Henry of Huntingdon

Historia Anglorum was written by Henry of Huntingdon circa 1129: 

King Athelstan fought at Brunesburh one of the greatest battles on record against Anlaf, king of Ireland, who had united his forces to those of the Scots and Danes settled in England. Of the grandeur of this conflict, English writers have expatiated in a sort of poetical description, in which they have employed both foreign words and metaphors. I therefore give a faithful version of it, in order that, by translating their recital almost word for word, the majesty of the language may exhibit the majestic achievements and the heroism of the English nation.

” At Brunesburh, Athelstan the king, noblest of chiefs, giver of collars, emblems of honour, with his brother Edmund, of a race ancient and illustrious, in the battle, smote with the edge of the sword. The offspring of Edward, the departed king, cleft through the defence of shields, struck down noble warriors. Their innate valour, derived from their fathers, defended their country, its treasures and its hearths, its wealth and its precious things, from hostile nations, in constant wars. The nation of the Irish, and the men of ships, rushed to the mortal fight; the hills re-echoed their shouts. The warriors struggled from the rising of the sun, illuminating depths with its cheerful rays, the candle of God, the torch of the Creator, till the hour when the glorious orb sunk in the west. There numbers felL Danish by race, transfixed with spears, pierced through their shields; and with them fell the Scottish men, weary and war-sad. But chosen bands of the West-Saxons, the live-long day, unshrinking from toil, struck down the ranks of their barbarous foe; men of high breeding handled the spear, Mercian men hurled their sharp darts. There was no safety to those who with Anlaf, coming over the sea, made for the land in wooden ships, fated to die! Five noble kings fell on the field, in the prime of their youth, pierced with the sword; seven earls of King Anlaf, and Scots without number. Then were the Northmen quelled in their pride. For not a few came over the sea to the contest of war; while but a few heard their king’s groans, as, borne on the waves, he fled from the rout. Then was fierce Froda1, chief of the Northmen, Constantine with him, king of the Scots, stayed in his boasting, when corpses were strewed on that battlefield, sad remnant left of kindred bands, relations and friends, mixed, with the common folk slain in the fight; there, too, his dear son was stretched on the plain, mangled with wounds. Nor could Danish Gude2, hoary in wisdom, soft in his words, boast any longer. Nor could Anlaf himself, with the wreck of his troops, vaunt of success in the conflicts of war, in the clashing of spears, in crossing of swords, in councils of wise men. Mothers and nurses wailed for their dear ones, playing the game of ill-fated war with the sons of King Edward.

” The Northmen departed in their nailed barks, and Anlaf, defeated, over the deep sought his own land, sorrowing much. Then the two brothers Wessex regained, leaving behind them relics of war, the flesh of the slain, a bloody prey. Now the black raven with crooked beak, the livid toad, and eagle and kite, the dog and the wolf, with tawny hide, gorged themselves freely on the rich feast. No battle ever was fought in this land so fierce and so bloody, since the time that came hither, over the broad sea, Saxons and Angles, the Britons to rout; famous war-smiths, who struck down the Welsh, defeated their nobles, seized on the land.”