CHAPTER II. FATHER ANSELM.
The mill of Sainte-Foi, which was the home of the twin brothers of the De Brocas line, was situated upon a tributary stream of the river Adour, and was but a couple of leagues distant from the town of Sauveterre — one of those numerous “bastides” or “villes Anglaises” built by the great King Edward the First of England during his long regency of the province of Gascony in the lifetime of his father. It was one of those so-called “Filleules de Bordeaux” which, bound by strong ties to the royal city, the queen of the Garonne, stood by her and played so large a part in the great drama of the Hundred Years’ War. Those cities had been built by a great king and statesman to do a great work, and to them were granted charters of liberties such as to attract into their walls large numbers of persons who helped originally in the construction of the new townships, and then resided there, and their children after them, proud of the rights and immunities they claimed, and loyally true to the cause of the English Kings, which made them what they were.
It is plain to the reader of the history of those days that Gascony could never have remained for three hundred years a fief of the English Crown, had it not been to the advantage of her people that she should so remain. Her attachment to the cause of the Roy Outremer, her willing homage to him, would never have been given for so long a period of time, had not the people of the land found that it was to their own advancement and welfare thus to accord this homage and fealty.
Nor is the cause for this advantage far to seek. Gascony was of immense value to England, and of increasing value as she lost her hold upon the more northerly portions of France. The wine trade alone was so profitable that the nobility, and even the royal family of England, traded on their own account. Bordeaux, with its magnificent harbour and vast trade, was a queen amongst maritime cities. The vast “landes” of the province made the best possible rearing ground for the chargers and cavalry horses to which England owed much of her warlike supremacy; whilst the people themselves, with their strength and independence of character, their traditions of personal and individual freedom which can be clearly traced back to the Roman occupation of the province, and their long attachment to England and her King, were the most valuable of allies; and although they must have been regarded to a certain extent as foreigners when on English soil, they still assimilated better and worked more easily with British subjects than any pure Frenchman had ever been found to do.