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Unformatted text preview: rinces, who remained at home, besides establishing peace in their dominions by giving occupation abroad to the inquietude and martial disposition of their subjects, took the opportunity of annexing to their crown many considerable fiefs, either by purchase or by the extinction of heirs. The pope frequently turned the zeal of the crusaders from the infidels against his own enemies, whom he represented as equally criminal with the enemies of Christ. The convents and other religious societies bought the possessions of the adventurers; and as the contributions of the PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 170 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 faithful were commonly entrusted to their management, they often diverted to this purpose what was intended to be employed against the infidels.w But no one was a more immediate gainer by this epidemic fury than the king of England, who kept aloof from all connections with those fanatical and romantic warriors. Robert, duke of Normandy, impelled by the bravery and Acquisition of mistaken generosity of his spirit, had early enlisted himself in the Normandy. crusade; but being always unprovided with money, he found, that it would be impracticable for him to appear in a manner suitable to his rank and station, at the head of his numerous vassals and subjects, who, transported with the general rage, were determined to follow him into Asia. He resolved, therefore, to mortgage or rather to sell his dominions, which he had not talents to govern; and he offered them to his brother William, for the very unequal sum of ten thousand marks.x The bargain was soon concluded: The king raised the money by violent extortions on his subjects of all ranks, even on the convents, who were obliged to melt their plate in order to furnish the quota demanded of them:y He was put in possession of Normandy and Maine; and Robert, providing himself with a magnificent train, set out for the Holy Land, in pursuit of glory, and in full confidence of securing his eternal salvation. The smallness of this sum, with the difficulties which William found in raising it, suffices alone to refute the account which is heedlessly adopted by historians, of the enormous revenue of the conqueror. Is it credible, that Robert would consign to the rapacious hands of his brother such considerable dominions, for a sum, which, according to that account, made not a week’s income of his father’s English revenue alone? Or that the king of England could not on demand, without oppressing his subjects, have been able to pay him the money? The conqueror, it is agreed, was frugal as well as rapacious; yet his treasure, at his death, exceeded not 60,000 pounds, which hardly amounted to his income for two months: Another certain refutation of that exaggerated account. The fury of the crusades, during this age, less infected England than the neighbouring kingdoms; probably because the Norman conquerors, finding their settlement in that kingdom still somewhat precarious, durst not abandon their homes, in quest of distant adventures. The selfish interested spirit also of the king, which kept him from kindling in...
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- Spring '08