Front Matter
 Title Page
 General preface
 The author's preface to the English...
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The Britons
 The Anglo-Saxons
 The Danes
 Alfred's early years
 State of England
 Alfred's accession to the...
 The seclusion
 Re-assembling of the army
 The victory over the Danes
 Character of Alfred's reign
 The close of life
 The sequel

Title: The history of Alfred the Great
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00003516/00001
 Material Information
Title: The history of Alfred the Great
Alternate Title: Alfred the Great
Physical Description: <4>, 184, <4> p., : ill., map ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Cooke, Nathaniel ( Publisher )
Petter and Galpin ( Printer )
Publisher: Nathaniel Cooke
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Petter and Galpin
Publication Date: 1853
Subject: Kings and rulers -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile literature -- Great Britain -- Alfred, 871-899   ( lcsh )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1853   ( rbbin )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1853   ( rbgenr )
Biographies -- 1853   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1853
Genre: Embossed cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Biographies   ( rbgenr )
individual biography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by Jacob Abbott.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00003516
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002220815
oclc - 17248999
notis - ALG1024
 Related Items
Other version: Alternate version (PALMM)
PALMM Version

Table of Contents
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    General preface
        Page 3
        Page 4
    The author's preface to the English edition
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Table of Contents
        Page 7
    List of Illustrations
        Page 8
    The Britons
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    The Anglo-Saxons
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    The Danes
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    Alfred's early years
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    State of England
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Alfred's accession to the throne
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    The seclusion
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
    Re-assembling of the army
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    The victory over the Danes
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
    Character of Alfred's reign
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
    The close of life
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
    The sequel
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
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IT is the object of. this series of histories to present a
clear, distinct, and connected narrative of the lives of
those great personages who have in various ages of the
world made themselves celebrated as leaders among
mankind, and, by the part they have taken in the public
affairs of great nations, have exerted the widest influence
on the history of the human race. The end which the
author has had in view is twofold: first, to communicate
such information in respect to the subjects of his narra-
tives as is important for the general reader to possess:
and secondly, to draw such moral lessons from the
events described and the characters delineated as they
may legitimately teach to the people of the present age.
Though written in a direct and simple style, they are
intended for, and addressed to, minds possessed of some
considerable degree of maturity, for'such minds only

can fully appreciate the character and action which
exhibits itself, as nearly all that is described in these
volumes does, in close combination wiith the conduct and
policy of governments, and the great events of inter-
national histor- -



THE present series of historical 'emoirs will be coi-
prised, when complete, in twenty-four volumes -
twelve of these be-ing devoted to Ancient, and twelve
to english Sovereigns. The dAesgn of the author, in
the compilation of 'these works, has "been, to present to
the general reader, whether youthful br -imature, a
succinct, and accurate account of the lives and characters
of the renowned potentates that form respectively the
subjects of the volumes ; illustrating by many incidents
and details, the spirit and temper wlth which they
individually acted, and the influence which each exerted
in his day. At the same time, while each v6lunme has
thus for its subject some one sovereign or potentate, the
story of whose character and domigs it is the special
object of the volume to relate, the connection of each
story with the events which preceded anad foflowedit
is so far -shown, that each series fbrms, in some sense, a
continuous narrative; and if read. consecutively,,presents
a view of the general current of history during the
period eiibraced 'in it. Thus, the Ancient Series,
beginning, at the earliest periods, with the story of

Cyrus, and ending with that of Constantine, covers,
in some measure3 the whole a eiteuxt jgrou d. ]|f? r ad
attentively, and with proper regard to' the chronological
data that are furnished by the works themselves, it' forms
a general outline of the course of Ancient History, as
full as the limits of speae'afforded' by such a series will
allow. It is the same with the English Series-
which, commencing with the volume of Alfred, at the
earliest periods at which we have any authentic accounts
of the history of these islands, comes down through the
twelve prominent names which have been selected as the
subjects of the several volumes, to the reign of Queen
Anne. Here the series closes; for since this period the
functions of government have almost universally come
by degrees so to be transferred to legislatures and
ministries, that the history of a nation is no longer,, as it
was in former days, involved and contained in the
personal history of a sovereign. The plan on which
this series is written, is, therefore, in a great degree
inapplicable to the history of the present age.
With these explanations, the author, having made
arrangements to -this end with the publishers of the
present edition, and taken measures to secure to them
the copyright of the remaining volumes, submits his
narratives to the English public, hoping that they may
prove both entertaining and instructive to such readers
as may honour them with a perusal.
LONDON, April, 1853.









LFRED THE GREAT figures.in history
as the founder, in some sense, of the
British monarchy. Of that long succes-
sion of sovereigns who have held the
sceptre of this monarchy, and. whose
government has exerted so vast an influence
on the condition and welfare of mankind, he
SWas not, indeed, actually the first. There were
several lines of insignficant princes before him, who
S governed such portions of the kingdom as they indi-
vidually possessed, more like -semi-savage chieftains
than English tings. Alfred followed these by the principle
of hereditary right, and spent his life in laying broad and
deep the foundations on which the enormous superstructure
of the British empire- has since been reared. If the tales
respecting his characte, and d4eds which have come down to
us are at all worthy of belief, he was an honest, conscintiou .
on" e B o.

disinterested, and far-seeing statesman. -If the system. of
hereditary succession would always furnish such sovereigns
for mankind, the principle of loyalty would have held its plaee
much longer in the world than it is now likely to do, And
great nations, now republican, would have been saved a vast
--eal of ,trouble and toil expended inidthe election of their
rulers. .
Although the period of King Alfred's refgn seems a very
remote one as we- look back toward it from the present
day, it was still eight hundred years after the Christian era
that he ascended his throne. Tolerable authentic history
of the British realm mounts up through these eight hundred
years to the time of Julius Cesar. Beyond this the ground
is covered by a series of romantic and fabulous tales, pre-
tending to be history, which extend back eight hundred years
further to the days of Solomon; so that a. much longer
portion of the story of Britain comes before thman since the
days of Alfred. In respect, however, to al-.t~ut pertains to
the: interest and importance of the .narrative, the exploits
andithe arrangements of Alfred are the begbin..
The histories, in fact of all nations, ancient and modern,
iun back always into misty- regions ,of romance and fable.
Before arts and letters arrived at such a state of progress as
that public events could be recorded in writing,l tradition
w as the only means, of handing down. the memory of events
from generation tu generation; and tradition, among semi-
savages, changes 'everything it touches. into romantic and
marvellous fiction.
The stories connected with the -earliestl discovery and
settlement, of Great Britain-afford very good illustrations of
the nature of these fabulous tales. The following may serve
as a specimen :-

.BC.- 80]3 '' ':. 3 ag It.
*At the clkne of thee Tifan: warS AlaeIas- retired witlk .
company of Trojans, who escaped from the' hity Ai~h hliia
a after a gre saiety e~ aove entues, wi.ech Oe has
ireated, he launled aad settled im Italy. ie ir.arpmaeesef
Wit hee, thAisda-ae omrammeoAndes who.li.lOga- contry.
Brt,, Biatu bh th, JfEneas igkat-gradea
One days his Brstuws was humten in: the 6 i bed
sacidentaly Mllted bist father which a arm w;. Ia Mis Aimer
was at that time- hg of Aba-a rege of Italyneuar theO
spot on which Rome was sabseiwqueiy bn tfi-aandi the aeid-
dersu brought' Bratu under sEef stMspicio, an l ed
him to such dag ei a, t&,At he e fte fr nl themm eoiiry. Af-ter
various wanderings he at last reached Greece, where he
collected a number of Trojan fbSfswe;,. whom he found
roaming about, the county, and. fonaed. thei- intoe asn army.
With this half-anvajgeforcebeiattaeked aking- f the country
named Pandrasus. Brutus was successful in the war, and
Pandrasus was -taken, pisoner. This compellbe Panidiasus
to sue for peace, and peace was concluded on the following
very extraordinary terma:-- .
Pandrasus was to give Bltia his dai htek~rtI for
a wife, and a fleet of slips as her bwryT;. Brutius, on the
other hand, was to take his wife and all his fol owers on
board. of his, fleet and sail away amL seek aw home.in Bsome
ikxer quarter eof the globe. This plaa of. a mIn arch'san P.-
chasing his -own venama and peace for hi realm from a band
oaf romning robbers by offering" the leader of them. Us
daughter sor a-wife, however strange to oiw. ideas, was very
chaietev fiso tteo times. Innogea must hiwe founiid ii a

IPrr soms aatit of slk e.e ea-ucee S i tbidetwar
Sema history ofAleander. -
B 2

hard alternative to choose between such a husband and such
a father.
Brutus, with his fleet and his bride, betook themselves to
sea, and within a short time .landed -on a deserted island,
where they found the ruins of a city. Here there was an
ancient temple of Diana, and i an image of the goddess,
which image was ended with the? power of uttering oracular
responses to those who consulted it with proper ceremonies
and forms. Brutus consulted this oracle on the question in
what land he should find a place of final settlement. His
address to it was in ancient verse, which some chronicler
has turned into English rhyme a sfollows:-

Goddess of shades and huntress, who at will
Walk'st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep, -
On-Thy third reign, the earth, look how and tell
What land, what seat of rest thou bidd'st me seek ?'~*

To which the oracle returned the following answer:

SFar to the west, in the ocean wide,
Beyond the realm of Gaul a land there lies--
Sea-girt it lies-where giants dwelt'of old.
Now void- it fits thy people; thither bend
Thy course; there hlalt thou find a lasting home."

It is scarcely necessary to say that this meant Britain.
Brutus, following the directions which the oracle had given
him, set sail from the island, and proceeded to the westward
through the Mediterranean, Sea. He arrived at the Pillars
of Hercules. This was the name. by which the Rock, of
Gibraltar and the corresponding promontory on the opposite
coast, across the straits, were called in those days; these cliffs
-having been built, according to .ancient tales, by Hercules, as
monuments set up to mark the extreme limits of his western

wanderings. Brutus passed though the strait, and then,
turning northward, coasted along the shores of Spain.
At length,, after enduring great privations and suffering,
and encountering the extreme, dangers to which their frail
barks were necessarily exposed from the surges which roll in
perpetually from the broad Atlantic Ocean upon the coast of
Spain and into the Bay of Biscay, they arrived safely on the
shores of Britain. They landed and explored the interior.
They found the island robed in the richest .drapery of fruit-
fulness and verdure, but it was unoccupied by any thing
human. There were wild beasts roaming in the forests, and
the remains of a race of giants in aens and caves--monsters
as diverse from humanity as the wolves. Brutus. and his
followers attacked all these occupants of the, land. They
drove the wild beasts into the mountains of Scotland and
Wales, and killed the giants. The chief of them, whose name
was Gogmagog, was hurled by one of Brutus's follower from
the summit of one of the chalky cliffs which bound the island
into the sea.
The island of Great Britain is in the latitude of Labrador,
which, on our side of the continent, is the synonym for almost
perpetual ice and snow. Still these wandering Trojans found
it a region of inexhaustible verdure, fruitfulness, and beauty;
and as to its extent, though often, in modern times, called a
little island, they found its green fields sad luxuriant forests
extending very far and wide over the sea.. A length of nearly
six hundred miles would seem almost to merithenameo
continent; and the dimensions of this detached outpost of the
habitable surface of-the earth would never have been deemed
inconsiderable, had it not been that the people, by the great-
ness of their exploits -of which the whole world has' been the
theatre--have made the phlysscal onions of their territory



J117 800.1.

14 ALFRED -^TME GREAT. [Di.m 8m.
appear eo small and insigitent in i. T'o Brtes
and his.acmpanionis the land appeaei d world. .ItUsaeeamly
four \hundred miles in breadethatt he .laee e here 'theylan ed,
and, watering northward, they found it extending, in. ai~
mdiTMni.ihbed beauty and fruitfilness, further than they had
the disposition to -explore it. They might have gone north-
ward until the twilight scarcely dilsappered in the stnanier
nights, and have found the -same verdre and beauty con-
tinkting to the end. .There were broad and undulating plains
in the southern regions of the islaUnd; and in the northern,
green -mountains and romantic glens. But al, plains, vJleys,
and im-.onat wRere fertile and beautifI, and teeming -with
abundant mea6enance for sfloes, for iherds, and for Iman.
Bru3ts ;a~ a tablisiet h itself upon 'the island
with ai his followers, and founded a kingdaaom tiJ ,wr
wh"ih he reigned .as the founder of a.dynaty. Endless tales
are told o-f the lives, and exploits, dan qnarrel of bis
successor downto the time of Cesar. o~loicting Claimants
arose continually to dispute with each other for the possessia
oif power wars were-k ade by one tAri3ebponuanother-; Cdiies,
as they were called-though probably, in fact, they were
onTy rude eEoLectioeI of iovels-weretrbailt; fortresses were
wounded; mad rivers wame. nasmed fri m princes or prineesses
drowned i3ai tem, iXn nicideatal jouaneyts, oCr Ily thl -ioldence
of Wival clai t toeir tihroes. Th0e M prwtw iei d records
eatain a i va anniber of legends of -very tt*e iateamet o
vaSlue, I iashe ihPeder will ready iadMiait, whe -WOe tell hiia
that the anous story of aKing u eare hie "aetah
in' l t the whole'coDeAction. ta is hisa-
. -there swas ae inig mi the See h aaitmed 3Lear. re foiandia
the aity new eptled Leiceser. 4e liatee alnghtaq',
whose iausesiiarae45amallessteanaa^ aode Cowdieiytfc

B.C. 800. IME TWB. IS
was her father's Ciaomarite e(idA Me was, however, jealoC s
of thie a*lAation iof h8xem all--andt me day to'hedaed tmesi
to him, and aasked them f:or some as a-mse ,of their love.
The two eldest -e paiited ..by -makig -tse stftse a
protestations. They loved their father a -housant & imes
betteraiha~neirewiv souls. They could not express, theyeaid,
the ardtEuramd strengthodf their waha i nd calmed eaon
and earth tb witness that these -protestations were iMcere.
Cordiella, al this time, stood meeldy and silesntly by, amd
when' er father asked her how it wa~ s with her, she tetlied
-" Father, mny love toward you is as -ay duty bids. What
can a father ask, or a daughter promise : inee2 They -wh o
pret"ed beyond this only fitterr"
The king, who- was old and icasl&ldish, was mUI6h please4
with the manitestaition of, love odffbered by yGomiUa A
Regana, a-nd thought that Ithe hoaest Cordiella was hear~-
less and cold. He created her with greater and greter
neglect, and fiaally decided to leave 4her wmhoubw oaany portion
whatever, while he -divided his kingdom between the other
two, having previously married them to princes f Thigh
ranlk. JCordiella was, however, at last mame choice of for
a wife by %a Iriench prince, who, it sBeemsa Tew better
than thie old king hAow muich moire to he relied mia xpvas
aimpetending and honest truth -'i y e~mptyhd. eB e aigaaz.t
professdon. -.e married the Lportioness coMQardiei,:; d took
her with him to the Cionmltiena.
Tbhe did liniEg -mnw having given up hiis kingdom tot ikis
eldest daughters, they anaaged, by arziefalend.amauiing,
t get emarythifng ese aswaiy Irom v.iit s 'otht ihege
wihomy dependent pon thl an m, id -had -to live with theium by
tELm- 'Thi.s ap; stot a31W f.iE at A&Ae *nwtiatiha rs iek
husbands, trhey mp s nay iaoignities andaTd fronts npoea

16 ALFRED THE (~REAT. [A.D. 63.
him, that his life at length became an intolerable burden,
and, finally, hle was compelled to leave the realm altogether,
and, in his destitution and distress, he went for refuge and
protection to his rejected daughter Cordiella. he received
lier father with the greatest alacrity and affection. -he
raised an army to restore him to his rights, and went in
person with him to iEngland to assist him in recovering them.
She was successful. The old king took possession of his
throne again, and reigned in peace for the remainder of
his days. The story is, of itself, n g very remarkable,
though Shakspeare has immortalized it by making it the
subject of one of his tragedies.
Centuries passed away, and at length the great Julius
Caesar, who was extending the Roman power in every
direction, made his way across the Channel, and landed
in England. The particulars 0o this invasion are described
in our history of Julius CEesar. The Romans retained pos-
session of the island, in a greater or less degree, for four
hundred years. -
They did. not, however, hold it in peace all this time.
They became continually involved in difficulties and contests
with the native Britons, who could ill brook the oppressions
of such merciless masters as Roman generals always proved
in the provinces which they pretended to govern. One of
the most formidable rebellions that the Romans had to
encounter during their disturbed and troubled sway .in
Britain was led on by a woman. Her name was Boadicea.
Boadicea, like almost all other heroines, wag coarse, and
repulsive in appearance. She was tall and masculine in
form,i the tones, of her' voice were harsh, ,ind she had the
countenance of a savage. Her hair was yellow. It might
have been bIeautiful if it had been iieatly arranged, and had

A.D. 63.] THE BRITONS.. 17
shaded a face which possessed the. gentle expression that
belongs properly to woman. It would then have been, called
golden. As it was, hanging loosely below .her waist, and
streaming in the wind, it made the wearer only look the
more frightful. Still Boadicea was not, by any means,
indifferent to the appearance she. made in the eyes of
beholders. She evinced her desire to -make a favourable
impression upon others, in her own peculiar way,. it is true,
but in one which must have been effective, considering
what sort of beholders they were'in whose eyes she figured.
She was dressed in a gaudy coat, wrought of various colours,
with a sort" of mantle buttoned over it. She wore a great
'gold chain about her neck, and held an ornamented spear
in her hand. Thus equipped, she appeared at the head
of an army of a hundred thousand men, and gathering
them around her, she ascended a mound of earth and
harangued them--that is, as many as could stand within
reach of her voice--arousing them to sentiments of revenge
against their, hated oppressors, and urging them to the
highest pitch of determination and courage for the approach-
ing struggle. Boadicea had. reason, to deemn the Romans
her implacable foes. They had robbed her of her-treasures,
deprived her of her kingdom, imprisoned her, scourged her,
and inflicted the worst possible injuries upon her daughters.
These things had driven the wretched mother to a perfect
frenzy of hate, and aroused her to this desperate struggle
for redress and revenge. But all was in vain.. In encoun-
tering the spears of Roman soldiery, she was encountering
the very hardest and sharpest steel that a cruel world could
furnish. Her army was conquered, and she killed herself
by taking poison- i3her despair.
By strugglesi such -as-these the contest between the


Romans Unm the Britons s was carried on for nany genera-
tions, theRolmans conquering at every *Tial- mnatl, at length,
the Britons learned to msbmit, -wfetht Tm arter resistance
to their sway.' In fa ct, there gradually came upon the
stage, during -the progress of these centuries, -a new power,
eating as an enemy to both--he Picts and Seots--hardes
of lawless baabarians who inhabited the mountiiis and
morasses of Scotland and Ireland.. These terrible :s
made continual irruptions into the southern country for
plunder-burning and destroying, as they retired, whatever
they could not carry away. They ived -in impregnable and
ahnEst inaccessible fastnesses, among 4ark glens and pre-
cipitous moiuntains, and upon gloomy islands surrmnded by
iron-bound coasts and stormy seas. The Roman legions
madre repeated attempts to hunt them out of these retreats,
but with very little success. At length a-Iine oaf fortifed
posts was established across the- island, near where the
boundary line now lies between elsgand and Seo-tland;
and by guarding this line, the Roman generals, -who had
charge of Btitain, attempted to protect the 'inhabitauts of
the southern country, wlh had learned at length to submit
peaceably to their sway.
SOne of the most m emorble e vemizafiich acCamed airing
the time that the .Romxas held paasesionm of the i~dand of
Britain, was the visit of one of the emperors wo this northBer~,
extremity s~e his dominions. The name of this emperi r
was Lteverus. He -was power&il and prespeous at home,
but Mh s life was embittered by tne great calamity--he
disseoate character anid the perpetual quaards of his sons.
To remove -them from -Bome, where they disgiaced both
themselves and their father by their vicious lines, aid the
heasciMa risal"ry and hatred they bere to eS- oaheiev ev ergs



A 2i.] 3

pleamed aai-exnoair^ to &'Thiain, taking flhem with tim,-in
the hope of turning their minds into new ehamwels .f
thought, -and awa keding -in -them some new and audbler
At thae time wihen everup undertook ttis expedition he
was -aTdvinced -in age -anAEd -very hifirm. He ouftered aniueh
from the gou-t, so that hoe wasuinanle toU trael by anidinry
c=nveynce, and was 'eorne, -aecordingly, almost .)iR a. e -way
upon a Utter..* ~Ee -ressed the -Channel -wii -his .Wr ;. .mand,
leaving @ op -of ius -onMa-in command in ithe oakk &.part of
the island, he advanced wit the other, at :the head :ft an
enornous force, -deerminede to pusk boldly -frwaid into the
heart of BSotland, ,and to bring :te war "with :lte Pias and
soots 4to an effectual end. -
ie ajse, however, with verypartial.meces. Hi.~s s lders
became .enangled -in hogs',admorasses,-hey feR .into mabrus-
cades, they suffered every degree of privation aind hardship for
want of waer ana}of food, iid-were 'ontionalMy entrapped by
their enemules- in sitintions wheree they had to fgiht in man&
aarbers, and a a great disadvantage. Then, too, the Aaged
and feeble general was kept in aiaintia i fever of awdety and
trouble .byiBssiamas,14he otwhoml *ietiiad brought mwit himn
to the inmth. The disso tenesa and violence of hisad character
were aotcihanged by thehage of~scene. Me fo.mnediplrtsand
Onispiraci against his father's aBthority, heradisedaines
in th-e aum he headed ioa and he was fainaiy dete hd i-
a jplaa for atuaiy assassinaking his -father. Seers whe
he disonwered this lat e ity of wicfed ess, weni er his
Bon to eoame to his imperial teint. He laida akeA swerd
before him, maud then, fter bitterlyy eraphng^^ im wai hm
muadatifui A a ^gratl ae lict, lie. sai.d- ,M you wisk to
iMaa m domeitn,. Miierae stad, ild, ilfim, r d hem pleess.

~II~ ~E~t~3P3~rrli~s~

20: .ALRED THE GREAT. [A.D. 206.
You are young and strong, and can do. it easily. I am,ready.
Strikete the blow."
1 Of course JBassanius shrunk from his father's reproaches,
'and went awayvwithout committing the crime to which he
waathus reproachfully invited. But his "character remained
unchanged; and this constant trouble, added to all the other
difficulties which Severus encountered, prevented; his accom-
plishiiig his object of thoroughly conquering his northern foes.
fe7miiade a sort of peace with them, and retiring south to the
line- f fortified posts which had been previously established,
he d termined-o-aaBkeTi-i fied, and certa boundary by
build upon it a permanent wall. He put the whole force
of his armyupon the work, and in one or two years, as is said,
he completed the structure. It is known in history as the
Wall of Severus; and so solid, substantial, and permanent
was the work, that the traces of it have not entirely disap-
peared to the present day.
The wall extended across .the island, \from the mouth,
of the Tyne, on the German Ocean, to, the Solway Frith
-nearly seventy miles. It was twelve feet high, and eight.
feet wide. It was faced with substantial masonry on both
sides, the intermediate space being likewise filled in' ith
stone. When it crossed bays or morasses, piles were driven,
to serve as a foundation. Of course, such a waUHas this, by
itself, would be no defence. It was to be garrisoned by
soldiers-being intended, in fact, only &as a means to enable
a smaller number of troops than would otherwise be neces-.
sary, to- guard the line. For these soldiers there were built
great fortresses at intervals along the wall, wherever a
situation was found favourable for such structures. These
were called stations. The. stations were occupied .by gar-
risons of troops, and small towns of, artificers and labourers

A.D. 206.] TH. E BRITONS. 21
soon sprung up around d them. Between the stations, at
smaller intervals, were other smaller fortresses called castles,
intended as places of defence and rallying points in case of
ai attack, but-not for garrisons of any considerable number
of mein. Then, 'between the castles, at smaller intedvals
still, were turrets, "used.- as watc-towers and posts for
sentinels. Thus the whole line of the wall was everywhere
defended by armed men. The whole number thus employed
in the defence of this extraordinary rampart was said to be
ten thousand. There was a broad, deep, and continuous

ditch on the northern side of the wall to make the impedi-
ment still greater for the enemy, and a spacious and well-
constructed military road on the southern side, on. which
troops, stores, wagons, and baggage of every kind could be
readily transported along the line from one end to the other.
The wall was a good defence as long as Roman soldiers
,remained to guard it. But in process of time-about two
centuries after Severus's -day-the Roman empire itself


began. to. decline,, even in the verz seat and centre of its
power ; and. then~to. preserve their own capital from destruc-
tion, the government were obliged to call their distantvarmies
home.t The wall was left to the. Britona; but they could not
defend it.. The Picts and. Scots, finding out. the change,
renewed their assaults.. They battered down the- castle;
they made breaches here and there in the. wall; they built
vessels,, and, passing, round by sea across the mouth of the
Solway Frith. and of the. River Tyne, they renewed their old
incursions for plunder and destruction. The Britons, in
extreme distress, sent again and again to recall the Romans
to their aid, and they did, in fact, receive from them some
occasional and temporary succourr- At length, however, all
hope of help from thi quarter failedand the Briton*feB
their condition desperate, were gelAae toiei m v
dangerEw a m tas o win -ga!XrE....vak


LAMD. 4365..

A.. 448. 1 'T THE ANIFILO-SAXONS. 23



NY one who wil look around upon the
families of his acquaintance will observe
that family characteristics and resemblances
prevail not only in.respect to stature, form,
expression 6f countenance, and other out-
ward and- bodily tokens, but 'also in regard to, the
constitutionaltemperaments and capacities of the souL
Sometimes we finda group in which high intellectual
powers and great energy of action- prevail for many
successive generations aa& inz al the branches into which
th&e origin.ml stock divides; in. other cases, the hereditary
tendency ia tb gentlenes and harmlessnesas of character.with
a f-ulldevelopment of all the feelings anda sensiitiesz of the
soul., Others, again, exhibit congenital tendencies to great
physical strengAth andhardihiood .and to- powers of muscular
exertion and endurance. Thesedifferences, notwithstanding
all the exeeptibns and irreg&ularities connected withtheimare
obviously, where they exist, deeply seated and permanent.
They depend, very slightly luon any mere externaL causes.
They have on the contrarry,their foundatiokin some Wkidien
jrinciple connected with the. origin of life, and with the
mode of its tra nsissio0nfionE parent to offspring, wica the
researches of philosophers have, never yet been able to


These same constitutional and congenital peculiarities
which we see developing themselves all around us in
families, mark, on a greater scale the characteristics of
the different nations of the earth, and in a degree much
higher still, the-several great and distinct races into which
the whole human family seems to be divided. Physiologists
consider that there are five of these great races, whose
characteristics, mental as well as bodily, are distinctly,
strongly, and permanently marked. These characteristics
descend by hereditary succession from father to son, and
L though education and outward influences may modify them,
they cannot essentially change them. Compare, for example,
the Indian and the African races, each of which has occu-
pied for a thousand years a continent of its own, where
they have been exposed to the same variety of climates,
and as far as possible to the same general outward influ-
ences. How entirely diverse from each other they are, not
only in form, colour, and other physical marks, but m all
the tendencies and characteristics of the soul! One can no
more be changed into the other, than a wolf, by being
tamed and domesticated, can be made a dog, or a dog, by
being driven into the forests, be transformed into a tiger.
The difference is still greater between either of these races
and the Caucasian race. This race might probably be called
the European -race, were it not that some Asiatic and some
African nations have sprung from it, as the Persians, the
*Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Carthaginians, and, in modern
-times, the Turks. All the -nations of this race, whether
European or African, have been distinguished by the same
physical marks in the-'conformation of the head .and the
colour of the skin, and still more by those-traits of character
-the intellect, the energy, the spirit of determination arid


[AAD. '449.s


pride-i-which, ar .ram Ai*S their existence t4o oeutwad
iratmances, Jhaie nalwways, in all .ages, anade -al Atward
oirtnumstances bend to them. Tlat &ams Awse ebecewamen
greai and tible sp nim s of hiunanmy armeqg Athe 4Afican
mace, ior exafnple, no 'one an diy; at tshiitp re is a
marked, and tfed, .and permane at ftioa d eae
between them mand the Canucasian race seems evident Anom
this fact, that for t hwo aheaEmpA sears each has :beld5s t own
ceatimenit, tnditstaed-, in a g-reat dgrea r b:the eset .of
nmanfcin ad-;ndwhile, during all this 4vieq aa itaion ltxe
one aunAhas nisea, gso .far Aaiwisow,.ablvesheary lest
stage of ciwBisatia= 4hebe have been anwse Aian nftyeatie y-
disutint and iAn4epaedent tivdlsations iaginated And tAElly
developed ia Abe another. Eor thmmEe toiisad rears the
armasians, race have messtimnfi, and in traits laod the :same indemitebe prosRef. l* MalalitieB.

Ienae, no washing aia, as night ,of iakapcasB,
i 1.verai awd glea eer been able to .feqp 41
long :i qdegadafcien or bwatariszm. Thefe s to&tjjew a
rbamrSous eqppltohe he found in the wiuale :race, and these
-has not beeano fr sa tjeala Byeans.

have signalized the Jltortyof the
y Ltuisoanmch of theuJnmann iuyeytwe gh seeniiSecele-
aity to ^ery age -in which Sheravse :e l wa4,ad4 wsery
country that-thyJhave ever peasesse4,b1 aiuaereat deed, or
iliscoren, r achievement, which AIie-Hri>naleraia.1lPergies
Jave oms s Eg^tialaq,4,hpag-4*110

now as they werI when tat cam 4. -. agg.

,J.D;.- -9.3

As Phoenicians, they constructed ships, perfected navigatiooi
anid explored, without compass or chart, every known sea0
AA Greeks, they modelled architectural embellishments, an
cut sculptures in marble, and wrotepoems and history, which
have been ever since the adiniration of th6 world. As
Romans, they carried a complete' and perfect military
organisation over fifty nations and a hundred millions of
people, with one supreme mistress over all, the ruins ofl
whose splendid palaces and monuments have not yet passed!
away. Thus has this race gone on, always distinguishing
itself, by energy, activity, and intellectual power, wherever if
has dwelt, whatever language it has spoken, and in whatever
period of the world it has lived. It has invented printing,
and filled every country that it occupies with permanent,
records 'of the past, accessible to all. It has explored the
heavens, and reduced to precise and exact calculations all
the complicated-motions there. It-has ransacked the earth,
systematized, arranged, and classified the vast melange of
plants, and animals,and mineral products to be found upon
its surface. It makes steam and falling water do more than
half the work necessary for feeding' and clothing the human
race; and the howling winds of the ocean, the very emblems
of resistless destruction and terror, it steadily employs in
interchanging the products of the world, and bearing the
kneans of comfort'and plenty- to every clime. ,
SThe Caucasian race- has thus, in all ages, and in all the
varieties bf condition inwhich the different branches of ift
have been- placed, -evinced the same great characteristics,
marking the existence of some innate and constant consti-
tutional supetUioity-;- and yet, in the different branches
subordinated ligerences appear, which are- to be accounted'
for, perhaps, partly by difference of circumstances, and partly,

A.D. 449.3 THE ANGLO-SAXONS. ,- 27
perhaps, by similar constitutional diversities-divers~iies by
.which one branch is distinguished from other branches, as
the whole race is from the other races with which we-'have
compared them. Among these branches, we, Anglo-Saxons
Ourselves, claim for the Anglo-Saxons the' superiority over-
all the others.
S The Anglo-Saxons commenced their career as pirates
and robbers, and as pirates and robbers of the' most' des-
perate and dangerous description. In fact, the. character

which the Anglo-Saxons have obtained in modern times
for energy and enterprise, and for desperate daring in
their conflicts with foes, is no recent fame. The pro-
genitors of the present race were celebrated everywhere,
and every where feared and dreaded, not only in the' days&
b1f Alfred, but several centuries before. All the historians
of those days that speak of them at all, describe them as
universally distinguished above their neighbours for : their
energy and vehemence of character; their mental and phy-
sical superiority, and for the wild and daring expeditions to'
c 2


whitcShteir spirit lt enterpdise ma wefivity were coztimarnly
iarmpeln-themn. paotb orth on the -watet' oef -the German OceanNm r F? the
BOtWe ^ea on mmenErltions. for eonqueet wor $inAer. Aike
ar preset; posterity on -.Ae tmBritih f i es sn en the shores
of -the Atlantic, .tey cared not, in these voyages, wfsteher
it was suBmmer .or witer, eal3m or form. MEn fact, t-hey
sailed alien in tempestIs and ~S~wee by ahdice, so as to
ame ommen heir enemies hle wmre eneapectedly. They
woul4-tuild sniall vessels, or rather boats, of osiers, covering
them with skins, and in fleets of these frail floats they
would sally forth among the hotling winds and foaming
surges of the German Ome-, & O( se expeditions, they
all embarked as in a ime- a-d felt a common
interest. The leaders" d wme .*atf toils and exposures
of the men, and the men ,teik pah 1i he councils and plans
of the leaders. their ilgme id activity, and their
resistless courage aa'artdou c bied w li their cool and
calculating sag'ar;iig emean : ii i a.n -every attempt.
If they fought, i ..eonquela r S p ~s. -pursued their
enemies, they were sure to overtake then; if they re-
treated, they were sure to make their escape. They were
dithed t -e lose ad. mlwing lress, and we-e .their bair
long asds iaagig boat their shoaiders; taa they had the
ar ;as*f4eirdeoemend&ts uhwe no_0w, f s citrvingetnd fabri-
assinigenersM endh af orter ieoBSfenzehinand wokmandhip,
as o ie -tie, non this sinort ae, -ga gred a-antaaage

iWa tia Stheeat wan s ro enaftSkMRIe-e Tiilaalty 6 between i isg
peaBitsp Ae e 4flu rale., enaly forma, at ike aetenOeM
8seo egnih'id&ag y do represents itE at- the present day. 'fOne
aasettiseaibsem se aintnes of their ideas d' coajtgm& &idelity,

[AM. 40M.


A.&D 444 Tfl ANUO-SAXONS. 29
an&d thea3tera amt rigid& sevwity with -whibib a&t Vtb i f
temaile irtue wae judgLd. lThe woman who blaktd te
marriag-e wms was cn lled 4to a hbnu ensel. fmar M bad
ap-, them burned m public, -ad'&the acompie'! Of ter eirn m
was ezeutaed ovetr IreaBht Thi other poifi t tson sems-
blane betwenathe;ancient AIngl.-lSamnhs nad r AIcarinmetmern
desceuldants waiten&r inprmtt ie^ p iThereonilnewve
endane any limgliike umSKip'Q^ Thottlhe aotiiedoveT-
powered; they were neer cmiqusad Though. i pri-
soneir and canae native, the induEmiafblet .i4FBt whi&t
animated thes cai& nn le ssifr iwfir a ard .
Romanu used oeime to- compek their p.idsueve to
fight. as gadiatora& to maoae apectaclesa fstar aamseaient
of the. people of itet cat^y oane. eeeain; thirty Jmgkw.
Saxonsi who had. been taken captive- and were reserved
for this fate, strangled themsehns reat taer I&=w sfinit tac
thi indignity- The whole nafidn manifested, em am Aeca-
sionsma very aauneiig: aati uenraiai.ii wilty emsvnes-
ing every possible danger and Braing mery umnceB*4
ill rather Sxawa m s ra submit to afty posuww -sept
such as they had themselves creatted for iteir owTm anidi;
andj th deraledaaetsj wthe.iler tI Jhbghtan er
eaince hmidn Abe ante spiriptmiaatisA
Swathe Iamndig of a frwbaoat-Iada ofi these diam-
*maad and feaeoides bansariab os Wsmialid lmalmad naer le
mmnth off the Thames, which Datwit, the9 1& gmAt evens*
of the aririvak of the- Aigla--Scamonsa hi ag-te wie Ii
a aeelebrated i.t Engliskh history as -tie eAeM e wBihkmiC
theba reaL msL true bgiingw ai British gsaitnas amd
pmwe, It i&s tr tha ie istaor of Eiagand gesr bm
beyond this-I pen&i to nammIaSbB as -n Ib vt; donen 1Ae
weatsi e eoame


the aboriginal Britons, and the incursions and mAraud-
ings of the Picts and Scots; but all these aborigines
passed gradually--after the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons
-off the stage. The old stock was wholly displaced.
The present monarchy has sprung entirely from its Anglo-
Saxon original so that all which precedes the arrival of
this new race is introductory anrd preliminary, like the
history, in this country, of the native American tribes before
the coming of the English Pilgrims. As, therefore, the
landing of the Pilgrims on the Plymouth Rock marks the
true commencement of the history of the American Repub-
lic, po that of the Anglo-Saxon adventurers on the island
of Thanet represents and marks the origin of the British
monarchy. The "event, therefore, stands as a great and
conspicuous landmark, though now dim and distant in the
remote antiquity in which it occurred.
And yet the event, though. so wide-reaching and grand
in its bearings and relations, and in the vast consequences
which ,have flowed and which -still continue to flow from it,
was apparently a minute and unimportant circumstance at
the time when it occurred. There were only three vessels
at the first arrival. Of their size and character the accounts
vary. Some of these accounts say they contained three
hundred men; others seem.to state that the number which
arrived at the firstlanding was three thousand. This, how-
ever, would seem impossible,, as no three vessels built in
those days could convey so large,a number. We must
suppose, therefore, that that number ij meant to include
those who came- at several of the earlier expeditions, and
which were grouped .by the historian together,, or else that
several other vessels orftransports accompanied the three,
which history has specially commemorated as the first arriving.

[A~.D. 440.


In. fact, very little can nnw: be known in respect to the.
form and capacity of the vessels in which these half-barbarous
navigators roamed in those days over the British, seaa... Their
name, indeed, has come down. to us, and that is nearly all.
They were called cyules;. though; the same. is sometinies
spelled, in. the ancient chronicles, ceols, and in. other,ways.
They were obviously, vessels of considerable capacity,. and
were of. such construction and such. strength as to stand the
roughest marine exposures. They were accustomed, to brave
fearlessly- every commotion, and -to encounter .every danger,
raised either by winter tempests or summer gales in the rest-
less waters of.the German Ocean.
The names of the commanders who headed.the expedition
which first landed- have been preserved, and they have
acquired, as might have been expected, a very wide celebrity.
They were- Hengist and Horsa. Hengist and Horsa were
The place where they landed-was the island of Thanet.
Thanet is a tract of land at the. mouth of the Thames, on
the southern side---a sort of promontory.extending into bhe
sea, and forming the cape at, the south side of the estuary
made by the mouth of the river. The extreme point of, land
is called the. North Foreland, which, as, it is the point that
thousands of vessels coming, out of the Thames have. to round
in proceeding southward; on voyages, to. France, .to the Medi-
terranean, to .the, Indies, and to America, is very familiarly
known to. navigators throughout the world. The islud',l of
Thanet, of. which this North Foreland is the extreme: point,
ought scarcely to be. called, an island, since it, forms* in ffct,
a portion pof the; mainland, being separated -frp n it only. a
narrow creek- or stream, which, ina former ages, indeed, was
wide and& navigable but is. now nearly choked:up .and oblie-.

Ac.D. .449.]

nate& by the, sndsR and the- sediment whih after being
brngV&t rie intoa iin
PIa thea time et Niengist and. Hersathe eneek waE so ca.i
*emblie, thakila mouth finished a& xffieit harbour fir

Af now lhoweve aaODIem distance :inlandt. .
There isf somaM Tum taunty hi respect to the mo tivewhich
lked Hengist and Horsatto- make their first descent npon the
Selfish acowat. Inethew they came onone of their cw tenm a
ntical expedtio owere dbibvei oa the eoazt accidIentay
by stress of weather, or were- ianitedJ- comeS bl the. British
king~. cannot new be sacc eatey asseIbaie udh a hio parties
off Anglad-Samns hadt undenubtediy aofttn landed before unKder
som-Ewha* asimila- erimmattance, asad then afer brief iiacur-
sinieatatoainteriia 3iad rewembarked on hoard their ships,
and sailed away. In this case, however, there was ascertain
peealiar an ed sersy state 'of thingjra ithas political
conditions of the. country- in. which they hadL handed; which
resautred ir frstoprotaEtiang their stay; ad,.4fitaliyr in esta b-
itahing them ao faediy awd permnaentLy it the la di -that
thdyanudtheir taliswesya ind- deLscennlatay soon. became the
eataeh sEastes afit, .and.iave remained iii psasessout ta the
pni'esent day' 'Thweip manwsmaacm were aitiXws;m---
The namaI of tiheA Idirg ofBeituAinmaz thuai period& was Vori
Atginin. &At tkhe time when the Angloia.naw azived40ha and
his gpFrnmaent wran nearly overwhelmeds mith. the, prseure
etf dif¬ iMa-dingsh fioMn the innmsibas of- the
3?its adSkatenst audt st-i riadstie of -ema.onse the
etdonled. i an aai eneIa y 1y- tiistimmihewe tiahe
da4i kkhgeSi^ laa -ItiIk niun;ld aidawas Aim Uat ld s candmnaafkn


[:A .-.494W.


himself upr to diisipation and vicea-endeawouring, lae,1 deo.
praved seamern on- av weck, to, draww hiV mentaL distress i -
animal sensations o ple asur. Such mem azeready to seek
relief or resenemer fwm;their danger frima any quarer andi at
aay price.. Veltigiern, instead of looking upon. the Angljn
Sa-on. intruders as new. enemies,, e.onGeived thek ide, of
appealing to them foe sucour. EHE& offered to, convey to
them a lhge tEactof tsnritory in the partaof tha ihaad where
they had leadednd ,o a~ cadition of their aiding, him in hisi
contests with hiasother fes.
Mengist and. Horsa acceded ta thia proposal. They
tasched their foRaweaintw battle, ani dee FVorti~ersas
enemies.. Tl~ey snt;ac roes the sewE to their native land, and
invited new aventduerato.jpir them,- Vortigernnwas greatly.
leased with the success of his expedient. The Picts and
Scots were driven bhack. to- their fastnesses in the remote
mountains o the nalrthiand- the. ritone oren maare possessed,
their land imt peacebg y means, of the protection and theasid
which their new confedeates&afforaed them.
In the meantime, the- Anglo-aons were .establhing
and strengtchenikg themnaelvke very rapidly i i Lae part, of the
island whidt Voetigerni had assigned them--which wasm,as
the reader wilt mndestand ronta wuhat has already been said
i m respect t to th plea:e of their landing tht seuth-eastern
part--a regianm which new constitutes the equity of Kent.
In addition, tootei the. nstu~a inreaeLaf- their power fem
thaincrease of theirnumherasand their- military frme,Hengist
eontrived,~:fi. the steryis tn;ue to swelkhinEawan peasonaL ktinla
eace, by meate -af a -matdnimoniaL alliance; wMhi~hl he Iha the
adroitness tiw effect Sl hadi a daughter naited4 ewena,
She wa e- nry beautiful .aat aceomp lieed.. aiengt Wient s
her to, come to EngUlad.- .Wen. shwhad aFMnived,a he madt

AeD. 449j1


sumptuous entertainment for King Vortigern, inviting also
to it, of course, many other distinguished guests. In the
midst of the feast, when the king was in the state of high.
excitement produced -on such temperaments by wine and
convivial pleasure, Rowena. came in to offer him more wine.
Vortigern was powerfully struck, as Hengist had anticipated,
with her grace and beauty. Learning that she was Hengist's
daughter, he demanded her hand. Hengist at first declined,
but, after sifflciently stimulating the monarch's eagerness by
his pretended opposition, he yielded, and the king became
the general's son-in-law. This is the story which some of
the old chroniclers tell. Modern historians are divided in
respect to believing it. Some think it is fact, others fabe.
At all events, the power of Hengist and Horsa gradually
increased as years passed on, until the Britons began to be
alarmed at their growing strength and multiplying numbers,
and to fear lest these new friends should prove in the end
more formidable than the terrible enemies whom they had
come to expel. Contentions, and then open quarrels, began
to occur; and, at length, both parties prepared for war.
The contest which soon ensued was a terrible struggle, ~or
rather series of struggles, which continued for two centuries,
during which the Anglo-Saxons were continually gaining
ground and the Britons losing; the mental and physical
superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race giving them, with very
few. exceptions, everywhere and always the victory.
There were, occasionally, intervals of peace, and partial
and temporary friendliness. They accuse Hengist of great
treachery on' oie of these occasions. He invited his son-in-
law, King Vortigern, to a feast, with' three hundred of his
officers, and then, fomenting quarrel at the entertainment,
the Britons were'all killed in the affray by-means of the

[A.D. 449.


superior Saxon force which had been provided for the emer-
gency. Vortigern himself was taken prisoner, and held a
captive until he ransomed himself by ceding three whole
provinces to his captor. HengiAt justified this demand by
throwing the responsibility of the feud upon his guests; and
it is not, in fact, at all improbable that they deserved their
share of the condemnation.
The famous King Arthur, whose Knights of the Round
Table have been so celebrated in ballads and tales, lived and
flourished during these wars between the Saxons and the
Britons. He was a king of the Britons, and performed
wonderful exploits of strength and valour. He was of pro-
digious size and muscular power, and of undaunted bravery.
He slew giants, destroyed the most ferocious wild beasts,
gained very splendid victories in the battles that he fought,
made long expeditions" into foreign countries, having once
gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to obtain the holy cross.
His wife was a. beautiful lady, the daughter of a chieftain of
Cornwall. Her name was Guenever.* On his return from
one of- his distant expeditions, he found that his nephew,
Medrawd, had won her affections while he was gone, and a
combat ensued in ,consequence between him and Medrawd.
The combat took place on the coast of Cornwall. Both
parties fell. Arthur was mortally wounded. They took
him from the field into a boat, and carried him along the
coast till they came to a river. They ascended the river till
they came to the town of Glastonbury. They committed the
still-breathing body to the care of faithful friends there;" but
the mortal blow had been given. The great' hero died, and
they buried his body' ii the Glastonbury churchyard, very
deep beneath the surface of the ground, in order to place it
Spelled- sometimes Gwenlyfar and Ginevra.



as effectually asl pjssibal beyond the reashi of: Sazon rage
and; vengeance. Arthur hada beem a deadly and implacable
foe. to the m H& head fought twelve gpeat pitched
battles with them in every one daf which he had& gained the
victory. In. oneoae of these hatblea he hait all aecordilAg t
the traditional talah four hundred and asevent;men in one daoy
with his own hand,
Five hundred years, after. his death, 'King Henry the
Second, having; heard from am ancient. British baisi that
Arthur's body lay interred in.the Abbey, of (latonnbuy an
that the spot was marked. by some small paanids erected'
near it,, and that the body wMald be ffoumiA i-a rude coffil
made of a, hollowed oak, ordered asenh, o bhemade". The
ballads iant taea which had been then, four seeasLa centariea
circulating throughout. England4 narrating and praising
King Arthur's, exploits hadR given Ima saw wide a fame,. that
great interest, was felt. in the recovery and theidentiication
ef his remanains Th searchers foudia the- pwamids iSn t1
eemnetery of tihe aiiey. They da^yg between them, and, camea
at lengths to & 4taione-a Beneatk this stone; ws a ltadeam
cross, with, the. iRnsciptios uai Lating "TliBE LIES BEfiEBF
MSB, BODY oF enT Kwe AETaus.. GoiBDg, downR- atiB
below this,, theW came at length, at the depjtl. df sixtese
feet fromn the samfaer, to a great offein, made of the: trunk
of an oak teae -mai& within it wasa a lhimiuna skeleton. of
unusala size. Tleatl was very ands shwe nmrka
of tstwmmn- _Wmm-ra r fine.. them were coased.- by coneeietia
oef, thies bone, Mlf 4that the wounds by which these
santusions, or eatues had. been made had :hBenii healed
whl3e life cntlanbfmd The tenth fracture remainhed inr a
eendition wini sh.:aowed that that- had, bei m thee mortal

[A.D, 00.

.AJD. -530.3 TiBE Asr The bones of Arthur's wife were found near those of
her husband. 'The hair was& apparently perfect when found,
having all the freshneii a4 beuty ,of life; but a monk of
the abbey, who was present at the disinterment, touched it -
and it. crumbled to dust.. .-
Such are the tales which the old chronicles tell of the
good King Aasithuw, the lsit and greatest .epresentative
of the powe of he aniaent B6iMti&i Aborigiaes. it is a
CemioUs. Almisration of Athe aneerainty hiih aaends
the *eady reorws of national iostory, that, notwiiita nd-
ig the abe p-btearBiiaity .respeetg the 'e and
death of Arwfrr, Bt is a eriots matter itf dispitae among
the learned in 'nedern times whether ainy mach person
ener Mve.

BISO Ur~iDaSDafl

38 ALFRED THE ~ GREAT. [A.D. 450-850.



HE landing of- eng~Irand Horsa, the first
of the AngloSSaxons, took place in the
year 449,- according to the commonly re-
ceived chronology. It was more than two
Hundred years after this before the Britons
Were entirely subdued,, and the Saxon authority
established throughout the island, unquestionedand
-supreme. One or two centuries more-assed-
and then the Anglo-Saxons had, in their turn, to-
resist a new horde of invaders, who came, as they
themselves had done, across the. German Ocean. These
new invaders were the Danes.
The Saxons were not united under one general govern-
ment when they came finally to get settled in their civil
polity. The English territory was divided,,on the contrary,
into seven or eight separate kingdoms. -These. kingdoms
were ruled by a- many separate dynasties, or lines of kings.
They were connected with each other by frendly rela-
tions and alliances, more or less intimate, the whole
system being known in history by the name of the Saxon
The princes of these various dynasties shewed in their
dealings with one another, and in their relations with
foreign powers, the same characteristics of boldness and
energy as had always marked the action of the race.
Even the queens and princesses evinced, by their courage





Us s sSX


~-~ V1 ne~)


s T

A.D. 450--850.

and decision, that Anglo-Saxon blood lost nothing of its:
inherent qualities by flowing in female veins.
For dxample, a .-very extraordinary story is told of
one of these Saxon princesses. A certain king upon the
Continent, whose dominions lay between the Rhine and
the German Ocean, had proposed for her hand in behalf
of his son, whose name was Radiger. The consent- of
the princess was given, and the contract closed. The
king himself soon afterward died, but before he died he
changed his mind in respect to the marriage of his son.
It seems that he had himself married a second& wife, the
daughter of a king of the Firanks, a powerful continental
people; and as, in consequence of his own approaching
death, his son would come unexpectedly into possession
of the throne, and would need immediately all the sup-
port which a powerful alliance could give him, he recom-
mended to him to give up the Saxon princess, and connected
himself instead with the Franks, as he himself had done.
The prince entered into these views; his father died, and he
immediately afterward married his father's youthful widow
-his own step-mother-a union which, however monstrous
it would be regarded in our day, seems not to have been
considered any thing very extraordinary then.
The AngloS6txon princess was very indignantt a this
violation of his plighted faith' on- theta part of her sui-ter.
She raised ~i army and equipped a fleet awd aet sail with
the force waikh she had tihus- asembled aeoss the German
Oceany to calt the faithlesa 1Riadger to account. Her fleet
entered the mouta2 of the Rhine, and her troops, landed
herself at the head of theab. She then divided her aKmy
ift1 wo periofat, keeping o~ea division as g rld fdr nerstel
st- her own dveatapmiettt, whh she' established near the



42 ALFRED THE GREAT. [A.D. 450-850.
place of her landing, while .she sent the other portion to
seek and attack Radiger, who was, in the meantime, assem-
bling his forces, in a state of great alarm at this sudden and
unexpected danger.
In due time this division returned, reporting that they
had met and encountered Radiger, and had entirely defeated
him. They came back triumphing in their victory, consi-
dering, evidently, that the faithless lover had been well
punished for his offence. The princess, however, instead
of sharing in their satisfaction, ordered them to make a new
incursion into the interior, and not to return without bring-
ing Radiger with them as their prisoner. They did so; and
after hunting the defeated and distressed king from place to
place, they succeeded at last in seizing him in a wood, and
brought him into the princess's encampment. He began to
plead for his life, and to make excuses for the violation of
his contract by urging the necessities of his situation and
his father's dying commands. The princess said she was
ready to forgive him if he would now dismiss her rival and
fulfil his obligations to her. Radiger yielded to this demand;
he repudiated his Frank wife, and married the Anglo-Saxon
lady in her stead.
Though the Anglo-Saxon race continued thus to evince
in all their transactions the same extraordinary spirit and,
energy, and met generally with the same success that had
characterized them at the beginning, they seemed at length
to find their equal in the Danes. These Danes, however,
though generally designated by that appellation in history,
were not exclusively the natives of Denmark. They came
from all the shores of the Northern and Baltic Seas. In
fact, they inhabited the sea rather than the land. They
were a race of bold and fierce naval adventurers, as the

A D. 450-850.]

Anglo-SaxopnC themselves had been two centuries before.
,Most extraordinary accounts are given of their hardihood,
and of their fierce and predatory habits. They haunted the
bays along, the coasts of Sweden and Norway, and the islands
which encumber the entrance to the Baltic Sea. They were
banded together in great hordes, each ruled by a chieftain,
who was called a sea king, because his dominions scarcely
extended at all to the land. His possessions, his power, his
subjects, pertained all to the sea. It is true they built or
bought- their vessels on the shore, and they sought shelter
among the islands and in the bays in tempests and storms;
but they prided themselves in never dwelling in houses, or
sharing, in any way, the comforts or .enjoyments of the land.
They made excursions everywhere for conquest and plunder,
and were proud of their successful deeds of violence and
wrong. It was honourable to enter into their service.
Chieftains and nobles who dwelt upon the land sent their
sons to acquire greatness, and wealth, and fame by joining
these piratical gangs, just as. high-minded military or naval
officers, in modern times, would enter into the service of an
honourable government abroad.
Besides the great leaders of the most powerful of these
bands, there was an infinite number of petty chieftains, who
commanded single ships or small detached squadrons. These
were generally the younger sons of sovereigns or chieftains
who lived upon the land, the elder brothers remaining at
home to inherit the throne or the paternal inheritance.
It. was discreditable then, as it is now in Europe, for any
branches of families of the higher class to engage in any
pursuit of honourable industry. They could plunder and kill
without dishonour, but they could not toil. To rob and murder
was glory; to do good or to be useful in any way was disgrace.


44 ALFRED THE GREAT. [A.D. 450-850.
These yiunger sons went to sea at a very early age too.
They .Were sent often at twelve, that they might become
early habituated to the exposures and dangers of their
dreadful combats, and of the wintry storms, and inured
to the athletic exertions Which the sea rigorously exacts of
all who venture within her dominion. When they returned
they were received with consideration and honour, or with
neglect and disgrace, according as they irere more or less
laden with booty and. spoil. In the summer months tre
land kings the selves would organise and equip naval arma-
ments fob similar expeditions. They would cruise along the

coasts of the sea, to land where they found an unguarded
p6int, and sack a town or burn a castle, seize treasures, capture
men and inake them slaves, kidnap women, and sometimes
destroy helpless children with their spears in a manner too
barbarous and horrid to be described. On returning to their
homes, they would perhaps find their own castles butied

A.D. 450-6850.] THE DANES;, 45
apd their own dwellings r1oofess, froTm the visitof-, some
similar horde.; -
.Thus _th seas of western Europe were covered- in those
days, as -tiey are pnow with fleets of shipping; though,*
instead of being engaged, as now, in the quiet an4 peaceful
pursuits of commerep, freighted with inerchadise, manned
with harmless seamen, .an4 welcome, wherever lpey come,
they were then loaded only with ammunition and arjms, and
crowded with fi1drite and reckless robbers, the objects of
universal detestation and 'terror.
One of the first of these sea kings who acquired sufficient
individual distinction to ,be personally remembered in history
has given a sort of, immortality, by his exploits, t tthe very -
rude nae of Ragnar Lodbrog, and his -eharacter was as
rude as 1is name.
Ragnap's father was a prince of Norway, He married,
however, a panisbl princess, and thus Ragnar acquired a sort
of hereditary right to a D?4anih kingdoWm-the territory
including various islands and promontories at the entrance
of the Baltic Sea, There was, however, a competitor for
ti~g power, named I.rald. ''he FrTnlkr mazde_ pommop
cause- with lIarald, Rggar wwa defeated and driven away
from the an4, Though- 4efated, lopweyer, he was pot
sub.uedr H0e or~anise4 a n4aal force,. and mide himself
a sea king'., His oppraioga on the story element of the,
seawa wgre conducted w 4 sp much dpcipon and e ergy, and
at the e t me with. spo pch system and plan, that his
pwer rJpglly expaded. He brought ie othAr IW gea kings
i~4pr h3is control, and st aiteA4e qtpite a pariitime npfire,
.e made mnore and m eg distant :exrions, and at ast, iq
Qrl Or fo atve pg nsel^f upop tje IFrrns. fpr lt4eir inter.
position in bhal f f his enemy at hou passed t!roufg
p j ",-t ,, ... .. p

46 ALFRED THE GREAT. [A.D. 450-850.
the Straits of Dover, and thence down the English Channel
to the mouth of the Seine. He ascended this river to Rouen,
and there landed, spreading throughout the country the
utmost terror and dismay. From Rouen he marched to
Paris, finding no force able to resist him on his way, or to
defend the capital. His troops destroyed the monastery.of
St. Germin's, near the city, and then the King of the
Franks, finding himself at their mercy, bought them off by
-paying a large sum of money/ With this money and the
Other booty which they had acquired, Ragnar and his horde
now returned to their ships at Rouen, and sailed away again
toward their usual haunts among the bays and islands of the
- Baltic Sea,
This exploit, of course, gave Ragnar Lodbrog's barbarous
name a very wide celebrity. It tended too greatly to increase
and establish his power. He afterward made similar incur-
sions into Spain, and finally grew bold enough to brave the
Anglo-Saxons themselves on the green island of Britain, as
the Anglo-Saxons had themselves braved the aboriginal
inhabitants two or three centuries before. But Ragnar
seems to have found the Anglo-Saxon swords and spears
which he advanced to encounter on landing in England,
much more formidable than those which were raised against
him on the southern side of the Channel. He was destroyed
in the contest. The circumstances were as follows :-
In making his preparations for a descent upon the Eng-
lish coast, he prepared for a very determined contest, know-
ing well the character of the foes with whom he would have
npw to deal. 11He built two enormous ships, much larger
than those of the ordinary size, and armed and equipped
them in the most perfect manner. "He filled them with
selected men, and sailing aown along the coast of Scotland,

A.D. 450-850.]

he watched for a place and an opportunity te aind. Winds
and storms are almost always raging among the dark and
gloomy mountains and islands of Scotland. Ragnar's ship
were caught in one of these gales, and driven on shore.
The ships were lost, but the men escaped to, the land.
Ragnar, nothing daunted, organised and marshalled them.as
an army, and marched into the interior to attack any force
which might appear against them. His course led him to
Northumbria, the aost northerly Saxon kingdom. Here
he soon encountered a very large and superior force, under
the command of Ella the king; but, with the reckless
desperation which so strongly marked his character, he
advanced to attack them. Three times, it is said, he pierced
the enemy's lines, cutting his way entirely through them
with his little column. He was, however, at length over-
powered. His men were cut to pieces, and he was himself
taken prisoner. We regret to have to add that our cruel
ancestors put their captive to death in very barbarous
manner. They filled a den-with poisonous snakes, and then
drove the wretched Ragnar into it. -The horrid reptiles
killed him with their stings. It was Ella, the king of
Northumbria, who ordered and directed this punishment.
The expedition of Ragnar thus ended without leading to
any permanent results in Anglo-Saxon history. It is, how-
ever, memorable as the first of a series of invasions from the
Danes-or Northmen, as they are sometimes called, since
they came from all the coasts of the Baltic and German
seas-which, in the end, gave the Anglo-Saxons infinite
trouble. At one time, in fact, the conquests of the Danes
threatened to root' out and destroy the Anglo-Saxon power
from the island altogether. They would probably have
actually effected this, had the nation not been saved by thb



prudence, the courage, the sagacity, and thoe consummate
skill of the-subject of this history, as will fully appear to the
reader in the course of future chapters.
Iagnar was not the only one of these Northmen who
made attempts to Jaed in England and to plunder the Anglo-
Saxons, even in his own day,. Although there-were no very
regular historical records kept in those early times, still a
great number of legends, and ballads, and ancient chronicles
have come down to us, narr eating the various transactions
which occurred, and it appears by these that the- sea kings
generally were beginning at this time to harass the English
coasts, as well as all the other shores to which they could
gain access. Some of these invasions would seem to have
been of a very formidable character.
At first these excursions were .made in the summer season
only, and, after collecting their plunder, the marauders would
return in the autumn to their own shores, and winter in the
bays and among the islands there, At length, however, they
grew more bold. A large band of them landed, in the
autums of A51, ,on the island of Thanet, where the Saxons
themselves had landed four centuries before, and began very
coolly to establah their winter quarters on english ground.
They succeeded in maaintaiving their stay during the winter,
and in the spring were prepared.for bolder mdserakings still.
They formed a grand confederation, anld oel ted a leet
of three IWndref d d ad fty ships, galleys, and boats, and
advanced boldly up the Thames. They plundere Londo4,
and then marched south to Coaterburwy which they pluiidered
too. They went thence ipto oxe of the Anglo-4axon king-
doms called Mercia the inhabitants of the qeuntry not being
able to oppose any effectual obstacle to heir marauding
awareb. Finally, a great Amglo.SrLa9i force was organized

I.A.D. 851.


and brought out to meet theem. The asttlewas fought inq
forest of oaks, and the Danes were defeated. The victory
however, afforded tb AngloS-axon kipgd4oms -only S tem,
iorary relief. New hordes were conatimnaly arriving and
landing, growing more and more bold if they met with success,
and but little daunted or discouraged by temporary failures.
The most formidable of all these expedition was oe
organized and commanded by the sons and relatives of
Ragnar, whom, it will be recolected, the Sapxns had _rula ly
killed by poisonous serpents in a dugeon or den. The rela-
tives of the unhappy chieftain thus barbarously executed
were animated i" their enterprise Ay the double stimulus of
love of plunder and a ferocious thirst for revenge. A
considerable time was spent in collecting a large fleet, and
in combining, for this purpose, as many chieftains as could
be induced to share in the enterprise. The story of their
fellow-countryman expiring under the stings of adders and
scorpions, while his tormentors were exSuting around him
over the cruel agonies whieh theit ingenuity had devised,
aroused them to a frenzy of hatred and revenge. They
prope4ed, however, very deliberately in their plfas. They
did nothing hastily. They allowed mpole, time for the
assembling and organizing of the conf eratio. When all
was ready, they found that there were eight kings and
twenty earls in the alliance, generally the relatives and com-
rades of Ragnar. The two most prominent of these com9
manderg were Gfthrum and Hubba. Jbba wp oq.e of
RBgpar'Bs ns. At length, toward the cloe f the PmmWer,
the formid' al eq-editie set aiil. 'Thpy .ppyoqcb4l thi
English eoast, and landed without meeting with ~ny re@i
ance. The Saxons seemed ppaWed and paralyzed at the
greatness.of the danger. The several kingdoms of the wiep

A..D. 851.]


tarchy, though they had been imperfectly united some years
before under Egbert, were still more or less distinct, and
each hoped that the one first invaded would be the only one
which would suffer ; and as these kingdoms were rivals, ana
often hostile to each other, no general league was formed
against what soon proved to be the common enemy. The
Danes accordingly quietly encamped, and made calm and
deliberate arrangements for spending the winter in their
new quarters, as if they were at home.
During all this time, notwithstanding the coolness and
deliberation with which these avengers of their murdered
countryman acted, the fires of their resentme~tanrevenge
were slowly but steadily burning, and as soon as the spring
opened, they put themselves in battle array, and marched
into the dominions of Ella. Ella did all that it was possible
to do to meet and oppose them, but the spirit of retaliation
and rage which his cruelties had evoked was too strong
to be resisted. His country was ravaged,, his army was
defeated, he was taken prisoner, and the dying terrors and
agonies of Ragnar among the serpents were expiated by
tenfold worse- tortures which they inicted upon Ella's
mutilated body, by a process too horrible tobe described.
After thus successfully accomplishing the great object
of their expedition, it was to have been hoped that they
would leave the island and return to their Danish homes.
But they evinced no disposition to do this. On the con-
trary, they commenced a course of ravage and conquest in
all parts of England, which continued for several years.
The parts of the country whieh attempted to oppose them
they destroyed by fire and sword. They seized cities, gar-
risoned and occupied them, and settled in them as if to
make them their permanent homes. One kingdom after

LAt.D. 851.


another was subdued. The kingdom of Wessex seemed
alone to remain, and that was the subject of contest.
Ethele d was the king. The Danes advanced into his
dominin s to attack hi. In the battle that ensued,
EtheTred was killed. The successor to his throne was his
brother`lfred, the subject of this history, who thus found
himself suddenly and unexpectedly called' upon to assume
the responsibilities and powers of supreme command, in as
dark and trying a crisis of national calamity and danger as
can well be conceived. -The manner in which Alfred acted
in the emergency, rescuing his country from her perils, and
laying the foundations, as he did, _f-alU the greatness and
glory which has since accrued to her, has caused- his
memory to be held in the highest estimation among all
nations, and has immortalised his name.

A.D. 867.]





EFORE commencing the narrative of Alfred's
administration of the public affairs of his realm,
it is'necessary'to go back a little, in order to give
some account of the more private occurrences of
his early life. Alfred, like Washington, was distinguished
for a very extraordinary combination "of qualities which
exhibited itself in his character-viz., the combination of
great military energy and skill on the one hand, with a very
Jigh degree, on the other, of moral and religious principle,
and conscientious devotion to the obligations of duty. This
combination, so rarely found in the distinguished personages
which have figured among mankind, is, in a great measure,

TA.D. $50--86#

A D. 850--855.]

explained and accounted for, in Alfred's ease, by the eeuiliar
circumstances of his early history.
It was .his brother Ethelted, 'af has already been stated,
whom Alfred immediately. siceeeded. 1i father's name
was Ethelwolf; and it seems highly prbbable that the pecu-
liar turir which Alfred's mind seemed to take in after years,
*as the consequence, in sotte considerable degteej of this
patent's situation and character. Ethelwolf was a younger
son, and was b-ought tp in a motnastery at Wiietheaser.
The monasteries of those days were the seats both of learn-
ing and piety-that is, of such learning and piety as then
prevailed. The ideas of religious faith and duty which
were entertained a thousadii years ago Were certainly very
different from those which are received now; stiR, there
was then, mingled with much superstition, a great deal of
honest and conscientious devotion to the principles .of Chris-
tian duty, and of sincere and earnest desire to live for the
honour of God and religion, and for the highest and best
welfare of mankind. Monastic establishments existed every
where, defended by the sacredness which invested them
from the storms of violence and war which swept over every
thing which the cross did not protect. To these the
thoughtful, the serious, and the intellectual retired, leaving
the restless, the rude, and the turbulent to distract and
terrify the earth with their endless quarrels. Here they
studied, they wrote, they read; they transcribed books, they
kept record#, they arranged exercises of devotion, they
educated youth, and, in a rdrorrd petrfrized, in the enielsea d
and secluded retreats in which they sought shelter, thlge
intellectual functions of eivil life which now can all be pet-
formed in open expI6stte, btit which in those days, if there
had beer no monastr~ ic etrets t6 shelter them, cottfl not



have been performed at all. For the learning and piety of
the present age, whether Catholic or Protestant, to malign
the monasteries of Anglo-Saxon times is for the oak to
traduce the acorn from which'it sprung.
Ethelwolf was a younger son, and, consequently, did not
expect to reign. He went to the monastery at Winchester,
and took the vows. His father had no objection to this
plan, satisfied with having his oldest son expect and prepare
for the throne. As, howeveirThe advanced toward manhood,
the thought of the probability that he might be called to
the throne in the event of his brother's death led all parties
to desire that he might be released from his monastic vows.
They applied, accordingly, to the pope for a dispensation.
The dispensation was granted, and Ethelwolf became a
general in the army. In the end, -his brother died, and he
became king.
He continued, however, during his reign, to manifest the
peaceful, quiet, and serious character' which had- led him
to enter the monastery, and which had probably been
strengthened and confirmed by the influences and habits
to which he had been accustomed there. He had, how-
ever, a very able, energetic, and warlike minister, who
managed his affairs with great ability and success for a long
course of years. Ethelwolf, in the mean' time, leaving
public affairs to his minister, continued to devote himself to
the pursuits to which his predilections inclined him. He
visited monasteries ; he cultivated learn ; he endowed
the church; he made-journeys to Rome. All this time, his
kingdom, which had before almost swallowed up the other
kingdoms of the Heptarchy, became more and more firmly
established, until, at length, the Danes came in, as is
described in the last chapter, and brought the whole land

A.D. 853.J THE DANES. 55
into the most extreme and imminent danger. The ease
did not, however, become absolutely desperate until after
Ethelwolf's death, as will be hereafter explained.
Ethelwolf married a lady whose gentle, quiet, and
serious character corresponded with his own. 'Alfred was
the,youngest, and, as is often the case with the youngest,
the favourite child. He was kept near to his father, and
mother, and' closely under their influence, until his mother
died, which event, however, took place when he was quite
young. After this, Ethelwolf sent Alfred to Rome. Rome
was -still more the great centre then than it is now of reli-
gion and learning. There. were schools there, maintained
by the various nationsof Europe respectively, for the educa-
tion of the sons of the nobility. Alfred, however, did not go
forthis purpose, It was only to make the journey, to see
the city, to be introduced to the pope, and to be presented,
by means of the fame of the expedition, td the notice of
Europe, as the future sovereign of England-; for it was
Ethelwolf's intention, at this time, to pass over his older
sons, and make this Benjamin his successor on the throne.
The journey was made with great pomp and parade.
A large train of nobles and ecclesiastics accompanied the
young prince, and anc iendid. reception was given to him in
the various towns in France which he passed- through on his
way. He was but five years old; but his position and his
prospects made him, though so young, a personage of great
distinction. After spending a short_ time at Rome, he re-
turned again to England.
Two years after this, Ethelwolf, Alfred's father, deter-
mined to go to Rome himself. His wife had died, his older
sons had grown up, and his own natural aversion, to. the
cares and toils of government seems to have been increased,


by the6 alarms and &dngers produced by the incursions of the
Danes, a p by his own advcaaing years. Having accord-
ingly arranged the afkier of the kingdom by placing his
oldest son i in command, he took the youngest, Alfred, who
was now seven years old, with him, and, crossing, the Chan-
neil landed on. thet Continet, on his way to Rome.
All the arrangements for this journey were conducted
on a scale of great magnihcenee and splendour. It is true
that it was a rude and semi- a rbarott -age, and very little
progress hsa been made i' respect to the peaceful and
industrial arts of life; bu i, oi respect to the arts connected
with war, to every thing that related to the march of armies,
the pomp-and paargA ofnsaL g e8seasVe- eapariasonof
horses, the aritour aind military dresses of men, and the
parade and pageantry of military spectacles, a very con-
siderable degree of advancement had been attained.
King Ethelwolf availed himself of all the resources that
he could command to give dclat to his journey. He had a
nutneroie train of attendants and followers, and he carried
with him 'a number of rich and valuable presents for the
pope. He was received with great distinction by King
Charles of France, through whose dominions he had to pass
on his way to Italy. Charles had a daughter, Judith, a
young girl, with whom Ethelwodf, though now himself quite
advanced in life, fell deeply in love.
Ethelwoif, after a short stay in France, went on to
Rome. His arrival and hiB visit here attracted great atten-
tion. As King of England, he was a personage of very
considerable coaseq ineti and then he came with a Iarge
retinue, and in magiiicent state. His rel~8igus predfiee-
tiris, too, inspired him with a; very strong interest in the
deeesiaticald authoritir e and fieatiet*uo of Bosie, and

. [A.D. 853.

D.~~ 853.3 J~ALY ~YEAR

Awakened, reciprocally, in 'these authorities, a strong ifiterest
in him. 'He made' costly presents to the pope, snone of
Which were peculiarly splendid. ~Ohn was a crown df pure
gold, which- weighed, it is said, four pounds. Another was
:jswod;, ricyi mounted ii gold. There were also several
utensils and vessels of Saxon form anhd construction, some
-of gold and'others of silver gilt, and also ak considerable
number of dresses, all very richly adorned. King Ethelwolf
also made a distribution in, money'to all the inhabitants of
Rome-gold to the nobles and to the clergy, and silver, to
the people. How far his munificence on -this occasion iay
have been exaggerated by the, Saxo-chrouiclers,' who, of
course, like other early historians, were fond "o magnifyiyig
all the exploits, and swelling in every way the fame'of the
heroes of their stories, we cannot now know. There is no
doubt, however, that all the circumstances of Ethelwblf's
visit to the great capital were such as to attract universal
attention to the event, and to make -the little Alfred, ol
whose account the journey was in a great measure performed,
an object of very general interest and'attention.
In fact, there is every reason to believe 'tlat t-e Saxo6n
nations had at that time made -such progress in wealth,
population, and power, as to afford to' such a prince as
Ethelwolf the means of making a great display, if he chose
Sto do so, on' such an occasion as that of a royal progress
through France, and a visit to the great city of Rome. -The
Saxons had been in possession of England, at' this time
some hundreds of years; and though, during -a this 'period,
they Iad been involved in various wars both with one another
and with the neighboring nations, they had ben all the time
steadily increasing in wealth, and making cbMstant improve-
ments in all the arts and refinements of life. EthelWolf reigned,

A.D. 851]


Ea~c* 004.

therefore, over a people of considerable wealth andu power
and he moved aromss the continntt on his way to Romne,. and
figared while there,as a personage.of o ovrinaryAitiPntiein.
Rome .was at this time, as we have paidS the great centre
of education, as.weltlas of :relgious ad .e~ clerSa- tical inu-
ence. In fact,.education -and religion wenit hand .p band in
those days, there. being .,oarcely any instruction in books
excepting for the purpose, of the -lihurl,. Separate s-hools
had ,been .establisheU at RJone by the qea ig nations of
Europe, where their youth could be taught, each at an insti-
tution .in which his .own language was spQoken. Ethelwolf
remained a year at $nime, to give Alfred the b enft .of the
advantages which .te eity agor4ed. Th~k boy was of a
refective and thoughtful turn of mind, and applied himself
digetly to the iPerformance off his duties.. :4is mind was
rgpidly expanded, his powers we.. developed, *nO stores of
such knowledge as adapt" to the 4circmstanges and
wants.. of thetbimes were laid u4c The regiis .nd intellec-
tual ifluences.thus brought t bear upon tl yo gY ered's
mind produced strongg andgepdqie effects -foro*i
of his erat.r-- ects wO ich were verw sti glA g iblerb
in hiU subsequent t reer. .
-Ebhelwolf found, when. he arrived .t omne," the
asmon semipary ,had been burned tie "req.dip $ear. It
had-been. fow ne l y fo.omer S.a .n.'. g. Ethelwolf
rebuilt it, and. plaede4 the ~nsttiutiip on .newa aid firmer
foundation bsau b.efore. Hie ar3S ob.tained some edicts from
the P apa gQ erenM t to secure :.and cqir : C.ertpain rights
of hia Oaxo abjmcts siding, in tbe itety, which rights ladi,
it s~es ,. bee :in p deree fringed upo4 ; .and he thus
saved his subject -from oppressions to which they -hpd been
exposed. In a word,: !theIwolf's visit not only. afforded an
4, ^ o

A.D: 855.J EARLY YEARS. 59
imposing spertpcle -o t:hQse who witnessed the pageantry
and' the cernemoqni ;wbich W ,zire. Abt, -bt ht was attq&ed
with, permanent a and, .substantil benefits to many lasse5,
who become, in consequece :of iit, te objects of the pious
monarch's kbeevrolent regard;
At length; when the year had expired, Ethelwplf set out
on ds retur e He went back through France as he came,
and during his stay in .that untry on the way home, an
event occurredwhiqh.was of: no inconsiderable consequence
to Alfred himself, and which c~aUged or modified Ethelwolf's
whole destiny. The event was :tha, having, as before stated,
become enagmoured, with the youngT Princess .Ju4ith, the
daughter of he of t of France, Ethelwolf demanded her
in marriage. We have no means of knowing how the pro-
posal affected the princess herself; marriages in that rank
and station in life were then, as they are now, in fact, wholly
determined and controlled by great ,political considerations
or by the personal predilectiOnps of powerful zen, with very
little regard for the opinions or .desires of the party whose
happiness was most to be affected by the result. At all
events, whatever may have been 3udith's opinion, .he ;mar-
riage was decided upon and consummated, and, the venerable
king -returped to England with his youthful bride. The
historians of the day say, what would seem almost incredible,
that she was but, about twelve years, old.
Judith's Saxoni ame was Leotheta. She made an xcel-
lept mother to the you4ig A.Wred, though she jinuocently and
indirectly cauned her husband. much trouble in is realm.
Alfred's 'elder brothras were .wild aid turbulent mAen? and
one of them, Ethelbald, yas i posed to reqn- a portion of-
the power wiih 7w4* i lhe p ,been, invested. d4#ing ;his
faiher's absence, instead of gying it up peaceably ..on. h'

60 "'ALFRED THE GREAT. [A D. 855-657.
return. He organized a rebellion against his father, m;aiin
the leing's course of conduct in respect to his youthful brbie
the pretext.' Ethelwolf was very fond of his young wie,
and seemed disposed to elevate her to a position of great
political consideration and honour. Ethelbald complained
of this. The father, loving peace rather than war, co ipro-
* mised the question with him, and relinquished to him a part
of his kingdom. Two years after this he died, leaving
Ethelbald the entire possession of the throne. Ethelbald,
as if to complete and consummate his unnatural conduct
toward his father,.persuaded the beautiful Judith, his father's
widow, to become his wife, in violation not only of all laws
human and divine, but also of those universal instincts of
propriety which no lapse of time qnd no changes of condition
can eradicate from the human soul. This second union
throws some light on the question of Judith's action. Since
she was willing to marry her husband's. son to preserve the
position of a queen, we may well suppose that she did not
object to uniting herself to the father in order to attain it.
Perhaps; however, we ought to consider that no responsibility
whatever, in transactions of this character, should attach to
Such a mere child.
During all this time Alfred was passing' from his eighth
to his twelfth year. He. was a very intelligent and observing
boy, and had acquired much knowledge of the -world, and
Great deal of general information in the journeys which he
had taken with his father, both about England and also on
the Continent, i~h France and Italy. Judith had taken a
great interest in his progress. She talked with him, she
encouraged his inquiries, she explained to him what he did
not understand, and endeavoured in every way to develop
and strengtenn his mentia powers. Alfred was a favourite,

A.B. 857.] EAdfLY YEARS. ,
at.d, as such, was always very much indulged; but there
was a certain conscientiousnessan4 gentleness of4spiri:which
marked his character even in these ,arl-y Tears, and seemed'
'to defend him from the injurious influences which indulgence
and extreme attention and care ofte:produce. Alfred wa&eon-
siderate, quiet, and reflective,; he improved-the privileges which
he enjoyed, and did not abuse the kindness and -the favours
which every one by whom he was known lavished. upon him.
Alfred was- very fond of the-A-nglo-Saxon poetry which
abounded in those days. The poems were legends, ballads,
and tales, which described the exploits of, heroes, an4d the
adventures of pilgrims and wanderers of all kinds. ,.-. h1e
poems were to Alfred -what IHmer's poems were to- Alex-
ander. He loved to listen to them, to hear them recited,
and to commit them to memory. In committing them to
memory, he was obliged to depend upon hearing the poems
repeated by others, for he himself could not read.
And yet he was now twelve years old. It may surprise
the reader, perhaps, to be thus told, after all that has .been
said of the attention paid to Alfred's education, and of the
progress which he had made, that he could not even: read.
But reading, far from being then considered, as it is now, an
essential attainment for all, and pne which we are sure of
finding possessed by all who have received any instruction
whatever, was regarded in those days a. sort of technical
art, learned .only by those who were to make some profes-
siqunal use of the acquisition. onks and clerks could always
rpa, but generals, gentleen ad kings vry. seldom. An
as they could not read, n4eitLer could thry write, they.made
rude. cross a~ the en.dof thewrtings Iwhich they wished to
authenticate, instead of signing their namres- mode which
remain to the present day, though it has descended tothe
very lo west and liumbles classes f socie ty.

62 ALFRED THE GREAT. rA.D. 857--5-.
Ir fet, even the upper classes of society could not' gen11
rally M"n to read in those days, for there were no books.
Eve itn recorded wma- in mainuscripts, thb charaCb eri
biing wEten withi great Iabeir and care,. uisiumy on parech-
SMinit 1 he captionis and lefidiagetfter being oftei splendidly
illuminated and adorned by gilded miniatures of heads, or
gig4rrs, or landscapes, whidli enveloped or surrounded tiein.
Jdith had such a manuscript of some Saon p Ioemji. She
had learned the language while in Fraince. Onie day Alfred
tws cooking at the book, and admiring' the character in
whicl it was written, partiturarly the ornamented letter at
the hadings.. Some of his brothers were ii the rooni, thie,
of co ise, leing much older than he. Judith said that qithei
of thin mi ightmhave the book Who.would first learn to read it.
The elder brothers paid little attention to this proposal, but
Alfred's interest was strongly awailteed. He irunedtely
sought and fouid some one to teach hlib- before long he
tead t le vohmide to: Ju&difthnd-c ed it as his own. She
ejoicedL sa-s-u and fulflled her promise with the
greatest pleasure.
Alfred soon acquired, by his Anglo-Saxon studies, a great
taste for books, and Hda next a strong desire to stidy the.
Latin language. The scholars of the various' nations of
Europe fortned at that time, as, inu fact, they do now, one
I community, linked together by mIany ties. They wrote and
spoke te t LIatin language, that bcdiig the dnly language
which could' be understood~ by theim anl. In fact, the works
which were most biihly valued the6 by the educated mten of
aI xstatiins, were the pdeiims andt the histories; and other
writings produced1 by the eliic authors of the 1omaan-
coammonwealth. There Were adB aani y *rrks oin theology,
on ecclesiastical polity, and o& ;law1, of grait autidority and in
high repute, all written in the Latin tongue. Copies of these


works were made by the monks in their retreats. in abbeys
and monasteries,-and learned menpent their lives in perusing
them. To explore this field was not properly a. duty incum-
bent upon a young prince destined. po take a seat upon a
throne, but Alfred felt a great desire to undertake the work.
He did not do it, however, for th reason, as he afterwards
stated, that there was no one at court at the time who was
qualified to teach him.
Alfred, though he had th i theithoughtful and-reflective
habits of a ittudentb was alho active, and graceful, thd gbong
in, his bodily development. He excelled in all tb atltitic
recreations of the time, and was especially famoduS- f' .ii
skill, and courage, and power as a hunter* He gave eVery
indication, in a word, at this early age, of possessing that
uncommon combination of mental and personal qualities
which fits' those who possess it to secure and maintain a
great ascendancy among mnmki~d
The unnatural union which had been formed on. the
death of Ethelwolf betweeii his youthfUll widow and her
aged husband's- son did not long continue.. The people of
England were very-much shocked at sueli a marriage, and
a great prelate, the Bishop of Winchesters remonstrated
againSt it. *th such sternness and- athoriteY, that Ethelbald
noti nly soon put his wife aay bhit submitted to a severe
penance *hich the bishop -imposed upon him in retribution
fob his ain. Judith, thus forsaken, soon afterwards. sold the
lands and estates which her two husbands had- severely granted
he, and~itaking a final leave of Alfred, whom she tenderlyloved,
she returned to her: active land& Not long after this she was
mieried athird time to a cttiinental prihie, whose-dominioUP
lay between the Baltic and the Rhine, and frAi ,this period
she-disa pear entirely. feoma the stage of Alfread's history.

A.De. 80.]i





__ AVING thus brought down the narrative
of Alfred's early life as far and as fully as
Sthe records that remain enable us to do
-so, we resume the general history of the
National affairs. by returning to the subject of the
depredations and conquests of the Danes, and the
Sy circumstances connected with Alfred's accession to
the throne.
To give the reader some deinite and clear ideas of the
nature of this warfare, it will be well to describe in detail
some few of there incidents and scenes which ancient histo-
rians have recorded. The following was one case which
occurred:- -
The Danes, it must be premised, were particularly hostile
to the monasteries and.religious establishments of the Anglo-
Saxons. In the first place, they were themselves Pagans,
and they hated Christianity., In the second place, they knew
that these places of sacred seclusion were often the deposito-
ries selected. for the custody of concealment of treasure;
and, besides the treasures which kings and potentates often
placed in them for safety, these establishments possessed
utensils of gold and silver for the service, of the chapels,
and a greatvariety of- valuable gifts, such as. pious saints
or -penitent singers were continually -bequeathing t theA.

[A.U~b. 800,

The Danes were, consequently, never better pleased
than when sacking an abbey or a monastery. In such
exploits they gratified their terrible animal propensities
by the cruelties which they perpetrated personally upon
the monks and the nuns, and at. the "same time enriched
their coffers with the most valuable spoils. A. dreadful
tale is told of one company of nuns, who, in the conster-
nation and terror which they endured at the approach of
a -band of Danes, mutilated their faces in a manner too
horrid to be described, as the only means left to them for
protection against the brutality of their foes. They followed,
in adopting this measure, the advice and the example 6f the
lady superior. It was effectual.
There was a certain abbey, called Crowland, which was
in those days one of the most celebrated in the island. It
was situated near the southern'border of Lincolnshire, which
lies on the eastern side of England. There is a great shallow
bay called the Wash on this eastern shore, and it is sur-
rounded by a broad tract of, low, and ,marshy land, which is
drained by long canals, and traversed by roads built upon
embankments. Dykes skirt the margins of the streams, and
windmills are engaged in perpetual toil to raise the water
from the fields into the channels by which it is conveyed away.
Crowland is at the confluence of two rivers, which flow
sluggishly through this ~at but beautiful and verdant region.
The remains of the old abbey still stand, built .on piles driven
into the marshy ground, and they form, at the present time,
a very interesting mas. of ruins. The year before Alfred
succee.ded,to the throne the abbey was in all its glory; and on
ope, occasion it furnished twoo hundred me n, who went out
under the command of, one on the monks, named riar Jol,
to join the English armies and figt, he3n .- g


The English army was too smaO., not3itht9adidg this
dbispate effort io itrdhgtleni it. They stood howeerk, iaI
day in compaOt ba4d, pirotetiigg tli~fas lves, ivith their
shields roin the arroWs oF the foot' soldiers of the einbmy,
and with their pikes frdm the onset of the cavahly. AW inht
the'Danies retired, as if giving up the contest ; but as soo6
-as4i&e Sax-ons, ndW released from thlit; positioios of coflne.
ment and restraint, had' separated a little, aid began to feel
somewhat more secure, their implatcble foes retu red iagin,
and attacked there in separate manases, aid with more firy
than before. The Saxons endeavoitrMed in vaihn either to.
defend themnselVes ofi escape. As fast dt their comrades
were killed, the survivors stood tpoh the heaps of the-s2ain,
to gai& wh4bt little advantage they could, from so slight an
eevation.- yearly sal were at length killed. A feA escaped
into a-neighbouring wbod, where they lay concealed during
the day following, and then, when. the darklieds of the suc-
ceeding night cable to, enable them tb conceal their journey,
they iadeb' theft way to th~iw abbey, to iikke khown to the
anidiou- inmates of it the dbetructioi of the army, and to
w~rn themb d' the immifnenitce of the ibijendinig danger to
*hidh they were now exposed.
A dreadful scene of consterntion and terror ensued.
The affrighted messengers told their tale, brdithtles and
waworn, at the doo of thef chapel, where the onaiks were
eigiged atj their devbtions. The aisles were filled with
aEI~tlamtions of alarm and despairing- Iamentations. The
abbbti whdke niae Was The ,dtre, iitnediately begaw to
take meseasees sitdt to" the eeirgeey. iHe resolved to
retain at th oindastiW'y bily sbitW aged I bonks. and a few
hffflden whibse utter d~tfetieles; ess, he thouglth, would
disarm the feit~ly and& Veniigeitide of the Dhfbe The rest,

:C~t~bi ~6~0,


only about' thirty, however, in nmtibe ~neati a1ti'Wte
brethir<' having gone wit under th e.a Jdly inth tfe-
great battle--wre pato'iooari d -a bdstito 6Q Went fdown tli
river. It seeAms at ftrt view* A string~ ida to send& Way
the vigorous atsid stroiiogg ad keedd the! infitk atid helpless
at the scene of danger; but tthe monks knbe very. wtlltIah t
all resistance wa vaii,. and that, cnpeqtlen.ily, theft greatest
safety would lie ii the absence of: Bl1 ppeatne ofthp pos.
sibility of resistance.
The treasures: were v ent away,, toa with all the itn.
They hastily collected all thie ratitab~s together, the reidsg
tlie jewels, and all the6 goli a~ ndsiler plate which could
be easily remved,' aidplaced theti1A a boiat--pakinm thni ,
as securely as' their bate and. trepidation allowed. The
boats' glided down the river till t'iey cinae to a Idnely'spot,
where an anchorite r or torof hermit lived in solitude-. The
men and the treasures were to be intkiiAted' to hi chhrgre.
He concealed the men iti the thickets and other hiding-
places in the woods, and buried the treasuries
In the mean time, as soon as the boats and the phrt of
mozks which accompanied them Bad: left the abbey; the
Abbot Theodore and the old I riknks t iat remained "ithi Huii
urged oxk the Work of concealfbi thi; piirt of theIr''dsutfe
which hlad not been taken away. A iportioik of the plate which
cou0 d not be easily transpboted, amid' a certain rvet iEidiO aid
cost table eniployed for the service 6f the atar, ai~nd.iny
sased and expensive garie6 it used by tlib higher priests
in their ceremonies, ha4d leeif lef behind, as they could not
be easily removed. These: the abbW~I id thie iiriinel co0
called 1ii the iostd secure places that tlity d6uld ftrd, and
tihen,t clbthing thetise i~ their p-lAestly bdbes, tliy assem1-.
bled i~ the ciiapel, aud, resumeidd'their 6exr"ises bf devotionh

.A.D. 860.3Q

68 ALFREP THJ GREAT. [H., 8)0.
To ,be found ini so sacred a place ,and engaged -in, sopoly, an
avocation would have ,been a-.great protection from. any
Christian soldiery; but the monks eutlrely .iisconceived:.he
nature of the impulses by which human nature ip governed,
in supposing that it would have any restraining influence
upon the pagan Danes., The first- thing 'the ferocious
marauders did, on breaking into the sacred precincts of the
chapel, was to cut down the venerable-abbot at the altar, in
his sacerdotal robes, and then to push forward the work of
slaying every other inmate of the abbey, feeble and helpless
as th yWere. 7~-one- was saved.
This one was a boy, about ten years old. His name was
Turgar. He -was a handsome-boy, and one of the Danish
chieftains was struck with his countenance and air, in the
midst of the slaughter, and took pity on-him. The chief-
tain's name was Count Sidroc. Sidroc drew Turgar out of
the immediate scene of danger, and gave him a Danish
garment, directing him, at the saie time, to throw aside
his own, and then to follow him wherever he went, and
keep, clope to his side, as if he were a Dane. The boy,
relieved; from his terrors by this hope of protection, obeyed
implicitly. He followed Sidroc every where, and his life
was saved, ,The Danes, after killing all the others, ran-
sacked and plundered the monastery, broke open the tombs
in their search for concealed treat es, and, after taking
all that they could discover, they set the edifices on fire
wherever they could find wood-work ihat would burn, and
went away, leaving the bodies slowly burning in the grand
and terrible funeral pile.
,,From Orowland. the mara.ude4 proceeded, taking Turgr
with them, to -nother large anI Wealthy abbey in t~e neh-
bou.rhod, o which they plundered and destroyed, as they ad

the abbey at OCowland; Sidroc invade Trg t iis' o*w
attendant, keeping im s~lays near"hhimi. When the expedi-
tf6n had compileted'~hleir second conquest, they packed the
vi uibT~e~ which' they TAd obtaihed -from both abbeys in
wagons, and moved toward the southt. '1 hap'penet that
soime of these wagons were under Coutt Sidroc's charge,
and were in the rear of the line of' march. In passing a
ford, the wheels of one of these rear'wgons sanank n the
muddy bottom, and the horses; in attempting to draw-the -
wagon' out, became entangled and restive. While Sidarde's
whole attention was engrossed by this diffloulty, Turgar
contrived to steal away unobserved. He id himself lin'
neighboring wood, and, with a: degree of sagacity and' dis-
cretion remarkable in a boy of his years, he contrived to
find his way back to the smoking ruins of his home'at the
Abbey of Crowland.
The monks who had gone away to seek concealment at
the cell of the anchorite had returned, and were at Work
among the smoking ruins, saving what they could from the
fire, and gathering together the blackened remains of their
brethren for intermntt. They chose one of tie lnonks tiat
had escaped to succeed the abbot wio ihad been murdered,
repaired, sso-far as they could,- their' tuined4 edifices, and
mournfully resumed their functions as 'a" religion s 'cotm-
Many of the tales which the ancient chroniclers tell of
those times are romantic and incredible they may 'have
arisen, perhaps, in the first instance, in exaggerations of
incidents and events' w~hih really 6occurre6 d, a l were then
handed down from generation 't generation by 'ral tradi-
ti ill they foun6m historais' record the~i. The story
of the martyrdom of King Edmund is of this character.


Edmuxnd was a sort of' king over one of the nations of
Ango-Saxons called East Angles, who, as their wname
imports, .occupied a part of the -eastern portion uof' the
island. TheirTparticuart hostility to Edmund. was awakenjd,
accorudng to there story, ,in the following manner --
There was. a, certain bold and adventurous Dane, named
Lothbroc, who one day took his falcon on his aim and went
out alone in a boat on. the Baltic Sea, or in the straits con-
necting it with the German Ocean, intending to go to a
certain island and hunt. The falcon is a species of hawk
which they were.accutomed to train in those days, to attack
and bring down. bids .from the air; and falconry was, as
might -have -been expected, a very picturesque and exciting
species of hnbuting. The game which Lothbroc was going
to .seek consisted of the wild fowl which frequents some-
times, in vast numbers, the cliffs and shores of the islands in
those .eas. Before he reached his unting ground, ow-
ever, be was overtaken by st0nm, and hi-s boat was. driven
by.it, itt to sea. Accustomed to a4llsorts of adventures and
dangers y sea :ad. by land,, and sJflled in every operation
required in ll) possible emergencies, Lothbroc ontriyed to
keep Mis boat before the wind, and to bail out the water,.
fast as it, came.in, until at lepgthb, after being driven entirely
across .bthe hernan Qcean, .he was thrown upon the English
shore, where, with his hawk still upon his arm, he, safely

-e sknew that he w-as in thie;ccn try of the most deadly~
foes :of his nation andm rcen, a~n cordiAgly sought to con-
ce, rther tbheat a kn,to ino hia arrival. AIe wpas, how-
ever, found,; after. e da y, wapIering up andi down- ,n a
solitary woo, -s wascda1 -together -with his hawl,
9 ;King Edmpaund.

[A.Da. 860.

Edmua d was 90m~ iso m PQ8p!Weit;h 3i4 4s aid begprm,
and so astonished at the remarkable. rhanaqr ii "hich le had
been, bro wght t .w nghli shore, 1tat jb gui his
li~fe. and sPon diiscoering jai.g reit k lP olae n4 s;ii ,es
a lhuptnasman, be ecpqi~rjl ign f~ipia own seriqe,. apd treated
him .n Wth great icogicoon f hon iour.In aditio. to .his
iawks, A1pthbroc ha4 a grey ound, so that he cold htit
with the king in the fields ,as well as through the air. he
greylhund was very otr6dply .atache4dto hi .master.
The king's chief hntsmpan at this time was Beorn, and
B.epor spon becapevery e84vipps and jealous of Lothbrqc, on
acjqupt of hWs superior Jower a8nd skill, and of the hpniour-
abl cli tin tiQa ,hiGh they .procured fo.r .l.i. O~ne day,
when .4hey two were h'ituin: gone in lthe woods with their
dogs, Beorn killed his rival,. an hid .his body in a cthicket.
Bepra went home, his own. doqs following ,hnm, while the
greyhound remained to watch mournfully over the body of
his master. 'Chey asked Beoon _what was become of Loth-
broc, and he reqpled that he had gone off' into the wood the
day before, and be did 0ot know ,what bid.becop e-of him.
S La .iep meantime thie ..greoond remained faithfully
watoE4g" at the side of the bpdy eofhis master antil hunger
competed bii, to leave his .pst1in search of foQd, He went
home, and as soon as his wants were supplied he returned
immediately to the wood agair. This he did for several 4ays;
and.at .lenth 4is singular cp.- ct attractig a .ttentin, h
was fpllowed.by sonie of the,king's houebho.d, and the body
pf l- mundergeda, st, was foi4..,
Te gi4lt, of ,t4pe Iurder was with little AdileTiltA brought
home- Ao Beqrn ; pand a, appropriate pUnishment for
his cruelty to pa unfortunate and homeless stranger, the
kin x condemned him to be put on board le e boa in

72 ALF3iED T-TAE GREAT. (At. 860.
which the ill-fated Lothbroc had made his perilous voyage,
and pushed out 6 o sea.
The winds and storms-entering, it seems, into the plan,
and influenced by the same principles ofpoetical justice as
had governed the king---drove the boat, with its- terrified
. iariner, back again across to the mouth of the Baltic, as
they had brought Lothbroc 'to England. The boat was
thrown upon the beach, on Lothbroc's family domain.
Now Lothbroc had been in his own country a man of
high-rank and influence. He was of royal descent, and had
many friends. He hadtwo sons, men of enterprise and
energy; and it. so happened that the landing of Beorn took
place so near to them, that the 'tidings soon came to their
ears that their father's boat, in the hands of a Saxon stranger,
had arrived on the. coast. 'They immediately sought out the
stranger, and demanded what had became of their father.
Beorxr, in order to hide his own guilt, fabricated a tale of
Lothbroc's having been killed by Edmund, the king: of the
East. Angles. The .sons of the murdered Lothbroc were
incensed at, this news. They aroused their. countrymen by
calling upon them every where' to aid them in revenging
their father's death. A large naval force was accordingly
collected, and a formidable descent made upon the English
Now Edmund, according to the story, was- a humane and,
gentle-minded man, much more, interested in deeds of bene-
volence and' of piety than in warlike undertakings "and
exploits, and he was very far from being well prepared to
meet this fo~itidable foe. In fact, he sought refuge in a
retired residence called' Heglesdune. The Danes having
takeknsome Saaeon captives in a city which they had sacked
and destroyed,r compeled them to make known the place of

A.D. 860.] \STATE OF EITGLAND. 7- 3
the king's retreat. Hinquar, the captain of the Danes, sent
him a summons ti come and surrender both' himself and all
the treasures of his kingdom. Edmund refused. Hinquar
then laid siege to the palace and. surrounded it; and, finally,
his soldiers breaking in, put Edmund's attendants to death,
andbrought Edmund himself bound-into Hinquar's presence.
Hinquar decided that the unfortunate'captive should die.
He was, accordingly, first taken to a tree a3d scourged.
Then he was shot at with arrows until, as the account states,
his body was so full of the arrows that remained in the flesh
that there seemed to be no room for more. During all this
time Edmund continued to call upon the name of Christ, as
if finding spiritual refuge and strength in the Redeemier in
this his hour of extremity; and although these ejaculations
afforded, doubtless, great support and comfort to him, they
'only served to irritate to a perfect frenzy of exasperation his
implacable pagan foes. They continued to shoot arrows into
him until he was dead, and then they cut off his head and went
away, carrying the dissevered head with them. Their object
was to prevent his friends from having the satisfaction of inter-
ring it with the body. They carried it to what they supp6oed
a sufficient distance, and then threw it off into a wood by the
way-side, where they supposed it could not easily be found.
As soon, however, as the Danes had left the place, the
affrighted friends and followers of Edmund .came out by
degrees from their retreats and hiding places. They readily
found the dead body of their sovereign, as it lay, of course,
where the cruel deed of his -murder had been performed.
They sought with mournful and anxious steps, here andthere,
all around, for the head, until at length, when they came
into the wood whbre it was lying, they heard, as the historian
who records these events gravely testifies, a voice issuing from&~

it calling th m, and iiracting.their steps by the sommd. They
followed the -voice, and havingg seeovered the head :by. means
of this mirul guidane, they (buried it with the body.*
It -seem surprising to us that reasonable men should so0
readily 1ei eve such tales ms these; but there are, in ll ages
of en-e habits of belief, in. conformity to which
the iwole community go toge --- "... Vgwhiatever
is in harmony with, or analogous to, the general type of faith
prevailing ins-ur owwn generation. Nobody could be persuaded
now that a dead headcould speak, or a wolf change his nature
to -protect it,; but thousands -will credit a fortune-teller, or
believe :that a mesmerised patient -can have a mental per-
ception of scenes and occurrences thousand miles away.
There was a great deal .f supersti4ton in Tthe days when
Alfred was called to the throne, and thler was also, with it,
a great deal of geniiine, honest piety. The piety andlhe
superstition; too, were inextricablk-intfii ed and com-
bined togethsr.-, ey were all Catholics then, yielding an
implicit obedience to the Church of Rome, making regular
contributions in money to sustain the papal authority, and
looking to Rome as .the great and central point of Christian
influence and power, and the object of. supreme veneration.
We have already seen that the Saxons had established a
seminary at Rome, which king Ethelwolf, Alfred's father,
SA great many other tales are told of the miraculous phenomena
exhibited by the body of St. Edmund, which well illustrate the super-
stitious credulity of those times. One writer says seriously that when
the head was found a wolf had it, holding it carefully in his paws,
with all the gentleness and care that the most faithful dog would mani-
fest in guarding a trust committed to him by his master. This wolf
followed' the funeral 'procession to the tomb where the body was
deposited, and then disappeared. The head joined itself to the body
agaiuA where it had been severed, leaving only a purple line to m.irk


[A.Do. .870.


A.D. s8o.3 STATa ,P N A4. 75s
rebu.. and re-endowed4. ,One of the former Anglo-Saxon
kips.* o, oo d. i ,.a p.gront of one penqy from er ..house
in .the .in~esow Ao oe s.osrsf t-t. Peter-t :t fRome,
which tax, itoixS pnomixally smAl, prdueOd ae -.v mr coup-
siderable .suma n the ,agregtte, exceding for .i.asy ye.rs
the royal reveoiues of the ki4gs of EZgland. 4 pojinued
to 1be paid Reformation w .wpw;qp .away that tand all tee oliber national
ofts aof England.to .the JUatholic OAch i together.
TA the ae of Alfred, however, t.ere were not ofloy these
pubci-acts pf .acknowledgmeia seeog'isiig the papal sxpTie-
macy, but there was a strong tide of peraeoal rad a private
feeling of veneration and attachment to the mother church,
of which it is hard for us, -in the present divided -state of
Christendom, to conceive. The religious thoughts and
affetions of every plous heart ~ithrught wt the realm ceentred
in iR~lme. '.Beme, ,too, was- the .soeae of. manm racles, by
whi4bcl th'ale iaginwtiona of 'the superstitious and of tbe truly
"eVPout were excited, -wi.ch impressed Ahem with an idea of
power in which they felt a sort of confiding sense of prptee-
tii. MhiAs power was continually interposing now one
way rand as~ in. a.othoer, to protect virtue, to ppmish c-awe,
and te -testify to .the impious and to the devout, too each iz ,an
appropriate way, that their rasepes4ve deeds were the objects,
according to their character, of -the displeasure or of .the
approbation of heaven.
On one occasion the following incident is said to have
occurred. The narration of i will illustrate the ideas of
the time. A. child of about seen yeaeaold, named Kenelm,
succeeded to the throne in $e A ~lo-S-axon line. Being too
young to act for himse1, he-~was put under the charge of a
sister, who was to acts,-ag r-3ntjgzdi e boy became of age-
/ 2


The sister, ambitious of making the power thus delegated to
her entirely her own, decided on destroying her brother.
She commissioned a hired murderer to perpetrate the deed.
The murderer took the child into a wood, killed him, and
hid his body in a thiccket, in a certain cow-pasture at a place
called Clnt. The sister then assumed the sceptre in her
own name, and suppressed all inquiries in respect to the fate
of her brother; and his murder might have remained for ever
undiscovered, had it not been miraculously revealed at Rome.
A white dove flew into a church there one day, and let
fall upon the altar of St. Peter a paper, on which. was written,
in Anglo-Saxon characters,

In lirnt tni-hafthr, 'Ratuim king wrant, firit nuk OfErM,
tah. hrran-t. -
For a time nobody could read the writing. At length an
Anglo-Saxon saw it, and translated it into Latin, so that the
pope and all ,others could understand it. The' pope then sent
a letter to the authorities in England, who made search and
found the body.
But we must end these digressions, which we-have
indulged thus far in order to give the reader some distinct
conception of the ideas and habits of the times, and proceed,
in the next chapter, to relate the events immediately con-
nected with Alfred's accession to the throne.

[A.D. 870.




T the battle in which Alfred's brother, Etheired,
whom Alfred. succeeded on the throne, was
killed, as is briefly mentioned at the -close of
chapter fourth, Alfred himself, then a brave
and energetic young man, fought.by his side.
The party of Danes whom they were contending against -in
this fatal fight was the same one that came out in the expe-
dition organized by the sons of Lothbroe, and whose exploits
in destroying monasteries and convents were described, in
the last chapter. Soon after the events there narrated, this
formidable body of marauders moved westward, toward, that
part of the kingdom where the dominions more particularly
pertaining to the family of Alfred lay.
There was in those days a certain stronghold or castle on
the river Thames, about forty. miles west from L.ond,
which was not far from the confines of Ethelred's dominions.
The large and populous town of Reading now stands upon
the epot. It is at the confluence of the river Thames with
the Kennet, a small branch of the Thames, which here flows
into it from the south. The spot, having the waters of theb
rivers for a defence upon two sides.of it, was easily fortified.
A castle had been built, there, and,-as usual in such cases, a
town had sprung up about the walls.
The Danes advanced to this stronghold and took posses-


A-D, 87`1.]

[A.TD. 97V.

sion of it, and they made it for some time their head-quarters.
It was at once the centre from which they carried on their
enterprises in all directions about the island, and the refuge
to which they could always retreat when defeated and
pursued. In the possession of such a fastness they of
course became more formidable than ever. King Ethelred
determined to dislodge them. He raised, accordingly, as
large a force as his kingdom would furnish, and taking his
brother Aflred as his second in command, he advanced
toward Aeading- in a very resolute andi determined manner.
6e first encountered' a aIrge tody'of the Danes wiho were
out on a m-aading excurnsin. This party consisted only of
a small detachment, the' mAmi body of the army of the Danes
having been lfft at Reardfg t- sBtrregQAv ad LComaplete bhe
fortiffeations. They were" dggingg a trenchS from. river to
river, so as completely to ,nsu~e the castle, snr.v ma e it
entirely inaccessible on either side except by boats or a
bridge. With the earth thrown out of the trench- they were
making ai embankment on th1e i~tner side, so that an enemy,
after crossing the ditch, would' havn-a steep ascent tp climb,
defended too, as of course it would be-in such an emergency,
by long lines of desperate men upon tie t- op, hurling at the
assailants showers of javeliks' and ayrows.
W'ffe, there efre, a considerable portion of the Danes
were at work within and around their castle, to .make it as
nearty as possfiIe impregnable as' a pihce of defence, the
dethehrment above, referred to had- gowe- forth- for plunder,
under the command of some of' the bolder' and. more adven-
turouns spirits in the horde. This party Ethelred overtook.
A ffriuiat -battle was fbught. The Danes were defeated,
and driven off the' ground. They fled toward Reading.
Ethelred and Alfred i lrsued them. "The various parties" of

A~IP'~E'3t~ ~PB~ G~fa~Jt~~At~E~,.


Dnes. that were outside- of the fbrt~Meatons, etmplbyed in
completing, the outworks, or encamped in the neighBottr:t-
hood,- were surpAised 'and slaughtered-; or, at east, vast
numbers of them were killed, and the rest retretrated wiftii
thee w;orks-a- maddened at theif defeat, and burnii~g with
deasie for revenge.
The Saxons were not strong enough to dispossetssh fiem
of their fastness. On- the contrary, in a few days; the
Danes, having matured their plans, made a desperate saBy
against the Saxons, and, after a- very determined and& obsti-
nate conflict, they gained the victory, and drove the Saxons
off the ground. Some of the leacdmg Saxon chiefteins were
killed, and the whole country was thrown into great alarm at
tAe danger which was impending; that the Danes waurld swoon
gain the complete and undisputed possession of the whole land.
The Saxonsx- however, were not yet prepared to give up
the struggle. They rallied their forces, gathered new
recruits, reorganized their ranks, and made preparations for
another struggle. The Danes, too, feelizig fresh strength
and energy in consequence of theirsuccesses, formed' them-
selves in battle array, and, leaving' their stronghold, they
marched out into the open country in pursuit of their foe.
The two armies gradually' approached each other and pre-
pared for battle. Every thing portended a terrible conflict,
which was to be, in fact, the great final struggle.
The place where the armies met wa called in those
times IEscesdune, which means Ashdown. ft was, in fact,.
a hill-side covered with, ash trees. The name has become
shortened and softened in the course of the ten centuries
which have intervened since this celebrated battle, into
Aston; if, indeed,.as is generally supDosed, the Aston of the
present day is the locality of the ancient battle.

AM. 8144.3


The armies came into the vicinity of each other toward
the close. of the day. They were both eager for the con-
test or, at least, they pretended to be so, but they. waited
until the morning. The Danes divided their forces into
two bodies. Two kings commanded one division, and cer-
tain chieftains, called earls, directed the other. King
ilthelred ui4itcok to meet this order of battle by a cor-
responding distribution of his own troops, and he gave,
accordingly, to Alfred the command of one division, while
he himself was to lead the other. All things being thus
arranged, the hum and bustle of the two great encamp-
ments subsided at last, at a late hour, as the men sought
repose tuncer their rude tents, in preparation for the fatigues
and exposures of the coming day. c Sme slept; 'others
watched restlessly, and talked tog r-sleepless under the
influence of that strange excitement, half exhilaration and
half fear, which prevails in a camp on the eve of a battle.
The camp fires burned brightly all the night, and the senti-
nels kept ,vigilant watch, expecting every moment some
sudden dlarm.
The night passed quietly away. Ethelred and Alfred
both arose early. Alfred went out to arouse and muster
the.men in his division of the encampment, and to prepare
for battle. Ethelred, on. the other hand, sent for his priest,
and, assembling the officers in immediate attendance upon
him, commenced divine service in his tent--the service of
the mass, according to the forms and usages which, even in
that early day, were prescribed by the Catholic Church.
Alfred was thus bent on immediate and energetic action,
while Ethelred thought, that the hour for putting forth the.
exertion of human strength did not come until time had
been allowed for completing, in the most deliberate and

[A.D. 87 1.


solemn manner, the work of imploring the protection of
Ethelred seems by his conduct on this .occasion to have
inherited from his father, even more than Alfred, the spirit
of religious devotion, at least so far as the strict and faithful
observance of religious forms was concerned. There was,
it is true, a particular reason in this case why the forms of
divine service should be faithfully observed, and that is, that
the war was considered in a great measure a religious war.
The Danes were pagans. The Saxons were Christians.
In making their attacks upon the dominions of Ethelred,
the ruthless invaders were animated by a special hatred of
the name of Christ, and they evinced a special hostility
toward every. edifice, or institution, or observance which
bore the Christian name. The Saxons, therefore, in resist-
ing them, felt that they were not only fighting for their own
possessions and for their own lives, but that they were
defending the kingdom of God, and that he, looking down
from his throne in the heavens, regarded them as the
champions of his cause; and, consequently, that he would
either protect them in the struggle, or, if they fell, that he
would receive them to mansions of special glory and happi-
ness in heaven, as martyrs who had shed their blood in his
service and for his glory.
Taking this view of the subject, Ethelred, instead of
going out to battle at the early dawn, collected his officers.
into his tent, and formed them into a religious congrega-
tion. Alfred, on the other hand, ftll of impetuosity and
ardour, was arousing his men, animating them by his words
of encouragement and by the influence of his example, and
making, as energetically as possible, all the preparations
necessary for the approaching conflict.

A.D. s~ri. '


I'n fat, Alfred, though his brother -was king, and he
himself only a lieutenant-general under him, had been
accustomed, to take the lead in ali the military operations
of the army, on account of the: superior energy_ resolutiEs,
and taet whief- he evinced, even in this early period of his'
life. His brothers, though -they retained the sceptre, as it
fell successively into their hands, relied mainly on, his wisdom
and courage in all: their efforts tq defend, it ,- and& Ethelted
may have been somewhat more ta his ease, in listening to
the priest's prayers in his& tent, from* knowing that the
arrangements for marshaMng and directing a1 largee part of
thee force were in such good hands.
The two encampftents of ANfred and Etheh-ed seem to
have been at some little distance from each other. Alfred
was impatient at Ethelred-s delay. He asked the reason
for it. They told him that Ethelred was attending mass,
and that he had said; he should on no account leave his tent.
until the service was concluded. Alfred, in the mean time,
took possession of a gentle elevation of land, which now
would' give him an advantage in the conflict. A single
thorn-tree, growing there alone, marked the spot. The
Danes advanced to attack him, expecting that, as he was
not sustained by Ethelred's division of the army, he would
be easily overpowered and driven from his post.
Alfred himself felt an extreme and feverish anxiety at
Ethelred's delay. He fought, however, with the greatest
determination and bravery. The thorn-tree continued to'be
the centre of the conflict for a long time, and as the morning
advanced, it became more and more doubtful how it would
end. At lastC Ethelred, having finished his devotional ser-
vices, came forth from his camp at the head of his division,
and advanced vigorously to his faltering Brother's aid. This

LAAi.D. 871.

A.D. 871.] ALVSEE'9 ACCrSONI 8O-
soon des&edr teW evantist ThegI Deas wVre eoPtowesred
and pW~ to' fighti- They fNed ae f tht it allb di Oeasn,
wherever each separate band saw the readiest prosat off-
enewpe frtom the immediate vengeance of their -prsiuers.
Tk3ey soon -however, al began il eo ~ enw aocerd@ o seek- tAe
r~ais wMeEhi walt eewdnef tlhtem ~o~< sheo szghell ~st
Reading. They were madly pursued, aad, nfasaered~ a9 they
flbd,: by Alfedr't aid Ethelred's ard my. Vast' -im5ber~s fel.
The rUnemnan secured their retreat, shut themselves uy witdi
their walls, and begat to' devote tfhedir eageff d egennees
atfinttoi t ttohe- work of repairiY g and maRing- good' their
This victory ehang-ed for thie time being f- t whole faee
of affirs-, and led, iw various ways, to- very important eose-
qnences, the most important of which' was, as we- shall
presently see; that it was the means indieetly of briging
Alfred! soon=to the throne: As to thee ceaue of. the vietory,
or rather the miaamer i wirhi~c it was eeomplisehed, the
wri.ers of the times give very different aceounts, according
as- their respective eharaeterm incline them to. commend -in
man a feeling of quiet trust and. confience hir GOod- when
paced in circumstances of dimffi lty or danger, or a, vigorous
and resolute exertion of his owi powers. Alfred looked fbr
deliveravee tfo the determined assaiwts and heavy blbrws
which he cotM bring to bear- tpo his pagan- enemies- with-
weapons of steel around the thorn-tree in the field. Ethelred
trusLed to- his hope- obtaining, by hit prayers in his tent,
the effeedtial protection of heaven; and they who have
written the' stdcry differ, as they wheo rea& fi will, on the
question, to w-hose instrumenitality the 'Vtory- is to be
ascribed. One says :th-t Alfred gained it by his swordf.
Another, that Alftred exerted his, strength and his valour in


vain, and was saved from defeat and destruction only by the
intervention of Ethelred, bringing with him the blessing of
In fact, the various narratives of these ancient events,
which are found at the present day in the old chronicles that
record them, differ always very essentially, not only in respect
to matters of opinion, and to the point of view in which they
are to be regarded, but .also in respect to questions of fact.
Even the place where this battle was fought, notwithstand-
ing what w~e have said about the derivation of Aston from
.Escesdune, is not absolutely certain. There is in the same
vicinity another town called Ashbury, which claims the
honour.- One reason for supposing that this last is the true
locality is that there are the ruins of an ancient monument
here, which tradition says was a monument built to com-
memorate the death of a Danish chieftain slain .here by
Alfred. There is also in the neighbourhood another very
singular monument called The White Horse, which also has
the reputation of having been fashioned to commemorate
Alfred's victories. The White Horse is a rude representa-
tion of a horse, formed -by cutting away the turf from the
steep slope of a hill, so as to expose a portion of the white
surface of the chalky rock below of such a form that the
figure is called a horse, though they who see it seem to think
it might as well have been called a dog. The name, how-
ever, of The White Horse has come down with it from
ancient times, and the hill on which it is cut is known as
The White Horse Hill. Some ingenious antiquarians think.
they find evidence that this gigantic profile was made to,
commemorate the victory obtained by Alfred aad Ethelred.
over the Danes at the ancient A Escesdune.
However this may be, and whatever view we may take of


the comparative influence of Alfred's energetic action and
Ethelred's religious faith in the defeat of the Danes at this
great battle, it is certain that. the results of it were :very
momentous to all- concerned. Ethelred received a wounds
either in this battle or in some of the. smaller contests and
collisions which followed it-under the effects of which he
pined and lingered for 'ome months, and then died. Alfred,
by his decision and courage on the day of the battle, and by
the ardour and resolution with which he pressed all the sub-
sequent operations during the period of Ethelred's decline,
made himself still more, conspicuous in the eyes of his
countrymen than he had ever been before. In looking for-
ward t Ethelred's approaching death, the people accordingly
began to turn their eyes _to Alfred as his successor. There
were children of some of his older brothers living at that
time,/and they, according to all received principles of heredi-
tary/right, would naturally succeed to the throne; but the
nation seems to have thought that the crisis was too serious,
and the dangers which threatened their country were too.
imminent, to justify putting any child upon the throne. The
accession of one of those children would have been the
signal for a terrible and protracted struggle among powerful
relatives and friends for the regency during the minority of
the youthful sovereign; and this, while the-Danes remained
in their stronghold at Reading, in. daily expectation of new
reinforcements from beyond the sea, would have plunged the
country in hopeless ruin. They turned their eyes toward
Alfred, therefore, as the sovereign to whom they were to
bow so soon as Ethelred should cease to breathe.
'In the mean time the Danes, far from being subdued by
the adverse turn of fortune which had befallen them,
strengthened themselves in their fortress, made desperate


saklies from their :inre..hments, attacked their foes on every
possible occasion, and kept the country in contimlal .alarm.,
Tey at :length -o far recruited their strength, and intimi-
dated and discouraged their foes, -whose king and ;nominal
leader, iEtheired, was now less able (than ever to resist. them,
as to take te field .agana. -They -&tought more pitched
battles; and, though the Saxon Chroniclers ,who narrate
these events are very reluctat -to admit that -the Saxoxs
were really vanquished in these struggles, -hey allow that
the Danes [kept the ground which they successively Ltook post
upon, and the country were forced to retire.
In *ihe -meaeatime, -too,. new parties ,f Dtanes were con-
ti un ly arriving marauding and plundering e~xursions .over the .country.
The JDanes at. Reading were reinforced by these bands,
which made the icoxniet between them and :Lthelred's forces
more unequal still. Alfred did his autm~St to resist the tide
of ill ,fota-e, 4ith the limited and doi4tful authority which
he held; but all was in vain. Ethelred, worn down probably
with the anxiety and depression which the situation of his
kingdom brought -upon him,. lingered for a time, and then
died, and Alfred was by general consent called toithe throne.
This was in the year 871.
It was a: matter :of moment to find a safe and secure
place of deposit for the body of Ethelred, who, as a Chris-
tian slain an -coutending with pagans, was Ato be considered
a martyr. .IiiMs memoryy was honoured .as hat of one who
had sacrificed his life in defence of the Christian faith. They
kiae*er very well that even his lifeless remains would not be
safe from the vengeance of his foes unless they were placed
effeqtuday w.eynd the reach qf tihse j esperate ,psmaraut ers.



A.. 871.3 ALFRED'S ACCOSSIO13. 87
There was far to the south, in Dorsetshire, on the southern
coast of England, a monastery, at Wimborne, a very sacred
spot, worthy to be selected as a place of royal sepulture.
The spot has continued sacred to the present day; and it
has now, upon the site, as is supposed, of the ancient monas-
tery, a grand cathedral church or minster, full of monuments
of former days, and impressing all beholders with its solemn
architectural grandeur. 'Here they conveyed the body -of
Etheired and interred it. It was a place of sacred seclu-
dion, where there reigned a solemn stillness and awe, 'which
no tCristian hostility would ever have dared to disturb. The
sacrilegious paganism of -th.e Danes, however, would have
respected it but little ifthey had ever found access to it; but
they did not. The body of Ethelred remained undisturbed;
and, -many centuries afterward, some -travellers who visited
the spot recorded .the fact -that there was a monument
there with -this inscription:-

Such is thd commonly received opinion of the death of
Ethelred. And yet some of the critical historians of modern
times, who find cause to doubt or disbelieve a very large
portion of what is stated in ancient 'records, attempt to
prove that Ethelred was not killed by the Danes at all, but
that he died of the plague, which terrible disease was at
that time prevailing in that part of England. Ajt all events,
he died, and Alfred, his brother, was called to reign in Ais
"Here rests the body of Bthelred, king .f West Saraox, :the
martyr, who died bj the hands of the pagan Danes, on the 23rd of
April, in the year of our Lgrd 871L"




HE historians say that Alfred was very unwill-
ing to assume the crown when the death of
Ethelred presented it to him. If it had been
an object of ambition or desire, there would probably
have been a rival claimant, whose right would perhaps
have proved superior to his own, since it appears that
one or more of the brothers who reigned before him left
a son, wlose claim to the inheritance, if the inheritance
had been worth claiming, would have been stronger than
that of their uncle. The son of. the oldest son takes pre-
cedence always of the brother; for hereditary rights, like
water, never move laterally so long as they can continue to
The nobles, however, and chieftains, and all the leading
powers of the kingdom of Wessex, which was the particular
kingdom which descended from Alfred's ancestors, united to
urge Alfred to take the throne. His father had, indeed,
designated him as the successor of his brothers by his will,
though how far a monarch may properly control by his will
the disposal of his realm is a matter of great uncertainty.
Alfred yielded at length to these solicitations, and deter-
mined on assuming the sovereign power. He went first to
Wimborne to attend to the funeral solemnities 'which were
to be observed at the royal brother's burial. He then went

[A.D 871.

1. -1 EVERSE84 8

to Winchester, which, as well as Wifmborne, is in the south-
of England, to be crowned and anointed, king. Winchester
was, even in those early days, a great ecclesiastical centre.
It was for some time the capital of the West Saxon realm.
It was a very sacred place, and the crown was there placed
upon Alfred's head, with the most imposing and solemn
ceremonies. It is a curious and remarkable'fact, that the
spots which were consecrated in those early days' by the
religious establishments of the time, have preserved in
almost every case their sacredness to the present day.
Winchester is now famed all over England for its great
cathedral church, and the vast religious establishment
which has. its seat there-the annual revenues and expen-
ditures of which are very considerable. The income of
4e bishop alone was for many years double that of the
salary of the President of the United States. The Bishop
of Winchester is widely celebrated, therefore, all over
England, for his wealth, his ecclesiastical power, the
architectural grandeur of the cathedral church, and the
wealth and importance of the college of ecclesiastics over
which he presides.
It was at Winchester that Alfred was crowned. As soon
as the ceremony was performed he took the field, collected
his forces, and went to meet the Danes again. He found
the country in a most deplorable condition. The Danes had
extended and strengthened their positions. They had got
possession of many of the towns, and not content with plun-
dering castles and- Beginning to settle upon them, as if they intended to make
Alfred's,new kingdom their permanent abode. The forces
of the Saxons, on the other hand, were scattered and dis-
couraged. There seemed no hope left to them of making,

A.P. STI-11


[A.D. 871.

head against their pestiferous invaders. If they were de-
feated, their cruel conquerors showed4no moderation and
no meroy in their victory; and if they conquered, it was
only to suppress for a moment one horde, with a certainty
o beinattacked immediately by another, more recently
arrive and more determined and relentless than those
before hem.
Alfied succeeded, however, by means of the influence of
his personal character, and by the very active and efficient
exertion that he made, in concentrating -what forces re-
main and in preparing for a renewal of the contest.
The frst great battle that was fought was at Wilton.. This
was thin a month of his accession to the throne. The
battle as very obstinately fought; at the first onset Alfred's
troops carried all before them, and there was every prospect
that hb would win the day. In the end, however, the tide
of vict ry turned in favour of the Danes, and Alfred and his
troops were driven from the field. There was an immense
loss ox both sides; in fact, both armies were, for the time,
pretty effectually disabled, and each seems to have shrunk
from a renewal of the contest. Instead, therefore, of fighting
again, the two commanders entered into negotiations. Hubba
was the name of the Danish chieftain. In the end, he made
a treaty with Alfred, by which he agreed to retire from
Alfred's dominions, and leave him in peace, provided that
Alfred would not interfere with him in his wars in any
other part of England. Alfred's kingdom was Wessex.
Besides Wessex, there was Essex, Mercia, and Northumber-
land. Hubba and his Danes, fding that Alfred was likely
to prove too formidable an antagonist for them easily to
-subdue, thought it would be most prudent to give up one
kingdom out of the four, on condition of not having Alfred



to contend against in their depredation uson, the other
three. They accordingly made the treaty, and the DAnas
withdrew. They evamated their posts ind sirougholds ia
Wessex, and went down the Thames t4 1ondfn, whkeh was
in Mercia, and there commoneed a new voure of MDnquest
and plunder, where they had no inch powerful foe to oppose
Buthred was the king of Moiela. He eoidd not resist
Hubba and his Danes alone, end be ecoad to now have
Alfed's assistance. Alfred was cea ired very mueh at the
time, and has been condemned often since, for moving thus
made a separate peace for himself and his omwi inaediato
dominions, and abandoned his natural allies and friends, the
people of the other Saxon kingdoms. To make a. peace
with savage and relentless pagans, on tbh express condition
of leaving his fellow-Christian neighbours -at their mercy,
has been eoneidered ungenerous, at least, if it was not
unjust. On the other hand, those who vindicate his cont
duct maintain that it was his duty- to secure the pease ao4
welfare of his own realmt, leaving other sovereigns to take'
eare of their s and that he would have deone very wrmag tP
sacrfiee the property and lives of his own iinteudiater ,ubh,
jets to a mere point of honour, when it was utterly out of
his power to protect them and his ieighbones tom,
However this may be, Buthred, finding that ha opuld nat
have Alfred"^ aid, and that 'ie could not protect .jis kingsom
by any force which he codai himself -bring- into te fieW,
tried negotiations toe, a~e he eueeeded in buying off the
lDaes with money. He paid them a large suam, on condi.
tion of their leraing his dominions fnaRy .aod 4r evwer, r4
not~ coming to molmet him any more. Such t, 0,sise eas
this is always a very desperate and hopeless eo. BDaYing
3 ,

A.11. 872.]


off robbers, or beggars, or false accusers, or oppressors of
any kind, is only to encourage them to come again, after a
brief- interval# under some frivolous pretext, with fresh
demands or new oppressions, that they may be bought off
again with higher pay. At least Buthred found it so in this
case. Hubba went northward for a time, into the kingdom
of Northumberland, and, after various conquests and plun-
derings there, he came back again into Mercia, on the plea
that there was a scarcity of provisions in the northern king-
dom, and he was .obliged to come back. Buthred bought
him off again with a larger sum of money. Hubba scarcely
left the kingdom this time, but- spent the money with his
army, in carousing and excesses, and then went to-robbing
and plundering as before. Buthred, at last, reduced to
despair, and seeing no hope of escape from the terrible pest
with which his kingdom was infested, abandoned the country
and escaped to Rome. They received him as an exiled
monarch, in the Saxon school, where he soon after died a
prey to grief and despair..
The Danes overturned what remained of Buthred's
government. They destroyed a famous mausoleum, the
ancient burial place of the Mercian kings. This devasta-
tion of the abodes of the dead was a sort of recreation-
a savage a$isement, to vary the more serious, and dan.
gerous excitements attending their contests with the living.
They found an officer of Buthred's government, named
Oeolwulf, who, though a Saxon, was willing, through his
love of place and power, to accept of the office of king in
subordination to the Danes, and hold it at their disposal,
paying a n annual tribute to them. Oeolwulf was execrated
by his countrymen, who considered him a. traitor. He, in
ihis turn, oppressed and tyrannised over them.

EA.Mc. 87-to

A~D. 874.] ~REVER'SBSE

In the meantime, a net- leader, with a fresh1 hordee o-
Danes, had landed in England. His name wda, -Halfden
Halfden came with a considerable fleet of ships, and -after
landing his mend and' performing various adventures iznothet
parts- of England, he began to turn his thoughts toward
Alfred's dominions. Alfred .did not pay particular attention
to Halfden's movements at- first, as he supposed that his
treaty with Hubba had bound the whole nation of the Danes
not to encroach upon his realm, whatever theAnight do in
respect to the other Saxon kingdoms. Alfred had a famous
castle at Wareham, on the southern coast of the island, It
was situated on a bay which lies in what is now Dorsetahireb
This castle was the strongest place in his dominion. -It
was garrisoned and guarded but not with any special vigil,
ance, as no one expected an attack upon it. Halfden
brought his fleet to the southern shore of the. island, and,
organising an expedition there, he put to sea, and before
any one suspected his design, he entered the bay, surprised
and attacked Wareham Castle, and took it. Alfred and the
people of his realm were not only astonished and alarmed at
the loss of the castle, but they were filled with indignation
at the treachery of the. Danes in violating their treaty by
attacking it. Halfden said, however, that he was an inde*
pendent chieftain, .acting in his own name, and was not
bound at all by any obligations entered into by Hubba
There followed after this a series of contests and truces.
-during which treacherous wars alternated with still more
treacherous and illusive periods of peace, neither party, on
the, whole, gaining any decided victory The Danes, at oW
imez f after agreeing upon a cessation of hostilities, suddenly
fell upon a large squadron of Alfred's horse, who, relying on
the truce, were moving across ithe country. too much off their*

A-M. 874.]


guard. The Daoes d"ismoanted and drove off the men, and
seittd the horses and thus provided thenselves with cavalry,
a. species of force which it is obvious they could not easily
bring, in any ships which they outld then coastradt, maross
the. German Ocean. Wi&hoet waiting for Alfred to recover
from the surprise and consternation which this unexpected
treachery ocasioened, the newly-mounted troop of Danes
rode rapidly along the southern coast of England till they
eame to the town of Exeter. Its name was in those days
lxIxmneester It Was then, as it is now a very important
t6wn. It has sinee acquired a mournful celebrity as the
plemn of refuge, and the scene of suffering of Queen Henri-
etta Maria, the mother of Charles the Second,* The loss of
this place was a new A~d heavy cloud over Alfred's pros-
peets. It placed the whole southern coast of his realm in
the hands of h1s enemies, and seemed to portend for the
whole interior of the. Geontry a period of hopeless and irre-
aeiable oalatiaty.
It seem, too, from vai4ous UnequivoU l statement~ and
AlUuiont ce obtained in the narratives of the times, that Alfred
did not possess, dmarig this period of his reign, the respect
and affection of hi i subject. He is a-custed, or, rather, not
dirtetly trusted, but spoken of as generally known to be
gtdlty of many faults which alienated the hearts of his
countrynmen from him, a, d prepared them to conside" his
eOlamities as the judgmenas of Heaven. M 1e was young and
ardtet, ftill o youthful impetitaity and rfie, and was elated
at his elevation to tihe throne and, duttring the period while
the Danes left hlii in peee, Xnter the treaties he had maade
with Itibbse, h gave hitvelf Up to pleasaiV, and not always
r h accoaut of Jfenrietta's adventures and satferings at'
xeeteri see the Hiftory of Chales II., chap. ii a



to innocent pleasure. They charged him, too, with being
tyrannical and oppressive in his government, being so devoted
to gratifying his own ambition and love of personal indul-
gence that. he neglected his government, sacrificed the
interests and the welfare of his subjects, and exercised his
regal powers in a very despotic and arbitrary manner.
It is very difficult to decide, at this late day, how far this
disposition to find fault with Alfred's early administration of
his government arose from, or was aggravated by, the mis-
fortunes and calamities which befell him. On the one hand,
it would not be surprising if, young, and arduous, and
impetuous as he was at this period of his life, he should have
fallen into the errors and faults which youthful monarchs
are very prone to commit oh being suddenly raised to power.
But then, on the other hand, men are prone, in all ages of
the world, and most especially in such rude and uncultivated
times as these were, to judge military and governmental
action by the sole criterion of success. Thus, when they
found that Alfred's measures, one after another, failed in
protecting his country, that the impending calamities burst
successively upon them, notwithstanding all Alfred's efforts
to avert them, it was natural that they should look at and
exaggerate his faults, and charge all their national misfor-
tunes to the -influence of them.
There was a certain Saint Neot, a kinsman. and religious
counsellor of Alfred, the history of whose life was afterward
written by the abbot of *Crowland, the monastery whose
destruction by the Danes-was described.in a former chapter.
In this narrative it is- said that Nleot often rebuked Alfred
in the severest terms for ehis sinful course of life, predicting
the most fatal consequences if he did not reform, and using
language which only a very culpable degree of remissness

AM. 874.]



and irregularity osuld Justify. "You glory," said he, one
day# -whbn addressing the king, "in your pride and power;
and. are determined and obdurate in your iniquity. But
there is a terrible retribution in store for you. I entreat
you to listen to my counsels, amend your life, and govern
your people with moderation and justice,' instead of tyranny
and oppression, and thus avert if you can, before it is too
late, the impending judgments of heaven."
Such language as this it is obvious that only a very
serious dereliction of duty on Alfred's part could call for or
jristify; but, whatever he may have done to deservae. ihis
offences were so fully expiated by his subsequent sufferings,
and he atoned for them so nobly, too, by the wisdom, the
prudence, the faithful and devoted patriotism of his later
career, that mankind have been disposed to pass by the
faults of his early years without attempting to scrutinize
them too closely. The noblest human spirits are always,, in
some periods of their existence, or in-some aspects of their
characters, strangely weakened by infirmities and frailties,
and deformed by sin. This is human nature, We like- to
imagine that we find exceptions, and to see specimens of
moral perfection in our friendsior in the historical characters
whose general course of action- we admire; but there are no
exceptions. To err and to sin, at some times and in some
ways,. is the common, universal, and inevitable lot of
-At the time when Halfden and his followers seized
Wareham Castle and Exeter, Alfred had been several years
upon the throne, during which time these derelictions from .
duty took place, so far as they existed at all. But now,
alarmed at the imminence of the impending danger, which
threatened not only the welfare of his -people, but his own


[A.Dai 976.

kingdom and even his life,-for one Saxon monarch had been
driven from his dominions, as we have seen, and had die& a
miserable exile at Rome,- Alfred aroused himself in earnest
to the work of regaining his lost influence among his people,
.and recovering their alienated affections.
He accordingly, as his first step,. convened a great
assembly of the leading chieftains and noblemen of the
realm, and made addresses to them, in which he urged upon
them the imminence of the danger which threatened their
common country, and pressed them to unite vigorously -and
energetically with him to contend against their common foe.
They must make great sacrifices, he said, both of their
comfort and ease, as well as of their wealth, to resist suc-
cessfully so imminent a danger. He summoned them to
arms, and .urged them to contribute the means necessary to
pay the expense of a vigorous prosecution of the war.
These harangues, and the ardour and determination which
Alfred manifested himself at the time of making them, were
successful. The ration aroused itself to new exertions, and
for a time-there was a prospect that the country would be
Among the other measures to which Alfred resorted in
this emergency was the attempt to encounter the Danes
upon their own element, by building and equipping a fleet of
ships, with whicft to proceed to sea, in order to meet and
attack upon the water certain new bodies of invaders, who
-werepn- the way to join the Danes already on the island-
coming, as -rumour said, along the southern shore. In
attempting to build up a naval power, the greatest difficulty
always is to provide seamen, It is muclb easier to build
ships than to train sailors. .To man his little fleet, Alfred
had to enlist such half-savage foreigners as could be found

A.D.SM] 7~.



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