so hard to be remedied; since all the miseries of this kingdom, during the period we are treating of, were manifestly owing to that continual violation of such oaths of allegiance, as appear to have been contrived on purpose by ambitious men to be broken at pleasure, without the least apprehension of perjury; and in the mean time keep the prince in a continual slavish dependance.
The earl of Gloucester, soon after his release, went over into Normandy; where he found the earl of Anjou employed in completing the conquest of that duchy; there he delivered him the sons of several English noblemen, to be kept as hostages for their father's fidelity to the empress; and used many arguments for persuading him to come over in person with an army to her assistance: but Geoffry excused himself by the importance of other affairs, and the danger of exposing the dominions he had newly acquired to rebellions in his absence. However, he lent the earl of Gloucester a supply of four hundred men, and sent along with him his eldest son Henry to comfort his mother, and be shown to the people.
During the short absence of the earl of Gloucester, the empress was closely besieged in Oxford by the king; and provision beginning to fail, she was in cruel apprehensions of falling into his hands. This gave her occasion to put in practice the only talent wherein she seemed to excel, which was, that of contriving some little shift or expedient to secure her person upon any sudden emergency. A long season of frost had made the Thames passable upon the ice, and much snow lay on the ground; Maude, with some few attendants clad all in white, to avoid being discovered from the king's camp, crossed the