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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 458



attack them. Bat they committed piracy at one time as cavalry, and at another time as infantry, invading those districts where they knew that the army of the king was not. However, the king constantly encountering them with unexpected attacks, thinned their ranks with repeated slaughter. On which account, they quitted Kent, and fled to Hastein, their fellow-countryman, who had established his winter quarters at Middleton (Milton). But the king pursued them gallantly, and did not give over the pursuit till he had driven them by force, with Hastein, that most cruel Dane, into the small town which Hastein himself had lately built in that place. And when Alfred arrived there, he blockaded the town, and hemmed it in ; and erecting machines all round, he laboured to reduce it. But Hastein, the Dane, abandoning all hope of resistance, began to devise by what means he might deceive the most merciful king, by his fraudulent acts. Accordingly, sending messengers to the king, he promised, by oaths and by offers of hostages, that he would, for the future, desist from harassing him and the kingdom of England, if he might be allowed to depart in peace ; and moreover, for greater security, he sent to the king his two sons, who were children, that he might, if he pleased, consecrate them with the sacraments of the faith and of baptism. Then that most pious king, who was always more eager to deliver the souls of the pagans than to slay them, granted their request. And the boys, having been regenerated at the sacred font, he permitted their father Hastein, with all the other infidels, to depart in peace, according to the covenant that had been made. A.D. 894. King Alfred marched with a large army against the pagans, who, as we have already said, had landed at the mouth of the river Lea, and who now, having divided their forces, were endeavouring to subdue all the provinces of that district. And when the king had reached the place, he threw himself, with his army, between the two armies of the pagans, so that, if by chance they should leave their position among the woods and determine to seek the plains, he might at once march against them. But when the barbarians, worn out with a long period of hunger and scarcity, found they were making no progress, but were rather losing ground, they intreated their countrymen, who had lately landed in Essex, to join them, that then, being reinforced by werful army, they might be able the more easily to withstand the attacks of VOL. I. ο α


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