It is not to his victory at Senlac, but to the struggle which followed his return from Normandy, that William owes his title of the " Conqueror." During his absence Bishop Odo's tyranny had forced the.
Kentishmen to seek aid from Count Eustace of Boulogne; while the Welsh princes supported a similar rising against Norman oppression in the west. But as yet the bulk of the land held fairly to the new king. Dover was saved from Eustace; and the discontented fled over sea to seek refuge in lands as far off as Constantinople, where Englishmen from this time formed great part of the body-guard or Varangians of the Eastern Emperors. William returned to take his place again as an English King. It was with an English force that he subdued a rising in the south-west led by Exeter, and it was at the head of an English army that he completed his work by marching to the North. His march brought Eadwine and Morkere again to submission; a fresh rising ended in the occupation of York, and England as far as the Tees lay quietly at William's feet
[Authorities. - The Norman writers as before, Orderic being particularly valuable and detailed. The Chronicle and Florence of Worcester are the primary English authorities (for the so-called " Ingulf of Croyland" is a forgery of the 14th century). Domesday Book is of course indispensable for the Norman settlement; the introduction to it by Sir Henry Ellis gives a brief account of its chief results. Among secondary authorities Simeon of Durham is useful for northern matters, and William of Malmesbury valuable from his remarkable combination of Norman and English feeling. The Norman Constitution is described at length by Lingard, but best studied in the Constitutional History and Select Charters of Dr. Stubbs. The "Anglia Judaica" of Toovey gives some account of the Jewish colonies. For the history as a whole, see Mr. Freeman's "Norman Conquest," vol. iv].
It was in fact only the national revolt of 1068 that transformed the King into a Conqueror. The signal for this revolt came from without. Swein, the king of Denmark, had for two years been preparing to dispute England with the Norman, and on the appearance of his fleet in the Humber all northern, all western and south-western England rose as. one man. Eadgar the aetheling with a band of exiles who had taken refuge in Scotland took the head of the Northumbrian revolt; in the south-west the men of Devon, Somerset, and Dorset gathered to the sieges of Exeter and Montacute; while a new Norman castle at Shrewsbury alone bridled a rising in the west. So ably had the revolt been planned that even William was taken by surprise. The news of the loss of York and of the slaughter of three thousand Normans who formed its garrison reached him as he was hunting in the Forest of Dean; and in a wild outburst of wrath the king swore "by the splendour of God " to avenge himself on the North. But wrath went hand in hand with the coolest statesmanship. William saw clearly that the centre of resistance lay in the Danish fleet, and pushing rapidly to the Humber with a handful of horsemen, he purchased by a heavy bribe its inactivity and withdrawal.
Then leaving York to the last, William turned rapidly westward with the troops which gathered round him, and swept the Welsh border as far as Shrewsbury, while William Fitz-Osbern broke the rising round Exeter. His success set the king free to fulfil his oath of vengeance on the North. After a long delay before the flooded waters of the Aire he entered York, and ravaged the whole country as far as the Tees with fire and sword. Town and village were harried and burnt, their inhabitants slain or driven over the Scotch border. The coast was especially wasted that no hold might remain for any future invasion of the Danes. Harvest, cattle, the very implements of husbandry were so mercilessly destroyed that the famine which followed is said to have swept off more than a hundred thousand victims, and half a century later the land still lay-bare of culture and deserted of men for sixty miles northward of York.
The work of vengeance was no sooner over than William led his army back from the Tees to York, and thence to Chester and the West. Never had he shown the grandeur of his character so memorably as in this terrible march. The winter was severe, the roads choked with snowdrifts or broken by torrents; provisions failed, and the army, drenched with rain and forced to consume its horses for food, broke out into open mutiny at the order to advance across the bleak moorlands that part Yorkshire from the West. The mercenaries from Anjou and Britanny demanded their release from service, and William granted their prayer with scorn. On foot, at the head of the troops which remained faithful, the King forced his way by paths inaccessible to horses, often aiding his men with his own hands to clear the road. The last hopes of the English ceased on his arrival at Chester; the King remained undisputed master of the conquered country, and busied himself in the erection of numerous castles which were henceforth to hold it in subjection. Two years passed quietly ere the last act of the conquest was reached.
By the withdrawal of the Dane the hopes of England rested wholly on the aid it looked for from Scotland, where Eadgar the aetheling had taken refuge, and where his sister Margaret had become the wife of King Malcolm. It was probably some assurance of Malcolm's aid which roused Eadwine and Morkere to a new revolt, which was at once foiled by the vigilance of the Conqueror. Eadwine fell in an obscure skirmish, while Morkere found refuge for a time in the marshes of the eastern counties, where a desperate band of patriots gathered round an outlawed leader, Hereward. Nowhere had William found so stubborn a resistance; but a causeway two miles long was at last driven across the fens, and the last hopes of English freedom died in the surrender of Ely. Malcolm alone held out till the Conqueror summoned the whole host of the crown, and crossing the Lowlands and the Forth penetrated into the heart of Scotland. He had reached the Tay when the king's resistance gave way, and Malcolm appeared in the English camp and swore fealty at William's feet.