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without issue, none of that race presented himself, nor any whom the Danes could support as successor to the throne. Prince Edward was fortunately at court on his brother's demise; and though the descendants of Edmond Ironside were the true heirs of the Saxon family, yet their absence in so remote a country as Hungary, appeared a sufficient reason for their exclusion, to a people like the English, so little accustomed to observe a regular order in the succession of their monarchs. All delays might be dangerous; and the present occasion must hastily be embraced; while the Danes, without concert, without a leader, astonished at the present incident, and anxious only for their personal safety, durst not oppose the united voice of the nation.
But this concurrence of circumstances in favour of Edward might have failed of its effect, had his succession been opposed by Godwin, whose power, alliances, and abilities gave him a great influence at all times, especially amidst those sudden opportunities which always attend a revolution of government, and which, either seized or neglected, commonly prove decisive. There were opposite reasons, which divided men's hopes and fears with regard to Godwin's conduct. On the one hand, the credit of that nobleman lay chiefly in Wessex, which was almost entirely inhabited by English: it was therefore presumed that he would second the wishes of that people in restoring the Saxon line, and in humbling the Danes, from whom he, as well as they, had reason to dread, as they had already felt, the most grievous oppressions. On the other hand, there subsisted a declared animosity between Edward and Godwin, on account of Alfred's murder; of which the latter had publicly been accused by the prince, and which he might believe so deep an offence, as could never, on account of any subsequent merits, be sincerely pardoned. But their common friends here interposed; and representing the necessity of their good correspondence, obliged them to lay aside all jealousy and rancour, and concur in restoring liberty to their native country. Godwin only stipulated that Edward, as a pledge of his sincere reconciliation, should promise to marry his daughter
Editha; and having fortified himself by this alliance, he summoned a general council at Gillingham, and prepared every measure for securing the succession to Edward. The English were unanimous and zealous in their resolutions; the Danes were divided and dispirited: any small opposition, which appeared in this assembly, was browbeaten and suppressed; and Edward was crowned king, with every demonstration of duty and affection.
The triumph of the English upon this signal and decisive advantage, was at first attended with some insult and violence against the Danes; but the king, by the mildness of his character, soon reconciled the latter to his administration, and the distinction between the two nations gradually disappeared. The Danes were interspersed with the English in most of the provinces; they spoke nearly the same language; they differed little in their manners and laws; domestic dissensions in Denmark prevented, for some years, any powerful invasion from thence, which might awaken past animosities; and as the Norman conquest, which ensued soon after, reduced both nations to equal subjection, there is no farther mention in history of any difference between them. The joy, however, of their present deliverance made such impression on the minds of the English, that they instituted an annual festival for celebrating that great event; and it was observed in some counties, even to the time of Spelmana.
The popularity which Edward enjoyed on his accession was not destroyed by the first act of his administration, his resuming all the grants of his immediate predecessors; an attempt which is commonly attended with the most dangerous consequences. The poverty of the crown convinced the nation that this act of violence was become absolutely necessary; and as the loss fell chiefly on the Danes, who had obtained large grants from the late kings, their countrymen, on account of their services in subduing the kingdom, the English were rather pleased to see them reduced to their primitive poverty. The king's severity also towards his mother, the queen dowager, though exa Spelm. Glossary in verbo Hocday.
posed to some more censure, met not with very general disapprobation. He had hitherto lived on indifferent terms with that princess: he accused her of neglecting him and his brother during their adverse fortune': he remarked that, as the superior qualities of Canute, and his better treatment of her, had made her entirely indifferent to the memory of Ethelred, she also gave the preference to her children of the second bed, and always regarded Hardicanute as her favourite. The same reasons had probably made her unpopular in England; and though her benefactions to the monks obtained her the favour of that order, the nation was not, in general, displeased to see her stripped by Edward of immense treasures which she had amassed. He confined her, during the remainder of her life, in a monastery at Winchester; but carried his rigour against her no farther. The stories of his accusing her of a participation in her son Alfred's murder, and of a criminal correspondence with the bishop of Winchester, and also of her justifying herself by treading barefoot, without receiving any hurt, over nine burning ploughshares, were the inventions of the monkish historians, and were propagated and believed from the silly wonder of posterity.
The English flattered themselves that, by the accession of Edward, they were delivered for ever from the dominion of foreigners; but they soon found that this evil was not yet entirely removed. The king had been educated in Normandy, and had contracted many intimacies with the natives of that country, as well as an affection for their manners. The court of England was soon filled with Normans, who, being distinguished both by the favour of Edward, and by a degree of cultivation superior to that which was attained by the English in those ages, soon rendered their language, customs, and laws fashionable in the kingdom. The study of the French tongue became general among the people. The courtiers affected to imitate that nation in their dress, equipage, and entertainments: even the lawyers employed Anglia Sacra, vol. i. p. 237. c Higden, p. 277. d Ingulph. p. 62.
a foreign language in their deeds and papers: but above all, the church felt the influence and dominion of those strangers: Ulf and William, two Normans, who had formerly been the king's chaplains, were created bishops of Dorchester and London. Robert, a Norman also, was promoted to the see of Canterburyf, and always enjoyed the highest favour of his master, of which his abilities rendered him not unworthy. And though the king's prudence, or his want of authority, made him confer almost all the civil and military employments on the natives, the ecclesiastical preferments fell often to the share of the Normans; and as the latter possessed Edward's confidence, they had secretly a great influence on public affairs, and excited the jealousy of the English, particularly of earl Godwin .
This powerful nobleman, besides being duke or earl of Wessex, had the counties of Kent and Sussex annexed to his government. His eldest son, Sweyn, possessed the same authority in the counties of Oxford, Berks, Glocester, and Hereford: and Harold, his second son, was duke of East Anglia, and at the same time governor of Essex. The great authority of this family was supported by immense possessions and powerful alliances; and the abilities, as well as ambition, of Godwin himself, contributed to render it still more dangerous. A prince of greater capacity and vigour than Edward, would have found it difficult to support the dignity of the crown under such circumstances; and as the haughty temper of Godwin made him often forget the respect due to his prince, Edward's animosity against him was grounded on personal as well as political considerations, on recent as well as more ancient injuries. The king, in pursuance of his engagements, had indeed married Editha, the daughter of Godwin; but this alliance became a fresh source of enmity between them. Edward's hatred of the father was transferred to that princess; and Editha, though possessed of many amiable accomplishments, could never
f Chron. Sax. p. 161.
W. Malms. p. 80.
⚫ Ingulph. p. 62.
acquire the confidence and affection of her husband. It is even pretended, that, during the whole course of her life, he abstained from all commerce of love with her; and such was the absurd admiration paid to an inviolable chastity during those ages, that his conduct in this particular is highly celebrated by the monkish historians, and greatly contributed to his acquiring the title of saint and confessori.
The most popular pretence on which Godwin could ground his disaffection to the king and his administration,. was to complain of the influence of the Normans in the government; and a declared opposition had thence arisen between him and these favourites. It was not long before / this animosity broke out into action. Eustace, count of Bologne, having paid a visit to the king, passed by Dover in his return: one of his train, being refused entrance to a lodging, which had been assigned him, attempted to make his way by force, and in the contest he wounded the master of the house. The inhabitants revenged this insult by the death of the stranger; the count and his train took arms, and murdered the wounded townsman; a tumult ensued; near twenty persons were killed on each side; and Eustace, being overpowered by numbers, was obliged to save his life by flight from the fury of the populace. He hurried immediately to court, and complained of the usage he had met with: the king entered zealously into the quarrel, and was highly displeased that a stranger of such distinction, whom he had invited over to his court, should, without any just cause, as he believed, have felt so sensibly the insolence and animosity of his people. He gave orders to Godwin, in whose government Dover lay, to repair immediately to the place, and to punish the inhabitants for the crime: but Godwin, who desired rather to encourage than repress, the popular discontents against foreigners, refused obedience, and endeavoured to throw the whole blame of the riot on the count of Boulogne and his retinue". Ed
1 W. Malms. p. 80. Higden, p. 277. Abbas Rieval. p. 366. 377. M. West. p. 221. Chron. Thom. Wykes, p. 21. Anglia Sacra, vol. i. p. 241. * Chron. Sax. p. 163. W. Malms. p. 81.
Higden, p. 279.