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had requested; and, says the tradition, only survived him fifteen days!
Her long-lost son, Earl Reynburn, who had been stolen away into Russia in his childhood, succeeded the countess in her paternal estates; and here ends my story of Earl Guy of Warwick, and of Warwick Castle.
THE LORDS MARCHERS OF WALES.
UDLOW CASTLE is situated most
beautifully in the county of Shropshire;
and its neighbourhood, besides being very picturesque, is replete with historical associations of all kinds.
It was not far from Ludlow that the pride and glory of ancient Britain, Caractacus the Brave, fought and lost his last battle, the scene of his defeat being seven miles westward of the old for
Such was the bravery of the original inhabitants of our little island, that it took their Roman invaders two hundred years to conquer them entirely; and the Saxons were five hundred years before they succeeded in getting a complete mastery over
the Britons, when their sway had succeeded that of the Roman. The frontier of Wales was often the scene of bloody battles.
The Welsh frontier divided the largest and most important of all the Saxon kingdoms, Mercia, from Wales, or, as it was then called, Britain, by frontier lines extending from the Dee to the Wye; and these boundaries, or 'marches,' are supposed to have been first made by the Saxons in the sixth century.
As you know, the time came when the Saxons, in their turn, felt what it was to be wronged and oppressed by invaders, as, in 878, Britain was inundated by hordes of Scandinavian savages, whose belief in a fierce and bloody religion, if such a name can be applied to heathenism, led them to believe every act of violence, every dead body killed on the battle-field, and every enemy slain, were deeds that were pleasant in the sight of the god they worshipped, and that by such warlike acts they were securing their own happiness in a future state.
Strange, indeed, to us does such a horrible faith appear; but, believing their deity to be one who loved slaughter and destruction, the Danes were
naturally inhuman enemies to the poor Saxons, spreading, where they conquered, nothing but ruin and desolation by means of fire and the sword.
Alfred the Great was the hero who, by his sagacity, rid his country of the Danish race, and who, disguised as a harper, found out the insecurity of their camp, and thus conquered their army; when the heathen general, touched by Alfred's generous treatment of him after his defeat, became a Christian, and was baptized in Alfred's presence, with thirty of his officers.
Mercia was given by Alfred to his son-in-law, Ethelred, who had married his daughter, Ethelfleda, and who, if you recollect, I told you, built the first fortress at Warwick.
This Ethelfleda was one of 'the wisest women in England,' and a great amazon, following by choice the pursuit of war, and governing Mercia till her death, in 920, with great wisdom and prudence.
The Welsh were ever very troublesome neighbours to the English, even after the Norman conquest, though their princes never would acknowledge or admit that the English could have any superiority over Wales.
Accustomed to their own wild mountains and rugged passes, frugal in their habits, and thus able to bear better than their opponents the privations of war, the native Britons who had retreated into Wales not only defied the Saxons and Normans, but would often encroach on the English territory, pillaging, and, if fortune favoured them, taking the English prisoners.
There was no repose or peace near the 'marches of Wales;' and, tired out with the struggle, it was conceded (as a kind of bribe to those nobles who fought for the defence of the frontier) that land acquired by the sword should be held by those who won it.
This privilege, conceded by successive monarchs, originated the title of 'Lords of the Marches,' or 'Lords Marchers of Wales,'-meaning that the winners of land near or beyond the frontier line, thus became owners of that part of the country.
Large garrisons were always kept armed on the frontier, and the Lords Marchers built most of the castles and towns in Wales.
The word 'marches' was a word used to denote a frontier line all over Wales and Britain.