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Saron Chronicle

Asser

Ethelwerd 876 And that year In the same year, Halfdene, 2 And in the course of the Healfdene apportioned the king of those parts, divided

same year, lands of North-humbria : and out the whole country of

1 The tyrant they thenceforth continued Northumberland between Healfdene obtained the kingploughing and tilling them. himself and his men, and dom of the Northumbrians, settled there with his army.

all of whom he reduced to This year Rolla overran Nor- In the same year, Rollo, with

subjection.
mandy with his army, and his followers penetrated into
he reigned fifty years.

Normandy.
[This same Rollo, duke of the
Normans, whilst wintering
in Old Britain, or England,
at the head of his troops,
enjoyed one night a vision

revealing to him the future.
• The vision may be seen in the See more of this Rollo in the
Annals but is not worth copying.
Rollo's history is well known.

Annals. A. 877.

In the year 877, the pagans, Here the army came

to

on the approach of autumn, Exeter from Wareham. partly settled in Exeter, and

partly marched for plunder
into Mercia. The number
of that disorderly crew in-
creased every day, so that, if
thirty thousand of them were
slain in one battle, others
took their places to double

the number.
Then king Alfred command-
ed boats and galleys, i. e.
long ships, to be built
throughout the kingdom, in
order to offer battle by sea
to the enemy as they were
coming. On board of these
he placed seamen, and ap-

pointed them to watch the 2 And king Ælfred with his Meanwhile he went himself forces rode after the army

to Exeter, where the

pagans which was mounted, as far were wintering, and having as Exeter; and they were shut them up within the unable to overtake them walls, laid siege to the town. before they were within the He also gave order to his fortress, where they could sailors to prevent them from not be come at. obtaining any supplies by

sea; and his sailors were
encountered by a fleet of a

hundred and twenty ships 1 And the fleet sailed round full of armed soldiers, who Lastly their fleets put to sea westwards: and then a great

to help their

and spread their sails to the storm overtook them at sea,

countrymen.

wind : but a lamentable storm and there one hundred and

As soon as the king's men came on, and the greatest twenty ships were wrecked knew that they were filled part of them, namely a hunat Swanawic.

seas.

were

come

with pagan soldiers, they dred of their chief ships, were leaped to their arms, and sunk near the rock which is bravely attacked those bar

called Swanwich. baric tribes : but the pagans, who had now for almost a month been tossed and al

wrecked among the

most

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Asser

waves of the sea, fought
vainly against them; their
bands were discomfited in a
moment, and all were sunk
and drowned in the sea, at a

Ethelwerd 877

place called Suanewic. In the same year the army of pagans, leaving Wareham, partly on horseback and partly by water, arrived at Suanewic, where one hundred and twenty of their ships were lost; and king Alfred pursued their land-army as far as Exeter; there he made a covenant with them, and took hostages that they much confused and apparently in would depart.] ↑

The same year, in the month
of August, that army went
into Mercia, and gave part
of that country to one Ceol-
wulf, a weak-minded man,
and one of the king's minis-
ters; the other part they
divided among themslves.

All that is included in brackets from [THIS SAME ROLLO (p. 62) is not found in the earliest MS. of Asser. The narrative is here very

double.

The barbarians renew their fraud and offer peace : hostages were given, more than were demanded, to the effect that they would withdraw out of the territories of king Alfred; and they did so.

They devastata the kingdom of the Mercians and drive out all the free men.

They erect their huts in the town of Gloucester.

At the end of that year therefore,

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Here during midwinter, after
twelfth night, the army stole
away to Chippenham, and
overran the land of the West-
Saxons, and sat down there.

In the year of our Lord's in-
carnation 878, which was
the thirtieth of king Alfred's
life, the army above-men-
tioned left Exeter, and went
to Chippenham, a royal villa,

this foul mob broke the compact which they had before solemnly made with the Western Angles, and they take up their winter-quarters at Chippenham.

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That wicked army left Exeter.

On the approach of autumn, some Then the army went into of the pagans settled at Mercia, and kept part of Exeter, some went to Mercia that kingdom, giving the Part of which country they rest to Ceolwlf. gave to Ceoluulf, to whose charge they had committed it, as has been stated : part they divided among them

selves.

878.

In the 7th year of king Al-
fred, when now the Danes
were in possession of all the
kingdom on the northern
side of the Thames, and king
Haldene was reigning in
Northumberland, and the
brother of Haldene was in
East-Anglia, and the 3 kings
aforesaid were with their
king Ceolwlf in Mercia and
London and Essex, but to
king Alfred nothing was left
save the land beyond the
Thames; it seemed to the
Danes to be a disgrace to
them that even this should

remain to him.
The army above-men- The 3 kings therefore came
tioned left Exeter, and; went to Chippenham in Wessex
to Chippenham, a royal villa, with a wonderful multitude of

men who had lately come
from Denmark, and covering

the earth like locusts, since no Essays

9

And going to the royal vill of Chippenham, there

wintered.

a

ses of

moor's.

or

Saron Chronicle

Asser

Ethelwerd

878 situated in the west of Wiltshire, and on the eastern bank of the river, which is

called in British, the Avon. And many of the people they There they wintered, and The people were everywhere drove beyond sea, and of the drove many of the inhabitants unable to resist : some of remainder the greater part of that country beyond the them were driven by the imthey subdued and forced to sea by the force of their arms, pious wretches over the sea obey them, except king and by want of the neces

into Gaul.
Alfred.

saries of life. They reduced
almost entirely to subjection

all the people of that country. And he, with a small band, At the same time the above- King Ælfred was at this time with difficulty retreated to named king Alfred,

straitened more than was bethe woods and to the fastnes

with a few of

coming
his nobles, and certain soldiers
and vassals, used to lead an
unquiet life among the wood-
lands of the county of
Somerset, in great tribulation ;
for he had none of the
necessaries of life, except
what he could forage openly
or stealthily, by frequent
sallies, from the

pagans,
even from the Christians who
had submitted to the rule of
the pagans, and as we read
in the Life of St Neot, at the
house of one of his cowherds.
But it happened on a certain

day, that the countrywoman, wife of the cowherd, was preparing some loaves to bake, and the king, sitting at the hearth, made ready his bow and arrows and other warlike instruments. The unlucky woman espying the cakes burning at the fire, ran up to remove

them, and rebuking the brave king, exclaimed :Ca'sn thee mind the ke-aks, man, an' doossen zee 'em burn? I'm boun thee's eat 'em vast enough, az zoon az 'tiz the turn.

* This is in the Somerset dialect. The blundering woman little thought that it was king Alfred, who had fought so many battles against the pagans, and

gained so many victories over them. But the Almighty not only granted to the same glorious king victories over his enemies, but also permitted him to be harassed by them, to be sunk down by adversities, and depressed by the low estate of his followers, to the end that he might learn that there is one Lord of all things, to whom every knee doth bow, and in whose hand are the hearts of kings; who puts down the mighty from their seat and exalteth the humble; who suffers his servants when they are elevated at the summit of prosperity to be touched by the rod of adversity, that in their humility they may not despair of God's mercy, and in their prosperity they may not boast of their honours, but may also know, to whom they owe all the

things which they possess. We may believe that the calamity was brought upon the king aforesaid, because, in the beginning of his reign, when he was a youth, and influenced by youthfnl feelings, he would not listen to the petitions which his subjects made to him for help in their necessities, or for relief from those who oppressed them; but he repulsed them from him, and paid

no heed to their requests.

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