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•f Cbnin. Snx. III. The chronicle tells Qs that Edirmid built m iamn Old

f "tifie'l it at BadecAnwyllan in Pracland, which Gibton rone^ea to b»


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Edward had ^>een thrice married, and left a numeroos
family. Of the sons who survived him» three succes-
sively ascended the throne, Athelstan, Edmund, and
Edred. Six of his daughters were married to foreign
princes, some of them the most powerful sovereigns in
Europe : and three, Elfleda, Ethelhildn, and Eadburga,
embraced a religious life. Of Eadburga the early 1^
tory is curious. She was the youngest of Edward's
children, and had been led by her father, when she was
about three years old, into a room, in which he had
previously placed a collection of female trinkets, and a
chalice with the book of the gospels. The child ran to
the latter, and Edward, interpreting her choice as the
destination of heaven, embraced her and exclaimed:
" Thou shalt be gratified in thy wishes i nor will thy
** parents regret, if they yield to thee in virtue.'* She
was delivered to the care of her grandmother Alswitha, *
and of the nuns at Winchester ; vidth whom she spent
a long course of years, eminent among the sisters for h&x
humUity and devotion *.

In legislative and literary merit Edward was much
inferior to his father : he surpassed him in the magni-
tude and the durability of his conquests. The subjection
of the Danes to Alfred was only nominal; and at his
death the kingdom, which he left to his son, was bounded
by the Mercian counties on the banks of the Thames and
the Severn. Edward, by steadily pursuing the same ob-
ject, and insuring th^ submission of each district before
he proceeded to fiirther conquests, extended his rule over
all the Danes of Mercia and East-Anglia. Wherever he
penetrated, he selected a strong position, and while a
multitude of workmen surrounded it with a wall of

Bakewell in Derbyshire. I tliink that Peocland means Lothian, which accord-
ing to Camden was anciently called Pictland (Brit. p. 1181), and wonld there-
fore seek BadecanwyUaq, the bathing wells, in the neighbourhood of Bathgateu
the road to the bath. For it waaon occasion of his bonding this fortress that
the " king of the Scots and all the people of the Scots, and the king of th9
"Strathclytlte QtxilB, and all the Strathclyde Gaels (the men of GaOoway t
" Westmin. 184) chose him for their fother and lord." Ghron. Sax. 110. In
other words, they did him hcnnage ; hominum KaQros, US.

*lIalinff.^eBeg.ti.l3. De Pont. ii. f. 140.

VOL. I. 17


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194 AlfOL(h8AXON8. [cUAP. IT

stone, encamped in the ne^bcmrhood for their protec-
tion^. That these fortifications were equal to their
oibject is evident from the fiu^ that not one of them was
ever captured hy the enemy; and they were productive,
in after ages, of consequences which this monarch could
not possihly have foreseen. They were long the principal
towns in England, and served to multiply a class of men
of a his/her order, and distinguished by greater privi-
leges than the ceorles or husbandmen. To the burghers
was intrusted the defence of their walls and of the adja-
cent country. By living in society, and having arms in
their hands, they grew into consideration, and insensibly
acquired such a degree of power and wealth as ulti-
mately to open to their representatives the national
coundl, and thus lay the foundation of that influence,.
which the people enjoy in our present constitution.

During his reign an important alteration was effected
in the ecclesiastical economy of the kingdom of Wessex.
The firequent wars which had preceded the restoration
of Alfred, had caused a relaxation of discipline, and, in
many places, had revived the superstitions of paganism.
Pope Formosus sought by threats and exhortations to
awaken the zeal of the West- Saxon prelates, and sug-
gested the propriety of increasing the number of their
bishoprics. About the year 910 the two churches of
Winchester and Sherborne became vacant, and Pleg-
mund, archbishop of Canterbury, improved the oppor-
tunity to make a new division of the kingdom, and to
establish three more dioceses for the counties of Somer-
set, Devon, and Cornwall t.

The most important of the religious foundations at
this period was the new minster at Winehestw. At the
death of Alfred, the aged Grimbald had requested per-
mission to retire to the friends of his youth, the clergy
ct 8t. Omer: but Edward, unwilling to be deprived oi
his services, prevailed on him to remain in England,

• ChMBl S«L 106. loa t WttkCoaLmSM. B«dMB.M<yr.T.lSSk


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CHAP. IT.] ATHEhhTAVt. 195.

by pronuging to provide for him, according to tl^ inten-
tion of the late Idng, a monastery in the neighbourhood
of the royal, city. From the bishop Denulf and the.
canons he purchased three acres of land, on which he.
erected a spacious church and buildings for the accom-
modation of Grimbald and a society of clergymen, and
bestowed o|i them the lands which his &ther had destined
£>r that purpose in his will. To this new minster he
transferred the remains of Alfred : and in the same
place his own body, and that of his son Ethelward, were
deposited *.



By the will of the late monarch the crown was left to a. d.
Athelstan his eldest son, about thirty years of age. The 926.
claim of the new king was immediately admitted by the
thanes of Mercia, and after a short time by those of
Wessex. The ceremony of his coronation was performed
at Kingston by Athelm, archbishop of Canterbury, and
the successor of Plegmundt.

Of the .mother of Athelstan, Malmsbury has told a
romantic tale, on the faith of an ancient ballad. She
was the daughter of a neatherd, ana called Egwina.
Her superior beauty, even in her childhood, had attracted
admiratioiK: and a fortunate dream was said to portend
that she would prove the mother of a powerful monarch.

• MonfMt. Ang. p. 208. S09. AnnaL de Hyde amid Alf. iiu ». SOI. 905
Chnm. Sax. !• 111. DbringEdward** reign the English made frequent
pf|Kri«iBgM to Rome. In 981 many were massacred in passing the Alps
by the Saracens firom Fraxinetum. A few ycwru later many others met
wMh the same fate. Chron. Flodoardl apnd Bouquet, vlL 17/. 180.

t'Chron. Sax^lIL Malm. 96. In MalmsWnry we have three different
•ecouuts of Athelstan. which should be carefully distinguished. The flrst
be compiled himself from documents within his reach. The second he
abridged from the longer work of a contemporary poet, whose extfravagant
praise* of his patron he reduced to the standard of probability and eoai-
nion sense. The last is a coUection of foets for which no written anthovHy
oould be found : but which were mentioned in Anglo-Saxon son^ '
mUted from one generation to another. Malm. 96-^89.


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This report excited the curiosity of the hAj who had
nursed the children of Alfred. She took Egwina to her
housot and educated her as one of her own ftuniiy.
When the etheling Edward casually visited his former
nurse, he saw the daughter of the neatherd, and was
capti\'ttted with her beauty. Athelstan was the fruit of
their mutual affection *. From this very douhtftil story
it has been inferred that the king was an illegitimate
son: but the force of the inference is weakened by the
testimony of a contemporary poetess, who in mentioning
the birth of Athelstan, alludes to the inferior descent of
his mother, but at the same time calls her the partner
of Edward's throne t. The child was the delight of his
grandfather Alfred, who created him a knight by invest-
ing him with a mantle of purple, and a short sword in a
golden scabbard. After the death of his mother he was in-
trusted to the care of his aunt Ethelfled, a fortunate cir-
tumstance, as it probably caused his interests to be, at this
period, so eagerly espoused by the natives of Meroia.;^

In Wessex Athelstan had to guard against the secret
designs of his enemies, of whom the most dangerous was
the etheling Alfred. The associates of this prince had
conspired to seize the person of the king at Winchester,
and to deprive him of his sight On the discovery of the
plot Alfred demanded, according to the forms of the
Saxon jurisprudence, to clear himself by oath; and
Athelstan, who dared not refUse the privilege, sent him
to Rome in the custody of his messengers, to perform
the ceremony in the presence of the pontiff. The un-
fortunate etheling swore to his innocence on the altar of
St. Peter. But as he survived his oath only three days*
his death was considered a sufficient proof of his guilt
by the witan, who adjudged his estates to the king. By
him they were given to the monastery of Malmsbury^

Sightric, the Danish king of Northumbria, had braved

* Malm. 29. t Quern peperit regi cofuor« non inclyta regni. ItowUka,a$
^ettia Odon. p. 165. The words consors r^ni show that Egwina was a crowned
queen, and consequently the king*s wife. Xon inclyta Is applied to her be-
cause she was not of the royal race, but Malmsbury and Florence state that
she was of a very noble fiunfly. Malm. 1. 197. | Malm. 21Q. } Ibid., 2W.


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the power of Edward : he soUcited the friendship of
Athelstan, and ^^ ^^ ^ sister Editha in marriage. The
two princes met at Tamworth. Sightric was baptized, re-
ceired the hand of Editha, and accepted from Athelstan
& grant of what he already possessed, the country be*
tween the Tees and the Frith of Forth *. It is said, that
the barbarian soon repented of his choice, and abandoned
both his wife and religion t : it is certain that he died at
the end of twelve months, and that Athelstan seized the
opp<»rtunity to annex Northumbria to his own dominions.
The two sons of Sightric fled before the superior power
of the Anglo-Saxon; Godfrid into Scotland and Anlaff
into Ireland. Anlaff had the good fortune to meet with
friends and associates: but Constantino, the king of the
Scots, dared not afford an asylum to the enemy of Athel-
stan; and Godfrid, after a fruitless attempt to surprise
the city of York, voluntarily surrendered himself to the
mercy of the conqueror. He was received with huma-
nity and treated with honour : but the mind of the Dane
could not brook the idea of dependence, and on the fourth
day he fled to the coast, and commenced the profession
of a sea-king $.

The ambition of Athelstan now grasped at the sove-
reignty of the whole island. In the north he levelled
witii the ground the castle of York, the principal bulwark
of the Danish power: Ealdred the son of Ealdulf, a ^.n*
Saxon chieftain, was compelled to yield to him the strong ^^^*
castle of Bamborough ; and the king of Scots, and the
prince of Cumberland, obeyed his summons, and acknow-
ledged his superiority. On the west he intimidated the
Britons of Wales and ComwalL The chieftains of the
former waited on him at Hereford, where they stipulated
to confine their countrymen to the right bank of the
Wye, and to pay a yearly tribute of twenty pounds of
gold, three hundred pounds of silver, and five thousand
head of cattle. The Cornish Britons had hitherto reached

• Malm. «7. Wallingford, 640. t W««tmia 185. t Malm. 27


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from the Land*8-end to the river Ex, and possessed one
half of Exeter. JHe commanded them to retire h^ond
the Tamar ; surrounded the city with a strong wall of
stone ; and frequently honoured it with his presence.
To confirm his claim of sovereignty, he convened at a
place called Eadmote .all the princes of the Scots, Cam-
brians and Brkons, who, placing their hands between
his, swore to him that fealty, which the Saxon vassal
was accustomed to swear to his lord *,

During this tide of success, and when Athelstan had
just reached the zenith of his power, Edwin, the eldest
of his brothers, perished at sea. The traditionary ballads,
consulted by MalmsWry, attribute his death to the jea-
lousy of the Iring, who, convinced of his own illegitimacy
suspected Edwin of aspiring to timt crown which belonged
to him by the right (rf inheritance'. It was in: vain that
the ypung prince asserted his imloc^nce upoii'^tii'; and
.when Uto, oath was disregarded^ threw Idmself on the
affection iif his brother. The tyi»ant thought hiaown
jiafety incompatible with the life cff Edwin r iind. While
he afected the praise of lebityby commuting the sen-
tence of death into that of banishment, ?tJomniitted his
.vietim, to the mercy of the waves in an open and shat-
terpdrboat, with. only one companion. The prince, in a
paroKysn^of dfjspair, leaped into the sea: his attendant
^(JHy. waited fi)r the fiow of the tide, and was wafted
back to tlm^hore in the neighbourhood of Dover. Athel-
ialiwi. it is added, wbei^ it w&s "too late, repented of his
cruelty^ submitted to a course of canonical penance, and
bijilt ^Ue church of Middleton, that prayers might be
dafly pff^r^ for the soul of his murdered brother. Such
is the tale which Malmsbury has preserved, but of which
he dp^s npt presume to affirm or deny the truth t. It

• Msilm. f7f^8. Fk>r. 602, MaiH47. The contempofrary writer in
Jtfalrasbury makes the tribute of the Welsh anotint to S5,M0 cattle. I
have prererred the n.ore moderate account of Caradoc, |i. 48.

i Not! constnnter sed titubanter. Malm. S5. Non nt defendam. ted m
lectontm leientiam defiraodem. Id. 29. The etonr it repeated by Sim.
134.154. HoTed.84t. West 1861 Broinp.836. It ma7lioweTerbeol>-


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seoms not to deserve credit. No trace of it is to be dis-
covered in the contemporary biographer of Athelstan ;
and in the poem from which it was extracted, it was
coupled with .another tale evidently fobulous *. That
Edwin perished at sea, cannot be doubted: but the king
appears rather to have deplored his death as a calamity
than to have regretted it as a crime. The account of
Huntingdoir contains all that can now be known of the
transaction : " Soon afterwards he had the misfortune to
" lose in the waves of the ocean his brother Edwin, a
** youth of great vigour and good disposition t.

The king of Scots eagerly sought to free himself from ^^
his dependence on the En^sh monarch : and with this
view entered Into alliance with Howel, king of ^ Wales.
But the power of Athelstan was irresistible. 'At the
head of his army he extended his ravages as far as Dun*
feeder and Westmore, while his fleet pillaged the coast
to the extremity of Caithness. Constantine was eom*
pelled to implore the clemency of the conqueror, and to
surrender his son as an hostage for his fldelily $.

Three years^ afterwards the superiority of the English
king was threatened by a more formidable confederacy.
In 937 a fleet of six hundred and fifteen sail cast aiAshor
in the Humber. It obeyed the commands of Anlai!^

•erverl, that Simeon. HoTeden, aod WettmiMter, haw all ooifidd tha tama
word* from one cooimon document Florence ($03), who usaally oopiea
ihe same, I|ap in this initanoe vlesetted it. and omitted entixely the deiUJi
ofEiiwin. .
. * The ballad proceed* to- «ay that it Ira* the hntler of Athelstan who
nr^ed his roaster to t^e death of Edwin : that one day as he waited on the
kin(^,his foot slipped, and recovering himself with tha other, he exclaimed:
thus brother hdps brother- The word's veraindihg Athelstan of the &te
of Edwin, he ordered the butler to be put to death. Malm. S9. This «

kind of story seems to have been a faTounte with the Anglo-Saxons. The
reader will meet with another edition of it in the history of Edwud the
Confessor. . '

t That EdwinperishM at sea is asserted by the Saxon chronicle (11 1).
and MtuIroB (U73» Th(B words of Huntingdon are : nee niulto post adversa
perculsos fortuna fhitrem suum Edwiaum magni vigoris iuvenem et bona
iadolls marU fUetibas ieUliter amisit. Hunt. 204. 158. 1S9.

X Chrou. Sa&. 11 1. Sim. Dun. 134. Floren. 603. On this aeeonnt Ethel-
werd, a oonftemporary, says, CoUa sabdunt Scoti pariterque Picti, uno soU-
4antttr Brttaanidis orva. Ethelw. 482. Scotiam sibi subjngando perdomuit
Sim. Dun. S5.


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wbo was oome with an army of Irish and northern ad-
venturers to reconquer the dominions of his father. His
arrival was the signal of war to his confederates, the
Sorts and Britons, who under their respective princes
directed their march to the same spot The lieutenants
of Athelstan, unable to repel the torrent, endeavoured
to retard its progress. Negotiations were opened to gain
time for the arrival of Athelstan, who, nof content with
his own forces, had purchased the aid of several sea-
kings. As he passed through Beverley, he visited the
church, offered his dagger on the <altar, and vowed to
redeem it, if he returned victorious, at a price worthy of
a king. The armies were soon in the neighbourhood of
each other, when Anlaff planned a midnight attack, in
the hope of surprising and killin^^ his adversary. To
discover the quarters of Athelstan, he is said to have
. adopted an artifice familiar to the Northmen. The min-
strel was in that age a sacred character ; and Anlaff with
his harp in his hands fearlessly entered the English
camp, mixed without suspicion among the troops, and
was at last conducted to the royal pavilion. The king,
who was at dinner, bade the stranger strike his harp,
and rewarded him for his song. But the disguise of the
pretended minstrel could not conceal him from the eye
of a soldier, who had once served under his standard, but
who disdained to betray his former leader. As soon as
Anlaff was out of danger, this man related the circum-
stance to Athelstan, and to the charge of perfidy, indig-
nantly replied : " No ; I have shown that my honour is
*• above temptation ; and remember that if I had been
•* perfidious to him, I might also have proved perfidious
" to you.'' The king accepted the apology, and by his
advice, removed to a distant part of the field. The
ground which he had left, was afterwards occupied by
the bishop of Sherborne. In the dead of the night the
alarm was given : Anlaff with a body of chosen followers
was in the midst of the camp, and a bloody and doubtful
conflict ensued. In the morning, when he retired, it


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was discovered that the prelate had perished with all his
attendants *,

Two days after this occurrence was fought the hattle *• "*•
of Brunanhurgh, in Northumbria : a battle celebrated
in the relics of Saxon and Scandinavian poetry. The
multitude of the confederates consisted of five nations,
Norwegians, Danes, Irish, Scots, and Britons: in the
Bullish army waved a hundred banners, and roimd each
banner, if we may believe the exaggeration of a contem-
porary, were ranged a thousand warriors. The contest
lasted* tiU sunset A northern sea-king, in the pay of
Athelstan, was opposed to the Irish, and after an obsti-
nate struggle drove them into a wood at no great dii-
tance. Turketul with the citizens of London, and Singin
with the men of Worcestershire, penetrated into the
midst of the Scots, killed the son of their king, and com-
pelled Constantino to save himself by a precipitate flight
Anlaff still maintained his position against all the elfortt
of Athelstan and his West-Saxons : but the victors re-
taming from the pursuit, fell on his rear, and decided
the fortune of the battle. The Northman escaped the
vword of his enemite; but he left five confederate sea-
king8» seven jarls, and many thousands of his followers,
on the field of battle. " Never," says the native poei,
** since the arrival of the Saxons and Angles, those
** artists of war, was such a carnaTO known in England.**
The conqueror, in his return from the battle, redeemed
his dagger fh>m the church of Beverley with a grant of
ample and valuable privileges t.

This splendid victory crushed the enemies, and eon-
firmed the ascendency of Athelstan. By the Northmen
he was distinguished with' the appellation of " the con-
" queror{.** The B^tish princes no longer disputed his .
authority : the chieftains of the East-Anglian and North-

• Malm. 26. Hit authority ton this story was probably noChiof mom
Uian pome andent ballad.

f Chnm. Sax. 113—114. EgiUi Saga apod Johnstone, 31. lagali: 9!,
Unilros. 147. Malm. 97.88.

tSnorre.p. 119. He also ealls him AthelsUn the fatthftai Ibi^


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umbrian Danes, who under a nominal vassalage had so
often maintained a real independence, entirely disap*
peared ; and all the countries originally conquered and
colonized by the different Saxon tribes became united
under the same crown. To Athelstan belongs the glory
of having established, what has ever since been called
the kingdom of England. His predecessors, till the
reign of Alfred, had been styled kings of Wessex. That
monarch andjiis son Edward assumed the title of kings
of the Anglo-Saxons. Athelstan sometimes called him-
self king of the English : at other times claimed the
more pompous designation of king of all Britain.* Both
these titles were indiscriminately employed by hisimme^
diate successors : but in the course of a century the latter
fell into disuse: the former has been retained to the
present age.f

As the power of the king became predominant in
Britain, his influence began to be felt upon the conti-
nent. He maintained a friendly correspondence with
several foreign courts ; and three princes, destined to
act important parts in the concerns of Europe, were edu-
cated under his protection. I. The first was Hac(v the
younger son of Harold Harfitgre, the powerful king of
Norway. When the father sent the child to the English
oourt, he presented the king with a magnificent ship, of
which the sails were of purple, while the beak was co-
vered with plates of gold, and the inside hung round
with gilded shields. At the death of Harold, Eric the
elder brother ascended the throne ; but he soon lost by
his cruelty the affection of his subjects : and Athelstan

* For Alfred, see Heminff. Ohaii. 1. 42. Aaaer, 1. S *, for Edward, Gale, ill. p.
962 ; for Atbelstan, id. p. 9M. The coins in Oamdoi, Tab. 4, 5» in Hick's Diss,
tab. ii., and the MS. in the Cotton library, Tiberius^. 2. Athelstan ab omni-
bus Imperator totius Britanniae est pronuntiataL^ Flor. 603. Subactis nbique '
hostibus totins Brttanniae domininm obtinnit. Sma. Dun. 18. He calls hun«
self Rex totins Brttanniae : Totins Brttanniae regni soUo snUlmatus. Basilens
industrius Anglonun, conctanunaoe gentium in circuJtu persistentium. God.
nip. ii. 183. 19^ 208.

f In the reign of Ethelred, the appellation of Anglo or English se^ns to
h»ve almost superseded that of Saxon. For Ethelwerd, of the royal race of
Wesst^x. calls his own oonntrymen West Angles, and the South and K«it
Saxonrt. South and East Angles. See Ethelwerd 1. 11. and iU. passim.


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A. D. 923.] U\C6 OF NORWAY. . 203

sent his <' foster son/' with a powerful fleet, to obtain
possession of the sceptre. The enterprise succeeded :
English missionaries under the protection of the new
king disseminated the doctrines of the gospel ; and the
reign of Haco the good is still celebrated in the annals
of Norway *. II. A second ward of the English king
was Alan of Bretagne. The charitable donations of
Ethelwulf, Alfred, and Edward, to the churches of
Armorica, had given rise to an intercourse between the
English and the transmarine Britons, who still, at the
distance of four centuries, lamented their banishment
from the land of their fathers t. When the Normans
under RoUo depopulated Bretagne, numbers of the na-
tives sought and obtained an asylum under the p^tec-
tion of Athelstan. Among the fugitives was Matheudoi,
who had married the daughter of Alan the great : and
who committed his infant son to the care of his friend.
Athelstan stood sponsor to the young prince at his bap-
tism ; watched over his education ; and at a proper age
sent him back to his native country with the surviving
exiles, and a band of English adventurers. The young
Alan proved himself worthy of his protector : he reco-
vered by degrees the territories of his grandfather ; and
by a long series of splendid actions made himself the
sovereign of Bretagne J III. Athelstan *s own nephew
was the third of his royal pupils. His sister I dgiva had

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