Page 1358

1358 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

he was brooding over his crime that the news

was borne to the West of the fall of Edessa,

and the project of warding off the vengeance

of heaven by undertaking a Crusade was at

once suggested to Louis's mind as a means of

expiation. An assembly of barons and bishops

was called, and the wish of the king to undertake a campaign against the Infidels of Asia

was presented for discussion. The measure

was received with much favor, and the Pope,

on being consulted, gave his approval of the

enterprise.

In the mean time, the Empress Matilda,

the childless widow of Henry V of Germany, had been given by her father, Henry of England, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, son of

that Prince Foulque who, by his marriage

with the queen-regent of Jerusalem, was acting so large a part in the Christian kingdom

of Palestine. It was a project of the English

king (for he now had no sons) to establish

the succession to his daughter, with Geoffrey

for Prince Consort. Very averse, however,

to such a project were the barons and squires

of England, who preferred a man for their

ruler. For this reason they took sides with

the Prince Stephen, son of Adela, daughter of

the Conqueror, and vigorously supported his

claims against those of Matilda. In the year

1127 the English king went abroad and

resided with his daughter, the Empress

Matilda, whose three sons by Plantagenet

cheered their grandfather with the prospect

of the future. In 1135, Henry died at

St. Denis, but was brought home to England

for burial.

Events soon showed that the precautions

taken by the late king, respecting the succession, were of no avail. His nephew,

Stephen, upon whom he had bestowed many

favors, including a large estate in Normandy,

immediately appeared on the scene to dispute the claims of Matilda. Every thing

went in his favor, and he was crowned in

Westminster, in 1135. Before the friends

and supporters of the wife of Plantagenet

were well aware of the usurper's proceedings,

the whole affair was successfully concluded;

and Stephen found time to fortify himself in popular esteem. So when David, king of

Scotland, took up arms against him, the

English monarch was able to meet him on

equal terms; and David was induced, by

the cession of a part of the four northern

counties of England, to desist from hostilities. The Earl of Gloucester, a natural

son of the late King Henry, was disposed to

fight for the rights of his father's family; but

the other barons of the realm refused to join

the enterprise, and the earl was obliged to

submit.

It soon happened, however, that the severity of Stephen towards his nobles disturbed their loyalty; and after the manner

of the men of their age, they went over to

the opposition. Hostilities broke out between

the rival parties, but the war was conducted

in the desultory and indecisive manner peculiar

to the feudal times. It was not until February of 1141 that the Earl of Gloucester,

who commanded the army of Matilda, succeeded in bringing his enemy to battle, before

the town of Lincoln. Here a terrible conflict

ensued, in which King Stephen was defeated, captured, and imprisoned in the castle

of Bristol. Matilda entered London in

triumph and was acknowledged as queen.

Before her coronation, however, she behaved in so imperious a manner towards

the people of the city as to alienate the affections even of her best supporters. Within a

month she was obliged to fly to Winchester

for safety. From this place she was quickly

driven to Devizes, and the Earl of Gloucester, in attempting to follow her thither,

was in his turn captured and shut up in the

castle of Rochester.

The rival parties were now in a position to

exchange their noble prisoners. The Earl of

Gloucester was given up for Stephen. The

former immediately repaired for Normandy

to bring over Matilda's eldest son, the Prince

Henry Plantagenet,^ to whom the people already began to look for a solution of their