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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 41



had previously always beeh allowed to marry, to lead a life of celibacy, on pain of excommunication; and although Matilda durst not interfere in the matter, deputation after deputation of these poor ecclesiastics watted upon her, and implored her, as for their very lives, to persuade the king, out of compassion for their disconsolate wives and children, to permit them again to embrace their families. In 1105, or, as some historians state, in 1104, the queen gave birth to a princess, who was first christened Alice, but afterwards, by the desire of the king, named Matilda, and who, whilst but yet a child, was placed by her royal mother in the abbey at Wilton, where she was educated with great care. In the autumn of this year (1105). Henry returned from his successful campaign in Normandy, and was gratified on finding that the queen had so ably exercised the functions of government during his absence, that the general aspect of affairs had improved, and not a single insurrection had occurred. Whilst in Normandy, Henry endeavoured to gain the favour of the clergy— a difficult task, as be had greatly offended the pious world by exalting Roger le Poer, from the station of a poor priest, to the archbishopric of York, and the chancellorship of the state, and that for no other reason than Roger having, seven years back, in compliance with Beauclere's own request, hurried over the church service in half an hour. Henry, however, gained his purpose in rather a singular manner. He and Ins train wore waving ringlets and moustaches, a practice at that time usual in England, but deemed by the superstitious Normans highly sinful. He, therefore, entered a church, listened with apparent attention to a sermon, preached by Serio, Bishop of Seen, against beards and long hair, and declared himself so moved by the truthfulness and eloquence of the prelate's discourse, that, in the presence of tho congregation, he submitted his flowing locks and graceful moustaches to the scissors of the worthy Serio, who cropped his head and face with a graceful but most unsparing hand. Henry next issued a decree, compelling all his lieges, for the glorification of the church, to go like himself with bare faces and scantily-adorned pates. 'During the winter season, which was passed by the queen and her royal lord at Northampton, Henry was himself oc* cupied in raising the means for carrying on the war he had so successfully begun in Normandy. On learning this, his brother, Duke Robert, having neither funds nor the aid of powerful friends to support his cause, became so impressed with the hopelessness of hie position, that in the depth of winter he came over to England and earnestly implored the king to permit him to retain at least the appearance of royalty; but Henry treated the penniless prodigal with such insolent disdain, that, as on a former occasion, he retired in disgust, without effecting his purpose. At the first faint glimpse of spring, in 1106, the king again entrusted Matilda with the reins of his government, and embarked for the continental dominions of his brother Robert, declaring that, before the coming autumn moistened the earth with its chilling tears, he would win the crown of Normandy, or die in i the attempt. It was during the frequent absence of her royal lord in Normandy that Matilda directed her attention to architecture, and so liberally furthered the views of the learned Gundulph, architect of the Tower of London and other time-defying structures. The hospital of St. J Giles-in-tbc-Eields, the church and hospital of St. Catherine, near the Tower of London, and the priory of the Holy Trinity, afterwards named Christ Church, in Duke's Place, London, now a noted resort of peddling Jews, remained for many centuries monuments of her munificent bounty. By her queenly desire was built Bow Bridge, at Stratford-le-Bow, said to he the first stone bridge erected in England; and also Channel's Bridge, over a tributary of the Lea; whilst, not unmindful of the importance of good roads, she had the ancient highways, which had fallen into decay during the late civil wars, put in repair, and many new ones made. The good queen was also a most active and liberal pa


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