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century, the effect would have been to threaten the country exist only because create there a powerful nation; and the the party vanquished in the late civil Crescent never would have triumphed war are bent upon breaking the terms over the Cross in that land from which on which they were admitted to mercy, the West has drawn so much that is of They are fond of calling themselves the highest value in all its processes of Normans, though we have not heard intellectual culture.
much of their Norman origin since There is a reverse to this picture their Hastings went against them; but of the Normans. They had some very in respect to treachery and cruelty, and bad qualities, for they had no higher disregard of the rights of the poor and claims to perfection than is found in the helpless, they are the match of all the case of any other people. Mr. the barons of Normandy. James Augustus St. John, speaking of The Normans were often cruel, and the Norman princess Emma, who mar some of their modes of punishing their ried the English Ethelred, says, after defeated enemies – blinding them, and admitting her great personal beauty, cutting off their feet and hands, and that “ her mental qualities were very far inflicting on them the most degrading from corresponding with the charms of of mutilations – might lead one to supher person. Like all other Normans, pose they were of Eastern, origin, were she was greedy of gold, ambitious, self not such practices traceable to the ish, voluptuous, and in an eminent de- Northmen. These practices imply a gree prone to treachery.” * This may grossness of mind that is much at war stand for a portrait of the whole Nor- with the common notion of the gentleman race. Nor does it detract from ness and cultivation of the Norman notheir aristocratical spirit that they were bles. They were noted for their craft, ever fond of money, or from their chive their spirit of intrigue, and their readialrous spirit that they were faithless ness to get possession of the property when they supposed treachery would of others by any and all means. The best promote their interests. Aristoc most unscrupulous modern devotee of racies are always money-seekers, and Mammon would be ashamed of deeds often money-grubbers; and they plun- that never disturbed the placid egotism der all whom they have the power to of men who considered themselves the spoil. Alieni appetens is ever their flower of humanity and the salt of the motto, but sui profusus does always earth, - and whose estimate of them. go with it. The American slavocra- selves has seldom been called in quescy were the aristocracy of this country, tion. The fairer side of their conduct and they were far more greedy of with regard to money is visible in their gold” than ever “Yankees” have been sensible encouragement of “business” Treachery is common to the chivalrous in all the forms which it then knew. classes, and the history of chivalry is “ Annual Mercantile Fairs,” says Sir full of instances of its display by men F. Palgrave, “were accustomed in Norwho claimed a monopoly of honor. mandy. Established by usage and utilOur Southern chivalry
ity, ere recognized by the law, their orifaithful to every compact they made, gin bespake a healthy energy. Foreign and it was their infidelity that brought manufacturers were welcomed as setabout their fall. The dangers that now tlers in the Burghs,- the richer the bet* What Sir F. Palgrave says of the famous son of
ter. No grudge was entertained against Robert Guiscard is applicable generally to the Nor
the Fleming; and the material pros“Bohemond was affectionate and true to perity of the country and the briskness father, wife, and children, pleasant, affable, and
of commerce carried on in all the great courteous : yet wrapped up in selfishness, possessed by insatiate ambition and almost diabolical cruelty, towns, proves that the pack-horses could proud and faithless, but in spite of all these vices tramp along the old Roman roads with so seductive as to command the admiration even of those who knew him to be a heartless demon. "His facility. Indeed, amongst the Normans tory, Vol. IV. p. 471.
the commercial spirit was indigenous.
The Danes and the folk of Danish peasant, but he had no sympathy with tood were diligent traders. The greed his father's order. As in modern life of gasa unites readily with desperate the most determined aristocrat is often bravery. When occasion served, Drake the man whose origin is the lowest, wood deal like a Dutchman. Any so was it nine centuries ago, in Normode of making money enters into fa- mandy. Raoul was a sort of Clavercile combination with the bold rapacity house and Jeffreys in one person, and of the Flibustier." There was much he “enjoyed the sport of dogging material prosperity in Normandy at the the Villainage. He fell upon the Comclose of the tenth century, or less than munists ;- caught them in the very fact, a hundred years after Rollo had es. — holding a Lodge, - swearing in new tablished himself and his followers on members. Terrible was the catastrophe. French soil. The burgher class throve No trial vouchsafed. No judge called amazingly, and were the envy of all in. Happy the wretch whose weight who knew their condition ; and their stretched the halter. The country was military skill and valor were as famous visited by fire and flame; the rebels as their success in the industrial arts, were scourged, their eyes plucked out, and their wealth, which was its conse- their limbs chopped off, they were burnt quence. Free they were, or they would alive ; whilst the rich were impoverhave been neither rich nor valiant. ished and ruined by confiscations and The peasantry, too, were a superior fines.” Such were the good old times, people, who enjoyed much freedom, which never can return, Heaven be and who exhibited their bravery when- praised! Such was the origin of the ever there was call for its exhibition, - Norman nobility, destined to become facts which show that they must have the patricians of the world. The cruelbeen well governed, and which tend to ty with which the peasants were treatelevate our conception of the merits of ed by the new nobles is a type of the their rulers.
system that ever was pursued by men There was no such thing as a caste of the gentle Norman blood” toward of nobles in Normandy for very many a restless people. “The folk of Noryears after that country passed into mandie" had no mercy on men who the hands of the Northmen. About disputed, or even called in question, two generations after the death of Rol- their right to unrestricted dominion. lo, Richard le Bon, one of the most The Cotentin was the most imporpopular of his descendants, set up the tant part of Normandy, — was to Norstandard of exclusion, and created that mandy what Normandy was to the rest Norman nobility of which the world of Europe. It has been well described has heard so much for eight hundred as “not merely the physical bulwark years. The clergy were too powerful of Normandy, but the very kernel of in those days to be much affected by Norman nationality.” It now forms a his action, and the burghers were too part of the Département de la Manche, rich to be put down by a newly created and it holds Cherbourg in its bosom, – nobility; but the peasantry were greatly the Cæsaris Burgus of the Romans, injured by the change, as it created an which the French imperial historian order who were interested in oppress- of the first Cæsar is completing as ing them. They conspired, and their a defiance to England, thus finishing course bears some resemblance to that what was long since begun under the of the Fenians of our day. The “Com- old monarchy. Ages ago — even before mune was a word as alarming to Rich- the Romans had entered Gaul – what ard le Bon and his nobility as we call Cherbourg is believed to have nian” was at first to the most bigoted attracted Gaulish attention because of of Orangemen. The Duke employed its marine advantages. It is all but Raoul, Count of Ivri, to crush the Com- certain that the Romans fortified it. munists. Raoul was the son of a rich The Normans were children of the sea,
and they did not neglect it. The Nor- treaty of peace concluded between mans of the Cotentin were the purest Richard le Bon and Olave, the Norskmen of their race. They kept up that man, securing to the rovers the right connection with the ocean from which of free trade in Normandy. No certifisome other Normans revolted ; and cate of origin was required when the they were led from the land to the big bales of English stuffs were offered sea by the same inducement that had to the chapman at the bridge-head of sent their ancestors out of Scania, Rouen ; and the perils of England were the inability to find food there. “ The much enhanced by the entente cordiale population,” we are assured, — this expression has become techniteeming, the sterile land could not feed cal, and therefore untranslatable — subthem, but the roaring surges surround- sisting between Romane Normandy and ed them. All loved the sea, and upon the Northmen of the North.” the waves, and beyond the waves, they There is something amusing in this were ever seeking their fortunes. From extract; for it describes, as it were, and Hauteville, nigh Coutances, came the in advance, the state of things that exconquerors of Apulia and Sicily. And isted during our late war. The Seceswhen we call over Battle-Abbey Roll, sionists were our Danes, who, if they or search the Domesday record, or trace did not ravage our lands, cut up our comthe lineage of our [the British) aris- merce at a fearful rate, and not only tocracy, we shall find that the lords of found shelter and aid wherever the Engthese same Cotentin castles, with scarce- lish flag flies in authority, but were furly an exception, served in the Conquer- nished with ships by England and with or's army, or settled in the realm they men to work and to fight them, so that won." The plain English of which is, our last sea-fight was won over our old that they were the cleverest, the most foe on that summer day when the Kearactive, and the most successful robbers sarge sent the Alabama to look after of their day and nation.
the old Raven craft of the Northmen England was too near Normandy not that may be lying under the old Norto be an object of the first interest to man waters, and did it, too, off the Cothe Normans. At the close of the tenth tentin shore, just where the conflict century King Ethelred II. adopted a between Saxons and Normans began. course that was destined to have the King Ethelred, like President Linmost memorable consequences. Rich- coln in the case of the English, was ard le Bon bore himself toward the so unreasonable as to complain of the English much the same as the Eng- conduct of the Normans; and, again lish of to-day bore themselves to like our lamented chief, he could not ward us in the Secession war. The find any excuse for piratical action in Danes were then the worst enemies of the fact that “the Normans were a England, and the Norman government thriving and money-getting people," so far anticipated the Palmerstonian and supposed they had the right to get policy of neutrality, which consists in money by encouraging robbery. But, favoring the enemies of those whom unlike the American President, the Saxyou hate, as to throw open its ports to on king determined to have prompt and the ravagers of Normandy's neighbor. ample vengeance — if he could get it. * Without sharing the danger," ob- He indulged in as much loud language serves Sir F. Palgrave, “ Normandy as was uttered in Vienna last June, prospered upon the prey which the when Sadowa was yet an unknown Danskerman made in England. The name. He was bent upon vengeance, Normans were a thriving and money. stern and terrible. Now, vengeance is getting people. The great fair of Gui- a commodity that is dear when it is pry attests their national tendency. procurable gratis, but sometimes it is The liberal policy of the Dukes is also not obtainable at any price. And so forcibly illustrated by the remarkable Ethelred found it, to his cost. Having
formed his resolution to invade Norman was Edward the Confessor, who is dy, and lay it waste with fire and sword, popularly considered the very personiand bring back Richard le Bon with fication of the Saxon race, but who was him in chains to England, it remained half a Norman by birth, and wholly only to execute his design. The Eng- Norman by education ; for the successlish fleet sailed for the Cotentin, and es of the Danes compelled his family to landed a force which should have done become exiles, and his youth and eargreat things. But if the Normans of lier manhood were passed in Normanthe Cotentin were stout thieves, not dy.* When he became king, the Northe less were they stout soldiers. No mans had matters pretty much their greater error than that men must have own way in England. He remembered clean consciences to be good warriors. that Robert, Duke of Normandy, father The Normans rose to a man — and of William the Conqueror, had once even to a woman - against the invaders. made an attempt to restore the Saxon Knights and seamen and peasants and line in England, and that he failed only the peasants' wives, all armed; and the because his fleet was destroyed by a English were beaten so badly that they storm. Duke William's influence had could not have been beaten worse, had aided in his elevation to the English their cause been utterly devilish. But throne. His gratitude was expressed few of them escaped, — probably those at the expense of his people. Once who had the sense to run first; and crowned, Edward invited his Norman they got off in six ships, all the rest of friends to England. That country soon the fleet falling into the hands of the swarmed with foreigners, with whom Normans. The Norman Duke and the the king was more at home than he was British Basileus proceeded to make with his own subjects. Their language, peace, and the peace-making business the Romane, was his language. It was led to a marriage, one of many royal the language of the higher classes, the marriages which have produced ex- language of fashion, “the court tune." traordinary consequences, and led to Such strong places as then stood in much fighting, as if there were a nat- England were garrisoned by foreignural connection between wedlock and ers, and other Normans were settled war. In private life, marriage not un in the towns. The country was half frequently leads to contention ; in pub. conquered years before the year of lic life, contention often leads to mar Hastings. riage. Ethelred sought to “ engraft Duke William visited England in the branch of Cerdic upon the stem of 1051. He was most hospitably reRollo,” in the hope of increasing the ceived, and it is supposed that what he power of England. He asked for the saw caused him to form the plan that hand of Emma, sister of Richard le led to the Conquest. Edward admired Bon, and obtained it. This union was his visitor; and on the death of Edevery way unfortunate, and prepared ward the Outlaw, -- whom he had rethe road for the Conquest. The Nor- called from Hungary, with the intenmans who accompanied Emma to Eng. tion of proclaiming him as heir to land, and those who followed her, are the crown, -he determined that Wildescribed as “subtle, intriguing, false, liam should be his successor. He beand capable of any act of treason which queathed the English crown to the ruler promised to further their own fortunes.” of Normandy. Harold agreed to supThey bebaved as members of “supe •s. The heart of Emma clung more and more to her rior races” generally behave in coun native land. Her feelings were inherited by the chiltries inhabited by“ inferior races."
dren who were afterward born to her, -- they imbibed
them at their mother's breast. Their hearts were They obtained power and place, and thoroughly alienated from England, and the Nat used their influence to the detriment mans and Normandy became as their kindred and of England. The king and queen did their home.”– Palgrave, Vol. 111. p. 113. Edward's not live happily. One of their children ter of Harold.
wife was Editha, daughter of Earl Godwin, and sis
port this arrangement. On his death- great affection, and is suddenly cut bed, Edward said to Harold and his off by illness. The testator then rekinsmen, “ Ye know full well, my lords, turns to his will in favor of his cousin, that I have bequeathed my kingdom to who resides abroad. His acute and the Duke of Normandy, and are there active brother-in-law has taken the not those here whose oaths have been management of his affairs; is well ingiven to secure his succession ?” The formed of this will ; and, when the person to whom the crown should have testator is on his death-bed, he congone was Edgar Atheling, son of Ed- trives to tease and persuade the dying ward the Outlaw, and a lineal descend- man to alter the will again in his favor. ant of Ironside. Neither William nor This is exactly the state of the case ; Harold had any claim to the succession, and though considerable doubts have whereas Edgar's claim was as good been raised relating to the contradicas that of the Prince of Wales to the tory bequests of the Confessor, there throne of Great Britain is to-day. That can be no difficulty in admitting that Edward did not nominate Edgar must the conflicting pretensions of William be attributed, in part at least, to the and Harold were grounded upon the conviction that his nomination would acts emanating from a wavering and be treated with contempt by the parti- feeble mind. If such disputes take sans of both William and Harold. He place between private individuals, they feared, it is probable, that the nomina- are decided by a court of justice ; but tion of Edgar would give England up if they concern a kingdom, they can to the horrors of war, and that, after only be settled by the sword.”* And that prince should be disposed of by a to the sword Harold and William reunion of Saxons and Normans against mitted the settlement of the question. his claim, there would be another con- The two men who were thus arrayed test between the two factions of the in deadly opposition to each other were victors. He was incapable of the grim not unworthy of being competitors for humor of the Macedonian Alexander, a crown. Harold belonged to the who on his death-bed bequeathed his greatest Saxon family of his time, of kingdom “to the strongest ”; but his which he had been the head ever since bequest was virtually of the same nature the death of his father, the great Earl as that which so long before was made Godwin, which took place in 1053. in Babylon. His death led to great Earl Godwin was one of the foremost funeral games, which are not yet over. men of the ante-Norman period of
“Harold,” says Palgrave, “afterward England, though his character, as Mr. founded his title upon Edward's last St. John observes, “lies buried bewill; many of our historians prove his neath a load of calumny"; and he claim, and the different statements are quotes Dr. Hook as saying that “Goddifficult to be reconciled; yet, taken win was the connecting link between altogether, the circumstances are ex- the Saxon and the Dane, and, as the actly such as we meet with in private leader of the united English people, life. The childless owner of a large became one of the greatest men this estate at first leaves his property to country has ever produced, although, his cousin on the mother's side, from as is the English custom, one of the whose connections he has received most maligned.” “Calm, moderate, much kindness. He advances in age, and dignified, reining in with wisdom and alters his intentions in favor of a the impetuosity of his nature,” says. nephew on his father's side, — an amia- Mr. St. John, “ he presented to those ble young man, living abroad, — and around him the beau ideal of an Engfrom whom he had been estranged in lishman, with all his predilections and consequence of a family quarrel of long prejudices, the warmest attachment to standing. The young heir comes to
* The History of Normandy and of England, the testator's house, is received with Vol. III. pp. 293, 294.