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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 42



troness of religious houses, especially those devoted to the fair sex. To the convent at the ancient and stately abbey of Barking, whose abbess took precedence of every abbess in the kingdom, to that once celebrated school the nunnery of Stratford, to the conventual establishments of London, and to the monastery at Westminster, she was a frequent and diligent visitant, zealously preserving their governments free from abuses, and largely adding to their endowments. Whilst Matilda was cultivating peace and industry at home, success crowned the efforts of her royal lord in Normandy. At the speedily-terminated but decisive battle of Tinchebray—a large town in Normandy—fought on the vigil of St. Michael, Henry's victory was so complete, that he took prisoners the unfortunate Robert and his young son William, besides the Earl of Mortagne, Edgar Atheling, four hundred knights, and ten thousand soldiers. This victory, obtained fort}' years after the memorable battle of Hastings, greatly flattered the national pride of the English, who declared that, as the Normans had once been their masters, so now the husband of their good Saxon Queen had conquered the Normans. Having, to the fullness of his joy, obtained the crown of Normandy, Henry returned in triumph with his prisoners to England. Edgar, Matilda's uncle, he immediately released, and pensioned for life ; his brother Robert he, with unrelenting severity, imprisoned in Cardiff Castle, in Wales, and the Earl of Mortagne and other nobles were confined in the Tower of London and other fortresses. In 1108, the king and queen kept court for the first time at New Windsor, which had formerly been used by William the Conqueror as a hunting castle, but which the taste and skill of the holy architect, Gundulph, had converted into a royal palace, so magnificent and picturesque, that it has ever since been a favourite residence with succeeding monarchs. In 1108, Henry again went to Normandy, which was threatened with invasion by the King of Erancc. During his absence, Matilda resided at Westminster, where, surrounded by her splendid court, she, by works of charity and public utility, and by firmly upholding the Saxon form of legislature, ensured the good will of the people, whose social and political advancement she so loved to promote. Having spent the winter and spring in Normandy, Henry returned in the summer of 1109 to England, to enjoy the company of his queen and children. Shortly after his arrival, the court removed to Windsor Castle, where splendid preparations had been made for the reception of the ambassadors who came to request his daughter Matilda in marriage with the Emperor Henry the Eifth. lieauclerc joyfully accepted the proposal, and the wedding of the little princess, then only five years old, was celebrated by proxy, after which the youthful empress remained with her royal mother in England till the following year, when she was sent, with a magnificent retinue, to her imperial lord, to whom she was immediately espoused, and afterwards crowned by the Archbishop of Cologne, in the cathedral of Mentz ; but the marriage was not fully solemnized until 1114, when the princess, then but eleven years of age, was again crowned with great pomp, and afterwards conducted to the palace of her husband, Henry, who, although more than forty years her senior, treated her with great regard and tenderness. To pay the dowry of the princess Matilda, the king levied a tax of three shillings on every hide of land, by which the the sum of eight hundred and twenty-four thousand eight hundred pounds was raised. Erom this period the rebellious spirit of the Normans, and the frequent invasions of their neighbours, compelled Henry to spend the greater part of his time in his dukedom. The English, however, were so well pleased with the mild but just government of Matilda the Good, that they rather preferred the absence than the presence of their king. Nothing remarkable occurs in the annals of Matilda's court until 1115. Tu this year the Normans solemnly acknowledged her eldest born, William, gene


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