Book 2, Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children from 901 AD to 955 – Renown of Athelstan
In the year 941, October 27th, Athelstan died, regretted by his subjects, and admired by the surrounding nations. He was of a slender habit, and middling stature. His hair, which was yellow, he wore in ringlets entwined in threads of gold. Among the higher orders of the nobility he maintained that reserve which became his superior station: to the lower classes of his subjects he was affable and condescending. From his father he had inherited a considerable treasure, but his liberality was not inferior to his opulence, and the principal use which he made of money was to enrich others.
To his vassals he was accustomed to make valuable presents, the spoil collected in his military expeditions was always divided among his followers, and his munificence to the clergy was proved by the churches which he erected or repaired. Neither ought his charities to be left unnoticed. He annually redeemed at his private expense a certain number of convicts, who had forfeited their liberty for their crimes, and his bailiffs were ordered, under severe penalties, to support a pauper of English extraction on every two of his farms.
As a legislator he was anxious to suppress offences, to secure an impartial administration of justice, and to preserve the standard coin of the realm in a state of purity. With this view be held assemblies of the witan at Greatly, Faversham, Exeter, and Thundersfield associations were formed under his auspices for the protection of property, and regulations were enacted respecting the apprehension, the trial, and the punishment of male factors. Negligence in the execution of the laws was severely chastised. A thane paid to the crown a fine of sixty shillings, a superior magistrate was amerced in double that sum, with the forfeiture of his office, when proved to have been false or delinquent.
His people loved him for his bravery, kindness, and affability and his enemies feared his wrath and power. That power would have become greater and more consolidated, if his life had been prolonged, and Those tempests from the north might, perhaps, have been averted, which soon after again desolated England, but he had served his country wisely and well, and after ages have accorded to him the glory of having established what has ever since been called THE KINGDOM OF ENGLAND.
Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children
Chapter 7, Athelstan
Chapter 7, Renown of Athelstan
Death and Character
Chapter 7, Edmund
Chapter 7, Edred
Categories: Book 2