« AnteriorContinuar »
every one hundred and ten hides of land, one galley to be built, and for every nine,26 a coat of mail and a helmet to be provided, and gave directions that ships should be built with all speed throughout the whole of England. These being prepared, he put on board of them picked soldiers, with provisions, and that they might protect the extremities of his kingdom from. the incursions of the foreigners, collected them at the port of Sandwich. At this period, Brithric, the brother of the perfidious duke Edric Streone, a slippery, ambitious, and haughty man, unjustly accused before the king, "Wulnoth,27 a thane of the South Saxons, who shortly after took to flight to avoid being seized, and having obtained nine vessels, committed numerous ravages near the sea-shore.
But when word was brought to the royal fleet, that if any one wished, he might easily take him; Brithric, having collected eighty galleys, set out to give him chase; however, after lie had sailed for some time with a fair wind, on a sudden a most violent tempest arose, and wrecked and shattered his ships, and threw them ashore, where they were shortly after burnt by Wulnoth. On this being known, the king with his chieftains and nobles returned Rome. But by his orders the fleet repaired to London, and thus this mighty labour of the people was wasted.
In the year 1009, the Danish earl Turkill came with his fleet to England, and afterwards, in the month of August, another innumerable fleet of the Danes, the chiefs of which were Hemming and Ailaf, came to the Isle of Tenedland,28 and without delay united with the aforesaid fleet, after which both of them entered the harbour of Sandwich, and the men disembarking, hastily attacked the city of Canterbury, and began to storm it; but shortly after, the citizens of Canterbury, with the people of East Kent, suing for peace, obtained their request, and gave them, in consideration of a treaty of peace, three thousand pounds.
Upon this they returned to their ships, and steered their course to the Isle of Wight, and after that, according to their usual practice, frequently collected spoil in Sussex and in the
M Roger of Wendover and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle say, "for cverv eight."
27 The father of Earl Godwin. He was accused of treason.
province of Southampton, in the neighbourhood of the sea-shore, and burned a great number of towns. On this, king Egelred collected an army throughout all England, and stationed it in the provinces adjoining the protection against their
incursions; but for all this, the enemy did not cease committing ravages in all quarters, according to the situation of the places. But upon one occasion, when they had made a descent for plunder at a greater distance than usual from the sea, and were returning laden with spoil, the king, attended by many thousands of armed men, got before them, prepared, as was all his army, to conquer or die.
But the perfidious duke Edric Streona, his son-in-law, used his endeavours in every way, both by treachery and ambiguous speeches, that they might not engage, but for that time let the enemy escape. To this he persuaded the king, and prevailed, and, like a traitor to his country, rescued the Danes from the hands of the English, and allowed them to escape ; on which, taking a different direction, with great joy they returned to their ships. After the feast of Saint Martin, they arrived in Kent, and chose their winter quarters on the river Thames, and collected provisions in Essex and other provinces that were adjoining either bank of the river. They also frequently attacked the city of London, and endeavoured to take it, but were repulsed by the citizens, not without some little loss to themselves.
In the year 1010, the above-mentioned army of the Danes, in the month of January, disembarking from their ships, came through the forest which is called Cyltern,29 into Herefordshire, and after laying it waste ravaged it with flames, and on their return collected booty on both banks of the river Thames. When they had been informed that an army was collected against them at London, and was about to engage with them, a part of the army passed over to the southern side of the river, at a place which is called Stane,30 and having united and enriched themselves with abundance of spoil, proceeded through Surrey, and then returned to their ships, which during the season of Lent, while they were staying in Kent, they refitted.
After Easter, they came to East Anglia, and having disembarked near Gipeswic,31 marched to a place which is called Itigmere, where they had learned that duke Ulfketel was en
23 Chiltern. ;0 Staines. 31 Ipswich.
camped with his army, and fought a severe battle with him on the third day before the nones of May. But while the battle was being hotly contested, the East Angles turned their backs, a certain thane of the king, a man of Danish origin, Turketel, surnamed Merenheauod, being the first to begin the flight; but the men of Cambridgeshire, manfully fighting, made a stout resistance, till at last, being overpowered, they took to flight.
In this battle fell Ethelstan, the king's son-in-law, Oswy, a noble thane, together with his son, Wulfric the son of Leofwin, Edwy, the son of Eftuic, and many other noble thanes, and an innumerable multitude. The Danes being masters of the field of slaughter, gained possession of East Anglia; and taking to horse, did not cease for three months ravaging the whole province, collecting booty, burning towns, and slaughtering men and animals; after which they laid waste Thetford and Grantebrige,32 and burned them; having accomplished which, the foot on board ship, and the cavalry on horseback, returned again to the river Thames. After the lapse of a few days, they again sallied forth to plunder, and made straight for the province of Oxfordshire, and first ravaged it, and then the districts of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, burning the towns, and slaughtering the men and cattle, after which they returned to their ships with vast booty.
After this, about the time of the festival of Saint Andrew the Apostle, they committed to the flames Northampton and its vicinity, as far as they pleased, and then crossed the river Thames and entered Wessex, where, having consigned to the flames Caning's-marsh,33 and the greater part of the province of Wiltshire, after their usual manner, they returned with great booty to their ships about the Nativity of our Lord.
In the year 1011, on the northern side of the Thames, the provinces of East Anglia, Essex, Middlesex, Herefordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Grantebrigeshire,34 the middle parts of Huntingdonshire, and the villages of a great part of Northamptonshire, were ravaged; and on the southern side of the river Thames, the provinces of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Southampton, Wiltshire, and Berkshire were laid waste by the above-mentioned army of the Danes, with fire and sword; upon which Egelrcd, king of the English, and the
33 Cambridge. 33 A large tract of land in Wiltshire.
chief men of his kingdom, sent ambassadors to them to sue for peace, and request them to cease from their ravages, promising them provisions and tribute; on hearing which, not without treachery and dissimulation, as the event proved, they consented to his offer.
For, although food was provided for them in abundance, and tribute paid as much as they pleased, still, they did not desist from making incursions in straggling bodies throughout the provinces wherever they chose, laying waste towns, spoiling some wretched people of their property and slaying others.
In the same year, after having ravaged a great part of England, an army of the Danes, between the Nativity of Saint Mary and the feast of Saint Michael, drawing their lines around it, laid siege to the city of Canterbury. On the twentieth day of the siege, through the treachery of the archdeacon Elmer, whom Saint Elphege had before rescued from being condemned to death, a part of the city was burnt, and, the army effecting an entrance, the city was taken. Some were slaughtered with the sword, some, destroyed by the flames. Many were also thrown from the walls, while some were put to death by being hung up by their secret parts. The women were dragged by their hair through the streets of the city, and then, being thrown into the flames, were thus put to death; infants were torn from their mother's breasts, and were either caught on the points of spears, or ground to pieces under the wheels of vehicles.
In the meantime archbishop Elphege was taken, bound in fetters, kept in confinement, and put to various torments. Ailmar, abbat of the monastery of Saint Augustine, was allowed to depart. Godwin, the bishop of Rochester, was also taken, and Leoufruna, abbess of the monastery of Saint Mildred, Elfrige, the king's steward, the monks also and secular clergy, and an innumerable multitude of either sex. After this, Christ's Church was sacked and burnt; a multitude of monks, and a crowd, consisting not only of men, but even women and children as well, were decimated, and nine were put to death, while the tenth was reserved alive: the amount of the decimated thus saved was four monks and eight hundred men. After the people had been slaughtered and the whole of the city burnt, archbishop Elphege was dragged forth in fetters, hurried along with violence, grievously wounded, and afterwards led away to the fleet and thrust into prison, where he was tortured for seven months.
In the meantime the wrath of God, waxing fierce against this murderous race, put an end to two thousand of them by a tormenting pain in the intestines. The others being attacked in a similar manner, were appealed to by the faithful, to make reparation to the archbishop, but refused to do so. In the meantime, the mortality increased, and at one time would put an end to ten, at another twenty, and at another a still greater number at the same instant.
In the year 1012, the perfidious duke Edric Streona, and all the chief men of England, assembled at London before Easter, and remained there until the tribute promised to the Danes, which consisted of forty-eight pounds,35 was paid. In the meantime, on the holy Sabbath of the rest of our Lord, a proposal was made to archbishop Elphege by the Danes, that if, he wished to preserve his life and liberty, he should pay three thousand pounds. Upon his refusal, they deferred his death until the next Sabbath, on the approach of which they were inflamed against him with great anger, both because they were intoxicated with excess of wine, and because he had forbidden that any thing should be given for his liberation. After this, he was brought forth from prison, and dragged before their council. On seeing him, they instantly sprang from their seats, struck him down with the butt ends of their axes, and overwhelmed him with stones, bones, and the skulls of oxen.
At length, a certain person, whose name was Thrum, and whom he had confirmed the day before, moved with pity at this wickedness,36 struck him on the head with an axe, upon which he immediately fell asleep in the Lord, on the thirteenth day before the calends of May, and sent his soul exulting in the triumph of martyrdom to heaven. On the following day his body was carried to London, and being received with due honor by the citizens, was buried by the bishops Ednoth of Lincoln, and Alphune of London, in the church of Saint Paul.
After this, when the tribute had been paid and peace established with the Danes on oath, the Danish fleet which had been collected, dispersed far and wide; but five-and-forty ships remained with the king, and swore fealty to him, and
35 Evidently a mistake for forty-eight thousand pounds, mentioned by Roger of Wendover and the Anglo'Saxon Chronicle. * " Impia motus pietate," can hardly be a correct reading here.