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It is the purpose of this book to present in a simple and con- 
nected story the record of the founding, unfolding, and expansion 
of English nationality. In covering so vast a field an author must 
necessarily depend largely upon the work of others; yet in select- 
ing and organizing material, and in presenting well-worn themes 
from new points of view he may reasonably be expected to show 
some originality. He may also be expected to present with 
accuracy and simplicity the ordinary body of technical material 
which reader or student naturally looks for in a text-book on Eng- 
lish History. He ought also to present this material supported 
by such a body of narrative as shall impart some life to events 
described, so that the institutions of a people shall appear not as 
mere abstractions but as human things, and the great personages 
of their history not as the characters of an algebraic formula but 
as actual men and women. This, in a word, has been the aim of 
the present work. That it has not been attained in many respects, 
no one can be more conscious than the author himself. Only one 
who has gone through the labor entailed by such a task can appre- 
ciate the difficulty of attaining even ordinary accuracy in the state- 
ment of simple fact, to say nothing of properly balancing action 
and motive, or of placing events always in their proper proportions. 

In general, the plan of the book has been to weave in with a 
thread of political narrative some account of the constitutional 
and social development of the English people. In carrying out 
this plan conventional proportions have been sacrificed somewhat. 
Less space has been given to the petty squabbles of modern poli- 
ticians and the mere twaddle of court gossip but more to the 
development of early institutions ; less to the intricate processes 
of modern diplomacy, but more to Alfred and William I. and 
Henry II. and Edward I. The wars of Great Britain with 



Afghans or Zulus or Chinese have been barely mentioned, but an 
entire chapter has been given to the Norman reduction of Eng- 
land. In order, also, that each chapter may present a distinct 
movement as a whole, the familiar arrangement by reigns has 
been abandoned for an arrangement by topics. 

No attempt has been made to give a bibliography or even a 
complete body of notes. The few references which appear as 
footnotes are designed simply to show reader or student, who may 
not have the command of a large library, where he may easily 
reach a few of the most important authorities or sources. Every 
school library, however humble, should place within reach of its 
students such standard works as those connected with the names 
of Freeman, Greene, Ramsay, Stubbs, Taswell-Langmead, Nor- 
gate, Lingard, Round, Cunningham, Seebohm, and Gardiner, or 
such collections of sources as those connected with the names of 
Stubbs, Gee and Hardy, Prothero, and Gardiner. The English 
Historical Review, also, will be found to be a mine of wealth to both 
student and teacher, and a complete file may still be easily obtained 
for a very moderate outlay. The Epoch Series will also be found 
invaluable in a small library. References have been given to these 
works rather than to the more formidable collections which are 
beyond the reach of most students, in the hope that the references 
will be actually used and thus prove of some practical value in the 
more extended study of important movements. Where time per- 
mits, such documents as Magna Charta, The Bill of Rights, The 
Act of Union, The Bill of Union, and the several Reform Bills of 
the nineteenth century should be carefully read and analyzed. 

In preparing the work I have levied heavily upon my old stu- 
dents, my colleagues of the Department of History in the Univer- 
sity of Chicago, and upon the members of my own family. Special 
credit is due to Dr. James F. Baldwin of Vassar College who has 
put his extensive knowledge of the English Feudal Period at my 
service by gathering for me the material upon the basis of which 
I have prepared the text; he has also read the finished MS. of 
this part of the work and made many valuable criticisms and sug- 
gestions from which I have been glad to profit. For a similar 
service in the preparation of the MS. upon the period of the 


Tudors and the Stuarts I am indebted to my colleague, Mr. Ralph 
C. H. Catterall, and upon the Hanoverian period to Professor 
Charles Truman Wyckoff of the Bradley Polytechnic Institute. 
I am greatly indebted, also, to my colleague, Dr. J. W. Thompson 
for assistance in reading the proof of the maps and for sugges- 
tions which have added greatly to their value; also to the un- 
wearied service of Miss Priscilla Grace Gilbert of Chicago in 
verifying quotations, the spelling of proper names, the correct- 
ness of dates, and in preparing the MS. for the printer. I wish 
also to mention the patient service and kindly interest of my 
colleague Professor George S. Goodspeed of the University of 
Chicago, and of my father, Mr. J. C. Terry of St. Paul, Minnesota, 
in reading the proof of the entire work. 

The University of Chicago, 
August 1, 1901. 



Preface ,,....iii 

List of Maps . ,....xi 

List of Tables ............ xii 

The Era of National Foundation 

From Earliest Times to 1042 


I. Introduction — Britain before the coming of the Teutons 1 

II. The Teutonic Settlement of Britain 18 

III. The Rival Confederacies of Teutonic Britain, and the Found- 

ing of the National Church 32 

IV. The Danish Wars — Alfred the Great and the Founding of the 

English Kingdom 57 

V. The Reconquest of the Danelagh and the Expansion of the 
English Kingdom under the Great Kings of the House of 

Alfred 78 

VI. The Days of Dunstan; the Early English Kingdom passes 

Meridian 93 

VII. The Decline of the Early English Kingdom; the Era of 

Danish Kings 106 

The Era of National Organization 

From 1042 to 1297 

I. The Shadow of the Norman 125 

II. The Conquest of England 145 

III. The Norman Reorganization of the Kingdom and the Intro- 
duction of Feudalism 167 




IV. The Organization of the Kingdom Continued — The English 

Conquest of Normandy 184 

V. Feudal Reaction and the Reconstitution of the Kingdom. 202 

VI. The Growth of Popular Rights and the Loss of the Continental 

Possessions of the Angevins 230 

VII. The Great Charter 249 

VIII. The Struggle for the Charter 266 

IX. The Chartered Confirmed 294 


The Era of National Awakening 

book i — social awakening 

From 1297 to 1485 

I. The New Era; Edward I. and the Beginning of the Wars 
of Foreign Conquest — The Struggle of the Scots for 

Independence.. 317 

II. The Barons and the Royal Favorites — The Independence of 

Scotland Established 334 

III. Edward III. and the Opening of the Hundred Years' War 350 

IV. The Decline of Edward III. — Second Stage of Hundred Years' 

War 381 

V. The Peasant Revolt — The Attack of the King upon the 

Constitution 403 

VI. The Constitutional Kings of the House of Lancaster — The 

Third Stage of the Hundred Years' War 427 

VII. The Last Stage of the Hundred Years' War— The Rivalry of 

Lancaster and York 450 

VIII. The Fall of York and the Close of the Dynastic Struggle 474 


From 1485 to 1603 

I. The Restoration of the Monarchy 494 

II. The Monarchy Supreme — The Administration of Wolsey 512 

III. The Ecclesiastical Revolt of England 528 

IV. The Progress of the Reform 548 

V. The Catholic Reaction 571 

VI. Elizabeth; the Reform Established 587 

VII Elizabeth; The Duel with Spain 606 



From loo:i to last) 


I. The Breach Between King and Commons , 618 

II. The Era of Arbitrary Government 647 

III. The Long Parliament and the Civil War.. 609 

IV. The Parliament and the Army 697 

V. Cromwell and the Protectorate .... 722 

VI. The Stuart Restoration . ... 742 

VII. The Birth of the Whig Party ,.... 760 

VIII. The Whig Revolution 782 

The Era op National Expansion 

From 1089 to the Close of the 19th Century 

I. The Beginning of Party Rule in England and the Founding of 

British Foreign Policy 805 

II. The Completion of the Work of the Revolution 836 

III. Walpoleand the First Era of Whig Rule 861 

IV. The Pelhams and Pitt— The Ocean Empire Secured 885 

V. George III. — The First Period of Tory Rule and the Loss of 

the American Colonies 911 

VI. The Second Period of Tory Rule and the French Revolution... 941 

VII. The Eastern Question and the First Era of Reform 970 

VIII. Peel and the Dissolution of the Old Parties — The Crimean 

War — Palmerston and British Foreign Policy 1009 

IX. The Rise of the New Democracy — Gladstone and the Second 

Era of Reform , 1037 

Index 1070 



Teutonic Britain about 600 36 

Britain about 792 52 

Partition of England by Treaty of Wedmore 67 

England: Later Expansion of Wessex 80 

The Great Earldoms 118 

England: 1066-1068 .*. 145 

England and Scotland: 1066-1328 184 

The Angevin Dominions 208 

Battle of Bannockburn 338 

Campaigns of Hundred Years' War 350 

Battle of Crecy 365 

Battle of Poitiers 377 

Parts of France held by England after Treaty of Troyes 380 

France by Treaty of Bretigny 380 

General Map of Hundred Years' War 444 

Field of Agincourt 446 

The Wars of the Roses 467 

England during Tudor Period 528 

Battle of Edgehill 684 

England during Civil Wars and Later Stuart Period 686 

Battle of Marston Moor 689 

Battle of Naseby 694 

Ireland during Civil Wars and Later Stuart Period 710 

Scotland during Civil Wars and Later Stuart Period 712 

Battle of Punbar 714 

Europe: 1713-14 836 

Battle of Blenheim or Hochstadt 810 

Battle of Ramillies 844 

Spanish Netherlands 850 

Europe: 1789 _ 950 

Europe: 1812 970 

Peninsular Campaigns of Wellesley 969 

Battle of Waterloo.... 973 

India 1028 

South Africa 1055 



The Family op Alfred 57 

Rival English and Danish Royal Families 106 

The Dukes of Normandy. Early Connection with the Eng- 
lish Line 125 

Contemporaries of Edward the Confessor and William 1 166 

The Family of the Conqueror 167 

Families of Blois and Boulogne 202 

Contemporaries of later Norman and Early Angevin Kings.. 229 

Family of Henry II 230 

Family of John Lackland 266 

Prominent Contemporaries of the Era of the Charter 293 

The English Constitution from the 11th to the 14th Century 316 

The Disputed Succession to the Scottish Throne 317 

Contemporaries of Edward 1 333 

The House of Lancaster 334 

The Valois Succession 350 

The Uncles of Edward III 351 

The Breton Succession 361 

Family of Edward III 381 

Contemporaries of Edward III 402 

The House of Lancaster 427 

The Descent of the Rival House of York 450 

The Beauforts 474 

The Woodvilles ; 478 

The Younger Branch of the Nevilles — The De la Poles 494 

Prominent Characters of the Fifteenth Century 511 

Royal Descent of the Staffords 512 

The Howards 548 

The Stuart Succession 587 

Prominent Contemporaries of the Later Tudors 605 

Contemporaries of the Early Stuarts 696 

The Rival Lines of Stuart 805 

Contemporaries of the Later Stuarts 835 

Claimants to the Spanish Succession 836 

Descent of the House of Hanover 861 

Prominent British Statesmen of Modern Times Who Have 

Entered the Peerage 1069 








The entire area of the British Islands, roughly estimated, is 
about one hundred and twenty thousand square miles. Of this, 

England occupies less than one-half, about fifty-eight 
hmiJof 1 thousand square miles; not a very large country as 
"reatrwss modern states go. And yet, what has been lacking in 

size, has been more than made up by physical conditions, 
the most favorable to vigorous and prosperous national life. An 
insular position, midway in the north temperate zone, provides 
a climate tempered, yet invigorated by ocean breezes, and sup- 
plying that most urgent of agricultural needs, an abundant 
and regular rainfall. The soil is diversified with mountain, 
river, and lowland; and under intelligent tillage, is generally 
capable of great fertility. To resources of soil and favorable 
climatic conditions, is also to be added a vast wealth in minerals, 
by no means the least considerable of the national assets. 
Above all, and of the greatest political importance, the continuous 



boundary of ocean and channel, by protecting the people from 
foreign interference, has afforded opportunity for the develop- 
ment of unique political and social institutions, the normal 
unfolding of a healthy national life. The long seaboard, more- 
over, set with numerous and commodious harbors, has naturally 
suggested commerce and naval enterprise; offered a ready outlet 
for a population straitened by inflexible natural boundaries, but 
peculiarly energetic and adventure loving; and inspired those vast 
schemes of colonization, which have resulted in the founding of a 
'Greater Britain beyond the seas. 

The population of the British Islands represents in about equal 
proportions the two great branches of the Aryan race, who have 

taken possession of central and western Europe, — the 
So/Ta?" Celts and the Teut <> ns - To tne fir st belong the Scots, 
SSSto the Welsh, the Irish, and the Manx; to the second the 

English. The Celts, who were the first to come, 
found another race in occupation before them; these they 
did not exterminate, but absorbed. The Teutons in turn over- 
whelmed the Celts, and while they probably expelled them entirely 
from the eastern parts of the island, in the west and the north, 
Celt and Teuton rapidly blended, until to-day they so shade 
into each other that it is difficult to tell where Celtic Britain 
begins, or Teutonic Britain leaves off. Other infusions of foreign 
blood from Denmark and Normandy, from Holland and France, 
have since been received and lost in the larger population. Hence 
the population of the British Islands to-day is the result, partly, of 
a layer of population upon population, of race upon race ; and partly 
of the fitting of population to population, like the pieces of a mosaic, 
yet so skillfully set, that the seams of division are lost, and colors 
the most violent in contrast shade into each other imperceptibly. 

The history of the people of the British Islands, therefore, 
begins far back beyond the Teutonic migration, when the first of 

these populations appeared. Then a huge peninsula 
B)S tnfl °* occupied the place of the present islands, and stretched 

away from the continent, far into the northern ocean. 
Its vast areas of woodland and marsh, broken here and there by 
open country, afforded a home for the bison and the mammoth, 


the reindeer and the wolf, and many other creatures, fierce and 
strange, which have long since disappeared. A people who are 

represented to-day by the Esquimaux, fished along, the 
Paleolithic sedgy rivers, or tracked the wild beasts to their lairs 

among the uplands. They are known to scientists as 
Paleolithic or Old Stone men. Of these, two races have been 
distinguished. The oldest or first comers are called the River Drift 
men; the second comers, the Cave men. They represent the rudest 
form of human life. They made tools of flint which the Eiver 
Drift men used without handles. They also protected their bodies 
from the extremes of the weather, much more violent then than 
now, with garments made of skins, rudely stitched together with the 
tendons of wild beasts. Though barbarians of the lowest type, they 
had some artistic sense, and attempted to ornament their weapons 
with rude imitations of the creatures which they were accustomed 
to slay in the chase. Yet they had no domestic animals; knew 
nothing of spinning, or weaving; and took no care of their dead. 
Existence must have been hard and precarious at best, affording 
little to develop the nobler instincts of human nature. 

Then untold centuries passed away; the great peninsula was 
severed from the mainland, and cut up into the group of islands 

which we know to-day; a climate better suited to 

The ... . 

Neolithic primitive life also succeeded. The earlier races of 
men, the Old Stone men, or Paleolithic men, disap- 
peared ; and a new race, the Neolithic, or New Stone men, suc- 
ceeded them. These people came from the southeast, and must 
have known something of sea craft. They brought with them over 
the narrow seas the domestic animals now so familiar, — the dog 
and the sheep, the ox, the goat, and the hog. They knew some- 
thing about spinning and weaving; and reverently laid away 
their dead in long chambers, built of flat stones, over which they 
heaped pear-shaped mounds of earth. These mounds are still to 
be seen in parts of the British Islands, and are known as long bar- 
roivs. From remains found in these barrows, we learn something 
of the appearance of the New Stone men; they were somewhat 
shorter than modern Europeans, with swarthy complexions, black 
curly hair, and, probably, dark eyes. The skulls, seen from 


above, were oval ; the faces, also oval ; chins small, foreheads low, 
and cheek bones not prominent. Kindred peoples, commonly 
distinguished from later Neolithic men as Iberians or Ivernians, 
extended over all western and southern Europe. They dwelt 
among the Swiss lakes, the Lake Dwellers; they were found upon 
the plains of Italy and in the mountains of ancient Etruria. 
Within historic times they appear in the Iberians of Spain and 
the modern Basques of the Pyrenees. Their blood is repre- 
sented to-day, probably, in most of the populations of western 

How long these men of the long barrow and the oval skull, the 
first Neolithic men, remained in undisputed possession of their 

island home is not known. But sometime, perhaps 
The Celts. ■ 

twenty centuries before the beginning of the Chris- 
tian era, another people, also in the Neolithic stage, entered 
Europe, and slowly drifting westward, everywhere displaced the 
Iberians, breaking up their settlements, and either exterminating 
the inhabitants or absorbing them. These people were the Celts, 
the first great historic people of western Europe. They repre- 
sented a new race — the Aryan, now for the first time seen upon 
European soil. In marked contrast with the Iberians, the new- 
comers were tall and muscular, with fair skin, yellow hair, and 
fierce blue eyes. Their skulls were round, foreheads high and 
broad, and cheek bones prominent. They treated their dead with 
reverent care ; but covered the grave with a round or bell-shaped 
barrow. Later, when bronze had begun to take the place of stone, 
they burned their dead. 

About the seventh or eighth century before the Christian 
era, these people had completed the conquest of Gaul, and were 

beginning to press into Britain. They did not come 

The Celtic nor j 

migration to all at once, but in successive waves of population, each 
people pushing their predecessors on before them, to be 
crowded forward in turn by others who came after. In Caesar's 
day the last of these migrations had been completed; but so 
recently, that the last comers still kept up a close connection with 
their kindred of northern Gaul. During this long period the 
Celts also were passing through a very important transition. The 


first to come had used stone weapons, similar to those of the 
Iberians ; but the later comers had learned the secret of harden- 
ing copper with tin. They knew how to make huge bronze swords, 
and to protect their bodies with bronze armor and bronze shields. 
They had also learned to use the chariot in war, somewhat after 
the manner of the Greek nations of the Mediterranean. They 
must have been very formidable opponents, even to those of their 
own people who were already in Britain, and who now saw 
themselves despoiled of their choicest fields and finest hunting 

"While many such waves of Celtic population broke upon the 
British Islands during this period, they represented only two 

divisions of the race, the Goidels or Gaels, and the 
Bm>m and Britons. The Gaels are represented to-day by the 

people of Ireland and the Scotch Highlands ; the Brit- 
ons, by the Welsh. It is thought, too, that strains of the old 
Iberian blood may be detected in the short stature, black hair, 
and dark eyes which prevail in certain parts of Ireland and Scot- 
land. A map of the British Islands at the close of the Celtic 
migration would show in the hands of the Britons, middle and 
southern Britain from the Firth of Forth to the Channel and 
about one-half of Wales ; in the hands of the Goidels the modern 
Cornwall, southern Wales, with Anglesey and the adjoining penin- 
sula, the Scotch Highlands, Man, and Ireland. 

The Celts were an exceedingly interesting people, and the 
ardent researches of antiquarians have restored many of their 

customs. They understood agriculture, but their chief 
customs wealth consisted in cattle. They soon discovered the 

mineral resources of their new home, for which, espe- 
cially the tin, they found a ready market among the peoples of the 
Mediterranean. Along the channels of this ancient commerce, 

the gold and silver coins of the Greek cities of the 

south found their way into Britain, and the British Celts 

soon began to imitate them on their own account. Many of these 
imitations have been found, struck long before the era of Roman 
occupation, and bear no slight testimony to the wealth and intelli- 
gence of the people who used them, the more remarkable when we 


remember that "Saxon England practically never had a gold coin- 
age, and that even Norman England never saw a gold coin struck 
until the year 1257." l 

The Celts had kings or tribal chieftains; but they seem to have 
been unable to attain any permanent political union. Like Gaul in 

the time of Caesar, or Ireland in the time of the Plan- 
Tribal kings. . . - 

tagenets, Britain was cut up into scores of petty tribal 

families, each family held together by a theoretical kinship to a 
tribal chief. There were laws and interpreters of laws ; but beyond 
the tribal family there was no judicial machinery by which inter- 
tribal quarrels might be adjusted, or offenses might be punished. 
Hence the tribal chieftains were ever quarreling among themselves, 
and never able to secure a lasting peace. 

Another institution peculiar to the Celts was the order of 

Druids, a body of men of learning, who were held in great honor, 

and were exempt from military service and taxation. 

TJic Dvtiid/8 

They were the repositories of the learning of the 
age, which they received as oral traditions in a long and 
arduous tutelage. Like most primitive peoples, the Celts offered 
human sacrifices to their gods, and the Druids officiated in these 
grim rites. The famous Stonehenge, the remains of which are 
still to be seen in the great Salisbury plain, is generally thought to 
be a monument of such ancient British worship. Beside their 
sacerdotal functions, the Druids were also professional jurists; 
"they could give legal advice, enunciate the law, act as arbiters, 
but could not enforce a decree." They existed both in Gaul and 
Britain, and, if the later Irish brehons or judges may be regarded 
as representatives of an ancient order, probably in Ireland as well. 
The authentic record of Celtic Britain begins with the perma- 
nent Eoman occupation, about the middle of the first century of the 

Christian era. Some three centuries earlier, however, 
o^pythms 6 Pyk neas > a savant of the Greek city of Marseilles, was sent 
about 325 ou t D y th e merchants of his city to open up new trade 

relations with the people of the north coast of Europe. 
The expedition was successful, and much useful information 
was no doubt brought back to the Mediterranean cities ; but unfor- 

1 Ramsay, Foundations of England, I, p. 33. 


tunately the original record left by the explorer has been lost, and 
all that remain are a few stray references or allusions on the pages 

of his critics. When Caesar was in Gaul, he also made 
Britain, B.C. two expeditions to the island; but apparently he had no 

serious thought of conquest at the time, and proposed 
little more than a reconnoissance in force. His first expedition 
was unmistakably a failure. On his second expedition he remained 
two months, advancing beyond the Thames, and breaking up a 
confederacy of tribes which the chieftain Cassivellaunus had 
brought together to resist him. He also exacted a promise of 
tribute; but there is no evidence that a tribute was ever collected or 
that any effort was made by the Eomans at this time to secure a 
permanent footing on the island. They were soon too busy with 
their own domestic affairs to give the distant Britons further 
attention, and left them to sink again into the oblivion which for 
so many centuries had hidden their island from the eyes of civilized 
Europe; nor was it until the reign of Claudius, ninety-seven 
years later, that the Romans seriously undertook to reduce the 
Britons, or to establish their power beyond the Channel. Here 
the recorded history of Britain begins. 

A great king, Cunobelinus, the "Cymbeline" of Shakespeare, 
had closed a long and prosperous reign in eastern Britain. His 

capital was at Camulodunum, among the Trinobantes, 
of™™ tne site of tbe modern Colchester. Both north and 
^icmdius^ sou th, the neighboring tribes had yielded to his sway. 

Upon his death, however, his kingdom broke up; the 
tribes were embroiled in a bloody civil war, and soon exiled chief- 
tains began to appear at the court of Claudius, only too ready to 
sign away questionable claims to paper thrones, in order to secure 
the aid of the emperor in avenging their wrongs. Claudius deter- 
mined to interfere upon pretext of the 'alliance and friendship' of 
Rome with these dispossessed chieftains. He was, moreover, sadly 
in need of a military reputation, while the chronic disorder of the 
island promised an easy conquest — much easier than the conquest 
of the incorrigible Germans, upon whom Augustus had spent 
the whole strength of the empire to little purpose. 

Accordingly, in the summer of the year 43 A. D., Claudius sent 


forward an able general, Aulus Plautius, with an armament, number- 
ing, both legionaries and auxiliaries, about forty thousand men. The 

Britons were able to make no effective resistance to this 
^luhts 9 " 68 * force, and in a few weeks the lands of the Cantii, the 
Piautiws, region of the later Kent and Sussex, were overrun. 

So glowing were the accounts returned of the 
achievements of Roman prowess, that Claudius ventured to expose 
his sacred person by appearing among the legionaries, and was 
present when the army crossed the Thames and took possession of 
Camulodunum. After sixteen days he returned to Home to enjoy 
his much-needed triumph, and to add a "Britannicus" to the 
calendar of Roman national heroes. Aulus Plautius remained 
behind to complete the work of conquest, and within four years the 
most of Roman Britain was secured. Colonists also flocked into 
the island, and in a short time the Romanizing of the new provinces 
was seriously under way. 

Other governors followed Aulus Plautius. There was much hard 
fighting on the borders ; but for eighteen years the Roman advance 

failed to pass the Severn, or the Humber. Within these 
^Brittn^ li nes > however, there were many important changes. 
43?6i n ~ Londinium, the modern London, was rising rapidly to 

be the "commercial center of the island." From the 
southern ports the inevitable Roman roads converged upon her 
gates. A great road led away to Glevum (Gloucester), the Roman 
outpost on the Severn. The famous Watling Street stretched 
away to Uriconium (Wroxeter), and Deva (Chester), the outpost 
of Rome in the northwest. Other highways, the Icknield Street, 
the Ermine Street, and the Fosse-way, then, or soon after, were 
laid down to connect the remote corners of the province with the 
interior and with each other. These roads were designed primarily 
for military purposes; but commerce was quick to take advantage 
of the easy and safe communication offered by solid roadbeds and 
continuous lines of depots and watch-stations ; and very soon, over 
the Roman road, as along the line of the modern railroad, the subtle 
influences of civilization began to pass outward in ever-increasing 
volume, from the older cities of the coast into the western and 
northern wilderness. 



But how fared it with the conquered people during these eight- 
een years? The Celtic nature is not averse to civilization ; but it 
was the peculiar misfortune of the British Celts, as with 
of the * their kinsmen of Ireland, to come first in contact with 
civilization on its most unlovely side. Under such 
emperors as Claudius and Nero, Roman public service was at its 
worst. Officials were shamelessly corrupt, and did not hesitate to 
use their public authority to extort money from the defenseless 
provincials for their own uses. Troops of private speculators, 
brokers and money-lenders, had also followed the army, and 
"offered fatal facilities to needy chiefs." Conscriptions, taxation, 
and requisitions of all sorts, enforced by punishments which 
the Britons thought fit only for slaves, were the order of 
the day. 

Such blind and stupid oppression of a brave people, who, though 
conquered, still retained in their hands unlimited power for mis- 
chief, could have but one result. In the year 61, the 
BoaalcL,6i. .Iceni, a vassal tribe who dwelt in the region of the pres- 
ent Norfolk, rose under the leadership of their widowed 
queen, the famous Boadicea, and, joined by the Trinobantes and 
other neighbors to the south, made a desperate effort to destroy 
the foreigners and break the Roman yoke. In the first tide of 
revolutionary ardor the insurrection bore all before it. The recently 
established colony at Camulodunum was overwhelmed. Veru- 
lamium, the modern St. Albans, and London were stormed and 
sacked. Frightful massacres attended these successes; seventy 
thousand persons, it was said, perished. The nearest legion, the 
Ninth, hastened to the scene of the revolt, but only to be swept 
away in the flood. Help, however, was not far off. Suetonius Paul- 
linus, the governor, was already returning from the distant Mona, 
the later Anglesey, where he had been engaged in an attempt upon 
the warlike Ordovices. He hastened his march in the hope of 
saving London; but when he found that he was too late, he fell 
back to a strong position somewhere on the line of the Thames, 
and there awaited the advance of the enemy. Boadicea led the 
charge in her war chariot ; her people supported her with great spirit, 
but their valor was no match for the dogged endurance of the 


Romans. After the first wild and furious onslaught, their energies 
were soon spent, and they were easily swept away before a well 
timed counter charge of the legionaries. Boadicea ended her life 
with poison. Southern Britain was not only conquered, but 
crushed ; and never again disputed the Roman supremacy. Yet 
the rising was not without its lesson to the Romans; and when 
the overthrow of the last of the Claudian Caesars and the subse- 
quent establishment of the Flavians, afforded an opportunity for a 
change in the policy of the provincial administration, the Britons 
were among the first to share the benefit of the new order. The 
governors who now came out to the province were good men, who 
sought to reconcile the people to the Roman rule by removing the 
causes of irritation. 

Among the new governors was the famous Agricola, immor- 
talized by the pen of his son-in-law, the historian Tacitus. He 

came to Britain in the year 78, and at once under- 
Bntaili! 111 took the reduction of the wild tribes of the island, who 

had not yet recognized the Roman rule. In three years, 
he had overrun the western highlands, the later Wales; then, 
turning north, he crossed the Humber and advanced to the line of 
the Clyde and the Forth. It took two years more to clear the 
lowlands, and in the summer of 84 he entered the mountain fast- 
nesses of the Caledonians, as the Picts were then called, the only 
people who still defied the authority of Rome in Britain. The 
difficulties which confronted the Romans in the unaccustomed 
mountain warfare were serious, but the Caledonians greatly sim- 
plified the task by massing their forces at a place known as Mons 
Graupius, 1 where Agricola defeated them in a single pitched battle. 
If we may believe his biographer, Agricola left ten thousand of 

their warriors dead upon the field. It was one of the 
circumnavi- mos t brilliant victories which Roman arms had won 
idmdi (> 84 h6 smce ^ ne ^ a y °f ^ ne g rea t Caesar. Yet it was impossible 

to hold or fortify the Highlands, or secure the fruits of 
victory by permanent possession, and Agricola was forced to 
return to the province. The fleet, however, he sent forward to 

1 It is now generally agreed that Mons Graupius is not to be identified 
with the Grampian Hills. 


explore the northern coast. They turned the cape, and discovering 
the Orkneys, returned by way of the Irish Sea and the Channel to 
their winter station. They were the first representatives of civiliza- 
tion to circumnavigate the island. 

Agricola, in the meantime, was meditating great things for his 
next campaign. He proposed, in short, the complete reduction, not 

only of the people of the Highlands, but of the Irish 
Agrtcoia, Gaels as well. But the suspicious Domitian was already 

jealous of the growing fame of his brilliant lieutenant, 
and determined to recall him, leaving three legions in the island, 
sufficient for a guard, but not sufficient to tempt another lieuten- 
ant to a career of conquest. 

The Roman advance in Britain now ceased for a season. The 
government, in accordance with a policy, deliberately adopted, 

sought henceforth not to make new conquests, but to 
mea^fmsive secnre the mos t practicable military frontier. The 

northern Gaels kept up their old active hostility, and 
again and again swept into the Lowlands; the Brigantes, who dwelt 
south of the Tyne, also gave the unfortunate Ninth Legion which 
was stationed at York, much hard work; yet Rome persisted in 
her defensive policy. Hadrian, who was a thrifty, business-like 
emperor, decided that the conquests of Agricola north of the Tyne 
were not worth the trouble which it cost to hold them, and aban- 
doning all this region, withdrew south of the Tyne and the Sol way; 

marking the new frontier by a permanent fortification, 
Antoninus, the remains of which are still to be seen. 1 Antoninus 

Pius, who succeeded Hadrian in 138, however, advanced 
again to the old frontier, connected the Clyde and the Forth with a 
second line of fortifications, and made the intervening country once 
more Roman territory. This practically ended the Roman advance. 

One hundred and twenty-four years after the battle of 
feverZfin Mons Graupius, Septimius Severus once more took up 
m-m 1 ' the aggressive policy of Agricola, and made a last 

attempt to complete the conquest of the island. But 

1 For description of the famous walls of Hadrian and his successors, 
see Mommsen, Tlie Provinces of the Roman Empire I, pp. 200-205; and 
Ramsay, Foundations of England I, pp. 75-79. 


he died before he had hardly begun his work. His successors were 
too deeply occupied at home with military mutinies and barbaric 
inroads, to burden themselves with the old quarrel with the High- 
land Gaels. 

After the death of Septimius Severus, Roman historians have 
little to say of Britain for nearly a hundred years ; a fact which may 
be taken to indicate that the history of the country was unevent- 
ful, and hence peaceful. Agricola had begun to train the British 
chieftains in the use of Latin. He had also introduced the luxuries 
of the bath and the banquet. He gave liberally for the erection of 

temples and courthouses, and introduced more durable 
virilization dwellings to take the place of the huts of clay and thatch. 

Numerous remains of villas of the Roman type testify 
to the extent to which the Britons profited by these lessons. Some 
of these villas must have been of considerable magnificence for private 
dwellings. Agriculture remained the common flourishing industry 
of the island; in the time of Probus, Britain sent large shipments 
of grain to Italy. Additions were also made to the flora and fauna 
of the island; the chestnut and the walnut, the elm and the poplar, 
the rabbit and the fallow deer, are supposed to date from this era. 
Bede mentions mines of lead, iron, and coal; and in more recent 
times numerous discoveries of Roman pig iron testify to the actual 
output of these mines. Little, however, is known of other forms 
of native industry. The Romans also brought in many customs 
connected with the occupation of the soil, which scholars, in some 
quarters at least, are beginning to think survived the later Teutonic 
migration, and possibly formed no inconsiderable element in pre- 
paring the foundation of the later medieval social system in 
Britain, as well as in other parts of the west. It must not be for- 
gotten, however, that the Roman occupation of Britain was 
primarily a military occupation. A military purpose dictated 

the laying down of the famous roads and the planting 
Naturc'of °^ R° man colonies. There is no evidence, moreover, 
ocJu'jcMm ^ lat t nere ever existed in Britain any such municipal 

life as existed in Gaul or Spain; or that beyond the 
four colonies, Camulodnnum (Colchester), Glevum (Gloucester), 
Eboracnm (York), and Lindum (Lincoln), any other cities received 


the municipal franchise. The towns which the Romans occupied, 
were really great camps or forts, and remained so down to the 
coming of the Teutons. The upper classes of the Britons, 
who were brought into direct contact with the Roman officials, 
spoke Latin, adopted Latin names, and aped Italian manners ; but 
outside of the Roman camp cities, and beyond the line of the 
Roman roads, the people remained still Celtic, Latin a foreign 
tongue, and the Roman a stranger. 

First and last, therefore, the relations of the Romans to Britain 
were like those of the English to India — essentially a military 

occupation of a foreign country inhabited by a subject 
Roman population — and with similar results, No new and 

powerful nationality rose from the wreck of the old 
independent British states. Instead, even "the remembrance of 
past independence" faded away; the sense of nationality disap- 
peared; individuality was destroyed; all capacity for self-help was 
stifled in the languor and hopeless apathy, generated by a system 
of paternalism, which insisted upon doing everything for its 
dependents, and sternly frowned down every effort at self-help. 
Even at its best, the Roman system of government was burdensome 
and oppressive. In Britain it was never at its best. Though the 
better emperors checked the plundering instincts of their subordi- 
nates, the government itself was always the most grievous plun- 
derer, from whose exactions there was no redress. It was always 
needy, and even when it meant well, seemed never able to stay its 

One ray of light there is, however, which comes to us out of 
the deep gloom of these centuries of Roman military rule in Britain. 

It comes, however, not from Rome or Roman institu- 
te of tions, but from the despised and forbidden religion of 

the Christian. The time, and even the traditions, of 
the early conquests of Christianity in this Land's End of the 
ancient world, have been forgotten ; evidence positive that, as in 
the time of the apostles, the consolations of the Gospel here also 
came first to the humble poor. The progress of Christianity, how- 
ever, when once planted in Britain, must have been very rapid. 
When Tertullian wrote in the early third century, he could claim 


the Britons as a Christian people. In the year 314 the British 
church was recognized as a part of the great western brotherhood 
of churches, and was represented by three of her bishops at the 
Council of Aries. 

If we know little of the founding of British Christianity, we 
know hardly more of the British church. In the year 359 its 
bishops were conspicuous for their poverty among the prosperous 

ecclesiastics who gathered at the Council of Rimini, 
Church tish an( ^ were compelled to accept alms at the hand of the 

emperor. With their poverty, the British churches 
seem also to have united a sturdy orthodoxy, and through all the 
controversies which distracted the wealthy eastern churches of this 
period, adhered loyally to the teachings of Athanasins. 

Three noted names have come down to us from the British 
church — Pelagius, Ninian, and Patricius, the last, better known 

as St. Patrick. But valuable as these lives are in 
namesof^ &* vm S us types of British Christianity, they reveal little 
church™ 11 °^ ^ ne British church itself. Pelagius, the arch heretic, 

lived and wrote in Italy and Palestine; Ninian and 
Patrick toiled among the Gaels of the north and west — the pioneer 
missionaries of Scotland and Ireland. 

Of the political history of Britain, something more is known. 
When Diocletian and Constantine reorganized the empire, Britain 

was constituted one of the six dioceses of the great 
izawmof Western Praefecture, and placed under its own vicar, 
a part of or vice prefect, with the seat of government at York. 

The region south of Hadrian's Wall was further sub- 
divided into four provinces, the exact boundaries of which are not 
known. In general, however, these provinces lay as follows : Britan- 
nia Prima, south of the Thames; Britannia Secunda, west of 
the Severn ; Flavia Caesariensis, between the Thames and the Hum- 
ber; and Maxima Caesariensis, between the Humber and Hadrian's 
Wall. Later, the region within the walls was known as Valentia, 
and is sometimes, although improperly, designated as a province. 
Each province was governed by a praeses, or president, whose 
functions were entirely civil, and distinct from those of the three 
great military officials who directed the defense of the island. Of 


these latter the Count of the Saxon shore commanded the army 

which guarded the eastern coast from the Wash to the Isle of 

Wight, cantoned in nine permanent coast camps. Some- 

nmnauin times the littoral Count was assisted also by a fleet of 


considerable strength. The famous Carausius was 
one of these counts, who by the support of his fleet was able to 
throw off his allegiance to the emperor and establish himself in 
Carausim Britain as a sort of pirate emperor, where he maintained 
287-294. his sway for nearly eight years. His career is important 

as the first hint of the possibilities of Britain as a base for a great 
naval power. The Duke of the two Britains commanded the legions 
stationed at Caerlepn, Chester, and York. A third officer was 
the Count of Britain, who seems to have been commander-in- 

The disposition of these forces was dictated by new dangers 
which began to threaten the existence of Roman Britain as 

early as the third century. Bands of wild Scots, Gaels 
Barbaric who then dwelt on the east coast of Ireland, crossed 

the Irish Sea, and uniting with other hordes of Gaels 
from the Highlands, the old Caledonians, descended upon the 
lands between the Clyde and the Severn, and after burning and 
The Scots ravaging the country, retired again with troops of 
andPicts. captives and herds of cattle. A still greater danger 
threatened the Roman Britons in the southeast. The successes 
of Probus had cut off the Franks and other neighboring con- 
federations from their long-accustomed predatory raids by land. 
The sea, however, still lay open, and along this "swan road of 
the water" small piratical fleets soon began to find their way 

westward and descend upon the shores of Britain. 

The Saxons, whose terrible name appears first upon 
Roman annals about the year 160, were the most troublesome of 
these marauders. In the third century they had extended over all 
the region between the lower Elbe and the land of the Franks, and 
began seriously to menace the coasts of Britain and northern 

During the long-continued helplessness of the period of the 
Barrack emperors, Britain suffered much from the robbers who 


thus swept down upon her from the northern mountains and the two 
seas. Carausius met the pirates on their own element, and during 
The fail of ^is eight years' reign once more gave the land peace. 
powefln ^e emperors of the House of Constantino continued 
Britain. his work, and for fifty years preserved the tranquillity 
of the country. But after this family of princes had passed away, 
with barbaric hordes marching and countermarching the plains of 
Moesia and Gaul and Italy, with revolting generals sup- 
ported by mutinous legions hatching into rival emperors, 
the legitimate emperors were no longer able to give thought to a 
remote outlying province like Britain. If an emperor honestly sought 
to protect his distant subjects, and sent out from his scanty legions 
at home a military force sufficient to help them, the chances were that 
the soldiers, taking advantage of their remoteness from the capital, 
would make an emperor of some favorite officer or provincial gover- 
nor, and force him to lead them back again, in order to tilt with the 
already distracted occupant of the throne. Emperor-making was far 
more profitable than fighting barbarians on the lonely heaths of the 
north. Between the years 383 and 407 this very thing happened 
twice ; when the entire British garrison crossed the Channel, and with 
their mushroom emperor plunged into the confusion of strife and 
intrigue which marked the collapse of Eoman authority in Gaul. 
The Picts and Scots and Saxons were also quick to take advantage 
of the defenseless condition of the Provincials, and from all sides 
began to pour into the country. A wild panic seized the people ; 
all who could, the most of the Eoman population and the wealthier 
class of the Britons, left the island and withdrew to the continent. 
The tillers of the soil, the slave and the serf, the poor, the artisans 
and mechanics only were left. All the conservative elements of 
society, the so-called "respectable elements," the men who made 
the laws and supported the courts, were gone. Civil authority dis- 
appeared ; the country rapidly reverted to barbarism and anarchy. 
A crop of guerrilla kings, the representatives of violence and dis- 
order, sprang up in the place of the lapsed civil order, plun- 
dering the people and warring upon each other whenever the 
barbarians afforded them a respite. The wail of the British 
provincials reached the ears of the feeble Honorius behind the 


lagoons of Ravenna. But he had no more troops to send, and bade 
the Britons take care of themselves. Once again, when thirty years 
later the fame of the mighty Aetius reached the island, a second 
cry for help was sent out from this "Algiers of the ancient empire." 
'The barbarians drive us back into the sea,' the people moaned; 
'the sea drives us back upon the barbarians. We must die by the 
sword or drown; we have none to help us.' And so Britain drifted 
away from the nerveless hand that could no longer retain its grasp, 
and disappeared in the deep night of the fifth century. 



The first chapter of British history ends in the wild con- 
fusion which followed the departure of the Roman legionaries. 

Of the next two centuries, known as the era of the 
change* in Anglo-Saxon conquest, few records have survived to 
thewim- T furnish a basis for the compilation of an authentic 
the Romans, history. Yet violent and far-reaching changes are in 

progress, and when the curtain rises upon the second 
act of the drama the old stage setting has been entirely changed. 
Where were populous cities, or swelling grain fields, are now only 
dreary wastes of marsh and fen, or solemn forests of beech and 
oak. A new people of strange tongue, and uncouth manners, living 
the simple life of the wilderness, hunt along grass-grown Roman 
roads, or camp among the silent ruins of villa or temple. There 
are Britons still to be found in the western part of the island, who 
speak the Celtic tongue and live under the strange old Celtic laws, 
but the Roman Britons, with all that Rome had given them, have 

The new-comers were the so-called Anglo-Saxons, the ancestors of 
the present English people. They were Germans, of pure Teutonic 

stock, and represented the second great wave of Aryan 
ExpmwUm 10 population to break over western Europe. When Pytheas 
°Eur(me i<tern en t erea ' the northern seas this second group of Aryan 

peoples had reached the Elbe and behind it were holding 
the entire southern Baltic basin ; but when Caesar began his career 
in Gaul, two hundred and seventy years later, they had long since 
passed the Elbe, and were crowding upon the Celtic populations on 
the west bank of the Rhine. The interposition of Rome and the 
establishment of the Rhine as the eastern boundary of her trans- 
alpine empire, at once checked the Germanic advance, but the 
crowding of populations upon the Rhine frontier did not cease, 



and when at last, after five hundred years, the decline of Roman 
civilization made it impossible longer to hold the outer defenses 
of the empire, Teutonic hordes began again to stream across the 
boundary river and within a generation had overwhelmed all west- 
ern Europe, permanently establishing themselves among the ruins 
of tho great cities of the west and south. 

The Teutons who settled in Britain belonged to a group of 
tribes who had long occupied lands on the lower Elbe and along 

the Danish peninsula. Of these the Angles were known 
maiLm of to Tacitus ; and although the Saxons do not appear 
sai'otis"" 11 ky name until later, it is not unlikely that they were 

represented among the peoples who figured in the 
ancient war of liberation when the Germans who dwelt between 
the Rhine and the Elbe rose against the generals of Augustus, 
and threw off the Roman yoke. Just when the Germans of 
the lower Elbe began to form permanent settlements in Brit- 
ain is not known; but the time apparently was much earlier 

than that assigned by the traditional accounts of 

First perma- mi 

vent settle- the conquest. The eastern coasts of lower Britain 

merit of the , 

Saxons. offered an easy approach to their shallow barks, and 

it is not unlikely that even before the withdrawal of 
the Romans they had made a permanent lodgment upon the coast 
of modern Essex, the "Saxon Shore." New arrivals continued to 
swell the ranks of the first comers, and with the increasing feeble- 
ness of the defense steadily pushed their way westward, taking up 
land as they needed it, until at last they reached the neighborhood 
of London. 

Soon after the settlement of the "Saxon Shore," other bands 

also succeeded in making a lodgment on the southern shore of the 

Thames mouth. According to later traditions these 

7 he Jutes. iii i 

The people belonged to the Jutes, a tribe dwelling on the 

Kent, Danish peninsula, and came under two war chiefs or 

about 450. 

caldormen, Ilengist and Ilorsa, who had been invited 

by the Britons to assist them against their old hereditary foes the 

Picts. These Jutes proved to be very troublesome allies, and, like 

their kindred on the north bank of the Thames, proceeded to take 

land as they needed it, pushing south and west, forcing the south- 


era Britons back upon London, and finally taking possession of the 
entire peninsula of the ancient Cantii. The name of the dispos- 
sessed Britons reappeared in the Cantwara, or men of Kent ; but 
the old Durovernum gave way to Cantwarabyriq (Can- 
waraandthe terbury). Other tribes of Jutes, represented m the 
Wight and later Wihtivara and Meanwara, continued along the 

Hampshire. . , 

southern coast until they came to the sheltered waters 
about Portsmouth, where they took possession of the Isle of Wight 
and the mainland opposite, and extended their conquests over a 
large part of the modern county of Hampshire. The Saxons also 
seem to have found their way into the Channel at an early date, 
and, pushing into the rivers and estuaries which were at that time 
more numerous on these coasts than now, began a series of settle- 
ments south of the great forest of Anderida, and probably 
extended even west of the "Wihtwara. 

The Britons of the south did not surrender their homes 

graciously to these strangers. There are grim traditions of attacks 

and counter attacks, of fierce battles, of whole cities 

The first 

period of massacred in the fury of storm, of a wave of fire which 

surged across the island from sea to sea, nor ceased 

its fury until it had bathed its flames in the western ocean ; then 

followed a long period of truce, when the Germans retired to the 

coast again and rested on their arms, while the Britons wasted 

their strength and their resources in riotous living and civil brawls. 

With the opening of the new century, the activities of the 

Saxons began anew. Passing up the left bank of the Thames they 

overran the regions occupied by the modern counties of 

the middle Middlesex and Hertfordshire; then passing the Chil- 

Thames. • 

terns they added the modern Buckinghamshire, Oxford- 
shire, and Northamptonshire, and turning south crossed the 
Thames and began the conquest of Berkshire. This region west 
of the Chilterns, the middle Thames country, was the original land 
of the West Saxons, the "geographical complement" of the lands 
east of the Chilterns, which now by contrast began to be known 
as the land of the East Saxons. 1 

1 See English Historical Review, Oct. 1898, p. 671. Art. by Henry H. 
Ha worth, and also the reply by W. H. Stevenson in Review of Jan. 1899. 


When the Saxons began the conquest of the broad lowlands 
which to-day stretch away from the suburbs of London to the 
southwest, the modern Surrey, the "South Kingdom," is not 
known, but it is fair to suppose that this region, at least the parts 
north of the forest of Anderida, was conquered not by the Saxons 
who had settled on the southern coast, but by the bands who had 
overrun the adjacent country across the Thames. Possibly the 
conquest belongs to the later era when West Saxon and Cantwara 
met in deadly struggle for supremacy south of the Thames. 

The beginnings of the Anglian settlements are as obscure as those 
of the Saxons. The Angles do not seem to have been very active 
until the sixth century, when coasting along the shores 
in the emt of the ancient Frisia in the track of the Saxons, and pass- 
ing by the Thames mouth their fleets first found shelter 
among the islands and estuaries on the coast of East Anglia, 
where two distinct settlements may be traced in the familiar 
Northfolk and Southfolk. The wild Fen country and the deep 
indentations of the Wash, however, afforded no such easy egress 
to the west as had invited the Saxons to the conquest of the 
Thames basin. Later comers, therefore, according to tradition 
coming in overwhelming numbers, and including 'first and last 
a great part of the nation of the Angles, 1 passed on up the coast 
until they reached the broad mouth of the Humber. At this time 
the northern provinces of Roman Britain must have been in some 
such condition as northern Italy on the eve of the Lombard migra- 
tion. A century of Pictish inroads, followed by years of famine 
and pestilence, had left the land depopulated and desolate. 3 No 
echoes of any great battles, no traditions of long and bitter strife, 
such as linger about the Saxon advance in the south, have ever 
reached us from this northern conquest. If any of the original 

1 A part of the Angles were left behind to be finally merged in the 

2 An official report of the Mayor of Santa Clara County in Cuba showed 
that in only three years, 1896, 1897, 1898, 80 per cent of the population had 
perished. Conceive this state of affairs lasting for a hundred years, and 
we have some idea of the condition of the northern part of the Roman 
provinces of Britain when the Angles came. And we may also under- 
stand why there was so little show of resistance. 


population had survived the earlier Pictish inroads, they were too 
feeble to resist the overwhelming numbers of the new invaders. 
Two tribes, later known as Deirans and Bernicians, turned north 
and took possession of the lands between the Humber and the 
Firth of Forth. Other tribes turned south, and advancing along 
the basin of the Trent soon appeared far down in mid-Britain, 
leaving to the east, between the lower Trent and the Wash, 
the modern Lincolnshire, the Gainas and the Lindiswara. Still 
farther to the southeast, the Girwas found their way into the Fen 
country, while other Anglian communities took up their station 
about the later Leicester, where they appear as Middle Angles; 
others still, the South Angles, appeared among the hills of North- 
ampton, where they began to encroach upon the earlier settlements 
of the West Saxons. Other tribes worked their way out of the 
Trent basin to the west, where they appear as North Angles and 
West Angles. 

It is perhaps to the era when the Angles were pushing rapidly 

to the south that we are to ascribe the advance of the West Saxons 

into the Severn country. Apparently they could not 

ofthe hold their own against the increasing pressure of the 

West Saxons. 

Angles upon their northern borders, and began to seek a 
new extension of territory to the west and south, overrunning the 
later Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and eastern Somersetshire. It is 
probable also that at this time, or soon after, there occurred the 
direct southward advance of the West Saxons, crossing the lower 
Thames, expelling the Jutes of Kent from Surrey and Sussex, and 
conquering the kindred Meanwara of Hampshire, and the Wihtwara 
of Wight. 

This last movement is associated by tradition with the name of 
Oeawlin, the first really authentic king of the W T est Saxons, and 
it is not improbable that the great part of these later 
Z™59o n ' conquests were carried on by him or his immediate pred- 
ecessors. It is also not unlikely that out of the mili- 
tary need of the hour there arose the first great confederation of 
Teutonic tribes in Britain. At one time Ceawlin appears at war 
with the young king Ethelbert of Kent, when he drives in the 
western outposts of the Cantwara in Surrey and Sussex. Again 


he appears in the Isle of Wight, overthrowing the Wihtwara, pur- 
suing their kings through the country of the Meanwara, and adding 
their lands to his dominions; probably forcing the Jutes of Wight 
and Hampshire to join the West Saxon confederation. Again, he 
appears in the valley of the Severn, hunting the Britons out of the 
country, and in 577 winning the decisive victory of Deorham. The 
old cities of Bath, Gloucester, and Cirencester fell to the spoil of 
war, and their blackened ruins lay for centuries to tell of the 
furious valor of Ceawlin. The victory of Deorham gave the West 
Saxons the valley of the Severn, where the Hwiccas at once took 
possession and extended their settlements over Gloucestershire and 

While the West Saxons were thus drawing together under the 
inspiration of Ceawlin's leadership and preparing for the great 
The North- r ^ e w hi°h they were *o P^ a Y i Q the ^ uture history of 
conmera- ^ e ^ s ^ an ^' ^ ne Angles north of the Humber, possibly 
(ton. under the pressure of the Scots upon their western bor- 

der, were also learning to combine their strength for offensive and 
defensive war. These Scots were representatives of the old Irish 
Goidels, who some time in the fifth or sixth century had begun 
to cross in greater numbers to the opposite coasts of Argyle and 

Strathclyde, and had swarmed over the western High- 
Ftrafhalde l an< is, subduing the old Picts, probably merging with 

them and forming the basis of the later Highland popu- 
lation. They were no match, however, for the warlike lords of 
the lowlands. A generation after Ceawlin had united the West 
Saxon tribes of southern Britain, the Scot king Aidan led an army 
of Scots and Picts and Britons down into the lands of the Berni- 
cians. The recently confederated Berniciaus and Deirans advanced 
to meet them under their king, Ethelfrid. The battle was joined 

at Dawstone near Carlisle. The Scots and their allies 
Dawshmc, were r0 uted, and so great was the slaughter that for 

more than a century the memory of the terrible ven- 
geance of Ethelfrid "The Devastator" was enough to deter the 
Scots from any further attempts upon the lands of the Bernicians. 
Ten years later Ethelfrid won a second victory over the western 
Britons under the walls of Chester. The city was taken and sacked, 


and for three centuries lay in mournful ruins. The victory of 
Chester gave the Northumbrian Angles possession of all the lands 
between Leeds and the Irish Sea. 

With these later victories of Ceawlin and Etbelfrid the era of 

the Teutonic conquest and settlement of Britain ends. The 

fertile lands of the old Roman provinces were now 

End of era of securely in the possession of the invaders, abundant for 

migration . * 

ana conquest, all needs for many years to come. West Wales or 
Cornwall, North Wales or Wales proper, and Strath- 
clyde, separated from all land communication with each other, 
alone remained in the hands of the Celts. The Teutons had 
already begun to call them Welsh, or Strangers, 1 and under this 
name the remnant of the once great people pass into modern his- 
tory. The memory of their last brave stand in defense of the 
inheritance of their fathers, when for once, but too late, they 
dropped their quarrels and united for the common defense, long 
lingered in the name of Kymry or Allies. 

Thus, by the close of the sixth century, the Teutons had estab- 
lished themselves in Britain. It had taken them, however, two 
hundred years to accomplish what Roman legionaries 
ofthe eifwd ^ ac ^ accomplished in four years. This was due not to 
Teutonic j^q stubborn resistance of the Britons, for the Britons 

advance. ' 

had long since ceased to be capable of resistance, but 
wholly to the method of the Teutonic advance. The Germans had 
settled in Britain as they had settled on the Rhine when Caesar 
knew them, not under any common king, or in one compact horde, 
but in detached tribes or kindreds; each kindred or maegtli? mov- 
ing out for itself, as it needed more room, driving the skeleton 
British population on before it, taking what lands its present need 
demanded, and here settling as a kind of frontier colony and giv- 
ing its name to the surrounding region. Each colony was thus an 
independent state, — civitas,&s Caesar or Tacitus would call it; liv- 
ing under its own local laws and under the government of its own 
elective chieftains, or ealdormen, but ready to unite in loose con- 

1 See Freeman in Encyclopedia Britannica, VIII, p. 269, for use of this 
word both in Britain and on the continent. 

2 Bede uses the word of the Mercian tribes. 


federation with neighboring and similar communities, whenever 
threatened by common danger. They then selected some chief- 
tain, renowned in war or in council, who led the allied hosts to 
battle, and for the time exercised a regal authority. The West 
Saxon Ceawlin was such a war chief, certainly not the first, but 
probably the first to unite all the Saxon tribes west of the Chilterns 
under one leadership. It is significant, however, that such con- 
federations as those associated with the name of Ceawlin or Ethel- 
frid belong to the later period of the conquest, and mark its final 
stages. The great part of the territory was first abandoned by 
the Britons and then seized by the Teutons, not as conquerors, 
but as simple settlers ; not as a whole, but a fragment at a time as 
the needs of a new generation dictated. 

A similar instance may be found in the series of movements by 
which the lands along the upper Rhine and the Danube were finally 
detached from the empire and became German territory. Here, 
in the rich valleys which now belong to the modern Baden and 
Wurtemberg, the old Alamannia, were once flourishing settlements 
of Roman colonists introduced from beyond the Rhine. During 
the third century there was frequent and severe fighting on this 
frontier. But long before the Germans had made a permanent 
lodgment the older population had begun to recede. For a long 
period there is no record of battles, or traditions of cities stormed 
or sacked ; and yet the recession of the older populations steadily 
continued, and the Teutonic population as steadily filled in behind 
them, swarming about the dwindling cities and effectually taking 
possession of the land clear to the Rhine and the Swiss Lakes; and 
yet so gradually withal, that no historian can tell just when this 
region ceased to be Roman, or began to be wholly German. The 
Marcomannic conquest of what is modern Bavaria is still more to 
the point. Here, as in the case of the Angles in north and mid 
Britain, the invaders, in overwhelming masses, poured into a coun- 
try already depopulated by centuries of anarchy, war, famine, and 
pestilence. The remnant population did not try to resist, but 
retired into the remote Alpine valleys, or shut themselves up in 
their few remaining cities, where, in time, by a steady process of 
infiltration, the survivors of the old population disappeared in the 


new, assimilating to them in language, institutions, and physical 

So, apparently, Britain also was won, not by a storm, followed 
by a deluge, as when the Goth swept into Italy, or the Vandal 
swept over Gaul and Spain; but rather, after the first fiery 
eruption into the Thames basin, described by Gildas, by a steady 
recession of the Celtic population, attended by a corresponding 
advance of the Germans. The new-comers were no such fiends 
incarnate as commonly represented, fired only by a wild frenzy for 
the shedding of blood, or bent only upon exterminating the original 
inhabitants; they were rather a race of herdsmen and farmers, and 
as long as they were not attacked themselves, or were driven by no 
pressure of expanding numbers to seek new lands, were for bar- 
barians, in the main, peaceably inclined. Hence long periods appar- 
ently passed, in which the new-comers remained quietly and 
peacefully within the last established borders. The meager Celtic 
population beyond these borders, without protection and not liking 
the rough ways of their neighbors, quietly and steadily withdrew, 
leaving an ever-widening belt of wilderness between them and 
the dreaded strangers. When a particular Teutonic settlement 
had outgrown its territories, a new swarm again moved out into 
the regions beyond, sometimes driving out the depleted Britons 
altogether, sometimes allowing them to remain in a servile relation, 
but more likely finding only a deserted wilderness. Then the same 
process went on again, the Britons steadily withdrawing as the 
Teutons advanced. 

Where there were cities the stages of the process, perhaps, were 
somewhat different, but the results were virtually the same. Some- 
times the inhabitants stood at bay behind their walls, or within the 
lines of an old Eoman camp, and maintained themselves in the 
midst of surrounding Teutonic tribes. Sometimes, possibly in 
an attempt to dislodge the new settlers from the neighborhood, 
they drew down the wrath of the invaders, and in a short, quick 
action lost everything; the pitiless swords of the enemy exter- 
minating the inhabitants and leaving only a desolate heath to mark 
the spot where once had stood a British town. This could not 
have been the general experience, however, as the survival of so 


many Roman town names at the end of this era indicates. It is 
more likely that as each city was cut off from all support from the 
neighboring country, its Celtic population dwindled, or, if recruited 
at all, was recruited from Teutonic elements which rapidly absorbed 
the remnant Celtic stock. It is to be remembered, however, that 
the Germans did not love the city, and much preferred the open 
country; hence it is more likely that if a city survived, it was only 
to be submitted to this process of dwindling, until little was left 
save the name and a pitiful cluster of habitations suitable for the 
needs of its present mongrel population, and sufficient to mark the 
ancient site and preserve the ancient name. 

In the north the advance was more rapid than in the south, but 
there is no record of any great battles. More significant still, 

during the whole early period, there is no trace of the 
Mwmce formation of any great confederations of Teutonic 
^^ tribes, such as we might expect, had the Britons ever 

been able to exert any military strength. Instead, we 
have on the part of the Germans the same advance in detached 
bands, each band taking up its station as an independent colony, 
where wood or watercourse or valley attracted them, as in the days 
of Tacitus. The advance was more rapid, because the Angles came 
in far greater numbers than the Saxons, and larger areas of land 
were needed at once. But there is no record of any concerted 
action on the part either of Celt or Teuton, until we reach the time 
of Ceawlin and Ethelfrid. 

Of the ancient laws and institutions of the Teutonic tribes who 
entered Britain, directly, we know no more than we do of the 
_ events of the so-called conquest. Nothing, however, has 

English yet been advanced to show that they differed materially 


from the institutions of the Teutonic tribes who were 
known to Caesar and Tacitus. Monogamy was the rule: woman- 
hood was honored ; children were loved and cherished. Each tribe 
or kindred was a small state by itself, sufficient to all the needs of 
local government. The male members of the community, the free 
warriors, were both citizens and soldiers. They met under arms 
in an assembly, or folk-mote, to discuss matters of general impor- 
tance. In this capacity they were also a court to try serious 


offenses against the customary laws of the tribe. Here, too, the 
young warrior was formally initiated by appropriate ceremonies 
into the company of free citizens. In this assembly also they 
elected the ealdormen, the principes of Tacitus, 1 whose duty it 
was to make regular circuits through the settlements, appre- 
hending criminals and holding courts of justice. In this service 
they were attended by a body of select companions, the comitatus, 
who assisted in capturing and trying criminals and enforcing the 
laws. These companions, the gesiths, were bound by special oath 
to support their chief in the performance of his duties. They 
lived at his table, and for this the other members of the tribe 
brought their regular gifts ; thus recognizing the public nature of 
the service of the ealdorman and his companions and the common 
obligation of supporting them. In time of war the ealdorman 
with his following of gesiths formed the nucleus of the host. The 
several magistrates together formed a tribal council, the germ 
of the later national tvitenagemot. It was their custom to come 
together while the free warriors were gathering for the folkmote, 
as a sort of preliminary council to prepare the business which was 
to be submitted to the people. Of kings in the later sense, the 
early Germans of Britain had none, though the germ out of which 
the king subsequently developed is to be found in the common 
chieftain elected by several tribes on the eve of a general war. 
His powers, however, were only temporary, and when the war was 
ended his authority ceased, and the confederating tribes again fell 
apart, each pursuing its independent life as before. 

Of the freemen there were two classes, eorls and ceorls. The 
eorl was a noble, but his nobility seems to have entitled him only 
to a precedence in rank. His life also was protected by 
of the a higher wergeld, the fine or indemnity which the mur- 

derer or his family, paid to the family of his victim. 
The ceorl was the simple freeman, whose political liberty was 
attested by his right of meeting with his fellows for public business 
with arms in his hands. Chattel slavery as it existed among the 
Komans was never popular among the Germans. Servitude, how- 

1 Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, I, p. 125. 


ever, was by no means uncommon, bnt it took a form of serfage, 
wherein a tenant and his heirs were bound to perform certain 
services for a master who was at the same time owner of the soil. 
Tacitus compares the position of the German slave to that of the 
Roman colouus, who in Tacitus' day was really a free tenant whoso 
home was protected by law, and whose right of marriage was recog- 
nized. We have no way of knowing what the relative proportion 
of the unfree was to the free until the time of the Domesday 
Survey; but then the organization of English society had become 
very complex compared with that of the primitive Teutonic tribes, 
and the servile condition itself had been differentiated into a 
series of degrees, or gradations, the distinctions of which are 
obscure. It is not unlikely that the numbers of the servile popula- 
tion were largely recruited from the ranks of the conquered 
Britons. Servitude was also frequently prescribed by the courts as 
a penalty for crime. It may be that in the more thickly populated 
parts of Britain, the south and west, where Teutonic occupation 
was more after the nature of a conquest, that the new population 
was superimposed upon an older servile population. It may be also 
that the members of this servile population were of German blood, 
and represented the results of earlier Roman conquests beyond the 
Rhine and the upper Danube, when whole nations were corralled 
and deported to distant parts of the empire and settled as coloni 
or tenant farmers. Thousands of these unwilling settlers had 
been introduced into Britain. 

The civitas or tribal state was subdivided into judicial districts, 

which seem at first to have had various names in different parts of 

Teutonic Britain. For simplicity we may call this snb- 

division the hundred, although the name, though known 

on the continent, does not appear in the laws of England until the 

time of Edgar. Undoubted traces of the institution 

959 'in 5- 

however, are to be found as early as the time of Tacitus, 
and it may be taken as one of the most characteristic features of 
the early Teutonic state. Here at regular intervals, every four 
weeks, as fixed by the laws of Edgar, the freemen of the district 
came together in the liundredgemot, constituting a court, in which 
civil suits were tried, or quarrels between neighbors were adjusted. 


Below the hundred was the town or tun. The town consisted 
of a cluster of detached dwellings, each with its court or door- 
yard, stables, and outhouses. The adjacent lands also 

The Tun. •?*.*. o 

belonged to the town. Here the freeman possessed a 
shifting severalty in the arable land, and a share in the common 
use of meadow and woodland. The town also had. its popular 
assembly or tungemot. The tungemot does not seem to have been 
a civil court like the hundredgemot ; its functions were economic 
rather than judicial. 

When the period of the Anglo-Saxon codes began, private owner- 
ship of land was already recognized ; yet, if the progress of Germanic 

institutions on the continent be considered, we may 
Ownership believe that in Britain also the lands of each settlement 

of Land. 

were at first held by the freemen in common; but with 
the increase of population the exclusive right of individuals to par- 
ticular pieces of land was allowed. The first form of tenure how- 
ever was probably folk-land or land held by folk-right, distinguished 
later from book-land or land set apart by special charter or grant. 
The charter, however, suggests the influence of the priest, nor is it 
unlikely that the church is largely responsible, if not for the intro- 
duction, at least for the rapid extension of privileged ownership 
in land among the Teutons of Britain. If so, this is only one of 
the many ways, economic, social, and political in which Christianity 
affected profoundly the life of the new-comers. 

Before the priest came, they were a simple people, knowing 
little of the arts of civilized life, but much of forest craft ; living 

under their curious old laws of custom, yet far re- 
cw&mis* moved from the condition of the mere savage. They 

had their traditions and war songs; but knew noth- 
ing of letters. They had also their conceptions of deity, but 
worshiped God as they saw him revealed in the wild tumult of 
the storm, or the wilder tumult of their own rude natures. They 
knew nothing of temples, but reared their altars in the silence of 
the sacred grove, or upon some lonely hill top. Here they sought 
to solve the mysteries of their own lives, in offerings, sometimes of 
human victims, more often of the animals supposed to be the 
favorites of their special deities. These deities were the great 


gods Tiu, Wotan or Odin, and Donar or Thor. There were also a 
multitude of lesser deities. The practical religion of the people 
was made up largely of beliefs in omens of good luck or ill luck ; 
in elves and fairies; "cursing stones" and "wishing wells"; nor is 
it likely that "the common villagers ever rose to any sublimated 
theories of deity ; or were ever conscious of more than a confused 
unthinking worship of things held to be holy, whether beings or 
places." There were deities for river and grove and fountain, for 
the upper air and the world of the dead, for the forest and the 
grain field, for the field of battle and the wedding festival, for the 
home and the hearth, for the flock and the sheepfold, in short, 
for everything that touched the lives of the people, or for anything 
they could not understand, they had their deity. 

They loved war and the chase, and constantly manifested their 
contempt for a life which was hard and rigorous at best. They 
lived upon milk and cheese, the flesh of their herds, and the 
quarry, and the products of a limited agriculture. They could not 
have been very cleanly in their habits. The word itch, as also the 
common names of most of the well-known dirt diseases, are old 
English names. But so are the words clean, wholesome, healthy, 
hale, and hearty. Possibly the former were winter words, asso- 
ciated with the dreary months when the people were compelled to 
hive themselves with their cattle in close dens or caverns for pro- 
tection from the weather; while the latter were summer words, 
associated with joyous days when open fields and fresh winds, 
springing flowers and flowing streams invited the people to a dif- 
ferent life. All in all they were very human, these first Teutonic 
settlers of Britain, and not very different from what the people who 
dwell upon their lands to-day would be under similar circumstances. 



The next stage in the history of Teutonic Britain is one of great 
importance; in it English nationality assumes its first forms. 

The time is still far distant when we may use with any 
new era accuracy the words, "England" or '-English." The 
fmindino of newcomers are still Germans ; just such Germans as were 

dwelling on the Weser and the Ems, living under the 
same laws and under the same tribal organization. There is also 
the same bewildering succession of names without forms, of forms 
without outline, of progress without unity, such as marks the 
history of contemporary Teutonic life on the continent; and yet 
within this confusion, obscured by the shifting shadows, the 
Teutons of Britain were molding to new habits of thought and 
action, entirely alien to the old isolated tribal life, and preparing 
for the advent of the nation. 

By the close of the sixth century all the most fertile parts of 
the island had been seized; but the crowding of population upon 

population continued, and soon embroiled the new pos- 
of the sessors of the soil in an endless series of intertribal 

wars, waged for the possession of what they had taken 
from the Britons. Leagues and counter -leagues rapidly succeeded 
one another. The old tribal lines gradually dissolved, and the elected 
war chief of temporary powers passed into the permanent king; 
the isolated tribal settlements into the seven or eight confederacies, 
the "kingdoms," of the so-called "Heptarchy." Then followed 
a bitter rivalry of these "Heptarchy" kings, a fierce strife for 
supremacy, which ended at last in the final triumph of the kings 
of the West Saxons and the establishment of the permanent 
hegemony of Wessex. 


591-616] ETHELBERT IN KENT 33 

Such in outline is the history of the new era. Its events may be 

grouped about two movements : first, the growth of a habit on the 
part of neighboring tribes, of acting together in great 

ofUu'lra confederacies, culminating at last in the permanent union 
of all the tribes in a national state; and, second, the 

introduction of Christianity, and the final organization of the 

national church. 

When the period of settlement closed, as we have seen, Ceawlin 

was already at the head of a widely extended kingdom or con- 
federation of the West Saxon tribes. His kingdom, if 

The • 

breaking up kingdom it can be called, included all the tribes from 
Kingdom, the Severn to the downs of Surrey, and from the basin 

of the middle Thames to the sea. It is not likely that 
his power rested upon other foundation than the shadowy authority 
conferred by confederated tribes upon the elective war chief. 
Such loose confederations were very common among the Germans 
of the continent down to the close of the migrations. The counter- 
parts of Ceawlin's career may be found in the Cheruscan and Mar- 
coman kings of Tacitus. Possibly also, as in the case of the German 
national hero, Arminius, it was the attempt of Ceawlin to transfer 
the temporary authority of the war chief into the permanent and 
more substantial power of a true king that led directly to his fall and 
the dissolution of this early confederation of the West Saxon tribes. 
This event took place in 591, two years before Ceawlin's death. 

East of the confederation, which by habit we call the kingdom 
of the West Saxons, lay the Jutish tribes, who had settled on the 

south bank of the lower Thames. We have already seen 

^o-ti6 eH The them under the leadership of their young king Ethel- 

eaermmy k er t ? struggling with Ceawlin on the borders of the 

^antwara, ;p ores t f Anderida, for the possession of the downs of 

Surrey. It is not unlikely that Ethelbert also took part 
in the overthrow of the West Saxon king, though the first shock to 
Ceawlin's power seems to have come from the Ilwiccas, whom he 
himself had recently settled on the Severn. At all events, after 
the fall of Ceawlin, Ethelbert succeeded to his prestige in south 
Britain, and built up a similar confederation of the eastern tribes. 
According to Bede, his dominions reached to the Humber ; that is, 


all the East Saxon, East Anglian, Middle Anglian, South Anglian, 
and a part of the West Saxon tribes entered the new confederation, 
and either voluntarily, or by compulsion, recognized the overlord- 
ship of Ethelbert. This second confederation lasted until the 
death of Ethelbert, when it in turn also dissolved, and the tribes 
east of the Chilterns regrouped themselves under the leadership 
of Eaedwald, king of the East Angles. 

The great name of Ethelbert had extended to the continent, 

and enabled him to make an alliance with the family of Frankish 

kings who ruled over the conquests of Clovis. The 

Int voiJ net i/yyij 

of Chris- Germans of Britain were still pagans, but the Franks 

tianity. , . » 

had long since adopted Christianity. The men of the 
Frankish royal house as a class, however, had been little influenced 
by the teachings of Christianity; they were for the most part 
graceless ruffians. But many of the women furnished examples of 
sweet and noble piety, honored a difficult station by blameless lives, 
and passed to their graves, leaving behind them a precious memory 
of good deeds and helpful influence. Some of these royal prin- 
cesses went out from their own homes to serve Christ in the halls 
of heathen lords, where they became most efficient missionaries 
of the church. Thus it happened that Bertha, the granddaughter 
of Clotaire the Great, left her father's court at Paris and entered 
the home of Ethelbert of Kent. By special arrangement she was 
allowed to bring her chaplain, Luithard, with her. The long- 
deserted British church of St. Martin at Canterbury was refitted 
for his use, and the old walls looked down once more upon the 
stately service of the Christian church. Here the good chaplain 
chanted and preached; here the pious queen with burdened heart 
bowed and prayed, waiting for the redemption of her heathen lord 
and her adopted people. How much she and her friends had to 
do with rousing the church of the continent to any direct mission- 
ary effort we do not know. But it is more than likely, if the truth 
were known, that the coming of the first missionaries was due to 
her efforts and her influence quite as much as to Pope Gregory's 
happy knack of making Latin puns. 1 Certain it is that the band 

J See Green, History of the English People, I, p. 37, for the well- 
known story. 


of monks led by Augustine whom Gregory sent out, came under the 
special patronage and protection of the neighboring Frankish kings, 
and that when they at last landed at Thanet in the spring of 507, 
they found Ethelbert prepared for their coming and roady to listen to 
their teaching. On June 2, Whitsunday, Ethelbert himself abjured 
the faith of his fathers in Wotan and Donar, and received Christian 
baptism. Thousands of his subjects followed his example, and 
within a year the mission had become a nourishing church. In 
Juno, 601, Gregory sent to Augustine the archiepiscopal pallium 
or pall, 1 with a complete plan for the organization of the island 
church. As yet, however, Christianity had not advanced beyond 
the boundaries of the original Kent. Neither East Saxons, South 
Saxons, nor West Saxons were ready to receive Christian teachers. 
But the sanguine Gregory had his four square plan of organization 
ready. The entire island was to be divided into two nearly equal 
metropolitan sees, each with its twelve bishops; the primate of 
the northern province was to be established in York; of the 
southern province in London. Augustine wisely selected Canter- 
bury, under the immediate protection of Ethelbert, as a far more 
eligible site for his archiepiscopal seat, and left to the future the 
founding of the northern primacy, and the establishment of the 
twenty-four bishoprics. 

Augustine was not content with simply baptizing his new con- 
verts. He brought with him a knowledge of the ways of the great 
civilized world, and he and his monks taught their royal con- 
verts many useful lessons. It was duo to his influence, probably, 
that about the year 600 the old customary laws of the 

Thclawsof J J . 

Ethelbert, Cantwara were reduced to writing and put into code 
form; "the first formal record of the laws of an English 
people," preceding by ninety years the like record which Ine 
made of the laws of the West Saxons. Thus we owe to Ethelbert 
almost all our knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon institutions as they 
existed at tho close of the era of settlement. As represented in his 
laws, they remind us of the descriptions which Tacitus gave of the 
Germans who lived on the borders of the empire in the first century 

'The distinctive badge of the archbishop, a sort of scarf or stole worn 
round the neck, with falling ends in front, marked each with three crosses. 


of the Christian era, and show that the Teutons of Britain had not 
yet advanced very far beyond the condition of the Germans who 
were first known to the Eomans. The only penalties known to 
Ethelbert's laws were fines, or indemnities, covering almost every 
conceivable injury to life or limb or property, and varying from the 
ordinary indemnities prescribed for the wrongs of a freeman, to the 
ninefold penalty prescribed for injury to the king or his property ; 
the elevenfold penalty prescribed for injury to a bishop, and the 
twelvefold penalty prescribed in the case of him who destroyed the 
"goods of God." Here we may plainly read the influence of the 
priest, and see the high estate which the church had already won. 
The overlordship of Ethelbert, like that of Ceawlin, passed 
away with the generation to which he belonged, and the con- 
federacy of Jutes, Saxons, and Angles dissolved once 
reaction in more into "a chaos of warring tribes." A reaction also 
set in against the church. Edbald, the new king of the 
Cantwara, not only rejected his father's faith, but compelled the 
Christian teachers to retire into Gaul. 

When Ceawlin was closing his long career in the southwest, 

Ethelric, the king of the Bernicians, was extending his power over 

the neighboring Deirans. In 593 his son Ethelfrid, 

The first , . 

Nm-thumbri- "the Devastator," succeeded to the headship of the 

united Northumbrian tribes. We have already seen 

him at Dawston overwhelming a combined host of Scots, Picts, 

and Britons; and again, a few years later, overwhelming the 

Britons in a decisive engagement far down under the walls of 

Chester. For twenty years this terrible king lorded it over the 

north and extended his power far to the south. His efforts to 

extend his power here, however, brought him face to face with the 

new East Anglian confederation of Raedwald. The two 

armies met at Retford in Nottinghamshire; Ethelfrid 

was slain, and Raedwald for the time secured his supremacy 

south of the Humber. 

The Northumbrian confederacy of Ethelfrid, which had now 
outlasted two kings, did not break up at his death, but passed to 
the exiled king of the Deirans, Edwin. Ethelfrid had pursued 
him relentlessly from one exile to another, and it was the refusal of 


I 5 [ { 

> \ 



Raedwald to betray his unfortunate guest which led to the war so 

fatal to Ethelfrid. Edwin now returned to his people, and soon 

extended his authority even beyond that of his old 
Edwin, . . 

successor of enemy, Ethelfrid. lie awed the Celtic princes on his 

western borders, and compelled Man and Anglesey 
to recognize his overlordship. The Anglian kings to the south, 
breaking away from the East Anglian confederacy, also accepted his 
supremacy. He also pushed his conquests to the north, and here, 
on a hill overlooking the Forth, built a frontier fortress, to 
which he left his name, the beginning of the modern Edinburgh. 
Then the great king looked about him for a consort worthy to 
share his honors. He found her in Ethelburga, the daughter of 

Ethelbert; and again a Christian princess turned her 


of Northum- back upon her own people and entered the court of a 
pagan king. The same stipulations were made as in 
the case of her mother, Bertha; and again a devout princess 
prayed and waited in her land of exile, and her pious chap- 
lain preached and taught. Edwin, however, was not to be as easily 
won as Ethelhert. He long withstood the earnest entreaties 
of his wife, and the fervid arguments of her chaplain, Paulinus. 
At last, under the skillful representations of the queen and the 
chaplain, the birth of a daughter, a narrow escape from the 
dagger of an assassin, and a successful raid upon the West 
Saxons, presented themselves with such combined force to the 
mind of the king as evidences of the favor and power of the Chris- 
tian's God, that he consented to refer the matter to his witan, as 
the counselors of the king were called. They met in solemn 
assembly, the witenagemot, and listened while Paulinus presented 
his case. The "tall, stooping form, slender aquiline nose and 
black hair falling round a thin, worn face, were long remembered 
in the north." The hearts of the grim old warriors softened as 
the faithful priest, like Paul of old, talked to them of "righteous- 
ness and judgment," of Christ's love and eternal life. Then an 
aged ealdorman arose, and in words of rare beauty, gave voice to 
the new hope which the words of tho preacher had kindled: "The 
life of man, king," he cried, "is as a sparrow's flight through 
the hall, when a man is sitting at meat in wintertido with the 


warm fire lighted on the hearth, but the chill rainstorm without. 
The sparrow flies in at one door and tarries for a moment in the 
light and heat of the hearth fire, and then flying forth from the 
other, vanishes in wintry darkness whence it came. So tarries for 
a moment the life of man in our sight. For what is before it and 
what after it we know not. If this new teaching tell us aught 
certainly of these, let us follow it." 1 Still thewitan hesitated, 
until Coifi, the king's priest, denounced the gods whom he had 
served and asked that he himself might set fire to the pagan 
temple at Godmundham. Then Edwin hesitated no longer, and 
on Easter Day, April 12, G27, acknowledged his submission to 
the new faith in the rite of Christian baptism. 

With the accession of the powerful Edwin, the conversion 
of the north advanced rapidly. York was made an archi- 
episcopal see, and Paulinus "was established as its first 
primacy archbishop. Whenever the king went through his king- 
dom upon a royal progress, his bishop attended him, 
and each court day was made the occasion for preaching and 
baptizing. Vassal kings also followed the example of Edwin. In 
628 (?) the son of his old friend Raedwald of East Anglia sub- 
mitted to baptism, and three years later Felix, a Burgundian 
bishop, established himself among the East Angles. Paulinus also 
preached among the Lindiswara, and built a stone church at Lin- 
coln, where, in G28, he consecrated Honorius, the new archbishop 
of Canterbury. A few years later the Pope formally recognized 
the northern primacy by sending to Paulinus the coveted pallium. 
As with Ethelbert in the south, the presence of the priest by 
the side of the barbaric king told powerfully for civilization; for 
Edwin, also under priestly tutelage, honestly strove to 
influenteof gj ve n j s people the precious boon of peace under good 
in Northum- i aws an( j w j se administration. It was said first of him 


that in his days, "a woman with her babe might walk 
scatheless from sea to sea." The people tilled their fields and 
gathered their harvests in quiet and safety. Men no longer feared 
the thief or the robber; stakes were driven by the roadside spring, 

1 Bede, Ecclesiastical History, II, 13. Quoted in Green, H. E. P., I, p. 46. 


where the traveler found a brass cup hanging for his use, and no 
thief durst carry it off. From the priest, too, Edwin learned to 
adopt a certain pomp, until then unknown to the simple barbaric 
war chief. When he passed through the villages on his royal tours, 
a standard of purple and gold preceded him; a tuft of feathers, also, 
the Roman tufa, surmounted his spear, and was carried before him as 
he walked, the symbol of the royal presence; — forerunners of crowns 
and thrones yet to come. 

Thus the church, as the great civilizer, had already begun its 
work in Teutonic Britain. But the conquest of the island was 
not to be completed without a long and bitter struggle. 
reaction in The proverbial hatred of the barbarian for foreign insti- 
tutions was soon awakened. In Kent, the death of 
Ethelbert had been the signal for reaction. In the north, the 
reaction did not wait for the death of Edwin, but was the cause of 
his overthrow. 

.. , . The Anglian tribes of mid-Britain were very early known 
Merda. as Mercians, or the border people. In the later sixth 
century, they had begun to draw together into a confederacy sim- 
ilar to those about them. But it was not until the time of their 
great king Penda that this fifth league became a 

Penda, >12G. . . 

formidable threat to its neighbors. Penda, moreover, 
was not a common conqueror, like Ceawlin, fighting only for 
dominion, lie represents the protest of the adherents of the old 
faith against the innovations which the foreigner had introduced. 
About him gathered all the dissatisfied elements of mid-Britain, 
to make a last stand for the faith of their fathers. Penda was 
also a politician, as well as a pagan reactionary, and did not hesitate 
to ally himself with Cadwallon, the Christian king of North Wales. 
The Celtic Christians had always held aloof from their pagan 
neighbors, a fact which Gildas had deplored even in his day. 

They had not only refused to take any steps to convert 
Thrhrrarh them to Christianity, but, even after the Teutons had 

ill the i i • liio J ' ' 

churches™ 1 * rGGe ™ e & Christian teachers from the continent, they 
stoutly refused to recognize the new church. Augus- 
tine, by the help of Ethelbert, had arranged a conference with the 
Welsh bishops on the banks of the Severn, in the hope of enlisting 


them in his work of converting their neighbors. The Welsh 
listened willingly at first, but, when they learned that cooperation 
The confer- mean t the recognition of the supremacy of the new arch- 
Augustin's bi sno P> an( i the acceptance of the innovations which two 
oak, "Awt." hundred years had added to the western church, they 
stubbornly refused to accept the terms of compact, and allowed the 
council to break up with hard and bitter words. "If ye will not 
have peace with us as brethren," cried the angry primate, "ye 
shall have war with us as enemies; if ye will not preach the way of 
life to the Angles, you shall at their hands suffer the vengeance of 

Nothing had been done in the generation since to cement this 
breach. The hand of the terrible Ethelfrid had fallen heavily 
upon the Welsh. Their "holy men," to the number of 
ho^mtlfof two thousand, had been slain before Chester, an event 
TevSms!"* wn ich they could not fail to connect with the bitter 
prophecy of Augustine. The Christian Edwin had fol- 
lowed the pagan Ethelfrid, and gleaned where he had reaped ; nor 
did it make his dominance more acceptable, that, unlike Ethel- 
frid, he was a Christian prince. In the wild ferocity of their 
neighbors, the Welsh could hardly distinguish Christian from 

The western Celts, therefore, although Christians, were ready 
to unite with Penda for a joint attack on Edwin, and an expul- 
Aiiiance s * on °^ P ai, li llus an( l his monks from Northumbria. 
and eMkl ^ ne a Ui e( l armies met Edwin at Hatfield, near the north 
mmfof 71 ' Anglian border. Edwin was killed, his army routed, 
Hatfield- and his confederacy broken up. Archbishop Paulinus, 
with Ethelburga and her children, fled to Kent, where the con- 
version of Edbald had recently put an end to the pagan reaction, 
and once more established Christianity among the Cantwara. 

Penda now succeeded to the supremacy of Edwin in mid- 
Britain ; and, for the first time, all the Anglian tribes west of the 
Recovery of ^ en country were united in one confederation. The 
Nortimmbria. regions north of the Humber, however, he left to his 
ally, Cadwallon, who lorded it here for twelve months with great 
cruelty. The glorious Ethelfrid had left a son, Oswald, who, dur- 

634 642] OSWALD AND PENDA 41 

ing the triumph of Edwin, had remained in exile in Iona, a Celtic 

mission station, on a barren rock off the west coast of Scotland. 

From his lonely exile, he heard the cry of his people under the 

cruel hand of Cadwallon, and, with a small but determined band, 

~ . , descended the north Tyne ; overthrew and slew Cadwal- 

Denisburn, J ' 

6aJ - Ion on Denisburn, not far from the Roman wall, and 

made himself supreme in all Northumbria. He then set to work 
to restore the broken altars of the Christian faith. lie refused to 
recall Paulinus, however, for he had been identified with the rival 
dynasty of Edwin, and the Bernicians had already refused to heed 
his teachings. Oswald, therefore, sent to his old friends at Iona 
for help. The monk Aidan responded; a man who combined tact 
with purity of life and real nobility of character, and by "teaching 
not otherwise than he and his followers lived," he soon won the 
confidence of the Bernicians. Christianity rapidly regained its 
hold in the north. At Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, Aidan estab- 
lished the inevitable monastery, and, from this as a center, he 
sent out his missionaries to teach the people. Aidan represented 
the older form of worship ; yet Oswald felt none of the hostility of 
Cadwallon to the southern form of Christianity. He supported 
the Lombard Birinus, who had begun a work among the West 
Saxons, and was present and acted as godfather when the king 
Cynegils was baptized. 

The relations between Oswald and Penda remained peaceful 
for many years. Apparently, Penda was forced for the time to 
Oswald and ^ ro P * n ^° * ne vassa, l relation; for, according to Bede, 
Penda. Oswald brought under his dominion all the nations and 

provinces of Britain. So wide-reaching was his influence, that, 
even in distant Kent, the children of Edwin, the rival line of 
Deira, were thought to be no longer safe, and were sent by their 
mother across the Channel to her Frankish kindred for safe keep- 
ing. Penda, however, was not the kind of spirit to bear long even 
the loosest chains, and, in the year 642, we find him in battle 
Triumph <>f w ^ n n ^ s over-king on the bloody Maserfield, somewhere 
Maria. [ n Shropshire. Oswald was defeated, and later put to 
death, and Penda was left to reign as the one great king among 
the Teutonic tribes. 


The Northumbrian tribes did not lose their independence alto- 
gether upon the the fall of Oswald. They remained, however, 
, broken and divided, until they were again united under 

N^humbria Oswald's brother, Oswy. But, for thirteen years, Penda 
654 - and his Mercians carried on a cruel war against the 

northern kingdoms. Oswy pleaded hard for peace, but all his 
efforts at reconciliation were treated with scorn by Penda. At 
last, in 654, a decisive battle was fought on the Winwaed, not far 
from the modern Leeds, and Penda, now eighty years old, per- 
ished in the fight. The victory of Oswy, who fought against 
vastly superior numbers, was probably due to the discontent of 
Penda's vassal kings, who were weary of the lordly ways of the 
old pagan, and dissatisfied with his long wars against their Chris- 
tian brethren of the north. 

With the fall of Penda, the last bulwark of paganism was swept 
away. Even while he lived, his son Wulfhere had submitted to 
baptism, and his Mercians had begun to follow Chris- 
CfvHMiwn'i'fy tian teachers under his very eyes. When, therefore, 
mMercia. three years after Penda's death, Wulfhere succeeded 
to the royal title in Mercia, and the last of the great confed- 
eracies had thus accepted a Christian king, the strength of 
paganism was broken. It survived only among the South Saxons. 

Sixty years had now passed since the baptism of Ethelbert, and, 

although Teutonic Britain was virtually won for Christianity, there 

was, as vet, no uniform rule of faith, or harmony of 

The Teutonic • 

churches in practice; there was no commonly accepted authority 
the 7th before which rival bishops might bring their quarrels 

for adjustment, or the unworthy might be tried and 
punished. North of the Humber, Oswald had restored the older 
form which ho had learned at Iona. Kent had been converted by 
missionaries sent out directly by the Roman church; the East 
Anglians had been won by the Burgundian Felix, and the West 
Saxons by the Lombard Birinus. There was no such serious 
divergence in practice between the converts of these southern mis- 
sionaries, as between them and the northern Christians, but the 
universal authority of the Pope had not yet been so thoroughly 
established in the minds of western Christians as to assure the 

634] WILFRID 43 

supremacy of his representative at Canterbury over the disciples 
of Felix and Birinus. The tribal life was still strong; the spirit 
of local independence still persistent and defiant. The bishop was 
only the royal chaplain, and had little influence and few interests 
outside of the lines which marked the limits of his master's 
authority. If he recognized the primacy of the archbishop of 
Canterbury at all, it was a primacy of prestige and dignity, rather 
than of actual authority. Sees were overgrown and unmanage- 
able. Their boundaries advanced, or receded, with the success or 
failure of the arms of the royal patrons. Churchmen were not all 
saints ; and too often the bishops shared fully in the ambitious 
rivalries of their masters, and lent their influence to conquest and 
land spoiling, in order to enlarge their authority, or curtail that of 
some troublesome neighbor. The bishops, moreover, did not 
always wait for conquest; but interfered directly in each other's 
affairs. Bitter quarrels arose over jurisdiction or precedence, to 
be settled at last by an arbitrary judgment of the king, who was 
often himself an interested participant in the quarrel, and 
eager for a pretext under which to extend his authority. There 
must have been some community of life, some feeling of com- 
mon sympathy, some sense of common interest, but the idea 
of unity was at best only vaguely apprehended, and burned so 
feebly, that, alone and unaided, it could never have materially 
counteracted the political influence of the age. Here, then, was a 
great work to be done, to take advantage of the natural desire of 
Christian men for unity, to bring all the churches of Teutonic 
Britain into one organic system, united under one national primate. 
This great work, the union and organization of the National 
Church, is associated with the names of Wilfrid and Theodore. 

Wilfrid was born about the year G34. At fourteen, he attracted 

the attention of Eanfied, the queen of Oswy, and was sent by her 

to Lindisfarne for his education. Here, the lad's mind 

Wilfrid. . 

was fired with a desire to see the great Christian world, 
of which his people knew so little; and especially to visit Home, 
regarded by many as the first home of Christianity in the west. His 
royal patroness humored him in his visions of travel and learning, 
and finally sent him on his way in company with Benedict Biscop. 


After an absence of four years, he returned to his people, and was 
installed as abbot of Kipon. Travel and contact with the world 
had opened the eyes of the young monk to the isolation of his own 
people. He had looked upon the greatness of Home; he had 
caught the spirit of her mighty traditions, and bowed to the 
authority of the greater Christendom. He returned, therefore, 
to denounce the peculiar practices of the Celtic church as schis- 
matic, and to demand that the church of Northumbria should order 
itself in harmony with the common practice of other Christian 
nations. There were many of the old disciples of Paulinus at 
hand, ready to second the earnest words of their young champion. 
The strife increased in bitterness, until, finally, King Oswy him- 
self became interested, and consented to summon a meeting of 
northern bishops to settle the dispute. 

The synod met at Whitby. Colman, the bishop of York, 
argued for the practices of the Celtic church, as the church of 
their fathers. Wilfrid pleaded the universal practice of 
wmw°% ( 4 Christendom. But Oswy at last cut the knot in a sim- 
ple fashion of his own. "Is it true," he asked Colman, 
"that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter by 
our Lord? Has any such power been given to Columba, the 
founder of the Scottish church?" "None," Colman was forced 
to answer. Then said the king, "If Peter be the door-keeper, he 
is the man for me." The king's logic was final. Colman and 
his monks withdrew, and once more the Northumbrians began to 
follow the customs which they had learned from Paulinus. 

Four years after the famous decision at Whitby, Theodore of 
Tarsus, a Greek monk, was appointed by Pope Vitalian to the 
Theodore vacant see of Canterbury. When he reached Canter- 
oYcmter^ bur y tbe fonowm g Mav > ne found that a plague had 
bury, 665. recently devastated the island. The church, in par- 
ticular, had suffered severely ; several bishops had fallen at their 
posts ; and the people were awed and softened. Theodore saw his 
opportunity, and began at once a visitation of the several king- 
doms ; reorganizing the churches, filling vacant sees, and introduc- 
ing a stricter conformity to the Roman system. In the north, he 
found a serious quarrel on between Wilfrid and Oswy. Wilfrid, 


after his success at Whitby, had been chosen bishop of York, and 
had gone to the continent to assure himself of a canonical conse- 
cration, but, upon his return, found that Oswy had installed the 
Celtic monk Chad in his place. Theodore interfered and deposed 
Chad on the ground of an uncanonical consecration, and estab- 
lished Wilfrid. Chad, however, had won the heart of Theodore 
by his humility, and, after reconsecration, was appointed to the 
vacant see of the Mercians at Lichfield. Theodore also made 
appointments to the vacant sees of Rochester, Dunwich, and Dor- 
chester. Thus, in the first two years of his administration, the 
new primate had filled five of the six sees of Britain. 

The existing sees, however, were unwieldy ; some, as York, or 
the Mercian see, were very large. In 673, Theodore invited the 

bishops to meet him at Hertford, to consider the ques- 
wwiciisof ^ion °^ reor g an i za tion. All responded except Wine, the 
H%rtfmd673 bishop of London, who was resting under the grave 

charge of simony. The gathering was not only the first 
council of the English church, but the first assembly in which rep- 
resentatives from all parts of the future nation met to discuss 
matters of common interest. Theodore proposed to subdivide the 
unwieldy sees, and place each subdivision under a particular bishop. 
Each bishop, moreover, was to confine himself to his own diocese ; 
the priest was to minister only in the diocese of the bishop from 
whom he received his license; monks also were to remain under 
their abbots. The plan of subdivision did not meet with the favor 
of the bishops; but the proposition to confine the activity of 
each official to his proper district was accepted, and a foundation 
laid for the further introduction of the orderly methods of 

the Roman church. Seven years later, 680, Theodore 

held another synod at Hatfield, at which the bishops 
accepted the decrees of the General Councils, and so formally 
decreed the orthodoxy of the new national church. 

Theodore was by no means disposed to accept the decision of 
the synod of Hertford upon the question of subdividing the sees 
as final, and the next year proceeded to divide the see of East 
Anglia, by creating a new bishop's seat at Elmham. In 676, he 
settled a long-standing quarrel of Cenwahl and Wulfhere, over the 


see of Dorchester, by finally establishing an episcopal seat at 

Winchester, thus giving the West Saxon king a bishop at his 

own capital. The great see of York, however, under 

The reornan- 

izattonof the masterful Wilfrid, long defied Theodore's plan of 

the Church. 

reorganization. It was the most unwieldy of all the 
sees, and included not only the lands of the Deirans and Berni- 
cians, but an indefinite region beyond the Forth over which 
Northumbrian kings had extended an overlordship, as well as the 
Lindiswara, south of the Humber. But the popularity and influ- 
ence of Wilfrid finally roused the jealousy of King Egfrid, Oswy's 
successor, and the king himself determined to divide the diocese. 
Wilfrid refused to yield; but Theodore supported the king, and, in 
a council at York, at which he presided, Wilfrid was deposed, and 
Bernicia formally separated from York, with its own bishop at 
Lindisfarne. Wilfrid possessed too much of the spirit of the later 
Becket to submit to what he regarded as an unjust invasion of his 
episcopal rights, and retired to Rome to appeal in person to the 
Pope. On his outward journey, he was thrown upon the coast of 
Frisia, and here he spent the winter preaching to the heathen 
Frisians and laying the foundations for the future mission of his 
pupil Willibrord. The next year he reached Borne, but, when he 
returned to Northumbria with a papal decree directing that he be 
reinstated, the king and his witan treated the decree with con- 
tempt, and cast the unruly priest into prison. Nine months later, 
he was released, and, after more wandering, finally found a field 
congenial to his energetic temperament, among the heathen Saxons 
of the Andred's weald. Here Wilfrid labored five years. The 
people were apparently the most degraded and barbaric of any of 
the Teutonic settlers of Britain. They were ignorant of the sim- 
plest arts of life. The king, Ethelwald, appointed Wilfrid a resi- 
dence at Selsey, where he laid the foundations of the future 

In the meanwhile, Theodore was steadily pushing forward his 
great plans for the organization of the church. At the request of 

King Ethelred, he divided the Mercian see, which was 
of Mercian almost as unwieldy as that of York, by establishing a 

separate bishop for the Hwiccas at Worcester, and an- 


other for the Middle Angles at Leicester. The Lindiswara, who had 
lately been restored to the Mercian confederacy, also received a 

separate bishop, whose seat was fixed at Sidnacester; 
Birnicia Lichfield remained the episcopal seat of Mercia proper. 

Two years later, Theodore further divided the see of 
Bernicia by establishing a bishop at Hexham for the Berniciarts, 
and one at Abercorn for the Picts. 

In the year 686 Wilfrid made his peace with Theodore, and was 
allowed to return to York and be reinstated. His submission 

completed the triumph of Theodore. The plan of 
Theodore's Gregory for the establishment of a great northern 


primacy had been definitely abandoned for the plan 

of uniting all the Teutonic sees under the primate of Canterbury. 

After Wilfrid's return to York, one more see was established 

among the Magesaetas at Hereford. The next year, at 

' the advanced age of eighty-eight, Theodore passed 

quietly to his well-earned rest. 

Theodore is the great man of the seventh century. He created 
the national church. When he came, in 669, he found six dis- 
cordant sees, overgrown and unwieldy for administrative 
Theodore's purposes. When he laid down his work twenty years 
later, the six had been broken up into fifteen, and all 
united under the close supervision of the archbishop of Canter- 
bury. There was in all the west no ecclesiastical province which 
The was * n De tt er stead, or more efficiently organized. But 

{Tnatkmta ^ un J as important as the work of Theodore for the 
England. church, was his influence upon the future political 
development of the Teutonic tribes of Britain. The original 
smaller tribal divisions were breaking down. The great confeder- 
acies were passing into permanent federations. But the five great 
states of Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, East Anglia, and Kent 
still stood over against each other as fiercely jealous and hostile as 
ever. The patient teaching of the monks had done much to 
assuage the fires of ancient feuds; still, if a permanent union were 
ever secured, apparently, it must be by the sword. But, under 
Theodore, the church, with its perfected territorial organization, 
recognizing but one country and one people, called up a new vision 


of unity, "clothed with a sacred form and surrounded with divine 
sanction," embodied in the one national primate, and expressing 
its will through the legislative action of one national coun- 
cil. That this new organization was ecclesiastical, made its 
influence none the less national and political. Men had not yet 
differentiated church and state, and it was only a step from the 
national ecclesiastical organization to a national political organiza- 
tion ; from the local organization of the bishoprics of Theodore to 
the shire organizations of Ine ; from the national council of the 
church to the national council of the state; from the national 
primate to the national king. 

In other ways, also, Theodore assisted in laying deep and stable 
the foundations of the England to come. His penitential system 
instilled into the barbaric mind a new conception of vice 
encesof and crime as sin against God; thus preparing a founda- 
tion for the work of the future Glanvilles and Bractons, 
in the quickening moral sense of the people. His school at Can- 
terbury, under the direction of his friend, the abbot Hadrian, gave 
instruction in Latin and Greek, arithmetic and astronomy, and 
the themes of Holy Scripture — the forerunner of the great schools 
of Jarrow and York. He also did much to diffuse a knowledge of 
the stately Gregorian music, which had been as yet hardly known 
outside the borders of Kent. 

It must not be forgotten, however, that Theodore is not the 

only great name which the church of this era has given to English 

history. We have already seen "Wilfrid struggling in 

Wilfrid's his own way to solve the Northumbrian church prob- 


lems. The course of his life after the death of Theo- 
dore continued as stormy as ever. He quarreled with the successors 
of Egfrid and Theodore. and wasted his declining years between 
English synods and the papal curia in a vain attempt to recover 
his lost honors. He died at Oundle in 709. 

Wilfrid was one of those turbulent energetic natures, whose 
lot it is to make a great stir in the world, and so get credit for an 
influence and importance which they do not really deserve. His 
old friend, Benedict Biscop, on the other hand, was a quiet, 
unassuming man, whose merits later generations have hardly rec- 


ognized. He was the first to introduce stained glass, bringing 
glass workers from Gaul, in order to provide his own monastery 

aic , at Wearmouth. He founded the famous monastery and 
Bixcop. more famous school at Jarrow, going himself to Rome to 

procure books and pictures for its library. "To his enlightened 
zeal, the world owes Bede, the school of York, and the great 

To this era belong also the names of Cuthbert, consecrated 

bishop of Lindisfarne by Theodore, famous peasant preacher and 

saint, who spent the greater part of his life among the 

w,Lf^! bcrf ' remoter mountain settlements of Northumbria, "from 
uvea, 687. ' 

whpse roughness and poverty other teachers turned 
aside"; Caedmon, also, the peasant Milton, the cowherd of 
Whitby, whose untutored lips, touched by divine vision, 'sang of 

the creation of the world,' the 'origin of man,' . . . 

Vaedmon, , , , . ° , 

died about 'or the incarnation, passion and resurrection of 
Christ,' ... 'of the terror of future punishment, the 
horror of hell pangs, and the joys of heaven,' — "the first great 
English song." 

In the year G70, Oswy, first of English royal saints, had passed 
to his grave. Egfrid, his son and successor, was a very different 
man from his peace-loving father. He tore the Lindis- 
uiJ$orth wara from Wulfhere of Mercia; he revived the long 
feud with his Celtic neighbors, driving them out of 
Cumbria, and taking possession of the south bank of the Solway to 
the sea. But, in an evil hour, he determined to conquer the 
Picts, who, it seems, were still as troublesome and incorrigible as 
in the days of Agricola. He gathered his Northumbrian thanes, 
and, leading them across the Forth, disappeared among the wild 
glens of the Pict land. Neither he nor his army ever returned. 
NecMam- ^ ne solitary fugitive, after long wanderings among the 
mere,685. mountains, and after incredible hardships, at last came 
back to tell how King Egfrid and his thanes fell by the shores of 
the North Sea, 'bitten to death' by the sword of the Pict. 

Northumbria never recovered again. Her glory lay in the 
corpse-ring, which surrounded her fallen lord, "in the far-off 
moorland of Nechtansmere." For twenty years, Eldfrid, the dead 


king's brother, continued to hold Northumbria together. But, 
after his death, evil days fell fast upon the North H umber lands. 
The witan dominated in the councils of the nation, and 
lucttn™? 1 tae * r q uarre l s filled the land with disorder. In a 
Northitm- period of thirty-eight years, nine different kings rapidly 
succeeded each other. Of these, three were assassin- 
ated; five were formally deposed, one being afterward executed 
for presuming to return from exile. 

The fall of Egfrid at Nechtansmere left the Mercians and the 
West Saxons sole competitors for the overlordship of Britain. 
Decline of ^ n ^' as 3^' ^ ne West Saxons had given little promise 
wessex. f their great future. Some petty conquests of Cenwahl 
(643-672), on the Avon and among the Mendip hills, by which he 
extended his borders to the Parret in Somerset, could hardly offset 
the effect of Wulfhere's conquest in 661, when he not only drove 
the West Saxons out of the North Thames basin, t>ut tore from 
them the eastern conquests of Ceawlin, including the Isle of 
Wight, and added them to the lands of the king of Sussex, thus 
raising a new and worthy rival to Wessex south of the Thames. 
Cenwahl managed to hold the remnant of his kingdom together 
until his death in 672. But, during the thirteen years following, 
even this remnant was still further divided and torn by the rivalries 
of petty kings. The affairs of Wessex were then, perhaps, at 
their lowest ebb. 

In 685, Cad walla, one of the petty kings of the West Saxons, 
fought his way to supremacy over his fellows, and once more suc- 
ceeded in drawing the fragments of Cenwahl's kingdom 

The rise of 

wessex. together. Two years later, he ravaged Sussex, and 
to death of regained what Wulf here had given to its king. Through 
Sussex, he entered Kent, and, overrunning the country 
in two successive years, compelled the people to acknowledge his 
lordship. In 688, Ine became king of the West Saxons. In 
him the Mercian kings found a rival worthy of all 
their strength. He completed the conquest of Somer- 
set, and secured his new territories by a wooden fort on the Tone, 
the modern Taunton. In 715, he was called upon to measure his 
strength with Ceolred of Mercia, at Wamborough ; and, although 

715-751] INE IN WESSEX 51 

neither side could chiini a victory, Ine prevented the Mercians from 
gaining a foothold south of the Thames. All the country was now 
his between the Thames and the sea, and from Dorset to Thanet. 
Within these borders, Ine sought to lay the foundation of a 
real kingdom, by defining the power of his administrative officers, 
The Laws au( ^ ^ v ^ n S uniformity to the customary law by reduc- 
ofine. ing it to a code. The shire here first appears as the 

territorial unit of the judicial administration. The ealdorman is 
responsible for the arrest of the criminal in his shire; if he allows 
him to escape, he forfeits his office. Military service, thefyrd, is 
required of all, high or low; and heavy fines, but graded to the 
rank of the laggard, are prescribed for failure to respond to the 
call to arms. Like the laws of Ethelbert, these of Ine also show 
the influence of the priest. Sunday labor is prohibited; a merci- 
ful ordinance when the labor of the community was performed largely 
by serfs. The precincts of the king's palace, or a bishop's palace, 
are sacred against acts of violence, and are equally protected by a 
fine of one hundred and twenty shillings, — the burg-bryce. In 
these laws, the conquered Briton appears as a bondsman, — 
theow wealh; but there is also mention of the Welsh freeman with 
one hide of land, and of the Welsh rent-paying tenant; the king 
also has his mounted Welshmen. There is also the Welsh noble, 
with five hides of land. 

The later days of Ine were covered with gloom. His old age 
was saddened by domestic intrigue and revolt, the curse of the 

early Teutonic kingdom. Then, after thirty-six years 
day8 lc ^ t ine. °* thankless toil, Ine threw down his work in disgust, 

and, like so many of his peers, must go a pilgriming to 
Rome. The peace which he sought came to him on the way. 

While the fortunes of Wessex were rising, those of Mercia were 
declining. There is no great king after the death of Wulfhere 

(675) until we reach the era of Ethelbald, when once 
SjErereS* more a Mercian king threatens the independence of 
™^f d - Wessex; but a defeat at the hands of a Northumbrian 

king, whose lands Ethelbald had invaded, so shattered 
his strength, that his hold upon the south was weakened, and he 
was compelled to face a revolt of Cuthred, the new vassal king 


of Wessex. After a long struggle, Cuthred won a decisive 
victory at Burford in Oxfordshire. No more glorious day 
had yet dawned in West Saxon history. All the vassal kings 
of the Mercian overlord, the kings of Kent, Sussex, and Essex, 
besides those of his own Mercia, had followed him to that 
fatal field. Opposed were the people of Wessex, marshaled under 
the famous golden dragon, and fighting for independence. The 
victory was final; the great Mercian confederacy was shat- 
tered, and no shred of Ethelbald's power south of the Thames 
remained. Six years later, 757, Ethelbald was foully slain at 
night by his own people. 

No account of the reigns of Ine and Ethelbald would be com- 
plete that did not mention their great contemporary, Bede, the 
Bede first English historian. He was born, probably, in the 

673-735. verv y ear f Theodore's historic council at Hertford. 

At seven, he was put under the instruction of Benedict Biscop, 
who had shortly before built his monastery at Wearmouth. Bede 
very early committed himself to the quiet and uneventful life of 
the scholar. He passed his years between Wearmouth and the 
later foundation of Jarrow. Now and then, echoes from the busy, 
turbulent world outside reached him in his quiet retreat; but 
never to allure him from his patient round of "reading, teaching, 
and writing." One marvels at what he accomplished. The 
library, which his old master had brought from Eome for the two 
monastery schools, was his sole workshop. "I am my own secre- 
tary," he writes ; "I make my own notes ; I am my own librarian. " 
Yet, he mastered the knowledge of the time, and left a list of 
thirty-seven works to testify to his industry. He revived for 
England the traditions of the older culture of the almost 
forgotten classical world, and impressed the warlike thanes of 

Northumbria with "the quiet grandeur of a life con- 
aFHitton/oi secra -ted to knowledge." His reputation to-day rests 
tteA^t^y u P on *" s "Ecclesiastical History of the Nation of 

the Angles," — the beginning of authentic English 
history; the only light to cast a gleam into the darkness which 
separates the Britain of Gildas from the Britain of Ine and 




757-796] OFFA IN MERCIA 53 

Under the powerful Offa, who ruled Mercia from 757-796, the 

long struggle for supremacy seemed again about to be decided in favor 

of the middle kingdom. Of the first year of his reign, 

Mercian little is known; but, in 771, we find him parceling out 
power at ' ' * ° 

zenith. the lands of Sussex, with the kings of Wessex and Kent 

acting as attesting parties; evidence that, even at this date, Offa 

had established himself south of the Thames, and that Wessex had 

again lost her independence. His greatest wars, however, were 

waged against the Welsh, whom he drove out of the valley of the 

Severn, advancing his own- borders to the Wye. This conquest he 

secured by the introduction of colonists and the erection of a 

"Off 's frontier rampart, the famous "Offa's Dyke," connecting 

Dyke." the lower Severn and the Dee. The line of "Offa's 

Dyke" has remained virtually the permanent boundary between 

Wales and England. 

Apparently, Offa accepted the threefold division of Teutonic 

Britain as final, and sought to secure conformity to this 

arrangement in the organization of the church, by rais- 

metmpoiuan ing the see of Lichfield to metropolitan honors, coor- 

HfC 7S7 -HIM) 

dinate in authority with Canterbury and York, the 
archiepiscopal dignity of the latter having been restored in 735. 
The pope granted Offa's request, and, for thirteen years, Mercia 
could boast of an archbishop of its own. 

Offa died in 790, and, for a few years, Mercia maintained the 
position to which ho had elevated her. Then, one by one, the 
achievements of Offa were undone. The primacy of Lichfield 
was abandoned, and the under-kings slipped back again into their 

old independence. In 802, the young Egbert, of the 
S9, h oTn' royal house of Wessex, returned from the court of 

Charles the Great, whither he had been driven by the 
persecutions of Offa. The years which he had spent abroad 
had not been lost. lie had been within that charmed circle 
which surrounded the mighty Frank. He had looked upon a 
Teutonic monarchy at its best, and had doubtless studied deep and 
long the art of ruling men; but most, the peculiar institutions 
which lay at the basis of the Frankish system. How much he 
brought back with him, and just what he introduced into the 


English system, we shall never know; but the striking resem- 
blances of English and Frankish institutions of the ninth century 
can not all be ascribed to similarity of Teutonic origin. For the 
first thirteen years of his reign, Egbert seems to have been rally- 
ing the shattered forces of his kingdom and nourishing its strength. 
In 814, he began the series of operations against the West Welsh, 
Cornwall, which resulted in the final subjugation of the penin- 
sula. English colonization, however, stopped at the 
Tamar. For centuries, the Cornishmen retained their 
own dialect, and enjoyed a semi-independence. Even as late as the 
seventeenth century, there survived a Cornish parliament, with 
independence enough to arrest a king's sheriff and hold him until 
released by a special order of the English parliament. 

From West Wales, Egbert returned to protect his northern 
frontiers against an advance of the Mercians. The armies met at 
miandun Ellandun, in Wiltshire. The Mercians were utterly 
825. routed, and Egbert passed at once to the overlordship 

of the region south of the Thames. The next year, the East 
Angles imitated the example of Wessex; renounced the Mercian 
dependence, and added their strength to the growing power of 
Egbert. Again and again, the allies smote the sinking Mercians. 
Two successive kings, and five great ealdormen, were slain in bat- 
tle. A third king found refuge in exile. When, in 829, Egbert 
made a royal progress through Mercia, it was practically his, 
as much as Wessex. The Northumbrians alone remained, but a 
century of discord had so weakened their power, that only madness 
could induce their king, Eanred, to measure swords with the vic- 
tor of Ellandun. The challenge of Egbert, therefore, was sufficient 
to bring Eanred to his southern border, there to acknowledge the 
supremacy of the king of the West Saxons, and enter the new con- 
federacy as a vassal king. 

By the end of 830, with the exception of Celtic Strathclyde, all 
the lands south of the line of the Forth and the Solway had sub- 
mitted to Egbert. Through all this magnificent region, the princes, 
whether Celt or Teuton, acknowledged the overlordship of the 
southern king. The vague recognition of this overlordship, how- 
ever, did not constitute these vassal states into a kingdom or an 


empire, still less into a national state. 1 Such terms applied here 
are only confusing and misleading. Egbert had, after all, only 

brought together such another confederacy as that which 
of the so- once obeyed Oswald or Offa; only larger in extent, and, 
"Kingdomof for the moment, confronted by no possible rival 

north or south. Yet, it had been established by the 
sword, and was held together only by threat of the sword. Its 
size, moreover, was a source of weakness rather than strength, and 
made the advent of reaction inevitable. It possessed no new ele- 
ments of permanence. The monarchy, as an institution, was 
firmly established in the minds of the people. The church had 
thrown around it the charm of special sanctions, borrowed from 
the imagery and rites of the Old Testament. Yet, the monarchy 
was not one, but many; and, although the right of the witan to 
select the sovereign was generally recognized, the unwritten laws 
of the tribes also recognized the claim of certain royal families, 
the male members of which were known as Ethelings, to the exclu- 
sive enjoyment of the royal title in their several states. Only com- 
plete extermination could dissolve this claim, or save the king 
who held his authority by conquest from the challenge of some 
fugitive rival of the favored blood. As long as this idea of the 
ineradicable nature of the hereditary claims of each royal family 
survived in the laws of Mercians or East Anglians, of Northum- 
bria or Kent, any consolidation of the kingdoms into an organized 
state, under one sole king, and administered through all its 
parts by his appointed representatives, was impossible. At best, 
it could be merely a question of time before the confederacy of 
Egbert, also, should break up, and the constituent kingdoms 
regroup themselves about new centers. 

And yet this did not happen. A new element, the Danish, 
now violently obtruded itself into the history of the English 
tribes, and, although the great part of the conquests of Egbert were, 
for the time, torn from the grasp of his successors, though Wes- 
sex itself was foully smitten, and her strength shattered; yet, 

^or significance of term Bretwalde, as used by Chronicle, etc., cf. 
Freeman, Norman Conquest, I, Append. A., and Stubbs, C. H., I, pp. 180 
and 181. 


with each successive defeat, her kings returned to the conflict more 
desperate and more determined than ever, and, at last, succeeded 
TheCmifed- * n re g a i n i n g n °t on ly their old position, but much 
E a berftom more - For, * n the l° n g struggle, not only were all other 
by the royal lines exterminated, and the old tribal partitions 

irruption of •> # * 

the Danes. as political divisions erased, but the many dominions 
were at last fused into one kingdom, and the many lordships 
absorbed in one kingship. In a word, Teutonic Britain became 
England, and the kings of the West Saxons became kings of the 
English. The progress of these changes constitutes the subject 
matter of the next chapter of English history. 



Egbert, 802-830 

Ethelwulf, 839-855, d. 858 


Etlielbald, 855-800 Ethelbert, 8G0-8GG 

Ethelred, 866-871 

ALFRED, 871-901 


Edward tlio Elder, 901-925 




"The l.adv 

Ifleda, (!. 919. 
of 1 1 1*3 Mercians" 

I 1 
Athelstan, 925-940 Edmund, 940-94G Edi 


ed, 946-955 Mercia. 


ed, Ealdorman of 

! 1 
Edwy, 955-959 Edgar, 

For two hundred years, Britain had received no fresh accessions 
of Teutonic life from beyond the seas; but, in the closing years of 
the eighth century, a new wave began to break upon the eastern 
shore, and, increasing in volume with the opening of the ninth century 
threatened to sweep away the older Teutonic settlers, as the Angles 
and Saxons had once overwhelmed and swept away the remnant of 
the Britons. This new Germanic population came from the two 
great peninsulas which separate the waters of the Baltic from 
the waters of the North Sea. The people of Britain called them 
Danes; the Irish, whose eastern coasts were harried by them as 
severely as the coasts of Britain, knew them as Ostmen, or Eastmen; 
the people of the continent, as Northmen. The name which they 
themselves used was Vikings, or Greehmen. They were of 
Teutonic stock, like the Angles and Saxons, and possessed in gen- 
eral the same institutions. 


58 THE DANISH WARS [eo^brt 

The first experience of the inhabitants of Britain with these 
new troublers of the peace of the island dates as far back as the 

year 787, when three strange crafts suddenly appeared 
anceofthc before the town of Warham, in Dorset. The simple- 

minded reeve, ignorant of the true character of the 
strangers, went out to collect his port dues, and bring the sup- 
posed merchants to the king, as was his duty; but was straightway 
slain for his pains. It was not, however, until six years later, 

that the Northmen gave the people of Britain a fore- 

793. . . * 

taste of the mischief which they might expect at their 
hands, when they swooped down upon Lindisfarne and plundered 
its famous church. The next year, they returned, and Benedict 
Biscop's settlements at Wearmonth and Jarrow suffered the same 
fate. The Christian ruffians of the age generally passed by such 
retreats. The legends of hoarded wealth failed to rouse their 
cupidity to the extent of braving the wrath of the protecting 
saints. But the appeals and imprecations of shaveling monks, 
who had forgotten how to fight, only roused the derision of the 
pagan Northmen and added to the sport of the plundering. 

In the year 795, they reached Ireland, and began a series of 
depredations on the eastern coast, which continued for more than 
TheNorthmen^ q narter of a century. In 832, the pirate king Thorkil 
in Ireland, made a permanent settlement on the north coast, and 
established his capital at Armagh. About the same time, another 
settlement was made at Limerick ; a little later others were made 
at Dublin and, in the next century, at Waterford and Cork. 

The first comers were probably from Norway, and had used 
only the northern route, which lay directly across the North Sea; 
increased ac- an( ^ ^ was ^° ^ n * s ^ ac ^' no doubt, that the lower coasts of 
^a^afbcr Britain owed the long immunity from attack which fol- 
thedeMhof lowed the plunder of Lindisfarne and Jarrow. But, 

Charles the " ' 

Great, 8i4. a ft er the death of Charles the Great, the people of 
the Danish peninsula began to take part in these piratical expedi- 
tions, picking their way along the coasts of the modern Holland and 
Belgium, running their long black crafts up into each river inlet, in 
search of monastery or unprotected river town for plunder. Each 
year they extended their depredations farther to the west; spread- 


ing terror before them, and leaving a memory of horror behind 
them. Homesteads were burned, men slaughtered, children tossed 
on pikes, and women were driven away into slavery; monasteries 
were rifled, churches destroyed, and priests slain at their altars. 
Rumor everywhere added to the actual horrors of these scenes. 
The courage of strong men melted as in the presence of the pes- 
tilence. The pious saw the hand of God, who, out of the mysteri- 
ous mists of the boundless sea, had let slip these, his avengers, to 
punish his people for their sins. 

At last, in the year 833, a fleet of twenty-five vessels 
ilium south appeared in the mouth of the Thames, and ravaged the 

little island of Sheppey. In 834, another band, esti- 
mated at twelve hundred strong, made a landing in Dorset. 
Egbert hastened to meet them, but was virtually defeated; the next 

1T . , year, however, at Hengestdun, he succeeded in winning a 
Hengestdun, J ' . 

835 - brilliant victory over a third horde, which had 

descended from Ireland upon Cornwall. He was not again molested 
during his reign. The memory of the slaughter at Hengestdun 
was enough to keep the Danes at bay until the accession of 
Ethel wulf. 

With Ethelwulf, the attempts of the Danes upon south Britain 
began again. The new king, like his contemporary, Louis the 
Pious, was entirely unfitted for the work to which 
^ ten ad^ f fter destiny had appointed him; a fairly respectable monk 
%"l h( / having been spoiled in making a king. Each ealdorman 

was left to do the best he could for his own district; 
and a noble record these ealdormen made, in glaring contrast 
with the shameful incompetency of the king. Sometimes the 
ealdormen were successful, as when Eanulf and Osric won a victory 
at the mouth of the Parret in 848; but more frequently the 
ealdorman fell in hopeless battle, as Ethelhelm at Portland, or 
Ilerebryht in the Fen country,, or he retired, beaten, to die of his 
wounds, as Wulfheard after Southampton. The climax was 
reached in 842, when London and Rochester were sacked, their 
population scattered, and the cities left in ruin. 

The suffering of those who survived these raids can hardly be 
overdrawn. Homes were broken up, the means of livelihood 



destroyed, and families scattered never to be reunited. In 844, 
the devastations of the country had become so widely extended, that 
Ethelwulf proposed a remission of the royal rents as a 
Sm^Sing P artial relief - At the time of his death in 858, the indi- 
°ei'te g en t poor, always the first to suffer in "hard times," had 

so increased in numbers, that the king made special 
provision in his will for feeding and clothing them at the expense 
of the royal estates. 

Thus far the invaders had come mostly in detached bands of a 
few hundred warriors, bent only upon securing plunder, and mak- 
ing off with it before a sufficient force could be gathered 
vi£ mlfS to P un i sn them. But, in the year 850, a fleet of three 
atockiey, hundred and fifty ships, carrying possibly ten or twelve 
. thousand men, wintered at Sheppey, and, in the early 
spring, boldly entered the Thames. Canterbury, and London for 
the second time, had to pay dearly for their prominence among 
the cities of the southeast. Beorhtwulf, the vassal king of Mercia, 
threw himself in the path of the invaders, but was defeated and his 
army scattered. Then the host crossed into Surrey, but at 
Ockley Ethelwulf met them at the head of the West Saxon fyrd, 
and administered such a beating, that the "memory of the great 
slaughter of heathen" long remained in Saxon tradition. Ethel- 
wulf, however, seems to have taken little advantage of his victory, 
wasting his strength in a useless war upon the Welsh; while his 
ealdormen struggled alone to dislodge the Danes from Thanet and 
other places where they had gained a permanent footing. When, 
in 855, another horde gathered at Sheppey, preparatory to a 
descent upon the neighboring coasts in the spring, the king seized 
the moment to go on a pilgrimage to Home, quite the "fad" among 
the rich saints of the day. So, to Rome he went, with another 
war cloud about to burst upon his people; and the witan, justly 
indignant, held a meeting at Selwood, and, exercising their consti- 
tutional right of deposition, the corollary of their right of election, 
made Ethelbald, the eldest son, king. 

Ethelwulf returned in 856, but had to content himself with an 
under-kingdom made up of Kent, Essex, Surrey, and Sussex. lie 
survived only two years, and then his sons followed him in quick 


succession. When Ethelbald died, in 860, the second brother, 
Ethelbert, was already the vassal king of Kent, but, instead of 

appointing a successor in Kent, he retained both crowns, 
Etiic('wui? f anc ^ ^ nus ^ ue existence of Kent as a separate kingdom 

came to an end. After six years, death again made way 
for another of Ethelwulf's sons, and Ethelred became king. Dur- 
ing Ethelbert's reign, the old capital, Winchester, had been taken 
and sacked by the Danes, and eastern Kent overrun. The Danes, 
moreover, had been showing alarming intentions of permanently 
establishing themselves upon English soil. In the year 866, the 

first of Ethelred's reign, a great host landed in East 

Healfdene in ,i t i i • <-i <• • 

Nortimm- Anglia, under the leadership of the famous chiefs, 

Healfdene and Ivar. The East Anglians saved them- 
selves for the time by supplying the invaders with provisions and 
horses, and inthe spring, saw the horde disappear to the northwest, 
upon a regular mland campaign. The Danes swept through Lindsey, 
devouring the country and burning what they could not carry off. 

The Ilumber was crossed and Deira overrun. In 
November, ' November, York fell. Then the two rival kings of 

Northumbria, Ella and Osbert, whose strife had made 
their country a prey to the Danes, arranged their differences, and 
united for the recovery of the northern capital ; but their reckless 
courage only gave the enemy a better opportunity for slaughter. 
Both kings were slain under the walls of York, and the Northum- 
brian army, with its eight ealdormen, dispersed. Healfdene 
established himself at York, and set up a puppet, one Egbert, over 
the Bernicians. 

In the meanwhile, Ivar, known by the curious nickname of "the 
Boneless," advanced into Mercia, and established himself in 

Nottingham. Mercia would have followed the fate of 
Boneless." Northumbria had not Ethelred marched to the aid of 
andEast the under-king, Burgred, at the head of the West 

Saxons. Alfred appears in this campaign holding high 
command under his brother, and is henceforth one of the prom- 
inent figures in the wars. The Danes were disheartened by the 
vigorous campaigning of the West Saxon princes, and agreed to 
retire across the Ilumber. But the year 870 saw them again on 

62 THE DANISH WARS [ethelkkd 

the war path, under the same Ivar, "the Boneless," and heading 
toward East Anglia. The Lindiswara were reduced, and the Fen 
country was overwhelmed. In East Anglia, the under king, 
Edmund, attempted to face them, but was routed, taken, and 
afterwards, in company with his bishop, Humbert of Elmham, 
tied to a tree and shot to death with arrows. He is 
'•Edmund ^ known in church traditions as "the Martyr," — the Eng- 
lish St. Sebastian. To the panic-stricken people, the 
struggle was rapidly assuming the aspect of a religious war. The 
invaders turned their fury particularly upon the visible representa- 
tives of the Christian faith. Every church edifice in the line of 
march was burned. The monks of Medehamstede, the later Peter- 
borough, were massacred without mercy. The monks of other 
monastic communities, as Croyland and Ely, probably shared the 
same fate. The bishop of Lindsey escaped only by hasty flight, 
but other priests, like Humbert of Elmham, died with their 
people. The episcopal sees were broken up, and the flocks scat- 
tered. Nearly a century passed before Lindsey and Elmham again 
saw a bishop. Dunwich never recovered. 

The Danes had already prepared themselves to hold what they 

had won in East Anglia, by constructing elaborate earthworks at 

Thetford, the remains of which, even to-day, cover 

The ' l Y~ear 

of Battles," about thirteen acres. Their purpose, apparently, was 
not to settle as colonists, but to make East Anglia a 
base in operating against the richer country which lay to the 
west. Accordingly, in 871, with numbers greatly strengthened by 
later accessions, under Healfdene and "a host of jarls," they took 
the old Roman road, the Icknield street, and advanced directly 
upon Wessex. The moment was a critical one in English history. 
Northumbria and East Anglia were already conquered; the 
strength of Mercia was broken; only Wessex remained, the last 
bulwark of England. If the West Saxons failed now, the end was 
near. The opening of the year, long known as the "year of battles," 
was discouraging enough. The Danes took up a strong position 
at Eeading, between the Thames and the Kennet, where they 
fortified themselves, as was now their custom. Then they began 
to spread out over the country in search of forage ; for a medieval 


army, even of civilized nations, had no other way of sustaining 
- itself in the field. King Ethelred and Alfred Etheling, however, 
soon put a stop to the foraging by driving the Danes behind their 
earthworks. They had then only to sit down to a regular siege, 
and hunger would soon have compelled the Danes to treat. Such 
simple tactics were followed later with great success. But the 
enthusiasm of the West Saxons could not be restrained, and, in an 
attempt to carry the camp by storm, they were beaten off with 
great slaughter and compelled to retire up the Thames, where a 
second battle was fought at Ashdown. Here, though forced to 
fight at a great disadvantage, the West Saxon princes were success- 
ful, and compelled the Danes again to retire upon Reading. 
Within two weeks, a third battle followed at Basing, and still a 
fourth at Merton, in Surrey. - 

The fatigue and anxiety of such vigorous campaigning told 
heavily upon King Ethelred, who finally broke under the strain, 

and died about a fortnight after Merton. Alfred, who 
of Alfred, had contributed not a little to the successes of the 

army, who had endeared himself to his men by the 
exhibition of true soldierly qualities, and had won their confidence 
by his wisdom and skill as a leader, was at once selected as king. 
Two sons survived Ethelred, but the law of strict hereditary suc- 
cession had not yet been established. These were days, moreover, 
when regal honors were neither to be lightly sought nor lightly 
conferred ; so the young children of Ethelred were set aside, and 
the young man Alfred, probably in his twenty-sixth year, became 
king, the "people's darling," the hope of the England to be. 

Alfred had little time for fetes or celebrations, and at once 
addressed himself to the serious problem of the hour: how to rid 

his eastern kingdom of the Danes and restore again his 

The Danes 

retire from smitten country. Within a month, he brought his 

Wessex. 5 

battle-weary people to face their foes again at Wilton, 
whither they had recently advanced from their old camp at Read- 
ing. The Danes won the day, but the hard fighting was beginning 
to tell upon their strength, for they had been forced to fight nine 
pitched battles in five months. They were glad, therefore, to take 
advantage of their last victory and retire from Wessex. 

64 THE DANISH WARS [alfred 

The next position of the Danish army was on the lower 
Thames, near London. Here, however, the country had already 
been stripped bare, and they were soon compelled to 
VtEaSern, see ' c a new cam P a ^ Torksey, on the Trent, whence they 
anamjrth- began operations upon Mercia, and, in a short time, 
iimbria, reduced all the eastern and central parts. Burgred, 
the last Mercian king of the old line, apparently, saw 
little chance of success in continuing the struggle, and took him- 
self off to Eome to die. As in Northumbria, Healfdene set up 
a puppet king over the parts of Mercia which he did not care to 
take for his people ; but the parts about Leicester, Nottingham, 
Derby, Stamford, and Lincoln he divided among his followers. 
These towns, the famous "Five Boroughs," soon became 
Bwowjhs ' vigorous centers of Danish life. We do not know the 
terms upon which the Danes settled, but it is not likely 
that they disturbed the tillers of the soil, who were now practically 
serfs over all England. It is more likely that they simply ejected 
the landowners and lived upon the labor of their tenants. 

The memory of the old life of plunder, however, was still too 
strong upon the Danes to allow them to settle down into quiet land- 
lords, and, leaving a sufficient force to hold what they 
ammut^the na ^ won ? they continued to lead out their armies both 
thTnorth* north and south, to plunder the country and exhaust 
the resources of the states which still survived. In 
the spring of 875, Healfdene led a horde up the west coast, to 
complete the pillage of North umbria. Carlisle was left in ruins, 
and so remained until restored by William Bufus more than two 
hundred years later. The Britons of Strath clyde and the Picts of 
Calloway bowed to the storm. Then Bernicia, which had been 
spared in 8G7, was also compelled to yield up its treasures. Lin- 
disfarne, which had recovered somewhat from the raid of 793, was 
again destroyed, and every monastery from sea to sea, it is said, 
shared the same fate. 

The north now lay in ashes. The libraries of Jarrow and 
York, associated with the great names of Bede and Alcuin, had gone 
up in flames. The "art treasures" and the "book treasures" so 
carefully gathered by Benedict Biscop had been either destroyed or 


scattered. The service of the church had been supplanted by 
the bloody feasts of Odin and Thor, and the successors of Wilfrid 

and Cuthbert either been slain at their altars or driven 
p ^" ,m ^ t out to wander in strange lands. Then, when there was 
%a!ies nothing left to plunder, the booty thirst of Healfdene 

and his pirates seemed to be satisfied, and they 
began in serious earnest to make themselves homes in the land 
which they had desolated. To know how numerous and widely 
extended these settlements were, then and later, the student has 
only to take a modern map and note the town names of eastern, 
middle, and northern England. Wherever he finds an English 
town with the ending by, he may know that he is on the track of 
Healfdene and other Danes, who, like him, came to rob and 
pillage, but, weary of plunder at last, settled down into peaceable 

While Healfdene was thus clearing the ground for the planting 
of Danish communities in the north, Guthrum, an East Anglian 

Dane, who had succeeded Ivar, "the Boneless," gath- 
fnw^ m ere( ^ a nee ^ an( ^ ^ n t ne spring of 876, took to the sea. 
wessex, Passing around Kent and sailing westward, he made a 

junction with a second fleet, coming probably from Ire- 
land, and brought the combined hordes to land at Wareham, in 
Dorset. Here, as at Reading, the Danes fortified themselves, and 
began to overrun the surrounding country, extending their depre- 
dations over the entire region. In the spring, they advanced to 
Exeter, which a band of their comrades had seized the year before. 
Alfred followed warily, crippled, no doubt, by the instability and 
irregularity of the fyrd, the "minute men" of early English his- 
tory; avoiding pitched battles, he could yet cut off foraging 
parties and prevent the Danes from getting supplies. Thus, at 
Exeter, as at Wareham, hunger, the vigorous ally of Alfred, soon 
compelled the Danes to move, and a part of the horde marched 
into Mercia and took up a third station at Gloucester. 

Medieval armies, by common consent, were accustomed to dis- 
band in the winter months and return to their homes. The 
Danes, however, by their custom of establishing permanent for- 
tified camps, were able to winter in the field and^ so had a great 

60 THE DANISH WARS [awmid 

advantage over the temporary levies of Alfred. The English, 
moreover were rendered inert by fear; they shrank from the 
sufferings and perils of a winter campaign in the face 
A/heiney. of such an enemy. Furthermore, men who had left 
their families for months to the care and pro- 
tection of old men and boys, could well plead that they were 
needed at home. Alfred, therefore, found it impossible to keep 
the field, and withdrew to the deep recesses of the forests of 
Somerset. Late in the winter, he established himself in a fort at 
Athelney, behind the marshes of the Parrot, where he was pro- 
tected against any sudden advance of the Danish cavalry, but 
could watch their movements and offer a rendezvous for his people. 
Athelney was Alfred's "Valley Forge"; nor is it difficult for the 
imagination to picture the patient waiting and the heroic suffer- 
ing of the little band who still clung to their king, as they watched 
and waited for the spring to open the ways of the forest and enable 
the thanes of Somerset to join their standard again. 1 

Soon after Easter, the fyrd of Somerset began to come 
and in, and Alfred was soon enabled to leave his hiding-place 

and take the field. On the eastern margin of Selwood, 
near Warminster, the fyrds of Wiltshire and Hampshire also joined 
him, and with this force he advanced to meet the Danes at Chip- 
penham, whither they had removed from Exeter in Jan- 
Edington, nary. At Edington, eight miles from their camp, he 
took up a strong position, and waited for them to attack 
him. The battle was long and bloody, but the Danes were beaten 
and compelled to retire. Then, for fourteen days, Alfred besieged 
them at Chippenham, and, finally, by the grim logic of 
famine, brought them to accept his offer of peace. 
They must leave Wessex and settle down as peaceful landowners 
east of the old line of Watling Street. This land was already 

1 The old tale of Alfred and the burned cakes, belongs to this winter 
at Athelney. Its authority, however, is somewhat doubtful; and yet it is 
not unlikely that the incident or something like it, really happened, in 
connection with some one of the many expeditions in which Alfred no 
doubt often went out in person to seek news of the enemy or find forage 
for his men. 




4»i«\«tt>»»£ , 


MANZ-Chio««o 6 


theirs. They had wasted it and occupied it; now let them stay 
there. They should not be disturbed, only, as a pledge of good 
faith, let Gutlirum, their king, acknowledge Alfred as overlord 
and submit to Christian baptism. The pledge of Guthrum was 
fulfilled to the letter. He and thirty of his nobles were baptized 
at Aller, near Athelney. Alfred himself acted as godfather to his 
new vassal, and gavo him the now Christian name of Athelstan. 
Godfather and neophyte then retired to AYedmore, where the 

terms of the truce were formally ratified in the famous 
nf'wedmwe, "fryth," known as "Alfred and Cuthrum's Peace." 1 

"This is the peace," it runs, "that King Alfred and 
King Guthrum, and the witan of all the nation of the Angles, and 
all the people that are in East Anglia, have all ordained, and with 
oaths confirmed, for themselves and for their descendants, as well 
born as for unborn, who reck of Cod's mercy or of ours." 

By the agreement of the two kings, the boundaries of their 
kingdoms were definitely fixed as follows, "up on the Thames, and 

then on the Lea, and along the Lea unto its source, 
of the then right to Bedford, then up on the Onse unto AYat- 

ling Street." Each people were to keep to their own 
side of the boundary. The Danes were not to seek service under 
Alfred; his people were not to seek service under Guthrum; but 
commercial dealings were to be allowed, and Englishmen and Danes 
were to be held "equally dear" on either side of the boundary, and 
to be protected by the local laws. Thus, all England east of 
Watling Street- was formally ceded to the Danes. AYessex, and 
AA'estern Mercia, however, had been saved. This was much. It 
was more to have established some basis upon which Englishmen 
and Danes might dwell together in peace. 

England, east of the line of AA^edmore and north to the borders 
of Bernicia, soon became known as the Danelagh; that is, the 

country where the law of the Danes prevailed, in dis- 

(" , "''"' '/ tinction from the country where English law prevailed. 

latuiundcr This region, however, was not one kingdom, but many. 
one Itiny. o ' ' e> ' j 

The Danes, like the Teutonic settlers of two centuries 

1 The so-called Treaty of Wedmore, as we have it, was probably made 
a year, possibly several years, later. Stubbs, Select Charters, pp. 63, 64. 

68 THE DANISH WARS [ Alfred 

earlier, gathered in separate communities, about centers of popu- 
lation, each under its own jarl or king; but linked together in 
loose confederacies. South of Watling Street, there was now one 
kingdom and one king. It is, moreover, significant, that, although 
Alfred continued through his reign to style himself simply "king 
of the West Saxons," in the Treaty of Wedmore his people are 
called "English" in distinction from the Danes. Possibly the 
application of the name to the West Saxons had been brought into 
general use by the Danes, who failed to distinguish between 
Angles and Saxons, and knew only the name of the people with 
whom they had first come in contact. 1 

Alfred could now undertake the great work of his reign, the 
restoration and reorganization of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom. 

Little of the old order was left; ealdormen and kings 
devastation ^ad Deen swept away ; peace officers had disappeared, 

and the old rude courts for the protection of private 
rights, abandoned. Sees had been broken up; churches and 
monasteries destroyed, and bishops and abbots slaughtered or 
driven into exile. Cities lay in ruins; whole regions were waste, 
their populations destroyed or scattered by famine and the 
sword. With the destruction of the church, the sources of moral 
and intellectual life had also dried up. The very fibers of society 
were loosened. Yet, in spite of the general wreck, there still sur- 
vived the elements of the older organization, elements into which 
the character of the people had already breathed its life. With 
rare wisdom, Alfred seized upon these elements, and made them 
the foundation of the new England. 

Western Mercia was committed to Ethelred, who ruled it as a 
dependent principality, under the title of ealdorman. Alfred gave 

his own immediate attention to Wessex and the other 
Alfred reor- kingdoms south of the Thames. Here, he sought to 
extends the^ we ]^ the shattered fragments of these ancient states into 

a single compact kingdom. As far back as the days of 
Ine, Wessex appears to have enjoyed a somewhat thoroughly 
organized shire system. But Wessex was very small then, and her 

'See Gregory's letter to Augustine for early use of name "English" 
(Angli) as a general term. Gee and Hardy, Documents, etc., p. 9. 


handful of shires occupied only a small portion of the territory of 
Teutonic Britain. The rest of the country was governed by 
petty kings, or semi-independent ealdormen, who ruled each in his 
own seven-by-nine kingdom, holding his court in the open gate and 
knowing no intermediate jurisdiction between himself and the 
local court of the hundred. But now the old kingdoms were gone, 
with king and ealdormen, their hundred courts and their gate 
courts ; yet the names and boundaries, and, most valuable of all, the 
habit and the traditions of local cooperation for local administration 
remained. Upon the lines of the old tribal kingdoms, therefore, 
Alfred organized and established the new shires; each a simple 
administrative district, under the jurisdiction of its own court, 
and presided over by its own steward, the scir-gerefa, whom we 
know by the modern name of sheriff. By the side of the sheriff 
sat also the ealdorman and the bishop. It is not possible to dis- 
tinguish clearly the respective duties of these officers in the 
shire, but the sheriff was "the constituting officer 1 ' of the court. 
It is not likely that ealdorman and bishop were always present, 
but the sheriff, as the representative of the king, must be ; without 
him, there could be no shire court. It was his duty, also, to look 
after the interests of his master in the care of the crown lands within 
his shire, and the collection of fines and dues. It was the ealdor- 
man's duty to command the military levies of the shire, — the fyrd. 
He was responsible for their condition; for the promptness with 
which they took the field. It was his, also, to lead them in bat- 
tle, to encourage them by his example, to hearten and cheer them 
by his fortitude under trial, by his courage in the face of peril. The 
sheriff was appointed by the king, but the ealdorman was elected 
by the witan, of which august body he was also a member, and to 
whose councils he contributed his wisdom. The bishop also had 
his interests in the shire ; his people were amenable to its court ; 
the innocent, the poor, and the friendless must be protected 
against injustice in the name of law; the various religious forms 
connected with the crude methods of trial must be superintended 
in the name of the church. 

The king himself might be present in the shire court; for this 
is to be born in mind, that the shire court was the lineal successor 

70 THE DANISH WARS [alfred 

of the old petty royal court. Hence, its character as a king's court 
was always maintained. The king and his witan were theoretically 
present in the sheriff, the ealdorman, and the bishop. 

Neither shire nor shire court was the invention of Alfred; 
both had existed in Wessex for fully a hundred years before his 

time. The name scir, which was used at first, prob- 
Aifrcdin a °ly> m some such general way as the kindred word 
Ihire^mtem 6 sec ^ on * n America, had been applied sometimes to 

the wards of a city, sometimes to the hundreds of a 
subkingdom. In Wessex, it had already come to indicate the 
greater divisions of the consolidated state. In Alfred's day, there- 
fore, neither the thing nor the name was new. What he did was 
to restore the ancient shires of Wessex, and reorganize alongside 
of them as coordinate shires, the ancient kingdoms of Kent, and 
Sussex, and Surrey, thus making them organic parts of one cen- 
tralized state; but, in so doing, he gave to the shire a significance 
which had not belonged to it before. The expedient, moreover, 
was a happy one; for, while on the one hand it preserved the 
habit of local self-government, so essential to the development of 
free institutions, on the other, it afforded an opportunity for the 
development of a strong central government, so essential to the 
attainment of great statehood. 

The association of neighboring villages into minor judicial dis- 
tricts, known later in England as hundreds, was, as we have seen, 

like the shires, not a new thing. These also Alfred 
the si/stem of reorganized and harmonized, and greatly strengthened 

and extended as the foundation of the shire system. 
To give weight and dignity to the decisions of the hundred court, 
the great landowners of the district who possessed five hides of 
land or more, the thanes, were required to be present and to 
assist the court in rendering just decisions. They themselves, 
however, were exempt from the jurisdiction of the local court, and 
held in their own halls a coordinate court for their people. In all 
cases, the king held the presiding judges responsible for the 
decisions of their respective courts, nor did he hesitate to inter- 
fere or punish the judge who was neglectful of his duty or gave 
other evidence of his unfitness. Even the ealdorman was not 


above the king's displeasure, and might he removed for connivance 
at crime or injustice. The poor, the remnant of the old free 
ceorls, the friendless peasantry upon whom the heavy hand of the 
great magnates was apt to rest with unsparing severity, were the 
special objects of the king's solicitude; "for the poor had no 
friend save the king." 

Side by side with a better civil organization, Alfred established 

also a better military organization. By old Teutonic law, the 

great body of freemen were held to military duty, and 

A1 f !'<;<} might be called into the field in the presence of common 

and the ° l 

military danger. But the long campaigning of the earlier years 
of Alfred's reign, and the need of keeping the nation 
constantly under arms, had been a severe strain upon the older 
system, and it had more than once failed in an hour of greatest 
peril, as in the winter of 877. Alfred sought to remedy this 
weakness of the fyrd, by introducing a system of reliefs. Only a 
third of the people were to be called into active service in the field 
at any one time; another third were to do garrison duty; while 
the remaining third tilled the fields and cared for the families of 
those who were facing the enemy. The period of service, more- 
over, was definitely fixed, and the men of each division knew just 
when they were to be relieved. 

With the same wise policy of adapting old institutions to the 
new needs of the nation, Alfred addressed himself to a reform of 
existing laws. From the codes of Ethelbert, Lie, and 
u!e?(iws' ld Offa, supplemented by provisions taken from the 
ancient Levitical Law, he compiled a new code for the 
common kingdom. The only originality which he claimed for 
himself was that of selection: "I gathered these laws together 
and commanded many of those to be written which our fore- 
fathers held, those which to mo seemed good; and many of those 
which to me seemed not good, I rejected." ' In these laws, how- 
ever, there is a marked advance in this: whereas the general prin- 
ciple of the commutation of crime for money is still recognized, 
we have now a distinct law against treason, for which the death 
penalty is assigned. "If any one plot against the king's life, of 

1 Preamble to Alfred's Laws. Stubbs, S. C, p. 62. 

72 THE DANISH WARS [alfrbd 

himself, or by harboring of exiles, or of his men, let him be liable 
in his life and in all that he has." The king, however, is not the 
only member of the community whose life is protected by the 
death penalty. "He who plots against his lord's life, let him be 
liable in his life to him, and in all that he has." In these laws 
we see the strength with which the importance of the kingly 
authority is taking hold of the popular mind; we also see the 
growing influence of the great landowning aristocracy. Com- 
pared with one of these great lords of the soil, the life of the 
landless freeman was of little importance. 

No statesman ever appreciated more than Alfred the value of 
education in elevating a people, or in creating a true national 

spirit. His own education had been neglected in his 
education* early years ; for what reason is not known. He had 

been left to gather what he could in a desultory way ; 
at twelve he had not yet learned his letters ; nor in his later years 
was he ever able to atone for the lack of early training, always to 
him a source of deep regret. Yet possibly this early neglect was 
not without its compensations. For during these years when 
Latin, the literary language of the ninth century, was to him a 
sealed tongue, his fresh young mind must have drnhk deep and 
long from the homely fountains of his own English, the language 
which was yet virtually without a literature, and learned to value 
the priceless traditions of a past which was rapidly fading. It is 
not likely that he knew much of Bede in those days, for Bede 
had written in Latin ; but he must have heard the gleemen sing 
their half -pagan songs in his father's hall ; he must have listened 
to tales of brave deeds of old, of "sword play," and "shield wall," 
and "arrow flight," until the generous heart of the lad had 
thrilled with patriotic emotion. Nor, in after years, when his turn 
came to take up the. burdens of a king, could he forget these 
lessons, or fail to appreciate the value of such traditions in in- 
spiring the English with pride in their past, or confidence in their 
future. Thus Alfred, first among English kings, grasped the 
importance of national history as an instrument of education, and 
sought to leave to the people, in a language which the simplest of 
them could understand, a record of their kings and of their own 


achievements. This record, compiled under Alfred's direction, 
partly from current traditions and partly from the Ecclesiastical 
History of Bede, was the beginning of the famous Chron- 
saxnn ic/e, which was destined to be continued for three hun- 

dred years, forming a sort of semi-official national 
diary of the greatest value in recovering the later history of 
Old English kings. For the benefit of his unlearned country- 
men also Alfred caused to be put in an English dress such works, 
standard in his day, as Bede's history and the general history of 
the world of Orosius. The king's interest in literature, however, 
was by no means confined to history. He caused translations to 
be made of standard philosophical and theological works as well, 
of which the most important were the Consolations of Pliilosophy 
of the unfortunate Boethius, and the Pastoral Care of Pope 
Gregory I. Ho also made a collection of the ancient epic songs of 
the English. But of these, with the exception of the epic of 

Beowulf, only a few fragments have survived. In Beo- 
Beowulf. J ■> J , . , 

loulf, however, we have a priceless treasure. It is not 
only the earliest of English poems, antedating the era of migra- 
tion; 1 it is also a striking picture of life and manners, far more 
than the dry annals of the Chronicle, revealing the temper of the 
ancient English folk. 2 

Tlie compilation of the Chronicle, the translation of standard 
works, and the collection of English war songs, formed only a 

part of Alfred's plans for furthering the education of 

The ninth . r to 

centum his people. Like Charles the Great, he ransacked his 

renaissance. . . 

dominions for men who were apt to teach. From 
Mercia, he drew out Plegmund, who in 890 became archbishop 
of Canterbury. From Wales, he brought the man who was after- 
ward to become his biographer, the learned Asser. Even foreign 
countries also were invited to contribute of their wealth to enrich 
his schools. Saxony gave him John the "Old Saxon" and St. 
Bertin gave him Grimbald. Under the inspiration of such men, 
there began a genuine renaissance. The long struggle with tho 

1 Its present form is probably tbe work of a Christian monk of the 
eighth century. 

2 See Green, H. E. P., I., pp. 17-20. 

74 THE DANISH WARS [alfred 

Danes had dealt severely with the English kingdoms; the old 
schools had been destroyed, their teachers and pupils scattered, and 
the people had lapsed into barbaric ignorance. When Alfred 
began his reign it was said that there was not a man in Wessex 
who could read understandingly. When Alfred closed his reign, 
English prose had been born, and the English mind had received 
an inspiration which it was not to lose, until it emerged into the 
full day of the modern era. 

The same order which Alfred introduced into the administra- 
tion of his kingdom, he introduced also into his own private life. 
The value of ^ e na< ^ n0 c ^ oc ^ to warn him of the flight of the hours; 
mltiwdicai ^ut, ^y burning a series of tapers, he contrived to divide 
ll f e - his day with some accuracy. When he noticed that the 

draughts caused his candles to burn unevenly at times, he pro- 
tected them with a lantern made with sides of horn. The well- 
ordered household, the value put upon education, the sobriety and 
patient industry of the king, and the quiet seriousness with which 
he took the duties of his high office, created an influence which 
affected all who came in contact witli him, and from the court ex- 
tended outward and downward to the people. 

While Alfred was thus laying broad foundations for the future 
greatness of his people, the Danes of Britain were quietly set- 
The Danes ^ling down to a peaceful life, learning much from the 
Alfred's later English who dwelt among them, and forgetting much 
reign. f their old hostility. Occasionally a new band from 

the continent harried Alfred's coasts. But Alfred, in reorganiz- 
ing the land fyrd, had not forgotten the ship fyrd. In the year 
882 his seamen sank thirteen Danish ships at the mouth of the 
Stour, one of the earliest recorded achievements of the English 
navy. It is to be noted, however, that the sea had become a 
strange element to the English ; the children had forgotten the 
ways of their fathers, and Alfred could man his ships only by 
enlisting foreigners. It is to be noted, also, that the long 
exemption of Britain from such attacks was due quite as much to 
the extreme feebleness of the Frankish Empire during this period 
and the richer booty promised by the monasteries and cities of the 
south, as to the prestige of Alfred. Upon the first manifestation 


of returning vigor in the Frankish defense, the Danes once more 
began to appear on the English coast. From 891 to 895, Alfred's 
hands were full. One horde under Bjorn Jaernsides descended on 
the southern coast of Kent, and creeping up into the Limen, estab- 
lished themselves at Appledore. After laying waste the surround- 
ing shires of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, they were at last beaten 
by Alfred's son Edward at Farnham in 893, and driven down the 
Thames where they found shelter among the swamps of Thorny 
Island, the present Westminster. Then Ethelred, Alfred's son- 
in-law, the ealdorman of Mercia, fell upon them from the Mercian 
side, and forced them to make terms and retire to Mersea on the 
coast of Essex. Alfred himself, in the meanwhile, was occupied 
with another horde under the famous Hasting, who had entered 
the Thames and taken up their station at Milton, whence they 
ravaged western Kent and threatened London. Alfred succeeded 
in driving them from Kent, only to see them settle again on the 
other side of the Thames at Benfleet still nearer London. Before 
he could come at them again he was recalled to the west to save 
Devonshire and Exeter from a horde of Northumbrian Danes. In 
the meanwhile, the Danes of East Anglia and Essex had been 
aroused by the rout of war which had entered their borders, and 
many of them nocked to the banners of Hasting, so that he was 
emboldened to dash by London and start "on a wild raid up the 
va)ley of the Thames." The whole west country, however, rose 
before him, and by the time ho reached the Severn, he found 

himself confronted by the ealdorman, Ethelred, with 
ButtinQton, the fyrds of the Mercians, the Sumorsaetas, and the 

Wilsaetas. Even the North Welsh sent their contingents 
to help against the common foe. At Buttington, Hasting was 
brought to bay, and the English prepared to starve him to terms, 
quite after the manner of Edington and Chippenham. But when 
his horses had been eaten, apparently not such an extreme hardship 
for the Danes, Hasting attempted to cut his way through the 
beleaguering ranks. A great battle was fought, and many of 
Alfred's thanes fell, but Hasting got away to Chester, where he 
wintered among the ruins of the old Uoman city. Hither Ethelred 
followed him and kept him closely beleaguered until the spring of 

76 THE DANISH WARS [alfbkd 

895, when Hasting again escaped, and finally, after an attempt 
upon North Wales, retired into Northumbria. Benfleet, in the 
meantime, had also been cleared of the Danes, whom Hasting had 
left behind, but Mersea still continued to be the Danish base on 
the East Saxon coast. Hither Hasting made his way from North- 
nmbria with the remnant of his army, and, joining his fleet again, 
brought his ships by way of the Thames up into the Lea, and estab- 
lished himself within twenty miles of London. He was, strictly, 
still upon Danish territory, but Alfred could not allow this new 
camp to remain just over his borders to menace the peace of Mercia. 

The Londoners began the siege in the summer and in 

harvest time Alfred arrived and took charge of the 
operations. He threw a dam across the river below the camp, 
and by cutting off the escape of the Danes to the sea forced the 
horde to disperse, but could not prevent individual bands from slip- 
ping away into Essex and East Anglia. One company succeeded 
in breaking into Mercia, and repeating the career of Hasting of 
the year before, reached the Welsh border, and wintered near 
Bridgenorth. The next summer they retired into Northumbria. 
In the summer of 896 there were "desultory landings" on the 
southern coast, but the danger was passed. The losses of the four 

years had been very severe. A great number of Alfred's 
Mfred Phof P e °pl e na( l fallen; among them two bishops, three eal- 

dormen, and many of the minor thanes. Vast areas of 
country had also been laid waste. But Alfred's system had suc- 
cessfully stood the strain, and Englishmen had learned the value 
of an efficient government, loyally sustained. 

Five years later, Alfred, the greatest of early English kings, 
laid down the burdens which he had carried so well. He had 

reigned twenty-nine years and six months. He was 

Death and ... * ; , . , 

character of preeminently the right man in the right place. He 
imparted his own energy and courage to the English 
people in the most critical period of the national history. But he 
did more than this. He founded the England which we know. 
By an unerring instinct, the traditions of a thousand years trace 
back to him the beginnings of almost all that is great and good in 
English life and character. He has been called "the model man of 


the English race." l He was "the noblest, as he was the most 
complete embodiment of all that is great, all that is lovable, in the 
English temper. He combined, as no other man has ever combined, 
its practical energy, its patient and enduring force, its profound 
sense of duty, the reserve and self-control, that steadies in it a 
wide outlook and a restless daring, its temperance and fairness, its 
frank geniality, its sensitiveness to affection, its poetic tenderness, 
its deep and passionate religion." 3 Like all great men, Alfred 
was many-sided. Among the scholars who gathered about him, 
he was one of the first, leading them in the arduous work of trans- 
lation. "The singers of the court found in him a brother singer." 
He could plan buildings with his craftsmen; he could superintend 
the workmen; he could instruct oven his "falconers and dogkeep- 
ers." Deeply religious, frail in health, and seldom free from pain, 
he was no ascetic, but a thoroughgoing man of affairs, laborious, 
methodical, and careful of details. He was a leader whom men 
trusted with implicit confidence, because they felt that he was 
directed and controlled by sterling good sense, and was able to 
"bring things to pass"; he is "one of the most pleasing, and per- 
haps the most perfect, character in history"; 3 the king who, "as 
no other man on record, has so thoroughly united all the virtues, 
both of the ruler and of the private man." 4 

1 Goldwin Smith, The United Kingdom, I, p. 12. 

2 Green, H. E. P., I, 75. 

3 Ramsay, I, 247. 

* Freeman, N. C, I, 51. 





Edward, distinguished by later historians as "the Elder," suc- 
ceeded to the crown by Alfred's death. His coronation, however, 

did not take place until the following spring. The 
Edward delay, it is thought, was due to an attempt of his cousin 

Ethel wold, the son of Ethelred, the brother of Alfred, 
to regain his father's crown. But the people could not so soon 
forget the services of Alfred, and nobly responded to the call of 
his son to defend the crown against his rival. Edward, moreover, 
had already been elected by the witan during his father's lifetime, 
and this choice more than offset in the public mind any claim 
which Ethelwold might advance, based upon the right of primogeni- 
ture. Before the determined front of the nation, Ethelwold's 
courage forsook him, and he fled to Northumbria, to return after 
two years at the head of a Danish army. But a shrewd counter 
raid of the king into the enemy's country compelled the Danes to 
turn home again, and with the death of Ethelwold which shortly 
followed, peace was once more restored, and all resistance to the 
succession of Edward ceased. 

Edward could now feel himself free to continue the great work 
which his father had begun. Recent events had taught him the 

insecurity of peace, as long as the Danes retained their 
of Wdward independence. The Danelagh must be conquered and 

for ivctt* 

made a part of the West Saxon kingdom. But Edward 
had been trained in too good a school to rush blindly into a strug- 
gle for which he had not first prepared himself and his people. To 
this end in the year 907, by the restoration of Chester which had 



remained in ruins since the time of Ethelfrid the Devastator, he 
began a series of fortifications which extended along his whole bor- 
der and took ten years to complete. For the most part these for- 
tifications consisted of a combination of the earthen rampart and 
mound of the Danes and the old English burg or surrounding 
fence of palisades, faced by the inevitable ditch. Sometimes, 
however, an ancient Roman camp was restored. If stone walls 
were used in fortifying cities, it was only in rare cases, for the era 
of stone fortresses had not yet come. The Danes had taught the 
English the value of such works: for it was neither superior 
generalship nor superior courage which had made the Danes 
formerly so difficult to dislodge when once they had established 
themselves, but their fortified camps. On the other hand, the 
English heretofore had had no fortified towns, nor known aught 
of the science of fortification. When once beaten in the field, the 
whole country lay at the mercy of the enemy. 

In 912 Ethelred, the ealdurman of Mercia, died. It was 

Alfred's wish apparently that Mercia should be the portion of his 

daughter, Ethelfleda, "the Lady of the Mercians." 

Ethelfleda, ,,,,,, , . , ,, 

The Lady of Edward, therefore, refused to appoint another ealdor- 
the Mercians. . ' , . . .. . . .. 

man, and left the administration ot Mercia in the hands 

of his widowed sister; but he detached all the lower Thames basin, 
including Oxford and London, and probably on account of its 
importance, added it to Wessex. Ethelfleda, however, possessed 
all the genius of her house for war and administration, and upper 
Mercia suffered nothing in her hands. 

The Danes were not unmindful of the intent of Edward's fort- 
building, and from the restoration of Chester, each new essay on 

the part of the English was followed by a raid of Danes 
Invasion <>f * nto ^ n g^ sn territory. Edward, however, steadily 
tiw Danelagh, p lls l ie( } forward the fortification of the border, and in 

914 the work was far enough along for him to under- 
take the formal invasion of Essex. The method of advance which 
Edward adopted at this time was generally followed in the subse- 
quent wars, and goes far to explain the unvarying success of 
his operations, and the steadiness with Avhich the English line was 
pushed out, until in. ten years it reached the Humber. He first 


RECONQUEST OF DANELAGH [ei>ward thb Eldkr 

led a large force into the enemy's country and established a power- 
ful camp ; then under cover of the camp he built a permanent for- 
tress and garrisoned it with his own people. Thus while he lay 
encamped at Maldon in 914, he erected a fort at Witham, which 
made him master of all southern Essex, and thrust the Danes 

back upon the 

Yet the 
task was by 
no means as 
simple as the 
ease with 
which these 
first successes 
were won 
might seem 
to imply. The 
Danes were 
weak, because 
they had nev- 
er been organ- 
ized into a 
compact king- 
dom, but it 
was possible 
for them, at 
any time, to 
unite their 
forces and 
offer a serious 
resistance. Moreover, there was always a chance of interference 
on the part of the powerful bands of their kinsmen who were 
still roaming at large upon the continent. This happened soon 
after the erection of Witham, when some fragments of the 
hordes which had recently settled with Rolf on the lower Seine, 
the later Normandy, descended upon the Bristol coast. But 
Edward was not to be deterred from his greater work, and, when 


he had driven the newcomors off to Ireland, returned again to his 
systematic encroachment on the Danelagh, cautiously seizing and 
fortifying station after station, and formally annexing the sur- 
rounding country to Mercia or Wessex. In the year 915 he seized 
advanced stations on the Ouse. The next year ho fortified Bed- 
ford and in 917 he took permanent possession of Maldon. The 
year 918 saw a still more marked advance in middle England. 
The Danes of Northampton, Leicester, and Huntingdon combined 
to sweep the English back from the line of Watling Street. They 
built a counter work at Tempsford, and attacked Edward's 
recently erected forts at Towcester and Bedford. Edward replied 
by a vigorous advance along his whole line. He himself took 
Tempsford; while the Lady of the Mercians attacked Derby 
and carried it by storm. Other operations also were undertaken 
by the king in Essex, in which Colchester was taken, Huntingdon 
occupied, and a fort erected at Passenham. When the year 918 
ended, Cambridge had submitted, and the English line had been 
pushed to the "Welland. 

The next year Ethelfleda took possession of Leicester and the 
great part of the neighboring country submitted without a strug- 
gle. This was her last success. She died at Tarn worth 
opMereia * n midsummer after a brilliant reign of eight years. 
ami Wessex, Ethelfleda stands alone among the women of the old 
English era. Many women have become great rulers, but 
few have combined with rare administrative ability, equal talent 
in marshalling armies and leading men in battle. Ethelfleda left a 
daughter, but inasmuch as she was a mere child, Edward assumed 
the administration of Mercian affairs himself. Thus the separate 
government of Mercia came to an end. 

Edward could now see his goal. The submission of the Five 

Boroughs and the Fen country was followed by the submission of 

East Anglia. The year after Ethelfleda's death the 

Completion _ J 

of Edward's English outposts were pushed across the Mersey and 
established at Manchester, and the year following, 921, 
Edward fortified Bakewell in the Peakland. The whole south 
Humber country was now in his hands, and English colonists were 
beginning to pour into the conquered territories. Then followed 

82 RECONQUEST OF DANELAGH [ Ed wakd the Elder 

a noteworthy event, which shows how the fame of Edward had gone 
before, him and overawed the whole north ; for here at Bakewell 
came Welsh and Scots, Danes and English, to accept Edward's 
authority and take him to "father and lord." 1 Thus ended the 
work of conquest for that generation. The northern states, 
crippled by dissension and awed by the irresistible advance of the 
English lines, had no desire to press the question of supremacy 
farther. Edward had secured the Humber as the northern border 
of his actual kingdom; he had also secured the recognition of his 
overlordship in the regions north of the Humber. He rested con- 
tent; his work was done. 

Edward survived his triumph at Bakewell barely four years. 

His reign is marked by the solidity of its successes, due as much to 

the sterling worth of the man as to his farsighted wis- 

Death of ° . . ° 

Edward, dom. He and his noble sister are in themselves the 


best testimonies of the greatness and goodness of 
Alfred. Only a good home, where all that is lovable and true and 
strong in child character is strengthened and encouraged, could 
produce such children. For Alfred, with true insight, had realized 
how much the strength or weakness of his children might mean 
to his people, and had taken as much pains in their education and 
training as in any of the many public institutions which he 
founded. In some respects possibly, Edward even surpassed 
Alfred. He is undoubtedly the greatest military leader of the old 
English period ; his unvarying success is as remarkable as the sub- 
stantial nature of his conquests. He comprehended fully the spirit 
of his father's great work of reorganization, and made his con- 
quests the means of strengthening and extending it, forming of the 
England which he had won a compact national state. 

Edward had all his father's love of justice, and realized fully 
the importance of "just dooms" to a contented and happy people. 

He constrained his witan to support him in the main- 
Sdtoafxt tenance of peace, and made them responsible for the 

denial or delay of justice. Each gerefa was required to 

1 For the question of the submission of Constantino, King of Scots, in 
921, see Freeman, N. C, I, 57, 118, 565; and also Wyckoff, Feudal Relations 
of the Crowns of England and Scotland, pp. 1-31. 

925] DACRE 83 

hold his court "always once in four weeks," plainly the hundred 
court, and "every suit was to have an end, and a term in which it 
must be brought forward. " The relations of English and Danes 
were carefully regulated by a graded wergeld. A system was also 
established by which legal bargains could be made only within a 
walled town and in the presence of the reeve. The law was 
afterward softened somewhat by Athelstan, but the principle 
which required public recognition of commercial transactions 
must have been very useful among a semi-barbarous people, 
and often saved them from the occasion of litigation. In Edward's 
laws, also, we have the first notice of the ordeal, not a new 
method of trial by any means, but from this time conspicuous 
among the strange old laws of the Anglo-Saxons, curious 
mingling of Christianity and barbarism. All in all, Eng- 
lish society had not advanced far, when peace breaking and 
perjury, robbery and murder, were still incidents of daily life 
against which king and witan waged a long and weary, but not 
hopeless warfare. 

When Edward died, his eldest son, Athelstan, was about thirty 
years of age. In his infancy Alfred had acknowledged him as his 

successor, and had "invested him with the insignia of a 
wT-fJo" 11 ' warrior and an etheling; namely, a purple mantle, a 

jeweled belt, and the national Saxon sword in a golden 
scabbard." For the moment it seemed that Athelstan's succes- 
sion also would be disputed in the interests of an heir of Ethelred, 
and that Mercia, which had declared for Athelstan, would again be 
separated from Wessex. But the proposal of the West Saxon witan 
to set up a separate king came to nothing, and Athelstan the third 
in line of the great West Saxon kings, took up the work of father 
and grandfather. 

The first year of the reign was marked by an important meeting 
of northern lords at Dacre, where the Welsh kings, Ilowel Dha 

of Dyfed and Owen of Gwent, Constantino king of 
atbacre in< ' Scots, and Eldred of Bamborough, came to acknowledge 

the lordship of the new king. That Athelstan took the 
homage seriously, as a recognition of his supremacy over the north, 
is shown by the style which he now assumes. He is no longer like 


Alfred, "King of the West Saxons," or like his father, "King 

of the Anglo-Saxons"; he is "Monarch of all Britain." 

The homage of Dacre, however, does not seem to have proved a 

very secure basis for a lasting peace. The attempt of Athelstan to 

seize York, and possibly Bernicia, and incorporate them 

Brunan- in his southern kingdom, led to complications with the 
burn, 937. . . , . * , 

king of Scots, and the formation of a great northern 

coalition. A raid of Athelstan upon the east coast of Scotland in 

934 led to a counter raid into England in 937. With a vast 

horde of Scots, Picts, Welsh, and Danes, Constantine entered the 

Humber, and, leaving his ships, marched into Lincolnshire. 

Athelstan and his brother Edmund met him on the field of 

Brunanburh. All day long the battle raged. All day long the 

English continued to hurl themselves upon the earthworks and 

palisades behind which the northerns had taken their stand. 

Here gat King Aethelstan, 
And eke his brother 
Eadmund Aetheling 
Life-long glory 
At sword's edge, 
Round Brunanburh ; 
Board-wall they cleft 
War-lindens hewed, 
Sithen sun up 
At morning-tide, 
God's noble candle, 
Glid o'er the lands, 
Till the bright being 
Sank to his settle. 1 

Such terrible war-work cost the English dear; bnt the north- 
ern horde was beaten, and Constantine with the wreck of his 
army was glad to retire to his ships leaving behind him upon the 
earthworks of Brunanburh five "young kings," among them his 
own son. 

1 For the site of Brunanburh see Ramsay, I, p. 285. For the famous 
war song, see Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, with translation by Thorpe in "Rolls 
Series." a. d. 937. 


From Brunanburh Athelstan returned home to rule in 
peace, the sole king of the English from the Channel to the Tyne, 

and the undisputed overlord of Britain. The degree of 
Athelstan's authority which he exercised over Scot and Cumbrian 

will probably always remain a question of dispute among 
scholars ; the Welsh recognized his overlordship to the extent of a 
substantial tribute; their kings also appeared among the witan as 
regular attendants at the English court. 

The reputation of Athelstan soon passed beyond the borders of 
his island kingdom. Harold of Norway sent his son Hakon to be 

educated at his court. Henry the Fowler sought 
anresof Athelstan's sister, the gentle Edith, as a wife for his 

son Otto, then a prince of eighteen, afterward to 
become emperor and second founder of the Holy Eoman Empire. 
Still another sister was married to Hugh the Great, Count of 
Paris and Duke of France, whose son was the famous Hugh 
Capet, 1 founder of the modern French monarchy. A third sister, 
Edgiva, had been married in Edward's lifetime to Charles the 
Simple, the only surviving representative of the old Carlovingian 
dynasty. Her son was the unfortunate Louis D'Outre-Mer, who 
spent fourteen years of enforced exile at the English court, and 
succeeded at last to his father's throne only by the influence of 
his powerful uncles. 

Athelstan's death came suddenly, just at the moment when he 
was beginning to reap the full results of the wisdom of father and 

grandfather. He had reigned for fifteen years, and both 
Athelstan, on the field and in the council chamber had given 

940. . 

Results of Ms ample proof of the possession of all the abilities of his 
house. Compared with the glories of Brunanburh or 
the exaltation of Dacre, the utmost achievements of Alfred or 
Edward appear almost trifling. And yet, these brilliant triumphs 
of Athelstan bore no such solid results as the faithful organizing 
of Alfred, or the patient building of Edward, and much of his 
work had to be done over again. 

1 Hugh Capet was the son of a second wife, Hedwig, a sister of Otto, 
the Great. 


Upon the death of Athelstan, his brother Edmund passed at 
once to the throne. Edmund was a mere lad of eighteen. He had 
fought by his royal brother's side at Brunanburh ; but 
fjo™^' ne na< ^ na< ^ no ex P er i ence in administration, and the 
northern earls 1 looked upon his election as an experi- 
ment. They withheld their allegiance, and invited the Danish 
king, Olaf of Dublin, to come over and assume the royal authority 
at York. The Mercian Danes also were restless and ready to join 
with the Northumbrians. Edmund promptly took the field. Olaf 
marched into the south Humber country and advanced as far as 
Northampton. Here his advance was checked, and he was com- 
pelled to fall back, first upon Tamworth, and then toward Chester. 
Edmund followed hard upon the track of Olaf, and a pitched bat- 
tle appeared inevitable, when the two Archbishops, Odo of Canter- 
bury and Wulfstan of York, interfered and a peace was patched 
up, which, strange to say, virtually ceded not only what Athelstan 
had won, but Edward's conquests as well. The English hold 
upon the old Danelagh, however, was too strong to be renounced 
in a day, and, shortly after the disgraceful peace of Chester, 
Edmund appears once more in full possession of the Five Bor- 
oughs; and by 945 Olaf had been driven out of the northern 
counties as well, and all Northumbria was again under Edmund's 
authority. The same year also saw Edmund in Cumberland, 
harrying the countryside, and compelling its king, Donald, to 
renew the homage which he had given to Athelstan. 2 

The next year the young king, whose reign had opened so 
auspiciously, came to an untimely end in a way that well illus- 
trates the wild turbulence of the time. The king was keeping the 
Feast of St. Augustine at Pucklechurch in Gloucestershire, when 
a notorious freebooter, Leofa, who had been recently banished by 

1 Earl is an English spelling of the Danish jarl, e before a in Anglo- 
Saxon having the sound of the Danish /, After the Danish wars Earl is 
generally substituted for ealdorman. 

2 "The allegation of a cession of Cumbria or Strathclyde to Scotland 
must be dismissed as an idle boast of our chroniclers, but one quite in 
accordance with the turgid pretensions of the royal charters of the 
period."— Ramsay, I, p. 297. 

945-955] EDRED 87 

the king's order, entered the hall and insisted upon taking his 
seat at the king's board. The king, indignant at the insult, 
ordered his steward to expel the man. The ruffian resisted, and 
the king himself joined in the struggle. A knife flashed, and 
Edmund sank to the floor. The thanes dispatched the outlaw; 
but the king was dead. 

Edmund's eldest son, Edwy, Avas still a child; and the witan, 

as at the death of Ethelred, turned again from the direct line to 

elect a younger brother of the late king, in this case 

Eared, Edred. Edred was four years older than Edmund when 

946-955. J 

Edmund assumed the crown, but since childhood 
Edred had been a confirmed invalid. He was surrounded, how- 
ever, by the veteran counselors of his brothers and his father, and 
during his reign of nine years the administration revealed no fall- 
ing off in energy or efficiency. There was the usual hesitation of 
the northern people in accepting the new king, but the prompt 
action of the Welsh and the English, and the ready energy of the 
king's ministers, not only forestalled the growth of any widely- 
extended revolt, but enabled Edred to add Northumbria per- 
manently to England. The Northumbrians themselves, more- 
over, were weary of Danish rule, and apparently conspired 
with the English to expel the last representatives of the race of 
Ilealfdene and Ivar the Boneless. Edred, however, did not 
organize the newly acquired territory as a part of the English king- 
dom of the south, but united Deira and Bernicia into one vast 
ealdormanry, or earldom, which he bestowed upon Osulf, the "High 
Reeve of Bamborough," who had recently been of great service in 
expelling the Danish kings. 

Edred did not long survive the establishment of an English 
ealdorman ovor Northumbria. His name hardly belongs to the list 

of great kings of the House of Alfred; yet he was 

Character b . ? . J 

ofEdred'H not lacking in spirit, neither was he a man to be trilled 
Hi* death, with. The arrest and imprisonment of the treacherous 
"VVulfstan, Archbishop of York, had quite the ring of 
the old metal. The reign, moreover, on the whole was suc- 
cessful, nor did the prestige of the royal house suffer. Yet the poor 
young king, weighted with a sickly body, with scarcely blood 


enough in his veins to keep them open, must have had a weary 
struggle; after nine years he gave up the contest, and was laid 
by the side of his brother Edmund at Glastonbury. 

The recovery of the Danelagh was now completed. The ques- 
tion of supremacy was permanently settled, not only between Danes 
Teut/mic an( ^ English, but also between North Britain and South 
becomes Britain. Henceforth, southern Britain was to direct 
England. ^he "destinies of the island," give it its royal family, 
and rule it from its southern capital. But more important still, 
Teutonic Britain had become England ; in the furnace fire of for- 
eign war, local differences and tribal antagonisms had disappeared, 
and the once rival tribes had been fused into one people. The 
tribal king of the West Saxons had become the national king of the 

In the presence of such changes it was not possible for the old 
simple political and social constitution to remain as it had been in 
the past. The erasure of ancient tribal lines and the 
E ha nsh in concentration of all royal authority in the family of 
oVaanizatimi ^ essex > vastly increasing the personal authority and 
prestige of the king, were sufficient to change the pro- 
portions of the old constitution. But other changes fully as impor- 
tant, and even more radical, had extended through the entire social 
structure. The old free ceorls had sunk into a condition of semi- 
servitude. The laws of the time, designed no doubt to protect 
society against the vagrant, compelled every man to put himself 
under the protection of some lord, who thus became a sort of per- 
petual bail, responsible for the conduct of his man, and in case of 
crime bound to produce him in court or make good the loss which 
his ill-doing had caused the community. A man of good character 
would find little difficulty in securing a lord, but the man who had 
once lost his reputation was in a sad plight, for the lordless man 
had no standing before the law. The principle was feudal, and 
indicates, all too plainly, that English society was changing rapidly 
from a community of independent freemen to an oligarchy of rich 
landowners, where wealth was the only badge of independence. It 
indicates, moreover, that the poor freeman could no longer be trusted ; 
the loss of personal independence, as always, had been attended 


by a corresponding loss of self-respect and sense of responsibility. 
Freemen had become servile in nature, and, therefore, servile in 

With the decline of the free poor, there is also a marked advance 
in the severity of the laws in dealing with petty offenders, who 

naturally came from this class, or the scarcely lower 
r° l uiati(ms c l ass wno represented the old villainage. No thief of 

twelve years of age or over who stole to the amount of 
twelve pence was to be spared. He was to be slain, if found guilty, 
and all that he had was to be taken. The manifest thief was to 
be pursued by hue and cry, and the first man who felled him to the 
earth was to receive a fee of twelve pence. The population 

also wore invited to enroll themselves into gilds, each 

under its own head or ealder. Ten gilds, again, were 
to be associated together into a larger association known as the 
hundred} The gild was to serve as a sort of home protection 
association, designed to insure its members against loss by theft. 
Their duty was to lead the hue and cry against the thief, and see 
that the stolen property or its value was restored to the owner. 
The value of the stolen property was first to be taken from the 
goods of the thief; what was left was then divided into two parts, 
one of which was given to the wife of the thief, if she had had no part 
in the crime; the second part was divided equally between the king 
and the gild brethren. The gild, in dealing with the thief, was 
not required to appeal to legal authority, but might proceed at once 
to extreme measures. In other words "lynch law" was legalized, 
and its violence justified The sheriff was to be called upon only 
when the offender was too strong for the gilds to deal with, or 
when he sought refuge in another shire. Then the pursuit of the 
criminal was handed over to the neighboring sheriff, who was 
bound either to produce the thief or hunt him out of his shire. 

This particular scheme originated first among the bishops and 
reeves of London, but it seems to have been added as a supplement 
to the public acts of Athelstan's reign, and was to be applied to 
the whole kingdom. The king urges its adoption upon his bishops, 

Not to be confused with the territorial institution of that name. 


ealdormen, and sheriffs, that the people may be relieved of the 

annoyance of thieving. 

In the laws of Athelstan, the shire court and the whole system 

of procedure emerges with more and more distinctness from the 

,, , t „ ,. obscurity of the earlier period. General attendance 

Method of • , . 

trial. upon the shire court was enforced hv fines. The sheriff 

was also more definitely recognized as the king's repre- 
sentative officer. An accused man, if not taken in the act, was 
allowed to clear himself by the oath of his lord or his friends. Fail- 
ing of this, he was put to his trial, which was simply an appeal to God 
to work a miracle in his behalf and save him from punishment, if he 
were innocent ; another instance which shows how overwhelmingly 
the laws favored the property holder. The accuser might select 
the kind of test to be applied, but the law prescribed in each case 
whether the ordeal should be single or double or triple. "In the 
case of the ordeal by hot iron, a fire was kindled in the church, and 
a bar of iron weighing one, two, or three pounds 1 placed upon it in 
the presence of an equal number of witnesses from each side. The 
iron was kept upon the fire while a certain service was performed. 
At the end of 'the last collect,' the iron was placed upon trestles, 
the man's hand was sprinkled with holy water, and then, at a sig- 
nal from the priest, he took up the iron and carried it a measured 
distance of nine of his own feet ; then, dropping it, he rushed to 
the altar, where his hand was bound up with a sealed cloth, to be 
removed at the end of three days, when his guilt or innocence 
would be declared, according to the state of his hand. In the 
ordeal by hot water, the accused had to take up a stone immersed 
in boiling water to the depth of his wrist or elbow, as the case 
might be. In the ordeal by cold water, he was let down into a 
pool of water by a rope an ell and a half long. If he sank, he was 
innocent. If he floated, he was guilty. " 8 

It may be wondered how any one could escape at such a trial, 
save by the connivance or trickery of those who officiated. But 
by comparing with the later laws of . the Norman and Angevin 
period, it appears that the ordeal was more of the nature of a penalty 

1 As the ordeal was to be single, double, or triple. 
3 Ramsay, I, p. 293. 


than a trial, and was imposed only in the case of a notorious per- 
son, who could not get the requisite number of qualified guar- 
antors to swear to his good character. Moreover, if the accused 
succeeded in passing the test, though his life was spared, he was 
compelled to leave the country. 

With the change in the standing of freemen, the government 
correspondingly lost its old popular character. The ancient folk- 
moot never got beyond the shire court. In the consoli- 

Lnss of pnpu- , _ , . , , .. • t ii ,1 

lar character dated kingdom the witenagemot exercised all the 
' functions of the popular assembly. By its counsel and 
consent charters were granted, laws were formulated, kings, ealdor- 
men, and bishops were chosen; by it high offenders were tried. It 
represented not the people, but the great landholding aristocracy, 
centered in the king and the royal family. To this fact was 
undoubtedly due the growing severity of the laws which fell most 
heavily upon the lower classes. At times the landholders appear 
calling for laws so severe that the king refuses to grant them; as 
when the witan proposed to Athelstan that a free woman who 
turned thief be drowned, or that a male slave be stoned to death 
and a female slave be burnt alive. 

Another change which belongs to this era is significant of the 

drift of the national institutions. We have seen the old ealdormen 

acting as the simple chiefs of the fyrd in the shire, 

the great something like the modern lords lieutenant of the 

earldoms. . . » -n i i -n t i 

counties; but by the time of Edmund and Edred the 
ealdormen begin to appear as provincial governors, almost as sub- 
kiugs, each in his own group of shires. Under Edred, whose 
feeble health possibly made the extension of such a system a neces- 
sity, in order to relieve him of the burdens of directly administer- 
ing the enlarged kingdom, there are seven such provincial 
governors or viceroys south of the llumber, to whom the reorgani- 
zation of Northumbria added still an eighth. This important 
office, to which the Danish term earl 1 was soon to be commonly 
applied, was not yet hereditary, but its semi-regal nature was 
recognized in that it was generally reserved for members of the 
royal family, the ethelings, and could be conferred only by the 
1 See note on p. 86. 


consent of the witan. The ealdorman, or earl, supported his own 
court, was protected by a wergeld equal to that of the bishop, and 
surrounded himself with his own thanes. Under a strong king, 
these powerful viceroys might be of real service in simplifying the 
task of governing so large a territory. But under weak kings and 
minors, such as now began to succeed to the throne of Alfred, the 
institution was allowed to fall into the hands of ambitious and 
unscrupulous men, and by undermining the royal authority 
became a source of immeasurable mischief. 




As the last years of the ninth century are associated with the 
great name of Alfred, the last years of the tenth century are asso- 
ciated with the great name of Dunstan. This remark- 
Earfy career & \y\ e man was no t a king, bat an ecclesiastic and a monk, 
the first of a long line of churchly statesmen, of whom 
are Lanfranc, Anselm, Becket, Langton, and Wolsey, who have 
directed English history, and at times exerted a greater influence 
upon the life of the nation than its kings. 

Dunstan was born a short time before the death of Edward the 
Elder. 1 His family, of good old West Saxon stock, lived in Glaston- 
bury and had. its representatives high in influence in the church. 
His education began in the monastery school of his native town. 
The lad was precocious, deeply sensitive, and somewhat stormy 
in disposition. He had, moreover, a most unpleasant way of 
seeing visions and bringing forth for the benefit of his godless com- 
panions, messages fresh hot from the other world. He was not pop- 
ular. What dreamer has been from Joseph down? So Dunstan 
also was vigorously hated for his pains, and finally driven from 
Glastonbury by open violence. 

Elfege, the bishop of Winchester, was a kinsman of Dunstan, 
and to him the young scholar, smarting under the indignities 
which had been heaped upon him by his fellow pupils at 
Dumkm°^ Glastonbury, fled for refuge and consolation. At this 
time a new religious awakening, which had begun in the 
old monastery of Cluny, was arousing the Benedictine societies of 
the continent, and though England had not yet responded to the 
movement, here and there were pious souls who were earnestly 

1 The year 924, commonly given, is evidently an error. 


94 .. DAYS OF DUNSTAN [edmdnd 

longing for a better day. Of this number was Elfege, who 
found in the ascetic nature of his young kinsman a fruitful soil for 
the germination of his own peculiar ideas. Dunstan, however, did 
not yield himself to the monastic life without a struggle. A vision 
of another kind had filled his heart of late, which his monastic 
guides taught him was of the devil. But at last the battle was 
won. The fresh young girlish face, for such was the vision, was 
banished, and the student assumed the vows which committed him 
to a life of celibacy. Upon his return to his old home, his narrow 
cell and his rather ostentatious asceticism soon won for him a 
reputation for great sanctity. Strange stories adorned with the 
ready embellishments of the credulous, were eagerly received and 
repeated far and wide. Crowds came to gaze at the young monk, 
who was said to have miraculous trances in his cell and see portents 
in which the death of kings was foreshadowed. He was also said to 
hold personal altercations with the evil one. Had not the saint once 
seized the hooked nose with a pair of hot tongs and held it fast, until 
the whole neighborhood had been aroused by the Satanic bellowing? 
Before such irrefragable evidence Dunstan's reputation for saintli- 
ness grew fast, until even the scoffers were convinced. But a fear- 
less saint in those days of general laxness and indifference to the 
laws of the church, was not a comfortable neighbor; and it was 
not long before the plain speech of Dunstan had made him many 
bitter enemies. Among these enemies was King Edmund himself; 
for Glastonbury had now for a long time been a royal residence 
city, and here the king often resorted with his court. At last 
Edmund drove the faithful monk away. But the young king by 
no means rested easy after he had thus silenced his John the Bap- 
tist; and while his conscience still rankled with its 


wound, a moment of great personal danger converted 
him into a thoroughgoing advocate of Dunstan's views. He sent 
after the exile, and with his own hands, it is said, placed him in 
the abbot's chair of the old monastery of Glastonbury. 

Glastonbury was at that time a fair representative of the 
few English monasteries that had survived the ninth century. 
Its buildings were in ruins; its livings were in the hands of 
mere clerks or parish priests, married men apparently for the 


most part, distinguished as "seculars" from the "regular clergy"; 
that is, from those who lived according to the stricter rule of 

Benedict. Dunstan, as abbot, was free to introduce 
Reforms at reforms to his heart's content; but he had evidently 
learned much from his early misfortunes and did not 
attempt to apply the old Benedictine rule at once. He began his 
reforms rather upon the material side first; the recovery of lost 
lands, and the repair of buildings. No one could object to this. 
Then he gathered around him a company of young men, whom he 
carefully trained in the well-nigh forgotten rules of the monastic 
life. Thus he laid a broad foundation for the future. 

In the meanwhile Edred had been advanced to the throne 
made vacant by the dagger thrust of Leofa. He was not only in 

full sympathy with the aims of Dunstan, finding posi- 
mr'ed anand tions for his pupils, as Ethelwold who was appointed 

to the Abbey of Abingdon; but he also supported Odo, 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a far more radical movement, and 
encouraged the sending of English priests to the continent, where 
they came directly under the influence of such great centers of the 
new monastic reform as Fleury, and whence they returned to 
spread the sacred contagion at home. Dunstan, however, was no 
narrow recluse; he knew men, especially the unsanctified and 
worldly sort who surrounded the court of the king; and Edred 
soon found in him a most competent assistant in the administra- 
tion of his kingdom. He made him virtually his treasurer. The 
abbey became a royal depository. Here were placed the royal 
hoard and the charters or "title deeds" to the estates which the 
king held by book-right. 

At this time Dunstan appears without any of the stern 
angularities of the ascetic. If in his earlier days he had made 

some parade of the hair shirt and leathern girdle and 
character of narrow cell, he is now a man of "engaging manners and 

refined tastes." Instead of shunning the society of the 
ladies of the court, he has learned the art of making himself both 
agreeable and useful. He can draw patterns of rare beauty for 
their needle work. He is a performer on the harp of such won- 
drous skill, that the ravishing tones which thrill from his fingers 

96 DAYS OF DUNSTAN [edbkd 

seem to come from the touch of holy inspiration. He is still a great 
dreamer but his dreams are no longer the vagaries of "the som- 
nambulist." He is a poet, an artist, a statesman. His imagina- 
tion is as vivid as ever but it no longer betrays him into "seeing 
things at night." He is practical, self -controlled, and dominated 
by moderation and good sense. 

Apparently he had no taste for speculation or literary compo- 
sition. If he ever committed himself to parchment, nothing, not 
even a title, remains. Yet he was a dexterous penman 

Accomplish- . . x 

ments of and in accordance with the fashion of the times, could 

Dunstan. . . 

ornament a manuscript with the most expert. Some 
of Edred's charters are believed to be his work, besides a drawing 
of Christ with the artist prostrate at his feet. He possessed also a 
special skill in metal work. His cell at Glastonbury, it is said, 
was equipped with forge and anvil, where he was accustomed to 
toil at his favorite art far into the night. To the early medieval 
mind there was always something uncanny associated with the 
mysteries of the craft ; — witness the choice old legend of Wieland 
the Smith, — possibly connected with the fitful glare of the forge, 
the glowing iron on the anvil, the sounding blows, the showering 
sparks; and it was perhaps to this wizard-like accomplishment of 
the young monk that the legend of his visit from the evil one is 
due. The organ of Malmesbury and the chime of bells of Canter- 
bury long remained, by no means silent testimonies of his achieve- 
ments. He also knew how to model in wax and carve in wood and 

It was as a statesman that Dunstan brought his practical mind 
to bear directly upon the problems of the age. Here his modera- 
Dunstanas l ' l0n lS as cons pi cuous as that sanctified worldliness 
statesman. which makes him the model ecclesiastical statesman 
of all times. He was in full sympathy with the ascetic revival 
of his age; yet he never went to the extremes of some of his 
contemporaries, but recognized the strength of the ties which 
bound the married clergy to their families, and even after 
he had become archbishop of Canterbury with all the power of 
Edgar to support him, he attempted no ruthless warfare against 
those who had already entered the married state. He sought, 


rather, to bring up a generation of younger men, to take the place 
of their elders as they fell at their posts, better trained, and thus 
saved from their errors. 

When Edmund was struck down by the outlaw he left two 
sons, Edwy and Edgar. But they were too young then to be 

entrusted with the royal authority, and the witan had 
Edw ion °* wisely passed them by in favor of their uncle Edred. 

Now, however, Edred was dead and there was no fourth 
son of the noble Edward to raise to the throne ; and the witan were 
forced to turn again to Edwy, the eldest son of Edmund, then 
possibly in his sixteenth year. 

The choice was not happy. The conscience of Europe was 
everywhere turning from the license tolerated by a more barbarous 

age to a stricter life. Not only was celibacy enjoined 

The choice 

of Edwy as the most holy state for the clergy, but princes and 
nobles were forbidden unions which their fathers had 
regarded with no disfavor. The great Athelstan himself had been 
the child of such a union, and no one had hesitated to do 
him homage on that account. But the revival had now reached 
England and, passing beyond the monasteries, was rapidly win- 
ning the approval of the public conscience. It was exceedingly 
unfortunate, therefore, at such a time when the trumpet had 
been put to lips that were iron bound, and the drowsy con- 
science of the nation was at last awaking, that the most available 
candidate for the throne should be Edwy, a mere lad of fifteen, 
willful and headstrong and, withal, directly under the influence of 
Ethelgiva, a woman of evil reputation, who was solely bent upon 
marrying the king to her daughter Elgiva. During the reigns of 
Edmund and Edred the influence of Edward's widow, 1 Edgiva, 
had been all powerful, nor was she inclined now to yield her 
supremacy to the intriguing Ethelgiva, but brought all her influ- 
ence to bear in preventing the proposed marriage. She found 
powerful allies in Dunstan and Archbishop Odo and other leaders 
of the ecclesiastical reform. For, as an additional objection to 
the marriage, Edwy and Elgiva were related and thus came within 
the degree of consanguinity forbidden by the church. 

1 It is too early to speak of an English queen, or a queen mother- 


The quarrel came to an open rupture at the coronation feast at 

Kingston, when the witan had gathered at the king's board to do 

him honor. Wine was flowing freely; the boisterous 

Expulstimof ° 

Dumtan, revelry shook the old roof, and reechoed from distant 
halls. But the young king grew weary of the cheer, 
and slipped away from the royal company of his thanes to the 
apartments of Ethelgiva and her daughter. When the noisy 
guests noted the absence of their king, and learned whither he had 
gone, they bade Dunstan fetch him. The abbot found the truant 
and, after some high words, took him by the hand and drew him 
back to the banqueting hall to meet his angry thanes. The boy 
king could not forget the humiliation of his coronation night, and 
at the instigation of Ethelgiva, soon began a deliberate attack 
upon Dunstan and Edgiva. Dnnstan was the greatest man of the 
kingdom, and, with the exception of Odo, possibly the most influ- 
ential. It was inevitable that such a man should have many 
malignant and unscrupulous enemies, who would be only too 
glad to join in the rout when once the hue and cry was raised. 
The temporary triumph of Edwy and Ethelgiva was the signal 
for all these dark spirits to pronounce themselves. Dunstan was 
charged with malversation in the care of the late king's treasury. 
By English custom he should be tried before the witenagemot, 
but Ethelgiva had too many friends among the witan for him to 
expect a fair trial at their hands, and he accordingly withdrew to 
Flanders to wait for the storm to blow over. Edgiva also was 
driven from the court. 

Ethelgiva was now virtually the ruler of England, and her first 

act was to secure her influence by the marriage of her daughter to 

the king. She sought also to win a church party of 

Tf"tuiTit)7i of 

the church her own by numerous grants to churches and monas- 
teries. But no government could long survive which 
had been founded upon the open violation of what the reform 
spirit of the age was coming to regard as the sacred law of Chris- 
tendom. In 957 the great lords of Mercia and Northumbria 
broke into open revolt and sot up Edgar, the younger brother of 
Edwy, as their king. In Wessex also the church party carried on 
a relentless war against Ethelgiva, and next year Odo succeeded 


in divorcing King Edwy and in banishing the hated mother-in- 
law. We may not believe the stories of the brutal treatment of 
the poor little bride; 1 but the defection of the northern earls 
was quite enough to frighten the boy king, especially with 
Archbishop Odo thundering terrible things in his ears; even a 
stouter heart and an older head might have hesitated. In 959 
after four years, most unhappy years we may believe, the wretched 
young king died, and Wessex quietly passed to his brother Edgar, 
who since 957 had been king over all England north of the 

Edgar had already recalled Dunstan and made him bishop of 
Worcester. In 959 the see of London was also added to his care. 

And when, in the same year, the death of both Odo and 
Dumian° f Edwv left Edgar free to name his candidate for the 

archiepiscopal throne, there was in all the kingdom but 
one man to be considered, and Dunstan was named as Odo's suc- 
cessor. Dunstan now stood next to the king in honor and influ- 
ence, and the long era of peace and prosperity which attended the 
sixteen years of Edgar's reign was due in no small degree to the 
primate's sage counsel, and the consistent and statesmanlike policy 
to which he committed the king. 

Under Edgar the religious revival was not allowed to slacken. 
He had hardly become seated, when the monastic drift of the 

nation was greatly deepened and strengthened by the 

Edgar the °. .., „ -. , , ,, ,, , . , 

Peaceful. appearance of a pestilence, the sudden death, which, 

I*V()(l fCHS of 

the church starting in the centers of population, swept the king- 
dom far and wide. In 9G2 London also was ravaged by 
a serious conflagration. Monastic thought was in the air, and the 
people readily saw in these afflictions a punishment for their dis- 
obedience in not conforming to the laws of the church. The king, 
who bad been from his youth under the influence of Dunstan, was 
thoroughly possessed with this idea, and everywhere enforced the 
demands of the reformers. In this he was ably seconded by 
Oswald, the nephew of Odo, who had been trained at Fleury, and 
in 961 had succeeded Dunstan at Worcester; and also by Ethel- 
wold, the abbot of Abingdon, the former pupil of Dunstan. As a 
J They belong to a period long subsequent to Odo's death. 


Edgak the Peaceful 

result of the powerful influence brought to bear by such leaders, 
supported by the king and upheld by the sentiment of the people, 
the married clergy were compelled to put away their wives and 
conform to the ecclesiastical law. Training schools or semi- 
naries for monks, with regular courses of study extending over two 
or three years, were also established, and from them young men, 
imbued with the new idea of the monastic life, were regularly sent 
out upon missions into other fields. New abbeys were founded, 
according to tradition to the number of forty, and old foundations 
restored. Thus arose Ramsey in Huntingdon, associated with the 
name of Oswald ; Ely and Medehamstede, the latter soon to be 
known as Peterborough, both associated with the name of Ethel wold. 
Edgar and Dunstan, however, had other work to do besides 
that of reforming monks and building monasteries. The Danish 

inroads had ceased, but the unruly lords of the isles had 
navafpower *° ^ e ^ e pt * n subjection. According to a respectable 

but hardly credible tradition, Edgar maintained a fleet 
of 3,600 sail, with which he patroled his coasts each year. It is 
probable that the famous review at Chester of 973, 1 in which, it is 
said, Edgar was borne along in a barge rowed by six vassal kings, 
was a part of one of these annual manoeuvers. 

As with his predecessors, it is difficult to distinguish particular 
institutions which date from Edgar's reign, and yet the era was 

one in which the growth of English institutions was 
n^laremof 11 mai "kedly deepened and strengthened. The West Saxon 
reffn'' 8 shire system was unquestionably extended to the Hum- 

ber. The hundred or, as it was called north of Watling 
Street, the wapentake, appears in the laws for the first time by 
name, and its functions, the times of holding the court, and the 
duties of its officers are fixed by ordinance. The system which 
Athelstan had enjoined, of organizing each community into gilds 
for better protection against thieving, also appears merged in the 
hundred; the subdivision or group of ten being represented 
in the tithing. The system by which each man was compelled 
to find a perpetual surety, who should be responsible for 
him before the local court was also extended and strengthened. 
1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 973. 


The times of meeting of the higher courts were fixed. The 
"Ordinance of the Hundred" prescribed that the hundred 
court should meet "always in four weeks," but the burh-gemot 
should be held "thrice in the year," and the shire-gemot twice. 
That Edgar and his advisers understood the nature of the national 
institutions was attested by a law designed to protect the rights 
of the locaL courts and prevent an unnecessary appeal to the king, 
which prescribed that such appeals should be received only when 
the local court had refused to recognize the plea of the plaintiff, or 
when the "law was too heavy," so that a mitigation might in 
justice be sought. 

The king also turned his attention to commerce and trade. He 
sought to give confidence and security to all honest transactions by 
establishing in each borough or hundred a body of notaries or 
qualified witnesses, to attest all bargains, and so protect 
regulate the holder of goods from the charge of fraud or thiev- 
ing. This regulation was evidently only the extension 
and more practical application of the principle which Athelstan 
had sought to embody in his laws, by which all transactions must 
be held within a city. Another law prescribed the use of only one 
kind of money in the kingdom, and one standard of weights and 
measures, that of London and Winchester. These laws were 
undoubtedly salutary, and reveal the rapid development of true 
ideas of the function of government as represented in the kingship 
of the tenth century. Some of the laws, however, were not so 
wise ; as when the king by enactment attempted to keep up the 
price of wool, a law like many of the laws of the era framed not in 
the interest of the people, but in the interest of the great land- 
owners. The law is further noteworthy, since it shows that even 
at this period wool-growing had become an important English 
industry. 1 

Edgar died on the 8th of July, 975. Although he had but just 

passed his thirty-second birthday, he had been a king for eighteen 

years ; sixteen of which he had ruled as sole king over 

Edgar, %75. the English. His policy was one of peace. He left to 

his earls the administration, each of his own earldom, 

1 For laws of Edgar, see Stubbs, S. C, 68-72. 

102 DAYS OF DUNSTAN [edwakd the Marttb 

while he contented himself with securing the peace and quiet of 
the realm. He maintained terms of friendly intercourse with the 

Celtic kings of the north; he went so far in his efforts 
ofreian 61 " *° conciliate the Danes, that his own people found 

fault with his favoritism for "outlandish men." Dun- 
stan's hand, perhaps, may be seen in this, as well as in the 
dramatic fetes and pageants by which he sought to secure for his 
king that outward grandeur which belonged to him as a king over 
kings. The glories of the great coronation fete at Bath and the 
famous boat procession at Chester, long lingered in the traditions 
of the age. But the shadow was already mounting on the dial. 
Edgar " the Peaceful" is the last of the great kings of the Houso 
of Alfred. The old West Saxon kingship was not equal to the task 
to which it had been summoned. The extension of the shire sys- 
tem of Wessex was a step in the right direction; but the inspira- 
tion by which this vast body of shires, with their hundred courts 
and borough courts, should be kept to their duties must come 
from the king. The king, however, could not be everywhere. 
The machinery needed constant supervision and watchfulness that 
justice might be done, or the power of officials not be used to 
oppress the people. This could be accomplished only by extending 
the system of great earldoms which we have already seen in opera- 
tion under Edred. Under Edgar and his great minister this 
scheme no doubt worked well. "Twice every year the king rode 
through every shire, inquiring into the law-dooms of the men in 
authority, and showing himself a powerful avenger in the name of 
justice." But under weaker men the results were very different. 
The earls became too powerful for subjects, too independent for 
ministers, and in the face of a victorious foe, were only too ready 
to betray their sovereign in order to make advantageous terms for 

After the death of Edgar, England was compelled once more 
to endure the reign of a minor. Edgar had left two sons, — 

Edward and Ethelred. Dunstan and the other min- 
Martyr, isters of the late king favored the succession of Edward; 

97 5 ~978, 

but Elfrida, the second wife of Edgar and mother of 
Ethelred, an ambitious and unscrupulous woman, was not willing 


to see her son and herself also, the partner of Edgar's greatness, 
set down to a second place. The influence of Dunstan with the 
witan, however, prevailed and Edward was duly crowned. But 
his reign was a short one. The breach had apparently been healed, 
but Elfrida only bided her time. On the 18th of March, 978, 
the young king who had been hunting, stopped at his stepmother's 
castle for refreshment. As he was about to ride away, the parting 
cup which the laws of hospitality of the age prescribed was pre- 
sented to him, but, as he took it, he was stabbed in the back by 
one of Elfrida's servants. Edward's youth and the circum- 
stances of his death appealed powerfully to the people, and they 
saw in him a martyr sacrificed to the deep animosity of the old 
anti-monastic party. 

A powerful reaction had, in fact, set in against the ecclesiastical 
policy of the late king, and Elfher, the Ealdorman of Mercia, had 

driven out the monks of Edgar by force, and reinstated 
monastic the married clergy. The earls of East Anglia and Essex 

had taken the other side. Ramsey Abbey had been 
garrisoned, and the fyrd called into the field to defend the "regu- 
lars." Turbulent synods were held, in which the attempt had 
been made to solve the difficulties of the hour by a noisy war of 
words, and with the usual results. In one of these synods, held at 
Calne, while Dunstan was speaking, the floor of the overcrowded 
room had. suddenly given way, and the audience been precipi- 
tated to the room below. While many were injured, some seriously, 
Dunstan had managed to save himself by seizing hold of a cross 
beam. To the wrought-up imagination of his friends the deliver- 
ance appeared to be a miracle. To his enemies the whole sad 
affair appeared to be the result of the treachery or the evil power 
of the great archbishop, whom they affected to regard as a wizard. 
What part the boy king Edward, who was only thirteen or four- 
teen at most when he began to reign, had had in all this strife docs 

not appear; save that he had been the avowed candidate 

Pcivt or 

Edward in of Dunstan, Oswald, and Ethel wold, the leaders of the 

thextrife. . 

monastic party. Yet Elfher, the Earl of Mercia, whom 
we have seen in the field against the monks, seems to have been 
the only subject to care enough about the "martyr king" to give 

104 DAYS OP DUNSTAN [ethelrke 

him a royal burial, while Dunstan and Oswald within a month 

after the assassination appear at Kingston, performing their parts 

in the hallowing of Elfrida's son Ethelred. To Dun- 

Ethelred ° 

king, April stan's honor, however, it is to be said that he could not 

14 978. 

act with Elfrida and those whose hands were stained 
with the blood of assassination. From this time he disappears 
from political life. 

In the meantime England was sinking rapidly under the mis- 
fortunes which from the first had attended the unlucky reign of 

Ethelred, — misfortunes which the age regarded as a iust 

Danish ludgment, considering the way in which the throne had 

inroads, 980. ■ & ' k .7?. , ... A , , . 

been secured. As if it were not enough that the king- 
dom be riven by the strife of the secular clergy and the regular 
clergy, or that men like Elfric, the son of Elf her of Mercia, whom 
the people regarded as responsible for the murder of Edward, 
appear among the earls, the Danish inroads which had practically 
ceased since the reign of Edward the Elder, must also begin 
afresh. England, under the rule of a boy and a woman, a boy of 
thirteen, and a woman who was hated for her great crime, was as 
helpless as in the days of Ethel wulf. A beggarly band of Danes, 
three hundred men all told, were allowed to sack Southampton 
and slaughter the most of the inhabitants. From Southampton 
they went to Thanet, which they ravaged in the same cruel fash- 
ion. In the same year another force overran the county of Ches- 
ter. In 981 there were similar ravages in Devonshire and 
Cornwall. The next year the coasts of Dorset lay paralyzed and 
panic-stricken, at the mercy of a small band who came in three 
ships and were probably not more than one hundred and fifty 
strong. Another force plundered South Wales. Then the new 
invasion seems to have spent itself, and for a few years the land 
was again at peace. 

Within the kingdom matters were going from bad to worse. 
Ethelred's advisers quarreled with Elfric of Mercia, and succeeded 

in driving him out of the country. It was a fatal 

New tvouljlcs 

' triumph, for Elfric repaired to Denmark and joined 
himself with the bitterest enemies of his country. But Ethelred 
seemed doomed from the first to scatter such stumbling-blocks in 


his own path. In 986 he quarreled witli Elfstan, the Bishop of 
Rochester, and to settle the difficulty called out the fyrd and 
besieged the bishop in his episcopal city. Dunstan was doubly 
interested and came forth from his seclusion to save the bishop, 
lie is the same Dunstan as of old. We catch the gleam of the old 
fire in the threat of excommunication by which he strove to awe 
the willful king. But when this failed, instead of carrying out 
the spiritual menace, he, the same shrewd man of the world, 
offered to buy off the king for £100. The king took the money 
and sent home his people. Thus Ethelred, who at this time had 
reached his twenty-third year, was already giving abundant evi- 
dence of the character which he has left to history, curious com- 
pound of "violence, weakness, and meanness." The era was at 
hand when early England needed another Alfred or another 
Edward the Elder, her greatest and best, but instead the irony 
of fate had given her an Ethelred "the liedeless" her meanest. 
Then, too, the great men of the past generation were slipping 
away. In 984 England lost Ethelwold, "Father of the Monks," 
the old abbot of Abingdon, who since 9G3 had been bishop of 

Winchester. Dunstan survived his great pupil hardly 
Death of f vvo years, dying as he had lived, with the harness on, 

in good works, active to the last. He was then up- 
wards of sixty-five or possibly seventy years of age and had retained 
his vigor to the end. A grateful people long remembered him, 
"his delight to make peace between man and man," his modera- 
tion, his genial hospitality, his strict justice, his integrity, his 
sage wisdom. He "was canonized in popular regard almost from 
the day he died," and soon became the favorite saint of the old 
English Church, and held his place until his fame was eclipsed by 
the later St. Thomas of Canterbury. After Alfred he is the 
greatest man of early England. 





Edgar, 959-975 
1 Ethelfleda = 2 Elfrida 

Edward the 
Martyr, 975-978 

= 1 Elfleda 

Ethelred the 
Redeless, 978-1016 

= 2 Emma 

Edmund Ironside, 









Edward the Outlaw 



Margaret = 
Malcom Canmore, 
King of Scots 



Matilda = Henry I. 

Sweyn Forkbeard 
1013, 1014 

= 1 Elgiva 

Canute, 1016-1035 

= 2 Emma 

King of 



It can not be said that Ethelred was the most wicked and con- 
temptible of English kings, for he must share this doubtful honor 

with the Angevin John. But, if John was wicked, he 
John was not weak; Ethelred was both wicked and weak. 

John almost commands respect as he rouses himself 
with all the old vigor of his race to battle with his enemies. 
There is something heroic in the very desperation of his struggle 
against insuperable odds. But Ethelred never elicits any other 
feeling than one of contempt. He is unable to form plans of his 
own ; he is unwilling to carry out those of others. He is head- 
strong, rash, and incapable; always in trouble, yet never learning 
anything from his blunders. He is vicious, treacherous, and cruel ; 
and, withal, in an age when battle courage was the commonest of 
virtues, he is a miserable coward. Like John he owed his throne 
to the intriguing of an unscrupulous mother ; an intrigue also which 
ended in murder. Like John his baseness stifled all loyalty in his 
court, and drove from his side the trusted counsellors of father and 
elder brother. Like John his tyrannies brought on a foreign 



invasion and drove his people to disown him for a foreign prince. 
Here, however, the comparison ends. John died just in the nick 
of time, and saved England from foreign conquest ; but Ethelred 
lived on to witness the full results of his evil life, and died when it 
was too late to undo the mischief. Unlike John, moreover, Ethel- 
red was hardly responsible for all the misfortunes of his reign; yet, 
had he been a better man and wiser king, he might have risen above 
his troubles and left a name as glorious as that of any king of his 
race. But, as it was, by blunders without number, through base- 
ness indescribable, he contrived in a reign of thirty-seven years to 
plunge England from the height to which she had been raised by 
the great kings of the House of "Wessex, into an abyss in which 
sho was saved from complete disintegration only by the iron hand 
of the conqueror. 

Since the days of Alfred Denmark and Norway had been pass- 
ing through a series of transformations quite as significant as those 
which had attended the recent development of England. 

character The era of "creek men" and "sea kings" was receding; 

of the new . 

Danish wars, the petty tribal states had been destroyed, and the era 

of the national kingdom had begun. When, therefore, 
at the close of the tenth century an English king found himself 
with another Danish war on his hands, he was confronted with a 
problem very different from that which had so taxed the resources 
of the English kingdoms in the ninth century. lie was now com- 
pelled to meet powerful national kings, leading not bands. of petty 
adventurers but disciplined and regularly organized armies, who 
came not for plunder and rapine merely, but with the definite pur- 
pose of conquest and annexation. It was against such an enemy 
that Ethelred was now called upon to defend his kingdom. 

The successive stages of the new Danish war, or rather series 
of Danish wars, are easily distinguished. There had already 

begun during the last days of Dnnstan a series of 
htiniJh "'"'' desultory raids quite like those of the early ninth cen- 
( / ''' l ''7/J'.! <; ""'• /, tnry. These raids had exposed the weakness of the new 

administration, and encouraged the return of more 
formidable bands. They did not become serious, however, until 
the thirteenth year of Ethelred's reign, when a considerable horde 


landed upon the coast of East Anglia, plundered Ipswich, and a 
few days later defeated Byrhtnoth, the aged earl of the East 
Saxons, at Maldon. 

The king, instead of attempting to punish the pirates, offered 

them a bribe of £10,000 to go and leave him in peace, — "the first 

fatal precedent of Danegeld." The Danes took the 

First pay- ,... , 

menu of bribe but did not depart; and m a few months other 
bands, scenting the booty from afar, descended upon 
England and made a second truce and a second payment of Dane- 
geld necessary. This time the price of peace was raised to £22,000. 
The effects of the encouragement which Ethelred had given to 
the freebooting trade were even more alarmingly apparent in 994, 
when the two royal buccaneers, Olaf of Norway and 
The raid of Sweyn "Forkbeard" of Denmark appeared in the Thames 

Olaf and ., „ ,, ., . . __ . _ , 

Sweyn, 994. and fell upon the southeastern shires. Their object at 
this time was to levy blackmail pure and simple. By 
a fury of "burnings and harryings and manslaughter," they sought 
to compel Ethelred to buy them off as he had bought off the 
others. But the country was impoverished by the recent levies, 
and the witan hesitated to authorize a new tax. Sweyn and Olaf, 
however, were not to be put off and kept up their depredations, 
cruelly wasting Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire, until the witan 
consented to their demands and paid over a Danegeld of £16,000. 
These sums, in consequence of the enormous purchasing power of 
money in the tenth century, represented a real value out of all pro- 
portion to the present nominal value of like sums. Moreover they 
were probably levied by a direct tax upon the arable land of the 
kingdom, apportioned to the several earldoms with some view to 
their wealth. But under the crude methods of the time, in the 
absence of any accurate knowledge of the actual wealth of the 
various districts, and under the management of a king notoriously 
unjust and of a court notoriously corrupt, a fair adjustment or an 
economical levy was out of the question. The sums actually paid 
to the Danes, in all probability, represented only a small part of 
the money which was taken from the people. Discontent, 
bribery of officials, and at last open resistance, were sure to 
attend such levies if repeated too often. 

995-1002] THE NORMA K MARRIAGE 109 

After the payment of the Danegeld Olaf and Sweyn sailed 

away; Olaf back to Norway and Sweyn into the Irish Sea, where 

he appears in the next season ravaging the Isle of Man. 

uUnh ]l r ars ^ ne eusiun g eight years were by no means years of 

ima^m lout P eace or res t ^ or i^nglisli king or country. The 

inroads, however, were not as frequent nor were they 
as formidable or as widely extended. But, were the enemy many 
or few, the incompetency of the government remained the same. 
"Often was the fyrd gathered against the foe; but, so soon as they 
should have met them, through some cause, was flight ever resolved 
upon, and so the enemy ever had the victory." The Isle of Wight, 
apparently, remained in their hands. There were ravages on the 
Kentish coast and in Wiltshire; there were battles in Sussex and 
Devonshire. Rochester and Exeter were besieged ; Waltham and 
other places wore burned. The king gathered his ships, but "when 
they were ready he delayed from day to day, distressing the poor 
folk that were in them; and when things should have been for- 
warder, so were they ever backwarder; and ever he let the foe's 
army increase, and ever he drew back from the sea, and ever the 
enemy went after him ; and so, in the end, it served for nothing 
but the folks' distress and wasting of money and emboldening the 
foe." The most that Ethelred seems to have accomplished was 
the recovery of the Isle of Man and the taking into his service of a 
pirate chief, Earl Pallig, the brother-in-law of Sweyn. 

So at last the fatal year 1002 drew on. It opened with 
another disgraceful truce and the payment of a Danegeld of £24,- 

000. The price of such truces was advancing. In the 
uea/1002 preceding year an ill-advised expedition had been 
mavrkui" xan sen ^ ^° Normandy to punish Duke Richard because he 

had allowed the harbors of the Seine to shelter the 
Danish pirates; but, instead of bringing back the Norman duke in 
chains as Ethelred had instructed his lieutenants, they brought 
back the Lady Emma, the duke's sister, to be the bride of Ethel- 
red. She came in the early spring and brought with her a horde 
of Norman flunkies and hangers-on, — the first Norman invasion of 
England, — whose insolent ways and outlandish manners boded no 
good for a court already divided and torn by the bitter rivalries of 


jealous factions. Emma, moreover, was a woman of spirit, beau- 
tiful and cold-hearted as she was selfish. Ethelred already had a 
grown-up family about him, headed by the noble etheling 
Edmund. Here then was opportunity enough for clashing of 
interests, intrigue, open schism, and final treason; in the end, 
outweighing any temporary advantage which Ethelred might secure 
by an alliance with his powerful Norman neighbor. 

The Norman marriage was not the only nor the most serious 

blunder which Ethelred made in this fatal year. It seems that as 

a result of so many truces, as well as of a recent policy 

St. Brice's 

Day,Novem- adopted by Ethelred of enlisting Danes in the English 
service, there had been introduced into Mercia and 
Wessex a considerable Danish population. These new Danes had 
not yet had time to assimilate to the English stock, as the old 
Danes of the Danelagh; but remained still a separate population, 
the detestation of the English, who feared them, but durst not 
attack them, and of importance enough to excite the suspicion of 
the government. Soon after his marriage intelligence was brought to 
the king, that this floating Danish population had formed a plot 
to destroy him and the witan and seize the government. Ethelred, 
whose craven spirit made him an easy prey to all rumors of this kind, 
was thrown into a paroxysm of terror. He determined to strike 
first, and made his plans for the extermination of the unsuspecting 
Danes on the approaching St. Brice's Day. For once the plans 
of Ethelred were carried out, and with fatal completeness; 
neither degree, nor age, nor sex was spared. The entire Danish 
population of Mercia and Wessex was swept away. 

This deed was the most stupid of all the stupid blunders of 
this blundering king. The Danes were not only protected by 
recent truces, but many of them also were hostages. 
of l swc a n' Ethelred, therefore, had violated laws which even pagan 
barbarians held sacred. The memory of his crime long 
rankled in the mind of Europe; sixty years afterward, it helped 
Duke William to justify the Norman invasion of England. But 
of more immediate import was the fact that among the victims 
were Gunhild, the sister of Sweyn, her husband Earl Pallig, and 
their infant son. When the news reached Sweyn his wrath was ter- 

Second was carr ied by assault, and its walls thrown down. 

venoa of J ' 

?<m b ioo4 ,ar ' -^rom Exeter Sweyn moved eastward, plundering and 

1003-1009] SECOND PERIOD OF THE WAR 111 

rible to see. He swore to be avenged on the assassin ; he would go to 
England, destroy Ethelred, and add England to his Danish kingdom. 
Sweyn was as good as his word, and in the spring of 1003 
began the series of operations which ended ten years later in the 
establishment of a Danish king in England. He struck 
Swan's war first at Wessex, the heart of Ethelred's power. Exeter 

of revenge. 




3, 1004. 

burning with ungovernable fury until he reached South- 
ampton. Ethelred brought out the fyrd, but his earls upon one 
pretext or another refused to fight. The next year Sweyn 
descended upon the east coast, and Norwich suffered the fate of 
Exeter. Ulfcytel, one of the few true men who attended the 
king, called out the local levies and threw himself in the path of 
the foe. The task, however, was far too great for his strength; 
although he gave the Danes "worse hand-play" than they had yet 
met on English soil. 

In 1005 for reasons unknown, Sweyn did not return. The 
English, however, had little respite; for now a "hunger-need" 

fell upon the doomed land, "grimmer than any man 
Danegeidof had mind of," the result of so much burning of fields 

and slaughter of cattle and "fyrding of men." In 
1006 soon after midsummer the Danes returned and ravaged the 
coasts of Kent and Sussex, until the November gales drove them 
into the Isle of Wight for shelter. Ethelred as usual did noth- 
ing, and with the return home of the fyrd after harvest time, 
even the pretense of keeping the field was abandoned ; and when 
in January the Danes, crossing from the Isle of Wight, started 
upon a raid up through Hampshire and Berkshire, "kindling 
their war beacons as they went," Ethelred fell back upon his old 
witless policy and secured a truce by a bribe of £36,000. 

Sweyn was not with the host this year, and there is no reason 
to think that he was a party to the truce. He was waging war, 

not for booty, but for conquest. The witan felt their 
xhi), fyrd insecurity, and determined to call upon the nation for a 

Of 1009. , . . 

ship fyrd which would enable them to overthrow Sweyn 
upon his own element, and thus for all time deliver England from 


its foes. It was determined to call upon every three hundred and 
ten hides throughout England to furnish a ship of war, built and 
equipped, and upon every eight hides for a helmet and coat of mail. 
But when the great fleet was brought together, such a fleet as neither 
Athelstan nor Edgar had possessed, Ethelred's ill luck did not for- 
sake him. His leaders plotted against each other; one division of 
the fleet turned upon the king's people; another division was 
broken up by a storm and wrecked upon the coast of Sussex. 
Then the king brought the remnant of his ships around to Lon- 
don, and there laid them up to rot in the Thames. Thus the 
splendid fleet, which represented so much self-denial, such heroic 
sacrifice on the part of the people, and from which so much had 
been expected, had turned out to be only one more miserable 
fiasco; another signal illustration of the incompetency of Ethelred. 
No wonder that men, that even Ethelred himself, began to asso- 
ciate this long series of ever darkening calamities with the crime 
that had made him a king, or that Ethelred now accepted each 
new failure with the dull apathy of a doomed man. 

General despondency, the result of the growing conviction of 

utter helplessness, followed the collapse of the ship fyrd, and 

when in the following August a new fleet of the 

Descent of do 

Thurkui, enemy under Thurkill, more powerful than any which 
Sweyn had yet sent out, appeared off Sandwich, men 
felt that the end could not long delay. Canterbury and eastern 
Kent made their own terms. The southern coast was ravaged as 
far as the Isle of Wight and back again. Then the enemy estab- 
lished themselves near London for the winter; keeping the city in 
constant alarm, and more than once threatening it with storm and 
sack. Marauding bands, in the meanwhile, swept the lower 
Thames valley, continually extending their operations in huge 
concentric circles, until at last, as the spring advanced, they 
passed the Chilterns and burned Oxford. Then they entered East 
Anglia, and spent three months in the same businesslike plunder 
of the eastern shires, burning Ipswich, and defeating the local 
levies under Ulfcytel ; the same Ulfcytel who six years before had 
given Sweyn such vigorous "hand-play." From East Anglia 
Thurkill returned to the Thames again, and renewed the plunder- 

1009-1013] THIRD PERIOD OF WAR 113 

ing of the middle counties. The fyrd took the field, but the 
people had lost heart. The king dragged them up and down in 
the wake of the Danes, but seemed "never able to bring them to 
the right place in the right time." The king summoned his 
witan, but the spirit of the nation was broken; sixteen counties, 
one-third the area of England, had been laid waste; "no man 
would lead, no man would follow, no shire would help other." 
The disintegration was beyond recovery; there was no hope save in 
a new levy of Danegeld. The Danes demanded £48,000, an enor- 
mous sum even for more prosperous times, but in its despair, the 
government had no other choice. The enormous ransom, how- 
ever, could not be paid at once, and the plundering went on. 
Canterbury was sacked, and its entire population driven away to 
the ships. The Archbishop Alfheah (St. Alphege) was held for a 
special ransom, and when he nobly refused to allow the poor of 
his church to be further robbed for his sake, a mob of drunken 
barbarians set upon him, nor satisfied their fury until they had 
done him to death. 

As Easter drew on the witan returned to the king, ealdormen 

and bishops bringing each his share of the tax and each feeling 

that it must be the last. Then the money was paid; 

Third period and the Danish host broke up. A part with Thurkill, 

of wav. 

Sweyn' entered the service of Ethelred, but the greater nnra- 


hirw,ioi3. ber returned to Denmark. Sweyn, however, was not 
satisfied. The strength of Wessex and East Anglia had 
been shattered ; Mercia and Northumbria were drained of their 
resources. All England was broken in spirit and disheartened; 
her earls had proved false, and her king worthless. It was the 
time, therefore, not for Sweyn to stay his hand, but to complete 
the conquest which he had sworn to accomplish six years before. 
Accordingly, only a few months after the breaking up of Thur- 
kill's horde, Sweyn appeared off Sandwich, and passing on up the 
eastern coast entered the Humber and pushed his way by the 
Trent into old Danish Mercia as far as Gainsborough. Appar- 
ently, everything had been arranged with the people of eastern 
Mercia beforehand. On Sweyn's part, there were no plunderings 
of homes, no aimless burnings of farms or cities; on the part of 


the people, there was a general flocking from all sides to forswear 
Ethelred and accept Sweyn. In a short time all north and east 
of Watling Street had gone over to the new king. Then with 
food and horses freely supplied by his new subjects and his army 
swelled by new recruits, Sweyn crossed Watling Street and entered 
what of England still remained to Ethelred. The ravaging was 
resumed, but the country could make no resistance. Behind the 
defenses of London, Ethelred waited while his kingdom fell away 
from him; and hither, at last, came Sweyn to test the loyalty of the 
Londoners to their native king. Twice the Danes attempted to 
enter the city, and twice they were driven back with great 
slaughter, but Ethelred was already virtually deposed. At Bath 
the western thanes submitted to Sweyn, and with all England at 
last holding him for "full king" naught was left for the men of 
London but to make their own terms with the conqueror. 

For a while Ethelred, abandoned by all save the faithful 
Thurkill, lingered at Greenwich, and then withdrew to the Isle of 
Wight. Here upon the last English ground which he could call 
his own, he kept a sad Christmas feast, and then retired to Nor- 
mandy to join Emma and her children. So ended the year 1013; 
a more gloomy year had never fallen upon England ; the land was 
wasted and desolate, the king an exile, and the people weary of 
their sufferings and without heart for the future. 

The war, however, was not yet ended, nor were the people to 
have rest. Sweyn survived the flight of Ethelred barely a month. 
He had shown no disposition to reorganize the govern- 
Sweyn, Feb- ment, but had spent his time in collecting Danegeld on 
his own account. The single month of Danish rule had 
satisfied the English; and although the host at once declared for 
Canute, Sweyn's son, the English turned to their exiled lord. 
There is a forlorn pathos in their words of greeting: "No lord was 
dearer than their own born lord could be, if he would rule them 
rightlier than he did before." Equally pathetic is the response: 
"He would be their true lord, and right what they misliked, and 
forgive all that had been said against him." So Ethelred, the 
abandoned king came back, and his witan received him. 

Canute, in the meanwhile, with his eyes upon the more sub- 

1015, 1016] LAST STAGES OF THE WAR 115 

stantial Danish throne, staid not to brave the awakening nation, 
but stole away in his ships and returned home. In Denmark, 
however, he received little encouragement ; the people had already 
chosen Harold, another son of Sweyn, and he sternly refused to 
share his crown with Canute. 

Ethelred's days were now fast ebbing. His strength was 

broken, and his health declining; yet his energy in mischief 

making was apparently as active as ever. The hope 

Last stages , ., .. n • i • -n ,, . , , 

of the war, of the nation centered in his eldest son, the ethel- 
ing Edmund; but the king, instead of rejoicing in his 
son's popularity, chose to regard him as a rival, and lent a willing 
ear to the malicious tales of one Edric the Grasper, Earl of Mercia, 
Edmund's bitter enemy. While the court was thus torn by the 
disgraceful quarreling of father and son, news came of the reap- 
pearance of Canute off Sandwich. His first point of attack, how- 
ever, was Dorsetshire. Edmund and Edric called out the fyrd, but 
the bitter enmity of the two men made any cooperation impossible. 
The fyrd broke up in quite the old way without accomplishing any- 
thing, and Canute was left to overrun the western counties. Then 
Edric, believing no doubt that Ethelred's days were numbered, 
went over to Canute and persuaded the thanes of Wessex to fol- 
low his example; satisfying thereby his hatred of Edmund, and 
hoping no doubt to do him a grievous injury. Edmund bravely 
struggled on alone in the losing fight. A few months later 
Uhtred, Earl of Northumbria, also abandoned him for Canute. 
Then Edmund fell back upon London, whither friends had already 
brought the dying Ethelred, a source of weakness and 

Death of ,. . , , „ 

Ethelred. dissension to the last. He was not an old man, pos- 

1016. . * 

sibly not much past fifty, but he had lived far too 
long for the good of England; he died April 23, 1016. 

London was the only stronghold which held out for Ed- 
mund; but he had no thought of waiting idly behind its walls 
„ M until Canute should gather and organize the strength of 

The rally of -,-■,. 

Edmund, England in order to drive him out. He proposed to 

show what Englishmen could do when led again by a 

brave and competent leader. And no doubt with the example of 

his great ancestor before him, he retired to Selwood Forest, and 

116 DECLINE OF THE KINGDOM [edmund iaoNsiDu 

under its shadows gathered the descendants of the men who had 
fought at Edington. With a small but determined band, steadily 
increasing as he advanced, he fought his way back to London, 
defeating the Danes at Penselwood, again at Sherston, and finally 
raising the siege of London and winning a third victory at 
Brentford. The eyes of all loyal Englishmen now turned to 
Edmund. At last, here was a king who knew how to lead his 
people and win battles. Even the traitor Edric began to despair 
of the fortunes of Canute and in an evil hour was allowed to 
make his peace with Edmund. 

After Brentford^ Edmund followed Canute to the south bank 
of the Thames, and overtaking him at Otford in Kent, forced 
him to retire across the estuary into Essex. Then 
AsMnadim ma king a detour by land, Edmund again came up 
with the Danes near the modern Ashingdon. The 
English, confident in the skill and good fortune of their king, were 
eagerly looking forward to the struggle, which each side felt must 
settle the issue of the war, when occurred the fell treason, which 
in a trice undid all the victories of the past year. At the very 
moment when the English were entering the battle Edric the 
Grasper halted his Mercians and refused to fight. Edmund 
gallantly led forward the loyal men of Wessex, but, against 
the odds which now confronted him, victory was impossible. 
Yet from three o'clock until the gathering darkness of the 
short October day made it no longer possible for foe to see foe, 
the men of Wessex fought on. Then they withdrew and under 
cover of the night the fyrd broke up. But the Danes were in no 
mood to follow; the roads were unknown, and the country hostile. 
They too had suffered in the royal "hand-play 1 ' of "rank thrust- 
ing at rank with sword and spear." They were, moreover, "weary 
of fighting and marching and working of ships," and thought no 
longer of conquest, but only of truce. In a few days Edmund 
would return with another army, and then certain expulsion, if 
not extermination, awaited them. 

But Edric's treason was not yet complete; he now exerted his 
influence among the witan to persuade them to demand a cessa- 
tion of hostilities. Edmund protested; but his protest was over- 


The truce ruled, and at Alney near Gloucester he was compelled 
to accept Canute as under-king, and cede to him all 

England, saving only Wessex and East Anglia. 

Edmund survived this disgraceful treaty only a few weeks. 

Later accounts ascribe his death to Edric, secretly encouraged by 
Canute. But it is more than likely that the events 

Death of . . J 

Edmund, of the seven months past, the incessant campaign- 
ing, the five pitched battles, the cruel disappoint- 
ment in the moment of success, were too great a strain even for 
his vigorous constitution. His death was a national calamity. His 
brilliant triumphs are "the best commentary on the imbecility of 
Ethelred, and show that it was not so much the degeneracy of 
Englishmen as the incompetence of the government that had been 
responsible for the disasters of his reign." 

The death of Edmund left Canute undisputed lord of England. 
He was then a young man, probably not far from his twenty -first 
year. Yet with remarkable clearness of vision and 
sijieMna soundness of judgment he grasped the conditions which 
confronted him. He saw that what the English needed 
most was peace; but that a stable and lasting peace could be 
established only by first securing his power against the machinations 
of possible reactionary plotters. Accordingly, almost his first act 
was to seize the archtraitor Edric and put him to death. Other 
executions also followed, by no means as justifiable. The infant 
sons of Edmund, whom probably he did not dare to destroy, he 
sent off to Norway for safe keeping; but Edwy, a brother of 
Edmund Ironsides, was outlawed and afterward slain. 

When Canute had removed the men whose presence he regarded 
as a menace to the peace which he would make, he stayed his hand, 
and addressed himself to the task of winning the confi- 
Canule'* dence and support of the English. Though no English- 
man, he understood the English nature far better than 
their "own born lord." He connected his reign with the past by 
proclaiming the laws of Edgar; he assured his people of fair treat- 
ment by placing Englishmen and Danes upon the same footing 
before the law; and to fortify his position in the only direction 
from which he might expect a challenge to his right to the throne, 




he sought and won the hand of the Lady Emma, the widow of 
Ethelred. He sought also to strengthen the conservative elements 
of English society by favoring the clergy and increasing the power 
of the local landlords. He also strengthened the great earldoms, 
bestowing a power upon the earls of Mercia, Northumbria, 

and East Anglia 
coordinate with 
the power which 
he himself exer- 
cised directly 
over Wessex. If 
he put the loy- 
alty of his new- 
subjects to the 
test by the levy 
of an enormous 
Danegeld, the 
end surely 
would find fa- 
vor in their 
sight. For by 
this tax he was 
enabled to pay 
off his army and 
send the greater 
part of it home. 
Henceforth his 
throne must 
rest upon the 
loyalty of the 
English people. 
In 1019 Canute was recalled to Denmark by the death of his 
brother Harold. Three years of Canute's rule had made England 
The charter a united and peaceful country, and he left it without 
1020. fear to the charge of Thurkill, whom he had made Earl 

of East Anglia. He returned, however, the next year in time to 
take part in the Easter feast. The so-called charter of Canute 

1020-1025] THE CHAKTER OF CANUTE 119 

is commonly assigned to this year. The opening paragraph is a 
greeting to his people after his safe return. He then recounts 
the measures which he has taken for the peace of the realm, and 
calls upon all good people to "thank God Almighty for the mercy 
that he has done for our help." He commands his earls to "help 
the bishops to God's right and to my royal authority and to the 
behoof of all the people." Edgar's law is reaffirmed as the law of 
the kingdom; all unrighteousness is to be eschewed; Sunday's 
festival is to be kept "from Saturday's noon to Monday's dawn- 
ing"; and no man may either go to market or seek any court "on 
that Holy Day." 1 

In 1023 occurred an event which shows with what pains Canute 
sought to take advantage of the susceptibilities of the English. 
St. Dunstan's Day had already been added to the calon- 
tionof \ dar in 1018. Canute now, with great ceremony, took 
Atphege), ' up the body of the murdered Alfheah, and bore it ten- 
derly from St. Paul's to South wark, and thence by regu- 
lar stages in solemn procession, through Rochester to Canterbury. 
The proceedings, which took eleven days, appealed powerfully to the 
national sentiment of the English, nor could the nation fail to 
regard tho honor done to their martyred primate as the peace offer- 
ing of their foreign king. The retirement, possibly outlawry of 
Thurkill, whom popular opinion, rightly or wrongly, made respon- 
sible for the murder of Alfheah, we may also associate with the 
translation of the Saint's bones to their last resting place. 

In 1025 Canute again returned to Denmark. It was during 

this second absence that he made his memorable visit to Rome, 

which he so timed as to be present at the Imperial 

( Uai HtC io27 coronation of Conrad II. The compliment which he 

thus paid to the new emperor was amply rewarded by a 

grant of privileges of prime importance to Canute and his people; 

not least of which was the abolition of the heavy tolls which it was 

customary to exact of English pilgrims as they passed through 

Burgundy or Switzerland on the way to Italy. They were moreover 

to be protected by more equitable laws while passing through the 

other dominions of the Emperor. The pope also agreed not to 

^tubbs, S. C, p. 75. 


demand the ruinous sums which it had been customary to exact of 
the English archbishops in return for the pall. 

The next year Canute took advantage of a quarrel of his old 
friend Olaf the Holy of Norway with his people, and landed with a 
Canute adds force of fift y ships, and drove Olaf out of the country. 
hisdmmir^ Canute then added Norway to his cluster of kingdoms. 
ions, 1028. t w0 y ears j a ter Olaf attempted to regain his crown, 
but was defeated at Stiklestad and perished, probably in the 

After the overthrow of Olaf Canute returnod to England, the 
undisputed lord of the north. In the days of England's weakness, 

the Scots had steadily encroached on the Northumbrian 
iMManf border, and in the second year of Canute's reign the 

Scottish king Malcolm had defeated the northern earl at 
Carham and taken possession of the country between Forth and 
Tweed. Canute did not seek to regain this region, but prepared 
to compel Malcolm to recognize the overlordship of the king of 
England, a custom which had been abandoned since the days of 
Edgar. Malcolm promptly yielded; and the country north of the 
Tweed, Lothian, passed permanently into Scottish hands and soon 
became the dominant influence in the northern kingdom. The 
later kings made Edinburgh their capital, and here, surrounded 
by an English population, they, who heretofore had been lords only 
of rude Celtic tribes, soon became more English in speech and 
thought than the kings of strange blood who ruled England. 

In 1035 the long and peaceful reign of Canute came to an end. 
He was not a great conqueror; it can not be said that he proved 

himself a master of the art of war. Yet, as a states- 

Results of .,..,. .11 

Canute'* man, as a master in building up empires by the arts of 
peace, he has had few equals. English towns hitherto 
have played only a subordinate part in English history. They 
have been conspicuous at all only as fortresses. But with Canute's 
reign the English town enters upon a new era. The union of 
England, Denmark, and Norway, the end of the viking era, and 
the new peace and security which settled on the northern seas, 
greatly stimulated mercantile adventure. The pure English stock 
were not quick to see the new opportunity which opened before 


them, but the Danish population, with that readiness of the Danes 
of adapting themselves to novel surroundings so characteristic of 
the race, entered at once into a new commercial activity. York 
rose rapidly into a mart of considerable importance, and began to 
be a very respectable competitor of London for the northern 
trade. Oxford, Chester, and Bristol also became centers of 

Canute was a man of no vices and few weaknesses. Ho had 
an ungovernable temper which when aroused rushed him head- 
long into deeds of violence, only to leave him in tears 
c ha ute tcrof °t rea, l penitence when the storm had subsided; yet too 
often the repentance came over late to make amends to 
the victim of his wrath. His father, Sweyn, in one of his 
earlier wanderings, seems to have embraced Christianity, but his 
faith was that of a barbarian; he thought that in adopting the 
cross he was securing the favor of some extra wonder-working 
charm to help him in his piracies. Canute's training therefore 
could hardly be called Christian; yet as soon as he came under 
the direct influence of English teachers he readily yielded to 
their guidance and displayed a most commendable desire to profit 
by the new precepts so strange to his own people. The letter 
which he sent home from Rome reveals "the noble conception" 
of his kingly duties which had been born of these new influences 
and goes far to explain the devotion of his later life so marked in 
contrast with the brutalities of the earlier period. He wrote: "I 
have vowed to God to lead a right life in all things; to rule 
justly and piously my realms and subjects, and to administer just 
judgment to all. If heretofore I have done aught beyond what 
was just, through headiness or negligence of youth, I am ready 
with God's help to amend it utterly." He warns his officers 
against oppressing his people in his name: "I have no need that 
money be heaped together for me by unjust demands." "Never," 
he concludes, "have I spared, nor will I spare, to spend myself 
and my toil in what is needful and good for my people." 

It was in keeping with the spirit of this letter that Canute had 
dismissed the army of invasion in 1018, and filled the prominent 
places of trust and power about him with Englishmen. And yet 


he dared not trust the old fyrd altogether, not perhaps because the 
men who composed it were English, but because it was a fyrd, 
slow to action, unwieldy, and uncertain. With his 
house-caris. practical sense, therefore, he retained at immediate call 
a small standing army, composed of picked troops, 
well paid and well armed, the famous house-carls — in number 
not exceeding six thousand men, possibly not even three thousand. 
These troops were maintained by a yearly levy of Danegeld. The 
institution survived the death of Canute, to be finally swept 
away in the rout of Hastings. The Norman and Angevin kings 
did not replace the house-carls, although mercenaries were used at 
various times. The idea of a standing army has never been popu- 
lar with the English; it has been tolerated at all only since the 
expanding colonial possessions of England have made it a 

The laws of Canute added nothing to existing English institu- 
tions. The "shire-gemot" was to be held regularly twice a year, 
and the "burh-gemot" thrice a year. The lower 
CamSe! 80f courts were protected in their rights. Appeals were to 
be recognized only in default of justice. Every freeman 
must "be brought into a hundred and into a tithing," institutions 
which had now absorbed the gild in the completed territorial 
organization of the kingdom. The king's stewards were not to 
oppress the king's tenants, or take from them their goods unjustly. 
The heriot, the custom by which the lord was allowed to seize the 
chattels of a deceased tenant, was fixed by rule; henceforth only 
a certain value could be taken, prescribed in accordance with the 
rank of the tenant from the earl down. Canute favored the land- 
lords by greatly increasing the number of private juris- 
Sacand dictions, • sac and soc, which had become only too 
common in the unsettled days of Ethelred; a dangerous 
precedent, and yet one which was entirely in keeping with Canute's 
policy of enlisting the conservative elements of English society in 
the service of the state. 

Canute's "elaborate humility toward all things connected with 
the church and clergy" is not in accordance with modern ideas; 
yet it must be borne in mind that the church was the one power- 

1035-1040] HAROLD HAREFOOT 123 

fully organized social influence of the times, the hearty coopera- 
tion of which was absolutely necessary in maintaining the peace 
Canute and w ^i c ^ the king so dearly loved. It was the church 
the church. no t as Alfred regarded it, the instrument of education, 
the disseminator of knowledge, but the church, the instrument of 
law and order. 

Upon the death of Canute his three kingdoms drifted apart. 

Emma had borne him one son, Hardicanute. But he left also two 

other sons, the children of an English woman, Elgiva, 

HanM borne to him in that loose union always too common 

11 (XV € foot, 

among sovereigns of Teutonic blood. Of these Sweyn, 
the elder son, retained Norway, but was soon after dispossessed by 
Magnus, the son of Olaf the Holy. Canute apparently designed 
England for Hardicanute, but at the time of his death Hardi- 
canute was in Denmark, and Harold, known on account of his 
physical activity as Harefoot, the second son of Elgiva, attempted 
to seize the kingdom. But Godwin, the Earl of the West Saxons, 
refused to acknowledge Harold and held "Wessex for Hardicanute. 

So matters stood in England when Alfred, the eldest of Emma's 
sons by her first marriage, in an ill-advised moment landed in 
Kent in the hope of rallying the English to his support. But 
Ethelred's name roused no enthusiasm among the people, and 
possibly by the knavery of Godwin, Alfred was seized and turned 
over to Harold, who straightway put out the lad's eyes and sent 
him to Ely to die of his wounds. By this treachery Godwin 
seems to have made his peace with Harold. 

Harold was not a strong character like Canute; yet he was not 
a bad prince. The murder of Alfred was, according to the ideas 
of the times, no worse than several similar crimes laid to his 
father. The worst that is told against him is that he neglected 
Christian rites and would go hunting on Sundays. 

Harold died at Oxford after a reign of five years. His death 

probably saved England from civil war; for Hardicanute, having 

come to an understanding with Magnus, was already 
Death of , . , & -n , -, , ,i 

Harold, contemplating a descent upon England. A powerful 

party, moreover, with Godwin at their head, had never 

given up the idea of securing the crown for Emma's Danish son. 

124 DECLINE OF THE KINGDOM [hardicanupe 

When therefore it was known that Harold was dead, the witan 
at once sent an invitation to Hardi Canute to come and take the 

The first act of the new king betrayed how little of his father's 
wisdom or greatness of soul he had inherited. He ordered his 

brother's body to be thrown out into the marshes of the 
i^r^anute Thames. ^ is next ste P was to levy a Danegeld in 

order to pay the men whom he had brought with him 
from Denmark. The winter of 1040 was a severe one, and the 
people paid the tax with great difficulty. Other levies followed, 
and then the people refused to pay altogether. The earls and 
sheriffs could do nothing. Hardicanute committed the collection 
of the tax to his house-carls. Riots followed. Blood was shed 
at Worcester. Hardicanute called out the fyrd against the con- 
tumacious city, and the great earls, Godwin of Wessex, Si ward of 
Northumbria, and Leofric of Mercia, 1 gathered their men at his 
bidding, and for four days harried the shire and finally destroyed 
the town. 

At last after two years of such a reign as only such a man 
could give, Hardicanute died "as he stood at his drink." He had 

proved himself from the first a despicable tyrant. The 
m2 ' English hailed his death as a fortunate relief from a bad 

bargain, and turned with no feigned joy to greet as king the mild 
and pacific Edward, the surviving son of Emma and Ethelred. 

! The wife of this Leofric was Godgifu, the "Lady Godiva" famous 
in the legends of Coventry. 


FROM 1042 TO 1291 



HAROLD, 1066, JAN. 6- OCT. 14 


Rolf the Walker, 912-927 

William Longsword, 927-943 

Richard I. the Fearless, 943-996 

Richard II. the Good, 99C-1000 Emma = j \ ^^[^ A 

~\ I 

Richard III., 1026-1028 Robert the Devil, 1028-1035 

William the Conqueror, 
from 1036 Duke of Normandy, from 
1066 King of England. Died 1087 

The reign of Edward the Confessor may be regarded as a 

preparation for the Norman Conquest. The establishment of a 

powerful Scandinavian state on the southern shore of 

T . hc , the Channel must have exerted a direct influence upon 

shadow upon *■ 

Edward's England sooner or later. For a time, however, the 

re ion. o ' ' 

troubled sea of Neustrian politics, the opportunities 
of expansion south and west, fully occupied the attention of 
the pirate chieftains or dukes who succeeded Rolf, the founder 
of the Norman Duchy. But the marriage of Duke Richard II. 's 
sister to two kings of England in succession, the migration 
of many of her people thither, the long residence of Ethelred's 
exiled sons at the Norman court, and tho numerous and lasting 
friendships made by Edward among his mother's Norman friends, 
quickened the interest of duke and people in the neighboring king- 


126 THE SHADOW OF THE NORMAN [edward the Confessor 

dom. The spirit of intermeddling and mischief-making, more- 
over, was as strong as ever at the court of these be-Frenched 
descendants of the old sea-kings, and it required only some fancied 
grievance, some opportunity of disputing the English succession, 
to bring a new viking expedition from Normandy, more formidable 
than any which had ever sailed from Norway or Denmark. This 
is the shadow which, during the twenty-four years of Edward's 
reign, is ever deepening, ever creeping upon England from the 

Edward was peculiarly unfitted for the task which he was 
called upon to perform. He was born of an English father, whose 

personality could never have been to him more than one 
EdwarTfor of the shadowy traditions of childhood. He was 

brought up in the home of his Norman mother, where 
his father's speech was heard only as a foreign tongue; where he 
was tutored by French priests, and where all his thought was 
shaped by men who despised and disparaged his father's people as 
a nation of half-civilized boors and rustics. At forty he was 
called home to rule over this impossible people. "What wonder 
that he could never understand them ; that his native land was to 
him always a weary land of exile and that he clung with pathetic 
tenacity to the Norman friends of his youth. Edward, more- 
over, was the kind of man to spend his life in leading strings. 
Although capable of a certain kind of fitful energy, he possessed 
no power of independent action, and allowed himself to be puljed 
about by the rival elements ever at quarrel in his court. In all 
this turmoil, the poor king, long remembered for his thin figure, 
"his delicate complexion," his slender womanly hands, and his 
deep devotional nature, was unable to gather to himself any per- 
sonal following in the nation, or to exert any direct influence upon 
its thought or its ideals. Yet no king ever took his kingly office 
more seriously, or tried harder to rule as a king should. But 
Edward's delicate hands were unfitted for such rough work, and 
at last, weary in body and sick of soul, he threw down the tangled 
skein, and left it for stronger hands to unravel. History presents 
no sadder tragedy than this, when for the mere accident of birth, 
it thrusts such a man as Edward the Confessor or Henry, sixth 

1042] EAKL GODWIN 127 

of the name, into a position where his very goodness defeats 
him. Meekness was the one quality for which the medieval king 
had little need. 

When Edward assumed the crown, the one great man of the 
kingdom was Godwin, Earl of Wessex. Leofric of Mercia, or 

Siward of Northumbria, might rival him in rank; 
KarfHf' hut in actual influence and solid ability, Godwin was 

without a peer. His eldest son, Sweyn was already 
earl of the western shires of Wessex. In 1045 his second son, 
Harold, was raised to the earldom of East Anglia, to which were 
also added Huntingdon, Cambridge, and Essex; and the same 
year his daughter Edith became the wife of Edward. 

The advance of this powerful family, in the ordinary course of 
things, must have caused much jealousy and suspicion on the part 

of Edward's other English subjects. But the Norman 
OoitiHn's ' " sympathies of the king had been from the first so pro- 
popuaiiu- bounced, his favoritism for one man in particular, 
Robert of Jumieges, so conspicuous, that the English apparently 
looked with complacence upon these evidences of the growing 
strength of the Earl of Wessex, seeing in him a possible foil to the 
Norman influence which surrounded the king. The confidence of 
the people, however, received a severe shock when a few months 

after the marriage of Edith, Earl Sweyn carried off the 
Emfsweyn ^ DDess °f Leominster and proposed to make her his 

wife. The crime was a very serious one in the eyes of 
a churchly age; yet Godwin with cool indifference to public sen- 
timent, attempted to use his influence to shelter his wayward son. 
Nevertheless, the young man was outlawed and forced for two 
years to seek exile in the courts of Elanders and Denmark. The 
father's influence, however, finally prevailed over the sensitive 
conscience of Edward, and Sweyn was recalled ; but only to add 
another to his list of crimes by treacherously murdering his 
cousin Beorn, who had been given a part of Sweyn's earldom dur- 
ing his exile. The new crime raised a storm of indignation, and 
Sweyn was compelled a second time to flee for his life. The king 
publicly proclaimed him "nithing" — "the deepest term of oppro- 
brium known to English law." But Godwin still clung to his first- 

128 THE SHADOW OF THE KORMAN [eowahd the Conkkssob 

born, and not only secured a second inlawing, but persuaded the 
gentle king to restore again the forfeited earldom, which had 
remained vacant since the death of Beorn. 

The persistent fidelity of Godwin to Sweyn had not only shaken 
the confidence of the English in Godwin as a leader, but had also 
Omwthof compelled him to make serious sacrifices to the Norman 
natirmai* 11 or cour ^ P ar ty ni order to purchase their support in 
party. the witenagemot. The earldom of Hereford which 

had been recently added to Harold's possessions, was given to 
Ralph, the king's Norman nephew; the vacant see of Dorchester 
was given to one of the king's Norman priests, Ulf, who "did 
naught bishoplike," and of whom none had aught good to say; 
and most important of all, upon the death of Arch- 
bishop Edsige, Robert of Jumieges, who held the 
approaches of the king's ear as no other man in the kingdom, was 
advanced to the important see of Canterbury. But reaction had 
already set in, and Godwin was in a position to protest against 
this last act of favoritism. The king however insisted, and Rob- 
ert departed for Rome to secure the pall. Yet something was 
gained, for the king consented to the appointment to the see of 
London of Spearhafoc, an Englishman; but when Robert returned, 
he refused to consecrate Spearhafoc and appointed William, one 
of the king's Norman chaplains, in his stead. Kynsige, an Eng- 
lishman, but also of the royal chapel, had been recently made 
primate of York. 

The English or national party was now thoroughly awakened, 
and their disapproval of the king's partiality for his Norman 
The affair of ^ r ' ien ^ a was becoming every day more outspoken. This 
BouSoimeat unfortunate moment, Eustace of Boulogne, who had 
Dover, io5i. married a sister of the king, seized for a visit to the 
English court. Eustace, who was by nature a firebrand and as 
void of tact and judgment as of self-control, was not the man to 
increase the popularity of foreigners among the English. The 
crisis came when on his way home he managed to get into a brawl 
with the people of Dover, in which Eustace was beaten off after a 
pitched battle and several of his men slain. Eustace rode straight 
to the king and made his complaint, and Edward without furthor 


inquiry ordered Godwin, as Earl of Wessex, to destroy the city 
which had treated his guest so shabbily. 

Godwin was too good a politican not to see his opportunity and 
seize it. He flatly refused to march against h'is own people at the 
complaint of a foreigner. The king, vexed and angry, 
beSv^m 6 determined to appeal to the witan, who had been sum- 
Oodwii! and mone d to meet at Gloucester on September 1. God- 
win, putting himself squarely on the issue, whether 
England should be governed by foreigners or Englishmen, appealed 
to his people, and with Sweyn and Harold to support him 
marched to Gloucester under arms. The northern earls, Leofric 
and Siward, with Ralph of Hereford, also gathered their followers 
and advanced to Gloucester. 

The realm trembled on the brink of civil war; a taunt, a blow, 
the spilling of blood, never so little, and no man could tell what, or 

where the end would be. Edward was saved from the 
Outlawry of . . , , . ,. . . T . 

Goawinand crisis by the judicious advice of Leofric, who proposed 

hit! SOIIX. l l • T 

that the witan adjourn to meet at London and that in 
the interim both parties disband their forces. When the time for 
the meeting came, however, Godwin and the king were as far apart 
as ever; but Godwin's supporters, yielding to soberer second 
thought, were by no means as ready for war as they had been at 
Gloucester. When, therefore, the king refused to guarantee the 
safety of Godwin and his sons, should they present themselves at 
the witenagemot, Godwin saw that he was beaten and that noth- 
ing was left for him but flight. The sentence of outlawry was 
immediately passed as a matter of course. Even the Lady Edith 
was not beyond the malice of the court party and Archbishop 
Robert proposed that Edward complete the overthrow of Godwin 
by securing a divorce against the daughter. To the honor of 
Edward be it said, he refused to comply with the suggestion, and 
contented himself with sending Edith to a convent at Wilton, 
where she had been educated and where she was among friends. 

The foreign party were for the time supreme in the councils of 
the king, and it was doubtless with a direct view of perpetuating their 
power, that they began to turn the attention of Edward to his 
kinsman, Duke William of Normandy, as a possible successor. 

130 THE SHADOW OF THE NORMAN [edwabd tub Confessor 

This man whose shadow now for the first time falls across the 
path of English history, deserves more than a passing notice. His 
father was Duke Robert, younger son to that Duke Rich- 
Jformmidy ar( ^ * ne Good, who sent his sister Emma as a peace 
offering to Ethelred. For some reason or other, he had 
won the ugly sobriquet of Robert the Devil. But the devil in Robert 
seems to have been a harmless, good-natured sort of devil. 
Though wild, impetuous, and inconstant, and although doing 
many things in his later years that made churchmen stare, to his 
people he was always "courteous, joyous, debonaire, and benign." 
He abounded in noble deeds and loved to startle his miserly con- 
temporaries by the reckless magnificence of his charities. 

The mother of William was Arlette, the daughter of a tanner 
of Falaise, the sight of whose fair feet had captured the impetuous 
Themisfor- Robert's heart, as she stood in the brook which ran 
vPuuam'a under her father's tannery and washed the family linen. 
birth. Robert, however, had never honored Arlette by making 

her his wife, and the neglect all but cost the son his duchy. The 
proud nobles of Normandy were not such sticklers for the canon 
law, but they could not forget the stench of the tanner's hides, 
nor forgive Robert for linking their proud ducal line with the most 
detested of medieval trades. Even while Robert lived, there were 
fierce mutterings against the tanner's grandson, and when the 
report was brought back of Robert's death on his fan- 
tastical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the storm broke 
against the harmless little lad of ten. For ten years the life 
of the boy duke was preserved only by the constant watchfulness 
of his guardians, who kept him behind stone walls like a prisoner. 
In 1037 his asylum, the powerful castle of Vaudreuil, was surprised, 
and Osborn, his kinsman, stabbed as he lay in bed by the boy's side. 
It was in such turmoil as this, with the terrors of that awful 
night at Vaudreuil indelibly stamped upon his young mind, with 
the misfortune of his birth constantly flung in his teeth, 
ami training that the character of the young prince was formed. 
From his mother he inherited the sturdy limbs and 
physical strength of the peasant; from his father, the restless 
energy, the latent fire of the viking race. When he reached man's 


estate, his towering form, just short of the gigantic, surmounted 
by mighty shoulders, made him conspicuous among men famous 
for their commanding presence. No man in his army, it was said, 
could bend William's bow save William himself. Enormous 
physical strength, ever under conscious control, was naturally 
accompanied by great personal courage; "there was never beast 
nor man" whom he feared. Surrounded from childhood by 
appalling dangers, compelled to face difficulties which would have 
crushed other men, the powerful mind matured rapidly with the 
powerful body. As a boy, he was marked for discretion and 
sagacity far beyond his years. As a man, he became taciturn and 
self-reliant, but quick to accept the good counsel of others. A 
thorough master of himself in an age of lawlessness and license, 
he knew the secret of controlling others. A born ruler of men 
was this William, a drillmaster by endowment and by training. 
A child of ten, he had been left with a tainted name and defied by 
the most turbulent baronage of Europe, whose castles, in contempt 
of law, dotted every hillside, a constant menace to duke or peasant. 
Yet, at twenty, this boy duke had crushed his enemies, recon- 
quered and reorganized his duchy, extended its boundaries, and 
secured again its old commanding place among the states of the 
Capetiau confederation. But in the long and bitter struggle, 
William had hardened to the sufferings of others; Caligula could 
not be more cruel, nor Attila more violent, when the wrath of 
him was once aroused. He was as pitiless as a thunderbolt; 
where he struck, he blasted; nor did the humbleness of the victim 
appeal to his mercy. He was "the great and terrible duke 1 '; in 
his presence strong men trembled and women fainted. 

This was the man to whom the Norman party in England now 

looked for the permanent establishment of their power; and as 

the first step to that end, arranged for a visit by the 

YJ^!. of t duke to the English court. The object of the mission 

W ilham to & •' 

England, was kept a profound secret at the time, but in the light 
of passing events, it can hardly be doubted that Wil- 
liam was invited over by Archbishop Robert and other leaders of 
the Norman party, with the express purpose of securing from 
Edward some recognition of William as his heir; and that, if 

132 THE SHADOW OF THE NORMAN [ Kdw.vrd the cootessor 

Edward did not commit himself then, he did soon after William's 
return to Normandy, and sent Kobert to the court of Rouen to 
announce the decision to William. 

If this were the plan of the Norman party, they had evidently 

overreached themselves. A powerful reaction set in once more 

against the Norman policy of the court, and when the 

Triumph of 

Godwin, ' next year, Godwin and his sons returned at the head of 
a fleet, the king conscious of the 'disaffection of his 
people, was compelled to allow the Norman favorites whom he 
could no longer protect, to seek safety in flight, and himself sub- 
mit to the restoration of Godwin and his family. The triumph of 
Godwin was as complete as the use which he sought to make of his 
victory was wise and moderate. "Good laws" were pledged, and 
the sentence of outlawry turned upon Robert and Ulf and all 
"who had brought evil counsels into the land." Stigand, the 
English bishop of Winchester, was advanced to Robert's see of 
Canterbury, and Wulfwi, another supporter of Godwin, was 
appointed to Dorchester. But William of London, who was a very 
different man from either Robert or Ulf, was allowed to return to 
his bishopric, and since Svveyn was now dead, Ralph, the king's 
nephew, was also left in possession of his earldom. 

After the return of Godwin, Edward yielded himself to the 
control of the English party. The old earl, however, did not long 
survive to enjoy his triumph. He had come up to Winchester to 
keep the Easter feast with the king, and on Monday while they 
sat at meat together, the earl suddenly sank down, 
Death of probably in an apoplectic fit; he was borne from the 
April is, ms. room speechless and helpless, and "laid in the king's 
bower," where he expired three days later. Godwin 
was altogether a remarkable character. He had risen like Dun- 
stan, if not from humble life, at least from the obscurity of the 
lower ranks of the nobility, and had maintained himself at the 
head of the witan through three successive reigns. His patriotism 
is not above suspicion of self-seeking ; but what statesman of the 
age, or churchman either, is not open to the same charge? 
Politically the support of Sweyn was a serious blunder; but even 
Simon de Montfort committed a similar error, and paid a far more 

1053-1057] THE SONS OF GODWIN 133 

serious penalty. On the other hand, Godwin seems to have 
comprehended the full import of the growing 'influence of Nor- 
mandy upon English affairs, and sought to offset it by an alliance 
with Germany and Flanders, the earliest hint of the later estab- 
lished policy of English statesmen. His connection with the 
murder of Alfred the Etheling, 1 is a dark shadow upon his life 
which the modern historian with all his ingenuity can with 
difficulty dispel. In opposing Edward when in a moment 
of anger the king called for the destruction of Dover, Godwin 
was certainly right, and in his final triumph he appears as the 
forerunner of those English statesmen of a later day who know 
how to overawe kings and protect the people from their 

The English party suffered no diminution of power in conse- 
quence of the death of Godwin. Harold, his second son, whose 

gracious ways and forgiving temper had already won 
itrenouuff ^he affections of the people, succeeded to the earldom of 
warty ' teh Wessex and to all the old earl's influence among" the 

witan. Gyrth, the fourth son, was advanced to Harold's 
earldom of East Anglia, while Essex and the adjoining counties 
were given to Leofwin, a fifth son. In 1055 Si ward of North - 
umbria died and his son, Waltheof, who was a mere lad, was set 
aside to make room for Tostig, the third son of Godwin. With 
the members of this powerful family thus entrenched in the great 
earldoms, and with such Englishmen as Stigand holding the high 
places of the church, the English party had little to fear save 
from the event of a disputed succession. Here, however, was a 
real and serious danger. It was now generally accepted that 
Edward would remain childless, and in consequence of the numer- 
ous recent violations of the right of hereditary succession, no man 
knew what claims might be advanced to the vacant throne. It 

was therefore determined by the witan to send for 

Recall and .. 

death <>f Edward, the surviving son of Edmund Ironside, who 
Edwardthe , . , ° t l . .. . XT ,'. , 

Etheling, had grown to man s estate in exile in Hungary, whither 

he had been sent by the king of Sweden, and where he 

1 For the legend which connects his death with the murder of Alfred, 
see Ramsey, I, p. 468. 


had married a kinswoman of Henry II. of Germany. With his 
three children, Edgar, Margaret, and Christina, the Etheling 
now returned to England as the recognized heir of Edward the 
Confessor. But the unfortunate prince had hardly reached 
England when he suddenly sickened and died, leaving the 
little lad Edgar as the sole male representative of the line of 

If therefore Edward the Confessor had ever seriously enter- 
tained the plan of 'a Norman succession, he had evidently aban- 
doned it ; but not so the man who was to have been the 
?ath 0l io64 chief agent in carrying it out. In 1064 Harold was 
shipwrecked on the Norman coast and ultimately fell 
into William's power. The duke was quick to take advantage of 
his good fortune, and virtually forced his unwilling guest to take 
an oath to support his candidacy for the English throne; William 
on his part, pledging one of his daughters to the captive earl in 
marriage, This oath of Harold was to have the gravest political 
consequences^ since the subsequent violation of it, secured as 
it was by the most solemn sanctions which were known to the 
eleventh century, necessarily embroiled Harold with the church 
and roused a public sentiment in Europe in William's favor. 

Upon his return, however, Harold did not for one moment 
conduct himself as though he regarded the oath of any importance. 
Even Edward seemed to have forgotten William, and 
into me ' after the death of Edward Etheling, turned his 
thoughts for a moment upon the lad Edgar. But 
Edgar was poor, a child in years and experience, and without any 
definite following. If Harold and the great house of Godwin 
should support him, his claim might be made good; but Harold 
now had ambitions of his own. He was, moreover, completely in 
the king's confidence, and was quietly drifting into the place of 
Harold greatest power. Those who were in Harold's counsels, 

JalmawG therefore, were not surprised when it was reported that 
1066. the good king with his last breath had named the 

powerful earl as his successor. Edward died on the 5th of Jan- 
uary, 10G6, and the next day, the Gth, the witan who were 
present in London, met quietly, and elected and crowned Harold. 


Strange to say, however, William did not seem to know what 

had been doing at Westminster. The oath of 1064 had thoroughly 

deceived him, and when he received the report of 


prepares for Harold's coronation, he acted like one unnerved by news 

war. . . 

. of sudden calamity. His first act was to dispatch a 

messenger to Harold to protest against his perfidy and demand the 

fulfillment of the oath. At Lillebonne he assembled his Norman 

nobles, the heads of the great houses of Beaumont, 

cmmciiof Montgomery, Fitz-Osbern, and Mortimer, names then 

IAUcbonne. b J 2. , . , ' _ , ' 

strange to English ears, and by appealing to the old 
viking love of plunder which was by no means dead in the race, 
persuaded the assembly to support him in an armed protest against 
the alleged usurpation of Harold. 

To Europe William submitted his case against Harold 
'S l Euroue l un der the following counts: 

1. The alleged bequest of his cousin Edward from 
which Harold had defrauded him. 

2. The perjury of Harold, which was a crime against the 

3. The expulsion of the Normans from England in 1052 at 
the instigation of Godwin and his sons. 

4. The massacre of the Danes by Ethelred on St. Brice's Day, 

That William should take such pains to secure the moral sup- 
port of Europe shows that public sentiment was already a recog- 
nized element in international politics. 

In winning the pope, Alexander II., William found no diffi- 
culty. The outlawry of Robert of Jumieges and the election of 
Stigand had already brought the English witan into 
of Pope open conflict with the Roman Curia, which had refused 

' to recognize their right to depose an archbishop. And 
when Stigand sought to secure from the anti-pope, Benedict IX., 
the recognition which the canonical popes denied him, he had 
made the breach irreparable. When therefore William laid his 
case before the pope, the papal tribunal was already prejudiced in 
his favor and not only declared Harold guilty of perjury and 
justified William in taking up arms, but went farther and gave the 


expedition almost a semi-religious character by sending to the duke 
the consecrated banner of St. Peter, together with a sacred relic 
of the Apostle himself, to lead the invading host. 

To win the pope was also to win the council that at that time 

controlled the boy emperor, Henry IV. ; and although Germany 

had been the ally of Godwin, the vassals of the empire 

Attitude of ~ ' - r 

the imperial were encouraged to enlist under the banner of Nor- 


mandy. A pledge was further given to William to protect 
his duchy from attack during his absence; so fatal and far-reach- 
ing was the hostility of the church to the party who had outlawed 
Robert, elected Stigand, and supported the perjury of Harold. 

At the court of the French king, Philip I., William met with 
some opposition. It required no deep political insight to discern 

a menace to the future interests of the French crown in 

Attitude of 

the French the proposal of the Duke of Normandy, already over- 
powerful for a vassal, to add to his Norman posses- 
sions the kingdom of England. Yet William was not without 
powerful friends at the French court. Philip, like Henry IV., 
was a minor, and at the head of the regency was the Count of 
Flanders, William's father-in-law. While, therefore, the regeney 
openly commanded William to abandon his enterprise, secretly the 
Count of Flanders favored it and encouraged his own vassals 
to join William. Anjou also, the hereditary foe of Normandy, 
strange to say, was for the time arrayed on the side of William. 
Another ancient foe, Conan of Brittany, was removed by death, 
just at the moment when he was meditating mischief, and his suc- 
cessor, Hoel, at once sent five thousand Bretons under his own son 
to fight for William. 

But if fortune thus smiled strangely upon William, it as con- 
spicuously frowned upon Harold. First he had to face the defec- 
tion of his brother Tostig, who in the later days of 
Kti0 eneffade Edward had been driven out of Northumbria by his 
own people; but holding Harold responsible for his 
troubles he had retired to the home of his wife's father, the old 
Count of Flanders, the father-in-law of William, where he nursed 
his resentment and waited for the moment of revenge. When 
tidings of the events of January reached him, he hastened to 


Rouen, to offer his sword to his brother-in-law against his brother. 
His impatience, however, would not allow him to await the slow 
gathering of the greater armament, and the early spring saw him 
at the head of a band of Norman and Flemish mercenaries, harry- 
ing the coasts of Sussex and Kent. Harold attempted to intercept 
Tostig and his pirates, but Tostig eluded him and entering the 
North Sea passed up the English coast to the Humber, where he 
fell foul of the northern earls and was driven out to sea again. 
His further movements during this eventful summer are traced 
with difficulty. Apparently, after various unsuccessful efforts to 
rouse first Malcolm of Scotland and then Sweyn of Denmark to sup- 
port William, he finally repaired to the court of Harold Hardrada 
of Norway, and induced him to enter the lists upon his own account 
as a third applicant for the English crown. As the price of his 
support, Tostig was to be restored to his northern earldom. 

In the meanwhile the English Harold, knowing nothing appar- 
ently of this new storm which was gathering in Norway, was 
directing all his attention to the south, where he collected his ships, 
and massed his troops', and waited for William to strike. On the 
opposite coast, sheltered in the mouth of the Dives, there gathered 
at the call of William all the martial strength of northern Europe. 
The expedition had become widely popular with the young nobility, 
and from all the northern feudatories of France and from many 
of the southern as well, the wild adventurous spirits of the day 
"flocked together for the war over the sea," — "an innumerable 
host of horsemen, slingers, archers, and foot soldiers." 1 For a 
full month after all was ready, contrary winds kept the impatient 
host waiting in the Dives. But in the end this proved not a 
little to the advantage of William, though a grievous vexation at 
the time. Harold was compelled to keep his fleet in the roads 

during the whole summer. The men of the southern 
Septembers, counties lay out "fyrding," waiting while months 

dragged by and the foe did not come. The enthusiasm 
of the first muster ebbed, and when early in September, pro- 

1 Upon the number of William's armament, ships, and men, see Oman's 
History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, p. 156. 


visions began to fail, Harold was compelled to dismiss the fyrd. 
A week later the fleet also was disbanded. 

The same wind, moreover, which was keeping William and his 
host fretting in the harbors of Normandy, was now in the end of 

September bringing the other Harold with Earl Tostig 
Tmtufand an( ^ au their following. Tostig with sixty ships was 
Hardrada ^ ne ^ rs ^ ^° reac ^ the Humber but was again driven 

out to sea by the northern earls, and retired to Scot- 
land where he was joined by Harold Hardrada. The allies then 
returned, harrying the coast as they advanced. At Eiccal on 
the Humber they disembarked and leaving a strong reserve with 
their ships, marched upon York. Edwin of Mercia, and his 

brother, Morcar, to whom the witan had given Tostig's 
September 20 Northumbrian earldom, attempted to make a stand at 

Fulford, but their hasty levies were easily beaten and 
compelled to retire behind the walls of the northern capital, leav- 
ing all the country north of the Humber at the mercy of Tostig 
and his allies. 

Harold had been speedily apprised of the serious nature of the 
storm which had burst upon the north, and at once abandoning 

his watch by the Channel, by one of the most remark - 
march* a ^ e f° rce( l marches on record, was already hastening to 
BriS ford meet T° sti g and tne other Harold. He must crush 

them before the arrival of William, or all would be lost. 
On Sunday, September 24, York capitulated. On the same even- 
ing, Harold and his men were at Tadcaster, hurrying along the old 
Roman road, only a day's march away. The approach of such a 
large body of men along the dusty September roads was probably 
not unknown to the Norwegians at Kiccal, whose bands after the 
usual custom were scouring the surrounding country for forage. 
Instead of holding York, therefore, the leaders ordered up their 
reserves, and attempted to retire beyond the Derwent. But 
Harold, marching his men all night and pressing on through 
York without stopping, overtook them at Stamford Bridge some- 
time in the forenoon of Monday the 25th. The Norwegians 
apparently were in light marching order; many of them, en- 
tirely unarmed. A part had already passed to the east bank of 


the Derwent; others were in the act of filing across the long 
wooden bridge ; still others in motley groups were sitting or lying 
about the grass, waiting for their turn to advance to the crossing. 
The English under cover of the low sloping hill which shuts 
out the plain of York from the basin of the Derwent, had stolen up 

swiftly and noiselessly. The dust stirred by thousands 
stamfirrd of rapidly moving feet first betrayed their approach to 
timbers, the Norwegians in the valley. A party was hastily sent 

to the summit to reconnoiter ; and there they beheld 
the advancing host, coming swiftly on, prepared for immediate 
battle, "their shields and arms glistening like ice in the morning 
sun." There was a cry; the galloping of horses; the blare of a 
bull's-horn. Then arose the clamor of men, as the loiterers sprang 
to their arms and the leaders attempted to form the shield wall. 
Those who had already passed the stream turned about and began 
to crowd back again across the bridge. But the gleaming helmets 
and stately forms of the house-carls of Harold were already ris- 
ing above the brow of the hill. A shout, a wild plunge forward, 
and the battle was on. From the first clash of arms, Tostig and 
Harold Ilardrada had no chance of victory, little of flight. Yet 
they fought like heroes. First Harold fell and then Tostig. Then 
the half -formed shield wall was carried by the English with a rush, 
and the battle surged up to the bridge head. Here for full thirty 
minutes a gigantic Norwegian, ax in hand, held back the whole 
English army, — a deed worthy of one of Homer's heroes. Then 
another mighty surge forward of the crowd before the bridge, and 
it was won. For a moment, the Norwegians made a stand on the 
further side of the bridge, but only for a moment ; then the host, 
taken at the first unawares, with all the advantage of position 
against them, kingless and leaderless, broke and ilcd. A wild panic 
followed, and the rout soon passed into an indiscriminate massacre. 

The remnant of the smitten army rallied at Kiccal; for the 

reserve had not come up in time for the battle. With the sea open 

before them, they would bo able even yet to make 

Remits of the H aro ld much trouble, should he draw off his forces to 

the south ; but with the other war cloud still hanging 
over the southern coast, Harold could not wait; his return was 


urgent. Instead, therefore, of pushing the remnant of the smit- 
ten army to extremities, he offered the leaders generous terms, and 
soon saw them sail away to their homes. So ended the famous 
northern campaign of Harold. The superhuman endurance of 
the long march, the furious energy of the pursuit, and the com- 
pleteness of the victory, proved that Englishmen had not forgot- 
ten how to fight or their leaders how to lead. 

The battle of Stamford Bridge was fought on the 25th of Sep- 
tember. Two days later the moment came for which William 

and his barons had been so long waiting. As the sun 
T/trma™ went down on the 27tn > the g reat flagship, the gift of 
September 27. *" s w ^ e Matilda, with its crimson sails spread to the 

freshening breeze, steered out into the channel. In 
the morning the fleet with only two ships missing, which had been 
sunk probably in some nocturnal combat with the scouts of the 
enemy, came to anchor off the Pevensey coast, and by nine o'clock 
the disembarkation had begun. 

William now found himself safely landed, but face to face with 
a hostile country. He knew Harold well ; knew his energy and 

his skill. He knew also that Harold would not vield 

Difficulties of J 

William's without a battle. But when and where? A speedy 

position. . i-ii 

victory, a great crushing blow which would shatter 
Harold's power must be delivered at once. With his army to 
maintain in a hostile country, delay would be as serious as defeat. 
The 28th was spent by the Normans in the disembarkation ; 
then in true viking style, they drew their ships up on the beach, 
and leaving them under a sufficient guard, the main 
u^HwtinaT D0< ty moved along the shore to Hastings. William evi- 
dently had not heard of the landing of Tostig and 
Harold Hardrada; nor of the absence of King Harold. Instead 
therefore of marching directly upon London, he began carefully 
to fortify Hastings, digging a trench and constructing a mound 
and wooden fort. He then undertook a systematic wasting of 
the country, with the evident purpose of compelling Harold to 
come forward and fight him in this strong position. So thor- 
oughly was this work done, that when twenty years later, the 
great Domesday Survey was made, traces of the havoc of Wil- 


liam's men might still be seen. Woeful days were these for the 
people of Sussex. Village and cottage, hayrick and granary, the 
harvests of the summer just ended, went up in flame and smoke. 
Only the churches and the churchyards were spared. 

It is not so easy to follow the movements of Harold during 
these two weeks. That he could not return at once to London is 
evident. If the forced march and the hard fighting of 
n^ u1 UL^ Monday had not thoroughly exhausted his men, the vic- 
tory certainly must have disorganized his army for the 
time. In medieval warfare the one conspicuous lack of an army, 
first and last, was discipline. A victory was almost as disastrous 
as a defeat. Harold therefore was still in the north when news 
was brought him of the landing of William; 1 nor could he reach 
London much before October 5, and even then he must have pre- 
ceded his army, which was made up mostly of infantry. William 
on the other hand, apparently at the same moment heard of 
the landing of the Norwegians, the overthrow at Stamford 
Hridge, the arrival of Harold in London, and the swift approach 
of the victorious army which was following him from the north. 
William's first news, therefore, could not have been assuring, and 
prudence bade him still linger behind his trenches at Hastings. 

Harold in the meanwhile was gathering the southern levies and 

preparing a second time to hurl himself upon his foes. His 

counsellors, headed by his brother (Jyrth, advised delay. 

The advance 

tothehaiof I hey proposed to devastate the country about William 
so that neither man nor beast could live, and thus com- 
pel him either to surrender or retire. It was the counsel of a gen- 
eral. The reply of Harold was the reply of a king. He would not 
burn a single English' village nor harm a single English home; he 
had been set to protect his people, not to destroy them. 2 Within 
a week Harold was ready, and by October 12 at the latest he 
marched out of London and took the great southern road which 
led away to Hastings. On Friday the 13th, probably toward the 
end of the afternoon, he reached the fatal hill which has since been 

'Probably about October 1. According to Freeman's estimate it 
would take a horseman three days to reach York from the southern coast. 
* Freeman, N. C, pp 437-439. 


given the French name of Senlac — the name with which recent 
historians have succeeded in dubbing the battle, in spite of the 
custom of eight centuries. 

Up to this point William had intended to force Harold to attack 
him on his own ground at Hastings. But the natural strength of 

the site which Harold had chosen for his camp, his evi- 
in William's dent purpose of fortifying, a rumor that the northern 

levies under Edwin and Morcar were approaching, and 
that an English fleet was coming around by the Channel, left Wil- 
liam no choice but immediate action. Harold, if once he were 
securely fortified in his hill camp with all England at his back to 
supply him with men and provisions, could not be dislodged. 

The night was spent in the Norman camp in the impressive 
religious ceremonies appointed by the medieval church for those 

about to brave death. 1 With sun-up the Normans were 
ffwbatuJ amove; long before the third hour they had passed 

over the eight miles intervening and from the heights 
of Telham faced the line of Harold upon the opposite slope. The 
plan of Harold was simple. He had only to hold his ground and 
wear out the enemy as they dashed themselves against his lines, and 
thus compel William to retire again to his defenses at Hastings. 
Accordingly Harold's heavy armed infantry, the house-carls, 
selected each man for size and strength, clad in helmets and long 
coats of mail, armed with javelins for hurling and the terrible two- 
handed Danish ax for close counter, than whom there were no finer 
troops in Europe, were extended along the whole front, arranged in 
close order with their shields overlapping and forming the famous 
shield-wall. 2 Back of this living rampart thronged dense masses of 
half -armed yeomanry, ready to confront the' advancing foe with a 
continuous shower of darts, arrows, and stones. On the very 
crown of the hill, at the point where the ground begins to slope to 

1 For the original account of the way in which the English passed the 
night, see William of Malmsbury, a.d. 1066. Cf. Freeman's criticism and 
explanation, N. C III, 453 and 454. In all probability the English were 
not expecting to fight so soon. 

3 For criticism of Freeman's "palisades," see Round, Feudal England, 
pp. 340 and following. 

1066] HASTINGS 143 

the southeast, the spot marked to after ages by the high altar 
of William's Abbey Church of Battle, were planted the two-fold 
ensigns of England, the dragon of Wessex and the armed warrior 
advancing to battle, the latter the personal ensign of the king. 1 
Here stood Harold and the men of his house surrounded each by 
his personal following. 

William saw that it would be useless to attempt to force his 
knights, the strength of his army, upon the living shield-wall with 
the broken ground and the rising hill against them. He 
^anuTbattie mus ^ ^ rs ^ D y ordering forward his infantry, the light- 
armed archers and cross-bowmen, tempt the English to 
break their formation and then by hurling forward his cavalry, 
seek to pierce Harold's line. As Napoleon many centuries later at 
Waterloo, William proposed to alternate incessant charges of a 
powerful cavalry with a destructive fire of missiles. "Nothing 
can be more maddening than such an ordeal to the infantry soldier 
rooted to the spot by the necessities of his formation." 2 

This in a word explains the conduct of the battle. From nine 
o'clock until twelve the English withstood the alternating attacks 
of infantry and horse. Then William, who from his 
Fhe'tattte 60 * P os ^ across the valley had been watching the slow prog- 
ress of the battle, bade the archers elevate their shafts 
that they might drop upon the English from above. The 
increased execution was apparent at once. The English, standing 
in dense masses behind the shield-line, but no longer protected by 
the tall shields of the house-carls and unable to ward off the bolts 
which dropped upon them out of the eye of the October sun, were 
stung to madness, and breaking through the line of heavy infantry 
surged forward, bearing the Norman bowmen and slingers before 
them. In vain William sent forward his knights; they plunged 
into the struggling throng, but only to add to the confusion. The 
English hardly felt the shock of the cavalry, but swept on madly 
carrying all before them, infantry and horse, down the slope and 
across the valley and up the southern hill to the very spot where 
the duke sat upon his horse. Then the battle roared around him ; 

1 Freeman, N. C. , p. 474. 

2 Oman, Art of War in the Middle Ages, p. 161. 


his tall form disappeared in the crush, and the cry arose, "The 
duke is down!" "The duke is dead!" 

It was a desperate crisis for the Normans ; for a moment it 
seemed that the day was lost. But the English advance had begun 

to spend its energy as soon as it breasted the opposing 
ofihebattu ^iU- William recovered his horse, and with bared head 

galloping hither and thither among the fugitives soon 
brought them back to their places. Harold's men also slowly 
retired to their former position, and succeeded in regaining the 
formation of the morning, but they no longer retained their former 
steadiness. William, moreover, had discovered their weakness, 
and by skillfully combining an attack and a feigned retreat with a 
well-directed counter charge of horse, this time probably delivered 
from the flanks, he was at last able to thrust his horsemen through 
the gaps in the English line, and the day was won. "Let us pic- 
ture the English line, stubbornly striving to the last to close its 
broken ranks; the awful scene of slaughter and confusion, as the 
Old Guard of Harold, tortured by Norman arrows, found the 
horsemen among them at last, slashing and piercing right and left. 
Still the battle ax blindly smote, doggedly, grimly; still they 
fought, till the axes dropped from their lifeless grasp, and so they 
fell." 1 

Of those who saw Harold fall none lived to tell the story. Not 
a man of his personal following fled ; not a man was taken prisoner. 
His brothers, Gyrth and Leofwin, his nephews, Sweyn's sons, all 
perished by his side. Many conflicting traditions concerning the 
fate of the king sprang up in a later day when the people under 
the Norman yoke remembered his gracious ways and just dooms; 
but the men who stood upon that bloody hillside in the morning, 
when the Sabbath sun rose upon the ghastly remains of the strug- 
gle of Saturday, did not know what had become of Harold. A 
disfigured body was found lying between Gyrth and Leofwin and 
was buried by William's orders. At the time it was thought to be 
the body of Harold. Probably it was; but whether Harold or not, 
it mattered little with the result. The die had been cast, and 
William had won. 

'Round, F. E., p. 390. 



EDGAR, OCT.-DEC, 1066 
WILLIAM I., 1066-1070 

The night of the 14th of October William and his weary troops 

lay amid the sickening horrors of the spent battle. The next day, 

the Christian Sabbath, he tarried to bury his dead, 

withdraws to and then withdrew to Hastings to rally the exhausted 

HastiiH/s. . . , . , . 

energies of his men and prepare tor his next move. 
The caution of William at this time is easily explained. An unknown 
country lay before him; he was without maps; he was ignorant 
of distances and locations. Edwin and Morcar were not far 
off with a second army, supposed to outnumber the one which he 
had just overthrown. 1 It is known also that William was expect- 
ing reinforcements, which actually reached him shortly after the 
battle and enabled him to fill up his broken ranks. Here certainly 
was reason enough for delay. William incurred no risk. He was 
as safe behind his earthen ramparts at Hastings as ever. It is 
possible, moreover, that William thought also that now Harold 
was dead the English would come to him of their own accord and 
offer their allegiance. 2 

If, however, William entertained the hope that the English 

would bring the crown to him he soon found that he was seriously 

mistaken. We have it upon the authority of his chap- 

The English , . . . . _ r _. , / TT ,. f 

demanda lain that not a single Englishman came to Hastings to 

do him homage. England was kingless; but the people 

1 Edwin and Morcar must have passed through London, not many 
hours after the departure of Harold ; they were so near the fatal field on 
the 14th that the chroniclers did not hesitate to make their slow going 
responsible for Harold's defeat. In the next century they are accused of 
actually abandoning the field. 

2 The sole motive assigned for William's delay in the Chronicle 
II, p. 168(22. &). 



had no thought of submission. Edwin and Morcar with the 
northern levies had fallen back upon London, and their presence 
put fresh heart into the citizens. From the more distant shires 
also the reserves had continued to press into the city and swell the 
ranks of the patriot army. Then came the fugitives from Hast- 
ings, the wreckage of Harold's army, and the people for the first 
time learned with what glory their king had died with the "corpse- 
ring" about him. Their ardor broke forth in wild exultation, and 
they began to call loudly for a new king to lead them against the 

The witan hastily gathered to do what could be done to 
save the state. All saw that they must accept William, or at once 
elect another king to take Harold's place. But upon 
Edgar whom should their choice fall? The Norman church- 

men, of whom there were still many in the kingdom, 
favored William. The Mercian and Northumbrian influence 
favored Edwin, who commanded the only army in the field; but 
the men of the southern shires and the men of the fleet vigorously 
opposed both, until at last in sheer desperation the witan fixed 
their choice upon the little lad Edgar, the grandson of Edmund 
Ironside. The people, however, were greatly pleased ; the bards 
sang of the boy king as "England's darling"; men talked wildly 
of Athelney and Edington and affected to believe that like Alfred 
Edgar would overthrow the invader and win again the land. 

In the meanwhile William lay quietly at Hastings gathering 
his strength for the renewal of the struggle. On the 20th of 
October, six days after the battle, he led his troops out 
paumin of the city and took up his march toward Romney. 
For instead of moving directly upon London he pro- 
posed first to secure the great fortress which Harold had recently 
erected at Dover. Romney apparently attempted to resist him, 
and was burned. Dover castle surrendered on his approach; but 
the city suffered the fate of Romney, although William wished to 
spare it. William now held the keys of England; Dover and 
Hastings were in his hands, and his communications with Nor- 
mandy were secure. The moral effect of tho burning of Romney 
and Dover had also gone before him ; other cities, conspicuously 



Canterbury, hastened to get what terms' they could, and in a few 
weeks the whole country south of the Thames and as far west as 
Winchester had formally submitted. 

William spent a month before Canterbury in occupying and 
organizing these regions; but by December I he was again in the 
saddle and moving along the old Roman road through 
of'tiie Ur Rochester toward London. Southwark, the southern 

suburb of London, was taken and burned; but with the 
English fleet commanding the Thames it was impossible to cross the 
river at that point. Instead, therefore, of wasting his strength in 
futile attempts to throw his army into the city from the South- 
wark side William moved up to the bridge of Wallingford, the old 
causeway between Mercia and Wessex, and turning the river coun- 
termarched to the east, and again drew near to London by way of 

The slow but irresistible advance of William had long since 
begun to affect the spirits of the motley throng gathered in Lon- 
don. The first enthusiasm of the people over their 

stonatBerk- child king had given way to universal depression, and 
hampstcad. _ . . ... mi , , 

depression was fast passing into panic. 1 lie leaders, 

who from the beginning had no confidence in each other and little 
hope in the final issue, were thinking only of securing the best 
terms possible from the victor, each man for himself. Some, as 
Archbishop Stigand, had already met William at Wallingford and 
submitted to him there. Others, as Edwin and Morcar, had with- 
drawn to their own lands, hoping no doubt to be able to make 
better terms with William from a distance. Even stout-hearted 
old Anscar, the sheriff of Middlesex, who had dragged himself 
home from Hastings sore wounded, to direct the defense of Lon- 
don, saw the hopelessness of attempting to hold the city, and bowed 
before the grim necessity of the hour. Messengers, moreover, were 
at hand with gracious words from William: he had come not as a 
foreign conqueror but as a king to claim his own; it was his inter- 
est to deal kindly with his kingdom; his quarrel had been with 
Harold and not with the people; Harold had appealed to the 
sword, and Heaven had decided which man had the juster cause; 
all that William asked of the people was that they submit to the 

148 THE CONQUEST [wiluam I. 

arbitration of battle and accept him as a lawful candidate for the 
vacant crown. The message had the desired effect, and when 
William reached Berkhampstead he found waiting to receive him 
a group of English nobles, including with Edgar virtually all who 
were, left in the city, William knew how to be gracious when 
policy demanded it. The little lad Edgar, the "uncrowned king," 
he received with a kiss and pledged his word that he would be to 
him a faithful lord. The leaders also, Bishop Eldred of York and 
others, he spoke fair; and they either then or soon after requested 
him to assume the crown. 

The request was not mere servile flattery. England was in dire 
need. For two months the land had been virtually without a king. 
The presence of an invading army had also added to the confusion. 
Trade and commerce had come to a standstill. Men ceased their 
ordinary pursuits. Every one waited for the issue. Even a for- 
eign king were better than the continuance of the present suspense. 

William accepted the trust, and fixed upon the approaching 

Christmas feast for the coronation. He, however, hesitated to 

trust himself to the men of London, and sent forward a 

Pvd T) CLFfl t lOTtS 

for detachment of his own soldiers to prepare such a for- 

coronation. : +s .. . ., 

tress as he had already erected at Hastings, in order to 

overawe the city and provide a rallying point for his people in case 

of tumult or reaction. 1 When these preparations were completed 

William entered the city. 

At last the holy morning came. All London was early astir 

and poured out toward Edward's stately cathedral at Westminster. 

A guard of Norman troopers lined the approaches com- 
mon ™f r wu- man ding the neighboring squares. "Within the church 
l 25™Je Dcc ' a ^ was * n rea< iiness; a new crown, rich with gems, was 

ready for the ceremony ; a crowd of spectators of both 
nations filled the minster. The great procession then swept on. 
A crowd of clergy bearing crosses marched first; then followed the 
bishops; lastly, surrounded by the chief men of his own land and 
of his new kingdom, came the renowned duke himself with Ealdred 

1 Tradition has erroneously associated this fort with the famous 
Tower which was not begun until 1078. 


and Stigand on either side of him. Amid the shouts of the 
people William the Conqueror passed on to the royal seat before 
the high altar, there to go through the same solemn rites, which 
had so lately been gone through in the same spot by his fallen 
rival. The Te Deum which had been sung over Harold was now 
again sung over William, and now again in ancient form the crowd 
that thronged the minster was asked whether they would that the 
candidate who stood before them should be crowned king over the 
land. . . . Then the assent of both nations was given in ancient 
form. The voices which in the Epiphany had shouted, 'Yea, yea, 
King Harold,' shouted at Christinas with no less of seeming zeal, 
'Yea, yea, King AVilliam. ' . . . The shout rang through the min- 
ster; it reached the ears of the Norman horsemen who kept watch 
round the building." 1 

Then there came a change, a diversion in the ceremony, not 
found in the ancient ritual. The Normans without, at best but 
clumsy participants in a pageant to them so unwonted, had grown 
restless and uneasy under the pressure of surging crowds ; they were 
irritated by jibes and taunts, the words of which they could not 
interpret but the spirit of which they understood only too well; 
and when they heard the shouting within the church, to them it 
was the beginning of a tumult, and seeking no doubt to divert the 
people and save their duke they began to fire the neighboring 
buildings. The glare of leaping flames smote upon the walls of the 
old minster and pierced the groined windows; fitful gleams darted 
across the crowded aisles and reached the distant chancel where 
the newly chosen king knelt before the altar. The vast audience 
were filled with nameless dread; then panic seized the people 
and they rushed forth to swell the greater confusion without. 
Even William was not unmoved and for the moment responded to 
the terror that had taken hold upon the multitude. Then the 
officiating clergy crowded about him, and the solemn ceremony 
went on again. In ill-disguised agitation the duke took the 
ancient oath of the English king. The trembling hand of Eldred 
of York, for the uncanonical Stigand had been denied the honor, 

1 Freeman, N. C. , III, 5p7 and followw^ 

150 THE CONQUEST [wilmam i. 

poured the holy oil upon the bowed head, placed the rod and 
scepter in the royal hands, and set the diadem upon the royal head. 
Thus at last everything had been done according to legal form, 
and William was king of the English. 

The moral effect of the coronation was apparent at once. Wil- 
liam was now king; it was worse than useless to resist him 

further. The northern earls were satisfied that William 
cffnmaiion? would be content with nothing short of the England 
tf«K£rth- of Edward. They had little to fear from a winter 
em, earls. campaign, but the early spring would certainly bring 
William and his Norman army upon them. His reputation also 
was now well established; "debonaire to those who submitted, but 
stark beyond measure to those who withstood him." Those who 
hesitated, therefore, felt that precious days of grace were slipping 
away. Only by immediate submission could they save their lands 
and their titles. Accordingly Edwin and Morcar, with a con- 
course of northern thanes and prelates, came and submitted to 
William at Barking, whither he had retired soon after the corona- 
tion. The king displayed the same gracious spirit which had won 
the nobles at Berkhampstead. Edwin and Morcar were received 
with the deference which became their station; they were allowed 
to retain their earldoms and to enjoy their former semi-inde- 
pendence. No castles were built in their territories; no garrisons 
were sent into their cities. William, it is said, even had a fancy 
for the handsome young Mercian earl as a son-in-law. 

The position of William at this time was one of great strength. 
England had submitted to him ; her nobles and prelates had given 

him their allegiance,, and the witan had regularly 
wuiiam bestowed upon him the crown. Yet he was surrounded 

by many conflicting interests, and could move only with 
the utmost caution. He sought to explain his relation to his Eng- 
lish subjects upon the gracious theory of lawful succession to 
Edward the Confessor. The usurpation of Harold, as he chose to 
regard it, had forced upon him an unpleasant duty. Now that the 
duty had been performed he would have Englishmen forget his 
part in the transaction. He came not as a foreign conqueror to 
set aside their laws, but to vindicate them and establish again the 


reign of order. But, however plausible the theory, the ugly fact 

could not be covered up that William was really a conqueror and 

that he held his conquest not by the loyal affection of the English 

but by the support of an army of foreign mercenaries. This host 

moreover one and all from the king's brother down, had been 

encouraged to follow him by promises of unlimited plunder. JS T ovv 

that they had spent their resources and had shed their blood, they 

expected, not without reason, that the promise of William would 

be fulfilled. 

Here, then, was the serious problem which confronted William. 

How was he to fulfill the terms of the coronation oath which he had 

made in the presence of his new subjects and vet 
TheposUim ,,,,,. , , i , 

of William keep the other promise no less sacred, as men regarded 

tin English pledges in those days, which ho had given to those who 
had made his coronation possible. How William began, 
apparently in all good faith, to tread the narrow path thus 
marked out for him, and how the shortsightedness of the English, 
their unfortunate attempts at revolt, simplified the task and 
enabled the king while keeping the letter of his coronation oath 
to rob them of their lands and reward his followers, and thus erect 
upon the very laws of England the throne of the conqueror, com- 
pletes the chapter of conquest. 

At the first, however, William evidently determined to give 
the English no cause to complain. While he was at Barking, pos- 
sibly even before leaving Westminster, he had granted 
FhcEnniish^ ^° London its famous charter. In it he assured the 
burghers that no man should be disturbed in any right 
or possession which had been his before the Normans came; no 
child should be defrauded of his inheritance. All rights were to 
be enjoyed by the city as freely as in the days of Edward. 1 Out- 
side of the city also William soon gave the people to understand 
that they had naught to fear as long as they obeyed his laws. The 
regions which he occupied were strictly policed, and all evil-doers 
were severely punished. Special solicitude was manifested in pro- 
tecting the traveler and the merchant as they journeyed on the 

1 For charter see Stubbs, S. C. , p. 83. 


king's highway. Civil officers were exhorted not to bring the 
king's service into disrepute by unseemly zeal. Military officials 
were to deal with the conquered people with patience and gentle- 
ness; subordinate officers and common soldiers were forbidden to 
plunder ; license and even drunkenness were declared offences 
against the military code. Special military courts also were estab- 
lished, where complaints might be lodged and where punishment, 
without regard to birth or nationality, was promptly meted out to 
the unfortunate soldier who fell into evil ways. 

So much William did for his conquered subjects. Yet he had 

not forgotten his pledges to the men who had followed him over 

seas, and in order to reward them he confiscated the 

cation* of estates of all who had gone down to Hastings with 


Harold. In some counties, as Berkshire, very few of 
Harold's thanes had survived the battle ; but the broken families, 
doubly distraught by the loss of husband or father, found no mercy 
in William's eyes; their lands were taken from them and turned 
over to strange lords. So thorough was the work that when the 
famous survey was made at the close of William's reign, 1 there were 
whole counties 2 in which not a single landowner of English birth 
was to be found. From these estates, the number of which reached 
up into the thousands, reinforced by the enormous holdings of 
Harold and his brothers, by the old crown lands, and by the per- 
sonal estates of the Confessor, 3 which also fell to the spoil of war, 

'Seep. 171. 2 Kent and Sussex. 

3 The old theory which explained folk-land as "public land '' in dis- 
tinction from book-land or private land, and left a large residuum of this 
unclaimed land to be confiscated by William and turned into King's-land, 
terra regis has been generally abandoned. Folk-land was land held by 
common or customary law— folk-right — and was the ordinary form under 
which the great mass of landowners held their estates. Book-land was 
land held under special privileges granted by book or charter — book-right 
— and was the form under which churches, monasteries, and grandees often 
held lands, although they might also hold land by folk-right. The only 
public lands known to the old English state were the Crown lands or official 
estates of the king, which might be held either as folk-land or book-land. 
For distinction between folk-land and book-land see Vinogradoff in Eng- 
lish Hist. Review, Vol. Ill, pp. 1-17, and Maitland, Domesday and Beyond 
pp. 226-258. 


William was enabled not only to reward his friends, but to reward 
them in a right princely way and still retain the lion's share for 

In this wholesale plunder of his English subjects in order to 
enrich his Norman following, technically William did not violate 
his coronation oath ; for in accordance with his theory 
of the of rightful succession those who opposed him were rebels, , 

and by the laws of medieval warfare had forfeited both 
their lives and their goods. The transfer of proprietorship also 
was not effected in any violent or arbitrary manner, but by the 
regular action of the courts and as a result of due process of law. 
Later William's chaplain could say that no land which was bestowed 
upon Frenchmen had been taken from Englishmen unlawfully. 
William, moreover, had no thought of molesting the great body of 
English landholders; even those who held lands of lords who had 
been condemned, that is, the minor thanes and the more wealthy 
ceorls, were not disturbed. The confiscation and regrant gave to 
the new landlord no rights or powers which the old landlord did 
not possess. On rent day the new lord might exact the tithe fixed 
by customary law, but not a grain more. He had simply slipped 
into the place of the old lord, with all his rights and duties 

Another measure which also dates from this period and which 
has been variously interpreted, was the so-called re-purchase of 
titles, imposed upon those landholders who had not been 
oftmex ChrmC disturbed by the confiscations. William, in the begin- 
ning at least, possibly did not intend the measure as a 
means of extortion, but rather to hasten the return of quiet. If a 
man felt any uncertainty about the title to his lands he had simply 
to present himself to the royal commissioners, name his lands and 
lay down his gift or fee, when he received the lands back again and 
with them a title which no man could question. No show of force 
was necessary on William's part. The people were evidently as 
much interested as the king, and were glad to get an opportunity 
to secure their titles and take up again the old peaceful course of 
their lives. It is noteworthy that the transaction passed off with- 
out conflict and without the shedding of a drop of blood. 


Affairs were thus moving smoothly enough when William unfor- 
tunately determined to leave his new kingdom in the hands of his 
brother, Bishop Odo, and his old friend, William Fitz- 
wtmamto Osbern, as regents and return to Normandy. With the 
Normandy, exception of Osulf in upper Northumbria, Northumber- 
land, the northern earls had accepted William as overlord. 
In the southwest Devonshire and Cornwall still held aloof. In 
Herefordshire and other places on the Welsh border there still 
smoldered a lingering spirit of defiance. The Welsh princes also 
had refused homage. Yet the kingdom had been won, and with no 
rival in the field to rally these broken fragments William had 
nothing to fear, especially as he was careful to take with him to 
Normandy as his guests Edwin, Morcar, and Waltheof , with Edgar 
and Stigand — hostages undoubtedly for the good behavior of 
the nation during his absence. 

There is no evidence that William's suspicions at this time 
extended further than this. He had begun forts at Hastings and 
London, and had garrisoned Harold's fortress at Dover. 
" 'it'poUcu to ^ e na( ^ a * s0 De g un a castle at Norwich and probably at 
«cwjie he Hereford. He had, moreover, made Odo earl of Kent 
and Fitz-Osbern earl of Hereford, with special military 
powers such as Harold and his brothers had once possessed under 
Edward. But these measures had been prompted either by the 
temporary needs of the late campaign, or by the hostility of the 
Welsh and the threat of a new Danish invasion, rather than by 
any purpose of overawing the people. After the insurrections of 
the next two years had taught William the temper of the people, 
castles shot up over the kingdom like mushrooms, and their pur- 
pose was obvious enough. As yet, however, it was in accordance 
with William's policy to make an ostentatious show of confidence 
in his English subjects ; and although he refrained from appointing 
new earls to take the places of Harold and his brothers, he con- 
tinued to leave Edwin and Morcar undisturbed, and apparently had 
no thought of making further changes in the system under which 
Edward the Confessor had held the crown. 

The spring and summer William spent in his beloved Normandy 
in a peaceful but somewhat vainglorious succession of fetes in 

1067] DISTURBANCES OF 1067 155 

honor of his recent successes and the safe home-coming. Affairs in 

England, however, were not moving so smoothly. William had 

invested one Copsige, an Englishman of rank, with the 

Affairsin earldom of Northumberland, and sent him to unseat 
England. ' 

summer Osulf and hold the northern earldom in his name. At 

(if 1007. 

first Copsige had been successful, but later he was 
surprised and slain by Osulf and his supporters scattered. Here- 
fordshire also was the scene of other reverses, where in spite of the 
efforts of William Fitz-Osbern, one Edric the Wild, an English- 
man, had continued to maintain himself, and in midsummer sup- 
ported by the Welsh princes, Bledyn and Rhiwallon, had swept 
through the shire, ravaging the country and treating the unhappy 
Englishry as his enemies. A third disturbance, which was more 
of the nature of an English rising, broke out at Dover, caused 
directly by the stupid oppression of Odo; and although the effort 
signally failed it produced an uneasiness and suspicion among the 
resident Normans which in turn reacted upon the English. 

Early in December William returned. The condition of the 
kingdom, as described by Ordericus, was on the whole quite satis- 

m . . , factory. "All the cities and provinces which he had 
j ne returnoj J ± 

December himself visited or had occupied with garrisons obeyed 
1067. his will ; but on the frontiers of the kingdom, in the 

northern and western districts, the same wild independence pre- 
vailed which formerly made the people insubordinate, except when 
they pleased, to the kings of England in the times of Edward and 
his predecessors. " ' In accordance with the custom of English kings, 

William called together his witan to keep the Christmas 
oi irl's/S^ feast with him at Westminster and inquire into the 
m-7 Dec ' 25 ' s t a te °f the kingdom. Here we see him at his best, as 

with that gracious affability which so well became him 
when he chose to assume it, he received the bishops and nobles; 
"when they made any request it was graciously granted, and he 
listened favorably to what they reported or advised . . . some- 
times he gave instructions to the Normans with equal care and 
address; at others he privately warned the English to be continu- 

1 Ordericus Vitalis, Bk. IV, 11. 


ally on their guard in all quarters against the crafty designs of their 
enemies." * 

Two matters of prime importance are connected with this mid- 
winter assembly of 1067. One was the trial of Eustace of Bou- 
logne, who had encouraged the men of Dover in their 
oeid revived, recent revolt — the same Eustace who had made so 
much trouble for Edward the Confessor seventeen years 
before. 2 Another incident generally associated with this council 
was the setting of "a heavy tax on the poor people." Here with- 
out question is the Danegeld again, the only tax known to English 
kings. Moreover there was pretext enough for such a levy at this 
time, for Canute's nephew, Sweyn of Denmark, encouraged by 
English refugees, was seriously contemplating the setting up of a 
rival claim to the English throne. It was probably also at this 
witenagemot that William filled the vacant see of Dorchester by 
the appointment of Eemigius of Fecamp, the first Norman bishop 
appointed to an English see after the Conquest. 

Upon the breaking up of the witenagemot William turned his 
attention to the reduction of the parts of his kingdom which still 
refused to do him homage. How far the shires which 
The rising in lay beyond Winchester had submitted we do not know. 
west, ma. The bishops of Hereford and Glastonbury had yielded, 
but the people of these western shires were by no means 
reconciled to the new rule. A feud at home had withdrawn the 
Welsh princes from the invasion of Hereford, but at Exeter, the 
great city of the west, the discontent was assuming every day a 
more formidable aspect. William learned, moreover, that the 
citizens were sending out messengers through the neighboring 
shires and actively preparing to take the field in the spring. He 
determined, therefore, to surprise his foes by a winter campaign 
and by striking at Exeter prevent the intended rising. Bridport, 
Wareham, Dorchester, and Shaftsbury were burned. Twenty years 
later, when the survey was made, the shire had not recovered ; at 
Bridport not a house was able to pay taxes. 3 As William drew 

1 Ordericus Vitalis, Bk. IV, 11. 

2 For jurisdiction of William over Eustace see Freeman, N. C, p. 129. 

3 Freeman, N. C, IV, p. 151. 

1068] RISING OF 1068 157 

near Exeter a body of leading citizens met him and abjectly sub- 
mitted. But the people rose in fury and refused to acknowledge 
the act of capitulation. In vain William insisted on the binding 
authority of the submission of the leaders; he brought before 
the city one of the unfortunate hostages, and in view of the citi- 
zens put out his eyes. The inhuman sight only roused the people 
to greater fury. Then for eighteen days William sat down before 
the city and took it at last only by reason of the Norman's superior 
knowledge of siege warfare. The townsmen prayed for mercy, ami 
William, still the debonaire king to those who submitted, granted 
the prayer. The founding of the inevitable castle followed ; the 
fosse, the mound and the massive fort surmounting all, forms with 
which Englishmen were fast becoming only too familiar. A con- 
fiscation of lands also followed as a matter of course, but as in the 
case of those in the east the humbler landholders were left undis- 
turbed. The lands which belonged to the Godwin family, which 
were very extensive in the western counties, were seized, but God- 
win's daughter, Edward's widow, was not molested. It is to be 
noted that William's army in the campaign against Exeter was 
composed largely of Englishmen. The foreigners who had won 
Hastings for him had now either been dismissed or distributed 
through the country in permanent garrisons. 

The western rising, unlike the attempt at Dover, seems to have 

been something more than a local outbreak. The presence of 

Harold's mother and sons within the walls of Exeter, 

Nature of 

the rizina of evidently no mere accident, gives some dignity to the 
stand of the people of the west, and makes it appear 
as a sort of forlorn hope of the family of Godwin. Was it more 
than this? Was there any expectation of a concerted rising of the 
northern earldoms as well, any widely extended plot by which all 
the disaffected elements of the nation were to combine for one last 
heroic stand against the Conqueror? If so the unexpected winter 
campaign of William had effectually prevented the north from act- 
ing, and the men of Exeter were left to brave William's wrath 

So quick and sharp had been the work of the campaign that 
by the end of March William was able to hold the Easter assem- 

158 THE CONQUEST OF ENGLAND [william i. 

bly at Winchester. Six weeks later he was again at Westminster 
where he kept the Pentecost, the third assembly of the winter. 
This gathering was made eventful by the introduction of a 
new feature in the court history of English kings, no less 
than the public recognition of William's wife Matilda 

Matilda, the . , . _ . v ... 

first EnyiUih by a coronation. Ever since the wives of English kings 


have shared with their consorts "all the honorary dig- 
nities and privileges of royalty." 1 

In the summer the belated movement in the north at last broke 
forth. Edwin and Morcar fled the court to put themselves at 

the head of the rising. The real leaders, however, 
oUhcfmrih were the brave Gospatrick, whom William himself had 
^f mcr, recently sent into the north to take up the work of 

Copsige, and Maerlesweyn, Harold's sheriff of Lincoln, 
who had brought with him out of London Edgar Etheling and his 
sisters. Malcolm of Scotland had also pledged his support and was 
expected to invade England in force. But from the first Edwin 
and Morcar had little heart in the undertaking, and when William 
began a slow but masterful march northward through Mercia, 
building and fortifying as he advanced, their courage ebbed and 
they were glad to be received back again into their old dependent 
relation. The two earls had brought little to the patriot cause; 
but they took much when they abandoned it. Their submission 
disheartened and discouraged those who ought never to have 
depended upon them. Malcolm's army of Scots failed to material- 
ize, and finally Maerlesweyn with Edgar and his sisters retired into 
Scotland to find a safe exile at the court of the Scottish king. 

By the time William reached Nottingham the rising had already 
subsided. York, the second city of the kingdom, quietly allowed 

him to take possession and rear a Norman castle on the 
tirmofthe high ground within the southern quarter. Here he left 

in command three of his most trusted captains, Robert 
Fitz-Hichard, Gilbert of Ghent, and William Malet, an English- 
man, and after making peace with Malcolm began the homeward 
march, retiring by way of Lincoln, Cambridge, and Huntingdon, 

1 Freeman, N. C, IV, p. 179. 


in each city building a castle and establishing a permanent gar- 

When William neared London disquieting news again reached 
him from the west, where the sons of Harold, who had escaped 

from Exeter to Ireland, had returned to the Bristol 
s,, ns in the coast with a fleet of fifty ships, manned by Irish Danes. 

They first attempted to enter Bristol, but the people 
gave them little encouragement. They then descended upon 
Somerset, but the English levies, apparently without any Norman 
help at all, rallied and drove them off. 

William must have taken deep satisfaction in the results of the 
summer's work. The northern earls had proved themselves devoid 

of spirit, and what had promised to bo a serious rising 

contcntof had collapsed almost at the first rumor of William's 

the Enolinh. T1 . . TT . . . , 

northward march. In the west the sons of Harold had 

failed to awaken anything but hostile sentiment among their coun- 
trymen, and had been ignobly beaten off by the English them- 
selves, like any common pirates. Yet William could hardly be 
blind to the fact that the country was seething with discontent, 
and that the English were everywhere dissatisfied and disloyal. 
They had generally yielded obedience to the new government, but 
their obedience was sullen, without heart and inspired only by fear. 
In reorganizing and restoring the government William had 
found his greatest dilliculty at the point where the administration 

came into contact with the local institutions which 
sccuriiiycu- depended for their efficiency upon the support of the 

people, lie first tried the experiment of ruling English- 
men by Englishmen; but he could not find Englishmen of stand- 
ing who were willing to bear the opprobrium of entering into the 
foreign king's hire, and ho was shrewd enough to see that it was 
worse than useless to attempt to enforce laws by means of agents 
for whom the community had no respect. Vet the laws must be 
observed; the authority of the courts must be maintained. The 
king had no recourse, therefore, save to turn to his own people. 
At first he had confined the Normans to tho strictly military duty 
of castle guarding, but little by little he now began to introduce 
them into such civil offices as those of sheriff and portreeve — 


the one the chief magistracy in the shire, the other the chief 
magistracy in the great merchant town. Here, however, he was 
confronted by a new problem. The English rapidly developed a 
hatred for the Norman sheriffs and portreeves,' only one degree less 
bitter than their hatred for the turncoat Englishmen who had been 
willing to soil their hands with the king's money. With every 
day, therefore, the difficulty of punishing crime or enforcing law 
was increasing. Even good men did not hesitate to protect out- 
laws or baffle the king's officers in the pursuit of a criminal. The 
Norman official, moreover, understood the English tongue indiffer- 
ently ; he knew less about English customary law, and was inclined 
to treat the rights of the people with contempt, often giving his 
decisions in an arbitrary, off-hand way in defiance of all precedents 
Juiown to the people. 

It was perhaps at this time, when William was struggling with 
the question of local order, that there grew up the custom of requir- 
ing Presentment of Enylisliry. 1 The English, in despair 
Fresentmen/ f securing justice, especially when the legal adversary 
happened to be a Norman often took the law into their 
own hands ; secret murders increased at an alarming rate, and as 
conviction was impossible, William, in order to protect his foreign- 
born subjects, empowered the sheriff, in case the victim proved to 
be a Frenchman and the hundred did not produce the murderer 
within a week, to levy a penalty of forty-six marks upon the hun- 
dred itself. The response of the English was to strip the body 
and mutilate it beyond recognition. The law officers then 
assumed that a body found thus disfigured must be the body of a 
Frenchman, and laid the burden upon the hundred of proving by 
the process of Presentment of Englishry that the victim was not 

Thus the feeling was rapidly gaining ground among the 
English that under the Norman there was no redress. William 
sought to allay the discontent by sending home more of his Nor- 

1 This custom which was generally established in the reign of Henry 
I., was formerly supposed to date from the laws of Canute, but it is now 
assigned to the early Norman period and undoubtedly grew out of the 
efforts of William to protect his own people. 


mans and Flemings. But this only weakened him, while it did not 
materially diminish the ill-will of his new subjects. He could not 
enforce the laws ; he could not prevent Englishmen and Normans 
from preying upon each other. 

"When William assembled the midwinter witenagemot of 1008 
nothing of all this was yet apparent on the surface. The land 

was everywhere quiet, save in the distant earldom of 
xarix at nur- G'ospatrick, and to this extreme northern earldom 

William now turned his attention. For the third time 
in two years he selected an earl for the troublesome province. The 
new earl was one Robert of Comines, probably a Flemish adventurer, 
of whom nothing is known, save his fatal errand in quest of the dan- 
gerous prize which he had drawn in the court lottery. . He entered 
Durham without opposition; the adventurers who attended him 
spread over the town and began to treat it as a captured city. But 
the fyrd of Northumberland had quietly approached the city under 
cover of the night, and in the morning, breaking down the gates, 
entered the streets and began a massacre of Robert's men. Quarter 
was neither asked nor given, and in a few hours Robert and all 
his knights save one had been destroyed. 

The affair at Durham was the beginning of the grave troublos 
of William's reign. The massacre of a paper earl and a few hun- 
dred adventurers was perhaps not a serious matter, but the wild 
spirit of the north was at last abroad. A series of revolts suc- 
ceeded each other, each more desperate and bloody, as the utter 
hopelessness of the struggle became more apparent ; William on 
his part very perceptibly hardened under the repeated irritation, 
and finally abandoned his policy of conciliation altogether for a 
policy of brutal coercion. 

York imitated the example of Durham. William Malet, who 
was now in sole command, was compelled to retire into the castle 

and stand a regular siege. The rising was by no means 
Yor^ii'irl 1 ' 1 a merei y thoughtless local tumult. The reappearance 
umt he °^ ^gar an d Maerlesweyn, of Gospatrick and the most 

of the northern leaders gave it a fairly representative 
character. William fully realized the importance of prompt and 
energetic action, and roused himself to unusual exertion. He 


reached York by a forced march, sweeping down upon the city as 
swiftly and mercilessly as a bird of prey upon its quarry. For 
eight days he remained, and then retired to Winchester to hold 
the Easter feast, leaving Fitz-Osbern in command. York had 
yielded but the country was by no means reduced. A second 
castle was reared within the city. An expedition was also sent 
to Durham to punish its people but accomplished nothing. A 
rally of the fyrd of Yorkshire, however, was beaten by Fitz-Osbern 
not far from York, and for the moment the danger had passed. 
Edgar retired to Scotland, and the leaders went into hiding. 
The sons of Harold, who were again troubling the western coast, 
were beaten in Devonshire by the local levies, and after the loss 
of seventeen hundred men were glad to escape to their ships. It 
was their last attempt ; they disappear soon afterwards in the petty 
brawls of the Irish court, in which their friend and patron, King 
Dermid, lost his life. 

In spite of these reverses, however, when in the autumn the long- 
expected fleet of Sweyn of Denmark, after various unsuccessful 
attempts at landing in the south, appeared in the 

Thirdrteijig Humber, the Northumbrian shires rose as one man to 

of the north. ' 

Autumn of greet the Dane. A second fleet from Scotland also 

brought back the exiles, Edgar, Gospatrick, and Maerle- 
sweyn. But greater in prestige than all, Waltheof, in whose 
veins flowed the blood of Siward, Edward's earl of Northumbria, 
and who had been made earl of Northampton and Huntingdon, 
possibly in the brief reign of Harold, withdrew from the court of 
William and cast in his lot with the patriot cause. 

In the northern capital misfortunes followed each other in 
quick succession. The Danes landed September 8. On Satur- 
day, the 19th, the sorrowing people of York laid away 

Landing of | n the tomb the remains of Eldred, "the last primate of 

tiif Danes, t r 

Sept. s, the old northern stock." His death at such a moment 


was a national calamity; he could not have averted 
the approaching storm; he might have tempered the wrath of 
William. The very day of Eldred's funeral the Norman garrison 
fired some of the houses which stood near the foss before 
the castle, on the plea that these buildings might serve as a cover 

1069] MASSACRE AT YORK 1(5:3 

for an attacking enemy. But the flames soon got beyond the con- 
trol of the incendiaries, and from the foot of the castle mound 
swept across the city to the northwest, even reaching the distant 
minster. The people spent a wild Sunday in the midst of tumult 
and the heartrending scenes which accompany the burning of a 
populous city. They thought only of saving themselves and such 
movable property as they could bear away on their shoulders. 
When the motley army of Danes and English appeared before the 
city on Monday morning the fires were still raging. 

The garrison attempted a sally, but were driven back into the 
city with great slaughter. Three thousand Normans fell, dying 

among the flames which their own hands had kindled. 
Mrtxmcre of 

thcuarrison \\ altlieof was the hero of the fight. The northern 
"' twit. . ° 

scalds long continued to sing of his mighty deeds on 

that day: "How the son of Siward gave the corpses of the 
Frenchmen as a choice banquet for the wolves of Northumber- 
land." l The garrison was exterminated ; but the besiegers, instead 
of preparing to make the most of their victory, acted like a lot of 
children — thoughtless barbarians rather — for when no garrison 
remained longer to resist them they spent their fury upon the two 
castles, to them the emblems of all that they had lost and suffered. 

The rumor of the rising of York, the coming of the Danes, and 
the destruction of the Norman garrison spread like wildfire. The 
men of Shropshire, of Somerset, and even distant 
flu revolt Dorsetshire, thrilled at the great news from the north 
which lost nothing by the distance over which it 
traveled. They too had garrisons to fight and castles to raze. 
Edric the Wild, with his Herefordshire men who had never yet 
bowed the knee to the Norman, the men of Chester also, who had 
given refuge to Harold's widow, and Bledyn, sole king of Gynedd 
and Powys, with his untamed Welshmen, all gathered for one last 
heroic effort to drive the Norman from the land. 

The people, however, were reckoning without William, nor had 
they yet fathomed the depth of cruelty of which his fierce nature 
was capable when once the lion in him was thoroughly aroused. 

1 Freeman, N. C, IV, p. 267. 

164 THE CONQUEST OF ENGLAND [wiixiam i. 

He hastened from the wood of Deams, where he was hunting 
when the fell news came, to gather his men and strike such 

blows as only William could strike. Bishop Geoffrey 
inthewatt. °^ Coutances was dispatched against Somerset and 

Dorset with the men of London, Winchester, and 
Salisbury; Englishmen against Englishmen, the hopeless feature of 
the struggle to the men who believed themselves fighting for the 
liberation of England. Those who were taken in arms were muti- 
lated, and then dismissed with maimed and broken bodies to drag 
out useless lives. Exeter not only refused to join the insurrection, 
but at the head of its garrison charged upon the rebels. On the 
Welsh border a combined force of English and Welsh under Edric 
succeeded in burning Shrewsbury, but then dispersed. The move- 
ment against Stratford was more serious, and required the presence 
of William before the last embers were stamped out. 

While William's lieutenants were thus putting down with a 
stern hand the rigings in the west, William himself with a force of 

picked cavalry was hastening into the north. York 

J. HC ttllVCL VC- . # _ m 

Avxtumof was a waste of blackened ruins; his castles destroyed 

the north 

and his garrisons massacred. But when he reached the 
seat of the war he found that the great northern .army had dis- 
persed of its own accord ; the Danes to their ships and the English 
to their homes. Nothing was left for him but to hunt out the 
stragglers and destroy them as he could find them. He spent 
Christmas in his northern capital, and then with grim determina- 
Thedeva*- tion gave his attention to the work of rendering the 
Nwlhum- northern shires incapable of another revolt. For a 
ter of 1070. hundred miles the country was systematically laid waste. 
Houses were burned; crops, stores, ploughs, and carts were 
destroyed; all cattle were slaughtered. The people were left in 
the dead of the northern winter to die of cold and hunger. Even 
the Norman Ordericus could not recount the awful work without 
a shudder. William is no longer the king, the father of a way- 
ward people; he is henceforth the grim impersonation of conquest, 
and conquest too as it was understood in the eleventh century. 
When seventeen years later the Domesday Survey was made up, 
only one mournful word, but often repeated, was needed to describe 


the condition of these northern lands, once so fertile and so popu- 
lous : "Waste!" "Waste!" "Waste!" 

The work of conquest was now almost completed. Chester, 
secure behind its mountains and protected by an unusually severe 
The fan <>f winter, still remained defiant. But this fancied secur- 
the chastise- ity only rendered the conquest more easy. At the head 
west. of a determined band William made his way over all but 

impassable mountain roads, facing blinding storms of sleet and 
rain, floundering through swollen torrents, suffering incredible 
hardships, and suddenly appeared before the walls of Chester. 
The last fortress in England to hold out against him was taken 
apparently without resistance, and destroyed, and upon the ruins 
rose the Norman castle. The surrounding lands of Cheshire, 
Shropshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire were then harried and 
the population left to starve as in Yorkshire. Streams of gaunt 
fugitives, starving men, women, and children, found their way 
southward begging for food. The streets and churchyard of 
Evesham, far away on the borders of distant Warwick, were 
crowded with these pitiful victims of William's wrath. Many had 
perished by the way, and those who reached Evesham were so 
nearly famished that they were unable to swallow the food which 
the good abbot Ethel wy gave them. The heartbreaking scenes 
which were taking place in the streets of Evesham were to be seen 
in the streets of every town and hamlet that lay within two or 
three days' march of the stricken district. 

Thus William girdled his kingdom with a wilderness. Of the 
sum total of the fatalities of this dreadful winter we can only guess. 
In a cold-blooded determination to destroy regardless of the suffer- 
ing caused, it is doubtful if anything in the fifth century can 
compare with the wickedness of William's vengeance. Surely 
nothing surpasses it before the era of Spanish domination in 
Europe and America. 

The great work to which AVilliam had set his hand was now 
accomplished. At Hastings he had won the right to present hirn- 
rr,„.i .„ i self as a candidate for the crown of Edward the Con - 
conquered. fessor. At Berkhampstead, London, and Harking, the 
nation, through its leaders, had accepted him as king. But it 





was not until the north and west had been crushed that the land 
was his. There were still occasional revolts. For more than a 
year the outlaw Hereward held out in the marshes 
of Ely. The treacherous brothers, Edwin and Morcar, 
the heroic Walthoof, played their last part in these insurrections. 
Even the king's brother Odo and many others of his Norman 
following turned against him, but the throne which they had helped 
to erect was not to be shaken. England was conquered. 



Henry I., d. 1060 
Philip I., 1060— 


Henry III., d. 1056 
Henry IV., 1056— 


Baldwin V., father- 
in-law of William, 
d 1067 

Baldwin VI., 1067— 

Leo IX., 1048-1054 
Victor II., 1054-1057 
Stephen IX., 1057-1058 
Benedict X., anti- 
pope, 1058-1059 
Nicolas II., 1059-1061 
Alexander II., 1061-1073 
Gregory VII., 1073-1085 
Victor III., 1085-1087 


Duncan I., assas- 
sinated, 1040(?) 


The Usurper, 

Malcolm III. 

Canmore, 1054— 

Duncan and 
Macbeth are the 
well known char- 
acters of Shak- 
spere's play 



WILLIAM I., 107O-1OS7 


Duke of 


d. 1134 


William I. = 
k. 1000-1087 

daughter of the Count of Flanders 

William II. 
k. 1087-1100 

Henry I. = 
K. 1100-1135 

Matilda of Scotland 
grand d. of Edmund 

Adela = Stephen 
Count of 

William, d. 1120 

William Clito 

Count of Flanders, d. 1128 


1. Henry V. Emp. 

2. Geoff rey Plantagenet 
Count of Anjou 

Henry II., k. 1154-1189 

Theobald IV. Stephen = Matilda, 

Count of Blois k. of Eng. I daughter of Eustace III. 

1135-1154 Count of Boulogne 


Bishop of 


Eustace, d. 1152 

William, Count of Boulogne, d. 1159 

The Norman Conquest affected the development of England in 
every possible way ; architecture, law, finance, trade, industry, 

military science, administration, in short, every phase 
effect* of the of national activity, felt the touch of new thought and 

quickened into forms heretofore unknown to the pro- 
vincial and isolated Anglo-Saxon. But most marked was the 
influence of the Conquest upon the further development of English 
political and social institutions. Politically England had passed 
far on in the course of decline since the days of Athelstan; the 
royal authority had been undermined ; the crown had been shorn 
of its dignity; its eminence had faded before the waxing power 
of the great earls. The Norman king at once restored to the 
monarchy its old prestige ; arrested the further independent devel- 
opment of the landholding class, and in spite of most bitter and 



persistent opposition succeeded in laying again the foundations of 
the throne in the supremacy of law and the restoration of the royal 

The attitude of "William toward the old English system was 
not that of a revolutionist; he was not consciously an innovator; 
he accepted the crown with the rights and limitations 
theoidErm- prescribed by the ancient customary law of England 
unchanged. Yet by inspiring the old institutions with 
his own mighty personality he imparted to them new life and new 
significance. Hundred-moot and shire-moot went on as before; 
but their findings received a new importance. The sheriff, the 
executive officer of the shire, no longer stood in awe of the local 
magnate; the king had appointed him; the king was behind him, 
and to the king alone was he responsible. The ancient police 
system, once represented in the gild and later in the tithing, which 
made the local community responsible for the production of the 
criminal, reappeared in the frankpledge, 1 but to be enforced with 
vigor and thoroughness unknown to the old English courts. 
The earldom of semi-regal powers survived in the counties 
palatine, 2 but the vast agglomerations of estates, lordships, and 
shires, the giant earldoms of the houses of Godwin, Leofric, and 
Siward, which had menaced the crown in the days of Edward the 
Confessor, were broken up, their privileges assumed by the crown, 
and their lands distributed. 

The national council, the ancient witenagemot, survived in the 
great council, magnum concilium; but the occasional and spasmodic 
gatherings, the occurrence of which like the meetings 
w£%Mum °t * ne l afcer States-General of France commonly betok- 
ened impending calamity, now passed into the impressive 
and regular courts, which William held thrice each year whenever 
he was in England. Here, amid great pomp and ceremony, he wore 
his crown, "at Easter at Winchester, at Whitsuntide at Westmin- 
ster, at Midwinter at Gloucester"; and here he met his gran- 

1 For nature, extent and date of introduction of frankpledge, see 
Pollock andMaitland, History of English Laiv, 2d Ed., Vol. I, pp. 568-571. 

a Two counties palatine survived the reign of William ; Chester and 


dees in solemn assembly, "all the rich men over all England, 
archbishops and suffragan bishops, abbots and earls, thanes and 
knights." 1 

The great council was further known as the king's court, curia 
regis; but only for a short time, however, for it was soon called upon 

to share its functions with another body, also a curia 
Ciirui regis. The origin of this body is obscure. It seems 

to have been developed partly out of the administrative 
functions of the group of officials who constituted the king's house- 
hold, partly out of the appellate powers of the witenagemot, and 
partly out of powers assumed in direct imitation of the ducal 
court of William in Normandy. It was composed of the great 
administrative officers of the crown and certain of the more promi- 
nent members of the baronage. At its head was the chief justiciar, 
a new officer instituted by William, who presided at the sessions of 
the court in the absence of the king and who further acted as 
regent whenever the monarch left the kingdom. With the chief 
justiciar there were associated certain other high officials beside a 
group of inferior justices, also known as justiciars. Of the great 
officials, of prime importance were the chancellor, an officer who 
dates from the reign of Edward the Confessor, who was the king's 
chief secretary and had charge of the royal seal; the chamberlain, 
who was the king's chief auditor or accountant, and during the 
Norman period rather outranked the chancellor in dignity "in the 
judicial work of the country," being only less important than the 
chief justiciar; the treasurer also, who was the keeper of the royal 
hoard which was safeguarded at Winchester, and who sat at the 
famous exchequer table at Westminster to receive the accounts of 
the sheriffs. Other officers of the household were the steward, the 
butler, the constable and the marshal. These latter offices were very 
ancient, and under various names were common to all the Teutonic 
kingdoms, not only in England but also on the Continent. The 
steward, who corresponded to the major domo or mayor of the 
palace of the Frankish kings, was the chief officer of the royal 
palace; the butler, the Anglo-Saxon discthegn, was the caterer of 
the palace; the constable and the marshal, the exact division of 

1 Ang. Sax. Chronicle, a. d. 1087. 


whose duties is obscure, superintended the ordering of the feudal 
array and thefyrd. Under the Norman kings and their successors 
these more ancient offices soon became overshadowed by the four 
great officers of state, the chief justiciar, the chamberlain, the 
chancellor, and the treasurer, and sank into mere honorary titles 
or hereditary decorations, the ancient duties of the offices being 
performed by others. 1 

These officers were in constant attendance on the king. They 
might be called together to give him advice as a special council of 

state. As an administrative body they managed the 
curia'^egis assessment and collection of the crown revenues. They 

were also a high judicial body, and could summon before 
them any cause from the ordinary shire courts, exercising all the 
supreme judicial functions of the ancient witenagemot or the 
contemporary great council. And inasmuch as such judicial 
business constituted necessarily a large and conspicuous part of 
their activities the body soon came to be known distinctively as 
the Curia Regis, 2 while the larger body remained simply the great 

William was not more generous in conceding rights of taxation 
than he was in renouncing other powers of government. The 

English were not used to taxation; the obligations of 
under the freemen were summed up in the old trinoda neces- 

sitas, war service, castle service, and road service ; so that 
the crown legally had no right to revenues other than those 
derived from the royal estates, dues from markets and ports, and 
the findings of the coitrts. The successors of Ethel red upon one 
pretext or another had continued to levy the Danegeld, but it had 
always been regarded by the people as irregular and tyrannical, and 
Edward the Confessor, who once imagined that he saw the devil in 
the treasury sitting on the money bags, abolished the tax alto- 
gether. William, however, was too good a business man to allow 
himself to be troubled by any such visions as had disturbed the 
peace of the sensitive Edward, and began again to levy the Dane- 

1 For the development of the several offices of the king's household see 
Stubbs, C. H., I, pp. 372-385. 

2 In the reign of Henry I. 

1085, 1080] THE DOMESDAY SURVEY 171 

geld. The old haphazard method of rating which had been in 
vogue since Ethelred's day was abandoned, and by a careful survey 
of the kingdom a businesslike attempt was made to got at the 
actual wealth and resources of each region. This important work, 
the famous Domesday Survey, was begun in 1085. Com- 
daii survey, missioners were sent forth into every shire of the king- 
dom to collect information on oath as to the number of 
manors or townships, the whole number of hides, the names of 
those who held the lands, their value, the population free and 
unfree, and the number of cattle, sheep, and swine upon each 
estate. Englishmen cried out against the unheard-of inquest. 
"It was a shame," they said, "to pry into each man's matters." 
It does not appear that William levied the Danegeld directly upon 
his feudal tenants, but the various aids, tallages, and other inci- 
dents 1 of feudal tenure which he might claim as lord, were quite 
sufficient to put the property of his barons also within his power 
to tax as he willed. "!Stark man ho was and great awe men had 
of him ... in his time men had mickle sulTering and many 
hardships." "Many marks of gold and many pounds of silver he 
took from his people, some by right and some by mickle might for 
very little need." As a result of William's methods it has been 
estimated that during his reign the royal income reached the sum 
of t'40,000, 2 an income which was enormous for the time and of 
which no other prince of Europe could boast. 

For the most of William's harsh measures, for his exactions 

and even his cruelties, ho might plead the necessities of state. 

There was one measure, however, peculiarly Norman, 

andthe which could have no motive save the king's personal 

fortHtlawti . -,_. ... 

pleasure. I lis nature was temperate m most things, 

but his love of hunting amounted to a passion; "he loved t ho 

tall deer as if ho were their father." On the continent kings had 

monopolized hunting as their own special sport, but in England it 

had been the right of any man to slay wild beasts on his own lands. 

William claimed this exclusive privilege for himself and those to 

'Swp. 177. 

-Stubhs, ( '. //., I, p. 303. Later calculations throw doubt upon this 


whom he gave a special license and "forbade the harts and also the 
boars to be killed." Moreover, the existing forests according to 
his ideas were not sufficient; and in order to make "mickle deer- 
frith" he set aside vast tracts as forest the inhabitants of which 
were placed under special courts, the forest courts, and denied the 
protection of the common law. Of these forests the famous New 
Forest of Hampshire contained 17,000 acres. The forest laws 
were very severe ; the penalty for killing a hart or hind was blinding. 
For his forest laws William was censured more by the people than 
for the wasting of the north and west. 

It does not appear that William attempted directly to intro- 
duce into England the Norman system of landholding, or the care- 
fully graded hierarchy of the Norman feudal society. 
introduction Yet the theories and forms of English holdings in the 
eleventh century were not so widely different from the 
Norman that the Norman lawyers found any difficulty in explain- 
ing the relations of landlord and tenant upon the principles of 
Norman feudal law. English forms of landholding therefore, with- 
out any specific act of the crown, easily and rapidly assimilated to 
the theories and customs with which the Normans were familiar. 
For two hundred years in fact England had been preparing for 
this transition. The ancient free democracy had long since given 
way to a landed aristocracy who controlled the govern- 
for ' ment and made laws in their own interests. In many 

parts of England the old free township with its town 
meeting and elective reeve still survived; but the town was 
steadily giving way to another system of lordship, which so closely 
resembled the Norman manorial system that the name manor may 
be applied to the English institution without impropriety, just as 
the Norman term county is often applied to the old English shire. 1 
The city as yet was hardly felt as a factor in English social life. 
At the time of the Conquest the whole number of cities did not 
exceed seventy, and most of these were small and poor 
without and altogether insignificant, even if compared with con- 

temporary continental cities. Commerce was corre- 
spondingly feeble and lim ited. Agriculture and the pursuits more 
1 Stubbs, C. H., I, pp. 96, 290 and following. 


or less directly connected with the tilling of the soil were not sim- 
ply the only source of wealth; they were virtually the only source 
of livelihood. The great mass of the population, therefore, were 
of necessity engaged in agriculture, hut agricultural society hud 
come to know virtually only one form of organization, the form 
which lent itself most readily to the development of feudalism — 
the manor. 

By the manorial system the title to the land of the village, 
waste as well as cultivated, rested not in the free community hut 

in a single lord, and conferred upon him civil and crim- 
Thc inal jurisdiction with right to service from all who 

dwelt within his boundaries. The members of the 
manorial community, therefore, were not landlords but tenants. 
Their lands, moreover, did not lie in compact pieces as in the 
American farm, but in small strips scattered widely among similar 
strips belonging to fellow tenants and distinguished only by a 
narrow ridge of turf or by the furrow left by the plow. Cooper- 
ative cultivation," therefore, was not only advantageous but 

The tenant if free enjoyed the produce of his lands by what 
was known in feudal language as socage tenure, paying his lord a 

regular rent in money or in kind, or by performing 
sncaoc some labor service. These dues were fixed bv imme- 

tenure. _ _ J 

morial custom and the obligation to pay them descended 

with the land from father to son. 

Beside the free tenants there was also to be found upon the 
English manor another class of tenants of various grades, the mem- 
bers of which were known to the feudal lawyers ;is 
villains villains. In general they held their lands under more 

burdensome terms than the free tenants. These bur- 
dens might consist of labor on land which the proprietor of the 
manor had reserved for his own use, the demesne; or of dues in 
kind, or of dues in money. The villain, moreover, could not leave 
the bounds of the manor without his lord's permission. He must 
get permission also to marry son or daughter; to sell sheep or ox, 
or cut timber. His tenure, however, was fixed; his dues could 
not be increased at the will of the lord; his marriage was recog- 


nized by law; he could not be torn from his family and sold like a 
chattel slave. He could also own horses and cattle; he could 
pasture his stock on the common and could cut firewood in the 
forest. The church insisted that he should have the full enjoyment 
of its holidays; it offered his son the advantages of a free educa- 
tion if he were worthy of it, and opened to him its highest posi- 
tions. As abbot or bishop or archbishop he might become the 
companion and adviser of kings. 

In addition to the tenants who were directly engaged in the tilling 
of the soil there were others, both free and unfree, who held merely 
their houses with the surrounding plot of ground, with 
tenants privileges in the common and the waste. Of such were 

the weaver, if the village were large ; and the miller, 
who rented his mill of the lord and shared with him its profits. 
There were craftsmen besides, as the smith, who kept the village 
forge; the rope-maker, who kept the village rope-walk; and the 
armorer, who repaired his lord's armor. The parson also was a 
conspicuous figure in all phases of village life; likewise the clerk, 
who found a field of manifold activity in a community where, 
from the lord down, writing was an unknown art. Not least 
important was the reeve, a villain generally, who kept the accounts 
of the lord with the manor and saw to it that he received his dues 
from his tenants. 

Thus the English social system had already been established 
upon the principle of tenure by service. The old system of 
allodial tenures had passed away in England quite as 
of military completely as on the continent. It was not a difficult 
matter, therefore, to add to the English system the 
Norman tenure by military service, the characteristic feature of 
feudalism; and here also the way had been directly prepared by 
the special military obligations which Alfred and Edward the 
Elder had imposed upon the thane class, by which, if not the 
amount, at least the kind of service due from the freeman to the 
king had been graded to the wealth of the subject in land. 1 It 
was therefore not widely at variance with precedents long since 
established by English king s that William should require of his 

'Stubbs, C. H., I, pp. 210-212. 

THE knight's fee 17.5 

great beneficiaries a quota of men-at-arms, knights, bearing some 

proportion to the importance and value of the lands which he 

conferred. 1 Those who thus held land directly of the king were 

known as tenants in chief or tenants in capite. The tenant in 

chief was left to provide for his military family as he thought best. 

lie might keep his quota of men-at-arms in his hall and feed them 

at his table, or he might settle each man-at-arms upon a small 

estate set off for him out of the domain lands and sufficient for his 

support. Such a grant was known as the knight's fee; 

Knight's the grantor was the lord; the tenant was his vassal. 
fee. & 

During the Norman period the amount of land neces- 
sary to constitute a knight's fee was not fixed; it generally varied 
from ton to twenty librates. 2. The receiver of the knight's fee was 
to hold himself in readiness to come at his lord's summons, and 
thus enable him in turn to fulfill his obligations to the king. This 
subgranting of lands in military tenure was knows as subinfeuda- 
tion. Compared with the other custom of keeping the 
siihinfeuda- men-at-arms in a body in the lord's hall, it would 

turn. J 

readily commend itself to the man who loved peace 
and quiet ; it also offered a better guarantee to the lord of the 
faithfulness of his military dependents. It became quite com- 
mon during the last years of William. It must not be con- 
founded with commendation, by which a free land- 
cnmmenda- holder, in return for a promise of protection, surren- 
dered his lands to some powerful landlord and received 
them again on condition of rendering feudal service. Commenda- 
tion became very common in the twelfth century in the troubled 
times of Stephen's reign and greatly reinforced the numbers of 
the military tenantry. 

In granting a fief it was very natural for a lord of Norman 
birth and training to seek to protect himself and secure the ful- 

1 Round, F. E., pp. 289-293. The whole number of knights thus 
exacted was far less than commonly represented. In the time of 
Henry II. the number did not exceed 5,000, or 6,000 at the most. During 
William's reign, it was undoubtedly much less. 

2 A Vibrate was an estate which rendered an income of one pound a 


fillment of the tenant's pledges by using the forms and sanctions 
with which the feudalism of the continent had long made him 

familiar. In accordance with these customs the tenant 
cmtonL was required, to kneel before his lord and placing his 
investuure nan( ls between his lord's hands, swear to be his 

"man" — homage. The lord then girded him with the 
sword, and in symbol conferred upon him the estates — investiture. 
The obligations thus created were personal and hereditary, but their 
characteristic feature was always the military service. If the 

vassal should ever refuse to arm and come at his lord's 

bidding, or if he ever fought against his lord the oath 
was violated and the right to the fief was forfeited — -forfeiture. 

With the military service the vassal was also bound to attend 
his lord's court, submit to its jurisdiction, support its authority, 

and assist in its deliberations. On the continent the 
servile baron's men were exempt from the jurisdiction of the 

king's court, and even-f rom the duty of attendance. In 
England the old popular courts had been steadily undermined by 
the growth of the landed aristocracy, and by the wide extension of 
the dangerous custom of granting to thanes a private jurisdiction 
over their tenants under the terms sac and soc; a grant which 

made the hall court of the manor, the court-baron, 
Sac ami coordinate with the hundred court. Nevertheless the 


principle had survived that the shire courts, as king's 
courts, were entitled to a supreme jurisdiction over all the inhabit- 
ants of the shire ; and the Norman kings were not inclined to 
sacrifice a principle so important to the royal treasury, or so useful in 
maintaining the royal authority. It is true that William granted a 

number of great baronies with full jurisdiction, known 
wla-tu** as h° nors or liberties, 1 and also freed the men of these 

barons from all attendance at the popular courts; yet 
such grants could hardly have affected the great body of manorial 
lords, whose men remained subject to the jurisdiction of the shire 
and whose courts-baron held jurisdiction only in feudal cases, 
that is, in disputes between tenants about land. And even in 
feudal cases, when a dispute arose between vassals of different 
' Stubbs, C. H., I, p. 431. 


lords, the case could be tried only in the shire court. It is to be 
remembered also that while the great baronies enjoyed an exemption 
from the jurisdiction of the shire court, and were in fact pieces 
cut out of the jurisdiction of the shire, like the shire courts they 
were subordinate to the Curia llegis, and when Henry II. began to 
send out the justices of the Curia to sit as his representatives in 
the shire courts these officers forced their way also into the courts 
of the great barons. 

Beside military service and court service the vassal was also 
liable to certain occasional exactions known as incidents. Thus 

when heirs failed the tenant the fief returned to the 
incidents. lord — escheat. In case the deceased tenant left an 

heir, when the heir took possession he was expected to 
pay the lord for the renewal of the grant the equivalent of a year's 

income from the estate — relief. If, however, the heir 

RfUrf, . , " 

wardship were a minor the lord might retain possession and 
and marriage. . . . 

appropriate the income until the heir became or age — 

wardship. A woman might ordinarily inherit a fief in default of 
male heirs, but the title passed to her husband, who regularly did 
homage for the fief and represented his wife in fulfilling the 
feudal obligations. The lord, however, was entitled to select the 
husband, but if the ward objected to the husband of her lord's 
choosing she might be released upon the payment of a fine. The 
same principle was applied in the case of a widow whose husband 
had died without other heirs. 

There were certain other occasions also when, under the 
gracious title of aids, it was customary for the lord to exact further 
sums from his tenants. These occasions were fixed by 
Aids. custom and were: (1) When the lord's eldest son was 

knighted ; (2) when his eldest daughter was married ; 
and (3) when the lord was captured in war and his body was to be 
ransomed — an occurrence not infrequent in days of almost constant 
warfaro. In addition to these ordinary aids the king might solicit 
from his vassals certain dona or gifts. The Norman kings also devel- 
oped a similar source of revenue in the tallage, a com- 
pulsory aid levied at irregular intervals upon the 
demesne lands of the crown and upon the royal towns. 


Thus Norman military feudalism easily struck its roots into a 

soil already prepared, and in a few years shot up into luxuriant 

growth. The Norman king, however, remained a sov- 

natlmai and ere ig n after the national and not after the feudal type. 

rwtafeudai By English law whatever the rank of the individual, 

king. J & 

whether ordinary freeman or thane, he remained always 
a subject and liable to all the duties of a subject ; nor had William 
any thought of releasing his earls of foreign blood from these 
duties ; or of allowing them to gather to themselves upon English 
soil such power as he himself exercised in Normandy as a vassal 
of the French king. In the twentieth year of his reign he 
sought to give expression to this fact of sovereignty in a way 
which no man might fail to understand. The Domesday Survey 
had just been completed, and upon the basis of its returns he 
summoned to meet him in the great plain before Salisbury "all his 
witan and all the landowning men of property there 
softe/wr nt were over a ^ England, whosoever men they were, and 
required all to bow before him and become his men and 
swear oaths of fealty to him against all other men." Against 
this universal oath of allegiance no feudal oath was to be binding; 
no feudal contract was to stand which imposed upon the subject 
an obligation that interfered with his first duty to his king. 

Hardly less important than the relations which William estab- 
lished with the feudal society were the relations which he estab- 
lished with the church. In the middle ages church 
lL n li?urch ld an< ^ state were hardly distinguished; the functions of 
the one so traversed the whole line of the activities of 
the other that at times the medieval state appears to be as much 
of a theocracy as the early Hebrew state. The state was the body 
of believers ; the head of the state was God or Christ ; the king 
was his vicegerent who had been ushered into his office by forms 
borrowed from the church, and who in the royal style, the rex 
dei gratia, bore a reminder of the source and limitations of his 
authority. The heads of the church hierarchy sat in the national 
council and exercised a controlling influence in shaping the 
policy of the state; they shared in the election or deposition of 
kings. They sat in the national courts and judged the highest 

1070-1088] WILLIAM AND THE CHURCH 17'.) 

princes of the realm. The maintenance of discipline within the 
church, moreover, bore no slight relation to the preservation of 
order within the state. The lapse of church discipline was a cer- 
tain symptom of political or social anarchy. Religious forms, 
furthermore, marked all the stages of civil procedure. The litany 
and the mass were important features of the court room as well as 
of the coronation hall of the king. Thus no reforms could be 
more important or far-reaching than those by which William 
sought to bring the English church into accord with the ecclesias- 
tical system of the continent. 

"William from the first had received a powerful moral support 

from the pope, and was therefore well disposed toward the papal 

system, and not at all inclined to favor the continuance 

'rhinrii'' 1 ''''' °^ * ne "i nsll l ar an( l barbaric independence" which the 
hrnwjhi int., English church had of late enjoyed. The deposition 

liiii irilh tin c .1 J l 

rinlrrii'' 1 '' 1 °^ Stigand l' il( l i' 1 all probability been early decided 
upon, yet William had found it useful to retain him 
until the year 1070, when he was forced to mako way for the king's 
old friend Lanfranc, the Abbot of St. Stephens of Caen. About the 
same time the primacy of York, recently made vacant by the death 
of Kid red, was filled by the appointment of Thomas of Bayeaux. 
Other similar appointments followed from time to time, until by 
the year 1088 Wulfstan of Worcester remained the only bishop 
of English birth in the kingdom. These new men were in full 
sympathy with the great contemporary reform in Europe which 
had culminated in the election of (Jregory VII., and soon justified 
their appointment by instituting similar reforms in the English 
dioceses, forbidding simony and insisting upon the celibacy of their 
clergy. The church courts were made independent of the lay 
courts, and discipline was enforced upon the laity as well as the 
clergy. The English monasteries were also compollod to conform 
to the stricter rules of the Norman abbeys. 

Yet if William thus showed himself entirely in sympathy with 
the spiritual aims of the church, he was careful to indicate t lie 
linos where the ecclesiastical authority ended. If he established 
the independence of the church courts he also removed the bishop 
from the shire court where he had long been a conspicuous figure. 


Within the church, moreover, William would tolerate no authority 

rival to his own. No decree of a synod should be binding without 

his confirmation; barons or officers of the crown should 

Thechurch not be subjected to the finding of a church court with- 

and the royal . , . . . T .. , • , , 

authority. out his permission, in the case of rival popes he 
proposed to decide which pope the Church of Eng- 
land should recognize, for he allowed no pope to be obeyed in 
England or papal letter to be received without his consent. The 
demand of Gregory VII., who at the time was vigorously pushing 
his ideas of papal sovereignty within the empire, that William 
should likewise recognize him as feudal overlord, he met with a 
flat refusal: "fealty he had never promised; nor had his prede- 
cessors ever given it." Yet he recognized fully the spiritual 
headship of the pope and acknowledged the duty of the English 
church to contribute the "Peter's pence." 

The ideas of William were nobly carried out. The church 

rapidly attained new dignity and respect and began to exert a new 

influence over English life and manners. A new 

Remits of cathedral was begun at Canterbury; the old cathedral 
William s ■ . . 

church policy, of York was repaired. The other bishops also imitated 
their primates in the magnificence of the new struc- 
tures which they began, or the restorations which they instituted. 
Old episcopal seats, such as Lichfield and Sherborne, were 
removed from the country to the neighboring centers of population. 
After the year 1070 William had little further trouble with the 
English. There was still much grumbling; and many bitter 
words continued to find their way into secluded mon- 
Mon of the astery records, where patriotic monks sought to cherish 
the memories of the old England which was passing 
away; but the disastrous issue of the recent struggles, the flight 
or death or apostasy of the English leaders and the failure of the 
treacherous Danes to afford the long-expected help had signally 
demonstrated the utter vanity of attempting to overturn the 
throne of the new king by force. 

William, moreover, soon began to commend himself to the sub- 
ject people by the very rigor of his administration. His ways 
were masterful and his measures severe, but the results were bene- 


ficial. He was a hard drillmaster; but England needed a drill- 
master, and the English were the first to recognize it. Life and 
property were protected as they had never been pro- 
Saiutary tected under the native English kings. Even the 
nmtam'a Chronicle is forced to recognize the "good peace that 
he made in the land, so that a man might go over the 
realm alone with his bosom full of gold unhurt. Nor durst any 
man slay another, how great soever the evil he had done." The 
English, therefore, began quietly to accept the lot which they now 
knew they could not avert, and in a short time settled down to 
make the most of their new conditions. 

These conditions, however, could not have been very attract- 
ive at best. At the time of the Survey, as a result of the fre- 
quent revolts, fully three-fourths of the estates of Eusr- 

Newrondi- , , n , , , , -, ■, • , 

tioHMof hind had changed hands, and in many cases where the 

Envlixh Ufe. ,,.., ,,-,, ,, -, . , . 

English thanes had been allowed to retain their 
lands they had sunk into the condition of "subtenants of a 
Norman baron." When the land was at peace and plenty 
reigned the lot of the ordinary tenant possibly was not hard. 
But unfortunately the land was often at war, and famine and 
pestilence were frequent visitors. The lord lived in the great 
house on the demesne, but his people of alien blood, who 
regarded him with sullen aversion as an interloper and 
usurper, could feel for him and his nothing of that touching loy- 
alty which so often lights up the darkness of bondage. If the 
lord, moved by sincere regard for his dependents, honestly sought 
to improve their condition, the chances were that ho would be 
misunderstood and his measures misinterpreted. The absentee 
landlord also was by no means uncommon, for thousands of manors 
were held by William and his friends. In such cases the lord's 
agent, the bailiff, lived in the great house on the demesne, and 
saw that the reeves required the tenants to fulfill their obligations. 
The bailiff was selected for his thrift rather than for any goodness 
of heart, and knew well that his tenure depended upon the balance 
which he could show each year in his lord's favor. It was his 
interest to exact the last penny, and the lord was only too well 
pleased to seo his returns roll up, to ask questions, or inquire into 


the condition of distant tenants. It was here that the Norman 
yoke rested most heavily upon the English rural population. 

If, however, the English were coming to be reconciled to the 
rule of William, the men who had come with him into England, 

who found themselves denied the privileges which they 
uw^bammf anc * tne ^ r kind were enjoying on the continent, were 

by no means inclined to accept William's system with- 
out a protest. In 1075 discontent passed into open revolt, 

when Ralph Guader, Earl of Norfolk, and Roger Bret- 
msmfif of en ji ? t ne son of the Conqueror's old friend William Fitz- 

Osbern, Earl of Hereford, openly raised the standard 
against the king. But, although they had been secretly plotting for 
a year and William at the time was absent in Normandy, the revolt 
was a disastrous failure. The ordinary shire levies were sufficient to 
put down the rising, and in a very short time Roger was a prisoner 
and Ralph in exile. England was well rid of two such characters ; 
but unfortunately Waltheof, who after the great rising of 1069 
had not only been pardoned and received again into royal favor 
but had also been restored to his father's earldom of Northumbria, 
had become implicated in the affair, and was condemned to death 
by the witan. His death appealed powerfully to the imagination 
of the English writers, and the people long venerated him as a 

The rising of Ralph and Roger would really be of little impor- 
tance were it not the first of a series of armed protests on the part 

of the Norman-English barons against the authority of 
uPth^rteiwt ^ ne Norman-English kings, which did not cease until the 

reign of Henry II., when the old baronage was at last 
effectually crushed and the leaders driven to the continent. In these 
insurrections it is to be noted that the strength of the king lay in 
the support of the English nation, who needed no schooling to teach 
them that the tyranny of the king was far less to be feared than 
the tyranny of the barons, and who thus looked upon the king as 
their natural protector against feudal lawlessness. 

The relations of William to his own family were in keeping 
with his relations to his people. Such men are feared but never 
loved. William quarreled with his eldest son Robert, and drove 

1078-1087] DEATH OF THE CONQUEROR 183 

him from the kingdom. In Normandy the quarrel was renewed, 

and father and son met in deadly personal combat under the walls 

of Gerberoi. On the return of William from Nor- 
Quarre] inth , . ' 

PHiu-e mandy m 1082 he quarreled with his half-brother 

Odo, who had abused the authority which the king had 
conferred upon him in his absence by oppressing the poor and by 
indiscriminate cruelty. William might have forgiven this, for he 

certainly knew Odo by this time, and from earlier ex- 
8cto r ifl82 Wif ' 1 P er i ences knew what kind of report to expect from his 

regency. But Odo, who possessed all the ambition of 
his race, had been carried away by a foolish dream of securing the 
papal crown by force of arms, and to this end had taken advantage 
of William's absence to enlist men in England for his harebrained 
scheme. It was this which roused the wrath of William and 
brought him home from Normandy. And when none dared to lay 
hands on the sacred person of the bishop, William went himself, 
seized Odo, and packed him off to Normandy to be kept a close 
prisoner at Rouen until his own death. 

In the year 1087 William entered upon the last of his many 
wars. His foe was Philip I. of France, who had encouraged 

Robert in rebellion and had always been William's 

The last war •,,.,-»,- 

<>f William, enemy either secret or open. At the taking of Mantes 
William's horse stumbled among the embers of the 
burning city, and the king, whose body had grown unwieldy with 
advancing age, was thrown heavily upon the iron pommel of his 
saddle. He was taken to Rouen where he died after a loathsome 
illness. The priests and nobles who had eaten his bread left the 
body to the tender mercies of menials, who stripped even the bed 
of its furnishings and left the dead king "naked and lonely on the 
floor." "Death itself took its color from the savage solitude of 
his life." 



WILLIAM II. 1087-1100. 
HENRY I. 1100-1135. 

It was the wish of the Conqueror that Eobert, his eldest son, 

with whom he had been reconciled before his death, should succeed 

him in Normandy; and that William, his second son, 

vl CCCSSTOTi of 

wuiiam familiarly known as Rufus or the Eed, should succeed 


him in England. He had also a third son, Henry, a lad 
of nineteen, who had been born in England since the Conquest. 
Henry, however, he put off with a legacy of £5,000 and some 
lands in the Cotentin. Robert was not satisfied with the arrange- 
ment which gave England to the younger William, and proposed 
to contest his candidacy for the English crown; he was supported 
by the greater part of the barons, who loved Robert's easy-going 
ways and saw in William too much of the father's imperious nature 
for their liking. The very elements in the young man's character, 
however, which the barons regarded as a menace to their liberties, 
only commended him the more to Lanfranc and the church, and 
to all who had the good of the nation at heart. A war of succession 
followed and William, largely through the influence of Lanfranc 
and by the support of the English, succeeded in driving the friends 
of his brother out of the kingdom ; chief of whom was his uncle, the 
old mischief-maker Odo, who had been released from prison after 
the Conqueror's death. Four years later William in his turn 
carried the war into Robert's dominions, and proposed to oust his 
brother from the duchy and secure it for himself. But the French 
king, Philip I. interfered, and brought about an agreement by which 
each brother renounced his claim to the domain of the other; in 
case of the death of either, the survivor was to succeed to both 


ha qeM 


1_ * 



dominions. Philip was not led to this neighborly act by any love 
for the Conqueror's sons, but simply by a desire to prevent Eng- 
land aud Normandy from again falling into the same hands. We 
shall see this policy guiding the conduct of the French kings in all 
their dealings with the descendants of the Conqueror. 

In figure the new king was a caricature of his father. He was 

short, thick-set, powerful in body, with ruddy face and restless 

eyes, and ever liable to violent outbreaks of merriment 


of the or auger. He had much of the ability of his race. 

Yet he lacked his father's greatness of character; he 
had nothing of his self-control; was personally lawless and ever a 
riotous liver. He moved about the country accompanied by a rout 
of swashbucklers and mistresses, who shocked decent folk by their 
roistering revels, and who pillaged and plundered the people; "the 
poor man was not protected by his poverty, nor the rich man by 
his abundance." He abounded in inconsistencies — this uproarious 
king. lie cared not a penny for the most solemn oath; saints and 
devils were to him so many bogies by which designing monks 
frightened children and silly women ; and when men charged him 
with violating his coronation oath he sneeringly rejoined, "Who is 
there who can fulfill all that he promises?" Yet he had his code of 
honor. When he gave his word as a knight, he kept it inviolate; 
prisoners of war were safe in his hands, and when he granted a truce 
men knew that it would not be broken. He mocked at all things 
sacred ; yet he was not without some latent respect for the powers 
of the next world. When in 1093 he fell grievously sick, believing 
that death was near he called for his confessor and made noble prom- 
ises of reform; but as soon as his strength came again he went on 
in the old way as graceless as ever. 

In spite of his personal lawlessness none appreciated better than 
William the value of a well organized administration. While Rob- 
ert allowed Normandy to fall into a condition of turbu- 
Fiamhard. lent anarchy William sought to strengthen and extend 
the vigorous administrative system of his father. He 
found an able instrument in Ralph Flambard, who had been 
originally a humble clerk in his father's chapel. The man was as 
able as he was unscrupulous. , He had entered the church from 


purely worldly motives, and by making himself useful to the king 
had risen rapidly ; secured the bishopric of Durham and finally was 
made chief justiciar. Here as head of the financial and judicial 
administration of the kingdom, he found ample scope for the exer- 
cise of all his powers. He grasped the possibilities of English 
feudalism as a source of revenue, and pressed to the utmost the 
advantages offered the crown by such incidents as relief and ward- 
ship; nor was it an uncommon thing for the royal stewards so to 
impoverish a ward's estate in the interests of the treasury that 
when the land was finally turned over to the heir it was exhausted 
and all but worthless. 

The application of feudal exactions to lay fiefs was simple 

enough ; but there was another large class of fiefs which by 

reason of the fact that they were held by churchmen, 

William II. „ , ^ , , . ,, . . 

and the were naturally exempt from such claims as those inci- 

church. ' ' . 

influence of dent to relief, or wardship and marriage. But accord- 
ing to feudal ideas the estates of a bishop or abbot were 
held personally of the king, and were obligated to military 
service just as lay fiefs; and to the thrifty justiciar there 
appeared no reason why ecclesiastics should be exempt from the 
other occasional but really more burdensome dues. The dead 
bishop could leave no heir, but the king might claim the income 
of the estates until a new incumbent was appointed. It was, more- 
over, a very simple matter, by ways well known to the crown officer, 
to delay such an appointment until it suited the royal pleasure to 
forego the profits of the lands in question. But even here the 
clerkly financier showed the king how to turn still another profit, 
since he might exact from the new incumbent a handsome gift 
after the manner of a relief. And as the Red King carried out the 
principle, it amounted to a virtual selling of the offices of the 
church, and was the source of much corruption. 

The most flagrant instance of William's violation of the rights 
of the church occurred in connection with the vacancy caused by 
vacancy in * ne death °f Lanfranc in 1089, when the vast estates of 
cariLrhuni ^ e see °^ Canterbury were thrown into the king's 
io89-io93. hands. For four years William refused to appoint 
Lanfranc's successor, in the meanwhile appropriating the rev- 

1093-1096] ANSKLM 187 

eimes of this important see to his own wayward uses. In vain 
the great council protested; it mattered little to the king 
that church discipline languished and that the whole realm 
suffered; nor was it until the serious illness of the year 1093 
brought William to his senses that he consented to allow the 
revenues of the see of Canterbury to be applied again to their 
legitimate uses. 

The man chosen was Anselm, abbot of Bee, the friend and 
pupil of Lanf ranc ; already eminent among the theologians of the 

continent, and well known and loved in England. The 
m»d C lviUiam w * se °^ aD b°^ however, hesitated to incur the responsi- 
'lo'&um bilities of such an office under such a king. "He was 

a poor, weak sheep," he said, "to be yoked with the 
young bull of England." But those concerned were urgent and 
would take no refusal; they dragged the abbot to the king's 
bedside, and after literally forcing the pastoral staff into his 
reluctant hands hurried him away to the cathedral for con- 
secration. Upon his recovery William found that he had yoked 
himself not with a poor sheep but a lion. Between two such 
men there could be nothing in common, and it was not long 
before their differences passed into an open rupture. "Treat 
me as a free man," demanded the primate in words that 
thrill with the true English spirit, "and I devote myself and 
all I have to your service; but if you treat me as a slave, you 
shall have neither me nor mine." Such a man could not keep 
silent in the presence of the orgies which disgraced William's 
court; still less could he stand by while the king and his creatures 
plundered the church. A series of quarrels followed, until at 
last in a burst of fury William drove the faithful primate from 
the kingdom. 

It will be remembered that William had agreed to leave 
Normandy to Robert on condition that he renounce his 

claims to England. But in 1000 the crusading mad- 
England and ness seized Robert with thousands of other princes of 

Europe. In William's shrewd and unsentimental 
nature, the wild enthusiasm which swept the continent found little 
sympathy; yet he was not averse to helping his brother off, and 


willingly furnished 10,000 marks 1 toward his equipment in return 
for Normandy in pledge. ' So Robert betook himself to the east, 
along with the host of restless and adventurous spirits who fol- 
lowed the First Crusade, while his duchy of Normandy was added 
again to the English kingdom. 

William had now reached his fortieth year. He was still a 
young man, and no one could tell what would be the end of his 
career. In England he was all-powerful; none durst 
wuuam II. defy him. He had compelled the Scottish king to re- 
new homage. His barons had seized the lowlands of 
Wales and its southern coasts, and their castles crowned the hill- 
tops of the border. He was meditating the conquest of Ireland. 
On the continent also his power and influence were rapidly extending ; 
when suddenly and without warning all these great plans were cut 
short and the end came. With a company of jovial companions he 
had risen from the banqueting table at Winchester and gone to 
hunt in the New Forest. In the pursuit of the game the party 
had scattered, but when night came and they returned to the 
trysting place, William was not among them. Then came a peasant 
with a strange story: he had found the king lying in a glade with 
an arrow piercing his heart; the wide-open sightless eyes staring 
up into the heaven which he had mocked. How was it done? Was 
it the work of a clumsy hunter, whose brain had been fuddled with 
drink; or, more likely perhaps, was it the work of an assassin who 
had taken vengeance for unrequited wrong? The question has 
never been answered. The pious saw in the mysterious taking off, 
the judgment of God. The body was taken to Winchester and 
there buried without religious ceremony and without sign of 

At the time of William's death Robert was on his way home 
from the Crusade. The success of the enterprise, in which Robert 
had born a conspicuous part, the popularity which had been given 
to it by its religious character, had done much to obscure the 

1 The mark was a theoretical denomination of money on account. 
Like the American mill, it was not coined. From the 12th century it was 
equal to 13s 4d current money. 10,000 marks, therefore, were equal to 
£6,666 13s 4d. 

HENRY I. 189 

unpleasant memories which lingered about the early career of Rob- 
ert. He was more popular than ever with the barons, and by con- 
trast with the brutal tyrannies of William, his good- 
succe*8v>n natnred ways appeared like positive virtues. He had 
also in his favor the advantage of his early agree- 
ment with William. There was, however, a new element in the 
problem whicli neither William nor Robert had considered when 
they made their compact, and that was the national sentiment of 
the English people. The English had long since abandoned the 
hope of ever restoring the ancient royal line ; yet the soil was dear 
to them, and the fact that the Conqueror's youngest son, Henry, 
had been born in England, brought him a degree nearer than 
his foreign-born brothers. When, therefore, Henry, who had 
been of the fatal hunting party in the New Forest, hastened to 
Winchester to secure the royal hoard, as the first step in making 
good a counter claim to the throne, the English welcomed him 
at once as one of themselves, and their cordial support gave to 
his elevation the appearance of a national choice. 

Henry on his part fully realized both the strength and the weak- 
ness of his position. He saw that it would not do to perpetuate the 
abuses of the Red King's reign, and that only by a wise 
poHcu 8 policy of conciliation could he win the lasting support 
of the nation. Among his first acts, therefore, were 
the arrest of Flambard and the recall of Anselm. But the event 
which did most to establish the confidence of the people, was the 
marriage of the king with Matilda, the daughter of Margaret and 
Malcolm of Scotland, and the lineal representative of Edmund 
Ironside. Thus at last the nation could look forward to a day 
when the sacred blood of Alfred should again be represented in the 
kings of England. 

Of even more direct import, was a charter which Henry 
issued soon after his coronation ; the first formal acknowledgment 
by a Norman king of any "limitation on the despotism 
oufenryi!' established by the Conqueror." This charter was 
simply an amplification of the coronation oath ; yet it 
was of great importance, for it gave to the nation an authoritative 
interpretation of the terms of the oath, made by the king himself. 


In the charter Henry promised not to make profit out of lands of 
the church, either by taking advantage of vacancies or by selling 
its offices ; not to abuse his rights over feudal tenants ; that reliefs 
should be just and lawful ; that heiresses should not be forced to 
marry against their will ; and that fines should be levied according 
to the nature of an offense. To the nation at large he granted the 
laws of Edward the Confessor as interpreted or amended by his 
father. The restriction which he proposed to place upon his deal- 
ings with his tenants, they in turn were to observe in dealing with 
their vassals. The coiners of false money also were to be pun- 
ished ; but the forests were to be retained as his father had held 
them. 1 

In spite of the unpopularity of this last provision, the people 

received their new king with magnificent enthusiasm; and when 

in 1101 Robert landed at Portsmouth in order to con- 

support test the crown, the people rallied to the support of their 

thC KtilfJ* . _ IT 11* 1 1 * TT 

king as they had once rallied to the support of Harold. 
The barons, however, held back, for they feared a strong admin- 
istration. The pliant Robert, whom nobody feared and who could 
hardly keep the clothes on his back from the thieving favorites who 
surrounded him, 2 would be a king much more to the liking of the 
barons. Yet before the solid front of the nation Robert quailed, 
and was finally glad to renounce his claims upon the English 
crown 'in return for the cession of Henry's fief in the Cotentin. 

The retirement of Robert left Henry free to deal with the 
barons who had held aloof in the moment of threatened invasion. 

Robert de Lacy, Robert Malet, and Ivo of Grantmesnil 
fyiiubn'f'of were stripped of their lands and driven from the king- 
2/o2* mc ' dom. But greatest among Henry's tenants was the 

terrible Robert of Belesme, who held the important 
western earldom of Shrewsbury, and who had used his power to 
inaugurate a reign of terror on the border. Forty-five charges of 
treason were brought against Robert, and when he refused to 
answer the king's summons to appear and make reply to the 

'Stubbs S. C, pp. 99-102, and Lee Source Book, pp. 125, 126. 
2 See the remarkable illustration of the results of Robert's good nature 
recorded by Will. Malmes. v. § 394. 

11021106] TENCHEBRAY 101 

charges, Henry straightway marched against him ; laid siege to the 
great castle of Bridgenorth on the Welsh border; and after three 
weeks took it. The fall of Arundel and Shrewsbury followed 
Bridgenorth, and Robert was forced to retire to his continental 
domains. His fall was hailed by the nation with unrestrained 
delight. "Rejoice, King Henry," the people shouted, "and give 
thanks to God, for you became a free king on the day when you 
conquered Robert of Belesme and drove him from the land." 

It would have been better for both England and Normandy if 
the quarrel of the two brothers could now have been dropped, and 
the duchy and the kingdom gone each their separate 
carried into ways. But the barons of Duke Robert were not satis- 
fied and incited him to new intrigues against the king. 
Henry who had many loyal barons who held lands on the Norman 
side of the Channel and were thus exposed to Robert's tyrannies, 
believed that he had sufficient cause for renewing the war. For 
two years it raged without material advantage on either 
Terwhebray, s \& e . Dut i n no6 Henry at the head of a Norman- 

1100. *> 

English army completely routed Robert's knights at 
Tenchebray. The battle was fought on the 28th of September, 
the fortieth anniversary of the crossing of the Channel by the 
Conqueror, and was regarded by the soldiers of Henry as a re- 
quital for the defeat of Hastings. Robert was taken and spent 
the remaining years of his life a close prisoner at Cardiff Castle, 
where he died in 1134. 

The salve to English feelings, however, could hardly atone for 
the new burdens which were imposed upon the monarchy as a 

result of the recovery of the Norman duchy. The con- 
lHuuv'i' 1 temporary French king was the wily Louis VI., who with 

the keen insight of the statesman saw that the welfare 
of France demanded the separation of England and Normandy. 
For twenty-five years Henry wasted the strength of his English 
kingdom in maintaining his Norman borders against the hostility 
of the French, or in crushing the insurrections of Norman barons, 
stirred up by French intrigue. Yet Louis was no match for Henry 
either in war or diplomacy. He was botli outgeneraled and out- 
witted. Henry secured the favor of the pope on the one hand and 


of the Emperor, Henry V., on the other, to whom he married his 
daughter Matilda. He steadily extended his Norman domain at 
the expense of the feudatories of France; after the death of 
Henry V. in 1125, he married his widowed daughter to Geoffrey of 
Anjou, and thus prepared the way for the future union of the pos- 
sessions of the great houses of Normandy and Anjou. 

At home Henry found himself plunged into a struggle of 
another kind, but no less important in its ultimate issues. He 

had early given an indication of his good will toward the 
Ameim™ 1 church by the recall of Anselm. But the persecutions 

to which Anselm had been subjected by William Rufus, 
had not been without a direct influence upon his character as well 
as upon his theories of the proper relation of church and state. 
Moreover, he had spent the years of his exile at the Roman court in 
the very midst of the bitter struggle over investiture. The best 
men of the age felt that the time had come when the church 
should be freed from the control of the civil power. Only so 
could it keep its garments unspotted from the sin of simony and 
the other corruptions which had degraded its character and weak- 
ened its influence. Anselm had not objected to investiture at the 
hands of the Red King ; but coming at the call of Henry, fresh 
from the stirring scenes of the great Lateran Council which had 
formally forbidden lay investiture, he could not do homage 
to Henry or consecrate the bishops whom he had appointed. 
It was a grave question; none more serious had ever confronted 
king or bishop. The autocratic spirit of the king revolted against 
the implied denial of his independence. "What have I to do with 
a Roman canon!" he cried. "No man shall remain in my land 
who will not do me homage." 

Yet Henry was no such blustering egoist as his brother. He 
fully valued the support of the church, and a breach with Anselm 

was farthest from his thoughts. Anselm on his part 
mtee C /M7 r0 ~ was no contumacious rebel, but was fully prepared to 

concede to the king all rights consistent with the 
spiritual independence of the church. He had been the first to 
respond to Henry's call for troops against Robert, and his example 
had had no little influence in strengthening the loyalty of others. 


The controversy therefore, though earnest, was carried on with 
becoming dignity on both sides, and was finally adjusted by a com- 
promise: 'The election of bishops was to be henceforth in the 
hands of the cathedral chapters, but was to be held at the king's 
court; the temporal rights of the crown were secured by the act of 
homage to the king, by which the new bishop received his lands; 
the spiritual rights of the church, by anointing and investiture 
with ring and crozier at the hands of the archbishop; papal juris- 
diction was not excluded, but no papal legate could come into 
England without the royal permission. ' 1 "Thus the church retained 
its independence as far as it was necessary for its moral influence; 
the king retained a supervision as far as it was necessary for the 
unity of the state.'" This arrangement, the only possible adjust- 
ment of the dual relation of church and state, was practically the 
basis upon which the long quarrel between church and empire 
was finally settled by the Concordat of Worms fifteen years later. 

Tenchebray had freed Henry's hands to take up again the work 
of organization and administration at home, a work that pleased 
him far better than the rough and uncertain life of the 
sl^Mmr camp. In Normandy he had picked up a priest, known 
as Roger the Poor, who once when Henry happened to 
be present had commended himself to the king by the rapid, busi- 
nesslike way in which he had rushed through the mass. A cool- 
headed, cold-blooded man of business was this Roger, as void of 
sentiment as the columns of a ledger. Henry advanced him 
steadily; made him bishop of Salisbury, chancellor, and finally 
chief justiciar. 

Roger was quick to see the weakness of the system which 
England had inherited from the past; but also quick to see how 
it could be adapted to the new conditions which confronted the 
crown. The magnum concilium, the old witenagemot, had changed 
I'haiwin insensibly from a council of the grandees of the nation 
mliamtm"* to a counc ^ °f the tenants in chief of the king. It 
cmviiiutn. was no i on g er summoned at regular intervals, as in the 
time of William I., and had long since become too unwieldy to 
attend to the details of ordinary administration. Theoretically its 

1 Gee and Hardy, pp. <>:>-(i(5. 


functions remained unchanged, but practically they were passing 
to the body of officials who composed the king's household, which 
from Henry's reign is to be known distinctively as the Curia Regis, 1 
and which under Roger's management rapidly developed into a 
court of all work, with business as manifold and varied as the rela- 
tions of the crown to the people. His custom was to 
of curia confine certain sessions to particular kinds of business 
Thus the members might be summoned to give advice 
upon state matters, the Ordinary Council of the king; or they 
might be summoned as a simple court to hear an appeal from a 
lower court, or to try a dispute between the great barons, or to 
hear a charge of the king against a baron. Questions pertaining 
to the royal treasury also formed no small part of the business 
of the Curia, and when summoned for the consideration of such 
business it was known as the Court of Exchequer. Later these 
several meetings differentiate into separate committees, and finally 
into distinct courts. 

The local courts also demanded the attention of Henry and his 
great justiciar. By the custom of granting private jurisdictions 
the jurisdiction of the old courts of the hundred and the 
V)Tai™mrt8. sn i re had Deen steadily contracted. Even lords who did 
not hold their lands with special liberties, did not hesi- 
tate to take advantage of the natural strength of their position in 
the local community to enforce the fullest jurisdiction. Flambard 
also had indirectly contributed to the decline of the public courts 
by using them as a means of extortion, and the people had begun 
to abandon them for the private courts of the feudal lords as more 
likely to do them justice. 

Accordingly, soon after Tenchebray, Henry set himself to 
restore the public courts, and issued orders for the holding of the 
courts of the shire and the hundred "according to the 
nxtfrrc* local f as hi° n in which they had been held in the time of King . 
'nm**' ah " ut Edward and not otherwise. " Yet so unpopular had the 
shire courts become, so suspicious were the people of 
the king's officers, that Henry had to repeat the order four years 
later and support it by fining those who continued to disobey. 
1 See p. 17a 


Henry also sought to strengthen the local courts by sending 
out justices from time to time from the Curia Regis to sit in the 

shire courts, thus emphasizing their ancient character 
circuit' as king's courts. One such circuit, that of 1124, was 

famous for the hanging of forty-four thieves, which 
according to the Chronicle was a fair breaking of the record. Such 
commissions were as yet occasional and always special. Yet the 
way was indicated by which the "superstructure of Norman cen- 
tralization was to be placed over the groundwork of English local 
government." It was left for the second Henry to complete the 
work by arranging definite circuits and fixing the periods of visita- 

In the growing power of the king's court we are to see the 
growing power of the monarchy. Nor was it simply that the king 

thereby had forged an effective weapon for overawing 

The court* ax , , , i " , ■, , t , i 

a source nf the barons, but he had also developed a new source 
revenue. . . . . . 

of income; always a primary motive at the basis 

of the judicial system of the Norman kings. 1 The fines and for- 
feitures decreed by the courts, gathered from the whole kingdom 
and swelled into a considerable stream by the time they reached 
the royal treasury, formed no inconsiderable part of its revenues. 
The increase of the crown revenues through the courts did not 
save the people from the burden of more direct taxation; "bitterly 
they complained of the manifold taxes which never 
under ceased. " "lie who had any property was bereaved of 

Henry I. . . . 

it, and he who had none starved with hunger. Had 
harvests, sickness, or other misfortune, might not be pleaded in 
excuse for non-payment; the taxes were none the less regular, 
the crown officers none the less exacting. In 1109, when the 
Princess Matilda was betrothed to the emperor, an aid of three 
shillings per hide was levied not only on the baronage but on the 
entire population; the first instance of the payment of a distinctly 
feudal aid by the nation. 

Beside Matilda, Henry had one other lawful child, a son, who 
bore the family name of William and who by reason of the 

'Stubbs, C. H., I, p. 425. 

196 Gorman organization continued [henrti. 

strain of English blood which he had inherited from his mother, 
was exceedingly popular with the English. Yet he but poorly re- 
quited their affection. He was thoroughly Norman in 


wunam, his sympathies, and looked with contempt upon his 

mother's people. He is not an attractive character, this 
William, with all the vices of his father's family and with nothing 
of his father's tact or self-control. In 1120 he had gone with his 
father to Normandy, where the Norman barons had formally 
accepted him as Henry's successor. But on the return a drunken 
crew managed to run the ship, the "White Ship," upon a rock, 
where it sank with all on board. It has been the fashion of Eng- 
lish writers to lament the accident as a national calamity. It is 
true England might have been saved from the civil wars of the 
next reign. But then, some things are worse than civil war. 

The question of succession was at once reopened. William 
Clito, the son of Duke Robert, was the last representative of the 

male line of the Conqueror. He was a young man, ap- 
cnto, death, parently of real ability, and withal of excellent character. 

Yet the long feud which he had waged with his uncle 
on the ground of his father's wrongs, made it impossible for Henry 
ever to accept him as his heir. The enmity of the two men was 
still further embittered by a new quarrel which sprang up on the 
death of Charles, the last count of Flanders. The French king 
supported William Clito who claimed the succession by right of 
descent from Matilda, queen of the Conqueror. Henry interfered 
and incited the Flemings to revolt, but was unable to prevent 
the succession. William's triumph, however, was of little profit ; 
he died soon after from the effect of a slight wound, which the 
rude surgery of the day had failed to treat properly. 

Henry in the meanwhile had set his heart upon . securing the 
succession in England for his daughter Matilda. On January 1, 1127 

the great council formally acknowledged her right and 
Henri/fixe* SW ore to accept her as their future sovereign. She had 


Hida w hit b een left a childless widow by the recent death of the 

emperor, and Henry pledged his barons to find her a 

husband in England. But in 1128, without consulting the barons, 

he married Matilda to Geoffrey of Anjou, a bright handsome lad, Ma- 


tilda's junior by many years. The English lords felt that the king 
had betrayed them. The Norman lords hated the Angevins with 
the bitterness born of a century of border warfare. Yet Henry 
persisted and compelled the barons to renew their oaths to Matilda; 
and when in 1133 prince Henry was born, the name of the grandson 
was joined in the oath with that of the mother. 

Two years later Henry I. suddenly died in the midst of his 

activities. He had been a great king. He had his faults, the 

somber side of his nature; yet they were not allowed to 

character affect his public character. He was an indefatigable 

nj Henry. * D 

worker, and he exacted the same diligence and industry 
from all who served him. He reintroduced the lamp as an adjunct 
to the public service; for the daylight hours were all too few for 
his tireless energy. Like his father, he was cold and hard. He 
asked no man to love him ; yet he expected his people to respect 
him and obey his laws. His severity won for him the title of the 
"Lion of Justice." The death penalty, which had been confined 
to the Forest Laws, was put into practice against thieves and rob- 
bers. "Great was the awe of him." "No man durst misdo 
against another." "He made peace for man and beast. Whoso 
bore his burden of gold and silver, no man durst say aught to him 
but good." 

Henry saw that the people needed security from the oppression 
of the barons and rest from war and alarm, and to this end he bent 

all his splendid energies. His hand was an iron hand, 
Henry's r , , , . , , 

policy but it gave peace; and the achievements of the country 

"' /""'■'• , . , . . . . . 

during his reign, its material and intellectual prosperity, 

fully justified his policy. The Crusades had greatly stimulated all 
forms of commercial and industrial activity; vast sums of money 
had been released and put into active circulation. The close con- 
nection of England with the continent, the result of the union with 
Normandy, the peace which reigned in the Channel, placed the 
English nation in a position to secure their full share of this new 
life. English merchants extended their operations to Flanders, 
Denmark, Ireland, and Brittany, and even sought connections with 
the great trading and banking firms of southern Europe. The 
craftsmen of the lands south of the Channel, weavers and manu- 


facturers of various kinds, who dwelt where barons were accus- 
tomed "to go a riding" as their lust for war and plunder dictated, 
turned to the land of the peace-loving king, and in ever increasing 
numbers began to seek its shelter, and thus added not a little to 
the development of the wealth and strength of the middle classes. 
Henry was not unmindful of the significance of this industrial 
revival, and showed himself willing to encourage it by granting 
charters of manv charters to English towns. The charters of Lon- 
towm. (j on an( j Beverley are still preserved, and furnish valuable 

examples of the first achievements of English towns in securing local 
privileges. 1 

. The quickening of the moral and intellectual life of the people 

also kept pace with the political and industrial revival. This 

phase of the new life naturally found expression through 

intellectual monasticism ; for the monastery was the commonly rec- 

proyress. . . J 

ognized agent through which society sought to realize its 
better aspirations. It was the most important of civilizing agencies ; 
it was not only hospital, dispensary, and asylum; it was university 
and library and printing press as well. Here in bleak cells simple- 
hearted scholars toiled through weary hours, copying with infinite 
pains the writings of the past. The abbey, moreover, was the inn 
or hostelry of the period, and here the great folk of the age in their 
tireless passings to and fro were forced often to spend a night, and 
many a choice bit of courtly gossip fell upon the ears of the alert 
monk, to find its way ultimately into chronicle or more pretentious 
history. Men seemed to realize that stirring times were passing, 
that England was moving swiftly into a new era; and they sought 
to link past and future by leaving a fuller account of the present 
as they saw it. About the year 1120 the monks of Peterborough 
secured a copy of the old Worcester chronicle, that had come down 
from the days of Alfred the Great, and for thirty-four years longer 
continued the entries of this famous register. Henry of Hunting- 
don and William of Malmesbury, contemporaries of Henry I. and 
Anselm, also began their histories; such works show how seriously 
Englishmen were beginning to regard the actions of their public 

^tubbs, S. C, pp. 107-110. 

1117-1133] EDUCATION lil'.t 

Historical writing was only one of many ways in which the 

quickened intellectual life of the age sought expression. Henry 

himself was an educated man. He spoke English and 
Education. -ni <• iii t , • i-i 

.trench as a matter of course, and could use Latin like 

a clerk. He saw to it that his children also were trained in the 
lore of the age. His court was familiar with the forms and faces 
of famous scholars. His son, Robert of Gloucester, was the par- 
ticular friend and patron of William of Malmesbury. At Beau- 
mont, on the northern side of Oxford, Henry erected a palace, and 
the neighborhood became a popular place for the gathering of 
learned men. Here, sometime before the year 1117, Thibaut 
d'Estampes gathered some half hundred or more scholars to whom 
he gave instruction in letters. In 1133 Robert Pullin lectured on 
the Scriptures, and was soon after seconded by Vacarius, who 
began lectures on the civil law. 1 Upon the informal beginnings 
made by such men grew up in time tho noble group of schools 
known as the University of Oxford. 

In other ways also the monastery contributed to swell the tide 
of new influences which was moving England. The Cluniac 

reform had reached its height during the reign of the 
r!n>rm Uniac ^ rst William, and his policy of appointing Normans to 

rule over English abbeys, as well as the policy of intro- 
ducing into England new colonies of Norman monks, had done 
much to bring English monasticism into touch with the monastic 
life of the continent; yet, although the influence of these' foreign 
ecclesiastics over the English clergy was very great, although their 
advent had inaugurated a new church-building era, the results 
of -which in the vastness, ornateness, and splendor of individual 
structures surpassed anything which England had yet seen, 2 

1 The commonly accepted date, 1149, is doubtful. 

-Of these structures the most famous was old St. Paul's of London. 
A building had been begun in 1083, but was burned in the great fire four 
years later. The rebuilding was undertaken by Bishop Maurice and took 
forty years to finish. The dimensions of the completed edifice were: 
length, 720 feet; breadth, 130 feet: height of body of church. 130 feet; 
while the steeple rose to the magnificent height of 520 feet. According 
to William of Malmesbury, the building was capable of containing the 
"utmost conceivable number of worshipers." The structure survived 


the fact that the new ecclesiastics were of foreign birth cut 
them off largely from the sympathy of the nation; nor was it until 
the generation of the Conquest had passed to the grave and the 
reign of Henry I. was drawing to its close, that their influence 
began to reach beyond the walls of chapter or monastery to affect 
the lives of the people in more direct ways. 

In the year 1128 the forerunners of the Cistercian revival began 
to reach England. This new order was an offshoot of the older 

Benedictine brotherhood ; it had been founded by Rob- 
Sn?eS. ert of Molesme at Citeaux in 1098; its members adopted 

the rules of Cluny and applied them unsparingly in the 
regulation of food and dress. The older monasteries had become 
very wealthy. Wealth had led to luxury, if not to riotous living. 
The monastery was lord of manors, with vassals and revenues ; it 
furnished its quota of knights at the king's call. The abbot vied 
with bishops in dignity and power ; he had his wine cellars ; he 
kept his stables and kennels. There had never been lacking, how- 
ever, godly men who felt that all this fine living, this ostentation 
of wealth, was not in keeping with the ideals of the monastic life, 
and to such elements the apostolic simplicity of the Cistercians, 
their lives of voluntary poverty, and their deep religions zeal, voiced 
in the stirring appeals of men like Bernard of Clairvaux, the 
famous preacher of the second Crusade, came with peculiar power. 
The appearance of the Cistercians in England was the signal for 
the beginning of a wide-reaching religious revival. "Everywhere 

in town and country men banded themselves together 
o/cS<ZL for P ra y er ; hermits flocked to the woods ; . . . a new 
inEngiand, S pj r it of devotion woke the slumbers of the religious 

houses, and penetrated alike to the home of the noble 
and the trader. " 1 Nor did the revival pass away in mere devo- 
tional excitement; it left a deep and permanent mark upon the 

many vicissitudes until it was swept away in the great fire of the year 
1666. Another building which also dates from this period, famous in later 
years as containing the tomb of Milton, is the Church of St. Giles at Crip- 
plegate, the order for the destruction of which has recently (Jan., 1901) 
gone forth. 

1 Green, H. E. P., vol. I, p. 157. 


nation and upon the age. A new class of ecclesiastics came for- 
ward who owed their positions not to political influence but to 
their reputation for "holiness of life and unselfishness of aim;" 
who sought to give practical expression to religious devotion in 
rearing hospitals and founding schools; who did not hesitate to 
confront lawless barons, and who compelled even kings to listen to 
the pleadings of the national conscience. 

The churches of the Cluniac monks had abounded in decora- 
tions, in beautiful windows of stained glass; their services were 
equally ornate. The asceticism of the Cistercians 

(-Mercian extended to the servico as well as to the luxurious lives 

of the religious orders. They despised ornament both 
in building and in ritual. Yet in the very simplicity of their 
buildings they attained a dignity and grandeur, a beauty of form, 
which the ostentatious Cluniacs missed altogether. 1 

It was the custom of the Cistercians also in their desire to avoid 
display or ostentation to search for sites for their monastic settle- 
ments in some abandoned wilderness, some lonely spot 
a*\vt»>i- in the forest, some waste bottom-land, where they 

{/rower*. i • -i i i • ,1 i .i • 

busied themselves m the homely but practical service ot 
clearing woodland or draining fens. It was due to them that, 
beginning with the twelfth century, pasture-farming derives a new 
importance in the history of English industries. Large parts of 
northern England had been practically unoccupied since the days 
of the Conqueror, and these desolate regions afforded most favor- 
able conditions for the breeding of sheep. The Cistercians discov- 
ered that this form of industry promised most abundant rewards, 
and turned to it as their special avocation, becoming par excellence. 
the sheep-raisers of medieval England, greatly encouraging wool- 
growing and all the accompanying industries. 

1 The famous Abbey of Fountains, near Rrpon, said to be the finest 
ecclesiastical ruin jn England, is an illustration of the Cistercian style. 
It was built in the fourteentli century. 



STEPHEN, 1135-1154 
HENRY II., 1154-im 


Stephen = 
Ct. of Blois, 
Chartres, and 

youngest child 
of the Conqueror 
m. 1086, d, 1137 

Theobald IV., 

the Great, 

Ct. of Blois, 

Chartres, and 



. I 


Ct. of Mortain 
and Boulogne, 
1125; King of 
England, 1135; 

d. 1154 

Ct. of Cham- 
pagne and 

Theobald V. 

Ct. of Blois 

and Chartres 


Bishop of 
ter; Papal 


Lord of 


Eustace II. = Godgifu, d. of 
Ct. of Boulogne I Ethelred, the 
d. (about) 1093 Redeless 

Eustace III. = Mary, g. d. Godfrey 
Ct. of Bou 
logne, d. 

1125 garet of 


King of 

of Malcolm of Bouil- King of 
and Mar- Ion, Duke Edessa; 
of Lower after 
Lorraine. 1100 
First King of 

Christian Jerusa- 
King of lem, d. 
Jerusa- 1118 
lem, ■'. 

d. 1152 

d. 1153 

Ct. of 

Mary, Abbess Other 
of Bomsey; children 
1159 succeeded of minor 
to Boulogne; impor- 
m. Deitrich tance 
of Flanders 

When the masterful Henry was no more it was hardly to be 
expected that the barons would show much respect for the disposi- 
tion which he had made of the succession. The barons 
skm of considered themselves specially grieved by what they 

regarded as the late king's bad faith, and felt no obliga- 
tion to keep the oath which they had made to the daughter and 
the grandson. Matilda, moreover, had spent much of her life 
abroad; the people knew little of her, and that little had left a 
most unfavorable impression. When, therefore, Stephen, the 
Count of Mortain and Boulogne, the son of the Conqueror's 
daughter, Adela, presented himself as the rival of Matilda, brave, 
generous, debonaire, and already well known and popular in Eng- 



land, all classes welcomed him; the towns greeted him with 

enthusiasm; the great officers of Henry I. declared for him; and 

the clergy, headed by Stephen's younger brother, Henry, bishop 

of Winchester, entered upon an active campaign in his support. 

The Norman barons hesitated, not because of any lingeriug loyalty 

to Matilda but because they preferred Stephen's elder brother, 

Theobald the Great, the powerful count of Blois, Chartres, and 

Champagne. The prompt action of Stephen, however, forestalled 

any movement on behalf of Theobald ; Theobald himself quietly 

acquiesced in what appeared to be the choice of the English 

nation, and the barons almost to a man went over to Stephen. 

So Stephen was crowned and not Matilda; in all England and 

Normandy Matilda possessed not a single open adherent. 

Stephen had hardly entered upon his first year before 

good men began to realize that a serious mistake had been 

made, and that he was singularly unfitted for the 

Unfitness of task which he had assumed. He had made many prom- 
Stephen. J * 

ises: he would not use the church lands for gain; he 

would abolish the wrongs sprung of the overfree exercise of the 
authority of the sheriif*; he would do away with the hated Dane- 
geld; he would surrender the forests made in Henry's reign; he 
would observe "the good laws and customs of Henry and Edward 
the Confessor." "These things chiefly and others he vowed to God, 
but he kept none of them." He was as lavish with his gifts as 
with his promises; but he bestowed them not upon those who had 
first declared for him but upon those who held back and sought to 
barter allegiance for a price. Among these was David of Scot- 
land, who was an English baron by reason of lands which he held 
in England. He made a show of declaring for Matilda, invading 
England and seizing the northern castles, but allowed Stephen to 
buy him off by adding Carlisle to his possessions and bestowing 
upon his son Henry the earldom of Huntingdon. Such a policy 
on Stephen's part was suicidal; it whetted the appetites of others 
who saw that they had yielded all too readily to the new king, 
for subjects had nothing to fear from this overgenerous sovereign, 
who in rewarding his servants recognized treason rather than 

204 FEUDAL REACTION [stkphbn 

Stephen's head was none of the clearest, and yet even he could 
see that things were going wrong, and that reaction was setting 
in against him. But he only added blunder to blunder. 
dew of To strengthen himself he introduced an army of Flemish 

mercenaries ; no measure could have been more fatal to 
his waning popularity, which in the first place had been largely based 
upon his supposed opposition to foreign influence. But, as if this 
blunder were not serious enough, Stephen allowed the barons whom 
he regarded as his adherents to build and fortify castles of their 
own, where they gathered private bands of armed retainers and 
soon began to exercise over the people of the surrounding country 
all the brutal tyrannies which had made the baronage of France so 
justly feared and hated. Yet these concessions, while they 
alienated the people, failed to win the barons; for they were more 
than offset by the strange fatuity with which Stephen insisted 
upon raising certain base-born favorites to the high grade of earl; 
a policy which only roused the scorn of the older baronage and 
won for the king their lasting hatred and contempt. 

By 1136 Stephen's hands were full of trouble. The perfidious 

David had again taken up arms, while the powerful Robert, Earl 

of Gloucester, the half-brother of Matilda, had gathered 

outbreak of the barons of the west and south and also declared for 

cvml war. 

Stephen's rival. Yet Stephen's cause was by no 
means desperate. He was a good soldier, and soon won marked 
successes in the west, where Hereford and Shrewsbury were taken, 
while his "good queen," Matilda, daughter and heiress of the 
younger Eustace of Boulogne, 1 not to be confounded with the 

other Matilda, captured Dover. In 1138. Earl Robert 
ton. the was driven from the country and some of his garrisons 

Standard, were hanged. David of Scotland also was beaten at 

Northallerton in the famous Battle of the Standard, by 
an army of barons and yeomanry, whom Thurstan, the aged 
primate of York, had called together and dispatched under Walter 
Lespec to hold the road into Yorkshire. 

All in all, the first years of the war had gone well for Stephen ; 
too well, in fact, for h is head had been completely turned by his suc- 
1 See table at head of chapter. 


cesses, and lie seized upon this moment for his fatal break with the 
church. Henry's justiciar, Roger bishop of Salisbury, was still 

the great man of the kingdom, and controlled all its 
u'^rinu'ch administrative machinery. His son, a second Roger, was 

chancellor; his nephew, Nigel, the bishop of Ely, was 
treasurer; still another nephew was bishop of Lincoln. It is easy 
to see why Stephen should become jealous of this powerful family, 
who now for a full generation had managed the "judicial and 
financial business of the kingdom." It is not so easy to under- 
stand the strange blindness which permitted him to break with 
thern. Roger had many bitter enemies among the barons, but he 
had made them his enemies in the king's service. He and his 
nephews had built strong castles and were accustomed to go up to 
court attended by a magnificent array of retainers. This was all 
contrary to law, but everywhere the barons, the very vassals of 
Roger and his kinsmen, were building castles and arming their 
retainers. With vast revenues at command, therefore, and the 
dignity of the state to uphold, Roger could hardly do less. Be 
this as it may, in June 113!) Stephen suddenly arrested the justiciar 
and the chancellor, the two Rogers, and also the bishop of Lin- 
coln, and forced them to surrender their castles. The move was a 
double blunder. In the first place the "whole mechanism of the 
state at once came to a stand still." In the second place the 
church, which had been from the first thoroughly loyal to the king, 
raised the cry of privilege, and when Stephen stubbornly held to 
his purpose, the clerical leaders, headed by Henry of Winchester, 
went over to the Angevin side. 

Thus Stephen, in striking down Roger, had done more than 
strike down a powerful family; he had cut away the ground from 

under his own feet. The royal income at once ceased, 

i,f stenhen'H and the king was compelled to resort to the shabby expe- 
blundcr. ~ / J l 

dient of dishonest coinage. The national levies refused 

to respond to his call, and he was compelled to summon from the 

continent a horde of ruffian adventurers, who were willing to look 

to the plunder of the battle field and the looting of the houses of 

citizens for their pay. In September the- Angevin Matilda arrived, 

accompanied by Robert of Gloucester, and Stephen at last found 

206 FEUDAL REACTION [stbphbn 

himself in the field face to face with his powerful rival, but shorn 
of all the advantages which belonged to him as the crowned and 
accepted king. 

Matilda the ex-empress, however, did not succeed in winning 
the confidence which Stephen had squandered. The barons as a 

class were well pleased with the discord, and desired to 
o^anarchy exa lt neither Stephen nor Matilda, "lest if the one were 

overcome, the other should be free to govern them." ' 
Henry of Winchester, who had been appointed papal legate a short 
time before the arrest of Roger, and who held a position of influ- 
ence in the church even greater than that of Theobald, the new 
archbishop of Canterbury, sought to act as arbitrator; but he 
was without military support and found himself compelled to 
favor first one side and then the other. Castles soon began to 
blossom on every hill side; each with its independent lord, who 
bullied and browbeat his neighbors, spreading the terror of his, 
name over the country for many miles around. And as "some 
would endure no superior and some not even an equal, they fought 
among themselves with deadly hatred," spoiling the fairest regions 
with fire and rapine. "They greatly oppressed the wretched peo- 
ple by making them work at these castles, and when the castles 
were finished they filled them with devils and evil men. Then they 
took those whom they suspected of having any goods, by night and 
by day, seizing both men and women, and they put them in prison 
for their gold and silver and tortured them with pains unspeak- 
able. " z "They were continually levying an exaction on the towns, 
which they called tenserie (protection money), and when the 
wretched inhabitants had no more to give, then plundered they 
and burned all the towns, so that thou mightest well walk a whole 
day's journey, nor ever shouldst thou find a man seated in a town, 
or its lands tilled." 3 Trade and agriculture were of course impos- 
sible; "if three men came riding into a town, all the inhabitants 
fled." "God and the saints," it was said, "were asleep." Devil- 
ish engines of torture called "rachen tages" were so cunningly con- 

1 Henry of Huntingdon, p. 227. 

2 William of Newbury, I, 22. 
3 Ang. Sax. Chronicle, a. d. 1137. 


trived, that when one was fastened about a man's neck, he could 
neither "sleep, nor stand nor lie, but had to bear all the weight 
of iron." Men were hung up over slow fires and left to suffocate 
in the choking smoke ; they were cast alive into dungeons, swarm- 
ing with rats and toads, and there left to die and rot. 

In the years 1139 and 1140 Matilda and Robert succeeded in 
establishing themselves in the western counties. Stephen con- 
tinued to hold his own in the east. But in 1141 he was 
Mauida, defeated by Robert and Ralph of Chester in an attempt 


to rescue Lincoln, and himself fell into the hands of the 
victors. For a short time Matilda's cause was in the ascendant; 
Oxford castle was surrendered, and London submitted. In April 
Bishop Henry called a great council at Winchester and formally 
acknowledged Matilda as "the Lady of the English." 

There was now no question of Stephen's unfitness for his office; 
he had tried to rule and had failed. It was Matilda's turn to give 

evidence of even greater unfitness, if that were possible. 
T/!e£^T' She was Ethelred the Redeless in petticoats. She 
"latadm refused to listen to the counsel of Henry of Winchester 

and drove him from her by her injustice. She insti- 
tuted a wholesale confiscation of the lands of those who had sided 
with Stephen ; she seized the property of the church and disposed 
of it to her liking ; she attempted to extort money from leading 
citizens by open violence, and bluntly refused to grant the plea of 
the people of London for the laws of Edward the Confessor. The 
landing in Kent of the other Matilda, the queen of Stephen, with 
a force of Flemings at once brought on the reaction. London 
rose as one man; and "The Lady of the English" was hurled from 
her high state even more rapidly than she had risen. Then she 
turned her wrath upon Bishop Henry and sought to take him in 
his own castle. But Stephen's queen, with her Flemings and the 
men of London, compelled her to raise the siege and withdraw. 
Robert of Gloucester was taken in endeavoring to cover the retreat. 
The capture of Robert was the beginning of the end as far 
as the dynastic struggle was concerned. In the autumn he was 
exchanged for Stephen, but the fall of Oxford the next year ended 
the forward movement of Matilda's party. For five years longer 

208 FEUDAL REACTION [stkphkn 

she remained in England ; but both sides were now so exhausted 
that neither could make headway against the other, or chain the 

turbulent spirits which they had unloosed. Geoffrey de 
dynastic Mandeville, who had been appointed earl of Essex by 

both claimants, yielded to neither and betrayed either as 
it suited him. The earl of Leicester and his brother, the count 
of Meulan, held the midlands, but proposed to be neutral. North 
England was held by the Scottish king. So matters stood, until 
the capture of Ealph of Chester in 1146, followed by the death of 
Robert of Gloucester the next year, finally discouraged Matilda 
and she withdrew to the continent. 

After the departure of Matilda, the war was left to burn itself 
out in local partizan strife; the preaching of a new Crusade drew 

off some of the more restless spirits; the clergy slowly 
o?the%t!!rm rec °vered their influence and the king again guaranteed 

them protection. Thus gradually the storm subsided; 
but England was sinking hopelessly into the hands of the feudal 
baronage. Even Stephen, rash and headstrong as he was, shrank 
from stirring up such a new war as would be necessary to force 
upon his barons the system which had prevailed under his prede- 

While Matilda had been thus pursuing her dubious way in Eng- 
land, her husband, Geoffrey Plantagenet, had with better success 

been reducing the castles of Normandy. By 1144 he had 
ftrerwuiof gained control of the entire duchy and was recognized 
ArStm. of ky Louis VII. of France as duke of Normandy; six years 

later he turned it over to Prince Henry, then in his 
seventeenth year. In 1149 the young duke appeared in England, 1 
but little came of his visit, save a knighting at the hand of his 
great-uncle, David of Scotland. His power on the continent, how- 
ever, continued to increase. In 1151 Geoffrey died, and Henry 
became also lord of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. In the following 
spring he married Eleanor, the divorced wife of Louis VII. , and 
secured her magnificent heritage, Aquitaine, Poitou, Saintonge, and 
Limousin. Henry had thus become lord of all western France, 

1 He had visited England before in 1142 and in 1147. 


\& o -L& * 

fl/y.S.nn,. .MAIjO^>> /Orb.™ 

fe" - * o h 

■B / 





■ i 4Q " ' I 



Brittany alone excepted. He was the mightiest subject in the 

The jealousy of Louis VII., Henry's overlord, was thoroughly 

aroused. He hated Henry because he had married Eleanor 

and won her lands. He feared him because of his 

T)l6 T€JV€W(ll 

<>f the power. He encouraged Stephen to allow his eldest 

son Eustace to join in an attempt to wrest Normandy 
from Henry's hands. A first attempt had been made in 1151 
before the death of Duke Geoffrey. The second attempt, made after 
the marriage of Eleanor, fared no better, although Louis was sup- 
ported by Henry's younger brother Geoffrey of Anjou, Theobald 
V., count of Blois, nephew of Stephen, and others of Henry's vas- 
sals. Henry drove back the French king, brought his own vassals 
to terms, and then turned to carry out the invasion of England for 
which he had been planning for two years. 

In England matters were drifting from bad to worse. The 
church was now thoroughly involved in the quarrel, and was as 
seriously rent asunder as the baronage. Theobald, the 
the 1 wme <md archbishop of Canterbury, had sided with the Angevins, 
while Henry Murdoc, recently won by Stephen, had 
been made archbishop of York. Appeals to Rome, virtually 
unknown during the early Norman period, had become absurdly 
frequent. For every petty quarrel men hastened off to Rome to 
get the judgment of the pope, and in January 1151 Stephen sent 
Archbishop Henry to get the papal sanction for the immediate 
coronation of Eustace. The coronation of the son before the death 
of the reigning king had been common enough in France but had 
been heretofore unknown in England. It was Stephen's last hope. 
The ground was sinking beneath him. Even the barons of his own 
making were growing weary of the strife and ho felt that since he 
could not depend upon them, a coronation at the command of the 
pope might furnish a respectable claim for Eustace. But the pope 
had no wish to see the confusion continue; Stephen, moreover, had 
sinned too grievously against the church to be easily forgiven. 
The pope, therefore, not only refused to sanction the consecration 
of Eustace, but forbade the English bishops to have anything to 
do with the proposed ceremony. Armed with this prohibition 

210 FEUDAL REACTION [stbphkh 

the bishops refused all the solicitations of Stephen. Stephen 
became furious and threatened them with personal violence. A 
few apparently indicated their willingness to submit; the rest 
refused ; Theobald retired to the continent. Stephen then once 
more drew the sword, took Newbury and advanced upon Walling- 
ford whose garrison through all these years had refused to recog- 
nize any other lord save Matilda and her son. 

It was at this juncture that Henry reached England. His 

army was small, 1 but many men were hardly needed; all classes 

were disgusted with the senseless tyranny of Stephen. 

fourth ap- The Angevin garrison at Wallingford was saved ; Malmes- 

pearancein -, " . . 

England, bury tell; other places as Warwick, Leicester, Stamford, 
and Nottingham either were taken outright or their 
garrisons declared for Henry of their own accord. 

At this point the sudden death of Eustace gave an entirely 

new aspect to the struggle by removing Stephen's last hope of 

securing the crown in his own family. A plan of com- 

Deathof . & / * 

Eustace, promise had already been proposed, by which Henry 
should withdraw and Stephen should recognize him as 
his heir. As long as Eustace lived, Stephen had been loath to 
yield, but there could be no reason now for holding out longer. 
He had other children, but on account of their youth they had not 
been identified with the struggle and had no following. Accord- 
ingly Stephen determined to accept terms which promised him a 
whole kingdom for the rest of his life in lieu of the fragment 
which then acknowledged him. 

The terms of the treaty are of importance because better than 

the rhetorical effusions of any chronicler, they present the results 

of "this period of unprecedented general misery" and 

Thepeaceof , r *f. & . J 

Wallingford, the longing of the nation for peace. It was in fact a 
definite scheme of reform, an expression of the desire of 
all parties to get back again to the order and unity which had pre- 
vailed under Henry I. (1) The royal rights were to be resumed 
by the king. (2) All estates were to be returned to the lawful 
owners who had enjoyed them in King Henry's day. (3) The 
"adulterine" or unlicensed castles which had been erected during 

1 140 men-at-arins and 3,000 foot. Ramsay, II, 448. 


Stephen's reign to the number of eleven hundred and fifteen, were 
to be destroyed. 1 (4) The king was to restock the desolute 
country, employ the husbandmen, and as far as possible restore 
agriculture and replace the flocks and herds in the impoverished 
pastures. (5) The clergy were to have their peace and not be 
unduly taxed. (6) The jurisdiction of the sheriffs was to be 
revived and men were to be placed in the office who would not 
make it a means of gratifying private friendship or hatred, but 
would exercise due severity and give every man his own; thieves 
and robbers were to be hanged. (7) The bands of mercenary sol- 
diers were to be broken up and sent home ; the Flemings to be 
relegated to their workshops, "there to labor for their lords, instead 
of exacting labor as lords from the English." (8) The general 
security was to be maintained, commerce to be encouraged, and a 
uniform coinage struck. (9) Stephen was to retain the crown 
during the rest of his life, but Henry was to succeed him. 8 

The negotiations were begun at Wallingford in the summer, but 

were not concluded until the November following at Westminster. 

On the 13th day of the new year Henry received the 

'J'/'ijiof oath of the barons at Oxford, and in Lent returned to 

Stephen, U54. ' 

the continent. The long struggle of fourteen years was 
at last ended. Stephen had pledged himself to restore the king- 
dom ; but even at his best he would have been unfit for such a task. 
lie was now, moreover, a broken man; the spirit was gone out of 
him; and a few months after the return of Henry he passed away, 
leaving the great part of the work of restoration still undone. 

Henry had just reached his twenty-first year. He was of square 
frame, in later years inclining to the stout, with fiery face, short 

red hair, bull neck, bowed legs; as restless and active 
orwenriT as ne was s ^ ron S- He was temperate in food and drink ; 

careless in dress; well versed in books; talkative, and 
inquisitive, yet cautious; coarse in his tastes and unscrupulous. 
He was one of the few monarchs of his time who cared for power 
more than for glory or pleasure. His entire thought he devoted 

1 This lias been the commonly accepted estimate but the number prob- 
ably did not exceed a third of this. 
2 Stubbs, C. H.I, p. 361. 


to business, and took delight in looking after the smallest details 
himself and in experimenting with different methods. In matters 
of religion he showed a startling irreverence, mingled with curious 
superstition. He would amuse himself during mass by scribbling 
or whispering, occasionally breaking out into paroxysms of ungov- 
ernable profanity ; yet he could be terrified by an accusing con- 
science and at times sink into depths of hopeless remorse. 

Energy, force, the love of order, and the masterfulness of both 
races were concentrated in the fiery blood of this Norman- 
Angevin ; and he had need of it all. His first task was 
of the to take up the work of restoration and reorganization as 


Stephen had left it. The foreign mercenaries were 
sent home. The destruction of the illegal castles continued. 
The new earls who had been set up by Stephen and Matilda were 
deposed, and the royal domains which had been frittered away 
when the rivals were bidding against each other for support, were 
taken again "into the king's hand." The king of Scotland was 
forced to give up Northumberland and Cumberland. If a baron 
refused to give up his lands or renounce his privileges, as in the 
case of William of Aumale who had intrenched himself in the north 
at Scarborough castle, the king promptly took the field and 
brought the rebel to terms. So effectively in short did Henry set 
his face against the further continuance of feudal practices, 
private warfare or private coinage or private justice, that in an 
incredibly short time the work was finished and the last traces of 
the anarchy which had disgraced Stephen's reign, had been 
stamped out. 

Henry then set himself to restore the administrative system of 
the kingdom. The great council was revived and once more 

honored by the confidence of the king. The Curia 
oftheayttem Regis was also restored and strengthened. Able men 

were selected for office ; Robert, earl of Leicester, and 
Richard de Lucy became justiciars; Becket became chancellor and 
Nigel of Ely, a nephew of the great Roger of Salisbury, treasurer. 
The revenues soon increased threefold. The sheriffs were required 
to come to the exchequer twice a year in order to render account 
for the collection of taxes and the management of the king's 



estates. Their accounts were kept by 
means of "tallies" or notched sticks. 
These "tallies" were issued in duplicate, 
the exchequer keeping one, the sheriff 
carrying the other away in his wallet. In 
the exchequer chamber the officers sat 
about a dark covered table and the ac- 
counting was carried on before them in 
full view, by means of discs or counters. 

£ £ £ £ £ s d 100. 20. 


The resemblance of the operation to the 
game of chess probably suggested the 
name, exchequer. It was a primitive 
method, but one which could be easily 
understood by all, and was in fact nec- 
essary when sheriffs generally could neither 
read nor write. 

The most striking figure at Henry's 
council-board was his chancellor, Thomas 
a Becket. Thomas was born of one of 
the Norman families, which had recently 


1 From Introduction to Pipe Rolls — The large notches on left side of 
tallies represent pounds. The smaller notches on the right side represent 
shillings, the lines pence. 

a From Introduction to Pipe Rolls — 1-8, white wands, or chalk-lines, 
marking the columns of account. A A, terminal spaces, before which sat, 
on the right, the cliancellor and his suite, on the left, the sheriff and suite. 


established itself in England. His parents had brought him up 
with great care, and sent him to the continent to complete his 

education. He had then returned to England and en- 
BeckeT* tered the household of Archbishop Theobald, where he 

rose rapidly. ' He had also attracted the attention of the 
young king and with the approval of Theobald was made chancellor. 
He was some fifteen years the senior of Henry, and as long as Thomas 
remained in the chancellorship, the two were congenial spirits with 
but "one heart and one mind." They were often seen together, 
riding or hunting ; now bent in earnest converse at the council-board, 
and again making the passer-by stare, as they tumbled each other in 
rough horse-play. Thomas unlike the king was tall and spare, dark 
haired, but fair skinned and somewhat pale. His countenance was 
pleasing, his manners blithe and winning, and with no suggestion 
of the ascetic. He took pride in having the most sumptuous table 
in England, and was exceedingly fond of fine apparel, upon which 
the king loved to chaff him. He was strong of limb and loved 
vigorous hand-play. Although a churchman, he led a band of 700 
men-at-arms at Toulouse and overcame a French knight in single 
combat. His speech was quick and frank, yet halting somewhat 
when under excitement. "In youth he had been known as a good 
chess-player, a bold rider, and a keen sportsman. He hated liars 
and slanderers. He was a kind friend to dumb brutes and to all 
poor and helpless folk." 

As chancellor, Thomas identified himself thoroughly with 
Henry's schemes of reform. When the war of Toulouse was 
undertaken in 1159, it was Thomas who suggested to Henry the 
expedient of levying the scutage. The object of the war was to 
enforce the claims of Queen Eleanor to the suzerainty of Toulouse. 

Henry could hardly compel his English tenants to 
TouiouZe° f accompany him on a war of this kind over sea. It was 
<™d xcutaye, proposed therefore to allow a kind of commutation of 

service for a money payment of two marks for each 
knight's fee; an expedient by no means unknown before this 

1 It is said that he was at Rome when Henry Murdoc appeared to pre- 
sent Stephen's case and that it was largely due to his influence that the 
pope decided against the coronation of Eustace, see p. 209. 

1159-1162] THOMAS A BECKET 215 

period. This was the famous scutage and was paid not by the 
great barons, 1 but by those of the king's tenants who did not have 
large estates, and by under-tenants who could ill afford to leave their 
farms for so long a time. The move was certainly a wise one. 
The holders of small fees were given to husbandry rather than to 
war, and it was in the king's interests, especially after the dis- 
tractions of the recent civil wars, to encourage this class of his 
tenants in the pursuits of peace, rather than to tear them away to 
engage in the hazards of a foreign campaign. The additional rev- 
enue of the crown could also be turned to practical account in 
enabling the king to draw to his standard the professional sol- 
diers who were ever floating about Europe and were far more 
efficient in this kind of warfare than men who left their homes 
with reluctance, and who had little heart for the hardships of a 
war in which they took no interest. From Henry's day the 
scutage becomes more common ; it foreshadows a radical change 
in the methods of medieval warfare. 

Unfortunately for Thomas, Henry's scheme of reform included 
the church as well as the civil organization. The Conqueror had 

carefully separated the two jurisdictions: and the recent 
arciibUihop, anarchy had taught the clergy the full value of their 

special privileges. When therefore Henry proposed to 
bring the whole state under one system of law, he found a serious 
obstacle in the jealousy with which the clergy regarded any innova- 
tion which threatened to invade their peculiar immunities. In 
1101 the venerable Theobald died, and Henry proposod to put at 
the head of the English church none other than his fine chan- 
cellor. Some of the barons remembered the scutage and grumbled ; 
but the obsequious churchmen regularly elected Thomas and con- 
secrated him to the vacant see of Canterbury. 

Never was king more deceived in his man. Becket felt the 

hollowness of his past life in the presence of the new 

Effect of new ... , * 

retpoiixibiii- dignity to which the king proposed to raise him. "You 
tie* upon , . ort 

Thomax's are choosing a fine dress," ho exclaimed "to figure at 
character. ° b 

the head of your Canterbury monks." He felt too the 

weight of the new responsibility which he must face, and shrank 
'Baldwin, Scutage and Knight's Service in England, pp. 19-57. 


from it; "Whoever is made archbishop," he said, "must quickly 
give offense either to God or to the king." These protestations 
were the expression of no sham humility on Thomas's part; 
but the voice rather of a deeper nature, which through all these 
years had been in slumber, which Henry had never recognized and 
which possibly Thomas himself had but vaguely comprehended. 
It was this deeper nature, so unlike the gay worldling of the 
court, that awoke under unwonted burdens, and made Thomas as 
completely a man of the church as he had been before a man of 
the world. He at once resigned his chancellorship, much to the 
disgust of the king; renounced the vain amusements of the court 
and changed his whole mode of life. The same absorbing care 
which he had bestowed upon his civil office, he now gave to his 
new duties, relieving the poor and caring for the sick. Nor 
in his solicitude for the proper ministration of his office did 
he neglect his private religious duties. Yet of this inner life, men 
saw little; for Thomas was a magnificent archbishop. His dress 
was still of the richest, his tables as of yore groaned under the 
load of good things; but the guests had changed, instead of the 
gay butterflies of the court, the poor now sat down with Thomas. 
However, few understood him ; even in his charities men saw the 
same ostentation, that had once expressed itself in fine clothes. 
But when it was all over, and the assassins had fled from the pres- 
ence of their victim, and the terrified monks came creeping back 
into the dark chancel and took up the mangled corpse, then they 
knew this man. "Beneath the splendid robes they found the hair 
cloth, and saw on the body the stripes of daily secret penance." 

It was not long before the king discovered the true nature of 

his new archbishop. The next year after the election the king, at 

a council held at Woodstock, proposed to enroll as a 

The cmmeil ,,.,,. . 

<>f woo<ub>ck, part of the royal revenue, the two shillings which the 
sheriffs were accustomed to take from each hide in pay- 
ment of their services. 1 To this Thomas protested, and his 
vigorous words certainly were ominous of coming storm. "We 
will not give this money as revenue," he declared, "but if the 
sheriffs and servants and ministers of the shires shall perform their 

1 Not Danegeld. See Round, F. E., p. 497 and following. 


duties as they should, we will not be lacking in contributing to 
their aid." Becket was right and Henry had to yield. 

The issue between church and state, however, was not to be 

joined upon the taxation of church lands, but upon the broader 

question of the proper jurisdiction of the church courts. 

The question jjjver since the church courts had been separated from 

of jurisdiction. x 

the temporal courts, it was uncertain just where lay 
the boundaries which marked their respective jurisdictions. 
The system of canon law also, which had been introduced into the 
English church courts during the past century, had given rise to 
methods of procedure, very different from those in use in the 
secular courts. Appeals to Rome were encouraged and the num- 
ber had greatly increased. Most serious, however, was the custom 
of trying a "criminous clerk" in the court of the bishop, where if 
found guilty, he had little to fear save the imposition of a penance, 
or imprisonment in a monastery or a fine. At most he would only 
be unfrocked and deprived of the privileges of his order. In theory 
he should be degraded and handed over to the civil court ; but the 
churchmen were so jealous of their own independence, that they 
were inclined to spare even a notorious criminal, rather than call 
upon the laity to punish one of their members. The king's justiciars 
alleged that since the beginning of Henry's reign "no less than 
one hundred murderers and innumerable thieves and robbers" had 
in this way escaped punishment. 

Henry with his characteristic blnntness went straight to the 
point, and proposed that henceforth clerical criminals should be 
tried by the secular courts just as ordinary persons, and 
i»<>r»>t<ed that while they might be degraded by their bishops, they 
should be punished by the secular arm with the severity 
which the law prescribed. Thomas acknowledged the abuse, but 
claimed that the remedy was to be sought, not in sacrificing the 
independence of the church, but by greater care in receiving those 
who were presented for orders. And this he, as archbishop, had 
already conscientiously set himself to do. 

In 1163 the question was brought to a direct issue by the case 
of Philip de Broi, who was accused of a capital crime but escaped 
by claiming benefit of clergy. The impetuous king would not be 


put off longer and in a great council held at Westminster, put the 
direct question to the bishops : Would they abide by the customs 
councils of which prevailed in the time of Henry I. ? The churchmen, 
(mdciarm* however, were wary and would not commit themselves, so 

dmv - that the discussion was renewed again at Clarendon in 

the following January when Becket finally agreed to "obey the cus- 
toms of the realm." Henry then ordered the justiciar, Richard 
de Lucy, to present a list of these customs ; in nine days the report 
known as the Constitutions of Clarendon was ready. 1 

The discussion, however, had evidently drifted beyond the dis- 
posal of criminous clerks, and taken in the whole series of qnes- 
Cwwtitutims ^ ons ra i se( l hy the ill-defined relations of church and 
<)f clarendon, state. Not only were clerkly criminals no longer to be 
1164 - sheltered, but all questions concerning church patronage 

or church contracts or injuries claimed by clergymen against laymen, 
wore to be tried in the king's courts. Offenses not capital commit- 
ted by clergymen and suits relating to church lands held by spiritual 
service, were to be tried in the church courts. A layman could 
not be punished by the church courts. Tenants in chief or 
officers of the king could not be excommunicated without the 
king's consent. A clergyman could not appeal to Rome; nor 
were archbishops, bishops, or other persons to be allowed to leave 
the realm without the license of the king. No villain could be 
ordained without his lord's permission; no bishop could be chosen 
without the king's permission. 

To Thomas the constitutions were a cunning piece of tyranny. 

Whether in a moment of weakness he was induced by the bishops, 

who were now all with the king, to give his formal 

Thestruqgu asse nt or not is doubtful. At all events he left the 

with Becket. 

council, determined to fight for his cause to the end ; 
while Henry as naturally determined to use all his power to force 
the stubborn primate to resign. He summoned him to appear at 
a council at Northampton and then fined him for not coming. He 
made him give an account of the various moneys which he had 
handled as chancellor, although the justiciar, Richard de Lucy, 

1 Stubbs S. C. pp. 135-140. Also, Gee and Hardy, Documents, pp. 68-70. 

1166-1176] fiENRY>S REFORMS 219 

had formally released him from all claims when he resigned his 
office. Thomas, broken in fortune and forsaken by his fellow 
clergy, believed that his life was in danger and fled to Flanders. 
The king turned his anger upon the church of Canterbury and the 
dependents of Thomas, confiscating the revenues of the see and 
driving into exile the kinsmen and friends of the archbishop, to 
the number of four hundred. 

Henry, relieved by the voluntary exile of Becket, then went 
on with his reforms. As early as the Assize of Clarendon, 110(1, 
he had begun again* to send the justices from the 
'iu- c ,nr tU:eH ' Curia Regis to sit in the shire courts. Besides admin- 
istering justice, they were also expected "to look after 
the collection of the royal revenues, the enrollment of each person 
in a frank-pledge, and to see that all proper precautions were 
taken for keeping the king's peace." These justices were known 
as justices-in-eyre, from the Latin in itinere. In 1176 Henry 
formally divided England into the six permanent circuits which 
have remained with slight modification until recent times. 

The methods of procedure also received the touch of the same 
master hand. Civil causes, such as a dispute between two neigh- 
bors over the boundary of their farms, or the ownership 
Methods of . . , , , -, , , , 

legal pro- of a piece of wood, or the sale and purchase of cattle, 


had in ancient times been settled in full shire-moot by 
hearing the statements on oath of persons who claimed to know 
the facts; the decision was given by the body of suitors present. 
The Normans had introduced the judicial duel, or combat, in which 
the disputants, or in case of women or monks or the aged, their 
representatives, set to in the presence of the court and fought the 
matter out. The Norman method however, was never popular 
with English townspeople, who were no such lovers of broken 
heads and bleeding faces as the Norman barons. Henry offered as 
an alternative to those who preferred, the privilege of bringing 
their disputes before a body of sworn men, who made inquiry under 
oath, discovered the facts, and recorded them. Just when* this wise 
measure was introduced is unknown. In the Constitutions of 
Clarendon, the method is prescribed for the settlement of disputes 
about ecclesiastical property. 

220 FEUDAL REACTION [henry ii. 

The methods of criminal trial in vogue in the early twelfth cen- 
tury were even more crude than those used for the settlement of 

civil causes. According to the English method the 
nrwedure accused man was allowed first to clear himself if he 
juru° rarid could by the oaths of his neighbors, who simply vouched 

for his good character. If he failed in this, he was put 

to the ordeal. 1 The trial by battle was also allowed here as in civil 

cases; the accused challenging the accuser. In either case the 

appeal was supposed to be made directly to God, who knowing the 

hearts of men would interfere to save the innocent or punish the 

guilty. Henry in the famous Assize of Clarendon rein- 
assize of •-,.,, . • • ,. 

clarendon, stituted in the place of the accusations of private indi- 
viduals the jury of inquest, corresponding to the modern 
grand jury, which had been discontinued in Stephen's time but 
had been used apparently more or less since the days of Ethelred, 
when the twelve senior thanes of each hundred were accustomed to 
swear on the rood that "they would accuse no innocent man nor 
conceal any guilty man. " 2 Twelve legal men were now chosen from 
each hundred and four from each township, and when the justices 
came in circuit these sixteen presented to them upon oath any 
one in the hundred who was "notoriously a robber or murderer or 
receiver of such. " This jury was not a trial jury. It simply deter- 
mined whether the person accused ought to be tried or not. The 
trial then took place as before; but the only ordeal allowed by the 
Assize was that of cold water, which meant almost certain condem- 
nation. 3 The indictment of the jury, however, was a very serious 
matter of itself; for even if the accused succeeded in passing the 
ordeal, he was compelled to leave the country within forty days; a 
commendable way of ridding the community of undesirable char- 
acters. If he failed he was hanged, or otherwise punished as the 
judges might direct. 

In 1215 the practice of the ordeal was abolished throughout 
Christendom by the Fourth Lateran Council ; and as the jury of in- 

1 See page 90. 
2 StubbsS. C. p. 72. 
8 See page 90. 


quest alone was inadequate to secure the ends of justice, the custom 
grew up in England of supplementing it by a second jury, known as 
the petit or little jury, whose function was to review 
n/rnnulu'^ ^he wor k °f the jury of inquest in a special case and 
'h''i' l h',!tni r '" 1 e i tner affirm or deny its findings. It is interesting fur- 
ther to notice that the trial by battle remained, and that 
it was possible for the accused to select it in preference to a trial 
by petit jury as late as June 1819, when it was formally abolished 
by act of Parliament. 1 

In the management of the exchequer, Henry's purpose was to 
secure a large and steady revenue, yet levied equitably so as not 

to overburden any particular class. Accordingly he 
The murees . 1 

<>f Henry'* abolished the Danegeld which had ceased to be profit- 
able; but from the knights he took scutages, from 
the towns which were already growing up as centers of wealth he 
took tallages. The clergy who sometimes were inclined to claim 
immunity from taxation, he caused to bear their share by exacting 
from them special contributions under the gracious name of 
"gifts," — dma. From the estates of his own domain he received 
a steady stream of "ferms" paid by his custodians, and upon his 
officers also occasionally he levied the dona. The itinerant justices 
periodically visited the shires, holding pleas and gathering fees and 
fines, all of which went into the royal treasury. Another impor- 
tant income Henry derived from the Jews whom he undertook to 
protect against the intolerance and jealousy of the people in return 
for the payment of enormous sums of money. 

Yet although Henry honestly attempted to adjust taxation 
fairly, the burden rested grievously upon the necks of his people. 
m , For this he was not altogether to blame. The sheriffs 

The Inquest b 

<>f Sheriffs, as a body had been trained in the evil school of Stephen 
and were not above plundering the people for their own 
profit. The poor and the friendless were the most frequent suffer- 
ers. They were often turned out of their homes and compelled in 
order to live to take to thieving and plunder. The king's officers 
were making outlaws faster than the king's courts could hang 

1 For the famous Tliornton case of 1817. see Taswell-Langmead, 5th ed. 
pp. 103-105. 


them. Henry determined therefore to overhaul the whole system, 
and in the year 1170 sent out special commissioners to inquire 
whether the sheriffs were enforcing the laws ; whether they were 
taking bribes; how much money they were receiving from the 
counties and in a word to inquire into their entire official conduct. 
This was the famous Inquest of Sheriffs, conceived and carried out 
in a manner worthy of Charles the Great. It was no mere "white- 
washing commission." Twenty out of twenty-seven sheriffs were 
reported guilty of irregular practices and straightway deposed. 
The old sheriffs, moreover, had been selected from the great barons 
of the localities, some of whom held several counties and were in 
a fair way of assuming the importance of the former earls. The 
new appointees the king took from the exchequer; men of humble 
position who depended for their professional career solely upon the 
king's favor. 

For six years Becket had now been in exile. He had spent his 
time in a vain attempt to persuade Pope Alexander III. to espouse 
his cause. But Alexander was sore pressed by the 
re^mciiMum Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and was not inclined to 
arri ( Henry orea k w ^h the English king. Instead, therefore, of tak- 
ing up the cudgels for Becket, he used his influence to 
bring Henry and his obdurate primate to an understanding, but 
only with partial success. Becket insisted on condemning the 
obnoxious Constitutions, and the king as stubbornly refused to give 
him the "kiss of peace." 

• Matters were drifting in this uncertain way when Henry unfor- 
tunately contrived again to wound the pride of the archbishop. 
He had determined after the French custom to make 
w^again™ 1 n * s son ' H eni 7> king during his own lifetime, and thus 
not only secure the peaceful succession of the crown, 
something as yet unknown in the annals of the Norman kings, 
but also provide for the better government of the kingdom during 
his own frequent and unavoidable absences in Normandy. No one 
questioned Henry's right to have his son crowned. But unfortu- 
nately the privilege of crowning English kings had been by long 
custom and common consent conceded to the archbishop of Can- 
terbury. Henry, however, was in no mood to honor Thomas and 


allowed Roger, the new archbishop of York, an old enemy of 
Becket, to hallow the young Henry. Thomas was furious; he per- 
suaded the pope to suspend Eoger, and also the bishops 
cmwtiedat rv °* London and Salisbury who had taken part in the 
Jime'iilm' ceremon y- The king of France who was always ready 
to enlist against his rival of England and was never 
over-particular about the justice of his cause, was persuaded that an 
affront had been intended for him personally in that his daughter, 
the wife of Prince Henry, had not been crowned with her husband, 
and threatened war. The elder Henry quailed before the storm, 
and hastening to France attempted to conciliate Thomas, and finally 
persuaded him to return to England. When Thomas arrived, how- 
ever, Henry was still in France and the primate received but a cold 
welcome from those in authority. He first attempted to recover 
his confiscated estates, but with indifferent success; and when he 
complained, the young king laughed, refused to see him and bade 
him keep to his see. The reply of Thomas was to renew the sen- 
tence against Roger and the two bishops. The elder Henry at the 
time was at Bures, keeping the Christmas feast. The report of the 
new troubles of Becket were brought to him by the suspended 
bishops and put in such way, we may believe, as to reflect most dis- 
creditably upon the primate. The king heard, and in a moment of 
passion let slip the fatal words: "Here is a man that has eaten my 
bread; a pitiful fellow that came to my court on a sorry hackney 
and owes all he has to me, lifting his heel against me, and insult- 
ing my kingdom and my kindred; and not one of the cowardly 
sluggish servants I feed and pay so well has had the heart to avenge 
me!" Four knights heard the hot words of the king; returned to 
England, went to Canterbury, and there murdered the primate in 
St. Benedict's Chapel. 

Indignation and horror everywhere greeted this act of sacrilege. 

Henry cleared himself by oath of all complicity in the primate's 

death ; but his reforms trembled in the balance. The 

Result* of the , . 

murder of Constitutions of Clarendon were nominally abandoned; 

Thomas. J 

but there was no one to take up the cause of Thomas 
and there the matter rested. The whole question of the supremacy 
of the civil power was left open ; but to leave it open was to leave 

224 FEUDAL REACTION [hkxby u. 

the advantage in the king's hands and ultimately give him the 
victory. During the lifetime of Henry, Thomas was canonized, 
and his shrine, erected at Canterbury, soon became a very popular 
resort for English pilgrims. 

It is now time to notice the relation of the king of England to 
the other parts of the British islands. From the time of William 

I. the princes of Wales had acknowledged a nominal 
vmwu^tof'^ suzerainty, and Henry II. had carried on three wars with 
ueJhim indifferent success to make these claims good. The 

kings of Scotland had also acknowledged a dependence of 
a vague kind. A suzerainty over Ireland had not as yet been more 
than thought of. The Irish had made some headway in the arts 
of civilization and had early accepted Christianity, though they had 
not yet become attached to the see of Rome. In 1154 Pope 
Adrian IV. as lord of all the islands of the sea, issued a bull bestow- 
ing Ireland on the English king and exhorting him to extend hither 
the papal authority. Henry at the time meditated a plan of con- 
quest, but gave it up in deference to the objection of his mother 
who thought he had quite enough to attend to at home. Ireland was 
still in the old tribal stage with various rival princes constantly 
warring with one another. In 1166 a prince named Dermod fled 
to Henry and did homage to him in order to secure his aid. 
Henry was not yet willing to undertake the quest himself, but gave 
permission to such of his knights as were ready, to attempt it. 
Dermod easily found allies in the adventurous nobles of the Welsh 
border, who under the leadership of Richard de Clare, earl of 
Strigul, better known as "Strongbow," invaded Ireland and took 
possession of Leinster. Then lest such a colony if left in inde- 
pendence should prove a menace to the quiet of England, Henry 
asserted his authority as overlord. The outcome of the murder of 
Becket was at the time still in suspense and Henry was probably 
glad of any excuse for getting out of England. He compelled 
Strongbow's followers to submit to him, and besides .received the 
homage of all the princes of Leinster and Meath. Directly the 
homage of the Irish princes was of little significance, for they 
ignored it again as soon as Henry's back was turned ; but a foot- 
hold had been won in the island, a claim had been established 

1172-1174] REVOLT OF TI1E BARONS 225 

which was destined to draw the Irish ever more deeply under the 

shadow of their powerful neighbors. 

The family life of Henry reveals the same, sad blight which 

seems to have been the common lot of medieval kings. His warm 

nature craved affection and loyalty in those who were 
Revolt of the . . . t _,. i-, 

barona,U72- nearest to him, but Eleanor, proud and treacherous by 


nature, was incapable of bestowing either, and her sons 
were equally false and undutifnl. In 1172 the king repeated the 
coronation of Prince Henry, lie had already secured" Brittany for 
his second son, Geoffrey, by marrying him to Constance, heiress of 
Brittany; and had made his third son Richard duke of Aquitaine. 
The danger in this scheme w;is that the sons who were never overdu- 
tiful, would grow impatient of their father's control, and in hope of 
realizing their inheritances would lend a ready ear to the flat- 
teries of the king's many enemies. The younger Henry in par- 
ticular was a foolish and heady youth who was only too willing 
to believe that now he had been crowned, he ought to be really the 
king. Ho easily fell into the hands, therefore, of those who were 
jealous of Henry's greatness and who sought to use the youth ;is 
their tool. Eleanor and the younger sons also took side against the 
father. The barons of Normandy were soon deeply involved in the 
rebellion, actively aided by the princes of Scotland, Flanders, and 
Champaign. But the difficulties which faced Henry only brought 
out all the splendid energy of his character. On the continent he 
was favored by the dissensions of his enemies. In England his 
justiciars, de Lucy and Glanville, served him loyally and were sup- 
ported generally by the sympathies of the people. In Norfolk they 
took the arch rebel, the earl of Loicester, while in the north the 
royal forces led by Glanville and supported bytho men of Yorkshire 
gained a decisive victory over the Scots at Alnwick, taking their 
king, William the Lion. At the time, Henry was going through 
his seemly penance at the tomb of Becket, spending the night in 
prayers and tears, and offering his back to the scourges of the 
monks. The news of Alnwick was received as the sign of divine 
forgiveness; the rebellion was broken, the rebels were at the king's 
feet. Henry, however, was in no mood to punish ; he would shed no 
blood and he made scarcely any confiscations. Yet in the interests 


of good government he insisted upon taking all the castles 
into his own hands and thus completed the work which he had 
begun twenty years before. Before releasing the king of Scot- 
land from his prison at Falaise, he obliged him to do 
Fotafee°ij74 homage and acknowledge his supremacy over Scotland. 
The sons, however, were restored to their former posi- 
tions as prospective heirs to the various parts of Henry's dominions. 
Yet his trouble with them was by no means ended. The younger 
Henry went on with his intrigues until his death in 1183. The 
unpopularity of Geoffrey in Brittany made him also a source of 
constant trouble until his death in 1185. The death of Henry had 
left Richard the acknowledged heir to the throne, and the father 
proposed to transfer a part of Aquitaine to the portionless John. 
But Richard was in no mind to renounce any of his lands in the 
south and made cause with Philip against the father. 

Thus Henry struggled on amid the deepening gloom of declin- 
ing years. Yet he had not for a moment forgotten the great work 
to which he had devoted his life. In 1176 he renewed 
Northamp- the Assize of Clarendon at Northampton, and added 
other regulations for the better preservation of the 
peace. In 1178 he further organized the work of the Curia Regis 
by setting apart five judges and committing to them a great part 
of the judicial business, which it had been customary to bring 
before the Curia as a whole. This special committee developed 
ultimately into two separate courts, known as the Court of King's 
Bench and the Court of Common Pleas, which with the Court of 
Exchequer already organized, constituted three coordinate branches 
of the Curia. 

The last great measure of Henry for the better ordering of the 
kingdom, was the famous Assize of Arms. The Norman kings 
had often found the fyrd useful both in repelling for- 
Anm^im * ei & n i nvas i° n > as ft t Northallerton, and also in check- 
ing and overawing the barons. To encourage and 
strengthen the national forces, Henry proposed that every freeman 
.should find arms and equipment according to his ability, estimated 
by the amount of his property. The Assize directed that every 
one holding a knight's fee should possess a coat of mail with hel- 


met, shield, and lance; every man having chattels or receiving rent 
to tho value of 10 marks should be armed in like manner; one who 
was worth 10 marks should have a coat of mail, an iron cap, and a 
lance; other freemen should provide themselves with doublet of 
mail, iron cap, and lance. The lance was evidently the important 
implement of war; the bow was not yet conspicuous. 

As the years of Henry's reign drew to its close, the eyes of all 

Christendom were once more turned to the east. The Christian 

kingdom of Jerusalem had been established in 1099, as 

?,fjer£aUm one ot tlie results of tne First Crusade, and had led a 
'uJ} hc Turks ' precarious existence since, owing largely to the discords 
of the Christian knights rather than to the strength of 
their enemies. The surrounding Turkish states, small, and divided 
against each other, had been unable singly to drive out the 
strangers. But they had been united recently into a powerful 
state by the Sultan Noureddin and his son Saladin, who had suc- 
ceeded in combining all the vast military resources of the lands 
between the Nile and the Euphrates. Henry was particularly inter- 
ested, because through his grandfather Fulk of Anjou who had 
married for his second wife Milicent, the heiress of Jerusalem, an 
Angevin line had been established in the east. In 118(3 the last male 
representative of the eastern Angevins had died, and Sibyl, the 
surviving daughter, had bestowed herself and her father's crown 
upon Guy of Lusignan. The valiant Guy had made a noble stand 
against the rising strength of Saladin, but at the battle of Tiberias," 
July 1187, the last remaining strength of the Christians was swept 
away, and Jerusalem with the "true cross" fell to the victor as 
t he spoil of battle. 

The pope, (iregory VIII., had already sent out frantic appeals 
for help but the danger seemod remote, the western princes were 

all quarreling among themselves, and none had heeded. 
A new ('in- i 

tfacu i>r»- 1 hen there came the news of the brave but hopeless 
claimed. , r 

stand at 1 iberias, followed by the yet more astound- 
ing rumor of the fall of the holy city. Europe awoke as it had 
awakened a hundred years before under the fervid words of Peter 
the Hermit. The pope proclaimed the Crusade, and the princes 
of the west, swept along by the popular tide, dared not deny 

228 FEUDAL REACTION [fienky II. 

the demand of their people to be led once more against the 

Henry, to whom the misfortunes of Guy were almost a personal 
matter, had long before begun to prepare for the Crusade, but in 
1185 he had been compelled by the earnest protest of his bishops 
and barons to abandon his project for the time. He now persuaded 
the great council to devote to the holy cause a tenth part of the 
goods of every man in England, the "Saladin tithe." 1 He found, 
however, that he was not yet free to move. He soon became in- 
volved in a fresh quarrel with his son Richard and the young king 
Philip II. of France, who suddenly invaded Henry's continental 
dominions at a time when he was not only ill but had been aban- 
doned by his mercenaries on account of arrears of pay. Henry 
could make no resistance. He was driven out of Le Mans, the city 
of his birth, and at last compelled to accept an humiliating treaty in 
which he conceded the demands of Richard and Philip without 
reserve. Among these concessions, he agreed that Richard's asso- 
ciates should transfer their allegiance from the father to the son. 
The king called for the list, and when he saw at the head the name 
of John, his youngest born, whom he had not suspected of treason 
and whom he dearly loved, he read no further. "I have nothing 
left to care for," cried the broken-hearted man, "let all things go 
their way." He did not recover from the shock, but died three 
days later, attended only by Geoffrey, an illegitimate son, 8 and by 
" William Marshal, who had been the friend and supporter of the 
younger Henry and had attached himself to the father after 1183. 
The sad death of Henry closed a uniformly successful life. As 
head- of a compact kingdom and lord of nearly half of what is now 

France, his position among the princes of Europe was 
work of second only to that of the emperor. While Henry 

probably considered his continental interests of greater 
importance, the work which has given him his name lay in the 
island kingdom. His reign marks a great advance in the national 
life of England. The monarchy had triumphantly passed through 
the dangers of feudal anarchy. The king had proved himself to be 

'Stubbs, S. C, p. 160. 

* Not to be confused with the father of Arthur. 



the one great centralizing and unifying influence in the state. 
The barons had been spoiled of their castles; the authority of the 
laws of the realm over all classes vindicated and the supremacy of 
the king's courts established upon a permanent foundation. 



Philip I., d. 1108 
Louis VI., (I. 1137 
Louis VII., d. 1180 
Philip IL, 
Augustus, 1180 

Km- 1187 

Henry IV., (I. 1106 
Henry V. (son-in- 
law of Henry of 
England), d. 1125 
LothairlL, d. 1137 
Conrad III., d. 1I52 
Frederick I., 
Barbarossa, 11 "ii 

Malcolm III., d. 1093 
Donald Bane, king in 
IQin and again in 1094 
Duncan, 1094 
Kdgar. 1097-1106 
Alexander I., (/. 1124 
David I., d. 1153 
Malcolm IV., d. 1165 
William the Lion, 1165 


Urban II., d. 1099 
Paschal IX, d. ins 

CalixtusIL.d. 1124 
HonoriusII.,d. 1130 
Innocent II., d. 1143 
Hadrian IV., 1151- 

Alexander III., d. 

Urban III , d. 1187 


Lanfranc, d. 1089 
Anselm, 1093-1109 
Theobald, 1139-1161 
Thomas, 1162-1170 


Ralph Flambard, 1094-1 100 
Roger of Salisbury. 1107-1139 
Robert, Earl of l^icester, 1154-1167 
Richard de Lucy, 1154-1179 
Ranulf de Glanville, 1180 



RICHARD, 11*9 1199 
JOHN, 1199-1204 


Henry II. 


I I I I 

Henry, Geoffrey William Richard 

d. 1183 Archbishop Longsword King 

of York Earl of 1189-1199 

(illegitimate) Salisbury 


Matilda=Henry of Saxony 

Otto IV. Emperor, 


William II. 
of Sicily 

I I I 

Geoffrey, John Eleanor 

(i. 1186 King m. 

m. 1199-1216 Alfonso 

Constance m. King of 

of Brittany Isabella Castile 

I of | 

Arthur Angouleme Blanche 

Duke of to. 

Brittany, Louis 

murdered VIII. of 

1203 France 

After Henry's death Richard passed quietly to the English 
throne. There were disgraceful riots ending in massacres of Jews 
in various parts of the kingdom; but they were inspired 
iiu-imrd°! l0f by the desire of pious subjects to relieve their excess- 
1189 ' ive loyalty, rather than to show any feeling of hostility 

to the new king. In character Richard presented a marked con- 
trast to his father. Henry was a soldier only by necessity. He 
hated the riot and uncertainty of war. He loved order and pre- 
ferred to win his triumphs over the lawlessness of the time by the 
steady oncroachment of good government and wise administration. 
Richard was a soldier rather than an administrator; a knight errant 
rather than a statesman. His figure suggested great physical 
power and endurance. "His fresh complexion and golden hair" 
betrayed the viking blood. In dress he was showy and ostenta- 
tious; in the use of money, extravagant; in action, impulsive. 
Like Stephen he possessed the generous qualities of the soldier; 
but unlike Stephen, as his career in Poitou proved, he could 
enforce law and order. Yet he was full of visionary ambitions and 
possessed nothing of the Angevin aptitude for practical affairs. All 



in all he was a poor king. Although born in England, he had 
spent his youth abroad and knew little of the people over whom he 
was to reign. He remained always an Aquitanian, and seemed 
to regard his kingdom only as an appanage of his continental 
dominions. He cared little for its interests, treating it for the 
most part as a convenient source of supplies in carrying on his 
continental schemes. 1 

Richard had taken the cross in 1188, and his accession to the 
crown offered the means of putting his long-cherished plan of 
Rtch rd'K S om S on a Crusade into immediate execution. He 
ra&n** ° f f° im( l the treasury full, thanks to his father's thrift as 
money. much as to the recently collected Saladin tithe. But 

these sums were not sufficient to enable him to carry out his plans 
upon the scale which he meditated ; he set himself, therefore, to 
raise more money. He took fees from those whom he appointed 
to office and also from those whom he permitted to retire. The 
aged justiciar, Ranulf de Glanville, eminent as the first scientific 
writer upon English law, was allowed to buy his way out of office that 
he might take part in the Crusade. Rights and immunities were 
thrown on the bargain counter in reckless profusion; "I would 
sell London," the king exclaimed, "if I could find a purchaser." 
In return for a payment of 10,000 marks, he released the king of 
Scots from the homage which he had sworn at Falaise. 

TV€(ltll of 

FaiaUe To those who in a moment of thoughtless enthusiasm 

had taken the cross, he sold licenses to remain at home. 
The general traffic of the king in sheriffdoms, justiceships, church 
lands and appointments of all kinds, shocked even that age when 
public office had come to be regarded largely as a matter of private 
property; "all things were venal to him." "Thus the king 
acquired an infinite amount of money, more than any of his pred- 
ecessors is known to have had." 

In order to make provision for the government of the kingdom 
during his absence, Richard placed the authority of the justiciar 
jointly in the hands of Hugh of Puiset, the bishop of Durham, 
who paid £3,000 for the honor, and William of Longchamp, the 

1 For character of Richard see Norgate, England under Angevin Kings, 


chancellor. Longchamp was a foreigner, and said to be of mean 
birth. He had been raised over nobler heads to the chancellorship; 

then made bishop of Ely, and finally justiciar. He was 
pr»vide#for lame and ugly, but skillful and unscrupulous. He 

was hated by the nobles as a matter of course, and thus 
had every reason to be faithful to his master. 

In December 1189, Eichard left England for Palestine. But his 
back had hardly been turned before the two justiciars began to 

quarrel at the exchequer, and Longchamp, secretly sup- 
nde h of anded P or ted by the king, displaced his rival. His increased 
u8M C m mp ' P ovver » however, brought him no popularity. He took 

no pains to disguise his contempt for the English whose 
language he would not speak ; he gave offense to the nobles by 
placing his foreign friends and kinsmen in high positions, bestow- 
ing upon them the custody of castles and towns, which he seized 
under various pretexts. He lived himself in great luxury and 
pomp, traveling about the country with an extravagant retinue of 
fifteen hundred men. 

The growing unpopularity of Longchamp might not have 
been a serious matter, had it not been for Eichard's younger 

brother John, who saw an opportunity for mischief, 

Prince John 

a mischief- ' always grateful to his intriguing disposition. Richard 
and John had been generally upon good terms, although 
Eichard was not unaware of John's treacherous nature. He 
had refused to recognize him as his heir, and in the arrange- 
ment which he had made for the government during his absence, 
had further denied John any share in the administration. He 
had also exacted a promise from John under oath, that he would 
leave the kingdom for three years; but to conciliate him, had 
given him control of five counties with their revenues and castles. 
Against the advice of Eleanor, however, the wise precaution of 
keeping John out of England had been abandoned, and he was now 
lording it like a king in his five shires, and openly encouraging 
•the discontent of the deposed justiciar, Hugh of Durham, and the 
general restlessness of the barons under the insolence of Longchamp. 
An attempt of Longchamp to replace the castellan of Lincoln 
was resisted by John. For a moment it seemed that open war was 


inevitable; but the quarrel was patched up, aud Longchamp's 
tyrannies continued. John's half-brother, Geoffrey, had been 

recently made archbishop of York. Like John he had 
Fan »f Deeil compelled to promise under oath that he would 

keep away from England during the king's absence; but 
like John also he had been released, and in August 1191 returned. 
Longehamp refused to believe in the alleged release and sent his 
men to arrest Geoffrey in Dover church. The people, who had not 
yet forgotten the brutal deed of Henry's knights at Canterbury, 
beheld the archbishop, dragged by hands and feet through their 
filthy streets, bareheaded, his sacred vestments torn and dis- 
heveled, "clinging to his pastoral cross and excommunicating his 
tormentors as he went." The unseemly sight destroyed what 
little respect still lingered for Longchamp's authority. John 
at once took up Geoffrey's cause, and summoning a great council 
at London, forced Longehamp to leave the kingdom. Richard, it 
seems, had already heard of the difficulties of Longehamp and had 
sent back to England one of his father's old and long-tried officials, 
Walter of Coutances, archbishop of Rouen. Walter had reached 

England in April. At the moment everything was 
Walter of ? . * . . . . * . . 

coutancex, quiet and according to instructions he kept his secret 
justiciar. . . . . . 

commission in his wallet. But the time had now come 

to act, and producing his commission he quietly took Long- 
champ's place at the council board. The arrangement had been 
made by Richard's authority and John and his friends were 
forced to be satisfied. 

In the meanwhile Richard was having his heart's content of 

intrigue and wild adventure. lie and Philip of France had 

attempted to make the Crusade together, but had 

Richmtl and » ■• . ■»•■ • 

the Third quarreled from the start. At Messina, where thev 
Crusade. , 

passed the winter of 1190 and 1101, so hot ran the 

fierce war of words that they all but came to blows. In June 
Richard reached Acre where Guy of Lusignan, king of Jerusalem 
by right of his wife Sibyl, Richard's kinswoman, had been carry- 
ing on a profitless siege since 1189. Frederick Barbarossa, the 
fine old septuagenarian emperor, had set out in 1190 to reach Syria 
by land, but had been drowned while crossing the Calvcadmus, a 


little stream of Asia Minor. Only a small part of his army ever 
reached the Holy Land, and although Philip had arrived at Acre 
in April, the outlook was still very gloomy when Richard came. 
The camp was poorly arranged for the accommodation of large 
bodies of men, poorly drained and swept by pestilence. The ceme- 
tery near by already contained as many recruits as the armies that 
bivouacked before the city ; the solemn muster including the names 
of Baldwin of Canterbury, and Ranulf de Glanville, Henry's famous 
jurist. The arrival of Richard, his skill and spirit, soon put new 
life into the besiegers, and within a month the city fell. The next 
step would have been naturally the capture of Jerusalem and the 
restoration of Guy. But the capture of Acre had cost 300,000 
men; the leaders were divided and jealous of each other; the recent 
death of Sibyl, also, in the eyes of the German and French leaders, 
had destroyed Guy's claim to the crown. Thus a new bone of 
contention was thrown into the camp and Philip and many of the 
Germans went home in disgust, leaving Richard to carry on the 
contest alone as best he could. Twice he led his troops almost 
within sight of the sacred battlements ; he beat the Sultan in a 
great battle at Asuf ; still with his depleted hosts he could not 
secure the prize. Then came news of more mischief- making at 
home where Philip who had now reached France, was secretly 
lending his influence to John's schemes. Richard determined, 
therefore, to make the best terms he could with Saladin and return. 
He obtained a truce which yy&s to last three years, and which 
secured to Christians the privilege of visiting Jerusalem and trad- 
ing in the country. This done, Richard set out, leaving Hubert 
Walter, the crusading bishop of Salisbury, to bring home his army. 
Richard's troubles were by no means over. He had intended 
to land at Marseilles, but rumor of a plot of Raymond of Toulouse 

to seize him upon landing, turned him back to the sea. 
and capture, Finally, after long buffeting by contrary winds, he was 

wrecked near Ragusa and compelled to cross Germany 
on foot. Everything went well until he entered the dominions of 
Leopold of Austria, whom at the taking of Acre he had mortally 
offended by throwing down the duke's banner from the walls. 


Richard had donned a pilgrim's garb and had allowed his beard to 
grow long. But he was recognized in spite of his disguise, and as 
he approached Vienna was seized and cast into prison. 

Philip no sooner heard of the good luck of Leopold, than he 
began to plot deeper mischief with John. Together they cun- 
ningly spread the rumor that Richard was dead, and 
PhiUpand John was allowed to do homage for Richard's conti- 
nental dominions. But neither Eleanor, nor Bishop 
Geoffrey, nor Hugh of Durham could be caught by such a trick, 
and when John demanded the custody of the English castles, they 
defied him. Philip then attempted to rouse the king of Denmark 
to invade England, while he with a French army invaded Nor- 
mandy. The nobles of Aquitaine were as usual ready to revolt, 
and even in Anjou Philip found a sentiment widely prevalent 
among the nobility, that their true interests lay in a closer alliance 
with the French king. 

In the meanwhile Richard fared but poorly in the hands of his 
captors. He was, however, too valuable a prisoner to keep in secret 
confinement, or to destroy. Under the strange ideas 
Rtiharduf wn ^ cn prevailed, when states might play the footpad 
ofaa-man w ^ n dignity, Richard's capture was in fact a great 
speculation ; he could be held for ransom. The busi- 
ness, however, was too great for Leopold alone to handle; so he 
sold out to the Emperor Henry VI. who had grudges of his own 
against Richard, and was not averse to satisfying his malice and 
filling his coffers at the same time. 

While Richard was thus spending his days in the seclusion of 
a German castle, John was conducting himself as though he 
expected his brother would never retnrn, seizing castles 
The ransom, an( j defying the justiciar. Yet he did not forget to 
intrigue with Philip to prevent Henry from releasing 
his royal captive. All of this, of course, only raised the price of 
ransom, which was at last fixed at the enormous sum of 150,000 
marks. It was a serious burden to come in the train of so much 
else, and yet the nation assumed it loyally. Each knight's fee 
was bound by feudal law to pay its aid for the lord's ransom. But 
the customary aid of 20 shillings per fee was inadequate to meet 


such a ransom as this. Accordingly the aids were supplemented 
by the exaction of a fourth part of the revenue or of the mova- 
ble goods of every man in the kingdom. To this the Cistercians 
and Gilbertines were also induced to add the fourth part of the 
wool of their flocks, 1 and many of the more important churches 
contributed their "plate and jewels." Similar exertions were also 
made in the continental dominions of Richard. Still the sum did 
not reach the ransom demanded by the enterprising emperor; yet 
enough had been raised to make a payment on account, and the 
emperor consented to release the king after receiving hostages in 
guarantee of the balance. Among the hostages was the justiciar, 
Walter of Coutances. As soon as Richard reached England, he 
summoned a great council of his barons at Nottingham, and to 
complete the ransom, levied two shillings upon every ploughland 
of one hundred acres, the carucage. It was also proposed 
to confiscate all the wool of the Cistercians for one year, 
but they were finally allowed to compensate by a money payment 

As a salve to the pride of Richard, before he left Germany the 
emperor had bestowed upon him the titular crown of the kingdom 
The titular °^ Burgundy; to Richard an acquisition of some impor- 
Bur^uuiu tance, since by it he became a prince of the empire. 
given t<> Rich- Another transaction is also connected with the ransom 

ard. Homage 

for England. f Richard which has caused English historians some 
difficulty to explain. It is said that Richard formally renounced 
his English kingdom to the emperor, handing him his cap in lieu 
of the crown in token of surrender, and that the emperor returned 
it to him again, on condition of homage and a yearly rent of 
£5,000. The arrangement was afterward annulled by the 
emperor. 2 So at last Richard was free and the fabulous ransom was 
paid. Henry, apparently, still had an unworthy feeling that he might 
have made a better bargain. But the pope and the German princes 
were indignant at the ill usage of Richard and at the violation of 
his rights as a crusader, and Henry did not dare longer to offend 
the awakening sentiment of Europe. 

Compare Norgate II, p. 326 with Stubbs, C. H., I, p. 540. 
2 Stubbs, C. H., I, p. 601. 

1194] HUBERT WALTER 237 

Richard remained in England from March 20 until May 12, 
barely two months, but long enough to finish tumbling down 
John's house of cards, and then was off again to the 
second xtay continent to settle his score with Philip. With charac- 
teristic generosity he pardoned John. "I forgive him," 
said the king, "and hope that I shall as easily forget his injuries 
as he will my pardon." He was too shrewd, however, to put lands 
or power again into John's hands. John on his part realized that 
it was useless to intrigue further against his powerful brother, 
and accepting a stipend which enabled him to live in a way 
becoming his rank, he gave no more trouble for the rest of Eichard's 
reign. After bringing John to terms, Richard then set himself 
to raise new funds in order to further his schemes against Philip. 
He compelled those who had made trouble during his absence to 
forfeit vast sums; sheriffs were turned out of their positions upon 
various pretexts, and another sale of offices began ; charters and 
privileges were again scattered freely for money, and many towns, 
imitating the recent example of London, 1 seized the opportunity 
to gain corporate rights. 

While in his German prison Richard had secured the election 
of the crusader Hubert Walter to the see of Canterbury. 
Hubert was no ordinary priest. He was a nephew of 
waiter Henry's great justiciar, Ranulf de Glanville, and had 

been trained in his household. He had accompanied his 
venerable primate, Archbishop Baldwin, in the Crusade, and after 
his death had been tacitly recognized as the chief among the 
spiritual leaders of the English crusaders, and when Richard has- 
tened home, it was to Hubert that he entrusted the conduct of 
the returning host. As archbishop, Hubert had at once exercised 
a decisive influence in checking the elements of disorder which 
were seeking to take advantage of the prolonged absence of the 
king; he had inspired the measures for raising the king's ransom, 
and by supporting the Justiciar Walter and casting the weight of 
the church against John, had materially contributed to the over- 
throw of John's influence even before the release of Richard. 

1 For date (1191) of granting the commune to London and for influence 
of example, see Round, The Commune of London, pp. 219-260. 


When, therefore, the justiciar was summoned to Germany to present 
himself as a hostage in order to secure the king's release, Arch- 
bishop Hubert had been appointed to succeed him. 

The task which was assigned the new justiciar was not an 

enviable one. In order to support Richard in the war which he 

proposed to wage against his continental foes, Hubert 

Hubert was expected to raise funds from the already exhausted 

the political kingdom and yet keep the people contented and sub- 

('(liicdtiivin of 

thepeopie. missive. The justiciar, however, fully grasped the con- 
ditions of his position; he knew the temper of the 
English and saw that his only hope of success lay in win- 
ning their confidence and active support. To this end he sought 
to avoid the appearance of irregular or arbitrary extortion 
by throwing the assessment of levies largely into the hands 
of the people; he also gave them a more direct share in the 
administration of justice, taking from the sheriffs the selec- 
tion of the juries of presentment and placing it in the hands 
of the "lawful men" of the shires. He also greatly enlarged 
the scope of these juries, not only inviting them to adjudge pleas 
of the crown, but calling upon them for support and cooperation 
in almost every emergency. Constitutionally these innovations 
were of the utmost importance ; they not only did much to restore 
the habit of local self-government, which was rapidly passing into 
a mere tradition under the deadening influence of the Norman- 
Angevin system of centralization, but they also inaugurated a 
course of political education which directly prepared that genera- 
tion of Englishmen for the role which they were to play in the 
great era at hand. 

Notwithstanding these wise and statesmanlike measures, how- 
ever, Hubert was not able altogether to forestall discontent. In 
London the poor craftsmen, the weavers, the arrow- 
ttenmvie ^ 8m iths, the day laborers, and others, who were not land- 
holders and so had no voice in making assessments or 
directing the local administration, charged the burghers with 
sparing their own purses at the expense of the poor. Murmurs 
soon passed to open riot and bloodshed. An eccentric burgher, 
William Fitz-Osbert, called also "William Longbeard," a returned 

1194-1198] WILLIAM LONGBEARD 239 

crusader, championed the cause of the people. He was a natural 
agitator, and by proclaiming the monstrous doctrine that "every 
man, poor or rich, ought to pay his share of the city's bur- 
den according to his means," a doctrine which he advocated with 
rare eloquence, soon made himself the special object of govern- 
ment wrath. The justiciar attempted to arrest William, but he 
resisted, slew one of his assailants and fled to the church of Saint 
Mary-at-Bow. Hubert who might not take William in the church 
without violating sanctuary, ordered the building to be fired. 
The leaping flames drove William upon the soldiers waiting with- 
out; he was at once struck down, and, stripped and bleeding, was 
dragged through the city to the gallows at Elms * and there hanged 
with eight of his comrades. The cause of popular liberty was to 
have many such martyrs in the near future, but none more noble 
and sincere, none of clearer vision than the eccentric William 

This exhibition of harshness did not increase the strength 
of Hubert; popular disapproval continued to find expression, 
and finally became so pronounced that the justiciar 
OppoattUm asked to be relieved. Richard, however, needed him, 
huium of , dm \ a t his special request Hubert once more took up the 
ungrateful burden. In the meantime discontent was 
spreading among all classes, and steadily solidified into a stubborn 
determination to pay no more taxes; and when in 1108 Richard 
sent over a demand not only for more money but for men as well, 
even the saintly Hugh of Avalon, bishop of Lincoln, who was rever- 
enced in England as no other man since the death of Anselm, pro- 
tested against the unheard-of exaction. At a great council held at, 
Oxford he faced the justiciar with the noble words: "Ye know 
well, my lords, that I am a stranger in this land, one called from 
the plain life of a hermit to be bishop. But when our Lady's 
Church of Lincoln was given into my unskilled hands, I set about 
learning what its rights and burdens were, and these thirteen years 
I have walked in all the ways of my forerunners. I know very 
well that this church is bound to furnish knights for the king's 
service in England, but not for service abroad. And I will go back 

1 The later Tyburn. 


at once to my old hermit's life rather than lay fresh burdens on 
this bishopric committed to my charge." Herbert, the bishop of 
Salisbury, a member of the family of the great Roger, also sup- 
ported Hugh, and Hubert, quailing before opposition such as this, 

durst not press the demand for men, although the barons 
carucage, finally submitted to the levy of a carucage, at the rate 

of five shillings on each carucate. No one, however, 
paid the tax willingly; the monks refused outright, and were 
brought to terms only by threat of outlawry. Poor Hubert was 
now pressed from all sides. The taxpayers held him responsible 
for the exactions, and the absent king held him responsible for the 
tardy payment ; while the pope on his own account sent him some 
very plain-spoken advice. "It was not worthy," he wrote, " that 
an archbishop should be a judge and a taskmaster." Feeling 
that»he was discredited on all sides, and undoubtedly weary of the 
whole business, Hubert resigned, and Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, another 
of Henry II. 's men, was appointed in his place. The new justiciar 
was quite as able as Hubert, but more stern and troubled by fewer 
scruples. The administration, however, was suddenly confronted 
with a new series of problems by the death of Eichard. 

Since his return to the continent Richard had been engaged in 
almost constant strife with the French king. Philip, as we have 

seen, had got the pot well boiling when the unwelcome 

Richard on , _ . . , , £ . ■>■,■,. m , , 

the continent, news of Richards release reached him. I he famous 


message which he sent to John, "The devil is loose, 
take care of yourself," attests his respect for the wild energy of 
Richard's character, and that he fully expected trouble. It 
was this war both of defense and revenge, that Richard had 
taken up with all the cunning and unscrupulous violence of the 
Angevin, and for which Hubert Walter had been exacting such 
vast sums from the long-suffering loyalty of the English. The 
rebels of Aquitaine were reduced; Philip was checked on the 
Norman border ; and Flanders, the ally of Philip, was bought off 
by a well-timed bribe. The counts of Chartres, Champagne, 
Boulogne, and others, including the most powerful vassals of Philip, 
were leagued in revolt; while by Richard's influence in the Ger- 
man diet he managed to secure the election of his nephew, Otto of 


Saxony, as Ilenry VI. 's successor, and thus laid the foundation of 
an alliance of England and the empire. In order to hold his Norman 
frontier against Philip, Richard seized the church lands where "the 
Seine bends suddenly at Gaillon in a great semicircle to the north, 
and where the valley of Los Andelys breaks the line of cliffs along 
its banks,'' and here on a spur of the chalk hills, connected with the 
plateau in the rear by a narrow neck, at the dizzy height of three 
hundred feet above the river, he reared his "Saucy Castle," the 
Chateau Gaillard. Philip saw the massive fortress rising and 
swore that he would take it, "were its walls of iron." Richard 
as defiantly replied: "I would hold it, were its walls of butter." 
The archbishop of Rouen, Richard's old justiciar, Walter of Con- 
tances, laid Normandy under an interdict; but Richard only 
mocked. "Had an angel from heaven bid him abandon his work, 
he would have answered with a curse." 1 

The completion of tin's great frontier fortress was to be the 
preliminary to a final and crushing blow, which Richard had 
prepared for Philip. Richard's allies were all ready 
deauTim am * on ty money was needed. But to get this Richard 
was at his wit's end, for England had at last 
failed him. Then came a mysterious report of a remark- 
able treasure-trove, uncovered at Chaluz, exaggerated by rumor 
into "twelve knights of gold seated round a golden table." 
It was perhaps no more than a chess table with pieces of gold; but 
it was enough to rouse the hungry king who straightway as over- 
lord, assorted his rights to the treasure-trove and claimed the 
"find" whatever it might be. The Lord of Chaluz refused to 
give up the treasure, and Richard came with his men-at-arms to 
enforce his claim. The castle was not large and was defended only 
by fifteen men, seven knights and eight serving men; yet they 
held out for a day, and one of the crossbowmen who in spite of the 
enemies' bolts had kept his place on the walls in hope of getting a 
shot at Richard, succeeded at last in lodging an arrow in his neck. 
The wound of itself was not serious, but the bad surgery of Rich- 
ard's physicians as well as the king's impatience caused the wound 

1 See Green, H. E. P., I, pp. 187 and 188. 


to mortify, and in a few days Richard was dead, with almost his 
last breath forgiving the poor fellow who had slain him. 

Directly, Richard had had little to do with England. His per- 
sonal career belongs to the continent. Only seven months all told of 

the ten years of his reign, were spent in his island 
ofkichard'8 kingdom, and yet no ten years of English history are 

more important than these years of Richard's absentee 
reign. It was an era when the results of Norman and Angevin 
rule gathered solidity and permanence; when the nation was 
beginning to realize the full benefit of the policy of the two great 
Henrys in crushing the baronage and reducing all elements to the 
sway of the laws, and when older popular elements, by taking 
advantage of the needs of the crown, were gathering new strength 
in organization. 

This latter movement was particularly noticeable in the 
progress of the towns. The early English towns had grown up 

around castles or monasteries. For the most part they 
andthTaiids were merely overgrown villages where the country folk 

came to find a market, and where in rude and ill-kept 
huts the small merchant or the poor artisan sheltered himself and 
his family. Since the Conquest, as a result of the increased foreign 
trade, the seaport towns had risen to considerable importance, 
and in turn had contributed not a little to the growing wealth of 
the more humble towns of the interior. The kings of foreign blood 
knew the value of local organization in these centers of denser pop- 
ulation, its necessity as an adjunct of administration, and did not 
hesitate to encourage the people to assume some responsibility in 
matters of local government. In this they were assisted by the 
presence of gilds which had been a potent influence in English 
town life from the earliest times. These gilds originally 
were private associations of one kind or another organized 
by citizens for mutual help. Of these the merchant gilds 
very early assumed an importance and influence beyond any of the 
others. Often they were strong enough to control all the affairs 
of the town, assuming practically the functions of a town council. 
The gild hall became virtually the city hall, and the members of the 
gild were distinguished from the herd of unprivileged classes as the 


governing or citizen body. They jealously guarded their interests 
against outsiders and, save in the article of food, would tolerate 
no rivalry in trade within the city market from any who were not 
gild brethren. 

For the most part the towns were situated on the demesnes of 
the crown, and as they increased in wealth and strength, their first 

thought naturally was to free themselves from the con- 
tjtowm. trol of the sheriff and secure the right of administering 

the functions of his office themselves. The king, more- 
over, soon discovered that the people were better tax collectors than 
the .sheriff, and found that it was for his interest to allow the 
towns to pay a fixed maximum sum and collect it themselves in their 
own way. This privilege was known as the grant of firma burghi. 
The citizens, however, wore not quit of the authority of the sheriff 
as long as they were under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's court. 
Beside the firma burghi, therefore, the towns sought also to secure 
the privilege of having courts of their own, under the charge of their 
own magistrates. But these privileges carried with them serious 
duties, and in order to fulfill them properly some corporate organiza- 
tion was necessary. When so organized, with its liberties defined 
and confirmed in legal form by a charter, the town became a corpor- 
ation, or communa. The Henrys granted many such charters with 
the sincere desire no doubt of encouraging wealth and trade 
and building up cities. Richard granted a large number as we 
have seen, not because he cared for the towns, but because he 
needed money. Yet the results were the same; the charter was 
just as good and the privileges as valuable and just as highly 
prized, whether they came from the political foresight of the king 
or from his avarice. 

Of the cities benefited by this generous policy of the Norman 
and Angevin kings, London was the most important as well as the 

most conspicuous. It then of course bore no com pari - 
Jl\nd!!n" f son to the present city; but its political influence at 
critical periods of the nation's history was even more 
marked and important. It was the first city of the realm in size 
and wealth. It was naturally the greatest center of trade; from 
all the kingdom the roads converged upon its gates, and from the 


broad mouth of the Thames its shipping went forth each year to 
seek trade in unaccustomed seas. The buildings were thickly 
set; fires, a constant menace to the medieval city, were frequent 
and disastrous; the streets were narrow, poorly paved, always 
dirty, and lighted only by the flickering lamp which piety kept 
alive before the street corner Madonna. Pigs might be kept in the 
houses, though they were not allowed to wander in the streets. 
But these things were not regarded as they are now and other 
cities were in as bad condition or worse. All in all, London was no 
doubt a very grand affair to the rural Englishman who stumbled 
through the foul smells of its tortuous streets for the first time. 
The importance of the city very soon brought to her people unusual 
privileges, and London became a sort of "standard of the amount 
of self-government at which the other towns of the country might 
be expected to aim. " William I. gave the city its first charter; 

a brief one, the provisions of which require only eight 
charter 1 ' 8 ^ nes °* m °dern book print to state ; and yet it meant 

much, for in these eight lines the Conqueror gave his 
word to the citizens that their property should not be taken from 
tiiem, and that their privileges should be continued. In Henry 
I.'s charter the Londoners were put into possession of more 
extensive rights; they were granted the ferm of Middlesex "with 
the right of appointing the sheriff: they were freed from the 
immediate jurisdiction of any tribunal except of their own 
appointment, from several universal imposts, from the obligation 
to accept trial by battle, from liability to miser icordia or entire 
forfeiture, as well as from tolls and local exactions." 1 They were 
also secured their separate franchises and their weekly courts. 
Yet Henry's charter did not create the communa, but left the 
city still an "accumulation of distinct and different corporate 
bodies." Nor was it until Richard's reign 2 that London assumed 
the character of a compact and perpetual organization under its 
lord mayor and twelve aldermen, each representing one of the 
twelve wards of the city. 

^tubbs, S. C., pp. 107, 108. 

*For the "communio" of Stephen see Round. The Commune of Lon- 
don, pp. 223, 224. 


The death of Richard left the vast Angevin dominions once 
more at the mercy of Philip. Richard was childless and had 
named John as his heir ; and in England where Arthur, the son of 
Geoffrey, had no standing, John succeeded to the throne without 
difficulty. On the continent, however, Arthur was high in Phil- 
ip's favor; for the same policy which had made the 
Tfosucces- king of France the friend of Prince Henry and Richard 
when they were at war with their father, but John's 
friend and Richard's enemy as soon as Richard became king, now 
made this same king John's most dangerous foe. In order to 
cripple John, therefore, Philip took up Arthur's cause 
Phiu 11 * 80 * anc * helped him, supported by his Bretons, to make 
good his claims in Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. 
Normandy was safe, for John had been invested by Arch- 
bishop Walter of Rouen with the insignia of the ducal office 
before departing for England to receive the English crown. 
Aquitaine was also saved by the ready wit of Eleanor, who com- 
pelled Philip to bestow it upon her as duchess in her own 
right. Philip, moreover, was by no means sure of his ground. 
An attempt to put away his wife, had embroiled him with the 
pope and he feared the interdict, which might prove a very 
serious matter should it come while he was at war with John. 
Otto of Germany and the count of Flanders also were preparing 
to carry out their recent agreement with Richard and invade 
France from the northeast. Philip, therefore, thought it safer to 
bow to the storm and disarm his foes by making peace with John. 
Accordingly he changed his policy; threw over Arthur entirely, 
and received John's homage for Anjou and the other lands in 
question. As a further pledge of the French king's friendship, 
his son Louis married John's niece Blanche, the daughter of his 
sister Eleanor and Alfonso of Castile. 

John was now everywhere triumphant, and a better man might 

have had a long and successful reign, but he was his own worst 

enemy. He possessed some of the abilities, and all of 

«/jo/m ter ^ ne darker moral traits of his family. He had been a 

bad son and a treacherous brother. He was as vicious 

as William Rufus and as mean as Ethelred. He had, moreover, 


Richard's insatiate greed for money but with nothing of that 
romantic vision of great things which had gone far to justify his 
extortions in the eyes of the nation. 

John at first took up his brother's policy and made little 
change in the administration at home. Perhaps he had already 

learned the temper of the English people in his earlier 
of a john. nicv experiences, and knew that his only hope of success 

against the wily Philip lay in keeping a united England 
at his back. Geoffrey Fitz-Peter was continued as justiciar and 
made earl of Essex. Archbishop Hubert was added to the council 
as chancellor. William Marshal, who had been John's friend in the 
quarrel with Longchamp, and who had married Eva, the heiress 
of "Strongbow," was allowed to succeed to the Clare estates and 
titles as Earl of Strigul and Pembroke. 

John, however, was the creature of his passions, and soon 
plunged from one infatuation into another in utter disregard of 

the enemies he might make. In 1189 he had married 
mbiau^ the A vice, the granddaughter of Robert of Gloucester and 
Priu?u d and a co " n eiress of the vast estates of that family. She 

was John's third cousin, and hence came within the 
lines of consanguinity forbidden by the church. Still the pope 
had given his dispensation and all had gone well, until John made 
up his mind to marry Isabella of Angouleme and persuaded some 
Aquitanian bishops to annul his first marriage. The Gloucester 
family was very powerful, and when John in addition to the insult, 
refused to surrender the lands of Avice, the breach was irrepara- 
ble. Isabella of Angouleme, moreover, was the affianced bride of 
Hugh the Brown, son of Count Hugh of La Marche, and con- 
nected with Guy of Lusignan and other powerful nobles of Poitou, 
and when John claimed the younger Hugh's bride, the Lusignans 
in their turn were furious. But as if his offence were not serious 
enough, John ordered the barons of Poitou to appear before his 

court on charge of treason against the late king and 
Angevin himself, and clear themselves by ordeal of battle. They 

cUrniinion*. _, , • "? 

at once appealed to Plnhp as overlord; and he hav- 
ing made his peace with the pope by taking back his wife, 
was delighted to have an opportunity to reopen the case against 


John, and ordered him to surrender his French fiefs to Arthur. 
John refused and Philip summoned him for trial before his 
court in Paris. When the appointed day came and John failed 
to appear, Philip in accordance with feudal law declared him to 
be a contumacious vassal and to have forfeited by default all fiefs 
which he held of the French crown. 

Philip proceeded at once to carry out the decree of his court, 

invaded Normandy, and began reducing its castles. Arthur in the 

meanwhile had been foolish enough to be drawn into the 

The murder . , 

of Arthur quarrel again, and with his Bretons had laid siege to 

Aiujevin the castle of Mirabeim with the hope of seizing Eleanor, 
dominions . , . . 

his grandmother. John who in emergency was capa- 
ble of acts of heroic exertion, by a forced march surprised 
Arthur, carried him off and ultimately lodged him at Rouen, the 
last that was seen of this unfortunate prince. John was equal 
to any wickedness and it is not unlikely that he compassed his 
nephew's death, if he did not actually stab him with his own hand 
and throw the body into the Seine, as reported by a very venerable 
tradition. The murder of Arthur completed the trilogy of fatal 
blunders. Philip at once proclaimed John the murderer, cited 
him a second time to appear before his court and to the sentence 
of forfeiture added the sentence of death. 1 The Norman castles 
fell one after the other, and finally, after a year's siege, even 
Chateau Gaillard passed into Philip's hands, March 1204. It 
was the beginning of the end. Tho Seine was now open to 
Philip's armies. John's vassals of Normandy refused longer to sup- 
port him. In April, 1204, Eleanor died, and with her, John lost 
the last tie which bound him to his continental barons. Before 
the summer closed, Anjou, Touraine, and Maine had also passed 
permanently into Philip's hands; the next year Poitou was 
overrun and of all the splendid possessions of the Angevin kings 
on the continent only scattered fragments remained, Gascony, 
Guienne, and one or two strongholds in Poitou. 

At the time Englishmen regarded the triumph of Philip with 
a sense of deep humiliation. Yet nothing more fortunate could 
have happened to the English state. Richard's absentee reign had 

1 Norgate, II, p. 408. 


tested and proved the splendid administrative machinery of Henry 
II. ; and men were coming to distinguish between the government 
and the personality of the king. Eichard, moreover, 
E >n i f nd been compelled by his need of money to allow the 

from the people a voice in the assessment of taxes. The shire- 


moots also had been given control of pleas of the crown. 
Taxation and representation became thus linked indissolubly in the 
national mind, and the people began to take their first steps in 
actual self-government. When, therefore, John was bowed out of 
the continent by the wily Philip, he found himself face to face 
with a nation that had passed its nonage and would no longer tol- 
erate abuses which had sprung of an irresponsible kingship. The 
old baronial families who like the king were also severed from con- 
tinental interests, forgot their foreign parentage and once and for 
all time accepted the position of English subjects of an English 
king. The nation felt the accession of strength and came very 
soon to recognize the baronage as a part of itself; and although 
the influence of the French language and French social customs 
lingered long after the era of John, the powei* of French political 
ideas over England was broken, and the nation was left free to 
develop its own peculiar institutions and in its own way. Thus 
the separation of England from the continent, though forced upon 
the nation against the will of its king and against the will of the 
people, formed no unimportant link in the series of great events 
which were preparing England for her future. It restored to her 
once more the natural advantage of her position behind the 
Channel; it threw her back upon her own resources, and com- 
pelled her to develop that intensive life, so marked in every people 
who have been called upon to play a great role in human history. 1 

1 For review of the early Angevin era and results see Norgate, II, 
chap. X, The New England. 



JOHN, im-1216 

The territorial combination created by the Norman Conquest 
was now definitely broken and English feudalism had been cut off 

from the source from which it had originally drawn its 
The ww iif e> Tbis event, coming so soon after the overthrow of 

the barons and the restoration of the national courts, 
was of the utmost importance, not only in forestalling any recru- 
descence of political feudalism, but also in permanently establish- 
ing as a part of the English constitution the principle for which 
the Norman Henry and the Angevin Henry had so nobly strug- 
gled, — that in England all classes are subject to the laws of the 
realm. But the quarrel of king and feudal baron had hardly been 
settled, when a new and more serious menace to the happiness of the 
people appeared in a quarter from which they had been accustomed 
heretofore to expect comfort and protection, and presented to the 
nation a new problem for solution. Should the crown become an 
irresponsible and lawless power; or should the king and his 
ministers also be held amenable to the laws to which they had 
forced the barons to submit; and if so, by what legal machinery 
could the nation compel the crown to respect its own laws, with- 
out resorting to the violent methods of revolution? Here in a 
word was the new problem which confronted England. 

It was perhaps fortunate that John was utterly contemptible. A 
nature so base, so treacherous, could inspire no sentiment of loyalty 

to obscure in the minds of good men the real issue. His 
a"party ith ° ut tyrannies were so flagrant, so brutal ; his violation of law, 

his trespasses upon the rights of all classes of his subjects, 
so arbitrary and so unreasonable, that it was impossible to create a 
personal party in his favor or draw about him any portion of his 



people. The king stood alone, without any of that glamour 
which surrounded the second Stuart and which made him in his 
death appear to many a veritable martyr. One bad man stood 
alone, confronted by the nation, powerful in its integrity, ter- 
rible in its calm self-possession, and determined that the king 
should rule in accordance with the laws of the land, or not rule at 

John's troubles at home began soon after the last triumph of 

Philip. On July 12, 1205, the veteran Hubert Walter died. Of 

late John and his chancellor had not been upon the 


contested best of terms; Hubert had not hesitated to protest 

('led \4)TL fit 

canterbury, against the tyrannies of John, and John had so far 
fretted under the restraints put upon him by the hon- 
est old minister, that the news of his death was received with an 
exultant sense of relief which he did not try to disguise. But 
Hubert was also archbishop of Canterbury. Next to the crown 
there was no more important office in the kingdom. What its 
influence might be in shaping the destiny of the realm or in brav- 
ing wayward kings had been shown in the careers of Dunstan, 
Lanfranc, Anselm, Theobald, and Becket. John, therefore, fully 
realized the importance of filling the vacancy with one of his own 
creatures, if he would control the policy of the church. But 
unfortunately for John's plans the right of electing to this impor- 
tant post had long been a subject of dispute between the suffragan 
bishops of the metropolitan province and the monks of Christ 
Church Priory, who since the days of Augustine had acknowl- 
edged the archbishop as their abbot. The king also had a right 
in equity to a voice in an appointment so closely related to the 
welfare of his realm, and since the Conquest had generally named 
the candidate to be elected. When, therefore, John learned that 
on the very night following Hubert's death, the junior monks of 
Christ Church had secretly met, and had not only elected the sub- 
prior, Reginald, to the primacy but had forthwith without waiting 
for the approval of the king, dispatched the archbishop-elect 
to Rome to secure confirmation at the hands of the pope, John 
was furious. The senior monks and the bishops were also deeply 
vexed. Reginald was a babbling, shallow sort of fellow, hardly 

1207, 1208] STEPHEN LANGTON 251 

to be taken seriously; yet his election, if once confirmed by the 
pope, apart from the question of right involved, might prove grave 
enough. All parties, therefore, appealed to Rome. John, however, 
first announced as his candidate John de Gray, bishop of Nor- 
wich, had him elected and put in charge of the see, and then sent 
him off to plead his cause at the Roman court, trusting feo win his 
case by the free use of money among the officials who were sup- 
posed to be in the confidence of the pope. 

The low cunning of John was no match for the statesmanlike 
pope, Innocent III., who had recently brought the wily Philip 
Augustus to terms, and who knew John better than 
.</ iAiimUm, John knew himself. After letting the case drag on for 
a full year and a half, Innocent declared that the right 
of election lay with the monks; rejected both candidates upon the 
ground that neither election had been canonical, and persuaded 
the proctors of the monks of Christ Church who were present, to 
elect an Englishman named Stephen Langton. The nomination 
by the pope was clearly a violation of the right both of the Eng- 
lish church and of the English crown; yet never was usurpation 
more fully justified by the results. A better choice could not have 
been made. Langton was a man singularly pure and noble in pur- 
pose, of great personal dignity, wide learning, and had been recently 
raised to the high dignity of cardinal. John refused to assent to the 
papal choice ; and when the pope proceeded to consecrate his candi- 
date notwithstanding, John swore that he would never allow 
Langton to land in England. 

John was now face to face with a man who was accustomed to 
having his way. A wise king might have rallied his people about 
The inter- ^im and fought out the issue upon the broad principles of 
<nrt, 120a. t} le independence of the English crown. But John was 
not wise. He became violent, and descended to petty persecutions 
of the monks of Christ Church. He threatened to drive all clergy- 
men from the realm. He swore he would seize and mutilate every 
Italian he found in his kingdom. The reply of Innocent to John's 
furious outbreak was the interdict. This was an ecclesiastical weapon 
which had been used by earlier popes with great effect. It forbade 
all religious services, except baptism and extreme unction. Mar- 


riage ceremonies could not be performed ; mass was celebrated for 
the clergy alone; and the dead were buried in unhallowed ground. 
It played directly upon the tenderest feelings of the people; it 
appealed to the terrors of the superstitious and was expected to 
create a public sentiment which would bring the king to terms. 
Innocent bad recently used the interdict with great effectiveness 
against Philip II. ; but John paid little attention to the murmurs 
of his people and at once struck back at the pope by confiscating 
the property of the churchmen who obeyed the interdict. Inno- 
cent replied by excommunicating John. John then 
Exnommuni- ■ * . . 

cation of confiscated the estates of the bishops, and used the 

money to strengthen his military power. He was thus 
enabled to force the king of Scots to renew his homage and pay a 
levy to the amount of £10,000; he reduced Ireland to order; cut 
up the English district into counties, and introduced English 
laws. With the same vigorous hand he turned upon Llewelyn, 
Prince of Wales, and compelled him to submit. Thus John had 
only fattened upon the thunders of Innocent. 

Innocent, however, was now fully aroused, and in 1211 
announced through his envoys, Pandulf and Durand, that as his 

next and final step, he would absolve the subjects of 

The threat _ . , • . « . - „ i i • -, 

of deposition. John from their allegiance, formally depose him, and 
parexto summon Philip of France to carry out the decree. 

meet it. 

John knew both men; he knew that the threat was not 

idle. He also learned that Philip was actually gathering an army 

in order to be ready to invade England, the moment the pope 

should give the word. At home, discontent and disaffection 

were daily spreading; the church was openly hostile ; the nobles 

maintained a sullen silence which but poorly concealed the web of 

treason which they were weaving about the king; the people who 

had supported the elder Henry with such sturdy loyalty, looked on 

with cold indifference. Yet John apparently had no thought of 

yielding. His Angevin blood was up, and he began to strike 

about him in blind fury. The churchmen who defied him, he 

drove from the kingdom. He did not wait for the nobles to be 

detected in actual conspiracy. If a man had power to injure him, 

that was sufficient; his castles were seized and his family held as 


hostages for his good behavior. With the people John tried a 
somewhat different course, playing directly for their confidence by 
remitting fines and abolishing vexatious customs, and although in 
this he succeeded but indifferently, England was overawed ; his 
enemies at home were paralyzed, and an "enormous host" gath- 
ered at his call to resist the threatened invasion. Abroad he had 
also secured an alliance with the old allies of Richard, Otto IV. 
and Ferrand, count of Flanders, who had their own quarrel with 
both Philip and Innocent and stood ready to invade France the 
moment Philip should sail for England. The outlook was not 
inviting to Philip; it was not altogether gloomy for John. He 
was fully prepared to defy the threat of deposition as he had 
defied the interdict and the excommunication, and apparently with 
a fair chance of success. 

Then suddenly at the very moment when the Curia had 
decreed the deposition, and the legate was on the way to England, 

John made that strange move which it is custom- 
frmu c ms aa> ar y *° interpret sometimes as an exhibition of 

despicable weakness, and sometimes as an exhibition 
of remarkable and farsighted statesmanship. It is said that 
in spite of John's habit of scoffing at religion, he really feared 
the papal excommunication; that like all base natures he was 
capable of a groveling superstition, and that this weakness had been 
recently played upon by an alleged prophecy of Peter of Wake- 
field, a hermit, who had declared that within the year John would 
cease to be king. It is altogether probable that such elements had 
some influence upon John's determination, but it is also certain 
that more than pope or hermit, the thing which caused John to 
draw back was his assurance of a secret coalition between Philip 
and his own barons. Five of his bishops and many of his nobles 
had already fled the country and were with Philip. John 
knew that they had many friends at home; that the very army 
which he had gathered on Barham Down was honeycombed with 
treason, and that the landing of Philip would be the signal for 
general revolt. The pope, however, was the bond which held this 
coalition together; to remove the pope from the alliance, would 
leave Philip without moral support for his enterprise; while to 


secure the active friendship of the pope, would turn Philip's Eng- 
lish allies, John's subjects, from dutiful servants of the church 
into rebels and schismatics. This was the problem which con- 
fronted John, and with characteristic unscrupulousness he 
solved it. 

On the 15th of May, 1213, John met Pandulf, the papal legate, 
near Dover and made his submission. He "accepted Langton as 
archbishop, undertook to repay certain enormous sums 
homaaefo which he had recently exacted from the churches," and 
jtfa»?5 e J2M restore the estates which he had ruined. He then sur- 
rendered his kingdoms to the see of Rome, and received 
them again as the pope's vassal, agreeing also to pay a tribute of 
1,000 marks a year. 1 Innocent withdrew from the coalition and 
forbade Philip to proceed. 

The closing of the quarrel with the pope, however, by no means 
ended John's troubles. It only cleared the field for the greater 
issue of his reign, which was now at hand. Matters on 
temeaf [ the continent had gone too far to be stopped by the 
word of the pope. Fighting soon began between Philip 
and the Flemings. John sought to assist his allies by sending 
over his half-brother, William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, to 
destroy Philip' s shipping in the harbor of Damme; but when he 
called upon his barons to prepare for an invasion of France, upon 
one pretext or another they refused; the northern barons putting 
themselves squarely on the ground that the king had no right to 
demand military service out of the kingdom. In the 
T t%t°A\ cil mean time a great council which was called to meet at 
ham. Aim. 4, St. Albans in August for the purpose of estimating the 
damages which church property had received during the 
recent quarrel, provided an opportunity for a free discussion of the 
condition of the realm, the failure of the king to fulfill his prom- 
ises of good government, and his numerous invasions of the legal 
rights of the barons. 

Most of the encroachments of which the barons complained 

1 See Roger of Wendover (years, 1208-1214) in Lee, Source Book of 
English History, pp. 155-164. 

1203-1213] John's exactions 255 

were the natural results of uew conditions which confronted the 

crown. The old regular feudal revenues had long been inadequate 

to meet the needs of government, and the king had been 

The wrongs & ' j ° 

nfthe forced to develop new sources of income in order to 

defray the increasing expense of administration. Under 
Henry II. the offices of state had been bought and sold like ordi- 
nary fiefs ; Richard had driven a flourishing trade in the favors of 
government, nor had he recognized any limit to the possibilities of 
sale and purchase, save the depth of the would-be purchaser's 
pocket. But John had surpassed all his predecessors in devising 
new and burdensome methods of wringing money from his sub- 
jects. In the first year of his reign he had raised the carucage, the 
new tax upon land levied by Richard, from two to three shillings 
on the carucate; the scutage, also, he raised from twenty shillings 
to two marks. In 1203 he had exacted a seventh of the movable 
property of the barons under pretext of the war in Normandy, 
and when the barons became convinced that John did not intend to 
fight, and returned home in disgust, he declared their lands for- 
feited by desertion and allowed them to be redeemed again only by 
the payment of an enormous fine. In 1207 the king demanded a 
thirteenth of the movable property of the entire kingdom, and 
when his brother Geoffrey of York protested and the church 
refused outright to pay the levy, John sent Geoffrey into exile and 
exacted the tax notwithstanding. In other ways also, no less 
annoying, John had taken advantage of his position to plunder his 
barons. The right of conferring the heiresses of his vassals in 
marriage, he had used as a convenient method of enriching his own 
creatures. If the heiress refused the king's choice, and sometimes 
he sought out the most unlikely husband that he could find for 
this very object, in accordance with feudal law the king was 
entitled to exact a heavy fine. He also took advantage of the 
right of wardship to plunder the property of the helpless minor, 
not only exhausting the estate, but withholding it from the heir as 
long as possible. 

The barons, however, were not the only sufferers from John's 
tyrannies. His hand had been heavy on the churchmen who had 
remained faithful to the order during the quarrel with the pope. 


He had not hesitated to put to a cruel death an archdeacon of Nor- 
wich who had withdrawn from his presence at the time of the 
excommunication. 1 The people also had felt the grievous 


of other burden of the carucage and the repeated taxation of the 
movable property of the kingdom. The entire adminis- 
tration of justice had been used as an engine of extortion; fines 
and confiscations were frequent and the threat of them often 
used to levy blackmail. John's rapacity, moreover, was not the 
least unattractive element of his character. His meanness, 
his treachery to his friends, his inordinate lust, are beyond 

The barons and the people, therefore, were not without cause of 
grievance. One marvels that a warlike race should endure so long 
Leaaibasis anc ^ so P a ^ en ^y ^ s despicable tyrant. It can be 
°{aintof n ~ explained only by the wide influence and patient firm- 
the barons. ness f Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, the justiciar. John hated 
Geoffrey as he hated Hubert Walter, the best testimony to their 
integrity and faithfulness ; yet Geoffrey was indispensable and John 
had had the shrewdness and self-control to keep Geoffrey at his 
post. Matters, however, were now fast approaching a crisis; the 
more serious as Geoffrey himself appears as the spokesman of the 
barons. The men who surrounded the justiciar, like him, had 
been trained in the school of Henry II. , and fully appreciated the 
moral advantage of finding some standard, some definite legal 
ground upon which to base their complaints against John. At St. 
Albans, therefore, Geoffrey Fitz-Peter formally proclaimed the 
laws of Henry I., as the basis "of the good customs which 
were to be restored." Few knew just what these laws were; 
yet the demand served as a rallying cry; and when three 
weeks later, at a second meeting of the barons held 
SUPaS?*, at St. Paul '8 in London, the new archbishop, Lang- 
ton, brought forth the forgotten charter of Henry 
I., the long-needed weapon was put into the hands of the popular 
party. "By this" declared the archbishop, "you can bring back 
the liberties which have been lost, to their former condition." In 

1 Green, //. E. P., I, p. 233. 

1918,1214] THE CRISIS 257 

this definite form the demand of the barons was laid before the 
king. 1 

Geoffrey Fitz-Peter did not long survive the council of London. 
To the king his death was irreparable ; yet far from appreciating 

his loss, John only gave utterance to the brutal words : 
DeaSlff*' "When he gets to hell, let him go and salute Hubert 
EJ^fe Walter; for by God's feet, now am I for the first time 

king and lord of England." To the barons the death 
of Fitz-Peter must have seemed like a calamity; and when John 
named as his new justiciar, the foreign favorite Peter des Roches, 
the bishop of Winchester, they knew that there was none to 
stand between them and the tyrant. Another council had been 
summoned on November 7, to meet at Oxford. In addition to 
those ordinarily called, each sheriff had been directed to send four 
discreet knights from his shire to "discuss the business of the 
kingdom with the king." 2 Beyond this important provision how- 
ever, we do not know that anything was accomplished, or in fact 
that the council was ever actually held. So the eventful year 1213 
closed. The rival parties seemed to be marking time. 

On the continent, however, events were moving rapidly to a 
crisis. The long talked of alliance of England witli Otto IV. and the 

count of Flanders, who still had their old quarrel with 
deteaudat Philip, was about to bear fruit in a joint invasion of 
BrntrfeiM, France. It was the critical moment in the history of 

English liberty. If the allies succeeded in crushing 
Philip, then John might return and settle with his barons at his 
leisure. Yet the barons hardly seemed to realize what John's suc- 
cess would mean to them. Some of the southern barons as loyal 
as ever responded to his call and followed him to Poitou. It is 
true the northern barons who had been present at St. Paul's took 
their stand upon the ground assumed in 1213, and refused to serve 
out of the kingdom; but their action was due to a lack of 

1 Lee, Source Book, p. 165 and 124-127. 

a At St. Albans the reeve and four legal men from each township in 
the royal demesne had been summoned with the barons to assist in esti- 
mating the damages to church property. They probably acted only as 


interest in the quarrel, rather than to any just comprehension of 
the remoter issue. The great alliance, however, proved a signal 
failure. On the 27th of July, 1214, the Germans, Flemings, and 
English, led by Otto IV., Ferrand, and Earl William of Salisbury, 

met Philip on the fatal field of Bouvines. Ferrand and 
JuiylT^u. ^ ie eai 'l °^ Salisbury were both taken; Otto retired 

with a pitiful remnant of his German knights, his 
power so shattered that his influence at home rapidly waned before 
the rising prestige of his young rival, Frederick II. In the mean- 
while John had attempted a diversion in the west, in the hope of 
regaining a foothold in the French provinces which he had forfeited 
in 1204. He had won some unimportant advantages in Poitou; 
but the defeat of his allies compelled him to retire beyond the 
Loire and make a truce with Philip for five years. The great 
coalition, which Richard had built up by the expenditure of so 
much English wealth, had dashed itself to pieces upon the pikemen 
of Philip, and with it passed away the last hope of John of ever 
wresting from the hand of Philip the lands which he had seized 
ten years before. The permanent possession by the French king 
of Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, and Poitou was secure. 

John did not return to England until the autumn. But he 
had not forgotten the northern barons and came back with the 

avowed purpose of calling them to an account. The 

The meetino 

at st. Ed- barons, however, knew their man and were prepared to 

mundx, 1214. _ , ... 

meet him. Late in November they met in the minster 
of St. Edmunds under the color of a pilgrimage, and secretly bound 
themselves before the great altar to compel the king to restore the 
liberties of the realm and confirm the act by a charter given under 
his seal ; if he refused, they would withdraw their allegiance and 
appeal to arms. 1 

Soon after Christmas a deputation of- the barons laid their 
propositions before the king. He asked for time and promised to 

respond on the first Sunday after Easter. He had, 
John pre- .... , . 

pare»f(rr liowever, no idea of submission and set himself to pre- 
war, 1215. . _ * 

pare for resistance. He sought first to detach the 

bishops from the popular cause, and on the 15th of January issued 
1 Lee, pp. 165, 166. 


a charter in which he grunted the church freedom from the inter- 
ference of the crown in "the election of all prelates whatsover, 
greater or less." 1 Langton, however, was too wise and farseeing 
to be caught by John's blandishments and stoutly refused to 
accept any terms for the church, which did not also include the 
barons. The king in the meanwhile was swelling the ranks of 
his foreign mercenaries by enlistments in Brabant and Poitou; he 
fortified and provisioned his castles; he required his tenants to 
renew their homage and directed the oath of allegiance to be 
taken by all freemen throughout England. He also sought to 
socure the support of che pope by assuming the obligations of a 
crusader; an act which put him under the special protection of the 

In March the barons gathered at Stamford, and with a dignity and 

self-possession worthy of the greatness of their cause calmly waited 

for the expiration of the truce. They then marched 

thecharter, into .Northamptonshire and on the 27th of April lav 

June 15, 1215. \ Tr l J 

encamped at Brackley. Here Langton and William 

Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, met them as envoys from the king and 
asked their demands. In reply they drew up a series of articles, 
known as the "Articles of the Barons," 8 and dispatched them to the 
king. John read the demands and angrily exclaimed: "Why do 
they not ask for my kingdom? I will never grant such liberties as 
will make me a slave." When the answer came back, the barons, 
now two thousand strong and numbering representatives of the 
greatest houses of England, broke camp and marched upon Lon- 
don. John was still surrounded by many of tho older barons; 
men like William Marshal, whoso sympathies were with the rising, 
but who feared the anarchy of civil war and preferred to gain 
their point in a quieter way by bringing pressure to bear upon the 
king within the lines of the constitution. The nation, however, was 
against John and when on the 24th of May "the Army of God 
and the Holy Church," as the barons styled themselves, entered 
London in the midst of the wildest enthusiasm, the king's most 
trusted followers, even the membors of his household, saw that his 

'(Jee and Hardy, Documents, etc., pp. 77-71). 
2 Stubbs, S. (.'., 290-296. 


cause was hopeless and abandoned him. Cunning and unscrupu- 
lous as John was, supported only by Flemish mercenaries and a few 
foreign favorites, he saw that further resistance would be madness, 
and when the Articles of the Barons in a revised form were again 
submitted to him, he signed them and attached the great seal. 
This historic event took place at Kunnymede, near Windsor, on 
the 15th of June, 1215. 

So at last was secured the priceless document, known in 
distinction from all other charters as the Great Charter. The 

importance of this famous document can hardly be 
charta. exaggerated. It was "the first great legislative act of 

the English nation," and, supplemented by the later 
Petition of Bight and Bill of Bights, it constitutes the legal foun- 
dation of Anglo-Saxon liberties. In form it was a grant similar to 
previous charters of English kings, issued by the favor of the 
crown to all "our faithful subjects." In theory it was a restate- 
ment of the customary laws of feudal England as they had 
been recognized by her Norman and Angevin kings. In fact it 
was a list of rights and liberties forced upon the king by his sub- 
jects; and since it defined in legal form the relations of king and 
people, and imposed upon the subjects the task of deposing him 
as a sacred duty in case he violated these relations, it virtually 
asserted the principle that the king was subject to the laws of the 
realm as well as his meanest vassal. 

An analysis of the sixty-three articles of the Charter shows that 
little had escaped the barons. 1 The church was "to be free" and 

have its newly granted rights. The feudal obligations 
theCharter °^ ^he Darons were carefully specified, and the dues 

which the king might justly demand were carefully 
defined and limited ; as carefully also were limited the rights of the 
king over his wards. The administration of justice, which in 
unscrupulous hands had only too often degenerated into tyranny, 
was to conform to right and law. The penalty of crime 
must conform to the grade of the offense. Judges must be 
selected for their legal knowledge and probity. Suitors in com- 

1 For analysis of Charter and review of its contents, see Taswell-Lang- 
mead, pp. 92-115. 


mon pleas should no longer be compelled to drag about over the 
country in the wake of the king's court, but were to have some 
fixed place to which they might resort. The king's justices also 
were to visit the shires four times a year, to hear and settle dis- 
putes concerning real property. Such cases, moreover, could not 
be tried out of the county in which the lands in question lay. 

Other articles bravely dealt with the fundamental principles of 

the constitution; principles the greatness and farreaching import 

of which the barons themselves probably did not 

Fundamental realize and which it has taken six hundred years to 

principle* of J 

thRcanstitu- wor k out. In the regulation which forbade the king to 
levy scut age or extraordinary aid without the consent 
of the common council of the nation was involved the sole right of 
the parliament to levy taxes. In the regulation which required the 
king to summon to the council the archbishops, bishops, earls, and 
greater barons individually, but allowed him to summon the lesser 
tenants by general notification through the sheriff of each county, 
was involved the subsequent separation of the two houses, as well 
as the opportunity for the later development of the representative 
system. In the principle that no freeman should be imprisoned or 
suffer other penalty, "unless by the lawful judgment of his peers, 
or by the law of the land," and that "justice should be neither 
sold, nor denied, nor delayed," were involved the Habeas Corpus 
act, and all the other regulations by which Englishmen and Ameri- 
cans have sought to protect the individual from the abuse of the 
vast powers of the state. 

The national character of the (-barter is shown by the gener- 
osity of the provisions which included all classes within its bene- 
fits. The barons agreed that the liberties which thev 
National , , , . ' 

character of as tenants received from the king, they m turn would 

tin' Charter. . . ml 

observe in dealing with their own tenants. I he cities 
and towns also were to have their liberties and free customs. 
London was to share in the limitations put upon aids and scutages. 
Foreign merchants were not to be interfered with, but might come 
and go without being subjected to more than the ancient customs. 
One standard of weights and measures was also prescribed for the 
whole kingdom. Even the villain came in for his share of protec- 


tion; his agricultural implements, like the stock of the merchant 
or tradesman, were to be sheltered from the rapacity of the gov- 
ernment official. No man's grain or other property was to be 
taken by royal officials under the plea of right of purveyance 
without payment or consent of the owner; nor could land or rent 
be seized for any debt due to the crown, as long as the chattels of 
the debtor were sufficient. 

Such in brief was the famous Charter; the first attempt to 
define in a formal way the powers of the crown and the rights of 
the people. Its moderation is as remarkable as its 
rf°meCJwrier breath and comprehensiveness. The barons had no 
wish to weaken the crown ; they fully believed that the 
established customs of the nation were sufficient guarantees of 
their rights, and these were all that they asked; but they 
demanded that these customs be observed. 

It was much that now at last king and subjects had come to a 
formal understanding. The customs of England had been formu- 
lated and the salutary principle established, that these 
enforcing customs might not be violated even by the king. But 

th(y cfi&vtcv 

how enforce this principle? By what guarantee could 
the barons protect themselves against the notorious insincerity and 
treachery of John? Former sovereigns, far better men, had not 
hesitated to break the most solemn covenants, when a sufficient 
pretext presented itself, and sometimes even without pretext. 
The barons could not expect more of John. The system of con- 
stitutional checks, so well understood and so effective to-day, had 
not yet been devised, nor was other method understood, save the 
appeal to the sword. And appeal to the sword there certainly 
would be, if John were left to himself with all his "regal power 
and dignity" intact. This was the problem, and to solve it, the 
barons devised a scheme as naive as it was impracticable. By the 
sixty-first clause of the Charter the king was made to empower the 
baronage to elect a standing committee or council of twenty-five 
barons, who were to keep watch upon the king and his officers, 
and demand instant redress in case any of the provisions 
were violated. If the king within forty days should not 
give satisfactory redress, then "the five and twenty barons, 


together with the commonalty of the whole land" were authorized 
by the king to make war upon him, until the grievance should be 
satisfied. The king further pledged: "as to all those in the land 
who will not of their own account swear to join the five and twenty 
barons in distraining and distressing us, we will issue orders to 
make them take the same oath as aforesaid." This rude device 
which imposed upon John's subjects rebellion as a sacred duty, 
and placed over the sovereign as John declared, "four and twenty 
kings," could not be satisfactory for the simple reason that no 
government could long survive under such conditions. 

The immediate conduct of John, however, justified all the sus- 
picions of the barons and soon gave his "four and twenty kings" 
their hands full. Evidently he had not been sincere 
Mcrfercnce f or a s j n orl e moment : as soon as the barons had returned 

of the pope. ° ' 

to their homes, he sent off Pandnlf the papal legate post 
haste to persuade the pope to free him from his oath. The pope 
at heart was not unfriendly to the cause of English liberties, but 
he looked upon the struggle solely from the point of view of his 
interests as overlord, and Pandulf easily persuaded him that the 
barons in curtailing the powers of the crown, were seriously harm- 
ing his interests. Moreover, technically, by feudal law any diffi- 
culties between the king and his vassals ought to have been first 
referred to the overlord for settlement. The pope accordingly 
granted John the dispensation ; threatened the barons with excom- 
munication because they had levied war upon a crusader, and 
finally suspended Langton. 

John in the meanwhile was busily preparing for war, and by 
the end of harvest was ready to take the field. He sent a body of 

foreign mercenaries under Falkes de Breaute to waste 

War of 

John m&hiM the lands of the barons, while he himself, ravaging as he 

advanced, marched into Scotland to punish the Scot 

king, Alexander, for supporting his enemies. It was a serious 

moment for the Charter. The suspension of Langton removed the 

only man who was able to hold together the many diverse elements 

of the popular party. The more conservative of the barons, men 

like Pembroke and Chester, who had left John only at the last 

moment, were inclined to draw back, while the younger men, the 


hotheads, were determined to fight the matter out. Thus the war 
rapidly degenerated into a struggle of factions, in which the pop- 
ular party continued to disintegrate and John's ranks swelled cor- 

The barons who held out, however, were soon in a sad plight; 
their estates were ruined, their castles destroyed, and their wives 

and children were lying in John's dungeons as hostages. 
fnvttcdto™ 1 * ^ n ^ ne i r desperation they finally renounced their alle- 
™?%fil ethe giance altogether, and invited Louis, the son of Philip, 

to come over and assume the English crown. Louis, it 
will be remembered, had married John's niece, Blanche of Castile, 
and by feudal law, in default of John and his male heirs, Louis's 
right to the English crown through his wife might be recognized. 
Philip chose to regard the claim as founded upon good law and in 
spite of the threats of the pope, espoused the cause of the barons, 
and in November hurried off a detachment of 7,000 men to aid 
them, reinforcing it at times during the winter and spring. John, 
however, in spite of the French help, continued to make head 
against his foes, and with the fall of Colchester in March, London 
remained almost the only place of importance in their hands. 

In May, the arrival of Prince Louis gave a new phase to 
the war. Up to this point John had shown considerable military 

skill. His energy had been magnificent. The strength 
Louu 8 me f anc * V] & or °f h ,s bl° ws had appalled the stoutest. But 

now John began to display that want of resolution in 
the presence of great emergency, so characteristic of the man, but 
a new element in the Angevin character. When he heard of the 
landing of Prince Louis at Thanet, he at once broke camp and 
retired to Winchester. Louis marched upon London and was 
received by the people with loud acclamations. From London he 
advanced upon Winchester. John's French mercenaries who con- 
stituted his main strength, refused to fight against their king's 
son, and John could do nothing but waste the country and 
retire before Louis. Winchester fell, and Louis laid siege 
to Windsor and Dover. Alexander came from Scotland to do 
him homage and the northern lords followed his example; then 
the southern earls began to come in and finally John's half-brother, 

1216] DEATH OF JOHN 265 

William of Salisbury, made his submission. John's kingdom 
was fast slipping from him; he could not bring his mercenaries 
to meet Louis in the open field, although they were perfectly will- 
ing to rove up and down the country in John's train, burning and 
plundering English homes and butchering the people. This, how- 
ever, did John little good, and soon even his friends were disgusted 
with the lawlessness of his followers. 

As the summer approached everything was going Louis's way. 
But ere it had passed, unmistakable signs of a second reaction 

began to appear. Hubert de Burgh had succeeded in 
John, Oct»- holding Dover against every attempt of Louis; Windsor 

also held out. The barons, moreover, began to doubt the 
security of their position, should Louis be too successful. Still 
the fear of John was superior to all other motives and Louis's party 
continued to hold together. But suddenly in the midst of new 
successes of the royal party, the whole aspect of the struggle was 
changed by the removal of John himself, according to tradition, 
the result of a surfeit of new cider and green peaches. 

"History has set upon John's character a darker and deeper 
mark than she has on any other king. He was in every way the 

worst of the whole list; the most vicious, the most 
inh%uJru? e P r °f ane , the most tyrannical, the most false, the most 

shortsighted, the most unscrupulous." 1 And yet had 
John been less of a brute, had it been possible to live with 
him upon any conditions, it is likely that the struggle would 
never have taken such definite form, or the principles of the 
Charter become so promptly established as the fundamental law of 
England. It was John's hopelessly base nature, that made the 
Charter a necessity, and left it to succeeding generations as the 
monument of his reign. 

1 Stubbs, The Early Plantagenets, p. 160. 



HENRY III., 1216-1265 


John = Isabella 
k. 1199-1216 I of Angouleme 

Henry III. = Eleanor Joan B^'^ZffZfat Richard, 

k. 1216-1272 I of m. ' 2 himon ae Montto " Earl of 

Provence Alexander II. Cornwall, 

| of Scotland King of the 

| j [ Romans, 

Edward I. Edmund Crouchback, Margaret = Alexander III. d- 1271 

k. 1272-1307 Earl of Lancaster, of Scotland 

d. 1296 

A great forward step had now been taken by England in secur- 
ing a basis upon which the relations of crown and people might be 
formally worked out. A precedent had been estab- 

The stTUiJolc 

for the lished ; a system or program had been accepted which 

embodied in definite formulae the rights of the subject 
and the powers of the government. Ideas, heretofore only vaguely 
floating in men's minds, had been crystallized into the formal terms 
of a public document; they could never again be lost or forgotten. 
Yet the Charter was by no means secure. Its provisions, after all, 
were as yet only the platform of a party. Much depended upon 
John's successor; much more depended upon the clearness with 
which new leaders should grasp the principles of the Charter, and 
the courage with which they should uphold them. This struggle 
is the theme of the next sixty years of English history. 

Stephen Langton, soon after his suspension, had hastened to 
Eome to put a fair statement of the quarrel before the pope and 
had not yet returned. His absence was now doubly 
Iwrwrhi/at deplored. T ne Charter, however, found a new friend in 
tetobcrts' a q uar ^ er where perhaps it was least expected. William 
Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, was the recognized head of 
the conservative party of the barons who had clung to John, and, 
although they had supported the demand for the Charter jui 1215, 



had refused to make war upon him. Within ten days after his 
death, therefore, they brought out and crowned at Gloucester the 
young Prince Henry, John's eldest son. They also appointed Pem- 
broke "governor of the king and the kingdom," but entrusted 
the person of the king to the care of Peter des Itoches. The 
supporters of Henry, however, were not wedded to John's ways, 
and it required no great foresight to see that the only hope of the 
young king of ever ruling over hie father's kingdom, lay in the 
absolute and immediate abandonment of his father's policy. To 
show the people, therefore, that John's policy had died with him, 
Pembroke at once reissued the Charter, in a modified 

Fir»t rrixsite 

»f charter, form to be sure, but nevertheless the Charter. The 

Nm\ 12, 1216. . . . 

most important change was the omission of the clauses 
which made the consent of the barons necessary to the levy of an 
unusual aid. The new government was at war with its own sub- 
jects; a foreign prince supported by a powerful army was in the 
field, and at so critical a time the new governor of the kingdom 
might well hesitate to tie his hands, or acknowledge the powers of 
a group of men the most of whom were in actual rebellion. Yet 
the first clause of the modified charter declared that the omitted 
articles wore only suspended by reason of the present emergency, 
and that they should be considered later. Gnalo, the new papal 
legate, and Peter des Roches had also borne no small part in secur- 
ing the reissue of the Charter, as the first step toward the pacifica- 
tion of the country. Sworn as was the one to the interests of his 
papal master, and devoted as was the other to the interests of John 
and his son, both saw that the moment had come for compromise 
and conciliation. 

The first year was fully occupied by the struggle with Louis. 
The military advantage was all against Henry, but patriotic cur- 
rents were running high. The old hatred of the Eng- 
wlthLtmuf Ashman for the foreigner kindled again under wild 
rumors of French brutality. The young king had no 
personal enemies. His very youth, his misfortunes, appealed to 
the awakening loyalty of the people. The independence of the 
realm was at stake. The liberties of the people surely would be 
far safer under one of their own princes, than under this French- 


man, whose ancestors had always and at all times been the enemies 
of England. Gualo, staunch to the interest which he had now taken 
up, thundered his excommunications against those who supported 
the French in their unholy cause. A new and powerful moral 
influence, moving in ten thousand hidden currents, was thus rapidly 
setting against Louis. In May 1217 Pembroke beat the French 
in an absurd battle at Lincoln, known as "The Fair of Lincoln," 
so easy was the victory and s<frich the plunder. In August the 
Fair of Lincoln was eclipsed by another victory off Dover, in which 
Hubert de Burgh with a small fleet of forty ships completely over- 
whelmed the French fleet, and thus destroyed Louis's last chance of 
getting reinforcements. The victory was due partly to the superior 
seamanship of the English sailors, and partly to the simple expe- 
dient of throwing quicklime into the faces of the French, as the 
English bore down upon them from the weather side. This battle 
of Dover practically settled the war; Louis thought only of mak- 
ing his escape from the country. 

The treaty of peace was signed at Lambeth, September 11, 
1217. The same dignity and moderation, so characteristic of all 
Treaty <>f ^hat Dears the touch of Pembroke's great soul, mark 
September tn * s treaty, which was "almost as important as the 
u,i2i7. Great Charter itself." It secured a general amnesty, 

and provided for the restitution of all forfeited property. Ten 
thousand marks were paid to Louis to meet the expenses which he 
had incurred in undertaking the war. Thus Pembroke sought to 
lay the foundations of a lasting peace by restoring all parties to 
the conditions which prevailed at the opening of the year 1215. 
In a few weeks Louis, after receiving the absolution of the legate 
as one guilty of an ecclesiastical offence, quitted the kingdom for 

Pembroke was now free to address himself to the reorganization 

of the kingdom on the basis of the Charter. He had not only 

averted the danger of another foreign conquest; he had 

second re- saved England from the horrors of long-continued 

inHiw (if the 

Charter, 1217. domestic anarchy. The treaty of Lambeth was imme- 
diately followed by a second reissue of the Charter, and 
also by the issue of a supplementary charter, known as the Charter 


of the Forests, which became almost as popular as the earlier work 
of the barons. In the reissued Charter the clause restricting the 
taxing power of the king was still held in abeyance ; illegal castles, 
which had risen again as in the wars of Stephen's reign, "were 
to be destroyed; the itinerant justices were to make one instead of 
four circuits a year. The Charter of the Forests included the 
forest regulations of the original charter which had been omitted 
from the first reissue, and also certain new regulations which 
relieved the people of many hardships. The boundaries of the 
forests were always more or less indefinite, and the constant 
tendency of the forest courts had been to extend these bound- 
aries. By the new Charter the forests were to be restored to 
the limits which had been recognized in the time of Henry 
II. ; and much of the legal chicanery by which the forest courts 
were accustomed to draw the helpless people into their toils, 
was abolished. No measure of Earl William's administration 
was more popular; and long after his death, when the cry for 
the "confirmation of the charters" was raised by the nation, 
it was Earl William's charters of the year 1217 that the people 

At the close of the year Gualo retired and Pandulf was again 
appointed legate. Gualo had administered his high office in the 

main with wisdom and discretion, and although he had 
ion d l«n and Deen somewhat overeager to levy fines and confiscations 

in the name of his spiritual lord, no small credit is due to 
him for his staunch support of Pembroke in restoring the kingdom 
to order and putting into practice the principles of the Charter. 
The new legate had nothing of Gualo's keen insight into existing 
conditions. He possessed, moreover, a dangerously energetic tem- 
perament and was imbued with the idea that he was to govern Eng- 
land as a dependent province of Rome. His overbearing disposition 
also soon brought him into conflict with Langton who had returned 
to England soon after the death of Innocent and was again at his 
post. But Langton's influence with the new pope, Honorius III., 
finally prevailed ; Pandulf was recalled and Langton obtained the 
promise that during his lifetime no resident legate should be 
appointed in England. 


In 12J.9 Earl William died. He is the "grand old man" of 
this era. He had been identified with every great political move- 
ment since 1173. If he had supported John it was not 
brohe'i2w em Decause ne loved tyranny, but because he feared baronial 
violence. He represented the great conservative 
thought of the nation, and because he was able at last to marshal 
this element in support of the Charter, he made the final triumph 
of the popular cause possible. His place could not be easily filled, 
nor did the council attempt to appoint a hew "governor." 
Hubert de Burgh, the hero of Dover, had been justiciar since 
1215, and the chief place in the administration naturally fell to 
him. He had never been in sympathy with the restrictions of the 
royal power as they had been set forth in the Charter; but he 
believed in good government, and threw himself with all the confi- 
dence and vigor of a successful soldier into the task of complet- 
ing the work of Earl "William. 

Hubert, however, was a very different man from the gentle 
earl. He had nothing of his patience and little of his tact in deal- 
ing with rebellious vassals. He saw, moreover, what 
deBurah possibly William had seen before his death, that the 
time for conciliation was passing and that the moment 
was at hand when the new government might no longer shrink 
from putting its authority to the test, but that it must deal vigor- 
ously with the barons who still refused to surrender their strong- 
holds. 'The feudal lords must submit to Henry III. as they had 
once submitted to Henry II. ;' the foreigners whom John had put in 
charge of his castles and who still held them, must be removed and 
the strongholds which they had turned into instruments of 
"tyranny and oppression," must be given back again to the king. 
The most conspicuous of these tardy barons were William of 
Aumale and Falkes de Breaute. Aumale was of the old French- 
English baronage which had rooted itself in the soil since 
element* in the Conquest. His grandfather was that William of 
Aumale who had defied Henry of Anjou when he began 
the restoration of the kingdom after the close of Stephen's stormy 
reign. Falkes de Breaute was one of the horde of ruffian adven- 
turers whom John had introduced into England in order to 

1219, 1220] HUBERT DE BURGH 271 

support his tottering throne. He was a Norman by birth, but 
had been driven out of Normandy for his crimes and had found 
congenial occupation in marshalling John's mercenaries. John 
had rewarded him by bestowing upon him a rich heiress; he had 
also made him sheriff of six English counties and given into his 
keeping many of his castles, including Bedford, one of the most 
formidable strongholds of England. Pembroke perhaps would not 
have hesitated to attack Aumale or de Breaute had they stood 
alone. But there were many other powerful barons who, like Ralph 
of Chester, held aloof from the new government and would 
undoubtedly have taken alarm, had the regent attempted to coerce 
one of their number. There was also within the council itself a pow- 
erful foreign influence, headed by the quondam justiciar of John, 
Peter des Roches, who had been a knight, a politician, and a mis- 
chief-maker generally, before he had taken orders, and had not so 
far abandoned his old profession, that he could not use his present 
position secretly to encourage the barons to defy the regent in 
order to build up a foreign party in the court. 

As a preliminary step to the assertion of the royal authority, 
at Whitsuntide of the year 1220, Hubert with the support of 

Langton had Henry recrowned at Westminster amid 
asaefuthe g re{l t pomp and splendor. It was to be the signal that 
uT'lr"? 11 ' 1 ^' ie king had been restored to full possession of the 

royal dignity. Armed with a bull f rom Honorius which 
demanded the surrender of the castles, Hubert then proceeded 
against Aumale, and although ho succeeded at last, it was not 
until Aunnile had resisted the whole force of the government for 
nearly a year. By this time, also, the other barons wore fully 
aroused, and appearing before the king, with Bishop Peter as 
spokesman, formally accused Hubert of treason. They then 
retired to Leicester. The justiciar in the name of the king 
appealed to the nation and gathered a rival force at Northampton. 
Langton also entered the lists and issued a formal excommuni- 
cation against the rebellious barons. This "array of force and 
authority" overawed the malcontents; and one by one they sur- 
rendered their castles and made their peace with the justiciar. 
Ealkes de Breaute, however, remained defiant and Hubert deter- 


mined to complete his success by either destroying him or driving 
him out of the country. But he took his own time, and waited 
patiently until some overt act of de Breaute or his men should 
leave no question of the justice of his position. In 1224, the occa- 
sion came. William, a brother of de Breaute, who held Bedford 
in his name, seized and imprisoned one of the royal justices. 
Hubert at once accepted the challenge, marched against Bedford, 
and after two months' siege, took it and hanged William and some 
eighty of his men on the walls. Such prompt and vigorous measures 
thoroughly cowed the barons who still retained any sympathy 
with de Breaute. De Breaute himself was glad to leave the coun- 
try; Bishop Peter also lost his influence for the time, left the 
council, and soon after departed for a Crusade. 

For three years Hubert continued to rule the kingdom with 
vigor and success. But in 1227 Henry, who had entered upon his 

twenty-first year, declared his purpose of assuming the 
becomes of government himself. Personally the young king was 

clean and upright, without any of his father's personal 
wickedness ; but unfortunately he was possessed with an exaggerated 
estimate of his own abilities as an executive, always coupled with a 
slavish deference to the papacy. He was, moreover, easily led by 
the favorite of the hour and inclined, like most weak natures in 
high positions, to be suspicious of the influence of strong men. 
Hubert continued to act as justiciar; but the king was incapable 
of appreciating his sterling worth, or the value of his past serv- 

In 1228 Hubert lost his best and wisest supporter in the death 
of Langton, who as no other English statesman of the time, even 

Pembroke not excepted, had risen to the full concep- 
Thr trouble* tion of the constitutional monarchy. He had unflinch- 

uf Hubert. J 

ingly upheld the liberties of all classes against the king; 
yet he had as staunchly defended the crown when the barons pro- 
posed to deprive the king of his legal and just powers. As no 
other man he stood for the national rights of the English people. 
His death left Hubert to struggle on alone under his burdens. 
The task had long since proved thankless, for the king had early 
shown alarming signs of treading in his father's footsteps. His 

1228, 1229] FALL OF HUBERT DE BURGH 273 

very first act was to insist that all charters or grants made in his 
name during his minority, should be regarded as invalid, until 
confirmation had been purchased by the beneficiary. Other acts as 
ill-omened of the future followed. Hubert, loyal to the last, 
found himself driven to adopt the policy of his predecessors, 
Hubert Walter and Geoffrey Fitz-Peter; like them he deliberately 
sacrificed his own popularity to save the reputation of his master. 
When he could, he lightened the burdens of the people, but only 
in the end to forfeit the favor of the ungrateful king. 

The troubles of Hubert began soon after the death of Langton. 
The pope, Gregory IX., at the time was in the midst of the 

struggle with the Hohenstaufen which had been 
Hubert renewed soon after the death of Innocent III. As a 

result the papal budget had enormously increased, and 
the ordinary revenue of the papal see, although supplemented by 
the Peter's Pence, was no longer sufficient for its needs. Henry 
at his coronation in 1216, had formally done homage to Gualo as 
the representative of the pope ; and again in 1220, at the second 
coronation, the sponsors of the young king had thought it neces- 
sary first to await the command of the papal overlord. The 
tribute of 1,000 marks which John had promised had also been 
regularly paid. The pope, therefore, had every reason to regard 
as established the papal overlordship which had now for nearly 
fifteen years passed without a challenge, and in 1229 demanded 
a tenth of all property, both lay and ecclesiastical, to assist him in 
prosecuting his wars. The demand brought the papal overlord- 
ship home to the barons, and when the matter was brought up in 
the council, voices were loudly raised in protest. The pope dared 
not push the demand upon the laity, but he compelled the church 
to submit. Eventually it became the established custom for the 
clergy to set aside one-tenth of their yearly income for the pope, 
annates, besides the entire income of each benefice during the first 
year after appointment, first fruits. Popular feeling ran high, and 
a quickening national sentiment found voice in a definite protest 
against the impoverishment of the nation in order to carry on wars 
in which England had no interest. The papal collectors were 
plundered ; their stores burned. The king whose sympathies were 


all with the pope, was grieved, and angry ; and when the justiciar 
failed to punish the perpetrators of these outrages, he charged him 
with conniving at the excesses of the populace. . Henry in truth 
was already tired of his minister. Peter des Eoches, moreover, 
who had just returned from his crusading venture, and who was as 
unscrupulous and ambitious as ever, easily made the king believe 
that Hubert's dishonesty was the cause of the lean treasury and 
that he was abetting those who were opposing the papal exac- 
tions. At last in July, 1232, des Roches had the satisfaction of 
seeing his old rival driven from the council, like Becket over- 
whelmed with a mass of unfounded charges, and his lands taken 
from him. Hubert de Burgh was the last of the great justiciars. 
Inferior men succeeded him. The political functions of the office 
passed to the chancellor and in the next reign the office itself was 
virtually abolished by the breaking up of the Curia into three 
distinct and separate courts. 

Peter des Roches was now supreme in the council ; and when- 
ever a valuable appointment was to be filled the king apparently 

preferred Peter's foreign friends, adventurers mostly, 
< ^mn>ver h ^° n * s own P e °pl e - A hundred years earlier such 
fav(yrites n conduct on the part of the king would have been 

accepted as a matter of course, but the national feeling 
was now too strong to allow it to pass without a protest. Earl 
Ralph of Chester, the natural head of the baronage, had died in 
the year of Hubert's fall. William Marshal, the younger, had 
married a sister of the king and was not inclined to break with 
him. William's brother Richard, however, "one of the most 
accomplished knights and the most educated gentleman of the 
age," put himself at the head of the national party and persuaded 
the barons to refuse to attend any council called by the king at 
which Bishop Peter was present, and to demand the dismissal of 
the foreigners whom he had introduced into the king's service. 
The king under the instigation of des Roches declared Richard a 
traitor and invaded his estates. The barons insisted that he 
should be tried by his peers. Peter des Roches asserted the 
startling doctrine that there were no peers in England as there 
were in France, and that the king had full right to proscribe and 


condemn. Richard, satisfied that he would receive short shrift 
with Bishop Peter as his judge, in self-defense made an alliance 
with the Welsh princes. So the nation was once more drifting 
toward civil war, when Richard was decoyed into Ireland by the 
cunning minister and there slain in a skirmish. But his work was 
accomplished. The clergy had openly taken sides with the 
barons. Langton's successor, Edmund Rich, read a list of griev- 
ances to the king and declared himself ready to pronounce the 
excommunication if the king refused to heed. Henry, who was a 
coward at heart, saw himself at last like his father confronted by 
an angry nation and durst not defy the spirit which he had raised. 
He therefore dismissed des Roches and sent off the foreigners. 

Henry, however, did not propose to flatter his troublesome vas- 
sals by calling any of them to his side as ministers. If he could 

not select his own .ministers, he would have none at all. 
aUemrdat '^ ie measure was a serious mistake. For hitherto the 
!!,7.;T'/, f .'!/,"',; ministers had borne the brunt of the popular discon- 

tent. Now the king assumed the whole responsibility 
himself. He was extravagant, obstinate, and false. It was not 
long before a mass of grievances had rolled up which certainly 
would have appalled a wiser head. But Henry kept on, blind to 
his own utter incompetence, disgusting his people by his evasions 
and shortcomings, and laying up an account for the future. 

These grievances centered largely about the question of money. 
Henry loved power not so much for itself, as for the opportunity 

which it gave him for ostentatious display, lie loved 
ofHenry ance ^° scat ter his favors in extravagant profusion; he loved 

tho glitter and show of court pageantry, and squandered 
vast sums in supporting its ceremonies, lie made the brilliant 
alliances of the royal house, in particular, occasions for the display 
of his magnificence. As a result, Henry won an unfortunate repu- 
tation for wealth which was not supported by facts, but which 
nevertheless tickled his vanity and led him still deoper into this 
costly masquerading. The broken-down gentility of Europe Avho 
could manufacture any claim upon his bounty flocked to his court. 
Most notorious among these were the queen's two uncles, Peter of 
Savoy and Boniface, who came with a train of hungry Provencals 


at their heels, and secured offices and pensions at the king's 

expense. Henry for his pains was rapidly sinking into hopeless debt. 

The barons continued to grant scutages, aids, carucage, or tax 

on movables as Henry demanded. But their generosity found 

little encouragement in the financiering of the king:, 

Growing im- ° ... 

patience of whose debts already exceeded four times his annual 
income. The barons insisted with each grant that the 
king confirm the charters and promise redress and reforms ; and 
Henry like all spendthrifts was always ready to promise when he 
needed money, only to forget again as soon as the money was in his 
hands. But the patience of the barons had its limit ; the king 
was drifting rapidly near to the danger line. Beyond it, was either 
bankruptcy or civil war, probably both, with the possibility of 
ultimate deposition. 

The king at the time was preparing an expedition against Louis 
IX. of France. He had long cherished an impracticable scheme 
of regaining the French domains which his father had 
tempt if> lost, and had already squandered the treasures of his 
footing rmthe subjects in a wasteful war with the French for this pur- 
pose ; but he had accomplished nothing, and in fact owed 
the continuance of his power in the parts of John's domain which had 
been saved from the general wreck, only to the loyalty of the Gascons, 
who did not love Henry so much as they hated and feared the French. 
The Gascon barons, moreover, were turbulent and unruly by long 
habit, and preferred the government which was remote and there- 
fore weak ; the southern merchants also found England the best 
market for their wines, the chief staple of their country. But the 
English barons took little interest in the distant struggle and were 
weary of the endless demands for scutage and other subsidies. It 
was with little satisfaction, therefore, that in 1242 they saw their 
king bent upon rushing into still another war with the French 
king. The Poitivin, Hugh de la Marche, had quarreled with Louis 
IX., and appealed to Henry for help. This Hugh was the man 
whose bride John had once carried off, the beginning of all his 
tronbles. After the death of John, Hugh had successfully 
renewed his suit and was now Henry's stepfather. Henry 
regarded the call of Hugh as the opportunity to regain his footing 


in Poitou, and although the English barons flatly refused to grant 
the required subsidies, the headstrong king, determined to under- 
take the quest, took his army to Poitou, only to be disgracefully 
driven out of the country. Then, to exasperate the baronage still 
further, he brought back with him a rout of hungry Poitivins, his 
half-brothers and their friends, to live upon his bounty and plunder 
the realm in his name. 

The barons now began to see clearly that it was not enough to 

protest, or refuse grants. In 1244, therefore, they presented a 

formal remonstrance to the king, in which they declared 

The baron* .. ., ,. 

demand con- that he had not expended their grants wisely, and de- 
appointment manded that he appoint a justiciar, a treasurer, and a 

chancellor, subject to their approval. In 1215 the 
barons had demanded only that the king's officers be acquainted 
with the law; now they demand that the affairs of the kingdom be 
administered by men directly responsible to the great council. 
The barons were thus at last feeling their way towards a right 
solution of the problem in which Langton and the elder Marshal 
had failed. The time, however, was not yet ripe for a step so rad- 
ical. The barons were not ready to break finally with the king, 
and the king evidently would not yield to their demands until 
forced by open revolt. 

The state of the clergy was far less hopeful. Like the barons 
they were subjected to numerous and heavy exactions; but they 

were far less able to help themselves. The king was 
Grievance* on ] v a £ 00 ] j n £} ie hands of the papal overlord, and the 

of the clergy. J i r 

English clergy might well hesitate to raise an issue with 
the fiery and inexorable Gregory IX. His remorseless demands 
were repeated from year to year; yet the papal treasury was 
ever empty. The pope, moreover, not satisfied with direct 
taxation, by the recently assumed right of naming "provisors," 
sought to reward his Italian servants by securing for them 
appointments to English livings in advance of vacancies. In 
1231 Gregory forbade the English bishops to "present to livings" 
until provision had been made for five Italians whom he did not 
even name. In 1240 the bishops of Lincoln and Salisbury were 
instructed to provide for three hundred Italians. In 1245 the 


new pope, Innocent IV., demanded a year's revenue from all 
vacant livings, and in a formal protest, which the English bishops 
subsequently presented at the council of Lyons, they declared that 
they were putting 60,000 marks each year into the hands of 
foreign prelates. At last the exactions became so burdensome 
that even the laity complained of the impoverishment of the 

The only justification which can be advanced in defense of the 

policy of the popes, is the desperateness of the mighty struggle 

which they were carrying on against Frederick II. It 

Growing bit- . / . m>J -, . , 

temess toward was a duel of litans and neither party was scrupulous 
about encroaching upon the rights of inferior powers. It 
was a cause too, Gregory or Innocent might justly claim, in which 
the entire church was interested, and their vassals of England ought 
to bear a share of the burdens as well as their vassals of Italy. To 
national England, however, drawing herself together after a cen- 
tury and a half of feudal strife, it seemed that she was paying 
overdear for her loyalty to the Roman see, with her riches pour- 
ing into its coffers, her livings handed over to foreign ecclesiastics, 
many of whom did not take the trouble to come to England at all, 
and her king a witless tool in the hands of a foreign hierarchy. In 
the quaint words of Matthew of Paris, "the pope displayed the 
harshness of a stepfather, and the church of Eome the fury of a 
stepmother. 1 ' Many voices were raised in protest. Even the 
saintly Edmund Rich, the archbishop of Canterbury, although 
like Langton he owed his appointment directly to the intrusion of 
papal authority, protested against the continued usurpations of 
the Roman pontiff and went into exile rather than submit. Sir 
Robert Twenge, a public-spirited knight of Yorkshire, went to 
Rome in order to present his protest in person. But no voice 
rang clearer lhan that of Robert Grosseteste, the bishop of Lin- 
coln, who boldly urged the clergy to resist the frequent levies, and 
declared that the nominees of the pope were drawing from Eng- 
land three times as much revenue as the king himself. Almost 
his last words were those of the noble and manly protest of 1253. 
Innocent had proposed that one of his own nephews be invested 
with aliving in the diocese of Lincoln. "I decline to obey," replied 

1253-1257] THE APULIAN AFFAIR 279 

Grosseteste; "filially and obediently, I oppose; I rebel!" Thus 
were sown in the English mind the first seeds of that bitterness 
which was destined two centuries later to bear fruit so fatal to 
the pope's interests in England. 

In 1257 affairs began to approach a crisis. Frederick II. had 
died in 1250, and Innocent IV. had followed him to the grave in 

1254. Innocent's successor was Alexander IV., a mild 
oHi^'n'Z'is 01 ' anc ^ £ en tl e prince, of very different spirit from either 

Gregory or Innocent. The policy of the Roman see, 
however, had become too firmly established; the enmities which 
divided Italy had bitten too deeply into the hearts of the people 
to be influenced much by the character of one pope, so that 
Alexander was compelled by his position to take up the task of his 
predecessors. A Ilohenstaufen prince must not be allowed to 
establish himself in southern Italy; a descendant of Frederick II. 
must not succeed to the crown of the Sicilies. Innocent had 
sought to interest France in his cause by offering the disputed 
crown to Charles of Anjou, the brother of Louis IX. ; he had also 
gone begging to England and had actually persuaded Henry, who 
was just vain enough to be caught by the dangerous bauble, to 
accept the honor for his second son Edmund, when Innocent died 
and left his bargaining and his scheming for Alexander to bring 
to some definite result. Henry had agreed to send an army to 
take possession of the Sicilian kingdom, and when he was unable 
to act, the pope had generously undertaken to carry on the war 
for him, charging the expense up to his account, and with such 
good results that very soon Henry's debt had been rolled up to 
135, 000 marks. In the meantime the pope had not hesitated to 
press Henry for payment, even sending his own creditors to Eng- 
land to deal directly with the sorely beset debtor. In 1257 the 
urgency of Alexander finally forced the king to lay the matter 
before the great council and ask for a grant of 140,000 marks. 
Henry tried to arouse some enthusiasm by presenting to the 
barons the little Edmund tricked out in the costume of Apulia, 
but the attempt was a dismal failure. The clergy consented to 
contribute 52,000 marks, but the barons remained ominously 


The king and the great council were approaching a deadlock, 
and a deadlock at this moment meant bankruptcy, possibly revo- 
lution. Since the fall of Hubert de Burgh the king 
oflkmry^ 6 ^ad ac ^ e ^ as his own chief minister. Since 1244 he 
government, ^ad conducted the government without treasurer, 
chancellor, or justiciar. The affairs of these important 
officers had been carried on by means of a bureau of clerks, mere 
registering machines, both irresponsible and inefficient. Public 
business had fallen first into arrears, and then into hopeless con- 
fusion. Enormous sums had been raised but the treasury was 
always bare. The king could not pay even the menials about 
his court, and some of them had been driven to highway rob- 
bery by actual destitution. To add to the general distress the 
year 1257 was attended by a failure of the crops throughout Eng- 
land. Heavy and long-continued rains ruined the grain, and when 
November came the harvests still lay rotting in the fields. The 
price of wheat rose tenfold, and in the winter which followed 
thousands of the people died of hunger. The rich had no con- 
fidence in the future, and the poor, always the first to suffer on the 
eve of national bankruptcy, were openly disloyal, restless, and 
defiant. The discontent was universal and soon passed into savage 
mutterings, the presage of coming storm. 

In the past, in the case of wise kings like the first two Henrys, 

it had been sufficient to protest and exact some written guarantee 

of better rule. But this method had proved utterly 

Futility of ., . , . . W 

former meth- worthless against the obstinate extravagance of Henry 

oOnofre- ,,..,, , , , n ~> 

straining the, and the insatiable avarice of the creatures who surrounded 

crown. , 

him. Never had charters been more elaborate or mi- 
nute ; never had king more readily and graciously given his word ; but 
never had king more lightly broken his word again as soon as his 
people's wealth was safely housed in the royal treasury. Yet the 
nation had hesitated to draw the sword. The memories of John's 
wars were still fresh. The clergy were overawed by the pope ; on 
the one hand, on the other, they distrusted the barons and hesi- 
tated to join them in a struggle against the royal authority. 
The commons as yet not only had no regular representation in 
the national council, but by long-accepted tradition they still 


regarded the king as their natural protector, and had no desire 
to throw the administration altogether into the hands of the 

Such was the condition of affairs when in April 1258 the barons 
were summoned to a great council at London. They were still in 
the same ugly mood in which they had met the king in 
of'ms^^ ^ e receding year. But the pope, who had little appre- 
ciation of the difficulties which confronted Henry, had 
continued to press him for the immediate settlement of his account; 
the legate had threatened the kingdom with the interdict in case 
of refusal, and the king had no recourse save to call once more 
upon the barons to assist him in making good his pledge. Then 
the barons who had been silent before spoke out ; they told the 
king plainly that he had acted unwisely in the Sicilian affair 
and without the advice of the council, and that he must end 
the matter as best he could. After a month of wrangling 
Henry finally promised that he would summon the barons again 
at Oxford soon after Whitsuntide ; and that, if they would grant 
the aid for which he asked, he would consider their grievances 
and consent to the appointment of a commission of twenty- 
four, twelve of whom should be taken from the royal council and 
twelve from the barons, with full power to institute the necessary 
reforms. The barons accepted the promise in good faith and the 
assembly broke up. 

The king kept his word, and early in June the barons were 

summoned to meet him at Oxford. There was no mistaking tho 

spirit of this second assembly, which was soon christened 

The "Mad l J ' 

Parliament," by the king's adherents the "Mad Parliament." l The 

June 1258. ° 

barons met clad m full armor, and although they pre- 
tended that the arming was for the Welsh wars, no one was ignorant 
of its real purpose. They first presented their grievances, a long 

1 The name parliament was now coining into vogue. Matthew of 
Paris among English writers first uses it, parlamentum, of the meeting 
of the barons at London in 1240. Gneist, Const. Hist, of England, I, p. 
820, note 2a. The word at first had nothing of its later specific meaning, 
but was used in some such way as the word congress is frequently used 
to-day. See Taswell-Langmead, p. l*J-l and note 1. 


and formidable list, 1 and then proceeded to the reordering of the 
government. A justiciar, treasurer, and chancellor were chosen, 
presumably, by the parliament. The promised committee of 
twenty -four were also appointed, and proceeded to draw up the 
constitution known as the Provisions of Oxford. 

In accordance with the proposed constitution, the commission of 

twenty -four were to appoint a second committee of four; each 

twelve to select two names from the opposing twelve. 

TheProvi- ■, 

swmof lne committee of four were then to select a per- 

Oxford. . r 

manent council of fifteen members. This council 
was to advise the king in matters of state and to exercise a 
direct supervision over his public acts. The barons were also 
to appoint a second permanent committee to consist of twelve 
members who were to represent the "community of the realm," 
meeting in parliament with the council of fifteen three times a 
year. A second committee of twenty-four were to be empowered 
to negotiate the aid which had been promised to the king. The 
original twenty-four were entrusted with the reform of the church. 
In each shire four discreet knights were to be appointed to watch 
the conduct of the sheriffs and report at the parliaments. The 
sheriffs were to be appointed for one year and their accounts 
were to be strictly audited. A direct blow was aimed at the foreign 
friends of the king, in that all castles were to be put at once into 
the hands of native Englishmen. 

The barons were taking a long sfep in advance of the crude 
provisions made in the Great Charter for safe-guarding the nation 
vonstuu- against the tyrannies of the king; yet they had little 
cance^tiie com P rene nsion of the principles of constitutional gov- 
'Provitsvm*. ernment. For the arbitrary government of an irre- 
sponsible king, they had nothing better to substitute than the 
arbitrary government of an irresponsible oligarchy. In the 
method also, which they devised for selecting the men to whom this 
important trust was to be committed, they betray the same 
barrenness of expedient, having exhausted their ingenuity in 

•See Stubbs, S. C, p. 382. By comparing these grievances point by 
point with the provisions of the Great Charter it will be seen how little 
had yet been actually secured. 


imitating the complicated and crude machinery of cross appoint- 
ments by which it was customary to negotiate the treaties 
of the era. The barons conceded the supervision of local 
administration to the knights of the shire and allowed them to 
report at the parliaments. Yet they evidently had no wish to allow 
the knights any standing as a constituent part of the parliament, 
and really showed less confidence in this large and important ele- 
ment of the commonalty of the realm than Henry him- 
1254. self had shown on a previous occasion, 1 when he had 

assembled the knights through their representatives, as 
an integral part of the great council. All in all, the Provisions 
were constitutionally a step backward; they were designed to 
fetter the king by putting the government into the hands of an 
oligarchy of the great barons, rather than to extend political priv- 
ileges to the community at large or to develop its political activity. 
As it was, the lesser barons evidently were not satisfied, and to 
quiet them, the twenty-four promised to announce further reforms 
before the following Christmas. 

The Provisions were accepted by the king; the several commit- 
tees were appointed and the members bound by an elaborate series 
of oaths to perform their respective duties. The king 
The new a i so SWO re to support the Provisions and respect the 

government rr r 

launched, advice of the council. A flurry was caused for a moment 

1258. J 

by the conduct of Henry's half-brothers, the Lusignans, 
who refused to surrender their castles at the demand of the barons, 
and, throwing themselves into the castle of Winchester, defied the 
authority of the government. After a two weeks' siege, however, 
they were compelled to capitulate on July 5, and were expelled 
from the kingdom, leaving the most of their ill-gotten wealth 
behind them. After their departure, Edward, Henry's eldest son, 
also accepted the Provisions, and the new government was fairly 
launched. On the 18th of October, in a document drawn up in 
English, French, and Latin, the king formally announced to the 
world his acceptance of the Provisions and his purpose to respect 
the decisions of the council. 

1 Taswell-Langmead, p. 194. 


The two men who thus far had led the barons were Richard of 
Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and Simon de Montfort, Earl of Lei- 
cester. Of these two men Richard of Clare was "by 
ttwhanmit D * r kh> property, and descent the natural head of the 
English baronage." He was also a man of great energy 
and strength, but his political sympathies were narrow and con- 
fined him to the interests of his class. A very different man was 
Earl Simon. He came from an ancient Norman family and was 
the second son of that Simon de Montfort who had lost his life 
under the walls of Toulouse in the Albigensian Crusade. The 
younger Simon like his father was tall and handsome; he pos- 
sessed also his religious ardor, his love of roving, his fondness for 
war and adventure. From his father's mother he had inherited a 
claim to the English earldom of Leicester, the recognition of which 
by Henry had given him a standing among the English barons. 
He had risen rapidly in favor, and in 1238 had secretly married 
the king's sister Eleanor, the widow of William Marshal the 
younger. Thus far the career of Simon had not differed much 
from that of many another foreign adventurer who came to seek 
his fortune in-England. His rapid rise, also, had stirred up bitter 
enemies, chief of whom was the king, who was particularly dis- 
pleased by the marriage with Eleanor. In 1240 Simon departed 
on a Crusade and was gone two years. In 1248 he was made gov- 
ernor of Gascony and gave its unruly nobles the best administra- 
tion that they had known since the days of Richard I. He 
returned in 1251 to find that the king's hostility had not abated 
and that the malice of his own enemies was as busy as ever. Yet 
his services were too valuable to be dispensed with, and he was 
sent again to Gascony as the guardian of Prince Edward. Simon's 
high reputation at this time is shown by the fact that he was twice 
invited to be seneschal of France. In 1254, however, he was finally 
retired to remain for two years under the deep shadow of royal 
displeasure. In 125G he came back to England to throw himself 
into the cause of reform, and it was largely due to his clear-sighted 
leadership that such definite results had been wrought out of the 
parliaments of London and Oxford. He was not, like Langton, an 
Englishman ; but yet, like Langton, like no Englishman of his own 


times, he rose to the full significance of the movement for the 
political reorganization of the kingdom. 

The year 1250 opened auspiciously enough for the new admin- 
istration. After the expulsion of the foreigners the adherents of 
the king were left in a hopeless minority both in the 
Tin- split in council of fifteen and in the consulting board of twelve. 

till- l>mtU <>f ir , 1 • ,1 c 1 1 T f Til 1 

the barom. Henry s personal influence was feeble. His son Edward 
had a strong following among the lesser barons, but 
they were all with Simon and the cause of reform. Kichard of 
Cornwall, the king's brother, who had been elected King of the 
Komans in 1257 and had been spending the last two years in the 
mad quest for imperial honors, returned in January of 1259, but 
was compelled to swear to support the Provisions. In times past, 
at great crises in the nation's history, the archbishop of Canter- 
bury had generally played a most important role and the support 
of his powerful influence was more to be desired than the support 
of an army. The present incumbent, however, was Boniface of 
Savoy, the queen's uncle, who was not only one of the very foreigners 
whom the barons were determined to keep out of the kingdom, but 
had made himself specially obnoxious by his brutal violence, so 
marked in contrast with the gentle saintliness of his predecessor. 
There was no one, therefore, to rally a king's party. Yet the king 
was not long without friends, lie found them, moreover, where 
he had least expeeted, among the very barons who had driven away 
his kinsmen and seized control of his government. Gloucester and 
Leicester were thoroughly incompatible both in views and in tem- 
perament. Gloucester was satisfied, now that the foreigners had 
been expelled, and had no desire to see the reform carried farther. 
Leicester, apparently, did not wish to stop until remedies had been 
introduced which should make such abuses of power as had disgraced 
the reigns of John and Henry henceforth impossible. Gloucester 
furthermore had no sympathy with the demands of the inferior 
barons, and it was probably due to him and the conservative instincts 
of the powerful section of the baronage which he represented, that 
the Provisions were so illiberal and that the inferior barons had 
been put off with a promise. Simon, however, was evidently not 
satisfied with simply exalting the powers of a few great barons at 


the expense of the crown; he contended not for the privileges 
of his class but to secure good government for the nation. 

Christmas came and passed, and the council had taken no steps 
to fulfill the promises made at Oxford. In February the matter 
The Prmi- came to an open quarrel between Gloucester and Simon ; 
SfeterS" but Simon apparently won, for on the 28th of March 
ober, 1359. the king published an ordinance by which the barons of 
the parliament undertook "to observe towards their dependents all 
the engagements which the king had undertaken to observe 
towards his vassals." This pledge, however, was evidently not 
definite enough to satisfy the great body of knights, x who, led by 
Prince Edward himself, demanded of the council that the specific 
reforms promised at Oxford be forthcoming. There were ominous 
threats of counter-revolution in the air, and the oligarchy in con- 
trol of the government could only submit. In October, therefore, 
they published a second or supplementary set of Provisions, known 
as the Provisions of Westminster , which, while not altogether 
satisfactory, served to allay the disquiet for a time. 

It is not necessary to trace the further history of the govern- 
ment of the barons in detail. They succeeded in bringing to a 
close a Welsh war which had smouldered through the 

The govern- , ° 

mentof the greater part of Henry s personal reign. They withdrew 
England from all share in the unfortunate Sicilian affair. 
They also succeeded in settling by a definite treaty the long-stand- 
ing quarrel of England and France over the lost Angevin dominions, 
in which the council renounced all claims of the English 

The tvcdtjt of 

Brrrdeauz, king upon Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, and Poitou ; the 
French king conceded Bordeaux, Bayonne, andGascony, 
with the bishoprics of Limoges, Cahors, and Perigord, all to be held 
by the king of England as fiefs of the king of France. The domes- 
tic administration of the council seems to have been likewise suc- 
cessful. The three parliaments were held each year; the four 
knights from each county regularly reported on the conduct of 
the sheriffs, and the courts instead of being a source of extortion, 
became again the guardians of law-abiding subjects. 

So matters continued until the close of 12G0. Leicester and 

1 "The community of the bachelors of England, "St ubbs.C H., II, p. 83. 


Gloucester were apparently reconciled; but the estrangement of 
Leicester and the great barons was not healed, although Simon had 

spent much of his time abroad since the quarrel 
Suh^u reaJa of 1259 ' Gloucester and the king naturally drew 
ooumO, near together, and Edward and Simon, who had 

long been close friends, as naturally found themselves 
in accord. Edward, moreover, had been specially embittered 
against Gloucester who it seems had been largely responsible 
for the Treaty of Bordeaux, having surrendered the English 
claim to Normandy against the express protest of the prince. 
Gloucester also had used the intimacy of Edward, and Simon 
to excite the suspicion of the king and caused him to believe 
that Simon was plotting to dethrone him in the interests of 
his son. Henry on his part was fully aware of the unpopu- 
larity of Simon with the great barons and had taken advantage of 
his continued absence to foment trouble in the council and had 
gathered about him a considerable party. At the opening of 12G1 
he believed that he was strong enough to act, and made no secret of 
his determination to overthrow the Provisions of Oxford. He also 
received direct encouragement from the pope, who annulled the 
Provisions and released Henry and Edward from their oaths. 
Edward, whose sympathies were still with the popular cause, 
refused the pope's proffered assistance; but Henry seized and 
fortified London Tower, brought over foreign soldiers and began 
again to appoint his ministers and sheriffs quite in the old way. 
Open war would have broken out immediately but neither side was 
yet sure of its strength. The great barons, moreover, had become 
altogether lukewarm in their support of the Provisions, and prob- 
ably would not have opposed the king at all, if he had shown any 
disposition to keep his foreign friends out of the country, for they 
had already scented fresh booty and were beginning to return. 
The liberal views of Simon also were steadily gaining ground in the 
towns and in the counties, and the people were showing their dis- 
approval of the king's course by open rioting in the north and 
west. In 12(52 the earl of Gloucester died, and Simon returned to 
put himself again at the head of the popular movement. He was 
joined by the son of Gloucester, the young Earl Gilbert. 


As the year 1263 opened, it was evident that the country was 

drifting rapidly into civil war. The party of the barons was at last 

hopelessly divided. The great earls had come to 

The approach " , , ° 

of civil war, look upon the Provisions as a shallow pretense to hide 
de Montfort's despotism. Edward also had for some 
time begun to mistrust, if not the motives, at least the wisdom of 
the leader of the popular party, and when the young earl of 
Gloucester refused to swear allegiance to" him as heir to the 
throne, he regarded it as cause of open breach with his party. 
Simon, moreover, had made an alliance with Edward's old enemy 
of Wales, Llewelyn, who had begun to attack the king's partisans 
in the west. The people of London had unfortunately also won 
the enmity of Edward by an utterly inexcusable insult to his 
mother whom they hated as one of the detested foreigners. 
Richard of Cornwall, who had not yet committed himself to either 
party, for the moment managed to stave off the war by persuading 
the leaders to lay their quarrel before Louis of France for arbitra- 
tion. Louis, however, knew little of the conditions which existed 
The"Miseof * n England, and his decision, the Mise of Amiens, was 
farmmy, singularly unjust and one-sided. He declared that the 
1264. Provisions of Oxford and all engagements connected 

with them were null and void; that Henry might appoint his own 
council and employ foreigners if he would, but that previous 
charters ought to be observed. 

The discontented leaders were by no means satisfied with the 

results of the attempt at arbitration. They declared that they 

might accept the decision against the Provisions of 

licjcctioti of 

the "Mm of Oxford, but that the foreigners must be expelled from 
the kingdom; this item they had not consented to 
arbitrate. The city of London was the first to repudiate the ver- 
dict. Simon also announced that he proposed to adhere to the 
Provisions of Oxford. Only a few of the great barons went with 
him, but the citizens of the large towns, the native clergy, the 
universities, and the great body of the people hailed his declaration 
with unfeigned enthusiasm. 

The rejection of the Mise of Amiens was the signal for the begin- 
ning of the so called "Barons' War." At first the royal forces won 

1264] THE BARONS' WAR 289 

marked success in the midland counties; Northampton was taken; 
Nottingham opened her gates, and Tutbury surrendered. Then 

the war drifted south, and finally in the first week of 
the "Barons' May, 1264, the two armies faced each other at Lewes. 

The bishops of London and Worcester came to the king 
with an offer of 50,000 marks if he would confirm the Provisions of 
Oxford. His answer was a defiance,and a challenge to do their worst. 
The next morning Earl Simon, reinforced by a body of Londoners, 
led his army to the attack. Simon, good Norman that he was, had 

spent the night in prayer, urging others to do the same, 

i4 W 2*:4 May an( ^ n * s s Pi r ^ Da< ^ f° UIlc l a ready response among soldiers 

who felt that, like the men of 1215, they too had a right 
to call themselves "The Army of God and the Holy Church." The 
battle went against the king, owing largely to the eagerness of 
Edward who early in the action had routed a band of Londoners 
and led his men-at-arms too far in the pursuit. He returned to 
the field to find the battle lost, and Henry and Richard of Corn- 
wall prisoners. 

The victory placed the game in Earl Simon's hands; and the 
next day, a formal treaty, the Mise of Lewes, was signed in which 

the king bound himself to submit the points at issue to 
Lews* a new board °f arbitration ; to act solely on the advice 

of his counsellors "in administering justice and choos- 
ing ministers;" to observe the charters and to live at moderate 
expense; that Edward and Henry, the son of Richard of Corn- 
wall, be given as hostages, and that the earls of Leicester and 
Gloucester be indemnified for their sacrifices in the war. 

Simon himself was now apparently ready to abandon the cum- 
bersome arrangement devised at Oxford; and a month later, June 

22, a great council or parliament, to which were added 
Mmorm^ ^ our knights from each shire, was summoned to ratify 

a new scheme of government. By this plan three elec- 
tors were to be chosen by the parliament, and these in turn were 
to name a permanent body of nine councillors. Of the nine three 
were to be in constant attendance, and only by their advice could 
the king act. They were to nominate the ministers of the crown 
and the wardens of the castles, and their authority was to continue 


until the new board of arbitration provided by the Mise of Lewes 
had settled the points at issue. 1 The plan was adopted and Simon 
was named as one of the three electors; with him were associated 
the earl of Gloucester and Stephen Berksted, the bishop of 
Chichester. These three men for the next year were the real gov- 
ernors of England. 

Simon was fully aware of the insecurity of his position, and 
had little confidence in the proposed arbitration. He seized the 

royal castles, therefore, and placed them in the hands of 
parties after his own men. He also sought to secure the country by 

appointing in each shire so called "guardians of the 
peace. " The royal partisans on the Welsh border, ledby the border 
lord, Koger Mortimer, were still strong and defiant and were pre- 
paring for the renewal of war; Queen Eleanor and the English 
refugees were also raising a powerful force in France. The pope 
too had entered the lists and was using all his influence to detach 
the bishops from the support of Simon, and the legate stood ready 
to hurl his anathemas at the new government. 

Simon, nevertheless, bravely addressed himself to the task of 
inaugurating the new order, and on the 20th of January 12G5 his 

famous parliament came together at London. Of the 
The tnf l m5 g rea, t Darons °f the kingdom only five earls, including 

Simon and Gloucester, and eighteen barons had been 
summoned. The clergy, however, were generally represented. 
The shires also had been instructed through the sheriffs to elect 
in each shire court "four legal and discreet knights to attend the 
king in parliament at London." As an afterthought, apparently, 
a similar summons had also been sent to such cities and towns 
individually as were known to be friendly to Simon, urging the 
attendance of two deputies from eaclv As a matter of fact, the 
list included all the most important cities of England. The parlia- 
ment as thus composed sat until late in March. It had been sum- 
moned to complete the arrangements entered into at Lewes. The 
king swore to maintain the new form of government during his 
lifetime, and published "a statement of the circumstances and 
terms of pacification. " Those who had lately borne arms against 

1 Stubbs, S. C, 414. 


the king took the oath of fealty. Edward's county of Chester 
because of its military importance was transferred to Simon, for 
which Edward was to receive other lands in compensation. The 
charters were also confirmed and declared once more established. 
Then the parliament broke up. In a few months its acts were 
swept away in the counter revolution which culminated at Eves- 
ham, but a new suggestion, a hint at least, had been given that the 
untitled inhabitants of the towns might be useful in the national 
council. It is upon this hint, for precedent it can hardly be 
called, that the fame of this assembly of Simon rests. Represent- 
atives from the shires had been summoned several times during 
the ten years preceding; but no one had yet thought of inviting 
representatives from the great towns to take part in the actual 
deliberations of the national council. It is not clear that even 
Simon appreciated fully the significance of the innovation. The 
increasing wealth of the towns formed no inconsiderable basis of 
the national revenue, and it was in every way important to secure 
their active sympathy and support in order to counteract the 
hostility of the great barons. In all probability this was Simon's 
sole motive in inviting the burghers to sit with barons and bishops 
and knights to deliberate upon the affairs of the kingdom. But, 
however that may be, although no one now calls this assembly of 
12(i5 the first meeting of the House of Commons, it is nevertheless 
"a very notable date" ; it is the first hint of the important part yet 
to be performed by the people in the government of England. 

Simon was now to pay the penalty of the successful revolution- 
ist. He had been in fact too successful, for if his success had not 

turned his own head, it had turned the heads of his 
Evexham ... 

mtdthefaii two sons. I. heir insolence angered Gloucester; a per- 

Autiuxti. sonal quarrel with Earl Simon followed, in which Glou- 


cester intimated that Earl Simon himself was one of the 
hated foreigners who had been forbidden by the Provisions of Oxford 
to share in the government of England, and when on the 28th of 
May, Edward, who since the meeting of parliament, had been 
retained in a sort of honorable captivity at Hereford, rode away to 
join Mortimer on the Welsh border, Gloucester threw off all further 
pretense of acting with Simon and gathered his tenants for war. 


The moment was well chosen. Earl Simon had taken the king 
and marched into Wales where the king's half-brother, William of 
Valence, was seeking to rally a party among his tenants of Pem- 
broke. Edward and the earl of Gloucester, therefore, by seizing 
the town of Gloucester, easily secured control of the Severn and 
cut off Earl Simon from England. The younger Simon, who was 
at the time besieging Pevensey, hearing of his father's danger 
advanced to Kenilworth. The father meanwhile was hastily 
returning towards Hereford, his army suffering greatly from 
the privations of the long march through the Welsh hills. His 
hope was to combine his force with that of his son, and by sur- 
rounding Edward force him to fight at a disadvantage. Edward, 
however, was fully awake to his danger and, by a forced march, 
struck the younger Simon at Kenilworth and drove him with 
heavy loss behind its massive walls. But the elder Simon was 
fully as alert as Edward, and taking advantage of his departure 
from the Severn, on the 2d of August threw his troops across the 
river, and, by a long night march, on the morning of the 4th 
reached Evesham where he had planned to join his son. 
Edward in the meanwhile had already countermarched and 
was again approaching the Severn, but had evidently failed 
to meet the elder Simon. The younger Simon once more leaving 
Kenilworth was also hurrying forward by forced marches, not 
to overtake Edward but to keep his appointment with his father. 
The two Montforts were now hardly ten miles apart and the 
junction of their armies seemed certain. The weary toil of the 
night, however, had told sadly on their troops and in a fatal 
moment the younger Simon gave orders for his men to halt at 
Alcester and prepare the morning meal. This halt proved the 
ruin of Simon, for Edward "through the same memorable night 
was hurrying from the Severn by country cross-lanes, to seize the 
fatal gap that lay between" father and son. Through the morn- 
ing mists Simon saw the troops of Edward advancing, the men 
marching in long and regular ranks. He read his fate at 
once; his handful of knights, supported only by an unorganized 
mob of Welsh peasantry, could never stand before the disciplined 
troops which were moving down upon them. "Let us commend 




our souls to God," he cried to the brave men who stood by his side, 
"for our bodies are the foe's." The Welsh gave way at the first 
shock. The group of knights about the earl, among whom was 
Hugh le Despenser the justiciar, fought till the last man was down. 
Still Simon, like Totila of old, held off his swarming foes, until a 
foul blow dealt from behind felled him to the earth, and with the 
cry, "It is God's grace," the old hero yielded up his spirit. 1 



Richard 1. 1189-1199. John, 1199-1216. Henry III.,12161272. 


Philip II., Augustus, 

Louis VIH., d. 1226. 
Louis IX., d. 1270. 
Philip III. 


Frederick I., Barbarossa, 

d. 1190 
Henry VI., d. 1198. 
Philip, d. 1209. 
Otto IV., 1209-1218. 
Frederick II., 1212-1250. 


William the Lion, d. 1214. 
Alexander II., d. 1249. 
Alexander III. 


Clement III., d. 1191. 
Innocent III., d. 1216. 
Honorius III., d. 1227. 
Gregory IX., d. 1241. 
Innocent IV., 1254. 
Alexander IV., d. 1261 


Baldwin, 1185-1190. 
Hubert Walter, 1193-1205. 
Stephen Langton, 1207- 

Edmund Rich, 1234-1240. 
Boniface of Savoy, 1245- 



Hugh of Puiset, 1189-1190. 
William Longchamp, 1190- 

Walter of Coutances, 1191- 

Hubert Walter, 1194-1198. 
Geoffrey Fitz Peter, 1199- 

Peter des Roc lies, 1214- 

Hubert de Burgh, 1215- 


(The last of the great 

See Green's brilliant account of the battle. H. E. P., I, pp. 303 and 



HEXRY III., 1265-1272 
EDWARD I., 1272-1297 

Lewes was now undone ; all that had been gained by two gen- 
erations of strife apparently had been swept away; the king could 

now defy the Charter, squander the treasure of his sub- 
ofEvesham. j ects 5 an( * ru le as he listed. This, to all appearance, 

was Henry's interpretation of the overthrow of Simon, 
and he at once set about punishing those who had recently opposed 
him. Simon's vast estates were given to the king's second son, 
Edmund; the towns which had favored Simon, London most con- 
spicuously, were held to be at the king's mercy and their privileges 
forfeited ; the estates of the barons also who had followed Simon, 
nearly one-half the gentry of England, were marked for forfeiture 
and confiscation; and the hungry favorites of the king, without 
waiting for process of law, began at once to take possession. In 
September a parliament, brought together at Winchester in 
the king's interests, legalized these spoliations by revoking all 
charters which had been granted during the king's captivity 
and by authorizing the confiscations in one gigantic act of 

It was impossible, however, for the king's party to pursue this 
mad career of reactionary vengeance long without a challenge. 

The movement for popular rights had stirred the people 

Evidence* of , , , , , ™ 

gathering too profoundly to be abandoned after one reverse. The 


friars, who from the first had espoused the people's 
cause, cherished the memory of the fallen Simon, ' 'who gave up 
not only his property, but also his person, to defend the poor 
from oppression;" nor was it long before miracles were reported 
at his grave, — a throb from the great heart of the people, a surge 


1266, 1267] DICTUM OF KENILWORTH 295 

from the lower deep. Then mourning over the disaster of Eves- 
ham gave way to acts of popular violence, as at St. Albans, where a 
king's officer and his posse were cut to pieces by the townspeople 
and their heads set up at the "four corners of the borough." 
The powerful garrison of Kenil worth also continued to defy the 
authority of the king, levying its contributions upon all the sur- 
rounding country, while the younger Simon retired into the fast- 
nesses of the Fen Country on the lower Trent, and there rallied to 
his side the "disinherited," as the victims of the recent forfeit- 
ures styled themselves. The sturdy burghers of the Cinque 
Ports put their wives and children on board their ships, and 
taking to the Channel, began to harry the southern coasts. 
Llewelyn, the old ally of Simon, crossed the borders and began 
to ravage Chester. Bands of outlaws also terrorized the counties 
far and near. 

The outlook, therefore, was not reassuring. Such leaders as 
Edward and Gloucester who had once been of the popular party 
Dictum of an( ^ m ^ ne ^ r hearts still sympathized with some of the 
Kenttworth, a i ms f Simon, were convinced that the kingdom could 

October 81, * & 

1266. De saved only by conciliation; the sweeping decree of 

disinheritance must be recalled, or at least so modified that those 
who submitted might have the opportunity of redeeming their 
lands by the payment of a fine; the king also must restore the 
Charters as a guarantee of good government to the people. These 
measures were forced upon Henry at a parliament summoned the 
following summer under the walls of Kenilworth, and were pub- 
lished, October 31, 1266, in the famous Dictum of Kenilworth. 
In November Kenilworth capitulated. It was not, however, until 
the next year, when the earl of Gloucester suddenly 
appeared in London and took possession of the city as a 
pledge for the fulfillment of the king's promises, that the obtuse 
mind of Henry fully realized that it was no longer possible to con- 
tinue the old methods and that the new order was final. In Novem- 
ber a parliament met at Marlborough and proceeded to put the 
finishing touches to what was virtually a revolution by formally 
adopting the Provisions of Westminster of 1259, tilthough the 
appointment of all officers of state was carefully reserved for the 


crown. Thus the great cause for which Simon had laid down his 
life after all was not lost. The Charters were saved, and the 
principles for which Simon had fought were again recognized as a 
part of the fundamental law of England. 

Quiet was now so completely restored that Edward, to whose 

wisdom and firmness this happy outcome was largely due, thought 

it safe to leave the kingdom and "join with Louis IX. of 

Edward's , ° J 

crmade, t ranee in the ill-fated Seventh and last of the Crusades. 


He left England in 1270; reached Tunis just after the 
death of Louis; then went to Acre where he stayed some months 
but accomplished nothing of importance. In 1272 he set out upon 
his return and in Sicily heard of his father's death. 

The last years of the old king had been uneventful and tranquil. 
His advancing age had fortunately prevented him from again 
Death of attempting any active part in the administration of the 
Nfrvemher' 1 government. He had been a good man, but a bad king 
i6, 1272. an( j a dangerous tyrant. His worst weaknesses were an 

overfaithf ulness to unworthy friends who did not hesitate to sac- 
rifice him to their own interests, an overfondness for the members 
of his family, and a blind devotion to the religious forms and 
authorities of his day. "Whatever be his sins," said the just 
Louis, "his prayers and offerings will save his soul." His mis- 
rule was due, not like John's to malicious pleasure in playing the 
tyrant, but to a witless vanity which plunged him into extrava- 
gance, stopped his ears to wiser counsels, and made him obsti- 
nate when he should have been yielding, and yielding when 
he should have been firm, — not an unusual combination in men 
of his type. 

Four days after the death of Henry the barons of England took 

the oath of fealty to Edward, and although he did not return for 

his coronation until 1274, his reign was regarded by the 

fenitu t» lawyers as beginning with the date of the taking of the 

November oath and not with his coronation. Here was something 

Of) J272 

new in the annals of English kings. It was not simply 
that a king was acknowledged without dispute or rival, or that the 
oath of fealty had come to take the place of formal election by the 
great council, but that the hereditary right of the son to the sue- 


cession was for the first time clearly recognized. The recognition, 
however, was not yet complete ; Edward's reign did not begin until 
the barons had taken the oath of fealty. It will take two hundred 
years to bridge this gap. 

At the time of Henry's death Edward was thirty-three years 
old. He was already a veteran in war and in administration. 

He had profited much by the mistakes of his father; nor 
E<fip n rd r0f na( ^ ne ^ een together void of sympathy with the visions 

of Earl Simon. Yet he possessed what Simon had not, 
a practical, common sense way of adapting his plans to facts as he 
found them. His ambition was to restore the crown to its ancient 
strength and dignity; yet he saw that he could not do this with- 
out the cordial support of a united people. Here in a word is the 
policy of Edward's reign. He was not enamored of the idea of 
encouraging the political activity of the people; but he saw that cer- 
tain privileges could no longer be withheld. He, therefore, accepted 
the inevitable; recognized what he could not deny, granted what 
he could not refuse, and used the returning confidence of the nation 
to secure anew the foundations of his throne. Personally he was 
well fitted to arouse the loyal enthusiasm of his people. His 
English name, his yellow hair, which even after it had whitened 
with advancing years still waved in luxuriant masses to his 
shoulders, the frank and sympathetic blue eyes, his frame, vig- 
orous, muscular, and tall, so that like Saul of old he towered head 
and shoulders above the young men who attended him, all associ- 
ated the new king with the best traditions of the English kingship, 
attracted the eye and drew out the love of his people. A warm- 
hearted Englishman he was, without any of the cold selfishness or 
crafty cunning of the Angevins, capable of deep affection, and 
withal possessing a high sense of honor. He could follow the 
bier of Earl Simon, his old companion in arms, as a sincere 
mourner ; he could weep over the death of his father, although it 
gave him a crown. He was slow to make promises and obstinate 
in yielding concessions, but an oath once given was to him a sacred 
thing. His temper was violent, and when aroused he could be fierce, 
cruel, and relentless. In the Song of Lewes he is "a lion in pride 
and fierceness;" "a panther in inconstancy and changeableness. " 


And yet Edward learned to govern himself, as he learned to govern 
his people. 

The first serious difficulty which faced Edward after his coro- 
nation was the long-standing quarrel of the Welsh with England. 
rj , x . For England in the thirteenth century had a Welsh 

Relation* of . ° J 

wale* t» question on her hands, as she has an Irish question 

England. ^ 

to-day; and her efforts at settling the one then, had 
been as unsatisfactory as are her efforts at settling the othe* now. 
The Welsh princes had made a formal submission to William the 
Conqueror, but they had never been brought under the actual rule 
of English kings. William's successors had from time to time 
invaded the country in order to enforce the obligations of the 
Welsh lords, but they had never met with more than temporary 
success. Secure in their mountain fastnesses, the Welsh chieftains 
had continued to raid English territory as pique or lust for plunder 
dictated; and English kings in order to protect the western shires 
had been compelled to establish on the border a number of military 
lords with almost sovereign powers. These were the so-called 
marcher barons, whose turbulent independence became in time as 
great a terror to the border lands as the chronic hostility of the 

These unsatisfactory conditions had been specially emphasized 
during the recent struggles, in which the Welsh lords had proved 

themselves ever ready to encourage and assist rebellion 
duSr&atej. in En g land - When, therefore, at Edward's coronation 

Llewelyn, Earl Simon's former ally, not only refused to 
appear among Edward's vassals and renew homage, but openly 
defied the new king, Edward determined to settle the vexing Welsh 
question once and for all time. He first invaded Wales with an 
army strong enough to bring Llewelyn to terms, and forced him to 
cede the northern cantreds. He then proceeded to introduce into 
the ceded district the English system of shire administration and 
to enforce English laws. The Welsh naturally murmured at this 
interference with their local institutions, but probably would 
have accepted the new order without serious protest, had not 
the English magistrates made the common mistake of treating the 
less civilized people with severity and their prejudices with con- 

1282-1301] STATUTE OF WALKS 209 

tempt. In 1282 the smouldering discontent broke out in a general 
popular rising. But Edward returned to the struggle more deter- 
mined than ever. Llewelyn was slain in a skirmish ; his brother 
David held out for a year, when he too was captured, and in a 
parliament held at Shrewsbury was condemned to a traitor's 

Edward then took possession of the conquered country as a 
forfeited fief, and the work of introducing English institutions 

began anew. By the Statute of Wales the principality 
wllui ''%s4 was pl ace d directly under the dominion of the crown 

and divided into shires after the English model. Ed- 
ward, however, profiting by his former experience, was more careful 
to conciliate the feelings of the natives and chose Welshmen rather 
than Englishmen for the administration of the shires. The per- 
manence of the conquest was further assured by settling colonies 
of Englishmen in the towns and by building castles, such as Con- 
way and Carnarvon, the ruins of which still remain, silent testi- 
monies to the thoroughness of Edward's work. It was Edward's 
policy, also, to retain the country as a principality, distinct 
from England ; nor was it incorporated in the kingdom or allowed 
to send representatives regularly to the national parliaments until 
the reign of Henry VIII. In 1301 Edward gave the title of Prince 
of Wales to his eldest living son Edward, who had been born at 
Carnarvon in 1284. 

The subjection of the rude courts of Wales to the English sys- 
tem was only a part of a greater work which Edward had early set 

himself to accomplish. The thirteenth century was for 
rewhtMnce ^ uro P e distinctively a legal age. The great law schools 

of Bologna and other Italian cities had for a century 
been preparing the way for a legal renaissance by creating and 
extending an interest in the systematic and scientific study of the 
Roman Law. LTnder emperors like Frederick Barbarossa and his 
brilliant grandson, these studies had borne practical fruit in the 
introduction of more rational methods of procedure in the imperial 
courts, and in the production of formal codes which supplanted the 
crude laws of feudal custom that had prevailed heretofore north 
of the Alps. This work had been continued in the west by such 


princes as Louis the Just of France and Alfonso the Wise of 
Castile. In England the more perfect organization of the govern- 
ment, the development of the magistratical functions of the crown, 
and the coordination of the courts had not been without a direct 
influence in unifying the laws and reducing them to some coherent 
system, and the English people could already boast of their great 
legists, men like Glanville and Bracton, 1 who wrote law treatises 
and sought to reach the underlying principles which explained and 
justified the decisions of the courts. But while the legal renais- 
sance in England had thus drawn its inspiration in the first instance 
from sources largely outside of the civil law, it was impossible for 
the English jurists, clerks as they were, many of them educated 
abroad, and all more or less steeped in the principles of the canon 
law, to escape the subtle influence of Eome; for although they did 
not follow the subject matter of the Roman law, they could not 
escape the charm of its orderly methods. 

Edward was in full sympathy with the legal renaissance of his 
age. He had had an Italian jurist for a tutor in his youth, and 

was very early made to feel the constant contradiction 
E^ushiaw. Detween the relations expressed in feudal forms and 

customs, and the theories wliich the legists taught him 
lay at the basis of these relations. To this work, therefore, of unify- 
ing and systematizing the irregular growths of centuries of feudal 
custom Edward addressed himself, and with such energy and far- 
sighted wisdom as to win for himself the title of "the English 
Justinian. " He broke with the precedents of the past and assumed 
the right of the crown not simply to amend laws of custom, but to 
create new laws ; not simply to make laws on the basis of what had 
been, but on the basis of what ought to be. That is, the laws of 
Edward, unlike the laws of his predecessors, are not merely amend- 
ments or restatements of existing customs but are laws in the 
modern sense. From his reign "the Statutes of the Eealm" con- 
tinue in unbroken series. 

Of the statutes of Edward some are worthy of special notice, as 
way-marks in the social progress of England. Among these was 

1 For work of Bracton, see Pollock and Maitland, History of English 
Law; The Age of Bracton, I, pp. 174-225. 

1276-1290] LAWS OF EDWARD 301 

the famous Statute de Religiosis, issued in 1279, which prohibited 
gifts of land to the church in mortmain, a form by which tenants 
had been accustomed to transfer their lands to some religious cor- 
poration and thus deprive the overlord of his rights. 
Deiteiivios-is. The law was designed not to check the growing power of 
the church as much as to protect the overlord from the 
excessive piety of his tenants, sometimes simulated to disguise a 
deliberate purpose of fraud. Another statute, not less important 
in protecting the rights of the overlord, was the Quia 
^//I'fons Emptores, first issued in 1270, and again in 1290; an 
act intended to prevent the abuse of the principle of 
subinfeudation. It had been the practice of subtenants to part 
with portions of their land by creating other subtenants who in 
turn might continue the subdivision and subgranting indefinitely. 
In this way the overlord's power was seriously diminished, and 
there was constant danger that the tenants might grant away so 
much land that there would not be enough left to bear the obliga- 
tions of the fief. Ify the Statute Quia Emptores the new tenant 
escaped from the lordship of the last grantor and became the vassal 
of the original lord. This statute it was supposed would benefit 
particularly the great barons, who strongly supported it in the par- 
liament. Its more conspicuous effects, however, were greatly to 
increase the number of tenants in chief, and thus, by breaking down 
the hierarchical gradations of feudalism, hasten the time when all 
should stand in the same relation to the king. An even more 
important act appeared at Winchester in 1285, which 
n^llu-hcsLr rov i ve( l some of the older institutions of the Anglo- 
Saxon period that during the two centuries of feudal- 
ism had been allowed largely to fall into decay. It regulated the 
action of the hundred, revived the huo and cry, reimposed the 
duties of watch and ward, and reenacted the obligation of the 
fyrd which Henry II. had once reorganized in the Assize of Arms. 
By this act every man was bound to aid in the pursuit of criminals 
when the hue and cry was raised, and to hold himself in readiness 
to serve the king under arms in case of invasion or rebellion ; every 
hundred also was to be responsible for the crimes committed within 
its limits, and every walled town was to close its gates at sunset 


and compel every stranger to give an account of himself before the 

Like the first Plantagenet also Edward saw that the way to 
bring the crown into touch with the nation was through a more 

perfect organization of the royal courts. Henry II. had 
reffyrmlof definitely established the Curia Regis as the central court 
t hecourt* °^ ^ ae na tional judicial system. Its activities, however, 

had steadily extended their scope, and the volume of busi- 
ness had increased enormously. Yet up to the thirteenth century 
one staff of judges had served for all departments of justice. But 
in the thirteenth century the policy of differentiating the work of 
the Curia, already forecasted in the reservation of certain business 
for certain sittings, 1 was fully carried out, and by the close of 
Henry III.'s reign the ancient Curia Regis had been divided into 
three separate and distinct courts: the Court of Exchequer to 
hear all cases touching the revenue, the Court of Common Pleas to 
receive civil cases, and the Court of King's Bench to deal with cases 
affecting the king's interests and criminal questions reserved for 
his judgment. The chief justiciar, however, still remained the 
bond of union of these courts until Edward finally abolished the 
common presidency by giving to each* court its own chief . The 
common law courts, furthermore, had their limitations as instru- 
ments for the redress of wrongs. Their decisions were necessarily 
based upon precedent and the strict letter of the law. But in the 
complexity of human actions many questions may arise to which 
no existing law applies or, if applied, may work actual injustice to 
the individual. Henry II. had reserved all such cases for the 
special action of the king in council; but Edward I. gave a still 
wider extension to this equity jurisdiction of the crown and 
referred such cases to the special care of the chancellor. Thus 
there grew up about the chancellor the fourth of the series of great 
royal courts — the Court of Equity. The Chancery, however, as a 
court of equity was not definitely organized until the time of 
Edward III., nor was its equity jurisdiction permanently estab- 
lished until the reign of Richard II. 

1 See p. 194. 


Edward L, furthermore, understood that the strength of his 
courts consisted in rendering real and not fictitious justice. He 
therefore attacked unsparingly the abuses by means of 
Me °cimrt» which the judicial circuits had become engines of extor- 
tion, hated and feared by the people. In 1289 all the 
king's judges were brought forward on charges of bribery, and all 
were found guilty except two. The chief justice of the Common 
Pleas had amassed a fortune of 100,000 marks. Nothing could 
more strikingly show the extenfof the corruption which had crept 
into all branches of service during the inefficient administration of 
Henry III. 

Edward's love of justice was real; yet he had the faults of a 
legal mind, and was too often willing in construing the law to 
strain it in his own favor. While he seldom broke the 
revenwf letter of the law, he often violated its spirit. Most of 
his legal chicanery, however, was prompted by the 
incessant demands of his treasury. It was his misfortune to find 
the throne encumbered with debt, from which he was never able 
entirely to extricate himself. He was by no means extravagant like 
his father, but his plans for the monarchy required more money 
than could be raised by the old methods. The crown domains, 
moreover, had been greatly reduced by the follies of John and 
Henry. The incomes from feudal dues had also declined with 
feudalism. Scutages and similar levies were not worth the trouble 
which it cost to collect them. The courts returned their fines to 
the royal treasury, but this was not a revenue which could be 
wisely developed. In his last year Henry II. had instituted a tax 
on personal property; and although as first introduced it was 
designed only to secure money for the Crusade, the Saladin tithe, 
it had since become the most common form of taxation. It 
depended on a parliamentary grant and varied from a thirtieth to 
a seventh. But such relief could be only temporary, and parlia- 
ment was loath to repeat it too frequently. Edward, therefore, 
was obliged to search for still other sources of revenue in order to 
secure a permanent and steady income. He found the answer to 
his quest in the possibilities offered by the rapidly developing com- 
merce of England, especially by the wool trade of which England 


virtually enjoyed the monopoly. England since the close of the 
barons' war had been comparatively free from private warfare and 
quite removed from the possibility of invasion. She had brought 
her rural interests to a high state of prosperity and had become 
the great wool-growing country of Europe. The old way of taking 
a portion of the goods going in or out of the country was no longer 
satisfactory to king or merchants; and accordingly in 1275 a 

parliament at Westminster granted to the crown the 
CMtmn a i275 r] ght °f l ev yi n g an export duty upon wools, skins, and 

leather, the so-called Great Custom, in return for a 
renunciation by the king of his ancient right of levying upon all 
goods entering or leaving the kingdom. This was the legal begin- 
ning of the English customs-revenue. It is not now considered 
good policy for a country to tax its exports; but at that time, the 
Flemings were absolutely dependent on England for the wool to sup- 
ply their looms. So that, in this case at least, the tax had to be paid 
by the foreign consumer. The king still continued from time to time 

to use the right of prise in regard to other commodities. 
Mercatoria, But by the Carta Mercatoria of 1303, customs on wine, 


cloth, and other articles of merchandise were formally 
recognized and regulated. By the time of Edward III. these had 

become a regular part of the ordinary revenue. Another 
^WMumkI res01 't of Edward for restoring his treasury was known 

as Distraint of Knighthood. In the summer of 1278 he 
issued a writ compelling every freeholder who possessed an estate 
of £20 a year to assume the obligations of a knight, or to pay what 
amounted to a heavy fine. The advantage was twofold. Those 
who obeyed increased by so much the body of knighthood. While 
those who did not wish to assume the obligations of knighthood, 
gladly paid the fine and by so much increased the revenue. In 
1282 all persons possessing an estate of £20 a year, were ordered to 
provide themselves with" horse and armor. 

In these schemes for raising money, the Jews also did not 
escape the attention of the royal financier. From the time of the 
Conquest they had occupied a singular place in England. In the 
age of the Crusades it is not strange that they were hated as 
infidels. The most shocking crimes, involving murder, sacrilege, 


and even cannibalism were popularly imputed to them. The real 
source of popular hatred, however, was perhaps the fact that the 
Jews held virtually the monopoly of the banking busi- 
Iterwenuts 1 ness °^ Europe. They were the money lenders and usu- 
rers of the time, and by these means had accumulated 
vast wealth. In the middle ages the propriety of taking interest for 
the use of money was not understood, and usury, as all interest 
taking was called, had been condemned by the church. Not 
infrequently the hatred and suspicions of the people expressed 
themselves in violent outbursts. The first year of Richard's reign 
had been disgraced by a massacre at York. But the Jew always 
had a strong protector in the king, who needed him for his 
money's sake, since a large share of the Jew's profits was sure to 
come ultimately into the royal treasury as blackmail levied under 
the guise of protection. No small part of the extravagance of 
Henry III. had been met by tallages levied upon Jews. Some of 
the nobles also used the Jewish brokers as leeches to draw wealth 
from the people, in order that they might compel the Jew to dis- 
gorge later. The great men of the time like Grosseteste, Simon 
de Montfort, and Edward himself shared in the popular antipathy. 
Edward at first tried restriction ; he would not allow the Jews to 
hold real property; he compelled them also to wear a distinctive 
dress, which greatly increased the grievous burden of their lot 
by making the Jew always a marked man in the streets where the 
hoodlum element, by no means a peculiarity of the modern city, 
was always ready to take the Jew's distinctive garb as a challenge. 
Even these annoyances, however, did not satisfy the popular 
clamor, and in 1290, Edward expelled this much abused people 
from the country altogether, allowing them to take only their mov- 
able property with them. 1 A grateful parliament granted him a 
tax of a fifteenth. The great banking houses of Italy were already 
coming into prominence and from this time the money business of 
England fell largely into their hands. 

The reforms of Edward, thus far, were reforms which any abso- 
lute monarch might have instituted who was bent upon adminis- 

1 They were not allowed to return until the time of Cromwell. 


tering his trust upon rational principles; but sooner or later 
the great underlying thought of the Charter, the right of 
The new tne na ^ on n °t oru "y to fair treatment by the gov- 
probiem. ernment but to a fair share in the government, must 
force itself upon Edward. 

The nation as the basis of political organization was hardly 
recognized in the thirteenth century. Political unity had been 

sacrificed in the upgrowth of feudal classes. The 
Estates™ multitude of petty sovereignties which had marked the 

earlier stages of feudal society, had been slowly merged 
in the expanding powers of the national monarchy, but the baron- 
age, the great feudal landholding aristocracy, still constituted a 
society by itself, with its own peculiar rights and privileges. 
Alongside of 'this feudal community, moreover, bound to it by a 
thousand intangible ties, and yet not of it, there had grown up 
another community, the ecclesiastical, with its own aims, its own 
methods, its own laws, its own courts, and finally its own complete 
and well-defined organization ; on the one hand, asserting its inde- 
pendence of the feudal society, and on the other, its supremacy 
within the feudal society. Furthermore, as the middle centuries 
progressed, with the increased wealth and numbers of the urban 
population, there had grown up still a third community, or rather 
group of communities, which by reason of numerous privileges and 
immunities, conferred generally by charter, had won a certain inde- 
pendence of the feudal and ecclesiastical societies, and formed a 
group by itself. As yet the members of this third group were 
united only by the possession of common privileges ; they had 
less coherence than the individuals of the feudal group, and noth- 
ing of the unity which was conferred upon the ecclesiastical group 
by its hierarchical organization. This threefold grouping, or rather 
separation, of the free elements of the nation was not peculiar to 
England, but was characteristic of the feudal state wherever it 
existed. The several groups were known familiarly as the Estates, 
and their relative importance and dignity in each case was indi- 
cated by the preeminence which was given to the ecclesiastical as 
the First Estate, to the feudal as the Second Estate, and to the 
burghers as the Third Estate. 


In England, however, this threefold division early began to 
assume certain features which in time became characteristic and 

which go far to explain why popular institutions developed 
ihrrinpment a strength and importance upon English soil as nowhere 

upon the continent. As early as Magna Charta a dis- 
tinction had been recognized between the great barons who were 
summoned to the national council by name, and the lesser barons 
who were summoned through the sheriffs in a body. But the 
attendance of the body of small landholders upon the meetings of 
the great council was for many reasons impracticable, and even in 
John's reign the expedient had been resorted to of allowing the 
knights to be represented by delegates chosen at the shire court 
under the direction of the sheriff. By the close of the century this 
expedient had become a regularly established custom. The eccle- 
siastical or First Estate, as indicated above, had a divided interest. 
Its members, however, had very early acquired a definite status 
of their own. They had their special councils and separate courts, and 
preferred to hold their own separate parliaments, or convocations, 
and discuss and vote their grants separately. The great church- 
men, however, the bishops and abbots, were also barons, or feudal 
tenants of the crown, and as such continued to sit with the great 
lay barons in the national council. Here then was a cross division 
which cut through the two higher estates, severing the great 
barons, ecclesiastical or lay, from the inferior members of their 
respective orders. Now, as a matter of fact, the interests and sym- 
pathies of the lower orders of both knights and clergy were far 
more nearly allied to those of the towns than to those of the great 
barons, and thus very soon after the crown began to summon dele- 
gates from the towns, it became customary for the representatives 
of the towns and the representatives of the shire to meet together 
in an assembly distinct from that of the great barons. Thus the 
Commons, so called, came at last to represent not simply an estate, 
but the people, the nation. The lower orders of the clergy by pre- 
ferring the convocation, undoubtedly lost a distinct and separate rep- 
resentation in this more popular branch of the national assembly; 
but in as much as their interests were really merged in those of the 
towns and the shires, they too were virtually represented in the 


more numerous body. Thus the original threefold division of the 
national council into separate Estates, which on the continent hard- 
ened into an insurmountable obstacle to the progress of popular 
institutions, in England gave way to a twofold division in which 
there were really but two classes represented, — the titled nobility 
and the untitled people, or the nation. In other words, in Eng- 
land the original Third Estate absorbed the lower ranks of the 
First and Second Estates ; and since it thus came to include the 
body of the wealth and population of both city and country, the 
great undivided middle class, its representatives in the national 
council soon gained a unity and influence which the simple deputies 
of the towns never attained upon the continent, and compelled the 
crown at last to recognize their importance as the source of its 
authority and the support of its power. 

This final goal, however, was not reached until long after the 
age of Edward I. There is no evidence that either Simon or 

Edward ever had any thought of attaining such a result 
nwuveti as ^is ; or that the expedient of summoning delegates 
thetowm ^ rom the towns was consciously designed as a step 

toward giving the people a more direct influence in the 
government. Simon sought to find in the lower orders the support 
which the barons had denied him. Edward needed money and 
thought only of making the wealth of the country gentry and the 
burghers tributary to the needs of his treasury. And even in this, 
he appears like a man who is feeling his way toward a goal of which 
he is at first uncertain, stumbling at last by a series of experi- 
ments upon the only possible principle by which that end might be 
attained; not the high and lofty end of bestowing liberties upon the 
nation, but the entirely ignoble, yet practical, end of securing new 

sources of revenue for the crown. Thus in his first parlia- 


parliament* ments he began by summoning the knights of the shire 
in addition to the prelates and barons. Sometimes, 
however, he brought together only the magnates in the old way. 
In 1290 the great barons met to deliberate upon a proposed statute, 
and the knights came later to take part in voting a tax. In 1282, 
when the expenses were unusually heavy on account of the second 
Welsh war, the king sent around to the different shires and 

1283-1295] THE MODEL PARLIAMENT 309 

boroughs to ask each community separately for its aid. The 
results of these local appeals were not satisfactory, and the next 
year he brought together on the same day two separate assemblies, 
one at York, and one at Northampton. It is to be noted further, 
that the principle underlying the feudal state is recognized in all of 
these early efforts to secure aid from the nation ; the crown had no 
right to levy taxes directly upon the people, whether lord or simple, 
other than those prescribed by the implied feudal contract, or as 
established in the customs of each locality. If more were needed, 
it could be secured only by voluntary grant on the part of each 
class, or of each corporation. It is, therefore, a marked step in 
advance when it is recognized that the consent of each individual 
separately is not necessary to the legality of such a grant, and that 
such consent may be given for him by his representatives, or by a 
majority of the representatives of the class to which he belongs, 
acting collectively. 

This important principle was explicitly recognized in the call- 
ing of the famous parliament of 1295, which on account of its 
completeness was long known as the "Model Parlia- 

The Model ,, T . , , . ml 

Parliament ment. It was a time of general anxiety. The old 

of 1295. . 

Welsh question had been replaced by an even more 
serious Scottish question, and the long war had begun which 
was Edward's reward for interfering in a Scottish dynastic 
quarrel. The Scots, moreover, had found eager allies in the 
French, who had their own perpetual quarrel on with their rivals 
across the Channel, and Philip IV. 's fleets were threatening the 
English coasts. The king was beset on all sides. In his need he 
appealed to the common interest of the nation. "It is a most just 
law," he declared, "that what concerns all should be approved by 
all, and that common dangers should be met by measures provided 
in common." The war was neither the king's war, nor the barons' 
war ; all classes were interested, and all classes ought to bear their 
share of its burdens. Accordingly, he summoned not only the great 
churchmen as heretofore, but also directed that there be sent one 
proctor from the chapter of each cathedral, and two proctors from 
the clergy of each diocese. In the same manner he summoned the 
great barons as heretofore, but directed also that two knights be 


sent from each shire and that two citizens be sent from each city or 
borough. For the first time all the different elements of the nation 
represented by the free subjects of the king, met together in a 
national council, coming, at the king's request, so constituted that 
the representatives of each estate should have power to levy a 
tax upon all the members of that estate. It is interesting to note 
that the results fully justified the confidence of the king. The 
First Estate, the clergy, voted a tenth of their movables ; the Second 
Estate composed of the great barons and knights, 1 an eleventh ; 
while the representatives of the towns outdid them all in loyalty 
by voting a seventh. 

In the Model Parliament Edward had established a pre- 
cedent which was to be invaluable in the future. The clergy 
apparently did not take kindly to the idea of merging 
vrecedent their independence in a secular parliament, and pre- 
ferred rather to vote their gifts through the two great 
archiepiscopal convocations of Canterbury and York, so that the 
lower clergy soon ceased to attend the parliaments altogether. The 
towns, however, had no other common organization, and with 
loyal enthusiasm they hailed the recognition of their importance 
and the opportunity of bearing their share of the public burdens. 
They were still separated from the knights of the shire; 
their right to a share in the general deliberations of the council 
was by no means clearly defined or fully recognized ; yet they had 
entered parliament to stay, their wealth and the needs of the crown 
were guarantees that they should receive a hearing. 

Edward's relations to the church mark as complete a departure 
from the policy of his father as his relations to the national 
council. He was slow, however, to break with the 
ufe%hwch d P a P acv - H e needed the support of the clergy, and 
the popes generally were not averse to the heavy 
grants which Edward continued to demand. But in 1294 
Boniface VIII. began his reign; a man whose ideals of papal 
prerogative were taken from the era of Innocent III. and who 
seemed unconscious of the deep currents of hational life which the 

1 The knights of the shire still deliberated and voted with the great 


thirteenth century had set in motion. In 1296 he issued the 
famous bull, Clericis Laicos, which forbade the clergy to pay 
any taxes to the temporal authority. The measure was primarily 
aimed at Philip IV. of France; but it affected every state of 
Europe and fairly opened the question of the place of the church 
in the new national systems. Were the clergy of England or of 
France a part of the nation and liable to its duties as subjects of 
the national king, or were they solely the subjects of the pope, and 
as such were they and theirs exempt from the exactions of the 
national government? It was really the old issue which Henry II. 
and Becket had fought out, only in a new form. Then it had been 
the independence of the church courts which was at stake ; now 
it was the independence of the church treasury. Archbishop 
Winchelsey supported the papal pretension, and when in 1296 a 
parliament modeled on that of the preceding year, was called at 
Bury St. Edmunds, the clergy under the archbishop's leadership 
refused to make a contribution and presented the pope's bull in 
defense. "We have two lords," said the archbishop, "the 
one spiritual, the other temporal. Obedience is due to both, but 
most to the spiritual." Edward's reply was characteristic of the 
man. He did not threaten like John to put out the eyes, or slit 
the noses of disobedient churchmen ; he simply applied their own 
doctrine. If they would not contribute to the support of the gov- 
ernment, they should be treated as aliens and not have the 
protection of subjects. In other words, they should have no 
rights in the king's courts. The sentence amounted to a 
decree of outlawry. The clergy might be robbed or mal- 
treated or even murdered with impunity, for the civil author- 
ity refused to punish. The results reveal how rapidly Europe 
was receding from the ideals of the past. The time had been 
when even emperors quailed before the ban of the church ; but 
now compared with the excommunication of the king the ban 
of the church was only so much stage thunder. Before the king's 
ban the church bowed its head and the proudest prelate was silent. 
Edward followed up the sentence of outlawry with the further 
threat, that unless the clergy yielded before Easter, he would him- 
self confiscate their lands, and the clergy knew the king too well 


to hope for one moment that his threat would not be carried out. 
Winchelsey personally refused to yield and sacrificed his lay 
estates, but he was wise enough to 'advise his clergy to make the 
best terms they could individually. They were quick to profit by 
the permission and soon made their peace with the king, for the most 
part, paying the money under the name of gifts, sometimes passing 
it through the hands of a third party and sometimes leaving it at 
a convenient place where the royal officers might find it. 

The new struggle with France had reopened the old question 

of service on the continent. The French king had naturally 

selected Gascony as the first object of attack, and 

Quarrel of Edward proposed to send his earls to defend Gasconv 

Edward and . J 

his barons, while he in person led another expedition to Flanders. 
The English barons, however, felt little interest in Gas- 
cony. Wales and Scotland were near at home and the English 
were always ready to respond to a call to defend their borders or 
cripple their hereditary foes by counter invasion; but it mattered 
little to them whether Gascony were held by an English king 
or not. In an assembly of the nobles in 1297, the king laid 
his plans before his earls and barons, but was met by the protest 
of Koger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, the Marshal, and Humfrey de 
Bohun, Earl of Hereford, the Constable, who fell back on their 
traditional rights and refused to leave England save as they fol- 
lowed the king's person. "By God, Sir Earl," cried the angry 
king, "you shall either go or hang." "By that same oath, Sir 
King," coolly answered Bigod, "I shall neither go nor hang." 
The assembly broke up in confusion. The two earls called their 
people to arms and were soon at the head of fifteen hundred men. 
It was the crisis of Edward's reign. His ambitious foreign 
policy had imposed a serious burden upon the nation. The splen- 
did response of the year 1295 had been followed by the 
tn7i^roL. P r °t est of the clergy in 1296; and now in 1297 came 
the yet more stubborn and dangerous protest of the 
barons. For the refusal of the earls to go to Gascony was only a 
pretext to cover the growing suspicion of the Estates of the king, 
and the feeling that by these aids and exactions dangerous prec- 
edents were to be left to the future that might one day put in 


jeopardy the rights and privileges which the fathers had won. 
The king, however, was in no mind to yield or renounce his 
proposed expedition, and in order to raise the funds which the 
parliament had failed to grant, he seized the wool of the mer- 
chants and made requisitions upon the shires on the basis of 
former grants. He also issued orders for all who held lands of £20 
a year or upwards to meet in London under arms on July 7. 
Bigod and Bohun refused to move; but the king, by promising to 
confirm the charters, persuaded the leaders, who had come together 
for the military levy, to consent to a grant of one-eighth of the mov- 
ables of the barons and knights, and one-fifth of the towns. The 
action was altogether too much in the spirit of Edward's predeces- 
sors, and Bigod and Bohun at once sent to Edward a formal 
protest in the name of "the whole community of the land." 
They declared that the numerous tallages and other exactions were 
devouring their resources, and that they were utterly ruined. 
Then in remarkably bold and clear-spoken words they proceeded 
to demand that the Great Charter and the Charter of the Forests 
be confirmed, and pointedly hinted that with Scotland hostile it 
would be wise for the king to stay at home. 

The document reached Edward when he was on the point of 
embarking for the war. Such outspoken words from subjects had 
been common enough in his father's day, but had not 
oniZchar™ Deen heard before in Edward's reign. His own sense 
ber5 N mn m °^ j us ^ ce told him that he had gone too far, and his 
better wisdom would not allow him to come to an open 
rupture with his barons. Yet he was not ready to submit, or give 
up his plan of invading France. He avoided a direct answer, 
therefore, on the plea that he could not act without his council, and 
that it was impossible then to bring them together. The two earls, 
however, were not to be put off by evasion, and when the departure 
of the king assured them that their petition was to be ignored, 
they at once marched to London and forbade the royal officers to 
collect the eighth, which had been granted at the London levy, and, 
further, protested against the seizure of the wool. Edward had left 
his son with his councillors to do the best they could in quieting the 
barons. But to do this they found that they must summon a 


regular parliament and secure the aid in a lawful manner. The par- 
liament, however, came together, not to grant the aid, but to insist 
upon the promised confirmation of the charters. The original taxing 
clause, which had been omitted from William Marshal's reissue of 
the Great Charter, it will be remembered, had never been formally 
restored, although the crown had since generally recognized the 
principle. The earls, therefore, insisted upon the introduction of 
several new clauses, by which they recognized the ordinary aids 
fixed by ancient feudal custom but demand that the king should 
again pledge himself not to claim as a right aids which the 
people had granted of their own will, and that such aids should be 
taken only by the "common consent of the realm." The king 
had also taken advantage of the vast increase in the wool trade to 
levy a customs-duty — the maltote, — which amounted to a virtual 
confiscation of a large part of the profits of the trade. The earls 
insisted that the king should renounce the maltote and should 
pledge himself and his heirs not again "to take any such thing, or 
any other, without the common consent and good will of the 
commonalty of the realm." The Great Custom of 1275, however, 
was to be retained. In this form the charters were confirmed by 
the council in the name of the absent king, and then sent to him 
at Ghent to be ratified. 1 The victory of the earls was final. 
Edward subsequently, like John, obtained from the pope a dis- 
pensation which relieved him of the obligation of keeping his 
pledge, but he dared not make use of it. The barons at last had 
found the right weapon by which to hold the king to his word ; 
and for several years to come, they insisted upon the renewal of 
the king's pledges as the condition of each grant. 

The Confirmation of the Charters completed the work which 

Langton and the barons had begun at Runnymede. What had 

been "recognized as a usage, now became a matter of 

Work of 

Langtm written right." Henceforth, no general tax could be 
legally taken from the nation without the consent of 
its representatives. The constitutional importance of this prin- 
ciple can not be overestimated. It made the king dependent for 
his power upon the good will of his people. It made it impossible 

'Stubbs, C. H., II, p. 148. 

1297] langton's work completed 315 

for an evil king who once lost the sympathy of the nation, to 
cany out his designs by legal methods. It furnished the vantage 
ground from which the nation, in working out the problem of con- 
stitutional government, might take the next great upward step by 
establishing the responsibility of the king's ministers to the parlia- 


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FROM 1207 TO 1485 





edward'J., rzn-mn 


David I. 

Henry, Earl oflHuntingdon 

William the Lion 

David, Earl of Huntingdon 

Alkxandkk II. 

Alkxandkk III. 

1 245)- 128(5 

Margaret = Alan Isabella = Robert Bruce Ada = Henry, 

| of Galloway I of Annandale I Baron 

Robert Bruce, 
d. 1295 

Devorguilla = John Balliol 

Margaret=Eric of Margaret John Balliol, Robert Bruce, 
I Norway of Calloway k. 1292-1296 d. 1305 

Henry Hastings 
John Hastings 

Margaret, the 

Maid of Norway, 

d. 1290. 

John Comyn, 

murdered by 

Bruce, 1306 


k. 1306-1329 

A new era in English history begins with the last years of 

Edward's reign. With the determination of the internal structure 

of the government, English kings began to adopt what 

Beginning of ^} ie modern politician would call a more brilliant policy 
new era. *■ r j 

plunging the nation into a long series of extensive 
foreign wars, which in turn reacted powerfully upon all phases of 
national life, quickening national feeling, stimulating new forms 
of economic activity, and ending at last in social upheaval and 
civil strife. The remote issues of the era were also as marked as 


318 THE NEW ERA [edwabbI. 

they were varied and far-reaching. The general intellectual and 
moral awakening expressed itself, on the one hand, in a deepening 
hatred of the foreigner and a growing estrangement from the 
papacy; on the other, in the creation of a distinctive English 
literature, a stronger life in the universities, and the quickening 
interest of the people in public affairs. The rapid development of 
the economic resources of the nation stimulated the growth of 
cities and the expansion of commerce, accompanied by the disap- 
pearance of villainage and the opening of the first breach between 
"labor and capital." The creation of a national military spirit in 
contrast with the old class militarism of feudalism, born of such 
victories as Crecy and Agincourt, laid the foundation of England's 
military prestige and opened the age-long struggle for the sover- 
eignty of the seas. Parliament also rapidly assumed unity, form, 
and dignity, becoming the controlling instrument of government; 
a position which it surrendered only after the nobles had shattered 
their strength in the dynastic struggles of the fifteenth century. 
Premonitions of this new life had long since been felt by the 
nation. The people had taken a profound interest in the consti- 
tutional struggles of the thirteenth century. They had 
o/rwwfife 718 ^ e ^ ^ ne conn< i c t between the unvoiced aspirations of the 
age and the institutions which were supposed to embody 
its best thought. At a time when the temporal glories of the 
papacy were approaching zenith, when bishops had become 
worldly politicians, and monasteries had declined into rich land- 
owning institutions and love of wealth and ease had obscured their 
original purpose, the old primitive spirit of Christianity was strug- 
gling for utterance in the saintly lives of sacrifice and 
3H£r an " service of the friars, the "Salvationists" of the thir- 
teenth century. New economic and social conditions 
were crowding the cities with a helpless and dependent population. 
Sanitation was practically unknown. Surface wells and surface 
drainage were the rule. Habitations were small, dingy, and over- 
crowded. Town government was largely in the hands of the gilds 
or the communes, the members of which did not fail to provide for 
their own families by seeking high and airy quarters where they 
reared their comfortable dwellings ; but below them lay the slums, 

1224] THE FRIARS 319 

never an inconsiderable part of the medieval city, where poverty 
and vice gravitated in hopeless squalor. Neither the town organi- 
zation nor the church felt any responsibility for the condition of 
this outcast class. Beyond the isolated efforts of individuals, 
little was done to alleviate their condition. New forms of dis- 
ease also appeared, conspicuously the leprosy which had been 
brought back from the Crusades; diseases that fattened in filthy 
lanes and crowded quarters, appalling in hideonsness and fatality. 
Into these stews of wretchedness came the "Gray Brothers," the 
followers of St. Francis of Assisi, who had renounced home and 
kindred that they might care for the outcast poor. In 1224 the 
first of the Gray Friars reached England. Heretofore the monks 
had sought the silence and seclusion of the wilderness, where they 
might spend their lives in a kind of selfish devotion, undisturbed 
by the sad sights of the world which surrounded them. But the 
brothers of St. Francis sought rather the very centers of popula- 
tion, where the human hive swarmed and reeked. Hither they 
came, two by two, without scrip or purse, living like the lazzaroni 
whom they sought to help, sleeping under arches or lying on the 
church porches among the beggars, bringing with them their Gospel 
of good Samaritanism. Their chief settlement was fixed in New- 
gate, near the butchers' shambles, in a spot which went by the 
unsavory name of "Stinking Lane." 

From the first the growth of the order was rapid. Godly men 
felt the reality of religion such as this, and many hailed the oppor- 
tunity of reaching a helping hand to the suffering about 
offhe^rrder them. r ^ ne P eo P^ e recognized the genuineness of the 
new spirit that was taking hold of the church and gave 
the friars their confidence without reserve. Good Bishop 
Grosseteste of Lincoln wrote of their work to the pope: "0 that 
your holiness could see how devoutly and humbly the people run 
to hear the word of life, to confess their sins, to be instructed in 
the rules for daily life; how much profit the monks tako from imi- 
tation of them." 

With the rapid growth of the order, its usefulness extended 
into new fields. St. Francis had sought to avoid the temptations 
which had turned aside the older orders, by discouraging learn- 

320 THE NEW EEA [edwabd L 

ing among his followers as he had forbidden wealth. But the 
efforts of the brothers to care for the sick and improve the sani- 
tary conditions which surrounded the poor, led them 
Extending almost against their will to take up the study of medicine 

influence. ° r J 

and the physical sciences; while the wide popularity of 
their preaching and their constant warfare against the strange 
opinions which Crusaders had brought back from the east, com- 
pelled them to study theology and logic. Into these new fields 
they entered with the same consecrated fervor, and could soon 
boast the greatest doctors of the age. Koger Bacon, the 
precursor of the modern scientist, was of their number. Many 
became teachers in the universities, where, as at Oxford, they 
helped to mould the thought of the coming generation. They 
were also quick to see the interest of their wards, the people, in 
the great political struggles of the century, and did not hesitate to 
plunge into the strife for the Charter. It was largely due to their 
influence that Earl Simon was so well understood and supported 
by the common people. 

Side by side with the Franciscans, and hardly less famous, 
toiled the Dominicans. St. Dominic, the founder of the order,, 
had felt the shortcoming of the church in another 
team re<wh direction. He had seen the growth of heresy and un- 
belief among the higher orders, and had justly traced 
its cause to the prevailing worldliness of the church and the heart- 
less indifference of its agents to the needs of the people. He pro- 
posed to establish an order of popular preachers, who should meet 
heretic or infidel upon his own ground, and prove by devotion 
and piety that Christianity was something more than a system by 
which gorgeous bishops could be enriched or abbots fattened. The 
Dominicans reached England three years before the Franciscans, 
but heresy had never taken such hold upon the English as upon the 
people of southern France, and hence the Dominicans, the "Black 
Friars," never became as popular or as influential in England as 
the Franciscans, the Gray Friars. 

The universities also felt the new life. The gathering of poor 
scholars at Oxford swelled rapidly during the thirteenth century. 
The course of study was still meagre and narrow. Latin was the 

1238-1264] THE UNIVERSITIES 321 

language of the class room. Greek was practically unknown and 
Aristotle reached the student only through garbled translations. 
Logic was the backbone of the educational system and 
Theuniver- dialectics was largely pursued for its own sake. Ilair- 
splitting became a science, and the search for truth was 
sacrificed to the love of bandying empty words. Yet thinking men, 
like Roger Bacon, felt the barrenness of the methods in vogue, and 
urged not only a freer use of existing knowledge, but the search 
into wider fields. Student life and student thought, always rough, 
free, and hearty, was inclined to outrun the dignified pace of the 
teachers, and, often in closer contact with the people than the 
church, refused to be bound by existing traditions, readily respond- 
ing with the reckless fervor of youth to the stimulation of new and 
high ideals. Hence student influence was generally to be found on 
the side of the man who durst question the right of the feudal lord 
or the authority of the wealthy clergy. In 1238 the students of 
Oxford openly attacked the papal legate, and in 12G4 the whole 
student body turned out to join the party of Earl Simon. 

While the poor were suffering and the pious friars were grap- 
pling with the serious problems of the age, the rich were leading 

an unreal life which they stimulated by mock sentiment 
Chivalry. , J J 

and by turning serious matters into play. I he early 

Crusades had provided the wild baronage of Europe with a real 
sentiment in which they sought to realize the "ideal of Christian 
knighthood." The champion of the cross found ample scope for 
the cultivation of all the noblest traits of manhood in facing hard- 
ship and danger in defense of the poor and the oppressed, often 
to the sacrifice of life itself. The noblest ideals were set forth in 
the solemn and impressive ceremonies by which the knight was 
ushered into the duties of his order. lie bound himself to 
observe the laws of honor, to fight fairly, to protect the church, to 
defend women, and to act with courtesy to his equals and with 
deference to his superiors. But with the decline of the religious 
fervor which attended the early Crusades the vows of chivalry 
lost their significance. Its noble sentiment became mere senti- 
mentalism, which failed to gloss the heartless brutality of the 
noble. The hero became a "gentleman," who prided himself on 

322 THE NEW ERA [edward i. 

his class, and despised and abused those who were socially beneath 
him. His fine sentiments lost their meaning in the narrow self- 
ishness of a class spirit which felt no pity and recognized no duty 
toward peasant or burgher. For a time the great constitutional 
struggle of the thirteenth century furnished him with a true 
moral motive, but too often his position was determined by the 
selfish interest of the hour rather than by any true devotion to the 
cause of liberty, and if he drew near to the commons, it was 
because he needed the help of the burgher's pike or the burgher's 
purse. When the reign of Edward drew to its close the ques- 
tions which had roused men like Earl Simon were settled, and 
in the wars of the new century the knight rarely felt any 
higher motive than glory or privilege, or worse, plunder. 
Chivalry became more polished, more gorgeous, but also more 
hollow, more heartless. It sought its victories not in conflicts 
waged in defense of virtue or weakness or principle, but at 
grand tournaments, where bodies of knights or squires joined in 
combat for the purpose of displaying their skill or courage. Fre- 
quently the tournament proper was varied with the joust where 
two knights engaged each other with blunted spears, the one 
attempting to hurl the other from his horse. Such combats were 
always attended with much danger and frequently ended fatally. 
The lamented Henry II. of France lost his life as a sacrifice to the 
popular sport, and Edward I. of England, while on his eastern 
expedition, narrowly escaped paying the same forfeit in 
ofchaion," a tournament at Ohalon, long known as the "Little 


Battle of Chalon," where after a desperate struggle 
and the loss of many lives, he and his party finally came off victo- 
rious. At these bloody orgies, ladies presided and awarded the 
prizes. Kenilworth became famous as the place where Edward 
held his "Bound Table" in imitation of the imaginary glories of 
the fabled Arthur's court. Hither flocked the gay and frivolous 
worldlings of the court, the king, his knights and their ladies, 
"clad all in silk." The climax of this hollow extravagance 
was reached during the reign of Edward III. ; a fitting intro- 
duction to the era of luxury and cruelty which followed. Earlier 
kings, like Henry If,, had forbidden tournaments altogether, 


but Richard had not hesitated to license them for money. Openly 
encouraged by such kings as Edward I. and Edward III., the 
tilt-yard remained for nearly three centuries the chief amusement 
of the nobility. 

The era of foreign wars began with the attempt of Edward to 
subjugate Scotland. Ireland had already been partly subdued and 
placed under English governors. The Welsh had been 
niiwnfthe crushed and the cantreds organized into English shires 
s'l'oUand'' 1 ' lllK ^ hundreds. These early successes of Edward as well as 
his fondness for order and harmony, naturally suggested 
a single sovereignty over the entire island of Britain. The way 
was opened, as in the case of Wales, by a call for a more definite 
interpretation of the shadowy claims which English kings had from 
time to time asserted over the kings of Scotland. Edward was a 
legalist by disposition, inclined always to insist upon his technical 
rights, and without that finer sense of justice so marked in Louis 
IX. which made the rights of others ever as sacred as his own. 
Edward, moreover, was in possession of all the vast resources of the 
newly harmonized state, and, fully conscious of his strength, he was 
the last man to allow a mere question of metes and bounds to go 
long unsettled. 

In the thirteenth century the Scots were a rising people, 
(ioidel, Briton, Norse, and English were at last merging into a sin- 
gle kingdom. The relation of their kings to the English 
Ihiadoi!!^' 1 colu 'k waa necessarily intimate. They had frequently 
intermarried with the English royal house; had held 
lands south of the border as vassals of the English king, and as 
English barons had not hesitated to take part in his quarrels. 
They had also, even before the Norman Conquest, recognized in 
the English king a vague right of overlordship over the Scottish 
kingdom. Henry II. had brushed away all technical difficulties in 
the treaty of Ealaiso, by which he had compelled William the 
Lion, who was then his prisoner, to become his liegeman for Scot- 
land and all his other lands. But fifteen years later, for a pay- 
ment of 10,000 marks, Richard had restored to the King of Scots 
the border castles which Henry had retained as security, and released 
him and his heirs forever from the homage promised for Scotland. 

324 THE NEW ERA [edwakd I. 

The later English kings, however, had not regarded the matter as 
finally adjusted, and although, in the century following, the royal 
families of the two countries had remained upon more or less 
friendly terms, they had more than once raised the question of 

In 1286 Alexander III. died. His daughter Margaret had mar- 
ried Eric King of Norway, and their daughter, known as the 

"Maid of Norway," was the sole descendant of Alex- 
mcccssum, ander. The claims of the little granddaughter, also a 

Margaret, were recognized by the Scots. Edward saw 
at once the opportunity for a peaceful settlement of the unadjusted 
claims of the English crown, and proposed the marriage of Mar- 
garet to his own son, Edward of Carnarvon, then a lad about 
Margaret's age. The Scottish nobles were not averse to a union so 
much in accord with recent traditions of both kingdoms 1 and so 
promising in many mutual advantages. It was stipulated, how- 
ever, by the Scottish estates that the kingdom of Scotland should 
remain separate with its own laws and customs. These conditions 

were formally accented by Edward at Brigham. But 

The treaty of 

Brigham, unfortunately the little Maid of Norway did not sur- 


vive to reach England, and the fine plan of Edward, 
which would have brought England and Scotland under one crown 
three centuries before the time of James Stuart, was blasted in the 

A swarm of claimants for the vacant throne now sprang up. 
A definite law of succession had never been clearly established in 

Scotland, but the superior importance was generally 

The judgment . ' . , . , r . / , . -° ,, .,, J 

of Edward, recognized of claims based on descent from David, the 
earl of Huntingdon, a younger brother of William the 
Lion, and a contemporary of Henry II. and his two immediate 
successors. Unfortunately, however, the earl of Huntingdon was 
represented by three male descendants: John Balliol, Robert Bruce, 
and John Hastings. Of these John Balliol was the grandson of 
Margaret, the eldest daughter of David; John Hastings, the lord 
of Abergavenny, was the grandson of a third daughter; but Bruce 

'Edward's sister Margaret had been the wife of Alexander III. ; his 
aunt Joan the wife of Alexander II. 

1291, 1292] THE JUDGMENT OF EDWARD 325 

was the son of a second daughter and so a degree nearer to David 
than either. According to the custom of feudal inheritances, 
when the holder left daughters only, the fief was divided equally 
among them as co-heiresses. Hastings claimed that the law 
should be applied in this case, and that heirs of David's daughters 
should share the kingdom equally. Bruce and Balliol, however, 
advanced each his right to the whole kingdom; based, the one 
upon his nearer descent from David, and the other upon the fact 
that he represented the eldest line. In the absence of precedent, 
one claim was probably as valid as another. All three of the 
claimants were more English than Scotch in feeling; they had also 
borne their part in English politics, Bruce having been chief justice 
of the King's Bench. The contestants, therefore, naturally 
appealed to Edward, and in the long existing confidence which 
had prevailed between the two courts, felt no hesitation in recog- 
nizing him as overlord. In 1291 Edward invited the nobles of 
Scotland to meet him at Norham, but before he would act as arbi- 
trator he insisted upon a formal recognition of his position as 
superior lord of the Scottish realm. Accordingly he received the 
homage of the Scots, and with the aid of the court lawyers pro- 
ceeded to examine the case with care and deliberation. The 
decision was not rendered until the next year, when both Bruce 
and Hastings were set aside and the kingdom, undivided, was 
awarded to John Balliol. Balliol straightway did homage to 
Edward for the kingdom and was crowned. All parties apparently 
were satisfied with the result. 

To Edward, however, the recognition of overlordship meant 
more than a public acknowledgment of preeminence in rank. 

Arguing from the well-established relations of his own 
^jin^dictum authority in Aquitaine to his French overlord, he held 
amri! UHh that it was his right to hear appeals from the highest 

court in Scotland, and, the very first year of John Bal- 
liol's reign, when four Scottish suitors appealed to Edward against 
the decision of the Scottish courts he seized the opportunity to 
put his claim to the test, and summoned King John to appear at 
Westminster to answer the complaint of his aggrieved subjects. 
Here certainly was innovation; an application of feudal theory 

326 THE NEW EEA [edwahd 1. 

which the high-spirited Scottish nobles were by no means inclined 
to accept. And although Balliol went to Westminster and pro- 
tested in person against the usurpation of Edward, his movements 
were altogether too sluggish to satisfy the fiery spirits whom he 
had left at home. His motives were suspected, and in 1295 the 
nobles took the administration out of his hands altogether and put 
it in the hands of a commission, in some such way as the English 
nobles had assumed control of the government of Henry III. 

Edward, however, was by no means free, either to support his 
vassal king, or to intimidate his turbulent rear vassals of Scotland. 

Philip IV., a very different man from the just and 
ww^France. P ac 'fi c Louis, was now upon the throne of France; 

ambitious, treacherous, and full of guile, he only waited 
an opportunity to complete the work of Philip II., by shaking the 
English from their last hold on the Garonne. A special oppor- 
tunity for making mischief, moreover, had been offered by the 
chronic hostility of the Norman and Gascon sailors. The distinc- 
tions between lawful trade and piracy were hardly as yet under- 
stood, and the wine ships coming from Gascony to England were 
the favorite prey of the Norman ship-masters. The Cinque Ports, 
the great trading towns of southern England, naturally took the 
part of the Gascons. Reprisals were made on both sides, and in 
1293 the affair came to a head in a great sea fight in the harbor of 

St. Mahe in Brittany, in which a fleet of Normans, 

The action in -,-,,. ,„ , . •■¥■«•»'"".« 

st.Maht, Flemings, and French, engaged a fleet of English, Gas- 
cons, and Irish. The Normans and their allies werO 
completely overwhelmed, their ships sunk, and fifteen thousand 
lives sacrificed. Philip naturally was not inclined to let such a 
serious matter pass unnoticed, and at once summoned Edward as 
duke of Aquitaine to appear in the French court and answer for 
the conduct of his Gascons. Edward neglected the summons, and 
Philip declared his duchy forfeited. Ordinarily such a decision 
would mean war, but Edward, warned by the growing restlessness 
of the Scots, was not ready to plunge into a conflict with Philip. 
He, therefore, sent over his brother Edmund, the earl of Lancas- 
ter, to represent him and do what he could by negotiation. Philip 
was gracious and suave, and tricked Edmund into believing that 


all he sought was some formal recognition of his authority, 

persuading him to hand over the castles of Guienne to be held for 

forty days and then returned again. But when the forty days 

were up, Philip canceled the agreement with Edmund, poured his 

troops into the Gascon country and entered into an active alliance 

with the Scots. 

Edward could not refuse the challenge and prepared for war. 

The usual Welsh outbreaks helped to rouse popular sentiment, and 

when in 1295 Edward summoned his famous Model 

Theflrvt Parliament to consider the difficulties which confronted 
Scottish ll ar 

% ! fj} duard ' him, the nation responded with an alacrity and una- 
nimity never before known in English history; the 
burghers outdoing the nobles and the clergy in generous response 
to the king's call for money. Edmund of Lancaster was dis- 
patched to the Garonne, while Edward in person led an army into 
Scotland and summoned Balliol to appear before him. But instead 
of presenting himself, the unhappy king sent to Edward at New- 
castle a formal renunciation of the homage which he had sworn in 
1292. "The false fool," cried Edward, "if he will not come to us, 
we will go to him." Berwick fell in March. In April, Earl 
Warenne who commanded the English advance, defeated the Scots 
on the plain before Dunbar. Then followed in quick succession 
the surrender of Dunbar, Koxburgh, Edinburgh, and Stirling. 
Einally the surrender of Balliol completed the speedy and unex- 
pected triumph. Edward continued his march through the 
Lowlands, receiving the keys of the Scottish strongholds and 
admitting the nobles to homage. He made Earl Warenne guard- 
ian and then returned to England, taking with him to Westmin- 
ster the famous stone of Scone, the traditional coronation stone of 
Scottish kings. 

Edward's triumph apparently was final. Scotland lay under 
his feet, prostrate, destitute; her strongholds held by English 
garrisons, her dethroned king a captive in a foreign prison. 1 Yet 
Edward had hardly turned his attention to France when disquieting 
rumors began to reach him from his new conquest. Earl Warenne, 

1 Balliol was confined for a while in the Tower of London and then 
allowed to depart for the continent where he finally died in obscurity. 

328 THE NEW ERA [kdwabd I. 

although guardian of the realm, had turned the administration over 
to two men, Cressingham the treasurer, and Ormesby the justiciar, 

who were utterly incapable of understanding the Scot- 
f^^MeP 3 ' tisn P eo pl e ; nor was it long before the discontent 
nvu™* 1 ' aroused by their petty tyrannies passed into widespread 

revolt, and the Highlands far and near blazed with 
the fires of a bloody guerrilla warfare. The wild mountain glens 
and dreary upland moors offered a safe hiding to desperate outlaws. 
Here they gathered in ever increasing numbers, finding leaders 
among those who had felt the hand of the tyrants and lived only 
for vengeance. All other leaders, however, sank into shadow by 
the side of the famous "Wallace, whose daring and energy awed and 
terrified the English, as it inspired and heartened his own people. 
Edward was absent in Flanders. The absentee guardian of Scot- 
land roused himself and entering the country with a great army 

approached Stirling. At Cambnskenneth a long bridge 
neth, septcm- spanned the Forth, so narrow that onlv two mounted 

bCV 1297 

men could cross it abreast. Beyond the bridge a range 
of low hills reached almost to the water's edge. It was just such 
a spot as Wallace and his desperate band of outlaws knew how to 
make the most of. The southern army approached the bridge and 
began the long and tedious crossing. Five thousand men under 
the hated Cressingham were already on the other bank when the 
Scots led by Wallace and Sir Andrew Murray rushed upon them. 
The slaughter was frightful; Cressingham was slain and his fol- 
lowers butchered almost to a man. The main body of the English 
retired. The news of the victory electrified the prostrate nation; 
the lukewarm and the cautious hesitated no longer; everywhere 
the Scots rose and the English garrisons fled for their lives. Scot- 
land was now again in the hands of her own people, and a provi- 
sional government was organized under Wallace and Murray, who 
assumed the title of "Generals of the Army of the Kingdom of 
Scotland and Guardians of the Realm for King John." 

Edward saw that if lie would save Scotland, he must return at 
once, and strangely enough Philip consented to a truce and left 
Edward free to devote all his splendid energy and skill to the 
recovery of Scotland. Wallace's tactics were simple and would 

1298] FALKIRK 329 

hav,e succeeded, had he dealt with a less able general. The Low- 
lands were harried by bis orders and nothing was left that might 
feed an invading army. The English were sore put to 
ram*ai )1 n'nf ** ^ or ^ 00 ^» anc * a disgraceful retreat, which must have 
Edward, ma. Deen fi na ] ? seemed unavoidable, when Edward by 
one of those brilliant movements which mark the great 
general, suddenly confronted Wallace in Falkirk wood and com- 
pelled him to fight against his will. 

The battle is interesting because it illustrates the rapid progress 
which the English were making in the art of war, soon to give 
them such superiority in the approaching struggle with 
FaHnrfr, France. Wallace had hardly any cavalry, for the Scot- 
tish nobles had not taken kindly to the man of the 
people. They suspected his motives also and feared the results of 
his rapid successes. Wallace, therefore, was compelled to depend 
almost altogether upon his pikemen. These, however, he drew 
up with real skill behind a marsh, so arranged that they formed 
four squares, or circles rather, connected by a line of archers. In 
the rear he posted his few horsemen. Edward saw that his heavy 
armed knights were useless against such a formation, and resorted 
to the tactics which his great ancestor had used at Hastings, and 
with similar success. The English had of late begun to develop 
the long bow, which in the Welsh wars of Edward had proved its 
superiority to the old short bow or the cross bow. The archer, by 
the greater length of the bow and weight of his arrow, was able to 
throw the entire strength of his body into the shaft, drawing the 
bolt to the ear instead of the breast, and sending it with such 
force that it could pierce armor or shield. Edward had brought 
with him a body of archers skilled in the use of this terrible 
weapon. He now ordered them into action and had them concen- 
trate their fire upon the Scottish squares. The pikemen, mad- 
dened by the swiftly flying shafts but unable to protect them- 
selves by reason of their close formation, were soon thrown into 
confusion ; then a well-timed charge of the English cavalry into 
the struggling mass of men and tall spears, and Falkirk was won. 
Wallace's power melted away as rapidly as it had arisen. He 
escaped from Falkirk to spend the next six years in hiding ; but 

330 THE NEW ERA [ei.ward L 

was finally betrayed by the Scots themselves, delivered over to 
Edward and put to death as a traitor. The people, however, 

would not forget him. He became the hero of the 
of Wallace's struggle for independence. Even the well-earned 

fame of the younger Bruce paled before the favor- 
ite of legend and song, the first among Scottish national 

Althongh Wallace had been routed and his power dispelled, it 
took Edward six years to recover the lost ground. He had made 

an alliance with Flanders against France, but the alli- 
?i!>noYthe Ua ' ance P rove( l expensive and unsatisfactory. The money 
Famirk after wn i° n the English estates had so generously voted him 

in 1295 had been expended, and yet had secured no 
adequate results. The towns were restless under later exactions; 
the church disobedient and the barons defiant. The pope, Boni- 
face VIII., also embarrassed the king by putting forth a claim as 
overlord of Scotland and forbade him to interfere further with the 
Scots. New leaders also came forward to carry on the work of 
Wallace. In 1302 John Comyn, a nephew of Balliol, supported by 
the bishop of St. Andrews, won the important battle of Roslin and 
for the moment delivered Scotland north of the Forth. Ordinary 
difficulties, however, did not discourage Edward. In 1301 he had 
again confirmed the charters and in return secured the promise of 
the English barons to defend his claim to Scotland against the 
threatened intervention of the pope. But fortunately the rival 
claim of Boniface was never brought to an issue; nor is it likely 
that he meant to do more than assert his position as guardian 
of the peace of Europe. At all events he was soon able to give 
proof of the genuineness of his desire for peace by securing an 
agreement between Edward and Philip, in accordance with which 
Philip restored Gascony, and Edward, whose first wife had died in 
1200, married Philip's sister; the Prince of Wales was also 
betrothed to Philip's daughter Isabella. By this double marriage 
it was hoped to assure the friendly relations of the two courts for 
many years to come; a fatuous hope, for it was through the mar- 
riage of Prince Edward and Isabella that English kings came 
subsequently to lay claim to the throne of France. 

1304-1307] RISING OF BRUCE 331 

The Scottish barons, now that they were deserted by Philip, 

felt the uselessness of continuing the struggle. At Dumfries, 

Comyn, who had been acting as King John's regent, 

Endpf armed me t Edward and agreed to a peace on condition that 
restxtance ~ x 

in Scotland, the Scottish barons should not be deprived of their 

1804. L 

lands, but should be allowed to redeem them by the 
payment of a fine. In 1304 Stirling fell and all armed resistance 
ceased. In the meantime Edward was maturing plans for the 
settlement of the kingdom, and a really good scheme was struck 
out. But he was to meet the common experience of most ambitions 
sovereigns who attempt to foist a foreign government upon a high- 
spirited and warlike people against their will. The temporary 
successes of Wallace, followed by the glorious but ineffectual strug- 
gle carried on by Andrew Murray and John Comyn, had appealed 
powerfully to national sentiment and the people only waited for a 
new leader. 

This leader appeared in the young Robert Bruce, grandson of 
that Robert Bruce who had been Balliol's rival. Hitherto he had 

been on the English side and high in favor with Edward, 

iumihj of w j 10 ] iac i trusted him and consulted him upon the reor- 
Bruce, 1306. _ l 

ganization of the country. But in 130(5 in an interview 

at Dumfries with Comyn who was heir to Balliol's claims, hot 

words had arisen between the two men, swords had been drawn, and 

Comyn was slain. Bruce, an outlaw and a murderer, had then lied 

to the mountains of Galloway, and, apparently in self-defense, had 

raised the standard of revolt. In March 130G he was able to make 

his way to Scone and secure a coronation. 

Edward heard of the new revolt, and roused himself to crush 

it. Apparently it was not a very serious matter, and Aymer de 

Valence, Edward's nephew, easily drove Bruce into the 

The hwtcam- Western islands for refuge. But Edward was now well 

llil Hill III O 

f"','-'""'' gone in years, and infirmity was fast creeping upon him. 
His wrath was as terrible to onlookers as ever; but the 
lightnings had lost their power to blast, lie hurried on aftor his 
armies, but crippled by his years he was no match for the young 
and energetic Bruce whose rapid movements easily eluded the pur- 
suit of the kind's lieutenants and enabled him to striko again 


where least expected. Edward fumed and stormed and vented his 
wrath upon the luckless Scottish nobles who fell into his power. 
They were put to death without mercy; their estates confiscated 
and turned over to Englishmen. The Countess of Buchan, who 
had placed the crown upon Brnce's head, was put in an iron cage 
and hung from the walls of Berwick castle. The efforts of 
Edward, however, only added fuel to the insurrection. The war 
took on more and more the character of a national rising, and in 

1307 Bruce was able to take the field at the head of a 
ward, July considerable force. The old king, broken by fifty years 

of service, rose from his bed to put himself at the head 
of his troops as of yore; but the effort was too much for his fail- 
ing strength. He died at Burgh-on-the-Sands, July 7, 1307. 

So died the great Edward; lawgiver, statesman, soldier, and 
king. The closing years of his long and brilliant reign, clouded by 

his unfortunate attempt to make good his lordship over 
Edward's Scotland, must not obscure the real greatness of the 

man or the success of his fifty years of administration. 
His father had made a pitiful failure and had been saved from utter 
ruin only by the cool determination of the barons and the wise 
leadership of the son. When Henry died all strife had ended, and 
Edward, as no Norman or Plantagenet before him, succeeded to a 
peaceful and united realm. Of this harmony he made the most. 
He fully gra*sped the elements of the problem before him ; accepted 
the results of the barons' wars; kept himself in touch with the 
national sentiment of the age, and sought not to check, but to 
direct the efforts by which the nation was seeking to secure better 
laws and a wiser service. Once he seemed to waver in his allegi- 
ance to the cause of constitutional government, when for the 
moment the pressure of unsuccessful foreign war had blinded him 
to the possible results of his actions; but it is this very incident, 
connected with the names of Bigod and Bohun, that reveals the 
real greatness of Edward, — the infinite distance which separates 
him from John Lackland or Henry III. for Edward was man 
enough, when once he saw his mistake, to confess his error and 
right the wrong. The attempt to conquer Scotland, however, was 
more than a mistake of policy; it was a political crime, and bit- 



terly Edward paid the penalty in the humiliation of failure which 
shadowed his last days and in the fatal debt with which he fettered 
the reign of his unfortunate son. Yet the attempt to conquer the 
northern kingdom was not the outcome of mere vulgar hunger for 
military glory; Edward simply tried to make real and practical his 
right as overlord, just as every other great national king in the 
west was then doing. It is remarkable, however, that one who 
had such keen appreciation of the significance of national senti- 
ment in England, should have so little perception of its strength 
in other lands. 


Philip III., d. 1285. 
Philip IV. 




Rudolph of Haps- 

burpr, d. 1291. 
Adolphus, d. 1398. 


Alphonso X. , the Wise, 

d. 1384. 
Sancho IV., the Great, 

d. 1395. 
Ferdinand IV. 


Alexander III., d. 

John Balliol, k. 

Robert I., k. 1306. 


Gregory X., 1271-1276. 
Nicolas III., 1277-1281. 
Martin IV., 1281-1285. 
Honorius IV., 1285-1289. 
Nicolas IV., 1289-1292. 
Boniface, VIII., 1294-1303. 
Benedict XI., 1303-1305. 
Clement V., 1305. 


Robert Kilwardby, 1273- 

John Peckham. 1279-1292. 
Robert Winchelsey, 1294. 


(Not princes) 
Roger Bacon, d. 1272. 
Dante Alighieri, b. 1265, d. 

William Wallace, b. 1274(?) 

d. 1305. 
Marco Polo, b. 1354, d. 1324. 



EDWARD II., 13K-1327 


Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, 
brother of Edward I. 


I I 

Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, Henry, Earl of Lancaster, 

d. 1322 d. 1345 

Henry, first Duke of Lancastei 

Blanche m. John of Gaunt, 
fourth sou of Edward III. 

The new king, Edward of Carnarvon, was a failure from the 
first. He was frivolous, unprincipled, and utterly incapable of 

handling the questions which his father's death had left 
menewhing unse Mled. He tied himself to a contemptible favorite 
PiersGavea- f hj g boyhood, a Gascon by the name of Piers Gaveston, 

who encouraged him in dissipation and costly extrav- 
agance, and used his influence for his own ends. The foreign 
birth of Gaveston, his rapid elevation, his worthlessness, roused 
the enmity of the baronage, and at once created a powerful anti- 
administration party among the nobility as in the days of the for- 
eign favorites of Henry III. 

The most bitter and dangerous opponent of Gaveston was the 
king's cousin, Thomas Earl of Lancaster, the son of Edmund 

Crouchback, the once titular king of Sicily. Earl 
Lmumtrf'* Thomas held the lordship of five earldoms, controlled 
uavcntim 1 enormous wealth, and possessed great personal influence. 

He had resented the insolent ways of the upstart Gaves- 
ton and had smarted under the lashing of his sharp tongue; for 
Gaveston rather prided himself on his wit, and took a silly delight 
in fixing various nicknames upon the prominent members of the 



court. Thus Lancaster he had dubbed "The Hog;" Pembroke, 
"Joseph the Jew;" Gloucester, "The Cuckoo;" and Warwick, 
"The Black Dog of Arden." It was fine fun no doubt for Gaves- 
ton and his admirers, but dangerous. 

In 1308 Edward returned from France with his bride Isabella, 

and held the ceremony of coronation with great magnificence. He 

made the usual promises to maintain the customs of the 

First fall of * . _ , . 

Gnt'eaton, realm and respect its laws. But the frivolous and 


insincere nature of the king was so well understood, and 
the continued affront of Gaveston's presence, his reckless insolence, 
was such a constant challenge to the barons, that the most sanguine 
could not fail to see that trouble was at hand ; nor was it long 
before the storm broke. At a great council held soon after the 
coronation, the barons insisted upon the expulsion of the favorite 
from the kingdom, and Edward was forced to yield. 

The barons, however, had only begun their work. Earl 
Thomas imagined that he was destined to play the role of a second 

Montfort; and the next year, in a full parliament in 
a^ar&mner wn i cn the commons were represented, he persuaded the 

Estates to refuse to vote any supplies, unless the king' 
consented to redress certain grievances, as unjust seizures of 
provisions by the king's officers under the name of purveyance, 
excessive duties on wines, cloth, and other imports, irregular 
coinage, and similar abuses, particularly grievous to the merchant 
classes. The "king had banished Gaveston as he had agreed, but 
he had sent him off loaded with gifts to the governorship of 
Ireland. He now offered to grant the reforms provided the favor- 
ite might be allowed to return to the kingdom. The barons, how- 
ever, were in no mood to be gracious and refused their consent. 
Then Edward undertook to gain his point by coaxing, wheedling, 
and bribery, and although the body of the barons were still stub- 
born, thinking he had support enough to act without their consent, 
he recalled his man. It was a fatal step for both king and 

The king again drifted into his old ways of living; and Gaves- 
ton, looking upon his recall as a triumph, became more irritating 
than ever. When the barons assembled the next year, they came 


with the grim determination to take the government out of the 
hands of the king who could so soon forget his promises. A com- 
mittee of administration was appointed of twenty-one barons, 
known as "Lords Ordainers;" including, beside the 
Gav^tm 11 '^ archbishop Winchelsey, Lancaster, Pembroke, War- 
wick, and Gloucester; all of whom had felt the lash 
of Gaveston's tongue, and with the exception of Winchelsey, were 
moved more by hatred of the favorite than by any intel- 

The "Lards 

ordainers," ligent devotion to the cause of pure government. They 
were specially commissioned to reform existing abuses 
and to regulate the king's household. The report of the Lords 
Ordainers, known as the "Ordinances," consisted of forty-one 
articles, and dealt with current abuses, some of which were as old 
as Magna Charta. Of chief importance, however, were the excess- 
ive duties which had prevailed since the beginning of the Scot- 
tish wars. The Lord's Ordainers fixed the duties of the year 
1275 as standard. They directed also that Gaveston be per- 
manently banished, and forbade the king to appoint ministers, 
go to war, or leave the kingdom without the approval of the 

Edward, cowed and humbled, signed the Ordinances, but 
entreated the barons to save his "brother Piers." He then went 
north, where the rising power of Bruce had long since 
nances demanded attention. Here he no sooner found him- 

self out from under the shadow of the "Lords Ordain- 
ers, than he defied the Ordinances and called his favorite to his 
side. This new evidence of the bad faith of the king was too 
much for the temper of the barons. They appealed at 
Qaoafim? once ^° arms > took Gaveston at Scarborough and sent 
him to AVallingford under the pledge of the earl of 
Pembroke to present him at the meeting of parliament. But 
such fiery spirits as Warwick, Lancaster, Hereford, and Arundel, 
were too impatient to await a trial, and had the favorite seized on 
the way to Wallingford and hurried off to Warwick Castle. Here 
he was brought into the presence of his foes and his fate decided. 
It would not do to let the fox go, they said; they would only have 
to hunt him again. 

1311-1313] • SUCCESSES OF BRUCE 337 

The murder of Gaveston was prophetic of the era at hand. It 
was a new thing for politicians to batcher their fallen rivals. 

From this time until the reign of Henry VII., politics 
character becomes more and more a bloody trade. Feuds were 
vomica** 11 started which were not to be allayed until many of the 

finest families of England had perished. It was the hot 
breath of the new era; the natural effect of continual war, 
of the factitious life bred of chivalry, and of the decay of per- 
sonal piety. The unhappy king was powerless to punish; he 
had to content himself with receiving the feigned submission 
of the men who had slain his favorite, and proclaim a general 

The troubles of Edward with his barons, the generally crip- 
pled condition of the government, will explain why so little had yet 

been done to repress Bruce. The great strongholds of 
bFiwT^A tDe Low l an ds, Roxburgh, Linlithgow, Perth, Edinburgh, 
f oTi3r? Vmr and Stirnn g> sti11 remained in English hands, but Bruce 

was everywhere master of the open country. Moreover, 
as the weakness of the English became more apparent, the hopes 
of the Scots rose correspondingly; their daring also increased to 
such an extent that they answered Edward's invasion of 1311 by a 
counter raid into the northern counties of England, and in 1312 
Bruce began the systematic reduction of the English strongholds. 
It was a great year in Scottish story. In January Bruce car- 
ried the battlements of Perth by assault; Roxburgh surrendered 
in March ; seven days later, Randolph, a son of Bruce's sister, 
led a band of thirty men up the frowning cliff on whose crest 
rises the huge keep of Edinburgh Castle, scaled its ramparts, and 
took tho garrison by surprise, — one of the most brilliant and dar- 
ing enterprises of all history. A brilliant strategy at the same 
time secured Linlithgow. A countryman, with the good Scotch 
name of Binnie, approached the gates on a bright morning with an 
innocent looking load of hay. Under the portcullis the load 
stopped and a band of sturdy Scotchmen, sword in hand, springing 
out from under the hay, held the gate until their comrades could 
rush in and overpower the garrison. By the opening of the next 
year, only Stirling held out. The garrison were sore pressed and 




Philip Mowbray, the governor, agreed to surrender, if they were 
not relieved before June 24, 1314. 

Edward had time enough to relieve the town and was in fact 
deeply stirred by the new responsibility which the conditions 

accepted by Mowbray imposed upon him. But he was 
relieve stir- no longer his own master. The barons were not 

inclined to trust him with a large army. The months of 

grace slipped by. The king urged and pleaded. 

Still Lancaster and 
his men held 
aloof; yet as 
the last days 
they were 
shamed out of 
their sulky 
mood and al- 
lowed Edward 
to act. He 
came within 
sight of Stirl- 
ing on the 23d 
of June, one 
day before the 
time fixed for 
Bruce had 
order to 




burn, 1314, 

drawn up his men behind the Bannockburn 
command the roads to Stirling. His position 

great natural strength. A marsh protected his right 
wing, while his left was covered by low ground, filled 
here and there with pools of water. Wherever there 
was a chance for horsemen to secure a footing, he had also dug 
pits and concealed them with hurdles. The formation of Bruce 
was similar to that adopted by Wallace at Falkirk, but back of his 
bristling circles he had a powerful body of cavalry in reserve. For 

1314] BANNOCKBURN 339 

in the seven years which had followed the death of Edward I., Brace 
had won to his side all the discontented elements of the population, 
and the younger nobility in particular had rallied to his support. 
The English commanders showed little skill in marshalling their 
men. The men showed little confidence in their leaders. Edward 
opened the battle by sending forward his archers; his plan being 
first to riddle the Scottish array, and then hurl forward his heavy 
cavalry as his father had done at Falkirk. But unfortunately he 
allowed the archers to advance so far that the English horse could 
not support them, and a well-timed charge by Brace's horse from 
the flank swept them from the field. Edward then sent forward 
his horse, but the Scottish knights had recovered their position and 
the English knights found only the dense array of spearmen to 
receive them. In vain they hurled themselves upon the forest of 
pikes. Their splendid courage only increased the confusion and 
slaughter. Then suddenly, appearing above the high ground in the 
rear of the Scots, the English caught the glitter of arms and the 
waving of banners of a second army approaching. It was only 
the camp followers of Bruce, his sutlers and cattle herders, 
tricked out. for the occasion, but the sight was too much for the 
shattered nerves of the English leaders. They fully believed that 
a second army was about to enter the field in support of the 
Scots, and thought only of flight. The Scottish horse dashed 
in among the mass of struggling fugitives and began a ruthless 
slaughter. The earl of Gloucester was slain; Hereford was taken 
at Both well, and the king with great difficulty got away to Dun- 
bar, and finally to Berwick. 

Edward had left many of his barons and knights on the field of 

Bannockburn; yet for the moment ho talked wildly of summoning 

a new army and renewing the war. It was evident to 

''J','!!',* 1 !''','** Edward's advisers, however, that the country was 

i)J LUC oCOtoi ' ' * 

utterly disheartened; that no one had confidence either 
in the king's ability or his courage, and that a second attempt 
would only invite fresh disaster. Yet no one dared to propose 
peace while the disgrace of Bannockburn rankled in the public 
mind. The king also was obstinate ill his determination to regard 
Bruce as a rebel, and persisted in refusing to listen to any of his 


overtures. Bruce on his part fully appreciated the significance of 
his victory, and was more than ever determined to compel the 
English to recognize the independence which he had now won. 
He had already seized the Isle of Man and in 1315 
Attempt 6f allowed his brother David to enter upon the ill-starred 

Scots in r 

i3i5 and ' attempt to wrest Ireland from the English. In 1316 
Bruce himself went over to assist his brother, but soon 
became satisfied that the place to strike England successfully was 
not in Ireland but upon his own border. Soon after his return, 
therefore, . he began the systematic harrying of the northern 
shires. The capture of Berwick opened the eastern highway into 
England, and every harvest time saw the Scots in the saddle, 
and the English farmers fleeing for their lives ; their hay ricks and 
granaries going up in flames; their cattle gracing the homeward 
march of the Scots. In a single raid the Scots burned Scarborough, 
Northallerton, Boroughbridge, and Skipton. In 1319 the York- 
shire farmers, led by their priests in their white surplices, attempted 
to make a stand at Myton, but the simple peasantry fled at the 
first rush of Eandolph's men-at-arms. They were cut down like 
sheep. So many of the clergy were slain that the bat- 
af l M C tm'^ er ^ e or rat ^ er massacre was known as the "Chapter of 
Myton." Still Edward refused to recognize Eobert 
Bruce as king of Scotland. In 1322 he again attempted to invade 
the country but only to bring the Scots to the gates of York for 
his pains. It was more than ever evident that nothing was to be 
gained by further war, and in 1323 Edward prudently determined 
to unload part of his trouble by giving peace to the northern bor- 
ders. The truce was to last thirteen years, Bruce in the mean- 
time to take the title of king. But upon the accession of 
Edward III., four years later, Bruce seized the opportunity to 
force upon England a full recognition of his claims and the accept- 
ance of a permanent peace. The treaty was signed at 
NorOutmih Northampton in 1328. England formally recognized 
Bruce as king of Scotland and renounced all claims to 
the Scottish overlordship. So at last, for the time, ended the strug- 
gle for Scottish independencer It had cost much ; but it was worth 
it all. The Scottish nation had come out of the fires a great peo- 

1314-1318] THOMAS OF LANCASTER 341 

pie. They had learned self-reliance; they had learned to think and 
act for themselves; they had learned that they were Scotchmen. 
Above all they had received a priceless heritage in the memory of 
great names and heroic deeds, the true soil of patriotism. 

Edward in the meantime was steadily sinking in the pit of his 
own digging. He had fled from Bannockburn with a troop of 
furious Scotchmen at his heels, and a brave and warlike 
Edwardit people could not forgive their king for missing this rare 
chance of dying like a hero. Even the royal title could 
no longer impart dignity to a character so contemptible. Lancas- 
ter became the dominant spirit both at the council board and in 
the army. lie removed old ministers and appointed new ones at 
will. He fixed an allowance for the king's expenses and' deter- 
mined his personal friends. He was commander-in-chief of the 
army. He became president of the council. But unfortunately 
he proved as incompetent in administration as he had been unscru- 
pulous and violent in opposition. The baronage would not endure 
his despotic ways; they broke up into rival factions, and turning 
their arms against each other, left the Scots to plunder and ravage 
the north as they pleased. A serious failure of the harvest added 
to the distress caused by domestic anarchy and foreign war, and 
the people were not slow to charge the government with their 
misfortunes. Men whispered that Earl Thomas had entered into 
a secret league with the Scots and had agreed for a price not to 
molest the enemy in the plunder of English fields and the slaughter 
of English burghers. In their despair the hearts of the people 
turned again to their young king. Affairs had gone better when 
he was left free to bring whom he would into his council chamber. 
Even Gaveston had managed things better than this. So the bal- 
ance began to shift again and Edward's chance of once more con- 
trolling his government began to mend. AVith the fall 
of Berwick and the failure of the attempt to recover it 
the next year, only the poor shreds of Thomas's former influence 

Two new men now became prominent among the rival factions 
of the baronage and, by making the cause of the despised king their 
own, secured a marked advantage over their fellows. These men 


were the Despensers, father and son. Unlike the fallen Gaveston, 
they represented one of the fine old Norman English families of 

the baronage, which for generations had been closely 
T e eB T identified with the political history of the country. 

Hugh le Despenser the elder was the son of the Hugh le 
Despenser who had been justiciar under Earl Simon and had 
fallen by his side at Evesham. The son had regained the royal 
confidence during the reign of Edward I., and had occupied an 
important place among his ministers; he had since adhered to the 
second Edward and had supported him heretofore through all his 
troubles. Earl Thomas hated the man and held him as his per- 
sonal enemy, while the barons affected to regard him as a traitor 
to their cause. The son, Hugh le Despenser the third, was nearer 
the king's age; ambitious, avaricious, and not overscrupulous as to 
the means employed to gain his ends. He had married a sister of 
the earl of Gloucester, and after his death at Bannockburn had come 
in for a third of his estates, becoming thus by right of his wife one 
of the richest lords of England. In the new government organized 
after the fall of Berwick, he had been made chamberlain, and was 
thus brought into direct personal relations to the king, nor had 
he hesitated to take advantage of the enforced loneliness and iso- 
lation of the unhappy man to worm his way into the place of con- 
fidence once held by the fallen Gaveston. 

Of the unscrupulous greed of the Despensers there can be little 
doubt. It is not unlikely, however, that some of the principles 

adopted by the old popular party of Earl Simon's day 
theDaqiem- had descended with the family traditions, and that the 

CVH 1821* 

later Despensers justified their ambitions, to themselves 
at least, in the avowed purpose of securing a more distinct recog- 
nition of the political rights of the nation as a whole, by over- 
throwing the personal rule of Earl Thomas and setting up in its 
stead a more direct control of the royal council by the parliament. 
At all events some of the maxims ascribed to the younger Hugh 
reveal a grasp of the principles of constitutional government far 
in advance of his age. One element, however, the Despensers had 
not fully considered; and that was the latent hostility of the nation 
to the royal favorite, in whatsoever guise he might appear. Earl 

1321, 1322] THE FALL OF EARL THOMAS 343 

Thomas and his friends, therefore, found little difficulty in appeal- 
ing to this deep-seated prejudice, and persuaded even the luke- 
warm that a new Gaveston had arisen in the younger Hugh. So 
great had become the unpopularity of the pair that in the parlia- 
ment of 1321 almost the entire baronage turned upon the favor- 
ites; and the lords, "peers of the realm" as they had begun to call 
themselves, passed a formal sentence, decreeing the Despenser 
estates forfeited and banishing the Despensers from the land. 

The triumph of Thomas was as brief as the reverse was fatal. 

An insult offered to the queen by Lady Badlesmere, gave the king 

a pretext for raising an army. The barons joined him, 

Earl Thomas, and Thomas, who had no love to spare on the Badles- 


meres, held aloof. But the king finding himself at the 
head of an army at last, with that energy which even the most 
contemptible of.tb^fi Plantagenet race were capable of displaying at 
times, turned upon the friends of Thomas and proceeded to avenge 
the fall of the Despensers. The border castles of Hereford, 
Audley, and D'Amory were marked for destruction. Thomas now 
saw his mistake, and summoning his followers, "the good lords," 
at Doncaster, prepared for open war. The king, however, had 
secured the first move in the game, and Thomas with all his energy 
could not regain his advantage. At Boroughbridge he was fairly 
brought to bay, and in the battle which followed, his little army 

was routed and himself taken. Four days later, he was 
Thomiwof * tried in his own castle of Pontefract, condemned as a 
Ma^ch^P traitor » and at once P ut to death. "So the blood of 

Gaveston was avenged, and the tide of savage cruelty 
began to flow in a broader stream." Thirty of Lancaster's adher- 
ents were also executed, and many more were imprisoned, while a 
vast wealth in the form of fines and forfeitures was gathered from 
those whom obscurity or family influence saved from the fate of 
the leaders. Earl Thomas soon became a popular hero. With 
characteristic inconsistency the people, forgetting his blunders and 
his despotism, lamented Boroughbridge as a second Evesham, and 
Thomas as a second Montfort. The usual miracles were reported 
from his tomb and his name became a watchword of liberty. 

Six weeks after Boroughbridge, Edward held a parliament at 


York, and at once secured the revocation of the Ordinances and a 
formal declaration of the theory of constitutional government 

toward which all these struggles were tending. By this 
mmtofYofk, statement, all "matters to be settled for the estate of 

the king and his heirs, and for the estate of the realm 
and of the people were to be treated, accorded, and established in 
parliaments by the king, and by the consent of the prelates, earls 
and barons, and commonalty of the realm, according as had 
hitherto been accustomed;" 1 the government must not again be 
put into the hands of an irresponsible commission as in 1311. 

The Despensers were now supreme; they had sought to win the 
commons by recognizing their right as a constituent part of the 
national assembly, denying for all time the right of an oligarchy of 
the great nobles to rule England, and the parliament had 
responded by reversing the hostile acts which had been passed by 
the lords at the instigation of Lancaster and Hereford. Yet the 
unfortunate word "favorite" clung to the Despensers; the people 
saw them fattening on the estates of the slaughtered lords, and 
they could not forget. 

The king, however, was now without a rival. Men might 
league secretly with the Scots, as did the earl of Carlisle, but they 

durst not openly brave the king and his council. 
fidi^a/a Earl Thomas had left his brother Henry as his heir, 
plotter. but the king, by refusing to confer upon him the 

Lancastrian estates, had left him, for the time at least, a political 
cipher. But there was one whom neither the king nor the 
Despensers had taken into their calculations, the French queen 
of Edward, Isabella. With all his faults Edward had not been 
an unkind husband; but the close relationship of the queen to 
Lancastor had forbidden the fullest confidence between the royal 
pair. Isabella, moreover, hated the king's ministers, and soon 
became the center of a widely extended intrigue. It is not likely 
that the queen at this time had consciously determined upon 
treason. She found herself the center of a group of inferior men, 
who saw their ambitions balked by the fall of Lancaster and their 
one chance of some day becoming bishops or ministers of state 

1 Tasvvell-Langmead, p. 255. 


wane before the continued prosperity of the Despensers, and, stung 
by her husband's lack of confidence, piqued by the successes of 
the men whom she hated, and puffed up by the flattery of the 
creatures who fawned about her, she accepted the role of chief 
plotter and soon became involved in the sad intrigue, which has so 
deservedly blackened her name for all time. 

In 1322 Isabella's brother, Philip V. of France, died and the 

new king Charles IV., also a brother, summoned Edward in 

accordance with the custom of the feudal age to come 

f?«iepM r *° France and do homage for the fiefs of Ponthieu * and 

France Gascony. But the Despensers, conscious of their 

growing unpopularity, were afraid to allow Edward to 
leave the kingdom. For two years negotiations dragged on, 
Edward seeking to avoid giving offense to his powerful brother-in- 
law, and the enemies of the Despensers bringing all influence to 
bear upon Charles to prevent a compromise. Finally a per- 
emptory summons was sent by the French king, accom- 
panied by a threat of forfeiture in case of longer 
delay. This summons was nothing less than an ultimatum, 
as the modern politician would call it, that is, a threat of war. 
Then Edward in sore despair sent over his queen to plead his 
cause at the French court. She parted with him on good 
terms, and at the French court presented his cause with such 
apparent success, that Charles agreed to allow her son Prince 
Edward to represent his father, and to make over the provinces to 
him in the king's stead. 

The unhappy king had fallen into a most cunningly devised 
trap. The young prince had hardly reached France, when all 
disguise was thrown off by the queen and she openly 
rtfkTzsnbeita J omec l the king's bitterest enemies. The most danger- 
ous of these was Roger Mortimer, the lord of Wigmore, 
an old friend of Lancaster, who had recently escaped from the 
Tower and now found at the French court ample opportunity for 
satisfying his desire for revenge. He won an unbounded influence 
over the queen's mind, and used it to the undoing of the king. 

1 For origin of Plantagenet claims to Ponthieu, see Stubbs, Early 
Plantagenets, p. 243, also below p. 364. 


The young Edward, a mere lad of fourteen, was taught that his duty 
to his father demanded him to break the power of the Despensers. 
Even the king's brother, Edmund of Kent, was induced to join the 
conspirators. The plotting at last became so open, and the scan- 
dal so flagrant, that Charles out of self-respect was compelled to 
drive Mortimer and the queen from the court. They found a more 
congenial atmosphere at the court of Hainault, whose count was 
not above sharing in the profit of the proposed invasion, and 
readily furnished men and ships, while the Italian bankers fur- 
nished money. 

Edward knew what was going on but was helpless to defend 
himself from the threatened blow. Parliament met, but refused 

to act. Military musters were ordered but the people 
Landing of refused to assemble. As long as the Despensers were 
tember^iiwi 1 ?' retained in power, no one would support the king. 

In September 1326, Isabella landed in Suffolk with 
her foreign army and at once proclaimed her mission as the 
"avenger of Lancaster and the sworn foe of the favorites." 
Edward, who was in London at the time, called upon the citizens 
for help; but no man would draw sword in the cause of the 
hated ministers. He then fled westward seeking help among the 
Despenser lands. The Londoners rose behind him and murdered 
the unfortunate bishop of Exeter, the treasurer, who was regarded 
as a creature of the Despensers. Archbishop Reynolds sought to 
make the best terms he could with the queen. 

The earls, the bishops, Henry of Lancaster, the king's half- 
brothers, all, almost to a man, now went over to the queen. The 

king fled to Gloucester, then to Wales, whence he 
D&memer^ sou g nt to pass into Ireland. On October 26, the queen 

reached Bristol; here she took the elder Despenser, 
now earl of Winchester, and hanged him forthwith. The lords 
in her train declared Prince Edward "Guardian of the King- 
dom," and in his name summoned a parliament. In the mean- 
time the queen continued to make havoc among her husband's 
friends and advisers. The young Despenser was taken with the 
king on November 16, and on the 24th was hanged, drawn, and 
quartered; the king was brought to Kenilworth for safe keeping. 


The reign of Edward II. was now ended. The parliament 
which the lords had summoned in the name of Prince Edward met 
at Westminster January 7, 1327. There were those 
agate* to whom it seemed that the matter had gone far enough, 

and that now the Despensers had been struck down, the 
king, harmless enough in himself, might be left to continue his 
reign. But Mortimer, the dark lord of Wigmore, knowing that 
such crime as his could never be forgiven, and that so long as the 
king remained even nominally in power, his own head could never be 
safe upon his shoulders, used all his influence to secure an imme- 
diate deposition. What should come after deposition, had been also 
fully determined no doubt; but this for the time he kept to him- 
self. In the presence of the armed bands which he had brought 
with him to the parliament and with the clamor of the London 
mob rising without, the courage of the few friends of the fallen 
king, who may have found their way to Westminster, melted, and 
no voice was raised in his defense. On the other hand the high- 
est dignitaries of the church so far forgot themselves as to spread 
the mantle of their authority over the shameful plot. Reynolds, 
the archbishop of Canterbury, declared that the voice of God spoke 
in the clamor of the people. Bishop Orleton declared that the life 
of the queen would not be safe if the king were released. Bishop 
Stratford of Winchester presented the series of articles which 
were to serve as a basis for formal abdication, declaring: first that 
the king was incompetent and throughout his reign had put 
himself in the power of evil counsellors, and had proved him- 
self unable to distinguish "good from evil," and when the great 
men of the realm had called upon him to remedy the existing evil, 
he had obstinately rejected their counsel; second, he had spent his 
time in labors unseemly for a king and had neglected the business 
of the kingdom ; third, by his mismanagement he had lost Scotland, 
Ireland, and Gascony; fourth, he had injured the church, anil 
destroyed many great and noble men of the land; fifth, he had 
violated his coronation oath; sixth, he was a menace to the pros- 
perity of the country in that he was without hope of amendment. 

It was assumed that these charges were proved "by common 
notoriety," yet the queen's advisers shrank from an act so revolu- 


tionary as deposition ; they preferred to secure from the broken- 
spirited king a formal abdication. The matter was not difficult. 
The unhappy monarch, shorn of his friends and aban- 
dlcaMonae- ' doned by the nation, had nothing to do but yield. It 
cidedupon. g r j eve( j hj m muc h, he said, that he had deserved so lit- 
tle of his people, and he begged pardon of all who were present ; 
but since it could not be otherwise, he thanked them for electing 
his eldest son. 

On the 20th of January the enforced abdication was completed; 
the parliament renounced the homage and fealties of its mem- 
bers, and the steward of the household publicly 
EdwwdTi° f broke his staff as a token that Edward II. had ceased 
to reign. Of the subsequent life of Edward, but little 
ever reached the ears of the public. Grim stories of insult and 
actual bodily suffering at the hands of brutal keepers soon began 
to be whispered about, but no hand was raised to help him. A 
terror seized upon those who by kinship or gratitude might feel 
called upon to interfere. On the 21st of September, eight months 
after the abdication, Edward was murdered at Berkeley Castle in 
some mysterious way, so cunningly and devilishly devised as to 
leave no mark of violence upon his person. "Thus ended a reign 
full of tragedy, a life that may be pitied, but affords no ground for 
sympathy. Strange infatuation, unbridled vindictiveness, reck- 
lessness beyond belief, the breach of .all natural affection, of love, 
of honor, and loyalty, are here; but there is none who stands 
forth as a hero. There are great sins and great faults and awful 
vengeance, but nothing to admire, none to be praised." * 

The constitutional significance of the reign of Edward II. is of 
considerable importance. The right of the nation to a voice in the 
selection of the king's ministers was undoubtedly set 
vianmance al f° r t a ' n the successive overthrow of the favorites, Gaves- 
% Edward n ^ on an( ^ tne Despensers, although it was to be a long time 
before the principle would be definitely accepted, or its 
full significance understood. Linked with the right of the nation to 
a voice in the control of the king's ministers, or rather the justi- 
fication of the principle itself, was still another idea, which since 

1 Stubbs, Early Plantagenets, p. 288. 


the days of John Lackland had been slowly but surely taking 
definite shape in the mind of the people, that the crown was not a 
piece of private property to be administered or neglected in accord- 
ance with the whim or caprice of the incumbent, but that it was a 
public trust, and that the accident of birth, instead of granting to 
a king immunities such as no subject enjoyed, imposed rather 
responsibilities which made him beyond all men the servant of the 
nation, and that as a servant he was to be held to a strict and 
awful accountability. 

The deposition of an unfaithful king was not a new exercise of 
the authority of a national council. The old English witan had 
not hesitated to depose such a king as Ethelred the Iledeless. 
And yet since the Norman Conquest there had been no actual case 
of deposition. Had John Lackland lived, he undoubtedly would 
have been dethroned and possibly put to death. The question of 
a change in the succession had also been raised by the barons in 
the case of Henry III. But now, whatever may be thought of the 
actors or of the motives which inspired them, an English king 
had been formally arraigned by the nation represented in the 
parliament, declared incompetent and unworthy to reign, the 
oaths of homage and fealty withdrawn, and the crown transferred 
to a new king; and the sole justification of this act of the 
national council was the failure of the king to fulfill the duties of 
his high office. 



EDWARD III., 1327-1360 


Louis IX., d. 1270 


Philip III., 1270-1285 

Philip IV., the Fair 

Louis X. 

Philip V. 

Charles IV. 



Edward II. 
I of England 

Edward III. 

Charles of Valois 

Philip VI. 

John the Good 

Charles V., 
the Wise 

The "guar 


Charles of Navarre, b. 1332 

Edward III. was only fourteen years of age when the successful 
treason of his mother brought him to the throne. A regency, 
therefore, was necessary. It pleased Isabella and Mor- 
timer, however, while retaining the real control to keep 
themselves in the background and shoulder all responsi- 
bility for the administration upon men like Henry of Lancaster 
and the ex-king's brothers who by reason of their royal lineage 
commanded the confidence of the people. Such an arrangement 
detracted in nothing from the actual influence of the chief plotters 
and for a time concealed from the nation the real nature of the 
revolution. The position of the "guardians," as the committee of 
regency was called, was thus not an enviable one. They were 
responsible for a government which they could not direct. m hey 
were compelled to submit to the insolent dictation of ^« man ;iom 
neither office nor royal lineage entitled to speak. They had 
struck down the king's favorite, to exalt the queen's favorite. 

But the part of Mortimer in the recent plot had been too 
prominent, his present influence was too marked, to permit him to 
remain unnoticed in the background, nor did it take the people long 
to divine his actual relation to the queen. They had never liked 




1328-1330] FALL OF MORTIMER 351 

the man and resented his insolent ways. They were particularly 
offended by the presence of a body guard of knights which he kept 

ever in attendance; an ostentation which was hardly 
<iirin<: the seemly in a man who was not even an earl and who had no 

nominal connection with the government. Grim rumors 
also began to spread as to the fate of the deposed king; men's blood 
stood still at the horrible details, and they were ready to believe 
the worst. There was something wrong also in the recent peace 

with the Scots, in which the guardians had formally 
NorFhampton, and finally recognized the independence of that realm. 
March, 1328. rp^ p eace perhaps was wise, but what had become of 
the £20,000 which the Scots agreed to pay into the royal treasury? 
Rumor reported that the guilty queen and her paramour had 
appropriated this money to their own uses. Was it for this then 
that the English must suffer the humiliation of defeat? Was it 
not enough that Edward II. had thrown away Scotland? Must 
this debauched Frenchwoman now openly trade in the blood of his 
subjects? The people called the peace "the shameful peace," and 
when the guardians, in order to keep their agreement with the Scots, 
proposed to return the Stone of Scone, so great was the uproar among 
the Londoners that the king's councillors dared not proceed, and 
thus the famous talisman was left permanently in English hands. 
Mortimer's insolence in the meantime kept pace with his grow- 
ing unpopularity. His one thought seemed to be to add to his 

wealth and titles. He was made Earl of March. He 
Mortimer, lived in regal state. In 1329 in a moment of anger he 

brought a band of armed retainers to the parliament of 
Salisbury, broke into the parliament chamber, and threatened the 
members with personal violence. At last the reproaches of the 
people and the continued insolence of the favorite goaded Lancas- 
ter and the king's uncles ' into action, but only to be cowed into 


Edward I. 

m. 1 Ele anor of Castile | m. 2 Marga ret of France 

Edward II. m. Isabella of France ( | 

_. I Thomas, Edmund, 

Edward III Earl of Norfolk Earl of Kent 

352 THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR [edward hi. 

silence again, the moment the cunning villain, who was fast ter- 
rorizing the whole kingdom, raised his head. Mortimer, however, 
on his part was not to be satisfied with silence, and with diabolical 
art set a snare for the high-minded but simple-hearted Edmund of 
Kent, who was led by Mortimer's secret agents to believe that the 
late king was still alive, and was thus tricked into committing him- 
self to a plan of rescue. The unfortunate earl was at once arrested 
upon a charge of treason, condemned by an obsequious parliament 
then sitting at Winchester, and hurried to execution. A terror 
seized the nobility; no man could feel sure of his position, or 
know what devilish trap might be spread for his feet. In 
desperation the nobles turned to the boy king. Though a lad in 
years, he felt deeply the humiliation of his position and had grown 
restless under the tyrannical tutelage which his mother and 
Mortimer had imposed upon him. Isabella scented mischief and 
carried Mortimer off with her to Nottingham Castle; but the 
young king with a band of determined men followed them, and, 
secretly gaining access to the castle through an underground pas- 
sage, since known as "Mortimer's Hole," seized the favorite, 
and, with the cries and protests of the queen ringing in 
their ears, bore him down the stairs and out into the night 
and off to London, where he was straightway condemned by 
the lords and hanged at the Elms. Isabella was sent to Castle 
Kising where she was kept a prisoner until her death twenty-eight 
years later. 

The actual reign of Edward III. now began. He had "a hand- 
some person, pleasant and affable manners, a fluent tongue and an 

energy that contrasted most happily with the listless 
m'ward'iii iudolence of his unhappy father." He was, however, 

no statesman like Edward I. and soon developed a 
thriftless recklessness in pursuing the ends of mere personal ambi- 
tion. Like Richard I. he gloried in the glamour of costly military 
pageants. He thought little of the expense and suffering which 
he imposed upon friend or foe, if only he might acquit himself with 
what he called honor. Yet, during the early part of his reign, he 
was loved and honored by his people, who did not then understand 
the heartless selfishness of his real nature. 

1330-134?] RESTORATION OF ORDER 353 

The first acts of Edward were directed to the suppression of the 

disorder which had sprung up under the weak government of his 

father. Armed bands of outlaws infested the highways, 

Rextin-atum seized travelers for ransom, and overawed courts of 
of order. ' 

justice. The great nobles, as Mortimer at Salisbury in 
1329, did not hesitate to employ such bands to defy the laws or 
work out their criminal plots. Even the boys on the street were 
infused with the prevailing spirit of disorder; a law of the times 
forbids them to amuse themselves by "knocking off the hats of 
passers-by in the neighborhood of the palace of Westminster." 
The Statute of Winchester of Edward I. had made each locality 
responsible for all crime within its precincts; the leading men of 
each county wore now in addition to assemble the people by hue 
and cry, and pursue the peace-breaker "from vill to vill" and 
"from hundred to hundred." The king was also to make regular 
tours through the counties to see that this law was observed. The 
courts of "trailbaston," which had been instituted under special 
commissions by Edward I. for the purpose of dealing with gangs of 
outlaws too powerful for the ordinary courts to handle, were also 
revived and did good service during tho first twenty years of Edward 
III. 's reign. In 1347 these special courts were superseded by the 
appointment of permanent local officers known as "keepers of the 
peace," who soon began to be called "justices of the peace," 
becoming a recognized part of the police system of the counties. 

While tho young Edward was thus putting his hand to the 
restoration of order within his kingdom, fresh troubles arose with 

Scotland which taxed seriously the wisdom of the new 
Unr^ni'ini'i'lt administration. It had been one of the terms of the 
)'<', ',','" *''''' P eaco of 1:5 '- S tuat tlie estates ot English nobles in 

Scotland, which Bruco had confiscated, should bo 
restored. This promise had not been fulfilled, and the English 
barons who were interested, now that the great Bruce was no more 
and the kingdom left to his infant son, believed that the moment 
had come for enforcing their rights, and proposed to place upon 
the throne of Scotland, Edward Balliol, son of the quondam King 
John. They first appealed to Edward, but he could not openly 
violate the recent treaty and ostentatiously closed the border roads 


Edwakd 111. 

against them. They were left, however, to fit out their expedition 
at Ravenspur and finally sail away for the coast of Fife with a small 
army of 3,300 men. Their success was beyond their expectations. 

They met the regent of Scotland at Dupplin Moor, 
Mm-, 1 August August 12, 1332, and easily defeated him. Perth, the 

capital, was then taken, and on September 24 Edward 
Balliol was crowned at Scone. 1 An army of Scots hastily gathered 
to retake Perth but disbanded again without accomplishing any- 
thing, leaving the handful of English adventurers virtually in pos- 
session of the great part of the kingdom. Yet five weeks after 
the coronation, Balliol's mushroom throne had crumbled before the 
revival of the old Scottish national party, and he was himself a 
fugitive on English soil. 

The weakness of the regency, however, had been discovered, 
and the recovery of what Edward II. had lost seemed now 

an easy task. Edward III. was unequal to such 

Open inter- . , * 

fererweof temptation, especially when Balliol waited to renew 
Edward HI. ,.,,,,, _, , 

his father s homage. Edward, therefore, recognized 
Balliol as rightful king of Scotland and sent him back with an 
English army to support his claim. Edward himself joined the 
invaders before Berwick, and when the Scots attempted to relieve 

the town, met them at Ilalidon Hill, where mainly 
mii d " n through the efficiency of the English archery, he 

administered such a crushing defeat, that for the 
moment it seemed that Bannockburn had been undone and all 
that the Scots had gained by a generation of sacrifice had been 
lost. Balliol again assumed the royal state, and formally recog- 
nize'd the English overlordship. He also ceded to Edward, Tweed- 
dale and part of Lothian. 

The second reign of Edward Balliol was hardly longer or 
more satisfactory than the first. The humiliation of Scotland 

was more than her proud people could endure, fired as 
Kionu/ BaL they were by the traditions of the glorious past. The 

French king Philip VI. also was quick to see the 
advantage of a vigorous Scottish alliance in case of quarrel with 

'Scone, the ancient capital, was two miles from Perth. Perth re- 
mained the capital until 1436. 


England, and did not propose to allow Edward III. to entrench 
himself permanently in Scotland. He sent his ships to the coast, 
and while avoiding open war, managed to keep alive a party loyal 
to King David. In 1339 Balliol was once more driven from the 
country, and two years later David Bruce, who had been hurried off 
to France in 1332, ventured to return. Edward could not again 
interfere, for England and France were already drifting into the 
shadows of the "Hundred Years' War," and he needed all his 
strength to defend his own coasts against a threatened French 
invasion. Berwick, however, remained in the possession of the 
English. 1 

The great event of Edward's reign was now approaching, the 
opening of the long duel with France. Like most great national 

conflicts this struggle struck its roots far into the past. 
Cawcs of the Ever since a vassal of the French crown had become 
YmrPwar. king of England, it had been the accepted policy of the 

French court to weaken the hold of the English king 
upon his French vassals and drive him from the continent if pos- 
sible. Hence the complications which had sprung from the ill- 
advised attempt of Edward I. to subjugate Scotland, had been 
hailed with satisfaction by his watchful neighbor across the Chan- 
nel, and a new clause added to the old traditional policy of the 
French court; namely, the maintenance of a close alliance with 
Scotland against England and the support of the independence of 
the Scottish crown at all hazards. It was not that the French 
king loved the Scots ; but he saw here a chance to fetter his rival 
by preparing for him a powerful diversion at home, whenever 
England and France should come to blows. As we have seen it was 
this alliance with France which roused John Balliol to assert himself 

1 The English jwssession was not yet permanent. Between 1332 and 
1461 the Scots regained the town several times, although each time they 
failed to hold it. But in 1461, Henry VI. formally ceded it to them in 
gratitude for the kind treatment which they had given him after Tow- 
ton, and the Scots held the place for twenty-one years. In 1481 it passed 
permanently into English hands. The English, however, still regarded 
the town as a part of a foreign kingdom, conceding to it its own civil 
and military establishment, and leaving it in fact a separate but depend- 
ent state until the act of Union in 1807. 


Edward III. 

in 1295, and gave Wallace his opportunity in 1297. It was a French 
war also that had assisted Bruce in 1306, and it was fhe continued 
friendship of France that had enabled the old Scottish party to expel 
the younger Balliol at last and bring back David Bruce in triumph 
to his father's throne. The earlier wars for the maintenance of 
the claims of English kings south of the Channel, had never taken 
any very serious hold upon the English nation. For the most 
part the people, and, after the loss of Normandy, even the feudal 
nobility, took no deep interest in these wars, but begrudged rather 
both the time and the money which they were ever demanding. 
But the Scottish wars had struck nearer home; national sentiment 
had been awakened. Hence Englishmen could not overlook the 
unneighborly acts of the French, and it was not long before they 
began to hate the French as bitterly as they hated the Scots. Other 
causes also helped to fan the popular hatred and develop the war 
spirit. England and France had already begun their commercial 
rivalry, and were elbowing each other on the seas and in the marts 
of the Low Countries. The merchant service of civilized nations, 
moreover, was still exposed to the temptation of piracy; the plun- 
dering of merchantmen by 1 their rivals of other nations even in 
times of peace was hardly regarded as a crime. The battle in the 
harbor of St. Mahe in 1293 had been the direct outgrowth of such 

In the year 1328 Charles IV., the last male of the elder line of 
Capet, died. There were nieces and a sister, 1 the mother of 

Edward III. ; but the French lawyers, in the interests 
^tiZ^ 8 of the collateral house of Valois, had seen fit to give a 

constitutional interpretation to the old Frankish law 
which decreed that "no part of the Salic land could fall to a 
woman." The law of course applied only to the transmission of 
private property, and even here had long since become a dead 
letter. But it was sufficient for the purpose of the lawyers to serve 
as the basis for a quibble in order to justify the transfer of the 
crown to Philip, the son of Charles of Valois. 

The new king had adopted fully the traditional policy of the 

1 Charles of Navarre was not born until 1332, see table p. 350. 


French court and proceeded to seize every opportunity of harassing 

the English. He had kept the borders of Guienne in turmoil and 

had continued to encourage the French piracies. He 

Policy of or 

PhiUp of had also renewed the former alliance of Philip IV. 

with the Scots, sending them ships, men, and money, 
and in 1332 had given the exile David Bruce a cordial welcome. 

Ten years of Edward III. 's reign had now passed. In spite of 
the renewal of the quarrel with the Scots, at home England had 

enjoyed comparative quiet and the nation had been 
readyfor restored to much of the prosperity and confidence which 

it had enjoyed under Edward I. Dupplin Moor and 
Ilalidon Hill had done much to efface the deep humiliation of 
Bannockburn, and the people, flushed with victory, were not 
inclined to endure much longer the persistent interference of the 
French king in insular affairs, or the ever-increasing annoyance of 
French piracies. War in short had already begun. Not only was it 
no secret that French money was equipping ships in Sicily, Genoa, 
Norway, and Holland, but French ships were actually wasting 
the English coast. The English also were equipping themselves 
for the struggle. Parliament had adopted the quarrel as its own, 
and had not only voted large grants of money, but, without a 
protest, had allowed the king to violate the promise of Edward I. 
concerning the raising of money by tallage. Each seaport town 
also was required to furnish a quota of ships for the defense 
of the coasts; a measure for which Edward III. had precedent 
enough in the past. The Scottish alliance of Philip, Edward 
sought to offset by an alliance with the petty principalities which 
fringed the eastern borders of France; for the most part purchas- 
ing their support outright either by subsidy or by the promise of 
important commercial advantages. He bought up the emperor 
for a subsidy of 3,000 florins, getting 2,000 men to fight for him, 
and when the German princes of the Rhine hesitated to fight under 
a foreign prince, the emperor conferred upon Edward the title of 
"Vicar General of the Empire on the Left Bank of the Rhine," 
with authority to lead the princes of the empire for seven years. 
Of all these allies, the Flemings were the most important. In 
the industrial arts they were the foremost people of Europe. 


Their cities teemed with hard-headed burghers who had made for- 
tunes by manufacturing English-grown wool, and had little 
. sympathy with the feudal maxims which controlled the 

The impnr- "^ * . 

tanceofthe French kingdom of which they were nominally a part. 
Nine cities had already formed a defensive league under 
the inspiration of the famous "Brewer of Ghent," James Van 
Arteveldt, and, quick to see the advantage of an alliance with the 
country which furnished the wool for their looms, now readily 
yielded themselves to the blandishments of Edward. 

It is difficult to say, then, just when the war began or who was 
more responsible. The open support which France had given to Scot- 
land, the attack upon Gascony, and the plunder of Eng- 
nim^the lish shipping, would be regarded by any modern state as 
sufficient ground for war. In 1337 Van Arteveldt came 
to blows with the count of Flanders, who was a vassal of the 
French king, and Edward sent over an English fleet to support 
his ally, and drove the garrison of Count Louis out of Cadsand. 
The next year Edward himself went to the continent to begin a 
direct attack upon France using Flanders as a base. Here he was 
made to feel at once the strength of Philip and the worthlessness 
of his own allies. The frontier cities were really huge fortresses, or 
fortified camps, well garrisoned for long sieges, and the two years 
of 1338 and 1339 Edward spent in the vain endeavor to break 
through this ring of frontier strongholds. Philip also took the field, 
but stubbornly refused to be drawn into a general engagement, 
satisfied to see Edward wear out the patience of his troops and 
exhaust his resources in useless campaigning against stone walls. 
Edward's allies also soon proved that they were more interested in 
drawing his subsidies than in defeating his enemies. Even the 
Flemings, upon whom Edward had most reason to depend, while 
perfectly willing to march under Edward's banners and draw pay 
from his treasury, hesitated when it came to fighting against their 
sovereign in person. John Lackland had met the same difficulty 
when he tried to bring his Flemish mercenaries into the field 
against Prince Louis. 

These and other considerations now led Edward to determine 
upon a step which soon gave new color to the entire war, effectually 


obscured its original cause, and made peace impossible until one 

or both, of the two nations had been entirely exhausted. This 

step was to claim for himself the crown of France as his 

vancee claim by right of his mother Isabella. When Charles IV. 

to the French ... , . „,»»_, T *, ,, , -. r , . , ,, 

croienaxa died in 1328, Isabella and Mortimer, who were then in 
power, while accepting the principle that a woman might 
not inherit the crown of France, had yet advanced the claim of the 
young Edward on the ground that a claim might be transmitted 
by a daughter to her male offspring. But the claim was not pressed, 
and Edward by doing homage to Philip VI. for the French pos- 
sessions of the Plantagenets, had virtually recognized Philip as right- 
ful king of France. Largely, therefore, as a war measure, and at 
the earnest solicitation of Van Arteveldt, Edward determined to 
assert his title as king of France. It is difficult to understand 
the logic by which Edward could convince himself that his claim 
was just. Even if in 1328 he were the nearest male heir of 
the elder Capetian line, he had been debarred since by the birth of 
Charles of Navarre, the grandson of Louis X. Still, as a war 
measure, Edward's claim was good enough, and accordingly 
in January 1340, * as a preliminary to a new campaign, he 
formally declared himself king of France by right of his mother, 
and quartered the arms of the leopards with those of the fleur-de- 
lis, adopting the motto "God and my right." On the 8th of 
February he carried his effrontery so far as to issue a charter to 
the French as their king. 

The war was now on in serious earnest; the quarrel of Edward 

and Philip was irreconcilable. In the early spring Edward 

returned to England to levy new taxes upon his people 

MmOvietoru an( * P re P are * or the new campaign. But Philip had 

'jum'^'im cnan g e( l l" 8 tactics somewhat and, by gathering a fleet 

of upwards of two hundred sail in the harbor of Sluys, 

proposed to prevent the return of Edward to the Low Countries. 

1 Edward evidently had had this step in mind since 1337, for he had 

used the title as early as October 7 of that year, but inasmuch as the 

title is not found in any documents between that date and the 26th of 

January, 1340, he seems to have temporarily abandoned the matter. The 

better judgment of Europe was against it, and on March 5, 1340, the 

pope wrote to dissuade him. See Stubbs, C. H. II, p. 400, note 1. 

360 THE HUNDRED YEARS* WAR [edward- II. 

Edward promptly accepted the challenge and on the 24th of June 
attacked Philip upon his own ground. As the English ships, with 
the wind and sun at their backs, bore down upon the enemy, the 
archers swept the French decks, while Edward and his knights, sword 
in hand, stood ready to board the moment the shock of collision 
came. The victory was as brilliant as it was complete. The 
French fleet was annihilated; thirty thousand men were slain 
upon the decks or drowned in the harbor. No such victory had 
been won by the English at sea since the exploit of Hubert de 
Burgh before Dover in 1217. 

The English remained masters of the Channel for thirty years. 
No.t only was all fear of a French invasion dispelled; but the 

entire French coast lay open for Edward to choose his 
siuul tof own time and place of attack. Yet instead of taking 

advantage of his victory he sat down before the first big 
French town that lay across his path, this time Tournay, and 
frittered away precious months in a vain attempt to persuade 
Philip to meet him like a knight and settle their quarrel in fair 
combat. Philip, who had already proved himself a master in a 
contest of matching patience with Edward, simply repeated the 
tactics of the former campaign, and with such success that the 
autumn passed and still Edward had accomplished nothing; his 
supplies were exhausted and the winter was coming on. He was 
glad, therefore, to secure a truce of nine months and be allowed 
to return home where his presence was by this time sorely needed. 
Nearly five years had now passed since the beginning of the 
war ; vast sums had been squandered ; thousands of lives had been 

sacrificed, and nothing had been gained. If there were 
flr*t l nve f th * ^vantages on either side, they lay with Philip, rather 
V il&M2! var ' than with Edward - ft is true that Edward had 

destroyed the French fleet, but he had signally failed to 
break through Philip's frontier. Philip's lieutenants on the other 
hand had broken into Gascony and now held a part of that unhappy 
country for their king. The Scots, moreover, had by the aid of 
French troops recovered their cities and castles and once more 
threatened the northern shires of England. Five years of war had 
not sweetened the temper of the English people nor softened their 


hearts towards the French, but they were weary of a war which 
had borne such meagre results, and had lost much of their early 
enthusiasm. Parliament was growing restless; its supplies were 
doled out with a niggardly hand and the members were begin- 
ning to show alarming signs of a disposition to inquire into the way 
in which the king's ministers were spending his money. The 
emperor's support also was weakening and the pope was exerting 
all his powerful influence to bring about a permanent peace. 
Hence at the opening of 1342 peace did not seem to be far off, 
when a new cause of quarrel arose in a dispute over the succession 
to the Duchy of Brittany. 

In 1341 John III. of Brittany had died childless. 1 His brother 
Guy had died before him but had left a daughter Jeanne, the wife 

of Charles of Blois, nephew of the French king. But 
suction- ^ere was a l so a half-brother of the late duke, another 
w™ val " f ' John > wno bore the title of de Montfort from his 

mother. Philip claimed the duchy for his niece in 
nccordance with the well established law of Brittany. De Mont- 
fort claimed the succession as the sole male heir of his father 
Arthur. Here was an application of the Salic law which was not 
so pleasing to Philip. Edward, who minded little the incon- 
sistency of his position when he saw an opportunity of striking 
Philip in a new quarter, took up the claim of do Montfort. 
Thus the war shifted to Brittany. Edward's candidate, how- 
ever, made little progress and soon found his way into one 
of Philip's prisons. In the autumn of 1342 Edward himself came 
over, but after many trials and much suffering on the part 
The truce of °^ his troops, he was glad to accept a truce again 
^alnmr'i/ 1 , 1 ' as ^ ne bes ^ wa y ou ^ °^ a bad business. The truce was 
1343. f. i as j. un t;i Michaelmas, was to include all the con- 

tending parties, and might be made permanent, if the English 

Arthur Duke of Brittany 

I j | 

John III. Guy John de Montfort 

Duke of Brittany, | 

died 1341 Jeanne = Charles Count of 

Blois, nephew of Philip VI. 


parliament should consent to its terms; for Edward had thought 
it politic to defer the final decision for parliament. 

Parliament met early in 1343 and agreed to lay the matter of 
quarrel before the pope for arbitration, at the same time declaring 
for the continuance of the war, if peace could not be 
iT£ e e Ctual nad u P on J ust terms - It is difficult to believe that 
negotiations, Edward was doing else than playing for time. What- 
ever he may have thought of his claims upon the 
French crown, he had fully made up his mind to accept nothing 
short of the absolute sovereignty of Guienne. Philip on the other 
hand was just as determined that Edward should never rule French 
territory save as his vassal. The negotiations, therefore, dragged 
on their weary length and ended at last where they began. It 
was no doubt what Edward expected; possibly what he most 
desired. lie had gained eighteen months of valuable lime and was 
ready to strike again. 

Philip in the meantime had not been idle. Trouble still 
smouldered in Flanders. The small towns had turned against the 
cities, roused by their monopolies, and in the rioting 
renewed which ensued Edward's old friend Van Arteveldt had 
been slain. Philip had, also, contrived to keep alive a 
powerful French party in Aquitaine, where he was steadily under- 
mining Edward's influence. Edward sent hither in the summer 
of 1345 a considerable army under the command of Henry, Earl of 
Derby, the son of Henry of Lancaster, a commander of no mean 
parts, who by a series of brilliant successes fully justified the 
confidence of the king. The main expedition which was designed 
for Normandy followed in the spring. It was led by Edward in 
person and was composed of Irish, Welsh, and English, "a great 
army of souldiours well appointed," of whom ten thousand were 

Edward landed on the northwest coast of Normandy and without 
any particular plan other than to punish the coast towns for their 
piracies, began ravaging the country, pillaging the 
campaifin cities, and burning the shipping, but moving in a gen- 
eral easterly direction with Calais possibly as his goal, 
where he expected to find the Flemings in force and with them 


take the city. All went well until Edward reached Rouen, for 
Philip had drawn away his soldiers to protect his southern borders 
against the vigorous attack of the earl of Lancaster. 1 But at Rouen 
Edward found that the French had destroyed the bridges over the 
Seine and he was compelled to ascend the river toward Paris in 
search of another crossing. Edward's position was one of great 
peril. Before him lay the high walls of Paris, with its mighty 
population, formidable even in that day. Behind him lay an 
exasperated people, whose lands he had ruined and where he had 
himself destroyed the means of feeding an army. Philip, more- 
over, had hastily returned from the south, and now lay on the 
farther bank of the Seine at St. Denys, with an army which 
outnumbered the English two to one. Edward was in short 
caught in a trap. But Philip, most fortunately for Edward, mis- 
took the northward march for an attack upon Paris, an error in 
which he was confirmed by a skillful feint of the English. He 
waited therefore at St. Denys for Edward to wear himself out upon 
the city gates, while his own army continued to augment by daily 
arrivals from the south and east. But Edward in the meanwhile 
was quietly repairing the bridge at Poissy and on the 10th of 
August crossed to the east bank, and after defeating a detachment 
of new recruits who were advancing to join Philip, marched away 
toward Pontoise. At Airaiues Edward halted for three days, while 
his scouts patroled the banks of the Somme in a vain search for a 
ford; for the only bridge which the French had spared on the 
lower river was at Abbeville, where Philip had had the foresight 
to leave a strong garrison. Edward's position was once more 
growing critical. Philip had at last broken camp at St. Denys 
and was swiftly approaching Airaines with an army which now 
outnumbered Edward's fully three to one, and was, moreover, 
eager for battle. Edward dared not delay longer and, as a forlorn 
hope, hastily broke camp and marched upon Abbeville. So hurried 
was his departure, that when the French entered his camp, two 
hours later, they found "meat on the spits, pasties in the ovens, 
and tables ready spread." Yet Edward's good fortune did not 

1 Henry of Derby had become Earl of Lancaster by the death of his 
father, September 22, 1345. 


forsake him. As he neared Abbeville he learned of a ford at a 
place called Blanche Tache, where the waters of the Somme widen 
ere they pass into the sea, and where an army might find footing 
at low tide. Edward easily reached the ford, but only to find him- 
self confronted from the opposite bank by a force of twelve thou- 
sand men drawn up under Guimar du Fay. With the powerful 
army of Philip, however, pressing upon him from the rear, the 
English king had no choice but to lead his troops into the river 
and fight for the passage. The banks were speedily cleared by the 
English archers, and Edward's men-at-arms were soon pursuing 
the knights of Guimar across the fields of Ponthieu. The crossing 
was not won a minute too soon; Edward's rear guard had hardly 
shaken the water from their garments, when the light horse of the 
French advance appeared on the bank which the English had just 
left. But Edward's men were now safe, the tide was already roll- 
ing in again over the white shoals; and nothing was left to Philip 
but to halt his army at Abbeville. 

Edward now declared that he would retreat no further. He 
was in Ponthieu, 1 surrounded by abundance; his way was open 
Edward to ^ a ^" s » n * s arm y although small was formidable, 
withdraws to nor could Philip attack him before the morrow at the 

Crecy. . 

earliest. He would give his men, therefore, what 
remained of the day and the night for rest, and prepare to give a 
good account of himself when Philip should appear. Accord- 
ingly he first sent out numerous small parties to secure forage, and 
then withdrew the main body to the neighborhood of the little 
village of Crecy, finally taking up a strong position on a hill slope 
to the east of the town and facing Abbeville. 

In the meanwhile Philip also was attempting to give his unwieldy 
host an opportunity to rest at Abbeville, but with poor success. 

The accommodations of the little town were altogether 
Abbeville. inadequate to the needs of so many men and the great 

part slept in the open fields. Nevertheless Philip tar- 
ried from Thursday until Saturday, without gaining other advan- 

1 The reason which Froissart assigns for this decision of Edward was 
that Ponthieu had belonged to Edward's mother. Compare p. 345 note 
with Longman, Life and Times of Edward III., I, p. 254, note 1. 




tage than the accession of fresh troops to swell the size of his 
already unmanageable army. On Saturday, the 2<ith of August, 
long before sun-up the vast host was astir and soon streaming away 
towards Crecy; the men marching without order, a confused 
multitude of horse and foot, possessing but one prime military 
quality, an eager desire to come up with the foe. 

Six leagues away Edward and his men were quietly waiting on 
their hillside. All told they numbered about four thousand horse 
and ten thousand archers, besides an irregular body of 
itrdenif Irish and Welsh footmen. 1 The knights were dis- 

mounted and drawn up in three divisions as pikemen. 
The first di- 
vision was 
placed at the 
foot of the 
slope and 
by Edward, 
the king's 
eldest son, 
the beloved 
Prince, sup- 
ported by 
some of the 
ablest cap- 
tains in the 

English service. To the left was drawn up the second division, led 
by the earls of Arundel and Northampton. The third division, com- 
manded by the king in person, was marshalled on higher ground in 

'The number of the French army was by this time probably not far 
from seventy thousand men. The number of the English lias long been a 
subject of dispute. Estimates have varied from 8,000, determined on the 
basis of the disposition of the several divisions as given by Froissart, and 
32, 000 as given by the Italian Villani. The treasury accounts, recently 
discovered in the Herald's College, however, have now furnished the data 
for a satisfactory estimate. See Wrottesley, Crecy and Calais, from the 
Public Records. Reviewed by J. E. Morris in Eng. Hist. Review, 1899, p. 706. 


the rear as a sort of reserve corps. 1 Before each division the 
archers were thrown out in open order; the men in the successive 
ranks arranged like the pieces on a checker- board, so that each 
man should have an open space before him for the full play of his 
terrible bow. It is also stated, but upon questionable authority, 
that between the divisions were placed very small bombards "which 
with fire and a noise like God's thunder, threw little balls of iron 
to frighten the horses." 2 The Irish and Welsh, armed with long, 
ugly looking knives, hovered on the flanks and completed the array. 
About noon Edward's preparations were fully completed and 
he took up a position back of his third division near a windmill 
from which he could survey the field. Below him his 

The Battle. . J 

Augustas, men stood in their places, or sat on the ground with 

1346. * 

their iron caps lying on the grass beside them; their 
coolness and quiet order in marked contrast with the confused 
chaos of martial valor that was rolling down upon them from 
Abbeville. When the afternoon was well on Philip's men began to 
appear and soon all the lanes and avenues leading to the English 
position were choked with the increasing press of men and horses. 
Philip had tried to get his troops into some order on the march, but 
had only increased the confusion, and when he arrived on the field 
he was fully determined to postpone the attack until the next day. 
But the sight of the English, sitting there on the hillside and look- 
ing down upon him with insolent indifference, was too much for his 
temper; and in an outburst of anger, he bade his marshals send 
forward the Genoese cross-bowmen and begin the battle. Of these 
cross-bowmen Philip had brought along some six thousand to 
engage the English archers. But the poor fellows were "quite 
fatigued, having marched, on foot that day six leagues, completely 
armed, and carrying their cross-bows," and, to add to their 
discomfort, moreover, while they were getting ready for action, 
there came up a terrific thunder storm, accompanied by a drench- 
ing rain. When the storm had passed the Genoese were ready 
and advanced with a great shout. But the cross-bow was no 

1 See Colby, Selections, p. 98, for Froissart's account of the battle. 

2 Villani is the sole authority for the employment of these toy can- 
non by the English. Longman, I, p. 250. 


match for the English long bow. The English archers also 
fully understood their work and, rising to their feet, coolly 
unlimbered their weapons and waited for the Genoese to come well 
within range. "Then they stepped forth one pace and let fly their 
arrows so hotly and so thick that it seemed snow." The long 
lines of cross-bowmen faltered, swayed, then surged backward and 
broke. Philip was furious and, turning to the men-at-arms who 
were supposed to support the Genoese, cried: "Kill me those 
runaway scoundrels." The order was the signal for the beginning 
of the main battle. The men-at-arms spurred forward their heavy 
horses, riding down the unfortunate Genoese, only in their turn 
to meet the murderous flight of cloth -yards. Soon the field was 
covered with writhing men and plunging horses. Then came the 
moment of the Irish and Welsh footmen, who darting under the 
rearing horses, and slashing at the huge bellies with their long 
knives, added not a little to the havoc and the wild confusion. 
Other bands of French knights came up, and passing around the 
first battle and skirting the hedge of archers, managed at last to 
get at the English men-at-arms. The press about the first divi- 
sion increased and there was danger that it would be borne away by 
sheer weight of superior numbers. From the height by the wind- 
mill the anxious watchers with the king saw the sea of tossing 
crests close around the little band which surrounded the Black 
Prince, and cried to Edward to lead them to the rescue. A mes- 
senger also came in hot haste asking the king to come to tho help 
of the captains who were with the prince. But Edward saw that 
tho moment had not yet come for leading out his reserve. "Let 
the boy win his spurs," he coolly replied, "that the honor may bo 
his." So Edward waited; moments dragged into hours, still the 
battle raged on. Philip had had no control of his army from the 
first, and apparently made no effort to hold his knights together or 
to hurl them in masses upon the English lines. The broken bands 
were left to return again and again to the onset, accomplishing 
prodigious feats of valor, but only to foam themselves away against 
the bristling wall of lances. Philip's brother fell with his sword 
in his hand. John, the blind old king of Bohemia, Philip's ally, 
asked to be led into the thick of tho fray that he might, strike one 

368 THE HUNDRED YEARS* WAR [edward 111. 

blow at the English, and there lie died. Night at last put an end 
to the useless carnage. Belated bands of French continued to 
arrive during the night and the next day there was some desultory 
fighting; but the French could not rally and the fighting rapidly 
degenerated into a mere slaughter of fugitives by the English. 
Philip, wounded in body and broken in spirit, had already fled to 
Amiens under cover of the night, leaving behind him on the 
field twelve princes of France, thirteen hundred knights, and six- 
teen thousand lesser folk. 1 The English loss was inconsiderable. 
Once more France lay at Edward's mercy ; yet, instead of tak- 
ing advantage of his victory, he repeated the mistake which he had 
made after Sluys, spending the winter months of 1346 
Calais, 1346, and 1347 under the walls of Calais, patiently waiting 

1347. ' 

for the burghers to eat up their store of provisions, 
while Philip was left to rally his shattered strength unmolested. 
France, however, was weaker now than in 1340, and a wholesome 
dread of meeting the English in battle had taken the place of the 
former vainglorious enthusiasm of her nobles. Yet, as the autumn 
months wore on, and it became evident that the terrible invader 
was to come no nearer, the people took fresh heart and began to 
turn their thought to the relief of the beleaguered garrison. 
Philip roused his old allies, the Scots, in the delusive hope of forcing 
Edward to return home to defend his northern counties; but the 
northern earls, Henry Neville and Ralph Percy, proved themselves 
amply able to hold the borders, meeting the Scots at Neville's cross, 
and beating them with great slaughter, taking King David himself. 

An attempt of the French to relieve Calais by water met 

Sfitwcuticv of 

(•aims, au- with no better success. At last in the spring Philip 
managed to get another army into the field; but he 
could no longer bring his troops to face the English archers, and 
after an ignominious retreat was compelled to leave the brave 
burghers to throw themselves on Edward's mercy. 

The first thought of Edward was of slaughter. The city had 
allowed its harbor to be used freely by the Channel pirates and had 
long proved a scourge to English commerce. He proposed, there- 

1 For the several estimates given above see E. Maunde Thompson's 
Edition of Le Baker's Chronicle, pp. 259-262. 


fore, to read its citizens a lesson which should not be soon forgot- 
ten. But better counsels prevailed, and he determined to 
make Calais an outpost of England on French soil. He first 
drove out the French who would not take the oath of allegiance, 
and filled their places with new colonists from England. He then 
established a market for tin, lead, and cloth; repaired the walls and 
settled within the city a powerful resident garrison. The town at 
once took on a new life, becoming the chief channel of English 
trade with the continent. It remained in English hands for two 
hundred and ten years, during the most of which it enjoyed an 
unexampled prosperity. 

When Edward returned to England in 1347 he was at the 

height of his glory and the idol of the hour. The spoils of war, 

the plunder of France, poured into the kingdom. "There 

Theheightof r ,, .. • i «« i i ? 

Edward'* was no woman, it was said, who had not got gar- 
ments, furs, feather beds, and utensils from the spoils of 
Calais and other foreign cities." The country forgot the earlier 
drain upon its resources. A new taste for articles of luxury and 
extravagance was awakened, and swept away even the 
of "he war* sober-visaged clergy. It expressed itself in marvelous 
upon EiHiiMi gowns of great length, trimmed with furs, and stiff with 
embroideries; in hanging sleeves, so long that they could 
be tied behind the back; in shoes with wonderfully pointed toes 
that had to be fastened to the knees with silver chains. It was 
the heyday of the furrier and the clothier. A single gown would 
cost the price of a duke's ransom. The king led in this extrav- 
agant foppery. He decorated a select band of his knights with a 
"blue garter," thus originating the famous order. He held 
tournaments without number, — as many as nineteen within a six- 
month, some of them lasting more than a fortnight. Hither 
flocked the gay and frivolous court, to lead in the carnival and set 
the people wild in their mad chase after French and Italian fash- 
ions. The fondness of the people for these pageants became so 
extravagant that it was forbidden to hold them without the royal 
license; a permission, however, which it was never hard to secure. 
The chase also, hunting or hawking, lost nothing of its charm for 
the elegant idlers who surrounded the court. Vast tracts of land 


Edward III. 

were kept waste, and troops of gaily attired men and women swept 
by in wild rout in pursuit of the quarry, trampling down the crops 
of the peasantry and destroying the food supply of the hapless 

The taste for extravagance was also revealed in the architec- 
ture of the period. The old pointed arch, which had supplanted 
the simple and massive architecture of the Normans, 
archu^ture rea dily yielded to elaborate decoration, — the "decorated 
style. " The castles of the nobility changed from gloomy 
strongholds into elegant palaces, which vied with each other in the 
tapestries which hung from the walls or the exquisite carvings 
which ornamented beds, tables, and chairs. In London the houses 
of the tradesmen rose two and three stories high. Glass was also 
coming into use, though only the rich and the great could 
yet afford it. There were larders, too, butteries, and ward- 
robes, filled with endless supplies which were the pride of the 

In other less direct ways also the war had powerfully stimulated 
the development of the resources of the country. Edward had 
very early in the struggle felt the need of new sources 
effects of the, of revenue. The knights were still regarded as the 
flower of the army, but recent wars had proved the 
value of archers, light cavalry, and footmen of various kinds, 
besides ships and other engines of war. The duty of feudal serv- 
ice, moreover, did not compel knight or yeoman to follow Edward 
over the seas in his foreign war. Such service could be carried on 
only by voluntary enlistment and this required money and much 
of it. To furnish a foundation, therefore, for the revenues which 
the war demanded, Edward sought to encourage both industry and 
commerce. His methods, however, were curiously arbitrary and 
inconsistent and, as the sequel proved, both false and harmful. 
Yet for a time he succeeded in stimulating powerfully the eco- 
nomic life of the nation. He ordered that foreign merchants be 
allowed to enter the country freely and sell their wares without in- 
terruption. He brought over weavers from Flanders and furnished 
a market for English wool at home. And when the people began 
to show an undue preference for foreign-made goods, he forbade 

1333-1348] THE BLACK DEATH 371 

them to wear any cloth not made in English towns. The nobles 
and the wealthy, however, he exempted from the law. To keep 
control of the wool trade, he forbade the exportation of English 
rams, and allowed the raw wool to be sold abroad only at author- 
ized ports, or staples. Sometimes he attempted to prevent the 
exportation of wool altogether. Sometimes he turned merchant 
himself and used the royal authority to control the market. In 
1338 he was given the right to purchase twenty thousand sacks, 
or half the wool of the kingdom, fixing the rate at £3 a sack. 
He "unloaded" at Antwerp for £20 a sack. He prevented 
competition by forbidding other merchants to sell until he had 
completed the transaction. A more harmful regulation for- 
bade the people to sell or the merchants to buy wool or other 
standard commodities at other places than regularly established 
markets, — the staples, — a measure designed solely to simplify 
the levying of duties. The people were also forbidden for a long 
period to trade with Scotland. Yet in spite of these arbitrary 
rulings of the government, the war created a vigorous demand for 
the products of all kinds of industry; wages were good; food was 
abundant; prices were steady and trade, secure in the prestige of 
England on the seas, flourished. 

Suddenly over all this prosperity the "Black Death" cast its 
shadow. This mysterious malady, it is thought, appeared first 
in China about the year 1333, and following the 
Death 1MB, old trade routes extended steadily westward, reach- 
ing the eastern Mediterranean the year after Crecy. In 
January 1348 it broke out on the lower Rhone. In August it 
appeared in England. Its ravages were appalling; no part of, 
the kingdom was exempt; no class was spared. The king's 
daughter and the archbishop of Canterbury were among the vic- 
tims of the first year. The hale and the hearty succumbed as 
readily as the weak and the infirm. In some parts of Yorkshire, 
one-half the priests perished; a noble testimony of their fidelity in 
the hour of the nation's trial. A nameless dread fell upon all 
classes. The nation put off its festal attire and satin the pres- 
ence of its dead; nor were voices lacking to remind the people that 
such woe comes only to those who have sinned. 


Edward III. 

Then the horror passed by, but the desolation remained. It 

was said that of the entire population one in three had perished. 

The laboring element naturally suffered most. Its 

Fatality of strength was shattered. Whole families had been 

Black Death. ° 

swept away; in many manors rows of tenantless cot- 
tages, silent and forsaken, were all that remained to tell of the 
population that had disappeared. The life of the nation, however, 
had been so quickened by all the experiences of the century, its 
pulse was so strong and steady that prostration could not last 
long. Yet the symptoms of convalescence were hardly understood 
by the king or his advisers. The free life of the nation was fet- 
tered by restrictions upon labor and trade, designed no doubt with 
the best intent, but destined to bring new and unheard-of dis- 
orders in their train. 

At the opening of Edward TII.'s reign, rural England appar- 
ently had not passed very far beyond the condition of the rural 

England of the eleventh century; the manor was still 
Buraiufein the prevailing form of organization of the agricultural 
uth century, community. The village life was still simple and 

isolated ; although comforts were few, there was 
always plenty to eat and vagrancy was virtually unknown. The 
lord lived quietly in his manor, surrounded by his family and his 
household servants ; fully occupied with the homely duties of his 
station. The great outer world broke in occasionally when some 
preaching friar or pardoner from Home came that way, with fresh 
stores of gossip from court or council, not the least popular of 
their wares. There were sabbaths and feast days also, when 
joung and old made merry and joined in the rude old country 
sports. There were the great fairs too, whither the bailiffs 
brought their woolpacks, and whither the good wife went with 
"her man" to buy the supplies for the year to come. Some- 
times, also, when the work of the summer was done and the 
granaries were full, lord and villain, freeholder and artisan, clerk 
and scrivener might be seen drifting along the pleasant highways, 
entertaining each other by guileless tales and seeking the shrine 
of some neighboring saint, for the rest of their bodies and the 
good of their souls. 


Yet even when Edward began his reign these pleasant 

scenes were not without some signs of change. The long 

era of domestic peace which had followed the close of the 

Barons' Wars, and had hardly been broken by the 

Change* in . . . . . . . 

Kiwi Mi rural troubles which had attended the reign of the 

second Edward, the steady development of the cities, 
the growth of corporate privileges and the extension of economic 
activities into new fields, had not been without a direct and whole- 
some influence upon the manor and its tenants. This influence 
was manifesting itself in two very marked ways. First, the cus- 
tom was steadily prevailing of allowing the tenant to exchange his 
ordinary labor service into a regular money service, or rental; the 
lord on his part hiring such labor as he needed and paying regular 
wages. When the villain secured the privilege of paying a stated 
rent for his land in lieu of the ancient labor service, a memoran- 
dum of the agreement was indorsed on the manor roll; a copy was 
given to the villain, who became a copyholder; the land was known 
as a copyhold. Second, with the increase of luxury the lord lost 
his taste for the old quiet life of the manor and preferred rather 
to rent the demesne outright with all that belonged to it in the 
way of farm buildings, implements, and stock. 

The first effect of the Hundred Years' War had been greatly 
to accelerate the changes which the long-continued tide of pros- 
perity had already set in motion. The people began to 
Wack°beath re g ar< ^ lnxury in dressing and living as something desir- 
able. Their needs, also, increased with the development 
of taste, and they became dissatisfied, restless, grasping, and hard. 
Then came the Black Death, and, by shattering the strength of 
the laboring class, struck directly at the basis of all this prosperity. 
Landlords could not get "hands" to save their rotting crops. In 
their distress they competed with each other in offering higher 
wages. This in turn reacted upon the villains who still held land 
under the old service tenure and who saw themselves thereby pro- 
hibited from taking advantage of the general increase in wages. 
They became dissatisfied and refused to work for their lords. 
Smaller tenants left their crops standing and went out to work for 
their richer neighbors. Land sank in value, and tenants who held 


by copyhold, could no longer keep up their rental and pay the pre- 
vailing ruinous wages for help. 

The distress and confusion which now fell most heavily upon 
the landlords, attracted the attention of the government, and the 

king attempted to remedy the evils which he did not 
of govern- understand. "Seeing that a great part of the people 

and principally of laborers is dead of^ the plague, and 
that some seeing the necessity of masters and the scarcity of serv- 
ants, will not work unless they receive exorbitant wages, ... we 
have ordained, . . . that every able-bodied man and woman of our 
kingdom, . . . not living by trading or having of his, or her 
own, wherewithal to live, . . . shall if so required, serve another 
for the same wages as were the custom in the twentieth year of 
our reign. " The parliament who represented only the landholding 
class and regarded the alleviation of the distress of the landlords of 
far more importance than the matter of justice to the laborers, 

supported the king by passing the famous Statute of 
Labourers Labourers, 1 in which an attempt was made to prescribe 

a regular scale of wages, corresponding to the rates paid 
before the appearance of the plague. The laborer who refused to 
work at such wages was to be put in the stocks. If he went into 
another shire in search of higher wages, he was to be branded in 
the forehead. These laws, harsh and cruel as they were senseless, 
only increased the sufferings of the poor and did not help the 
landlords. Yet they were reenacted again and again ; the penalties 
each time increasing in severity. Still the suffering and the con- 
fusion continued. Then] it dawned upon the king and his econo- 
mists that the cost of living had also risen, that not only had the 
cost of labor advanced but the cost of everything that labor pro- 
duced was also advancing, and that a man could not be expected to 
accept for a week's work wages which would not keep himself and 
his family for a day. So the king turned his attention to the 
regulation of prices. In this he was also guided by the popular 
prejudices of the hour. He turned upon the "forestallers," men 
who purchased in large quantities to sell later at retail. The people 
suspected the forestallers and hated them as they suspect and hate 

1 See Lee, Source Book, pp. 20a-208. 

1349-1369] ECONOMIC DISORDERS 375 

the promoters of trusts to-day and for the same reason; they 
believed that the forestallers aimed to exclude other tradesmen 
from buying, so that they might control the markets themselves, 
"thirsting after wicked gain.'" "Forestalling" therefore was for- 
bidden by law under pain of the pillory. Merchants also were for- 
bidden to bid against each other in the fish market, lest they should 
raise the price of fish. The king and his parliament might as 
well have legislated against the law of gravitation, provided they 
knew what the law of gravitation was. The discontent of the 
laboring element only increased ; the hostility of landowner and 
landless hardened into hatred; and since the landowner made the 
laws and wielded the power of the government, the landless man, 
as in the France of 1789, only waited for a leader and an occasion, 
to begin the burning of chateaus and the massacre of the noblesse 
and their bailiffs. In the meantime the Black Death came and 
went again; first in 1349, again in 13G9; each time leaving an 
aftermath of economic and social disorder. In vain the reeves or 
manor stewards attempted to force men to work for the wages 
prescribed by law. Their crops were in the field and must be 
gathered. They themselves were the first to weaken and seek labor 
at any price. In vain they sought to exact to the uttermost the 
services of those who still lived under the older system. In vain 
the government took fishmongers and forestallers in hand. 
Prices continued to rise, and wages continued to increase, and the 
interference of the government only exasperated the people and 
laid up t rou bio for the future. 

The war had now languished for eight years since the fall of 
Calais. There had been no formal peace, not even a trnce; yet 

, ,. , neither nation had the heart to renew the struffude in 

Influence of °° 

thepiaaue the presence of the Black Death or the economic or 
ui»>n the *■ 

"'"'• social distresses which had followed it. Neither party, 

however, had ceased to intrigue; a bitter partisan strife, also, smoul- 
dered in Brittany where the question of succession was not yet 
settled; open war occasionally flickered up on the Gascon border. 
In 1350 the Spanish, probably incited by French intrigue, 
attempted a descent upon the English coast. Edward went out 
with his fleet, and in the brilliant victory of "L'Espagnols sur 


mer" off Sluys, in which the feat of John Paul Jones off Flam- 
borough Head was repeated three several times, once by Edward 
himself, again vindicated his title of "King of the Sea." 

A week before this famous action Philip VI. had died and 
John of Normandy had succeeded him. Edward announced his 

willingness to renounce his claim to the French crown, 
mewar l i355 ^ John would cede him Gascony in full sovereignty. 

But John rejected the offer; and both sides prepared 
again for the active renewal of the war. 

Edward planned to strike France in three different places at 
once. One army was to land in Brittany and assist the Montforts, 

a second army led by the king was to descend upon 

[}lVCtS10Yl ()f 

Northern Normandy, where he expected help from the young 
Charles of Navarre, son-in-law of the French king, a 
dangerous and reckless youth of twenty-three who had quarreled 
with John over his daughter's dowry, and was perfectly willing to 
annoy his royal father-in-law by assisting Edward, although his 
title to the French crown, even according to Edward's way of 
reckoning, was better than Edward's. Nothing, however, came 
of either of these expeditions, and Edward returned shortly to repel 
a new invasion of the Scots. 

In the meantime the third expedition, under the young Prince of 
Wales, had landed at Bordeaux and begun a systematic plundering 
of the valley of the upper Garonne, passing by the cities, 
UuTSiack* * ^ut cu tting a wide swath through the open country of 
Prince 1355, Languedoc to the Mediterranean, — a veritable "march 
to the sea." The successes of the first year led the 
Black Prince to attempt to repeat the experiment the next year 
on the Loire. He advanced across Poitou, as in the pre- 
vious year ravaging the countryside and leaving a desolate 
wilderness behind him. All went well, until four miles from Poi- 
tiers, where the prince found himself confronted by a French 
army which outnumbered him seven to one. He was far from the 
Gascon frontier; his army was not only encumbered with prisoners 
and spoil, but all told did not number more than twelve thousand 
men. To retire was impossible; to fight was only to invite the 
destruction of thousands of brave men to no purpose. He offered, 




therefore, to surrender his prisoners and his spoil, and pledge his 
word not to fight again for seven years, if he might be allowed to 
withdraw. But John, who now at last saw an English army within 
his power, refused to grant any terms other than the unconditional 
surrender of the English prince and one hundred of his knights. 
At this the prince and his knights determined, rather than to lay 
down their arms in an unknightly way, to sell their lives as dearly 
as possible. 

The English with their usual skill, seeking to take all the 
advantage which a strong position might afford them, had drawn 
up their array on 
some high ground 
west of the farm of 
Maupertuis, pro- 
tected in front by a 
dense hedge which 
was broken in the 
middle by what 
was probably an or- 
dinary farming 
road. On the right 
the hill, or plateau, 
descended to a 
marsh drained by 
a small stream, be- 
yond which the ground again rose abruptly and was covered 
thickly with briars and bushes. The combination of 
ft!rmathm h ne ^g e > marsh, and rough ground beyond made an 
excellent cover for the English archers who were 
thus protected effectually from the enemy's horse. The English 
knights, with the exception of a small band reserved for skirmishing, 
were dismounted as at Crecy and drawn up in three divisions 
which after several maneuvers were finally arranged so that Salis- 
bury held the left wing, Warwick the center, and the Black Prince 
the right where he could support the archers in the marsh. 

King John was a better soldier than his father, but he was no 
match for a Plantageuet. Some of his knights, conspicuously a 

378 THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR [edwakd hi. 

Scotchman by the name of Dudley, thought that they had dis- 
covered the secret of the English strength, which they ascribed not 
The battle of ^° tne archery, but to the fact that the English men- 
s'eptemier a t-arms were accustomed to fight on foot, and per- 
nt,i356. snaded John to dismount his knights also, reserving 

only a small company of three hundred mounted French and a 
band of mounted Germans who were to ride down the English 
archers. With these men John began the battle in a vain attempt 
to break through the hedge. Again he attempted to storm the 
English position, sending forward the first division of his army 
under the command of his eldest son, Charles Duke of Normandy. 
The English arrow-flight riddled the French lines, and the division 
melted away; Charles and some eight hundred of his knights 
mounted their horses and fled from the field. The second division, 
under command of the king's brother, Philip Duke of Orleans, also 
lost heart and, apparently without striking a blow, marched from 
the field, leaving John with his third and last division to meet the 
counter attack of the whole English army led by the Black Prince 
in person. John himself fought like a lion, but he was outgen- 
eraled by Prince Edward, and his men were outfought by the Eng- 
lish. At last, taken both in front and rear, the third division also 
gave way. John refused to flee and with his youngest son Philip, 
who fought by his side, fell into the hands of the English. The 
battle had opened at nine o'clock, and by noon John was a captive 
in the tent of the Black Prince. 

The case of France was now pitiable enough. The disaster of 
Poitiers had come, not at the close of an era of prosperity, but after 

fifteen years of as bitter and cruel war as has ever 
Britufs a * ter desolated western Europe. Moreover, from the first, 

France had been uniformly unsuccessful in the war. 
She had suffered while her enemy had waxed fat and insolent. 
Then she had hardly ceased mourning for her dead after the 
disaster of Crecy, when the Black Death came creeping upon her 
from the south, afflicting her even more sorely than it afflicted 
England, for she was far less able to endure the scourge. It was 
upon this already desolate land that the disaster of Poitiers had 
fallen. The best of the nobility had been slain or taken ; the king 


was a prisoner, and the government demoralized. The Dauphin, 1 
who was hastily appointed regent, was an untried youth, his 
magnificent ability as yet unknown, and men feared to trust him. 
The riffraff of the two armies that had fought at Poitiers, troops 
of disbanded soldiers, infested the highways, and, forming them- 
selves into "free companies," fastened upon the countryside, liv- 
ing by plunder and rapine. The knights and nobles, also, who had 
been captured in the battle, having bargained with their captors for 
their ransom, returned to wrest the money from their peasant ten- 
ants, already distracted by present sufferings beyond measure. The 
wildest disorder prevailed. In 1358 the peasantry, the Jacquerie, 
rose against their lords, and to the fierce plundering of a lawless sol- 
diery, the attacks of tbe English, and the destitution and misery 
which had followed plague and famine,were now added the yet deeper 
horrors of a servile war. The regent summoned the States-Gen- 
eral, but only to increase the confusion by precipitating a war of 
classes, — the nobles and clergy against the Third Estate. Petrarch, 
who visited France about this time, wrote of the universal desola- 
tion which confronted him: "I could not believe that this was 
the same kingdom which I had seen so rich and flourishing. 
Nothing presented itself to my eyes but a fearful solitude, an 
extreme poverty, land uncultivated, homes in ruins, even the 
neighborhood of Paris manifested everywhere marks of destruc- 
tion and conflagration. The streets are deserted; the roads over- 
grown with weeds; the whole is a vast solitude." 

In tho meantime John had been treated right royally by his 
English captors; his entry into London was a pageant. Negotia- 
tions were opened and he agreed to cede to England the 
'nnr'in'i'i m» en t' re western seaboard of France including a district 
nearly equal in extent to tho original Angevin domin- 
ions. But the Estates were in no mood to accept terms so humili- 
ating, and promptly rejected them. Edward prepared for a 
renewal of the war. lie first, however, took advantage of the 

! In 1349 Philip VI. bought the domain of Humbert, Dauphin of 
Vienne, and ceded the district to Charles, his grandson, who took the 
name of the Dauphin, afterward the established title of the eldest son of 
the King of France. 


Edwarp III. 

death of Edward Balliol to put his relations with Scotland upon a 
more secure basis by releasing David, who had been in captivity 
since the day of Neville's Cross, and acknowledging again the inde- 
pendence of the kingdom. The Scots of course had to pay a round 
ransom for the return of their king and a second sum in addition 
in lieu of the claim which Edward renounced. In 1359 Edward 
was ready to begin operations on the continent, and with an 
army of one hundred thousand men started from Calais to march 
upon Rheims with the idea of having himself formally crowned 
king of France. He could not hope to feed such an army in a 
country already thrice a desert, so he carried with him his own 
provision train of eight thousand carts. The march was like a 
gala day parade. The Dauphin shut himself up in Paris and left 
his people to take care of themselves. Edward threw his vast host 
around Rheims and waited under its walls until January 13G0. 
Then he was compelled to raise the siege, for his eight thousand 
carts had now been eaten empty. He next turned upon Paris where 
he fared worse than at Rheims. . The winter was one of great 
severity and the English ere long were suffering more than the 
people within the city. Then at last, at the earnest entreaty of 
Pope Innocent VI., the Dauphin consented to sue for peace; but it 
was not until Edward had been fairly driven off by famine and had 
begun his march toward Brittany. 

The messengers of the regent, following the trail of starving 
men and horses, overtook Edward at Chartres. He was ready 
for peace; he could no longer blind himself to the vanity of 
attempting to unite the two crowns, and agreed to renounce all 
claims to the throne of France and to the ancient possessions of 
his house north of the Loire. The French king was to renounce 
on his part all suzerainty over the lands south of the Loire which 
had once belonged to Eleanor. Ponthieu with Calais were also to 
be ceded in full sovereignty to the English king, and John was to 
be ransomed for 3,000,000 crowns. The treaty was signed at 
Bretigny, near Chartres, May 8, 13G0. 




EDWARD III., 1360-1377 


Edward III. = Philippaof Hainault, 
k. 1327-1377 I d. 1369. 


the Black Prince, 

Duke of 


d. 1376 


Richard n. 

k. 1377-1399 

d. 1335 



Duke of 


d. 1368 


in Edmund 

Mortimer, Earl 

of March 

John of Gaunt, 

m. Blanche of 


d. 1399 


Duke of York, 

d. 1403 


Duke of 


d. 1397 

Henry IV. 
k. 1399-1413 

Duke of 
./. 1415 

Earl of 
d. 1415 

The last years of Edward III.'s reign were full of trouble. 
Edward himself was called upon to pay the penalty which nature 
so often exacts of prematurely developed mental and 




nenf physical powers; he was an old man long before his 

time. The brilliant successes of the war, moreover, 
had encouraged the baser elements of a nature which was by birth 
mean, selfish, and shallow ; nor could the glamour of court pageantry 
long hide the spuriousness of his character from the people, or 
conceal the fact that their glorious Edward was fading into a con- 
temptible little old man, decrepit in body, small of soul, and weak 
of will, the prey of politicians and court parasites. 

The nation also was now face to face with the inevitable results 
of long-continued war. The people were hardening under 

burdens which they could not bear. They were 
content <>f beginning to regard the landlord, once their patron and 

Unpeople. , , 6 X • I ,p, -vi a l 

protector, as their worst enemy. The titled clergy 
were the special objects of their hatred; not the humble 
priest and the friar, who were poor and suffered as the people 



suffered, but the mighty bishops and abbots, who controlled the 
government, made the laws, ground their tenants, and hoarded 
their wealth, or worse, sent it off to Eome to buy favors and pre- 
ferment, yet lifted not a finger to relieve the distress about them. 
The people, moreover, were not without leaders. New and strange 
voices were raised; startling doctrines were taught, — the rumbling 
of approaching upheaval. 

In the year 1360 all this was still below the surface. Edward's 

power was at zenith; his revenues were double what they had been 

when he ascended the throne thirty-three years before; 

Edward's . . » «i 1 1 • • 1 i 1 i 

power at his fleets rode the Channel; his armies had shattered 
the military might of France and one-half of her ter- 
ritories had been added to his kingdom. The magnificence of 
Edward's court had fully kept pace with his military triumphs. 
It was the most splendid in Europe. The king of France was his 
prisoner-guest. The king of Scotland waited upon him in person 
to secure some modification of the hard terms of his ransom. 
The king of Cyprus came from the distant east to secure the help 
of the mightiest captain of Christendom against the Turk. 

It was not long, however, before the first shadows began to fall 

across this fine pageant, dulling its glamour and filling the minds of 

the wise with foreboding. The Treaty of Bretigny 

Failure of , , , . « , . . . 

the Treaty of proved a complete failure as a basis for a permanent 
peace. The French people, sore burdened and dis- 
traught, could not raise the enormous ransom which had been 
pledged for the return of their king, and left him to die in exile. 
The other terms of the treaty also were never carried out. 
Edward had promptly organized the newly-acquired territories as 
the Duchy of Aqnitaine and had installed the Black Prince as 
duke, but the French king had never formally renounced his sover- 
eignty, neither had Edward renounced his claim to the French 
crown. But the most serious obstacle to the success of the 
treaty lay in the temper of the Aquitanians themselves. It was 
too late to dismember France. The new subjects of Edward 
regarded themselves as a part of France, and when they found that 
they had been abandoned by their king and turned over to a for- 
eign master, a bitter sorrow seized them. "We will obey the Eng- 

1360-1367] PEDRO THE CRUEL 383 

lish with our lips," said the good people of Rochelle, "but our 
hearts shall never be moved toward them." Geographically 
Aquitaine belonged to the great political system which the middle 
age was slowly but surely building up about the old Duchy of 
Francia, and there was no reason, other than the arbitrary decision 
of battle, for annexing this region to England. The fourteenth 
century was the era for the growing of nations; the time for the 
building of empires was not yet. 

The Treaty of Bretigny, therefore, in the nature of things, was 

only a truce and a very uncertain trace at that. Not so readily 

was England to shake herself loose from the complica- 

Pedro the 

cruel in tions which the unfortunate war with France had 
entailed; not so easily could she escape the penalty 
which a war of conquest always brings in its train. The old 
struggle continued to rage in Brittany, and when in 13G5 a crush- 
ing defeat of the French party definitely settled the succession in 
favor of John de Montfort, a new storm center suddenly devel- 
oped south of the Pyrenees. Pedro, known by the ugly but 
well merited nickname of "the Cruel," a crowned madman, had 
been ruling Castile for fifteen years. He had conducted his reign 
like a Dahomey chief rather than a Christian prince; destroying 
his leading nobles, assassinating his brothers, and poisoning his 
wife, the gentle and unoffending Blanche of Bourbon. By this 
last outrage Pedro had bitterly offended Charles V. the new king 
of France, whose wife was the sister of Blanche. He had 
already aroused the church, for he had not scrupled to 
put bishops to death, and, to complete his measure of wicked- 
ness, had entered into a formal league with the Mohammedan 
ruler of Granada. Pedro had thus raised up two powerful 
enemies, who might well think that any means would be justified 
in putting down this Spanish Caligula, and when the Castilian 
nobles found a leader in Henry of Trastamara, the illegitimate 
brother of Pedro, who by the law of the church could not inherit a 
crown, the pope had removed the bar by legalizing the birth, and 
Charles had furnished an army by authorizing his famous captain 
Bertrand du Guesclin to collect the "free companies" and lead 
them into Spain. Pedro, who did not dare to trust his subjects to 


fight for him, fled before the storm to seek comfort from the 
enemy of France. 

In an evil hour the Black Prince received Pedro in his court at 

Bordeaux. Wise counsellors, like Sir John Chandos, advised him 

to have nothing to do with the evil-minded king. But 

The Black , . , . » . . , , , -, , , , , 

Prince tlie chivalnc nature of the duke was touched by the 


misfortunes of a fellow prince. He also saw in the 
irregularity connected with the succession of the base-born Henry 
of Trastamara a threat to the rights of royalty based upon legiti- 
mate succession, and persuaded Edward III. and the parliament 
to consent to a proposal to restore Pedro to his throne. The 
prince met Henry and his allies at Navarrete, and added another to 
the series of brilliant victories which England has associated with 
his name; "a victory, however, of which every decent Englishman 
should be heartily ashamed." The generous and gentle Henry of 
Trastamara fled to Aragon, and the ferocious Pedro was once more 
established in Castile. When in Aquitaine the royal refugee had 
agreed to pay the wages of those who should enlist under the 
Black Prince and had pledged the treasures of his kingdom. But, 
now that he had his own again, he showed no disposition to keep 
his promise, and left the prince and his army "not only without 
money, but absolutely without food, on the burning plains of 
Castile." Here the Gascons died of famine and pestilence, while 
the miscreant king amused himself with fetes, wholesale slaughter, 
and assassination. At last "the gallant defender of royal rights" 

was glad to leave Spain, "with the loss of his soldiers 
September, an( j f hi s m0 ney and of his health, befooled and cheated 

in one of the worst causes in which English blood and 
English treasure have ever been squandered on the continent of 
Europe." 1 He had won new glory, but he had incurred a serious 
debt, with the odium, also, of fighting in a bad cause. 

Henry of Trastamara returned to Castile the next year, caught 
his brother in a trap and slew him; and thus the matter ended as 
far as the civil war in Spain was concerned. Not so the Black 
Prince; after straining every resource to meet the obligations 
incurred by the war, the best that he could do for the still unpaid 

1 Burke, History of Spain, I, p. 311. 

1368, 1369] THE HEARTH-TAX 385 

"companies," was to offer them half pay with license to levy the 

rest on the subjects of the French king. But the young duke 

could not so easily satisfy the claims of his merce- 

The hearth- . ,»i, »,, •• 

hue ami the naries i only a few took advantage ot the permission to 

Aquitaniam. _, . , ,. * ,. 

enter French territory, and the prince was compelled 
to cast about for some new method of raising money. In an 
evil hour he was persuaded to propose the levy of a hearth-tax, 
the most vexations and unjust of all methods of taxation, since it 
fell upon the humblest Aqnitanian peasant who cooked his scanty 
meal on his hearth fire, as well as on the rich landlord. The 
nobles of Aquitaine refused to consent to the levy, and when the 
duke persisted in his demand, they appealed to the king of France 
to protect them. Charles, always wise and sure-footed, had no 
intention of committing himself to a renewal of the war with the 
English until he was certain of his ground. So he waited a year 
to give the Aquitanians a chance to know their own mind and to 
prepare himself and his people for the struggle. Then he resumed 
the overlordship of Aquitaine, and summoned the duke to Paris to 
answer the complaints of his vassals. The prince replied with 
characteristic spirit that he would come, but only with helmet on 
head and sixty thousand men at his back. The response of Charles 
was a declaration of war, contemptuously sent by a kitchen scullion. 
The English soon found that they had a new kind of antagonist 
to deal with in the young French king; a man who despised 

chivalry and its nonsense, and saw no glamour in war; 

Ttie French w hose bodily infirmities forbade him to lead armies, but 

<nti>i>t new J '. 

'",','•""'* °t who knew men, and from the quiet seclusion of his castlo 
with unerring wisdom observed events and selected his 
instruments. The French king saw, moreover, that in any cam- 
paign upon his own territory the invader must sooner or later 
retire baffled and beaten, if only he could be prevented from fight- 
ing battles. lie also fully realized the uselessness of continuing to 
pit feudal levies against the trained soldiers of England, and 
steadily substituted the professional soldier for the feudal knight; 
placing in command not his dukes and counts, whose claim to 
preferment rested merely upon their social alliances, but trained 
warriors like Bertraud du Guesclin, men who were conspicuous for 


tried abilities rather than for high birth, and who thoroughly 
understood their business of war. For this modern method of war 
vast sums were needed; these soldiers of fortune had to be paid in 
hard gold; yet the shrewd business ability of Charles did not fail 
him. He understood the art of economizing and getting the 
most out of his limited resources, as well as the art of find- 
ing men. 

In 1370 the French entered Aquitaine; the Black Prince with 

shattered health and wasted treasury, with the country largely in 

sympathy with the invaders, could only look on, while 

The French 

reconqxiest the disaffected towns opened their gates and received 

of Aquitaine. , . . 

Trench garrisons. But when the episcopal city of 

Limoges surrendered, he roused himself from his sick bed with 
the desperate resolve to retake the traitorous city, and although 
he was forced to conduct the siege from his litter, he inspired his 
troops with such energy that in spite of the heroic efforts of both 
garrison and citizens the city fell. No mercy was shown to the 
unfortunate inhabitants; men, women, and children were put to 
the sword. A body of knights who had determined to sell their 
lives dearly, won the compassion of Edward and were spared for 
their knighthood; an act of spurious mercy, fully in keeping with 
the debased chivalry of the fourteenth century. The "Mirror of 
Chivalry" could spare knighthood, but look on with cold indiffer- 
ence while the women and little children, who had never given any 
offense, sobbed for mercy at his feet. The massacre at Limoges 
has no rival in civilized warfare. Even the Sepoys at Cawnpore 
might plead their wrongs and the teaching of centuries of barbar- 
ism. The recapture of Limoges was the last exploit of the Black 
Prince. The next year he returned to England a dying man. 

The war in the meanwhile continued; the prestige of the Eng- 
lish faded; their power in the newly conquered provinces dis- 
integrated. Their armies marched hither and thither, 

TlfVCTHCiS of 

Enaiuih but no battles were fought. Cities that consented to 
"blackmail" were spared; the rest were plundered and 
burned. A bitter hatred, fed upon such scenes as those of 
Limoges, took possession of the population and made them ready 
to receive even the ruffians who followed du Guesclin as saviors. 


In 1372 Edward sent out an expedition under the command of 

Earl John of Pembroke, who had been appointed lieutenant of 

Aquitaine in consequence of the declining health of the 

June22, , 23, Black Prince. Pembroke proposed to invade France 


by way of Rochelle; but he was so long in getting 
started, that his plans were well known to the French, and when at 
last he reached his destination, he found a powerful Spanish fleet 
lying in wait for him in the harbor. The English fought with 
great bravery, but their ships were outclassed by the huge Spanish 
deckers, and after a two days' fight, their fleet was sank, and Pem- 
broke and his surviving captains were loaded with chains and borne 
away to the prisons of Spain. The English had met with no such 
reverse since Edward III. began his reign; the supremacy on the 
seas, which they had enjoyed since Sluys, was at an end; they 
could no longer support their armies in the field, and a French 
invasion of England was a possibility of the near future. This 
was Henry of Trastamara's requital for the support which England 
had given to Pedro the Cruel. 

The disaster at Rochelle, the reports of other reverses in 
Aquitaine following each other in quick succession, roused Edward 
to make one more attempt before the summer should end to relieve 
his distressed garrisons, and on the 30th of August he himself 
embarked with the Black Prince at Southampton. The fleet con- 
sisted of four hundred ships and had on board four thousand men- 
at-arms and ten thousand archers. The equipment had cost the 
government the incredible sum of £90,000. But after five weeks 
of useless struggling against contrary winds, Edward returned to 
port and the expedition upon which so much had been expended 
was abandoned. The people, whose consciences rested none too 
easily under the discouragement of repeated misfortune, saw in the 
contrary winds a direct interposition of Providence. God they 
said was now plainly for the king of France. 

In the autumn and winter of 1372 the French continued to 
reduce the strongholds of Aquitaine, and in the spring du Guesclin 
invaded Brittany with a large army. The English made new 
exertions to fit out a relief expedition and finally saw it depart in 
June under the command of John of Gaunt, the king's fourth 


son. The danger of approaching Aquitaine by sea was now so 
great that it was determined to land at Calais and attempt to 
John of relieve the southern garrisons by marching across 

France in i373 France. Charles, "that mysterious man, who never 
took the field himself, nor allowed his armies to fight 
if they could avoid it," simply strengthened his castles and 
watched the enemy, giving strict orders to his generals under no- 
conditions to hazard a battle. The French, also, burned over the 
country before the invading army, leaving nothing to feed man 
or beast. These measures were heroic but were fully justified by 
the results. The march of the English resembled a retreat. 
The winter caught them amid the mountains of Auvergne, and 
when at last they reached Bordeaux, all that was left of the "mag- 
nificent army," which had marched out of Calais six months 
before, was a horde of miserable fugitives, disorganized and dis- 
heartened. They had marched across France, a distance of six 
hundred miles; they had endured incredible hardships, and all to 
no purpose. The English could send no other reinforcements; 
in a few months only Bordeaux and Bayonne remained in their 
hands. The next year they were glad to accept a truce, which 
continued in force theoretically until Edward's death. 

Thus the tables had been completely reversed; the prestige of 

the English had not only been swept away, but they had been left 

with hardly a foothold, where a few years before they 

of English had been the unquestioned masters. Their govern- 

ment, moreover, was bankrupt and their splendid king 
fast sinking into the gloom of a dishonored old age. These 
changes were not the result of a mere freak of fortune. France 
was now better governed than England; her administration better 
ordered; her armies better equipped and better disciplined; her 
king was a better man. The frugality, almost parsimony of his 
court was in marked contrast with the wasteful prodigality of 
Edward's court; the quiet atmosphere which pervaded the sol- 
itary castles where he met his counsellors and planned his cam- 
paigns or directed the administration of his kingdom, with the 
bickering and intrigue, the wholesale corruption and general demor- 
alization which surrounded Edward. 


The good Queen Philippa had died in 1369, and soon after her 

death Edward had become blindly infatuated with a young woman 

of her household named Alice Perrers. He lavished 

ThedemarcO- U p u her the late queen's jewels. He paraded her 

nation of * n j r 

Edward's through the streets attired as "The Lady of the Sun." 
court. ° _ J 

lie suffered her to interfere in affairs of state and sit 
with the royal judges when she wished to influence their decisions. 
He allowed her to load him into the wildest extravagance, while 
she secretly leagued with other favorites, as avaricious and shame- 
less as herself, to speculate in the claims of the king's disheartened 
creditors. The adult children of the king, who ought to have 
steadied his steps to the grave, gave him little support. The 
broken health of the Black Prince had compelled him to retire 
from public life. Lionel Duke of Clarence, a third son, 1 had died 
the year before Queen Philippa. John of Gaunt, the fourth son, 
instead of protecting his father did not scruple to join with Alice 
Perrers and the other parasites of the court in order to wheedle 
favors out of the doting old king. 

The high offices of the state were in the hands of the clergy; 
but they had lost the sympathy of the people and had roused the 

bitter hostility of the baronage, and particularly of the 
ITuucourL creatures who surrounded the king. To this latter 
Lancaster? das 8 belonged John of Gaunt. This powerful but 

unprincipled man had married Blanche, the daughter 
and heiress of Henry of Lancaster, and with the titles and vast 
estates he had also succeeded to the traditions of this ancient 
house. He was the recognized leader of the old conservative 
wing of the baronage, and was in full sympathy with its narrow 
class feeling; he saw nothing to be commended in the rising power 
of the commons, and scoffed at the new ideas which had found 
lodgment in the constitution; he did all that he could, moreover, 
to develop hostility to the clergy, begrudging their wealth, and 
claiming for himself and his friends a monopoly of the public 
offices of the kingdom. Such a man could never become a great 
popular leader. The people missed that high-toned self-respect 
which had characterized Karl Simon, and refused to trust the 
1 Edward's S3Cond son William had died in 1335. 


prince even when he tried to win their favor. Yet John of Gaunt 
was an exceedingly dangerous man. A powerful reactionary spirit 
was everywhere quickening into action, and although no one 
credited him with any patriotic motive, he was allowed to put him- 
self at the head of the reaction, its real interests, and use 
its influence to further the factional strifes of the court. 

Opposed to this Lancastrian court party was a second faction 
of the barons whose natural leader was Edmund Mortimer, the earl 
of March, the great-grandson of that Roger Mortimer 
™ e t£% P of in ° who had been hanged at the Elms for his misdeeds in 
TteZri^f the early years of Edward's reign. He had married 
March. Philippa, the daughter of the late earl of Clarence, and 

had the interests of his wife "and son to maintain against the ambi- 
tions of John of Gaunt. He was, therefore, the natural ally of 
the clerical party, represented by the chancellor, William of 
Wykeham, the bishop of Winchester, who as head of the govern- 
ment was the special object of the enmity of John of Gaunt and 
the favorites. 

Independently of these factions of the court there had also 

grown up in the nation at large a vigorous and energetic party 

whose purpose was ecclesiastical reform ; who protested 

Thereform no t against the church but the abuses of the church ; 
party. ° 

not against the clergy but against their useless wealth, 

their extravagance, their worldly ambition and heartless indiffer- 
ence to the sufferings of the poor; not against the papacy as an 
institution, but against the interference of the pope in English 
affairs, and the indirect taxation of the English church through 
the "provisions" which the pope was still in the habit of making 

for his Italian servants. In 1351 parliament had passed 
Pmviaon, the Statute of Provisors, which made the recipient of a 
p'rdmunire, papal provision liable to imprisonment and forfeiture. 

In 1353 the even more important Statute of Prm- 
munire had directly attacked the appellate jurisdiction of the 
Roman Curia by making it a serious crime for any English- 
man to appeal from the decision of an English court to a 
foreign court. In 1366, also, Urban V. had very unwisely 
put a new weapon in the hands of the reform party by making a 

1366-1372] DISMISSAL OF WYKEHAM 391 

formal demand upon the English king for the payment of the 
tribute which John had once pledged to Innocent III. During 
the great part of Henry III.'s reign this tribute had been paid, 
though not regularly. Edward I. had refused, but Edward II. 
had resumed the payment. Edward III. had again refused, 
and for thirty years the pope had missed his annual gift of 1,000 
marks from the English king. The pope was now unwise enough to 
send to England a demand for the renewal of the tribute and for the 
payment of the arrears in full. The moment was not well chosen. 
The English government was burdened with debt; the people 
were restless and dissatisfied ; a powerful and growing party among 
the nobility were jealous of the monopoly of the high offices of 
state by the clergy, and were eagerly waiting for some pretext for 
open attack. The king submitted the pope's claim to parliament, 
and although parliament made short work of it by denying the 
right of King John to enter into any such compact, the discussion 
aroused was most unfortunate because it helped to turn the eyes 
of the nation from the much-needed reforms within the church to 

the abuses which had sprung up in the borderland 
character of where the interests of church and state came into con- 

tact, and deflected the activity of the reformers from 
the moral to the political field, making such men as Wyclif 
the tools of John of Gaunt and the other politicians, who were 
bending all their energies to drive the churchmen out of the 
state offices and secure them for themselves. In 1371 the opposi- 
tion believed themselves strong enough to open a direct attack 
upon the ecclesiastical office-holders, and persuaded parliament to 
petition the crown: "Whereas the government has been carried on 
by men of Holy Church, who are not justifiable in many cases, 
from which great mischief and damages have come in time past 
and more may happen in time to come; therefore, laymen being 
able and sufficient, none other shall be made chancellors, barons 
of the exchequer, or shall be appointed to other great offices 
of state for the future." The petition shows the drift of 
popular opinion at the time and prepares us for the dismissal 
of William of Wykeham and his fellow ecclesiastics the next 


The new lay officials who took the place of the deposed ecclesi- 
astics had to experience the common lot of a party long out of 
office when suddenly entrusted with a vast and delicate 
the new machinery, the safe management of which depends 

government. . ., , , ... m , r 3 

upon experience quite as much as good will. They had 
charged the ecclesiastical ministers with sluggishness in the con- 
duct of the war. To justify the charge, therefore, they were 
bound to take the war in hand and push it vigorously. But how 
should they secure the money? They hesitated to tax the great 
landholding middle class or to lay hands on the goods of commerce. 
As astute politicians they shrank from incurring the odium of the 
class which controlled the parliaments. They turned, therefore, 
upon the hated churchmen, and proposed to raise the money 
needed by a direct tax of 22s. 3d. on every parish of the kingdom, 
but taken from lands "which since the eighteenth year of Edward 
I. had passed into mortmain." There was this to justify such an 
action: lands held in mortmain were exempt from feudal service 
and hence bore no share of ordinary taxation. Transfers in mort- 
main, also, had been illegal since the passage of the Statute 
of Mortmain in the reign of Edward I. Tactically, however, the 
measure was a serious blunder. By a strange miscalculation, pos- 
sibly due to the lack of experience of the new financiers quite as 
much as to the fault of existing statistics, the ministers overesti- 
mated the number of parishes in England by about five times. 
This compelled the government to increase the tax per parish 
from 22s. to 116s., in order to produce the sum required by the 
budget, and gave only too much ground for the cry of the church 
party, that they were the objects of malicious persecution and 
were being robbed in the name of the state. A singular misfor- 
tune, moreover, attended the efforts of the new councillors to 
prosecute the war. The fleet which was raised with the money 
taken from the clergy was the one which Pembroke lost at Rochelle 
in 1372. Then Edward III. led his ships out of Southampton to 
be driven back again by adverse winds, and the next year John of 
Gaunt led his ill-fated expedition into the heart of France. At 
home in the meantime, while English ships were sunk at sea and 
English soldiers were dying like flies on the fatal march across 


France, the court was openly parading its shame; Alice Ferrers 
was allowed to traffic in her influence with the king, and her 
favorites traded in the claims of his hapless creditors. 

Mismanagement, extravagance, overwhelming failure, the 

scandals of the court, and the evident helplessness of the king, at 

last brought on the inevitable reaction. In 137G the 

Jn<; rc "/ht° n ' l^ ac k Prince came forth from his seclusion, and, making 

'*'"'"/ PorH °- common cause with William of Wykeham and the earl 

lilt IK. •* 

of March, put himself at the head of the opposition. 
In the parliament known as the "Good Parliament," which met in 
April, Peter de la Mare, steward of the earl of March, who had been 
elected speaker, proceeded with great boldness to discuss the misman- 
agement of the government, and demanded an account of recent re- 
ceipts and expenditures before new supplies should be granted. The 
duke of Lancaster bullied and blustered. "What do these base and 
ignoble knights attempt? Do they think they be kings or princes 
of the land? I deem they know not what power I be of. I will 
therefore in the morning appear unto them so glorious, and will 
show sucli power among them, and with such vigor will terrify 
them, that neither they nor theirs shall dare henceforth to provoke 
me to wrath." But de la Mare was supported by men who were 
not to be dazzled by the prince's glory or frightened by his blus- 
ter. A new council was organized; William of Wykeham was 
restored and the duke of Lancaster was sent into retirement. 
The parliament then began a direct attack upon three mem- 
bers of the council, Latimer, Lyons, and Neville, and also upon 
Alice Perrers. "Their method of attack was almost as im- 
portant as the attack itself, for the Commons proceeded by 
impeaching the accused before the House of Lords. In this 
method of procedure the House of Commons, as a body, appears 
as prosecutors. The lords act as judges; hear the evidence 
brought by the managers before the Commons, their speeches upon 
it, and the answer of the accused, and finally pronounce by a 
majority the verdict and sentence." Lyons had the impudence to 
attempt to save himself by sending to the Black Prince a bribe 
of £1,000, done up in a cask "as if it had been a barrel of 
sturgeon." Latimer and Lyons were found guilty of robbing the 


king under the guise of lending him money ; Neville of trading in 
the king's debts; but strange to say, the most serious charge they 
could make good against Alice Perrers was a violation of an ordi- 
nance which forbade a woman to practice in a court of law. 

Before the sitting of the Good Parliament was concluded the 
Black Prince died. His death at once brought forward the ques- 
tion of the succession. The parliament greatly feared 
Black Prince, the ambition of John of Gaunt, and, believing him capa- 
ble of any crime, the Commons entreated the king to 
bring them the little "Richard of Bordeaux," the son of the Black 
Prince, that he might be formally honored as the heir to the crown. 
They also persuaded the king to strengthen his council by the 
addition of ten more members representing the popular party. 

In July the Good Parliament broke up with the feeling that 
all had been done well; but the members had hardly reached their 
Return of homes before John of Gaunt resumed his old place, 
Gmmfto Alice Perrers was brought back, the late speaker was 
power. arrested and put in prison, and a long list of charges 

brought against William of Wykeham. The new members of the 
council, also, were denied a seat, and of a list of one hundred and 
forty petitions, embodying the grievances for which the Good 
Parliament had humbly sought redress, not one received the assent 
of the crown. In January 1377 a new parliament was summoned, 
packed to suit the ideas of John of Gaunt, and the work of the 
Good Parliament was speedily undone. The new parliament also 
wrestled with the question of supplies, and signalized itself by vot- 
ing a poll tax of 4d. on all persons, male or female, over fourteen 
years of age, a kind of tax "hitherto unheard of." 

While the party of John of Gaunt were thus carrying things 
with a high hand in the council and in the parliament, convocation 
was preparing to take up the cudgels in defense 
wucUf U i3T7 °* tne canron ' The un just attack upon Wykeham, 
had roused the churchmen to strike back. They could 
not reach John of Gaunt directly, but they could strike him by 
attacking his ally and supporter John Wyclif. This remarkable 
man had first appeared in Oxford as a student. He had soon made 
himself master of the existing scholastic system and won a reputa- 

1361-1376] JOHN WYCLIF 395 

tion among the distinguished scholars of the university. He was 
also a controversialist of rare powers. He was by temperament 
witty and ever inclined to give a humorous turn to an argument; 
his mind was acute and well sharpened by long training in the 
methods of the scholastic philosophy. His personal character, 
also, was beyond reproach, and his genial, sunny nature had 
won him many friends. In 1361 he had become master of Balliol. 
He had also taken a prominent part in a conflict which had been 
stirred up against the influence of the mendicant orders at the uni- 
versity. In 13G6 he had boldly assailed the pope's claim of feudal 
supremacy over England, publicly defending the action of parlia- 
ment in refusing to continue the annual tribute. Two years later 

he had more formally set forth his views in his "Theory 
Dm^uTms °^ Dominion," the famous De Dominio Divino, in which 

he asserted that all right of dominion must depend 
upon true relations with God, the supreme suzerain of the uni- 
verse; that kings are vicars of God as truly as popes, and that the 
state is as sacred as the church. Such views had naturally 
attracted a man like John of Gaunt, who was not over-shrewd even 
for a politician, who, while failing to comprehend the remote logical 
application of Wyclif 's theories in establishing the responsibility 
of the individual and the liberty of the individual conscience, 
thought only of the support which the views of Wyclif would give 
to a party built up ostensibly upon the principle of opposition to 
the usurpations of churchmen in the state. Wyclif on his part 
had accepted the alliance, apparently, without question. Did he 
know the real character of the man whom he thus supported? 
The vicious and unscrupulous baron, who ostentatiously paraded his 
principles in order to cloak his motives, and the high-minded and 
single-hearted doctor to whom double dealing was an impossibility, 
were surely a strange team to be yoked together. Yet, happily or 
unhappily, they found themselves in accord upon the one point, 
that it was high time that the fine feathers of the church should 
be plucked and that the clergy should be reduced to their simple 
spiritual functions. John of Gaunt, therefore, had found in Wyclif 
a useful ally, and had taken him to Bruges in 1374 in order to 
negotiate the truce with France and also to bring the pope to agree 


to some adjustment of the matter of provisors, as well as to argue 
in general the relation of England and the papacy. 

It was natural, therefore, that Wyclif should share in the 
opprobrium which had fallen upon John of Gaunt's government, 

and that the clerical party should single him out for 
fficitf 110 * a tk ac k as a counter to the attack upon Wykeham. He 

was accordingly summoned to appear before a commit- 
tee of bishops at St. Paul's in London. John of Gaunt assumed 
the duty of protecting him and seeing fair play. The people, who 
were deeply interested in the trial because of its political bearing, 
also came in great numbers and packed the hall. Wyclif was the 
last to enter, and when the judges left him standing, Henry 
Percy, the friend of Lancaster, who had come with him to the 
trial, ordered a seat to be given to the prisoner. The judges 
refused and a bitter altercation followed in which the people finally 
took part; the whole affair ended in a riot. The duke of Lan- 
caster fled to Kensington where he was protected by the widow of 
the Black Prince, who was very popular with the Londoners. 
Although the duke had come out of the affair without much dig- 
nity, he had perhaps accomplished his purpose. The trial had 
been broken up, and Wycliff had been saved, at least from a 
formal condemnation by the ministers of the church. 

The attempted trial of Wyclif was held in February. On June 
21 Edward III. breathed his last, and with his death the schemes 

of John of Gaunt for the time came to an end. So 
wardiIi Ed ~ en ^ e & Ul it s fifty-first year the long reign of Edward the 
Imoortanf 7 ' kittle. Its features of greatest importance, if not of 
htereum* greatest interest to the ordinary reader, are not his 

dramatic campaigning and his brilliant victories; but 
first, the increasing authority of parliament; second, the beginnings 
of social and religious revolution; and third, a genuine revival of 
national feeling, which found expression in a new English liter- 
ature and gave new importance and dignity to the English lan- 

First, the reign of Edward III. is marked by a steady increase 
in the authority of parliament as a factor in the government. The 
Statute of York, 1322, had definitely established the right of 


the Commons to a share in the deliberations of parliament. 

During the early part of Edward III.'s reign the knights of 

the shire began regularly to sit with the representatives 


dignity <if the of the towns 1 and thus greatly enhanced the dignity 
Common*. .... ... ., 

and importance of the inferior house, enabling it to 
claim a voice in the government of the nation and to defend the 
liberties of the people in a way which was not possible as long as 
it was composed of simple deputies whose sole function was to 
consent to taxation or to advise upon matters of trade. 2 

The advance in the dignity and usefulness of the Commons was 
only a phase of a general increase in the activity and authority of 

parliament as a whole, largely a result of the Hundred 
avilvih[an\i Years' War. Frequent sessions were necessary; dur- 
nm'umnent ' n & ^ on & P er i°ds the parliaments were virtually annual. 3 

The well-known shiftiness of the king, his frequent 
attempts to secure money contrary to the spirit of the laws as con- 
firmed by Edward I., required the utmost watchfulness and devel- 
oped a clearness of vision and boldness, as well, worthy of the days 
of Pym and Hampden. As a result of this faithful persistence in 
holding the king to the paths prescribed by the laws, three very 
important constitutional principles, all bearing directly upon the 
authority of parliament, and all more or less clearly expressed in 
formal law, passed into definite practice: 1. No legislation could be 
binding upon the nation without the concurrence of both houses. 
2. The king might not raise money by taxes, loans, or otherwise, 
without the consent of parliament; any such attempt on the 
king's part was henceforth illegal, and it was within the right of 
the subject to resist the king's officers who sought thus to take his 
property. John Hampden could not go farther. 3. The king's 
ministers were directly responsible to parliament and might be 

1 This change must have taken place before 1347. See Taswell- Lang- 
mead, p. 220. 

2 Taswell-Langmead, pp. 220, 221. 

3 There are 48 recorded sessions during the 50 years of Edward III.'s 

* For summary of the steps by which these principles passed into prac- 
tice, see Taswell-Langmead, pp. 226-334. 


Second, the reign of Edward III. witnessed the beginnings of 

great social and religions movements which were to result on the 

one hand in the abolition of villainage in England and 

rciiyimm on the other in the complete severance of England from 

movement* of - z 

Edward in'.'* the great European system represented by the papacy. 
Edward and his ministers had little to do with the first 
of these movements, save to accelerate it by their foolish Statute 
of Labourers. New conditions made villainage no longer a paying 
institution and the landlord was forced to accept other relations to 
the laboring class. With the second of these movements Edward 
had much to do. The contiguity of the papal court to France, 
the undoubted French influence at Avignon, involved the popes 
even against their will in the hostility which a generation of war 
had bred in the breasts of Englishmen against the French nation, 
teaching them to look upon the papacy as a foreign institution. 
The continued demands of the papacy, its interference in the 
ecclesiastical affairs of England, also, opened the eyes of English- 
men to the real significance of the appellate jurisdiction of the 
pope's court and the claim of the pope to appoint to English liv- 
ings. The Statute of Provisors and the Statute of Praemunire 
are the first paragraphs of the English Declaration of Independ- 
ence. It was impossible, furthermore, for such a movement to stop 
simply with an attack upon the political authority of the pope. 
The abuses which had crept into the church were too widespread 
and flagrant, the sufferings of the people were too acute. Men 
were not lacking who dared to proceed from institutions to 
doctrines, and question the foundations of the entire ecclesiastical 
system. This religious revival, however, associated with the name 
of Wyclif, really belongs to the next generation and must not be 
confused with the estrangement.of the English government and the 
papacy, which began with Edward III. 

Third, the reign of Edward III. is marked by a pronounced 
growth of the national spirit. The traits of nationality had begun 
to develop even before the Norman Conquest and had continued 
in a steady and sturdy growth. Yet some elements were still 
lacking. The Englishman had a language of his own and the 
beginnings of a literature, but he had not learned either to respect 


the one or to love the other. The Latin had never yielded its place 
as the language of the church and the university. The pliant and 
nimble French had displaced the more uncouth English in the 
court and in the schools. William the Conqueror had tried to 
learn English but with poor success. Other kings had not made 
the effort at all. Even Edward III. spoke English with difficulty. 
Ralph Higden, a writer of the times, deplores the custom of com- 
pelling English boys, against the practice of all other nations, to 
construe their lessons in French ; a practice, which he declares, 
had been followed since the Norman Conquest. The French had 
also invaded the law courts and the parliaments. It had taken pos- 
session of the shops and was fast becoming the language of trade 
and commerce. Since the beginning of the war, however, the 
hostility of the English toward the French people had extended to 
their language and the use of the foreign tongue had rapidly fallen 
off. In 1362 the people had become so unaccustomed to the 
French that the law courts were ordered by statute to conduct 
their proceedings in English. 1 In 1363 for the first time the 
chancellor opened parliament with a speech in English. 

The vigor with which the English were turning to their own 
tongue again is also shown in the great literary creations of the 

next reign which are associated with the names of 
masterpieces Wyclif, Langland, and Chaucer. Wyclif discarded the 

ponderous Latin of the university and spoke directly to 
the people in the homely speech of the plowboy and the village 
smith: "Let clerks enditen in Latin, and let Frenchmen 
in their French also enditen their quaint terms, for it is 
kindly to their months, but let us show our fantaseys in such 
words as were learnden of our dames tongue." Innumerable 
tracts, but most of all his English Bible, masterpieces all of the 
simple chaste English of the people in their best moments, show 
how well Wyclif kept to his purpose. 

Of William Langland little is known save his poem, "The 
Vision of Piers Plowman." The poem is a running satire of the 
time, presented in the form of a vision or dream, in which in 
a plain "full of folk," the dreamer watches the mad struggle for 

1 The records were still kept in Latin. 


place and pelf, so unseemly in men of high calling. He deplores 
the evil practices of the church; he beholds Lady Mead, — re- 
ward or bribery, — obtaining bishoprics for fools; he 

William , a „ . . , , f • • , . . , 

Langiand. draws droll pictures of the hunting priest, lazy, jovial, 

Piers hard drinking, who comes to church iiist in time to 

Plowman. . ,. , ° . „ , , J 

hear the Ma missa est; but finds only severe words 

for the professional pardoners and the herd of knaves who traffic in 
holy things. Yet he has no thought of doing away with the church, 
the hierarchy, or its doctrines, and only prays for its amendment 
from the pope down. 

The same wholesome sense, a desire for reform rather than 
revolution, is revealed in Langland's view of the political society of 
his day. His sympathies are with the people, yet there is place 
and need for all the great ones in the well-ordered England. The 
king is necessary as the head of the state to rule the commons and 
"holy kirke and clergy fro cursede men to defende." King and 
parliament are the law-makers ; the knights defend the priest and 
the laborer; the merchant's wealth must restore the broken bridges 
and support the scholars. Even lovely ladies with their "longe 
fyngres" have their tasks with the needle. But supporting all, 
feeding all, is the humble plowman, Piers, bending to his daily 
toil, patient as his oxen. The teaching of the poem is wholesome 
and sound. The welfare of the state depends upon the harmony 
and mutual support Of all classes. The great have their tempta- 
tions which they may avoid by marrying Lady Mead to Sir 
Knight Conscience. Piers Plowman is not to be despised. 
Ho is the main support of the state. In his humble, unadorned, 
but honest life, free from the elements that lead other men astray, 
Truth finds a congenial home. 

Unlike Langland, Chaucer is the poet of the court. The art 
and elegance of the French love poets are his, in marked contrast 
with the unadorned alliterations of Langland. His 
spirit, moreover, is of the Renaissance, nor does he hesi- 
tate to draw his themes from Petrarch or Boccaccio. His sym- 
pathy is with the upper classes. He is neither religious reformer, 
nor social reformer. He bears no burdens. He loves life for its 
own sake, and sees in the foibles of those about him, themes 


whereon to make merry rather than to mourn. His days were 
passed in the midst of business and pleasure. He was courtier, 
traveler, office holder, and pensioner; nor was he wanting in that 
variety of fortune which so often falls to one who is dependent 
upon the smile of the great for daily bread. His pictures of life 
and manners, particularly of the clergy, are not therefore always 
to be taken in full confidence. Like Wyclif , he was a partisan of 
John of Gaunt, and reflects the views which prevailed among the 
men of that following. He had, however, none of the reformer's 
sincerity of purpose. Nor can we avoid suspecting the honesty 
of a man who conld thus lament the downfall of Pedro the 
Cruel, the passing favorite of the English court: 

" O noble, O worthy Pedro, glory of Spain, 
Whom fortune held so high in majesty." 

His best known book is the "Canterbury Tales," written prob- 
ably in the later years of his life and left incomplete. He brings 

together at the Tabard Inn in London, a company of 
bunfrak« men anc ^ women from various classes of society, all bound 

on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the popular Thomas a 
Becket of Canterbury. Here, then, in the stories and conversa- 
tions of the pilgrims, as they lope along in the easy, rocking can- 
ter, the favorite Canterbury gallop, is the England of the 
fourteenth century in miniature; its dress, its foibles, its heart 
songs and its laughter, its meanness and its weakness. Here is 
the "very perfect gentle knight," just returned from his battles 
and adventures in the wars, accompanied by his squire; the sturdy 
yeoman, he who gave such good account of himself at Crecy and 
Poitiers, who with professional pride keeps his good bow like an 
experienced archer. There is also the hunting monk, who cares 
not a groat for the rules of his order ; the mendicant friar, a sturdy 
beggar, "wanton and merry;" the summoner whose fiery face is a 
terror to the children ; the pardoner with his wallet "brimful of 
pardons come from Rome all hot," who can rake in more money 
from a country parish than the parson can get in two months, an 
arrant knave who knows more than one trick of wheedling the 
coppers out of the purses of simple country folk. Then, too, there 



is the brighter side of church life; the gentle, dainty prioress is 
there wiih her courtly French lisp, her refined manners and tender 
heart ; the earnest parson, poor, loving, and self-sacrificing, the 
salt of the church to keep it all from rotting. Of the learned 
classes, the physician, the lawyer, and the Oxford student are also 
there; other characters also, such as the merchant, the miller, the 
cook, the reeve, and finally the plowman, suggesting the inspira- 
tion of Langland, as the parson suggests Wyclif. These characters 
are not allegories or mythical creatures of the past, but the real 
men and women of the England of the fourteenth century, who 
bore its burdens and felt its sorrows; the men who fought out the 
Hundred Years' War, who caught the glow of the morning and 
made merry in the conscious sense of the new life which was 
at hand ; a life which they could feel, but could not comprehend. 



Philip IV., d. 1314 
IxMiis X., d. 1316 
Philip V., d. 1323 
Chas. IV.. d. 1328 
Philip VI., d. 1350 
John, d. 1364 
Charles V. 

Era of Babylonian Captivity, 

Began with Clement V., 1305- 
1314, and ended with Greg- 
ory XI., 1370-1378, no great 


The only great name of the 
era is that of Thomas 
Bradwardin, the theolo- 
gian and mathematician, 
who died of the plague 
forty days after his con- 
secration, 1349. 


Henry VII., d. 1313 
Louis IV., d. 1347 
Charles IV. 


Ferdinand IV., d. 1312 
Alphonso XI., d. 1350 
Pedro, d. 1368 
Henry H. 


Robert I., d. 1329 
David II., d. 1370 
Robert II. 


James van Arteveldt, 1285- 

Thomas Bradwardin, 1290- 

Cola di Rienzi, 1313-1354 
Stephen Marcel, d. 1358 
Francesco Petrarch, 1304- 

Giovanni Boccaccio, 1313- 


Edward Prince of Wales, 

"the Black Prince," 

Bertrand du Guesclin, 

John Wyclif, 1324-1384 
William Langland, 1330?- 

Geoffrey Chaucer, 1340?-1400 
Jean Froissart, 1337-1410 




RICHARD II. 1377-1399 

Upon the death of Edward, John of Gaunt made no attempt to 

continue his control of the government. Possibly he thought that 

as the eldest living uncle of the child king his influence 
Open/tag of ° ° 

reign of Rich- was assured; for although the barons manifested no dis- 

ard II. Ilec- . . ..... , 

tmdUation position to appoint him either regent or protector, and 
at once vested Richard with the full rights of a sover- 
eign, yet as long as the period of the minority continued, the 
powerful duke must naturally remain the first among the little 
king's political tutors. The enemies of John of Gaunt on their 
part were apparently as reluctant as he to push the quarrel farther, 
and in the presence of the distractions which confronted the state 
were ready to abandon partisan strife in the interests of the new 
reign. The accession of Richard, therefore, was the signal for a 
general reconciliation of all parties. Peter de la Mare was released 
from prison. The charges against William of Wykeham were 
dropped, and the prelate and the duke were formally reconciled. 

When the new parliament met in October, although the mood 
of the members on the whole was likewise conciliatory, they had 
no thought of dropping the work which the Good Par- 
" <md vJriia- namen t had begun. They were still suspicious of John 
unucd° 7}r °t Gaunt and would allow neither him nor his brothers 
a place in the royal council; yet they did not object to 
his friend, Richard Fitz-Alan Earl of Arundel. The Commons 
again made de la Mare their speaker as a matter of course. 
They also demanded that annual parliaments be required by law; 
that statutes once sanctioned by the crown be enrolled without 


404 THE PEASANT KEVOLT [richard li. 

change or amendment by the council ; that the evil counsellors of 
Edward be removed; that the lords name the chancellor, treasurer, 
and barons of the exchequer, and that during the king's minority 
these ministers be not removed without the advice of the lords. 
They also voted a subsidy for the war, but demanded that the 
control of the funds be put in the hands of two treasurers who 
should be responsible to parliament. The men chosen were Wil- 
liam Walworth and John Philipot, prominent citizens of London. 

It was high time that the advisers of the young king awoke to 
the serious nature of the troubles which threatened the state. 
The sky was portentous with coming storm. The war 
<>f troubles with France had not only long since ceased to be profit- 
fr< ,11 ted new able but had inflicted upon the people a constantly 
increasing burden of taxation. The great peasant class, 
who numbered one half the population of England, upon whom, as 
Langland had tried to show, the whole superstructure of state and 
society rested, no longer bore their load with the old-time ox-like 
patience. It is not likely that their terrible strength was more 
than dimly understood either by themselves or their masters, or 
that an actual rising was apprehended. Yet there was certainly 
reason for disquiet in the minds of those who were directing the 
government. The endless taxes were collected with ever-increas- 
ing difficulty and the returns were as unsatisfactory. 1 The pro- 
prietary classes, instead of rallying to the support of the state, with 
customary shortsightedness were inclined to unload their own 
burdens upon the people. The tide of war, also, which had so long 
desolated France was now at last approaching England. The very 
week after Edward's death the French burned Rye; and in the 
summer following they continued their depredations, striking 
various exposed points on the southern coast. The Scots also 
were restless and active, and the condition of the borders added 
not a little to the anxiety of the ministry. 

The French war was directly responsible for the beginning of 

1 The failure of the several levies of this period to realize the amounts 
expected, was probably due to the success of a disloyal people in cheating 
the collectors quite as much as to the blunders of the ministers in making 
their estimates. 

1379, 1380] THE POLL TAX 405 

the troubles of Richard's reign, as it was for most of the trouble 
of this era. John of Gaunt had persuaded the council to entrust 
him with the money, which had been recently granted by parlia- 
De innit ment, in order that he might fit out a fleet and clear 
ni''i'oli e ' tn e Channel. The attempt was a failure as might be 
ws'isw expected of any thing committed to the care of John of 
Gaunt. He then crossed to Brittany and attacked St. 
Malo, but, baffled by the obstinate courage of the burghers, was again 
forced to return without results. The ministry had now spent their 
money, and they hesitated to ask parliament for another subsidy. 
In their strait they turned to the new plan of taxing people by the 
head; a scheme which commended itself to the proprietary classes 
because it promised to relieve them somewhat by compelling the 
landless poor and the clergy to bear a part of the burden of taxa- 
tion. The measure had been resorted to by John of Gaunt's parlia- 
ment of 1377, but the levy of a groat a head had failed to return 
a sum adequate to the needs of the state. It was determined, 
therefore, to increase the net sum, at the same time relieving the 
measure of the charge of injustice by grading the tax according 
to rank. A duke was to pay £6 13s. 4d. ; an earl £4; and so 
down to the villain who paid his groat as before. The clergy also 
paid by a similar scale. The amount, however, owing to a very 
simple blunder of the financiers, fell short of the estimate by about 
one-half, and in 1380 parliament levied a third poll tax, but with 
no such just graduation as in the previous year. The humblest 
villain had now to pay a shilling for each member of his family of 
fifteen years of age and upward, while the richest man in the king- 
dom paid only a pound. 

The tax was a fatal blunder. Inflammatory elements were scat- 
tered everywhere; the strife of landlord and villain was increasing 

in bitterness daily; the free laborer and the wandering 
inflammatory artisan, under the Statute of Labourers, were treated as 

' '''"' "'■'"'' T > 1 11 

vagrants; disbanded soldiers from the wars, broken in 
fortune and swelling with pride and mischief, wandered every- 
where; begging friars, the newsmongers and gossips of the times, 
brought the news of the day to the humblest and added their own 
fiery editorials; incendiary priests, like John Ball of Kent, 

406 THE PEASANT REVOLT [kichard II. 

preached the rights of man to eager multitudes, and even dared to 
question the whole existing social order. 

When, therefore, the third poll tax was announced, it needed 
only the irritation caused by the attempt of the officials to enforce 
Therising collection to cause the seething waters to overflow. 
peasants, ^ ne ^ rst outbreak occurred near Tilbury in Essex 
mi - about the last week in May. A few days later trouble 

began in Kent. By June 10, the counties of the lower Thames 
were up from end to end; manors were burned, manor rolls 
destroyed, and bailiffs, lawyers, and particularly obnoxious land- 
lords, hunted down and murdered in cold blood. Everywhere the 
same scenes of violence were enacted, though with ever changing 
variety in the grim details. Then, when the special objects which 
had roused the wrath of the people in their home districts had been 
destroyed, the mobs, maddened by their very successes and still 
unsated, from all the "home counties" began marching upon 
London. The insurrection in the meanwhile continued to spread. 
By the 19th of June it had reached Somerset and on the 23d it 
had reached Yorkshire. There were echoes even in distant Devon 
and Cornwall and in remote Chester, though the extent of the out- 
breaks here is not known. 

The government was helpless to protect its subjects or even to 

defend itself. At the first break of the storm an expedition lay at 

Plymouth ready for the French wars, but, not realizing 

of e tfie S8m8S the importance of the crisis, the leaders had put out to 

govemme . gea> rj^ on jy ^ ier f orce f an y importance in the 

kingdom was with Percy on the Scottish border. The nobles and 
their retainers were scattered over the kingdom and owing to the 
rapid spread of the insurrection it was impossible for them to 
gather in any force sufficient to disperse or overawe the gathering 
mobs. Without any trained police force at command, without 
any standing army, the government could only look on and await 

On the 12th of June an army of Kentish insurgents lay 
encamped on Black Heath, within five miles of the Southwark end 
of London Bridge. All day long their ranks were swelled by other 
arrivals from the towns and villages of Surrey and even from the 


distant wolds of Sussex. William Walworth, now mayor of London, 
had no sympathy with the risings and had fully determined to keep 

the insurgents out of the city, but he was overborne 
£r e ixmdwir by the advice of some of his aldermen who were 

supported by the city populace, and on the 13th the 
great drawbridge which cut off London from the Southwark side 
was lowered and the peasants from the southern counties were 
allowed to stream across the bridge into the city. The same even- 
ing another horde which had been advancing from Essex encamped 
at Mile End, while the northern heights were occupied by still 
other insurgents who had come down from Hertford and St. 
Albans. Here also the city authorities, more than half in sym- 
pathy with the rebels, failed to keep the gates closed, and in a short 
time these new streams were allowed to swell the tide of riot and 
lawlessness that was already roaring through the streets of the city. 
A wild afternoon and night followed. John of Gaunt, fortu- 
nately for himself, had been called north by threat of new trouble 

with Scotland, but his beautiful palace, the Savoy, was at 
uffm>bii{ band and upon this the people first vented their wrath. 
June'if '^ e r -T em pl e > the Inns of Court, and other buildings 

associated in the popular mind with the hateful laws 
which they hoped to overturn, were fired and all legal records 
destroyed that could be found. The jails, also, were opened and 
their populations turned loose to join in inaugurating the reign 
of terror. From arson and plunder the rioters soon passed to 
murder; seizing their victims in church and sanctuary, and drag- 
ging them forth to be dispatched in the presence of the applauding 

The council with the king had very early sought refuge behind 
the strong walls of the Tower, and their asylum soon became the 

focus towards which all the many streams of rioters 
Mile End, began to converge as if by common consent, clamoring 

for the death of the ministers who were hiding within. 
Through a sleepless night the king and his ministers "sat with 
awful eye," while ever and again "the most horrible of all sounds, 
the roar of a mob howling for blood, penetrated the grim walls." 
The council in despair offered to parley with the insurgents, and 


Richard II. 

it was finally agreed that if they would retire to Mile End the 
king would meet them and hear their grievances. The king was 
as good as his word, and on the morning of the 14th rode out to 
the rendezvous accompanied by a group of nobles, heard the 
demand of the peasants for freedom and graciously granted that 
they should never again "be named or held for serfs." A general 
pardon was also promised, and a small army of clerks were soon at 
work drawing up the necessary charters. 

Within the city affairs were not going as well. Apparently 

only a part of the rebels had kept the tryst with the king, and 

those who staid behind, in some unaccountable wav, 1 

The massacre J 

ofthcrefu- prevailed upon the guards to admit them to the Tower. 

yees in the z 

Tower, June A frightful massacre followed of those who had not 


dared to accompany the king to Mile End. Leg, the 
man who had farmed the poll tax, paid for his unlucky speculation 
with his life. A friar who was unfortunately recognized as a 
friend of John of Gaunt was torn limb from limb. But the 
noblest victims were Archbishop Sudbury, the chancellor, and Sir 
Eobert Hales, the treasurer, who were dragged out to Tower Hill 
and there beheaded to the delight of the jeering crowds. 

By this time many of the rebels had departed for their homes, 
hastening along the country roads with their precious but valueless 

charters in their hands. But some of the leaders 

The Mnu at . . . 

Smithfieia, apparently were not satisfied and remained behind with 

June 15. xx . J , . , • i - 

many of their people in hope of securing some more 
definite guarantee of protection than that offered by the simple 
charters. Among these was the famous Walter Tyler 2 who now 

1 It is not credible that the king, as a part of his agreement with 
those whom he met at Mile End, himself gave the order to deliver the 
refugees in the Tower to the mob. See Trevelyan, England in the Age of 
Wyclif, pp. 235, 236. 

2 Familiarly called Wat Tyler. Little is really known of this man 
whose name it has been the fashion to give to the rising. Most of the 
stories associated with his name are unknown to contemporary writers, 
especially the tradition which begins the revolt with the murder of the 
royal collector, who had insulted Tyler's daughter. ''The story . . . 
must go the way of William TelPs shot." Trevelyan, Age of Wyclif, 
p. 210. 

138l] WALTER TYLER 409 

for a moment becomes a conspicuous figure in the revolt. The 
mobs in the meanwhile through the night of the 14th continued 
their burning and slaughtering, guided no longer by any motive save 
the lust for plunder and wild delight in rioting. The council saw 
that another effort must be made to rid the city of the lawless 
multitude and arranged for a second parley by which the king was 
to meet the rebels at Smithfield on Saturday the loth. Here, how- 
ever, the business did not move as smoothly as at Mile End, pos- 
sibly because the demands of Tyler, who acted as spokesman for 
his fellows, were more to tho point and could not so easily be put 
off. Hot words passed. Mayor Walworth drew his sword and cut 
down the peasant leader. A moment of uncertainty followed. 
Cries for vengeance arose and arrows were set to bow-strings, when 
Richard boldly spurred his horse into the thick of the press, shout- 
ing, "What need you my masters? Would you shoot your king? 
I will be your captain." The multitude closed around the hand- 
some boy whom they had not yet learned to distrust, and in tri- 
umph bore him off with them to Clerkenwell Fields. The mayor 
and his party in the meanwhile dashed back to the city to gather 
the loyal citizens in order to rescue the king, for whose safety they 
had just cause of alarm. What happened during these few hours 
when the little king sat among his humble subjects, what promises 
were made, will never be known. Certain it is that the people 
regarded him with touching reverence, nor is it likely that he 
received other than the kindest and most respectful treatment. 
They, on their part, apparently were well satisfied with their closer 
acquaintance with royalty, and, when at last the armed bands 
approached from the city, they made no attempt at resistance but 
gave up their hostage and were peaceably dismissed to their homes. 
With the collapse of the revolt in London, the excitement in 
other places also rapidly subsided. Then followed the reaction, as 

strong and bitter as the rising. Terrible was the 
The reaction. . 

vengeance which the masters took upon their former 

serfs for all the terrors which the few days of rioting and blood- 
shed had inspired. The boy king's counsellors easily persuaded 
him that he had no right to grant the charters of emancipation, 
and he forthwith revoked them. Those who still kept the field 

410 THE PEASANT REVOLT [kichabd 11. 

were ruthlessly ridden down by the king's men-at-arms, or the 
retainers who followed their lords. Then the agents of the law 
went to work, and those who had in any way borne a conspicuous 
part in the recent rising, were hunted out by the hundreds and 
punished with that pitiless brutality which has always marked the 
dealings of the master with the serf, when the serf has dared to 
turn. Parliament also lent its aid to the work of repression and 
passed still more severe and unjust laws against the villain. 

Such measures, however, were futile. Villainage was no longer 
a paying institution. The enlightened conscience of the nation, 
moreover, had begun to rest uneasy under a sense of 
riiwnat wrong done, of unjust burdens imposed. The land- 
lords had for once gazed into the abyss; they had 
learned the latent strength of the landless; they did not care to 
provoke a second rising. Old forms of servitude were gradually 
allowed to lapse. The severer laws became a dead letter. Eman- 
cipation went on again in the natural order; service was constantly 
commuted for money payments. The smaller freeholders steadily 
increased; wages kept rising, and with the rising wages the com- 
forts of the laboring class also increased. At the outbreak of the 
Eeformation villainage continued to exist in England, if at all, 
only in the more remote corners which had not yet felt the touch 
of the new life of the nation. 

Thus began and ended the famous Peasant Eevolt which for a 
moment threatened to sweep away not only king, lords, and com- 
mons, but the entire social system of the fourteenth 
cameo/aw century. In general the poll tax seems to have been 
the immediate occasion of the rising; but back of the 
poll tax was the Statute of Labourers, and back of that was a long 
story of unrequited wrongs, differing in detail in each locality, but 
common to all in the hatred which it breathed for the great proprie- 
tors, whether priest or noble. Beyond the special grievances which 
the people cherished against their landlords, there seems also to have 
taken shape in the popular mind some sort of confused belief that 
the counsellors of the king and particularly John of Gaunt were 
responsible for the mismanagement of the government, the Statute 
of Labourers, the poll tax, and all the troubles which had ensued. 


Their first cry for vengeance, therefore, soon passed to a very 
definite programme of political and social reform. The poll tax 
was to be suppressed ; the Statute of Labourers repealed ; the boy 
king, to whom the people were touchingly loyal throughout, must 
be rescued from the hands of his evil counsellors and better 
government secured; and finally villainage was to be abolished by 
the granting of complete economic and personal freedom. 

The rising took hold of the lower classes, but was by no means 
confined to the serfs. In Kent there were no villains and yet the 
Kentish rising was the most serious and destructive of 
tferfefncf an y- r ^ ne P°P u ^ ace °f the cities were deeply interested 
and at the first many of the city officials, as in London, 
were in more or less sympathy with the insurgents. In East Anglia, 
for reasons unknown, even gentlemen were to be found in their 
ranks. The animus of the rising, moreover, was not directed against 
the nobility or even against the proprietors as a class. In marked 
contrast with the horrible atrocities committed by the Jacquerie in 
France, the women and children of the nobles were not molested. 
Even the men who suffered were mostly those who had won an 
unenviable reputation for cruelty in a local way or had come to 
represent to the people the system which they hated. The bailiffs, 
the stewards, the lawyers, and the ministers of the crown were the 
objects of vengeance quite as much as the nobles and the abbots. 
The manor houses, barns, and granaries, and particularly the manor 
rolls, which were associated in the minds of the people directly 
with all that they had suffered, were also marked for destruction. 
It was inevitable that the reaction which followed the Peasant 
Revolt should affect seriously the religious reform which is asso- 
ciated with the name of Wyclif. Soon after the death 
Wwkft of Edward, a papal bull had been received in England, 
directing the trial of Wyclif for holding opinions sub- 
versive of church and state." But John of Gaunt's influence 
was still strong enough to protect his old ally, and the proceedings 
had been stopped by the direct interference of the government. 
Wyclif, however, had thought it best to retire to Lutterworth 
where the crown had presented him with a living. Here he had 
devoted himself to the work of disseminating his religious views, 

412 THE PEASANT REVOLT [richabd II. 

beginning the famous series of tracts in the simple homely 
English of the people. It was in connection with this work 
also that he began that other greater work, his translation 
of the Scriptures, " the first specimen of literary English 
prose written since the cessation of the Anglo-Saxon Chron- 
icle." Wyclif's views of Christian doctrine, also, advanced rapidly. 
He was no longer content to attack simply the abuses of 
the church, but began to assail its fundamental doctrines. He 
not only accepted the Bible as the sole authority in the church, 
but also declared the right of the individual to interpret it for 
himself, even against the authority of the fathers or the councils. 
He denied, also, the miracle of the mass, seeing in the Lord's sup- 
per merely a memorial service, the only merit of which lay in the 
spiritual frame engendered by its sacred associations. In this he 
even went beyond Luther even anticipating some of the advanced 
views of the later reformers. 

The promulgation of these views of Wyclif was contem 
porary with the insurrection of the peasants, and men in 
their excitement failed to distinguish between the mis- 
aitiievou eas ' s i° Iiai "i es of Wyclif and such fiery agitators as John 
h?rity P oj )U ~ Kal1 - Tn °y accusea taem of sympathizing with the 
teachinas peasants, and made the teachings of Wyclif respon- 
sible for the excesses of the insurrection. Thus the 
proprietary classes, who had heretofore favored Wyclif, began to 
confound the cry for church reform with the cry for social and 
political reform. Even John of Gaunt stigmatized Wyclif's fol- 
lowers as "heretics against the sacrament of the altar," and bade 
Wyclif be silent. The enemies of Wyclif, taking advantage of the 
reaction, in a synod held in 1382, known as the "Council of the 
Earthquake," succeeded in branding as heretical twenty-four con- 
clusions taken from his^ writings, and drove his adherents out of 
Oxford. Further than this they could not go. England had no 
law yet for the burning of heretics. They tried, however, to get 
Wyclif to Rome, and brought a summons from the pope; but 
Wyclif's prudence, his interest in his great work as well as his fail- 
ing health, kept him quietly at Lutterworth where he died in 1384. 
After his death his doctrines continued to spread, and many of the 

1877, 1378] THE GREAT SCHISM 413 

nobility embraced his views, the young wife of the king, Anne 
of Bohemia, being among the number. When she died her 
people carried home Wyclif's books to become the seed of the 
Hussite movement of the next generation. In London partic- 
ularly, the Lollards, as the followers of Wyclif were now called for 
reasons unknown, increased so rapidly that it was said when five 
men met on the street corner three of them were sure to be Lol- 
lards. Men like Courtenay, who had succeeded to the archie- 
piscopal office after the murder of Sudbury, would have undertaken 
severe measures for the suppression of the dangerous heresy, but 
the Commons would not take the preliminary steps in proposing 
the necessary laws, and the sheriffs bluntly refused to assist the 
bishops in the execution of existing laws. 

The council in the meantime was wrestling with its own prob- 
lems. The French, having driven the English out of Aquitaine, 

had turned their attention to the overthrow of English 
^/ihecmmcii i nn,uence i n the Low Countries. The burghers of 
Rmbecque, Flanders under Philip van Arteveldt, the son of 

Edward's old ally, were again at war with their count. 
But the English council moved so slowly that they allowed van 
Arteveldt to be beaten in three successive engagements ; in the last 
of which at Rosbecque, he was slain. When the news reached Eng- 
land the consternation was great. The vast commercial interests 
of England in Flanders were in jeopardy and the loss of Calais was 
imminent. All parties were disgusted with the laggard council 
and openly denounced its sluggishness and incapacity as the sole 
cause of this new misfortune. The members of the council saw 
that if they would retain what little prestige they had left, they 
must bestir themselves to regain the lost ground and save the 
English influence in Flanders if possible. In their extremity they 
turned to a strange quarter for help. 

In 1376 Gregory XI. had removed the papal residence from 
Avignon to Rome. Upon his death in March 1378 the college 

of cardinals had elected as his successor the Italian 
sl'iusm^ Urban VI. The election had been held in the midst 

of a pandemonium in which a howling mob played 
a conspicuous part, who were determined that the new pope should 

414 THE PEASANT REVOLT [eichabd U. 

be an Italian, if not a Roman. The choice had been nominally at 
least unanimous, but the imprudent zeal, the imperious nature, 
and the ungovernable temper of Urban soon turned his cardinals 
against him, so that taking advantage of the irregularity of the 
election by advancing the plea of intimidation, they retired to 
Fondi and elected Robert of Geneva under the title of Clement VII. 
The college of cardinals was fully represented at Fondi, and, 
although the three Italian members 1 refused to give their assent to 
the choice of Clement, Urban was virtually left alone. The 
political animosities of Europe were running too high to allow the 
various governments to form an impartial judgment of the merits of 
the controversy within the church. France was interested because 
Clement was not only pronounced in his French sympathies, but 
had been chosen virtually by the French cardinals. Soon after 
his election, also, Clement retired to Avignon, which thus once 
more became a papal residence, thereby committing his court 
irrevocably to the French influence. England and the Flemings, 
therefore, naturally supported Urban, and Scotland and Spain as 
naturally supported Clement. The other states of Europe, also 
influenced by political reasons of one kind or another, took sides 
accordingly. Thus began the "Great Schism" which was to divide 
western Christendom for thirty-eight years. 

The rival popes soon wearied of the simple spiritual weapons 

which became their office, and resorted to the methods of violence 

so congenial to the age. Here was the opportunity of 

Thebixhopof *.. A j. XI. i A u 

Norwich's the English council. At the very time when the news 

( /i^llsOAlc 1383 

' reached England of the fatal turn of affairs in the Low 
Countries, Urban had authorized the warlike bishop of Norwich, 
Henry de Spencer, to undertake a crusade against the French sup- 
porters of Clement. The English council encouraged the enter- 
prise and in a way adopted the crusade, proposing to turn the dis- 
tractions of the church to their own advantage in the war with 
France. Parliament also gave its sanction and from all sides 
recruits flocked to the holy war. De Spencer and his crusaders 

'Sixteen cardinals had been present at the election of Urban, of 
whom eleven were French, one, a Spaniard, and four, Italians. The car- 
dinal of St. Peter's died soon after the election. 

1883-1385] THE ROYAL FAVORITES 415 

crossed to Calais and began their onslaught upon the cities of 
Count Louis in Flanders, although the Flemings were Urbanites, 
a fact which reveals the real animus of the enterprise. The expedi- 
tion, however, accomplished nothing of moment. The captains 
were bribed by the enemy and de Spencer was obliged to return 
home, 'greatly increasing the humiliation and confusion of the 
council. For the people were quick to ascribe the failure, not 
to the popular bishop of Norwich, but to the council and most 
to the unlucky John of Gaunt, of whom they were as unwilling 
to believe anything good as in the days before the Peasant 

Flanders now fell under the direct control of the French, and 

the English merchants were compelled to witness the ruin of their 

fine trade with the Flemings. More trouble, also, was 

The ScottUh . . . 

campaigno} brewing on the Scottish border. In 1385 Richard in 
Gauntand company with John of Gaunt, who in spite of his long 

Richard, 1.H85. .,,.-, • „ , . ,. • - 

series of failures still thought himself something of a 
general, crossed the borders and attempted to punish the Scots. 
But it was the old experience over again; the Scots retired, leav- 
ing their fields and their cities to be destroyed. The English 
advanced as far as the Forth and even burned Edinburgh, but 
finding no army to fight were compelled to retire at last, not 
beaten, but baffled, an outcome which, so far as the influence of the 
council was concerned, amounted to the same thing. 

Richard was now in his nineteenth year and beginning to fret 
under the imperious ways of John of Gaunt, who, while not per- 
sonally a member of the royal council, was nevertheless 
Utmrttoi* represented by powerful friends, and had never hesi- 
tated to exert his influence. Tho widow of the Black 
1'rince died the year of Richard's Scottish expedition and the king 
sadly missed her wise counsels. As an offset to the duko of Lan- 
caster, he had raised his two uncles Edmund Earl of Cambridge 
and Thomas Earl of Buckingham to ducal rank, making one Duke 
of York and the other Duke of Gloucester. lie also surrounded 
himself with friends, tho companions of his pleasures, whose 
worthlessness only increased the suspicion and contempt which tho 
people were beginning to feel for the king. Of these his half- 


brothers, 1 the Hollands, Thomas Earl of Kent and John Earl of 
Huntingdon, were the kind of men to make trouble sooner or 
later; they were violent and lawless, with little respect for dignity 
or sympathy with the new traditions which the constitution had 
thrown around the crown. Another close friend of the young king 
was Michael de la Pole, the son of a wealthy London merchant, 
who had made himself very useful to Edward III. at one of those 
intervals, all too frequent, when the treasury was -low and the king 
needed money. The son seems to have been a man of consider- 
able merit and had won his way to distinction very early in the 
reign of Richard. In 1378 he had been made an admiral and 
had accompanied John of Gaunt on one of his luckless expeditions. 
In 1383 he had been appointed chancellor. Richard took to the 
man, and finding in him a useful instrument in carrying out his 
plans, made him Earl of Suffolk. The nobles, however, 
did not regard the elevation of the burgher's son kindly ; 
while the commons also turned against him as a renegade to their 
class. But the person who stood highest in the royal affection was 
Robert de Vere, the earl of Oxford, young, gay, and reckless, and 
the boon companion of the king in his pleasures. Richard showered 
upon him honors and preferment; he made him Marquis of Dublin, 
the first to bear the title of marquis in England, ranking in pre- 
cedence all other nobles not of the royal family. Not satisfied with 
this Richard finally created him Duke of Ireland ; the ducal title 
heretofore having been reserved for those of royal blood. 

The failure of John of Gaunt's Scottish campaign, and his con- 
stant quarreling with the king had destroyed what little respect 
John of mea s *^ fe^ f° r the once powerful noble. Leading 
Engiand aves memDers of the council regarded his influence as a 
1386. menace to the prospects of their favorite, Roger Mor- 

timer, and determined to expel the friends of Duke John. John 
of Northampton, the mayor of London, head of the duke's party 
in the Commons, was imprisoned, and the duke himself was threat- 
ened with arrest on a charge of treason. It was evident to all, to 
none more than to the duke himself, that his game of politics at home 

1 The Black Prince had married Joan, daughter of the earl of Kent, 
and widow of Sir Thomas Holland. 


was up for the present, at least, and he determined to set out on 

a madcap errand to secure the crown of Castilo. He had married 

for his second wife the eldest daughter of Pedro the Cruel and 

now proposed in his wife's name to unseat the successful rival 

dynasty. He left England, therefore, in 1380 and did not return 

again for three years. 

If Richard and his council thought to strengthen their position 

by the expulsion of John of Gaunt's friends, they soon found that 

they were seriously mistaken. For two new men were 
The forming . . ~ . 

of anew now brought into solitary prominence : I nomas Duke 

of Gloucester, John of Gaunt's youngest brother, a man 
fully as unscrupulous and even more dangerous, who had no ugly 
memories back of him; and John of Gaunt's son, Henry of Boling- 
broke, the earl of Derby. The withdrawal of John of Gaunt 
made possible, also, a union of the old Lancastrians with the old 
clerical party. A new party was thus formed, composed of the vari- 
ous dissatisfied elements of the upper classes, who now affected to 
pose as the defenders of the rights of parliament against the king 
and the council. 

An opportunity was soon afforded the new party for a direct 
attack upon the hated favorites of the king. In the early part of 

1380, the people were thrown into a spasm of alarm by 
Attar* upon . , , ... 

the council, a genuine war scare, due to the gathering of an arma- 
ment in the harbor of Slnys for the purpose of a descent 
upon England. Although the French soon abandoned the plan, 
popular apprehension had been wrought to fever heat, and when 
parliament met the leaders were inclined to make the government, 
particularly de la Pole, the chancellor, responsible for all the 
reverses of the past ten years. The recent promotion of de Vere 
was also a source of irritation. The new parliament, therefore, 
was in anything but a tractable mood, and soon gave evidence of 
its spirit by demanding the dismissal of the chancellor. The 
king, whose head had always been befogged more or less by pecul- 
iar ideas of prerogative, insolently replied that he would not 
dismiss the meanest scullion in his kitchen for such a request, 
and bade parliament keep to its own business. But the members 
stubbornly refused to consider any other question until the obnox- 

418 THE PEASANT EEVOLT [richard ii. 

ious de la Pole had been removed, and Eichard, who was not proof 
against their determined spirit, yielded. The minister was then 
impeached, fined, and imprisoned. The removal of the chancellor 
was only the first step in the program of the opposition. In imi- 
tation of the Good Parliament, on the plea that the revenues were 
squandered and mismanaged generally, the lords proceeded to 
appoint a commission of regency to control the administration, 
thus practically depriving the king of his authority altogether. 
They, further, called up the bogy of Edward II. by sending for the 
statute under which he had been deposed, at the same time dis- 
patching a friend of Gloucester to remind the king of the fate of 
that unhappy monarch. 

Richard yielded for the moment but the old Plantagenet spirit 
was now fairly aroused. After parliament had adjourned he 
released Suffolk and summoned a meeting of the sheriffs 
defies variia- and justices of the kingdom to meet him at Notting- 
ham. He urged the sheriffs to allow no knight to be sent 
to parliament "save one whom the king and the council chose." 
He asked a committee of judges, also, to pass upon the legality of 
the acts of the last parliament, and without a dissenting voice, 
apparently, they declared that the removal of the chancellor and 
the appointment of the commission were unlawful, and that those 
who had forced the king to yield against his will were liable to the 
charge of treason. 

The leaders of the opposition now in their turn became 

alarmed, and answered the charge of the judges by appearing at the 

head of an army of 40,000 men. Eichard thought of 

The "Lords 

Appellant." resistance, but the prompt action of his enemies entirely 
Bridae,Dec. disconcerted him. London opened its gates, and five 
lords, Gloucester, Derby, Arundel, Thomas Beauehamp 
Earl of Warwick, and Thomas Mowbray Earl of Nottingham, 
entered the king's presence and "appealed of treason" five of his 
late councillors : de Vere, de la Pole, Eobert Tresilian the chief 
justice, Sir Nicholas Bramber, and George Neville Archbishop of 
York. In the meanwhile the enemies of Gloucester had fled from 
the city in various disguises. De Vere went into Chester and suc- 
ceeded in raising an army of 5,000 men. In December he 


approached London, but was met at Radcot Bridge on the Thames 
by Derby and Gloucester, and his little army dispersed. lie him- 
self escaped by swimming the river and finally got away to Ireland. 
The parliament, known sometimes as the "Wonderful Parlia- 
ment," and sometimes as the "Merciless Parliament," met in 
February, 1388, and in a session of 122 days devoted 

The Wonder- .,,,,.,,. „ „ ,, . „ .-,, 

fui Partia- itself to ridding the country of the enemies of Glou- 
cester. The four lay councillors of the king were con- 
demned to bo hanged, but only Tresilian and Bramber suffered, 
since de Vere and de la Pole were safe on the continent. Xeville, 
the ecclesiastical member of the council, could not be condemned 
to death, being a churchman, but his temporalities were seized. 
Of other supporters of the king, many were banished, and some 
including his old tutor Sir Simon Burley were sent to the block. 
Then after Richard had been stripped of all his earlier advisers 
even to his private confessor, the parliament broke up and left the 
government in the hands of Gloucester and his friends. 

For some months Richard quietly submitted to the new order, 

but at a council meeting held in the following May, he suddenly 

propounded to the duke of Gloucester the question of 

Richard his age. " Your highness," replied the duke, "is in your 
assume* the o e> r j 

government, twenty-second year." "Then," replied the king, "I 
must be old enough to manage my own affairs. I thank 
you my lords, for the trouble you havo taken in my behalf 
hitherto, but I shall not require your services any longer." He 
then demanded the Great Seal and the keys of the Exchequer. 
Vet Richard apparently had really learned something from his 
earlier misfortunes, for ho adopted a policy which was surely 
moderate for a man of his character. lie refused to recall do 
Vere or the exiled judges. lie installed William of Wykeham in 
his old position as chancellor. Vork and Derby, also, were retained. 
But Gloucester and the other members of the council were sum- 
marily dismissed. Richard was still further strengthened by the 
return of John of Gaunt the same year, who, although as unpop- 
ular as ever, had been apparently sobered somewhat by his many 
failures and now sincerely tried to serve his young sovereign. In 
1390 Henry of Derby left England for three years, to assist the 


German knights in their wars against the Lithuanians. Other lords 
conspicuous in the earlier troubles also found occupation far from 
the court. 

The new reign was now fairly launched. There had been much 

quarreling of politicians for the control of the government; but 

experience had taught England to expect this as an inci- 


personal dent of the rule of a nonaged king. Now that the 

king had asserted himself, this quarreling might be 
expected to stop. The young king was not without elements of 
popularity. The people still cherished the memory of the Black 
Prince and the "fair Joan," and were ready to open their hearts 
to the son. He was clever, handsome, and cultivated. He had 
proved himself capable of meeting an emergency in the trying 
days of the Peasant Revolt, and by his recent moderation he had 
also proved that he could learn from experience. Hence confi- 
dence rapidly returned and for eight years Eichard fully justified 
the hopes of his people; no king could have done better. A new 
series of truces gave some respite from the burdens of the war, and 
enabled the ministers to reduce taxation. Wages continued good 
and prices steady. New safeguards also were added to the Statutes 
of Provisors and Praemunire. The Statute of Mortmain was 
enlarged to forbid the granting of estates to laymen in trust for 
religions houses, — a practice by which the older statute had been 
virtually rendered a dead letter. 

Richard while quite young had been married to Anne of 

Bohemia. He seems to have loved her devotedly and even to have 

allowed her considerable influence when once he was his 


marriaaeof own master. But in 1394 Anne died, and as Richard 

was still childless, Roger Mortimer Earl of March was 

formally recognized as heir to the throne. The year of the 

queen's death also saw the death of Constance of Castile, the 

second wife of John of Gaunt. He at once married Catharine 

Swynford, a sister-in-law of Chaucer, who had already born him 

several children. These children and their descendants, known as 

the Beauforts, will bear their full share in the dynastic struggles 

of the next century. In 139(5 Richard succeeded in making a 

truce of twenty-eight years with France. He then went to Paris 


and amid great pomp married Isabella, the eight-year-old daughter 

of Charles VI. 

The marriage was not a happy one for king or people. For 

two generations Englishmen had known little of the French court 

and its ways; but now its splendors, great even when 
Tnfuenct of . , , . . „, 

French emanating from so feeble a personality as Charles VI., 

burst upon this young king, who saw at last a realiza- 
tion of his early dreams of kingly power and could not but com- 
pare his own slavery to insolent parliaments and obstinate 
ministers, with the freedom and magnificence which tradition and 
custom assigned to a French monarch. It was a dangerous 
dream, for Richard's temper was none of the steadiest and had 
already led him into unseemly outbreaks. He loved not con- 
straint, and as England was then constituted, he could not king 
it long after his new ideal, before he would run up against obduracy 
sufficient to try a far more placid soul. 

The first effects of these new ideas of kingly dignity were 
noticeable in a very marked increase in the magnificence of the 

trappings of court life. Richard, like his grandfather, 
rmlliitt!'^ se ^ t* 16 pace in foppish extravagance, paying, it is said, 

as much as £10,000 for a single coat. The sober minded 
burghers who were taxing themselves to keep up this show of 
kingly magnificence did not take to it kindly, and in 1397 the 
Commons presented to the Lords a formal complaint against the 
extravagance of the royal household. The Lords were more than 
half inclined to report upon the matter favorably, when news of it 
reached the king. Before his violent outburst of wrath both 
Lords and Commons gave way and humbly apologized, while Sir 
Thomas llaxey, the mover of the motion, narrowly escaped death 
as a traitor. 

Richard thought he had learned his strength and determined 
to follow up his advantage. He was upon good terms with John 

of Gaunt; he was sure of the support of his half- 

h all of the • ' rl 

Lords AppO- brothers, the Hollands, of Edward, the son of the duke 


of York, and of Thomas Mowbray, the earl of Notting- 
ham. In July, therefore, he suddenly arrested Gloucester, Arundel, 
and Warwick and threw them into prison. In September he called 


at Westminster a parliament composed of his partisans. He was 
also careful to see that no attempt at armed interference should 
be made and stationed a band of 4,000 Cheshire archers in Palace 
Yard. The old acts of 1387 and 1388 were raked up against the 
three "Lords Appellant." Arundel was tried, convicted of treason, 
and executed the same day ; the duke of Lancaster as Lord High 
Steward pronouncing the sentence upon his old friend. Gloucester 
died in prison at Calais under circumstances which suggest foul 
play. Warwick was sentenced to a life imprisonment on the 
Isle of Man; Archbishop Thomas Fitz-Alan, brother of Arundel, 
was banished. The king's supporters were then rewarded with 
grants of lands and titles, and the parliament adjourned to meet 
at Shrewsbury in January. The Cheshire archers were again called 
out, and Richard's friends continued their work. The acts of 
the Wonderful Parliament were annulled. Older measures were 
called up, as the statutes against the Despensers, and wherever they 
abridged the king's authority they were repealed. Not content 
with this, as though they would put from themselves the tempta- 
tion of ever pulling down the fine structure which they were rais- 
ing, the parliament granted Richard the customs on wool and 
leather for the rest of his life. Then by a rare act of suicide the 
parliament delegated its authority to a committee of eighteen of 
the king's partisans, with John of Gaunt as president. The revo- 
lution was complete. All that England had won by the struggle 
of two centuries had been swept away in a single year. One can 
hardly believe that this was the work of a single madman. More- 
over, if Richard were mad, the men who acted with him aud shared 
the rewards of his treason to the constitution, certainly were not. 
The entire affair appears rather like a diabolical plot of a group of 
cunning politicians to overthrow the safeguards of the constitution 
for selfish ends. Richard himself was entirely capable of leading 
such a conspiracy. He was bold and daring, and possessed an 
utter contempt for established principles, coupled with an 
unbounded estimate of the royal prerogative, an inheritance from 
his old tutor Simon Burley. If he failed, it was not because the 
times were not ripe for such a revolution, but simply because he 
overshot the mark ; for in sweeping away all the guarantees of law, 


he compelled the very men who had supported him to undo their 
work in self-defense. 

Here was Richard's weakness. He could not inspire confidence 
in his followers. He had liberally rewarded the men who sup- 
ported him but still they did not trust him. Men like 
of Holing- his cousin, Henry of Derby, now duke of Hereford, or 
Thomas of Nottingham, now duke of Norfolk, knew 
that the king could not forget the part which they had once taken 
in "appealing" the favorites de Vere and Suffolk of treason. 
Moreover as they distrusted the king they feared each other. Some 
hot words of Norfolk, in which the king's veracity was questioned, 
were reported by Hereford, but .denied by Norfolk. The per- 
manent committee to which parliament had delegated its powers 
ordered the two to settle the question by single combat. But 
Richard, who thought it was a good opportunity to get rid of both 
men, at the last moment forbade the combat and banished Norfolk 
for life and Hereford for ten years. The act was not only one of 
great injustice on Richard's part but a serious mistake as well; for 
Hereford was deeply loved by the people and they now looked upon 
him as a martyr. When he left London, the gathered crowds shed 
tears, and some of the people in their devotion followed him as far 
as the coast. 

But, as if this were not enough, Richard proceeded to build up 
a party for the duke of Hereford, should the time come when a 
party would be needed. He assembled his bodyguard 
lii r h n rd* °* °^ ^ nes lm' e archers and rode through the country, com- 
pelling the nobles and gentry to take an oath to support 
the acts of the last parliament. He compelled his merchants, also, 
to make him loans. He placed blank charters before men who 
were known to possess fortunes and forced them to fix their seals, 
leaving him to write in the charter what he pleased. He levied 
blackmail upon the panic stricken remnant of Gloucester's friends 
by compelling them to buy their pardons. He even levied upon 
the. shires as a whole, compelling seventeen counties to redeem 
themselves from the charge of assisting the enemies of the crown. 
In February 1399, John of Gaunt died, and the king added yet 
another grievance to Hereford's growing list, by declaring all 

424 THE PEASANT REVOLT [richard II. 

the vast Lancastrian estates forfeited, and seizing them for his 
own use. 

The king, of course, was not without some specious plea by 
which he sought to justify these acts of despotic power. For more 
than two hundred years England had been wrestling with 
/reS™ ° f ner Irish problem, and at the end of the fourteenth cen- 
tury could show only a few districts about Dublin, "the 
English Pale" so called, as the sole result of her endeavors to 
secure a footing in Ireland for English law. Neither English nor 
Irish could gain upon the other. Marauding forays, midnight 
alarm and slaughter, were events of daily life in this unfortunate 
land, and even when the two .races showed a tendency to live on 
better terms, it was the policy of the government to keep them 
asunder by foolish laws. Edward III. had made it a crime 
for an Englishman to acquire the Irish language, or to 

The Statute 005 

of Kilkenny, marry into an Irish family. Yet the laws of nature 

1367. itt 1 , 

had proved stronger than the statute laws of England, 
and the change which had once taken place in Normandy, and had 
again taken place in England, was steadily progressing within the 
boundaries of English Ireland. The descendants of the men who 
had come with Strongbow were merging in the subject race and 
becoming almost more Irish than the Irish themselves. In 1386 
Richard had sent Robert de Vere to Ireland, commissioned to com- 
plete the conquest and bring the Irish troubles to a close. But the 
Lords Appellant had defeated this scheme. Then the truce with 
France had enabled the king to turn his personal attention to Ire- 
land. Little, however, had been accomplished because the English 
lords made as much trouble as the Irish princes, and the king could 
find no loyal party to make the foundation of an English rule. In 
1398, the earl of March, who had been left in charge as lieutenant 
of the crown, was killed in battle, and Richard determined again 
to go to Ireland in person to avenge the fall of the heir to the 
crown, and try once more to bring order out of this wretched chaos. 
It was upon the plea of raising a force sufficient for this war that 
Richard had entered into the course of spoliations and confisca- 
tions that culminated in robbing Henry of Hereford of his family 


Soon after Whitsuntide Richard sailed for Ireland, leaving the 

kingdom to the care of his uncle, Edmund of York, as regent. But 

on July 4, Duke Henry landed at Ravenspur, accom- 

Hcnru,Ju)u panied bv a band of exiles as desperate and determined 

4 1399* 

as himself. He moved with the caution of a man who 
knew well the nature of the dangerous game which he was playing. 
He came, he announced, to claim the Lancastrian inheritance and 
nothing more. The barons of the north, led by the powerful 
Percies, were the first to join him. As he proceeded south the 
latent discontent of the kingdom everywhere found voice; the 
shires rose; London went mad in its enthusiasm. On the 27th 
Edmund of York also abandoned the cause of Richard. On the 
29th three of Richard's councillors, Scrope, Bushy, and Green, were 
taken at Bristol and put to death. 

Richard's kingdom was now lost. He hurried back with the 
army which he had taken with him to Ireland, only to have it 

dwindle in a single day from 30,000 men to 6,000. 
of Richard, Salisbury had attempted to raise an army for him in 

Wales, but it had speedily dispersed under the influence 
of the general panic which had seized upon all the king's friends. 
Henry, who had continued to disguise his real purpose, persuaded 
Richard to meet him at Flint for a conference, and Richard, who 
still thought that the most that awaited him was a new council of 
regency, walked into the trap. But his illusion was soon dispelled. 
He was taken to London and thrown into the Tower, and on the 
29th of September, the day before the time set for the meeting of 
parliament, was compelled to set his seal to a formal abdication, 
declaring himself incapable of governing and willing to be deposed. 
When parliament came together on the 30th Henry had the abdi- 
cation ready. and at once secured a formal sentence of deposition. 
Thirty-threo charges were brought against the king; all serious 
and weighty, and bearing directly upon the great constitutional 
principles which for two hundred years had been struggling for 
utterance and now were at last to be heard. In the 10th article 
it was alleged that the king had declared "that his laws were in his 
own mouth and that ho alone could change and frame the laws of 
the land." In the 2Gth, "that the life of every liegeman, bis 

426 THE PEASANT REVOLT [richabd II. 

lands, goods, and chattels, lay at his royal will without sentence of 

Then Henry stepped forward, and crossing himself, solemnly 
claimed the vacant throne: "In the name of God, I, Henry of 
Lancaster, challenge this realm and the crown with all 
Lmwaster ^ s appurtenances, as I am descended by right line of 
c ^mm. tM hlood, from the good King Henry III., and through 
that right, that God of his grace hath sent me with 
help of my kin and my friends to receive it ; the which realm was 
in point to be undone by default of governance and undoing of good 
laws." The plea was accepted without a dissenting voice, and the 
two archbishops led the champion to the vacant throne. A great 
revolution had been carried out, and, an unusual thing in those 
days, no blood had been shed save of the three who were slain at 

Edward II. had failed because he had not taken his crown seri- 
ously. Eichard II. failed because he had taken his crown too 
seriously. He had been brought up in the atmosphere breathed 
by the degenerate court of Edward III. Its hollow magnificence, 
its pride, its extravagance in life and thought were to the boy mind 
realities. Simon Burley had taught him to regard himself as 
superior to men and to institutions. Ambitious and crafty uncles 
had played upon his weakness to further their own ends, and at 
last persuaded him to try his hand at high prerogative; and when 
he found himself confronted by wills every whit as imperious as 
his own, his temper, which was never under safe control, broke 
forth in a frenzy of despotic violence. Then it became necessary 
for the very men whose shortsightedness had made this exhibition 
of tyranny possible, to unmake their Caesar in self-defense. But in 
order to secure themselves and .justify their treason, they were 
obliged to fall back upon the "good laws" which Eichard had 
repudiated, and call the nation to their support. Thus what had 
begun in a miserable quarrel of politicians, ended in a revolution of 
the gravest constitutional significance. 



IIEXRYIV., 1399-1413 
HENRY V.,1413-UZ> 


Thomas 2d earl of Lancaster 
Beheaded at Pontefract 
after Boroughbridge, 1323 

Henry V., 1413-1422 

Henry VI., 1422-1401 

Henry III. 

Edmund "Crouchback," 
1st earl of Lancaster 

Henry 3d earl of Lancaster, 

d. 1345 

Henry 4th earl of Lancaster; 

1352 1st duke of Lancaster 

Blanche of Lancaster = John of 
(Jaunt, who by right of wife 
became 2d duke of Lancas- 
ter in 1360 

Henry of Bolingbroke disinher- 
ited by Richard II., recovers 
estates and becomes King of 
England as Henry IV., 1399 


Duke of Clarence, 
killed 1421 

John Humphrey 

Duko of Bedford, Duko of Gloucester, 
d. 1435 d. 1447 

The greatness of the House of Lancaster dates back to the thir- 
teenth century; and, in a way, may be regarded as a remote result 

of the loss of the Angevin possessions. It had been the 
Jn C lnhe l ~ policy °f the Norman and early Angevin kings to pro- 
\'am'asLr v '^ e ^ or ^ ne )' ou,1 g er members of the royal family out 

of their numerous foreign dependencies; but Henry 
III., in consequence of John's misfortunes, was compelled to make 
provision for the princes of the royal family at home. Accord- 
ingly, he made his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall; his eldest 
son Edward, Earl of Chester, and upon his second son Edmund 
Crouchback he conferred the earldoms of Lancaster, Derby, and 
Leicester. To these vast estates of the new House of Lancaster, 



Thomas, the second earl, added by marriage Lincoln and Salisbury. 
In 1352 Edward III. still further exalted the family by conferring 
the ducal title upon Henry, the fourth earl, as a reward for his 
services in Aquitaine; a title which had been first introduced in 
England in 1337, when the Black Prince was made Duke of Corn- 
wall. The daughter and heiress of this Duke Henry once more 
linked the fortunes of her house directly with the royal family by 
marrying Edward's fourth son, John of Gaunt; and upon the 
death of Henry, by feudal law, all the vast possessions of the Lan- 
castrian House, as well as the new ducal title, passed to the hus- 
band of Blanche. The son of this marriage was Henry of 
Bolingbroke, the successor of Eichard II. 

In France where a similar practice of building up the younger 
branches of the royal family had also prevailed since the thirteenth 

century, the policy might be justified by the desire of 
remit* of the crown to surround itself by a powerful nobility of the 
great ducal blood royal as a balance to the influence of the old 

feudal nobility. In England, however, where the power 
of the older baronage had long since been broken, and where the 
crown had developed powerful administrative and judicial systems 
sufficient to check any revival of feudal forms, no such plea could 
be advanced. But in either case the policy was a serious blunder. 
The royal dukes were too powerful to remain loyal subjects; and, 
more turbulent and troublesome than the older baronage, more 
dangerous also because of their nearness to the crown, were certain, 
whenever an issue came to open quarrel, to furnish a rallying point 
for all the disaffected elements of the nation. In France the rival- 
ries of the two ducal houses of Burgundy and Orleans distracted 
the kingdom for a generation, and after all but placing the crown in 
the hands of the English, transferred the quarrel to the larger 
arena of the great Hapsburg-Valois struggle which desolated west- 
ern Europe for a century. In England the ducal House of Lan- 
caster, after undermining the throne of Edward II., and bringing 
shame and confusion upon the declining years of Edward III., 
finally put itself at the head of an armed protest against the 
usurpations of Ilichard II., and succeeded in supplanting the elder 
line of Plantagenet altogether. 


The position of the new dynasty had both its strength and its 
weakness. Henry IV. posed as the defender of "the good laws of 
Thextrength ^ ne l ftn( V or > * n the language of the modern politician, 
?v*'s n J<M- °^ ^ ne constitution. He was, moreover, astute enough 
Mon. to see the value of this position as a political program, 

and consciously adopted as the threefold policy of the Lancastrian 
House, obedience to the laws, respect for parliament, and an alli- 
ance with the conservative elements of the nation, represented by 
the church and the nobility. During the reigns of the first two 
Lancastrians the wisdom of this policy was fully justified by the 
results. The nobility regarded the Lancastrian king as one of 
themselves; there were revolts of nobles but not of the nobility. 
The commons also trusted the king and in the main supported him 
loyally. The church saw in him the defender of its privileges and 
the champion of its doctrines ; gave to his needs without grudging 
and made his quarrels its own. 

The weakness of the Lancastrians' position lay in the fact that 

they had been borne to the throne by a revolution, and not by 

strict hereditary right. In a legal age, when the 

Its weakness. 

authority of parliament to break the iron law of custom 
was hardly yet recognized, this flaw in the Lancastrian title was a 
serious matter and was certain to be challenged by the elder branch 
of the royal house, as soon as the immediate issue which had 
brought Henry to the throne had been forgotten. Henry appar- 
ently was fully conscious that his legal title to the crown would not 
bear serious scrutiny. Hence in the claim which he so dramatically 
advanced in the parliament of 1399, he had ingeniously mixed up 
three distinct claims, no one of which could stand alone in an ordi- 
nary court of law. 1 Yet the nation was favorable to Henry; all 

1 In the claim by descent from Henry III. lie sought apparently to 
take advantage of a foolish story which had been set afloat by the flat- 
terers of John of Gaunt : that Edmund Crouchback was the elder son of 
Henry III. and had been set aside by reason of a physical deformity. It 
was well known that Edward I. was six years the senior of Edmund, and 
also that Edmund had won his nickname not on account of any actual 
deformity , but by reason of the Crusaders' cross which he ever wore on 
his back. 


classes needed him, and no one was disposed to inquire too carefully 
into the question of birthright. 

If Henry's position had any foundation at all in law, it lay 
in the right of parliament to determine the royal succession. 
This had been undoubtedly an ancient right of the 
parliament g rea, t council, but it had been seldom used, and then 
t*> fix succes- only to sanction a revolution already accomplished. In 
a day, moreover, when parliaments represented not the 
nation but the faction of the baronage who for the moment con- 
trolled the machinery of election, its right to make kings was a 
dangerous doctrine to revive, and none understood better than 
Henry himself, how easily it might be wrested to his own undoing. 
To admit it, was to strike at the very stability of the government ; 
hence the shrewd cunning with which Henry, while accepting the 
crown at the hands of parliament, yet ignored parliament in mak- 
ing his claim. 

Thus after all the subterfuges of the politician have been brushed 
away, it will be seen that Henry's real title rested upon the right 
of successful revolution, and was strong because sup- 
of Henry's ported by. the voice of the nation represented in the parlia- 
ment of 1399. A precedent had been established which 
was to mean much, in future centuries when the Commons should 
constitute the controlling element in the parliament; but in the 
early fifteenth century the nobles and not the Commons gave dig- 
nity and force to the voice of parliament. Hence the revolution 
of 1399 was after all a victory of the later day barons oyer the 
crown. That it was accomplished in the name of the law, must 
not obscure its real character. Only so can we understand the 
real weakness of the so-called constitutional rule of the House of 
Lancaster or explain the pit of anarchy into which it finally plunged 
the English state. 

Henry was a man of fair abilities, naturally religious, temperate 

in habits, well balanced in temper. He was not cruel by choice; 

but he did not hesitate to shed blood if he could not 

atory poKe» gain his end by milder measures. He was too good a 

politician, moreover, not to see that the party in power 

could afford to be generous and that excessive cruelty was certain 

1399, 1400] THE LAST OF THE FAVORITES 4.31 

to breed reaction. Hence the first acts of Henry's reign are, for 
the times, remarkable for self-restraint. The lords who had stood 
by Richard and abetted his usurpations and shared in the plunder, 
were compelled to forfeit all that they had received from him in the 
way of titles and lands since the fall of Gloucester in 1397. Some 
called for their blood, but it was not in accord with Henry's policy 
to push the fallen to extremes. Appeals of treason in parliament, 
the "cause of so many revolutions" in the past, were forbidden. 
A man charged with treason was henceforth to be tried in a reg- 
ular court of law, and the crime limited to offenses specified by 

A deputation of lords, headed by Archbishop Arundel and the 
duke of York, urged Henry to put Richard to death. This cer- 
tainly could be done under the forms of law; for Rich- 
lithm-d " f ar( l was now a subject and also resting under serious 
charges preferred by parliament. But Henry probably 
saw that to destroy Richard would only transfer Richard's claim to 
tho powerful family of the Mortimers who, with their connections 
among the Percies, would be far more dangerous rivals than the 
lonely man now shut up safely in the Lancastrian stronghold of 
Pontefract in Yorkshire. 

The immediate friends and kinsmen of Richard, however, had 

neither been conciliated nor awed by the judgments of Henry and 

took advantage of his leniency to plot for a counter revolution. 

They proposed to surprise Henry at Windsor, cut him 

The first re- 
volt, Junu- off from the support of London and proclaim Richard. 

(tVlli 14(H). 

A priest named Maudelyn, who was the ex-king's double, 
was to play Richard's part until the conspirators could find Rich- 
ard himself, whose place of confinement seems to have been a 
secret. At the last moment the earl of Rutland let his father into 
the plot and York without a moment's delay warned Henry. 
Henry by a memorable night ride hastened to London, roused the 
populace, and within twenty-four hours took the field at the head 
of twenty thousand men. The conspirators fled westward to 
Cirencester, proclaiming Richard as they passed along. The coun- 
try people rose at the name, but not as tho plotters had designed. 
They flocked into Cirencester and, with the mayor leading them, 


attacked the house of the conspirators and compelled them to sur- 
render. Kent and Salisbury were at once put to death. Hunt- 
ingdon was in London but fled into Essex where he was straightway 
taken and dispatched by the populace. Lord Spenser met a like 
fate at Bristol, and Richard's double was ingloriously hanged at 
the Elms. 

The effect of the plot was threefold. It revealed the popularity 
of Henry among the people, and determined the uselessness of 

attempting a counter revolution. It gave proof of the 
cwfwiracy 6 na, t re< l °f the populace for the friends of Richard, and 
Richard revealed to the survivors how little they had to expect 

if they once fell into the hands of the mob. It also 
sealed the fate of Richard. The date and manner of his death, 
however, are unknown. A month after the conspiracy had col- 
lapsed, a body supposed to be that of the late king was exhibited 
and buried at Langley. 

Henry had now triumphed over the friends of Richard but his 
troubles had only begun. Since the recognition of David by 

Edward III. in 1357, the English and Scottish kings 

Tfcjivtt IV, 

and the had been generally on terms of peace; but it was impos- 

Scots 1400. , 

sible for either king to restrain his fiery border lords, 
and their ceaseless raids had kept the neighboring lands in constant 
alarm. The battle of Otterburn, better known as "Chevy Chase," 
belongs to this period. The truce which Richard had made had 
expired in 1399, and it was very important for Henry that it be 
renewed. The French court was not in any kindly mood toward 
the new English king, who had dethroned Charles VI. 's son-in-law, 
and had not only refused to recognize Henry, but had promptly 
demanded that Richard's child widow be sent home with her 
dowry. This Henry was not prepared to do, and a renewal of the 
French war was one of the probabilities of the near future. It 
was of great importance, therefore, for Henry to secure a pledge 
of neutrality from the Scots, and when the Scots hesitated, he 
determined to bring the matter to an issue and crossed the border. 
But the Scots declined to give battle, and, although Henry burned 
Leith and harried much country, he was forced to return without 
securing the object of his expedition. 

1400-1402] OWEN GLENDOWER 433 

The failure of the attempt to overawe Scotland was humiliat- 
ing enough, but the campaign had not yet ended when a new storm 
broke on the Welsh border. From the time of Edward 
Therbing I. 's conquest, the Welsh had remained fairly peaceful 
uieiuu>wer and were learning to consider themselves a part of the 
English kingdom. But the same lawless spirit which 
had made English nobles so hard to restrain east of the Severn, 
had asserted itself with even greater license among the wild glens 
of the west and was borne with no good grace by a people naturally 
excitable and quick to requite wrongs. Collisions between the 
Welsh and their English lords were matters of daily occurrence. 
In these petty conflicts a Welsh landowner, Owen Glendower, 
managed to gather a band of desperate men and soon developed a 
genius for the irregular warfare of the hills, and assuming the title 
of Prince of Wales gave to the insurrection the dignity of a 
national rising. All Henry's efforts to reduce him proved 
futile. Glendower retired into the mountains, and from inacces- 
sible crags defied the English until the approach of winter com- 
pelled them to withdraw. Then Henry turned the borders over 
to Henry Percy, whose experience and success in this kind of war- 
fare in the north, where he had won the name of "Hotspur," 
peculiarly qualified him for such work. But Hotspur found his 
match in Glendower. He could not protect the open country and 
held even his castles with difficulty. In 1402 Glendower defeated 
Edmund Mortimer, brother of the late earl of March, at Brynglas 
and took Mortimer himself prisoner. Henry again took the field, 
but after an inglorious campaign of three weeks, completely baffled 
by his wily foe, he was glad to get his famished army out of the 
wretched country. 

In the meanwhile, in marked contrast with these humiliating 
experiences of Henry, the Percies had won a brilliant victory over 
the Scots at Homildon Hill, capturing Douglas and 
jjfjg Murdoch Stuart, the earl of Fife. This victory deliv- 
ered the northern border, but soon brought fresh trouble 
for Henry. The wars which had been thrust upon him had pre- 
vented the reduction of taxation. The people, moreover, could not 
forgive his repeated failures; it mattered little to them that his 


poverty, the result of the niggardliness of parliament on the one 
hand and of his own scrupulous observance of the laws on the 
other, was largely responsible ; Henry had failed and the glory of 
the popular idol was dimmed. 

The storm broke where Henry perhaps had least reason to 

expect it. The Percies had been among his staunchest supporters. 

They had been the first to rally to his standard after 

The first ris- the landing at Ravenspur. For two years they had 

iiiQ of the iii i 

Percies, 1402. borne the brunt of the border wars; they had fought 
Henry's battles with their own retainers and had poured 
out their treasure to the extent of £60,000. Henry had repaid 
two-thirds of this debt but the balance of £20,000 still remained, 
and although the condition in which parliament kept the royal 
treasury made a further payment impossible, the Percies were 
inclined to hold the king responsible, and ascribed his backwardness 
to the fact that he did not appreciate their services. Homildon Hill, 
also, had turned the Percy head somewhat, and when the king refused 
to allow Hotspur to ransom Edmund Mortimer, who was his wife's 
brother, the Percies in their anger entered into a widely extended 
conspiracy for the overthrow of Henry, in which Douglas, Morti- 
mer, and Glendower, were all to take part. Under the pretext of 
invading Wales, Hotspur led his border raiders into Cheshire where 
he at once raised his standard, publicly charging Henry with the 
murder of Eichard and further accusing him of breaking his word 
in collecting taxes contrary to law and of interfering in the elec- 
tion of the parliament; he also proposed to make his little nephew, 
the earl of March, king. The Cheshire men, who had always been 
loyal to Richard, rallied at Hotspur's call and 
S j\\ui'™l >X i403 ena -l>led him to march upon Shrewsbury at the 
head of 14,000 men. Here Prince Henry, the 
king's eldest son, was stationed, and Hotspur laid siege to the 
place thinking that Glendower would join him. But the approach 
of the king compelled him to retire to a position three miles north 
of the city where some high ground offered an advantage to his 
Cheshire archers. The king attacked him, July 21, 1403, and 
gained a complete victory. The battle began at midday and did 
not end until night. It was one of the most obstinately contested 


battles fought in England in two centuries. Hotspur fell; his 
uncle, Thomas Percy the earl of Worcester, and Douglas were 
taken. Two days later Thomas Percy was put to death ; Hotspur's 
head was set up on London Bridge and the people were allowed 
the satisfaction of gazing at the ghastly trophy for a month. 
Hotspur's father, the old earl of Northumberland, surrendered at 
York as soon as he heard of the results of Shrewsbury. 

Henry's troubles with his barons were by no means ended. 
The experience of Hotspur had taught them caution, but they were 

more dangerous because they worked in secret. Henry, 
rtMnoof'tL nowever > was on hi s guard and in 1405 foiled an 
Pmncs. 1405- attempt to carry off the earl of March, whom he was 

safeguarding at Windsor. This attempt was speedily 
followed by a second rising of the earl of Northumberland, whom 
Henry had not only pardoned but restored to his estates. Ho was 
supported by Thomas Mowbray Earl of Nottingham, the son of the 
late duke of Norfolk, and Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York. 
Henry determined to show that his magnanimity hitherto had not 
been dictated by any fear of his barons and when Mowbray and 
Scrope fell into his power, he at once hurried them to the block. 
It was a wholesome lesson; for up to this time, a bishop's person, 
it had been supposed, was sacred, and kings had hesitated to shed 
a bishop's blood, although more than one had richly deserved it. 
Englishmen heard of the deed with the horror which they had 
once felt at the assassination of Becket; and like Becket, Scrope 
was raised into a sort of popular sanctity; miracles were reported 
at his tomb, and the failing health of the king, really due to the 
strain of so many cares and so much anxiety, was popularly 
ascribed to the sacrilege of sending a bishop to public execution. 
Percy fled to Trance, and secured a