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these divided dominions, on the restoration of Alfred, are thus noticed by Mr. Turner, in the History of the Anglo-Saxons : “ Alfred having permitted Godrun to colonize East- Anglia, the limits of their respective territories were settled by a treaty wbich still exists. By the first article the boundary was placed. in the Thames, the river Lea to its source, and Watling Street to the Ouse. The spaces thus marked contained Norfolk; Suf. folk; Cambridgeshire; Essex; part of Hertfordshire; part of Bedfordshire; and a little of Huntingdonshire. These regions were subjected to Godrun, and were filled with Daves. Northumbria was afterwards put under Guthred, who governed Deira; and Egbert ruled in Bernicia.
“ The sovereignty of Mercia, on the defeat of the Danes, fell into the power of Alfred. He did not, however, avowedly incorporate it with Wessex. He discontinued its regal honors, and constituted Ethelred its military commander, to whoin he afterwards married his daughter, Ethelfleda, when her age permitted."*
Contrary to the expectation which might rationally be formed, on a calculation of events at this distant period, the Danes, thus allowed to settle in England, assumed, for an interval of some length, a pacific aspect, and cultivated in quiet the more useful of such arts as endear a stationary life. But the troubles of King Alfred's public career did not end with his restoration. Fresh invasions from the north speedily occurred; and the Danes of Northumbria and East-Anglia, although passive in the instauce of a first invitation from their marauding countrymen, united their efforts towards the utter subversion of the Anglo-Saxon government with those of the powerful Hastings. It will be recollected that Hastings was the most formidable and pernicious disturber of England in the latter years of King Alfred. The war. fare between this leader and the great king of the Anglo-Saxons, adds an historical interest to many spots in various parts of
Britain, now that time has softened down the horrors of blood. shed, and has caused feeling to give place to curiosity.
During the reign of Edward the Elder, which commenced in 901, and terminated in 924, the Anglicised Danes waged frequent wars with his power; but this able descendant of Alfred triumphed over their hostility. The lines of fortification by which he guarded the frontier of his dominions, has already been noticed.*
Athelstan ascended the throne in 924. The power of the Anglo-Danes had experienced a sensible diminution in the preceding reign; and a dreadful conflict, which took place in the time of this sovereign, accelerated their complete subjugation. The Northumbrians, however, revolted in the year 941, when Edmund the Elder occupied the Anglo-Saxon throne, and obtained a distinguished victory; but the death of Anlaf, their leader and inspiriting genius, which occurred at a period briefly subsequent, restored tranquillity, through the medium of their entire submission. Profiting by this fortuitous circumstance, Edmund terminated what has been justly styled “ the dangerous independence” of the towns of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Stamford, and Lincoln. These five settlements, situated on the northern frontiers of Mercia and East Anglia, had been long occupied by the Danes; but were now peopled with Saxons, through the policy of Edmund.
After a long cessation of hostilities between the rival nations, during which the Anglo-Danes appear to have mixed contentedly with their neighbours, in a progressive amalgamation of society, the Northmen again appeared on the British coast, as invaders intent on deliberate aggression, in the reign of Ethelred, surnamed the Unready, which commenced in the year 978. We now approach the period of the Danish ascendant in this island; and the steps of progression are marked, as is usual with these dark ages, by perfidy, profuse bloodshed, and every concomitant crime contained in the black catalogue of human error.
• Vide Ante, p. 216, note.
The forces with which the Danes commenced their hostile operations in this reign, were not sufficiently pumerous to have produced serious and lasting consequences, if they had been opposed by a ruler of military capacity, supported by faithful subjects. But Ethelred was dilatory to a proverb; and exposed his fatal want of ability to preside over a state, by almost invariably selecting commanders who traitorously abandoned his cause, and either connived at the approaches of the enemy, or joined the invading power. The Danes, therefore, ravaged with little opposition; and a temporary cessation of hostilities was repeatedly purchased by the worst of all possible means,- a bribe, in the shape of ransom, for the degraded people and property of an island so strong in uatural resources as Britain!
This country was free from the terror of a northern armament in the year 1002; and at this period an event took place which is so frequently mentioned in topographical writings, that it requires some notice in the present page. It will be readily supposed that I allude to the massacre of the Danes, which was effected by order of the Anglo-Saxon government, on the 13th of November in this year. Those ancient authors who forin the most acceptable authorities for the narration of this dreadful incident, vary in regard to several particulars, of considerable importance. From a comparison of their evidence it is found impracticable to ascertain the extent of the slaughter, or the precise classes involved in destruction. We can scarcely, however, believe that the families of those Danes who were permitted in preceding reigns to colonize various parts of Britain, were now sentenced to assassination; since they must have intermingled, in the course of many years, so closely with the Saxon setters, as nearly to form one people, in regard to the ties of blood and friendship.
Whatever might be the primary inteution, it is certain that the wives and children of many of the Danes perished in this
dreadful massacre; and among these were Gunhilda, the sister of Swein, or Svein, King of Denmark, and her family. The death of this lady, who had married an English earl, had received Christianity, and was the pledge of Danish peace, has naturally afforded a marked point of lamentation with every historian of the Anglo-Saxons; and such an event, as naturally, produced a dread. ful retaliation on the part of her relatives and countrymen.
Swein, the brother of the murdered lady, soon invaded Eng. land, and ravaged the unhappy country, with a spirit of vengeance quite commensurate with the cruel injury sustained by his family and friends. The local effects of his revenge are noticed in many parts of the Beauties of England; and I take pleasure in believing that a detail of devastations so afflictive is, therefore, unnecessary in the present portion of our work. In the event, the efforts of the Danes succeeded in subverting the Auglo-Saxon monarchy.-Sixteen counties of England were sur. rendered to their sway, in the year 1010; and, three years afterwards, the success of Swein, and the retirement of Ethelred into Normandy, enabled the former prince to ascend the throne.
His death, which occurred in the year following his elevation, led to a diversion in favour of Ethelred; but that imbecile king died in 1016, and left his son, the brave Edmund, to struggle with Canute, heir to the first Davish king of England.
The short reign of this gallant prince, Edmund, surnamed Ironside, was one calamitous scene of warfare between the contending parties; and on his decease, Canute obtained uncontested dominion over the country so long possessed by the AngloSaxons.
The jealous severity of this king in the early stages of his accession to power, and the sanguinary measures which he adopted for the security of his individual sway, are well known, and cause disgust to mix with the admiration enforced by some actions in more mature life, and during his former possession of the throne. The life of Canute, as connected with the history of the English monarchy, may, with justice, be divided into
two eras :that in which he was compelled by surrounding circumstances to deem himself merely the Danish conqueror of a rich country; and the subsequent more settled period, at which he recognised entirely his association with the people who yielded to his sway, and endeavoured to promote the prosperity of his subjects, from a feeling so much endeared by lengthened connexion that it partook of patriotic favour.
The errors of his first years of sovereignty may be safely ascribed to the barbarous character of his education; and, as they were chiefly personal, the topographer leaves them to the blended censure and pity of the philosophical historian. In succeeding years, and in the latter era of his sway, he became so completely the patron of those whom he governed, that the manners of the age were evidently influenced by his taste and opinions.—His piety, however fancifal, and distigured by the prevailing superstition, now becomes an object of careful enquiry with the examiner into ecclesiastical antiquities; and he is found to be eminent for a reverence of monastical and other religious establishments; thus affording a sudden and strange instance of improvement on the character of the Danes, who, in every age of history hitherto noticed, have appeared only as the destroyers of edifices venerable for beauty as well as sacred from appropriation.:
It is impossible to quit the name of Canute, in the present section, without observing that, from certain marked incidents, trivial in immediate operation, and of little account with the poli. tician, it has obtained more permanent glory than could be derived from the suocessful issue of many deep closet stratagems, or sanguinary battles.—The most conspicuous of these is the well attested fact of his unfolding to himself and his surrounding courtiers a lesson of temperance in prosperity, by placing himself in his chair of state on the sea coast,* when the waves were flowing
. In the neighbourhood of Southampton. See Beauties for Hampshire, p. 131--3,