FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 975.
IN FOUR BOOKS.
[Extracted from Giles, Six Old English Chronicles, pp.1-40.]
To Matilda, the most eloquent and true handmaid of Christ, Ethelwerd the patrician, health in the Lord! I have received, dearest sister, your letter which I longed for, and I not only read it with kisses, but laid it up in the treasury of my heart. Often and often do I pray the grace of the Most High, to preserve you in safety during this life present, and after death to lead you to his everlasting mansions. But as I once before briefly hinted to you by letter, I now, with God's help, intend to begin in the way of annals from the beginning of the world, and explain to you more fully about our common lineage and descent, to the end that the reader's task may be lightened, and the pleasure of the hearer may be augmented, whilst he listens to it. Concerning the coming of our first parents out of Germany into Britain, their numberless wars and slaughters, and the dangers which they encountered on ship-board among the waves of the ocean, in the following pages you will find a full description. In the present letter therefore I have written, without perplexity of style, of our modern lineage and relationship, who were our relations, and how, and where they came from: as far as our memory can go, and according as our parents taught us. For instance king Alfred was son of king Ethelwulf, from whom we derive our origin, and who had five sons, one of whom was king Ethelred1 my ancestor, and another king Alfred [p.2] who was yours. This king Alfred sent his daughter Ethelswitha into Germany to be the wife of Baldwin,2 who had by her two sons Ethelwulf and Arnulf, also two daughters Elswid and Armentruth. Now from Ethelswitha is descended count Arnulf,3 your neighbour. The daughter of king Edward son of the above named king Alfred was named Edgiva, and was sent by your aunt into Gaul to marry Charles the Simple. Ethilda also was sent to be the wife of Hugh, son of Robert: and two others were sent by king Athelstan to Otho that he might choose which of them he liked best to be his wife. He4 chose Edgitha, from whom you derive your lineage; and united the other in marriage to a certain king5 near the Jupiterean Mountains, of whose family no memorial has reached us, partly from the distance and partly from the confusion of the times. It is your province to inform us of these particulars, not only from your relationship, but also because no lack of ability or interval of space prevents you.6
HERE ENDS THE PROLOGUE.
BOOK THE FIRST BEGINS.
The beginning of the world comes first. For on the first day
God, in the apparition of the light, created the angels: on the second day,
under the name of the firmament he created the heavens; &c. &c.7
Rome was destroyed by the Goths in the eleven hundred and forty-sixth year after it was built. From that time the Roman authority ceased in the island of Britain, and in many other countries which they had held under the yoke of slavery. For it was now four hundred and eighty-five years, [p.3] beginning with Caius Julius Caesar, that they had held the island above mentioned, wherein they had built cities and castles, bridges and streets of admirable construction, which are seen among us even to the present day. But whilst the people of Britain were living carelessly within the wall, which had been built by Severus to protect them, there arose two nations, the Picts in the north and the Scots in the west, and leading an army against them, devastated their country, and inflicted many sufferings upon them for many years. The Britons being unable to bear their misery, by a wise device send to Rome a mournful letter8 the army returned victorious to Rome. But the Scots and Picts, hearing that the hostile army was gone, rejoiced with no little joy. Again they take up arms, and like wolves attack the sheepfold which is left without a protector: they devastate the northern districts as far as the ditch of Severus: the Britons man the wall and fortify it with their arms; but fortune denied them success in the war. The cunning Scots, knowing what to do against the high wall and the deep trench, contrive iron goads with mechanical art, and dragging down those who were standing on the wall, slay them without mercy: they remain victors both within and without; they at once plunder and take possession; and a slaughter is made worse than all that had been before. Thus ended the four hundred and forty-fourth year since the incarnation of our Lord.
The Britons, seeing themselves on every side vanquished, and that they could have no more hopes from Rome, devise, in their agony and lamentations, a plan to adopt. For in those days they heard, that the race of the Saxons were active, in piratical enterprises, throughout the whole coast, from the river Rhine to the Danish city,9 which is now commonly called Denmark, and strong in all matters connected with war. They therefore send to them messengers, bearing gifts, and ask assistance, promising them their alliance when they should be at peace. But the mind of that degraded race was debased by ignorance, and they saw not that they [p.4] were preparing for themselves perpetual slavery, which is the stepmother of all misfortune.
The person who especially gave this counsel was Vurthern,10 who at that time was king over all, and to him all the nobility assented. They preferred to procure assistance to them from Germany. Already two young men, Hengist and Horsa, were pre-eminent. They were the grandsons of Woden, king of the barbarians, whom the pagans have since raised to an abominable dignity, and honouring him as a god, offer sacrifice to him for the sake of victory or valour, and the people, deceived, believe what they see, as is their wont. The aforesaid youths therefore arrive, according to the petition of the king and his senate, with three vessels, loaded with arms, and prepared with every kind of warlike stores: the anchor is cast into the sea, and the ships come to land. Not long afterwards they are sent against the Scots to try their mettle, and without delay they sheathe their breasts in arms, and engage in a novel mode of battle. Man clashes with man, now falls a German and now a Scot: on both sides is a most wretched scene of slaughter: at length the Saxons remain masters of the field. For this the king aforesaid honours them with a triumph; and they privately send home messengers, to tell their countrymen of the fertility of the country and the indolence of its cowardly people. Their countrymen, without delay, listen to their representations, and send to them a large fleet and army. Forthwith they were magnificently received by the king of the Britons, and contracted a league of hospitality with the natives. The Britons promise peace, worthy gifts of alliance and honours, provided that they might remain in ease under their protection from the attacks of their enemies, and pay them immense stipends.
Thus much of the alliance and promises of the Britons: now let us speak of their discord and ill fortune. For seeing the cunningness of the new people, they partly feared and partly despised them. They break their compact, and no longer render them the honours of alliance, but instead thereof, they try to drive them from their shores. These being their designs, the thing is made public, the treaty is openly set aside, all parties fly to arms: the Britons give [p.5] way, and the Saxons keep possession of the country. Again they send to Germany, not secretly as before, but by a public embassy, as victors are wont to do, and demand reinforcements. A large multitude joined them from every province of Germany; and they carried on war against the Britons, driving them from their territories with great slaughter, and ever remaining masters of the field. At last the Britons bend their necks to the yoke, and pay tribute. This migration is said to have been made from the three provinces of Germany, which are said to have been the most distinguished, namely, from Saxony, Anglia, and Giota. The Cantuarians derived their origin from the Giotae [Jutes], and also the Uuhtii, who took their name from the island Wihta [Isle of Wight], which lies on the coast of Britain.
For out of Saxony, which is now called Ald-Sexe, or Old Saxony, came the tribes which are still called so among the English, the East Saxons, South Saxons, and West Saxons; that is, those who are called in Latin, the Oriental, Austral, and Occidental Saxons.
Out of the province of Anglia came the East Anglians, Middle Anglians, Mercians, and all the race of the Northumbrians. Moreover Old Anglia is situated between the Saxons and Jutes, having a capital town, which in Saxon is called Sleswig, but in Danish Haithaby. Britain, therefore, is now called Anglia [England], because it took the name of its conquerors: for their leaders aforesaid were the first who came thence to Britain; namely, Hengist and Horsa, sons of Wyhrtels:11 their grandfather was Wecta, and their great-grandfather Withar, whose father was Woden, who also was king of a multitude of barbarians. For the unbelievers of the North are oppressed by such delusion that they worship him as a god even to this day, namely the Danes, the Northmen, and the Suevi; of whom Lucan says,
"Pours forth the yellow Suevi from the North."
So greatly did the invasion of those nations spread and increase, that they by
degrees obliterated all memory of the inhabitants who had formerly invited them
with gifts. They demand their stipends: the Britons refuse: they take up arms,
discord arises, and as we have before said, they drive [p.6]
the Britons into certain narrow isthmuses of the island, and themselves hold
possession of the island from sea to sea even unto the present time.
A. 418. In the ninth year also after the sacking of Rome by the Goths, those of Roman race who were left in Britain, not bearing the manifold insults of the people, bury their treasures in pits thinking that hereafter they might have better fortune, which never was the case; and taking a portion, assemble on the coast, spread their canvas to the winds, and seek an exile on the shores of Gaul.
A. 430. Twelve years after, bishop Palladius is sent by the holy pope Celestinus to preach the gospel of Christ to the Scots.
A. 449. When, therefore, nineteen years had elapsed, Maurice and Valentine13
became emperors of Rome; in whose reign Hengist and Horsa at the invitation of
Vortigern king of the Britons arrive at the place called Wippid's-fleet, at
first on the plea of assisting the Britons: but afterwards they rebelled and
became their enemies, as we have already said. Now the number of years,
completed since the marvellous incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, was four
hundred and forty-nine.
A. 455. In the sixth year after, Hengist and Horsa fought a battle against Vortigern in the plain of Angelsthrep. There Horsa was killed, and Hengist obtained the kingdom.
A. 457. But after two years, Hengist and Æsc his son renewed the war against the Britons; and there fell in that day on the side of the Britons four thousand men. Then the Britons, leaving Cantia, which is commonly called Kent, fled to the city of London.
A. 465. About eight years after, the same men took up arms against the Britons, and there was a great slaughter made on that day: twelve chiefs of the Britons fell near a place called Wipped's-fleet; there fell a soldier of the Saxons called Wipped, from which circumstance that place took its name; in the same way as the Thesean sea was so called [p.7] from Theseus, and the Ægeean sea from Ægeus who was drowned in it.
A. 473. After eight years were completed, Hengist with his son Æsc, a second time make war against the Britons, and having slaughtered their army, remain victors on the field of battle, and carry off immense spoils.
A. 477. In the fourth year Ælla landed in Britain from Germany with his three sons, at a place called Cymenes-Ora, and defeated the Britons at Aldredes-leage.14
A. 485. After eight years, the same people fight against the Britons, near a place called Mearcraedsburn.
A. 488. After this, at an interval of three years, Aesc, son of Hengist, began to reign in Kent.
A. 492. After three years, Ælla and Assa besieged a town called Andreds-cester, and slew all its inhabitants, both small and great, leaving not a single soul alive.
A. 495. After the lapse of three more years, Cerdic and his son Cynric sailed to Britain with five ships, to a port called Cerdic's-ore, and on the same day fought a battle against the Britons, in which they were finally victorious.
A. 500. Six years after their arrival, they sailed round the western part of Britain, which is now called Wessex.
A. 501. Also after a year Port landed in Britain with his son Bieda.
A. 508. Seven years after his arrival, Cerdic with his son Cynric slay Natan-Leod, king of the Britons, and five thousand men with him.
A. 514. Six years after, Stuf and Whitgar landed in Britain at Cerdic's-ore, and suddenly make war on the Britons, whom they put to flight, and themselves remain masters of the field. Thus was completed the fifty-sixth15 year since Hengist and Horsa first landed in Britain.
A. 519. Five years after, Cerdic and Cynric fought a battle against the Britons at Cerdic's-ford,16 on the river Avene, and that same year nominally began to reign.
A. 527. Eight years after, they renew the war against the Britons.
A. 530. After three years, they took the Isle of Wight, [p.8] the situation of which we have mentioned above: but they did not kill many of the Britons.
A. 534. Four years after, Cerdic with his son Cenric gives up the Isle of Wight into the hands of their two cousins Stuf and Wihtgar. In the course of the same year Cerdic died, and Cenric his son began to reign after him, and he reigned twenty-seven years.
A. 538. When he had reigned four years, the sun was eclipsed from the first hour of the day to the third.17
A. 540. Again, two years after, the sun was eclipsed for half-an-hour after the third hour, so that the stars were everywhere visible in the sky.
A. 547. In the seventh year after this, Ida began to reign over the province of Northumberland, whose family derive their kingly title and nobility from Woden.
A. 552. Five years after, Cenric fought against the Britons near the town of Scarburh [Old Sarum], and, having routed them, slew a large number.
A. 556. The same, four years afterwards, fought with Ceawlin against the Britons, near a place called Berin-byrig [Banbury?]
A. 560. At the end of about four years, Ceawlin began to reign over the western part of Britain, which is now commonly called Wessex. Moreover, Ella the Iffing is sent to the race of Northumbria, whose ancestry extends up to the highest, namely to Woden.
A. 565. Five years afterwards, Christ's servant Columba came from Scotia [Ireland] to Britain, to preach the word of God to the Picts.
A. 568. Three years after his coming, Ceawlin and Cutha stirred up a civil war against Ethelbert, and having defeated him, pursued him into Kent, and slew his two chiefs, Oslaf and Cnebba, in Wubbandune.18
A. 571. After three years, Cuthulf fought against the Britons at Bedanford [Bedford], and took four royal cities, namely Liganburh [Lenbury], Eglesburh [Aylesbury], Bensingtun [Benson], and Ignesham [Eynsham].
A. 577. After the lapse of six years, Cuthmn and Ceawlin fight against the Britons, and slay three of their king. [p.9] Comail, Condidan, and Farinmeail, at a place called Deorhamme [Derham?]; and they took three of their most distinguished cities, Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath.
A. 584. After seven years, Ceawlin and Cutha fought against the Britons, at a place called Fethanleage [Frethern?]: there Cutha fell; but Ceawlin reduced a multitude of cities, and took immense spoils.
A. 592. In the eighth year there was a great slaughter on both sides, at a place called Wodnesbyrg [Wemborow?], so that Ceawlin was put to flight, and died at the end of one more year.
A. 593. After him, Cwichehn, Crida, and Ethelfrid, succeeded to the kingdom.
HERE ENDS BOOK THE FIRST.
HERE BEGINS THE PROLOGUE TO BOOK THE SECOND.
In the beginning of this book it will not be necessary to make a long preface,
my dearest sister; for I have guided my pen down through many perplexed subjects
from the highest point, and, omitting those things extracted from sacred and
profane history, on which most persons have fixed their attention, have left
higher matters to the skilful reader. And now I must turn my pen to the
description of those things which properly concern our ancestors; and though a
pupil is not properly called a member, yet it yields no little service to the
We therefore entreat in God's name that our words may not be despised by the malevolent, but rather that they may give abundant thanks to the King of heaven, if they seem to speak things of high import.
HERE ENDS THE PROLOGUE;
THE SECOND BOOK BEGINS.
Chap. I.—Of the coming of Augustine, who was sent by the blessed Pope Gregory. [a.d. 596.]
As Divine Providence, mercifully looking down upon all things from all eternity,
is accustomed to rule them, not by necessity, but by its powerful
superintendence, and remain- [p.10] ing always immoveable in itself, and disposing the different elements by its
word, and the human race to come to the knowledge of the truth by the death of
his only begotten Son, by whose blood the four quarters of the world are
redeemed, so now by his servant doth it dispel the darkness in the regions of
Whilst therefore the blessed pope Gregory sat on the episcopal seat, and sowed the seeds of the gospel of Christ, there stood by him some men of unknown tongue and very comely to look on. The holy man admiring the beauty of their countenances, asked of them with earnestness from what country they came. The young men with downcast looks replied, that they were Angles. "Are you Christians," said the holy man, "or heathens?" "Certainly not Christians," said they, "for no one has yet opened our ears." Then the holy man, lifting up his eyes, replied, "What man, when there are stones at hand, lays a foundation with reeds?" They answer, "No man of prudence." "You have well said," answered he; and he straightway took them into a room, where he instructed them in the divine oracles, and afterwards washed them with the baptism of Christ: and further he arranged with them, that he would go with them into their country. When the Romans heard of this they opposed his words, and were unwilling to allow their pastor to go so far from home. The blessed pope Gregory, therefore, seeing that the people were opposed to him, sent with the men aforesaid one of his disciples, who was well instructed in the divine oracles, by name Augustine, and with him a multitude of brethren. When these men arrived, the English received the faith and erected temples, and our Saviour Jesus Christ exhibited innumerable miracles to his faithful followers through the prayers of the bishop, St. Augustine; at whose tomb, even to the present day, no small number of miracles are wrought, with the assistance of our Lord.
Chap. II.—Of king Ethelbert, and of his baptism, [a.d. 597.]
When the man aforesaid arrived, Ethelbert bore rule over Kent, and receiving the faith, submitted to be baptized with all his house. He was the first king among the English who received the word of Christ. Lastly Ethelbert was the son [p.11] of Ermenric, whose grandfather was Ochta, who bore the praenomen of Eisc,19 from which the kings of Kent were afterwards named Esings, as the Romans from Romulus, the Cecropidas from Cecrops, and the Tuscans from Tuscus. For Eisc was the father of Hengist, who was the first consul and leader of the Angles out of Germany; whose father was Wihtgils, his grandfather Witta, his great-grandfather Wecta, his great-grandfather's father Woden, who also was king of many nations, whom some of the pagans now still worship as a god. And the number of years that was completed from the incarnation of our Lord was four years less, than six hundred.20
Chap. III.—Of Ceolwulf, king of the West-Saxons, and of his continued wars.
A. 597. At the end of one year, Ceolwulf began to reign over the Western English.21 His family was derived from Woden; and so great was his ferocity that he is said to have been always at war, either with his own nation or with the Britons, or the Picts or Scots.
Chap. IV.—Concerning Augustine's pall of apostleship sent him by pope Gregory.
A. 601. When he had reigned four years, pope Gregory sent to Augustine the pall of apostleship.
Chap. V.—Of the faith of the East-Saxons, and of the decease of the blessed pope Gregory.
A. 604. After three years, the eastern English22 also received baptism in the
reign of Sigebert [Sabert] their king.
A. 606. Two years afterwards, the blessed pope Gregory departed this world, in the eleventh year after he had bestowed baptism on the English by sending among them Christ's servant Augustine. And the number of years that [p.12] was completed from the beginning of the world was more than five thousand and eight hundred.23
Chap. VI.—Of the reign of king Cynegils, his wars; and of the coming of bishop
Birinus, of the baptism,
of the king, and the faith of the East-Saxons,24 and of the baptism of Cuthrid. [a.d. 613-639.]
Afterwards Cynegils received the kingdom of the West-Angles, and, in conjunction
with Cuichelm, he fought against the Britons at a place called Beandune,25 and
having defeated their army, slew more than two thousand and forty of them.
A. 629. Fourteen years after, Cynegils and Cuichelm fought against Penda at Cirencester.
A. 635. After six years bishop Birinus came among the Western Angles, preaching to them the gospel of Christ. And the number of years that elapsed since their arrival in Britain out of Germany, was about one hundred and twenty. At that time Cynegils received baptism from the holy bishop Birinus, in a town called Dorchester.
A. 639. He baptized Cuthred also four years after in the same city, and adopted him as his son in baptism.26
Chap. VII.—Of the reign of Kenwalk, and of his actions.
A. 648. When nine years were fulfilled, Kenwalk gave to his relation, Cuthred,
out of his farms, three thousand measures, adjacent to a hill named Esc's dune,
A. 652. Four years after, he fought a battle against his own people, at a place called Bradford, on the river Afene.27
A. 656. Three years afterwards king Penda died, and the Mercians were baptized.
A. 658. After three years more, the kings Kenwalk and Pionnajl renewed the war against the Britons, and pursued them to a place called Pederydan.28
A. 661. After three years, Kenwalk again fought a battle near the town of
Pontesbury, and took prisoner Wulf here, son of Penda, at Esc'sdune [Ashdown],
when he had defeated his army.
A. 664. Three years afterwards there was an eclipse of the sun.
A. 670. When six years were fulfilled, Oswy, king of Northumberland, died, and Egfrid succeeded him.
A. 671. After one year more, there was a great pestilence among the birds, so that there was an intolerable stench by sea and land, arising from the carcases of birds, both small and great.
A. 672. Twelve months after Kenwalk, king of the West-Angles, died; and his wife, Sexburga, succeeded him in the kingdom, and reigned twelve months.
A. 673. After her Escwin succeeded to the throne, and two years were fulfilled. His family traces to Cerdic.
Chap. VIII.—Of Wulf here and Cenwulf,29 and of the council held by the holy father Theodore.
A. 674. After one year, Wulfhere son of Penda, and Cenwalh29 fought a battle
among themselves in a place called Beadanhead [Bedwin].
A. 677. After three years a comet was seen.
A. 680. At the end of two years a council was held at Hethlege30 by the holy archbishop Theodore, to instruct the people in the true faith. In the course of the same year died Christ's servant, Hilda, abbess of the monastery called Streaneshalch [Whitby].
Chap. IX.—Of king Kentwin and his wars
A. 682. After two years king Kentwin drove the Britons out of their country to
A. 684. After he had reigned two years31 Ina became king of the western English. A hundred and eighty-eight years were then fulfilled from the time that Cerdic, his sixth [p.14] ancestor, received the western part of the island from the Britons.
Chap. X.—Of Caedwalla's conversion to the faith of Christ.
A. 684. In the course of the same year Caedwalla went to Rome, and received
baptism and the the faith of Christ; after his baptism the pope of that year
gave him the surname of Peter.
A. 694. About six years afterwards, the Kentish men remembered the cause which they had against king Ina when they burnt his relation32 with fire; and they gave him thirty thousand shillings at a fixed rate of sixteen pence each.
Chap. XI.—Of the acts of Ethelred king of the Mercians.
A. 704. After ten years, Ethelred son of Penda and king of the Mercians assumed
the monastic habit, when he had completed twenty-nine years of his reign.
A. 705. After twelve months died Alfrid king of Northumberland. And the number of years that was then fulfilled from the beginning of the world was five thousand nine hundred.
A. 709. Four years afterwards died the holy bishop Aidhelm, by whose wonderful art were composed the words which are now read, and his bishopric was the province which is now called Selwoodshire [Sherborne].
Chap. XII.—Of the reign of Ina, and of his acts.
A. 710. After a year, the kings and Ina made war against king Wuthgirete;33 also
duke Bertfrid against the Picts.
A. 714. After four years died Christ's servant Guthlac.
A. 715. After a year Ina and Ceolred fought against those who opposed them in arms at Wothnesbeorghge [Wanborough.]
A. 721. After seven years Ina slew Cynewulf, and after six months made war against the Southern English.
Chap. XIll.—Of king Ethelard.
A. 728. When six years were fulfilled he went to Rome, and Ethelard received the
kingdom of the West Saxons. In the first year of his reign he made war against
A. 729. At the end of one year a comet appeared, and the holy bishop Egbert died.
A. 731. After two years, Osric king of Northumberland died and Ceolwulf succeeded to the kingdom.
Chap. XIV.—Of the acts of king Ethelbald.
A. 733. Two years after these things, king Ethelbald
received under his
dominion the royal will which is called Somerton. The same year the sun was
A. 734. After the lapse of one year, the moon appeared as if stained with spots of blood, and by the same omen Tatwine and Bede35 departed this life.
Chap. XV.—Of the reign, of Eadbert and of his deeds.
A. 738. After four years, Eadbert succeeded to the kingdom of the Northumbrians, and his brother Egbert discharged the archiepiscopal office; and now they both lie buried in the city of York, under the shade of the same porch.
Chap. XVI.—Of the rule of king Cuthred.
A. 750. After twelve years king Cuthred began to make war against duke Ethelhun,
for some state-jealousy.
A. 752. Again after two years he drew his sword against king Ethelbald at a place called Beorgforda.36
A. 753. After another year he gratified the fierce propensities of his nature by making war against the Britons: and after another year he died, a.d. 754.
Chap. XVII.—Of the acts of king Sigebert and of his reign.
Furthermore Sigebert received the kingdom of the western English.
A. 756. At the end of one year after Sigebert began to [p.16] reign, Cynewulf, invading his kingdom, took it from him, and drew away all the wise men of the west country, in consequence of the perverse deeds of the aforesaid king; nor was any part of his kingdom left to him except one province only, named Hamptonshire [Hampshire]. And he remained there no long time; for, instigated by an old affront, he slew a certain duke, and Cynewulf drove him into the wilds of Andred: and so he fled from thicket to thicket, until he was at last slain by a herdsman at a place named Pryffetesflodan,37 and so the blood of duke Cumbra was avenged.
Chap. XVIII.—Of the reign of Cynewulf, his war and deeds.
A. 755. These things having been premised, Cynewulf frequently fought no slight
battles against the Britons. For when thirty-one years had passed, he tried to
expel from his territories a certain chief named Cyneard, brother to Sigebert,
whose deeds have been related above. He was afterwards besieged by this prince,
for it was told him that he was in company of a certain courtezan at a place
called Meranton [Merton], and though he had with him only a few men, who knew
nothing of the matter, he surrounded the house with arms. The king, seeing how
he was situated, leaped to the door, and bravely repelled their weapons; but
making up his mind he rushed upon the prince, and inflicted no slight wounds
upon him; his companions, not forgetting his threats, raised their weapons and
slew the king. The report being spread, the king's soldiers, who had been in his
company, each for himself, as was their custom, made an attack, uttering shouts.
But the prince, soothing them, promised them gifts and ample honours. They
desire death, now that their lord is dead; nor do they attend to his promises,
but rush with one accord upon death. None of them escaped with life except one
British hostage, and he had received severe wounds. When, therefore, the day
dawned, it became known to the soldiers, who had remained behind the king's
back, they assembled together and set forth, and with them Osric the duke and
Wigferth the knight. They found the prince in the house, where their master was
lying dead. The doors are beleaguered on both sides. Within are the one party,
and the [p.17] other party are without. The prince asks a truce, and makes ample promises; his
object is future sovereignty. The king's friends spurn these offers, and rather
seek to separate from the prince their relations who were in his company. These
reject their proposals; on the contrary they answer their friends thus:38 "No tie
is so powerful as that which binds us to our lord; and whereas you ask us to
depart, we tell you that we made the same proposal to those who were slain with
your king, and they would not accede to it." To this the other party rejoined,
"But you will remain unhurt, if you only depart, nor share in the vengeance
which we shall inflict for those who were slain with the king." They returned no
answer to this, but silently begin the battle; shield punishes shield, and arms
are laced in bucklers, relation falls by his kinsman; they smash the doors, one
pursues after another, and a lamentable fight ensues. Alas! they slay the
prince; all his companions are laid low before his face, except one, and he was
the baptismal son of duke Osric, but half alive, and covered with wounds.
Now Cynewulf reigned thirty-one years, and his body lies entombed in the city of Winchester. The above-named prince also reposes in the church commonly called Axanminster.39 Both their families trace to Cerdic.
A. 755. In the same year Ethelbald, king of Mercia, was slain at a place called Seccandune,40 and his body rests in a monastery called Reopandune41 Bernred succeeded to the kingdom, and not long after he also died.
Chap. XIX.—Of the reign of king Offa and of his deeds.
A. 756. In the revolution of the same year, Offa succeeded to the kingdom, a
remarkable man, son of Thingferth; his grandfather was Enwulf, his great-grandfather Osmod, his great-grandfather's father Pybba, his
great-grandfather's grandfather was Icel, his sixth ancestor Eomaer, the
[p.18] seventh Angeltheow, the eighth Offa, the ninth Waermund, the tenth Wihtlaeg, the
A. 773. Also after seventeen years, from the time that Cynewulf took the kingdom from Sigebert, the sign of our Lord's cross appeared in the heavens after sun-set, and in the same year a civil contest42 took place between the people of Kent and Mercia, at a place called Cittanford:43 and in those days some monstrous serpents were seen in the country of the Southern Angles, which is called Sussex.
A. 777. About four years after, Cynewulf and Offa fought a battle near the town of Bensington, which was gained by Offa.
A. 779. Two years afterwards, the Gauls and Saxons stirred up no slight contests with one another.
A. 783. In short, after four years, Cyneard slays king Cynewulf, and is himself also slain there.
Chap. XX.—Of the acts of Beriric, king of the West-Saxons.
A. 783. In the same year Bertric received the kingdom of the West-Angles, whose
lineage traces up to Cerdic.
A. 786. After three years, he took in marriage Offa's daughter Eadburga.
HERE ENDS BOOK THE SECOND,
THE PROLOGUE OF BOOK THE THIRD BEGINS.
After what has been written in the foregoing pages, it remains that we declare the contents of our third book. We exhort you, therefore, most beloved object of my desire, that the present work may not be thought tedious by you for its length of reading, since to thee especially I dedicate this. Wherefore, the farther my mind digresses, the more does my affectionate love generate and expand itself.
HERE ENDS THE PROLOGUE.
AND THE BOOK BEGINS.
Whilst the pious king Bertric was reigning over the western parts of the
English, and the innocent people spread through their plains were enjoying
themselves in tranquillity and yoking their oxen to the plough, suddenly there
arrived on the coast a fleet of Danes, not large, but of three ships only: this
was their first arrival. When this became known, the king's officer, who was
already stopping in the town of Dorchester, leaped on his horse and gallopped
forwards with a few men to the port, thinking that they were merchants rather
than enemies, and, commanding them in an authoritative tone, ordered them to be
made to go to the royal city; but he was slain on the spot by them, and all who
were with him. The name of the officer was Beaduherd.
A. 787. And the number of years that was fulfilled was above three hundred and thirty-four, from the time that Hengist and Horsa arrived in Britain, in which also Bertric married the daughter of king Offa.
A. 792. Moreover, it was after five years that Offa king of the Mercians commanded the head of king Ethelbert to be struck off.
A. 794. After two years Offa also died, and Egfert his son succeeded to the kingdom, and died in the same year. Pope Adrian also departed this life. Ethelred, king of the Northumbrians, was slain by his own people.
Chap. I.—Of Kenulf, king of the Mercians, and of his wars.
A. 796. After two years, Kenulf, king of the Mercians, ravaged Kent and the
province which is called Merscwari,44 and their king Pren was taken, whom they
loaded with chains, and led as far as Mercia.
A. 797. Then after a year, the enraged populace of Rome cut out the tongue of the blessed pope Leo, and tore out his eyes, and drove him from his apostolical seat. But suddenly, by the aid of Christ, who is always wonderful in his works, his sight was restored, and his tongue regifted with speech, and he resumed his seat of apostleship as before.
A. 800. After three years, king Bertric died.
Chap. II.—Of the reign of Egbert, and his deeds.
Therefore Egbert is raised to the kingdom of the West-Saxons. On the very same
day, as king Ethelmund was passing through a farm, Wiccum, intending to go to a
ford called Cynema^resford [Kempsford], duke Woxstan met him there with the
centuries of the inhabitants of the province of Wilsaetum [Wiltshire]. Both of
them fell in the battle, but the Wilsaetse remained the victors.
Also, down to the time that Egbert received the kingdom, there were completed from the beginning of the world 5995 years, from the incarnation of our Lord 800 years, from the coming of Hengist and Horsa into Britain 350 years, from the reign of Cerdic, the tenth ancestor of king Egbert, when he subdued the western part of Britain, 300 years, and from the coming of Augustine, who was sent by the blessed pope Gregory to baptize the English nation, 204 years: and in the tenth year afterwards the holy father Gregory died.
A. 805. After king Egbert had reigned five years, was the death of Cuthred king of Kent.
A. 812. In the seventh year Charles, king of the Franks, departed this life.
A. 814. After two years, the blessed pope Leo passed from one virtue to another.
A. 819. After five years, Kenulf king of the Mercians died.
A. 821. His successor was Ceolwulf, who was deprived of the kingdom two years afterwards.
A. 822. A year afterwards a great synod was held at a place called Cloveshoo,45 and two dukes were there slain Burhelm and Mucca.
A. 823. After one year a battle was fought against the Britons in the province of Defna [Devonshire], at a place called Camelford. In the same year king Egbert fought a battle against Bernulf king of the Mercians at Ellendune,46 and Egbert gained the victory: but there was a great loss on both sides; and Hun duke of the province of Somerset was there slain: he lies buried in the city of Winchester. Lastly, king Egbert sent his son Ethelwulf with an army [p.21] into Kent, and with him bishop Ealstan and duke Wulfherd. They defeated the Kentish army, and pursued their king Baldred into the northern parts beyond the Thames. To whom the men of Kent are afterwards subjected, and also the provinces of Surrey and Sussex, that is, the midland and southern Angles.
A. 824. For in the course of the same year the king of the East-Angles with the wise men of his realm, visits king Egbert, for the sake of peace and protection, on account of his fear of the Mercians.
A. 825. In the course of that year the aforesaid East-Angles made war against Bernulf king of the Mercians, and having defeated his army they slew him and five dukes with him. His successor was Withlaf.
A. 827. Two years afterwards, the moon was eclipsed on the very night of Christ's nativity. And in the same year king Egbert reduced under his power all that part of the kingdom which lies to the south of the river Humber: he was the eighth king in Britain who was famous for his great power. For the first was Ælla king of the South-Angles, who possessed the same dominions as Egbert; the second was Ceawlin king of the West-Angles; the third Ethelbert king of Kent; the fourth Redwald king of the East-Angles; the fifth Edwin king of Northumbria; the sixth Oswald; the seventh Oswy brother of Oswald; after whom the eighth Egbert, of whom we have made mention above. He led his army against the Northumbrians, who also bent their necks and submitted to him.
A. 828. At the end of a year therefore, Withlaf again received the kingdom. At that time also, king Egbert led his army against the northern Britons, and when he had subdued all of them, he returned in peace.
A. 832. After four years therefore the pagans devastated the territories of a place called Sceapige.47
A. 833. After one year Egbert fought against the pagan fleet, in number thirty-five vessels, at a place called Carrum [Charmouth]: and the Danes obtained the victory.
A. 836. Lastly after three years, a large army of Britons approached the frontiers of the West-Saxons: without de- [p.22] lay they form themselves into a compact body, and carry their arms against Egbert king of the Angles. Egbert therefore having ascertained the state of things beforehand, assembled his army and twice imbued their weapons in the blood of the Britons at Hengeston,48 and put them to flight.
A. 837. At the end of a year the powerful king Egbert died.
Chap. III.—Of the reign of Ethelwulf and of his deeds.
After his death, Athulf49 succeeded to the throne of his father Egbert, and he
delivered up the kingdom of Kent to his son Athelstan, together with
East-Saxony, South-Saxony, and Surrey, i.e. the eastern, southern and midland
A. 838. After one year, duke Wulfherd fought with the pagan fleet near the town of Hamptun [Southampton], and having slain many of them gained the victory: the number of ships in the fleet was thirty-three. After this exploit the duke himself died in peace. The same year duke Ethelhelm, with the people of the province of Dorset, fought another battle against the pagan army at Port, and pursued them some distance: but afterwards the Danes were victorious, and slew the duke and his companions with him.
A. 839. After one year duke Herebert was slain by the Danes at Merswarum50 and the same year a great slaughter was made by that army in the city of Lindsey, and in the province of Kent, and in East Anglia.
A. 840. Also after one year, the same thing took place in the city of London, in Quintanwic [Canterbury], and in the town of Rochester.
A. 841. Meanwhile, after one year king Ethelwulf fought against the Danes at a place called Charmouth, by whom also he was vanquished, and the victors kept possession of the ground.
A. 844. Three years afterwards duke Eanwulf, who governed the province of Somerset, and bishop Ealstan also, and Osric duke of Dorset, fought a battle against the pagans at the mouth of the Parret before-mentioned; where [p.23] they gained the victory, having defeated the Danish army. Also in the same year king Athelstan and duke Elchere fought against the army of the above-mentioned nation in the province of Kent, near the town of Sandwich, where they slew many of them, put their troops to flight, and took nine ships.
A. 851. After seven years Ceorl duke of Devon fought a battle against the pagans at Wembury,51 where they slew many of the Danes and gained the victory. In the course of the same year, the barbarians wintered first in the isle of Thanet, which lies not far from Britain, and has fruitful but not large corn fields. That year was not yet finished, when a large fleet of pagans arrived, 350 ships, at the mouth of the river Thames, commonly called Thames-mouth, and destroyed the city of Canterbury and the city of London, and put to flight Berthwulf king of Mercia, having defeated his army. After the battle they returned beyond the river Thames towards the south through the province of Surrey, and there king Ethelwulf with the Western Angles met them: an immense number was slain on both sides, nor have we ever heard of a more severe battle before that day: these things happened near Ockley Wood.
A. 854. After three years king Burhred asked assistance from king Ethelwulf to subdue the Northern Britons: he granted it, and having collected his army, passed through the Mercian kingdom to go against the Britons: whom he subdued and made tributary. In the same year king Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred to Rome, in the days of our lord pope Leo,52 who consecrated him king and named him his son in baptism, when we are accustomed to name little children, when we receive them from the bishop's hand. In the same year where fought battles in the isle of Thanet against the pagans; and there was a great slaughter made on both sides, and many were drowned in the sea. The same year also after Easter king Ethelwulf gave his daughter in marriage to king Burhred.
A. 856. After a year the pagans wintered in Sheppey. In the same year king Ethelwulf gave the tenth of all his possessions to be the Lord's portion, and so appointed it to [p.24] be in all the government of his kingdom. In the same year he set out to Rome with great dignity, and stayed there twelve months. As he returned home, therefore, to his country, Charles, king of the Franks, gave him his daughter in marriage, and he took her home with him to his own country.
A. 857. Lastly, after a year king Ethelwulf died, and his body reposes in the city of Winchester. Now the aforesaid king was son of king Egbert, and his grandfather was Ebnund, his great-grandfather Eafa, his great-grandfather's father was Eoppa, and his great-grandfather's grandfather was Ingild, brother of Ina, king of the Western-Angles, who ended his life at Rome; and the above-named kings derived their origin from king Kenred. Kenred was the son of Ceolwald, son of Cuthwin, son of Ceawlin, son of Cynric, son of Cerdic, who also was the iirst possessor of the western parts of Britain, after he had defeated the armies of the Britons: his father was Elesa, son of Esla, son of Gewis, son of Wig, son of Freawin, son of Frithogar, son of Brond, son of Beldeg, son of Woden, son of Frithowald, son of Frealaf, son of Frithuwulf, son of Finn, son of Godwulf, son of Geat, son of Taetwa, son of Beaw, son of Sceldi, son of Sceaf. This Sceaf came with one ship to an island of the ocean named Scani, cheathed in arms, and he was a young boy, and unknown to the people of that land; but he was received by them, and they guarded him as their own with much care, and afterwards chose him for their king. It is from him that king Ethelwulf derives his descent. And then was completed the fiftieth year from the beginning of king Egbert's reign.
HERE ENDS THE THIRD BOOK,
AND THE PROLOGUE OF THE FOURTH BOOK HERE BEGINS.
Three books are now finished, and it remains to guide my pen to the fourth, in
which also will be found greater gain, and the origin of our race is more
clearly intimated. And, although I may seem to send you a load of reading,
dearest sister of my desire, do not judge me harshly, but as my
writings were in love to you, so may you read them.
And may God Almighty, who is praised both in Trinity [p.25] and in omnipotence ever preserve you under the shadow of his wings, and your companions with you. Amen!
HERE ENDS THE PROLOGUE.
Chap. I.—Of the reign of the sons of king Ethelwulf, namely Ethelbaid and Ethelbert.
Meanwhile, after the death of king Ethelwulf, his sons were raised to the
kingdom, namely Ethelbald over the Western Angles, and Ethelbert over the men of
Kent, and the Eastern, Southern, and Midland Angles.
A. 861. When five years were completed, king Ethelbaid died, and his brother Ethelbert succeeded to the possessions of both. In those days a large fleet of pagans came to land, and destroyed the royal city which is called Winton. They were encountered by Osric duke of Hampshire, and Ethelwulf duke of Berkshire: a battle ensued; the pagans were routed, and the English gained the victory.
A. 865. After four years, from the death of king Ethelbald, the pagans strengthened their position in the isle of Thanet, and promise to be at peace with the men of Kent, who on their part prepare money, ignorant of the future. But the Danes break their compact, and sallying out privately by night, lay waste all the eastern coast of Kent.
A. 866. After one year king Ethelbert died, and his body rests peaceably in the monastery named Sherborne.
Chap. II.—Of the reign of king Ethelred.
Ethelred succeeded to the throne after the death of his brother Ethelbert. In
the same year the fleets of the tyrant Hingwar arrived in England from the
north, and wintered among the East Angles, and having established their arms
there, they get on their horses, and make peace with all the inhabitants in
their own neighbourhood.
A. 867. After one year that army, leaving the eastern parts, crossed the river Humber into Northumberland to the city of Evoric, which is now commonly called the city of Eoferwic [York]. For there was then a great civil dissension between the inhabitants of that land, and they were so enraged that they also expelled their king Osbert from his [p.26] seat; and having confirmed their resolves, they chose an obscure person for their king; and after some delay they turned their thoughts to raise an army and repulse those who were advancing. They collected together no small bodies of troops, and reconnoitred the enemy: their rage was excited: they joined battle, a miserable slaughter took place on both sides, and the kings were slain. Those of them who were left made peace with the hostile army.
In the same year died Eanwulf, duke of Somerset; also bishop Ealstan, fifty years after his succession to the bishopric, in the diocese called Sherborne. There also his body now reposes; and that of the above-named duke in the monastery called Glastonbury.
A. 868. After one year therefore, the army of the pagans, of whose arrival we have spoken above, measured out their camp in a place called Snotingaham [Nottingham], and there they passed the winter, and Burhred king of the Mercians, with his nobles, consented to their remaining there without reproach.
A. 869. At the end of a year therefore, the army was transported to York, and there also they measured out their camp in the winter season.
A. 870. Again after a year they departed, and passed through Mercia into East-Anglia, and there measured out their camp for the winter at Thetford. King Edmund carried on war against them for a short time, but he was slain there by them, and his body lies entombed at a place called Beodoricsworthe,53 and the barbarians obtained the victory, but with the loss of their king soon afterwards: for king Hingwar died the same year ; archbishop Ceolnoth also died that same year, and is buried in the city of Canterbury.
A. 871. After one year therefore the army of the barbarians above-mentioned set out for Reading, and the principal object of the impious crew was to attack the West-Saxons; and three days after they came, their two consuls, forgetting that they were not on board their fleet, rode proudly through fields and meadows on horseback, which nature had denied to them.54
But duke Ethelwulf met them, and though his troops were few, their hearts
resided in brave dwellings: they point their darts, they rout the enemy, and
triumph in abundant spoils. At length four days after their meeting, Ethelred
arrives with his army; an indescribable battle is fought, now these, now those
urge on the fight with spears immoveable; duke Ethelwulf falls, who a short time
before had obtained the victory: the barbarians at last triumph. The body of the
above-named duke is privately withdrawn, and carried into the province of the
Mercians, to a place called Northworthig, but Derby in the language of the
Danes. Four days after king Ethelred with his brother Alfred fought again with
all the army of the Danes at Aescesdune;55 and there was great slaughter on both
sides: but at last king Ethelred obtained the victory. But it is proper that I
should declare the names of those chiefs who fell there: Bagsac king, the
veteran Sidrac their consul, the younger Sidrac also, the consul Osbern, the
consul Frene, the consul Harold; and, so to speak, all the flower of the
barbarian youth was there slain, so that neither before nor since was ever such
destruction known since the Saxons first gained Britain by their arms.
Fourteen days after, they again took courage and a second battle was fought at a place called Basing: the barbarians came and took part over against them; the fight began, and hope passed from the one side to the other; the royal army was deceived, the enemy had the victory, but gained no spoils.
Furthermore after two months the aforesaid king Ethelred renewed the battle, and with him was his brother Alfred, at Merton, against all the army of the barbarians, and a large number was slain on both sides. The barbarians obtained the victory; bishop Heahmund there fell by the sword, and his body lies buried at Caegineshamme.56 Many others also fell or fled in that battle, concerning whom it seems to be a loss of time to speak more minutely at present. Lastly, after the above-mentioned battle, and after the Easter of the same year, died king Ethelred, from whose family I derive my origin.
And now I have followed up my plan, dear cousin Matilda, and will begin to
consolidate my subject; and like a ship which, having sailed a long way over the
waves, already occupies the port, to which in her patient voyage she had been
tending: so we, like sailors, are already entering, and as I briefly intimated
to you in my former epistle, so also in the prefaces to this present book, and
without any impropriety I again remind you, and though I cut short the course of
that which is visionary, not impelled by necessity, but through love of your
affection, I now send it you again more fully to be meditated upon concerning
the origin of our family, and sufficiently embrace the study of your sincerity.57
Thus far then: I will now leave obscurity and begin to speak concerning the sons of Ethelwulf. They were five in number: the first was Ethelstan, who also shared the kingdom with his father: the second was Ethelbald, who also was king of the Western English: the third was Ethelbert, king of Kent: the fourth was Ethelred, who after the death of Ethelbert succeeded to the kingdom, and was also my grandfather's grandfather: the fifth was Alfred, who succeeded after all the others to the whole sovereignty, and was your grandfather's grandfather. Wherefore I make known to you, my beloved cousin Matilda, that I receive these things from ancient tradition, and have taken care in most brief style to write the history of our race down to these two kings, from whom we have taken our origin. To you therefore, most beloved, I devote this work, compelled by the love of our relationship: if others receive them with haughtiness, they will be judged unworthy of the feast; if otherwise, we advise all in charity to gather what is set before them. Let us return then to the story that we broke off, and to the death of the above-named Ethelred. His reign lasted five years, and he is buried in the monastery which goes by the name of Wimborne.
Chap. III.—Of the reign of king Alfred.
A. 871. After these things, Alfred obtained the kingdom when his brothers were dead,—he also was the youngest son of king Ethelwulf—over all the provinces of Britain.
There came a summer-army innumerable to Reading, and were eager to fight against
the army of the West-Angles; to their aid also came those who had already long
time been ravaging. But the army of the Angles at that time was small on account
of the king's absence, who at the same time had performed his brother's
obsequies, and although their ranks were not full, yet their hearts were firm in
their breasts, they rejoice in the fight, and repel the enemy: but at length
oppressed with fatigue, they cease from the fight. The barbarians hold
possession of a sterile field of battle: afterwards also they spread themselves
and ravage the country. During their foul domination, there were three battles
fought by the Angles, besides the battles beforementioned, and eleven of their
consuls, whom they call "earls," were slain, and one of their kings. Lastly, in
the same year the Eastern Angles made peace with them. And the number of years
to the encamping of the barbarian army in Reading and to the death of king
Ethelred and the succession of his brother Alfred was the seventy-first from the
time that Egbert had first consolidated the kingdom, and forty-seven from the
time that the Mercians and Western Angles carried on civil wars at the place
called Eliandune,58 and king Egbert received the name of victor twenty-six years
from the time that the battle was fought in Pedredan [Petherton]; and twenty
years after the contest which was waged near the wood called Ockley, and lastly
five years from the arrival of the pagans in the country of the East Angles: and
without long delay, they then went to Reading.
A. 872. After a year had elapsed from the time of their coming to Reading, they measured out their camp in the neighbourhood of the city of London. But the Mercians ratify a treaty with them, and pay a stipend.
A. 873. After one year the barbarians change their position to the neighbourhood of the city of Lindsey in a place called Torksey. The Mercian people renew their treaty with them.
A. 874. After the lapse of a year, the barbarians at length remove to a place called Repton, and drive king Burhred from the kingdom beyond the sea. Twenty and two years [p.30] are enumerated from the time that he first occupied his father's kingdom. They now break the peace, and devastate the lands of the Mercians. The above-named king did not abandon his hope in Christ, but made a journey to Rome and died there, and his body, laid in a worthy mausoleum, reposes in the temple of Christ's blessed mother, which is now called the school of the English. At the same time Ceolwulf possessed the kingdom of the Mercians.
A. 875. Lastly after a year, the barbarians divide the kingdom into two parts: and Halfdene the leader of the barbarians took one part, namely the kingdom of the Northumbrians, and there he chose his winter-quarters near the river called the Tyne, and they ravaged the country there on every side. But they also made frequent wars on the Picts and the men of Cumberland. Oskytel also, and Gothrun, and Anwind, their three kings, with an immense army, came from Repton to a place called Grantabridge [Cambridge], and there remained twelve months. Furthermore in the summer of the same year, king Alfred came out with his army on board a fleet by sea, and the barbarians met them with seven tall vessels. A battle ensues, and the Danes are routed: the king takes one of their ships.
A. 876. After one year, the tyrant Halfdene obtained the kingdom of the Northumbrians, all of whom he reduced to subjection. And in the course of the same year, the army which had been at Cambridge made a junction with the western army, a thing which they had not done before, near the town which is called Wareham, and ravaged the greater part of that province. Also the king ratified a treaty of peace with them and gave them money. But they gave him hostages chosen out of their army, and made oath to him on their sacred bracelet which they had never done to the kings of the other districts, that they would quickly leave their territories.
A. 877. But they broke the peace and contravened their engagements, and the following year extended their troops into the province of Devon, where they passed the winter at Exeter. Lastly their fleets put to sea and spread their sails to the wind: but a lamentable storm came on, and the greatest part of them, namely a hundred of their chief ships, were sunk near the rock which is called Swanwich. The [p.31] barbarians renew their fraud and offer peace: hostages were given, more than were demanded, to the effect that they would withdraw out of the territories of king Alfred; and they did so. They devastate the kingdom of the Mercians and drive out all the free men. They erect their huts in the town of Gloucester.
A. 878. At the end of that year therefore this foul mob broke the compact which they had before solemnly made with the Western Angles, and they take up their winter-quarters at Chippenham. The people were everywhere unable to resist: some of them were driven by the impious wretches over the sea into Gaul. King Alfred was at this time straitened more than was becoming. Ethelnoth also duke of Somerset lived with a narrow retinue in a certain wood, and they built a strong-hold in the island of Athelingay,59 which seems to have been situated in a marsh. But the aforesaid king fought daily battles against the barbarians, having with him the province of Somerset only; no others assisted him, except the servants who made use of the king's pastures. In the same year arrived Halfdene brother of the tyrant Hingwar with thirty galleys, in the western parts of the Angles, and besieged Odda duke of Devon in a certain castle, and war was stirred up on all sides. The king of the barbarians fell, and eighty decads with him. At last the Danes obtain the victory.
Meanwhile, after the Easter60 of that year, king Alfred fought against the army that was in Chippenham, at a place called Ethandune61 and they obtain the victory. But after the decision of the battle, the barbarians promise peace, ask a truce, give hostages, and bind themselves by oath: their king submits to be baptized, and Alfred the king receives him from the laver in the marshy isle of Alney62 Duke Ethelnoth also purified the same at a place called Wedmore, and king Alfred there bestowed upon him magnificent honours.
A. 879. After a year from the time of the pagan army leaving Gloucester, they
marched to Cirencester, and there wintered. In the course of the same year the
sun was eclipsed.
A. 880. A year after the eclipse, the aforesaid army struck their tents, and leaving Cirencester went into the country of the East Angles, and pitching their camp, reduced all the inhabitants of those parts to subjection. And it was now fourteen years since the barbarians first wintered in the country aforesaid, and ravaged it. In the same year, when they had reduced the district aforesaid, they went in a vessel to Gaul and took up a position at a place called Ghent: the same men who had formerly measured out their camp at a place called Fulham.
A. 881. After a year, they attempt to proceed further; but the armies of the Franks assail them and gain the victory; the barbarians were put to flight.
A. 882. After a year the aforesaid army passed into the upper districts of the Maese and measured out their camp at a place called Escelum.63 In the same year king Alfred put to sea and fell in with four ships; which he defeated, and destroyed two, the others surrendered.
A. 883. The next year the aforesaid army entered the parishes of the Scald,64 to a place called Cundath;65 and there measured out their camp for the winter.
A. 884. After one year had expired, that pestilential army aforesaid removed to the higher districts of the Somme, to a place called Embenum,66 and there wintered.
A. 885. After a year they divide themselves into two parts: one to Sofenum,67 the other to Rochester; and they laid siege to those towns. They also construct other smaller camps. Defeat prevails among the inhabitants until the arrival of king Alfred with an army. The foul plague was vanquished, and sought reinforcement ....68 Some of them made for the sea-coasts. The same year they renewed their [p.33] league, and gave hostages to the English, and twice in the year they counted the spoil which they had obtained by fraud, in the land which borders on the southern bank of the Thames. The filthy crew which were then in possession of the East Angles, suddenly removed to a place called Bamfleet; and there the allied band divided; some of them remained, and some of them went beyond the sea. In the same year, therefore, the aforesaid king Alfred sent his fleet into the country of the East Angles, and immediately on their arrival, there met them at a place called Stourmouth sixteen ships, which they forthwith ravaged, and slew the captains with the sword. The rest of the pirate-crew met them; they ply their oars, their armour shines over the constrained waters, the barbarians obtain the victory. In the same year died Charles the Magnificent king of the Franks, cut off by death before the revolution of one year; after him came his uterine brother who ruled over the western coasts of Gaul. Both were sons of Louis, who had formerly possessed the sole sovereignty: his life had reached its termination during the eclipse of the sun aforesaid. He was son of the great king Charles, whose daughter Ethel wulf king of the English had taken to wife. In the course of that year, a great number of barbarians landed and filled the coasts of the Old Saxons; two battles were fought soon after: the Saxons were the victors, and the Frisons also were present in the contest. In the same year Charles the Younger succeeded to the sovereignty of all the western parts of Gaul as far as the Tyrrhenian sea, and, if I may so speak, of the dominions of his grandfather, except the province of the Lidwiccas.69 His father was Lodwicus, brother of the middle Charles whose daughter was married to Ethelwulf king of the English. And both of these were sons of Lodwicus, namely, Lodwicus was son of Charlemagne who was the son of Pepin.
In the same year died the blessed pope Martin,70 who also gave freedom to the school of the English, by the appointment of king Alfred, and sent as a present part of the thrice blessed cross of Christ, who is the salvation of the world. In the course of that year, the above-named pestilential crew broke their engagements, and marched in arms against king Alfred.
Lastly, after a year, they went to the lower parts of Gaul, and fixed on a
place to winter near the river Seine. Meanwhile, the city of London was
fortified by king Alfred, whom no civil discord could subdue, either by cunning
or by force: all men received him as a saviour, and particularly the
Saxons—except the barbarians—and those who were then held prisoners in their
hands. Also, after his army was strengthened, Ethered was appointed leader there
by the aforesaid king, to guard the citadel.
A. 887. Now the army which were at that time ravaging the country of Gaul cut their way through the bridge of the citadel of Paris, and devastated the whole country along the Seine, as far as the Marne, and above its vertex, as far as Catsig [Chezy], where they thrice fixed their winter quarters. In the same year also died Charles, king of the Franks, and his cousin Arnulf succeeded to the kingdom, seven years before his uncle's death. The kingdom was then divided into five, and so many kings in the same: but all things are done by the permission of king Arnulf, and they promised to be all under his subjection, because they were not like him, descended from the paternal stock; and he lived after this on the eastern side of the river Rhine. But Rodulf occupied the middle parts of the kingdom, Oda the western parts, and Beorngar with Witha held the kingdom of the Lombards from the division of the Jovian mountain.71 There they began a civil war; people assailed people; the lands of both were continually disturbed, nor was there any hope of quiet.
The same year, in which the barbarians had settled on the bridge of Paris, duke Ethelhelm received no small part of the money paid from the diocese of the English by the king for the people, and went to Rome. In the same year died queen Ethelswith.
A. 888. In the lapse of the same year also, archbishop Athelred deceased, and Ethelwold, commander in Kent.
A. 889. After one year, abbat Bernhelm carried to Rome the alms for the people, and principally those of the western English and of king Alfred. Then also Gothrun, king of the northern English, yielded his breath to Orcus; he had taken the name of Athelstan, as he came out of the baptismal laver, from his godfather, king Alfred, and had his seat [p.35] among the East-Angles, since he there also had held the first station.
In the same year, the aforesaid army of barbarians removed from the river Seine to a place called Santlaudah,72 situated between the Bretons and the Franks; but the Bretons met them in arms, and obtained the victory, and followed them to the windings of a certain river, and there not a few of them were drowned in the waters.
A. 891. One year afterwards, the bands of the aforesaid army visited the eastern parts of France; king Arnulf met them; a fight of cavalry took place before the fleets arrived. An army of eastern Franks came up, Saxons and Bavarians; the pagans spread their sails to flee. In the same year, three chosen men of Hibernian race, burning with piety, leave their country: they privately form a boat by sewing ox-hides; they put into it provisions for a week; they sail seven days and seven nights, and arrive on the shores of Cornwall: here they left their fleet, which had been guided, not by the strength of their arms, but by the power of Him who rules all things, and set out for the court of king Alfred, who with his senate rejoice in their coming. From thence they proceed to Ecme, and, as is customary with teachers of Christ, they essay to go thence to Jerusalem: ....73 Their names were, Dubslane, the first; Macbeth, the second; Maelinmun, the third, flourishing in the arts, skilled in letters, and a distinguished master of the Scots. Also in the same year, after Easter a comet appeared, which some think to be an omen of foul times, which have already past: but it is the most approved theory of philosophers, that they foretel future things, as has been tried in many ways.
A. 893. One year after the barbarians fought against king Arnulf, they go to Boulogne, and there build a fleet, and pass over into England. There they station their fleet in the Limnean port, at a place called Apoldre [Appledore, in the eastern part of Kent,] and destroy an ancient castle, because there was but a small band of rustics within, and there they make their winter camp. In the course of this year, a large fleet belonging to Hasten arrives on the banks of the river Thames, [p.36] and found a citadel on the coasts of Kent, at a place called Middleton [Milton]: they encamp there the whole winter; and the number of years that had elapsed from the glorious nativity of our Saviour was nine hundred, all but seven.
After the Easter of that year, the army which had come from Gaul leave their camp, and trace the intricacies of a certain immense wood, which is called Andred, and they extend as far as the Western Angles. Slowly as they go, they ravage the adjoining provinces, Hampshire and Berkshire: these things were told to the heir of Edward, son of king Alfred, who had been exercising himself in the southern parts of England. After this they reach the Western Angles, who meet then with threatening arms and dense array at Farnham: they exult, freed by the arrival of the prince, like sheep under the protection of the shepherd; the tyrant is wounded, and his troops are driven across the river Thames into the northern countries.
Meanwhile, the Danes are held besieged in Thorney isle. Earl Ethered, setting out from the city of London, lent his aid to the prince. The barbarians asked peace and a treaty: hostages are given, they promise by oath to leave the kingdom of the aforesaid king; their words and deeds agree together without delay. Lastly, they set out for the country of the East-Angles, formerly governed by the king Saint Edmund, and their ships fly round to them from the Limnean port to Meresige [Mersey], a place in Kent.
In the course of the same year, Hasten breaks away with his band from Bamfleet, and devastates all Mercia, until they arrive at the end of Britain. The army, which was then in the eastern part of the country, supplied them with reinforcements, and the Northumbrian, in the same way. The illustrious duke Ethelm, with a squadron of cavalry, and duke Ethelnoth, with an army of Western-Angles, followed behind them, and Ethered, earl of the Mercians, pressed after them with great impetuosity. The youth of both people join battle, and the Angles obtain the victory. These things are said by ancient writers to have been done at Buttington, and the e«xertions of the Danes appeared futile; they again ratify peace, give hostages, and promise to leave that part of the country. In the same year Banaasuda,74 in Bamfleet, was [p.37] destroyed by the people, and they divide the treasure among them.
After this, Sigeferth, the pirate, lands from his fleet in Northumbria, and twice devastates the coast, after which he returns home.
A. 895. When two years were completed, from the time that an immense fleet came from Boulogne to Limnte, a town of the Angles, duke Ethelnoth set out from the western parts of the Angles, and goes from the city of York against the enemy, who devastate no small tracts of land in the kingdom of the Mercians, on the west of Stanford; i.e. between the courses of the river Weolod75 and a thick wood, called Ceoftefne.
A. 896. In the course of one year also, died Guthfrid, king of the Northumbrians, on the birth-day of Christ's apostle, St. Bartholomew, whose body is buried at York, in the high church.
A. 900. Meanwhile, after four years, from the time that the above-named king died, there was a great discord among the English, because the foul bands of the Danes still remained throughout Northumberland. Lastly, in the same year, king Alfred departed out of this world, that immoveable pillar of the Western Saxons, that man full of justice, Dold in arms, learned in speech, and, above all other things, imbued with the divine instructions. For he had translated into his own language, out of Latin, unnumbered volumes, of so varied a nature, and so excellently, that the sorrowful book of Boethius seemed, not only to the learned, but even to those who heard it read, as it were, brought to life again. The monarch died on the seventh day before the solemnity of All Saints, and his body rests in peace in the city of Winton. Pray, reader, to Christ our Redeemer, that he will save his soul!
Chap. IV.—Of the reign of king Edward, and of his wars.
A. 901. The successor to the throne was Edward, son of the above-named king. He
was elected by the nobles, and crowned with the royal crown on Whitsunday, one
hundred years having elapsed since his great grandfather, Egbert,
[p.38] had gained his present territories. In the same year Ethelbald received, in the
city of London, the bishopric of the city of York; and, it appears, that the
number of years completed, since Christ came in the flesh, was nine hundred
A. 902. After two years was the battle of Holme.76
Five days after the festival of the blessed mother, they lock together their shields, brandish their swords, and vibrate their lances in both hands. There fell duke Siwulf and Sigelm, and almost all the Kentish nobility: and Eohric, king of the barbarians, there descended to Orcus: two princes of the English, in the flower of their youth, there yield up the breath of life, and explore the foreign regions, under the waves of Acheron, and numbers of full-grown men fall on both sides. The barbarians remain victors, and triumph on the field of battle.
A. 905. At length, after three years, the number of years completed since the beginning of the world, was six thousand and one hundred.
A. 908. After three years archbishop Plegmund inaugurized, in the city of Winchester, a lofty tower, which had been recently founded in honour of Mary, the mother of God. The pontiff aforesaid, in the course of the same year, carried to Rome the alms for the people, and for king Edward.
A. 909. After one year the barbarians break their compact with king Edward, and with earl Ethered, who then ruled the provinces of Northumberland and Mercia. The lands of the Mercians are laid waste on all sides by the hosts aforesaid, as far as the streams of the Avon, where begins the frontier of the West-Saxons and the Mercians. Thence they pass over the river Severn into the western regions, and gained by their devastations no little booty. But when they had withdrawn homewards, rejoicing in their rich spoils, they passed over a bridge on the eastern side of the river Severn, at a place commonly called Cantabridge,77 the troops of the Mercians and West-Saxons met them: a battle ensued, [p.39] and in the plain of Wodnesfield the English obtained the victory: the Danish army fled, overwhelmed by the darts of their enemies: these things are said to have been done on the fifth day of August; and their three kings fell there in that turmoil or battle, namely, Halfdene, Ecwils, and Hingwar: they lost their sovereignty, and descended to the court of the infernal king, and their elders and nobles with them.
A. 910. After one year, Ethered, who survived of the Mercians, departed this life, and was buried peacefully in the city of Gloucester.
A. 912. After two years, died Athulf in Northumbria; he was at that time commander of the town called Bebbanburgh.78
A. 913. After a year, a fleet entered the mouth of the river Severn, but no severe battle was fought there that year. Lastly, the greater part of that army go to Ireland, formerly called Bretannis by the great Julius Caesar.
A. 914. After one year, the day of Christ's nativity fell on a Sunday; and so great was the tranquillity of that winter, that no one can remember anything like it either before or since.
A. 917. After three years, Ethelfled the king's sister departed this life, and her body lies buried at Gloucester.
A. 926. Also in the ninth year died Edward, king of the English. This was the end; his name and his pertinacity here ceased.
Chap. V.—Of the reign of king Athelstan, his wars and deeds.
A. 926. The year in which the stout king Athelstan gained the crown of the
kingdom, was the nine hundred and twenty-sixth from the glorious incarnation of
A. 939. Therefore, after thirteen years, a fierce battle was fought against the barbarians at Brunandune,79 wherefore that fight is called great even to the present day: then the barbarian tribes are defeated and domineer no longer; they are driven beyond the ocean: the Scots and Picts also bow the neck; the lands of Britain are consolidated together, on all sides is peace, and plenty of all things, nor ever did a fleet again come to land except in friendship with the English.
A. 941. Two years afterwards the venerated king Athelstan died.
Chap. VI.—Of the reign of king Edmund.
After him Edmund succeeded to the neglected kingdom.
A. 948. After seven years, therefore, bishop Wulfstan and the duke of the Mercians expelled certain deserters, namely, Reginald and Anlaf from the city of York, and gave them into the king's hand. In the same year died also queen Elfgiva, wife of king Edmund, and afterwards was canonized. In her tomb, with God's assistance, even to the present day, miracles are performed in the monastery called Shaftesbury. In the same period also died king Edmund on the solemnity of Augustine the Less, who also was the apostle of the English: and he held the kingdom six years and a half.
Chap. VII.—Of the reign of king Edred.
Edmund's successor was Edred his brother, to whom all the Northumbrians became subject; and the Scots also give oaths of allegiance and immutable fidelity. Not long after these things he also departed in peace, on the birthday of the blessed pope and martyr Clement. He had held the kingdom nine years and half.
Chap. VIII.—Of king Edwy.
His successor to the throne was Edwy, who, on account of his great personal beauty, was called Pankalus by the people. He held the sovereignty four years, and was much beloved.
Chap. IX.—Of the reign of king Edgar.
A. 959. After this, Edgar was crowned, and he was an admirable king.
Moreover from the nativity of our Lord and Saviour was then completed the number of 973 years.
HERE HAPPILY ENDS THE FOURTH BOOK OF
QUESTOR AND PATRICIAN.
1 Ethelred died and Alfred succeeded him a.d. 871.
2 Baldwin, count of Flanders died a. d. 918. See Malmesbury, p. 121.
3 Arnulf, count of Flanders, a. d. 065,
4 The emperor Otho married Edgitha a.d. 930.
5 Lewis the blind.
6 The writer adds the barbarous verse, "Esto mihi valens cunctis perhenniter horis," which is as easy to construe as to scan.
7 Here follow several pages, in which the writer, like other annalists, deduces his history from the creation. It is now universally the custom with modern writers and translators to omit such preliminary matter.
8 There is evidently a hiatus in this passage, but see Bede i. 1 3, p. 22.
9 Urbs, "city," seems here rather to designate country or territory.
10 Otherwise called Vortigern.
11 More commonly called Wihtgils.
12 Capitulum in the original: but no number is annexed.
13 This should be Marcian and Valentinian.
14 Perhaps an error for Andredes-leage, formerly Anderida, in Sussex.
15 This number should be sixty-six.
16 Chorford, near Fordingbridge, Hants.
17 That is, from seven till nine o'clock in the morning,
18 Wimbledon, or Worplesdon, Surrey.
19 See William of Malmsbury, b. i. c. 1, p. 12, note.
20 a.d. 59b.
21 West-Saxons is the more correct term; but Ethelwerd often uses the more general name Angles or English, for all the tribes settled in England.
22 Orientales Angli is the expression of Ethelwerd, but it should be Orientates Saxones, whose king's name is generally written Sabert. See preceding note.
23 Ethelwerd adopts that system of chronology which makes 5300 to have elapsed before Christ.
24 Should be West-Saxons.
25 Most probably Bampton in Oxfordshire. This battle took place in 614. See the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for that year.
27 This should be "at Pionna," [Pen]. See Saxon Chronicle.
29 These names are both wrong; we must read Escwin.
30 Heathfield or Hatfield.
31 There is an error here: Caedwalla is omitted, and three years are lost in the chronology.
32 His name was Mull: the passage is obscure. See the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
33 Called Gerent in the Saxon Chronicle, and Gerentius in Aldhelm's works.
34 Should be Oswald king of Northumberland,
35 It is doubtful whether Bede died in 734 or 735.
36 Without doubt this is Burford in Oxfordshire.
37 Privett, Hampshire.
38 This is a sort of paraphrase rather than a translation: the original is not only bad in style and ungrammatical, but exceedingly corrupt and very obscure.
39 Now Axminster. The syllable an or en occurs similarly in many ancient Saxon towns; thus Bedanford, Oxenford, &c., and Seccandune, Reopaudune below.
40 Now Seckington.
41 Now Repton.
42 The term 'civile bellum'—civil war is used by Ethelwerd, to denote a battle between the kindred Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; the classical reader will also note the use of the word 'bellum' for 'proclium.'
43 This should be Ottanford, or Otford, in Kent, a place of great antiquity.
44 The Merscwari are thought to have been the inhabitants of Romner, in Kent, and its vicinity.
45 Near Rochester, Kent.
47 The Isle of Sheppey.
48 Hengston-hill, Cornwall.
49 Generally called Ethelwulf by modem writers.
50 Romney Marsh.
51 Near Plymouth.
52 Leo the Fourth.
53 Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
54 I shall be glad if my readers will find a better translation for this obscure and inflated passage.
55 See William of Malmesbury, b. ii. c. 3, p. 111, note.
57 I must again request the reader to pardon the obscurity which so frequently occurs in our author's style, and my inability to deal with such passages; the above is a tolerably close translation of the original.
58 Allington, Wiltshire.
59 Athelney, no longer an island is situated near Borough-bridge in Somersetshire.
60 Easter Day was the 23rd of March in the year 878.
62 Some suppose that this is Aller near Athelingay, or Athelney; but Athelney itself is called Alney by the common people: it is therefore more likely that Athelingay and Alney were the same place, as they are at present.
63 Aschloha, or Ascloha, is on the Maese, about fourteen miles from the Rhine.
64 The Scheldt.
66 More commonly Ambiani, now Amiens.
68 I acknowledge my inability to translate this and many other passages of the obscure author. The events which here follow for the next half page are referred by the Saxon Chronicle to the year 894.
69 Armorica, or Bretagne.
70 This should be Marinus, not Martinus.
71 Mount St. Barnard.
72 Saint Lo.
73 I omit this obscure passage rather than run the risk of misleading the reader by an inaccurate translation of it.
74 This must he the fortress which Hasten's men built in Bamfleet.
75 Welland, Northamptonshire.
76 The particulars recorded in this passage, concerning the battle of Holme, are ascribed, by Florence of Worcester and the Saxon Chronicle, to another battle, fought three years later. This caused Petrie to suppose, that the paragraph in question had slipped out of its real place.
77 Cambridge, in Gloucestershire.
79 Brumby, Lincolnshire.