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tended it in person, and were determined, if possible, to breathe their last in sight of that city where their Saviour had died for them. Women themselves, concealing their sex under the disguise of armour, attended the camp; and commonly forgot still more the duty of their sex, by prostituting themselves without reserve to the army. The greatest criminals were forward in a service which they regarded as a propitiation for all crimes; and the most enormous disorders were, during the course of those expeditions, committed by men inured to wickedness, encouraged by example, and impelled by necessity. The multitude of the adventurers soon became so great, that their more sagacious leaders, Hugh, count of Vermandois, brother to the French king, Raymond, count of Toulouse, Godfrey of Bouillon, prince of Brabant, and Stephen, count of Blois', became apprehensive lest the greatness itself of the armament should disappoint its purpose; and they permitted an undisciplined multitude, computed at three hundred thousand men, to go before them, under the command of Peter the hermit and Walter the moneyless. These men took the road towards Constantinople through Hungary and Bulgaria; and trusting that heaven, by supernatural assistance, would supply all their necessities, they made no provision for subsistence on their march. They soon found themselves obliged to obtain by plunder what they had vainly expected from miracles; and the enraged inhabitants of the countries through which they passed, gathering together in arms, attacked the disorderly multitude, and put them to slaughter without resistance. The more disciplined armies followed after; and passing the straits at Constantinople, they were mustered in the plains of Asia, and amounted in the whole to the number of seven hundred thousand combatants'.
Amidst this universal frenzy, which spread itself by contagion throughout Europe, especially in France and Germany, men were not entirely forgetful of their present
Sim. Dunelm. p. 222.
a Vertot, Hist. de Chev. de Malte, vol. í. P. 46.
interests; and both those who went on this expedition, and those who stayed behind, entertained schemes of gratifying by its means their avarice or their ambition. The nobles who enlisted themselves were moved, from the romantic spirit of the age, to hope for opulent establishments in the east, the chief seat of arts and commerce during those ages; and in pursuit of these chimerical projects, they sold at the lowest price their ancient castles and inheritances, which had now lost all value in their eyes. The greater princes, 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 faithful were commonly intrusted to their management, they often diverted to this purpose what was intended to be employed against the infidels". But no one was a more immediate gainer by this epidemic fury than the king of England, who kept aloof from all connexions with those fanatical and romantic warriors.
"Padre Paolo, Hist. delle Benef. Eccles. p. 128. * W. Malms. P. 123. Chron. T. Wykes, p. 24. Annal. Waverl. p. 139. W. Heming. p. 467. Flor. Wigorn. p. 648. Sim. Dunelm. p. 222. Knyghton, p. 2364.
Robert, duke of Normandy, impelled by the bravery Acquisition and mistaken generosity of his spirit, had early enlisted mandy. himself in the 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*. 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 them3: 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 sixty thousand pounds, which hardly amounted to his income for two months: another certain refutation of that exaggerated
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 the general flame, checked its progress among his subjects; and as he is accused of open profaneness", and was endued with a sharp wit, it is likely that he made the romantic chivalry of the crusaders the object of his perpetual raillery. As an instance of his irreligion, we are told that he once accepted of sixty marks from a jew, whose son had been converted to christianity, and who engaged him by that present to assist him in bringing
y Eadmer, p. 35. W. Malms. p. 123. Newbr. p. 358. Gul. Gemet. p. 292.
W. Heming. p. 467.
back the youth to judaism. William employed both menaces and persuasion for that purpose; but finding the convert obstinate in his new faith, he sent for the father, and told him that as he had not succeeded, it was not just that he should keep the present; but as he had done his utmost, it was but equitable that he should be paid for his pains; and he would therefore retain only thirty marks of the money. At another time, it is said, he sent for some learned christian theologians and some rabbies, and bade them fairly dispute the question of their religion in his presence: he was perfectly indifferent between them; had his ears open to reason and conviction; and would embrace that doctrine which upon comparison should be found supported by the most solid arguments. If this story be true, it is probable that he meant only to amuse himself by turning both into ridicule: but we must be cautious of admitting every thing related by the monkish historians to the disadvantage of this prince: he had the misfortune to be engaged in quarrels with the ecclesiastics, particularly with Anselm, commonly called St. Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury; and it is no wonder his memory should be blackened by the historians of that order.
with Anselm, the
After the death of Lanfranc, the king for several years Quarrel retained in his own hands the revenues of Canterbury, as he did those of many other vacant bishoprics: but fall- primate. ing into a dangerous sickness, he was seized with remorse; and the clergy represented to him, that he was in danger of eternal perdition, if before his death he did not make atonement for those multiplied impieties and sacrileges of which he had been guilty. He resolved, therefore, to supply instantly the vacancy of Canterbury; and for that purpose he sent for Anselm, a Piedmontese by birth, abbot of Bec in Normandy, who was much celebrated for his learning and piety. The abbot earnestly refused the dignity, fell on his knees, wept, and entreated the king to change his purpose; and when he found the
1096. prince obstinate in forcing the pastoral staff upon him, he kept his fist so fast clenched, that it required the utmost violence of the bystanders to open it, and force him to receive that ensign of spiritual dignity. William soon after recovered; and his passions regaining their wonted vigour, he returned to his former violence and rapine. He detained in prison several persons whom he had ordered to be freed during the time of his penitence; he still preyed upon the ecclesiastical benefices; the sale of spiritual dignities continued as open as ever; and he kept possession of a considerable part of the revenues belonging to the see of Canterbury . But he found in Anselm that persevering opposition, which he had reason to expect from the ostentatious humility which that prelate had displayed in refusing his promotion.
The opposition made by Anselm was the more dangerous on account of the character of piety which he soon acquired in England by his great zeal against all abuses, particularly those in dress and ornament. There was a mode which, in that age, prevailed throughout Europe, both among men and women, to give an enormous length to their shoes, to draw the toe to a sharp point, and to affix to it the figure of a bird's bill, or some such ornament, which was turned upwards, and which was often sustained by gold or silver chains tied to the knee h. The ecclesiastics took exception at this ornament, which, they said, was an attempt to bely the scripture, where it is affirmed, that no man can add a cubit to his stature; and they declaimed against it with great vehemence, nay, assembled some synods, who absolutely condemned it. But, such are the strange contradictions in human nature! though the clergy, at that time, could overturn thrones, and had authority sufficient to send above a million of men on their errand to the deserts of Asia, they could never prevail against these long-pointed shoes: on the contrary, that caprice, contrary to all other modes, maintained its ground
f Eadmer, p. 18.