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Unformatted text preview: ter. But the face of affairs soon wore a melancholy aspect. Earl Godwin had been gained by the arts of Harold, who promised to espouse the daughter of that nobleman; and while the treaty was yet a secret, these two tyrants laid a plan for the destruction of the English princes. Alfred was invited to London by Harold with many professions of friendship; but when he had reached Guilford, he was set upon by Godwin’s vassals, about six hundred of his train were murdered in the most cruel manner, he himself was taken prisoner, his eyes were put out, and he was conducted to the monastery of Ely, where he died soon after.u Edward and Emma, apprized of the fate which was awaiting them, fled beyond sea, the former into Normandy, the latter into Flanders. While Harold, triumphing in his bloody policy, took possession, without resistance, of all the dominions assigned to his brother. This is the only memorable action, performed, during a reign of four years, by this prince, who gave so bad a specimen of his character, and whose bodily accomplishments alone are known to us, by his appellation of Harefoot, which he acquired from his agility in running and walking. He died on the l4th of April, 1039; little regretted or esteemed by his subjects; and left the succession open to his brother, Hardicanute. HARDICANUTE
Hardicanute, or Canute the Hardy, that is, the robust (for he too 1039. is chiefly known by his bodily accomplishments), though, by remaining so long in Denmark, he had been deprived of his share in the partition of the kingdom, had not abandoned his pretensions; and he had determined, before Harold’s death, to recover by arms, what he had lost, either by his own negligence, or by the necessity of his affairs. On pretence of paying a visit to the queen dowager in Flanders, he had assembled a fleet of sixty sail, and was preparing to make a descent on England, when intelligence of his brother’s death induced him to sail immediately to London, where he was received in triumph, and acknowledged king without opposition. The first act of Hardicanute’s government afforded his subjects a bad prognostic of his future conduct. He was so enraged at Harold, for depriving him of his share of the kingdom, and for the cruel treatment of his brother Alfred, that, in an impotent desire PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 100 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 of revenge against the dead, he ordered his body to be dug up, and to be thrown into the Thames: And when it was found by some fishermen, and buried in London, he ordered it again to be dug up, and to be thrown again into the river: But it was fished up a second time, and then interred with great secrecy. Godwin, equally servile and insolent, submitted to be his instrument in this unnatural and brutal action. That nobleman knew, that he was universally believed to have been an accomplice in the barbarity exercised on Alfred, and that he was on that account obnoxious to Hardicanute; and perhaps he hoped, by displaying this rage against Harold’s memory, to justify himself from having had any participation in his couns...
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- Spring '08