Book 2, Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children from 901 AD to 955 – Athelstan
He selected from the combatants some citizens of London, on whose veteran valour he could rely: to these he added the men of Worcestershire, and their leader, who is called the magnanimous Singin. He formed those chosen troops into a firm and compact body, and placing his vast muscular figure at their head, he chose a peculiar quarter of attack, and rushed impetuously on his prey. The hostile ranks fell before him. He pierced the circle of the Picts and the Orkney, men, and heedless of the wood of arrows and spears which fastened in his armour, he even penetrated to the Cumbrians and the Scots. He beheld Constantine, the king of the Grampion hills, and he pressed forward to assail him.
Constantine was too brave to decline his daring adversary. The assault fell first upon his son, who was unhorsed. With renovated fury the battle then began to rage. Every heart beat vehemently, every arm was impatient to rescue or to take the prince. The Scots with noble loyalty precipitated themselves on the Saxons to preserve their leader. Turketul would not forego the expected prize. Such, however, was the fury of his assailants, so many weapons surrounded the Saxon chancellor, that his life began to be endangered, and he repented of his daring. He was nearly overcome by the prince who was just about to be released, when Singin, with an unpitying blow at the royal youth, terminated his contested life.
New courage rushed into the bosoms of the Saxons on this event. Grief and panic as suddenly overwhelmed their enemies. The Scots in consternation withdrew, and Turketul triumphed in his hard earned victory. Athelstan and his brother Edmund were, during these events, engaged with Anlaff. In the hottest season of the conflict, the sword of Athelstan broke at the handle, while his enemies were pressing fiercely upon him. He was speedily supplied with another, and the conflict continued to be balanced.
After the battle had long raged, Egils and Turketul, pursuing the retreating Scots, charged suddenly upon Anlaff’s rear. It was then that his determined bands began to be shaken, slaughter thinned their ranks, many fled, and the assailants cried out “Victory!” Athelstan exhorted his men to profit by the auspicious moment. He commanded his banner to be carried into the midst of the enemy. He made a deep impression on their front, and a general ruin followed. The soldiers of Anlaff fled on every side, and the pursuit filled the plain with their bodies.
Thus terminated this dangerous and important conflict. Its successful issue was of such consequence, that it raised Athelstan to the utmost dignity in the eyes of all Europe. The kings of the Continent sought his friendship, and England began to assume a majestic part amid the other nations of the West. Among the Anglo Saxons it excited such rejoicings, that their poets aspired to commemorate it, and the songs were so popular, that one of them is inserted in the Saxon Chronicle, as the best memorial of the event.
Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children
Chapter 7, Athelstan
The Anglo-Danes Revolt, and are Subdued
Chapter 7, Renown of Athelstan
Chapter 7, Edmund
Chapter 7, Edred
Categories: Book 2