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and the intercourse between kinsmen in England and in their northern fatherland, now suddenly teemed with the numberless barks of the Vikings, which, from the close of the eighth century, constantly showed themselves in all the harbours and rivers of England. For about three centuries the Danes were the terror of the Anglo-Saxons. They generally anchored their ships at the mouths of rivers, or lay under the islands on the coasts. Thence they would sail up the rivers to the interior of the country, where they frequently mounted on horseback, and conveyed themselves with incredible speed from one place to another. Their frightful sabre-cuts resounded everywhere. Their progress was marked by the burning of churches and convents, castles, and towns; and great multitudes of people were either killed or dragged away into slavery. In a short time they began to take up their abode in the country for the winter, and in the spring they renewed their destructive incursions. The terrified inhabitants imagined they beheld a judgment of God in the devastations of the Vikings, which had been foretold in ancient prophecies.
Not even the remote and poorer districts of Wales were spared. It is true that it was extremely difficult for the Danes to force an entrance on the land side, and, in order to do so by sea, it was necessary to make a troublesome and dangerous voyage round the long-extended peninsula formed by the modern Cornwall and Devonshire. In general its rivers were not large or navigable, and the number of good harbours was but small. Nevertheless, the Northmen seem to have known Wales well, as the old land of the Britons; since it was always called "Bretland," to distinguish it from England. Palnatoke, the celebrated chief of the Jomsvikings, is said to have married there, during one of his warlike expeditions, Olof, a daughter of the Bretland jarl, Stefner, whose Jarledomme (earldom) Palnatoke afterwards possessed. The Sagas often make mention of Bjorn hin Bretske (Bear the Briton) as being among his men; and it is said that when he assisted at the funeral solemnities which his foster son, King Svend Tveskjseg*, held in honour of his father, King Harald Blaatand f, the half of his suite were Britons. Svend himself had ravaged Bretland; and it was there, as is well known, that the Icelander, Thorvald KodransOn, surnamed Vidforle (the far-travelled), delivered him by his noble disinterestedness from a perilous imprisonment.
The expeditions of the Danes to Bretland seem, however, to have been confined to the tracts bordering on the north bank of the Severn, and to the Isle of Anglesey; which latter was not unfrequently visited by the Norwegians in their piratical voyages to the Hebrides and Ireland. At least the Sagas mention it as " the southernmost region, of which former Norwegian kings had made themselves masters;" and it was probably here that Palnatoke had his kingdom. The very name of the island recalls a close connection with the inhabitants of the north. Anciently it was called "Maenige ;" but the Danes and Norwegians, with regard, clearly, to its situation by the land of the Angles (England), gave it the name of "Ongulsey," or Angelsoen, whence the present form Anglesey may, doubtless, be said to have been derived.
The connections of the Danish Vikings with Bretland were, however, far from being always unfriendly. For as the Britons in Wales and Cornwall constantly nourished a lively hatred against the Anglo-Saxons, on whose lands they continued to make war, the Danes often entered into an alliance with them against their common enemies. The Danish and British armies were either combined, or else the Britons attacked from the west and south, whilst the Danes invaded the eastern coasts. These deep and well-laid plans show that the views of the Danes were no longer confined to robbery and plunder, with a view to gain booty, or to overthrow the churches and convents which threatened their ancient gods with destruction, but that they now seriously thought of conquering for themselves
* Split-beard. f Blue-tooth.
new tracts of country; nay, if possible, of subjugating or expelling the Anglo-Saxons throughout England.
Already in the ninth century the Anglo-Saxons had receded considerably before the Danes, who had obtained possessions on the east coast, where they quickly spread themselves, and where fresh arriving Vikings always found reception and assistance. The Anglo-Saxon king, Alfred the Great, was driven from his throne, and wandered about a long time in the forests, whilst the Danes held the sovereignty in his dominions. He succeeded, indeed, at length in regaining the crown; but in the mean time the possessions of the Danes on the east coast had been extended, and their power continually increased by the arrival of fresh emigrants, who settled in different parts of the country, and married the native women. Alfred, it is true, built fleets for the protection of the coasts; but the militia-men instituted in his time, in order to repel the frequent attacks of the Danes, now went over to them, accounting them their kinsmen. In Northumberland especially, the Danes, and a considerable number of Norwegians, had settled themselves securely under their own chiefs. Here they had sought a refuge against the new order of things which was now about to make itself felt in the mother countries, Denmark and Norway,
Partly as a result of the expeditions of the Vikings, and the frequent contact into which they were thus brought with Christian States, Christianity began, towards A.d. 900, to spread itself in the countries of Scandinavia. About the same time occurred there, as in the rest of Europe, a union of many small kingdoms under a single sovereign; and the Scandinavian tribes were subjected to the kings of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Some powerful and malcontent ones had indeed migrated beyond the sea; but, nevertheless, there were materials enough left for dissension in the new kingdoms, before Christianity could be generally introduced, and the power of the kings firmly established. A time arrived when the internal struggles 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 Tveskjseg, in conjunction with Olaf Trygveson, the son of the king of Norway, first succeeded in making peace with Olaf in 995, and with Svend in ] 002, 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 Tveskjseg 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