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20 FROM THE REIGN OF CANUTE TO THE CONQUEST.

It was in this reign that Siward, earl of Northumberland, was sent to assist Malcolm Canmore, king of Scotland, against Macbeth, who had murdered his father, Duncan, and usurped the throne. The history of Macbeth has furnished the plot to one of the noblest dramas of William Shakspere.

King Edward was the founder of Westminster Abbey, where all the English kings have since been crowned. He died A.D. 1066, just after the consecration of that monastery; and Harold prevailed on the nobles to elect him as their sovereign, without regarding the right of Edgar Atheling, or the pretensions of William, duke of Normandy, whose claims were founded on a pretended will of Edward the Confessor, and had been allowed by Harold himself when on a visit some years before at William's court.

Harold, on his accession, did all in his power to engage the affections of his people, and induce them to support him in the struggle with William, which now awaited him. He was first called to repel the invasion of Harfager, king of Norway, who was supported by Toston, a brother of Harold; and he gained a great victory over them at Battlebridge, in Yorkshire. In this battle both Harfager and Toston fell; and Harold hastened to the south to oppose Duke William, who had already landed in Sussex. The armies met near Hastings, and the battle which ensued was long doubtful, till Harold was slain by an arrow, and his followers, discouraged by that event, were routed with great slaughter.

The death of Harold put an end to the dominion of the Anglo-Saxons in England; but the manly spirit of the Saxon institutions had taken such hold of the people, that, though curbed by the tyranny of Norman rule, it could not in the end be put down. Much of our English greatness is owing, under God, to the fact that the Saxons, however much depressed in the next reigns, formed a middle class between the Norman nobles and the mere peasantry; of greater weight and of a more manly and independent character than was to be found in other parts of Europe. England was thus still possessed of the materials of national greatness, in having a people proud of the glory of their forefathers, and attached to those ancient laws which were well suited to train them in simple and manly habits.

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on his Norman followers; he built castles on commanding points at all the principal cities, and removed most of the Saxon prelates. Among others he deposed Stigand, and appointed Lanfranc to that see, a prelate of great learning and piety. The expulsion of Wolfstan, afterwards canonized as a saint, from the see of Worcester, seems to have been prevented by a most affecting speech from that aged bishop, when required to give up his crosier. One badge of servitude which was felt greatly by the English, was a law directing that all fires should be put out at the tolling of a bell at eight o'clock. This bell, which is still rung at ancient places, is called the curfew, from two words which signify that fires should be covered or put out. It was William's purpose to abolish the very language of the Saxons, and he therefore desired that all laws should be written, and all pleadings conducted in Norman-French; and of these vain attempt to destroy our noble language, some traces still exist in the ancient forms of our public courts. To subdue, however, the spirit of the Saxons, the Conqueror relied mainly on the complete establishment in England of a system called the feudal law, at that time prevailing in most parts of Europe. By this system the whole kingdom was parcelled out into so many chief baronies, which were held of the crown on condition of military service, and these were in like manner divided into knights' fees, which were held of the superior barons on the same tenure of service or vassalage. The vassal did homage to his lord for the lands which he held, and was bound to serve him in war, and contribute to his ransom if taken prisoner. This system was not fruitless of generous protection on the one side, and honourable

8 "To canonize a person." This phrase is derived from the fact that after a person's excellences were found to be such as to entitle him to be called a saint, his name was put into the canon or rule for observing festivals.

9 The word feud, derived from a barbarous Latin word, feudum, or the classical word foedus, a covenant, meant an allotment of land under condition of serving a superior lord in war. Feudal tenure of land, is holding land under such condition. The feudal law, or system, is the state of things thus brought about; e. g. when Wales was conquered by England, its princes were no longer independent, but feudal holders of their territory under the English king.

CHAPTER VI.

WILLIAM (THE CONQUEROR).

From A.D. 1066 to A.D. 1087. Born at Falaise. Buried at Caen. Reigned 21 years.

Archbishops of Canterbury.

Stigand, 4.D. 1054-1070. | Lanfranc, A.D. 1070-1089. IN choosing Harold as their king, and overlooking the rightful claims of Edgar Atheling, the English nobles had broken that rule of hereditary succession, for the arbitrary violation of which no personal qualities in the sovereign can make up. When Harold, therefore, was slain, they had no great principle of loyalty to bind them together; and though an attempt was made to proclaim Edgar, it was then too late to rally men round that sacredness of ancient right, which had been so blindly set aside. This may greatly account for the fact that one victory gave William possession of the English crown. It should also be said that he was naturally much favoured by all the Norman churchmen who had been brought over by Edward the Confessor, and the more so, inasmuch as his enterprise had been (as men then imagined) blessed and hallowed by the pope. On his approach to London he was met by many nobles, including Edgar himself, and Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, who at once tendered their submission, and he was soon solemnly crowned at Westminster.

It seems to have been William's purpose at first to govern the nation which he had conquered with strict justice. The English, however, soon found that all real power was in the hands of Normans: and as they were unable to brook the insults and oppression with which they were continually galled, the history of William's reign is chiefly a record of repeated revolts, which he punished with the most unrelenting cruelty, laying waste on one occasion the entire country for a distance of sixty miles between the Humber and the Tees. These revolts seem to have steeled his heart against his English subjects. He seized every pretence for confiscating their estates, which he bestowed

on his Norman followers; he built castles on commanding points at all the principal cities, and removed most of the Saxon prelates. Among others he deposed Stigand, and appointed Lanfranc to that see, a prelate of great learning and piety. The expulsion of Wolfstan, afterwards canonized as a saint, from the see of Worcester, seems to have been prevented by a most affecting speech from that aged bishop, when required to give up his crosier. One badge of servitude which was felt greatly by the English, was a law directing that all fires should be put out at the tolling of a bell at eight o'clock. This bell, which is still rung at ancient places, is called the curfew, from two words which signify that fires should be covered or put out. It was William's purpose to abolish the very language of the Saxons, and he therefore desired that all laws should be written, and all pleadings conducted in Norman-French; and of these vain attempt to destroy our noble language, some traces still exist in the ancient forms of our public courts. To subdue, however, the spirit of the Saxons, the Conqueror relied mainly on the complete establishment in England of a system called the feudal law, at that time prevailing in most parts of Europe. By this system the whole kingdom was parcelled out into so many chief baronies, which were held of the crown on condition of .military service, and these were in like manner divided into knights' fees, which were held of the superior barons on the same tenure of service or vassalage. The vassal did homage to his lord for the lands which he held, and was bound to serve him in war, and contribute to his ransom if taken prisoner. This system was not fruitless of generous protection on the one side, and honourable

8 "To canonize a person." This phrase is derived from the fact that after a person's excellences were found to be such as to entitle him to be called a saint, his name was put into the canon or rule for observing festivals.

The word feud, derived from a barbarous Latin word, feudum, or the classical word fœdus, a covenant, meant an allotment of land under condition of serving a superior lord in war. Feudal tenure of land i holding land under such condition. The feudal law, or system, is state of things thus brought about; e. g. when Wales was conque by England, its princes were no longer independent, but feudal hold of their territory under the English king.

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