« PreviousContinue »
When summer brought the flowers, and you gave help
Harold. And tell her she is Harold's sister, earl,
More than all to me
Enter an Attendant.
Comes he mounted ? arm'd ?
Singly, on foot he comes
Thurkell. 'Gainst witchcraft, and the evil eye, and the spit
Godwin. Hush Thurkell, there's a corner of your heart
[Exit Attendant. His reverence has a trick to raise the devil As well as lay him.
You will save my life,
Godwin. Who threats your life, Prince Edward ?
Oh! not so
Godwin. What life was that? I thought that royal blood
I led a peaceful life ;
And knew, the while,
Edward. Aye; but no right nor law, the abbot said
A crowned monk
No, my lord ;
Godwin (apart.) Why, though he carried in effeminate hand
If ought else
Godwin (suddenly taking his resolution.) King !
You mock me! you have power :
Dread Prince !
Edward. Oh sir,—if Godwin is my shield.
Not so ;
Steals from my heart the word—to loveliness
As a form
In her heart
Edward. But Leofric, sir,-
I'll deal with him myself.
27.-THE BANISHMENT OF GODWIN.
DR. LAPPENBERG. Edward had spent not only his youthful years, which are wont to give a fixed direction to the inclinations and the character, but also those of his maturer age, in which the indissoluble bonds of love and habit hold us even till death, in a country widely differing in climate, manners and language, from the land of his birth. The higher those intellectual enjoyments raised him, to which he could devote himself in the leisure of his powerful position, so much the more excusable and powerful must be his conviction, that the participators in the sentiments which made him happy had a claim to his entire confidence, and to the support of the whole power committed to him by the Almighty. On leaving the soil of his education and his joys, the hearty greeting of the West Saxon peasant sounded strange to his ear, and spoke not to his heart. The rugged manners of the Anglo-Danish nobles, from intercourse with whom he could no longer take refuge under the peaceful arches of a cloister, filled him with disgust, while the independent spirit of the Anglo-Saxon clergy, who in language and through aucient tradition had ever been divided from the church of Rome, appeared to the orthodox Catholic little better than damnable heresy. Above all things, Edward was anxious to introduce Norman ecclesiastics into his kingdom, and through them to bring it into closer relationship with the papal chair. Soon after his accession, the see of London becoming vacant by the death of Bishop Elfweard, he bestowed it on Robert the Frank, a monk of Jumièges, who is said to have shown particular kindness to Edward in his days of need. A few years afterwards Robert succeeded Eadseye in the dignity of Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of all Eugland. Other French ecclesiastics were appointed chaplains to the king, which post in this as in other countries inay be regarded as the nursery of its future bishops. On one of them, named William, at the instance of Robert and command of the pope, the sce of London was bestowed, although the king had already conferred it under his writ and seal on Spearhafor (Sparrowhawk), and whose rich abbey of Abingdon had been given to Radulf, a relation of Edward. Another Norman, named Ulf, received the bishopric of Dorchester, and thus all the best vacant benefices fell into the hands of foreigners, a state of things to which the English church had till then been a stranger.
The nation, nevertheless, would hardly have noticed these innovations, and would probably have endured the gradual installation of foreign prelates, had not the powerful temporal lords of the land found themselves aggrieved by the strangers. Of these Radulf, a nephew of the king, who had attended him on his return from exile to England, had been (probably after the banishment of Sweyn) invested with the earldom of Hereford. Many French knights had also attached themselves to Radulf, and resided in his castles, and some had their own castles, as Osbern, surnamed Pentecost, and Hugo. Mention is also made of the castle of another French knight, Robert, son of Wincare, situated to the north of London. The influence of Radulf was considered all powerful at the court of Edward : the weak courted his favour, and presumed not to withstand any of his pretensions; and even the influential abbot of Ramsey, prompted by the conviction of his power, was induced to surrender to him certain lands, the possession of which he coveted. The powcrful looked on him only with ill-concealed rancour. The refusal of Archbishop Robert to consecrate Spearhafor to the see of London had just excited the minds of the people anew against the Franks, and they looked with jealousy on the marriage, which shortly after took place, of Goda, the sister of Edward and mother of Radulf, with Eustace count of Boulogne, called from his large moustaches · Eustace aux Grenons,' when the unwelcome intelligence of a fresh arrival of Frankish visitors became public, and was received with mistrust and murmuring. The king's brotherin-law, Eustace, appeared at court with a stately retinue. On his return, having stopped for refreshment at Canterbury, he proceeded on the way to Dover. When within a mile or two of the town, it was observed that he and his men put on their hauberks, and no sooner had they arrived than they announced their intention to quarter themselves wherever it appeared agreeable to them. Against abuses in harbouring even the king and his followers, the townspeople could secure themselves; but to these Franks, who were regarded as a public nuisance, no one would act as host. One of them having wounded a householder, who resisted his attempt at entrance, was slain by the latter ; whereupon Eustace and his followers mounted their horses and made a general attack on the inhabitants, in which the householder above-mentioned and about twenty others were slain. Many of the French also fell by the hands of the townsmen, and many more were wounded. Eustace himself with a few of his people escaping with difficulty, went immediately to the king at Gloucester, who on hearing their version of what had taken place, in his anger despatched Godwin to punish the townsmen for their misconduct. But why should the proud and mighty earl, out of mere compliance with the will of his weak-minded son-in-law, be the instrument to punish his brave burghers for a deed which had called forth praise from every part of England, and thus degrade himself for the sake of the odious Franks? All the West Saxons shared in this hatred, for reckless insolence and rash violence had marked the career of every Frank in England. In the neighbourhood of one of their newly-built castles in Herefordshire, probably that of Pentecost, even the king's vassals were exposed to their insults and violence. Godwin hereupon, with his sons, Sweyn and Harold, resolved to lay their own and the nation's complaints before the king, who had appointed his witan to assemble at Gloucester about the second mass day of St. Mary, for the purpose of suppressing these dissensions. In the meantime Godwin and his sons had gathered around them at Beverston (By feres-stan) and Langtree (Langatreo) a strong and well-appointed body of followers, by whose aid they would probably have been enabled to extort compliance with their demands ; but Leofric, Seward, and Radulf had also assembled their forces, and it required great consideration and wise mediators to withhold the opposed parties from a conflict, which threatened the destruction of some of the most influential men of the country. Godwin and his sons were unable to justify their conduct to the king, whose ear had been already forestalled by the foreigners ; still less were they able to obtain their desire, that Eustace and his men, together with all the Frenchmen who were in the castle in Herefordshire, should be delivered into their hands. But threatening as the aspect of things was, Edward succeeded for the moment in re-establishing tranquillity ; hostages were mutually given, and the witan appointed to meet again at London on the autumnal equinox. On the arrival of Godwin and his sons with their thanes and a numerous army at Southwark, they found the king surrounded by a formidable host collected from the earldoms of Seward and Leofric and other parts. Disheartened by the aspect of affairs, the army of the earls rapidly decreased by desertion. By the witena-gemot pledges were demanded from all the thanes of Harold, Sweyn was declared an outlaw, Godwin and Harold were summoned to justify their conduct before the assembly. They demanded a safe conduct from the king and hostages for their security, but on his demand placed all their thanes at his disposal. Edward now commanded them to appear with twelve of their followers before his council, for the purpose of defending themselves, when they again demanded hostages, which, though no doubt necessary for their safety, could not be granted without offence to the royal dignity, and were consequently refused, a safe conduct only for five days being allowed them, within which time they were ordered to leave the country. Godwin hereupon with his wife Gytha, Tostig and his wife Judith, a daughter or niece of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, Sweyn and Gyrth, withdrew by night to his estates of Bosham and Thorney, in his native Sussex, whence, in a vessel hastily laden with as much gold, silver, and other treasure as it would contain, they embarked for Flanders. Harold and his younger brother fled to Bristol, where they found a ship that had been fitted out by Sweyn for his own use, on board of which they sailed towards Ireland. The king despatched Bishop Eldred with a force in pursuit of them, who, however, could not or would not overtake them, and they reached their destination in safety, where, under the protection of the king, they passed the winter. But Edward's Frankish counsellors appear not to have been satisfied with having overthrown their most powerful foes, and deprived him of his favourites ; they also prevailed on him to separate from his wife Edith, who, bereft of all her lands and treasures, was sent, attended by one female servant, to the abbey of Wherwell, and there committed to the custody of the abbess, a sister of Edward. *
* The banishment of Godwin and his sons was connected with too many interests to be of long duration, and they neglected no means of securing for themselves a triumphant restoration. A short time before the occurrence of the above-mentioned events, a fleet of Irish pirates, consisting of thirty-six ships, entered the mouth of the Severn, and being aided by Griffith, king of South Wales, they crossed the Wye and ravaged the neighbouring country. Eldred bishop of Worcester, with a small body of forces, gathered from the shores of Gloucester and Hereford, went out against them; but some Welch among his men, in violation of the oath of fidelity which they had taken, sent private intelligence to Griffith, advising him to make an immediate attack on the English. In pursuance of this counsel, Griffith together with the Irish rushing on the little army of Eldred at the dawn of day, slew many of them, and put the rest with the bishop to flight.