Page 1214

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

to obedience.

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