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.