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brother Edwin, by turning him adrift in a ship without sails or oars, because he suspected him of conspiring against his crown. The unhappy prince leapt overboard in despair, and thus perished. This king was

however the author of several wise laws, by which he allowed the rank of thane to any merchant who should have made three voyages on his own account, and also to any franklin or freeholder who (besides certain other qualifications) should have a church with a bell-tower on his estate. He was succeeded by his brother Edmund I. (A.D. 940), a prince of remarkable promise, though forced by the Danes to agree to a partition of his kingdom with Anlaf their leader. He was slain in his own hall by a robber, named Leolf (A.D. 947), and his children being infants, the crown was bestowed on Edred, his brother. In those days it was so necessary that the sceptre should be in the hands of a prince of mature age and vigour, that though the principle of hereditary succession to the throne was owned, yet, when the heir was an infant, the nobles claimed the privilege of choosing some member of the family, more qualified to enter at once on the duties of the royal office. Edred was very victorious against the Danes, whose share in the kingdom he reduced to a province; but in his government he yielded too blindly to the monks, especially to Dunstan, then abbot of Glastonbury, who by reputed sanctity and false miracles obtained an immense influence throughout the kingdom. The long wars by which the country had been scourged were fatal to sound learning and religion, and the minds of men were thus prepared to receive many corrupt doctrines and superstitious practices. Worshipping of images was now gaining ground. Attempts had been already made to enforce celibacy on the clergy, that is, to deny their right to marry according to their discretion. Instead of adjudging questions by rational proof, men sought to determine them by the pagan custom of ordeals (the folly of which was declared even by the Church of Rome), in which the accuser and the accused were matched in single combat, or the accused was required to bear the touch of boiling water or red-hot iron.

Edred, who died A.D. 955, was succeeded by Edwy, the son of Edmund, who did all in his power to weaken the

influence of the monks. A pathetic tale has been told of the usage which Edwy and his queen Elgiva received at the hands of Dunstan, and Odo, archbishop of Canterbury. According to this account their marriage was opposed, and their union severed by those monks, on the ground of a relationship within the prohibited degrees. It is said that Elgiva was, by Odo's orders, branded in the face and conveyed to Ireland, and on returning some time afterwards to Edwy, was waylaid and miserably murdered, while Edgar, another son of Edmund, was induced to revolt against his brother, By another account, it is said that the kingdom was divided by the nobles between Edwy and Edgar at Edred's death. The whole history therefore is very doubtful. It is certain, indeed, that Dunstan was more ambitious of worldly power, and more unscrupulous in seeking it, than became his office; but he was the author of many useful practical laws, which the Church still acknowledges; and Archbishop Odo has left writings which betoken a very different temper from that which has been ascribed to him. The more probable account is, that Elgiva was killed in a revolt of the people against Edwy: who himself died after a reign of four years, on which the authority of Edgar was acknowledged throughout the kingdom.

This king has been called Edgar the Peaceable, from the peace which England enjoyed under his reign. His power was such, that his barge was rowed on the river Dee by the king of Man and several Welsh and Scottish chieftains, while he himself sat at the helm. Edgar, who made Dunstan archbishop of Canterbury, has been greatly extolled by this monk, to whom he lent his whole influence; but he seems to have been a prince of unscrupulous character. This appears from the adventure of Elfrida, the heiress of Devonshire, of whose beauty the king heard such reports as led him to send Ethelwald, his friend, to ascertain their truth. The faithless messenger wooed her on his own account. On his return, he declared that the report of her beauty was false, but that he was himself desirous of marry

ing so great an heiress. The king allowed this marriage,

but finding afterwards that he had been deceived by Ethelwald, is said to have caused his murder. However this may be, Edgar undoubtedly lost no time in marrying his widow, who became the mother of Ethelred II.

It was by Edgar's exertions that the wolves with which England was greatly infested were completely extirpated. He was succeeded, A.D. 975, by Edward, his son by a former wife, who is known as Edward the Martyr. Within three years from his accession, the youthful king was murdered by order of his stepmother Elfrida, at Corfe Castle, where that queen resided, and where Edward had stopped while hunting, to show respect to his father's widow. Elfrida was tempted to this crime by her desire to see the crown on the head of her own son, who now succeeded his murdered brother, A.D. 978.

His name was Ethelred, and he was called the Unready, from the feeble resistance which he made to the Danes, who were now again rising against their Saxon rulers. Ethelred was weak enough to purchase the departure of the hordes that were continually arriving; and finding that this expedient did but encourage their return, he resolved on a perfidious massacre of all the Danes in England, which was executed with circumstances of the most savage cruelty. The crime soon brought its punishment in the arrival of fresh swarms under Sweyne and Anlaf (kings of Denmark and Norway), resolved on avenging the slaughter of their countrymen by the ruin of England. Ethelred fled to Richard, the duke of Normandy, whose sister Emma he had married; and Sweyne was proclaimed king of England, A.D. 1013.

The death of Sweyne soon followed; and Ethelred returned to give fresh proof of his weakness in his feeble efforts against Canute, the son of Sweyne; but died shortly after his return, A.D. 1016. Canute then met with a more manly foe in Edmund (surnamed Ironside), the son of Ethelred, who struggled with great skill and courage to recover his inheritance, but was defeated with great loss at Essenden, in Herts, and afterwards basely murdered. This was A.D. 1016, and Canute then became master of the kingdom.

Such was the issue of those weak and perfidious measures by which Ethelred had endeavoured to maintain his power. The crimes also of Edgar and Elfrida were thus signally marked with the Divine displeasure: and we learn that neither nation nor family can eventually prosper, which builds its house on a foundation of wrong.

CHAPTER V.

FROM THE REIGN OF CANUTE TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST. From A.D. 1016 to A.D. 1066.

CANUTE, who was king of Denmark and Norway, as well as of England, acquired the affections of his Saxon subjects by the wisdom and equity of his government; but his character is stained by the cruelty with which he treated the two sons of Edmund Ironside, whom he sent out of the kingdom, with such instructions to the Dane who was entrusted with them, as were likely to ensure their death. They were, however, received by Solomon king of Hungary, where one of them, called from his misfortunes Edward the Outlaw, married the queen's sister, by whom he became the father of Edgar Atheling, and Margaret, afterwards queen of Scotland.

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There were two other princes, from whose claims Canute apprehended danger to his crown. These were Alfred and Edward, the sons of Ethelred the Unready, by Emma of Normandy his second queen. They resided in Normandy, at their uncle's court, and in order to guard himself from any attempts from that quarter, Canute prevailed on Emma to marry him, by settling the succession to the crown on such issue as they might have.

After thus establishing his power, Canute had a prosperous reign of nearly twenty years, and earned the title of "the Great," no less by the wisdom and justice of his government, than by his victories over his enemies. His laws are indeed almost the first that make mention of the pope, as having any recognized authority over the English clergy, but are in general marked by a spirit of mildness and piety, and by respect for the freedom and ancient customs of the Saxons. He is said to have shown his wisdom by the reply which he made to the flattery of his courtiers, who one day, when he was walking by the seashore, compared his power to God's. The tide was coming in, and Canute ordered a chair to be brought, on which he sat upon the beach, and commanded the waves to retire. When his chair was quite surrounded by the waters, he

FROM THE REIGN OF CANUTE TO THE CONQUEST. 19

rebuked his followers, desiring them to observe that no power can be likened to his, Who alone can say to the sea, "Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther."

Canute died A.D. 1036, leaving three sons, Sweyne, king of Norway; Hardicanute (his son by Emma), already settled on the throne of Denmark; and Harold, surnamed Harefoot, who succeeded to the English crown, notwithstanding the superior claims and efforts of his half-brother, Hardicanute. His reign of four years is disgraced by the murder of Alfred, his mother's son by Ethelred, who came to England with his brother Edward to visit that queen, now again a widow. By the help of Earl Godwin, a powerful nobleman, who gave much trouble in the following reigns, Alfred was arrested in the castle of Guildford, by virtue of Harold's order, and died from the cruel treatment he received. On the death of Harold, A.D. 1039, Hardicanute became king, and was chiefly remarkable for his brutal intemperance. He died after a reign of two years, A.D. 1041, and the line of Saxon monarchs was restored in the person of Edward the son of Ethelred, who had escaped from the treachery of Earl Godwin, and now secured the interest of that nobleman by marrying his daughter Egitha. This princess was a lady of much piety and learning. Ingulphus, a Saxon historian, who was a scholar in the monastery at Westminster, tells us that the queen used often to meet him and his schoolfellows in her walks. On these occasions she would try to pose the scholars with some grave or playful question of grammar or logic. She would then direct her maid to give the youths a piece or two of silver, and send them for some refreshment to the palace buttery.

Edward acquired the titles of Saint and Confessor by the zeal with which he lent himself to the designs of the monks. Having been educated in Normandy, he was too much biassed in favour of foreign churchmen, whom he placed in English sees. He also made several monasteries (in Sussex and elsewhere) subject to abbeys in Normandy. The reign of this king was chiefly disturbed by the ambition of Earl Godwin, whose son, Harold, who was connected with the line of the Danish kings, began to take steps for securing the succession to the crown, as he saw that Edward was childless, and Edgar Atheling, the rightful heir, a prince of feeble character.

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