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made, and the precaution of the empress's party, on this occasion, gave melancholy proof that the principles of chivalrous honour were but little regarded, even by the chief men of the kingdom. As the earl was confined in Rochester castle, and the king in that of Bristol, it was necessary that one should be released previously to the other, and this advantage was accorded to Stephen. Fearing, therefore, that the king's friends, when he was set at liberty, would refuse to fulfil their part of the contract, the earl and his friends not merely exacted oaths from the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of Winchester, which, for further security, were notified, under their own hands and seals, and forwarded to the pope; but the queen and one of her sons actually became hostages for the release of the earl, and remained as such in Bristol castle until he had safely arrived there.
But the joy with which the empress welcomed her devoted brother was soon allayed by the recollection that all her anxieties, and all his unremitted exertions, had been in vain; Stephen, the darling of the people, was free again, and supported, too, by that powerful prelate, whose representations had induced the empress to come over to England, and whose influence, as it had placed the crown on her brow, had also been effectual to remove it. Still, the empress was unwilling to relinquish a contest, of which the prize was a kingdom ; and again, under their respective leaders, the people rushed to arms. A severe illness, which attacked Stephen early in the spring, revived the hopes of the empress and her party j and, determined to make one more vigorous effort, a deputation of her friends went over to solicit the aid of her long neglected husband. But Plantagenet, who had been unsummoned to partake in the triumphs of his wife, felt little inclination to leave his hereditary dominions to aid in restoring a crown which had been justly forfeited by her pride; he therefore refused to take any part in the contest, and the disappointed barons returned home. Unwilling to leave any measure untried which could advance the cause of the empress, Gloster, understanding that the count had expressed unwillingness to negotiate with any save himself, set out to endeavour to win him to the cause, having first placed the empress with a sufficient garrison in the castle of Oxford.
While he, the chief commander, was absent, Stephen, now recovered from sickness, appeared before the town, and summoned the inhabitants of the castle to surrender. The city of Oxford seems, from the chronicler's account, to have been at this period entirely surrounded by water; the men at arms, therefore, confiding in this natural bulwark, mounted the battlements of the castle; and while they repelled his approach with showers of arrows, pointed to his heavily-armed cavalry, and insultingly dared them to ford the river. Most ill-judged was their scoff,—for Stephen suddenly recollecting that in one part at least, the river was fordable, reckless of ponderous coat of mail, or of the scale armour of his destrere, plunged into the water, followed by his whole company of gallant horsemen, and made answer to their insulting defiance by breaking open the ill-guarded gates of the town by the blows of his
weighty battle-axe. In the confusion which followed, Stephen, at the head of his valiant company, entered, driving all who opposed his progress into the town; while the empress found herself, for the third time, in imminent danger of falling into the hands of the enemy. In agonized terror, she now earnestly implored the aid of Heaven; but not content unless she secured the protection of her, whose worship unhappily about this time was beginning almost to supersede that of the "one God," she vowed to the Virgin, that if she escaped in safety, a noble and well-endowed abbey should lift its towers in memorial alike of her vow and of her deliverance. Most dangerous was the situation of the empress at this time. She could not remain in the castle, for the enemy was even then at the gates; and yet to depart was as perilous, for it was early in spring, and bleak, and snowy, and the nearest asylum which she might reach was Wallingford Castle, which stood full ten miles off. But no time was to be lost; the welcome darkness was approaching; and the delicately nurtured and haughty empress, stripped off mantle, and broidered robe, every part of her dress which might betray her rank, or impede her flight, and "sans coverchef," according to Langtoft's homely rhymes, and in nothing but her undermost garments, in the midst of a fall of snow, did she who had worn the diadem of the Caesars, pursue after midnight her wretched flight to Wallingford. Here she arrived in safety ; and ere many days had flown by, in the unexpected delight of seeing her faithful brother and her eldest son, from whom she had been separated almost four years, the empress Maude enjoyed perhaps an ample compensation for all the hardships she had so lately endured. Faithful to the vow preferred in her need, the empress within the two following years founded and endowed the abbey of "Notre Dame du Voeu" at Cherbourg, for monks of the Augustine order—an establishment which subsequently received large additions to its revenue, and a proud charter of privileges, from the munificence of her son when king.
From the period of this her most signal escape, the name of the empress Maude disappears from the page of general history. With her darling son she appears to have retired to Gloster, in which city, as well as in most of the western counties, she was still recognized as queen; but it was little more than an empty title that she possessed; the two most important cities, London and Winchester, were firm in their allegiance to Stephen; and the whole eastern line of coast, every maritime town with the exception of Bristol, owned his sway. The continuance of the empress in England was therefore most probably dictated by affection for her son, who was committed for education to his excellent uncle, the earl of Gloster, who, now released from the toils of war, gathered around him at his castle of Bristol, where he resided in almost royal state, every scholar and man of letters of the day. For this most disinterested relative, most valiant leader, and most munificent patron of literature, an early death was appointed; and in the year 1147 the empress had to mourn over the grave of a brother, who, nobly superior to selfish considerations, fought for five long years, and endured a stern imprisonment, to place that crown which he might have challenged for himself, on the brow of a mere half sister.
During the same year Milo the earl of Hereford, another of her firmest and most powerful adherents, having died, the empress, wearied at her eight years' unsuccessful contest, committing her young son (whom not improbably she hoped to see eventually in possession of the English crown,) to the care of her uncle, king David of Scotland, quitted England for ever.
From the period of her quitting England to the time of her husband's death, we find no account of her proceedings; nor can we ascertain on what terms this unhappy and long-divided pair passed the later years of their union. In September, 1150, Geoffrey Plantagenet died of fever;—"a comet/' according to the usual belief of those days, "foreshowing the count's death." He was followed to his grave by the tears and prayers of his subjects, to whose interests he had ever shewn himself most devoted; and such was their affection toward his memory, that it is asserted that he was the first person ever buried within the walls of Mans. His obsequies were performed with great solemnity, and his remains were deposited before the cross in the church of St. Julian, where a noble monument, decked with gold and precious stones, "exhibited the revered image of the count," and a pious distich supplicated for him who had ruled so justly