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of the Natives was warped, the natural security of the Kingdom (the People) divided, and their hearts turned against the King and his Adherents. The filling the Court with Normans, and lavishing honours and estates amongst them, was weakening the attachment of the English to such a degree, that it became eventually out of the power of the latter to support the Royal Family when it wanted protection. Stephen, at his accession, had made large promises to the Barons, to engage them in support of his weak title to the Throne; and had given them strong assurances that they should enjoy more privileges and offices under him, than they had possessed in the Reigns of his Norman Predecessors. These promises (which, perhaps, were never intended to be performed) answered Stephen's end, by securing to him the Crown, and were the sole motive that induced the Barons to concur so warmly in his interest; and the non-performance was the cause of the general revolt that happened in a few years. From the time of Stephen's accession, he had been perpetually reminded by his Courtiers of his large promises, which he was forced to parry by other still larger promises, and often by actual grants, to satisfy those that were most importunate.
Their private resentments were covered with public outside *; but most Writers agree that this was only an ostensible excuse for an opportunity to gratify their revenge; and that the true reasons of discontent were, that they did not receive rewards and emoluments equal to their expectations, and Stephen's promises. The greatest after-engagements that the King could devise were not, however, sufficient to secure the allegiance of his Courtiers; every one was grasping at the same posts, the same estates, the same honours. Reason has little weight among such claimants; and it is no wonder that the situation of the parties should kindle a flame that should spread itself over the whole Kingdom.
During so turbulent a period, it is not to be supposed that much attention should be paid to the interior regulation of the King's House or Household; it was probably as much dis-i
* The breach of his oath to Matilda,
tracted as the rest of the Kingdom. The King being obliged to fly about from place to place, as the exigency of affairs required, there was little time to study State and Magnificence in his Court. In the former part of Stephen's Reign his Court was extremely magnificent, exceeding that of his Predecessors. He held his Court at Easter, in the first year of his Reign, at London, which was the most splendid, in every respect, that had yet been seen in England *. One may judge a little of the hospitality of the Court in those days, by the manner of living among the Nobility: for at this time, and many ages after, the great halls of the castles or principal manor-houses of the Nobility and Gentry were crowded with vast numbers of their vassals and tenants, who were daily fed at their cost. And in houses of inferior rank, upon occasions of feasting, the floor was strewed with flowers, and the jovial company drank wine out of gilded horns, and sang songs when they became inebriated with their liquor *. This custom of strewing the floor, in those days, was a part of the luxury of the times; and Becket, when he was Chancellor, in the next Reign, according to a contemporary Author f, ordered his hall to be strewed every day, in the winter with fresh straw or hay, and in summer with rushes, or green leaves, fresh gathered; and this reason is given for it, that such Knights as the benches could not contain might sit on the floor without dirtying their fine cloaths. But even this rustic simplicity was mixed with great magnificence in gold and silver plate J. This custom of strewing the rooms extended to the apartments of the Kings themselves in those days; for in the time of Edward I. "Willielmus Alius Willielrai de Aylesbury tenet tres virgatas terrae . . . per serjeantiam inveniendi stramen ad straminandam came
* Qua nunquam fuerat splendidior in Anglid multiuuline, magnitudine, auro, argento, gemmis, Vestibus, omnimoda dapsilitate.
Henry of Huntingdon, Lib. viii.
* Lord Lyttelton, from John of Salisbury, -f Fitzstephen.
X Idem. Vide Lord Lyttelton's Life of Henry II. vol. Hi. p. 483.
ram Domini Regis in Ui/eme, et in Estate Herbam ad juncandam * cameram suam •j*." It may be observed, further, that there is a relique of this custom still subsisting; for at Coronations the ground is strewed with flowers by a person who is upon the establishment, called the Herb-stretver, with an annual salary.
But the commotions of this Reign even put a stop to these meetings of the Court and Council J, and all Royal magnificence was broken down and defaced. Had it not been for the turbulency of the times, Stephen might doubtless have kept a very large Household, and a splendid Court; for, added to the wealth he inherited with the Crown from his Predecessor, he had large revenues, derived from different sources; viz. the demesnes of the Crown, escheats, feudal profits from the demesnes of others, fines, aids, and several others; but the exigency of his affairs, and
* Junatre is properly, to strew with rushes, t Blount's Jocular Tenures.
X Jam quippe Curiae solennes, et ornatus Regii Scherjaatis prorsus evanuerant. Annals of Waverly.