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be good enough to a prince of an undisputed title, and entirely in the hearts of his subjects: but numerous castles are ill defenders of an usurpation, being the common retreat of malcontents, where they can fly with security, and discover their affections as they please; by which means the enemy, although beaten in the field, may still preserve his footing in the bowels of a country; may wait supplies from abroad, and prolong a war for many years: nor, while he is master of any castles, can he ever be at mercy by any sudden misfortune; but may be always in a condition of demanding terms for himself. These, and many other effects of so pernicious a counsel, the king found through the whole course of his reign; which was entirely spent in sieges, revolts, surprises, and surrenders, with very few battles, but no decisive action: a period of much misery and confusion, which affords little that is memorable for events, or useful for the instruction of posterity.

1136. The first considerable enemy that appeared against him was David, King of Scots; who having taken the oath of fealty to Maude and her issue, being farther engaged by the ties of blood, and stirred up through the persuasions of several English nobles, began to take up arms in her cause; and invading the northern parts, took Carlisle and Newcastle; but upon the king's speedy approach with his forces, a peace was presently made, and the towns restored. However, the Scottish prince would by no means renounce his fidelity to the empress, by paying homage to Stephen; so that an expedient was found to have it performed by his eldest son: in consideration of which, the king gave, or rather restored to him, the Earldom of Huntington.

Upon his return to London from this expedition, he happened to fall sick of a lethargy, and it was confidently given out that he was dead. This re

port was, with great industry and artifice, dispersed by his enemies; which quickly discovered the ill inclination of several lords; who, although they never believed the thing, yet made use of it for an occasion or pretext to fortify their castles, which they refused to surrender to the king himself; but Stephen was resolved, as he said, to convince them that he was alive and well; for, coming against them before he was expected, he recovered Exeter, Norwich, and other fortified places, although not without much difficulty.

It is obvious enough to wonder how a prince of so much valour, and other excellent endowments, elected by the church and state, after a compliance with all conditions they could impose on him, and in an age when so little regard was had to the lineal descent, lastly confirmed by the Pope himself, should be soon deserted and opposed by those very persons who had been the most instrumental to promote him. But, beside his defective title, and the undistinguished liberty of building castles, there were three circumstances which very much contributed to those perpetual revolts of the nobles against him: first, that upon his coming to the crown he was very liberal in distributing lands and honours to several young gentlemen of noble birth, who came to make their court, whereby he hoped to get the reputation of a generous prince, and to strengthen his party against the empress but by this encouragement, the number of pretenders quickly grew too fast upon him; and when he had granted all he was able, he was forced to dismiss the rest with promises and excuses; who, either out of envy or discontent, or else to mend their fortunes, never failed to become his enemies upon the first occasion that offered. Secondly, when he had reduced several castles and towns which had given the first example of defection

from him, he hardly inflicted the least punishment on the authors; which unseasonable mercy, that in another prince, and another age, would have been called greatness of spirit, passed in him for pusillanimity and fear, and is reckoned, by the writers of those times, to have been the cause of many succeeding revolts. The third circumstance was of a different kind: for, observing how little good effect he had found by his liberality and indulgence, he would needs try the other extreme, which was not his talent. He began to infringe the articles of his charter; to recall or disown the promises he had made; and to repulse petitioners with rough treatment; which was the more unacceptable, by being new and unexpected.

1137. Meantime, the Earl of Anjou, who was not in a condition to assert his wife's title to England, hearing Stephen was employed at home, entered Normandy with small force, and found it no difficult matter to seize several towns. The Normans, in the present distraction of affairs, not well knowing what prince to obey, at last sent an invitation to Theobald, Earl of Blois, King Stephen's eldest brother, to accept their dukedom, upon the condition. of protecting them from the present insults of the Earl of Anjou. But, before this matter could come to an issue, Stephen, who, upon reduction of the towns already mentioned, had found a short interval of quiet from his English subjects, arrived with unexpected speed in Normandy; where Geoffry of Anjou soon fled before him, and the whole duchy came over to his obedience; for the farther settlement whereof, he made peace with the King of France; constituted his son Eustace, Duke of Normandy, and made him swear fealty to that prince, and do him homage. His brother Theobald, who began to expostulate upon this disappointment, he



pacified with a pension of two thousand marks :* and even the Earl of Anjou himself, who, in right of his wife, made demands of Stephen for the kingdom of England, finding he was no equal match at present, was persuaded to become his pensioner for five thousand more.t

Stephen, upon his return to England, met with an account of new troubles from the north; for the King of Scots, under pretence of observing his oath of fealty to the empress, infested the Borders, and frequently making cruel inroads, plundered and laid waste all before him.

1138. In order to revenge this base and perfidious treatment, the king, in his march northward, sat down before Bedford, and took it, after a siege of twenty days. This town was part of the Earldom of Huntington, given by Stephen in the late peace to the eldest son of the Scottish king, for which the young prince did homage to him; and it was, upon that account, defended by a garrison of Scots. Upon intelligence of this surrender, King David, overcome with fury, entered Northumberland, where, letting loose the rage of his soldiers, he permitted and encouraged them to commit all manner of inhumanities, which they performed in so execrable a manner as would scarce be credible, if it were not attested by almost the universal consent of writers: they ripped up women with child, drew out the infants, and tossed them upon the points of their lances; they murdered priests before the altars; then cutting the heads from off the crucifixes, in their stead put

* The mark of Normandy is to be understood here. Such a pension in that age was equivalent to one of £31,000 sterling in the present.-D. S.

Five thousand marks of silver coin was, in this reign, of the same value as the sum of £77,500 modern currency, is now. Here again the Normanic mark seems to be used.-D. S.

on the heads of those they had murdered; with many other instances of monstrous barbarity, too foul to relate but cruelty being usually attended with cowardice, this perfidious prince, upon the approach of King Stephen, fled into places of security. The King of England, finding no enemy on whom to employ his revenge, marched forward into the country, destroying with fire and sword all the southern parts; and would in all probability have made terrible impressions into the heart of Scotland, if he had not been suddenly recalled by a more dangerous fire at home, which had been kindled in his absence, and was now broken out into a flame.

Robert, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of the late king, came into England some time after the advancement of Stephen to the crown; and, yielding to the necessity of the time, took the oath of fealty upon the same condition used by the other nobles, to be of force so long as the king should keep his faith with him, and preserve his dignity inviolate: but, being in his heart wholly devoted to the interests of the empress his sister, and moved by the persuasions of several religious men, he had, with great secrecy and application, so far practised upon the levity or discontent of several lords, as to gain them to his party : for the king had of late very much alienated the nobles against him; first, by seizing several of their persons and dispossessing them of their lands; and, secondly, by taking into his favour William d'Ypres, a Flemish commander, of noble birth, but banished by his prince. This man, with many of his followers, the king employed chiefly, both in his councils and his armies, and made him Earl of Kent, to the great envy and displeasure of his English subjects. The Earl of Gloucester, therefore, and his accomplices, having prepared all things necessary for an insurrection, it was agreed among them, that while the king

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