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But on Siward's death (1055), his son, Valthjof (Waltheof), ■was too young to govern that important district, which ■was therefore made over to Toste Godvinson, who afterwards fell at Stamford Bridge. Toste ruled with despotic power, set aside the laws of Canute the Great, and levied taxes which were contrary to the people's ancient rights. The Northumbrians therefore deposed him at a Thing, and expelled him in 1064. When Toste's brother, Harald, afterwards endeavoured to effect a reconciliation, on the condition that Toste should be reinstated in the earldom, the Northumbrians uuanimously rejected the proposal. "We were born and bred up in freedom," they exclaimed; "a proud and ambitious chief we will not endure, for we have learnt from our fathers either to live like freemen or to die."
When, two years afterwards, William began to conquer England, and to parcel it out among his warriors, it was chiefly the inhabitants of the old Danish districts who opposed him with all the energy of despair. The successors of the Danes and Norwegians, under ordinary circumstances, would have joined their kinsmen the Normans; especially as they gave out that one of their objects in coming to England was to avenge their Danish and Norwegian relatives, secretly massacred by Ethelred. But the Normans aimed at nothing less than the abolition of the free tenure of estates, and the complete establishment of a feudal constitution; a mode of proceeding which, by depriving the previously independent man of his right to house and land, and transferring it to powerful nobles, shook the very foundation of freedom. The descendants of the Danes turned from them, therefore, with disgust, and now no longer hesitated to enter into an alliance with the equally oppressed Anglo-Saxons; for the common danger made both races forget their ancient animosities. Many of the Anglo-Saxon chiefs and warriors who had been defeated by William in the west and south-west of England, fled towards the north, and prepared, in conjunction with the inhabitants of that district, to venture everything in self-defence.
It was not till the year 1068 that the Normans succeeded, after a severe contest, in taking Oxford, Warwick, and the old Danish burghs Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, and York. In these places, but especially in Lincoln and York, the Normans were obliged to build strong fortifications, for fear of the people of Scandinavian descent, who abounded both in the towns and in the adjacent rural districts. But what the Normans chiefly apprehended was, attacks from the Danes who, there was good reason to suppose, might come over with their fleets to the assistance of their countrymen in the north of England.
Meantime, whilst the remains of the united AngloSaxon and Danish-Norwegian armies had withdrawn to the mountains of Northumberland, where they often surprised and killed whole detachments of Norman troops, numerous fugitives and messengers repaired to King Svend in Denmark, to implore him, in the name of his English friends, and in that of freedom, to assist them against William the Conqueror. Svend sent his brother Asbjorn, and his sons Harald and Canute, over with a fleet, who, after a vain attempt to land at Sandwich, entered the Humber, in the year 1069. The Northumbrians, and the rest of the aggrieved inhabitants, both Northmen and Anglo-Saxons, flocked gladly together under the Danish banner. Edgar, who had been chosen king by the AngloSaxons, Valthjof (Waltheof), a son of the old Northumbrian jarl Siward, and many other fugitives, joined the Danish host. York was taken, the Normans put to flight, and their fortifications levelled with the ground. In these encounters Waltheof gained great honour for courage and bravery.
But the joy of victory was only of short duration. William, who had sworn in his anger to lay all Northumberland waste, knew how to avert by persuasion, cunning, and bribery, the danger that threatened him from Denmark. The Danish fleet went home in the spring; and William retook York, and extended his dominion in Northumberland; where his progress was marked by slaughter, incendiarism, and rapine. The unfortunate inhabitants fled to the forests and morasses; their last place of refuge was the marshes near the Wash. Moved by the cries of complaint which continually reached him from England, the Danish king Svend again sent a number of vessels, which appeared in the Humber in the year 1074. But these were not able to render any effectual assistance. Waltheof, whom William, in order to conciliate the Northumbrians, had appointed Jarl in his father's earldom, fell under the axe of the executioner on suspicion of being concerned in this naval expedition; and fresh devastations promoted William's dominion over Northumberland, which was so terribly harassed that large districts were left without houses or human inhabitants.
The forests of the north of England now became the last refuge of numberless outlaws, who would not submit to the ferocious conqueror, preferring a free and merry life in the green woods; where they united together, and defied William's powerful armies and severe laws. They had secret connections among the people, who saw in them the last defenders of their ancient freedom. Among the leaders of these outlaws, who, long after William's time, continued to wander about in the English forests, but who were most numerous in the north of England, we meet with Scandinavian names, such as Sweyn, and Sihtrik; and in the legends and songs which have preserved the remembrance of them, are found Scandinavian traits of character, such as the story of William of Cloudesley, who shot the apple from his son's head. It is the identical legend related in our old Sagas of the Scandinavian hero, Palnatoke.
The last gleam of any well-founded hope of deliverance shone upon the successors of the Anglo-Saxons and Danish-Norwegians in the north of England, when, in the year 1085, the Danish king Canute, afterwards called the Saint, assembled a powerful fleet in the Liimfjord, in order to release England from the Conqueror's yoke, and if possible to seat himself on the throne. Sixty Norwegian vessels had joined Canute's fleet. William, on his side, made great preparations in order to resist the expected attack. Danegelt was again collected for the defence of the kingdom against the Danes. The inhabitants of Scandinavian descent in the north of England were compelled to alter their dress, and to cut off their long beards, that the Danes might not thereby recognise their kinsmen. The coasts were occupied by soldiers, who erected strong defences; whilst William at the same time endeavoured, by means of secret envoys and bribery, to sow disunion in the Danish fleet. Canute's progress was impeded by unfortunate circumstances; the fleet separated, and a mutiny broke out, which ended in the murder of Canute at Odensee, in the year 1086. No further attempt was made by Denmark to conquer England; for the expedition said to have been prepared by King Erik Lam in the year 1138 was, at all events, a very poor and unsuccessful one. Thus the Northmen in England, being no longer able to obtain support from Denmark or Norway, were forced to submit to the Norman dominion.
Nevertheless, in spite of the terrible devastations by which William coerced the north of England, "the halfSaxon half-Danish population of these districts" (says the French historian, Thierry) " long continued to preserve their old feeling of independence and their ancient indomitable pride. The Norman kings who succeeded the Conqueror dwelt with perfect safety in the southern districts, but did not venture north of the Humber without some fear; and a chronicler, who lived at the close of the twelfth century, assures us that they never visited that part of the kingdom without being accompanied by a strong army."
Although no very great number of Northmen, or men of Scandinavian extraction, could have remained in Normandy after William's conquest of England, and after the Norman expeditions into Italy, yet even these few, as we have before stated, were subsequently able to impart to the popular spirit in Normandy a peculiar Scandinavian colouring. The Norman knights distinguished themselves from the effeminate, dreaming, and excitable knights of the south of France, not only by a greater inclination for adventures and a bolder martial spirit, but also by a genuine Scandinavian sedateness and an all-subduing perseverance. The old Scandinavian feeling of freedom revealed itself, even in the middle ages, in the cities of Normandy, which were long the seats of a democratic spirit and of republican movements. According to William the Conqueror's own statement, the ancient Normans, and, above all, their Scandinavian forefathers, were, in a high degree, quarrelsome and litigious; and, even to this day, Normandy is remarkable, above all other provinces of France, for the great number of law-suits which annually take place in it. Frenchmen themselves have remarked that their most skilful and persevering seamen are to be found among the inhabitants of Dieppe, and that the most celebrated admirals of France have been natives of Normandy.
If such was the influence of the Normans in France, were not the Danes and Norwegians, who had been settled for centuries in England, in a still better position to fix a lasting stamp upon the life and character of the people; more particularly as the Danish-Norwegian elements continued, long after the Norman conquest, to exercise a very considerable influence in England? We may truly assert that the Scandinavian spirit is still clearly to be discerned, not merely in separate districts, but throughout England. The love of the English for bold adventures, especially at sea, their unshaken calmness in the greatest dangers, their apparent coolness during the most violent emotions, and their proud feeling of freedom, are surely not to be ascribed