Книга Famous Men of The Middle Ages. Содержание - Henry the Fowler King from 919-936 A.D.

For many months he wandered through forests and over hills to avoid being taken by the Danes. He sometimes made his home in caves and in the huts of shepherds and cowherds. Often he tended the cattle and sheep and was glad to get a part of the farmer's dinner in pay for his services.

Once, when very hungry, he went into the house of a cowherd and asked for something to eat. The cowherd's wife was baking cakes and she said she would give him some when they were done.

"Watch the cakes and do not let them burn, while I go across the field to look after the cows, " said the woman, as she hurried away. Alfred took his seat on the chimney-corner to do as he was told. But soon his thoughts turned to his troubles and he forgot about the cakes.

When the woman came back she cried out with vexation, for the cakes were burned and spoiled. "You lazy, good-for-nothing man!" she said, "I warrant you can eat cakes fast enough; but you are too lazy to help me bake them."

With that she drove the poor hungry Alfred out of her house. In his ragged dress he certainly did not look like a king, and she had no idea that he was anything but a poor beggar.


Some of Alfred's friends discovered where he was hiding and joined him. In a little time a body of soldiers came to him and a strong fort was built by them. From this fort Alfred and his men went out now and then and gave battle to small parties of the Danes. Alfred was successful and his army grew larger and larger.

One day he disguised himself as a wandering minstrel and went into the camp of the Danes. He strolled here and there, playing on a harp and singing Saxon ballads. At last, Guthrum (Guth'-rum), the commander of the Danes, ordered the minstrel to be brought to his tent.

Alfred went. "Sing to me some of your charming songs, " said Guthrum. "I never heard more beautiful music." So the kingly harper played and sang for the Dane, and went away with handsome presents. But better than that, he had gained information that was of the greatest value.

In a week he attacked the Danish forces and defeated them with great slaughter in a battle which lasted all day and far into the night. Guthrum was taken prisoner and brought before Alfred.

Taking his harp in his hands, Alfred played and sang one of the ballads with which he had entertained Guthrum in the camp. The Dane started in amazement and exclaimed:

"You, then, King Alfred, were the wandering minstrel?"

"Yes, " replied Alfred, "I was the musician whom you received so kindly. Your life is now in my hands; but I will give you your liberty if you will become a Christian and never again make war on my people."

"King Alfred, " said Guthrum, "I will become a Christian, and so will all my men if you will grant liberty to them as to me; and henceforth, we will be your friends."

Alfred then released the Danes, and they were baptized as Christians.

An old road running across England from London to Chester was then agreed upon as the boundary between the Danish and Saxon kingdoms; and the Danes settled in East Anglia , as the eastern part of England was called.

Years of peace and prosperity followed for Alfred's kingdom. During these years the king rebuilt the towns that had been destroyed by the Danes, erected new forts, and greatly strengthened his army and navy.

He also encouraged trade; and he founded a school like that established by Charlemagne. He himself translated a number of Latin books into Saxon, and probably did more for the cause of education than any other king that ever wore the English crown.

Henry the Fowler King from 919-936 A.D.


About a hundred years had passed since the death of Charlemagne, and his great empire had fallen to pieces. Seven kings ruled where he had once been sole emperor.

West of the Rhine , where the Germans lived, the last descendant of Charlemagne died when he was a mere boy. The German nobles were not willing for any foreign prince to govern them, and yet they saw that they must unite to defend their country against the invasions of the barbarians called Magyars (ma-jarz'). So they met and elected Conrad, duke of Franconia , to be their king.

However, although he became king in name, Conrad never had much power over his nobles. Some of them refused to recognize him as king and his reign was disturbed by quarrels and wars. He died in 919, and on his death-bed he said to his brother, "Henry, Duke of Saxony, is the ablest ruler in the empire. Elect him king, and Germany will have peace."

A few months after Conrad's death, the nobles met at Aix-la-Chapelle and elected Henry to be their king.

At this time it was the custom in Europe to hunt various birds, such as the wild duck and partridge, with falcons. The falcons were long-winged birds of prey, resembling hawks. They were trained to perch on their master's wrist and wait patiently until they were told to fly. Then they would swiftly dart at their prey and bear it to the ground. Henry was very fond of falconry and hence was known as Henry the Fowler, or Falconer.

As soon as the other dukes had elected him king a messenger was sent to Saxony to inform him of the honor done him. After a search of some days he was at last found, far up in the Hartz Mountains , hunting with his falcons. Kneeling at his feet, the messenger said:

"God save you, Henry of Saxony. I come to announce the death of King Conrad and to tell you that the nobles have elected you to succeed him as king of the Germans."

For a moment the duke was speechless with amazement. Then he exclaimed:

"Elected me king? I cannot believe it. I am a Saxon, and King Conrad was a Frank and a bitter enemy to me."

"It is true, " replied the messenger. "Conrad, when dying, advised that the nobles should choose you as his successor."

Henry was silent for while and then he said, "King Conrad was a good man. I know it now; and I am sorry that I did not understand him better when he was alive. I accept the position offered to me and I pray that I may be guided by Heaven in ruling his people."

So Henry the Fowler left the chase to take up his duties as king of the Germans.


In proper time Henry was proclaimed king of Germany ; but he was hardly seated on the throne when the country was invaded by thousands of Magyars, from the land which we now know as Hungary .

As soon as possible Henry gathered an army and marched to meet the barbarians. He came upon a small force under the command of the son of the Magyar king. The Germans easily routed the Magyars and took the king's son prisoner.

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