Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/189

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BATTLE OF HASTINGS. 183


of the new tyrant, the greater part of the lands of the English confiscated and divided among aliens, the very name of Englishman turned into a reproach, the English language rejected as servile and barbarous, and all the high places in church and state for upward of a century filled exclusively by men of foreign race.

No less true than eloquent is Thierry's summing up of the social effects of the Norman Conquest on the generation that witnessed it, and on many of their successors. He tells his reader that "if he would form a just idea of England conquered by William of Normandy, he must figure to Himself—not a mere change of political rule—not the triumph of one candidate over another candidate—of the man of one party over the man of another party, but the intrusion of one people into the bosom of another people—the violent placing of one society over another society which it came to destroy, and the scattered fragments of which it retained only as personal property, or (to use the words of an old act) as 'the clothing of the soil;' he must not picture to himself, on the one hand, William, a king and a despot—on the other, subjects of William's, high and low, rich and poor, all inhabiting England, and consequently all English; he must imagine two nations, of one of which William is a member and the chief—two nations which (if the term must he used) were both subject to William, but as applied to which the word has quite different senses, meaning, in the one case, subordinate—in the other, subjugated. He must consider that there are two countries, two soils, included in the same geographical circumference —that of the Normans, rich and free; that of the Saxons, poor and serving, vexed by rent and toilage: the former full of spacious mansions, and walled and moated castles; the latter scattered over with huts and straw, and ruined hovels: that peopled with the happy and the idle—with men of the army and of the court—with knights and nobles; this with men of pain and labor —with farmers and artisans: on the one side, luxury and insolence; on the other, misery and envy—not the envy of the poor at the sight of opulence they can not reach, but the envy of the despoiled when in presence of the despoilers."

Perhaps the effect of Thierry's work has been to cast into the shade the ultimate good effects on England of the Norman Conquest. Yet these are as undeniable as are the miseries which that conquest inflicted on our Saxon ancestors from the time of