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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 21



mion, whose descendant Sir Walter Scott has immortalized in his well-known poem of that name, was the hold knight who, on this occasion, entered the banqueting-hall, armed cap-a-pie, and stentoriously challenged to single combat any who dared to deny that William and his consort were King and Queen of England. Probably, as Matilda had assumed the title of queen contrary to the customs of the country, the champion was sent forth to prevent the disaffected from questioning her right to regal honours ; but, however this may be, the office was made hereditary, and from the Mannions descended by heirship to the Dymocksof Scrivelsbye ; and, although, since the coronation of George ÏY., the ceremony has been omitted, in that family, which for centuries has exercised it, the right is still preserved. Shortly after the coronation of Matilda, her fourth son, Henry, surnamcd Beauelerk, was horn at Selby, in Yorkshire, To gratify the nation, the queen willed that all her lands and possessions in England should revert to him at her death. To strengthen his possessions, and keep the Saxon spirit of rebellion in subjection, William about this period laid the foundation of the Tower of London, which, under the superintendence of the priestly architect, Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, rapidly rose up an impregnable fortress. Thus, having overawed London and its suburbs, he, as a further safeguard, built and garrisoned a chain of strong military forts, extending from one end of the country to the other. The Saxon nobles became jealous of these measures, and many of them withdrew from court. The mighty Karls Edwin and Morcar—to the former of whom the Conqueror had first promised, and afterwards denied, one of his daughters in marriage—retired in disgust to Scotland, and there organized a plan, with the assistance of the Scottish King, the Princes of Wales, and the King of Denmark, simultaneously to attack England. Put their own dissensions, and the energetic precautions of William, defeated their during projects. In 1069, rebellion was rife in England, whilst Normandy was suffering from the long-continued absence of the court and nobility. " We have grown poor and pitiable," said the Normans ; " send us our good queen, and again will our trade revive, and plenty cheer our famishing boards," William complied with their demands, for, in truth, by no other means could the safety of his wife, children, and patrimonial possessions be ensured. Matilda and her eldest son, Robert, were, as before, appointed regents of Normandy, and, at parting, William implored his consort to cherish peace, the arts, and industry in his native land, and to pray for the speedy restoration of tranquillity in England. The departure of Matilda and her court aggravated the horrors of civil war in England. Trade was ruined; commerce there was none ; and multitudes of peaceably-disposed citizens were compelled to starve, or join the ranks of the malcontents. It was about this period that William, to prevent the people from meeting at night-time to discuss their grievances and plot against their oppressors, introduced into England the custom he had previously established in Normandy, known as the curfew, or couvre feu— literally, cover fire. All persons being compelled, at eight o'clock in the evening, on the tolling of a bell, to extinguish every light and fire in their dwellings, under a severe penalty. On the departure of the queen from England, the Conqueror took the field, and rapidly marched to the north, where the powerful Waltheof, with his Saxon confederates, and the Danish army they had invited across the sea, had already obtained possession of Durham, York, and other places. He swore that he would not leave one living soul in Northumberland—an oath he strenuously endeavoured to keep. On entering Yorkshire, he marked his track with fire and sword—neither age nor sex was spared- and the slaughter of the affrighted inhabitants was terrible in the extreme. The city of York presented the first formidable obstruction to his


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