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Edmund had less abilities or less fortune than Athelstan; or the power of the Anglo-Danes had increased, for Anlaf was victorious at Tamworth (1). But the Anglo-Saxon government had been so fortified by the wise administration of three able sovereigns, that the first successes of Anlaf could not overwhelm it. At Leicester, the king surrounded the invader and his friend Wulfstan, the ambitious and turbulent archbishop of York; but they burst at night out of the city (2). A battle ensued, in which the skill and activity of an carl, whose daughter he had married, gave to Anlaf the palm of victory, after a day of conflict (3).
These defeats inclined Edmund to listen to the negotiation of the archbishops of Canterbury and York. A peace was concluded between the princely rivals, on terms highly honourable to Anlaf, but less creditable to Edmund. To Anlaf was surrendered all that part of England which extended north of Watling-street, Edmund contented himself with the southern regions. But a condition, still more humiliating to the Anglo-Saxons, was added:-whoever survived the other was to be the monarch of the whole (4). It happened that Anlaf died in the following year; but he must have had great power, or great talents capable of creating power, to have established for himself so near a chance of the crown of England.
The death of Anlaf removed a perilous competitor, and Edmund availed himself of the casualty to recover the possession of Northumbria (5). He also terminated the dangerous independence of the five cities which the Danes had long occupied on the northern frontiers of Mercia and East Anglia. These were Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Stamford, and Lincoln. The preceding kings seem to have suffered the Danes to retain them; but "the heir of
Thyre dæd fruma
(1) I have seen this fact no where mentioned but in the MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tiberius, B. 4.943, Her Anlaf abrac Tamewurt he and micel wal gefeol on ægthsa hand and tha denan sige ahton and micele here huthe mid him aweg læddon. Thær pas Wulfrun genumen on thære hergunge. Hoveden hints, that he advanced to Tamwrde, and plundered, p. 423.; but neither mentions the Danish victory, nor the capture of Wulfrun.
(2) This incident appears only in the MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tib. B. 4. It is not in the printed one, nor in Matthew, nor Florence, nor Hoveden, nor Huntingdon, nor Malmsbury, nor Ethelwerd, nor Ingulf. The passage in the MS. Chronicle is thus: "Her Eadmund cyning ymbsæt Anlaf cyning and Wulfstan arcebiscop on Legraceastre and he hy gewyldon meahte nære tha hi on niht ut ne ætburston of thære byrig."
(3) Matt. West. 365.
(4) Matt. West. 365. Hoveden, 423., admits the peace, but omits the last condition. So Mailros, 148., and Sim. Dun. 134.
(5) Matt. West. 365.; the Saxon Chron.; Mailros, and others, place Anlaf's death at this time.
the warriors of Edward (1)" adopted a new policy. He expelled the Northmen, and peopled them with Saxons (2). Two fleeting kings attempted, but in vain, to be permanent in Northumbria. Edmund extended his conquests to Cumbria, in 946: with the help of the king of South Wales, he ravaged the little kingdom; he cruelly blinded the two sons of Dunmail, who reigned there, and gave it to Malcolm of Scotland, on condition of defending the north of the island against invaders (3).
In the height of his prosperity the king was suddenly killed. The circumstances of his death, however, vary more than a transaction so simple, and so affecting, could be thought to occasion. At Canterbury, according to some (4); at Windechirche, according to another (5); at Michelesberith, as named by a third (6); at Pucklechurch in Gloucestershire, between the Avon and the Severn, according to others (7); the king was feasting on the day of Saint Augustine, which was always commemorated by the Anglo-Saxons. A man, one Leof, appeared among the company, whom Edmund had six years before banished for pillage. Warmed with the liquor which he had been drinking, the king jumped from his seat, seized the intruder by the hair, and threw him on the ground (8); others state, that Leof had quarrelled with the king's cup-bearer, and was about to destroy him, when Edmund interfered (9); another, perhaps more truly, mentions, that amidst the bacchanalian jollity, a discord, as generally happens, suddenly arose among the guests. In the midst of their fury, the king rose. from table to appease, perhaps to share in the tumult, when the
(1) So the Saxon Chronicle styles him in a passage, which seems to be a part of an Anglo-Saxon song.
Wiggendra hleoafera Edwardes.
Sax. Chron. 114.
(2) Huntingdon, p. 355.
(3) Matt. West. 366. The condition in the Saxon Chronicle, which dates the event in 945, is, that Malcolm should be his mid wyrhta both on sea and land, p. 115. The Welsh Chronicle places it in 944: "Ac y diffeithwyt Strat-clut y gan y Saesson." "Strat-clut was ravaged by the Saxons." MS. Cleop. b. v. The MS. Cleop. states the death of Edwal and Elissed against the Saxons.
(4) Thorn. Ch. 1779.; Bromton, 858.; Hist. Rames. 389. So the Welsh MS. "945, yd oed Edmund Vrenhin yn kynnal gwled yn manachloc Seint Austyn yngkeint." Cleop. b. v.
(5) Mailros, 148.
(6) Matt. West. 366. (7) Malmsb. 54. Al. Bev. 111. Hoveden, 423. Ing. 29.
(8) Malmsb. 54. So the Welsh Chronicle : "Ac val ydoed yn bwrw golwe ar hyt y neuad ef a welei Lleidyr a rydaroed y dehol or ynys kyuno hynny ar brenhin a gynodes y vyny ac a doeth hyt yn lle ydoed y lleidyr ac ymayael ac ef ger wallt y ben ay dynny dros y bwrt." "And, as he was casting his eye along the hall, he saw a robber, who had been given over to banishment from the island before. The king arose immediately, and went to the place where the robber was, and laid hold of him by the hair of his head to draw him over the table." MS. Cleop. b. v.
(9) Flor. Wig. 35. Hoveden, 423. It is said by Alur. Bev. 111. that the king wished to save his Dapifer from the hands of his enemies. Matt. West. narrates, that the king, seeing Leof, nodded to his cup-bearer to turn him out. Leof resisting, Edmund rushed in anger upon him, p. 366.
exiled robber stabbed him with a dagger which he had secreted (1). It is, however, singular, that, on an incident so palpable and so impressive, such a contrariety of rumours became popular, that Malmsbury states, that his death opened the door for fable all over England (2); and Wallingford was so perplexed as to aver, that it was to his day uncertain who was the murderer, or what was the cause (3). Instances like these, which often occur in the history of man, prove the truth of the observation of our intelligent moralist, that "the usual character of human testimony is substantial truth under circumstantial variety (4)."
The Reign of Edred.
Edred, who succeeded Edmund, was the third son of Edward, who had reigned after his father, Alfred. As the preceding king, the elder brother of Edred, was but eighteen years of age when he acceded, Edred must have been less than twenty-three at his elevation. His reign was short. Disease produced to him that crisis which the arm of violence had occasioned to his predecessor.
The most remarkable circumstance of Edred's short reign was, the complete incorporation of Northumbria. It had been often conquered before. Its independence was now entirely anni
It has been mentioned, that Athelstan gave the Northumbrian crown to Eric, the son of Harald of Norway, who had been expelled his paternal inheritance, for his fratricides and cruelty. But peaceful dignity can have no charms except for the cultivated mind, the sensualist, or the timid. It is only a scene of apathy to those who have been accustomed to the violent agitations of barbarian life; whose noblest hope has been an ample plunder; whose most pleasurable excitations have arisen from the exertion
(1) Hist. Rames. 389.
(2) Quo vulnere exanimatus fabulæ januam in omnem Angliam de interitu suo patefecit, p. 54.
(3) Sed qua ratione vel a quo occisus fuit usque ad præsens incertum habetur. Chron. p. 541. The MS. Saxon Chronicle has a passage on Edmund's death, not in the printed one, agreeing in the fact as stated by the authors quoted in note 7. p. 143. " Tha was wide cuth hu he his dagas geendode tha Liofa hine afstang æt Pulcan cyrcan." Tib. b. iv. Torfæus makes a Jatmund king of England to have been killed by one Owar-Oddi, in the third century. Hist. Norw. 1. vi. p. 72. It may be a traditional misplacement of this incident.
(4) Paley's View of the Evidences of Christianity, vol. ii. p. 289. 5th ed. 8vo.; a work which displays a highly-accomplished and candid mind in the full exertion of its enlightened energies.
and the triumphs of war. Eric therefore still loved the activity of depredation. The numerous friends with kindred feelings, who crowded to him from Norway, displeased or disappointed with the government of Haco, cherished his turbulent feelings; and to feed, to employ, or to emulate them, he amused his summer months by pirating on Scotland, the Hebrides, Ireland, and Wales (1). In the reign of Edmund, perceiving that this king or his unquiet subjects desired a new regent, he hastened to his beloved ocean and its plunder. From the Orkneys he collected some companions. In the Hebrides he found many vikingr and seakings (2), who joined their forces to aid his fortunes. He led them first to Ireland; thence to Wales; and, at last, reaching England, he plundered extensively. The Northumbrians again received him as their king (3), and Eric became formidable to the Anglo-Saxons.
It had happened that before this event this people had sworn fidelity to Edred at Tadwine's Cliffe (4). Provoked by this rebellion, Edred assembled an army, and spread devastation over Northumbria. As he returned, the Northmen warily followed him from York, and at Casterford surprised and destroyed his rear guard. Enraged at the disaster, the king stopped his retreat, and again sought Northumbria with augmented fury. Terrified at his power and its effects, the people threw off Eric, and appeased Edred with great pecuniary sacrifices (5).
But Eric was not to be discarded with impunity. He collected his forces, and gave battle to the revolters. Snorre mentions Olafe as the friend of Edred (6). Simeon of Durham omits him, but notices his son Maccus (7). The Icelander states the battle to have lasted the whole day, and that Eric and five other kings, among whom he names Gothorm, and his sons Ivar and Harekr, probably sea-kings, perished; Rognvalldr and others also fell (8). Our chronicler, Matthew, admits such a catastrophe, but states that Osulf betrayed Eric, and that Maccus fraudulently killed him in a desert (9).
(1) Snorre, Saga Hakonar Goda, c. iv. p. 128..
(2) Snorre, ibid.
(3) Flor. Wig. 352. He calls him Ircus. Saxon Chronicle says, Yric, the son of Harold, p. 115. So Wallingford, 541. The Chronicle of Mailros also calls him Eyric the son of Harold, p. 148. Ingulf names him Hircius, p. 30. Simeon calls him Eiric, a Dane, 134. Matt. West. has Elric, p. 368.
The printed chronicle has nothing of this. The
(4) Hoveden, 423. Flor. 352. MS. Chronicle, Tib. b. iv., states it.
(5) Flor. Wig. 352, 353. Hoveden, 423. The MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tib. b. iv., supplies on this incident the silence of the one printed, by a long passage, of which the paragraphs in Florence and Hoveden seem to be a translation. In the MS. Tib. b. i. there is a blank from 946 to 956.
(6) Hakonar Saga, p. 129.
(7) Simeon, 204. (8) Snorre, 129. He errs in placing the catastrophe under Edmund.
(9) Matt. West. 369. Sim. 204. Matthew says, "that with Eric fell his son Henricus, and his brother Reginaldus. He perhaps means the Harekr and
Edred improved the moment by exerting all the power of conquest. He carried away in bonds the proudest nobles of the country, and overspread it with devastation (1); he imprisoned Wulfstan, the turbulent archbishop (2); he annexed Northumbria inseparably to his dominions; and to govern it the more easily, he partitioned it into baronies and counties, over which he placed officers of his own appointment (3). Osulf, whose treachery had produced the destruction of Eric, was the first carl; to whom in another reign Oslac was added (4).
In 955, Edred died; but not worn out by old age, as some have dreamt (5). One expression has descended to us concerning him, debilis pedibus, weak in the feet (6). We also learn from the writing of an author, almost, if not quite, his contemporary, that his indisposition, rather an offensive one, lasted all his reign; and, by a gradual wasting, produced his death (7).
The Reign of Edwin.
Edwin (8), who has been usually called Edwy, the eldest son Rognvalldr of Snorre. Our writers mention no battle; but this additional incident is highly credible. Mailros calls Eric the last king of Northumbria, 148.
(1) Ingulf, 41. He adds a strong picture of Edred's invasion :-" Erasaque tola terra et in cineres redacta ita ut multis milliariis longo tempore sequenti solitudo fieret."
(2) Flor. 353. Matt. West. 369. The MS. Chronicle, Tib. b. iv., is like the passage in Florence.
(3) Wallingford, 541.
(4) Mailros, 148. Sim. Dun. 204.
(5) It is curious to read in Wallingford, p. 542., that old age greatly vexed Edred, and that multis incommodis quæ senes solent circumvenire ad extrema deduxit. Among these evils of senility, he particularises the loss of teeth, debility, and the frequent cough, familiaris senibus. Yet this old man could not have been much above thirty; for he was under twenty-three at his accession, and he reigned nine years. The chronicler mistook the consequences of disease, for the natural effects of old age.
(6) It is Hermannus who has left us this trait. His MS. is in the Cotton Library, Tib. b. ii.
(7) Vita Dunstani, p. 75. MS. Cotton Library, Cleopatra, b. xiii.
(8) He is commonly called Edwy; but the old authorities are numerous, which express his name to have been Edwin. Of Chroniclers that have been printed, he is styled Edwin-by Ingulf, p. 41.; by Alured of Beverley, p. 111.; by Simeon Dunelm, p. 135.; by Wallingford, 541.; by Ethelridus Rievallensis, 359.; by Knighton, 2312.; by Hoveden, 425.; by Bromton, 863.; by Malmsbury, 201.; by the Hist. Ramesiensis, 389.; by Thorn. 2243.; by Higden, 263.; by Radulf de Diceto, 455.; by Ann. Wav. and by the authors in Leland's Collectanea, vol. i. p. 241. 260. 304. and vol. iii. p. 399. Rudborne says, Edwyi, sive Edwini, p. 217. The unpublished MSS. in the Cotton Library, that I have seen, which name him