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was an horrible idea, which exhibits human nature in one of its most degrading, yet most dreadful, possibilities, both of conception and execution. Yet while our indignation rises against Ethelred and his counsellors for the atrocity, we may reflect that the day of St. Bartholomew, in the seventeenth century, shows that a period, a court, and a nation far more enlightened and polished, could imitate the barbarity. Such repetitions are no extenuations of a crime that no circumstance can make otherwise than detestable and demon-like; but they rescue our ancestors from the stigma of being peculiarly ferocious.

The tyrannical command was obeyed. All the Danes dispersed through England, with their wives, families, and even youngest babes, were mercilessly butchered (1). So dreadful was the excited spirit, that Gunhilda, the sister of Svein, who had married an English earl, had received Christianity, and had voluntarily made herself the pledge of Danish peace, was ordered to be beheaded by the infamous Edric. Her husband and boy were first slain in he presence. She foretold the vengeance which would pour upon the English nation, and she joined her lifeless friends (2).

Great villany has been supposed to proceed from great mental energy perverted. But Ethelred evinced an absolute incapability of the most common associations of human reasoning. That Svein would return in vengeance was a natural expectation;

and yet the person appointed to rescue England from his fury was Alfric, whom the king had banished for his misconduct, who had proved his gratitude for his pardon by an enormous treachery; whose son the king had in return deprived of eye-sight; and who now by some new intrigue was restored to favour.

Svein did not long delay the provoked invasion;

he landed at Exeter, and by the treachery of the Norman governor, whom the king had set over it, he obtained and dis


had been reported to him that they had a design to murder him first, and then all his witan, and thereupon to possess his kingdom without opposition, an. 1002. See Miss Gurney's translation of it, p. 158.

(1) Matt. West. 391.; Sax. Chron. 133; Flor. 370.; Sim. Dun. 165.; Hoveden, 429.; Rad. Dic. 461.; Malmsb. 64.; Hunt 360.; Bromton, 885.; Knyghton, 2315.; Walsingham Ypod. 18.; unite in stating that all the Danes in England were killed. That only the Danish soldiers in English pay were killed, appears to me to have no foundation. Gunhilda and her family were not Danish mercenaries, nor were the women and children of whom Wallingford speaks, whose loose authority has been put against all the rest. We find that Edgar admitted many Danes into England; many more must have settled out of the different invaders in Ethelred's reign. To what Danish families the cruel order extended, cannot now be ascertained. I cannot think that it could possibly include those whose ancestors came into Eng'land in Alfred's youth, and who settled in East Anglia and Northumbria, because the four or five generations which had elapsed must have made them Englishmen. How many perished cannot be explored. The crime of the schemers depends not upon the number of the victims.

(2) Matt. West. 391. Malmsb. 69.


mantled it (1). He proceeded through the country to Wilts, avenging his murdered countrymen. The Anglo-Saxons, under Alfric, met him. The instant that the battle was about to join, Alfric affected a sudden illness and declined the contest. Svein, availing himself of their divisions, led his army through Salisbury to the seacoast laden with plunder. In the next year, Svein came with his fleet to Nor1001. wich, and burnt it. Ulfketul, the commander of East Anglia, proposed to buy a peace; yet finding the enemy advancing and plundering, he made one exertion against them (2), but they regained their ships. A famine now afflicted England, and the Danes returned to the Baltic (3).

Ethelred had, in 1002, married Emma, the daughter of Richard I., the third duke of Normandy (4). The king's infidelity and neglect was resented by his high-spirited queen (5). The insult was personal, and her anger was natural; but that her father should avenge it by seizing all the English who happened to pass into his dominions, by killing some and imprisoning the rest (6), was an act of barbarity which announces the contempt into which England had sunk.

Never was such a nation plunged into calamity so unnecessarily. The means were abundant of exterminating Svein, and such invaders, if a government had but existed, with whom its people would have co-operated. The report of Turketul to Svein gives us an impressive picture of the English condition: "A country illustrious and powerful; a king asleep, solicitous only about women and wine, and trembling at war; hated by his people, and derided by strangers. Generals envious of each other; and weak governors, ready to fly at the first shout of battle (7).

Ethelred was liberal to poets who amused him. Gunnlaugr, the Scalld, sailed to London and presented himself to the king with an heroic poem (8), which he had composed on the royal virtues. He sang it, and received in return a purple tunic, lined with the richest furs, and adorned with fringe; and was appointed to a station in the palace (9). By a verse which re

(1) Flor. 371.

(2) Flor. 372.

(3) Flor. 372. Sax. Chron. 134. The famine is a strong evidence of the extent of Svein's vindictive ravages.

(4) Sax. Chron. 132. He had married an Earl's daughter before, who brought him Edmund. Ethel. Abb. 362.

(5) Malmsb. 64.

(6) Matt. West. 382. Walsingham narrates that Ethelred attempted an invasion of Normandy, which ended very unfortunately. Ypodigma Neustriæ, p. 16. (7) Malmsb. 69. (8) Gunnlaugi Saga, c. vii. p. 87. (9) Gunn. Saga, p. 89. When he left Ethelred in the following spring, the king gave him a gold ring which weighed seven ounces, and desired him to return in autumn, p. 99. The Scald was lucky. He went to Ireland and sang. The king there wished to give him two ships, but was told by his treasurer that poets had always clothes, or swords, or gold rings. Gunnlaugr accordingly received fine garments and a gold ring, p. 103. In the Orkneys a poem procured him a silver

mains of it, we may see that adulation is not merely an indigenous plant of eastern climates, or of polished times, but that it flourishes hardily, even amid Polar snows, and in an age of pirates.

The soldiers of the king, and his subjects,

The powerful army of England,

Obey Ethelred,

As if he was an angel of the beneficent Deily (1).

The history of successful devastation and pusillanimous defence, is too uniform and disgusting to be detailed. In 1006, the Danes obtained 36,000l. (2). In 1008, the feeble king oppressed his subjects with a new exaction. Every 310 hides of land were assessed to build and present one vessel, and every eight hides were to furnish an helmet and breast-plate (3). The hides of England, according to the best enumeration of them which exists (4), were 243,600. If we take this as the criterion, the taxation produced an additional force of 785 ships, and armour for 30,450 men.

Ethelred had now selected a new favourite in Edric; a man of low birth, but eloquent, plausible, and crafty. He is noted for excelling all men in perfidy and cruelty. He was made Duke of Mercia in 1007 (5).

The fleet, the product of the new assessment, assembled at Sandwich. Brihtric, the brother of Edric, and as ambitious and deceitful, accused Wulfnoth, the father of earl Godwin. Wulfnoth fled, and carried twenty ships with him, and commenced pirate. Brihtric pursued with eighty ships, but a tempest wrecked, and Wulfnoth burnt them. These events destroyed the confidence and the courage of the rest of the fleet. It dispersed and retired (6). The annalists add, that thus perished all the hopes of England.

In 1010, the triumph of the Danes was completed in the surrender of sixteen counties of England, and the payment of 48,000l. (7).

axe, p. 103. In Gothland he got an asylum of festivity for the winter, p. 105. At Upsal he met another poet, Rafn, and, what was worse, when both had sung, the king asked each for his opinion on the other's composition. The catastrophe need hardly be mentioned. Rafn told Gunnlaugr, that there was an end of their friendship, p. 115.

(1) Gunnl. 89.

(2) The printed Sax. Chron. p. 136. says 30,000l. The MS. Chron. Tib. B. 1. and B. 4. have 36,000l. Flor. 373.; Mailros, 154.; Hoveden, 430.; Peterb. 34.; Al. Bev. 114.; Sim. Dun. 166.; and Rad. Dic. 462. also give 36,0007.

(3) Sax. Chron. 136.

(4) The very ancient catalogue which Spelman copied into his Glossary, 353., and Camden into his Britannia, presents to us a detailed account of the hides in England. Gale has published one almost similar, but not quite. Rer. Ang. vol. iii. p. 748.

(5) Flor. Wig. 373.

(6) Flor. Wig. 374. Sax. Chron. 137, 138. In mentioning Wulfnoth, the printed Saxon Chronicle adds, that he was the father of earl Godwin, p. 137. The MS. Chron. Tib. B. 1. has not these words, nor the Tib. B. 4., nor the Laud MS. which Gibson quotes. As he marks only the Laud MS. to be without, I presume that his other MSS. had them.

(7) Flor. 375-378. Sax. Chron. 139-142. For a particular description of this

Thus they divided the country with Ethelred, as his father Edgar, the first patron of the civil dissensions, had shared it unjustly with the ill-used Edwin.

The next invasion of Svein was distinguished by 1013. the revolution of the government of the country. The people gradually seceded from Ethelred, and appointed the Dane their king. The earl of Northumbria, and all the people in his district, the five burghers, and all the army on the north of Watlingstreet, submitted to his sovereignty (1). He ordered them to supply provisions and horses, and committing their hostages and his ships to his son Canute, he commenced a visit of decisive conquest to the south. Oxford and Winchester accepted his dominion; but London resisted, because Ethelred was in it.

Svein marched to Bath, and the duke Ethelmere, and all the western thanes, yielded themselves to him. The citizens of London at last followed the example.

Terrified by the universal disaffection, Ethelred Ethelred's flight. sent his children into Normandy (2), and privately withdrew to the Isle of Wight (3), where he passed his Christmas; after which, on hearing of their good reception by his queen's brother, Richard, he departed also himself, and was kindly received (4).

Svein's death. The new sovereignty of Svein was severe in its 1016. pecuniary exactions (5), but it was short. He died, the year after his elevation, at Gainsborough (6).

This event produced a new change in the Anglo-Saxon politics. The Danish soldiers in England, the Thinga-man

dismal period, see Osberne's Life of S. Elphegus, who was taken into Canterbury and killed, because 3000l. were not paid for his ransom. They hurled hones and skulls of cattle upon him, till one struck him on the head with an iron axe. Gurney, Sax. Chron. 170. Was he one of the counsellors of Ethelred who were obnoxious to the Danish partisans ?

(1) Sax. Chron. 143.


(2) Sax. Chron. 143, 144. Flor. Wig. 379, 380. Malmsb. 69. This author remarks, that the Londoners did not abandon the king till he fled himself. He says of them in high panegyric : Laudandi prorsus viri et quos Mars ipse collata non sperneret hasta si ducem habuissent." (3) Cumque clandestinis itineribus. Malmsb. p. 69. (4) Malmsb. 70. Flor. 380.

(5) Hermannus, who wrote in 1070, thus describes his pecuniary exactions : "Sucyn insuper lugubre malum scilicet ubique ponit tributum quod infortunium hodieque luit Anglia, multum felix, dives ac dulcis nimium si non forent tributa." MS. Tib. B. 2. p. 25. In 1821 Dr. Henderson found that near the banks of the Ladoga, in Russia, a number of coins had been dug up, bearing inscriptions of Cuthic characters, and also one with the Latin inscription, "Ethelred, Rex Anglorum." He justly thinks this to have been part of the Danengeld levied by the Danes in England. Bibl. Researches. Many adventurers from the Baltic, besides Danes, fought under Svein.

(6) The annalists are fond of stating, that he was killed by St. Edmond: Snorre adds a curious comparison. "Just," says he, " as Julian the Apostate was killed by Saint Mercury." Saga Olafi Helga, c. ix. p. 10.

na (1), appointed Canute, the son of Svein, for their king (2); but the English chieftains sent to Ethelred to offer him the crown again, on condition that he should govern rightly, and be less tyrannical (3).

Ethelred sent his son Edward to make the required promises of good government (4). Pledges were exchanged for the faithful performance of the contract; every Danish king was declared a perpetual outlaw (5), and in Lent the king returned.

Canute had now to maintain his father's honours by his sword. Confronted by a powerful force of the English, he sailed from East Anglia to Sandwich, and landed the hostages which his father had received for the obedience of the English. But in revenge for the opposition of the nation, he brutally maimed them of their hands and noses (6). They were children of the first nobility (7). Canute then retired to Denmark to watch his interests there, and to provide the means for stronger exertions to gain the crown of England (8).

To make head against Canute, Ethelred dispersed, around the neighbouring countries, high promises of reward to every warrior who would join the English standard (9) : a great number came to him. Among these was Olave the son of Harald Grænski, a Norwegian sea-king, who, in 1007, at twelve years of age, had begun his maritime profession under a military tutor (10). He after wards obtained the crown of Norway, and the reputation of a saint. He arrived in England in the year of Svein's death (11).

Canute called to his aid Eric the Jarl, one of the rulers of Nor

(1) The body of troops who, during Svein's prosperity, and the reigns of his posterity, became stationary in England, are called Thinga-manna by Snorre, tom. ii. p. 15. The Olaf Tryggvason's Saga, p. 100.; and the Knytlinga Saga (Celto Scand. p. 103.) say, they received appointed stipends. Their commander, Heming, kept the conquered country in subjection to Canute. Two of their orders were, not to disperse rumours, and not to go beyond their city of a night. Trygg. Saga, p. 100. Celto Sc.

(2) The Sagas state Canute to have been but ten years of age at Svein's death. But this is a mistake.

(3) Flor. Wig. 381. "They assured him, that no one was dearer to them than their natural lord, if he would govern them more righteously than he did before." Gur. Sax. Chron. 173. About this time occurred the war against Brian, king of Connaught. See the Niala Saga in Celto Scand. 107–116. and 120-129. I mention it, because to this battle belong the poetical vision of the Northern destinies, and the Scaldic Ode, which Gray has so vigorously translated in his Fatal Sisters.

(4) Flor. 381. He said, "that he would amend all that had been complained of, if they would return to him with one consent and without guile." Sax. Chron. G. 173.

(6) Flor. 382.

(7) Malmsb. 71.

(5) Sax. Chron. 145. (8) Encomium Emmæ, written by a contemporary, 167. Svein's body was carried to Roschild, and buried. The autumn closed with an inundation of the sea, which laid the towns and country, for many miles, under water, and destroyed the inhabitants. Flor. 382. Malmsb. 71.

(9) Snorre Olafi Helga, c. vi. p. 6. (10) Snorre, p. 3.

(11) Snorre, p. 9. Knytlinga Saga, p. 103.

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