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Trysting of foe-men, clanging of weapons

How on the slaughter-place played they the war-game
With Eadward's brood.

In their nailed galleys the Northmen departed,
Remnant the darts left, red with their gore:

Over the lashing waves, over the waters deep,
Making for Dublin and Ireland again,

Humbled and shamed.

Together the brothers, the King and the Aetheling,
Fared to their country, the West Saxon land,
Exulting in war.

Left they behind them, to share the pale corpses,
Blackness of ravens, the bird of the horned beak,
To gorge on the carrion,

White-tailed eagles, splendidly plumed,
Ravening kites and grey wolves of the weald.

Mightier slaughter this isle saw never

Of folk laid low by the edge of the sword.
Since from the east came Angles and Saxons
Over the wide waves hither to shore;

Warrior-smiths proud, seeking the Britons' land,
Vanquished the Welshman, and greedy for glory
Won the wide realm.


[Old English Chronicle]

In 994 Ethelred "the Redeless" was king. Sweyn of Denmark was once more renewing the Danish attacks on England. After repeated invasions, Sweyn finally set about a conquest which ended by placing Canute on the throne of England. This section deals with earlier incidents in the struggle.

An. DCCCC.XCIV. In this year came Olaf (Anlaf) and Svein to London, on the nativity of St Mary (Sept. 8th), with ninety-four ships, and then they were obstinately fighting against the town, and would also have set it on fire. But they there sustained more harm and evil than they ever weened that any townsmen could do to them. For the Lady Mother of God, on that day, manifested her mercy to the townsmen, and delivered them from their foes. And they then went thence and wrought the greatest evil that ever any army could do, in burning, harrying, and in the manslayings, as well by the sea-coast, as in Essex, and in Kent, and in Sussex, and in Hampshire. And at last they took them horses, and rode as far as they would, and were doing unspeakable evil. Then the king and his witan resolved that they should be sent to, and promised tribute and food providing that they would cease from ravaging; and they then accepted that. And all the army then came to Southampton, and there took winter quarters; and there they were fed from all the realm of the West Saxons, and they were paid sixteen thousand pounds of money. Then the king

sent bishop Aelfheah and the ealdorman Aethelweard after king Olaf; and the while hostages were given to the ships; and they then led Olaf with great worship to the king at Andover. And king Aethelred received him at the bishop's hand, and royally gifted him. And Olaf then promised him, as he also fulfilled, that he would never again come with hostility to England.

An. M.I. In this year the army came to the mouth of the Exe, and then went up to the town, and were there stoutly fighting; but they were very firmly and boldly withstood. They then went over the land and did as was their wont, slew and burned. Then was collected an immense force of the Devonshire people, and of the Somersetshire people; and they then came together at Penhoe. And as soon as they came together the people gave ground; and they there made great slaughter, and then rode over the land: and ever was their last incursion worse than the preceding; and they then brought great booty with them to their ships. And thence they went to Wight, and there went about as they themselves would; and nothing withstood them; nor durst any approach them with a naval force by sea, nor a land force, went they ever so far up. It was then in everywise sad, because they never ceased from their evil.

An. M.II. In this year the king and his witan resolved that tribute should be paid to the fleet, and peace made with them on condition that they should cease from their evil. Then the king sent ealdorman Leofsige to the fleet, and he, according to the word of the king and his witan, settled a peace with them, and that they should receive food and tribute. And this they then accepted, and were then paid twenty-four

thousand pounds. Then in the meanwhile the ealdorman Leofsige slew Aefic the king's high reeve, and the king banished him from the country. And then in the same autumn came the lady, Richard's daughter, Emma Aelfgifu, hither to land; and in the same summer archbishop Ealdulf died. And in that year the king commanded all the Danish men who were in England to be slain. This was done on the mass-day of St Bricius; because it had been made known to the king that they would plot against his life, and afterwards those of all his witan, and then have his realm without any gainsaying.

An. M.IV. In this year Svein came with his fleet to Norwich, and plundered and burned all that town. Then Ulfkytel with the witan of East Anglia resolved, that it were better that peace should be purchased of the army, before they did over much harm in the country; because they had come unawares, and he had not had time that he might gather his force. Then during the peace which should have been between them, the army stole up from their ships, and wended their way to Thetford. When Ulfkytel perceived that, he sent to have the ships hewn in pieces; but they whom he trusted failed him, and he then secretly gathered his force, as he best might. And the army then came to Thetford within three weeks from the time of their having before plundered Norwich, and were one night there within, and plundered and burned the town. And then in the morning, when they would go to their ships, came Ulfkytel with his army, that they might there engage together; and they there together stoutly engaged, and a great slaughter was made on each side. There were the chief of the East Angles'

folk slain; but if the full power had been there, they would never again have gone to their ships; as they themselves said, that they never met with a worse handplay in England than Ulfkytel had brought them.


[Old English Chronicle]

On the death of Edward the Confessor early in 1066, Harold son of Godwin was elected king of England. William, Duke of Normandy, claimed the crown, and won it at the battle of Senlac or Hastings.

An. M.LXVI. In this year king Harold came from York to Westminster, at the Easter which was after the Midwinter in which the king died; and Easter was then on the day the sixteenth before the Kal. of May (April 16th). Then was seen over all England such a sign in the heavens as no man ever before saw. Some men said that it was the star Cometa, which some men called the haired star; and it first appeared on the eve of Litania major, the eighteenth before the Kal. of May (April 24th), and so shone all the seven nights. And shortly afterwards, earl Tostig came from beyond sea into Wight, with as large a fleet as he could get; and there was paid both in money and provisions.

And he then went thence, and did harm everywhere by the sea-coast where he could approach, until he came to Sandwich. Then it was made known to king Harold, who was in London, that Tostig his brother was come to Sandwich. He then gathered so great a naval force, and also a land force, as no king here in the land had before gathered; because it had for truth been said to him, that Count William from Normandy, king

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