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princes by Athelstan, his predecessor', into an annual tribute of three hundred heads of wolves; which produced such diligence in hunting them, that the animal has been no more seen in this island.

Edgar died, after a reign of sixteen years, and in the thirty-third of his age. He was succeeded by Edward, whom he had by his first marriage with the daughter of earl Ordmer.


THE succession of this prince, who was only fifteen years of age at his father's death, did not take place without much difficulty and opposition. Elfrida, his stepmother, had a son, Ethelred, seven years old, whom she attempted to raise to the throne: she affirmed, that Edgar's marriage with the mother of Edward was exposed to insuperable objections; and as she had possessed great credit with her husband, she had found means to acquire partisans, who seconded all her pretensions. But the title of Edward was supported by many advantages. He was appointed successor by the will of his fathers: he was approaching to man's estate, and might soon be able to take into his own hands the reins of government: the principal nobility, dreading the imperious temper of Elfrida, were averse to her son's government, which must enlarge her authority, and probably put her in possession of the regency: above all, Dunstan, whose character of sanctity had given him the highest credit with the people, had espoused the cause of Edward, over whom he had already acquired a great ascendant'; and he was determined to execute the will of Edgar in his favour. To cut off all opposite pretensions, Dunstan resolutely anointed and crowned the young prince at Kingston; and the whole kingdom, without farther dispute, submitted to him ". It was of great importance to Dunstan and the monks,


6. Brompton, p. 838.
Eadmer, p. 3.
Osberne, p. 113.

r W. Malms. lib. ii. Eadmer, p. 3. Hoveden, p. 427.

s Hoveden, p. 427. " W. Malms. lib. ii. cap. 9.


to place on the throne a king favourable to their cause: the secular clergy had still partisans in England, who wished to support them in the possession of the convents, and of the ecclesiastical authority. On the first intelligence of Edgar's death, Alfere, duke of Mercia, expelled the new orders of monks from all the monasteries which lay within his jurisdiction*; but Elfwin, duke of East Anglia, and Brithnot, duke of the East Saxons, protected them within their territories, and insisted upon the execution of the late laws enacted in their favour. In order to settle this controversy, there were summoned several synods, which, according to the practice of those times, consisted partly of ecclesiastical members, partly of the lay nobility. The monks were able to prevail in these assemblies; though, as it appears, contrary to the secret wishes, if not the declared inclination, of the leading men in the nation. They had more invention in forging miracles to support their cause; or having been so fortunate as to obtain, by their pretended austerities, the character of piety, their miracles were more credited by the populace.

In one synod, Dunstan, finding the majority of votes against him, rose up, and informed the audience, that he had that instant received an immediate revelation in behalf of the monks: the assembly was so astonished at this intelligence, or probably so overawed by the populace, that they proceeded no farther in their deliberations. In another synod, a voice issued from the crucifix, and informed the members, that the establishment of the monks was founded on the will of heaven, and could not be opposed without impiety". But the miracle performed in the third synod was still more alarming: the floor of the hall in which the assembly met, sunk of a sudden, and a great number of the members were either bruised or killed by the fall. It was remarked, that Dunstan had that day prevented the king from attending the synod, and that

* Chron. Sax. p. 123. W. Malms. ton, p. 870. Flor. Wigorn. p. 607. Osberne, p. 112. Gervase, p. 1647.

lib. ii. cap. 9. Hoveden, p. 427. Brompy W. Malms. lib. ii. cap. 9. z Ibid. Brompton, p. 870. Higden, p. 269.

the beam, on which his own chair stood, was the only one that did not sink under the weight of the assemblya: but these circumstances, instead of begetting any suspicion of contrivance, were regarded as the surest proof of the immediate interposition of providence in behalf of those favourites of heaven.

Edward lived four years after his accession, and there passed nothing memorable during his reign. His death alone was memorable and tragical". This young prince was endowed with the most amiable innocence of manners; and as his own intentions were always pure, he was incapable of entertaining any suspicion against others. Though his stepmother had opposed his succession, and had raised a party in favour of her own son, he always showed her marks of regard, and even expressed on all occasions, the most tender affection towards his brother. He was hunting one day in Dorsetshire; and being led by the chase near Corfe castle, where Elfrida resided, he took the opportunity of paying her a visit, unattended by any of his retinue, and he thereby presented her with the opportunity which she had long wished for. After he had mounted his horse, he desired some liquor to be brought him: while he was holding the cup to his head, a servant of Elfrida approached him, and gave him a stab behind. The prince, finding himself wounded, put spurs to his horse; but becoming faint by loss of blood, he fell from the saddle, his foot stuck in the stirrup, and he was dragged along by his unruly horse, till he expired. Being tracked by the blood, his body was found, and was privately interred at Wereham by his servants.

The youth and innocence of this prince, with his tragical death, begat such compassion among the people, that they believed miracles to be wrought at his tomb; and they gave him the appellation of martyr, though his murder had no connexion with any religious principle or

a Chron. Sax. P. 124. Hunting. lib. v. p. 357. p. 607. Higden, p. 269. Sax.



W. Malms. lib. ii. cap. 9. Hoveden, p. 427. H. Gervase, p. 1647. Brompton, p. 870. Flor. Wigorn. Chron. Abb. St. Petri de Burgo, p. 29. b Chron.

opinion. Elfrida built monasteries, and performed many penances, in order to atone for her guilt; but could never, by all her hypocrisy or remorses, recover the good opinion of the public, though so easily deluded in those ignorant ages.

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HE freedom which England had so long enjoyed from the depredations of the Danes, seems to have proceeded, partly from the establishments which that piratical nation had obtained in the north of France, and which employed all their superfluous hands to people and maintain them; partly from the vigour and warlike spirit of a long race of English princes, who preserved the kingdom in a posture of defence by sea and land, and either prevented or repelled every attempt of the invaders. But a new generation of men being now sprung up in the northern regions, who could no longer disburthen themselves on Normandy, the English had reason to dread that the Danes would again visit an island to which they were invited, both by the memory of their past successes, and by the expectation of assistance from their countrymen, who, though long established in the kingdom, were not yet thoroughly incorporated with the natives, nor had entirely forgotten their inveterate habits of war and depredation. And as the reigning prince was a minor, and even when he attained to man's estate, never discovered either courage or capacity sufficient to govern his own subjects, much less



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