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Asser of Saint David’s Annals of the reign of Alfred the Great From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887.

 
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Asser of Saint David’s
Annals of the reign of Alfred the Great From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887.
page 10

 In the year of our Lord's incarnation 882, the thirty-fourth of king Alfred's life, the above named army steered their ships up into France by a river called the Mese [Meuse] and there wintered one year. In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, fought a battle by sea against the pagan fleet, of which he captured two ships, having slain all who were on board; and the two commanders of two other ships, with all their crews, distressed by the battle and the wounds which they had received, laid down their arms and submitted to the king. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 883, which was the thirty - fifth of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army went up the river called Scald [Scheldt] to a convent of nuns called Cundoht [Conde] and there remained a year. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 884, which was the thirty- sixth of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army divided into two parts; one body of them went into East France, and the other coming to Britain entered Kent, where they besieged a city called in Saxon Rochester, and situated on the eastern bank of the river Medway. Before the gate of the town the pagans suddenly erected a strong fortress, but yet they were unable to take the city, because the citizens defended themselves bravely, until king Alfred came up to help them with a large army. Then the pagans abandoned their fortress, and all their horses which they had brought with them out of France, and leaving behind them in the fortress the greater part of their prisoners, on the arrival of the king, fled immediately to their ships, and the Saxons immediately seized on the prisoners and horses left by the pagans; and so the pagans, compelled by stern necessity, returned the same summer to France. In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, led his fleet, full of fighting men, out of Kent to the country of the East- Angles, for the sake of plunder(*); and, when they had arrived at the mouth of the river Stour(**), immediately thirteen ships of the pagans met them, prepared for battle; a fierce fight ensued, and all the pagans, after a brave resistance, were slain; all the ships, with all their money, were taken.

(*)This expression paints in strong colours the unfortunate and divided state of England at this period, for it shows that the Danes had settled possession of parts of it. In fact, all traces of the heptarchy, or ancient division of the island into provinces, did not entirely disappear until some years after the Norman conquest.
(**)Not the river Stour, in Kent; but the Stour which divides Essex from Suffolk. Lambard fixes the battle at Harwich haven.


After this, while the royal fleet were reposing, the pagans, who lived in the eastern part of England, assembled their ships, met the same royal fleet at sea in the mouth of the same river, and, after a naval battle, the pagans gained the victory. In the same year, also, Carloman, king of the Western Franks, whilst hunting a wild boar, was miserably killed by a large animal of that species, which inflicted a dreadful wound on him with its tusk. His brother Louis [III], who had been king of the Franks, died the year before. These two brothers were sons of Louis, king of the Franks, who had died in the year above mentioned, in which the eclipse of the sun took place; and it was he whose daughter Judith was given by her father's wish in marriage to Ethelwulf, King of the West Saxons. In the same year also a great army of the pagans came from Germany into the country of the ancient Saxons, which is called in Saxon Ealdseaxum(***).

(***)Or, Old Saxons

To oppose them the said Saxons and Frisons joined their forces, and fought bravely twice in that same year. In both those battles the Christians, with the merciful aid of the Lord, obtained the victory. In the same year also, Charles, king of the Almains, received, with universal consent, all the territories which lie between the Tyrrhenian sea and that gulf which runs between the old Saxons and the Gauls, except the kingdom of Armorica, i.e. Lesser Britain. This Charles was the son of king Louis, who was brother of Charles, King of the Franks, father of the aforesaid queen Judith; these two brothers were sons of Louis, but Louis was the son of the great, the ancient, and wise Charlemagne, who was the son of Pepin. In the same year pope Martin, of blessed memory, went the way of all flesh; it was he who, in regard for Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, and at his request, freed the school of the Anglo- Saxons resident at Rome from all tribute and tax. He also sent many gifts on that occasion, among which was no small portion of the holy and venerable cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was suspended, for the general salvation of mankind. In the same year also the army of pagans, which dwelt among the East Angles, disgracefully broke the peace which they had concluded with king Alfred. Wherefore, to return to that from which I digressed, that I may not be compelled by my long navigation to abandon the port of rest which I was making for, I propose, as far as my knowledge will enable me, to speak of the life and character and just conduct of my lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, after he married the above named respected lady of Mercian race, his wife; and, with God's blessing, I will despatch it succinctly and briefly, as I promised, that I may not offend the delicate minds of my readers by prolixity in relating each new event. His nuptials were honourably celebrated in Mercia, among innumerable multitudes of people of both sexes; and after continual feasts, both by night and by day, he was immediately seized, in presence of all the people, by sudden and overwhelming pain, as yet unknown to all the physicians; for it was unknown to all who were then present, and even to those who daily see him up to the present time, -- which, sad to say! is the worst of all, that he should have protracted

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