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Chippenham. Within a fortnight they were compelled to accept the conditions offered by Alfred, namely, that they should evacuate Wessex, and that their king should submit to be baptized. Guthrun was christened, under the A. D. Saxon name of Athelstan, at the royal town of Wed878. S mor, Alfred being his sponsor. On his profession of Christianity, he received an accession of territory, the whole eastern country from the Thames to the Tweed being formally ceded to him under the name of Danelagh or Dane-law, by which it was known even to the time of the Norman conquest. Guthrun's subjects gradually acquired peaceful and industrious habits. Engagements were made by their rulers to promote Christianity and punish apostasy, and they were brought under laws for the protection of property and the enforcement of bargains.


The time, however, had not yet arrived when the kingdom was to enjoy the blessings of peace, or its sovereign that leisure he was so anxious to devote to the welfare and improvement of his people. Although Guthrun remained faithful to his engagements, new swarms of Danes, not bound by them, continued to infest the shores of England. Alfred's infant navy, however, proved very serviceable in repelling their incursions. He now rebuilt and fortified the city of London, and also employed himself in strengthening the other portions of his kingdom,—a salutary precaution, for the severest struggle was yet to come. 893, a fleet of 330 ships, under the command of Hasting, the most renowned of the Danish leaders, landed on the coast of Kent; and at the same time the people of the Danelagh, whose king, Guthrun, was dead, rose in insurrection and joined their marauding brethren. During three years almost every part of South Britain became in turn the scene of devastation and bloodshed; but the military genius of the British monarch ultimately prevailed, and the remainder of his reign was passed in comparative tranquillity.

5. At the period of Alfred's accession, the English people were sunk in the grossest ignorance. The monasteries, then the only seats of learning, had been destroyed by the Danes, the monks dispersed, and their libraries burnt; so that, in the preface to his translation of Pope Gregory's

tract on the Duties of Pastors, the king lamented that there was not one priest south of the Thames, and very few north of the Humber, who could interpret the Latin service. And although he supplied the means of instruction for his subjects, so little inclination was manifested to profit by them, that a law was enacted by which all freeholders, possessed of not less than two hides of land, were enjoined to send their children to school. Alfred is said to have founded the University of Oxford, and to have endowed it with many privileges. The nobility followed their sovereign's example, and he had reason erelong to congratulate himself on the improvement of the habits of his people. His own example was well worthy of imitation: he devoted one-third part of his time to the affairs of government, onethird part to study and devotion, and the remainder to sleep and recreation. On all sides a spirit of industry prevailed; cities, castles, and monasteries rose from their ruins, and the dwellings of the inhabitants assumed an air of comfort and convenience before unknown.

Alfred was a shining light in an age of darkness: he is equally celebrated for his conquests, his wisdom in legislation, and his exertions to promote the civilisation of his people. At his court were entertained some of the most learned men of his time: the Welshman Asser, who wrote his life, Grimbald of Rheims, and Joannes Scotus. He left many remarkable compositions in prose and verse; wrote a commentary on Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy; and translated into Anglo-Saxon the Fables of Æsop, Beda's Ecclesiastical History, and the History of Orosius, which he enriched with many valuable remarks. He founded schools, and invited the most eminent men of the day to superintend them. Commerce, manufactures, and agriculture were encouraged by peculiar privileges, and the highways were cleared of robbers. Hence England, emerging from barbarism, and enjoying the blessings of peace, conferred on him the justly merited title of THE GREAT.

Besides attending to internal improvements, this exemplary monarch cultivated an intercourse with different countries, and kept up a frequent communication with Rome, which he had twice visited in his youth. In this

he appears to have had in view the extension of commerce as well as the acquisition of knowledge. He sent the Bishop of Sherburn on a mission to the Syrian Christians settled on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel; and from this long and dangerous journey the clerical ambassador returned laden with gems and spices.

Like all great monarchs appearing in a dark age, every good thing in the old constitution of England is attributed to Alfred. He is said to have invented the system of trial by jury, and to have made a division of the whole country into hundreds and tithings. A hundred consisted of a hundred heads of families- -a tithing of ten, so that each hundred contained ten tithings. The advantage of this arrangement was, that within each of these little communities the whole were answerable for the conduct of one another. If a robbery was committed within a tithing, the several householders were liable to make it good; and thus all were observers of their neighbour's conduct, and interested in detecting him if he committed a crime. The origin of jury trial is probably connected with this system. A man who was accused got so many of his neighbours to answer for his innocence, and as they were responsible for the offence, if they acquitted him, it was considered clear that he must be innocent. It has been well observed, that such institutions are not made, they grow, and there is no doubt that though Alfred did not create them, his enlightened mind assisted them in their growth.


1. What was the title assumed by Egbert? What was the real extent of his power? By whom was England invaded in his time? Describe the people called Danes their race, the country whence they came, and their connexion with other nations. How were they first received?

2. Who succeeded to Egbert? What were the results of Ethelwulf's conflicts with the Danes? Mention some of the places pillaged by the Danes. Mention a custom showing how the Saxons felt the inroads of the Danes. Who assisted King Ethelred against the Danes ? Where were they conquered? What events followed the victory of Aston ?

3. What were the circumstances under which Alfred's reign began? How did he employ the interval of peace? What effect did he produce with his fleet? Detail the history of his disasters. Where and in what disguise did he seek refuge? What anecdote is usually told of him in his retreat?

4. What induced Alfred to return to public life? What favourable omen inspired him with confidence? How did he visit Guthrun's camp? Mention how he defeated the Danes? What arrangement did he make with the view of their becoming peaceful citizens? What interfered with the success of his plan? In what year did Hasting's fleet invade England?

5. What was the state of religion at Alfred's accession? What did he do for education? What eminent men did he entertain at his court? What literary works did he accomplish? Describe the arrangement of hundreds and tithings. What connexion is it supposed to have had with jury trial? What share is Alfred supposed to have had in the arrangement?



1. EDWARD succeeded to the throne on his father's death, but not without opposition, his right being disputed by Ethelwald, the son of Ethelbald, one of Alfred's brothers, who, finding himself the weaker competitor, fled into the Danelagh, where his title was acknowledged. Ethelwald's claims were not so ill founded as they would be considered in our own days; for, while the Anglo-Saxons limited the inheritance of the crown to one family, they had not adopted the strict modern rule of lineal succession, which in their days was scarcely known in any part of the world. The children of the last monarch were often overlooked: Alfred himself succeeded to the prejudice of the sons of his elder brother; and somewhat later the sons of Edmund I. gave place to their uncle Edred, and were in their turn preferred to his issue. It would seem that the public security in those times was incompatible with a royal minority.

The successors of Alfred continued to be subject to contentions with the Danes, and to many civil outbreaks. The country suffered little permanent change, however, excepting the attachment of the kingdom of Northumbria A. D. to Scotland. The most interesting events in the 955-957.} reigns of these monarchs occurred in that of Edwy.

EDWY the Fair was only fifteen years of age when he

ascended the throne. The chief troubles of his reign originated in his quarrels with the churchmen, of whom the celebrated Dunstan was the chief. This prelate, who was a man of noble birth and accomplished in the arts and learning of his time, was created Archbishop of Canterbury in 960, at the early age of thirty-two. While still abbot of Glastonbury, he was the prime agent in one of the most important events in Edwy's reign. The youthful monarch having married a lady of rank named Elgiva, who was related to him within the prohibited degrees of kindred, the nobles and clergy were invited to the coronation banquet, at which, according to the custom of the times, they sat long and drank deeply. Delighting more in the company of his lovely spouse than in that of the riotous revellers, Edwy left the hall before the feast was over, and withdrew with the queen and her mother to an inner apartment of the palace. On finding that he did not return, Dunstan rudely broke in upon their retirement, and after insulting the mother and her daughter, dragged the king from his wife's side, and forced him back to the banqueting hall. Such an outrage was more than even the thoughtless Edwy could endure. Dunstan was accused of peculation in his office of treasurer to the preceding sovereign, his property was confiscated, and he was driven into banishment. His disgrace, however, was of short duration, for Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, and Dunstan's political coadjutor, soon afterwards instigated a general rising of the people, the abbot returned from his exile, and Edgar, Edwy's brother, was proclaimed sovereign of all England north of the Thames. To fill up the measure of their vengeance, some of Odo's retainers seized Elgiva, branded her on the face with a red-hot iron, and caused her to be transported to Ireland. She soon, however, recovered from her cruel wounds, and returning to England more beautiful than before, was taken captive near Gloucester, where, after being barbarously mangled, she expired in great torture. Her afflicted and broken-hearted husband followed A. D. her to the grave in the succeeding year, and, accord958. ing to some accounts, the instrument of his death was the dagger of his enemies.

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