« PreviousContinue »
1118.] Matilda's Family.
109 King Henry proved the sincerity of his regard for Matilda, by confirming all her charters after her death. Madox, in his History of the Exchequer, quotes one of that monarch's charters, reciting “ that he had confirmed to the priory of the Holy Trinity, in the Minories, in London, the grant of his queen Matilda, for the good of her soul, of 251. on the farm of the city of Exeter, and commands his chief justiciar and the barons of his exchequer to constrain the sheriff of Devonshire to pay the same to the said canons.
Matilda's household was chiefly composed of Saxon ladies, if we may trust the evidence of Christian names.
The maids of honour were Emma, Gunilda, and Christina, pious ladies and full of alms-deeds, like their royal mistress. After the death of the queen, these ladies retired to the hermitage of Kilburn, near London, where there was a holy well or medicinal spring. This was changed into a priory2 in 1128, as the deed says, “ for the reception of these three virgins of God, sacred damsels who had belonged to the chamber of Matilda, the good queenconsort to Henry I.”
History only particularizes two surviving children of Matilda of Scotland and Henry I. ; but Gervase, the monk of Canterbury, says she had, besides William and the empress Matilda, a son named Richard. Hector Boethius mentions a daughter of hers, named Euphemia. The Saxon Chronicle and Robert of Gloucester both speak of her second son Richard, and Piers of Langtoft says, “The two princes, her sons, were both in Normandy when Matilda died.” Prince William the Atheling was destined to see England no more. During the remainder of the year 1118 he was fighting by his father's side, against the invading force of the king of France and the partisans of his cousin, William Clito. On one occasion when the noble war-horse and its rich caparisons belonging to that gallant but unfortunate prince, having been abandoned during a hasty retreat, were captured, and Henry presented this prize to his darling heir, the noble youth generously sent them back, with a courteous message, to his rival kinsman and namesake. His royal father
, king Henry, did not disdain to imitate the magnanimous conduct of his youthful son after the memorable battle in which the standard of France was taken : when the favourite
charger of Louis
le Gros fell into his hands, he returned it to the French monarch the The king of France, as suzerain of Normandy, at the general pacification , required of Henry the customary
homage for his feof. This the victorious monarch considered derogatory to the dignity of a king of
who was then invested with the duchy, and received the oath of fealty Charter Antiq. Nn. 16.
On its site are a public-house and tea-gardens, now called 3 Holinshed.
from the states. The prince solemnly espoused his betrothed brid Alice, the daughter of Fulk, earl of Anjou, June, 1119. King Henr changed her name to Matilda, out of respect, it is said, for the memor of his mother ; but more probably from a tender regard for his decease consort, Matilda of Scotland, the love of his youth, and the mother o his children. The marriage was celebrated at Lisieux, in the county o Burgundy; and the prince remained in Normandy with his young bride, attended by all the youthful nobility of England and the duchy passing the time gaily with feasts and pageants till the 25th November, in the year 1120; when king Henry (who had been nearly two years absent from his kingdom) proceeded with him and an illus trious retinue to Barfleur,s where the king and his heir embarked fa England the same night in separate ships.
Fitz-Stephen, the captain of the • Blanche Nef' (the finest vessel the Norman navy), demanded the honour of conveying the heir of England home, because his father had commanded the · Mora,' the ship which brought William the Conqueror to the shores of England. His petition was granted : and the prince, with his gay and splendid company, entered the fatal bark with light hearts, and commenced their voyage with mirth and minstrelsy. The prince incautiously ordered three casks of wine to be given to the ship's crew; and the marines were, in consequence, for the most part intoxicated when they sailed, about the close of the day. Prince William, who was desirous of overtaking the rest of the fleet, pressed Fitz-Stephen to crowd bis sails, and put out his sweeps. Fitz-Stephen having called the “white ship” the swiftest galley in the world, to make good his boast and oblige his royal passenger, caused his men to stretch with all their might to the oars, and did everything to accelerate the speed of his light bark
. While the 'Blanche Nef' was rushing through the water with the most dangerous velocity, she suddenly struck on a rock, called the “ Catte-raze,” with such impetuosity, that she started several planks and began to sink. All was instant horror and confusion. The boat was, however, let down, and the young heir of England, with several of his youthful companions, got into it, and having cleared the ship, might have reached the Norman shore in safety ; but the cries of his illegitimate sister, Matilda, countess of Perche, who distinctly called on him by name for succour, moving him with a tender impulse of compassion, he commanded the boat back to take her in. Unfortunately the moment it neared the ship, such numbers sprang into it, that it instantly sank with its precious freight; all on board perished, and of the three hundred persons who embarked in the White Ship, but one soul escaped to tell the dismal tale. This person was a poor butcher of Rouen, named Berthould, who climbed to the top of the mast, and was
2 Ord. Vit. Tyrrell.
1 Saxon Annals.
3 Ord Vit.
The fatal · White Ship.'
111 e next morning rescued by some fishermen. Fitz-Stephen, the aster of the luckless White Ship,' was a strong mariner, and stoutly pported himself for some hours in the water, till he saw Berthould
the mast, and calling to him, asked if the boat with the heir of ngland had escaped ; but when the butcher, who had witnessed the hole catastrophe, replied “ that all were drowned and dead,” the strong an's force failed him; he ceased to battle with the waves, and sank to se no more. The report of this disaster reached England the next ay. Theobald of Blois, the king's nephew, was the first who heard it; ut he dared not inform his uncle of the calamity which had rendered is house desolatc.
King Henry had reached England with his fleet in safety, and for
Saxons like oxen. But God said, “It shall not be, thou impious
queen. Thierry's Anglo-Normans.
nation at that period, and that the Saxon
chroniclers wrote in the very gall of bitterBrompton also speaks unfavourably of ness against those whom the Norman hisunfortunate young prince; but it should torians commended. emembered that England was a divided
m. of Malms.
ADELICIA OF LOUVAINE,
SURNAMED THE FAIR MAID OF BRABANT;
SECOND QUEEN OF HENRY I.
This princess, to whom contemporary chroniclers have given the nam of “the fair Maid of Brabant,” is one of the most obscure character in the catalogue of English queens. Tradition, and her handmai Poetry, have, however, spoken bright things of her; and the survivin, historical records of her life, though brief, are all of a nature tending to confirm the good report which the verses of the Provençals have preserved of her virtues and accomplishments.
Descended, through both her parents, from the imperial Carlovingian line, Adelicia boasted the most illustrious blood in Christendom. She was the eldest daughter of Godfrey of Louvaine, duke of Brabant and Lotheir (or Lower Lorraine), and Ida, countess of Namur. Her father, as the great-grandson of Charles, brother to Lothaire of France, was the lawful representative of Charlemagne. The male posterity the unfortunate Charles having been cut off by Hugh Capet, the rights of his house became vested in the descendants of his eldest daughter, Gerberga. Lambert, the son of Gerberga, by her marriage with Robert of Louvaine, was the father of Godfrey. Ermengarde, the second daughter of Charles, married Albert, the third count of Namur
; and their sole daughter and heiress, Ida' (the mother of Adelicia), became the wife of her cousin, Godfrey of Louvaine, surnamed Bar batus, or “the bearded,” because he had made a vow never to share his beard till he had recovered Lower Lorraine, the patrimony of his ancestors. In this he succeeded in the year 1107, after which bei triumphantly displayed a smooth chin, in token that he had fulfilled his obligation. He finally obtained from his subjects and contem poraries the honourable appellation of Godfrey the Great? The dominions of this prince were somewhat more extensive than the modern kingdom of Belgium, and were governed by him with the greatest wisdom and ability.
1 Howard Memorials, % Buknet's Trophies. Howard Memorials.
113 From this illustrious lineage, Adelicia inherited the distinguished beauty and fine talents for which the Lorraine branch of the house of Charlemagne has ever been celebrated. She was also remarkable for her proficiency in feminine acquirements. The standard she embroidered in silk and gold for her father, during the arduous contest in which he was engaged for the recovery of his patrimony, was celebrated throughout Europe for the exquisite taste and skill displayed by the royal Adelicia in the design and execution of her patriotic achievement.' This standard was unfortunately captured at a battle near the castle of Duras
, in the year 1129, by the bishop of Liege and the earl of Limbourg, the old competitor of Godfrey for Lower Lorraine : it was placed by them, as a memorial of their triumph, in the great church of St. Lambert, at Liege, and was for centuries carried in procession, on Rogation-days
, through the streets of that city. The church of St. Lambert was destroyed during the French revolution ; yet the learned editor of the Howard Memorials fondly indulges in the hope that this interesting relic of his royal ancestress's industry and patriotic feelings may yet exist, hereafter to be brought to light, like the long-forgotten Bayeux tapestry. The plain, where this memorable trophy was taken, is still called “ the field of the Standard."?
The fame of the fair maid of Brabant's charms and accomplishments, it is said, induced the confidential advisers of Henry I. of England to recommend their sorrow-stricken lord to wed her, in hopes of dissipating that corroding melancholy which, since the loss of his children in the fatal · White Ship,' had become constitutional to him. The temper of this monarch had, in fact, grown so irascible, that his greatest nobles feared to enter his presence, and it is said that, in his causeless transports of rage, he indulged himself in the use of the most unkingly terms of vituperation to all who approached him; which made his peers the more earnest in their counsels for him to take a second wife. Adelicia of Louvaine was the object of his choice. Henry's ostensible motive in contracting this marriage was the hope of male posterity, to inherit the united realms of England and Normandy. He had been a widower two years when he entered into a treaty
with Godfrey of Louvaine for the hand of his beautiful daughter. Robert of Gloucester, when recording the fact in his rhyming Chronicle,
“ He knew no woman so fair as she
Was seen on middle earth."
The name of this princess has been variously written by the chroniclers of England, Normandy, Germany, and Brabant, as Adeliza, Alicia, Howard's Memo. liam the Atheling, “ which induced king
Henry to renounce the celibacy he had cherished since Matilda's death, in the hope of
Buknet's Trophies. rials. 2 Brutsholme.
3 " It was the death of this youth," says