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army of their own countrymen from that part of the continent which we now call Denmark; and these being followed by others of the same race from the Netherlands and Gaul, the island, in the course of sixty or seventy years, was overrun by a new population of Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, and the original Celtic inhabitants were pushed before them, and cooped up in a few corners, into which it was difficult to pursue them. The new inhabitants of England were gradually converted to Christianity by missionaries from Rome. For nearly three hundred years they remained broken up into six or seven separate little kingdoms or provinces; but at length, about the end of the ninth century, they were incorporated into one monarchy, called the kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons. This kingdom included all that we now call England, except a considerable portion in the north called Northumbria, which had been seized by the Danish and Norwegian pirates or sea-kings, who were then the terror of the north of Europe. The inhabitants of this part of England were called Anglo-Danes, to distinguish them from the Anglo-Saxons. About the year 934, however, Ethelstan, king of the AngloSaxons, the grandson of Alfred the Great, gained a great victory over the Anglo-Danish king, and incorporated the whole country, from the Tweed to Land's End, into one kingdom, called England, divided no longer into separate states, but into a number of shires or counties, as at present. Still, the animosity between the two populations——the Anglo-Saxon and the AngloDanish—continued, and many attempts were made by the AngloDanes to obtain the sovereignty of the island. They at last effected it under Sweyn or Sweno, a Danish sea-king, who came across the German Ocean with a large fleet, and, after many battles, succeeded, in 1013, in driving the Anglo-Saxon king, Ethelred, out of the country, and assuming the crown himself. The expelled king, Ethelred, with his two sons, took refuge in the dominions of Richard Duke of Normandy, in France, whose sister he had married—a step which, as will afterwards appear, was followed by very unforeseen consequences.
The Danish king, Sweyn, dying in 1014, and his son Knut, or Canute, not being able immediately to seize the vacant throne, Ethelred again obtained temporary possession of a part of England. In 1016, however, he too died, and his Anglo-Saxon subjects chose as his successor his natural son, Edmund Ironside, passing over his two legitimate children, Alfred and Edward, who were then at their uncle's court in Normandy. For a while the struggle lasted between the two rivals for the throne-Edmund the Anglo-Saxon, and Canute the Danemand many battles were fought with various success. In one of these battles, the Danes having been defeated, and forced to fly, one of their principal captains, named Ulf, lost his way in the woods. After wandering all night, he met at daybreak a young peasant driving a herd of oxen, whom he saluted, and asked his name. “ I am Godwin, the son of Ulfnoth,” said the young peasant, " and thou art a Dáne.” Thus obliged to confess who he was, Ulf begged the young Saxon to show him his way to the Severn, where the Danish ships were at anchor. “ It is foolish in a Dane,” replied the peasant,“ to expect such a service from a Saxon; and, besides, the
way is long, and the country people are all in arms." The Danish chief drew off a gold ring from his finger, and gave it to the shepherd as an inducement to be his guide. The young Saxon looked at it for an instant with great earnestness, and then returned it, saying," I will take nothing from thee, but I will try to conduct thee." Leading him to his father's cottage, he concealed him there during the day, and when night came on, they prepared to depart together. As they were going, the old peasant said to Ulf, “ This is my only son Godwin, who risks his life for thee. He cannot return among his countrymen again; take him, therefore, and present him to thy king, Canute, that he may enter into his service.” The Dane promised, and kept his word. The young Saxon peasant was well received in the Danish camp, and rising from step to step by the force of his talents, he afterwards became known over all England as the great Earl Godwin.
After the death of Edmund Ironside, Canute became sole king of England, over which he ruled with firmness and ability till 1035—the stability of his government having been secured by the prudent precaution of marrying the Norman princess Emma or Alfghive, the widow of the deceased Ethelred, and the mother of the two Saxon princes whose claims to the throne he feared. These two princes, still residing in Normandy, were apparently shut out from all hope of ever succeeding to the throne of their ancestors; for their mother having born a son to her new husband Canute, this son, whose name was Hardicanute, was left, heir on his father's death. Hardicanute, however, found a rival in Harold, another of Canute's sons, and for some time the two brothers contended for the crown. Alfred, one of the two sons of the Saxon Ethelred, thinking to take advantage of the confusion arising from this contest, landed in England with a number of Norman followers, and gained some successes; but was afterwards abandoned by his party, and treacherously murdered, at the instigation, some said, of Earl Godwin, the peasant's son, now governor of a province. Of the two rival brothers, Harold was at first successful; but when he died, Hardicanute ascended the throne without opposition. His death took place in 1041; and now Earl Godwin, who was the most powerful and popular personage in the kingdom, resolved to free his country from the government of the Danes, and restore tranquillity and order by recalling Edward from Normandy, the remaining son of Ethelred. Godwin might apparently, with little difficulty, have become king himself; but his motives were those of a great mind, anxious not for personal aggrandisement, but for the
welfare of the nation. Accordingly, at a great council of the chief men of the kingdom, held at Gillingham, it was resolved, by his advice, to invite Edward to come over and assume his father's crown; on condition, however, of his bringing with him as few Normans as possible.
In 1042, Edward returned to his native land, and was consecrated king in the cathedral of Winchester. One of his first acts was to marry Edith or Ethelswith, the daughter of the peasants son to whom he owed his kingdom. The beauty and the sweetness of this princess, as well as her love of learning, are celebrated in the chronicles of the time. “I have seen her many times in my childhood," says the monk Ingulphus, “ when I went to visit my father, who was employed in the king's palace. If she met me returning from school, she would question me in my grammar, or my verses, or my logic, in which she was very skilful; and when she had drawn me into the labyrinth of some subtle argument, she never failed to give me three or four crowns through the hands of her woman, and send me to take refreshment in the pantry.” Godwin," the people said in their songs, contrasting the austerity of the father with the sweetness of the daughter, " is the parent of Editha, as the thorn is of the rose.”
For a time all was peace and prosperity. Supported by the wise counsels of his father-in-law Godwin, and the immense power which he and his five sons, Harold, Sweyn, Tostig, Gurth, and Leofwin, wielded over the affections of the people, Edward rectified what was wrong in the state, established good laws, and earned for himself a reputation which outlasted his life, and appeared long afterwards in the deep feeling with which people talked of the happy state of England during the reign of the pious Edward the Confessor. Edward, however, could not root out the affections which thirty years' residence in Normandy had implanted in his heart; and forgetting the promise attached to his acceptance of the crown, he began to admit Norman strangers into the kingdom. The high offices of state were conferred on foreigners who had no interest of birth in the country. Fortresses were placed in the hands of Norman captains; Norman priests were promoted to vacant bishoprics; and the king's palace was filled with Norman favourites. The Anglo-Saxon language became unfashionable at Edward's court, so that even old Saxon nobles tried to learn Norman; Saxon mantles were laid aside for Norman short coats; and the very form of handwriting which the Normans practised was studiously imitated. In vain did the people murmur; in vain did Godwin and his sons try to resist the tide of Norman influence; the evil increased to such an extent, that Normans, on arriving in England, felt as if they were still in their own country. Before detailing the consequences which resulted from this conduct of Edward, it is necessary to give our readers a brief account of the origin and history of this singular people the Normans.
THE NORMANS IN FRANCE.
The Normans, though we are accustomed to regard them as Frenchmen, were, as their name Nor-mans or Northmen indicates, originally of the same Scandinavian stock as the Angles, Danes, and Saxons. In the end of the ninth century, there ruled over Norway a king called Harold Harfagher, or Harold with the Beautiful Hair, who set himself resolutely to destroy the system of piracy which the Scandinavian chiefs had practised for several centuries in all parts of the North Sea. Within his own dominions he attempted to enforce regulations for preventing the oppressive exactions of the nobles, especially for abolishing the custom of strandhug, as it was called, by which a chief, when hewas in want of provisions for his ships, used to land on the nearest coast, and seize what he wanted without payment. One of the most eminent of Harold's subjects was Rognvald, who had a son called Rolf or Rollo, renowned for his valour, and so tall, that, not being able to find a horse of the small Norway breed large enough for him to ride, he used always to go on foot. Returning from an excursion, Rollo ventured one day to land on the coast of a remote province, and exercise his right of strandhug. Complaint was made to the king; and a council having been assemhled, Rollo was banished from Norway. The young Norwegian, collecting some vessels, commenced the congenial life of a pirate or sea-king. Sailing round by the Hebrides, where he was joined by many of his countrymen whose circumstances were similar to his own, he descended upon the coasts of France. Ascending the Seine, the bold adventurers took possession of the towns of Rouen, Evreux, and Bayeux, and in a short time were masters of the whole surrounding district—the inhabitants of which, however, they treated with more consideration than usual in conquest. Rollo was chosen king, a title afterwards superseded by the French one of duke; and for many years the little Scandinavian kingdom of Normandy continued independent of the rest of France. At length, in 912, Duke Rollo of Normandy and Charles the Simple of France had an interview, at which Rollo agreed to be the king's vassal for his territory of Normandy; in return for which Charles gave him the additional fief of Brittany, adjacent to Normandy, or rather gave him liberty to conquer it if he could, for Brittany did not acknowledge the French sovereignty. At this interview an incident occurred which will show the spirit of the two parties and of the times. When Rollo was about to retire, he was told that he ought to kneel and kiss the king's foot, in token of vassalage. “Kiss a man's foot!” replied the Norwegian with astonishment. Being told that it was a necessary and customary ceremony, Rollo ať length beckoned to one of his soldiers, and bade him kiss the king's foot in his 'stead. The soldier, laying hold of the king's leg, raised the foot to his mouth,
and the king was thrown on his back, amid peals of laughter from the unmannerly Scandinavians.
Rollo and his Normans soon embraced Christianity; and their children, amalgamating with the native population of the province which they had conquered, lost their own language, and gradually acquired the lingua Romana, or French. In the course of a century this incorporation of the Normans with the natives was complete; the recollection of their Scandinavian origin was only preserved by the nobles; and the people of Norway and Denmark no longer recognised them as related to themselves by ties of kindred. In 1013, when Ethelred, the Anglo-Saxon king of England, took refuge, as before related, in the court of his brother-in-law Richard, the fourth in descent from Duke Rollo, French was the universal language of Normandy, and the Normans in all external respects were Frenchmen. Educated from their earliest years at this court, Alfred and Edward, the two sons of Ethelred, could not but contract a taste and liking for everything French ; and when, in 1042, Edward was recalled to assume the crown of England, he was more a Norman than an Anglo-Saxon. Thirty years' residence in France must have made the language and the customs of his native country strange to him; and it was but natural that when his old Norman acquaintances came to pay their respects to him in England, he should give them a hearty welcome. The Normans, already noted for their restless and grasping disposition, availed themselves of Edward's weakness, as we have seen, and came over in great numbers. THE NORMANS IN ENGLAND THEIR EXPULSION AND ITS
CONSEQUENCES. Among the Frenchmen who came into England to visit Edward, was his brother-in-law Eustace, the hot-headed Count of Boulogne. In a frolic the count, riding armed with his men into the town of Dover, proceeded to insult the inhabitants, and to quarter themselves in the best houses they could find. One householder was bold enough to offer resistance; a Frenchman was killed in the fray; and his companions seeing this, drew their swords, gallopped through the streets like madmen, striking at all they met, and trampling down women and children, till, being opposed by an armed body of citizens, nineteen of them were slain. The rest returned to Gloucester, where Edward was holding his court; and here Eustace, making his complaint to the king, demanded vengeance upon the inhabitants of Dover for the injury they had one him. Edward gave orders to his father-in-law, Earl Godwin, to go and chastise those insolent subjects who had dared to insult his guests. The earl, however, knew the facts of the case better, and told the king that he ought to protect his subjects against the foreigners, rather than punish them in so hasty and summary a manner for what inquiry might