M. (Paul) Rapin de Thoyras.

The history of England : written in French (Volume 1) online

. (page 39 of 360)
Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 360)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

notice of their arrival, his approach made them fly to their
Ships in fuch haftc, that they left their Plunder behind
them (9). The vigilance of thi, Prince having prevented
their defigns upon England, they returned to France, and
rejoining their Companions, continued their Devaftationj
in that Kingdom.

Hitherto the Eng/i/h had been only upon the Defnfrje. 88.^
Expofcd to the continual Invafions of the Danes, and un- Alfr-d in.
certain where the Enemy would land, they were Generally'"''

r • i I r • • i • i.-..,.'' nava< Fen

lurprized, before it was in their power to defend themfelves. $«. Ann.
The Sea-Coaft remaining uninhabited, there was nothing
to hinder thefe Rovers from landing where they pleafed,
Alfred being in Peace, which fie had never enjoyed 'till
now, lefolved to put his Affairs in better order. His firft Alf " J fi*.
care was to equip a confiderable Fleet, the advantage of *" F! '"'
which he had already experiene'd. As foon as his Fleet
was in condition to fail, the Admiral had orders to cruife
along the Coafts, and attack all the Danijh Ships in what
place foever he fhould meet them. He furprized fixtcenSax. Ann.
in the Port of Hanvich ( 1 o) in Eajl-Anglia, of which tak-
ing fome and finking the reft, he brought off" a confider-
able Booty (11). Guthurm incenfed at this a<£l of Hoftility
in one of his Harbours, and as it were before his Face, fuf-
fered the Parties concerned to endeavour to retrieve their
Lodes, and even furnifh'd them with means. It was not
long before they found an opportunity of attacking in the
night the King's Ships ( 1 2), and had fome advantage over
them. However, the Fleet kept the Rovers in awe, and
freed England from their ravages.

Alfred having thus fecured the Sea-Coafts, diligently fet// n-tftt
about fortifying the reft of the Kingdom with Caftles and ' : -'
walled Towns, which he flood in great need of. He re-
paired thofe that where gone to ruin (t3), and built others
in fo ftrong a manner, that they could not eafily be af-
faulted. In a word, there was not a Pafs or Avenue ca-
pable of being fortified, but what was defended by fome
Works, to prevent the fudden Incurfions of the Danes.
But however, he could not be entirely guarded againftAflcr.
them, without one important Place, the pofleffion whereof
would be of great confequence to him in all refperfts. This
was the City of London, confiderable both for largenefs and
fituation, and which being in the hands of the Danes would
give them a free paflage into JVejfex, whenever they had a
mind to invade his Dominions. This confideration madetfreV,, „j
him refolve to invert it, knowing the Garrifon to be weak'"*" Lcn "
and unable to ftand a long Siege. Accordingly, the Be- ,°"^,*,",, j ;I
fieged were in a little time obliged to capitulate. He wasS*r-/n-£«*
no fooner mafter of this great City, but he very much ad- Ed| el «*'
ded both to its ftiength and beauty (14). He committed ' F .V
the Government of it to Ethelred, who had married his
Daughter Elfleda, or rather gave it him in Fee, with the
Title of Earl of Mercia (15). Some will have it he con-
ferred on him the Title of King ; but I doubt they have
no ground for what they advance. By creating Ethelred
Earl of Mercia, he did not invert him with power over
any part of Mercia, but only over London. All the reft
of Mercia was in pofleffion of the Danes, over whom he
aflerted no other right but that of Sovereignty, to which
they had lately confented. Ethelred therefore was honour'd
with an empty Title, 'till fuch time as by his Valour he
became mafter of good part of that Province.

The great number of Towns repaired and fortified by^Dme?
Alfred, found him employment fome years. Thefe Forti- '; ['.". "J"
fixations ferved equally to defend the Kingdom againft the A:i:r Ann.
foreign Danes, and to keep thofe in awe that were fettled

(r) In fourteen days time Affer. u. 10. Sax. Am.

12) See the Treaty between Alfred and Guthurm, among Alfred's Laws, in Dr. JFilkirs's and Lombard's Leg. Sex. and in Brempt p. 828, S29.

(3) Alfred floij Godfather to Guthurm, and named him Ethelfian. He was baptized about three Weeks after the Conclulion of the Treaty it Aire, near

Athelney, with thirty of his Officers. Ajfer p. 10. Sax Ann. And with almolt all his People. Malmsb. p. 43. lined, p. 41S. A'fed made him

very confiderable Prdents, ai.d alfo to his People. See Ajfer. p. 11. 5. Dunclm. p. 129. Huntingd. p. 350. Sax. Ann.

'$) In which Ejfx was alfo included. See the Treaty in Wilkim and Lambard. Tit. 1.

(5 1 In the year 8S3, Alfred hiving (lain the two Danijh Generals, Hmguar and Half date, caufed the walled parts of Northumberland to be ag3in inhibited;
and Gutbrcd, a youth, Son of ArJecnute, who had been fold to a Widow at IVhitinghan:, being redeemed by Abbct Edred, was made King oi Tsrk, anJ
Egbert vf 'Northumberland. Chr. de Mailros. p. 145. .S'. Dunelm. 147.

(6) Anno S79, the Dane: removed, in purluance of the Treaty, from Chippenham to Cuereef.er, where they ftaid one year ; and from thence wen: away
to Eajl-Anglia \s here they fettled. Sax. Ann. Ajfer. tilt. Alfr. p. 1 1.

(?) They came up the 'Thames, and wintered at Fulhain. Affer. Sax. Ann.

(S) The Danijh Army here, was net fo fcrupulcus ; for they joined them, notwithstanding their Oaths and Engagements to Alfred. Affer. p. II.
.9. Dunelm. p. 129. Brempt. p. 8 12.

(9) Confining of the Prifcners they had taken, and abundance of Hrvfes they had brought over from France or Flanders. Ajfer. p. n.

(10) In FfJ'ex, famous for its Haibour, its name importing an Haven where an Army may lie. The Walls are built and the Streets pitch*d with a lort of
petrified Clay falling from the Cliffs thereabouts. Fo m the Side of the Cliff between the Beacon and the Town, illues a Spring that petrifies Weed aa
well as Clay: A large piece lent from hcr.ee is referved in the Repofitory of the Ri yal Society. Card. A-Ulit. la Effex.

(it) Ajfer fix, that all their Ships and Booty were taken, and Alfred ordered all the men to be put to death. I'll. Alfr. p. 1 1. F.'cr. Were, p. 591.

(12) They attacked them in the Mouth of thecoma, when the Soldiers were afleep and dcfencelels. 6. Dunelm, p. 130. Huntingd. p. 350.

(13) Particularly Shafisbttry. Spelman, p. 161.

1 1+1 We have no eeitain Account of the Original of this famous City. But as it is not evident there was any fuch Place in Cr/i.'s Time, and yet a
great Ti un in Nero's, it is probable it was founded in the Reign of Claudius, and inhabited by the Brums and Remans (together, being a Trading, thcujh
n.t a Military Colony in m the eery beginning. The Walls are faid to be burlt by Conjlanline the Great, at the Requcft of Helena his Mother, containing
within them an oblong Space of three Miles in Ccmpafi. That part which ran along the Side of the Thames is quite wafli'd away, the reft remains to this day,
There are feven Gates, Ludgate, Ke".ugatc, Aider/gate, Cripplegate, Moregate, Bifxpfgate, and Atdgate. The Origin of its Name is unknown. C'..-'i
faying, the Bntcns called the Places fene'd round with Woods and Groves, Cities or Towns, made Catr.den conjeciHirc Lender, was fo named ftcm £.c - »,
which ligniries in Britifi fuch a Town, as if we ihculd fay by way of Eminence, Tit City. Camd. Addit, tn Midd, See St-v't Survey,. B- 1,

(M) See Dugdale's Baronage, Vol. I. p. 7. Ajfer, Malmb,

N-. j, Vol. I. A a fe



Vol. 1.


The Danes
rtneza their
Invafions ;
Sax. An

end take

and Middle

in the Ifland ; who feeing all the Precautions taken by this
wife Prince, were much more difpofed to remain in fub-
miffion. They even permitted feveral of the Englijh,
whom they had driven from their Habitations, to return
and live among them under the King's Protection ( i).
Ergland is in Then it was that Alfred had the fatisfaction to fee Peace
yea's. "" '™ ar, d Tranquillity reffored, after fo many years of Troubles.
This happy calm lafted twelve years (2), during which
this Monarch had leifure to rectify the diforders introduced
by fo long a war both in Church and State. As I defign
hereafter to give a particular account of the Regulations
made by this Prince during the Peace, I fhall pafs over
thefe twelve years, and finifh the relation of his Wars. It
fuffices at prefent to fay, that in this Interval he laid out
his conftant Endeavours in procuring the good and benefit
of his Subjects, till he was interrupted by frefh Invafions,
of which I am now going to fpeak.

The Danes, who, under the conduct of Hajlings, ravag'd
for twelve or thirteen years together France and the Low-
Countries, were not fatisfied with the prodigious Booty
they had gained. According to the cuftom of Pyrates,
Flor. Wig. as they prodigally fquandred away what they had acquired
' without pains or labour, they were always under a neceffity
of renewing their Ravages in order to have wherewithal to
fubfift. However, difheartned by two terrible checks given
them by Eudes and Arnulph Kings of France and Germany,
they refolved to return into England, not Co much for the
fake of fettling there, as plundering the Ifland. To that
purpofe, they fitted out three hundred Ships, which they
divided into two Fleets. With the firft, conlifting of two
hundred Sail (3), they arrived on the Coaft of Kent (4),
and took Appledore (5). This place, which was then very
confiderable, made them mafters not only of that Province,
but alfo of Suffcx and Surrey. The other Fleet commanded
by Hajlings (6), entered the Thames and landed at Mid-
aleton (-). It would be difficult to defcribe the Miferies
inflicted on the Inhabitants of thefe unfortunate Provinces
by the Barbarians. But when we confider, they were
idolatrous Rovers and Pyrates, we fhall eafdy conceive
they made no fcruple of committing the mod enormous
Crimes. Alfred was then in Eajl-Anglia, on account of
Gutburm's death (8). As he had received no Intelligence
of their defigns, he had made no Preparations for his de-
T^vDanet 5 /fence. All he could do for the prefent was to take a new
Eaft-Anglia Oath of Fidelity from the Eaji-Anglian Danes, which
juntbm. fj^y re g ar( j ec i only whilft he flayed with them. After
his departure, being no longer restrained by his prefence,
they went and joined Hajlings, in order to go fliares in
the Plunder. Alfred, amidfl all thefe dangers was not how-
ever difcouraged. He drew together what Troops he could,
and marched againft the Danes who were pillaging Kent,
But being informed by the way, that another Body of
Danes had entered IVeffcx, he altered his courfe, and ad-
vanced towards thefe lafl, as judging them moil dangerous.
The Danes, who were now before Exeter, haftily raifed
the Siege, and went and vented their Fury in fome other
Cmfufimin It is impoilible to give the particulars of this War, fo
ihiHiflvy /"confufedly are they related by the Hiftorians. The Rea-
' ■*' "" fon no doubt was, becaufe there were feveral Bands of
Danes ravaging England, one in Kent, and another in IVef-
fcx, and roving continually from place to place. This is
what the Englijh Hiftorians could not have a very diftinct
knowledge of, fmce a War undertaken folely for Plunder,
mult needs be very irregular. Accordingly we find in their
Hiftories, the fame Leaders, fometimes in one Province,
fometimes in another, without being able to perceive when
or how they got thither.
71 ■ Din«£o ^ e are ignorant alfo by what fortunate Accident Alfred
y\„ /*..'- faw hi mfelf freed on a fudden from his cruel Enemies,
*"■ who were fpread over his whole Kingdom. Thus much

however is certain, after they had reduced England to a
deplorable State, the laft comers retired, though Hiftorians

have not been pleafed to tell us the caule of their retreat.
I am apt to believe their fudden departure was owing to
the Plague, which raged then in England, and fwept awar
great numbers of Danes as well as Englifn. To this may be
added, their having plundered the Country in fuch a man-
ner, that there was nothing left to pillage. The areateft part
of the Danijh Rovers returned to France, under the com-
mand of Hajlings ; but they did not ftay there long. Pre-
fently after, Hajlings had new Projects on foot. The Terror
he had every where fpread along the Sea-Coafts having put
all upon their Guard, he refolved to fteer his Courfe where
he was not expected, and failed for the Mediterranean.
Whilft there, he found means, by an impious and perfi-
dious Stratagem, to become mafter of Luna, fituated on
the Coaft ot Tufcany. He pretended to be mighty delirous
of turning Chriftian, and was actually baptized by the Bi-
fhop, whom he had fent for. Some days after, the Bi-
fhop was told, his new Convert was departed this Life,
and died like a good Chriftian, earneftly defiring to be bu-
ried in the Church of Luna, to which he had bequeathed
a confiderable Legacy. By this Device, a great number
of Danes, on pretence of attending the Corpfe, entered the
City, and immediately fell to murdering and plundering
the Inhabitants.

Hajlings, after fo much mifchief .done to England, Hidings "•
France, and the Low-Countries, chofe at length for his' ,r ""^ h "-
Retreat, the City of Chartres(g), which Charles the Sim-^'ffff^'
pie prefented him with, on purpofe to keep him quiet, rfenu&wtt,
Here it was he ended in Peace, a Life almoft wholly
fpent in plundering the maritime Countries of Europe.
The Danes, that refufed to follow him when he left Eng-
land, put themfelves under the command of one Sigefert
fettled in Northumberland. For fome time, thefe like-
wife committed ravages on the Coaft of IFcffex ( 1 o), with-
out venturing however to advance into the Country, bv
reafon of their fmall Number, and at laft they retired to
feek their Fortune elfewhere.

Alfred, being at length freed from his Enemies, palled Th.< Kir.gdm
the reft of his days in profound Tranquillity. Hitherto ' i f'" i f nm
I have confidered this Prince as a Warrior only, fome- * D '" 1 ' : * ,
times victorious, and fometimes vanquifhed, but, whether
profperous or unfortunate, (hewing on all occafions fignal
marks of valour and military Conduct (11). It is now
time to difplay his other Virtues, and fet him in another
Light. Henceforward he is to appear as a juft, learned,
and religious Prince, a lover of his Subjects, and an inde-
fatigable promoter of Arts, Sciences, Juftice and Reli-
gion. But, not to confound his Political with his Moral
Virtues, I fhall begin with what he did for the good of his
People, as Sovereign, and then fpeak of his private Life,
and manner of regulating his domeftick Affairs.

As foon as the Danes, fettled in England, found they T-e Danes
were deprived of the affiftance of their Countrymen, they Jf *""" i 4«
bethought themfelves how to fecure their prefent Poffef- tb^Sw.
fions. The continuation of the War was fo far from be- ri 'g r -
ing likely to encreafe their Advantages, that they had
reafon to fear they fhould by that means lofe what they
already pollened. But fuppofing they were able to main-
tain their ground by force of Arms, yet a War, which
obliged them to have always their Swords drawn, and
prevented them from manuring their Lands, could not
but be very prejudicial to them. Thefe conliderations
induced them at length to fubmit to the Dominion of
Alfred, and acknowledge him for Sovereign of all Eng-
land. Hiftorians do not inform us whether he was obliged
to ufe Force to bring them to this : But it is certain, his
authority was acknowledged, as well in Northumberland,
Mercia, and Eajl-Anglia, as in JVeffex (12). The Weljh
themfelves, who had been terribly plundered by the Danes,
finding they were in no condition to refift, became his
Tributaries (13). It is further added, the King of Scot-
land paid him Homage alfo. But this is too difputable 2
Point to be affirmed for Truth ( 1 4).

171. Sax. Ann.
But he, Mi/ton, and others, fay, the Danes infefted England inS85, and in 893 tbey came again.

( 1) In the year S90, or S91, died Gutburm King of Eajl-Anglia, and was buried at Hcadleaga (perhaps Hadlty in Suffolk.) AJfer. Ann. p
Fir. Wore, p. 595.

(2} Spelman fays it lafted ten or twelve years, p 77.
So there c iuld be but eight years peace.

(3) Of two hundred and fifty, fay the Saxon Annals, and Fhr. Wore.

(+) In the Mouth of the River Limine, fuppoled by Spelman to be the Rother, p. 78. See Camden.

(■■) Where they built a ftrong Caftle. AJJcr. Ann. p. 171. See Huniingd. p. 351. Sax. Ann.

(6) And confuting of eighty Sail. Sax. Ann. Flor. Wore. Mat. Weflm?

(7) Now Mi/ton in Kent. The Danes built a Caftle here, part whereof is fljll remaining at Kemilty-Dc-wns. They now call it Caft!,-R*ff. On the
cither fide of the Water, the Ditches of Alfred's Fortifications, with fome Stone-work, remain alfo by the Name of BavorJ-CaJilc, near Stttingbvurn. CanJ,
Aid. to Kent.

(S) And upon fome Complaints of his Subjects againft the inland Danes. Spelman, p. 79.

(9) Forty two Miles from Paris.

(10) But Alfred having cauled Ships, twice longer, taller, fwifter, and more (ready than thofe the Englifi or Danes ufed to have; and of/wfy-Oua, and
shove, he puts to Sca r with nine of them, took twenty or more of the Enemies Ships, and ordered the Men to be hung up along the Sea-coafls, for a Terror
to the reft. Sax. Ann. Huntingd. p. 3 CI. S. Dunelm. p. 151. Spelman, p. go.

(ni He is faid to have fought fifty-fix pitch'd Battles with the Danes.

(li) And EJtx, which was part of the Kingdom of Eaft-Anglsa, was taken into AlfrnTi hands ; who created Btriheclf. a Saxon, Duke or Earl of it,
Spelman, p. 91. Dugda/e's Baron. Vol. I. p. 16.

(13) This is to beunderlrood of the Inhabitants of South-Wales, who, though they had been redue'd before, obferving Alfred engag'd in other Wars had
thrown oft their Obedience. As for North-Wales, the Orderwces, People of a fierce and troublefome Spirit, are fcarce to be rcckon'd entirely fubdu'd befc-K
Edward the I'trfl s Time, two hundred years after the Norman Conauefl. Sprlman.

■(14) It is faid that Cugour King of the Seots obey'd him and ferved him ifl ail his Wars, j«J that DwIJ hj, gymfe! aided him with five rh=u<and
Hurfs aijd cited w bisSetucc, Spilran, Holiingjb, p. m. See, Emboli,

7 The

Book IV.

6. ALFREDS Great.


Mifnimaket The firft thing Alfred had in his thoughts, the mo-
il Bti l "f merit he faw himfelf thus peaceful and abfolute, was to
*"* make ufe of his power for the good and benefit of his
£ubje£ts. As the Laws, during the Wars, had been Very
much trampled upon, and were become almoft unknown
to the People, he laid out his pains for fome time, in ma-
king a Collection of the bed Laws he could find. He
inferted fome of the Judicial Laws (i) of the Old Tejla-
rnent, and feveral of thofe formerly enadted by lna King
of JVeffex, and Ojfa King of Mcrcia (2) in their reflec-
tive Kingdoms. To thefe he added many of his own,
adapted to the Circumftances of his People. Throughout
thefe Laws may ealily be obferral, an ardent zeal for
Juftice, and a fincere defire of rooting out Oppreffion and
Violence (3). They were indeed mild, if compared to
thofe of later Ages, feeing they punifhed mod Offences
by Mulcls and Fines (4). But the ftriftnefs where-
with Alfred caufed them to be obferved, counterbalanced
their Lenity. If with refpe£t to private Perfons the ri-
gour of the Law W3s fomewhat abated, it was not fo with
regard to corrupt Magiflrates; to fuch Alfred was ever in-
exorable. He was very fenfible it would be in vain to ob-
lige his Subjects to an cxacSt obfervance of the Laws, if
care were not taken that the Magiftratcs fhould give them
a good Example. Hiflory takes notice of his executing
four and forty Judges within the fpace of a Year, for not
doing Juftice (5).
IifittiiUn of Thefe precautions feemed to be fufficient to hinder
Juries. t | ie p oor an <J Low, from being opprefled by the Rich and
Great. But as Alfred was fenlible, the Spirit of oppreflion
naturally grew upon Men in Authority, he ftudied to
prevent that Inconvenience. To that end, he ordered,
that in all Criminal Adions, twelve Men, chofen for that
purpofe, fhould determine concerning the Fac£t, and the
Judge give fentence according to their Verdicl. This
Privilege, enjoyed by the Englijh to this day, is doubt-
lefs the nobleft and moft valuable, that Subjects can have.
Aj\ Englijhman accufed of any Crime, is to be tried only
by his Peers, that is, by Perfons of his own Rank. By
this means, he is out of all danger of being oppreffed, how
powerful foever his accufers may be. Thefe twelve Men,
chofen out ot many others, with the approbation of the
Perfon accufed, are called by the collective name of Jury.
Thefe are properly the Perfons, by whom the life or death
of the party accufed is determined. Happy the People that
enjoy fo glorious a Privilege!
jjivifion <f The Wars had caufed fuch diforders and licentioufnefs
ib t K:»ftim j n t jj e kingdom, that Vagabonds and Vagrants every where
Hundreds' abounded, who committed all manner of Crimes with im-
punity, their poor and mean condition fcreening them
from Juftice. As they had no fettled abode, upon com-
mitting any Offence they fhifted their quarters, and went
where it was difficult to difcover them. Alfred beholding
with Indignation honeft Men thus expofed to the infults of
Villains, was extremely dcfirous to put a flop to fo great
Mifchief. Having confulted thofe whom he judged capable
of giving him good Advice, he took the following method
to prevent any Perfon from living in his Dominions, with-
out being obliged to give an Account of his Actions. He
*• divided all England into Shires (6) or Counties, the Counties
into Hundreds, and the Hundreds into Titbings. This
being done, all the Inhabitants of the Kingdom were ob-
liged to belong to fome Tytbing; whoever did not, were
looked upon as Vagabonds, and as fuch denied the pro-
tection of the Law. Every Houfeholder was to anfwer for
his Wife, his Children under fifteen years of Age, and his
Domefticks. If any one by his way of living fell under

and Ty-


fufpicion, he was obliged to give fecurity for his good Beka-
viour: In cafe he could find none, theTything threw Inn'
into Pnfon, to prevent their being liable to the penalty he
fhould incur by any Offence (7). Thus the Houfchdders
being refponfible for their Families, the Tytbing for the
Houfeholder s, the Hundreds for the Tythings, and the Coun-
ties for the Hundreds, every one was watchful over his
Neighbours Actions. If a Stranger guilty of any Crime
made his Elcape, information was taken of the Houfe
where he lodged, and if he had been there three days, the
Mailer of the Family was condemned to pay his Fin,:
But in cafe he had not flayed fo long as three days, the
Houfeholder was acquitted upon making Oath he wa's not
privy to his Crime. I might add here abundance of parti-
culars not fo entertaining to Foreigners, as to the Englijh,
who behold with pleafure in thefe regulations, the origin of
thofe Laws they fo happily live under at this prefent Time.
But it fuffices to fay, thefe wife Inflitutions produe'd
fuch good Order and Tranquillity as the like had never
before been known in England (8).

In fhort, to prevent the Kingdom fiom being infefted Alfred r*
any more by foreign Enemies, Alfred difpofed the Militia*
in fuch manner as enabled him to make head againfl an MlUt ' a '
Invafion, in cafe the Danes fhould renew their Incurfions.
He kept in each County a body of Troops always ready
to march under the conduct of the Fail or Governor.
Upon the firft notice of an Invafion, the- Earls had orders
to join Forces at certain Places, under the command of a
Generalijfimo appointed by the King. By this means,
together with a numerous Fleet which was always either
ready to put to Sea, or cruifing round the Ifland/he kept
the foreign Danes fo in awe, that during the reft of his
Reign, they durft not attempt to make a Defcent. And
for the fame reafon, thofe that were fettled in the Illand,
found themfelves conflrained to be quiet.

When by thefe wife regulations Alfred had provided n, emfa
for the fafety of the State, he endeavoured to make the"'' "

People relifh the Fruits of Peace, by introducing Trade" b ' *""'''
and Commerce. He ordered a good number of Merchant-
lhips to be built, which he let out to the principal Mer-
chants, for the encouragement of Traffick; So that by
degrees the Englijh were in a condition to repair by this
means the Iofles occafion'd by fo Jong a War. It is affirm- Trades „ the

Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 360)