nevertheless feared, that, when free in England, Harold would consider an oath that had been extorted from him not binding upon his conscience, and, on the death of Edward, grasp at the English sceptre. To render the breach in such a case doubly flagrant, William affianced to Harold his daughter Adeliza, a child but seven years old, after which he loaded him with presents, and dismissed him with his nephew, promising to bring his brother when he himself came to England.
On arriving in England, Harold, who considered himself in nowise bound by the oath and promises which endurance had forced from him, strengthened his cause by espousing Algitha, sister to the powerful Earl of Morcar; and shortly afterwards, on the death of Edward the Confessor, he ascended the throne—a step which so exasperated William, that, bursting into a fit of vehement anger, he drove the bearer of the unpleasant news from his presence, hurriedly paced the hall, and unconsciously tying and untying the tasselled band of his cloak, hurled curses of defiance against the faithless Harold "Not enough is it, "he passionately muttered," that the dastardly usurper spurns his affianced bride, my lovely Adeliza! but he must even clutch the crown ere it can descend on my head! By the splendour of God! the harvest of bis aspiring ambition shall be snatched from his covetous grasp, and William of Normandy yet reign England's king!"
Although aware of the many difficulties to be encountered in invading so powerful a country as England, William resolved, rather than the valuable sceptre should escape his grasp, to undertake the hazardous project. He, therefore, without delay, stated his intentions to his assembled nobles, who, conceiving the enterprize far too hazardous, strongly objected to it.
"Already," said they, "we are sufficiently impoverished by the duke's foreign wars, and, furthermore, we like not crossing the sea. Let us wait on our sovereign and inform him, and let our good Fitz-Osborn, who is fairer-tongued than we, speak our message."
To this arrangement Fitz-Osborn, who was one of their body, readily agreed; but either from craft, or excess of loyalty, he quite forgot the purport of his commission, and instead of telling the duke that they disapproved of the expedition, actually informed him that, being exceedingly pleased with the measure, they had cheerfully resolved to go with him over sea, and, to render victory more sure, they would each double the number of men which, as vassals, they were bound to bring into the field.
These words astonished the assembled knights and barons, and so excited their ire against Fitz-Osborn, that they sorely abused him.
"Man of fair tongue, thou liest!" they exclaimed, with fiery execrations; and a clamorous uproar ensued, so noisy and wild, that not a speaker could make himself heard : "Thou liest, Fitz-Osborn ! thou liest !" being the only cry audible amidst the babble and confusion.
The duke retired from the exciting scene into his presencechamber, sent for the refractory nobles one by one, and by remonstrances and magnificent promises, so overcame their scruples, that to what Fitz-Osborn proffered they agreed; each man undertaking to assist in the invasion of the Anglo-Saxon land, and, for the occasion, to double his services.
William next requested aid from Philip of France, offering, in return, in the event of success, to own him as his lord paramount of England, as well as of Normandy, but the French king had no faith in the project, and declared, that in its support he would not advance a pound of silver. Besides, he archly remarked to the Norman ambassador:
"May not your royal master, by running after a crown's shadow, gain nothing, and lose what he still possesses? Speed ye to your liege lord, and say, Philip would ask who is to take charge of Normandy in the absence of its royal duke?"
Although rebuffed by the French king, William speedily gathered the flower of Europe's chivalry under his renowned banner. The Counts of Brittany and Anjou encouraged their subjects to join his ranks, as also did the Emperor of Germany, Henry IV, who likewise undertook to preserve his dukedom from invasion during his absence; and the Pope sent him a consecrated banner, and promulgated a bull, declaring the justice of his cause, and animating all Christians to flock to his standard. Besides other signal services, his father-in-law, Baldwin of Flanders, fitted out sixty ships, filled with sturdy warriors, and entrusted them to Tostig, to make a descent on England. The traitor Saxon carried tire and sword into several villages on the British coast, but being come upon unawares by the intrepid Earl Morcar, he was driven to his ships, and sailed for Scotland, where, meeting with no encouragement, he directed his course to Norway, whose warlike king, Harfager, he persuaded to join him in attacking England on the north, simultaneous with , the Duke of Normandy's descent on the south.
After strenuous efforts, William found himself at the head of a magnificent fleet of three thousand sail, and an army of sixty thousand stalwart warriors, commanded by the boldest and most illustrious knights of that renowned age of rude chivalry. The port of St. Valleri was the place appointed for the embarking of the assembled warriors, and thither William proceeded, after having first invested Matilda, and his son Robert, a youth who had seen but thirteen summers, with the regency of his dukedom, and named the able Roger de Beaumont, and other wise prelates and nobles, as their councillors during his absence.
The Norman fleet wind-bound at St. Valleri — Superstition of the soldiery — Happy arrival of Matilda in the Mora — Favourable wind — William and his armament cross the Channel — Land in England —-Tostig and the king of Norway defeated — Battle of Hastings — Bayeaux tapestry.
HEN William reached St. Valleri, the fleet was wind-bound, and his fighting men were detained in suspense and idleness. Day follow ed day, hut the wished-for breeze came not, and the superstitious soldiers began to murmur and desert. " Surely there is evil in this,"said they," for God, who rules the wind, locks us in our own harbour, whence we cannot depart. How know we but what the duke, like unto his father, communes with evil spirits, who have shut the ears of his understanding, so that he hearkens not to the