Page:The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, Volume 16.djvu/80

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ter's wife, who was daughter to the earl of Gloucester. These two earls resolving to attempt the relief of their friends, marched with all their forces near Lincoln, where they found the enemy drawn up and ready to receive them. The next morning, after battle offered by the lords, and accepted by the king, both sides made ready to engage. The king having disposed his cavalry on each wing, placed himself at the head of his foot, in whom he reposed most confidence. The army of the lords was divided in three bodies; those whom king Stephen had banished were placed in the middle, the earl of Chester led the van, and the earl of Gloucester commanded the rear. The battle was fought at first with equal advantage;, and great obstinacy on both sides: at length the right wing of the king's horse, pressed by the earl of Chester, gallopped away, not without suspicion of treachery; the left followed the example. The king beheld their flight, and encouraging those about him, fell with undaunted valour upon the enemy; and being for some time bravely seconded by his foot, did great execution. At length overpowered by numbers, his men began to disperse, and Stephen was left almost alone with his sword in his hand, wherewith he opposed his person against a whole victorious army, nor durst any be so hardy to approach him; the sword breaking, a citizen of Lincoln put into his hands a Danish battle-axe, with which he struck to the ground the earl of Chester[1], who presumed to come within his reach. But this weapon likewise flying in pieces with the force of those furious blows he dealt on all sides, a bold knight of the empress's

  1. The earl of Chester lived nevertheless to fight other battles, and died twelve years afterward by poison.