The Northern Way

Part 3: A.D. 920 - 1014

Page 2

A.D. 941. This year King Athelstan died in Glocester, on the sixth day before the calends of November, about forty-one winters, bating one night, from the time when King Alfred died. And Edmund Atheling took to the kingdom. He was then eighteen years old. King Athelstan reigned fourteen years and ten weeks. This year the Northumbrians abandoned their allegiance, and chose Anlaf of Ireland for their king.

((A.D. 941. This year King Edmund received King Anlaf at baptism; and that same year, a good long space after, he received King Reginald at the bishop's hands.))

A.D. 942. Here

          Edmund king,
          of Angles lord,
          protector of friends,
          author and framer
          of direful deeds.
          o'erran with speed
          the Mercian land.
          whete'er the course
          of Whitwell-spring,
          or Humber deep,
          The broad brim-stream,
          divides five towns.
          Leicester and Lincoln.
          Nottingham and Stamford,
          and Derby eke.
          In thraldom long
          to Norman Danes
          they bowed through need,
          and dragged the chains
          of heathen men;
          till, to his glory,
          great Edward's heir,
          Edmund the king,
          refuge of warriors,
          their fetters broke.

A.D. 943. This year Anlaf stormed Tamworth; and much slaughter was made on either hand; but the Danes had the victory, and led away with them much plunder. There was Wulfrun taken, in the spoiling of the town. This year King Edmund beset King Anlaf and Archbishop Wulfstan in Leicester; and he might have conquered them, were it not that they burst out of the town in the night. After this Anlaf obtained the friendship of King Edmund, and King Edmund then received King Anlaf in baptism; and he made him royal presents. And the same year, after some interval, he received King Reynold at episcopal hands. This year also died King Anlaf.

A.D. 944. This year King Edmund reduced all the land of the Northumbrians to his dominion, and expelled two kings, Anlaf the son of Sihtric, and Reynold the son of Guthferth.

A.D. 945. This year King Edmund overran all Cumberland; and let it all to Malcolm king of the Scots, on the condition that he became his ally, both by sea and land.

A.D. 946. This year King Edmund died, on St. Augustine's mass day. That was widely known, how he ended his days: -- that Leof stabbed him at Pucklechurch. And Ethelfleda of Damerham, daughter of Alderman Elgar, was then his queen. And he reigned six years and a half: and then succeeded to the kingdom Edred Atheling his brother, who soon after reduced all the land of the Northumbrians to his dominion; and the Scots gave him oaths, that they would do all that he desired.

A.D. 947. This year came King Edred to Tadden's-cliff; and there Archbishop Wulfstan and all the council of the Northumbrians bound themselves to an allegiance with the king. And within a little space they abandoned all, both allegiance and oaths.

A.D. 948. This year King Edred overran all Northumberland; because they had taken Eric for their king; and in the pursuit of plunder was that large minster at Rippon set on fire, which St. Wilferth built. As the king returned homeward, he overtook the enemy at York; but his main army was behind at Chesterford. There was great slaughter made; and the king was so wroth, that he would fain return with his force, and lay waste the land withal; but when the council of the Northumbrians understood that, they then abandoned Eric, and compromised the deed with King Edred.

A.D. 949. This year came Anlaf Curran to the land of the Northumbrians.

A.D. 951. This year died Elfeah, Bishop of Winchester, on St. Gregory's mass day.

A.D. 952. This year the Northumbrians expelled King Anlaf, and received Eric the son of Harold. This year also King Edred ordered Archbishop Wulfstan to be brought into prison at Jedburgh; because he was oft bewrayed before the king: and the same year the king ordered a great slaughter to be made in the town of Thetford, in revenge of the abbot, whom they had formerly slain.

A.D. 954. This year the Northumbrians expelled Eric; and King Edred took to the government of the Northumbrians. This year also Archbishop Wulfstan received a bishopric again at Dorchester.

A.D. 955. This year died King Edred, on St. Clement's mass day, at Frome.(41) He reigned nine years and a half; and he rests in the old minster. Then succeeded Edwy, the son of King Edmund, to the government of the West-Saxons; and Edgar Atheling, his brother, succeeded to the government of the Mercians. They were the sons of King Edmund and of St. Elfgiva.

((A.D. 955. And Edwy succeeded to the kingdom of the West- Saxons, and Edgar his brother succeeded to the kingdom of the Mercians: and they were the sons of King Edmund and of S. Elfgiva.))

A.D. 956. This year died Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, on the seventeenth day before the calends of January; and he was buried at Oundle; and in the same year was Abbot Dunstan driven out of this land over sea.

A.D. 958. This year Archbishop Oda separated King Edwy and Elfgiva; because they were too nearly related.

A.D. 959. This year died King Edwy, on the calends of October; and Edgar his brother took to the government of the West-Saxons, Mercians, and Northumbrians. He was then sixteen years old. It was in this year he sent after St. Dunstan, and gave him the bishopric of Worcester; and afterwards the bishopric of London.

          In his days
          it prosper'd well;
          and God him gave,
          that he dwelt in peace
          the while that he lived.
          Whate'er he did,
          whate'er he plan'd,
          he earn'd his thrift.
          He also rear'd
          God's glory wide,
          and God's law lov'd,
          with peace to man,
          above the kings
          that went before
          in man's remembrance.
          God so him sped,
          that kings and earls
          to all his claims
          submissive bow'd;
          and to his will
          without a blow
          he wielded all
          as pleased himself.
          Esteem'd he was
          both far and wide
          in distant lands;
          because he prized
          the name of God,
          and God's law traced,
          God's glory rear'd,
          both far and wide,
          on every side.
          Wisely he sought
          in council oft
          his people's good,
          before his God,
          before the world.
          One misdeed he did,
          too much however,
          that foreign tastes
          he loved too much;
          and heathen modes
          into this land
          he brought too fast;
          outlandish men
          hither enticed;
          and to this earth
          attracted crowds
          of vicious men.
          But God him grant,
          that his good deeds
          be weightier far
          than his misdeeds,
          to his soul's redemption
          on the judgment-day.

A.D. 961. This year departed Odo, the good archbishop, and St. Dunstan took to the archbishopric. This year also died Elfgar, a relative of the king, in Devonshire; and his body lies at Wilton: and King Sifferth killed himself; and his body lies at Wimborn. This year there was a very great pestilence; when the great fever was in London; and St. Paul's minster was consumed with fire, and in the same year was afterwards restored. In this year Athelmod. the masspriest, went to Rome, and there died on the eighteenth before the calends of September.

A.D. 963. This year died Wulfstan, the deacon, on Childermass- day; (42) and afterwards died Gyric, the mass-priest. In the same year took Abbot Athelwold to the bishopric of Winchester; and he was consecrated on the vigil of St. Andrew, which happened on a Sunday. On the second year after he was consecrated, he made many minsters; and drove out the clerks (43) from the bishopric, because they would hold no rule, and set monks therein. He made there two abbacies; one of monks, another of nuns. That was all within Winchester. Then came he afterwards to King Edgar, and requested that he would give him all the minsters that heathen men had before destroyed; for that he would renew them. This the king cheerfully granted; and the bishop came then first to Ely, where St. Etheldritha lies, and ordered the minster to be repaired; which he gave to a monk of his, whose name was Britnoth, whom he consecrated abbot: and there he set monks to serve God, where formerly were nuns. He then bought many villages of the king, and made it very rich. Afterwards came Bishop Athelwold to the minster called Medhamsted, which was formerly ruined by heathen folk; but he found there nothing but old walls, and wild woods. In the old walls at length he found hid writings which Abbot Hedda had formerly written; -- how King Wulfhere and Ethelred his brother had wrought it, and how they freed it against king and against bishop, and against all worldly service; and how Pope Agatho confirmed it with his writ, as also Archbishop Deusdedit. He then ordered the minster to be rebuilt; and set there an abbot, who was called Aldulf; and made monks, where before was nothing. He then came to the king, and let him look at the writings which before were found; and the king then answered and said: "I Edgar grant and give to-day, before God and before Archbishop Dunstan, freedom to St. Peter's minster at Medhamsted, from king and from bishop; and all the thorps that thereto lie; that is, Eastfield, and Dodthorp, and Eye, and Paston. And so I free it, that no bishop have any jurisdiction there, but the abbot of the minster alone. And I give the town called Oundle, with all that thereto lieth, called Eyot-hundred, with market and toll; so freely, that neither king, nor bishop, nor earl, nor sheriff, have there any jurisdiction; nor any man but the abbot alone, and whom he may set thereto. And I give to Christ and St. Peter, and that too with the advice of Bishop Athelwold, these lands; -- that is, Barrow, Warmington, Ashton, Kettering, Castor, Eylesworth, Walton, Witherington, Eye, Thorp, and a minster at Stamford. These lands and al the others that belong to the minster I bequeath clear; that is, with sack and sock, toll and team, and infangthief; these privileges and all others bequeath I clear to Christ and St. Peter. And I give the two parts of Whittlesey-mere, with waters and with wears and fens; and so through Meerlade along to the water that is called Nen; and so eastward to Kingsdelf. And I will that there be a market in the town itself, and that no other be betwixt Stamford and Huntingdon. And I will that thus be given the toll; -- first, from Whittlesey-mere to the king's toll of Norman-cross hundred; then backward again from Whittlesey-mere through Meerlade along to the Nen, and as that river runs to Crowland; and from Crowland to Must, and from Must to Kingsdelf and to Whittlesey-mere. And I will that all the freedom, and all the privileges, that my predecessors gave, should remain; and I write and confirm this with the rood-token of Christ." (+) -- Then answered Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and said: "I grant, that all the things that here are given and spoken, and all the things that thy predecessors and mine have given, shall remain firm; and whosoever breaketh it, then give I him God's curse, and that of all saints, and of all hooded heads, and mine, unless he come to repentance. And I give expressly to St. Peter my mass-hackle, and my stole, and my reef, to serve Christ." "I Oswald, Archbishop of York, confirm all these words through the holy rood on which Christ was crucified." (+) "I Bishop Athelwold bless all that maintain this, and I excommunicate all that break it, unless they come to repentance." -- Here was Bishop Ellstan, Bishop Athulf, and Abbot Eskwy, and Abbot Osgar, and Abbot Ethelgar, and Alderman Elfere; .Alderman Ethelwin, Britnoth and Oslac aldermen, and many other rich men; and all confirmed it and subscribed it with the cross of Christ. (+) This was done in the year after our Lord's Nativity 972, the sixteenth year of this king. Then bought the Abbot Aldulf lands rich and many, and much endowed the minster withal; and was there until Oswald, Archbishop of York, was dead; and then he was chosen to be archbishop. Soon after another abbot was chosen of the same monastery, whose name was Kenulf, who was afterwards Bishop of Winchester. He first made the wall about the minster, and gave it then the name of Peterborough, which before was Medhamsted. He was there till he was appointed Bishop of Winchester, when another abbot was chosen of the same monastery, whose name was Elfsy, who continued abbot fifty winters afterwards. It was he who took up St. Kyneburga and St. Kyneswitha, that lay at Castor, and St. Tibba, that lay at Ryhall; and brought them to Peterborough, and offered them all to St. Peter in one day, and preserved them all the while he was there.

((A.D. 963. This year, by King Edgar, St. Ethelwold was chosen to the bishoprick at Winchester. And the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Dunstan, consecrated him bishop on the first Sunday of Advent; that was on the third before the kalends of December.))

A.D. 964. This year drove King Edgar the priests of Winchester out of the old minster, and also out of the new minster; and from Chertsey; and from Milton; and replaced them with monks. And he appointed Ethelgar abbot to the new minster, and Ordbert to Chertsey, and Cyneward to Milton.

((A.D. 964. This year were the canons driven out of the Old- minster by King Edgar, and also from the New-minster, and from Chertsey and from Milton; and he appointed thereto monks and abbots: to the New-minster Ethelgar, to Chertsey Ordbert, to Milton Cyneward.))

A.D. 965. This year King Edgar took Elfrida for his queen, who was daughter of Alderman Ordgar.

A.D. 966. This year Thored, the son of Gunner, plundered Westmorland; and the same year Oslac took to the aldermanship.

A.D. 969. This year King Edgar ordered all Thanet-land to be plundered.

ENDNOTES:

(41) So I understand the word. Gibson, from Wheloc, says -- "in aetatis vigore;" a fact contradicted by the statement of almost every historian. Names of places seldom occur in old MSS. with capital initials. Back

(42) i.e. the feast of the Holy Innocents; a festival of great antiquity. Back

(43) i.e. the secular clergy, who observed no rule; opposed to the regulars, or monks. Back

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