« ForrigeFortsett »
It will thus be seen that the Battle of Brunanburgh The Battle was a terrible one. There were four distinguished burgh, 937. leaders engaged in it-Athelstan and his brother Edmund at the head of the Saxons, the Norwegian Anlaf, and Constantine, King of the Scots. No quarter was given. The ferocious and unchristian character of the combatants is strikingly evidenced by their treatment of the dying and the dead, as both were left upon the battle-field to become the food of birds of prey and wild beasts. According to William of Malmesbury, Anlaf, following the example of King Alfred, visited the camp of the Saxons in the disguise of an harpist, and played in the presence of Athelstan. He was recognized by one of his former followers, who advised the King to remove his tent: Athelstan did so, and the following night Anlaf burst into the Saxon camp and killed a bishop, whose tent occupied the space upon which that of Athelstan had stood. A miraculous sword alone saved the King and his host. The battle continued to rage until the next night: Constantine, twelve jarls, and almost the whole of the attacking force were killed. Anlaf sailed for Dublin, and Constantine fled to Scotland after their defeat. After Athelstan's victory the land had comparative rest for upwards of fifty years, when it was visited by Sweyn and Olave.
Athelstan favoured commerce and encouraged private enterprize by admitting merchants who had made three
heroes of Anlaf's forces; as the dead and dying strewed the ground; as Constantine and Anlaf sought safety in flight; as mothers wailed for their dear ones; as bird, toad, dog, and wolf gorged upon the flesh of the slain. He termed Anlaf King of Ireland.
The chronicler confounds Constantine with his son: the story of the airaculous sword is a pious fiction
successful voyages on their own account to the rank of thane; they were the first of our merchant princes. He was a great match-maker. He had eight sisters. One married Charles the Simple of France. One became a
Athelstan arranged the marriages of the others with (1) Sihtrict of Northumbria; (2) Hugh the Great, founder, by his second wife, of the Capetian dynasty; (3) Otho, Emperor of Germany; (4) a German duke; (5) an earl of Poitiers; (6) Louis the Blind of Aquitaine. These Saxon ladies were the pioneers of Saxon trade and influence on the Continent.
As the Court of Ethelfleda gave shelter and instruction to Athelstan and others, so that of Athelstan became the home and school of his nephew Louis of France; of Haco, son of Harold of Norway, who is known in history as King “ Haco the Good ;” and of Alan, grandson of Alan of Brittany. Athelstan helped these princes to ascend the thrones of their ancestors. He died in the year 940, at the early age of forty-six.
Athel. stan's Court.
The Birth of Athelstan
· Will. of Malmesbury states that Athelstan gave her in marriage to Sihtric.
925 to 988
THE Monkish chroniclers, cut off as they were from public intercourse, could not have been eye-witnesses of Dunstan, the events they described. They wrote of what was described to them by others. Under these circumstances it is surprising that they wrote so well. Fervid feelings, highly wrought imaginations, and grateful hearts, with a ready credulity and faith in those they trusted, took the place of direct information concerning the persons they praised or blamed, and the events chronicled in their pages.
Upon the subject of Dunstan they are particularly feeling and eloquent. And it must be readily allowed that the career of this really wonderful man afforded them every material for meditation and stirring recital, Born in the year when Athelstan began to reign, 925, he was the guiding principle during the reigns of his successors, Edmund the Atheling, Edred, Edwy, Edgar, and Edward the Martyr. His ready tongue, daring energy, and wily conspiracies, were more than a match for the fighting, hunting, drinking, and lewd kings and nobles of his days.
Dunstan first came into notice in the eighteenth year of his age, when King Edmund gave Glastonbury' into his charge, 943. From this time up to the reign of Ethelred the Unready, he ruled both Church and State. Edmund the Atheling succeeded his brother as king
1 Sa.con Chronicle.
946 to 955.
955 to 958,
in 940. In 946 he was killed in a drunken brawl by the
Leofa, a wolf-head. Dunstan declared that a dancing Atheling, 940 to 946. devil' forewarned him of the King's death. He after
wards secured his Satanic Majesty by the nose, because he had appeared before him in the form of a beautiful woman, and had, thus disguised, tempted him to do evil. These intercourses with the unseen greatly added
to Dunstan's reputation and power. Thus it came to Edred, pass that Edred, who succeeded his brother Edmund,
devoted his life to God and Dunstan. He was a sickly man, and passed his life in repeating long prayers, and receiving stripes at the advice of Dunstan. The latter was told of Edred's death by a voice from heaven."
At this time the Abbot of Glastonbury was very busy with political affairs. And when Edwy became King in 955, he wished him to be, as the other kings had been, a mere puppet in his hands. Edwy, who was a beautiful youth, offended Dunstan in two things - he married Elfgiva, a near relative, and preferred on the evening of his marriage the society of his wife to that of the Abbot and the drunken nobles. Dunstan treated him as a boy, and forced him back to the banquet. The King resented this conduct. In his quarrel with Dunstan he was helped by the secular priests, while the regular priests took the part of Dunstan. The seculars lived among the people, and were allowed to marry. The regulars, however, lived together in large buildings, and did not marry.
The King was wishful to bring Dunstan to judg. ment, but he refused to appear, and fled to Flanders.' I William of Malmesbury.
2 Matt. of Westminster. i Florence of Worcester.
• According to the Saxon Chronicle, Dunstan was driven away over the sea by Edwy, 957.
Perhaps he was unable to give an account of the public Dunstan's treasures entrusted to him by Edred. From Flanders, Intrigues. by means of Archbishop Odo, the monks of Mercia, and the traders between the two districts, he incited the Mercians to rebel against Edwy, and to fix upon Edgar as their ruler. Thus the union of England by Egbert and others was undone through the powers of the regulars, headed by Dunstan. And this was not enough ; Elfgiva was seized, branded on the face, and sent to Ireland. Returning, she was again seized and tortured to death. Edwy, who had been excommunicated, soon followed his beloved wife to the grave, 958. Edwy's Certain writers,' upon the authority of some obscure and death, 958, unreliable MSS., use words of a terrible nature against Edwy and his wife. On the other hand, we are assured that his reign was a happy and prosperous one.?
Edgar now became sole King of England; and Edgar, Dunstan once more ruled the land. The seculars were treated with the greatest severity. Edgar built forty new monasteries. Dunstan was made Bishop of Worcester and London, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. A large fleet was built, which sailed along the coast, to protect the country. The Archbishop was very energetic on behalf of the King, and we read in certain books that all was peace and happiness throughout the land whilst Edgar reigned. and that even Welsh wolves and princes were subdued by him.
But the Saxon Chronicle," while mentioning Edgar's peaceful reign, his love for God's law, his erection of religious houses, and the honour in which he was held
958 to 975.
Will. of Malmesbury ; Matt. of Westminster ; Lingard, the historian, Sta
: Matt. of Westminster.