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Bretwelda-or wide ruler—a name equivalent to that of Emperor, as it expressed a royalty superior to that of kings. Though ostentatiously assumed at intervals by seven of the chiefs of states which happened for a short time to be predominant over two or three of the others, this title had never been so justly earned or so nobly borne: and anarchy was again threatened to the land when the strong hand and clear intellect were withdrawn in 837.




418. State of Britain after the depar- 511. Battle of Baden Hill, near Bath, ture of the Romans. where Cerdic is defeated by Arthur.

447. Vortigern, Prince of the Dan

monii, elected sovereign of 521. Cerdic founds the West Saxon
South Britain. Invites the
kingdom, and is crowned at
Saxons to defend the British
against the ravages of the Picts
and Scots and his rivals.

449. The first disembarkation of the
Saxons in the Isle of Thanet.
450. The Saxons send for further
reinforcements, and expel the
Picts and Scots.

452. Hengist sends for further supplies. 454. Vortigern deprived of all authority.

455. Contests between the Britons and the Saxons.

Hengist declared King of Kent. 458. The defeated Britons retire into Wales and Armorica, or Brittany, in France.

467. The famous Arthur, King of
Devon and Cornwall.
475. Vortimer poisoned by his mother-
in-law, Rowena.

527. Kingdom of the East Angles founded.

530. Cerdic subdues the Isle of Wight, and slaughters the inhabitants. 542. King Arthur is slain, and buried at Glastonbury.

Ida, the first king of Northumberland.



584. The kingdom of Mercia founded.
593. Fifth king of Kent and sixth
monarch of Britain began to

597. Arrival of St. Augustine, who
settles at Canterbury.
709. The Saxon laws promulgated
by Ina, king of the West

Kingdom of the East Angles founded.

476. Hengist murders Vortigern and
his principal nobility.
488. Death of Hengist.

787. First arrival of the Danes in
810-812. Egbert reduces the Welsh of
South Wales.

824. Termination of the Saxon Hep-

495. Cerdic, a Saxon general, arrives in Britain, from whom descended the Kings of England 827. Egbert, the first sole monarch of to Edward the Confessor. the kingdom. 497-527. Various contests between 837. Death of Egbert.

Cerdic and the Britons.



A.D. 837 to A.D. 1066.

§ 1. Sea-kings, or Norsemen. § 2. Northern pirates. Scandinavian songs. § 3. Invasion of the Danes, and capture of York, &c.§ 4. Alfred the Great.-§ 5. The Anglo-Saxon and Danish territories. § 6. Government and laws.-§ 7. Genius and energy of Alfred. Reign of Edward.-§ 8. Athelstane's power and conquests.- 9. Edmund, son of Athelstane.-§ 10. Reign of Edred. State of the Church and clergy. St. Dunstan. His influence and pretended miracles. § 11. Reign of Edwy. His contests with St. Dunstan. -§ 12. Reign of Edgar. His fortunate position.-§ 13. Reign of Edward. Assassinated.-§ 14. Reign of Ethelred II. Incursions of the Danes, and their massacre.-§ 15. Sweyn, King of Denmark. His conquest of England.-§ 16. Invasion of Canute. Death of Ethelred. Edmund Ironside. He divides the kingdom with Canute. Accession of Canute after the death of Edmund. §. 17. The principal acts of his reign. His character. His popularity. He rebukes the flatteries of his courtiers. His devotion to the Church. His death. Emma, Queen of Canute. Reign of Harold Harefoot. § 18. Hardicanute.-§ 19. Edward the Confessor, Earl Godwin. Earl Godwin's revolt, and seizure of his estates.-§ 20. Eustace of Bologne.-§ 21. Visit of William, Duke of Normandy.— § 22. Rise of Harold. Pope Nicholas II.-§ 23. Harold succeeds to the crown.

§ 1. Ir needed a strong hand and clear intellect to resist the enemies which now made their appearance in the land. Egbert's death, besides depriving his subjects of his guidance, had weakened the country by a division of his various states among his sons. Wessex was again a separate kingdom, and might have begun its course of victory and supremacy once more against the other populations, but was diverted from its dreams of ambition, if any it entertained, by a danger that made it apply all its efforts to self-defence. This was an


invasion of a new and totally uncivilized people, who made landings in various parts of the country, and everywhere marked their presence with the blood of all they met. Possession had by this time entirely obliterated from the descendants of Hengist and Horsa the nature and circumstances of their own invasion. But if the wish of the poet had been granted them, "to see ourselves as others see us," they could not have had a closer presentment of their own onslaughts upon the Romanized Celts. The same brutal disregard of life, and enmity to the very appearance of refinement, the same truculent beliefs and degrading ideas of a future life characterized the Sea-kings, or Norsemen, who now descended on our shores, as had carried terror and destruction among the cities and villas of that earlier time. While the Saxons were irritated at the audacity of those imitators of their own achievements, and wondering at the lawlessness of those pitiless barbarians, horde after horde of armed Danes and Norwegians mounted their small barks in the bays and creeks of the Baltic, and in three days' sail, when they availed themselves of a favourable wind, ran them on the beach of our eastern coast. Gathering the crews of as many of them as they could, they murdered, burned, and pillaged throughout the district where they had landed; and loaded with booty, and shrieking songs of triumph over the massacre of monks and women, betook themselves to the sea again, and carried the same devastation to some other part of the shore. The first landing in Cornwall (which occurred in Egbert's life-time) was repulsed with loss, and the native Britons still occupying that district were ruthlessly punished for the aid they had afforded the invader. The next landings were in greater force, and in another quarter. Division and enmity had broken out in the newly-resuscitated Deira, Bernicia, and Mercia. They owned the uneasy sway of the younger son of Egbert, and were paralyzed with the diver sity, unexpectedness, and fury of the assaults.

A.D. 837-872.]



Yet the Saxons retained the ancient courage of their race. The Norsemen found no effeminized population to contend with, but had to fight for every inch of ground. One great battle still continues the theme of ballad and tradition. In the fields of Surrey, where the gentle eminence called Leith Hill now looks over one of the richest views in England, and the eye ranges unchecked over swelling down and pastoral valley, till the blue distance of the chalk ranges of Sussex forms a delightful framework to the picture, there was an enormous gathering of all the forces of the rovers and Saxons. At Aclea, now called Ockley, Ethelwolf, the son of Egbert, at the head of the men of Wessex, inflicted a frightful overthrow upon the heathen, and avenged the defeat he had sustained at the beautiful village of Charmouth, in Devonshire, eleven years before. When time and the remembrance of danger had called the imaginative faculties of the combatants into play, the popular legends circulating in the huts of the Saxons represented the Danes as gifted with more than human skill. The peasantry still point out a ruined castle which they believe was battered down by the Norsemen's stone-throwing machines planted on Berry Hill, at a distance of two miles. Defeats and repulses, however, seemed of no use against those swarms of homeless desperadoes. If driven off in Wessex, they appeared in the north; if they were dispersed by the courage of Bishop Ealstan, of Sherborne, on the Parret, they crowded faster than ever into the Isle of Sheppey, and established themselves in Thanet. But in a short time the multitudes who had landed on the eastern shore began to taste the sweets of a settled home, they fixed permanent colonies, guarded by camps and garrisons, a little way inland, and gradually drove the inhabitants towards the west, as their now harassed and unconscious predecessors had done the Gael.

§ 2. The chief of the first successful invasion was an ancient pirate of the name of Regner Lodbrog. The pride or

patriotism of his descendants has enriched him with noble birth and the hand of a Danish princess; but his contemporaries seem to have had a juster notion of his position, and distinguished him by an allusion to the leather trousers— Lodbrog-with which he ornamented his person, and which, though elevated into the romantic by the legend of their miraculous qualities, were probably merely a luxury beyond the reach of humbler men. Regner and his three sons made many expeditions against the coasts of England, in which we do not hear of a single vessel being sent out to meet them. Had the old Saxon love of adventure and tendency to maritime enterprise entirely died out? What had become of the White Horse of the original settlers, which waved from so many masts and was seen on every shore when Vortigern summoned it to his aid? The island seems to have been entirely without a fleet, and its subjugation was the inevitable. result. Encouraged by the success of his previous attempts, the leather-loined pirate now meditated a greater exploit. He built two vessels of extraordinary size, filled them with his bravest followers, and waiting for a favourable breeze, slipped his anchors at the mouth of the Baltic, and bore right down on the coast of York. But the ships were too large to run uninjured on the sand; they were beaten to pieces by the surf, and the invaders found themselves on a hostile strand, with nothing but their swords and courage, and no refuge in case of a reverse. Old Regner was undeterred by these considerations, and began his march. He carried on the same system of extermination and rapine as if he had had a place of retreat and safety, but was finally brought to a pause when Ella, the King of Northumbria, with an army, barred up his way. The battle was soon decided; the pirates were killed to the last man, and their leader taken prisoner, to be reserved for a more lingering death. His death it is necessary to look at; for, whether the reported circumstances were true or false, it exercised a permanent influence on the course

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