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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Was much strengthened by the accession of the Plantagenets

had become, though not without

appeal to the sword, which his father wielded powerfully on his behalf, master of Normandy, and had then married Eleanor of Poitou, who brought him a great part of South France: he then succeeded more by fair means than by force in establishing his right to the throne of England. Henry was the first to establish in France the power of the great vassals, by which the crown was long in danger of being overthrown. The Kings of Castille and Navarre submitted to his arbitration. And under a sovereign whose grandfather had been King of Jerusalem, and one of the mightiest rulers of that Western kingdom established in the East, the tendencies, which had led so far, could not fail to extend themselves to the utmost in all their spheres of action? The hierarchic and chivalrous spirit of Continental Europe, which under the Normans had seized on England, was much strengthened by the accession of the Plantagenets. It thus came to pass that after the disastrous loss of Jerusalem, the knights of Anjou and of Guienne, from Brittany (for Henry had added this province also to his family possessions) and from Normandy, gathered together in London, and took the Cross in company with the English. England formed a part of the Plantagenet Empire--if we may apply this word to so anomalous a state--and contributed to its extension, even though no interest of its own was involved. But towards such a result the relations which this alliance established between England and Southern Europe had long tended.
Not seldom was the military power of the provinces over the sea employed for enterprises that aimed at the direct advantage of England itself. Whether and when the German element without this influence would have become master of the British group of islands none could say. The English dominion over Ireland in particular is derived from Henry II, and his alliance at that time with the Papacy; he crossed thither under the Pope's authorisation: at the Pope's word the native kings did homage to him as their lord.[21] And the foreign-born Plantagenets struck living root in England itself. As Henry II's mother was the daughter of a princess descended from the West-Saxon house, he was hailed by the natives as their lawfully-descended King; in accordance with Edward the Confessor's prophecy, that from the severed bough should spring up a new tree: they traced his descent without scruple back to Wodan. This King, moreover, has impressed his mark deeply on English life; to this day justice is administered in England under forms established by him.

The will of destiny cannot be gainsaid. Just as Germany without its connexion with Italy, so England without its connexion with France, would never have been what it is. More than all, the great commonwealth of the western nations, whose life pervades and determines the history of each separate state, would never have come into existence. But on this ground first, amidst continual warfare, was gradually accomplished the formation of the nationalities.


[7] Se in omnibus eorum voluntati consensurum, consiliis acquieturum.

[8] Florentius Wigorniensis: 'Post cujus (Aethelredi) mortem episcopi abbates duces et quique nobiliores Angliae, in unum congregati pari consensu in dominum et regem Canutum sibi elegere--ille juravit, quod et secundum deum et secundum seculum fidelis eis esse vellet dominus.' The oath which Ethelred had taken was, however, only 'secundum deum.'

[9] Florentius, 593: 'Accepto pignore de manu sua nuda cum juramentis a principibus Danorum, fratres et filios Eadmundi omnino despexerunt eosque esse reges negaverunt.'

[10] In Ingulphus (Savile Script. 511) it is said expressly: per Archiepiscopum Eboracae, Aedredum (Aldredum). But it is surprising that the Bayeux Tapestry expressly names Stigand (Lancelot: Description de Tapisserie de Bayeux, in Thierry, I). Yet Harold could not possibly have meant, by passing over the Archbishop of Canterbury, to declare him to be incompetent, since he had been appointed by his party.

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