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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.

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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER
The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.
page 437



who were just arriving off England, he took one, and put all the rest to flight. A.D. 876. The wicked army of the unbelievers left Cambridge by night, and marched into the country of the West Saxons, and took up their position in a camp which they occupied at Wareham. There is there a monastery of religious nuns between the two rivers Jfrane and Crentf, in the county of Dorset, built in a most secure situation, because it has no land joining it, except on the western side. But when king Alfred heard of their arrival, he immediately marched to meet them, and marshalled his forces to give them battle. Bat the pagans, fearing to encounter him in battle, chose rather to give hostages, and so to procure a respite until they might be reinforced by a stronger army, so as to be able to support the weight of the contest in an equal scale. Moreover, they swore that they would immediately depart from the kingdom of the West Saxons ; but, according to custom, they endeavoured to practise their accustomed treachery, and breaking the treaty, they one night made a secret attack, and slew all the cavalry of the king. And, having done this, they marched to the city of Exeter. Then .king Alfred, having assembled an army, pursued them ; but, because they had already entered the city, he allowed them to winter there. The same year, the Danish king, Halden, occupied Northumberland, and divided it among himself and his soldiers, and caused it to be cultivated by his army. Then the king of that province, by name Ricsius, being worn out mternally with grief of heart, died, and was succeeded by Egbert. A.D. 877* The wicked army of pagans, at the approach of the autumn season, divided, and part established itself in Exeter, while a part retired to ravage Mercia. And the number of the wicked increased every day to such an extent, that if thirty thousand of them were slain one day, others came the next day in redoubled numbers. Then king Alfred ordered cyuls and gaUies, that is to say, shipe of war, to be built throughout his kingdom, in order to encounter the enemy as they arrived, in a naval battle ; and having put some pirates on board of them, he entrusted to them the guardianship of the paths of the sea. But he himself marched in a hostile manner to Exeter, where the pagans were wintering, and having shut them in, he blockaded the city. And he gave charge to his sailors to watch their portion of the sea, so as to cut off


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