history of england_david hume

Sweyn though less scrupulous than olave was

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Unformatted text preview: he sum of sixteen thousand pounds was paid to them. Olave even made a journey to Andover, where Ethelred resided; and he received the rite of confirmation from the English bishops, as well as many rich presents from the king. He here promised, that he would never more infest the English territories; and he faithfully fulfilled the engagement. This prince receives the appellation of St. Olave from the church of Rome; and notwithstanding the general presumption, which lies, either against the understanding or morals of every one, who in those ignorant ages was dignified with that title, he seems to have been a man of merit and of virtue. Sweyn, though less scrupulous than Olave, was constrained, upon the departure of the Norwegian prince, to evacuate also the kingdom with all his followers. This composition brought only a short interval to the miseries of 997. the English. The Danish pirates appeared soon after in the Severne; and having committed spoil in Wales, as well as in Cornwall and Devonshire, they sailed round to the south-coast, and entering the Tamar, completed the devastation of these two counties. They then returned to the Bristol-channel; and penetrating into the country by the Avon, spread themselves over all that neighbourhood, and carried fire and sword even into Dorsetshire. They next changed the seat of war; and after ravaging the Isle of Wight, they entered the Thames 998. and Medway, and laid siege to Rochester, where they defeated the Kentish-men in a pitched battle. After this victory the whole province of Kent was made a scene of slaughter, fire, and devastation. The extremity of these miseries forced the English into counsels for common defence both by sea and land; but the weakness of the king, the divisions among the nobility, the treachery of some, the cowardice of others, the want of concert in all, frustrated every endeavour: Their fleets and armies either came too late to attack the enemy, or were repulsed with dishonour; and the people were thus equally ruined by resistance or by submission. The English, therefore, destitute both of prudence and unanimity in council, of courage and conduct in the field, had recourse to the same weak expedient, which by experience they had already found so ineffectual: They offered the Danes to buy peace by paying them a large sum of money. These ravagers rose continually in their demands; and now required the payment of 24,000 pounds, to which the English were so mean and imprudent as to submit.b The departure of the Danes procured them another short interval of repose, which they enjoyed as if it were to be perpetual, without making any effectual preparations for a more vigorous resistance upon the next return of the enemy. Besides receiving this sum, the Danes were engaged by another motive to depart a kingdom, which appeared so little in a situation to resist their efforts: They were invited over by their countrymen in Normandy, who at this time were hard pressed by the arms of Robert, king of France, and who found it...
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