Unformatted text preview: execution of a commission from the king of England, he had met with this harsh treatment from the mercenary disposition of the count of Ponthieu. William was immediately sensible of the importance of the incident. He foresaw, that, if he could once gain Harold, either by favours or menaces, his way to the throne of England would be open, and Edward would meet with no farther obstacle in executing the favourable intentions, which he had entertained in his behalf. He sent, therefore, a messenger to Guy, in order to demand the liberty of his prisoner; and that nobleman, not daring to refuse so great a prince, put Harold into the hands of the Norman, who conducted him to Roüen. William received him with every demonstration of respect and friendship; and after showing himself disposed to comply with his desire, in delivering up the hostages, he took an opportunity of disclosing to him the great secret, of his pretensions to the crown of England, and of the will which Edward intended to make in his favour. He desired the assistance of Harold in perfecting that design; he made professions of the utmost gratitude in return for so great an obligation; he promised that the present grandeur of Harold’s family, which supported itself with difficulty under the jealousy and hatred of Edward, should receive new encrease from a successor, who would be so greatly beholden to him for his advancement. Harold was surprized at this declaration of the duke; but being sensible that he should never recover his own liberty, much less that of his brother and nephew, if he refused the demand, he feigned a compliance with William, renounced all hopes of the crown for himself, and professed his sincere intention of supporting the will of Edward, and seconding the pretensions of the duke of Normandy. William, to bind him faster to his interests, besides offering him one of his daughters in marriage, required him to take an oath, that he would fulfil his promises; and in order to render the oath more obligatory, he employed an artifice, well suited to the ignorance and superstition of the age. He secretly conveyed under the altar, on which PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 109 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 Harold agreed to swear, the reliques of some of the most revered martyrs; and when Harold had taken the oath, he showed him the reliques, and admonished him to observe religiously an engagement, which had been ratified by so tremendous a sanction.w The English nobleman was astonished; but dissembling his concern, he renewed the same professions, and was dismissed with all the marks of mutual confidence by the duke of Normandy. When Harold found himself at liberty, his ambition suggested casuistry sufficient to justify to him the violation of an oath, which had been extorted from him by fear, and which, if fulfilled, might be attended with the subjection of his native country to a foreign power. He continued still to practise every art of popularity; to encrease the number of his partizans; to reconcile the minds of the English to the idea of his succession; to revive their hatred of the Normans; and by an ostentation...
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This note was uploaded on 02/12/2011 for the course CHIN 101 taught by Professor Dr.yu during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .
- Spring '08