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sities. It could not therefore astonish any one in those days to see a personage who had not taken priest's orders—which was then the case with Becket
—at the head of an armed force; but it might very well surprise all Europe to hear that a man who five years before possessed nothing but an inferior dignity in the English church, was now able to maintain in the most sumptuous and ostentatious manner a force which no other leader in the realm of England could bring into the field.
Armed as a warrior, and with certainly the wisdom of the serpent, if not the harmlessness of the dove, the future saint followed his monarch at the head of seven hundred knights paid and entertained by himself. It is not to be supposed that the forces of the other vassals and adherents of Henry were at all in proportion to those of the Chancellor; but there can be no doubt that the army which the English king collected in Perigueux and Aquitaine, and which continued to assemble from the middle of Lent till the end of June, was fully sufficient to overthrow the whole power of the Count of Toulouse, had that prince remained unaided. The Count, however, appealed for assistance to Louis the Young; and adjured him by all the ties of kindred, as well as the principles of sound policy, to prevent a faithful vassal and near connexion from being overwhelmed by another vassal already more powerful than his sovereign. Louis was moved; and acting by impulse, as he generally did, he determined to succour the Count of Toulouse Policy pointed out the same line of conduct; but had policy at all weighed with the King of France in this matter, he would have interfered in favour of the Count sooner, and would have also interfered in a very different manner. As it was, Louis suffered Henry to commence his march, and then threw himself suddenly into Toulouse with a handful of men.
This event greatly disconcerted the King of England. There were many in his camp who urged him to attack Toulouse at once, and make the King of France a prisoner, as a just punishment for his inconsistency and breach of faith. But the English monarch listened to more cautious counsels: Louis was his sovereign as far as his continental territories were concerned; and though the vassal had an undoubted right to make war on his feudal lord when that lord injured him or opposed him in his just claims and pretensions, yet Henry, both a sovereign and a vassal, was inclined to give more weight to the deference due to sovereignty than to the extreme rights of a feudal tenant. He therefore determined not to attack the city of Toulouse itself; and contented himself with subduing a great part of the Count's territories.* The important town of Cahors was
* Few matters have been more strenuously contested than the question whether Henry did or did not besiege the city of Toulouse. Don Vaissette, writing as a Frenchman, labours hard
taken, and nearly the whole, if not the whole, of Quercy was subdued.
In the meantime, however, the King of France, whose presence had only been sufficient to deter
to prove that Henry did besiege the city, and finding he could not take it, made the presence of the King of France within the walls an excuse for retreating. That could be no excuse, however, if, as the historian himself shows, Louis was in Toulouse before Henry commenced the siege at all. He cites, however, strong authority to prove that there actually was a siege, namely, Galfridus of Vigeois and Hovedon, the latter of whom, certainly, has these explicit words : “ Eodem anno llenricus rex Angliæ, magno congregato exercitu, obsedit Tolosam et quamvis ibi diu sedisset.” I am disposed, however, to agree with Lord Lyttleton, in relying upon the host of authorities which are opposed to Hovedon. William of Newbury, Robert of Mount St. Michel, in the Norman Chronicle, Diceto and Brompton, all agree in using such terms as leave no doubt that they did not believe Henry had ever laid siege to that town; and Matthew Paris, copying Roger of Wendover, says distinctly that Henry only went towards Toulouse, capturing the cities in the neighbourhood. “ Sed Rex Anglorum ipsam civitatem non assiluit, ob reverentiam Regis Francorum.” It is true that not much faith is to be placed in the historians of Becket's life. I therefore do not rely here on Fitz-Stephen; but there is another writer whom Lord Lyttleton does not cite, and whom he probably had not read, but whose authority as a Frenchman, and belonging to an Abbey greatly favoured by Louis the Young, is of weight, though not absolutely contemporary. William of Nangis, a monk of St. Denis, who was probably born toward 1240, possessed every means of information; and he distinctly states that Henry advanced towards Toulouse; “but as the King of France, Louis, had entered it in order to defend it, the King Henry retired, not daring to besiege his Lord.”
Henry from capturing the capital of the county itself, had taken better means for protecting the territories of the Count of Toulouse, by creating a diversion in his favour, and causing an attack to be made on the frontiers of Normandy. The incursions in that quarter were carried on by the King's two brothers, Robert, the turbulent Count of Dreux, and the sanguinary Bishop of Beauvais. It is true that they effected but little, in a military point of view, though the ravages which they committed caused great suffering amongst the subjects of the English King. The reports from that part of his dominions, however, alarmed Henry; and after having detached the Count of Blois to attack the territories of the King of France in the neighbourhood of Orleans, he followed himself soon after with the main body of his army, leaving his bellicose Chancellor to pursue the war in the County of Toulouse. Nor did Becket carry it on ineffectively; he showed more energy than Henry himself had done, and in a wonderfully short space of time he had captured three fortresses, it is said by storm, each of which had been deemed impregnable; and with his own hand he overcame a French knight of great renown in single combat, bringing away his horse as a trophy.
Henry, in the meantime, had hastened back into Normandy, with a numerous force, although he lost a considerable number of distinguished noblemen by the way. Amongst others was William, the young Count of Boulogne, the only surviving legitimate son of Stephen, Henry's predecessor. Hamo, the son of the Earl of Gloucester, another cousin of the King, also ended his life in this expedition. Malcolm, King of Scotland, however, shared a better fate, and returning with some distinction in arms, received what he had so long coveted, the honour of knighthood* from the hand of the King of England.
Henry's force, together with the troops which he had left in Normandy, proved quite sufficient, not only to protect the province, but to carry the war into the enemy's country; and immediately entering the Beauvoisis, with the usual horrid barbarity not only of those but of much later times, he retaliated upon the unhappy people of that district, all the cruelties which had been committed by the Bishop of Beauvais in Normandy. An act of vengeance which probably might be more serviceable to himself, was effected in the capture and destruction of the strong town of Gerberoi, and several other lesser fortresses. Henry always obtained, however, far greater advantages by negociation than he gained by arms; and in the present instance, by a treaty with Simon de Mont
* Some say that the King of Scotland was knighted by Henry in a meadow near Perigueux; and such probably was the case, for the account of Geoffrey of Vigeois, a contemporary, and one who lived amidst the scenes he describes, confirms that statement. Hoveden, however, says it was at Tours.