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Ethelfleda, lasting benefits to themselves and their country. The

one taught her pupil the art of warfare, and set him an example of patient endurance, stubborn determination, great policy, unshaken fidelity, and a perfect scorn of the pleasures of the flesh; after the birth of her first and only child, Elfwina, she deserted her husband's bed; from that time they appeared more as companions in arms than as husband and wife. The other taught her pupil the delights of learning, and guided his boyish ambition towards objects which were ultimately destined to raise the social and moral standard of his subjects; though she also set him an example of girlish attachment, and easy observance of the codes of Christianity, a delight in the pleasures of a court procured at any sacrifice, and a fondness for the concerns of wifehood,

however infamously attained. Her death, Henry of Huntingdon becomes enthusiastic while

describing the reign of Ethelfleda, and finally bursts forth into verse :

“Ethelfleda, terror of mankind !

Nature, for ever unconfin’d,
Stampt thee in woman's tender frame,
Tho' worthy of a hero's name.
Thee, thee alone, the muse shall sing,
Dread Empress and victorious King !
E’en Cæsar's conquests were outdone

By thee, illustrious Amazon !” 2
At this time Hywel Dda (Howell the Good), grand-
son of Rhodri Mawr (Roderick the Great), was King of
South Wales and of Powys, and his cousin, Idwal Voel,
reigned over North Wales.3

919.

* Ingulphus gives the following explanation of this extraordinary conduct: “Pariendo, suam sobolem primam difficultatem perpessa, tanta indignatione carnalem concubitum abhorruit, ut nunquam deinceps ad viri sui thorum rediens, se caelebitu castissimo contineret.”

2 Pennant's Tour in Wales, p. 121.
3 Warrington's History of Wales, book iv., pp. 158, 159.

Edward honoured his sister's memory by depriving her daughter, Elfwina, of ail authority, and by conduct- Elfwina. ing her into Wessex,' under the pretence that she was about to wed? a Danish prince, to whose brother his own daughter was afterwards given in marriage by his son Athelstan. History is silent concerning the fate of this ill-used maiden. She may have lived in solitary confinement to extreme old age, or she may have fallen a victim to the vindictive jealousy of her uncle the king

Upon the death of Ethelfleda, Mercia became a fief The of the kingdom of Wessex, and its ealdormen, though men of they sometimes took a prominent part in the affairs of Mercia. the country, could no longer wield full authority like Penda the Cruel, Ethelbald the Arrogant, Offa the Terrible, and Ethered the vice-King, within the dominions entrusted to their charge. The Mercian ealdormen were Elfere the Regicide, Elfric the Treacherous, Edric the Arch-traitor, Leofric the Pious, Algar the Fiery, and Edwin the Dilatory. Elfere stabbed Edward the Martyr, helped Elfrida, wife of Edgar and mother of Ethelred the Unready, to overcome Dunstan and the Monastics, and was eaten of vermin. Elfric repeatedly betrayed the Unready King Edric did the same, and waded through pools of noble blood,4 until he rivalled Canute himself in power: his victims were Gunhilda, sister of Sweyn, her son, and her husband Palling; the ealdorman Elfhelm, father of Canute's first wife; Sigeferth and Morcar of the Five Burghs;

Ealdor

1 Flor, of Worcester, 920.
2 Professor Barlow's Lectures ; University of Dublin.
3 Will. of Malmesbury.

· Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Stamford.—Florence of t'orcester.

King Edmund the Ironside, and his brother the Athei-
ing Edwy.

The chief events in connexion with the lives of
the Ealdormen of Mercia will be given in succeeding
chapters.

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CHAPTER VII.

FROM THE DEATH OF ETHELFLEDA TO THE TIME

OF DUNSTAN.

EDWARD the Elder, Alfred's son, was the first king to Edward take the title of “King of England.” While the Athel- 901 to 924. ing he married a peasant girl

. This marriage was a grave scandal, and shook the credulity of those who looked upon the royal race as descended from Woden. In the year 894 a son was born of this marriage. He was called Athelstan. Athelstan was the solace of his grandfather's declining years. When seven years old Alfred conferred the honour of knighthood upon his grandson, and gave him at the same time a scarlet cloak, a belt, and a Saxon sword studded with diamonds. At the request of his grandfather he became the pupil of the Vice-king and the Lady of the Mercians, under whose charge he was instructed in those military exercises which afterwards enabled him to overthrow the united forces of Gael, Scot, Celt, Norse, and Dane, at Brunanburgh, and to consolidate the The Battle various sections of the Saxon Community, 937. anburgh,

The Saccon Chronicle celebrated in verse Athelstan's great victory, and stated that :

The field deluged
with warrior's blood,
since the Sun,
up at morning-tide,
glided o'er lands,
God's candle bright,

sank to her settle.
Will. of Malmesbury.

Saxon Chronicle.

E

of Brun

937.

Five lay
on the battle field
youthful kings,
by swords in slumber laid;
so seven also
of Anlaf's (Olave's) jarls;
of the army countless
shipmen and Scots.

Constantine,
hoary warrior,
had no cause to boast
in the communion of swords;
and his son he left
in the slaughter-place
mangled with wounds,
young in the fight.

King' and Atheling?
their country sought
in the war rejoicing.
They left behind them
the corse to devour,
the yellow kite
and the black raven;
the corse to enjoy,
the greedy war-hawk
and the grey beast
wolf of the wood.
Carnage greater has not been
in this island,
of people slain
by edges of swords,
since from the East hither
Angles and Saxons
came to land. 3

1 Athelstan.

2 His brother Edmund. 3 The above lines are taken from the first piece of poetry that appears in the Saxon Chronicles. The writer describes the events of the battle-field and the results of the contest with patriotic enthusiasm. Henry of Hun. tingdon translated this poetry into prose. His account of the Battle of Brunanburgh is unrivalled for majesty of language and brilliancy of description. Mentally, the reader beholds the various scenes of that bloody fight -as the spears transfixed the Danes through their shields ; as the West Saxons hewed with their swords the flying foe; as the Mercians engaged the

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