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with its precious freight, and all on board perished; and of the three hundred persons who embarked in the white ship, but one soul escaped to tell the dismal tale. This person was a poor butcher of Rouen, named Berthould, who climbed to the top of the mast, and was the next morning rescued by some fishermen. Fitz-Stephen, the master of the luckless white ship, was a strong mariner, and stoutly supported himself for some hours in the water till he saw Berthould on the mast, and, calling to him, asked if the boat with the heir of England had escaped: but when the butcher, who had witnessed the whole catastrophe, replied, "that all were drowned and dead," the strong man's force failed him, he ceased to battle with the waves, and sank to rise no more.1
The report of this disaster reached England the next day. Theobald of Blois, the king's nephew, was the first who heard it, but he dared not inform his uncle of the calamity which had rendered his house desolate. Besides the heir apparent of England, Prince William, the Saxon chronicler says there was another son of Henry and Matilda, named Richard, and also Richard, a natural son of the king; Matilda, his natural daughter, Countess of Perche, Richard Earl of Chester, his cousin, with his bride, the young Lady Lucy of Blois, daughter of Henry's sister Adela, and the flower of the juvenile nobility.
King Henry had reached England with his fleet in safety, and for three days was permitted to remain in a state of the most agonizing suspense and uncertainty
respecting the fate of his children. No one choosing to become the bearer of such evil tidings, at length Theobald de Blois, finding it could no longer be concealed, instructed a favourite little page to communicate the mournful news to the bereaved father; and the child, entering the royal presence with a sorrowful step, knelt down at Henry's feet, and told him that the prince and all on board the white ship were lost. The great Henry was so thunderstruck with this dreadful news, that he staggered and sank upon the floor in a deep swoon, in which state he remained for many hours. When he recovered, he broke into the bitterest lamentations, magnifying at the same time the great qualities of his heir, and the loss he had sustained; and the chroniclers all agree that he was never again seen to smile.
It is Henry of Huntington who exults so uncharitably over the catastrophe of the white ship, in the following burst of poetic eloquence:
"The proud youth, he thought of his future reign, when he said he would yoke the Saxons like oxen. But God said, 'It shall not be, thou impious one, it shall not be;' and so it has come to pass, that brow has worn no crown of gold, but has been dashed against the rocks of the ocean. 'Twas God himself who would not that the son of the Norman should again see England."
Brompton also speaks unfavourably of this unfortunate young prince; but it should be remembered that England was a divided nation at that period, and the Saxon chroniclers wrote in the very gall of bitterness against those whom the Norman historians commended. Implicit credence is not to be given to the assertions of either. It is only by reading both, and carefully weighing and collating facts, that the truth is to be elicited.
In the last act of his life, William Atheling manifested a spirit so noble, so tenderly compassionate, and forgetful of selfish considerations, that we can only say it was worthy of the son of Matilda, the good queen.
The young wife of Prince William was left a widow at the early age of twelve years. She was not among the devoted company who sailed in the white ship.1 Henry I. was much attached to her, but she returned to her father, the Earl of Anjou, and remaining constant to the memory of her princely consort, she was veiled a nun at Fontevraude. The body of Prince William was never found.
Queen Matilda's only surviving child, the Empress Matilda, thus became King Henry's heiress presumptive. She was the first female who claimed the royal office in England. The events of her life are so closely interwoven with those of the two succeeding queens, Adelicia and Matilda of Boulogne, her cotemporaries, that to avoid the tedium of repetition, and also to preserve the chronological stream of history in unbroken unity, which is an important object, we must refer our readers to the lives and times of those queens for the personal history of this princess, from whom her present majesty Queen Victoria derives her title to the crown of England.
1 She was with King Henry in bis ship.
SURNAMED THE FAIR MAID OF BRABANT;
Adelicia's beauty—Imperial descent from Charlemagne—Parentage— Her father's vow—His patriotism—Standard embroidered by Adelicia —Captured—Preserved at Church of Liege as a trophy—Adelicia sought in marriage by Henry I. — Richly dowered—Emharks for England with Henry—Marriage delayed—Disputes of ecclesiastics as to the right of performing ceremony—Decided—King and Queen parishioners of Archbishop of Canterbury—Violence of ArchbishopHe crowns Adelicia—Her beauty eulogised by poetic chroniclers— Her prudence—Encouragement of literature—Empress Matilda—Adelicia childless—Empress Matilda heiress of England—Kept in Adelicia's chamber—Difficult position of the Queen with her stepdaughter —Great friendship between them—Dissensions between Henry and his daughter—Second marriage of the Empress—Irascibility of Henry— Adelicia's conjugal virtues—Deathof her uncle,Pope Calixtus—Matilda quits her hushand—Returns to England—Remains with the Queen— Reconciled to her hushand—Birth of Prince Henry—Death of King Henry—His obsequies—Adelicia's respect for his memory—Offerings —Her trouhadour writes King Henry's life—Her widowhood—Her second marriage—William Albini—Her dowry—Palace—Arundel Castle—Receives Empress Matilda—Message to King Stephen—Magnanimity—Departure of Empress—Conjugal happiness of Adelicia—Remembrance of King Henry—Charters—Her children—Respect of her second hushand—Charitable foundations at Arundel—Her younger brother abbot of Affligham—Retires to nunnery of Affligham in Flanders —Dies there— Record of her death in that abbey—Buried there— Prayers for her soul—Her issue by Albini —Her brother Joceline of Louvaine—Adelicia ancestor of two of our Queens.
This princess, to whom cotemporary chroniclers have given the name of "the fair maid of Brabant," is one of the most obscure characters in the illustrious catalogue of English queens. Tradition, and her handmaid Poetry, have, however, spoken bright things of her; and the surviving historical records of her life, though brief, are all of a nature tending to confirm the good report which the verses of the Provencals have preserved of her virtues and accomplishments.
Descended, through both her parents, from the imperial Carlovingian line,1 Adelicia boasted the most illustrious blood in Christendom. She was the eldest daughter of Godfrey of Louvaine, Duke of Brabant and Lotheir, (or Lower Lorraine,) and Ida Countess of Namur.2 Her father, as the great-grandson of Charles, brother to Lothaire of France, was the lawful representative of Charlemagne. The male posterity of the unfortunate Charles having been cut off by Hugh Capet, the rights of his house became vested in the descendants of his eldest daughter, Gerberga.3 Lambert, the son of this princess by her marriage with Robert of Louvaine, was the father of Godfrey. Ermengarde, the second daughter of Charles, married Albert, the third Count of Namur, and their sole daughter and heiress, Ida, (the mother of
1 Howard Memorials.
4 Betham's Genealogical Tables. Buknet's Trophies of Brahant. Howard's Memorials of the Howard Family. * Ibid.