Page:The dialect of the southern counties of Scotland - Murray - 1873.djvu/26

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as points of vantage whence to ravage and plunder, with indiscriminate fury, the territories of Saxons, Scots, and Britons. In the south, the rulers of Wessex had been gradually gaining that ascendency over the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which converted the shadowy dignity of Bretwalda into the more tangible authority of king of England, but they also were engaged for nearly a century in a death struggle with the Danes, and it was not until the days of Edward the Elder, the worthy son of the great Alfred, that their hands were sufficiently free in the south to allow of their effective interference north of the Humber. In 924, Edward had reduced to submission the Danish and half-Danish rulers of the northern provinces, and received their allegiance, when, in the words of the contemporary chronicler, there "chose him for father and lord, the king of the Scots [Constantine III.], and the whole nation of the Scots, and Regnald [Danish ruler of York], and [Ealdred] the son of Eadulf [of Bamborough], and all those who dwell in Northan-hymbra-land, as well English as Danes, and Northmen and others, and also the king of the Strathclyde Welsh, and all the Strathclyde Welsh."[1] Thus early began that theoretic recognition of the supremacy of the Bretwalda, or king of England, which another Edward tried to reduce to practice, and which was only finally repudiated at Bannockburn. In the reign of Edward's successor, Æthelstan, Constantine king of the Scots, alarmed at the consolidation of the English dominion, combined, on several occasions with the Welsh, the Northumbrian and Irish Danes, against the Anglo-Saxon monarch, by whom Scotland was in consequence ravaged by land and sea, as far as Caithness. At length Constantine, "the hoary warrior," effected that great alliance of Scots, Danes, Britons, Welsh, and Irish, who invaded England in 937, and were defeated in the famous battle of Brunan-burh, which resulted in establishing more firmly than ever the Anglo-Saxon power in the north.

An event of great importance to the Scottish monarchy occurred in 945, when the English king, Eadmund, having overrun the principality of Cumbria or Strath-clyde, over which the English kings claimed authority as a dependency of Northumbria, but which was too remote to be worth the trouble of keeping, transferred the supremacy to Constantine's successor, Malcolm, on condition of obtaining his aid whenever required for keeping in order his troublesome half-Danish subjects in Northumbria. The rule of the king of the Scots was thus extended south of the Firths, which had hitherto been its boundary, and although the Strathclyde Britons offered a persistent resistance to their incorporation in the Scottish dominion, the union was fully consummated before the close of the century. In pursuance of this engagement we learn that when the Northumbrian Danes re-

  1. And eac Stræcled Weala cyning and ealle Stræcled Weallas.Chron. 924.