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Upon the return of Godwin, the Normans, bishops and nobles, fled away for their very lives. The queen was removed from the cloister to the court: and the voice of the Saxon earl, outspoken and free, was heard once more in the council chamber that had oft-times echoed with his wit and eloquence, but which of late had resounded with the wily tones of the plotting Norman prelate, Robert of Canterbury. Thus Godwin and Harold rid the country from foreign influence for the second time.
The end of the mighty earl was at hand. At Eastertide of 1053, on the second day of the feast, he sat with his sons Harold and Tosti at the king's table in the royal town of Winchester, when at once he sank down speechless by his footstool. He was carried into the king's chamber, as they thought his illness would soon pass away. But he continued speechless and powerless* for three days, and then he “resigned his
Such is the simple and touching account given by the Saxon writers of the death of Godwin. But the Norman writers would have us believe that his death was the visitation of God on the murder of the Atheling Alfred. The king's cupbearer made a false step, but recovered himself with his other foot. Godwin saw the occurrence, and observed—“One brother brought assistance to the other." “Yes," retorted the king, Life of
1 Thierry gives them the credit of freeing England from the Danes upon the death of Harold, the Harefoot. 2 Saxon Chronicle.
3 The king held his court in Gloucester at Christmastide ; at Winchester at Eastertide; and in London at Whitsuntide.
• Saxon Chronicle. Flor. of Worcester says five days: and he states that Gurth was also at the feast.
• Matt. of Westminster; he places his death in 1054, and so does Henry of Huntingdon, &c.
Godwin “my brother might have assisted me lately, had it not been for the treacheryof Godwin.” The earl protested his innocence, and hoped he would be choked with the piece of bread he held in his hand if he were guilty : the bread stuck in his throat, so that he died on the spot!
The events and stirring incidents connected with Godwin's life for about half a century were of insular and continental repute. With a glance of the mind's eye
his whole career is laid bare before us. We behold him as a youth, stalwart and strong, with mellow laugh and joyous song, tending his father's cattle’ in the county of Worcester. Next he comes before us as the guide of the jarl Ulf, as they sought Canute's ship after the battle of Sherston. We then hear him addresshis followers before the night attack upon the Swedes; and then we see him charge and overcome the foe. The herdsman and the warrior disappear and give place to the statesman, who is admitted to the secret and
Godwin could not have been guilty of Alfred's death ; (I.) as no Saxon writer accuses him of it; (II.) Norman writers contradict one another concerning (a) the place, Gillingham (William of Malmesbury), or Guildford (Matthew of Westminster), where his followers were murdered ; (b) the place where Alfred's eyes were torn out, Ely (Henry of Huntingdon), or Gillingham (William of Malmesbury); (c) the date of Alfred's expedition, during the reign of Harold the Harefoot (Matthew of Westminster), or after his death (William of Malmesbury), or after the death of Hardicanute (Henry of Huntingdon); (d) the circumstances that attended the massacre and mutilation. Most probably the whole story was invented by the Conqueror, in order to excite popular prejudice against his heroic rival Harold.
We have to bear in mind that the Saxon writers were in England, and that they wrote at the time of Godwin's death,—that the Norman writers were not in England, that they gave an account of his death years after its occurrence, and they hated Godwin and his family with a bitter hatred. · Knythinga Saga.
3 William of Malmesbury. • Henry of Huntingdon.
most confidential councils of his king. The statesman decides the fate of kings-Harold, the Harefoot, and Hardicanute acknowledge his supremacy: whilst the half-brother of the latter kneels at the feet of the son of the "king's servant;" and afterwards listens in amazement to his ready wit and eloquent voice as he prevails upon the listening throng to proclaim the suppliant king of England. Time rolls on, and in the next scene we see the herdsman's daughter wedded to the last stem of the stock of Cerdic, and listen to the shouts that welcome the union of a damsel, whose great grandfather's name is unknown, with the representative not merely of the kings, but of the very gods of the Saxons. Again the scene shifts, and the lion-hearted earl starts up in majestic magnificence between his king and wanton and unjustifiable massacre. Yet a little while and he is informed that the man who "preferred death rather than commit any disgraceful act,” has been pronounced a vagabond and an outlaw.
That night the old man was flying for his very life; woe betide him should his horse stumble or fall, for the churchman's' armed troops are in his rear, riding fast and furious to take his life. Then he
the hand of a friend.8 Next he witnesses a nation's gratitude, and hears the loud shouts of welcome, as the huge
1 Vita Æduardi. 2 Matt. of Westminster. 3 Will. of Malmesbury.
4 Woden and Frea—Matt. of Westminster: this writer states that Alfred the Great was the 21st in descent from Woden, and remarks that after death Woden was translated to the gods !
6 The king was very wrath with the townsmen of Dover, and bade Godwin the earl go in hostile manner against Dover: the earl would not consent to the inroad, as he was loath to injure his own people. -Saxon Chronicle.
6 Godwin was allowed a safe conduct for five nights to go out of the land -Saxon Chronicle.
? Robert, Archbishop of Canterbury. & Count Baldwin of Flanders.
multitude surges around him, like children, welcoming Life of a well-beloved father. Once more his eloquent tonguel Godwin. goes home to the hearts of his listeners.
He recovers his children's and his own honours; and he has the gratification of seeing the Normans driven with ignominy from the land, and of hearing his old enemy pronounced a public disturber, and also a poisoner of the royal mind.
Though his son and his daughter sat upon the throne of England, Godwin declined the tempting seat; yet he was enthroned in the hearts of the people; and while they, with constant tears, remembered him as the father and supporter of the realm, we may cast aside the epithets of “dog ” and “traitor," and incline to think of him as a man of—"glorious fame.”
THE AFFAIRS OF WALES, FROM THE REIGN OF HYWEL
DDRWG TO THAT OF GRIFFITH AP LLEWELYN.
We have read that in the year 974, Iago, son of Idwal
Voel, was expelled from his kingdom by his nephew Hywel
Hywel Ddrwg. Iago is supposed to have fled to the Ddrwg.
court of Edgar," who is said to have reconciled him to Hywel, and to have prevailed upon the two Princes to divide the sovereignty of Gwynedd between them. But in the year 980 Iago was captured by Hywel : afterwards, Hywel ruled as sole king of Gwynedd, for in
981 he not only defeated, but also slew with his own Cystenyn hand his cousin, Iago's son, Cystenyn Ddu-Constantine Ddu, 981. the Black, who, with the help of the Danes, had ravaged
Anglesey and part of Carnarvonshire. With his own
hand, in the same year, he is supposed to have killed his Vychan, uncle, Idwal Vychan—Idwal the Little.
In 986 Hywel was killed by the Saxons. Some time after his death, Meredith, grandson of Hywel Dda, became the Pendragon. He laid claim to the princedom of Powys through his mother; to that of Gwynedd by the murder of his cousins, brothers to Hywel Ddrwg; and to that of Deheubarth, because of the youth of his nephews, the sons of his brother Einion.
* Powell, &c.
According to the Annales Cambrio, Iago was blinded by Hywel * The desperate character of the Welsh Princes is strikingly evidenced by the fact that out of 60 who lived between the years 877 and 1077, 45 died a violent death.
* Einion was torn to pieces by the men of Gwent, 983.