Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Bath, and elevated her chancellor, Simon, to that of Worcester. During this period the royal court seems always to have been on progress. In 1122, Henry kept his Christmas at Norwich, his Easter festival at Northampton, and his Pentecost at Windsor. During the summer he visited London: from thence he proceeded to Durham; then into Northumberland; then he returned to Dunstable; then to Berkhampstead ; and finally to Gloucester.* The leading thus about the menaye of a royal court, which consisted of several thousand followers, was a grievous injury to the agricultural population, by whom a royal progress was viewed with almost the same dismay as the advance of a devastating army. The monkish historians of this period, who are always to be found taking part with the poor and oppressed, indignantly record the unbearable extortions and the atrocious cruelty of the purveyors of the royal household. To burn the wheat which they could not carry away; to spill on the ground the wine they did not choose to drink; to wash their horses' feet in the beer which they suffered to run to waste; to assault, grievously wound, and sometimes even to kill, those who remonstrated, were incidents of common occurrence among them. At length these disorders arose to so great a height that the king determined to suppress them; and with that prompt decision, which was so eminently his characteristic, he appointed a commission. The guiltiest of the purveyors were convicted at its bar, and in the loss of a hand, a foot, or an eye, afforded

* Vide Henry of Huntingdon.

their companions a stern proof of the determination of the king to award equal justice. It was this punishment, inflicted on his own purveyors, and the equally severe sentence executed some years after, by his express command, on nearly all the mintmasters of the kingdom for debasing the coin, which has caused the name of Beauclerc to appear on the pages of the Saxon Chronicle, with the eulogy of "a good man was he."

Like his father, Henry seems at each of the three great festivals to have "borne his crown," and this crown seems always to have been imposed by the hands of an archbishop. In the year 1126, at the holy tide of Christmas, king Henry, having summoned all his nobles to Windsor, repaired to the altar in the chapel to receive his crown from the hands of William de Corbeil, the archbishop of Canterbury. Here, however, Thurstan, archbishop of York, interposed, asserting the superiority of his see, and demanding that himself should crown the king. Upon this the chronicler relates, that a bitter strife commenced between the two archbishops—a strife which went beyond a mere war of words, since it was only ended by the forcible ejection of Thurstan's accolyte, together with the cross which was carried before him,* out of the king's chapel;

* "The pastoral staff of patriarch, or metropolitan, is a processional cross with two transverse bars; that of the pope has three."—(Vide Dr. Milner, vol. i. Archaeologia.) Laughable as this contest seems, we must however bear in mind, that the pastoral cross was the badge of spiritual jurisdiction wherever it was carried; and therefore the ejecting of the cross-bearer was a denial of the authority of the owner. This processional cross often played an important part: on state occasions it was borne before the metropolitan by a chaplain, who stood with it beside him if he preached; but, when anathema was pronounced, the prelate took it into his own hand, waved it, and struck it on the ground.

"for it was the judgment of divers bishops, and men well informed in ecclesiastical laws; and it was now confirmed, that no metropolitan should be permitted to have his cross borne before him beyond the limits of his own diocese."* In this contest for the primacy Henry seems to have taken an active part with Canterbury ; for in 1130, at the re-dedication of its cathedral after extensive repairs, he and the queen, and the king of Scotland, attended and made offerings; and on that occasion a new seal was made, in the legend of which it was expressly asserted that Canterbury "was the first chair in England/'f

A more peaceable, though in its after effects far more disastrous, cour plenidre, was that which Henry held in London at the commencement of 1127, when his daughter Maude (who, on the death of her husband the emperor Henry V. of Germany, had returned to England,) was presented to the assembled nobles, and when they all took the oath of fealty to her, with the saving clause, "except the king should have a son." Soon after, Henry set out for Normandy, apparently for the mere purpose of visiting his continental dominions, but in reality to conclude an alliance with his powerful neighbour the earl of Anjou, whose vicinity rendered him either a most advantageous ally, or most

*Cont. Flor. Wigorn, p. 1148. The battle of the crosses, notwithstanding this decision, was revived, from time to time, for more than two centuries after; nor, until the reign of Edward III., did the metropolitan of York finally yield the primacy to his brother of Canterbury. The reader, desirous of seeing all the pros and cons of the argument, may consult Drake's "Eboracum."

f"Sigillum Ecelesia* Christi Cantuar. prima? sedes Britannia?."— (Vide Britton's Canterbury.)

formidable enemy, to the ruler of Normandy. Soon after, the marriage of his daughter Maude with young Geoffrey Plantagenet, the earl of Anjou's son, was completed; and Henry, unable to foresee the troubles that would arise from that ill assorted union, returned well pleased to England.

The concluding years of Henry's reign did not fulfil his expectations. The barons were offended that they, the legitimate counsellors of the crown, had not been consulted on his daughter's marriage; and his gallant nephew, the only son of Robert, so shamefully robbed of his birth right possession (Normandy), was successfully engaged in inciting the Norman barons to resistance. Attempts at conspiracy were from time to time detected among some of his most confidential servants; and still mourning the loss of his darling son, and a prey to anxiety, suspicion, and the most mournful forebodings, the richest and wisest monarch of Christendom dragged on a miserable existence; more miserable, perhaps, than those hapless victims of his revenge—Robert, his brother, whom for so many years he immured in Bristol Castle; and his cousin, the haughty Moretoil, whom, blinded and fettered, he kept so long in the Tower, that all men had forgotten he was living.* Nor did the welcome intelligence of the birth of a grandson in 1132, nor the perhaps still more welcome news of the death of his gallant nephew, which gave him undisturbed possession of Normandy, avail: he hurried from

*Vide Brompton, whose character of Beauclerc forms an emphatic contrast to that of Malmsbury.

place to place, with the vain hope of flying from himself, while such were his fears of assassination, that he every night changed his sleeping room.

Of the fair Adelais, during these years, little can be known; and although the complimentary verses of the anonymous author of the "Voyage of St. Brandan" exhibit her as repressing strife in the land, and promoting its prosperity, by her wise counsels ;* yet her history, down to the death of Beauclerc, is rather to be traced in the literary annals of the period, than in its political records.

The beautiful and idolized queen of the wealthiest and most literary monarch in Europe, Adelais soon drew around her an even more numerous company of minstrels and scholars, than the "good queen Maude" had done. They seem also to have been of a higher order; for about this period that important separation between the trouvere and the mere jongleur became general; and the poem, no longer the rude production of the wandering minstrel, but the carefully finished work of the clerc lisant, who could read Latin, and who had graduated at Oxford or Paris, was copied out in glossy ink, upon snowy vellum, and shone with gold, azure, and vermilion. Of this order of men was Philip du Than, an ecclesiastic, who, at the request of " Aeliz la bele," translated into Norman French a Latin work, of great popularity at this period, entitled "Bestiarius a most unpromising work for a poet,

* " Par qui creistrat lei de terre,
E remandrat tante guerre,
Par les armes Henri le rei,
Epar le eunseil qui est en tei."

Cotton Library, Vesp. B. X.

« AnteriorContinuar »