Page 1094

1094 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

queen at the table! It is believed, moreover,

that the favor shown to his youngest son,

Alfred, had something to do with his elder

brother's resentment. The boy Alfred had

been taken by Ethelwulf to Rome, and there

the pope had anointed the young prince with

oil. It is also thought that Osburgha, the

king's first wife and mother of his sons, was

not yet dead, but only put away to make

room for Judith.

The old king was greatly distracted by the

broil in his kingdom. Finally he agreed to a

division of Wessex, by which the better part

was given to Ethelbald. Ethelwulf did not

long survive. He died in 857, and Ethelbald

succeeded to the government of the whole

kingdom. It now appeared that his antipathy to his father's French queen was entirely insincere, for he immediately took that

princess for his own wife, thus setting at

defiance all consistency and law. So flagrant,

however, was this offense that the Church at

once lifted her hand and demanded a divorce.

Judith returned to France, and presently

found solace with a third husband, Baldwin

of Ardennes. Her son became Earl of Flanders, and married Elfrida, daughter of Alfred

the Great, of whom was born that Maud, or

Matilda, who, as the wife of William the Conqueror, became the great mother of all the

subsequent sovereigns of England.

After a brief reign, Ethelbald was succeeded by his brother, Ethelbert. Meanwhile

the Danes returned in. swarms and hovered

around the coasts. They made inroads from

every quarter. Winchester, the capital of

Essex, was seized and burned. In 867 the

king died and was succeeded by Ethelred.

During the first year of his reign he

fought nine pitched battles with the Danes.

Hundreds and thousands of the invaders fell

under the swords of the Saxons, but as soon

as one horde was destroyed another arose in

its place. As 'the war progressed, it became

constantly apparent that the main reliance of the Saxons must be placed in Prince

Alfred, who in the fierce battles fought by his

brother with the Danes displayed not only the

greatest courage but also the highest qualities

of generalship. In the fierce battle of Ashton

the day was saved by his valor and presence of mind. In the year 870, two fierce

conflicts occurred in which the Saxons were

defeated, and in the following year Ethelred

died. The crown then descended without dispute to Alfred, the youngest and greatest of

the sons of Ethelwulf. For him destiny had

reserved a more distinguished part than for

any other sovereign of primitive England.

Such is a brief sketch of the principal states

and kingdoms founded by those barbarous

nations that converted the Roman Empire

into a desolation and then established themselves amid the ruin.