1275 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL ENGLAND.
shoulders, florid face, and uncut flaxen hair,
compared with the elegant limbs, graceful
dignity, and condescending smile of the gay
and polished knight of Rouen? Even the
widows of valiant Saxon thanes, who had
fallen on the field of Hastings, proved to
be not over difficult to win by the splendid
foreigners. Love fanned by admiration prevailed
over patriotism fanned by memory.
The Conquest of England was, as yet, by no
means completed. All the
West lay unsubdued. In
the southeastern part of
the island the conquerors
had firmly established
themselves in the country.
In the spring of 1067
King William went over.
to Normandy, leaving his
half-brother Odo as regent
during his absence. It has
been conjectured by Hume
that the motive of the
Conqueror in going abroad
at this juncture was found
in the belief that as soon
as his absence was known
the Saxons would break
into revolt, and thus furnish him a valid excuse
for completing the subjugation of the Island and
confiscating the estates of
the Thanes. For he was
greatly harassed by the
Norman nobles to supply
them with lands and titles,
as he had promised at the
beginning of the Conquest.
The character of Odo, who
was arbitrary, impolitic, and
reckless, moreover conduced to the result
which William anticipated.
At Rouen the victorious king was received with great 6clat. To his friends at
home he distributed many rich presents,
and gave a glowing account of the country which he had subdued. Nor did he hesitate to exhibit to the people and the foreign ambassadors at his court living specimens of the race that had yielded to his
arms; for as a precautionary measure he
had taken with him on his return a number of
the Saxon thanes.
Meanwhile affairs in England were rapidly
approaching a crisis. The tyranny of Odo
and his counselors began to press heavily upon
the subject race. Their rapacity sought
gratification in pillage and robbery. Not
only the peasants, but people of the highest
rank, were made the victims of outrage
and spoliation. In vain did they cry out
for justice and revenge upon the noble brigands who had ruined their homes. The complaints of the sufferers were met with insult
Not long could the Saxon blood be expected
to brook the contumely of a haughty master.