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Unformatted text preview: d as a bishop arrived that evening with a reinforcement of troops, (for the ecclesiastics were then no less warlike than the civil magistrates) he occupied with his train that very place which PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 74 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 had been left vacant by the king’s removal. The precaution of Athelstan was found prudent: For no sooner had darkness fallen, than Anlaf broke into the camp, and hastening directly to the place where he had left the king’s tent, put the bishop to death, before he had time to prepare for his defence.y There fell several Danish and Welsh princes in the action of Brunsbury;z and Constantine and Anlaf made their escape with difficulty, leaving the greater part of their army on the field of battle. After this success, Athelstan enjoyed his crown in tranquility; and he is regarded as one of the ablest and most active of those ancient princes. He passed a remarkable law, which was calculated for the encouragement of commerce, and which it required some liberality of mind, in that age, to have devised: That a merchant, who made three long sea-voyages on his own account, should be admitted to the rank of a thane or gentleman. This prince died at Glocester in the year 941,a after a reign of sixteen years; and was succeeded by Edmund, his legitimate brother. EDMUND
Edmund, on his accession, met with disturbance from the restless 941. Northumbrians, who lay in wait for every opportunity of breaking into rebellion. But marching suddenly with his forces into their country, he so overawed the rebels, that they endeavoured to appease him by the most humble submissions.b In order to give him the surer pledge of their obedience, they offered to embrace Christianity; a religion which the English Danes had frequently professed, when reduced to difficulties, but which, for that very reason, they regarded as a badge of servitude, and shook off as soon as a favourable opportunity offered. Edmund, trusting little to their sincerity in this forced submission, used the precaution of removing the Five-burgers from the towns of Mercia, in which they had been allowed to settle; because it was always found, that they took advantage of every commotion, and introduced the rebellious or foreign Danes into the heart of the kingdom. He also conquered Cumberland from the Britons; and conferred that territory on Malcolm king of Scotland, on condition that he should do him homage for it, and protect the north from all future incursions of the Danes. Edmund was young when he came to the crown, yet was his reign short, as his death was violent. One day, as he was solemnizing a festival in the county of Glocester, he remarked, that Leolf, a notorious robber, whom he had sentenced to banishment, had yet the boldness to enter the hall where he himself dined, and to sit at table with his attendants. Enraged at this insolence, he ordered him to leave the room; but on his refusing to obey, the king, whose temper, naturally choleric, was...
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