Submission at Berkhamstead

William received his new subjects graciously; to the young rival who had so easily fallen before him he was specially gracious. The kiss of peace was given by the Conqueror to Eadgar and to his companions, and he pledged his word that he would be good lord to them. Such a submission on the part of so many men of such lofty rank might of itself be deemed equivalent to an election to the Crown. But a more direct invitation was not wanting. It was probably at Berkhampstead that William was, as we are told, prayed by the chief men of England, spiritual and temporal, to accept the vacant Crown. They needed a King; they had always been used to submit to a crowned King and to none other.

Here we may clearly see the almost superstitious importance which was then attached to the ceremony of coronation. The uncrowned Eadgar had been no full King, and he had been unable to defend his people. The armed candidate who was encamped at Berkhampstead was no longer to be withstood by force of arms. The best course was to acknowledge and receive him at once, and by the mystic rite of consecration to change him from a foreign invader into an English King. -- Freeman

Return to Main Index