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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

In the princely fiefs of the French Crown


It

was not this time a pressing necessity that brought it about; but we cannot deny that, if carried through, it opened out an immeasurable prospect.

For such would have been the case, if the attempt to found a Germanic Anglo-Saxon kingdom under Harold, and maintain it free from any preponderating foreign influence had been successful. By recalling Edgar the influence of Normandy, against which the antipathies of the nation had been awakened under the last government, would have been renewed. But just as little were those claims to be recognised which the Northern kings put forward for the re-establishment of their supremacy. Even as regards the Papacy, the government began to adopt an independent line of conduct.

The question now was, whether the Anglo-Saxon nation would be unanimous and strong enough to maintain such a haughty position on all sides.

The first attack came from the North; it was all the more dangerous, from the fact that an ambitious brother of the new King supported it: only by an extreme effort were these enemies repelled. But, at the same moment, an attack was threatened from another enemy of infinitely greater importance--Duke William of Normandy. It was not only this sovereign, and his land, but a new phase of development in the history of the world, with which England now entered into conflict.

_The Conquest._

justify;">Out of the antagonism of nationalities, of the Empire and the Church, of the overlord and the great chiefs, in the midst of invasions of foreign peoples and armies, the local resistance to them and their occupations of territory, a new world had, as it were, been forming itself in Southern Europe, and especially in Gaul. Still more decidedly than in England had the invading Vikings in France attached themselves to the national element, even in the second generation they had given up their language; they discovered at the same time a form which reconciled the membership in the kingdom, and the recognition of the common faith, with provincial freedom. In France no native power successfully opposed and checked the advancing Normans, such as that which the Danes had encountered in England. On the contrary they exercised the greatest influence over the foundation of a new dynasty. A system developed itself over the whole realm, in which, both in the provincial authorities and in the lower degrees of rank, the possession of land and share in public office, feudalism and freedom, interpenetrated each other, and made a common-weal which yet harmonised with all the inclinations that lend charm and colouring to individual life. The old migratory impulse and spirit of warlike enterprise set before itself religious aims also, which lent it a higher sanction; war for the Church, and conquest (which meant for each man a personal occupation of land) were combined in one. Starting from Normandy, where great warlike families were formed that found no occupation at home (for these young populations are wont to multiply quickest), North French love of war and habits of war transplanted themselves to Spain and to Italy. How must it have elevated their spirit of enterprise when in the latter country the Papacy, which had just thrown off the supremacy of the emperor, and entered on a new stage in the development of its power, made common cause with their arms, and a practised Norman warrior, Robert Guiscard, appeared as Duke of Apulia and Calabria 'by grace of God and of S. Peter and, under his protection, of Sicily also in time to come'![11] The Pope gave him lands in fief, which had hitherto belonged to the Greek Empire, and which the Germans had been unable to conquer; he promised, in return, to defend the prerogatives of S. Peter. Between the hierarchy which was striving to perfect its supremacy, and the warlike chivalry of the 11th century, an alliance was formed like that once concluded with the leaders of the Frankish host. The ideas were already stirring from which proceeded the Crusades, the foundation of the Spanish kingdoms, and the creation of the Latin Empire at Constantinople. In the princely fiefs of the French Crown, and above all in Normandy, they seized on men's minds. Chivalrous life and hierarchic institutions, dialectic and poetry, continual war at home and ceaseless aspirations abroad, were here fused into a living whole.


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