FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
rogress. But what he could not gain
y force, he obtained by stratagem, By
a bribe he induced the Danish com
mander to withdraw with his army to
his ships ; and Walthcof, after a long
defence, surrendered the castle of York,
and accepted from the Conqueror, as the
price of peace, the hand of his fair niece,
Judith, in marriage. This ill-fated union
was solemnized amidst the ruins of the
city of York, where, with the indiffer
ence of a stoic, William tamed, and sur
rounded by the devastation he had himself
effected, passed the following Christmas
In 1070, the clergy, by continuing to uphold the cause of the "Saxons, had so exasperated William, that he determined, at one stroke, to chastise their insolence and increase his own exchequer. Pretending that many of the rebels had secreted their gold and plate in the monasteries, he ruthlessly jpillagcd the sacred edifices of everything that was valuable, even to the shrines of the saints, and the consecrated vessels. He then compelled the clergy, as well as the laity, to provide him with troops of war ; and after arbitrarily deposing the leading Saxon prelates, and giving their benefices to his own foreign favourites, he prohibited the use of the Saxon version of the Scriptures, and even endeavoured to supersede the Saxon language by that of the Norman.
In the schools, in the law courts, and in the royal presence, only the Norman tongue was permitted to be spoken ; yet it was found to be impossible to for ever silence the language of the people. Both the Saxons and the Normans could only commune together by borrowing from each other certain words and idioms, and in this manner the two dialects became amalgamated into the elements of the copious and expressive language in which Shakspeare wrote and Campbell sung.
It is reported that, about this period,
William, tainted with the licentiousness
of the times, dishonoured the fair fame
of the niece of Mcrlcswcn, a Kentish
noble, and that Matilda, when she heard
of the intrigue, was so enraged, that she I caused the unfortunate Saxon girl to be .hamstrung, slit in the jaws, and murdered with all the horrors of refined cruelty. Fortunately for the fair fame of Matilda, this tale of horror is somewhat doubtful, it being mentioned by but two of the early chroniclers, who both seem to regard it as a probable fiction.
The horrors of civil war had not ceased in England, when, envying the Conqueror his greatness, the King of France, in alliance with the Duke of Brittany, attacked his continental possessions with powerful forces, and encouraged the province of Maine to revolt. Matilda, perceiving the dangers of her position, sent to her royal lord for assistance. When the news reached William's ears, he was at war with the King of Scotland, who supported the Saxon rebels. He, therefore, dispatched the son of Fitz-Osborn to the queen's immediate aid, and after concluding a hasty peace with the Scottish King, himself passed over to Normandy with a largo army, composed chiefly of Saxons from the districts most likely to revolt. With these troops he speedily reduced Maine to subjection, drove the King of France to sue for peace, and restored tranquillity throughout his continental possessions.
William next laid siege to the city of Dol, where the Norman traitor, lialph de Guader, had taken refuge : but as Alan Fergeant and other nobles came with a large army to the besieged earl's rescue, William was driven from the field with considerable loss, and only extricated himself from the dilemma by a treaty of peace, followed by the marriage of his daughter, Constance, with the brave Alan Fergeant, the fair bride being dowered with all the lands of Chester,