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In the fourth year after this, died Ethelred, archbishop of Canterbury, and was succeeded by Wilfred, and two years after, Cuthred, king of Kent, departed this life.
In the following year, Hardulph, king of Northumbria, was expelled from his kingdom.
In the fourteenth year of his reign, Egbert overran the territories of the Britons28 from east to west, and there was no one who could even attempt to make resistance to his prowess.
In the year after this, Charles, king of the Franks and emperor of the Romans, departed this life; and in the following year, Saint Leo, the pope, having died, Stephen succeeded him, who in his turn was succeeded by Paschal.
Shortly after this, Kenwulph, king of Mercia, departed this life, and was succeeded by Ceolwulph; but in the third year after this, "he lost his kingdom, and Beornwulph gained possession of it.
In the fourteenth59 year of his reign, Egbert fought a battle with Beornwulph, king of Mercia, at Ellendune,30 by reason of which, an old saying mentions that, "The river Ellendune was red with gore, choked up with carnage, and stinking with putrefaction." After a very great slaughter there of both nations, Egbert was the melancholy conqueror. After this, pursuing his successes, he sent his son Ethelwulph, who afterwards became king, and bishop Alcstan,31 and earl Walhard, with a great army, into Kent; on which they drove Balred, the king, beyond the Thames. King Egbert then received the people of Surrey, and Kent, and Sussex under his subjection, of whom his kinsman, Pren, had formerly been unjustly deprived. In this year also, the king of East Anglia, together with his people, acknowledged king Egbert as his protector; and after this, in the same year, the East Angles slew Bernulph, king of the Mercians, who was succeeded by Ludecen.
In the same year there was a very great battle between the Britons32 and the people of Devonshire, at Gavelford,33 where many thousands of men were slain on both sides.
In the following year, Ludecen, king of Mercia, and five earls, were slain.
29 The people of North Wales. 24 This should be " twenty-fourth."
30 Supposed to have been near Winchester, though Highworth, in Wiltshire, and Hillingdon, in Middlesex, have been suggested.
81 Gf Sherborne. 32 The Welsh. » Camelford, in Cornwall.
In the twenty-seventh year of his reign, Egbert expelled Wilaf, king of Mercia, who had succeeded king Ludecen, and possessed himself of the kingdom. As he had now gained possession of all the kingdom on the south side of the Humber, he led an army to Dore34 against the Northumbrians; on which, submissiVely offering concord and obedience to the great king, they were peacefully reduced to subjection.
In the following year, king Egbert led an army into North Wales, and subjected it by force of arms.
In the succeeding year, Wilfred, archbishop of Canterbury, died, and was succeeded by Ceolnoth.
In the thirty-eighth35 year of king Egbert, an army of Danes returned to England; and shortly after, they were vanquished at Danemute,36 and put to flight. Shortly after this, they ravaged Sepey,37 on which king Egbert with his forces fought against them, they having come thither with thirty-five very large vessels. In the following year he fought against them at Carra,38 and there the Danes gained the victory, and two bishops, Herefred33 and Wilfred,40 with two dukes, Dudda and Osmod, were slain.
In the following year, a naval force of the Danes came into West Wales, on which the Welsh united with the Danes and made an attack upon king Egbert. The king, however, enjoying success, gloriously repulsed them, and, valiant as they were, bravely routed them at Hengistendune.41
In the year after this, Egbert, the great king and monarch of Britain, departed this life, after having made his sons heirs to the kingdoms of which he was in possession, appointing Ethelwulph king of Wessex, and Ethelstan king of Kent, Sussex, and Essex. But as we have now come to the mo
34 Lambarde suggests, that it may possibly be Darton, or Darfield, in Yorkshire. 36 This should be "thirty-fifth."
36 A various reading gives Donemuth. Lambarde thinks that this place stood at the confluence of the rivers Don and Trent, not far from the town of Kingston-upon-Hull.
37 The isle of Sheppey, at the mouth of the Thames. 38 Charmouth.
39 He appears to have been bishop of Winchester.
40 He was bishop of either Sherburne or Selsey.
41 Lambarde says, "I take this to be the same place that is at this day called Henkston Doune, in Cornwall; for the fall is easy from Heugistdune to Hengsfdune, and so to Hengston; and it is most apparent that it was either in Cornwall, or not far off."
VOL. I. D
narchies of England, and to the frightful plague which afflicted us in the descents of the Danes, the book may be made appropriately devoted to a new subject.
At the beginning41 of my history, I have mentioned that Britain. was afflicted with five plagues; the fourth of which, namely, that caused by the Danes, I shall treat of in the present book, and the more so, as this was far more dreadful and caused far more bloodshed than the others. For the Romans kept Britain under their subjection during only a short period, and ruled it gloriously by the laws of the conquerors. Again, the Picts and the Scots made frequent irruptions into Britain on the northern side, but, still, they did not attack it in every quarter, and on being sometimes repulsed with loss, they not unfrequently paused in their invasions. Again, the Saxons, using all their endeavours, gradually gained the land by warfare: when gained, they kept possession of it; when in their possession, they built upon it; when built upon, they ruled it with their laws. The Normans also, who speedily and in a very short time subdued this country, granted to the conquered their lives, their liberty, and the ancient laws of the realm, upon which matters I shall enlarge at the proper time.
On the other hand, the Danes continually and perseveringly harassed the land, and in their incursions shewed a desire not to keep possession of it, but rather to lay it waste, and to destroy everything, not to obtain rule. If at any time they were overcome, no benefit resulted therefrom, for on a sudden a fleet and a still greater army would make its appearance in another quarter; and it was a matter for astonishment how, when the kings of the English would march to fight with them on the eastern side, before they approached the troops of the enemy, a messenger would come in haste and say, "0 king, whither are you going? An innumerable fleet of the pagans on the southern side has taken possession of the coasts of England, and, depopulating cities and towns, has ravaged every place with fire and sword;" on the same day another would come running and saying, "0 king, whither are you flying? A terrible army has landed on the western side of England; if you do not quickly turn and make head against them, they will think that you have taken to flight, and will
41 He has not previously made any such remark: this and some other passages would lead us to infer that some portion of the work is lost.
pursue you with flames and carnage." On the same day or the succeeding one, another messenger would come running and out of breath, and say, "Whither, ye nobles, are you going? The Danes, leaving their northern regions, have already burnt your houses, already carried off your property, tossed your children on the points of their spears, and committed violence on the wives of some, while those of others they have carried away with them."
Thus then, both king and people, being distracted by so many evil rumours and sinister reports, were relaxed both in hands and heart, and pined away with consternation of mind. Consequently, not even when they were victorious, did they experience any joy, as usually is the case, nor did they entertain any assured hopes of safety. The following is the reason why the justice of God raged so fiercely, and his wrath was so greatly inflamed against them.
In the primitive church of the English, religion shone forth with most brilliant lustre, inasmuch as kings and queens, nobles and princes, as well as bishops of churches, being inflamed with ardent desire for a heavenly kingdom, sought either the walls of the monastery or voluntary exile, as I have already shown. But in process of time all traces of virtue waxed so faint in them, that they would allow no nation to be their equal for treachery and wickedness, a thing which is especially notorious in the history of the kings of Northumberland; for just as their impiety has been described in my account of the actions of the kings, in the same way did men of every rank and station persist in a course of deceit and treachery, and nothing was esteemed disgraceful except piety, while innocence was considered most deserving of a violent death. In consequence, the Lord Almighty sent down upon them, like swarms of bees, most bloodthirsty nations, who spared neither age nor sex, such as the Danes and the Goths, the Norwegians and the Swedes, the Vandals and the Frisians; who, from the begining of the reign of king Ethelwulph down to the time of the arrival of the Normans and of king William, that is to say, for a period of three hundred and thirty years, dreadfully afllicted this country, and laid it waste with desolation far and wide. Sometimes also, in consequence of the nearness of Britain, as the avengers and scourges of God for the misdeeds of the people, they invaded the country of France; but, having made these observations, it is time to return to the thread of my narrative.
In the first year of his reign, Ethelwulph made head against these enemies in one part of his kingdom; and, as multitudes of the pagans increased on every side, he sent earl Wulfred, with a part of his army, to attack some Danes, who, with thirtythree ships, had effected a landing at Hampton ;42 on there meeting with them, after an immense slaughter of the enemy, gained a glorious victory. King Ethelwulph also sent earl Ethelhelm, with the levies of "Wessex, to attack another army at Port ;43 an engagement taking place, after an obstinate battle the earl was slain, and the Danes were victorious.
In the following year, earl Herbert fought against them at Merseware,44 and the Danes being the conquerors, his own men were put to flight, and he was slain. In the same year, an army of the pagans marched through the eastern parts of England, namely, Lindesey, East Anglia, and Kent, and slew an innumerable multitude with the sword.
In the next year after this, coming further inland, the army of the Danes slew an immense number of people in the neighbourhood of Canterbury, Rochester, and London.
In the fifth year of his reign, Ethelwulph, with a part of his army, fought against the crews of thirty-five ships at Carre,46 and the Danes were victorious. For, although the
« Southampton. 43 The isle of Portland.
44 Instead of naming the place, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says: "This year Herebert, the ealdorman, was slain by the heathen, and many with him, among the Marshmen." In Ethelwerd's Chronicle the place is called Merswarum, and Romney Marsh is supposed to be intended under that name. Lambarde has the following quaint note on this passage : " Henry Huntingdon, in the Fifth Book of his History, speaking of the conflicts had with the Danes under the reign of vEdelwulfe, reports, amongst other things, that Herebert, an earl, fought with them, at a place which he called Marseware, and was slain. Matthew Westminster repeateth the same, and instead of Marseware, setteth down 'apud Marsunarum.' So that both these, and so many others as have followed them, take the name Mersewar for a place, and not for a number of persons. In which, through ignorance of the Saxon tongue, they have foully erred; for the Saxon books say that Herebert was slain, ' and with him many of the Mercians, or men of Mercia.' So that the history describeth of what country they ■» were that were slain, but not in what place the slaughter was committed."