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Unformatted text preview: ken the vows, doubts might arise concerning the lawfulness of the act; and it behoved him to be very careful not to shock, in any particular, the religious prejudices of his subjects. The affair was examined by Anselm in a council of the prelates and nobles, which was summoned at Lambeth: Matilda there proved, that she had put on the veil, not with a view of entering into a religious life, but merely in consequence of a custom, familiar to the English ladies, who protected their chastity from the brutal violence of the Normans, by taking shelter under that habit,n which amidst the horrible licentiousness of the times, was yet generally revered. The council, sensible that even a princess had otherwise no security for her honour, admitted this reason as valid: They pronounced, that Matilda was still free to marry;o and her espousals with Henry were celebrated by Anselm with great pomp and solemnity.p No act of the king’s reign rendered him equally popular with his English subjects, and tended more PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 180 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 to establish him on the throne. Though Matilda, during the life of her uncle and brothers, was not heir of the Saxon line, she was become very dear to the English on account of her connexions with it: And that people, who, before the conquest, had fallen into a kind of indifference towards their ancient royal family, had felt so severely the tyranny of the Normans, that they reflected with extreme regret on their former liberty, and hoped for a more equal and mild administration, when the blood of their native princes should be mingled with that of their new sovereigns.q But the policy and prudence of Henry, which, if time had been Invasion by duke allowed for these virtues to produce their full effect, would have Robert. secured him possession of the crown, ran great hazard of being frustrated by the sudden appearance of Robert, who returned to Normandy about a month after the death of his brother William. He took possession, without opposition, of that dutchy; and immediately made 1101. preparations for recovering England, of which, during his absence, he had, by Henry’s intrigues, been so unjustly defrauded. The great fame, which he had acquired in the East, forwarded his pretensions; and the Norman barons, sensible of the consequences, expressed the same discontent at the separation of the dutchy and kingdom, which had appeared on the accession of William. Robert de Belesme, earl of Shrewsbury and Arundel, William de la Warrenne, earl of Surrey, Arnulf de Montgomery, Walter Giffard, Robert de Pontefract, Robert de Mallet, Yvo de Grentmesnil, and many others of the principal nobility;r invited Robert to make an attempt upon England, and promised, on his landing, to join him with all their forces. Even the seamen were affected with the general popularity of his name, and they carried over to him the greater part of a fleet, which had been equipped to oppose his passage. Henry, in this extremity, began to be apprehensive for his life, as well as for his crown; and had recourse to the superstition of the people, in order to oppose their sentiment of justice. He paid diligent court to Anselm, whose sanctity and wisdom he pretended to revere. He consulted him in all difficult emergencies; seemed to...
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- Spring '08