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Alfred sends a fleet against them, which captures sixteen of their ships. Alfred's fleet is defeated on its return.
A.D. 886. "King Alfred repaired London, and all the English submitted to him, except those who were under the bondage of the Danishmen; and then he committed the town to the keeping of Ethelred, the ealdorman."
The Northmen besiege Paris.
England now seems to have had peace for a while, for the Saxon Chronicle for the next seven years only records offerings sent to Rome, which became so customary that it is thought worthy of special remark, that in 889 "there was no journey to Rome, except that King Alfred sent two couriers with letters."
A bishop's see1 re-founded at Dorchester, in Oxfordshire. A.D. 887. The Northmen pass the bridge at Paris,
and ravage the interior of France.
Alfred founds the monasteries of Shaftesbury and Athelney.
A.D. 888. Athelswith (Alfred's sister, and relict of Burgred of Mercia) dies on her way to Rome, and is buried at Pavia.
A.D. 890. Guthrum dies.
The Northmen in France defeated by the Bretons.
A.D. 891. The Northmen defeated in the east of France, near Louvaine, Sept. 1.
A.D. 893. The Northmen, having crossed France, embark at Boulogne, and land at Limenemouth (Lymne, in Kent). "They caine over, horses and all, at one
1 The bishop's see founded here ir. 635 by Birinus (see p. 63), was removed to Winchester in 676.
passage, with 250 ships." They fortify themselves at Appledorem.
Hasting enters the Thames, and builds a fort at Middleton (Milton, on the East Swale of the Medway). The Northumbrians and East Angles favour the invaders.
A.D. 894. Alfred places himself between the two armies of Northmen.
The Northmen leave their forts for the purpose of passing into Essex, but are defeated at Farnham; they reach the Colne, and are besieged there.
The Northumbrians and East Angles attack Devonshire.
The Northmen defeated at Bemfleet, their shipping destroyed, and the wife and sons of Hasting captured.
The Northmen re-assemble at Shoebury, are joined by the Northumbrians and East Angles, and pass up the Thames to the Severn. They are besieged at Buttington, in Shropshire, and obliged to surrender, "after having eaten a great part of their horses."
The fugitives reach Essex, and assemble another army. They commit "their wives, and their ships, and their wealth" to the East Angles, and cross England to Chester, where they are besieged.
m The nature of their ordinary fortifications appears from a cotemporary notice in the Annals of Fulda. "The Northmen, having made their fortification with hedges according to their custom, securely encamped;" whilst the annalist of Metz points out an improved mode of proceeding, "The Northmen protected themselves according to custom with wood and a heap of earth ;" and such we may conclude was their fashion fifty years later, from a passage in the Saxon Chronicle relating to the battle of Brunanburg— "The board-wall they clove, they hewcd the war-lindens."
A.D. 895 (circa). The Northmen establish themselves in the Orkneys and Hebrides.
The Northmen from Chester ravage North Wales, and then return to Northumbria and East Anglia.
Sussex ravaged by the Northumbrians and East Angles.
The Northmen reassemble in Mersey island, and thence proceed up the Thames and the Lea.
A.D. 896. The Northmen build a fort on the Lea, probably near Ware, which is unsuccessfully attacked by the Londoners.
Alfred encamps in the neighbourhood, and by cutting fresh channels leaves the ships aground.
The Northmen retire to Shropshire, and pass the winter there.
A.D. 897. The Northmen break up their army. Some went for East Anglia, some for Northumbria ; and they who were moneyless procured themselves ships there, and went southwards over sea to the Seine. Thanks be to God, the army had not utterly broken down the English nation; but during the three years it was much more broken down by the mortality among cattle, and among men, and most of all by this, that many of the most eminent king's thanes in the land died during the three years."
The south coast of England harassed by plundering parties. Alfred builds ships of a new model to contend with them.
Some of the pirate vessels are captured, and their crews put to death. Twenty more are wrecked on the south coast.
A.D. 900. Wales ravaged by the Northmen, and Mervin, prince of Powys, killed; his state is seized by Cadel of Dynevor.
A.D. 901. Alfred dies, Oct. 26", and is buried at Winchester. He is succeeded by Edward.
EDWARD I., CALLED THE ELDER.
EDWARD, the eldest surviving son of Alfred, was born about 870, and as early as 894 distinguished himself against the Northmen at Farnham.
His accession to the throne was unsuccessfully opposed by Ethelwald, his cousin, who obtained aid from the Anglo-Danes, and the greater part of his reign was passed in repelling the attacks of the insurgents and their allies from the North and from Ireland. Edward, however, several times defeated them, and by taking the precaution to erect forts as he proceeded, in which he was powerfully aided by his sister Ethelfleda, the "lady of the Mercians," he at length succeeded in putting down all opponents, and shortly before his death, in 925, he was acknowledged as "father and lord," not only by all the Danish chiefs in England, but also by the kings of the Scots and of the Strathclyde Britons.
Edward left a numerous family, of whom three (Athelstan, Edmund, and Edred) became kings of England; his other children were, - Edwin, who perished at sea; Ogina, married to Charles the Simple of France; Edith, to
"Six days before All-Hallow-mass;" Florence of Worcester says October 28, and wrongly ascribes the event to the year 899.
Otho the Great of Germany; Thyra, to Gormo III. of Denmark, and thus the ancestress of Canute; Edgiva, to Louis, king of Provence; and several daughters who embraced a religious life, or whose alliances have not been satisfactorily determined.
A.D. 901. Ethelwald the atheling P, attempts to make himself king in Wessex, but failing, joins the Northmen in Northumbria.
A.D. 902. Edward is crowned, May 16.
A great battle at the Holm, in Kent, between the Kentish men and the Northmen ; the latter defeated.
Elswitha, the widow of Alfred, dies".
A.D. 904. Ethelwald obtains possession of Essex. A.D. 905. Ethelwald and the Northmen ravage Mercia.
King Edward in return invades "all their land between the dikes and the Ouse, as far north as the fens."
The sepulchre of this princess, who died in 935, still exists, at Jellinge, in Jutland; it is a chamber formed of beams of oak, covered with woollen cloth, and inclosed in a vast tumulus. It has more than once been opened, and in it were found a round coffer, and the figure of a bird formed of thin plates of gold, as well as the cup here engraved; it is of silver, plated with gold, is of very small size, and is remarkable as an example of the state of the decorative arts in the tenth century. The son of Ethelbert, Alfred's predecessor. See p. 87.
This battle is ascribed to the year 904 by Florence of Wor
Her death is ascribed to the year 905 in some MSS of the Saxon Chronicle.