Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Trinity, to whose superintendence she committed the new foundation. It consisted of a master, brethren, sisters, and alms people; and the revenues and endowments were most ample. The queens consort of England are by law perpetual patronesses, this hospital being considered part of their dower; "they nominate,pleno jure, the master, brethren, and sisters; may increase or lessen their number; and remove them, alter the statutes, or make new, at their pleasure." For many centuries did the lowly towers of Saint Katherine attract the gaze, and the prayer of the outward-bound mariner; and through many generations was the topsail lowered in reverence to its tutelar saint, as the well-manned galley, or huge carrack, laden with the precious freights of early commerce, slowly passed along. But those towers have crumbled into dust; and the noble church, erected in later days by a sister queen, has been but as yesterday ruthlessly destroyed:—of all the establishments founded by the pious gratitude of Maude of Boulogne, not even a nodding arch or a shattered column remains.

From the period of the foundation of the hospital of St. Katherine's, to the time of her death, no additional notice of Maude of Boulogne can be found.

Although, subsequently to the return of the empress to Anjou, and the death of her two most powerful supporters, the earl of Gloster and the earl of Hereford, England reposed in comparative peace; still it seemed to be the fate of Stephen, that perfect quiet was to be his, only in the grave. Scarcely was the temporal sword returned to its scabbard, ere he was menaced by the spiritual; for Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, having quarrelled with the haughty legate, the bishop of Winchester, Stephen was compelled, at the mandate of his too powerful brother, to prohibit his leaving the kingdom. The archbishop, who had been summoned to attend a council at Rheims, went; and having on his return been, by the king's direction, refused re-admission into the kingdom, he repaired to Framlingham, where, protected by the powerful earl of Norfolk, he proceeded to lay those counties that adhered to Stephen under interdict. The legate, at length, probably thinking that hostilities had gone to a sufficient length, by some means, not recorded, effected a reconciliation.

Ere this was effected, Maude of Boulogne was no more. She died at Hevingham castle, in Essex, on the 3d of May, 1151, leaving three children:—the eldest, Eustace, who was betrothed to Constance, sister of Louis the seventh of France, but who followed his mother to the grave within a year and a half; Mary, who became abbess of Romsey, but fled from thence with Matthew earl of Flanders, whom she married; and William, who, on the accession of Plantagenet, was confirmed in the earldoms of Boulogne and Moretoil, but who died at the siege of Thoulouse in 1159, leaving no heir.

The remains of Maude of Boulogne were conveyed by her sorrowing family to her favourite abbey of Feversham, where, amid all the imposing ceremonial and splendid rites of the period, they were consigned to that tomb, in which, ere three years had passed away, both husband and eldest son found their last resting place. Through almost four centuries—even until the noble abbey of Feversham, at the mandate of the eighth Henry, bowed her mitred head to the dust—was the prayer daily said, and the requiem sung; and scarcely could prayer be more appropriate than that which implored, for the worn and weary spirits of Maude and Stephen, the boon of eternal repose; or breathed over their mouldering remains the simple and most touching supplication, "Requiescant in pace"

[ocr errors][merged small]

CHAPTER VI.

Her early Marriage to the Emperor, Henry V. — His death — Her Return to her Father, and Recognition as future Queen—Marriage with Geoffrey Plantagenet—Separation, and Residence at Rouen— Reconciliation — The Death of her Father—Her Arrival in England — Events there—Final Return to Normandy—Her Religious Foundations—Her Death.

ALTHOUGH, in the preceding memoir, the most important period of the empress Maude's life has passed under review, still the history of one who was the most illustrious woman of her day, who was the first queen that wore the crown by hereditary right, and who was the mother of our Plantagenets, presents much to awaken the interest of the reader.

Maude the empress, as she is generally termed to distinguish her from her mother and cousin, was born in the fourth year of her father's reign, and was the second child of the " good queen Maude." Unlike her mother, nurtured to mature age in the quiet seclusion of a convent; unlike her cousin, rising by slow degrees to her regal elevation; the young Maude, soon after she had quitted her cradle, was destined to an imperial diadem. With Beauclerc (who, from the respect paid to him by the continental sovereigns, seems well to have earned the title so commonly given him by the monkish historians, of "most powerful") the emperor, Henry V. of Germany formed an alliance, and, according to the monk of Jumieges, demanded his infant daughter in marriage. A proposal so flattering to the ambitious mind of Beauclerc, was not to be postponed to a distant and uncertain day;— accordingly the chosen bride of him who swayed the sceptre of the Caesars, now between six and seven years of age, at the beginning of April in the year 1110, was committed to the charge "of one Roger, son of Richard, a kinsman of the kingwho, with a royal train of attendants, conveyed her from Dover to Witsand, and from thence to Utrecht, where they were received with every honour by the emperor and his court, who welcomed his infant bride "with the ineffable joy of a second father." * It is not improbable that the splendid gifts which, "after the royal usage," Henry sent with his daughter, and her princely marriage portion of 10,000 marks, might have had some effect in producing this "ineffable joy for the emperor advanced no claim to imperial contempt of wealth; however, the little Maude was betrothed on the Sunday after Easter, and subsequently, at the feast of St. James, she was conducted to Mentz,t where, amid a splendid assembly of "counts and bishops," the imperial crown was placed on her baby brow by the archbishop of Cologne—the archbishop of Treves, during the im* Simeon of Durham. f Jumieges, p. 573.

« AnteriorContinuar »