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202 [202]

King Alfrede. Danes. King Alfrede. Danes.

agaynst the gates of the citie. But by strengh of the citizens, that tower was destroyed, and the citie defended till king Alfrede came and rescued them. Wherby the Danes were so distressed, and so neare trapped: that for feare, they left their horses behinde them, & fled to theyr shippes by nyght. But the king, when he was therof ware: sent after them and toke. xvj. of their shippes, and slew many of the sayd Danes. This done, the king returned to London, and repared the same honourably (as sayth Houedenus) and made it habitable, which before was sore decayed and febled by the Danes.

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Marginalia891.The thyrd yeare after this, which was the. xix. yeare of the reigne of king Alfred: the foresaid Athelstane the Danishe king in Norfolke (which by Alfred was christened before) deceased. Not long after this, about the xxj. yeare of this kings reigne, the Danes agayn landed in. iiij. places of this land: which was, in Eastenglād: in the Northe: and in the Weste, in. ij. places. Before the landing of these Danes, it chaunced king Alfred, hearing of the death of king Athelstane, and of other complaintes of the Danes, was then in Eastengland, when these tidinges came to him.

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When king Alfrede was hereof ascertayned: for so much as some of the Danes were landed in that coast, thinking with themselues the further they went in those parties, the lesse resistence to haue, and the more speede, as they were wont to haue before: Alfrede therfore sending messingers in all haste to Etheldred duke of Mercia, to assemble to him an hoste, to withstand the Danes which landed in the West: made forth toward hys enemyes there where he was in Eastanglia, whom he pursued so sharpely, MarginaliaThe Danes driuen frō Norfolke.that he droue them out from those parties. They then landed in Kent, whether the king with hys people sped hym, & in like maner draue the Danes from thence, without any great fight, so farre as in our autors we can see. After this, agayne the Danes tooke shipping, and sayled into Northwales, and there robbed and spoyled the Britones, MarginaliaThe Danes returne agayne to Norfolke.and from thence returned by the sea into Eastanglia, with an hundreth shippes, and there rested them, for so much the king then was gone Westward.

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The fourth hoste of the Danes, the same yeare came to Chester, which at length they won: but then, the countreys adioyning pressed so sore vpon them, and besieged them so long, kepyng thē selues within the citie, MarginaliaThe Danes driuen out of Chester.that at last the Danes weyried with the long siege, were cōpelled to eate their own horses for hunger. But by appointment, at last they gaue ouer the towne, and went about by Nothwales to Northumberland, which was about the xxiij. yeare of kyng Alfrede: Which Alfrede in the meane while with his host, sped him thytherward. Thē the Danes, leauyng their strong holes and castles garnished with men and vitaile: toke agayne shippyng, and set their course in such wise that they landed in Sussex, and so came to the porte of Lewes: & from thēce toward London, and builded a towre or castell nere vnto the riuer of Ley. xx. mile frō London. But the Londiners hearyng therof, manned out a certayne nōber of men of armes, who with thassistence of them of that countrey, MarginaliaThe Danes driuen frō Lewes.put the Danes from that towre: and after bette it downe to the ground. Soone after the kyng came downe thither, And to preuēt the daungers that might ensue, MarginaliaThe ryuer of Luy deuided in three.commaūded the riuer of Luye to be diuided in iij. stremes: so that where a shippe might sayle in tymes before, then a lytle boate might scantly row. From thence the Danes, leauing their shippes & wiues: were forced to flye that countrey, and toke their way againe toward Wales, & came to Quadruge nere to the riuer of Seuerne. Where vpō þe borders therof, they builded then a castell, their resting them selues for a tyme: whom the kyng Eftsones with his armey pursued. In the meane tyme, the Londiners at Luye takyng the Danes shyppes: some of them theybrought to London, þe rest they fyred. Duryng all these three yeres, frō the first cōming of the Danes to Luye, England was afflicted with iij. maner of sorowes: MarginaliaThree plagues in England.with the Danes: with pestilence of men, & moreine of beastes. They whiche troubles notwithstādyng, yet the kyng māfully resisted the malice of his enemies, and thāked God alway, what trouble so euer fill to hym, or vnto hys realme: and sustened it with great pacience and humilitie. These iij. yeares ouerpast þe next yeare folowyng, which was the xxviij. of þe reigne of Alfrede: MarginaliaAn. 897
The Danes shippes taken.
the Danes diuided their hoste: of whō part went to Northumberland, some to Norfolke, parte sayled ouer to Fraunce, some other came to Weastsexe. Where they had diuers conflictes with the Englishmen, both by land and especially vpon the sea: of whom some were slayne: many by shypwrack perished: diuers were taken and hanged, and xxx. of their shyppes were taken.

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MarginaliaAn. 899Not long after this, kyng Alfred, when he had reigned xxix. yeares, and vi. monethes: chaūged this mortall life. And thus much (& more peraduenture, then wil seeme to this our ecclesiasticall story apperteynyng) touchyng the paynfull labours and trauayles of this good kyng: whiche he no lesse valeantly achyued, then paciently susteined: for the necessary defēce of his realme & subiectes.

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MarginaliaThe vertues & godly lyfe of king Alfrede described. 

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When it came to enumerating the 'vertues & godly lyfe' of King Alfred in this passage, Foxe expanded on his sources to include Fabian's Chronicle (R. Fabyan, The Chronicle of Fabian [London, 1559], book 6, ch. 171) and Ranulph Higden's 'Polychronicon' (J. R. Lumby, ed. Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century [London: Rolls Series, 1879], book 6, ch. 1).

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Now if there be any prynce, who listeth to see and folow the vertuous and godly dispositiō of this kyng: both touchyng the institution of his own life, and also concernyng hys carefull gouernement of the common weale: thus the histories of him do recorde. That what tyme he beyng yong, perceaued hymselfe somewhat disposed to the vice of the flesh, and therby letted from many vertuous purposes: MarginaliaThe inclinatiō of nature corrected in kyng Alfrede.did not as many yong princes, and kinges sons in the worlde be now wont to do: þt is to resolue thē selues into all kynd of carnall licence, and dissolute sensualitie, runnyng and folowing with bridle, whether soeuer their licence geuen doth leade thē (as therfore not without cause the common prouerbe reporteth of them) that kyngs sonnes learne nothyng well els, but onely to ryde. Meanyng therby, that princes and kynges sonnes hauyng about them flaterers, which bolster thē in their faultes: onely their horses geue to them no more, then to any other: but if they sit not fast, they wil cast them. But this yong kyng seyng in hym selfe the inclincation of hys fleshly nature, mindyng not to geue to hym self so much as he might take, but rather by resistence to auoyde the tentation therof: besought God, MarginaliaThe godly petition of kyng Alfrede.that he would send to him some continuall sickenes, in quenching of that vice; wherby he might be more profitable to the publike busines of the commō wealth, and more apt to serue God in his calling. Cestrēs. Lib. 5. cap. 1. Fab. cap. 17.

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For this passage, relating Alfred's struggle with, and eventual cure of the 'ficus' (hemorrhoids), Foxe relied on the account in Ranulph Higden's 'Polychronicon' (J. R. Lumby, ed. Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century [London: Rolls Series, 1879], book 6, ch. 1, p. 357). In Asser's 'Life of Alfred', the affliction was presented as a divine reward to the king to help him to resist carnal desire

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Then at Gods ordinaunce, he had the euill called Ficus, till he came to the age of xx. yeares, wherof at length he was cured (as is said in some stories) MarginaliaModvvennaby the virgin called Modwen, an Yrishwoman. After this sicknes beyng taken away, to him fell an other: which continued with hym from the xx. yeares, of hys age, to xlv (accordyng to his owne petition and request made vnto God) wherby, he was the more reclamed and attempered from other more great inconueniēces, & lesse disposed to that, which he dyd most abhorre.

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Commentary  *  Close

Foxe's account of King Alfred's generous, but carefully distributed patronage, his use of his time, and his role as a legislator relied mainly on the Ranulph Higden's 'Polychronicon' (J. R. Lumby, ed. Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century [London: Rolls Series, 1879], book 6, ch. 1, pp. 361-3), supplemented by William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum (J. S. Brewer, and C. T. Martin, 'William of Malmesbury: Gesta Regum.' In Reigistrum Malmesburiense. The Registor of Malmesbury Abbey, ed. by J.S. Brewer and C.T. Martin 2 vols. (London: Rolls Series, 1869-1880), 1, book 2, ch. 123, pp. 194-5), with some addition from John of Brompton's Chronicle ('Chronicon Johannis Brompton Abbatis Jornalensis.' In Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores X. [....], ed. by Roger Twysden (London, 1652), pp. 814.

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Moreouer to beholde the bountifull goodnes ioyned with lyke prudence in this mā: in the orderyng and disposing his riches and rents, it is not vnworthy to be recited. MarginaliaKing Alured how he deuided his goodes in. ii. partes.
Polychron. lib 5. cap. 1.
Guliel. lib. de regibus.
How he deuided his goods in ij. equal parts: thone apperteinyng to vses secular, thother to vses spirituall or ecclesiasticall. Of the whiche ij. principall partes, the first he deuided into iij. porcions: the first to the behoue of his house and familie, the secōd vpon his workemen and builders of his newe workes, whereof he had great delight & cunnyng: the thyrd vpon straungers. Likewyse the other second half, vpon spiritual vses, he did thus diuide in iiii. porciōs: One to the releuyng of the poore: An

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