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NOTE 1, p. 11.
It is worthy of remark that the two popular Norman versions of this important point of history—the Bayeux tapestry, and the metrical chronicle of Wace—both coincide in this view. The tapestry commences^ with Harold's embassy to William, and in a subsequent picture he is represented with his hand on the relics, solemnly swearing fealty to him. In Wace, we are expressly told that Edward nominated William as his successor, and that William, after liberating Harold, at his own cost, from captivity, caused him to swear that, in the event of Edward's death, he would, "as seneschal," secure the kingdom to him. When William addresses his men at the battle of Hastings, Wace represents him as saying,—
"For truly, on this very land,
And after the battle, William proceeds to London, to be "elected" by the barons and clergy, and there asks "les Engleis" by what laws they will be governed.
NOTE 2, p. 6.
No instance of Norman cruelty has made so deep an impression on the popular mind as the establishment of the Curfew. This has probably arisen from unacquaintedness with the singularly early hours at which our forefathers commenced and finished the labours of the day. The matin service of the church at this period, and for centuries after, was five o'clock; and at this early hour, we find that not merely the common people, but high-born, and even royal women, were accustomed to
attend. High mass was at nine, and dinner immediately followed. At four the work of the labouring man ceased, and at five the pleasant chime of the even-song bell told that the labours of the day were over. The interval between the even-song, or vesper service, and complin, was devoted to various sports; and at seven, the officiating priest pronounced from the altar that final benediction, so emphatic in those unsettled times, "a good night, and quiet rest. One hour elapsed ere the Curfew was rung; and thus it really indicated the period when the whole population were accustomed to retire to rest. The story that candles were after this time prohibited in private houses, is wholly apocryphal; and the silly notion that fires were put out, is disproved by the very phrase "cnuvre-feu" which evidently alludes to the custom still followed in the northern parts of England, of covering up the fire with a turf or slow-burning coal. The curfew was rung in London as a signal for the apprentices to return home, and for houses of entertainment to be closed, even down to the period of the Reformation.
NOTE 3, p. 11.
After describing the eagerness with which the people listened to the preaching of the crusade, Malmsbury continues, "They hungered and thirsted after Jerusalem alone. Joy attended those that set out, grief oppressed such as remained. But why do I say remained? You might see the husband departing with his wife—indeed, with all his family. You would smile to see the whole household laden on a cart, about to proceed on their journey. The road was too narrow for the passengers; the path too confined for the travellers; so thickly were they thronged with endless multitudes. Doubtless, never did so immense a people subject their unruly passions to one, or almost to no, direction. For the strangest wonder to behold was, that such a countless multitude marched gradually through various Christian countries without plundering, though there was none to restrain them."
NOTE 4, p. 22.
This curious and unique specimen of needlework, is a series of pictures illustrating the treachery of Harold, and the invasion of England, worked on canvass with coloured worsted, in a kind of long cross-stitch. By some antiquaries it has been assigned to the time of the empress Maude's regency; while, by others, and apparently with more correctness, it has been placed as early as the time of the Conqueror, and is supposed to have been the work of his wife Matilda, and her attendant maidens. The canvass is about eighteen inches in breadth; each picture is divided from the other by what is intended to be a tree, and a border of rude arabesques and small figures is carried along the edges. Each picture is described in a short Latin sentence, worked in large letters at the top; and where the new abbey church of Westminster appears, the fair embroiderer, doubtless from admiration of its beauty, has worked, in addition to the inscription, a large hand pointing it out to particular notice. As may well be imagined, the designs are of the rudest character; still as authentic representations of the dresses, armour, and furniture, of the period, they are most valuable. But the colouring is singularly extravagant. Westminster Abbey has a blue and yellow roof, and red pillars; the planks of the ships are red, green, and purple. King Edward displays a blue and yellow beard, and Harold bears on his wrist a falcon of the same colours. The gallant steeds in the battle make a marvellously brilliant appearance: bishop Odo is very appropriately mounted on an episcopal purple charger; a goodly sky-blue horse is placed right across the canvass, as though he were hung up by the tail; and William prances gallantly forth on a noble green steed with three legs, one of them red with a yellow hoof. Some part of this tapestry has been engraved in Montfaucon; but the censure so justly bestowed on most of the plates in that learned antiquary's valuable works, applies even more strongly here. The artist has so improved his copy, that it ceases to bear the slightest resemblance to the original. It is in the coloured plates, published by the Society of Antiquaries, from the accurate drawings of the late Mr. Charles Stothard, that the reader can alone form an idea of this curious and ancient work.
NOTE 5, p. 30.
It is a very singular fact, that while in illuminations we meet with almost every variety of dress and furniture, we find no representations of the ancient dwelling-house. What, therefore, these were, is left almost to conjecture, and some writers have taken Hollingshed's description of the very rude dwelling-houses of the fifteenth century for their guide in judging what the dwelling-house at a still earlier period must have been. But the stone houses inhabited by our merchants at the close of this and during the following century, must have been of a far superior character; for we know that in the extent of their households, they emulated the state of the nobles. From the frequent mention of the gable, it is probable that all these houses had very high slanting roofs; and if the reader turns to the plates of some of the ancient chateaux in Normandy, it is probable that the very pattern of these ancient dwelling-houses will meet his eye. In regard to the question respecting chimneys, they certainly were in use at a much earlier period than is generally supposed. Mr. Britton has a drawing of part of a dwelling-house, in Norfolk, to which he affixes a date as early as the era of queen Maude, and each room exhihits a depressed arch scarcely larger than the modern fire-place, enclosing the chimney.
NOTE 6, p. 81.
In calculating the present value of these fines, it must always be borne in mind that the pound weight of silver was coined into twenty shillings; consequently that each shilling was three times the weight and value of the modern one. This, in the first instance, trebles the value: but in consequence of the scarcity of money, the pound weight of silver would purchase much more than it would in the present day. For the thirteenth century, Mr. Hardy (vide his Introduction to the Close Rolls) considers that the shilling would purchase five times as much; consequently we must multiply by fifteen. In regard to this century, as money was unquestionably scarcer, the rate must be higher; still, it is difficult to believe that the shilling was, as some writers have told us, equal to thirty modern ones. Many entries in this Pipe Roll seem to disprove so high a rate: and probably from twenty, to perhaps twenty-four, might be nearer the correct standard.
NOTE 7, p. 232.
The abbey of Fontevraud was situated in the province of Anjou, and was founded towards the close of the eleventh century by Robert d'Arbrissel, a Breton priest, who had been commissioned by Urban II. to preach the first crusade. Having performed this mission, he wandered about preaching the duty of forsaking the world. Soon surrounded by a multitude of enthusiasts, he selected the forest of Fontevraud for his residence, and the first indication of this wealthy and noble establishment was the collection of rude huts in which the superior and his disciples were content to dwell. Wealth, however, soon poured in: gifts of land and building materials accumulated; a lady, named Eremburgh, gave them the valley in which the great church was erected; the lords of Montreuil and Radegonde, the lands of Born, and the forest; princes and nobles offered largely ; and soon three hundred women, of the higher classes, took possession of their noble convent. Besides these, one hundred women of bad character, but who were desirous of reforming, dwelt in a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene; one hundred of the sick and leprous were placed in a hospital dedicated to St. Lazarus; and a number of monks occupied another convent near, and were chaplains to the different institutions. The ladies of Fontevraud, as the nuns were named, were distinguished by a singularly becoming dress, which they wore from the period of their foundation to that of their dispersion in 1793; this was a vest of fine white linen with lawn sleeves delicately plaited; a black stomacher and belt, a thin black veil thrown over the head, and a large black mantle falling from the shoulders.
The founder lived to see his establishment become one of the most illustrious in Europe. Toward the end of his life, he gave up his rule, and invested the beautiful Petronilla de Chemille as abbess, submitting himself, and all the convents, to the supremacy of a female head; and this singular arrangement was always adhered to in every convent that followed the rule of Fontevraud. In 1117, Robert d'Arbrissel died, leaving so questionable a character, that the attempt which was made soon after to obtain his canonization failed. Whatever were the faults of its founder, no censure has ever attached to his foundation. For many centuries it formed a safe and honourable asylum to nuny of the noblest women in Europe; and many of its abbesses, chosen from among the most illustrious families in France and the adjoining provinces, were distinguished for their literary attainments. Even in the present day, not a few noble and royal women on the continent, casting an anxious look toward the lowering future, may well lament that the ruined abbey of Fontevraud can no longer open its friendly gates to receive them.
NOTE 8.—p. 251.
Richard is said to have borne his captivity with greater equanimity than might perhaps have been expected. He beguiled his time by occasional trials of skill and strength with his warders, in which his great muscular power excited their astonishment. He also solaced himself with song; but it is very uncertain whether any lays of the royal troubadour are yet in existence. One, said to have been composed by him toward the close of his imprisonment, may be found in Sismondi, and from its characteristic spirit, may, not improbably, be the genuine composition of Coeur de Lion.
Note 9.—p. 272.
This very pleasing legend is in the Cotton library, Vespasian, B. X. The lines referred to in the text are curious, from the mixture of Latin words:
"L'oisel respunt avgtli swmts
E chaimez de halt si has