King Alfred of England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about King Alfred of England.

The messengers found the Saxon chieftains very ready to enter into Alfred’s plans.  They were rejoiced to hear, as some of them did now for the first time hear, that he was alive, and that the spirit and energy of his former character were about to be exhibited again.  Every thing, in fact, conspired to favor the enterprise.  The long and gloomy months of winter were past, and the opening spring brought with it, as usual, excitement and readiness for action.  The tidings of Odun’s victory over Hubba, and the capture of the sacred raven, which had spread every where, had awakened a general enthusiasm, and a desire on the part of all the Saxon chieftains and soldiers to try their strength once more with their ancient enemies.

Accordingly, those to whom the secret was intrusted eagerly accepted the invitation, or, perhaps, as it should rather be expressed, obeyed the summons which Alfred sent them.  They marshaled their forces without any delay, and repaired to the appointed place in Selwood Forest.  Alfred was ready to meet them there.  Two days were occupied with the arrivals of the different parties, and in the mutual congratulations and rejoicings.  Growing more bold as their sense of strength increased with their increasing numbers, and with the ardor and enthusiasm which their mutual influence on each other inspired, they spent the intervals of their consultations in festivities and rejoicings, celebrating the occasion with games and martial music.  The forest resounded with the blasts of horns, the sound of the trumpets, the clash of arms, and the shouts of joy and congratulation, which all the efforts of the more prudent and cautious could not repress.

In the mean time, Guthrum remained in his encampment at Edendune.  This seems to have been the principal concentration of the forces of the Danes which were marshaled for military service; and yet there were large numbers of the people, disbanded soldiers, or non-combatants, who had come over in the train of the armies, that had taken possession of the lands which they had conquered, and had settled upon them for cultivation, as if to make them their permanent home.  These intruders were scattered in larger or smaller bodies in various parts of the kingdom, the Saxon inhabitants being prevented from driving them away by the influence and power of the armies, which still kept possession of the field, and preserved their military organization complete, ready for action at any time whenever any organized Saxon force should appear.

Guthrum, as we have said, headed the largest of these armies.  He was aware of the increasing excitement that was spreading among the Saxon population, and he even heard rumors of the movements which the bodies of Saxons made, in going under their several chieftains to Selwood Forest.  He expected that some important movement was about to occur, but he had no idea that preparations so extended, and for so decisive a demonstration, were so far advanced.  He remained, therefore, at his camp at Edendune, gradually completing his arrangements for his summer campaign, but making no preparations for resisting any sudden or violent attack.

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King Alfred of England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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