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and Evreux, Hugh de Montfort, and other associates, began to raise insurrections there, which were thought to be privately fomented by the French king, out of enmity to King Henry, and in favour of William the son of Robert, to whom the Earl of Anjou had lately given his daughter in marriage. But II24. William of Tankerville, the king's lieutenant in Normandy, surprising the enemy's forces by an ambush, entirely routed them, took both the earls prisoners, and sent one of them (Meulant) to his master; but the Count d'Evreux made his escape.
1126. King Henry having now lost hope of issue by his new queen, brought with him, on his return to England, his daughter Maude; who, by the emperor's death, had been lately left a widow and childless; and in a parliament or general assembly which he had summoned at Windsor, he caused the crown to be settled on her and her issue, and made all his nobles take a solemn oath to defend her title. This was performed by none with so much forwardness as Stephen, Earl of Boulogne, who was observed to shew a more than ordinary zeal in the matter. This young lord was the king's nephew, being second son of the Earl of Blois by Adela, the Conqueror's daughter: he was in high favour with the king his uncle, who had married him to the daughter and heiress of the Earl of Boulogne, given him great possessions in England, and made him indeed too powerful for a subject.
The king having thus fixed the succession of the crown in his daughter by an act of settlement and an oath of fealty, looked about to provide her with a second husband, and at length determined his choice in Geoffry Plantagenet, Earl of Anjou, the son of Fulk, lately deceased.
This prince, whose dominions confined on France and Normandy, was usually courted for an ally by
both kings in their several quarrels; but having little faith or honour, he never scrupled to change sides as often as he saw or conceived it for his advantage. After the great victory over the French, he closed in with King Henry, and gave his daughter to the young prince William; yet at the same time, by the private encouragement of Lewis, he prevailed on the King of England to be easy in the conditions of a peace. Upon the unfortunate loss of the prince, and the troubles in Normandy thereupon, he fell again from the king, gave his other daughter to William the son of Robert, and stuck up with France to take that prince again into protection. But dying soon after, and leaving his son Geoffry to succeed in that earldom, the king was of opinion he could not anywhere bestow his daughter with more advantage, both for the security and enlargement of his dominions, than by giving her to this earl; by which marriage Anjou would become an acquisition to Normandy, and thus be a more equal match to so formidable a neighbour as France. In a short time the marriage was concluded; and this Earl Geoffry had the honour to introduce into the royal family of England the surname of Plantagenet, borne by so many succeeding kings, which began with Henry II., who was the eldest son of this marriage.
But the King of France was in great discontent at this match: he easily foresaw the dismal consequences to himself and his successors, from such an increase of dominion united to the crown of England: he knew what impressions might be made in future times to the shaking of his throne by an aspiring and warlike king, if they should happen in a weak reign, or upon any great discontents in that kingdom. Which conjectures being highly reasonable, (and since often verified by events,) he cast about to find some way of driving the King of England entirely
out of France; but having neither pretext nor stomach in the midst of a peace to begin an open and formal quarrel, there fell out an accident which gave him plausible occasion of pursuing his designs.
Charles the Good, Earl of Flanders, having been lately murdered by some of his subjects, upon private revenge, the King of France went in person to take revenge of the assassins; which he performed with great justice and honour. But the late earl leaving no heir of his body, and several competitors appearing to dispute the succession, Lewis rejected some others who seemed to have a fairer title, and adjudged it to William, the son of Robert, the better to secure him to his interests upon any design he might engage in against the King of England. Not content with this, he assisted the earl in person, subdued his rivals, and left him in peacable possession of his new dominion.
King Henry, on the other side, was very apprehensive of his nephew's greatness, well knowing to what end it was directed; however, he seemed not to regard it, contenting himself to give the Earl employment at home by privately nourishing the discontents of his new subjects, and abetting underhand another pretender; for William had so entirely lost the hearts of his people, by his intolerable avarice and exactions, that the principal towns in Flanders revolted from him, and invited Thierrie, Earl of Alsace, to be their governor. But the King of France generously resolved to appear once more in his defence, and took his third expedition into Flanders for that purpose. He had marched as far as Artois, when he was suddenly recalled to defend his own dominions from the fury of a powerful and provoked invader: for Henry, King of England, moved with indignation to see the French king, in the midst of a peace, so frequently and openly sup
porting his most dangerous enemy, thought it the best way to divert Lewis from kindling a fire against him abroad, by forcing him to extinguish one at home: he therefore entered into the bowels of France, ravaging and laying waste all before him: and quickly grew so formidable, that the French king, to purchase a peace, was forced to promise never more to assist or favour the Earl of Flanders : however, as it fell out, this article proved to be wholly needless; for the young earl soon after gave battle to Thierrie, and put his whole army to the rout; but pursuing his victory, he received a wound in his wrist, which, by the unskilfulness of a surgeon, cost him his life.
This one slight inconsiderable accident did, in all probability, put a stop to very great events; for, if that young prince had survived his victory, it is hardly to be doubted but through the justness of his cause, the reputation of his valour, and the assistance of the King of France, he would in a little time have recovered Normandy, and perhaps his father's liberty, which were the two designs he had in agitation; nor could he well have missed the crown of England after the King's death, who was now in his decline, when he had so fair a title, and no competitor in view but a woman and an infant.
1129. Upon the king's return from Normandy, a great council of the clergy was held at London, for the punishing of priests who lived in concubinage, which was the great grievance of the church in those ages, and had been condemned by several canons. This assembly, thinking to take a more effectual course against that abomination, as it was called, decreed severe penalties upon those who should be guilty of breaking it, entreating the king to see the law put in execution; which he very readily undertook, but performed otherwise than was expected,
eluding the force of the law by an evasion to his own advantage; for, exacting fines of the delinquent priests, he suffered them to keep their concubines without farther disturbance; a very unaccountable step in so wise a body for their own concernments, as the clergy of those times is looked upon to have been; and although perhaps the fact be not worth recording, it may serve as a lesson to all assemblies, never to trust the execution of a law in the hands of those who will find it more to their interests to see it broken than observed.
1132. The Empress Maude was now happily delivered of a son, who was afterward King of England, by the name of Henry the Second; and the king calling a parliament, had the oath of fealty repeated by the nobles and clergy to her and her issue; which, in the compass of three years, they all broke or forgot.
1134. I think it may deserve a place in this history to mention the last scene of Duke Robert's life; who, either through the poorness or greatness of spirit, having outlived the loss of his honour, his dominions, his liberty, his eyesight, and his only son, was at last forced to sink under the load of eighty years, and must be allowed for the greatest example either of insensibility, or contempt of earthly things, that ever appeared in a sovereign, or private person. He was a prince hardly equalled by any in his time for valour, conduct, and courtesy: but his ruin began from the easiness of his nature, which whoever knew how to manage, were sure to be refused nothing they could ask. By such profusion he was reduced to those unhappy expedients of remitting his rights for a pension, of pawning his towns, and multiplying taxes, which brought him into hatred and contempt with his subjects; neither do I think any virtue so little commendable in a