Page 1216

1216 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

lend their presence; and when they reached

the hall where the revelers were carousing,

they were insulted with filthy and disgusting language. This conduct struck fire

from the indignant spirit of Edwy, and he

determined to be revenged on the indecent churchmen who had disgraced his

nuptials.

At this time the English Church was rent

with feuds and quarrels over the question

of the celibacy of the clergy. Some maintained-and to this class the secular clergymen mostly belonged-that the priests might

marry without offense to the divine law;

but the monks on the contrary, held that

the marriage of a priest was a thing most

horrible in the sight of heaven. The leaders

of the latter party were Odo, archbishop

of Canterbury, and the monk Dunstan.

It appears that the king had espoused the

opposite doctrine, and this fact added fuel

to the quarrel which had broken out at

the marriage feast. Dunstan, who had been

treasurer of the kingdom during the reign

of Eldred, was charged with peculation

and driven into exile. He fled into Flanders,

and it is said that the king made an unsuccessful attempt to have the monk's eyes

put out by the people of Ghent. Archbishop

Odo remained in Northumbria. Himself a

Dane, he appealed to the people of his

race to rise in revolt against the impious

Edwy.

In order to encourage a civil war, the insurgent party proclaimed Edgar king of the

whole country north of the Thames. Dunstan, hearing of the insurrection which had

been so successfully begun, returned from his

exile.

While these events were taking place,

the enemies of the king accomplished his

domestic ruin. A company of knights, or

more properly bandits, employed by the

archbishop of Canterbury, broke into the

royal residence, seized the beautiful Elgiva,

branded her in the face with a hot iron, and

dragging her away, cast her, a disfigured

exile, into Ireland. The people of that

island had compassion upon her in her misfortunes. They carefully nursed her back to

health and beauty-for her wounds healed

without scars-and sent her back to England. But the relentless Odo was on the

alert. His brigands again seized the unfortunate queen. By them she was barbarously mutilated. The tendons of her limbs

were cut; and in a few days the suffering

princess expired in agony. This shock was

more than the high-spirited Edwy could bear.

In a short time, being in despair, he died.

Nor is the suspicion wanting that the expiring agonies of the royal heart were hastened

to a close by an assassin.

Thus in the year 959 Prince Edgar came

to the throne of England. The event, viewed

politically, was the triumph of the monkish

party, headed by Odo and Dunstan. A

relentless warfare was now waged against

the married clergymen of the kingdom.

They were everywhere expelled from the

abbeys, monasteries, cathedrals, and churches.

The doctrine of celibacy was enforced with

merciless rigor. The monkish party ruled

both king and kingdom. The youthful

Edgar became a pliant tool in the hands of

the old foxes, who were loose in the pastures

and gardens of England. In the midst of

this progressive retrogression several circumstances conspired to improve the condition of the kingdom. The king had been

reared among the Danes, and was by them

looked upon as their own prince. His accession to the throne was regarded as a kind

of Danish ascendancy in the island. This

fact contributed greatly to the general peace

of the realm. Nor can it be denied that

Odo and Dunstan administered the affairs

of state with great vigor and ability. The

kingdom was more thoroughly consolidated

than ever before. The English army was

better disciplined, and the fleet was increased

to three hundred and sixty sail. The ministers of the king induced him to adopt a

policy of journeying in person into all parts

of England, making the acquaintance of

the people, holding courts, and encouraging

enterprise. So great was his reputation that

eight kings are said to have rowed his barge

in the river Dee.

This actual augmentation of power was reflected in the high-sounding titles which Edgar

assumed. He was called Emperor of Albion,

King of the English and of all the islands

and nations around. It was the good fortune

of his reign not to be disturbed by a single

war, and from this auspicious circumstance

the king received the surname of the Peaceable. His policy was conciliatory. The