history of england_david hume

The king was soon in a situation to take the field

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Unformatted text preview: his eldest son, William bishop of Durham, Robert de Moubray, Roger Bigod, Hugh de Grentmesnil; and they easily procured the assent of these potent noblemen. The conspirators, retiring to their castles, hastened to put themselves in a military posture; and expecting to be soon supported by a powerful army from Normandy, they had already begun hostilities in many places. The king, sensible of his perilous situation, endeavoured to engage the affections of the native English. As that people were now so thoroughly subdued that they no longer aspired to the recovery of their ancient liberties, and were content with the prospect of some mitigation in the tyranny of the Norman princes, they zealously embraced William’s cause, upon receiving general promises of good treatment, and of enjoying the licence of hunting in the royal forests. The king was soon in a situation to take the field; and as he knew the danger of delay, he suddenly marched into Kent; where his uncles had already seized the fortresses of Pevensey and Rochester. These places he successively reduced by famine; and though he was prevailed on by the earl of Chester, William de Warrenne, and Robert Fitz Hammon, who had embraced his cause, to spare the lives of the rebels, he confiscated all their estates, and banished them the kingdom.g This success gave authority to his negotiations with Roger earl of Shrewsbury, whom he detached from the confederates: And as his powerful fleet, joined to the indolent conduct of Robert, prevented the arrival of the Norman succours, all the other rebels found no resource but in flight or submission. Some of them received a pardon; but the greater part were attainted and the king bestowed their estates on the Norman barons, who had remained faithful to him. William, freed from the danger of these insurrections, took little 1089. care of fulfilling his promises to the English, who still found themselves exposed to the same oppressions, which they had undergone during the reign of the Conqueror, and which were rather augmented by the violent, impetuous temper of the present monarch. The death of Lanfranc, who retained great influence over him, gave soon after a full career to his tyranny; and all orders of men found reason to complain of an arbitrary and illegal administration. Even the privileges of the church, held sacred in those days, were a feeble rampart against his usurpations. He seized the temporalities of all the vacant bishoprics and abbies; he delayed the appointing of successors to those dignities, that he might the longer enjoy the profits of their revenue; he bestowed some of the church-lands in property on his captains and favourites; and he openly set to sale such sees and abbies as he thought proper to dispose of. Though the murmurs of the ecclesiastics, which were quickly propagated to the nation, rose high against this grievance, the terror of William’s authority, confirmed by the suppression of the late insurrections, retained every one in subjection and preserved general tranquillity in England. The k...
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