the earl was be- 
headed ; a score of barons and knights suffered the death penalty ; 
Audley and Roger Mortimer were thrown into prison, from which 
the latter escaped and made his way to France. So perished 
the most powerful subject and the most dangerous enemy of 
the king of England ; a man who had proved himself devoid 
of statesmanship and generalship ; who had set at naught the 
word of honour ; who to humiliate the king had almost, if not 
quite, played the traitor in his relations with the king of Scots ; 
who had displayed no redeeming qualities in his arrogant and 
incompetent selfishness. And yet by a strange irony Thomas of 
Lancaster obtained credit as a martyr of patriotism and the cause 
of liberty, and was popularly canonised as a saint. 

The royal triumph was complete ; although, true to their 
traditions, the Despensers gave it a popular form. Six weeks 

after Lancaster's execution a full parliament of the 

The Con- 
three Estates was assembled at York, the only one stitutionai 

before the reign of Henry viii. to which represen- ^^ ^32™^"* 
tatives from Wales were summoned. The parliament 
revoked the ordinances, though it re-enacted some of them and 
confirmed the charter. It was expressly declared that ' The 
matters which are to be estabhshed for the estate of our lord the 
king and of his heirs, and for the estate of the realm and of the 
people, shall be treated, accorded, and estabhshed in parhament 
by our lord and king, and by the consent of the prelates, earls, 
and barons and commonalty of the realm, according as hath been 
heretofore accustomed ' ; in effect that is, it disquahfied any 
assembly of magnates apart from the commonalty of the realm 
from assuming the authority of a parhament. It was compara- 
tively of httle moment that the formal ground of the revocation 
of the ordinances was that they were contrary to the royal 

The pacification after Boroughbridge was followed by the usual 

3 1 2 Edward II. and the Minoi-ily of Edward III. 

display of incompetence in dealing witli the Scots, who swept over 
the northern counties with fire and sword. A force was marched 
The Boots. into Scotland, but found no one to fight and 
nothing to capture except fortresses which defied attack. The 
expedition withdrew ignominiously and was followed by another 
Scottish raid, in which the earl of Richmond was taken prisoner, 
and the king himself barely escaped capture by hasty flight. 
Despairing of protection from the government, the men of the 
north began to make terms for themselves with the Scots ; 
Andrew Harclay, whose conduct at Boroughbridge had won him 
the earldom of Carhsle, took matters into his own hands, and 
arranged for a peace which should recognise Robert as king 
of Scotland ; but this was an acknowledgment of defeat for 
which the king and the barons were not prepared. Harclay 
was arrested and executed as a traitor. Five years later the 
independence of Scotland was to be formally acknowledged 
by treaty, but not till then. Meanwhile a thirteen years' truce 
was arranged. Robert procured from the Pope the long-deferred 
recognition of his title, and was able to devote the last years of 
his life to the organisation of the State whose liberty he liad won. 
There ensued in England a period of comparative peace. 
Lancaster's earldoms passed to the Crown by his treason, though 

they were in part restored to his brother Henry with 
of the the title of earl of Leicester. With Pembroke's 

death in 1324 his earldoms also lapsed to the Crown ; 
the earls of Hereford and Warwick were boys. ITiere was no one 
left to play the part either of Lancaster or of Pembroke himself. 
The Despensers were supreme, but on every side they were 
stirring up enemies, amongst whom not the least dangerous was 
the queen Isabella, who bitterly resented her own want of in- 
fluence with her husband and the humiliations to which she was 
subjected. She soon found an opportunity for weaving her own 
designs at a distance from the Despensers. 

Edward's troubles in England had enabled the successive 
kings of France to carry on their old policy of covert aggression 
in Gascony. In 1322, the third of the sons of Philip iv., 
Charles iv. , succeeded his brother on the throne. Edward delayed 

Edward II. 313 

to do homage to his new suzerain, not without reasonable ex- 
cuses ; but Chaiies found for his own part an excuse, in the 

conduct of one of his vassals and of the seneschal „. „ . 

Tne French 

or governor of Gascony, for sequestrating Gascony, aggression 

and rapidly gave effect to the sequestration by force 

of arms. At the end of 1324 httle remained in the hands of tlie 

king of England's officers beyond a portion of the Gascon coast- 

Hne. Arms and diplomacy had availed equally httle, till Queen 

Isabella proposed tliat she should herself go to France and exert 

her influence to persuade her brother to restore the duchy and 

make peace, in tlie spring of 1325. To France she went, and 

after some months' delay Charles agreed to restore Gascony after 

he should receive Edward's homage ; in the meanwhile Bayonne 

alone was to remain in the hands of the king of England — the 

rest of the EngUsh garrisons were to be withdrawn. StiU Edward 

did not wish to pay homage, and the Despensers did not msh 

him to go to France out of reach of their personal 

influence. Thereupon Isabella suggested that the isabeua 

young Prince Edward should be invested with the "^ France, 

■' ° 1326-1326. 

duchy of Aquitaine and the county of Ponthieu, and 
sent over to her to do homage for them to the French king. 
The boy accordingly joined his mother at the French court. But 
Charles now professed that his promise was fuliilled by the res- 
toration merely of that remnant of Aquitaine from which the 
Enghsh garrisons had just been withdrawn. Edward 11. in great 
disgust declared himself governor of Aquitaine on behalf of his 
son the duke ; whereupon Charles again took possession, meeting 
TOth no resistance. 

But meanwhile the queen had surrendered herself body and 
soul to Roger Mortimer, who had broken prison and escaped to 
France a year earher. Guided by Mortimer, Isabella refused to 
return to England so long as tlie Despensers ruled. The Prince 
of Wales was in her control. She became the centre of conspiracy 
among exiles and malcontents, including even the king's younger 
brothers, Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, and Edmund, 
earl of Kent, the sons of Edward i. by his second wife. Charles of 
France withdrew his countenance from his sister on account of 

3 1 4 Edward II. and the Minority of Edzuard III. 

her notorious relations ^vith Mortimer ; but she found a useful 
ally in WiUiani, coimt of Hainault, who controlled the ports of 
Holland and Zealand. The price of this alliance was to be the 
marriage of the Prince of ^^'ales to William's daughter Phihppa. 
In September 1326 Isabella and Mortimer landed on the east 
coast with a small body of Hainaulters, proclaiming that they 
Fau of the ^^^^ come to procure the removal of the Despensers, 
Despensers, and to right the wrongs of the dead Thomas of Lan- 
caster. No one woidd move on behalf of the king, 
whose brothers, as weU as Henry of Leicester and gathering 
numbers from the eastern counties, joined the invaders. The 
king fled to the west, finding no siipport save from Arundel and 
Warenne. No resistance was offered to the westward progress 
of the queen's forces ; Edward became a fugitive, and the elder 
Despenser was forced to surrender at Bristol, where he was 
promptly put to death wthout trial as a traitor. Then the king, 
Arundel, and yoimg Despenser were caught ; the two latter were 
executed as traitors, and Edward himself was consigned to the 
charge of Henry, earl of Leicester. The brother of Thomas of 
Lancaster displayed no \'indictiveness, and Edward was treated 
well enough so long as he remained in the earl's custody. But 
already Bishop Orleton of Hereford, a personal adherent of the 
Mortimers, had imphed in a sermon that something more was 
to be looked for than the overthrow of the Despensers. A 
parliament was siunmoned, which met in January 1327. The 
prelates, %vith only four exceptions, had now associated them- 
selves with the \ictorious party ; not one of the baronage desired 
or ventured to speak for the king, when Orleton invited the 
Estates to declare whether they woidd have for king Edward 11. 
or his son the ' Duke of Aquitaine.' The London mob clamoured 
for the duke ; but even Mortimer hesitated to depose the king 
in set form. The same end would be better attained by his 
abdication. At first Edward offered a stubborn refusal ; then 
Deposition ^® yielded. On 25th January Edward iii. became 
of Edward II., king of England, and the control of the government 

Jan. 1327 

passed into the hands of Queen Isabella, ' the she- 
wolf of France,' and her paramour Roger Mortimer. 

Tlie Minority of Edward III. 315 

There could be no excuse for kOling the king, but while he Hved 
Isabella and Mortimer could not feel secure, and while he re- 
mained ia the hands of Henr\- of Leicester he was safe from foul 
play. So he was taken away from Leicester and handed over to 
custodians who for several months endeavoured unsuccessfully 
to Idll him by every means short of actual murder. At last it 
was announced in September that he had died at Berkelej' Castle, 
and his bod\", which bore no obvious marks of xio- Murder 
lence, was expwsed in order to quell suspicion. Xo of Edward, 
one has ever questioned the truth of tlie popular belief that he 
was inhumanly slain -sWth hot irons ; for the hapless victim's 
shrieks were heard outside the castle walls. The tragedj' of 
Thomas of Lancaster's fall had made of the dead cEtrl a miracle- 
working saint ; the seime fate befeU Edward of Camar\-on ; 
although, on the other hand, there were many who believed that 
the deposed king was not dead but had escaped, and that the 
exposed corpse had not been his at all. 

Immediatety after the deposition of Edward 11. the young 
Edward ni. was crowned ; but the few j-ears that passed before 
the 5'oung king broke free from the control of his me minority 
mother and her paramour belong to the same period °^ Edward in- 
of endless and aimless misgovenunent as the reign of his father. 
The parhament placed the administration in the hands of a 
councU, setting nominally at its head Henrj' of Leicester, who was 
now reinstated in his brother's earldoms and became Henry of 
Lancaster. But Lancaster, though public-spirited and honour- 
able, was not a commanding personalitj', and the majoritj- of his 
colleagues on the council were creatures of the real rulers, 
Isabella and Roger Mortimer. Mortimer in times past, and espe- 
cially when acting in Ireland, had shown %igour and capacib,- ; but 
now he set before himself no object except personal aggrandise- 
ment. He made no attempt to deal with the task of raising 
England out of the abyss into which she seemed to have sunk in 
the latter days. The responsibility for failing in so thankless a 
business was to be laid upon others, while he added estate to 
estate, and made himself supreme lord of the marches. But 
though he assumed no official position of responsibiUty. his will 

3 16 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

and the queen's controlled the government, which remained of 
precisely the same character as the rest which had prevailed for 
twenty years past. 

The internal administration then was mainly directed to ex- 
tending Mortimer's territories and influence on the marches and 
The Mortimer in Ireland, culminating in the bestowal upon him of 
tyranny. ^^ ^^^ ^j^lg of ^^\ of March in the autumn of 1328. 

This almost resulted in a fresh civil war between Mortimer's 
partisans and those of Lancaster, who seemed at last to have been 
roused to active opposition. But a peace was patched up, and 
then Lancaster was smitten with blindness, which ended any 
prospect of excessive activity on his part. Edmund of Kent 
threatened to become troublesome, but was inveigled into a sham 
plot for the restoration of the non-existent Edward il., which was 
made an excuse for beheading him early in 1330. In the mean- 
time the management of French and Scottish affairs had con- 
tinued as inefficient as ever. In France, upon the accession of 
PhiUp of Valois, Isabella put forward a claim ^ in 
suooeasion, favour of her son ; but the principle of the male 


succession had been virtually established by the last 
two reigns. On the hypothesis that the succession might de- 
scend through but not to a female, Edward's claim was good ; for 
at this date there were no grandsons of Isabella's elder brothers. 
But it was good on no other hypothesis, and the French lawyers 
declared in favour of the old law of the Salian Franks, which 
insisted on inheritance by and through males only. At the time 
nothing came of the young king of England's claim. But there 
was a formal though only partial restitution of Gascony. 

As concerned Scotland, the regency were at last driven to accept 
facts. Although King Robert was now almost worn out with 
Th T t disease, generated by the hardships of his earlier 
of North- days, the chaos in England tempted the Scots to a 
breach of the truce. English troops were mustered 
to march against them, taking the young king along with them ; 
but the campaign was merely a particularly inglorious repetition 
of all those which had been attempted of recent years. At no 

' See Genealogical Tables, VIII., France, the later Capets. 

The Minority of Edward III. 3 1 7 

other time in English history have English troops been afraid to 
face half their own number in the field ; but this was now hteraUy 
the case, so desperate was the demoralisation. The English 
government resolved to throw up the struggle, to the intense 
indignation of the EngUsh people ; by the peace of Northampton 
— the ' shameful peace ' Englishmen called it — the independence 
of Scotland and the title of King Robert were formally acknow- 
ledged, and the English claim to suzerainty was entirely with- 

Bruce had accomplished his task. He had not indeed con- 
sohdated the lowlands, the highlands, the islands, and the Scan- 
dinavian north into a homogeneous nation, but he „^ ^ , 

° ' Tlie end of 

had for ever secured his kingdom against a foreign King Robert, 


domination. The lords who had been disinherited 
for their adhesion to England were not reinstated, not absorbed 
into the state which Bruce had made, and troubles were to spring 
therefrom in the future. The heir to the throne was a child who 
was to show none of his father's capacity. The baronage, who had 
learnt devotion to the person of the great king, were to develop all 
the disintegrating characteristics of an unrestrained feudalism. 
But under Bruce's guidance Scotland had taken her place among 
the nations who have fought for their national freedom against 
heavy odds, and won. 

In 1329 King Robert died, leaving the regency of Scotland in 
the capable hands of Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray. While 
Moray lived Scotland was safe. In England the rule of Mortimer, 
made trebly unpopular by the treaty of Northampton, was 
already tottering. The destruction of Edmund of Kent in 
March 1330 convinced Lancaster and others that their own turn 
would soon come unless the earl of March were struck down. 
Young King Edward, now in his eighteenth year, was already 
chafing at the tutelage' under which he was held. He had 
married his bride Philippa of Hainault, at the time of the treaty 
of Northampton, and the birth of an heir to his throne in June 
1330 emphasised his opinion that he had reached man's estate 
and was quite capable of ruling the country himself ; the mag- 
nates found him eager to share their designs. In October 

3 1 8 Edward II. and the Minority of Edward III. 

parliament assembled at Nottingham. Mortimer's suspicions 
were awakened, and he prepared himself for attack at Nottingham 
Faoi of Castle, where he lay with Isabella and the young 

Mortimer. j^j^g g^^ j^g j^^^j ^^^ counted on treachery within 

the walls. During the night an armed band was admitted into 
the castle, was joined by Edward, and surprised and seized 
Mortimer, despite the unavailing entreaties and tears of the 

The parhament was transferred to Westminster, where the earl 
was tried by his peers, was condemned unheard as a traitor, after 
the evil precedent set in the case of Thomas of Lancaster, and 
since then habitually foUowed, and was hanged. Isabella re- 
mained unpunished, treated always with respectful courtesy 
by her son, but compelled to hve in privacy, though amply 
endowed, during the eight-and-twenty years of life which stUl 
remained to her. With the close of the year 1330 the actual 
reign of Edward in. begins. 



I. Before the Hundred Years' War, 1330-1338 

With the fall of Mortimer began the revival of England. It 
may safely be said that for three-and-twenty years no single 
public event had reflected credit upon the Crown, Gloom of the 
the barons, or the people of England. Throughout P^^* reigu. 
that period there had appeared only one figure having the 
promise of a great character, that of Gilbert of Gloucester. 
The young earl who fell at Bannockbum when he was only 
twenty-three years of age had played his part with a modera- 
tion, intelligence, and self-restraint which might well have had 
noble development had he not been prematurely cut off. The 
best that could be said of Pembroke and Henry of Lancaster was 
that they were respectable ; for all the rest it is impossible to find 
a word of praise save for the two survivors of an earlier generation, 
Lincoln and Winchelsea. It seemed as though there was hardly 
a living EngUshman who understood the handling of troops, so 
that disgrace had constantly attended upon the Enghsh arms. 
The one constitutional advance of the reign, the definite pro- 
nouncement after Boroughbridge that the commonalty formed 
an integral part of parliament, was almost an accident, the out- 
come of a royalist victory over the party which would have called 
itself constitutional if the term had been known. Civil wars, 
private wars, and Scottish raids, famine and pestilence, had 
wrought perpetual ravages. 

But now came a transformation. Enghsh captains became 
the acknowledged masters of military tactics unmatched in any 
other country ; Enghsh soldiers took it as a matter of course 
that they should win battles against enormous odds. Enghsh 


320 77^1? Reign of Edward III. 

sailors established a complete fighting supremacy of the seas. 
English commerce and English wealth developed enormously in 
Progress in ®P^*^ °^ *^^ devastating visitations of the Black Death . 
the new The pohtical power of the Commons became firmly 

rooted without resort to civil wars or revolutions ; 
civil broils passed out of the land. And before the close of the 
reign England had asserted herself intellectually. Enghsh speech 
had found utterance with William Langland ; an Enghshman, 
John WicHf, had kindled the lamp which after many years was 
to blaze forth in the beacon light of the Reformation ; and the 
first works of Geoffrey Chaucer were revealing the birth of a great 
Enghsh poetry. England had become articulate. 

From the outset, dissensions and feuds seemed to disappear. 
Of the old baronial leaders, none were left save Henry of Lancaster, 
Dawn of a no one with dangerous ambitions either to lead a 
new era. faction like a Thomas of Lancaster, or to excite 

hostiUty like a Gaveston or a Despenser. Lapsed earldoms were 
revived ; the title of duke was for the first time introduced, when 
the infant heir to the throne was created duke of Cornwall. 
Edward found a useful chancellor in John Stratford, bishop of 
Winchester, who succeeded to the primacy when it became 
vacant. Men were weary of misrule, even as after the anarchy 
of Stephen, and soon settled into order when there was no one 
engaged in encouraging disorder for petty personal aims. The 
parliaments which assembled were now regularly gatherings of 
the three Estates until the uncertain date when the clergy ceased 
to attend the representative chamber. The division into two 
chambers — one hereditary, save that it comprised the prelates, 
the other consisting of elected representatives — was estabUshed in 
1333 . No extravagant demands were made upon their generosity ; 
such demands as were made were met easily and without reluct- 
ance. The young king had all the qualities which make for per- 
sonal popularity : good looks, a splendid physique, a ready 
tongue, and imfailing tact. Also he had a genuine desire to be 
famed as a great king ; and if military glory occupied an extra- 
vagant share in his conception of kingly glory, that was the fault 
of the age, and in the popular judgment told altogether in his 

Before the Hundred Years War 32 1 

favour. At the first it is true that evil traditions made the oificers 
of his household greedy and violent in their exactions ; but that 
was an evil which was presently remedied. 

When Edward assumed the reins of government, it seemed that 
there would be peace from external as well as from internal broils. 
Ostensibly the outstanding questions had been Keiations 
definitively, if unsatisfactorily, settled both with with France. 
France and with Scotland by the regency. Though Isabella had 
made her protest against the accession of Philip of Valois in 
France, Edward had duly performed homage to his cousin for 
what was left to him of Aquitaine. This comprised, roughly 
speaking, the coastal provinces between the Charente and the 
Pyrenees, extending about a hundred miles inland. Neverthe- 
less Edward had not admitted that his claims were limited to 
this region, while the king of France had not admitted that there 
could be any claim outside it. But a private interview between 
the two monarchs in the spring of 1331 appeared to confirm them 
in perfectly friendly relations. 

With Scotland, on the other hand, peace ought to have been 

assured by the Treaty of Northampton, which had been ratified 

by the marriage of the six-year-old crown prince of 

Scotland, who was now King David 11., to Joanna, the and the 

seven-year-old sister of the king of England. But Disinherited, 
the treaty was so unpopular m England that the 
young king was ready to seize any plausible opportunity for 
avenging the humiHations of the last twenty years. In 1332 the 
opportunity was given by the ' disinherited ' barons of Scotland, 
Edward BalUol, the son of the luckless King John, kinsfolk of the 
Comyns, and others whose lands had been absorbed by the ad- 
herents of King Robert. Of Bruce's great captains, one, Lord 
James Douglas, had fallen fighting the Saracens in Spain ; the 
other, Randolph, was regent ; but if he died there was no one to 
take his place and hold Scotland on behalf of the boy king. 
Edward BaUiol and ' the Disinherited ' prepared for an invasion 
of Scotland, in order to recover their inheritance. Edward ill. 
allowed them to raise troops and to sail from an English port, 
although he would not permit an advance by land over the English 

Innes's Eng. Hist -Vol. i, X 

32 2 The Reign of Edward III. 

border. Randolph's death gave the Disinherited their oppor- 
tunity. In August their picked troops landed in Fifeshire. 
Duppiin The new regent Mar was incompetent ; still with a 

Moor, Aug. jjiuch larger army he met the Disinherited at Duppiin 
Moor. The experiences of recent years were reversed. The 
EngHsh — for Balliol's force was practically English — adopted 
that formation which was to prove so invincible in wars with 
France and Scotland for the next hundred years. The heavy 
armed troops were dismounted and fought on foot, only a small 
squadron of cavalry being held in reserve. On the flanks the 
archers were thrown out and forward, but so that they could 
readily fall back. The Scots fought as usual in masses of spear- 
men, but they had no archers of their own and no horse to launch 
on the Enghsh archery as at Bannockbum. Confident in the 
weight of superior numbers, the Scots pressed forward to crush 
the Enghsh centre ; but their ranks were shattered by the storm 
of arrows from either flank. The battle became a slaughter, and 
then a panic-stricken fhght. The victory brought over a number 
of magnates to BaUiol's side, and in September he was crowned 
king of Scots at Scone. 

Edward had not broken the Treaty of Northampton, but held 

himself at hberty to make what terms he chose with the new 

king; so in November Balliol acknowledged the 

Baiiioi ao- suzerainty of the king of England, and promised to 

knowledges hand over Berwick to him. But Scottish patriots 
Edward III. ^ 

had no mind to throw away the fruits of Bannock- 
burn. A few weeks later a party of them surprised BaUiol, cut 
up his followers, and aU but captured himself, though he succeeded 
in escaping to England. But now Edward had no scruple in 
endeavouring to reinstate the king who had admitted his over- 
lordship. By the early summer (1333) Berwick was being 
blockaded, and Edward himself was at the head of an EngUsh 
army engaged on the siege. In July a large reheving force of 
Haiidon Hiu, Scots was approaching when Edward took up his 
19th July 1333. position atHaJidon Hill, adopting the formation of 
Duppiin Moor, but on a larger scale. There were three ' battles ' 
or battalia of heavy-armed infantry strengthened by the dis- 

Before the Hundred Years War 323 

mounted cavalry, among whom Edward himself fought, a small 
number of mounted men being held in reserve. Each battle had 
its squadron of archers thrown out and forward on either flank. 
Again the Scots advanced in three masses, but this time , the 
flanking fire of the archers shattered their ranks before they came 
to close quarters ; the slaughter and the rout were more over- 
whelming than at DuppUn, because the forces engaged were much 
more numerous. Again the battle was decisive for the time. 
Berwick opened its gates ; the Scottish patriots hurried off King 
David and his little queen to France, where they were welcomed 
by King Phihp. Hahdon HiU had practically effected an Enghsh 
conquest. BalUol had been palpably restored by English arms. 
By the Treaty of Newcastle, concluded in June of the ^^^^^ gj 

following year, 1334, King Balliol not only acknow- Newcastle, 

ledged the overlordship of England, but surrendered 

to him practically the whole of Lothian and half the rest of the 


Edward made the mistake, fortunate for Scotland, of humihat- 

ing the vassal king and making him powerless in Scotland, 

instead of strengthening his hand and relying upon combined 

honour and interest to ensure his loyalty. BaUiol, thwarted and 

humiliated by his overlord, was loathed as the betrayer of his 

country by the Scottish people, while he was unable to restrain 

the quarrels which broke out among the Disinherited, who alone 

had a real interest in maintaining the new order. The patriots 

fell back on the old system of guerilla warfare, which had proved 

irrepressible even in the days of Wallace and irresis- 

., , . Recovery of 

tible m the days of Bruce. When Edward made soottisii in- 

expeditions into Scotland he found no one to fight ; dependence, 

/^ . ° 1335-1341. 

when his back was turned the English garrisons were 
perpetually harassed. Successive campaigns year after year 
proved fruitless ; and by 1338 the king of England was making 
up his mind to an enterprise more magnificent, though hardly 
more difficult, than the subjugation of the kingdom which had 
defied his grandfather. When the whole might of England was 
no longer directed against them, the Scots patriots, hke Bruce 
thirty years before, attacked and reduced the fortresses one after 

324 The Reign of Edward 11/. 

another. BaUiol, distrasted by his overlord, was recalled to 
England in 1339. Before the end of 1341 Berwick alone remained 
in English hands, and David returned with his queen from France, 
once more indubitably king of Scots. 

The enterprise which distracted Edward from attempting to 
complete the conquest of Scotland was what we may call pro- 
Edward's visionally the conquest of France. Nominally 
ambition. Edward put forward nothing less than a claim to 
the French throne. Actually he was determined to recover the 
whole Aquitanian inheritance, to hold it in full sovereignty, and 
to recover as much as he could besides of the Norman and Angevin 
dominion ; the claim to the crown was put forward partly to 
secure the alliance of the Flemings, and partly on the diplomatic 
principle of claiming so much that large concessions could be 
made when an actual bargain was being struck. We have now 
to trace the circumstances which led up to the opening of what 
is called the Hundred Years' War with France, the war which 
began in 1338 and was only brought to a final conclusion with 
the expulsion of the English in 1453. 

It can sometimes be said with truth that a war has been forced 
on by the dehberate wanton aggression of a prince ambitious for 
Rational martial glory, or of a power bent on aggrandising 
basis of the itself at the expense of its neighbours. But even 
where the aggression seems wanton, it will usually 
be found that behind it there is some fundamental antagonism 
of interests, an impossibility of reconciling opposing claims which 
to the respective parties appear to be indubitably just, whereby 
the powers are driven inevitably to appeal to the arbitrament of 
arms. Inevitably, unless both display a patient persistence in 
endeavouring to reconcile differences, to recognise grievances, 
and to discover points which can be conceded. It is easy 
enough to account for the Hundred Years' War on the hypothesis 
that the king of England wanted another crown ; that he wished 
to occupy a turbulent baronage with their favourite pastime 
abroad, lest they should indulge in it within the four seas ; or, on 
the other hand, to attribute it to persistent inexcusable aggres- 
sion on the part of the French king. But, in fact, though such 

Before the H^mdred Years' War 325 

considerations are to be recognised among the motives which 
brought about the war, the real causes lay deeper. The funda- 
mental difficulty lay in the fact that the king of Eng- 

, The Frenoh 

land was at the same time a French baron. As a crown and 

French baron he sought to preserve the independent "^ ^^^* 

*= ^ ^ feudatory, 

power possessed in the past by the great French 

feudatories, a power which no king of England had ever permitted 
any English feudatories to acquire. That power was incom- 
patible with the organisation of France as a homogeneous state 
controlled by a strong central government. It would be equally 
unreasonable to blame the feudatories for their reluctance to 
resign their traditional and legal rights, or the Crown for its deter- 
mination to enforce the supremacy of the central authority. 
From the national point of view the victory of the Crown was 
eminently desirable — was, in fact, the condition necessary to the 
creation of a compact state. But the trickery by which the 
Crown pursued its ends supplied an additional moral justification 
for the resistance of the feudatory. Where the feudatory was 
able to back his claims with the forces and resources of his own 
kingdom, which in its turn would derive very considerable 
benefits from his success, the time was certain to come when the 
appeal to arms would be made ; and that time had now arrived. 
Aquitaine must either be independent of the French Crown or 
be absorbed under its dominion ; and the continuous process of 
gradual absorption could only be stopped by war. 

If the preservation of what was still unabsorbed, and the re- 
covery of what had been from the English point of view stolen, 
could only be attained by war, there were strong 
enough reasons for expecting material advantages gains for 
to England from the war. Not only was there a 
valuable trade with Gascony itself, which was in danger of being 
ruined, but there was a still more valuable trade with Flanders 
which was being threatened. The count of Flanders was a 
French feudatory, but in close alliance with the French Crown. 
The citizens of the great Flemish trading towns were dependent 
upon England for their supplies of wool, the raw material of the 
manufactures from which they derived their wealth. To them 

326 The Reign of Edward III. 

friendship with England was of vital importance, whereas they 

were very far from being attached either to their count or to 

The Fiemisu the king of France. The trade with Flanders was 

trade. ^ot only a source of EngUsh wealth but of revenue 

for the Crown. If the Flemish cities were detached from the 

domination of the French Crown, the threatened Flemish trade 

would be secured. It was this consideration more than any 

other which induced Edward to give prominence to his own 

claim to the French crown. The Flemings would find warrant 

for throwing off their allegiance to their own count and to PhiUp 

of Valois, on the hypothesis that Edward, not Phihp, was their 

lawful suzerain ; if the quarrel was one merely between the king 

of England or the duke of Aquitaine and the lawful Idng of France, 

they would be in plain rebeUion if they supported Edward. 

The claim itself to the French crown is not to be set aside as 

merely frivolous. There was no uniformly recognised feudal 

„^ , . , law of succession ; the practice varied in different 
The claim to ^ 

the French regions, and there was much uncertainty as to the 
rule which applied to any particular crown. Ac- 
cording to modem ideas, one of two rules habitually prevails; 
either the crown descends through the male line only, or it de- 
scends to and through a woman, a daughter having priority to a 
brother, though a brother has priority to a sister. But we have 
seen that proximity of blood might be held to give a stronger 
claim than primogeniture ; as John succeeded Richard in pre- 
ference to Arthur of Brittany, though a hke plea was rejected in 
favour of John BaUiol as against the elder Bruce. The plea on 
which Edward reUed was that the crown descended through, 
though not actually to, a female. So in England itself the crown 
had descended to Henry 11., not to his mother the Empress Maud ; 
so also a century and a half later Henry Tudor claimed the crown 
for himself, not for his mother the Lady Margaret, through whom 
he claimed ; and the Yorkists, whose claim was through the female 
Une, did not claim the crown for the daughter of Edward IV., but 
for his brother's son. In parts of France the rule was familiar. 
Until the accession of Philip of Valois there had been no precedent 
implying that it was not valid in the case of the French crown ; 

Before the H2indred Years War 327 

and it might even be said that the house of Capet had backed its 
own pretensions by claiming descent in the female line from 
Charlemagne. It so happened that there had been no failm'e of 
a direct male heir of the body of a French king since the first 
Capet until the death of Louis x. in 1316. It was then declared 
that Louis's daughter could not succeed, and the crown passed to 
his two brothers in succession. When Charles iv. died, the only 
male descendant of Philip iv. was Edward of England ; and it 
was only then that the French lawyers and the French baronage 
pronounced in favour of Philip of Valois, not because the law 
was unmistakably on his side, but because they wanted a French 
king not an Englishman. Edward could claim with reasonable 
justice that his rightful pretensions had then been set aside, and 
his own consent obtained only because he was too young to 
defend his own just cause. His real weakness in 1338 lay in 
the fact that the cause had already been decided by the French 
Estates ; still it was not yet fuUy estabhshed even in England 
that the Estates could decide the course of the succession without 
appeal. Edward therefore was not without warrant in putting 
forward a tenable technical plea to buttress his case against 
PhiHp of Valois, or, as he himself put it, to serve as a shield 
against his enemies. 

In 1331 there was an appearance of differences having been 
reconciled ; but, in fact, Philip's ofhcers continued their insidious 
methods in Aquitaine, and the relations between the Alliances 
two monarchs were not improved when the French ^^o"^™^*- 
king helped the cause of Scottish patriotism by harbouring 
young King David 11. in France. Edward responded by re- 
ceiving in England Robert of Artois, the French king's brother- 
in-law, who was bitterly at feud with Philip, and had been 
deprived of his possessions and expelled from France. Robert 
undoubtedly worked his hardest to foster ill-feeling between the 
kings. It became increasingly certain that war was approaching, 
and on both sides alUes were sought. Edward succeeded in 
attracting to his camp his brothers-in-law, the counts of Hainault 
and Gelderland, and most of the princes of the Netherlands, whose 
suzerain was not the king of France but the emperor. Brabant 

328 The Reign of Edivard III. 

was won by the hope of displacing the Flemish towns in the 
Enghsh trade. Flanders being stiU under control of its count, 
commerce between the two countries had just been in effect cut 
off. At this time the emperor was Lewis of Bavaria, who was 
at enmity with the Avignon pope, Benedict xii., and therefore 
antagonistic to France ; also his wife and Edward's queen were 
sisters ; and he somewhat ostentatiously joined the circle of 
Edward's alUes. 

For Philip this was tantamount to a declaration of war. But 
though he once more declared Gascony and Ponthieu forfeit 
(1337). and the sailors of both countries entered upon hostilities 
in the Channel, the Pope restrained him from further action. 
Edward pushed forward his preparations, and in October formally 
renounced his allegiance and asserted the claim to the French 
War, 1338. crown put forward on his behalf by his mother nine 
years before. Papal legates visited Edward on a mission of 
pacification ; he pretended to listen but continued to arm. 
Meanwhile the Normandy seamen were gaining the upper hand 
in the Channel, and making ominous attacks on the south coast. 
Soon after midsummer 1338 the Enghsh preparations were 
ready, and King Edward crossed over to Antwerp. In Sep- 
tember he met the emperor at Coblenz, where Lewis appointed 
him vicar-general of the empire, and swore to aid him against 
the king of France, the lords of the empire following suit ; and 
the forfeiture of fiefs held by the king of France within the 
empire was pronounced. The meeting at Coblenz may be 
regarded as the opening of the Hundred Years' War. 

II. The Years of Victory, 1338-1360 

Although we may date the beginning of the war from 1338, 
another year elapsed before fighting began in earnest. For this 
the responsibility lay partly with the papal legates, 
campaign, who continued their pacific efforts for some time 
^^''" longer. Edward himself was held inactive from 

lack of sufficient funds to satisfy the demands of his aUies of the 

The Years of Victory 329 

Netherlands, each of whom had in view personal objects other 

than the cause of King Edward. However, in September 1339 

he had brought together a considerable force, for the most part 

hired from his German allies in Brabant. In October he pushed 

across the French frontier, and set about ravaging. Philip sent 

him a challenge, characteristic of the age, to arrange for a pitched 

battle in open ground ; but though Edward twice selected his 

ground in accordance with the challenge, PhiMp would not face 

him on either occasion, and at Icist Edward retired in disgust to 

winter quarters at Brussels. The king of England had got no 

practical good out of the imperial alliance. But in 1340 he came 

to terms much more advantageously with the Flemings. They 

had suffered so severely from the cessation of trade with England, 

that the embargo had been withdrawn by Edward, partly in 

return for substantial loans, and on condition that Count Louis 

and the French king should agree to the neutralisation of 

Flanders. The count found himself dominated by the burgesses, 

led by James van Artevelde of Ghent, who had obtained the 

concession from Edward. But the neutrality could hardly be 

maintained, and Edward could bid higher for „^ „, . ^ 

° The Flemish 

Flemish support than his rivals. He would recover auiance, 
for Flanders towns and districts which previous 
French kings had torn from them, and he would give large com- 
mercial privileges. The Flemings were quite ready to accept 
the terms if he would formally declare himself to be the lawful 
king of France, so that they might declare themselves to be the 
followers of their Hege lord. Count Louis, finding resistance 
vain, betook himself to France ; the three great towns of Ghent, 
Bruges, and Ypres took the oath of allegiance to Edward as king 
of France, and he formally assumed the royal arms which com- 
bined those of France and England. 

Edward, already heavily in debt to the Flemings, went back to 
England to collect a great army and fleet. His return to Flanders 
was signalised by the great sea-fight of Sluys : here siuys, 
the rivalry between EngHsh and Norman mariners 24th June, 
was decisively settled. Each side had assembled a fleet of two 
hundred vessels, the great majority of the French being Norman. 

330 The Reign of Edward III. 

The art of manoeuvring navies was not understood. In what 
was then the great harbour of Sluys, the French were gathered to 
challenge the passage of the English. On the morning of Mid- 
summer Day the Enghsh bore down upon the French, who had 
lashed their ships together a mile or so outside the harbour. 
The first attack proving unsuccessful, the Enghsh fell away ; the 
Frenchmen cut loose, and started, as they supposed, in pursuit of 
the fleeing foe ; whereupon the Enghsh turned, the ships on both 
sides grappled, and there was a furious battle, in which the Enghsh 
were completely victorious, capturing the greater part of the 
Norman fleet. It would seem that Edward applied at sea what 
was beginning to be the base principle of EngUsh fighting on 
land, and that the EngUsh archery did much to cripple the French- 
men before the actual hand-to-hand fighting began. The victory 
gave England a complete and decisive command of the sea, and 
the army, which had suffered httle loss, was landed and welcomed 
by the Flemings. 

Nevertheless, the land campaign which followed was entirely 
futile. Philip would not fight a pitched battle, and Edward 
wasted his time in unsuccessful sieges. The methods of chivalry 
were again illustrated by Edward's challenge to Phihp to decide 
this quarrel by single combat, a proposal which Philip professed 
himself willing to accept, provided the crowns of both countries 
A five years' were the stake, not the crown of France alone. The 
truce. aimless hostihties were suspended in September by 

the truce of Esplechin, to hold good for a year ; afterwards it was 
extended for four years longer. 

The truce was followed almost immediately by the emperor's 
desertion of Edward. A new pope induced the coimts of Hainault 
and Brabant to declare themselves neutral. Artevelde lost his 
ascendency over the Flemings and was murdered, after which 
England could no longer rely upon active Flemish support. 
When war again broke out, the Netherlands could not again serve 
as Edward's base of operations. 

Immediately after the armistice Edward took a hasty mid- 
night flight to England, in order to escape his Flemish creditors. 
He was in a very ill-temper ; his first step was to dismiss ministers 

The Years of Victory 331 

and judges, denouncing them as traitors whose malversatrons 
and misconduct were responsible for his financial difficulties. 
But the special object of his animosity was Archbishop Strat- 
ford, formerly chancellor. The archbishop took sanctuary, and 
there was an unseemly war of sermons and mani- . ... . 
festos. Stratford demanded trial by his peers. He Stratford, 


was called upon to attend, under safe-conduct, a 
parliament summoned in April 1341, and was then ordered by 
the king to answer the accusations against him before the Court 
of Exchequer. The barons supported him in refusing to answer 
before any court except that of his peers in full parhament. 
Edward found himself helpless. Before he could get the grant 
of which he was gravely in need, he was obliged not only to 
reconcile himself with the archbishop, but also to accept a statute 
requiring that ministers should only be appointed after consulta- 
tion with the Estates, and should vacate office with the meeting of 
each parhament. The further effect of the whole quarrel was 
to unite the clerical party with what may be called the popular 

Within six months the king repudiated the statute, on the 
amazing ground that the seahng of it was merely a piece of 
necessary dissimulation. A later parliament, however, actually 
repealed the Act, in 1343. 

Though the French war was suspended, hostihties broke out 
in a new field. The death of John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, 
left the Breton succession in dispute between his ^ „ , 

^ The Breton 

half-brother John of Montfort and his niece Joan wax of 
(daughter of his whole-brother), the wife of Charles 
of Blois, nephew of King Philip. Phihp for obvious reasons 
supported Charles of Blois, and the Enghsh, as a matter of course, 
supported John of Montfort ; though the grounds on which the 
succession was claimed were a practical reversal of those on 
which Phihp and Edward respectively reposed their claim to 
the crown of France. Montfort was taken prisoner ; but his 
wife, another Joan, stood at bay and secured the support of 
the king of England by offering homage to him as king of 
France. England and France were not at war, but English and 

332 The Reign of Edward III. 

French troops were very soon fighting as allies of the respective 


At an early stage of the war of succession in Brittany, the earl 

of Northampton, a younger brother of the Humphrey de Bohun 

„ X., . who had recently become earl of Hereford, won at 
Battle of ■' 

Moriaix, Morlaix a notable victory against great odds, by 


applying for the first time on French soil the methods 
which had proved so successful at Dupplin Moor and Halidon 
Hill. It is to be remarked that at least until the Welsh wars of 
Edward i. the EngUsh longbow had not superseded the crossbow ; 
the effectiveness of what was to be the peculiarly English weapon 
was not fully demonstrated before Falkirk ; and Falkirk was the 
only pitched battle where it came into full play before Dupplin 
Moor, since at Bannockbum the archery had been paralysed. 
But from this time forward almost every EngHsh victory of im- 
portance was won by the longbow, a weapon which none but 
English or Welsh ever learnt to manipulate. The crossbow 
matched against the longbow was something like the muzzle- 
loader matched against the breechloader ; there was not much 
difference in the force of flight of the crossbow quarrell and the 
cloth-yard shaft, but the speed of discharge of the longbow was 
incomparably greater. The crossbow could never have been used 
like the longbow for the wrecking of cavalry charges. 

Apart from Morlaix, nothing decisive came of the fighting in 
Brittany. Though both the kings took the field, neither would 
challenge a pitched battle. At the beginning of 1343 both sides 
agreed to an armistice, but its terms were not scrupulously kept ; 
and at last, in 1345, Edward denounced the truce of Esplechin and 
open war was renewed. It was at this stage that Edward very 
. nearly rained the city of Florence, by repudiating 
of the Fior- his enormous debts to the Florentine banking houses 
of the Bardi and the Peruzzi. The Flemings had 
already learnt to be extremely shy of repeating the advances 
which had in effect financed the earlier campaigns ; and Edward 
was now forced to rely for loans upon EngUsh merchants. The 
credit and resources of the English merchants were an inadequate 
equivalent, and therefore the king was further forced to depend 

The Years of Victory 333 

upon the goodwill of parliament for procuring the necessary 
supplies for carrying on expensive campaigns. Parliament, hold- 
ing the purse-strings, found itself in a position to bargain, and 
thus to increase its control over policy and administration. 

It has been noted that a change in the attitude of the emperor 
and of the princes of the Netherlands, as well as of the Flemings, 
made it impossible now for Edward to use the The war re- 
Netherlands as his base of operations. When the °8'"'®^' ^345. 
war was renewed it opened with campaigns in Gascony under the 
command of Henry, earl of Derby, who in the course of the 
year became earl of Lancaster, in succession to his blind father. 
Edward had already succeeded in winning over to his side 
many of the Gascon nobles, who were guided by their personal 
interests in taking the part of the duke of Aquitaine or of the 
Ae facto king of France. The towns also in general favoured 
the king of England. In 1345 and 1346, Lancaster made 
three vigorous campaigns or raids. In the first he practically 
recovered Perigord; in the next he recovered Aiguillon, at 
the junction of the rivers Lot and Garonne. In the third 
he raided Poitou and succes-sfully stormed Poictiers. But by 
this time his successes had already been eclipsed by Edward 

In July 1346 Edward sailed from Portsmouth with a great ^ ar- 
mament, including ten thousand archers. He may have intended 
the expedition for Gascony, but it actually made its 
descent upon the coast of Normandy. Through campaign, 
Normandy it marched ravaging, and meeting Avith 
little resistance ; Caen was captured, and Edward advanced so far 
that his troops wasted the country up to the very walls of Paris. 
Philip had gathered a large force, but did not venture upon an 
attack ; and Edward, who was not in a position to lay siege to 
Paris, began a retreat towards Flanders dogged by the French 
army, which barred the passage of the Somme. Near the mouth 
of that river, however, a ford was found, ' Blanchetaque,' where 
the English effected the crossing ; and Edward being now in 
Ponthieu, determined to stand and give battle at Crecy, though 

' See Note VI., The Plantagenet Artnies, 

334 The Reign of Edward ITI. 

the pursuing French had more than thrice his numbers. The 
tactics of HaUdon Hill and Morlaix were apphed in a battle 
on an unprecedented scale. The Enghsh troops, dismounted, 
formed two solid ' battles ' of heavy-armed infantry, under the 
conmiand of the young Prince of Wales and the victor of Morlaix. 
A third was held in reserve under the king's own command. 
Archers were thrown out on the flanks of each battle, while a host of 
light-armed Welshmen lay behind the lines, ready to do their own 
particular work. A few mounted men were also held in reserve. 

EmeryWftllter sc. 

The battle, 
26tli Aug. 

Late in the following afternoon, 26th August, the great French 
force arrived after a weary march ; nevertheless the chivalry of 
France insisted on an immediate attack. A large 
body of Genoese crossbowmen was thrown forward 
to open the proceedings, but they were outranged 
and shot down by the English archers. They were at a dis- 
advantage, also, because the evening sun was in their faces and a 
driving storm of rain had damaged the bow-strings, which, unlike 
those of the Enghsh, were unprotected. The Genoese broke in 
hasty retreat ; the French knights, fuU of that misplaced con- 
fidence which had proved so fatal at Bannockburn and Courtrai, 

The Years of Victory 335 

expected to sweep away the small force of footmen by a furious 
cavalry charge. In two dense columns they galloped over the 
Genoese to hurl themselves upon the two English battles which 
were facing them. A storm of arrows poured upon both flanks 
of each column, huddHng them together, and rolling over man and 
horse. The confusion was increased by the terror of the horses 
at the otherwise harmless thunder of three primitive cannon 
which the Enghsh had for the first time brought into the field. 
The charging hosts hardly reached the Enghsh lines save on the 
English right, where for a short time the Prince of Wales was hard 
pressed. The Welshmen dashed out from the English ranks, 
stabbing and sla3dng the fallen men-at-arms. The French re- 
coiled and hurled forward again time after time, only to be time 
after time swept down by the pitiless arrows. When night fell 
pursuit was impossible, but already the English victory was 
overwhelming. The losses of their army were trivial ; but the 
field was thick with the dead bodies of the flower of the barons 
and knights of France. 

Two months later another decisive victory was won on English 
soil. The young king David of Scotland, anticipating httle resist- 
ance, swept into the north of England as the ally of , 
the king of France ; but at Neville's Cross he was cross, 
completely defeated with very heavy loss, and was 
himself taken prisoner and carried to the Tower of London. 

After Crecy Edward himself was too exhausted to intend more 
than the continuation of his march to the Flemish coast, whence 
he purposed to make sail for England. Yet he changed his plans 
and sat down before Calais, which he determined to capture ; 
partly because the town had made itself particularly obnoxious, 
and partly because he awoke to the immense advantages which 
would accrue to him from its possession. Crecy had secured him 
from attack by the French army, and he proceeded to starve out 
the garrison. Through the winter he succeeded with ^^ 

great difficulty in maintaining the blockade, making Calais, 3rd 
a sort of town of his own camp ; as the spring of 
1347 advanced, and Enghsh fleets held the seas in force, his grip 
tightened. In June Northampton completed the mastery of the 

336 The Reign of Edward HI. 

channel by the naval victory of La Crotoy. Phihp at last threat- 
ened an attack, but still would not venture ; and on 3rd August 
Calais surrendered. The story of Queen Philippa and the 
burgesses does not require to be retold. Most of the French 
population were deported, and the town was planted with an 
English colony. For two hundred years Calais remained a 
gateway through which Enghsh troops could be poured into 
France, and the looms of the Flemish weavers could be supplied 
with Enghsh wool. 

Six weeks before the fall of Calais, the success of the English 
candidate Montfort in Brittany appeared to have been secured 
by the decisive defeat of Charles of Blois, who at La Roche was 
himself taken prisoner, and was sent over to England. But 
Edward was exhausted by the effort which had won Crecy and 
A nominal captured Calais. He yielded to the mediating 
truce, Sept. pressure of the Papacy, and a truce was signed 
at the end of September. There was reason enough from the 
English point of view, but England's withdrawal left the security 
of Brittany incomplete. 

The truce lasted nominally for eight years. But the continued 
attempts of the popes, Clement vi. and Innocent vi. who suc- 
ceeded him, to procure a definitive peace, broke down altogether 
in 1354. Edward at that stage was prepared to withdraw his 
claims to the French throne on condition of receiving in full sover- 
eignty, not as a vassal of the Idng of France, the whole of Guienne 
and Gascony, along with Ponthieu, Artois, and the Calais Pale, 
the district extending from Calais to Guisnes. The English parlia- 
ment emphatically endorsed the king's readiness for peace. But 
the French would not resign the overlordship, and mainly on that 
point the negotiations collapsed. The Enghsh parliament in the 
spring of 1355 was no less emphatic in sanctioning the active 
renewal of the war. Between 1347 and 1355, however, fighting 
had never really ceased either in Brittany or in the Calais district, 
The Partisan where, in 1352, Guisnes was unofficially captured, 
^^''- and nominally sold to the king of England by its 

conqueror. Along the borders of the Gascon dominion there was 
perpetual raiding, and a piecemeal absorption of the outlying 

The Years of Victory 337 

regions went on steadily. In Brittany the fighting was of a parti- 
cularly miscellaneous character. The duchy was under the 
governorship of the English soldier Dagworth, who had captured 
Charles of Blois, acting on behalf of the boy John de Montfort, 
whose father had died in 1345. Lordships were sold to various 
adventurers, chiefly Enghsh, who spent their time fighting for 
pastime and for booty ; and it was in these years that young 
Bertrand du GuescUn acquired the training which was presently 
to make him the most formidable warrior in France. The whole 
informsil war encouraged the development of the bands of mer- 
cenary soldiers or free companies, who were ready for fighting 
or loot where a chance of either was to be had. 

The years of truce are important in England for reasons dis- 
tinct from the war. In 1348 the terrific visitation of the plague 
known as the Black Death visited Europe, entirely _j^ b,.-^ 
depopulating some districts, and cutting off probably Death, 
not much less than a third of the population. When 
it broke out in England it brought with it similar devastation. 
The records show that about half the parish clergy were carried 
off, so that it is likely that at least a quarter and perhaps a third 
of the population perished. The destruction among the labouring 
classes for the time being ruined the agricultural system ; the 
fields were left unfilled, famine was added to pestilence, and the 
price of food rose enormously. The labourers who remained 
refused to work except for immense wages, and in 1349 the Crown 
intervened with an ordinance, afterwards confirmed by parliament 
in the Statute of Labourers, fixing the price of bread and the rate 
of wages ; though, as we shall presently see, having little effect 
upon either. Three years after the Statute of Labourers came, 
in 1354, the Ordinance of the Staple, regulating the sale and 
export of the staple commodities, of which wool and leather 
were the chief. The further discussion, however, of these 
important subjects of economic interest is deferred to another 

In the same period legislation was active in other fields. In 
1352 the Statute of Treasons gave a crude definition to the law of 
treason. Particular acts were specified as treasonable: compassing 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. i. Y 

338 The Reign of Edward III. 

the death of the king, the queen, or the heir-apparent, sla3'ing 
the king's ministers or judges, counterfeiting the coinage or the 
„^ . ^ , Great Seal, joining with the king's enemies. The 

Sb3.t(Ut6 of . 

Treasons, definitions, however, left it possible for the judges of 
^^^'^' later times to bring under the same category offences 

implying a treasonable intent, offences which were not overt acts 
of treason, but were construed as treason. Distrust also of the 
Avignon Papacy, as the abettor of French designs, combined with 
the time-honoured jealousy of papal claims and an awakening 
. spirit of religious unrest to produce the Statutes of 

legislation, Provisors in 1351, and Praemunire in 1353, in re- 
striction of papal pretensions. The former statute 
denied the right of the Papacy to make appointments to benefices, 
and imposed heavy penalties upon any one who accepted such an 
appointment. The statute was based upon one adopted by a 
parliament at Carlisle in the last year of the reign of Edward i., 
though in fact it had not then actually become law, because at 
the moment the king had been anxious to avoid a quarrel with 
the ruling pope. The Statute of Praemunire imposed forfeiture 
and outlawry upon any one who sued in foreign courts for matters 
cognisable in the king's courts. Both statutes amounted at the 
time to little more than the enunciation of a pious opinion ; both 
were to be reaffirmed later, with somewhat increased stringency. 
These measures were partly the outcome of antagonism between 
Church and Crown, partly of the growth of anti-clerical senti- 
ment, in spite of the alliance between the churchmen and the 
popular opposition. 

In 1355 the war was renewed. The Black Prince, who had dis- 
tinguished himself at Crecy when only sixteen, was dispatched to 
The war re- Gascony ; the king himself had intended to make a 
newed, 1365. campaign, with Calais as his base, but was recalled 
from the expedition which he had undertaken, to keep the Scots 
quiet. The Black Prince from Gascony harried the French 
territory to the south-east as far as Narbonne, returned to Bor- 
deaux, and passed the spring chiefly in preparations for a summer 
campaign northwards. Meantime his father had fallen upon the 
Scots, recovered Berwick, the capture of which had drawn him 

The Years of Victory 339 

back to England, and carried fire and sword into southern Scot- 
land in the raid which is remembered as the Burnt Candlemas. 
But though Edward Balliol handed over to him his 
own hypothetical rights to the Scottish throne, and The Burnt 
Edward chose to call himself king of Scotland, the 
Burnt Candlemas had no other practical result. 

In the summer (1356) Lancaster led an expedition into Nor- 
mandy ; but the serious interest of the year attaches to the 
campaign of the Black Prince. With a raiding force of seven 
thousand men he struck north-eastward through French terri- 
tory, tin the news that PhiUp's successor on the French throne. 
King John, was with a great army on the Loire, made him wheel 
towards Tours. John, however, crossed the river somewhat 
higher at Blois, and marched southward. Southwards too 
marched the Black Prince, intending to bring the superior French 
army to battle. When the two armies actually came to close 
quarters near Poictiers, the prince's forces, more poiotiers 
Gascon than English, and comparatively ill-supphed ^®*^ ^^P*- 
with archers, seemed to be so greatly outnumbered that an 
attempt at negotiation was not immediately rej ected. The prince 
took up his position on sloping ground broken by vineyards 
and hedges, which he lined with archers. The details of the 
battle are obscure. The French adopted the English fashion of 
dismounting and fighting on foot. They were arrayed in four 
successive battles, the first having with it a few mounted men. 
These were driven off, partly by the archers, and the second great 
mass of the French endeavoured to force their way up the slope. 
The bowmen were apparently unable to accomplish much. But 
at the same time that the prince was bringing up his reserves to 
support the front ranks, a small party of horse under his lieu- 
tenant, the Captal de Buch, which had turned the flank of the 
French, fell upon their rear ; a panic ensued, the great French 
army was shattered, and King John and his youngest son Philip 
were taken prisoners. The result of the great triumph was a 
truce for two years. 

With the kings of both Scotland and France in his hands, 
Edward was in a strong position for negotiating. David was 

340 The Reign of Edward III. 

released in October 1357, under a treaty by which Scotland was 

to pay the ransom of one hundred thousand marks, an enormous 

amount for so poor a country. The subsequent 
David II. ^ .,, 1 -J. 

released, failture to pay the instalments with regulanty re- 

^'^''' duced David to accepting in 1363 the proposal that 

either Edward or his second son Lionel should succeed him on 
the throne of Scotland, regardless of the rights of his nephew 
Robert the Steward, the son of Robert Brace's daughter. The 
Estates, however, in a most unmistakable maimer, refused to 
give such a scheme any consideration whatever. In due course 
Robert ascended the throne in 1371, as the first of the Une of 
Stewart kings. 

Immediately after the ' Treaty of Berwick ' the captive King 
John also agreed to terms of peace, though he had no power to 
Difficulties of conclude a definitive treaty on his own responsibility, 
the Frencu. Meanwhile, however, France had been in wild dis- 
order. The Paris Commune, led by Stephen Marcel, was making 
a straggle for power, the commune meaning in effect the bourgeois 
class. It had successfully dominated the young regent, Charles, 
duke of Normandy — the title of the heir-apparent to the French 
throne, which had not yet been regularly superseded by that of 
' Dauphin.' Behind this anti-aristocratic revolutionary move- 
ment was the sinister figure of the yotmg king Charles of Navarre, 
the owner of great estates in Normandy, and the grandson of 
Louis X. But for the fact that he was bom only in 1330, two 
years after the first formal claim had been put in on behalf of 
Edward iii., Charles of Navarre would have had a stronger title 
to the French crown than that of Edward himself, on the same 
principles. Probably he was scheming at least for some sort of 
compromise with Edward which would have divided France 
between them. In the course of his intrigues he had acquired 
sufficient popularity to enable him to avert the acceptance of the 
treaty which would have allowed John to return to France early in 
1358. During the year Stephen Marcel was overthrown, and 
Charles of Normandy recovered the royal ascendency ; but" the 
sufferings of the unhappy country, devastated for twenty years 
by perpetual wars, and more recently by the horrible ravages of 

The Years of Decadence 341 

the Black Death, were increased in this year by the savageries of 

the peasants in the rising of the Jacquerie, and the not less terrible 

savagery with which that rising was suppressed. 

Again in the beginning of 1359 John attempted to buy peace 

by the wholesale submission of the Treaty of London. The whole 

of the ancient dominions of Henry 11., together with 

Calais and Ponthieu, were to be surrendered to the J''®^*^*^ "^ 


English king in full sovereignty, while an enormous Bretigny, 
ransom was to be paid for the French king. But f35g.;i^6o°' 
such terms were past bearing. The French rejected 
the treaty, and at the end of the year Edward opened a new cam- 
paign. He marched upon Rheims, besieged it unsuccessfully 
for a few weeks, advanced upon Burgundy which bought him off, 
and then turned upon Paris: But while he lay before Paris, the 
ill-success of his operations induced him to listen to the advisers 
who urged him to accept a peace such as France could bear ; and 
in May the preUminary Treaty of Bretigny was signed by the 
Prince of Wales and the Dauphin. Though finally ratified some 
months later by the Treaty of Calais, the settlement is always 
known as the Peace of Bretigny. The whole of Aquitaine, to- 
gether with Ponthieu, the Calais Pale, and the Channel Islands, 
was to be ceded in full sovereignty ; but not the northern half of 
the dominion of Henry 11. Edward, on the other hand, was to 
withdraw his claim to the French crown. But in the definitive 
Treaty of Calais this clause, with the corresponding surrender of 
the French king's claim to suzerainty over the ceded districts, was 
suspended for later ratification, which was never formally given. 
A ransom equivalent to half a million sterhng, about eight times 
as much as the normal revenue of England, was to be paid for 
King John. The alliances were to cease between France and 
Scotland, and between England and the Flemings. The Bretons 
were to be left to settle their own quarrel. 

in. The Years of Decadence, 1361-1377 

We need not concern ourselves with the exploits of the captains 
of free companies who continued to wage a partisan warfare in 

342 The Reign of Edward ITT. 

Normandy and Brittany. Their day came to an end when 
Charles of Blois was killed and the Montfort candidate was recog- 
The free nised in 1365 as duke of Brittany. In accordance 

companies. ^^^ ^^ Treaty of Bretigny, he did homage to the 
French not to the English king. The free companies were dis- 
persed to carry the fame of their prowess into other countries, 
and especially, under the celebrated Sir John Hawkwood, into 
Italy. Their doings no longer affected EngUsh history. In 1364 
the chivalrous but somewhat incompetent King John of France 
died in an honourable captivity in England, whither he volun- 
tarily returned upon failure of the pa3TTients of his ransom. 
Edward's own evasions were responsible for the omission to ratify 
the suspended clauses of the Treaty of Bretigny. 

John was succeeded by his son Charles v., called the Wise, who 
set himself to a systematic reorganisation of his shattered king- 
The Spanish dom. One of his difficulties lay in the groups of 
War,i366-i367. mercenaries who had played on the French side a 
part corresponding to that of the English free companies ; it was 
in order to get rid of them that he joined in the war which broke 
out in Spain between Pedro the Cruel of Castile and his bastard 
brother Henry of Trastamare, who had been moved by Pedro's 
iniquities to make a bid for the crown. The companies were 
dispatched under the command of Du GuescUn to fight for the 
pretender. Pedro appealed for help to the Black Prince, whom 
Edward had instituted prince of Aquitaine ; and in an evil hour 
the Black Prince was persuaded to aid him. In the winter of 
1366-7 he carried an army into Spain. In April he won at Najera 
a decisive victory, commonly named from the neighbouring 
Navarrete, which even the skill and courage of Du Guesclin failed 
to retrieve. Pedro was restored to the throne of Castile, but he 
made no attempt to repay the vast debt which he owed to the 
EngUsh prince. Prince Edward returned to Bordeaux with the 
fragments of an army shattered by sickness, having himself con- 
tracted a mortal disease, and with a treasury not only exhausted 
but heavily in debt. 

His rule in Aquitaine had been magnificent and conciliatory. 
In his great principality, Gascony itself, and especially the cities 

The Years of Decadence 343 

thereof, had been constantly loyal ; but to Gascony had been 

added by the treaty regions which for a long time past had owned 

the French not the English allegiance. Edward had 

° ° The Black 

only partly succeeded m winning the favour of the prtnce in 

new vassals and the new districts, in which he sought Aquitaine, 

° 1367-1368. 

to establish his own authority, partly by extending 
the privileges of the towns to the detriment of the great barons. 
Now in his financial straits the prince imposed a hearth-tax. The 
great lords, already plotting a return to the French allegiance 
which had kept their privileges uncurtailed, seized the oppor- 
tunity to appeal against the hearth-tax to King Charles as their 
suzerain. Charles accepted the appeal, on the ground that the 
renunciations of suzerainty had never been confirmed, and cited 
the Black Prince to his court. The king of England replied at the 
beginning of 1369 by resuming the title of king of France, and 
again the war broke out. 

Very different was the course which it followed from that of 
the previous years. King Charles had re-established order, 
system, organisation. His armies were commanded a disastrous 
by Du Gueschn and Oliver de Clisson, men who had ^^^' 1369-1372. 
learnt the art of war from their English adversaries. The diplo- 
macy of Charles won for his brother Philip, on whom the French 
duchy of Burgundy had recently been bestowed, the hand of 
Margaret, daughter of the count of Flanders and widow of the 
last duke of Burgundy, who brought with her the counties of 
Burgundy — which was not French — and Artois. The other 
princes of the Netherlands had also become French partisans. 
The German emperor was hostile ; the Pope was hostile ; and in 
the interval even Pedro of Castile had lost his life and his throne, 
which Henry of Trastamare had finally obtained for himself. 
The EngUsh had no alhes, and half Aquitaine had resolved to 
throw off the English allegiance. The Black Prince was paralysed 
by his increasing sickness ; and the only EngUsh success 
was the capture of the rebel town of Limoges, followed by a 
ghastly massacre of its inhabitants — the one great blot on the 
chivalric fame of the Black Prince. Early in the next year, 
1371, the prince himself returned to England, leaving the control 

344 T^^ Reign of Edward III. 

to his incompetent brother John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. 
Notable among the captains of the French was Owen of Wales, 
a great-nephew of Llewelyn. 

The French arms progressed, and in 1372 a very serious blow 
was struck by sea. John Hastings, earl of Pembroke, on whose 
LaRocheUe, father the earldom vacated by the death of 
1372. A5m:ier de Valence had been conferred, was sailing 

for Aquitaine with an army to take John of Gaunt 's place. 
Henry of Trastamare, the Spanish ally of France, sent out a fleet 
which met and defeated him off La Rochelle, destroying the 
English fleet and taking Pembroke himself prisoner. The 
command of the sea was lost, and reinforcements could now 
reach Aquitaine only by land. Before the end of the year 
nearly aU Poitou was lost, and an Enghsh parhament refused 
supplies on the ground that the navy had been ruined by 

Once more in 1373 an EngUsh army of invasion was launched 
across France from Calais under the command of John of Gaunt. 
Du Guesclin, never giving battle, hung on the rear 
Gaunt'B of the army, cut off its supplies, and harassed it 

' ■ ceaselessly. Though Lancaster ravaged the country 
as he went he could accomplish nothing more, and it was only 
with the wreck of an army that he at last reached Bordeaux. 
The partisans of England were almost entirely cleared out of 
Normandy and Brittany, and when at last a truce was signed 
at Bruges in 1375, the Enghsh, though in possession of the 
Calais Pale, actually held in Aquitaine less than at the time 
of Edward iii.'s accession. 

With the sole exception of the Black Prince's briUiant but 
meaningless campaign in Spain, the foreign wars after the Treaty 
of Bretigny present a melancholy record of almost unvarying 
failure. Though Edward ill. himself was not yet fifty at the time 
Domestic °^ ^^ treaty, his powers began to fail soon after- 
aflfairs, wards, and he was to show no more of the briUiant 

if superficial talent which made the men of his own 
day rank him among the greatest of kings. CoUapse did not set 
in until about the time of the renewal of the war in 1369. During 

The Years of Decadence 345 

these years there is little else of political importance to record. 
In 1365 there was a renewal more stringent in form, though not 
in effect, of the Statute of Praemunire ; for the practices con- 
demned continued unabated. Perhaps the most notable event 
of the time was an attempt to strengthen the English domination 
in Ireland, whither Edward sent his second son Lionel as governor 
in 1361. The Statute of Kilkenny was intended to prevent the 
blending of the Norman and Enghsh families with the native Irish. 
Intermarriage and the adoption of Celtic language and customs 
were strenuously prohibited ; but the statute was of no real effect, 
and the Normans continued to become ' more Irish than the Irish 
themselves ' in their attitude towards England and the English 

Of importance, however, to the future dynastic problems by 
which the realm of England was to be torn, were the marriages and 
the accumulated honours and estates of the king's j.. 
sons. Lionel acquired great estates in Ireland by Edward's 


his marriage with the heiress of the earl of Ulster, 
EHzabeth de Burgh, a descendant of the Clares of Gloucester ; 
whence he received in 1362 the title of duke of Clarence. 
' No son was bom to him, but his daughter married Edmund 
Mortimer, earl of March, who also had great estates in Ireland ; 
and consequently the Mortimers, and the house of York which 
descended from them, were always assured of strong support on 
the west of St. George's Channel. The death of Clarence in 1368 
increased the importance of the third brother, John of Gaunt, 
who had wedded Blanche, the heiress of Lancaster, in 1359, ^^^ 
Uke Clarence received the title of duke in 1362. After the death 
of Blanche of Lancaster, Duke John married a daughter of Pedro 
the Cruel, which gave him a very insubstantial claim to the throne 
of Castile. The three earldoms of the house of Bohun — ^Hereford, 
Essex, and Northampton — ^passed by marriage to John of Gaunt's 
son Henry and to Thomas of Woodstock, the fifth of the king's 
sons, who married respectively the two daughters of the last 
Bohun. The fourth brother, Edmund of Cambridge, afterwards 
duke of York and progenitor of the house of York in the male 
line, alone gained nothing by his marriage with Isabella of 

346 The Reign of Edward TIf. 

Castile. King Edward had carried to a much further extent 

the policy of his grandfather in enlarging the estates of members 

of the royal house. The danger of that poUcy had been made 

manifest in the reign of Edward 11., and was to be exemplified 

still more disastrously in the future. 

After 1369 parties and pohtics in England become extremely 

complicated. The clerics, with William of Wykeham as leader, 

Anti- clerical had absorbed the administrative offices, and, as a 

activity. matter of course, the bad news which came from 

France was attributed to their inefficiency. An anti-clerical 

party developed, of which John of Gaunt on his return to England 

was to be the leader ; but its first mouthpiece was the earl of 

Pembroke, who very soon afterwards was to meet with disaster 

at La Rochelle. Early in 1371 parHament petitioned for the 

removal of the clerics, and the substitution of la3njien in all the 

high offices of State. The king cheerfully acceded to the petition, 

and the lay ministers forthwith proved their own incompetence by 

basing arrangements for a subsidy on an enormous miscalculation 

of the number of parishes in England. Repeated disasters brought 

fresh demands for supphes, and in 1373 the exasperated Commons 

would only make a small grant on condition of its being strictly 

applied to the war. Up to this point the Black Prince, who was 

slowly dying, does not appear to have taken an active pohtical 

part ; but the return of John of Gaunt in 1375 was followed by 

The Black '^ active antagonism between the two brothers. 

Prince and Possibly the Prince of Wales suspected the duke of 
Lancaster. , . . 

desiring to supplant his son and heir Richard m the 

succession. The old king had fallen into a. state of premature 
imbecihty, or something not far removed from it. The duke 
assumed the leadership of the court and anti-clerical party, who 
called in the aid of the Oxford scholar, John Wichf, who was 
identifying himself with doctrines extremely distasteful to cleri- 
cahsm. On the other side Edmund Mortimer joined the Black 
Prince in associating himself with the clericals, who at the worst 
had provided a better administration than their supplanters. 
That party also was traditionally associated with constitution- 

The Years of Decadence 347 

Parliament hac^ not met for three years when it was sum- 
moned in April 1^76. The new or Good Parliament forthwith 
attacked the admmistration as its immediate pre- _. „ , 
decessor had done, but with much greater effect. A Parliament, 
committee of the Estates was appointed, in effect 
to draw up a policy of reform, with Mortimer and Courtenay, 
the bishop of London, at its head. Their attack upon the cham- 
berlain, Lord Latimer, for peculation and other misconduct, is 
accepted as the first example of impeachment — the method by 
which officers of the Crown or other public servants were brought 
to trial before the peers by the House of Commons. At this 
juncture the Black Prince died, and John of Gaunt showed his 
own hand by inviting the parliament to declare that the succes- 
sion to the crown of England could not pass through a female. 
The heir-apparent was the Black Prince's son Richard ; but next 
to him the heir-presumptive was young Roger Mortimer, son 
of Edmund and of Edmund's wife, the daughter of Lionel of 
Clarence. If Lancaster's proposal had been adopted, Roger's 
claim would have been set aside and Lancaster himself would 
have become Richard's heir-presumptive. The parliament 
which now looked upon Mortimer as its leader, refused to con- 
sider the question ; the throne was not vacant, and there was a 
prince whose right of succession was indisputable. They went 
on to draw up a petition against a number of grievances, and 
insisted on the appointment of an advisory committee of twelve 
peers nominated by parliament, without whose assent the king 
could not act. Lancaster had to give way, and the parliament 

Lancaster at once assumed the control. The provisions made 
by the parliament had not been given a statutory shape. The 
council was dismissed, and WilHam of Wykeham Lancaster 
was frightened into abject submission. A new dominant, 
parliament was called with a carefully packed House of Commons, 
and the Acts of the last parliament were promptly reversed, while 
a poll-tax was granted of a groat per head. 

The convocation of the clergy of Canterbury proved less amen- 
able. They refused to discuss a grant in the absence of the bishop 

348 The Reign of Edward III. 

of Winchester, Wykeham. Lancaster called up Wiclif to de- 
nounce clerical woridliness and wealth. The bishops summoned 
the doctor to answer for his opinions at St. Paul's. There was a 
riot in the cathedral between the Lancastrians on one side, led by 
the marshal Henry Percy, and on the other the Londoners, who 
supported their bishop, the effective leader of the churchmen. 
The mob proved too dangerous for Lancaster, who made a show 
of giving way. Counsels of moderation prevailed, and the attack 
on Wichf was suspended. The crisis was postponed till Edward's 
death four months afterwards, in June 1377. 


I. Commerce 

The thirteenth century, culminating in England with the reign of 
Edward i., was a period of increasing prosperity in spite of the 
complaints of heavy taxation and the troublesome Thirteentu 
interlude of the Barons' War. There was indeed no century 

11 1^ O CF 6 S S 

other country where war operated so little to disturb 
the avocations of ordinary men. After the first twenty years, 
France shared with England a practical immunity from foreign 
invasion ; but England actually suffered less from civil strife than 
her neighbour, because, except on the Welsh marches, private 
wars between the barons had ceased from the land. Without the 
vigorous development of a free peasantry, small occupiers of the 
land who were not in a state of serfdom, that yeoman class could 
not have been produced which, in the middle of the fourteenth 
century, supplied English captains with invincible hosts of 
archers ; and rural prosperity fostered also the effective emanci- 
pation of large numbers of the villein class, and their transference 
to the social status of the small freeholders, by the substitution 
of payment for compulsory agricultural services. 

The growing prosperity of the towns was marked by a multi- 
plication of the charters which carried with them powers of self- 
government, immunities from external control, and nie crown 
the authoritative constitution of the gilds-merchant. ™tervenes. 
But while the activity of Edward ill. in the encouragement of 
trade has caused him to be styled the father of English commerce, 
it was actually in the thirteenth century, in the reign of Edward i., 
that the Crown began to recognise commerce as an object with 
which statecraft was materially concerned, and set about fostering 
and controUing commerce with ends of its own in view. 


350 England under the Edwards 

By the time of Edward i.'s accession there was already active 
trade within the country. Within the boroughs at least crafts 
Differentia- were already becoming sharply differentiated and 
tionof crafts, subdivided, a state of things which can only operate 
where trade is brisk. The crafts were close bodies, in the sense 
that they did not permit each other to transgress the dividing 
Unes. The maker of boots and the mender of boots were for- 
bidden to trench upon each other's duties. The maker of bows 
must leave the making of arrows to the fletcher. The desire to 
limit competition doubtless had something to say in the framing 
of such regulations ; but the theoretical ground of them was the 
mediaeval doctrine that it was the business of authority to pro- 
tect the public at large by maintaining the quahty of the goods 
on the market ; and the intention was to secure the quality of 
goods by very literally making the cobbler stick to his last. The 
differentiation of trades developed the craft-gilds, the separate 
organisation of the members of the several crafts ; and presently 
the more powerful crafts captured or displaced the gild-merchant 
and appropriated the controlling authority over the trade of the 
borough. But in the reign of Edward i. the craft-gild was in a 

ft riid subordinate position ; the control lay with the gild- 

andgUd- merchant, the body of the burgesses in their mer- 

merchant, .., -a • r j -l i -l 

cantile capacity remforced by such non-burgesses 

as they chose to admit into their numbers for adequate considera- 
tion. It does not appear that there was normally antagonism 
between this body and those craft-gilds of which burgesses 
were the dominant members. Where such antagonism arose, 
there is some presumption that the craft-gild was an alien body of 
non-burgesses. This may be said with some confidence to have 
been the case with the associations of weavers and fullers, which 
were looked upon with an unfavourable eye by the burgess 
authorities. These probably originated with the colonies of 
Flemish clothworkers who had been imported as early as the 
reign of William the Conqueror, and were permitted to practise 
a necessary trade which the English themselves had not yet taken 
up. Though the alien was a necessity, he remained nevertheless 
an object of jealousy. The outsider was permitted to trade only 

Commerce 351 

at the regular markets and fairs, partly because the fees and tolls 
were a valuable source of revenue to the borough or to the market 
town's lord of the manor ; partly also because only pairs and 
at markets and fairs could the authorities exercise ™3,rkets. 
an adequate control, and detect or penalise dishonest dealing. 
To the fairs the alien brought his goods for sale, paying for the 
privilege, and upon condition of buying to the value of what he 
sold ; for money was a commodity not to be readily parted with, 
and by no means to be carried out of the country. There was a 
perpetual drain of bullion, in the form of Peter's pence and other 
papal perquisites, to the papal coffers, and it appeared necessary 
to prevent its export by strict regulations. The modem view, 
that the exchange of treasure, that is the precious metals, for 
goods rights itself automatically, was unknown. 

The English trader had not as yet become a seeker after foreign 
markets overseas. The foreign trade was for the most part in the 
hands of foreigners who brought their imports into Foreign 
England to sell, and themselves exported the Enghsh t'^a'ie. 
goods they bought. The era was dawning when this was no 
longer to be the case ; when English merchants sent out their 
own ' argosies,' and did their own trading in the commercial 
centres of the Continent. But at present the extension of 
foreign trade was the work of the associations of the commercial 
cities, chiefly of the Empire, who were shortly to develop as the 
Hansa, the Hanseatic League. By the reign of Edward i. certain 
of these towns had already been permitted to form a joint 
association with quarters of their own, enjoying privileges with 
the sanction of the Crown for which the Crown got its price, but 
subject also to strict regulation. What the foreign trader brought 
was mainly manufactured goods — ^wines from Gascony, cloths 
from the Low Countries. What the EngHsh had to sell for ex- 
port was for the most part raw material or prepared material ; 
wool and wool-feUs, hides, leather, with some lead, tin, and copper. 
The prevailing idea was still what may be called that of mainten- 
ance as opposed to that of commercial profit. The borough, the 
district, the nation, wanted to meet its own requirements by its 
own products, without any burning anxiety to produce more than 


52 England luidei- the Edtvards 

it wanted for itself in order to accumulate wealth by selling to the 
outsider. It sold to the outsider chiefly in response to the out- 
sider's unsoUcited demands, and because, not being altogether self- 
sufi&cing, it was only by doing so that it could get the goods which 
it could not produce at home in suf&cient quantities, but of which 
it stood in need. Nevertheless, the idea of producing for profit was 
making active way by the second half of the thirteenth century. 
Now Edward i. was the incarnation of the national idea. It 
would hardly be an exaggeration to say that hitherto the ' Nation ' 
d I ^^^ been not much more than an aggregate of local 
nationalised units, boroughs, shires, districts. For Edward the 
Nation was itself the unit ; and he applied that doc- 
trine to the treatment of commerce, which heretofore had been 
looked upon hardly as a national matter. The conception was 
that of a statesman ; but it was inspired by the financial neces- 
sities of the Crown. The Exchequer wanted supplies ; the richer 
the nation, the larger the supphes which the Crown could reason- 
ably hope to obtain from the goodwill of the people. But apart 
from the voluntary contributions of the Estates, most great land- 
holders already derived a substantial proportion of their income 
from tolls upon markets; the Crown more than any one else, 
because the Crown was the greatest landlord. The expansion of 
commerce would increase those revenues. One of Edward's 
earhest statutes, the Statute of Westminster I., was directed, 
among other things, to giving a definite permanent shape to a group 
of the toUs which the Crown was in the habit of exacting — the toU 
on exports at the ports, which from that time became known as 
the ■ ancient customs.' The toll was not in itself a novelty, but 
its statutory regulation brought the whole subject into the sphere 
of national concerns, involved the improvement of the organisa- 
tion for the collection of customs and inspection of goods, and, by 
substituting regulated for capricious action, gave a security which 
was in itself an encouragement to trade. It must always be borne 
in mind that in mediaeval times individual enterprise was not 
checked but encouraged by supervision and control, because the 
individual was not strong enough by himself to protect himself 
against fraud and violence. 

Commerce 355 

In another way Edward's financial necessities led him to en- 
courage a national as against a local conception of commerce. 

To avoid appeals to the Estates, the king on sundry 

° ^ Merchants 

occasions made bargams with the merchants, treat- treated as a 

ing them as a body with common interests instead i3.tionai 

of as individuals in rivalry with each other, or as 

local groups in rivalry with other local groups. In the course of 
time the Estates awoke to the fact that if the Crown were free to 
make sectional bargains, or to extend the powers formally recog- 
nised by the Statute of Westminster, they would themselves lose 
that control of the purse of which they were just becoming con- 
scious ; they forbade such sectional bargaining, and limited the 
Crown to the ' great and ancient customs.' But the king's device 
had been both a witness and an encouragement to the develop- 
ment of the national as opposed to the local conception of com- 
merce among the mercantile community. 

Until the reign of Edward i. it had been the custom of the Crown 
to seek relief from pressing necessities by negotiating loans from 
the Jews, whom it kept under its protection. For a jews and 
long time the Jews were the only body who devoted LomUards. 
themselves to the accumulation of treasure and the financing of 
their neighbours, because popular as well as ecclesiastical ethics 
prohibited usury, the lending of money at interest, as contrary 
to Christian principles. Latterly, however, their monopoly had 
been trenched upon by the. wealthy houses of the cities of Lom- 
bardy. The Jews had been objects of resentment not only to the 
populace, but to such liberal-minded men as Bishop Grosseteste 
and Simon de Montfort. They were objects of jealousy also 
because of the rehef which they gave to the Crown. No act of 
Edward's reign was more applauded than the expulsion of the 
Jews in 1290. It was indeed so popular that it undoubtedly 
facilitated the grants made to the king by the Estates in that year. 
Edward was probably actuated honestly by conscientious motives. 
The Jews could have escaped expulsion by accepting baptism, 
though their own consciences made them refuse that alternative. 
Edward, too, was at least careful, when expelling them, to protect 
them from popular resentment or injustice ; and he obtained 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. Z 

354 England under the Edwards 

credit for doing something very much to his own disadvantage. 
But, as a matter of fact, perhaps from conscientious scruples, he 
had made Uttle use of them himself ; the Lombards established 
in England were very soon doing all that the Jews had done 
before them ; and before long became the objects of a hardly less 
acute detestation. The hiring of capital for commercial purposes 
was not to be recognised as legitimate for another century ; the 
aliens, Lombards and later on Germans, who helped the Crown 
to get on without parliamentary grants were objects of jealousy 
and resentment. But the time was approaching when there 
would be EngUshmen rich enough to displace the cdiens ; and 
with the accumulation of wealth was to come its employment in 
financing businesses other than that of its owner. 

The considerations which caused Edward i. to turn his atten- 
tion to the development of commerce were still more potent with 

his grandson, whose very heavy war expenditure 
fostered was joined to a love of costly display, from which the 

treasury suffered. The double motive of Edward 
lii.'s commercial poUcy is even more conspicuous than in the 
case of Edward i. The king repeatedly endeavoured to obtain 
supplies in an extremely illegitimate maimer. He borrowed 
vast sums from the Florentines, and then ruined his creditors by 
announcing with a Ught heart that he was unable to meet his 
obhgations. He borrowed from the Flemings as much as they 
would let him have. He attempted at home to exact tallages, 
though he soon found this too dangerous. He made, hke his 
for political grandfather, private bargains with Enghsh merchants 
ends. ^jj(j ^^,j^j^ foreign merchants. But he made the de- 

velopment of the commerce both of England and of Gascony a 
very defiaite object of policy; and he directed the State control 
of it to the increase of the revenue. At the same time, he also 
employed the control of commerce as a means to political ends. 
Thus he sought to sever the count of Flanders from his association 
with Philip of France, by cutting off the commerce between the 
Flemish cities and England, and procured for himself poUtical as 
well as financial support from the same cities by restoring it ; as 
also he obtained the adhesion of Brabant by the promise of com- 

Commerce 355 

mercial privileges to the cities of that county. If the first and 
fundamental motive of the great war with France itself was the 
desire to obtain complete sovereignty over his dominions in 
France, the secondary motive was the security of the Gascon and 
Flemish trade rather than the mere desire for military glory or 
any real hankering after the French crown. 

A genuine care for commerce and industry is to be discovered 
in the king's encouragement of foreign trading and of foreign 
industrial settlements in England. The foreigner . 

traded only under severe restrictions. Except as a trader in 
member of an association he might not trade at all ; 
he was allowed to reside in England for only forty days, and while 
there he was assigned as a guest to the charge of a host who was 
in fact a custodian. Anything except food he was allowed to 
buy or sell only in bulk. To get his goods into the country at 
all, he had to pay toll at the ports. It was by no means easy for 
him to recover his debts, though here his position had been im- 
proved by Edward i. with the Statute of Merchants or Acton 
BumeU in 1283. Edward ill. sought to relax these restrictions, 
but was obliged to give way to the pressure of pubUc opinion. 
Anything which suggested to the mind of an Englishman that the 
foreigner was insidiously competing with him in the market was 
not to be endured. The foreigner was admitted not as a com- 
petitor but only because he could supply something which the 
Englishman could not produce. Edward failed to overrule the 
popular prejudice, though associations which, for sufficient 
reasons, had received special privileges— such as the merchants 
of the Hansa — were not deprived of them. The hostile attitude 
of the Enghsh mercantile community, as well as of the mob, is 
partly to be explained by the corresponding difficulties which the 
foreign commercial centres put in the way of the English mer- 
chants, who were by this time actively engaged on Continental 
commercial operations on their own account. 

More successful were Edward's efforts to plant on English soil 
industries to which Englishmen had hitherto declined to apply 
themselves. The English had hitherto been content to make only 
the roughest of cloths, and to depend for anything of a superior 

356 England under the Edwards 

character on the looms of Flanders and Brabant. The general 
rule had in some degree been modified by the intermittent 
Cloth introduction of colonies of Flemish cloth-workers, 

working. Edward more systematically than before-encouraged 

these settlements of Netherlanders, with the new result that 
EngUshmen were inspired to enter into competition with them on 
their own account ; with such success that the Enghsh woollen 
trade was before the end of the century challenging that of 
Flanders itself in the European markets. When the English took 
to weaving, the home demand for Enghsh wool became so great 
that, in the interest of the manufacturers, the export of wool was 
made almost prohibitive by the imposition of heavy export 

In spite of this, the most prominent feature in the commercial 
institutions of this reign was the establishment of the Merchants 
The staple. of the Staple. In the reign of Edward I., or possibly 
of Henry in., Enghsh merchants had formed an association for 
the export of the ' staple ' products of the country- — the wool and 
wool-feUs and other articles to which the ' ancient customs ' of 
the Statute of Westminster applied ; although it was still the 
case that the bulk of the export trade was in the hands of the 
foreigners. The regulation of the customs, and the bargaining 
of the king and with the merchants, helped to the transfer of the 
trade from the ahen to the Enghsh merchant, and encouraged the 
English merchant to push his business on the Continent. This 
tendency was given a new force when, in the reign of Edward ill., 
the monopoly of export of the staple goods was conferred upon 
the association of the Merchants of the Staple. The association 
was not a close corporation ; that is to say, admission to it was upon 
the payment of fees, and continued membership was contingent 
upon obedience to the regulations which the association was em- 
powered to make. The members traded each on his own account. 
But behind the individual was the organisation to secure him the 
fair play and recognition of his rights which he could hardly have 
obtained as an individual, and also to be in some sort his surety 
as a ' lawful ' man. Membership was open to aliens, but obviously 
the general effect was to increase the number of Enghsh merchants. 

The Rural Population 357 

The Ordinance of the Staple in 1353 fixed upon ten English 
cities, each having its corresponding port, as the staple towns, 
the only places where the staple goods might be 
bought and sold. In each of those towns the Mer- Ordinance 
chants of the Staple had their own official organisa- ° * ^P ■ 
tion for the inspection of goods and the enforcement of the com- 
pany's regulations. After some experiments in estabUshing a 
staple at different towns in the Low Countries, the Continental 
monopoly was fixed at Calais, the recently acquired possession 
of England. In return for the monopoly, the Crown received 
from the company a secure revenue, while the EngUsh traders 
through the association obtained that security which they would 
have lacked as individuals, and the foreign buyers had the corre- 
sponding guarantee of the standard and quality of the goods and 
the good faith of the traders. 

II. The Rural Population 

We saw that at the beginning of the thirteenth century the rural 
population fell into two divisions : those who were technically 
in a state of serfdom, and those who were not. The The villein, 
fundamental distinction lay in the fact that the lord had a control 
over the persons, the famihes, and the goods of the villeins or 
serfs on his property, but not over those of the freeholders. The 
villein with his family was bound to the soil ; neither he nor they 
could change their quarters without the lord's permission. His 
daughter could not be married, his sons could not enter Orders 
without the lord's leave. In theory, though not in practice, his 
goods were his lord's property, and were liable to seizure by him ; 
he could not buy his own freedom, because whatever he had was 
already his lord's ; hence. there was a curious form, in accordance 
with which the purchase of emancipation was nominally effected 
by a third party. The only escape from the condition of villein- 
age was by such purchase, by voluntary emancipation conferred 
by grace of the lord, or by residence in a chartered borough for a 
year and a day. It is not clear, however, whether in this latter 

358 England under the Edwards 

case residence was sufficient, or it was necessary for the escaped 
villein to have acquired and enjoyed burgess rights for the 

Liability for agricultural services did not of itself imply serfdom. 
Commutation of such services for payment, whether in money or 
Pro SB f "^ kind, did not necessarily imply emancipation; 
commuta- and many, perhaps most, of the freeholders owed 
some degree of service. But there was a vague 
presumption that the man who in practice owed no services was 
a freeman. The small holders in Kent, for instance, although in 
the Domesday classification they belonged to the category of 
villani, paid rents, and at the later stage, when villein and serf had 
become equivalent terms, ranked not as serfs but as freemen. 
Now the generally increasing prosperity through the thirteenth 
century and the first half of the fourteenth probably led to a 
considerable amount of actual emancipation. Prosperity and 
the increasing use of money together led on the one hand to 
commutation of services for rent, and on the other to the substi- 
tution of hired labour paid by wages for the forced labour which 
had been commuted for rent. Thus there was developed a large 
Labour for class of labourers, paying perhaps a small rent and 
wages. owing some services, but working chiefly for wages 

for the larger holders, villeins or freemen, or on the lord's de- 
mesne ; or permitted by their easy-going lords to drift away and 
find employment as journeymen in the boroughs or elsewhere. It 
can be affirmed with confidence that the tendency for rent and 
wage-paid labour to displace obligatory services was in active 
operation from the middle of the thirteenth century to the middle 
of the fourteenth ; and in a less degree, for men to pass out of the 
status of villeinage into that of freemen. That the freemen 
were a large and substantial body is witnessed, as we have already 
noted, by the regiments of archers serving for pay in the French 
wars. But precisely how far the movement had gone it is not 
possible to say. 

But in the middle of the fourteenth century this normal course 
of development was broken in upon by the visitation of the 
Black Death. A quarter of the population perished, if not more. 

The Rural Population 359 

in the great outbreaks of 1348-1349, and those, somewhat less 
virulent, of 1361 and 1369. In the first years whole villages were 
wiped out, and in others there were only a few survivors of the 
pestilence. The harvests were left rotting and the The Black 
fields were unfilled. There was po relief from outside '^^^''''^• 
sources, because Europe suffered as England suffered. Inevit- 
ably the price of food rose enormously, since the supply of it was 
altogether inadequate to the demand. In the scarcity of labour 
its price also went up enormously ; there was no competition in 
the labour market, and men would only work on their own terms ; 
they must at least have wages corresponding to the increased cost 
of provisions. The government attempted to deal with the emer- 
gency, and in 1349 issued an ordinance to that end. The argu- 
ment is not difftcult to follow. Food must be provided at reason- 
able prices, and it could not be provided at reasonable 
prices if unreasonable wages were paid for producing of Labourers, 
it. Reasonable prices and reasonable wages were 
those which had prevailed before the visitation. For those 
prices then food must be sold, and for those wages labourers must 
work. He who had food or labour to sell must sell for those 
prices and those wages. He who demanded more or paid more 
was to be penalised. To facilitate the compulsion, the law which 
forbade the villein to leave his lord's manor — a law greatly re- 
laxed in practice during the years of prosperity— was to be rigidly 
enforced. The king's ordinance was transformed into the Statute 
of Labourers two years later, in 135 1. 

This legislation was imposed by parUament. The peers and 
prelates were landlords, the knights of the shire were landlords, 
the burgesses were free landholders. We naturally jump to the 
conclusion that the legislation was actuated by class interest. 
In a sense, no doubt, this was the case. Ordinary humanity, 
without conscious selfishness, identifies the interests of the com- 
munity with its own, and a governing class will always see bare 
justice in the protection of its own interests. But ^^^ defence 

the Statute of Labourers was not a piece of tyranni- of the 

cal legislation intended to crush into servitude the 

labouring class struggling for legitimate freedom. It was an honest 

360 England under the Edwards 

if futile attempt to provide food at a reasonable price for a popu- 
lation which was threatened with starvation. The fixing of the 
price of food was as essential a part of the law as the fixing of the 
price of labour. The authoritative regulation of prices and wages 
was universally admitted as sound in principle ; no one ever 
questioned the propriety of such regulation by the gilds-merchant. 
The modern theory of competition had not come into existence. 
In the view of mediasval ethics, there was a ' just price ' for every- 
thing, including labour, and nobody had a right to take advan- 
tage of his neighbour's necessities to extract more than the just 
price. What the Statute of Labourers aimed at was simply the 
fixing of the just price for food and for agricultural labour ; and 
nobody doubted that the doing so was a legitimate function of 
government. The difficulty was that those who had food to sell, 
and those who had labour to sell, did not accept the government's 
view of a just price. 

It was after all only to a very limited extent that the legislation 
could be actually enforced. Men might be compelled to work, 
Failure of ^ut they could not be compelled to work efficiently. 
the Statute. There were plenty of ways by which the penalties for 
exceeding the regulation rate could be evaded. The labourers 
continued to get all they could, and it is scarcely surprising that 
many of the lords fell back upon their legal rights, and demanded 
unpaid labour from their villeins wherever there was no docu- 
mentary proof forthcoming that a legally valid relief from forced 
labour had been granted. There was obvious justification, so 
long as the landlord was acting in good faith. Services had been 
commuted for payment, on the assumption that the payment was 
at least an equivalent. It had been an equivalent when labour 
was cheap ; but it ceased to be an equivalent when labour was 
dear. There was no reason why a terminable arrangement made 
in one set of circumstances should not be terminated when the 
circumstances were altogether changed. Besides, from the land- 
lord's point of view, it was the villein who had forced him, by 
wantonly aggressive action, to insist upon the full measure of his 

The landlord's point of view was not without justification, for 

The Rural Population 361 

the labourer had taken a full advantage of his opportunity to 
extort the uttermost farthing when he could name his own price 
and get it. On the other hand those viUeins who were not, and 
never had been, wage-earners, who had obtained ciass-hatred 
immunity from forced labour by what they regarded Ss^iBrateii. 
as a permanent bargain for rent, who worked their own holdings, 
and perhaps employed labour themselves, now suddenly found 
themselves recalled to the position of labourers owing obliga- 
tory and derogatory service. To them, even more than to the 
labourers who were being baulked in their attempt to reap a rich 
harvest for themselves, the action of the lords presented itself 
as a tyrannical breach of faith. The seeds were sown of a class 
hatred of a kind not previously known, different from the old 
hostility between the conquered English and the conquering 
Normans. To each side it appeared that the other was the ag- 
gressor. From the pages of Piers Plowman it is easy enough to 
see that the faults were not all on one side. There was a great 
deal of flagrant oppression on the part of the lords' reeves or 
bailiffs, perhaps more than of the lords themselves, illegal violence 
for which the unfortunate peasant could get no redress. The 
peasant, on the other hand, according to the moralist, supplement- 
was extravagant, idle, and thriftless. When he had ^'^ causes, 
money in his pocket he would do no work, and fared sumptu- 
ously, if coarsely, till his money was exhausted. He was much 
readier to abuse the rich than to correct his own vices ; and so it 
was also with the rich, mutatis mutandis. Matters were not im- 
proved by the presence of the discharged soldiery back from the 
French war— the peasant soldiery who had wrought havoc among 
the chivalry of Europe. And after the peace of Bretigny, knights 
and nobles, pikemen and archers, doubtless came back with tales 
of the Jacquerie, which stirred their hearers as more than four 
centuries afterwards men were stirred by the stories of the oppres- 
sion of the peasantry in France and of the horrors of the French 
Revolution. And there was a corresponding intensification of 
class antagonism. 

In the ground thus prepared fresh seed began presently to be 
sown by the followers of John Wiclif. The new preaching was 

362 England under the Edwards 

directed primarily against ecclesiastical wealth and luxury, but 
it was easily translated into an attack upon wealth and luxury in 
general. Doctrines which insisted upon apostohc simplicity and 
wiciif. the corrupting character of the riches of the world 

could pass by an easy transition into diatribes against those who 
were endowed with this world's goods ; and contrasts between 
proud prelates and the fishermen of GaHlee into a denunciation 
of class distinctions. Presently the highest-born poHticians were 
themselves for their own anti-clerical ends making use of the 
learned doctor's theories concerning Divine grace, which laid it 
down that authority exists only in virtue of the Divine sanction ; 
hence authority which is misused has ipso facto forfeited the 
Divine sanction, has no longer a right to be obeyed, and may 
rightly be set aside. An opposition may use such an argument 
in its efforts to overthrow a government ; but it does so at its 
own peril, since the same argument may be used against it in its 
turn. For practical purposes it amounts to an assertion of the 
right of all discontented persons to rebel against authority on the 
very intangible ground that it has forfeited the Divine sanction. 
If it is open to the individual to defy authority whenever, in his 
opinion it is misused, the obvious result is anarchy. However 
Wiciif himself might defend his views from such an interpretation, 
that was a light in which they could be very easily represented 
to persons who found the estabhshed authority deaf to their 
grievances, and were beginning to believe themselves strong 
enough to take the law into their own hands. Before Edward III. 
was in his grave, England was becoming ripe for a social up- 

III. Social Conditions 

The fact that at the end of the third quarter of the fourteenth 
century a social upheaval was at hand does not mean that the 
General country was in an abnormally miserable condition, 

prosperity. Qn the contrary, until the coming of the Black 
Death it had been for more than a century particularly pros- 
perous, in spite of the political anarchy of the years following 

Social Conditions 363 

Edward i.'s death. The position of every class of society had 
been improving until the sudden check caused by the pestilence. 
The peasantry found themselves rolled back to a position from 
which they were emerging, and from which they were again 
to emerge in the natural course of economic evolution as the 
country recovered from the shock of the great catastrophe. 
But for the progress which had been made before the Black 
Death the conditions after it would not have appeared intoler- 
able. The peasantry themselves had shared appreciably in the 
conspicuous material prosperity of every other class in the 

The moral progress was not on a par with the material progress. 
The age which produced St. Louis in France, Grosseteste, Mont- 
fort and Edward i. in England, Wallace and Bruce Decadence 
in Scotland, was greater than the age whose heroes °*^ chivalry, 
were Edward iii. and the Black Prince. But this was the grand 
age of chivalrous pageantry glorified in the pages of Froissart, 
when in the upper ranks of society valour and courtesy were the 
supreme virtues. These were the days when the Prince of Wales 
served in person at the table of the royal captive of his own bow 
and spear ; when one king could challenge another with apparent 
seriousness to decide upon the fate of a kingdom by single com- 
bat ; when a lady's love was to be the reward of the valiant 
knight who for a year and a day held the Castle Dangerous against 
the wiles and stratagems of the Black Douglas. How superficial 
much of this chivalry was is illustrated by such conspicuous 
examples as that of the flower of French knighthood riding down 
the Genoese crossbowmen in their reckless charge at Crecy, or 
the Black Prince, the mirror of chivalry, ordering the hideous 
massacre of Limoges. Chivalry was for those of gentle blood ; 
it had little enough consideration for men or women of humble 
birth. Unique was the action of the Bruce, who on one occasion 
in Ireland, when retreating before a superior force, stayed the 
movement of his whole company rather than leave uncared for 
an unprotected and helpless ' lavender,' a mere washerwoman, 
in her hour of travail. The trappings of chivalry were very much 
in evidence ; its spiritual intensity was already in decay. Still, 

364 England under the Edwards 

in spite of its decadence, the true chivalric type had not wholly 
passed ; else had the portrait of Chaucer's 

' Verray parfit gentil knight ' 

never been drawn. 

The development of English nationahsm, and of Scottish 
nationalism also, has already been emphasised ; it is nowhere 
Literature. more Conspicuous than in the literature of both 
countries. In the first half of the fourteenth century a vernacular 
literature was springing up at last ; the English language was 
about to establish itself as an instrument of literary expression. 
Even now it had not superseded French, the French of the Nor- 
man aristocracy, in polite circles. As late as the reign of 
Richard 11. the ' moral ' Gower was writing in French and in 
Latin before he could learn to believe that English would serve 
his purpose equally well. For a long time polite literature con- 
tinued to consist mainly in the French romances of Charlemagne, 
Alexander the Great, King Arthur, and other more or less his- 
torical heroes whose actual doings had very little connection 
with the romantic mythology. But the fiery war-songs in which 
the north countryman Laurence Minot celebrated the wars of 
English Edward ill. were a genuinely popular product ; and 

ballads. ^j^g ballads of the Robin Hood cycle, on which those 

which have come down to us are based, were already coming into 
being. Sir John Mandeville wrote his highly imaginative book 
of Travels first in Latin and then in French ; but as early as 1356 
he considered it worth his while to render it into English ' that 
every man of my nacioun may undirstonde it.' 

About 1362 but not earher came the first edition of what may 
be fairly called the first great poem in the English language, 
wuiiam William Langland's Vision of Piers the Plowman. 

Langiana. Langland wrote in his own dialect, that of the 
western midlands, which was very soon to be driven out of the 
field as the standard of literary English. English it is, but still 
except to the expert very nearly unintelhgible. The Vision pic- 
tures the vices of the whole social order, of every rank from top 
to bottom of t^e scale, with unsparing condemnation. Moralists 

Social Conditions 365 

such as Langland see the evil that surrounds them in very glar- 
ing colours : we can no more reconstruct the England of his day 
from his delineations, than we can reconstruct imperial Rome 
from Juvenal ; but both provide us with invaluable materials for 
such a reconstruction. The present point, however, is that 
Langland's poem, with Mandeville's Travels, mark the point 
where a demand has arisen for a literature in the Enghsh tongue ; 
when work intended to be popular must thenceforth be written 
in the language of the people ; when the language of the people, 
though with dialectic variations, has become the language of the 
whole people, the national language. It is interesting to note 
that this is precisely the moriient when a statute ordained, in 
1362, that the vernacular is to be the language of the law courts, 
although for centuries afterwards the lawyers preserved a peculiar 
jargon of their own. 

Almost immediately afterwards the dawn broke fully. John 
Wiclif was beginning his great work of rendering the Scriptures 
in the vulgar tongue ; choosing at first his own York- John wioiif. 
shire dialect, but very soon finding his purpose better served by 
adopting that of London and the more cultured districts of the 
south-east, the dialect which was to dominate the rest and to 
become the Enghsh of Uterature. In Scotland, the northern 
dialect, which had been that of Minot, held its own ; and the 
story of Bruce, of the Scottish war of independence, the poem of 
Bishop Barbour of St. Andrews, holds to Scottish Barbour, 
literature a position corresponding to that of the fourteenth- 
century creators of English literature. Nevertheless, one of 
these, and the greatest of them, was for a century and a half after 
his own death to find his truest disciples not in England but in 
Scotland. Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece, the Canterbury Tales, 
was not actually written till the reign of Richard 11., Chaucer. 
as some of Shakespeare's greatest plays were written when 
James i. was king. But as Shakespeare was essentially an Eliza- 
bethan, so Chaucer was essentially a child of the Edwardian age. 
In the master's hands, English suddenly displayed its true char- 
acter as a consummate vehicle for poetry. In England at least 
he was not to be followed by another master till many years had 

366 England under the Edwards 

passed ; but he made his own language the inevitable language 
of EngUsh Uterature. And he not only made the national lan- 
guage, but his works have left to us a picture of English society, 
vivid, human, and utterly convincing, hardly to be paralleled 
outside Shakespeare. There are aspects of the later mediaeval 
Ufe deUghtfully set forth by the Frenchman Froissart ; but it is 
to Chaucer that we must turn to see the live Enghshmen and 
Englishwomen of his day— knight and squire, parson and plough- 
man, merchant and cook, prioress and wife of Bath — the healthy 
folk of a healthy nation : every one of whom may be met any day 
of the week in the twentieth century. 


I. The Minority of Richard il, 1377-1384 

Lancaster had retained a precarious ascendency while the old 
king was still lingering on. His enemies had imagined or pre- 
tended that he had immediate designs on the throne, An orderly 
but he never said or did anything that could fairly accession, 
be construed as disloyal to the Black Prince's son. What he 
actually had sought was to secure for himself and his offspring, 
instead of for the Mortimers, the reversion of the crown in case 
Richard should die without heirs. When the old king's life 
flickered dolefully out the duke made no bid for a dictatorship ; 
although there was an uncomfortable atmosphere of distrust and 
want of confidence, no one was anxious to precipitate a crisis. 

The first act of the reign was the appointment by the assembly 
of magnates of a council which was in effect a council of regency, 
for the king himself was only ten years old. On it the parties 
were very carefully balanced. For greater security, none of the 
king's three uncles was a councillor ; the leader of Lancaster's 
own party was the earl of Arundel, that of the opposing party 
was the earl of March. The bishop of London was balanced by 
the bishop of Salisbury, and Lord Latimer, whom the Good 
Parliament had impeached, by Lord Cobham. There was prob- 
ably a like division among the half dozen knights who com- 
pleted the council. Among the ' coronation honours ' it is to 
be noted that the king's youngest uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, 
was made earl of Buckingham, Mowbray became earl of Notting- 
ham, and Lancaster's ally, Henry Percy, became earl of North- 
umberland. Lancaster himself was the only duke : it was not 
till some years later that his brothers Edmund of Cambridge and 


368 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

Thomas of Buckingham were made respectively dukes of York 

and Gloucester. 

Nearly four months passed between Edward's death and the 

assembling of Richard's first parliament in October. They had 

m^ ^ . been months of disaster. The moment demanded 

TUe first 

parliament, a particularly strong and efficient administration, 

and the composite council was not at all efficient. 
The trace of Brages had ran out, and Du Guesclin's armies were 
overmnning Aquitaine. Since the alliance of France with Castile, 
and Pembroke's defeat at La Rochelle, the English had com- 
pletely lost the command of the narrow seas. In the late 
summer of 1277 Franco-Spanish fleets were making descents 
upon the English coast, and ravaging from the Isle of Wight to 
the Thames estuary. Parliament when it met showed that its 
temper was very much that of the Good Parliament of the previ- 
ous year. It demanded and obtained a reconstruction of the 
council, which was accordingly very nearly cleared of its Lan- 
castrian members ; and, with direct reference to John of Gaunt's 
abrogation of the acts of the Good Parliament, it demanded and 
obtained recognition of the principle that no Act made in parlia- 
ment should be repealed except by the consent of parliament. 
Parliament and clergy then both voted substantial subsidies for 
the war ; but the vote was accompanied by an admonition that 
it was to be regarded as quite exceptional ; that with sound 
management the normal revenue ought to have been sufficient ; 
and that sound management must now be guaranteed by the ap- 
pointment of two special treasurers to supervise its expenditure. 
The treasurers named were two prominent London citizens, 
William Walworth and John PhiUpot. The houses even asserted 
successfully for the time the principle that the great officers of 
State should be directly appointed by parliament. 

The reorganised council set about raising a great fleet to re- 
cover the command of the seas, and displayed its anxiety to avoid 
The war partisanship by somewhat injudiciously appointing 

cotttinues. Lancaster to the command — for the duke's military 
record was one of invariable failure. In 1378 the new fleet was 
indeed strong enough to drive the French off the narrow seas ; 

The Minority of Richard II. 369 

but land operations, notably an attack on St. Malo, failed igno- 
miniously. The one real success was achieved not by the govern- 
ment but by the enterprise of John Philipot, who on his own 
account equipped a fleet which dealt effectively with the mixed 
fleets of privateers or pirates, Scots or French, who continued to 
give trouble on the high seas. 

The money was spent with hopelessly inadequate results ; 
and parliament, meeting in 1379, voted a poll-tax ranging from 
fourpence up to ten marks for the duke, according to 
ranks. It produced only about half of the revenue a graduated 
expected ; and the fleet which was equipped was 
shattered in a gale. The disgusted parliament, which met at 
the beginning of 1380, abolished the council, appointed a number 
of new officers, and voted fresh subsidies, but the money was again 
wasted on a futile expedition in France which accomplished 
nothing. Again in the autumn a pariiament had to be called ; 
again it denounced mismanagement, but admitted that the money 
must be raised, and again it elected to raise it by a poll-tax in 
preference to the ordinary subsidy, the ' tenths ' and ' fifteenths ' 
assessed upon land and goods. The propertied ^ii^ a new- 
classes were of opinion that the labouring classes pou-t^-^- 
were taking more than their share of the national wealth, and 
defraying less than their share of the expenditure. The poll-tax 
was to be a shilling a head ; every township, that is, was to pay 
a shilling for each individual over sixteen years of age, except 
beggars ; but within the township the charges were to be gradu- 
ated, no one paying less than one groat or more than sixty. The 
carrying out of the arrangements for the tax devolved upon a 
new treasurer. Sir Robert Hales. 

The poorer the township, the more hardly the tax pressed upon 
its poorest members. The average of a shilling a head had to 
be collected, and if there were no well-to-do families paying on a 
higher scale, everybody had to produce his or her whole shilling 
The result was that to evade the tax false returns Evasion and 
were made all over the country, but especially in enforcement, 
the north and west, of the number of taxable adults. The com- 
monest plan was to return hardly any names except those of 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. i. 2 A 

2,^0 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

married couples. In Yorkshire, Cornwall, and Devon, the 
population had apparently dropped to less than half since the 
collection of the last poll-tax. The fraud was palpable, and 
commissioners were appointed to investigate the facts, extract 
the full tax, and punish resistance. The arrogance and violence 
of the conduct of the officers in carrying out their necessary task 
kindled the spark which broke into a flame of insurrection. 

According to tradition, a tax-collector insulted the daughter 
of Wat the Tiler of Dartford, who slew him ; the peasants 
The Deasant gathered to the aid of their comrade ; from Dart- 
revolt, June ford the excitement spread, and half Kent was im- 


mediately in arms. Wat of Dartford may be a 
mythical person ; at any rate he is pretty certainly not to be 
identified with the Wat Tyler who actually led the Kentish in- 
surgents, who appears in some documents as being from Maid- 
stone and in others as a Colchester man. The legend is at best 
doubtful, though it probably represents accurately enough the 
way in which the inquisition was carried on. Violent riotings 
had already begun in Essex before ist June ; through the first 
ten days of June the Kent men were gathering into a substantial 
army with the indubitable Wat Tyler as their captain. By the 
nth they were marching on London ; on the 12th they were 
•distributed between Blackheath and Lambeth ; they had mobbed 
the king's officers, lawyers and unpopular landlords, broken 
prisons, and burnt Archbishop Sudbury's palace. Their wrath 
-was especially directed against the men whom they supposed 
to be responsible for governm,ent — the Archbishop, the Treasurer 
Hales, and John of Gaunt. They could not get to London 
because the mayor had pulled up the drawbridge of the London 
Bridge over the Thames. Meanwhile the Essex men had been 
behaving in very similar fashion, and were now gathered in 
force on the other side of London at Mile End. 

The young king, or at least the magnates in the Tower of 
London, seem to have been fairly paralysed : the boy was very 
soon to show that he was the best man among them. Mani- 
festly the London mob was in sjTnpathy with the insurgents ; 
two at least of the aldermen, John Horn and Walter Sibley, 

The Minority of Richard II. 371 

were in collusion with them. On the 13th Sibley admitted 

them over the drawbridge. They burnt Lancaster's palace of 

the Savoy unchecked : they attacked the Temple, 

■^ The msur- 

the home of the lawyers. They burnt the prisons gents enter 

of the Fleet and Newgate. They did not loot ; 5;3t'Jf "^^ 
they professed and believed themselves to be loyal 
to the king, and determined to punish the men whom they called 
traitors : as yet thej' observed a considerable discipline. 

That night the magnates in the Tower made up their minds 
to negotiate. In the early morning proclamation was made 
that Richard would meet the commons at Mile End. Thither the 
king went accompanied by a few of the magnates and an excited 
mob. At Mile End his conference with the insurgent leaders 
lasted long. The demands they there put forward were for the 
abolition of compulsory services and for free tenancies at a uni- 
form rate of fourpence an acre. There was to be a _. „,, _ ^ 

^ The Mile End 

general amnesty ; but for the time being the king meeting, 
would not commit himself as to the punishment 
of ' traitors.' Clerks were set to work copying and distribut- 
ing these ' charters.' Before the king went back Tj'ler had 
slipped away, joined the band of insurgents who had been left 
on guard at the Tower to prevent the escape of Sudbury and 
Hales, and broke into the Tower itself. Nobody ventured to 
resist them. They hunted out their victims, dragged them off 
to Tower Hill, and cut off their heads. That night witnessed 
many scenes of violence, several murders, and notably the mas- 
sacre of sundry Flemings, who were special objects of aversion. 
As the insurgents and the London mob got more out of hand, 
respectable citizens were becoming anxious to organise resist- 
ance. Nevertheless, it was resolved that Richard should once 
more try negotiation. 

The insurgents were invited to meet him this time at Smith- 
iield, whither he went with a retinue, many of them wearing con- 
cealed armour. Tyler had drawn up his men in „. . .^. 

■' ^ The Smith- 

ordered ranks. As to the details of what followed field meeting, 

after the king's arrival, accounts vary It is clear, 

Jiowever, that Tyler rode out to confer with the Idng, and probable 

372 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

that he formulated a new series of demands in addition to those 
which had been conceded on the previous day — an exceedingly- 
comprehensive programme of reforms. But as to the climax 
there is no doubt. Tyler made some movement which caused 
the mayor William Walworth, who was at the king's side, to draw 
his dagger and strike at the insurgent leader, who was then cut 
down by one of the king's squires. The peasants saw their 
leader fall ; the cry ran through the ranks : ' Treason ! They 
have slain our captain.' There was a sudden bending of bows ; 
in another moment the royal party would inevitably have been 
shot down, but the boy king dashed forward towards the rebel 
ranks before any one could stop him, crying, ' I will be your chief 
and captain ; follow me to the fields without ' ; and with 
amazing presence of mind began to walk his horse towards the 
open meadows. The insurgents in a sort of fascination began, 
to stream after him, joined by some of the royal retinue ; but 
Walworth hurried back to the city, and before an hour had 
passed was returning to Smithfield with a large force at his back. 
The citizens were ready enough to answer a call to arms as soon 
as the authorities ventured to make it ; Walworth would have- 
done so himself at an earlier stage had his counsel not been over- 
ruled. They arrived on the scene while Richard was still parley- 
ing with the insurgent leaders. Precisely what promises he had 
made, or was making, remains uncertain ; but it is perfectly clear 
that the bulk of the men who had been assembled believed that 
the king was going to right their wrongs, and that they could 
disperse to their homes in safety. Under that delusion the horde- 
broke up. 

Verbal promises and the written charters, which had been 
issued in considerable numbers on the 14th, the day of the Mile 
The -word of End meeting, were waste breath and waste paper, 
a king. ^ commission with arbitrary powers was forthwith 

appointed to deal with London ; several of the rebel leaders were 
seized and hanged. When the Essex men understood that no 
concessions at all were going to be made, they rose in arms again, 
but were easily dispersed. Kent submitted. In both counties 
special assizes were held, at which about a hundred of the ring'- 

The Minority of Richard II. 373 

leaders were tried and condemned. The punitive proceedings 
were all over ten weeks after the insurgents had entered London. 

Apart from Kent and Essex, the only region where the peasant 
insurrection took an acute form was East Anglia, Norfolk, 
Suffolk, and Cambridge, with the immediately The rising in 
neighbouring shires. In the north, in the Midlands, ■^^^* Angiia. 
and in the west, there were merely isolated disturbances. East 
Angha was peculiarly characterised by the presence among the 
rebels of members of the upper classes. In the eastern counties 
the risings were very largely directed against the monastic land- 
lords, under whom it would seem that a specially large proportion 
of the tenants were holders in villeinage, those being counties where 
in general free tenants were numerous. Whatever the reason may 
be, the subsequent history of these regions points to the fact 
that the monasteries there had a very much worse reputation as 
landlords than those in other parts of the country. They were 
certainly now the obj ect of special popular animosity. The risings 
there began at the moment when news from London gave the 
impression that the peasants of Kent and Essex were achieving 
a decisive victory. In the three counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and 
Cambridge, the rebels during the first week appeared to have 
made themselves master of the situation ; in another week the 
vigorous soldier-bishop, Despenser of Norwich, who knew his 
own mind and was a hard fighter, had shattered one body after 
another of the insurgents, captured and hanged several of their 
leaders, and in effect completely suppressed the risings. 

The last act of the peasant revolt is reached with the parlia- 
ment which assembled at the end of the year. That parliament 
was invited to declare that the charters issued by The pariia- 
the king had been ultra vires and void, and had mentofiasi. 
been properly repudiated as having been extorted under duresse. 
The Commons were emphatic in their approval, as well as the 
Peers. No one had power to make such concessions without 
the consent of parliament, and on no consideration whatever 
would parliament have granted them. After this declaration 
they were satisfied with drawing up a list of nearly two hundred 
ringleaders, who still deserved to be punished, and petitioned 

374 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

for a general amnesty for the rest. An indemnity was of course 
granted also to persons like Walworth and the bishop of Nor- 
wich, who had taken upon themselves the responsibility for 
hanging rebels without legal authority. Nothing was conceded 
of all that the peasants had demanded. 

The peasant revolt is the most picturesque episode in the course 
of a reign which abounded with dramatic incident. Its most 
picturesque feature is the conduct of the boy king at Smithfield ; 
its most painful side is to be found in the repudiation of his 
promises, promises which he may perhaps be excused for making 
with the knowledge that it was beyond his power to ensure their 
being carried out, but the spirit of which he was bound in honour 
to observe to the utmost of his power. It is to be noted that at 
the time of the crisis his three uncles were all absent, Lancaster 
being in Scotland, and Buckingham on the Welsh marches. 
This may to some extent account for the paralysis with which 
the government was affected when the swarms of insurgents from 
Kent and Essex rolled down upon London. 

All the accounts that we have of the peasant revolt are from 

the pens of writers who were entirely hostile ; they were on the 

side of the monasteries, on the side of the archbishop. 
Our accounts ^ 

hostile to tiie on the side of the landlords ; and they were parti- 
peasan ry. cularly opposed to the whole popular movement so 
far as LoUardy, Wiclifite ideas, could be associated with it. It 
may be assumed therefore that there was a good deal more 
honesty of intent, a good deal more real reason among the leaders 
of the revolt, than they were credited with by the chroniclers. 
Even the chroniclers are disposed to excuse the peasantry as 
the dupes of wicked demagogues ; and we may legitimately 
suppose that they exaggerated the wickedness of the demagogues. 
Consequently some modem writers seem to have been urged to 
the opposite extreme of retaUating by exaggerating the iniquities 
of the governing class and attributing the whole business to the 
monstrous incidents of villeinage. 

Now it is to be remarked that nothing more than a small local 
disturbance was to be found anywhere outside the nine south- 
eastern counties — that is Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, and the 

The Minority of Richard II. 375 

five counties next to them, Cambridge, Hertford, Middlesex, 
Surrey, and Sussex, the group of counties forming the most pros- 
perous portion of the kingdom, the most populous, cuaracter of 
and, south of the Wash, the portion in which there ^^^ rising, 
was the greatest amount of free tenancy. The revolt began 
simultaneously in Kent and Essex, spreading afterwards to the 
other counties named. It is true that the Essex men clamoured 
that they should be no longer called bond but free. But the Kent 
men actually were free, not viUeins, not bound to the soil but 
always, or nearly always, rent-paying tenants, with no liabiUties 
for ignominious services. It is not to be supposed that the Kent 
men led the revolt out of sympathy with the villeins in other 
parts of the country, while the districts where villeinage was most 
prevalent were not moved to rise at all. The villeins of the 
eastern counties doubtless felt the hardship of their own case 
the more by contrast with the numerous freeholders ; but, 
though their first demand was for deliverance from villeinage, 
they were extensively joined by people whom villeinage did 
not touch. Moreover the leaders, Wat Tyler himself and those 
in East Anglia, were credited with a highly revolutionary pro- 
gramme of communistic democracy ; the fanatical and entirely 
honest priest John Ball was pretty obviously looking for a com- 
munistic millennium ; and the mobs which broke yjugijiage 
into the Tower of London and besieged Norwich, was 
were clearly under the impression that there was 
going to be a general subversion of the system of government, 
whereby the peasantry would become the rulers. The London 
mob which sided with the insurgents did not consist of villeins ; 
and in the lists of ringleaders which were drawn up, one half 
were Londoners, a considerable number were beneficed clergy, and 
there was a sprinkling of names belonging to the gentry. It is 
clear that the Essex leaders were acting in collusion with the 
Kent leaders, even if Tyler himself was not actually an Essex 
man ; it is clear that the rising of East Anglia was an organised 
product of the initial success of the organised rising of Kent and 
Essex. We are forced to the conclusion that the organisers or, 
prophets of the revolt were not in the first place concerned with 

376 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

the particular grievances of villeinage, but were revolutionaries 
who utiUsed the grievances of villeinage to secure the support 
of the whole \dllein class. Of their followers, indeed, three- 
fourths wanted only cheap land and free tenancy, \nth the right 
of alienation and the aboHtion of all monopohes and privileges 
enjoyed by the owners of the soil. With the to\vn mobs the 
appeal was to the class which had grown up to a great extent 
during the last hundred years, of journeymen who had no hope 
of becoming master-craftsmen, and of small men who found 
that the to^vn government had become a monopoly of the big 
men. The whole movement had the character of a rising of 
the poor against the rich, bom of a class antagonism, intensified 
by the recent insistence of the richer class upon their technical 
rights and privileges, and by their partial success in checking 
through legal machinery the immense rise in wages, which but 
for that machinery would have been the outcome of the pressing 
demand for labour consequent upon the Black Death. 

The last efforts of armed revolt were completely suppressed 

within three months of its first conception. The landowners 

had won. But the revolt had only failed to produce 

disappear- ^t a blow the results which normal economic causes 

ance of .^j^gre tending to bring about ; results which but for 


the Black Death might very probably have already 

arrived. However strenuously landlords might insist upon their 
rights to forced labour when paid labour was abnormally costly, 
they found as they had been finding before the Black Death that 
paid labour was more efficient than forced, and money rents more 
serviceable than service rents. In the course of the next half 
century villeinage very nearly disappeared. When the demand 
for labour ceased to be in excess of the supply, wages sank auto- 
matically to their normal level ; and the adjustment took place 
the more quickly because landowners, instead of bringing back 
under the plough much of the land which had gone out of culti- 
vation, began to perceive that they could make larger profits at 
less cost by turning it into pasture for which little labour was 
demanded. This was a development which was hardly felt at 
first, but began to assume a serious character a hundred years 

The Minority of Richard II. 377 

later. Here, however, the point to be emphasised is that the 
disappearance of villeinage is not to be attributed to the peasant 
revolt at all but to the normal operation of economic causes when 
normal economic conditions were restored. 

In January 1382, when Richard became fifteen, he married 
Anne of Bohemia, the sister of King Wenceslaus, who was also 
emperor designate. The alliance might have been Tie Great 
valuable if Wenceslaus had not proved a particularly sciiism, 1378. 
incapable prince. Some three years earlier the Great Schism 
had begun. In 1378 the papal election was once more held in 
Rome, not at Avignon, because Pope Gregory was in Rome when 
he died. The French cardinals did not venture to resist the 
election of an Italian, Urban vi., as Gregory's successor ; but six 
months later they repudiated the Roman election, and chose a 
Frenchman who was called Clement vi. Urban and Clement 
each claimed to be the true pope : France, Scotland, and Castile 
supported Clement, while England as a matter of course sup- 
ported Urban. Wenceslaus having taken the same side there 
were hopes that the foixes of the empire and of the legitimate 
papacy would back England in her quarrel with France — a hope 
which was, however, doomed to disappointment. The Schism 
was the occasion of a melancholy fiasco— the Flemish „. piemisii 
crusade of the bishop of Norwich in 1383. In 1382 crusade, 


the count of Flanders was expelled by the burghers, 
led by Philip, the son of James van Artevelde, and appealed to 
young King Charles vi., who had just succeeded Charles v. on the 
French throne. Philip van Artevelde naturally appealed to 
England ; but while the Enghsh procrastinated the French 
attacked the Flemings and crushed therh at the battle of Roose- 
beke. The political issue was veiled inefficiently enough by 
the pretence of a crusade on behalf of the orthodox Flemings 
against their schismatical suzerain ; the command was taken by 
the warlike bishop who had suppressed the insurrection in East 
Anglia ; voluntary contributions poured in ; but unhappily 
when the bishop went to Flanders in 1383 his campaigning failed 
disastrously, and in five months he was back in England. 

In the same year ended the life of John Wiclif. The teachings 

378 The Gratidsons of Edward III. 

of the father of the Reformation had not been recognisably 
heretical until his repudiation of the accepted doctrine of tran- 
Louardy. substantiation in 1380. His theories of Divine grace, 
ecclesiastical poverty, and other matters which had aroused the 
vvTath of the clergy, were questions of poUtics rather than of ortho- 
doxy, attractive as being anti-clerical without being alarming as 
heretical. A vigorous campaign against the new doctrine, which 
had frightened off Wiclif's old protector, John of Gaunt, was 
opened by Archbishop Courtenay, Sudbury's successor at Can- 
terbury, in 1382 ; though Wiclif, shut out of Oxford, was allowed 
to pour forth pohtical and theological pamphlets from his 
rectory at Lutterworth till his death in December 1383. The 
bcisis of Wiclif's teaching is to be found in that belief in the direct 
personal relations between the individual and his Maker, the 
rejection of an intermediary authority, which was to be the root 
principle of Protestantism. But LoUardy, the sum total of the 
views associated with the name of Wiclif, had three aspects. 
One was the anti-clericalism which gave it its initial hold upon 
the laity. The second was the communism which Wiclif did 
not preach directly, but for which a logical basis could be found 
in his teaching— a social theory which appealed to the poor, 
while it appeared outrageous to persons of property. The third 
was its rejection of theological doctrines universally recognised 
as orthodox, whereby it appeeiled vividly to a few audacious and 
inquiring spirits, but scandalised the great majority. Anti- 
clericalism had been active at intervals from time immemorial ; 
it had been strengthened by the Avignon Papacy ; it was 
strengthened still more by the Great Schism ; and possibly it 
derived some additional strength from LoUardy ; but it did not 
spring from WicHf's teaching. LoUardy, identified with the 
revolutionary doctrines of John BaU, was sternly condemned by 
all the forces of respectability ; and LoUardy as a positive re- 
ligious movement, was condemned alike by the clergy and by 
the vast majority of the laity, who were never opposed to its 
persecution. The seed was sown ; it was never eradicated, but 
the harvest was not yet. 

With 1384 the young king entered upon his eighteenth year. 

The Rule of Richard II. 379 

He had just succeeded in getting rid of the domination of the 
earl of Arundel, and in raising Michael de la Pole to the Chan- 
cellorship. From his eighteenth year we may date the begin- 
ning of his personal rule. 

II. The Rule of Richard ii. 

Though Richard had been but ten years old when he came 
to the throne there had never been a formal regency or a formal 
'minority.' He had been given as tutors Lan- ^jj^jjin^'s 
caster's ally the earl of Arundel, and Michael de la friends, 


Pole. Michael's father and uncle were Hull mer- 
chants, who had in effect purchased an entry into public life by 
large loans to the government in the early years of Edward iii. 
Michael himself was the first member of such a family who was 
raised to a place among the baronage. He was a capable, honest, 
and experienced official, whom all parties perhaps regarded as a 
safe man, who would not attempt to usurp an undue authority. 
Relying upon, and possibly incited by him, Richard wished to 
shake himself free of domination and to assume an effective 
control of government. Others upon whom he relied were the 
prominent London merchant Nicholas Bramber, and the Chief 
Justice Tressilian — to whom was to be added the young earl 
of Oxford, Robert de Vere, who was little older than Richard, 
and was the one member of the greater aristocracy whom the 
king counted as a friend — unhappily a very worthless one. Such 
a group could give but very inadequate support to a youthful 
and impulsive prince if he chose to quarrel with the principal 
magnates of the realm. 

The dismissal of Arundel and the elevation of Pole to the 
position of chancellor did not lead to an immediate breach. But 
Pole's policy, though sound in principle, was unpopular. He 
wanted peace with France on reasonably honourable terms, and 
administrative reforms at home. The king's uncles on the other 
hand wished to assert John of Gaunt's claim to the Richard and 
throne of Castile, which was hardly compatible with Lancaster, 
the real termination of the French war ; they did not want 

380 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

administrative reforms, which would take the domination out of 
their own hands ; and they had behind them a popular opinion 
not at all eager to make peace with France till the repeated failures 
of the last fifteen years were in some sort compensated. 

Still after the Flemish crusade Lancaster himself negotiated a 
French truce. But in the meanwhile the Scots lords, over whom 
the Scots king, Robert 11., exercised no effective control, raided 
the north of England. John of Gaunt in retaliation marched to 
Edinburgh, and then marched home again without haying found 
any Scots army to fight, in strict accordance with the now estab- 
lished rule of Scottish warfare. When a parliament met in 
May there were unseemly altercations between the young king 
and Arundel. The relations between Richard and Lancaster 
became exceedingly strained, and each apparently began to 
suspect the other of aiming at his life. Pole obtained authority 
with difficulty to negotiate a peace with France, but the ne- 
gotiations failed. 

A sort of reconciliation, however, was patched up between 
Richard and Lancaster at the beginning of 1385 when another 
J,. . . Scots raid, accompanied by a considerable contin- 

invadeBScot- gent from France, caused the king himself, accom- 
panied by Lancaster, to invade Scotland. Again 
the Scots avoided battle. The English indulged in the usual 
work of destruction, burning Edinburgh itself, and then marched 
back again. Meanwhile the throne of Portugal had become 
vacant, and was being contested for by King John of Castile and 
the Portuguese prince, who presently established himself as King 
John I. of PortugcJ. For the sake of the English aUiance, and 
in order to destroy his own rival, this King John was ready to 
help John of Gaunt to the throne of Castile. The result of this 
situation was that when the English parhament met in the 
autumn of 1385, a substantial grant was made for an expedition 
to Portugal under the command of Lancaster. Consequently 
during the next critical years in England Lancaster himself was 
ParUament, out of the country, and the ambitions of his younger 
1385. brother Thomas, recently created duke of Glouces- 

ter, had free play. The unambitious Edmund of Cambridge 

The Rule of Richard II. 381 

had at the same time been made duke of York. This parliament 
is notable for a quarrel between the clergy and the Commons, 
who presented a petition suggesting that the temporalities of 
the Church were a suitable subject for confiscation by the State. 
The Commons, in fact, were disturbed by the expenditure, and 
sought to extract from the king promises to curtail his personal 
extravagance, and to submit his household to control, which 
he refused ; following up the refusal by making a particularly 
large gift to the earl of Oxford, whom at the same time he created 
marquis of Dublin. 

Before another parliament met in the autumn of 1386 Lan- 
caster was out of the country, and there had been a very serious 
scare of a French invasion which had, however, collapsed after 
great preparations. Pole, now earl of Suffolk, asked for sub- 
sidies ; parliament, led by Gloucester and Arundel, refused to 
discuss supply until the king dismissed his ministers. The king 
made Oxford duke of Ireland, and declined to dismiss so much 
as a scullion at the bidding of parliament. In the debates which 
ensued ominous references were made to the de- The quarrel 
position of Edward 11. Gloucester personally inter- °^ ^^**- 
viewed his nephew, with the result that Richard yielded and 
consented to the dismissal of Suffolk, who was then impeached 
on various charges, and in spite of a very adequate answer on 
every point was condemned to forfeiture and imprisonment. 
When parliament went on to appoint a commission which should 
in effect control both the State and the king's household, Richard 
ventured to dismiss them with defiant words, released Suffolk, and 
betook himself to the Midlands, where he hoped to raise support 
for himself ; while the government remained in the hands of 
the newly appointed council with Gloucester, Arundel, and his 
brother Bishop Arundel of Ely at the head of it. 

Richard summoned to his side most of the judges, and procured 
from them a pronouncement known as the Opinions of Notting- 
ham, declaring that the late proceedings were contrary to the 
royal prerogative, and that the persons responsible for them 
were guilty of high treason. In spite of very plain warnings 
even from loyahsts, and of the impossibility which was soon 

382 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

obvious of raising the shire levies in his support, Richard em- 
ployed Oxford to raise a mercenary force. Gloucester and 
Arundel were also collecting troops, though neither was doing so 
openly. In November the king returned to London ; Gloucester 
and Arundel with their partisans assembled at Waltham and 

issued a declaration appealing of treason five of the 
The Lords x-x- o ■ -n 

AppeUants, king's advisers — Oxford, Suffolk, Tressihan, Bram- 
Nov. 1387. ^^^^ ^^^ ^j^g archbishop of York. With Gloucester 
and Arundel was now associated the earl of Warwick, and im- 
mediately afterwards the two young earls, Thomas Mowbray of 
Nottingham and Henry of Derby, the eldest son and at present 
the representative of the absent duke of Lancaster. The group 
were subsequently known as the Lords Appellants. 

Of the five who had been appealed four retreated out of reach 
or, at least, out of sight ; Oxford hurried to Chester where he 
raised a considerable force. But when he marched south his 
troops dispersed without fighting as soon as they came in sight 
of an opposing army at Radcot Bridge. Oxford himself escaped 
to France. 

The king was helpless, and the Merciless or Wonderful Parlia- 
ment, which met in February 1388, entered upon a vindictive 

„ ^ programme. Gloucester, followed by the rest of 
The Wonder- ^ » -^ 

fui Pariia- the Lords Appellants, demanded before parliament 
the condemnation of the five so-called ' traitors ' on 
a long and detailed indictment, which naturally the accused did 
not present themselves to meet. The Lords pronounced the 
procedure to be regular and legal. Four of the five traitors were 
forthwith condemned to suffer the full penalties of treason ; the 
archbishop of York escaped with his hfe in virtue of his sacred 
office. Bramber and Tressilian, who had been caught, were 
promptly executed ; but Oxford and Suffolk were out of reach, 
and afterwards died in exile. Gloucester and his allies added 
several other victims to the list in spite of some protests from 
both Henry of Derby and Edmund of York. Parliament was not 
dissolved until Gloucester and the Arundels had duly rewarded 
themselves, the bishop taking the place of the 'traitor' archbishop 
of York. No statute had been passed, no formal alteration made 

The Rule of Richard II. 


in the constitution ; but the recently appointed council had 
succeeded in making itself decisively supreme. 

Among English monarchs there are three whose characters 
present us with problems of perennial interest to the psycholo- 
gist, because their personalities are puzzhng as well character 
as arresting. Richard ii., Henry viii., and EHzabeth °^ Rioiiard. 
are all enigmas by reason of their apparent contradictoriness. 
However we may attempt to solve them it must always be with 
a consciousness that we may have gone completely astray. For 
Richard, a brain speciahst could make out a very good case for 
insanity of a subtle order, based upon his sudden irrational out- 
bursts of passion, the abnormal ingenuity of his cunning, and the 
violent alternations between what the Greeks called hybris — very 
inadequately rendered by ' arrogance ' or ' pride ' — and helpless 
despair. Richard only reached the age of twenty-one in January 
1388. At the age of fourteen he had shown at the instant of an 
emergency courage and presence of mind which would have done 
credit to the most experienced diplomatist and man of action. 
That might have been attributed to the lucky audacity of a self- 
confident boy, if it had not been accompanied by a cynical 
contempt for honour and good faith not often conjoined with 
the frank audacity of boyhood. There is little to be discovered 
save an extravagant self-confidence in the struggle with Glou- 
cester and Arundel, which has just been described : when the 
actual crisis came, and De Vere was in arms, Richard himself 
displayed merely impotence. Yet, during the next nine years 
of his early manhood, from twenty-one to thirty, the young king 
displayed an unfailing moderation and self-restraint, and at the 
same time an intelHgent boldness, which would have left him 
with the character almost of a model constitutional monarch if 
a kindly fate had but cut him off at the beginning of 1397. 
Nevertheless, during those years the king must, it would seem, 
have been all the time secretly cherishing the thought of revenge, 
steadily working out the design of establishing his own complete 
supremacy, and overwhelming his foes at a blow. But then when 
the blew had been struck hybris became master. With sheer 
blind folly Richard rushed upon his own doom. It is possible to 

384 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

see in his queen, Anne of Bohemia, the influence \\'hich taught 
him self-control, which but for her untimely death might even 
have prevented the later sinister developments. It is interesting 
to note that there were at least three English kings who seem to 
show a certain moral deterioration after the death of a wise and 
tender ^^ife who had never been pohtically obtrusive : Edward 1. 
after the death of Eleanor in 1290, Richard after the death of 
Anne of Bohemia in 1394, and Henry vii. after the death of 
Ehzabeth of York in 1503. 

In 1388 Gloucester and Arundel were supreme. The Merciless 
Pariiament had wrought their vindictive will and rewarded them 
The nue of la\dshly ; but when they had won power they did 
Gloucester. ^^^ ^gg j^. ^^^ wisdom. The narrowness of the 
most oppressive type of aristocrat was displayed in the legislation 
of their next parhament, held in the autumn of the same year. 
Wages were to be rigidly kept down, and the labourer rigidly 
confined at least to his own hundred. He was forbidden to 
possess arms ; his sons were forbidden to enter any craft. The 
Scots raided the north unpunished and carried off the earl of 
Northumberland's son, Harry Hotspur, a prisoner from the 
moonhght battle of Otterbum, though their captain, the earl of 
Douglas, was slain. Posterity was the gainer, since the fight was 
commemorated in the immortal ballad of the ' Hunting of the 
Cheviot.' Negotiations were reopened by the French for a 
permanent peace, or a truce which might have been a stepping- 
stone to a permanent peace, including Castile and Scotland ; but 
the proposals were wrecked by the obstinate insistence of Glou- 
cester's government on a clause affirming the obsolete English 
claim to the Scottish suzerainty. 

But in May 1389 a quietly effective coup d'Uat overthrew the 

Gloucester government. At a meeting of the council, Richard 

asked his uncle, ' How old am I ? ' On Gloucester's 

dismissed, replying that he was two-and-twenty, he remarked 


that in that case he was old enough to choose his own 
ministers, dismissed the chancellor Archbishop Arundel and the 
treasurer, and appointed in their places not partisans nor favour- 
ites, but old and tried ministers of Edward in., who for long had 

The Ride of Richard II. 385 

taken no political part, William of Wykeham and Bishop Brant- 
ingham. It was a sheer impossibility to find fault with the 
king's action, yet it was a perfectly effective assertion of the 
king's supremacy, a deposition of Gloucester and Arundel. 

The next step was still more conclusive. Lancaster was in- 
vited to return from Spain, and resume his position as the natural 
and most trusted counsellor of the king. Lan- Lancaster 
caster's return entirely relegated Gloucester to a recalled, 
subordinate position, without any direct attack whatever being 
made upon the younger duke. John of Gaunt's recall was a 
simple matter, because he had by this time learnt the hopelessness 
of his attempt to secure the Castilian crown for himself in right 
of his second wife, Constance of Castile. Had he won the crown, 
the heir to it would have been not his son Henry of Derby or his 
daughter PhiUppa, the children of his earlier marriage with 
Blanche of Lancaster, but his daughter Katharine, the child of 
Constance. The door was open, however, stiU to secure the 
Castilian crown to her because King John of Castile had pro- 
posed that she should be wedded to his own son and heir Henry. 
Not only was this contract carried out, but Lancaster's elder 
daughter PhiUppa was married to King John of Portugal ; and 
thus it came about that three of the duke's children occupied 
ultimately the thrones of three kingdoms. When the duke 
himself returned to England, Richard consistently cultivated his 
friendship and was supported by his loyalty for the rest of his 

At the beginning of 1390 yet another ingenious stroke made 
Richard's constitutional position still more impregnable. 

William of Wvkeham and the other officers whom 

Richard personally had appointed voluntarily re- constitution- 
signed, and invited parliament to pass judgment upon ^33 ^jljjg 
their tenure of office. Their conduct had been im- 
peccable ; parliament said so, and invited them to resume their 
functions, which they accordingly did. Richard crowned this 
piece of work by adding Gloucester as well as Lancaster to his 
council. The younger uncle was completely muzzled. Less 
than two years afterwards the spirit of forgiveness carried 

Innes's Eng. Hist.— Vol. I. 2 B 

386 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

Richard so far that Archbishop Arundel was restored to the 

chancellorship, on the final retirement of William of Wykeham. 

In the years from 1390 to 1393, pariiament again displayed its 

anti-papal spirit by strengthening the Statutes of Provisors, of 

Mortmain, and of Praemunire. The measures hardly proved more 

effective than before, but they testified to the general trend of 

pubhc opinion which had not yet severely condemned Lollards, 

at least if they were persons of any importance. The king's visit 

to Ireland in 1394-95 had a pacificatory effect in that country 

where AngHcising influences were now virtually restricted to the 

Pale, and the Pale itself had contracted to very small dimensions. 

The young earl of March, Roger ^Mortimer, the heir-presumptive 

to the throne, and already officially recognised by the king as such, 

was left behind as heutenant, whereby the traditional association 

of his house with Ireland was strengthened. 

But, unless we except the Irish episode, the most important 

events of these years were of a personal character : the bestowal 

of Guienne upon Lancaster for life, almost as an 
Personal ^ 

matters, independent principality ; a quarrel between Lan- 


caster and Arundel which permanently estranged 
them ; a quarrel between Richard and Arundel on the death of 
Queen Anne in 1394, which may have re-a^'akened the long- 
repressed spirit of vengeance in Richard's breast ; the death of 
the duchess of Lancaster ; and the subsequent marriage of the 
duke himself to his mistress Katharine Swynford, the mother of 
his four illegitimate children who bore the name of Beaufort, 
leading up to the formal legitimation of those children by the 
royal authority at the beginning of 1397. 

Future relations with France were materially affected by the 
brain malady which for the first time attacked Charles VI. in 
Peace with 1292, a malady which always affected him much 
France, 1396. more acutely in summer than in winter. But the 
extent to which he was incapacitated by it delivered France over 
to the fierce rivalries of his uncles, his brother, and his cousins, 
which developed into the struggle between the two parties ulti- 
mately known as the Burgundians and the Armagnacs. More 
immediately, however, it put an end to the aggressive designs 

The Rule of Richard II. 387 

■which the French king had been inchned to cherish, and made 
France readier to come to terms with England. The result again 
was a treaty by which both countries deferred the settlement of 
disputed points for thirty years and accepted the actually exist- 
ing position for the interval, while the peace was to be confirmed 
by Richard's marriage to the seven-year-old French princess 

Now ever since the Merciless Parliament, from 1388 to the 
beginning of 1397, Richard's conduct had been irreproachable, 
•with a single exception. At the moment when he was unhinged 
by the death of his dearly loved queen, he had burst out with 
unseemly violence against Arundel who had provoked him by 
a most indecent insolence. In February 1397 came Haxey's 
another outbreak of passion. The Commons sent ''^°*' ^^^''• 
up a petition complaining of certain grievances, among them the 
■extravagant expenditure of the court. This clause touched 
Richard's sensitive point ; he angrily demanded the name of the 
member who had proposed the clause, a cleric named Haxey — for 
the clergy had not yet absolutely severed themselves from the 
xepresentative chamber. The House made no attempt to protect 
the privilege of free debate : Haxey was given up, and was con- 
demned by the Lords to die as a traitor, though he was ultimately 
pardoned by the king at the petition of Archbishop Arundel. It 
seems possible to believe — the question is one for psychologists — 
that the king's reformation had been genuine, that he had not 
through all those years kept revenge before him as his goal, that 
bis moderation had not been a mask, but that his nervous tem- 
perament was really unhinged by his wife's death, and he there- 
after became gradually obsessed with the idea of revenge. 

This, however, is mere speculation. The two definite facts 
stand out : that at the beginning of 1397 Richard had lost, or 
was losing, the self-mastery which he seemed so sud- „^ 

° ■' The coup 

denly to have acquired nine years before ; and that d'etat of 


in the spring of the same year he had resolved to 
strike at his old enemies. The blow was prepared in July. The 
king had taken into his confidence his half-brother John Holland, 
«arl of Huntingdon ; his contemporary, sometime playmate and 

388 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

sometime enemy, Thomas Mowbray of Nottingham ; and John 
Montague, earl of Salisbury ; with sundry men of the younger 
generation : Edward of Rutland, son of the duke of York ; 
Thomas Holland the younger, earl of Kent ; John Beaufort who 
had been made earl of Somerset after his legitimation, and others. 
Gloucester and Arundel and Warwick, the three original Lords 
Appellants, were invited to a banquet. Warwick came and 
was arrested ; the suspicions of the other two had been aroused, 
and they did not come, but Arundel thought it wise to surrender 
himself next day. That night Gloucester himself was arrested 
at one of his own castles, and was dispatched to Calais, of which 
Nottingham was the ' captain.' There two months later he 
was put to death secretly after a confession of treason had been 
extorted from him. Gloucester, Warwick, and Arundel were 
appealed before parliament after the precedent which they had 
themselves set ; but before the day came it was announced that 
Gloucester had died ; aU that was necessary was the reading of 
his confession. Arundel was condemned and executed ; War- 
wick's life was spared by the king's grace ; Archbishop Arundel, 
whose name had been added to those of the accused, was de- 
prived and banished. 

Dukedoms were scattered among the earls who had helped in 
the coup d'Uat, and earldoms among those of lower rank. The 
Honours duke of York was passive, and the duke of Lancaster 

distributed, presided at Arundel's trial. Of the former Lords 
Appellants, Derby and Nottingham, now made dukes of Hereford 
and Norfolk, had been drawn over to his own side by the king ; 
even at the outset they had acted to some extent as checks upon 
Gloucester and Arundel. Now Norfolk, the murderer of Glou- 
cester, seemed irrevocably pledged to Richard ; and the old 
duke of Lancaster's one real virtue, of loyalty to the Crown, from 
which he had never swerved, gave at least present security 
against danger from Henry of Hereford (whose familiar name of 
BoUngbroke was derived not from any title but from his birth- 

Richard was not satisfied with vengeance ; he meant to have 
all that he had ever dreamed of royal power. Parliament — 

The Rule of Richard II. 389 

packed after a fashion started by John of Gaunt in 1377 — was 
■gathered at Shrewsbury in January 1398. The second group of 
Lords Appellants, those who had appealed the first p . 
group, invited the Houses to petition the king to re- of Shrews- 
voke or denounce everything that had been done by ' 

the Gloucester government before the coup d'Uat of 1389. Then 
the Houses endorsed the Opinions of Nottingham, a constitutional 
pronouncement which incidentally limited parhamentary dis- 
cussion to questions laid before the Houses by the Crown. But 
the Shrewsbury parliament had not finished denuding itself of 
power. It half surrendered the power of the purse by granting 
the king for Ufe the subsidy on wool ; and finally it delegated all 
the powers of parhament to a committee of the king's closest 
supporters, eighteen in number, among whom Norfolk and Here- 
ford were not included. Among the twelve lords were the king's 
iwo uncles, his cousin and heir-presumptive the earl of March, 
seven of his confidants in the coup d'itat, and the two Percies, 
earls of Northumberland and Worcester. The committee was 
simply an instrument in the king's hands, and it had received its 
powers from parhament itself. 

There were two men who might be dangerous — Norfolk and 
Hereford ; and they delivered themselves, or rather Hereford 
dehvered them both, into the king's hand. Norfolk's Norfolk and 
suspicions had been aroused : that they were war- Hereford, 
ranted is very nearly proved by the exclusion of the two dukes 
from the ' parliamentary committee ' of government. He con- 
fided his anxiety to Hereford, Hereford betrayed his confidence 
to the king {1398). Norfolk gave him the lie ; the king referred 
the decision to the committee of government, the committee of 
government referred it to a court of chivalry, since there was no 
evidence at all except the word of the two dukes ; and the court 
of chivalry ordained that the question should be settled by wager 
■of battle. The king assented ; a great concourse assembled at 
Coventry, where the lists were prepared (i6th September) ; the 
antagonists were facing each other with lance already in rest 
when Richard suddenly stopped the proceedings — he was un- 
doubtedly a lover of dramatic effects. He summoned the dukes 

3 go The Grandsons of Edward III. 

before him, announced that he had resolved to judge the quarrel 
himself, and proclaimed his singularly illogical award that both 
were to be banished, Hereford for ten years and Norfolk for life ; 
though immediately afterwards the period of Hereford's exile 
was reduced from ten years to six. 

Norfolk's conduct throughout is intelligible enough. He and 
Hereford had been associated with the original Lords Appellants, 
Banishment who had just been condemn'ed not upon new charges, 
of tiie dukes, but for their proceedings ten years before. He had 
very ample ground for feehng insecure, and for expecting Henry 
of Hereford to take the same view. As for Henry it can only be 
supposed that he thought himself too strong to be in peril, but 
having rejected Norfolk's overtures had anticipated the risk of 
being himself accused of treason by accusing Norfolk. That he 
acted out of pure loyalty is not to be believed. But Richard's 
action is almost inexplicable. Doubtless he supposed that he 
would have no more difficulties if once the two dukes were out 
of the way ; yet he did not see what should have been obvious — 
the danger of giving an award which could not conceivably be 
called just, which had absolutely no pretensions to justice. If 
he believed Hereford's charge against Norfolk there was no excuse 
for penalising Hereford as well as Norfolk. If he did not beUeve 
it there was no excuse for penalising Norfolk at all. Probably 
there was hardly any one who doubted the truth of Hereford's 
accusation, simply because Norfolk's conduct was precisely what 
might have been e.xpected in the circumstances ; consequently 
the banishment of Hereford immediately and inevitably aroused 
for him a very strong public sympathy as the victim of injustice. 
However for the moment Richard could feel that there was no 
one left in the country round whom an opposition could be 

The king now started upon a career of arbitrary and capricious 
despotism, while the committee of government endorsed his 
Richard's proceedings. There was nothing bloodthirsty about 
despotism, his actions. He put nobody to death, but he 


exacted loans, fines, and tallages right and left, with 
none to say him nay ; he announced that half the counties of 

The Rule of Richard II. 391 

England had been guilty of treason ten years before, and imposed 
on them a heavy fine, the payment of which was not immediately 
demanded, but was to be exacted whenever he should think fit. 
In February 1399 the duke of Lancaster died. Hereford, his 
son and heir, had forfeited none of his rights by his banishment ; 
nevertheless Richard now confiscated the whole of Lancaster's 
inheritance, and extended Henry's banishment for the term of 
his life — always with the assent of his committee which made 
parliament superfluous. Manifestly he had come to believe that 
his power was irresistible. He had no suspicion that this last 
monstrous act of injustice to his cousin involved danger to him- 
self ; and apparently without a qualm he sailed at the end of May 
for Ireland, with a considerable army, leaving to protect his own 
interest no one more efficient than his feeble uncle of York and 
the recently elevated Scrope, earl of Wiltshire, one of his con- 
fidential group. 

Vigorous action was required in Ireland, where, in spite of 
Richard's last visit, a rebellion of sundry native chiefs had broken 
out in 1398, and Roger Mortimer had been killed . r- h d 
in battle. Roger had been Richard's heir-presump- goes to 
five, and his death left between the banished Lan- 
caster and the throne only Roger's infant children and his brother 

Most of the magnates accompanied Richard to Ireland, but 
not the Percies of Northumberland, who excused themselves as 
having too much to do on the Scottish border. For six weeks 
Richard and his army marched through 'the disturbed districts, 
finding no one to fight, and gradually reducing themselves to 
starvation, when news was brought over that Henry of Lan- 
caster had reappeared in England accompanied by two other 
exiles, Archbishop Arundel and his nephew the earl of Arundel's 
son and heir, and that the whole north was rallying to his stan- 
dard. Salisbury, the best man and the greatest magnate among 
Richard's supporters, hurried back to England to raise the ever 
loyal county of Cheshire. It was not till a fortnight later that 
Richard himself and some part of his army got back to Milford 

392 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

Henry had now been three weeks in England. On his first 
arrival, York had called up the levies of the south, but very 
Kichard's soon found that they were not at all incUned to fight 
^*^- against Henry, who was making the most solemn 

professions that he had come merely to claim the Lancaster in- 
heritance, of which every one felt that he had been despoiled by 
an utterly inexcusable act of arbitrary injustice. York made 
for the west, hoping to join the king's army when it got back from 
Ireland. Lancaster made for the west to prevent any such 
junction. When the converging forces came within striking 
distance, nearly the whole of York's troops deserted, and he him- 
self after his feeble fashion very soon followed suit and joined 
Henry. The bishop of Norwich, suppressor of the East Anglian 
insurrection and figure-head of the Flemish crusade, tried to 
fight, but was taken prisoner. \\'iltshire and some of Richard's 
most obnoxious agents and supporters fled to Bristol, but were 
promptly handed over by the townsfolk to a pursuing troop of 
Lancastrians, who put them to death \\ithout trial. Richard 
deserted his force from Ireland at Milford Haven, and hurried off 
to join Salisbury in Cheshire ; the Irish army and its commanders 
promptly went over to Lancaster ; and when Richard reached 
the earl of Salisbury he found him in Conway Castle with only a 
remnant of the troops at first levied, most of which had already 
melted away. 

The game was hopelessly lost for the king. He sent the 
Hollands, whom he had made dukes of Exeter and Surrey, to 
Richard negotiate wth Lancaster at Chester. The duke 

surrenders, responded by sending Northumberland and the 
archbishop to Conway. To them Richard surrendered, the terms 
requiring that he should in effect, though not in form, abdicate, 
that Henry should be made Grand Justiciar, and that sundry of 
Richard's adherents, including Salisbury and the Hollands, 
should be tried before parliament on the charge of responsibility 
for the murder of Gloucester. The fallen monarch was con- 
ducted to Fhnt, where he was met by Henry with a mocking 
pretence of courtesy and a promise to help him to rule better 
than he had succeeded in doing during the last twenty-two years. 

The Rule of Richard II. 393 

But there was scarcely a pretence that anything was intended 
but Richard's deposition. From Fhnt he was conducted to 
London to meet a parliament which had been summoned in his 
name ; but the royal honours were reserved for the duke. 

Richard was lodged in the Tower, where on Michaelmas Day 
he was required to sign a deed of abdication, as one who had 
proved himself incapable of rule. On the next day Deposition 
the parliament assembled : by the reading of the °^ Riobard. 
Act of Abdication the throne was declared vacant ; Henry of 
Lancaster rose and claimed the crown as the hneal heir, and 
incidentally by right of conquest. Archbishop Arundel, who 
had taken the leading part in the proceedings and had already 
reinstated himself at Lambeth, led Henry up to take his seat on 
the throne ; and parliament acknowledged him as the lawful 
king of England. 

As to the character of Henry's title, it was possible to urge 
that he was next heir to the throne on the principle in accordance 
with which the Valois was king of France. That Henry iv. 
theory had been put forward by John of Gaunt while Edward iii. 
was still alive ; on which occasion the parliament had contented 
itself by declaring that there was no question of succession to 
discuss. It had not formally condemned the theory itself. In 
view, however, of Edward iii.'s claim to the French throne the 
argument could scarcely be maintained seriously in England. 
But if that claim were not valid the lineal representative of 
Edward 11. was the child Edmund Mortimer, the great- 
grandson of John of Gaunt's elder brother Lionel ; and Richard 
had formally recognised the boy's father, Roger, as heir-presump- 
tive. It was apparently in order to avoid raising this question 
that Henry described himself as being king in right line of de- 
scent, not from Edward ill., but from Henry m. ; referring to a 
baseless legend that Edward i.'s younger brother Edmund, the 
progenitor of the house of Lancaster, was really the elder brother 
who had been set aside on account of a personal deformity which 
caused him to be nicknamed Crouchback. There was no truth 
whatever in the legend : it had simply been invented to account 
for the name of Crouchback, which had really been bestowed 

394 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

on Edmund when he assumed the crusader's robe with a cross 

on the back. On the basis of this fiction, Henry professed to 

claim the throne, not through his father, but through his mother 

Blanche of Lancaster — a title too flimsy to be sustained for a 

Tjig moment. The plain truth was that Henry and 

Lancastrian every one else knew that he was king by election, 

title a paT< 

liamentary in accordance with all precedent before the accession 

°'^®- of Henry iii. The right of the witan or great 

council to divert the succession from the direct heir, at least, to 
another member of the royal family, had been repeatedly exer- 
cised ; and that power was now recognised as being vested in the 
parliament. Parliament accepted Henry because, in the cir- 
cumstances, no one could have proposed any other candidate 
with any chance of success. Two facts gave an unprecedented 
instability to the Lancastrian d5masty: it was instituted first 
through the recognition of the right of parliament to depose a 
king who trampled on the law, and secondly, through the recog- 
nition of the right of parliament to select the member of the royal 
house who was to succeed. Neither fact was acknowledged ex- 
phcitly, but both were implicit in the whole transaction ; and no 
king of the house of Lancaster could afford to forget it. 

HL Henry iv. 

Richard ii. lost his throne because of his recklessly capricious- 
abuse of the arbitrary power which he had achieved ; not because 
The two he was a Nero, but because he was unaccountable, 

kings. jjjg successor's title could only be maintained either 

by the terrorism to which some usurpers have resorted, usually 
with only a brief success, or by conciliating the good-will of the 
bulk of his subjects, and by a very close observation of hostile 
elements. Henry did not attempt the role of t3T:ant ; but he died 
prematurely worn out, long before he was fifty, by the tremendous 
strain entailed hy the alternative pohcy. He was altogether un- 
heroic ; not a great statesman, not a great soldier, not a figure 
in any way great ; but he was competent in every capacity, 
practical, level-headed, tactful ; unscrupulous whenever magna- 

Henry IV. 395 

nimity or nicety appeared inexpedient ; but not cruel unless 
cruelty seemed useful ; not vindictive unless som'ething was to 
be gained by vindictiveness. Tlierefore he preserved his throne 
and established his dynasty, when most men of a finer mould, 
and many men far more highly endowed, would have failed. 

Assuredly the position in which the new king found himself 
was sufficiently difficult. So long as Richard lived there was a 
standing menace of attempts at a restoration. Difficulties. 
Archbishop Arundel more than any other man had helped to 
place Henry on the throne, and the archbishop's price was the 
suppression of LoUardy ; it was not yet clear how far that policy 
would be popular. Richard's active supporters of every rank 
had been heavily endowed out of confiscated estates ; and a 
process of restitution was inevitable, which, added to the neces- 
sity for rewarding Henry's own active supporters, was certain 
to cause complications, jealousies, and heartburnings. The 
coronation took place a fortnight after the deposition ; and the 
same parliament which had witnessed that act was summoned 
again by the new king, and met immediately afterwards. 

Henry's alHance with the churchmen was at once demonstrated 
by the enforced resignation of the Speaker elected by the House 
of Commons, on the suspicion of LoUardy. Then Henry's first 
the Houses proceeded to rescind all the Acts of Parliament, 
parliament since the coup d'etat of 1397, and to endorse the pro- 
ceedings of the Merciless Parliament. Then they demanded an 
inquiry into the murder of Gloucester. The practical result of 
this was that after the peers had spent some time in hurling 
charges of treason at each other's heads, and gages of battle on 
the floor of the House, it was resolved that the six surviving 
Lords Appellants who had appealed the three original Lords 
Appellants should be impeached of treason, and also that the 
unfortunate Richard should be shut up where he could do no 
mischief. The whole six were duly condemned. But Henry did 
not wish to inaugurate his reign with what would have been 
treated as a display of bloodthirstiness. He contented himself 
with depriving them of all the titles and emoluments which had 
been bestowed upon them by way of reward ; but they were given 

396 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

to understand that the king's continued clemency was conditional 
upon their good behaviour. Parhament was dissolved after 
granting a moderate subsidy, and procuring, somewhat later 
in the day, an Act forbidding the bestowal of territory or of offices 
of emolument by the king without consent of the council. Ob- 
viously the more estates the king gave away the more difficult 
he would find it to ' hve of his own,' as the Commons persisted in 
declaring that he ought to be able to do. But the king had 
already distributed his favours wth a lavish hand ; and demands 
for the resumption of royal estates were impracticable. 

Henry had been carried to the throne on a flowing tide of popu- 
larity ; Richard had made himself detested not so much by what 
A plot he had done as by the fear of what he might be 

crushed. intending to do ; yet his party, consisting chiefly 

of the lords who had just been condemned and then partly par- 
doned, were nervous enough to plunge into a conspiracy against 
the new king. The unsuspecting Henry was to be seized and 
put to death. But the plot was betrayed a few hours before it 
was to be put in execution by Rutland, who rarely failed to turn 
traitor at critical moments. When the conspirators attacked 
"Windsor Castle they found that the bird had flo%\-n. After brief 
hesitation they themselves took to flight. Kent and Salisbury 
were killed by the mob at Cirencester, Despenser at Bristol, 
Huntingdon in Essex. Several of their adherents were caught, 
tried, and hanged. About six weeks afterwards it was announced 

.r. »^ , that the captive Richard had himself died in his 

Death of ^ 

Kichard, prison at Pontefract. That he did die of privation 

and harsh treatment is tolerably certain : it was 
declared that he had deliberately starv^ed himself to death by 
refusing food, which is conceivably true, but it does not alter the 
indubitable fact that he was either actually murdered or dehber- 
ately driven to suicide. In spite of the exposure of the body, a 
belief prevailed that the captive had really escaped ; and some 
time afterwards a pseudo-king Richard was at large in Scotland. 
Richard died on 14th February 1400. In the course of the 3'ear 
Henry was sufficiently ill-advised to revive the English claim of 
sovereignty in Scotland, and to make an expedition to that 

Henry IV. 397 

country, encouraged by the dissensions among the Scottish 
nobihty. Robert ill., who had changed his name from John to 
Robert for luck on succeeding to the throne, was a Scotland, 
feeble ruler. His brother, Robert of Albany, his heir the duke of 
Rothesay, and the great earls of Douglas and March, were con- 
stantly intriguing and fighting for ascendency ; and Henry's inva- 
sion was made almost at March's invitation. This was the last time 
that a king of England led an army into Scotland in person ; and 
his experience was a mere repetition of the old story—ravagings 
and burnings, an enemy who persistently declined battle, failure 
of commissariat, exhaustion, and withdrawal. Henry had wasted 
much money and gained nothing whatever. 

On his way south the king found that Owen Glendower, a 
Welsh gentleman of large estate, who through his mother claimed 
descent from Llewelyn, was conducting a sort of owen 
private war against Lord Grey of Ruthyn in North Glendower. 
Wales. Thither therefore the king turned aside, marched 
through the country while Owen took to the hills, confiscated the 
Glendower estates, and went home. The result was that a few 
months later Glendower was openly in arms as the leader of a 
Welsh national insurrection. In the late spring of 1401 the 
Enghsh in North Wales were almost shut up in the castles. 
Harry Percy — Hotspur — son of the earl of Northumberland, 
who held the office of justiciar in North Wales, but could ex- 
tract no money from the king to pay his soldiers, threw up his 
ofi&ce, and retired to the north. Owen assumed the title of Prince 
of Wales ; and when Henry himself marched into North Wales, 
avoided battle after the Scots fashion, cut off the king's supplies, 
raided his communications, and as soon as his back was turned 
resumed operations against the fortresses. 

Next year matters grew worse. Henry's impecuniosity, the 
calls on the public purse, and the economical spirit of the 
Commons, were undermining his popularity. In Scotland, Albany, 
who now wholly dominated the king his brother — the Crown 
Prince died or was murdered just at this time — got hold of a 
crazy impostor who professed to be the escaped King Richard ; 
he sedulously fostered the rumour that this was really the 

398 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

murdered king. Glendower was so active and his strength was 

so developing that he routed a considerable force under Sir 

„, , , Edmund Mortimer, and captured its commander. 

Glendower s ^ 

successes, Mortimer was the uncle of the young earl of March, 

^*^^' the legitimate heir of King Richard ; he was there- 

fore a person who might be dangerous. Glendower made the 
most of his captive. There was consequently another autumn 
campaign, futile as usual, in North Wales. 

Elsewhere, however, matters seemed to have been going more 
favourably. The Scots, led by the earl of Douglas and Murdoch, 
HomUdou the son of Albany, conducted a great raid into the 
HUi, Sept. north of England. They were met and totally de- 
feated by the Percies at Homildon HiU, a battle fought and won 
very much after the Hahdon Hill fashion. There was a great 
slaughter and many noble prisoners were taken, including 
Douglas and Murdoch of Albany. Several of them were with 
much ceremony handed over to the king. But the victory was 
the cause of further troubles. The Percies, as Henry's most 
active supporters when he returned from exile, had become ex- 
tremely powerful ; the victory of Homildon increased their pres- 
tige. They were arrogant, and Henry may have thought that 
it was time to curb them. They had claims on his purse which 
he refused to recognise, and he now demanded that Douglas, as 
well as the other prisoners, should be handed over to him ; and 
he set about preparing an army for the north, nominally to invade 
Scotland, reaUy to coerce the Percies. 

In the meanwhile the king had consistently turned a deaf ear 

to Mortimer's petitions that he should be ransomed from Glen- 

. , dower ; and while Henry was wrangling with the 

revolt, Percies there came the surprising news that Mor- 

^ ■ timer had married Glendower's daughter, and that 
he and Glendower had declared for the restoration of Richard 
if he was reaUy alive, and if not for the deposition of Henry in 
favour of the true heir, the little earl of March. Hotspur's wife 
was Mortimer's sister. The Percies — Hotspur, Northumberland, 
and Northumberland's brother Thomas, earl of Worcester — de- 
clared for Mortimer. Accompanied by Douglas, no longer as a 

Henry IV. 399 

captive but as a comrade-in-arms, Hotspur made a rapid dash 
from the north upon Chester, hoping to join forces with Glen- 
■dower, who was now pursuing a victorious career in South Wales. 
If Northumberland and the rest of the northern lords who 
favoured the cause, and Glendower from the south, could bring 
■up their forces and join with Hotspur, the combined army would 
be extremely formidable. Henry resolved to strike at once at 
Hotspur before the junction could be effected. With such 
troops as he was able to collect at once, he marched upon Shrews- 
bury to intercept Hotspur on his way to join Glendower. There 
the two armies met ; in the course of an exceptionally fiercely 
fought and bloody battle. Hotspur was slain, Worcester and the 
■unlucky Douglas were taken prisoners, and the insurgent army 
was completely shattered. Worcester was executed ; North- 
umberland, who had been delayed by his great rival in the north, 
Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland, dismissed his troops and 
sued for a pardon, which was granted. Glendower, too late to 
take part in the operations at Shrewsbury, remained undisturbed 
to pursue his successful career in Wales. Before the end of the 
year the Welshman was completely dominant practically through- 
out the principality. 

The one legislative measure of importance during the reign 
hitherto had been the Act estabUshing burning at the stake as 
the penalty for heresy, kno-wn as the statute Be 
Heretico Comburendo of 1401. There had been Comburendo, 
burnings before now on the Continent, but not in 
England ; until the development of LoUardy there had never 
been enough active heresy to attract persecution. But now 
Lollardy was active ; there had been avowed Lollards in high 
places, among them the lately slain earl of Sahsbury. Richard 
had been by no means zealous in their suppression, and Arch- 
bishop Arundel was determined to root out the pestilence. Apart 
from his orthodox zeal he remarked a dangerous connection 
between Lollard doctrine and the growing incHnation of the 
Commons to emphasise the propriety of taxing or even confiscat- 
ing ecclesiastical property ; and he attracted the support of 
propertied la5mien by insisting that the logical conclusion from 

400 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

the Lollard premises was the aboHtion of private property 
altogether, not merely the spohation of the Church. The argu- 
ment gained ground. Convocation and the Commons petitioned 
for active measures against heresy, and the statute was framed on 
the petition of Convocation rather than that of the Commons. 
It is to be observed that at this time it was not yet the custom^ 
for the Houses to frame and pass Bills in a shape to which the 
Crown gave its assent ; the form was for parliament to present a 
petition inviting legislation, on the basis of which the council 
framed and the king promulgated the statute, which was not 
necessarily in the precise terms of the petition. Some days before 
this statute was actually issued the first EngUsh martyr by law, 
wiuiam William Sawtre, was actually burnt at the stake 

sawtre. ^|. Smithfield, the death penalty being sanctioned 

under the common law ; though public opinion would not have 
permitted its general adoption without special legislation. 

But parhament was zealous to extend its power of control over 
the king, and especially over expenditure. The same assembly 
The Commons which was responsible for the Act against heretics 
assertive. protested against being allowed insuf&cient time for 
the discussion of royal proposals, complained because the council 
had issued an order to towns and shires on the seaboard to 
equip a fleet out of their own pockets, and propoimded the theory 
that grievance ought always to be discussed before supply. 
In January 1404, six months after Shrewsbury, the Commons 
were grumbUng again. The king could ' live of his own,' but 
for his pernicious habit of giving away estates and pensions 
instead of using his own revenues for his wars. They were with 
difficulty induced to assent to a grant which seems to have been 
an experimental variation on the customary tenths and fifteenths, 
which were based upon obsolete assessments, and were beginning- 
to mean fixed sums. The new experiment was not apparently 
successful ; the records of it were carefully suppressed, and it 
was not repeated. At the same time the king found himself 
compelled to cut down his household so as to bring his personal 
expenditure within an exceedingly narrow limit laid down by 
the council. 

Henry IV. 401 

As a matter of fact, it was impossible for the king to meet the 
quite necessary expenditure out of the revenues granted. Glen- 
dower was daily growing stronger, and even made 
a treaty on his own account with France ; while the unlearned 
English troops on the marches were mutinying be- Parliament, 
cause their pay was in arrear. A parliament was again 
called in the autumn ; Henry tried to guard himself by instructing 
the sheriffs that no one was to be returned who had studied or 
practised the law. But the Unlearned Parliament, as it was called 
in consequence, was as captious as its predecessors ; it was also 
very anti-clerical, going so far as to suggest that the ecclesiastical 
revenues for a whole year should be seized for the State — which 
the clergy called confiscation of Christ's patrimony. As the 
proposal was coupled with a demand for the resumption of all 
royal grants during the past forty years, the bishops had the 
support of the magnates in urging the wiUing king to reject the 
petition of the Commons. 

Rutland had succeeded his father as duke of York in 1402. In 
1405 he was mixed up with a new plot in favour of the innocent 
young Edmund of March. As a matter of course he piots in 
betrayed it, or as much as he knew of it, and it was ^*''^- 
nipped in the bud. But three months later a very extensive con- 
spiracy developed, of which the spoilt plot may have been merely a 
misdirected fragment. Northumberland had kept quiet ever since 
his pardon after Shrewsbury ; but secretly he had been intriguing 
with several discontented persons, including the youthful earl of 
Nottingham, son of Norfolk who had died in exile, and Richard 
Scrope, the archbishop of York ; who with some others of the con- 
spirators was probably free from any personal motive, but had 
simply persuaded himself that an improvement in the adminis- 
tration could only be achieved by the appeal to arms, or, at least, 
by an appearance in arms. Before the end of May half the 
north was up and following the banners of Scrope and Notting- 
ham. Westmorland, a thoroughgoing Lancastrian, raised some 
troops, and accompanied by the king's third son John marched 
to meet the insurgents. He tricked the simple-minded leaders 
of the insurgents into a conference, where they were treacherously 

Innes's Eng. Hist. — Vol. i. 2 C 

402 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

seized, while their unsuspecting forces were suddenlj' charged by 

the royahst troops. The insurgents promptly fled. Ten days 

„ ^. , later, when Henry himself had arrived, Scrope and 
Execution of ' -^ 

ArohMaiiop Mowbray were tried before a commission. Arch- 
bishop Arundel arrived post-haste, determined to 
save his brother prelate ; but on this occasion Henry allowed 
anger to master pohcy. He made the archbishop believe that 
aU would be well ; but when Arundel had retired to rest he 
hurried the trial through and cut off the heads of his prisoners. 
Popular opinion, which promptly made a saint of Scrope, attri- 
buted to the Divine \vrath the disease from which Henry shortly 
afterwards began to suffer — called by the chroniclers leprosy. 
Possibly he shared that belief himself. But he went on to com- 
plete the crushing of the northern rising. Northumberland fled 
to Scotland ; to make one more desperate attempt nearly three 
years later, when he was killed at the battle of Bramham Moor. 
A dreary campaign in Wales ended the record of 1405. 

In the next year a very prolonged parliament grumbled con- 
tinuously, but did very Uttle beyond passing in the spring session 
The Long ^^° measures which it rescinded in the autumn. It 
Parliament, closed its career, however, by requiring Henry 
virtually to delegate the royal prerogatives to the 
coimcil ; an arrangement to which Henry was prepared reluct- 
antly to submit just so long as he was not strong enough to set 
it aside. His powers of resistance were greatly reduced for the 
time-being by his very bad health. 

Meanwhile, however, matters were improving in Wales, where 
the eldest prince, Henry, was training himself for the winning 
T ^,„^„^ of future victories. He was now in his twentieth 
fortunes, year, and had already shown his mettle as a boy 


in the fight at Shrewsbury. He was now proving 
himself an ef&cient and resolute captain in the Welsh command. 
WhQe he was making steady progress in Wales a piece of good 
fortune befell the king in the capture of the young crown prince 
of Scotland, James, who had been heir-apparent since the death 
of Rothesay. Old King Robert, perhaps in fear of his brother 
Albany's ambitions, sent the boy off to France ; but the vessel 

Henry IV. 403 

was captured by some English ships, and when the captors dis- 
covered the prize they had secured they sent him to the king of 
England. Though there was technically peace with the Scots, 
Henry had no scruple in retaining him, especially since his father's 
death made him technically king of Scotland about a week after 
the capture. Albany became regent of Scotland ; and while 
Henry held in ward both the regent's son Murdoch and the young 
king, Albany at least could not afford to be troublesome. Mur- 
doch was a hostage for his good behaviour, while he might find it 
very inconvenient to have James returned on his hands. France, 
too, was now ceasing to be a cause of anxiety, owing to the bitter 
feud between the king's brother Louis of Orleans and his cousin 
John of Burgundy, each of whom was anxious to secure the 
supreme power in view of the periodical insanity of the unhappy 
King Charles. 

The tide of Henry's sea of troubles had really, though not very 
conspicuously, turned in 1406 ; during the next two years it set 
steadily in his favour, so that after 1408 he was 


disturbed principally by family jars and by his own commons 
painfully broken health. In 1407 an Act laid down ^"^^ Supply, 
as a rule of succession that a daughter's title should 
have precedence of a brother's, and also barred the Beauforts alto- 
gether. The Commons began their usual murmurs about expendi- 
ture, but were promptly silenced by Archbishop Arundel's offer to 
resign the chancellorship. Their scoldings had become almost a 
matter of form, but at bottom they were perfectly well aware that 
economy was being overdone. Still jealousy of their own privi- 
leges made them protest when the king named the amount of the 
supply which he thought would meet his necessities ; the Com- 
mons said that was a matter for them to settle. Henry explained 
that he had merely offered a suggestion ; it was for the Commons 
to grant supplies, and for the Lords to assent ; he had no idea of 
questioning the principle that supply must originate from the 
Commons. Whereupon the satisfied Commons accepted his 
estimate, and granted what he desired. Three years passed 
before he again found it necessary to ask for renewed contri- 
butions for the revenue. 

404 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

This was in part owing to the domestic troubles of the French. 
Though John of Burgund}^ and Louis of Orleans were ostensibly 
Murder of reconciled, Duke John procured the assassination of 
Orleans. Duke Louis in November, and withdrew himself to 

his territories beyond the French frontier. The leadership of the 
Orleanists passed to the count of Armagnac, whose daughter 
was the wife of the new Duke Charles of Orleans ; and from him 
the party derived the title by which it was known thenceforth. 
With civil war imminent, France was ready for an accommoda- 
tion with England, and signed a truce which secured both Guienne 
and Calais from attack. Then, in 1408, Northrunberland made 
his last unsuccessful attempt to raise the north, and was killed 
at Bramham Moor. In Wales Prince Henry continued his 
Prince Henry '^°SSed operations against Glendower and Mortimer, 
In Wales, until at the end of the year every Welsh fortress was 
in his hands with the exception of Harlech, where 
Mortimer still held out though he was being gradually starved. 
Early in January the struggle was ended by his death. Harlech 
surrendered ; Mortimer's children did not long survive ; and the 
claims of the house of Lionel of Clarence were reposed entirely 
in the young earl Edmund of March and his sister Anne, from 
whom no trouble was to be anticipated. Though Glendower him- 
self survived tiU 1416, his power was completely broken, and he 
ceased to count as anything more than a perpetually troublesome 

Prince Henry, released from the stress of the arduous task 
which had kept him in Wales for the greater part of the past five 
years, now engaged himself actively in poUtics. The extent to 
which the king himself was incapacitated encouraged his heir's 
Factious in ambitions, if not his sense of responsibiUty. The 

the Council, council seems to have been divided into two factions, 
1409-1413. ^, , , , , ^^ , , . . 

the one headed by Henry s chief counsellor through- 
out his reign. Archbishop Arundel ; the other by the Prince of 
Wales and his half-uncles the Beauforts, Henry, bishop of Win- 
chester, and Thomas, earl of Dorset. The Beauforts of the next 
generation were the children of the eldest and least important 
brother, John, marquis of Somerset, who died in 1410. The 

Henry IV. 405 

Beauforts were doubtless jealous of Arandel, and allied them- 
selves with the prince who was destined to be king, whom they 
encouraged to push his claim to an enlarged authority. There 
was also some ill-feeling between the Prince of Wales and the 
brother who stood next to him, Thomas, who became duke of 
Clarence ; consequently Thomas was associated with the Arundel 
party. No particular political differences between the two 
parties can be detected, except that the heir to the throne was 
naturally somewhat more zealous in resisting encroachments on 
the prerogatives of the Crown which he expected to wear at no 
very distant date. 

Arundel and the prince were equally stringent in their ortho- 
doxy and their desire to suppress Lollardy, though Lollards 
such as Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, were j^.. 
among the prince's associates. Lollardy was so clericalism 
active, in spite of the heresy statute, that when a 
parliament was assembled in 1410, the Commons — at the instance, 
according to the clerical chroniclers, of the wicked Lollards among 
them — petitioned for an extensive confiscation of ecclesiastical 
property, and for a modification of the DeHeretico statute. Though 
the Beauforts had succeeded in substituting Dorset for Arundel in 
the chancellorship, the only effect of the petitions was to increase 
the stringency with which the obnoxious Act was enforced, and 
the second Lollard, John Badby, was burnt at Smithfield. 

Within two years Arundel was back in the chancellorship. 
At the end of 1411 the Beaufort party in the council went so far 
as to propose that King Henry should abdicate, on . 

account of his hopeless ill-health, in favour of the and the king, 
Prince of WaSes. The angry king replied by ejecting 
Bishop Beaufort from the council, reinstating Arundel as chan- 
cellor, and substituting Thomas of Clarence for the Prince of 
Wales as president of the council. The younger Henry professed, 
it may be honestly enough, to believe that he had incurred his 
father's ill-will through the machinations of his personal enemies 
on the council ; but after a somewhat melodramatic scene he 
extracted from his father an assurance that his loyalty was not 
doubted, and there was some show of reconciliation. 

4o6 The Grandsons of Edward III. 

The demand for Henry's abdication was based on a break- 
down in his health at a critical moment. France during these 
years was presenting an inviting field for English 
in France, intervention ; Burgundians and Armagnacs were 
fighting, and in July 1411 the duke of Burgundy 
invited aid from England, offering the hand of his daughter 
Aime to the Prince of Wales. The king resolved to take full 
advantage of the situation, and to carry a strong force into France 
under his own command, his health having recently shown signs 
of improvement ; but a relapse followed on the strain of pre- 
paration, the great expedition was abandoned, and only a com- 
paratively small force was dispatched. This was the Beauforts' 
excuse for suggesting his abdication. 

The Enghsh contingent returned home in December, having 
rendered Burgundy excellent service, and bringing Wth it satis- 
factory reports of French inefficiency. But it was followed by 
a bid from the Armagnacs which was sufficiently tempting to 
induce the Arundel party, now restored to power, to transfer its 
alliance. The Armagnacs offered in return for substantial but 
well-paid assistance to restore the entire duchy of Aquitaine. 
So in the late summer a new expedition saUed to help the young 
duke of Orleans, under the command of Thomas of Clarence. 
The expedition arrived only to find that it had nothing to do. 
King Charles had temporarily recovered from his insanity, and 
threatened to march in person against Orleans. The Armagnacs 
were not prepared to stand in arms against the king, and there 
was a general reconciliation. There was nothing left but to buy 
the English off again ; and the English having got their pay 
came home. 

But the king was dying ; early in March he became so iU that 
he was carried out of Westminster Abbey to the Jerusalem 
Death of chamber, where, on 20th March 1413, he died after 

the king. g^ reconciliation with his repentant heir ; and 
Henry v. ascended the throne unchallenged. 

OF FRANCE, 1413-1453 

I. Henry v. 1413-1422 

The Henry v. of tradition is the madcap prince who developed 
into the ' Star of England,' as depicted by Shakespeare ; whose 
principal authority for his portrait is the late character of 
chronicler HoHnshead. The king as he paints him Henry v. 
is perhaps a more genial person than the real Henry v. ; the 
comrade of Falstaff and Poins is more attractive in his light- 
hearted irresponsibility than the real Prince of Wales. There is 
a certain boyishness pervading the whole character from begin- 
ning to end which is not easy to reconcile with the actual records. 
Yet Shakespeare did not create the tradition, though he made it 
irresistibly permanent, and such kindly traditions do not readily 
come into being unless they have a substantial basis of fact. 

There is no escaping the necessity for modifying Prince Hal. 
He was not a wild youth who until his accession only rose to a 
sense of responsibility at rare crises, and devoted the rest of his 
time to heedless frivoUty. From the time when he was fifteen, 
the year before Shrewsbury, he took soldiering at least in earnest ; 
with the sole exception of Edward i., no one before him could 
have shown such a record of successful warfare in Wales as he 
had won before he was two-and-twenty. His religion, too, he 
took seriously, even to the verge of fanaticism. The prince 
who dragged aside the faggots when the flames were devouring 
the LoUard Badby, to give him a chance of recantation and life, 
the prince who, when the steadfast martyr refused to recant, 
returned him to the flames, must have been at heart terribly 
serious. The prince who kneeled before his father, tendering his 


4o8 The Conquest and Loss of France 

sword, praying him to strike if he doubted his son's loyalty, was 
either very much in earnest, or as histrionic as Richard ii. — and 
he indulged himself in no other histrionic displays. The prince 
who headed a party at the covmcil board was not one who could 
only be extracted with difficulty from some tavern in Eastcheap. 
But the contemporary chroniclers, who idoHsed him as king, 
are quite emphatic in declaring that the prospect of his accession 
was viewed with considerable anxiety, and that his accession was 
itself accompanied by a change of demeanour which appeared 
almost miraculous. Hot blood, the signs of a fiery temper which 
might become vindictive, occasional bursts of dissipation, all 
these might be inferred from the language of the chroniclers ; 
they are perfectly consistent with aU that is known, and, if he 
had fits of irresponsibility which occasionally took a Hvely turn, 
that also is perfectly compatible with the more wisely directed 
energies of his youth. 

From the very outset of his reign there is no doubt at all that 
Henry took his own kingship very seriously indeed, and that 
Henry's those who viewed his accession with something more 

aooesBion. than nervousness were very agreeably surprised. 
The change in his character, whatever it may have been, did not 
make him change his poUtical friends ; Bishop Beaufort took 
Arundel's place as chancellor. But no one suffered or was 
treated with disfavour by the king on account of past differences 
^^^th the prince. The old legend that Chief Justice Gascoigne 
was magnanimously pardoned for the honest severity with which 
he had repressed the turbulent Prince of Wales, and ^^'as confirmed 
in his high office, must be abandoned. Gascoigne was, in fact, 
retired ; but probably for no other reason than that he was too 
old to retain his position. The evidence very distinctly favours 
the view that the story of the prince's imprisonment by the chief 
justice appropriated to Henry v. an actual incident in the fife of 
Edward ii. Henry assumed the loyalty of his own kinsmen in 
spite of past antagonisms with Thomas of Clarence, and most 
conspicuously he displayed his trust in the young earl of March, 
who had just come of age ; a confidence which was thoroughly 
deserved. Only in one quarter did it seem hkely that the fears 

Henry V. 409 

aroused on his accession would be justified — the Lollards were 
warranted in anticipating that the new king would prove a 
persecutor. Only in one other quarter were there thoughts of 
treason, very inefficient treason, which was detected and sup- 
pressed almost at the moment of its inception. 

In his sincere but narrow piety Henry was something of a 
fanatic. A fanatic who believed himself to be the chosen instru- 
ment of the Almighty ; although, as with a good Henry's 
many other fanatics, it is difficult to understand fanaticism. 
how he could have persuaded himself that his methods were 
always in accord with the Eternal Righteousness. For such a 
man the rigorous suppression of heresy was almost a matter of 
course ; but Henry carried his peculiar conception of his own 
position into politics, and persuaded himself that it was his 
mission to punish and to regenerate France as her conqueror ; 
though he had to find an excuse for conquest of a more conven- 
tional type, and therefore fell back upon a claim to the crown of 
an unprecedented flimsiness ; and he had no qualms whatever 
about achieving his ends by the help of the basest of agents. 

Henry's ambitions demand some further attempt at elucida- 
tion. No one can be satisfied with the theory that he engaged 
on the French war for no better reason than that „. 


he might distract the minds of the English baronage impossible 
from the dubious character of his own title to the 
crown of England. Henry was far too intelligent to resort to 
such a futile expedient, of which the effects could never have been 
more than temporary. The one security for the Lancastrian 
dynasty lay in making its supremacy satisfactory to the country 
at large ; and a war which restored the national self-confidence 
might indeed very well help in producing such an effect. As 
matters turned out, the Lancastrian dynasty would probably 
never have been seriously threatened if Henry had left an efficient 
son to succeed him. But, as a matter of fact, Henry at the time 
of his accession judged with perfect accuracy that there could 
be no grave danger to his throne unless the head of the house 
of Mortimer assumed the r61e of a pretender, and further that 
the head of the house of Mortimer would not lend himself to any 

4IO The Conquest and Loss of France 

such design. It is equally superfluous to condemn the policy of 
the French war in unmeasured terms. In the twentieth century 
we can see that the war was a sin against nationalism, that the 
amalgamation of France and England els one state was impossible, 
that the unions of two such distinct nationalities even as separate 
states under one crown — a quite reasonable ideal for England and 
Scotland — ^was impracticable. But it would hardly have seemed 
so to any one in mediaeval times ; and the chancelleries of Europe 
had hardly begun to reaUse either the dividing or the unifying 
force of nationalism till Henry had been in his grave for five 
hundred years. It is true that every ideal which took no account 
of nationalism was doomed to ultimate failure, but no mediaeval 
statesmem had a suspicion of the fact ; on the contrary, mediseval- 
ism might almost be said to have rested upon two fundamental 
ideas which ignored nationalism altogether, the ideas of a Church 
of Christendom and an Empire of Christendom. In dreaming of 
an Anglo-French empire, Henry was beyond doubt pursuing a 
false ideal, false because it was rooted in a then universal mis- 
conception of facts; but that misconception being postulated, 
the dream was that of a statesman and an idealist. It appeared 
to be one accidentally difficult, but not essentially impossible, of 
realisation ; and the triumph of the statesmsin lies in the con- 
quest over accidental difficulties. But because the scheme was, 
in actual fact, essentially impossible of realisation, it broke down ; 
and its breakdown involved the fall instead of the establishment 
of the Lancastrian dynasty in England. 

Henry was not yet five-and-twenty when he became king. As 
the instrument of the Almighty he had before him two tasks, 

one immediate and obvious — the suppression of 
The sup- , 

pression of heresy ; the other, not quite so obvious — the con- 

Louardy, quest and regeneration of France. The suppression 

of LoUardy came first. To Henry iv. it had been 

merely a means to conciliate his ecclesiastical allies, not an end 

to be pursued with rigour for its own sake. Not with such laxity 

was Henry v. to regard it. The evil thing must be stamped out. 

Henry struck at once at the greatest Lollard in the country, the 

one member of the sect who sat among the peers, a distinguished 

Henry V. 411 

soldier and a man of learning to boot, Sir John Oldcastie, Lord 
Cobham. Oldcastie was tried for heresy before Archbishop 
Arundel, Henry Beaufort of Winchester, and the bishop of 
London. He was condemned, handed over to the secular arm 
to be burnt, and shut up in the Tower. He escaped from the 
Tower, and organised among the Lollards a conspiracy to capture 
the person of the king and set up an anti-clerical government. 
Henry got wind of the plot and removed himself from Eltham, 
where it had been intended to seize him, to Westminster. Also 
he secretly collected troops ; but there was no overt sign that he 
was on his guard. The conspirators planned a great midnight 
muster on gth January 1414 in St. Giles's Fields, hard gt. GUes's 
by. At dusk that evening companies of the king's ^'^i^^- 
troops seized and closed the gates of the city of London, so that 
the Londoners could not pass out ; the principal force was am- 
bushed about St. Giles's Fields to deal with the musters coming in 
from the country. When a sufficient number were assembled 
the troops broke in upon them and scattered them, capturing 
many and slaying a few. Of the prisoners, after trial, seven were 
burnt as heretics, between thirty and forty were hanged, and 
several more were fined or imprisoned. As an insurrectionary 
movement Lollardy was crushed, though Oldcastie remained at 
large. But the plot had stamped Lollardy as not only heresy 
but treason also, and the parUament which met in' April applied 
the ordinary police organisation to help the clergy in the capture 
of heretics. Lollardy was not stamped out, but it was driven 
completely beneath the surface. When it re-emerged, after more 
than a hundred years, it was in a new form. 

The suppression of heresy being thus settled, Henry could give 
his full attention to France. In that unhappy country the young 
dauphin Louis had broken away from his cousin of 
Burgundy and joined the faction of his cousin of Henry's 
Orleans. When Henry and the Beauforts had the f^^'^^^' 
upper hand on Henry iv.'s council, England had 
helped Duke John of Burgundy, who in this year, 1414, made a 
private treaty with England for joint action against the Or- 
leanists, ' Saving the rights of the king of France.' A week later, 

412 The Conquest and Loss 0/ Prance 

on 31st May, Henry dispatched an embassy to the French king, 

who was now with the Orleanists. The extravagant character of 

Henry's claims is a sufficient proof that he was resolved upon 

war. He knew, that is, that the French government could not 

by any possibility accede to his demands. He claimed, as male 

heir of Edward in., to be the rightful king of France. That claim 

he would enforce, or would withdraw only at the price of the 

cession of all that Henry 11. had ever claimed in France, ^\■ith 

the addition of Ponthieu as inherited from Eleanor of Castile, a 

portion of Provence as inherited from Eleanor of Provence, and 

the suzerainty of Flanders, for which he did not even pretend to 

any pretext. Also he was to have the French king's daughter 

Katharine to wife. As to the claim to the French throne, it need 

only be remarked that Edward iii.'s claim was good only if the 

French crown descended in the female Une, and on that principle 

the lawful claimant to the French throne was the earl of March ; 

that is, if Henry's claim was good as against the earl of March, it 

did not hold against the Valois ; if it held against the Valois it 

did not hold against Edmund of March. 

The envoys were naturally dismissed from France ; thereupon 

Henry called another parliament in November to announce his 

„ ,. ^ intention of going to war with France, and his conse- 
Parliament o e> 

supports quent need of money. Parhament voted supplies 

handsomely, but urged fresh negotiations as a pre- 
liminary to fighting. Henry accordingly sent a revised offer 
to France, which in effect simply substituted a heavy ransom 
for a portion of the territories first demanded. The French went 
so far as to offer two-thirds of Aquitaine, and one-third of the 
ransom as a dower for their princess. Henry refused with a great 
assumption of righteous indignation. AU that he desired was 
peace and amity, with a view to the settlement of the Great Schism 
which Christendom was about to deal with at the Council of 
Constance. Great would be the guilt of Charles if he persisted 
in refusing Henry's eirenicon. Of course no alternative to war 
remained possible. 

By the midsummer of 1415 Henry had completed his prepara- 
tions, and refused some advance made by the French upon their 

Henry V. 413 

earlier offers. Henry's expedition did not sail till loth August. 

It was slightly delayed by a particularly fatuous conspiracy. 

The brother of Edward, duke of York, Richard, earl „ ^ .. , 

Cambridge a 

of Cambridge, who had married Anne the sister of conspiracy, 
Edmund Mortimer of March, concocted a plot along 
with three or four gentlemen of the north and of Wales, and 
perhaps Lord Scrope of Masham, to carry off Mortimer, proclaim 
him king, and raise the north and west in his cause. When Cam- 
bridge sounded Lord Scrope, the latter held his tongue, a reti- 
cence which cost him his life. When the young earl of March 
was sounded he carried the matter straight to the king. Cam- 
bridge and Masham were condemned by a court of their peers 
and beheaded, as well as their principal accomplice, Sir Thomas 
Grey of Heton. The conspiracy can have indicated no serious 
disposition in any quarter to revolt against the Lancastrian 

Edward lii. and the Black Prince had achieved high mihtary 
fame not by any means as strategists, but by their splendid 
handling of troops in the field. All their campaigns The scheme 
were in the nature of raids. Henry's military genius °^ conquest, 
was of a far higher order ; he planned a systematic and steadily 
organised conquest. The first business was to be the establish- 
ment of a strategic base in Normandy, from which the country 
could be reduced and secured fortress by fortress. Conquest 
must be accomplished by a war of sieges, and by the organisation 
of government step by step with the military advance. 

The first point of attack was Harfleur at the mouth of the Seine. 
No preparations had been made to prevent the landing of the 
English; Harfleur was invested, and surrendered Harfleur 
after a month's siege. Those of the inhabitants ^®P*- 
who elected to do homage to Henry as king of France were 
allowed to remain ; the rest were turned adrift with the clothes 
on their backs. But he had not counted upon the destruction 
wrought among his ranks by fever and dysentery. The force 
was in no condition to undertake new siege operations. The 
obvious course was to leave a garrison in Harfleur, and withdraw 
the rest of the army to England for the winter. Henry, however. 

414 The Conquest and Loss of France 

elected instead to establish his garrison, to send home the sick, 
and to march himself with the rest of his troops to Calais. If, 
as he probably expected, no French army should attack him on 
the march, France would certainly lose the very httle heart that 
it so far displayed. If he were attacked and won a victory, the 
EngUsh prestige would rise very much as after Crecy. That he 
might be attacked and annihilated was an alternative which 
Henry did not apparently contemplate at all. 

The force which started from Harfleur probably numbered 

about six thousand men, five-sixths of them archers, many of 

them in no very good condition. They were pro- 

toAgincourt, visioned on the hypothesis that they would reach 


Calais in eight days, the least time possible by the 
shortest route. The march was directed to the mouth of the 
Somme, with the intention of crossing the river after the example 
of Edward in. at Blanchetaque. But the ford was held in force, 
and the English had to march up the river again, searching vainly 
for a passage until the ninth day, when they were already in 
straits for provisions. A French army had been collecting. 
French troops had hitherto accompanied their march along the 
Somme, with the river between. When, however, the English 
army had found a crossing, the main French army started in 
pursuit. A fortnight after the march began the opposing host 
threw itself into Agincourt, blocking the advance to Calais. 
The English, on short rations, and already disposed to dysentery, 
had been reduced to a still worse pUght by the evil weather of the 
last days. On the morning of 25th October the two armies were 
drawn up facing each other. There was open ground between 
The battle, them, but it was mostly plough land and exception- 
26tii Oct. aUy heavy because of the recent rains. But the 

open ground was narrow enough to secure Henry's extended hne 
from being outflanked. The French end was narrower, com- 
pelling the French to form themselves in three masses, one 
behind the other, dismounted except for squadrons of cavalry 
on the wings and in the rear battalion. Each was probably as 
large as the entire English army, and two-thirds of them were 
' lances.' As to the English, it would be more correct to say that 

4i6 The Conquest and Loss of France 

the archers were arrayed witli three troops of men-at-arms be- 
tween their regiments than that there were three ' battles ' with 
archers on their flanks. The whole army was formed in a single 
line. It would have suited Henry for the French to make the 
attack ; but at all costs he had to fight, and when the French 
stood immovable the English were obliged to advance, the archers 
carr5dng with them the stakes which they had been ordered to 
prepare to form a portable palisade. But when the English had 
advanced a quarter of a mile the French in turn began to advance, 
moving slowly over the heavy ground. Thereupon the English 
halted ; the archers planted their stakes and bent their bows. 
The French horse charged, but were rolled over by the storm of 
arrows before they reached the English line. The mass of foot- 
men pushed forward, their heavy armour making movement over 
the heavy ground exceedingly difficult. Still they pressed on 
till they reached the English, and by sheer weight began to carry 
them back. But they had no room to ply their weapons ; the 
English archers, who being lightly armed, could move with com- 
parative activity on the soil which clogged the movements of their 
opponents, fell upon them with axes and maces and hewed them 
down ; and he who was once down had no chance of rising again. 
Then the English broke over the heaped masses of the fallen 
foe and fell upon the second phalanx, the main body of the army, 
smiting it in like manner. The third ' battle,' which had re- 
mained mounted (in order to pursue the English when jiut to 
flight), broke in a panic flight themselves instead, save for one 
squadron which made a desperate charge. A false alarm that a 
fresh force had fallen upon the baggage in the rear caused Henry 
to give the order that the prisoners were to be slain ; he dared not 
risk the chance of his small and now exhausted force being over- 
whelmed, and the ugly business was partially carried out before 
it was discovered that the alarm was a false one. 

The victory was as overwhelming and more astonishing than 
that of Crecy. According to the English accounts, only some 
Result of hundred and twenty of the English were killed all 
Agincourt. told, including the duke of York, the earl of Suffolk, 
and a couple of knights. One French account multiplies the 

Henry V. 417 

English losses by twelve, but it is unsupported by any other 
record. Of the French there fell fifteen hundred nobles and 
knights, and nearly twice as many gentlemen ; of all the slain 
only about a quarter were common folk ; of prisoners there were 
more than a thousand even after the slaughter, among them being 
Charles of Orleans. Henry was able to continue his march 
towards Calais on the following day, and three weeks after the 
great battle landed in England with his war-worn but trium- 
phant troops. The archers had won the battle of Agincourt, 
but they had won it at hand-strokes, not with their bows. 

Henry i.'s campaign had taught him that the piecemeal con- 
quest of Normandy would be a more difficult task than he had at 
first anticipated. But he had secured his base of operations at 
Harfleur, and he would enter on any new campaign with all the 
overwhelming prestige of Agincourt. However, there were to 
be no more displays of calculated rashness ; preparations for the 
next invasion were to be made on a scale which precluded haste. 
After Agincourt, in England he could count upon getting all that 
he might ask in the way of supplies. 

During the two years' interval came the picturesque episode 
of the emperor Sigismund's visit to England. Sigismund had 
procured the council of Constance, which was to put 
an end to the Great Schism and restore unity to sigismund, 


Christendom. So far the council had succeeded in 
getting rid of two out of the three rival popes ; it had also burnt 
John Huss as a heretic, ignoring the safe-conduct granted to him 
by the emperor, whereby the way was prepared for deluging 
middle Europe with the blood of the Hussite wars. Also there 
remained in hand the serious question whether the council would 
set about the work of reformation first and would then elect a 
new pope, or would elect a pope and then set about the reforma- 
tion. Sigismund wished to reconcile England and France, hoping 
thereby to procure concord in the general council. No emperor 
had hitherto visited England in state, and when Sigismund 
arrived on his mission of reconcihation he was with great cere- 
mony stayed from landing until he had given full assurance that 
he did not come with any intent to claim Imperial lordship over 

Innes's Eng. Hi3t.— Vol. .. 2D 

4 1 8 The Conquest and Loss of France 

England. After this solemn fonnality he was permitted to land 
and very handsomely entertained ; but Henry succeeded in 
persuading him that England was entirely in the right in her 
quarrel with France, and that while France remained unreason- 
able it was vain to hope for a peace. The emperor ended by 
entering on a league with England, though nothing conspicuous 
resulted therefrom. 

Duke John of Burgundy had contributed to the victory of 
Agincourt by restraining his own vassals from joining the French 
army, though many of his party had at the last 
factions, placed country above faction. Charles of Orleans, 

his rival, was one of the prisoners taken at the battle. 
Not long after the battle the dauphin Louis died, and was suc- 
ceeded as dauphin by his next brother John. The king and the 
dauphin were in the hands of Armagnac, the Orleanist chief, and 
Burgundy still chose to remain in secret alliance with Henry, 
which involved his neutrality, though not his actual co-operation. 
For a moment, however, it seemed that the face of things in 
France might be changed when the dauphin John escaped from 
Armagnac, whose control was irksome, and joined Burgundy. 
But in the spring of 1417 Prince John died ; the third dauphin 
Charles remained in Armagnac's hands. Burgundy returned to 
his attitude of secret favour to Henry ; he knew that open 
alliance with the enemy of France would ruin him. 

In the summer, then. Burgundy was marching against Arma- 
gnac, when Henry's second army of invasion landed on the Seine 
estuary at Touques, opposite Harfleur. Henry 
second knew that Armagnac was too busy with Burgundy, 

invasion, who was making for Paris itself, to defend Nor- 
mandy ; and he laid siege to Caen. By the end of 
September Caen, Lisieux, and Bayeux had fallen. The king of 
England maintained stringent discipline in his army. No de- 
vastation of the country was permitted ; churches and women 
were rigorously protected. Normandy should understand that 
Henry's reign was to be the reign of law and justice. But where 
he had made good his footing his subjects must swear allegiance ; 
those who were not ready to do so must depart with what they 

Henry V, 419 

could carry. For the most part the people, angry at having been 
deserted by the French government, came in readily. Henry 
garrisoned the towns, and in effect placed them under a military 
governor, but promised them their chartered liberties. Through 
the autumn and winter the king continued to reduce, one after 
another, the fortresses of south-western Normandy, having 
negotiated the neutrality of Brittany and Anjou. Scotland 
during all this time was kept almost, though not altogether, quiet 
by the Regent Albany, who was perhaps in some fear of the re- 
lease of his nephew the king, and also had in some degree been 
bound over by the actual release of his son Murdoch. The anti- 
Enghsh party, however, headed at this time by the Douglases, 
were restive ; and, in spite of the formal peace, perpetrated an 
unsuccessful attack, known as the Foul Raid, upon Roxburgh, 
which, with Berwick, had remained in the hands of the English. 
During the winter the restless outlaw Oldcastle was captured, 
condemned for treason and heresy, and burnt. 

By the end of September 1418, Henry had practically com- 
pleted the conquest of Normandy west of the Seine, and had sat 

down before the great city of Rouen to reduce it. 

° ■' Progress of 

Meanwhile the Burgundians and Armagnacs had war and 

been continuing their internecine straggle. In the J^°g'°°' 
winter of 1417-18 neither party had the upper hand, 
and there were in France two governments going on simul- 
taneously : the queen Isabel, who was with Burgundy, claiming 
the regency on the one hand, while the dauphin Charles, who was 
with Armagnac, claimed it on the other. The Araiagnacs held 
Paris, but the mob was Burgundian : at the end of May the mob 
rose, and there was an appalling massacre of the Armagnacs, 
though the dauphin himself succeeded in escaping. This gave 
Burgundy the ascendency, though southern France adhered to 
the dauphin. The duke found himself forced to choose between 
open adherence to Henry or open resistance to him. He could 
not venture on the former course ; and therefore Henry, when 
he attacked Rouen, found it powerfully garrisoned. 

In the autumn the blockade had become rigorous. Both 
Burgundy and the dauphin opened negotiations with the English, 

420 The Conquest and Loss of France 

but Henry persistently maintained his terms at a higher point 
than either Burgundy or the dauphin could dare to concede, 
sieee of '^^^ ^reat garrison of Rouen thrust many thousands 

Rouen, of non-combatants outside its gates ; but the king 

ep .- an. .^yo^jfj jjot Suffer them to pass his lines. They lay 
and starved, kept ah\'e chiefly by such food as the pity of the 
English soldiery flung to them — a supply which did not save 
two-thirds of them from dying. The garrison was conquered 
by sheer starvation. When its submission was actually in sight 
Henry broke off negotiations both with Burgund)' and with the 
dauphin. Burgundy only made one futile raid, little more than 
a pretence, against the English Unes. At last Rouen surrendered 
in January. The town was required to pay a heavy ransom, 
otherwise those of the people who would swear allegiance to 
Henry were allowed to remain and retain their property. Nearly 
all of them took the oath. 

When Rouen had fallen the reduction of the rest of Nor- 
mandy was merely a matter of time. By Easter only some half- 
dozen fortresses were untaken ; by the end of the year even 
Coeur de Lion's aJmost impregnable fortress of Chateau Gaillard 
was forced to surrender. 

With nearly all Normandy in his obedience, Henry could very 
nearly dictate his own terms, and it was with Burgundy and Queen 
Isabel that he naturally chose to negotiate in the 
Montereau spring and summer ; they had in their hands both the 
princess whom he wished to marry, and the mad king. 
But Henry's terms always rose. Katharine and her dower, all 
Normandy and Aquitaine, did not suffice him ; he must have 
also Anjou and the feudal supremacy over Brittany, besides 
Ponthieu. But this was too much even for Burg;undy, to whom 
the Armagnacs were now offering terms of reconciUation. Duke 
John came to an agreement with the dauphin ; the two vowed 
amity, and by the end of August each of thefn had assembled a 
large force, while Henry had at last collected from Engltind the 
reinforcements for which he had been waiting, and had already 
begun his advance on the Seine. Then the dauphin ruined his 
own cause. The reconciliation had been nothing more than a 

Henry V. 421 

blind. Burgundy went to meet him at Montereau to arrange a 
campaign ; they met on the bridge, and Burgundy was murdered 
in the very act of doing homage to the dauphin. 

The foul deed drove the whole Burgundian faction into the 
arms of the English king. Young Duke Philip had been no 
zealous supporter of his father's selfish policy, but now the thirst 
for revenge conquered every other sentiment. Six weeks after 
the murder the Burgundians were again negotiating with Henry, 
and in May 1420 the definitive Treaty of Troyes was Treaty of 
signed. Henry was to leave the crown of France Troyes, 1420. 
to Charles vi. during his hfe ; but for that term he was to be 
regent, and the crown of France was to pass to him on the king's 
death. The dauphin was disinherited for his crimes ; and 
Henry's queen would be the French princess. France itself was 
her dowry. The two countries were to be then united under 
one crown, but each was to preserve its own laws and liberties. 
Henry was to rule France with the advice and consent of the 
Three Estates, as he ruled in England with the advice and assent 
of the Three Estates. 

Troyes lies on the upper Seine in the county of Champagne, 
dominated by Burgundy. There the treaty was signed on 
2ist May. Eleven days later Henry married his princess ; on 
4th June he was again on the march with Burgundy. Sens 
fell, then Montereau, but Melun detained him for four months 
before it was starved out. At the end of November he was in 
Paris where he kept his Christmas — the city was now attached 
to the Burgundian faction — and then sailed for England, leaving 
his brother Clarence to command in France. 

During Henry's absences he had left England in the capable 
charge of his second brother, John, duke of Bedford, until the end 
of 1419, when Bedford had joined the king in France, and his 
place at home had been taken by the youngest brother, Humphrey 
of Gloucester. During this last year parliament had been grow- 
ing restive, but the country was satisfied by the mere presence 
of the popular monarch. But he was barely at home for six 
months. During his absence from France Clarence had met with 
a great disaster. The dauphin's partisans had begun to harass 

42 2 The Conqtiest and Loss of France 

the south-west of Normandy ; with them was a large contingent 
of Scots. For though Henry chose to treat Scots who were 
fighting for the French as rebels against King James, it had 
become impossible to restrain them. They were now commanded 
by Archibald Douglas and the earl of Buchan, the brother of 
Murdoch of Albany, who had succeeded their father in the 
regency. Clarence marched against his force, which feU back 
Baug^, to Bauge in Anjou mth the duke in pursuit. He 

Marot 1421. attempted to surprise them by a forced march. But 
his van had crossed the river to fall upon them before his archers 
could come up ; the Scots and French quickly rallied and wiped 
out the whole force which had crossed the river, killing Clarence 
himself and taking many captives. So striking a victory gave 
fresh life to the dauphin's cause ; the English were driven back 
out of Maine and Anjou into Normandy; and in a few weeks 
Chartres, only some fifty miles distant from Paris, was being 

Henry had no time to lose. Without waiting for regular 
supplies he raised an immediate loan, gathered aU the troops he 
Henry in could muster, five thousand men, and was back in 
France, 1421. Paris on the 4th July. The enemy did not await 
his attack, but forthwith raised the siege of Chartres and feU 
back into Touraine across the Loire. Henry wasted no time 
in attempts to bring them to an engagement, but turned to 
complete the subjugation of the Isle of France. Its fortresses 
fell one after another, till in October the king sat down before 
Meaux. Through the winter and through the spring Meaux held 
out obstinately. Still Henry sat doggedly before it, though 
dysentery smote his army as it had done at Harfleur. Henry 
himself was stricken ; but his heart was only hardened. As 
the spring advanced reinforcements came to the besiegers; by 
the second week in May the stubborn captain surrendered. 
Having made a practice of hanging Burgundian prisoners, he 
was hanged himself on the tree which had served for a gallows. 

But the career of the conqueror was almost over. Already he 
was almost incapacitated by the progress of the disease which 
had laid its hold upon him. When news came in July that the 

Bedford and Jeanne Dare 423 

dauphin had invaded Burgundy he made a desperate effort to 

march against him. But it was impossible. He was carried 

to Vincennes. There, with the hand of death heavy _ ^^ , 

•^ Death of 

upon him, he made his last dispositions for the Henry v., 
government of his two realms in the name of the 
infant Henry, the weakly child who had been bom in the previous 
December. Bedford was to be regent in France unless Philip 
of Burgundy claimed the office ; Gloucester was to be regent 
in England, where he had again been left in charge. Thomas 
Beaufort, duke of Exeter, was to have the care of the infant. 
To the last Henry declared himself convinced of the righteousness 
of his cause, and urged that there should be no peace with Charles 
of Valois. On 31st August he died. His death saved England 
from the conquest of France, since there was no other man 
capable of accomphshing that task ; no other perhaps capable of 
convincing himself completely that to accomplish the task was 
to serve God, in the absence of which conviction the task was not 
possible at all. Nor could good have come of it in the long run ; 
since a king who lived in England could not have preserved the 
obedience of France, a king who lived in France could not have 
preserved the obedience of England, and a king with a dubious 
title to either crown, who tried to live in both countries, could 
have preserved the obedience of neither, at least unless he had 
been a second Henry v. 

II. Bedford and Jeanne Darc, 1422-1435 

The conqueror died leaving a nine months' infant king of 
England and, under the Treaty of Troyes, prospective king of 
France. Within two months he was followed to jonn, Duke 
the grave by the unhappy Charles vi., and the "f Bedford, 
babe's title was solemnly proclaimed. That title England 
intended to make good, and the task was in the hands of 
a man whose high quahties of statesmanship and generalship 
ahnost enabled him to succeed. Bedford's integrity and loyalty 
were above all possibility of cavil ; in soldiership he was a master 
of all that could be learnt from his brilliant brother. His 

424 The Conquest and Loss of France 

unfailing tact carried him successfully through diplomatic 
situations of extreme difficulty. All men admired and honoured 
him. If he lacked anything of his brother's excellences it was 
perhaps that magical touch of personality which iilled Henry's 
followers with adoring enthusiasm. But in one respect he stood 
at a definite disadvantage as compared witli his brother ; he was 
not king. A king so idolised as Henry was practically an 
autocrat; whereas Bedford's own conscience ^^•ould have for- 
bidden him, not being a king, to act autocratically. 

Englishmen knew that Bedford was the man in whom the}' 
must put their whole trust. Henry had chosen him for the most 
difficult position — the French regency, the conduct of the war, 
the preservation of the Burgundian alliance. For the less 

difficult task of heading the English government at 
and home, he had chosen the younger brother Gloucester. 

But the council in England knew by experience, 
better perhaps than Henry himself, the quality of the two brothers. 
Henry's will had no constitutional validity ; they refused to 
ratify it, and only accepted Gloucester as protector, head of the 
government, principal member of the council, while Bedford 
should be out of England. Gloucester had great talents, but he 
was unstable and incapable of subordinating what he deemed his 
personal interests to the national welfare ; Bedford would never 
permit any personal interest to rtlake him swerve from the straight 
path of patriotic endeavour. And Dake Hmnphrey's self-seeking 
proved to be the most serious difficulty with which Duke John 
had to deal, though the trouble he caused was not only in the 
governance of England. There, in the council, he was at most 
primus inter pares ; he could by no means dictate to his fellow- 
councillors. But he could and did make trouble for his brother's 
diplomacy. It is to be observed that no one in England dreamed 
of disturbing the succession. There was no distrust between 
the emphatically Lancastrian houses of Beaufort, NeviUe, and 
Beauchamp and their fellows on the council, the earl of March, 
Percy of Northumberland, and Mowbray of Nottingham. 

One advantage Bedford enjoyed — the sluggish incompetence 
of Charles vii., the legitimate king of France, and of the group 

Bedford and Jeanne Dare 425 

who surrounded him. With the French Bedford was more 
popular than his brother had been. His administration was in 
full accord with the most liberal interpretation of the Bedford in 
Treaty of Troyes. The France which acknowledged '^^'^'^''^' "^^^ 
King Henry was governed by Frenchmen ; there was no display 
of an English domination ; English and Burgundians worked 
harmoniously together ; the friendship was cemented by 
Bedford's own marriage to Philip of Burgundy's sister Anne. 
The English troops were kept in hand as thoroughly as if they 
had been quartered on EngKsh soil. A year after Henry's death 
Charles's supporters had been all but cleared out of Champagne 
and Picardy, as well as the Isle of France, Normandy, and the 
Burgundian dominions. The finishing blow had been struck in 
August at Crevant on the Burgundian border, where, in a fierce 
contest with a force chiefly of Scots, the English redeemed the 
disaster of Bauge. 

Next year the work in this region was completed, though it 
was temporarily interrupted by a diversion in South Normandy 
wherein the Scots again played a leading part, verneuii, 
They were led by the most valiant and most unlucky ^*^*- 
of captains, the earl of Douglas himself, the same who had been 
taken prisoner both at Homildon Hill and at Shrewsbury. 
Bedford marched against them, brought them to action at 
Verneuii, and won a hard-fought but decisive victory. According 
to his own statement seven thousand Scots and French were 
slain or captured, Douglas and Buchan both being in the former 
list. The following year, 1425, ought to have been occupied in 
the absorption of Maine. But Bedford was recalled to England 
by troubles for which his brother of Gloucester was responsible, 
and it was not till 1427 that he was able to return and prepare a 
fresh advance. In the interval the Ueutenants he left behind 
him, Warwick and Salisbury, held their ground, but could practi- 
cally do nothing more. 

Duke Humphrey was assuredly the evil genius of England at 
this time, though he won a surprising popularity with the 
labouring class and especially with the Londoners, which earned 
him the most undeserved title of ' Good Duke Humphrey.' 

426 The Conquest and Loss of France 

Even in 1423 he very nearly wret-.ked the Burgundian alliance 
for the sake of his private ambitions. Jacquelaine, the heiress 
of Hainault, had been, unhappily for herself, married 
makes to PhiUp of Burgundy's most objectionable cousin, 

trouble, TqIjjj Qf Brabant. She fled from her husband, fell 

1423-1424. ■' . t- • 

in love with Humphrey, and tried to obtain a 
divorce, which was refused by the new pope, Martin v., who 
had been elected by the Council of Constance. It was granted, 
however, by the last deposed pope, Benedict xiii., whereupon 
Humphrey married Jacquelaine and claimed her counties of 
Hainault and Holland. Philip sided with his cousin of Brabant, 
and it was only with extreme difficulty that Bedford at the time 
managed to prevent hostilities. In the autumn of 1424 Glou- 
cester, no longer to be restrained, went over to Hainault, which 
rose in favour of the countess. Gloucester was soon ejected, 
though he left Jacquelaine behind. He had already so irritated 
Philip that the duke had been on the verge of declaring war 
against the English, and had even begun to negotiate with the 
dauphin, though he was at last pacified by the vigour with which 
Bedford repudiated his brother's proceedings. Bedford's diplo- 
macy was undoubtedly aided by the influence of his wife, Anne 
of Burgundy, Philip's sister. 

Two other events of importance had taken place in England 
during these years. In 1424 King James i. was set free and 
James returned to Scotland with his bride, Joan Beaufort. 

Stewart jt was part of the bargain that Scotland was 

and Edmund . 

Mortimer, not to aid the enemies of England, and James did 

^ ■ in fact check the stream of Scots who were 

making their way to join the national contingent in France, 

although the battle of Vemeuil took place after his hberation. 

His subjects in France continued to fight, but there was no 

material addition to their numbers. The second event was the 

death of Edmund of March in Ireland, whither he had been 

dispatched as lieutenant at the instance of Gloucester. Edmund 

left no children, so that his heir, the heir of aU the claims of 

the house of Mortimer, was the boy Richard of York, the son 

of Edmund's sister Anne and of the traitor Richard, earl of 

Bedford and Jeanne Dare 427 

Cambridge. The child had succeeded to the dukedom of York on 

the death at Agincourt of his childless uncle Edward, the elder 

brother of Richard of Cambridge. It was curious that Richard 

should have come into this double inheritance, because the 

brothers of his father and mother respectively both died childless. 

The affair which actually compelled Bedford's return to 

England at the end of 1425 was the struggle between Henry 

Beaufort, bishop of Winchester and chancellor, -q-^q 

and Gloucester. The bishop, with the approval of Humpiirey 

and Bishop 
Bedford and most of the councu, was the effective Beaufort, 

head of the home government. Gloucester, always 
disgusted because he had been refused the powers which 
Henry v. had designated for him, incited the Londoners to 
clamour against the bishop and even to attempt an armed attack 
on his palace. Bedford's reappearance restored order. Parlia- 
ment was called in February, when Gloucester brought a 
series of preposterous charges against Beaufort. The peers 
pronounced in effect that the charges were entirely baseless, 
but for the sake of peace Beaufort was magnanimous enough to 
resign the chancellorship. When Bedford returned to France in 
the spring of 1427, Beaufort accompanied him out of the country 
with the intention of leading a crusade against the Hussites who 
were now in arms in Bohemia. It was at this time that the 
bishop accepted the cardinalate which he had long refused in 
deference to popular sentiment. Warwick was sent back to 
England to help Archbishop Chichele to curb the factiousness of 

The strain of the prolonged war was telling upon England ; 
neither men nor supplies were forthcoming to the extent neces- 
sary for a really vigorous campaign of conquest. 
In 1428, however, Bedford began the advance, operations, 


choosing Orleans as his point of attack upon the 
dominions which acknowledged Charles vii. In the south of 
France, only the portion of Guienne and Gascony, the fragment 
of Aquitaine, which had always remained loyal to its dukes the 
kings of England, was ever in English hands during the war, 
though the French had never hitherto directed any efforts to 

428 The Conquest and Loss of France 

its subjugation. The struggle throughout was on the hnes of 
the English advance from the north. In October SaUsbury with 
a force of perhaps five thousand men sat down before Orleans, 
which he hoped to carry by direct attack since he had not nearly 
Orleans enough troops to establish an effective blockade, 

besieged. gy^. ^i^ithin a fortnight he was killed by a cannon 
shot, and the command was taken over by William de la Pole, 
earl of Suffolk, who contented himself with making the inadequate 
blockade as effective as he could. So conducted, the siege might 
have continued indefinitely, since the relief hardly presented 
serious difficulties. Yet the garrison were growing disheartened, 
weary of waiting for the help which never came, when the 
whole aspect of the war was changed by the appearance on the 
scene of a new figure, the Maid who saved France. 

At Domremy, on the outermost border of Champagne, lived 
Jeanne Dare, whose name the English twisted into Joan of Arc. 
Joan of Arc, In the sohtude of her rustic work the hiunble and 
^*^'' pious peasant girl was in the habit of seeing Divine