history of england_david hume

The king who had not sufficient vigour directly to

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Unformatted text preview: educing Edward to still greater subjection.NOTE [E] He was succeeded in the government of Wessex, Sussex, Kent, and Essex, and in the office of steward of the household, a place of great power, by his son, Harold, who was actuated by an ambition equal to that of his father, and was superior to him in address, in insinuation, and in virtue. By a modest and gentle demeanor, he acquired the good-will of Edward; at least, softened that hatred which the prince had so long borne his family;l and gaining every day new partizans by his bounty and affability, he proceeded, in a more silent, and therefore a more dangerous manner, to the encrease of his authority. The king, who had not sufficient vigour directly to oppose his progress, knew of no other expedient than that hazardous one, of raising him a rival in the family of Leofric, duke of Mercia, whose son, Algar, was invested with the government of East-Anglia, which, before the banishment of Harold, had belonged to the latter nobleman. But this policy, of balancing opposite parties, required a more steady hand to manage it than that of Edward, and naturally produced faction, and even civil broils, among nobles of such mighty and independant authority. Algar was soon after expelled his government by the intrigues and power of Harold; but being protected by Griffith, prince of Wales, who had married his daughter, as well as by the power of his father, Leofric, he obliged Harold to submit to an accommodation, and was reinstated in the government of East-Anglia. This peace was not of long duration: Harold, taking advantage of Leofric’s death, which happened soon after, expelled Algar anew, and banished him the kingdom: And though that nobleman made a fresh irruption into East-Anglia with an army of Norwegians, and over-ran the country, his death soon freed Harold from the pretensions of so dangerous a rival. Edward, the eldest son of Algar, was indeed advanced to the government of Mercia; but the balance, which the king desired to establish between those potent families, was wholly lost, and the influence of Harold greatly preponderated. The death of Siward, duke of Northumberland, made the way 1055. still more open to the ambition of that nobleman. Siward, besides his other merits, had acquired honour to England, by his successful conduct in the only foreign enterprize undertaken during the reign of Edward. Duncan, king of Scotland, was a prince of a gentle disposition, but possessed not the genius requisite for governing a country so turbulent, and so much infested by the intrigues and animosities of the great. Macbeth, a powerful nobleman, and nearly allied to the crown, not content with curbing the king’s authority, carried still farther his pestilent ambition: He put his sovereign to death; chaced Malcolm Kenmore, his son and heir, into England; and usurped the crown. Siward, whose daughter was married to Duncan, embraced, by Edward’s orders, the protection of this distressed family: He marched an army into Scotland; and having defeated and kille...
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