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Unformatted text preview: shed the age, they had formed attachments with the prince, and greedily attended to the prospects of the signal glory and elevation, which he promised them in return for their concurrence in an expedition against England. The more grandeur there appeared in the attempt, the more it suited their romantic spirit: The fame of the intended invasion was already diffused every where: Multitudes crowded to tender to the duke their service, with that of their vassals and retainers:d And William found less difficulty in compleating his levies, than in chusing the most veteran forces, and in rejecting the offers of those, who were impatient to acquire fame under so renowned a leader. Besides these advantages, which William owed to his personal valour and good conduct; he was indebted to fortune for procuring him some assistance, and also for removing many obstacles, which it was natural for him to expect in an undertaking, in which all his neighbours were so deeply interested. Conan, count of Britanny, was his mortal enemy: In order to throw a damp upon the duke’s enterprize, he chose this conjuncture for reviving his claim to Normandy itself; and he required, that, in case of William’s success against England, the possession of that dutchy should devolve to him.e But Conan died suddenly after making this demand; and Hoel, his successor, instead of adopting the malignity, or more properly speaking, the prudence of his predecessor, zealously seconded the duke’s views, and sent his eldest son, Alain Fergant, to serve under him with a body of five thousand Bretons. The counts of Anjou and of Flanders encouraged their subjects to engage in the expedition; and even the court of France, though it might justly fear the aggrandizement of so dangerous a vassal, pursued not its interests on this occasion with sufficient vigour and resolution. Philip I. the reigning monarch, was a minor; and William, having communicated his PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 114 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 project to the council, having desired assistance, and offered to do homage, in case of his success, for the crown of England, was indeed openly ordered to lay aside all thoughts of the enterprize; but the earl of Flanders, his father-in-law, being at the head of the regency, favoured under-hand his levies, and secretly encouraged the adventurous nobility to inlist under the standard of the duke of Normandy. The emperor, Henry IV. besides openly giving all his vassals permission to embark in this expedition, which so much engaged the attention of Europe, promised his protection to the dutchy of Normandy during the absence of the prince, and thereby enabled him to employ his whole force in the invasion of England.f But the most important ally, whom William gained by his negociations, was the pope, who had a mighty influence over the ancient barons, no less devout in their religious principles than valorous in their military enterprizes. The Roman pontif...
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- Spring '08