1214 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
successful storming parties against seemingly
impregnable fortifications. She conducted an
expedition into Wales and made prisoner the
wife of the king. After a brilliant career of
eight years she died in 920, whereupon the
kingdom of Mercia was given up to Edward. This gave the king a great advantage
in the North, in so much that all the country
between the Thames and the Humber was
presently overawed by the Saxon arms.
From this vantage ground King Edward
made campaigns against the people of Northern Danelagh. He subdued the Welsh
and the Scotch. He made successful warfare upon the inhabitants of Strathclyde,
Cumbria, and Galloway, thus extending further than ever before the dominions of England
in the North.
After a successful reign of twenty-four
years Edward died, and in 925 was succeeded
by his son Athelstane. The court of this
king is represented as having been more
brilliant than that of any preceding sovereign. His policy was to carry forward the
civilization of England-a work so well
begun by his father and grandfather. The
great event of the earlier part of his reign
was the conquest of Wales, which country
at this time became more subjected than
hitherto to the authority of the English
kings. So marked were the successes of
Athelstane in the West that the Welsh were
compelled to make payment of heavy tribute,
and droves of beeves from the pastures of
Wales were now first driven into London
and Oxford. A like subjugation of the people
was effected in Cornwall, and the warlike
tribes beyond the river Tamar were reduced
Meanwhile the people of Danelagh, always restive under English rule, had again
gathered head for an insurrection. A leader
was found in the Prince Olaf, or Aulaf, of
Northumbria, who had of late carried on a
successful war in Ireland, where he took the
city of Dublin, and compelled the Celtic
nations of the island to pay tribute. After
these exploits the Danish chieftain returned
to Northumbria, and sailed up the Humber
with a fleet of six hundred and twenty sail.
He effected an alliance with Constantine,
king of the Scots, and was joined by the
men of Strathclyde and Cumbria. The whole
North rose in arms and bore down upon King Athelstane, who came forth and met
his enemies on the field of Brunnaburg.
Here the English gained a glorious victory.
Five Danish princes of royal rank and seven
earls were slain in this battle. A handful led by Olaf fled into Ireland. Constantine made his way north of the Firth of
Forth, wailing out his grief for the death of
his son. So decisive was the victory of
Athelstane that none durst any longer resist his authority. The consolidation of the
kingdoms and peoples of the island was now
so complete that Athelstane felt warranted
in assuming the title of King of the English, a dignity which had not been claimed
by either Edward or Alfred the Great.
The application of the term England
to the growing monarchy is no longer inappropriate. The court of Athelstane was hardly
less splendid than that of the later Carlovingians. Several foreign princes, either
for observation or safety, made their home
for a season with the English monarch.
As already narrated, Louis d'Outremer found
with his mother a safe retreat in London.
Haco, son of King Harold of Norway, also
abode with the courtiers of Athelstane.
The counts of Brittany and Armorica, driven
from their native possessions by the fury
of the Danes, waited in England for the
subsidence of the storm. Rulers of distant
nations sent to the English king many and
costly gifts, and the givers sought diligently
to ally themselves with the Saxon blood
by seeking the sisters of Athelstane in marriage.
In his patronage of letters and art Athelstane emulated the example of his grandfather. The translation of the Bible into
Anglo-Saxon-a work which had been well
begun in the reign of Alfred-was now diligently promoted, and the rising literature
of England had no cause to complain of
the want of royal patronage. After a brilliant reign of fifteen years, Athelstane died,
and was succeeded in 940 by his brother
Edmund, surnamed the Atheling.
The new king proved to be a prince worthy
of his stock, his character, however, showed
itself in a fondness for the pursuits of peace
rather than the carnage of war. Edmund
was compelled, none the less, to lead his
people in the long-continued struggle with
the Danes; for the great leader, Olaf, now