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inscription, is all that bears witness that the unconquered conqueror, the Duke of the Normans and the King of England, the founder of St. Etienne, ever rested in that spot.
“Expende Hannibalem, quot libras in duce summo
Invenies ?” It is, however, to some consideration of the motives which led to the foundation of this celebrated abbey, and of the sister abbey, the Abbaye aux Dames, that we would invite the attention of our readers. The usually received opinion is, that it was a canonical penance imposed upon William and Matilda, for having contracted a marriage within the prohibited degrees. Such is the view taken by Dean Hook, in his Life of Lanfranc, who does not seem to be aware that the penance might have been imposed for a more serious cause, and therefore finds less difficulty in vindicating the consistency of Lanfranc, who first sternly denounced the marriage, and subsequently procured the Papal dispensation for it, than might otherwise have been the case. In this view many previous writers, such as Miss Strickland, who like him deal with the question superficially and touch upon it slightly, coincide. There is, however, another motive suggested for this penance, which deserves serious consideration. It is elaborately handled in a note occurring in the Appendix to Mr. Freeman's third volume of his History of the Norman Conquest, recently published. He tooand his opinions deserve respectful consideration-upon a review of the matter, inclines to the opinion of marriage within prohibited degrees, but, we cannot help thinking, on insufficient grounds.
The case, we conceive, stands thus. It seems to be ascertained beyond dispute that Matilda, previous to her marriage with William, was, or had been, the wife of another man-of one Gerbod ? the avoué of the celebrated Abbey of St. Bertin, at St. Omer. By him she had two children, Gerbod and Gundrada, who married Williain of Warren, Earl of Surrey, who was buried at Lewes.
A question arises, Was Matilda the divorced or separated wife of Gerbod? or was it because she was in some way related to William, that the Pope interfered to hinder the marriage ? Mr. Freeman admits that there is no small difficulty in making out what the nearness of kin between William and Matilda was; and we do not think that either of the two possible grounds of affinity which he suggests are clearly made out, or deserving of the consideration which, in the absence of any definite knowledge, he seems disposed to attach to them. The fact that Matilda's mother had been contracted (though never married) to William's uncle, would hardly have induced such pertinacious resistance upon the part of the Court of Rome; indeed, Mr. Freeman himself doubts whether it would have been an impedinent. Tbe other suggestion seems quite as fanciful.
Was then, as has been suggested by Mr. Stapleton, in the Archeological Journal for 1846, Matilda the wife of Gerbod. We think that she was. As Mr. Freeman observes, “It is remarkable that no hint is found in any contemporary writer, that Matilda had been married before ber marriage with Wil. liam;' but he accounts for it sufficiently when he says that “the English writers are silent through indifference; the Norman writers are silent through design.” It is, in our judgment, a very ominous and meaning silence, and we draw exactly the opposite conclusion from it to what Mr. Freeman does. William of Poitiers leaves out the fact that there was any opposition to the marriage at all! We feel that we may fairly ask, would such courtly chroniclers be disposed to say more than they could help upon so unpleasant a subject, as this eventually proved, not only to William and Matilda, but still more to the Church and her rulers ? Again, Mr. Freeman asks, if Matilda were the wife of another man, “would the Papal prohibition have taken the form it did take? Would Pope Leo and the Council of Rheims have simply forbidden Count Baldwin to give his daughter in marriage to William the Norman ?” We think it highly probable, and when the text of the prohibition is read with the context, are strongly impressed with this belief. It runs as follows-“He excommunicated also Counts Engelran and Eustache as guilty of incest, and Hugh de Brain for repudiating his lawful wife and marrying another. He also forbad Baldwin Count of Flanders to give his daughter in marriage to William the Norman, and him to marry her. He also summoned Count Tetbald for repudiating bis wife."*
It is quite clear what is the class of offences in which the question of William and Matilda is ranked. It is not among censures upon forbidden degrees, but among divorce cases. The council passed decrees censuring both kinds of offences. The actual guilt is not specified, because the parties had not yet violated the law, whereas the others had. It was a solemn and sufficient warning, and so far effectual that no marriage took place till the imprisonment of the Pope by the Normans four years afterwards. No Norman chronicler gives the date of the marriage; all, as Mr. Freeman says, “ slur it over." The date comes from the Chronicle of Tours. No record has come down of the name of prelate or priest who performed the ceremony; and
* Excommunicavit etiam comites filiam suam Willelmi Normanno nuptui Engelranum et Eustachium propter daret, et illi ne eam acceperit. Vocavit incestum, et Hugonem de Braine quia etiam comitem Tetbaldum quoniam legitimam uxorem dimiserat. Inter- suam dimiserat uxorem. dixit et Balduino comiti Flandrensi ne
whatever value may attach to the matter, no Papal Bull attests that the penance was enjoined for marrying within the degrees of kindred.
We ought to notice that Mr. Freeman is driven to strange shifts to get rid of Gerbod, and to make out Matilda to be a widow. Gerbod's signature is attached to charters in the Cartulary of St. Bertin, in 1026, 1056, and 1057. Mr. Freeman chooses to consider that the signatures are those of father and son; and, to explain how the latter, “considering how young he must have been,” could have had fierce disputes with the Abbey, surmises that the disputes were carried on by those who acted in his name; a solution of the difficulty more ingenious than satisfactory.
The conclusion at which we arrive, then, is that Mr. Stapleton is right in the view he takes. What may have been the first origin of William's choice of Matilda, we cannot tell; it may have been personal preference, or it may have been state policy. It does not seem unnatural to us that Baldwin, dazzled by the prospect of his daughter becoming Duchess of Normandy, and wife of so mighty a chieftain, should have forwarded William's views, and, in the general relaxation of morals which the Council of Rheims strove to remedy, have hoped for success. Others around were following the same course. Checked by the decree of the Council, it might seem not unreasonable for William to expect that terms could be extorted when the Pope was prisoner to the Normans. A sufficient reason is furnished for the obstinate resistance of the Court of Rome, and for the studied mystery which enshrouds the whole subject. All parties would be equally interested in burying the subject, if possible, in complete oblivion, and were well nigh successful. A yague statement, which might possibly have some shadow of foundation, was ventured to cloak actual delinquency, and to help to explain in a specious manner what would be in itself utterly indefensible.*
It was not, however, with any view of discussing, in the pages of the Christian Observer, a point of historical and antiquarian interest, that we have dwelt upon this subject. It was needful
Although constrained to differ most favourable light. William's early from Mr. Freeman in this particular years were probably his best years, but question of William's marriage, we our estimate of his moral qualities is feel it a pleasure to record the interest somewhat different from Mr. Freeand profit with which we have perused man's. His work will, however, when his "Norman Conquest.” It is a work completed, be a most valuable contriof most learned research; events are bution to our historical literature, and pourtrayed in a graphic style, and with even in its incomplete state will be manifest care and honesty. If we have found full of interest by all who can any quarrel with him, it is that in his take pleasure in reading a good book. Iliad he is too solicitous for his Hector We very heartily commend it to all and Achilles,-Harold and William,- those whom our remarks may reach. and too anxious to present them in the Vol. 68.-No. 383.
to discuss it at some length to render the question generally intelligible. We wish to consider it from a point of view more congenial to our pages. What, then, is the lesson impressed upon the mind by the contemplation of such an edifice as the Church of St. Etienne at Caen? It is quite possible to be so affected by the magnificence of the design, and the skill and cunning displayed by the Norman mason, as to lose sight of it altogether. When we see “what manner of stones” are here piled up, and behold them ostensibly devoted to the service of God, it is not easy to do otherwise than to rejoice at the consecration of so much skill and labour and wealth to the highest and holiest of ends. Nay, if the end could sanctify the means, it would be impossible for anyone of cultivated intellect, and difficult even for the rudest, not to “dissolve into ecstacies” in the presence of so much calculated to stir up feelings of reverence and awe. But it is emphatically in the presence of such a spectacle that a Christian, taught out of the word of God, feels with the utmost intensity how soul-destroying were the delusions which reared the columns and arches upon which the eye rests with so much delight. Even Roman apologists feel some difficulty when compelled, however reluctantly, to discuss “the foundation of pious establishments with the profit of iniquity," and exert all their subtilty to explain the advantage which results from erecting monuments which attest repentance after history has forgotten the faults of the founders. But do they attest repentance? Is the Abbaye aux Hommes a witness throughout all generations to the repentance of William, or the Abbaye aux Dames to that of Matilda ? Nay, are they not an attestation to crimes unforsaken, and, so far as man can judge, unrepented of? Very solemn is the malediction fulminated in the word of God upon him who removeth his neighbour's landmark. Does it affect the solemn woe denounced, that it was to build a glorious church that the homes of the citizens of Caen were swept away? Is there the slightest trace on record that William ever felt remorse upon the subject, or that Lanfranc, who was the active instrument in this forcible removal, ever as a minister of God appealed to the conscience of the master whom he so unscrupulously served, and warned him of the evil? By the side of William's grave,
“ One deep voice there arose
From a heart which wrongs had riven;
That were but heard in Heaven ?”. “ He had coveted the man's field, and taken it away by violence ; his house he had taken away : he had oppressed the man and his house, even the man and his heritage.” To this fact for eight hundred years the Church of St. Etienne bears witness; and so long as one stone remains upon another, there
will be attestation borne to a crime unrepented of, unforsaken, unatoned for, by those who were guilty of committing it.
But even as the ground cries out against the robber and oppressor, so do the stones out of the wall and the beams out of the timber answer, For what were these stately piles built ? Again we reply, to commemorate fresh sin unrepented of, unforsaken, and, in our judgment, unatoned for. If we accept the ordinary version of the story, William and Matilda were guilty of forming what, in the judgment of priests, and archbishops, and popes, was an incestuous connection; they did so advisedly and deliberately, in the teeth of the Pope's solemn interdict. They neither forsook this connection, nor repented of it. We can hardly maintain that the maxim holds good in morals, as it is said to hold good in law, “Factum valet quod fieri non debuit.” If it ever was a sin which needed stern and persevering Papal prohibition,-and such to conscientious Romanists it must have been,-such it continued. The alternative would be that it was a fanciful and meddlesome interference with Christian liberty, devised by man, and therefore within his jurisdiction to yield, if sufficiently bribed, or for politic reasons moved so to do. But if we accept what we deem to be the more truthful version of the matter, and recognize in Matilda the separated wife of Gerbod, the avoué of St. Bertin, we transfer the case to a higher court and to a holier tribunal. We behold in William not only him who spoiled Fitz Asselin of his inheritance, but one who, in defiance of the solemn warning of Pope and Council, deprived his neighbour of his wife, and broke one of God's most solemn and express commandments ; in Matilda, one “who, being married to another man, while her husband lived shall be called an adulteress.” It was, moreover, no sin lightly entertained under circumstances of strong temptation, and repented of; but indulged and persisted in deliberately in defiance of the strenuous opposition of successive Popes. The Archbishop of Rouen was deposed from his high office for protesting against it. It was denounced unsparingly by Lanfranc, till his subtle Italian wit came to his rescue, and converted the censor into the advocate. In the Romish Church, marriage is a sacrament, and adultery is reckoned, as it ought to be, a sin. It is significant that in death husband and wife were separated, though buried in the same city, as we believe they should have been while living, had Rome been consistently faithful to the trust which she arrogated : “in their death they were divided.”
We are, then, when standing in the Abbaye aux Hommes, forcibly reminded of one of the most soul-destroying and deadly delusions which the Romish system fosters. “Iniquities sepa. rate between man and God, and sins hide His face from us that He will not hear.” For such sin and for such iniquity, in the