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The year after his accession, he treacherously got Alfred, one of the sons of Ethelred, into his power, and caused him to be cruelly murdered. Godwin, one of his influential supporters, was said to have perpetrated the deed.

HARDICANUTE reigned from 1040 to 1042. He caused the body of his brother Harold to be dug up and thrown into the Thames. He oppressed the people with heavy danegelts; and on two of the tax collectors being slain at Worcester, he directed the city to be destroyed, and the whole county ravaged. Intemperance brought him to an untimely end.

EDWARD III, surnamed the Confessor, the surviving son of Ethelred, reigned from 1042 to 1066. To secure the influence of Earl Godwin on his behalf, he married the Earl's daughter Editha, and during most of the reign, that nobleman exercised much power. As Edward had been educated in Normandy, he evinced great partiality for the natives of that country, placed them in important offices both in church and state. This was one of the causes of a rupture between the king and Godwin, who was for a short time banished from the country ; but he recovered his authority, and compelled the king to dismiss the Norman functionaries.

In Godwin's absence, William, duke of Normandy, visited the country, and was honorably received by his kinsman. It may be that this astute politician already saw the possibility of acquiring the crown of England.

Edward was greatly esteemed by his subjects for his piety. He was the founder of the magnificent Abbey of Westminster ; and in the part called the Confessor's Chapel, the ashes of the last sovereign of the line of Cerdic of Wessex are enshrined.

HAROLD, the son of Earl Godwin, by virtue of the popular consent, and the last will of Edward, ascended the throne, January, 1066, the claims of Edgar Atheling, the grandson of Edmund Ironside, being passed by. William of Normandy, however, asserted that Edward had promised him the crown; and at a prior period he had extorted an oath from Harold that

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he would assist him in securing the kingdom on the death of the Confessor. He now prepared for an invasion; but ere his arrangements were complete, Harold had to meet another enemy in the person of his own brother, Tostig, who had alliea himself with Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, both of whom, with a considerable body of forces, landed on the Yorkshire coast. These two leaders were vanquished and slain by Harold at STAMFORD BRIDGE (Sept. 25), and three days later William's troops having crossed the Channel, entered Pevensey Bay, in Sussex. Harold bravely encountered his opponent at BATTLE, near Hastings, and for some hours the issue of the contest was uncertain ; but at last the Saxons, deceived by a feigned flight of their foes, broke their ranks ; and the death of Harold by an arrow ended the protracted struggle (Oct. 14).

[Era of Hejira, or flight of Mohammed, A.D. 622. Jerusalem taken by the Saracens, A.D. 636. Decisive victory of Charles Martel over the Saracens, between Tours and Poitiers, A.D. 732. Charlemagne, sole monarch of France, A.D. 772. The province of Neustria ceded to Rollo, A.D. 912. Macbeth usurps the throne of Scotland, A.D. 1039.]

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Notes on the Saxon Period,

Among the Saxons there were three distinct classes,-the thanes, or nobles; the ceorls, or those of free but ignoble birth; and the slaves,

The last class comprised the descendants of the conquered Britons, as well as those who had sold themselves into slavery, or had been reduced to that condition for some crime.

The highest person in the nation was the king, who was aided in the administration of affairs by an assembly of the prelates, abbots, ealdormen, and wise men of the kingdom. This assembly was called the Witan; and by this body, with the sovereign, all laws were enacted.

The Anglo-Saxon codes were remarkable for imposing a pecuniary rather than a corporal penalty upon those guilty of crimes, though in a few cases, such as murder, arson, and open theft, the offenders were sometimes put to death. In cases of homicide, the delinquent, if he paid the were (or pecuniary value of the person's life) to the relatives, and the wite (or pecuniary penalty for the breach of the law) to the king, was exempted from further punishment.

There were several courts for the administration of justice, such as the county court, the hundred court, and the hall-mote. The modes of trial differed greatly from those of the present day, for trial by jury was unknown. The chief methods adopted to determine the guilt or innocence of alleged criminals were by compurgation and by ordeal. The first depended on a person's reputation ; for, if a certain number of individuals came forward and deposed on oath that they believed the prisoner innocent, he was acquitted. The ordeal was a far more severe and less certain test. There were two principal kinds—the hot iron ordeal, and the hot water ordeal. When the latter was resorted to, the culprit had to place his hand or arm in boiling water, and if after three days it appeared unscathed, he was adjudged innocent; so if he carried a piece of red hot iron in his hand over a space of nine feet. The clergy managed the ordeals ; and in these superstitious times they were considered as appeals to the justice of Heaven. Happily, through the spread of a purer Christianity, more truthful ideas of God's dealings with the world prevail in our day.

According to a system, known as frank-pledge, all freemen were required to belong to some tithing (or community of ten families), the members of which were, to a large extent, mutually responsible for one another's conduct. Besides the tithings, the country was divided into hundreds and shires.

Though, for many years after the Saxon invasion, the cultivation of the soil was neglected, yet, as the districts becanie settled, agriculture was again encouraged. Large numbers of sheep and swine were kept, and various kinds of grain were grown. The monks particularly devoted themselves either to agriculture or handicraft; and some of them were very skilful as illuminators, and fabricators of ornamental articles. The Saxon ladies excelled in embroidery. During the ravages of the Danes the pacific pursuits of the inhabitants were much interrupted.

The houses of the Saxons rarely consisted of more than one chamber, and were constructed of wood. The furniture was simple, though occasionally costly. The diet of the wealthy comprised wheaten bread, flesh, and fish, especially eels. The poorer class mainly depended for their sustenance on barley or oat bread. Excessive drinking, says one of the chroniclers, was a common vice of all ranks of people, in which they spent wholo nights and days without intermission.

Literature, as already mentioned, was encouraged by Alfred, and he himself was distinguished as an author. Besides him may be mentioned Gildas, our earliest historian, who flourished in the middle of the sixth century; Nennius also, the writer of a "History of the Britons," who perhaps lived in the earlier half of the seventh century; Cædmon, a monk of Whitby, who died about 680 ; Adhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury, the writer of several works in prose and verse (born about 656, died 709); Bede, author of the “Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation," (born 672, died 735); Alcuin, who presided over the seminary, instituted by the Emperor Charlemagne; Asser, who is said to have been a bishop in the reign of Alfred, whose life he compiled ; and Ælfric, the Anglo-Saxon hoinilist, probably born in the tenth century.


Reigned from 1066 to 1087.

Birth.-William was born at Falaise, near the close of the

year 1027.

Descent. He was the illegitimate son of Robert, sixth Duke of Normandy, the lineal descendant of Rollo, the founder of that state.

Marriage.He espoused his cousin Matilda, the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders.

Children.-Robert, surnamed Curthose ; Richard, killed by a stag in the new forest; William and Henry, who became Kings of England ; Adela, who married Stephen, Count of Blois; and four other daughters.

Important Events.—After the battle of Hastings, the Saxon Witan in London chose Edgar Atheling as king ; but the leading nobility, including Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, Edwin, Morcar, and Edgar himself soon found it necessary to make their submission to the Conqueror ; and he was crowned on Christmas day at Westminster (1066). During his absence on the continent in the following year, the government was entrusted to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, his half-brother, and William Fitz-Osborn : in consequence of their severity, the Saxons revolted in several districts; but on the Conqueror's return the people were reduced to obedience.

In 1069 the sons of Sweyn, King of Denmark, arrived in the Humber with a large number of ships to aid the Saxons. Being joined by Edgar Atheling and others, they captured York and slew the Norman garrison; but, when William arrived, the Danes returned to their ships, and the insurgents were defeated. The whole of the district between the Humber and the Tyne was mercilessly devastated by his command.

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