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every enterprise. Rollo, instead of attempting to recover his paternal dominions, where he must expect a vigorous resistance from the Danes, determined to pursue an easier, but more important undertaking, and to make his fortune, in imitation of his countrymen, by pillaging the richer and more southern coasts of Europe. He collected a body of troops, which, like that of all those ravagers, was composed of Norwegians, Swedes, Frisians, Danes, and adventurers of all nations, who, being accustomed to a roving, unsettled life, took delight in nothing but war and plunder. His reputation brought him associates from all quarters; and a vision, which he pretended to have appeared to him in his sleep, and which, according to his interpretation of it, prognosticated the greatest successes, proved also a powerful incentive with those ignorant and superstitious people.
The first attempt made by Rollo was on England, near the end of Alfred's reign; when that great monarch, having settled Guthrum and his followers.in East Anglia, and others of those freebooters in Northumberland, and having restored peace to his harassed country, had established the most excellent military as well as civil institutions among the English. The prudent Dane, finding that no advantages could be gained over such a people, governed by such a prince, soon turned his enterprises against France, which he found more exposed to his inroads; and during the reigns of Eudes, an usurper, and of Charles the simple, a weak prince, he committed the most destructive ravages both on the inland and maritime provinces of that kingdom. The French, having no means of defence against a leader who united all the valour of his countrymen with the policy of more civilized nations, were obliged to submit to the expedient practised by Alfred, and to offer the invaders a settlement in some of those provinces which they had depopulated by their armsi.
The reason why the Danes for many years pursued
Dudo, p. 71. Gul. Gemet. in epist. ad. Gul. Conq.
i Dudo, p. 82.
measures so different from those which had been embraced by the Goths, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Lombards, and other northern conquerors, was the great difference in the method of attack which was practised by these several nations, and to which the nature of their respective situations necessarily confined them. The latter tribes, living in an inland country, made incursions by land upon the Roman empire; and when they entered far into the frontiers, they were obliged to carry along with them their wives and families, whom they had no hopes of soon revisiting, and who could not otherwise participate of their plunder. This circumstance quickly made them think of forcing a settlement in the provinces which they had overrun; and these barbarians, spreading themselves over the country, found an interest in protecting the property and industry of the people whom they had subdued. But the Danes and Norwegians, invited by their maritime situation, and obliged to maintain themselves in their uncultivated country by fishing, had acquired some experience of navigation; and in their military excursions pursued the method practised against the Roman empire by the more early Saxons: they made descents in small bodies from their ships or rather boats, and ravaging the coasts, returned with the booty to their families, whom they could not conveniently carry along with them in those hazardous enterprises. But when they increased their armaments, made incursions into the inland countries, and found it safe to remain longer in the midst of the enfeebled enemy, they had been accustomed to crowd their vessels with their wives and children, and having no longer any temptation to return to their own country, they willingly embraced an opportunity of settling in the warm climates and cultivated fields of the south.
Affairs were in this situation with Rollo and his followers, when Charles proposed to relinquish to them part of the province formerly called Neustria, and to purchase peace on these hard conditions. After all the terms were fully settled, there appeared only one circumstance shocking to the haughty Dane: he was required to do homage
to Charles for this province, and to put himself in that humiliating posture imposed on vassals by the rites of the feudal law. He long refused to submit to this indignity; but being unwilling to lose such important advantages for a mere ceremony, he made a sacrifice of his pride to his interest, and acknowledged himself in form the vassal of the French monarch. Charles gave him his daughter Gisla, in marriage; and that he might bind him faster to his interests, made him a donation of a considerable territory, besides that which he was obliged to surrender to him by his stipulations. When some of the French nobles informed him, that in return for so generous a present, it was expected that he should throw himself at the king's feet, and make suitable acknowledgments for his bounty; Rollo replied, that he would rather decline the present; and it was with some difficulty they could persuade him to make that compliment by one of his captains. The Dane, commissioned for this purpose, full of indignation at the order, and despising so unwarlike a prince, caught Charles by the foot, and pretending to carry it to his mouth, that he might kiss it, overthrew him before all his courtiers. The French, sensible of their present weakness, found it prudent to overlook this insult'.
Rollo, who was now in the decline of life, and was tired of wars and depredations, applied himself, with mature counsels, to the settlement of his new-acquired territory, which was thenceforth called Normandy; and he parcelled it out among his captains and followers. He followed in this partition the customs of the feudal law, which was then universally established in the southern countries of Europe, and which suited the peculiar circumstances of that age. He treated the French subjects who submitted to him with mildness and justice; he reclaimed his ancient followers from their ferocious violence; he established law and order throughout his state; and after a life spent in tumults and ravages, he died peaceably in a good old age, and left his dominions to his posterity m.
1 Gul. Gemet. lib. ii. cap. 17.
Ypod. Neust. p. 417.
William the first, who succeeded him, governed the duchy twenty-five years; and during that time, the Normans were thoroughly intermingled with the French, had acquired their language, had imitated their manners, and had made such progress towards cultivation, that, on the death of William, his son Richard, though a minor", inherited his dominions: a sure proof that the Normans. were already somewhat advanced in civility, and that their government could now rest secure on its laws and civil institutions, and was not wholly sustained by the abilities of the sovereign. Richard, after a long reign of fifty-four years, was succeeded by his son of the same name in the year 996°; which was eighty-five years after the first establishment of the Normans in France. This was the duke who gave his sister Emma in marriage to Ethelred, king of England, and who thereby formed connexions with a country which his posterity was so soon after destined to subdue.
The Danes had been established during a longer period in England than in France; and though the similarity of their original language to that of the Saxons invited them to a more early coalition with the natives, they had hitherto found so little example of civilized manners among the English, that they retained all their ancient ferocity, and valued themselves only on their national character of military bravery. The recent, as well as more ancient achievements of their countrymen, tended to support this idea; and the English princes, particularly Athelstan and Edgar, sensible of that superiority, had been accustomed to keep in pay bodies of Danish troops, who were quartered about the country, and committed many violences upon the inhabitants. These mercenaries had attained to such a height of luxury, according to the old English writers, that they combed their hair once a day, bathed themselves once a week, changed their clothes frequently; and by all these arts of effeminacy, as well as by their military character, had rendered themselves so
agreeable to the fair sex, that they debauched the wives and daughters of the English, and dishonoured many families. But what most provoked the inhabitants was, that, instead of defending them against invaders, they were ever ready to betray them to the foreign Danes, and to associate themselves with all straggling parties of that nation. The animosity between the inhabitants of English and Danish race, had, from these repeated injuries, risen to a great height; when Ethelred, from a policy incident to weak princes, embraced the cruel resolution of massacring the latter throughout all his dominions 9. Secret orders were despatched to commence the execution everywhere on the same day; and the festival of St. Brice, which fell on a Sunday, the day on Nov. 13. which the Danes usually bathed themselves, was chosen for that purpose. It is needless to repeat the accounts transmitted concerning the barbarity of this massacre: the rage of the populace, excited by so many injuries, sanctioned by authority, and stimulated by example, distinguished not between innocence and guilt, spared neither sex nor age, and was not satiated without the tortures, as well as death, of the unhappy victims. Even Gunilda, sister to the king of Denmark, who had married earl Paling, and had embraced christianity, was, by the advice of Edric, earl of Wilts, seized and condemned to death by Ethelred, after seeing her husband and children butchered before her face. This unhappy princess foretold, in the agonies of despair, that her murder would soon be avenged by the total ruin of the English nation.
Never was prophecy better fulfilled; and never did barbarous policy prove more fatal to the authors. Sweyn and his Danes, who wanted but a pretence for invading the English, appeared off the western coast, and threatened to take full revenge for the slaughter of their countrymen. Exeter fell first into their hands, from the negligence or treachery of earl Hugh, a Norman, who had been made governor by the interest of queen Emma. They began to spread their devastations over the coun
9 See note D, at the end of the volume.