Coronation Day

The day for the consecration of the King-elect was of course fixed for the great festival of the Church which was drawing near. The Midwinter feast was to be again held at Westminster by a crowned King. On the feast of the Nativity, within less than a full year from the consecration of the minster itself, the church of Eadward was to behold another King crowned and anointed within its walls. Events had indeed followed fast on one another since the Christmas Gemot of the last year had been held by the last King of the House of Cerdic.

The Conqueror was thus King-elect. His plans had answered. His arts and his arms had been alike successful. And the triumph of his subtlety had been specially his own. It was the chance shot of an arrow which had overcome the English King, but it was William's own policy which had overcome the English people. King in truth only by the edge of the sword, he had so managed matters that he had now the formal right to call himself King, not only by the bequest of Eadward but by the election of the English people. But, having won this great success of his craft, he was not minded to jeopard what he had won by the neglect of any needful military precaution. He did not trust himself in London till his position there was secured, till some steps had been taken toward holding the lofty spirit of the citizens in check. He sent on a detachment before him to prepare a fortress in or close to the city. This was doubtless one of those hasty structures of wood of which we have heard at Brionne and at Argues; but it was the germ which grew into the noblest work of Norman military art, the mighty Tower of Gundulf. Orders were also sent to make everything ready for the reception of the new King and for the great rite of his crowning.

When all that was needed to keep the city in subjection had been done, William drew near - in readiness for the great rite which was to change the Conqueror into a King. As to the place of the ceremony there could be no doubt. William was to be crowned in the church which had been reared by his kinsman and predecessor, and where his mortal remains, lifeless, yet undecayed, and already displaying their wonder-working powers, lay as it were to welcome him. William was thus to be consecrated within the same temple where Harold had been consecrated less than a year before. He was to be consecrated with the same rites and by the same hand. -- Freeman

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