Page 1275

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

and mockery.

Not long could the Saxon blood be expected

to brook the contumely of a haughty master.