The Knights of England, France, and Scotland
LOVE AND CHIVALRY.
Knights of England, France, and Scotland.
HENRY WILLIAM HERBERT,
AUTHOR OF “THE CAVALIERS OF ENGLAND”—“THE ROMAN TRAITOR”—“CROMWELL,”
“THE BROTHERS”—“CAPTAINS OF THE OLD WORLD,” ETC.
CLINTON HALL, NEW YORK
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852,
By J. S. REDFIELD,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Southern
District of New York.
STEREOTYPED BY C. C. SAVAGE,
13 Chambers Street, N. Y.
|Legends of the Norman Conquerors||7|
|The Saxon’s Oath||9|
|The Norman’s Vengeance||22|
|The Faith of Woman||37|
|The Erring Arrow||45|
|The Saxon Prelate’s Doom||61|
|The Fate of the Blanche Navire||73|
|The Saxon’s Bridal||85|
|Legends of the Crusaders||99|
|The Syrian Lady||101|
|The Templar’s Trials||115|
|Legends of Feudal Days||143|
|The False Ladye||145|
|The Vassal’s Wife||177|
|True Love’s Devotion||221|
|Legends of Scotland||303|
|Passages in the Life of Mary Stuart||305|
|The Kirk of Field||337|
|The Closing Scene||378|
|The Moorish Father||407|
The son of Godwin was the flower of the whole Saxon race.The jealousies which had disturbed the mind of Edward theConfessor had long since passed away; and Harold, whom heonce had looked upon with eyes of personal aversion, he nowregarded almost as his own son. Yet still the Saxon hostages—Ulfnoth,and the young son of Swerga, who in the time ofhis mad predilection for the Normans, and his unnatural distrustof his own countrymen, had been delivered for safe keepingto William, duke of Normandy—still lingered, melancholyexiles, far from the white cliffs of their native land. And now,for the first time since their departure, did the aspect of affairsappear propitious for their liberation; and Harold, brother ofone, and uncle of the other, full of proud confidence in his ownintellect and valor, applied to Edward for permission that hemight cross the English channel, and, personally visiting theNorman, bring back the hostages in honor and security to thedear land of their forefathers. The countenance of the Confessorfell at the request; and, conscious probably in his ownheart of some rash promise made in days long past, and longrepented, to the ambitious William, he manifested a degree ofagitation amounting almost to alarm.
10“Harold,” he said, after a long pause of deliberation—“Harold,my son, since you have made me this request, and thatyour noble heart seems set on its accomplishment, it shall notbe my part to do constraint or violence to your affectionate andpatriotic wishes. Go, then, if such be your resolve, but gowithout my leave, and contrary to my advice. It is not that Iwould not have your brother and your kinsman home, but thatI do distrust the means of their deliverance; and sure I am,that should you go in person, some terrible disaster shall befallourselves and this our country. Well do I know Duke William;well do I know his spirit—brave, crafty, daring, deep,ambitious, and designing. You, too, he hates especially, norwill he grant you anything, save at a price that shall draw downan overwhelming ruin on you who pay it, and on the throne ofwhich you are the glory and the stay. If we would have thesehostages delivered at a less ransom than the downfall of ourSaxon dynasty—the misery of merry England—another messengerthan thou must seek the wily Norman. Be it, however,as thou wilt, my friend, my kinsman, and my son.”
Oh, sage advice, and admirable counsel! advice how fatallyneglected—counsel how sadly frustrated! Gallant, and brave,and young; fraught with a noble sense of his own powers, afull reliance on his own honorable purposes; untaught as yetin that, the hardest lesson of the world’s hardest school, distrustof others, suspicion of all men—Harold set forth upon his journey,as it were, on an excursion in pursuit of pleasure. Surroundedby a train of blithe companions, gallantly mounted,gorgeously attired, with falcon upon fist, and greyhounds boundingby his side, gayly and merrily he started, on a serene autumnalmorning, for the coast of Sussex. There he took ship;and scarcely was he out of sight of land, when, as it were atonce to justify the words of Edward, the wind, which had beenon his embarkation the fairest that could blow from heaven,suddenly shifted round, the sky was overcast with vast clouds11of a leaden hue, the waves tossed wildly with an ominous andhollow murmur; and, ere the first day had elapsed, as fierce atempest burst upon his laboring barks as ever baffled marineramong the perilous shoals and sandbanks of the narrow seas.Hopeless almost of safety, worn out with unaccustomed toiland hard privations, for three days and as many nights theybattled with the stormy waters; and on the morning of thefourth, when the skies lightened, and the abating violence ofthe strong gales allowed them to put in, and come to anchor,where the Somme pours its noble stream into the deep, throughthe rich territories of the count of Ponthieu, they were at oncemade prisoners, robbed of their personal effects, held to a heavyransom, and cast as prisoners-of-war into the dungeon-walls ofBelram, to languish there until the avarice of the count Guyshould be appeased with gold.
Still Harold bore a high heart and a proud demeanor, beardingthe robber-count even to his teeth, set him at defiance, proclaiminghimself an embassador from England to the duke ofNormandy, and claiming as a right the means of making knownto William his unfortunate condition. This, deeming it perchancehis interest so to do, the count at once conceded; andbefore many days had passed, Harold might see, from thebarred windows of his turret-prison, a gallant band of lancers,arrayed beneath the Norman banner, with a pursuivant andtrumpet at their head, wheeling around the walls of the grimfortress. A haughty summons followed, denouncing “the extremitiesof fire and of the sword against the count de Ponthieu,his friends, dependants, and allies, should he not instantly setfree, with all his goods and chattels, his baggage and his horses,friends, followers, and slaves, unransomed with all honor, Harold,the son of Godwin, the friend and host of William, highand puissant duke of Normandy!” Little, however, did meremenaces avail with the proud count de Ponthieu; nor did the12Saxon prince obtain his liberty till William had paid down amighty sum of silver, and invested Guy with a magnificent demesneon the rich meadows of the Eaune.
Then once more did the son of Godwin ride forth a freeman,in the bright light of heaven, escorted—such were the strangeanomalies of those old times—by a superb array of lances, furnishedfor his defence by the same count de Ponthieu, who,having held him in vile durance until his object was obtained,as soon as he was liberated on full payment of the stipulatedprice, had thenceforth treated him as a much-honored guest,holding his stirrup at his castle-gate when he departed, andsending a strong guard of honor to see him in all safety overthe frontier of the duke’s demesne. Here, at the frontier town,William’s high senechal attended his arrival; and gay and gloriouswas his progress through the rich fields of Normandy,until he reached Rouen. The glorious chase—whether by thegreen margin of some brimful river they roused the hermit-tyrantof the waters, that noblest of the birds of chase, to makesport for their long-winged falcons, or through the sere treesof the forest pursued the stag or felon wolf with horn, hound,and halloo—diversified the tedium of the journey; whileevery night some feudal castle threw wide its hospitable gatesto greet with revelry and banqueting the guest of the grandduke. Arrived at Rouen, that powerful prince himself, themightiest warrior of the day, rode forth beyond the gates tomeet the Saxon; nor did two brothers long estranged meet everwith more cordiality of outward show than these, the chiefs ofnations long destined to be rival and antagonistic, till from theirunion should arise the mightiest, the wisest, the most victorious,and enlightened, and free race of men, that ever peopledempires, or spread their language and their laws through anadmiring world. On that first meeting, as he embraced hisguest, the princely Norman announced to him that his young13brother and his nephew were thenceforth at his absolute disposal.
“The hostages are yours,” he said—“yours, at your solerequest; nor would I be less blithe to render them, if Haroldstood before me himself a landless exile, than as I see himnow, the first lord of a powerful kingdom, the most trusty messengerof a right noble king. But, of your courtesy, I pray youleave us not yet awhile; though if you will do so, my troopsshall convey you to the seashore, my ships shall bear you home!—but,I beseech, do this honor to your host, to tarry with himfor a little space: and as you be the first—for so you are reportedto us—in all realities and sports of Saxon warfare, solet us prove your prowess, and witness you our skill, in passagesof Norman chivalry.”
In answer to this fair request, what could the Saxon do butacquiesce? Yet, even as he did so, the words of the gray-headedking came sensibly upon his memory, and he began tofeel as if in truth the net of the deceiver were already roundabout him with its inevitable meshes. Still, having once assented,nothing remained for him but to fulfil, as gracefully aspossible, his half-unwilling promise. So joyously, however,were the days consumed—so gayly did the evenings pass,among festivities far more refined and delicate than were therude feasts of the sturdy Saxons, wherein excess of drink andvulgar riot composed the chief attractions—that, after one shortweek had flown, all the anxieties and fears of Harold were