It does not seem possible to discover what the possessions of Eudo were in Normandy, except indirectly and generally. The Doudo whom Bishop Tanner makes complimentary to Roger Bigod, founder of Thetford, the date of whose death in the same year, 1107, with Robert Fitz-Hamo, has been preserved in his remarkable Latin epitaph, may have had a Norman property called Afini, that steward of the household being so designated; but nothing has been found to establish this. Matthew of Westminster's notice of him as founder of the church of Holy Trinity at Exaqueum may imply that as part of his land.
Ordericus Vitalis, who, with Matthew Paris, is the great ecclesiastical and historical authority of the earliest periods, has most satisfactory reference to his position as land-holder in Normandy. He describes Eudo thus: -
‘The dapifer of the Norman duke, who, in the province of Constance, excelled among the nobles of Normandy by his riches and authority’. Those who are acquainted with the brevity and nonchalance with which the greatest persons and events are treated in such writers, will understand the importance of Orderic's words.
It is known that the castle of Preaux, Praels, or Pratelli was his chief residence in Normandy, and had he no more than the wide demesnes which followed it, he would have been of first rank. Duncan, author of The Dukes of Normandy says:
‘Preaux is in the arrondissement of Rouen. In 1070 its castle belonged to Odo, called dapifer, son of Hubert of Rye; not Rye in Sussex but Rye in Normandy, three leagues to the north-east of Bayeux’. It was in his castle of Preaux that he died in 1120. A younger branch of the English lords De Cailly, and related to the royal families of England and France, took its name from Preaux, but it is difficult to discover how they succeeded Eudo, whether by consanguinity, affinity, or ducal favour.
If something is added as to his offices, sufficient insight will be gained as to the seneschal's lands across the Channel. Madox, in his History of the Exchequer, has great difficulty in separating the offices of dapifer, seneschal, lord chief justice, and others, to different persons in England after the Conquest. As matter of fact they only separated in the reign of Henry I, our modern forms of courts of law and parliament then taking shape, to the disgust, as it may easily be believed, of the conservatives and beneficiaries of the Grand Customs of Normandy. It was the Saxon necessities, and the reintroduction of the laws of Edward the Confessor, which divided the great office of seneschal or dapifer into so many smaller offices, responsible no longer to the dapifer but to the king, and in due time to the parliaments. Under Duke William in Normandy there was not yet an inkling of subtraction from the power of his mayor of the palace. The history of Mayor Pepin, the father of Charlemagne and of the Capets, illustrates the position.
The dapifers were often more powerful than their kings, and supplanted them in more countries than France. First, second, third, and every lord of the treasury seem incarnated in this prime minister and prime subject. Brady and Hallam explain his powers with something like enthusiasm. The former says that
‘he might do in all things as he thought most expedient’. The Grande Customier of Normandy is the best source of information, and it says that
‘a certain superior justice, called the prince's seneschal, travelled and passed through Normandy, corrected inferior justices, looked after the prince's lands and rights, and, after the laws of Normandy, rectified what was done wrong in the bailliwicks and in the forests’. Once every three years he visited all the bailliwicks or provinces, redressed criminal wrongs, considered questions of treasure-trove and wrecks, saw to it that the highways were in right condition, and in a thousand other modes kept the kingdom in its best order. There were seven bailliwicks in all Normandy, the bailiffs occupying a position like the comites or county ruling earls of subsequent England, and the triennial visit of the dapifer would be to them the event of events.
Brady says that this seneschal or dapifer could remove all the inferior justiciaries from office without any appeal. He adds to his exposition, and he has paid great attention to his subject by consultation of very numerous and the best authorities, that
‘This great officer was also general viceroy and guardian of the kingdom in the king's absence, and sometimes made peace and war by the advice of the chief nobility’.
To such a man the extent of his fief could be practically as wide as he might care to make it. His was a despotism only limited by the king's will; but that this was a great and effective limitation so far as the Rollo dynasty was concerned, has appeared already by the fall of William Fitz-Osborn as suddenly as that of the chief ruler of a Persian monarch, or the vizier of a Turkish sultan. It is true, the immense difference, even in the case of such a determined will as was that of Duke William, is to be seen in the fact that he could not afford to degrade his officer to real ruin, the European kings being always but a best among equals.
The honours and lands of Fitz-Osborn afterwards in England, were the politic healing of perhaps the Conqueror's most daring step. He knew his Norman peers well; they would have no such irresponsible powers in any hands. The dapifer was their safeguard from kingly despotism, and their vigour never feared that if the viceroy should wish to be tyrannical they could not meet him. Such a mode of checks was as original to this curious system as it was effective for good government, so long as the king was not a faineant; and even then, as Charlemagne's case, and more pointedly as his father Pepin's shows, who had transformed himself from dapifership to kingship, a tyrant was not the inevitable, if probable result. Responsibility of the ministry in modern phrase, is the exact equivalent to dapifership in this aspect.
But the object is gained of showing that Eudo was actually, as well as proportionally, a greater landholder in Normandy than we know by record that he was afterwards in England. When he so faithfully toiled for the fulfilment of his master's last will and testament, in securing the English crown for Rufus, the Conqueror's second son, it would be injustice to his great-hearted character, not to remember that he jeopardised the confiscation of all his Norman lands and wealth, as well as his hereditary office of dapifer of Normandy. Had Robert the will of his father, it is probable that Eudo might have been wholly stripped of all he had in his kingdom; but the indications are, probably from the duke's awe of Eudo's fellow-nobles, and the great respect among his whole people for the sacredness of law, that he neither lost his lands nor the office, even though not occupying either. Probably the needy Robert received the fruits for years, but when Rufus so thoroughly brought him and their brother Henry to terms, and got earldoms of Ou and others for himself in Normandy, it may be safely assumed that his English dapifer's rights in Normandy would be restored, if indeed they had ever been seized.
It is probable that Robert had a steward of the household during the reign of Rufus in England, but the curious appeal of William of Breteuil, the great Fitz-Osborn's son, to Henry in 1100, that he should complete his vow of loyalty to Robert, gives the idea that the latter clung with Norman pertinacity to the laws and customs of his country, and while Rufus reigned it must have been with his brother protesting usurpation. In this light he would always keep both the lands and hereditary office of Eudo open to the time of his restoration to his full kingdom. The imagination must not go too far in these directions; but we know that an English Mandeville, long after this, got the Norman dapifership solely through his relationship to Eudo, and respect for law being characteristic of the country, surely its chief officer's rights may have weathered through even the dreadful fraternal storms of that angry season. When he passed the greatest danger of his life, the temptation, and perhaps one encouraged by Norman respect for his rights in most difficult circumstances, to go with all the nobles of England, except four, to put its crown at the feet of Robert; and when Henry I received him fully into the royal favour that, rightly speaking, he never had foregone, being advocate only for the just, like the son of his first great friend, the dapifer Fitz-Osborn, his union of the two offices of dapifer of England and Normandy again occurred, if they had been separated in fact or in form or in both.
His beginning to build the great abbey of Colchester at his own expense, in September of 1106, the very year in which the battle of Tenchbrai put both countries wholly into his master's hands, Henry I, is no slight indication that his fortune got great and free enlargement then; and the tradition of Henry putting tasks upon him, in his favourite amusement and devotion of great architectural building, further suggests ideas as to his princely wealth. Nor must it be forgotten, that this astute and, like all his dynasty, money-loving king, was at Eudo's deathbed, with purposes no doubt quite other than those of holy counsel.
Waltheof's possessions, it has been said, were in the reign of the Conqueror his greatest enemies, and the inference is that they lost him his head. The saying is probably a Saxon prejudice; for compare William's conquest and rule of England for twenty-two years of stern struggle during cardinal political transition, and only this one decapitation for state reasons, with a dozen years out of Henry VIII's reign. Battle is civilisation beside the use of the block and its two-handed engine. But it may not be scrupled saying that Henry was with the noblest man by birth perhaps, as certainly by his life, of his kingdom, for reasons of property, which may appear by-and-bye. It is probable that if this king needed it, the blind old man, his faculties not impaired for all his busy powerful life, as wisely an-anged for that as his Genealogia shows him to have done with the other things which occupy last hours. The church had prospered well at his hands, and his monarch represented himself now with the valuable result. Henry indulged strong likings, but his memory was long and unforgiving; the ablest, the bitterest, and the most selfish, even in his loves, of the three king brothers of the dynasty.
It is to England and to its Domesday Book that attention must be turned for accuracy as to any of Eudo's lands. What he had in Normandy must always remain a svibject of inference, and however absolute that may be, general knowledge cannot compare with such as Adam Sinclair of Campes in Kent, his next elder brother, and the three fellow-commissioners gave in this monvimental record, not only to England but to the world, and for all ages. An immortality such as Adam's in connection with this large but not ponderous book of two volumes, one very much thinner than the other, is more to be envied than most of the immortalities, royal, noble, military, and literary that could be named. To copy out all the entries of Eudo's lands, not to say translate and explain them, would be work not in keeping with narrative. The technicality would weary.
There is abundant material for a volume of this special character. One example, and a description of the others, must be enough. It is taken because of its being very short, and because of its historic interest. When Hubert of Rye, bis father, as privador between William, duke of Normandy, and Edward the Confessor, successfully accomplished his embassy in 1065, he had a grant from the king of England of Ashe in Hampshire. It is situated near the source of the Tees, which falls into Southampton harbour, and is at nearly equal distances from Basingstoke, Kingsclere, and Andover. In No. XXX of the Domesday survey of this county, this son is found possessor of it. Translated from the abbreviated Latin of records, this would run more simply:
‘The land of Eudo, the son of Hubert. In Overton hundred. Eudo, the son of Hubert, holds Ashe from the king. Alwacre held it from Earl Harold. It was then assessed at 8 hides; now at 3 hides. The arable is 8 ploughlands. In demesne are 2 ploughlands and 4 villagers, and 10 borderers employ 3 ploughs. To the church also belong 10 slaves and 3 acres of meadow. It was worth in the time of King Edward 7 pounds, and afterwards and now 6 pounds and 10 shillings. This diminution is because of the half hide which is in the possession of Hugo, the viscount ’. Its English is clear as to language.
It might give a wrong impression to direct much attention to this, one of the smallest parts of Eudo's English property, but it is of use to remember that a hide was 120 acres. The Black Book of Westminster, last chapter, liber i., says,
‘Hyda a primitiva institutione ex centum acris constat’. It was written under Norman auspices, and therefore its 100 are equal to 120 English acres. A ploughland varied in size according to the kind of agriculture and district vigour of the men and cattle, 60, 70, 80, and even 100 acres, as well as much smaller portions, getting the name in the survey. The demesne was the part of an estate cultivated for the proprietor or for the manor-house. The villagers were his feudal tenants, giving their personal services on the demesne, or wherever their lord directed. Borderers were cottars whose chief subsistence was in labouring for the villagers. They were under the feudal protection of the lord, but had only the lowest duties to perform from him. It is probable that the slaves on and in the manor were their superiors practically, for if executioners were required the borderers got the employment. They had opportunity, however, of making money, and becoming villagers or villani. The servi were slaves, and nothing more or less, though some interpreters try to give the idea of service and not slavery. They were bought and sold; their children were born slaves; differences in their position were solely at the will of their individual masters. The church, too, accepted, as even here appears, the state of things without question.
The scale of money value may be understood from two somewhat contemporary statements: first, that William Warenne, earl of Surrey, when he lost all his very wide English estates, and got Robert, duke of Normandy, to intercede for his pardon with his brother, stated that they were worth nearly; £1000 annually; and, second, that the famous Hubert de Burgh took from Henry III; £50 a year, as equivalent to his third part of the returns from perhaps the richest county, Kent, of which he was then ruling earl. It is interesting to know that Harold, the Conqueror's antagonist, once held Ashe. Hugo, the sheriff or viscount, was a Norman frequent in the survey: the sheriff's office, one of great dignity, being to attend to all the king's concerns in a county; his lands, castles, their rents, and whatever royalty business required to be done. The viscount was the natural chock upon the count or earl, when the latter was not ornamental but useful, and remunerated for his services like the sheriff.
Of the lands Eudo held in capite or directly from the king, there is only one other entry as short as this. His property in “the shire which gave birth to Alfred”, the Saxon king, Berkshire, Kipplesmere hundred, takes but four lines, though those commissioners certainly knew how to put a great deal into little bulk of writing. The Hertfordshire estates fill fifty-three lines; those in Huntingdon, nine; those in Northampton, fourteen; those in Cambridgeshire, forty-two; those in Bedfordshire a hundred lines; while those of Essex fill three great pages of Domesday Book. Nor do these at all exhaust the list. He holds very much land by under-tenantship in Berks., Beds., Suffolk, and especially in Essex. It would almost appear that he had liking or policy for this mode of tenure, and probably his popularity with the Saxons may have been owing not a little to his moderation in that, as in most other respects where his action is seen. To be anxious to exhaust this subject were needless, because the original record, with its clearest of showings, remains for the benefit of an illimitable future of those interested and inquiring. No substitute is sufficient for its unique pages. If the dapifer's lands were to be all extracted from it, and dealt with in a way corresponding to the gravity of Domesday Book, the work would have to be both independent and wholly scientific.
Here one other thing from it may be added, which is more in the stream of purpose, that both in Norfolk and Suffolk this Sinclair family held land before the Conquest, in the time of Edward the Confessor. Already, notice was drawn to the gifts of Hubert to New Church, West Cheap, London, if he did not also found it; and it is a commonplace how favourably the Confessor looked upon the Normans. In the Chronicon Johannis Bromton the second reason which the chronicler gives for William the Conqueror's enmity to Harold was -
‘Because he had ingeniously driven from England the archbishop, Robert, a Norman by race, and Odo, his consul, and all the French’. If this is Eudo Sinclair, Odo and Eudo being often the same name with the chroniclers, though ultimately distinct, it is capital addition to his biography, that he was a consul or ruler of several counties or bailliwicks before he was dapifer. Consul was also applied in the sense of lieutenant, and he may have been at the court of Edward in this capacity for Duke William. This would explain his holding land then in Suffolk and Norfolk. The first and probably most instigating reason of hatred to Harold is given, because Earl Godwin his father, with himself and his brothers, killed William's relation Alfred so barbarously, and his retinue of Norman nobles, at Guildford; and this is the event which made Hubert of Rye's bravery so conspicuous to his fellows when all but he refused to take the embassy to receive the Confessor's last will and testament in favour of the duke. It was no carpet errand, with Godwin's unscrupulous and murderous sons striving for their own hands.
One cannot but think that Hubert, with his gallant and polished sons no doubt at his side, knew England well, and had skilfully calculated the chances. His extraordinary preparations made to gain the Saxon populace, an equipage somewhat foreshadowing a lord mayor's show, were grounded on knowledge of their character. Probably he and his four boys and their sisters formed “great Part” of that continual grumble which Earl Godwin found it convenient, for his evil usurping purposes, to keep up through Edward's reign against the Frenchmen, as he took care they should be without qualification considered. If Eudo,the consul, were driven away from England previously, he must have lost his lands here; and Hubert's determination to take the embassy may have been aided by chance of recovering these to Eudo, and probably other lands which he and his sons, Ralph, Hubert, and Adam, may have had. It was shown, how he got the entirely new grant of Ashe; and what his family had would perhaps also be as much given back as the difficult period allowed. The duke's historical silent rage for most of a day, when he heard of Harold's making himself king, can be better understood that Hubert's successful mission in 1065, added to Harold's own sacred oath, made it all but a certainty that the English kingdom awaited him without a stroke. It is easy also to imagine with what indignation, and with what hope and courage also, Hubert and his sons prepared for, and energised in, the conquest of, or more truly the suppression of, soi-disant King Harold and his rebels. If they had possessions once in England, it agrees with the whole previous and subsequent history of Norman nobles, that they would never rest till they had their rights. Determined persistency is the note of their characters, though gracefulness and honour were always awake.
But a word or two must be said of Eudo's position in Essex. Here his largest landed and other interests lay. Of this county he has always been a chief hero till the present time; and while Colchester has existence, it is probable that its great lord, Eudo, who ruled it so well, built so much of its famous stones, left so full a share of his wealth to its best purposes, cannot be forgotten. Besides Domesday Book, his charter to his abbey gives good idea of the lands he held there. Colchester was feudatory to the castle till Elizabeth's reign, and Eudo had the income of quit-rents and the 170 arable acres of land which followed it, perhaps more for the conveniences a manor-house usually had, of home produce, than at all as a measure or even aid of his feudal office. He had also the great fee of the district. By his position as governor he was both the steward and bailiff of Tendring hundred, and that he had sufficient municipal sympathies is shown by the register of him having five houses within the walls. He had 40 acres of land which belonged to the burgesses in King Edward's time, and which probably lay very near the city. It is of genealogical interest also that Hamo Dapifer, who has been claimed as near relation to Eudo, held one house, one court or hall, one hide of land, and 15 slave-burgesses in Colchester. A nice question, it would be, to fix his usual home at this justice-giving hall, so near Eudo Sinclair of the castle and tower of Colchester. Eudo and Hamo, the dapifers, cross each other so agreably, and so often, that relationship seems the enforced explanation.
For quick reference as to Eudo's standing, Sir Henry Ellis, in his Introduction, is good guide. He says Eudo's lands in capite were in Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hants., Berks., Cambs., Hunts., Beds., and Essex; and he is, if Domesday Book itself be not available, sufficient authority also for the statement that he held lands both in Norfolk and Suffolk, in the time of King Edward before the Conquest. Morant, the historian of Essex, and of Colchester particularly, in the middle of the eighteenth century, took the trouble to count Eudo's lands in some counties, and found that he had 25 lordships in Essex, 7 in Hertfordshire, 1 in Berks., 12 in Bedfordshire, 9 in Norfolk, and 10 in Suffolk.
Essex's historian, Wright, of our century may be further referred to in this and in other lines of Eudo's biography; and with the advantage that he tells of many things which have not been able to find any place here. His description of the castle is very full and interesting. The interminable vaults of it aid the view that there was underground tunnelling to a large extent, and that there was a tower as well as a castle. He mentions another church, and other foundations, ascribed to the dapifer. Of the castle, his book has a suggestive illustration, the absurd dome, it may be said, not looking its very worst. Altogether, his picturing in words of Colchester, and of Essex generally, is of a kind most helpful to a reader, though not so useful to a writer. The town he notes to be 120 feet above the Colne. It certainly commands wide prospects, and for this as well as other reasons has long had distinction, antiquarian, civil, and military, among the chief cities of the land.
It would not be safe to say that Eudo's English income far surpassed that of the earl of Surrey with his £1000 a-year, though his office making him first subject of England it might be supposed that he could be the richest also; but when, as addition, we take into account his Norman office and property, to which Orderic has given considerable clue, it would be probably difficult to find a man altogether so wealthy at that period, not only in England but in Europe. There are apparently larger landholders than he in Domesday Book although he is one of first magnitude, even in appearance of entries; but his sagacity and favour with the crown probably were the causes in the metaphorical sense of the goodness of the soil where he pitched his various camps, and of their proximity to great English centres, and especially to the ultimate centre of London. When calculating results in value from the survey, such considerations must never be forgotten. Hughs of Chester may get provinces, if they please, where the wild men run; Mortimers may have large portions of Welsh hills, and even strips of English border; Saxon Goderics and treasonable or coward Anglian Ralph Waers may keep eastern sheriffships and consulships of Anglia, the prey of pirates; Danish Waltheofs may be left, if they will only be sleeping bears, in their northern earldoms; but we must have our faithful Eudoes, Huberts, Adams, Richards, FitzGilberts, Geffrey Mandevilles, and Walter Giflards, near our hearts as sure bucklers. They shall not want, where the royal conquering face shines, and shines not proudly, but as that of comes among his comites. Charles the Great and his paladins are a type that never dies, but which is always working to repeat itself. The Conqueror only of his rebels, and rightful king of all that were best in England, had, and deserved, worthy peers and cousins. The lands of Eudo Sinclair were wide, and richer than they were wide; but his offices, and how nobly he filled them, whether those of the individual who gets love and reverence and needs to give them back also, or those of the man of state who is as wide as his sphere, and that practically the widest, are the true subjects of exultation to any one who, having a soul, recognises a rightly great and, as it were, universal man.