Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/23

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as we approach the sea, winding around ancient strongholds like Château Gaillard and Tancarville or ruined abbeys like Jumièges and Saint-Wandrille,—where Maeterlinck's bees still hum in the garden,—catching the tide soon after it enters Normandy, reaching deep water at Rouen, and meeting the "longed-for dash of waves" in the great estuary at its mouth. Halfway from the Norman frontier to the river's end stands Rouen, mistress of the Seine and capital, not only of Upper Normandy, but of the whole Norman land. Celtic in name and origin, like most French cities, chief town of the Roman province of Lugdunensis Secunda and of the ecclesiastical province to which this gave rise, the political and commercial importance of Rouen have made it also the principal city of mediæval and modern Normandy and the seat of the changing political authority to which the land has bowed. As early as the twelfth century it is one of the famous cities of Europe, likened to Rome by local poets and celebrated even by sober historians for its murmuring streams and pleasant meadows, its hill-girt site and strong defences, its beautiful churches and private dwellings, its well-stocked markets, and its extensive foreign trade. In spite of all modern changes, Rouen is still a city full of history, in the parchments of its archives and the stones of its walls, in its stately cathedral with the ancient tombs of the Norman dukes, in the glorious nave of its great abbey-church, the florid Gothic of Saint-Maclou, the richly