Book 2, Chapter 3, 827 AD to 857 AD – Egbert – Continued
In 836, Egbert died, after a long and prosperous reign, and the sceptre which he had wielded with so much vigour and ability, descended to the feeble hands of his son Ethelwulf, who, according to William of Malmesbury, had been destined for a monastic life, and who was actually sub deacon at the time of Egbert’s decease, so that a dispensation had to be obtained from the pope, to allow Ethelwulf to leave the convent for a throne. Of this, however, there is not clear proof. The ravages of the Northmen continued, notwithstanding severe checks given to them by some of the Anglo Saxon leaders, to whom had been assigned the protection of the maritime districts. Taught by the past, the Danes avoided drawn battles, and mostly skirmished with the local forces. If successful, they hastened on board ship with their plunder, and departed if overcome, they set sail, and invaded the coast at some miles distance, where they were not expected, and where no preparations had been made to receive them.
Every district on the seaboard was held in perpetual alarm, not knowing when these fierce pirates might descend, as with the fell swoop of an eagle upon its prey. They came in increasing numbers, and with increasing boldness, ascending the Thames and the Medway, pillaging London, Rochester, and Canterbury, being defeated and routed at Southampton, at Okeley, in Surrey, and at Sandwich, but gaining the day in contests at Portland, at Charmouth, and in Lincolnshire. Their usual practice was suddenly to land, collect all the plunder they could, and when their ships were laden, or when the season was advancing, to return back to their own rugged north, but, in 851 a large party secured possession of the Isle of Thanet, and remained the winter, filling the Saxons with consternation, as evincing a resolve to settle in the country. Two attempts to eject them failed, with great loss to the assailants, and in the spring of the following year reinforcements arrived in three hundred and fifty vessels. The sanguinary battle of Okeley occurred after this, concerning which Asser, a contemporary, writes that there had never been so fearful a slaughter among the invaders. Yet, having once obtained a footing in the country, they were, emboldened to renew the attempt in subsequent years.
Chapter 3, Egbert
Succeeded by Ethelwulf
Chapter 3, The Clergy and The Monasteries
Chapter 3, The Witenagemot
Categories: Book 2