Sivut kuvina


were selected by lot, set sail, under the command of Hengist and Horsa, eons of the Saxon general. They were carried to Thauet, in three large transport boats, when they immediately marched to the defence of the Britons, by attacking the Picts and Scots. They who were adyanced as far as Stamford in Lincolnshire, were entirely routed by the Saxony, and soon driven .back to their own barren regions with great loss.

But those brave auxiliaries, in their various marches through the country, beholding its beauty, verdure and fertility, were desirous of possessing it themselves. Perceiving the Britons enervated by luxury, sunk in vice, and lost to those noble sentiments of freedom which can inspire true courage, their ambition was awakened to the idea of ruling those they came to defend, and enslaving a people they had been employed to protect.

The youthful Saxon commander, sent home intelligence of the richness of Britain; and represented, as certain, the subjection of a people so long disused to arms, disunited among themselves, destitute of all national attachment, and lost to every sense of the blessings acquired by their recent liberty, granted them by the Romans. They were immediately reinforced with 5000 men, consisting of Saxons, Jutes, and Angles, who came over in seventeen vessels. 'The Britons now began .to entertain apprehensions of their allies, whose numbers they found continually augmenting, but thought of no remedy, except a passive. submission and connivance. This weak expedient failed them. The Saxons sought a quarrel, by complaining that their subsidies were ill paid, and their provisions withdrawn. And, immediately taking offthe mask, they formed an alliance with the Picts and Scots, and proceeded to open hostilities against the Britons.

Many battles were fought between them, which generally terminated in favour of the Saxons. Hengist, like a good Jacobin, continually reinforced by fresh numbers of auxiliary invaders, from Germany, carried devastation into the most remote corners of Britain; and being chiefly anxious to spread the terror of his arms, he ppared neither sex, nor age, nor condition, wherever he marched with his victorious forces.


flymg to the mountains and desarts, were intercepted, and butehered in heaps: Some were glad to accept of life and servitude under the victors: Others, deserting their native country, took shelter in the province of Armorica; where being charitably received by a people of the same language and manners, they settled in great numbers, and gave the country the name of Brittany, in France.

Thus, after a violent contest of near 150 years, the Heptarchy, or seven Saxon kingdoms, was established in Britain; and, in that time, *iy various invasions and expulsions, the whole southern part of the

sland, except Wales and Cornwall, had totally changed its inhabitants,

anguage, customs, and political institutions! The first Saxon invaders, from Germany, instead of excluding other

id venturers, who mustshare with them the spoils of the ancient iohabiwnls, were obliged to solicit fresh supplies from their own country l and

a total extermination of the Britons, became the sole expedient for providing a settlement and subsistence for the new planters. To mention all the different swarms of auxiliary invaders that came over here, during the wars between the Saxons and the Britons, is not altogether practicable, nor indeed is it necessary.

But the dissentions of the Britons, as well as their want of military discipline and spirit, was a principal cause of their destruction. Had they been more united, and trusted more to their own exertions, they would have defended themselves better against the first Saxon allies, when they became invaders; and, by that means, have discouraged others from attempting to invade the island.

Although the Britons were rendered so abject by the Roman policy, that a few thousands of their troops, nay 1500 Saxons, were able to repel their ferocious enemies, the Picts and Scots, which they could not accomplish, upon their old masters leaving the island; yet it is well known that their succeeding dreadful conflicts restored their ancient •valour, and -taught them the most expert discipline. How else could •they have withstood the whole power of the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles, for near a century and a half, and with such resolute bravery, that if fresh numbers of invaders, from the continent, had not poured continually in upon them, there is every probability of their having remained victorious!

We may draw, however, some wise instruction from the misfortunes of the Britons. When we can afford reciprocal aid to our allies, the forming of treaties is the political cement of society. But, if we neglect to ajm ourselves, on every fit occasion, and to infuse spirit and discipline .among bur fellow subjects, our allies might soon become our masters, and we should sink into insignificance, poverty, slavery, and contempt.

Invasions Op The Danes.—During the after commotions among the Saxons, who quarrelled among themselves after they had expelled the Britons; the Danes made several petty invasions on Britain, before their naval power became so alarming to the Anglo Saxons. The situation of their country, and the great plenty of alf materials necessary for building and equipping a fleet, soon made them very strong at sea. For above 300 years, the Danish pirates were, in a manner, lords of the oceari. Though they were sometimes repulsed and defeated by the Angles or English, they generally obtained their end, of committing spoil upon the country, and carrying off their booty.

They avoided coming to a general engagement, which was not suited to their plan of operation. Their vessels were small, and ran easily up the creeks and rivers; where they drew them ashore, and, having formed an intrenchment round them, which they guarded with part of their number, the remainder scattered themselves every where, and, carrying off the inhabitants, the cattle, and goods, they hastened to their ships, and quickly disappeared.

If the military force of the country were assembled, for there was no time for troops to march from a distance, the Danes either were able to repulse them, and to continue their ravages with impunity, or they betook themselves to their vessels; and, setting sail, suddenly invade-4 some distant quarter, which was not prepared- for their receptii

•Every part of England was, at length, held in continual alarm; and the inhabitants of one country durst not give assistance to those of another, lest their own families and property should, in the mean time, be exposed, by their absence, to the fury of these barbarous ravagers.

The first of their invasions was io the year 787, when they landed on the south-west coast of England, in the kingdom of Wessex. In about seven years after, they landed in Northumberland, and burnt Liudisfarne monastery. They returned in the following year, and pillaged Tinmouth monastery. Ethelrid, the reigning king of Northumberland, by the assistance of Offa, king of Mercia, prevented them from carrying their ravages any farther, and drove them to their ships. Nearly the whole of them perished on the coast, in a violent storm.

Their petty incursions now became almost annual; and they were dreaded, not only throughout this island, but also along the coast of several other European kingdoms; as they every where committed great ravages. The vast booty they obtained, tempted the richest and most powerful of their countrymen to embark for plunder. They invaded the provinces of France, and were called there, Normans, men from the north. In England, they were generally stiled Danes, or Goths.

The Heptarchy was hardly dissolved, and England formed into one kingdom, under the dominion of Egbert, when the Danes again invaded England; they landed in the isle of Shepey, in Kent, ana, having pillaged it, escaped with impunity.

Next year they attempted another invasion, and landed at Charmouth, in Dorsetshire. Tlleir fleet consisted of thirty-five sail. In their usual manner, they immediately pillaged the country. Though Egbert attacked them with great spirit, his armv was entirely routed, after a long and stubborn engagement. The Danes pressed so hard upon him, in his retreat, that he was indebted for his life to the darkness of the night. Egbert, who had always been victorious till then, •was extremely mortified at being worsted, which made him adopt more vigorous measures for his defen-ce, against these new invaders. The Danes, in the mean time, having no designs to make conquests, returned to their ships, after plundering all the surrounding country.

Another band of Danish invaders, having been informed by their spies, that the Cornish Britons were desirous of throwing off the English yoke, landed in Cornwall, where they were received with great joy. After being reinforced with some British troops, they marched, in order to give battle to Egbert. Each party were endeavouring to .rush upon action, by surprize, and consequently both were prepared. The discomfiture of Egbert having made him more wary, he kept his army in readiness to march, upon the first notice of their arrival. Therefore, upon being informed, that they were landed in the west, he \veut thither at the head of all his troops, with great expedition, and obtained a signal victory over them, near Hengstone Hill, in Cornwall, •which wiped out the disgrace of his former defeat.

The Danes soon afterwards invaded England, in the beginning of the reign of Ethel wulph, Egbert's only son. They appeared off Southampton After hovering about for some time, they lauded and ravaged the flat country. Ethelwulph sent Wulfred, his general, against them, who soon drove them back to their ships. But the army had hardly returned, when some more Danes landed at Portland, and set about

( 11 ••)

plundering and ravaging the country. Earl Ethelhem, who now comcianded the English forces, was shamefully beaten, and put to ffight.

Herbert, another commander, was not only vanquished, but slain. The Danes, in consequence of these two victories, over-run several counties; particularly Kent and Middlesex. Canterbury, Rochester, and London, were terribly harassed; and the enemy, after committing grrat cruelties, returned to their ships.

The following year, another body of the Danes landed on the coast of Dorsetshire. T&etr fleet consisted of thirty-five sail. Ethelwulph led iis troops in person against the enemy. An action took place at Charmouth, wherein the English were completely defeated; and the Danes, after plundering the country, the only aim at first of all these expeditions, set sail for Denmark."

In the year 845, the Danes landing in Somersetshire, were defeated ncarthe river Parret, and the English obtained such a decisive victory, as deterred them, for some years, from all invasions of the southern coasts of England.

But the troubles and dissentions in the kingdom of Northumberland, gave the Danes frequent opportunities of plundering that coast. Whenever they arrived, they were sure to be joined by the ex-party. The minor faction made no scruple to join the common enemy, in order to gain the ascendency; and assisted in the destruction of their country, lor the sake of enjoying authority.

The Danes, in 851, invaded the southern coast, and committed the most horrid cruelties. On their return to their ships, however, being laden and encumbered with their booty, they were attacked by the English commander, at Westbury, in Dorsetshire, and entirely defeated. King Athelstan, soon after, equipping out a fleet, engaged the Danes oft'Sandwich, and captured nine ot their ships; but all his skill and force could not prevent them from wintering in the isle of Shepey. This was the first time they ventured to seize territory here, as well as plunder.

In the spring, a strong reinforcement of their countrymen arriving, in 350 ships, they .advanced from the isle of Thanet, where they had stationed themselves; burnt the cities of London and Canterbury, marched into the heart of Surry, and laid every place waste around them. Ethelwulgh, impelled by the urgency of the danger, marched against them, at the head of the West Saxons; and, carrymg with him his second son, Ethelbald, gave them battle at Okely, and gained a bloody victory over them. They made so terrible a slaughter of the .Danes, that very few escaped. This advantage proved but a short respite to the English.

The Danes still possessed the isle of Thanet, and, being attacked by the governors of Kent and Surrey, though defeated in the beginning of the action, they finally repulsed the assailants, and killed both the governors. After this they removed to the isle of Shepey, where they took up their winter quarters, that they might farther extend their devastation and ravages.

AJ1 orders of men were now involved in this new calamity of Danish invasion; and the priests and monks, who had been commonly spared in the -domestic quarrels of the Heptarchy, were the cfcief objects ou whit> the Danish idolaters exercised their raga and animosity. Every seasonof the year was dangerous; and the absence of the enemy was no reason why any man could esteem himself a moment in safety.

They invaded the south coast in 8t50, and penetrated as far as Winchester, and reduced that city to ashes; but were afterwards beat back to their ships.

They landed about two years after in the isle of Thanet, where they wintered, in order to be ready to make incursions in the spring. Ethelbert, dreading their power, offered them a sum of money to retire, which they promised to do; but, on receiving it, they rushed into Kent, and destroyed all with fire and sword. Ethelbert levied an army to intercept them in their retreat, and prevent them from carrying off their booty. But the dread of these preparations made them embark so suddenly, that he could not prevent it.

In the year 86G, the Danes began a very formidable invasion of England. Prompted by their own avarice, and invited by a treacherous English nobleman, named Bruern Brocard, they landed in East An,lia; the inhabitants of which, more anxious for their present safety than for the common interest of England, entered into a separate treaty with them, and furnished them with horses, which enabled them to make an irruption by land, into the kingdom of Northumberland. They besieged * the city of York, and defeated the tributary princes of Northumberland. Encouraged by these successes, and by the superiority which they had acquired in arms, they now ventured to leave the sea-coast, and, penetrating intoMercia, they took up their winter quarters at Nottingham, where they threatened the kingdom with a final subjection.

This so terrified Edmund, that he applied to Ethelred for succour; and that monarch, with his brother Alfred, conducting a great army to Nottingham, obliged the enemy to dislodge, and to retreat to Northumberland. Their restless disposition, and avidity for plunder, allowed them not to remain long in those quarters. They broke into East Anglia, the very country that basely supplied them with horses, and entered into treaty with them; they defeated and took prisoner its prince, and afterwards murdered him in cold blood, by tying him to a tree, and shooting at him, as at a butt, with arrows. Besides committing the most barbarous ravages on the people, particularly on the monastries, they gave the East Angles cause to regret the temporary relief which they had obtained, by assisting the common enemy.

Among other cruelties they committed, at this time, was that on the nuns of Coldingham. The Abbess, to prevent herself and the nuns of the abbey from Danish violation, persuaded them to cut off their noses and upper lips; and by her own example, induced them to perform the dreadful operation. The Danes, beholding their shocking appearance, were so exasperated as to set the monastery on fire, when all those virtuous ladies perished together in the flames.

Having subdued East Anglia, the Danes next made a descent in Wessex, and penetrated as far as Heading, in Berkshire, by their incursions. The Mercians, desirous of shaking off their dependence upon King Ethelred, refused to join him with their forces: and that prince, ar""nded by Alfred, was obliged to march against the enemy with the - Saxons alwie, his hereditary subjects. The Danes were defeated

« EdellinenJatka »