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by their presence and exhortations. Adelfrid, inquiring the purpose of this unusual appearance, was told that these priests had come to pray against him : 6 Then are they as much our enemies,” said he, “as those who intend to fight against us ;"* and he immediately sent a detachment, who fell upon them, and did such execution, that only fifty escaped with their lives. + The Britons, astonished at this event, received a total defeat: Chester was obliged to surrender and Adelfrid, pursuing his victory, made himself master of Bangor, and entirely demolished the monastery, a building so extensive, that there was a mile’s distance from one gate of it to another; and it contained two thousand one hundred monks, who are said to have been there maintained by their own labor.
Notwithstanding Adelfrid's success in war, he lived in inquietude on account of young Edwin, whom he had unjustly dispossessed of the crown of Deïri. This prince, now grown to man's estate, wandered from place to place, in continual danger from the attempts of Adelfrid ; and received at last protection in the court of Redwald, king of the East Angles ; where his engaging and gallant deportment procured him general esteem and affection. Redwald, however, was strongly solicited, by the king of Northumberland, to kill or deliver up his guest : rich presents were promised him if he would comply, and war denounced against him in case of his refusal. After rejecting several messages of this kind, his generosity began to yield to the motives of interest; and he retained the last ambassador, till he should come to a resolution in a case of such importance. Edwin, informed of his friend's perplexity, was yet determined at all hazards to remain in East Anglia ; and thought, that if the protection of that court failed him, it were better to die than prolong a life so much exposed to the persecutions of his powerful rival. This confidence in Redwald's honor and friendship, with his other accomplishments, engaged the queen on his side ; and she effectually represented to her husband the infamy of delivering up to certain destruction their royal guest, who had fled to them for protection against his cruel and jealous enemies.si Redwald, embracing more generous resolutions, thought it safest to prevent Adelfrid, before that prince was aware of
* Brompton, p. 779.
+ Trivet. apud Spell. Concil. p. 111. Bede, lib. i. cap. 2. W. Malms. lib. i. cap. 3. W. Malms. lib. i. cap. 3. H. Hunting. lib. iii. Bede.
his intention, and to attack him while he was yet unprepared for defence. He marched suddenly with an army into the kingdom of Northumberland, and fought a battle with Adelfrid; in which that monarch was defeated and killed, after revenging himself by the death of Regner, son of Redwald. * sons, Eanfrid, Oswald, and Oswy, yet infants, were carried into Scotland ; ani Edwin obtained possession of the crown of Northumberland.
Edwin was the greatest prince of the Heptarchy in that age, and distinguished himself, both by his influence over the other kingdomst and by the strict execution of justice in his own dominions. He reclaimed his subjects from the licentious life to which they had been accustomed; and it was a common saying, that during his reign a woman or child might openly carry every where a purse of gold, without any danger of violence or robbery. There is a remarkable instance, transmitted to us, of the affection borne him by his servants -Cuichelme, king of Wessex, was his enemy; but finding him. self unable to maintain open war against so gallant and powerful a prince, he determined to use treachery against him, and he employed one Eumer for that criminal purpose. The assassin, having obtained admittance, by pretending to deliver a message from Cuichelme, drew his dagger, and rushed upon the king. Lilla, an officer of his army, seeing his master's danger, and having no other means of defence, interposed with his own body between the king and Eumer's dagger, which was pushed with such violence, that, after piercing Lilla, it even wounded Edwin ; but before the assas. sin could renew his blow, he was despatched by the king's attendants.
The East Angles conspired against Redwald, their king; and having put him to death, they offered their crown to Edwin, of whose valor and capacity they had had experience, while he resided among them. But Edwin, from a sense of gratitude towards his benefactor, obliged them to submit to Earpwold, the son of Redwald ; and that prince preserved his authority, though on a precarious footing, under the protection of the Northumbrian monarch.
Edwin, after his accession to the crown, married Ethel
* Bede, lib. ii. cap. 12. Broinnton, p. 781. + Chron. Sax. p. 27. | W. Malms. lib. i. cap. 3.
burga, the daughter of Ethelbert, king of Kent, This princess, emulating the glory of her mother, Bertha, who had been the instrument for converting her husband and his people to Christianity, carried Paullinus, a learned bishop, along with her ;* and besides stipulating a toleration for the exercise of her own religion, which was readily granted her, she used every reason to persuade the king to embrace it. Edwin, like a prudent prince, hesitated on the proposal, but promised to examine the foundations of that doctrine, and declared that, if he found them satisfactory, he was willing to be converted. Accordingly he held several conferences with Paul. linus ; canvassed the arguments propounded with the wisest of his counsellors ; retired frequently from company, in order to revolve alone that important question ; and, after a serious and long inquiry, declared in favor of the Christian religion ; ; the people soon after imitated his example. Besides the authority and influence of the king, they were moved by another striking example. Coifi, the high priest, being con verted after a public conference with Paullinus, led the way in destroying the images, which he had so long worshipped, and was forward in making this atonement for his past idolatry.Ş
This able prince perished with his son Osfrid, in a great battle which he fought against Penda, king of Mercia, and Cædwalla, king of the Britons. That event, which happened in the forty-eighth year of Edwin's age and seventeenth of his reign, divided the monarchy of Northumberland, which that prince had united in his person. Eanfrid, the son of Adelfrid, returned with his brothers, Oswald and Oswy, from Scotland, and took possession of Bernicia, his paternal king. dom; Osric, Edwin's cousin-german, established himself in Deïri
, the inheritance of his family, but to which the sons of Edwin had a preferable title. Eanfrid, the elder surviving son, fled to Penda, by whom he was treacherously slain. The younger son, Vuscfræa, with Yffi, the grandson of Edwin, by Osfrid, sought protection in Kent, and not finding themselves in safety there, retired into France to King Dagobert, where they died.**
* H. Hunting. lib. iii.
* Bede, lib. ii. cap. 9.
Bede, lib. i. cap. 13. Brompton, Higden, lib. v.
** Bede, lib. i. cap. 29.
Osric, king of Deïri, and Eanfrid of Bernicia, returned to paganism; and the whole people seem to have returned with them ; since Paullinus, who was the first archbishop of York, and who had converted them, thought proper to retire with Ethelburga, the queen dowager, into Kent. Both these Northumbrian kings perished soon after, the first in battle against Cædwalla, the Briton; the second by the treachery of that prince. Oswald, the brother of Eanfrid, of the race of Bernicia, united again the kingdom of Northumberland in the year 634, and restored the Christian religion in his dominions. He gained a bloody and well-disputed battle against Cædwalla ; the last vigorous effort which the Britons made against the Saxons. Oswald is much celebrated for his sanctity and charity by the monkish historians; and they pretend that his relics wrought miracles, particularly the curing of a sick horse, which had approached the place of his interment.*
He died in battle against Penda, king of Mercia, and was succeeded by his brother Oswy, who established himself in the government of the whole Northumbrian kingdom, by putting to death Oswin, the son of Osric, the last king of the race of Deïri. His son Egfrid succeeded him ; who perish. ing in battle against the Picts, without leaving any children, hecause Adelthrid, his wife, refused to violate her vow of chastity, Alfred, his natural brother, acquired possession of the kingdom, which he governed for nineteen years; and he left it to Osred, his son, a boy of eight years of age. This prince, after a reign of eleven years, was murdered by Kenred, his kinsman, who, after enjoying the crown only a year, perished by a like fate. Osric, and after him Celwulph, the son of Kenred, next mounted the throne, which the latter relinquished in the year 738, in favor of Eadbert, his cousin-german, who, imitating his predecessor, abdicated the crown, and retired into a monastery. Oswolf, son of Eadbert, was slain in a sedition, a year after his accession to the crown; and Mollo, who was not of the royal family, seized the crown. He perished by the treachery of Ailred, a prince of the blood; and Ailred, having succeeded in his design upon the throne, was soon after expelled by his subjects. Ethelred, his successor, the son of Mollo, underwent a like fate. Celwold, the next king, the brother of Ailred, was deposed and slain by the people ; and his place was filled by Osred, his nephew, who, after a short l'eign of a year, made way for Ethelbert, another son of Mollo, whose death was equally tragical with that of almost all his predecessors. After Ethelbert's death, a universal anarchy prevailed in Northumberland ; and the people having, by so many fatal revolutions, lost all attachment to their government and princes, were well prepared for subjection to a foreign yoke; which Egbert, king of Wessex, finally imposed upon them.
* Bede, lib. iii. cap. 9.
THE KINGDOM OF EAST ANGLIA.
The history of this kingdom contains nothing memorable, except the conversion of Earpwold, the fourth king, and greatgrandson of Uffa, the founder of the monarchy. The authority of Edwin, king of Northumberland, on whom that prince entirely depended, engaged him to take this step; but soon after, his wife, who was an idolatress, brought him back to her religion ; and he was found unable to resist those allurements which have seduced the wisest of mankind. After his death, which was violent, like that of most of the Saxon princes that did not early retire into monasteries, Sigebert, his successor and half-brother, who had been educated in France, restored Christianity, and introduced learning among the East Angles. Some pretend that he founded the university of Cambridge, or rather some schools in that place. It is almost impossible, and quite needless, to be more particular in relating the transactions of the East Angles. What instruction or entertainment can it give the reader, to hear a long bead-roll of barbarous names, Egric, Annas, Ethelbert, Ethelwald, Aldulf, Elfwald, Beorne, Ethelred, Ethelbert, who successively murdered, expelled, or inherited from each other, and obscurely filled the throne of that kingdom ? Ethelbert, the last of these princes, was treacherously murdered by Offa, king of Mercia, in the year 792, and his state was thenceforth united with that of Offa, as we shall relate presently.
THE KINGDOM OF MERCIA,
Mercia, the largest, if not the most powerful, kingdom of the Heptarchy, comprehended all the middle counties of England; and as its frontiers extended to those of all the other six kingdoms, as well as to Wales, it received its name from that circumstance. Wibba, the son of Crida, founder of the monarchy, being placed on the throne by Ethelbert, king of Kent, governed his paternal dominions by a precarious authority ;