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herents of the empress in Surrey. Still, although war was raging on the opposite side of the river, and the hostility of the Londoners was very clearly expressed, the empress thought not of danger ; not even until the day when, as she was sitting down to dinner, a loud tumult was heard outside the gates of the castle, where she had taken her residence (probably Baynard's castle), and she was warned by a secret messenger, that unless she saved herself by instant flight, she would fall into the hands of the queen's army. Leaving the table cloth spread on the board, the empress and her suite mounted on the swiftest horses, fled as for their lives, and soon passing the city walls, pursued their way to Oxford, followed by numbers of the citizens, who, but for the extreme swiftness of their flight, would have overtaken and brought them back.*
Ere the empress was out of sight, Maude of Boulogne and her army entered London; and the citizens, crowding round this gentle but high-minded woman, spontaneously swore allegiance to her and their captive sovereign. But to have chased away the empress, although from the capital of her kingdom, brought no gladness of heart to Maude of Boulogne, while her husband remained prisoner in the hands of his enemies. She therefore entered into a negotiation with her perjured but most powerful brother-in-law, the bishop of Winchester, and received from him assurances that, disgusted with the haughtiness of the empress, he had determined to throw the weight of his influence affain
* Gesta Stephani.
into the cause of Stephen. As the city of Winchester was at this period considered a place of equal importance with the metropolis, Henry of Winchester set himself vigorously to fortify it; more especially as the castle was in the hands of the empress's adherents, who sent to her immediate intelligence of the defection of him, her most powerful ally.
Instantly on receiving this unwelcome news, the empress summoned to her standard her brave brother-in-law the earl of Gloster, the numerous barons who still adhered to her cause, and sent a pressing message to her uncle David of Scotland, to repair to her at Winchester, whither she proceeded with her army. Here she was admitted into the castle, and awaited the arrival of her friends. And thither came Robert of Gloster, and Reignold earl of Cornwall, and Milo earl of Hereford, and Ranulph earl of Chester, "and many more, whom it would be tedious to mention," says the author of the Gesta Stephani.
But Maude of Boulogne was not inactive: she summoned her brave and trusty William d'Ypres and earl Waleran; and with a numerous company of Londoners she advanced to Winchester, to succour her brother-in-law, whose episcopal palace, situated scarcely an arrow-shot from the castle, was sustaining an active siege. Seven weeks did the contest of these rival queens continue; and during this time the wealthy and royal city of Winchester incurred irreparable injury. By night and by day, fires, caused by the inflammable missiles cast from the castle battlements and the towers of the episcopal palace against each other, broke out in the city; and ere the long siege concluded, two abbeys and forty churches, besides private dwellings, were consumed.
At length success, far more complete than her own hopes, or even the expectations of her warmest partizans had warranted, crowned the strenuous exertions of Maude of Boulogne. The castle yielded; the empress and her whole army fled; while, not merely did many wealthy and powerful nobles fall into the hands of the pursuing victors, but earl Robert of Gloster was made prisoner. The joy of the queen at this last most important advantage, knew no bounds; for she now felt assured that her husband's release from captivity was at hand; and anxious to secure this end, for which alone she had laboured so unceasingly for the last six months, she entered into immediate negotiations with her prisoner. In these for some time she was foiled; Gloster objecting to being exchanged for the king, unless his fellow-nobles were set free also; and her followers, who hoped to obtain large sums of money in ransom for the captive lords, opposing with equal determination her views. Gloster, during these negotiations, was committed to Rochester castle, where the general liberality of his treatment contrasted strongly and most favourably, with the disgraceful conduct pursued towards the king. Still, indefatigable in her endeavours to procure the liberation of Stephen, Maude of Boulogne pursued her negotiation. She visited Gloster in his prison; and finding bribes, such as a queen alone could offer, unavailing to gain him over, she had recourse to threats, and assured the captive earl that he should be sent close prisoner over seas to her hereditary town of Boulogne, unless he joined with her in her exertions to obtain the freedom of the king. Gloster is said to have replied, that death was as near in Rochester castle as at Boulogne; and his friend and eulogist, Malmsbury, assures us, that this spirited reply deterred the queen from her purpose. Other writers have given a different and a more probable reason for her leniency ; it is, that, if the queen had sent Gloster to Boulogne, his wife, a high spirited woman, and equally devoted to her husband, would retaliate, by immediately sending Stephen over to Ireland.
At length, after many fruitless conferences and many long delayed negotiations, Gloster was exchanged, on All-Saints'-day, for Stephen, who, after a captivity of nine months, was again restored to freedom.
From this period to that of her too early death, the history of Maude of Boulogne will be found rather in the pages of the Monasticon, than in the records of the chronicler. Early in the following year, not improbably from feelings of gratitude to Heaven for the liberation of her husband, she founded and endowed the Cistercian abbey of Coggeshall; she also, about this time, like her aunt and namesake, upon the death of the abbess of Barking, took the administration of the affairs of that convent, until the election of a successor, into her own hands. In the year 1146 or 1147, Stephen, now enjoying the blessings of comparative peace, determined to found an abbey; and Maude, desiring to join with him in what was then considered so good a work, offered the manor of Lillechurch, part of her inheritance, which, together with the king's manor of Middleton, was exchanged with William d'Ypres for his manor of Faversham, which, with other lands, had been granted to him on his creation as earl of Kent. The king and queen then removed the prior Clarembald and twelve monks from the Clugniac priory of Bermondsey, to Faversham, where a noble abbey was swiftly built; and Clarembald being appointed abbot of the new foundation, it was solemnly dedicated in the presence of the king and queen, and a great concourse of the nobility, to "the Saviour of the world." So anxious was the queen for the completion of this work, that it is said that, during most of the time it was building, she was accustomed to reside at the abbey of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, to be near at hand to give the necessary orders.
The last work of charity and devotion in which Maude of Boulogne engaged, was the foundation of that hospital, which, amid the general wreck of monastic establishments, alone, of all the splendidly endowed charities of the queens of England, even to the present day remains. This was the hospital of St. Katherine near the Tower, which was founded in 1148 for the repose of the souls of Baldwin and Maude, the two eldest children of the queen, both of whom died in infancy. The site, on which there was a mill, she purchased of the priory of the Holy