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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 58



attend a synod called at Winchester, hy the legate Henry, they, instead of complying with tho wish of the assembly, by giving in their adherence to the empress, actually demanded, in the name of their fellow citizens, the release* of King Stephen before proceeding further in the matter. Their boldness greatly astonished the synod, and Henry told them, " that it did not become the Londoners to side with the barons who had basely deserted their king in battle, and were now endeavouring to drain them of their money, and embroil the kingdom in further troubles." Provoked by this lecture, the angry Londoners, after hinting at revenge, abruptly departed, declaring they would own no other sovereign but Stephen, and further, that the church had no power by its own individual voice to choose a ruler over the nation. Finding that her husband's brother, Henry, Bishop of Winchester, had defeated tho purpose of tho good magistrates of London, Matilda herself dictated a letter to the synod, earnestly entreating the release other royal lord, let whoever might be king. This letter she entrusted to her chaplain, Christian, who delivered it to the Bishop of Winchester in full synod ; but as the bishop, after perusing it, would not communicate its purport to the assembly, Christian boldly took it from his hand, and himself read it aloud to the conclave, who had scarcely recovered from their astonishment at Christian's courage, when the angry Henry prevented the pathetic appeal from taking effect, by again anathematizing Stephen and his adherents, and after pronouncing the empress lawfully elected as tho Domina or Lady of England and Normandy, hastily dissolved the synod. In the meantime, the sorrows of Queen Matilda were increased by the sad intelligence, that Geoffrey of Anjou had just succeeded in his endeavours to deprive her young son, Eustace, of the ducal crown of Normandy. However, * The citizens of London, says Malmesbury, were considered as "barons, and therefore their Influence in state matters was con-Riderable, the loss of regal power and state, galling as it might be, was, to the Queen, only as a shadow compared to the cruel imprisonment of her royal lord, whose release she used every nerve to obtain, and for whose behoof she humbled herself, by addressing a respectful and imploring petition, which she herself presented in all humility to the haughty Empress, promising, in the name of Stephen, that, as he desired but his liberty, he would, on his release, renounce the crown for himself and his heirs, depart from the kingdom in peace, and entering a continental monastery, end his days as a monk; the only favour asked, being, that her son Eustace should not be deprived of the earldom of Boulogne. These efforts of the affectionate Queenj although seconded by Stephen's brother, Henry, proved of no avail, for the proud Domina, after smiling at her tears, trampled on the petition with insulting scorn, and ordered her to instantly depart, and never again enter her presence. This harsh inflexibility was inherent in the nature of the Empress. In the days of her exaltation not a favour would she grant, even to those who had been most instrumental in raising her to her proud position. But the arrogant Bishop of Winchester, who was not to be daunted by one denial, again requested her, as a favour to himself, to permit his nephew Eustace to retain the earldoms of Mortagne and Boulogne; and trifling as the desired boon was, to her his good services had so exalted, the Empress flatly refused to grant it. This treatment disgusted the astute bishop. He perceived that the Domina only used him as her footstool to the throne, and from this hour he resolved to desert her cause, and again favour the pretensions of the less legitimate, hut more reasonable sovereign, his brother Stephen. Although possessed of the outward semblance of royalty, the Empress could not be crowned till she had gained the goodwill of the citizens of London—a task by no means easy of accomplishment. However, after some delay in négociation, the Londoners, as an act of expediency, opened tho gates of their


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