history of england_david hume

Ethelwolf impelled by the urgency of the danger

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Unformatted text preview: ,r and put them to rout with great slaughter. King Athelstan attacked another at sea near Sandwich, sunk nine of their ships, and put the rest to flight.s A body of them however, ventured, for the first time, to take up winter-quarters in England; and receiving in the spring a strong reinforcement of their countrymen in 350 vessels, they advanced from the Isle of Thanet, where they had stationed themselves; burnt the cities of London and Canterbury; and having put to flight Brichtric, who now governed Mercia, under the title of King, they marched into the heart of Surrey, and laid every place waste around them. Ethelwolf, impelled by the urgency of the danger, marched against them, at the head of the West-Saxons; and carrying with him his second son, Ethelbald, gave them battle at Okely, and gained a bloody victory over them. This advantage procured but a short respite to the English. The Danes still maintained their settlement in the Isle of Thanet; and being attacked by Ealher and Huda, governors of Kent and Surrey, though defeated in the beginning of the action, they finally repulsed the assailants, and killed both the 853. governors. They removed thence to the Isle of Shepey; where they took up their winter-quarters, that they might farther extend their devastation and ravages. This unsettled state of England hindered not Ethelwolf from making a pilgrimage to Rome; whither he carried his fourth, and favourite son, Alfred, then only six years of age.t He passed there a twelvemonth in exercises of devotion; and failed not in that most essential part of devotion, liberality to the church of Rome. Besides giving presents to the more distinguished ecclesiastics; he made a perpetual grant of three hundred mancusesu a year to that see; one third to support the lamps of St. Peter’s, another those of St. Paul’s, a third to the pope himself.w In his return home, he married Judith, daughter of the emperor, Charles the Bald; but on his landing in England, he met with an opposition, which he little looked for. His eldest son, Athelstan, being dead; Ethelbald, his second, who had assumed the government, formed, in concert with many of the nobles, the project of excluding his PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 57 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 father from a throne, which his weakness and superstition seem to have rendered him so ill-qualified to fill. The people were divided between the two princes; and a bloody civil war, joined to all the other calamities under which the English laboured, appeared inevitable; when Ethelwolf had the facility to yield to the greater part of his son’s pretensions. He made with him a partition of the kingdom; and taking to himself the eastern part, which was always at that time esteemed the least considerable, as well as the most exposed,x he delivered over to Ethelbald the sovereignty of the western. Immediately after, he summoned the states of the whole kingdom, and with the same facility conferred a perpetual and important donation on the church. The ecclesi...
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