M. (Paul) Rapin de Thoyras.

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Vol. L



753-
Ann. 3.ix.



754-

H. Hunt.
I.4.

Fl. Wig.



754-

Ann. Sax.

G. Malm.

1. 1. c. 2.

H. Hunt.

I.4.

R. deHov.



784.

787-
Fl. Wig.



799.

or

800.

G. Malml

I. 2. C. I-.

All". Men.



Cudrcd turned his victorious Troops againft the Britons
of Cornwal (1), and conquer'd Part of their Country,
which he united to Wejfex. He died fhortly after, and
left his Crown to his Nephew Sigebcrt.

S I G E B E R T.

Slgebert, very unlike his Predeceflbr, by his Vices and
Cruelties (?), drew on himfelf the hatred and contempt of
his Subjects. Acertaint Count (3) having exportulated with
him concerning his Conduct, he ordered him to be put to
Death in his Prefence. This Action made the Wejl-Sax-
ons lofe all Patience; they publickly depofe him, and
place on the Throne Cenulph, Son of Adelard. Sigebcrt
finding he could have no Redrefs, was forced to fubmit to
the fentence of the States, and betake himfelf to a Foreft
(4), where he was killed by a Swineherd (5).

C E N U L P H.

Cenulph became very famous for his frequent victories
over the Britons (6).

After he had reigned thirty Years, he grew jealous of
Cunehard, Brother of Sigebcrt, and perhaps not without
Reafon. Cunehard having notice of the King's fufpicions,
aud knowing he intended to difpatch him out of the way,
refolved to prevent him. To this End, difcovering him
one Day, as he went alone (7) to vifit a certain Lady
whom he admired, he followed him, with fome of his
Friends (8), into the Houfe and attacked him. Cenulph
defended himfelf furioufly, and even wounded his Enemy,
but at laft, overpowered with Numbers, funk down with
his Wounds. The King's officers and domefticks running
in at the Noife, and finding him dead, fell upon Cune-
hard and flew him, not regarding the large offers he made
them, to fpare his Life, and place him on the Throne (y).
Brithric, Son of Cenulph, fucceeded his Father.

B R I T H R I C.

Brithric, three years after he was on the Throne, mar-
ried Edburga, Daughter of Offa King of Mercia, and
about the fame time banifhed Egbert the Kingdom. Eg-
bert, a Prince of the Royal Family (10), by his noble
Qualities had gained the Affection of the We/l-Saxons to
fuch a degree, that the King could not help being jealous.
This was a fufficient inducement to Brithric to free himfelf
from the Uneafinefs occafioned by that Prince, by re-
moving him froiii his Prefence (11). Egbert retired at firft
to the Court of Offa King of Mercia : but did not meet
there with the Reception he expected, Offa being unwil-
ling to difoblige his Son-in-law Brithric by harbouring a
Prince that was hateful to him. Whereupon Egbert re-
folved to retire into France, where he was very civilly re-
ceived by Charles the Great, who mowed him, on feveral
Occafions, marks of his Efteem. During Egbert's twelve
years abode at this Prince's Court, he very much improved
his natural Abilities (12), and rendered himfelf capable of
executing the grand Defign of uniting the (even Kingdoms
of the Anglo-Saxons into one Monarchy, as will be feen
prclently.

During the Reign of Brithric, the Danes made their firft
defcent in the Kingdom of IVejffex (13). They began
then to be formidable, not only at Sea, but on the Coaffs
of feve;.ii European Kingdoms. As in procefs of time,
they did the EngUJh incredible Damage, it is not without
reafon that Hiftorians have been very exact in marking the
time of their firft Defcent. '

Brithric in 799 was poifoned by Edburga his Wife (14).
The IVeJl-Saxons were fo provoked at this Action, that be-
fore they proceeded to the Election of a new King, they
made a Law prohibiting the Wives of their future Kings



from taking the Title of !J>uccn, and fitting on the Throne
with their Husbands. And left the complaifance of the
Kings to their Wives might occalion die breaking of this
Law, it was further enacted, that hereafter, if any King
of WeJJex fhould difpence with the Obfervance of it, he
fhould, ipfo fafto, be deprived of his Royal Rights, and
his Subjects abfolved from their Oath of Allegiance.

This affair being ended, an honourable Ambaffy was
fent by the Wejl-Saxons to Egbert, to offer him the Crown.
Egbert was then at Rome with Charles the Great, who re-
ceived there, foon after, the Imperial Crown. Here he
took his leave of that great Prince, who had been a Father
to him, and at his departure gave him frefh marks of his
Affection.

Queen Edburga having left WeJJex upon poifoning her
Husband, fled alfo to Charles the Great, who, in confi-
deration of the Friendfhip between him and her Father
Offa, gave her a rich Abbey, where fhe might have fpent
the remainder of her Days in Peace (15). But that way of
Life not being agreeable to her Conftitution, fhe behaved
fo ill in it, that being furprifed in an intrigue with a young
EngUJh Gentleman, the Emperor was forced to fend her
away. She wandred about from place to place for fome
time, and at laft went and ended her Days at Pavia in
great want.

EGBERT.

Egbert, befides the Valour natural to all the Saxon
Princes, had one qualification that gave him a fuperiority
above the other Kings his Cotemporaries, which was, his
great Knowledge in Politicks, acquired during his abode
at the Court of Charles the Great, whole Example and
Inftructions, no doubt, had greatly contributed towards
it. He was no fooner on the Throne of Wejfex, but he
perceived himfelf fuperior to the other Kings, and refol-
ved to make the beft Ufe of it (16). But like an able
Politician, he judged it neceflary to proceed by degrees in
the execution of his Projects. Accordingly, he fpent the
firft feven years of his Reign in fettling the affairs of his
Kingdom, and in gaining the love and efteem of his own
Subjects, in which he fucceeded to his Wifh.

The Kingdom of WeJJex being bounded on the South
by the Sea, and on the North by the Thames, Egbert muft
of courfe begin the extending his borders either Eafhvards
or Weftwards. To the Eaft lay the Kingdom of Kent,
which would have been very convenient for him ; but as
this Kingdom was then in fubjection to Cenulph King of
Mercia, a Prince of diftinguifhed worth, and Monarch of
the Anglo-Saxons, to begin with Kent would have been tire
ready way to ruin his Defigns. And therefore, in expec-
tation of a more favourable juncture, Egbert thought it
proper to carry his Arms firft towards the Weft, againft
the Britons of Carnival. His fuccefs was fo great in a war
undertaken in 809, that in one Campaign he reduced all
Cornwal to his Obedience (17).

The Weljli intending to aflift their Brethren in Cornwal,
gave Egbert a pretence to attack them the next Year. He
defeated them feveral times, and at laft fubdued the King-
dom of Venedocia (18), one of the three, Wales was then
divided into (19). The ftruggles of the Weljl) afterwards
to fhake off their Yoke, ferved only to make it the hea-
vier. Egbert re-entering their Country, deftroyed all
with Fire and Sword, which made them take care how
they provoked him a third time to come among them.

At length the death of Cenulph in the year 819, gave
Egbert room ferioufly to confider of executing his defigns.
He was immediately inverted with the dignity of Monarch,
to which none had a better claim than himfelf. His King-
dom was in a flourifhing condition, whilft the reft, weakned
by inteftine divifions, daily loft fomewhat of their luftre
and power. The Heptarchy was reduced to five Kingdoms,



800.



809.

Malmlb.

8 10.



811,
812,
812.



819.



(1) He and Ethelbald being reconciled, join'd their Forces againft the Britons. Sax. Ann. Huntingd.

(2) Puffed up with his Predecelfor's Victories, he became intolerable to his Subjects. Particularly he altered the Laws according to his owa
Pltjfure. Huntingd. p. 241. Sax. Ann.

(5) Cttmbra— prece totius populi qucrimonias eorum [fc. lubditorum] Regi fero intimavit. Hunting, p. 341. Tjr, p. 226.

(4) The Foreft of Andredfwald. Hunting, p. 342.

(5) Belonging to the late Count Cumbra. Hunting, p. 342.

(6) AnnoyyS, Ccnulpb fought a Battle with Offa King of Mercia, at Bcjingtcrt in Oxford/lire ; in which Offa got the Viilory. Bnmpt. p. 7-0.
Malmsb. p. 1 5,

(7) To Mi'rton in Surrey. Huntingd. p. 343,

(8) With feventy, fays Higdcn, p. 251.

(9) Cenulph was buried at tVincbeJler, and Cuncbeardnt Axminftcr. Huntingd. p. 343 ; or at Bepton, according to Malmsb. p. 16.

(10) He was the Son of Alcmund, Efa, Eoppa, Jnigijil, Cenred, who was the fourth from Ceauiin. Set the Genial. 'Table of the Kings of "Wefler.

(11) Britbric had form'd a Defign of removing him out of the way j which Egbert being aware of, he lied to OJfa j where Mcllcngers loon came from
Jsntbric to demand him ; but he efcaped into France. Malmjb.

(12; Higdcn fays that there Scoiam militatem cxercuit t p. 251, 252.

(r3) At Portland. Affer. Ann. Malmfb.

(14) He was buried at TVarham in Dorjctjhire. Malmjb. p. 16.

(15) At her Arrival fhe made the Emperor many great Prefents, and he bidding her chufe whom fhe would have for a Hufoand, himfelf, or
his Son, fhe foolifhly chofe his Son} whereupon the Emperor laughing, faid, If thou badjl cbejen the, tbzu Jbculdji lave bad ny Sen, but tbeu
fhatt bave neither. Affcr. Annal.S. Dunclm. p. 118.

(16) He took a pirticular Care to tiain up his Subjects, in the firft place, into that Skill in military Affairs, which he had learnt at the
Court of France, liigden, p. 252. Malmjb. p. 36.

(17) One of the Battles was fought at Came/ford in Comival ; feveral thoufinds fell on both fides. Huntingd. p. -j t.

(18) In Britifh, Givyncdb. The three Principalities Wales was divided into, were Dtbtubartl 01 Sa.:h-U'.iU>, Gioyntttb or IWitl-Pt'ales, and
Pvwis or Poivishnd. I'cncdotia was fo named from the Vatfti in Anvsn.a. as fome imagine. Cw-dc-. Vol, II, p- 77$.

{19) H« alfo toclt defter from them. Higd. p. 252.

« of



Book III.



The Kingdom o/WESSEX,



H



of which he poflefled one of the moll confiderable. In the
other four, the race of their antient Kings being extinct,
nothing enfued but quarrels and difientions among the prin-
cipal Lords, who all thought they had a right to afpire to
the Crown. And therefore fo far were they from confult-
ing in common the publick good, that they regarded only
their own Interefts, and the forming of Parties to fupport
them in their ambitious Pretenfions. On the contrary, the
Kingdom of JVeJfex became every day more powerful by



Mercia, and Eajl-Anglia. Had thefc three Kingdoms been
in their former lplendor, each of them in particular would
have kept Egbert fully employed. Nay, had they but en-
tered into a itrict Alliance for their common defence, when
they were going to be attacked, they would perhaps have
caufed that ambitious Prince to defpair of fubduing them.
But their divifions prevented them from making fo necef-
fary an Alliance. The Eajl- Angles were waiting for an op-
portunity to revolt againft the King of Mercia. TheNor-



the weaknefs of the reft, and the prudent adminifhationof thumbrians for fome time had lived in a fort of Anarchy,



the Perfon that governed it, whofe valour was equal to his
Judgment and Ability, to fet in motion the Springs of the
molt refined Politicks. Wherefore Egbert refolved to haften
the execution of his Project of reducing England into one
Kingdom. Almoft all the preceding Monarchs had form'd
the lame defign, and their notfucceeding was entirely ow-
ing to unfeafonable junctures. But foon after Egbert's be-
ing declared Monarch, every thing confpired to favourhim.
Northumberland had been long rent by two Factions, who,
little attentive to what palled abroad, were only watching
opportunities to fupplant one another. Mercia was in no
better condition. Bernulpb, who had depos'd Ceolwulpb,
reigned only by the fupport of a powerful Party, who in-
deed had Intereft enough to raife him to the Throne, but
found it difficult to uphold him, by reafon of the envy of
the nobles at his advancement. For which caufe, tho'
that Kingdom was confiderably enlarged by the Acquifition
of Eajl-Anglia, and tho' the King of Kent was become its
tributary, it was far from being fo powerful as JVeJfex. The
Eajl-Angles, not yet thoroughly fettled in the ftate of
fubjection Offa had reduced them to, were waiting for a
favourable opportunity to throw off the Mercian Yoke,
which to them was intolerable. The wars of the Kings
of Kent with the IVeJl-Saxons and Mercians, had brought
them fo low, that they could not avoid being tributary to
the King of Mercia, and consequently were not in con-
dition to ftand againft Egbert. As for the Kingdom of
EJfex, befides the probability of its being in Subjection to
Mercia, it had long made but a very inconfiderable figure,
and if it was ftill governed by Siuithred, which is uncer-
tain, that Prince muff, have been of an extreme old Age.
Thefe confiderations inflaming Egbert's Ambition, he
began his Preparations, which raifing fufpicions in the King
of Mercia, he thought betimes of providing for his fafety.



which difabled them from taking any meafures with regard
to foreign Affairs. So far were they from any thoughts of
affifting their neighbours, that they were wholly intent upon
deftroying one another, in which they were but too fuccefs-
ful. Mercia indeed feemed ftill very powerful, but the
Mercians were in no greater Union among themfelves than
the Northumbrians, and befides, the battle of Ellandunum
had confiderably weakened them; whereas J JVeJfex was
grown ftronger by the Conqueft of two Kingdoms.

Egbert beholding with pleafure how all things confpired
to favour his defigns, refolved to invade Mercia in the firft
place, plainly forefeeing, could he conquer that Kingdom,
the reft would make no long refiftance. Mercia and Eaji-
Anglia made but one body ever fince their union by Offa.
But as this union was not cemented by the mutual Affecti-
ons of the two Nations, it was rather deftruclive than ad-
vantageous to the State. The Ea/1-Angles looked upon the
Mercians as their hateful mailers ; whilft the Mercians on
their part, treated the Eajl-Angles with haughtinefs, as a con-
quered Nation. This being the Cafe, it was much more
eafy for Egbert to foment theirmutualFnmity, thanforthem
to reap tire benefit of their Union. For this reafon Egbert,
to accomplifh his ends with the more eafe, increafed their
animofity to the utmoft of his power, not doubting but,
could he once bring them to an open rupture, they would
fo weaken one another, as never more to be able to relift
him. It is ftrange, fince this maxim is univerfaily known,
JVe muft divide thofe whom we would dejlroy, it fliould fo
frequently happen that they againft whom it is pra&ifed,
fhould attend fo little to it. That the Eajl-Angles, blinded by
their extreme defire of freeing themfelves from the Mercian
Yoke, without a moment's confideration followed the ad-
vice fecretly given them by Egbert, of taking up Arms for
the recovery of their Liberty. Their attention to their



Tho' he was ignorant that Egbert intended the Conqueft prefent Intereft, prevented them from reflecting, that after



of all England, he could hardly doubt but he defign'd to
enlarge his dominions at the expence of his Neighbours.
And therefore, dreading the Storm might fuddenly fall on
him, he believed that by attacking him before he was ready,
he lhould break his meafures and compel him to be quiet.
To this end, he advane'd with his Army as far as Ellandu-
num near Salisbury ( i ), where contrary to his expectation
he met his Enemy, whom he thought to have furpriz'd un-
awares. The two Armies coming to an Engagement, the
Mercians were routed with fo great Lofs, that it was not
poffible for Bernulpb ever to retrieve it.

This Victory procur'd Egbert two great Advantages.
Firft, As it very much weakened the King of Mercia, who
alone was able to withftand him. Secondly, As it opened
the way to the Conqueft ot Kent, for which Bernulpb him-
felf had given a pretence, by attacking him firft. This
Conqueft was abfolutely neceffary to his becoming mafter
of all the Country between the Thames and the Sea. Be-
fides, by beginning the execution of his Defigns with the
Kingdom of Kent, he was the lefs apprehenfive of alarm-
ing the Northumbrians, who were too remote to concern
themfelves with what was tranfacting beyond the Thames.

Purfuant to this Refoktion, Egbert fent his Son Ethel-
voolph witli a powerful army into Kent. Baldred, unpre-
pared againft an Invafion, preffed in vain the King of Mercia
to come and affift him. Bernulpb was difabled, by his late
defeat, from bringing an army fo foon into the field. Be-
fide;', Egbert had fo ported himlelf, that it was not poffible
to relieve Kent without overcoming his Army, which as
Bernulpb could not pretend to attempt, the burden of the
war, n^twithftanding hisweaknefs, was tobe fuftained by
Baidrcd alone. However he hazarded a Battle ; but being
vanquilhed, retired into Mercia, leaving his Kingdom to
the young If'ejl-Saxon Prince, who became mafter of it
without any difficulty. Thus the Kingdom of Kent was
united to thofe of Wcffex and Sujfex, and by that means
Egbert faw himfelf in poffeffion of the whole Country ly-
ing South of the Thames.

This firft ftep being taken, Egbert rendred himfelf alfo
mafter of the Kingdom of EJfex, which is all Hiftorians
fay of it, without mentioning any one Circumftance : So
imperfect is the Hiftory of that Kingdom.

Tho' the Conqueft of thefe two Kingdoms was a great
ftep towards fubduing the reft, yet the mod difficult Task
was ftill behind ; namely, the Conqueft of Northumberland,



(1) lh^den hys, that ElindoH ( as he calls it ) was in Hamptunenji provim
Ste C«mdi>i in rYiltp>ire, Mr. Ldnberd't Supposition i: mult probable



they had been fubfervient to Egbert's defign, they would be
ftill lei's able to withftand him than the Marians. It is
true, Egbert, pretending to have no other view but their
Intereft, caufed whatever was moil capable to excite them
to a revolt, to be laid before them. His Emiffaries told
them, there never was fo favourable an opportunity of reco~
vering their Liberty : That the Mercians were fo extreme-
ly weakened fince the battle of Ellandunum, that they were
hardly able to maintain their tyranny over the Eajl-Angles :
That befides, Egbert was fo incenfed againft Bernulpb that
he would readily affift them, having publickly declared
as much. This was diffident to induce the Eajl-Angles
to revolt. The pleafure of thinking they fhould be freed
from their dependance on the Mercians, banifhed from their
thoughts the fear of becoming fubjeit to the JVeJl-Saxons.
Thus refolved, they took up Arms, and chofe a General,
whofe name Hiftorians have neglected to relate. Bernulpb
informed of their motions, thought he could not be too
fpeedy in putting a flop to an evil that feemed of fo dan-
gerous a confequence. With the firft Troops he could
draw together, he marched againft the Eajl-Angles, but in-
ftead of chaftifing them, as he vainly hoped, was defeated
and llain.

The Eajl-Angles were mightily encouraged by this Sue- Malresi-,
cefs, without difheartning however the Mercians, who
made frefh attempts to reduce the Rebels. They forth-
with elect a King, named Ludican, who endeavours to
continue the War, whilft the Eajl-Angles are preparing
to receive him, in expectation the King of IVqfex would
not fail them upon occafion according to his Promile.
Ludican adtually entered Eajl-Anglia widi a numerous
Army ; but Death prevented him from making any Pro-
grefs, and rendered his preparations for that Campaign of
no Effect. Some fay, he was (lain in a Battle : Others
affirm, the Eajl-Angles found means to free themfelves from Afl - AnJ ,
the dread of this Prince, by caufing him to be afiaffinated.
Whether the Mercians difcovered that Egbert privately
affiited the Eajl-Angles, or the Conquefts already made by
that Prince, opened their Eyes, they were fenfible at
length, the maintaining their dominion over Ea/1-Anglia,
was not fo much the bufinefs of die prefent War, as the pre-
fervation of their own Liberties. Jn this belief, they re-
folved to exert their utmoft, and chufe a King of known
valour, without regarding the Interefts of the feveral Fac-
tions, which till then had kept them divided. Theirchoice

, p. 2 $:•.. The Annotatorupon Camden thinks it was £/"i£</cn, near Higbwartb*
That iiviasE/liifietdaax Wincb^hr» OiHim. 'Topograph,



felJ



64



77;* HISrORTof ENGLAND.



Vol. I.



Inpulph. '
Sax. Ann.



Malmfb*



fell upon U'itghph, a Lord of great Merit, whofeSonhad
married a Daughter of King Cenulph. If the new King
had been to deal with the Eaft-Augles, probably he would
have ended the war to his advantage. But inftead of aim-
ing at the reduction of Eaft-Anglia, he was very much
embaraffed to defend his own dominions. Egbert tearing
the ftate of affairs might be changed under a new Prince,
whofe valour he was no ftranger to, no longer delayed to
declare openly for the E aft -Angles. Hitherto he had only
aflifted them privately, at leaf! he had not appeared as a
party in the war, railed by him between them and the
Mercians, with the fole aim that they might weaken one
another. But as foon as the preparations of the Mercians
gave him room to fear the balance would incline too much
on their fide, he thought himfelf obliged to take other mea-
fures, by publickly aflifting the Eaft- Angles, and declaring
war with the Mercians. Witglaph ufed his utmoft endea-
vours to withftand the united forces of the Eaft- Angles and
Weft-Saxons. He even frequently tried the fortune of his
Arms in skirmifhes and conflict, but always with ill fuc-
ccfs At length, having loft a great battle, and finding
his cafe defperate, he fled to the Abby of Croyland, where
he lay concealed three Months. In the mean time, Egbert
purfuing his viftory, became mafter of Memo, without
any oppofition. Hedefignedto unite it to the reft of his do-
minions, but by the mediation of Siward Abbot of Croy-
land, Wiglaph was reftored to his Kingdom, on condition
of paying homage, and becoming tributary to the Con-
queror. , . _ , ,
After the Eaft- Angles had been fubfervient to Egbert s
Defigns, they were glad to be received into his Protection,
on afmoft the fame Terms with the Mercians, fo that all
the advantages procured them by the War, was the change
of one Mafter for another.

Northumberland alone remained as yet free from the do-
minion of Egbert. But that Kingdom was little able to
preferve her Liberty, confidering the ill fituation of her
Affairs. Andred, who then reigned, was a King in name
only. His Faction had placed him on the Throne, not
that he, but themfelves might reign in his Name. Be-
fides, the Kingdom was all along rent by Parties, and fre-
quently invaded by the Scots, who had over-ran great
part of its Territories. It was not poflible therefore for
the Northumbrians to withftand the victorious Arms of the
Kinf* of JVeffex, or rather, of all the raft of England,
which was in that Prince's Power. Accordingly, when
Egbert approached with an Army that had already con-
quered four Kingdoms, Andred and the Northumbrians in
great Confternation, and unable to make head againft him,
lubmitted, and accepted of the fame Terms granted the
Mercians and Eaft-Anglians.

Thus ended the Heptarchy of the Anglo-Saxons, by the
reduction of the feven Kingdoms, under the Dominion of
the King of Weftex. Indeed Mercia, Eaft-Anglia, and
Northumberland, ftill preferved a Shadow of Liberty ; but



very probably Egbert would not have fufitred other Kir,^
to be cliolen, after the Death of thofe wiio were then on
the Throne, if the Danes, who fhortly after began their
Invailons, had given him time to take other Mea-
fures.

The Government of the Heptarchy, reckoning from
the founding of the Kingdom of Mercia, the laft of the
feven Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, held two hundred and forty
three Years. But if the time fpent by the Saxons in their
Conquefts, be added, from the Arrival of Heng.ft to that
of Crida, the Heptarchy will be found to have liifted three
hundred and feventy eight, from its beginning to its Dil-
folution.

If we enquire into the Caufes of the Diffolution of the
Heptarchy, they will very readily occur. It is eafy to
perceive one of the principal was, the great Inequality
amongft the feven Kingdoms, three whereof vaftly fur-
palled the reft in Extent and Power. Hardly was the
Heptarchy founded, when the Kings of Wejftex looked up-
on Suffix and Kent as extremely convenient for them, and
accordingly both the one and the other were fubdued by



Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 360)