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William The Conqueror

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Chroniclers of the life of William the Conqueror do not agree in regard to the date of his birth. The generally reported and most common acceptation is that this interesting event took place in the year 1027, though the addition is usually made that it may have been 1028. Thomas Roscoe, who in 1846 published a life of William the Conqueror, after immense research and being the first to have taken advantage of the then recently discovered Haddon manuscript, asserts definitely that "William I., surnamed the Conqueror, King of England, and Duke of Normandy, was born on the 14th day of October, in the year 1024." Jacob Abbott, in his history of the Conqueror, gives an elaborate chronological table of the Norman line from the time of the banishment from Norway of Rollo, who became the first of the Dukes of Normandy; until after the birth of William. In this table the death of Richard II is placed at 1026, and the assertion is made that William had been born two years before this time. However, while it is interesting, in the life of so strong and gigantic a character to know the exact date of birth, it is not essentially important as compared with the events of his youth, manhood and mature years; combining as they do a career of illustrious achievements. Ambition, supported by a daring and indomitable spirit and by wisdom which seems little short of marvelous, places him at once as the fore-most figure of that stirring age. As a mighty warrior, a wise legislator and an educator, his genius shines forth with equal brilliancy. He was the creator of an era, the influence of which stamped itself indelibly upon all future generations of England and to a large extent upon all Europe. He overcame obstacles of the most formidable character and by his own exertions reached an eminence so lofty that the characteristics of his Kingdom have remained through centuries the pathway followed by his successors in the great dynasty founded by him. He was stern and strong, great power made him to a degree tyrannical and sometimes cruel, but he was also magnanimous and progressive, so progressive that the Dukedom of Normandy even after by conquest he had greatly extended its boundaries, was too small to contain the full measure of his genius. For this he required a great nation and the Anglo-Saxons became the instrument of his ambition. William the Conqueror was the son of Robert, sixth Duke of Normandy. His mother was Arlette, the daughter of a tanner at Falaise. She was, according to the modern expression, a common law wife, a circumstance which at that period was not regarded in the same spirit which it is to-day. Of the boyhood of William, historians pre-tend to know but little, although it is recorded in the Nouvelle Histoire de Normandie that at the early age of five he engaged in mimic war as commander of a troop of infantile warriors. When the boy was nine years of age his father, being about to set out on a pilgrimage, called together the nobles of his dukedom and formally designated his son, who had no legitimate claim to the succession, as his heir. He named King Henry of France as the guardian of the child and when he set out took the lad to Paris and placed him with King Henry's court during his absence. There are no details of William's life at the French court, but it is presumed that the education which his father had begun was carefully proceeded with and the chroniclers announce that he was assiduously eager in the acquisition of knowledge. In the year 1035 while William was still at the French court, his father died. In the meantime his uncles and other relatives in Normandy had intrigued to usurp the ducal crown and the death of Duke Robert became the signal for a great movement toward arming among the Barons of the duchy, who were as jealous of each other as they were of the new and youthful Duke. Among these aspirants were many who had sworn to protect and cherish him at the time he was named successor by his father. But the young Duke was not without friends, though they were few. The brave De Gace became at once the protector and first tutor in war of the young Duke. Under the leadership of this faithful warrior and through the efforts of the Ducal Council sufficient order was restored to formally install William as Duke of Normandy at Falaise. Scarcely had this been accomplished when the Earl of Arques, brother of the late Duke Robert, laid claim to the crown. He succeeded in bringing to his side the vacillating King Henry and their armies took the field against William. Here the future conqueror displayed for the first time his ability to cope with great difficulties. He personally led an army against the strongest castle of the Earl, left a force to besiege it and gave orders to the pre-tender to appear at Rouen to do homage, while he marched with a body of select troops to meet the army of King Henry which was approaching to join that of the Earl. William resorted to one of those stratagems for which he afterward became noted. King Henry led a brave array of knights, nobles and German allies directly into the trap that had been prepared for him, a valley with rocky sides where were posted the Norman bowmen. When the French army entered the valley, it received from both sides a storm of deadly arrows and in the confusion which followed, the Norman men-at-arms and a body of horse fell upon the luckless French and wrought terrific carnage. The King retreated as he had come with his shattered forces, leaving many prisoners of rank in the hands of the victor. The young Duke magnanimously set the prisoners free and continued the siege of Arques. Soon after he learned that the King of France was again advancing with an army. Then, according to Abbé Prevost, "he first began to know himself, and to devote his mind to war in earnest as one covetous only of honor." Here, too, it was for the first time that he uttered the great oath which became memorable amidst the perils of his future eventful career. Surrounded by his knights and vassals, with uncovered head, he swore : "By the splendor of God, I swear never to depart from this spot until the strong place of Arques shall be in my power." The oath was responded to by all and soon after the fortress capitulated without striking a blow upon the approach of the determined-appearing array. William allowed his traitorous uncle to escape but confiscated his estate. The result of this victory was that the King of France made peace with William. Revolts continued with frequency in various parts of Normandy and William continued his campaigns wherever necessity required, always successful and always magnanimous. In the meantime he administered the civil and ecclesiastical power in a most judicious manner. He published a general amnesty after five years of this strife and offered clemency to the still turbulent factions. "Be it known," was one of the clauses of this amnesty, according to the Nouvelle Histoire de Normandie, "that barons, knights, vassals and all other Normans, shall lay down their arms and not make use of them till necessary to defend their own hearths and homes." He encouraged arts and industries in the cities, and, says Walsingham, "promoted commerce, public buildings and free ports." Instead of indulging his genius for war he advocated peace and sought to maintain it with neighboring States. He even made overtures along these lines to King Henry, but at the same time made himself friendly with those Princes who were jealous of the monarch. In the midst of these peaceful pursuits a conspiracy was hatched against him by Guy of Burgundy, his relative and the companion of his boyhood, whom he had enriched and favored in many ways. Guy's castles became the rendezvous for William's enemies and they conspired to overthrow the young ruler and establish Guy in his place. Grenoult du Plessis, lord of the powerful district of Cotentin, was one of those who joined this league. It happened that William entered this district on a hunting trip and when it became known, the conspirators determined to assassinate him at the town of Valognes, where he was stopping. A jester attached to William's court discovered the plot and informed his master, who fled in the night, pursued by the conspirators and it was only after a most perilous journey that he safely reached Falaise. The incident is believed to have occurred in 1044 and Roscoe asserts that it is well authenticated. Knowing that their plot had been discovered, the conspirators had to choose between war and flight, and decided on the former. They raised an army of 20,000, composed of mercenaries and adventures, and marched against William, who was illy prepared after the campaigns of the recent years. In this extremity he appealed to the King of France with such strong arguments that the former foemen furnished troops and William signally defeated his enemies. He mercifully forgave most of them and the most severe punishment inflicted was banishment. This practically ended the wars of the Barons and attempts at usurpation in Normandy, and from this time on William was only engaged in wars with foreign Princes and potentates. In 1046 William is again found in peaceful pursuits, enacting laws and promoting commerce and attempting to form a naval power. Once more he was interrupted by the outbreak of war in which he was called upon to aid his ally and suzerain, the King of France. Geoffrey Martel, Earl of Anjou, laid claim to an integral portion of the French monarchy. He prepared to besiege the King in his capital. Not daunted by the much heralded skill and strength of Geoffrey's arms, William threw himself into the breach, stood between the army of the Earl and the city of Paris and completely out-generaled his adversary by capturing the castle of Moulines, and penetrated into the very heart of the Earl's dominions. In this campaign he person-ally directed every operation in the field and was ever in the thickest of the conflict. But such was the ingratitude of King Henry that when he made peace with the Earl, William was not made a party to the compact. This treaty, which was made in 1048, placed William in a position of the greatest peril, finding himself in an enemy's country and deserted by his ally. His only expedient was to retreat, and this was accomplished with consummate skill. Geoffrey with his army was in pursuit and carried the fortress of Alencon by assault and also captured the fortress of Dumfront. William retreated to Falaise, which he fortified and having reinforced his army, at once set out to meet the enemy in the open field. He appeared before Dumfront and demanded its surrender. At the same time the foe was marching upon him with a greatly superior force. William now received aid from an unexpected source, the result of his clemency on a previous occasion. The able military leader, Niel, one of the conspirators who had been pardoned, came to pay a debt of gratitude and brought with him 5,000 warriors. With this aid the fortress was compelled to capitulate and Geoffrey made no further effort upon Normandy. He started for his own capital with Niel in pursuit and William and his army following. This campaign resulted in wresting the city and territory of Mayenne from the Earl of Anjou, thus extending the power and frontier of Normandy. He then marched upon Alençon, which was still in the hands of the enemy. The Normans besieged it and the besieged amused themselves by shouting taunts and jests at the troops of William, reflecting on his birth and coarsely alluding to his mother by shaking hides and leather aprons over the walls and calling upon the Nor-man tanners to come forward. This so enraged William, that having made an assault and captured some prisoners, he had their hands and feet cut off and had them thrown over the walls. This had a terrifying effect upon the defenders of the place and they surrendered. Geoffrey was now glad to make peace at any cost, but William. did not take advantage of the opportunity to dishonor his adversary. On returning to Normandy in 1051 with his victorious army, he called a council of the nobles, had them renew their pledge of fealty and distributed honors and rewards among those who had been faithful and had served him well. He announced on this occasion that he intended to pay a visit to his relative and ally, King Edward of the English court. The claim is made by some historians that King Edward had promised Duke Robert of Normandy that he would name William as his heir in the event that he died without issue. But whatever the motive that took William to England he was magnificently received and entertained, King Edward having during his exile found comfort and protection at the court of Normandy. The King was still childless and aged and the question of succession in England was becoming critical. When William returned to Normandy, he decided to enter into a matrimonial alliance. He had selected Matilda of Flanders, daughter of Baldwin V., Earl of Brittany, and descended on the maternal side from the great King Alfred. She was highly accomplished and beautiful, but she herself and her relatives opposed the alliance. Historians relate that William pursued his suit for seven years before he finally succeeded in winning her consent. There was also another difficulty. They were first cousins and the bulls of the papal court forbade marriages of relatives within certain pre-scribed limits. The marriage took place, it is stated, at Augi, and after a tour with his bride of his dominions, he opened his court at Rouen. William's uncle, the Archbishop Mauger, soon afterward excommunicated the couple on alleged grounds of close consanguinity, though the claims of William were that his uncle was prompted by malice. In vain he sought to appease the prelate and finally appealed directly to Pope Victor, through the after-ward celebrated Lanfranc, with the result that he was finally absolved. But again the clouds of war were gathering. The close connection of William with the court of England, his conquest of a part of Anjou, and finally the alliance with Flanders brought about by the marriage, gave umbrage to the King of France, who began to suspect and fear the growing power of his vassal. In this attitude the King was sustained by his nobles, who had not yet forgotten the defeat at Arques and were eager for revenge. The King was advised to strike a decisive blow and annex Normandy to the crown of France. The vain monarch needed but little urging. He collected his army and started for Normandy after having invited the powers with whom he was allied to take part in the conquest. His real intentions were kept secret and his apparent object was to restore to Geoffrey the tracts which William had taken by conquest. The Earl naturally joined the King against William. But the alert and able ruler of Normandy was not to be taken by surprise, as his enemies intended. Hastily he marshalled two powerful armies, composed of his veterans, vassals and free bands who had been drawn to his banners by the fame he had acquired in previous campaigns. William, with his own force, marched to oppose the King and sent the other army, under Count d'Eu, to occupy the district of Caux before the arrival there of Earl Eude, King Henry's brother, who was advancing at the head of a powerful army. Eude proved to be not an able general, for at Evreux, Guiffard, one of William's distinguished leaders, fell upon the French army and won a complete and bloody victory. The entire baggage of this section of the French army was captured and ten thousand dead are said to have been left upon the field. The announcement of this defeat filled King Henry with terror and he began a retreat, while the troops of William harried him on every side. The victor made reprisals upon the dominions of his enemy, captured Tilliers, which he had long coveted for a border, and there built the fortress of Breteuil. Fearful of further encroachments by the victorious William, the French King sued for peace and this was concluded and ratified in 1059. About this period the Count de Maine died and, having named William his heir, that vast and rich territory was added to Normandy. In 1060, another desperate effort was made to wrest from William the fruits of his many victories. The young Count of Anjou, nephew of the famous Geoffrey Martel, at the head of a numerous host aspired to bring about the down-fall of William. Preparations were going forward to have the fickle King Henry join the movement, but the death of that monarch prevented the proposed alliance. William, in the campaigns against his new enemy, trusted not so much to force of numbers as to the quickness of his movements and the skill in guerilla warfare of which he had become master. Combats were frequent but none of a decisive nature until the young Martel and his con-federates had advanced to the Dive, threatening Rouen itself. Then, at Varaville, came the opportunity for which William had waited, and here, after a forced march, he fell upon the enemy and the havoc wrought by the Norman spear and sword and the deadly Norman arrows, was, according to Duchesne and others, so terrific that this battle, with the exception of Hastings, must rank as the most sanguinary of the conflicts engaged in by the Conqueror. This victory made William undisputed master and enabled him once more to turn his attention to bringing prosperity and progress to his dominions. How successful he was is still evidenced by the remnants still to be seen of the once beautiful edifices scattered through-out Normandy. His court, which was conducted with much magnificence and splendor, became the rendezvous for men of learning and high character. But the time was now fast approaching when William was destined to enter upon the greatest of his achievements the conquest of England. It was in 1064, according to all of the narrators of those times, that Harold, the son of Earl Godwin, of England, paid a visit to Normandy and a brief glance must be taken at the object and the result of this visit. King Edward of England was growing old. He had no son nor any direct successor and as has already been shown, William of Normandy would probably be designated by him as his successor. Harold was an aspirant to the throne, and but one thing stood in the way of open efforts on his part in this direction. King Edward and Earl Godwin, Harold's father, had been at war, and when they agreed to terms of peace, Godwin had given hostages to Edward as a pledge of fealty. The hostages were Woolnoth (or Ulnoth), Harold's younger brother, and Hacon (Haakon), his nephew. When Godwin died, Harold applied to King Edward for the release of the hostages. But the wary King had sent them to Normandy and placed them in charge of William. This placed a power in William's hands which would aid him in his effort to succeed Edward as King, and Harold determined to visit William and secure the release of his brother and nephew, which would leave him free to pursue and forward his own aspirations. Harold set out with a splendid retinue, intended to impress William with his wealth and power, but all pomp disappeared when his galley was shipwrecked on the coast of Ponthieu. He was received with every mark of honor and friendship by William, whose acute mind at once grasped the favorable opportunity which had presented itself to him. He announced to Harold in due time his aspirations to the throne of England, and asserted that such was the desire of King Edward. He further requested of Harold his goodwill and cooperation in the fulfillment of these prospects and promised in return to make Harold and his family among the greatest in the Nation. Harold, being practically a prisoner in William's hands, acquiesced to this proposition. But William was suspicious, and to make the compact more binding he arranged a pledgetroth between his daughter, Princess Adeliza, and Harold, and the ceremony between the affianced parties was celebrated with great show before the assembled nobles and dignitaries of the Church. Adeliza was at this time a mere child and the troth to which Harold swore was that be would marry her when she became of suitable age.

Still William was not satisfied that he had sufficiently bound Harold and finally required him to solemnly swear in the midst of a great assemblage, with his hand upon a chapter of the evangelists, to support William's claims to the throne. The missal upon which he swore was laid upon a cloth of gold and when the oath had been taken, William had the cloth removed and revealed to Harold that he had also sworn upon a casket containing the sacred relics of the Church, which made the oath doubly binding. All was now in readiness for the departure of Harold for his own country, and while William consented that one of the hostages should return with him, the brother of Harold was required to remain in Normandy as a further guarantee that Harold would remain faithful to his promises. In this instance as in most other cases in history, of compulsory compacts, they were made but to break. Shortly after Harold's return to, England, King Edward died. His death took place January 5th, 1066. The only legitimate heir to the throne was Edgar Atheling, son of the King's nephew, Edward. Although in the lineage, he was a foreigner, too young to make any pretensions in his own behalf and had none to take his part. According to the Haddon manuscript, Edgar was present on the day following the death of the King; when Harold, with the assistance of Aldred, Archbishop of York, crowned himself King, with the full approval of the nobility. Before leaving St. Paul's, where the ceremony took place, Harold knighted young Edgar and made him Earl of Oxford. It was evident from the first that the reign of Harold was not destined to be one of peace. The Danes were already preparing for another invasion and Harold's brother, Tostig, was, soon after his brother's accession, busily engaged in foreign courts urging strife against his own brother. These reports coming to Harold did not disturb him, for he was more of a warrior than a statesman. Normandy had by this time, under a strong, able and enlightened government, completely recovered from the ravages wrought by foreign foe and domestic struggles, and William had to all appearances been busily making preparations for the great move which he was now about to undertake, for he had given much attention to shipping, the construction of good harbors and the improvement of ports. Tostig was the first to bring to William the intelligence of Edward's death and Harold's accession. He called a council of his lords and prelates and with their sanction sent an embassy to England to remind Harold of his sacred promise and calling upon him to renounce the crown. The reply, that Harold held himself in no manner responsible to the Duke of Normandy, was anticipated by William. He laid the matter before an assembly which represented every interest in his dominions and received their unanimous pledge of swords and fortunes. After several months of the most strenuous toil William had assembled a fleet of three thousand vessels of all sizes and a well-equipped army of 6o,000 men, under the leadership of some of the most distinguished warriors of the day. He had been joined by volunteers from every nation, had received the sanction of the papal court and exacted aid even from his inimical vassals of Anjou and Brittany. France had absolutely declined to enter into the enterprise.

After a discouraging delay caused by adverse winds, William's fleet finally got under way and on September 28, 1066, arrived in the Bay of Pevensey on the Sussex coast. William was the first to land, and as he sprang from the boat, he, like Casar when he landed in Africa, slipped and fell. Like Cesar, too, he turned the accident into a good omen with the exclamation, "By the splendor of the earth, I have seized England with both my hands." He sent out scouting parties in various directions and finding no trace of the enemy, pitched camp, had his ships taken into deep water and scuttled, and set about constructing a wooden fortress upon which to fall back in case of need. Four days after his arrival he learned that the Danes, who had preceded him with an invasion of the country, had been defeated by Harold at Stamford Bridge. William made no movement to leave the place where he had first encamped but calmly waited the arrival of Harold, meanwhile occupying his army with evolutions and particularly in the stratagem of feigned retreat, which he afterward employed to good advantage. He still had some hope of attaining the English crown without blood-shed and sent a monk to once more remind Harold of his vows. He received in reply announcement that vows made while a captive could not be counted upon, and advising him to retire at once to Normandy. William's position between Pevensey and Hastings was well adapted for a battleground and especially for the movements of the Norman horse. In this arm as well as in archers the English army was deficient, relying mainly on the solid masses of infantry armed with the sword and battleaxe. When Harold finally approached the Norman invaders, he established a strongly intrenched camp seven miles from the encampment of William. Some further negotiations were attempted by William. Among other propositions made by him was one to fight Harold in single combat. Finding these efforts useless he decided to give battle. On Saturday, October 14th, William's birthday, was fought, according to "Lives of the Queens of England," the battle of Hastings, as it is known, but the encounter took place at a spot called Heathfield, seven miles from Hastings, where the town of Battle now stands. At dawn the Norman army was drawn up in battle array. William addressed those within sound of his voice from a small eminence, inspiring them with valor and confidence. Beside him was the consecrated banner that had been presented to him by the Pope. Then mounting his famous horse, Bayard, William placed himself at the head of the corps of Normans and cavalry. He had divided his army into three corps. The first was in command of Roger de Montgomery, and the second of the young Geoffrey Mar-tel. The point of each corps was occupied by archers. The whole army advanced into attack led by Taillefer, the minstrel-warrior, singing the song of Roland, in which the whole army joined. He challenged anyone in the English army to single combat. He killed his first adversary and his second, but was himself slain by the third. The Normans now began the attack. Harold's army was in two divisions, one to defend the intrenched position, the second forming the rear and reserve. In point of strength the armies were about equal. Following a storm of arrows from the bowmen, the Normans made a terrific onslaught upon the English and none but veterans would have withstood the shock. William led the attack with his right wing but made little impression upon the enemy, which was here composed of the stanchest warriors of the army, headed by the famous Kentish men A cavalry charge was tried against them but the charge was received without faltering, upon the point of the English lance, and William then called upon his veteran infantry to charge. The carnage which now began was terrible. Spears and lances were soon cast aside and in their place the sword and battleaxe were employed. Both sides fought with the greatest valor. The English feared more the arrows of the archers than the hand-to-hand conflict with the Nor-mans. Harold displayed the greatest bravery, appearing everywhere in the thickest of the fighting. The stubborn combat continued for hours. During this time William had three horses killed under him and served as an inspiring example for his troops. Harold also engaged in the battle with the greatest recklessness and although he had been wounded by an arrow continued to mingle with his men and keep them from getting into disorder and confusion. At noon neither side could have been said to have gained any advantage, although the slaughter had been enormous. It was stratagem that won the day for William. Finding that his repeated attacks upon the positions of the English availed nothing, he ordered a general attack with the understanding that in the midst of the mêlée a feigned retreat was to be inaugurated. The English fell completely into the snare and the Normans suddenly fell in compact forces upon the confused pursuit of the English, pierced their squares on all sides and inaugurated a butchery that was appalling. Still they fought with desperation until almost nightfall. The intrenchments were carried and the English cut down by thousands. Harold, fighting to the very last, was struck by an arrow which pierced his eye and killed him. Still the English stood their ground. There was no rout or retreat according to the chronicles of the time. Nor were any prisoners taken. The army of Harold was practically exterminated, including his brother and all the leaders. The number of slain among the Normans is variously placed at from six to twelve thousand, while the registry rolls deposited in Westminster at the time, show the English loss to have amounted to the tremendous figure of sixty thousand, the army being exterminated almost to a man. The following day William rested at Hastings to refresh his soldiers, dispatched messengers to carry the news of his victory to Normandy and his allies, and marched on London.

There were none to oppose him. The Nation seemed unable to rally after the blow it had received. With the conqueror's entry into London, a new epoch in his remarkable career began. His march to London left behind him a vast trail of devastation, and panic seized upon the inhabitants wherever he approached. He left a strong garrison at Dover and also garrisoned and fortified other points of importance along his triumphal march.

Terror reigned in the councils of the nobles and prelates. One effort was made to raise Edgar Atheling to the throne before the arrival of the Conqueror, but the effort was quickly abandoned on his approach. A weak attempt was also made to oppose the approach of William by the Earls Edwin and Morcar, but their armies were routed by a charge of five hundred Norman horsemen, which demonstrates the extent of the terror which had been inspired into the breasts of soldiers and civilians alike. On nearing London he was met by a delegation of nobles, who invited him to ascend the throne. Two months after entering London, William was crowned King of England. For a brief time he remained, or feigned to remain, the same affable, magnanimous ruler which he had shown himself to be in Normandy, but he soon became arrogant, harsh, unjust and cruel. He established a system of secret police and threw off the mask as soon as these and his troops had made him feel secure, and began a system of almost pauperizing the nobility of the Nation. He also permitted his army to carry out the most violent excesses and neither sex, age, beauty nor virtue were regarded by the ruffianly soldiers in their enormities. William indiscriminately dismissed Englishmen from positions of trust or honor and installed Normans, and in addition to depriving the English of their rank and positions he also seized their estates, erected barracks in positions to overawe the chief towns, and ruled with a rod of iron. In March, 1067, William set out for a visit to Normandy and carried with him a vast quantity of spoil, together with such of the English nobles whom he feared might organize a revolt against him. In spite of his precautions he was compelled to hastily return to England December 6, arriving at Winchelsea the following day, and while his appearance at London served to over-awe those who were there plotting against him, the English in several sections of the country were preparing in deadly earnest for revolt. Early in the following year these revolts began to take on a serious aspect.

At Exeter, the people rose at the instigation of Githa, the mother of Harold, seized the fortress and called upon the neighboring inhabitants to join in the revolt. William soon appeared upon the scene with an army, and after a siege of eighteen days compelled the rebels to surrender and sue for mercy. Githa escaped with her life and treasure into Flanders. The Conqueror next marched into Cornwall and suppressed the symptoms of revolt there, returning to Winchester to celebrate the Easter festival with Queen Matilda, his consort, who had arrived from Normandy. Their joint coronation was celebrated on a magnificent scale in the abbey of Westminster on Whit-Sunday, 1068. In this year a fourth son was born to William. He was named Henry and afterward ascended the throne of England. William, during this time, spent several months in tranquillity with his family, devoting himself largely to the making and changing of laws. In 1069 insurrections again called the attention of the monarch and he sent his family back to Normandy. The persistent system of confiscations and unjust violence perpetrated against vassals and lords under the name of law, had rekindled the torch of rebellion. Both clergy and laity, deprived of office and robbed of their lands and estates, eagerly rallied under the banners of Earls Edwin and Morcar in the North. They were aided by Malcolm, King of Scotland. William was not taken unawares. With a powerful army which he had already equipped for this very purpose, he proceeded north by forced marches and before the confederates had fully prepared and while still waiting some of their reinforcements, he fell upon them and won an easy victory. The city of York surrendered and its citizens were compelled to build a mighty fortress in which William installed a strong Nor-man garrison. Returning in triumph, he now began to carry out his confiscatory system against the English nobility to the fullest extent. The estates of rebel lords were transferred and ecclesiastical offices of trust turned over from the English to Norman hands. The noblest families, according to Ingulphus, were imprisoned, banished or reduced to penury. He struck boldly, fiercely and relentlessly at the base of the English power, civic, military and ecclesiastical. But he had not yet blotted out all his enemies. The sons of Harold, with the aid of Der-mot, King of Ireland, made a sudden descent upon the Devonshire coast with sixty-six vessels. They were defeated and driven back to their ships. Next to join in the insurrection were Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Salop, and the Isle of Ely. In the North, the Governor of Durham, with seven hundred of his followers, had been set upon and massacred. This, according to Robert Cummin, took place the 29th of January, 1069. There was an uprising of the people of York and they slew the Governor, Fitz Richard, and laid siege to the castle. Soon after-ward a Danish fleet appeared upon the Humber with an army under Earl Osborne, and this was followed by another under Hacon. These were induced to withdraw from the contest by the payment of large sums of money, In the meantime King Malcolm, at the head of a strong force composed in part of English exiles, invaded Cumberland and Northumberland, ravaged the country as far as Durham, destroyed Holderness, and perpetrated acts of great cruelty and sacrilege. Edgar Atheling and Earls Waltheof and Werleswain marched to the support of the York insurgents. On September 19th the Normans made a sally from their castle and set fire to the town, destroying a part of it. Then the infuriated inhabitants carried the castle by assault and put the entire garrison of three thousand to the sword. The movement to throw off the Norman yoke spread rapidly and the revolt became more formidable each day. Walsingham and others record that William became so enraged that he swore not to leave a single soul alive in Northumberland. With an imposing army he hurried to the support of his generals and his advent seemed to paralyze the efforts of the rebels. The inhabitants were made to suffer the devastation of both armies. The rebels scattered and William pursued the army of Malcolm and came up with him in Lothian, where peace was effected and William pardoned many of the exiles. He spent Christmas at York after having reestablished his power. It was the third insurrection and by no means the last. For a brief period a deceitful calm ensued, but in the following year on the outbreak of fresh disturbances, William again resumed arms and went into the North. From the Humber to the Scottish borders fire and famine marked his path. The country was completely devastated and Hoveden asserts that almost the entire population was swept away. It became a desert, maintains that chronicler, without dwellings and without people and so remained for ten years. From this period forward William left no means unemployed to keep the people in abject subjection. The vice of avarice was also growing upon him. He learned that some of the English had concealed their riches in the monasteries and at once ordered a thorough search for the treasure. Everything that his agents and spies could find was confiscated to the crown. Having crushed another insurrection, William tried a conciliatory measure by making Waltheof, with whom he had come to terms, Earl of Northumberland. The Earl married Judith, the niece of William; and later on he entered into another rebellious conspiracy, repented and informed his wife, who betrayed him to William with the result that on April 29, 1075, the unhappy Earl was executed near Winchester, being almost the last survivor of the Anglo-Saxon nobles. After an expedition against the Scotch and one against the Welsh, William once more found himself master of the situation. By a gradual deprivation and confiscation every interest had been merged in the crown. The clergy had shared the same fate as the nobles. They no longer divided penalties and forfeitures with the King. He had totally deprived them of their temporal power and confined them strictly to the limits of the Church. The privileges of cities, towns corporate, and other chartered bodies were inquired into and in order to maintain their previous standing they were compelled to pay over great sums of money. Vast wealth was thus transferred into the public exchequer. As a final resort to deprive the people of the means of rebellion, he compelled them to give up all arms. Punishments of the most severe character were inaugurated for the slightest infractions and especially was this so in regard to any violation of the forest regulations. Having thus thoroughly cut off all resources for outbreaks among the crushed and disheartened people of England, he turned his attention to Normandy, where a serious revolt, headed by Fulk, Earl of Anjou, had just broken out. As he had conquered the English with Normans, so he now defeated his rebellious Normans with English troops which he carried into Normandy. From this time, he began to appreciate the military capacity of the English and this caused him to somewhat abate the discrimination he had shown against that nationality. During William's absence in Normandy another conspiracy was inaugurated in England, this time by some of the Norman Barons who called to their aid the Danes and English. After a brief struggle the malcontents either fled the country or were captured and imprisoned. The following year was tranquil, but in ío76, being called to Normandy by the hostilities carried on by the Earl of Norfolk, he pursued the enemy into Brittany and besieged him at the city of Dol. The Duke of Brittany and the King of France, however, came to the assistance of the Earl and William was compelled to abandon his project, losing at the same time his entire baggage. At this time discord in William's domes-tic life began to assume such formidable proportions that it resulted at last in a revolution carried on against the monarch by his own son Robert. The son demanded the fulfillment of his father's promise to give him possession of Maine when he became of age. To these demands William paid no heed. Robert openly revolted, gathered about him an army of the adventurous youth who espoused his cause, and aided by allies who were anxious to widen the breach between father and son, he took the field against his father. William drove the rebels before him to the castle of Gerberoy, to which he laid siege. To add to his chagrin at this time William discovered that his wife was supplying the renegade son with funds to carry on the rebellion. Having received reinforcements Robert finally confronted his father's army in the open field and during the battle wounded his father. This led to a reconciliation. Robert was placed at the head of an army in England to operate against the incursions of the Scotch and this served to keep him out of further mischief. In 108i William commenced the great national census which resulted in the famous Doomsday book. The survey con-ducted by his commissioners gave the most minute particulars in regard to every city, town and hamlet in the Kingdom and by this system he contrived to add to his annual revenues a sum equal to five million dollars in our money. In 1083 William was called to Normandy to attend the deathbed of his consort, to whom, according to the best authorities, he had been faithfully attached through all of his trials and successes. There are stories attributing to him great cruelty to her, but their sources are of a questionable character. One of these was to the effect that he beat her to death with a bridle. At this time King Canute IV of Denmark was preparing to invade England, but during the following year, on learning of the preparations made to resist him, abandoned the project. King Philip of France and his allies had not yet given up their designs on Normandy, however, and in 1086 William took the field against the confederates. The French armies had already crossed into Normandy and were ravaging the country when the Conqueror advanced against the enemy. The French retreated and William entered the city of Beauvais in triumph. Here he fell sick and in this condition agreed to the peace pro-posed by Philip. By slow marches he returned to Rouen and was placed under a course of treatment by physicians, one of the objects to be attained being to reduce his extreme corpulence. King Philip at this time on a public occasion inquired in a scoffing tone, whether "the good old woman of England was yet in the straw." This remark was reported to William and in great rage he announced his intention to punish Philip for the insolence. Immediately on his recovery he led an army into France and laid waste everything in his path. The town of Mantes, among others, was attacked and burned. Here he received the injury which resulted in his death. He had entered the town in triumph at the head of his army when the animal he was riding stepped among some hot embers and plunged, throwing the Conqueror forward on the pommel of his saddle, and severely injuring him. He was at once conveyed to Rouen where, notwithstanding the efforts of the best physicians, he grew gradually worse. Finding that he must die, the monarch had himself removed to the monastery of St. Gervais in order that he might die on holy ground. He was struck with keen remorse for the many great wrongs committed by him during the closing years of his life and did what he could to atone for his sins by liberal donations to the Church and charities. He also ordered that the English nobles and other prisoners be set at liberty. 'He bequeathed to his son Robert the Duchy of Normandy and Maine and to his second son, William, the crown of England. His death took place September 9, 1087, at the age of sixty-three. He had reigned over England nearly twenty-one years and held the ducal power of Normandy fifty-three years. It is narrated in the ancient chronicles that after death the Conqueror's body was left in charge of some inferior officers, his sons having hastened to possess themselves of the bequests left to them. The officers plundered the personal belongings of the monarch, stripped the body and left it on the floor where it remained until the Archbishop of Rouen ordered that it be taken to Caen and buried in the Church of St. Stephen. None, however, cared to undertake the charge until a poor knight, Herlwein, took it upon himself to convey the body to Caen. There he was met by the abbot and monks and while carrying the remains to the Church, a fire broke out and the body was once more abandoned. Finally it was brought to the abbey Church and the ceremonies began. At the end of a discourse by the Bishop of Evreux, a young man named Anselm Fitz Arthur sprang up and protested against the burial of the body on that spot, which he claimed had been forcibly seized from his father by the Conqueror and afterward given to the Church. He produced witnesses and was subsequently remunerated for his lost inheritance. It is asserted that when Chatillon occupied Caen in 1562, the tomb was plundered by soldiers, who, finding nothing of value, scattered the bones about the street.

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