Egg Update Egg-cellent Easter! Eggcellent news! Eggcitement all round at Lowes! Eggs and Intrustion Eggs Spotted! European Tree of the Year — One week down, three to go!! European Tree of the Year — The results are in!! Event — Lantern making workshops and parade Eventful week here with the ospreys Events for October. Everything but peregrine chicks Everything you needed to know about eclipse plumage! Exciting new stuff! Fairy flower Falcon feeding eyasse on near pine tree Falcon hunts and plans for the future, tiercel makes himself look nice! Falcon in Charge!
Fancy working at Loch of the Lowes this summer? Fantastic foraging and where to find food! Feeding time for the two chicks! Finally, our falcon has laid her third egg! First Chick Hatched!!!!! First chick takes to the skies! First fish for our new chick! First fish of the season!
First osprey egg at Lowes! First osprey egg laid at Loch of the Lowes First signs of spring First steps into nature conservation — Could be your year? Fledging videos Fledging! Fox about town Foxy flowers FR3 found! FR3 has left for migration! FR3 ventures into uncharted territory! Fungi Fun! Future of Chatelherault lies in its past Geese galore….! Golden leaves, deer and ducks! Good views of fledgling peregrines on near oak tree Good weather for ducks and fallow deer apparently!
Great grebe photos! Grey Phalarope Growing egg-citement!
PRH Children's by SYINC - Issuu
Guest blog by Lari Don — Hares and riddles, toads and trickery, crows and curses Guest blog: the life of a squirrel observer Hail and Thunder Hairy Hips! Half Way To Hatching? Hatching Closing In? Have you ever heard of a Woodcock Pilot? Have you ever seen a badger? Have you ever seen a Gadwall at the Falls of Clyde? Have you ever seen inside Corra Castle? Have you ever walked along the Clyde Walkway? Have you had any unexpected birds in your garden recently? Have you seen an Orange-tip butterfly? Hello world! How can you help a Hedgehog? How do birds survive winter storms?
How do you take a photograph of 80 thousand geese? How does frogspawn cope with the cold weather? How does our Wildlife cope with Extreme Weather? How Ex-sighting! How far do our birds migrate? I saw a pine marten! In 65 years, do you think children will know what a hedgehog is?
Where is that? Is FR3 on the move? Is it a good idea to ban palm oil? Is it our male? Is it wanderlust for FR3? Jam-packed July on Eigg! Kingfisher Kingfisher mystery in Montrose: continued! Kingfisher sightings Kingfisher versus Sparrow hawk. LF15 — our beautiful female osprey LF15 arrives! LF15 lays a second egg! LF15 returns!!! Look out, chickens about Look to the skies and you might see an osprey! Looking back on our guided bat walk Looking for a new challenge- from retirement to volunteering! Looking for newts under the cover of darkness… Looking for redwings Looking for something to do this November?
Lots of new things to see and do! Migrant birds are on their way! Have you seen an osprey yet? Mud, Glorious mud Muddy caravans.. Muddy prints Mushroom answers! Natural solutions are essential to meeting net-zero emissions Nature is my medicine. Nice weather for ducks! Nomadic redwings Not Another Bird Blog?! Not one but … 2 chicks fledge! Not sure how to identify a nuthatch?
Read on! Oh Deer!! Orca Sightings on Eigg! Osprey season may be coming to an end, but the wildlife is here to stay Osprey Season Preparations Osprey tag, a swoop and a screaming frenzy! Osprey Update: When will the Chicks Fledge? Osprey updates and other sightings! Osprey webcam maintenance Osprey webcam update! Osprey Withdrawals? Ospreys make a splash at Loch of the Lowes. Ospreys on canvas Ospreys on the Way? Ospreys reunited! Ospreys, Grebes and Blue Tits! Otter or other? Otter Tracking Otter watching at Falls of Clyde Ottering Around Our annual nest box monitoring is nearly finished but there are still a few surprises!
Our Boy is Back….. Our female osprey Our first chick has finally hatched!! Our first chick has hatched Our first osprey returns to Loch of the Lowes! Our oldest chick has finally fledged Our ospreys have fledged the nest Our peregrines are ready — are you! Our third chick has hatched at Loch of the Lowes! Our volunteers — The backbone of the reserve! Passing through with flying colours! Peregrines found dead in Motherwell Peregrines spotted near Elsrickle Peregrines still not getting any peace! PH2 has fledged! Pink-footed geese count continued… Plant a tree and help wildlife thrive in your garden!
Planting an edible hedgerow Plenty of goings on Pondamonium! Porridge Anyone? Possible first egg hatching! Protect yourself this Halloween — Plant a rowan tree Protection for our peregrines ramps up as first two eggs are laid! Pull the otter one! Ranger Team ! Ranger team capture a pine marten! Raving About Ravens! Ready and Waiting Ready to Leave the Nest? Really good sightings Recapping of and our foster chicks Recent Events Recent highlights from the Falls of Clyde Recent wildlife sightings — birds, mammals and fungi!
Reserve staff update Reserve update — badgers, butterflies and practical conservation Reserve Update — Fallen trees, a flooded boardwalk and breathtaking waterfalls! Satellite Tracking Project? Scottish Charity of the Year Award — vote for us!! Seal-ed with a kiss! Second egg of the season! Second Egg! Since you are all wonderful advocates for wildlife… Single parent Sitting in a Tree Six things to do this autumn Size does count Skeletons in the woods Slavonian Grebe at Lowes!
So long, and thanks for all the fish! So long, farewell? Soft boiled eggs Some Better News Some rare treats for a bird-watcher! Special visits, special nests and extra special teamwork! Spring is here and so are some of our wild flowers — Part 1 Spring is here and so are some of our wild flowers — Part 2 Spring is here and so are some of our wildflower — Part 3 Spring is here and so are some of our wildflower — Part 4 Spring is here and so are some of our wildflowers — Part 1 Spring is here and so are some of our wildflowers — Part 2 Spring is here and so are some of our wildflowers — Part 3 Spring is here and so are some of our wildflowers — Part 4 Spring is in the Air Spring is in the air Spring scenes in focus for photography competition Springing Into Action Springing into the team in Spring Squirrel Cam Launched Squirrel mania!
Still Waiting! Stoats and sightings Stop badgering me! Stop Press- We have an Egg! Surprises of the breeding season! Sustainability: What Efforts are we Making? The adventurous osprey! The definition of a busy week! The dipper breeding season is about to begin! The ever-changing Montrose Basin The eyasses are a lot more active The eyasses are getting ringed. The eyasses are growing quickly The eyasses are now feeding themselves most of the time. The eyasses have fledged the eyrie this morning The eyasses have…… fledged? The eyasses may soon fledge from the eyrie The eyasses plumage is coming through The falcon has started hunting again The falcon is leaving the eyrie for longer periods of time The falcon stoops down on a heron passing through the gorge The Famous Scots Pine at Loch of the Lowes The final fledging and diving practice!
The first osprey arrival at Loch of the Lowes The first chick has hatched! The first chicks are here!
The first egg is here! Built by Henry Hoare, about , near the probable site of " Egbert's Stone. Attributed to nth century. Plate II. Thurlow Leeds, B. II, Plate V, Nos. Probably late gth or early roth century. Plate V, No. By Hamo Thornycroft, R. Matthaei Paris Chronica Maiora I, p.
Drawn and engraved by Burghers. Engraved by Vertue. Presented in by Jacob, Viscount Folke- stone, in honour of the mythical founder of the College. Alfred, King of the English, was born in the royal 'vill' [villa regia] which is called Wanetinge [Wantage]. Too near to the modern world for the dignity of the classic past, too far removed for the vivid interest of contemporary politics, it presents at first sight little but a dreary vista of civil wars and viking ravages in the realm of action, of childish credulity and gross supersti- 2 Alfred the Truthteller tion in the realm of thought.
It falls between the heroic period of Charlemagne and the romantic era of the Crusades, before the great days of Empire and Papacy, of monasticism and feudalism, a barren waste of years, in which the figure of Alfred, the perfect king, stands out in brilliant relief against a shadowy background of barbaric ignorance and violence. Yet when the shadows are faced they flee away, and the darkness grows luminous, a summer night full of vague promise and suggestion and the faint stirrings of life, haunted by memories of the day that is gone, and by dreams of the coming dawn.
The true significance of the Middle Ages lies, indeed, in the very fact of their "middleness. Behind them lay the philosophy and art of Greece, the law and imperial statecraft of Rome, the stern monotheism of the Jewish dispensation, with its fervour of militant faith, and its splendid oriental poetry and prophecy. Mediaeval Christendom was built up out of the ruins of older civilisations, and thinkers and writ- ers borrowed their material from Graeco- Latin and Judaic antiquity as naturally as architects and sculptors used the columns and stones of pagan Rome in constructing Christian basilicas.
West- ern learning and Eastern fancy, legend and myth, superstition and mystic devotion, the fascination of the unknown and the dread of the infinite, all went to the making of the subtle atmosphere of thought that softened the harshness of the rude practical activities of mediaeval life. Nor were these classic and oriental forms the mere dry bones of a dead society. They came to the mediaeval world filled with living force, moulded and transfigured by Christian idealism.
They gained power and meaning from that hope of a future life and that sense of the mystery of the unseen which, however dimly apprehended, served to lift the men and women of the Middle Ages above their material surroundings, to quicken their imagination, and to kindle their awe and wonder. The history of the past became symbolic of a spiritual future. It was a Christian Empire of which St. Augustine wrote, which Charles the Great tried to revive in visible form.
The Church was the true world- state, the kingdom of God upon earth, a king- dom ruled by two powers, the "holy authority of the Popes" and the subordinate, but divinely in- stituted, authority of Monarchy. The common 4 Alfred the Truthteller aims and sympathies of the Christian faith held together jarring tribes and races in some kind of political unity, in the imperium christianum, Christendom, the community of all Christian people.
Though the phrase "the Ages of Faith" has been used to invest the Middle Ages with an unreal glamour, there can be no doubt that mediaeval society was peculiarly alive to emotional and spiritual appeals, and the importance can hardly be overrated of that chain of events which brought the Western and Northern nations at a critical stage in their development under the sway of the complex religious system of Catholicism. The marvellous organisation of the Catholic Church, with its two branches, Eastern and West- ern, had gathered up into itself the accumulated wisdom of three great civilisations.
Jewish and oriental in origin, it absorbed much of what sur- vived of Greek philosophy, of Roman law and po- litical theory, welded this heterogeneous material into a more or less coherent body of Christian theology, and, through the writings of the Fathers, made that theology the common property of the educated world. This meant that the heathen tribesmen who derived their Christianity from Rome learnt their classical lessons in an ecclesiastical school, with ecclesiastical reservations and expansions, while the sacred books of the Old and New Testament came to them overlaid with a mass of allegorical Europe before Alfred 5 interpretation which recalls early nineteen th- cen- tury methods of Scriptural exposition.
But it meant also that they caught a faint reflection of the beauty of Greek thought and the glow of Eastern passion, and that they, the barbarian conquerors of Rome, received those ideas of polit- ical unity, of authority and disciplined order, which were among the best fruits of Roman Im- perialism. Above all, Latin Christianity, by its very precision and formalism, gave definition to vague yearnings, and laid down clear rules of faith and conduct, a "way of righteousness. At the same time, the influence of Christianity, great as it was, must not be exaggerated. Behind and beneath the imposing fabric of Catholicism, the older beliefs lingered, as, indeed, they linger still.
Christian observances were in many cases the mere setting for pagan rites; primitive su- perstitions were absorbed into orthodox Catholic doctrine, or sank into the magic and witchcraft which the Church persistently but ineffectually condemned. The northern races, moreover, had their own fine traditions of loyalty and courage, their own delicate artistic feeling, and a rich store of imaginative legend, myth, and folk-song.
Christianity assimilated this native culture without destroying it, but not without vitally affecting its 6 Alfred the Truthteller development. Arrested in its natural growth, it entered into combination with Christian elements, to form in course of time a new civilisation in the West, which should be neither barbarian nor Roman, neither heathen nor altogether Christian, but truly Catholic in its reconciliation of opposing forces. A long period of experiment lay between the Empire of the Caesars and its mediaeval successor, the "Roman Empire of the German Nation," and both the dulness and the interest of the ninth century spring from the fact that it falls within this time of transition.
It is dull because the men of the ninth century, bound by the spell of the past, did not yet dare to be themselves, and copied where they might have created. Their theories, borrowed from more advanced civilisa- tions, were somewhat forced and artificial. Their ideals had but little bearing on the realities of their daily experience.
They were inarticulate, too, un- able fitly to express the thoughts that "quivered on their lips," and the difficulty of entering into their inner life is enhanced by the scantiness and poverty of the records they have left. Yet this immaturity has a charm of its own, for it means infinite possibilities of growth and de- velopment. The ninth century, with all its crud- ity, is interesting for its promise of a great future, for its youthful extravagance and hopefulness, for its strange inconsistencies and eager ambitions, for its curious blending of idealism with materi- Europe before Alfred 7 alism.
More especially it is interesting for the strength of the theocratic and ecclesiastical factors in the organisation of society, and for the part which they played in secular politics, both in the West and in the East. The great historian Von Ranke saw the distin- guishing characteristics of the ninth century in the contrast between the two monotheistic the- ocracies, Christendom and Islam, and in their gradual victory over the declining forces of ancient heathendom.
In the East, as in the West, a world- state embodying a creed had arisen, and mediaeval Mohammedanism proved a formidable rival to mediaeval Christianity. The ceaseless struggle between East and West became, in the Middle Ages, a holy war against the enemies of Christ and his Church, and political quarrels were fought out over ecclesiastical ques- tions. The separation of the Western from the Eastern Empire was intimately connected with the separation of the Latin and Greek churches.
Even travel and exploration assumed the religious aspect of pilgrimages to the Holy Land, or to Rome, the "queen of the world," the visible seat and centre of the authority of the Church of the West. The world itself, to ninth-century eyes, might seem to be divided into Christendom and "He- thenesse. Under the supremacy of the newly revived Western Empire were gathered the future kingdoms of France and Burgundy, of Germany and Italy, while England and Ireland, politically isolated, were yet members of the Christian community. Outside that community lay the realm of heathendom, the conquests of Islam, and the still unconquered fastnesses of more primitive beliefs.
Islam, like Christendom, had fallen into two divisions, differing in creed and in politics. Between the two, the Mediterranean Sea swarmed with Saracen pirates, Moslem adventurers and freebooters, who lived by the plunder of Christians. Beyond the Christian and Mohammedan Em- pires, again, stretched a fringe of dim, mysteri- ous barbarism, full, to the mediaeval imagination, of dreadful shapes and monstrous creations : The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders.
Europe before Alfred 9 Fabulous India and "far Cathay," the wild Tartar savagery of the remote North-East, with the mist-enshrouded north-western lands of Slav and Scandinavian paganism, to ultima Thule, and the "sluggish waveless sea which men believe to be the girdle of the earth," contributed their marvels to the store of travellers' tales which gathered about the borders of the known world.
It was from the heathen North that, as the eighth century drew to a close, a new element entered into the political and social life of Western Europe with the beginning of the "Viking Age. The West-Saxon "reeve" gerefa whose death at the hands of the Northern pirates the English Chronicle records "knew not what they were. Some four generations later, when the "Viking Age" proper ended with the cession of Normandy to Rollo, the "pirate duke," the "strangers" had become a recognised and important branch of the western family of European nations.
At the opening of the tenth century, kings and chiefs of Scandinavian race ruled over Russia and the io Alfred the Truthteller greater part of England; Scandinavian colonists lined the shores of the Irish Sea and occupied the islands of the eastern Atlantic from the Hebrides to the Faroes; Scandinavian explorers had passed the Straits of Gibraltar in the South, and had attacked Iceland and discovered Greenland in the far North-West.
If from one point of view the viking expeditions recall the pirate raids of the Saracens in the Medi- terranean, from another they seem to be a continu- ation or revival of the tribal migrations of an earlier age. As in the fourth and fifth centuries the dwellers by the North Sea, Angles and Saxons, Jutes and Frisians, went forth to conquer and settle on the coast of Gaul and in the distant province of Roman Britain, so, more than three hundred years later, the warships of Danes and Goths, Norwegians and Swedes, sailed out from the Baltic lands to plunder the kingdoms of the West.
What is really remarkable about the expansion of the Scandinavian peoples in the eighth and ninth centuries is not so much the novelty of the movement as its magnitude, its extent, and its persistence. Scandinavia had, indeed, been the home of a seafaring race from the dawn of authentic history, "rich," as Tacitus noted, "in ships, in arms, and in men. This was the material out of which the perils and hazards of a life of piracy fashioned a type as characteristic as the Elizabethan "sea- dog," the "sea-king" who "ruled over men, but had no lands," who "never slept beneath sooty roof-beams, and never drank at the ingle-nook.
It is partly to the heroic and romantic nature of the viking movement that the difficulty of accounting for it is due. Not only are trustworthy records scanty, but the few that remain have been 12 Alfred the Truthteller distorted by terror, or transformed by poetic imagination: the terror that added a clause to the Litany: "From the fury of the Northmen, good Lord, deliver us"; the imagination which produced the viking cradle-song: "My mother said they should buy me a boat and fair oars. And so wend to the haven, and cut down man after man"; or the triumphant death-chant of Ragnar Lodbrok in the serpent-pit: "We hewed with the brand!
Laughing I will die. They saw in the incursions of the heathen pirates a judgment of God, a punishment for sin, a fulfil- ment of prophecy. The vikings were "the evil that was to break forth out of the North," foxes that destroyed the chosen vine, wolves that de- voured the fold, waters that flooded the land.
Above all, they were "heathen men," "Gentiles," "a pagan folk. They emphasised the personal note, and made the early raids, like the later invasions, the work of individual heroes, such half -mythical war-leaders as Ragnar Lodbrok and Ivar the Boneless. Europe before Alfred 13 or political circumstances: over-population, social unrest, the revolt of a spirited people against the growing restrictions of settled government. Though there is truth in all these theories, and fate, desire, and necessity may each have had a share in bringing about the viking movement, its immediate cause, as Lappenberg suggested long ago, was probably the Saxon war of Charles the Great, which brought the Danes face to face with the Franks and revealed the riches of Christian civilisation to the Northern plunderers, while the break-up of the Western Empire under Charles the Great's unworthy successors gave them an oppor- tunity of which they were not slow to take ad- vantage.
It is at least certain that the first clearly recorded viking raids on the coasts of England, Ireland, and Frisia coincide with that last quarter of the eighth century when the frontier of Christen- dom was being gradually pushed northwards, and the great King of the Franks was putting the crowning touches to the fabric of empire. In the murder of Godfred, king of the Danes, the protector of the fugitive Saxon chief Widukind, alone prevented a serious war between Franks and Northmen. Charles the Great made peace with Godfred's successor, but the closing years of his life were darkened by fears for the future, and he gave anxious thought to the strengthening of the naval defences of the Empire.
The famous tale of the Emperor weeping for the troubles that were coming on his descendants, as 14 Alfred the Truthteller he watched the viking pirate-ships in the Medi- terranean, embodies a historic truth. Christian imperialism was about to meet pagan tribalism in a desperate and prolonged struggle.
The ninth century was to be a time of storm and stress which has been compared to the "Doom of the Gods" of Northern prophecy, "an age of axes, an age of swords When, in , Charles, the " Great and Orthodox Emperor," was laid to rest in the cathedral at Aachen, the reign of Chaos seemed about to return. His son and successor, Louis the Pious, though accomplished and devout, was too weak a man for the heavy task imposed upon him. A pathetic figure, at odds with his own children and out of touch with the tendencies of the time, he drifted helplessly through a shifting scene of change and chance, of rebellion within and invasion from with- out.
Northmen, Slavs, and Saracens beat against the boundaries of the Empire: discontented sons and ambitious vassals stirred up strife at home. Yet the very dissensions and divisions of actual society served to emphasise the old ideals of peace Europe before Alfred 15 and unity. It was one of the gravest charges against Louis the Pious that he had failed to carry on the work of his father, the Rex Pacificus, and had brought shame and distress upon the Empire. Great principles of conduct and government rose like giant shapes out of the general welter and confusion, only to fall back again into darkness.
Men clung to the dream of political and religious unity, as they clung to the memory of the golden days of Charles the Great. The life of Charles had been a concrete mani- festation of typical Christian kingship, all the more attractive and comprehensible for its bar- baric setting. Henceforth the sovereigns of West- ern Europe would model themselves, consciously or unconsciously, after this pattern, and in so doing they would carry on a still older tradition.
Charles the Great might well stand for the mediaeval conception of the " Happy Emperor" of his favour- ite book, St. Augustine's City of God, and that description of a Christian monarch, enforced by the authority of Roman jurists and of Fathers of the Church, and popularised by the legendary fame of "Charlemagne," became the ideal of all the best statesmen of the Middle Ages. Augustine had taught that the happiness of the ruler lay in just rule, in the fear of God, and in the love of the heavenly kingdom.
He had spiritualised the earthly Rome by linking it with the thought of the " City of God. The continuity of ecclesiastical tradition ex- plains the continuity of mediaeval political theory. It explains also the growing power and influence of the Church, the representative of a consistent purpose and a definite moral standard in a world of capricious impulses and unrestrained license.
Rome was still the symbol of law and order and civilisation for the nations of Western Christendom, but, by an insensible transition, republican and imperial Rome had given place to the city of St. Peter as the goal of their hopes and ambitions. The real strength of the Papacy lay in the spiritual nature of its claim to supremacy, which enabled it to rise superior to the accidents of fortune, even when Rome itself was convulsed by sedition.
Leo III. His four immediate successors had short and in- glorious reigns, and not till Gregory IV. The first few years after the accession of Louis the Pious had not been without promise. Friendly Europe before Alfred 17 negotiation, mission-work, and politic intervention in the dynastic complications of Denmark marked his relations with the Northern nations. The Slavs on the eastern frontier and the Saracens of Spain were held in check, in spite of frequent revolts, and the imperial authority was main- tained in Italy. The Emperor's first fatal mistake was made in , when he took as his second wife the beautiful and gifted Judith of Bavaria, of whom it was said that she governed the kingdom, and turned all men's hearts to her will.
The birth, in , of Judith's son, the future Charles the Bald, was the opening scene of an often-repeated tragedy, the struggle between a scheming stepmother and the jealous children of the first marriage. Ambi- tious courtiers and prelates fanned the flame, until the smouldering intrigues in the Prankish court flared up into civil war. Deprived of authority and again reinstated -, in the year Louis the Pious found himself opposed by the combined forces of his three elder sons, Lothair, Pepin, and Louis "the German.
Though Pepin and Louis, sup- ported by popular sympathy, restored their father i8 Alfred the Truthteller to power in , he never recovered his former position, and in , after the death of Pepin, the Empire was divided between Lothair and Charles, leaving only Bavaria to Louis the Ger- man, and the imperial title and overlordship to the old Emperor. In Louis the Pious died, esteeming himself wretched to end his days in misfortune, yet griev- ing less for his own departure than for the un- certain future of his people.
With his death the unity of the Empire vanished, and the heritage of Charles the Great was torn asunder by his grand- sons. At the battle of Fontanet Fontenoy-en- Puisaye , in , Lothair was defeated by his brothers with great slaughter, and two years later the treaty of Verdun set the seal to the dismem- berment of the Empire and traced the first faint outlines of mediaeval Italy, Germany, and France.
Lothair, as Emperor, ruled over Italy and a long, narrow strip of territory stretching from the mouth of the Rhine to the mouth of the Rhone, and including the two capitals of Rome and Aachen, a "middle kingdom," which took from him the name of Lotharingia. Louis received the eastern kingdom, the land of the East Franks, the later Germany. A clear- sighted contemporary poet, mourning the triple partition of the great united Empire, and the advent of lawless anarchy, noted as a sign of the Europe before Alfred 19 times the division of the sovereign power among petty princes: A kinglet in place of a king: for one realm, broken fragments of kingdoms.
Pro rege est regulus, pro regno, fragmina regni. The centralised imperialism of Charles the Great had, in fact, broken up from its own weight, never to be revived in its integrity. The political system which was destined to replace it, a "feudal system" of administrative landlordism, was, per- haps, better suited to the needs of a period when local and territorial influences were strong, com- munication between different parts of the country was difficult, and the demand for military protec- tion was urgent.
Under the pressure of external invasion and internal necessity, the fragmina regni split into still smaller units, principalities, lordships, "fiefs," of all kinds and sizes, little states within a state. With this process of de- volution and decentralisation went specialisation of function, and the consequent differentiation of organs in the body politic. A territorial, localised, military society would inevitably develop on aristocratic lines.
The governing, fighting class rose, the dependent agricultural class sank, in the social scale. The "strong man armed" kept the city. The weak man "bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute," sacri- ficing freedom for the sake of security. Then there was universal abundance and joy, now there is universal poverty and sadness. Though in Harold of Denmark had submitted to Christian baptism, he was driven from power in the following year, and from onwards the Flemish and Frankish coasts were constantly harried by "pirate-ships," men and women were killed or carried into captiv- ity, convents were sacked, and tribute was exacted.
Louis the Pious made peace with the new Danish King, Horik, and took measures for the defence of the coast, but the troubles that followed his death incited the pirates to fresh efforts. In they sailed up the Seine and plundered Rouen, and in they were in the Loire, ravaging Nantes. The battle of Fontanet had weakened the Franks, though the chroniclers doubtless exag- gerate when they say that their whole strength was exhausted so that they could no longer defend their frontiers.
As the eleventh-century Roman de Ron has it : L pe"rit de France la fleur, Et de Barons tout le meilleur; Ainsi trouverent Paiens terre Vide de gens bonne d conquerre [conquerir]. Europe before Alfred 21 Still, it is not without significance that when, two years after the treaty of Verdun, in , Paris was besieged by the Danes under the viking Ragnar, Charles the Bald could only save his capital by the payment of tribute, a Danegeld of "many a thousand-weight of gold and silver.
Nor was Italy in much better case.
Before his death in , Pope Gregory IV. Saracen pirates pushed up the Tiber, sacked the Roman churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, and rifled the sacred tombs of the Apostles. Peter's by fortifications. The second half of the ninth century, which almost exactly covers the life of King Alfred of England, opened with gloomy prospects, with wars and rumours of war, with famine and rebel- lion, "dissensions of princes and ravages of the heathen," and all the restless turmoil of a transi- tional period.
Remote and isolated in position, cold and sunless in climate, these northern isles were yet fertile enough to tempt the invader, and successive waves of popu- lation had swept across them from the days of the prehistoric tribesmen whose handiwork remains in barrow and dolmen, in stone circle and monolith, whose memory may, perhaps, linger in legends of dwarf and gnome and brownie. The Celts, Goidels, Brythons, or Beiges, who conquered the earlier races, were still a power in the land when Alfred was king, not only in distant Ireland and Scotland, in the hills of Cum- bria and Wales, and the moors of the west, but in the heart of England itself, through intermarriage and survival, through the obscure persistence of peasant stocks, or through the subtle influence of custom and tradition.
On the far-reaching and thorough Celtic settlement had supervened an incomplete and temporary Roman occupation, England before Alfred 23 followed by a lasting but partial Germanic colo- nisation. A political line had been drawn in the first four centuries of the Christian era between the Roman province of Britain and the barbarous north behind the walls of Hadrian and Antoninus. In the fifth and sixth centuries a racial line had further separated "Welshman" from "Saxon. Bede, writing at the beginning of the eighth cent- ury, could describe the five tongues of Britain as English, Welsh, Scottish, "Pictish," and "Book- Latin," the universal language of learning and the Church, of civilisation and of Rome.
While on the Continent the nations of mediaeval Europe were slowly rising from the ruins of the Roman Empire, a number of tribal kingdoms were struggling into existence in that part of Britain which had been conquered by Germanic invaders. Whether the process of political development was one of aggregation or of devolution is matter of dispute. War bands may have grown into tribal kingdoms, and many small kingdoms may have coalesced into a few large states, or again, large but thinly populated states may have split up into small kingdoms, communities within a community.
In any case, the result was the formation of a suc- cession of loosely co-ordinated federations, under over-kings whose authority, dignified by Bede with the name of imperium, qualified them in the Anglo-Saxon vernacular for the title of Bretwalda, 24 Alfred the Truthteller "ruler of Britain. Oswy of Northumbria, who died in , was the seventh Bretwalda. With Egbert's rise to power in the early ninth century, and the almost coincident appearance of the Danes off the British coasts, a new era began in English history.
The ability and energy of the West-Saxon king gave Wessex the supremacy over all England. The Danish wars made that su- premacy permanent. Consolidated by a common danger, stimulated by the enthusiasm of a holy war against the enemies of the Christian faith, and organised by the genius of a dynasty of great rulers, the West-Saxon kingdom stood forth as the leader among the petty English and Anglo-Danish states, until the very name of "Wessex," merged in the wider "England," survived only as an archaism or a historical tradition.
Yet the political unity of England was no sudden growth. To the men of the ninth century local interests were far stronger than national patriotism. King Alfred himself was a Wessex man with Kentish antecedents, born in Berkshire, living nearly all his days south of England before Alfred 25 Thames. Though when he died he could be styled "King of the Anglo-Saxons," or even "King over all Angle-kin," in , when he came to the throne, it was only the "kingdom of the West-Saxons," with Kent and its dependencies, over which he ruled.
The sights and sounds of the South and West of England, the laws and customs, the legends and folk-lore of the southern peoples, must have set their mark deeply on his mind and heart, as they were destined, through him, to in- fluence the whole course of the national develop- ment of England. At the opening of the ninth century, the king- dom of the West-Saxons, even with the under- kingdoms of Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, was but an insignificant principality, though rich and varied in natural resources.
Bounded by the North Sea on the east, the Bristol Channel on the west, and the English Channel on the south, it stretched northward to the Thames valley, and included the modern counties of Essex, Kent Surrey, Sussex, and Hampshire, with the plea- sant west country of Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire, the half-subdued Devonshire, and the still British Cornwall. Whatever the dim beginnings of Wessex may have been, whether the original settlement of the Gewissce, or West- Saxons, was made from Southampton Water, or, as some modern scholars hold, from the Thames valley, by the year their power centred in the country about the ancient Belgic and Roman city 26 Alfred the Truthteller of Winchester Venta Belgaruni , the seat of a bishop and already venerated as a burying-place of kings.
Behind Winchester, Roman roads struck up to the Hampshire Downs and the vale of Thames, and then westward to Bath, or east- ward to London and the Watling Street and the Continental route through Kent, by Rochester and Canterbury, to the port of Dover. South and west of the Kentish uplands and valleys lay the little kingdoms of Surrey and Sussex, crossed by the parallel ranges of the North Downs and South Downs, with the great forest of Andred, the Andredesweald, between them.
Sussex and Surrey were probably colonised by tribes of Saxon stock, but Kent, the southern coast of Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight seem to have been conquered by men of Jutish blood, distinct in race, in speech, and in customs, a fact which was not without importance in later West-Saxon history. The reputed founders of the royal house of Wessex, Cerdic, who bears a British name, and his son Cynric, are figures as unsubstantial as Hengest and Horsa, the traditional leaders of the Jutish invasion of Kent.
The earliest extant ver- sion of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a Winchester book, naturally enough dwells on the exploits of these West-Saxon pioneers, and works the legends and tales that grew up round their names into a series of hopelessly contradictory annals. A more historical king of the West-Saxons is Ceawlin, son of Cynric, the second Bretwalda, the victor in that England before Alfred 27 sixth-century battle of Deorham which gave the West-Saxons the Romano-British towns of Glou- cester, Bath, and Cirencester, and the surround- ing districts, and carried their power to the Bristol Channel.
In the seventh century the political supremacy passed to Kent, to East Anglia, and to Northum- bria, while Wessex, weakened by constant war, sank into a subordinate position. Not until did the southern kingdom once more rise into prominence under Ceadwalla, a descendant of Ceawlin, a Christian king with a Welsh name, who fought his way to the throne, reigned for three stormy years, conquered the Isle of Wight, ravaged Sussex and Kent, and then, in a fit of devout contrition, resigned his crown and went on pilgrim- age to Rome. He was succeeded by his kinsman Ine, one of the most noteworthy of the early West- Saxon kings.
Before he, too, quitted the world to die in retirement at Rome, he had given Wessex that famous collection of "dooms" or customary laws, which was destined to be incorporated, after an interval of more than a century and a half, in the "code" of Alfred the Great. Even when he died in , his son- in-law Beorhtric continued to govern Wessex as an under-kingdom of Mercia till his sudden death in Then, if the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may be trusted, Egbert "took" the West-Saxon king- dom, not to relax his hold upon it until his own death thirty-seven years later, when he had added to his original dominions the kingdoms of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Mercia, and East Anglia, and the nominal suzerainty over Northumbria.
As the first ruler of a united England before the storm of Danish invasion tore asunder once more the ill-consolidated tribal kingdoms, as the grandfather of Alfred the Great, and the founder of the West-Saxon royal house, Egbert has won a fame which is hardly warranted by the sober testimony of fact. A few entries in the Win- chester Chronicle, a few charters, some coins, a doubtful genealogy, the attribution of the mys- terious title of Bretwalda, the records of victories which have left a faint echo in folk-song, these are all the traces that actually remain of a king of whom by the fifteenth century the story could be told that in the first year of his reign he held a Parliament at Winchester and with the consent of his people changed the name of his kingdom from Britain to England.
The fragmentary annals of the period reveal, indeed, a scene of confusion in the tribal states England before Alfred 29 of England which might well be utilised by a young man of ability for his own aggrandisement, and if, in the uncertainty of our knowledge, Egbert can hardly be called an adventurer, he was at least a pretender, with pretensions, apparently, to the thrones of both Kent and Wessex. The ancient West-Saxon royal genealogy traces Egbert's pater- nal ancestry to Ingild, brother of Ine, through whom he is linked with the kin of Cerdic, the royal stock of Wessex.
Egbert is said to have been the son of Ealhmund, the son of Eafa or Eaba, the son of Eoppa, the son of Ingild. If Ingild, Eafa, and Eoppa are only a shade less mythical than the demigods and heroes from whom the house of Cerdic derived its descent, there is some evidence for the existence of Ealhmund, Egbert's reputed father. An Ealhmund is mentioned in a late Canterbury copy of the Chronicle as having been king of Kent about Certain coins of an Egcberht rex, min- ted by Udd, and by Babba who also struck money for the Mercian kings Offa and Coenwulf and for the Kentish usurper Eadberht Praen , suggest that Egbert, too, may have reigned for a short time as a vassal king of Kent.
A series of fairly well-attested charters connected with Christchurch, Canterbury, further show Offa 30 Alfred the Truthteller revoking Kentish land-grants made by rex Egc- berhtus, and the Chronicle tells how Offa and his son-in-law Beorhtric of Wessex drove Egbert for three years from England into "Frank-land.
He may have repre- sented the old royal stock to which, apparently, Eadberht Praen, the apostate priest who led the final struggle against Mercia, claimed to belong. Whether he took part in that struggle, which broke out on Offa's death in and lasted till , is, however, uncertain.
The date of his exile cannot be precisely fixed, though it must have begun after , the year of Beorhtric's marriage to Offa's daughter, and before the death of Offa in In any case, it fell within the reign of Charles the Great, and there is no reason to reject the interesting tradition, emphasised by William of Malmesbury, of the influence of the Carolin- gian civilisation on Egbert's later career. Of that career little enough is known.
The Chronicle briefly notes Egbert's accession to the throne of Wessex, but his kinship with the house of Cerdic can only be traced through Ine's brother, the shadowy Ingild. Even his hereditary pos- sessions in Hampshire, which are often taken as evidence of his West-Saxon descent, were on either side of the river Meon, in that Jutish district which in race and history was more in sympathy England before Alfred 31 with Kent than with Wessex. Eleven years later, in , his victory over the men of Devon at Gafulf ord left him free to turn against Mercia, now weakened by the civil war which had followed the death of Coenwulf, Offa's successor.
The battle of Ellandun, where Egbert defeated the Mercian King Beornwulf, though its site is disputed, was famous enough to be celebrated in an English song which may still be traced in the rhythmic Latin prose of Henry of Huntingdon. Egbert at once sent his son Ethelwulf, Alfred's father, into Kent, with the bishop of Sherborne, the ealdorman of Hampshire, and a "great host. Ethelwulf now became under- king of Kent, while the East-Anglians in turn revolted from Mercia, and after slaying their overlord Beornwulf in battle, sought Egbert as "peace giver and protector.
But too much must not be made of the unity achieved with such apparent ease. England was still merely a loose bundle of petty states, held together by one strong and successful warrior. Already, too, the cloud was gathering which was soon to burst over the country and sweep away all signs of a premature federation.
The year to be corrected to is marked in the earliest extant manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle by the ominous entry: "Here the heathen men harried Sheppey. In , an alliance between the Cornish men and the Danes threat- ened Wessex with a new and terrible danger, from which Egbert's great victory at Hengestesdune Kingston Down , near Plymouth, delivered his kingdom. A year later, in , he died, and Ethel- wulf , his eldest son, succeeded to the West-Saxon throne, while his younger son Athelstan became under-king of Kent, Essex, Surrey, and Sussex.
The death of Egbert, and the beginning of the England before Alfred 33 struggle with the vikings which was destined so profoundly to affect English political and social history, are turning-points which invite a backward glance at that older England into which Alfred was born, but which his children were only to know under changed conditions. Any attempt to reconstruct the English society of the ninth century must go back to earlier re- cords, to archaeological remains, to the history of Bede, the annals of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the laws and charters, the letters and documents, the poems and lives of saints, which incidentally throw light on customs and traditions.
Even so, the light is but dim and uncertain.
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It might be said of Alfred's age as an old biographer wrote of the life of Alfred himself: "The Pieces we have being mangled. Anglo-Saxon society was a country society, rooted in the soil, occupied chiefly with agriculture, living on and by the land. Per- haps this very fact may help us to get near to the true spirit of the past, for there is a quiet conser- vatism in Nature which is reflected in the conti- nuity of economic custom.
The rude forefathers of the hamlet live again in their remote descen- dants, whose toilsome days are still bound up with the unceasing course of summer and winter, seed- time and harvest. The English towns were ecclesiastical or military centres, royal residences, markets for the produce of the countryside, but they were comparatively few and unimportant. There was nothing in England to rival the splendour of Rome, or Aachen, or even Paris. Laws and charters reveal a rustic people, observant of natural features, marking their boundaries by river and hill, by the "broad oak," or the "withy-mere" which had caught their eye and fancy, tending their pigs in the forest, where the sound of the axe felling timber rang through the clearings, or following the heavy plough drawn by its team of patient oxen, across the wide expanses of hedgeless fields, cut up into strips by "balks," or banks of turf, overgrown with wild flowers and grasses.
The life of rural communities rises up before us as we read, of village and hamlet, of lonely homesteads, and monasteries set in solitary places, of the lord's hall and the peasant's hut; a sim- ple life, limited in its demands and outlook, but wholesome and vigorous, and all the more intense for its very narrowness. These hard-working farmers and shepherds were also great fighters, mighty hunters, valiant trenchermen, feasting without restraint when occasion offered, drinking deep of ale and mead, and repenting with equal thoroughness when fines had to be paid for brawl- ing in their cups, or when the fiery denunciations THE RING OF ALHSTAN In the Victoria and Albert Museum England before Alfred 35 of the "mass-priest" woke their imagination with the terrors of the Day of Judgment.
Other figures also flit across the scene, the merchant, the "Welshman," the stranger, the fugitive, and the serf, while the land- grants mirror the face of the country and the manner of cultivation, the brooks and meres, fords and bridges, oaks and thorns, "gores" and "lynches. From early manuscripts, casual notices of dress or armour, and the mouldering relics in Anglo- Saxon graves, we can picture kings and warriors, bishops and monks, high-born ladies and rough 1 The "churl" and "boor," or peasants.
Both are common terms in con- nection with the "open-field" system of cultivation. Language and literature suggest a brave and loyal folk, tinged with the fatalistic melancholy that is born of grey skies, and the relentless cold and darkness of northern winters, but responsive to the thrill of mystery and the charm of natural beauty. We see a world where men went in dread of demons and monsters, ghosts and witches, where their fancy played round the birdlike ship breasting the foam-flecked sea, the "whale's road," the "swan's road," and their eyes were quick to note the green of grassy headlands against brown furrows, the pale shining of water, or the fitful gleam of armour and weapons.
We hear in their poetry, as they heard, the call of the cuckoo in spring woods, the croak of the raven, the bird of war, as it hovered over the battle-field, and the "dreadful evensong" of the wolf. Yet the soul of the people remains unrevealed. Who shall tell us what these thegns and ladies who lie beneath their grassy barrows, with sword and shield, jewels and treasure, beside them, really thought and hoped when they walked in the England before Alfred 37 sunshine?
Was the ceorl, in the days when he was no cold constitutional abstraction, but a warm- blooded human being, a mere savage, or an un- lettered but not altogether uncivilised peasant, slow to understand, but tenacious of grip, and with some dim perception of the meaning of liberty and independence? There is no answer.
This long-past age lies in an enchanted sleep, en- tangled in a maze of controversy, waiting for the magic touch that shall kindle it to life. Mean- while, it is at least possible to piece together from scattered fragments the external framework of the social organisation. Though the primitive democracy of the older school of constitutional historians must be rejected as based on insufficient evidence, it is probable that in the eighth and ninth centuries many of the village groups in England were independent lord- less communities, learning through local politics the wider lessons of freedom and equality in a well-balanced state.
Many other villages, however, were already under the rule of lords, lay or eccle- siastical. In both types, free and dependent, the same system of cultivation would obtain. The peasant proprietor, the lord's "man," and the lord himself all held strips of arable land in the open fields, with a proportionate share in meadow, wood, and waste. The arable was tilled, as a rule, by ploughs drawn by a yoke of four, six, or eight oxen, though a team of two oxen was not uncom- mon. The full eight-oxen team would be pro- 38 Alfred the Truthteller vided by combination among the villagers, where no one landholder was sufficiently wealthy to bear the whole expense.
A rotation of crops and fallow in successive years was observed in cultivation, most frequently either in simple alternation, corn one year and fallow the next, or in a threefold course of "winter corn," wheat or rye, "spring- corn," barley or oats, and fallow. There is evidence in the "land-books" or char- ters that this kind of common cultivation and joint holding with individual rights in the separate strips was older than the ninth century.
Agri- cultural co-operation was, in fact, the natural result of economic and climatic conditions which made the tillage of the soil costly and laborious. A heavy soil meant a heavy plough with a normal team of eight oxen, and this was as much beyond the means of the average ninth-century peasant as a steam-plough is beyond those of his twentieth- century successor.
The village generally formed a nucleus for the open fields, two, three, or four in number, which lay around it, while beyond stretched the meadow-land, the woods and copses, and the uncultivated wastes and commons. In hilly pastoral country, the village settlements seem to have been replaced by a more isolated way of life, in scattered homesteads and hamlets, but in the villages proper the houses clustered thickly together, so that the word "neighbour," the "near gebur" or "boor," acquired a new mean- ing of social obligation, and duty to a man's England before Alfred 39 neighbour came to be ranked next to his duty to God.
Before the middle of the eighth century, as the writings of Bede and the laws of the later Kentish kings and of Ine of Wessex show, English society was marked by definite class divisions. The wooden huts of the straggling village street, the homes of "churl" ceorl and "boor" gebur , must often enough have been dominated by the more pretentious "hall" of the thegn or ealdorman, with its belfry and its wide gates.
All over the country, too, an ecclesiastical aristocracy was springing up. More and more the parish church became the centre and meeting-place of the village, while endowments were lavished by kings and nobles on the great monastic houses, grants of land and jurisdiction, and of immunity from secular service, which gave the clergy a privileged posi- tion, and at the same time involved them in worldly affairs.
Ecclesiastical provisions, regulations as to the conduct of priests and monks, the observ- ance of Sunday and the payment of tithes, fill a large space in the laws, the foundation of monas- teries and the appointment of bishops are as prominent in the annals as the victories and succession of kings, and stories of miracles and wonder-working relics play an important part in popular literature. The high ecclesiastics were influential, also, in the work of government, but here they shared their power with the lay nobles and officials. Every point, alike in central and in local government, has been made the occasion for disputes which need not be repeated here.
There is too little direct evidence to warrant a positive conclusion, but the local village groups appear to have been linked, however slightly, to the central authority, by means of at least two intermediate administrative units, the hundred or its prototype, and the shire. The shires were under the rule of ealdormen, who, with the king's thegns and the higher clergy, regular and secular, formed the inner circle of witan, or wise men, whose signatures were appended to charters, and who acted as a deliberative and advisory royal council, with powers that varied with the varying strength of the monarchy.
Though the West-Saxons, in common with the other Germanic conquerors of England, recognised kingship as the normal form of government, in the eighth and ninth centuries their kings were, to some extent, held responsible to the people. Ine, Offa, and Egbert, if they were touched by the autocratic influence of Roman Imperialism, inter- preted Roman theory by Germanic traditional practice.
The king was chosen from the sacred stock which claimed kindred with the tribal gods and heroes, but there was acknowledgment, even in this limited right of selection, of the official character of kingship, a character on which the England before Alfred 41 Christian Church laid stress, while the solemn coronation oath implied a mutual compact be- tween king and people. The political theory of the early Germanic states was a strand woven of the three threads of tribal tradition, Roman Imperialism, and Christ- ianised Judaism.
If the Mercian or West-Saxon king regarded himself as, like Saul, "the Lord's anointed," king "by the gift of God," if, like the Caesars, he issued coins and used sounding titles, there was still much of the half -barbarous chief- tain about him. In actual dignity and position he differed from his subjects rather in degree than in kind.
He had royal demesnes, scattered over the country, and a right to take food-tribute on his progresses. A heavy fine was exacted for contempt of his authority, or for injury to his person, while he could grant to communities and individuals a special peace, protected by severe penalties. Yet, despotic though he might be in practice, in theory his power was limited, not only by the advice of his council, but by the almost sacred nature of the customary law, the inherited wisdom of the race, beyond and above any indi- vidual man, a thing to be reverenced and guarded, and not lightly tampered with.
It was these laws, "dooms," or customs which were "declared" and "interpreted" in the courts of justice, central and local, by king or ealdorman, by thegn or reeve, or, if needful, by the freemen who constituted the court. They formed an 42 Alfred the Truthteller archaic body of law, in which a man's legal status was determined by a wergild, the price paid for his life to his kindred, where the kindred were the avengers of blood, and the individual was but a unit in a family group.
In this system men were classed as twelfhynde, those with a wergild of twelve hundred shillings, sixhynde, with a six hundred shilling wergild, and twyhynde, with a wergild of two hundred shillings. The twelfhynde and twyhynde classification seems to have been used much as we use "gentle and simple," to cover the whole free population ; it corresponded roughly to the old division into "eorl and ceorl," noble- man and commoner.
There was nobility of blood; a man could be born into the ranks of the eorls, and apparently also into the class of gesiths or thegns. There was an official nobility, too, dependent on service. The king's favour could raise a man to the rank of ealdorman, with all that it implied of high wergild and dignified position, and the "king's thegns" seem to have owed special services to their royal lord. Or, again, men could "thrive," or rise in the social scale by merit or good fortune.
A ceorl could become a king's thegn, or even an eorl; amongst freemen there were no hard and fast class barriers; all were "lawful men," with wergild and kindred, legal rights and obligations duly proportioned to their respective grades in the social hierarchy, distinguished alike by privilege and responsibility from the servile class of theows England before Alfred 43 or slaves, who were personally unfree, and required a definite act of manumission to raise them to the ranks of freemen. The chief public obligations which the freemen of the early English state were called on to meet were, doubtless, the payment of tribute, the en- forcement of justice, and the defence of the king- dom.
The food-rents and services by which a tribal king or chief was in great measure main- tained, go back to very early times. The primi- tive king travelled from one royal tun or " vill" to another, "eating up his rents" as he went, feasting in barbaric state in his simple hall, hunting in his forests, dispensing a rude justice to the neighbour- hood, and then passing on, with wife and children, courtiers and servants, goods and chattels, to his next halting-place. Justice was further administered by those local courts of which only dim and fleeting glimpses can be obtained.