M. (Paul) Rapin de Thoyras.

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timate Children being all under Age, Atbeljlan,
Son of Egivina, was placed on the Throne, with
the Confent of the Clergy and Nobility. Though this Prince
had a mixture of Bafe and Royal Blood in his Veins, tbe
lair had fo far the afcendant, that the blemifh of his Birth
was entirely effaced by his noble Qualities. Alfred his
Grandfather had conferred the honour of Knighthood upon
him, by girding him with a Sword according to the Cu-
ftom of thofe days. Edward his Father had committed
the care of his Education to Earl Etbelred his Brc.'her-
in-law, and the Princefs Elfeda h is Sifter, who did their
utmoft to train him up to Virtue. As he had been pre-
fent at all their Councils, and attended them in all their
warlike Expeditions, he had acquired fo great experience
both in Military and Political Affairs, as joined to his na-
tural Parts, gained him the efteem of ail the World. So
that when he mounted the Throne, he Was not only of
a fit age, being then in his thirtieth year, but alfo very
capable to govern. Hiftory does not inform us what de-
termined the Englijh to give the Crown to this Prince,
notwithstanding his illegitimate Birth (r). However, his
Father thought this defeat a fufficient Reafon to fet him
by, and name for his Succeffor another of his Sons born
in Wedlock, though younger than Athcljlan. In all like-
lihood, after the death of Elfivard, Atbelftan's mature
Age and noble Qualities gained him the preference before
Edivin, the eldeft of the legitimate Sons, but too young to
govern (2).

This Election however was not pleafing to all. Some
of the principal Lords difdaining to be governed by a
Baftard confpired to dethrone Athcljlan, and place Edwin
in his room. Alfred, chief of the Confpirators, had even
taken private meafures to feize Atbeljlan at WincheJler, and
put out his Eyes. This Plot being difcovered, he was
apprehended by the King's Order, but would confefs no-
thing. He obftinately perlifted in protefting his inno-
cency, and offered to purge himfelf by Oath in the pre-
tence of the Pope. Although tljis way ofjuftifying him-
felf was far from being a proof of his Innocence, Atbel-
jlan was fatisfied with it, and fent him to Rome, to take
his Oath before Pope John. Perhaps he was unwilling to
begin his Reign with Blood, or it may be, was appre-
henfive, the treating too feverely a perfon of the firft
Rank, would draw upon him the ill-will of the Nobles.
Shortly after, word was fent him from Rome, that Alfred
having fworn his Innocence before the Pope, fuddenly fell
into a fainting fit, which lading three days, ended with
his Life ; and that the Pope, convinced by this accident
of Alfred's Perjury, had ordered his Body to remain in
the Englijh College 'till the King's pleafure fhould be known.
Atbeljlan, pleafed with being thus rid of his Enemy with-
out having directly contributed to his death, confented he
fhould have Chriftian burial. However, his Lands were
confifcated, and given to Malmsbury- Monajlery. The
King took care to infert in the Grant the whole Confpi-
racy, to teftify to the world that he dedicated to God what
was his own.

In the mean time, new troubles were preparing for the
Kin». As the Danes, fettled in England, had been fub-
dued by force, they thought it lawful to make ufe of the
fame means to fhake oft* their voke. The death of Ed-
ward, and the confpiracy of Alfred, affording them, as
they imagined, a favourable opportunity to revolt, they
had begun to take fuch meafures as obliged Atbeljlan to
march into their Country. He would doubtlefs have met
with more refinance, had he given them time to make
greater Preparations. But as>they had not yet drawn their
Forces together, they were [o furprized by the arrival of
the King on their Frontiers, that without endeavouring to
defend thcmfelves, they returned to their Allegiance. Sitb-
ric, one of their Kings (3), went and fued for Peace,
upon what terms the King was pleafed to impofe. Atbel-



jlan being defirous to live in Peace with the Danes, that
he might have time to eftablifh himfelf in the Throne, not
only pardoned his Revolt, but gave him his Sifter Editha in
Marriage, on condition he would receive Baptifm (4).

The troubles in the North being thus appealed, Atbeljlan Atlelftani
marched back to JVcffex, where advice Was brought him ''J" im '*f^
foon after of Sitbric's Death, who by a former Marriage had North.
left two Sons (5), An/a f and Godfrid. As the Hiftories of SaJ - Ar '-
thofe times are not very particular, we. are jynorant Ot the Hummed,
reafon of Atbeljlan 's refolving to deprive thefe two Princes fcUvcd.
of their Father's Dominions. However that be, as foon as
he heard of Sitbric's Death, he returned at the head of his
Army into Northumberland. His march was fo expeditious,
that Anlaff and Godfrid '(6), as well as Reginald, another
Danijh Kingrefiding at York, had fcarcc time to efcape fal-
ling into his hands. Their hafty flight gave him opportu- f> /"*"*&
nity of becoming matter of all Northumberland, except the bt jjj n j
Cattle of Tork.

Though he had taken care to fecure his Conqueft, by
placing ftrong Garrifons in all the Towns, he was uneafy at
the efcape of the three Danijli Princes. He would have been
very glad to have them in his power, but, with regard to
two, the thing was impoffible. It was not known what
was become of Reginald, and Anlaff "was fled into Ireland,
where it was no eafy matter to come at him. Atbeljlan Anintenieia
therefore was forced to be fatisfied with requiring Co>iflantine%'°ff^
King of Scotland to deliver up Godfrid, who had retired in- endseoiUai,
to his Dominions. Conjlantine being fenfible, he was not Malmtt.
in condition to deny any thing to a Prince at the head of fo
powerful an Army, promifed to deliver the Prince into his
hands, and give him a meeting at Dacor (7). But whilft
he was preparing for his Journey, Godfrid made his efcape,
either through the negligence or connivance of Conjlan-
tine, who however went to meet Athcljlan accompanied
with Eugenius King of Cumberland. Atbeljlan admitted *"*" B * ".
Conjlantine's excufes for the Danijh Prince's efcape. But if^ m ™ "„}
the Englijh Hiftorians are to be credited, he obliged both the Conftantine.
Kings to do Homage for their Kingdoms (8). However, Buchanan.
the Scots pofitively deny that England had ever any right of
Sovereignty over Scotland 'till the twelfth Century. But
this difpute, which was never decided, will for the future
be dropt, fince England and Scotland make now but one
Kingdom.

Before Atbeljlan quitted the North, Godfrid made an At- Codfnd'i
tempt upon Tork, by means of the Cattle, where he had ^'V*
ftill fome Friends (9). But miffing his aim, he put to
Sea, where for fome time he exercifed Piracy. At length,
tired with that way of Life, he furrendered himfelf to the
King of England, who received him kindly, and allowed
him a handfome Penfion. Some time after, upon fome
difguft or ill-grounded fufpicion, he withdrew again, and
was never more heard of.

Anlaff, a Prince of greater Abilities than his Brother, An^ff mj
took better meafures for his Reftoration. He had retired c ° n(t, * t, "e
into Inland, where being informed that the King of "AthefftaoT
Scotland was difpleafed with Athcljlan, believed he might
make ufe of this opportunity to perfuade him to efpoufe
his Caufe. To that end, he came into Scotland and inti-
mated to Conjlantine, that he had reafon to fear the worft
from the King of England. He reprefented to him, that Milmft.
Atbeljlan having by furprize feized upon Northumberland, «*""**■
without any the leaft Pretence, might proceed in the fame
manner with regard to Scotland, and therefore it was ab-
folutely neceffary to prevent him. To this he added the
offer of a powerful aid from Ireland, alluring him, with
that increafe of ftrength he might eafily drive Athcljlan
out of Northumberland, and free himfelf from a trouble-
fome and dangerous Neighbour, by reftoring that King-
dom to the Danes, who would ferve as a barrier againft
England. Anlaff found no great difficulty to prevail with
the King of Scotland, who, betides his being fecretly ex-
afperated at the haughty reception he met with at the late
Interview, was grown uneafy at Athelftans Succeffes, and
apprehenfive of being invaded himfelf. He refolved there-



(l) Malm/bury fays, that there was no other Objection againft him but this, if it was true, p. 48.

(x) Atbeljlan was cruvmed at Kmgjlon ufm Thames by Atbelm Auhbiih.jp of Canterbury. This Ceremony of Crowning and Anointing the Englijh Kings
was, in all probability, firft ufed in the Reign of Alfred,

(3) King of the Northumbrians. Malm/bury, p. 4.3.

(4) She was Daughter to Eebward and Egiv : na. After Sitbric's Death, (who lived but one year after his Marriage,) (he became a Nun at Pole/worth in
Wat^iuickjhire. F/or. Wore. Malntfb. jfo.lVall.ngford fays, that Sitbrie upon his Marriage with Editha, was advanced by Atbeljlan to the Title of King,
and that he gave him for his Kingdom all the Country from the River Tec:, as far as Edinburgh j from which time the Danes began to fettle in thofe Parts,
who before rambled about all over England. Sec Tyrrel, p. 330.

1 5) FJor. IVor. more probably fuppofes Anlaff 'not to have been the Son of Sitbrie King of Northumberland, but of another of that name, King of Inland,
aid who had married the Daughter of Conjlantine, p. 603. Brompt. S39.

(6) Huntingdon and Bremfton call him the Father of Reginald, p. 354., 838. Malmjbury calls him AUulpb, p. 4.S,

(7) Daere in Cumberland. Cam.i.

(8) This Homage is mentioned neither in the Saxxs Annals, nor in RUrianus Smjjw nj Fitn/ne of Wortejlcr,
it But Atbeljltn uuJc it mi pulled it down. Mal'njburf, p. 50,

7 fe/e



Cook IV.



S. ATHELST A N.



i <H



Athelftan
defeats

Howel King
r/ Wales.
Malmfb.



Erumpt.



9H-

He marches
into Scot-
land,

Sax. Ann.
Furdun, J. 4.
C 22.



and makes a
feats with
Conftjininc



938-

Conli antiue
renews tbe
War.



AthclSan
f»ts bit Brs
tier Edwin
tj Death,
Brumpt.
MalmiD.



and repents
if it.



fore to imbark in this Enterprize ; and having concerted
Meafurcs with Anlajf, they parted in order to go and pre-
pare what each had engaged to provide.

Mean while Atheljlan, having viewed his Garrifons,
and taken all the Precautions he thought proper to fecure
his late Conquefts, was returned into IVeffex, where he
remained in Peace, not knowing what his Enemies had
plotted againft him. Shortly after, he was engaged in a
War with Howe/ King of IVales. This new Enemy was
raifed by Conjlantine, to keep him employed againft the
Wlljb, whilft he and Anlaff fhou\& invade Northumberland.
Atheljlan, by his expedition, broke all the meafurcs of
the King of Scotland. The moment he was informed
of the Motions of the JVelfli, and the Aid fent them by
Conjlantine, he marched into Wales, and giving Hoivel
Battle obtained a complete Victory (i). After this happy
Succefs, he augmented the Tribute paid by that Prince to
England (2).

This War being thus ended, Atheljlan approached the
Borders of Scotland, to make Conjlantine repent of his af-
fifting the Weljh. As foon as he entered the Enemy's
Country, he took fome Towns, and gave the Scots rea-
fon to dread more confiderable LoiTes. As Anlajf was not
yet arrived with the promifed Supplies, Conjlantine durft
not Venture to engage alone in this War againft fo power-
ful an Enemy, who was already in his Dominions, and
in condition to carry on his Conquefts much further.
Wherefore, to gain time till the Irijh joined him, ho fucd
for Peace. Atheljlan readily granted his requeft, being ex-
tremely defirous to make that Prince his Friend, for fear
he fhould countenance the Infurreclions of the Northum-
brians. For this reafon he reftored to him all the Places
he had conquered in Scotland, in expectation of gaining by
this Generality a Prince whofe Friendfhip it was his Intereft
to cultivate. Some Hiftorians however affirm, Atheljlan
obliged Conjlantine to do him Homage for Scotland. But
this is what the Scffi will never allow.

Atheljlanm Gcnerofity was not fufficient to hinder Con-
jlantine from purfuing the Execution of his firft Projexfts.
He rather haftened his Preparations the more, being ex-
tremely vexed, he mould be forced to receive Obligations
from a Prince whom he always confidered as his Enemy.
Mean while, Atheljlan was returned to IVeJfex, where he
hoped to enjoy fome Repofe, as he faw nothing about him
likely to give him any Difturbance. But he met at home
in his own Family with what troubled him more than any
thing the War could occafion.

A certain Court-Lord, Enemy to Prince Edwin the
King's Brother, accufed the young Prince of being con-
cerned in Alfred's Confpiracy. The King too readily gave
Ear to this Accufation. He was eafily induced to believe
that a Prince in whofe favour the Confpiracy was formed
was not innocent. It may be too, he was not forry to
find him guilty, as it gave him an Opportunity to difpatch
him out of the way. However, he would not put him
to death publickly, but ordered him to be expofed to the
Fury of the Waves in a VelVel without Sails or Rudder.
The young Prince went on board protefting his Innocence,
but finding the King inexorable, he caff, himfelf head-
long into the Sea (3). Atheljlan at firft was fecretly
pleafed with this Occafion to deftroy his Brother ; but
the moment he had gratified his Paffion, was feized
with grievous Remorfe. To quiet his Confcience he was
advifed to atone for his Crime by fome meritorious AiSl.
With this View he founded the Abby of Middleton in Dor-
fctjhire (4), where Prayers were offered to Heaven, Day
and Night, for him and his Brother's Soul. The Hifto-
rians add (5), that, not content with this, he fubmitted
to a feven Years Penance, but do not inform us wherein it
confifted. Edwin's Accufer had not reafon long to rejoice
at the Succefs of his malicious Calumnies. One day as he
waited at Table with the King's Cup, one of his Feet
flipping, he would certainly have fallen, had he not by the
Nimblenefs of the other recovered himfelf. Whereupon
lie jokingly fays, See how one Brother helps another. This



Jeft coft him his Life. Atheljlan, who overheard What
he laid, taking it tor a Reproach or Banter upon him,
ordered him to be executed immediately, and thus re-
venged his Brothei's Death by That of his falfe Accu-
fer (6).

Whilft thefe things patted at Court, Conflaniir.e con- C nftanriju
tinued his Preparation, foi the execution of the Projecl
concerted between him and Anlajf. This laft, whom ,,,„,, , ,,;
fome groundlcfly ftile King of Ireland, had found means c -'x. Anr£
to engage in the League, the Irijh, IVclth, and No. 'hum- ^
brian Danes, who ardently deflred to have a Kino; of their H
own Nation on the Throne. Anlajf appeared as head of
this League, though Conjlantine was no lefs concerned in
it, the War being carried on chiefly at his Expence.
This Projecl was managed fo privately, that Anlajf 'enter-
ed the Humbcr with a Elect of fix hundred Sail, and in-
vaded Northumberland before Atheljlan had any Intelligence
of his Motions. With fo confiderable Eorces, and the
AlTiltancc of the Danes fettled in thofc Parts, he eafily be-
came Mafter of feveral fmall ill-guarded Towns. But
the fortified Places that were well garrifoned by the Eng-
lijl), flopped his Progrefs, and gave Atheljlan time to draw
his Army together. He ufed fo great expedition, that
he furprifed the two confederate Princes. They were
now upon the March towards Bcmicia, in order to con-
quer it for the King of Scotland, but found they were
obliged to turn back and oppof'e King Atheljlan, who was
very near them, when they imagined him as yet employ-
ed in his Preparations. The two Armies met at Bru-
nanburgh (7), where a bloody Battle was fought. Victory
declared for Atheljlan, and the Allies loft Conjlantine King
of Scotland, fix other Irijh or IVeljh Kings, and twelve
Earls and General Officers. This Victory was chiefly ow-
ing to the Valour of Turketul, the King's Coufin, who'
was afterwards Abbot of Croyland. Atheljlan after win-
ning this Battle, eafily extended his Conquefts farther into
Scotland, and chaftifed the Weljb by railing their Tribute
to twenty Pound weight of Gold, three hundred of Silver,
and twenty five thoufand Head of Cattle. Befides, they
were pent up beyond the JVye, and loft all the Country
between that River and the Severn. As for the Northum-
brian Danes, who had openly fided with the Allies, Athel-
jlan for a Punifhment encreafed their Yoke, and kept for
the future a ftricter hand over them. After he had fettled Maltnst.
the Affairs of the North, he marched againft the Cornt/h
Britons, who had likewife affifted the Confederates. He
took Exeter, formerly deftroyed by the Danes, and caufed
it to be carefully repaired and fortified. From that time,
the Britons were forced to retire beyond the Tamar, which
ferved for a Boundary to the two Nations. They were,
before this Expedition, mixed with the Engllfi in fome of
the JVeJlern Counties.

In almoft every page of the Hiftorics of thofe Days, Mimchi
we meet with Miracles wrought in favour of the Friends ** ' '"•
and Protectors of the Monks. Atheljlan who had been ' v; , , ur)
a good Benefactor to them, with intent to atone for the Bron'pt.
murder of his Brother, was a great favourite with them. Fordun, I.+.
Accordingly they have not failed to give him the ufual CZ3 '
marks of their Gratitude. They fay, at the word of
St. John of Beverly, he ftruck his Sword three Yards deep
in a folid Rock, which yielded like Butter. They tells us
alfo, that having loft his Sword in the Battle of Brunan-
burgh, another from Heaven came and fneathed itfelfin his
Scabbard. But it would be loft time to relate all the Mi-
racles the Monks have thought fit to fluff their Hiftories
with. It will not be amifs however to note, that th6
Cuftom of embellifhing all remarkable Events with Mira-
cles, was in fafhion for feveral Ages.

I ffiall conclude the Reign of Atheljlan with an Incident, Ht -•■■ ■:•
the beft Hiftorians have thought worth their Notice. A**"
few days before the Battle of BrUnanhargh^ Anlaff wanting
to know the Pofture of the Enemy, went into the Englijh Sm
Camp difguifed like a Harper, as Alfred the Greet had for- M
merly done. But notwithftanding his Difguile, he was
known by a Soldier, who however luffered him to go away



Main



(j) Euthe reftored Htnocl (and Conjlw.ttnt) to their Kingdoms, faying, It teas mere glorious to make a Kixg, tban to be ore- Malmfi. p. 4S. Brtr-.pt. S33 .
(2; Mahr.sbury intimates it was he who riift laid it on. See him p. 50.

(3) With the Prince was put on board his Elquire, who after the Prince had caft himfelf into the Sea, was refolded to fave himfelf if he cculd, and meet-
ing with better Fortune, was driven on Shore at a Place call'd tl'hitfand, on the Coaft of Pieardy. Mahal. '■'

(4) Now called Melton- Abhy ; it lies three Milei North of the Piddle. The greateft Part of it is (till Handing, as having been the Scat of the Tret

ever f.ncc its Diffoluticn ; from whom i< is lately come to the Luttertlls of DunjUr-CaJiie, by the Marriage of the Heireis of Sir Joan •fregtrn.-e.'l. Cc:td.
Add. to Dorfajbire.

(c) Br:mpton ?.nd Malmsb.

(6) As the Affair of Ed-.uin is the only thing that follies the Memory of Atbtlftan, Malmtbury, who relates it, difbclieves the whole Story, bet :: t if his
great ICindncli to his oth r Brothers and S;ftcts, and owns it was grounded only on irme 0!d Ballads. Htmtingdm ipeaks of the Lois of Edm )r Sea, but men-
tions it as a frd Acc-dent, and a great Misfortune to Atbeljlan. Bretrpten indeed delivers it as a certain Truth. But Bucbaran the .V ' D fuch.
was his Malice to this King"s Memory) makes Atbeffan not only to have procured the Death of his Brother Edwin, but alfo of h:s Father King Ecveard,
Whom he therefore fancies to have been call'd the Martyr ; and not content with this neither, adds, that he put to Death his Brother Edred alio. Mete
Wiflalccj can fcaice be committed in fo few Lines ; for in the firft Place, it is agreed by all our Hiftorians, that King Ed-a-ard died a natuial Death ; tr.d
as lor him whom he calls the Martyr, he wasSon of King Edgar, nor did he begin to reign till above a hundred and titty l can after. But as fcr v bat
BMbar.au object* againft fome of onr late Hiftorians for making Ct,»Jia»tine to do Homage for Satlavd to Atbi'ijUv, he lecros to be in the right, ice Nai :t - -. .-.

(7) Suppos'd to be Bromfcrd, near Bromridge, in filortbumbirtar.d j though feme think it was femewhere nearer the Hmmber. In the Del'crifticn of this
battle, the Hiftorians and Poets of that Age are extraordinary full of Rapture and Be mbaft. The Saxon sttwa.'ift, wont to be feber and fuccT.ct, launches
cut ftrangely upon this Occafion. Sax. Arm. 938. Axmittjhr in the Borders of Dcvor.jbire is famous for the Tombs of the Sun Pnncc: fl-in in this '
Battle "i Bninanburfb, and brought hitfeer after their Death. Camden, Vol. I. p. +4. Alter tiiis Victory, Aitdfen tock C-.-mbrrlard and Wtfmmla*A
tr,.m the Sriti, and recovered NerttjumbsrLzd from the Danes,

N'. VI. Vol. L. Cc undifcovered.



102



The HISTORY of ENGLAND,



Vol.'!:



9 + i.

Afhelltjn's
Dcjtb.



IfisCba-
raflei •

Malmlb.



undifcovered. As foon as the Soldier thought him fafe, he
to'.d Athel/lan what had happened, and advifed him to re-
move his Tent, judging Anlaff had fome defign upon that
Quarter. Heexcufed himfelf for not having difcovered this
Secret fooner, by faying, be had formerly given his Mili-
tary Oath to Anlaff, and therefore could not refolve to betray
him. Atheljlan forgave him, and followed his Advice,
which he foon found to be of great confequence. The
next Night the Danijh Prince, with a Body of chofen
Troops, attacked the Englijh Camp, and penetrated to the
verv place where he had feen the King's Tent. A Bifhop
(coming to the Camp that Night, and) accidentally pitch-
ins; his Tent in the fame place, was flain with all his
Followers.

Atheljlan out-lived the Victory of Brunanburgh but three
Years. He died a natural Death in 941, in the forty
fixth year of his Age, and the fixteenth of his Reign (1).
Hiftorians have dilated on the glorious Succefs of his Arms,
but much more on the Miracles Heaven wrought in his
favour. But without infilling on the wonders his Hiftory
abounds with, I fhall content my felf with giving him
this Commendation : His Merits made him to be equally
feared by his Neighbours, beloved by his Subjects, and
refpecled by the greateft Princes in Europe (2). The Em-
peror Otho, and Hugh the Great his Brothers-in-law, gave
him frequent demonftrations of their Efteem, by making
him conliderable Prefents. The noble Matches he made
for thofe of his Sifters who preferred the Marriage-ftate to a
Chiller 1 are clear Evidences of his great Reputation in the
World. His Sifter Ogina, Widow of Charles the Simple,
King of Prance, being obliged to fly for refuge into Eng-
land with her Son Lewis, who from thence had the Sir-



name ©f Outremer, he gave them an h'or.surable Reception
and furnifhed them with all things necefl'ary during their
Exile. It is even affirmed, his Application and Credit did
not a little contribute to the reftoring the King his Ne-
phew to the Throne of his Anceftors. Tho' he feemed
to be intirely engroffed by military Affairs, he found time
however to caufe Juftice and Civil Government to flourifh
in his Dominions ; witnefs the excellent Laws lie from
time to time added to thofe of Alfred his Grandfather. It
appears from thefe Laws, feveral whereof are (till extant,
that his Intent was, all Perfons, Ecclejiajlical as well as
Civil, fhould be fubiect to them. He was no Friend to
thofe Privileges and Immunities, the Clergy have fo much
improved, and which very often ferve only to authorize
Wickedncfs, and prove a Sanctuary to Criminals.

Amongft all the Monuments of his Piety, which for the Bt geti tU
moft part confifted only in building and endowing Mona- B ' hlt ".""'
fteries, according to the Cuftom of thofe Days, the Tran- Saxon.'""
nation of the Scriptures into Saxon, the then vulgar Tongue,
is one, the Ufefulnefs whereof appears to be leaft dubious.
He took particular care to have it well done, employing
thofe that were deemed the moft learned Perfons in the
Kingdom. Hence it is evident, how much the State of
Learning had been improved by the wife regulations of
the Great Alfred, fince in his time it would have been im-
poffible to find any Englifhman capable of undertaking a



Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 42 of 360)