England under the Normans and Angevins, 1066-1272

By H. W. C. Davis | Go to book overview
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THE storm of civil war was over, but the after-swell continued for some years to disturb the waters of society. Those who had been the best friends of the Crown in the hour of extremity became the worst of enemies when the occasions and excuses for lawless aggrandisement were removed. The last months of the Marshal's life were employed in efforts to reclaim demesnes and castles from those who had defended them against the foreigner.1 It was no easy task; he found that the sheriffs were either unable or unwilling to cope with the robbers; and upon enquiry it seemed wiser, in some cases, to postpone the vindication of royal rights. But force was employed against one at least of the recalcitrant soldiers of fortune; after a siege of eight days' duration Newark castle was wrested from Robert Gaugi.2 A few months later a General Eyre of the itinerant justices ( Jan., 1219) dealt sharply with petty oppressors, and gave the country a foretaste of the blessings of justice.3 But, early in 1219, the great Marshal died leaving the work of settlement to be completed by other hands. His epitaph was fitly pronounced by the father of his chief adversary. "The Marshal," said King Philip of France, "was the most loyal man that I have ever known in any place where I have been." The Marshal had done for his young charge whatever could be done by strength of character, by military prowess, and by a spirit of sage moderation; and his very defects and limitations had been of service to the royalist cause. The narrow ground of legalism upon which he took his stand had the merit of being intelligible, and of appealing to all the conservative instincts of his countrymen.

Death of the Earl Marshal, May, 1219

Rot. Claus., i., 336. Pat. Rolls, ii., passim.
Wend., iv., 35. Pat. Rolls, ii., 164.
Pat. Rolls, 186, 206, Ann. Dunstaple.


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