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YEAR 797A.D.

Letter from Alcuin to the people of Kent to unite against the invading Danes

From Readings in English History, by Edward P. Cheyney; Ginn and Company; Boston; 1922; pp. 56-7
[The internal conflicts among the Angle and Saxon tribes, which had been constant almost from the time of the settlement, continued even while they were all alike suffering from the storms of the Danish invasion. The learned Englishman, Alcuin, who was now at the court of Charles the Great, wrote the following letter to the Kentishmen warning them against their disunion and contest in church and state, in the face of this threatening invasion. From Haddan and Stubbs, Vol. III, pp. 510.]

38. Alcuin
to the people
of Kent (797)
     To the most excellent nation and praiseworthy people and to the imperial kingdom of the people of Canterbury, the humble Alcuin sends greeting.

     . . . A very great danger threatens this island and the people dwelling in it. Behold a thing never before heard of, a pagan people is becoming accustomed to laying waste our shores with piratical robbery; and our own people, the Angles, are disagreeing among themselves as to kingdoms and kings. There is scarcely any one, a thing which I do not say without tears, found of the ancient lineage of kings, and the more uncertain the origin the less the bravery. In like manner throughout the churches of Christ teachers of truth have perished; almost all follow after worldly vanities and hold the regular discipline in aversion: even their warriors desire avarice rather than justice. Read Gildas, the wisest Briton, and you will see why the parents of the Britons lost their kingdom and fatherland; then 58 consider yourselves and you find things almost the same. Fear for yourselves the statement of the very truth which has been given in regard to the church, saying, „Every kingdom divided against itself will not stand.š Behold how great a division there is between the people and the tribes of the Angles; and on this account they are failing in their duty to themselves, because they do not preserve among themselves peace and faith. Recall, if it may be done, your bishop, Adelhard, a man wise and venerable; strengthen then the state of your kingdom by his advice, removing the customs displeasing to God; study to do those things which will tend to call upon you his mercy. It is not well that the seat of St. Augustine, our first preacher, should remain vacant; no one else can in any way be ordained in Adelhard‚s place. It is ruinous to people everywhere not to obey the priests and to drive out from the midst the preachers of safety. Subject yourselves humbly to your bishop, the minister of your safety, that divine grace may follow you in all your works. Believe me, in no other way can you retain God‚s favor to you; through him you can, An appeal
for unity and
against the
I believe, have peace, and hope for eternal safety. Enter into a plan for your prosperity, act manfully, and you will find it well; turn to entreaties, prayers, and fasting, that divine mercy may be gained for you, that it may preserve you in peace and safety, that it may grant to you a safe dwelling in your fatherland and a glorious kingdom in the eternal home. O worthy and venerable brethren, may the right hand of God Omnipotent protect and rule over you, and may it deem you worthy of being exalted in present happiness and eternal bliss.

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