Book 2, Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children from 901 AD to 955 – Athelstan
When all his preparations were completed, he marched into the north, but whether the decisive contest was waged in Lincolnshire or in Northumbria, is not accurately known. The battle which ensued is called the battle of Brunanburh, the precise locality of which cannot be determined, though supposed by some to be Bourne, in the south of Lincoln.
Anlaff being desirous to reconnoitre the position and strength of his opponent adopted an expedient very common in those times. Disguised as a minstrel, he wandered into the English camp, and observed all he wanted to see, even entering the royal presence and playing before Athelstan while at dinner. One of the mercenary troops suspected that it was Anlaff beneath the disguise, for he knew him well, having served under him in the north, and on his departure revealed his suspicions to the king, who upbraided him with perfidy for not having seized Anlaff.
To this rebuke, the rough warrior from the north replied, “O king, the oath which I have taken to you, I once gave to Anlaff. If I had broken it to him, I might have been faithless to you.” Athelstan was convinced, and by the man’s advice, removed to another part of the field, advice, the wisdom of which was proved by the event, for that night an attack was directed against the spot which the king had occupied, and the bishop of Sherborne, who had meanwhile arrived with more soldiers, was slain, with nearly all his attendants. So fierce was the attack that it nearly ended in a general engagement between the whole of the forces on both sides, but Hyrngr, one of the Danish leaders, having been slain, and his followers gave way, and the combat was discontinued.
Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children
Chapter 7, Athelstan
Chapter 7, Renown of Athelstan
Chapter 7, Edmund
Chapter 7, Edred
Categories: Book 2