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Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 249 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.

Gisors itself existed before the tenth century; but its chief celebrity was due to William Rufus, who, anxious to strengthen his frontiers against the power of the kings of France, caused Robert of Belleme to erect this castle, in 1097.  Thus then we have a certain date; and there is no reason to believe, but that the whole of what is left us is really of the same aera, or of the following reign, in which it is known that the works were greatly augmented; for Henry Ist was completely a castle-builder.  He was a prince who spared no pains in strengthening and defending the natural frontiers of his province, as the fortresses of Verneuil, Tillieres, Nonancourt, Anet, Ivry, Chateau-sur-Epte, Gisors, and many others, abundantly testify.  All these were either actually built, or materially strengthened by him.—­This at Gisors, important from its strength and from its situation, was the source of frequent dissentions between the sovereigns of England and France, as well as the frequent witness of their plighted faith, and the scene of their festivities.—­In 1119, a well-known interview took place here, between Henry Ist and Pope Calixtus IInd, who had travelled to France for the purpose of healing the schisms in the church, and who, after having accomplished that task, was desirous not to quit the kingdom till he had completed the work of pacification, by reconciling Henry to Louis le Gros, and to his brother, Robert.  The speech of our sovereign upon this occasion, as recorded by Ordericus Vitalis[25], is a valuable document to the English historian:  it sets forth, at considerable length, his various causes of grievance, whether real, imaginary, or invented, against the legal heir to our throne.—­After a lapse of thirty-nine years, Louis le Jeune succeeded in annexing Gisors to the crown of France; but he resigned it to our Henry IInd, only three years subsequently, as a part of the marriage portion of his daughter, Margaret.  It then remained with our countrymen till the conquest of the duchy by Philip Augustus; previously to which event, that sovereign and Henry met, in the year 1188, under an elm near Gisors, on the road to Trie, upon receiving the news of the capture of Jerusalem by the Sultan Saladin[26].  The monarchs, actuated by religious zeal, took up the cross, and mutually pledged themselves to suspend for a while their respective differences, and direct their united efforts against the common foe of the christian faith, Legends also tell that, during the conference, a miraculous cross appeared in the air, as if in ratification of the compact; and hence the inhabitants derive the armoria bearing of the town; gules, a cross engrailed or[27].  In 1197, Philip embellished Gisors with new buildings; and he retired hither the following year, after the battle of Courcelles, a conflict, which began by his endeavor to surprise Richard Coeur-de-Lion, but which ended with his total defeat.  He had well nigh lost his life during the flight, by his horse plunging with him, all armed as he was, into the Epte.—­He took refuge in Gisors; and the golden gate of the town commemorated his gratitude.  With eastern magnificence, he caused the entire portal to be covered with gold; and the statue of the Virgin, which surmounted it, received the same splendor.

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