The Principles of English Constitutional History

Cover of book The Principles of English Constitutional History
Categories: Nonfiction

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detestable to the nation that the chronicler who records his defeat puts a veritable song of triumph into the mouths of the native English. Such disturbers of the peace were indeed better out of the way, for after ten or twelve years' interval Henry's foreign difficulties began to spring up again in his path. Robert of Normandy had left at his death a young son behind him : as this boy grew to maturity there were barons ready to support hire, as they would have supported any one ; and the King of France showed that anxious care for the rights of outcast heirs by which it became common for his successors to be inspired whenever there was a disputed title in the English dominion. And while Henry thus contended with the difficulties of rival claims on Normandy, he was struck by that terrible blow which, as he knew, must create the same difficulties or worse in England. His only son William was drowned in the Channel shipwreck of 1120, a calamity to which, humanly speaking, England owed the nineteen years of anarchy under Stephen. A family such as those with which our modern sovereigns are blessed must indeed have been the boon for which, in these times of danger and blood, Henry chiefly prayed; but it was denied him. His daughter Matilda, married to Geoffrey Count of Anjou, was the mother of a boy; but women and children are ill fitted to grasp at crowns with the firmness which was necessary to a. twelfth-century heir. The king did all he could for them. He exacted oaths of loyalty to Matilda from the heads of the chief families both in England and Normandy; he enlisted firmly on her side his illegitimate son, Earl Robert of Gloucester ; and he continued his work of annihilating, when rebellion gave him an opportunity, the most dangerous elements of society. Attempt...

The Principles of English Constitutional History
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