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in France.

Hastings the point of death, and that he was very wishful to

become a Christian. The bishop and the count were very glad to learn of the repentance of so terrible a

man.

They believed his statement, and his men were allowed to enter the city. After a time he was carried into the church and was bathed in the sacred font, and the bishop and the count raised him out of the water. His servants carried him back to his ship. Some time afterwards he pretended to be dead. And on a dark night at midnight he was placed on a bier, but he was fully armed with sword and breastplate. His men began to lament aloud. They, too, were armed. And in this manner they carried Hastings upon the bier from his ship into the church. The bishop thought he was really dead, and hastened to perform the rites of his church over him. But the awful man suddenly jumped down from the bier and killed both bishop and count with his sword. Of course, as the people of the town never suspected such wicked treachery, they were completely at the mercy of the Danes, who fell upon them like a pack of wolves. No one was spared. Old and young men were killed by them. They made the city a waste, and even threw down its walls to their very foundations. After this Hastings went to Charles, king of France, and made peace with him. He then received the city of Chartres as a present from the king.

Hastings lived to greet the arrival of the successful freebooter Rollo, the founder of the duchy of Normandy, whose descendant, the Conqueror of England, was no doubt inspired by Hastings' lofty deeds and mighty projects. Between the days of Hastings and

Thierry, vol. i. p. 154.

1

those of William of Normandy, both England and France were subjected to foreign invasions and serious civil strife, all of which tended to the overthrow of Saxon, and to the establishment of Norman rule in England

LEADING EVENTS.

First Landing of the Danes in England

787 A.D. The Invasion of Halfden, Ingwar, and Ubba, the sons of

Regner Lodbrog : they kill Ella, King of Northum-
bria

868 They also kill Edmund, King of East Anglia

870 The desperate struggle between Saxons and Danes for supremacy

878 Hastings besieged and defeated at Buttington

894

CHAPTER V.

FROM THE OVERTHROW OF HASTINGS TO THE DAYS OF THE

LADY OF THE MERCIANS."

King
Alfred.

The last chapter entered somewhat fully into the habits, thoughts, and aspirations of Hastings and his host. After their defeat at Buttington the land had comparative rest for many years. But the good and brave King Alfred was never idle. After he had overthrown the foreign foe, he tried to overcome the ignorance of his people, and also to make them better than they were. He stimulated them with rewards and punishments,' and no ignorant person could hold any position of dignity at his court. He made into one book the different laws and judgments of other Saxon kings. He was a student: he was fond of reading Saxon books, and particularly fond of committing to memory Saxon poems. He translated the history of Bede, part of the Psalms, and other works into Anglo-Saxon.

King Alfred divided the country into hundreds? and tythings, and he made the people of each division responsible for the good behaviour of their fellows; and this obligation was so eminently successful, that gold bracelets, hung up in the public way where roads crossed each other, were not stolen. He built a monastery at Winchesterand at Athelney, and a nunnery at Shaftesbury, and sent presents by the Bishop of Sherborne to Rome, and even to India;

1 William of Malmesbury.

2 Florence of Worcester.

Alfred.

he was regular, both night and day, in his devotions. King The twenty-four hours Alfred divided into three parts -eight for writing, reading and prayer; eight for refreshment of body; eight for the despatch of public business. He had a knowledge of naval and structural architecture: by means of the former he caused ships to be made which were twice as long, and more swift and higher than those of the Danes, and thus he laid the foundation of the British navy; by means of the latter he erected buildings more stately and costly than those erected by his predecessors. His fleet defeated that of the Danes, and captured twenty of their ships in 897.

His court was the home and school of the sons of his nobles. He formed schools for, the instruction of his people. He asked clever men, amongst others the Welshman Asser, who wrote an account of his life and deeds, to live with him, and to help him to govern and improve his subjects. Alfred looked upon the Bible as the best law book. He was fond of sports. He measured time by burning candles. He was kind to the good, but stern with the wicked. He freely gave away both money and goods to the clergy, and to other people as well. His subjects showed their love for him and their confidence in his bravery and skill by taking his part as one man when the terrible Hastings visited England in 894. For twenty-five years he was, Asser tells us, subject to great pain, which came on now and again. When we bear this fact in mind, and that he was only fifty-two years old when he died, we do not feel surprised that posterity venerate his name, and that to him alone of all the kings and 1 William of Malmesbury.

2 Florence of Worcester.

Death of queens of this kingdom the title of “Great” has been Alfred, 901.

heartily and unanimously ascribed.

He was born in 849, began to reign 871, and died 901. He had a son who was called Edward the Elder, and a daughter, Ethelfleda, who married Ethered, who ruled Mercia in King Alfred's name, and so he was called a sub-king. Ethelfleda bore the title of “ Lady of the Mercians." Another daughter, Ethelswitha, married Baldwin' of Flanders, the son of Alfred's stepmother, Judith.

1 William of Malmesbury.

LEADING EVENTS.

897 A.D.

Victory of the Saxon Fleet
The Death of King Alfred

901

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