Harold : the Last of the Saxon Kings — Volume 01

Harold the Last of the Saxon Kings Complete in One Volume by Edward Bulwer Lytton
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The century of Athelstan and Edgar saw a new flowering of Anglo-Saxon art. Archbishop Dunstan himself was a craftsman and loved to fashion jewellery and cast church-bells.

The Brutal Battle that Killed King Harold of England

He loved to work, too, in the scriptoria , as he had done as a young monk; in his day the illuminators of the monastic renaissance, with their gorgeous colouring and boldly flowing margins, reached new heights of achievement. In the depopulated north a simpler polity prevailed. Here Christian missionaries from harried Ireland were busy turning the Scandinavian settlements along the coasts and dales into Christian parishes.

Other Scandinavian words were being woven into the map of northern England; gate a street and thwaite a clearing; fell a hill and thorpe a settlement; foss a waterfall and by a village. The very word entered England through their speech. So did the divisions or ridings into which they split the southern part of Northumbria, the juries of twelve leading men employed in the administration of their towns and wapenstakes, and their habit of majority decision. For it was a rule among these independent-minded men that, save in a boat or on the battlefield, they were all equal.

Yet all this growing polity and wealth depended in the last resort on the ability of English kings to keep the good order that Alfred had won. Not all the princes of the House of Wessex were great men or able to ride the tides of anarchy in an age still dominated by the Viking invasions. For the long reign of the half-brother who succeeded him was one of the most disastrous in English history.

Ethelred the Redeless — the unready or lacking in counsel — was a spoilt, petulant weakling. Incapable of running straight, his double-dealing set the great earldormen by the ears even before he reached manhood. Once more, scenting weakness as vultures carrion, the Norsemen returned. The European mainland was no longer the easy prey it had been; under the challenge of repeated invasion its divided peoples had learnt to defend them selves.

Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King

The townsmen of Germany, Flanders, Francia, northern Spain and Italy were building walls round their cities; the feudal nobles of the countryside equipping companies of mounted and armoured knights. At the end of the century they gave up their vagrant life and settled down as Christians on the Pannonian plain—henceforward Hungary. But the Norsemen, whose own land had so little to offer, were not yet prepared to settle down.

The northern seas and islands were still full of them.

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Barred out of Europe, they turned once more to England. Finding from isolated raids on the coast that her people were no longer invincible, they struck in at her south-eastern shires. After a hundred years of victory, the English were confident they could repel them. They received an unpleasant awakening.

Harold Godwinson

Before they did so, there was one glorious episode. After sacking Ipswich the invaders were opposed on the banks of the Blackwater near Maldon by the earldorman of Essex the old, silver-haired, six-foot-nine giant, Britnoth. For an hour three of his retainers barred the only causeway. Then a Danish herald asked that the English should withdraw to allow his countrymen to cross and battle to be joined.

Disdaining any advantage and confident of victory, the chivalrous old earl agreed, and the Danes crossed the causeway. But soon afterwards, adventuring far into the Danish ranks, he was cut down and slain. His men, seeing their leader fall, started to fly. There was little else to redeem the record of the next twenty years. Anything that may be counselled never stands for a month. But as soon as they had spent the money they returned for more, harrying the countryside until a new ransom or danegeld was raised.

They rode at will across Sussex and Hampshire, moored their fleet in Poole harbour, burnt Norwich and Thetford, beat the fyrd at Penselwood in the heart of Wessex, and rode past Winchester flaunting the plunder of Berkshire as they returned in triumph to their ships. Lacking the strong hand they respected, the Danes of northern England turned to their plundering kinsmen. Indeed, Ethelred drove them to it, harrying their homesteads with the same barbarity as the invaders harried his own.

The revenge taken by the bloodthirsty king, Sweyn Forkbeard, was as terrible as deserved.

Harold, the last of the Saxon kings.

For a generation the Danes feasted on the carcass of a rich, leaderless land. The monasteries again fell into decay, the farms were plundered, the peasants taxed into starvation and sold as slaves. The worst humiliation came in when, after a delay in the payment of a danegeld, the invaders pounced on Canterbury and carried off the primate, Alphege, and most of the monks and nuns. And when the brave archbishop refused to appeal for a ransom, he was pelted to death with ox-bones by a pack of drunken pirates.

Next year, after he had reigned for thirty-five years, Ethelred fled to Normandy, leaving his desolate country in the hands of Sweyn. For three years the two great soldiers, Englishman and Dane, fought each other among the forests and marshes of southern England. On April 23rd, — St.

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A few weeks later he died at Oxford. In that midwinter of disaster the great council or Witan met and made its terms with the conqueror. It proved a wise choice. For though Canute was almost as ruthless as his father, he ended the long Norse scourge. At a meeting of the Witan at Oxford he swore to govern his new realm by the laws of King Edgar. Henceforward he made no distinction between his new countrymen and his old.

lauren.reclaim.hosting/la-ley-del-libre-albedro-conoce-la.php He followed Alfred. For if Canute had conquered England, in a wider sense England conquered him. With his acceptance of a Christian crown the ravaging of Christendom from the north ceased. While in many things still a heathen, revengeful and hard, he became a devout churchman, enforcing tithes, endowing monasteries, and even making a pilgrimage to Rome where he laid English tribute on the altar of St. A poem of the time describes his visit to a Fenland abbey:.

He rebuilt the shrine at Bury St. Edmund to the king his countrymen had martyred a century and a half before, and made amends for the murdered Alphege by the honours he paid his tomb at Canterbury. Had this great, though harsh, man lived, the course of European history might have been different. After his conquest of Norway he became virtual emperor of the North. But fate was against him. The story of his courtiers telling him he could stay the advancing tide at Lambeth may not have been true, but, like many legends, it enshrined a truth.

He was not more powerful than death. He died at forty, his work incomplete and most of his mighty projects still a dream. He was buried at Winchester among the English kings, while his half-barbaric sons divided his Scandinavian empire between them. They did not even found a dynasty. He was more like an abbot to them than a king, and they called him the Confessor. His greatest interest was the building of a monastery among the river marches at Thorney, a mile or two to the west of London.

Here, that he might watch his abbey rising — the West Minster, as it was called — he made himself a hall that was one, day to become the heart of an empire. Yet Edward exposed his subjects to almost as many dangers as his father. He was so devout that he refused to give his wife a child and his realm an heir. Absorbed in works of piety, he left its affairs to the great earldormen and his Norman favourites.

This able but ambitious man induced the king to marry his sister and to confer on his spoilt, quarrelling sons the earldoms of East Anglia, Gloucester, Hereford, Oxford, Northampton, Huntingdon and northern Northumbria. The jealousies aroused by his greatness and the crimes of his eldest son led to his eclipse and banishment. But he returned to England at the head of a fleet, harried its coasts and, with the help of the Londoners, dictated terms to the throne. Godwin was not the only subject able to defy the Crown. Equally masters in their provincial strongholds were his rivals, Leofric of Mercia —husband of the legendary Lady Godiva, foundress of Coventry abbey — and the giant Dane, Siward of York, who met his death like a Norse warrior standing fully accoutred with breast-plate, helmet and gilded battle-axe.

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I'm embarrassed to say I don't write every day. My writing habits ebb and flow depending on my work load I sell Real Estate. During the summer, it's weather driven! When it's raining outside, I get lots of work done.

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During the Spring, I spend a lot of time in the garden as long as it's warm. During the winter I get most of my writing done. So I guess you could say I'm not a slave to my art!