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the residence of this king during his exile, and of his children afterwards, at that court; Canute's subsequent marriage with this lady; and Edward's education in the same country; had raised an attachment to the Norman manners and nation, not only in Edward's mind, but in those of the nobles who had resided abroad with his father and himself, or had visited them in Normandy.
The Frankish nation had rapidly improved since the reign of Charlemagne. The effects of the Roman civilization were extensive and permanent, and the ardent zeal of the Christian clergy had greatly contributed to humanise and soften their martial fierceness. The unwarlike characters of the successors of Charlemagne had tended to increase the civilizing spirit. The Normans, from their contiguity, partook of the melioration of the French manners; and to Edward's milder temper these were peculiarly congenial. The Anglo-Saxons could not have been equally improved by the ruder Danes. Hence Edward found at first more that he could sympathise with in Normandy than in England, and therefore invited or admitted many Normans into his favour. Robert, one of them, was made, after various promotions, archbishop of Canterbury. Another was raised to an episcopal see, others also attained offices of rank and power. From the king's partiality, the French manners came into use; their language and their legal forms began also to be diffused (1).
The Norman favourites awakened the jealousy of Godwin, and were obstacles to his ambition. But the counteracting power of Leofric, the wise earl of Mercia, and of Siward, the earl of Northumbria, and distinguished for heroic valour, kept Godwin tranquil till a cruel violence of one of the noble foreigners gave him a popular reason for expressing his discontent.
It was in 1051, that Godwin presumed to give defiance to the king. The count of Boulogne, who had married Edward's sister, came to Dover. In a foolish effort to obtain or compel entertainment, his followers killed an Englishman. The citizens revenged it; the count, committing himself to the guidance of blind fury, rushed with his troops, killed many of both sexes in the city, trampled some children under the feet of their horses. Provoked at his brutality, the people armed. The endangered count fled before their indignation, and went to Edward, who was then at Gloucester (2).
Availing himself of this event, Godwin raised immediately, from his own counties of Kent, Sussex, and Wessex, a military power. The same occasion enabled his son Svein to collect a powerful force from the counties of Oxford, Gloucester, Hereford, Somerset, and Berks, which he governed; and Harold, another son, embra
(1) Ingulf, 62.; and see Malmsbury, 80., on the enmity between Godwin and the Normans.
(2) Flor. 410.
cing the same pretext, completed his formidable array by a levy from Essex, East Anglia, Huntingdon, and Cambridgeshire, which he commanded.
The armies of Godwin and his children could not be completed without Edward's knowledge. Messengers were immediately sent to his brave protectors Leofric and Siward. These governors were earnestly desired to come, with all the forces they could assemble, with immediate speed.
The loyal earls hastened immediately to court. Learning the necessity, they sent swiftly-circulated orders through all their counties, for armies to be raised. The son of the culpable count did the same; and Edward had a prospect of being rescued from the tyranny of Godwin (1).
The rebellious family marched into Gloucestershire, and demanded of the king, under a menace of hostilities, the count of Boulogne and his followers, and the Normans and men of Boulogne, who were in Dover-castle.
The king, terrified, knew not how to act; he fluctuated in great anxiety, till he learnt that his friends were prepared to support him. An express refusal was then returned to Godwin.
A fierce civil war seemed now about to consume the country; but Godwin was not heroically adventurous, and Leofric was wise. Leofric therefore proposed that hostages should be exchanged, and that Godwin and the king should meet on an appointed day in London, and have the alleged subject judicially determined by the witena-gemot (2).
The proposition was too popular not to be accepted. Godwin returned to Wessex; the king ordered a witena-gemot (3) to be assembled for the second time in London, at the autumnal equinox; he augmented his army, and marched it to London. Godwin and his sons occupied Southwark, but soon discovered that their partisans were falling away.
The witena-gemot made the thanes, who were with Harold, to find pledges to the king for their conduct, and outlawed Svein, who did not think fit to be present at the wither-male, or conciliary meeting (4). They also cited Godwin and Harold to attend the gemot. Godwin, finding his ambitious views darkening, and dreading a legal enquiry into his conduct, did not attempt to face the witena, but fled in the night (5).
In the morning the king held the witena-gemot, and declared
(1) Flor. Wig. 410, 411.
(2) Flor. Wig. 411, 412.; and see Sax. Chron. 163, 164.; and the MS. Chron. Tib. B. 4.
(3) Tha gerædde se tyning and his witan tha man sceolde othre sythan habban ealra gewitena gemot on Lundene to hærfeste emnihte. Sax. Chron. 164.
(4) And man borhfæst tham cyning ealle tha thægnas the wæron Haroldes eorles his suna, etc. MS. Tib. B. 4. and Lamb. MS. (5) Sax. Chron. 164. Flor. Wig.
him, his army, and his children, to be outlaws (1). Five days of safety were given them to quit the country (2). With three of his sons, Godwin sailed away, with all the property he could hastily amass, into Flanders. Harold, and a brother from Bristol, sailed to Ireland. A severe tempest put their lives in peril during the voyage. Their sister, the queen, was sent to a monastery (3).
Contrary to every natural expectation, and to his own, and to the astonishment of the Anglo-Saxons, the house of Godwin seemed now to have fallen for ever in England (4). Released from his intimidations, the king became more attached to his Norman friends. Invited or obeying a sagacious policy, William, the reigning Duke of Normandy, came to England with a large company of his nobles and knights at this period, and was received with great honour and courtesy by Edward, who entertained him for some time, conducted him to his cities and royal castles, and loaded him with presents when he returned (5). This visit was of importance to William. It introduced him to the knowledge of many of the English chiefs, and made his name familiar to the people. It began the formation of that interest which so powerfully assisted him in afterwards acquiring the crown. But Ingulf declares that no mention was made of his succession to the crown at this visit, nor had he then any hope of it. Yet it may have excited William's desire to enjoy such a crown, and must have made a lively impression on his memory.
Edward was then living without a prospect of issue; and, excepting one youth in Hungary, the crown had no heir. The family of William was connected with that of Edward by marriage, and with Edward himself by friendship and services. William was a neighbour, and Edward esteemed him. The family of Godwin was abased, and no competitor seemed likely to arise from the rest of the English. William therefore from this time could scarcely contemplate the throne of his friend, without coveting its acquisition. Any valued good which seems bending to our reach, soon excites our cupidity. He may have had the prudence to mark the hopeful ground in judicious silence; but the scheme of his succession must have been a project which his mind revolved, and secretly prepared
(1) And se cyng hæfd tha on morgen Witena Gemot and cwæth hine utlage and ealle here; hine and ealle his suna. MS. Tib. B. 4.
(2) Sax. Chron. 164. And sceawede him mann 5 nihta grith ut of lande to farenne.
(3) MS. Chron. Tib. B. 4. Flor. 412.
(4) The MS. Tib. B. 4. thus expresses the public surprise at the change: "That wolde thyncan wundorlic ælcum men the on Englalande wæs gif ænig man ær tham sæde tha hit swa gewurtha sceolde. Fortham he was ær to tham swithe upahafen swylce he weolde thas tynger and ealles Englalandes," etc.
(5) Flor. 412. Ingulf, 65. The MS. Tib. B. 4. mentions his coming, which the printed Chronicle omits.
The family of Godwin in their exile meditated new attempts to regain their power. Harold and his brother invaded the West of England with a fleet of adventurers collected in Ireland, defeated the king's officers, and plundered as they pleased. As Godwin was impending with a similar armament, a chosen force of forty ships was stationed at Sandwich to intercept it. He cluded their vigilance, reached Kent, and roused all his friends in the neighbouring counties to arm in his behalf. But the king's fleet pursued him. He sheltered himself in Pevensey; a storm checked the progress of the others, and when they made for London, he hovered about the Isle of Wight, where Harold joined him, after a voyage of plunder. With their united strength, swelled by every aid they could allure, they sailed to Sandwich. Edward found his friends more tardy than before. Other nobles became dissatisfied at the progress of the Normans in the king's favour; and Godwin proceeded, with successful enterprise, to the Thames, and reached Southwark. He demanded the restoration of his family. His numbers and secret connections were formidable; and to save the shedding of civil blood, Stigand, the archbishop, and the wise men, urged an accommodation. Their recommendation prevailed. The Normans beheld their fate sealed in the pacification, and fled in consternation.
A great council was then convened out of London, and all the earls, and the best men that were in the land, attended it. Godwin there purged himself before the king, his lord, and all the assembly, that he was guiltless of the crime of which he had been suspected. The king received him in full friendship, and granted to him and to his family a complete restoration of their honours. The Normans were all legally outlawed. Svein was the only one of the exiled family who received no benefit from the revolution of its fortunes. He had foully murdered his cousin Beorn, with every aggravated circumstance of abused confidence and treacherous falsehood. There is a sting in murder which goads the consciousness long after the world has forgiven it, and which no increase of prosperity can destroy. Svein, though six years had passed away since his crime, found it still his torment; and to soothe his sensations, he set off with naked feet on a walking pilgrimage from Flanders to Jerusalem. He died, on his return, in Lycia (1).
(1) Sax. Chron. 167, 168. Flor. Wig. 414.
The remark of the Hebrew poet, that man disquiets himself for a vain shadow, is often verified in human Godwin's death. history. A life is sacrificed to suffering, that a favourite object may be gained. We reach the seat of the felicity we have sighed for, and while our arms are extended to grasp it, we are received into the grave. Godwin experienced this mutability in human affairs. He had scarcely, by great toil and hazard, achieved his
restoration, and recovered his prosperity, when he was deprived of it soon afterwards by death. In 1053, at the Easter festival, the eventful changes of his life were closed. As he sat with the king at table, it is said, that the conversation turned on Alfred's murder, and that Godwin, with many sacred appeals to Divine Providence, denied that he was concerned in it (1). But whatever was the preceding discourse, the attack of fate was as irresistible as unexpected. He suddenly lost his speech, and fell from his seat. Harold and two other sons raised him, and carried him to the king's chamber, hoping a recovery. He lingered in helpless and miserable agony, from Monday to Thursday, and then expired (2).
It is recorded with pleasure, by the annalists, that Edward took off the heavy tax called Dane gelt (3). Ingulf ascribes the remission to the extreme dearth which raged in 1051, and in which so many thousand people perished. Touched with compassion for their sufferings, the king abolished the tax. It is added, that the royal mind, according to some rumours, was impressed the more deeply upon the subject, because one day, when the collected tax was deposited in the treasury, the king was brought to see the vast amount: the mass so affected his imagination, that he fancied he saw a little devil jumping exultingly about it (4). His mind was certainly weak enough to believe such a fancy; and many about him were interested to frame some device that should give it a foundation. He ordered the money to be restored to its former owners, and no more to be raised on such an assessment.
The Welsh had often molested the English provinces in their vicinity. In 1049, thirty-six ships of Irish pirates entered the Severn, and, with the help of Griffith, king of South Wales, obtained considerable successes (5). In 1052, Griffith ravaged great part of Herefordshire, defeated the provincials, and obtained great plunder (6).
The death of Godwin rather exalted than abased his family. His character was tainted. He was approaching the feebleness of age, without having secured its reverence. He had no influence but from his power; and greatness, which is only secured by terror, or extorted by force, is the creature of casualty, which the first tempest may destroy. But Harold had all the brilliancy of youth
(1) Ingulf, 66. Malmsb. 81. Hunt. 366.
(2) Flor. Wig. 415. The MS. Tib. B. 4., like the printed Chronicle, merely states his death; but the MS. Tib. B. 1. describes it like Florence, thus: "Sæt he mid tham cynincge æt gereorde tha wæringa sah he nither with thæs fotsetles spræce benumen and ealwe his mihte and hine man tha bræd into thæs kinges bure and thohtan tha hit ofergan sceolde ac hit næs na swa ac thurh wunode swa unfpecende and mihteleaf forth oth thone thunres dæg and tha his lif alet."
(3) Flor. Wig. 410. Hoveden, 441.
(4) Ingulf, 65. Hoveden tells a similar story, and makes the queen and her brother Harold the persons who took the king to the treasury.
(5) Flor. Wig. 409.
(6) Ibid. 412.