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in Denmark and Norway scarcely allowed the inhabitants to send any availing support to their friends in Northumberland, or to the other Danes on the coasts of England. Towards the middle of the tenth century, therefore, the hitherto almost independent Danish provinces in England were compelled to submit to the Anglo-Saxon kings, whose sovereignty, however, was but of short duration; for after the year 980 Danish and Norwegian Vikings again swarmed throughout England. Nor was it now, as formerly, merely the petty kings, who, with a comparatively inferior force, conducted these warlike expeditions. By degrees the Danish and Norwegian kings' sons, and even the kings themselves, endeavoured, with large fleets and well-appointed armies, to wrest the sceptre from the hands of the feeble Anglo-Saxon monarchs. It was in vain that the latter strove against them. They laid a tax on the whole land, called Danegelt, in order to defray the great expenses which the defence of the country against the Danes occasioned. But the money thus raised it was often necessary to expend in buying off the Danes, or in supporting their victorious hosts whilst they wintered in the country. The Anglo-Saxon king, Ethelred, after seeing his kingdom harried and fearfully devastated by the Danish king, Svend Tveskjæg, in conjunction with Olaf Trygvesön, the son of the king of Norway, first succeeded in making peace with Olaf in 995, and with Svend in 1002, after paying immense sums as Danegelt, and agreeing to many humiliating conditions.
As a last resource against the daily-increasing number and power of the Danes, Ethelred determined secretly and cruelly to murder those who were settled in England. The massacre took place on St. Bridget's eve, the 13th of November, 1002. Old and young, women and children, were murdered with the most frightful tortures. Not even the churches could protect the Christian Danes against the fury of the Anglo-Saxons. The slaughter was, however, confined almost exclusively to the south of England ; since
towards the north, and particularly in Northumberland, the population was chiefly of Danish and Norwegian extraction.
No sooner did the news of Ethelred's perfidious and sanguinary act reach Denmark, than a strong fleet was fitted out, and in the following year (1003) the Danish flag waved on the coasts of England. After numerous sanguinary battles, the Anglo-Saxons were compelled to submit to Svend Tveskjæg and Canute. What could not be conquered by force of arms was obtained through prudence and cunning. The Danish conquest of England was completed, and for about one generation Danish kings wore the English crown.
LONDON, and its wealthy neighbourhood, was naturally the main object of the Danish attacks in the south-east part of England. Under the Romans it had already become considerable as a commercial mart; but afterwards, under the Anglo-Saxons, it increased so much in wealth and importance, that it was, if we may use the expression, the heart of England. It was for this reason that the old northern bards used the term “ Londons Drot" in their songs about the kings of England. From the first London is undoubtedly indebted for its greatness chiefly to its situation on the Thames, which opened an easy communication both with the opposite shores of the Continent and with the interior of England. In our days it is certainly a remarkable sight to observe the numberless ships that assemble there from all parts of the world, and to mark the activity that everywhere prevails on the beautiful shores of the river. But it becomes doubly remarkable when we recollect that this spectacle is neither a new one, nor has arisen under a single people ; but that it has been repeated, in a somewhat altered form, for about two thousand years, under the most different circumstances : namely, under the dominion of the Britons, the Romans, the AngloSaxons, the Danes, and the Normans. In this respect there is no river whatsoever that can be compared with the Thames. Had it not been one of the most, or indeed quite the most, favourably situated stream in Europe for commerce, the greatest commercial city in the world would hardly have risen on its banks.
But just as the Thames brought, in the olden times, numerous merchant vessels, and, along with them, wealth and prosperity to the south of England, so must it also have frequently drawn down ruin on the surrounding districts, since it attracted thither almost all the Vikings who sought for booty and conquest. Nature herself has cut a deep bay into the eastern coast of England, at the mouth of the Thames, and thus pointed out to the Vikings the way they should pursue. The ships of the Danish Vi. kings constantly swarmed at the mouth of the Thames. When they were not strong enough to sail up the river and attack London, or when the winter approached, they anchored under the coast, in places where they could lie in wait for and seize the merchantmen, and whence they could easily reach the open sea, if attacked by too superior a force. Some of their most important stations were under the Isle of Thanet, in Kent, and the Isle of Sheppey, (Anglo-Saxon, Sceapige, or the Sheep Island,) which lies at the mouth of the Thames. Thus these islands, whose remote situation rendered them sufficiently dangerous before, suffered doubly from the ravages committed by the Vikings on the coasts. Another place near the Thames, where the northern Vikings and conquerors generally landed when they harried the south of England, and where they often wintered, was the present Sandwich,
Kent. As it was an important landing-place even in
the times of the Romans, they had already fortified it. Sandwich (Ang.-Sax., Wic en Stad) became in the mouths of the Northmen“ Sandvic,” or the sandy bay; an appellation which perfectly agrees with the nature of the place. We find the same name for places in Orkney and the Shetland Isles, in Iceland, and Norway. From Sandwich it was but a few miles to Canterbury (in the northern tongue “ Kantaraborg"), which, being a rich bishopric, was on that account exposed to remorseless plunder. In the year 1011 especially, the Jarl Thorkel the Tall, visited it with fire and sword. Christchurch, the principal church in England, was burnt down; the monks were put to death, and only one in ten of the citizens spared. Many, and among them Archbishop Elfeg, who was afterwards cruelly murdered, were cast into prison.
To the south of Canterbury, on the channel, lies “Dungeness ;” and at the mouth of the Thames, “ Foulness,” and “ Sheerness." The termination ness, in these names, seems to be neither Saxon, nor Celtic, but plainly the Danish and Norwegian Næs (a promontory, or lofty tongue of land, running out into the sea).
The nearer we approach London by the Thames, the more memorials we find of the Danes. Just before we reach the metropolis, we sail past Greenwich on the left, called by the northmen “Grenvik” (nearer, perhaps, “ Granvigen,” the pine-bay), whose celebrated hospital contains in our days a little host of England's superannuated seamen, who have fought in defence of her honour, and who, supported by the public, enjoy an old age free from care. In the eleventh century Grenvik was also for a long time the resting-place of a host of naval warriors, who were supported at the public expense; but that was a host of bold Danish Vikings, who, after having fearfully devastated England under their chief, Jarl Thorkel the Tall, had now, in 1011, allowed themselves to be bought off for an immense sum of money, and to settle down peaceably in the service of the English
king Ethelred. From this time it became the custom for the English monarchs to have continually a standing army, composed mostly of Danes, “Huskarlene,” or “ Thingmen,” as they were called (hingmannalið), whose duty it was to keep the country quiet, and to defend it against foreign invasion ; whence they sometimes came to fight against their own countrymen. King Athelstan (925941) had, however, almost a century earlier, made use of Danish warriors to suppress revolt in his kingdom; for which purpose it was ordered that one of these men should be maintained in every house, in order that they might be always ready for the king's service. The Thingmen were to the English kings much what the Varangians were to the Greek emperors in Constantinople. They had certain rights and privileges, and later, in particular, two places were assigned to them for their head quarters-London in the south of England; and in the north, Slesvig
(Nottinghamshire). Under King Canute, they played, · as is well known, a considerable part.
The name of Canute the Great is connected not only with the town of Brentford (Brandfurda), on the Thames, near the western parts of London, and with Ashingdon (Assatun), in Essex, to the north-east of London, and, as the legend says, to the north of “Daneskoven” (the Danish forest), in which places he fought bloody battles with Edmund Ironsides, before he subdued England ; but it is also connected in the closest manner with London itself.
When I sailed up the Thames for the first time, and when at length, above a forest of masts, the gray turrets of the Tower appeared on one side, and London Bridge in the distance, I was involuntarily led to recall the time when King Canute long lay in vain with his ships before the fortress and bridge of the metropolis, whilst a great part of the rest of England submitted to his sway. London Bridge was defended by three castles, one of which stood on the bridge itself. The Danes attempted to dig