WHAT HE HAS HE HOLDS
ND what do you think of my misty kingdom?" asked
King Edward of the Norman duke.
"That it is misty, but that it is a kingdom," said the
duke laughingly, "and it is a kingdom that may become
"It may, but only under a great king," said Edward. "My
brother Alfred should have been the king. If my
mother—but no, we will not speak of her. Alfred would
have ruled it well. He would not have been unworthy of
him whose name he bore. I am better fitted for the
cloister and the cowl. Have you thought seriously of
the matter for which I wished you to come to England?"
"I have," said William.
"You see what the land is and what the people are,"
said the king. "These English are a blunt race; not
stupid, but slow. They can do
 a thing and do it well if it once occurs to them that
they can do it. They make far better jewelry than we,
but it has not yet entered their heads that they can
build as fine churches as we. For their homes they are
satisfied with what some of our villeins would despise;
and it is all because it has not yet occurred to them
that they can do better."
"It has occurred to them that they can eat and drink,"
"Yes," said the king; "and their feasts are not feasts,
they are simply times of stuffing. They do not eat and
drink to enjoy, but to see how much they can hold. One
might as well shovel stones into a quicksand."
"They have a strange-sounding language," said William.
"Not a word of it do I know," said the king. "All
around me are Normans. The Bishop of London is a
Norman, and so is the Archbishop of Canterbury, so are
all the people of my household. I must have men whose
speech I can understand, and besides that, these
English are fit only to serve Normans, not to rule
them. But to our subject. You have done homage to me
as to your
 liege lord, and I have promised you the crown of
England at my death. Whether the English have any law
about who shall follow me, I do not know, but surely a
crown should belong to him who wears it. Be that as it
may, I give it to you. I have not forgotten the
kindness that your grandfather and your uncle showed me
when I was a boy in Normandy, and I have not forgotten
that your father lost ships and money in his attempt to
give me the throne that belonged to me. I have much
more to say to you, and to-morrow—"
"What is it?" asked the king, for a servant had drawn
aside the curtain that hid the doorway. The servant
bowed before the king and the duke.
"A messenger from over the seas would see the Duke of
Normandy. He says that his errand is speedy and brooks
no delay." Involuntarily William laid his hand on his
sword. The king smiled at the motion.
"We will hope not," said he; "and yet to a soldier like
you, to use the sword is to win glory." The messenger
was admitted. He was travel-stained and dusty, and his
dress bore every mark not only of a hasty journey but
of a hasty departure from home. His Norman courtesy
 forgotten, and after a slight obeisance to the king, he
turned quickly to William and said:—
"My lord duke, there is trouble in Normandy. The Count
of Eu rebels against your authority."
A hasty farewell did William and his knights bid to
King Edward. Straight across the channel they sailed,
and before the revolting count realized that they had
left the shores of England, he found himself a prisoner
in his own castle. Bold man as he was, he trembled and
asked for conditions of surrender.
"Surrender without conditions," was William's reply,
"or we storm the castle." The count remembered Alenšon
and surrendered. What should be done with the rebel was
the next question. A hasty consultation was held
between William and his barons.
"The count is a traitor. The punishment for treason is
death," said one stern warrior, leaning on his shield.
"It is the custom of the country and a fitting
penalty," said another.
"The Count of Eu is the cousin of my father," said
William. "I will not send my own blood to the death of
 "He lived the life of a traitor," said a baron grimly,
"and we are living the lives of honest vassals. We are
giving you our blood and our service without stint,
that there may be peace in your land. Will you hold
back from just vengeance the man who is overthrowing
all that we are trying to build up?" The young duke sat
in silence a moment. Then he said:—
"My barons, you are older and more experienced and
perhaps much wiser than I, and it might well be that I
should yield to your advice on the battle-field and in
the council-chamber, but this is neither. The Count of
Eu is conquered. He has submitted. There is no more
"There is council, though, or there ought to be,"
muttered one of the barons through his beard; but his
ruler turned upon him fiercely and said:—
"There is not. By council a traitor may be hanged. So
be it; but I am the duke, and I say that the cousin of
my father shall not be hanged. Banished he may be,
hanged he shall not be."
"The young eagle begins to feel his wings," whispered
one soldier to another, and not
with-  out a secret delight that their ruler had again shown
himself to be one that would rule.
"If the traitor is once in the hands of the duke," said
the other, "and is allowed to live, every traitor in
the duchy will rise up against us."
"Then he must never be in the hands of the duke," said
the first; and so among them they contrived a way by
which the count might quietly disappear from the place
of battle and make his escape. Every Norman rebel knew
where to go when he was exiled from his own country,
and the count fled straightway to the King of France.
Henry had forgotten all about the assistance that
William had given him. He greeted the count with much
honor, and soon received him as one of his vassals and
gave him a goodly piece of territory.
This revolt was a small matter, but there was trouble
of a more serious nature to follow. Duke Robert had
left two young half-brothers, Malger and the Count of
Arques. The count had never been friendly to William,
but he had made no open revolt, and had even fought
under the duke's banner. Malger was a priest, and
 William by the advice of his council had made him
Archbishop of Rouen. No tie of gratitude bound Malger,
and although he readily accepted the high position, he
determined to use his power to overthrow the nephew who
had given it to him, and to put the Count of Arques on
the ducal throne. No son of Arletta, said the
archbishop, should ever hold the place of his brother
Some years earlier William had intrusted to his uncle
the county of Arques, and the count had at once built a
strong castle. It was on a narrow tongue of land, while
the keep, standing on a hill at the point near where
the tongue joined the mainland, shut off all hostile
approach. Around the keep the count had dug a fosse of
unusual depth and width. William had reason to suspect
his uncle's loyalty, and therefore he filled this
castle with a garrison of his own men whom he thought
he could trust. Unfortunately, either they feared the
threats of the count, or else they were not able to
resist his bribes. At any rate, they soon swore
allegiance to the revolter.
Straightway there broke out all over the
dis-  trict of Arques a frenzy of theft, robbery, and
murder. Men who so readily broke their oath of fealty
could not be trusted to keep their hands from the
property of others. They seized upon the goods of
merchants, and the crops upon which the very lives of
the peasant farmers depended. The church, too, was a
constant sufferer. Church and peasant united in an
appeal to William.
The duke was at Valognes when the messenger came.
Without an instant's delay, he buckled on his sword to
set out for Arques.
"The King of France is making ready to assist the Count
of Arques," added the messenger. William stood with
his hand on his horse ready to spring into the saddle.
"Say you so?" he asked sternly. "Is this the truth that
you are telling me?" The messenger raised his right
"Strike this off if you find me false," said he.
William dropped his horse's rein, and stood for some
minutes silent and in deep thought.
"Be it so," he said half aloud. Then he turned to his
"Let those who love me follow me," he said; and they
set out on as wild a gallop as that on
 which William had once before set out from this same
castle of Valognes. They spurred their steeds. One
horse after another was exhausted. Twice William's
horse sank under him, and twice he sprang upon a fresh
one. When he came in sight of the castle of Arques, his
faithful knights were far behind him. Only six could
endure that frantic ride. Just what William expected to
do with six men against a mighty castle no one knows,
for happily some loyal vassals had called out three
hundred knights. Even this force was slender enough, so
the vassals told him, for the whole district was in
"All the more need to quiet one part of it," said the
duke. "When those rebels once see me face to face, they
will yield." William's courage aroused a new hope in
the others. Wild shouts of loyalty and enthusiasm
echoed and reëchoed. The faithful nobles waved their
swords, their shields, their lances, anything, as they
rallied eagerly about their commander.
"There they are!" he cried. "Let every brave man follow
me," and he galloped furiously toward the hill. His
quick eye had seen a
com-  pany of the rebels winding up the steep. They were evidently
returning from some marauding expedition, for they
seemed to be carrying great loads, and their horses
went slowly and wearily. Without a glance to see
whether any one was supporting him, William galloped
on, and his brave men followed. The men of Arques were
overtaken close to the castle gate. They fought for
only a few minutes, then they retreated to the castle
for their lives, and the great gates closed behind
"They shall yield," cried William, "and not a drop of
loyal Norman blood shall be shed." More of the faithful
knights had arrived. Between the keep and the
mainland, William dug a deep ditch and built a
palisade. Then he put up quickly a wooden tower to shut
off food and allies.
Inside the castle were the rebels, the Count of Arques
and all the vassals whose military service he could
command, together with many more whom the aid of his
archbishop brother had enabled him to hire. Outside the
castle were William's men, and on the way to help the
rebels and to crush the faithful Normans between the
castle and the forces of the king,
 came Henry, ruler of France, and sworn protector and
friend of William of Normandy.
William might possibly have conquered the rebels before
him, but the army of the king, coming upon him in the
midst of the battle, would almost certainly have given
the victory to the men of Arques. The whole district
was in an uproar. No one knew from what direction aid
might come for the rebels. Leaving part of his army to
defend the wooden tower and shut off any hostile troops
that might appear from the east, the duke set out to
intercept any that might come from the other
It was not long before some loyal friends sent word to
the brave besiegers in the wooden tower that King Henry
and his men were encamped not far away, ready to come
to the aid of the castle of Arques. None too many men
had the besiegers, but a party started at once to
prevent the coming of the allies, slipping away
silently in the darkness that the rebels might not know
that the numbers of their foes were less.
Morning came, and the French soldiers started out
merrily. The young knights caracoled their horses. They
sang old love-songs, and they laid
 wagers with one another about how high the sun would be
when the men of this troublesome duke would flee before
them like so many crickets. Then they formed in
marching order. First came the soldiers armed with
pikes and battle-axes, a formidable advance-guard.
Behind them followed the long train of baggage, engines
of war, loads of weapons, tents, and provisions for
themselves and for the beleaguered garrison. With this
were the "scullions, cooks, and carters," whose
business it was not to fight, but to care for all these
things. Then came the king and the whole troop of horse
and foot, well armed and ready to engage in whatever
conflict might arise.
Steadily the long line marched on. Victory lay before
them; they had no thought of fear. It was a pleasant,
sunny way. Little birds sang over their heads, flowers
were under their feet. One stalwart soldier stooped to
pick a tiny white blossom. The next moment he lay dead
with the little white flower fresh and fair in his
stiffening hand. An enemy's arrow had struck him; and
there was the Norman band, only a little company, so
little that the Frenchmen laughed and shouted
exultantly and turned upon them.
 The Normans fled. Whither? No matter, it was easy to
follow and capture them; and with cries of derision the
whole force of the king pursued. Into a narrow valley
ran the Normans, with apparently no thought save of
escape from their foes. On either side were steep,
heavily wooded hills. The Normans ran, and the
Suddenly a hissing storm of steel-tipped arrows burst
upon the lines of the French. Not a foeman was in sight
save the disordered ranks that were fleeing before
them, but high up on the hills on either hand were
William's good archers. Behind every rock and every
tree they had stood so motionless that the shy little
animals of the wood had forgotten their first alarm,
and had begun to run fearlessly about their feet. The
disordered troops of the Normans instantly faced about,
formed in line, and fell upon the French forces. These,
shut into the valley by the Normans, were thrust back
upon their own troops. Everywhere there was disorder
and confusion. In the clouds of dust and sand, friends
and companions in arms struck wildly at one another.
The horses, bold to meet danger face to face,
 were terrified by a peril that they could not see. They
freed themselves from all control, and ran wildly
wherever there was a moment's break in the flash of
swords. Still swept over them the terrible storm of
arrows from the unseen foe. Lance and gonfalon were
trampled into the dust. There were great writhing
masses of dead and wounded; and, through it all, past
where the happy little white flowers had grown and the
yellow sunshine had brightened the mossy ground around
them, there began to trickle slow, sullen streams of
the red blood of brave men.
STILL SWEPT OVER THEM THE TERRIBLE STORM OF ARROWS
Part of the army, led by the king himself, formed a
wedge, and worked through to safety from immediate
attack. They even went as far as Arques, but William's
men were too strong for them, and they withdrew to the
French boundaries, the king mortified and angry, and
the soldiers talking sullenly to one another.
"Where is our vanguard, and where are our wings? What
has this mighty king, this great man of battle, done
with them?" And another would say:—
"Has he any more mousetraps to lead us into, this wise
and valiant ruler of ours?"
 Duke William, having prevented any aid from coming to
the castle from either hand, returned to the wooden
tower, not to fight, but to wait. Why should one fight
when hunger would do the work? The Count of Arques had
contrived to send a messenger to Henry begging for
help, but no help came. The castle was swarming with
defenders, but there was no food. To have many men is
good in a fight, but it is not good in a famine. The
white flag was run up.
"Promise us safety of life and limb, and we yield,"
said the starving garrison. The gates were thrown open,
and out came a miserable company. With faces worn and
haggard, and drawn by the pangs of hunger, tottering
along on feet that could hardly support them, and
resting their hands on horses that were too feeble to
bear the weight of their masters—to see the proudest
knights of the land in such a plight was indeed
pitiable. Nor was this all; for some of them, knowing
well that death was the punishment for such treason as
theirs, and fearing that William's promise would not
restrain his just resentment, came out bowed down by
the weight of the saddles that were strapped to
 their shoulders, hoping by their humility to disarm
To William's honor be it said that he inflicted no
further suffering upon these miserable men. He did not
banish the count. He even permitted him to retain
nearly all of his estate; and when the count finally
withdrew of his own accord to the court of Boulogne,
William granted the land to another member of the same
William had paid a visit to England, and he had
returned and conquered a revolt in his duchy, but there
was another matter which he had not forgotten in all
his feasting and fighting. Matilda of Flanders was to
be his wife, and he had waited for the Pope's
permission about as long as his impatience would
permit. Some five years it had been since he was
forbidden to marry her, and for five years he had
waited with apparent meekness and obedience to the
He was in a different position now from that of five
years earlier. He was at the head of Normandy much more
perfectly than he had been before, for he had shown
that what he had he could hold. Moreover, he had good
reason to believe that in due time he would be king of
 England. Was a king and duke to be refused a
dispensation that any ordinary knight might hope to
obtain? The Normans had powerful settlements in Italy.
Jealousy and war had arisen, and the Pope had been a
captive in the hands of the victorious Normans. He had
thought of the Normans as a wild, only half-civilized
people, and expected from them the most severe
treatment. Much to his surprise, the Norman commander
came to him at once in person and addressed him most
respectfully, inviting him to the Norman camp, not as
prisoner, but as guest. All the chief officers attended
the Pope to the camp. The greatest courtesy was shown
him, and he was entertained for several days with as
much luxury as a camp could furnish. Then with a guard
of honor, he was conducted to the city where he wished
to remain. Leo IX was a sincere man. Understanding the
nature of the Normans better, he absolved them from
censure, and even blessed their arms. These Norman
warriors had opposed him sword in hand. Would he who
had so readily pardoned them refuse a dispensation to
the greatest Norman of them all? William thought not.
 give permission in advance was one thing; to pardon
what was already done was another.
So it was that Duke William took matters into his own
control and appealed to the Count of Flanders for the
hand of Matilda. The count was pleased with the
powerful alliance and gave with his daughter a generous
dowry, land and money and costly robes and priceless
jewels. A ruling sovereign must be married in his own
territory, so the count set off with his daughter and a
long procession of knights and nobles to cross the
district of Ponthieu to the Norman frontier. A
brilliant company it was. The ladies were in elegant
attire, their mantles sparkling with jewels and
gleaming with many rich colors. The knights wore their
armor, and it shone and flashed in the sunshine. The
horses were richly caparisoned, with bright stones
glowing here and there in their trappings.
At Eu, the first castle over the Norman frontier,
William met his bride. He wore armor, and his helmet
and mantle both flashed with precious stones. So
magnificent was this mantle and that of his bride, that
both garments, together with the duke's helmet, were
presented to the
 cathedral at Bayeux and were kept for at least four
hundred years. The whole company rode to the church of
Eu; and there some priest, who trusted to the power of
William to free him from the censure of the Pope,
pronounced the blessing of the church upon the couple
who were to become the ancestors of the English
sovereigns of to-day.
There were celebrations and feasts and entertainments
of all sorts; then with all the honor that Normandy
could show, the maiden of Flanders was escorted to the
Norman capital of Rouen. The Count and Countess of
Flanders and all the Flemish court accompanied her, and
at Rouen there were again many days of festivity and
The Flemings went back to their own land, and William
with the greatest pride and delight took his bride on a
royal progress to see the towns and people of Normandy.
It had been thirty years since Normandy had had a
duchess, and this beautiful, cultivated woman found a
sincere welcome wherever she went. The church
dignitaries might be pleased or displeased; the masses
of the Norman people rejoiced.