Page 1274

1274 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

in accordance with his coronation oath

that he would treat the English people as

well as the best of their native kings had

done, began the administration of the government with as much mildness as the age

was fitted to receive. It can not be doubted

that the English thanes and great earls,

who made their submission to the king,

gained from his hands a generous consideration. To them were confirmed their estates

and honors, and the work of confiscation

began only with those who were rebellious or

disloyal. The domains of Harold and his

brother, as well as those of less distinguished

leaders and chiefs, were seized by William

and conferred on his Norman nobles. Though

these acts might well be defended as strictly

in accordance with the usages of war and

conquest, they failed not to sow the seeds

of bitterness and revenge, which for centuries together grew rank and poisonous in the

soil of England.

Prominent among those Saxons who received the favor of William was the royal

cipher, Edgar Atheling. Without the ability

to accomplish serious harm in the state, this

nominal prince of the old regime was still regarded with affection by the adherents of the

lost cause. For this reason rather than on

account of personal esteem, he was reconfirmed by the king in the earldom of Oxford,

which had been conferred on him at the accession of Harold.

In furtherance of his policy William

presently set forth from Barking to visit

the various districts of the kingdom. His

progress was half-civil, half-military, and

wholly royal. For he would fain impress the

English with a new idea of kingly pomp and

greatness. At every place he failed not, as

far as practicable, to display a generous condescension. In all of his intercourse he took

care, by a prudent restraint of temper and

courteous demeanor towards the Saxon

Thanes, to conciliate their esteem and favor.

In his edicts he carefully regarded the old

Anglo-Saxon laws, and in the administration

of justice did not unduly incline to the interests of his own countrymen. In some instances he even went beyond the letter of

his promise, and showed a positive favor

to the native interests and institutions of the

Island. He enlarged the privileges of the

corporation of London, and made himself the patron of English commerce and

agriculture.

While in this conciliatory way the Conqueror diligently sought to gain the trust

and even the affection of his Saxon subjects,

he at the same time took every care to fortify

his power with bulwarks and defenses. Now

it was that those wonderful feudal towers

and castles, which still survive in moss grown

majesty, rose, as if by magic, as the impregnable fortresses of Norman domination.

On every side the Saxon thanes and peasants

beheld arising these huge structures of stone,

and sighed with vain regrets or mutterings of

revenge at this everlasting menace to the

old liberties and institutions of the Teutonic

race.

The Normans also understood the situation. They appreciated the necessity of

laying deep and strong the immovable buttresses of their dominion. Well they knew

the vigor, the fecundity, and warlike valor

of the Anglo-Saxon people. Well did they

forecast the impending struggle of the races,

and wisely did they prepare for the maintenance of the power which they had gained

and established by conquest.

One of the greatest difficulties which

King William had to meet and overcome was

found in the rapacity of his followers. The

great host of Norman lords and bishops

who had followed him from the continent

constantly clamored for the spoils of the

kingdom. The foreign ecclesiastics were

even more greedy than the secular lords,

and could hardly be restrained from the

instantaneous seizure of the cathedrals and

abbeys of England. Many of the hardships

under which the Saxons were presently

made to groan must be traced to the insatiable demands of William's followers, rather

than to the personal wishes of the king to

inflict injuries on his Saxon subjects. Even

from the first year of the Conquest the suppressed rebellion in the heart of native England was sprinkled with vitriol by another

circumstance in the conduct of their oppressors. The Norman lords began to woo and win

the women of the Saxon thanes. The rich

clothing, burnished armor, and gaudy equipage of the courtly foreign lords flashed in the

eyes of the English maidens with a dazzling

brightness. What should be the brawn and

sinews of the native boor, with his broad