Alfred ruleth ouer the Westsaxons and the greatest part of England, the Danes afflict him with sore warre, and cruellie make wast of his hingdome, they lie at London a whole winter, they inuade Mercia, the king whereof (Burthred by name) forsaketh his countrie and goeth to Rome, his death and buriall; Halden hing of the Danes diuideth Northumberland among his people; Alfred incountreth with the Danes vpon the sea, they sweare to him that they will depart out of his kingdome, they breake the truce which was made betwixt him and them, he giueth them battell, and (besides a great discomfiture) killeth manie of their capteines, the Danes and English fight neere Abington, the victorie vncerteine, seuen foughten fieldes betwixt them in one yeare, the Danes soiourne at London.
The Xiij. Chapter.
ALURED OR ALFRED. 871. as Mat. West. & Sim. Dunckmen. doo note it. Hear. Hunt.
AFTER the decease of king Ethelred, his brother Alured or Alfred succéeded him, and began his reigne ouer the Westaxons, and other the more part of the people of England, in the yeare of our Lord 872, which was in the 19 yeare of the emperour Lewes the second, and 32 yeare of the reigne of Charles the bald, king of France, and about the eleuenth yeare of Constantine the second king of Scotland. Although this Alured was consecrated king in his fathers life time by pope Leo (as before ye haue heard) yet was he not admitted king at home, till after the decease of his thrée elder brethren: for he being the yoongest, was kept backe from the gouernement, though he were for his wisdome and policie most highlie estéemed and had in all honour.
Alured persecuted by Danes. Matt. Westm.
In the beginning of his reigne he was wrapped in maine great troubles and miseries, speciallie by the persecution of the Danes, which made sore and greeuous wars in sundrie parts of this land, destroieng the same in most cruell wise. About a moneth after he was made
The Danes obteine the victorie.
king, he gaue battell to the Danes of Wilton, hauing with him no great number of people. so that although in the beginning the Danes that day were put to the woorse, yet in the end they obteined the victorie. Shortlie after, a truce was taken betwixt the Danes and the Westsaxons.
The Danes wintered at London.
And the Danes that had lien at Reading, remoued from thence vnto London, where they lay all the winter season. In the second yeare of Alured his reigne, the Danish king
Halden led the same armie from London into Lindseie, and there lodged all that winter at
Torkseie. In the yeare following, the same Halden inuaded Mercia, and wintered at Ripindon. There were come to him thrée other leaders of Danes which our writers name to be
Eurthred king of Mercie.
kings, Godrun, Esketell, & Ammond, so that their power was greatlie increased. Burthred king of Mercia which had gouerned that countrie by the space of 22 yéeres, was not able to withstand the puissance of those enimies: wherevpon he was constreiued to auoid the countrie, and went to Rome, where he departed this life, and was buried in the church of our ladie, néere to the English schoole.
In the fourth yeare of king Alured the armie of the Danes diuided it selfe into two parts,
so that king Halden with one part thereof went into Northumberland, and lay in the winter
The Danes went into Nonhumbeland.
season néere to the riuer of Time, where hee diuided the countrie amongest his men, and remained there for the space of two yeares, and oftentimes fetched thither bootiet and preies out of the countrie of the Picts. The other part of the Danish armie with the thrée foresaid kings or leaders came vnto Cambridge, and remained there a whole yeare. In the same
The Danes at Cambridge,.
yeare king Alured fought by sea with 7 ships of Danes, tooke one of them, & chased the
residue. In the yeare next insuing, the Danes came into the countrie of the Westsaxons, and king Alured tooke truce with them againe, and they sware to him (which they had not
The Danes tooke an oth. Hen. Hund.
vsed to doo to anie afore that time) that they would depart the countrie. Their armie by sea sailing from Warham toward Excester, susteined great losse by tempest, for there perished 120 ships at Swanewicke.
Moreouer the armie of the Danes by land went to Excester in breach of the truce, and
The Danes went to Ex cester.
king Alured followed them, but could not ouertake them till they came to Excester, and there he approched them in such wise, that they were glad to deliuer pledges for performance of such counmants as were accorded betwixt him and them. And so then they departed
out of the countrie, and drew into Mercia. But shortlie after, when they had the whole gouernment of the land, from Thames northward, they thought it not good to suffer king alured to continue in rest with the residue of the countries beyond Thames. And therefore the thrée foresaid rulers of Danes, Godrun, Esketell, and ammond, inuading the countrie of Westaxons came to Chipnam, distant 17 miles from Bristow, & there pitched
King Alured aduertised hereof, hasted thither, and lodging with his armie néere to the
enimies, prouoked them to battell. The Danes perceiuing that either they must fight for their liues, or die with shame, boldlie came foorth, and gaue battell. The Englishmen rashlie incountered with them, and though they were ouermatched in number, yet with such violence they gaue the onset, that the enimies at the first were abashed at their hardie assaults. But when as it was perceiued that their slender ranks were not able to resist the thicke leghers of the enimies, they began to shrinke & looke backe one vpon an other, and so of force were constreined to retire: and therewithall did cast themselues into a ring, which though it séemed to be the best way that could be deuised for their safetie. yet by the great force and number of their enimies on each side assailing them, they were so thronged togither on heaps, that they had no roome to stir their weapons. Which disaduantage notwithstanding, they slue a great number of the Danes, and amongest other, Hubba the brother of Agner, with
manie other of the Danish capteins. At length the Englishmen hauing valiantlie foughten a long time with the enimies, which had compassed them about, at last brake out and got them to their campe. To be briefe, this battell was foughten with so equall fortune, that no
The victorie doubtfull.
man knew to whether part the victorie ought to be ascribed. But after they were once seuered, they tooke care to cure their hurt men, and to burie the dead bodies, namelie the Danes interred the bodie of their capteine Hubba with great funerall pompe and solemnitie: which doone, they held out their iournie till they came to Abington, whither the English
armie shortlie after came also, and incamped fast by the enimies.
In this meane while, the rumor was spread abroad that king alured had béene discomfited by the Danes, because that in the last battell he withdrew to his campe. this turned greatlie to his aduantage: for thereby a great number of Englishmen hasted to come to his succour. On the morrow after his comming to Abington, he brought his armie readie to
The Danes and Englishmen fight néer to Abington.
fight into the field: neither were the enimies slacke on their parts to receiue the battell, and so the two armies ioined and fought verie sore on both sides: so that it séemed the Englishmen had not to doo with those Danes, which had béene diuerse times before discomfited and put to flight, but rather with some new people fresh and lustie. But neither the one part nor the other was minded to giue ouer: in so much that the horssemen alighting on foot, and putting their horsses from them, entered the battell amongst the footmen, and thus they continued with equall aduantage till night came on, which parted the affraie, being one of the
Vncerteine victorie Thus farre Polydor.
sorest foughten fields that had beene heard of in those daies. To whether partie a man might iustlie attribute the victorie, it was vtterlie vncerteine, with so like losse & gaine the matter was tried & ended betwixt them. With the semblable chance of danger and glorie seuen
times that yéere did the English and Danes incounter in battell, as writer s haue recorded.
A peace agreed vpon.
At length, when their powers on both parts were sore diminished, they agréed vpon a peace, with these conditions, that the Danes should not attempt anie further warre against the Englishmen, nor bring into this land anie new supplie of souldiers out of Denmarke. But this peace by those peacemakers was violated and broken, in so much as they ment nothing lesse than to fall from the conceiued hope which they had of bearing rule in this land, and of inriching themselues with the goods, possessions, rents and reuenues of the inhabitants.
The Danes soiourned at London.
The same yéere the Danes soiorned in the winter season at London, according as they had doone often times before.