Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The West Saxon Supremacy

It was quite possible that the power founded by Ecgberht might pass away as completely as did the power which had been founded by Æthelfrith of North-humberland or by Penda of Mercia. To some extent the danger was averted by the unusual strength of character which for six generations showed itself in the family of Ecgberht. For nearly a century and a half after Ecgberht's death no ruler arose from his line who had not great qualities as a warrior or as a ruler. It was no less important that these successive kings, with scarcely an exception, kept up a good understanding with the clergy, and especially with the Archbishops of Canterbury, so that the whole of the influence of the Church was thrown in favour of the political unity of England under the West Saxon line. The clergy wished to see the establishment of a strong national government for the protection of the national Church. Yet it was difficult to establish such a government unless other causes than the goodwill of the clergy had contributed to its maintenance. Peoples who have had little intercourse except by fighting with one another rarely unite heartily unless they have some common enemy to ward off, and some common leader to look up to in the conduct of their defence.

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